A Glimpse of Lace – Chp 11 – 20

Chapter 11 – Through the Portrait Hole

It went on for the rest of the day, and Neville decided that he really didn’t like Thursdays. A double period of Charms, followed by a double period of Runes was enough to drive anyone to despair. Stephen continued to mutter lewd and spiteful comments during Charms and then Hannah proceeded to make his life hell in Ancient Runes. She cast a trip jinx at him as he was carrying his runes, sending them scuttling along the floor. No one saw the jinx and thought that clumsy Neville was back.

She knew that he didn’t want to be seen as a caricature of himself anymore. They had spent so many hours sat talking about each other that he knew that she had enough source material to make his life hell. Hermione and Ginny had shared many looks as the day had continued. The thought of spending another hour stuck between their non-verbal discussion was more than he could bear.

As lunchtime came around, he was about ready to blow off the day. Only the thought that the last lesson for the day was Herbology kept him going. He waved Hermione and Ginny on as he decided to head straight for the greenhouses.

He just wanted to be away from people in general. He passed the great hall with bearly a glance as he rushed away from the noise. The thought of being in the centre of that made his stomach churn. He longed to be outside where he could finally breath and could be alone with his own thoughts.

He kept his head down as he heard muttering and giggles as he walked by. He cursed Stephen and Hannah to Azkaban and back. No doubt he would be trying to live down any rumours until his children were in their 80’s.

He hoped Theo wasn’t angry with him for inadvertently involving him in this mess. He also hoped that Terry and Roger weren’t dragged in too.

He pushed through the oppressive doors and took a deep breath of the fresh air. As it filled his lungs, he immediately started to feel better. Having the breeze on his face helped him feel free for the first time that day. He felt drawn to the greenhouses, and it took everything he had not to run to them for sanctuary.

He threw his bag down and, not caring that the ground was wet, fell down in a heap against the damp wooden and glass frame, letting out a long sigh of relief. The building adrenaline slowly began to diminish as he just earthed himself. Feeling the damp grass soaking into his trousers and the cold, wet glass pressing against his skin. There was particular magic in just sitting in nature and letting its energy heal you.

His mind wandered through random thoughts as he tried to distract himself. When he had face Nagini, he had genuinely believed that he was about to die; but somehow, not only had he survived, he had triumphed. Looking back, he often wondered whether he had been under the imperious curse and that his actions were the result of someone else.

There was no way that those actions could have been his. His big feet and lanky frame made him far too clumsy and ungainly to be able to pull off a stunt like that successfully. His mind seemed to meander through various failures in his life as his eyes settled on watching some birds nesting in the castle walls. His mind replaying every single foolish thing he had ever done. 

He felt something nudge his arm and he turned, flinching when a figure loomed over him, as he waited for the blow to fall. It took him a moment to realise that it was Pansy who stared down at him, her grey eyes creased with concern.

“Hey,” She said gently pushing back a stray strand of her almost-perfect raven bob. “Can I sit down?” He nodded before pulling off what was left of his robes, folding them and placing them onto the damp ground. He glanced up and saw Pansy quirk her eyebrow with a smirk.

“Such a gentleman” She murmured as she folded her skirt under her knees as she sat down. The move itself was full of languid grace that it made his head hurt to think about it. She smiled playfully to him as she bumped his shoulder, the space between them less than he had expected. He looked at her and quirked his lips in response. He almost apologised when he remembered her words from the night before. He looked away, not wanting to see the concern in her eyes again.

“Bad day?” She asked, leaning into him. He nodded as he rested his head against the glass pane behind him. “Mine wasn’t great either, to be honest. I’ve had free periods all morning but I’ve been surrounded by a bunch of know-it-all Ravenclaws. All they do is quote facts and figures to each other all day. It was so dull.” She complained with a chuckle. “However, I did hear some interesting things while I was there.” Neville turned rolled his head to look at her. He grimaced as he considered what she was about to tell him.

“Apparently, Mcdougal and Turpin saw one of you boys naked this morning, through the portrait hole.” He felt his face flame red and closed his eyes against the memory. “I couldn’t help but overhear, and I must say what I heard sounds very interesting. Apparently whoever it was has a stomach like a washboard and struggled to cover himself up. If you know what I mean” she elbowed him gently and he groaned at the memory.

“Merlin, please stop!”

“It talks.” She smiled “What else did they say, let me think.” Pansy tapped her finger to her lips as she pretended to think. “That was it, that whoever this mysterious man is, will need to clear his dance card for the Yule ball this year.” Neville groaned again as he looked down at his fingers. “You know, I’d probably try my luck with a guy like that if he weren’t already spoken for.” Neville frowned and turned to look at her. Pansy had looked away at this and Neville thought he could see some colour in her cheeks.

“Spoken for?” Neville asked.

“Apparently, he and Theo had some fun this morning. I tried to press Theo for information, but he has remained annoyingly close-lipped about the whole thing. Which isn’t fair. I always tell him everything.”

“Did Theo say anything?”

“Not really, a bit quiet maybe, but that’s Theo, he never was a talker, I quite like that in a man.” She caught his eyes this time and winked kindly.

“Anything else?” He asked, not really sure whether he wanted to know.

“I think that’s about it for now, but I’ll keep you posted.” She nodded matter-of-factly.

Neville closed his eyes again as he rested his head back against the windowpane.

“Did you want to talk about it? Any of it?”

He took a deep breath and opened his eyes. He was about to shake his head when he turned to her. Her eyes looked so big and concerned.

“Theo didn’t do anything this morning.”

“I know, as I said, we tell each other everything, usually.”

“Usually? Are you and he- you know?”

“Are we courting?” She asked before her face broke out into a grin. She shook her head as she avoided his eyes. She started to laugh as she answered. “No, absolutely not, he’s like a brother to me, and I’m like a sister to him, in-fact our families as so inbred that we’re probably more closely related than siblings,”

“Oh,” he nodded before looking away. He felt a slight sense of relief at the thought that they weren’t together. “So he’s not in trouble with you?”

“No, as I said, he’s not a big talker, he’ll tell me if and when he can. It’s what we do.”

“I think I heard someone say that he’d been seen giving me a – ” he waved his hand over his crotch in embarrassment and grimaced at his own naivety.

“A blowjob?” She asked earnestly.

Neville nodded and frowned. “It’s not true, I hope he’s not angry with me, it was my fault.”

“I highly doubt that.” She said as she rested her head on his shoulder. “And I don’t think he’s that bothered about it. Being linked to such a studmuffin can only be good for his reputation.”

“Studmuffin?” Neville asked with a smirk “Where do you get these words from?” He crossed his arm and flinched as he looked at his palm. He opened it and pulled a face. Over the day, he had clenched his hands so tightly that eight, bright red crescent moons had bloomed in his palms. They weren’t bleeding, but as the skin flexed they stung. He tried to hide them, but Pansy caught his hand and gently prised his fingers open to expose the wounds.

He flinched as he waited for the abuse as he remembered back to Hannahs reaction after a particularly bad panic attack. He grimaced as the silence stretched on. Pansy didn’t say anything but pulled her wand out of her pocket. With a quick flick, the wounds were gone. She held her hand out for the other hand and Neville silently placed it in her hand, revelling in the warm softness of them. Another flick and only old scars remained. She returned her wand and stroked over the scarred skin with her fingers. She turned to look at him as she slowly raised his hands to her lips. She pressed a kiss against his left palm and then his right before lowering them and intertwining her fingers into his.

Neville felt his stomach roll in surprise and pleasure as her warm thumb rubbed against his palm. He watched as her skin caressed his own, and for a moment, a glimmer of hope sparked in his mind. He looked back to her, and she smiled kindly at him.

“I was serious last night, If you need me to just sit and listen, just like a flower, I can. You don’t have to put up with this shit alone.” She squeezed his hand, and he squeezed hers back. “If you need me to curse anyone, just say the word and Stephen will wake up as a Stephanie.” Neville snorted at that as a smile broke through his mood.

“That’s better!” She said as she released his right hand. He watched as she turned back to her bag and pulled out a small package. “This is for you.”

Neville frowned as he took the package. Pansy reluctantly let go of his hand as he went to open the parcel. He shook his head as his stomach growled angrily.

“What-?” He started

“You missed breakfast because you were flashing the student body, and you missed lunch so I thought I’d grab you some food.” Neville looked and saw sandwiches and fruit and quiche and some other things yet to be discovered. He felt a pang in his chest. It was probably one of the most beautiful things anyone had ever done for him.

“How did you know I missed breakfast?” He asked as he looked up.

“Just assume I know everything, it’ll save time.” She smiled as she leant against his arm again. She patted his arm gently as she linked her arm through his.

They sat in companionable silence for a while as they shared the sandwiches.

“Neville?” Pansy asked after a while.

“Hmm?” he murmured as he rested his head on hers.

“There is something I don’t know, and it’s paining me not to.”

“What’s that?” He asked as he breathed her in.

