Just Don't Let Go
She was a student.
She was his student.
Therefore, there would be no relationship.
Neville Longbottom let his head fall onto his desk. This was so ridiculously unfair. Why hadn't he noticed her before he became her teacher? Well, he had, but he'd never done anything about it. If he had back then, maybe he wouldn't be in this situation now.
He hit his head against the desktop several times. "So-" hit "-not-" hit "-fair." He lifted his head and sighed, feeling utterly miserable. And to top it off, she was leaving school today. Meaning he'd never see her again. Meaning she'd never know how he felt. He wanted to hit his head again.
He rose from his desk as the clock in his chambers struck six. The Leaving Feast for the current seventh years was in five minutes, and if he was late, he was sure McGonagall would transform his arse into something very unpleasant.
He pulled his nicest set of black dress robes out of the closet and pulled them on over the faded Muggle jeans and worn t-shirt he was sporting. He took one last look in the mirror, realizing his attempts to flatten his hair were futile, sighed heavily and hit his head against the wall one more time. Ouch…
He walked down the corridor, his hands in his pockets. Chances were, this was the last time he'd ever see her. She was leaving school today, meaning there was nothing he could do except tell her how he felt, and that was out of the question. There was no way she'd ever return his feelings.
It all started at the end of his sixth year and continued all through his seventh. He'd gotten closer to Harry, Hermione, and Ron, but after they left school to find the Horcruxes, he was left with Ginny and Luna.
Ginny spent her time putting on a brave face, but everyone knew she was suffering. The day they came back, she punched Harry so hard he lost one of his front teeth. After Madame Pomfrey healed him, they had snogged like there was no tomorrow, and all was forgiven. Luna on the other hand, had spent her days with him. By the lake, in the greenhouse, it didn't matter where he went, she followed. And the strange thing was, he didn't mind her company. She wasn't as loony as everyone believed, she was just different. Much to his surprise, he found her differences rather refreshing. It was the beginning of the deep, downward spiral of love.
Once he reached the Great Hall, his stomach fell. He pushed through the doors, almost blown away by the noise level. Only the seventh years were around, but the noise they made was ten times louder than all seven years made together. Neville walked around the edge of the room to the staff table, being sure not to bump into anyone. Just because he was in a foul mood didn't mean he wanted everyone to be in one.
He slipped into his designated chair, which happened to be next to Harry. Harry wasn't anywhere to be found. He's probably too wrapped up in Ginny to notice there was a feast going on without them. Even though student/teacher relations were 'frowned upon', Ginny was of age and as long as she was treated the same as every other student, McGonagall allowed her relationship with Harry to continue even though he was technically her teacher. Harry wasn't going to propose to her while she was still his student, but Neville knew they had talked about it. He had no doubt she would be the future Mrs. Harry Potter some time tonight.
Neville, Harry, Ron and Hermione had all found jobs at the school after their final year (well, his final year at least. When they came back from their Horcrux hunting, they found their jobs) at McGonagall's request. Before coming back to teach, however, Ron and Hermione had gotten married. Neville looked down the table at them. Hermione was glowing, she had made the announcement that they were expecting a few weeks ago, and Ron had a protective arm around her. Neville was happy for them, he really was, but there was that one part that he wanted and they already had.
He looked away from them and began to scan the crowd. Ginny was running through the people, her red hair the giveaway. Harry was chasing after her at a more leisurely pace, but they were both grinning like crazy. Neville recognized a group of students from his fourth period class; they were Hufflepuffs. A few Gryffindors passed by before his gaze finally landed on the person he was looking for.
She was standing next to the doorway in a set of bright green and neon pink dress robes. Her hair was down and loose around her shoulders, but he could see the tip of her wand peeking out from the mess of dirty blonde locks. Her wide silver blue eyes were scanning the room frantically, but when she looked in his direction, she slumped against the wall and smiled dreamily.
He could have sworn she was looking at him; he could feel her eyes practically boring holes into his forehead, but as quickly as her gaze focused on him, it left as she turned and walked out the door.
Neville sat up, panicked. She wasn't staying? The only reason he came down was to see her one last time. He muttered an excuse to whoever may have been watching him as he rose and quickly stepped off the platform and hurried away from the teachers' table. He was forced to wade through the masses of students, bumping into several people, but they were too ecstatic to notice. He finally reached the doors, and after pushing them open, he sprinted out of the castle.
He knew where she was.
