The Trouble With Harry Potter
by zahra

The trouble with fancying Harry Potter, as Neville saw it, was that everybody fancied Harry Potter. Small children, old hags, Slytherins (if Seamus were to be believed), even Trevor spent a large portion of his amphibian time hiding under Harry's bed when he wasn't trying to escape from Gryffindor tower. Everyone and everything fancied Harry, and Harry, top man that he was, did nothing to discourage them. Harry graciously accepted valentines from younger years, had yet to hex Dennis Creevey for stalking him, and had the decency to look bashful when Justin Finch-Fletchley tried to invite him to the Yule Ball in their sixth year. Harry didn't call Justin a flaming poof like Malfoy probably would have. He never said he didn't find Justin attractive; he simply said that he was planning to go alone for personal reasons, and he hoped that Justin didn't mind.

Neville had been in the hall at the time, which was how he knew all of this, but the grace with which Harry reacted under pressure always amazed him; and the lack of name-calling had stretched Neville's Harry-worship to epic proportions. After all, Justin was quite fit, and Neville certainly wouldn't have minded going with him; but Justin hadn't asked him. Justin had asked Harry, just like half of Hogwarts, and Neville obviously hadn't stood a chance in Muggle hell of getting Harry to go with him, so he hadn't bothered. That hadn't stopped him from wishing, however, and it certainly hadn't stopped him from standing near the lemon tarts for most of the ball, and staring at Harry. Thankfully, the Great Hall had been bewitched to look like a starry night, so Harry hadn't noticed, or if he had he hadn't said anything. The same couldn't be said for Parvati or Lavender, both of whom had forced Neville to dance with them because 'Neville could do better than sitting about mooning over Harry.'

Neville didn't necessarily agree.

He wasn't the one who had fought off He-Who-Made-Neville-Need-a-Lie-Down-Just-Thinking-About-Him. Neville was the one who blundered and broke other people's prophecies, and then bled all over his own robes. Neville wasn't a star player on Gryffindor's Quidditch team; he was the one that had broken his wrist the first time he tried to fly. He was never going to be the top of their year with his Potions marks, either. He was quite aware of all his faults and shortcomings, and only in the past year or so had he given any consideration to the idea that he might have something to offer someone else. He was quite good in Herbology, and he did all right in DA. He wasn't too bad looking, at least his uncle Algie didn't try and sell him anymore when they went into Hogsmeade together, but Neville didn't really see that as enough to recommend himself to Harry Potter. However, Harry was his mate, and since it was only a matter of time before Neville couldn't even sit at the same table as Harry without staring himself into a stupor, Neville felt he could make a sufficient arse of himself looking no more absurd then he probably already did. Besides, Neville fancied Harry, not as a gay or straight thing, but as a Harry thing.

If Neville could explain that, with a minimum amount of embarrassment, then surely Harry would be able to turn him down gracefully.


As far as Neville saw it, there was no such thing as spending too much time with Harry. With the exception of Ron and Hermione, Neville spent more time with Harry than almost anyone else, except perhaps Dean and Seamus. They'd shared a room for more than seven years, had classes and ate meals together. Of course the majority of these activities took place with their entire house, if not their entire year, but Neville took what he could get, so he felt fortunate to also spend four hours a week in DA practise at Harry's instruction.

The hours Neville spent in the Room of Requirement were among some of his most enjoyable, and as another lesson came to a close and everyone began filing out of the room, Neville took a moment to gather his wits about him and build up what small store of courage he had. Harry, as usual, was staying behind to straighten up, and Neville made himself useful by doing likewise. He watched warily as Ron and Hermione laughed and joked by the exit, and it was only when Harry looked ready to leave that something inside Neville spoke up.

"Harry, do you mind if I talk to you for a moment?"

Harry turned around to answer, but Neville's question had inevitably caught the attention of Hermione, and she batted Ron's hands away in an attempt to be serious. "Of course you can, Neville," she said, waiting expectantly.

Neville flushed and stammered for several seconds, before Ron came to his rescue by poking Hermione in the ribs teasingly. "My Harry, what long hair you've got. You didn't look like that this morning."

Both Ron and Harry laughed, and Neville managed a few weak smiles as Hermione harrumphed before poking Ron back in retaliation.

"Don't mind her, Neville," Ron said, ushering Hermione out of the room. "I've always suspected that she wanted to be a boy, but just hadn't found the right spell yet."

The door closing muffled Hermione's reply, but Neville definitely heard Ron give a shout of pain before the lock snicked shut behind them. They made quite a good pair as far as Neville could tell, just the right balance of friendship and that other stuff. Not that Neville had ever thought of Ron that way, but he had fancied Hermione back in their third year. Of course, it wouldn't do to be thinking about Hermione when he was supposed to be thinking about...

"Neville? Are you all right?" Neville blinked and shook his head. He'd wandered off as he was often want to do. It was a tendency that always drove his gran mental, and Merlin, he didn't want to be thinking about her right now.

Shaking his head again, Neville focused his eyes on the tips of Harry's shoes that were peeking out from the bottom of his robe. The toe of his left trainer was scuffed and looked in danger of coming unattached from the rest of the shoe at any second.

"I'm all right, yeah. Sorry about that."

"Don't worry about it. You said you wanted to talk to me, right?"

"Right." Neville swallowed and tried to calm himself. His heart seemed to be beating faster than normal.

"Right. So."


Harry stood there, waiting, and Neville's tongue froze. He hadn't really thought about what he was going to say. He'd written down a course of action on the palm of his hand, but words? Bugger. Glancing down, Neville tried to read the blurred writing on his left hand with increasing anxiety. He'd forgotten that DA made him sweat; he had no idea what to do now, and he jumped when he felt Harry's hand on his shoulder.

Harry was only slightly taller than Neville, and his proximity made Neville a bit queasy. Now he was not staring only at Harry's trainers, but at his robes, which weren't totally closed and showed bits of his trousers.

If Neville tried hard, he could probably smell Harry.

"Neville, whatever it is, you know you can tell me, right?" Harry's voice washed over Neville like a Cleaning Charm, and he wondered if Harry could carry on a conversation with the top of his head without growing annoyed. It would be for the best if Neville looked Harry in the face, but he wasn't sure if he could stand seeing the rejection as well as hearing it.

Taking a deep breath, Neville lifted his head, and stared. Harry was right there: black messy hair, thin pink lips and green eyes hidden behind smudged glasses. The words tumbled out before Neville could stop them.

"I, um, fancy you, and I wanted to know if you wanted to perhaps do something. Sometime. If you wanted. But you don't have to if you don't want to, and I'm really sorry if I've offended you or anything, Harry, because I know you like girls. Not boys. And please don't hate me. We can forget this if you want, actually that's probably for the best, don't you think?"

