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They planned on moving to 12 Grimmauld place the day before his birthday. Gran was forced to leave most of her belongings behind. There simply was not enough room. He hadn’t realized how much they had until they started deciding what to take and what they had to leave behind.

He took care to send owls to his mates to inform them that he had to move and that he wasn’t allowed to leave for the remainder of the summer. He told them he will give them full details when he sees them and, in the meantime, read the Daily Prophet. 

He loathed being cooped up like he was a child who couldn’t care for himself. He could handle himself quite well. How many times do I have to face Voldemort to prove it? He had thought angrily. 

Almost immediately he received replies from them.

The first owl he received was from Hermione, along with a wrapped present, and a card.

Dear Neville,

How perfectly awful that you are being rooted up like that. At least you have Harry, though, right? I read about Peter Pettigrew breaking out. How terrifying. They didn’t divulge much into the details, though. We should be careful what we say until we meet in person. 

I do hope you’re alright! Happy early birthday! I don’t expect you can receive owls once you’re there, can you?

I am on holiday in France at the moment. I didn’t know how I was going to send this to you. Then Trevor showed up! I think he wanted to make sure my present got to you OK. I bought your present by owl-order; there was an advertisement in the Daily Prophet.

France is lovely. It has such an interesting history of witchcraft. I’ve rewritten my whole History of Magic essay to include some of the things I’ve found out. I hope it’s not too long. It’s two rolls of parchment more than Professor Binns asked for. Write back if you can. Otherwise I will see you on the Hogwarts Express on September 1st!

Love from,

Hermione

P.S. Ron says Percy’s Head Boy. I’ll bet Percy is really pleased. He’s had such a rough time, he deserves it.

Neville bit his lip, the last bit made him feel a bit uncomfortable. The death of Penelope Clearwater seemed to weigh heavily in Percy. As unpleasant of a person he was; he didn’t deserve that. He idly wondered if Ginny had returned from the Mind Healers yet.

He put Hermione’s letter aside and pulled up the rather heavy present. He couldn’t imagine what it was. He ripped back the paper and saw a large book. He read the title as The Rare and Unique Plants of Herbology and How to Tend Them. 

“Oh, wow Hermione!” He said out loud gleefully. 

He picked up Ron’s letter next.

Dear Neville,

Happy early birthday, mate. Bad luck having to move. I read about Pettigrew, though. Nasty business, that. Must be bonkers for them to make you move. I would be upset too. Especially with Harry there. I know you get on most of the time but he is still a bit of a git, isn’t he? Speaking of gits; Seamus owled me an apology. He probably did to you as well. Don’t know why he bothered to help when he ditched us in the end. Guess he fancied that Dean and Liam’s activities lacked mortal peril. Here I thought it was part of our charm!

Percy got Head Boy and has become unbearable. I know things have been rough but I don’t see why the rest of us have to suffer through it. 

Ginny is better. She’s not back from St. Mungo’s Mind Healer Ward yet but she should return before we head back on the Hogwarts Express.

Maybe we can meet up to buy our schoolbooks, if you’re allowed out.

Ron

Neville turned to his present and unwrapped it. It looked like a miniature glass spinning top. There was another note from Ron beneath it.

Neville— this is a Pocket Sneakoscope. If there’s someone untrustworthy around, it’s supposed to light up and spin. Bill says it’s rubbish sold for wizard tourists and isn’t reliable, because it kept lighting up at dinner last night but he didn’t realize Fred and George had put beetles in his soup.

Bye—

Ron 

Neville had to laugh at that. Fred and George were brilliant pranksters. He had never met Bill but he reminded him of Percy. 

He frowned when he read about Ginny. It was sad that all of that happened to her during her first year at Hogwarts. He was relieved that she was going to be able to return for her second year.

The next letter was from Seamus. He frowned and opened it. He wasn’t sure he was ready to listen to him, let alone forgive him for ditching them.

