Neville looked back at the castle. He was just finishing up Care of Magical Creatures, and Luna should be in the middle of her Ancient Runes O.W.L. He really wanted her to do well.
Their fight, which turned into a long discussion, a few days ago kept running through his mind. Luna was so sure that Neville was meant to become a powerful wizard, but he just didn't see it. He was willing to admit that he started studying just a little longer than normal since them.
Class was being dismissed when Hagrid called him over. Hoping he wasn't in trouble, he walked towards him.
"I need ya to see something," Hagrid said. "Follow me."
Neville followed him towards Hagrid's cabin. "Come on in," Hagrid said cheerfully. "I think I found something of yours."
Neville entered the small cabin. There was a soft noise, like someone muttering softly to themselves. "Is someone in here?" Neville asked.
Hagrid shook his head firmly. "No, no. Of course not. What makes ya think that?" he said guiltily.
"It sounds like someone's talking," Neville said, taking a few steps towards the voice.
"I'm sure its nuttin', Neville," Hagrid said. "Now look what I got 'ere." Hagrid held out a small cage.
"Trevor!" Neville said happily. "Where'd you find him?"
"Over by the lagoon. Seemed to be enjoyin' 'imself there," Hagrid said, smiling.
"I must have forgotten to close the door to his cage," Neville muttered to himself. He took the cage from Hagrid. "Thank you so much. I was really worried about him."
"Not a problem, Neville. I'm just glad…"CRUNCH
Neville put down the cage and felt his pocket. His wand wasn't there. He looked down and groaned. A large rodent was chomping on his wand happily.
"Idiot of a wanker man. I need to use the bloody loo. What the 'ell are you looking at," the small rodent said quickly.
"I knew I heard something talk!" Neville exclaimed. "It's ruined my wand!"
"Jacob didn't mean it. He's used to being underground, Neville. 'E doesn't like being here," Hagrid said, looking at the small rodent fondly. He picked up the Jarvey that was still eating happily and placed him in a small cage. "Sorry about 'is language. He only talks in crude phrases."
Neville sighed. "I have final exams and now I don't have a wand!" Neville complained.
"Jacob doesn't know any better, Neville. We'll get you a school wand. You'd never know the difference," Hagrid said quickly.
Neville slumped his shoulders. He knew that getting angry wouldn't bring his wand back. Neville cast a dirty look in the direction of the cage and went back to the castle.
Two days later, there was an unwelcome surprise in Potions class. Professor Snape was back. Neville looked him over carefully, trying to see if he had been injured, like their theory. Professor Snape looked weak, but that was all.
Maybe something was wrong, because he certainly didn't hover over all the students like he normally did. Half way through the class, Neville could hear a soft popping noise come from Professor Snape's wand. Neville looked up, and watched him drink a vial of potion.
He glanced over at Hermione, whose eyes had grown wide. "What is it?" Neville whispered.
"I'll tell you after class," Hermione said softly back.
"Is it too much to ask that you prepare your potions in silence?" Professor Snape barked. "Ten points from Gryffindor." The entire Gryffindor side of the classroom groaned.
Luckily, the rest of the class went quickly. Neville followed Harry, Ron and Hermione out into the courtyard. Neville glanced towards the direction of the Great Hall. Luna should be in her practical exam for Charms about now.
"Did you see the potion that Snape was drinking?" Hermione asked, settling herself down on the ground. The rest of the boys also sat down. Neville took out his Transfiguration textbook to start some homework.
"He looked pretty bad, didn't he?" Harry said.
Hermione nodded. "That's a really rare potion he was drinking," she told the group. "It's only used when someone's been hit by Cadonoceo."
"How in the world would you know that?" Ron asked, both eyebrows raised.
"Ronald, I had to drink the same potion a year ago. That's what Dolohov hit me with," Hermione explained with a pained look on her face.
The group was silent for a moment, remembering the battle last year. In fact, it would be exactly one year tomorrow when it took place.
"If Snape was hit with that, he was definitely in the Battle at the Ministry," Neville said.
Hermione nodded. "Snape was gone for almost a month. I was only out for two weeks. He must have been hit hard," Hermione said softly. "I feel sorry for him. I remember how painful it was for me, and that's without the incantation."
"I wonder where he was?" Harry asked suddenly. "He couldn't have gone to St. Mungos. There'd be too much publicity there. Headquarters doesn't have any medical facility."
"Didn't a Hufflepuff say she saw Snape in the hospital wing?" Ron asked.
"Yeah, but no one believed her," Harry said.
"But that's the only explanation," Hermione said thoughtfully. "He must have been here the entire time."
Just then, Luna appeared from nowhere and launched herself on Neville's lap. "Only two more days," she said, putting her arms around his neck.
"Are they going well?" Hermione asked.
Luna nodded. "I'm almost positive I haven't failed any of them yet," she said laughing.
Neville saw Harry look from Ron and Hermione to Neville and Luna. "Why am I the one without a girlfriend?" he asked suddenly.
