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mollywheezy in fics_by_mkf

One Shot: Alice, Augusta, Frank and Neville Longbottom

Title: Castle of Sand
Author/Artist: mollywheezy
Characters: Alice, Augusta, Frank, and Neville Longbottom; Rita Skeeter
Prompt number:

Viva la Vida by Coldplay - how did he/she go from ruling the world to bottom of the pile? (Any) (Friendly reminder that your characters must be from two different Houses!)
Word Count: 4150
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: implied sex, language
Summary: Frank and Alice Longbottom get their minds back, but have still lost almost everything . . . except their love.
Disclaimer: JKR owns the universe—I am only playing in her sandbox. ;) I also do not own "Viva la Vida" by Coldplay, and am not making any money from this.
Author’s Notes: Thank you to my awesome beta! And to the interhouse_fest mods for all of their hard work!






The Daily Prophet
November 10, 1981

Auror or Impostor?
By Rita Skeeter

Frank Longbottom and Alice McHughes have been known for years as the best Auror team the ministry has ever seen. As Head Boy and Head Girl at Hogwarts, from Gryffindor and Hufflepuff respectively, they were invited to train as Aurors straight out of school. After Alfred "Mad-Eye" Moody trained each of them, they were partnered together. Frank and Alice were affectionately called "The Gamblers" by their colleagues for taking so many risks that always paid off. They personally faced down He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and lived to tell the tale on three separate occasions. Death Eaters feared them above all others, with the possible exception of Mad-Eye. A confidential ministry source told this reporter Frank Longbottom was slated to be the next Head of the Auror Office. (Frank Longbottom, rather than Alice McHughes since there has never been a female Head of the Auror Office. This reporter would like to see that changed, but I digress.) Even without the official title of Head of Department, he ruled the world, or at least the Aurors. Every Auror would jump if Frank Longbottom gave the word.

But last night, everything changed. Frank and Alice were tortured into insanity with the Cruciatus Curse by the most faithful followers of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named—Bellatrix and Rodolphus Lestrange, Barty Crouch, Jr., et al. (For the story of the Barty Crouch scandal, see page 2.) As there is no known treatment or cure for Cruciatus Psychosis, Frank and Alice currently reside in St. Mungos, where, short of a miracle, they will remain for the rest of their lives.

The tragedy of the Longbottoms would end here, except this reporter uncovered much more to the story. Yes, I did say Longbottoms. Plural. Frank Longbottom and Alice McHughes were secretly married, in violation of Ministry of Magic policy, which does not permit Aurors to marry other Aurors, and Aurors who are partners are not allowed to be in any sort of romantic relationship with their partner. Violation of the anti-marriage clause would mean automatic dismissal from the Aurors for both Frank and Alice, but in addition, the couple secretly had a child. Frank and Alice hid Alice's pregnancy in violation of yet another law. Pregnant Aurors are not allowed in the field. Will the Ministry want their heads on a silver plate or will they be pardoned due to their current condition? Will the Ministry investigate all of Frank and Alice's cases again? If they lied about their marriage and hid the very existence of their son Nigel, what else have they been hiding? Was there ever an honest word from either of them? Does this scandal call into question every arrest they have made?

While Frank and Alice remain in St. Mungos, their son Nigel will stay with his grandmother Agatha Longbottom. Agatha was the first female Auror in the Ministry's employ and the partner of Mad-Eye Moody. She went on desk duty when she became pregnant with Frank and chose not to return from maternity leave. Although she followed the law previously, was Agatha aware of this atrocity committed by her son and his wife? And if so, will the Ministry prosecute her as well? This reporter will find out the answer to these and all other questions regarding this sad case.


~*~

Alice awoke with a start. Where was she? Where was Frank? She stared into the darkness for a moment to let the fuzziness clear from her head and to give her eyes a chance to adjust. She felt around herself as well. She was wearing a nightgown and seemed to be in a hospital bed, probably at St. Mungo's, she guessed, having been there often enough. Being an Auror was a dangerous job.

