Originally written for the Resolutions Challenge at govtstoletoad, a Neville/Luna livejournal community.
Neville seemed to realize that every bump, every turn, every curve of the Hogwarts Express could be his very last. He had heard the rumors. He knew that Hogwarts might not be in session next year.
He simply couldn't fathom a world were Hogwarts wasn't open.
The compartment he was in was shared by Luna Lovegood. The same Luna who had been so good to him since the attack and (he still couldn't believe it) Dumbledore's death. She had visited him in the Hospital Wing every day and even had taken care of Trevor for him.
Luna rested her head against the window, her fingers gently drumming against the glass. A word hadn't been said between them since they entered the compartment, but somehow, the silence was more comforting then any words that could be spoken.
"This is the twentieth time I've been on the Hogwarts Express," said Luna suddenly, her gaze still focused out the window.
Doing a quick calculation in his head, Neville replied, "It's the twenty-fourth for me."
She sat up straight then, ankles crossed, her hands curled into fists in her lap. "I should have eight more trips on the Hogwarts Express to look forward to," she said with a sigh. "I wonder if the Death Eaters realize that the Hogwarts Express might not run next year because of them."
"I don't think they really care, Luna," Neville said quietly.
Her shoulders slumped slightly as she pressed her cheek next to the glass once more. "I liked Professor Dumbledore," she said in that slightly dreamy tone of hers. "He read the Quibbler every month. If there was an article that interested him, we would talk about it."
Neville tried his best to keep from widening his eyes in surprise. Somehow, he never thought that Professor Dumbledore would read the Quibbler. Though maybe Neville should have realized.
Another silence fell between them. The lady with the trolley passed by and Luna bought two chocolate frogs. Wordlessly, she handed one to Neville and then sat down in her seat across from him.
He was about to protest, when Luna said determinedly, her large eyes not leaving his, "Friends share."
That's when Neville knew that she wasn't just offering him a chocolate frog card. Luna was offering him her friendship and he was more than happy to accept. He could certainly use a friend.
"Thank you," he said softly as he took the chocolate frog out of the box, holding on tight. The card was Agrippa, which he already had plenty of. He offered the card to Luna, but found that she didn't collect the cards. Something about the Ministry and hypnotism.
A few hours later, Neville saw the bright blue barn that meant they would be back in London soon.
"Would you write me this summer?" asked Luna as she stared out the window.
"If you'd like," Neville said tentatively.
She turned her head so that she was looking right at him. "I really would," she said in a tranquil voice. "Promise you'll write?"
Neville held up his hand and crossed his index and middle fingers. "Promise," he said with a grin.
Luna's eyes grew wide as she sat up, her body suddenly straight and rigid. Looking both left and right, Luna quickly moved so that she was sitting next to him.
"Snore?" she asked in a loud whisper.
Neville was a bit taken aback. "I do, occasionally. Sorry about that," Neville said apologetically. "I've tried everything. Charms, potions-"
"No, not that kinda of snore. S.N.O.R.E.," she said intensely. This was the most worked up Neville ever had seen the Ravenclaw. "The Society of Necromancers Organized for the Repression of Evil-Doers."
He tried to repeat the words in his head, but found that he couldn't. "Say that one more time?" he asked.
"The Society of Necromancers Organized for Repression of Evil-Doers. S.N.O.R.E.!" said Luna happily. "Are you a member?"
Her face fell. "But you did the hand signal," she said, sounding crestfallen. Luna raised her arm and crossed her fingers. "That's how people in S.N.O.R.E. know to recognize each other."
"That's the hand signal for promise," Neville said. She still looked disappointed, so he added, somewhat hesitantly, "S.N.O.R.E. sounds very interesting, though."
Luna brightened. "It's a wonderful group," she told him. Her eyes narrowed slightly as she looked at him quizzically. "Would…would you like to come to a meeting over the summer?"
