- Harry Potter/Neville Longbottom
- Neville Longbottom Remus Lupin Severus Snape Nymphadora Tonks Harry and Hermione and Ron
- Mystery Adventure
- The Harry Potter at Hogwarts Years
Published: 01/16/2006Updated: 06/19/2006Words: 134,451Chapters: 37Hits: 105,190
- Story Summary:
- Neville's Gran breaks her hip just after his fifth year at Hogwarts, and he must spend the summer with Harry and Remus at No. 12 Grimmauld Place. He and Harry discover a hidden message in the candy wrappers Neville's mother has been giving him over the years, and they begin to uncover secrets about the past, even as they must confront dangers in the present. Along the way, Neville learns just how much he has in common with The Boy Who Lived, and how to be his own kind of hero.
Chapter 09 - Chapter Nine
- Chapter Summary:
- In which the full moon arrives, and the boys find themselves burdened with an unpleasant babysitter.
One day at supper Lupin said, "Boys, in case you haven't noticed, the full moon starts tonight."
Neville had not noticed, had in fact forgotten that Lupin was a werewolf. Now, however, he could see that Lupin looked even more drawn than usual.
"As I told you before, I'll be confined in the basement. It's been made secure, so you'll be perfectly safe. But I must stress again that under no condition should you try to come see me, even during the day. I'll be in no shape to receive visitors."
Neville shivered. "Why would anyone try to visit you at the full moon?"
Lupin scratched his chin and glanced at Harry. "I've had that kind of problem before."
"You'll be all right, though?" Harry asked.
"I'll be fine. Remember, this is all normal for me."
"But who is coming to stay with us?" Neville asked.
"Um, yes." Lupin fumbled with his teaspoon, not meeting their gazes. "Professor Dumbledore contacted me to let me know that...that Professor Snape has graciously agreed to come stay here."
Neville stifled a whimper, and Harry's jaw dropped. "Snape?! Remus, it can't possibly be him!"
"He *is* the one who brews the wolfsbane potion, and he helped me through my transformations when I was teaching. He's probably the best qualified person to be here."
"But he hates us!" Harry exclaimed. "It'll be torture!"
Lupin frowned. "Well, Harry, it can't be helped, so you'll just have to bear it. He's coming here because *I* need it, so I'm counting on you to get along with him."
Crossing his arms over his chest, Harry grumbled, "That's impossible."
"This, coming from the boy who's faced Voldemort more times than most aurors? I know you don't like him, but believe me, I know all about having to deal with unpleasant things I don't like at all."
Harry appeared a bit sheepish at that.
"You are both competent, capable, mature young men. You don't *have* to hate him, Harry, and Neville, you don't have to fear him."
Neville studied the sandwich crust on his plate. He had faced Death Eaters at the Ministry. He'd faced Bellatrix Lestrange. Yet he'd rather go up against any of them than have to spend two days and three nights with Snape. Still, he would do it, for Lupin's sake. He offered a feeble smile. "I guess we're not in school, after all, so he can't take points from us."
As the evening wore on, Lupin grew increasingly restless and fidgety, while Harry and Neville were scarcely any more composed. They had just finished a tense dinner when they heard someone enter by the front door. The three of them sat up stiffly around the table. The kitchen door opened, and Severus Snape stepped in. He looked no more pleased to see them than they were to see him.
"Severus," Lupin said, shakily getting to his feet. "It's good to see you." He was the only person in the room for whom the statement might hold any truth.
Snape raised one thick black eyebrow and withdrew a flask from his robes. He silently handed it to Lupin, who uncorked it and hastily took a sip, grimacing as he swallowed. "That hits the spot. Well, boys, this is when I must leave you. I'll see you in a couple of days." He held their gaze in turn, giving them a warm, encouraging look.
"Take care, Remus," said Harry. "I think me and Neville may as well turn in, too." He looked hopefully at Neville. "Don't you think?"
