so, i've rewritten this. it was initially published in '05, i finished it in '07, and then i did a few awkward reworkings. but this time, i've rewritten the story in its entirety, though i changed very little of the initial storyline. basically, i just brought it up to a point where i didn't cringe every time i had to read it. so, if you remember this story from somewhere, now you know where.
let's see: this story involves slow slash. it also begins during Sixth Year. as it was began in '05, it's canon up to the point of the fifth book, but becomes fairly OOC from thereafter in the actual storyline. i also want to state that the beginning of the story takes place in school, so of course, there are the normal school hijinks and drama before the characters actually start maturing.
and, if anyone tells me that Neville Longbottom is not gay, or that i am a super fruit for writing about him in this context, i will extend a prominent finger at the screen and let that be that. ...and yes, i say this from experience. if i wanted Neville to suddenly discover he's a flaming pyromaniac with a penchant for kicking old ladies in the shin while sporting a greasy fu-manchu, i do have the right to portray him that way. i guess.
i do not, however, own the right to the initial characters and hogwarts setting. those are property of jk rowling. i don't make a profit from this, and all that jazzmarazz. also, i am not british. if you are british, please don't call me a yank. yanks are not american indians. thank you, and happy reading.
-- -- -- -- -- -- (Chapter Begins)
Fibers scratched my forehead and cheeks as I pulled my wool jumper over my head and down my torso, knowing the night air was a bit cooler out near the lake. Still, I pushed the sleeves up towards my elbows, smoothing the hair on my head a bit before heading towards the stairs to leave the sixth year boy's dormitory.
"Oi, Nev, where ya off to this time of day? Not another potions lesson?"
Ron's voice stopped me mid-stride, and I turned to see him kneeling before his open trunk, stuff piled next to his knees as he'd pulled it out to look for something near the bottom. Messy git, yes. At the moment, he was staring at me with acute curiosity, and I felt my ears turn pink.
"No, I promised to meet Derrick."
His cheeks brightened as he shook his head with a small grin; "Ah, I see. Have…fun."
Nodding to show that I appreciated the sentiment--as well as the intention of having 'fun'--I quickly turned and stumbled my way down the stairway to the Grffyndor common room, a fair amount of students lazing about for a Sunday night. Harry was seated close to the fireplace, deep in discussion over quidditch with Dean, but he still managed to catch my eye and give me a sly and knowing grin even as he gave a small nod in farewell. He already knew about my date with Derrick, as I'd mentioned it not long after my boyfriend pulled me aside to ask me to meet him. Harry's grin caused my flush to darken, but I flashed a pleasant grin at him before slipping from the portrait-covered entrance, making my way out of the school and to the lake.
Even by the time I got out to our usual meeting place, the sun hadn't quite sunk below the horizon, and watching its slow descent filled me with a sense of calm as I waited for my boyfriend to show. Derrick was…so sweet and exciting, his American accent fresh and exotic to me, even after nearly six months of dating.
As it was, it wasn't long before a calloused palm suddenly slipped over my eyes, further accompanied by a gentle kiss to my cheek in greeting.
My smile bloomed at the familiar throaty voice, and I pushed his hand aside as I turned to look at him, gaze bright and cheerful even as I admonished, "About time you came to keep me company, Der."
His only response was a rakish grin, his body moving so he could gracefully thud into place beside me, his arm sliding around my back as he took the time to lean over and initiate a friendlier and more welcoming kiss than the one to my cheek before.
Warmth spread through me as I returned it with a bit more cheer than my norm, but when his tongue predictably began to play at the crease between my lips, discomfort and uncertainty pooled in my gut, tension spreading across the nape of my neck. Despite my slight unease, I didn't protest or pull away, pushing myself to return his kiss and give him access to the inside of my mouth, sure that the only way to get over…this…would be to allow him to continue.
Emboldened by my compliancy, he settled his hand upon my knee, his breath warm against my skin as he deepened the kiss and moved his hand further, to my thigh, and then slowly inching almost spider-like upwards, my fear mounting the further he went. It was when he was very close to brushing against my groin that I froze completely, struggling to breath past the obscure panic; my inner conflict only resulted in my flinching as I jerked away from him completely, hating the feeling of color draining from my face as I stared at him in stark horror.