Neville went to clap his hand over his mouth, but Harry blocked him, and Neville's mind went hazy when Harry smiled at him before leaning down.

The kiss wasn't supposed to come first.

The correct order of events was gone, along with all the other notes on Neville's palm, but he knew for certain that the kiss wasn't at the top of the list. It was supposed to come third, or perhaps fourth, after Neville had confessed how much he fancied Harry, but before he ran for his life. After all, Neville had been quite sure that telling Harry that he was mad about him, and desperately wanted to snog him, and would very much like to take him on a proper date was going to require running away at some point. That didn't seem to be happening, however, ergo Neville was horribly confused even though Harry Potter's arms were around his waist, and he was kissing Neville quite enthusiastically.

Neville emitted a noise, not unlike a whimper, and moved closer, stepping briefly on Harry's foot. Harry's glasses pressed into Neville's forehead, and Neville wondered momentarily if they should stop so Harry could remove them. When Harry nipped at his lower lip and his tongue slipped into Neville's mouth, all thoughts of anything evaporated. One of Harry's hands slid up Neville's back to cradle his head. Harry's fingers rubbed the hair that Neville'd had sheared last week, and Neville quivered as one of Harry's legs was pressed between his. That was most certainly not a wand in Harry's pocket as far as Neville could tell.

His fingers scrabbled at Harry's robes, and when Harry pulled away slowly, Neville gasped for air. He shook his head, one, twice, until Harry gripped his jaw and forced Neville to look at him. Harry's glasses were askew, he smiled as his thumb rubbed Neville's cheek, and he used his free hand to straighten his glasses. "Don't do that, you'll shake something loose."

Neville gaped. His heart was in danger of jumping out his chest from shock, but he felt quite certain that dying while snogging Harry Potter would be a good way to go. "You didn't do that when you turned down Justin."

Harry's nose crinkled when he laughed. "That's because I was turning him down, Neville."


"Yes, oh."

Neville thought again, but it was difficult with Harry so close and breathing on Neville's face. Harry smelled like trifle and roast chicken. "So, you're not turning me down?"

"I try not to turn down people I fancy," Harry said. "I think that sort of defeats the purpose."

Neville peered at Harry carefully. There were worry lines etching themselves across his forehead, directly perpendicular to that scar, and when Neville took a step back Harry's hand slid from his face. "But you can't possibly fancy me."

Harry considered him quizzically. "Why not?"


"Because what?"


"That's a crap answer, Neville, and besides it's rubbish. Have you looked in a mirror recently?"

Neville didn't want to think poorly of Harry, but what kind of daft question was that? Neville looked in the mirror every bloody morning to clean his teeth and shave, and only recently had the mirror stopped telling him he was a hopeless cause.

Neville had been looking in the mirror since he was knee high to Hagrid. Instead of saying so, he just shook his head.

"Look, Harry, if you're not interested, I don't mind, but don't mess me about."

The smile that had been creeping across Harry's face disappeared, but he stepped closer, and Neville took another step back. He was prepared to take another step, when Harry reached out and grabbed hold of his wrist. "I hate to be the one to break it to you, Neville, but you're quite fit."

Neville's eyes rolled so hard he felt sure they'd get stuck in his head, and he turned away. Obviously Harry was having fun at his expense, and Neville really wasn't up for that today. He should have thought this through better, and he could hear his gran muttering about his inability to get anything right.

When he moved to leave, however, Harry's hand was still holding his wrist, and his fingers were stroking Neville's palm. "Look, Harry, if you don't fancy me, that's fine; an explanation isn't necessary. You've always been nice to me, so I'm sorry if I've mucked that up, but don't say something you don't mean just to make me feel better."

Neville tried to break away again, but when he moved, so did Harry. "Wait, you can't leave yet," he said. "We need to talk."

For some reason the words 'we need to talk' completely flew over Neville's head, and all he could see was Harry refusing to let him leave with even a modicum of dignity left. The exasperation began to build behind his eyes, causing him to blink, and he looked from Harry, down at his wrist, and then back again, pointedly.

"You haven't always been this stubborn, have you? I remember --" Harry stopped. "You're not leaving until I have my say," he corrected, and Neville's legs began to wobble underneath his robes. He'd really stepped in it this time, and Harry's fingers against his palm were making the wrong parts pay attention.

"I do like you, Neville, whether you believe me or not is up to you, but I do." Neville began to protest but Harry cut him off. "Let me finish, first," he said.

"The thing about it though, is that I haven't really known what to say because there's this other stuff that you don't know. I haven't been sure how to tell you before, but now I think I have to because I want this, us, to work out." Harry paused, released Neville's wrist, and gave him a tentative smile.

Neville rubbed his wrist absently. It didn't hurt, but the rubbing was far better than him tapping his foot, or tripping over his tongue as he was wont to do when he could sense anxiety approaching. "What sort of stuff could you have to tell me?"

"The sort of stuff I should have told you a long time ago, but didn't. I... I don't know why." Harry's voice trailed off, and he looked away.

Neville wasn't good with a lot of things, but he knew nerves when he saw them. People like Harry didn't get attacks of the nerves. Ever.

Neville stopped rubbing his wrist. Now Harry had his undivided attention.

"For example?" Neville prompted.

"You remember the prophecy that was broken that day at the Ministry?"

"Harry, I'm really sorry about that," Neville began, but Harry silenced him with a hand over his mouth.

"That wasn't the only copy of the prophecy," Harry continued. "Dumbledore was there when the prophecy was made, and he knew the whole thing. He hadn't told me before, which is a different story altogether, but when I went to see him at the end of fifth year, after all that business at the Ministry, he told me what it was about."

Neville's eyes were glued to Harry's face, but his brain was confused. The feel of Harry's fingers against his mouth wasn't helping his ability to concentrate, and Neville couldn't figure out why the hell Harry was telling him all this.

"The prophecy talked about a baby that would be born at the end of the summer to parents who fought on the side of good. The prophecy said that this baby could bring about the end of Voldemort." Neville flinched when Harry said the name, but his mind reeled from the news.

"Dumbledore said that the Order looked into the prophecy, and found out there were only two possibilities: me," Harry paused. "And you."

Harry kept talking but Neville tuned him out. His heart slowed down until he was sure it wasn't beating any more, and eventually, Harry's hand dropped from his mouth. His brain, which had always tended to be slow, chose that moment to make up for lost time and began firing thought after thought into his conscious. He could have been Harry Potter. His parents had almost been killed because of a prophecy. Why wasn't he dead? Why wasn't he the famous one? Where was his scar? What the hell did that mean for the rest of his life? Was Harry telling him that this was his prophecy or not? That he was almost good enough, but not quite? Why tell Neville now?

