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1991 "Of A Sort," Part 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
1991 "Of A Sort," Part 1
Okay, starting with the canon year, which means the usual "OMG, what do I do with a canon scene?!" panic. Luckily, doing Shifts in the interim gave me a little more practice. It's been awhile since I've done an OaS chapter. Next chapter, of course, is the actual Sortings.




The Healers all said that Mum and Dad didn't know him, but Neville knew they were wrong.

He knew it because Mum gave him the wrappers from her chewing gum. He had a picture of her with the fat baby who had been him on her lap. The fat baby was batting at a bright pink bubble and laughing, and Mum was blowing the bubble bigger, right around his finger. Neville believed, and sometimes pretended to remember, that this had been their favorite game, and that was why she always gave him empty wrappers.

He knew it because Dad always showed him things. He would point solemnly at an insect or a plant (or sometimes a curl of dust on the floor) and look wise in his blank-faced way. Neville always looked at whatever he was being shown and said, "Thanks, Dad!" Dad had a way of smiling slowly, like he was trying to remember how, and he did that whenever Neville called him "Dad."

Mainly, though, he knew it because they never looked away from him when he was with them. He would sit between them on one of the beds, and they would look at his face like they were hungry. With anyone else, Neville hated being looked at, but it was the best his parents could do, so he let them look and didn't try to turn away.

"I've given Neville your old wand, Frank," Gran said, squeezing Dad's hand. "It will be good for it to be used again."

Neville held up the wand, and Dad looked at it without any recognition at all. Something crossed Mum's face, something like a memory, and her lip trembled. Neville put the wand away. He suddenly imagined that the last time she'd seen this wand, it was being grabbed away from Dad, maybe flying across the room as the Death Eaters...

Her face cleared as soon as it was out of sight.

"Is everything all right?" the Healer asked, peeking behind the colorful screen.

Neville nodded.

"We're fine," Gran said, then checked her pocketwatch. "Goodness, we'll need to hurry. It's nearly ten o'clock, and we need to get to the station. Is that toad of yours in order?"'

Neville reached back for the little glass carrying cage where he kept his toad, Trevor, and pulled it up. "He's right here. Wave to Mum and Dad, Trevor."

Trevor, of course, did nothing of the sort, just sort of sat there looking at them. But Mum had owned a toad when she was a schoolgirl, and it always excited her to see Trevor. She waved at the cage and smiled, and tugged on Dad's hospital robe to look. He did so, seeming quite as impressed as if Neville had brought in a unicorn he'd caught himself... and of course, as if he hadn't seen Trevor every week for the past three years. They remembered Neville, but Trevor was always a special treat, new every time they saw him.

Trevor finally bestirred himself to move, lifting his head hopefully, begging for a fly.

Mum clapped heartily, and Gran caught the push of the accidental magic just a fraction of a second too late. The glass on Trevor's cage disappeared, leaving only the metal supports.

For a moment, Trevor just stared at this change in his environment, but for a toad, he had a good brain, and he analyzed the situation faster than any of the humans present did. With a flying leap, he was out of the useless box and bouncing into Mum's lap.

Delighted, Mum lowered her finger to pet him, bu Trevor wasn't interested in being petted. He leapt again, toward the opening between the privacy screens, and Mum started crying, which got Dad going as well, but before Neville could do anything, Trevor was out in the Spell Damage ward.

"Get the toad," Gran said. "I'll get your Mum and Dad calmed down."

Neville looked at them, weeping like small children, and wanted to start crying himself, though he never ever did so in their presence. He followed Trevor out.

"Neville!" a Healer said. "Goodness, what's happening?"

"Trevor's cage, er... well, Mum sort of Vanished the glass. Not on purpose. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to cause trouble."

"It's quite all right," the Healer said. She raised her wand. "Accio Trevor!"

An irate Trevor flew across the room from a windowsill, where he'd been battering himself trying to jump to the street. Neville grabbed him and calmed him down a bit. "I should get back. Trevor upset Mum when he jumped."

