Taking Chances, One-shot

Finally! A Harry Potter story! Excellent. Today's installment takes place during Goblet of Fire when the Yule Ball occurs. Neville had asked Hermione to accompany him, but how did that scene play out?

Should I wait until after class? What if I ask during instead?

No, Professor Snape will have my head if I interrupt it!

Slinging his bag over his shoulder, Neville Longbottom continued to wage an internal war with himself as he made his way down to the dungeons. Since the announcement of the Yule Ball, students had been securing dates left and right, but he had yet to find one for himself.

He hadn't originally planned on going, until a tiny little voice in his head yelled at him saying how predictable it would be, the timid Gryffindor boy whose only talent was Herbology failed to find a girl who would accompany him to the upcoming dance.

Maybe he could catch her outside the classroom before the bell rang. After all, she was always one of the first to arrive. Not just with Potions, but every class she had.

She had always been nice to Neville. Sure, the other Gryffindors had shown kindness to him, but she was always the one to help him in class when he needed it the most, showing patience the other students and even some of the professors didn't have.

Asking Hermione Granger to the ball was like Neville becoming a profession quidditch player. Next to impossible.

As he descended a stairwell, Neville felt a push from behind and stumbled on the steps. Grasping the banister for support and clenching his fist around the wand stored in his sleeve, he watched as a sixth-year Slytherin boy passed him, laughing at the misfortune he caused.

He slowly let go of the wand handle. Like he would be able to curse him.

Neville always knew his magical skill was poor. From what his grandmother and healers at St. Mungo's told him, he had been in the room during the attack on his parents by Bellatrix Lestrange when he was an infant. The incident had traumatized him, causing his magical growth to be stunted, which was why it manifested at a later date than most other magical children.

If it hadn't been for Hermione, Neville would have failed out of Hogwarts long ago. At least, that's what he believed.

No, it wouldn't be worth it. Completely pointless. But what if-

The mental war had resumed, and Neville paid little attention to the other students he passed, ignoring the jeers his Slytherin age-mates threw at him. His nervousness was making his stomach turn, and he clenched his robes in frustration as he shoved his hands into his pockets.

"Hey Longbottom, the cauldron goes flat side down on the table, 'kay?"

A smug voice sounded in front of him, and Neville spotted Draco Malfoy and his cronies leaning against the wall. Crabbe and Goyle sniggered with relish when Neville's face flushed. However, it wasn't from their cruel words.

Cripes, I'm at the dungeons already!

He had no time to prepare himself, and Hermione was already there! She was staring at Malfoy's back, the dislike evident in her eyes, but she wouldn't draw her wand on him. She was a stickler for rules, not to mention that she considered attacking when someone's back was turned the most cowardly thing someone could do.

Catching her eye, Neville cast his own down at the floor in embarrassment as he felt his face grow red. Crabbe and Goyle laughed even louder still when he stepped by without saying a word. Instead he focused on the quidditch match during their first year, during which he had been in a fight with them, assisting Ron Weasley while doing so. Granted, he had been knocked out, but he internally savored the few punches he had managed to land.

Despite the tiny bit of pleasure he felt, Neville knew that in no way would he ask Hermione to the ball with Malfoy present. The torment would be merciless to both him and Hermione, not that it wasn't already. Neville didn't hear about the time she had been called a mudblood by him until just recently, and when he did, the feelings and thoughts that appeared shocked him.

I wanted to punch him right in the stupid mouth. Good thing Hermione did it last year though. Damn git. He got what he deserved.

Hermione was just his friend, wasn't she? After all, she helped him in class when he needed it, and they sometimes worked on homework together in the library.

But why did he get so embarrassed when he saw her this afternoon?

Neville sighed. The rest of the Gryffindor and Slytherin students were beginning to arrive and congregate outside the door, and Harry and Ron had already joined their best friend, so Neville's chance was gone now.

I have a crush on Hermione Granger, don't I? Yes. Yes I do. That's why asking her to the ball is so hard!

Neville felt almost weightless as he finally admitted to himself what he had been denying for two years, but the nervousness he was feeling had hit its peak. It would only make asking her even harder now.

Professor Snape then opened the classroom door and ushered the students inside, not saying a word.

They didn't have assigned seats, but the Gryffindor half of the class knew that the seat next to Hermione belong to Neville. That was why, when everyone else chose to sit next to their friends, or grab a seat that didn't share a table with a Slytherin, the chair next to the bushy-haired girl remained empty.

She threw Neville a soft and kind smile when he sat down, and he moved his eyes from her face to the scratched tabletop. Previous occupants of the room had carved their names and other proclamations into the surface. Some of them were quite amusing; insults directed to the current teacher of the lessons. They no doubt earned their writer a detention, Neville thought as he read the first few.

Professor Snape loves Moaning Myrtle

Greg and Forge were here…and Snape sucks troll nipples

Snape has a broomstick shoved up his arse

The Weasley twins. Neville would bet all of his money that every insult he could see had been carved by the two troublemakers. He shook his head slightly then, trying to bring his focus back to the tasks at hand; making sure he wouldn't fail yet another assignment, and asking Hermione to the ball.

Turning the pages of his potions textbook, Neville was only slightly amused when he saw what they would be brewing that day; a Girding Potion, used to give the drinker extra endurance.

Oh, I'll need it before the day is out.

As the rest of the class stood to go retrieve the ingredients needed, Neville pushed back his bench with more force than necessary. The time called for drastic action. He strode to the storage shelves, surprising some of the other students with his actions.

Glad that everyone else were too busy trying to grab the equipment in the best condition or fighting over which vial of ingredients had the most in them, Neville lightly tapped Hermione's arm as she turned away.

"Hey, Neville." She smiled at him, and passed him a vial of fairy wings. "Need me to grab some ingredients for you?"

"Umm, no. I think I got them all," he said weakly, raising up the ones he did have. "Thanks for the fairy wings though."

Hermione smiled again. "You're welcome."

Neville's mouth opened and closed with nervousness. For a moment, Hermione looked confused.
"Neville, are you-"

"Will you go to the Yule Ball with me?" The words flew out in a gush, and he slumped forward ever so slightly, as if the task of speaking alone greatly exhausted him.

Hermione's face softened, and the next look she gave him was one of pity.
"I'm sorry Neville…but I've already said I'd go with someone else."

Neville tried to sound nonchalant; a person watching would have said he had done brilliantly. "Oh, all right then. Thanks anyway." Turning away, he made his way back to his own bench, not at all interested in knowing whose invitation she DID accept.

He didn't want to turn back towards her once she sat down, but after several tense moments, he eventually did look up at her.

He couldn't help it. While Hermione was working, her face remained tinged in pink and her eyes still retained the pity she had shown him before, and more than once she dropped a vial of ingredients.

Looking back at his own potions book, Neville sighed again. Oh well. It couldn't be that hard to find someone else to go to the ball with.

And maybe while he was there, he could have at least one dance with Hermione Granger.

Much thanks to my sisters Katie and Emily for supplying the characters I used for this one-shot. I asked for two characters to write about, and this little creation turned up. If anyone else has a request, then by all means, send it over!