“It’s a lovely day, isn’t it?” Luna asked, leaning over railing that overlooked the River Thames in London.
“It’s always a lovely day when you’re around,” Ginny said, leaning over the railing next to her and giving her a soft kiss on her cheek.
Luna giggled and scooted closer to Ginny.
“I wish you could come with me. I wouldn’t take you away from Harry or Quidditch but when I’m away I miss you,” Luna admitted.
“I miss you too,” Ginny said.
Luna was studying to become a Magizoologist which meant she was often traveling around the world on expeditions to observe magical creatures. In the last year they had only seen each other rarely but for now she was back in the UK for the next month or so.
They stood there quietly as Muggles walked either way behind them. Ginny had found that she liked watching Muggles and the odd way they lived their lives. When she was a girl she had been nervous about Muggles, despite her dad’s great enthusiasm for them. She felt embarrassed by all that now.
“Ginny? Luna!” an excited voice said, coming from Ginny’s right.
Neville Longbottom was standing nearby with a smile on his face. Ginny hadn’t seen Neville much since he had finished Hogwarts. Harry saw him now and then and they’d had a particularly interesting meeting in Berlin nearly a year and a half ago that she was still trying to get the details about.
“Neville!” Ginny said, rushing over and giving him a big hug.
Ginny thought Neville seemed more handsome than she recalled him being at school, though he was always cute. He still had the same round face and soft features but adulthood was serving him well.
“So, what’s up? Is this a date? Am I interrupting?” Neville asked.
“It’s Ginny’s birthday,” Luna said as he went over and hugged her.
“Happy birthday!” Neville said, hugging Ginny again.
“And no, you’re not interrupting. Actually, I’ve been wanting to have you around for dinner at Harry’s place,” Ginny said.
Neville looked confused.
“Aren’t you and Harry living together?” Neville asked.
“Sort of. Not really. I mean basically… I’m there all the time. But I’m the only one left at the Burrow. I know mum’s gonna be sad when I go, even though I’m always either with the Harpies or Harry. I promised Harry I would move in… and I have been… a little bit at a time,” Ginny said.
“Ah. Well, I can’t imagine it’s a lot of fun trying to live at two places,” Neville commented.
“So… you’re looking good,” Ginny said with a smile, bumping Neville’s arm with her elbow.
Neville shyly chuckled.
“Thanks. Not so bad yourself,” Neville said.
“Harpies keep me active and outdoors,” Ginny said.
“It suits you. Harry’s a lucky bloke. Always has been,” Neville said.
“Are you seeing anyone?” Luna piped in.
“No, sadly not. Living a bachelor’s life, I suppose,” Neville said, rubbing a hand on the back of his blond head.
“Well, I hope you aren’t too lonely,” Ginny said.
“No, I get by. That’s what friends are for, right? Been hanging out with Dean and Seamus a lot, actually,” Neville said.
“That’s cool,” Ginny said.
“Yeah,” Neville said.
Ginny looked up into his blue eyes and smiled. Neville blushed and looked away. He had always been such a sweet, cute boy.
“I guess I should leave you two to your date,” Neville said.
“We’re fine,” Ginny said.
“Nah, nah. I’ve got… things to do anyhow,” Neville said.
They hugged again and Neville departed.
“You like him, don’t you?” Luna asked as they continued to walk along the river bank.
“Maybe. Maybe I always have. He was really there for me in sixth year. He was there for all of us at Hogwarts. He really stepped up,” Ginny said.
Luna wrapped an arm around Ginny as Ginny did the same.
“I think it’s sweet. We all have so much love to give,” Luna said.
“Yeah, but you see, this is difference. There’s this thing between Harry and him. I think if we bring him in… it could be a big deal for us. It’s not like you and me where we can just go on dates and do our own thing without Harry,” Ginny said.
“That makes sense. Well, I hope it works out. It makes me feel happy,” Luna said.
Ginny kissed the side of her girlfriend’s head as they carried on.
The front door opened and Harry smiled. Ginny moved through the lowlight of his flat and arrived at the dining table with a smile.
“Happy birthday,” Harry said.
“Cheers,” Ginny said and came around the table to give her boyfriend a slow kiss before sitting down for for their meal.
“How was your date with Luna?” Harry asked.
