Of Butterbeer and Textbooks

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fan Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Neville Longbottom, newly appointed Herbology Professor at Hogwarts, goes to Diagon Alley to buy some last minute supplies before he starts his new job. While there, he stops by the Leaky Cauldron, where he runs into former classmate Hannah Abbot. They begin to talk, and find that there's more to each other than they thought. They don't know it, but this is the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship.

Submitted: February 14, 2008

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Submitted: February 14, 2008

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It was a wonderful day for business at Diagon Alley. The sun was shining brightly and a gentle breeze kept the shoppers and storeowners nice and cool. People of all different sizes and races milled through the tightly packed street. Owls hooted as they set off on their journeys form the post store and street merchants called out prices from their little stands on street corners.

August was the busiest time of year for the residents on this street; which was so well hidden from the outside world. August’s coming meant that Hogwarts letters were dispatched, inviting students new and old to return to the school for another year of magical education. It was in this late summer month that students from all over the country traveled to Diagon Alley to purchase their new school supplies.

It was for this same reason that Neville Longbottom decided to make a trip to this beloved street. A few moths previous, this young man had received an owl from the new Headmistress of Hogwarts, Professor Hawkins, a teacher who had previously worked at a smaller and less well-known magical academy in Germany. This letter contained an offer for the position of Herbology Professor; a career that Neville had never dreamed would be available.

Yet, Professor Sprout had decided to retire, and he was their first choice. Neville had been given a few months to consider the Headmistress’s offer, and the longer he thought about it, the more the idea grew on him. So, with much thought and input from his friends, Neville had replied to Professor Hawkins’ letter giving her his consent to teach at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

**********

Hannah Abbot sighed heavily as she reached for another empty mug and began filling it with warm, foamy butterbeer.

It had been almost half a year since old Tom, former landlord of the Leaky Cauldron Pub, had announced his retirement. Back then, Hannah had been his assistant, the one who washed all the dirty dishes, kept track of all the guest records, and served as a waitress for when the old bar was exceptionally busy. It had seemed natural at the time that Hannah would be the one to take Tom’s place, but even now—almost half a year later—the thought of herself as the landlady of the famous Leaky Cauldron still sent shivers down her spine.

“One Butterbeer ready!” Hannah called loudly over the large crowd that had assembled. The person who ordered that butterbeer stepped forward and claimed their purchase, and went on their way. The next person approached, and so began the daily cycle.

**********

With a pop, Neville Apparated onto a street corner in the very busy Diagon Alley. He scanned the street for the shops he needed things from, and stepped into the nearest apothecary.

He shuddered as he entered, passing all the eerie jars filled with grotesque potion ingredients. Neville was reminded of how much he loathed brewing potions every time he entered these types of shops, but unfortunately, apothecaries were the best places to buy substances that served as excellent fertilizers for various plants.

Neville approached the grim-looking wizard at the counter in the rear of the shop. Smiling, he pulled out a list he had written the night before and began listing off various items and powders to the man. Twenty minutes later, he immerged from the store with a bag filled with his purchases.

He milled through the crowds, stopping by Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes to say hello to George, and then came to Flourish and Blots, the best magical bookstore in London. He strolled through the front doors, taking in the wonderful scent of freshly bound books. He gazed at all the massive bookshelves, towering over everyone. It was Hermione Granger’s dream store, with books on everything from defending yourselves to dealing with out of hand household items.

“Can I help you, sir?” an employee in a maroon set of robes inquired. The bookshop was packed with people, and there were several men and women in these robes buzzing about helping out.

“Er…” Neville dug through the pockets of his robes, his hand emerging, clutching his list of books to buy. “I need these books.” He handed the list to the man, who looked it over.

“The Wizard’s Guide to Magical Plants: Expert’s Edition. I see you’re interested in Herbology. Doing extra studies?” the employee inquired.

Neville shook his head. “No, I’m teaching at a school somewhere.”

“Ah.” The employee nodded with understanding. “Herbology books are this way. Follow me.”

