Title: Chocolate Box Girl
Prompt: #7, Victoire Weasley/Neville Longbottom
Challenge: 2012 Mew and Mor's Weird Pairings Competition. Pairing: het. Format: one-shot. Length: 1500 words.
Notes: This was written for M&MWP 2012 Competitions over at HPFC. Six characters... three pairings... one month... one drabble... one one-shot... and one freeverse... What have I gotten myself into? It's disgustingly fluffy - it started off as angsty, but I just couldn't do it. I love this pairing too much. The pairing in question was discovered by M&MWP, and so, without further ado... I present Chocolate Box Girl.
The first time he felt anything out of the ordinary for her, the oldest Weasley, was on Boxing Day, 2018 in the Weasley Burrow, happily extended to provide for all of their extended family, plus a few extras.
Victoire was curled on the couch, a blanket hastily thrown over her still-slightly-shivering form. The hearth fire at the centre of the room crackled noisily and Neville glared at it, daring it to wake her.
That made him pause in itself.
But still, the firelight cast pretty patterns on her oh-so-beautiful face, so Neville decided to let it burn a while longer.
There were books and papers strewn across the floor, and Neville vaguely remembered that Victoire would be starting her Healer training in January, much to the annoyance of her mother.
A half-eaten, half-squashed box of chocolates acted as Victoire's pillow.
Quietly, he crept over to the makeshift bed and crouched down next to it, resting an elbow on the cushion and supporting his head, which was tilted ever so slightly at just the right angle, so that he could see her long eyelashes and thin, parted lips.
Neville never realised before, but Victoire had a small scar at the corner of her mouth. He was compelled to kiss it.
Instead, though, he leant forward and ran a hand across her cheek, to soothe the quiet moans which spoke of nightmares that came from those lips.
Victoire always looked so tired, now, and maybe that was why.
His joints creaked and his eyes spoke of a sadness that only those who have loved and lost, and those who have never loved at all, could ever understand. Neville stood, slowly, and leant against one of the sagging cushions of the Weasley living room and laid his head on a blanket.
Victoire made a sleepy noise of protest when he moved her hand from her face to rearrange the quilts.
Neville didn't say a word.
The next morning, Harry woke him up from where he was sitting, rather uncomfortably, on the floor with a steaming glass of eggnog and the words - "You look as though you need it, mate," - and the information that it was well past twelve o 'clock on the 27th December.
Neville looked down, almost dazedly, and saw the blanket that had once been wrapped around the sleeping body of Victoire Weasley was wrapped around him instead, with a note haphazardly pinned to it.
It said, 'Thank You.'
Neville then tended to stay at the Weasley household more and more- namely at Christmas and Easter holidays, when he needed a break from Hogwarts and the clashes of red, green, yellow and blue.
Christmas always reminded him of Luna, a past flame, and though he adored her and they remained close friends, Luna reminded him of his seventh year at Hogwarts, of darker times and memories he'd sooner wish to forget.
And he didn't really like chocolate - in fact, Neville was pretty sure he was allergic - so Easter always had him sneezing round every chocolate-laden corridor.
Therefore, he figured that his escapes to the Burrow were justified.
When there, however, Neville always awoke at around two o'clock, stumbled downstairs, and was met with the image of a sleeping Victoire on the sofa.
He never asked why.
Neville always checked in the living room after that Christmas and the Easter after; just to make sure, he reassured himself.
Sometimes, he let himself stay. Other times, he made himself leave.
Tonight, though, it was not an Easter, or a Christmas, and the year was 2020. The air was hot in the room and the fire was no longer needed, but the floorboards still creaked and the ghoul still clattered from his place in the attic.
Neville thought that Victoire must've been used to it - all the other Weasleys seemed to be, and even Neville was noticing the noise less and less.
This was one of those nights where he stayed.
When Neville awoke, alone again, a Muggle post-it note had been stuck to his forehead. It read, 'The guilt trip's not working, Professor. I like sleeping down here.'