Her face looked so hopeful that Neville didn't have the heart to say no. But somehow, spending time with a number of Necromancers didn't seem like the best of ideas to Neville. "I'm not a Necromancer," he said hesitantly.
"Neither am I," Luna said matter of factly. "But that shouldn't stop you. Please, come, Neville Longbottom."
"Alright," said Neville finally. "Just tell me when and where, and I'll be there.
Two weeks later, Neville found himself being fussed over by his grandmother. "I think it's wonderful that you're going out to dinner with a girl, Neville," his grandmother told him. "Your father hadn't started dating Alice at your age, and he had lots of girls wanting his attention."
Neville sighed inwardly. He hadn't mentioned the meeting part of the afternoon to his grandmother. Just that he was going to have dinner with Luna. "Gran, Luna's just a friend," he clarified.
"Yes, of course she is," she said as she fretted over his collar. Neville got the distinct feeling that she didn't believe him. "Have a good time, and be careful in the floo."
"Thanks, Gran," Neville grinned as he took a handful of Floo powder. He looked down at his outfit, a pair of jeans, trainers and a dark red button down shirt. What does one wear for a meeting with evil-fighting Necromancers? Hopefully this would be the proper attire.
It took Neville a moment to remember what Luna had told him what her floo address was. Once he thought of it, he spread the Floo powder over the fireplace and said, "The Orbis."
As he spun round and round, Neville forced himself to keep his eyes open. He absolutely hated traveling by Floo. The journey, fortunately, wasn't a long one and he was soon in Luna's living room.
"Neville? Is that you?" Luna asked from another room.
"It's me," said Neville, loud enough for her to hear. He looked around her living room. It seemed fairly normal. He wasn't sure why he almost felt disappointed about that.
"I'm in the kitchen," she called out happily.
Neville followed the sound of her voice into the kitchen. This was better. The kitchen was painted an electric blue and there were bright purple tiles on the floor. On one wall, there seemed to be markings all the colours of the rainbow.
"Very colourful," Neville remarked as he sat down at the kitchen table.
"Thank you," she said serenely. "Daddy doesn't like to cook, so he let me decorate."
"Do you draw on the walls?" he asked.
She nodded, looking very pleased with herself. Neville then noticed what she was doing, which was putting cookies into a tin. Luna caught him staring and asked, "Would you like one?"
"Sure," said Neville after a moment's thought. He could only imagine what type of cookies would be made in this type of kitchen.
Luna handed him one and took one for herself as well. "Very chocolately," she said proudly.
Neville studied the cookie for a moment before he took a bite. It was a typical chocolate-peanut butter cookie. Very good cookie.
She sat down at the table with him and brought her legs up, Indian-style. He couldn't help thinking how nice she looked today. Her hair was up off her face, held back by what looked to be chop sticks, which showed off her butterbeer cap earrings. She wore a light pink short sleeve pleasant blouse, paired with a pair of light blue jeans. And she was barefoot.
"Are you ready?" Luna asked.
"As I'll ever be," said Neville quietly. "Thank you for the cookie."
"You're welcome," Luna said, standing up. She picked up the tin of cookies and they started towards the door.
"Luna?" Neville asked as they went outside. They would be taking the Knight Bus to the meeting. "Are you bringing cookies to a meeting of Necromancers?"
"They love my cookies," Luna said with a hint of pride. "I find it starts the meeting off on the right foot."
She threw out her wand arm and moments later, the Knight Bus appeared. They quickly paid for their fares and went aboard, sitting in the back.
"So how long have you been a member of S.N.O.R.E.?" asked Neville as settled on their seats and the bus took off.
"Since my mother died," said Luna. She took the top of the tin off and took out one cookie. Breaking it in half, she gave one part to Neville. "I took her place."
"You've been around Necromancers since you were nine?" he asked in disbelief.
Luna looked at him levelly. "You keep saying Necromancers like it's a bad thing," she said pointedly.
Neville was almost glad she asked him right out. "It just seems that Necromancers fighting evil seems like a bit of an oxymoron."
