AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm so sorry for my lack of updates! This has been sitting on my computer for two weeks, in need of nothing more than a final edit. I was hit by an awful mix of illness and school, that is all I can offer you!
Although, I must say since there has been ONLY ONE REVIEW, I don't know that many of you care... Subtle hint, guys I'd really like to hear from you! Even if its flames.
But anyways, I am pretty proud of how this is going, and as a general update, this story so far has been a minute by minute sort of tale, but the next chapter is going to cover more of Neville's live.
When we last saw our hero; So, Neville got down on his hands and knees and crawled under the Head Table.
The gasps from the crowd quickly told him that he had done something wrong. But he was currently under the table so there wasn't a whole lot that could be done about it right then.
Neville pulled himself up into his chair without a problem. He had lost his baby weight during his time in the Room of Requirements, and constantly running from teachers and carrying injured students out of detention had built him into a fitter figure. This was another change that he liked about himself after the war.
As he sat up, he realized that everyone was looking at him in shock. Most of the teachers were looking at him as though he was a boy caught with him hand in the cookie jar. A few, he noticed, were looking at him with understanding smiles. Professor Slughorn was one of them, he was slightly shocked to notice. The man nodded his head a Neville, as though he knew just what was going through the new teacher's head. Neville was slightly surprised at this; the potions master had never liked him much. But, still, Neville was feeling more and more alone and he would take any support he could get.
Headmistress McGonagall looked very much like she wanted to say something to her old student, but thought better of it. She turned around to finish making the obligatory announcements about the Forbidden Forest both Zonkos and Weasely Wizarding Wheezes products. Neville felt a slight pang as the announcement call to mind Fred Weasely. He sighed, but returned his focus to the Headmistress, who was now welcoming the terrified eleven year olds into the Great Hall.
Neville recalled his own sorting, thirteen years ago. The hat had sat on his head for quite some time before finally telling him that there was an undeniable good in him, a good that would bring out his courage when the time was right, and to stop fighting with him, he was just a hat. Then, Neville thought of the second time he'd worn the sorting hat. Before the sword had hit him on the head, the burning but uninjured hat said four words to him in a smug voice.
"I told you so."
Neville realized with a start that he had been letting his mind wander for a long time, and that it was time to leave. He stood up with the rest of the teachers, as the students left the hall.
"I trust you will exit you're seat slightly more conventionally than you choose to enter it, Mr. Longbottom."
Neville cringed, thinking his old head of house was angry at him already. But when he turned to look at her, there was a twinkle in her eye and a slight smile on her lips. He smiled back at her, starting to feel back at home.
He did as he was told and walked the long way around the entire table between Professor Slughorn and someone he recognized vaguely as an auror he'd fought beside, at some point. Neville assumed this was the new Defense teacher.
The teachers all made their way out of the Great Hall through the tall doors. Neville walked out of the now empty Great Hall….straight into a huge throng of students waiting for the prefects to lead the young students to their common rooms.
Most of the experienced teachers quickly extracted themselves from the crowd of students. Neville had no such luck and within a matter of minutes found himself caught in the crowd of students. This was not going to lead to good things, he was sure.
And sure enough, people started jostling each other and turning to him, then away quickly to mutter in little groups. Lovely, thought Neville. He tired ignore the sounds from around him, but soon snippets of the conversation made their way into his ears.
"….Room of Requirements for months…."
"…knew all the big names…"
"….Harry Potter's son godfather!"
"Of course he was in Gryffindor, don't know why McGonagall had…"
"I was here with him!"
"He interrupted my muggle studies class once, with fireworks, and I…."
"Didn't he carry you out of a dungeon?"
Neville promptly tripped over his feet and knocked over two second years. He stopped to help them up, and to sincerely hope that he wasn't going to have them in class for a long time. Then he looked out at the crowd, most of whom were about a head shorter then him, looking for the source of the voice.
