Harry Potter and The Chance Meeting
Chapter Five: Neville
Coming home was always the best part of his day. Neville stepped out of the hearth with the ease that only came from lifelong practice. He handed his travelling cloak to Kami, the family House Elf, who immediately disappeared to where ever elves went when they were putting things away.
“Dad!” Nine year old Edgar ran to him from the table in the corner of the great room where the boy had been drawing.
“Hey Eddie,” Neville said as he ruffled the hair on his son’s head. “How was your day? Did you get in a good visit at the Weasleys?”
“Sure did Dad. No school today. Aunt Hermione had a visitor. Aunt Hermione and both mums were too busy with him to have class. Me and Nathan and Arthur got to play trucks all day.”
“Hmm.” All of his sons had loved the Muggle ‘truck’ toys that Hermione had routinely given them as gifts through their lives… Not for the first time Neville contemplated the fortune available to the first shop to carry Muggle toys for magical children… He would have to suggest that to George Weasley then next time they met. “Where are your Mums anyway?”
“They’re putting Nathan and Megan to bed,” Eddie said, immensely proud of his own recently earned 8pm bed time.
The big man pulled his wife into a hug. “Hello Sue.”
“Ew! Cut that out,” Edgar Longbottom said as he returned to his drawing.
“Hannah’s getting Nathan settled,” the redhead said. “Did Eddie tell you the news?”
“He said something about the Weasley’s having a visitor that kept you ladies from having classes today.” Neville sat down in his favorite chair, pulling Susan onto his lap, much to the disgust of his middle child.
“It was Harry.”
“Harry? Really? How was he?” Neville asked.
Susan stood, and pulled her husband to his feet, led him to the dining room where Kami had laid out the evening meal. “He looked… I don’t know… I guess, happy.”
“Good,” Neville said, pulling out her chair for her. Augusta Longbottom’s etiquette lessons still held firm in Neville’s mind.
“He’s settled in New York City, and he’s spending his time managing the Potter trust and what he called ‘pursuing his own interests’ though he didn’t stay what that might be.”
“Really? I’ve got some meetings coming up in New York in January… Maybe we could arrange a visit.”
“That’s my thrifty husband,” Hannah said entering the dining room. “Always willing to finance his pleasure with a little business.”
Neville rose and held Hannah’s chair for her. He was constantly surprised, even after all these years how these little things made the two women so happy, especially when he considered how fiercely independent they had been in school.
“Of course he wouldn’t be Harry is he hadn’t left a bit of chaos in his wake,” Susan noted.
“What did he do?”
“He bought his godson an insanely overpowered broom,” Hannah said, “and presented his gift in front of your son.”
“Oh Merlin, so I’m guessing Neville has been hinting that he should get one too?”
“’Hinting’ might be a bit of understatement,” Hannah laughed. “According to his letter Ted let him try it out and it seems that the broom is ‘wicked sick’.”
Neville considered that for a moment, reflecting that ‘wicked sick’ might have been a fairly accurate description of how he felt immediately following his first flying lesson at Hogwarts.. “Should I assume that something being wicked sick would be a good thing?”
Neville stood under the hot water spray feeling the day’s tension leaving his body, as well as the accumulated paper dust he had gathered during his day spent in the print room, checking the proofs as they came off the line. Even with magic, the dust got everywhere.
The evening’s talk of Harry had Neville reflecting on his life, the way that the return of a figure from one’s past will do.
Following Harry’s defeat of the Dark Lord, Neville found himself an adult with for the most part average qualifications and no real goals in life. For a while he considered trying to apprentice himself to a Master Herbologist, but the family business beckoned… limping along in the hands of place holder management since the passing of Neville’s grandfather most of a decade before.
Then, of course, there was Hannah. She and Neville had dated off and on through their last two years at Hogwarts and she had become the one true focus of his life. However Neville was honest enough with himself to admit that he wasn’t the focus of her life. Hannah loved Neville, she really did, but she was deeply devoted to her oldest friend and first love, Susan Bones.
