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Neville looked up sharply from his textbook as the door swung open with a bang, the knob crashing rather violently into the wall behind.

"Bloody buggering hell. I fucking hate them!" Ron swore, tossing his broom onto his bed.

Neville winced as the handle cracked against the bedpost and turned his head to the side upon hearing a swish where Dean and Seamus had popped out from behind the hangings of Dean's bed. The three of them held a quick exchange of raised eyebrows and silent shrugs until a muddy glove whizzed by, barely missing Seamus' head and splattering mud in its wake.

"Oi! Watch it, Weasley!" Seamus yelled, wiping a brown glob from his cheek with his fingers. "S'not my ruddy fault you're a shite Keeper!" He hung over the side of the bed, stretching to grab a crumpled towel from the floor.

Neville rolled his eyes at Dean and stuffed his book under his pillow, sitting up and grabbing his wand from the nightstand as Ron stormed past his bed, fists raised and face red.

"So I'm a shite Keeper, am I?" Ron fumed, pushing Seamus who twisted and scrabbled for balance before falling on his bum.

"Ron…" Dean said, rising from his bed and trying to squeeze his way between the two.

"Oh, so you think I'm shite, too, do you?" He whirled around to glare at Neville. "You too, right?"

Neville sighed and opened his mouth to speak, but Ron had already turned back to Seamus who was trying to scramble up from the floor. Ron pushed him back down roughly, and Dean stepped closer, pushing Ron back, away from Seamus. Ron teetered and swung off-balance, punching Dean in the arm.

Neville sat there and watched the scuffle, unwilling to involve himself in the row and not a little fearful of Ron's temper. Ron was doing a fair job of beating the shit out of the two of them, until Seamus lunged and managed to knock him backwards off his feet, sending him sprawling onto Neville's bed. Neville tried to scoot out of the way, but was rewarded with a sharp elbow in his ribs as Ron struggled to rise. Getting to his feet once again, he lunged at the two boys, and Neville reluctantly realized he was going to have to do something before Ron really hurt someone. He clutched his wand tightly and pointed it at Ron's back.

"P-Petrificus Totalus!" Neville said, and Ron's limbs snapped together as he fell headfirst, his chin striking Dean's mattress with a loud thump as the two boys scrambled out of the way.

Seamus kicked Ron in the shin and muttered a curse before Dean grabbed his arm and hauled him away from Ron's frozen figure. "Nice one, Longbottom. Didn't think you had it in you."

Neville blushed and shrugged his shoulders. "I– Well, it…it was the first thing I thought of."

"Yeah. Well, you can stick around and sort him out then. We'll see you later," Dean said, turning and dragging a still-muttering Seamus towards the door.

"What – you're leaving?"

"You don't really think we're gonna stay while you thaw him out, do you? Just be grateful my bed broke his fall. If he'd smacked his face on the floor, I expect you’d have to transfer to a new school to keep him from killing you. As it is, well, we'll come visit you in hospital, yeah?"

Neville stared after his two friends, open-mouthed, as the door closed behind them. He'd stood up for them to stop Ron killing them and in turn, they'd gone and buggered off. Right. Lovely. He turned and looked at Ron's body, propped on the bed by his chin, and then down at the wand still in his hand.

"Um, right. Well, Ron, I…" He walked over at sat on the bed next to Ron's frozen head, leaning forward a bit so he didn't have to look at his face. He reached out a tentative hand and touched Ron's hair, pulling out a clump of dried mud from the ends and rubbing it into dust between his fingers.

"You need a bath." He poked the back of Ron's neck with his index finger and the skin felt hard and stiff, but still warm and clammy. Well, at least he was still alive.

Oh god, he was in for it now. Ron was going to murder him, and all he could think to do at the moment was stall for time, which was only making it worse, really, but it's not like he didn't know exactly how it felt…

"That's right, you know, back in first year," he said aloud to Ron's back. "You left me petrified in the common room for hours. Yeah. So. So, it's…. Well, you owe me one. And-and, Professor Umbridge! If you'd put them in hospital she'd find out and, and well, she already hates us and she hates Harry, and where is Harry? Wasn't he at practice with you? I mean– Oh, right, he's at detention. Again. He'd better be careful, you know, or she's going to expel him. But, yeah, anyway, er.

"You have to promise not to kill me. Right, okay? If I let you go, 'cause, 'cause murder will definitely get you expelled, you see, and then Gran will have at it with your mum, and then you'll end up in Azkaban and that would be really, really bad. And, well, I'd be dead, so that would definitely be bad, and–"

He covered his face with his hands to shut himself up, and noticed they were shaking. He could wait for Harry to get back from detention or for Dean and Seamus to get back, but then…and Ron didn't exactly look very comfortable with most of his weight on his chin like that. Right. Buck up. Take it like a man, his Gran would say.

Still, he wasn't completely stupid. He stood up and quickly walked over towards his own bed, putting some distance and the bed itself between them. He saw Ron's broom leaning awkwardly against Ron's bed and inspiration struck. He grabbed the broom and retreated back near the head of his own bed and pointed his wand at Ron.

"Finite Incantatum!"

Ron gave a loud cry as his knees cracked against the floor and Neville was sure he heard him growl as he got to his feet. Even at this distance, his chin looked quite red where he'd been leaning on it, and the expression on his face was indeed murderous. Neville held out the broom before him like a shield. "Don't! I-I'll, I'll–"

But Neville never got the chance to decide exactly what it was he was going to do. Even limping, Ron was quick. He jumped atop Neville's bed, grabbed him by the front of his robes and tackled him to the floor, using the broom to help pin him flat. Okay, so maybe the broom hadn't been such a good idea, Neville thought. Ron was practically flat on top of him and their noses were barely an inch apart. He struggled to speak and found he was having trouble breathing, the broom handle pressing hard against his chest and also holding his arms immobile, and his mouth gaped, fish-like. He thrust his hips upward and kicked his legs, trying to squirm out from beneath Ron, but Ron was much bigger and much stronger and was pressing his own hips down hard, and he yelped when Ron's hipbone dug into the soft flesh of his abdomen.

"I can't believe you did that to me," Ron spat, teeth clenched.

Neville was decidedly uncomfortable and Ron's face was so close he looked like an angry red Cyclops. He closed his eyes, still squirming. He could smell the sweat and the mud, both very strong and rank this close up. Ron's breath was hot on his face, and to his chagrin, he realized that Ron's hip wasn't the only thing that was hard down there.

"I– I didn't think it would work!" Neville wailed.

Suddenly the pressure eased and Neville gasped for breath in relief. He heard strange breathy sounds above him and cracked open his eyes to see Ron sitting up…and laughing. Neville blushed.

