AN: Hello everyone! I've been signing up for challenges to get me back into the swing of things after losing all the reviews. I know most of you have had the same issues and I'm sincerely sorry for the loss of your reviews - I think we all know how much they mean to us. In any case, I will be getting back around to reviewing the stories that my reviews are gone for, but I apologize for the time it's taking me to do it. Too many things to do! :) Anyway though this is a response to lizzyjonas89 fannon challenge. She gave me the pairing of Neville/Hannah so here was my attempt. I'm not entirely sure about this one. It was fun to do, but I never pictured myself writing Neville. I hope you guys enjoy it!
The first time he had ever really seen her was at her mother’s funeral.
His Grandmother had been friends with the Hannah Abbot’s grandmother and insisted that they attend the funeral. He had felt awkward and out of place amongst all the grieving people, unsure of how to react when he saw her.
Her honey blonde hair had been pulled back into a loose ponytail and she was wearing a pale pink dress. He remembered being surprised, both by the muggle attire and the choice of color. Her complexion had been pale, her eyes dark, and her expression one that would forever be carved into his heart.
She wasn’t sobbing as some were, nor was she apathetic. Instead she stood still, her eyes fixed on the casket her mother was in while silent tears ran down her face.
The image of her standing there, the pretty girl in the pretty pink dress, surrounded by all others in black, crying silently, brought on his own fresh wave of grief.
He knew that face. He knew that expression. He saw it every time he looked in the mirror after his parents had one of their brief moments where they came back to him; the times where his mother would save him a wrapper or the days where his father would mutter “Neville.” It was a grief so strong there was simply no noise to express it.
And his heart ached for her.
Perhaps it was the rare Gryffindor side that he had often found himself questioning that caused his feet to move towards her, but before he knew what his intentions were he was standing next to her. She didn’t look at him and for a moment he almost faltered, the timid side he despised urging him to leave. But then she made a small noise, one that was impossibly quiet, and his feet stuck.
“Hannah?” He questioned silently, his voice surprisingly strong to his own ears. “Hannah - it’s me. Neville.”
For a moment, he cursed himself, wondering why he would say such a thing when the two of them had rarely talked before, but then she looked up at him, her eyes acknowledging his presence.
“Hello Neville.” Her voice was very soft. “Thank you for coming.”
The line sounded so very rehearsed to his ears and he wondered how many times she had been forced to say it already. He shifted, a nervous habit, and then said the first thing that had popped into his mind. “I like your dress.”
She looked surprised, the first change in expression he had seen since he arrived. “Do you?” She looked down, one hand absentmindedly running over the material. “I think you’re the only one.”
When her eyes raised back up to his, a small smile was on her face. “No one thinks it’s appropriate.” That smile lingered, grew warmer. “It was my mother’s favorite color on me. She always told me I was all light colors.”
He felt the sting at his heart, realizing with that single statement how close they must have been. His voice unconsciously gentled at he responded. “She sounds wonderful.”
Tears formed at the corner of her eyes, but the small smile remained. “She is - was.” She let out a shaky breath, her lips trembling. “Do you believe in an afterlife, Neville?”
“Yes,” he responded quietly, “I do.”
Her hand reached out, traced an embroidery. “My mother did.” She tilted her head to the side as she spoke. “She was a muggle and Catholic. She took me to Church at least once a month and taught me about God, and Jesus, and the Holy Spirit; heaven and hell.” Her gaze connected with his. “I hope she’s in heaven. I hope she’s not really gone.”
She pressed her lips together for a moment and he felt the inexplicable urge to pull her close, to soak in some of the grief so she didn’t have to have it. Anything to take that broken look off her face.
“Do you think it’s horrible of me to not care too much about the Death Eaters who killed her?” Her question shocked him, throwing him off guard.
She continued without waiting for an answer. “It’s not that I don’t want them to be taken to Azkaban and to get what they deserve, it’s just that my mother’s gone.”
Her voice broke, another tear trickling down her cheek.
“How can I focus on them, on revenge, when I have to make a new life without the person who meant the most to me? How can I even bring myself to care? And how could I ever live with myself if one of them means as much to someone else as my mother meant to me and I help in taking them away?”
Her voice ended on a whisper with a desperate type of grief that left him reeling. “What kind of person am I?”