That was why Neville was surprised when the Hannah and Susan were escorted into his suite by his Grandmother. Looking more pleased than she had a right to be Augusta left them alone. It seemed that the girls had a proposition for him.
Like Neville, Susan was the last of her line, and like Neville, she found herself under pressure from many sources to ensure the continuation of her family name. Bonding herself to Hannah, the love of her life was not even a possibility.
Susan and Neville had very similar problems. Susan needed to marry a man willing to allow his heirs to take her name. Neville needed a wife to provide the heirs to continue his own line. At first blush this seemed to make them incompatible.
Hannah had problems of her own. As the third daughter of a pureblood merchant and his Muggle born wife, she was a young woman with seemingly many opportunities, except that her chosen love was denied her due to Susan’s responsibility to her line. The recent war had almost completely destroyed her father’s business making it impossible for him to cover the dowry routinely demanded by suitors, and that was before one noticed the bloody swath the two purity wars of Voldemort had cut through the male population of Magical Britain. This alone would ensure that whatever man Hannah was likely to bond herself to would likely be either as old as her father or disturbingly younger than she was… or Neville.
Hannah’s problem with marrying Neville was that he would be moving in the same social circle as Susan, and Hannah didn’t know if she would be able to deal with seeing the love of her life only on social occasions.
From this came the plan that they presented to the scion of the Longbottom line. Neville would marry them both, first Susan to satisfy the need for pure blood propriety, then Hannah, as the ‘second wife’. Susan could keep her name and any of her children would further the Bones line, and Hannah would become the newest Lady Longbottom. This would allow both lines to continue unabated.
To say that Neville had been shocked by this proposal was something of an understatement. Though he was dimly aware of the ‘second wife’ option available to those of certain resources, he hadn’t ever in his wildest imaginings thought that he would ever find himself being offered such an opportunity.
It turned out that Hannah could be very persuasive. Very very persuasive. Susan made a most convincing argument as well, whispering in his ear while pressing against him in ways that made basic thought difficult.
Fundamentally Neville never stood a chance.
That only left convincing the families. Susan of course had no family left, outside of some cadet branches of the family that did not bear the Bones name. Augusta Longbottom seemed at first surprised that Neville was going along with the young witches plan, and then to Neville’s amazement fully supportive. Byron Abbott on the other hand was a hard sell. Neville met with the man seven times before he gave his permission.
Six months to the day that the two women came to him with their plan, Neville found himself standing before the surviving cream of the British Magical society holding Susan’s hand as their wedding photos were being taken.
In order for the plan to work, Neville and Susan had to prove themselves fruitful. As befitting their place in society, the Bones/Longbottom wedding was the social event of the year, with invitations to the ceremony were highly sought after. As pure bloods their union was held up as the first, best sign of the renewal of the British Wizarding Society, and both were instructed by the elders of their respective families’ (Augusta in Neville’s case, and a distant cousin of her Aunt Amelia in Susan’s) that they should remain coolly formal with each other, even in their bedroom. So they had both entered their bedroom on their wedding night and addressed each other in the stiff, formal, traditional way. Even what Augusta Longbottom called ‘the coupling’ was to be formal, constrained, over quickly, and never ever spoken of.
That first night together, being dutiful scions of their respective lines, Neville and Susan maintained their formal personas… for almost a minute, before they both broke into laughter.
In truth they spent that first night fully clothed just talking, for beyond their heritages, the only thing the new couple had in common was a deep abiding love for Hannah Abbott. The next morning when a bright eyed Hannah had appeared demanding details, they told her the truth.
And were immediately rewarded with a blond mass of fury the likes Neville hadn’t seen before outside of an irate Hermione Granger ripping into Ron Weasley for not studying the night before their NEWTs. Hannah had informed them both in no uncertain terms that she wasn’t going to risk her and her future children’s prospective happiness because certain people were too old fashioned, staid, and stupid to get naked and consummate their marriage sufficiently that her own would be legal. The blond force of nature pushed them both back into their bedroom and told them not to come out until Susan was pregnant, and that if necessary, she would stick them together at the crotches and leave for the weekend with their wands.
