A/N: Last chapter folks! Thanks to those who have read and reviewed. I hope you enjoyed it. It may have been a little depressing in places but I have endeavoured to give both Neville and Teddy an optimistic ending.
It had been a shock for Neville to witness one of his students leap to their feet in the middle of the lesson and proceed to jinx three of his classmates. Even more of a shock was to see Teddy Lupin, his hair flushed red, his eyes flashing with fury, ruthlessly attack three defenceless boys without any kind of, as far as Neville was aware, provocation. As the rest of his first-year students left he saw that Teddy was sitting at the potting-bench nearest the window; the last warmth of the autumnal sun casting his face in an uncertain, melancholy light.
He said nothing for a moment as he moved over to the little stove that heated the front of the class where he sat, setting the kettle to boil with a slight gesture of his wand. Two cups set themselves on Neville's desk and, as he retrieved the tartan tin of shortbread that Professor McGonagall had generously given him, he straightened to see that Teddy had already moved, without being prompted, to sit on the mildewy arm-chair before the spluttering stove.
"I'm sorry about what I did," Teddy said suddenly as Neville placed the cups of steaming tea before them.
"I'm glad that you feel like you should apologise."
Teddy nodded down into his tea cup. His hair was still a shocking shade of red.
"Would you do something for me?" Neville asked. Teddy raised his eyes and gave a non-committal nod of the head. "Would you tell me what those boys said to make you react like that?"
Teddy put his cup down and leant back into his chair and studied the face of his Herbology teacher. He liked Professor Longbottom very much; he was a cheery, rather hapless man who always seemed in earnest, and always covered in soil. There was nothing but concern in his questions; they weren't designed, as some other teacher's seemed to be, to catch you out.
"They said something about…about my mum and dad…" Neville barely breathed, his silence urging Teddy to continue confiding in him. "They said to me that they deserved to die."
Teddy couldn't bring himself to look at his teacher as Neville took a sharp intake of breath. Surely they couldn't have said anything so cruel? Neville thought to himself. But the pain that was manifesting itself on the face of the young boy opposite told him otherwise.
"I didn't know that. They will, of course, be severely punished."
Teddy shrugged and said with a wise smile, "It won't make much difference, will it? It won't take away the things they said."
"Teddy, I want to tell you something. S…something that you may or may not already know…something about me." Neville had decided on the best way of winning Teddy's trust. The trouble was finding it within himself to talk about something he hadn't spoken about for a very long time.
He smiled slightly at the expression on Teddy's face; set, serious – so reminiscent of his father.
"I don't know whether you know about my parents. They were in the Order of the Phoenix too, you know, just like your mum and dad." Neville paused, collecting his thoughts. "This was in the first war against Voldemort when the prophecy was made. I suppose you know about all of that, growing up with Harry, don't you?"
Teddy simply nodded.
"Yes…well…when I was only the baby a group of Death Eaters came to our house, Rodolphus Lestrange? And Bellatrix? Of course, you've heard of them…" Neville had all but forgotten his tea. His eyes had fixed on a patch of sunlight that was dazzling on the thick, dusty glass of the Greenhouse. "She tortured my parents…tortured them within an inch of their lives and left them…worse than dead. I went to live with my grandmother and my parents, until this very day, live at St Mungos."
"Do you go and see them?" Teddy's youthful voice broke the strange sense of silence that had descended. Neville turned his eyes back to the boy, whose hair had faded to turquoise in his concentration.
"Sometimes…but sometimes I find it too hard. I thought when I was younger that it would get easier. But it never does and never will." Neville gave a sad smile. "It's difficult to have any sort of relationship with my parents when they don't seem to know who I am."
"Do you sometimes wish…" Teddy trailed off, embarrassed, but Neville urged him to continue. "Do you ever think it would have been easier if they had just died?"
"I do, actually." Teddy was surprised at his teacher's honesty but respected him more for it. "But then I think about people like you and Harry…and I think that if, given the choice, neither of you would choose your parents death over having them alive like mine."
Teddy imagined for a moment what he'd rather and realised, with a tight pain within his chest, the he would have rather have known his parents in that state than have been denied the opportunity of ever knowing them at all.
"When I was at school," Neville continued, edging the tin of shortbread towards Teddy so he took one. "I never told anyone about my parents. It wasn't because I was embarrassed." Neville added swiftly. "I j…just didn't know how I could begin to explain everything that happened to them…and everything that it meant to me."
