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ACT i, CHAPTER i:
CHAPTER ONE: about to bloom
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        HE'S GETTING AWAY, Aurelia's heart is hammering in her chest, she has to stop him. She can't just let the only proof that Sirius is innocent slip away, if she had this chance with her mum, she wouldn't let it slip right through her fingers. Harry, Ron, and Hermione scream at her not to but she doesn't listen and she goes running after Peter Pettigrew who had returned to his Animagus form once more. From behind her, amidst the screams of her friends, she can hear the werewolf snarl and take off after her. Aurelia runs faster, determined to catch Pettigrew while outrunning the werewolf. Then there's another animal snarling and an unfamiliar voice screaming: "SIRIUS, NO!"

 

        There's a loud commotion behind her — Sirius must have turned into his Animagus form to stop Remus, the werewolf, from getting ahold of Aurelia, but she doesn't look back. Aurelia's lost sight of Pettigrew but she keeps running and running because she knows that if she dares slow down for even a moment, that the werewolf behind her will get her. There's a stitch in her side and it hurts to breathe, her heart is beating so hard it feels like someone is playing it like it's a song from that Muggle band, Metallica, but she can't stop running, she can't. Aurelia has to keep running, she's in danger and she'll die if she stops.

 

        As she breathes heavily, she can smell the scent of damp grass, it's overwhelming. Still running, she finds herself swerving through the trees of the Forbidden Forest and she suddenly can't hear the werewolf behind her anymore. She slows down to pull her wand from her waist band, the werewolf seems to have vanished. Aurelia keeps her wand at the ready, her thin fingers gripping the Cypress wood so tightly it's a miracle that it doesn't snap. Then all at once, Aurelia can hear the snapping of branches in front of her and she aims her wand, a whole bunch of defensive spells that she's only read about on the tip of her tongue; she's not dying at the hands of this werewolf — Remus would never forgive himself if she let that happen.

 

        And then, she's attacked from behind, claws dig into her backside as the werwolf swats at her and sends her stumbling into tree with a loud thud. Aurelia is caught of guard, the dark world only illuminated by the taunting full moon, swims around, and she blindly fires a weak Stunning Spell; for her first try at it, it's not so bad. Aurelia tries to get sight of the werewolf but everything is so blurry and —

 

        The carriage comes to a halt, Aurelia blinks and they're at Hogsmeade Station; it hadn't been real. She was only thinking about what happened again. It's been awhile since that had happened but she still keeps thinking about it no matter how hard she tries not to. Every time she thinks about it, it feels so real, it's almost as if it's happening all over again. Although sometimes what had happened changes, Aurelia doesn't realise that until after she's snapped out of her thoughts.

 

Still, the smell of damp grass remains, and it's so overwhelming for some reason that it makes Aurelia's skin crawl. The thought of being pressed into the forest floor, screaming and begging for help as she lies in a pool of her own blood, floods her mind and she grows tense in her spot as her friends get up to leave the carriage. Aurelia blinks again and takes a deep breath, she wishes she could stop thinking about it almost as much as she wishes her friends would just talk about what happened that night instead of tip-toeing around the subject.

 

        Her friends assume that she doesn't want to talk about it because as far as they know it was her father who did this to her ( Remus is technically her godfather and the only father figure she accepts in her life; she doesn't count her biological father for obvious reasons ) ( although up until she was about ten when Remus had first referred to himself as her father figure, she had been mentally referring to him as another mother figure because in her life, that's all she's known ) and obviously that makes the situation worse. It's like they're completely disregarding the fact that Remus had no control over his actions at the time, he was a werewolf. He didn't see the pseudo-daughter that he's known for the past fourteen years because he wasn't Remus, he was the werewolf and all he saw was a victim.

 

        Ron, Harry, and Hermione won't say a word about what happened. They act like they have to walk on eggshells when around her. In reality, all Aurelia wants is for them to talk about it, she just wants to talk about it and then maybe, just maybe Aurelia will finally stop thinking about it all the time.

 

        "You coming, Blue?" Ron asks her and when she looks up at him she sees that he's not looking at her face and so she scowls.

 

        "Go on without me." Aurelia says blankly, "I'm gonna sit with Ellie and Georgie, probably third-wheel those lovesick fools."

 

        Ron wrinkles his nose at the mention of his older brother and his boyfriend "Why would you torture yourself like that?"

