M is for Murder

Disclaimer: All of this is based upon the works of J.K. Rowling, Tsugumi Ohba, and Takeshi Obata.

Warnings: Ignores the last two books, General Spoilers

AN: Vaguely inspired by a fic from DisobedienceWriter.

He's never been extraordinary. Never been the smartest or the best or even the kindest. He's a perfectly ordinary wizarding sort from a long line of not-so-ordinary wizarding sorts. A line of the brave and the daring and the dashing. Of heroes and Aurors and warriors.

But he's nothing like them.

Harry… Harry's the hero. The one who always does the right thing. Who always knows what to do when the moment comes. He doesn't stumble or struggle or stutter his way through life. He isn't pudgy or forgetful or forgotten. He doesn't bumble. He isn't weak. He isn't worthless.

He's everything that Neville has ever wanted to be but isn't strong enough to obtain.

Neville will never be extraordinary. Or special. Or even noticeable. But sometimes, all it takes is a pen stroke.

Neville's fifteen and on his way to the greenhouses. He needs the respite of his plants after another of Umbridge's lessons and isn't thinking about what he's doing when his foot catches something. He nearly goes headfirst into greenhouse four before he stops himself and still ends up with his bum planted into the dirt. Neville is in the process of picking up his already bruising body when his hand lands on a thin black book. It's lying innocently in the browning grass, but the title stands out so starkly that Neville has to blink.

Even years later, he won't understand why he doesn't just leave it. Why he puts it in his pocket with a glance over his shoulder to see if anyone's looking. Why he doesn't mention it to Professor Sprout or show it to any of his roommates. Why he waits until all of them have gone to sleep and pulls the curtains around his bed before he even dares look at it again.

Neville reads the rules twice but still can't believe his eyes. He nibbles on a fingernail, shifts on his bed, and picks up a pen – a Muggle one that Harry gave him on a lark. He puts the pen to paper and hesitates before scrawling down the first name he can think of. The person he knows who most deserves death. He stares at it afterward and then glances at his watch as the seconds tick away. It reaches forty with an ominous lurch, and he feels something in his heart tremble. Feels something in his soul break and fly free.

Neville sits for a minute and only lets out a disappointed sigh before turning off the light. He stuffs the book into his robe pocket only because it's easily in reach and he doesn't know what else to do. He's asleep within minutes and dreams of apples and poisoned laughter.

The Great Hall buzzes as he goes down for breakfast the next morning, but he doesn't catch sight of the headline until he's helping himself to some eggs. The spoon drops nervelessly from his fingers when he glances over to Hermione's paper, and he's on his feet before he can even process what he's doing. Harry is the only one to come after him, but Neville somehow loses him on his way back to the dorms and to the fifth year bathroom. He squeezes in between the last toilet and the wall with his knees hugged to his chest and his face hidden from view.

It's all he can do to contain his tears. To hold back his laughter.

His Muggle pen is a firm weight in his pocket, and the black book all but burns next to it. Her name is still there, written in blue, and all Neville can think is that he'll need more ink or pens in the future. He has a lot of work to do, and he doesn't want to run out anytime soon.

No one is there to see the glint of murder in his eyes or watch as they bleed to red.

Ever Hopeful,