A/N: I do not own Harry Potter
Written for The International Wizarding School Championship - Summer Camp
Theme: Write about the rebuilding the Wizarding World - golden trio era characters
Neville Longbottom was in a daze. He felt like he hadn't stopped in weeks, and now Kingsley Shacklebolt was here asking for his help. Neville sat in his grandmother's living room. His grandmother looked proud as punch. Neville couldn't help feeling a little thrilled at his grandmother's admiration; he had never really had that as a child. Neville was always desperately trying to fill the enormous shoes of one Frank Longbottom, now he felt very proud to be Neville.
Neville, feeling very awkward with this newfound position he was in, busied himself with making cups of herbal tea. Kingsley sat across from him in Augusta's leather, wingback chair. He wore brightly coloured robes of the African style that he preferred. Kingsley was so broad and held such a presence that he could have been intimidating, but he wasn't, his presence reassured Neville that the Wizarding World was becoming a safer place every day. His brown eyes were warm and kind, setting one at ease; this was unusual for a Minister of Magic.
"Do you take honey?" Neville asked.
"No, thank you, Neville," he replied, his tone deep and smooth. "I would really like to get down to business. We cannot rest on our laurels."
"Of course, Minister." Neville reached over, handing a large mug of steaming tea. "How can we help you? Whatever you need, Grandmother and I are ready to help, isn't that right, Granny?"
"Of course, the Longbottoms are at your disposal," she replied with a note of pride.
There was a sense that the Longbottoms were in pride of place in the wizarding world now, just like they had been when Frank and Alice fought in the war. Augusta was clearly very proud of this, maybe even a little too proud.
"It is actually yourself, Neville, that I would like. Our Auror Division is severely lacking at the moment. We do not have the luxury to train Aurors, there are Death Eaters still out there, and we need to round them up and fast. I have a list of those that I believe are capable and trustworthy; you are on the top of that list."
"I am honoured, Kingsley, but I didn't exactly sit my NEWTs, and as far as I am aware, you need Potions, which I don't even have an OWL in."
Kingsley smiled. "I hardly think that matters. You defeated the last of Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes, vanquished Nagini, and took down your fair share of Death Eaters in a battle that surely could have claimed your life. This is all the qualification I require."
"What do I need to do?" Neville asked, his tone was willing and confident, a far cry from the boy whose sole accomplishment was having a pet toad that was more ashamed of him than he was of it.
"Report to the Ministry at your earliest convenience," he said with a smile.
The next day, Neville was up at the crack of dawn. An early start was a must, his grandmother had said. 'Our Frank, he was always up at five, and in the office for six!' So naturally, Neville would do the same. His father was legendary, and so Neville would model himself after that. He was confident now that he could be just as good an Auror as his father and mother had been.
He got ready, wearing his father's old Auror uniform, something his grandmother kept and got out just for Neville. She was so proud to see him decked out in her son's old Auror robes. So pleased, in fact, that she got up at five-thirty in the morning to see him off.
"Oh Neville," she gushed, "you look just like your father!"
Neville felt the same surge of pride he had whenever his grandmother told her how proud she was. Whenever she said that he reminded her of Frank in his younger days. Neville was soon heading towards the fire grate and grabbing a handful of the dusty silver powder. He threw it on the flames and called out his desired destination. He was unfazed by the eruption of bright green sparks, and he was relaxed as he shot through the Floo system. Neville was even calm as he walked out into the Ministry Atrium.
The Atrium was a mess. Ministry workers were taking down the stone monument in the central area, you could still see the images of Muggles being crushed under the weight of so-called great wizarding rule. The image made him angry, it gave him the fire to do what he needed to do. He would be just like his father and stand up for what was right and fight those that dared to espouse such prejudiced views.
It was with this fire in his belly that urged him to make his way to the Aurors offices. Once he was there, he felt less calm and more daunting than ever. The Aurors office wall held portraits of Aurors that had died in battle. In the centre was a picture of Frank and Alice, otherwise known as Mum and Dad. His father wore the same robes that Neville wore now, and Neville was sure that they didn't fit him the same way. He felt the pressure, the need to make his father proud.
