scarlet_malfoy: (witty - being vague)
posted by [personal profile] scarlet_malfoy at 04:32pm on 03/03/2009
Title: The Cure For The Common Crush
Author: [ profile] scarlet_malfoy
Recipient: [ profile] coffee_n_cocoa
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: 9,800
Warnings: Top!Neville, Against-the-wall sex, not so vanilla bed sex, first time, hurt/comfort, UST, flangst, happy ending, frottage, RIMMING, kissing, stubble, plot, tender loving sex, and EWE.
Summary: Neville/Draco. Neville is the herbology professor at Hogwarts, and Draco is trying to open up his own potions business, but the Ministry keeps trying to pull the plug on him. He comes to Neville for help... and ends up getting that, plus a little more than he bargained for.
Disclaimers: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Notes: Thanks SO MUCH to [ profile] dark_branwen, my amazing beta, for doing this last minute and being absolutely the greatest! This was my first time writing a ship outside my own OTP, and it's been quite an experience! I've really enjoyed writing this story for you, [ profile] coffee_n_cocoa, and I hope that you enjoy it, too! (All the things included in the warning are all the prompts of yours that I managed to work in!) <3


The Cure For The Common Crush


That night.

"You'll never guess who came into my office this morning," Neville said a moment after sitting down across from Seamus and Dean at the Three Broomsticks.

Seamus gave Neville a look, and Dean erupted into a fit of bass-endowed giggles.

"Oh, come off it.... What are you, twelve?" Neville said, grinning despite himself. Hannah Abbott caught his eye from the bar and winked as Neville graciously motioned for another round. "No, Draco Malfoy certainly did not come in my office this morning, thank you very much."

"Oh." Seamus made a face as if he'd just eaten a sour grape. "That's one image I could have done without. Did you really have to say it like that, all out loud and everything?"

Dean clapped Seamus lightly on the back. "You were kind of asking for it, mate."

Seamus nodded reluctantly before speaking again. "You know I'd approve of just about any other bloke coming in your office, Nev. No hard feelings."

"Yeah, 'course. Thanks," Neville said, reddening because Hannah had arrived with the drinks, and from the look on her face, she had most definitely overheard. She stood frozen in place, staring at Neville for a moment before placing the tray on the table and turning without a word. Neville watched her go with his mouth pressed into a thin line, making a note to reimburse her at the end of the night and to give her a nice tip, as well.

"Poor little lass. Still not over you, is she?" Seamus said without much sympathy.

Neville took a long drink before responding. "Dunno, but she doesn't deserve to have it rubbed in her face like that."

Seamus spluttered. "I didn't know she was standing right behind me!"

"I wasn't blaming you, it's just... it's unfortunate." Neville sighed. He really did feel horrible for the way things had ended between himself and Hannah Abbott. It couldn't have been easy hearing that her boyfriend of seven months was actually into blokes and had never really been attracted to her in that way. Neville thought he had been more upset delivering the news than she had been upon hearing it, and in the end they had been able to salvage a small semblance of friendship.

Till now, apparently.

Clearing his throat, Dean changed the subject. "Anyway. What the hell was Malfoy doing in your office this morning, then?"

Neville grinned, thankful at least one of his friends knew how to employ a bit of tact. "Malfoy had a really delicate plant that he wanted me to look after for him."

"Tell me you said no and kicked his poncey arse, for the love of Merlin!" Seamus pleaded with bulging eyes. After a moment, he rolled them. "What am I saying? Of course you didn't!"

"Didn't do that," Neville agreed. "He's paying me to do it, and it's for a good -"

"You're whoring yourself out to Malfoy?!?"

Neville narrowed his eyes. "I'm offering my services as the school herbology professor to Malfoy, who really... isn't the same at all," Neville mused. "He was all business and polite even."

"That doesn't sound like Malfoy to me," Dean said. "I haven't heard anything about him for a couple of years, at least. What's he up to? "

Seamus looked round at his best friend. "You haven't heard about the dodgy little potions shop he's opening up in the Alley? I can't believe the nerve he's got.... It'll be out of business before you can say Merlin's balls, it will."

"That's not very fair," Neville said, setting his drink down on the table in front of him. "Did you know he's trying to develop a cure for the common cold?" Seamus started to laugh, and Neville sighed again but continued. "He really is! I'm convinced he's on to something, too. He even admitted to being complete rubbish at herbology. I'm really quite glad to help."

"Why're you so glad, Neville? He was nothing but a prick to you in school. The worst kind of arse! I would have kicked him out!" Seamus drained his pint, and seemed to be about to motion to Hannah to bring another round before thinking better of it.

"You would have done that, Seamus. But you're a bastard, aren't you?" Dean said, tone friendly.

"If that makes me a bastard, then I'm damn well a bastard. Nev, you can't just let him walk all over you."

"But he's not -"

"Whatever. You're deluded. Unless... unless." Seamus rose an eyebrow at Neville. "Unless..."

"Unless what?" Neville demanded.

"You think Malfoy's hot, don't you?"

Dean choked on his beer, and Neville's jaw dropped. "What? Of course I don't think he's hot! That's just..."

"Oh. Oh, I'm so right, aren't I? I'm dead right!" Seamus looked excited for several seconds before the sour grape look returned. "But Neville, it's Malfoy! He's a pointy, poncey git! You can't like him – that would be sacrilegious!"

"I don't like -"

"It would be breaking your moral Gryffindor code of honor!"

"My... my what?" Neville shook his head, turning to Dean with pleading eyes. Dean just shook his head with a slight smile and a shrug.

"Okay, this is ridiculous. I'm sorry I even brought it up. Changing topics!" Neville declared with forced cheer. "How was your day, Dean?"

Neville's friends shared a mirrored glance before Dean responded, as if they were agreeing to drop it for the time being. Neville knew they would talk about it later after he had gone back to the castle. It was almost inevitable, seeing as Neville nearly always was the first to call it a night.

