My first ever non-Weasley story! Though it barely is, because I just can't write a story without them...
This was written for the "Going away" challenge at the Sober Universe forum, and is dedicated to ToManyLetters.
Once he realised what the unfamiliar feeling was, he recognised that envy was not an attractive or desirable emotion, but he could not deny that that was what he felt.
They had been in Madam Malkin's, Neville and his grandmother, and he had been standing still for what felt like hours having his school robes fitted. His first school robes. He would be leaving for Hogwarts in two days time. He did not know whether he should be feeling excited or nervous - deliriously happy to be getting away from the restrictions of life in his grandmother's house (and the frequent visits to St. Mungo's, that always made him feel uncomfortable and obscurely guilty); or scared stiff to be going somewhere where his lack of magical abilities (okay, he wasn't officially allowed to do magic yet, but most wizard children did a heck of a lot more accidental magic than he had ever managed) and lack of confidence would be so blindingly obvious. Mostly he felt numb.
But then, just as the fitting session was finally coming to an end, the Weasley family (or some of them, anyway) came in to the shop, and Neville found his numbness beginning to ebb. Mrs. Weasley greeted his grandmother with a slightly distracted air, one eye on the twins, who were squabbling amiably about whose turn it was to have robes fitted this time. Little Ginny, with a sulky expression on her face, was clutching her mother's hand and whining about how unfair it was that she wasn't going to go to school, and Ron – who Neville knew would be starting at Hogwarts along with him – was bringing up the rear, glowering fiercely.
"How come Fred and George get new robes, and I get old ones?" he moaned.
His mother clicked her tongue impatiently. "You know perfectly well why, Ronald," she snapped. "One set of Charlie's old robes won't do for both the twins, so they have to have some new ones. Bill's old ones will do you fine."
"Bill's and Percy's! Not even second hand – third hand! I hate being the youngest!"
Neville saw his grandmother giving Mrs. Weasley a look in which sympathy was mixed with definite relief at only having one child to kit out for school.
"Stop complaining , Ron!" his mother ordered. "Now, Fred, it's your turn to be fitted…"
"I'm not Fred, I'm George," the boy she had addressed protested, but his twin intervened.
"No you're not. I'm George, and it's your turn!"
Fred scowled, but allowed Madam Malkin to put some Hogwarts robes round his shoulders, and to begin fiddling with the hem and the sleeves.
"Come on Neville," his grandmother commanded. "We still have to go to Flourish and Blott's."
Neville smiled shyly at the Weasleys as his grandmother shepherded him out of the shop, wondering quite what this strange new emotion tugging at the corner of his mind was. George and Ginny (who had obviously decided that sulking was getting her nowhere) grinned in return. Fred was too busy wriggling under Madam Malkin's ministrations and being ordered to stand still by his mother. And Ron continued to frown and grumble. Neville distinctly heard him mutter, "Wish I got new books, not second hand ones. I don't get anything new," and saw Mrs. Weasley glare at her youngest son as he shut the shop door behind himself and his grandmother.
The unfamiliar feeling was still there as they bought his textbooks (a frightening number of them, Neville thought), but his eleven year old mind still didn't recognise it for what it was.
It was the following morning, as he was helping his grandmother pack his school trunk for the first time, that Neville realised what the feeling was.
He had new robes, new books, a new cauldron. Even a new toad.
Ron had old books and third hand robes. His wand was probably not new either. (Neither was Neville's own, but at least it had belonged to his father, who was a hero.)
His grandmother had read him a lecture on how lucky he was as they queued in Flourish and Blott's. Not everyone – she did not mention the Weasleys by name, but Neville knew that was who she meant – was lucky enough to be able to afford new things for school. A lot of boys his age had hand-me-downs, not the nice, new, expensive things he, Neville, was getting.
But Neville envied Ron Weasley.
Neville had new robes and books.
Ron had brothers to laugh with, play with, fight with, to look out for him at school.
Neville had a wand that belonged to his father, who had been a hero.
Ron had a little sister, who would miss him when he went away, and a mother who would see him off at Platform 9 ¾ with tears in her eyes.
(Neville's mother might – though he doubted she would – wonder vaguely where the boy who used to visit with the old lady had gone.)
Neville envied Ron Weasley.