Neville lets Ginny know his feelings in a letter and Ron gets his Christmas presents.
Neville Longbottom frowned at the parchment in front of him. He pushed away from his desk and got to his feet. He walked over to his bed and picked up a small rubber ball off his nightstand and rolled it between his hands.
He stayed over the Holiday mostly to keep Harry company; his plants as well. The ones that couldn't have survived his absence could likely survive the transit or at least Harry's care for a few days; however Neville didn't want Harry roaming the school all alone on Christmas.
He might not have been as close to Harry as Ron, certainly not as close as Hermione but Harry had always looked out for him. He'd never picked on Neville, even when the other Gryffindors were engaging in friendly teasing. He'd stood up to Malfoy on Neville's behalf during first year, and many times since.
Now, Neville was further indebted to Harry after the other wizard had helped him to get a date with Ginny Weasley. He'd confided in Harry on the train ride this year that he'd been excited to see Ginny and he'd fancied the younger Gryfinndor since late in their third year.
Most of the other guys he was friends with at Hogwarts would have either teased him or told the entire school about his crush to embarrass him, or perhaps tell her older brother, who happened to be Harry's best friend, and earn Neville a vicious beating. Harry merely smiled and nodded, seemingly letting the conversation pass by.
Then last month Harry and Hermione had invited Neville to come with them on a Hogsmeade weekend, Ron had suffered a broken ankle at Quidditch practice the day before and was held up with Madam Pomfrey for the weekend. When they'd arrived at the Three Broomsticks, he'd been shocked to find Ginny waiting for them.
Unfortunately for him at the time, Harry and Hermione soon disappeared. His palms had never been so coated in sweat in his life as they were when Harry practically slammed him down into the booth and said with a grin, "I'm sorry you two, but Hermione's been twisting my arm to take her over to Dervish and Banges." Harry then slapped him on the shoulder and said, "Neville, Ginny, Cheers." Then they were gone.
Once she'd gotten Neville to calm down he'd had a lot of fun, and so did Ginny it would seem. They'd had lunch and then tea before she dragged him to Honeydukes. She even took him to the Shrieking Shack and tried to dare him to go in. He'd made it three steps past the fence before cringing.
When they returned to the common room, it was with Ginny's arms wrapped around his right arm. She thanked him for the afternoon then called him charming before kissing his cheek. He stood out in the hall blushing until the Fat Lady finally shooed him inside.
Seamus and Dean made fun of his silly grin for a week.
Admittedly, he was very new at the whole "Boyfriend" thing. He understood there was more to it than snogging and holding hands, but only in a vague sense. Seamus and Dean had walked him through some of the ins-and-outs. He had planned to ask Harry or Ron but Seamus had laughed and said that they would be very little help.
They told him to do things like; listen to her (which he was happy to do) to sit next to her at meals, and ask her how her day went. With help, he'd seemed to be getting the hang of it.
That is, until it came time to buy her a Christmas gift. This was something Seamus and Dean couldn't help with as neither of them had dated seriously enough to buy a Christmas present. They did something horrible to him; they sent him to Parvati and Lavender.
The result was a hellish Saturday Afternoon in Hogsmeade where the pair had dragged him through every shop in town, spending the whole time giggling at him and telling him that all his ideas were catastrophically wrong. "You can't get her Quidditch equipment Neville, she's your girlfriend!" "Honestly Neville, what kind of boyfriend gets school supplies for his girlfriend?" "Put the book down Neville!"
They'd finally had mercy on him and picked out a bracelet that was as pretty as it was expensive. They'd given him very clear instructions as well; don't give it to her before she left. He was to send it to her by Owl with a note that told Ginny very clearly how he felt.
He sighed and returned to his desk then sat down. He picked up the note from the piles of crumpled parchments around it. This was his tenth attempt to put his feelings into words and the tenth try seemed as feeble as the first nine. He sighed and set the note aside.
"I am such a ponce." Harry's owl, Hedwig squawked from her cage near the window at him. He turned and regarded the owl with a frown, "You agree, don't you?" The bird tilted her head at him silently. With a sigh, he turned back to the note he'd written.
Reading the tripe that he'd written he wondered, not for the first time, what Ginny saw in him.
