A/N: I've had this rolling around in my head for a while and finally gotten it written down. I've been pretty absent lately what with work travel and holiday travel, but I'm hoping to get back in the swing of things a bit more this month!
This could be a stand alone, but is also tied to the Show a Little Faith world. Enjoy and review!
Immense guilt. That was the main feeling coursing through Neville Longbottom as he wandered aimlessly down the streets of Muggle London. There were healthy doses of panic and shock mixed in there as well, but he'd always been good at beating himself up for his actions and letting that take over. And his most recent behavior had been particularly disgraceful.
As soon as Hannah had told him, he'd stared at her in disbelief while she waited for him to say something. But he hadn't, choosing instead to let his panic call the shots and mumble out a few words that couldn't even be classified as a sentence, let alone an excuse as he quickly left her standing by the backdoor of the Leaky Cauldron.
He'd quickly reached the flat he shared with Dean and Seamus, but couldn't bring himself to go up. Dean was away visiting his sister for the weekend, and Seamus had planned to take advantage of the empty flat by having Lavender over. With his own evening being ruined, Neville didn't feel keen to do the same to anyone else's. Especially since - if things went well tonight - Seamus would be moving out of the flat and Neville would no longer have to worry about interrupting the other couple. Lavender just had to agree to move in with her boyfriend.
Thoughts of his flatmate's relationship status had caused Neville to wonder at his own. He and Hannah Abbott had been seeing each other for almost a year, after first spending a year being friendly acquaintances after the war, followed by a year of very warm friendship. He'd first noticed her during the tumultuous year leading up to the final battle at Hogwarts. Quite a few people had settled into the Room of Requirement, eager to find a sanctuary from the horror that was permeating the school. Neville could no longer wander the corridors, but some of those who stayed in the room would occasionally venture out, either to attend a class or check on friends and family or pull a stunt of some kind in protest. And on multiple occasions, his classmates came back bruised and bloody.
Neville, Seamus, Lavender, and Parvati - the first students to settle in - did what they could with their limited knowledge of healing, but it had never felt like enough. People recovered slowly and sometimes not much at all. That is until Hannah had shown up.
It had taken Neville almost a week to figure out how people were suddenly healing a lot better, injuries they'd had to let heal on their own looking markedly better in a short time. He'd come back from visiting the Hogs Head one evening to find Hannah bandaging the hand of Terry Boot, and he'd made the connection.
The fact that she'd dismissed his gratitude and praise, along with how obvious it was that she'd done her best to go unnoticed in her acts of service, had endeared her to him immediately. Of course, with a war going on and Neville being… well, not the best at navigating relationship dynamics, he'd simply admired her from afar, continuing to do so the year after the war and only working up the courage to pursue spending more time with her after she'd made it almost blatantly obvious that she'd very much like to be friends with him too. She possibly had wanted more even then, but even though Neville had gotten over a lot of his insecurities over the past few years, this was completely new territory for him, and he still had trouble wrapping his mind around the fact that someone as kind, generous, and warm as Hannah could ever be interested in someone as awkward, inept, and ordinary as him.
It had been Hannah in the end to make that final move past friendship and into something more. Neville could still remember the moment so clearly. He'd been helping her with things around the Leaky Cauldron, where she'd been working with her godfather up until that year. Tom had announced he'd be retiring, and Hannah had taken on her new role of running the inn with excitement and - though she only admitted this to Neville - a healthy dose of fear and worry that she wasn't actually up to the task. Neville had taken to doing whatever he could to not only reassure her, but also help out when he was off duty to get the place in shape. While she didn't want to change much, Hannah had taken advantage of being in charge by sprucing the place up a bit, getting new tables and chairs and hanging new drapes, even putting fresh coats of varnish on the wooden beams and refinishing the floors.
Neville had done what he could to help with all of these things, but he'd felt the most useful when he helped her redo the flower beds and the box planters on the windows. He'd always loved Herbology and imagined himself returning to it one day in the future, when being an Auror had run its course.