That was a little part of Victoire that people never saw often; people she liked saw the polite, charming Ravenclaw girl who detested stereotypes and war stories, who Neville had taught through four of her years at Hogwarts.
People she didn't like saw that spoiled bitch, Victory Weasley, who flipped off paparazzi and lived with a glare (that everyone was sure she had inherited from her grandmother) permanently on her face.
Neville felt that the little notes let a little glimmer of the real sarcastic, lively Victoire shine through.
He also told himself that he was the only person who ever saw that small part of her, and hey; maybe he was right after all.
Maybe Neville should've noticed earlier.
He had always had a rather warped view of reality, Neville. His dreams consisted of chocolate-box-cottages and chocolate-box-romances and chocolate-box-hearts, and his nightmares of failing exams and displeasing his grandmother and never having the courage to ask the wildly eccentric Luna Lovegood out.
All three happened eventually, and he conquered all three in the end.
As it was, he didn't notice the fact that Victoire's notes were getting longer, the fact that the eldest Weasley daughter had started to smile at him a lot more than was warranted, and the fact that his heart really shouldn't be beating that fast.
It was confirmed: he would have to go to St. Mungo's. Preferably a bed with a view. And not next to Lockhart.
"Nev," Victoire whispered into his ear softly. She always called him that now; they were both around more, what with her graduation and his divorce. Neville sat up, startled.
"Victoire?" He whispered back. He was on the sofa, again, but Victoire was there. He was not alone.
"Hey." She smiled at him, then lifted her finger to her lips, and pointed upstairs. "They're all still sleeping. The boys especially won't be up 'til ten, and Uncle Harry would have to tear the house down to persuade Aunt Ginny or Uncle Ron to get up at a reasonable hour."
Neville nodded dazedly. "What did you need, Vic?"
"I, uh..." She batted her eyelids softly, and if she were any less Veela, Neville was sure she would've been blushing. "I got you a present. It's Easter morning, you know."
"Is it?" He asked, before shaking his head. "Wait, you got me a present? I didn't get you anything. I mean, I got a whole basket for everyone, and that, but nothing personal..."
"It's fine," Victoire laughed, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. "I only got you a little something anyway. It's probably due."
From under the cushion she had previously been leaning on, Victoire revealed a vague, light green, heart-shaped box with a pretty dark green ribbon wrapped around it cleanly. Green was Neville's favourite colour, after all.
"Oh," he said, taking the box and tapping a rhythm on it lightly.
"It's okay. Open it."
And Neville did. Inside were various, multi-coloured little seeds, each one resting on chocolate brown tissue paper. The coloured card that usually told you what fillings the chocolates were showed him pictures of the plants in full bloom.
Victoire smirked, and said, "I know you don't like chocolates."
So Neville kissed her.
Neville wrote her poetry - not Shakespeare or Byron or Tennyson, but from the heart and funny - and smiled at her - charming, sweet, but not stunning, and just how she liked it - and held her hand, as if to say,
"She's mine and I love her."
Victoire ate chocolates and turned her nose up at his little gifts - not accepting them with grace and poise like a nice girl, but well, Neville would just have to try harder next time, wouldn't he? He loved a challenge, after all.
She scowled at him - scathing, demeaning, but beautiful, and Neville knew when to stop talking and listen - and held his hand as if to say, "He's mine. Back off. La di da," and all those other things beautiful girls thought.
It's not like she was saying,
"He's mine. This lovely, charming, sweet, beautiful man is mine so I'm going to hang onto him for as long as I can. Please?"
Victoire was beautiful; gold, and light, and a pretty face and tied up hair and shining eyes and freedom. She was free. And Neville loved her. Neville was broken; dark, and shadowed, and a handsome face and messy hair and haunted eyes and freedom.
He had broken free. And Victoire loved him.
Together they shone, and shone, and even though they had shadows under their eyes and the blessings of their friends and families were reluctant at best, they were happy.
Because who could compare to them? They were light and dark, fallen and martyred, and, of course, perfect.
After all; she was his chocolate-box-girl.