Neville was a light sleeper. At Hogwarts, Seamus’ snoring nearly undid him until Professor McGonagall suggested he learn muffling and silencing charms. Professor Flitwick was nice enough to teach him and Hermione helped him perfect it. His seventh year, his light sleeping came in handy and he was often the first awake if trouble came knocking.
But he hadn’t been in a situation where he would need to jolt awake in a long time. So when the first crash downstairs came, he woke up, but Neville rubbed his hands over his eyes. For a moment, he thought it was a leftover memory from a dream. Just as he laid his head back onto his pillow, another crash sounded.
The wards around the shop weren’t particularly hard to break. All the dangerous items were under specialty wards in the back, but the simple locking wards around the shop were broken. Neville grabbed his wand and put his back to the wall, keeping to the shadows.
He opened the door to the landing and peeked his head out. No one was coming up the stairs, so he slowly descended to the shop entrance. When he reached that hallway, he could hear someone rummaging around in the shop, but it didn’t sound like they were going through his books or taking anything.
“Where are you,” she said to herself.
She heard the man before she saw him, turning with a growl. She scurried away and under some shelving. Her years with the wildling pack in Ireland had made it easy for her to move quickly. It had been a very long time since she had been in England, let alone around people who were not werewolves.
But this person smelled familiar.
“You smell familiar,” she said, leaving a growl in her voice.
Neville kept his wand trained steadily on the person who had slid across the floor until some shelving. He couldn’t hit her, especially if she moved that fast.
“What’s your name and why are you in my shop?” he asked, trying to get his eyes adjusted to the darkness.
“I’m looking for Rowan Blackwood,” she said, voice low and grating.
She smelled the air again.
“You are very familiar to me. I know your scent, but I can’t place it. Who are you?” she demanded.
Neville winced. Someone who broke into a shop, sniffed the air, and was looking for his werewolf shop assistant who didn’t run with the best crowd at times was almost guaranteed to be a werewolf, which meant he did not have the advantage in a fair fight.
“I’m the person who hasn’t yet called the aurors even after you broke into my shop. So I’m going to ask you one more time before I floo the authorities.”
“Step into the light,” she said softly. “I won’t move, won’t come at you. And I could, you know. I could have already ripped your throat out... probably twice by now.”
Neville almost took a step forward, but hesitated and kept his back to the wall. “You didn’t answer my question. I already gave you a warning.”
Her words just reaffirmed that she was a werewolf. Adrenaline was pumping and he wished he had a sword in his hand. He’d never felt more at peace than he had holding the Gryffindor sword.
Instead of trying to fight her, Neville decided to go back up to his loft, which had stronger locking charms. He could floo the aurors and, if necessary, leave for his own safety. So instead of taking a step forward, he took a step back.
She saw him move back and growled, launching herself. He managed to get a hex off, but she had him pinned to the wall and was growling in his face, holding that wand arm away - but only barely. He was stronger than she’d expected for the proprietor of a shop that specialized in herbology.
Her eyes locked with his, and they were familiar. She pushed back with a gasp. She couldn’t believe it was Neville Longbottom, but a person’s eyes didn’t change so much that you didn’t still see their soul.
Neville really should have brought his wand facing forward, aimed at the intruder, but he was too busy staring in shock. The last he heard, Lavender Brown had been killed in the final battle by Fenrir Greyback. Well, Hermione said that she hexed him off of Lavender, but hadn’t been able to find her afterwards.
“Lavender?” he asked, trying to look at her closely in the bleak moonlight filtering in through the shop windows. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“That Lavender’s dead. I’m something else. I’m looking for the boy. They’re coming after him and Lyra. I had to warn them.”
She was reeling. Lavender Brown was a lifetime ago. She didn’t even know how to be that girl anymore.
He wanted to believe that was true. Neville really did, but there was a voice in the back of his mind that reminded him that trust should not be given so blindly. For all he knew, she was the one wanting Rowan for nefarious purposes.
“There’s no boy here. I’m the only one who lives here and all the employees here are females.”
She let out a huff of air and put one hand on her hip. “You’re still a terrible liar, Neville. I can smell him. He’s all over the place here along with...” she sniffed the air. “Something different, powerful. Human, but... not. What do you have here?”
“Something you do not want to be tangled in,” Neville said firmly. Oh, he could just imagine what would happen if Draco Malfoy found out a werewolf had broken in and was curious about Pevensie. Actually Malfoy would probably find out anyway, especially if Pevensie was worried about Rowan. “I’m going to give you one last chance, Lavender. If you leave now, I won’t tell the aurors exactly who broke into my shop or why.”
“Bring them. Call Harry even. I know you’re still friends.”
She could tell he hadn’t expected that.