"Christ, Neville. You–" Ron ran his hand over his face, smearing the dirt on his skin even more. "Yeah, all right. But so you know, that was Hermione who petrified you, not me, not Harry."

"You didn't stop her," he muttered and bucked his hips.

"Okay, okay, I'm getting up." He rolled off, broom in one hand, and offered Neville the other. "And really, have you ever tried to stop Hermione doing something? Right, didn't think so."

"Yeah, all right." Neville took his hand and smiled ruefully as Ron yanked him upright, and he ended up with a face full of muddy Quidditch robes. "Oimbedummmph-Quidditchummmmph!" He wrestled the robes from his face and took a gulp of fresh air. "Ugh, you stink!"

Ron whirled on him, eyes narrowed, and roughly pushed him back down. "So you do think I'm lousy! I knew it!"

"I wha? Wha'd'I say?"

"You said I stink at Quidditch – I heard you!"

Neville sighed and tentatively lifted himself up onto his elbows. "You stink. As in smell. Really bad, too."

"Oh." Ron raised his arm and sniffed. "Yeah. Reckon I do. Sorry." He held out his hand again to Neville.

"Um, thanks, but," Neville said, nervously eyeing his hand. "I'm fine. Really."

"Er, right, I'll just…" Ron said, straightening up. "Right. Shower. Uh, see you later."

"Don't forget your glove."

"Oh. Yeah. Thanks."

Neville sighed and stood, rubbing his sore arse, and flopped down onto his bed, his head connecting with something much harder than his pillow. "Ow!" He reached up and pulled out his textbook. Right, he had homework to finish. He glanced down at his crotch. He could feel that he was still mostly hard, but at least his robes weren't tenting. Well, not too badly. And hopefully Ron hadn't noticed. He didn't expect Seamus and Dean back for a while, and Harry would likely be gone 'til late. And Ron…was in the shower. Wet and soapy. And naked. Maybe…

God, what was wrong with him? He'd thought he liked girls. He'd kissed girls. Well, a girl. Ginny. But now…great. Ginny's brother. They did look alike. A bit. Maybe. Though Ginny was definitely smaller and softer. Maybe he liked boys, too. Or maybe just Weasleys. Or maybe it was just all that wrestling and rubbing. It's not like he hadn't already been suffering inappropriately timed erections for a couple of years now. And he was pretty adept at taking care of them, too – when he was afforded privacy since he was still pants at silencing charms. He knew Seamus and Dean 'helped each other out' as they called it when they thought nobody was listening – Seamus was pants at silencing charms, too – but they'd talk about different girls' breasts and fannies while they did. He liked to listen to them and now he wondered, was it because of the naughty things they talked about or was it because he knew they were having one off together?

He thought about what it had been like to kiss Ginny. And then thought about Ron again, in the shower… And it still didn't make any sense to him.

Grumbling, he turned over onto his stomach, scrambled around to find his wand which he'd dropped earlier, and opened the textbook. Right. Vanishing Spells.

*~*

Neville continued to watch Ron as the term progressed. It was rather easy, actually. Most people didn't notice him unless he was doing something stupid or clumsy, particularly in potions class. Sometimes it bothered him, when Harry and Ron would go off together with Hermione, and Dean and Seamus would go off by themselves, and he'd be left alone to his own devices. He'd always wondered what it would be like to have a best friend like that, but he knew the others liked him and they didn't leave him out of things on purpose – most of the time. But the time alone had actually been surprisingly beneficial for a change.

The D.A. had been something of an awakening for him. He'd been really nervous at first, afraid of once again being teased for being pathetic and bottom of the class talent-wise, but Harry had turned out to be a surprisingly good teacher. And Harry (and Hermione and even Ron) had been very patient with him. Not wanting to disappoint them, and despite being very behind on his mountain of schoolwork as end of term drew closer, Neville had managed to find a few books on Defence in the library. In the late evenings, instead of listening to the imagined exploits of Dean and Seamus, he'd close his bedcurtains, feigning sleep, and read up on hexes and jinxes and practice wand movements of a different sort.

But during the day, he still watched. He watched all of the Weasleys. Ginny, he'd discovered, had a boyfriend; some bloke in Ravenclaw who was also in the D.A. At first he'd felt a pang of…something. Jealousy? But it had left him the moment Ron had walked into the common room, distracting him from his thoughts. He'd watched Fred and George, too, but while he liked them well enough and found them amusing and occasionally entertaining – when he wasn't the target of their experiments – the only times his cock stirred in their presence was when his mind got to wondering if the two of them ever 'helped each other out'. Perhaps with their friend Lee in the middle…

He started counting the number of erections he got, making a note of how many he could attribute to thinking about girls, to thinking about boys, boys talking about girls, girls talking about boys, the wind, Quidditch, Quidditch players, one particular Quidditch player….

Reviewing his sums, he decided he was simply a poor maths student and except for the fact that there'd be no D.A. meetings, he was looking forward to the Christmas holidays. Not that he could talk to his Gran about his confusion. That thought made him shudder. But he could talk to his dad, even though his dad couldn't talk back. Sometimes when he'd visit, he was sure his dad could understand him; he'd lose the glassy-eyed stare for just a fraction of a second and smile back at him. It was those moments that always buoyed him during his visits with his parents. He didn't expect that they'd ever recover, but it gave him some hope nonetheless; hope that despite his many shortcomings, they'd be proud of him anyway.

After the final D.A. meeting of the term, he let Dean walk ahead with Lavender and Parvati and hung back, walking as slowly as he could and keeping an eye out for Filch, Mrs Norris and especially Peeves. Ron and Hermione caught up with him in the corridor just before he reached the portrait of the Fat Lady, and were arguing with each other.

"Honestly! You know nothing about women," Hermione scoffed.

"Why would I need to know about women anyway?" Ron asked. "Besides, all the girls 'round here are dumb. Completely daft! All they do is giggle. All the time. Even the ugly ones. Look, I know Harry, and there's just no way he– Oh, hi, Neville."

Hermione huffed and pushed past him, and Neville could have sworn he saw the Fat Lady flinch as Hermione practically spat the password at her.

"Dunno what's wrong with her," Ron said. He shrugged and clapped Neville on the shoulder.

"Er, right," Neville said, stiffening in more ways then one. Breeze from the portrait opening. That's it.

"You know, you're getting really good at–," Ron glanced around quickly and leant closer, lowering his voice. "You're getting really good at the Defence stuff."

Neville blushed and looked down at his feet; only, his feet were obscured by a very noticeable bulge in his robes.

"But just because I let you practice on me at meetings, don't go getting any ideas, yeah?" Ron continued, laughing.

"Wha?" Neville squeaked, feeling himself flush even more, his palms moist, sweat beading on his forehead and on the back of his neck as he tried to surreptitiously cover himself with his hands and turn his body away from Ron. Even the spaces between his toes felt sticky.

