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Small Victories: Task One Challenge by starryskies55
Chapter 1 : Neville and Hannah
 
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It was seven-thirty in the morning, a clock told me by the side of my hammock. I picked up the whirring Sneakascope which had woken me up, and stuffed it under my pillow. They were extremely active, especially here with the DA, so they served as a sort of danger alarm-clock. Yet another night had been spent in the Room of Requirement- there were reports of more staff than usual patrolling the corridors. Sometimes you could get lucky, and only see Flitwick or McGonagall, who were more likely to escort you back to the common room than punish you, but sometimes, just sometimes, you ran into a Carrow, and then it was considerably harder.


Neville Longbottom slept on the hammock next to me. His face was serene and calm as he lay there, untroubled by the worries that we now had. Honestly, sometimes I felt like I was twice my age, hardened by battle and scars. Seventeen year old girls should be stressing over exams or boys, not trying to protect the younger children. I should be worrying about taking up that job offer at the Leaky Cauldron next year, not whether I would be around to see next year. I had no doubt in my mind that eventually, Harry would return from whatever crevice he has secreted himself in, and fight Voldemort, one on one.


But at Hogwarts, we had our own battles to fight.


I rolled out of my hammock with no small amount of skill- those things are murderous if you aren’t used to them. The Gryffindor hangings were next to the Hufflepuff ones- so close that if you squint, it looks like the badger is hugging the lion. I smiled to myself at the image.


I made my way over to where a group of students were eating, either stolen food from the kitchens or from Aberforth in the Hog's Head. I had barely sat down with my plate of scrambled eggs, when Seamus Finnegan walked in, looking thoroughly pissed off.


“We can’t get into the Gryffindor common room- the Carrows are patrolling. We need to head them off somehow.”


As if on reflex, everyone’s head turned to see the Foe Glass propped up in the corner of the room. It was cracked and old, but even an unpractised eye could see the shadows gathering there, shuffling and becoming more solidly defined shapes. My insides contracted again in fear. Yet again, someone would have to risk themselves for the rest of us.


“I’ll do it,” said someone behind me. I jumped. It was Neville- I hadn’t heard him get up.


“I’ll help,” I heard myself say, and I stood up, leaving my eggs for someone else. What was I doing? I wasn’t entirely sure.


Neville looked surprised, but he acknowledged my help. “Where are the Carrows, Seamus?” he asked.


“Right outside the common room,” Seamus said. He clapped Neville on the back. “Good luck, you two!”


We left the Room of Requirement, and found ourselves on the fourth floor, quite near to the Gryffindor common room. A few flights of stairs later, and we found ourselves outside the common room. Nobody was there, and the corridors were silent.


“Where are they?” I asked, my voice hushed.


Neville put his finger to his lips and we started to walk down the corridor. Then a burst of purple light sped past me, and the Carrows jumped out from a nook in the wall, their wands pointed right at us. I drew my wand, and Neville already had his in his hand, shooting beams of light.


Crucio!” Amycus shouted, shooting a jet of red light at us. It must have been intended for Neville, as he was firing more spells off, but it came straight for me. I stood like a rabbit caught in headlights, unable to move as the spell came towards me- and then thunk, I fell to the floor.


Neville had knocked me out of the way, and crashed to the floor on top of me. He rolled off and staggered up, aiming his wand at Amycus.


Rosea oculus!” he yelled, but Alecto was faster.


Accio wand!” Alecto bellowed, and Neville’s wand sprang out of his hand, sailing across to land in Alecto’s outstretched hand.


Neville pulled me upright, grasping my hand tightly in his. I tried to give him my wand, but he waved it away, his face black with anger.


Alecto seemed unconcerned and even light-hearted as he chucked Neville’s wand up into the air, catching it again with ease. He tried to bend it a little, but the wand was stiff and inflexible, and instead snapped with a horrifying crack.


I had never seen anyone’s wand snapped before, and I instinctively held mine a little tighter. Without a wand, you were as good as a Muggle, no matter how much magical blood you had in your veins.


“That is my father’s wand,” Neville said through gritted teeth.


Amycus smiled, showing rotting yellow teeth. “Was,” she corrected. “It hasn’t done either of you much good then, has it?” she said with a smirk. The corridor had gone deathly quiet- so quiet I could hear Neville calming his breathing, ignoring the two pieces of his wand in Amycus’ hands.


“It was mahogany and phoenix feather, 13 inches and good for defensive spells,” Neville said suddenly, his clear voice surprising me and the Carrows.


Alecto’s face lights up in a twisted smile. “Defensive spells? The fire’s lit but the cauldron’s empty with Ollivander, isn’t it? He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”


“I think you talk a pile of crap myself, so we’ll have to agree to disagree, won’t we?” Neville said.


“Hannah,” he whispered, so low I thought I imagined it. I glanced at him, and he pointed upwards, disguising the movement with a scratch of his head.


I looked at the ceiling. It was high and curved, with stresses in the roof from old age and the antics of Peeves. It could clearly be seen where bits of stone had crumbled away. I immediately understood what Neville wanted me to do- but I had never performed a charm like that before.


I softly ran my fingers up and down my wand, feeling the smooth wood. Then I snapped my arm up, pointing it at the ceiling.


“EXPULSO!” I yelled forcefully. The power of the explosion pushed me and Neville backwards, stumbling out of the way of the falling debris. I coughed, but without even waiting for the dust to clear, we ran down the corridor like a whole colony of Blast-Ended Skrewts were after us. We were still holding hands, his fingers crushing mine. My heart was thudding in my chest, my breath came in quick, short gasps and I could feel the exhilaration that came from the adrenaline coursing through my veins. We’d made it- and who is to say we can’t do that again? For the first time since this war began, I began to see the light at the end. Who is to say we can’t win this war? Hogwarts wasn’t built in a day, and it’s the small victories that make a difference, that count towards the bigger picture.


I took one look back, before Neville and I disappeared out of sight. The corridor looked like a dragon had tried to remodel, with crushed stone and paintings torn from the walls. I couldn’t believe my spell could be so powerful, that I had contributed to the war, that I had made some small difference.


And now I walk up the aisle, towards to my husband-to-be, who has never looked more handsome in his whole life. If you look closely at his right cheek, there is a small silver scar- all that is left of our year with the Carrows. We chose to get married in a Muggle church to honour my mother, who died in my sixth year. I feel like she is watching me now, as Dad gives me away, putting my hand securely in Neville’s. The church is beautiful, the summer light streaming through the stained glass like golden breath from a dragon. I have never felt so new.


As we turn to face the Minister, the kindly-faced old man who was old when I was Christened and probably has no conception of what we went through to get here, I gently place a hand on my stomach. The new life that quickens there is a secret, but I cannot wait to tell Neville. Our lives have barely begun, and already I am so inexorably happy.



A/N: The proverb ‘Hogwarts wasn’t built in a day’ is adapted from ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, and also, ‘rosea oculus’ is latin for pink-eye, the colloquial term for conjunctivitis.


This story was written for Task One of the 2012 House Cup, and featured the following prompts (minimum five):


-features your House’s Champion


- mentions at least 1 Unforgivable Curse: ‘crucio’


- mentions a Blast-Ended Skrewt


- mentions 2 of the following types of magic: a transfiguration spell, a sleeping spell, the conjunctivitis curse, or the summoning charm (accio)


- mentions at least 2 of the following types of Dark Detectors: Foe-Glass, Sneakoscope, Secrecy Sensor, or Probity-Probe


- features a theme of flourishing in the face of adversity


- mentions the details of your Champion’s Wand (mahogany, phoenix feather, 13", inflexible, good for defensive spells)




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