Title: Friends Like These
Pairing & Fandoms: Jonathan Teatime- Hogfather/ Neville Longbottom - Harry Potter
Rating: PG or PG-13
Warnings: It takes place in a school for Assassins, which should give you an idea. Also, mild possible slash.
The thin boy by the fire did not need to correct him. He simply turned and looked at Neville through the one eye that was not covered by a patch. He didn’t even blink, simply focusing his minuscule remaining pupil on Neville until the boy corrected himself.
"Er, Teh-ah-tim-eh, I mean. Look, I wanted to apologize about what my friends did. They just meant it as a prank, had no idea it would do any damage. I told them it was wrong, but they never listen to me."
Teatime showed no emotion on his face. Neville looked down at the floor.
"Just fooling around with the magic I showed them. I didn’t know they’d use it like that."
When the other boy finally spoke, it was with a voice too soft to be perfectly safe.
He didn’t seem to be waiting for an answer. It was the sort of question that was usually answered by a brake of the fifty yard dash record, but Neville couldn’t quite make himself run. The boy might be a loony, but he’d lost an eye because of what Neville had taught his friends.
Teatime said nothing for a stretch. When he saw that Neville intended to stay, he returned to looking at the fire, then asked another question.
"You don’t really want to be an Assassin, do you?"
Neville blushed, even though the answer was obvious.
"Not really. I wanted to go to the Unseen University and learn to be a wizard, but my Gran says I’ll get a better education here."
At least Neville knew Teatime wasn’t going to ask about what his parents had to say. Most of the orphans at the Assassins Guild School knew who the others were, if only because they were the ones who didn’t try to weasel their way out of punishment by asking the teacher if he knew who their father was.
"Why aren’t you with your Gran now? It’s Hogswatch Night, you know."
Teatime moved over, implicitly allowing Neville to sit down next to him. He did so, despite some hesitation. An uncomfortable silence ensued, which Teatime finally broke.
"How would you inhume the Hogfather?"
Neville blinked in astonishment for a moment, then shrugged.
"Smother him with his toys?" It was a ridiculous question, deserving a ridiculous answer. But Teatime seemed to take it seriously.
"You’d have to get the toys first. I never did."
"Not ever? No one ever gave you a Hogswatch present?"
Teatime shook his head.
"My parents didn’t. I didn’t like them- they weren’t nice to me."
He suddenly smiled as he turned to his schoolmate. The smile would have been charming on anyone else.
"Do you have a present for me?"
It wasn’t the sort of thing you could say ‘no, sorry’ to. Neville gulped, thought fast, then dug through his pockets. He finally came up with something he hoped would suffice.
"My Gran gave it to me once, to keep me from forgetting things. Hasn’t helped me much, but maybe it’ll be better for you."
Teatime took the small sphere from Neville, his odd smile growing by just the tiniest amount. Before Neville could stop him, he took off his eyepatch and put the charm where his eye used to be. Neville reared back in shock, but the sphere stayed there, and Teatime showed no sign of discomfort.
"Thank you, Longbottom. You’re my friend, aren’t you?"
And because, alone on Hogswatch Night, there was nothing else to say, Neville nodded.
"Yes, Teh-ah-tim-eh. I’m your friend."