Word Count: ~3100
Author's Notes: I know I didn’t get the pairings that you wanted but hopefully this will please none the less. ^_^ Just imagine what could come after all of this. And thank you thank you to A for getting me a beta so quick.
Summary: Neville is ready to make a big announcement to his friends, but are they ready for him to?
It wasn't supposed to be that big a deal. My sexuality didn't define who I was or who I am today. It was starting to drive me nuts that every time I went out with friends every conversation would go in the same manner. Some how I was always getting pity and words of encouragement. I didn't need any of it. It was enough to make me want to shake every last one of them and scream that they needed to stop.
On a recent trip to the Leaky, I hadn't intended to meet anyone there, just stop in for food quickly on my way to collect supplies that I needed to bring back to Hogwarts. I was settling in surprisingly well there. After we had rebuilt the school and cleaned up the mess, I had been given an apprenticeship under Professor Sprout. I was being groomed to be a teacher, and the only thing preventing me from taking Professor Sprout's position immediately was my age. The Ministry repeatedly begged me to begin Auror training, but I wanted nothing more than what I had. I was done being a hero. I was never really a hero to begin with. I just happened to have something sharp to kill a particularly slimy creature before it killed me.
Regardless, I was at the Leaky to get something to eat when I heard a familiar and friendly call. Seamus pushed through the crowd to get to the table that I was sitting at and took a seat opposite me.
"It's good to see you, mate. How's it going?" Seamus asked.
"I'm really busy trying to restock the greenhouses. It could take us years before we have everything back to the way it was," I said with a sigh. It was hard work. I enjoyed it, but I also mourned the losses of every stone, leaf, and person that had been torn apart.
"Sure," Seamus said, a sign that he wasn't really interested. Why was it that anything I liked seemed automatically boring to any other man? "How's Luna?"
"She's fine. Luna's been really busy working with the Minister and she's surprising a lot of people with how well she's suited to political life," I said.
"Don't you two ever get any free time?" Seamus asked. He waved at Tom at the bar for a drink.
"Actually I have plenty of time for myself, but I usually spend it at the school either in the gardens or reading," I said.
"That's ridiculous. A guy like you shouldn't be stuck in the castle for the rest of his life. If Luna isn't making time for you, I'm sure that there's plenty of lovely ladies just waiting for the chance," Seamus said.
That was, of course, the same mistake everyone made. No one ever asked me if I was dating Luna. In fact, everyone seemed to think that it was inevitable and exactly what was going on. The only problem was that I hadn't exactly been denying it to anyone. I didn't know that it was going to get this bad.
The remainder of our conversation was rather uninteresting after that. Seamus talked about this girl that he met and after his third drink (and fourth retelling of how they met) he finally left me in peace. The only problem was that he had taken so long that the store I had needed to get to had already closed for the evening. So I had to return to the castle and attempt to explain why the mandrakes were going to have to wait an extra day before they could get their acne cream.
The main problem was the fact that everyone assumed that Luna and I were dating. Luna is one of the closest friends that I have. For all that she seems to be floating in the clouds all the time, she's actually very direct and can get to the heart of the matter long before anyone else can. I appreciate that frankness, even if sometimes it's nearly impossible to understand just what it is that she's saying. I've trusted her with more things than I have ever trusted anyone with. Luna was actually the first and only person to have heard about my sexuality, and that was only because she said she caught me staring at a few too many Quidditch players' arses.
Since we suddenly became well known names in the Wizarding community, we were also rather publicized. I don't read anything written in the Daily Prophet any more. The Quibbler has had all the information I've needed for years. Then there's the gossip rag that everyone seems to be talking about because it has all sorts of ridiculous stories about Harry, Ron and Hermione. Sometimes I somehow end up in there with Luna. Harry has finally accepted the attention and treats it as a joke, but I just prefer to ignore it. At least I'm not supposed to be fathering fifteen babies across the globe.
After my unexpected meeting with Seamus, I sent Luna an owl and request that she fit me into her schedule so that we could talk. I was grateful that I didn't have to give much detail in the owl. Luna always seemed to know what was going on in my head before I did.
"I heard that you had lunch with Seamus the other day," Luna said, settling into my sitting room. She was smiling softly, and played with the hem on her light blue robes.
"I might as well have been having dinner with any of my friends," I said. "It's getting harder and harder to want to talk to any of them. They never really care about what I'm doing here at the school. Harry doesn't understand why I wouldn't want to be an Auror. Hermione might be interested if she stopped talking about her latest crusade. And then on top of it all they just pat me on the head and say that they're sorry that you're too busy and maybe I should date someone else."
