It had taken a lot for Astoria to get Parvati Patil to Neville Longbottom’s shop. Patil didn’t trust Astoria. She especially didn’t trust Marcus Flint’s girlfriend. The little whisperer was cagey, but Astoria liked that about her. It would serve them well later on.
“Oh Neville Longbottom,” Astoria called. “I’ve brought you something.”
“This is really Neville’s shop,” Parvati said. “A rather large part of me thought you were luring me here to die.”
Neville peeked in from the back. He was half-surprised that Astoria had actually come through. When he’d asked Willow about finding his classmate, he was doubtful when she recommended Astoria. Even when Astoria had showed up, he’d been doubtful. “Parvati!” he said with a smile. “It’s been a while!”
Parvati rushed to him, taking a small jump and throwing her arms around his neck. She’d been mostly in India with family since her accident. Padma kept her updated on old classmates, but her sister had not mentioned how handsome Neville had gotten.
He gave her a tight hug. “It’s wonderful to see you. I wasn’t sure I would be able to track you down. Hope Astoria didn’t give you too much trouble.”
“She’s my neighbor now. I think I’ll have nothing but trouble. She sort of won’t leave me alone. Quite flirty which causes Flint to scowl at me.”
She still had her arms around him. That’s when Mac walked in the door with Lavender.
“This is about to get good on so many levels,” Astoria said. MacDougal’s biggest fault was her jealousy. Astoria liked it, though. It balanced out how smart and strong she was, gave the rest of the girls a chance to measure up.
Neville sighed loudly and took a step back. “Yet again, this is not what it looks like. I had Astoria track down Parvati for Lavender. Surprise?”
Mac was scowling. She looked like she wanted to rip Parvati’s arms from their sockets, but Parvati was too busy staring at Lavender.
Then she looked at Astoria. “I didn’t know you could see ghosts too. You didn’t tell me that.”
“I’m not a ghost, Vati,” Lavender said.
“You must be because that’s the only reason I’ll accept for you not contacting me all these years, Lavender Anise Brown.”
She was turning this way and that looking for an exit.
“Why dinna ya take her in back and talk. Nev willna mind.”
The door opened again and Willow and Oz entered talking and laughing. Oz sniffed the air and his eyes instantly went to Lavender.
“Lav, you okay?”
“I’m... I’m okay, Oz. Um, this is my best friend Parvati, everyone.”
“Is she a werewolf too?” Willow asked Oz.
“Werewolf?” Parvati said loudly.
“Lavender, take Parvati upstairs and talk. Have a long talk, okay?” Neville walked over to Mac and put his arm around her. “We won’t disturb you.”
“And dinna touch him again,” Mac said, pointing at Parvati. “He’s mine.”
Parvati looked wary.
“She does owe you an explanation, Patil,” Astoria said. “The least you can let her do is have her say. After that it is entirely up to you what you do with it. I’ll be in the Leaky when you are ready to return to Stygion. And macDougal, Neville’s not going anywhere. Calm down.”
Astoria nodded at Willow before she left. She was quite proud of herself for not telling MacDougal that she and Longbottom had been fated since birth and anyone who tried to get in the way of that would not have a happy ending. That was one of those things Snape was saying she should keep to herself.
“We can come back later to pick up my order, Neville,” Willow said.
“No need. It’s in the back. I’ll fetch it for you.” He turned to Mac. “Give me a hand?”
“All right,” Parvati said. “We can go upstairs and talk so Neville can conduct his business.”
“Lavender,” Oz said. “You know where I am if you need me.”
Willow gave Oz an odd look. There was something different in his tone when he said Lavender’s name. A part of Willow didn’t like it, but she knew she was being irrational.
Mac followed Neville to the back. Well, more like she stomped after him.
The moment they were in the back store room, Neville closed the door. “You have the habit of walking in on the worst moments. I was just giving Parvati a hug. I hadn’t seen her in a long time. That’s all, okay?”