He had felt a bit like the fifth wheel all his life in that regard, what with Dean and Seamus and then Harry and Ron being the ultimate dream teams of the school. But he had grown used to it; he didn't think he would even know how to go about sharing a knowing glance with someone. He wasn't sure he had the capacity to open up that deeply.

But at that moment in time, listening to Dean ramble on for a change about his new apprenticeship, Neville wished there were a fourth person at their table, someone's eyes he could look into for just a moment and have them know without a doubt what he was thinking.

Because it was true. Who was he kidding? He really did think Draco Malfoy was hot.

He thought about Malfoy's plant, which was sitting on his bedside table in case anything was to go awry. He hadn't been kidding when he'd spoken of its delicacy. The urge to get home and check on it was strong, but he forced himself to banter back and forth with his friends for a while longer. It would still be there, dark tendrils spiraling upward and shrouded in the complete darkness of his bedroom when he got home.


The morning before.

"I'll be right with you!" Neville shouted through the closed door that sectioned off his living space from his office in greenhouse number four. He'd been in the middle of buttoning up his shirt when the bell had tinkled, signaling someone's entrance into the office. Neville was surprised, as he rarely had visitors on the weekends, and certainly no student would be visiting him so early. He had been waiting for a student with a real aptitude for herbology to come along, one that would feel it their duty to pester him incessantly on the subject even early on Saturday mornings, but as it was his first year teaching, he hadn't come across one just yet.

Neville glanced at himself in the mirror attached to the back of his door to make sure he hadn't forgotten anything - like trousers or a quick comb through his usual bed-head - but everything seemed to be in order. He turned the doorknob and the door swung open with its usual squeak as he stepped into his office.

It and his living space used to be a part of the greenhouse, but only his office had been left window-covered - he'd opted to have his small apartment constructed using proper walls. It gave his office a very different feel every time he sat down at his desk, which wasn't actually all that often. The walls and ceiling changed naturally according to the weather and the time of day. It didn't really have a very 'officey' feel to it, and Neville liked it that way. He loved being nearer to the plants, too, just in case of an emergency.

He looked up to greet his visitor, and he stood stock still, blinking in astonishment. He decided to blink once more, just to be sure, but no - it really was Draco Malfoy.

"Longbottom," Malfoy said lightly, stepping forward and offering Neville his upturned hand. Presumably, Neville thought, for him to shake. It didn't make any sense, but Neville acted on pure impulse and shook the man's hand, if just for something to do other than stare.

"Malfoy. Um," Neville started, sticking both hands in his pockets. The one that had touched Malfoy's seemed warmer than the other, and he rubbed it on the inside of his pocket. "What brings you here?"

"I had a few questions for you regarding some specific herbs," Malfoy said, and Neville noticed for the first time Malfoy's Muggle attire, the jeans and black button-up shirt, the black jumper he had slung elegantly over one shoulder. And the lightest five o'clock shadow Neville had ever seen, only visible when Malfoy's jaw moved to speak, allowing the light to move across his fair skin and accentuate only certain angles at a time. He looked good.

"Oh! Sure... well, have a seat." Neville indicated the chair in front of his desk but was too busy taking in the appearance of the man before him that it took him several seconds to notice the pot of seedlings that were currently occupying it.

Malfoy looked down at the pot and then back up at him with an eyebrow raised, and Neville chuckled apologetically. "Sorry, I'll just get that out of your way first." He moved the pot over to the far windowsill and found himself bracing for a verbal attack. He didn't know why as it had been a long time since school. There was no reason to expect anything now. Was his old wariness around Malfoy really so ingrained in him? He was an adult now. He was a professor, and this was his office. He had worked hard to get here, and he hadn't seen or spoken to Malfoy in years, and yet his body was still responding as if the war had ended yesterday.

When no response came, he turned around to find Malfoy sitting innocently in the chair, watching him. His eyes were as pointed and intense as ever, but there was something different, something softer about the gaze that Neville couldn't entirely fathom.

Something in Neville's gut fluttered uncomfortably and he swallowed as he made his way over to his own chair, and sat down carefully. "I'm surprised you didn't just owl me, really," Neville said. "Not that I mind you dropping by or anything," he added.

Malfoy's forehead creased, and his stature grew more defiant. Neville found himself gripping the armrests of his chair. "I would have done so, and I do know that is customary. I apologize for not owling first. It's just that... well. I'm concerned that the Ministry is keeping tabs on my owls. I didn't feel the need to educate them on my perfectly harmless potions dealings, if that is the case."

"I see," Neville nodded. He was well aware of the sometimes ridiculous precautions the Ministry took. It was understandable, given the way the world had almost been destroyed by Voldemort. They were being careful and very strict. The Malfoy family had been among the most watched, and details on their daily lives had taken an almost soap opera-esque turn a couple of years ago. But it had died down, and Neville could honestly say he had no idea what Malfoy was up to anymore. "So your questions are about herbs used for potions ingredients?"

"Yes. I'm opening up shop soon in Diagon Alley, actually," Malfoy stated with pride, as if he were daring Neville to refute him.

But Neville recognized the automatic response system Malfoy seemed to be falling back on. The tenseness in the other man's jaw matched his own. The two of them had never really had much to go on, had they? No wonder their communication seemed so forced. They'd never honestly communicated in their lives.

"Good luck to you," Neville said, feeling himself relax a little when Malfoy seemed surprised at his genuine well-wishing. Malfoy sunk a little lower in his chair, holding his jumper in his hands and looking confused.

"I... Thanks. I appreciate that."

Neville wouldn't have been able to picture a humble Draco Malfoy if his life depended on it before that morning, but he was almost certain that that's what was in front of him now. "So what are the herbs in question?"