"You, all right?" Ron asked, concerned, his hand lingering on Neville's shoulder. "It's only you looked like, well you just came over a bit queer there for a minute."

Neville choked. "M'fine. Er, right. Got that, uh, Transfiguration essay. Yeah. Need to, er, finish. Right," he said, edging away towards the open portrait, where the Fat Lady was complaining about being left open as usual. "Um, bye," he added, nearly tripping over the threshold as he ran for the safety of the dormitory.

"Oi, Neville?" Ron called out after him, but he didn't look back. He ran through the common room, though stumble would be more appropriate, and he nearly tripped on the stairs as well. Reaching the top landing, he burst through the door, ignoring a startled Seamus, and dove for his bed, nearly ripping the hangings as he struggled to close them behind him. Ignoring Seamus' presence in the room and resolving to simply do things quietly, he reached inside his robes and into his pants, and closed his hand around his misbehaving prick.

"Ohhh," he groaned, rather loudly, and belated clapped his free hand over his mouth. He heard Seamus moving about the room, but since he didn't say anything, Neville decided not to offer an explanation. He was too preoccupied for conversation anyway. His palm had been sweaty already, so it slid nicely up and down his cock, his thumb gliding over the tip on the up-slide. He knew he wouldn't last long, and that suited him fine.

"Hey, Neville, you in here?" came Ron's voice and Neville froze, mid-stroke. He could feel himself pulsing against his palm, and fluid leaked from the tip onto his thumb.

"Neville?"

He heard Seamus grunt something and suddenly Ron's voice was ridiculously close by.

"You should come downstairs and do the Transfiguration essay with me. We can probably get Hermione to do it for us if we look pathetic enough. You know how she is."

He couldn't help it – he started stroking himself again, curling the hand over his mouth into a fist and biting down on his knuckles. "Um, I– I…" Oh god. He was breathing heavily, the hand on his cock pumping furiously, and he was trying not to think about how close Ron must be standing to him. Right on the other side of the curtain, just there…. Any moment he could just push the curtain aside and see…. He moaned aloud.

"You okay, mate?"

"F-fine," he stuttered, his hand still working, surprised at himself, that the thought of discovery seemed to excite him further rather than embarrass him. Another low moan escaped his lips, and again he bit down hard on his fist.

"You sound sick. D'you need to go to the hospital wing?"

"F-fine. J-just– a– a, oh god, a craaaamp," he managed, groaning out the last word as he spilled over his hand.

"Er, right. Yeah, okay. I guess I'll, um, I'll see you later, then."

He responded with a half-grunt and a lot of panting and lay back on his bed, wiping his hand on his sheet as he heard the door close with a soft click. He also thought he heard a muffled snicker coming from Seamus' direction.

"Uh-oh," he whispered to himself when he could begin to think a bit more coherently. Really, the Christmas holidays couldn't come soon enough.


~*~


The second term had seemed to start off well enough, and he'd been more than happy to be back at Hogwarts again. He'd avoided Ron and Harry that first night, still somewhat embarrassed about their unexpected meeting at St. Mungo's a week earlier and not ready to talk about it just yet. He had no real reason for not having told them before. After all, Harry's parents had been outright murdered – and by You-Know-Who himself, no less – and he supposed he'd at least had it better than Harry had, all things considered. Still, it felt…personal, he supposed, and sure, they were friends and all, but they weren't best friends, and besides, he hadn't known how to broach the subject anyhow. It wasn't exactly something he'd feel comfortable blurting out over pudding.

The morning of their second day back, however, something happened that shook his entire world as he knew it, and all thoughts of his burgeoning sexuality were replaced with a slow-burning seething anger and an uncharacteristic desire for revenge. He'd been unconsciously stirring his porridge and nibbling on a bit of bacon, listening to Harry, Ron and Hermione chatting as he often did at meals, when the morning post owls had arrived. He'd sat frozen and unnoticed in his seat, the idle chatter of exams and Quidditch and the recent holiday fading when Hermione yelped out loud, and he'd caught a glimpse of the headline:

MASS BREAKOUT FROM AZKABAN



When he'd finally seen the Prophet article himself later that day, he hadn't been able to tear his eyes away from the image of Bellatrix Lestrange smiling arrogantly and cruelly up at him, and it had seared itself into his mind. Everyone was talking about the escape. In fact, it was pretty much the only thing people were talking about. He himself didn't talk much these days, and nobody seemed to really notice anyway. The D.A. meetings had resumed, and if anything, they had been meeting even more frequently than first term which suited him just fine.

He told himself he was merely inspired rather than obsessed, but it wasn't until he actually snuck a book from the library – Heinously Hazardous Hexes for the Immorally Inclined – without signing it out, not caring whether or not he got into trouble, that he stopped to check himself. He still didn't say much most of the time, but he began to ease up on his fixation enough to allow a few other thoughts back into the recesses of his mind. He was failing miserably at potions and feared Snape would force him, too, to take remedial lessons like Harry. And he still couldn't completely vanish his kitten in Transfiguration, and wasn't immune to the exasperation in Professor McGonagall's expression or her constant tsking at him.

And then there was Ron, always there in the background, and his prick still chose to misbehave far too frequently in his presence. He just couldn't ignore that any longer either.

Valentines Day was their first Hogsmeade day of the term, and although he had no Valentine to spend the day with, he tagged along with Dean and Seamus who were also dateless. Lunchtime found them outside Madam Puddifoot's, Seamus pointing and sniggering loudly at the boys being reluctantly dragged inside by wide-eyed, love-struck girls, and Neville decided he was bored. He mumbled something about homework and food, though he wasn't hungry at all and he didn't feel much like revising, and made his way back towards the school, not in any particular rush.

As he passed the Quidditch pitch, he saw a blur of red and gold and realised that the Gryffindor team was holding practice. Without really thinking about it, a few minutes later he found himself up in the stands watching. Even from this distance, Angelina looked like she might cry. Or scream herself hoarse. Or possibly throw herself from her broom in despair. Or perhaps all three.

The two new beaters weren't very good, and they had difficulties with the various plays Angelina tried to run. At one point, it was only due to Ginny's surprising skill that she missed a head-on collision with a misdirected Bludger. And Ron…Ron really was rather dreadful.

Neville watched Ron intently. His face was flushed red from more than wind and cold as he let in yet another goal and turned to fly off after the Quaffle; probably more to avoid Angelina's wrath than any great desire to give the Chasers another go at him. He felt a strong pang of sympathy as he knew far too well how Ron must be feeling.