"It's very difficult to find people who are interested in communicating with you. That is, of course, one of the most important parts of being friends," Luna said.
"I can't just...stop looking at them as my friends. I mean, they aren't bad people. They're just...more interested in the things they like," I said.
"Perhaps you should try to make more of an effort to meet people who share your interests," Luna suggested. "And I don't mean just plants."
"That would be a bit difficult, don't you think? If people find out about me, how much longer will it be before they find out about you?" I asked.
"I can't make the decision myself," Luna said, looking down at the threadbare sofa she had curled up on.
"Maybe we should just all talk it out together," I said. I reached out to place a hand over one of Luna's. "Things have changed over the last couple of years. You've really changed especially. I've known you for years, but I've never seen you as happy as you are now. You smile for real and you're happy, anyone could see that. It wouldn't be right of anyone to treat you differently because you're happy."
Luna squeezed my hand and nodded. "We still need to talk, but I appreciate what you've said. I should go. The sooner I go the sooner we'll be able to figure out what we can do."
"I think I'll try to take some of your advice until then. I'm...not very good at meeting new people, but I'll see what I can do," I said.
"You should have more faith in yourself. I know that you can do it. You always have surprised everyone," Luna said.
I didn't know if I could believe her. I knew though that if she didn't believe me, then there wasn't anyone else left who did.
Thankfully I didn't have the chance to notice much of the wait that came next. The mandrakes were maturing and puberty is a difficult time. It certainly didn't help when Professor Sprout caught a cold and managed to infect a third of the mandrakes as well. They had to be quarantined and I needed to spread myself out between taking over the lessons and caring for the sick plants. The head cold was dealt with finally after three days and as I settled in my room with a sigh, I spotted the stack of letters that had been waiting for me.
I picked up the letters and began to sift through them. There were copies of the Quibbler that I immediately put to the side. I could read those later. There was an obligatory letter from the Ministry thanking me once again for killing a snake and requesting that I join the Aurors. Those came once a month and I usually used them as fire starters.
I quickly tore into Luna's letter first. While waiting for her response, I was beginning to get worried that she would never agree. I knew that I would pretend for as long as she needed me to, but this was not the person that I wanted to be for the rest of my life.
We've talked it over and we would like for you to join us for dinner at your earliest convenience. I had heard about the trouble at the school, so I will not be expecting you to respond immediately. Please be sure to rest before rushing to get our answer. You'll thank me for it later.
"Don't rush? Now I want to rush more," I muttered after putting the letter down. It would have been much easier if she had just been direct and to the point, but that wouldn't have been Luna either. Rather than be told to wait even more, I picked up the remaining letters.
"Thanks for having me over, Luna," I said, two nights later. I had arrived a bit early with a bottle of wine.
Luna just smiled and kissed my cheek before ushering me into her home. Her house was very spacious and airy. Huge floor to ceiling windows let in soft moonlight into her living room. I had helped with some of the decorating. Luna had insisted on several ferns and other plants to decorate. I was worried that it would look too much like a jungle, but her placements were elegant and her greenery framed the room subtly.
She offered me a glass filled with the wine I had brought after her house elf accepted my coat. We settled down on the sofa and she immediately tucked her feet under her as she always had while we were at school. It reminded me that Luna was still a walking contradiction at times. She was as wise as any old woman, but still wore her youth around her with joy.
"Is everything going all right in the Ministry?" I asked.
"There's some extra paperwork this evening. Surprisingly we think we'll be hitting a lull where we can regroup and start on our new projects. We had a meeting a representative of the Eastern European Vampires earlier today. I think we may be able to reach an agreement that will please all sides," Luna said.
Luna was working mostly on ensuring the rights of dark creatures, especially the sentient ones that hadn't always been dark. Through her work in the Ministry she was able to create sanctuaries for werewolves and vampires where they could remain peacefully without fear of retribution for being what they were. At the moment, however, most of the sanctuaries were outside of the country.
"That does sound really good. I know you were saying that food was becoming a big complaint among them," I said.
Luna would have gone further, but there was a knock at the door and she was quick to answer it. Kingsley stepped into the house and Luna quickly hugged and kissed him. They really were a happy couple and it was a shame that people were so quick to judge them because of their age difference. Kingsley was under a lot of pressure when he took the Minister of Magic position and the last thing England needed was a new scandal on top of the war clean-up. They had fallen and fallen rather hard for one another during the rebuilding process. Luna had been the one to suggest that they keep things quiet until the time was right. I had agreed to be their cover for as long as they needed me to be.
Kingsley recovered quickly and we shook hands. "I'm glad that you came, Neville. I think we're ready to give you some good news."