Frustration furrowed his brow, and his words were harsh with desperation and an edgy longing for me to get over my fears of intimacy, "Why can't you ever trust me?!"
"I'm s-sorry, but I…," my voice was shaky and thin, my body trembling, and hurt prickled my spine when thinly-veiled disgust and irritation pooled into his gaze.
"I really like you, Nev, 'cause you're so fucking sweet and cute…but god damn it, I can't stand you when you're so fucking shy! Why is it that whenever I get the tiniest bit more intimate, you freak out on me? It's been six bloody months!"
"Please, I'm trying…." I had to force the whine past the thick knot in my throat, tears threatening to take hold in the corners of my eyes and make themselves known on my face. It's not that I haven't tried to get past this, that I haven't wanted to take things further between us, but my body just…panics.
He continued glaring for a few moments before sighing, his shoulders slumping downwards as he looked away, staring at the darkening horizon before he stated, "No…I'm tired of waiting around as you try. …This isn't working for me anymore, and…just…just forget about trying to write me over the hols."
Having spoken his piece, he picked himself off the ground and left me behind as he walked back to the castle, his demeanor borderline gloomy as his fists found their way into his denim trouser pockets. The tears from before were forgotten in the abrupt shock of our breakup, my mind numb as I sat as I was for a good twenty or thirty minutes.
It was the colder night air that finally convinced me to head inside, shivers running down my spine despite the wool jumper as I clumsily stood and walked back up to the dormitory. Unable to face anyone at the moment, I unobtrusively slid in the dorm and up to bed, curling up beneath my blanket and staring into the darkness for a few hours before finally falling asleep.
--- --- ---
The next morning, I was able to keep myself numb as I went around with my routines of meals and classes, barely keeping up with everything that needed done. The events of the night before remained shoved to the back of my mind, a place where I normally store unpleasant matters in my life so I can function as normally as possible. Some days, it's the only way I manage to keep going.
But, seeing his face throughout the day, catching fleeting glimpses between classes…it forced the hurt to constantly seep back into the forefront of my mind, my body stuttering while remembering his smile, or how it used to make me feel when he'd glance up and catch my eyes, his grin beaming at the sight of me.
Somehow, I managed to take notes as required during class, but my mind constantly drifted back to Derrick, back to his penchant for American phrases, or when he slipped into a British saying without even thinking about it…more so after he'd started dating me. He used to laugh and say I'd 'rubbed off on him'.
It wasn't so good to think of those things, not good at all.
I had a potions lesson after dinner, and I quietly made my way to the dungeons, still functioning on automatic as I spread out my tools and ingredients and began to follow spoken instructions given to me by my snappish tutor.
"No! Just the leaves, you ponce, not the whole fucking root!"
My hands were forcibly jerked away from the bubbling cauldron before me, and I shakily dropped the roots I'd almost added without real thought of the consequences. I'd only almost caused an flesh-eating, acidic leak through the cauldron, no big deal.
"Hell, Longbottom, I thought you were actually improving. How did I ever get myself talked into working with such a complete imbecile?"
The sour voice was pitched with excessive ire, Malfoy grumpily adding the leaves I should have before he took the time to pinch the bridge of his nose. He, for whatever reason, agreed at the beginning of term to tutor me once or twice a week so that I could get beyond the failing grade I'd been faced with in Potions.
And even though the reprimand wasn't all that harsh or even undeserved, my face twisted up with sudden tears before I hid in my palms, my sobs sudden and noisy, everything catching up with me at last.
Somewhat panicked and disgusted, Malfoy managed to snap, "Do behave more like a man, Longbottom, and spare the both of us. Only children carry on when smacked."
Shaking my head in denial for that being the reason behind my tears, I managed to choke out, "H-he doesn't want anything to do with me anymore!"
I heard him sigh and groan in the same breath…and at any other time, I'd be in awe of the ability to do so, so effectively, but at the moment, I wasn't of the right mind to care.
"Am I to assume this is about that bloody Ravenclaw?" His tone was dry and weary, and I gave a short nod, my tears already slowing as I managed to temper myself. It's never wise to be 'weak' in front of Malfoy; it's practically suicide.
He snorted; "Good riddance, I say. You're much better off without that git. Besides…he's Ravenclaw. Although, I must admit, Ravenclaws are probably better lovers than any Gryffindor, by far."
