Author: Jedi Buttercup
Category: B:tVS/A:tS, Harry Potter
Summary: Neville acquires a new guardian. 750 words.
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.
Spoilers: Post-"Not Fade Away" and "Half Blood Prince"
Feedback: It's the coin of the realm.
Notes: This is my third entry in the twistedshorts August Fic-A-Day event; also, an answer to TtH #639.
In the aftermath of the Wizarding world's second war against Voldemort, very few pureblooded families of any allegiance were left intact. Those loyal to the Order of the Phoenix had been decimated in a series of targeted Death Eater raids, and the Death Eaters themselves had not survived the final battle. The sacrifice of the last of the horcruxes, and the death of the Dark Lord himself, had had an unexpected effect on those bearing the Dark Mark: to a man they had collapsed in agony, dying slowly as every ounce of magical energy drained from their bodies and followed their leader's fragmented soul into the void.
There was very little in the way of celebration afterward. Perhaps if there had been a triumphant, surviving hero-- but the savior of the first war had been a necessary casualty of the second, and the man who'd enabled him to track Voldemort down and put an end to it all had been caught up in the backwash of the Morsmordre like any other Death Eater. (Not that they'd have praised him anyway, with the death of Hogwarts' greatest Headmaster on his record). The survivors had gathered around Minerva McGonagall in the absence of any other figurehead, and the stern Scotswoman was more concerned with restructuring than laughter and cheer.
It was in the name of restructuring that Neville Longbottom found himself in the Headmistress' office six weeks shy of his eighteenth birthday. He was already technically of age, but Hogwarts rules required all students to have a permanent guardian of record while attending the institution, and he still (unlike many of his surviving classmates) intended to return for his N.E.W.T.s when the school finally opened again that fall. He was not the only one in like situation, but his grandmother's will had made his arrangements a little more complicated than most: she'd left everything to a mysterious Longbottom great-great-uncle by the name of William with a birthdate somewhere in the ballpark of Dumbledore's. McGonagall had never heard of him, nor had any of the Order's other remaining members; they'd finally tracked him down though Hogwarts records, which showed he'd attended and graduated as a Hufflepuff of mediocre standing in the 1870's. It had come as a surprise to everyone when the post-owl sent to notify the old man of Neville's needs had actually flown away, indicating that he was still among the living.
The return owl had been terse and to the point, requesting a meeting at the school at two o'clock on June 15th. Neville had arrived three hours early, vibrating with nerves, and had spent most of that waiting period in the Room of Requirement practicing his repertoire of hexes to burn the energy off. He didn't want to be worried about what this elderly, unknown relative might think of him, about whether his (lack of) Potions expertise would be scoffed at and whether the man would turn up his nose at his Herbology talent, but he'd found he couldn't help it; this William, whoever he was, was the only Longbottom left other than Neville and he'd been raised to believe in the importance of family.
The fire flared green right on schedule, and Neville tensed as the flames leapt up and a figure came through. What would he be like? Grandfatherly or strict? Arthritic and age-bent, or still spry and energetic? He didn't know what to expect...
...but whatever he'd been anticipating, the man who arrived certainly wasn't it. Neville's jaw dropped as he stared, drinking in the visitor's appearance. He couldn't be over a hundred and forty years old! He looked thirty, if that, with short platinum-bleached hair showing dark, curly roots and a lean frame clad in some kind of Mugglewear. He had blue, piercing eyes and a scar through one eyebrow, and the expression on his face was somewhere between irritated and amused. Maybe it wasn't him?
The visitor nixed that idea almost immediately. "So," he said, staring back at Neville. "You must be m'nephew."
"You're William Longbottom?" McGonagall exclaimed, saving Neville from asking the question.
The man snorted at the name, darting a disapproving glance in her direction. "Haven't answered to that name in a very long time, luv, and don't intend to start now. Call me Spike."
Spike! Neville mouthed the name in disbelief. So much for expecting a routine (if subdued) year of school now that Voldemort was gone. Somehow, he had the feeling that things would only get more chaotic from here.