As the afternoon – and Ron's agony – wore on, dusk began to fall, and Angelina finally called an end to practice. As the team flew off to the changing rooms, Neville considered returning to the castle, but his thoughts were on Ron. He climbed down out of the stands and walked instead to the changing rooms. The members of the team began to trickle out the door, glum expressions on their faces, and Katie and Alicia departed with an obviously frustrated Angelina in tow, trying their best to console her and tell her it wasn't her fault.

Finally Ginny emerged, kit over her arm, looking startled to see him waiting there. "I thought – but no, I don't suppose Harry would come," she said. "Still, maybe you can talk some sense into him. He's debating if he should just fling himself off the top of the stands, or whether the Astronomy Tower would be better."

Neville widened his eyes.

"Oh, he's not serious. Besides, Mum would wring his neck. Were you watching then?"

Neville shrugged. "Yeah. You, er, you fly well."

"Not as well as Harry," she said, shoulders slumping. "And Ron…I thought maybe with the twins off his back. It's that song. Bloody Malfoy. He knows they'll sing it again and, well…." She held out her hands palms up and shrugged.

Neville nodded. "D'you think?" he asked pointing his chin at the door.

"Might as well. He won't talk to me, and he certainly won't talk to Harry or Hermione about it. Good luck," she said, attempting a smile before walking back up to the castle.

Neville opened the door cautiously. Ron, still in his kit, was alternating between punching one of the lockers with his fist and his forehead. Neville winced and closed the door behind him, removing his heavy cloak.

Ron looked up at the sound and scowled. "What are you doing here?"

Familiar with Ron's temper, Neville put his hand in his robe pocket and grasped his wand. "N-Nothing."

"You shouldn't be in here. Team members only, you know."

Neville shrugged and took a few more steps into the room, looking around. The smell of sweat and dirt and damp was strong in the air, but wasn't altogether unpleasant.

"I– Ginny said– " He sat down on the nearest bench and laid his cloak across it, summoning his courage. "I was worried. About you. You know. You, er, well, I was watching. Practice."

Ron's face fell and he slumped against the locker. "God. I am the worst Quidditch player ever in the entire history of Quidditch."

Neville smiled wryly. "You've never seen me play."

"But – But you're not even on the team!" Ron shouted, straightening up.

"No," Neville said, "and I never will be."

"Why did I ever think this would be a good idea? I'm completely mental! I should just resign and put everyone out their misery. Including me." He slumped against the locker once more and didn't even flinch when his head cracked against it. "It would be less humiliating to just forfeit the rest of the season."

"But…" Neville bit his lip. He really wasn't very good at this sort of thing. He wasn't all that fond of an angry Ron – especially when he was on the receiving end – but a moping gloomy Ron…he hadn't thought it possible, but depressed Ron was definitely worse. "But you tried out and made the team. How many other people did you beat out? You had to have been good or, or Angelina would never have let you on the team in the first place."

"She let Sloper and that other prat on the team! Oh, forget it, it's hopeless! We're hopeless."

Neville shrugged. He'd taken his hand from his pocket, fairly sure that Ron wasn't going to flatten him, and now his hands were fidgeting in his lap. "You're, well, really you're not that awful," Neville lied. "I think, well, I thinkyoucouldbebrilliant!"

Ron glared at him. "Maybe when Nifflers fly!" He turned his back to Neville and pulled his robes over his head, throwing them on the floor. "Just forget it. I don't want to hear it. Why do you care anyway?" His grimy t-shirt followed, except this he balled up and hurled across the room.

Neville couldn't answer. He was too busy staring at Ron's bare back.

"And you shouldn't be in here anyway. Just leave me alone."

Neville nodded, barely listening.

"I don't feel like talking to anyone. And certainly not you. I should have been a beater. I'd be better than the two idiots we've got, and then I could smack a bludger right up Malfoy's fat arse, and ugh! I smell like a dead erumpent!"

"Mmm, you should take a shower," Neville said, still staring at Ron while he undressed, and then blushing when he realized Ron was staring back at him. Neville dropped his gaze…right down to the sparse trail of ginger hairs that led into Ron's trousers and jumped as he realized his prick was also doing its best to have a peek as well.

"Wha?"

"A-A shower. They've showers in here, don't they? Hot water. Hot water's really good. Won't have to put up with Dean's awful singing here. Could have a good wan – er, wash. Yes, good wash. Squeaky clean and all that." Oh, please shut up he told himself.

"You know what I think?

"Huh?"

"I think you're even more mental than me."

"Oh. Right. Well, I'll just…." He stood up and inched backwards towards the door. "Have a good– um, see you."

Ron shook his head and reached for his zip. Neville fled.

He'd taken about ten steps out the door when he remembered he left his cloak inside. He stood outside arguing with himself about whether to go back to get it. Shivering, he glanced towards the castle. Too far to walk without it. And he'd only have to come back out for it again. Sighing, he turned and crept back inside. He glanced around quickly, but the room was empty and he could hear the water running somewhere in the back. Sighing in relief, he went to pick up his cloak and paused.

He really shouldn't. No, he definitely shouldn't. It was absolutely wrong and depraved, and…and he closed the door and tiptoed to the back, leaving his cloak behind.

The door to the showers was partially opened and he had a perfect view of Ron standing under the spray. He was slumped over, his forehead and one hand leaning against the wall, water streaming down his back and over his arse. Neville swallowed thickly and rubbed his hand over his crotch.

Ron stood up straighter and grabbed the soap, lathering himself. Neville rucked up the front of his robes and reached his hand into his pants. He stroked himself lightly, curbing his urge to thrust a bit faster; he'd probably never get another chance at this and he didn't want to waste it. Ron seemed to be in no hurry. In fact, he was taking an awfully long time soaping his bits….

Ron moaned softly and Neville jumped in surprise. He stumbled forward off balance right into the door, which creaked loudly as it opened. Neville winced and froze, hand in his pants and very obviously grasping his cock as Ron whipped his head around, a frantic and fearful look on his face as he dropped his own hands to his side.

"Oh, it's – bloody hell, Neville! What are you…? Oh my god, you were, you're…." Ron's voice trailed off and his eyes went wide as he realized exactly what Neville had been doing.

Neville felt himself blush crimson. He knew how it must look, but he was still frozen in place as if hexed, and he idly wondered if it was possible to wandlessly petrify yourself by accident. In fact, he wished his mind would wander a bit more so he didn't have to answer Ron whose lips were moving and he was definitely saying something, but Neville seemed to be experiencing a sort of deafness spell, too. And now Ron was walking over to him, dripping wet and completely naked and oh my god, Ron was going to kill him, or maybe just blind him so he'd never be able to watch him like this again, which would possibly be better than dying outright and….

"Neville!" Ron shouted, shaking him.

That seemed to do the trick and Neville yanked his hand from his pants, his robes falling but failing to hide the rather prominent erection poking underneath. He was shaking and he looked fearfully up at Ron.