"Let's head into the dining room and we can discuss it over dinner," Luna said, directing us both there.
As we settled down at the table and the house elf brought out the food for us, I watched as Luna and Kingsley held hands on the table. There was a brief flash and I noticed something I hadn't earlier. "You have a ring! You're-you're getting married!" I exclaimed.
Luna beamed proudly and nodded. Kingsley just chuckled and was obviously amused. "I know it's a bit unexpected, but it's what we've wanted for a while now. I was really worried that people would look poorly on me while I was transitioning into my position if I was dating a young woman. I am nearly old enough to have been her father and there are a great deal of thick-headed notions that I wasn't ready to deal with. I was surprised that you were so willing to help us, but after this much time I think I've been able to understand why. Your loyalty is your strength and you should always be proud of that. You won't have to worry about hiding your own sexuality for us any more. At this point, if they can't accept me then it's time to pass this job onto someone else. Our community needs someone that they can trust and someone who won't play games with them."
"Unity is really important," I had to agree. "I can't say that it's fair of them to push you out just because of Luna. I mean, you're both so happy. It's not going to change how you work together or work with anyone else."
"I agree with you completely, Neville. We both hope that it will in fact change nothing. We could both be simply paranoid and that would be refreshing. However, the attitudes of many of the older witches and wizards in our community could cause problems. We're just trying to be prepared for the worst," Luna explained. "Don't feel bad for us. We're doing exactly what we want to."
Kingsley refilled my glass and filled one for himself and Luna. "This should be a celebration. You're the first one we've told. We're both hoping that we can count on you to handle all of the flower arrangements for the ceremony."
The change in subject wasn't very subtle but I couldn't help but smile. It was their problem to work out one way or another. I simply had to deal with my own issues. Like how I was going to tell my friends that I was actually gay.
"What did you call us here for?" Hermione asked, thankfully getting to the point quickly.
I had arranged for everyone to meet at the Leaky the next day so that I could get it all out before the wedding announcement was made. I didn't exactly want anyone to be surprised that I had been "dumped". Thankfully Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny were able to meet with me in the afternoon so I could get it out in the open.
"There's going to be a big announcement soon, and I thought I should tell you about it directly. You are my friends and it wouldn't be right for it to come out in the paper instead of from me," I said. "Well...I know most of you have assumed that I've been dating Luna, and I never denied it before. Actually...Luna and I have never dated and I'm not particularly interested in her in that way. Luna and I agreed that it wouldn't hurt to pretend like we were dating so that it would be hard to notice that she was actually dating someone else."
"Oh, you mean Kingsley? I thought so," Hermione said. She tapped a finger against her lip. "They really are close. I've seen them together a lot and it seemed very natural for them."
Leave it to Hermione to take the thrill out of my telling. The others quickly turned to her and started chattering all at once about how incredible it was that Luna was dating the Minister. Ron seemed particularly fish-faced about it, but then again he had never had any appreciation for Luna to begin with. When they were finally ready to turn back to me, it was thankfully Ginny who started first.
"So what about you? Do you have someone in the closet that you've been hiding away?" the redhead asked with a growing smirk.
"Uh...well...no...not exactly..." I said. Four pairs of eyes focused on me and I wanted to shrink back under their weight. "Actually, there hasn't been anyone...really...more...than maybe a kiss over the summer holidays...but honestly...no one. It's just that...I haven't really found anyone that I wanted to...you know...date or whatever."
"Why didn't you say anything before, mate?" Harry said quickly. "We can introduce you to a lot of nice girls."
"It's not exactly girls that I'm interested in," I said.
They were silent at that and I looked into my mug hoping that this would be over soon. I had some how managed to surprise even Hermione with my admission. I guess I was a better actor than I had given myself credit for.
"I suppose this means that you got tired of listening to us talk to you about Luna?" Ginny asked, looking surprisingly embarrassed.
"Well...sort of, but I never would have stopped if it wasn't for Luna and Kingsley letting me know that it would be all right. Right now, I just don't want to have to pretend to be something I'm not. I know it's weird, but this is who I am," I said.
Harry reached over and patted my back. "You're right, it is still you, so there's no hard feelings. I wasn't expecting it, but you've had your reasons for not saying anything before."
"Thanks, Harry," I said with a smile.
"We could introduce him to that beater with the Harpies," Ron suggested. "I think he…went that way."
"That's…surprisingly thoughtful of you," Hermione said.
Ron was quick to get defensive and I hid my snickers behind my hand. Maybe I shouldn't tell him that I had already met that beater once before. Perhaps one surprise was enough for now. At least I didn't have that weight sitting over my shoulders anymore.