 

        "Can't be any worse than being attacked by a werewolf." Aurelia says sarcastically, her three friends, her partners-in-crime, her own make-shift breakfast club, falls silent as they frown at her. It's almost as if they think she's become a whole new person since the werewolf attack happened, she gets them not being able to recognise her because who would with a section of her face looking like she's a Phantom of the Opera rip-off but her cynical sense of humour hadn't changed. But, they act like it had.

 

        "That was a joke, sweet Merlin!" Aurelia exclaims, narrowing her eyes as they start to water. Her face scrunches up and she can feel the scars around her mouth and eye starting to bleed again, "Jesus Christ, why do I even bother?" 

 

        Before Ron, Harry, or even Hermione can say anything, Aurelia storms off calling over her shoulder "I'm going to find my cousin! I'll write to you over the summer!" she doesn't want them thinking she's mad at them because she's not, it's not their fault, really, she knows they mean well but she's just so angry. She's been so mad at everything, sometimes she's mad at nothing in particular but it's the only emotion she can seem to feel nowadays. No matter what she's doing, even if she's having a good day, the feeling of anger is always under her skin, getting ready to bloom.

 

        She needs a break, she needs a change. It's rather ironic how she longs for things to change when she's always been the type of person who unadulteratedly loathed change; she got that from her birth mother. Or perhaps, she wants things to go back to the way they used to be. Maybe, she did change, maybe everything has changed and that's the problem. Aurelia's not really sure what's wrong, if things had changed or if she wants things to changed, it's all been a blur, a fever-dream since she was attacked. It's very rare for her to feel real, to feel alive these days. Aurelia had been through a lot since befriending Harry Potter, the boy who is an orphan thanks to her father, she had faced her father at only eleven-years-old, she had been petrified by a basilisk, and now she had been attacked by a werewolf.

 

        Now, she doesn't blame Harry or any of her friends for what happened, it was her fault and her fault alone, but Aurelia can't help but think that maybe if she would just hang out with literally anyone else, maybe bad things would stop happening to her on a yearly basis. She had been thinking about this a lot since she was attacked, maybe if she just distanced herself a bit then perhaps she'd have a safer time at school. Aurelia didn't know how she would go about doing this because Harry, Ron, and Hermione are her best friends, the group she hung out with constantly; she didn't really have anyone outside of them. She had other friends but not friends that she hung out with, she used to have Ginny but since the Chamber of Secrets thing, Aurelia has been avoiding her — Ginny is the only friend that knows about her being a Riddle. Ginny isn't angry, she isn't even upset and she'd be more than alright to hang out with Aurelia if she wanted to but Aurelia can't find it in herself to talk to Ginny; she feels way too guilty about what happened. And so, outside of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, Aurelia is alone when it comes to friends that can keep her company.

 

        Once Aurelia is all set and boarded on the train, she doesn't go and find Ellie and George like she told her friends she would. She wants to be alone even for just a little while, she'll probably cave and go find her trio of friends halfway through the ride. For now, Aurelia situates herself in an empty compartment and pulls out her sketchbook from her messenger bag, she still had to finish that drawing for her mum. She pulls her hair out of her face, frowning as she recalled she hated the way her thick curls blocked her view — how would she be able to know if someone was coming at her, if her damned cerulean curls are in the way?

 

        She pulls it into a pony with a yellow scrunchie and starts to work on the drawing of the Transfiguration classroom, her mum's favourite classroom. Stray strands of her blue hair fall into her face, tickling her button nose and causing the exposed parts of her scars to itch, her eyes water and she tries hard to ignore it. Aurelia swats the strands of hair away from her face but all they do is fall back into place, tickling and itching and frustrating her. For weeks her hair, her luscious, curly mane of hair has been annoying her to no end. What was once her favourite feature next to her freckles, has become her least favourite one for reasons she cannot explain.

 

        Aurelia growls in annoyance and abandons her half-finished drawing, practically diving for her messenger bag to find the scissors she kept in there — at least she had a pair of scissors in there the last time she checked. Scowling, she thinks that her stupidly long hair has got to go, this way, she'll be able to see better without anything blocking any threats or getting hair in her mouth when she's playing Quidditch.