"Oh, dear." The Healer went into the screened area ahead of him, but Mum suddenly screamed at the top of her lungs and darted in front of Dad, holding up her arms in a protective warding. The Healer stopped dead and took a few steps back. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Longbottom," she said--to Mum, not Gran, Neville noted with some approval. "I'll find you another Healer."

Gran nodded absently and helped Mum back to her bed. She pointed her wand at the cage and tried a Reparation Charm, but it didn't work. "Hmm. I'm afraid we'll have to get you a new cage," she said. "You'll have to carry the animal. We really need to leave if we're to make the train."

"All right." Neville bent over his father and kissed his cheek. "I'll be back at Christmas," he said. Dad didn't respond.

He tried to kiss Mum, but she was still frightened by whatever had gone through her head when she saw the Healer, and she didn't notice him. He sighed. "I guess we should go. Please tell them I said goodbye next week, Gran."

Gran nodded in a distracted way, looking over her shoulder at them as she shooed Neville out. They caught a Muggle taxi outside and let the driver fight the way through the London traffic. He gave one odd glance to Gran's vulture hat, but otherwise paid them no attention whatsoever.

"What happened in there?" Neville asked. "With the Healer? Has she been cruel to them?"

Gran looked out the window, her chin set sternly. "It was her sister," she said. "Her sister... caused this. They apparently look enough alike that Alice has mistaken one for the other from time to time."

"But she's not..."

"No. She's a perfectly decent Healer and a kind woman to the best of my knowledge, though I am not interested in knowing her better. A family full of evil, and she's the only exception--you stay away from the Blacks, if there are any left. I believe the other sister married a Malfoy, and they're hardly better."

Neville would have liked to talk a bit more about it--it was the most she'd ever shared with him about what had happened--but she went off inside herself and stared out the window with her walking stick planted firmly on the floor of the taxi for the rest of the way to the station.

Uncle Algie was already there with Neville's trunk, puffing on his pipe and looking out of place, even though he was dressed in what Neville assumed were perfectly normal Muggle clothes. Nothing about him stood out, except that everything did.

"Ah!" he called, waving at them. "There you--"

There was a thud at Neville's stomach, and it took him a moment to realize what it was, but then Uncle Algie was diving forward, hands splayed, and something large and brown was flying toward him.

"Trevor!" Neville called.

Uncle Algie caught him. "Well," he said jovially, "what's happened to your cage, Trevor? Is Neville liberating you?"

Neville reached out and took Trevor, whose legs were now pumping at the air, trying for purchase. "Just an accident."

"Alice vanished the glass," Gran said softly.

"Oh. Listen, why don't I Apparate back t'my place and see what I can find? I had a toad when I was a lad; perhaps the cage is still handy. You two go on through."

Gran nodded, and Uncle Algie wandered off through the crowd, trying to look unobtrusive and getting strange looks from everyone he passed. Neville didn't understand it--his suit was just like any of the Muggle men on the platform, except for being orange. Surely, orange wasn't that odd a color.

"Very well," Gran said. "Let's go." She took the trolley that had Neville's trunk on it, letting Neville use both hands to hold Trevor, and led him straight at a brick wall between platforms nine and ten. As they walked, Neville saw a boy his age with dark curly hair go through it with his parents, so he wasn't surprised when Gran didn't slow at all.

He braced himself for impact--he was just never sure if his magic was going to work--but there was barely a tug as they slipped through. On the other side, families were saying goodbye to one another, children were boarding the scarlet steam engine, and everywhere, people moved through thick clouds of steam. Gran moved them away from the barrier and hurried him to a clearer spot. Her back was to the barrier; Neville continued to watch people come through.

"Now," she said, "I know you'll do well in your classes, and be a credit to the family."

A girl came through the barrier alone, looking nervous and a bit surprised to find herself here. Neville almost stopped Gran to go over and talk to her, but then a boy appeared beside her, looking quite frankly surprised and pleased. "What do you know?" he declared. "It worked!"

"Well, of course it worked, Dean," the girl said, as though she'd never looked unsure. "Didn't they tell you it would?"

Dean and the girl headed off toward the train.

Gran noticed him watching. "Muggle-borns," she said. "They've had someone in to tell them what to expect, but they won't really know. They'll need help from time to time. Will you promise to help them if they need it? It's good to make people feel welcome in the world."

