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Rule #45: Girls need to hear how you feel about them often. Tell her now.

“Alton. Hey. Hey. Alton.”



This last exclamation was accompanied by a pinch. It might have been tiny, but it definitely stung, and suddenly Q was back in the present, back in reality, back on the bed in his dark flat with the clock on the bedside table showing: “3:00. In the morning. [Name], what do you want at 3:00 in the morning?”

In answer, he got only a shove. Again, it wasn’t hard, but he found himself letting out a dramatic groan anyway. Why the hell were you waking him up well before the crack of dawn? Just because you would sleep in past 11:00 didn’t mean that he was about to! He was still tired out from the previous day’s trip, whether or not he could rely on his internal clock to wake him exactly at 6:00.

“You complete ass, Alton!” you cried when he did nothing but blink wildly up at you. “You said you’d sleep with me tonight.”

Weren’t we asleep?”

“That’s not what I meant!”

Still drowsy, Q could practically feel his brain putting off smoke as it tried to comprehend the absolute gibberish spouting from your mouth. It was 3:00 and he was in his pajamas in bed. You were on the bed, still in your clothes from the long day before. Squinting up at your blurred shadow, Q groped for his glasses on the nearby table. Only when he slipped them on did he see how deeply you were scowling. “What did you mean, then?” he asked groggily. “So we can get this nonsense over with and I can go back to bed.”

“Nonsense!” For once, Q found himself almost convinced that you might actually hit him. The threat had always been in good fun, as far as Q had understood—although perhaps that was because he always found the subject of the argument so ridiculous that of course you must have been kidding about getting physical, too. And, of course, you didn’t hit him now, either, but that didn’t mean you didn’t look seriously tempted. “It is not nonsense to want to have sex with you!”

Q disagreed. Not that having sex with you was the worst thing in the world, but this distinct drive you had for him was quite exhausting. Especially in the early morning hours when he had not the foggiest idea of where this was coming from. “[Name],” he said, voice still somewhat slurred, “could you please explain what on god’s green earth you are talking about?”

“This afternoon, you said that you’d sleep with me tonight if I agreed to stop stalking you. And here I wake up and you’re asleep. Did you just carry me up here from the car?”

He had to think about that for a minute. What had happened once the two of you had got home? “Yes,” Q answered finally. Because, he recalled, waking you up would have reminded you that he had promised to have sex with you this evening and, “Oh. I see what you mean.”

“Oh, you do, do you?” you snapped.

“[Name].” Q couldn’t entirely help whining, late as it was. “I’m sorry, all right? But I am too tired to roll around with you on the sheets right now.”

He was met with eerie silence. Then: “You’re always too tired to roll around on the sheets.”

“That is not the case.”

“You’re too tired, you’re too busy, you don’t feel like it. What is it? Is it me?”

Q let out a sigh. Even with his glasses on, he could barely see the ceiling that he stared at. Had he known that this would be how his night would go if he forewent sex and tried to sneak in a few hours of sleep in its stead, he would have just gone ahead and done the deed. At least then you would have been too tired to pester him this early in the morning. He was just setting up to feel quite sorry for himself when he heard—well, Q couldn’t quite discern what he was hearing. Not crying exactly, but something soft and hushed. You were muttering to yourself, he realized, and had rolled over onto your side to prevent his hearing properly. Q struggled into a seated position to listen. Heaven knew if he wasn’t getting any sleep that night, you weren’t.

“What was that?” he asked.



Insisting on pestering you, apparently, was a mistake. You rolled right over and shot him a glare that Bond probably would have applauded. “I said I just don’t get it! I’m cute, aren’t I? When we were in school, people used to tell me I was too cute to be going after a geek like you.”

“Gee. Thanks,” said Q.

You closed your eyes. “I guess they were wrong.”

That Q must have heard wrong. Either that, or he had entered some bizarre fever dream. He was tempted to turn back over and just pretend the whole event hadn’t happened, but he was well aware of what would arrive in the morning if he did. Another month of not being on speaking terms with the one person he lived with did not sound appealing just then. He sighed, pushing his hair off his forehead. “What were they wrong about, [Name]?” He didn't sound too interested even to his own ears, but it seemed to be enough for you.

“About me being too cute. You never want to sleep with me. You’d sleep with me if I was cute.”

Really? Really? This was the time you chose to have this conversation? This couldn’t have waited until breakfast? “Whether or not you’re cute isn’t the problem. I don’t want sex,” he said, unable to entirely keep himself from sounding cross. “Every once and awhile is fine, but I don’t see why you need to have it every other week.”

“Every other week?” you burst out. “Al, it’s been two months! It’s pretty obvious you’re not attracted to me.”

For all the vehemence when you’d began the argument, he could hear it draining away as you finished your last sentence. Silence again. And again another soft sound, only this time, it was most definitely tears. Good lord, Q wanted to go back to bed. How best to end this quickly? His weary brain took some time to come up with a response, and by then you had stopped crying. Perhaps he could just pretend this whole night hadn’t happened. If only you were unconscious. Q could hope.

