“Pro-prof-f-fessor?” Neville stuttered.
“Officer Snape,” said the ominous man in black, “of Wizardland Revenue.”
“There is this little matter of…back taxes,” said Snape, looking like a spider eyeing a particularly juicy fly. He looked at the clipboard he was carrying. “I hope you are prepared to pay…one, two, three, four thousand Galleons.” Snape continued, his black, tunnel-like eyes meeting Neville’s, “Today.”
“I-I d-don’t h-h-haaave f-four thousand…”
“Well, that’s just too bad, isn’t it?” Snape replied smoothly and with sadistic glee, looking around the nursery. “It appears like it’s time to confiscate some possessions…” he said, examining a particularly large Mimbulus mimbletonia.
“You can’t take that!” Neville cried.
“Can’t I?” replied Snape, looking at the other man disdainfully. “I do believe that I can and will. How much will this item fetch, do you think?” he added, talking more to himself than to Neville.
“Five hund-“ Neville started.
“Fifty Galleons,” Snape interrupted, marking it down.
“Fifty! It’s a very rare, hard-to-cultivate plant!” Neville gasped.
“I determine the value according to what the item will fetch at public auction,” Snape answered, bored, marking something down on his clipboard. “And, besides, if you can grow it, it can’t be that difficult.”
“I beg your pardon!” Neville squeaked as he watched in horror as Snape waved his wand and the plant disappeared.
“And gillyweed,” he said, looking at hundreds of galleons worth of hydroponics. “Twenty-five Galleons,” he continued, making all the water plants, not just the gillyweed, disappear. He walked to a corner and spied a broom.
“A Firebolt Two,” Snape said, looking through his papers. “I do not see this declared.”
“It isn’t mine,” Neville said. “I’m keeping it for Harry…”
“Trying to cheat Wizardland Revenue, are we?” Snape purred, advancing on Neville.
“It isn’t mine! It has Harry’s name on it!”
“A gift, then? Where’s the gift tax, Longbottom?”
“It’s not mine, and you can’t do this!” Longbottom declared, standing his ground. “You can’t take it.”
Snape pushed Longbottom against the table, putting his wand at the other man’s throat.
“Let me tell you how it will be,” Snape snarled. “I do have the authority, and if I say it should be taken, it will be. It’s all perfectly legal. Can your tiny little brain conjure up the reason for that, Longbottom?”
“C-cause you’re the taxman?” Neville answered, looking down at the black ebony wand poking uncomfortably into the hollow of his throat.
“Yes, Longbottom, because I’m the taxman. Do I make myself clear?”
“Y-yes sir,” Longbottom answered.
Snape put away his wand, stood up straight and turned on his heel.
“But I will not leave you with nothing, and for that you should be thankful. I will take only…ninety-five percent of your possessions.”
“But that’s almost everything!”
“Should five percent appear too small, be thankful I don't take it all, because it’s within my power to do so. Don’t forget, I’m the taxman.” He took the broom in his hand.
“But why, why do you need all of this?”
“Don’t ask me what I want it for,” Snape hissed. “If you don’t want to pay some more.”
Neville didn’t know what he would do. He didn’t have enough cash, and with his business so depleted, he didn’t know how he’d ever raise it. He suddenly wanted to turn his wand on himself.
“Now my advice for those who die," Snape announced in his classroom lecture voice as he walked through the quickly-emptying aisles of plants, “is to declare the Knuts on your eyes. The death tax is a hefty one; do not forget.”
Neville sat up straight. It took him a minute to realize that he was in his bedroom with nobody but Luna, who was fast asleep beside him. He looked at the clock; it was 7:00 AM. Maybe he could Floo Hermione before she got to work and tell her he’d take her up on her offer to do his taxes.