Neville had never seen anyone who looked less like she needed help than the girl, who was now eagerly pointing out the features of the Hogwarts Express, but he nodded.

Gran smiled and smoothed his hair, which was about as affectionate as she got, then frowned. "Oh, Neville... I see Mrs. Bones. I should say hello and wish her well. You stay with your trunk. Uncle Algie should be along soon."

Neville nodded, rather pleased, actually, to have a moment to take it all in. The two Muggle-born students he'd seen had gone onto the train already, but there were a lot of other students on the platform. A black boy with a glass cage was waiting by a pillar, eagerly watching the barrier. (Neville tried to convince himself that there was not a giant spider in the cage, and the steam helped him nearly succeed.) Two girls with Gryffindor badges were giggling over something, and a third joined them while he watched. They all hugged and inquired after one another's holidays. A pair of Indian twins and their mother were speaking soberly near the train (one of them was speaking soberly, anyway; the other looked like she wanted to run around and look at everything).

A tall, thin boy came through the barrier, looking around importantly. Neville noticed a prefect's badge on his chest before he disappeared. Immediately, a second pair of twins came through--boys, this time, with flaming red hair--still laughing at something that had happened on the other side of the barrier. They went to the boy who was absolutely not carrying a giant spider, and the three of them made a great racket going to the train.

Thud.

Neville looked down at his now-bruised stomach just in time to see Trevor slipping straight through his hands, jumping into the crowd. Gran was on her way back. Neville looked back and forth between them.

A skinny boy with black hair and glasses wandered by as Neville said, "Gran, I've lost my toad again."

The skinny boy glanced over. Neville glanced back.

Then Gran sighed and said, "Oh, Neville," and there was a bit of a chase to find Trevor. By the time they caught him (hiding under the trolley where the Indian girls had their trunks), the skinny boy was gone. Neville wasn't sure why he'd kept track.

Uncle Algie did finally make it back, but he was empty-handed. "Sorry, Neville," he said. "Just couldn't find my old toad cage. I'll have a dig for it and send it to you at school."

"Now," Gran said, "have you remembered everything?"

"I think so."

"School robes?"

"Definitely."

"All your books?"

"Yes. I checked them off last night."

"Your cauldron?"

Neville's heart sank. He'd set it aside last night to see if he could pack his trunk better, and it was still sitting on his desk by the window.

Gran sighed again. "I'll send it along tonight; you'll need it tomorrow."

Neville frowned miserably. "I'm sorry."

"You need to be more careful." She went distant for a moment. "You know, Potions was your father's best subject. He always did well in it."

Neville looked down.

Gran touched his face lightly. "You be good, Neville. And take care of yourself and anyone else who needs caring for."

"Yes, Gran."

"Go on, then. Algie and I will get your trunk. You hold onto that toad!"

Uncle Algie actually got the trunk onto the train, wheeling it into a mostly full compartment without really looking, and he patted Neville on the head. The pungent smell of his tobacco made Neville feel weepy (though of course he didn't give in to it); he thought there ought to be a rule that all funny old uncles ought to smell of tobacco.

"Well, good-bye then," he said, and mussed Neville's hair.

Gran gave him a very brief kiss, then followed Uncle Algie off the train.

Neville turned around. The others in the compartment all seemed to be first years. The Muggle-born girl and boy were here, joined by a curly-haired boy who had the same surprised look on his face. A red-headed girl with a long plait down her back waved to him, and Neville waved back, knowing that he knew her from somewhere, but totally unable to place her.

"Hullo," Neville said, edging his trunk in. "May I... I suppose I should have asked before my uncle put my trunk here..."

"It's fine, Neville," the red-headed girl said. "Everyone, this is Neville Longbottom. Your Gran was talking to my mum out on the platform."

"Oh, right. Bones. Er..."

"Susan," she said with a laugh. "Don't worry. I had to ask your name out there, too. It's been awhile." She pointed to the others. "This is Hermione Granger"--she pointed to the girl--"and Dean Thomas, and Justin Finch-Fletchley." The boys waved nervously. Hermione Granger got up and held out her hand. Neville shifted Trevor so he could shake it.

