Same Old, Same Old (HP/BtVS)
Title: Same Old, Same Old
A/N: For kerravonsen. The prompt was: Neville Longbottom, Xander Harris, When the Heroes are away, sometimes the sidekicks have to save the day.
Disclaimer: Post Season 7 BTVS, Post Book 7 HP. I own nothing. Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling and BTVS belongs to Joss Whedon.
Neville looked at his opponent, down at the board, then back up again.
“You’re losing on purpose aren’t you?” he asked.
“What?” Xander asked his eye going ridiculously wide. “No. Of course not.” When Neville continued to just stare at him. He threw his hand up in the air before sinking back into the enormous comfortable leather chair, pouting. “Ok. Fine. I’m losing on purpose. But, come on. The only cool part about this game is when the pieces beat the shit out of each other,” he tried to reason.
“I thought that the Muggle version of chess didn’t move anyway?” Neville asked.
“It doesn’t,” Xander conceded. “And that’s why it’s a boring game. Played by boring people when they’re super bored,” he closed his eye and made a sound somewhere between a sigh, a whine, and a growl. “So maybe I should
Neville just watched his antics, vaguely amused.
Xander cracked open his one eye to look at him, scratching behind his patch absentmindedly. “Sorry,” he said. “I’m not trying to unload on you. I know you want to be out there too, with your bad-ass Oreo self, fighting instead of stuck here baby-sitting me.”
“Auror,” Neville corrected not the least bit offended.
Xander actually chuckled. “Oh, I know. But “oreo” was the closest wrong way to say it I could come up with that Buffy would still get. She seems to keep calling you all “auroras” too, which actually sounds kinda close. Every time she does it though I can see Willow scrunching up her nose wanting to give her a lecture about the Northern Lights. I
would actually much prefer to go much geekier with the reference but I don’t want only Andrew to get my joke,” he nodded to himself.
“More along the lines of “Ororo”?” Neville asked casually picking up his tea.
The man across from him sat up straight abruptly, his eyes excited. “Someone just earned some nerd points in the Book of Xander,” he said pointing and grinning absurdly. “How did you even know that? I thought all you Wizard-ly people didn’t do normal people things?” he asked.
Neville flushed at the oddly phrased praise. “Between living in a dorm with people who grew up in the Muggle World and then going more into it myself as I grew older – I, well I picked up a few things,” he explained. “I actually had a whole run of old Marvel comics dumped on me by a friend’s parent when I showed even the slightest bit of interest once,” he reminisced with a grin. Remembering the year he had been dragged along by Hermione (as a friend, of course – although she was probably angry with Ron about something at the time, she usually was those days) during an Easter holiday. The odd mixture of fondness and embarrassment she had had at the exuberance her Father had shown for passing on this undeniably geeky thing he loved to the younger generation
(There was a tang of bitterness to this memory. When it had happened, watching them, he had felt this sharpness inside him. This feeling he had gotten before of – that, that is what it’s like to have parents. But now, now when he thinks about it, it hurts for a different reason. It hurts because he knows that now Hermione knew what it was like, got to experience that love, and now doesn’t have it anymore.
There was a crash on the roof interrupting any further conversation and making them both freeze instantly. Neville looked over to him and Xander slowly lowered his still pointing arm. Then there was a sound beside them – something between a slithering and a clicking, coming from inside the chimney of the banked fireplace. With unspoken agreement they both carefully got up and backed over to the other side of the room.
Because this – this was the reason. The reason that Xander was here and Neville had been assigned to guard him while the others went out hunting.
The snake-like head peaked out first; its nostrils flared then it turned and looked their way with blind, pupil-less dun yellow eyes. Neville fought down both a shiver at the creepiness of the creature and the anger that welled up inside him.
He really bloody hated snakes.
After a moment of testing its environment, the rest of its body emerged. Hundreds of razor sharp centipede like legs grabbed at his mantelpiece, making indentations as they went and knocking over knickknacks unheedingly, until its entire eleven foot length was mostly draped across the wood.
They usually stay away from human civilization but a group of younger Slayers had accidentally disturbed a nest when out on a raid helping out the Ministry. There had been two. One had been killed off, the death blow brought about (while the Slayers leapt around, distracting) by none other than the man beside him.
This one had slithered away. They had thought they didn’t have to worry about it anymore. But after three subsequent barely thwarted attacks on the man, they found, through research, that centpythos do
stray away from their normal habitat for one reason.
