A/N: This ficlet has been nomming my brain since I read a Draco/Harry fic with mention of Blaise/Neville and I thought they were the cutest couple. So I made a Blaise/Neville fic, with a smidge of Draco/Harry. Also, as usual, I am not British, freckly, or rich, and I am most certainly not JK Rowling. I do this not to make profit, but out of my love for the story and my longing for more canon gays. And you guys' reviews, of course.
WARNINGS: Language, Mild Mature Themes, and Homicidal Plants.
(Also, Joey would kill me if it wasn't dedicated to her, so here it is, JoJo. For you, and your everlasting nagging.)
What Happens In Greenhouse Nine
Looking back on it, Blaise decided that there were a number of factors leading up to what transpired in Greenhouse Nine, and very often, he wasn't able to keep them straight in his mind.
It could have been because Draco had finally gotten Potter, and they were just so fucking happy.
It might have been because with the War over and done with for a few months now, everything was slowly going back to normal, and Blaise wanted to shake things up a little bit.
It could even have been be because his mother had just married her ninth husband, meaning that she, nearing her fiftieth birthday, was getting it more than her eighteen year old son.
Probably, it had more to do with the fact that Professor Sprout, in a well-meaning attempt to create inter-House unity, had paired Gryffindors with Slytherins for the final Herbology project.
Or the fact Neville had come back from the summer holidays with sexy battle scars and looks that meant he was a serious competitor to Harry Potter in the Number of Girls Who Had Swooned And/Or Fawned Over Him contest. Draco and Blaise had been keeping count since the beginning of the year with increasing jealousy and despair mixed with the occasional stab of perverse, smug pride, that his crush was the more desirable.
Almost definitely, though, all of these factors paled in comparison to the simple fact that Neville treated him politely and friendlily, unlike many of his classmates, who had decided that Blaise and Draco were simply unfit to inhabit the planet, and made their distaste increasingly clear. In fact, occasionally, just after a jeer or a Stinging Charm, or, on that one occasion, a hairdryer was launched at Blaise, he would see Neville gently touch the arm of the offending person and tell them, in no uncertain terms, never to do that ever again, or Neville would be seriously upset. Coming, as it did, from the mouth of a well-known war hero, those simple words made all of the difference.
Or maybe the simple fact that they were eighteen-year-olds working with dangerous magical plants by themselves was enough to trigger what happened.
But if Blaise knew one thing, it was that, from the moment they were assigned each other as Herbology partners and Neville gave him this sweet little smile, nothing would ever be the same again.
Blaise glanced over at Neville, who was concentrating intensely on separating the Snorgaluff seeds from their pods without them exploding. The boy seemed unaware of everything around him. Blaise watched in fascination as Neville drew his lower lip between his teeth and worried it, the occasional flash of white tooth peeking out from behind his upper lip. A worry line between his eyes formed as his brow wrinkled. For a moment, Blaise felt a pang of longing wash over him. He wanted to smooth away the worry line, to have Neville look up at him, surprised, to lean in slowly and kiss him...
"Blaise!" Blaise was jerked out of his reverie by Neville's voice, sounding worried and almost reproachful. He glanced around quickly and realized that he had dropped their bowl of Snorgaluff seeds and they were now, quite literally, bursting into bloom all over the floor. He had just single-handedly ruined all of Neville's careful work.
"Oh, God, I'm sorry, Neville."
Immediately, Professor Sprout began to lecture about the importance of concentration while working on the Snorgaluffs. Apparently, they were very valuable in dozens of potions, but useless in their exploded, bloomed state.
"It's-it's fine," Neville stuttered, squatting to pick up the blossoms. He dropped quite a few in the process, creating an even bigger mess. Occasionally, Blaise wondered how his stammering, bumbling Herbology partner could be the same person who quietly informed the Professors Carrow that he would not Crucio Seamus Finnegan because Finnegan had forgotten to hand in his homework.
And then Neville would do something so incredible and kind, Blaise would know.
Like right now, Blaise thought. The way Neville had forgiven him so easily, was still a wonder to Blaise.
Hurriedly, Blaise squatted next to Neville and began to scoop up the blossoms by the handful, "Thanks," he mumbled to Neville.
Neville looked up, seemingly startled, "For what?"
Blaise hesitated, "For not making a big deal out of my stupidity and clumsiness, I guess."
Neville gave a little exasperated snort, "Why on Earth would I do that, Blaise?" He looked directly into Blaise's eyes and smiled, the same small smile he'd handed to Blaise when they'd first become partners.
