"Longbottom, you are fortunate Alecto Carrow is both myopic and too lazy to confirm that her Confringo hit you and not the statue beside you. What is it that you thought so important as to risk life and limb?"
"They had a second-year Hufflepuff, sir, and were holding her outside her Common Room until curfew... "
"...so they could punish her for flagrant rule-breaking," Snape finished. His shoulders sagged for a moment before he straightened and glared. "And so you," he spat, "renowned dueling disaster that you are, took it upon yourself to create a distraction."
He fought the urge to reach out and touch this oddly brave boy, to reassure himself that he was alive.
"Go," he said, hoarsely, "and for Merlin's sake be careful this time, idiotic Gryffindor!"
Neville nodded as he looked the Headmaster in the eye, unflinchingly. As he turned to leave he whispered, almost too softly to be heard, "You too, sir."
The door closed with a soft click.