"You think Necromancers are evil?" asked Luna curiously. "My mother considered herself to be a Necromancer."
He would admit that he didn't know much on the subject. "But isn't it all about raising people from the dead? Like Inefri?" he asked.
"There are some who might use Necromancy for evil," she told him. "But that's the way it is in every branch of magic. Evil is everywhere. True necromancy is almost a form of Divination. It's about communicating with the spirits of the dead."
"Why?" asked Neville plainly.
"Lots of reasons," said Luna softly. "For knowledge. For protection. For comfort."
"Have you ever tried necromancy?" Neville asked quietly.
Luna shook her head. "I'm patient," she replied. "I'd rather wait to speak with the dead."
Neville wasn't quiet sure what the appropriate response to that comment was, so he choose silence instead. Not too long after that, the bus stopped in front of a tiny cottage.
"This is us," Luna said dreamily, picking up the tin of cookies.
She headed off the bus and Neville followed. The cottage was in the middle of a large field, surrounding by nothingness. He tried desperately not to feel intimidated by the emptiness around him.
Luna placed one finger over her lips, asking him to be quiet. She walked up to the door and knocked slowly three times. One. Two. Three.
The door opened slowly with a horribly loud creak. Neville was standing behind Luna and saw an elderly hunchbacked wizard open the door. The wizard looked at Luna critically. "Password?" he said in a rich baritone. He looked exactly how Neville pictured a necromancer. His skin was pallid and his cheeks almost seemed hallowed out. His robes were a dark brown and he wore no hat over his bald head.
She first looked left. Then right. Leaning in towards the wizard, she whispered something in his ear. The wizard nodded and then glanced at Neville, eyes narrowing.
"He's with me," said Luna in a hushed voice.
The wizard nodded once and stepped aside, letting them both into the cottage. Luna led him into the living room, which had a circle of about eight chairs set up. There were two chairs free together, and Luna went to sit down.
"Luna, love, did you make your cookies?" asked a very pretty older witch, who had shocking white hair falling down her back in plaits. When Luna nodded, the witch added, "You are such a sweetheart."
Smiling lazily, Luna handed the witch the tin of cookies. As they were being passed around, Neville looked at the group. Including Luna and him, there were a total of seven witches and wizards. The others included a man leaning on his cane, suspiciously looking like he was asleep. A woman of about forty, wearing a kitchen apron and finally a handsome man of about thirty, wearing a pair of spectacles and a brown tweed coat.
It was hard to believe that this cast of characters all considered themselves necromancers, and what's more, wanted to rid the world of evil.
The tin of cookies made it back to Neville and he quickly took out one more, telling himself that that was the last one. They really were good cookies, though. He quickly handed the tin back to Luna, who put it on the ground.
The man in tweed immediately started quizzing Luna on this month's Quibbler, which discussed the Ministry of Magic controlling their employee's minds through the Ministry cafeteria.
Luna said that was almost as important as the Heliopath army, the very one that had been secretly transferred to Rufus Scrimgeour, who planed to unleash them any day now.
The wizard who greeted them entered the room and stood behind one of the remaining two empty chairs. "This meeting of the British Chapter of S.N.O.R.E. will now come to order," he intoned.
"British?" mouthed Neville to Luna.
"We're a world wide organization," she whispered back.
The wizard sat down. "We have a visitor today," he said, looking straight at Neville. "Please introduce yourself to the group."
Neville felt his cheeks getting red as everyone turned to stare at him. He stood up awkwardly and raised his hand in greeting. "I'm Neville Longbottom," he said, waiting for the inevitable sighing and shaking of heads as they put two and two together and figured out who his parents were. To his delight, no one moved a muscle. Much cheered, Neville continued, "I just finished my sixth year at Hogwarts…and I really like Herbology." Neville sat down quickly, hoping he hadn't embarrassed himself too much.