For once, Neville's mouth moved just as fast as his brain. "You knew this and you didn't tell me earlier?" he said, edging away from Harry.

His leg bumped against a chair, but Neville sidestepped it. He couldn't stop staring at Harry, who looked strangely helpless, but people like Harry weren't helpless. Except that Neville was like Harry or Harry was like Neville. He couldn't quite sort it out yet, but there was something itching under Neville's skin that he didn't like. He needed to get away and think about what Harry had said.

Harry stepped closer, and Neville shook his head to warn him off. "I wanted to tell you, Neville, I just didn't know how to start. Every time I thought about it, I couldn't quite figure how to bring it up. Then all this time went by, and I still hadn't told you, it became almost too easy. I figured if I did eventually tell you, you'd be mad that I'd waited."

It wasn't Neville's imagination that Harry looked nervous. In fact, he looked almost concerned, and quite contrite.

None of that meant anything to Neville at that moment.

"You were concerned that I would be angry because you knew why my mum and dad are mental, and that I could have been you?" Neville voice wavered, but there was no mistaking the harsh tone.

"Yes. No, it's not like that," Harry insisted. "I just didn't know what to say."

Neville repeated each word back, slowly. "You didn't know what to say."

He stared at Harry in disbelief.

Who was this boy? This wasn't the famous Harry Potter that his gran had told him great stories about when he'd cried at night when he was small. Harry Potter always knew what to say. Harry was brave and smart and truthful. He was perfect.

Actually, no, he wasn't.

Harry Potter was a fucking liar.

"You let me feel guilty for almost two years about breaking your prophecy when it was mine too?!" Neville shouted.

Harry stared.

Neville had never shouted in his life.

Neville never raised his voice to anyone. He was meek and mild. Neville was never a threat. He was just a poor orphan who lived with his grandmother and couldn't remember anything about his parents. Neville was lousy in all his classes and might as well have been a Squib. Neville was a no one.

Or perhaps not.

He took a step towards Harry, and stared at him as though seeing him for the first time. His hair was a mess, and his glasses were crooked, again. The scar on his forehead was ugly, and he was just another boy. He wasn't anybody special at all. He was just another teenage boy, and Neville had been stupid enough to fall for his nonsense.

"Did you just snog me because you felt guilty?" he said, honestly curious. "Or was that you feeling sorry for me?"

Harry's mouth fell open in shock. "No! Neville, I'd never do that to you, you know that. I fucked up, I admit it, but I do fancy you; I just didn't know how to tell you. You can ask Hermione. Just last week she told me I was hopeless because it was obvious that you had no idea I was keen on you, but because I couldn't figure out what to say, nothing would ever come of it. Why do you think I said no to --"

"Shut. Up." Neville cut Harry off. "You expect me to believe that the great prophesied Harry Potter fancies the lowly Neville Longbottom, who wasn't even good enough to be killed by Vol -- Vol -- You-Know-Who? Come off it, Harry."

Harry's face darkened, and he looked on the verge of shouting himself. Instead, he took a deep breath, and ran his fingers through his hair. "Neville, just let me explain."

Neville was incredulous. "Explain what exactly? I think you've explained quite enough, don't you?"

The question was rhetorical, but Harry took his opening where he could. "We have to talk about this, Neville, you need to understand—"

"I think I understand too bloody well, thank you very much."

"I didn't do this to hurt you. I know what it's like to be lied to."

Neville was adamant. "This is not about you. Not every thing is about Harry bloody Potter!"

"I can explain," Harry insisted through gritted teeth.

"No." Turning around, Neville took several long strides to reach the door. His fingers grasped the handle, and the door opened grudgingly. It seemed to weigh twice as much as normal.

"Neville, please." Harry moved across the room quickly, but he stopped immediately when Neville yanked his wand out of his pocket and pointed it at Harry's chest.

The look of shock on Harry's face would have been laughable on anyone else, and Neville's hand shook only slightly. He felt as though he should be crying, but couldn't quite remember how.

"Don't you fucking 'Neville' me, Harry. You knew. You knew, and you didn't see fit to tell me. I'd always thought you were this great hero, who fought for truth and right and all that bollocks. I was so proud that I could call you my friend." Neville's voice dropped slightly. "I fancied you madly, but obviously I couldn't see the truth. You're just a liar, Harry Potter. Stay away from me."

Neville shoved his wand in his pocket hard enough to rip his robes, and left the room, ignoring Harry's voice trailing after him.


Neville stumbled up the stairs to the tower, his cheeks heated and his skin itching strangely. He could feel all sorts of things simmering below the surface, and he stopped for a second and leaned against the wall, feeling inexplicably exhausted. The stones were cold where he rubbed his cheek again them, and when he closed his eyes he saw the rims of Harry's glasses, which forced him to keep his eyes open. It was an odd feeling, not blinking, but everything just then was strange, foreign and wrong.

Neville had just shouted at Harry. He had just fought with Harry Potter and walked away. Neville couldn't imagine anyone ever walking away from Harry, especially if the result meant feeling so tired. Perhaps it was a side effect of all the anger, because Neville was most definitely angry, and he didn't particularly enjoy the sensation. He never tended to get seriously upset for a host of reasons, not the least of which being he never had much to be vexed about. Neville tended to accept his lot in life and get on with it. He was never going to be the fastest or the strongest or the richest or the most popular. That was simply how it went. That was how Neville was built, but he made the best of what he did have. He didn't have boys and girls fawning all over him, but he'd felt that he didn't need that when he had good friends. Even if one person wasn't quite as good a friend as he'd thought, Neville himself was still dependable and sincere. He made a fine show of doing what had to be done when it had to be done. Harry had once said he was worth twelve of Draco Malfoy, and Malfoy was quite rich and somewhat attractive, but Neville didn't really want to think about Malfoy or Harry.

He scratched at his neck, sighed, and kept walking down the hall, ignoring the murmuring of several portraits. When he reached the Fat Lady, he cleared his throat to wake her up from her doze. She looked at him for several seconds, lifting a monocle he had never seen her with before.

"Are you quite all right, dear? You don't look terribly well."

Neville shrugged; he didn't feel terribly well either, yet, for once, he had no problem remembering the password.

"Persnickety," he said, waiting for the portrait to clear the entrance.

Though it was late in the evening, there were still quite a few people in the common room, and Neville nodded at one of the Creevey brothers and gave Ginny Weasley a half-hearted smile as he headed for the stairs. He heard someone calling his name but ignored it, and his right foot had just cleared the first stair when he felt someone's hand on his shoulder.

Neville spun around so quickly that he pushed whoever it was away at the same time that he fell off the stair.

"Bloody hell, Neville, what was that for?" Ron's eyes were huge, and he was rubbing at his shoulder when Neville had presumably pushed him. By the fireplace, Neville could see Hermione watching them like an eagle owl.


