i thought i'd already posted this last chapter, but i was wrong. i apologize, guys, truly i do. at any rate, i hope it's a satisfying ending for Just Friends. it's been six months since i first posted this remake of a previous story. seems so much longer than that. i haven't started any new fanfictions, but that's not to say i won't in the future. i do have a few ideas percolating in this brain of mine. ...both of them being HP/DM. maybe, since only one features NL at all, and only after he's dead...that would be why i haven't been all-fired to write them yet. neville is just my favorite character, period.
thank you reviewers, all of you who reviewed throughout the entire story. whether once, or twice, or every chapter. thank you all. but, those who reviewed last chapter: NLaddict, lynxzpanther, ReaderMike, farwalker, and Cazzylove.
this is really the last chapter guys. so long!
wednesday, 18 august, 2010. 2:05 am.
It was only after I'd calmed down that I thought to ask, "Oh, hey, where's Bill?" Draco snorted; "Asleep. All your emotional turbulence wore him out." This time, when I laughed, it was accompanied by a grinning flash of teeth from my friend.
… (chapter begins)
After a light meal, I immersed myself with my work, observing plant growth and taking notes, then cross-referencing old notes to new studies, then compiling past studies for future reference. It satisfies me to know should I ever need a particular item or note, it wouldn't require a week's worth of flipping through tomes and journals to find it.
Everything ordered and precise, a detailed system in place-for someone like me, I'd never get any work done without it.
As intensely focused as I was, I didn't realize Mathew was around until he ambled into my work area, moving with a comfortable ease gained through familiarity.
"Work, work, work. I swear, I don't think I've ever seen you just…pissing about."
"For me, this is pissing about. That's what comes from having a job you'd be doing anyway."
He laughed; "Was that an insult to my career choice?"
I glanced upwards, one eyebrow quirked; "Oh, so you consider it a career now?"
"Oh, that's not fair! I get enough of 'the look' from Draco, I don't need to see it on you too."
I grinned a bit, but was already turning back to the gently swaying fern before me-it was a crossbreed of muggle and wizard plant species, but so far, was the sole survivor of the only crop I'd been able to bear to adulthood. The infertility was problematic, and was something I'd have to work on for the next crop.
"Neville. …Neville. …Neville!"
My eyes never even left the page of my scrawled handwriting, my hand steady as I added to my notes.
"For the last time, I'm telling you Draco's fixed supper."
I gave an absent nod; "Ok, I'll be in, in a few."
Mathew left, and I reabsorbed myself in my notes, mentally ruling to leave at the next available break.
By the time I actually left the makeshift greenhouse and washed up in the kitchen, Draco and Mathew had finished their meals and sat talking over lukewarm mugs of fragrant tea.
"About time, you great lout."
Draco's voice was more knowingly amused than severe, and I glanced over at him even as I served myself a generous portion of potatoes and pork roast.
"Mathew called you in over an hour ago, Neville."
I blinked; "Oh."
Grey eyes rolled derisively as Mathew laughed, but I ignored them both as I sluggishly ate as much as I wanted, which wasn't as much as it should have been, considering I'd barely eaten all day. The roast was good, though, and I continued picking at it until absolutely sure I couldn't eat any more, at which point I pushed the plate aside in favor of nursing a cup of the bitterly dark tea I'd poured at the beginning of my meal.
Talk was easy for a while before the unobtrusive sound of the front door opening made me straighten with a grin, leaning over to watch Harry walk in from the front hall. His eyes caught mine and held, smile tired but pleasant as he walked over for a brief kiss in greeting, more of an impulse than with any real thought.
"I'm starved. Are you done eating this?"
Even as he asked, he grabbed my leftovers and shoved a fork of cold potatoes into his mouth while standing near the table, chewing rapidly and stealing my cup of tea to wash it all down before he thought to glance up and notice we weren't alone. A brief moment of confusion settled across his tired face as he stood there with the teacup to his lips, preparing for a second gulp of tea, but by the time he'd swallowed, the expression cleared.
Mathew didn't quite seem to know what to do about the man who'd suddenly appeared to walk in and know him…a man who'd kissed me like a familiar lover, when I'd never given implication to having a relationship with anyone.
I took pity on the man, turning to Harry and chiding, "Sit, Harry. You're so bloody rude."
He sat, claiming my plate and mug as his own.
Draco appeared a bit discomforted, but managed an amused glint in his eye as he turned to a confounded Mathew; "This is Harry, Mathew. He's Neville's husband."
"Husband? Since when?"
I stole my cup back from Harry with a vague frown, but responded to the question, "Two years, yesterday. We've been separated a while."
"Long enough for me to miss you coming into the picture," Harry quipped, voice largely amused, but anyone who knew him well enough would have heard the self-deprecation hidden there as well.
I rolled my eyes and waved a hand for him to get more food onto his plate, an edict he gleefully followed without hesitation.
