So this is something I'm really, really proud of. It's a no-magic AU, it's 4,500 words, and it would mean a lot to me if you could comment your opinions about it
Neville Longbottom hates flat living.
Maybe it's the fact that he's so close to everyone, and it doesn’t make it any better that he’s always been a little claustrophobic. Or maybe it's his flat, which is smaller than small, and even he hardly has space to move, let alone the catastrophe it would be if he were to invite someone over.
It is only three rooms in size: a bedroom, which is home to a tiny single bed stuffed in the corner, and a wardrobe randomly placed opposite it; a kitchen and dining area, which is hardly a kitchen as much as it is a faux granite worktop with a single cupboard floating above it, with the only appliances being a greasy stove and an oven, which he still needs to fix; and finally, a bathroom the size of a broom cupboard, with the lime scale still visible on the shower, even after all of his laborious hours of scrubbing and spraying.
Ever since he graduated from university with a degree in botany, he has been unsure of what to do. There aren't any jobs available for him, at least not in London, and that is where he is planning to stay. He's happy in a city that he knows so well, for he's awful with learning his way around new places. He can't move when he has just begun to feel comfortable where he is.
So, a few weeks ago, he did what he thought was the best thing for him – he took a job at his local Sainsbury's. He bags items and smiles when the customers leave, hardly talking. He doesn't like his job. Not much, anyway. He isn't as good with people as he is with his plants, but it pays well – maybe even enough for him to move to a better flat – and the manager is flexible, and he knows that his work is, at least, stable.
Still. He yearns for something more – a relationship, perhaps, or at least something exciting, something new, something to add some meaning to this dull life of his.
He's never really had a girlfriend before. Sure, he's had the odd relationship here or there, but never anything special. Never anything that has lasted more than a few months. In his own eyes, he's practically a virgin with women. Well, he isn't, but it sure feels like it. He's never felt love: that something which everyone talks about, that beautiful feeling of complete and utter passion, that heart-wrenching honesty of adoration, that companionship of a true, loving relationship, where you can be yourself and yourself alone.
For a few years of his mid-twenties, Neville thought that he would spend the rest of his life working at a mediocre grocery store in the East End of London, his entertainment centered on his TV and the plants that he grew.
That, though, was before he met Luna Lovegood.
The flat complex he lives in is alright. Maybe even 'okay', but that's about the extent of it. It's small, the internet connection is crappy, and the paint on the wall is fading. But the air conditioning and heat work when necessary, the floors stay in good shape, there's an elevator, and he can get hot water in the shower for a few minutes before it chills. It's a mediocre place for mediocre people and Neville Longbottom finds himself conforming to that standard.
He's relatively antisocial. He has a few friends at work, the closest of which would probably be Harry. Harry Potter is the manager of the store, well known for the funny lightening shaped nametag he wears instead of the usual square ones. He has been kind to Neville since he first started, and for that, the stubble-y botanist is forever grateful.
There are a few others who he is quite close to, too. There's Ron, who seems a little idiotic, but is a good guy, always managing to find something humorous to say and frequently inviting Neville over for a drink or a game of footie. There's Hermione, too, who seems a little too brilliant for her own good, but is a kind person and has helped Neville many times. Neville suspects there is something going on between those two, but he doesn't like to mention it. He knows he would just make everything more awkward than it already is, if that’s even possible. And then there's Ginny, Harry's wife. She's sweet and quiet and doesn't say much, but apparently she is a good football player, and is quite the feisty one once you get to know her.
There’s also some guy named Tom, but he and Harry are enemies (who knows why?) and so, in a way, Neville’s enemies with him, too.
That's about the extent of it. It makes Neville a little sad when he looks at things on a wider scale. He is, essentially, lonely. Just like all the other mediocre single men that live in his mediocre building.
He doesn't want to drop down to the ways of everyone else. He wants to be the man he feels he is inside. Yet these are the people who he is surrounded by, and slowly, he falls into their ways. Because that's the way it works.
At least, until Luna Lovegood moves in.
Someone is knocking at Neville Longbottom's door.
He jumps up, bowl of soup and botany textbook lying uneaten and untouched on his kitchen table. He wonders who would possibly be at the door for him. He hasn't ordered anything. He hasn't scheduled anything with anyone.
