"Ready for your first raid, Longbottom?"
Neville snorted, even loud enough to be heard above ten busy bustle of the Auror office. "Hell no! It feels like I was only in school last week, and now we're gallivanting off catching the bad guys!"
Ron laughed at this. True, he and Harry had only been in the Auror office a year or so, Neville about six months, but it had already become a normal routine (as routine-y as the inconsistent hours could be) for them. Neville just rolled his eyes. A second later, Harry appeared next to them with a crack, sending Ron sprawling onto the floor in shock.
"Problem, Ron?" he asked innocently, and Neville had to bite his lip to stop himself from imitating the man he'd considered his role model for nearly seven years and laughing his head off.
"Is everyone here? Excellent. Weasley, get off the floor." A snobby voice rose above all the rest, from the doorway. The Head of the Auror Department had just walked in and was glaring at the redhead.
"...And Potter, wipe that smirk off your face."
"Oh Sutherland, how I've missed you over the last week..." Harry muttered, just loud enough for everyone but Sutherland to hear.
The week the man spent in America for a vacation had been the most peaceful the group had had in a long time. By now, Neville was having a really hard time keeping a straight face.
"Everyone round the portkey!"
Not wanting to obey a direct order that would end with a decent amount of action, the trio reluctantly grabbed onto the tattered book on the centre table. They could always transfigure Sutherland's tie into a boa constrictor or something later.
"Three, two, one..."
Sutherland unnecessarily counted down the seconds, and on the his last words the group of about a dozen Aurors was yanked out of the comfy office and hurled into a void of oblivion as they sped towards the place they would raid.
The landing didn't go particularly well for Neville, who let go half a second too early and ended up smashing his face into the concrete floor, and accidently bringing Harry and Ron down with him.
"Sorry!" he groaned, unsuccessfully trying to untangle himself from the other two. He waited for Sutherland's inevitable scolding, but none came.
"Ernie? Jacob?" He asked, looking round for any other familiar faces. Then he gasped as a cold voice rang out.
"Nice landing, Auror." Someone sneered from behind him as Neville stared around. Apart from Harry and Ron, he was alone. Where were the others?
"What the hell is this?" Ron demanded, finally stumbling upright. "Where the hell is everyone?"
"Already chasing after my associates. They'll undoubtedly catch a couple, but I think they'll relent when I ask them to. A fair deal, don't you think? I ensure their release in return for not killing you three."
Neville's blood ran cold. It literally felt like his heart was on a trampoline in his chest. He scrambled up, and joined Ron and Harry in a defensive stance. One on three shouldn't be too difficult.
Famous last words.
As soon as the thought popped into his head, three more figures apparated into the room, encircling the trio. Keeping tabs on each individual, Neville shot Harry a sideways glance. His face said it all. We fight.
Both groups started duelling at the same time. Harry and Ron had instantly fallen into their old battle positions: carefully backing each other up with just enough room for dodging and intricate wand flourishes. They'd taken the three new arrivals, leaving Neville to lock onto the boss.
A jet of red light skimmed past his ear, missing him by a mere inch. The leader laughed.
"Oh, so the Ministry is finally employing some half decent wizards? I didn't think I'd live to see that day!"
"You won't live another day unless you surrender now!" Neville spat back. The venom in his voice just seemed to add to the other's amusement.
"Unlikely. We're just toying with you really."
At his words, a barrage of stunning spells flew at them. Harry was hit first, and dropped like a puppet with its strings cut. Ron followed suit a millisecond later, but as his wand hit the floor sparks erupted from it and Neville's feet were taken out from beneath him. He landed, dazed.
"Shall we tie them up, boss?" someone asked after a few moments, and Neville realised they thought he'd been hit by one of their spells. He forced himself to go completely limp, as though he were unconscious.
"Well, what else would you do?" The 'boss' snapped back. "Idiots."
Wait for the right moment, Neville ordered himself. Footsteps came nearer and nearer...
"Stupefy!" Neville roared, and hit the leader square in the chest. The look of surprise on his face was something Neville would've loved to stop and savour for a moment, but he only had a split second's advantage over the other goons.
"Stupefy!" He repeated, then ducked. Three jets of light smashed into the wall above his head and left a sizzling hole. All pretence at plans going out the window, Neville covered his head and began to run.
He'd nearly made it to the door when his toe caught on something and for the third time in about five minutes, he ended up in a heap on the floor. A angry snarl came from his right, and Neville tensed up, waiting for the inevitable words that would put him in unearthly pain.
They never came.
Instead, an explosion rang out, and a soft voice whispered in his ear.
"Are you okay Neville?"
His eyes shot open, and he flung himself upright. Luna studied him curiously.
"Y-yeah. Fine." He spluttered.
"Oh good. I wasn't sure if you'd hurt yourself." She said dreamily. "Does anything hurt? I called Greg in here just before I came in."
Neville never understood how Luna could get away with calling Sutherland by his first name. He reckoned even his wife just called him 'Sutherland'.
"He should be just on his way." She informed him, then added, "And I knocked those men out. Are they Death Eaters?"
"What? Oh, right. No. I don't think so. Same principles. What did... No, how...?"
"Why did I come? Because you were in trouble, silly."
Neville would never know, or understand, how she knew it.
"How did you find us?"
Luna just tapped her nose. Neville tried to pursue the matter, but was interrupted by Sutherland charging in.
Sighing, Neville turned back to his fiancé.
"I guess I'll see you later."
"I'll have the Gurdyroot infusion waiting."