Title: Beauty or Precision
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Pairing: Neville/Severus, Harry/Draco (side)
Warnings: Slash, language, non-con (ish), inexplicit sex with a minor
Summary: Neville didn't take stock in beauty. He had no need for it. Precision, however, was a different story.
Author's Notes: Happy Valentine's Day (though it's possibly 5 minutes late)! My first Neville/Severus, a gift to you. They are a highly underappreciated couple, and I don't know why. There's so much less standing in their way, versus Harry and Severus. Just Neville's ineptitude in Potions, and Severus's distaste of it. Enjoy, and please tell me if you liked it, or feel it needs improvement!
Beauty or Precision
Neville was not beautiful.
He wasn't being bashful or self-conscious or modest. It was simply the truth.
Perhaps he would've been more proud of his appearance if he had grown up with a mother who called him her 'handsome little prince,' but that was neither here nor there.
It was alright, though; he didn't take much stock in beauty. What good what it? You could look at it, admire it, but what could you do with it? Beauty didn't cure boils, it didn't heal the Cruciatus Curse, and you couldn't shield yourself from opponents with it.
Perhaps living in a war made one more practical, but Neville was sure there was no use for beauty in the world. He had once looked at his plants with pride at their lustrous leaves and lush flowers; now he looked at them with satisfaction for being the salve to burns and the alleviation of wounds.
Neville was more of a… precise man, he supposed.
The summer before his Sixth Year, his gran hired a Potions tutor for him. A nice Pureblood boy who could help with his unnatural proclivities to explosions. And failure.
He was beautiful. It was the first thing that Neville noticed about him. A proper Pureblood heir, with wavy chestnut hair and haughty blue eyes. He walked as though he was dancing, talked as though he was singing, and when he smiled, Neville felt the heavens had opened upon him.
He was a horrible tutor.
Potions had but one purpose in the world, he proclaimed. To make the world in awe of its splendor. One should make potions to watch incandescent wisps swirl across a cauldron's surface, or to waft the scent of ambrosia towards the nose. If one had to make practical potions (which was frowned upon), one could at least add a dash of violet petals or a sprig of spearmint to make it more visually palpable. Neville thought wryly that one would just ignore the side effects that said added ingredients would have on the potion besides attractiveness.
Neville learned absolutely nothing from his instructor, not even his name. Rather, he learned from what he wasn't supposed to do.
At first, Neville worked hard to please his teacher. His first few potions were so-so, and deemed acceptable. But the sixth time his Potions tutor came, Neville brewed an absolutely gorgeous Draught of Living Death. If valerian roots were used, the finished product would be a 'dreary shade of clear,' his tutor would say with a frown. Neville instead used the sweetly scented pink flowers of the plant, which helped the Draught retain its delightful shade of violet. Neville wouldn't advise using it on anyone, for he doubted even Professor Snape could tell him what it could do.
And the boy, pearly smiling whiteness shining, gave Neville his reward.
Neville considered it his punishment.
Looking down at their two entwined bodies, delicately rutting against a wall, Neville supposed they could be beautiful. How could they not, with one half of them being Perfection itself? The carefully timed thrusts, the tutor's alabaster neck gleaming in the torchlight, the velvet moans floating on the air.
It hurt like hell. Neville felt like a splintered wand was being jabbed up his arse. Honestly, if Neville hadn't read up on anal sex before his first (unexpected) time, he would've been utterly turned off from the idea of homosexuality. Had the man never heard of a prostate? He certainly couldn't find Neville's. And the Lubrication spell, while artistically pleasing, was not as comfortable as physical preparation.
So Neville stood there, awkwardly against the wall, feeling his educator smoothly plunge inside him, feeling as though he were watching an erotic film noir. And when the man finally reached his completion (with exaggerated breathing and a sweaty sheen covering his body), Neville just felt relieved.
This is what could happen every time you do a potion correctly, he whispered into Neville's ear.
And that was how Neville learned how to make accurate, not aesthetic, potions.
Neville had expected Snape to be of the same make as his summer tutor. He didn't know why; perhaps it was because five years of recollections had been blurry with fear.
But Neville should've known just from looking at Snape that he was not a man impressed by outward magnificence. No matter how the girls in his Year secretly gushed about Snape's large hands and deep voice, he was still ugly.
His nose was large, his hair was greasy, his face was shiny, and his body scrawny. But that was satisfactory to Neville; he was no great looker himself. He had a pudgy form, a round face, curly blond hair, and wide eyes that would always make him look innocent (no matter how jaded he had become).
Snape was, however, not inclined to be moved by a pretty face. He was a man who appreciated exactness and uncompromising standards. No matter how hideous a potion looked, as long as it was perfectly functional, Snape would accept it.
Neville learned this after his first vial of the year came back with a somewhat surprised-looking 'O.' And the one after that. And the one following that one. Until the 'O's started looked less astonished, and more expected.
Neville was waiting patiently to add the salamander blood to his Strengthening Solution. He had about five minute to spare, so he began unobtrusively observing his classmates.
They were all at different points of the spectrum, he noticed. Very few got precision, but not beauty, like he and Snape did.
There were some, like Zabini, who got beauty without accuracy. Neville thought with a wince that the handsome teen's solution had the potency of a Scintillation Solution.
There were those poor people who received neither in life. Neville tried not to look at Ron, who was no doubt throwing ingredients haphazardly into his cauldron. Crabbe and Goyle could be thrown into this category, too.
There were those who got both loveliness and correctness inside the Potions classroom, but that stopped when they walked out the door. Neville thought sadly of Hermione, who received (albeit reluctantly) 'O's in class, but couldn't even get Ron to look at her in the way she wanted. And how she didn't understand anything that existed out of a book, or something that went against society's norm. Not that Neville blamed her. It wasn't her fault she was Muggleborn, and that was the way she was brought up.
And then, there were the lucky ones. The people who were always beautiful and right, no matter what. Black and blond, green and grey. Harry got Malfoy, Harry killed Voldemort. Malfoy got Harry, Malfoy succeeded at Potions. They were altogether out of range for Neville. He accepted that, with a small amount of reluctance and wistfulness.
But Neville didn't need beauty. Perhaps he hadn't known that before Snape, but he did now.
After Snape had pushed him against a wall one day, and hastily unbuckled their trousers (how Neville was reminded of one summer day), Neville had never wanted beauty again.
Yes, there were no sideways glances, no coy flirtations, or ardently penned love letters. There was no need of them.
Their eyes just met one day, and they knew. They wanted this, each other, everything; even though both acknowledged it was far from beautiful.
Snape wasn't handsome at all, but oh! how he had accuracy. Every thrust exactly where it was supposed to be, perfectly timed, perfectly executed. In that there was some manner of beauty, he supposed hazily.
And after they both reached their completions (both, Neville repeated happily), Neville knew that he had no requirement of beauty.
He was content being a precise man.
A/N: Thank you for reading! Please, review; I would love to hear your thoughts.