He'd been so excited about the day he'd agreed to help her with the planting. They'd spent the weekend before picking out what plants to use, and Neville had volunteered to pick everything up and meet her at the pub. When he'd shown up, she'd acted so decisively and with such determination, that he hadn't had any time to be nervous or second guess her intentions.
"Is it always going to take me buying them myself to get you to bring me flowers?" she'd asked, taking the box of Asphodel blooms from his hands and setting it on the table she'd prepared for them to work at. Neville stood there blinking rapidly in surprise as she turned back to face him, cupped his face in both her hands, and stood on her toes to press a light kiss to his lips. If he hadn't been able to feel how her hands were shaking or tell that her breathing was heavy with nerves, he would've thought it had been easy for her. But it had taken courage, and Neville couldn't help the smile that bloomed on his face as she sunk back down off her toes and watched him closely.
"I've been talking myself into doing that all morning," she said in a soft and shaky voice, "and I really hope I wasn't wrong to do so."
"No," Neville quickly assured her, his hands shaking as he slowly and tentatively placed them on her waist. "Best decision you've made all day."
A breath of relief escaped Hannah as she smiled at him. "Good, now I won't be distracted while we work."
"I will be," Neville assured her, still a bit flustered by what had just happened. Hannah laughed and wound her arms around his neck, and her lips were on his again a second later, her chest flush against his as he somehow found it in him to respond to her kiss and wind his arms around her waist.
It had been one of the best days of his life, and the last year had been wonderful. Every day, he did what he could to make sure she knew how grateful he was for her. How much it meant to him that she'd chosen to be with him. To love him, as she'd told him only a few months before. And, Merlin, did he love her too. He'd felt like saying it for ages, but his insecurities had kept it in until she'd said it first, and now he made sure to tell her every day.
He knew he wanted everything with Hannah, so why had he run?
Shaking himself from his musings about the past, Neville had started walking once again, and now found himself wandering aimlessly around Muggle London. Shame at his actions was washing over him as he mulled over what he was supposed to do next. How could he face her after acting so cowardly?
He'd been walking without much purpose, so he was surprised when he eventually ended up outside a familiar house.
Without stopping to question it, Neville walked up the front stoop and knocked on the door of number twelve, only having to wait a few moments before Hermione opened the door.
"Neville!" she said, a surprised smile on her face as she stepped back to let him in. She was still dressed in her work robes, reminding Neville that it was still a bit early in the evening.
"Sorry, hope I'm not interrupting," he said self consciously as he stepped inside.
"Not at all," Hermione assured him. She closed the door behind him before leading him down the hall. "We were just finishing up dinner. Have you eaten?"
Neville shook his head, realizing he was actually a bit hungry, having skipped out on his planned dinner with Hannah. He felt a pang of guilt as he followed Hermione down the stairs and into the kitchen.
"Hey, Nev!" Ron greeted cheerfully from his seat at the table. "Thought you had plans with Hannah tonight?"
Neville grimaced, nodding in hello to Harry as Ginny stood to hug him. "I did, yeah."
Ginny pulled back, her sharp senses easily picking up that something wasn't right as she looked at him closely. "Everything all right?" she asked.
Neville thought about brushing it all aside, saying everything was fine and that Hannah had needed to cancel. But his friends were all far too smart and knew him far too well to let him get away with that. Especially Ginny. And besides, he'd come here for a reason, even if it might not have been fully on purpose.
"Not exactly," he managed to choke out. Ginny guided him to the chair at the end of the table as Hermione placed a bowl of stew in front of him before resuming her seat beside Ron.
"What happened?" Hermione asked, her brow furrowed in concern as she rested a comforting hand on Neville's arm. He tried to think of a delicate way to say it, but there really was no use in beating around the bush, was there?
His eyes were focused unseeingly on the food in front of him, and his throat constricted as he prepared to utter the words that had changed his life less than an hour ago.
