A/N: This was written for the 30 Days of Neville challenge at the livejournal community, xnevillelovingx. Hope you enjoy!

Calming Hannah

The greenhouses were unnaturally quiet on this breezy spring day. Usually they would be filled with noisy chatter as the students got their fingers stuck into the coolness of the earth, pruned a Flutterby Bush or just simply attempted to prevent a Snargaluff from attacking them. But today, with the OWL examinations drawing even closer, the 5th year Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs all had their noses towards their papers as they took down the notes that Professor Sprout was giving them. She was, once again, lecturing about the importance the OWLs would be in securing their futures, and then proceeded to talk to them about Fanged Geraniums, which were most certainly going to be popping up in their Herbology OWL. They were then asked to divide up into pairs and ask each other questions about what they had been learning thus far.

Hannah Abbott was sitting with Neville Longbottom, her Herbology partner for the afternoon. Normally she would have paired up with her closest friend, Ernie Macmillan, but Professor Sprout had decided to separate the two because they "were more likely to distract each other than study properly". Ernie was sitting a few benches away, partnered with their other Hufflepuff friend Justin Finch-Fletchley. Hannah wasn't too disgruntled about this, as she had always liked Neville. He was quiet, patient and was probably the best in the class at Herbology (perhaps even better than Hermione, which said a lot). She knew she might actually get some work done paired with him.

She had already asked Neville the study questions she had written down, and he had answered everything correctly. Now it was Neville asking the questions, but Hannah was having a bit of trouble.

"Do you want me to repeat the question?" Neville asked.

Hannah, who had been staring at the slanted ceiling of the greenhouse for the past thirty seconds, glanced at Neville's waiting gaze, and sighed. "Please."

Neville looked down at his parchment where he had earlier scribbled down some questions for Hannah to answer. He was only up to the 2nd question on his list. "What do Screechsnap seedlings do if given too much dragon dung manure?" he repeated. Neville had thought it wasn't a very hard question, since they had only been working on Screechsnap a few weeks ago.

"Umm…" Hannah mumbled. "Gosh, they do something, don't they? Why can't I remember?"

Neville didn't say anything, but waited patiently as Hannah began drumming her fingers along the table.

"This is an easy question, isn't it?" she asked, frowning.

Neville looked down at the paper in front of him, unsure how to respond. "Well… I thought… it's… I…" But Hannah answered for him, in the form of an exasperated sigh.

"It IS easy! I knew it!" she said loudly, her eyes watering suddenly.

"Hannah, it's okay, you-"

"No Neville, it's not okay!" Hannah's voice was so loud now that the other Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs in the greenhouse had turned around to look at them. Neville went pink. Tears were rolling down Hannah's face in earnest now. "It's the easiest question in the book, isn't it? And I can't even answer it! What is wrong with me?"

Neville was at a loss as to what to do. He tried again: "Hannah, listen to me, there's nothing wrong –"

"I'm TOO STUPID to take exams!" Hannah shrieked hysterically. Neville cowered a little in his seat next to her. "I want to leave school right now - I can't take this anymore!" Hannah burst out into frenzied sobs and buried her face into her arms on the table in front of her.

At the front of the greenhouse, Professor Sprout looked at Hannah and sighed. Her shy little Hufflepuff student had been looking stressed all week and Professor Sprout had figured it was only a matter of time before she snapped. She looked directly at Neville. "Longbottom, please escort Miss Abbott to Madam Pomfrey in the Hospital Wing. I think a Calming Draught is in order, the first one this year I'm afraid... As for the rest of you, you may return to your studying thank you!"

Most students turned back around in their seats. Ernie was slightly miffed that Professor Sprout hadn't allowed him to take Hannah to the Hospital Wing. He was her best friend, after all. Justin nudged him. "Come on Ernie, she'll be fine." Grudgingly, he turned back to their work.

Neville had stood up by now, and was awkwardly patting Hannah on the back. Her sobs, whilst still audible, had considerably quietened down since her outburst. "Come on Hannah, I have to take you to see Madam Pomfrey," he whispered in her ear.

Hannah slowly raised her head to look at him, tears still leaking from her light-blue eyes, her nose red, and lips quivering. She nodded meekly, and allowed Neville to pull her up and steer her out of the greenhouse and onto the grounds. Once outside Neville dropped his hold on her and they walked towards the castle, Hannah still sniffling and wiping her eyes with her hands.

They walked in an uncomfortable silence, constantly perforated by Hannah's crying, until they reached the doors to the Hospital Wing on the third floor. Neville let Hannah through first, and once they were inside Madam Pomfrey came towards them.

"Now, what's the matter here?" She glanced from Neville to Hannah, took in Hannah's red eyes, wet cheeks and forlorn expression, and immediately understood. "One Calming Draught coming right up. You're the first, but certainly won't be the last…" she muttered as she walked away to find the potion.