“[Name]?” he said. “Are you asleep?”

“No.” You sounded miserable. Q sighed again. He was going to have to go through this after all, then.

“You are,” he began awkwardly, “the only woman I’ve ever even slightly desired carnal relations with. Does that make you feel better?”


“Why not?” he demanded.

“Because I don’t believe you.”

Q groaned. He knew where this was going: where this always went. It was his own fault, really. If Q had just woke you up when he’d had the opportunity, both of you would be snoring at this moment. “I’ll go get a condom,” he said dully as he started to get out of bed—only to feel the bed shift under your weight, too, as you leaned forward to grab his shoulder.

“No," you said. "Not tonight. Are you crazy? It’s 4:00 in the morning.”


“We can do each other in the afternoon. Goodnight!” With that, you swooped back down into your pillow. Q could only stare. What had just happened? Was he in trouble or not? You, however, were no longer awake to answer him, leaving Q with nothing else to do besides settle back down and think one word to himself: ‘Women.’ How Bond could handle them day in and day out was beyond Q, and he fell asleep quite thankful that he only regularly had to deal with one.

QxReader: Logical Fallacy [Ch. 45]
Chapter 45 of 102 of my Logical Fallacy collection.

Here, have a thing no one cares about.You could say that about all my writing these days though.

I still haven't seen Spectre yet. Still? It's only been out for like...three days. I just didn't get a chance to this weekend. I intend to go next weekend, though! Not that I expect anybody to, but if you leave a comment, please don't spoil anything. Much appreciated! I will make sure to warn you via comments when I start incorporating stuff from that movie into this collection. Which, considering how often I update things, will probably be ten more years. 

Y'know, I'm watching a lot of Star Trek: The Next Generation now, and it's sort of hilarious trying to imagine that Q doing any of this. But obviously if I was going to write TNG fic, it would be about Data, not Q.

Previous Chapter: 44. Drive Me Wild
Current Chapter: 45. Too Early for This
Next Chapter: TBA

You should have known that day would be a trial from the very moment you woke up. Dead silence meant the air conditioner had fizzled out overnight; the empty space beside you in the bed meant your boyfriend had already attempted to escape to cooler pastures. Not that his absence was that bad, all things considered. Your phone said it was already reaching the nineties, and that it was only 9:00. With all of Bucky’s bulk, you’d probably have broiled in your bedsheets. This was not a Saturday morning to stay in and cuddle. Then again, Bucky wasn’t your responsibility on Saturday mornings anyway. No, Sam dragged him out to go running each every weekend.

Your bare feet stuck to the wood floor as you shambled desperately for the stairs. At least you’d be below the heat while you made a call to the technician. Heaven help you if you didn’t have this issue cleared up by the time Bucky came in from his run. You’d have thought that someone that had been through what he’d been through could manage a little decorum in the summer, but no. Thank goodness he was with Sam today. That was your day’s only saving grace—especially when it turned out that no one could come fix the blasted air conditioner until that afternoon.

“Six hours? Don’t they realize people are dying out—what are you doing here?” Rounding the corner into your kitchen, you found a familiar sight: Bucky, his forehead plastered to the bar counter, his hair spilling across its surface. He did nothing to respond to your shock at seeing him there. In fact, Bucky didn’t move at all. If you hadn’t known how good he was at staying still, you might have thought he was dead.

“Hey. Buck,” you said as you approached him. “What are you doing? You’re supposed to be out with Sam.”

A groan.

“Seriously. Running is your Saturday thing. Especially while Steve’s away. You know Sam says that even if he’s on his honeymoon—”


“What was that?”

Bucky lifted his head with what appeared to be a great deal of effort. “It’s…too…hot,” he enunciated.

“Well, I’ve got bad news for you. It’s not getting any colder any time soon. I called the company. They can’t come by until three.”

Several choice swears issued from Bucky’s mouth as he lolled across the counter. Though you crossed your arms in front of your chest at this display, you couldn’t entirely mask a smile at his expense. Here was this big, enemy, (sort of) Russian soldier, pumped up on science and torture…and he melted as soon as the thermometer crept above seventy-five. Not that Bucky’s past was all that funny, really. Still, you’d figure him to be a smidge more resilient. Living with him for the past few months had proven Bucky to be anything but.

“Can’t we get Stark to come out and fix it?” Bucky demanded. “Permanently?”


“Why not?”

“Maybe because last time he was here, you threatened to kill him?”

“He’s a jackass.”

“And yet you want him to repair our air conditioner.”

Bucky pressed his face into his arm. “It’s hooooooot.”

“Hey. Here’s an idea: Ever think of cutting your mane?”

He stopped his miniature tantrum long enough to shoot you a glare. Now you really were grinning. Bucky’s hair was a point of contention between the two of you for no real reason. You actually loved his stupid long hair, but he was nearly thirty, physically. How many thirty-year-olds kept their hair like that? With Steve gone off with Sharon for who knew how long, you had to take it upon yourself to keep up Bucky’s regular ribbing.

