Characters: Augusta Longbottom, Neville Longbottom, Original Male Character, Algie Longbottom, Trevor
Word Count: 986
Summary: Augusta redresses a toad-related offence.
Disclaimer: This piece is based on characters and situations created by J. K. Rowling, and owned by J. K. Rowling and various publishers, including but not limited to: Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made from and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended by the posting of this fic.
Author's Note: Cross-posted to aunt_meg.
Augusta Longbottom, having experienced a great shock, leaves her brother at St. Mungo's and Apparates to the Leaky Cauldron before making her way to Diagon Alley. She can feel the weight of her handbag hanging from one elbow and the warmth of her grandson, who she's cradling against her bosom. There are people everywhere. They laugh. They shout. They shove—well, they don't shove her because, although she doesn't know this, there is something forbidding about her bearing and expression. This is just as well because she's always been quick to redress offences to her person and is, at the moment, feeling particularly sensitive to insult. She stops walking in front of the Magical Menagerie and is standing there when a toad-seller rolls noisily past her in a cart. Her eyes focus on it, and she sees that along its side is painted, "T. Sellers, Purveyor of Tillacious Toads."
That's not even a word, Augusta thinks, of "tillacious," as she glares at the toad-seller.
She's never much cared for toads, and she quickly comes to the conclusion that she doesn't much care for this particular toad-seller. His cart is being pulled by magic, which leaves Sellers, or so Augusta assumes, free to balance himself in the back of it and shout to all and sundry that he has "the best plump toads, lovely toads, perfect for pets and potions!" As if to demonstrate this, he's holding a toad in each hand and squeezing them, causing their little heads to bulge.
"You there, toad-seller!" she calls to him. "Stop that at once!"
The cart stops, and Sellers grins at Augusta. "Are ye interested in purchasin' a toad then, madam?" he asks, waving one toad-laden hand in her direction.
"No, I am not, but I won't have you mistreating amphibians in the street. Leave off torturing those toads and put them back into their basket!"
"Faugh!" the toad-seller calls, shaking his purple-striped hair in apparent disgust. Nevertheless, he bends down towards his basket.
Satisfied that he is going to obey her, Augusta turns away, only to turn back as she hears people laughing to find that Sellers has only returned one of his toads to the basket. He grins in an ugly way as he catches her eye and holds up the other toad in two hands above his head.
"Yes, indeed, the very best of juicy," he says, squeezing the toad, "fat," he says, squeezing it again, "plump," he says more loudly, squeezing the toad much harder in his apparent glee, "toads!"
The sight of such casual cruelty is too much to be borne. Without a word, Augusta shifts a bit so that she can draw her wand and acts.
The thick jet of yellow-green light that shoots out of Augusta's wand hits Sellers square in the chest, and two toads fall into the floor of his cart. Ignoring people's exclamations of amusement and dismay, Augusta sheathes her wand and moves quickly to scoop up the Transfigured Sellers and deposit him into the basket on his cart. She then peers into the cart at the remaining, cowering toad to examine it, drawing one finger over its head. It stops cowering and blinks stupidly up at her, but then, she supposes its sluggish look has to do with its recent mistreatment and forgives it.
"Good toad," she tells it.
A merry, familiar voice sounds in her ear then. "What a fine looking toad! Is he for me?"
Augusta starts. "Algie! What are you doing here?"
"Getting you out of a scrape, as usual," her brother replies, Transfiguring Sellers back into a wizard. "Terribly sorry, my good man, but you know how sensitive the ladies are. Here," he continues, shoving a handful of Galleons at the white-faced Sellers. "That's for this toad and your trouble." Algie addresses the crowd, "You lot, go about your business," and then picks up the toad and places it in his pocket. "You stay there, toad, until I can buy you a travel basket."
Augusta blinks at him.
As if she's spoken, Algie says to her, "Oh, you're right. 'Toad' won't do. I'll call him 'Trevor'."
"I don't care what you call him," Augusta tells him. "I hate toads."
"No, you hate Bellatrix Lestrange."
Algie's voice is quiet, but to Augusta, it sounds as though he's shouting.
If he understands this, he doesn't care, for he continues speaking. "Don't give up hope, 'Gusta. Give the Healers a chance. Everything's going to be fine, you'll see."
Augusta does see. She sees her brother, smiling gently at her as if everything were right in the world. She sees the toad-seller out of the corner of her eye, leaning against his cart. She sees her son and daughter-in-law in her mind's eye as they were earlier that morning, gazing at nothing.
Trapped, she thinks. Frank and Alice are trapped inside themselves just as surely as those poor toads are trapped in that basket.
Suddenly, Augusta finds herself blind to everything but a hatred of baskets. She again draws her wand and uses it to upend the basket in Seller's cart, watching in grim satisfaction as the toads make their croaking bid for freedom. They hop everywhere but towards Sellers, who shouts his outrage to anyone who will listen while attempting to recapture them. Incensed, Augusta sends a Jelly-Legs Jinx his way and then leaves Algie to deal with him as she rushes into the Menagerie.
There will be no basket for Trevor; he will have a proper aquarium.
She's standing in front of several aquaria when Algie joins her, and it's obvious that he understands her intention because he points to one aquarium in particular and says, "I like the look of that one."
Augusta, however, does not like the look of what the Menagerie is selling as the "Tillacious Toad Abode."
Stroking Neville's head she tells Algie, "It's too small."
And "tillacious" isn't even a word.