He crumpled the parchment and cast it aside. Hedwig hooted at him again and he turned to the bird. The snowy owl just looked at him and flapped her wings. "What do you suggest?" It was too bad that Hedwig couldn't talk; he could have used some advice.
What kind of Gryffindor was he when he couldn't even muster the courage to write to his girlfriend on Christmas? Finally he came to a decision. He'd write what he felt and if it wasn't great, he wouldn't care, as long as it was true.
Picking up a new piece and loading up his quill he put ink to paper. He would tell her everything:
He told her about his parents and how much it hurt for them not to recognize him.
He told her how much it hurt to know that Harry's fate could have easily been his.
How much the friendships he'd made here meant to him.
How much she meant to him.
How he felt when she touched his cheek, or hugged him. How his breath would stutter when she took his hand in the hallway or that time she sat in his lap in the common room. How every time she kissed him he blushed, even a month later because he was so in awe of her...
He realized after a while that once the words started, he had a hard time stopping them. He didn't dare stop or re-read what he wrote either. The freedom he felt might go away and he'd never gather the courage to send the note.
Finally he managed to bring his gushing to a close and he signed the letter with. "All my Love and Admiration, Neville."
He set the quill down and tied the parchment around the bracelet box, still not daring to read the letter. He stood up and stretched, confessing one's feelings tended to cause a sore shoulder and a cramped writing hand.
He heard Hermione's laughter down in the common room and turned to Hedwig. His grandmother still had their owl and he didn't want to go across campus to use one of the school's. He walked out of the sixth year's dorms and made his way down the steps.
He could hear them talking as he approached; "Harry?" Hermione sound a lot like she had come down with a cold of some sort.
Harry's voice was just as heavy, "Yes?"
"Say it again." There was a silence of some sort as he reached the base of the stairs. What was happening?
He got the answer as he turned towards the girl's staircase, they were whispering in a very tight embrace... He suddenly felt like a first-class jackass for just coming down the steps and gawking at a private moment. He felt his face burn as he stuttered, "Oh..." They both froze and turned to him with wide eyes. "I-I just... Well I..." He suddenly found the edge of the rug far more interesting. Anything was better then staring.
He heard Harry clear his throat and say. "It's alright Neville, no harm done."
He looked up and saw Harry smiling at him. Neville felt his face burn again and he grinned awkwardly. Most guys would be ready to kill if they were interrupted at a time like this. In fact he'd caught Dean on the Train ride from Hogwarts last year with Susan Bones and the larger Gryffindor threatened to pound him into the floor if he didn't leave quickly. Dean later said he was sorry, but it was what he'd expect out of any red-blooded sixteen year-old.
He waved his hands impotently and stammered; "I'm s-sorry. I just wanted to b-borrow... Borrow Hedwig. T-tto send Ginny her..."
Harry nodded encouragingly, "Christmas Present?" He nodded dumbly and Harry waved him off, "Go ahead Neville."
He gave Harry a relieved smile and said, "Thanks." He turned towards the stairs but paused. He turned slightly and looked towards the pair, "Happy Christmas, Harry... and Hermione too." He blushed anew as he said her name.
The dark haired boy smiled gently, "Happy Christmas, Neville."
Neville turned and ran up the steps, coming to a stop by his desk. When he had a chance to finally relax he found the scene rather funny. What would the others say when they found out? Harry had been following Hermione like a puppy since the end of fifth year and most of the school was sure that if he and Ron didn't kill each other that one of the pair would eventually capture the affections of the bookish Gryffindor Prefect.
He laughed as he realized Seamus owed him five Galleons. The Irish wizard was sure that Ron would eventually regain enough courage to land Hermione. "Shows how much he knows." Hedwig looked at him strangely, as if annoyed that he was talking to himself, or more likely, interrupting her nap.
He picked up Ginny's package and paused. With a grin, he opened the parchment and quickly added to his letter in a Post Signing. Sure it might mean he was whipped, but Ginny would be dying to know something like this.
He re-wrapped the note around the box then crossed the room and opened the window. He turned to Hedwig and said, "Would you please take this to Ginny at the Burrow?" Hedwig hooted obligingly and took the package before swooping out of the window.
He turned around and left the dorm again. He called out to the pair as he was about to enter the common room, "Harry? Hermione? I was wondering if you might want to have..." He entered the empty room and sighed, "Lunch." He shrugged and walked out of the common room bound for the Great Hall.