As they stood up together, adding a last few blossoms to the bowl, their hands brushed. Neville glanced over at Blaise again and his smile grew wider.
It took a few days for Blaise to look Neville in the eyes again. He felt both really stupid and all tingly inside whenever he looked at him.
Part of him was certain that Neville was only being polite, that he only wanted to get a good grade and be done with Blaise. Another part was screaming that it wasn't true, that Neville cared about Blaise, as much as Blaise cared about Neville. Blaise was certain that the ambivalence was going to kill him soon.
Almost a week later, in Herbology, Blaise was watching Neville watch Professor Sprout explain the grading system for the final project.
"Throughout this year, all of you have steeped yourself in the care of a single plant, chosen by yourselves, from the first planting to the final harvest. I have checked on your progress throughout. But now the final quarter of the year is upon us, and so I will be using a written exam on your chosen plant, as well as a final check up on your plants, to ascertain that you are thorough in your expertise."
Something in Blaise's stomach unhinged itself and plummeted. A nasty little voice at the back of his mind whispered that he wouldn't have Neville any more in a few weeks.
He was terribly afraid that the voice was absolutely right.
But first, they had finals to deal with. Blaise glanced over at Neville and smiled big. He hoped to God he didn't lose him.
"And he's so adorable when he's working with the Snorgaluff pods and he's concentrating so hard and he bites his lip," Blaise sighed over his toast.
"He's so sweet, and have you seen those jeans that make his arse look like that ?," Neville murmured, smiling dreamily towards the Slytherin table.
"Oh my God," Draco moaned.
"What," Harry nearly shouted, "the fuck is wrong with you, that you can't even ask out the boy you like?"
"Honestly, you survived a war, your mother's six murder trials, and my mooning over Potter all year long, but you can't ask out Longbottom?"
"I mean, seriously? Pathetic," Harry couldn't help it. He spat the last word.
Draco and Harry swept out of the Great Hall.
As soon as they were out of the doors, they both relaxed, drawing in deep breaths. And then they glanced at each other, standing there, just outside the Great Hall, looking furious and exasperated, and burst out laughing.
"You'll never believe what's been going on," the breathless words spilled from them simultaneously, and they collapsed into more spasms of laughter, "You go first," again, they were synchronized, "Oh, for God's sake."
At last, Draco cleared his breath and managed, "You go first, Potter."
"Okay, okay," Harry stood up and gave one last snort before speaking, "I was just so pissed off. Neville is being so...obtuse. I mean, there's this blokes he likes-"
"Wait, wait," Draco interrupted sharply, "Longbottom? Which bloke does he like?"
"Yeah, Neville. Why does it matter?"
"Um, no reason. But which bloke does he fancy?"
"I'll tell you, but only if you tell me why it matters," Harry flashed a wicked grin at Draco, "And don't even think of pouting like you do, 'cause it won't work this time."
"Oh, come on, I gave someone my honor as a Slytherin that I wouldn't tell."
"That is patently ridiculous. Slytherins have no honor."
"Okay, that's true, but I did give my word that I wouldn't tell unless I had a really, really good reason. And you being curious doesn't count as a really, really good reason."
"You don't tell me, and you aren't getting any in the near future."
"That is a really, really good reason."
"I know. So spill," Harry's eyes were twinkling.
"Only if you do too."
"Okay, so- count of three?" Draco glanced at Harry, a shifty sideways look.
"Count of three."
"Three- Blaise likes Longbottom."
"Neville likes Blaise- wait, seriously? "
"Yes, seriously, the Malfoy does not lie. At least, not about this."
"Excellent!" Harry shouted in something that was half a war whoop and half a squeal.
"What do we do now?" Draco glanced over at Harry, only to see him rubbing his hands together, an evil grin plastered all over his face.
Harry replied in a low voice, "Draco, we plot."
Draco scowled. His voice came out in a high whine, "Oh God, do we have to? It takes so much effort. Effort that could be put into spectacular shagging, instead."
Blaise's head snapped up with alarming speed at the sound of the familiar (amazing, sexy, beautiful, sweet) voice, "Yeah, Neville? What's up?"
Automatically, Neville replied, "Not much," Then corrected himself, "Actually, we sorta have, um, a problem with our Herbology assignment. A really big problem. I checked the weather, and there's going to be a frost tonight."
Blaise was lost, "And...?"