Nine months later Neville Edgar Bones was born, and Hannah was extraordinarily pleased with herself. Hannah moved in with them and three weeks later Neville Longbottom caused quite the stir in society when he took a second wife.
Shaking himself from his memories, Neville turned off the water and stepped from the shower into a steamy bathroom. There had been a time when he simply would have cast drying charms on himself, but Hannah had taught him the pleasures of a thick thirsty towel on his skin. He wrapped himself in a terrycloth robe, and still toweling his hair dry he exited his private bath entering his bed chamber.
When he lowered the towel he was pleasantly surprised to find a very naked Susan waiting on his bed. Even after being married to these two wonderful women for most of two decades he never really knew which of them would show up in his bed or when.
“Hello my husband.” She purred stretching on his bed.
“Hello wife.” He responded, staying in the stiff pureblood character that the pair had assumed for so short a time on their wedding night. It remained their private joke.
“Being reminded of Harry got you thinking of your glory days at Hogwarts?” The redheaded woman asked with a small smile on her lips.
“Actually,” Neville said sitting on the edge of the bed. “I was thinking of you, and how lucky I am.”
Susan’s smile grew and she took hold of the lapels of his robe, pulling him down on top of her. “Good answer.”
“Your 2 pm appointment Mr. Longbottom.”
Neville looked up from his desk, blinking owlishly. 2 pm? Had he worked through lunch again? He needed to get a tighter hold on his work habits. “Show them in Chastity,” he said quietly. “And could you arrange for some tea please?”
Hermione Weasley entered his office followed by Justin Finch-Fletchly. Hermione was carrying a small container that appeared to be of Muggle manufacture. “I brought you this,” she said placing the small white container in front of him. “From what Hannah tells me you rarely take the time to eat lunch at the office, she’s worried about you.”
“Please, sit down.” Neville said while examining the container trying to figure out how to open it and see what Hermione had brought him. The wizard turned the white package completely around twice, and then lifted it to look on the bottom much to Justin’s amusement.
“Oh for goodness sake Neville,” Hermione huffed as she reached across the desk and squeezed the tabs of the Styrofoam box allowing the lid to flop open. “Sometimes you remind me of Arthur Weasley, over thinking the simplest things just because they’re Muggle in origin.”
Neville grinned at her and then he examined the sandwich within the box. “Thank you Hermione. What is it?”
“It’s called a Rueben,” the bushy haired woman said impatiently. “Corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on Rye bread. It’s a bloody sandwich Neville, we’re here to talk about what could be the most important news of our lives and you’re worried about a sandwich?”
“Hey, you’re the one who brought it, and wrapped it in this puzzlebox thing. Besides, this is lunch, and there isn’t much in life more important than a good lunch.”
Justin stifled a chuckle, while opening his brief case and sliding a folder in front of his friend and colleague. “Here’s the offer from Warner Bros.”
Neville opened the cover of the folder with his left hand while lifting half the sandwich with his right. The pair in front of him saw his eyes widen when he came to the price the movie studio was willing to pay. “That’s a whole lot of zeros.” Then he idly took a bite of the sandwich. His expression took on a look of amazement and he pulled the half sandwich away from his mouth to stare at it reverently. “Sweet Merlin on a Bicycle! Where have you been all my life?”
“Neville!” Hermione growled threateningly.
“No, seriously, this is good. Did you bring any napkins?”
Hermione stood. “I’ll find some. Neville you’ve got to learn when to take things more seriously.”
The two men watched as the woman left the room.
“I don’t believe you get away with doing that to her.” Justin laughed. “If I tried it, she’d kill me.”
“She still sees sweet little harmless Neville from first year,” Neville said reaching into a desk drawer for a napkin on which to wipe his hands. “It has never occurred to either Hermione or Ron that I grew up a bit, so I abuse them whenever possible.” He took another bite of the sandwich in his hand. “It is a really good sandwich though. So, how much is this in real money?”
Justin mentioned the conversion to Galleons.