As if he'd been caught with his hand in the cookie jar, Malfoy looked up and away from him. "There's dittany. Sneezewort. Hellebore. I know that Hogwarts has enormous stores of those three in particular. I wanted to ask you if I could buy some from you."

Neville rose an eyebrow, not really understanding. "What for? Is there a shortage in the apothecaries?"

"No, nothing like that. It's just..." Malfoy exhaled, and closed his eyes briefly before continuing. "The Ministry has taken notice of the herbs I've been buying in excess. The apothecaries are no longer allowed to sell me dittany, sneezewort, or hellebore."

"Well... not to be rude. But, what are you doing with them?" Neville asked delicately. "I'd like to know before I make any promises, Malfoy."

Malfoy's eyes widened, and bore into Neville's in shock for a brief moment before he reigned himself inward. "You'd consider selling to me?"

Neville nodded. "Dittany and sneezewort counteract positively, and hellebore has many purgative and protective qualities. Not that I'm some great potions mastermind, but from a herbological standpoint, I don't see anything dangerous about the mixture of those three herbs used as potion ingredients. What are they basing your restriction on, exactly?"

"The Ministry knows I'm trying to open up my own shop. They've been barring my way as often as they can. Took me nearly a year to get my rental license approved for the property. My cauldron shipment was misplaced three times, even though it was a standard Floo delivery. And I've been conducting some research into the cure for acute viral nasopharyngitis, which is why I've needed those particular herbs in excess over the past year or so. I've sent in research proposals, which they never seem to receive. They'd like to think I'm developing a Dark potion of some sort. But I'm not. I've brought all of my notes, plans...." Malfoy dug into his pocket and pulled out a miniature stack of notebooks and journals. He placed them on the desk and brought them to full size with his wand. Neville had to lean to the side to see Malfoy properly over the now towering pile.

"Acute viral... what is that, exactly?" Neville asked.

Malfoy's eyes lit up, and he stood quite suddenly, taking a notebook off the top of the pile and coming around the desk to stand beside Neville with it. "Acute viral nasopharyngitis. It's nothing more than a cold. There's never been a cure for it, not in either world. I'm close, Longbottom. I'm certain I am. Look here," Malfoy pointed to a notebook page, and Neville leaned in to see it, noticing the masculine scent of him more than the words written on the page. His hip graced Neville's shoulder, and Neville had to forcibly not lean into him. "Every single attempt of mine is listed in this journal, including amounts and herbs used and time of day and many other pertinent details." Malfoy left the notebook open, but reached for another one and placed in on top of the first. "This journal is purely for my own mental musings. Just throwing around ideas about different interactions, that kind of thing. And this next one is -"

"Malfoy, stop," Neville said, almost laughing. Malfoy had one arm still extended towards his stack, but he pulled it in slowly and turned to look down at Neville.

"Listen, I'm sorry. I'm sorry to bombard you with this. I don't deserve a break from you, Longbottom. I know that. But right now I don't have any other options. I'm out of ideas. I feel like if I don't manage to do something big, make some incredible advancement in the world of potions the Ministry will never let me get my foot in the door -"

"I understand."

Malfoy paused, as if he'd been about to continue reciting a memorized discourse but had been interrupted. "You do?"

Neville nodded, thinking it so strange that he was the one sitting down when it felt like Malfoy was the one looking up at him. "I understand and I believe you. I know what true dedication looks and feels like, and you're radiating it. I'd be happy to do business with you."

"I... wow." Malfoy placed a hand on the edge of Neville's desk, looking flabbergasted. "I didn't expect this from you."

"Why not?" Neville asked, knowing it was kind of a dumb question but still curious as to Malfoy's answer.

But Malfoy didn't answer for a long time. At first he looked at Neville with one eyebrow raised, as if waiting for Neville's innocent question to turn into an exclamation of scorn. But at Neville's own steady gaze, Malfoy seemed to retract back into himself again. His eyes became shuttered, and there was a reddish tinge that began to extend down his neckline passed the collar of his shirt. "We both know you have every right and reason to throw me out of your office, Longbottom. Unlike the Ministry, I wouldn't blame you if you did," was his final, quiet response.

Neville thought hard about what to say next. While he knew that he was inherently a good person who would never do something like that, he didn't want to egotistically throw around the fact. He didn't want to seem self-righteous. He was also having a very hard time looking at Malfoy and not letting his gaze follow along the gentle line of blush.

He settled for staring at the window just above Malfoy's left shoulder. "The past doesn't have any business muddling up the present, Malfoy. Not today. Not any day in the future, either. At least, not for me." Neville looked Malfoy in the eye for as long as he thought he could manage, and it was long enough to catch a genuine smile cross Malfoy's face. Neville grinned back in return.

"Have you ever heard of a Yaezaki blossom?" Malfoy asked.

The question caught Neville off guard. "Yaezaki blossoms? Yeah, I studied in Japan for a couple of weeks my last year in uni. I got to touch one in person, which was exciting." Neville felt himself blush. "Well, you know... the complete darkness thing. Can't ever really see one alive, can you?"

Malfoy reached into his pocket once more and took out a tiny, cream-colored box, no bigger than Neville's thumbnail. He placed it on the desk in front of him, on top of the open notebooks. "This is my last Yaezaki seed. I managed to kill the first four plants." Malfoy looked away, as if ashamed. "Of course, the Ministry won't process my order to import a new order of seeds. But I don't really have the mindset to grow it properly, anyway. I'm bollocks at herbology, always have been. But I'm convinced this is my answer. I believe the opposing leaves of the double Yaezaki blossom is the missing link."

"That makes a lot of sense," Neville admitted, carefully picking up the little seed box even though he knew Malfoy must have rendered the little box practically indestructible for all it was worth.

"Would you look after the blossom for me until it's ready? Believe me, you'd be compensated well for your efforts."

Neville considered. "I suppose I could. The best place for it would be my bedroom in back. That way I would have two doors spelled to repel the light, and I would always have the office door here shut before I opened my bedroom door...."