 

 

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        NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM IS the definition of unlucky or unfortunate. He's not so sure why he's so unlucky because he tries his best at everything he does but nothing ever seems to go his way, his third year at Hogwarts had been his worse by far. He had let a mass murderer into his own common room, he didn't mean to, really, he just couldn't remember all the changing passwords for the common room and his only solution was writing them down to memorise them. Although he has a history of losing things and being beyond clumsy, he had never expected to lose the list nor had he expected the list to end up in the hands off the notorious mass murderer, Sirius Black.

 

        His gran was bloody pissed, she had sent a Howler, yelling at him for his clumsiness and now he was going home to face her lecture over again in person; his gran doesn't let things go. At first his dorm mates, namely Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas, as Harry and Ron tended to keep to themselves, told him not to worry about and Neville listened to their advice at first but now it's the end of the school year and he has no other option but to worry about it. He'd be facing his grandmother quite soon and if he was being honest, he's not sure if he's ready for that. The Howler was bad enough.

 

        Neville sits by himself in a compartment, reading a book about Muggle plants, he enjoyed the quiet. He couldn't find where Dean and Seamus were sitting, they were probably somewhere with Ginny or that Hufflepuff girl, Olivia Newton and wherever those two were it was bound to be extremely loud. So, he opted out with sitting by himself this train ride, to think about what he was going to say to his gran to keep her berating to a minimum. It had to be only half an hour into the train ride when his compartment door slides open, Neville looks up and frowns because he sees Pollux Black standing their with his little Slytherin crew.

 

        Pollux Black happens to be the son of Neville's favourite professor at Hogwarts — Adelpha Black, a kind and very pretty woman but unfortunately Pollux happens to be the complete opposite of his mother, although he is rather pretty. He's an absolute menace, Neville's pretty certain that he doesn't have a kind bone in his body, he's seen Pollux be rude to his own little sister, Aurelia Black — who's a complete angel and anyone that could be rude to her must be soulless. Pollux loves to torment Neville, of course, anyone is fair game to Pollux, even his family and fellow house members, but Neville is rather certain that he is a personal favourite of his targets.

 

        "Well, look what we have here lads." Pollux says, grinning smugly as his four friends snickers, "An empty compartment!"

 

        Neville sighs tiredly, knowing that within the next five minutes he's going to be kicked out of his compartment, he tucks his book into his suitcase before Pollux can ruin it. Neville gets to his feet just as Pollux barks out: "Get lost, Squibbottom."

 

        Neville flinches at the name and Pollux laughs loudly "Aw, did I hurt your feelings? Too bad, you should've thought about that before you sat in our compartment."

 

        "I was — I was here first." Neville says, his quiet and timid voice shaking.

 

        Pollux and his friends laughs, Pollux mocks his voice in a higher pitch then flatly says: "Get out."

 

        Neville grabs his stuff as quickly as he can, apparently it's not as quickly as Pollux wants, because the older boy begins counting up to something — a punch, a hex, an insult? Neville wasn't sure what it would be but he wanted to be out of that compartment before Pollux finished counting. Their laughter gets louder as Neville struggles to get his stuff together, the louder their laughter gets the harder the task at hand gets, his hands start to sweat and his heart starts to race and Pollux is already at five —

 

        Something loud crashes onto the ground and Neville yelps, Pollux and his friends laugh loudly and then there's the dreaded sound of the monster book that Hagrid had given them for Care for Magical Creatures class. Professor Black had told Neville that she didn't want to use those books but she had wanted to give Hagrid, who's now her partner, some control over the class. Neville hated those books and they hated him.

 

        The next thing Neville knows, he's been attacked by the rapid book, his robes getting shredded yet again, he screams and runs out of the compartment. One of Pollux's friends grabs the book before it can get out of the compartment, then another shoves his stuff out of the compartment.

 

        "I hope you've learned your lesson, Squibbottom!" Pollux snarls before slamming the compartment door shut.

 

        Neville sighs tiredly again, it could've been a lot worse, but Pollux is still a huge git. Picking up his stuff, Neville starts trudging down the train hallway, looking for somewhere else to sit. He hopes to find another empty compartment that way no one will ask about his shredded robes but as he walks further and further down the hallway, it seems that all the compartments are filled up.

 

        He's about ten or more compartments away from Pollux and his little group when he hears the sound of crying, Neville stops dead in his tracks and looks into the closest open compartment. It's most empty save for Aurelia Black, who is sobbing and having trouble breathing, Neville frowns as he watches her struggle to cut her hair.

