Title: An Outing (It's Going to Be All Right)
Author: swissmarg / SwissMiss
Warnings: Infidelity, comma splices
Pairings: Hannah/Neville, Hannah/Lee
Summary: Hannah and Neville hire Lee Jordan to help with the pub.
Author's Notes: Written for the Rarepair Shorts Number Game Ficathon 2009 on LiveJournal. I hope it's okay that this is slightly longer than the recommended 1500 word limit on fics posted to this community. Also hope it's okay that there is a none-rare pairing in here as well. *is nervous*
Beta-read by Jawgeenar. I must make the disclaimer, however, that any remaining suckiness in the quality of this fic is mine. Jawgeenar made many fine suggestions that I ended up not implementing, mainly for stylistic reasons. So if you know Jawgeenar and think, 'How could she have approved of the crappy character development in this fic?', well, she didn't. That's all mine. ;-)
It had been Neville who suggested bringing Lee Jordan in. Well, George had actually been the one to mention Lee's name, but Neville had seen that Hannah had her hands full and then some with the pub, and what with him needing to be at Hogwarts so much, he couldn't help her out as much as he would have liked to; not nearly as much as she needed, at any rate. Neither Neville nor Hannah was really any good with the books and dealing with suppliers, anyway. The whole reason they'd taken over the pub was because Hannah loved the customer side of things. Hearing stories over a nice slice of pie, giving friends a place to meet and laugh, taking pride in a well-drawn pint: That's what she wanted to do. Not haggle over the price of potatoes or track down the overdue shipment of Ogden's, and certainly not deal with the licenses and permits and who knows what the Ministry would come up with next to gouge honest businessmen... or at least that's what it seemed like.
And so Neville had said he'd talk to George, because George knew everyone, and if there was anyone about who might be available to come in and handle the business side of things, George would have a name for them in a matter of hours.
Neville was considerate like that. That was definitely one thing Hannah had to say about Neville: He was considerate.
And so Lee had come up from Birmingham that very weekend, and he and Neville had spent a lot of time talking about people that one or the other of them hadn't seen since back then, until Hannah had gotten impatient and asked Lee if he didn't want to take a look at the books and the store rooms, and Neville had said, 'Oh gosh, I didn't know it'd gotten so late, I have to get back to oversee Stebbins' detention. Caught him smoking in Greenhouse Three again. I don't know what it is, but they always go for Greenhouse Three.' (Lee could have told him it was because of the Pontaweed, but he didn't want to ruin things for the students.)
As soon as Neville had left, Hannah had felt a bit shy, which was odd, because she was never really shy, and this was just Lee, after all, and he was only here to help with the numbers.
Lee hadn't seemed to notice Hannah's discomfiture, just showed all of his perfect, white teeth and said, 'After you,' and winked, and then Hannah had felt a blush coming on and made sure to walk very straight so that nothing wiggled that might be construed in that way. As a landlady who often had to deal with rowdy boys and randy wizards deep in their cups, it was a walk she was familiar with.
Of course, Lee had been a perfect gentleman, and had continued to grin and nod as she showed him around, asking all the right questions, and by the end, she was at ease again and laughing with him over an anecdote about George. So that was all right.
Neville had seemed relieved that things were going to work out with Lee, and even offered him a room at the inn when they drew up the contracts, but Lee had just laughed and said he had his own place, and he'd looked at Hannah when he said it. After he left, she thought she was reading too much into it. He'd looked at Neville, too, and why shouldn't he look at her? She was there, wasn't she? And really, this was her business, although Neville's name was on all the papers along with hers. So she was the boss, and Lee was working for her. To be perfectly honest, she wasn't entirely comfortable with the situation, because it always seemed like he knew how things worked better than she did, but that's why they'd hired him, after all. She and Neville.
That's how things had started, then, and maybe Hannah had known from the beginning that it was really a start and not just a hiring, and maybe that's why she'd gone ahead with it, although at the time she had really felt like she was being swept along, unable to fight the current that Neville (and George) had set in motion. She'd felt that there was a current, though, and that it might be something that ought to be fought against, but she hadn't seen any real reason to, and so she'd just walked her keeping-everything-in-place walk and been anxious to see where they would all end up.
Neither one of them had really made the first move. They'd just somehow ended up in the little converted pantry that Lee used as an office, breathing into each other's necks and wondering what to do with their hands, but they'd figured that part out pretty quickly, too.
It's not like Hannah was new at this.
Only she was new at it, because she'd never cheated on Neville. Not ever. Not even at Hogwarts during seventh year, when Nott had said he'd put in a good word for her with Snape if she'd do him a favor, but she'd taken the detention instead, and it hadn't hurt that much, not as much as the shame of going with Nott would have.
The whole time she was kissing Lee, Neville was there in the back of her mind. Lee was shorter, more slender, firmer and sweeter. He was always 'something'-er. Never just Lee.
The one time she'd gone with him to his flat, they'd just fooled around on the sofa a bit; it had felt too awkward, too forced, and Hannah had made an excuse about having left something on the fire back at the pub.
It wasn't all about the physical side. Hannah just liked having someone around to taste her soup or tell her she had flour on her cheek, someone who was funny and not grumping about students having a dirt fight or Mrs Norris scaring the living bajeebies out of him, or where McGonagall thought he was going to get enough Lumpapods for all the third-years if the school wouldn't pay for them.
Sometimes, Hannah thought that Neville had never moved on and grown up. She had, though, and George had, and Lee, and one Thursday, she told Neville that she was taking the afternoon off and going to Loch Lomond with the two of them, and Neville said he thought that was a good idea, as she spent so much time indoors (although when he said it, he had that little furrow between his eyebrows that Hannah knew meant he wasn't entirely happy, but if he wasn't going to say anything, then she wasn't, either), so they hung a sign on the pub and Hannah packed up a picnic basket and gave Neville a peck and Flooed over to George's shop.
They spent a couple of hours hiking around the lake, the three of them, before they ate, and then George conveniently wandered off, calling something over his shoulder about the two of them behaving themselves. Hannah looked at Lee and they laughed and Lee grabbed her hand and pulled her behind him, running down the hillock towards the shore.
When he stopped, she didn't expect it, and ran right into him, but he caught her and took in her blond hair, flying out loose from her braid, and, still breathing hard from running, put both hands under her jaw and kissed her. Hannah thought for a moment she was going to cry. She would have, too, if she hadn't held her breath and kissed him back and felt his good, firm back under her hands.
He pulled her closer and she leaned into him and smelled the dark, cold water of the Loch beside them and thought that that smell would always remind her of Lee, and at that moment, she knew she was already saying goodbye.
'I can't do it, Lee,' she said, when she could breathe again.
'I know,' he said, and he didn't even really seem sad, just knowing.
He pulled her down to sit next to him on the ground and didn't even say anything else, just picked up one pebble after another and tossed them into the water, which gave a little gulp with every one it swallowed. There was a cool breeze blowing at their backs, and Hannah had her hand tucked up around Lee's arm.
After a bit, George was standing next to them, and Hannah knew it was time to go. Lee held her hand on the way back, and when he let go so they could Apparate away, she found one of the pebbles in her palm.
When Hannah told Neville that Lee wouldn't be working for them anymore, Neville got that little furrow again and asked why not, but Hannah just put her arms around him and pressed her nose against his cheek and said, 'I need you,'and Neville didn't ask anything more, just kissed her like he used to. And so that was all right.