He pulls the door open.
Standing on the other side of it is a girl. And not just a girl, either, but a dazzlingly beautiful one. She has large silvery eyes, with almost transparent looking eyelashes; impossibly fair skin; waist length white-blonde hair and full, light pink lips. She's wearing a rather strange assortment of charm bracelets, a mustard colored sweater, and plum colored velvet pants.
She's unlike anybody else Neville Longbottom has ever seen.
"Hello!" She chirps. Her voice is high pitched and far-off and dreamy and not completely British, Neville notices. For a moment, he is at an utter loss for words.
"Erm…" he stammers, unsure of how to reply. The girl smiles, eyes shining.
"I'm Luna, your new neighbor. I moved into room 394," she explains. "May I come inside?"
Neville opens the door a little wider for her, allowing the strange blonde access to his flat. Yet as he looks around, he realizes he probably should've cleaned up first. Books are crammed everywhere, plants clutter his windowsill, and all of his kitchen utensils are lying on the minimal countertop space.
"I like how you've decorated," Luna says earnestly, picking up one of his old Physics books (he was never good with that) and absentmindedly flips through it.
"Well, uh, thanks," he mumbles, trying his best to sound casual but instead sounding like a bit of a doofus. He mentally slaps himself.
"I smell nargles….." Luna whispers a few awkward minutes later, batting the air around her with her hands. Neville clears his throat and runs his fingers through his dark brown hair. He honestly doesn't know what she's talking about.
"Oh, you don't know what nargles are, do you?" Luna asks, and Neville shakes his head.
"Well, they're tiny little bugs that fly into your head and make your brain go all fuzzy."
He tries not to smile, but it's hard.
He can't tell what it is about Luna, but she's beyond anyone else he's ever met. She's exciting and gorgeous and he can feel his heart pounding in his chest.
"Nargles," he whispers as she turns back to the textbook, which is now millimeters away from her face and upside down. He says it again, letting it roll off of his tongue.
She is entrancing and captivating and surprisingly intoxicating.
Exactly the type of person Neville has been looking for.
Neville doesn't see much of Luna over the next few days. Occasionally they'll pass each other in the hallway, and he is always sure to give her a quick hello and a smile.
It has been years since a smile has come so easily to him. In fact, he can barely remember the last time he has been able to look at someone and feel the strange concoction of emotion that is stirring around inside of him.
He decides to go see her that afternoon, after he has gotten back from work.
He knocks quietly, sticking his hands into the pockets of his jeans and hoping that he looks okay. He's picked out a black polo, a cardigan sweater, and a pair of Sperry's.
She opens the door a few seconds later, looking relaxed. She's wearing a very strange paisley dress. Her long hair is tied back into a messy knot on top of her head. A gold chain necklace with a huge, emerald green, palm size, plastic turtle laced into it hangs around her thin neck.
In Neville's opinion, no one has ever looked better.
"Hello, Neville! Do come inside," she invites, stepping aside and allowing the tall, thin man to walk into her flat.
It's about the same size as his, and although less cluttered, it is still filled with many strange objects. A telescope stands by the window, books in endless foreign languages fill up an entire bookshelf, and a strange waft of sugar and tea and lemons seems to hang in the air. It's surprisingly enticing.
"I can see that you're looking at my books," Luna comments, and much to Neville's surprise, he is, although he isn't really thinking about it.
"Yes, well, they look interesting. Do you know all of these languages?" He asks, hoping for a chance at conversation.
"Of course I do – why would I have a bunch of books in my flat that I can't read?"
"Well, erm, good point."
Neville sighs. Luna laughs. Her laugh is like chimes tinkling together, and the Sperry wearing next door neighbor adores it.
"I love the stars, don't you?" Luna asks after what seems like an eternity of silence.
"Yes." Neville decides to keep his answer short and to the point. He is tired of messing up in front of everyone he wants to impress.
"All of those heavens out there…..I wonder what it would be like to travel to them. Maybe we would meet some friendly aliens," Luna comments, walking over to her window and pressing her forehead up against the clear glass.