“What happened to your clothes?”  

~~~

Chapter 12 – Honesty Between Friends

“Well, I am heartbroken!” A voice cut through the air before Neville could answer. They both looked around, and Neville felt both relieved and sick as the black-haired man arrived.

“Heartbroken?” Pansy asked with a smirk and a raised eyebrow.

“My best friend and my lover, who’d have thought it. Absolutely scandalous!” Theo smirked as he hitched his own bag up further onto his shoulder.

Neville looked up speechless before climbing to his feet, He offered Pansy his hand and helped her up, again enjoying the feeling of her hand in his. He didn’t try to let go and waited for her to remove her hand. He felt his heart flutter slightly when she didn’t.

“Theo, I’m so sorry about everything.”

“Don’t worry about it. Apparently, you are the perfect person to be associated with,” He replied with a smirk. “You would not believe how many people I’ve spoken to today because of you.”

Neville felt his cheeks glow. Pansy squeezed his hand, drawing his eye. She winked and smiled, and he felt slightly better.

“I’m afraid you couldn’t turn him, Theo.”

Theo shrugged dramatically and sighed. “I tried.”

They both laughed as Neville watched, feeling like he was missing something.

Theo looked at him and smiled. “I’m gay, Longbottom.” He explained.

“Oh,” Neville nodded and then smiled. “Sorry” He shrugged.

“Don’t worry.” He rolled his eyes in good humour before looking at him thoughtfully. “How are you feeling now?” His eyes darted to Pansy before back to him. Neville copied as Pansy glanced between them both.

“Better. Thank you,”

“This is rather unfair! Honesty between friends remember!” She protested as she squeezed his knuckles. He looked down at his hand before looking back up to her face. She grinned smugly, as though daring him to ask about their hands. Maybe she was right, perhaps he should just assume that she knew everything because he sure as hell didn’t. She released his hand slowly and held her arm out to Theo, who linked it in with his own. “Now, tell me all about his washboard abs and any other detail that you believe to be noteworthy,” She purred. Her beautiful eyes glancing back to him, slyly as she waited for Theo to continue.

“Merlin, not this again!” Neville laughed. Theo coughed as he gave Pansy a meaningful glance. He opened his mouth to speak when someone else interrupted.

“So this is where you all got to.” Neville turned to the voice and smiled.

“Hi,” He said as Luna stepped up next to them, Her dreamy gaze falling across them all.

“Theo, Anthony Goldstein asked me to return your book. He said you dropped it.”

Neville looked at Pansy as she grinned and pushed Theo playfully. Theo blushed and smiled as he took the book. “Between you and me, I think he likes you.” Luna smiled as she leant in to whisper the information.

Neville smiled, and it felt like one of his most genuine of the day.

“Looks like I should thank you, Longbottom,” Theo said as he pushed the book into his bag before looking back to Neville. “If you hadn’t let me help you this morning, Goldstein wouldn’t be so jealous.”

“You’re welcome?” He asked, not knowing quite how to respond. Pansy peeled away from Theo and linked arms with Neville as she whispered. He revelled in the scent of cherries as her hair brushed his face.

“He’s been trying to catch Goldstein’s eye all term. Whatever you did this morning seems to have worked.” Neville raised his eyes brows as he pushed his fingers through his hair.

“Well done, Neville,” Luna added with a smile. “I see Pansy was able to soothe your thoughts. However, you both seem to be surrounded by wrackspurts,” Neville smiled and nodded.

“Thanks, Luna, yeah she has.” He smiled at Pansy as he caught her eye. She smiled back, smugly.

Voices coming from the other side of the greenhouses caught their attention as they realised that the seventh years had finally joined them. Neville picked up his robes and bag as the rest started to join the younger students by the door of the greenhouse. Pansy waited as she frowned.

“What’s wrong?” He asked nervously as he looked about himself for faults.

“It’s really hurting me, Neville. Please, what did you do to your clothes? And would you let me try and fix it?” Neville felt shame wash over him as the smile fell from his face.

“It’s nothing.” He murmured as he dried his robes with his wand.

“Sorry, can I fix them?” She asked gently, placing her hand on his arm.  He looked up at her and nodded. She smiled and pulled her wand out “Turn around.” She commanded as he slipped the now dry robes over his head.

He felt a breeze surround his back, but then nothing else happened. He felt Pansy step closer as she inspected her work.

“Is it ok?” He asked nervously. He felt her pull at the material and turned.

“It’ll do, you’ll need replacements though, any more magic and it’ll start to shred again, I can see the marks.”

“Thank you.” He said as his anxiety twinged.

“No problem,”

They all filed into the greenhouse as Professor Sprout opened the doors. Out of all the greenhouses, greenhouse seven was by far the most dangerous place in the grounds, with perhaps the exception of the Forbidden Forest and the Potions store cupboard. Poisonous, venomous and strange plants grew there, and only the most experienced and conscientious students were permitted entry, which was probably why they were in greenhouse six. 

Neville hung back as the seventh years flowed into the class and then to let Luna and Pansy through. Pansy glanced back and smiled over her shoulder as he followed her in. As they entered the air was hot and close, immediately bringing sweat to Neville’s face. The seventh years were equally warm in their colourful robes as they lined up either side their flowerbeds. Neville, Pansy and Theo, being the only eighth years, had a bench to themselves along with Luna. Pansy motioned for him to join her on her side of the table, Theo filed in beside Luna, not giving Neville the chance to change his mind.

Luna smiled at him knowingly as Pansy nudged against him affectionately. Neville felt the smile creep onto his face as he tried to ignore them both. He tried to listen as Sprout spoke, her brisque, no-nonsense tone breaking the silence. His eyes kept drifting back to Pansy as his mind wandered. He smiled when she glanced back at him and smiled again before returning her gaze to the front. He wasn’t used to someone being so affectionate towards him. Even Hannah had been sparing with her praise. He wondered whether this was what it was like to be friends with Pansy. His eyes followed the sweet curve of the side of her cheek and down her neck. He wondered whether she would ever consider being more than friends. He didn’t know whether he would ever be brave enough to ask her.

His mind flashed back to Hannah when he had asked her to join him on a visit to Dogweed and Deathcap in Hogsmeade. It was the closest thing to a date he had ever asked anyone. Ginny and the Yule Ball in fourth year didn’t count as she practically asked him. Hannah had laughed at him and announced that to be the worst idea of a date that she could think of. The laughter had been contagious, and the other Hufflepuff girls had fallen in.

He wondered whether Pansy would laugh at him in front of everyone too? Before this year started, it wouldn’t have been a question in his mind. If he had ever thought about asking her out, he would have been confident that she would have laughed him out of the great hall. Now though, he wasn’t so sure. He looked down at what had been the frayed edge of his robes and realised that they looked almost as good a new where Pansy had repaired some of the damage.

He was brought back to himself when a plant appeared in front of them. Pansy looked at it and then back to Neville with a raised eyebrow. Neville shrugged, It was one of the plants from greenhouse seven that he hadn’t been shown yet.

The plant before them was mostly a bush of green leaves; however, what made this plant notable was the shoot of strange white berries that shot out of the top. Each white berry had a black dot in the centre and was held onto the stem with a thick, bulbous red stem. He thought that they looked strangely like eyes as the plant stared unseeing at him.

“Please, do not touch.” Professor Sprout announced as one of the seventh year boys fainted.

“Mr Mensah? Please could you levitate Mr Laker to the infirmary? No dilly-dallying.” A black Hufflepuff boy nodded towards the front before levitating a blond boy and floating him out of the front door. “Now let that be a lesson to you, no one is to touch this plant without using your gloves.”

She moved her plump body into the middle of the greenhouse so that everyone could see her before speaking again. She did a double-take of their table as if trying to understand something before turning away again. Neville suspected that she was trying to understand why a Gryffindor and a Ravenclaw was willingly sitting with a couple of Slytherins.

“Now, Is there anyone here who knows what plant this is?” Curious gazes darted across them all as the room remained silent. “No? Not surprising really as very few of you would have had the misfortune of coming into contact with this nasty little beastie.” She said brusquely. “This plant is sometimes known as ‘Doll’s eyes’ or by its Latin name of ‘Actaea Pachypoda,’ We shall refer to it by its common name of White baneberry. Muggles are aware of the toxicity of this plant, so much of its information can be cited from muggle literature. However, very little is known as to its magical properties.”

She wandered around slowly as she looked at each student over the rim of her small glasses. “Your task today is to run some diagnostics to see what information you can derive from your sample. Please do wear gloves, and do not under any circumstance, let your skin come into contact with the plant. Further reading can be found in your textbooks on page two hundred and seventy-one.”

She turned her back and returned to the front of the greenhouse, where she started to prune some of the venomous tentacular.

“My Dad said that little sap sprites can live amongst the branches and have a tendency to bite,” Luna said earnestly as she pulled her dragonhide gloves on.

“I’ve heard that too, I didn’t know it was the case with baneberries though,” Pansy replied as she too pulled her gloves on and tucked her robe sleeves into the edges.

Neville looked between Pansy and Luna as they discussed some of the properties in the book. He kept waiting for Pansy to say something rude and condescending or Luna to say something strangely inciteful but inappropriate, but neither happened. He tried to imagine how the conversation would have gone if he’d heard it between Hannah and Luna instead. He cringed at how wrong and hostile it would go.

He smiled as he opened his book, cursing that he hadn’t done it before he’d put his gloves on. If he had been asked for three randoms names of people, he didn’t think that his imagination would have come up with theirs together for friends, but here they were. Even Sprout had been surprised to see them all stood together.

Theo pulled his gloves on before they all started to read.

“Did you read that?” Theo asked, looking at them all in turn “It states that by touching the leaves, toxins can enter the bloodstream causing the muscles around the heart to relax.” He looked at the book for a moment, a thoughtful look on his face. “That could potentially have something to do with the magical core. What if it’s less to do with the toxins and something that either stuns or absorbs a wizard’s magical essence?”

Neville raised his eyebrows in surprise. It was a grand theory, and he certainly didn’t have any better. He nodded in appreciation as he read further into the entry. His eyes skimmed the information about location and preferred soil type as he tried to find any other clues.

“It says here that the poison can leave little welts on the victim’s skin. That would be in keeping with Luna’s thoughts about sap Sprites. There may not be anything to this plant itself.” Pansy offered as she pulled out her wand. Neville watched as she waved it over the red stems. As he watched some tiny white flecks appeared as they steadily grew in size. Slowly small mites became visible, looking like a cross between a crocodile and a woodlouse.

“We may need a container for it,” Theo commented as they all looked at the creature in awe. Neville nodded as he turned to leave. He headed towards the cupboard at the end where containers, pot and other tools were kept. He straightened and turned to go.

“Neville Longbottom?” He stopped as he almost walked into someone. He looked down and frowned as a girl stood blocking his way. He smiled and tried to step to the side to step around her, but she moved to block him again. She was pretty in a cute kind of way as she pushed her blond hair out of her face, her dragonhide gloves missing most of it. He could tell she was nervous as she kept looking at his chest. She shifted her weight onto her back foot as she bit her lip.

“Yeah, are you alright?” he asked after a moment.

“Hi, I’m Daisy, Daisy Chadwick.”

“Hi, Daisy,” He replied with a smile. “Can I help with something?” He asked as he looked back over to his table. He caught Pansy’s eye before looking back to the Hufflepuff before him.

“Erm, I was wondering something. I heard that you and Hannah broke up.” He frowned more and nodded.

“That’s true,” He waited as she tried to say what it was that she wanted to say.

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. However, I was hoping that now you’re single, whether you would like to go out to Hogsmeade or maybe the Yule ball- with me?” She looked down as she tied her fingers into knots. He stood dumbfounded as the question bounced around his head.

He stammered as he tried to formulate a response. He had never been asked out by a girl before, and again Ginny didn’t count, she was more like a sister.

His eyes travelled up to Pansy again. She was the only person he could ever see himself wanting to go to the Yule ball with. He felt a surge of relief as he noticed that she was walking over.

~~~

Chapter 13 – Take A Hike

He glanced back at the girl in front of him and suddenly wondered what was about to happen. Was Pansy just coming to get the container? Was she annoyed that he was talking to another girl? Was she going to be mean? A flash of fear and apprehension clouded his smile as he wondered whether she would react like Hannah would have. He cringed as she approached.

“You alright, Honey?” Pansy asked as she bumped playfully into his side, taking the container with one hand then taking his hand in the other. “Are you coming? Things were just getting interesting,”

He nodded, speechless again as he watched. Honey? A thrill tingled up his spine at the nickname. Pansy turned her eyes to the Hufflepuff as if only just noticing her. 

“Oh, hi. I’m Pansy, Pansy Parkinson, and you are?” She asked politely if cooly. The blond looked between them and then down to their joined hands as her shoulders drooped. 

“Erm, yes, I’m Daisy” She replied glumly.

“Can we help you with anything?” Pansy asked, her tone still polite and almost friendly.

“No, I was just getting- um a- new pot from the cupboard,” The girl stammered.

“Oh, alright then. Off you pop, and we’ll be out of your way. Lovely talking to you, Daisy. Come on, Sweetheart.” Pansy said before pulling Neville away. Neville smiled apologetically before following Pansy back to their seat.

Once out of earshot, Pansy turned to him. He held his breath as he waited for her reaction. He wasn’t sure why he was expecting a reaction, they were only friends. He wondered whether he secretly hoped for a response to give him some indication that he was special to her. Why had she called him sweetheart? Was he special to her?

“Are you alright?” Pansy asked, her eyes full of concern.

“Yeah, thanks for the rescue.” He sighed as relief flooded him.

“What did she want?” She asked innocently. Neville snorted as he glanced back to the table where Daisy was muttering with her friends, her face looking decidedly sullen and crestfallen. She glanced over at them but rushed to look away before Pansy could catch her. He turned back to Pansy, who still looked concerned.

“She was asking me out.” Pansy blinked at him. He thought he saw her face pale before she looked away. Neville felt another tingle of excitement as he watched her face for a reaction.

“Oh, I thought maybe she was giving you a hard time, I thought she may have been ones of Hannah’s friends.” There was an awkward pause before she spoke again. “When are you going to see her? Are you going somewhere nice?”

“What? No. I’m not going out with her. I mean I didn’t say no, but I didn’t say yes either, you sort of interrupted.” He chuckled slightly as he pushed his hair out of his face.

“Were you going to say yes? I can go and speak to her if you’d like me to?” She asked as she concentrated on opening the container. She seemed determined not to look at him.

“No, I was going to say no, it just caught me off guard. Girls don’t usually ask me out,” he replied warily and felt the relief flood him as she smiled. She looked up to him finally and passed him the container.

“Can you open this please?” He opened it with ease before he passed it back, their fingers touching as she took the jar. Pansy smiled again as she held it open for Theo, who lowered the suspended sprites into the jar.

“Everything alright, you two?” Theo asked with a smirk as his eyes darted between the two of them and the jar.

“It is now,” Pansy replied as she glanced at him before peering in at the strange critter.

~

The rest of the lesson continued with Professor Sprout gawping at the small critters which they had nicknamed Slytherclaws in honour of Luna, Theo’s and Pansy’s contribution. Apparently, no one in the Herbology field had ever considered there to be a magical creature behind the strange plant’s toxicity.

Pansy and Theo had continued to share loaded looks as they left the greenhouse. They paused and hugged before splitting off.

“See you later, I’ve got to head to Advanced Arithmancy.” He said as he hugged Pansy and walked off. Luna smiled at Neville and followed. He already knew that she was heading to art class. She always returned back to the common room on a Thursday night covered in paint.

Pansy stood for a moment holding her bag and looked at him, she looked lost and slightly insecure. It was a look he wasn’t used to seeing on her face, but he thought it made him fall further for her. “Do you have anywhere you need to be now? I’ve got a free double period.” Neville smiled and shook his head.

“I’m free too. I was thinking about trying to get those plants that I tried to get on Saturday. I’m not in a rush to head back to the dorms just yet.” He felt the nerves churning as he considered asking her to join him.

“Would you mind if I came too? If I head back now, I’ll only be surrounded by dull people, I’ll be bored out of my brain.”

“Sure,” He agreed quickly and was rewarded with a smile. “But it might be quite a walk, and I’m not sure how long we’ll be…” He trailed off and swallowed. He didn’t want it turning out like it had with Hannah.

Pansy winked and pulled out her wand. She pointed it at her shoes, and he watched as they went from stylish black heels to black flats, ideal for walking. “I’m sure I’ll be able to keep up.” She said with a dare in her eyes. He smiled in reply as he pulled his robes off and put them in his bag.

~

The weather couldn’t have been any different from his last excursion. Where the rain had come down in fat, soaking droplets, now the autumn air rushed past their clothes as the clouds drifted lazily past the sun. Neville stood on a small rise and took in the scenery before turning to offer Pansy a hand. She smiled and took it as she tried to climb up over an unusually large rock.

She straightened, bringing her body close against him. Looking down into those deep, grey eyes, who needed nature and the great outdoors when he could stare into galaxies here in her eyes. They panted together, and Neville felt his cheeks redden at the idea of doing things that made them gasp in unison. He tried to push those thoughts from his mind as he wrenched his eyes from her.

