Neville Longbottom and the Potions N.E.W.T.
By Blue Moon
Characters owned by J.K. Rowling, not me. Please don't sue.
Having failed to pass his Potions O.W.L, Neville Longbottom was determined to pass his Potions N.E.W.T. He would do anything to wipe that smirk of Professor Snape's ugly face. So he started studying.
The whole summer between fifth and sixth years, Neville read every potions book he could lay his hand on. Acting on advice from Hermione Granger, he made Muggle style flash cards to help him memorize the properties of all the Potion ingredients that they had used in first year. Hermione's theory was that if he understood what the ingredients did and why, he would have a better time remembering what to use for any given effect.
Neville was not allowed to do magic between school terms, so (again on Hermione's advice) he begged until his Gran relented and allowed him to buy a Muggle chemistry set. He couldn't really practice potions, but he could practice preparing ingredients.
His chemistry experiments went so well that he talked his Gran into letting him try his hand at cooking. That will well, all things considered. He only melted three cauldrons and two frying pans, and, unless you count his Gran occasionally sprouting pink feathers from her ears, his food was actually pretty harmless.
Sixth year was a nightmare, Neville's single minded devotion to Potions sent all his grades, except Herbology, into the toilet. He barely managed to pass. His Potions' grade, however, showed marked improvement. It went from abysmal to merely dismal. This was due mostly to his spending all his free time in the library, researching potion ingredients and Potions. To Neville, it would be worth sacrificing all his other grades if only he could wipe that smirk off Professor Snape's ugly face.
The summer between sixth and seventh years was spent, not only on Potion ingredients, but on the various memory exercises that Hermione had (guess what) read about.
Seventh year was Neville's best. Thanks to the memory exercises, all his grades came up until they were well above average. His Potions grade showed the most improvement. Through sheer dogged determination, he'd managed to memorize most of the effects of common and not so common ingredients. At one point, he'd even begged the use of Harry's Invisibility Cloak so he could sneak into the Restricted Section of the Library to investigate some of the really esoteric ingredients.
By the end of Neville's seventh year, he had done what many had thought was impossible. He had brought his Potions grade up almost to the level of his Herbology grade. The strain caused him to lose sleep, miss meals and lose enough weight that by the end of the year, he was unrecognizable as the pudgy first year who had always lost his toad.
Snape was still smirking at him, though, so Neville put all his focus on one final push: The Potions N.E.W.T.
Of course, Snape didn't give them any help at all in studying, he didn't give them a clue as to what potion they might be tested on. However, when Snape announced the potion they had to create, a beautifying potion, Neville just grinned. He was as prepared as Hermione Granger… maybe even more so, since she had been distracted by other problems, like helping Harry in his final battle against Voldemort.
Neville had only been peripherally aware of that battle, engrossed as he was in his Potions research. Since Harry showed up for his Potion N.E.W.T., however, Neville assumed that Voldemort had lost.
He didn't have any time to think about the matter. A beautifying potion was one of the most demanding. After all, it was easy to make things ugly, but very difficult to make things look beautiful. He had to work hard to concentrate, especially when Snape came around with his usual sneer. But, even though Snape made sarcastic comments into Neville's ear, the Potion Master had been impressed enough by Neville's progress to cast only a cursory glance at the bubbling liquid in Neville's cauldron.
Which is why Snape was taken totally by surprise when Neville's potion blew up.
The potion did what it was supposed to, no doubt about that. Did its job and a lot more, too. All acne in the dungeon was instantly cleared up. Ron, three cauldrons away, lost his freckles for a day. Harry, two cauldrons away, had his glasses broken, but his scar disappeared for two days. Hermione, who'd been the next cauldron over, had her robe shredded. She herself was transformed into a statuesque beauty whose charms would be the cause of many a daydream and many a cold shower over the next four days, until she'd reverted back to her usual self. (Which meant that she would star in the daydreams of only Ron and Neville.)
These transformations went unnoticed for several minutes. (Something Hermione would forever be grateful for, as it gave her time to make sure she was decently covered.) The attention of every seventh year Gryffindor and Slytherin had been firmly, even hysterically, focused on Professor Snape, who had been standing between the cauldron and Neville.
Snape had been turned into a fountain of surpassing beauty: A stream of crystal clear water spouted from Cupid's-bow lips. His chiseled, classically handsome features held an expression of rapture. Gold leaf skin covered his godlike body. And it was easy to see that his body was perfectly proportioned because every last stitch of clothing had been shredded into confetti. He stayed that way for a solid eight days, and somehow made the front cover of Witch Weekly.
Neville Longbottom did not gain his coveted N.E.W.T in Potions.
And so, they parted ways at the Kings Crossing with many a tear and laugh.
"Good-bye, Lavender! Seamus! Be sure to invite me to the wedding!"
"Bye, Parvati, don't forget to owl!"
"Hey, Hermione, read any good books lately?"
"Ron, go eat a ton-tongue toffee."
"Oy, Harry, congratulations on surviving You-Know-Who!"
"I wonder who took that picture of Snape anyway?"
Neville had to grin at that last one.
"Say, Neville, congratulations," Harry said.
Neville raised a blond eyebrow. "For what?"
Harry grinned, green eyes sparkling behind his new glasses. "On the results of your Potions test," he explained. "So, how long did it take you to come up with that, anyway?"
Neville gasped with surprise, then put an almost convincing innocent expression on his face. "Really, Harry, do you suppose anybody would deliberately fail a N.E.W.T.?"
Harry's grin broadened, then he forced it from his face. "Of course, Neville, silly of me to suggest such a thing. I was just reminded of an old muggle saying."
Neville raised an eyebrow.
And Harry answered the unspoken question. "Beware the wrath of a patient man." He clapped Neville on the shoulder and said. "Good luck, Neville, I hope we manage to keep in touch."
"Thanks, Harry, you, too." Neville watched as Harry walked over to join his godfather. Then he took out the picture of Snape and smiled at it. It was nice that at least one person knew the truth, he decided. No matter what successes and failures lay ahead of him, he'd always have the memory that he had most definitely wiped that smirk off Snape's face.