Neville did as he was told and weaved through all the people, keeping his eye on the man who was helping him. They traveled through a maze of rows, and stopped in a row towards the rear of the store.

“Here you are, Sir.” The employee said. “Feel free to look around, just let me know if you need anything.” With a slight nod of his head, he was gone, and Neville was left alone to search for the titles on his list. There were basic guides to plants, expert guides to plants, several student textbooks, and a book on teaching methods. Taking one last peek at the list, he began searching the bookshelves for what he needed.

**********

By four o’clock, the pub was beginning to empty out a bit. The usual crowd, the people who stayed in all day, had settled into their usual corner tables. People still came and went as they pleased, but Hannah was happy that it had settled into the limbo stage between lunch and dinner. This was her time to settle in behind the bar and read a good book. In just a few hours, The Leaky Cauldron would be abuzz with customers once again, and Hannah was determined to enjoy the quiet while she could.

**********

After waiting in line for what seemed like hours, Neville had finally purchased all his books and stepped back into the crowded street. Glancing at his watch, he was surprised to find that it was almost five o’clock. Buying books at Flourish and Blots had taken longer than he thought it would. Glancing down at all the bags in his hands, he thought it would be a good idea to sit down for a while before continuing on to the next store, and so he made his way to The Leaky Cauldron.

A few minutes later, Neville found himself standing in the middle of the pub glancing around at his surroundings. The old bar had changed dramatically since he had last been in it. The bar stools had been replaced with new ones, along with shiny new mugs and bottles hanging from above the bars. There weren’t many people around, he figured that business was in the quiet stage. Neville also noticed as he headed towards the bar that some of the wooden floor panels in the corner had been torn out.

His eyes grazed over the young woman who was sitting behind the bar, and instantly, he did a double take. She looked vaguely familiar, but he couldn’t put his figure on where he had seen her before. The woman’s long blonde hair was pulled into a loose braid that was twisted into an even looser knot at the back of her head. She was biting her lip in concentration as she flipped the page of the book that lay in her small hands.

She must have noticed his presence, for she slipped a scrap of paper in her book and set it down without even looking up. When she stood however, her warm caramel eyes settled on Neville and they seemed slightly surprised. Neville found himself mentally slapping himself, trying to figure out where he had seen her before.

“What can I get you?” She asked, her voice was light and cheery, but Neville could tell that it had been a long day and she was ready to be done.

**********

“Long day?” Neville Longbottom asked her.

Hannah sighed. “You have no idea.” She grinned at him.

Neville smiled back and settled down in once of the new bar stools. “I see that Tom’s been making some changes around here.”

Hannah’s brow furrowed slightly. “Excuse me?”

Neville must have noticed that Hannah took some offense to this statement, and his face reddened slightly “I mean, I noticed that the floor is being redone and some other things like that…”

Glancing at her hands, Hannah spoke. “Well, yeah, I’m getting the floor redone. When those are done, I’m thinking about getting some new wallpaper as well. It should be something a little brighter and more cheery, don’t you think?” She asked, glancing up at him.

Hannah knew that if she could get an honest answer out of anyone, she would definitely get one out of Neville Longbottom. Sure, back in school, he had a reputation for being a bit of a klutz, but every time she had talked to him, Neville had been remarkably polite, nice, and honest.

Neville had changed a great deal during their last year at school. During the fight against Snape and the Carrows, he had finally grown out of the chubby layer of long lasting baby-fat, and although he wasn’t exactly attractive, there was something about his plain blue eyes that helped you feel a lot more at ease around hem. Harry, Ron, and Hermione hadn’t returned to school that year, and so Neville had stepped up and lead the student’s rebellion in Harry’s place. Hannah had been a part of that rebellion, and after months of underground missions and several painful tortures, she had noticed that Neville had become much more confident and sure of himself. Despite all this, he was still the same sweet round-faced boy he had always been.