He felt an answering twinge in his boxers as he tried to concentrate on where they were going.

“So, what are these plants we’re looking for again?” she asked as she looked around.

“Bulgerwort and Pipeweed.” He replied.

“Are they difficult to find?” She asked, sounding genuinely curious. He turned to look at her. He had been waiting for her to start complaining about how long they’d been out for, just as Hannah had but so far she had been excellent company.

“I’m hoping to find some just beyond that ridge there, according to the maps, there’s a small waterfall where they could grow. The conditions should be perfect for them.” He leant into her as he pointed to a small rise. She leant into him as her gaze followed his arm, pressing her chilled cheek to his. He waited a second before pulling away, the scent of violets clinging to him.

“How come there?” She asked as she tightened her robes around her.

“They both like moist, rocky areas, so we’ll have to stay close to the stream or venture closer to the lake itself.” He explained as he started to walk again.

There was silence for a few moments before she spoke again.

“What do you see yourself doing when you finish school?” She was next to him now, keeping pace as they slowly climbed up the hill. He considered the question for a moment before answering. He shortened his pace to make walking easier for her.

“Harry and Ron said there might be a space in the Aurors for me, but I’m not sure that’s what I’ll want to do forever. I think I’d enjoy a research placement somewhere. What about you?” He asked as he turned to her, she smiled in reply as she bit her lip. Watching her teeth press into that soft, plump flesh made him groan silently.

“I don’t know. I’ve not really been encouraged to have a career. Being the sole heir means I’m expected to get married and pop out heirs until I’m too old to be much good for anything.” There was a sadness to her response and Neville frowned.

“But you’re so clever, you could do anything.” He shook his head before liking at her again. “If you could do absolutely anything, what would you like to do?” She thought about it for a while as the wind whipped her hair around her face.

“I always thought that Spagyric was exciting, and my classes support that.”

“Oh, Plant Alchemy.” He nodded as he mulled it over. “That’s a challenging field. Very competitive. You’d be a shoo-in, that little discovery from earlier wouldn’t hurt your case either.”

“You’re being too kind!” She laughed, and the sound made him smile. “Could you imagine it thought? I could be the one to find a cure for Dragon pox.”

“That would be amazing. I wouldn’t be surprised either.” She beamed at him as they carried on walking.

“I reckon you’d look pretty good in those Auror robes.” She smirked as she raised her eyebrow teasingly. “The dark grey straps and all those buttons.” She shivered and sighed “I do love a man in uniform.”

“Hopefully the uniform would hold up better than these things.” He said sardonically as he pulled at his jumper. They laughed as they carried on walking,

They talked about fun things they’d done in their childhoods, to laughing about the apparent attraction between their mutual friends, Harry and Draco.

“Oh, Draco was intolerable!” she claimed dramatically “He seemed to know absolutely everything about him and about where he would be. If they don’t get it together soon, I may have to intervene!” She chuckled.

“I know what you mean, Harry would come back to the dorms and would swear that he was up to something almost every single day.” Neville laughed too.

“It’s like they were made for each other. If only they could see themselves.” Pansy smiled as she glanced at him and away again. Neville swallowed and nodded.

They were finally at the edge of the rise and Neville had to hold his breath. The view was breathtaking. He held his breath as Pansy stopped next to him.

“Oh, Neville.” She exclaimed breathily. “It’s beautiful!” He nodded as he turned to look at her. Her cheeks had reddened in the cold air, and the sun had brought out her freckles. He had to nod. She was exquisite.

She glanced at him and noticed him staring at her. Her cheeks reddened further as the blush spread down her neck. She smiled coyly as she pushed her hair out of her face. Neville shook himself. He looked back at the waterfall before clearing his throat.

“I think the easiest way down might be this way.” He muttered as he tried to hide his embarrassment. Pansy nodded as she followed him down.

A fine mist floated around them as they descended towards the plunge pool, leaving the path slippery. He heard a yelp from behind him as Pansy skidded down. He managed to grab her as she slipped closer to the ledge. His heart was in his throat as Pansy panted in fear. She held her chest for a moment, eyes closed as she gathered herself.

“You alright?” He asked as he too took a deep breath. She nodded as she tried to stand again. Neville held her hand as she got to her feet. “We’re almost down,” He said as he released her hand. He looked into her face again, to check she was alright. She nodded back in confirmation as they started moving down.

Once at the bottom, they stood for a moment, breathing heavily. Pansy sat on one of the large rocks that separated the plunge pool from the stream leading to the lake. Neville dropped his bag to the side as he ventured closer to the water’s edge. Surely he would be able to find the plants here.

He felt the sun pound onto his back, the heat absorbed by his dark uniform. He wiped the sweat from his face before he pulled his jumper over his head. He turned to throw his jumper back over to his bag when Pansy caught his eye. 

“Stripping off? Oh, that’s a great idea!” He watched as she started to pop the buttons from her shirt. He watched mesmerized as he felt his dreams coming true.  

~~~

Chapter 14 – It’s All For You.

He swallowed as he stood rooted to the spot. His eyes locked on her. She untucked her shirt from her skirt and then undid the buttons, giving him a flash of bra before tying the ends together over her stomach. The resulting flash of flesh made his mind freeze and his blood go south. His mouth had gone dry as he looked away.

“Are you alright?” She asked. He glanced back and nodded as he tried to divert his mind. He tried to appreciate just how beautiful it was here, and how warm the sun was and how clear the water was as he stood gazing into the shimmering pool. He felt the stone wobble slightly as she stepped closer to him. “Do I make you uncomfortable?” He looked down at her and felt trapped in those bright eyes.

“Not exactly.” He murmured “I’m just trying to be polite,”

“Polite? How come?”

“I caught sight of your-” he waved his hand in the general direction of her chest. “You’re very pretty, and I don’t want you to think that I’m ogling you.” He said as the blush burned hotter than the sun behind his skin.

“You think I’m pretty?” she asked coyly as her face took on the vulnerable look he’d seen earlier.

“I think you’re beautiful. But I respect-“ He swallowed and closed his eyes for a moment before continuing “you don’t gawk at friends. Not in that way.”

“In what way?” she asked innocently. He was sure that he was burning from the inside out with the intensity of his blush.

“I don’t want to ruin our friendship, you’ve come to mean a great deal to me.” He answered, hoping that she would drop it. She paused and looked at him before stepping closer. The shift in weight was too much as the boulder tilted.

The shock of icy cold water hit him and froze every thought solid as every inch of his sang out in panic. It took him a minute to realise that Pansy was also in the water. She bobbed mouth open in a silent scream as she slowly trod water. He started to move forward towards the large boulder on the shore. He grabbed her arm and pulled her with him. Pushing her out first, he hauled himself from the pool and relished the heat of the sun on his skin as he slowly peeled out of his shirt.

He felt his stomach muscles tensing as every cell in his body cramped up in a bid to conserve heat.

“Fuck!” Pansy muttered as she shifted next to him, rubbing herself to warm up.

He nodded in wholehearted agreement as he shivered.

“Was this your plan to see my washboard abs?” he asked as he started to laugh. “You could have just asked,” He heard her start to giggle too until neither of them could breathe. He lay back and stared up at the sky as he tried to unclench his muscles. He caught movement from the corner of his eye and rolled his head.

With shaking fingers, Pansy had finished undoing the knot in her shirt. She slid the soaked material from her shoulders until the shirt was gone exposing the side of her lacy bra. The soft curve of her breast pressing against the sodden material made him ache. Neville closed his eyes, knowing that he had already seen too much; the sight travelled straight to his cock as he lay waiting for the temptation to pass.   

He heard movement from right next to his head. He opened his eyes and blinked when he saw Pansy’s face gazing down at him. A playful smile played on her lips as her hair clung to her head. From this distance, he could count the freckles across her cheeks and the flecks of silver in her grey eyes.

“Where were we?” She asked quietly. “Oh yes, gawking,” She tilted her head and looked down at him. Neville blinked, as he tried to keep his eyes on her face. Glimpses of black lace visible from out of the corner of his eye. “in what way do you try not to gawk at me?” she purred, as her daintily painted nails, pressed against her cheek.

“I don’t want to take advantage of seeing you in your underthings, but you make it so difficult.” He said with a grimace.

She smiled at him as she leant forward. Her lips almost kissed the lobe of his ear as she whispered into it.

“Did it ever occur to you that I might want you to take advantage?” He felt his heart given an almighty thud as he pulled back from her to look her in the face. He cleared his throat with a jump.

“Sorry?” He asked. He must have misheard.

“Did it ever occur to you that I only do those things because I want you to watch me?”

Oh, dear Merlin, Salazar, Godric and Helga! His cock twitched again as he thought back to all the times she had bent over the table to look at something or had leant in a particular way letting her blouse gape. It had all been intentional and intended for him.

“Do you?” Neville asked in a whisper. To speak louder would wake him from the dream, he was sure of it.

She nodded as her eyes glanced down at his lips, He let out a breath and blinked for a long moment before looking back up into her face. He did something he had wanted to do since the first week of term. He reached out and held her face in his hand, stroking his thumb against her lips. Feeling how soft they were seemed to awaken an uncontrollable urge within him as he gently pulled her face to his.

“Please,” she begged and with that one word, any control he had, dissolved as he pulled her to him. Their lips touched, and it was as heavenly as he had expected. It felt like his body had exploded back into stardust, each and every atom blowing up simultaneously, blowing his mind wide open. Her lips sent tingles to every nerve and as they parted her tongue gently slid against his lips. He felt like he was dying as his heart thudded like a hammer against his ribs.

He pushed his fingers into her hair, holding her tight and close. She moaned into his mouth, and it awoke a hunger within him. He wanted to devour every noise that came out of that sinful mouth.

When their tongues touched, he couldn’t hold back the groan of his own. He pushed himself up without breaking their connection lying her back, her head cradled in the crook of his elbow.

He placed his other hand on her cheek as he gently claimed her with his lips. Her hand caressed his waist, perilously close to the growing bulge in his trousers. That thought made him pause and pull back as he tried to gain some clarity.

“Is this ok?” He asked as he searched her face looking for any sign of discomfort.

“Oh Neville, just shut up and kiss me,” she smirked as she pulled him back in crushing their lips together as their tongues stroked and teased each other. Her hand grabbed his and began to guide it downwards. He pulled away to watch, his eyes hungry for the sight of her.

Her hand pushed his down her neck and carried on going until his fingertips touched the edge of her lace bralette. She slowly placed his hand on her breast. He shuddered as he squeezed the soft mound gently, massaging the area with his palm. She sighed and closed her eyes as he watched. It was like all of his dreams rolled into one as he watched the lace tug at her hard nipple. He bent his head down to kiss her again. Pulling her bottom lip into his mouth and groaning when he heard her sigh into his mouth.

He continued to massage her breast before doing something he had wanted to do for weeks. He moved his hand down and gently rubbed his fingers around the taut nub beneath the lace. He listened to her as he breath hitched. Her back arching with every stroke. He wondered whether her noises would change if he tried gently pinching.

He took her nipple between his finger and thumb and pressed gently eliciting a breathy groan. He did it again but this time tried twisting slightly just enough to move the skin.

Her body jumped as though she has been struck by lightning. She groaned scandalously into his mouth. Merlin! How he loved that he could make her moan like this. He pulled away slightly before trailing kisses down her neck. Her breath caught, and goosebumps erupted across her skin. He turned to watch as the material twisted with the touch of his fingers. He moved his thumb away and hooked it beneath the lace. He had spent so long imagining it that he needed to see them. He slowly pulled the lace free to expose the goosebumped skin, drawing the material against the pert nipple, before letting it flick against it as the puckered flesh escaped.

It was gorgeous and everything he had imagined. He couldn’t wait any longer as he lowered his face and took it in his mouth. Pansy’s body jerked as she moaned, her hands tangling in his wet hair. Every thought and feeling he’d had returned, fueling him on as his cock strained for release. He wished that she would touch him but wanted to concentrate on her.

As it reading his mind, her fingers stretched and brushed against his trousers and the delicate skin beneath. He sighed as he licked the flat of his tongue against her nipple. Her breath caught as she tugged on his hair.

“They’re so sensitive, Neville.” She whispered in warning. He flicked his tongue against it swirling it around in his mouth. The smell of cherries and violets filling his nostrils. He wanted to break her, to ruin her against the stone beneath them and witness her undoing. He wanted to watch, knowing that he had been the cause. He moved his hand lower as his eyes met hers, He waited for her to stop him as his fingers followed the contour on her body, revelling in how soft her skin was. Her pupils were blown with lust as a pink blush dusted her cheeks. She smiled and nodded before bucking again at another flick of his tongue.

“Salazar!” she breathed into the sky before reaching down to take him into her hand. Still confined to his trousers, the touch teased cruelly. “Take those off.” She commanded, he smirked and swirled his tongue against the soft flesh making her eyes close and her mouth open. “Not fair!” she panted

He released her abused nipple and blew against it, causing the skin to tighten.

“And teasing me for weeks has been? I’m just getting my own back.”

He found the hem of her skirt and pushed his hand beneath it as he slid his fingers up. He groaned as he felt the rough lace of her stockings.

“Your stockings are positively criminal, how have none of the teachers given you detention yet?”

Pansy laughed nervously as he stroked the skin between her groin and the stockings. She tried to wriggle away, but he held her firm.

“I’m so ticklish, stop.” She gasped, and he stopped. He smirked as he pressed his fingers against his prize. Pansy froze immediately, her complaint lost to the wind as the air left her lungs. He stroked his thumb against the lace of her panties, smirking as she tried to push against him. He kept the touches feather-light so that she couldn’t gain the friction she obviously desired.

He watched her face as her eyes closed and twitched as he teased her with his sure but gentle caresses. He closed his own eyes as he listened as her breath started to quicken. He stopped and waited for her eyes to look at him. Her eyes were like drowning pools as he gazed down. He claimed her lips as his fingers plunged into the downy hair beneath the lace. He felt the hot, damp line and stroked gently as she cried out.

He kissed her deeply, stroking her with his tongue as he pushed his fingers into the folds of her flesh. Indulgent heat enveloped his fingers as the slippery flesh below yielded to his touch. He gently began his stroking rhythm again as he felt her body respond.

Distracted by the sensations, her mouth opened in a silent cry as he alternated between stroking and tapping.

She mewled and cried in his arms as he worked faster. A sheen of sweat glinted on her pale skin as the sun glittered through the trees. He knew that this moment would be etched onto his eyelids and into his memories forever as he slowly brought Pansy to tears. He felt her folds tighten and twitch around him as his name fell from her lips like a prayer.

“Neville, I’m so close, please.” she keened as he worked faster. He swallowed in anticipation as he stared, enchanted, as her body began to shake and tremble. He took her nipple into his mouth again, and with a single swirl of his tongue, she came. Her flesh greedily clutched and pulled against him as he continued to move his fingers, determined to make her pleasure last as long as he could.

Her cries and gasps into the wilderness made him throb with need as she fell apart in his arms. He waited for the dream to end with him alone in his bed, but the world around him stayed focused. Real. Beautiful.

As Pansy’s cries calmed, he removed his fingers and redressed her before pulling her to him and pressing his lips to hers.

“Best. Hike. Ever.” She muttered weakly as she kissed him back languidly.         

