The Sweetbriar Tussle
April 29, 2005 6:11 PM
Pevensie was stacking crates. It was easy for her. In fact, she often let her mind wander while doing it. It was nothing to her. Though she looked slight, she had the strength of a slayer. She was getting stronger too. Her fifteenth birthday was coming up this weekend. That was the age Buffy had been called.
“You need some help with that?”
She turned and looked at Scruffy. Well, really his name was Rowan, but his body hair was out of control and he seemed to have a fondness for clothing with holes worn in it. She knew he and his mother weren’t exactly wealthy, but he did happen to be a wizard. Didn’t they have mending charms or something for that?
“I got it. Thanks.”
“It’s really no problem.”
Pevensie set her current crate down with slight force and turned to face him. “I’m in no way delicate. You don’t have to do the heavy lifting because I’m a girl.”
“I didn’t offer because you were a girl. Not that you can tell except for the skirts. I was trying to be nice, but bugger that then.”
He turned to leave, but Pevensie grabbed his arm and spun him back. Rowan’s eyes showed surprise at that.
“What do you mean you can’t tell I’m a girl? I have girl parts.”
“Not very big ones.”
She swung at him, but Rowan actually dodged her fist. “Not bad, stringbean.”
Pevensie snarled and lunged at him, tackling Rowan to the store room floor. He shouted when she managed to put him in a headlock. She shouted when he grabbed her arm and was able to move it a bit off of his throat. He was not normal guy strong. He was stronger.
Neville shot up when he heard the crash coming from the back room. Wand drawn, he raced through the doorway, grateful the shop was empty at the time, to where he'd sent Rowan to do some sorting.
He'd expected some type of wizard attacking, or someone trying to break into the store to steal some plants. It'd happened before, but never when the store was open during the day. Neville hadn't expected to see Pevensie and Rowan rolling on the floor. At first, he thought they were doing something wildly inappropriate for their age and his store when he noticed that their faces didn't exactly hold affection.
There was no way he could physically pull them apart, but he wasn't a wizard for nothing, and threw the first spell he could think of. "Singulus!"
Thankfully, the two flew apart and into opposite walls of the room. Neville quickly stepped in between them in case they tried to go at each other. "What the hell is going on?"
They each pointed at one another and started shouting.
"All right!" Neville shouted.
"What are you?" Pevensie snapped, taking her stake out of the top of her boot.
Rowan bared his teeth at her. "Try it, stringbean. You just try it."
"Oh for Merlin's sake!" Neville snapped. "Don't make me separate you two again. I'm already going to have to report you fighting once, let's not add on to it. Now will one
of you tell me what's going on?"
Pevensie folded her arms across her chest and pouted.
"She took a swing at me when I offered to help her," Rowan said.
Pevensie made and offended noise. "He said I was flat-chested."
Then something occurred to Pevensie. "What do you mean you'll going to have to report this? To who? Not Draco. Neville, you can not tell Draco."
Neville crossed his arms and glared right back at her. "Of course I'm going to tell Draco. Do I want to? No, but I'm responsible for you here and I will not tolerate fighting. You could have knocked over something expensive and the magic I just used to separate you can injure my plants."
Rowan was snickering, so Neville turned his glare onto him. "And don't think you're out of the woods either. Both Oz and your mother will be hearing about this. I'm supposed to keep you out of trouble, not push you into it."
He hated sounding so harsh, and so Neville sighed. "Look, you're both old enough to not get into fights like this."
Pevensie pouted. "It's my birthday on Saturday, Neville. Draco promised to take me shopping."
"How old will you be?" Rowan quipped. "Twelve? Ready for your training bra."
Pevensie launched herself at him.
This time he didn't care about making sure they didn't fly into the walls too hard. They could both take it. He cast the spell again and both grunted when they impacted opposite walls. "This is ridiculous. Rowan, stand there with your back against the wall until I can floo someone to come fetch you. Pevensie, sit down and you better not leave that seat."
Neville pointed to a nearby stool that had been knocked over.
He waited until they did what he said. "No, Rowan, you said she attacked you. Pevensie, why did you attack him?"
Rowan started to open his mouth, but Neville narrowed his eyes and pointed at him sharply. "No, you will remain quiet."