"Yeah, I s'pose that would be cool," Neville replies, rubbing his hands together.
"Would you like some flobber tea?" Luna questions as she finally tears her face away from the window. Neville, again, clears his throat.
"I, erm, don't know what that is."
"Try it, then."
Seconds later, Neville feels a warm cup of something being pressed into his hands. It looks like tea the color of grass and smells like herbs and lemon and…..Chocolate, perhaps? It doesn't matter, though. Whatever it is, it smells good, and he eagerly begins drinking it.
Luna watches him intently.
After a delicious, rather different roller coaster ride of odd but pleasant tastes, Neville sets down the teacup he is holding on her counter and thanks the bright eyed girl profusely. She smiles.
"I always knew that you were different from them," she pronounces, twirling a stray lock of her curly hair with her index finger. Neville stares at her.
"What do you mean?" He replies, taking a step closer to her.
"You're different from the other people here. You act like you're the same as them, but I know you're not. You don't have to hide," she answers, her silvery eyes meeting his with an intense stare. Neville gulps.
"Erm, no, I'm, um, actually not. I work at a supermarket."
"But you're special," she whispers, stepping towards him. Neville suddenly wants to run his fingers through her impossibly beautiful hair. He wants to kiss her pretty pink lips and tangle his fingers in hers.
"You're unlike anyone else," someone mutters, and Neville realizes that it's not him who's talking. But he doesn't understand. He's not different. He's not special. He's remarkably average, and maybe, just maybe, that's what Luna meant.
He leaves before Luna can say anything else.
His heart is pounding and his breath is ragged. He has a terrible headache and his muscles hurt and it's all because of a girl. A strange, exotic, wondrous girl who he may or may not be in love with. A girl that he just walked out on.
He knows that he has to go back. He knows that it's the right thing to do. But he can't make himself.
He steps inside of his flat, the scent of stale coffee assaulting his senses. Cringing, he throws the old drink away and sits down at the kitchen table, opening the lid of his laptop. His fingers feel stiff.
He writes a quick botany paper for no apparent reason before heading off to bed. It's only eight o'clock, but he's inexplicably tired. Although he doesn't go to bed in his bed.
He goes to bed leaning up against the wall of his room, his head resting against the fading paint. He doesn't exactly know why, but it feels more comfortable than a bed. It feels safe.
He also doesn't know that on the other side of the paper thin wall, Luna Lovegood sits, her back leaning against it, a half drunk cup of flobber tea in her hands.
That night, Neville has a dream.
He doesn’t really remember what happens in it; all he knows is that shiny, white blonde hair and silvery eyes are definitely involved.
He can barely remember the last time he hasn’t had a nightmare. Or just slept peacefully.
It’s a pleasant surprise.
The next day, Neville decides to apologize.
Yet he doesn't get the chance.
That afternoon, he fumbles with his keys, which are lying in the bottom of his backpack. He's humming a song that he just heard on the radio. And as he nears his flat, he realizes that there's someone already standing by the door.
He relaxes, relief washing over him.
"What a coincidence to see you here, Neville!" She exclaims, rather brightly. Neville grins.
"Um, no, it's not, really. You're standing in front of my flat door," he explains, and she nods in understanding.
"I know," she replies, moving aside.
He decides it's best not to say anything else as he slips his key into the hole and pushes the door open. He walks inside, Luna only inches behind him.
"I do like it here," she says as Neville shuts the door. He smiles. He still can't get used to the fact that someone enjoys his flat. He'd once invited his parents over, and they'd both commented on how messy and disorganized it was. Sure, it may have been cluttered, but it was home.
"Thanks. Would you like a cup of, erm, tea?" Neville asks, setting his backpack down on the table and walking over to the kitchen.
"Oh yes, please, that sounds positively wonderful!" Luna cries, her smile wide.
Neville forgets the water.
Luna doesn't notice. She drinks it all up right away, not even setting it down in between gulps. Neville doesn't touch his.
"Do you believe in magic?" Luna asks once she's done with her rather un-tea like tea. Neville begins to grow red in the face. What should he say? No, of course he doesn't. He's a rational person. But, at the same time, he wants to impress the strange girl that stares at him with those sparkling eyes.