~~~

Chapter 15 – Cherries and Ecstasy.

The world melted away as he felt her lips against his; the scent of cherries mingled with her ecstasy as he held her close. She pulled away slowly as she held his face in her hands.

“That was amazing, Neville. How are you still single?” He blushed and grinned.

“I don’t know, did you still want to set me up with that Hufflepuff?” She glared and smacked his arm gently before smiling.

“Don’t even mention her!” She pouted.

“Ok,” He smiled as he pushed some hair out of her face. She looked down at her fingers, and her face grew serious. “Are you alright?”

She looked up at him, and some of the cloud lifted. She nodded and smiled, but the smile didn’t show in her eyes.

“I’m fine; however, you might want to look for those plants, it’ll be dark soon.” Pansy sat up

Neville frowned as he stared at her back. “The plants can wait, did I do something wrong?”

He watched as she turned around a look of surprise on her face.

“No, absolutely not! I loved every second.” She turned to look him in the eyes before cupping his face in her hands to kiss him.

“Then what’s wrong?” he asked, grabbing her hand as she went to turn away. Pansy went to open her mouth, but he interrupted. “Honesty amongst friends remember.” He warned as he stroked her hand, rubbing circles into her palm.

He felt sick with nerves. He didn’t want to lose this; he didn’t want to let her go. The last few hours had been the best he’d had in forever. They didn’t quite finish each other’s sentences, her unpredictability was one of the things he loved about her. Her spontaneity was so refreshing.

She looked down at their hands and sighed before looking back up at him.

“Just some bad memories of a previous relationship.” She snorted derisively as she turned away from him. “I’m sure I’m doing a great job of ruining this date.”

Neville swallowed as his head did a small somersault.

“Date?” He questioned unable to keep the smile from forming on his face. She covered her face in her hand as she avoided looking at him. He laughed as he pulled her in for a hug, loving the feeling of her naked skin against his. “Hey, don’t be embarrassed, it can be a date.”

“Neville, please. Just stop.” She laughed as she looked up at him, her blush back in her cheeks.

“I would love it to be a date, it’s just, aren’t there usually flowers involved? A gift or something?” He smirked as he kissed her forehead.   

Pansy laughed and shook her head against his shoulder.

“I’ll let it slide just this once, but don’t let it happen again.” She looked up at him and pulled his head down to meet hers.

“You mean there are going to be more dates?” Neville asked, bearly lifting his lips from hers as she tugged at his hair.

“Do you not want to?” She asked, pulling away to look into his eyes, one of her neat eyebrows arching in disbelief. Neville chuckled.

“Where would milady like to go?” He asked before claiming her lips again. He stroked her neck, making her shiver and moan. He grinned smugly as she pulled away.

“How about we do something more traditional?” She asked, “How about we go to Hogsmeade this weekend?”

“Sounds great.” He admitted as he smiled.

“Now come on, get looking for your plants and I’ll try and get our clothes dry.”

“This is just an excuse to get my trousers isn’t it?” He asked with a chuckle as they both rose up.

“Darling, All I would need to do would be to flick a carefully placed jinx at those, and they would fall to pieces,” She raised her eyebrow again before winking at him. Neville rolled his eyes. “However, I might try it if you’re as sexy underneath.” She looked at his chest, and he blushed. He wasn’t used to women looking at him as she was now. Hungry.

He cleared his throat and turned away as he began looking at the side of the plunge pool. There were telltale signs that the weeds grew there, but he couldn’t see any of the leaves.

He spotted something submerged below the rippling pool. He pointed his wand at it, causing the water to recede enough to expose the plant.

“Got one.” He called as he accio’d a sample pot from his discarded bag.

“Which one?” Pansy asked.

“Pipeweed,” he said as he filled the sample pot with water. He severed the weed and scooped it up before gently pushing it into the container and sealing it.

“Any sign of the other one?” Neville looked around and shook his head.

“I could do with more time. But we had better head back.”

“Any chance you can get it from ‘Dogweed and Deathcap’?” She asked. He thought about it. The herbology shop could sometimes stock unusual things, but he thought it unlikely.

“Probably not, I’ll just have to come out for another hike.” He said as he looked in the jar.

“Would you object if I came too?” She asked slyly as she stepped up to him. He put the jar down and focused on her.

“You mean you didn’t get enough earlier?” He asked with a wink.

“Well, it occurred to me that I haven’t yet returned the favour” He looked down demurely, and Neville noticed that she still hadn’t put her shirt on. Her black bralette hugged her thin frame and showed her chest off to perfection. He smiled down at her as he leant in for a kiss. He had been right. She was the perfect height.

“I hadn’t noticed.” He said with a smirk as she looked down at the growing bulge in his trousers. He blushed in embarrassment as she looked up with a smile.

“We had better get back, but I’ll see what I can do to help you out with that later.”

“Sounds intriguing,” He said as he grabbed his now dry shirt.

“Oh, If Hannah or Stephen do anything else to you or your clothes, I want to know about it!” She huffed sternly. “As your girlfriend, I have a right to know and go bat shit crazy at anyone that messes with me and mine.”

“Girlfriend? Do I get a say in this?” Neville asked smirking again. He found it incredibly endearing at how possessive she was being.

“Of course, but if you say anything other than yes, I will be forced to hex you.” She said with a smile and a shrug.

“I had better ask you out then.” He nodded with mock seriousness.

“You had better.”

“Pansy?”

She smiled up at him and nodded.

“Can you pass me my bag please?” He asked bearly containing his chuckle. Her face fell into a pout before she grabbed his bag. “And would you be my girlfriend?”

“I’ll have to think about it, Longbottom.” She smirked back as she grabbed her shirt and slipped it on.

“I wonder whether Daisy-”

“Of course, Neville. Don’t ruin the moment!” She almost shouted with a chuckle. “I’ll have to remember that you play dirty!” She said as she tied the shirt across her stomach.

“Only with you.” He smiled as he held out his hand. She grinned and took it before they left the waterfall, plant sample in tow.

~

It was dark by the time they arrived at the castle and the glowing lights from the great hall telling them that dinner was being served.

“I’m starving,” Neville said as he rubbed his stomach.

“I am too, but we can’t go in there.” She hissed.

“Why not?” he asked with a frown.

“Look at me, I look like a drowned rat!”

“But a cute rat!”

“Neville!”

“You are the most beautiful as I’ve ever seen you, except for once” He grinned

“Charmer!” She smiled “We still can’t go in there, we both look thoroughly shagged!”

“You think people will notice?” Neville asked innocently. Pansy stared at him with a raised eyebrow in disbelief.

“Are you telling me that if two students walked in together looking like they’d gone swimming in their clothes, that you wouldn’t think they were up to something?”

“Swimming in their clothes, probably.” He shrugged.

“Oh, love, you are precious!”

“Come on then, let’s go and get changed, and we can go and bother the elves in the kitchens.

“Are you asking me on another date?” Pansy asked, pressing her hand to her chest.

“Maybe think of it as an extended first date?”

