Title: A Moment In The Sun
Rating: Any Age
Summary: "I like you Neville Longbottom."
A/N: For the "Wands of the Woods" Challenge at govtstoletoad, nearly actually forgot my wood. "Rowan". And once again proving that endings hate me. And SPOILERS for DH. Not big ones, but they are there.
Even though this was his job, he still loved it. Everyday when he went to the Greenhouse he felt lucky. Lucky that he was alive, lucky that his friends were, and lucky, just plain lucky. There were others, that had lost so much. Lost family, loved ones, friends, their innocence. They all lost out there, it was gone. He was definitely one of the lucky ones. His losses didn't seem much compared to everyone else, there were things, people that he would miss, but for the most part, he was lucky.
The rest of society was rebuilding, there had been so much devastation, it was a slow process. It wasn't as simple as one wave of the wand, entire buildings needed to be rebuilt, and it wasn't just the structures that were in need of repair. Lives had been destroyed, and just the fact that it was over wasn't enough. The battle may have been over, but life was far from being perfect. Maybe that was why he took so much from his little slice of perfection, because he could have so easily been one of the ones who lost everything.
Every morning he rose with the sun, he went downstairs, and without fail his Gran would be sitting there in her old faded pink dressing gown. She would have a cup of tea in her hand, and breakfast sitting there for him. More often than not they didn't speak, she would drink her tea, and he would eat. The last war had aged her greatly, she was still a firecracker, but she was quieter. Her spark was still there, just dimmed slightly. There were times when he missed the old Gran, he had stopped coming down with his shirt untucked, waiting for her to tell him to tuck it in. Sometimes she'd tut at him, and he'd fix himself up. She would watch him, wistfully. Neville knew she was proud of him, he had lived up to his potential, moved out of his parents shadows.
He wasn't sure what she did when he left in the mornings, he would be gone most of the day. Taking the lunch she prepared for him, and heading to work. He liked to think she was busy, maybe pottering around in the little garden she tended. Maybe she visited people she knew, or read. Anything other than sit alone, and reminiscing. Which was fine in itself, he just didn't think it was healthy. Even though she was busy with her family, and getting over the tragedies that had befallen them, he was grateful to Mrs Weasley for coming to visit her regularly. Gran may complain in the evenings about her coming, but inside he knew she welcomed it.
As he walked to work in the mornings, he'd feel guilty about leaving her alone in the house. But just as soon as he entered the greenhouse, all thoughts of home faded. After so many years of feeling inadequate, and not worthy. Finding his path, his calling, was something he'd always appreciate. This was where he belonged, not out fighting crime with Harry and Ron, or trying to change the laws like Hermione; this was his spot.
While Voldemort had control of the Wizarding world, the stocks of plants with healing properties were severely depleted. Whether it was by malicious force, or pure negligence, the damage was enormous. St Mungo's staff did the best they could with what they had, but Neville, and other like minded individuals were working hard to replenish the stock. There was so much that had to be done, but he loved it.
He was always the first to arrive, and he wasted no time in getting started. Plants needed to be re potted, fertiliser was needed, and there was never a shortage of watering to do. Most plants thrived under his gentle, but attentive care, but there were some that struggled. They required sometimes, something a little different. That's what he loved the most, it wasn't all the same, each plant was unique. It's properties, it's meaning, the way it grew, how alive it truly was. He never turned his back on the plants in the adjacent rooms, he liked living too much, but they all had their uses.
Neville was elbow deep in manure by the time everyone else started trickling in, greeting them all with a smile as they passed him. Some of them stopped, and chatted a little, some like him, got straight into their work. Susan who worked next to him, kept up a steady stream of chatter as she worked. He kept himself removed from the gossip that was everywhere, but thanks to Susan there wasn't a topic he didn't know about. He was surprised when she told him that Harry and Ginny had broken it off over the weekend, only to be told in the next sentence that it was back on again. He wasn't surprised when she told him that Seamus had once again been throw out of another pub, it really wasn't a weekend, until he did.