"…both of us, I think I would have died…." This explanation was followed by a gasp that sounded like the first voice that had asked about dungeons. Neville looked toward the sound. He saw a small knot of Hufflepuffs, who looked to be sixteen and seventeen. He squinted at them, and briefly felt a flash of something like recognition and felt as though he should go over to them. Why he felt this, he didn't know. He stood still for a moment as he battled with himself. Rule number one is…was trust you instincts. But the war is over. Yes, he thought with finality. The war is over, no need to trust a strange, random, inexplicable urge.
He finally some how made his way to his own apartment, down the hall from the entrance to the Gryffindor common room. Neville was quite thankful of this arrangement, but couldn't help but think back to what Headmistress McGonagall had said to him when she first told him of his new quarters.
"They're just down the hall here, just a little further than the Common Room. You'll be going the same way you did ever day when you were in school. The stair case here doesn't move anymore, something about being hit by a stray body binding curse….. Oh no dear, that stair still works like quick sand, here let me…"
The headmistress had to pull Neville out of the stair. Neville knew that she was in charge of where in the castle the teachers lived, and he had a nagging suspicion that his head of house hadn't forgotten how bad he was at remembering roots through the castle, or homeworks, or password, and that this forgetful tendency was the reason he was living so close to where he did during school.
But honestly, Neville realized, he didn't care. He just wanted to get in to his apartment and sleep off his embarrassment at basically everything that had happened from the moment he entered the Great Hall to the moment he entered his new apartment.
He honestly didn't care too much about his surroundings at that point, but old survival habits die hard. He walked into every room, clicked on the lights, and muttered homo revelo, and noted all the exits. He nodded as he walked into his bedroom. Everything in the apartment was in order.
His trunk had been delivered before him, and he was grateful as he pulled out loose drawstring PJ pants. He changed quickly and fell into his warm bed. He fell asleep with a smile on his face, happy to be back.
It didn't last. He woke up still tired with his head full of images, an odd mix of dreams and memories and his ears ringing with screaming.
"THEY TOOK LUNA, NEVILLE! I CAN'T FIND HER" Ginny looked truly frantic as she realized that yet another friend had been taken from her…..
"Are you familiar with the Crusitus Curse, Mr. Longbottom?" A sneer, eyes full of hate, and then pain, nothing but pain….
"NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!" and again, he was watching as Bellatrix again tortured a mother, and again there was nothing Neville could do…..
The helplessness he felt when he heard Seamus's small, muffled cries from across the dorm, knowing the only roommate he had left was missing his best friend, who they hadn't seen hide or hair of in months….
The joy he felt holding Luna in his arms again, thrilled that she was alive, during the hourlong lull, only to have his heart sink when he heard "HARRY POTTER IS DEAD"….
Running through the hallway toward the Room of Requirements, carrying an 11 year old girl who was far too light and trying her hardest to cry without sound, until he could hand the girl to Susan Bones and Hannah Abbott on the top of the stairs, then turning around to head back to the dungon, where the sound of a small girl's screaming was replaced with the screaming of a boy who had only just become a man…
"I'm sorry!" The tiny girl was wailing, her voice filled with pain from her own injuries and the pain of knowing that without her, the seventeen year old Ravenclaw next to her would be awake, and wouldn't be bleeding…..
"Shhhh, shhh, its not your fault. No don't cry, its going to be just fine…." Susan's voice was directed at the Hufflepuff first year, but some how it seemed that she was trying to convince them all….
"Hey it's ok, its ok, shhh, it's ok." Neville chanted again and again to the little Hufflepuff, knowing it wasn't enough, "I'll take care of you, it's ok, just hold on, its ok, its ok, everything will be all right," he started stroking her hair, like he did sometimes when his mother was upset, "its ok, its ok, shhh, its ok…."
Neville groaned as he woke up. He hadn't dreamed of that night in more then two years, and he had a nagging suspicion that there was a reason that he was thinking of it again, but he couldn't figure out what it was.
The light of the sun was washing across his face, and he looked down at the watch Gran had given him on his seventeenth birthday, inherited from his father.
Neville realized that he had two minutes to be in the green house. He shouted his most colorful swear, grabbed his robes, tripped over his chair pulling them over his head, picked up his wand, and after hitting the door frame on his first try, ran out the door toward the front door.
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