“Alright,” She nodded as they entered the tower and ascended the stairs.

~~~

Chapter 16 – It Might Wear Off

They managed to creep up to the common room without being seen by anyone. They had to duck behind one of the unicorn statues as a couple of third years walked passed. Neville didn’t think he’d laughed as hard with anyone. They giggled as they ran through the corridors, hand in hand.

Standing that the door leading into the common room, they giggled and breathed heavily as they looked at each other. Neville didn’t think Pansy had ever been more attractive to him. Her hair was all over the place, and her skin was flushed and pink from the afternoon sun. She wore a broad, natural smile and her eyes twinkled as she looked at him from under her thick, dark eyelashes.

He felt his heart thud hard in his chest as he admired her. She smiled even wider before looking away. Her hand squeezing his own affectionately.

“Do you reckon there’s anyone in there? He asked as he pushed the door open slightly. He peered into the room. There wasn’t anyone in the chairs nearest the fire, and it appeared that the study nook was mostly empty. There were too many nooks and corners for people to hide in to be sure.

“Maybe if we go in separately, we’ll draw less attention,” She replied as she too peered through the crack.

He felt a stab of worry at the suggestion and let his hand loosen. He hated himself for feeling so insecure, but the thought that she didn’t want to be seen with him hurt. She glanced up as she felt his hand let go. Her face fell as the realisation hit her. “I didn’t mean that I just- It would be nice if it stayed ‘just us’ for a while before we go public,” She smiled and rolled her eyes as she retook his hand. “Come on.”

He smiled as she pulled him into the warmth of the eighth year space. They both looked around as they walked quickly to the stairs. They could hear a small group talking from one of the corners, so ran the last few steps to the stairs. 

Once up the stairs, they chuckled again, stopping at the portrait hole to the boy’s dorms. Pansy looked around him at the picture of the wizened old man with the kind face and smiled.

“Good evening Sir Patrick.” She greeted. Neville turned and smiled as the painting nodded in greeting.

“Good evening Ms Parkinson,”

“How is the frame rot? Did they repair you?”

“Yes, Thank you for asking. Reframed and rehomed. One now has time to contemplate the larger picture.” He said with a smirk and a wink.

“Sir Patrick the adventurous was once homed in the Slytherin common room, but the lake leaked in, and damaged his frame.”

“Awful tragedy.” The portrait said dolefully. “We lost a few good friends in that incident.” She shook his head. “Mortecina the Merciful and Joseph de Wolesley had been my wall mates for so long.”

“I think I saw Joseph on the second-floor corridor near the dark arts classroom.

“You saw Joseph? Mr?”

“Longbottom, Sir”

“Any relation to Ulfric Longbottom?”

“I believe he is a distant relative. Yes, sir,”

“Neville Longbottom?” Neville nodded. The painting studied him, the large feather from his hat swaying in the artist’s imaginary wind. “As a Slytherin, I shouldn’t condone this however good work with that snake.” He nodded seriously and then smiled, his eyes shrinking to creases in his face.

“Thank you, sir,” Neville said with a blush.

“Now, Ms Parkinson, Mr Neville, Are we up to any fun activities this evening?” Neville felt his blush increase as Pansy smoothly replied.

“We’re just going to get changed and then we are to dine.” She smiled innocently.

“Very well, I will allow you admittance, and then I shall be off to find Joseph. Make it so.” He nodded and then the portrait swung open.

They looked at each other a giggled. “I need to shower, so I’ll probably be half an hour. Is that alright?” Neville asked as he pushed he touched one of the stray strands of Pansy’s unruly hair.

She smiled and raised an eyebrow. “I need to shower too, but I’ll try and be ready. We could just save time and shower together.

He grinned at the idea but shook his head. “I’d get jealous of the guys trying to glimpse under your towel. And I’m not sure I’d feel much safer upstairs.”

She bobbed her head thoughtfully as if trying to think of a counter-argument.

“I guess you’re right. See you in half an hour, here.”

He nodded and blushed when she leant forward and placed a kiss on his cheek. She pulled away and winked before ascending the stairs. She watched him as he watched her. She smirked, and tugged her skirt, flashing the lacy top of her stocking.

He grinned as he admired the view. She quirked an eyebrow before giggling and running out of sight.

Neville felt his heart thud in his chest as he pushed into the boy’s dorms. He was happy to notice that it was mostly deserted, Blaise was in his bed reading and looked up when he stepped in. He nodded cordially before returning his eyes to his book. Neville returned the nod before heading to his bed and closet.

Now that he was away from her, he stood looking at the bed. His new robes had arrived from Madam Malkins along with the other items he’d requested. The memories of that morning returned, and he crashed down onto the edge. With everything that had happened, it felt like months ago. He shook himself as he thought of Pansy.

He smiled as he put away his things and cast a locking charm on his wardrobe and chest. He cast a few other charms, mostly boobie traps to stop any tampering. Once satisfied, he grabbed his towel and left for the bathroom.

~

The water ran down his soapy body as he squeezed his eyes closed. His mouth parted involuntarily as his slick hand slid up and down his cock in expert strokes. He brought him to the edge only to slow down again. He thought of the rise and fall of her chest as she had come for him. He neck and chest blushing as she pulled his hair and reached out blindly to grab something to hold onto as she fell off the edge. His dick twitched when he remembered her, clutching him as she twitched around his fingers.

He started to speed up again as he thought of her nipple under his tongue and the smell of her lust in his nostrils. The image of her bucking against his hand tightened his balls as he fell. He panted heavily as he savoured the feeling of relief as he spilt himself into the running water of the shower.

He cleaned himself down and swilled the shampoo out of his hair before stepping out and reaching for a towel. He wiped his face and then proceeded to dry off all over. He sighed in relief when he felt dry.

He turned to the mirror and grabbed his wand before casting a drying spell at his hair. It was then that he noticed it. He put his wand down and stepped closer to the mirror. He felt surprise and panic as he looked at his hair.

He moved his head as the greens and purples vied for attention as his hair caught the light. This couldn’t be happening. He grabbed his towel and wrapped it around his waist before leaving the bathroom and heading to his bed. He didn’t notice whether Blaise was still there as he kept his gaze down.

He closed his eyes and tried to grab the reigns of his panic. If he got dressed first, he could then think clearly about his hair.

He opened his wardrobe after disarming the doors and pulled out his new clothes. He was dressed in a flash bearly taking notice of how the new trousers and shirt fit. He accioed his shoes and then proceeded to pace.

He caught a glimpse of his hair again in a mirror as he passed.  He stepped closer and tugged at it. What was he going to do? He heard a knock on the door and whirled around. Blaise stood in the doorway as his eyes took in his hair. His face looked horrified as he took in the colours.

“Parkinson is here to see you.”

He swore under his breath and nodded as he turned away. What was he going to do? He didn’t want her to see him like this. He turned to his wardrobe and began to dig, he thought he had a hat somewhere that he might be able to get away with wearing.

His eyes clapped sight on it as he heard footsteps. He grabbed it with a cringe, knowing that Pansy would see through it as soon as she saw it. He pulled it on and turned around as she approached the doorway. A vision of beauty in a shoulderless green jumper and black, corduroy skirt. 

He saw her eyes glance up at the hat before her eyes darted away and to the room.

“So, this is the boy’s dorm.” She said as she walked in and looked around. “It looks just like the girls. Different colours though.” She said as she pulled at the teal coloured curtains around Terry’s bed.

He swallowed nervously as he watched her walk around the room, slowly taking everything in.

She stepped closer to his bed and touched the purple fabric. “Is this your bed?” She asked innocently enough, but the sly glance she shot his way belied her intention. He nodded as she sat down on the edge of the bed.

She bounced on it and looked around before nodding in approval. “It’s nice, feels more comfortable than mine,” She looked at him and patted the bed next to her.  He stood for a moment before rubbing his hands on his new trousers. He swallowed again as he sat down.

Her warm thigh pressed against his own as she took his hand. She held it for a moment before he looked at her.

“I love your shirt, is it new?” He looked down at the plaid as if he’d never seen it before. He nodded.

“Yeah, it was delivered today.” He tried to smile as he felt the sweat bead up on the back of his neck, he reached up to scratch as he avoided her eye.

“I’m going to be brutally honest with you, Neville. I think you should lose the hideous hat.”

He shook his head.

“N-no, I erm, like the hat.” He stuttered.

“Honesty amongst – well, you know.” She smirked. “What’s under the hat that you don’t want me to see?”

He opened his mouth to argue but closed it again. He sighed as he pulled the hat off his green and purple hair.

“Oh, Neville.” She exclaimed as she ran her fingers through it.

“It looks awful, doesn’t it?” He asked nervously. He turned to her with a grimace and waited for her reaction. Slowly she shook her head.

“I love it. Green’s a favourite, obviously! But purple… I adore purple.” She ran her fingers threw it again. “I love it. How did you do it?” She asked.

“I think someone tampered with my shampoo.” He watched as her face went from amazed to annoyed.

“You didn’t do this on purpose?” She asked, her voice sharp.

“N-no.” He replied nervously.

“Who?” She stopped playing with his hair and gripped it gently, making him look her in the face. 

“I don’t know.” He shrugged. “I can guess, but I didn’t see them.”

She was quiet for a moment as she looked away. Neville held his breath as he waited. He always hated it when Hannah went quiet because it usually meant that he was going to get scolded.

Finally, she turned to him, a determined smile on her face.

“I have an idea, but you have to agree.” He nodded as he let out his breath. It occurred to him that he really needed to stop comparing Pansy to Hannah. He obviously didn’t know the first clue about women.

~

“What in Salazar’s name have you done, Pans? Your parents are going to kill you, come Christmas!” Blaise cursed as his eyes fixed on Pansy’s hair.

Neville watched in wonder as Pansy stood topless in a towel as she dried her multicoloured hair.

He watched as the colours folded and glittered between the strands. She threw the towel at Blaise as he stood in the doorway on the boy’s bathroom.

“My parents can fuck off.” She said, “wasn’t my fault that someone tampered with my bottle of shampoo.” She said with a wink. She pointed her wand at her hair and cast a drying charm. Neville couldn’t tear her eyes away from the stunning colours as she pulled his comb through her hair.

“Longbottom, How can you let her do this?” Blaise shook his head again. “Her parents will not approve.”

Neville shook his head in helplessness before speaking.

“There’s still weeks before Christmas, maybe it will fade or wear off?” Blaise didn’t look amused as he leant against the wall.

“Now, If anyone asks, you saw us leave the shower together,” Pansy confirmed as she pointed at the former Slytherin wizard. He rolled his eyes and nodded.

“Which isn’t a lie exactly is it?”

“Feel free to embellish on the details, but the important thing is, we were sickeningly happy and naked.”

“Pansy,” Neville protested.

“Pans, please, you’re like my sister, My younger and more delinquent sister!”

“Make it convincing in any way you can.” She turned to Neville and pointed at him. “We need to start being sneaky ourselves. If you show them that their pranks don’t bother you, they should grow bored.”

“Or escalate.” Blaise chimed in sounding bored.

“Quiet, Blaise! If you’re not going to be helpful, Fuck off.”

“Last time I checked, this was the Men’s bathroom! Fuck off yourself, Pans!”

“Fine! Come on, Neville.”

Neville nodded as he took her offered hand and left Blaise in peace. He watched, captivated as her former black hair now glittered in the candlelight. She looked stunning. Once back at his bed, she turned and looked at him.

“What do you think? This will be a nonverbal announcement that we’ve been together. Are you alright with that?”

Neville looked down at her and pushed his fingers into her ruffled hair. He saw under her smooth and cultured features, her vulnerability peeking through.

“I love it.” He pulled her in for a kiss as they pulled each other in for a kiss, forgetting the world around them momentarily.

~~~

Chapter 17 – Slytherin Cunning

“What on earth?” A voice announced from the doorway. Neville looked up before looking back to Pansy. She smirked as she tried to cover her self more with the towel. He pulled her behind him as he turned back to the door.

“Erm, Hi,” Neville said awkwardly as he smiled at Terry.

“Nev?” Terry questioned as he slowly stepped in, the surprise and confusion screwing up his features. “What’s with- What?” he asked, seemingly unable to get his questions out.

“Someone tampered with my shampoo.” He replied honestly. Pansy had told him not to elaborate on anything else unless he had to. The idea was to start the rumour mill in his favour. 

“Shampoo, then why-?” Terry’s dark eyes widened in understanding as he peered around Neville to look at Pansy.

“Terry, any chance you could give us a minute?” Neville cocked his head to where Pansy hid behind him.

“Oh, OH! Sorry, yeah, of course. Sorry.” He stuttered as he backed out of the room and shut it behind him.

Pansy started to giggle as Neville sighed and turned around to her. Neville found it hard not to grin at her as she stood in her skirt and bralette, biting her lip as she gazed up at him. He groaned as and thanked the gods that he had relieved himself in the shower.

“You might want to get dressed, I’m not sure what will happen if anyone else comes in and sees you like this,”

“Ooh, I think I like this jealous, possessive Neville.” She chuckled as she stood on tiptoe and pressed her lips to his, before turning to grab her jumper from his bed. “Now come on, I’m famished!” She pulled her jumper over her head and straightened her clothes and hair before approaching him again. “Now if they’ve all just come back from dinner we walk through and avoid eye contact, understand? We need to make it look like we’ve been caught red-handed.” Neville nodded and held her hand as she turned the door handle and pulled him out into the next room.

Neville kept his eyes down at knee level as they passed through the dorm. There were a few more guys around now than there had been, Theo was back as had Roger and Wayne he could feel their eyes on them as they left through the portrait hole. Pansy looked at him and smiled tightly, and he replied with an answering smile.

He squeezed her hand affectionately as they began their descent towards the common room. Pansy stopped and grinned.

“You go first, I think Stephen and Hannah are down there, I can hear him laughing. I have another idea.”

Neville frowned, but she squeezed his hand before letting him go. “Trust me,”

He nodded as he slowly descended. Now that she mentioned it, he could hear Stephen Cornfoots laugh too. 

He stepped off the bottom step and waited for Pansy to follow, his eyes looking away from where Stephen’s voice had come from. He prayed that they didn’t notice him as he waited but knew the moment he’d been spotted.

“Hey Shortcock, Love the hair!” Stephen shouted as others in the common room turned.

“He’s like a unicorn without the horn.” Oliver Rivers piped in. He heard Hannah giggle, and he turned around to look at them.

“New clothes? What happened to your old ones?” Hannah asked before they erupted with laughter. “You really ought to be more careful with your things!” Neville hated seeing the twisted grin on her face. She looked so cruel. He opened his mouth to say something when Pansy descended.

“Hey, Longbottom! I should never have listened to you. When do you think this will wear off? My parents will go berserk if I return looking like this?”

Pansy was trying to do up her skirt as she stepped next to him, seemingly unaware of the three bullies. Neville glanced at the threesome and noticed that they watched in shock, not a smile between them.

“Nev? What happened to her hair?” Hannah asked acidly.

“Someone tampered with his shampoo. I assume they weren’t betting on Neville sharing it, I’m just hoping it’ll fade by Christmas!” Pansy said in innocent frustration.

“Nev?” Hannah asked as she half rose from her chair. “Why did she use your shampoo?”

“You expect us to believe Shortcock here got you to join him in the shower?” Stephan asked, ignoring Hannah’s worried tone. Pansy shrugged nonchalantly.

“Believe what you want, Cornfoot. A true lady doesn’t kiss and tell!” she smirked as Neville stood nervously glancing between the three bullies and Pansy. She placed a hand on his neck, drawing his eye.

“Are you ready?” She asked. Neville swallowed and nodded his eyes still on hers. She tiptoed and kissed him softly placing her hand to his face. The feel of her lips on his threw him mentally off-balance. He ran his hand around her waist, pushing his thumb under the fabric of her jumper to brush her warm skin. Pulling her against him just enough that he knew he wanted more. She smiled against the kiss, and he pulled away.   

She stepped back slightly and smiled warmly.

“Come on, Love,” he muttered with a smile as he guided her gently away. She beamed at him and off they went without glancing back.

“Nev?” They heard Hannah call, but they ignored her as they pushed through the door leading down. As the door shut, they stopped and looked at each other.

“Did you see the look on their faces?” Pansy asked. “Did you hear Hannah?” Neville nodded, but his mind was already on her and her hot skin and cosmic purple hair. She looked as free and wild as he always thought she was. “I think Hannah was about to have kittens.”

“Let’s not talk about them any more. If this is supposed to be a date, let’s do it properly.” Neville smiled. Pansy grinned and nodded.

“No talking about exes on dates. Rule number one.”