He had never had anyone look at him in quite that way before, as if he carried the answers to the problem, as if he could actually help. His heart thumped so loudly he was surprised she didn’t hear it and then he found himself speaking without thinking. “You’re the kind of person who fits light colors; the kind of person who feels so much that sometimes they think they might break if they don’t just stop feeling. You’re the type of person who wears a pink dress to a funeral because it was their mother’s favorite color on them and you’re the type of person who would stop to take the time to think about other peoples grief over the few who have turned your world upside down.”
His hand unconsciously found it’s way to her shoulder. “You’re the kind of person who your mother would be proud of.”
Her bottom lip quivered - once, twice, and then suddenly he found her in his arms, sobbing the way he imagined she should have, but hadn’t. And for once, he was not awkward, clumsy Neville. He was the person someone could hold onto, could depend on for saying the right thing when no one else had managed it.
The next time he saw her had been shortly after the last battle. She had been one of the few standing alone and he had found himself drawn towards her.
When she had seen him coming near, a variety of expressions had crossed her face; a pleasure that had sent his heart reeling once more, an embarrassment he had immediately wanted to erase, and a hesitance that he found oddly endearing.
“Hannah.” His lips curved automatically at the sound of her name leaving his lips as they had so often done whenever he had thought of her.
“Neville,” she responded with a smile, a bit of her hesitance leaking away. “How are you?”
“I’m good.” He took a step closer, feeling that boldness that only over seemed to appear when she was near arise within him. “How have you been?”
The genuine sincerity in his voice seemed to melt away her original embarrassment. “I’ve been well.” She smiled. “Better.”
The smile faltered for a moment, a slightly uneasy expression adorning her features. “I never thanked you.” She bit her lip, her nerves showing. “For helping me that day. You were very kind. Thank you for being there.”
He couldn’t quite help the blush that rose onto his features. “I’m glad I was.” He paused and then blurted out something he had thought about telling her everyday. “I’ve thought about you.” He could feel the blush he hated deepening. “I mean - I know we weren’t really friends in school, but I always liked talking to you and I just -” His voice broke off as he found himself unsure of what to say. Finally he settled with the truth. “I missed you.”
This time she was the one who blushed, a beaming smile forming on her lips. He immediately thought of colors; pink, white, swirls of light that left his head spinning. He blinked, coming back to himself in time to hear her asking, “Would you like to hang out sometime?” The blush on her cheeks was sweet. “I’d like to be friends.”
He knew the grin that formed on his face was silly, but he didn’t care.
“Yes. I’d like that too.”
Five years passed by and in that time Hannah became everything to him. She was his best friend, the person he went to for anything as well as the person he was there for, for anything. Most of the things that they did were spent together and he supposed, in retrospect, that might have been the reason why he had taken such a kick in the gut when she began dating a man she had met while working at the Leaky Cauldron.
“He’s so nice, Nev,” she had proclaimed happily one day after work. “I really think you’d like him.”
He had nodded agreeably and put on his best supporting face, but the minute she had left he had allowed the realization to sink in, the idea that he had been vacillating over for quite some time, that he was completely and utterly in love with his best friend.
He couldn’t exactly pinpoint when that moment had occurred. Perhaps the time he had seen her make a snow angel, or the day they went for coffee and she smeared whip cream all over his face. It could have been the first time she visited his parents with him and brought them flowers, as she continued to do. Maybe it was that day he had seen her across the hall, safe after the final battle. Quite possibly it could have been the moment when she had stood looking so utterly broken at her mothers funeral.
Either way, he supposed it didn’t really matter how or when, but more that it was. And he had absolutely no idea what to do about it.
The man from the Leaky Cauldron hadn’t lasted long and he had tried not to show any of his pleasure over that fact. The happiness he had derived from that break-up, though, quickly died as Hannah began to smile less and come over more sporadically. He had grown to look so forward to their meetings in Hogsmeade that when those suddenly stopped he had no idea what to do with himself.
Even Professor McGonagall had eventually grown tired of his “moping” and suggested that he just go and speak to her instead of sitting around like an incompetent child.
That had stung him enough that the next night he had left Hogwarts to go to her little flat. He had apparated their quickly, an urge to see her crawling within him.
Once he had reached her flat he had been surprised to see that all the lights were out. The surprise had quickly grew to concern when she didn’t answer. He had called out her name, knocking on the door a bit harder when the older woman who lived next to her stepped out of her door to tell him that she had seen Hannah leave with flowers.