Neville,

Happy early birthday. I’m sorry I ditching you in the end. Me mam was on me after the article at Christmas but the death of Penelope Clearwater was the final strike for her. She said you hanging around a Slytherin was bad news and that I mustn’t involve myself in such things. It’s not that I believed her, mate. Obviously, all of it is rubbish. I just knew that with what was going on it was going to end up being another wild adventure that I feared me mam would get wind of. I’d end up getting home schooled or some shite like that. I can’t be stuck back here. Dean and Liam are grand. We should all hang around sometime. I read about that madman escaping Azkaban. Mam hit the roof at that. She thought you ought not return. Said you tend to put all the other students in danger. Not a bad idea of you stayed home until this mess is sorted. Not just for our sake but for your own. A You-Know-Who follower escaping Azkaban can’t be a good sign. What if he comes after you? Can’t find you at Hogwarts if you aren’t there, though. Be careful, mate. 

Cheers!

Seamus

Neville let out an angry growl as he tore up Seamus’ letter and threw it into the fireplace.

What a prat! Doesn’t want me there, does he? Find me a danger, does he? Well if it weren’t for me Voldemort would have become fully alive and Ginny would have died. Who knows what would have happened after that? Me and my lot are making it safer for all of them!

He frowned as he slumped back into a chair. But Dobby tried to stop me from returning to Hogwarts last year for the same reason. Maybe I am the cause of it all, even if I do solve it in the end. Yet Penelope died because I hadn’t solved it fast enough. He sighed. Maybe it would be better without me there.

Neville picked up the last parcel. The untidy scrawl was from one other than Hagrid, the Hogwarts gamekeeper. He tore off the top layer of paper and caught a glimpse of something green and leathery. Before he could properly unwrap it, the parcel gave a strange quiver, and whatever was inside it snapped loudly—as though it had jaws.

He froze. He knew Hagrid would never send him anything dangerous on purpose, but then Hagrid didn’t have a normal person’s view of what was dangerous. Hagrid had been known to buy vicious three-headed dogs from men in pubs, and sneak illegal dragon eggs into his cabin.

Neville poked the parcel nervously, unsure he wanted to further mess with it. It snapped loudly back at him. He picked up his new, heavy Herbology book, ready to strike. Then he seized the rest of the wrapping paper in his other hand and pulled.

A book fell out. Neville only just registered its handsome green cover, emblazoned with the golden title The Monster book of monsters, before it flipped onto its edge and scuttled sideways along the table like some sort of crab.

“Uhhrm.” Neville muttered.

The book toppled on the floor with a loud clunk and shuffled rapidly to the other room. It slid under the couch as Neville followed stealthily behind it. He was glad Gran was out doing errands. He got down on his hands and knees and reached for it.

“Ouch!” 

The book snapped shut on his hand and then flapped past him, still scuttling on its covers. Neville scrambled around and finally threw himself forward onto it. He managed to flatten it. 

Neville scrambled to one of the drawers as he clamped the struggling book close to his chest. He found a roll of Spellotape and wrapped it around it repeatedly until it was well contained. The Monster Book shuddered angrily but it could no longer flap and snap so he slammed it back onto the table and reached for Hagrid’s card.

Dear Neville, 

Happy birthday!

Think you might find this useful for next year. Won’t say no more here. Tell you when I see you.

All the best,

Hagrid

It struck him as ominous that Hagrid thought a biting book would be useful. He put it out of his mind, determined to enjoy his early birthday gifts. He put Hagrid’s card with Ron & Hermione’s with a bit of a smile. There was only one letter from Hogwarts left.

He noticed it was a bit thicker than usual. Neville slit open the envelope and pulled out the first page of parchment within, and read:

Dear Mr. Longbottom,

Please note that the new school year will begin on September the first. The Hogwarts Express will leave from King’s Cross station, platform nine and three-quarters, at eleven o’clock. 

Third years are permitted to visit the village of Hogsmeade on certain weekends. Please give the enclosed permission form to your parent or guardian to sign.

A list of books for your next year is enclosed.

Yours sincerely,

Professor McGonagall

Deputy Headmistress

Neville pulled out the Hogsmeade permission first and glanced at it, no longer grinning. He would have loved to visit Hogsmeade but he doubted he’d be allowed to, given the current circumstances.

