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HP stories following Canon including OotP >> Under Snape's Regime by joehook

Simple Text - To view MORE chapters use the chapter jump box to the right.
Chapter 1 - New Times

Neville and his grandmother emerged through the ticket barrier and onto the platform. Neville could, without doubt, sense a different atmosphere here; the stench of fear now blended with the puffs of smoke issuing from the Hogwarts Express and it felt chilling, despite the fact that it was the fresh birth of another September and the sun was shining brightly. Students young and old were bidding their parents farewell as they hopped onto the train, their trunks trailing behind them. He couldn’t help notice that the adults looked subtly anxious as they waved goodbye; he couldn’t blame them. After recent events, including the shocking death of Scrimgeour, not to mention Dumbledore’s, people were exposed wherever they went. Pius Thicknesse, the new Minister for Magic, had passed the law that education for young witches and wizards was now compulsory.
There were hooded men in dark cloaks standing at intervals along the platform in front of the train. Each clutched a notebook of some kind and a quill – Neville had never seen these intruders before. Every so often, one would spring into life and grab a student, to their parent’s dismay, but they didn’t dare attack. Looking hugely alarmed, the student would appear to answer the guard’s questions. Neville watched, appalled, as a mob of the hooded wizards Levitated one of the students and his parents and forced them back through the ticket barrier, cackling horribly.
Neville was suddenly grabbed viciously by the arm and pulled away.
‘Excuse me!’ Augusta called to the man, who stopped. It was one of the hooded men. Neville jerked his arm out of the man’s grasp.
‘What are you –?’
Neville hesitated, having not quite recovered from the sudden ambush. His grandmother marched over, wand aloft. The guard Disarmed her silently, and her wand cartwheeled in the air. Neville opened his mouth in anger –
‘I asked for your name!’ the man hissed menacingly. ‘Answer or I’ll do worse!’
‘Neville Longbottom,’ Neville said, filling his voice and expression with as much disgust as possible.
The man scanned his list.
‘Pure blood,’ he muttered, sounding satisfied, ‘say goodbye and get on,’ he added, jerking his head at the train and stalking off. Neville rushed over to his grandmother and picked up her wand for her.
‘Well, really!’ she said, taking her wand and looking at the man who had just walked away. Neville looked up at the clock; the train would be departing in three minutes.
‘Goodbye Neville, dear,’ Augustus whispered, pulling herself together and bringing her grandson into a hug, ‘you’ve got everything you need?’
‘Yes, Gran,’ Neville said, trying not to sound exasperated.
‘Oh no ... where’s he gone?’ Neville muttered, breaking from his grandmother’s arms and scanning the floor. Why was that toad so keen to escape the whole time? He spotted the green blob and, scooping him up, smiled in spite of himself; perhaps Trevor needed a more reliable owner. He grabbed the handle of his trunk and boarded the train as the guard blew his whistle and another vat of steam billowed from the funnel.
‘Bye!’ Neville called over his shoulder.
‘Bye, dear! Take care – stay in touch!’
The carriage doors closed behind him and he began looking for a seat. It was horribly quiet everywhere. He looked into full compartments as he stumbled through the carriage, noticing that everyone was bent forward and whispering to their friends. He spotted Crabbe, Goyle, Pansy Parkinson and Zabini in one compartment, but resisted the urge to burst in and say anything. He would never have thought it, but Crabbe and Goyle seemed more dangerous now than ever before, perhaps because their fathers were united in Voldemort’s regimes again.
It was only then that he realised Malfoy hadn’t been in there. This stunned him for a moment but he quickly recognised it was only a matter of time before Draco joined directly with his father; though Neville had to admit that neither of them looked too good last time he saw them. Cheered slightly by this thought, he traipsed into the next carriage and found three familiar faces ahead, also looking for spaces.
Someone hugged him, but he recognised the voice.
‘Seamus, good to see you! Hi, Ginny – Luna,’ he grinned at the other two girls, who smiled warmly back. ‘Seen Harry yet?’
Seamus and Luna shook their heads; Ginny hesitated, before saying, ‘Neville, they’re not coming to Hogwarts – Harry, Ron and Hermione.’
There was a short silence; Seamus scowled slightly. Neville didn’t answer; he’d been half-expecting it, he supposed. He trusted that Harry knew things that he didn’t, that he was working on a plan.
When the silence wouldn’t stop increasing, Neville decided to break it. ‘Shall we find a compartment then?’
There was murmured agreement, but they didn’t have to look far: an empty one presented itself to them halfway down and they clambered into it, slinging their belongings on the racks above. Neville sat opposite Luna, who was sporting her Butterbeer cork necklace again and already staring out the window dreamily. Ginny’s Pygmy Puff, Arnold, was perched on his owner’s shoulder and Seamus had dug own a copy of today’s Daily Prophet and folded it out.
‘No ...’ Seamus murmured, a disgusted look on his face.
‘What?’ Neville and Ginny said simultaneously. Neville didn’t think he could stand any more significant deaths right now; he glanced at the huge title on the front page: SNAPE CONFIRMED AS HOGWARTS HEADMASTER.
‘You’re joking,’ Neville said. He read on aloud:

‘“Severus Snape, long-standing Potions master at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was today appointed Headmaster in the most important of several staffing changes at the ancient school. Following the resignation of the previous Muggle Studies teacher, Alecto Carrow will take over the post –’”
‘Burbage resigned?’ Ginny asked.
‘Not exactly a safe lesson to teach now though, is it? Not after the register, anyway,’ Seamus answered.
‘Yeah, the Muggle-born Register ... didn’t you get checked for your Blood Status on the way in? I don’t think they’re letting Muggle-borns in at all.’
Neville said nothing again; it was disgraceful, no question about it ... and Snape, Headmaster! What had the other teachers said? Had they said anything at all? He didn’t know how much authority Professor McGonagall might have now.
‘This Carrow woman,’ Ginny said, ‘isn’t she a –?
‘Death Eater, yeah,’ Seamus finished, still reading the article, ‘looks like her brother’s taking up the Defence Against the Dark Arts post as well now ...’ He folded up the newspaper and stared at the floor, thinking. Neville looked out the window, where cows could be seen munching on green fields of grass, without a care in the world.
‘How have you been, Luna?’ he asked.
It took Luna a good five seconds before she realised Neville had spoken to her.
‘Oh, I’m very good, thank you,’ she smiled. ‘Daddy went to –’
Where Luna’s father went to remained a mystery for now as she stopped talking, and the other three knew exactly why: the train had jerked suddenly and the rails below screeched piercingly; Luna stuck her fingers in her ears.
‘What’s going on?’ Neville asked; Ginny just shrugged and stood up, but toppled down again as the train jolted for a second time. The only other time Neville could remember this happening was when Dementors had invaded the train, and he’d been just as confused and nervous on that occasion as he was now.
The train slowed and came to a standstill. Neville began to hear distant voices up the carriage and the opening and closing of compartment doors. Suddenly, their door was thrust open and Ginny shrieked. Neville and Seamus both drew their wands and stood up. A rough-faced, unshaven man with black eyes and wearing a long, travelling cloak stood at the door, looking down menacingly. Neville recognised him: he was a Death Eater by the name of Travers.
‘He’s not here,’ Neville said coolly, looking Travers in the eye. Travers grunted and slammed the door before Disapparating.
The train gradually set off again and everyone sat down. Neville, however, stood standing, too deep in concentration. They were all looking for Harry, and probably Ron and Hermione too ... how long would it be until they got caught?

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