Behind Doors and Masks is another Harry Potter fanfiction I stumbled across months ago, and instead of reccing it right away, I chose to wait for another update. The fic is about Neville’s seventh year at Hogwarts as he navigates his classes and the Death Eaters and generally does whatever he can to keep himself and his fellow students alive. Unfortunately, it looks as though the author may have abandoned the story, but as it’s canon compliant anyway, I can only assume it ends with Neville cutting off Nagini’s head.
During Neville’s seventh year, Hogwarts is being run by Snape and the Carrow siblings. Muggle Studies is now a required class, where Neville is forced to learn pure-blood supremacy ideology. He and his fellow Gryffindor students are unreceptive to these lessons and are constantly getting in trouble—Crucio’d—by the Carrows. As Neville is pure-blood, the Carrows are not allowed to kill him, but when they go too far one night and Neville almost dies, Snape decides to take over Neville’s detentions.
This is something Neville is none too pleased about, since Snape is the asshole who has not only tormented him throughout all his school years, but he also murdered Dumbledore. Unfortunately for Snape, Neville’s time in the Headmaster’s Office gives him access to all the old Headmaster portraits, and painting!Dumbledore let’s slip the truth about Snape’s true allegiance and why Snape really killed Dumbledore.
The painting did this because he’s convinced Snape takes on too much work and needs some extra help. And from there, both Snape and Neville enter into an incredibly unwanted alliance. This does, however, work out for the best. Instead of Neville risking his safety all the time, Snape can pass him along information and supplies that he and the other students can use in order to protect themselves, so long as Neville doesn’t tell anyone else the truth. Snape can also spend Neville’s detentions teaching him proper Defense Against the Dark Arts (Snape is still really horrible at teaching), and Neville can help Snape whenever Snape returns from a meeting with an angry Voldemort and needs someone to go fetch him restorative potions.
Seamus, Ginny and the Creevy brothers were all waiting for him when he got back to Gryffindor Tower. Seamus looked him over anxiously as he climbed through the portrait hole, then sighed. “Blimey mate. You were gone so long I was almost sure McGonagall’d have to bring you in on a stretcher. Especially with yesterday.”
Neville grimaced. “Nah. I was safe enough. There were all at a meeting when I went up for detention.” He emphasized the word meeting with a disgusted sneer, and everyone else nodded. “I only stayed out because I was hoping to catch them coming back, see if I could pick up some information on what You-know-who and his gang are planning.”
“That was reckless.” Ginny scowled at him.
“I know. But worth it. I managed to find a good spot to hide, got to listen to them when they came back in. Followed them to the Headmaster’s Office. The forgot to put a Silencing Charm on the door.” He grinned.
“Wicked!” Colin grinned.
“Yeah. Wish the news was better though.” Neville sighed. “You-know who’s authorized them to get a little…nastier, if what I heard was right. Snape said something about a demonstration of ‘proper discipline’ from Bellatrix Lestrange.”
Behind Doors and Masks keeps everyone in character while also managing a truce between Snape and Neville, something that I quite frankly didn’t think was possible. The two of them form an understanding with each other, but they are far from friends. Not only do I love this story because we get to see so much more from Neville and his character development, it also humanizes Snape in a way that the books didn’t really succeed in doing, all while keeping his nastiness intact. Sadly, in the books, we never really get to see from Snape’s perspective or learn of all he does for the Order. As such, his character never truly progresses from “‘friendzoned’ abuser” to “problematic character with some good traits”.
When it comes to Neville, because the story is told entirely from his perspective, Behind Doors and Masks lets us know how he’s grown up since his first six years at Hogwarts and how his time with the Carrows affects him. We get to see his willingness to stand up for his friends and risk himself by helping Snape. Due to everything he goes through, he finds that certain things that used to scare him—like Snape—don’t anymore, and he even finds it in himself to stand up to Snape on a few occasions as well.
Behind Doors and Masks is an interesting read that I really enjoyed. It is currently over 60k words long, and sadly, it doesn’t look like it’ll be getting any longer. If you still wish to check it out, you can find it here on fanfiction.net.