“There are rules?” Neville asked with a chuckle as she pulled him off balance.

“Of course, there are rules. Merlin Neville! Are you a pureblood or not?” She asked as she draped his arm around her shoulder.

“Gran never really followed the old ways.” He said with a smile as he pulled her head towards him to kiss.

“You’re lucky then. I remember growing up, I spent almost all day, every day, training how to be a good, pureblood wife. Table etiquette, how to hold a polite conversation, how to dress, you name it there was some ritual or reason. to it.”

“Good to know.”

“Don’t count on it. I’ve spent most of my teenage years thus far, trying to forget it all.”

He laughed at that, and she smiled.

“I wonder whether they house-elves still have leftovers? I hate the idea of getting them to cook again.”

“Did you have house-elves at home?” She asked. He shook his head

“Gran didn’t like them. She always said that they always looked too much like mice for her liking. And she was petrified of the things!”

“I’d love to meet your gran, she sounds funny. I dislike mice too,” Neville shook her head.

“I’m not sure whether I would want you to meet.” Pansy stopped causing Neville to stop. “What’s wrong?”

“You wouldn’t want me to meet your grandmother?” Pansy asked sharply. “And why is that?”

“Because I wouldn’t know who I’d need to protect when the fight broke out.” She smirked and tapped him on the shoulder before they continued to walk.

Before long they were at the portrait of the bowl of fruit. Neville reached out and tickled the pear causing the painting to swing open.

Delicious smells emanated from the entrance as Neville waited for Pansy to go through first. Neville thought he could smell beef and hoped there would be enough for a sandwich at least.

The room was warm, and despite dinner service being finished, there was still lots of activity. Small figures wandered between the miniature worktops and the ovens.

Pansy stilled as she looked at one of the nearest elves.

“Are you alright?” He asked as he placed a hand on the small of her back. She nodded with a grimace.

“I really wish you hadn’t told me about them resembling mice. I’ve not liked rodents since Weasley’s rat got into my school bag and bit me.”

“Scabbers bit you?” Neville asked, surprised. Pansy nodded. “Well they’re not rodents, and they won’t bite.” He pulled her to his side and smiled as she nodded nervously.

“You’ll protect me?” She asked with a smirk.

“Of course, I will.” He whispered before stepping passed her and kneeling down to the nearest elf.

“Hi Dooney,” He smiled as he recognised the elf. He had to admit that if his gran had seen Dooney, she’d have fainted on the spot. The elf’s long grey nose drooped forwards with small nostrils at the end. Her long pointed ears stuck up into the air as her large glassy eyes regarded him warmly.

“Master Neville, it is good to be seeing you. How can Dooney help?”

“We missed dinner and were wondering whether you had any leftovers we could eat?” He asked. The elf jumped with a squeak.

“Hungry students? No, that’s not allowed. Dooney will feed you! Master and mistress will be seated.” Her shrill voice squeaked.

“Are you sure? We wouldn’t want to be bothersome.” He replied, but Dooney had already started to push his off.

“Master and Mistress with sit here!” Neville pushed himself up in one swift motion until he was towering over the small elf again. She took his hand and pulled him towards one of the long tables and sat him down.

“Mistress may sit here.” She offered without taking Pansy’s hand. Nevill could see the look of relief on her face when the elf didn’t try to touch her.

“Thank you.” She said as she sat down, tucking her skirt underneath her. Neville watched as the firelight glinted and glittered off her hair. She turned and looked at him before blushing and looking away.

“I really do love your hair, I mean it was brilliant before, but now it’s magical. And I love that you did it for me,” He blushed as he looked away too. He didn’t think anyone had done something so reckless for him before and knowing how her parents could react made it even more special.

“I love yours too, did I mention how much I love the colour purple?”

“You did.” He smiled as he felt her foot stroke his shin under the table.

“So, what lessons do you have tomorrow?” She asked as she leant her chin on her hand, watching him.

“I just have Potions and Transfiguration with you. Otherwise, I’m free tomorrow.”

“So you have a free period first thing?” She asked with a smile. He nodded

“I could always skip Alchemy, and we could do something together.”

“We could, but you’re not going to be able to cure dragon pox if you don’t go to the lessons.” He winked and smiled.

“Come on, That chance of me curing dragon pox is slim.”

“It’ll be even slimmer if you don’t go. Come on, we’ll have two lessons together, and we’ll have lunch too.”

“I can tell you spend too much time with Granger.” She smirked as she rolled her eyes.

Neville was about to respond when drinks and food appeared on the table in front of them. His eyes bulged as his stomach growled.

Roast beef and Yorkshire puddings were scattered around the table with vegetables and potatoes. What looked like a tomato soup sat in a bowl with a ladle waiting to be used.

Closer to Pansy salad was piled high in a bowl as was a plate full of brightly coloured cooked vegetables. They looked at each other a smiled as goblets of liquid appeared.

“So, what’s your favourite colour?” She asked with a smile as she picked up some of the vegetables and put them onto her plate.

“Green,” He smirked before pushing some beef into his mouth. The gravy was the best.

“Well that’s convenient” she smirked. “And what’s your favourite book?”

He took a swig of his elderflower cordial and grinned as he placed the cup back down.

“War of the flowers, it’s by a muggle writer, I think you would enjoy it. What about you?”

“This goes no further.” She warned with a point as she looked around them conspiratorially “I don’t have a favourite, but I adore Jane Austen. If my parents ever found out, they would burn my bookcase.”

“Jane Austen? Why? Because she was a muggle?” She rolled her eyes and nodded before eating some more.

“Mother and Father are still very much of the mindset that Muggles are inferior and dangerous.” She shook her head.

“At least I’m a pureblood,” Neville smirked.

“You’re a Longbottom, though. Longbottoms and Weasley’s are blood traitors,” she tilted her head as she thought for a moment. “I’m not actually sure what they would do if they found out about you.”

“I never, for one moment thought I would be the boyfriend you were afraid to take home.” He laughed at the thought, ignoring the twinge of unease niggling at the back of his mind.

“So, You’re never meeting my parents, and I’ll never meet your Gran, sounds fair.”

Neville nodded, it did indeed sound fair. He wasn’t sure what his Gran would make of the grey-eyed girl in front of him.

“So, favourite food and most hated?” Neville asked as he wiped up some gravy with some Yorkshire pudding and ushed it into his mouth.

“Favourite food, sweet or savoury?” She asked.

“Does it matter?”

“I am not picking just one type of food!” she warned as she pointed her fork at him.

He rolled his eyes and smirked.

“Alright, alright, favourite sweet and favourite savoury, and then least favourite.”

“Ok, Savoury would be Ratatouille,” She pointed at the food she was eating before she continued “and sweet would be cherries and dark chocolate. Least favourite would be anything with meat and peanut butter.” She pulled a face.

“Meat?”

“I’m a vegetarian,” she shrugged. He paused for a moment and looked at his own food.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”

“I’m alright with other people eating it, I just can’t stomach it.” She smiled. “What about you?”

He thought for a moment as he took another swig of his drink. He laughed and looked down at his plate.

“Probably what I’m eating now, or toad in the hole, anything with gravy.” He laughed. She smiled and shook her head before putting her own glass to her lips. “Sweet would probably be carrot cake. I can’t stand Liver and onions, and I’m not a big fan of banana flavoured things.”

She nodded in agreement

“I’m not a big fan of banana either.” They both smiled as they continued to eat.

Before long, they were both finished, and their plates were empty. The elves around them continued to scurry around them. Sometimes he caught her eyes following them around if they passed too close.

“Come on, if you’re finished.” He smiled as he offered his hand.

“Are you finished?” She asked as she wiped at her mouth with her napkin. He nodded and held out his hand to her, she smiled and took it.

“Have master and mistress eaten enough?” Asked Dooney as she stepped closer. Neville turned and smiled down to the little elf.

“Thank you, Dooney. It was wonderful, as usual.”

“Thank you,” Pansy said with a weak smile as he led her to the portrait hole again.

“You’re so brave.” He muttered with a smirk as they passed out into the hallway.

“Oh, Shut up!” She smirked. “So, what now?”

“I guess we head back.”

“Actually, I have a plan.” She said as she looked down coyly.

“Yeah?” Neville asked. He was just about to ask for more details when they both heard a cat’s meow behind them.

“Students out of bed, my sweet?” Came filches chuntering growl from around the corner.