"Nice to--"

Trevor made another wild leap, landing in the luggage bays over the seats.

"Uh, sorry. That's Trevor," he said.

"We should get him down," Hermione Granger decided. "There are things up there that could slide around and hurt him."

She climbed up onto a seat and reached for Trevor confidently.

Trevor leapt away from her, flying out the door into the corridor.

"I'm sorry!" she said, her hands flying to her face, and a sudden nervousness appearing there.

"Don't worry," Neville told her. "I've lost him three times already. I'll go get him."

"I'll help."

"No, really--it's better if I go. He knows me. Honestly."

She looked inclined to go anyway, so Neville just ducked out and closed the door.

It was easier said than done, of course. As he went out, the train lurched into motion, spilling him against the wall. Trevor, who was in the middle of a jump further down, bumped into the wall and fell down, looking stunned. He recovered before Neville caught up with him, and took a leap out onto the shaking platform between the carriages.

"Trevor, no!"

Neville ran after him, darting through the door in time to see Trevor leap down onto the coupling. Sparks from the track flew up and cinders bounced. The coupling ground ominously.

"Oh, come on, Trevor!" Neville said. "Can't you just jump back?"

The train gave another lurch as it sped up, and the coupling thumped alarmingly. Trevor apparently realized that he wasn't in the best place on the train, but he looked up at Neville, nearly frozen in place. The coupling was now jiggling too heartily for Trevor to even get purchase for a leap.

Neville took a deep breath, then climbed over the railing onto the edge of the platform. The train whistle blew and he jumped, but he was able to grab backward and keep his balance. Gingerly, he put one foot out toward the coupling and bent his knees, reaching out one open hand toward Trevor. "Come on," he said. "Don't... jump..."

His fingers closed around the toad and he pulled himself back convulsively as the train rounded a bend, and he put Trevor down the front of his tucked shirt to climb back over the rail. Safe again, he took a moment to breathe, and pulled Trevor out.

"What are you doing out there?"

He turned. A cross middle-aged witch pushing a cart full of sweets was glaring at him, her hands on her hips. "I, er..."

"Get into a compartment, you."

"Yes, Miss," he said, and slunk back into the carriage. It took him a few tries to remember which compartment he'd been in, and he finally found it only by hearing Hermione Granger's strident voice.

"...and I was reading in Modern Magical History that parts of wizarding London were actually destroyed in the Muggle blitz, which is odd, but they've developed new protections since then, and I think it's just fascinating... Oh, Neville, good! You got your toad. I'm so sorry I frightened him. I didn't mean to!"

Neville shrugged. "I think he scared himself more. I don't reckon anyone has a box?"

There was some shuffling around--Hermione used the opportunity to pull her school robes out of the trunk and put them on over her clothes--and Justin Finch-Fletchley finally pulled a new box of Potions supplies--one of the ready-made kits that Gran said was overpriced and understocked--from his trunk. He dropped the still-sealed vials into a dark jumper and wrapped them up, then handed the box to Neville. "Here. This ought to hold him for a bit. It's got a vent on the side, as something in there is supposed to be able to breathe--not sure what. Perhaps you ought to have a cage."

"It..." Neville bit his lip. "I broke it," he said. "Accidentally, on the way."

They all gave him understanding (if somewhat condescending) looks, then Dean Thomas asked why they took a train "instead of a flying carpet or whatnot" and Hermione was able to launch into a story she'd read in one of her history books. Neville, who had never thought to ask the question, had never heard it before, though Susan Bones jumped in a couple of times to point out things the book had missed. (This seemed to unnerve Hermione somewhat.)

Trevor appeared to have fallen asleep for the first two hours of the journey, but after the lady with the sweets trolley came by, looking much more friendly than she had when Neville had first seen her, Justin's box started to thump around the compartment, knocking blindly into a seat and tipping this way and that.

"Oh, heavens!" Hermione said. "I think he's frightened. Maybe we could give him a bit of light, so he can see where he is... Are you sure he can breathe in there, Justin?"

"It's got holes right here." Justin pointed to the side of the box. "I'm sure he's fine."