"Didn't you hear me calling you?" Ron said.

Neville lied. "No, I didn't. Sorry."

"I was just going to ask you where Harry was. I reckoned he'd be coming back with you and..."

Neville cut Ron off abruptly. "I don't know; I'm not his keeper." He got a strange sense of satisfaction from the gobsmacked look on Ron's face as he turned away and went up to their room.

Thankfully, neither Dean nor Seamus were there, and Neville made minimal work of preparing for bed. Having short hair cut down his showering time drastically, and he sat on his bed rubbing his hair dry, until there was a great to-do at the window and an enormous owl fell thru and into the room.

Despite whatever sort of day Neville had been having, he had to laugh. Evinrude was a strange vulture-hybrid sort of owl, but he was quite smart even if he was rather ugly and accident-prone. Neville's gran, Phyllida, had even had a hat made in homage to her favorite owl.

Neville dropped his towel on the bed, and patted the mattress for Evinrude to fly up. The owl made a strange sort of hooting-squawking noise when he landed, and one of his wings smacked Neville in the head.

"I'm all right," he said when Evinrude hoot-squawked again.

Evinrude rustled his feathers, and Neville glanced at piercing yellow eyes. "Yes, really. Don't worry about it." He set about removing the parchment from the owl's leg, and only jumped slightly when Evinrude let loose with another hoot-squawk.

"Don't worry about it, really. You'll set gran worrying, and I doubt you want to fly back out here twice in the same week." Evinrude's wings flapped, and he hopped about on the bed, butting Neville in the chin.

"Stop that, or I'll never be able to remove this," Neville said, his finger wedged between the parchment and the owl's leg.

Evinrude finally came to a rest on Neville's newly washed pyjamas, and Neville shook his head. He removed the parchment with a tug, freeing a small square of red tissue paper that floated a few inches above the coverlet rather than falling onto the bed. With one last hoot-squawk, Evinrude flapped off the bed and took off, just barely managing to squeeze himself out the small window.

Neville smiled despite himself, and pulled the hangings around his bed before unrolling the parchment.

Something told me you needed this. -- Gran

Short and to the point, just like his gran.

Neville unwrapped the red packet and stared at the shining star that emerged from the last fold of tissue paper. He had no idea what it was supposed to do. When he reached out to touch it, his fingers tingled, and in a vaguely painful way it reminded Neville of how he felt when Harry kissed him. Rather than dwell on that, he quickly changed into his pyjamas, hopped out of bed long enough to extinguish the light and then climbed back into bed. The glittering star hovered near the canopy, but Neville would sort it out in the morning. He had just closed his eyes when a burst of brightness made him open them again.

The star had exploded, and in its place were thousands of little stars, sticking to the canopy of his bed. It was like being outdoors without leaving his room, and Neville blinked in wonder. His gran had only surprised him with things like this when he was small, and she'd never told him how it was done. She'd said he would find out the truth when he was older; she'd said that about a lot of things. If she had known about the prophecy, though, she would have told him. It wasn't in her nature to keep secrets, and despite the events of the day, Neville fell asleep feeling strangely contented about his lot in life.

At least some people were still trustworthy.


The trouble with Hogwarts, as Neville saw it, was that despite all appearances to the contrary, it wasn't as big as it should have been. If someone wanted to avoid another person, who was in their year and shared their bedroom and all their classes, doing so was not terribly easy.

Over the next several days, Neville was forced to leave the tower at the most ridiculous hours of the morning, except for when there was Quidditch practise, just to eat breakfast without becoming irrationally ill and angry.

During classes, he made a point of arriving late, thereby ensuring several detentions, but also ensuring he was the closest to the door and the furthest away from The-Boy-Who-Neville-Was-Very-Disappointed-In.

Neville continually skipped lunch, whilst being the first to dinner, and every free hour was spent in the greenhouses, which seemed to be the only safe havens in the entire school. Thankfully, Professor Sprout was more than encouraging of Neville's Herbology interest, and if he failed all his other NEWTS, he would certainly get top marks in that discipline.

There was one class, however, that Neville would take no chances in being tardy for. No matter how disappointed Neville was in Harry and his behaviour, and all the things that might have been but obviously were not going to be now, he knew better than to be late for Potions and risk the wrath of Snape.

So, on the correct day and time, while everyone else enjoyed their lunch, Neville waited at the top of the stairs to the dungeon and when the first groups of students began leaving the Great Hall, Neville glommed onto a group that included Seamus and Parvati. He kept to himself as much as possible as the group descended into the dungeons, and he paused only to wipe his palms on his robes when it came time to enter the classroom. Dean was in the middle of telling some story about his beloved West Ham, but all conversation ceased immediately when they crossed over the threshold, which told Neville that Snape was already in residence.

Neville's heart began to beat erratically, and he kept his head down, bumping into the side of a workstation as everyone took up their places. He was entirely too young to have some sort of heart episode like his Aunt Octavia, but it was Snape's class, and he always managed to find new ways to torture Neville, so anything was possible. Everyone was silent as the seconds ticked by and more students trickled into the room; Neville kept his eyes firmly trained on his worktop until he heard someone shifting around beside him. With any luck it would be Hermione, there to save him from yet another disastrous Potions class, but knowing Neville it was probably Malfoy or Bulstrode, there to torment him.

However, neither was the case, and Neville paled considerably when he looked up and came face to face with Harry Potter. Harry's smile faded away as Neville stared at him in disbelief. The cheek of him was unbelievable.

"Go away, Harry," Neville said, turning away to see if there was anyone without a partner. There was Goyle, but then Crabbe waddled through the door. There was Parkinson, but she was with Bulstrode. Hermione was with Ron, but there was Malfoy. Could partnering Malfoy really be that much worse than being with Harry? Neville began to gather his books, but he was stopped by Harry's hand on his shoulder and Blaise Zabini sliding in beside Malfoy.

"Neville --"

Neville rounded on Harry angrily, shrugging Harry's hand off. "Go. Away."

Something flashed across Harry's face briefly, but before he could speak, Snape's voice drawled from somewhere behind Neville, and Neville dropped all his books on the floor. "When you've quite finished, Longbottom, perhaps you'd be good enough to pay attention to my instruction. I plan on having everyone pass their NEWTS this year, even the completely inept. However, I'd rather that not mean I have to spend every second hovering over you simply to make that happen."

Neville swallowed before turning around and looking Snape in the eye. "Yes, sir."

Neville's heart hammered in his chest, and he wondered for the thousandth time what it was about Snape that terrified him so much, apart from the sallow features and the greasy hair and the completely rotten disposition. Snape moved on, thankfully, and Neville bent down to pick up his books. He was completely appalled when Harry tried to help him.

