It was over an hour before they were finally outside and as predicted, the weather had moved in filling the air with a fine drizzle. Neville had taken this into account, wearing his walking boots and waterproofs. Hannah, on the other hand, hadn’t.
“Are we going to be out here long, Nev?” She asked as she held her wand up to cast the umbrella charm. She held herself tightly to keep the cold out as she looked around in distaste.
“I was going to keep going until lunchtime. I need to find some Bulgerwort and Pipeweed to compare for my essay.”
“Those aren’t hard to find are they?” She asked as she trailed behind him.
“They’re not the easiest. You can go back in, you didn’t need to come with me. I don’t want you catching a cold.”
“No, it’s ok. I wanted to talk to you about some things anyway, and we never seem to have any alone time any more.” He almost stopped walking and looked at her. He felt like that’s all they seemed to have these days.
He wondered whether she had noticed him eyeing Pansy, not that he’d been doing it on purpose. He wasn’t that sort of man. He was loyal to the end.
“Oh?” Was all he could say as he carried on walking.
“Neville, please slow down. Your legs are longer than mine.” She complained as she tried to keep up. He tried not to roll his eyes, but it was difficult.
“Sorry, Love.” He responded as he stopped to wait for her.
“Anyway, I wanted to know what your plans were for Christmas?”
He raised his eyebrows at that, Christmas was four months off. He’d assumed that he would spend it at home and possibly see the Weasley’s Harry and Hermione at the Burrow for a good portion of it too. He would have to check with Ginny as neither Harry nor Ron had returned. He hadn’t really seen Hermione since term had started, he’d have to try and sought her out too.
His mind wandered to the summer spent with them as they attempted to rebuild the castle. There were still areas that hadn’t been completed, but luckily they were parts of the castle that weren’t vital to lessons.
“I’m not really sure, I guess I’ll spend it with my family and see you and my friends too. I know that they’re always asking us over to the Burrow.” He smiled as he thought of the loud and busy red-heads. “I’d have to check though, it’s still a way off yet. Why?”
“I was wondering whether you wanted to spend it with my family and me?”
“That sounds nice, which day?”
“Day?” She asked, looking confused. “I meant for all of it,”
“All of it? What about my friends and family? I don’t get to see them during term time.”
“Your grandmother would be welcome too, of course.”
“But what about Ron and Harry and the others?”
“Well, I was thinking about that too.” She said, and Neville knew that he was not going to like the next bit either. He waited and watched as her lips fidgeted as though tasting the words before she said them. “They’ve not been the best friends, or role models to you have they? Disappearing without you. Leaving you to the Carrows, teasing you. I just thought that someone needed to tell you that they weren’t really your friends, not like I am.”
He took a deep breath as he tried to understand what she was suggesting.
“They never teased me, no more than we all teased each other.” He argued, it sounded lame, but he knew it was true. “They’ve never said a genuine bad word about me.”
“But they left you to the Carrow’s” She argued “They didn’t offer for you to go with them,” He couldn’t argue with that, but he didn’t mind, he thought of all the first years that he had managed to protect by just being there.
“It was better that I stayed behind, They left Ginny as well. Being on the run wasn’t safer than school, even with the Carrows.”
“I just don’t think they’re good for you, Nev. They were always causing trouble and losing house points. I think it’s a good thing that most of them didn’t return this year.”
Neville felt the sharp sting he always felt whenever he remembered that he was the only Gryffindor boy to have returned. He had wanted to finish his Newts so that he could at least say that he’d been able to achieve good grades. There was a job waiting for him in the Aurors when he left if he wanted it. Harry and Ron had both joined and were going through training. Dean and Seamus were also working at the ministry trying to rebuild and reorganise things. Dean had been taken on as an architect, and Seamus as demolitions.
He missed his friends, but Terry from Ravenclaw was alright, as was Wayne and Roger from Hufflepuff. He’d spoken to Theo a couple of times too, but the rest of the Slytherins kept to themselves. He still had Ginny, Luna and Hermione, but being girls, it just wasn’t the same.
“I don’t agree, Han. They’re my friends,” He turned to her to say more when he saw her fall.
He rushed to her side, the words he was about to say lost in his panic.
“Oh, Neville, It’s my ankle.” She whimpered as he touched it.
“Can you walk?” He asked as he tried to help her up.
“I’m not sure.” She confessed as he hooked her arm around his shoulder. She stepped out and attempted to place her foot down but cried out before jerking her foot up again. “No, it hurts too much, can you heal it?”
He shook his head. His healing spells had always been disastrous.
“I’d rather not risk it, let’s get you to the hospital wing.”
“Oh, but what about your research?”
“I’ll come back out later.” He sighed silently as he helped her slowly back to the castle.