Hello, ladies and gents. This is a bit of a deviation from my usual fics, but a little plot thingie popped into my head last night, and I had to type it down. So, without much more ado, enjoy.


The Romance of Neville Longbottom

It was a peaceful night at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry; the sky was a deep, indigo blue with a slight purplish hue on the horizon. Neville Longbottom leaned on his windowsill, having just taken in a beautiful sunset. He sighed and turned around, yawning widely. It had been a long day full of nothing but studying for the exams which would take place in a week's time. It was times like these that he wished Hermione were around to help him study. Ginny was willing to help, but she was usually distracted for one reason or another, and she was also a year below him, meaning that her tutoring assistance was limited.

He lay down in his bed, listening to Dean's soft snoring. He and Neville were the only boys left in his dorm. Harry and Ron were off doing whatever it was that Harry had to do; Seamus never returned from summer break.

Neville sighed, staring up at the canopy of his bed. He just wished all of this business with You-Know-Who was over with, so that things could be happy again. He wished he could help; he, Luna, and Ginny had helped Harry before, and they were willing to do it again, but Harry had left before they even had a chance to offer.

A breeze picked up, causing Neville's hangings to flutter. He yawned again, then his eyes closed.

……

Neville walked into the Great Hall the next morning, his stomach growling angrily; he had skipped dinner last night to study. He sat down, not noticing the whispers and chatter, and piled himself a huge stack of pancakes, scrambled eggs, and bacon, then began devouring it.

"Jeez, Nev, you hungry?" Dean asked, sitting next to Neville.

"I haven't eaten since lunch yesterday," Neville said, gulping down a glass of orange juice. "Been studying with Ginny."

"You guys are getting pretty cozy," Dean said, smiling. "You've 'studied' together every night this week. Been getting in a little 'extra credit'?"

Neville turned pink. "No!" he said. "Anyway, Ginny and I don't feel that way about each other. We're just friends."

"Hm," Dean made an interested noise, glancing down the table at Ginny, who was eating with Luna.

"She's not interested in you anymore," Neville said, not looking up from his eggs.

"She still hung up on Harry?" Dean asked, looking over at him.

"No," Neville said. "They broke it off at his last visit to her house. They realized it wasn't meant to last. She likes someone else."

"Who?" Dean asked eagerly.

"She wouldn't tell me," Neville said. "And I didn't bother her about it, either."

Dean huffed and went to his French toast as Neville looked up at the staff table. Professor McGonagall was talking intently to Professor Moody, who had returned to take over the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, and Kingsley Shacklebot, the new Transfiguration teacher after McGonagall had become Headmistress. She stood up, and the hall fell silent.

"I have splendid news," she said, a smile on her face. "As you all know, Harry Potter has been actively fighting against Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters along with some members of the Order of the Phoenix."

A collective shudder went over the hall as the students winced, gasped, or otherwise negatively reacted to the mention of Voldemort's name. Professor McGonagall seemed to hold back from rolling her eyes.

"Yesterday evening, we received word that Voldemort has been defeated," she continued. "And I will repeat it, since many of you probably think you didn't hear me correctly: Lord Voldemort has been defeated by Harry Potter with help from Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger. All three have survived the encounter with minimal injury. A ball will be thrown here at Hogwarts in celebration—"

The rest of her announcement (though there probably wasn't much left anyway) was drowned out as the reality of the statement sank in, and the students cheered as loud as their vocal chords would admit, Neville joining in with them. You-Know—Voldemort was defeated! He couldn't wait to tell his mum and dad next time Gran took him to St. Mungo's! At last, their fate was avenged….

Neville looked down the table to see Ginny cheering. She looked completely different from the morose girl she had been only five minutes ago; she was smiling, and there seemed to be a new light behind her eyes. She looked up to see Neville looking, and her smile widened. She got up, walked over, and hugged Neville from behind. Neville's eyes widened, and he felt his cheeks heat up again. Ginny sat next to him.

"This is so great, Neville!" she said in disbelief. "Ron's okay, they're all okay! And…" she looked uncomfortable, "your parents are avenged, too."

"Yeah," Neville said, smiling. "I was just thinking that I can't wait to tell them."

Ginny smiled, hugged him one more time, and went off to send an owl to her parents to ask for a way to contact Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Neville ate his breakfast and went to water his mimbulus mimbletonia.

……

For the next week, all talk and gossip was about the defeat of Voldemort, Harry Potter's imminent return to Hogwarts, or the upcoming dance. Surprisingly, the latter two topics seemed to garner much more interest than the first.