The words didn't make me feel any better, and I sent a brief glare in his direction before I took the time to wipe my eyes and cheeks on the sleeves of my robes, completely ignoring his horrified sneer at the crass action.
After a moment, I turned red with belated mortification, stumbling over my words, "S-sorry I went off."
"Whatever, Longbottom. Next time, make sure you cry on one of those friends of yours, and not myself." His snort was brief and vaguely affronted, and it made me smile even as I turned back to the neglected potion, chewing my lower lip as I forced my mind to return to the process.
We worked in silence for a while, before he grudgingly asked of me, "You're not going to jump from the astronomy tower in the wee hours of the morning, are you? Rush out to the Forbidden Forest and kick a centaur? Slip to the bottom depths of the lake to rest with the merpeople?"
My laughter felt good, and I responded amiably, "Of course I'm not going to kill myself, you wanker. It just all caught up with me at once is all. You just happened to be the first person I told…dunno if I should say anything to anyone yet, anyway."
"Why? Too ashamed to let your little friends know you were dumped for being a complete and utter lackwit?" His sneer was haughty, but it didn't fool me; he was deathly curious. The git.
"He got tired of waiting for me to 'put out' for him." My eyebrow rose with distaste at the notion, something I've most certainly learned from Malfoy; if you're going to learn something, learn from the best.
His reaction to my statement was exactly as I'd anticipated; he shuddered with disgust before snapping, "Don't say things like that! I don't like to think about your kinky perversion…oh bollocks, I do believe I will be quite scarred for life now, Longbottom."
A small grin graced my face, and his scowl deepened. Oooh, I'm shaking in my robes.
It wasn't much longer before we finished and he grudgingly stated, "This should be the last of our lessons, you really don't need any more of my help to pass…even as hopeless as you are. And…well, as much as it pains me to admit, you've proven to be a better pupil than I might have guessed."
He paused and added in mock serious, "My word, was that the very thread of existence unraveling? Have I truly said the unspeakable?!"
I didn't allow my deep-seated pleasure to show, knowing that if he discovered just how much his words affected my self-esteem, he'd be forced to throw in something truly snide and acidly cutting to cover it up. I mean, he's only Malfoy, after all.
After cleaning up the supplies, I made ready to leave, only turning on afterthought. Truthful, I said, "I do consider you a friend, Malfoy, you know. If you ever need a favor…you know I'm far too nice to refuse it."
He rolled his eyes with contemptuous amusement at the obvious self-deprecating comment I'd made…and a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. An honest smile. Perhaps he'll actually keep the thought in mind.
"Oh…and Malfoy? Don't hurt him."
His resulting look was innocent, almost as if to say that I was off my rocker to believe that he'd be capable of anything of the sort, but I know exactly the sort of things he's capable of.
Thus, I narrowed my eyes with suspicion as I pressed, "I mean it, I don't want him hurt. Even though I appreciate the thought."
He sneered, and I snickered as I left the dungeons and headed back to the tower. But I wasn't going to delude myself into believing he'd listen; in fact, I wouldn't be surprised to hear of Derrick ending up having to visit Madame Pomfrey sometime within the next few days. More than a few visits, even.
Draco certainly isn't all that nice or pleasant, I know this; I also know what he could do if he put it into his mind to make a person suffer. During our first few lessons together, he'd harassed and sneaked curses at me whenever I let my guard down…which was nearly all the time. That is, until one of his spells forced my blade to slip and knick a finger, causing me to uncharacteristically snap and shoot off a hex of my own. A very nasty and messy hex.
Thus, I'd earned some iota of respect from him--having to stopper up various liquids leaking from your ears at random intervals tend to have that effect--and a tentative friendship grew. And the most surprising? Draco can be a relatively amusing person. Twisted, but amusing. Considering his background, his form of humor was foreseeable, especially as his humor was one of the few things keeping his sanity in line.
When I returned to the tower, the common room was deserted except for Harry and a few lower years of our house; I recognized one fourth year, and two third. But, as I wasn't yet tired, I made my way over to sit beside Harry, my feelings and facial expressions glum.
He glanced up from his reading, his brow scrunched with the effort of actually studying and retaining what he read, but then his forehead puckered instead with concern as he saw my countenance.
"Malfoy give you trouble?"
"No," I sighed, "Derrick broke up with me last night."