There wasn't much time to contemplate those feelings, soon he was rushed into a meeting, and the 'most wanted's' were highlighted. They were each given an assignment, and soon, they were paired off. Neville was working with a more seasoned Auror.
"Neville Longbottom?" he asked.
Neville nodded and smiled weakly.
"I'm Mordecai Berrycloth. Don't look so worried, Kid. If you are anything like your father, you will be great!"
Mordecai and Neville were soon handed a case, or rather a death eater that needed to be tracked down. Augustus Rookwood. They had discussed Rookwood; his strengths, weaknesses, potential hideouts as they sat in their cubicle. He was a formidable opponent and someone that Neville was not eager to go up against. Neville reminded himself of the look in his grandmother's eye as he had set out that morning. He thought about his father and how he would put everything on the line to keep the wizarding world safe, and with that, he knew what he had to do.
They initially apparated to the Rookwood residence. They had intelligence regarding its general location, but like many pure-blood homes, it had been rendered unplottable. They stood in a large empty field, and Neville was unsure what they could do next.
"Right, we need to remove the protection from the home," Mordecai instructed. "It's a powerful spell, and as long as we are in the general area, it will remove protective wards that make a place unplottable."
Mordecai grinned. He seemed like a very upbeat fellow, always had a smile on his face. He pulled out a strange contraption. It was like a globe but smaller, and it seemed to be constructed entirely out of crystal and gold. He released it, and it hoovered as whispered the name of the residence.
"Where do you get one of those?" Neville asked.
The whole concept of this little device made the idea of a safe house, a lot less reliable. Just the thought of what could happen if a Death Eater gets one of those. Any safe houses would have been discovered and all those within would have been killed.
"Oh, this little thing?" he motioned to the now glowing orb. "They are ministry regulated, and I know what you're thinking, but during wartime, certain artefacts such as; time turners, location orbs and the like, are put in a hidden location," he rambled on and on, seemingly delighted to be able to give information to Neville. "There are a small group of Wizards that are made secret keeper of the location, but there is an extensive selection process for that."
"That's… interesting, actually." Neville, however, was far more interested in the spectacular view.
The horizon wobbled as though with intense heat. Neville could attest to the brisk conditions. The wobble wasn't the only difference, there was a faint glow, and sure enough, the wards around a property in the distance began to fall.
The Rookwood home wasn't as large as Malfoy Manor, but it was just as grand. The villa was situated in a hansom estate and garden. Neville and Mordecai were soon approaching, and with a blast from Mordecai's wand, the gates flung open.
"Ready, Longbottom?" he said with a smile.
That was when the madness ensued. There were far more in the home than anticipated; there were children, women, men, and no knowledge of which adults were Death Eaters. As far as Mordecai was concerned, being in the Rookwood residence was enough to be taken in for questioning. It was then that Neville had to round up as many possible. Curses and hexes were flying. There were casualties, and back up had to be called.
They had gotten their man, but it had been another battle. This was how it continued. The effect on Neville was measured by his attitude at home. He and Luna had moved into together, and the relationship was not quite as easy going now, not with the pressures of being an Auror. Neville had become more aloof, withdrawn, and above all, he piled on the pressure to be the best that he could be.
Neville came home one evening after a double shift patrolling Azkaban. The dementors might have been sent away by Shakclbolt, but it was still a draining shift, and the effects of the dementors lingered. When he arrived home, he noticed a bright blue trunk by the fireplace. The silver cursive letters 'L L' on the front.
"Luna?" Neville called.
She walked into the kitchen, a pile of books in her arms. She strode over to the trunk and placed them in.
"What's happening? Are we going somewhere?" he asked.
It seemed foolish because he already noted that his trunk was not present.
"I'm leaving, Nev. I just can't do this anymore, and when I got an offer to work for the Scamander family, it just seemed like perfect timing."
"What? Why?" he demanded. The stress of the day, causing him to sound more aggressive than he intended.