He frowned at it a while longer and then put it with the rest of his things. He still had packing to do.

Moving day came too quickly. It was rather depressing because he had to leave the place, he grew up in. It was all because of a Voldemort fanatic breaking out of a prison that they had declared unbreakable. Then again, everyone had believed that no one could break into Gringotts and yet Quirrell had managed to do that during Neville’s first year. He was starting to believe that grownups only pretended to know things.

Various witches and wizards, he assumed were members of the Order of the Phoenix, helped them move their things. Some of them he knew and others he did not. None of it mattered to him.

When it was time for them to go; he Side-Along apparated with Gran. 12 Grimmauld Place seemed different this time. This is going to be my home now. He thought sadly to himself.

A door opened from upstairs and a horrific sound escaped from inside the room. He covered his ears; was more nauseated than when he felt the aftereffects of the Side-Along apparation. Merlin’s beard, what is that noise?

“Are you seriously covering your ears right now?” A voice he recognized as Harry’s spoke over the noise.

“Yes! What is that? Make it stop!” He exclaimed loud enough that his own voice seemed to irritate his ears.

“You’re like one of those old Muggle blokes that tell kids to get off their lawn.” 

Neville hadn’t realized he shut his eyes until the sound ceased and he was freed. He opened them, his eyes widening immediately at the sight of Harry. He had grown several inches taller and almost too thin for his stature. His jet-black hair was shoulder-length and as unruly as ever. He was wearing an opened checkered black and red shirt with buttons. Underneath was a simple white t-shirt. He had on light coloured Muggle jeans that almost bore as many holes as there was fabric. Everything appeared several sizes too large for Harry.

“Stop gaping at me like an idiot.” Harry scolded with a smirk.

Neville flushed red at the remark. “You just look...so different.” He couldn’t help but point out.

“Yes, well you are quite lame in your khaki trousers and button up shirt. Honestly, Neville. It’s like you sell Muggle Bibles!” 

“What?” Neville gaped at him, unable to fully comprehend his Muggle references. Since when was he an expert?

“Ah yes, but a bit small isn’t it? How is it that you barely get any taller yet you seem to be getting wider?” Harry pointed out.

Neville twitched, wrapping his arms around his waist protectively. He supposed he had gained some weight over the summer but it wasn’t something that he had taken much notice of until now.

“Oh, settle down, Neville. You look fine. It’s not like you’re Crabbe or Goyle sized. Wouldn’t care if you were as you aren’t a greedy git.” 

“Errr-” Neville managed to get out.

“Moving here, huh?” Harry interrupted cheerfully.

Neville continued to stare dumbly at him. He smelled sort of strange. It was sweet yet smoky, like scented burnt leaves. He squinted slightly. He could have sworn Harry’s eyes were a bit red-rimmed behind his black-wire glasses.

“Harry...what is wrong with you?”

Harry started cracking up. “I’m totally stoned. Shh. C’mere.” He pulled on Neville’s arm before he could begin to register what that meant.

Harry dragged him into his room and shut the door. Harry’s room was a myriad of clothes, wizard books and other odds and ends and strange Muggle contraptions he was not familiar with.

Harry picked up a strange, colourful pipe that was packed with some sort of plant. Harry placed the tip to his lips and used a Muggle fire starter to light it up. Neville’s eyes widened as he watched him pause before a burst of smoke exited his lips in what looked like bursts of clouds. 

“Wha--why? Can we?” Neville sputtered out.

“Shut up and put it to your lips and inhale swiftly as I light it. Then hold the smoke and exhale it slowly out of your lips. It makes you feel good--giddy--relaxed. You are quite in need of chilling out.”

Neville did as he was told, except he had started to choke and cough as soon as he had inhaled it. 

Harry chuckled and patted his back. “Don’t inhale so deep to start. You took in too much smoke at once.”

Neville, whose face had turned a light shade of green, nodded slightly. This time he took in the smoke slower and just as Harry said, it was easier to inhale. He held onto it a moment and then watched the smoke escape his lips in awe. He went again and then offered it back to Harry.