“Nice. She’s around for a little bit longer so hopefully I’ll get to see her before Quidditch gets too crazy,” Ginny said.
Ginny recited minor details of her date with Luna along the Thames until she got to the meeting with Neville.
“Oh, did you?” Harry asked.
“He looked good. Have you seen him lately?” Ginny asked.
“Yeah, he’s been helping me with a case. It’s a plant thing…” Harry said.
“Oh. You didn’t tell me you were working with him,” Ginny said, raising an eyebrow.
“Yeah. Sorry…” Harry frowned.
“No, it’s all right. I’m just glad you’re getting to see more of him,” Ginny said.
“Me too,” Harry said, sipping his wine.
“Harry are you… are you still attracted to him?” Ginny asked.
Harry gave her a shocked look, then looks down at his fish.
“I find loads of people attractive,” Harry answered.
“I think he’s really cute. He always has been a really good friend, hasn’t he?”
“Yeah. A great friend.”
“Harry, you know it’s OK to tell me if you fancy someone? I have a girlfriend,” Ginny insisted.
Harry put down his fork, looking uncomfortable.
“Ginny, as far as I know… what happened between Neville and me in Berlin was just a fling. A one night stand. I’d’ve given him more but… he left,” Harry frowned.
Ginny had a sudden realisation. Harry wasn’t struggling with his own feelings. He was struggling with Neville’s.
“I understand,” Ginny said, reaching over to place a hand over his.
Harry turned his hand to gently hold a few of her fingers in his, accepting the affection. They didn’t speak anymore about Neville for the rest of the meal. Ginny needed to contemplate this matter more. She couldn’t force the issue. But she couldn’t deny her own attraction to Neville, that much was certain.
“We seem to be done eating,” Ginny said, frowning at her empty wine glass.
“I’m not,” Harry said, and laughed as he dropped to the floor, crawling over to her.
“What are you doing, Harry?” Ginny asked, smiling down and knowing full well what he was doing as he started planting kisses on her ankles, working his way up her freckled legs.
“It’s your birthday. What if I just ate you out until the sun came up? I can be late for work,” Harry said.
“I’ve got Quidditch practice with Katie first thing in the morning,” Ginny said.
“Shit. Well, for a little while at least. I need this,” Harry said, moving his head beneath her skirt.
“Well, if you insist,” Ginny mocked, making a happy sound as she felt felt Harry tugging at her knickers.
Katie Bell fell back onto the grass, beads of sweat rolling down her face and breathing hard.
"I'll admit, Ginny, you're nay an easy lass to keep up with," she said as Ginny sat down next to her.
"Yeah, Harry says the same thing all the time,” Ginny said, smirking.
Katie laughed and shook her head.
"I can only imagine,” Katie replied slyly.
"I imagine you and Leanne have plenty of fun on your own," Ginny said, her arm leaning on a Quaffle.
"Aye, we do a bit," Katie said, smiling up at the sky.
“Harry and I are trying to find the time. But with his work and Quidditch… It can be tough. We did find some last night. It was great, actually,” Ginny admitted.
Katie pulled her dark hair out of its ponytail to fix it and Ginny considered if she should bring up the other thing pulling at her mind. If anyone would have good advice on this matter then surely Katie would. Nothing seemed to shock her.
"So, Katie, I was… wondering if you would give me some advice on something," Ginny said.
"Sure. Go ahead," Katie said.
“You and Leanne have an open relationship, right?” Ginny asked.
“Aye. We do,” Katie replied.
“Harry and Neville… hand a thing last year. Just for a night.”
“The bonnie laddies had a shag, did they?” Katie grinned.
“They did. But… I think it was more than that. When Harry talks about Neville… he gets this look in his eyes. Not the same as when he looks at me… but it’s similar. And similar to how Luna looks at me.”
"You think the lads are in love?" Katie asked with interest.
"Maybe. I wonder if being with Neville would make Harry happy,” Ginny said.
“Would it make you happy?” Katie asked.
“It might,” Ginny replied.
“Have you tried asking him? There’s nay harm in that," Katie said.
“Harry always avoided it. Until this summer. He… shared some details of their encounter. I’ll admit it… made me curious in some non-emotional sorts of ways,” Ginny giggled.
“You should have Neville ‘round for supper. Test the waters,” Katie suggested.
“You’re probably right," Ginny confessed.