Neville shook his head. "He's probably frightened. I'll just open it a--"

As soon as he'd lifted the top of the box, Trevor exploded out of it. He flew across the compartment and was out the door before Neville completely registered what was happening.

"Oh, dear," Hermione said.

Neville sighed and got up again to chase down his toad, and wished (as he occasionally did) that Uncle Algie had collected up fond memories of an owl or a cat that he'd owned as a boy, and chosen that as his gift when Neville had proved magical. Still, Trevor was his, and he was Trevor's, and that meant that it was his job to keep Trevor out of trouble. He didn't see the toad in the corridor, but several of the doors were ajar. He popped his head into the first, where several older girls were giggling. They hadn't seen Trevor. One of them pointed as he left and said, "Oh, don't you just want to pinch those cheeks?"

Neville blushed and moved on to another compartment. This one was even less pleasant, filled with Slytherin boys. One, who introduced himself as Marcus Flint, said he thought he'd eaten a toad sandwich, and offered to belch it back up. Another informed him that he was Adrian Pucey, and he was a Chaser and damned good at catching things, and he'd be on the lookout, as fresh toad was good in many potions. Neville left this compartment with a renewed determination to be the first to find him.

The third compartment was occupied only by two other first year boys, who seemed to be talking about a vast pile of sweets they'd accumulated. One was a lanky boy with red hair and freckles; the other was the skinny boy he'd noticed on the platform. His hair was messy, and Neville thought he saw something odd on his forehead, but the shadow of the overhead luggage rack combined with his unruly fringe made it impossible to tell. They looked up in a friendly enough way.

"Sorry," he said, "but have you seen a toad at all?" They shook their heads, but looked at least a little concerned, which was so much better than threatening to put Trevor into a potion that Neville's nervousness from the last compartment just escaped him in a rush. "I've lost him! He keeps getting away from me!"

The skinny boy said, very kindly, "He'll turn up," and at that moment the train came around a bend, and the shadow shifted, and Neville saw that there was a mark on his forehead, a lightning-shaped scar.

It was Harry Potter.

He'd gone through his mum's old photo albums and once found a picture of himself with another baby, both of them grinning stupidly while some adult hand waved a toy in front of them. It had been labeled "Harry and Neville, at Lily's picnic, July 1981." It had taken a bit of work, but he'd finally worked out that that baby was really the Harry Potter, and they'd known one another when they were still in nappies, and this was him... but oddly, that unremembered day didn't turn up any ideas for a conversation, and Harry looked like he was already involved in a long one with the redheaded boy. Neville backed away and said, "Yes, well, if you see him..."

He went further down the corridor, looking at other doors, but most of them were shut securely and none of them seemed to contain people who had just discovered a wandering toad. He turned around, only to run directly into Hermione Granger, who was wringing her hands. "Neville, really, I'm sorry. Perhaps we can look around a bit together..."

"I was the one who opened the box," he said.

"But I said he was frightened and worried that he couldn't breathe, and he was just fine in there until I--"

"It's all right, honestly."

"At least let me help you look."

"All right, if you--"

She turned and opened th door to Harry Potter's compartment before Neville could tell her that he'd already been there. "Has anyone seen a toad?" she demanded. "Neville's lost one."

"We've already told him we haven't seen it," the redheaded boy said impatiently. His wand was drawn, and Neville saw Hermione's eyes gravitate to it. He supposed he should have known what would happen next, given her obvious avid interest in all things magical.

She demanded to see the spell the redheaded boy was doing.

As soon as Neville heard the incantation--a rhyming couplet about sunshine and daisies--he had the sinking feeling that someone had fed the other boy quite a line, and it turned out to be right. The fat rat the boy was trying to charm remained stubbornly stable.

"Is that a real spell?" Hermione asked. "Well, it's not very good, is it?"

Neville felt his face go red, but the boys weren't looking at him, and Hermione had gone into a very nervous sounding speech about spells she'd tried (in all of her reading, she seemed to have conveniently missed the rules about trying spells out of school), and about being a Muggle-born, and about how many books she'd read. Finally, she introduced herself.