There were curtains drawn around her bed, but as Alice's eyes adjusted to the dark, she could see a swath of light coming from under a doorway, probably from the corridor outside the hospital room. She thought Frank must be nearby. If he was injured, too, they usually put them in the same room. If he hadn't been injured he would have been sitting right next to her. Alice got out of bed—she must have been injured quite badly based on how sore she felt—and pulled back the curtain only to see another curtain. She pulled that one back, too, and there was Frank, in a similar bed to hers. They never slept alone if they could avoid it, so Alice removed her nightgown, letting it fall to the floor, and climbed into bed with her husband. It was a tight fit on the narrow bed, but that gave her a good excuse to cuddle, which she did.

Frank turned his head toward Alice and said, "Hi."

"Hi yourself."

"Do you remember what happened?"

"Not at the moment. You?"

"No, but I'm not too fussed by it, honestly. We've briefly lost our memories before when we were cursed, and they came back."

"That's true. Actually I'm more concerned about how stiff I feel."

Alice ran her hand down her husband's chest, taking time to play in his chest hair before moving her hand lower. "Well, you’re not stiff yet but I can fix that."

Frank chuckled, and Alice made good on her promise.

~*~

Entwined together in bed, Frank and Alice awoke slowly as the sun streamed in through the window. Before they had time to become properly awake, a woman entered the room carrying a tray. She bustled around with her back to them.

Frank greeted her, "Good morning! I hope that's breakfast. I'm starving!"

With a shriek, the woman spun around and dropped the tray, staring agape at Frank and Alice.

"It looks like that was breakfast, but it’s okay. I'm sure you can get us another tray, yeah? Please? I'm hungry, too."

Without a word the woman fled from the room.

~*~

The doors to the waiting area of the Janus Thickey ward banged open as Neville Longbottom ran through. Skidding to a halt before two healers, he gasped, "Miriam! Augustus! What is going on? I just got a Patronus from my Gran . . ."

"Come with us, lad." Healer Miriam Strout steered Neville into a consultation room and gestured to a chair. Neville sat.

Healer Augustus Pye conjured a glass of water and handed it to Neville. "Breathe, Neville. And we'll explain. At lease what we can explain."

Both Healers sat down in chairs across from Neville's.

Augustus continued, "One of our trainees took breakfast to your parents yesterday morning, expecting to feed them. She dropped the tray and ran off when they spoke to her, seeming to be in their right minds."

Miriam continued, "I thought she just wasn't used to them. They have spoken occasionally. She's very new, and I didn't think feeding your parents would be too taxing for her. I honestly didn't believe what she said until I saw it for myself."

"Neville," Augustus took up the story, "Your parents are in their right minds. They have muscle weakness and soreness, but that seems to be going away rather quickly. We have never seen a case of Cruciatus Psychosis go away like this before, and we've both done some research, and can't find any other examples of it either."

"When did you have time to do research? You said she took them breakfast yesterday morning?"

Miriam answered, "We set some of our students the task of doing research, and we looked over it as we could. We were a tad busy yesterday, you know. We guess your parents woke up right after the Battle of Hogwarts, or possibly during, I'm not sure of the exact time. We only have someone check on them during the night if there's a problem."

Augustus continued, "We were unable to find you or your grandmother yesterday. We finally found Augusta, and she chose to wait to talk to you. It was very distressing to them to find out three of your grandparents have passed away, and they weren't there to say good-bye or for their funerals. Your parents also think you are a one-year-old, and we have yet to convince them otherwise. Augusta is with them now. She brought photo albums with her to show your parents your childhood and convince them almost seventeen years have passed. I told her to choose when she contacted you."

"I guess she decided on now." Neville shrugged.

"Are you okay, Neville? This is a lot to take in." Augustus put a bracing hand on Neville's shoulder.

"Yeah, I mean, I've hoped and prayed to have my parents back for years, and now they are. I know the adjustment won't be easy for them, but we just fought a battle to bring down Voldemort and the Death Eaters. That certainly wasn't easy. I know they can do it."

Augustus and Miriam nodded encouragingly. Miriam said, "It is possible your parents' memories of the past seventeen years could come back when they see you. Or hearing your voice could trigger something. Or they may never get their memories back, but will be able to make new ones. Whatever happens, it might be rather traumatic for all of you. I just want you to be prepared."

"We are in uncharted territory here, since no known person has ever recovered from Cruciatus Psychosis."

"Is it possible they didn't have Cruciatus Psychosis?"

