5 Times Hermione Granger saved Neville Longbottom's life.
It was in potions class. The day outside was bright and sunny, at least by Scottish standards, but Severus Snape brought his own chilling fog. With Snape, the climate was always the same; putrid with a chance of bitterness and hate. Every time he passed a student, he seemed to project a sense of despair and hopelessness; a dementor that a Patronus charm could not neutralize. The first years in the previous gave Harry Potter and the other Gryffindors looks of terror as they filed out quickly.
This time the potion was complex anti-venom, meant to neutralize the strongest toxins when mixed properly. The venom in this case was concentrated taipan venom, which Snape demonstrated on a rat he conjured up. Ron Weasley and Harry looked at each other knowingly, but directly behind them Parvati Patil and Lavender Brown whimpered and covered their eyes. At his seat, Neville Longbottom could make out each twitch of the dying rodent as it writhed and gasped violently before becoming very, very still. It was as if Snape was deliberately killing something just to intimidate the students. Even the Slytherins looked at their head of house with unabashed terror.
He drawled out the ingredients. Bezoar gravel. Gryphon claw sheath filings. Wolfsbane shredded by a silver knife. Frankincense soaked in vinegar and then powdered. Unicorn horn fiber dissolved by acid. Of course, as Snape would say, not in that order you idiot. And, of course, students were to get to the infirmary by themselves. Snape would not lift a long, bony finger. And, of course, each student had to work by themselves.
As usual, Neville found himself trembling and messing up each and every ingredient. The gravel wouldn't dissolve. The filings got stuck on the sides of the cauldron. The wolfsbane came out in irregular shreds. The Frankincense was entirely dissolved in the vinegar. The Unicorn fiber was still stringy. Nothing went right. He was tempted to ask Hermione, who was sitting next to him, but considering that she seemed to have trouble herself judging by the way she kept checking and re-checking the instructions. Neville realized a bit too late that he should have thought of that before.
Before Neville could ask for new ingredients, Snape made an announcement that condemned him to a horrible death.
"Time's up. Everyone must taste their potion now. Failure to do so will result in a failing grade for today's lesson"
Neville stared into the cauldron, which was still shifting colors from an electric pink to a sickly shade of maroon and then to lively tangerine in a matter of seconds. He just hoped Trevor would find a happy home. Gran would be very disappointed in him, but again, that would be usual for him. Still, he had hoped to die a bit less ignominiously and after he had told his parents one last goodbye. It didn't matter anyway. It's not as if they would understand.
Hermione saying his name broke him from his thoughts. He turned towards her, still pale from fear.
"Neville, put this in your mouth. Don't swallow it. It'll neutralize the poison. Quickly" She whispered quickly as Hermione shoved a foul-tasting stone into his mouth. She looked around, hoping Snape wasn't paying attention. Fortunately, it seems as if he was busy reading a ragged-edged book on the Dark Arts. Just in time Hermione turned back to her rather more successful cauldron, as Snape finally put down his book and stood up.
"Time's up. Mix the potion with the vials of poison on your right and drink it. I will be watching to make sure every mixture is ingested with the potion", Snape made sure each and every word came out as clear as possible, and at the last word, looked pointedly at Neville. Neville in turn looked at Hermione, finally realizing exactly what she was risking. If Snape found out, both of them would lose whatever points Snape allowed them, and, if the potions master had his way, they would be expelled from the school.
After mouthing a prayer, Neville poured the venom into the cauldron. Even the trickling noise the liquid made was sickening and menacing as it poured into the cauldron and released a shower of multicolored dust that blew into his face. Coughing and choking on the stone before managing to get the dust out of his eyes and the stone back into his cheeks, Neville finally drank the noxious potion.
Suddenly, his mind turned into a dream that usually was preceded by his gran's chive-and-honey muffins. The retching of the other students was replaced by the dull roar of the blood inside his head (according to Hermione, this was the strange noise that he heard whenever he held a seashell to his ear). The taste of the stone was mixed with the acidic, rancid, bitter taste of venom and botched potion. The sight of the ominous cauldron blurred; the bright colored clouds turned into even brighter streams like clouds carried by a hurricane.
He felt as if the dungeon has begun to spin, as if he had been hit by a jinx. He felt vomit coming up, but he fought it with all his might. Usually, he would have already began to throw up, but his loyalty to Hermione and his defiance of Snape finally made him swallow his bile (and the uncanny facsimile he had made in the past hour). The spinning sensation turned from his mouth to his stomach.