"Oi! Don't faint on me."

"S-s-sorry. I– I, oh god, I–. Don't kill me, please don't kill me."

There were benches in the shower room and Ron led Neville over to one, pushing him down when Neville continued to stand, and sat down next to him.

Ron stared at him. "You. You were…."

"So were you!" Neville blurted and clapped his hand over his mouth.

"But I wasn't watching you while I was, you know!" Ron said, indignant. "That's just…that's just not on."

Neville blushed and looked down at his feet, sneaking a quick glance at Ron first. He was very aware that Ron was still naked and hadn't bothered to cover up, but was dismayed when he realized that Ron wasn't hard. Really, he wished he could melt and run down the drain with the water. He bit his lip. "It is for me," he whispered.

"What?" Ron asked, scooting a few inches away and covering himself with his hand.

Neville sighed. "I said– I said, it is for me."

"So, so you…you fancy blokes?" Ron asked in a hoarse whisper.

Neville shrugged. "Dunno. I mean, 's not like I've ever, you know."

"But– but you… Oi! You took my sister to the Yule Ball last year! Did you kiss her?" Ron demanded.

Neville shied back. "I– I didn't know last year," he squeaked, sidestepping the question and staring down at his shaking hands in his lap. "'Sides, I, uh, like girls, too. At least I think I do. Pretty sure. Yeah."

"Wha? But that's… How can you fancy both? That's just stupid! I mean, you either fancy blokes or you fancy birds. You can't fancy 'em both."

"Why not?" Neville asked.

"'Cause you just can't!" Ron said, looking away for a moment. He turned back, his voice a bit lower. "Fred and George said our cousin, well, mum said we don't talk to him because he's an accountant, but Fred and George said that mum just used that as an excuse because she didn't want to tell me he fancies blokes. He's a bit, well, mental anyway – not that I think you're mental or anything," he added quickly. "Well, okay, I do. Still, it's…. This is just really weird."

Neville nodded, not quite knowing what to say.

"So, d'you, d'you fancy me then?" Ron asked, his voice surprisingly quiet.

Neville shrugged. "Dunno. I mean, I like you, and you're fit and all, and, well, you do kind of have a nice arse–"

"Oi!"

"Well, you do," Neville said, stubbornly. The fact that Ron hadn't thrashed him – yet – had not escaped his notice.

"I do?" Ron asked.

"I said so, didn't I?"

"Think any girls think so?"

Neville shrugged. "Dunno. I haven't asked any."

"Oh. Right."

"So, were you really having a, you know, a wank, too? Only I couldn't really see…" Neville blushed again and was surprised to see Ron do the same.

"I– I, well I was trying to. Wasn't… soap helped a bit," Ron muttered.

"Oh."

"I wasn't, well I wasn't really in the mood, okay?" Ron said, defiant. "I…the Quidditch."

Neville nodded. "How about now? You…in the mood?"

"What? No!" Ron looked scandalized.

"'Cause I could, you know…"

"M'not a poof!"

Neville nodded. "I didn't say you were."

"But…" Ron looked down at his crotch and then back up at Neville, and the expression on his face was somewhere between horror and amazement. "You ever, y'know," he whispered. "With a bloke?"

Neville shook his head.

"But, but you want to?"

Neville nodded. His mouth had gone dry when he realized that Ron's cock was beginning to take an interest in their discussion. He was almost afraid to speak, but he met Ron's gaze and swallowed over the lump in his throat. He reached out his hand, slowly, tentatively brushed Ron's hand aside, and stared for a moment. The skin on Ron's thighs, hip and belly was pale and freckled, but his cock was surprisingly unmarred in comparison and rather pink. He was only half hard so it looked a bit wrinkled sitting there surrounded by ginger hair.

"Stop looking and just…you know. Get on with it."

Ron gasped as Neville closed his hand around his cock. It felt warm, rather nice, really, and not all that different from his own. Only it was a bit strange to see a cock in his hand and not be able to feel it as he usually did. Ron's cock twitched and he gave it a tentative stroke. Ron gasped again, and Neville felt it growing harder and longer still. He curled his four fingers around the shaft, and stroked, allowing his thumb to graze Ron's balls on the downstroke, and run over the tip on the up.

Ron seemed to like this as he threw back his head, panting, and a moan escaped his lips. Neville glanced at Ron's face and smiled, quickly looking back down and concentrating on how Ron's cock felt in his hand. How he felt. It all felt rather good, really.

Ron bucked his hips in time with Neville's strokes, and when Ron began chanting a constant litany of "Oh! Oh! Oh!", Neville sped up, feeling his own excitement building as well. A moment later, Ron groaned loudly and spilled over his hand in short jerks. With his free hand, Neville reached for his own cock through his robes, and had barely touched himself before he came, wet and sticky in his pants, his breathing as rapid as Ron's.

He let go of Ron and brought his hand to his lips. He stuck out his tongue and tasted; salty and warm, and a bit slippery, like his own. Ron made a loud throat-clearing sound and he looked up to find Ron staring at him strangely.

"Just, uh, just checking," Neville said.

"For what?" Ron asked hoarsely.

"T'see if it was, you know, different. From mine." Neville said, feeling suddenly shy.

"Is it?"

"Er, no. Not really."

"Oh. What…what's it taste like?"

"Salty," Neville said. "A bit odd."

"You, er, like it?"

Neville shrugged. "Dunno. 'S'all right I guess."

Ron shivered. "This. This doesn't mean I like blokes, you know!"

"'Course not. I was just, er, helping you out."

"Yeah. Yeah, 'cause, you know. I fancy girls, I do," Ron said, nodding his head.

"Of course."

"'Cause you can't like both."

"Right."

"Good."

"Good. So, you, um, you gonna tell Harry?" Neville asked.

"Tell Harry about…. No way! Are you mad?"

"Oh. So you two don't ever, you know?"

"Don't ever what?"

"Help each other out?"

"What?! Hell no! We're not poofs!" Ron said indignantly, drawing himself up and trying to cross his legs.

Neville blushed. "Oh."

"Not that you're– I mean, we – I mean. We're not!"

"I know."

"Right then."

"Yeah."

Neville sat there fidgeting, his hand still sticky. He didn't want to wipe it on his robes. They were both silent for a while and then Ron leaned away, returning with a small damp flannel which he handed to Neville.

"Here."

"Thanks," Neville replied, cleaning his hand. He went to wipe up the mess on Ron, but Ron grabbed the flannel back and dabbed at his bits himself.

"Still…."

"What?" Neville asked.

"Nothing."

"Oh."

"Just…felt really good, you know? Different."

"Yeah," Neville said, nodding.