"I trust your ability. Absolutely. Whatever you think is best. I really don't even... I don't know how to thank you enough." Malfoy made his way back to his own chair on the far side of the desk, beginning to shrink his notebooks again.

"Like I said, I'm happy to help out for a good cause. I'll probably never get the chance to grow a Yaezaki again." Neville smiled. "Best start memorizing my way around the bedroom."

Malfoy laughed, sticking his notebooks back in his pocket and taking a seat again across from him. "Thanks."

"You've said as much," Neville said. He couldn't stop smiling, no matter how hard he tried.

"I'm serious. If you'd declined, my next stop would have been to visit the Whomping Willow for a spell."

Neville took him seriously for a little over two seconds. "Malfoy, that's terrible!" he laughed.

"I know. It's funny now, but you've miraculously agreed. So no one need worry." Malfoy eyed the tiny box that was still resting in Neville's palm. "Not unless I'm wrong about this."


Three weeks later.

Neville's second year students didn't quite know what to make of it when they went to pull their Mandrakes out of the pot only to find them silent and still. One blond haired little girl actually had tears in her eyes as she watched the tiny root creature dangle unmoving from the leaves she had pulled.

It was the first time that Neville had ever unconsciously let something interfere with his work, and he was unhappy with himself. He'd spent the past three weeks caring for the Yaezaki blossom, and had had little else on his mind. The Mandrakes required watering every twelve hours, and last night – the night before Malfoy was due to come by and test the blossom in his potion – he'd let the task slip through his mind entirely. Neville apologized profusely to his students, and when he realized that none of them had heard a word he said he motioned for them to remove their earmuffs and apologized again, giving them the rest of the period off, and promising fresh, healthy Mandrakes for next time.

It was ridiculous, really. The Yaezaki blossom required no care other than daily watering that wasn't time reliant, and a completely dark place in which to thrive. He'd given the blossom both those things, and yet he still couldn't get the plant off his mind. If it were to die, he was sure Malfoy would be devastated, and he was determined to produce a healthy specimen for him. He'd taken to lovingly stroking the invisible leaves, whispering encouragements to the tiniest ones. Because he had never seen the plant he had no idea what color it might be, but he imagined it was a silky black, the same color that pervaded his mind whenever he opened up his eyes in his bedroom.

He had also found his mind centering on Malfoy more than was probably healthy. They had been owling back and forth every few days, Malfoy inquiring about the blossom and Neville letting him know the approximate height of the stalks and the texture of the leaves as they changed. When Neville had mentioned the new tiny buds that had begun to emerge up and down the entire length of the plant, Malfoy had asked if it was all right if he stopped by the next day after dinner. He thought it might be ready to test in the potion.

Neville had responded, telling him that he would cook dinner for the two of them, and that any time after six o'clock was perfect.

It was not quite five forty-five and the roast chicken Neville had prepared was sitting on top of the oven with a warming charm. He'd debated about setting a bottle of wine on the table but had decided against the idea; that might be taking things a step too far.

But perhaps the very short owl Malfoy had sent back to him agreeing to the dinner had been indication that dinner itself was a step too far. They really were still merely acquaintances – bordering on friends, he supposed. There were bits of humor intermingled in their owls, but nothing very revealing or personal on any level. When Neville had received a check along with a letter that first time, he'd been amazed at the amount. It was nearly half what he made working as a professor at Hogwarts in one year. Malfoy wouldn't accept it back – had, in fact, sent it back three times – and so Neville decided he might use that as the reason for deciding to make Malfoy dinner.

It had nothing at all to do with the fact that he couldn't stop thinking about Malfoy, couldn't stop envisioning his face behind his eyelids in the darkness of his bedroom. It wasn't only there that he thought of Malfoy, of course. Whenever he had a class full of Slytherins he was transported back to his own days at Hogwarts – particularly their old potions class for whatever reason, where there really weren't any good memories in particular to be had. It didn't seem to matter, though he knew that it should; had he been counseling a friend in the same situation he would have advised them to get rid of the notion of Malfoy, that having a looming crush on a former tormentor was a horrible idea and that anything that could interfere so drastically with his work and concentration wasn't worth it at all.

But Malfoy was still at the forefront of his mind. And apparently at the door, as well. Neville hadn't heard the bell in his musings, but a series of knocks caught his attention. He wiped his hands on a kitchen rag and made his way over, walking a little taller than he normally did.

Neville opened the door and found Malfoy standing there, grinning from ear to ear. He was far less formal than the last time in a dark green tee-shirt and jeans; Neville was feeling slightly overdressed in his white button-up. A medium-sized cauldron floated in the air just behind Malfoy, the contents of which seemed to be magically frozen.

“Come on in. I've made room for the cauldron on the table,” Neville said, indicating the end that was not decorated with silverware and plates.

“Thanks. Smells good here!” Malfoy motioned the cauldron carefully across the room onto the table, and turned to face him. He was turning his wand over and over again in his hand rather nervously.

“How are you planning keeping the potion hot?” Neville asked, it suddenly occurring to him that the fire normally used to heat cauldrons could probably be construed as light.

“Oh, I cast a heating charm on the inside of the cauldron... it won't scorch your table, don't worry.” Malfoy looked suddenly awkward. “Actually... would you mind if we added the blossom before dinner? I just don't think I could eat right now. I've been nervous as all hell all day. Do you mind?”

“No, not at all... the charms will keep everything warm,” Neville assured him, scratching the back of his head.

The energy that was radiating off of Malfoy was mesmerizing. He didn't think he had ever seen Malfoy so jumpy before, but then when would be have? Malfoy set down a bag he'd been carrying on the table and removed several tools and a couple of jars filled with herbs, and set about unfreezing his potion. Neville took the opportunity to observe Malfoy from behind, an angle he hadn't yet had view of.

