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Seventh year Hogwarts pupils were difficult. They were full of raging hormones, a new found confidence, and a belief that they were better than everyone else in the school because they were oldest. The NEWT year Herbology students were a particularly difficult bunch, forever assuring their teacher that of course they could easily harvest the fruit of the Baneberry Bush: a promise which usually ended in students being taken to the Hospital Wing covered in angry purple boils.

Neville Longbottom gave a small sigh as he saw the first of the Seventh Years trudging across the grass towards greenhouse eight, the rain pelting them and the wind sending their cloaks and the girls’ hair flying behind them wildly. He knew that five minutes of his lesson would already be wasted with them casting drying spells on one another, and complaining about having to cross the grounds in order to reach their first lesson of the day.

Enjoying his last few moments of solitude before he would be joined by the group of teenagers, Neville looked around at the plants in his favourite of the eight greenhouses. He had worked at Hogwarts now for five years and still couldn’t quite believe his luck. Every day he got to teach the next generation about Srivelfigs and Snarfalumps, Fluxweed and Foxglove: all of the magical plants he had loved since he had been studying at Hogwarts. He had spent just two years travelling, and learning more about the different plants the wizarding world had, before being asked by his old head of house to come and fill the vacancy left in light of Professor Sprout’s retirement.

He stood at the head of the long wooden table that ran through the centre of the classroom and looked down at the plant they would be studying that lesson; the Mimbulus Mimbletonia. There were younger versions of the plant placed along the table but this particular one in front of Neville was his own. It was the first plant he had ever owned, and now, eleven years later, he still had it.

A clattering sound from behind him made Neville jump a little, pulling him from his fond thoughts and into the noisy reality of his lesson.

“…absolutely shocking!” the shrill voice of Ravenclaw Daria Goldbar said, breaking the silence in the room. “Why on earth they insist on having the greenhouses so far away from the castle is beyond me. I mean, just look at my hair. Look at it!”

“Personally, I think it’s a vast improvement, I like the way it covers your face,” the drawl of Bobby Delamore quipped back at her with a roll of his eyes.

She shot him a glare and took out her wand, fixing her hair and her soaked robes with a few waves of her wand. The others mimicked her actions, including Bobby. As predicted, it took Neville at least five minutes to get them to settle and sit at their stools around the long table.

There were twelve students in his NEWT class; five Gryffindors, two Slytherins, four Ravenclaws, and only one Hufflepuff; seven boys and five girls. They were an intelligent group when Neville could control their over-confidence; all twelve were set to get at least an ‘Exceeds Expectations’ in their final NEWT exams which would take place in just over two months. He hope they would pay close attention today: the Mimbulus Mimbletonia would most certainly come up in both the practical and written exams.

“Okay, class,” he began, “you should all recognise the plant in front of you. We covered this briefly last year, can anyone tell me the name?” 

He smiled when all twelve hands were raised, and again when the correct answer was given by one of the Slytherin boys.

“Excellent, the Mimbulus Mimbletonia, a particular favourite of mine-“

“Sir?” the same Slytherin boy who had answered his question interrupted. “Sir, is it true your one got Stinksap all over Harry Potter?”
Neville chuckled. It would never fail to amaze him that students had the power to gain information about almost anything.

“How do you know that?” he asked the boy.

“I knew it was true! My mum works at the Ministry with Cho Chang, she said she was there and saw it happen!”