"Oh, yeah," Neville hastily agreed. "I'm tired."
Harry looked relieved. "Um, good night, Professor Snape."
Snape sneered. "I'll be seeing you two gentlemen in the morning." He followed Lupin out of the kitchen.
The boys poked their heads into the hallway and listened as Snape and Lupin went downstairs to the basement. They could faintly hear a heavy door being opened, followed by a metallic rattling noise that sounded a lot like chains.
Harry turned a pale face to Neville. "Let's go upstairs before he gets back."
Neville nodded. "Um - Remus will be all right, won't he?"
"He'll be fine. After all, this has been happening to him every month since he was six. It's *us* I'm worried about."
They skipped practicing that night, though Harry curled tightly around Neville as they drifted into an uneasy slumber. Before Neville knew it, he was opening his eyes to the dim morning light. With a groan, he pulled the covers over his head, wanting to sleep through the next two days until it was safe to emerge again.
Harry stirred next to him. "I know," he mumbled. "I don't want to get up either."
"Can't we just stay up here?"
"He knows we're in the house. He might come looking for us."
Neville shuddered. He *really* didn't want Snape to find them, especially when they were in bed together.
"We don't need to get up just yet though." Harry yawned and scooted closer, resting his head on Neville's shoulder and wrapping an arm around his waist.
Neville wondered if Harry might want to practice this morning, but he made no move to do so. He just lay curled up in Neville's arms. Neville was quite sure that this was not standard routine when boys practiced together, but he wasn't about to point that out. It felt too nice. And not just that - comforting, too, an assurance that he wouldn't have to face Snape alone. Harry would be with him. They were in this together.
They dozed on and off for a few more hours until Neville's stomach rumbled loudly for breakfast. "I suppose we have to get up eventually," he apologized.
Harry slowly sat up, leaning back on his hands. "Might as well get on with it."
"For Remus, right?"
Harry grinned at him. "Right. For Remus."
They got up and dressed, meeting in the hall to go down the stairs together. They were relieved to find that Snape was nowhere to be seen, and they hastily fixed themselves some breakfast.
They had just settled down to eat when the door opened to reveal Snape staring disapprovingly down his beaked nose at them.
"So the two of you finally emerged from hibernation. No wonder the laboratory is still such a mess if you sleep half the day away."
"We've been working hard," Harry protested. Neville's eyes almost popped out of his head. He couldn't believe Harry had the audacity to talk back to Snape like that.
"Have you?" drawled Snape. "Well, I'll make certain you do today. That project is too important to permit such sloppy work. When you've finished eating your...brunch, I want the two of you to report upstairs to the laboratory. And Longbottom, I want to see your plans for the purification ritual."
"Remus has already checked the plans," Harry said, scowling. "He says everything is fine."
Snape raised one eyebrow. "We'll see about that. I expect you both upstairs in fifteen minutes." He turned on his heel and swept out of the kitchen.
"The nerve of him!" Harry fumed, waving his toast. "Handing out orders as if he's the boss. Dumbledore put Remus in charge, not that old bat!"
"B-but what can we do?"
"We'll just do what we've been doing. You don't need to worry, Neville. Remus said your plans were fine."
"I-I know, but S-snape...."
"Remember, you don't have to be afraid of him."
Neville gave Harry a skeptical look. "You're not supposed to hate him, either."
Harry hesitated. "Well, some things never change."
"Same for me."
With a lusty sigh, Harry said, "All right. If you try not to be afraid of him, I'll try --," he grimaced, "-not to hate him."
Neville ventured a tiny smile. "Okay. But I think you'll have a harder time of it."
Fourteen and three-quarters of a minute later they entered the laboratory to find Snape standing in the center of the room, arms across his chest, scowling into the corners as if he expected piskies to jump out at him.
"Your plans?" he asked, holding out a bony hand.
