II:XXVII: Stoned & Starving Pt.I
The sound of snow compacting under Neville's feet as he walked into the Forest, One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi clenched tightly against his chest, was the only thing he could actually hear around him. The snow's ability to dampen sound had its own unique way of making everything feel both eerie and peaceful at the same time. Neville continued to trudge through the snow, determined to find himself a plant to care for and call his own. Professor Sprout had provided him his own area in the Green Houses so he could grow his experience and education on his own time and, in trade, help her when she needed it. It wasn't an offer he was about to pass up, and he wanted to get started on it immediately. Finding a local plant seemed to be the best way to begin in his opinion; a good way to ease himself into the responsibility. Herbology was by far his best, and favorite, subject. Compared to most subjects, Herbology was as crucial as plants were vital. They provided oxygen, food, medicine, and helped create and preserve soil. They could create products like the parchment he and his classmates wrote on. Beyond this, many plants provided ingredients for potions, or had magical effects of their own, providing many more uses beyond the standard. It was a subject he felt nobody actually truly appreciated.
Neville came to a stop when he saw a familiar blond in just a dark blue hoodie, jeans, and trainers (clothes that were absolutely not suitable for winter) twirling around what looked like, from his distance, a cigarette. Not wanting to be a part of whatever the Slytherin was up to, as ignorance is bliss and you can't talk about something you know nothing of, he tried to leave the area as fast as he could. To Neville's dismay, the blond's blue eyes locked onto his.
"It seems that the green onion, rotting newt tail, and, uh… purple crystal are doing their job in keeping you alive, eh, Neville?"
Fate was a cruel mistress. "I-I don't have them anymore, Naruto. Threw them away…" Neville took a deep breath and started making his way over to the blond, doubting that he would be able to get back to his original task anytime soon. "What are y-you doing out here in the forest? Aren't you freezing?"
"Something I assume is illegal. So… something I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to be doing." Naruto replied, as the hesitant brunette carefully sat down next to him. "Also, a warming charm and Impervius…"
"If it's possibly illegal and not something you should be doing… w-why do it all?"
"Neville, my diffident friend, some people are just more… wayward than others. My friend, Camille, was very adamant that I try this stuff. She gave me a small bag of it. Apparently being thirteen is old enough, so I'm assuming being twelve, like yourself, wouldn't really matter either."
Neville eyed the green herb that was rolled up in paper with slight interest. "That… doesn't really sound like a good person to hang around."
Naruto looked in amusement at the now blushing Gryffindor sitting next to him. "Being someone with high morals and ethics doesn't necessarily make you a good person. Especially when right and wrong can vary from person to person. Speaking of right and wrong, what are you doing out here in the forbidden forest, Neville?"
"I-I was just looking for plants is all… Wasn't planning on going very far in."
"Seems like you came to the right place, Nev!" Naruto said as he offered the 'cigarette' to Neville.
"I don't know…. I don't even know what it is."
"Marijuana. A Doobie, if I remember what Camille was telling me correctly."
"What is it going to do to us…?"
"It…" Naruto closed his mouth, as he didn't exactly know. He knew she said something about it, but he did have a tendency to tune her out on occasion. Which, being proven just now, was not a great habit. "It… relaxes you?" He suddenly had the urge to smack himself in the face. "Makes you find everything hilarious. So… giggle fits. Uh… she said something about it making you really hungry. I think she referred to it as 'the munchies.'" Neville did not look convinced or impressed. "I mean, Hippies love it," continued Naruto. "They're all about peace and shit." They both sat in silence for about a minute or two, not really knowing what to do at this point. Naruto looked at Neville and then looked back at the doobie in his hand. With a dispirited sigh he put the doobie in his mouth and pulled out his wand. "I'm going to be honest, Neville, I don't really know how it will affect us. I don't even really know what a fucking Hippie is either."
"You're still going to try it!?" Neville asked, flabbergasted.
"Uh… yeah. Are you…?"
"I wasn't going to even try it in the first place."
"Why not…? It's a plant. Don't you have a hard-on for plants?"
"I don't know what that means, but plants are interesting. I want to learn as much about them as I can, not smoke them." Neville replied, his annoyance and curiosity growing in tandem. "I don't even want to think about what my Gran would do to me if she found out. Even Professor McGonagall! That's a scary thought. I'd have to go into hiding, you know. My Gran already thinks I'm a disappointment. She insists on me using my fathers wand it's that bad!"
