Title: Mrs. Longbottom vs. Mrs. Longbottom
Written for: vane_nt
Prompt: Post-DH, EWE. Neville is married to Hermione. They both are a bit over 30 years old. Neville unintentionally does something *very* wrong at work (maybe one of his students is poisoned by a plant?). Although it's an accident and no one is deadly hurt, he becomes the target of much criticism from the press (Rita Skeeter anyone?), parents of students and the such. Augusta, who had been treating him well for years because she was proud to have a successful grandson, reverts back to her old harsh self and can't miss a chance to throw (verbal) stones at him, because she feels that he has hurt the family's name. However, Hermione stands firmly by her husband's side. The story should deal mainly with the conflict between the judgemental Augusta and the protective Hermione. There may be some scenes with Hermione comforting Neville. The ending could be hopeful or bitter, your choice, but please don't make it too fluffy.
Archive: If someone would like to sure. Just let me know.
Genre: General, Hermione/Neville, hurt/comfort
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of recognizable characters, places or things in the Harry Potter universe. I am not doing this for profit and purely for fun. I promise to put the toys back on the shelf when I’m done playing with them.
Word Count: 2878
Summary: Neville finds himself in the middle of controversy when a poor choice leads to a student being injured. Hermione will stand by her husband during this hard time but struggles with knowing that she cannot protect Neville from his own doubts and insecurities. However, she can protect him from Augusta.
Hermione could feel her blood boil and frustration rise as she read Rita Skeeter’s article which was featured so prominently on the front page of the Daily Prophet. Usually Hermione was able to ignore Rita Skeeter’s articles but since the last several of them had been about her husband, it was harder to turn a blind eye. It infuriated her to think that a man as good and decent as Neville could be dragged through the mud like this. How was this woman even still working? Rita Skeeter did nothing but create sensationalist stories that tore apart the reputations of some of the world’s most respected wizards and witches of the magical community. It was disgusting to think that people so eagerly bought in to the slander and lies she toted. After the tell all she had written about Albus Dumbledore so many years ago, she had hit the peak of her popularity and since then no one was out of the reach.
It had all began just a month ago before the end of the school year. Hermione only knew what Neville had written to her about after the incident had happened. He was good teacher, an encouraging teacher and when he saw a student eager to learn in his class, he wanted to do all he could to nurture that eagerness. Hermione was sure this came from that fact that he saw a bit of himself in these young boys and girls. His intentions were in the right place, but even Hermione would admit that giving a private lesson on harvesting poison from hybrid Peruvian Devil’s snare/Thorny apple plants to some of the more advanced students in his 6th year Herbology class was a lapse in judgment.
Neville’s letter had gone on to explain how one of the students had lost her handle of the plant and was poisoned by its spikes. The girl was rushed right away to the hospital wing and would make a recovery but there was still the chance that the toxin in the planet could leave neurological side effects.
Once the prophet had caught wind of the incident, they took it and ran. Even before the school year ended, there were front page articles with big bold headlines that read: HOGWARTS STUDENT NEAR DEATH AFTER POISONING!, PARENTS OF HOGWARTS STUDENTS DEMAND ANSWERS! and most recently: PROFESSOR NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM CALLED FOR REVIEW AFTER ENDANGERING STUDENTS.
Hearing the door from the garden opening and footsteps coming from into the house, Hermione folded up the newspaper and placed it in her lap. Neville of course knew that there were articles being written about what had happened and him, but Hermione still preferred to try and buffer him from what she could. His spirits were low enough since returning from Hogwarts and she didn’t believe that he needed constant reminding of what had happened.
A few moments later a small girl with a bushy main of dark brown hair came trotting into the kitchen with a basket. “We have tomatoes!” the little girl cried out as she came over to where Hermione sat at the small breakfast table.
“From a plant that she tended all by herself,” Neville said as he entered the kitchen behind the child, the pride in his daughter’s achievement clear in his tone.
Hermione smiled. It was good to see Neville in a bit of a happier mood. Ever since he had returned home, he had seemed to have a cloud of despair over him. Understandable given the circumstances but it still broke her heart to see. He had lost all confidence in himself. Insecurities and doubt weren’t uncommon with her husband, but Hermione knew that this was particularly harsh blow. Herbology was one of the few things that he truly had confidence in.
“They look delicious, Mady.” Hermione said, addressing her daughter. The little girl beamed with pride. “We can maybe use some for breakfast?”
Mady nodded, her bushy mane bobbing with the motion of her head. The little girl walked over to where her mother sat and tried to lift up the basket of tomatoes to put on to the table. Mady was barely as tall as the table though and she struggled some with getting the basket up over her head. Tipping the basket back slightly, some of the freshly picked fruits began to titter precariously at the edge, threatening to fall over. Neville stepped forward, saving the tomatoes that were going to fall and giving the basket a tiny nudge to get it onto the table top.
