Neville walked with his Gran across the grounds, to the adjacent graves of his parents. He clasped his hands tightly together, biting roughly to the inside of his cheek to keep up his tough façade, as he listened to the prayers and the memories being announced by those who remembered his parents. Neville himself keep from speaking, as he had never known his parents personalities, it broke his heart just the same to see them buried, and listen to who they had once been.
He’d not noticed any rain coming down, because his Gran had put up an umbrella to shield him from the rain. He’d zoned out in his own misery at some point, and the painful realization that he was now officially an orphan.
A few of his own friends had shown up, some of the people in his former (unhelpful) study groups, and a partner or two from his advanced herbology. Luna had been there, smiling sadly at him, offering her condolences and the best of luck with the next part of his life. And it became the most draining afternoon he’d ever known.
He’d been walking away from his past spiritually when he noticed Emma standing at the base of the hill, just before the rows of horseless carriages, now lead by black creatures that he’d once ridden and not been able to see. His Gran had left sooner, abandoning his shelter, and leaving him soaked to the bone. When Emma came up, she wordlessly offered him salvation under her black cloak that she was holding over her head.
“It’s not that bad you know,” she said, quietly.
“What’s not that bad?” he questioned, not looking at her.
“Being an orphan,” she whispered, almost so quiet that he couldn’t hear it, “being alone.”
“How would you know?” he bit out, glaring ahead.
“I’m an orphan too,” she offered, “my parents died when I was young. My father’s mistress raised me.”
“I’m sorry,” he said.
Emma shook her head, before looking up to him again, “I’m sorry you had to watch them suffer.”
“I like to think they didn’t,” he said, looking down and smiling bitterly, “I’ve always had this fantasy that after the pain subsided, and they became the vacancies they were, that they didn’t feel anything anymore. That pain had left them along with sanity, and death was really all they had left. I just hope they’re together now.”
“They are,” she said, wrapping her arm around him, “I’m sure of it.”
“But I kind of hate them, you know?” he said, stopping in his steps, “I wish that they’d been there for real. To see everything I accomplished. To be there to see me off on my first train ride to Hogwarts and welcome me back on my last. I’m rather bitter that they weren’t.”
Emma stopped too, grabbing his shoulders and turning him to face her, and pulling his chin down so he could look her in the face, “Don’t say that. Don’t ever. say. that.”
“Why not?” he questioned, “it’s true.”
“That doesn’t matter,” she replied, “You need to remember that they couldn’t help it, and not regret it. Don’t spend your whole life wondering what could have been. Focus on your future.”
“I have no future.” Neville said, looking down at his shoes, “I have no idea where to go with my life from here.”
“This could be the perfect opportunity to start over,” Emma pointed out, shifting her weight, “you could train to be something new, you could move to a new city, you could find a whole new life…”
“I don’t know…” Neville moaned, almost a whine. Emma decided he looked like himself as a little boy. Lost and alone, completely unsure of himself and just looking for direction. She became instantly sure that Neville didn’t know who he was, and even if he’d been a tiny bit aware beforehand, all the events leading up to today proved that he was more lost than ever. She looked at him, awaiting the final breakdown.
“I don’t know if I want to,” he finally spilled out, his shoulders sagging drastically and Emma had to pull him into a tight hug just to assure herself that he wouldn’t fall over.
“I haven’t known you very long, Neville, but I believe that you can,” she offered, and you’ll be a stronger person for it.”
He rested his hands on her cheeks, his eyes glazing over. She placed her hands gently on his wrists, looking back up to him, and waiting what her gut told her would be next. He stared down at her for a few moments, “It hurts,” he finally whispered.
“I know it does,” she said, reaching one hand up to brush one of his soggy strands of hair out of his eyes, “it always will. But you’ll learn to live with it.”
Neville’s eyes closed, her face still in his hands. When they reopened, they began spilling over with water, tears dripping down his cheeks, “I’m alone.”
Emma began to shake her head vigorously, “You’re not alone, Neville. You’re never alone.”
She sealed her promise with a kiss.
It wasn’t intended to be a strong kiss, more of a chaste, closed-mouth, friendly kiss. But once the kiss was in action, her senses overflowed. Neville pushed harder into her, venting his grief. When she tried to push away, he came right back.
His fingers dug roughly into her back, and he pulled back sharply, noticing that her clothes were both soaked and clinging tightly to her. Through clearer eyes he could see that her skin had gone pale and that her trembling might be a dual effort to get warm, “We need to go back to the flat…”
Then, they were gone.