NARGLES

It was the evening of Slughorn's Christmas party, and Neville had never been that bored in his entire life. Sure, there were some interesting moments, like when he helped Hermione hide from Cormac McLaggen, or when he spied on Harry for Ginny, but all in all, it was a rather boring evening. It was even worse because he had to run around all night, serving drinks. It wasn't his fault he didn't make it into the 'Slug Club'.

Finally, he finished serving people, so he could take a break. He left his tray with Marcus Belby, who still hadn't finished serving drinks. He went to a table to drink some punch. The party was still going, although most adults had already left. Slughorn was still there, but he seemed quite drunk himself. Neville took a sip of the bright red mixture. The moment it touched his tongue, he tasted the bitterness of Firewhiskey and immediately spat it out.

"Who spiked the punch?" he asked no one in particular.

"I think it was Seamus" said Dean, appearing out of nowhere.

Neville turned around and looked at Seamus, who was jumping on a table, screaming: "Everybody dance NOW!"

Neville chuckled and asked: "How did Seamus get in here anyway? He's not in the 'Slug Club'."

Dean grinned and replied: "Yeah, I think he begged some fourth year to take him. And by 'begged' I mean that he said: 'Can I go to Slughorn's party with you? Okay, thanks', and then left her giggling with her friends".

Neville stared at Seamus, who was now trying to dance with McLaggen, who kept pushing him away. Neville decided to take the safe path and take some Butterbeer instead. By now, Seamus was making his way through the crowd. When he reached Neville and Dean, he took a deep breath and yelled:

"Dean, you're the best mate a bloke can ask for! I love you, man!"

Dean patted him on the shoulder and Seamus fell down.

Neville heard someone behind him muttering: "Oh great, looks like Seamus' passed out again".

Dean shook his head and placed Seamus' left arm over his shoulder.

"I better put this idiot to bed. And lighten up, Neville! It's a party, for Merlin's sake!"

Neville gave a non-committal shrug and drank some more Butterbeer.

"Hello, Neville" said a voice behind him.

He jumped and turned around quickly. It was Luna Lovegood.

"Oh, hi, Luna" he replied.

Luna tilted her head to the side and said: "I think a Ryefly might have bitten you, Neville. They have a tendency to make you quite jumpy".

Neville thought about asking what a Ryefly was, but decided against it. "No, no, nothing bit me, you just startled me, s'all".

Luna smiled at him and pointed upwards. When Neville looked up, he noticed a piece of mistletoe and immediately jumped backwards, blushing. Luna was looking dreamily at the mistletoe.

"You're very smart, Neville. It's obviously full of Nargles".

Neville was completely at loss here.

"What?" he asked.

Luna looked at him, her gray eyes so wide that Neville actually felt a bit scared.

"Nargles are creatures that infest mistletoe. There's a lot of them in this piece" she said.

Neville decided not to ask any more questions that could lead to such answers. He also decided to stay away from the Nargle-filled mistletoe.

"Who are you here with?" he asked Luna, who was now watching Slughorn dance.

"Oh, I came here with Harry, as a friend!" she said, beaming. "But Harry left. He said something about following Draco Malfoy".

Neville snorted.

"He's so obsessed with Malfoy this year, you'd think he has a crush on him".

Luna looked worried at the prospect.

"Oh, I do hope that's not true. Ginny would be very sad".

Neville nodded absent-mindedly and took another sip of his Butterbeer. Finally, the party came to an end. People were slowly starting to leave for their dormitories. While leaving, Neville noticed, with horror, that he had once again stepped under the mistletoe with Luna.

"Neville," she started dreamily, "why do people sometimes jump from under the mistletoe, but when I start talking to them about Nargles, they don't know what I'm talking about?"

Neville felt his face go red and his hands starting to sweat.

"Well, um, there's this tradition that when… when two people, um, step under mistletoe, they, um, they have to kiss".

Luna smiled at him kindly.

"You don't have to kiss me if you don't want to, Neville" she said.

Neville hoped that the ground would open and swallow him already.

"No, no, I want to kiss you!" he said hastily and then blushed even more. "I mean, um, I have nothing ag-against kissing you…"

Luna beamed at him.

"That's nice, Neville, because I quite want to kiss you as well."

Before Neville could say anything, Luna was all over him. He felt an incredible surge of panic go through him. What should he do? But as he thought this, the kiss was over and Luna was smiling contentedly.

"Thank you, Neville, that felt wonderful. Good night!"

She then left, leaving Neville standing there, confused, with his fingers on his lips.