Both of the boys looked stunned, which at least was better than angry. The redhead introduced himself as Ron Weasley, and Harry Potter introduced himself as Harry Potter, and Hermione launched another nervous lecture about Harry's own history, interrupted by Harry's incredulousness that anyone knew his history, which momentarily surprised Neville enough that he forgot about looking for Trevor. How could anyone, least of all Harry Potter, not know the story of Harry Potter? But before this marvel could be explained, Hermione had started talking about the Houses at the school, her own preferences, and Dumbledore's history, before abruptly announcing that she really should be looking for Neville's toad and telling the boys to change into their robes.

She put her hand over her face as soon as the door shut behind her, and herded Neville away from the door. "Do you think I overdid that?"

"Overdid what?"

She smiled shakily. "Let's find your toad."

It took most of the rest of the journey, but they finally found Trevor. He'd managed to hop across a coupling and hide on the lower shelf of the sweets trolley. The witch who minded it scolded Neville and told him to keep a better eye on his pet. Hermione looked like she was about to scold the woman for scolding him, so Neville pulled her away before she could start.

By the time they got back to their compartment, people were going up and down the corridors, looking into windows, whispering about whether or not "he" was there, and Hermione gave them irritated glances. "It's not a zoo," she muttered, but blushed, and Neville guessed she was thinking about her own response. "Hadn't you best change into your school robes?" she asked as they went in. "And Dean and Justin, you too?"

Susan Bones had her own robes over her arm and suggested they duck across to another compartment, which was filled with girls, long enough to put their robes on properly, and they disappeared together.

The three boys who remained put on their robes without fuss, though Dean rolled his eyes comically after Hermione, and twirled a finger by his forehead.

"Oh, she's nice enough," Neville said.

"Didn't say she wasn't nice. Just touched. Not right in the head, you know?"

Neville's smile faltered, and he looked away to finish changing.

The train pulled into Hogsmeade station not long afterward, and students filed out of the train in varying degrees of excitement. Neville held Trevor as securely as he could without hurting him, and headed out into the crowd. From somewhere high above, he heard someone calling, "Firs' years! Firs' years over here!"

He looked up, and saw a vast mountain of a man with a wild beard and a tent-like moleskin coat. Beyond him, over a night-black lake, Neville saw the turrets of Hogwarts Castle, for the first time waiting for him, the candlelight flickering invitingly from every window.

"C'mon, follow me!" the gigantic man said. "Any more firs' years? Mind yer step, now! Firs' years follow me!"

They took their first steps together, down a steep and slippery path toward the dark water.
23 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: December 5th, 2005 05:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh! It was Andromeda! That took me the entire rest of the story to figure out. Ooh, I like it.

Trevor really went crazy with the whole running-away thing, didn't he? Poor Neville.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 5th, 2005 06:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, Trevor was excitable. We know that there were at least three times (on the train and on the platform, plus whatever happened before the platform that made him say "I've lost my toad again"), so I guess Trevor's a really adventurous toad.
From: bangcollision Date: December 5th, 2005 05:29 am (UTC) (Link)
I love how Neville is so easily explained and such a complex character in this story. In it he is complete and not just the token klutz as usual.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 5th, 2005 06:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I love Neville unreservedly. He's just neat.
From: bangcollision Date: December 5th, 2005 06:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I love his character but I disliked him in the movie. He's so bucktoothed and gah, I'm really not sure but the actor annoys me.
tunxeh From: tunxeh Date: December 5th, 2005 06:58 am (UTC) (Link)
What, even in GoF? I thought he was a lot better in that one than the "why is it always me" fainting-in-herbology Neville of the earlier movies.
From: bangcollision Date: December 5th, 2005 07:00 am (UTC) (Link)
He was a lot better, and he had a much better role, yet I don't think that his major scene of freaking out at the spider was a winner. I felt dreadfully sorry for him, but I didn't really like him or anything like that.
soonest_mended From: soonest_mended Date: December 5th, 2005 05:34 am (UTC) (Link)
"...he thought there ought to be a rule that all funny old uncles ought to smell of tobacco."

Heartily seconded. This made the whole scene real for me.