Shoving warm roast into his mouth, he almost melted with pleasure, question muffled, "Oh hell, who cooked?"
"Mmf, Malfoy, I take back every snarky thought."
Draco's lip curled into a sneer; "Don't stress yourself."
Harry deigned not to hear, preoccupying himself with eating with the same fervor he's always shown, shoving food into his mouth and just barely taking the time to chew it before swallowing. I used to wonder why, but some of the things he told me about how he grew up gave some implication to where he might have learned to eat fast.
Instead of watching him eat, I got up and went into the kitchen, returning with a clean teacup and pouring him a hot cup of tea-he nodded in gratitude when I set it down near his plate, letting it cool a bit before sipping.
"You forgot the sugar."
His whine made me again roll my eyes; "Didn't forget, you lazy ponce. I just figured you were old enough to bloody well get it yourself."
"Hey, I worked hard today. I had to listen in meetings, learn some new protocol, and write loads of reports. I'm exhausted!"
Draco's voice was venomous, but it was easy to hear the laughter running beneath it-I think he missed having Harry around, though he'd rather slit his throat than admit it aloud. At any rate, he left with Mathew for the kitchen, giving us our privacy while gaining their own even though only to clean up.
"So, that was Mathew."
Harry's abrupt seriousness didn't faze me, nodding agreement.
He paused in thought before saying, "Never would have thought…. Hn, never mind. He seems a good sort."
"Good. …Merlin, I'm fagged out, I was serious about that, though I spent more time outside the office than in, today."
He rubbed at his eyes a moment, and I asked, "You staying here, or…?"
Glancing at me, he ducked his head with a sheepish grin; "Kind of hoped my room might still be open, actually."
"…There might be something available."
"Well…you going to show me your work?"
Harry's abrupt question startled me from where I'd felt myself start dozing in the floral-patterned chair in the den, ankle crossed at my knee as I'd watched him flip through channels on the tele-the set had remained fairly silent during his absence, as neither Draco nor myself have the drive to watch it very often.
He pegged me with a knowing stare, voice warm as he teased, "You're all dirty, I can smell it on you. You've been working-big surprise-so…show me what you've got done while I was gone."
"You can smell me? I washed before supper!"
Smirking, he got up and walked over towards me, running a finger down my neck and eliciting a cold flush from the contact, as well as a remembrance of the last time he'd touched me so intimately. After touching me, he pulled back and rubbed his fingers together, that smirk widening just enough to cause my skin to turn pink.
"You're gritty, Nev, covered in dust and," he bent down and placed his face sensually close to my neck, "you smell of old sweat and hard work. That, and I know you, and I know you'd work yourself to death if given the chance."
"He does, that."
Both of us jumped at the dry voice coming from the doorway to the front hall-I had to lean around Harry to see Mathew leaning against the doorjamb.
At my accusing glare, he allowed a playful grin to slip over his face, raising his palms as he backed up a step; "Whoa, hey, sorry, t'was an accident. Just came to take my leave, say 'ta' and all that, yeah?"
"With you, it's never an 'accident.'"
He snickered and entered the room, waiting for me to stand and receive a customarily good-natured kiss to the cheek, his facial features and tone mocking but his eyes serious as he stated, "Belated congrats, Neville, bein' happy and tied down. Figure the Serpent'll never go for it, but a bloke's gotta keep his dreams, now don' 'e? …Kinda pissed you never mentioned no bloomin' husband, mind, but I might see it in me to forgive you someday."
I nodded, mock serious, and he winked before turning to Harry, thrusting his hand out and shaking firmly when Harry responded in kind.
"Lovely to meet ya and all, Mr. Harry Potter, sir."
Harry frowned, suspicious, "I don't think I ever-"
"Like I wouldn't know who ya are, what with that scar and company included? Might not do magic, meself, but I keep in touch."
He pulled back with a jovial salute, and left us with a lazy, "See you around."
Once the bright entity that is Mathew left, Harry stood in a tired daze, mind still trying to wrap around the fact that Mathew not only knew him for who and what he was, but that he didn't seem to care. To Mathew, there had been more respect there for Harry having married me, than anything Harry did for the wizarding world. It was apparently a lot to take in.
I took pity on him, grabbing hold his hand and tugging him towards the stairs; "I'll show you my work in the morning."
A knee unceremoniously jabbed into my hip sometime in the early morning, waking me as I grumpily pushed against the offending limb. Harry mumbled something unintelligible when I shoved his leg away from me, and I smiled despite lingering grouchiness at having been woken before complete sunrise.
The light coming through the window was still a dullish, blue gray, and I slumped against the pillow and attempted to return to sleep-we'd not gotten much during the night.
The knee returned, pulling a low hiss of pain from me even as I angrily shook Harry awake, his breath hitching as his eyes shot open in panic before he relaxed enough to sleepily growl, "What?"