"Your Gran sounds like a bitch…" Naruto muttered. "Anyway, how are they going to know?"
"They're going to know…"
"How would they know?"
"Because I'm me! Knowing my luck, I'd have an allergic reaction to it."
"Well… yeah." Naruto couldn't fault Neville there, the kid really did have terrible luck. "But, I mean, I could have the same fate."
"A lot less of a chance though. What are you going to do about the damage it could do to your lungs?"
"You're a Wizard, Neville."
"Potions, Neville. Healing potions. You know, the subject that uses a lot of herbs and fungi as ingredients? Plants that have medicinal properties?"
"Soooooo…" Naruto said slowly. "Are you going to try it with me?"
"I still don't know what it does! I'm not going to breathe in an unknown substance."
"I told you what it does! I just don't know how it will affect you!"
"W-what if it's laced?"
"What the hell would it be laced with?"
"It could give us a lung disease! Like cancer!"
"When have you magical cunts ever had cancer!? You can literally regrow bones! Cancer is the least of your worries!"
Neville folded his arms across his chest and glared at the blond next to him. "Well, go on, then! I thought you were going to try it? Consequences be damned."
"Alright…" Naruto muttered while using the tip of his wand to light the doobie, a little surprised by Neville's confidence and very much unneeded attitude.
Neville watched in surprise as the blond started to inhale the smoke into his lungs. He didn't actually think he would've done it. The longer he watched the more he started to wonder when Naruto was going to stop. He got his answer when the blond's features shifted into a look of pain and his face flushed red as he started to violently cough, a decent amount of smoke shooting out of his mouth, and the smell of skunk filling the air and his nostrils. Neville grabbed a hold of the doobie without thinking about it as he watched the blond roll face first into the snow. "Uhm…" the annoyance he was feeling was quickly being replaced with guilt and worry. "Naruto, are you okay?"
"Ugh… Sweet… mother of god." Naruto's voice came out strained and pained. The pain in his lungs was the only thing he could focus on. The thought of Camille entered his mind and he found himself burning with pain from his hit and annoyance at how she just successfully fucked him. It would be fun, she said. Fine, she said. Safe, she said. Liar, she was. "Neville, if I die here, all pathetic, will you find Harry and have him tell Camille that I hate her?"
Neville nodded dumbly and handed back the doobie to Naruto, who had positioned his head that was still buried in the snow in such a way that allowed him to continue on with his task. "You're going to keep smoking it?"
"I'm not a quitter." Naruto replied as he took a much, much smaller hit this round. "Once the fire of hell leaves your chest, it's not so bad."
"How do you feel?" Neville asked, slowly taking the doobie from Naruto. His curiosity was peaking.
"I don't know… I think it takes a few minutes to settle in."
"Wh-what's the process called?"
"Uh… Taking a hit. Put the end of the doobie in your mouth, inhale as much of it into your lungs as you can, and then… exhale." Naruto slowly shifted his body so he could watch Neville, curious to see if the timid Gryffindor would actually do it.
Neville, shaking from nerves, placed the doobie in his mouth. Knowing that if he gave it a second he would back out, he started to inhale. And kept inhaling, obviously not learning from the blond's demonstration. Like clockwork Neville dropped the doobie onto the ground in a coughing fit and grabbed his chest in pain, tears brimming his eyes. "What have I done…" Neville wheezed out. He knew exactly what he had done. Succumbed to peer pressure. Quite pathetically.
"How out of character of you." Naruto said as he sat up and leaned his back against a tree. "Care to give it back?"
Neville felt his mind start to fog over as he continued to lay in the snow. A slow, steady, and relaxing calm started to wash over him.. "I think I dropped it." Silence was all that met his ears. "Naruto?"
The blond in question blinked slowly before looking at the Gryffindor door. "Sorry, Neville. I wasn't really listening. Kind of just… Zoned out there for a minute." Again there was silence. "You know… every time I blink it feels like sandpaper rubbing against my eye… mouth feels like I've been sucking on cotton-balls all day too…"
"They feel so heavy."
Naruto glanced up at Neville and couldn't help the amused grin that crept into his features. "Your eyes are so ginger and glazed."
"So are yours!"