"What do you mean?" Miriam asked.
"What else would they have had?" Augustus asked at the same time.

"I don't know what they would have had, but could it be possible Bellatrix Lestrange cast some wonky curse on them and the power of the curse broke when she died?"

Augustus chuckled. "Have you ever considered training as a Healer, Neville?"

Neville laughed, "Not interested, but thanks. I think I've been in St. Mungos enough for several lifetimes."

"Where did you get the idea of some other spell being cast? It's intriguing, and I'm not saying you're wrong, but I'm curious how you came up with it."

"Well, Miriam, my friend Harry was with Professor Dumbledore when he was killed, and Harry said Professor Dumbledore had put him in a full body bind to protect him, and the full body bind spell was removed upon Professor Dumbledore's death. I wondered if that could be what happened with my parents. I've seen Death Eaters use spells that nobody's heard of or seen before, so . . ." Neville trailed off.

"It's a possibility. Whatever caused them to come back to themselves we just wanted to make sure you were prepared. Are you ready to see them?"

Neville took a deep breath and nodded.

~*~

Neville quietly opened the door to the ward that housed his parents. He had been here more times than he could count, but this time felt different. He crept quietly across the ward, careful not to disturb the other patients, and listening intently. He could hear his Gran's voice but not discern words since she was speaking so softly. Right outside of his mother's curtain, Neville told himself firmly that he was a Gryffindor and walked in without pausing.

"Hi Gran. Mum? Dad? Hi . . .Er . . . It's me, Neville." Neville looked into each of his parents' eyes in turn. His dad's eyes looked blank, but his mum's filled with tears.

"Neville? Oh my goodness, Neville!" Alice jumped up from the bed and threw her arms around her son, sobbing.

Neville became rather teary-eyed as well as he and his mother clung to each other for several minutes. Then Alice pulled away slightly to look at Neville.

"When I heard your voice it's like . . . everything came back. I've watched you grow up from that hospital bed. I've missed so much . . ." Alice choked on a sob, "I've handed you rubbish gum wrappers for years thinking I was handing you gifts . . ." She began crying too hard to continue talking.

"Mum, it's OK." Neville started crying, too. "I knew what the gum wrappers meant, and I still have every one of them in a box in my room."

Augusta began to cry, too, and said, "Oh Neville!" She got up and hugged Neville and Alice.

After a few moments they all began to collect themselves and sat down on the bed and in the available chairs. Frank said, "Lovely as that little scene was, I don't remember shite. I mean, obviously I know you're our son." Frank gestured to Neville. "You look just like your mum but with my eyes, and I've seen the photo albums, but last I knew you were a one-year-old, and I can't quite get over the fact I've missed the last bloody seventeen years!"

Augusta started, "Frank . . ."

Neville gave his grandmother a look and interrupted. "It's OK, Dad. You're right. You've missed seventeen years. So have I. Seventeen years of knowing you. But seventeen years is only, what, about one-ninth of a wizard's life? So we missed one-ninth of our time together, but we've been given back more than I ever expected."

Frank nodded decisively. "You're right, Neville. And I'm hoping I'll feel better when I get out of this bollocking hospital!"

"Language, Frank!" Augusta scolded. Neville and Frank both laughed. Augusta continued, "The Healers have said they would like to keep you for at least a few more days to run some tests and to let you get back more strength. Miriam mentioned making a strengthening potion that should help both of you to feel better. Then we will see about going home. For now, why doesn't Neville tell you about these pictures in the album?"

~*~

Neville continued to visit his parents every day, sometimes with his Gran and sometimes without so they could get to know each other better. He was thrilled getting to hear stories about himself as a baby which his Gran hadn't known, and his parents' delight in hearing about his life, especially the adventures of the last few years. He enjoyed hearing his parents' stories of being Aurors, too.

About a week after "The Awakening" as all of them had begun to call whatever it was that happened to Frank and Alice, Neville and his Gran both arrived at St. Mungo's to see them beaming.

"Guess what?!" Alice was almost bouncing on the bed. "Miriam and Augustus said we could go home tomorrow! And we get to use our wands again! Only a bit at first and they want us to come in for appointments every few days, but being home will be wonderful!"

"That's great news!" Neville hugged his mum while Augusta hugged Frank.