Katie leaned over more closely, looking serious.
"Do you fancy Neville, Ginny?" Katie asked with a smile
"Oh. Well… He is a good friend," Ginny said.
"Aye, but could he be more than a friend to you? Could love him like you love Harry? Could you give him a shag?” Katie asked.
Ginny pictured Neville’s soft features and cozy eyes. She pictured him and Harry together. The thought made her feel warm inside, and not just in a sexual way. She last pictured Neville during her sixth year at Hogwarts. He hadn’t been in good shape that year but he had been so brave. Ginny had to admit she might have a crush, though she feared saying it out loud.
“I… think I might like that,” Ginny said.
“Then give it a go, Ginny! I dinna think you have much to lose,” Katie said.
The door to Malfoy Manor slowly opened, revealing the tall, pale form of Draco Malfoy.
“Potter. Longbottom. What do you want?” Draco scowled, his eyes mostly focused on Harry.
“Some questions for your father, I’m afraid,” Harry said.
Shrugging, Draco opened the door wider to let Harry and Neville through. Draco disappeared and Lucius Malfoy appeared in his stead shortly thereafter. He did not seem pleased to see Harry one bit.
“Yes, what do you want?” Lucius asked.
“We’re here with Magical Law Enforcement. I was hoping you could be of help with my current investigation. I have reason to believe you recently ordered a shipment of puffapods. After having it delivered into England you sold it. I was hoping you would tell me who you sold them to,” Harry said.
“What are you implying, boy? Puffapods are entirely harmless and do you really think I would do anything to jeopardise my freedom? I’ve seen enough of Azkaban for one lifetime,” Lucius droned.
The way Harry heard it, Lucius hardly ever left the house anymore, but that was a topic for a different day.
“I’m not implying or accusing you of anything, Mr. Malfoy. I just want to know who you sold them to and I’ll be on my way,” Harry said.
Harry could see Lucius stirring beneath his robes, clearly contemplating pulling out his wand.
“Really, Mr. Malfoy. It’s not a big deal. Your name came up, is all. We know you and Mrs. Malfoy have been staying out of trouble. We don’t mean to disturb you,” Neville said with a smile.
Lucius glowered at Neville and replied, “That’s unfortunate as you’ve proven to be exceptional at doing just that. Very well. I’ll give you the name. I’ll have to check my ledgers.”
In truth, the puffapods weren’t important at all but they had reason to believe whoever they were searching for had recently purchased some puffapods in a large quantity for reasons they had yet to ascertain. Harry didn’t think Lucius would be up to anything dastardly, not after everything that happened but he thought it would be good to eliminate the possibility.
“Well, I’m almost certain there’s been no puffapods here, at least. I think I could smell it. People usually spill at least some of them,” Neville said as they left the manor.
Harry grabbed Neville’s arm and they apparated back to London, minutes away from Harry’s flat.
“Of course not. Lucius doesn’t have much to do with our investigation. But this witch… She might. Ella Wilton,” Harry said, looking again at the name of information Lucius had written down for them.
They entered Harry’s flat shortly. Ginny was playing a Quidditch match that night and wouldn’t be home until the following day. Harry plopped onto the sofa, feeling exhausted. Neville casually sat down next to him.
“I appreciate you bringing me in on this one, mate. Not that I think you really need me,” Neville said.
“It’s no problem. Having a friend around makes all the blasted paperwork I’ll have to do later worth it and your expertise is valuable. I don’t need you but… I want you,” Harry said, grinning as he glanced sideways at Neville’s blue eyes.
Neville blushed and chuckled awkwardly. Harry’s mind was drawn back to Berlin. Neville with his back to a wall and their lips interlocked. Neville’s lips had felt so good that night. They had felt so good in more than one way.
And just like that Neville was leaning towards him, Harry feeling unable to resist but before their lips could meet, Neville’s head turned and he coughed. Harry’s face felt hot with embarrassment.
“I should go,” Neville said.
“You don’t have to. We could have some drinks,” Harry said, wanting more than anything for Neville to not leave like he did that night in Berlin.
“I’ve got some errands to run in the morning. I’ll see you soon, I hope,” Neville said with a smile, somewhat easing Harry’s pain.
“What am I doing?” Neville shouted as he closed the door to his flat.
