Chapter 23

Neville continued to pull Harry along by his reins even after he had changed back into human form, which he needed to do to enter the place he was leading them to, his private greenhouse.

Although it was the same size as the student greenhouses on the outside, it was easily 500 hectares on the inside. It was filled with thousands of species of plants and fungi, both magical and muggle; rare and common; dangerous and placid; poisonous and healing.

Harry could easily see Neville spending hours if not days in there, researching or relaxing, and he could see it being a very special, private place for his ex. He couldn't help feeling like he was intruding.

Once they were inside, Neville returned to his horse form and pulled Harry gently into a trot then a canter. Harry didn't stop him but he didn't make it easy either pulling or putting trees between them so that Neville had to dodge to avoid them and not drop the reins.

They hadn't gone far before they came to a small clearing where Neville fell back and pulled until Harry grudgingly stopped. Neville dropped the reins and changed again. He cautiously approached Harry, as any person should a horse, especially a tired, irritable one in a bad mood, but although Harry went for his fingers once he allowed Neville to pat his nose, then he reached behind his ears to unbuckle the bridle and pulled it off his face.

Still jumpy and unsure Neville ran, or rather stumbled back a few metres when Harry moved off to the small stream that ran throughout the greenhouse. He spent the next few minutes drinking a large quantity of water to try and remove the taste of the last few days meals, and that of the horse who wear the bridle before him, from his mouth. He had contemplated collapsing in the water for an impromptu bath in what was no doubt completely sterile and controlled water source but decided the risk of sickness from the freezing water was too high. So once he had removed the foul taste he moved back towards Neville then past him to the other side of the clearing where he lay down and turned his head away from Neville.

There would be little point in running, which was what he wanted to do, one because he would just get lost; two, he couldn't get out even if he found the exit; and third, Neville would just try to do this again another time. However despite his decision to stay, it didn't mean he had to listen or talk to Neville, and staying in his animagus form made that obvious.

"Harry," Neville said tentatively after a long silence.

When Harry didn't respond or change he continued anyway.

"You don't have to talk to me but could you at least listen?"

Harry still remained silent, but he must have taken the silence as a yes because he continued anyway.

"Fine you don't have to talk to me but could you at least listen?"

He must have taken the silence as a yes because he continued. Harry assured himself that he would leave if this went in a direction be didn't like.

"I want you to know why I did what I did. I know I hurt you and I don't deserve it but I want you to understand why." He took a deep breath and continued, "what I said in the great hall was true, I was scared but I know that is no excuse, if things had been different I would have love that we were going to have a daughter but," he paused before continuing, "I never told you but a few months before Christmas I started to receive anonymous letters. The first few I ignored, I thought they were from the Slytherins, trying to scare me as they always did. I kept it to myself, you had enough to worry about, and you didn't need my problems as well and the letters said not to tell."

As he talked Neville wandered around the clearing, looking at and tending to the plants, he had produced a pair of secateurs, magically or from a pocket Harry wasn't sure, and was pruning off any dead branches he found. Harry continued to listen but he still had his back turned to Neville and his head turned away but he had turned his ears in Neville's direction so he could hear properly.

"At first the letters simply said, 'leave him,' like I said I didn't tell anyone, and I ignored them; but later they contained threats. To start with they were only against me, they were easy to ignore; then against you, but you had proved time and time again that you could protect yourself, and by that point I was sure that it was Death Eaters not the Slytherins, and they would come after you regardless.

"Finally, just before Christmas, the threats turned to my Gran and the letters turned to photos, of us in class or at intermit moments, and of Gran, at home or shopping in Diagon Alley. She was my last link to my parent, she raised me and although she could be harsh and she scared me sometimes, I loved her. She couldn't protect herself if Death Eaters attacked her." Neville paused again and took a deep breath before continuing.

"So I prepared to do what they demanded. It was so hard, I loved you so much, I wanted to be with you, and I didn't want to hurt you. When you asked to meet, and said you had something important to tell me, I knew I had to tell you then.

"When you told me you were pregnant I panicked, so I just told you straight out. I had planned to let you down gently, maybe take you to dinner, tell you it just wasn't working, but when the time came it was easier not to. I hated myself for what I did, I still do, and I hate that my actions have caused you so much pain and suffering, that you're dying because of my actions."

Harry had turned towards him now, not that Neville had noticed, he was staring at, but not seeing, a bush which he had just pruned to the point that it would never grow back, not that it was a plant that would survive pruning anyway, but Neville hadn't noticed. Harry could hear in his voice that he was cry, he could see him trembling.

"I know now that I should have told you then, hell I should have told you the moment I got that first note, but it took Gran's death to make me realise that. It was last month, she died in her sleep, at home, like she wanted," he gave a small snot, which came out as more of a sob before continuing, "she had spent the evening complaining about my forgetting to give her my latest test results for Transfiguration, she got a bit dotty in her old age, never could remember that I finished school over a decade ago," he smiled fondly. He startled slightly when something large but soft bumped between his shoulder blades, he spun around, his earlier caution gone, and through his arms around Harry's large neck.

"I'm so sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he continued to repeat the phrase even as he collapsed on the floor sobbing. Harry followed him down, careful not to land on him, and allowed Neville to bury his face in his fur.

It took awhile but Neville eventually calmed and released his grip on Harry, his embarrassment obvious. In another situation the look on his face would have been adorable to Harry, the tear tracks down his face were had allowed small bits of malted horse hair to attach to face; he tried to wipe away the tears leaving even more hair and spreading it further. Neville seemed oblivious to this except for the hair covering his hands which he tried to pick or wipe off onto his trousers.

"I'm sorry," he said again, "I didn't mean to cry all over you," he stood up and moved back a step to allow Harry room to stand, which he did. "The door will open for you if you wish to leave, and the password to the Gryffindor common room is 'fire bird' if you wish to go and see Elisabeth." With that Neville backed away with a final apology before disappearing into the undergrowth, out of sight.

A/N Yes I am still here, and I haven't given up yet I just couldn't get started, but I was at a Deaf Drag show the other night and I got a huge amount of inspiration, which disappeared as soon as I left but I typed what I had up tonight and got it finished so here it is. Hope its ok.