Neville sidled up to Snape and extended a roll of parchment, jumping when Snape snatched it from his grasp. "I'll look this over while you two finish cleaning in here."
"What?" Harry yelped. "But it's already clean!"
Snape gave an oily smile and pointed over their heads. "Not the ceiling."
"How many times must I remind you how absolutely crucial this laboratory is in the war against the Dark Lord? Everything must be perfect. Do you want to ruin our chances because you can't bear a little hard labor?"
"We've *been* working hard!" Harry protested.
"Then a little more won't kill you!" barked Snape. "Scrub that ceiling down! And don't forget to disinfect it!" And before Harry could complain again, Snape stormed out of the room, Neville's parchment in hand.
While Harry sputtered and swore, Neville looked up at the ceiling. "It *is* rather grungy," he observed.
Harry shot him a dark look. "Oh, all right! Fine!"
They gathered the cleaning things and got to work.
"I've lost all feeling in my arm," Harry complained, rubbing at his shoulder.
Neville paused in his scrubbing, lowering his arm to let the blood drain back into it. "Maybe we should use a levitation charm on our arms. I don't think I can hold mine up much longer."
Harry smirked at him. Dried soap suds spattered his glasses, and both of them were drenched in dirty drip water. They'd been working all day, and they were almost done. But Neville had to admit, the ceiling had desperately needed cleaning. He'd thought the ceiling was brown, but underneath all the grime it had proved to be white. He'd be glad when they finished, though. Something about this room always made his flesh crawl.
"I bet Remus will be pleased," he said.
Harry let go of some of his irritation. "Yeah. We're doing it for him, anyway. And for the Order."
"All the same," Neville said, "maybe we should slow down. If we finish the ceiling today, he might come up with something worse for us to do tomorrow."
Rotating his sore arm, Harry grumbled, "What could possibly be worse than this?"
"Oh, I'm sure Snape could come up with something."
They grinned at each other, but before either of them could speculate further, the door opened.
"Still not finished?" Snape growled.
The two boys flinched guiltily as the potions master studied their progress. "The chandelier is disgusting. I hope you don't think you're going to get out of cleaning it."
With a visible effort, Harry managed to answer civilly, "We wanted to finish the ceiling first, Professor."
"Hmmm." Snape's eyes flicked to Neville. "I've read your plans, Longbottom. Why are you using sage in the banishment charm? Jasmine is much more effective."
"Y-yes, Professor. But the jasmine has to be fresh, and we can't grow it in time. Sage grows faster, though."
Snape's brows furrowed. "Indeed. Well, at least you compensated for the substitution by adding essence of sandalwood. Otherwise your charm wouldn't so much as banish a dustmouse. And what possessed you to use ground bloodstone for the cleansing spell? Simple salt will do."
"I know. But Professor Lupin said the Blacks probably did dark magic here, so I thought it needed something stronger."
"Is that so?" But Neville thought he could almost see something like approval in Snape's expression. "Well, it's clear that you've had a lot of help. No doubt Lupin did most of the work."
"No," Harry smirked, arms folded across his chest. "He only made a couple of suggestions. Neville did it all."
"You helped, Harry," Neville quietly pointed out.
Snape's lip curled. "I hate to interrupt this meeting of the Mutual Admiration Society, but that ceiling is not finished. If you want to get done before bedtime, I suggest you get back to work."
Snape turned to leave, but before he could sweep out of the room, Neville called out, "P-p-professor!"
Pausing at the door, Snape turned back with a sneer. "Yes, L-l-longbottom?"
Taking a deep breath, as if he could inhale courage into his lungs, Neville said, "I-I was j-just wondering how Remus is doing?"
"That's Prof--." Snape caught himself, as if suddenly remembering that Lupin was no longer a professor, and for a moment he seemed at a loss to continue. Rallying at last he said, "You should refer to him as 'Lupin.' Such familiarity with adults is not to be tolerated."