 

        Her normally pale face is blotchy and red, there's make-up smeared around her eyes and the scars she had recently received from Professor Lupin, are bleeding. Neville's frown deepens as concern washes over him, although he and Aurelia aren't exactly friends, he's always felt rather connected to her. As Seamus and Dean say, he's absolutely whipped for her, Neville has had a crush on her since first year when she gave him a big hug and a kiss on the cheek for doing nothing but giving Harry and Ron a Chocolate Frog card.

 

        He stands in the compartment doorway, feeling very awkward, he wants to say something, offer some comfort but the words are stuck in his throat. Neville isn't sure how long he stands in that compartment doorway, staring at her and trying to figure out what to say but Aurelia notices him first thanks to her black cat, who meows loudly at Neville until she looks up.

 

        Aurelia drops the scissors in surprise, her green eyes going wide and then she smiles at him and Neville melts; she has the prettiest smile. "Oh, Plant Boy, 'ello there!"

 

        Neville frowns slightly because, of course, she doesn't know his name then he shyly says: "Hi, Aurelia."

 

        Aurelia flashes him a flustered smile, looking him over. She had always been rather awkward around him because she remembers him but he doesn't remember her — damned, her bloody good memory! Neville Longbottom is a pudgy Gryffindor who has the worst luck, Aurelia had only interacted with him a handful of times and all of those interactions, when she looks back on them, make her cringe. They had know each other as babies, and Aurelia remembers that very well for a baby but a whole bunch of unfortunate shit happened and now they're barely acquaintances.

 

        "Do — do you need anything?" Aurelia asks, sniffling. She prays that he doesn't need another bandage and if he does, she needs to remember not to kiss it better once the bandaid is on — that's so weird!

 

        Neville's mouth runs dry and he gestures to his robes and his stuff but the explanation doesn't fall from his mouth, she stares at him and then nods understandingly before giving him a crooked grin.

 

        "Ya know, Plant Boy, most people cut their hair during mental breakdowns and not their robes." Aurelia says teasingly.

"It was that monster book! It hates me!" Neville exclaims finally, he flinches because he said that way too loudly.

 

"Well, if you were going to cut your robes of all things then perhaps you should've used scissors, they work a shit ton better." Aurelia says, still in a teasing voice.

 

        "Oh, yeah, how's that working out for you?" Neville says, his voice tinged in light sarcasm and then he clamps his hands over his mouth. He hadn't meant to say that out loud, he just got so excited that she's actually having a conversation with him, it just slipped out.

 

        Thankfully, Aurelia laughs, and she laughs loudly and joyfully. Her green eyes twinkling as she gestures for him to come into her compartment, Neville doesn't hesitate. He practically throws himself into the compartment, grinning like a fool.

 

        "It's not going very well." Aurelia admits sheepishly, "Not as well as I planned. I thought it'd be easy to do — easier than using my Metamorphmagus abilities. There's too much concentration involved in keeping it as short as I want it, trust me, it never stays — I can't concentrate anymore — not since, well . . . Never mind that, now what made you, uh, open that monster book to get these snazzy robes?"

 

        Neville turns even more red, if that's even possible, he doesn't want to tell her that it was her brother who did this to him "Do you want me to help — er, with your hair, I mean? I can cut it for you?"

 

        As if she would trust you, Neville-can't-do-anything-right-Longbottom, with such a delicate thing, Neville scolds himself for even asking, you shouldn't be allowed to talk to her, honestly, just leave before you make things worse!

 

        Aurelia's eyes light up and she smiles wide "Would you really — you don't mind, Plant Boy?"

 

        "Er, it's Neville, my name's Neville —"

 

        "I know!"

 

        "You — you do?"

 

        Aurelia gives him an incredulous look "O' course, I know your name! I give everyone I like nicknames, I mean, if you don't like it then I won't —"

 

        "No, no, I — I like it, I just thought you called me that because you didn't know my name. You can call me Plant Boy, all you want, I — I don't mind."

 

        Aurelia grins at him, feeling more flustered than she ever had in her entire life, she turns to look out the window to compose herself. Neville holds back a giggle as he sees that half her hair had been cut to her shoulders already where as the rest of it was still at its' normal length.

 

        "Do — do you actually want me to help with your hair?" Neville asks shyly.