"Neville," she said, her blue eyes showing how sad she was, "surely, you know. Things have not been going well, have they? Not since Hogwarts."
The dreamy quality to her voice used to make Neville so happy, and now, with that look in her eye, it made him feel hopeless.
"I know work is stressful, I know I can be difficult, but I will get better," Neville promised.
He stepped out of the fire and embraced her immediately. She wrapped her delicate arms around him, and he breathed in the scent of her shampoo; dirigible plums. He thought she would stay, he loved her enough, and she loved him. Surely it would all work out.
"It's not about that, Neville. If you loved your job, I would accept it, and I would stay and love you through all those hard times. You do not love your job Neville; you just trying to be someone you're not. You're so focused on being just like your father, that the man I loved is long gone. I cannot give up an opportunity like this for someone that I don't love, and I am afraid that just isn't you anymore. I am so sorry, Neville."
Luna locked her trunk and dragged it to the grate. "I do hope we can still be friends," she said with a sad smile. She dropped the Floo powder and soon enough she was gone.
The turn of events only increased Neville's insecurity. Maybe if he had been strong enough, she wouldn't have left. He threw himself into work and dived deeper and deeper into the desire to be just like someone else; Frank Longbottom.
It was a year later, there had been a series of incidents near Diagon Alley, and Neville and Mordecai were sent to investigate. Neville went straight to The Leaky Cauldron, surely the Landlord, Tom, would have a fair bit of useful information. He walked in, and behind the bar stood none other than Hannah Abbot.
"Hey, Hannah." Neville greeted her with his now customary grim smile. "I need to speak to Tom."
"Sorry, Tom isn't here anymore," she said with a bright smile. "I took over this place a few months back. Can I help?"
"Sure, the incidents in Diagon Alley? We have had several reports of wizards being attacked, but no news on who or what? None of the victims remembers a thing." Neville then pulled out a notebook and self-inking quill ready to make notes.
"Sorry, I have heard about the attacks, but only that they happened." Hannah looked at Neville, at his care-worn face, at the sparkle that was missing from his eye. "Are you okay, Nev? I heard about you and Luna."
"That was a year ago." He brushed the topic aside.
"You don't look yourself," she continued with a sad smile.
Without asking, she pulled a glass from a shelf and served Neville a large tankard of Butterbeer. "Since you're on the job, an' all, it will have to be Butterbeer."
Neville smiled and took a drink. "She said I wasn't myself, and she didn't love the 'me' that I had become. She said I was trying to be my father, and she would have passed up the job in Switzerland for me, but not how things were." Neville chugged a mouthful of Butterbeer. "Or something like that," he grumbled.
"I have to say she might have a point. You don't look happy, and it's hard to stay around someone, even if you love them when they are so painfully unhappy. I understood why you became an Auror at first, but I was surprised you kept it up, made a career out of it; it's not you, Nev."
"You think I can't be an Auror?" he asked, anger infiltrating his tone.
"Of course you can, but it's not who you are. For Harry, it makes sense, he loved it, relished each challenge that he faced. You are far more peaceful, loving, gentle. You are more than capable when push comes to shove, you proved that in our seventh year. I imagined you would settle down with a nice little greenhouse, focused on growing things, peace and love." she smiled. "Don't you think that sounds better than fighting all the time?"
"I am pretty sure that isn't what my grandmother would consider a viable career opportunity," he snarked back.
"These days you remind me more of Snape than anyone else with that tone!" she scolded him. "However, if you are open to other opportunities, I know of a position that is just as dignified and far more like the Neville that I admire."
"Go on, then, I'm all ears!" he laughed.
"McGonagall is looking for a new Herbology Professor; you would be perfect." Hannah took the empty tankard away, leaving Neville to his thoughts.
"Hannah!" he called her back.
The pretty red-head glanced over her shoulder, smiling.
"You think I could do that?" he asked.
Neville looked so unsure, so insecure, and yet the sparkle in his eyes was undeniable.
"I think you would make an excellent Herbology Professor, and I quite like the sound of Professor Longbottom!" she said with a cheeky smile.