“Shit, Come on! Quick!” Pansy swore as she pulled him with her in the opposite direction of Mrs Norris.

~~~

Chapter 18 – Behind the Tapestries

They laughed as they began to slow, breathing hard as they looked down the corridor behind them.

“You know, we are actually adults, I’m not sure we would have been in trouble.”

“Did you really want to spend three hours in Filches office while he tried to prove that we were actually misbehaving fourth years with an ageing potion?” Pansy asked with a quirk of her eyebrow.

“Good point.” He nodded as he held his side.

“I’m so unfit.” Pansy panted.

“I know that feeling,”

“I beg to differ, you don’t get abs like that from sitting and overeating.” She laughed as she held her own waist.

“No, it’s from heavy lifting and gardening over the summer. I had to do my Gran’s garden as well as helping out to fix the grounds here” He wipes the sweat from his brow as he took in a deep breath “It was hard work, but it didn’t include running.”

“Are you telling me that planting a few bulbs and laying some turf gave you that body?” Pansy asked incredulously as she stepped closer,

“You say the nicest things.” He smirked as he pulled her in for a kiss. He felt her kiss in every nerve and muscles as he shivered. He felt a stirring in his groin as they parted. “Now, where are we? I wasn’t paying attention.”

“We’re by Transfiguration and North tower.” She said against his lips. “Right where I want us to be.” She pulled away and quirked her eyebrow before stepping away from him.

“Oh?” Neville asked a thrill of excitement coursing through his veins. Pansy nodded as she bit he lip and started to back away from him. She took his hand and slowly led him down one of the offshoot corridors. 

He looked around as he tried to get his bearings. Paintings and tapestries covered the walls as she led him on. They stopped at a particular curtain and Pansy smirked. Neville looked at her, feeling confused. The tapestry was a strange one, like many in the castle. This one’s subject was a hare playing the violin. He didn’t think he’d ever seen it before, not that he noticed most of the portraits either as he moved about the castle. 

“Interesting,” Pansy smirked again “You don’t recognise this tapestry?” She asked as she stepped close.

“No, should I?”

“Maybe, maybe not, I thought it was well known amongst the students but apparently not,”

“Why is it so well known?” He asked as he stared at it. The hare didn’t move nor did music escape from the stitches. For all intents and purposes, it may as well have been muggle.

“It’s not the tapestry itself,” She laughed as she kissed the back of his hand. “It’s what’s behind it.”

Neville’s eyes widened as she lifted the bottom to expose a secret room.

He pushed inside and looked around. Room may have been an exaggeration as it was bearly large enough for them both to be in there, it was more like a hidden nook with a small bench and ledge. “I think muggles call them priest holes. Where they used to hide people who were being hunted.” Pansy said as she pushed in behind him.

“Cool,” He said as he looked around. With the tapestry down behind them, it was almost black. He sat on the ledge and reached for Pansy, drawing her in for a kiss. Her hips bumped the inside of his thighs as he ran his fingers through her hair. He heard her moan into his mouth before pulling away breathlessly.  

“So you’ve never been in here before?” He shook his head. Now that they were alone, he didn’t want to talk any more.

“How do you know about this place.” He asked, despite his growing need for her. She swished her wand silently before shoving it back into her skirt pocket. He wondered whether she’d cast an undetectable extension charm on them before his mind drifted back to her.

“Tell you later.” She said dismissively as she pulled him back in for a kiss. Her lips felt hot against his own as she pushed her hands into his hair and tugged. He growled unexpectedly, not realising how much he enjoyed it. She smiled against his mouth before her tongue ran across his lip. He pushed forward to claim her tongue, and she moaned in response. His hands cupped her waist as he pulled her closer. He slipped his fingers under her jumper to touch the heated skin beneath. She moaned again, encouraged he slid his hand further until he was cupping her breasts. She shuddered as he ran his thumbs simultaneously over each hardening nub.

He felt his cock twitch in response, and she pressed her hip against him knowingly. He groaned again as his cock throbbed as it grew from the attention.

She sank her teeth into his lip, gently pulling on it slightly before crashing her lips against him again.

Neville started to circle the dark circles over her bralette, milking the sounds that fell from her mouth. Merlin, he loved those noises. She took in a deep and shuddering breath before pulling away from him. She smiled the outline of her face only just visible in the poor light. He could see her eyes looking at him as if looking for permission.

“That’s not what we’re here for.” She breathed as her nails ran over the bulge in his trousers. A thrill of anticipation rushed up his spine and through his cock as he moaned. She smiled and began to undo his belt buckle.

Oh, he had been waiting for this. He closed his eyes as she started to pop the buttons of his fly.

“You don’t have to do this.” He choked out as she pushed her hand in to stroke the cotton of his briefs.

“I know, but I want to.” She replied sultrily “Now, stand up so we can get rid of these muggle trousers.

Neville laughed as he lifted off the ledge so that his jeans could be removed. Pansy pulled them down slowly until they were by his ankles. He watched her and waited. He had never done this before and didn’t know what was about to happen.

She kissed him again before dropping to her knees. He felt a sudden rush of shock as he saw her perched so close to his cock. He held his breath as her breath ghosted across the hairs on his thighs. She leant forward and stroked his cock with her nose, and he shuddered. The sensations running through him like electric.

“These must go too.” She said huskily as she hooked her fingers into the waistband and pulled.  He lifted his hips and let her pull them down his legs too. He cursed as his bare buttocks touched the stone. Pansy laughed before taking his cock into her mouth. It was like the bottom fell out of his world for a moment as the intense, wet heat took him by surprise. He cried out as he gripped the ledge behind him. He hardened fully in seconds filling her mouth as she pulled back.

She started to swirl her tongue around the head, and he threw his head back. It was so much better than he had ever dreamt of. He groaned as she started to move, letting the sensitive skin of his cock slide against the luscious pillows of her lips. He didn’t need to watch her, to imagine how her plump lips would look against his skin. He opened his eyes and looked down, watching how her head moved in the dim light. It was like every fantasy he had ever had, he just wished she had worn lipstick. She swirled her tongue around the head against before plunging back down.

His breath caught as her fingers caressed his balls. He cried out again in surprise as the sensation grew behind them. He other hand gripped and stroked his thigh as she moved backwards and forward on him. He reached out wanting to hold onto something as the pleasure grew. Her hand caught his drawing his attention. He looked down into her eyes, visible by the fine slither of light. He knew he was falling for this girl. Falling hard in more ways than one. She blinked up at him as she moved his hand to her hair. The silken strands beneath his fingers felt almost invisible as the throbbing heat built within him.

He tried not to grip her head. He had enough experienced friends to know that was not polite. He fought the urge to thrust as she picked up the speed. He was in heaven.

All too soon, he found himself shuddering against the heat and moaning wantonly into the darkness. His balls tightened as the release met resistance until finally he was coming, pouring out into the decadent fire of Pansy’s mouth. He gripped her, not to hold her in place but to hold onto reality. He half expected that once the blinding pleasure subsided, he would find himself alone in his bed. He held onto her for dear life until he could breathe again. His knees shook as he slowly unclenched his fingers. Pansy slowly let his softening cock go before pulling his jeans and boxers back up. With shaky hands, he moved away from the stone and pulled them up.

Pansy stood, and the edge of a smile could be seen on her face. “I’m glad I put up the silencing charms, I didn’t know you’d be so vocal.”

“Sorry,” He blushed as he tried to do up the buttons.

“What did I say about saying sorry? And I liked it!” She pushed his hands out of the way ad did his buttons up for him before running he hands around his waist. “I was nice knowing that you were enjoying what I was doing.”

He nodded vigorously as he pulled her close into a hug. He held her tight as he smelled her hair and enjoyed her heat. “mmm a cuddler too, I like that.” She chuckled as she breathed in the scent at his neck. He closed his eyes, feeling content and relaxed as her smell filled his nostrils.

“What about you?” He asked, pulling away slightly.

“Don’t worry about me, you did a number on me earlier.” She laughed. He smiled as he pulled her close for a kiss. They kissed deep and long before they broke apart.

“We’d better head back otherwise the portraits won’t let us in,” Pansy said as she pushed out into the corridor. “Come on the coast is clear.

Neville stepped shakily out into the candlelight of the hallway as Pansy took his hand. She smiled, and he noticed that some of her pale lipstick had smudges around her face. He felt his cock twitch minutely at the thought of lipstick, but he ignored it as he reached up to wipe it off.  She smiled before turning to leave.

A thought crossed his mind as they slowly sauntered back towards Lumos tower. If Hannah had been so upset at the prospect of him being with Pansy, then what would she do to her?”

“Are you going to be alright in the dorms?” He asked suddenly.

“I’ll be fine. I have everything warded to the teeth. If they ever so much as look funny at my bed, wardrobe or toiletries, they’ll get a horrid little curse I picked up at Borgin and Burkes.” She snorted.

“Just be careful, I’ve seen what she’s been capable of, and I would hate for that to fall out onto you.”

“I’m a Slytherin, I’m used to it.” She said sadly as they arrived at the common room door.

They pushed it open and stepped in. The room seemed deserted as the large clock on the wall stated it was about Ten PM. They wandered towards the dorm steps when they noticed Hannah asleep on one of the sofas. Neville frowned when he saw the tear marks down her face. He paused for a moment before accioing one of the blankets and draping it over her.

“What are you doing?” Pansy whispered as he returned to her side.

“I think it was obvious.” He replied with a smirk.

“Not after what she’s done to you.”

“Even so, I’ve never wanted to be cruel, and I never wanted to hurt her.”

Pansy shook her head and smiled softly.

“Come on, bedtime I’ve got alchemy in the morning. I’ve got to be bright-eyed ad bushy-tailed if I’m going to get a head-on that cure.”

He smirked and nodded as he followed her up the stairs.

~~~

Chapter 19 – No Flowers Without Rain

Neville blinked against the thin line of light that forced its way through his curtains and smiled. Memories of his date the night before filled his head and his body as he cuddled the warm covers closer, wishing they were Pansy.

He stretched slowly before pushing the curtains out of his way and swung his feet out of bed. The dim light filtered through the windows as he noted that he was one of the first up. He stood up and stretched before grabbing his towel and heading for the showers. He slowly crept through the quiet dorms. It was usually about this time that everyone had managed to sleep regardless of their nightmares. He fought every instinct in his body to not tiptoe past Stephen and Oliver’s beds. He clenched his teeth in determination. He refused to be intimidated by them. He’d been in a war and killed a giant snake for merlin’s sake. He took a deep and steadying breath before entering into the showers.

He was relieved to see it was empty as he looked at himself in the mirror. His hair was still green and purple like the centre of a nebula. He didn’t think it suited him, but it meant that Pansy’s hair would still look like the aurora borealis. He smiled as he pushed his fingers through it. He kinda liked it. With a smile and a determined nod, he turned to the shower and stripped off his boxers. He went to step into the shower when he heard someone walk in. He looked up when something caught him around the ankles. He felt the air leave him and the world flash white as his face collided with the floor. He groaned as his face went from numb to throbbing. He tried to push himself up when a foot pushed down on his back.

“Good morning, Shortcock,” Stephen snarled as he pressed down on his shoulders. Neville didn’t respond as he tried to ignore the throbbing in his cheek and jaw. “I bet you thought it was funny last night, didn’t you? Showing off with the Slytherin slut. It certainly threw us. We didn’t see it coming.” Neville heard the shower turn on as the water started to pool around his mouth. He began to panic, thinking that if it got any deeper, he could drown. “I’m not sure you’re cut out for school life, Shortcock. If I were you, I’d consider your career options without your N.E.W.Ts.” His foot lifted from Nevilles back. Neville took a deep breath as he lifted his head from the tiles. “Maybe train as a clown, Have a good morning.” He said cheerfully as he left the room. Neville groaned as he pushed himself up, feeling his face already begin to swell and throb. He touched it gently and whimpered slightly as he stepped into the shower. The water seemed to make the pain worse as he tried to get clean. He didn’t want to be naked and at the mercy of Stephen again. He rinsed off and stepped out, determined to get somewhere safe.

He held his towel as though his life depended on it as he walked through the dorms. He locked eyes with Theo and Blaise before looking away quickly. Once back near his bed, he started to relax. He unlocked the wards on his wardrobe and changed into his clothes quickly before retreating to the common room. He went to get coffee from the kitchenette, passing a screwed up blanket from where he’d covered Hannah the night before. He grabbed one of the large mugs and poured in the coffee before adding a generous amount of milk. He sniffed the warm liquid as he took over the window seat.

He could barely make out the quidditch pitch through the low cloud as the rain pelted the windows. He watched the vivid green and grey landscape through a kaleidoscope of colour as the droplets distorted his view. His mind wandered as he stared into the distance. He wondered whether Stephen was right, he didn’t know whether he could last much longer with the bullying. He winced as his cheek throbbed. He contemplated about pressing it to the window pane when a hand caught his knee. He turned with a flinch, expecting Stephen to be standing there.

Grey eyes met his with a warm smile, and he relaxed. Her mouth moved to form words before her eyes glanced to his face. Her smile dropped

“Salazar, what happened to you?” She asked as she gently tried to turn his face.

“It’s nothing, I fell in the shower.” He shrugged as he held her hand. “It’s nothing.”

“Don’t lie to me, Neville. You’re shit at it!” She said through clenched teeth.  “I am going to go and get coffee, and we are going to sit here and talk.” Neville felt his mouth dry up as she walked away, her robes floating behind her. He closed his eyes as he leant his head against the window. He didn’t want to have this conversation. He didn’t want her to know how weak he was. He also didn’t want to lie to her and make her angry.

The thought of making her angry scared him the most. He didn’t want to lose her. He swallowed the ash that had been coffee as he waited for her to join him. He took a deep breath and wondered whether there was anything he could say to distract her, but his mind went blank.

He felt the cushions sink down in front of him as he opened his eyes. Her hair was as beautifully vivid as it had been the night before, but now the daylight drew the metallic tones through. She looked annoyed as she sipped on her coffee. She swallowed her first mouthful before looking at his face.

“If you want to break things off. I- I understand.” He said as he closed his eyes again and rested his face against the pane of glass. Her anger made him uncomfortable, like biting ants up his arms. He couldn’t take it. He didn’t want to lose her, but if she were going to finish with him because he lied, he understood.  

“Break things off?” He heard her voice break slightly, he opened his eyes and looked at her shocked face, gone was the anger. Her freckles seemed more pronounced against her pale skin as she studied his face. “Do you want to break things off?” She asked quietly. He saw her hands shake slightly as she wrapped them tightly around her mug.

He shook his head. It was the last thing he wanted to do. “Then why did you say that?” She asked, her face looking crestfallen.

Neville sat up straighter as he stared into the mug as though looking for answers.

 “Of course, I don’t.” He reached his hand out to touch hers. “I just thought- thought that you were angry with me.” He felt his insides squirm with awkwardness as he explained himself. “Why would you be with someone that lies and makes you angry?”

“Neville, you don’t dump someone just because you’re angry with them, and I wasn’t angry at you.”

“Oh,” he replied shyly.

She squeezed his hand before taking a sip of her coffee. She looked down at the black liquid before looking up at him.

“And I know that you’re not a liar, you’re just covering for someone. I know that you didn’t fall in the shower, ”

He looked out the window and sighed.

“Can we not talk about it now. Am I ok to ask for a hug instead?” He asked as he looked back to her hopefully. She smiled and sighed before putting her mug down. She turned around and leant against his chest, pulling his one arm over her chest. She looked up at him and smiled as he sipped his coffee and smelt her hair.

“You really should talk about it with someone Neville” She advised as she kissed his palm. He nodded as he rested his head against her hair and breathed in the scent of cherries and violets. “Bottling it all up doesn’t help, it builds until it explodes out.”

He pulled her closer to him and shut his eyes momentarily. She felt so good in his arms, and he wanted to savour her warmth and softness. He opened his eyes and looked out of the window as the rain hammered against the window.

“I remember when things were really bad, last summer sometime,” She murmured, her voice vibrating against his chest. “I used to sit in our conservatory at home and just listen to the rain. I felt so alone. I could see that the world was falling around my feet but, I wasn’t able to say anything, I’ve never felt so alone,” she confided in barely a whisper. He nodded again feeling her hair against his stubble. He’d meant to shave in the shower. The throbbing in his cheek seemed to calm slightly as they just sat, enjoying each others company.

“You can’t get the flowers without the rain,” he replied just as quietly so only she could hear him. She nodded gently as she snuggled in more closely. Despite the pulsating pain in the left side of his face, he felt at his most peaceful and content. They were silent for a while longer before Pansy moved. She turned and kneeled in front of him, a small smirk passing her face as she glanced at him.

“I enjoyed yesterday,” She murmured to him as she gently turned his face again.

“So did I,” he smiled, feeling the skin tightening where the swelling had blown up. She leant closer as she examined his face.

“Does it hurt? It looks like it should.” He nodded against her fingers as they tenderly held his chin. “You should go to the hospital wing, see Madam Pomfrey.”