"Neville, I just wanted to talk to you," Harry whispered, picking up Neville's Transfiguration text. "I'm sorry about not telling you, but can we talk about --"

"Piss off, Harry," Neville cut Harry off, snatching the book away. "I've got nothing to say to liars."

"Would you just listen for a bloody minute?" Harry hissed, but Neville ignored him. He stood back up, turned away from Harry and arranged his books on the corner of his desk, doing his best to pay attention to what Snape was saying about Revitalising Potions. It was twice as difficult as usual, however, with Harry next to him trying to get his attention, and Snape shooting dirty looks at them every other minute.

Finally, Snape finished with his instruction, and Neville immediately scooted away to gather ingredients. There was a rush for the dried tadpoles, and Neville found himself queued up behind Hermione and wishing desperately he could work with her instead. "Hermione, do you suppose Ron would trade places with me if you asked him too?" he said, emptying a spoon full of salamander eggs onto the ingredients tray.

Hermione didn't look up from measuring out her Abyssinian figs. "Why would I do that, Neville?"

"Because I don't want to work with Harry."

Hermione frowned. "Why not?"

Neville tried to whisper, "It's personal."

Hermione's reply was drowned out by Malfoy cackling behind them. "It's personal, is it, Longbottom? What happen, you and Potty have a lover's quarrel? Oh, wait, I suppose you'd have to get a date, first, for that wouldn't you? Not to worry, I've heard mudbloods aren't at all picky."

Neville blanched, then coloured, and then got exceptionally angry.

The next several seconds passed by in a blur that he would never be able to explain, even under Veritaserum. One moment, Malfoy was sniggering at Neville, and the next Hermione was shouting and restraining Ron. Harry appeared out of nowhere and socked Malfoy a good one in the eye. Malfoy went down, and Pansy Parkinson started shouting as well. There were dried tadpoles and figs everywhere, and over the din, Harry tried to apologise to Neville, again, and Neville began shouting, again. Which then led Harry to start shouting as well about Neville's 'bloody-mindedness' which really did Neville's head in because he wasn't the lying git.

Neville didn't need any fake hero trying to rescue him, thank you very much.

The air turned thick with indignation and the smell of powdered dandelions, and Neville turned around to get away from the mess that had been created, but Harry wouldn't let it go.

Neville very clearly heard the words "unreasonable fit bastard," and he thought they were directed at him.

"Can't you just piss off?" Neville snapped, whirling around to face Harry, only to find himself staring into Snape's pinched visage.

All the blood in Neville's body went from hot to cold, and his legs barely managed to keep him upright.

"'Piss. Off.' Mr Longbottom?" Snape's voice was cold and disembodied. He wasn't even sneering. Neville was entirely too old to faint, but he was very close. This was his worst-case scenario, ever, and he desperately wanted to say 'Riddikulus.'

"I'm sorry, sir. I wasn't. I didn't." Neville tried, but his vocal cords seized up, and he bit his tongue when Snape's stare penetrated through to his brain.

"You're not sorry, yet, but you will be," Snape said. "You can think about how sorry you are while you and your hero, Mr Potter, are serving detention this evening."

Neville nodded, but Snape wasn't finished. He turned to the assembled students who were looking back at him warily.

"Miss Parkinson please escort Mr Malfoy to the Infirmary lest his eye swell up and he run into something, thereby injuring the other. Weasley, stop grunting like an animal. The rest of you hooligans may also think about how sorry Longbottom and Potter are while you write me an eighteen-inch essay on the ten properties of Unicorn blood when combined with the heart of a Welsh Green Dragon."


In seven years at Hogwarts, Neville had had more than his share of detentions. He hadn't had quite as many as Seamus or Ron, but he'd certainly had a few, and he'd found that they were all very different depending on the professor.

Detentions for Professor Flitwick tended to be interactive and learning-oriented with special charms, while detentions for Professor Sprout invariably involved something Herbology-related. McGonagall's detentions tended to be tedious, but fair, while Filch just went for old-fashioned hard labour, much like Neville's gran. Detentions with Snape, however, were drawn out sessions in pain, suffering and sadism, which was why Neville was trapped in one of Snape's less than well-lit storerooms, trying to make order out of complete and utter chaos.

Cauldrons clanked as he piled them on top of each other so he could get into the corners of the room and clean as if his life depended on it, which it might have knowing Snape. If there were a system to be found to Snape's disorder, Neville had yet to discover it. Of course, he was only supposed to be cleaning, not rearranging, because Snape "wouldn't trust him to organise books in the library without causing an accident," and "would sooner have tea with first years" than let Neville touch his precious ingredients.

So, instead of cataloguing thousands of ingredients, like Harry, Neville was sweeping and sneezing and getting dust all over his robes. He could have spent quite a long amount of time resenting Snape, which he did when he wasn't fearing him, but he'd much rather resent Harry, who kept popping around the doorway and inquiring if Neville needed anything.

Neville did not need anything, no thanks to Harry bloody Potter, who was still incredibly fit even if he was a deceiving git, who had fame and adoration and parents who were dead instead of wandering around the fourth floor of St Mungo's. Not to get Neville wrong, he loved his mum and dad very much, but he didn't really remember much about life before he lived with his gran, and he wouldn't have minded hearing stories about what his parents were like when they were at school. People always went on about Lily and James Potter, but nobody seemed to remember Frank and Alice Longbottom except their immediate family.

All things considered, Neville could've had a lot to feel angry and hostile about, and... and yet Neville didn't think he did hostile terribly well. Every snide remark pained him just that little bit, and somewhat unexpectedly, he still fancied Harry despite the recent revelations. Harry had always been kind to him, even when he didn't have to be, and he seemed to understand about Neville's parents. He never made fun of Neville's clumsiness. Even before Neville had realised he fancied Harry, he had genuinely liked him, which perhaps was what made everything so much worse: he had trusted Harry, and Harry had abused that.

Neville had always thought Harry was above that sort of behaviour. To find out he was just as bad as everyone else was tremendously disappointing, if not very humbling. It was a long fall from the top of any pedestal, and Harry wasn't perfect; he was just as fallible as anyone else.

When Neville finished with the cauldrons, he removed his robe and hung it on a hook on the back of the door. It was already covered in dust, but it was impossibly hot in the confined space, and Neville's undershirt was sticking to his back.

He took a moment to consider the creaking shelves that were crammed with ingredients and things he'd never seen, let alone used: oak roots, arsenic, asphodel and wormwood, salamander's eggs, rabbits feet and phoenix tears, Monarch butterfly wings and dried Everreds. He was going to be cleaning for the rest of his life at this rate.

