Summary: At the funeral of his parents, Neville finds something that makes him a little less scared.
Notes: Also previously posted on my ff.net profile under the same name.
They had expected it to happen when his mother was in bed with the flu, but they didn’t expect the same thing to happen to his father three months later. He didn’t know what had caused it--his grandmother didn’t even know. All Neville knew was how much he hated funerals, with all those people telling you how sorry they were. What was he supposed to say, thank you? There’s no comfortable response to that statement. And then those damned looks of pity. Neville swore that if he got one more look of pity that he’d hurt someone... or run away to some secluded place where no one could find him.
An aunt that Neville didn’t know put her bony hand on his shoulder, gave him that look, and said that she was sorry. He closed his eyes, counted to ten, and effectively broke himself from her grasp as he turned around. He ignored his grandmother’s scolding and left her side in favor of a large oak tree that provided ample protection from the rain. Neville leaned against the tree and buried his hands deep into the pockets of his coat. He supposed that there could be an upside to his parents being gone. He didn’t have to visit St. Mungo’s anymore, and it’s not like they had recognized him anyway.
Oh great, someone had spotted him. The person had a black sweatshirt and blue jeans on, his hands were also buried in his pockets, his hood up and his head down. Neville considered moving but the other person was standing in front of him before he knew it. He could tell now that the person was a male, by the way he stood and walked, and around his age by the clothes he wore.
The guy looked up and Neville found himself staring into bright green eyes.
“Harry! I haven’t seen you in a few weeks...” Harry shrugged and leaned against the tree, close enough to Neville that their shoulders touched. It comforted Neville, oddly enough.
“I’ve been around... as have you,”
“So why are you here?”
“Here as in next to you, or here as in at the funeral?”
“At the funeral,”
Harry shrugged again, “I don’t know, it sounded like a good idea,”
“Yeah, because going to the funeral of your dorm mate’s crazy father sounds like such a wonderful idea,” Neville mumbled sarcastically.
“You’re almost as sarcastic as Malfoy now... Have you been taking lessons?”
“Ha ha ha,” his sarcastic laugh held no enthusiasm. “No, I just don’t like this–”
“Yeah... I mean, they all look at me as if they expect me to break down into tears or start yelling or something! It’s not like I ever knew my parents or they knew me!”
“And the looks those people give you?” Harry asked. He seemed to be telling Neville the things that were bothering him rather than asking about them. Or purposely leading Neville into certain areas of conversation; areas that Neville didn’t want to talk about with anyone.
“Why do you keep doing that!”
“You keep asking me these questions like you know what I’m going through!” he exclaimed loudly before he realized what he was saying. Harry didn’t say anything and simply stared at Neville.
“I’m sorry, I forgot,” Neville mumbled, pink creeping into his cheeks from embarrassment and anger at himself. Harry was looking down at his shoes.
“I wish I could.”
Neville sighed dejectedly and slid to the ground, burying his face in his hands. If there was one thing Harry was sensitive about it was the deaths of those he had cared for, and Neville had gone and reminded him of it. Much to his surprise Harry sat down next to him, so close that their thighs were pressed together, but he wouldn’t look up.
“Gran, McGonagall and bunch of other adults have been trying to get me to talk since my mom’s death, and I really don’t want to tell them anything,”
“So you sit here talking about how much you don’t want to talk about it?” Neville looked at Harry and was rewarded with a small smile. So he hadn’t gotten on his bad side, that was good. Neville returned the smile before he looked away again.
“Now with my father dead they’ll never leave me alone,” he tried to hide it, but the lump in the back of his throat was too obvious as he spoke, and the tears in his eyes were spilling over without his permission.
Harry wrapped an arm around Neville’s shoulders and couldn’t help but use the opportunity to let his thoughts wander. He wouldn’t say that Neville had lost all weight and was now the finest thing that Hogwarts has ever seen. In all honesty, Neville was average. Dirty blonde hair that fell into his gray-blue eyes, skin that couldn’t decide if it was tan or not, and a small patch of sun freckles across the brim of his nose. He had lost most of his baby fat, but was still the kind of person that wasn’t fat and wasn’t skinny. Perfectly average and Harry had no problem with that. Harry himself seemed to be made of extremes and he didn’t think that he could get along with someone else made up like he was.
Harry whispered, “Do you want them to leave you alone?” Neville’s crying was getting worse, the tears flowing more freely, the lump in his throat suddenly harder to talk around.
“No,” he sobbed. “They j-just pressure me so much. I’m tired of people p- pressuring me!”