"Very nice to meet you, Neville," said the witch with the white hair, while the man who seemed to be sleep muttered something sounding like, "Gather some radishes, will you?"
"Do we have any business to attend to from the last meeting?" asked the leader.
The witch wearing the kitchen apron raised her hand. "We need to decide about Resolution 22.45A," she said in a squeaky voice.
"Ah, yes," the leader said, stroking his goatee thoughtfully. "Ayes?"
Everyone raised their hands except the sleeping man who mumbled, "Damn waste if you ask me."
"They ayes have it," the leader said. "We'll put an ad in next month's Quibbler to see if we can recruit more members. Luna, is your father still willing to offer a discount classified ad?"
Luna slowly nodded, not to anyone in particular.
The leader folded his hands in his lap and looked grave. "Times have changed since our last meeting," he said in a somber voice. All the witches and wizards lowered their heads for a moment of silence. Even Neville. Everyone but Luna, who seemed to be staring out a large picture window. Neville couldn't help wondering what she was thinking about.
A discussion started in regards to what had happened since the Headmaster's death. You-Know-Who had not been heard from at all, which surprised people. With Professor Dumbledore out of the picture, most everyone expected him to be almost unstoppable. Instead, there hadn't been a peep, which seemed very dangerous.
There was a pause in the conversation and Neville heard himself asking, "Why do you only want to repress evil? Why not get rid of it all together?"
"The Society of Necromancers Organized to Banish Evil-Doers?" laughed the man in the tweed jacket. "Just doesn't sound quite right."
"S.N.O.B.E.D," giggled the witch with the apron.
"Stop putting a 'D' on the end," the witch with the white hair snapped. "It's S.N.O.R.E."
"I still think it should be S.N.O.R.E.D.," the apron complained. "Evil-Doers is two words. Not one."
"There's a hyphen in evil-doers. It's one word."
"One and a half," grumbled the sleeper.
"Ladies, must we go through this every month?" the leader asked wearily. "Our official title is S.N.O.R.E." He glared at the apron. "Loretta, this was agreed upon two months ago. Don't bring it up again."
The apron, now known as Loretta, seemed to pout a bit. Luna, who was still staring out the window, picked up the tin of cookies and handed it to her. Loretta took a cookie out and smiled at Luna gratefully.
The leaded then turned his attention to Neville. "Do you want to rid the world of evil?"
"Shouldn't we?" Neville asked hesitantly.
"No," said Luna, taking her focus off of the window and looking at Neville. "The world needs a little of bit of evil. If we didn't know evil, we wouldn't know good. Like Ying and Yang."
"But right now, the world is out of balance," said the white-haired witch. "There's too much evil, so we'd like to help rein it in so that there's harmony again."
"By trying to bring down You-Know-Who," said Neville thoughtfully.
"Exactly," said the leader, nodding his head. "Now, I would like to bring forth a new resolution. Resolution 65.62D."
The group suddenly seemed nervous. "What's wrong?" whispered Neville to Luna.
Luna apparently didn't seem the need to whisper back. "Any resolution that starts with sixty-five means they're proposing to use necromancy as a group."
"That's right," the leader said confidently. "I believe that Professor Dumbledore died with knowledge that he didn't have the chance to share. I am calling forth a resolution to use our skills to discuss matters with his spirit."
A silence fell over the room. The witch with the white hair spoke first. "It would be nice to have a chance to say good-bye."
Neville looked at Luna to get her thoughts, but found that she was staring out the window again. Neville tried to see what was so interesting, but all he saw was the empty field.
"Did you bring the spell book?" asked the tweed coat. "If the resolution passes, would we perform the spell today?"
"I believe so," said the leader. "Time is of the essence. The longer the world remains unbalanced…"
Neville glanced at Luna again, waiting for her to say something, anything. They couldn't do this. The simply couldn't.
He listened in horror as Loretta started making a list of questions. Finally, he couldn't stand it any longer.
"You can't do this," he blurted out.
