Disclaimer: Harry Potter and related characters/places/concepts are the property of JK Rowling, Bloomsbury, etc.
Warnings: Major Character Death, Teen Pregnancy
Chapter One: Fade Away
"Neville? Ginny? McGonagall wants to see you both in her office," Demelza Robins said as she entered the common room. She handed a small scroll to Neville.
Neville closed his Herbology book and scanned the contents of the scroll. He turned to find Ginny standing over his shoulder.
"Droobles Blowing Gum?" she read, a frown on her face. "Must be the password."
"Yeah," Neville said, shrugging. "I s'pose we should get going."
They walked in silence through the halls, though Neville kept turning over thoughts in his head. He had no idea why he and Ginny would both need to see McGonagall, unless…
"What do you think the meeting is about?" Ginny said, her voice shaking slightly.
"Maybe it's news. Maybe the Order needs our help with something," Neville suggested, feeling rather unsure of his own words.
Ginny snorted. "Unlikely. They've made it entirely clear our help is not needed." She muttered something else, and Neville got the feeling she wasn't talking about the Order.
They entered McGonagall's office to find that Luna Lovegood was already there, humming some nursery rhyme as she sat in a squashy armchair. McGonagall was seated at Dumbledore's old desk, looking older than Neville had ever seen her.
"Good, you're here," McGonagall said, her tone wavering. "I wanted to tell you three first – before it becomes common knowledge. You-Know-Who is dead."
Neville frowned, his eyes wide. This should be happy news, but something in McGonagall's expression told him it wasn't…not entirely, at least.
Ginny, however, didn't look convinced. "Really dead, Professor?"
McGonagall bowed her head. "Yes – I have been in contact with Remus Lupin, who spoke with Hermione Granger two days ago. She confirmed that the last of the obstacles had been eliminated, and that…You-Know-Who…could be completely killed."
Neville had no idea what that meant, but one glance at Ginny gave him the impression that she did. He looked over at Luna, who had lost her dreamy look but appeared no less confused than himself.
"How did it…happen?" Neville heard himself ask.
"The Order had very little time to prepare. We lost Hestia Jones and Dedalus Diggle. You may be surprised to hear this, but Severus Snape also died protecting Miss Granger from the Killing Curse. She and Mr. Weasley were both injured, but they will both be fine in a few days."
Neville breathed a sigh of relief, and some of the worry had left Ginny's eyes. "What about the rest of my family, Professor?" she asked quietly.
"All fine. Your parents were nowhere near the worst of the action, and your brothers Fred and George and Bill all escaped unscathed."
Ginny exhaled loud enough for the others to hear. Neville grabbed her hand, a sinking feeling in his stomach.
Sighing, McGonagall cleared her throat and wrung her hands. "As for Harry…well, he knew it was his battle. I do not know the full extent of whatever he and Professor Dumbledore were working on last year, but he seemed determined to face V-voldemort. Alone." A single tear rolled down McGonagall's cheek. "Harry killed him. He saved us, but he…he…"
She looked up and stared at the three of them intently. Neville began sniffling, and Luna's eyes looked especially watery. Ginny's face was blank as she gripped Neville's hand.
"I wanted to tell you personally – I know you were his friends." McGonagall was openly crying now, to Neville's great surprise. He had never seen the normally austere professor in such a state.
"Harry…did not make it."
Neville's fears were confirmed, but his thoughts immediately turned to Ginny. She looked to be beyond tears, but her body was shaking. Suddenly, she lurched sideways and Neville dove to catch her as she fainted in his arms.
"There's nothing you can do for her, Mr. Longbottom; I gave her a potion for dreamless sleep," Madam Pomfrey said. Still, Neville did not move from his place near Ginny's bed, though Luna had long since returned to the Ravenclaw dormitory.
Neville did not think he had ever been more miserable in his life. This was twenty times worse than when his grandfather and Trevor the toad had died combined. With Ron, Hermione, and Harry gone from the school, Neville had become quite good friends with Ginny, and he hated what this had done to her.
"How long will she have to stay here, Madam Pomfrey?"
Turning, Madam Pomfrey eyed Neville carefully. "How close are you to Miss Weasley, Mr. Longbottom?"
Neville was confused by the question, but he answered honestly. "She's become a good friend, especially this year, since so many students didn't come back."
Madam Pomfrey seemed to accept this answer. "Well, I want to keep her here for a few days for observation. Her system seems to have suffered a shock, understandably, and in her current state of distress there is an increased chance of miscarriage."
Neville's eyes widened and his mouth dropped open. He couldn't have heard that correctly.
"I take it you didn't know," Madam Pomfrey said, looking somewhat surprised. "I would have thought…well, never mind. I must go owl her mother. Get some sleep, Mr. Longbottom."
Neville pulled off his school robe and kicked off his shoes. There was no way he was going back to the dormitory now – he didn't want to field questions from Seamus and Dean and he didn't want to leave Ginny alone. He climbed into a nearby bed and waited for the sleep that never came.