"Right. Um. We should go," Ron said, getting up and trying – and failing – to cover himself with the small flannel. "It's nearly dinner, and Harry'll be back from his…date," he added, his lips twisting a bit on the word 'date'. "I should get changed anyway. 'S a bit cold in here."

"Yeah," Neville agreed absently. "I'll, uh, see you at dinner then."

"Yeah. All right."

Neville stood up and adjusted his robes. They were wrinkled, but that was nothing unusual, for him. He pants were damp and sticky but at least they hadn't soaked through his robes. "Um, Bye," he said, walking towards the door. He reached out to grasp the knob.

"Oi!" Ron called, and Neville turned to look over his shoulder. "No more checking out my arse."

Neville coughed.

"And Neville," Ron continued, blushing, "er, thanks."

Neville smiled shyly and headed off.

~*~

Neville hadn't expected it would ever happen again given Ron's reluctance and obvious uncertainties. After their loss to Hufflepuff the week after Valentine's Day, Ron had brooded. And sulked. And brooded some more. He'd brightened a bit once Harry's interview had been published, but Neville was still rather shocked when Ron had crept into his bed one night.

"Couldn't sleep," was all he said in the darkness, and then he'd grabbed Neville's hand and shoved it down the front of his pyjama bottoms.

Several days later it had happened again, and then again, until one time Ron, instead of crawling off to his own bed after he'd finished, had reached out and touched Neville in return. He'd fumbled a bit trying to get his hand inside Neville's pyjamas, aided when Neville had practically ripped the ties to get them open. To Neville's shame, he'd come in about three seconds flat; hardly enough time for a single stroke, much less a proper hand job. Ron had merely chuckled softly and whispered that he ought to practice more before returning to his own bed.

It became a regular thing as the term progressed, just two friends 'helping each other out', but Neville loved the secrecy of it. He knew Ron didn't tell Harry, and Neville had no one else to tell. It wasn't romantic, and Ron tended to be a bit rough, neither of them having much in the way of experience, but it was good, and it was exciting. Ron never gave any hint as to when he might next turn up, and that too gave Neville a thrill.

At first it was merely mutual wanking until one day, after dinner, he was walking back towards Gryffindor Tower when he was…accosted and shoved into a cupboard.

"Ger'off!" Convinced it was some Slytherin, maybe Crabbe or Goyle or one of the older boys, he struggled against his captor and tried to reach into his pocket for his wand. Whoever it was had Neville pinned to the wall, forearm against Neville's throat, and he was finding it hard to breathe. It didn't help that the cupboard was dark and tiny and dusty and musty-smelling. He continued to struggle, thrusting his hips to try to push the other person away, but they just pressed against him closer, rubbing…and thrusting back.

Just as he managed to reach into his pocket, fingertips closing on hard wood, he simultaneously kicked out, connecting with his captor's shin.

"Ow! Bloody hell, Neville!"

Neville froze, hand on his wand, and wheezed out, "Ron?"

"Well who bloody else were you expecting, you idiot?"

"Can't…breathe," Neville gasped out. He was starting to see spots, and considering the room was already pitch black, that didn't seem to bode well.

"Oh, sorry."

The arm at his throat was gone in an instant and he sucked in a lungful of air, choking a bit on the dust.

"Can't see, and you were squirming and all," Ron muttered. Suddenly Neville felt his robes being lifted over his head. They were halfway over his face, his arms still inside the sleeves and trussed in the material when Ron stopped, and Neville felt his pants being tugged down to his thighs. Ron was panting loudly, his breath hot and damp against the lower half of Neville's face. One of Ron's hands was holding the robes above Neville's head, and he was rather effectively bound, unable to move his arms, and consequently blindfolded. Blindfolded in an already-dark room, a thought which made him smile and ignore the slightly awkward position of his arms over his head.

He could feel Ron's hand brushing against his cock and tickling his belly as he fumbled one-handed below, and then Ron was crushing himself against him, driving his own bared cock into Neville's hip, rubbing right up alongside Neville's cock.

Neville groaned and leaned his head back against the wall. He tried to spread his legs a bit but his pants around his thighs wouldn't let him move very far, and he would have fallen over if Ron hadn't been holding him up with his own body. He could feel the bulge of Ron's bunched up robes, bulky and a bit itchy between their chests, and Ron's panting breaths were even closer now. They were both sweating in the small cramped space which seemed to help with the friction of their rubbing. Ron's cock jabbed into him hard a few times, but his own cock was rubbing against Ron's belly and through his damp pubic hair, and it felt so bloody marvellous, that he wouldn't have cared if Ron speared him through the navel.

This is what sex must be like, he thought, as he felt Ron press their foreheads and noses together, the two of them sweating and thrusting and groaning and panting, and soon he was coming and jerking, and he thought no more.

~*~

Neville couldn't recall a time when he'd been so content. Despite Umbridge and Snape and escaped Death Eaters and constant letters from his Gran nagging him about the approaching O.W.L. exams, he had the D.A. and he had his secret. That was until that awful day a week before Easter holidays when their Defence group was forced to disband when a fellow member betrayed them, and Professor Dumbledore was forced to leave the school completely. Neville had been depressed for days until Ron had grabbed him unawares yet again. He'd dragged him into an empty classroom, pressed him up against the wall face first, lifted his robes, yanked down his pants, and proceeded to rub himself off against the crease of Neville's arse while slipping his hand around to jerk Neville off.

Afterwards, they straightened their clothing, smiled awkwardly at each other and went about their business as usual. Neville was becoming exceedingly good at cleaning and ironing charms, had even mastered two different silencing charms, and was actually hopeful that he'd earn a passing grade on his Charms O.W.L.

Ron's moods continued to swing wildly, and Neville realized that Ron frequently sought him out before and especially after Quidditch practices. He never said anything to Ron, just let him come to him when Ron needed him. It felt good to be needed, after all.

He found that he almost missed the Twins after their Grand Exit. Their antics and pranks during the weeks before they'd gone had been a welcomed distraction. He could see that Ron was getting more and more tense as the date of the Quidditch Cup final approached, and could have used one. There were few times where Neville saw him outright laughing anymore. Not that he really had reason to complain – he was very much enjoying the side benefits of Ron's emotional turmoil. But Ron was also a friend, and the last thing he wanted was to take advantage of him.

He still wasn't quite sure how he felt about Ron, himself. He loved all the things they did together and didn't mind in the least that they were so secretive. When he listened to Dean and Seamus talk about girls, it was always about the size of their breasts, who had a nicer arse, who was pretty or not, and who was easy or prudish. When he heard girls talk about love and crushes, they always associated it with…with fireworks and feeling faint and holding hands and going on dates and boys buying them presents and flowers and spending all of their free time together….