"Shit." Naruto muttered. If there was one give-away of their current state, it was the red rocket eyes. "If I knew our eyes would go bloodshot I would've brought like caffeine or something."
"Because it has a constricting effect on blood vessels… you know, so our eyes would probably still be… normal."
"Mm," Neville replied both continued to sit in silence as time seemed to have dilated. Everything he did from repositioning himself to just scratching an itch seemed to take longer than it should. "How long have we been out here for?"
Naruto rummaged through his pocket and glanced at the watch he pulled out. "About… forty minutes."
"Are you serious!?" Neville asked incredulously. "Forty minutes? It feels like we've been out here for hours."
"Tell me about it." Naruto pulled himself onto his feet and stretched, his knees popping in protest. "What do you say we find something to drink and eat a lot of food? I don't know about you, but I'm dying of hunger right now."
"That's fine with me." Neville replied, pushing himself onto his feet as well. "I don't think I could manage being alone in public right now."
"Sometimes, Neville, you just need to say 'fuck it and fuck them'." Naruto sighed as he picked up the now semi-wet doobie off the ground. "You're never going to live your best life if you're constantly comparing yourself to other people and you keep listening to that ancient hag you call a grandmother… Easier said than done, but that doesn't make it impossi—WHERE THE FUCK DID THE DOOBIE GO!?"
Neville jumped slightly at the sudden raise of tone and after the initial shock he couldn't help but burst into a fit of laughter. "It's in your pocket."
Placing his hand in his pocket, the blond grinned and sheepishly scratched the back of his head. "Heh… stop laughing, Neville, it was an honest mistake!"
The trek up to the castle was made mostly in silence. The sound of Neville failing to stifle his giggles occasionally breaking into the cold winter air. Naruto's own laughter was also getting the best of him no matter how hard he tried to contain it. Every time he managed to get it back under control, without fail, the Gryffindor would burst out into a fit of laughter again. This in turn would set Naruto off, and he would have to start the whole process over again. Naruto whacked Neville in the chest with his hand once they arrived at the entrance of the castle. "Alright, moment of truth. We are going to wipe the smiles off our faces and contain our laughter. Hold your head high, pretend we're not high, and act like we know what's going on. Our mission is to get to the kitchens and eat some delicious food without raising any alarms. As far as anyone knows, we are cold and kosher."
Neville looked at the blond in bewilderment but nodded. "Get to the kitchen and don't eat meat and dairy together."
"Yes—wait, what the fuck—no!" Naruto stared at Neville completely dumbstruck. "Meat and dairy? Neville… Neither of us are fucking Jewish. We don't have to follow Jewish Law in the kitchen!"
"But you said Kosher!"
"Yes! As in genuine and legitimate!" Naruto rubbed his face, completely baffled. Smoking more of that doobie on their way up to the castle had seemed like such a great idea at the time. "Neville, mistakes were made on part of our expedition. So… I think we should both just keep our heads down and B-Line straight to the kitchen. Don't look at anyone, talk to anyone, don't even acknowledge their existence."
Neville nodded as a ball of anxiety started to form in his stomach. "What if we get caught?"
"Sometimes it's best to not think that far ahead. Don't worry about it unless it happens."
With that said, both of them walked into the castle towards the basement to finally appease their restless craving for any kind of food they could get their hands on. The door they needed was right in view, and it seemed like it was going to be a home stretch. Naruto felt the giddiness that was building come crashing down as the sound of a voice he didn't recognize echoed off the entrance hall walls calling his name.
Looking over his shoulder he saw a young, blond Ravenclaw doing an awkward jog towards him. "Uh… Who are you?"
"S-sorry, I'm Liam." He replied, his face flushing scarlet.
"Alright… Liam. What do you want?"
"Well… you see, Pansy and I have become friends this year, and she seems to be rather fond of talking about you."
Naruto glanced at Neville who was currently staring at the Ravenclaw. More through the boy than anything. Glossed eyes, blank look, not present; completely zoned out. Oh, what he would do to trade places. "Alright… Err, congratulations on your friendship, I guess? Sorry she has nothing better to talk about?"
"Well, see, that's not why I really stopped you…"
Naruto waited politely for Liam to continue, his annoyance growing with every passing second of silence. "What the hell is it?"
"Well," Liam started, swallowing a lump in his throat. "She doesn't really seem to care too much about our friendship."
"Gee, wonder why."