He went over to his collection of nettles. They were doing better than he was at least.
“I almost kissed him. I swore I’d never do that again,” Neville complained to the nettles, though they didn’t seem interested.
Neville sighed and went over the large mirror that hung on the wall of his living room. He stared at his own frowning face. The last time in Berlin had been a close call. They’d fooled around. But Harry had never known how Neville truly felt and he could never allow him to know. It wasn’t just about sex and having a good time.
“I’m in love with Harry Potter,” Neville said to his own sad reflection.
Neville knew that Harry would never return those feelings. How could someone like Harry ever love someone like him? They were old friends. Good friends, even. The physical connection was undeniable but how could the man who loved a girl as beautiful and fierce as Ginny Weasley ever consider Neville worthy of love strong enough to ease the pain of his heart.
“He never will. Get over yourself, Longbottom,” Neville said, clenching his hand into a fist and fighting back tears.
“Stop it. Just stop it,” he said to himself.
He looked down at the dusty floor of his flat and took some deep breaths, urging himself to put Harry Potter out of his mind.
“How can I put a bloke out of my mind if I can’t even keep him out of my life?” Neville asked his own feet.
His feet had no better answers than the nettles’d had. He frowned and decided to go to bed.
“I don’t want you to go,” Ginny said, as her girlfriend slid to her side, naked and sweaty.
“Sorry. But don’t worry. I’ll keep you in here,” Luna said, touching the center of her bare chest.
Smiling, Ginny kissed Luna, both of them giggling. They continued to snuggle and kiss until the kisses became more tired. Ginny felt herself drifting off as Luna lightly snored.
When she awoke, Luna was standing by her bedroom window in her travel robes. It was time for her to go again.
“Morning,” Ginny said.
“I let you sleep late. You seemed so peaceful. I couldn’t bring myself to disturb you,” Luna said.
“S’alright,” Ginny yawned as she slid out of bed, putting clothes on before heading down to the loo.
Luna hadn’t moved by the time Ginny came back.
“Is it time already? I’m going to miss you so much,” Ginny said, holding Luna from behind.
“Yeah,” Luna said, taking one of Ginny’s hands in hers.
Ginny made a sad groan and squeezed Luna tighter.
“I’ll be back for Christmas, I promise,” Luna said, pulling away and turning around to face Ginny with a smile on her face.
Luna had an uncanny ability to maintain a smile through small moments, though Ginny had long since learned the difference between Luna’s sad smiles and her happy ones. This was a sad smile.
“I always feel a bit more lost without you,” Ginny admitted.
“Then keep me with you,” Luna said, touching Ginny’s chest through her tee-shirt.
Ginny placed a hand over Luna’s hand, threading their fingers.
“Are you going to start seeing Neville?” Luna asked, sounding hopeful.
“Maybe. I hope so. I need to get Harry to talk about his feelings. And then… maybe sit Neville down and see where things go. Katie thinks it should be easy. But it doesn’t feel easy to me,” Ginny said.
“I’m sure you’ll figure it out,” Luna said.
Ginny kissed her again and they said their goodbyes. Ginny felt like it was perhaps her destiny to have lovers who were always on the move, going from place to place without her. If she let Neville into her heart, would he have a sudden urge to disappear and travel. She wasn’t sure how much more her heart would take.
This was it. This was her shot. Neville Longbottom just happened to be in the same apothecary as her at the same moment. He was leaning over, smiling at a dream-willow cactus. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply while Hannah melted inside at his beauty. She took a deep breath, wiped her sweaty palms on her robes and slowly approached.
“Neville,” Hannah said, wishing her voice came out stronger.
“Hannah,” Neville said before he could even turn around to face her.
Hannah blushed at the realisation that he could recognise her voice.
“H-Hello,” Hannah said.
“How are you doing? You look good,” Neville said.
Hannah’s mouth fell open, unable to respond. She begged herself to find much needed courage.
“Cheers. I’m good,” she replied softly.
“Where are you living? What have you been doing?” Neville asked.
“I live with Susan and Ernie, actually. Three puffs in a flat. I work at the Leaky Cauldron, actually,” Hannah said, feeling her anxiety lessen slightly.
“Cool. I haven’t seen Susan and Ernie since school. We should catch up,” Neville said.
“Yeah. Um… Do you want to go out tonight?” Hannah asked, feeling like she might faint.
