And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.
Neville Longbottom took a deep breath as he stood, knees cracking, his unfastened black Professor’s robes unfurling from round his middle as a light breeze gusted past him. The sun was rising high in the sky now and he brushed the moist soil from the knees of his corduroy trousers.
Neville grabbed the trowel and bucket he’d been using to weed around the young mandrakes, newly planted in a patch just beyond the greenhouses. He’d planted some of the more resilient plants outside in the last few years to conserve space in the few greenhouses that weren’t damaged by the war, and while most of the repairs had already been made, he’d quite taken to working outside rather than within the translucent, weather-controlled walls.
His first year as Herbology Professor after his mentor and friend Pomona Sprout retired had not proved easy, but then nothing every truly was. In the years since the war, he’d grown stout, hearty meals shared with Hagrid and close friends during his apprenticeship preferable to the performance of dinner in the Great Hall when one was, much to Neville’s chagrin, widely considered a war hero. His wavy hair grew longer and wild like tentacula, curling round his ears and whipping in the wind. He lived a quiet life these days, for the most part, preferring to spend time with his plants or in his quarters with a book when not teaching classes, working on lesson plans, or helping struggling students understand what he and the plants were trying to teach them, about patience, about resilience.
Spring was Professor Longbottom’s favorite time of year, the time when all his hard work in the gardens, greenhouses, and around the grounds would finally pay off. He’d worked tirelessly all year, digging, planting, watering, weeding, nurturing, and soon his most beautiful plants would be in bloom.
He knelt to stroke a tightly furled green bud with calloused finger pads, observing the pink tones starting to become visible in the tiny nub.
“First nice day of the year and you’re already elbows deep in mud, I should have known,” a soft voice said from behind him. Neville turned, looking up to the pale figure dressed in grey robes, a welcomed seasonal change from his usual black.
“You were looking for me,” he answered Draco Malfoy. The Potions Master gave Neville a nod of acknowledgement before squinting his pale eyes up towards the lowering sun, his white hair flicking in the breeze and getting tangled around the silver wire spectacles he’d taken to wearing sometime in the last few years.
“I did intend to track you down on business. It seems I’ve neglected to procure the necessary ingredients for my potions lesson on sleeping draughts next week, but I fear that I may be too early in the season to find fresh Asphodel blossoms in the shops. Have they bloomed yet, Professor?”
“Yes, I believe they have. I’ll bring some by your storeroom on Monday.”
Malfoy nodded, making sure to not look too thankful lest he acknowledge Neville saving his hind, he supposed.
Friendship with Draco Malfoy, his childhood tormentor, had also not come easily. The man had been skittish, rude, and none too quick to trust. He’d stalked around the castle like a ghost, keeping to himself, relegated to the potions dungeons and his own dank quarters. None of the professors knew what to make of his presence, and it seemed that suited Malfoy just as well.
But patience, Neville thought, did come easy to some more than others, and it was something Neville knew he truly excelled at. Sneers and jeers across corridors became half-hearted hurled insults, owled bullet-pointed inventory requests became brief visits to the greenhouses for potions stock, official school business became invitations for tea, which became longer visits with debates about plant strains’ virility, which became evenings of firewhiskey and games of chess by the fire, which became, eventually, sitting quietly in Neville’e quarters on opposite ends of the sofa with books in hands and tea on the table next to forgotten papers to grade.
“You’ve dirt on your face, you know.” Draco said as they tromped side by side back towards the greenhouses.
Neville smiled easily, scrubbing at his face with an equally dirty hand, to which Draco returned a fond eyeroll.
Falling in love with Draco had come easily, at first slow and then all at once, like the rain on a grey afternoon, a light brush of lips Neville could have almost missed tumbling into fists in fabric and tangled limbs, resolving in quiet shared breaths and whispers and beaded sweat, more natural than dew settling in the morning.
Draco let himself into Neville’s quarters, shucking his crisp grey cloak by the door and rolling his sleeves up to the elbow, the black fabric wound round the wrist he used to be so protective of now nothing more than a clearly visible afterthought.
“I swear you’re going to ruin every pair of trousers that you own,” Draco said as he took in the dirt and wet stained knees of Neville’s corduroys. The blond dipped a little, brow furrowed, to try to brush at the stains. He stood, smoothing the fabric of Neville’s cardigan and straightening the dreadful bowtie he wore for class in what McGonagall deemed a rather futile attempt to dress professionally. “Leave them out and I’ll owl them to Mother, she’s much better at stain removal spells than I am. I’ll make a note to see if she’s able to transfigure them a size larger as well,” Draco said before moving towards the kitchenette.