It took Neville a moment to figure out if Harry was being serious or joking. Finally Neville decided that he was being serious. He tried to think of something to say, but no good answer came to mind.
But it didn't matter, because Luna answered. "I think you intimidate girls," she said matter-of-factly.
"Me?" Harry asked while he pushed his glasses up off of his nose. "I can't even intimidate myself."
Ginny joined the group just then. "Who's intimidating?" she asked.
Luna pointed at Harry. "Harry is," she said simply.
"I don't think you're intimidating," Ginny said after a moment.
"I think most girls do though," Luna said. "You are the Boy Who Lived, after all. Not many women can compete with that."
"Thanks Luna," Harry muttered under his breath.
Neville caught a glimpse at Ginny's face and realized that if she had anything to say about, Harry wouldn't be with out girlfriend for long.
The next day, Neville and Luna were finishing dinner at the Ravenclaw table. Harry slid in next to Luna. There was a pained look on his face.
"We're having a sort of memorial for my godfather," Harry said quickly. "It was a year today. Would you both come?"
"Of course," Luna said softly, giving Harry a smile. Neville and Luna stood up quickly and followed Harry. Ron, Hermione and Ginny joined them. They walked out towards the Whomping Willow, but not too close to get hurt.
Neville was surprised to see Professor Dumbledore waiting for them. There was a very small bon-fire burning.
For at least five minutes, no one spoke. Neville and Luna held hands. He thought back to that horrible night. His dreams had changed so much over the past year. At first, every dream was of that night. Then his parents entered his dreams. And now, now when he remembered his dreams, he dreamed of Luna. Of the life he would like to share with her some day.
"Harry, would you like to say something?" Professor Dumbledore asked gently.
Harry nodded. "I miss you Sirius. It's been a bloody year, and I keep thinking that you should be alive. I keep waiting for an owl from you. At first I blamed myself. That it was entirely my fault that you were killed. Now I know it wasn't. That there are forces much larger than just me that caused your death."
Harry's voice faltered a bit. Hermione put her arm around him, and Ginny took his other hand. Harry continued to stare at the bon fire. "Just know that I am doing everything I can. I'm practicing, and I won't ever let him put another vision in my head. No one else will die because I haven't done absolutely everything possible to stop him."
He took a small mirror out of his robe. Harry then took the mirror and threw it into the bon-fire. A large flame leaped up, but then died down. Neville could see tears running down Harry's face.
The group continued staring at the fire while it died down. Finally, they all slowly made their way back to the castle.
Neville and Luna survived her O.W.L.S. without another major incident. Neville was disappointed with his own tests. Though he realized that he was using a school wand, and that the tests sixth year don't count for much. He promised himself that he would work harder next year.
He couldn't quite believe that it was already time for the end-of-term feast.
"Neville," Luna said softly, "Please don't miss the feast on my account."
"This happens every year?" Neville asked sadly.
Luna nodded her head. "My roommates take things, and hand them around. It's not a big deal."
"It is a big deal!" Neville exclaimed. "Why would they just take your things?"
Luna shrugged. "They have an odd sense of humor. I'm not sure why they think it's funny," she said, as she put her hand in his. "Don't worry. My possessions always show up in the end."
"Are you sure?" Neville asked.
Luna kissed him on the cheek. "Yes. Don't make me feel bad by skipping the feast."
Neville took one more moment to decide. "Okay. As long as you're sure…"
Luna laughed, and pushed him away from her. "I'm sure! Go enjoy the feast!"
He gave her a grin and headed towards the Great Hall. He could already hear the students making a great deal of noise. Quickly, he found Harry and Ron, who were surrounded by the rest of the Gryffindor sixth years.
Neville peeked a look at the banners and allowed himself a grin. Gryffindor had won the House Cup yet again. He wished he could have contributed more. Neville had lost a total of eighty-three points for Gryffindor this year. He was quite pleased with the total though. His first year, he had lost one hundred and sixty-seven points.
But he also had won ten points his first year. Ten beautiful points that allowed Gryffindor to win the House Cup. Neville had not won a single point for Gryffindor since. He thought for a moment and decided that that would change next year. He would do everything he could to win some points for Gryffindor.
Dinner was delicious and he was thoroughly enjoying his Butter Pecan Pie when Professor Dumbledore stood up.
"I have a few announcements to make," the Headmaster said. "I received a petition three days ago with every single female student's signature on it. The petition was to change the school uniform so that female students would be allowed the choice of a skirt or pants. After some consideration, I have decided that the change shall be allowed. Starting tomorrow, Madam Malkins' Robes for All Occasions will carry trousers for you female students."
At that, all the girl students started cheering and clapping loudly. Neville chuckled to himself. A lot of the boys had grumpy looks on their faces. Remembering the article she wrote for the Quibbler over the summer, he wondered if Luna put the petition together. She had never mentioned it to him.