Neville paused at the Everreds, and reached out to remove the jar from the shelf. He'd read all about Everreds in 'Mystery-Us Herbs and Flowers' by Heather Fern; they were beautiful when they bloomed, but survived only on human blood. Professor Sprout refused to grow them because they were 'dark plants.'

"I didn't hear you clanking around, so I came to make sure you hadn't been attacked by anything." Harry's voice disrupted Neville's thoughts for the umpteenth time that evening, and the jar of Everreds slipped in his grasp. For a second, Neville was certain he was going to drop it, and he had countless visions of endless detentions with Snape. Somehow he managed to hold on to the jar. He blinked, however, when he realised Harry had tried to rescue the jar at the same time, and his hand was now covering Neville's own. He was the Gryffindor seeker for a reason, Neville mused, before a larger problem made itself known: the body attached to the hand had moved as well, and Harry's proximity was entirely too close for Neville's comfort. Harry's robe was redolent of paste and ink, and the smell made Neville think of the dark corners of the library where people went to snog.

"You have dust on your face," Harry said, reaching out and brushing Neville's cheek with calloused fingers. Neville leaned into Harry's touch before he remembered that he was still vexed with Harry, except that the deluge of anger he expected to arrive never came. Moving his head away from Harry's fingers, Neville gently tugged the jar away from Harry.

"I think I can manage to put it back on my own."

"Right," Harry said, letting go slowly.

"You should probably get back to cataloguing," Neville suggested.



Neville turned away from Harry to slide the jar of dried flowers back on the shelf. He managed to knock some dust loose when replacing the Everreds though, and he sneezed when it floated into his face. Keeping his eyes closed, Neville blindly groped for the hem of his shirt, and pulling it up, used it to wipe the dust off his face.

When he felt it was safe to open his eyes, he squinted and then opened them fully, only to find Harry staring at him with a glazed expression on his face. Neville wasn't quite sure what Harry was staring at, but it wasn't really his problem.

"Don't you have work to do?" he reminded Harry.

Harry nodded his head, and when he lifted his hand to push his hair behind his ear, he knocked his glasses askew. It was probably the lighting or the close quarters, but Neville could have sworn that Harry looked flushed. "Look, Neville, I know you're still angry with me about the prophecy," Harry began, but Neville turned away.

"You just don't know when to leave well enough alone, do you, Harry?" he said, his voice devoid of the bitterness that it had carried for the last week.

"I wish you would listen to me for one second," Harry said, his voice dropping off as he turned away. "Because I think you're making things more difficult than they need to be, but never mind, it won't happen again."

After Harry left, Neville sat down on a cauldron and wondered, not for the first time, what life would've been like if he were the famous Harry Potter, or if his parents were sane. He wondered what it would be like if Harry had told him about the prophecy earlier, and if all this bad feeling could have been avoided. He had no idea how long he spent thinking before he snapped out his daze; none of this wondering was finishing up his detention. In the end, Neville found playing 'what if' very tiring and frustrating.

It was almost as exhausting as being angry with Harry.


The morning after Snape's detention, Neville went back to his usual schedule. Nothing had been resolved between Harry and him, but all the anger had taken its toll, and Neville simply couldn't be arsed to feel so emotional any more; it was too much work. He had lost weight based on all the lunches he'd missed, and he was tired of not being able to spend time in the tower without worrying who'd be coming through the door at any moment. More important than anything else, though, Neville didn't want to risk any more detentions with Snape. Bad enough Neville had to suffer through Potions lessons twice a week; he didn't need to spend extra time with the man as well.

So, Neville had breakfast with Seamus and Dean, and when Harry came in fresh from Quidditch practise, Neville didn't suddenly have to go off somewhere else. He didn't engage Harry in any sort of conversation, but he didn't glare at him either, which was quite the concession all things considered. It wasn't life the way it used to be when Neville thought Harry could do no wrong, but it was passable. He managed to hand Ron the bacon without incident, and when Hermione joined them she made a point of smiling at Neville as though she was pleased to see him. When the mail arrived, Evinrude brought him the weekly missive from his gran, and a note from his Uncle Algie questioning what Neville wanted for his eighteenth birthday in July, and if he knew whether or not Muggles really had something called fox machines that could hunt rabbits and receive letters faster than owl mail.

After breakfast there were classes and lunch and then more classes, and a tutoring session in the library with Ernie McMillan because he was doing crap in Herbology, and Professor Sprout had suggested that Neville help him. When Neville returned to the tower late that afternoon, he didn't really have anything on his mind except a shower before dinner and perhaps a game of chess with Ginny if she was about. All things told it wasn't the best day of his life, but it wasn't so bad either. In fact it was rather average, or so Neville thought until he tripped through the portrait hole and found Hermione waiting for him.

Neville didn't actually know she was waiting for him until she said so, but considering the lack of other people in the common room, and the grave tone of her voice, Neville momentarily thought someone had died before dismissing the idea out of hand. Surely Dumbledore would tell him something like that or McGonagall or... "Did someone die?" he demanded, taking Hermione completely by surprise.

She had the grace to look properly shocked and contrite before she climbed out of her chair and gave him a brief cuddle. "Considering that no one is allowed to kill Ron but me, I certainly hope not," she said, squeezing his arm and motioning for him to sit down.

"Oh, right." Neville dropped his books by one of the plush armchairs and sat down opposite Hermione expectantly. "So, then, what do you need to talk to me about?"


Neville immediately scooted forward until he was perched on the edge of the chair. Reaching out he groped blindly for his books and his bag. "Hermione, I'm sure you mean well, but there's no point in talking to me about Harry. There's nothing to talk about."

Getting to his feet, Neville gave her a perfunctory smile and prepared to head up to his room.

Hermione's voice carried clearly in the empty room. "He fancies you, Neville. Quite a bit actually, and he's sorry for what he's done."

Neville's books made a thudding noise as they slipped out of his hands. He left them there, and went back to where Hermione was still sitting in her chair. Grabbing the chair he had just vacated, he dragged it closer to Hermione's chair.

"Do you know what he's done?" Neville asked.

"I know about the prophecy," Hermione admitted.

Neville inhaled sharply. "How long have you known?"

"For a little while."

Neville sat back in the chair, and considered Hermione for several seconds. She didn't blink or flinch, holding his gaze the entire time. "So, you know how I'm involved? You know that I could have been Harry, and that's -- that's most likely why my parents are in hospital." Neville paused. "Why didn't you tell me?"

Hermione sighed.

"It wasn't my place to tell you, because the prophecy was never mine, Neville," she said. "Even so, it doesn't change anything. Harry is Harry and you're you, and I know that both of you are brilliant in your own particular ways."

Neville made a noise of derision, but coloured when Hermione gave him a disapproving look. "I know it can't be easy finding out something like this, and I completely agree that Harry should have told you sooner, but I can see why he didn't."