“Neville? What happened to your face? And your hair?” Hermione cried as she placed her books down on the nearby coffee table.  

~~~

Chapter 20 – Hot, Little, Humble Pie.

Hermione stood slack-jawed as she gazed at his face and then between the two of them, her face turning thoughtful. Neville tried to focus on her as Pansy gently felt his skin. He hissed when the pressure of one of her fingers became too much, sending shooting pains through his cheekbone. She jumped back with a squeak.

“Shit, sorry Hunny,” she muttered as she released him. She glanced at Hermione for a moment before moving away to sit facing him. Neville felt the loss of her heat and touch almost like a physical blow. Hermione scowled and tapped her foot as she waited for an answer.

“What in god’s name happened?”

Neville took a deep breath before catching Pansy’s eye. She shrugged unhelpfully.

“Are you going to tell her what really happened or should I tell her what I think happened?” Pansy asked with a quirked eyebrow.

“I fell in the shower,” He muttered as he avoided their gaze, he heard someone snicker and looked around. Stephen and Oliver were looking over as they left the common room, erupting in laughter before the door closed. Hannah followed behind, her face looking downcast as she quietly followed.

“It was them, wasn’t it?” Hermione asked as her gaze followed after them. “They’re bullying you, because of her?”

He felt shame as he returned to looking out of the window, ignoring Hermione’s question.

“Neville,” Pansy said softly as she placed her hand on his knee. “If you won’t speak to us, please at least speak to one of the teachers. What about Sprout?” Neville snorted at the thought. Sprout would probably tell him, in her usual, brusque manner, to be a man and grow a pair and teach the bully who’s boss.

“What about McGonagall?” Hermione added as she sat on the seat closest to them.

Neville shook his head and immediately regretted it as it seemed to shake the pain to the surface again. He grimaced in pain before answering.

“Just drop it, please. Come on, let’s go to breakfast.” He said as he swung his legs off. He picked up their cups and left for the kitchenette. He washed them as he tried to ignore the two witches conspiring behind his back. He sighed unhappily as he dried and put the mugs back. He knew he could have used magic, but he needed to do something to keep his hands busy.

He turned around and watched as they both sprang apart as if afraid of being caught. He had to smile as Pansy watched him, concern etching her usually expressionless features. Hermione looked away, guiltily. “Stop plotting you two! You’ll only get me into more trouble.”

Pansy winked and smiled as he walked closer and took her hand.

“Trouble sounds fun,” She muttered as they waited for Hermione to grab her things before leaving to get breakfast.

~

Neville could feel his anxiety building as they neared the hall, and the smell of food wasn’t improving his digestion. He could hear the raucous laughter and the hum of hundreds of conversations chittering at the same time. He ran his hand through his hair and wished he’d stayed in bed.

Pansy pulled his arm to her and hugged it as they walked, drawing a smile from him. She looked up at him as she threaded her fingers between his, interlocking them as they walked. She was so beautiful. Her hair shimmered in teal waves around her pale cheeks as they arrived at the hall door. Neville glanced in, seeing Stephen and Oliver watching him as they walked passed.

“Nice face, Shortcock! Almost matches your hair now.” Oliver shot as they were still within earshot.

“Unless you want your face to match the strawberry jam, Rivers. I’d keep your comments to yourself.” Pansy added sweetly as they reached Ginny and Luna.

“Oooh, you might want to put a lead on that bitch, Shortcock.”

Neville stopped. Fury seemed to simmer under his skin. He could take another said to or about him, but no one insulted her. He was about to turn, but Pansy pulled him on. Hermione watched him warily as he sat down opposite the other girls.

“They can say what they like about me, Neville, but don’t let that ever draw you into a fight, that’s what they want,” Pansy said as she released his arm. She gave it an affectionate squeeze before reaching for the crepes.

“She’s right.” Hermione agreed.  

“Hi Neville, Hi Pansy. I love your matching hairstyles,” Said Luna warmly.

“Yeah,” Ginny added as she looked between them. “but what happened to your face?”

Neville closed his eyes and cursed.

“He fell over in the shower.” Pansy and Hermione added simultaneously before Hermione shared a look with Ginny.

“And was the hair intentional?” Ginny asked again. Neville and Pansy looked at each other and smiled.

“Someone tampered with my shampoo,” Neville said simply, and Pansy snorted.

“Shampoo?” Ginny pointed to them, in turn, her eyes wide. She was about to say something when Luna interrupted.

“Gin, it’s not polite to ask someone if they’re fucking, at the breakfast table, at least wait until after Neville’s eaten his toast.”

Neville was the first to laugh as Pansy joined in and then Hermione and Ginny. The laughter seemed to take some of the awkwardness away as they began to talk. Hermione, Luna and Ginny were immersed in an in-depth discussion about gnome hair when Neville turned to Pansy.

“Do you want coffee?” He asked. Pansy quirked on her perfect eyebrows as she licked some of the chocolate spread from the tip of one long, slender finger. Neville smiled and blushed as she nodded. He turned, catching Ginny’s eye before making two cups of coffee. He knew that look, it said ‘we need to talk.’ He nodded subtly as he handed Pansy her cup.

He breathed in the scent of the coffee. He usually preferred tea but felt like he needed to bitter liquid this morning. He looked down the table and noticed that a few peoples eyes darted away when he caught them staring. It looked as though Pansy’s plan was working. He caught Blaise’s eye and nodded in greeting. Blaise nodded back before returning to his pastry. Neville was about to return his attention to his toast when he saw Hannah watching them. Her eyes were puffy, and she looked pale. He wondered whether it had anything to do with him and Pansy being together. He looked away as Pansy squeezed his knee under the bench. She leant over to him and whispered into his ear.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to skip Alchemy?” She asked before pulling away. Her face was teasing, but there was something in her eyes that made him think that she was only offering him company and support.

“I’m sure. I think I’m one of the only few that have a free period now so I should be safe,” He smiled.

“I think your cheekbone may be fractured, you should go and see Pomfrey and get it looked at.” She smiled before pushing some of the hair away from his face gently, avoiding his face. “Although I’ll be honest, with this new hair, I think the black eye makes you look like such a bad boy.”

“She’s right, I almost didn’t recognise your this morning,” Hermione interjected. “Just need you to start acting like it,” She said as she glared up the table.

“Maybe I should just drop out of school and get myself a muggle motorbike?” Neville laughed, but even to himself, it sounded forced, especially after what Stephen had said.

“If you do not study as if your life depends on it this year, I will be your own personal Boggart!” She threatened before going back to buttering her crumpets.

“I’m with Granger on this one.” Pansy nodded. “You can get a motor thingy if you want to, but if you leave here, you’ll leave me alone with them.” Pansy smiled as he picked up her mug of coffee and took a sip.

“Running away is rarely the answer,” Luna added with her strange variety of insight and Neville blushed.

There was an awkward silence before Hermione picked up the conversation.

“Pansy, how many inches did you write for Alchemy?” She asked.

“About fourteen, I think, and you?” She asked before eating part of the crepe on her fook.

“About the same, maybe a couple more,” Hermione said evasively.

“That’s ‘Hermione’ for double that,” Ginny chuckled from her scrambled eggs.

Hermione blushed as she bit off some toast, refusing to comment.

“What are you going to do during your free period, Neville?” Luna asked as she pushed around her porridge.

“I still need to finish the conclusion on my transfiguration essay, and I may go and see Madam Pomfrey but other than that…” He paused, but one glance from Hermione made him reconsider his answer. “And I might try and get a headstart on my other assignments.”

Hermione smirked as she continued to eat her toast. Pansy squeezed his knee again, drawing his attention.

“It’s your last chance, I can still skip.”

“No, If Hermione is threatening to become my boggart, I’ll become yours.”

“Aww, honey, you say that like it’s a threat. I happen to love hot, humble pie with ice cream” She winked.

“Humble pie? That sums up Neville!” Ginny snorted as she sipped her coffee.

Neville tried to scowl but found his lips betraying him as he smiled. He hissed again as his cheek throbbed.

Pansy smiled as she gently placed her hand on his face. The warmth seemed to ease the pain somewhat.

“Don’t let her touch you, Shortcock! St Mungo’s haven’t got cures for the diseases she has! Your shorty might drop off,” Oliver called from the far end of the table. Neville caught him and Stephen laughing hysterically as he turned back to Pansy. He watched her face drop as a blush rushed into her cheeks. She found him looking and schooled it into a mask of indifference.

“Aww, what’s up, boys? Not getting laid?” She called back snarkily before returning to her crepe. He watched as she pushed it around her plate without eating more. 

“Just ignore them.” She smiled before a screech erupted from the same end. They looked around and watched as large green and grey bubbles erupted from his nose. The bubbles started to shift and change until wings formed. They began to flap, their two wings slapping against their slimy bodies until they gained lift. Once airborne, they proceeded to dive-bomb Oliver as he sat, trying to avoid the slime.

A groan of disgust filled the air as some of the other eighth year girls tried to escape away, squealing as they tried to avoid the bat-bogeys. The hysteria seemed to spread to some of the lower years as the bat-bogeys circled Oliver, divebombing him as he tried to crawl away.  

Neville glanced at Ginny, who quickly hid her wand. Neville smiled as he caught her eye. She nodded too as she watched with interest.

Pansy’s smirk seemed hollow as she continued to push her crepe around, bearly reacting to the sight.  

Oliver went to stand to escape, but as he climbed to his feet, he tripped and fell backwards as the belt in his robes slipped to his ankles. His face turned beetroot red as he fought to pull them up again as he dodged the flying slimeballs.  

The hall erupted into laughter as all eyes watched him.. Neville looked around to find Hermione looking down at her breakfast. He narrowed his eyes, and she looked the other way with a small smile forming.

It was almost too good to miss, especially with how much they had tormented him recently, but his eyes well all for Pansy. 

Neville could feel the discomfort radiating from her like heat from a flame. He frowned as he touched her hand. She didn’t respond immediately, but slowly, she put down her fork and took his hand. Her fingers were cold as they gripped his firmly. He ran his hand around her shoulders and pulled her close. It felt like she had always belonged there. Something had triggered a nerve, and he could only assume it was Oliver’s comments. He pulled her closer and lightly kissed her head as he squeezed her hand.

“Are you alright?” He whispered, his mouth close to her ear. Painfully aware of the pain in his face.

“I’m fine.” She replied quietly as she leant into him.

“I’m always happy to listen if there’s a problem.

“It’s just a shame you can’t take your own advice, isn’t it?” a ghost of a smile appeared on her lips before she shook her head. “Will you walk me to Alchemy?”

“Sure,” They were just about to stand up when Professor McGonagall appeared from the head table.

“What is the meaning of this disruption?” She asked curtly, the Scottish lilt coming through strongly as she raised her voice.

No one answered as their eyes were torn between her looming figure as the bouncing bogey that seemed to have glued itself to Oliver’s jumper.   

“Rivers, Care to explain to me why you seem to have slime growing out of your jumper? The last time I checked, slime was not part of the official uniform,”

“It was Longbottom, He hexed me, Professor.”

McGonagall’s lips pursed as her eyebrow raised. She turned her head to find him in the crowd, and Neville watched as her eyes skimmed right over him twice before she noticed him. She turned to him and took in his hair and face.

“Longbottom, Is what Mr River’s saying true?” She asked as she looked up at him. She still seemed to be able to look down her nose at him even though he had grown taller than her in recent years.

Neville felt dread pool in his stomach as he pushed his hands into his pockets.

“No, Professor,” He shook his head as he watched as Stephen and Oliver smirked at him behind her back. 

“It wasn’t Neville, Professor,” Hermione interrupted. “His wand never left his pocket.” Neville turned to find almost everyone shaking their heads; including some of the others from further along the table.

“So, Mr River’s what makes you think that Longbottom did this to you? It wouldn’t have anything to do with the bruise growing on his face?”

The look on Oliver’s face showed panic as he realised the implications. He opened his mouth to speak, but she interrupted him by addressing all the present eighth years.

“I’m sure that I don’t need to remind you all that Hogwarts has a strict policy against bullying. I am frankly surprised and disappointed that I need to have this conversation with you so soon after the recent events of this past summer.”

Pansy took his hand, threading her fingers between his. He squeezes it affectionately as he continued to listen to McGonagall. “Now, I suggest that you all head onto your lessons and think about your actions. Rivers, clean yourself up, I know that Professor Trelawny has a particular aversion to mucus.” She turned back to Nevile and Pansy, her eyes sweeping over the pair of them. Neville watched as Stephen shot a look at him. He knew that this wasn’t over.

“Have you been to the Hospital wing yet, Longbottom?” She asked as she looked at his face, drawing his attention back to her.

“Not yet, Professor, I was going to go now as I have a free period.”

“Very good. I would also like to point out that dyed hair is also against school rules, but I assume that it was one of Weasley’s wizard wheezes and won’t wash out?” Neville looked at Pansy and who shrugged.

“I assume so, Professor. My shampoo was tampered with.”

“So was mine,” Pansy added quickly as McGonagall narrowed her eyes at them.

Neville felt the irrational urge to laugh as the rest of the eighth years filtered out of the hall.

“If I were you both, I would start keeping your toiletries under lock and key. Now go and let Poppy look at you.” She looked at them both again, her eyes lingering on their joined fingers before turning away in a cloud of robes.

Neville let out a breath and chuckled as he turned to Pansy. She pushed her hair back out of her face and looked at him.

“That was close.” She admitted quietly.

“Just a bit.” He laughed before hissing.

“Come on, take me to Alchemy, then you can get and get your face looked at.” “Yes, Ma’am!” he nodded. He watched as he managed to draw a small smirk from her as they left the hall.

Accio Chapters 21 – 30

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