Pairings: Neville/Luna, Neville/Hannah is mentioned.
Summary: An encounter with his past has Neville feeling empty.
A little drink never hurt the soul now and then. Neville Longbottom tipped back a few as he watched his plump little wife scurry all over her bar. It was her place, not his. He was her husband, through and through, but he belonged at Hogwarts, not the Leaky Cauldron. Hannah knew the faces and names and their little affairs and ordeals.
"Oh hello, Mr. Greene, how is your wife and new baby doing!" he would hear her exclaim while setting down several different types of mead to seven different men. Then she would glide over to another table, "Eleanor, how have you been since you've retired?" and she would already have that certain glass of red wine on her waitress tray, waiting for the woman to order it.
"Nev, you've been here for three hours, aren't you a bit bored?" Hannah rubbed her husband's arm sympathetically.
"No," he lied. "Just missing my own work, I guess,"
"Why not take a walk? You haven't been shopping round' here since last summer," she suggested, blue eyes glowing. Hannah loved Neville, there was no lying in that.
Neville took his wife's idea and headed out of the tavern and into the crisp August evening. The wind blew around the hem of his cloak, making it dance between his ankles. His hand went absentmindedly to his wand pocket. It was nights like these that had brought danger, and a sense of foreboding. Paranoia was natural to those who had survived Voldemort's demise. They had lived it for years. Instead of cursing the trash cans like a cracked up has-been, (which was what he felt like anyway), Neville took out his wand and placed it to the bricks that opened him to Diagon Alley.
A decade had passed. The successions of shops and trinket stores had been put to their former glories. Gringotts Bank was still the tallest structure, putting the buildings around it in a shadow. The Weasley's joke shop was doing better than ever, with Ginny running it in Fred's place. Wands, owls, books, ink, brooms- the sense of magic even leaked into the very streets of the place. It warmed Neville thoroughly, perking his mood more than the mead ever could.
Rounding the bend around Flourish and Blotts, he happened to look inside the old bookstore. There, mulling over the tiny fiction section was a familiar blonde head. Her cloak was neon green with giant radishes printed all over the back.
A smile twitched on Neville's face. 'It could be nobody different…'
He pushed open the door and the tiny bell chimed. Luna Lovegood poked her head and looked in the direction of the twinkle.
"Neville," she looked him up and down. "You look different,"
"Luna," he mocked her. "You look peculiar,"
A genuine smile washed over Luna's face. "I haven't seen you since the darkness faded,"
It was an odd sentiment, but pleasant anyway. Neville accepted her in an embrace.
"What have you been doing, Luna?" he asked.
"Oh, this and that. Mostly doing work for the Quibbler. I'm their number one source for Crumpled Horned Snorkack sightings!" she told him happily.
"That is…that is wonderful." Neville grinned sheepishly. "Found any yet?"
"Well…" she looked away. "No. But I did photograph a tail," her smile returned.
"I heard you've been teaching at Hogwarts, the plant class,"
Luna nodded. "Yes. I was never good at it,"
"Oh, you were alright," Neville mumbled.
"How would you know?" Luna laughed. It was rather like the tinkling of the store's bell. "We were a year apart!"
"Uhh, I forgot," Neville blushed. He hadn't in years.
She laughed harder, brushing his arm. He felt his flesh tingle beneath his cloak. Was he flirting? Or, was Luna anyway? His wedding band grew hot on his finger.
"Well, anyway. There wasn't anything I could use here. Mind walking with me for a bit, or are you busy?" Luna sounded somewhat hopeful in her earthy, misty voice.
Hannah's blonde hair, long and waving, flashed through his head.
"No…I'll come with you,"
And off they went. The streets weren't as busy in the twilight evening. Purple and orange light lead the way. At some point, Luna grasped Neville's arm, pulling him into random shops he had never seen. One sold only rare potion ingredients, like bicorn horn and powdered dragon scales. Another sold only antique items. They laughed together over a belching book set at twenty thousand Galleons. When they left a little thrift store, Luna placed the bright pink patched hat she had purchased atop her dark blonde head.
"How do I look?" she asked.
"Splendid," Neville told her.
They walked arm in arm up into an empty pasture. They were beyond the shops and people now.
"What a beautiful sky," Luna said with all the amazement of a child, surveying the moon and twinkling stars as though she had never seen them before.
Neville said nothing, but squeezed her forearm ever so slightly in a non-verbal response.
They sat down in the tall grass and hay fields. A pungent smell of heather clustered close to the dirt.
"I hope I haven't taken up your entire evening, Professor Longbottom," Luna said serenely, but she was stroking his hand with her own.
"N-never," he choked a little. He tried to picture his wife, at home tending the bar. But he couldn't get it right.
"Not for an old friend," he smiled.
She returned his grin, but outshined it. "Oh I always thought we were more than that,"
"What?" Neville was confused.
"I fancied you all during school!" she assured him, running her hand through his mess of dark hair. "When I saw you during practices in the D.A, your aura was blinding." Luna smiled again. Her hand froze on his blushing left cheek.
"I thought you knew that," Luna kissed him then. She tasted of sweet, vintage wine and cheap breath mints. There was a floral smell in her hair that reminded Neville of the petunias that Hannah put all over the Leaky Cauldron in little blue vases. Her hands held onto his hair, not tightly, but fondly. His were at her waist, in a way he hoped wouldn't damn him later. The kiss couldn't have lasted more than a minute.
But it left Neville breathless.
"Now you know what I felt," she held his hand. It was small, but her skin felt slightly rough like his always did.
Neville had been feeling so empty. His life at Hogwarts felt important enough. But watching Hannah barkeep and look so happy without him wasn't a good taste in his mouth. Numbness had stolen Neville, and made him hollow. But Luna was something that could fill it. She was the past. He was reminded of his triumphs and of his courage and bravery. Of how things used to feel.
But Neville was a married man. The hollowness seeped back into his veins.
"I'm married, Luna. To Hannah Abbott. Well, Hannah Longbottom," he said sullenly, but he held onto her hand.
"I know, silly." she said. "I just wanted to cheer you a bit,"
"Cheer me? I'm happy,"
Luna gave him a searching look. One without a smile.
"Only say things you mean, Neville."
They sat like that until his watch told him it was close to nine. He walked Luna back to Gringotts, where she wanted to make a withdrawal before leaving for Wales.
"See you," he said and began to walk away before Luna took his arm.
"I loved you, Neville. But I'm not a married woman." she said ruefully. "I don't intend to be one for awhile. I'm a bit of a wanderer," Luna said the last part in a whisper, as though it were a secret mission she wasn't allowed to speak about.
"Good, that's settled then." Luna straightened her pink hat. "I better be off," she began to walk away.
As Neville slumped towards the bricks that would lead him back to the tavern, Luna called over her shoulder,
"Be happy with your own, Professor. A hollowed heart has no room for happiness,"
Neville felt a smile once again twitch on his lips. He turned to thank her, but she had already vanished behind the bank's large gold doors.
He waltzed back into the Leaky Cauldron with a spring in his step. Although, he couldn't help but wonder if he would feel empty with the coming morning alongside his wife.