“Just saying,” you said with a shrug. “You might feel better if you let your brain get some oxygen.”

His face disappeared into the countertop again. You thought you heard him mutter something about not needing Sam because having you around was like Steve not even being gone. Before you could bask in this praise, however, the doorbell rang. Again, Bucky didn’t move. Probably wouldn’t for the rest of the day. You sighed.

“I’ll get it.”

Without waiting to see if your boyfriend remained conscious, you padded out to the front door. You thought the silhouette outside the windows looked familiar, and it was. When you opened the door, there was Sam, smiling as always—but not at you. His eyes landed on your figure for not two whole seconds before they slid somewhere up and behind you. “Hey, man. Missed you this morning.”

You didn’t have to turn around to know that Bucky had followed you here. Years had passed, and still he was convinced that there were people out to retrieve him. Maybe there were. If making sure you weren’t letting HYDRA agents into the building helped soothe some of his well-placed paranoia, you weren’t going to stop him, so long as he didn’t shoot anyone else dead on the front lawn.

“Sorry,” Bucky muttered in answer. His metal fingers came up to pull the door from your grip. His dedication to making sure no one in nearby vehicles wanted to shoot you was touching, considering just his remaining standing was an impressive feat in this heat, but also unnecessary given that Sam likely had no inclination to murder his friends’ significant others. “It’s…it’s really hot.”

“At least if you’re running, there’s a breeze,” said Sam, “but you don’t got to explain yourself to me. Listen—”

"Don’t bother,” came a voice. As if from thin air, Sam’s girlfriend Natasha materialized next to him. She looked particularly put out as she tossed her sheet of red hair behind her. “Theirs is broken, too.”

“How can you tell?” Sam asked.


Sam did. “I don’t hear anything.”


“You’re good.”

“Is this going to take much longer?” Bucky interrupted. Far be it from him to endure anyone’s public displays of affection on a good day, let alone a day like today. Hypocritical? Yes. Unfortunately, now was not the time to distract him with some flirting of your own. Rather than stabbing him (as you would not blame her for doing), Natasha just rolled her eyes.

“Don’t get your panties in a wad,” she said. “We know it’s hot. It’s not our fault the grand plan of mooching off your cold air fell through.

“Well, thanks for coming.” Bucky’s grand plan to slam the front door in his friends’ faces fell through when it became apparent you were still standing in the way. While Sam tended to your poor throbbing foot a few minutes later, Natasha and Bucky continued to go at it. Listening to them, it would be hard to tell how close they really were. Two ex-Russians in D.C.’s hottest summer on record really did spell trouble for anyone around them. You wondered how Sam was managing. At least your ex-Russian didn’t have the energy for attempted murder.

“Lucky for you,” Natasha was saying once Sam ascertained that Bucky hadn’t broken any of your toes, “we have a Plan B.”

“What’s Plan B?” you asked before Bucky could pick another irrelevant fight, and before they could all forget you were there again. Understandably, you often went unnoticed during conversations like this with Bucky’s more able companions. Your only claim of power was the ability to distract a half-crazy assassin with boobs, and you didn’t even have that going for you at present. Thankfully, Natasha was ready enough to move that she did not choose to ignore you in favor of continued poking at Bucky.

“We’re going to the mall,” she answered. Not a bad idea. Your best option here was to fill the bathtub with ice and let Bucky stew in it all day. Unfortunately, this was not as sexy as most people would expect—though admittedly nothing sounded sexy on a day like today.

“No, we’re not,” said Bucky.

“You know what the mall has?” Natasha asked as though she hadn’t heard him.


“Air conditioning. And ice cream. And sodas with ice…”

It turned out she didn’t have to sound half as convincing as she tried to be. Natasha’s words trailed away as she smirked, and immediately Bucky was headed out the door, like the two of them hadn’t been at each other throat’s thirty seconds ago. Sure, he made sure to grab your wrist and tug you out behind him, but that was no more romantic than a four-year-old reaching for his security blanket.


Why?” Natasha and Bucky demanded in unison. You scowled and pulled your hand back to yourself.

“I need to get dressed.”

“You look fine,” said Bucky. “Let’s go.”

You looked down at what had passed for pajamas the night before: a pair of Bucky’s old boxers and a tank top so worn you couldn’t even remember what color it was supposed to be. Then you shot Bucky a look. His only response was to bite his lip and let out a small, annoyed whine.

“It’ll take me five minutes,” you said. “How old are you supposed to be, again?”

“Ninety-five. I’m too old to wait for you young ones to get your face on.”

“How about I promise to take you to Denny’s for the early bird special to make up for it? Maybe we can find you a date more your age, Grandpa.”