Neville, for his part, was not really planning on attending the dance. The Yule Ball was okay in his fourth year, but Ginny was his only prospective date, and she would more than likely ask her dream guy. From her descriptions of him, he had it all; good looks, attractive personality, and he was romantic to boot.

These plans for a lonely night in his dorm were thrown a rather welcome wrench as Neville walked up to the castle from the greenhouses. Classes and exams were cancelled (to the delight of all the students), but Neville still liked to help Professor Sprout with the plants from time to time. As Neville walked, a fifth year girl walked up to him purposefully.

"Hi," she said as she fell into step next to him. Neville looked around to see if she was talking to anyone else, but no one was around.

"Hello," he said to her. She was an attractive girl with shoulder-length, strawberry-blonde hair, bright greenish-blue eyes, and a cute face. She was a few inches shorter than Neville, who was a little short for his age to begin with.

"I'm Almira Villyle," she said.

"Neville Longbottom," Neville replied, holding out a hand then seeing that it was covered in dragon manure. "Oh, sorry," he said, pulling out a handkerchief and trying to remove as much excess fertilizer as he could.

"That's quite alright," Almira said. "I was just wondering if you would like to go to the ball with me. I know this seems sudden, but I have no one to go with, and all of my friends do. I'd be all alone. I asked around, and a girl told me about you. So, would you go to the ball with me?" she asked hopefully.

Neville remained silent after this speech, barely believing his ears. Had a girl, and a rather attractive one at that, asked him to the ball? This was almost too good to be true. But who cares, someone asked him to the ball! He looked back down at the girl, realizing that he hadn't yet given a response.

"Sure, I'd love to," he said, smiling. He tripped over a stone and stumbled, then looked back in front of him. Stupid. Almira only giggled, smiling.

"Okay," she said. "Thank you. Meet me in the Great Hall around seven?"

"Yeah," Neville said. "Which house are you in, so I know where to look for you?"

"Ravenclaw," Almira replied. "I'm a Ravenclaw."

"Okay," Neville said, stepping into the castle. Almira leaned up and kissed Neville on the cheek then headed for her common room, leaving him stunned and giddy. When she was out of sight, Neville clenched his fist and did a little celebration dance. A passerby stared at him as though he was insane, and he calmed down.

I've gotta tell Ginny, he said, taking off up the stairs to the Gryffindor common room. He made his way up the stairs, actually remembering to jump the trick step, though stumbling slightly on his landing. He reached the Fat Lady, who was accompanied by her old friend that had visited in fourth year.

"And what are we so smiley about?" she asked, her lips curving at Neville's enormous grin.

"I've got a date to the dance!" Neville said excitedly. "Victory for the little guy!"

The Fat Lady smiled at the fact that his declaration of victory was also the new password and swung forward to admit him to the common room. Neville clambered inside and ran over to sit next to Ginny, who was reading the Daily Prophet by the fire. She looked up and smiled at Neville.

"Hi, Neville," she said. "What's got you in such a good mood?"

"I just got a date to the ball!" Neville said, slightly out of breath from his run up to the common room. Ginny's smiled widened.

"You did?" she asked. "Great! The guy I was planning on asking has a date already, but at least one of us has someone to go with."

Neville's balloon of happiness was deflated slightly. "You got turned down? I'm sorry."

"That's okay," Ginny said. "I'll just go stag and dance with the handsome singles."

"I'll dance with you a few times, Ginny," Neville said, smiling. "I promise I'll do my best not to step on your feet this time, either."

Ginny giggled. "Thanks, Neville," she said. "That'd be nice."

……

The week up to the dance seemed to blur together as Neville sent in for dress robes, practiced dancing with Ginny, and gloated to Dean about how he had a date while Dean would go stag (Ginny had flatly refused).

Soon, the night of the dance arrived, and Neville was nervously putting on his dress robes, having some difficulty with the tie. He had succeeded in nearly strangling himself twice, and then somehow ended up with the tie around his waist (much to his complete and utter confusion).

As Neville tucked in his shirt (having given up on the tie) and tied his dress shoes, there was a soft knock on the door. He walked over and opened it, revealing Ginny wearing powder-blue dress robes and looking a little self-conscious.

"Ginny, you look nice," Neville said, causing her to blush.

"Thanks, Neville," she said. "These used to be Hermione's but they don't fit her anymore." She plucked at the fabric. "Do they really look good? They were tailored for her, but—"

"You look great, Ginny," Neville said shyly. Ginny smiled, looking up, then her eyebrows raised.

"Do you have any idea how to tie a tie?" she asked. Neville smiled sheepishly.