Revenging their mate.
Xander let out a breath gustily beside him. “Didn’t remember the bastard being that big,” he stated matter of factly. “Or that ugly.”
“Bitch,” Neville corrected going automatically for his wand but nixing the idea just as quick. All reports indicated that magic simply bounced right off this thing.
“What?” Xander asked, laughing a bit crazily.
Neville flushed realizing what he had said. He cleared his throat slightly, “The scales along its stomach are brown, not the red of the males,” he indicated. “So…,”
“Yeah,” he said still looking far too amused given the situation and the imminent threat to his person. “I just never expect to hear your accent saying it. Part of me still thinks all English people are Giles. It kinda threw me for a second.”
“There are certainly worse people to be compared to,” Neville couldn’t help but grin. But that quickly left him as the centpythos started to descend from its perch.
“I thought the others were supposed to be hunting this thing?” Xander asked but it sounded more annoyed and rhetorical than anything else.
“It resists magic,” Neville gave the only explanation he knew, “it probably stopped showing up on their maps after a while.”
They both seemed to have the same idea, scanning the room for possible weapons. And although the room was lovely – his ancestral home being recently redecorated by Pansy to suit his
taste more than his Grandmothers’ now that she had been dead for quite a few years – fighting a giant centipede/snake creature was not one of the specification he had had in mind for the sitting room.
Perhaps if he lived through this he should remedy that. Pansy always seemed to enjoy a challenge these days.
Tired of waiting, the centpythos lunged at its prey. Xander leaped and rolled out of the way and almost automatically Neville pulled his wand out and threw a stunner at it.
Of course, the magic did not harm it. But, it did re-alert it to the other presence in the room. His mind worked quickly. He might not be able to hurt it directly with his magic but, indirectly perhaps?
With that though in mind, Neville levitated one of the heavy leather chairs they had been sitting in not long before and bashed the thing in the head with it.
It veered hard to the left and when it righted itself it was moving almost drunkenly while it got its footing (with its many many feet). Neville attempted to capitulate on the moment of weakness but when he tried to bring the chair down again it swerved out of the way and charged him.
He tried to somehow block the creature but it was too fast. Neville backed up quickly and fell, losing control of the chair and cursing himself for his clumsiness. It was almost upon him when he noticed Xander out of the corner of his eye, running his way too. Before the centpythos could charge into Neville, Xander
charged into the centpythos
Clearly not expecting that type of attack, it seemed to almost shake itself for a moment, trying to regroup. Backing up and circling them confusedly, giving Neville time to get to his feet again. Its head turned in the direction of the noise immediately.
That was right, he remembered. Pupil-less eyes. Blind. Trying not to make any noise he levitated the chair again. Turning just his head, he made eye contact with Xander and tried to relay his plan as best as possible without words.
Xander seemed to understand instantly. Or else he was already planning the same thing. Either way, the man seemed quite ready and comfortable with playing bait.
Without warning Neville brought his arm down as hard as he could and smashed the chair into the things head again. As it started to hone in on him as it had before, Xander skipped – for some reason – skipped over to the other side of the room humming the Mission Impossible theme (thank you for once a month beer and explosion movie get togethers, Dean) and effectively distracting it.
As soon as the horrid looking head was turned he bashed it again.
And that was how they worked. Xander skipping around the room (and sometimes having to break out into a slight run when it got too close) humming and Neville using his magic to bludgeon the centipythos repeatedly in the head with the chair (he had to remember to thank Pansy for the wonderful craftsmanship) until its head was nothing but a bloody pulpy mess.
Breathing hard they both simply stared at it for a while before approaching. Xander kicked a bit of skull fragment.
“Sorry about your rug man,” he said sounding genuinely apologetic. “Brains can be a bitch to get out.”
Neville snorted amused.
Xander looked over at him. “What?” he asked. “They really can. There was this one time in Texas with these zombies and..,”
“No,” he shook his head. “Bitch,” he pointed to the centipythos and giggled in a way he knew was utterly juvenile.
But Xander’s lips twitched into a grin too and they both started laughing even though it wasn’t really funny and was much more just simply a release of stress than anything else. Neville thought he might have made a friend.
In his experience, killing giant evil snakes tended to bond people together after all.
A/N 2: I will be posting the rest of the fics here throughout December, as they are posted at their respective sites - Wishlist (LJ) and Yuletide (A03). Hope you enjoy them.