Neville at first just looked surprised but a warm smile slowly appeared on his face, filling Hannah with life.
"Sure. I'd love to, Hannah," Neville replied, making her feel like the sun was beaming directly on her.
"Great! Meet you at the Leaky Cauldron at seven?"
"Sounds wonderful," Neville said.
"OK, see you then," she said, nodding and smiling, possibly excessively, before dashing back down Diagon Alley by herself.
She knew she had to talk to Ernie, immediately. Minutes later she located her dear friend in Flourish and Blotts and cornered him between the stacks.
"You will never guess what I've just done, Ernie," Hannah said.
"How could I, seeing as you haven't given me any clues?" Ernie said.
"I just asked Neville Longbottom out on a date!" Hannah shouted and Ernie raised a hand indicating she should lower her voice.
"Did you? Longbottom, eh? You never have given up that old flame, have you, Hannah?" Ernie said, crossing his arms over his chest and raising his chin high.
"No. I haven't. I mean… I never even thought he'd be interested," Hannah admitted.
It was true, though. She'd had a crush on Neville since her first year at Hogwarts. Neville had a been a cute, shy and clumsy boy. She had never cared for the way other kids picked on him and humiliated him as she always thought he was perfect.
As he grew up her crush only became worse as the cute boy became a handsome young man. But more than that he was a good person and she had always longed to get closer to him. She was a loyal Hufflepuff through and through but she still sometimes imagined that things were different and she had been sorted into Gryffindor with him.
"Well, let's hope he is interested then," Ernie said with a smile and firm nod.
"Merlin, I hope he is," Hannah said, bouncing a little in excitement.
Ernie reached over and a gave her an affectionate pat on the shoulder then said, "Hannah, he'd have to be a fool not to be interested and Longbottom is no fool."
"I hope you're right," Hannah said then added with a smirk, "Maybe if things work out between me and Neville you should think about asking Justin out?"
Ernie stiffened and shook his head making Hannah laugh.
"Suit yourself," Hannah said, shrugging then adding, “I’ve got a date to get ready for!"
Neville walked into the Leaky Cauldron feeling upbeat. A date with a really nice and extremely cute girl seemed to be exactly what he needed if he had any hope of putting aside his feelings for Harry Potter.
“Hey!” Hannah said, standing up from her table.
Neville came over and gave her a hug. Hannah made a happy sound which he found very satisfying.
They both sat down, trading smiling glances with each other.
“So you work here?” Neville asked.
“Yep. Sure do,” Hannah beamed.
“That’s pretty cool,” Neville said.
"Yeah, I tend the bar and help clean up sometimes. Other than that I mostly sit at home with my plants," Hannah said.
"You've got a nice collection?" Neville said.
"Well, mostly they are for healing. Nothing exciting, I'm afraid," Hannah said with a frown.
"Healing? No, that's definitely exciting!" Neville said.
“A lot of people tell me I’m wasting my time. That I’m too nervous and tightly wound to be a healer,” Hannah said.
“That’s rubbish. Never set aside your dreams. Any dream worth having is worth giving a go, at least once,” Neville said.
“Probably. For now I’m just experimenting and doing a lot of reading. I used to steal chats with Pomfrey every moment I could back at school. I learned a lot from her. And Professor Sprout,” Hannah said.
“Professor Sprout is wonderful, isn’t she?” Neville grinned.
“Yes. Very wonderful,” Hannah replied with a big smile.
Neville smiled at her. She was so cute when she smiled.
“I’d love to take a look at your collection sometime,” Neville said.
“You can see them tonight, if you’d like,” Hannah said, her face suddenly turning red.
“Yeah. I’d like that,” Neville said.
Hannah had gone over a number of standards for what a successful first date with Neville Longbottom might look like and none of them had involved her bringing her home with him. But here she was, heart pounding, and opening the door to her flat with Neville quietly stepping in behind her.
“Nice flat,” Neville said as Hannah lit her lanterns and candles.
“Cheers. I could never afford it without Susan and Ernie,” she replied.
“Are they about?” Neville asked, looking around.
“I don’t think so,” Hannah replied, peering around and not seeing or hearing any familiar sounds.
Hannah walked over to the door that led to her balcony and stepped outside, Neville closely following behind.
