Summary: Hannah has always felt invisible, so she feels drawn to the boy who doesn't fit in with the rest of his loud housemates. Written for Fic Challenge #30: Friends or lovers from two different houses (also for June's Character Bingo).
Characters/Pairings: Hannah Abbott/Neville Longbottom
Word Count: 1,304
Can the Order post to Tumblr?: No, thanks :)
Hannah Abbott knew what it was like to feel invisible. She was in Hufflepuff house, of course, and who ever thought much of them? She wasn't fooling herself- she knew exactly what the other students thought of her house. They were the ones to ask if you needed help on your homework (but only if the Ravenclaws were busy, because they were the smart ones). The ones to sit with at lunch if you were having a row with your mates (but you'd always return to your normal spot once the fight was over and go back to pretending you didn't know any of the duffers in Hufflepuff). The ones who would always be the last to leave a meeting, or party, or class, because they would be helping clean up. But they weren't the ones you would bring with you on an impromptu trip into the Forbidden Forest. Or on a clandestine trip to Hogsmeade to pick up Firewhiskey for your party. Hannah knew that to the rest of Hogwarts, she and the other Hufflepuffs were not smart, not brave, and not cunning. They were just the leftovers.
As a naturally shy girl, it never bothered her much, always finding herself on the outside of the popular social circles. She liked not having a lot of attention on herself. Personally, she thought that it would be exhausting being someone like Harry Potter, having everyone watching and analyzing your every move. And, she would admit, she was guilty of that too. Sometimes she found herself watching Harry and the other Gryffindors like they were one of the programs she used to watch on her mother's Muggle television set. Everything they did begged you to watch, to feel envy at their exciting lives.
And so Neville Longbottom first caught her eye because he was the exact opposite of most of the people in his house. He was awkward and gangly, usually embarrassed himself in one way or another (especially during Potions class), and was always needing extra help with spells. But he was also sweet and kind, as Hannah had found out, quite by accident, having run into him in a corridor in their first year.
She had been lost, having made a wrong turn trying to avoid Peeves on her way to Herbology. She was starting to panic, her pulse beating quicker and quicker and her hands growing clammy. She hated to be late, especially to Professor Sprout's class. She knew it would be embarrassing for her house if she were to show up late in front of her Head of House.
She was on the verge of tears when she heard footsteps behind her.
"Hey, are you alright?"
Hannah looked up to see that gangly boy she had been watching the last few weeks. "Oh, hi," she stammered, trying not to sound as though she were about to cry. "I'm a bit lost. I tried to take a shortcut on the way to the greenhouses and well..." she waved her arms vaguely, as if to say and here I am!
The boy grinned at her. "Trying to avoid Peeves?"
"Yes! Yesterday he dumped a whole box of chalk on me. Everyone was calling me a ghost for the rest of the day."
He laughed. "I saw him with a big stack of books, so I took this shortcut too. You're actually not too far- I can walk with you and show you to the greenhouses, if you want. I have a free period now but I was going to go talk to Professor Sprout today anyways. Herbology is the only class I'm not a failure at, so she sometimes lets me help her with the plants."
"That would be great, thank you so much!"
"Not a problem. I'm Neville, by the way. Neville Longbottom."
"Hannah Abbott," she replied with a smile.
After that day, Hannah had always made a point to say hello to Neville in the halls, or pair up with him in lessons if no one else did (which sadly happened a lot). She didn't like how some of the other students made fun of him, especially the Slytherins. Her mother had always told her to look for ways to help others, and so she was always looking to help Neville.
Over the years, he had grown into his gangly height, lost the buck teeth, and gained popularity as a member of the D.A. This year, with Harry and his friends gone from school, Neville had become the leader of the D.A., and was one of the most popular students in the school, always standing up to the Carrows' prejudice against Muggles. He didn't need Hannah to help him anymore, and she found that this realization made her sad. At some point, without her knowing, what started as befriending a boy who also felt invisible had become something stronger. He was more than a friend to her, and his absence left her with an aching loneliness.
"Hey, Hannah, wait up!"
Hannah turned at the sound of that familiar voice and saw Neville jogging towards her. "Hi Neville," she said with a smile. "How are you?" She hadn't talked to him much in the past few weeks and found herself almost anxious to see him.
"I'm good, thanks. I'm sorry I've been so busy lately and haven't been able to talk to you. How did your Potions exam go?"
"It went well, thanks. I'm surprised you remembered."
He looked at her oddly. "Of course I did." He paused for a moment, staring down at something on his shoe. "I uh, wanted to talk to you about something. Are you going on the next Hogsmeade weekend?"
Hannah shrugged. "Ernie, Justin, Susan, and I always go shopping and have lunch at the Broomsticks. I don't really need to buy anything but it's kind of a tradition so I guess I'll be going. Why?"
Neville's cheeks turned pink. "Well I was hoping you would come with me instead of your housemates. I mean, just you and me. You know, like a date?" His voice trailed off uncertainly.
Hannah felt a fluttering sensation in her stomach and her grin grew wider. "Really? I thought Mr. D.A. president would rather take someone popular, not a random Hufflepuff," she laughed, trying to sound more confident than she really felt.
Neville frowned at this. "I don't think you're random. And as for those 'popular girls', they only think I'm interesting since we've been fighting back against the Carrows. But you're different."
Hannah cocked her head to the side. "Different? Different how?"
He gave her a small smile. "You've always noticed. You've always been nice, helping me and partnering me while everyone else would just laugh at me, ever since first year. With you it wasn't like I was just hiding in Harry's shadow all these years."
"Of course I noticed. You were so different from the rest of your house. I've always liked you because you didn't change to be like them. You stayed the same sweet boy that helped me find my way to Herbology that one day."
"Is that a yes then? I mean, since you said you've always liked me?" Neville asked with a nervous laugh.
Hannah felt her cheeks grow even hotter, but she fought the urge to step back into the comfort of the shadows. She stood on her tiptoes and leaned in to give him a kiss on the cheek. "Yes."
They walked off down the corridor together, hand in hand, each with a matching silly grin on their face. Dozens of their classmates walked by and most didn't notice anything at all, just some no-name girl walking with the Longbottom boy. But Hannah was happy to feel invisible, to have this moment with Neville all to herself.
1304/30 +5 = 48 points for Hufflepuff!