Neville frowned, becoming aware for the first time today of the way his stomach hung slightly over the waist of the trousers in question, his thighs stretching the fabric possibly more than they’d used to. “Have I put on much weight?” He asked.
Draco raised a manicured eyebrow from the counter where he’d begun chopping vegetables into uniform sizes in neat rows. “If I thought you were getting fat I wouldn’t continue cooking for you.”
But loving Draco, this too required patience, of a different kind. Where once, prodding Draco required stubbornness, resilience, it now required nurturing and understanding. Draco had become a man of few words, since the war, and the words he did spare were often sharp around the edges. He was a tightly bound bud in late winter, but every time he preened over Neville’s robes, or cooked him dinner the muggle way, or tutted at his wildly growing hair or brought him a new rare Herbology book from the Malfoy library it seemed as if a single petal had unfurled his tight confines revealing another soft inner part of the man.
Neville smiled, dropping the subject in favor of watching Draco scrape the colorful cubes into a pot on the stove, magically brought to a boil but otherwise entirely muggle.
Neville wasn’t sure why Draco had so taken to cooking since returning to Hogwarts, perhaps Draco’d do anything to avoid supper in the Great Hall with the other professors, much like Neville, but also not at all.
Draco caught him watching. “It’s like muggle-potion making, I suppose. It calms me. Your staring however unnerves me. Go find a plant to fiddle with until dinner.”
Utterly ignoring the suggestion, Neville came closer to wrap his arms around the slight waist, pressing a kiss to the back of Draco’s neck.
“I think the muggle equivalent of a potions master would be a…” Neville tried to remember the word Hermione had taught him, “pharmacist.”
Draco hummed. “A pharmacist doesn’t make the medicines themselves.”
Neville smiled knowing that there was no way Draco knew that for certain, he only desired to have the last word on any subject. Neville would let him, of course.
“I said go find a plant or a book or something. Be useful. Dinner will be ready soon.”
Neville knew that perhaps Draco may never fully let him in; trauma like that they’d both experienced could do that to some. But every rare and beautiful part of Draco that Neville did get to see felt like a gift, something to be cherished.
Neville planted a final kiss to the side of Draco’s long neck before releasing him to finish the asparagus stew.
After dinner they sat together, Neville marking written exams, his least favorite aspect of teaching, Draco reading a volume of muggle poetry, another of his more recent hobbies. Neville supposed he could recall a younger Malfoy holed up in the library with thick tombs of wizarding history, of wars and conflicts and pureblood prophecies, but he must’ve since grown weary of despair.
The Prophet with news of Malfoy Senior’s death in Azkaban plastered across the front page still lay on the coffee table where Draco had dropped it with a horrified sob weeks ago, Neville too afraid to move or otherwise get rid of it for fear of acknowledging something Draco wasn’t yet ready to talk about. It had still been cold out then. Neville hadn’t been invited to the funeral, if there had been one.
In the absence of offer or acceptance, Neville assumed it had been decided that Draco would be spending the night as the moon rose high in the sky. They brushed their teeth side by side in Neville’s small bathroom, bumping elbows and meeting eyes in the mirror. In adulthood, Draco’s pointy features had settled into something softer, fine lines around his grey eyes becoming visible. Both shirtless, Neville was reminded that they were both riddled with scars, Neville’s jagged pink marks and Draco’s thin silvery lines. Most of his students these days were barely old enough to remember the war, but the evidence lingered in shiny tributaries across both their arms and chests; they became fainter by the day, but would never truly heal. Oddly enough, Neville didn’t think anyone else would ever be able to understand him as well as Draco, even as they’d resolved not to talk about these things long ago over a pint.
“You were just a child, you know. I don’t expect you to explain or apologize.”
“For the war or for tormenting you all those years prior?”
Neville huffed into his glass. “Both, I guess.”
“Good because I wasn’t planning on it.”
Now as they slid into bed, Draco reached for Neville’s hips wordlessly. Obliging, Neville bent to litter the pale throat, collarbones, scarred chest with little kisses, and soon spearmint flavored lips met and Draco was rolling onto him and pressing down and Neville gasped.
Draco kissed like he talked, sharp and biting, but with none of the restraint. He communicated better this way, Neville had surmised. Long fingers cupped Neville’s jaw and scraped over his stubble interchangeably as he took Neville apart with his sweet tongue. Neville could only cling to his rolling hips and whine.