"And Snorgaluff plants are extremely sensitive to cold. A frost could kill them," Neville explained patiently.
"Oh," Blaise said, suddenly understanding. They were about to lose their Herbology project, "So, what do we do about it?"
"Well, I think the only thing we can do is spend the night there with the plant, so that if the frost comes, we can cast Warming Charms on the plant."
"O-oh. Okay," Blaise's brain seemed to have short circuited. He was going to spend the night. With Neville. He proceeded to choke on his muffin as he spoke, "Right- ah, that sounds great, umm, okay, yeah,cool, uh, when should I be there?"
"Well, right after dinner, I guess."
They both looked at each other for a minute, mutually terrified at the prospect of the evening before them, before Neville awkwardly said goodbye and shuffled off to his first class.
It took Blaise a full ten minutes to regain control over his brain. As he wandered off in the vague direction of the Arithmancy classroom, he wondered where Draco had gone.
It took Draco almost all of Arithmancy to coax the story out of Blaise. When he did, though, he sat, almost as stupefied as Blaise had been. This was...this was brilliant. He and Harry would hardly have to do anything. Just a nudge here, a nudge there, and then Blaise would stop moaning, and Harry and he could return to not caring and snogging full time. He couldn't wait to tell Harry.
Blaise arrived at Greenhouse Nine just before eight thirty. After standing at the door and fidgeting for fifteen minutes, he managed to raise his fist and knock tentatively. The door was pulled open with astonishing speed, and he was treated to the sight of Neville in boxer shorts and a t-shirt, looking
unfairly sexy. Blaise wondered if his brain would sustain permanent damage from being short circuited so frequently.
"Ah- umm, h-hi, Neville." He could really do with some of that famous Zabini charm that endowed his mother with nine husbands right then.
"Hi, Blaise," Blaise couldn't help but hope that his brain wasn't playing tricks on him and Neville's voice did sound just a little bit more breathy than entirely necessary. He also couldn't help but wish that the boxers and shirt were on purpose. Neville smiled and gestured him into the greenhouse, "So, we have the place to ourselves, 'cause the other plants in here are less sensitive to temperature change."
Blaise managed, "Cool," and then his mouth took off without his brain's consent, "Excellent. Better than my mum's sixth husband, and he was the best of the lot. Then again, none of the husbands were that great, so it's not such a good comparison. The worst was definitely the third, but I shouldn't say that, 'cause he was my dad. Though actually, dads don't seem to be that important, loads of people have grown up without them.. like me, and Harry Potter, and you- oh. Fuck. Sorry"
After this outburst, there was this stupefyingly awkward silence, and Blaise wondered if Neville would consent to being Obliviated after this night was over. Who knew how many awful, awkward, embarrassing things Blaise would say before dawn?
At last, Neville managed to plaster a smile onto his face, and say, in a way that conveyed both great nobility and extreme mortification, "It's fine, Blaise. Do you have a sleeping bag?"
"Um, a sleeping bag?"
"Yeah. A sleeping bag. You know, those squashy things on the floor that you can sleep in? Mine tend to be purple and sort of hideous, but I'm sure you have nice ones," Neville finished kindly.
"Would you laugh at me if I told you that I have never in my entire life had a sleeping bag, and I don't have one now?"
Neville considered for a moment,"I wouldn't laugh, but I would think it's sort of sad. How did you go camping?"
"Camping? You seriously think my mum and I went camping?"
"Okay, I see your point. Anyway, no worries about the sleeping bag thing." Not even looking, Neville conjured a squashy, purple, hideous sleeping bag, right next to his own squashy, purple, hideous sleeping bag, with a flick of of his wand.
"It's okay. I'm going to check the Snorgaluff. Here, you take the thermometer. Warn me if the temperature dips below thirty."
"It can't possibly dip below thirty, Neville. It's boiling in here," A hint of condescension crept into Blaise's voice.
"Not in here, Blaise, outside. The thermometer is tuned to outside," Neville's voice was smooth, and gave no hint that he had heard Blaise's rudeness.
Blaise, as usual, wondered at how amazing Neville was.
Harry wrapped an arm loosely around Draco and pulled the Invisiblity Cloak over the two of them. Then they set off toward the greenhouses, with only minimal bickering (and a quick stop for a snog). Harry felt stupidly lucky.
But he couldn't think of the Amazing Boyfriend he had so recently acquired. No, he had to focus on Neville, who was in dire need of an Amazing Boyfriend of his own. He had to focus. But it was so hard to concentrate when Draco did that thing with his tongue.