Frank continued, "I've missed my wand. I can't wait to feel it in my hand again."

Alice choked back a giggle.

Neville looked at his mum strangely and said to his dad, "I'm sorry, Dad, I broke your wand. I told you the story of fighting the Death Eaters at the Ministry after my fifth year, remember?" Frank nodded. "I forgot to mention I had been using your wand since I was eleven, and it broke when that Death Eater kicked me."

Frank sighed. "It's OK, Neville. I'll go to Ollivanders. Maybe the new one will be even better than the old one." There was no real conviction in his voice. Alice patted his hand.

"What about my wand?"

"I have yours, dear," Augusta answered. "I had Neville try both of them before he started school, and Frank's worked better for him. He tried yours again when Frank's broke, but it didn't work as well still, so I bought him a new one. I thought it was important he have a wand that chose him with Death Eaters running around."

Frank and Alice both nodded. Alice said, "Maybe I'll get a new wand, too."

"You don't have to do that, love. I'll be OK getting a new wand. At least we'll get to do magic again soon. Anyway. I can't wait to get back to our sweet little cottage. We'd only lived there since just before you were born, Neville. The garden is probably totally overgrown, but I'll enjoy working in the garden again. Maybe even grow some vegetables. Did you get someone to rent it Mum, or pay a caretaker or what?"

Augusta's face fell. "Frank, I had to sell your house to pay for your care at St. Mungo's. I'm sorry, dear."

Alice looked confused. "But the Aurors would have paid. They always pay for care for injured Aurors, and even if they decided we had to be on the disabled list, our pensions would cover it . . ." Alice clasped Frank's hand.

"Frank, Alice, neither of you is an Auror anymore. Rita Skeeter found out about your secret marriage and your hiding Neville, and the Auror department dismissed both of you immediately. They were at least kind enough not to take back the initial injury bonus they had already paid, and they chose not to prosecute any of us."

"Any of us?"

"It was likely they would charge the two of you with violation of Ministry policy and endangering the life of a child since you stayed in the field while pregnant with Neville." Frank began to make an angry protest. "I know you were being careful, and I don't agree with their rules, but I was an Auror. They wondered if I had helped you to break the law." Augusta held up a hand to forestall whatever both Frank and Alice were going to say. "Nothing happened. Somewhere in my papers at home, I have official documentation that the Auror Department and the Ministry of Magic declined to prosecute us."

"But we won't be Aurors ever again," Alice said."

"No, you won't." Augusta shook her head.

"What about a different job at the Ministry?" Frank asked.

Augusta sighed, "You are barred from all Ministry of Magic jobs in perpetuity. I think the letter actually listed every single Ministry job from Minister of Magic to Magical Maintenance."

"Bloody. Fucking. Hell!"

Augusta didn't bother to scold Frank for his language this time.

"We've only ever been Aurors," Alice said. "What will we do?"

"First of all," Augusta answered, "You are going to get well again. You've essentially been in bed for seventeen years, so you will take time to recover before you worry about a job. You haven't done magic in seventeen years either. You will need some practice. As for where to live, you will come home to live with Neville and me."

"Your house is too small, Mum. You, me and Da barely fit. With four of us? I think the walls would close in on me."

"I might be able to help with that, Dad." Everyone stared at Neville, who had been extremely quiet. "I haven't had a chance to talk to you yet, Gran, but I was thinking I might move out soon. I mean, I've finished school, I'll get a job . . ."

"We are not kicking our own son out of his home!" Alice replied vehemently.

"Mum, it's not kicking me out if I was planning to leave anyway. I've been thinking about it for a while."

Everyone was quiet for a moment until Frank asked with a slight smile, "Is there a girl involved in this decision?"

Neville blushed. Frank said, "Aha!" He grinned at Alice who looked delighted.

"We can discuss this later. For now, Neville and I need to get the house ready for the two of you."

~*~
The Leaving Party thrown by Miriam and Augustus, and the Homecoming Dinner prepared by Augusta made for a long day for everyone, and they all had a lie in the next morning, followed by a leisurely breakfast. Frank was thrilled when he managed to warm up his tea with Alice's wand. They were sharing since Ollivander's had not yet reopened.