Looking over to his wife, he noticed the rolled up paper in her lap and frowned slightly, “Is that today’s Daily Prophet?” he asked.
Hermione looked a bit caught off guard from the question then remembered the newspaper she had tried to hide. “You don’t want to see it, Neville,” she said grabbing the paper form her lap and getting up from her seat. “Trust me on this.”
Neville reached down and picked up Mady, putting her in the chair that Hermione had vacated. The girl didn’t appear to be paying much attention to her parents as she began to take the tomatoes from the basket and line them up on the table, counting them out as she went.
Hermione went over to the counter and began to look through their cupboards for a frying pan. She let out a small sigh through her nose. Neville had cooked the night before and it seemed whenever that happened, things like cooking utensils disappeared after being cleaned. Taking out her wand, Hermione cast Accio and the pan she wanted came flying from a bottom cupboard. Setting the frying pan onto stove, Hermione then reached for a cutting board and a knife.
“What are you doing?” Neville asked, “Shouldn’t you be leaving for work?
“It’s the weekend, Neville,” she replied with a slight smile. “The ministry isn’t open on the weekend.”
“Right,” he said, giving her a slightly embarrassed look that reminded her of when they had been at Hogwarts. “Don’t know how I forgot. I just have a lot on my mind.”
Hermione went to his side and put a comforting hand on his shoulder. She felt helpless that there wasn’t much that she could do for him. She could block out everything from the world around them but she couldn’t protect him from his own thoughts and his own doubts. “We’ll just have to do something to clear your mind then. It’s the weekend; we can go and visit Harry and his family perhaps?”
“We have to see Great-Gran today,” Mady piped up.
The two adults turned to look at their daughter. She was right of course. It was a Saturday first and tired Saturday of the month it was tradition to visit Neville’s grandmother. This would be a particularly special trip since normally during the school year; Hermione would take Mady to visit with Augusta while Neville was at Hogwarts. He was home now and would be able to join them.
So, much for getting his mind off what happened. Hermione thought to herself. Neville’s grandmother would certainly have something to say about what had happened and what the Prophet were saying about it. The woman couldn’t seem to keep her comments to herself. If she had an opinion or criticism, she would voice it, no matter if it were about Hermione’s work or how they were raising Mady. Really, the only reason that Hermione tolerated the meddling was that she wanted Mady to know about her wizard side family and culture as well as her Muggle side. It also helped that over the years, Augusta seemed to be rather proud of Neville and his accomplishment.
“So, it is,” Neville said with a smile to their daughter. He looked to be happy but behind his smile Hermione could see nervousness at the thought of facing his grandmother. “We had better get breakfast cooked and eaten then. We don’t want to keep Gran waiting all day.”
Hermione could remember the first time that she had met Augusta Longbottom at St. Mungo’s in 1995. The woman, though very tall, thin and severe looking, had been very civil to her, Ron and Harry. Interacting with Augusta in the present day was very different now that Hermione was Neville’s wife. Augusta was a formidable woman, both with her magic and her sharp tongue. Since Hermione was a member of the family, she was now open to Augusta’s scrutiny. Quite often Augusta liked to compare herself and Hermione. She saw them as very similar, both having married into the Longbottom family.
The three adults sat out in the back garden of Augusta’s home, watching Mady as she played. “Has she shown any signs of magic yet?” Augusta asked looking to her grandson.
“Not yet, Gran,” Neville replied in a timid tone. It was clear what Augusta might be hinting towards. She had been worried that Neville was a squib back in his youth, now she was worried that perhaps his offspring was. “She’s still very young, though. That’s more than enough time for it to come out.”
Augusta didn’t look convinced. She reached down for her tea cup and brought it up to her pert lips before pausing. “I think having her go to that Muggle school is repressing her abilities. She’s young, impressionable. How is she expected to blossom into her magic if she’s surrounded by people that do not have that ability?”
She took a sip of her tea before playing it back down and nodded in a matter-of-fact way before saying, “She should be around other young witches and wizards.”
“Mady’s not isolated from the magic community, Augusta,” Hermione insisted with a frown. “There are plenty of magical children that she has interactions with. Going to a Muggle school has never stunted anyone’s magic.” After all, many Muggleborns went to Muggle primary school before receiving their Hogwarts letter. Hermione herself being one and she believed herself to be a very capable witch.
“But what if she becomes too afraid at someone finding out? She should be proud of her heritage. She comes from a long line of very powerful witches and wizards,” Augusta said with pride in her tone.
Then she sighed through her nose and glanced over to Neville again. “Or perhaps it’s best that she goes to school with Muggles. None of them would know of this disgrace to the family name and luckily she’s also too young to really understand how foolish her father is.”
Hermione looked over to Neville whose gaze was lowered. Despite all the respect that he gave to his grandmother, she still felt a need to criticize him. Sometimes Hermione wished that he would stand up to her but then if he did that, he wouldn’t be the Neville that she knew and loved.