“That’s the ticket. Puff, puff, pass, as the Muggles say.” Harry praised him, causing Neville to blush lightly.

Harry inhaled the smoke deeply, held it and allowed it to escape his nostrils in a way that reminded him of a dragon. After Harry’s second puff in. Neville started to laugh.

“Dragon...nostrils.” He let out.

“Wha?” Harry replied in a way that reminded Neville of Goyle.

That made him laugh harder.

“You’re stoned.” Harry accused him.

“I’m what?” Neville wasn’t sure he liked the sound of that. Is someone going to throw rocks at me? Is Harry going to? His eyes widened into saucers.

“No, dumbass. It means you are on drugs. The kind that make you feel good and high. Like a potion that makes you feel loopy.” Harry explained between laughs. 

“Stop laughing at me! You’re the one...what is with the Muggle...thingies?”

Harry frowned at him. “So many Slytherins are so obsessed with looking down on Muggles that those who don’t are afraid to voice it. Afraid to show knowledge of em. Well shit is changing, mate!”

“That’s a lot of words.” Neville said after a few moments and then broke into a strange fit of laughter.

Harry shook his head at him, smirking. “Whatever, stoner.” He snickered.

“OK so then what is this?” He pointed at something rectangular with a variety of buttons. 

There was a sort of metal pocket up front and then on top there was a big metal saucer pocket. It was see-through so one could see the round, shiny metal thing placed into it. The sides of the rectangular object had a sort of soft-looking fabric on it. 

“That’s a Cassette/CD player. They are what Muggles put music in so that you listen to it. You press this button here and it opens like a drawer. You put in a cassette in it and close it. Then press the button says play. There are arrows that go left which means that means you rewind it and listen again. Then the arrows that point right allow you to go forward.”

Neville stared at it in awe. “They press it with their fingers?” He asked incredulously.

“Yup! Madness, isn’t it? I love it. Muggles are surprisingly creative in replacing magic to do things. They come up with what they call “technology” to make things easier.”

Neville was still staring blankly at the contraption. He pressed the “play” button and covered his ears. 

“Something’s wrong with it!” He yelled over it.

Harry had bowled over laughing. “Merlin...oh Merlin help me.” He exclaimed. “The one with the uh red square is stop.” 

Neville scowled at him and turned it off. “What the—”

“They call it grunge music and that was the band, Nirvana.” Harry informed him. “But let’s sneak to the CD shop and we can buy you something lame like Neil Diamond or some rubbish like that.”

“It has to be better than that.” Neville murmured to himself as he pressed a button that opened the top part. “What’s this?” He stared at it with furrowed brows.

“Oh, that’s a CD! It’s a newer type thing. You can skip whole songs. You don’t rewind so much as you just click the forward button and it goes to the next song. Careful. You will probably hate it just as much.” He snickered.

“You’re an asshole.” Neville smirked.

“Mm well this asshole is taking you out of this prison to a real Muggle CD shop!”

Neville’s eyes widened. “We can’t! We can’t leave—I mean that Pettigrew person is after us!” He exclaimed, his eyes darting about as though he was afraid, he’d dart out at any time.

“I doubt he’ll check the Muggle shops, mate. Besides, us not being allowed is why we are sneaking out.”

Neville watched him put out the ‘Pipe’ and then grab his cloak, his jaw dropping.

“Oh, come off it. We won’t get caught.” He drawled the cloak over the two of them.

They sneaked their way through the house to the front door. Luckily, everyone was too busy bustling about with the moving to have noticed anything even if they didn’t have the invisibility cloak.

They walked slowly once they were outside of the house. Neville was glancing about a bit frantically. He was sure something was after them. Harry insisted that it was just the weed affecting him. 

“I don’t think I like this.” Neville complained.

“Shut up. You will if you stop wringing your hands over it.”

Neville grunted but remained quiet the rest of the way.

Harry and Neville finally stopped in front of a dinky little shop with lettering across it spelling out, “One Stop Record Shop”. 