"Well, last time it was a clip-on tie," he said, "but I don't want to look like a fool in front of Almira."

Ginny smiled. "Neville, don't worry about looking like a fool," she said. "Just be yourself. That's what roped her in in the first place."

Neville pinked a little, and Ginny took Neville's tie, tying it and speaking as she did so, "Just remember, a fox chases a rabbit around the tree, then up it."

"You make it seem so simple," Neville said, and Ginny giggled. "Thanks, Ginny."

"No problem," she said. "Care to escort me to the Great Hall? At least until you find your date?"

"Sure," Neville said. Ginny held out her arm, and he took it. They made their way down to the Great Hall, talking about nothing in particular as they did so. They reached the Entrance Hall and found it packed with students chatting loudly. The doors to the Great Hall were open, and music was flowing out, but most of the students seemed to be awaiting the arrival of the Golden Trio, as the Prophet had dubbed them. Neville didn't remember hearing anything about Harry attending the dance. Odds on, they were still at St. Mungo's, recuperating.

"Posers," Ginny muttered under her breath. Neville chuckled as he searched around for Almira. She was coming from the Ravenclaw common room, so….

"There's Almira," Neville said, pointing her out. She waved at Neville, making her way over to him.

"Break a leg," Ginny said in his ear, then broke away from him to mingle with the crowd. Almira came up and took Neville's hand.

"Hi," she said, smiling. "You look nice."

"Thanks," Neville said. "You look beautiful." She was wearing a deep indigo dress that faded to white towards the bottom, fanning slightly as it did. She wore matching blue gloves and a blue choker necklace with a moon symbol on the front.

"Oh, thank you," she said, leading him into the Great Hall, which already had a fair amount of students considering that most of them were in the room they had just come from. Almira led him over to a table with three other girls sitting side by side and across from what must have been their dates. Neville saw a boy he recognized from his after-class excursions to the greenhouses, a third year boy with rather thick glasses that magnified his eyes, and a short boy with a pudding-bowl haircut. Neville sat next to the boy with the pudding-bowl haircut, feeling a little nervous. Almira put her hand on his with a smile, and Neville felt better.

"Neville, this is Zoey," a brown-haired girl with brown eyes smiled at him, "Gloria," a black haired girl with deep blue eyes waved, "and Valerie," a girl with dyed-purple hair nodded in greeting. "Girls, this is Neville Longbottom, my date."

"Hello," Neville said.

"Hi Neville," Zoey said, her voice friendly.

"Hi," Gloria said. Valerie seemed uninterested already.

"So, Neville, tell us about yourself," Zoey said, steepling her fingers and resting her chin on them. Gloria looked over, and even Valerie's eyes darted to him. Neville was a little taken aback at the girls' interest in him.

"Um, I like Herbology," he said. "I have a rare plant called the mimbulus mimbletonia. I'm trying to figure out how to breed it. I want to work with plants someday, figure out new uses for them, you know."

"Sounds fascinating," Gloria said, smiling, then looked at Almira. "I could use a drink."

"Yeah, me too," Almira said. "Neville, would you—"

"Of course," Neville said, standing. The other girls' dates also stood to get their respective partners a drink. As he walked, Neville reflected on his luck; here he was with a nice, attractive, kind girl that was actually interested in him! He smiled at the sheer thought, thinking about what could happen after the ball; they might start going out. Gran would be so happy to hear that he finally got a girlfriend. He poured some punch and made his way back to the table, ignoring the conversation that seemed to have sprung up between the other three guys; he didn't want his date to think he deserted her.

As he made his way back to the table, he heard a burst of laughter and loud speech. He recognized the voice of Almira.

"So, I'm losing hope," she said, giggling. "I need a loser. So, I take a walk around the grounds, and I see him. He's a little husky, has some teeth problems, and his face is just completely dopey-looking. To top it all off, his hands are covered in manure!"

Another burst of laughter. Neville stopped and listened; the girls had their backs to him and clearly had no idea he was there.

"Okay," Gloria said, "Almira wins for lamest date to the ball," they all dropped a few Galleons on the table and Almira scooped them up.

"Thaaank you," she said, putting them in her pocket. "I'm taking round two, too."

"What's round two, again?" Zoey asked.

"The girl who can keep their date the longest without getting sick of him wins," Almira said. "My date is completely oblivious. He actually thinks I'm interested in him!"