His lips gave a strange sort of spasm, but Bucky wasn’t quite ready to smile just yet. You hurried back upstairs to change into the smallest amount of clothes that you could manage without exposing yourself, or tantalizing your easily-tantalized boyfriend. For once, Steve wasn’t around to blink and fret over your choice in wardrobe, and you couldn’t even take advantage of it. Even if Bucky had been in the mood to jump your bones, you wouldn’t have let him. A quick run of a brush through both your hair and mouth, and then you bounded back down the stairs—or, more accurately, slithered back down the stairs. Sam and Natasha were sitting on the couch (not holding hands for once). Bucky sat slumped against the wall by the door. He looked up at your approach, a familiar spark entering his eyes when he caught what you were wearing…only for that spark to die away almost immediately. Yes, it really was that warm outside.

“We ready to go?” Sam asked as he stood up. Bucky didn’t even bother to answer, just stood up and opened the door. This was not much of an improvement, what with all the sun out there, but it was clear that neither he nor Natasha intended to stick around much longer. Sam’s eyes met yours. “You’re in the front with me.”

Either Sam was very brave, or he didn’t care much about his car. The three of you each slid into the car, Sam in the driver’s seat, you beside him, and Bucky and Natasha in the back. Sam cranked the air out of habit. For a few minutes, you thought things might be okay. Natasha and Bucky were too hot to cause any trouble, you were headed somewhere cool for the time being, and with any luck your conditioner back home would be fixed by the time you were ready to go to bed.

Then Sam had to go and ruin it.

“So, Bucky,” he said as he adjusted his rearview mirror at a spotlight, “how you holding up?”

Bucky didn’t answer, not until he let out a pained sort of gasp that made it sound like Natasha had elbowed him. “Why?” was all he said even then, though—not exactly a real answer. Sam shrugged.

"You didn’t show up for our run this morning. Thought you were starting to enjoy those.”

“I already told you. It was hot.”

“I know. Just wondered if it was something else.”

You could see what was coming a mile away. Too busy trying to get some of the air vents turned in your direction, however, you didn’t think to stop Sam while he was ahead. In your defense, Natasha probably knew where this was going, too—unfortunately, she probably didn’t care.

“What sort of something else?” Bucky asked flatly.

“How you holdin’ up with Steve gone?”

You winced. “I don’t want to talk about it,” said Bucky. “He’s not dead. I’m fine.”

“It’s fine to not be fine, you know. If you’re a little jealous that he’s out with Sharon right now—”

“Sure, Sam,” you cut in before Bucky could. Again, there was no need for you to look to see Bucky’s reaction. He’d be sinking further and further down in his seat, with his arms over his chest, and his blue eyes fixed icily out the window. “He’s jealous of Sharon. That’s exactly it. Bucky wants to be on some beach drinking virgin piña coladas with Steve, watching the sunset.”

“Steve does have the biggest cup size out of the three of you,” Natasha mused, “and we all know Sergeant Barnes likes breasts.”

“I don’t like your breasts,” Bucky shot back.

“That’s a shame, because they’re almost as nice as Steve’s.”

“Hey, hey, hey,” said Sam. “Look, let’s put an end to all the talk about breasts. Mine are clearly the best out of everyone we know. If anybody’s lusting after anybody, it’s me that’s being lusted after.”

“Sure, dear,” Natasha said, leaning forward to affectionately tug on Sam’s ear. You would never be sure if it was that, or Sam’s attempts to diffuse the situation that finally spurred Bucky onto action. All you knew was the very next second, his door opened. Everyone looked over, you with your hand on the door handle as you prepared to throw yourself out after him. Fortunately, Sam had already came to a stop. Bucky was not running through traffic once again, but rather standing in a parking lot, looking wilted and confused.

“We’re here,” Sam announced unnecessarily as he stepped out of the vehicle.

Bucky BarnesxReader: Freezer Burn
One man. One Woman. One heatwave.

Some Steve/Sharon
Some mostly sarcastic Steve/Bucky

I started writing this month ago and now I don't if I'm ever going to finish it. It's not as cute as I thought it was. .~. And there's no really coherence in plot; it's just "Bucky's Adventures in Being Normal." Blargh. I'm feeling too barfy to do much else with it today. Just gonna try to take a nap and then watch Star Trek: TNG for a little bit. Boohoo.

“[Name], what’s the matter with you?”

Though you knew Georgianna and Karen were with you, though you knew you were safe in the local mall, and though you knew your houseguest had absolutely no reason to follow you here since it would endanger him more than it would endanger you, you jumped. The fingers that had been playing with the soft fabric of the men’s jacket in front of you lurched away. Georgianna was watching you closely through her dark eyes—far too closely. Realizing it had been her asking the question, you swallowed.


“Don’t give me that,” Georgianna said, and you wished all over again Karen was out there with you, rather than in a dressing room. Georgianna’s eyes were sharpest, and though Kat’s tongue was certainly sharper, Georgianna had a special way of making you want to crawl into bed and never come out. Sometimes this was helpful—other times, not so much. “You’ve been quiet this whole time.”

“I’m always quiet.”

“Not this quiet.”