 

        "Oh, aye, if you don't mind that is." Aurelia says, just as shyly as him, what is going on with her? Why doesn't she know how to act around him, after all, she's technically known him longer than any of her other friends.

 

        "I don't mind, not at all — Sunflower Girl!" Neville says, beaming proudly for coming up with that nickname even if it isn't the most original one.

 

        Aurelia blushes like mad, she hands him the scissors and grins "Go crazy, Plant Boy."

 

 


 

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        AURELIA STEPS OFF the Hogwarts Express and onto Platform 9 and 3/4, her hair that once reached her lower back now hardly reaches her shoulders. There are three Scooby-Doo bandaids on her face, Neville had put them on when he had pointed out that she was bleeding, Aurelia is beaming because she's made a new friend. Or rather, she reconnected with an old friend that doesn't remember her because they were babies and babies typically should have shit memory but she is an exception. Either way, Aurelia feels happier than she had in a long time, and she hopes that this means things are going to get better soon.

 

        They had spent the entire train ride together, it's the first time Aurelia had spent that long of a time away from her three friends while at still technically at school. And, Aurelia loves her trio of troublemaking friends, she really does, but it was kind of refreshing hanging out with someone else. Neville and herself had gotten to know each other quite well in the short time they spent together and Aurelia regrets not talking to him sooner; he had turned into an amazing kid just like her mums had always said he would.

 

        And he had done a splendid job on her hair, it wasn't straight or nicely cut but it looked great on her. Neville had apologised profusely about it, believing that he had done a shit job on it but she had assured him that she loved it and she really did, it made her look like she good be the lead singer of a rock band. "Move over, Green Day." She had said when she looked at her reflection in the window but Neville didn't understand that reference and she couldn't explain it to him because she doesn't know much about Green Day expect for what her dorm mate, Olivia Newton, says. All, Aurelia really knows is that they're a Muggle band, she's not even sure if they play rock music.

 

        The two of them are saying their goodbyes before the leave for summer holiday, Neville's gran was waiting for him and she didn't look happy to see him with her and Aurelia's one aunt was waiting for her as well, she looked happy to see Aurelia with Neville together. Aurelia gives Neville a goodbye hug and before she has time to realise that she never asked if he was okay with that or not — some people, namely her older brother, didn't like being hugged unless they had a five minute warning first — Neville's hugging her back.

 

        "You're actually going to write to me this summer?" Neville asks after they pull away from the hug, he looks rather uncertain as he fumbles with his Gryffindor sweater.

 

        Aurelia nods her head and grins "O' Course, Plant Boy! After all friends that help cut each other's hair during mental breakdowns stay together!"

 

        "But, you didn't cut my hair." Neville says, as if that's going to completely call of their newfound friendship.

 

        She almost laughs but, he's serious, he's actually concerned that she won't stick to her word. There's a fluttering feeling in her stomach, he wants to be her friend that bad — even with her scars and bitter attitude. Her cheeks grow warm and she reaches into her cluttered messenger bag to grab the scissors they had used to cut her hair and she pulls them out. Neville gives her a quizzical look and she tells him to stay still, he does as she tells him, going as still as a statue.

 

        He continues to look at her with that cute quizzical look on his round face as she reaches forward and grabs a lock of his light brown hair, then she snips a little bit of it off. Aurelia than ruffles it so that it won't be all that noticeable, she shoots him a lopsided grin "There, now I've cut your hair. My motto remains in tact, Plant Boy, I'll be writing to you this summer indefinitely."

 

        Neville grins shyly at her, his chubby cheeks a vibrant red as he fumbles with his sweater "I'll — I'll hold you to it, Sunflower Girl."


 



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━━ AUTHOR'S NOTE:


 

LISTEN!!! I am THRIVING writing this version of Neville x Aurelia,,, they are the softest yet!!! I have always imagined Aurelia as the cynical and sarcastic one in their relationship and Neville is the ray of sunshine, happy-go-lucky one but I've done a horrible job at portraying it in the past versions of this story!!! I also think it's very fitting to portray them like this because everyone outside of their relationship describes them as the opposite — Aurelia would be the sunshine, happy-go-lucky one and Neville is the pessimistic one!! I'm just so happy with this version of them!! I hope you are too, let me know what you thought of it in the comments!!!

 

I need a ship name for them — I came up with Nevari but like I don't really like that one so I'm thinking of changing it but I suck at ship names, so if you have any ideas let me know!!!

 

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