For a moment his heart had fallen at the idea of her seeing someone else once again, when he abruptly remembered what day it was.
He cursed himself for forgetting, thanked her neighbor, and apparated immediately to the place he knew she would be.
The gates creaked open as he walked through, his eyes automatically searching for the light head of hair. His gaze caught on her when he noticed some curls blowing in the wind.
He stopped moving, struck for a moment, as he had often found himself, whenever looking at her. One of her hands was running gently up and down the grave, a lovely bouquet of pink flowers that he recognized as ones being from his own green house at Hogwarts already situated next to it. A soft smile rose onto his features as he slowly began moving forward.
He kneeled down once he reached her, not failing to notice how she stiffened when he placed his hand on her back. “I’m sorry I forgot.” He could easily hate himself for it.
She gently eased out of his hold and he felt the sting to his heart like a slap. “It’s alright.”
“Are you angry with me?” It slipped out before he could think, an undertone of fear to his voice that he couldn’t quite prevent leaking in.
She whipped her head back towards him, her eyes searching his intensely before she sighed. “No.” She sounded unbearably tired. “Of course I’m not, Nev.” This time she was the one to touch him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. “I’m just being silly. I promise I’ll get over it.”
His brow furrowed together, concern shooting through him as he pulled her closer, tightening his grip. “What’s wrong, Hannah?” He asked quietly. “You know you can tell me anything, right?”
She rested his head against his shoulder and mumbled something he couldn’t hear. He frowned and pushed her backwards, surveying her miserable expression. “What is it?” He demanded, unusually furious with whatever or whomever had put that look on her face. “Tell me what’s wrong.”
She looked away from him, wringing her hands together in a nervous gesture he had come to be familiar with over the years. Silence reigned between them for several moments before she finally spoke. “Would you ever hate me, Neville?”
He rocked back on his heels, stunned by the question. “What? No! Of course not.” He moved forward, refusing to allow her to put space between them. “Why would you ask me something like that?” He searched her eyes for answers. “You’re my best friend, Hannah.” And the love of my life, he thought weakly.
She bit her lip, looking away once more. “And you’re mine, Nev. It’s just -” she broke off, her voice hesitant. “The thing is -”
He waited impatiently. “Yes?”
She turned back towards him with tears shining in her eyes. “The thing is Neville is that I’m pretty sure I’m in love with you and I know you don’t feel the same way and I just don’t know how much longer I could have stood not saying anything.” She took a deep breath, her pupils slightly dilated. “I don’t want to ruin our friendship, but it’s difficult to try and date when I have all these unresolved feelings for you.”
She sent him a weak smile while he continued to stare at her, trying to process everything she had just said. “I’m not really sure when it happened. It just did. You’re just so kind, Neville, and so much braver than you’ve ever given yourself credit for. You’re a wonderful Professor, the best friend anyone could ever have, and I love you.”
She took another deep breath and he noticed that her hands were trembling. “There I’ve said it. I love you. I’m sorry.”
He caught her hands as she got up to leave, pulling her back down so quickly she gasped. He stared at her for a moment, one hand releasing her own to come up and gently brush across her face. Her eyes continued to stay wide open, something like hope flickering within them.
“Hannah,” his voice was tender, his touches soft. “Do you know every time you smile at me I have a hard time breathing?” He wanted to ease any of that hurt he had seen in her face, remove any of her doubts over the possibility of him returning those feelings. “It’s like there are colors everywhere and sometimes I wonder why you’re even standing near me because I’m Neville. Clumsy, awkward, has anyone seen my toad, Neville. But when I’m around you, I’m not. When I’m around you I’m Neville, the Herbology Professor who teaches confidently; Neville, the boy who can actually say the right thing, and Neville, the man who actually belonged in Gryffindor.”
He tilted her face up, not embarrassed to realize that his own eyes were shining. Her eyes closed as he bent forward, his lips gently brushing across hers - once, twice, before he went deeper. “Hannah,” he murmured quietly against her lips, “I love you too.”
She threw her arms around him and he laughed, picking her up and swinging her around in a circle. He realized once again, that it wasn’t awkward or clumsy. It was he and Hannah, the person who could bring out the best in him, who could make everything light, and it was perfect.