Disclaimer: Me no own.

I'm on a role. Currently surrounded by RedVines and trying to find $7.99 in dimes and nickels so I can buy the four-pound bucket. (There's about 208 RedVines total in there, I calculated myself.) This is an apology fic to Victoire, because I always make her out to be the enemy. I hate her sometimes, but sometimes I also think there would be no Lily/Teddy without her. And so I love her, and she very much deserves Neville's awesomeosity. Also, credit to mew-tsubaki for the pairing!


paint a smile, pretty girl

just stand still,
look pretty

It's the usual failed-relationship-type cliché. At first, in her mind, she assumes it's just a fling, just a one-second-glance and then you blink kind of thing, because after all, all that happens is her skirts get a bit shorter and there's a bouncier curl in her hair, and maybe, if you squint reallytrulydeeply hard, you can see the tiniest hint of a sparkle in her stark sky-blue eyes.

(But in her heart, in that broken-and-sewn-together-countless-times heart wearing the worn and frayed Gryffindor scarf he leaves in her possession and never really comes back for it, she knows that The Kiss, the one where she'd wrapped her arm around his firm waist and pressed herself against his wiry chest and smashed her lips against his like something reckless as his hands became tangled in those seductive blonde curls, was nothing like she will ever, ever experience.)


He comes to Weasley parties, because he has no value for his life, she decides. He stands there, and maybe a little bit, while the younger children gather around him with eager eyes and an insatiable thirst for War stories, she can see the courageousness, the fearlessness in those world-weary, tired eyes. Teddy won't look at her and Dominique only glares at her and when everything comes down to nothing, she can always count on his bravery.

(But damn it all, Gryffindor, when he walks over to you one night. Because they're never actually supposed to talk. She knows the rules. Kiss, fall, b-b-break, longing. What is with this rearranging madness all of a sudden?)

"We need to talk," his rough voice murmurs softly, his gaze nothing-if-not-something.

She blinks for a bit before regaining her cool, smoothing a hand through that impeccable hair and shaking her head. "Professor," she utters awfully professionally, and she thinks maybe I should be an actress instead of all this Herbology crap. (But truthfully she's brilliant at it and could do great things, the only thing holding her back is she gets teary every time she sees those gorgeous plants 'cause all that comes into her mind is that gorgeous thing she maybeonceuponatime had.) "I don't believe we do."

"It's Neville, now," he says back gently, an amused-but-confused expression on his unshaven face.

"Neville, then," Victoire replies, avoiding his stare. "I don't think that we really have anything to talk about, Neville, because it's not as if anything that had meaning happened between us and it's very obvious all you want to do is forget."

She's only seen him angry once. Once, the night that Hannah and he make the divorce official, he comes to the Potter's to talk, the same night she'd been hanging out with Teddy (before Lily had become something more than a best friend in his eyes, the arse.) He yells and turns pink and cries just a little bit and Harry manages to calm him down, but for a second when she enters the kitchen for a glass of water she sees the animal, the flame that killed the snake until he settles down again apologetically.

But now, there is that familiar glint of red in those dark blue eyes as his face flushes ever-so-slightly. Turning on his heels, he heads straight out into the back door of Shell Cottage, where a sand-covered path leads to the beach, untouched and flawless, especially against its navy night background. Reluctantly, she follows him, the wind biting at her bare skin and his figure solid in this world of blur.

"What happened between us," he begins, "people may think was a mistake. People might think it was wrong, people might think it was fantastic. But to me? Me? I thought it was the best thing that has ever happened." Don'tbelievehimdon'tbelievehim the part of your mind that dissolves every time a boy pushes her away and gets that dreamy look in his eye for someone else urges. But the sincerity in his eyes, the emotion, makes her step closer, and it will be the death of her.

She bites her lip and takes in a deep breath. "I can tell when you're lying," she declares boldly, untruthfully. "So don't you dare try."

"Wouldn't think of it," he responds without missing a beat, and dareshesay it, she feels beautiful.

Victoire closes her eyes and considers surrender. "How do I know you won't still want me in the morning?" she whispers, the wind almost swallowing her weak words.

His voice is suddenly by her ear, his hot breath tickling the side of her cheek. "Because," he says, "you'll only have to trust me."

"And if I can't?"

"Then don't."

She smiles, only just a little bit. "The night is still young." Her grin is widening uncontrollably.

"And so are you," he replies, the tiniest sprinkle of sorrow in his tone.

The moon is high in the sky, a crescent, glowing like an angel's halo. It shines above them, content in its own little world. Yes, she is young, but she glows as bright as the moon's age, sparkles. She loses and gains, gives and takes. Told from a different point of view, you may be the bad guy.

Neville offers out his hand, hope ebbing into her.

All hesitation gone, she slips her hand into his, and thinks, after all that has been taken, everyone deserves something good in their life.