Neville whistled. “Well that should setup up the Weasley clan for a few generations.”
“Our businesses as well Nev.” Justin stood and went to the window of Neville’s office looking out over London. “You know, they day you brought Hermione’s manuscript to me may well turn out to be the luckiest day of my life.”
“Broadmore Books and I had the Wizarding world covered, Finch Publishing offered access to the Muggle market. Without your resources we wouldn’t be reaching the audience we are. As soon as I read Hermione’s history of Harry’s life I knew that I had a best seller on my hands.” Neville smiled. “I just wish the Statute of Secrecy didn’t keep me from giving that to you to publish. Then when Hermione approached me with the idea of dramatizing Harry’s life as a children’s story, I knew I’d found a source of gold. Honestly though until you came to me last year to tell me that the Muggles wanted to make a movie out of the books… I mean I’d never heard of such a thing, but the research you showed me… so much money. Now I’m just frightened of one thing.”
Hermione reentered the office with a tea towel in her hands. “That Harry finds out that Neville here is the one who hung ‘Duncan Blood’ on him in the series.” She eyed the napkin on Neville’s desk in front of him. “And I swear to god Neville, if you keep messing with me like this, I’m going to tell him.”
Neville raised his glass, “To Jean Kathleen Riley!”
“Here here” Ron Weasley agreed, raising his own glass. “And far more important that that imaginary lady, to the woman whose name is on the cheques Hermione Jane Weasley”
A murmur of agreement came from around the table of the private room of the restaurant, while Hermione blushed prettily. “Thank you Ron, for cutting to the heart of the matter. Now all I’ve got to do is finish the last two books of the story without it sounding too much like I’m just transcribing Harry’s life.”
“No worries there my Love.” Ron said from her side, “I was there with him through most of it, and I don’t recognize hardly anything in your books.” Ron suddenly noticed that the table had gone silent and everyone was looking at him. “What?” he asked.
“You read a book?” George asked incredulously.
“Without your lovely wife standing over you with a club?” Bill chimed in joining in on the fun. “I’m a bit surprised that Muscle-head can recognize a book that isn’t filled with Quidditch strategies.”
“Oi! What is this? Pick on Ron day?” The youngest male Weasley huffed.
“When have we ever needed a special day for that?” Ginny asked sweetly.
“As much fun as abusing Ron is,” Hermione said coming, not for the first time, to her husband’s rescue, “I’ve gotten a letter from Harry.”
“Bloody hell, why didn’t you tell me?” Ron yelped.
“Because it was addressed to me Ron.”
“Well, are you going to read it to us or not?” Ginny demanded.
Hermione smiled, and put her glasses on and began to read.
First of all, I have to say congratulations for the success with our story. I’ve gotten hold of copies of the first four of the series (as far as the fifth book, The Thunderbird’s Faction, goes, I’m thirty four years old now, I’m not standing in a queue made up of teenagers and younger children at midnight to buy a bloody book. I’m waiting a few days for the furor to die down before I pick up my copy.)
I’ve actually finished The Seer’s Talisman, and I must say it’s a ripping good yarn, though if your Duncan is really based on me, I don’t remember being quite so whiny first year, but there you go. I’m currently up to the third chapter of The Void of Mysteries, with The Captive of Sylt, and The Vessel of Power all on my bedside table waiting their turn. So far the second book is a page turner, and I’m really surprised that I can’t wait to find out how it ends.
How it ends, how sad is that? I guess that it’s a tribute to your skill as a writer that I’m wondering how it ends, despite knowing fully well how it ends.
Anyway when I finished ‘Talisman’ I was on an international flight and had most of five hours to think about your novel and it occurred to me that we never really finished our conversation about your stories when I visited. When we were interrupted by the arrival of Susan and Hannah, we were discussing how you were beginning to feel guilty over how you were profiting by telling the stories of my life.