“What’s a record? Thought we were coming for...CD’s?” He wasn’t sure if he got the name right or not.

“Yes, well records are still about. They’re old ways of listening to music. Some Muggles go crazy over it and say that Vinyl is better than anything. To me it just has rubbish in the background. It’s barbaric even by some Muggles standards.” Harry explained.

Neville, wide-eyed, nodded his head slightly. 

“Come on.”  

He pulled the cloak off and shoved into the backpack Neville hadn’t realized he was carrying. Clever. He thought to himself.

Harry grabbed his hand and pulled him in, sparks jolting between them. He twitched slightly. Neville glanced at Harry whose brows had shot up but he hadn’t spared a glance Neville’s way. He wondered what he was thinking about.

As they entered Neville heard a ding noise that caused him to jump in surprise.

“What is that?” Neville whispered harshly; his hand squeezed Harry’s tighter.

Before he could answer he heard a distinctly female voice giggling. He turned to her, eyes widening.

“Hello Harry. Who's your—“” Her wide caramel eyes moved to their hands. “Oh, I didn’t know you were a pouf!” She pouted.

Neville ripped his hand away quickly. “We are not together!” His eyes were still darting about, searching the shadows for enemies.

Harry looked stung by his gesture momentarily and then grinned again.

“Uh—What he said—but don’t mind him.” He moved closer to the desk where the purple-haired, pale girl sat. She had holes in her face and her lips were black like they were rotting. “First time stoned.” Harry had said.

“Shhhh they’ll know!” Neville insisted.

She started giggling all over again. “What’s your name?” She asked with a bemused expression. 

“I’m uh—uh” He tried to think of a cover name and failed.

“This is Neville. Neville this is Janis.” Harry said.

“My parents named me after the singer.” She explained, wrinkling her nose. 

“He won’t understand. He doesn’t even like Nirvana.” Harry sent her a pointed look that Neville did not like and her eyes widened. “Besides, she was brilliant!”

“You didn’t have to listen to her stuff constantly as a kid.” She paused, “What do you mean he doesn’t like Nirvana?”

“Shut up. You look like an owl.” Neville grumbled.

They both laughed at him.

There was a variety of sales and dust lining the dinky little shop. He tried to ignore Harry talking up the Muggle shop girl when the ding went off again. He turned, alarmed, as though someone was surely after them. We’ve been found! He thought, starting to reach for his wand, even if they weren’t supposed to use magic outside of Hogwarts. Surely if we are in danger we are excused!

He relaxed when he realized it was three teenage lads, not their guardians or Peter Pettigrew coming to kill them.

“Oi! Who let the poufs in!” The largest lad said with a cruel smile. He was larger than Crabbe and Goyle, had blond hair, slightly pink skin, and watery blue eyes. He was holding a poking stick of some kind for reasons Neville couldn’t fathom.

The other two laughed. To the large lad’s left was a scrawny, sickly looking pale skin, dark hair and dull grey eyes. To his right stood a bloke with shaggy blond-hair, dirt brown eyes, and was built like a stocky Quidditch player. Both of them looked equally as mean.

The leader glanced to Harry and narrowed his eyes. “Thought I told you not to come here.” 

Harry simply smirked. “And I thought I told you to stop eating. Your five juggling chins is distracting.” He said coolly.

Neville started to back up slowly, unsure of himself and most likely still stoned. Of course, he tripped over a trolley of Muggle CDs and fell on the floor with a loud thump. 

The three lads turned to him and started to laugh hysterically. Neville could feel his cheeks heat up as he stood to his feet, hands curled into fists at his sides. 

“Oi, Harry is that pillock your boyfriend?” The blond leader called out.

“Shut it, Dudley. Or should I say, Diddims? I heard your mother call you that. Poor Dudley Diddims is too dim to make good marks in school!” Harry retorted. 

Dudley’s face turned beet red. “What? How? Why you little shit!” 

He reached out to grab for him but Harry was quicker. 

“Get him, Piers!” Dudley barked.

“That’s quite enough!” Janis cut through as she came out from behind the counter. She was wearing a similar get up as Harry.