If asked to define his vision of Hell on Earth; Draco Malfoy might think of no place better (or worse) than the Burrow on Christmas Eve, as it was now the World Capital of Weasleys. Five Generations crowded the house, packing every corner; Mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, sisters, brothers and cousins from six to one hundred and six (Great Grandmother Weasley) and everywhere in between.
The sheer amount of Red-hair would probably be enough to send the pale Slytherin screaming for the hills or even give him a stroke. Ron Weasley grinned at the thought; he'd definitely take option number two.
He looked around the living room, his father was in an animated discussion with their Uncle Timothy about a Muggle Pub Game he'd seen in London called "Darts" while his mother was shooing his younger cousins away from Errol who was flopped over in the corner by the clock. Charlie was talking Bill's girlfriend, Fleur's ear off about the Dragons he was working with while playing a game of Wizard's Chess with Bill.
Meanwhile Fred and George were sitting on the couch splitting time between picking on Ginny and speaking with their dates (Fred had brought Angelina while George was sending rather disturbing glances towards Katie Bell.) Even Percy was here, though he and his fiancÃ©e, Penelope Clearwater were looking rather uncomfortable in the corner of the room. It must have been hard for Percy to swallow his pride and come here after the last year.
Ron took a deep breath and settled into his chair happily. It felt so good to be home, surrounded by his family. He complained about them, he sighed, he complained about everything sometimes and sometimes he wondered how anyone put up with it. He'd realized that on his date with Hermione a few weeks ago. He'd been so tense that he took a few drinks from Seamus' flask of Ogden's and as the liquor took hold he'd found himself slipping into familiar patterns. He started complaining to and about Hermione until his friend finally sighed and turned to Lavender, effectively ignoring him.
As a result he downed the rest of Seamus' firewhiskey. The rest of the day was blackness.
After he suffered through a rather awful hangover, he came to three conclusions. First, drinking and dating don't mix. Second, his chances of being Hermione's boyfriend had probably gone up in smoke and third, he needed to lighten up sometimes.
Which brought him here and now, instead of staying with Harry and bitching his ear off about the Weasley Christmas Gathering, he trusted his friend in Hermione's care and came. Harry had sent him a letter yesterday, wishing him and the rest of the family a Happy Christmas. He sent Ron a new set of Quidditch gloves he also sent a muggle-style shirt with "Property of the Chudley Canons" on the chest (From Hermione.)
Harry also wrote that he appreciated Ron staying with him over the years, which suggested Hermione had told Harry about their conversation. After all, it was just something he and Harry left unsaid, like the fact that Ron used Harry's habit of talking in his sleep to find his father's invisibility cloak. Well, not quite the same as that, because he felt good hearing Harry's admission and Harry would likely hex his hands off.
He looked up when he heard Charlie cry out, "Oh Bloody Hell!"
Bill was smirking at his brother from the Chessboard, "It's not my fault you don't know chess, Charlie." His older brother grumbled while Bill reset the board, "Oi, Ron!"
Ron stood up and crossed the living room. As he did, Fred and George smirked from the couch and said in unison, "Uh-oh Ickle Ronikins is off to face his Brother."
His mother called out from the kitchen, "Fred, George, leave Ronald alone!" He winced; he'll pay for that later. He could practically hear Fred and George's shared brain working out ways for him to pay for her fighting his battles for him. She breezed into the room and smiled down at her youngest son, "Here Ronald, have some Eggnog dear." She handed him the glass and patted his cheek affectionately. It seemed that after five years of not coming home, this year meant a lot to her.
As quickly as his mother had appeared, she flitted off to check on the fifteenth pie she'd made today. He felt Charlie clap Ron's shoulder and heard a splosh sound in front of him. He looked to see Charlie pour something into his cup. He turned to his older brother, who winked and said. "Trust me Ron; it makes the sting of defeat a little easier."
Bill and Fleur laughed and Bill moved one of his pawns. "You never know Charlie, Fred tells me that Ron is the reigning Gryffindor Chess Champion."
Ron smirked as he moved one of his own pawns, "That's five and a half years running." He took a sip from his cup and suppressed a grimace. The taste of Ogden's nearly overpowered the eggnog.