Susan started talking then about other schoolmates she had seen over the weekend, and although he felt awful he tended to let his mind wander. His ears would perk at the mention of someone he was close to, but mostly he took comfort from hearing about the mundane, and the peculiar of his friends and their friends lives. She barely noticed, he laughed when appropriate, displayed shock, but mostly he think she was just happy to talk.
He stopped and listened properly however when she talked about Luna Lovegood. Luna. The path that they'd been on together had dissolved a little, and they hadn't really reconnected. That year had been crazy, he had been sure, for once in his life, he was finally getting something good. The universe had had other ideas, they had their brief moment in the sun, not having a chance to let it grow. Now that it was all done, their lives were starting to get back to normal. In quiet moments to himself, he wondered about her. What she was doing, how she was feeling, whether she had retained her spirit.
While his life was left relatively unscathed, he knew hers wasn't. She looked on the outside like she always had, she smiled, she laughed, he didn't think however that the wounds had completely healed. Being held captive by Death Eaters, not knowing if your father was alive, never knowing if you would survive long enough to see him again. No matter how your disposition beforehand, he doubted anyone would be able to leave that environment without losing part of their spark. But if there was one thing Luna Lovegood had in spades, it was spark.
Neville listened intently as she spoke of Luna, out in Diagon Alley. A flower behind her ear, a spring in her step, she said she was just like she always was. He clung to that, that she was still the same Luna.
"Do you see her much?" Susan said softly, her voice breaking his reverie.
"Not really," he smiled slightly. "Been busy and all, imagine she is. Helping her dad, and getting the paper back up and running."
"That's a shame, you should go see her this afternoon. There's nothing important to be done here, I'm sure we'd manage without you for a little while."
He nodded, wiping his hands on his pants. "I might go see what's happening next door," he said beginning to walk away.
"Go see her Neville, I'm sure she wants to see you," she called after him.
He could see her house clearly, he'd never been here before, but he'd known it was the Lovegoods instantly. How could it be anyone elses? Neville had taken Susan's advice, and left the greenhouses early, no-one had batted an eyelid. Apparating to the village just over the hill from her house, he walked the rest of the way. Stopping at the top of the path to her door. Waiting for the urge to go and knock. It was silly to feel so anxious, they were friends, sure they hadn't spoken properly since that day at Hogwarts. Luna wasn't the kind to hold that against anyone, if it had been years, she still would have welcomed him inside without any kind of grudge.
He should walk to the door, and knock. It was easy, he'd faced much worse. It was just a door, and behind it was nothing threatening. A friend, a friend he very much wished to stay in touch with, and standing here wasn't going to allow that to happen.
"It is safe to knock," a dreamy voice said from above. "I checked the wood just yesterday, and an infestation of chizpurfles takes longer than twenty four hours to return."
A grin grew on his face as he looked up, "excellent!" He strode forward, and knocked firmly, "because that's exactly why I didn't knock," he said quietly to himself.
Hardly a moment the door opened, and she was there. Her smile open, "hello Neville."
"Hi Luna," he grinned.
She stepped to the side, and gestured him forward. He moved into her house, being reminded once again that this was definitely a Lovegood home. Every inch of it was purely Luna, and her father. From the photographs on the wall, the paintings of magical beings that's existence was entirely unimaginable, to the weird and wonderful implements. This was Luna's home, and it was her.
He felt awkward standing there, gawking at her home. "This if for you," he said, holding out a small pot. "It's only young now, but it'll grow. It's Rowan, I've planted some at home, it's a nice size tree."
"Oh! I've read about these, what a lovely gift." she exclaimed, taking it from his hands. "I know just the spot. I'll plant it up the top of the path, thanks Neville."
"Sounds good, and you're welcome," he smiled at her.
"Can I fix you a tea or something? We just got some nettle tea the other day, would you like some. It's very nice."