Ignoring the jab, Liam continued. "And being a Muggle-Born, her other friends won't give me a chance. I feel like their opinions of my blood status are keeping her on the fence… I was just wondering if you'd have any advice for me."
"Bloody hell…" Neville whispered.
Naruto let out a frustrated sigh. All he and Neville wanted was a couple of sandwiches and something to drink. That's it. "Liam… I really don't care. I'm not going to help you 'win' her over."
"I agree with Naruto on not helping you win her over," Neville chimed in. "It's not polite to dump your pet onto others."
Naruto's eyes widened in shock as he slowly turned his head, mouth agape, to look at a furiously blushing Neville. "Is this really what you lions gossip to each other about?"
Neville nodded his head, the heat emitting from his face almost burning. "N-Nobody really likes Slytherin House..."
"You catty bitches!"
Liam swung his arms back and forth trying to keep himself occupied as the two bickered, completely forgetting about him. Clearing his throat, and thankfully getting back their attention, he pressed on. "If you won't help me would you at least tell me the best way to approach this… issue I feel we've been having?"
"Be direct." Naruto replied, side-eying Neville.
"Last time I was direct she kind of yelled at me…"
"You mean barked."
"Neville, I swear to God, if you keep prolonging this, I am going to sew your mouth shut." Naruto, satisfied with the click of the Gryffindors mouth shutting, turned his attention back to Liam. "Figure it out yourself. Not going behind her back to her best friend is the best place to start."
Neville watched as Liam gave a quick nod before running off. "My tongue keeps sticking to the roof of my mouth…"
Ignoring Neville, Naruto started to make his way towards their goal and right when he grabbed the handle to the door, the voice of the most dim-witted professor called out to him.
"Naruto!" Professor Lockhart called out, jauntily strutting up to them. "Just the person I wanted to see!"
"Motherfucker." Naruto whispered, banging his head against the door. Out of all people. Out of all the places they could be. It just had to be him. Was Neville bad luck? Was he, himself, bad luck? Was fulfilling his raging appetite too much to ask for? He wasn't asking for much. Just a couple sandwiches, and something that was cold and refreshing. The basic needs of life.
"Discovering you were back, I felt obligated to bring you all the work you missed!" Lockhart continued, completely oblivious to his students' inner musing and sour mood. "It's quite the load, but I knew if anyone could handle it without breaking a sweat, it would be you, Naruto!" Lockhart handed Naruto his assignments and turned his attention to Neville, ignoring what sounded like the blond puking in his mouth. "Blimey, Neville! Your eyes look like fresh cherries!"
Neville felt like dying on the spot. "Just tired, Sir."
"You know, Neville, you remind me of myself when I was younger! Always hard at work. Going until you've become completely exhausted! If you keep it up, you could be like me one day!" Lockhart said, flashing the boy his award-winning smile. "Heading to the kitchens are you? Can't say I haven't snuck off for a quick snack after some exhilarating study sessions myself! Don't forget to tickle the pear!" Lockhart winked at them before sauntering off.
"Finally!" Naruto shouted, fist bumping the air. "Time to eat!" Right before the duo could continue onward, a pair of voices rang through their fed up eardrums. Slowly turning his head to look over his shoulder, Naruto let out a somewhat small sigh of relief. It could be a lot worse. "Theodore, Blaise, long time no see!"
"When did you get back!?" Theodore asked, quickly closing the gap between them, Blaise following closely behind.
"Five hours ago."
"And you saw it fit to hang out with Neville before coming to see us?" Blaise asked in mock offense.
"Well, well, isn't someone a little curt."
"More high than anything." Naruto instantly clapped his hand over his mouth, his eyes never leaving Theodores.
Blaise glanced at Neville who was radiating immense relief and looked ready to burst in a fit of giggles. "What are you so happy about, Longbottom?"
"I thought for sure I was going to be the one to blow our cover!"
"Cover?" Theodore questioned. "Cover for what? Being high? Is that why you two smell like skunks?" Naruto just nodded while Neville continued on beaming. "Well," Theodore continued. "May Blaise and I partake in this 'high' thing? What the hell is being high anyway?"
"Yeah!" Blaise jumped in. "We love doing things we aren't supposed to!"
Naruto rubbed his eyes in annoyance and released a defeated sigh. Why him?
Just wanted to get something out there.