"Yes, sir," Neville answered meekly.
"Lupin is well enough, considering his condition." Snape hesitated, long fingers tapping uncertainly on the doorframe. "Out of curiosity, how has his health been this summer?"
"Why should you care?" Harry shot back.
Snape's eyes narrowed. "Oh, I assure you, Potter, I care a great deal. You see, the Headmaster has entrusted his health to me, and I am keenly interested in keeping him well. If he became too ill to look after the two of you, the Headmaster might ask me to assume that duty." He favored them with a predatory smile. "I'm sure none of us want that."
"No, Professor," Harry sneered.
Before Snape could rebuke Harry for his insolence, Neville piped up, "Has Remus - Lupin - been ill, sir?"
Snape's dark eyes swiveled to Neville. "Not ill, exactly. But since the death of his --," he paused, mouth twisting as if tasting what word would be most palatable, "-his *associate,* he has not been in full form."
There was a long, awkward silence. Neville didn't know how Harry would react to hearing Snape speak of Sirius, no matter how obliquely. To his surprise, Harry answered with a rather subdued, "He's been fine."
Snape scowled. "'Fine' is not the word I would use." His mouth snapped shut, as if he hadn't meant to say that, and he straightened up and glared imperiously at them. "Anyway, it is none of your concern. Now get back to that ceiling!" And pivoting sharply on his heel, he left.
For several moments after he'd left, the two boys sat silently on their ladders. At last Neville turned to Harry. "You don't think there's something wrong with Remus, do you?"
"He's fine," Harry grumbled, glaring at the door through which Snape had exited. "He just misses Sirius, is all. And why shouldn't he? That's not something a greasy old bat like Snape would understand. It's not like *he's* ever had any friends."
Neville said nothing, dipping his scrub brush into the soap bucket. Certainly he couldn't imagine Snape having friends, but he had seemed genuinely concerned about Remus underneath all his scorn. Neville wondered if he and Harry should be worried about Remus's condition.
Breaking the solemn air, Harry grinned at Neville. "But did you notice? He couldn't find anything wrong with your plan! You did really well, Neville!"
"He didn't like the sage."
"So? He didn't say it was wrong, either. I bet if it *was* for school, you'd get an O."
"But I did have help."
"I just helped you research. You're the one who put it all together. See? Remus was right, you *can* do a good job when no one's yelling at you."
Neville blushed. He didn't quite want to think that he could be competent. There was something a bit alarming about that thought. If he *could* do things, then people might *expect* him to do them, and that could lead to all sorts of things like responsibility and people counting on him. In some ways it was easier to be incompetent.
But he didn't want to think about it. Right now, scrubbing the ceiling suited him just fine. After all, any idiot could do that. "Let's finish the cleaning," he said, picking up his scrub brush and climbing back up the ladder.
"Sure thing, boss!" Harry grinned.
By the time they quit for the day, they had finished cleaning the ceiling, and had gotten a good start on the chandelier. They would still need to disinfect the lot, but the worst of it was over.
As usual, other members of the Order began to show up around dinnertime, and Neville and Harry were able to elude Snape for the rest of the evening. When the meeting started, they retreated to Neville's room, where they read some more Tolkein as a reward for a hard day's work. Neville's eyelids drooped as he read through the interminable council scene, and at last he was nudged awake by a bony elbow in his ribs.
"Oi, Neville! Why don't you wake up and go to sleep?" snickered Harry.
Neville stretched and gave a lusty yawn. "Sorry about that. I'm knackered."
"Me too. Why don't we turn in? We need our rest if we have to face another day of torture from Snape tomorrow."
They quickly dressed for bed and doused the lights, sliding under the covers together, facing each other on the pillows.
"Poor Remus," Harry sighed. "I hope he's all right."
Neville pulled the covers up tight around his neck. "I bet it's painful, turning into a wolf."
"It is," Harry said, yawning.