“Oh shut, you Chaz!” Dudley continued.

“The word you’re looking for is chav. If you’re going to have a go at someone at least do it right, you bloody tosser!” She called out. 

Dudley looked like he was about to burst into flames, not that Neville would have minded at this point. 

“Ignore her! We are here for the losers who came in on our turf. Can’t follow directions, can you? Bet you’re a chav too. Does your dad even work, Harry? Is that why you’re a big poofter? Your mum raise you as a girl, did she?”

Neville could feel the radiation of energy coming off Harry in strong waves. Neville started to move in closer but strong hands gripped hold of him.

“Look who I found coming to his boyfriend's aid.” The one with shaggy blond hair said as he held him close to him. 

“Let me go.” Neville growled. All traces of being stoned had left his system.

“Nah. Think you’re going to learn a lesson just now.”

The rat-faced boy grabbed hold of Harry and held tightly onto him. Dudley stood in front of him, jeering at him maliciously. He curled his hand into a fist and punched Harry into the stomach.

Neville could feel powerful fury growing inside of him as he tried to jerk away. If the Muggle could feel it, he didn't show it.

“Yah. That’s right. And you’re next.” He jeered in Neville’s ear as he held him. 

He wished he could grab his wand and show them what they’d learned in the two years of being at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

It became tempted to try when Dudley smashed Harry in the nose, his glasses making a cracking noise as they laid crookedly on his face.

Harry smirked at him. “That all you got, Diddims? Watch out you might catch the pouf if you touch me too much!” He taunted him.

Dudley scowled as Piers’ eyes widened.

“I think we'd caught it by now!” Dudley said despite looking rather confused. 

“I’d rather be seen as a poofter than be a bully with only your two lackeys backing you up! Muggle or wizard; people who put down others for no good reason are bloody pathetic!” Neville’s voice rang out into the shop.

“What did you call me?” Dudley boomed, as baffled as he was angry. “Why you little bastard!”

Neville fought harder to squirm out of the grip of the boy holding onto him.

Dudley grinned maliciously, waddling over to him, leaving Harry to aggressively try to escape Pier’s arms behind him.

His cruel gaze fixated on Neville as he walked up close to him. “Bet this one was raised by his mum too. Dressed by her too by the looks of it. Probably a minger slag too. Can’t be attractive if she’s popped someone as ugly as you—” Dudley cut off suddenly. 

The three of them suddenly moved away from both Harry and Neville. Janis, who had moved behind the counter and was speaking into some sort of Muggle device he didn’t recognize, was gaping in horror.

Dudley appeared to be swelling. At first Neville thought it was the last remnants of the drugs in his system causing him to see things. One look at Janis and he knew he wasn’t imagining it. Dudley’s great, round face started to expand, his watery blue eyes bulged, and his mouth stretched too tightly for speech. 

Harry moved over to Neville and clasped his hand. The other two immediately started swelling too. 

The next second the bottoms of their trousers bounce off and pinged off the walls. Their shirts stretched to maximum capacity, bulging bellies breaking free. Each of their fingers blew up like salamis as their whole bodies began to rise up into the air in the tiny space.

Neville, Harry, and Janis watched with wide eyes as the three bullies, who were vast like buoy with piggy eyes drifted to the ceiling, their feet sticking  out weirdly as they continued floating about.

“Help!! Help!!” They squealed as their tiny arms flailed aimlessly.

Harry pulled on Neville’s hand, is pulling him out of his trance-like state. 

“Time to go!” He called out. “Call uh your police!” He added to Janis, who was still gaping at the bullies in horror as they hovered on the ceiling helplessly.

Neville didn’t answer as Harry dragged him toward the exit of the shop. 

He stopped only momentarily to shout, “Ask your mum how she’s related to Harry Potter!”

Harry stared to laugh as they headed out toward the streets. Neville couldn’t help but join him even though he had no idea what he was on about. 

“Take that you gits! You deserved it! You deserve what you got!” Neville shouted.

They kept running toward the dark, quiet streets, leaving the approaching sirens behind them.