"No," he replies shortly. He decides that it's best to tell the truth. Luna raises her bright white eyebrows.
"I do. I believe that there's magic in everyone. I believe there's magic in the world. That there's magic in smiles and laughter and tears. That there's magic in both happiness and sadness. Magic is everything and everywhere. Magic is the silver lining," she whispers, taking a step closer to Neville, who stares down at the short girl, eyes wide.
"You're beautiful, you know that?" He finally replies. Luna grabs his hand. Her skin is cold to the touch.
"When it comes from you."
She closes her eyes. Neville does, too. He focuses on her fingers, which are wrapped around his, her index and middle pressed against the inside of his wrist. She's checking his pulse, he realizes, and this time, he can't contain the smile.
Maybe he has a silly grin on his face because he likes the feel of her and him. Together. Or maybe he has a silly grin on his face because, for the first time in long time, he feels alive.
"Goodbye, Neville," she murmurs, pressing a soft kiss against his boiling cheek. Her lips are icy and they send shivers down his spine.
When he opens his eyes, Luna's gone.
That night, someone knocks on his door.
Neville is just getting ready to change into his pajamas when he hears it.
He recognizes it right away. It's slow, steady, and soft. It's like a song, and he loves it.
Sure enough, when the thin door swings open, it is Luna that's standing on the other side of it. He smiles, stepping aside to allow her inside.
"What, erm, brings you here so late?" He asks, sitting down at the table. Luna walks over to his window, which is frozen from the chill outside, and she begins to trace patterns with her finger in the condensation. She shrugs.
"I was lonely. I wanted to come see you."
He decides to not push the subject, although his heart swells.
"Is there anything I can get for you? Tea, maybe? Some crisps?" He offers, but Luna shakes her head.
"I'm alright. Thank you."
Somehow, the silence that follows is a comfortable one. It's as if words aren't needed, and Neville enjoys it. After all, he's never been good with talking.
He stares at her, taking in the features that have become so familiar during the last month. Her pointed chin, her cheekbones, her long eyelashes… He's never seen anyone so magnificent. She's different and exotic, and the more he thinks about it, the more he wonders how he couldn't have known sooner.
He and Luna Lovegood may have just met, but Neville knows.
He loves her. He doesn’t know how he had ever denied it.
"Is something wrong? You've gotten very pale." Luna breaks the silence with her observations. Neville nods, suddenly nervous.
"Yeah. Erm. Yeah. I'm fine," he replies, although his voice is high pitched and squeaky.
Luna stands up and walks over to him, her breath soft and even. She's just centimeters away from him, and Neville can practically feel the electricity buzzing between them. He reaches a hand out to her cheek, his thumb grazing her frigid skin.
"Love," she whispers, her voice smooth and quiet, "is the most powerful kind of magic. The type that I don't believe in."
Neville takes her hand in his. Thoughts are running through his head, but he stays quiet, focusing only on the beautiful creature that stands so painfully close to him.
"The type that I didn't believe in," she corrects, and this time, her voice is cracked, and she's crying. Neville feels a salty tear hit his thumb. He brushes it away lightly, and when she looks up at him, her eyes are glimmering.
"Why do you believe in it now?" He asks, impossibly quietly, yet Luna hears him.
"Because I met you."
And before he can stop himself, he leans down and presses his lips against hers. It's as if a raging volcano is kissing Antarctica. It's powerful and strong and he can feel her cold hands checking his pulse.
He kisses her as he's never kissed anyone before. He kisses her with passion and lust and emotion. The kiss between the strange woman and the mediocre man is not beautiful. It is raw and passionate and needing, and it conveys everything that he cannot bring himself to say.
Luna is crying, more tears slipping silently down her pale cheeks.
She is also smiling.
Neville tucks a stray piece of blonde hair behind her elf-like ear.
"You're perfect, and I need you."
He can't help but help but tell her. She saved him.
Luna blushes under his intense stare.
"I'm remarkably average and you're not. You're special and different and I know that if we get separated I'll never meet anyone else like you. I need you so much but you don't need me," Neville mumbles, turning away. Luna grabs his hand, her long, lavender painted nails digging into the fragile skin of his. He turns around, and he finds himself falling for her all over again.