They talked as they lingered over tea. Neville laughed as Frank shared a particularly funny Death Eater capture. They lapsed into a comfortable silence.

Neville broke the silence, "Can I ask the two of you something?"

"Of course, Neville. You can ask us anything you want," Alice answered, briefly caressing her son's cheek.

"Since you loved being Aurors so much, why did you break the rules and risk losing that? Not that I'm fussed by it since I wouldn't be here if you hadn't broken the rules, but I'm just wondering?"

Alice sighed. "We didn't intend to break the rules. I mean, we were head boy and girl together, and nothing ever happened between us. We were actually both going out with other people, and didn't think about each other in a romantic way."

"And even as partners, we kept things professional," Frank added. "We were partners for years and nothing happened, but Dumbledore approached us about joining the Order of the Phoenix, and there weren't rules in the Order."

"Honestly, even off-duty Aurors are supposed to follow the rules, but after the first time we faced Voldemort . . ."

"We followed procedure . . . we had been tailing a couple of Death Eaters on assignment for the Order, and Voldemort showed up. We contacted the Aurors for back-up, but we were dueling Voldemort and several Death Eaters ourselves before anyone arrived. Unfortunately, they managed to Disapparate."

"Couldn't you cast a . . ."

"Dumbledore invented the anti-Apparation jinx shortly after this happened."

"Surprisingly, they let us wait until morning to fill out the Auror reports, so we went out for drinks."

"And got bloody pissed."

"Frank, honestly!" Alice said, laughing. She half-heartedly slapped his hand.

"Well, it's true!"

"And that's why you got together? Because you were drunk?"

"No. The alcohol certainly lowered our inhibitions and our hesitancy to break the rules, but we had been friends for years, and it's not that far from close friendship to love."

"Especially when you just dueled Voldemort together. You can't have an experience like that without being changed by it."

"At first, we decided not to continue our relationship and called it a drunken mistake, except it wasn't a mistake."

"We knew we were meant to be together. And we didn't want to quit being partners as Aurors either, because it was working. We dueled Voldemort and several Death Eaters at once and lived to tell about it. You don't mess with that sort of chemistry."

"A secret marriage wasn't a big deal. Our immediate families were able to attend. When I became pregnant, we were more concerned. I didn't want to hurt you, I would never want to hurt you, but I did want to bring down Voldemort, and by then we'd faced him three times."

"Wanting to continue in the fight against Voldemort is the only reason we hid you. We were able to help the Order more effectively from inside the Auror office than we thought we would be outside of it."

"We had planned to confess to our supervisor once Voldemort was taken care of. And when the Potters brought him down, we made an appointment with the Head of the Aurors. But then Bellatrix Lestrange happened. Our appointment was to have been the next day."

"So we're pushing fifty, living with my mum, unemployed, and I'm currently wandless. Not where I thought I'd ever be." Frank sighed.

"But we are reunited with Neville, and have the chance to know him, and we have each other." Alice took Frank's hand, and he intertwined his fingers with hers.

Neville placed his hand over the clasped hands of his parents. "We all have each other. Gran, too. The rest of it, we'll figure out somehow."

~*~

The Daily Prophet
May 10, 1998

Heroes Harmonized!
By Rita Skeeter

Amidst all of the loss of the Wizarding community, there is finally a story of rebirth and reunion. Former Aurors Frank Longbottom and Alice Longbottom nee McHughes, who resided in the Janus Thickey Ward of St. Mungos for almost seventeen years are back in their right minds and reunited with their son Neville, one of the Heroes of Hogwarts, and his grandmother Augusta Longbottom, herself a former Auror and an integral participant in the Battle of Hogwarts.

From what this reporter can gather from her confidential sources, when Molly Weasley dueled Bellatrix Lestange to the death, the power of whatever spell the latter had previously cast on the Longbottoms broke, and they returned to their right minds.

Of course, the Longbottoms cannot return to their previous jobs as Aurors since they violated Ministry of Magic policies and were dismissed for it (see The Daily Prophet Archives from November 10, 1981 for the full story), but their family has them back. When so many families have suffered loss to Voldemort and his minions, one heroic family has experienced gain. It remains to be seen what Frank and Alice Longbottom will do with their new lease on life, but this reporter will remain on the case.

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