Noticing Neville’s confused expression, Hannah realized that maybe he didn’t know about Tom’s retirement. They had kept the news pretty low key, and although there was a small blurb in The Daily Prophet, not everyone read the wizarding newspaper. She was used to the surprised expressions that she received when telling people this news. “Oh, haven’t you heard about it?”

Neville shook his head.

“Tom retired five months ago. I’m the new landlady, you see.”

Neville’s face dawned a look of contemplation. “Oh really? Good for you, congratu—“

He was cut off. “HANNAH!” called a customer from one of the tables. “Can we get some more butterbbeers over here, please?”

“I’ll be right over!” Hannah replied as she grabbed a handful of empty mugs and began filling them. When she was finished, she put them on a tray and smiled to Neville. “I’ll be right back.” And with that, she had gone.

**********

Hannah. The name clicked a button in Neville’s memory. Hannah Abbot, why hadn’t he recognized her before? She was the sweet natured Hufflepuff in his year that had always worn her hair in pigtails. He hadn’t seen her since the final battle, all those years ago. Besides that, he had never actually seen her without her pigtails.

The subject of his thoughts returned to her spot behind the bar and instantly resumed conversation. “So Neville, how are you? How are Harry, Ron, and Hermione doing?”

Neville shrugged. “I’m fine and they’re all doing well. The three of them are racing their way through the Ministry like wildfire. Of course, you’ve probably heard all about them from the Daily Prophet headlines.”

Hannah nodded. “Yeah, their names do show up quite often. What have you been up to lately?”

“Nothing much.” Neville said plainly. “I’ve been doing some last minute preparation for my new job, but other than that, life’s been pretty quiet.”

“A new job? That’s great! When do you start?”

“Technically, I don’t start until September first, but I’m leaving in a week or so to get settled in.” Neville said.

“Ah, good for you!” Hannah praised, and then seemed to realize something. “Wait…September first…. you’re not—“

“—Working at Hogwarts?” Neville finished her sentence with a small smile. “I am, actually. Professor Sprout is retiring.”

“Is she really?” Hannah’s voice was filled with surprise.

“Yeah, she is. I guess she’s unspotted a few too many Mandrakes.”

Hannah laughed. “Well, I’m happy for her. She was such a nice person, I loved her a lot.”

“Oh, she was your Head of House, wasn’t she?” Neville asked her.

The former Hufflepuff nodded. “Yes, she was.”

They were silent for a moment. “You know,” Neville began. “I never really realized how much I’ve missed Hogwarts until I accepted the job. I’m glad to be going back.” He paused, and then chuckled to himself. “I guess when Harry, Luna, and everyone else has kids, I’ll be teaching them.”

Hannah smiled. “Now that’s a strange thought.”

“I know.”

They once again fell into a few moments silence. Then Hannah, remembering her manners, burst. “Oh! I haven’t gotten you anything yet! What would you like?”

This seemed to have caught Neville by surprise. “Oh…er…. just a butterbeer, thanks.” He began digging into his pockets searching for some money, but the barmaid stopped him.

“No, don’t bother. This one’s on me.” A minute later, Hannah handed him a steaming mug of butterbeer.

Neville accepted the drink with a “Thanks.” He took a sip, letting the golden liquid seep down his throat, filling him with warmth.

He looked up at Hannah and was glad that she was the one to take Tom’s place. She was pretty, friendly, and seemed to love being around people. Yes, Neville thought, she was the perfect one for the job.

**********

Hannah smiled as she watched Neville drink. It felt really nice to see a familiar face again. Of course, she would run into people she knew, but this was one of the first occasions where she had chatted with one of her former classmates.

Hannah looked back at her and Neville’s last meeting, right after the final battle. Hannah didn’t know if it was the because of the battle, with all the screams, flashes of light, and corpses lying around that caused this meeting to stand out to her, or if she had been so in awe of his courage for standing up to You-Know-Who.

