Chapter Two: Year Two and Three

I: Rants & Disappearing Plants

By now, no doubt, you've got a good idea of what sort of fellow Neville Longbottom was: kind, clumsy, and undervalued by some (especially a certain Severus Snape). But Neville was in truth a regular boy with hopes and dreams like the rest of them: he wanted friends, good grades, and the ability to get through a single day without forgetting something or breaking something. He entered his second year at Hogwarts, and for a single day, everything seemed relatively normal to Neville-and he didn't even break anything, either! But the second day of term, Neville went to his Defense Against Dark Arts class and unfortunately learned a great deal about the devious nature of Cornish Pixies. After being picked up and hung on the hanging candelabra, he promptly fell (and ended up being the joke everyone was telling at dinnertime). Thoroughly embarrassed, he sulked the evening away in the library, writing a letter to his gran.

Hannah didn't have a very nice day, either. Although double Herbology had been exciting, during Transfiguration, she'd accidentally turned her pencil eraser into a bee and it had stung her several times. After seeing Madam Pomfrey, she'd knocked her goblet full of grape juice over at lunch (thus staining her white shirt terribly). After a disastrous afternoon, Hannah fled to the library, and sadly searched the shelves in search of a book on Mandrakes. It was there that she glimpsed Neville in a dark corner, furiously scribbling on parchment. She watched him for a moment, her favorite Herbology partner. He stopped after a moment as if he sensed her gaze. He looked up and saw her. Hannah went over and they ranted to each other (after asking how the other's summer went, of course).

I suppose you could say they were close friends, but neither of them really realized it at first. They just existed, which was enough for them. Plus, you must remember that they were both a bit scatterbrained (despite Hannah's to-do lists and careful day planning). Nevertheless, the school year just got worse from there. Harry Potter started acting very strange and jumpy. Neville started hearing odd sounds at night in the walls. And one morning, Hannah noticed something amiss, also...

She poked at the knotgrass with her index finger. Hadn't there been more of it yesterday? Hannah looked at it silently for five solid minutes before looking around for help.

"…Neville?"

His dark head appeared from behind a rather large growth of flitterbloom, eyebrows raised.

"Do you know if we're missing some knotgrass?"

Neville shuffled over, clearing his throat as he looked uncertainly at the knotgrasses. "I haven't really paid attention to it lately because, you know… it's your plant." He looked at her with shy, shining eyes. The two had an unspoken agreement that each had certain plants they tended to—and knotgrass was hers.

Hannah smiled up at Neville, forgetting what she had asked, and reached in the general direction of her trowel. Naturally, she knocked over a whole shelf of pots.

II: Hannah's Boggart

Perhaps it was winning ten whole points for Gryffindor, or facing his greatest fear (sort of) by defeating a Boggart earlier that day. Or it could have been the fact that he was Neville, and he always forgot something somewhere every day. Either way, he had left his quills in the Defense Against Dark Arts classroom, and needed them for Divination. He hurried, hoping he wouldn't be late to Divination (but in truth, he would rather not have gone at all).

The classroom door was cracked, and Neville peered inside to see if he could interrupt to get his things. Hannah Abbott was standing in front of the wardrobe, clutching her wand. "Please, Professor, I really don't want to!" she was protesting, even as Lupin was calling "Three, two, one!" and opening the wardrobe, releasing the Boggart.

Neville felt his heart rate quicken. A tall, dark form advanced out of the wardrobe, a pale arm with the Dark Mark holding a wand high and ready. "R-r-riddikulus!" Hannah squeaked, but the Boggart merely halted for a second before resuming its forward march. She shrank back, terrified, stuttering "riddikulus" over and over, each time becoming more frantic, tears streaming down her face in fear, until she was just backing away, her wand clattering uselessly to the floor. And the Death Eater was closing in, and no one was doing anything, and Neville could not sit still and do nothing. He leaped into the room, seething with adrenaline, his wand brandished. "RIDDIKULUS!" he roared, and the Death Eater burst into a thousand tiny wisps of smoke, and was gone.

Neville blinked in shock at where the Boggart had been, surprised at how powerful his charm had been. Everyone else had turned in surprise to look at him, and Hannah looked as if she couldn't believe her eyes (or luck). Lupin looked at Neville with mild surprise. "Mr. Longbottom, back again?"

Hannah began crying quietly, trying to hide behind her hair.

"Er, I forgot my quills," Neville said, and picked them up from the desk he'd used, practically running out of the room, glancing back at poor Hannah, who was badly shaken.

The next day, Hannah thanked Neville for defeating her Boggart for her, and he said he didn't blame her much, Death Eaters were quite intimidating. She looked at him sadly and told him she wasn't afraid of Death Eaters. She told him that her dad had left her mum to become a Death Eater—the Boggart yesterday had been her father.

Hannah had never told anyone else about her father being a Death Eater, and Neville realized that on intuition. Even though he never mentioned it to her and she never requested it, he intended to keep it his secret forever. He knew how much things like that could hurt. And Hannah, who hadn't really meant to reveal that much personal information to anyone found that it had actually made her feel better, not worse. Neville didn't treat her any differently. And Hannah liked that.


III: Dangerous Things, Such as Sirius Black & Howlers

By year three, Neville had accepted his uselessness in potions and wasn't trying anymore (that's not to say it didn't drive him bonkers anyway), while Hannah still stubbornly tried to do better. It didn't seem to be working. The two found themselves at their wits end sometimes, what with the scare of Sirius Black attacks, the Dementors' constant presence, and the annoyance that was Divination. But sometimes, they managed to forget their troubles. Sort of.

It was Halloween night, and everyone was in sleeping bags in the Great Hall as the castle was being searched. Above them, the stars were visible through the charmed ceiling.

"Do you really think he can turn into a shrub?"

"Yes, a flowering shrub!"

"But why a plant?"

"Neville, there are plants everywhere at Hogwarts! Think of how easy it'd be to blend in."

"But what about inside the castle?"

"Oh… Well, maybe he can turn into pebbles or mice, or, ooh, a house elf, too?"

"You two!" Percy's commanding voice startled Neville and Hannah into silence. "I said no more talking!"

If Percy's hearing had been better, he'd have heard Neville doing a very good (but also not very flattering) impression of him. And if Hannah could have seen better in the dark, she would have seen Neville looking at her like no other boy ever had.

But she didn't notice at all. And so, third year continued on quite fine, despite paranoia and stress associated with Sirius Black attacks and homework. On a rather pleasant Tuesday, Hannah practically bounced into greenhouse three, a to-do list in hand. But then she halted dead in her tracks. Neville was slumped over, leaning against the wall, as if unconscious. Images of Sirius Black murdering poor, sweet Neville automatically appeared in her head, and Hannah rushed to his side, shouting his name in distress.

Neville jumped and spun, shouting as he clutched his heart, in turn frightening Hannah half to death.

"OH! I thought you were... I thought something had..." Hannah's ears burned horribly. "I thought Sirius Black..." she expelled a shaky breath, stopping herself before she said anything worse. And then she noticed his red eyes and tearstained cheeks.

"Got a howler today. Brought shame onto the whole family. Tha's all," he muttered miserably, unable to look her in the eyes.

Hannah looked at him for a moment. "Neville…" He looked at her glumly. "That's a load of rubbish if I ever heard it." He sniffed, looking slightly improved. Hannah brightened. "Want a game of exploding snap?" she asked. He grinned in spite of himself, and inconspicuously (he thought) wiped some tear trails from his cheek.