This statement was greeted with another burst of laughter. Neville suddenly had some difficulty breathing. He turned and walked from the Great Hall, shoving through the crowd in the Entrance Hall and climbing the stairs. He made his way down a deserted corridor, tears stinging at his eyes. He had thought Almira was rather cute; shy, but brave in approaching him out of the blue. Now he realized that she was just a good actress, and a cruel one at that. He sniffed, resigned to a lonely night in the boys' dorm.

"Neville!" a voice yelled. Neville turned around and saw Ginny hurrying toward him.

"Hey, Ginny," he said, forcing a smile. Ginny stopped in front of him, looking concerned.

"You okay?" she asked. "You left in real hurry. Did your date not pan out?"

Neville sighed and explained the real motivation behind Almira's forwardness, the apparent contest to get the lamest date to the dance, and Almira's boast about Neville obtuseness. By the end of his explanation, Ginny's expression changed from concern to unbridled fury.

"That…that little whore!" she shrieked, shocking Neville. She turned and stalked back down the corridor.

"Ginny?" Neville asked, jogging to catch up with her. "Ginny, it's okay. I don't mind—"

"Well, I do!" Ginny said. "She has no business toying with your emotions like that!"

She marched down the stairs to the Entrance Hall and elbowed her way through the crowd. Neville followed, apologizing to the people she shoved particularly roughly. She stepped in the Great Hall, glaring around.

"She's the reddish-blonde-haired one in the blue dress, right?" she asked Neville, who nodded, a little frightened at the look on her face. Ginny stalked across the room while Neville hovered there, not sure whether to follow or stay where it was safe. Before he even had a chance to decide, Ginny grabbed hold of his arm and dragged him over to the table where Almira was sitting with Gloria and her date, who was drinking a butterbeer.

"Oh, Neville, there you are!" Almira said as he approached. "I was wondering where you went off to."

"Don't give him that, you little bint!" Ginny said. "Do you have any idea what you've put Neville through? You broke his heart."

Almira looked confused for a moment, then her face fell. "You mean he found out?"

"Yeah," Ginny said. Almira sighed, pulling out three Galleons and tossing them on the table.

"I'm out," she said. "Damn, he's smarter than I thought."

Ginny growled furiously, and before Neville knew what was happening, her wand was out and Almira was flying across the hall. She landed roughly, getting to her knees. Gloria gasped and ran over.

"Allie, you okay?" Neville heard her ask. Almira's response was to belch out a streaming pile of slugs. Neville put a hand to his mouth, resisting the impulse to gag.

"A Slug-Vomiting Hex?" he asked Ginny, who had pocketed her wand and was smiling innocently.

"Ron taught it to me once he figured it out," she said. "Bat-Bogey is good, but I wanted something with a little more oomph."

Neville smiled as they walked back to the door to the Entrance Hall, their enthusiasm for the dance now nonexistent. The Entrance Hall was significantly less packed now, mostly because the students had realized that Harry Potter was not showing up for the dance. They walked up the stairs, heading for the quiet of the common room.

"Thanks, by the way," Neville said as they walked. "I guess I should've known better than to think she would actually be interested in me."

"Don't say that, Neville," Ginny said. "Lots of girls would love a guy like you."

Neville shook his head. "No, they want big, strong Quidditch types; clever, smart guys. In other words, guys that aren't me."

"Bollocks!" Ginny said, rounding on Neville. "Neville, you've got more going for you than you realize! You're kind, loving, honest, sincere, and trusting. There's five qualities a lot of women want in a man."

Neville shrugged and continued walking. He heard Ginny heave a huge, exasperated sigh, then she grabbed his arm, pulled him around, and planted her lips on his. Neville was too shocked to react as Ginny kissed him, and it was over all too soon. Ginny pulled away, her cheeks a little pink, but a determined look on her face.

"More specifically, those're five qualities I'd love in a man," she said, staring him in the eyes. Neville stared back in disbelief. Was she saying what he thought she was saying? Ginny smiled and took Neville's hand, leading him down the hallway.

"Um, Ginny?" Neville asked as they walked, their fingers laced together. Ginny looked up at him. "Thanks."

Ginny giggled, wrapping her arms around his waist and resting her head on his shoulder. Neville tentatively put his arm around her shoulder, and Ginny grabbed his hand, pulling it the rest of the way around. They walked like that, arm in arm, back to the common room, where they spent the rest of the night cuddled by the fireplace, not even changing out of their formalwear.


Well? What do you think? Not one of my usual pairings, but I think it turned out okay. I'm not quite sure how to write Neville, so those of you with tips, tell me in a nice review!

Also, I'm sure I use the word "bint" right. As far as I've gathered, it's an insult, but anyone who knows more, I'd rather like to know. Thanks!