Bill grinned at his youngest brother, "Well, with competition like Harry and Neville, I should hope so." He then moved one of his knights.
Ron looked the board over as he tried to form a strategy. Movement at the window caught his eye and he watched Hedwig swoop in the window carrying a package. He was about to remark on Harry's Bird returning to the Burrow when it flew past him and dropped the package into Ginny's lap before perching on the arm of the sofa in front of Katie and George. Katie smiled and gently stroked the snowy owl's feathers.
Fred turned from Angelina to watch Ginny turn the package over in her fingers. As she unwrapped the parchment he asked, "What did Harry send you?" She opened the small jewelry box and blushed at the sight of the gold bracelet within.
It was a simple gold chain with a single emerald set in the middle. She reached in and gently removed it, her fingers nearly trembling. Angelina leaned forward and helped her put it on while Ron stammered. As she picked up the note Ron managed to say, "Bloody Hell, Harry sent you that!" Ginny ignored him as she was reading the parchment, an ecstatic smile on her face and tears brimming in her eyes.
Upon seeing those tears, Ron immediately forgot the Chess board in favor of learning who had made his sister cry and killing them. He stood over her, "Ginny! Why are you..."
She giggled and said, "Oh my goodness..." She read another line, "Oh Neville..." Ron had heard all he needed to know, he'd tolerated Neville... putting his hands on his baby sister, but he wouldn't let Longbottom make her cry.
He was already plotting Neville's death when a wicked gleam bloomed in Fred and George's eyes. Fred snatched the Parchment from her and leapt from the couch while George got into Ginny's way. Fred read the note while the gleam in his eyes spread like a virus to his lips where it took the form of a wicked grin, "Sweet Merlin!"
Ginny tried to snatch the note but George was doing well in his effort to run interference. Fred smirked and cleared his throat, "'My Dearest Ginny-'"
"Don't you dare, Fred!"
"'The words I can conjure fail to do your beauty justice...' 'Your smile is enough to make me weak...' Oh, who knew Neville had this in him? 'Just holding your hand is a joy...' This is bloody fantastic."
Ginny's face was somewhere between scarlet and purple as she tried to lunge past her brother. Ron noticed that Bill and Charlie were content to watch the scene unfold while Percy frowned at his younger brothers. As for himself, it took a moment for the unreasonable rage boiling in him to pass but as it did he started to see the humor that can only come from embarrassing his baby sister.
Fred turned to Ron with tears of mirth slipping down his cheeks and he said, "Dear Merlin Ron, did you know you had a prancing little girl for a roommate?"
Ron took another drink from his glass to hide his smirk. After he swallowed he managed to croak out around the whiskey-face, "I'll have you not talk about Harry like that."
"FRED, I swear-"
The twin merely returned to reciting the letter, "'I blush at your kiss not from embarrassment but from awe, as I cannot believe you would care for me like I do for you.'"
He paused when Katie called out, "Actually that is rather sweet, I didn't think Neville was such a romantic." Angelina and Fleur nodded in agreement.
The twins shrugged before Fred continued, "'All my Love and Admiration, Neville.'" His eyes grew wide and he smirked, "'Post Signing, I thought you might want to know that I caught Harry and Hermione sn-' OW!" Fred dropped the parchment reacting at the searing pain in his left earlobe while George doubled over and clutched his stomach where Ginny's fist had landed.
Their mother's shrill voice caught his attention, "Fred Weasley! How many times have I told you to leave Ginny alone?"
She released Fred's ear and turned her attention to the bracelet Neville had sent Ginny, "Oh my... It's beautiful Ginny."
The youngest Weasley blushed.
Ron had seen Lavender and Parvati enough in the common room to tell when squealing girl-talk was coming. He walked back his chair and returned his attention to the chess board when his father entered the room with a puzzled expression. "Ron?"
He looked up, "Yes?"
Arthur Weasley frowned slightly, "There's a young..." He cleared his throat slightly, "lady here to see you."
Ron stood from his chair and shrugged apologetically to Bill, he also tried to ignore the cat-calls that came from Bill Fred and George. He considered telling them to shut their mouths but years of living in the Burrow had taught his one thing above all others; telling a Weasley to shut up was pointless.