Georgianna had always been the one you tried your hardest to avoid. Not Kat, who might have looked mean and had a tongue like shattered glass, but usually backed away at the earliest sign of trouble, afraid to watch you self-destruct. Not Karen, who usually fluttered softly around you during any episodes, but felt too bad to prevent them entirely. No, Georgeianna was the one that kicked your butt first and asked questions later. Admitting your mistake to her was the last thing you wanted to do. You’d sooner tell Kat who you’d invited into your home and let her punch your face in than endure Georgianna’s disappointment.

“I’m fine, George. Just a little tired.”

“That’s what you said last time,” she said. “You sleeping all right?”

“Yes, George. I just have a lot to think about.”

“Because you went to the museum?”

You smiled, hoping this was explanation enough. In fact, your recent trip to the Commando’s exhibit had been the farthest thing from your mind. Since you’d given into your houseguest’s demands, all you had thought about was what you were going to do with him—but now you were out and about and you wondered if there was anything you needed to do. Sure, he was scary, but why did you believe him? Maybe it was just what Kat had said what felt like so long ago: This guy had gone through some tough stuff. And what had he promised you in return? Tough stuff. Maybe he wasn’t even who he said he was. Maybe you were just an enormous sucker.

“If that’s the case,” Georgianna interrupted your attempts to soothe yourself, “why’d you come along just to buy a bunch of men’s clothing?”

You did your best not to wince and simply smile your blandest smile again. “I got some extra money. I thought it might be nice to donate it to someone else.”

Georgianna looked at you, long and hard. You gazed back, willing her not to read the lie in your every word. It wasn’t that you wanted to lie, especially not to the three women you loved more than anything else in the world, but he had said they were in danger, too. Whether it was from him or his—people didn’t really matter. You had to keep Georgianna safe, and Kat and Karen. That was worth lying more than to protect a murderer before you knew he was a murderer.

‘Please forgive me.’ The prayer asked for serenity to accept the things you could not change, and goodness did you need that now. You couldn’t change what you had already done. This man was in your house, in your life, and threatening all the aspects of it that you had come to love in the past year and a half. If nothing else, you needed to keep your head.

Just before Georgianna could demand a real explanation, Karen came bouncing out of her dressing room to model a sundress.

“Oo, that looks cute!” she squealed at the jacket you’d been fondling. “You getting all this stuff for that guy? The one crashing on your couch?”

“Guy?” Georgianna asked, eyes narrowing slightly in your direction. “You mean that same guy Karen mentioned last Friday?”

Karen cringed. “Oopsie.”

“I didn’t know he’d stayed this long.” Maybe Georgianna was pretending to be casual, but you knew she was worried. Why wouldn’t she be? You kept yourself on a strict schedule, and you ran a tight ship. Guys weren’t part of either of those. You’d given up on dating, given up on romance, given up on sex in your attempt to keep yourself clean. Such activities were too tainted for you to remember pleasantly, or feel comfortable safely inserting yourself into again. During your chosen sober moments, you’d never had a man over—not in over a year now.

“Oh, I’m sure he’s safe, George!” Karen rushed to your rescue. You shot her subtle appreciative look. She was better at lying than you were—or, well, since you’d decided to give up lying until the evening before, anyway. “I met him, actually. Didn’t do anything dangerous.”

You noticed that she neglected to mention that your guest had been asleep when she had met him, and that she’d also threatened to beat him over the head with her purse for scaring the heebie-jeebies out of you following you home. Georgianna eyed her suspiciously for one second too long, though, and that had Karen ducking back into the dressing room quicker than you could blink. Georgianna sighed as she slumped on the wall.

“You gonna be done anytime soon?” she called.

“Probably not!” Karen sang back. Judging by the amount of clothes she had taken inside with her, you privately agreed. Privately being the key word, though Georgianna wasn’t about to let you off the hook that easy. She caught your eye and gestured for the store entrance.

“Let’s grab a bite to eat.”

Not that you looked forward to being alone with Georgianna, but you gathered up your purchases and headed after her into the food court. One parfait and half an iced-tea later, and you were starting to feel a little cheerier. You could still look forward to your guest having changed his mind and run off while you were gone, and your friends weren’t prying nearly as badly as you had expected them to. Then your companion had to go and ruin things by sighing.

“Look,” she said as you stiffened in anticipation, “I’m sorry about earlier. You’re a big girl. If you want to keep guys over, you can. I just want you to be safe. That’s all.”

Even after Georgianna changed the subject to something more comfortable, it took you a couple of minutes to feel up to responding. You slowly finished your drink and let your muscles loosen before you made any attempt at all. “‘Course I’m going to be safe,” you answered finally. “Why wouldn’t I be safe? I’m still going to see my sponsor. I go to meetings every week. I don’t want to go back.”

Georgianna regarded you over her soda. “That’s not the only thing you have to worry about these days, you know?” Then she surprised you by smiling and shaking her head before combing her fingers through her short, dark bangs. “Sorry, sorry. I’m just a nervous wreck lately. We keep getting calls about that ghost assassin. Kinda wish they’d just call the ghostbusters on his ass.”