Neville simply laughed again and took his wand from his robes. He asked the students to step back from the table before taking several strides backwards. He pointed his wand at the huge grey cactus and shot a spell at it. The second the spell hit, the boils covering the plant erupted and the foul smelling, dark green liquid burst out covering the table and some of the floor in front of Neville.
A chorus of complaints broke out from the students as soon as the smell hit them, so Neville quickly cleared the mess up with a single wave of his wand.  He stepped back towards the plant and rested his hand on the top of it, to which it responded with a soft crooning sound.
“Now,” he said a little loudly to regain the attention of the class, “your task for today, is to find a safe way to collect the Stinksap. It’s extremely useful in magical medicine and potion-making and the Hogwarts supply is running low. Use your textbooks and those on the shelves if you need to. It’s not poisonous so gloves are not necessary but recommended as if the Stinksap isn’t washed off your hands quickly, it can hang around. There are several ways to do it and you will need to write a foot of parchment on the ways so use this time wisely please.”
He watched as the students immediately started on their task, with only a little reluctance from some of the girls. The only Hufflepuff in the class, a timid girl called Annabel Lewisham headed straight to the large cupboard in the corner of the room and grabbed a handful of glass bottles, a knife, and a bag containing dried Puffapod leaves. She took them back to her seat next to Bobby and set them down in front of her.

Bobby looked at her unusual set of equipment and laughed, before turning back to his own plant. He swiped one of the bottles from Annabel and prodded one of the boils sharply with his wand, immediately covering the pair in the green pus. Bobby yelled loudly whilst his peers laughed at him, Annabel simply sighed and took her wand out of her Stinksap-covered school bag. She turned to Bobby, who was now frantically trying to rub the goo from his face.

“Bobby, stay still,” Annabel told him calmly.

“’Stay still’?! I’m trying to get this stuff off me!”

“So am I. Just stop moving a sec.”

He lowered his hands, if only to stare at the girl incredulously. She raised her wand in response and waved it first over him, then herself, and finally the table and their belongings. The Stinksap disappeared, leaving just a slight lingering smell.

“Thanks,” Bobby mumbled sheepishly.

Annabel nodded and Neville watched on as the quiet girl began to show Bobby what she had intended to do with the things she had collected from the cupboard. Neville, of course, had known immediately that one of the ways to collect the Stinksap was to rub the dried Puffapod leaves over the boils: they acted as a sedative on the plant and allowed a person to safely burst the boils and collect the liquid.

As he watched the pair, Neville couldn’t help but be reminded of his own days at school; for Annabel was exactly like Hannah Abbott. Like Annabel, Hannah was kind and patient; a typical Hufflepuff student. And, like Annabel, Hannah was helpful to her peers, regardless of who it was. Neville couldn’t count the number of times she had helped him in Transfiguration when Professor McGonagall hadn’t been looking.

He had seen Hannah occasionally since they had both left Hogwarts. She had taken a job at the Leaky Cauldron and now helped an aging Tom to manage the place, which had become a lot brighter since she had started working there. She always made time for a friendly chat with Neville when he had been passing through the pub to go to Diagon Alley, or met up there with old friends to have a drink. Neville thought very highly of Hannah, and had always thought she was very pretty. Of course, he knew she would never agree to go out with him, and so he had never asked.

It wasn’t that he had never dated; he had been out with a handful of girls but most of them had just wanted to meet the man who had chopped off the head of Voldemort’s snake.  Neville had always ended the nights feeling disappointed, and as though he had disappointed them. He wasn’t a handsome war hero like Harry was, and he had always thought Hannah would never settle for him. He longed to find a nice girl to settle down with. His friends were all married now and having children, and though Neville was happy for them, he couldn’t help but feel jealous.

Now, however, Neville was starting to change his mind. The kind student in his NEWT class had made him think differently, if she could help out a frankly rotten boy who had covered her in Stinksap and not even apologised, maybe Hannah would agree to go on a date with him. By the end of the lesson (which had ended with fourteen bottles of successfully extracted Stinksap), Neville had made up his mind: he was going to ask Hannah on a date.

As soon as he had finished his lessons for the day, Neville returned to his teacher’s sleeping quarters where he lived throughout the school year, showered and changed into fresh robes. He ate dinner with his colleagues and students before returning to his room and using his personal fireplace to travel to the Leaky Cauldron.

The wizarding pub was a lot more warm and welcoming now, having been given a thorough clean and spruce-up. The windows were clear of their previous grime that had been so thick that little daylight could break through it, the floor was no longer dusty, and the décor had been updated.