Neville and his Gran seemed very well handled; she appears to be really trying to be a good guardian for him, and a loving one as well, but the tragedy of her situation and the pain of her regrets also show through. She's not just another bitter, slightly abusive old woman, and I love it.

Also, it's so rare to find pre-Trio Hermione without either the smack of utter, untouchable intellectual arrogance or the hideous precursors already visible of Ho!Mione. It's rare just to find pre-Trio Hermione, come to think of it, and I love how she's confident and kind and self-conscious and a bit stuck-up all at the same time.

Poor Neville-my-wub. He can come live in my closet....
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 5th, 2005 06:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, good... I was nervous about Hermione. I haven't written her much at all.

I think it's a mistake to have Gran abusive and cold--she seems to just be a representative of a whole different world when it comes to how she interacts with Neville, as well as having issues about losing her only son to incurable madness.
embossedsilver From: embossedsilver Date: December 5th, 2005 05:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I like this. I adore Neville and the Longbottoms and I love the way you've written them, all of them. I love how Frank and Alice have some interaction with their son, that they have some character.

Neville looked at them, weeping like small children, and wanted to start crying himself, though he never ever did so in their presence.

This just made me terribly sad, as it's not a way any 11 year old should be expected to act.

"Didn't say she wasn't nice. Just touched. Not right in the head, you know?"

Neville's smile faltered, and he looked away to finish changing.


::Hugs Neville::
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 5th, 2005 06:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I always want to hug Neville. He just needs a hug.
tunxeh From: tunxeh Date: December 5th, 2005 05:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Yay, more of a sort! It's fun to read the descriptions on the platform and figure out who everyone must be. And possible hints of Neville/Susan, not that there's any of that in canon yet... I liked the "not a zoo" reference, too.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 5th, 2005 06:12 am (UTC) (Link)
I hadn't thought of Neville/Susan as a ship, but hey--why not? And yeah, I love having Hermione mirror things that Molly does. It just amuses me.
From: andyw33 Date: December 5th, 2005 06:06 am (UTC) (Link)

Bit of a Brit-Pick

I just loved this latest Sort in the series. It had never occurred to me that
Andromeda Tonks might cause alarm to people who thought she was one of her sisters, and, like others I thought your pre-Hogwarts Hermione was perfect. In the unlikely event JKR ever describes her at this stage from other than Harry's POV, I'm sure this is how she'll appear.
The only thing I could carp at is the bit where Trevor jumps down the gap between the coaches on the Hogwarts Express. The problem there is that our trains never had this accessible gap. We went straight from completely solid coach ends with no access between coaches at all, to a totally enclosed gangway (the gap is covered with sliding metal plates and there are flexible sides and roof, and you can't see or get at the track or the coupling). As supporting evidence I'd ask how the witch with the trolley gets it between coaches if there is an actual gap. Of course the Hogwarts Express is magical, and doesn't have to be that much like a Muggle train, and the witch could levitate the trolley and protect the contents from being blown off/rained on, but I do think you might want to reconsider this bit.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 5th, 2005 06:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Bit of a Brit-Pick

Yeah, it was awkward when I realized that everyone was going back and forth on the train. Maybe Trevor can jump under the little platform. The point of the scene is to just show Neville being brave because it doesn't occur to him not to be.
From: andyw33 Date: December 5th, 2005 06:42 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Bit of a Brit-Pick

Fernwithy - yes, I can see from what you've written why Neville will get sorted the way he does, even though he doesn't yet understand that he is brave. I'm still worried about the detail though - there is no little platform between the coaches in Britain because in our climate it would rain in and the end of the coach would be awash - the effect is very like the airbridge/jetway used at airports so you can walk from the gate straight on to the plane - you know there must be a gap, but you can't see it unless you really look and there isn't enough space to drop a pen through, let alone a toad!
danel4d From: danel4d Date: December 5th, 2005 09:11 am (UTC) (Link)
A great story. I really love how Neville is perceptive enough to pick up on Hermione's nervousness.
lyras From: lyras Date: December 5th, 2005 12:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Really nice beginning. I have such a soft spot for Neville, and there isn't enough good Longbottoms fic around. I like your portrayal of Gran - she's impatient but there's still an undercurrent of love for Neville - and the scene in the hospital was beautifully drawn. I love the way you worked Andromeda in, too!

