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Kvetching, and oh, some "Of A Sort" - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Kvetching, and oh, some "Of A Sort"
Stuff they forget to tell you about life on crutches:

1. Staying off one's feet is as tiring as being on them. Sitting most of the day without getting up to pace causes discomfort in areas not generally associated with a broken heel bone.

2. Of course you know that hair washing is a hassle. They forget to tell you that it's flatly impossible to use a tub with a rounded edge. (Thank heaven, it's near the sink; I could prevent my hair from simply slipping off my head while only getting myself moderatly soaked in the process.)

3. Casts get caught on mouse cords a lot. If my mouse were a live mouse, the ASPCA would be after me for abuse this week, I've pulled it down so many times.

4. Wheeled office chairs are a girl's best friend. Once I realized I could get it out to the kitchen, I could actually cook my own food! Imagine that. I was so proud of getting enough control of the crutches to get out that that I'd completely forgotten that when I'm upright, I'm minus three limbs, not one. Now, as long something's not up too high, I can function. (My mother got a laugh out of this. Apparently my double-amputee grandfather discovered this principle of life forty years ago.)

Anyway, I think I'm getting addicted to doing my writing in little LJ boxes. Poor "Of A Sort" Neville has been stuck at the train station forever. I thought I'd see if I could get him on the train by doing it like a ficlet.

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 still want to go to the magical menagerie before we go to the station."

"The letter says I may have an owl," Neville said. "Or a cat. Or a toad."

Mum smiled and pointed to the glass box on their bedside table, where a fat toad named Trevor had his front--paws? feet? hands?--pressed up against the side. One of the rehabilitation Healers had thought it would be good for them to have a pet to care for together, and they did seem to enjoy Trevor.

"Yes, Mum. I could have a toad like Trevor."

Dad got up quickly and went to the cage, picking Trevor up in his big, broad hands. He held up out to Neville.

Neville took him. "Yes, Dad. Like Trevor."

Mum and Dad looked at each other like little children with a secret. Mum giggled and patted Trevor's head. Dad wrapped Neville's fingers up around the toad.

"Neville's going away to school, dear," Gran said softly, blinking at tears. "He won't be able to bring Trevor back to you tomorrow."

Mum patted Trevor's head, and then patted Neville's head.

Neville wasn't sure what to do. "D'you... er... mean to give me Trevor?"

Mum nodded and Dad clapped his hands. Trevor's eyes went back and forth between them without registering much feeling on the subject.

"I... I couldn't..." Neville looked to the Healer, who was watching with unhidden curiosity. "Isn't this part of their, you know, getting well?"

"Maybe it is," she said. "They're associating their son with something they've cared for. That's got to be a good thing."

"May I, Gran?"

"Wouldn't you rather have an owl or a cat?"

Neville looked down at Trevor. Owning a toad was a good way to assure teasing, and it wasn't even comforting, like a cat would be, or useful, like an owl would be.

He shook his head. "Mum and Dad want me to have Trevor," he said.

Gran sighed. "I suppose..."

Mum smiled brightly.

The Healer shook her head. "I haven't got the carrying case anymore."

"Uncle Algie has my bags," Neville said. "I can just carry him."

"Watch out. He has a bit of a kick and likes to hop about."

Neville looked at Trevor, whose main activity seemed to be sitting in his water bowl and staring around the room, and didn't believe it. "I've got him," he said.

"I'll take his cage out, then," the Healer said, and took a step into the enclosed area.

Mum made a whimpering sound and scurried to the back of the bed, and Dad covered face with his hands.

The Healer looked down at her shoes and backed out of the area.

Neville tried to kiss his parents goodbye before Gran took him off to the station, but he couldn't get them out of their poses.

He sighed and picked Trevor up. "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 smell alike."

"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've you got here? Did you decide on a pet?"

"Er... yes." Neville reached out and took Trevor, whose legs were now pumping at the air, trying for purchase. "This is Trevor, Uncle Algie."

"Good choice. Had a toad when I was a lad m'self. Out of fashion, but fine things. They should have given you something to carry him in, though, lad!"

"Frank and Alice gave Trevor to Neville," Gran said softly.

"Oh. Listen, why don't I Apparate back home and see what I can find. 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 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--who Neville thought he recognized vaguely from St. Mungo's--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, another pair of twins came through, 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.


Neville looked down 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?"


"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, Ma'am."

"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."

Obviously, to be continued. But hey... got him on the damned train! That works.


15 comments or Leave a comment
chienar From: chienar Date: August 26th, 2004 12:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Perfect. I love your development of Neville, and that his parents gave him Trevor. Can't wait to read more.
sophonax From: sophonax Date: August 26th, 2004 05:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that made my eyes watery! Neville is my favorite character in the entire series, and you've done him and his family wonderful justice. I can't say I'm really thrilled with the Andromeda-as-healer interpretation, but it was a nice way to unobtrusively show us Gran's attitudes toward the pureblood fanatics. You got Hermione, another of my favorite characters, just right as well.

And "Potions was your father's best subject"?

Not many people can explain such a huge chunk of canon in one sentence, but I think you just did it. Bravo.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 26th, 2004 06:33 am (UTC) (Link)
You did a great job on this, but Potterveise-picking here, Neville won't see people as 'a black boy' or a pair of 'Indian' twins. Caribbeans and Indians are commonplace in England. He won't mark them with titles in his head - Harry didn't. There's no where in the books where he ever thought the Patils as Indian and I daresay there are a lot of people who don't know that don't realize that the twins are.
silverhill From: silverhill Date: August 26th, 2004 10:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Lovely piece of writing -- however, I'm almost certain that a relative (I believe Uncle Algie) bought Trevor for Neville. I can't find the reference, but it's when Neville is talking about Algie dangling him out the window and then Neville is dropped and bounces. And he says his family was so happy that he wasn't a squib and Uncle Algie bought him Trevor.