"Hannah's…" he finally managed to choke out, pausing to clear his throat before continuing. "Hannah's pregnant."
Silence filled the room, and Neville couldn't bring himself to look at any of his friends, his face growing hot and surely turning bright red. He nearly jumped in surprise when the sound of someone failing to hold in a laugh broke through the quiet. Neville looked up just in time to see Hermione scowl at Ron and smack him on the arm.
"What?" Ron asked defensively, an amused expression on his face.
"This is serious, Ron," Hermione argued.
"I know that," said Ron with a roll of his eyes. "It's just… it's Neville."
There was an awkward pause, and then Harry began shaking with repressed laughter as well, Ginny was doing her best to remain composed, and Ron was shaking his head and grinning at Neville, who found a timid smile creeping onto his own face.
"Gran's gonna kill me" he said, finding it in himself to remain composed. The shock and confusion and panic he was feeling needed an outlet, and laughing hysterically didn't seem like a wise choice. "And it's not funny."
"It is a little bit," Harry said with a shrug, this time earning an actual scowl from Ginny. "I mean, out of all of us, I wouldn't have guessed that you'd be the one-"
"To mess up a contraception charm and find myself in a complicated situation because of my inability to perform pretty simple magic?"
Any remaining laughter died off, the amusement leaving their faces as they looked at Neville, who was nearly seething in frustration and anger. Unnecessary aggression wasn't the best release either, but it was probably more productive than laughter.
"It's true, though," he snapped, cutting off whatever reassuring thing Hermione had been about to say. He pushed away his untouched stew and focused his gaze on his hands, clenching his fists on the table. "We wouldn't be in this mess if I could just be a decent wizard. I should've known better. Just because I helped out a bit during the war doesn't mean I'm all the sudden actually good at magic. I never really was before, barely scraping by in classes unless I was getting my hands dirty in Herbology. That was something I was good at, you know? I've only ever really succeeded at anything because I was physically doing it, which is a bit surprising as well. Like with the snake. Doesn't take any magic to use a sword."
Neville fell silent, self-loathing coursing through him as he leaned forward and buried his hands in his hair, a groan escaping him as he rested his elbows on the table.
"Well, you definitely succeeded physically this time too."
A snort of laughter escaped Neville at Ron's words, nearly drowning out the sound of Hermione admonishing her boyfriend.
"All that stuff about you being a shite wizard, you know that's not true, Nev," said Harry, ignoring his best friends. "No way in hell Kingsley or Robards would've let you become an Auror if you weren't a brilliant wizard."
Neville let out a disbelieving scoff. "Don't exactly measure up to you two though, do I?"
"No offense mate," Ron cut in, his voice light but a bit more appropriately sincere, "but not a lot of people do."
It got another snort of laughter out of him, and he smiled in amusement at the sound of Hermione smacking Ron on the arm once again. A bit harder this time, if the way Ron let out a hiss of pain was anything to go off of.
"Seriously, Neville," said Ginny, reaching out and placing a hand on his wrist. He dropped his hands to the table and sat up so he could look at the redhead. "You're brilliant. Don't let one mistake be how you measure yourself, all right? You've done so much to be proud of, including some very impressive magic."
Neville gave her what he hoped was a grateful smile, but was probably more like a grimace.
"Besides," said Harry, "it was in the heat of the moment, right? I know how easy it is to get distracted when you're-"
Harry shot an annoyed look at Ron, but his face was a bit flushed as he turned back to Neville. "Everyone at this table knows how easy it would be to get something like that wrong."
"I take it she's not on any potion?" Hermione asked diplomatically.
Neville shrugged, almost too embarrassed to admit the truth. "We hadn't really talked about it yet. Things kind of…" he paused, unsure how to say it without being more blunt than he ever had been on the topic. "It was our first time, all right? I hadn't been planning for it and neither had she, but she'd just told me she loved me for the first time and…"
He couldn't bring himself to go on, sure that his face was bright red as he looked at his friends' shocked expressions.