He walked into the kitchen and found his visitor facing away from him inspecting Errol's seemingly lifeless form. Her long winter coat obscured most of her form but years of Hogwarts robes had given every Male student a unique form of magic. It didn't matter how bulky a girl's clothing was or how much there was, after six years of knee-highs, jumpers and floor length robes a Hogwarts boy could determine how pleasing any girl's form was to the eye.
He could tell very easily that this girl would have a rather nice backside, probably pretty nice legs as well. He really hoped she wasn't some lost cousin, 'cause the first thought in his head as she stood up was...
His mind blanked at the long blonde hair twisted into a bun and the unmistakable glint of bottle-caps hanging from her ears. He felt a confused frown furrowing his brow. "Luna."
She turned at the sound of her name and looked right into... well not right into his eyes as it seemed like she was looking right through him into his soul. "Ronald." She smiled at him strangely and stepped forward. Ron took notice of her clothing and was surprised when a voice in his head remarked how flattering it was to her figure.
It wasn't a sexy dress, not like the dresses he fantasized about girls wearing; it was similar to a school uniform. A tasteful skirt, dark sweater and matching shoes, however it fit her form and Ron found his eyes being drawn a little south of her piercing gaze. 'Who knew Luna had so much to offer?' He heard a sleazy voice in the back of his head say. It was the same voice that whooped that time he caught a peek of Parvati's knickers in Trelawney's class last month.
She tilted her head at him and reached out to push a lock of hair away from his brow, "Troubling thoughts Ronald?" Her fingers were gliding over the creases on his forehead with care.
He stammered for a moment before he heard his mother's voice, "Luna, how are you dear?"
Luna turned and smiled, "Hello Mrs. Weasley, I'm fine. I came here to give Ronald his Christmas presents." At the word 'presents,' Ron noticed the box under her arm and worried slightly at the sight of a small clawed, paw sticking out though an air-hole.
Molly smiled, "Well then, I'll make you two some hot chocolate and you two can talk out on the porch." She turned and yelled into the living room, "Arthur, be a dear and bring Ronald his coat."
A moment later his father came in with his coat, his mother took it and began to simultaneous shove Ron's arms into his coat and push him towards the door, "Mum! Mum, wait, it's cold!"
She pulled the door open and pushed him out, Luna followed under her own power, "That's what the coat is for." He watched his mother's eyes mist over as she looked between. "You two are just adorable." The front door was then shut in his face.
He turned around and found Luna staring at him with wide pale eyes. He could hear her humming that blasted song under her breath. He'd find whoever wrote "Weasley is Our King" one day and that day would be their last. She stopped humming and took a seat on the small bench near the door.
She grinned at him and patted the spot beside her, "Come Ronald." He blushed, something about the way she said his name was... 'No!' He clamped down on his thoughts. He wasn't going to think about a girl his sister's age erotically, no matter how much the two points in her sweater tried to convince him to. 'It's just so bloody cold here Weasley get that brain out of the gutter!'
She raised an eyebrow at him, "Ronald, if you don't stop arguing with yourself you'll end up mad."
His jaw went slack, "How do you do that?"
Her eyes twinkled and she patted the spot beside her. His feet betrayed him and he lumbered over to her and sat down. She patted his knee before resting her hands on the box she held, "Your face is like a book Ronald, a wonderfully written book." He felt his cheeks flush bashfully at her praise, "You just have to know where to start reading."
He couldn't reply right away, he was thrown by her adoring gaze. It was a little known secret that he'd been seeking out Luna lately. It was the way she looked at him, it made him feel important, like he was more than Harry's comic relief. She would tell him about Nargles and Crumple-horned Snorkack and striped whatsits for hours, all the while she would just look at him like he was the most amazing thing she'd ever seen.
He wasn't terribly proud of it, he was pretty sure he was taking advantage of her affections and that wasn't fair to her. She reached out and pushed his hair away from his eyes. He blushed, "Why are you so nice to me, Luna? I treat you terribly."
She smiled, "I saw your heart Ronald, it cried out for me on the train that day and I couldn't help but to look for it. I loved you then, love is forgiving." She smiled, completely lacking any embarrassment at admitting her feelings. She must have known what he was going to ask because she smiled, "I loved you because your heart speaks to me and if I knew nothing else I'd know enough. Your heart never lies and it is never afraid to call to me. You seek me out because my heart speaks to you as well."