He needs her. He needs her because she saved him. He was crashing and she caught him and he is so damn lucky that he has her. She is his strange, effervescent, silver lining to a dull life. He is her angel, and, as he soon realizes, his everything. She is exquisite and magical and damn, she is beautiful.
"I need you more than you could ever know," Luna replies, and with a final brush of her lips against the supermarket worker's, she leaves.
And now Neville is alone, with only his thoughts and his plants to keep him company.
He wonders what he's done wrong.
She needs Neville like she needs air and water and shelter. He’s the man that she’s been waiting for. He’s accepting and kind and, quite frankly, she doesn’t know how to live without him.
Her heart hurts.
I am writing you this note to let you know something- I have moved to Bristol. Please don't come looking for me. London wasn't the right place for me.
But you were.
After years of bullying, teasing, harassment, and the death of my parents, you were the light at the end of my tunnel. You think you're average, Neville Longbottom, but you're not. You're brilliant and special and I love you. I will always love you and I will never forget you.
I am in Bristol because you have so much in store. My name is a tainted one, and I could only bring you down. I want you to be the successful man I know that you are.
Perhaps I will find you when the time is right.
You're the only person that I have ever loved.
I cannot imagine a life in which you are not present. I don't know how I lived without you. Somehow, even though it has only been a few weeks since we met, you have become a part of my life that I need and want and love more than anything else.
When I say your name, when I look at your face, when I think about you, I am being tethered to the ground during a raging storm. You have given me laughter and light and love, and on top of that, something to fight for. I have found my other half and now I am leaving. This is the toughest decision I have ever made, but God, I know that it's what has to be done.
I'm letting you go because that's what you need.
I could only tie you down, as I'm sure I've done during our time together.
Know that I'm safe. Know that I have not forgotten our blissful weeks.
Maybe in another world, in another place, in another time, we are somewhere else in those heavens, together.
With all my heart,
Luna folds the tear sodden, crumpled note into a perfect square and slips it under his door.
She knows that he'll find it.
Tears are sliding down her face as she grabs her last bag. She still can't believe she's leaving, but she knows that it's what she has to do.
"One day, I'll find you," she whispers, her soft, melodic voice carrying through the empty hallway of floor seven. She holds back sobs as she climbs into the elevator.
"I'll always find you."
Neville Longbottom walks home from work, his suit slightly crumpled and his stubble all gone. He looks similar, but not the same, as the man that he was a few years back. He’s lost a bit of weight, making him look taller. He’s grown out his hair, and he’s stopped going to the seaside, so he’s paler.
Maybe it’s his demeanor that’s different, though. He no longer slouches, and his clumsiness has greatly reduced. (Don’t worry, it’s still there.) He talks more confidently, and lord knows his grammar has improved.
He moved out of his flat two years ago and now owns a little house in a suburb neighborhood, and he is happy.
He remembers what it was like back when he lived in his little flat, back before Luna showed up and turned everything upside down. It was crammed and sad and a bit depressing, and he wonders if he would still be there now if it hadn’t been for the starry eyed moon he loved so dearly. He wonders where he’d be right now if she had stayed.
When he gets home from work, he sets his briefcase down on the kitchen table, inches away from his new and improved computer, and goes to his kitchen to make coffee. He’s tried making flobber tea, several times, actually, but he can never get the recipe quite right. It’s almost as if it were magical or something.
So when his coffee’s ready, he goes and sits back down at his table, and he closes his eyes, thinking, remembering, smiling.
“Luna Lovegood,” he whispers, his voice carrying through the silent room, “I was lost, but when I met you, I was found.”
He’s moved on. He loves her with all his heart, and he always will. But Luna was an era, a series of perfect, heartbreakingly beautiful moments, and that’s all he needs. He loves the memory of her talking about magic or wearing a giant turtle necklace or knocking at his door.
She has helped him more than words can describe, but he doesn’t need her anymore. She taught him how to fly, and now he’s able to soar without her.
He has a life now. A simple, easy, well-to-do life, and maybe, one day, he’ll get married or have kids. Maybe on day he’ll try to find Luna. But for now, he’s content, and in the end, all is well.
“And all was well.”