The man's jeans were rather tight, though no one could doubt that they absolutely fit him. The tee clung to his back and shoulder blades delicately, and with each gentle movement and stir of the potion his muscles shifted exquisitely beneath the fabric. Neville imagined it might be soft to the touch – the shirt, and probably Malfoy's skin, too.

Before a tight situation of his own could begin to develop he looked away, though he couldn't avoid noticing the shifting green and the paleness of him out of the corner of his eye, in the unavoidable way one might indirectly view the sun.

“Ready?” Malfoy asked, tilting his head toward Neville slightly before turning to face him, knocking the excess drops of potion off the stirrer before setting it down. The sudden bubbling of the potion seemed abnormally loud.

Neville's eyes widened, realizing for the first time the potential this situation had of getting awkward. The two of them were going to be in complete darkness together for however long it took Malfoy to finish.

“Yeah, I'll just secure the door to the office before hitting the lights,” Neville offered. “The windows have been secure for the past three weeks. I just haven't bothered opening them – not really worth the risk.”

“So you've been hanging around here in candlelight for three weeks?” Malfoy asked, leaning back on his arms, hands gripping the edge of the table. He was trying oh so hard to appear relaxed when everything about his stature screamed barely controlled panic.

Neville smiled slightly while casting the wards on the door. As soon as he'd closed it the room had been lit by three single candles without aid of the failing sunlight, creating an entirely different atmosphere in the room. Neville felt warm and cold all at once, and more visible than he had been before, even though the light was so faint. “It hasn't been so bad, really. I could have hung out in my office if I'd wanted. Enough windows in there to satisfy just about anyone.”

He could feel Malfoy's eyes following him across the room to the first of the three candles, situated on the end table next to the couch. Neville leaned down to blow it out, and when he looked up again Malfoy was entirely back lit, brow furrowed and his expression worried. Neville felt his stomach turn, and cursed himself and his own stupid undeniable attraction. He needed to cut it out.

“Doing all right?” Neville asked, walking passed Malfoy toward the counter top, where the second candle sat.

Malfoy sighed heavily. “I'm just trying not to get my hopes up, you know?”

Neville paused to admire the irony for a moment, face inches away from the candle. “Yeah,” he said, blowing quickly. “I know.”


The sound of his own name startled him, and he turned to face Malfoy, besides whom the last candle stood singularly, strangely beside the simmering cauldron. “Yeah?”

“I want you to know how much I really do appreciate all you've done. Even if it doesn't work... I'm still thankful. I just wanted to tell you now, in case it doesn't work, and I get angry, or...”

“Hey,” Neville found himself crossing the short distance to stand beside Malfoy. “You've really got something here, you know that? And if it doesn't work this time, it may just need a little tweaking. I know you'll find the cure someday. I'm sure of it. There'll be immunizations named after you.”

Malfoy smiled a slow smile, one that seemed a bit more internal than he was letting on. “Malfoy, Measles, Mumps, Rubella,” he said, eyes lighting up in amusement. “Here's hoping.” He leaned over, and blew out the last candle himself. They were entrenched in blackness. A hand closed over Neville's elbow, and he jumped.

“Sorry. It's just, you know where you're going and all,” Malfoy laughed, hand shaking as he gripped Neville's elbow tighter.

“Let's go get some Yaezaki blossoms, shall we?” Neville whispered, even though there wasn't a real need for it. The dark just seemed to call for it. After all, it was allowed to keep its secrets. Why couldn't Neville, too?

He led the way toward his bedroom door, all too aware of Malfoy following along blindly beside him. Pausing to dismantle the wards, Neville opened the door, pushing it with a gentle creak.

“It's right over here on my bedside table.”

“I have no idea where your bedside table is, nor can I see.” Malfoy's tone was dripping with sarcasm, and although it called up several rather dreadful memories of other things said in that same tone, Neville didn't take it to heart. The man was nearly having an anxiety attack; he figured he could allow him a bit of a break.

“It's right here.” Neville reached unseeingly for Malfoy's other hand, the one not busy gripping his elbow, and shivered when he made contact with it. He led Malfoy's hand to the Yaezaki blossom, its double stalks filled with inky tendrils and leaves, and new buds which had started to open sometime the night before.

Malfoy took a deep airy breath of surprise which went straight to Neville's groin. Draco Malfoy, nearly moaning in the dark in his bedroom. Stroking a plant.. Typical.

“Neville, this is perfect!” He let go of Neville's elbow in order to access the tiny blossoms better, Neville assumed, because he could hear the light ruffling of leaves. It occurred to him that the plant had never been in the presence of any other human being but himself before this very moment.

“How many do you need?” Neville choked out, finding himself very thankful for the lack of shadows total darkness tended to provide. He adjusted himself in his pants, willing his erection to go away, and for Malfoy to stop saying his name in such a breathy voice. There was only so much he could be expected not to respond to in any way.

“I need six... oh, they're springy... There, I've got them. A little tough to remove! Where are you?”

Neville lifted his arm until it collided with Malfoy's, and then since he assumed Malfoy's hands to be full he guided him gently by the elbow out of the room, taking care not to turn in toward him or come too close in the doorway.

In the living area again, Neville could hear the potion bubbling away. He directed Malfoy to the edge of the table.

“All right?” Neville asked.

“Yes.” Malfoy sounded tense again, and Neville let go of his arm, taking a couple of relieving steps back.

He felt very strange, knowing from the sounds of clinking cutlery that Malfoy was preparing the tiny buds, but unable to see it. There was only the sound of the potion, and the dismal notion that he'd gone blind, even though he knew it wasn't true.

“One blossom, two blossoms... three clockwise turns,” Malfoy mumbled, mostly under his breath. There was a slight pause. “Three, four... three more turns.” Neville wondered how Malfoy would test the potion, or how he would know if it was successful for not. “Five and six... one turn... two turns... three.”