“Besides the breaking and entering, I haven’t done anything wrong, and when they find out who’s after the boy, they’ll be more concerned with him. Trust me.”
Well, that put a dent in his she’s the one really after them
plan. If she was willing to talk to the authorities, then something must be wrong. “And how do I know that you’re not looking for this boy on your own so you
can hurt him?”
Lavender rolled her eyes. A few minutes alone with an old housemate, and she was already acting like Lavender Brown again.
“All gossip aside, when did I ever physically hurt someone, Longbottom? And no, we’re not counting the Death Eaters I hexed before I got mauled. I’m not going to hurt Rowan or his mum. I actually like Lyra. She’s civilized.”
Neville clenched his teeth so hard his jaw popped. He was just going to have to trust his judgement and hope it didn’t bite him in the arse, literally. “They’re not here. They’re not even in the country and haven’t been for some time.”
“No, they came back,” Lavender said. “They left just in time. Someone has raised Fenrir Greyback, and he wants Rowan because he’s a born wolf, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he sets his sights on Professor Lupin’s little boy too. I just want Lyra and her boy far away.”
His head thunked loudly on the wall behind him as he sighed. This was not the best news. “I haven’t heard from them. In a while. But I know where they would go for sanctuary. If they’re among our friends, they’re well protected.”
“So...” she said awkwardly. “A plant shop. Awesome.”
He gave her a look.
“What? My socializing is rusty. I’m used to growling and it being understood, so... there’s someplace safe that you know?”
She sniffed the air again.
“I smell all kinds of weird stuff in here. How many werewolves do you know? Because I can swear I... it’s a male. Older. And something else. Something else here. Not demonic, but dark. Why do I smell darkness in your place, Longbottom?”
Oz. He would need to alert him about Lavender being in the shop and also looking for Rowan. Neville would go to the council before he opened the shop that morning and tell Pevensie to take a week off or so. Hopefully Mac wouldn’t swing by and notice. That would be bad.
He was about to answer her and give some half answer, but when Neville opened his mouth, he yawned. “Do you think you could ask these questions in daylight, Lavender? Provided you aren’t going to tear my throat out tonight?”
He still had a grip on his wand, but if she wanted to kill him, she would have done so already.
“Will you stop white-knuckling your wand. It’s insulting. I’m not going to hurt you. Can I... can I sleep down here for a few hours? I’ll be gone in the morning.”
She had no idea where she would go, but she didn’t want to stay here if he was going to be on edge and treat her like some sort of dangerous animal. Maybe she could make her way to Hogwarts and Hagrid would take her in. He had always seemed to like untamed beasts.
For a moment, he thought he had not heard her correctly. “You...you want to stay here? But this isn’t...” Neville was at a complete loss for words. “There’s no bed or anything that you could be comfortable in. Why not stay at the Leaky?”
“Forget it,” she snapped. “I’ll just...”
She had no plan. She had no money. She wasn’t certain exactly what she would ‘just’.
Neville made a face. “Wait,” he said as she turned her back. “I have some pallets in the back that you can turn into a makeshift bed.” Then Neville stopped and looked around the shop. It wasn’t in too bad shape, but there was a window broken and some pots were turned over, with dirt tracks through the shop floor. “But it’ll be loud as I clean this up. I...” he couldn’t believe he was offering this, but when he looked at her, he saw an old classmate who had stood by him when times were bad and didn’t get the best ending to her personal story. She was a Gryffindor. He would help her. “I...have a couch upstairs you can crash on.”
“You have a broom? I’ll help you clean this up. I promise to scratch on the door if I need to go out instead of peeing on the rug.”
Neville froze, unsure if she was trying to make a joke or if she was being serious. Rowan never had that problem and as far as he knew, neither did Oz, but he really wasn’t sure how to proceed. “Um, I’ll get a broom.”
“Oh my gods, this is why I don’t hang around normal people. I still know how to use the loo. You were always entirely too serious at times, Neville.”
But this was making her feel more normal than she had felt in years. Sometimes she didn’t know why she’d not corrected the mistake that had Lavender Brown listed as dead.
“You almost hexed me in fifth year when I made a joke about your hair ribbon!” he said defensively. “You and Parvati both couldn’t take a joke.”
But Neville knew that people changed, especially after what they all had gone through. Lavender wasn’t going to be the same girl she was in fifth year, but that was just something he would have to get used to.
He paused. Get used to? That was assuming she was sticking around. He felt a bit of anxiety because now he felt a bit protective. Of a werewolf who was completely capable of taking care of herself, but just like in seventh year, when Neville saw someone who needed a bit of help, especially an old classmate, he was more than willing to do whatever was needed.
“I can’t believe you remember that.”