Looking forward to the next part :).
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: December 5th, 2005 01:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've got a solid case of deja vu... or are the first parts of this chapter a revised version of something you've done before? *checks back* Yep, thought so. And I like this version much better, for how you've shown Neville's parents' connection to him, for Andromeda's appearance and for Neville warming to her even in that brief instant, for how well you've shown when and why Hermione's confident persona slips to reveal the uncertainty underneath. I *love* that she's taking Neville into her confidence by confessing her doubts to him - "Do you think I overdid that?" Do you think her relationship to Neville now still involves this kind of opening up? I think she would feel safer with Neville about this sort of thing, and with good reason. Harry and Ron are such boys about expressing feelings.

You've got me craving Neville/Hermione genfics!

Back to the story. I like the way Neville goes about wishing he'd had a 'better' pet - wishing Uncle Algie had had memories of cats instead of toads, ha! :D This boy so needs a hug.

BTW, I think the action scene here is fine, even if current British trains don't have the platform between carriages. AFAIK, old trains still have those platforms - I know they still do in India, and we got those train designs from the British we were a colony - and the WW always seems to be a few steps behind with the technological advances, no? I'd assume the rain water would be taken care of with magic, and as long as wizards can do that, why would they bother upgrading to rainproof carriage connectors?

chocolatepot From: chocolatepot Date: December 5th, 2005 04:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
He'd gone through his mum's old photo albums and once found a picture of himself with another baby, both of them grinning stupidly while some adult hand waved a toy in front of them. It had been labeled "Harry and Neville, at Lily's picnic, July 1981." It had taken a bit of work, but he'd finally worked out that that baby was really the Harry Potter, and they'd known one another when they were still in nappies, and this was him...

Eee! This has recently become my dearest fantasy and you wrote it! Thank you! I love you!

Neville Neville Neville.
sannalim From: sannalim Date: December 6th, 2005 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Andromeda! Eee!

I, too, like seeing Hermione's insecurity. And what perception Neville has! I do like Neville.
hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: December 6th, 2005 06:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, you just...oh! The way you write these people makes them so REAL, I am constantly blown away. (I love JKR but I also love that your fics deal mostly with characters on the periphery of her core story, because you develop them more fully and subtly than she does.) I'm a journalist (a business journalist at that!) and a voracious reader of YA and regular fiction, and it breaks my heart that I don't seen to have any fiction in me. I envy your ability to sketch a huge, deep portrait of a person in a few words or sentences.
Ahem. ANYway. I love Of A Sort and I'm delighted that you're returning to it. I would never have thought about what was going on outside Ron and Harry's compartment, but this is perfect: The thrice-lost toad, the muggle-borns sitting together, and coming through the barrier alone (though did we see the Grangers inside the barrier at the end of one of the books? It was probably past it), Neville knowing a toad is anything but cool but being loyal to his family and his pet, etc. Two things I most loved, closely linked: You've painted Neville's emotional life so well, and I feel like the scene with his parents is drawn through the rest very subtly. When he picks up on things like Hermione's nervousness (instead of reading it as bossy obnoxiousness like everyone else does), and is just so generally hyper-attuned to emotional states around him, it really reflects back to how carefully he acts around his parents. He is so aware of fluctuations in their (seemingly static) emotional states, he's been able to develop far more of a relationship with them than outsiders can understand. As a result, in "public," he is constantly reading other people's emotional signals.
Anyway, sorry to write such a long comment. Brilliant as usual, but with even more wonderful touches! (Exceptionally good treatment of a canon scene, I guess would be the short way to put it.)
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: December 8th, 2005 12:55 am (UTC) (Link)
That's a really very touching take on Neville, and a nice little sidelight on Hermione as well. The scene with them both and Susan, Dean, et al just felt spot on. I did like the way Neville is rather brave here without even realising it when he retrieves Trevor, suggesting maybe that it's when he goes to help that shows why he's a potential Gryffindor?
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