Without preamble, there was light. It was coming from the potion, and it was a weak-hued blue, but it lit up the entire kitchen almost too brightly for Neville's eyes.

“Oh, my god.” Malfoy dropped his stirring spoon on the table, eyes wide as he stared down into his concoction.

“What? What's it mean?” Neville asked, taking several cautious steps forward, mostly to hide the front of his pants from Malfoy's view. He looked up into Malfoy's eyes and back down at the potion several times, as he might be able to figure out the answer that way.

“It worked.” Malfoy was looking straight into his eyes now.

“It did?” Neville swallowed.


“Congratulations, Draco!” Neville reached out, placing a hand on Malfoy's shoulder, aware that he'd called him 'Draco' without quite intending to.

“Neville, can I ask you something?” Malfoy seemed so subdued, so unaware of what he'd just accomplished.

“Of course you can, but aren't you... don't you have some pompous owls to send off or something?” He laughed half-heartedly.

Malfoy leveled his eyes. “You're gay. Right?”

Neville's heart skipped a beat in his chest, and he stood stock still. The blue light emanating from the potion had begun to pulse slightly, and he looked at it askance, but Malfoy didn't seem troubled by the change. “That's right.”

In what seemed an almost instantaneous movement, Malfoy had moved to the side of the table that Neville was hiding behind, and was standing just beside him. “How did you know?”

Neville gave a soft laugh. “How did you know you were straight?”

“To be honest that's not something I'm entirely sure about at the moment.”

“Oh.” Neville felt trapped by Malfoy's glance. His hand was gripping the counter top so tightly that it hurt a little, edges cutting uncomfortably into the soft flesh of his palms. “I guess I just... developed crushes on men, and eventually just...”

“Wanted to kiss them?”

Was Malfoy moving closer, or was he imagining things? “Kissing's a part of it.”

“Do you want to kiss me, Neville?”

Neville's heart thudded in his chest. He was surprised there was enough blood left in his body to circulate around it so fast. “Yes,” he admitted, hardly whispering.

Malfoy stepped into his space then, and stood there looking the couple of inches up at him. “I've never done this before, but I want to. I want you to kiss me, I want you to fuck me. I want you to show me how.”

“Malfoy -”

“Draco. It's Draco.” Draco's hand was on top of his on the table, still shaking as much as it had been when he'd gripped his elbow earlier.

“Draco. I'd like nothing more than to show you... but... are you sure?” Neville turned Draco's hand over, entwining their fingers. “You're nervous.”

“I'm scared shitless, but I haven't been able to get the idea out of my head since the minute I walked into your office the first time.” Draco squeezed his hand. “I trust you. You saved my life, taking care of the blossom for me. Everything in my life is going to be different because of you, and I just... I want you to kiss me...”

Draco's face was right there in front of him, and it was all Neville wanted, all he'd been thinking about for weeks, and despite the little voice in the back of his mind that warned him that this might be stupid, that he might regret this, he leaned in, lifted his hand to Draco's cheek and kissed him.

It had been such a long time since he'd been with anyone, and the contact of another person felt amazing, and sent new surges of energy and excitement coursing through him. In his current state of arousal it would only be too easy to work this situation to his advantage, but he could feel Draco against him, trembling in a mixture of fear and need, and it became a desire of Neville's to make it all as nice as possible for him. He pulled Draco closer, running soothing fingers up and down his spine as he kissed him deeper, not opening his mouth until Draco did first.

He knew that his erection was pressing up against Draco's thigh, and while it felt absolutely heavenly he would not let himself thrust against him. He hoped that just the presence of his penis in the equation, something Draco was entirely not used to having, wouldn't freak him out and send him running.

Draco pulled his mouth away from his, and Neville stiffened, expecting the worst. “I'm sorry. Is this... are you okay?”

“Neville Longbottom, you aren't going to break me,” Draco said, using the breathy voice from the bedroom again. “I've never had sex with a man, no, but I do know how sex works. And I do want this, badly.” Draco took Neville's hand and brought it around to the front of his trousers, where his own erection stood at half-mast. Neville sighed, feeling several surges of longing course through him as he wrapped his hand around Draco through the layers of clothing. Draco thrust lightly into his hand. “Don't hold back,” he admonished, lips gracing the shell of Neville's ear. “Please...”

“All right,” Neville agreed, letting go of Draco for the moment and settling his hands on Draco's shoulders. “I won't.” Then he pushed Draco back the several feet until his back met the wall, and plunged into his mouth again with more force than before. With force in general, actually, as he hadn't really used any before.

Draco moaned, hands roaming up Neville's sides, seemingly at a loss for what to do. Neville stopped pushing Draco against the wall with this hands and used his body to do so instead, busying his hands with pinning Draco's wrists up against the wall to either side of his head. His tongue fought with Draco's, and the moans that elicited from the blond's throat made Neville's cock tighten in pleasure all on its own. He could feel Draco's erection now, right next to his and with each time he moved forward he could feel the pressure of it against his upper thigh, creating more glorious friction as his own erection met Draco's flesh.

They were wearing far too many cloths for Neville's taste. He kissed Draco once more, hard, before pulling away, taking Draco by the hand and pulling him back into his bedroom. He preferred to do things in a bed.

“Cloths off,” Neville instructed, pushing Draco up against the bedpost as he began to pull the other man's shirt up and over his head. As soon as it was off his shoulders Neville ran his hands over Draco's smooth, pale chest, relishing how soft it was and how right he'd been about this skin. His thumbs moved momentarily over Draco's nipples, causing a sharp intake of breath, before he moved on to Draco's trousers.

He was very careful as he unzipped them, pulling the material away from Draco's body as he did so. Draco toed his own shoes off and Neville helped him step out of his trousers and pants. There wasn't very much light coming in from the half open door, but there was enough to see Draco's hardness silhouetted against his stomach. Neville took it in his hand, wiping a bit of pre-come off with his thumb before running his fingers down the entire length of him and back up again, slowly. Draco's head fell back against the post and he moaned in frustration.