Instantly curious, Neville asked, "How do you know?"
"I saw it happen to him third year."
"You saw it?!" Neville exclaimed.
"Yeah. It's - it's a long story. We lost track of time. We weren't supposed to be there when it happened."
"Was it awful?"
"Terrible. And scary. And it seemed really painful."
"Did he - ? I mean, were you in danger?"
"Yes. But there was someone there to keep us safe."
Neville felt like an idiot, but Harry continued, "He fought the werewolf off. Poor Remus. It wasn't his fault, really."
"I think, all things considered, I'd rather *not* see him turn into a werewolf."
"I wish I hadn't seen it, either."
They fell silent.
"So...I imagine you're too tired to practice tonight?" Harry asked.
Immediately Neville woke up. As casually as he could, he said, "That would be all right, for a while."
Without another word, they slid together and started kissing. They had a routine now. They didn't sit up to kiss anymore, but they didn't press closely together, either. It was strictly an above-the-neck affair, but Neville hardly minded. Harry had gotten very good at kissing, and he didn't really need the practice anymore, but Neville wasn't about to put a stop to it, not when the practicing brought him so much benefit. They would kiss for several minutes until one of them, usually Harry, said, "That's enough practice for one night," and they would turn away from each other and go to sleep.
That night was no different at first. After an unpleasant day of hard work and dirty soap suds, it was nice to lie there and kiss Harry, smelling so clean after his shower, his lips soft and warm. But Neville was very tired, and he started drifting asleep even before Harry had called it quits on the kissing.
At last Harry nudged him awake. "I think we ought to go to bed." Neville could hear the grin in his voice.
"Yeah," he yawned, turning on his side away from Harry. "Good night, then."
Neville's limbs felt heavy, sleep creeping over him like a warm blanket, when he was suddenly jerked awake again by a small noise.
It hadn't been very loud, but it was unusual enough that it disturbed Neville's sleep. He lay in the dark, concentrating hard, and slowly he realized several things. The blanket spread over both him and Harry was moving, the mattress was shaking ever so slightly beneath him, and he could hear a wet, slick sound. He knew what that sound was. He'd heard it many a night in the Gryffindor dorm.
Harry was wanking.
Neville lay perfectly still, listening hard, breathing through his mouth so as not to make a sound. He could hear Harry panting slightly, he could *feel* the movements of what Harry was doing. His own cock instantly hardened in response, and he bit his lip so as not to groan.
It wasn't as if he hadn't listened to his dormmates wank before. After all, Dean, Ron and Seamus thought nothing of wanking in front of each other. And they all heard it when anyone wanked quietly in his own bed. But Harry was doing this in Neville's bed, with Neville right there. It didn't matter that their backs were to each other: this was *his bed.* And Harry was *wanking* in it. His spunk would get on the sheets.
Oh. Neville knew he had to stop thinking about this right now. His cock ached, and he wanted desperately to move, to touch himself, to make a sound. But he'd die of embarrassment if Harry knew he was awake. Still, it wasn't fair for Harry to have all the fun. Under cover of Harry's quiet sounds, Neville slowly slid his hand beneath the covers and into his pajamas. He almost hissed when his sweaty palm wrapped around his cock. He'd done this many times before, but this was different. He was in bed with Harry, Harry was wanking, and Neville could pretend that the cock in his hand was Harry's, that it was Harry's hand on his cock. He could imagine they were wanking each other and it was the most unbearably erotic thing Neville had ever experienced. He was so hard and horny and aroused that he almost missed it when Harry suddenly grew still, releasing his breath in a long sigh. At the sibilant sound, Neville came hard, hot pleasure spilling in his hand, and oh god it was wonderful. He held his breath so as not to make a sound.
Afterward they both lay perfectly still, breathing deep and even. Had Harry heard him? He had no idea. But neither of them said anything or in any way betrayed that they knew what each of them had been up to.
Neville slept very well that night.