"You don't do things by half, do you, mate?"
This time, it was Neville's turn to scowl at Ron, and he was surprised to see Hermione working to contain a snigger as she halfheartedly swatted at her boyfriend's arm.
"Yeah, well, now I've got no bloody clue what to do," he grumbled, folding his arms and leaning back in his seat. "So can we drop the jokes for a bit and help me?"
"Of course," Harry said immediately.
"We're here for you mate," said Ron, Ginny and Hermione nodding in agreement.
"Do you know what Hannah wants to do?" asked Ginny. Neville let out a sigh, rubbing a hand over his face and muffling his next words.
"Er… I sort of ran off as soon as she told me."
This time, he was the one to receive a swat on the arm from Hermione. A rather hard one, too.
"Ow!" he said, looking at her with side eyes. "I panicked, okay? There's no way she's not keeping it, and no way I'd ever want her not to, but I'm not exactly the ideal candidate for fatherhood, am I?"
"Neville, if we're going to help you, you have to stop thinking so little of yourself," said Ginny, her words caring but making it clear he wasn't to argue with her. "What on earth makes you think you wouldn't be a good dad?"
Neville shrugged, avoiding their eyes. "I never really had one, did I? No one's ever really shown me how to do it."
Ginny didn't hesitate in reaching out to lay a comforting hand on Neville's arm. He met her empathetic eyes and gave her a slight smile, but shifted his gaze to Harry. He didn't want to ask the question. Not if it was something Harry wasn't comfortable talking about. Neville quirked his brow in silent question, and Harry gave a somber nod.
"Right there with you, mate."
Ron, Hermione, and Ginny all took a moment to look at Harry in surprise. It was clear this wasn't a topic that had come up before, but Neville was grateful when Harry didn't let this deter him.
"I still don't know what it means to be a dad, but I was terrified the first time I took care of Teddy," he admitted. "I had no clue what I was doing and was certain I'd screw it up, but then Molly reminded me of something that I've never forgotten. I know how to love, and that's the most important part. The rest, you figure out when you need to."
Neville gave a nervous gulp, the reality of what he'd have to face sinking in with Harry's words.
"And I'm not sure I've met anyone who's better at rising to the occasion," Harry continued. "And I know you'll do it again."
A deep sigh escaped Neville, Harry's words bringing more comfort than he'd anticipated. His eyes welled with tears at the overwhelming emotions he was processing. Could he really do this? Could he step up and be the man and the father that Hannah and… their child… needed?
"What about Hannah?" Hermione asked, and Neville looked at her questioningly.
"Well, like I said, she's going to want to have the baby…" he said uncertainly, unsure what Hermione was asking.
"I mean, I know you've been together for about a year now, but how serious is it?" she persisted.
"It's pretty bloody serious now, don't you think?"
"Will you stop being so insensitive?" Hermione snapped, turning to glare at Ron. "For two minutes at least?"
"It's not like someone's died, Hermione," Ron said in exasperation. "Anyone would think someone had if they walked in and saw the somber faces you lot are insisting on. Look-" he turned to Neville, "-you two love each other, right?"
Neville nodded, a bit taken aback by Ron's directness.
"And I'm pretty sure neither of you are the type to be with someone just for the hell of it, so marriage and kids and all that are at least things you've considered, yeah?"
Neville nodded once again. "We've never really talked about when," he admitted, "I mean, we're only twenty, but, yeah, going into things, we both made sure we were on the same page as far as where things were potentially heading."
Ron grinned at him. "So things are happening sooner than you'd planned, but does it change how you feel about Hannah? What you want with her?"
Neville didn't even have to think that hard to come up with his answer. "No, it doesn't change a thing."
He felt a smile bursting across his face as Ron and Harry smiled back. Ginny was looking at her brother with a dropped jaw, and Hermione was staring at Ron with a sickeningly sweet look on her face. But Neville didn't care about any of that. All he cared about was the fact that he'd left the woman he loved - the woman carrying his child - standing out in the cold.