But he would have to wait a little bit longer. Neville began to unbutton his white shirt, while Draco's own hands came to the front of his trousers. He wasn't touching Neville directly but the friction was enough to make him hold his breath until Draco was pushing the trousers and pants down, his cock gratefully free from its confines.

“Bed,” he whispered, kicking his pants off and pulling Draco into the bed with him. The silky feeling of warm skin against his own made him smile into the kiss when their lips finally met. This was dangerous, he knew. Draco was dangerous and intoxicating. He could not stop touching him, every silky smooth inch of marble skin and ivory soft hair. Their cocks met in between them, and Neville wrapped one hand around them both, rubbing up and down as he thrust softly.

“You said... you wanted... me... to show you. Are you... absolutely... sure?” Neville managed to get out between rushed breaths. He paused in his thrusting, but kept his hand around them both.

“Fucking yes, I'm sure!” Draco whined, rocking forward into Neville's grip. “Anything you want. Everything. Tell me what you're doing...”

Neville closed his eyes. He'd never been much of a sexy talker – hadn't ever been one, to be more precise – but he thought he could tell Draco what he was doing, for the most part. He could talk him through it, because he didn't want to surprise him or scare him at all.

“I'm going to touch you, because I need to prepare you... well, open you up, so it doesn't hurt when I... well. I'll go easy,” Neville promised, kissing Draco before leaning over to grab his bedside lube. He'd apparently left it sitting out the night before, forgetting it in the darkness.

He rubbed a bit of it onto his fingers, and eased one finger in between Draco's cheeks. He could feel Draco jump slightly, startled, and he kissed him.

His hole was tiny and twitching in anticipation, and Neville just rubbed the tip of his finger against it, up and down and tiny circles. Draco was breathing heavily, and had his legs spread awkwardly. Neville decided it might be easier all around if Draco were laying on his stomach.

He removed his hand. “Here, turn. There you go... stick this pillow under your stomach. This will be better. Trust me.”

Now Draco had one pillow under him, and he was holding another one in a viselike grip, alternately lying his head down on it and resting his forehead against the headboard. Neville settled himself in between Draco's legs, and took in the sight before him.

The perfectly rounded arse, and the long legs spread out on either side of him. The long smooth expanse of his back, and his broad shoulders, still trembling slightly with need or fear, Neville couldn't tell which was which any longer. He placed his hands on Draco's arse cheeks, spreading them out so that he could access his hole better. Neville didn't think he'd ever wanted to bury himself in someone's arse as much as he wanted to bury himself in Draco right now, but that was going to take some time.

Neville cleared his throat. “I'm going to lick you.” He could feel Draco tense, unsure, but Draco hadn't told him to stop...

So Neville leaned down and pulled Draco open just a little bit further, lowering his face into his crevice. He opened his mouth, kissing Draco's hole and feeling the other man shudder beneath him, and mutter something unintelligible into the pillow he was strangling. With the tip of his tongue he probed gently at his opening, not trying to force entry but just to get Draco accustomed to the pressure there. He swirled his tongue in soft circles, alternating between using the flat of his tongue and the tip of it in his ministrations.

“Please,” he heard Draco moan. “More... Neville, I need more...” Draco's hips were moving slightly against him, pushing up into his mouth. Neville lifted his head, using his hands to force Draco's hips back down onto the bed, and knew he'd accomplished what he wanted: to get Draco comfortable and begging for more all on his own. He smiled, applying his still lubed finger back in between Draco's cheeks.

The hole was more pliant than before, and wetter from all of Neville's saliva. The tip of his finger slid inside quite easily, and Neville felt rather than heard Draco stop breathing.

With one hand Neville began to massage Draco's lower back. “Relax,” he whispered, kissing Draco's cheek lightly, finger still probing gently. “Breath, relax. I'm right here.”

Once Neville was sure Draco was breathing normally again, and felt him wriggling slightly against him, he pushed his finger in slowly, deeper, passed another ring of muscle. Draco clenched up, and he could go no further. Neville massaged more, kissed and nuzzled his arse cheeks until he opened up again, and Neville pushed in further still, easily.

He was in passed the knuckle. He waited just a few moments, until he felt Draco relax before he began to move his finger at all. At first he just brought his finger back out, not quite all the way but almost, and then pushed it back in again. He did this several times, until Draco was moaning and pushing back against his hand. Then he decided to curl his finger downward, and it met almost instantly with Draco's prostate.

“Fuck!” Draco screamed, rolling his hips against the pillow. “Oh, god...”

Neville started to finger fuck him in earnest then, and Draco met him with a thrust at every interval. He added another finger to the mix, slowly let Draco get used to the new amount of pressure, the slow stretch, before he was then fucking him with two fingers. Then three.

“Your mouth... please, I want your tongue in me... Neville...” Draco panted, and Neville almost lost it right there. He'd been surreptitiously humping the duvet, unable to stop himself. He was leaking pre-come all over the place and Draco's words had almost made him come untouched.

However, he was not going to let Draco down by coming early. He lowered himself down again, spreading his cheeks and lowering his mouth to Draco's stretched hole. He licked once, twice, before open mouth kissing him there. Draco was shrieking something quite nonsensical to Neville's ears and it had the audacity to make him blush.

His tongue didn't quite fit, but he forced the tip inside again and again. With each thrust it went in just the tiniest bit farther. He did it for as long as he could stand it, until he thought that he might literally die without being inside of Draco. With one last thrust of his tongue, he kissed Draco's hole and sat up, leaving Draco whimpering and open. His legs were spread and he was slightly on his knees, arse up in the air.

“I'm going to fuck you,” Neville said softly, planting tender kisses along Draco's back as he reached for the lube again. “Is that all right?”