"By all means, enlighten me," Neville mocked. The condescension came of its own accord; it was just another strange thing that randomly slipped out when Neville wasn't paying enough attention to staying in the background.

Hermione chose to ignore his tone. "Neville, Harry's always taken it upon himself to look out for everyone, because that's what he believes he's supposed to do: protect people from harm and all the bad things out there. Think about all the times that Harry's taken on Vol... Voldemort."

Neville blanched as Hermione paused.

"For the first eleven years of Harry's life nobody cared about him, and then suddenly he discovered this whole new world where people cared about him, but only in regards to how he could help them. Somewhere along the line Harry's gotten things messed up, and he believes that people only want him to protect them and that nobody wants him for himself."

Neville's mouth opened and closed, but nothing came out, and he could feel Hermione's eyes on him. Harry had been his hero. Harry had been everybody's hero. No one really thought about heroes as being like everyone else. They weren't supposed to make mistakes.

Neville sighed under Hermione's intense scrutiny. "That doesn't excuse the fact that he lied to me, Hermione. He deliberately deceived me."

Hermione shifted in her chair, leaning forward so that she and Neville were knee to knee. "Are you telling me you've never lied to someone you care about?"

Neville thought about his parents and his gran, and how his gran used to talk about them getting better. That never happened; but sometimes they still talked about it as though it were a real possibility. They were lies, but necessary ones. "That's different."

Hermione shook her head. "No, it's not. The trouble with Harry is that he's just like everyone else, but nobody seems to want to believe that. He throws wobblers and gets spots. He can be an annoying, self-righteous bastard when he wants to be, and people don't want to see it, but it's true. Harry's not perfect Neville, he never has been."

Neville rubbed his hand over his head and brought it down to cup his cheek thoughtfully. His gran said his dad used to do that when he didn't know what to say.

"More importantly," Hermione continued, "Harry is never going to be perfect, Neville, and he wants someone who'll understand that. I don't have to tell you that there are things happening and none of us are sure what's going to happen next, but Harry's going to need someone with him who can support him, right now. I, we, Ron and I, want someone who's going to understand all that, too." She smiled at Neville. "We think you're it."

Neville stared at her.

"You're mad."

She laughed. "That's not the first time I've heard that."

Getting to her feet, Hermione reached down and patted Neville on the shoulder again. "Just think about it."


Over the next several days, after his conversation with Hermione, Neville tried to figure out how to proceed in his relationship with Harry, and if he even wanted to.

He'd fully returned to his regular schedule of meals and classes, but there were subtle changes in his attitude that made all the difference in his day. He felt better about himself, and his letters to his gran were a bit more upbeat. Professor Flitwick caught him humming during a detention he was serving for being late to Transfigurations and some how convinced McGonagall to let him go early. When the Slytherins laughed at him in the hall, it didn't bother Neville as much as it used to. More importantly, however, being around Harry didn't make him as nervous as it once had. The omniculars were removed, and Neville could see Harry clearly. Quite a bit of that was due to the realisation that Harry was no different than he was, and in a way it was disappointing, but the disappointment wasn't overwhelming anymore. In fact it was a relief; and Neville was happily puttering around Greenhouse Two when Harry eventually came looking for him, again. Actually, he wasn't puttering as much as he was dragging around sacks of dragon fertiliser for Professor Sprout.

It felt good to work in the greenhouse, and Neville had left his cloak and his books by the door so he wouldn't get them dirty. He'd smeared all sorts of things across his white shirt, however, and he'd just stacked the last sack by the door when it swung open and smacked him in the nose. It hurt quite a bit, and Neville let out a small groan when Harry's face appeared through the mottled glass. Immediately, Neville brought his hand up to his nose to make sure it hadn't been broken again, and when Harry's head popped around the door to see the racket, his face went through a litany of emotions which made Neville laugh in spite of himself.

"Bloody hell, did I do that? Are you all right?" Harry immediately reached out to assess the damage, and his fussing amused Neville to no end. "Do I need to take you to the infirmary? Is it broken?"

Neville batted Harry's hand away, and pulled his own hand away from his nose to check its status. "No blood. I'll live."

Harry continued to look horrified, and Neville shook his head. "Don't worry about it, really," he said, clapping Harry on the shoulder briefly before turning back towards the rows of plants before them. "If being dropped out a window didn't do me in, being hit with a door shouldn't even leave a mark."

He still needed to prune the Fawning Fairylilies and spend some time with the Trilling Tulips. There was also the Tentacula that needed to be fed. Nodding decisively, he headed down the row towards the Fairylilies, but was stopped when Harry grabbed his hand. He turned smartly on his heel, glanced down at their joined hands and then back at Harry. "Planning on helping me with the Fairylilies then?"

Harry looked slightly flustered, but he smiled. "So you're talking to me, again?"

Neville shrugged.

"I'll help if you want me to," Harry prodded. He looked almost hopeful, which reminded Neville of the first time he could remember asking his gran if she ever thought his mum and dad would get better.

He'd grown up a lot since then. He'd become more independent and a lot less optimistic, whereas Harry always seemed to have hope.

Neville wondered how he did that.

"It's up to you," Neville shrugged, again. "But you'll need to take off your robes and watch out for the glitter."

Harry made a move to remove his robe, one-handed, and Neville tugged at where Harry's fingers were interlocked with his own. "I've heard that works better with two hands," he said, with a wink.

Harry blinked, and Neville bit the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing. It was the greenhouse and being in an environment where he was comfortable that made him cheeky. His gran said he was at his most entertaining after he'd been in the mud and flowers all day.

Neville watched as Harry removed his robe, and something fluttered deep in his stomach. He'd never stopped fancying Harry, and with good reason. Underneath his robe, Harry wore a dingy gray shirt and old muggle jeans, but the shirt was obviously old and a bit too small. Harry's arms were tan, and there was flash of skin between the hem of his shirt and the waist of his trousers. Neville swallowed, and when he turned around to lead Harry towards the Fairylilies he almost knocked over several pots of Pufferfin Posies. Some things never changed.

He made polite conversation about the upcoming Quidditch match as he led Harry towards the other end of the greenhouse and into the workroom at the back. The workroom was a solid enclosure, only partially made of glass, where Professor Sprout generally kept some of the more interesting plants. There were a few young Mandrakes as well as a Venomous Gnat Trap and seedlings for several plants that Neville wasn't supposed to recognise as they might have been illegal Muggle plants.

Neville waited until Harry was through the door before shutting it firmly behind them.

"I didn't know there was a backroom," Harry confessed, walking around and looking at the plants.

Neville glanced at him as he pulled two pairs of gloves off of Professor Sprout's workbench. "Most people don't spend enough time in the greenhouses to know much of anything."