Having now read your first story and being engrossed in the second, I believe I can assure you that you aren’t telling stories about my life in the slightest. Your Dimsdales are abusive asses who are almost certainly criminal in their treatment of Duncan. My Dursleys were loveless authoritarians, but they certainly didn’t abuse me nor did they starve me. Ron and the twins did rip bars off my window before second year, but only because they never gave me a chance to open the security enclosure that Vernon had installed the previous winter when the house was robbed. I wasn’t locked in, nor was I fed through a cat flap.
Honestly, when I read that I had to stop and wonder where it had come from. Then I remember what Ron told his Mum to excuse the ‘borrowing’ of Mr. Weasley’s car. I’m guessing that the retelling of that story had somehow mutated a bit with each retelling. My cousin Dudley could be an ass on occasion, but then as you well know, so could I. More often than not, it was Dud and me against the world, as he was subject to the same rules that I was, and we shared the work load around the house. I’m really not all that sure how a complete waste of flesh such as your Dwight Dimsdale could possibly survive long enough to become the ‘pig with a wig’ that you write about.
I rarely spoke of my home life, because, well, I hated it there. So did Dudley. We both lived for the day that we would leave for the school year, and Dudley hated that he was home a week before I was each year, so that he bore the brunt of Vernon’s rules and regulations for that week before I returned home. He never blamed me for the summers I got out early, but he suffered for my leaving.
I have to tell you, Dudley is a bit put out with you. He and his family came to visit and his seven year old daughter is a huge fan of your series. Dudley evidently reads your stories to young Missy at bedtime. When he spotted the books in our home he teased me about reading ‘children’s literature’, so I told him that the series was being written by an old friend and that he was the inspiration for Dwight. His immediate reaction was to proclaim to the heavens that ‘none of that ever happened!’ and then, after a bit of reflection asked if he had ever actually been that bad.
I assured him that he hadn’t. That seemed to make him feel better. Sending Missy Dursley an autographed set of your books would likely go a long way toward healing that hurt. Oh by the way, Missy exhibited a bit of accidental magic while visiting. Yet another red haired green eyed witch from the Evans line.
Why am I telling you this? To show that the adventures in your stories are your own creation grafted onto the basic framework of our adventures at school. That’s all. You aren’t ‘stealing’ my story so you can quit worrying about it. Take that portion of your proceeds from your books that you told me you have set aside as my ‘share’ and add it to your family’s vaults, if not that then start a trust for orphans in Sirius’ name. You owe me nothing Hermione, really you don’t. (Though an autographed set of the books with a special dedication to me wouldn’t go amiss. Hint hint.)
Tracey just walked through the room ranting about some idiot artist or other who wants to knock down one of the load bearing walls of her gallery to display his latest kinetic sculpture in an ‘organic environment’ what ever that means. Evidently being a talented artist requires being dropped on the head repeatedly according to my gentle and loving wife. She says Hi and that she never in her wildest imagination thought you would be a writer of fiction. She told me to add a hearty well done for defying expectations.
“Wait.” Ginny interrupted. “Tracey? Who’s Tracey?”
“Oh, his wife.” Hermione explained.
“Harry’s married?” The redhead asked as if the idea pained her.
“He is.” Bill Weasley confirmed. “It’s been more than fifteen years flame top. You had to expect that.”
“I know, I guess I did, but I’d hoped…”
“Wait a tic,” Ron interjected. “Tracey? Tracey Davis? Harry married a bloody Slytherin?”
“Ronald.” Fleur spoke for the first time since Hermione began reading from Harry’s letter. “I love you like the brother I never had, but you need to grow up. Harry spent the night at our home when he visited Hogwarts, and we had a long conversation. For the first time in his life he is happy. If you are truly his friend, you need to be happy for him.”
“Yeah, but…” Ron hesitated, stealing a glance toward Ginny. “But a Slytherin?”
“There’s more to the letter.” Hermione said, gaining the attention of the group again.
Between Tracey’s gallery and my obligations, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get back to the UK again. I do know that when I do come back it will be for a longer visit than the two days I managed last time, and I’m bringing Tracey with me, if for no other reason than to dispel that silly idea that she’s been kidnapped I heard floating around.