They all jerked in surprise when he abruptly stood from the table. He gulped nervously, glancing at each of them before a sense of resolve settled over him. "Thanks, guys."
"Anytime, mate," Harry said with a grin, and Neville didn't wait around any longer, hurrying from the kitchen with the sound of the others wishing him good luck echoing behind him. He made his way up to the second landing, grabbed some powder off the mantle, and quickly Flooed to the Leaky Cauldron.
It was quite crowded, which was typical of a Friday night. A few regular patrons greeted Neville cheerfully when they saw him, and he gave them quick waves before asking if any of them had seen Hannah. They all pointed towards the stairs that led to the flat above the kitchen, one of them saying she'd hurried up there without a word to anyone over an hour ago.
Had it really been that long?
Barely pausing to thank them, Neville made his way towards the stairs, taking them two at a time in his hurry. He knocked quickly on the door, the sound of the pub downstairs now distant and giving him room to formulate his thoughts more clearly. When she didn't answer, he knocked again, doing his best not to panic as he hesitantly called out her name. After another minute of no response, he took out his wand and unlocked the door, using the charm she'd shown him to allow him access. Nevillle felt a bit guilty for using it now when she clearly didn't want to see him. But he had to see her. He had to apologize.
"Hannah?" he asked softly, slowly poking his head in the door and searching for her. His heart clenched in his chest when the excruciating sound of her sobs reached his ears, and he fully entered the room, making his way towards her bedroom. Her door was open, and he paused in the doorway, taking in the sight of her sitting on her bed, her arms wrapped around her knees, her face streaked with tears, blonde hair haphazardly pulled back, and her eyes red and puffy. Neville let himself feel all the guilt he knew he absolutely should feel for how he'd behaved.
She'd always been so brave. One of the bravest people he'd ever known. She'd taken charge of her own life after the death of her parents. She'd taken on the responsibility of running the inn at the age of nineteen. She'd even been the one to make the first move in their relationship on multiple occasions. She'd pursued his friendship, kissed him, told him she loved him. And how had he returned the favor? By running out on her the second she needed him to step up?
He wasn't making that mistake again.
"Hannah?" he said tentatively, trying to make his regret and care for her obvious in his voice. She somehow managed to sob louder, and Neville's heart nearly broke at the sound.
"Han, I'm so sorry," he said, his own voice choked with emotion as he took a few more steps into the room. "I shouldn't've run away."
She sniffed loudly, controlling her sobs for a moment and wiping at her face, not even glancing his way. "No," she choked out. "You shouldn't've."
"Please," he said, daring to move close enough so he could sit on the end of the bed. She was sitting with her back to the headboard, so there was still a bit of distance between them. "Please forgive me. I was such an idiot and it was a cowardly thing to do, which isn't that surprising. Me, acting cowardly."
Hannah's head jerked up and her eyes bored into his at his self-deprecating comment. She absently wiped at her face as she held his gaze. "Is that what you think? That you're a coward?"
Neville shrugged, looking down at her sock covered feet. "Not really," he admitted. "I used to, though. Still trying to break the habit, I guess."
He saw her feet move further away, and looked up to see her resting her chin on her knees, looking at him with a slight frown as her eyes continued to glisten with tears. She sat there silently, and Neville let her, not wanting to press his luck and wanting to give her the time she needed to forgive him.
"Is that also why you…"
She trailed off as her voice began to shake, and he ached to see a tear escape down her cheek.
"I suppose part of it was because I didn't think I could be what you needed me to be," he said. "Still don't, really, but not because I don't want to be. It's more because… I have a hard time believing I'm actually capable of anything."
"But you've done so much to be proud of," Hannah said fiercely, her posture straightening as she defended him. "And even if you hadn't, I'd still be proud of you."
Neville looked at her hopefully. "Really?"
She nodded. "Who you are as a person, Neville… you're so kind and loyal and generous. You're the best person I know."