"He said my girl parts weren't very big," Pevensie mumbled.
Neville blinked. He'd never understand girls. "That's it? That's why you attacked him?" He huffed. "You really are the miniature of Malfoy, but instead you're the one doing the hitting instead whining."
"I'm not a little girlie girl. I could break every bone in your body," Pevensie snapped at Rowan.
"And I'd bite you, but I know you'd taste bad."
Bite? Pevensie sat back in shock as it dawned on her why he was so strong. It made sense. He had not worked around the last full moon. He was hairy. He knew Oz.
"Is your mom a werewolf too?"
Rowan growled at her and leaned forward a bit, but did not take a step. Pevensie sat forward with interest, no fear on her face. "I'm just asking. Oz is friends with my watcher. I don't have any beef with him, and I know wizards are shitty to werewolves, but as long as you don't chew any of my shoes or start marking your territory with piss, we have no issues."
Rowan actually snickered slightly. He had a look of disbelief on his face.
Neville looked between Pevensie and Rowan with a furrowed brow. Had... they just made up in some way? He never thought he'd admit it out loud, but now he understood a little about why Snape hated teaching the teenagers at Hogwarts.
"You're not going to leap at each other anymore, are you? My floo is in the other room."
"No," Rowan answered, frowning at Pevensie.
She looked at Neville. "Promise."
"Good, because now I have to floo the Council and Hogsmeade and I'm not particularly going to enjoy either of these floo calls. I could do without you two going at each other's throats."
Neither said anything until Neville left.
"You really don't care that I'm a werewolf?"
"I really don't care that you're a werewolf," she said. "I care that you're a jerk."
He snorted and leaned back against the wall to a more relaxed position, folding his arms across his chest.
Neville hadn't said anything, only requested that Oz and Draco come to the shop because Pevensie and Rowan had fought and were now in trouble. He wanted them to tell their stories.
He let out a small sigh of relief when he walked back into the room and they were still where he told them to be. Now the only thing he had to worry about was Draco attacking Rowan when he found out the young werewolf had insulted his charge.
Oz stepped through the floo first. Willow had insisted he go first.
"Neville? It's Oz. Where's Row?"
Draco was right on his heels. "Longbottom!"
He quickly dashed out to where they could see him in the doorway. "Through here." Neville went back into the room and lightly glared at both Pevensie and Rowan. "Not a word unless you are spoken to."
Pevensie raised an eyebrow at Rowan. He grinned.
"What did the mongrel do?" Draco asked.
"Dude," Oz said. "Werewolves don't like the term mongrel. It's like midgets not liking to be called dwarfs."
Draco made a face of confusion at him.
Neville had put away his wand, put gently pulled it out again and kept it loose in his hand. It wouldn't do any good to have Draco get twitchy.
"Pevensie attacked Rowan because he was teasing her. That's the general idea. I'll let them start with the specifics." Neville looked over at Rowan and nodded. "Go ahead."
Oz didn't say anything, but raised an eyebrow at Rowan. Pevensie was about to turn fifteen. Rowan was eighteen. Rowan ought to be able to resist the temptation to fight a little girl - no matter how much she could probably kick his ass.
Surprisingly, Rowan gestured to Pevensie, as if to give her the floor instead.
"He basically said I was flat-chested," she began. "So I took a swing at him."
"Which I dodged," Rowan said.
"Didn't dodge me when I tackled you and put you in a headlock."
Rowan threw up his hands. "That's because you're fast like a freak."
Neville held up his wand. "The third time I will not be so gentle." He turned to Draco and Oz. "Look, I can't have them fighting in my shop. They could hurt themselves and damage my plants. I'd be happy to keep them both on, but if they can't work together, then I can't risk it.
"Oh Rowan isn't going to give you any more trouble," Oz said in a neutral tone, but there was something in his eyes when he looked at Rowan that made Rowan swallow hard. "Right, Row?"
"Neither is Pevensie," Draco said. "Because Willow campaigned very hard to get you this job. None of the other slayers get to work in the public like this. Don't ruin it." Then Draco looked at Rowan, pointing a finger. "And you just don't mention her parts. Her parts are none of your affair. You don't even think about her parts or so help me I will remove your kidneys and wear them as earrings."