"Erm," his smile froze. He knew what nettle was, he knew what it looked like, and nothing that he would like to drink could come from it. "Do you have Earl Grey? I'd love a cup of that if you have it."
"Earl Grey, sure," her smile drooping a little as she nodded, Luna walked into the room next to them. He could hear her humming softly to herself.
"On second thoughts," he said, walking into the kitchen. "I'd love to try some nettle tea, can't knock it till I try it right?"
They sat out in the little garden at the back of her home, he was resisting the urge to exclaim over the plants growing. There were some that he would never think to see in a domestic garden, some that should never be anywhere near people; that was a discussion for another day.
"So have you been keeping busy?" He asked her.
"Somewhat busy, getting daddy back on his feet properly. There was some things that had to be done, the paper has been easy to manage. Our home was pretty damaged, but we've managed to fix it up mostly."
"And your dad, he's alright?"
"Oh he's perfect! Fit as can be, running the paper, helping me with the house, we went away the other week looking for a family of bugbears. That was a lot of fun."
"Did you find any?"
"No," she sighed deeply. "Unfortunately they have moved on for the summer, but daddy says we can look again next year, just a little earlier next time."
"Ah, thats good."
She took a sip of her tea, before placing it down on the small table. Jumping up quickly she grabbed his hand, "let's take a walk, the woods are lovely at this time of the day. I'm sure we'll see lots of interesting things."
The ground crunched under their feet, he could hear birds off somewhere. It was incredibly peaceful, Luna's hand on his elbow as they walked added to the calm he felt. She was talking constantly, telling him of the grand adventures she'd had as a child walking through here. Exploring, and discovering things.
After they had walked for a while, they came to a large, thick tree, which Luna wasted no time in climbing.
"Come up," she laughed. "I used to sit here all the time, it's my thinking tree."
Rather ungracefully, at least without her natural grace, he climbed up behind her. Seating himself next to her on a wide branch, trying to hide the fact that he was out of breath. Tree climbing wasn't an everyday activity for him.
"The Weasleys used to come through here, and I'd be sitting here, and they never noticed. I liked that, I liked that it was my own little place. Sometimes I'd bring a book, sometimes just me, I could sit here for hours."
He nodded, "it's good that you had it I think, I know I would have loved something to take me away from Gran, even for a little while."
"How is your Gran? I haven't seen her in town for ages," she looked at him, her eyes it seemed where filled with concern.
"She's fine, not sick or anything," he said quickly. "Just a little tired I think, I don't think she's in the mood to socialise."
"She'll get it back, it was a horrible time, even the strongest people would have been a little shaken. I imagine not knowing how, or where you were for such a very long time was very hard on her."
"Yeah," he nodded. "Just got to give it some time. I know I'm not really in the right mood to see people that much, I like just being home, with Gran."
"That's good, I think she'd like having you around. But you do need to see people too, you'd go mad otherwise. Sometimes I don't want to go out, but I make myself, and when I come home I know it was for the best. We're going away next weekend, there has been word that a family of Gytrash, is coming south. They'll avoid the city, they don't like many people, but Daddy thinks that if we camp out, they just might stop and let us observe them."
"Sounds good," he smiled.
"Would you like to come? I'm sure an extra person would be fine, but we shouldn't have anymore than three, they probably wouldn't like that."
"Erm, I haven't been camping in a long time."
"It'll be fun! We can sit by the fire, and there will be lots of things for you to see, plants, and of course, seeing the Gytrash. You'd have to bring your own tent though, Daddy tends to snore," she said seriously. "I'm used to it, it may be hard to sleep for you though. Will you come?"
"Why not!" He laughed, disturbing some birds above them.
She smiled happily next to him. "I'm glad you came to see me today Neville, I was really starting to miss you."
"Me too, I mean, miss you."
She chuckled to herself, and reached over and took his hand in hers. "I like you Neville Longbottom."