His book snapped shut and he set it aside, turning to better look at me as he demanded, "Why didn't you say anything?!"
The faint light of the common room caused his glasses to flash, but it was easy to see his concern and agitation, and I gave another weary sigh, "I don't know."
"Don't know what?"
"…Why I didn't say anything earlier. I've been trying not to think about it."
"…He didn't hurt you, did he?" I saw the way his eyes flicked over me, quickly scanning for any injuries I might be trying to hide.
"No! Of course not! I'm fine, Harry, I promise."
We fell into silence after his reluctant nod, until he broke it with a rueful, "I finally talked to that Hufflepuff today, the one I've been eyeing a while. It went well…except for the fact I made him so nervous he was squeaking with every other breath."
My laughter caught the both of us by surprise, his eyebrows shooting upwards as I exclaimed, "Harry, you'd make anyone nervous…you're Harry Potter!"
He scowled with vague irritation at the reminder, "I don't make you nervous, now do I?"
Rolling my eyes, I expounded, "Well, I know you. There's a difference."
Sighing, he allowed himself a brief pout, but slid a grin at me eventually, "Yeah, I guess."
When I gave a satisfied nod, he laughed and poked me in the ribs with his bony elbow, changing the topic to some of the coursework we have in common, clearing up requirement details and discussing various answers we'd already come up with.
Not long afterwards, we wordlessly agreed to call it a night, heading up to the dorms and into our beds.
Because of the late night, I was one of the last of our year to wander into the Great Hall the next morning, scratching my head with a yawn and flicking my eyes over to the Ravenclaw table on ingrained instinct, only to stumble as I saw Derrick's stormy face. The eggs on his plate were decimated by repeated stabbing mutilation, a muscle standing out along his jaw line. I turned my gaze to Malfoy, his pointed face expressionless until he caught me staring, his mouth curving into a smirk. Merlin, he's a bastard.
My curse came out more of a groan beneath my breath, but I forced myself onward to our table, my mates hiding grins behind their hands except for Ron, his face red with the effort of keeping his braying laughter in.
I sat down with an unaffected air, and Ron finally blurted, "Neville, why is your boyfriend's hair flickering between pink and blue?"
Loud guffaws sounded as people lost their fight, and I sighed, leaning forward to begin loading my plate.
"Well, for one, he's not my boyfriend anymore, and two…that's basically why he's hexed." I stopped and looked at my plate, dubious. Did I really want to eat all of this? Well, no, not really, but I should.
"Since when?" Hermione pressed, surprised that she hadn't known.
"Since he dumped me day before last," I replied around a mouthful of toast.
"Who hexed him?" Dean asked, looking down the table at us before glancing back at Derrick.
"Can't say for certain. Just want people to leave him alone, though."
My glance was meaningful as I looked around, catching the end of Seamus' disappointment--he would have wanted to pull something, he never liked Derrick. Ignoring various other attempts at information, I continued eating until it was time to head to classes.
It was during Potions that I had a chance to talk to Malfoy, seeing how I'm permanently paired with the arse.
As soon as we had a moment, I hissed, "There was no need to do that."
"Do be thick somewhere else, Longbottom, I don't have time for obscurities." His reply was lazy, his hands deft in expertly shaving a curl of some chalky substance into our cauldron.
"I told you not to do anything to him," I expounded, grinding it out between clenched teeth while glancing to see if Snape was paying any attention to us in particular. And by 'us' I really mean 'me'. I was free for the moment; however, as he was sniping at someone for sneezing into their potion.
"I believe your exact words were that I wasn't to hurt him."
At that moment, I hated his overly smug face, my eyes narrowing, unable to refute that on a technicality, he was right. However, had I the nerve, I'd show him the difference between what a person says, and knowing what they really mean.
Before too long, the rumor going around was that I'd hexed Derrick out of revenge for standing me up, our breakup suddenly one of drama and tension. Anyone who knew me at all knew the subject of Derrick was murky to bring up, usually causing me to withdraw for a time before bouncing back, and that the rumor was even worse, setting my teeth on edge in anger. I didn't bother trying to set it right though, seeing as how the term was nearly over anyway--nobody was going to remember this come next fall.
-- -- -- -- -- --
A/N: as this story is already complete, i'll probably be able to update about once a week. give or take.