A strange sense of pride erupted inside of Neville. Hannah Abbott, the most amazing witch he'd ever met, really saw him that way?
"If I'm any of those things, it's because of you," he told her. "I think, more than anything, it's you that makes me brave. Which might be hard to believe, seeing as I haven't exactly been brave when it comes to you."
Hannah shook her head, her blonde hair starting to slip loose from its tie as she wiped at the remaining tears on her face. "Don't-"
"It's true," he insisted. Hannah let out a sigh and stretched her legs out in front of her, folding her arms across her chest and pursing her lips in displeasure, but it didn't deter him. "You've done so much to show me how much I mean to you, and maybe I've reciprocated, but I know that's not enough. Not when it comes to the big moments. Hell, even the little ones."
Her expression relaxed a bit. "You're pretty good at the little ones," she admitted. "I haven't had to buy my own flowers in ages."
A relieved smile found its way to his face, and he reached out to gently lay his hand on the top of her foot. She was looking at him with a much more tender expression now, and Neville stole himself for what he was going to say next, giving her foot a gentle squeeze to reassure both of them.
"I really love you, Hannah," he began. "And maybe it terrifies me a bit that all this is happening faster than I'd anticipated, but that doesn't change the fact that I've known for a while now that I want this with you. I want to marry you and have kids with you and grow old together, and I can't believe I almost screwed that up by letting my fears get the best of me. I have no bloody clue what I'm doing and I have no idea how to be a dad, but I do know that you're the only person I want to figure all of this out with. I want you, I want our life, I want our family, and I don't want you to ever doubt that."
A breath of relief left Neville. He'd actually managed to get it all out. And he'd meant every word. Hannah was looking at him with wide eyes and parted lips, her arms lying loosley in her lap as she stared and processed his words.
"Did you…" she began in a hoarse voice. "Did you just… propose to me?"
Neville blinked in surprise. Had he? Thinking back over his words, he could easily brush it off and say he was talking about the future, not the present. But then, part of what he said was happening in the present, and he was shocked to find that the idea of all of it happening now didn't scared him. It did quite the opposite.
"Yeah," he said as he smiled at her, a sense of peace coming over him. "I want to marry you, Hannah Abbott. Do you want to marry me?"
Hannah stared at him in shock, her dropped jaw slowly morphing into an open mouthed grin. Neville almost panicked when her eyes filled with tears, but he didn't have long to feel that way, because she was sobbing out a yes and frantically crawling towards him across the bed a moment later. He barely had time to prepare himself before she'd crawled into his lap, wound her arms tightly around his neck, and continued to sob into his shoulder. With a sigh of relief, Neville wrapped his arms around her waist, holding her to him and thanking Merlin that he hadn't managed to ruin the best thing that had ever happened to him
"I love you so much," he said again, kissing the side of her head before she pulled back. Hannah gave him a watery smile before tenderly caressing his lips with her own, pulling back between kisses to whisper that she loved him too. It was some time before they finally broke apart, breathing heavily as Neville refused to let her go and she rested her forehead against his.
"Are you sure?" she asked, disbelief obvious in her voice. "I mean… you're not just saying all this because… because I'm pregnant?"
Neville was shaking his head before she'd even finished asking the question. "No," he assured her. "I mean, that might have something to do with the timing," he admitted, "but I've known for a while now just how much I want everything with you. I'm scared shitless, but I know I want this. I want our family. I want you."
Hannah gave him a brilliant smile, her fears seeming to fall away, but returning again a moment later.
"I'm scared too," she whispered. "To be a mum."
Neville breathed in deeply, letting out a long sigh and remaining calm. He still wasn't used to that part, and he wasn't sure when he would be. "You'll be amazing," he assured her, shakily pulling his hands around from her back to rest gently on her stomach, "but we can be scared together."
Hannah nodded, smiling adoringly at Neville. And he pulled her closer to him once again, knowing that he was holding the most precious thing he'd ever been able to call his own.