Neville stepped out of the fireplace and brushed the floo dust from his robes before approaching the bar. He saw Hannah before she saw him and he took a few moments to find his bravery that seemed to have been lost in the floo network somewhere. She wore a set of pale yellow robes that brightened the pub even more and matched the girl’s sunny disposition. Her blonde hair was tied up in her usual ponytail, with a large daisy clipped to it. She finished serving a bearded wizard at the opposite end of the bar before turning around and seeing Neville.

“Neville!” She beamed at him as she walked over and he sat himself on one of the stools at the bar.

“Hi, Hannah,” he mumbled shyly.

“Glass of elderflower wine?” she asked him, pulling a wine glass down from the shelf above the bar.

He nodded and felt an increase in his confidence at the fact that she knew his preferred drink. He ignored the voice in his head that told him it was her job to know. She handed him the glass and he gave her a galleon and told her to get a drink for herself with his change. She poured another glass of the wine, glanced down the bar to check there were no more customers to serve, and then turned back to him.

“So, how are things at Hogwarts? I really miss that place sometimes, it feels like just yesterday we started there.”

“I know,” he agreed. “Things are great, though McGonagall has just told us she’s retiring at the end of this school year.”

“That’s a shame, though she is getting on a bit isn’t she? I wonder who they’ll get to replace her.”
“No idea, though Professor Binns reckons he’s in with a shot. He thinks he’ll get it because there’s no risk of him ever retiring.”

Hannah laughed loudly. “Oh, dear. I’d hate to be the one to tell him no!”

Neville nodded and took a sip of his wine.

“So, what brings you here alone on a Tuesday night Neville? Are you meeting someone?” Hannah asked.

“No!” he replied too quickly. “I just fancied a drink, that’s all. Stressful day, you know?” he laughed nervously and she raised an eyebrow at him as though she knew he was lying. Neville took a deep breath and mentally scolded himself for being a coward.

“Actually, there was a reason I came here today,” he confessed. “See, I was teaching my NEWT class today, and there’s this girl, Annabel, and she reminds me of you. She’s a Hufflepuff, she’s really quiet, sometimes so quiet I forget she’s there, but she’s really clever and kind…” he trailed off and blushed.

“Go on,” Hannah told him with a grin.

“Well, like I said, she reminded me of you, she’s just like you were at Hogwarts. So I got to thinking about you, and I realised I do it a lot…think about you.” 

“You do?” Hannah asked.

“Yes, and I was wondering, I mean, if you’re free some time-any time-would you like to go out for a drink with me?”

“I-“ Hannah began but Neville interrupted her.
“What am I thinking? You work in a pub, of course you wouldn’t want to get a drink. Especially not with me. Forget I asked. I’ll just go.” He pulled a handful of change from his pocket and put it on the bar, forgetting he had already paid for their drinks, and quickly headed for the fireplace extremely red-faced.

“Neville, wait!” Hannah’s voice shouted as he prepared to throw the green powder into the flames. He turned to face her but averted his gaze to the floor.

“Neville,” she said again, softly this time. He finally looked up. “I’d love to go for a drink with you. This Saturday?”

“Hannah, its fine, I don’t need a sympathy date.” He tried to smile bravely at her.

“Neville Longbottom!” she scolded. “I would never waste a rare Saturday night off on a sympathy date. You asked me on a date and I’m accepting, don’t you dare back out on me. What ever happened to Gryffindor bravery?” She poked him hard in the chest.

“Ow! What ever happened to Hufflepuff kindness?” he replied, rubbing the sore spot on his chest.

She giggled. “I’m sorry, let’s put that one down to Hufflepuff determination? So, Saturday?” she asked.
“Saturday,” he confirmed.


A/N Hello, dear readers! This was written for a challenge on the forums. The second part of this story is called 'It's a Date' by LilyFire and is wonderful. Asalways, reviews are appreciated! 

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