Then she giggled. Much like she used to, and it had been so very long since she had done that. When she was running, she was the one who was entirely too serious.
“Have... have you seen her? Parvati?”
“She came into the shop once, when I first opened a few years back. Looking for some incense.” Neville chuckled as he handed her the broom. “She still dabbles in divination, although I don’t think she’s quite enamored as you both were third year.”
“Don’t mock. Divination is serious business. I’ve actually met some real Seers on my runs. You know there’s a whole village of them not too far from Hogsmeade. They kind of gather there. I think it would be nice to visit. Not always be rabbits and running and the moon.”
Oh, he knew about it. Between his grandmother mentioning it quite often and knowing some of the members’ names from Mac and Willow, he definitely knew about it. He would probably need to give someone a warning, or let Willow know that Lavender was interested when he went to the Council. “I’ll be sure to let them know,” he said with a small chuckle as he picked up pieces of a clay pot.
“You know people there? Really? You can’t just be all cryptic like that, Neville Longbottom. Start dishing.”
Since his back was to her, he allowed a small smile. That sounded like the Lavender he remembered. “I’ve never been there, but I know people who have. Some of them would be the ones who would protect Rowan and Lyra. I plan on letting them know about the whole encounter in...” he cast a tempus
charm, “four hours.”
“Do I get to come with you or stay behind? Are they secret friends? With the other werewolf be there?” She asked the last question as nonchalantly as possible.
She was insanely curious because the longer she was exposed to the scent of that he-wolf, the better he smelled.
Neville shook his head. “I won’t take you with me, but if you want to stay here, I’ll see if someone would be willing to talk with you.”
He wasn’t about to take Lavender to the council, even if he was pretty sure she wasn’t going to do him any harm. Perhaps Oz and Mr. Giles could sort this out.
“Super secret meeting places? You have me very curious, Neville Longbottom. This shop isn’t a front for illegal dealings, is it?”
Neville gave her a look that he often gave her when they were back in school. It was his are you really this stupid
look. It was a look he got from Hermione when she would look at Ron and Harry.
“Of course not. It’s not that it’s secret, but it’s a school and it’s full of powerful people. It’s not up to me if you’re welcome.”
“Still haven’t developed any sort of sense of humor,” she muttered to herself.
It was why she and Parvati had been friends. Vati got her and understood Lavender’s odd sense of humor.
“I know my joking face looks a lot like my regular face, but I was joking just then, Neville. You wouldn’t do anything illegal. I refuse to believe you’ve changed that much. You’re Sir Goody and his Two Shoes here. You’re honorable. You always have been.”
If anything, maybe she should stick around so Neville Longbottom could learn to take a sodding joke. Damn.
“I can take a joke, Lavender. Sorry for not joking with the person who broke into my shop in the middle of the night, pinned me to a wall and threatened to rip my throat out.”
“But did I do it? No. I wouldn’t have anyhow. It’s you. Even if I hadn’t known you, I wouldn’t have hurt you. I’ve never ripped anyone’s throat out or anything. I really don’t like fighting at all. I tend to run away. Unless there’s something more important going on. And you’re a wizard, Neville. Just...” She did a swish-flick motion. “And fix the glass. It’s only glass. It’s not like I damaged any of the plants.”
Her pack leader would be horrified right now. A few minutes in the presence of someone from her past and she was right back to being slightly inconsiderate Lavender Brown.
“Look, Neville, I’m sorry. Don’t be cross with me. I’ll fix the glass and clean up, all right? I just get a little... singular when I’m given a task these days. I know I’m not... I mean, yeah, I’ve been away, and I growl and pounce a lot more, but I’m still me in here. Sort of. How I’m going to behave with old schoolmates hasn’t changed that much. If anything, I’m more me right now than I have been in years.”
Neville didn’t want to tell her that some of the plants were probably already a little damaged from the magic, but it wouldn’t hurt to use his wand to fix the glass now. He didn’t know where his small hex had landed, except it wasn’t on her.
“It’s okay, Lavender. I’ll take you upstairs so you can get some sleep on the couch. I’ll go visit my friends and let you know about Rowan and Lyra as soon as I can, okay?”
“Okay,” she said as she started to sweep up the glass on the floor. “And Neville? Thanks. I didn’t have anywhere else to go. I didn’t really plan ahead on this.”
Well now he felt like an even bigger berk for snapping at her but she did pin him against a wall and break into his shop, but he saw the good intentions behind it. Neville wasn’t sure how he felt about her staying with him for a while, but she needed a place to go. Perhaps Oz knew somewhere a werewolf would be safe.
“You’re welcome,” he mumbled, picking up the toppled over planters that were, thankfully, empty.