“Here they are. Obviously, we can’t see them very well by moon and starlight but…”
Neville crouched down, fidgeting and shifting about with obvious interest.
“There’s some beautiful specimens here, Hannah. I must admit I’m envious,” Neville said, turning and smiling up at her.
Hannah felt herself turning red unable to speak, instead just nodding her head with desperate excitement. Neville stood back up and walked over to her.
“Thank you for showing me this,” Neville said, leaning up to look at the sky.
Hannah noticed Neville lick his lips and suddenly got a very funny notion that she might like to kiss him. Oh, but she had never done that before. Sure, she had practised with Susan loads of times before and maybe even fooled around with her a little too but never a real, serious proper kiss with someone she really liked in a more than friendly sort of way.
“Um… Maybe I’m… being silly but… can I kiss you?” Hannah said, trembling.
“Yeah,” Neville said and closed his eyes.
Hannah closed her eyes and held her breath, trying to push the sound of Muggle traffic below out of her mind as she leaned up to his mouth. Neville’s lips were soft if a bit dry. Hannah made a small, happy sound then pulled away in embarrassment.
“No, it’s fine,” Neville said, taking her chin his hand and placing his lips back on hers.
She moaned more loudly, feeling her entire body warm from Neville’s touch. Suddenly, they were drifting back through the open doorway, stumbling from the balcony back to the living room as their lips moved together in sensuous union.
They fell back against her sofa. Somehow Hannah had gone from never having had a proper kiss, to snogging, to actively making out with the boy she had loved nearly nearly a decade. She had never felt so alive.
Hannah lay back against the sofa, letting Neville slide on top of her. His hands roamed over her robes, as if searching for flesh to grope and fondle. Hannah squeezed his back, feeling the strength of his muscles. Despite his softness he was quite strong.
Hannah didn’t think she was the sort to sleep with someone on the first date but she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that if Neville had made the request at that moment she would’ve opened herself to him in a heartbeat.
Instead, they continued to make out for a bit before transitioning to a quiet cuddle on the sofa. Hannah didn’t know what to say or do. She was ecstatic and terrified all at once.
“This was nice, wasn’t it?” Neville said.
“Yeah. Does it have to end?” Hannah asked sadly.
“I’m afraid, so. I have to help Harry with his case again tomorrow,” Neville said.
Neville gave her a kiss on her cheek then slid off the sofa.
“When can I see you again?” Hannah asked.
“Soon. I promise,” Neville said.
Hannah walked him to the door and they briefly kissed again before he left. Hannah stood behind the door, her finger tips lightly touching the wood, longing to dash after him, though he would have already apparated away.
She turned around, placing her back against the wood. She clenched her fist and placed it over her pounding heart. She bit her lip as tears filled her eyes. She had never been so happy before.
Neville couldn’t stop smiling. He wasn’t even aware that smiling was a thing that could keep a person up all night, but there he was, lying in bed well past midnight and still feeling ever so pleased about his successful date with Hannah.
He wondered if he should’ve tried to take things further. He thought maybe he was too shy to initiate sex. But it was a nice thing to picture, though he felt guilty. He really liked her. He didn’t think he only was interested in sex. This was the same fear he had about his own crush on Harry Potter and here he was thinking about imposing the same anxiety on Hannah.
But there wasn’t anything wrong with sex, was there? There was no shame in feeling sexually attracted to people, regardless of how you felt about them. He began to gently rub himself through his pyjama bottoms. This was his own body. There was nothing wrong with sexual feelings.
He pictured how things could’ve gone differently. It wouldn’t be like it was with Harry in Berlin. That was all passion and they didn’t do anything but snog and suck each other off. He and Hannah would’ve made love, all while giggling, he thought.
Neville couldn’t resist any longer and pulled his pants down, gripping his own cock and gently stroking himself. A flurry of thoughts filled his mind. Hannah, Harry, even Ginny. Oh, Merlin, he was filled with so much desire. He shuddered as he came, not remembering who had been on his mind at the moment of climax.
With all his arousal faded, his heart began to ache. He was developing feelings for Hannah. He had feelings for Harry. He thought he might have some feelings for Ginny. Things were complicated. He needed to sit down and have that dinner with Harry and Ginny soon. He needed to figure out where he stood with all his potential lovers, lest someone get hurt.