"Eww," Pevensie said, making a face.
"I'll second that," Neville said with a grimace. He shook himself to rid the images of Draco with earrings from his mind. "Can we all play nice and not tackle each other? You're lucky there weren't any customers."
"I only tackled him because he dodged my punch," Pevensie said, eying Rowan.
"Really?" he asked.
"Yeah. You don't look that fast."
"I'm pretty fast, Strongbean."
Pevensie made a face. "Strongbean?"
"Well, you were stringbean, but after that headlock..."
Draco was watching the banter with a furrowed brow.
Oz had an idea. "If you two are so keen to fight, we could do that in a controlled environment."
Pevensie looked at Oz. "You'd let me fight him? For real?"
"Spar," Oz corrected. "No damage."
"How about we discuss any and all future fights or spars or whatever someplace that isn't my shop. The negative energy isn't good for my plants," Neville said testily.
He still wasn't a fan of violence. Neville had been taught to fight, but would do it only in self-defense. He didn't find any pleasure in it.
"Nah, they're just gong to work out and use up some of their obvious energy," Oz said. "There's not going to be anything negative about it. Right, guys?"
Pevensie and Rowan just looked at him.
Draco grabbed Pevensie's arm lightly and pulled her aside.
"You wanted to come here to learn," he whispered. "But if you think you can't learn anymore here or you're bored with it now, we can make other arrangements."
"What? No!" she protested.
"Then stop fighting around the magical plants. Longbottom does not possess the strength to part you physically. That means he has to either let it play out or stop you with magic. The playing out could result in damage. The magic could harm the plants. While this does seem to be something he does for enjoyment, this is also his living, this is how he makes money. Please consider that the next time you feel a wrestle is in order."
Pevensie was looking at the floor. "Yes, sir. I'm sorry Neville."
"And don't call me sir."
Draco glared at Rowan until he looked down at his hands.
"I'm sorry, Neville."
Oz grinned. He knew Draco's mom hinted about him providing her with grandbabies, but maybe she was right to. He had the scolding into guilt
thing down. Then again, he was not the best behaved kid, he probably had plenty of experience with the other side of the scolding.
Neville was too busy staring at Draco strangely to notice the apologies. He'd heard all about how Draco Malfoy was a changed man, but he'd never really witnessed it until now. He still saw the pointy nosed brat who stole his remembrall when he'd broken his wrist in first year and the boy who, five years later, teased Harry about his dead mother. Never before had Neville seen such stability, professionalism, and maturity in him. "Who are
"Oh... gods. Did one of you accidentally brain him? How hard was he hit in the head? I'm sure it's only temporary amnesia. I'm Malfoy, Longbottom. We went to school together. We don't like one another very much. Don't worry. Your memory will come back, I'm sure. Here, this might help you to recall."
Draco sneered at him.
Oz was chuckling. He could not help it. He only knew the new Draco, but he'd heard plenty about the younger one. Mac had stories. Even the even-tempered Oz might have popped that kid one.
Neville glared. "Funny, Malfoy. I know who you were. Forgive me for not being used to this new, responsible and semi-mature person."
"Well, I am a bloody adult."
Oz chuckled again. "Only on even days. On odd numbered days, there could be tantrums."
Draco glared at him.
"Oh come on, you had me calling Neville Nigel Fatbum. Very immature, man."
Neville rolled his eyes. "I'd forgotten about that. I'm not above sending my girlfriend after you, you know. There was no reason for that."
"I can't have Mac doing that," Oz said. "As her watcher, she's much more valuable in the field. No offense, Draco."
"Buffy turned his hair pink and Blaise put lions that roared on all his clothes," Pevensie said. "Does that make you feel better?"
"Pevensie," Draco snapped.
Neville's brow furrowed at first, then what Pevensie said filtered into his mind. Draco Malfoy with pink hair and the emblem of his rival house on his clothes. He had to lean against the wall because he was laughing so hard. "I must see the memory! I just have to!"
Draco pointed at his slayer. "No."
"I understand Buffy took pictures," Oz offered.
Neville kept laughing. If there were photographs, he was going to copy them and owl them to all his Gryffindor friends. "Oh that's incredible."