"You probably think I'm such a fool," Hannah said, speaking for the first time since they had been in the greenhouse. She moved to sit down on the nearest hospital bed, its white sheets bright from the sunlight streaming through the windows.

"No, I don't," Neville replied honestly, sitting beside her. "We're all stressing out about OWLs."

"But nobody else has cried and carried on like me before, have they?" Hannah's voice broke and a fresh set of silent tears began. Neville didn't know what to do except to pat her back and hope he was being comforting. Hannah obviously thought he was, as she leant into his shoulder, her face in her hands. Neville froze. He hadn't expected this, and he couldn't decide whether he liked it or not. He compromised by continuing to rub her back, as he had been doing before. Oblivious to his internal dilemmas, Hannah continued through choked sobs. "I'm pathetic. How can I take my OWL when I can't even answer a simple question?"

"You're not pathetic, Hannah," Neville said quietly, nervously, as the blonde-haired girl cried on his shoulder. After a few more seconds, he added, with quiet confidence: "And you can do it… I'm sure you know the answer, you're great at Herbology." His cheeks went red a little as he said this. He had never given a compliment to a girl before, except for when he told Ginny she looked nice at the Yule Ball a year previously.

"You really think so?" Hannah removed her hands from her face, and looked up at the shy boy sitting next to her.

Neville had been about to respond when Madam Pomfrey returned to them, a bottle filled with clear liquid in one hand and goblet in the other. Hannah pulled away from Neville's embrace at once, and he felt slightly disappointed, suddenly missing the heat from her body against his side. Madam Pomfrey pulled the cork off the bottle and filled the goblet half-way with the Draught. She handed it to Hannah and nodded for her to drink. Hannah raised the goblet to her lips. All the stresses of exams and all her befuddled thoughts melted away the instant the cool liquid hit her throat. She finished the goblet in no time at all, and gave it back to Madam Pomfrey's outstretched hand.

"Feeling better dear?" the nurse asked, subsequently handing over some tissues so she could dry her eyes and blow her nose.

"Much better, thank you," Hannah replied. After using the tissues and disposing of them with her wand, she breathed in slowly and then out again. She felt like she could think a lot clearer now.

"You may go, then, as you wish." Madam Pomfrey left to return the Calming Draught to its rightful place.

Hannah got to her feet. "The lesson's probably almost finished, but we need to get our things."

"Right." Neville was surprised at how different Hannah sounded. The Calming Draught had obviously worked better than he thought. He got up also, and they both left the Hospital Wing and made their way down the staircases, along corridors past countless moving portraits, and finally through the double doors that led out onto the grounds.

Hannah grappled with what she was trying to say as they neared the greenhouses. She suddenly felt very shy around her companion, and wasn't quite sure what had brought this on. "Um… Neville?" she began hesitantly.

"Yes?" Neville glanced at her expectantly, curious.

"Thank you," Hannah had stopped walking. They were several metres away from the greenhouse now, and through the glass they could see that everybody was packing away their things. "For being a good friend," she added as an afterthought.

Neville had stopped too, and looked at the ground. "It was nothing," he mumbled.

Before anything more could be said, the door to the greenhouse opened and the other 5th year Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs began filing out. Ernie and Justin emerged, Ernie having taken the liberty to gather up Hannah's belongings for her. "Here Hannah, we've got Potions."

Hannah took her schoolbag from her friend, and started walking backwards. She raised a hand to wave tentatively at Neville, and then turned back around to walk with her fellow Hufflepuffs. They had merely gone a few metres when a strange look came over Hannah's face, and without warning, she dropped her bag and ran back to where Neville was standing at the entrance to the greenhouse. "Neville!"

Neville watched unsurely as she approached. "Hannah?"

"It wriggles and squeaks!" she announced once they were face to face.

Neville blinked at her, perplexed. He wondered if Madam Pomfrey had somehow given her the wrong concoction after all. "Hang on, what? Hannah, what are you talking about?"

"Screechsnap of course! It wriggles and squeaks if given too much manure." She revelled in her own personal discovery, and smiled brightly.

Neville immediately grinned, his green eyes lighting up. "See, Hannah, I told you-"

But before he could finish the sentence, Hannah had thrown her arms around Neville's neck. Neville had no time to do so much as return the hug when Hannah pulled away, blushing, but smiling, and ran back to where Ernie was waiting for her with her bag, his eyebrow raised.

Harry, Ron and Hermione had been watching this play out the whole time as they were the last to leave the greenhouse. "Don't look now," Hermione said quietly to her two best friends. "But I think Hannah Abbott has an admirer!" She smiled knowingly at Neville as they passed him. He was still staring after Hannah, his mouth slightly open, his face flushed.

Needless to say, when it came to their Herbology OWL, it was no surprise that Neville and Hannah got top marks in the section on Screechsnap…