Guilty for forgetting what waking him too suddenly did, I nonetheless snapped, "Fucking stabbed me with your knee, you wanker!"
He half-sat up and thickly frowned through the muddled veil in his brain, blinking at my scowl and then at where his knee was still jammed against my side.
His expression instantly cleared; "Oh! Sorry, Nev."
He pulled his knee away, sleepy grin sweet and apologetic.
Though I was reluctant to immediately forgive, it was hard not to when he lowered back to the mattress only to lean in for a kiss to my bare shoulder, his hand reaching out and rubbing my chest. Then he settled back in against my side, hand stilling on my chest as his breath puffed gently against my skin.
After a few minutes, I mumbled, "Still awake?"
There was a pause, but he replied, "Mn…yeah."
"Have work today?"
There was an even longer pause following my low whisper, long enough that I thought him already asleep before he startled me by saying in an abnormally loud voice, "No, took this week off."
I grinned even as I let out a low hushing noise, and felt him smile sleepily, his arm sliding further on my chest to draw me even closer to his warmth. I hummed in contentment, his chuckle roughly audible as his embrace became even warmer and more awake.
His mouth migrated to my ear, voice husky as he whispered, "I used to dream of this, waking up here, with you."
"Funny…I used to dream of us fucking, but whatever gets your rocks off, yeah?"
He pinched me for the lilting joke, making me laugh and cringe enough to where I rolled to face him, my lips peeling away from my teeth in a grin. The grin widened at the way he eyed me, a predatory glint in his eyes moments before he ducked his head and pressed a kiss to my mouth, damp and hot enough to spread licking fire through my arms and legs.
His responding chuckle to my low expletive was dark and promising, and white fire licked at the soles of my feet, making my toes curl while I gave a delicious shiver.
It was late by the time Draco emerged from his room and made his way downstairs, and Harry had already accumulated three separate bandages for fingers on his left hand-he'd had an unpleasant encounter with one of my more 'untamed' plant varieties.
It wasn't my fault if he touched something I'd clearly steered him from, but guilt still prickled me into knocking up a hearty breakfast even he couldn't eat his way through in one sitting.
Draco appeared unnaturally grumpy as he ungainly slouched down into a wooden chair at the table when he finally joined us-truly grumpy, and not just appearing so.
Furrows lined his brow as a frown deepened on his face due to my genuine concern, his voice acidic as he charged, "I was fine until I heard the two of you shagging this morning. I'm now deeply and emotionally scarred."
"What else is new?" I teased, but a fierce blush bloomed from my hairline down beyond the color of my shirt, blood even rushing to Harry's otherwise stony face.
"I'll put up a silencing spell next time."
"You do that."
They leered at each other in defiance while I tried to drown my embarrassment with orange scones and tea.
But by the time Draco cleared his plate of sausage and eggs, the subject had dropped and been forgotten, talk turning to more mundane and safer topics. He even carried an entirely benign conversation with Harry without requiring my refereeing presence, and I left them alone to return to my plants.
Time can change things.
The sky was gray and overcast, threatening rain, but that didn't deter the sound of the trowel scraping through dirt and tough grass, removing weeds and unwanted growth. A low noise spilled from my throat, and I soon found myself humming an unidentifiable song, the melody that of a cheerful lullaby.
My work and humming didn't quite mask the sound of approaching footfalls, but I didn't pause until a whisper of cloth at my side and a light touch to my bent spine caused me to look to my right.
"It's looking right nice, Nev. He'd love the flowers."
I smiled, a touch saddened even as I pleasantly bared my teeth and glanced at the headstone, the grave well-kept.
"He'd like an apple tree better, I think."
Laughter sounded in agreement, fingers rubbing against my back now.
"Still can't believe you made a marker for a pet, Nev."
"What? Bill was more than just a pet!"
Harry grinned, leaning in for a kiss that had my protests melting away-he always could manage to do that to me, no matter how often I fought against it. Twelve years of fighting against the effect his presence still has on me, and I'd never come any closer to defeating it than I had from the very first.
"Come on, the Rotten Duo is due to show any minute, and Mathew bet me you couldn't spend one day away from work. I've ten quid and eleven knuts riding on this."
"I'm not working, I'm…resting."
Harry cocked an eyebrow and I had to laugh, teeth flashing as I gave in with a nod.
"Ok, ok, I'm nearly finished anyway."
Just a few more scrapes across freshly-turned dirt and I was satisfied, gathering my tools and pushing myself back onto my feet. My knees were shot from years of kneeling in dirt, but I wouldn't have given up my living for anything.
Still, I appreciated Harry's arm around my middle, steadying me as we began the walk back up to the house, the one left to me after the passing of my grandmother, after the passing of my parents nearly four years ago.
Our home now, mine and Harry's.