Author: Cinnamon Selkie
Challenge: harrylovesdraco Challenge #2 on LiveJournal. [Prompt words: fluffy, torment, gradual, sky, helpless, chain, dork, allow, journal, heat.]
Characters/Pairings: Harry/Draco, Neville.
Word Count: 857
Summary: In which Neville has a revelation…
Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe and its characters belong to the talented JKR – I am merely borrowing them.
Author's Notes: My muse needed a little break, so…this happened.
Neville's not really sure why he allowed himself to be dragged to the Hufflepuff vs. Slytherin Quidditch match. The best thing that can be said for the weather is that it's no longer raining, and the brooding sky makes him think that even this small reprieve isn't going to last for long. No amount of warming charms can do more than stop his fingers making the transition from painfully cold to numb, and no amount of shivering is getting his Defence Against the Dark Arts essay done.
Thank Merlin the match is over, at least, and they'll all be able to return to the comfort of the Gryffindor common room. Neville never thought he would be so glad to see Malfoy catching the Snitch, but then again, his eighth year at Hogwarts has been full of all sorts of strange occurrences.
A tap on his shoulder draws his attention to Harry - the bastard - who is practically radiating heat and enthusiasm, and cheerfully oblivious to the fact that his fluffy yellow mittens and ridiculously long Hufflepuff scarf make him look like a complete dork.
"Mm-gn't'go cmm-gm-tl M-ffl'n ss vict'y."
One mittened hand reaches up to pull the scarf away from Harry's mouth.
"I said, I'm going to go congratulate Malfoy on his victory."
"…Could you please repeat that?"
Harry looks moderately annoyed.
"You heard me."
"Yeah, I did. Are you sure that's a good idea?"
"I don't see why not. Tell the others I'll catch up later."
And just like that, he's gone, slipping back into the crowd, leaving Neville to stare helplessly after him, and then longingly back towards the castle. But there's no choice, really. The Slytherin changing rooms can't be a very safe place for someone wearing that much black and yellow, and even this year, with Voldemort gone, Harry has already landed himself in the hospital wing at least three times.
Neville doesn't have as much practice as Harry does at fighting his way through crowds, or the ruthlessness to resort to using his elbows. By the time he reaches his goal, Harry is already inside talking to Malfoy, and the last member of the Slytherin team (a second year Neville thinks is probably related to Parkinson, based on looks) is leaving, nodding politely enough as he passes.
Neville pauses in the doorway, assessing the situation. No wands have been drawn, and Malfoy's not even looking at Harry, but Neville is not reassured. The silence is not a comfortable one. After all the years they spent obsessing over and tormenting each other, he doesn't think they have it in them to be polite acquaintances.
"You played well today," Harry says at last, and Neville almost gives his presence away by snorting. Draco played well, sure, but there's no way that that's the only thing he came to say. Draco seems to agree, if the sneer is anything to go by.
"No doubt you think you could have got there faster," Draco mutters, resentment clear in his tone. Harry looks genuinely surprised.
"No, really, you did well today. Kind of brilliant, actually."
Malfoy looks surprised, but pleased, sneaking a sideways glance at Harry through his lashes.
"Brilliant, hmm?" There is a little smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, and Harry seems to be entranced by it.
"More than brilliant," he murmurs, moving gradually towards Malfoy, eyes intent. Neville has seen that look on his face before, and he has to clap a hand over his mouth to keep from gasping aloud. He is prepared to bet that Harry has absolutely no idea what he is actually saying. "You were fantastic. Poetry in motion…"
Malfoy is blushing as he turns to face Harry directly, and if Neville weren't in complete shock, he would have admitted that it suits him a lot better than his usual sneers and glares. This conversation no longer feels like something he should be witnessing, or something that Harry needs protection for, but Neville feels chained in place, completely unable to move his feet – or his eyes.
Suddenly a whole lot of things that had confused him before make complete sense. It explains so much, and yet it boggles the mind. If Neville kept a journal (which he doesn't, not since Seamus got hold of it back in third year), he has no doubt that today's entry would be a confusing mass of capital letters and exclamation marks.
Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, standing in the middle of the Slytherin changing rooms, smiling shyly at each other. Harry reaching forward to smooth a strand of Malfoy's hair back behind his ear. Malfoy leaning into the touch, eyes fluttering closed as Harry leans forward and presses their lips together…
Hand still covering his mouth, Neville eases quietly out of the changing rooms, a rather silly smile on his face. The wizarding world and its citizens still have a long way to go before they can consider themselves safe from the possibility of a new Voldemort, but in this moment he has no doubt that they will get there one day.
Apparently, anything really is possible.