A/N: Hello. This is the first time I ever publish a fanfic. How better to be about a great story such as Harry Potter is? Being a one-shot, it's rather small but I sincerely hope you all like it. I choose Neville to be the first character that I every publish my works about because, well, he's just fantastical. I am looking forward to keep publishing my works so I really wish you all leave some opinions.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, everything belongs to J.K. Rowling.
The New Herbology Teacher.
The night had fallen. Grey clouds were covering the stars and the sky was menacing with rain. A storm was coming; that was certain. Through the square window of his living room, the street outside seemed deserted, and the lights began to turn on as time passed - sometimes faster, sometimes slower.
He was going to miss this. The quietness and loneliness. The last few years of independence had been the most liberating thing of his life. Away from the speeches and reprimands of his grandmother. Finally doing something for himself; helping his friends in the Ministry and finishing his studies in Herbology.
He loved Herbology. It was probably the only reason why he would've left his comfortable situation. And not too long ago, that reason happened to present itself. A man had appeared in his door well, late at night, wearing dark robes and a goatee, his hand was in his pocket as if he had been about to draw his wand. The strange man settled and spoke with a soft, slow, grave voice, "Neville Longbottom."
Neville stood in the threshold for a few seconds and then asked with a raspy voice, "Can I help you?"
"Sure you can," the man with grey eyes stepped inside, as if he had been invited in. Neville was still too startled to react but when the visitor had reached the living room, he closed the door and walked with slow pace towards him.
"It won't take much time," the voice seemed faint to Neville, "I am the Professor Ian Fawley, the new Headmaster of Hogwarts."
"A new Headmaster?" Neville repeated astonished, "What happened to Professor McGonagall?"
"She decided to retire," the stranger replied. Turning his head to the window, he continued, "It was too much for her already. She felt very proud of her job. But everything has an end, I suppose."
"So…" Neville narrowed his eyes, "Are you here only to inform me of the news? I could've learned in the Daily Prophet, you know."
"I am not here only to inform you," Professor Fawley said, "I am here to recruit you," he stared at Neville with the calmest eyes.
"Recruit me?" Neville shook his head, "I am sorry but I am out of business."
"I want you to teach," the professor added as if the former had never uttered a word.
After the few seconds that took the message to sink in, Neville asked, "What would I teach?" He was getting rather skeptical of this man.
"Herbology, of course," Fawley shrugged, "What else?" and seeing Neville's stunned face, continued, "I know everything there is to know about you. Don't ask how. I've got my own methods. The only thing you should be acquainted with is that you are recognized throughout in the entire wizard community for your work and I want only the best for Hogwarts. Wouldn't you, if you were in my position?" he arched an eyebrow.
"Y-Yes?" Neville answered faintly.
"Exactly. So that's why I've come here. I need your services in the wizarding school Mr. Longbottom. You are a remarkable herbologist and wizard. And Hogwarts will surely offer you a door that never before had been opened to you," Fawley sounded so convincing but there was a hint of coldness which Neville didn't understand. He was having a hard time focusing, his head was spinning, "And we will offer you alma mater knowledge beyond your dreams."
Neville hasn't moved from the entrance to the living room. He sighed heavily in response. No words could be formulated in his mouth. He was bone dry.
"Very well," the wizard started to rise, "I expect your owl by Monday. If I don't receive it, then… I will have to search harder." He walked passed the still shocked Neville and towards the door, before he finished, "Have a nice night, Mister Longbottom," and the door closed behind him.
Now, a few days after the strange encounter, Neville was sitting in the sofa of the window, taking one last look through it.
All his stuff had been packed in a truck large enough to even hold himself inside. It was waiting, beside the white wooden door, along with the cage of his brown owl, Trevor (he had named the new pet in honor of a long passed friend, a toad). It was surprising how fast he had answered the petition of Professor Fawley. At least it wasn't a joke, he thought, when he got another letter congratulating him of his choice.
It was now September 1st, the start of the 2006 school year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Eight years had passed. Eight years since he finished his studies in one of his favorite places in the world. Eight years since that tragic night, and eight years since the beginning of a new age; an age of freedom, which he had helped build, with blood in his hands, and sweat on his skin.
But it was worth it, he often thought.
Neville stood up at once, after taking a look at his watch. It was past seven. The feast was about to start and he needed to be there already. It wasn't in his nature to be late but he was too nervous to even think about his habits.
Grabbing the heavy truck with one hand and his unsettled owl with the other, he went out through the hallway and onto the street. After a few seconds, Neville Longbottom was gone.
He wasn't sure what was waiting for him inside the castle. He wasn't even sure of how to pronounce his name. He was shaking harder than he ever had before when he appeared on the side of a hill on the outskirts of the good old town of Hogsmeade.
The smell of food coming from the little houses near the road was making him dizzy. He realized he was famished. He knew he couldn't have apparated in the grounds of the school because some protective magic forbidding it, so he had to take a ride to the castle.
After a few minutes searching downtown, he found an old man with a carriage that was transporting some ordered goods up to the school and kindly, he let Neville to sit by his side and travel with him.
Almost fifteen minutes had passed when he saw the great wooden doors of the castle too close now. They were wide open, and a tide of young wizards and witches were entering the stone walls, laughing and jostling each other. That made him sigh, remembering old times that were too far gone already.
The carriage turned left and found a small road between some woods, which lead to the kitchen entrances. Near there, Neville knew, a small door was posted just above that lead to a small room adjoining the Great Hall. How he remembered this, he didn't know.
Thanking the villager, Neville went ahead to the secret doorway. He had to cast an Alohomora spell to open it, but in the end, the heavy door cracked open.
As he got closer to the hall, voices, hundreds of them, were getting louder. He hadn't much time left.
Neville pushed the door that led to the Great Hall and went breathless with what he saw. The sky was looking down on him. The very same grey sky he had witnessed before. Candles were floating all over the place, in the exact height to give the necessary amount of light needed. Fire danced in the torches lining the walls. In front of him, a large table of fine wood spread across the room; several teachers had already taken their places and were chatting about things that Neville couldn't hear. He recognized none of them. In the center of the table, though, a magnificent gold and white chair loomed from above the other ones, radiating power and obedience at the same time.
He got chills all over his body with that sight. He was back. Perhaps the people there weren't the same as eight years before. Perhaps methods had changed and policies, but as far as the castle itself goes, it was exactly the same as it had been all this time in the back of his mind. It felt right, it felt warm, and it felt like home.
Neville couldn't help but smile widely. There'll be more time to worry about the future, he knew that. There'll be time enough to discover and wonder what the purpose of his choice was. There'll be time for answers and more questions and even destiny. But right now, he was home, and there was nothing else. He was home and he knew that there was nowhere else in the world he would rather be.
"Hogwarts will always be there, to welcome you home."
A/N: Reviews will make me 1000000% happier. Thanks a lot for reading.