She looked at you shyly, and you realized this was George’s way of making a joke. You chuckled to humor her, but inside your intestines were tying themselves into knots. They were looking for him. Maybe that was good, though? The news had had plenty photographs of the carnage left in this man’s wake. But if they found him with you, then there would be no way to explain that you hadn't been a part of that carnage, too.

“No ghosts in my apartment, George. Promise,” you assured her, smiling. Even that hurt. What on earth were you turning into?

Bucky BarnesxReader: Tastes a Little [Ch. 16]
Part 16 of 100 of Tastes a Little like Freedom, a Little like Fear

Writing short chapters is hard. Writing long stories makes it difficult to pace. What have I got myself into?

Previous Chapter: 15. Backfire
Current Chapter: 16. Honesty
Next Chapter: TBA

Thor gave up pretty quickly on trying to convince you to eat. Part of you felt stupidly disappointed about this—having anyone concerned over your wellbeing was touching—but you mostly felt relieved. You could not have touched your plate of expensive meat if you had wanted to. How could you consider putting something in your stomach when you felt you could barely get oxygen into your lungs? Every eye in the room was on you, or so it felt. The longer you did nothing of interest, however, the more people turned away to their previous occupations of dancing and eating and talking. Your gaze did fall once upon Darcy to see her grin, wink, and gesture toward Thor, but you looked away from her quickly enough to ignore that.

Did she really think it was so easy? For Darcy, maybe it was. She could sit up there, eat, schmooze, play nice with her new husband. You wouldn’t have wanted her in this position any more than you wanted to be in your position, though. The only person you wanted up here was Jane, and Jane was nowhere to be found.

Your trembling hands balled into fists around the tablecloth. It was the only thing you could do to distract yourself from the burning in your eyes and the churning in your stomach. Unfortunately, this was something that Thor noticed. “Are you alright?” he asked.

“I need some fresh air,” you answered, throat so tight that the words came out as a whisper.

“I think that would be ill-advised. If you could only wait—”

You were already on your feet. If leaving would cause problems, then by God you were going to leave. Because what were you other than a problem? Of course everyone turned to look at you again, look at the stupid, gawky, out-of-place Midgardian woman that had drunkenly stumbled into their midst. 'Let them look', you thought as you tried your best to walk primly to the balcony doors across the floor from the head table. What did it matter? Your father-in-law already hated you, as did your husband, as did your best friend. You had no one left to offend, so you might as well do what you damn well pleased.

You kept your back straight and your eyes forward until your hand found the doorknob. As soon as you pushed out onto the balcony, you allowed your face to crumple. Your back stayed the same even once the doors swung shut behind you. The sounds of music and laughter that you could not help but assume was at your expense cut off with a faint click. This allowed you to be alone a last, to finally cry…but you didn’t. You fixed your eyes on the sparkling, unfamiliar constellations above and tried to simply breathe.

Perhaps the oxygen up here wherever the heck you were supposed to be was thinner, or maybe it was cleaner, but whatever the reason, it made your head spin. Those distant pinpricks of light danced around you until you let out a long-held breath and let your forehead fall against your arms resting on the railing. “I really am an idiot.”

“’scuse me, but this balcony’s already reserved for pity party, party of one? You’re gonna have to wait your turn.”

At this point, you were tired even of being startled by people. You lifted your head and found Clint perched a few feet away on the very same balcony you were supporting yourself on. He wasn’t dressed for the occasion. In fact, he was wearing the same clothes you’d seen him in last—you thought. Really, you hadn’t been in the best state of mind to notice such things lately. You wished you were. Now here was another of Jane’s friends to disappoint. “What are you doing here?” you asked dully.

“I could ask you the same question,” he answered. “Don’t you ever knock? Está ocupada.”

“No es un baño, asno.”

Clint smiled as he hopped off the balcony. “I’m impressed.”

You snorted, turning your eyes back out onto the view below. “Don’t be. Mom’s fluent, but I can only remember a few bits and pieces.”

“Just figured you could do with a bit of a boost. Mind if I ask what you’re doing out here for real? This is your big shindig, isn’t it?”

“Why aren’t you in there? It isn’t your big shindig, is it?”

Clint snorted, and rested his chin on his folded arms. “So it’s like that, huh?”

“Is it like what?”

He just shook his head. “You homesick?”

You tossed him a funny look. Why were you standing out here talking to Darcy’s flame when the guy that was supposedly your flame was waiting inside for you to come back to dinner? “Why would I be homesick?”

“Dunno. Talkin’ about your mom, ditching your party, speaking Spanish. I wouldn’t blame you if you were. We’re a long way from home, and it doesn’t sound like they’re letting you go anytime soon.”

“Well, maybe that’s for the best. I was getting pretty sick of the place anyway.” Your attempt at sarcasm was sorry indeed; the look Clint shot you afterward was clearly pitying. He was nice enough to pretend he believed it, though.

“Mind if I stay?”