“If you don't fuck me now, I'll kill you,” Draco said, turning his head and grabbing Neville, dragging him down into a kiss. Neville pulled away with a smile on his face, squeezing some lube onto his hand and throwing the bottle across the room. It was torturous to touch himself, but he managed it without coming and positioned himself in between Draco's legs once more.

He spread Draco's cheeks open with one hand, and with the other settled the head of his cock against Draco's newly stretched hole. Oh, how he wanted to impale himself – Neville's self-control was truly being put to the test. He'd never wanted anything more in his sexual life.

He settled his hands on Draco's waist, rubbing encouragingly, wanting to reassure him as much as possible. And then he slid in, slowly. The head was generally the most difficult to manage the first time, and he pushed as carefully as he could. He could hear Draco breathing erratically, and once the head was totally in he forced himself to keep still.

“Just do it,” Draco breathed. “Do it. Fast.”

Neville knew that either way was going to hurt. There was no way to prevent that. But Draco seemed to have chosen a certain course, and it just so happened to coincide with what Neville wanted to do most at that moment. He bit his lip, and with one powerful thrust of his hips he buried himself fully inside of Draco's tight arse.

Draco did not cry out, but he appeared to be biting down on the pillow. Neville, on the other hand, moaned at the feeling of being so completely, utterly entrenched. So tightly surrounded, so completely connected to Draco. Being inside another person was the most intimate gift Neville could ever imagine giving or receiving, and each time he found himself on one end or the other he couldn't help but be moved by the beauty of it, the pure joy. He wrapped his arms around Draco's chest, and kissed the back of his neck, forcing his choppy breathing to relax.

“Are you okay?” Neville asked, completely still. He felt Draco nod.

“Move a little,” Draco said shakily. Neville did move, carefully and very slightly out of Draco's arse. Draco tensed, and Neville kissed his neck again and all along his shoulder blades until he relaxed. Then he pushed back in, all the way again. After a moment, he pulled out a bit further than he had before, and without waiting, pushed back in.

For several minutes he fucked Draco softly and easily, ignoring his one-track mind in favor of making sure he wasn't going to hurt Draco anymore. When Draco began to thrust backward, meeting him for every long slide, Neville knew he could finally move as he pleased.

He didn't keep a very consistent pace, because he was afraid of coming much too soon, and completely ruining this experience for Draco. After several long, hard thrusts, he moved his hips in a circular motion, hoping to find Draco's prostate. He found it, several tries later, and Draco cried out, rising up onto all fours to meet Neville's thrusts better.

Neville took his wrists, and eased him up further, guiding his hands to the top of the headboard. Draco then sat up on his knees, still full with Neville's cock, and he held on to the edge of the headboard fiercely as Neville pumped into him from behind. Neville really enjoyed this position; he was able to kiss Draco this way, and had better access to his chest and to his cock, too. He took Draco's cock in his hand, hand sliding easily along his pre-come soaked length. He stroked in time with his own thrusts while Draco held on, moving in time with him.

When Draco's cock became impossibly hard in his grip, he put aside all pretense of drawing it out any longer. He drove into Draco, one hand stroking him furiously and the other wrapped around his chest, pulling him roughly against him. Draco was keening, and coming, and then, with several more thrusts and a hand full of Draco's own come, Neville let go.

His orgasm overtook him for several moments, and all he could do was pant as he filled Draco. He stopped his thrusting and rested his head on Draco's shoulder, holding him close. He let go on Draco's spent cock and wrapped that arm around him, too. Draco turned to kiss him briefly before both men returned to their labored breathing.

Several moments later, Neville removed himself from Draco's arse, and both men collapsed next to each other on the bed. After the best sex he had ever had in his life, Neville felt kind of foolish when he felt afraid to grab for Draco's hand.

“So that was... it was just... curiosity?” Neville asked, feeling himself deflate a bit.

Draco looked up at him, one eyebrow raised. “I can't say that I wasn't curious. I also can't say that that's all this was.” He leaned in closer, kissing Neville briefly. “That was fucking amazing, by the way.”

Neville smiled. “I'm glad you enjoyed it.” He leaned in to kiss Draco again, longer this time, knowing that he needed to find out now whether he should or shouldn't invest anything in this. It would be all right at this point, he supposed, to live with the fact that Draco didn't really want him. But he could tell that Draco was a person he could get ridiculously attached to. He couldn't go into this any further without a good reason to do so.

He pulled away, resting one hand along Draco's jawbone. “Listen. I like you. I've had a raging crush on you since the moment you walked into my office three weeks ago... and... I just can't let this go any farther, not unless... I don't know, you're serious.” Neville felt himself blush.

Draco only laughed, which Neville wasn't sure how to interpret. “I can say with complete honesty that I have had the same experience, raging crush and all. It threw me for a loop, as I've never... had one on a guy before, but... it's there, just the same. I'm pretty sure this experience sealed the deal. Neville... I'm serious.” Draco leaned in until they were nose to nose. “I'm crazy about you.”

Neville could feel himself cracking, all his walls coming down. He felt like he probably shouldn't automatically trust the perfectness of the situation he was in, that there'd be a clause somewhere, because there almost always was, but he couldn't bring himself to care.

“L.M. Solution,” Draco said, hushed.


“That's what I'm going to call that blue shiny stuff sitting out there in a cauldron on your kitchen table. Longbottom-Malfoy Solution. L.M. for short. Sound good to you?”

Neville smiled. “If you're willing to put my name first. Are you sure?”

“Absolutely. I'd have been utterly lost without you.”

“Me, too,” Neville whispered into his hair, realizing how true it was. And how must he stood to lose. And how much he was willing to put into it despite all of the odds.


Later that week.

"You'll never guess who came in my office last night," Neville said a moment after sitting down across from Seamus and Dean at the Three Broomsticks.




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