Harry gently pulled him closer, “Come here Neville,”
Neville was in such a state that he didn’t argue. He felt that he could trust Harry, because through all the years they had lived in the same room Harry had never pushed him and had always stood up for him. Neville’s whole body was shaking with these sobs that had stayed hidden since his mother’s death. Harry was running his fingers through Neville’s hair and his arm was around Neville a little tighter than it should’ve been for a young man comforting his friend, but it only seemed to comfort Neville more.
His sobs subsided, but Neville didn’t move. Actually, he curled up into Harry a little more to enjoy the peace that Harry’s warmth gave him just a little longer.
“I don’t pressure you, do I Neville?” Harry asked softly after he was sure that Neville had calmed down. Neville shook his head and sniffed.
“No... no, you don’t,” The next few minutes they were silent, not moving or talking, listening to the sounds of the rain falling around them and through the leaves of the trees, and the breathing of each other. “Gran won’t let me move out after we graduate,” Neville said suddenly.
“I don’t know... she seems to think that I won’t be able to live by myself and survive...”
“Do you think that she’d let you live with me?”
“You’d want me to?” Neville asked incredulously. “I’m practically a squib–” he was cut off when Harry moved away and cupped Neville’s jaw in his hands so that Neville had no choice but to look into the intense green eyes that were always hidden behind gold frames.
“You’re a squib, I love being famous, Ron’s going to have puppies next week, and last I heard Snape will be passing out candy and homework passes for the Easter holidays,”
“Way to overkill on the sarcasm Harry,”
“You know I don’t think you’re a squib, and the only people who do think that don’t care about you... So, what do you say? Want to get away from your Gran after school?” Harry’s eyes held a mischievous sparkle that Neville couldn’t help but agree to.
“Yeah?” Harry asked as if he didn’t think Neville would agree.
“Yes, I’ll live with you after school!” Neville’s jaw had been in Harry’s hands through the whole conversation until Harry hugged him excitedly, something very non-Harry-like. They pulled apart awkwardly shortly after Harry had hugged him, and sat in silence. The only sound breaking that silence was the rain falling around them and a word here or there from the priest a few yards away.
"Hey Neville, let's get out of here, this place is like a dementor convention," Neville looked past him at the people dressed in all black around a maple wood coffin.
"Looks like one too," he mumbled, smiling a little when Harry laughed.
Neville didn’t realize that his arm was still around Harry's waist and his other hand resting on his upper thigh until they were both standing up. He felt this strange sort of peace when he was around Harry. He would never receive pity from Harry because he knew was it was like to be in Neville's shoes.
Harry laced their fingers together and led Neville out into the rain, away from the funeral and through the wet tombstones. They were almost to the heavy iron gates when Neville stopped. He was walking hand-in-hand with his friend, who happened to be another boy by the name of Harry Potter, away from his father's funeral. Harry stopped when the pressure on his hand told him that Neville had stopped, and he turned to the other boy.
"Harry, what is this? What are we?" Neville whispered, almost afraid to ask the question. He was avoiding Harry's eyes because even though he was shorter than Neville, Harry always seemed to intimidate him. Harry walked as close to Neville as he could and raised his gaze by lifting Neville's chin with a finger.
"Anything you want us to be."
He didn’t know how long they stood in the freezing rain staring into each other's eyes, his hands on Harry's hips and Harry's hands resting on his chest, until Neville figured out what he wanted them to be.
He tossed his fears aside and moved forward to kiss Harry, only making contact after Harry's eyes had closed. Harry's lips were parted slightly against Neville's lips and when he left his part Harry breath a small puff of air into his mouth. Neville greedily breathed it in, feeling as if he was breathing in the very essence of Harry.
Besides that, Neville wouldn’t go as far as to say it was perfect; it was just him and Harry, two teenage boys, and their lips which met in an embrace that was almost as awkward as their limbs, and when they pulled apart all they seemed to be capable of doing was to stare in each other’s eyes again.
"Could we be that?" Neville whispered.
"I was hoping you'd say that," Harry said, his beautiful face lit up with a grin that reached his eyes.
He pecked Neville on the lips once, then twice, and they were walking again. To where Harry was leading him, Neville didn’t know, but he trusted Harry enough to know that he'd be taken somewhere he'd be comfortable. They walked with hands clasped out the iron gates away from the tears and black clothes, away from the coffin that held the man Neville had known only from stories, and away from his past.
And for some reason, Neville wasn’t scared.