"That's how I feel too," Teddy said tentatively, meeting his Herbology teacher's gaze. "I don't really know how I feel about it all and so it's hard for me to talk to anyone else."
"But I did tell people, in the end. I realised that I was making things so much harder for myself. My friends helped me to realise that there was nothing wrong with any of the things I felt; anger, fear, irrational hatred…"
"It was easier for you, though, wasn't it?" Teddy replied, a little snappishly, not meaning to sound so irritable. "You didn't have to spend every day in the place where your parents were murdered, did you?" His voice wavered as he ended and he became conscious of the emotions that were knotting his stomach and causing a lump in his throat.
"No-one made you come to Hogwarts. Why did you come?"
"I just wanted…" Teddy faltered, burying his childish desire to simply burst into tears deep inside. "I wanted to make them proud of me. But that's silly because I'll never know if I do."
"Of course they'd be proud of you! You might never have known them but I did. Your mum, Teddy, was wonderful! A really wonderful witch! She just had this way of making you feel comfortable; making you laugh. She was always laughing. And your dad, your dad was one of the most generous men I ever meet. He always thought of others before himself. And he was so proud to be a dad; they were both proud to have you, Teddy. That's why they fought so hard."
"Sometimes I wish they hadn't!" Teddy said, impassioned, showing the petulance that most definitely was a Black family trait. "Sometimes I think it would have been better if they had been cowards and hadn't wanted to fight. If they hadn't they would still be alive…"
"You can't know that, not for sure. If they hadn't fought, or my parent's hadn't fought, or Harry's, Voldemort would have won! We wouldn't be here now, having this conversation, if they hadn't given their lives to ensure that our way of life would continue. I am proud of my parents, and Harry is of his."
"I am proud!" Teddy spluttered, tears pricking at his eyes which he wiped away swiftly with his sleeves. "I just can't help being selfish! I can't help wishing that things had turned out differently than what they have."
Neville, who had, until now, been refraining himself, leant forward to offer Teddy rather large, red handkerchief. He took it, too embarrassed at his emotions to say thank you and, for what seemed like ages, both teacher and pupil sat opposite each other in silence.
"You know, if you spoke to Harry, he would say that a wise man once told him that the one's we love never really leave us." Teddy looked up as Neville broke the silence. "It's sad that you never knew your parents but, through you, they live on. And through the memories of the people that knew them."
Teddy nodded as he handed back the handkerchief.
"Sometimes I imagine at night that I can hear them saying things to me. And I tell them the things that I've done with my day, and I can hear my dad saying well done, or my mum asking me questions about things…silly little things really." Teddy paused, frightened of not making sense, but continuing none the less. "And since I've come to Hogwarts I hear their voices more clearly than before and I think…I think that I know this is where they wanted me to be."
Neville smiled, sudden warmth flooding over him the cool, dimness of the Greenhouse. Perhaps all the boy needed was to feel as though he could talk to someone that understood? Perhaps things with Teddy would be alright after all?
"I just wish that I had known them…" Teddy's voice contained a longing that broke Neville's heart. "I know that they were great people and I would have been so proud of them. Proud to be their son….and I am proud…just like you're proud of your parents too." Teddy caught the Professor's gaze and held it as he said, "Me, you and Harry, we're all the same, I guess, aren't we?"
"It's getting late," Neville suddenly noticed, uncomfortable with his emotions inspired by Teddy's words. He was suddenly aware of just how long they had been sitting here, and how close it was to dinner time.
"Yeah," Teddy said, the spell breaking as he shifted uncomfortably in his seat before rising. "Thank you for the tea and biscuits and…everything."
"That's alright," Neville said, extinguishing the fire in the stove with his wand before moving towards the door. "If you need to talk, anytime, you know where I am."
"I might just do that, sir," Teddy said with a glint of mischief evident in his eyes. "But only if I can have more of that shortbread."
"You can call me Neville, you know?"
Teddy shrugged as Neville opened the door for him.
"If I did I'd never hear the end of it."
It was a wet, wintery weekend and Neville, after a particularly draining first few weeks of term, welcomed the relaxation offered to him by the hospitality of the Three Broomsticks. A cheery fire burnt brightly behind the grate and Neville flushed from more than the heat as he pushed his way to the bar to be met by a radiant smile from Hannah.
"What can I get you, Professor?" she asked, a little flirtatiously, and, after serving Neville his drink, she came to sit beside him.
"You look tired."
"I feel tired."
