July 30th, 1986
Neville slowly walked along the garden, noticing the way the Shrivelfig’s twigs had bent and the Blusterberries had ripened. It had been almost a week since he’d been here; during the last days’ heavy rains Gran hadn’t let him leave the house. “It’s for the Wiggentree,” Augusta Longbottom had told him in the vaguely irritated tone she always used when talking about gardening, “I’ve got my best draining charms on the place.” She’d promised that the plants wouldn’t drown even though the rain wouldn’t let up, but she’d not let him see for himself. It had been too dangerous for a clumsy little boy.
The Shrivelfig hadn’t taken to all the water too badly. After peering closely at the damage Neville was mostly sure even the bent twigs would recover. He felt a stab of guilt for doubting his Gran. It was just - Gran didn’t always understand or have the patience for how important the garden was to him, and so, while Neville had known that her charms were better than his own would ever be, if he even ever got a wand… Neville couldn’t be entirely certain they’d be good enough for that much rain…
The Niffler’s Fancy didn’t seem worse for wear, the Blusterberries looked exactly as they should this time of year. ‘If I go get a basket Hetty can serve the first ripe ones to Great-Aunt Enid,’ he thought.
He was so intent on the prospect of rare auntly approval that he almost didn’t notice the ancient Wiggentree behind all the bushes. There was the barest glimpse of lilac in the corner of his eye, though, and –
The gnarled Wiggentree had never once blossomed for as long as six-year-old Neville could remember. ‘I know I forget far too many things,’ he thought as he ducked around the berry bushes, ‘but I’d never forget that.’ Thoroughly awed, he touched a finger to the lowest hanging petal.
He jumped when a giant hat cast its shadow over him. “Your grandfather always thought a good dousing would do it good,” Gran grumbled.
July 30th, 1996
Neville spent most of the afternoon in the garden shed practicing with the new wand Gran had bought him, the wand it had taken him nearly an hour at Ollivander’s to find, the wand he still couldn’t quite believe he had got. He knew that he’d sort of come to an arrangement with his old one – his father’s – this past year, but this one… this one…
There was a funny feeling coursing through him every time he uttered a spell. Neville had only had this feeling once or twice before, during their secret DA practices, and even then it had never been this strong. ‘Is this how it is for everyone all the time?’ he wondered and spent a thought of pity for second-year Ron with his poor broken wand.
Greenhouse spells first, to familiarize himself with the cherry and unicorn hair, getting a feel for what they could both do using the kind of magic he knew best. Neville was fairly confident in his defence spells as well, but he was a little afraid of how strong – how much stronger – the effect might be if he tried those. He used to have to push the spells through with all his might and he really didn’t want to blow up his shed.
An owl came by the window as he was experimenting with the watering system. ‘Luna’s Dad’s Gefjun,’ he recognized, and he would have stopped and let her in except he was getting the hang of the aguamenti now, sprays and trickles precise as they had never been and… Gefjun cocked her head as they stared at each other for a few moments, then she settled on the small windowsill to watch him.
He’d slept poorly last night. The whole month, really. Nightmares about the Ministry added to the nightmares about Death Eaters attacking St. Mungo’s he’d had ever since January’s prison break. At the moment, however, he felt more awake than he had all year. He had never been more happy that every spell performed on the property would be attributed to Gran.
“Maybe just a little less for the Flitterbloom,” he murmured with a critical eye on his plants. The Flitterbloom seemed to sway encouragingly.
Outside the shed Gefjun was joined by Pigwidgeon.
July 30th, 2006
There were far too many people in Gran’s garden than Neville was really comfortable with. It had taken him what felt like an hour to get out of a conversation with the Deputy Head Auror, and while he might have been flattered the first time, he was thoroughly annoyed by what had to be the fourth spiel today to recruit him.
“Thanks for this,” Harry said when they met up by the cold table. He looked more tired than Neville himself did after the worst of exams or two consecutive nights of catastrophes. Neville felt most of his annoyance dissipate. They were having a joint party this year precisely because Neville could draw a little bit of Harry’s spotlight.
Kreacher and Hetty between them had produced cakes and pastries and other dishes besides that could rival the biggest feasts at Hogwarts, and of course Molly Weasley had brought even more, and since Neville and Draco had been in charge of the garden Harry and Ginny had hardly had to do a thing.
They looked over to where Gran was chatting with Arthur who had little James peeking around his legs and Hermione’s and Ron’s youngest on his shoulders. Great-Uncle Algie was in deep conversation with Kingsley and Bill. Draco was currently entertaining a very tired-looking Ginny with what was likely a tale about French Quidditch. Neville caught Harry tracing the movement of Draco’s arm – the arm that was uncovered by the sleeveless tunic Draco was wearing.
The Mark was fading more with every year but as of yet was still clearly visible, and as Draco wildly illustrated an outrageous play it was moving about very close to Harry’s new-born. A year ago Draco might have never shed his robe during a semi-official gathering. A year ago Harry might have grown tense at the sight and rushed to interrupt. This year, Harry summoned the pitcher of the punch and offered Neville a cup.
Considering that it had been prepared by the children – if under Teddy Lupin’s earnest supervision – the punch was surprisingly tasty. Incidentally, it appeared that for some reason or other the Deputy Head Auror was hesitating to approach Ginny.
“D’you have more private plans for tomorrow?” Harry asked. The Potters planned to spend Harry’s actual birthday the following day with just the small version of his family.
Eye still caught by the display of Draco’s arms in the afternoon sun, Neville nodded. ‘Tonight, in fact,’ he thought but didn’t say out loud. Harry looked far too exhausted to be properly envious.