“Why do you want to stay here?” Okay, so you hadn’t heard about the Avengers, or Jane’s superhero boyfriend, or said boyfriend’s crazy brother’s attempts to run the Earth over. But SHIELD you’d heard of—who hadn’t lately?—and weren’t agents bigwigs in the long run? Clint let out another single bark of laughter.

“Why would I want to go back there?” he asked, looking more amused than anything. “My best friend just wants to give me a lecture, and I’ve got a feeling my boss is pret-ty pissed off at me. It’d be best to lay low until they get over it. Say a few months?”

“Yeah, well, everyone here is pissed off at me, and my best friend probably won’t speak to me ever again,” you sighed. “Why are you asking me?”

“Well, you’re the princess, aren’t you?”

“Hardly.” Despite yourself, you chuckled. “You want to be princess?”

“If it’ll get me to stay, sure,” said Clint. “Though I’m not sure I can pull off that outfit.”

That had you laughing. The feeling was so alien at this point that it almost hurt. You reached over to shove Clint on the shoulder. “Stop it. You’re making me laugh.”

“Good. You could use a laugh, I think. Unless you met Thor’s kid brother down in the basement?”

“Oh, yeah. He’s a laugh riot.”

“I thought so, too,” Clint said. “Well, if he didn’t make you laugh, at least I could. If I move here permanently, you’d be my princess, too, eh?”

“Don’t let Darcy hear you saying that,” you muttered darkly. He laughed again.

“What does she care? Having the time of her life with two brawny alien guys. I bet she feels like a princess already.”

You had a pretty good idea of what Darcy felt, and it wasn’t like a princess. If anything, her ecstasy at the moment had more to do with successfully making Clint jealous than getting some grinding in with a couple of benevolent war gods. But you weren’t about to let Clint on to that notion; you had enough romantic problems of your own to worry about without playing matchmaker for those two knuckleheads. So instead of bringing any of that up, you shook your head.

“What would you even do here?” you asked. He shrugged a second time.

“Court jester? If I can make you laugh, that’s the hard part. Thor laughs at pretty much anything.”

You turned a quizzical eye to Clint. That idea didn’t jar at all with what you knew of your husband. Thor appeared to you to be hot tempered and cranky. Then again, you had just married him against either of your wills. You probably weren’t the best person in the world for him to turn to for laughter, let alone anything else. Clint and Thor were friends, however; you didn’t expect Clint to appreciate your point of view any more than anyone else around here did.

“You’ll have to ask him, then. I don’t think the in-laws are going to be keen on me making decisions on anything anytime soon.” Or ever.

“Bummer. I could get behind not making decisions for a while, though. Suppose we could trade outfits and lives. I don’t think I’d look as beautiful as you do, tho—”

Clint broke off as the double doors leading to the balcony opened. Light and laughter spilled out from behind the dark figure standing in between. When he stepped closer, you could see he was one of Thor’s friends: the blond one, the one you remembered that you didn’t particularly like.

There you are!” he cried delightedly, his eyes falling upon you. Then he saw Clint, and smirked. “Am I interrupting something?”

“No,” you answered with a scowl.

“No need to hide anything. Polygamy goes both ways. If our beloved ruler may have a wife and a lover, I see no reason that you should not have a lover and a husband yourself.”

“We weren’t doing anything. Just talking. Like friends do,” Clint said, coming to your rescue. You offered him a thankful smile, which on second thought was probably a bad idea. Fandral’s lips twisted up in a smirk even as he made a polite bow in Clint’s direction.

“Of course. Pardon my mistake.”

“There any reason you’re out here, too?” Clint asked conversationally. “It’s getting a little crowded out here. We’d rather commiserate in peace, if you don’t mind.”

“Commiserate!” Fandral cried in what was obviously the most fakely dramatic voice he could manage. “And why might the two of you be commiserating, may I ask? And why together?”

“He was here first,” you grumbled.

“You wanna join in?” Clint asked.

“Oh, no. I would never dream of commiserating on such a wonderful night. One of my best friends is married. What is there to mope about?” Fandral chuckled to himself, shook his head, then fixed you with a gaze much more sober than you expected. “I came out here to find you, in fact.”

That didn’t bode well. Still, you kept your narrowed eyes glued to him. You didn’t need Fandral to find out just how good he was at getting under your skin. “Why do you need me?”

“It is not I that need you, Lady [Name]. It is the people of Asgard!”

With a dramatic flourish, he pushed the doors back open. The crowd inside had parted, creating an aisle down the middle of the glittering floor. Hundreds if not thousands of eyes blinked owlishly out into the darkness at the trio standing there. There at the end of the line stood Thor, his eyes on you, his arms stiff at his sides.

“Yikes,” Clint muttered. You couldn’t agree more.

“It is rather past time, you know,” Fandral said.

“Time for what?” you demanded.

“Why, time for you and your husband’s first kiss.”

“Oh, jeez,” came a faint voice from inside. “Excuse me. I said excuse me!”