He thought that might be rather suffocating, and while there were times he felt a bit faint and saw coloured spots behind his eyes – not really fireworks at all – that was usually while he was coming, or occasionally when he thought about the things he wanted to do with Ron. And he certainly didn't want Ron buying him presents or giving him flowers! That would be, well, weird. He was still far too shy to actually ask Ron what he thought about things, and since Ron never volunteered to talk about it, he let it lie. Besides, it wasn't really that important. They did talk of other things anyway, like friends do.

The evening before the Quidditch Cup final, Neville returned to the common room after dinner, but he was unable to concentrate on any of his homework assignments. It was Friday anyway, and he'd just make time over the weekend. Harry and Hermione were sitting in the chairs closest the fire, and Hermione looked to be scolding him, waving a journal of sorts in his face. Ron was at practice; their last one of the year and final one before the match tomorrow. He hadn't been to watch in a while, afraid people might get suspicious, but he supposed he could have written it off to a crush on one of the girls; Katie was pretty fit after all.

Still, he hadn't visited Ron in the changing rooms since that first time, and the way he was feeling now, kind of itchy like his skin didn't fit right or something, he decided to go outside. It was late spring and the days were getting progressively warmer as they got longer. If his walk took him past the pitch….

He didn't climb up into the stands, choosing instead to remain on ground level and partially hidden behind one of the stand towers. He only had to wait an hour before Angelina finally called an end to practice, calling the team in for a quick talk before foregoing the changing room herself and hurrying back up to the castle, Katie and Alicia trailing behind. The others followed, looking rather dejected, Neville thought, except for Ron who stormed off to the changing room alone. Ginny had watched him go, hesitating, but had turned to follow the others back to the castle instead.

Neville crept up to the door and let himself inside. Ron was lying fully dressed on one of the wide benches, one arm flung over his eyes. His face was flushed, from weather, exertion, anger or embarrassment, Neville didn't know, but in the muted light, the reddish brown leather of his glove looked as if it had bled onto his skin.

"Go'way, Ginny," he mumbled.

"It's not Ginny," Neville said, closing the door and walking over to Ron.

"Oh. S'you. I'm. M'not in the mood." His arm was still covering his eyes and he didn't bother looking up at Neville's approach.

Neville knelt down on the floor next to him and waited, hands on his lap.

"I said–"

"I know what you said," Neville interrupted, his voice soft. "The others have all gone back."

"Don't care. What are the chances of one of Hagrid's thestrals mauling me before breakfast?"

"Not too good. Well," he added, "not unless you scratched yourself up good and bloody, and lay naked out in the forest."

"Sounds good to me."

"Although, they might not actually eat you. Might just kind of lick you instead," Neville said, his cock beginning to take an interest in the conversation.

"Ugh."

"Dunno. That might be kinda nice."

"Being licked by thestrals?" Ron dropped his arm and raised his head. "God, Neville, you really are mental!"

"Not the thestral part. Just the licking bit."

"Huh? What? Oh. You want to…? Me?"

"Um, well, maybe. Yeah."

"But I haven't showered and I'm all sweaty. Bit disgusting, really."

Neville shrugged and sat up on his knees. "Then I'll stop."

Ron sat up on his elbows and looked at Neville, his expression unreadable. Neville stared back, trying to keep himself from trembling in his nervousness. Or perhaps it was excitement. Probably a combination of both, he thought. He reached out an unsteady hand and began tugging up Ron's robe. After a moment, Ron shook his head, his expression somewhat incredulous, and raised up so Neville could lift them more easily.

Suddenly, Ron sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bench, nearly kicking Neville. "Sorry," he said as Neville drew back and resettled himself. He grasped the hem of his robes and pulled them off over his head, throwing them to the side. He looked back at Neville and licked his lips. "Um…"

Neville reached over and unfastened Ron's trousers. Ron raised his arse, almost unconsciously, as Neville pulled both trousers and pants together down his legs. Ron's cock sprang upright upon release and Neville swallowed the lump in his throat and continued undressing him. He ran into a bit of trouble since he hadn't bothered to remove Ron's shoes first, but a bit of tugging did the trick, and he dropped the trousers and pants on the floor.

"I–"

"Shhh," Neville said, guiding Ron's knees apart and leaning forward a bit, hands on Ron's thighs. He stopped then, suddenly struck by what he was about to do. "Um, I've never, er."

"Me neither," Ron said, his voice sounding a bit strangled. His cock bobbed gently with each breath he took.

"Um, okay. So." Neville leant forward, stuck out his tongue and licked the inside of Ron's thigh right up to the crease in his groin. Ron yelped and jerked a bit. "What? Was that bad?" Neville asked, afraid he'd done something wrong.

"Tickled," Ron said, his voice a bit higher than usual. "Right." He cleared his throat. "Um, okay. You can…well, go on then!"

Neville's lip quirked upward in amusement and he ducked his head, feeling a little more confident knowing that Ron was apparently as nervous as he was. He leant forward again and licked on the other side, feeling Ron twitch, but he didn't yelp this time. Ron was indeed sweaty, the tang of salt heavy on Neville's tongue, but it wasn't bad at all. It was a familiar smell, one he'd become accustomed to over the past months, familiar and comforting and heady and very male. He pushed Ron's legs further apart and licked up the crease, ginger hairs tickling his cheek as Ron gasped and continued to twitch. His right leg was shaking under Neville's hand.

Neville pulled back a little bit, looking at Ron's cock. It looked bigger this close up, and suddenly he was worried he wasn't going to be able to do this properly. At least Ron didn't have anyone to compare him with. Determined to at least try, he leant forward and licked up the entire length. Ron let out a strangled cry.

"All right then?" Neville asked. Not hearing a reply, he glanced up and saw Ron fervently nodding his head, his jaw a bit slack. Emboldened, he licked again.

"Y-you don't h-have to– oh god! Do that again!" Ron cried as Neville covered the tip of Ron's cock with his mouth and sucked. Grabbing the base with his hand, Neville adjusted the angle a bit and continued to suck, licking when he could manage it as it was hard to do both at the same time. Ron didn't seem to care; he was too busy moaning and muttering incoherent profanities, leaning back on his hands. He'd starting moving his hips a bit, and when Neville gave a particularly hard suck, Ron thrust upward sharply and Neville choked, pulling back.

"S-sorry," Ron said. "Couldn't help it. Could you, could you maybe…almost…"

Neville bent his head again, this time pumping a bit more with his hand as he sucked on the tip, and Ron went back to chanting obscenities. His breathing and chanting became more and more rapid, and suddenly Ron's hand was on his head, tugging a bit on his hair and not quite pushing, but heavy nonetheless. Neville felt it under his fingers first, a tremor and a strange sort of soundless gurgle, and then Ron was coming. He pulled back, dislodging Ron's hand and choking a bit as he tried to swallow, but there was more than he was expecting and it was warm and bitter as well as salty. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and swallowed, glancing up shyly at Ron who was still breathing heavily but not as rapidly.

