Neville Longbottom. That was who he was, at least, at the bare minimum. He didn't have much to identify with. The image had changed, year after year. The shy little boy who couldn't hold onto his toad. The shy, stuttering boy who could barely say a word to stand up to anybody. The boy who discovered an unusual love and aptitude for Herbology. The boy who lived up to expectation, fighting the Dark Lord, killing Nagini. The boy, who until quite recently, had no idea that he was gay.

It was this revelation that had him at the edge of the Black Lake. Hands thrust deep into his pockets, eyes dark and brooding. Was it odd, he thought, that he was just realizing the nature of his sexuality? He suppossed it was. It didn't help that he didn't know what to do about it. He was pureblood, and had a vague idea of what the pureblood circles would say. But had any of that changed? Would attitudes have changed after the war?

He paced. It would do no good to do so, he knew. But he had to do something. Something to help riddle through the muddle of thoughts that swam through his mind.

He knew what people would see - hunched shoulders and a far too serious expression. But it wasn't like he cared as began his trek down to the lake. He was Blaise Zabini, eighteen, tired, and restless. It was no use coming back to school, he thought. All, most, and too many people were inclined to distrust him, his family. It wasn't fair that he had fought like them, crouched in fear like them, nearly died like them, and lost loved ones like them - and gotten nothing more than hateful stares.

Reaching the lake, he kicked irritably at the pebbles that lined the shore, then sat. He was miserable, and showing it. It wasn't as if his was the only family that remained neutral. It wasn't as if his was the only family that leaned a little dark. It was the fact that his was both, he reasoned, and that they valued their survival slightly more than the survival of others. He frowned again. It wasn't fair. Then again life wasn't fair. Then again -

"Brooding isn't going to help you know."

Blaise stood, and turned. The voice that had interrupted his thoughts was a voice that he never expected to hear again. Unconsciously, he was already relaxing, the troubled shadow fading from his eyes.

"I know, there just isn't much else for me to do, you know?"

He turned again, this time looking far out over the water.

Neville watched him, contemplating. He had never really figured out what they had. Was it friendship? Rivalry? Or something different altogether? It was odd, because seeing Blaise had helped.

He thought they would no longer have that easy familiarity they'd had before. Those times that the two of them sat in a secluded corner of the library, surrounded by books. Seeming to ignore each other, but taking comfort in the other's presence. They didn't fit in - they were too different, their personalities, their loyalties. When it got to be too much, they turned to each other.

It seemed okay though; as he went to stand next to him, the one person he cold never figure out.

"My gran was proud of me," he started out slowly, unsure if it was still okay to do this. He shot him a sideways glance, only slightly surprised and comforted to find dark eyes staring back at him. Looking ahead, he continued.

"She said she was proud that I was as strong as I could be. That I learned, it seems, to take pain and criticism and use it. She said I'd grown into myself, and that was just another step."

He trailed off, not quite sure how to broach the subject. It was a delicate one after all.

"I -"

His eyes widened.

What did he just do! Wait, this was not the time. And then coherent thought turned to shadowy mist as those beautiful eyes holding so many secrets widened in shock - widened and fluttered closed.

One of then sighed, he couldn't tell which. He was too busy trying to think. No, to busy trying to wrap his mind around the fact that they were kissing - kissing! Not one of those friendly pecks. But the ones that started like slow fire in the bones, growing and growing, going deeper and deeper. Until the need to breathe became too much, and they pulled apart, bodies tangled together as the fire retreated to glowing embers.

His hands cupped Neville's face. Lovingly, he thought absently. In return, Neville's hands gripped his hips, borderline painful. Painful enough to make it clear to him that it was not a dream. Panting, he let his eyes close, and his head fall forward.

The light touch of Blaise's forehead against his made Neville catch his breath again. He breathed, deep even breaths to allow him to recover. I wasn't anything he'd expected, to say the least. But it made him of what he had lost when he could have gained, been happy for that much longer.

"Did you," he paused, then gathered his courage. "Did you plan that?"

The quick nervous laugh delighted him at the same time that it sent shivers down his spine.

"Not particularly. It was - spontaneous."

Neville raised an eyebrow at that. The Blaise Zabini he knew did not do spontaneous.

"I wanted to...I've wanted to. And just seeing you today, here just..."

He gestured with a hand, not really knowing how to express what he was feeling. His hands slid down to Neville's shoulders, stroking absently. It was the shaking of those shoulders that brought him out of his reverie more than the laugh. Neville was laughing at him, of all things...

As he looked into his eyes, he found barely suppressed amusement, curiosity, and something that he dared to hope was more than affection.

"You love me."

Blaise froze. The arms around him tightened the slightest bit. That adorable face that had grown up so much leaned closer.

"For how long, I wonder?" He was giddy with the joy of it, why had he worried? Why had he agonized for hours, days, weeks, when this was what he was going to find? He watched Blaise, watching those eyes cloud with suspicion, and the hope that shined through.

He leaned closer, close enough for their noses to brush affectionately.

"And here I was contemplating being gay. Trying to ignore that I liked you. And trying to figure out how to tell you all at once. It was very frustrating you know."

He smiled at Blaise, relishing the feeling. This was the new him, he realized. He could be confident, he didn't have to keep quiet and suffer. He could let everyone know, he could let the world know.

"Guess what," Neville grinned, this was so much fun, reducing a Slytherin to a pile of goo.

Blaise gulped. He wasn't sure if he should stay and hope his heart didn't get broken. Or run away in terror and never talk to him again. Both were tempting.

"I love you too."

Those words. Those simple little words washed over him, calming him, keeping his safe. It was okay, he thought, it could be as simple as that.

Their lips met again in sweet reunion. They closed their eyes and flew, flowed, and rushed. Ready to love, stronger than before. Ready to share the secrets and pain of their pasts. Ready to face the world - together.

AN: Please review, if you want to...it would be greatly appreciated!