“I dinna like it. Why’d all the girls in yer house have to grow up lookin’ so fit? She’s all there wit her hair and her henna tattoos and her nose ring and her arse in those jeans.”
Neville rolled his eyes as he picked up some greenhouse boxes. “Mac, she’s like Lavender. I grew up with her and have no interest in her at all, no matter her physical attributes.”
“But I know wha’ she looks like wit’out all tha’ - Padma, and Padma Patil is beautiful and smart. She’s ever so smart.”
“You’re smarter,” he said as he loaded his arms up. “And prettier. And I enjoy spending my time with you. What else am I going to have to do to convince you of that?”
“Mayhap we can go on a date. Like out. Like where we have to dress up or somethin’.”
Neville grinned at her. “Sounds lovely. Where would you like to go?”
“I dunno. Where do ya take yer other ladies?”
He made a face and placed the boxes down on the bench beside them. “You really want me to take you to places I’ve taken other women?”
Mac’s eyes narrowed. “Gone out on a lot of dates, have ya?”
They’d never really spoken about their past experiences, not that she really wanted to know. Mac would be too tempted to go and check out the other women. She be further tempted to knock a few of them around. She had this fear that neville would wake up one day and decide he wanted a lady - not someone who knew who to chop off a hellhound’s head or stake a vampire.
“Nothing that I can say is going to make you happy, is it?” Neville asked with a rueful grin.
“I dinna used to be a jealous woman,” Mac said with a sigh. “Then again, I were never seein’ anyone I cared for so well. I just dinna like other women hangin’ on ya. Makes me want to hurt them.”
Neville snickered. “I’ll tell my Gran to watch out next time we go out for tea.”
“I wouldna hurt yer Gran, for fock’s sake.”
Mac stepped close to him and leaned against his chest.
“Um, you guys okay in here?” Oz asked.
“We’re fine, Oz.” Neville put his arms around Mac. “We can go to a fancy restaurant. Perhaps see a play in London. I’ve never done that before.”
Oz held up his hands and backed out.
“All righ’,” Mac said. “Sounds nice. I’ll have to get Buffy or someone to dress me for it then.”
“I’ll let you know the details by the next delivery. Sound good?”
“Aye,” Mac said, wrapping her arms around him. “Best ya get Willow’s order a’fore Oz comes to check on us again.”
Neville snorted. “That’s what you were supposed to come back here to help me with, remember?”
“Well, where’s it at?”
He pointed to the boxes he had been stacking. “I placed those when you were getting yourself worked up about an old friend that I have no attraction to whatsoever giving me a friendly hug.” Neville kissed her. “You have nothing to worry about.”
“I better no’ or they’ll be a lot of lasses ya went to school wit’ sportin’ a new no arms look.”
Mac picked up the boxes and carried them back out front.
He followed behind her with a grin on his face. Neville knew most blokes would get tired of their girls getting jealous, but he knew that Mac wouldn’t act unless she had reason to, and he never planned on giving her any reason. Although he wish he would stop putting himself in situations that made it look like he had.
“I’ve already started on the refills that I missed last week,” he told Willow as they got to the front. “I’ll send them with Pevensie when they’re ready.”
Oz was giving Neville a serious look. “So I’m guessing Lavender hasn’t seen her friend in a while?”
“Didn’t look like her friend even knew she was alive let alone a werewolf,” Willow said. “If we can help... I mean, I have some experience with finding out a loved one is a furry loved one when the moon gets full.”
Oz gave her a look.
“You don’t even like Lavender.”
“I didn’t say that. I said I don’t know her well enough to trust her. There’s a difference. I think you’re getting very attached to someone you know very little about just because she’s a werewolf, Oz.”
“She’s not Daphne.”
Willow closed off completely.
Oz sighed. “Will...”
“I’ll see you back at the Council. I’m gonna go talk to Tori for a little while.”
Oz sighed loudly when the redhead left. “I swear if I didn’t think Willow would hate me for it, I’d wring Daphne’s neck.”
