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Love or Die

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Love or Die

  


 

1997

Neville snuck through the corridors of Hogwarts, moving quietly from one shadow to another. He had just raided the kitchens and was trying to get his loot to the Room of Requirement without being caught. It was too early for him to get caught. The students of Hogwarts needed him, he couldn’t go underground yet. But many of his house mates had, unable to cope with the strict and excruciating Death Eater regime. Gryffindors did not like to stand idly by while innocent youngsters were being used as target practice for curses that were not quite unforgivable, but very nearly so.

He’d almost reached the seventh floor when a sudden noise made him dive into an alcove. Just in time. Footsteps ran past him, a young girl, sobbing, blond hair flying behind her, her Hogwarts robe torn and trailing from one shoulder. He swallowed. She was a Slytherin, he’d seen the flash of green and silver. But she was clearly upset. He waited, quietly, but there was no other sound, so he ventured out again. He knew he didn’t have much time left before the Carrows would start on their nightly rounds again. Minerva had warned him she wouldn’t be able to keep them past ten.

He turned a corner and stopped dead in his tracks. In the flickering torchlight, he saw a body, outstretched on the floor, and a girl in Slytherin robes standing over it. She looked up, her blue eyes flashing dangerously, her wand pointing at him before he even had time to place his hand on his own. He recognised her. The elder Greengrass girl.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, her voice sharp, the wand that was pointing at him never wavering.

“I need to pass this corridor.” Neville glanced around, then back at Greengrass. There was no other way to the Room of Requirement. If she didn’t let him pass, he’d have to hide and wait until she left.

“Why?”

“I believe that is none of your business.”

Her eyes flicked to the bulging bag in his hands, then back at him, the question evident in her eyes.

“Food.”

She cocked her head, then nodded decisively. She stepped to the side and leaned against the wall. “Off you go then,” she said, with a majestic sweep of her wand.

Neville wondered for a moment if she’d curse him in the back, then decided it was a risk he was willing to take. He took a few steps and was about to shuffle past the outstretched figure on the floor, when he was struck by the unnatural pallor of the man.

“Is… Is that a dead body?”

The words escaped before he could think the better of it. He looked up, straight into her wand. They were close now, hardly two feet apart, and he knew he couldn’t escape. He noticed the wand was trembling, though.

“Maybe,” she said.

“It is. I can see it right in front of me. Who was he?” Neville wasn’t sure whether to be shocked or impressed. He didn’t recognise the face, but he did see the shadow of a Dark Mark on his forearm.

“He was a pig,” Daphne hissed. “He tried to rape my sister. She’s fourteen. My sister!” Her voice rose in agony and Neville reached out to take her hand. He squeezed it comfortingly. “Seems you handled it well, then.” He looked down at the dead body with disgust. “What are you going to do with it?”

She was quiet for so long that he wondered if she’d answer at all, but when he looked back up, she squeezed his hand in return and her lips turned into a smirk. “Don’t worry, I’ll clean it up before anyone notices. I believe there are still some Blast-Ended Skrewts somewhere on Hogwarts territory. Nobody will find even a trace of him.”

Neville raised an eyebrow but decided not to ask anything further. He needed to go. And yet… Could he just leave her here?

“Are you okay?”

She looked surprised. “Nobody’s asked me that in a long time.” She let go of his hand quite suddenly and lowered her wand. “I’ll let you know. You should go now.”

Neville wanted to say something more but the words wouldn’t come. So he only nodded and walked on, turning the corner into the corridor with tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy.

But he looked for those blue eyes regularly during mealtimes and classes. And sometimes, they looked back.

 


 

2007

Daphne heard the front door unlock and open. She closed her eyes for a moment and counted the footsteps. He was in the hallway now… Hanging up his cloak… Moving to the kitchen… Pouring a glass of red wine…

She opened her eyes again, sighed and squared her shoulders.

One…

She opened the door of her office and crossed to the living room.

Two…

“Daphne?”

She opened the door, a big smile on her face, and greeted her husband.

“Hello, love! Good day?”

But Neville didn’t look at her. His gaze was transfixed on something that was quite indecorously sprawled on the floor.

Three...

“Daphne, is that a dead body?” He pointed at the thing lying in front of the hearth. His finger trembled just a little.

Daphne walked up to him and kissed his cheek, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. She looked down at the heap of flesh that had once been a man.

“Maybe,” she said, temporizing.

Neville shook his head. “It is. A dead body. I can see it right in front of me. Daphne…” His voice trailed off, his eyes finally meeting hers and searching for answers he knew she couldn’t give.

“Don’t worry, love, I promise I’ll clean it up before dinner!”

Neville opened his mouth to retort, but no words seemed adequate to address the situation. He’d walked into any number of strange situations since living with Daphne, but this was by far the strangest.

“Do I want to know where it came from?”

Daphne shrugged, turned him around and walked him back to the kitchen. “I don’t know, Nev, do you? I mean, I suppose I could tell you I dug him up from a graveyard but I don’t think you’d believe me.”

Neville seemed to straighten up and gently kissed her lips. Then he cupped her chin and forced her to look up at him. “You promised not to bring your work home.” His voice was quiet but strangely authoritative. It was the I’m-so-disappointed-with-you voice he often used with his students, and it never failed to impress.

It didn’t fail this time, either.

Daphne swallowed. “He will be gone in an hour, darling. I am so sorry. I couldn’t help it. I..”

Neville placed a finger on her lips. “Don’t tell me.” Then he let go of her, put his glass down on the table and walked out to the corridor.

“I’m going to the Leaky for an hour or so,” he said over his shoulder. “I’ll see you later.”

Daphne heard the door slam shut and sagged against the kitchen table. She reached out and took Neville’s wine, swallowing it down in one go.

“Dammit, Pansy, I told you this was going to be a problem,” she muttered under her breath.

 


 

Neville Apparated to the Leaky Cauldron, shaking his head with a fond smile. He did love her so much, his Hit Witch. Harry was at the bar, nursing a Firewhiskey. He looked up when Neville entered and waved him over.

“Ordered you one,” Harry said, pushing a Firewhiskey over to him. “Thought you’d have been here earlier.”

“I came home late.” Neville took a large sip, then coughed. “So it was Pansy again?”

Harry grinned. “She kicked me out and told me to wait for you here. She’s gathering the troops to dispose of the body, but it seems there are some issues with the permits.”

Neville sighed. “Don’t you wish sometimes life wasn’t quite so adventurous?”

Harry shrugged. “If you wanted a quiet life, you shouldn't have married a Slytherin.”

Then Neville laughed, and a tension he hadn’t even noticed was there seemed to drain from Harry’s face. “I did fall in love with her over a dead body,” he chuckled, “I guess I should have known what I was getting into from the start.”

Harry held out his tumbler of Firewhiskey to make a toast. “To our gorgeous assassin wives.”

Neville clinked his glass against Harry’s. “And may we never piss them off.”