Neville awoke the next morning to a prodding Madam Pomfrey. "When I told you to get some sleep, I meant in your own bed," she said.
"Sorry. I just didn't want…"
"It's all right, Mr. Longbottom, I quite understand. I'll fetch breakfast for the two of you."
Neville looked over at Ginny, who was sitting upright in her bed and staring down at her hands. He approached her cautiously. "Ginny?"
She said nothing for several moments. "It's all right, Madam Pomfrey told me she let my secret slip to you. I think she thought…" Ginny trailed off and laughed hollowly.
Neville suddenly realized what Madam Pomfrey must have assumed and felt himself turn scarlet.
Madam Pomfrey returned with two breakfast trays, though Neville found he wasn't very hungry. Ginny, too, was picking at her food, only nibbling on a piece of toast before shoving the tray away.
"Everything is so messed up, Neville," she said softly.
"D'you…want to talk about it?" he asked.
Ginny sighed. "I suppose I'll have to eventually…Madam Pomfrey said my mother is coming this morning, and telling her will be an absolute nightmare. Is it all right if I practice my story on you?"
"Practice away," Neville said.
Taking a deep breath, Ginny squared her shoulders. "Well, I suppose it starts with the Easter holidays. We were able to spend some time together…alone." She paused then, a dreamy look taking over her face. An instant later, however, this look was replaced by one of horror, and she burst into tears.
Neville realized she hadn't really cried yet, so he pulled her close and rubbed her back as she sobbed on his shoulder. Occasionally she would try to speak, only to have her voice dissolve back into tears.
As Ginny cried, Neville tried to figure out how she could possibly be pregnant. As far as he knew, she hadn't dated anyone all year…and she had stayed at Hogwarts for the Easter holidays. He knew it was possible that she just hadn't told him – they were friends, yes, but they tended to avoid the topic of relationships, which was just fine for Neville. He ran through the likely candidates in his head. She had dated Dean once, of course, but surely he would have known about them getting back together. Deciding he probably wasn't going to be able to figure it out, he turned his attention back to Ginny.
"My mum is going to kill me," Ginny mumbled.
"I doubt that. She loves you," Neville said.
Ginny snorted and wiped some of the tears from her face. She turned her attention to the front of the room, where Mrs. Weasley had appeared. Ginny tensed a little as her mother approached, and Neville quickly moved to another bed.
"Mum," Ginny cried brokenly as Mrs. Weasley gathered her in her arms. Neville suddenly felt like an intruder and started to put on his shoes.
"No, Neville, stay. You should know," Ginny said quietly.
Mrs. Weasley looked back and forth between the two of them, a curious look on her face. "Ginny, what's going on? Madam Pomfrey's owl seemed very urgent."
Ginny sighed and looked up, her face still streaked with tears. "I'm pregnant," she said bluntly.
Mrs. Weasley looked completely thrown, as though this had been the last thing she had expected. Neville could see her face quickly moving from shock to anger, however.
"How could you do this, Ginevra Molly Weasley? I raised you better than that!"
"I'm sorry, Mum, but – "
"What are you going to do? You're sixteen, Ginny!"
"I know that; I'll figure out something."
Mrs. Weasley huffed. "Well, what do you have to say about this, Neville?"
Neville started shaking his head, finding no words.
"It's not Neville's," Ginny said, sounding rather amused at the very thought. "We're just friends."
"Well, then, who is the father, Ginny? You'll have to get married; the Ministry won't allow a teenager to keep a baby born out of wedlock and heaven knows you'd never get a job," Mrs. Weasley ranted.
Neville suspected this was probably true. One of his uncles worked for the Ministry Marriage Register, and he knew wizarding society tended to be very old fashioned when it came to things like marriage and children. He was pulled away from this train of thought, however, to see that Ginny was now nearly hysterical, rocking back and forth with her arms hugging her knees.
Mrs. Weasley seemed to have softened a bit at this image and she took Ginny in her arms once more. "What is it? You can tell me, baby."
For a moment the only sound to be heard was Ginny's continued sobs. Hiccuping, she tried to speak. "I…I can't marry the father, because…because…"
Her voice trailed off, and something fell into place in Neville's brain.
Mrs. Weasley gasped and hugged Ginny tighter. "Oh, no…oh Ginny, I understand. Hush, it will be all right." She stroked Ginny's hair and started to cry herself. Neville turned away from the scene, feeling very out of place.
Ginny finally pulled away from her mother and smiled weakly. "I'm so sorry, Mum. He came to Hogwarts to see Hagrid over the Easter holidays, and we sort of ran into each other and…you know. I never did behave very reasonably around him."
Mrs. Weasley gave a short laugh. Neville chuckled, too, remembering a much younger Ginny trailing after Harry and sending him singing Valentines. It felt good to know that he could still smile.
A/N: This has been sitting in a notebook pretty much since HBP came out, and I finally felt like posting it. Constructive criticism is welcome. The whole story is basically written, so I'll be posting fairly regularly. Hope you enjoy!