That being said, I can’t think of any reason that a world famous author and an international level Quidditch coach (even if he does work for the Cannons) could manage a trip out with their kids over the summer… Say July 15th through August 15th when my Godson is going to be visiting and we’re going to be doing the tourist things for instance… If you could convince the rest of the Weasleys, and the Longbottoms to come along as well, which would just be gravy. I happen to know that a certain hotel will be holding rooms in those names… Just a thought.
Again, Hermione, congratulations on your success, looking forward to hearing from you and the rest of the family.
P.S. cough~autographed copies~cough
What’s wrong Nev?” Hannah asked as she wrapped her arms around her husband’s waist.
Neville continued to stare out the window of the Master Suite onto the grounds at the rear of Longbottom Hall. He still believed that the view from his old suite was better, and somehow that didn’t seem fair. He hoped that his eldest appreciated what he had. Probably not, Neville hadn’t when it was his.
“Well that clears up my confusion.” The blonde said, slipping her hand inside her husband’s dressing gown.
“Yeah, that’s me Mr. Clarity. Mostly I’m hoping that Harry meant what he said in his letter about not caring about the money or the story. I’d hate to think we’re hurting him in any way.”
“The Harry I remember was nothing if not blunt. If what was happening bothered him, he never would have written Hermione, he’d have suffered silently. It would have been Tracey we would have had to worry about” She nuzzled into his neck. “The fact that Harry wrote to congratulate Hermione tells me that he’s more than ok with it. He supports her, and by extension you all the way.”
“How am I supposed to be all emotional and pathetic when you are nibbling on my neck like that?”
“You’re not. Come to bed. Let’s see if we can’t make another Longbottom.”
“Oh, bloody hell. You make the best arguments.” He turned and took her into his arms.
Yet Another Interlude
A fourteen hour flight was hell, no doubt about it, even in first class. It was so very good to be back on the ground.
Harry Potter collected his bag off the turnstile and patiently stood in line for the Customs inspections. The agent at the end of his line was pretty good. He processed through everything in Harry’s two bags in less than three minutes, immediately noting the two green with silver trim silk robes still in their packaging, and verifying their inclusion on Harry’s Customs Declaration forms.
“Different sizes Mr. Potter?” The agent asked.
“My wife and her girl friend.” Harry explained earning himself a wide grin from the Agent who seemed for some reason to think that Harry was joking. Harry cheerfully paid the duty on his souvenirs, retrieved his passport and green card (which for no reason Harry had ever managed to understand was most specifically not green) and exited the customs area of JFK Airport.
He was mildly disappointed that Tracey wasn’t there. It wasn’t really that big a deal, catching a cab home was easy enough, but after three months of nothing but phone calls he had been looking forward to enjoying the return to the city with Tracey sharing the ride. That was when he spotted the uniformed chauffeur holding the sign that read ‘POTTER’.
“I’m Harry Potter.”
“Welcome home Sir. Mrs. Potter asked that I pick you up.” The man said taking Harry’s bag. “This way sir.”
This was odd. Tracey usually just met him at the Airport unless she was busy at her gallery, when she let him take a cab home. She had never sent a car for him before. Harry followed the driver to the area set aside for hired cars. A stretch Limo? Why had she sent a limousine to pick him up? The driver opened the rearmost door on the driver’s side so that Harry could enter.
“If you don’t mind my saying sir, you’re a lucky man.”
Harry blinked. “Thanks, I guess.” Harry was wondering what the hell was going on as he ducked into the back of the car.
A wide grin moved across Harry’s lips. “Tracey!” He reached for her hand. “What’s all this? Why didn’t you come in?”
Tracey shrugged out of the dark overcoat that she was wearing to reveal a blood red teddie. “I had a very good week at the gallery, and I wanted to celebrate. Luckily for you, you came home tonight, so we can celebrate together.”
“That’s the old Potter Luck in play there.” Harry agreed as his wife pulled at his belt. “I missed you.”
Tracey pulled his trousers down straddled him, and brought her lips to within a fraction of an inch of his own. “Show me.”