Ron stared at him, his expression once again unreadable and Neville started to get nervous again. Before he could think of anything to say, Ron had fairly lunged off the bench and was shoving Neville onto his back on the floor. He pushed up Neville's robes, bunching them under his chin, and tugged his pants off, and oh god, he was still wearing his gloves! The leather was smooth and warm and felt surprisingly soft, and Neville groaned as Ron tightened his grip. He spread his legs, and Ron was half-lying between them, one gloved hand fisting Neville's cock, the other tracing over his bollocks. Neville dug in his heels and thrust his hips into the air, the motion causing the hand on his bollocks to slip lower, brushing across his entrance.

Neville cried out at the touch, and Ron stopped suddenly. "Please," Neville whimpered. "Oh, please. A-again. More."

He heard a soft thump and then a wet smacking noise. He glanced down, but the bunched robes were in his way, and all he could see was the top of Ron's head. Suddenly Ron's wet finger, sans glove, was back against his entrance, and he moaned, wriggling and trying to press down against it. Ron pushed his finger inside and Neville cried out again.

"Was that wrong? Should– should I stop?" Ron asked, his voice hesitant.

"No, no, no," Neville chanted, lifting his hips and pushing down to emphasize his words. Ron pushed in a bit further and wiggled his finger and Neville gasped. Ron's finger inside him felt a bit strange, a little awkward, not exactly painful, but the rubbing against the sensitive skin of his entrance was like nothing he'd ever felt. Whatever it was it went straight to his cock, and he realized that the hand on his cock had not only stilled, but had vanished completely.

"Other. Hand." Neville gasped.

"Wha? Oh. Sorry," Ron said, and gripped Neville's cock with his still-gloved hand once more. The rhythms didn't match, but Neville didn't care. It was already the best wank he'd ever had and he hadn't even come yet. Ron's finger was still moving around slowly and surprisingly gently, in and out. As he pushed in one more time, Ron must have bent his finger a bit because Neville actually felt it touch something that he hadn't known was there. He cried out again, his body going completely still, and he was coming and coming and it was the most amazing thing he'd ever felt.

Neville lay there with his eyes closed, trying to calm his breathing. He felt completely boneless and the notion of sitting up was not something he wanted to contemplate just yet. He heard Ron fumbling around and muttering, and a moment later he felt the cool tingle of a sudsless cleaning charm. "All right there?" Ron asked.

Neville nodded, opened his eyes and reluctantly sat up. Ron tossed him his pants and the two of them dressed in silence, Ron foregoing his trousers and just throwing his robes on.

Ron sat down on the bench and looked at him. "You liked that," he said, and it wasn't a question.

"Yeah. It was…you touched something and I…." Neville shook his head. He had no idea how to explain it; he only knew that he had to find out what it was and try it again. Soon. "It was good. Really good."

Ron's smile was a bit lopsided. "So was, you know," he said gesturing toward his crotch. "That was really good, too." He looked down at his feet and bit his lip. Sobering and sighing rather dramatically, he flung himself backwards, lying down on the bench. "Oh, what's the use? I stuck my finger up another bloke's arse, and I let him suck me off. And I liked it!" He covered his face with his hands. "I'm turning into a poof, and I'm going to be completely humiliated in front of the entire school tomorrow. Might as well just get it over with and have you bugger me up the arse now."

Neville rolled his eyes and snorted.

"Did you just snort at me?" Ron asked, sitting up, his face scrunching in irritation as a red tinge slowly crept up his neck.

"Um, sort of, yeah," Neville said, then sat up a little straighter and looked Ron in the eye. "Yeah, I did."

Ron glared at him. "Some friend you are."

"I am your friend. Quit feeling so sorry for yourself. You know, for years you and Harry've been telling me I should stand up to gits like Malfoy, that I shouldn't let people push me around and bully me. And– and now what are you doing?"

"'M'not afraid of Malfoy!"

Neville shrugged. "Then prove it. I hate to say it, but c'mon, honestly. Your keeping has been, well…."

"Go ahead, say it. I'm shit."

"Well, I told you already that I think you could be really good, but you don't listen to me anyway. You've been doing this for months now." Neville took a deep breath before continuing. "Besides, it's not like you could possibly get any worse than you are now."

Neville closed his eyes and clenched his robes in his fists, flinching back and bracing for the fist he knew was coming. After what felt like thirty minutes with no impact, he cracked open one eye. Ron was staring at him open-mouthed. He opened both eyes and blinked. "Er, Ron?"

Ron leant forward, grabbed Neville by his head and kissed him full on the mouth. Well, it was sort of like kissing since there were lips and a bit of tongue involved, but it felt more like Ron was trying to suck his lips straight off his face. Still, it was nice, and he didn't complain when Ron released him several seconds later.

Ron stood up, grabbed the rest of his kit, and started off towards the door. He turned back to look at Neville, amused but clearly impatient. "Oi? You coming or what?"

Neville grinned and got to his feet, waiting until Ron turned around before wiping the lower half of his face with the back of his hand.

~*~

Neville sat with Dean and Seamus during the match, beaming with a sort of pride as Ron made save after save, despite his rocky start and the loud chorus from Malfoy and his fellow Slytherins. Harry and Hermione were nowhere to be found, though he knew they had come down to the pitch with the rest of them. Still, he wasn't too concerned about their whereabouts, and he was far too busy cheering and shouting. When Ginny nicked the snitch from right under Cho's nose, the roar of the crowd was deafening. Neville had already been standing, and he jumped up and down, pumping his fists while Dean grabbed him in a bear hug that almost knocked the wind out of him.

As the crowds spilled from the stands, the whole of Gryffindor rushed the field, and suddenly the chorus had changed its tune. Now it was Gryffindor singing and the Slytherins had all gone quiet and dejected. Ron was pulled from his broom and hoisted up onto someone's shoulders – several someones it would appear – and the look on his face…. Neville could only describe it as euphoric.

The crowd was so thick he couldn't get close, so he contented himself with jogging alongside on the outskirts, happily joining in the chorus. He looked up and saw Ron scanning the crowd rather urgently. Looking for Harry and Hermione, he thought.

But then Ron looked over in his direction and stopped his swivelling head. He stared right at Neville for several seconds and gave him the broadest smile – white teeth gleaming in a red, sweaty, dirt-smeared face – and a brief thumbs-up gesture before the crowd carried him off and out of the stadium, still cheering and singing.

Neville watched them go for a moment, his heart beating rapidly in his chest. A slow smile spread over his face until his grin was so wide it almost hurt. He broke into a run, rushing to catch up to his friends and join them for the party in the common room. After all, he had a lot to celebrate.