“You’re not the only one. And Lavender and Parvati used to be close in school. Best friends. When Lavender mentioned she hadn’t seen Parvati since then, I asked Willow if she knew a way to track Parvati down. It was a surprise for Lavender so she wouldn’t be stuck here alone and she could have someone to talk to.”
“Lavender has someone to talk to if she wants to,” Oz said before picking up Willow’s parcels and walking out.
“Tha’ was weird,” Mac said.
If she didn’t know better, she’d swear her watcher had a thing for Lavender Brown, but that wasn’t possible. It was probably just him extended a friendly hand to one of his own.
Neville shook his head. “I’m not even going to think about it.” He looked up at the ceiling. “I wonder if I should see if they need anything. Lavender knows where everything is, but still.”
Mac glared at the ceiling. “Leave them be. Iffen they need anythin’, Brown certainly knows how to ask.”
“Do I need to get ‘Property of Morag MacDougal’ tattooed onto more forehead or something? Would that help?” he joked.
Mac looked at him in a very serious manner, like she was considering. “Mayhap on yer arse. Tha’ would be better.”
Neville chuckled. “Well, no one is going to see my arse except you, so what could would that do? And it’s not like there is a woman out there strong enough to wrestle my trousers off.”
Mac raised a brow. “Is tha’ a challenge?”
His eyebrows rose. “Right now? What if Lavender and Parvati came downstairs and saw? Then you’d have to rip their arms off and get blood all over my flowers,” he replied innocently.
Mac flipped the sign to closed on the door.
He laughed. “I was joking. There’s not enough room and I’m not about to go roll around in the dirt when I have two friends upstairs.”
“I wasna. I think I could wrestle yer pants from ya. I dinna have to do anythin’ after I do,” she said, stalking towards him.
“No,” he said, pointing at her as he backed away. “Because I will fight back and we will knock something over and I’m not cleaning it up or trying to explain the noises to my neighbors.”
She wasn’t really going to, but him thinking she was that bold was humorous. Mac would never put him in a position to embarrass him. Explaining that your girlfriend took up the challenge of wrestling your pants from your body might be a bit embarrassing.
“Well, it wouldna be any fun iffen ya dinna fight back,” Mac said before taking a playful lunge at him.
He countered by taking another quick step back. “Don’t make me put you in a headlock.”
“I’d like ta see ya try,” Mac said.
Whatever else that would have happened was disrupted by Parvati storming down the stairs and out of the shop. Lavender followed looking very dejected.
“That didn’t exactly go well,” she said. “She’s very mad.”
Neville frowned. “What happened?” He looked out the front door but didn’t see Parvati anywhere. At least he knew where to find her now.
“Well, I could be wrong, but I think she’s mad I’m not dead and super mad that I’m a werewolf and didn’t tell her. Not that she’s not happy I’m alive or at least I think she is, but she mourned me apparently and it was traumatic. Now she doesn’t know what to do. It’s too bad there’s not a when your best friend comes back from the dead
support group or something.”
Mac looked at Neville. “Tell Astoria to take her to Willow.... or hell, to Theo.”
Lavender had a confused look.
“Willow helped bring Buffy back from the dead. Might help.”
“She’ll come around, Lavender. If she’s really your friend, she’ll realize how glad she is to have you back,” Neville said firmly. He just hoped he hadn’t damaged their relationship by giving neither one a head’s up.
“He’s righ’, ya know. Smart, my boyfriend is. Emphasis on the ‘my’ part.”
Lavender rolled her eyes. “I’m going back to Hogsmeade. Maybe to have sex with one of your cousins. Then perhaps you’ll believe me when I say I’m not interested in Neville like that.”
“So ya are interested in him in a way?”
“Goodbye, Nev. See you later,” Lavender said before leaving. She was sort of getting used to Mac being so possessive, and Lavender thought it very sweet that Neville had someone who was all about him like that. It was about time. Neville was a good guy, and he deserved someone who adored him enough to rip other people’s limbs off in Lavender’s opinion.
“Bye, Lav.” When Mac gave him a look, he shrugged. “What? It’s her name, isn’t it?”