Moody was looking very intently at Neville, this time with both eyes.
"Your name's Longbottom?" he said, his magical eye swooping to check the register again.
Neville nodded nervously, but Moody made no further comment.
-Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, (page 189).
(- If I owned Harry Potter I wouldn't have to cite it)
Because I like to imagine even fictional baddies have their moments.
He didn't want to go to Azkaban. There was no shame in admitting that. The Dementors, the wailing – some of it his own – and that feeling. The feeling, like his life was being sucked dry with every breath. Never mind how hard it was to stay in the here and the now. How hard it was not to be sucked into memories, awful memories, and know that you're losing your mind, every second you spend in that place you are losing bits of yourself.
No, he didn't want to return to Azkaban. He never wanted to see another Dementor again. He thanked his Mother for her sacrifice every moment of every day.
His Father, however, was not on his list of favorite people. No, he was up there with the cowards and traitors who ran and hid from their Lord in his one hour of need. But, he allowed a sadistic smile to creep across his newly grizzled face, they will pay, and he will be rewarded for his loyalty. Because only he, the Dark Lord's most faithful servant, and a few others, sought him out.
It was just faulty information that led them to the Longbottoms. Because he could admit that they didn't know anything. No one, no matter how Gryffindor they truly were, could withstand that much torture and not talk. No one's values were really worth more than their sanity.
Which brought him to the class seated in front of him. One boy in particular. Well two, but Potter wasn't worth getting worked up about just yet.
His round face was defiantly familiar, he had his Mother's nose, but neither of his parents had been quite so overweight so it was hard to tell.
It had been quite a surprise when the boy raised his hand and offered up information about the curse that had his parents dribbling in St. Mugo's.
He checked the register, one more time, just to be sure.
Last time he'd seen the boy he was crying in a crib. The world's a funny place.
He supposed, to be fair, he didn't really have to enlarge the spider. The red-head's reaction alone had been worth it, but the look on the Longbottom boy's face had rubbed up the wrong way with some part of his chest. The tortured expression on his face had been just that – tortured, and for some unknown reason he hadn't been able to keep it up.
Potter'd looked more thoughtful than horrified when he killed the spider. The way he should react. These kids act like they've been through something awful, but they haven't. Not to mention being on the wrong damn side. Pureblood family like the Longbottoms, it didn't have to happen the way it did.
But the boy's face while the spider twitched wasn't leaving his mind. He looked around, the eye was useful, and located the boy on the stairs. Now was as good a time as any, he supposed.
That was how he found himself steering the horrified boy into his office. The boy looked around, peering at the indefinable shapes in the foe-glass while he poured tea.
He handed a cup over to the boy, who looked quite relieved to have something to do with his hands.
"Lucky I didn't poison the tea, boy."
That was something the Aruror would say. He was having trouble adjusting; the leg was just impossible, and he still jumped a bit whenever he saw Alastor Moody staring at him in the mirror. Dumbledor was the only one he really had to convince, the paranoid old Aruror was so unpredictable he could do whatever he wanted, just so long as he yelled 'CONSTANT VIGILANCE' at least once every ten minutes.
Neville had jumped violently at the words, almost spilling the tea down his front. "Constant vigilance, boy. Pay more attention next time."
"Uh… yes sir."
He noticed the boy looking apprehensively at the tea as he took a long swig from his hip flask. Luckily the face he now wore was so twisted nobody noticed his grimace at the taste. Awful stuff, polyjuice. He'd suggested Snape, but the Dark Lord wasn't having any of it. Shame he didn't trust Snape anymore, the polyjuice situation could have been so much easier. But Snape was either a traitor or a coward, hiding under Dumbledor's wing, and he would see to it that he was punished.
The boy sitting across the desk was watching him, shifting uncomfortably.
"Sprout tells me you've got green fingers."
The boy glanced at his hands in alarm. Not as smart as the parents either. "Mean's you're good with plants, boy."
"Oh!" he flushed, "Well, thank you, sir."
"Well, are you good with plants?"
"Uh... I suppose so…"
He growled. The boy jumped half a foot again. "D'you like plants, boy?"
"Yes sir," he looked marginally more confidant, "It's my best subject."
"I've got some books you might like to have a look at."
"Oh, yes sir, please."
With an unfamiliar wand he summoned the herbology book. The one that devoted an entire chapter to gilyweed.
He passed it across the desk, the boy held it lightly, as if he was afraid to break it. Probably would, if any of the staff room talk's true.
"Play by your strengths, boy."
He looked baffled. Hopefully baffled enough to mention the phrase to Potter. It was a surprisingly satisfactory feeling, placing the seemingly random dots for others to connect.
"Good. Now you'd better be getting off to dinner."
"Oh! Yes sir." He was almost laughably enthusiastic to leave. He practically sprang from the chair. As he was half way to the door he turned, "And thank you, sir."
Taken aback he nodded his head, waving a scarred hand. "Your parents went down fighting. Hero's the both of them, don't you forget that."
After a tight nod the boy practically ran form the room.
Where the hell had that come from, anyway?
A/N – I was re-reading Goblet of Fire and I got to the scene where Neville goes with Moody and wow. That's a pretty insane situation. I'll admit Crouch is probably meaner in his thoughts, but there you go.
I don't think I got Neville right either, but as always, let me know what you think.