They had been in the greenhouse for three hours, and so far nothing had happened. Literally. Neville had hummed and pored over the Snorgaluffs and Blaise had watched the thermometer and Neville's arse. It was possibly the most boring night Blaise could remember. Neville hadn't spoken to him since the incident with the sleeping bag. Things were starting to get awkward. Both were beginning to yawn, but neither wanted to go to sleep.
It was only when the Snorgaluff began snuffling and yawning that they admitted defeat and crawled into their hideous sleeping bags.
But Blaise couldn't sleep. He lay awake, wondering how people ever slept on the floor and listening to Neville's breathing become deep and even.
Occasionally, he'd try to cast a few surreptitious Cushioning Charms, mildly terrified that Neville would wake up and see him.
Around three thirty, though, Neville's sleepy voice came wafting over to Blaise. " Blaise? Are you asleep?"
Ahem. "No, Neville. What's up?"
"Um, I have a confession to make."
"Yeah. The truth is, there wasn't going to be a frost. And even if there was ,the Greenhouses have built in Heating Charms and also Snorgaluffs are some of the most hardy plants in the world. So a frost wouldn't have harmed them in any way."
"Huh." Blaise would have said more, but he was quite certain his brain was malfunctioning. It sounded like- if they didn't need to watch the plants, then Neville must want to-
He shook his head. He was not going to entertain those thoughts. He wasn't. Instead, he said drily, "That's lovely, Neville, but may I ask what spurred this confession?"
Neville sounded a little bit bemused and also -was that disappointment Blaise heard?- but he just said, "Well, you see, Blaise, I thought that before I died I should make a confession of sorts."
"What, like Christians do and- wait a minute, before you die?" Blaise yelped. "What is with the dying? What?"
"Don't shout, Blaise." Neville said calmly, though it sounded a bit like he was gritting his teeth. "Just crawl over here very, very slowly. And remain calm while I explain, or I will die."
Blaise did as he was told. As he crawled closer to Neville, he began to see that Neville was partially outside his sleeping bag and looked pale and ever so slightly panicked. This probably had to do with the fact that the Snorgaluff had cuddled up to Neville, and a large, slimy tentacle was wrapped around his midsection in a way that looked very uncomfortable. Or it could have to do with the fact that a highly combustible Snorgaluff pod was nestled in Neville's ear.
Neville spoke, and yep, he was very, very panicked. "Blaise, I woke up with this." He made a little gesture towards the plant, "So I need you to remain absolutely calm and not wake the Snorgaluff up. If you do, the pod will explode and I will be deaf in one ear. Also, the tentacle may just squeeze me to death. Just, you know, FYI. Now, without waking it up, you have to very slowly take the tentacle off and remove the pod from my ear."
Blaise nodded in what he hoped was a cool, collected way. "Right. So, erm, how do I do that?"
"Come closer to me and gently pick it up. Then walk around me in such a way that it comes off, and set it down so it overlaps the other tentacles. Then we can worry about the pod."
"Right." Blaise would have been lying if he had said he wasn't terrified. He didn't want to be responsible for Neville dying. Or being rendered deaf in one ear. Very gently, without feeling Neville's chest at all, he picked up the Snorgaluff tentacle- damn, it was heavy!- and walked a loop around Neville, until it was completely clear of Neville. He then gently set it down atop the other tentacles.
Strangely, as he did so, the tentacle gave him what could only be termed a comforting pat.
Now for the pod. With excruciating care, Blaise prised the pod out off Neville's ear and set it next to the plant. Then he pulled Neville up.
They looked at each other, right in the eye, and Blaise thought how nice it was that they were the exact same height. Neither of them let the other's hands go.
"Blaise," Neville whispered, "don't you want to know why I pretended to need your help with a plant to get to spend the night with you?"
Blaise nodded. His hands shook. "I think I do,"he said, mouth dry.
"Well, I kinda suck with words, so I hope this works for explanation."
And then, with the bravery of a Gryffindor and the quietness of a Longbottom, Neville kissed him.
And Blaise was quite certain his brain was malfunctioning.
But it wasn't.
And life was good.
Blaise and Neville slid into their respective seats, going for innocent and ending up with thoroughly and repeatedly shagged.
Harry and Draco made simultaneous mental notes.
The pod in the ear had been a nice touch.
A/N: Aren't they adorable? Please tell me what you think (even if you don't like it) in a review because review make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Like there's a kitten in my stomach.