“Need you,” Draco gasped into his mouth and Neville felt the words rip through his whole body, his hips shooting up by themselves to grind his clothed cock against Draco’s even tighter. Neville would be lying if he said he didn’t love this, this reassurance of Draco’s affection that could only come in broken whispers that made Neville feel whole again.
Pajamas were shed and spells were whispered. As Draco slotted himself onto Neville with a sigh, head thrown back and a loose hand around his pink cock, Neville marveled at how it was possible that this amazing feeling couldn’t solve everything. How could hatred, anger, vengeance and malice exist in the universe when this feeling existed alongside it?
Neville didn’t know how to communicate such a thought, instead whispering, “You’re stunning.” He wasn’t quite sure Draco’d heard him until he blinked his eyes open like he was surprised by the information.
Neville reached for Draco, tanned hands grabbing any pale flesh they could reach, ghosting over shaking thighs and sharp hips and a smooth stomach as Draco rocked, taking him deeper each time. Neville’s hand continued its assent to tangle in platinum hair, pulling Draco down into a desperate collision of tongue and teeth. He held tight, his heart hammering with something that felt like love, only stronger.
He tipped Draco off him onto his back, and even painfully aroused Neville took a moment to catalogue the scene before him, blond hair spread out and glistening against Neville’s dark sheets, petal-pink flush trailing all the way from high cheekbones down to full, straining cock, lean legs unfurling for him. Neville ran his hands slowly up bent calves to milky thighs pushing Draco’s knees up, until Draco spread and exposed himself fully to Neville’s gaze.
This part of Draco, Neville knew, no one else had been able to uncover before; sexual history had been much easier for Draco to discuss than any other form of history, much as it used to make Neville blush. His eyes prickled in gratitude that this lovely man had chosen him to share this special part of himself with.
Neville wanted to blink them away but instead locked eyes with Draco as he balanced on his grip on the backs of Draco’s thighs and pushed steadily back into him. Draco didn’t turn away or shut his eyes either, his gorgeous mouth dropping open with a tiny moan. Neville started a slow, deep rhythm, angling to hit Draco’s prostate, watching him fight against fluttering lids to maintain the connection while his eyes wanted to roll back in his head. The sounds of their panting filled the warm, dark room, drowning out the sound of crickets drifting in through the cracked window. Draco’s soft hands found Neville’s face, wiping the sweat forming on Neville’s brow and tucking his hair behind his ears, and then just cradling, and for a brief moment Draco smiled, truly smiled and Neville smiled back.
Biceps shaking with his quickening pace, Neville lost his grip on Draco’s thighs and fell to his elbows, one on either side of Draco’s head, and he pressed their lips together in what would be a kiss were they not both gasping into the other’s mouth. Draco’s legs wound around Neville’s hips as he tried to push down harder onto Neville’s throbbing cock. Neville fucked harder and Draco yelped, his whole body sliding up the mattress. Short fingernails dug searing crescents into Neville’s shoulders, the noisy blond wailing encouragements into the crook of Neville’s neck, yes, yes, just like that, don’t stop.
This was Neville’s favorite form of Draco, the version of himself that forgot to act put together, forgot to act cold and aloof, forgot his pride and his pureblood status and all of the terrible things they’d seen and done, forgot everything except this feeling of pleasure, of bliss, of Neville.
He fisted Draco’s leaking cock, pumping sloppily in time with his thrusts and was rewarded with a melody of desperate nonsensical whimpers. The hot flesh pulsed in his hand and then Draco was shrieking, his release shooting into the space between their heaving chests, painting Draco’s stomach and pecks and even a little up to his bared throat, head thrown back as he arched into Neville’s hand.
Neville dipped his head to suck up the bead of cum he watched land on Draco’s throat, feeling their sticky chests glue together. Neville bit Draco’s neck and buried his face into crook of his shoulder as he lost all rhythm holding Draco’s body in a vice as he fucked into him, encouraging hands rubbing his back as he whimpered and spilled into the tight heat of Draco’s body.
When Neville’s vision came back to him he unlatched his teeth from the meat of Draco’s shoulder with an apologetic kiss and gently slipped his softening cock out of him.
Neville thought it might be nice to open the window and feel the cool breeze over their drying skin, but Draco didn’t untwine his legs from around Neville and he was so, so glad. Neville had also never been good with words and he didn’t think he’d be able to find the right ones to tell Draco that he was Neville’s favorite thing in the entire world, that somehow the two of them being together made all the awful shit, the violence and terror and nightmares and everything that they’d been through fall away, that this thing they shared was not a reconciliation but an entirely new beginning. That war held no sting in two hearts where the flowers of love were blossoming.