“I mean, really, Neville,” Augusta continued, feeling no need to hold back now that the topic had been broached. “What were you thinking? You have gained so much respect and dignity over the years but, of course, you manage to mess it all up. I’m embarrassed to show my face in public. You are not a little boy anymore. You are a husband and a father; you need to start thinking about how your actions affect not just you but all of us.”
“I thought I was helping—“ Neville began but Augusta cut him off.
“And yet all you’ve managed to do was send a girl to St. Mungo’s and put our family name in the papers to be ridiculed and scrutinized.”
Neville took a deep breath and let out a heavy sigh before he pushed back his chair and stood up. “I’m going to check on Mady.” He said quietly before leaving the two women.
Hermione looked over to Augusta. With Neville gone, she felt she didn’t have to hide the disapproving look. Augusta looked back at Hermione, her chin lifted slightly to show that she wasn’t intimidated by the younger woman. The two witches remained silent, daring the other to break eye contact first.
“You’re too hard on him.” Hermione finally said, turning her gaze away to look over to Neville. This wasn’t a game. She wasn’t going to get into a battle of dominance with Augusta. “He’s in a very bad place right now, being attacked on all sides and you feel the best response is to berate him?”
Augusta looked rather pleased that Hermione was the first to give in. “You will understand when you are matron of the family, Hermione. Even if he is an adult, he is still my grandson and Neville has never quite lived up to his family honor.”
“Never quite lived up to his family honor?” Hermione asked with a laugh. “He’s a brilliant wizard, Augusta and a brilliant teacher, husband and father. You’ve been proud of him up till this point. He makes one mistake and now you want to throw him to the wolves. You talk about family honor but what about family loyalty. This is just a situation where we should be banding together as a family.”
Augusta seemed to straighten in her seat. She was a proud woman, powerful, not used to being talked back to. Hermione had a suspicion at times that Augusta didn’t look at her very favorably or see her as the strong, woman and future matron of the Longbottom house. Or maybe she just didn’t want to see it.
“He has accomplishments, I will give him that. But he still needs to be pushed and reminded to think of his family honor. He would so easily throw it away.”
“You’re wrong, Augusta.” Hermione said, lowering her voice a little so only her and the older woman could hear. “He is loyal to a fault. Look at his relationship with you. You turn on him so easily and he takes it. He hates disappointing you. He loves and respects despite everything you say to him.”
Augusta did not look moved by the girl’s words. She looked out to her grandson and
great-granddaughter. “You don’t understand, Hermione,” she began. “I am Neville’s nearest relation after his parents were sadly incapacitated. His interests have always been my priority. I want him to be the best that he can be. If that means I must push him to it, then that is what I must do. You will come to understand that Hermione.”
Hermione shook her head. She did not believe that was the best way for Augusta to deal with the matter. She didn’t doubt that the woman loved her grandson but her expectations for him were far beyond what should be expected of anyone. She didn’t quite know what Augusta meant by sating that she would one day understand. Hermione certainly didn’t think that she would ever treat her daughter, or any other children that she and Neville may have as Augusta treated Neville. Hermione just didn’t see the benefits in constant nagging and berating.
“I still believe you are too harsh. I know he made a mistake and he is suffering for it. He doesn’t need any more punishment from people that are supposed to love and support him,” she said to the older woman before pushing back her seat. She could argue with Augusta all day about this and not make any headway. The woman was stubborn and believed that she was in the right. After all, she had raised Neville for seventeen years with the same outlook. Hermione just couldn’t stay quiet with it, especially if Augusta were going to harsh Neville in front of her. She wanted to stand up for Neville, even if he wouldn’t do it himself.
Hermione took a step into the garden with the intent of going over Neville and Mady. “Wait a moment, Hermione!” Augusta called after her, standing up herself.
Hermione stopped and looked back at the older woman. “I would also ask you, in the future, not to infer that our daughter is a squib,” she said, wanting to get this in now while she still had the chance. “Neville will always come to visit you. You are his gran and he will treat you with respect because that’s how he is. However, if you start treating my child how you treat him, I will not stand to allow you to see her.”
If Augusta was going to say something, she thought better of it. She just gave the younger woman a hard stare. Hermione felt that she had won the battle, at least one them, but she knew that there would be more. As long as Augusta was alive, she would always be who she was and had been for years. She would always be a strong, opinionated woman who believed that she was protecting her family. Just as Neville would always have his doubts and insecurities. Hermione had no choice but to accept this and accept what she could and could not change.
Hermione was satisfied with this slight win though. As she turned back and went to Neville and Mady, she felt as though she had been able to do something this afternoon; for Neville, for her daughter and for herself.
- Harry Potter - Mrs. Longbottom vs. Mrs. Longbottom