He was bewitched; something in her words and gentle eyes had him. "How does your heart speak to me?"
She reached out and took his hand; the effect of skin-on-skin was shocking. It wasn't like the muggle-romance novels he'd caught Ginny reading on a few occasion; he didn't feel electricity and his heart didn't stop. On the contrary, his heart now seemed to be racing and he couldn't breathe without inhaling her, his eyes were fixed on her as she took his hand and pressed it against her chest over her heart.
She whispered, "You can't hear the heart speaking, Ronald. Life would be easier that way, you have to feel it. We feel each other's longing, even when you don't notice. You enjoy the way I look at you." He nodded, "You feel important, because to me, you are. More important then Harry's power or Hermione's knowledge is your love and that is beautiful, at least to me."
He reached up with his free hand and caught a tear that spilled down her cheek. "What does my heart say to you?"
She frowned at him, "Don't you know by now?" He shook his head feeling slightly silly, asking her what his heart said. She smiled and leaned forward, "It says, 'Shut your gob and kiss me!'" He blushed and smiled, "Ronald?"
He felt her small hands grip the lapels of his coat and she spoke huskily. "Shut your gob and kiss me!"
"Yes ma'am." He leaned forward pressed his lips against hers. The kiss was chaste but defining. He'd never call her or even allow her to be called "Loony Lovegood" again in his presence. The woman was a bloody genius, she made Hermione and her books look like a blibbering idiot.
He heard a little moan in the back of her throat and felt her fingers in his hair, suddenly he felt like a blibbering idiot himself. His mind had blanked and been refilled with Luna's warm lips and gentle caresses. His arms wrapped around her and he started to pull her to him when he heard a noise come from between them.
It was a pathetic attempt at a growl; it took a moment for him to register it. He pulled away from Luna and looked down at the little box. Whatever it was she'd brought, it was apparently mad at them for trying to crush it. "What is it?" She smiled at him and gently removed the lid. In the box was quite possibly the strangest and most-pathetic creature he'd ever seen. It was a little longer than a foot from the tip of its nose to the end of its tail. It looked a bit like a lizard, and had little useless looking wings on its back. He thought it looked like it might be a dragon of some sort but years of living with Charlie had allowed him to gain knowledge on dragons.
He noticed two little protrusions on his (hers?) head. Kind of like horns only they looked mangled. Luna spoke gently, "My father finally got a good lead on a nest of them. He brought home a whole litter, and I decided to give you the pick of the litter. His little horns are coming in nicely."
Ron's eyes widened, "Luna, is this? Is it a..."
He looked up at her and found a slightly smug expression on her face, "That Ronald is an infant Crumpled-Horned Snorkack."
The little snorkack looked up at him and mewled; it seemed to be trying to scare him off and of course was failing miserably. He looked back up at the blonde woman in front of him and smiled widely, "He's amazing."
She looked at him and smiled. "Do you like your presents then?"
He frowned, "What's the other present?" She shook her head again before leaning up and kissing his lips. She pulled away and he blushed, "Oh... yes well, no one ever said I was the smartest Weasley." He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and she gratefully snuggled into his side. "I wish I had known you were coming. I would have gotten you something."
She sighed happily and said, "I make my own presents Ronald. For example..." She then tore a button off his coat, removed her twine and bottle-cap necklace then ran the twine through one of the holes before replacing the "jewelry" around her neck.
Ron looked down at her indignantly, "Hey!"
Luna just smiled before kissing the side of his throat, "Hush Ronald, you're spoiling the moment." He quickly relented as Luna was nuzzling his throat and her arm was wrapped possessively over his chest. He couldn't argue so he just held her while the infant Snorkack mewled in annoyance at the neglect he was suffering.
They stayed on the couch, sitting quietly (save Ron's new pet) until his mother called them back inside to warm up. Later Ron would tell Harry that despite the constant teasing from Fred and George for the rest of the holiday, he'd never been happier.
He was so happy in fact, that he'd didn't kill Neville a few days later when he noticed a hickey on Ginny's neck at breakfast. He just gave his friend and dorm-mate a black eye and bloodied nose.
He may have decided to lighten up, but it couldn't happen overnight.