Harry was silent for a second. "You spend a lot of time here, don't you?"

"I'm hoping to open my own nursery one day," Neville confessed. "Eventually."

Harry turned and smiled at him. "You should do that."

"I will," Neville said. "One day. I'm hoping --" he began again, before cutting himself off. In one, two, strides Neville was across the workroom and slapping a plant that was about to try and have a taste of Harry. "Stop that," he said, to the Gnat Trap, gently guiding Harry out of the plant's reach.

Harry stumbled over a bag of fertilizer that Neville had missed, and he gripped at Neville's bicep for a second and left his hand there for several seconds more. Neville said nothing, but eventually slipped away to the safety of the other side of an empty workspace.

"You'll want to pay a bit more attention to them," he said, gesturing to the plants, before he hefted two large pots of Fairylilies onto the worktable. "They can be very persistent."

Neville bit the inside of his cheek to stop from laughing at the dumbfounded expression on Harry's face, and he smiled as he handed Harry a pair of dragon-hide work gloves. "They remind me of you," he commented lightly.

Harry smiled back and then looked slightly affronted when he realised Neville had handed him bright pink gloves. He put them on, and watched as Neville turned his own pot around carefully to consider the best angle. "The plants remind you of me? Or the pink gloves? I think I'm insulted."

"Don't be," Neville said, taking up a tiny pair of shears and carefully beginning to clip away at the flowers. Blue pollen, like glitter, fell onto the table along with the dried leaves. "I like plants."

He motioned for Harry to do likewise, and they worked in solicitous silence for several minutes; Harry pausing every now and then to watch Neville and copy his movements.



Harry stopped and put down his shears. "I'm sorry. I know you don't want to hear it, and I know you're still angry with me, but I just needed to tell you that. I know I made a right mess of things, but I tend to do that. I don't know if you'd noticed, but it happens quite a lot."

Neville continued his ministrations even as he could feel Harry watching him. "I talked to Hermione the other day," he said, wondering if Harry would take the bait.

"About what?" Harry leaned forward slightly, only to reel back to make sure the flowers weren't going to try and have him for tea.

Neville laughed, and Harry had the grace to look slightly sheepish. "About you, strangely enough."

"About me?"

"Hmm," Neville turned his pot to make sure he had pruned in all the proper places, and crouched down to look directly into the soil. "She seemed to have this mental idea that you fancied me, but I told her she was mad."

"I do fancy you, you know that. I told you that. " Harry was leaning forward again, so far, in fact, he was practically crushing his flowers. "The problem is that you refuse to listen to me because you're a stubborn git, who's entirely too good-looking."

"Are you talking about me, or you?" Neville queried.

Harry made a noise, and Neville fought very hard not to be charmed. Possibly he should have still been angry, but he just couldn't be arsed.

Instead, he straightened up, and moved his finished pot onto another surface so he could rescue the one Harry was ignoring. He pulled the plant away from Harry, and glanced fleetingly at Harry's stricken expression.

"You told me a lot of things," Neville prompted, turning the plant to work the proper angle.

"Do you want me to apologise again, because I will," Harry said, taking off his gloves and tossing them on the table. "But you should know that I can only say 'I'm sorry' so many times, and I wish you'd either forgive me or tell me to sod off so I can stop going mental."

Neville looked at him, but said nothing.

"I'm sorry, Neville. I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner and kept the prophecy from you. You should have known; you deserved to know, and I was a bastard for not telling you." There was a note of earnest desperation that took Neville by surprise, and he blinked deliberately before going back to the Fairylilies.

Harry's eyes followed him as Neville considered the flowers, and he could feel the heat from Harry's gaze stirring the hairs on the nape of his neck and making his stomach do bad Quidditch moves.

"I count on you to be honest with me, Harry," Neville said quietly.

"I know. I know, I just..."

"You didn't know what to say."


Neville stopped what he was doing, placed the shears out of harm's way, and considered Harry for several seconds. He leaned forward, towards Harry, until they were practically nose-to-nose across the table. Harry blinked rapidly, and Neville felt something move under his skin again. Unlike the previous incarnations, it wasn't an unpleasant sensation. Harry's lips were parted slightly, his breath coming in warm bursts, and Neville could easily have snogged him. Instead he spoke. "You should watch out, you're getting glitter all over your shirt."

Harry's face went from expectant to confused to annoyed. He glanced down briefly at the blue pollen coating his shirt, and then back at Neville. "I don't care."

Neville shrugged, and lost his sense of balance, almost falling on the table. Rather than laughing, however, Harry rushed to keep him standing. When Neville had regained his own footing, Harry came around the other side of the table, and turned Neville around to face him. "Can I snog you now, or would you like me to apologise more?"

Neville pretended to consider it for several seconds, but he was taken off guard when Harry swept in and covered Neville's lips with his own. This kiss was even better than the first, and Neville yanked off his gloves so he could touch Harry freely. The first time he'd been shocked and uncertain. He'd thought Harry too fragile and irreplaceable to be touched like everyone else. This time, Neville pulled away long enough to remove Harry's glasses and place them on the table behind them.

"Better," he said, before guiding Harry's lips back to his own.

Neville's fingers were grubby, and he was certain he reeked of all sorts of unpleasant things, but that didn't stop Harry from kissing along his jaw line and biting at his earlobe.

Whatever the state of Neville's clothing, it didn't stop Harry from mauling him, and didn't stop Neville from sliding his hands down Harry's chest and under the hem of that too-small shirt. Even underneath the dirt coating Neville's fingers, Harry's skin was smooth and warm. He moaned appreciatively when Neville's fingers pinched his nipples lightly, and Neville bit down on Harry's neck when Harry's hands began groping his arse.

After several minutes of carrying on this way, Neville pulled away slightly, feeling quite dizzy. Harry's arms were still firmly around him, so he didn't move terribly far; he wasn't trying.

Harry's mouth was wet, and he bit his lip thoughtfully while he studied Neville for a few seconds. "You have freckles on your nose," Harry announced decisively. "They're very small."

"Yes, and you have a scar on your forehead," Neville mocked. "But that's all right, nobody's perfect."

Harry's mouth opened, but no sound came out until he began to laugh uncontrollably. He didn't relinquish his hold on Neville, instead burying his head in Neville's neck until the shaking stopped.

Eventually, he lifted his head, and brushed his mouth against Neville's enticingly, but Neville pulled away.

"Is there anything else you need to tell me?" he asked, cautiously.

"Just one thing," Harry admitted.


"I've never had a boyfriend before."

Neville laughed.

"The trouble with you, Harry Potter, is that you think that's a problem."

"Is that my only problem?" Harry said.

Neville thought about it. "No, but we have time to work on that."


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