I do like the notion the Trevor came from Neville's parents, though. That scene is written so well.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 26th, 2004 10:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, damn. You're right. Back to the drawing board. I was worrying about the platform 9 3/4 scene and forgot to re-read the conversation after the Sorting.

False alarm, everyone. I'll figure it out.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 26th, 2004 01:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

It could still work...

If you go with the view that Neville didn't want to tell any of his fellow classmates about his parents, the "Uncle Algie gave him to me" could work as being something Neville came up with to explain how he got Trevor, (which was what I assumed was going on) but it is, admittedly, a bit of a stretch.

sophonax From: sophonax Date: August 27th, 2004 05:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: It could still work...

Oh, oh, as much as I dearly want to believe this to save Fern's beautiful story, I don't think it could work. I just don't see Neville being quite so slick at eleven to be able to lie about something emotionally important to him without looking suspicious.

That said, Fern, you should probably write the canon-compliant chapter into the big fic at SQ, but I do hope you keep this *somewhere,* labeled AU or something. It's too good to let go.

(I'm not normally this gushy, honestly, but if I can be said to fangirl anyone, it's Neville.)
dipsas From: dipsas Date: August 26th, 2004 10:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I too loved the Andromeda-cameo, you make me more curious about her each time you write about her.
Oh and Neville... (sniff) ...so sweet that his grandmother, as stern as she may seem, thinks he has the capacity to help others even though Neville doesn't realize that himself.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: August 26th, 2004 11:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, dear. I'm sorry about the false alarm, but I'll admit I enjoyed in muchly.

Loved Uncle Algie's orange suit. Someday I shall write the scene where he drops Neville off Blackpool pier. My family's actually from B/pool. I keep a notebook of "missing" scenes I intend to write some day -- Dumbledore's twice-broken nose, the Weasley's discovering the car, Harry & Ron gone, Neville's dip in the sea, etc. I probably shouldn't admit to that! It's an odd hobby for a 35 year old mother of three. :)

I didn't love Andromeda's presence, but I haven't completely cosied up to Andromeda-as-a-healer. In my mind Andromeda is a romantic and writes Wizarding Greeting Cards or some kind of frippery -- something which would warrant Tonks calling her a "fool of a mother" even if in jest. I see her as highly romantic and pie-in-the-sky idealistic -- quite the opposite of Tonks' pragmatic (though fun-loving) self. And Ted is an Owl Trainer for the Owl Post, to me. It's hard for me to imagine them otherwise. Odd, I know.

"You know, Potions was your father's best subject. He always did well in it."

*sniffle, sniffle* Of course he was. This was so brilliant and it never dawned on me before. Not only did you explain Neville's utter in-adeptness at Potions, it explains New!Brave!Neville's success at his Potions O.W.L.

I wish you well! Poor Fern.
vytresna From: vytresna Date: August 26th, 2004 02:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I never saw a problem with Andromeda as a Healer, really - she gives me charitable vibes, somehow.

As for Uncle Algie's buying the toad, I would just say Neville was explaining it away as well. If this isn't a motivated WWP Rule #4, I don't know what is. Change nothing - I love this piece.

Ditto to everyone who praised that line about Potions - that was an AMAZING insight in a single sentence.

I'm interested to see what you say about Neville's grandfather - I'm not sure whether it would please me more that you agree with me or that you have an opinion I never thought of. Probably the latter at the moment - I'm not in the mood for vindictive pleasure right now.

Perfect characterization of Gran.

This was simply beautiful. Sentimental without being overwhelming - though I don't have a problem with overwhelming (excluding "teen issues" and the like), many do.
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: August 26th, 2004 02:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Couple of Britpicks: Neville would never say 'Yes, Ma'am.' It's just not a common term of address. Female teachers are called 'Miss' whether or not they're married.

Also, 'go and get Trevor'.

Neville's so lovely :(
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 26th, 2004 02:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
He was talking to his grandmother, not a teacher--he'd call his grandmother "Miss"?
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: August 27th, 2004 02:55 am (UTC) (Link)
He wouldn't use 'Ma'am', anyway. I'd see him using 'Sir' to Uncle Algie, but I don't know what he'd say to his grandmother. Probably just Gran.
From: leeflower Date: August 26th, 2004 02:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know how that goes, with the broken legs. I got a break in the leg just barely above the ankle a while ago... bleah.

-Showerhead attachments are a girl's best friend, too. The kinds with the hose.

-count your blessings if you're managing to get the swelling down. They had to re-do my cast because my ankle was swelling so much that I was begging them to amputate, it hurt so bad.

-office chairs, yes. sooo nice. Also, if you take one of your crutches and lean it so that it's under your leg with the shoulder part just barely on the seat of your chair, you can rest your foot on the handle. For some reason that's terribly comfy.

-pacing: heavens yes. I can't write if I can't pace. Again, wheely chairs are your friend. Try wheeling around the house a little, using your good leg and your arms. It's not a perfect replacement, but at least it's something.
purplerebecca From: purplerebecca Date: August 27th, 2004 01:44 am (UTC) (Link)
The entire concept of Neville having been given Trevor by his parents makes me tear up. ;_;
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