Every night since the final battle, she would slip outside after dinner. He'd never followed her, but he watched from the greenhouse as she sat by the lake and stared across the murky depths of the unknown. It didn't take a genius to figure out something was bothering her.
He slowed his pace as the grass became taller. The moon was full, the sky was cloudless and twinkling with stars, and a slight breeze rippled through the trees and grass. A million things were running through his mind, including what he was going to say when he found her. I noticed you weren't at the feast, so I came to find you. By the way, I'm hopelessly in love with you and have been hoping for over a year that you would feel the same. Do you want to go back to the castle to publicly humiliate me? Or laugh in my face right now? Either way, I don't think I'll ever live this down…
He reached the edge of the lake, feeling his stomach sink when he realized she wasn't standing in her normal spot. He turned in circles a few times, the sickening feeling in his stomach growing. She was probably in her dorm packing, her excitement growing with every thing she packed. He closed his eyes and sighed heavily.
Suddenly, he heard a low whistle come from somewhere to the left of where he was standing. His eyes flew open and his neck swiveled to the left.
She was standing in the shallowest part of the water and in the pale moonlight he could see the hem of her robes was wet. She had something in her hand, and he found himself mesmerized by her. She reached up, her elegant fingers tucking a few stray pieces of hair behind her ear before throwing something into the water. A small splash echoed across the silent divide between them, and waves began to ripple across the seemingly motionless water.
His curiosity was sparked. He crept closer to her, watching as she tossed something else into the water. The white blob floated clumsily on the water before bobbing underneath with a splash. Her laughter drifted towards his ears like a melody, and he found himself smiling as she tossed another white blob into the water.
She seemed to sense him coming. Her large silver blue eyes found his in the dark and time stood still. "Neville?" she called uncertainly, her arms falling to her sides.
A shadow of a smile crossed his lips. She had never called him 'Professor Longbottom'. I knew you before you became a professor, she argued as a dreamy smile crossed her pale lips. You'll always be Neville to me.
He nodded, finding himself unable to speak. Even in the shadows, he could see her smile.
"Come here," she demanded softly. Her voice was like music, and he obeyed, as if he was in a trance.
He realized she was holding a loaf of bread as she broke another piece off. She tossed it into the water and they waited. Suddenly, a dark fish jumped out of the water and dragged the bread underneath the surface. "It's a Snorkal," she whispered excitedly, tossing in another chunk of bread. "There's a whole pack that lives in the marsh grass. I've been feeding them since my first year."
She handed Neville a small piece of bread and silently urged him to toss it. He did, and another little black Snorkal jumped up and began munching on the soggy piece. She giggled softly and tossed another bit into the dark blue abyss.
She looked up at him afterwards, and for a few endless moments, they just stared at each other. Her hair was down and loose, framing her face in an almost unearthly way. He found the urge to lean in and kiss her so strong he had to pinch his hand to remind himself that he wasn't dreaming.
He didn't know how it happened, or even who initiated it, but he found her lips pressed against his and her body in dangerous proximity to his. Shock immobilized him, his hands staying limp at his sides while hers rested awkwardly on his shoulders. After what seemed like an eternity of torturous bliss, she pulled away.
Her cheeks were alight with the finest traces of a blush, something he had only seen her do once. She licked her lips nervously as her hands grabbed the bottoms of her robes. Neville just stood there, dumbfounded. She kissed him! That had to mean something, right?
She lifted her robes and stepped out of the water. She plopped down on the shore and began lacing her shoes up. Neville followed, a little embarrassed to find he had walked into the water with his shoes on. As he walked towards her, the water in his shoes squished around and flew out onto the shore.
She stood up and spun around, but before she could walk away, he reached out and grabbed her hand. She didn't turn around, or even acknowledge he was still standing behind her, she just stopped. "Luna," he croaked, finding his voice wasn't working.
She turned around to face him just as a single tear strayed down her cheek. He felt like he'd been punched in the stomach. I made her cry. "I'm sorry," he whispered hoarsely, inwardly cursing his voice. He needed it and it was nowhere to be found. His fingers laced through hers.
She looked down at their intertwined hands, confusion spreading across her face. For a moment, Neville thought she would let go, but she it seemed she was holding on even tighter. When she looked back up at him, she smiled weakly. He smiled back and awkwardly gathered her up his arms. "I'm sorry," he repeated as she buried her head in the crook of his neck. He felt his face heat up as her arms tightened around his neck.
"It's okay," she whispered, her eyes shut tight. "Just don't let go."