And then, just as violently as it began, the sensation subsided. The numbness melted away. The room slowly stabilized as he fell against the desk. His vision turned from the strange vision to a slowly more transparent haze with gold flecks dancing behind. He blinked away the flecks as the haze gradually coalesced.
With a cough, Neville spat out the bezoar, pocketed it, and looked around. Thankfully, Snape was too busy reading a black-bound book with yellowed pages, probably about poison or murder or something else Snape-related. When the potions master suddenly looked right at him, he almost panicked, but it was in reaction to Dean Thomas standing up.
"SorrysirIhavetogototheboy'sbathroomI'llberightback" he managed to blurt out before tearing out the classroom at full speed.
"Ten points from Gryffindor!" Snape called after him, then turned back to the class, "Anyone else need to leave the dungeon?"
"Nogh sighr!" Seamus managed to burble out as he quickly sat back down, drool coming in a torrent out of his mouth.
"You will clean that up after hours, Finnegan" Snape was not amused. A quick silence followed, no student daring to look at the professor or make a sound lest attracting his attention.
The silence was broken by a hacking cough to Neville's right.
"Hermione, are you all right?"
"I'm fine, Neville. Phew! It's just that it's a bit spicy now" she assured him, then coughed again.
Phew. Neville sighed in relief. Hermione risked her life (at the hands of both the poison and at the hands of their teacher), giving him that Bezoar. He would hate to have her suffer for his own problems.
"How did yours go, Neville?"
"Oh, I felt a little dizzy, but I'm okay now"
"Good. Harry, are you sure you don't need to go to the Hospital Wing?" She turned to her other companion.
"I'm fine. I just need to brush my teeth, that's all" Harry dismissed his now-blackened teeth, looking like he had either bit into a piece of coal or had pigged out of licorice. "It's just a stain".
"Just keep your mouth shut until the class is over, Harry" Ron quipped, ignoring his green skin.
"Same goes for you Weasley! Might as well put a bag over your head; you look ridiculous!" A high pitched voice from the other side of the class taunted with a shrill laugh.
All eyes were on Draco Malfoy, who suddenly covered his mouth.
"Is that my voice?" he squeaked, "Is that...my voice?"
The entire class burst into laughter.
"It's not funny! Shut up!" the suddenly squeaky Slytherin yelled.
They laughed even harder. Seamus no longer cared about the drool, spittle flying. Harry's blackened teeth gleamed in an open grin. Even Hermione cracked a smile.
"Serves him right" She said before turning back to the desk and beginning to write.
"SILENCE! 50 points from Gryffindor for this disruption!" Snape roared at the crowd, suddenly silencing them but for a few giggles.
"And 20 points from Slytherin for utter incompetence" he turned to glare at Malfoy, who almost stood up to speak up but at the last second stopped and sat back down.
The rest of Potions wrapped up soon afterward. The tittering and giggling at the results of the potions pretty much stopped any more lessons from getting through, and Snape ended the class early in sheer frustration. The potions master stalked out in a black rage before the students could collect themselves.
"So I'm going to go clean my teeth in the boy's bathroom" Harry said as the Gryffindors filed out with wide grins and barely stifled chuckles, "Amazing how no one got killed. What happened to you Neville? I didn't catch it"
"Oh, I just felt a little dizzy, that's all. For a moment there I was going to die, but somehow I made it." He glanced sideways at Hermione, who returned the look with a wink.
"You lucked out. I have to go to the hospital wing before Professor Sprout plants me." Ron quipped.
"You kind of look like a reverse carrot, Ron."
"Oh, go brush your teeth"
"I think the green goes well with your hair and your eyes"
"Really?" Ron looked hopefully at Hermione.
"Yeah, it's an improvement from the way you usually look" she teased.
Ron rolled his eyes as he followed Harry down the corridor. Neville, with the coast clear, put his hand on Hermione's shoulder to get her attention.
"It was the least I could do."
"Hermione, you saved my life. I don't know what to say"
"I did not" she protested, "Harry and Ron are just as bad, and all they got were little coloring charms"
"They've always been better than me at potions. I actually almost died. I could taste the venom itself. Face it, Hermione, I owe you my life"
"Yes, and how will that make you treat me differently?"
"Oh" Neville stopped, "I never thought of that"
"You're in my debt whether you like it or not" she taunted him
"I didn't say I had a problem with that"