She had been standing on the edge of the Great Hall, gazing out at the sunlit grounds, and watching all the people as they buzzed around the hall, searching for family and friends. Hannah’s best friend, Susan, was sitting next to her parents, and it made Hannah’s heart ache. Her own mum had been murdered the year before, and Hannah had only returned to school because all the students were forced to by law.

Glancing around at the hall, she saw no sign of Harry Potter, the boy who had finally done the impossible. Ron Weasley was holding hands with Hermione Granger as they sat by a very weary looking Arthur Weasley. Hannah’s own close friends, Justin and Ernie were also sitting amongst their family and siblings. Hannah had never felt so alone in her life. Her dad had gone into hiding shortly after her mother’s funeral, and the last time Hannah had heard from him, he had successfully entered Sweden.

Suddenly, Hannah had jumped, feeling someone tap her shoulder. Turning to see who it was, she was shocked to find Neville Longbottom standing next to her. His round face was beaten and bruised, yet plastered on it was a look of concern. “Are you alright, Hannah?”

Hannah nodded, mentally putting herself down for telling such an obvious lie.

“You did great out there.” Neville continued. “During the fight, I mean. Everyone fought so well.”

Hannah clenched her fists together to keep from crying. “Yeah. You were brilliant too, Neville. I’d never be able to stand up to him like you did.”

Neville shrugged. “It was nothing, really. Just doing what I knew was right, I guess.”

Despite all the negativity she was feeling at that moment, Hannah couldn’t help but smile. Neville was so amazing; he fought with so much heart, and yet remained so incredibly modest.

“Why are you standing here all alone?” He asked next.

Hannah simply shrugged. “All my friends are with their families, and I don’t really want to intrude.”

“But where’s your family?”

Hannah felt a pang in her heart. This was the question she had been dreading, yet she found herself whispering an answer quiet enough for only Neville to hear. “My mum died last year, and my dad is abroad, hiding. There’s no way he would have been able to come and fight in time.”

Neville’s expression softened. “Oh, Hannah, I’m so sorry.”

Hannah shook her head, causing her golden pigtails to shake. “Don’t be. It’s not your problem.”

“But you’re my friend, and so that makes it my problem.” Neville said simply. “Come on, I’ll introduce you to my gran. She’s a little harsh at times, but she’s got her heart in the right place.”

The next thing she knew, Neville had grabbed Hannah’s arm and pulled her over to where a spry looking old woman sat. He introduced the two, and left. Hannah spent the rest of the day with Augusta Longbottom, either just sitting there talking with her or helping restore the castle.

“You know,” Hannah said, coming back to reality. “I never did thank you for what you did for me right after the final battle.”

Neville looked up at her, holding his mug of butterbeer in his hands and looking slightly confused. “What?”

“The day Harry defeated…You-Know-Who, I’d been standing all alone and you came over and introduced me to your grandmother.”

“Oh yeah, I forgot all about that.” Neville commented.

Hannah nodded. “I never told you how much I appreciated that. It meant a whole lot to me.”

Neville smiled warmly. “I’m glad to have helped.” There was yet another moment of awkward silence, and to give himself something to do, he looked at his watch. “Merlin, it’s nearly five thirty. I’d better get my shopping done before the stores close.” He got up and looked at Hannah. “Thank you so much for the butterbeer, that was very kind of you.”

Hannah shook her head. “It’s the least I can do. Good luck with your teaching job, you’ll have to let me know how that goes.”

Neville nodded. “I’ll make sure to do that. Best of luck to you for fixing up this place.” He glanced around. “I look forward to seeing all the changes that you make.”

Hannah smiled. “Thank you.”

Neville turned and began to walk away, but then, he paused and spun around to face her. “Oh, and by the way, I do think some bright new wallpaper would really look nice.” With one last smile, he turned and left the pub.

With a small grin, Hannah watched him go. Deep down, she really hoped that she would be able to have a conversation with him again soon. Little did she know, that back out on the slightly less crowded Diagon Alley, Neville Longbottom was thinking the exact same thing.


© Copyright 2017 Lady Alanna. All rights reserved.

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