"Another year over," Professor Dumbledore said quietly, yet loud enough so that everyone could hear him. "This has been a difficult year, I'm afraid. Lives have been lost in our war between good and evil. You are all young, yet old enough to have opinions, to take a stand on very important issues."
Professor Dumbledore cast a long look over at the Slytherin table. "I urge each and every one of you to make wise choices. I cannot force any of you to do anything. All I can do is try to open your mind. Do not close your mind to the side of light."
Harry gave Neville a nudge in the ribs. "Look at the Slytherins," he whispered.
Neville glanced over at the Slytherin table. Draco's gang, which now seemed to be led by Theodore Nott, all wore a smug expression on their faces.
"Slimy gits," Ron muttered.
"Ron," Hermione chastised.
"Sorry love," Ron said sheepishly. "But look at them. We all know who they support and they don't care about showing it."
"Just ignore them," Hermione advised.
"Easier said than done, Hermione," Harry said softly.
The good mood Neville was in faded away a bit. Slowly, the students all drifted out of the Great Hall to do some last minute packing. Instead of heading towards the Gryffindor Common Room, Neville ran to the Greenhouse.
"I'm sorry I'm late," he told his Mimbulus Mimbletonia plant. The plant had grown so large this year that Neville had to leave it at school for the summer. It simply wouldn't fit in his room.
The plant cooed softly and Neville went to work, watering and trimming some leaves. As he worked, Neville told the plant about his day.
Neville went towards the door to grab a new pair of gloves, and then stopped suddenly. Luna was standing at the door.
"How long have you been there?" Neville asked. "I didn't hear you come in."
Luna smiled slowly. "I can be quiet when I want to be," she said, walking over to him. "I was watching you work. I like watching you work in here."
"Why?" Neville asked curiously.
"Because you're so confident in here," Luna said simply. "I wish I could bottle it up for you, so you could be that confident all the time."
Neville laughed. "I have a project with Professor Snape, why don't you start one?"
"How's it going?" Luna said, suddenly looking very serious.
"The research?" Neville asked. Luna nodded her head, her eyes wide.
"Well, Professor Snape was out for a month, so that wasn't good. I'm hoping that he can work on it over the summer. And then we'll work again when I get back," Neville said truthfully. "Why? I thought you didn't really like the idea of me working on a cure."
Luna sat down on the ground and hugged her knees to her chest. "I don't know. I've started thinking about how nice it might be not to need any treatments," she said softly.
Neville lowered himself to the ground and put his arm around her.
"I hear people talk about what they want to do when they're older. I never minded before. I never minded knowing that I was only going to be on earth for another ten or fifteen years. But…"
"But what?" Neville asked gently.
"But now I do," she said simply. "Now I want to be around for a long time."
"I want you to be here, too," Neville whispered into her hair.
Neville and Luna decided to start the journey back to King's Cross Station in their own compartment. They would join their friends later.
"Three weeks till Africa," Luna said excitedly.
"I still can't believe Gran is letting me go," Neville said. "I didn't think she would even consider it."
"I think the letter from Daddy helped," Luna told him. Neville nodded. Luna's father wrote Neville's gran and told her what a wonderful educational experience it would be. Neville's grandmother couldn't say yes fast enough.
Luna suddenly had a quick smile on her face. "One last snog?" she asked.
"Luna!" Neville said, mouth open. "Anyone could pass by and see us!"
"So?" Luna said, giggling. She kissed him on the lips, and Neville responded. They kissed slowly. Luna needed a treatment in two weeks and was fairly weak.
A while later, there was a knock on the window. Neville looked up guiltily and saw the Auror who was a metamorph wagging her finger at them. Neville mouthed "sorry" and moved across from Luna.
Luna laughed. "Let's go find everyone else then," she said, taking Neville by the hand.
They walked down the corridor hand in hand. Finally they found their friend's compartment. They let themselves in quietly. Ron, Harry and Ginny were in the middle of a game of exploding snaps.
"You just missed Crabbe and Goyle," Hermione said conversationally. "I think you would have enjoyed it. The slugs from last year are nothing compared to this."
Neville knew he had to take a look. "Where are they?" he asked quickly.
Hermione jerked her head back. "Next compartment over."
Neville stood up and ran to the next compartment. Crabbe and Goyle were little more than large, fuzzy balls of fur. "Nice work," Neville muttered under his breath.
The rest of the train ride was quite enjoyable, but Neville didn't feel like talking much. He kept thinking back to the train ride home last year and how different it was.
Last year, he sat with Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny. He knew they had a great deal of secrets. And that they wanted to talk about things and couldn't because Neville was there. Neville sighed happily. Now, now he was included in these talks. Neville felt like he was almost part of their gang.
He had friends. He had real friends that talked to him, told him things and trusted him to keep secrets. More importantly, he had Luna. And he was happier than he thought ever could be possible.
At the beginning of last year, being this happy would have bothered him. The old Neville would keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. The new Neville let himself be happy. Being happy didn't worry him anymore.
Well, at least not too much.