Hannah said something sympathetic before yelling over to a punter than had just entered to close the door behind them. "Managed to find any favourites yet? Anyone as mad about those daft plants as you are?"
Neville resented such comments but allowed them; after all, Hannah Abbot had developed a very alluring smile.
"No, I haven't found anyone that's quite like me. But, I think, I might have found a favourite." The comment peaked the landlady's interest, so Neville continued, "Teddy Lupin started this year."
"Is he that old already? Has it really been…?"
"Eleven years," Neville contributed with a nod. "It seems, sometimes, like all of that happened so long ago. And other times, when I talk about it to Teddy, like it only happened yesterday."
"It must be hard for him," Hannah observed. "To go to Hogwarts after everything's that happened…and for you to teach there as well. I don't think I could spend as much time as you do there…even after all these years."
"I love it though, I really do." Neville swirled the remnants of his drink before swallowing it. "You remember what I was like back in school?"
"A bit…Hap-hazard?" Hannah ventured tactfully. Neville laughed.
"You could say that…"
"But you weren't always like that. You grew into it. All those things you did with Harry…for the D.A…at the Battle. You were braver than you're giving yourself credit for, Neville."
Neville could feel the tips of his ears flushing.
"Yeah…well…after all that I kind of knew that I wanted to go back to Hogwarts. Someone was going to have to help it back to the way it was once. And I always liked Herbology."
"You're a sweet man, Neville Longbottom," Hannah said with a smile, placing her hand on top of his where it rested beside his glass.
After struggling with himself for a moment or two, Neville allowed himself to turn over his hand, pressing his palm against Hannah's, intertwining his fingers with hers.
"I try," he said.
On exiting the Great Hall after dinner Teddy halted before going up to the common room. He crossed the echoing Entrance Hall and stood beneath the silvery statue, once again looking up at the star.
"I'm sorry," a voice beside him said, causing Teddy to start and turn away from where his parent's names were etched in light. He saw, to his surprise, the Gryffindor girl from his Herbology class, the girl who had defended him, standing beside him.
"What are you apologising for?" Teddy asked.
The girl, who was rather pretty with wavy, chestnut hair, shrugged and said "For interfering. I should have just kept my mouth shut. They would have left you alone then and you wouldn't have got into trouble."
"I don't think it would have made much difference. Besides," he added as an after thought, "It was nice to know that I had someone to stick up for me."
The girl smiled.
"What's your name?" Teddy asked.
"Philomena Wood but everyone calls me Mena."
"You're not related to Oliver Wood, are you?"
Mena smiled more broadly than before, revealing a set of perfectly white teeth.
"He's my dad."
Teddy nodded and turned back to the statue.
"He was here too, wasn't he? At the Battle?"
Mena gave a small nod of her head.
"He hardly ever talks about it though. I can't say I blame him. He sometimes talks about the people that he fought with. Professor Longbottom with them…and Hagrid, and Professor McGonagall…" Mena trailed off and Teddy turned to see that she too was staring at the star, the same, strange feeling of affinity playing across her pretty face. She turned to him and, with the light of the star playing oddly in her eyes, said, "I'm so sorry that your parents died."
Teddy swallowed hard and suddenly felt as though a pressure which had weighed him down ever since he had stepped onto the Hogwarts Express lifted. Perhaps all it had taken was someone like Men acknowledging just what a sacrifice his parents had made?
"Thank you," he said in a voice close to a whisper.
Mena smiled, a smile that Teddy was finding gradually infectious and that made his stomach squirm, before turning on her heels to climb the stairs.
"Where are you going?" Teddy called after her.
"I've got to go and completely re-do my Defence Against the Dark Arts essay. According to Filch it was "dangerously subversive of school rules" and he confiscated it!"
A sudden thought occurred to Teddy and, jogging to catch up with Mena on the stairs, he whispered furtively, "We could go get it back."
"From Filch's office? Are you insane?" She laughed but, on seeing that he was deadly serious, said, "It's impossible. We'd get caught, if not by Filch or Mrs Norris, but by someone else."
"I don't think so," Teddy said tauntingly. "Not with the help of friends."
"Oh, really?" Mena retorted sarcastically. "And what amazing friends would these be?"
After casting a look around him to make sure that no-one else but Mena could see he pulled out, what appeared to be, a blank piece of parchment. Mena looked at Teddy, confused. And Teddy, his hair turning a mischievous shade of purple, said, "Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs".
Reviews are strongly encouraged. Let me know what you think and if you have any ideas for anything I could write in the future! xxx