Everyone in the room stopped and looked right at him. "Why not?" asked the leader. Neville was grateful that he didn't look angry; he only looked curious.
"Umm…Professor Dumbledore wanted…" he paused, trying to think of the right words. "He wanted the world to be in balance just as much as any of us. Even more, probably. He wouldn't have taken anything to his grave. If there are secrets, he would have made sure someone knew."
"So why shouldn't we communicate with his spirit to confirm this?" asked the leader.
To his horror, Neville felt tears welling up in his eyes. "Professor Dumbledore's spirit deserves peace. He shouldn't be disturbed for a question that he might not want to answer."
He thought longingly of that type of peace, the peace that he wished for his parents daily. Instead, his parents were trapped in their minds and at this point it would be impossible for them to ever leave. People would be surprised to know that Neville didn't wish his parents to be sane. He knew that was a fantasy which would never be fulfilled. Neville wished his parents to have a dignified death. To simply be at peace.
He felt a pressure on his shoulder and realized that Luna had lightly placed her hand there. She turned her head and looked at the group. "I agree with Neville."
"Let's put it to a vote," the leader told the group. "The ayes?"
The leader, the tweed coat and Loretta raised their hands. Neville let out a breath. Only three.
Luna, the white-haired witch and Neville raised their hands. The sleeping man grunted, which everyone assumed meant that he was with the nays.
"The nays have it, then."
The rest of the meeting went quickly. Everyone agreed to keep a look out for any unusual activity and report it at next month's meeting. When the meeting adjourned, Luna gave out the remainder of the cookies.
They said good-bye (Neville tactfully avoided answering any questions about next month's meeting), and went outside to catch the Knight Bus. Luna was quiet and was staring out into the distance.
She was silent as they boarded the bus, except to tell the conductor their desired location. They sat all the way in the back, away from the others on the bus.
Neville was glad for the silence. He had been expecting her quiz him on how he liked the group or ask for his opinions. To tell the truth, S.N.O.R.E. wasn't something he was interested in. Neville liked the idea of repressing evil, really liked it, but not their methods. There were other, better ways to fight than disturbing the spirits of the dead. Perhaps he would talk to Harry about starting up the D.A. again next year.
The bus ride was short. Once they stepped off the bus, Luna simply stood there, staring at Neville. Her direct gaze made him uncomfortable and he looked away. "Thank you," she said finally.
"For what?" he asked curiously.
"For helping me realize something," Luna said softly. They started walking away from Luna's house toward a large field. "I don't belong with the necromancers. I was going for my mother, not for me. More than anything, my mother wanted me to be true to myself. And I'm not, if I stay a member of S.N.O.R.E."
"Don't quit the group because of me-"
"It's not because of you," said Luna serenely. They were walking aimlessly now. "But what you said, that spirits deserve to rest in peace…I believe that, too. I always have. I have to leave the group to stay true to myself."
She stopped and turned to face him. "You are very wise, Neville Longbottom," she said in her dream-like voice.
Neville lowered his head. "I'm not, you know I'm-"
Luna had placed her fingers over his lips. "You are very wise. Don't ever believe anything else."
She continued to stare and this time, Neville looked back. "Thank you," Neville said quietly as she lifted her fingers off his lips. He was lucky to have a friend like her. One who believed in him like i that. /i One who helped him believe in himself. Because somehow, with Luna looking at him like she was, he believed that anything was possible.
They started walking again with the slow, leisurely pace of those who have no where to go. Their fingers brushed, and somehow, Neville wasn't surprised when neither one of them snatched their hands away. Her fingers slowly intertwined with his until they were holding hands.
As they continued to walk, Neville thought about how nice this was, to have someone to simply talk to and to share things with. Not to mention, feeling his face redden a bit, someone to hold hands with. Even with someone who baked cookies for Necromancers and believed in secret Heliopath armies.
They stopped walking and Luna rested her head on his shoulder as he put his arms around her waist.
Very lucky, indeed.