You knew that voice, much to your dismay. Sure enough, out of the close-packed throng, Darcy appeared, shoving and grunting until she finally popped out from between a couple of women with raised eyebrows. She seemed not to notice the attention she had elicited, pausing only to adjust her fancy (Earth) dress with a small “humph” before stomping up the aisle over to where your trio was standing so very cozily. “[Name],” she hissed, as though everyone on the entire planet (or in the entire Realm, whatever) weren’t already staring at her.

“What, Darcy?” you asked at normal volume. She glanced around at herself, then picked her way slowly over to where you were standing by Clint. As was the norm at this point, she loftily ignored him.

“You’re wanted inside.”

I already told her that,” Fandral said.

“And you did a great job of it, seeing as she still isn’t inside,” Darcy said. “You really have no idea how to convince a woman to do anything, do you?”

Fandral spluttered for a split second, just long enough for Darcy to hold her palm out to him. “Look, Wesley, I don’t want to hear anything outta that mouth unless it’s 'as you wish.'”

“My name isn’t Wesley,” Fandral said at last.

Darcy rolled her eyes, then gestured to you. “Come on, let me see.”

“See what?” you asked.

Instead of answering, she stepped closer to peer at your face. Whatever she found there, she didn’t say. She just grabbed your wrist and pulled you toward the open doors. You tugged her backward, a feat made easier by her Midgardian high-heels. Seeing that everyone was still staring at you, you yanked the doors shut. “I don’t think they’re going to like that much,” she remarked once the four of you had been left in darkness once again.

“I don’t care.”

“What’s your problem?” Darcy asked. You took a deep breath to inform her that the fact that Thor was a buff, alien prince did not make this whole affair easier to accept, but she darted around behind you and started shoving you toward the doors again. “You’re not crying or anything, so just get out there and do some making out, and then you can go to bed, okay?”

This was somehow better than Fandral’s condescending urging from before? Darcy’s continued tugging on your hand eventually got the best of you. That, or the crowd you knew was waiting silent on the other side of those doors. God, you’d given lectures before, discussions on articles, but almost always with a few mouthfuls of schnapps or the like, and never in some alien dress that felt like it was precariously close to falling off. You swallowed around your suddenly dry mouth and threw one terrified look at Clint. He wasn’t even looking at you. His soft eyes were on Darcy’s back. Of course.

“Ah, [Name], if you have a moment?”

Darcy shot Fandral a look, but he wasn't watching her, and with his arm across the door and his presumable Asgardian strength, opening the door was impossible until he got what he wanted anyway. You looked at him with as much disdain as you could. As usual, the only effect that this had on Fandral was his finding you more amusing still. He curled his mustache with a flourish and made you yet another tiny bow.

“No need to look like that, your highness. I wished only for a bit of your time tomorrow afternoon. Volstagg, Hogun, and I feel that it would please Thor greatly if we were to make sure that his wife felt welcome. Surely you could not turn down such a request?”

You could. What was more, you would. But not right now. Later. After you had got through this next humiliation. After you had the chance to find out what spending a bit of time with Thor’s friends would really entail. After you tried again (without really trying) to be so off putting that these people would have to let you go back home. Going home had been humiliating when you had set out from your abandoned apartment on Earth, but now it seemed the best thing that could happen to you.

“Yeah, yeah, pencil her in for two o’ clock,” you heard Darcy grumble. “Now get out of the way!”

Fandral lifted his arm and with one final tug, you and Darcy stumbled through the doors. Your little huddle out there seemed to have bored the crowd, because they had returned to milling about. This was an unspeakable relief—or it might have been, had Fandral not followed the two you in and cleared his throat. The sound got the attention of those closest to the balcony. His decision to shout, “Ladies and gentleman, may I present the Lady [Name]?” got everyone else’s.

You felt the familiar prickling nerves at the ends of your limbs. Suddenly the walk up the makeshift aisle and up to where you had been picking at food with Thor seemed a lot longer. If this prickling went on too long, it would be a wonder for you to make it three feet before passing out. But you would not run. You would not make yourself more of a fool in front of those people—especially not Fandral, whose smug smile you swore you could feel aimed at even your back. Knuckles white around the skirt of your Asgardian dress, you took an enormous breath, set your eyes on your husband, and took a step.

Walking was something you were capable of doing, and doing better sober. With this in mind, you forced yourself to take another step, and another, and another. Soon you could no longer feel Darcy hovering behind you, just the hundreds of eyes on your stiff shoulder blades and face. Slowly, the visages of your new family came into better view: the impatient, sharp scowl from Odin, the soft, sympathetic smile from Friga…and the stiff, almost frightened expression of Thor. As your first foot reached the raised dais, someone in the back of the throng began to clap. Several more started up when Thor took your hand pulled you over to his side. It seemed a real round of applause was about to start—until Odin stepped up to the plate.

He kept his eyes purposely away from you. Surely you weren’t just imagining that. The room grew so quiet that you could have heard a fork drop. You almost wished Darcy would drop one just for kicks. Of course, this was the one time that she remained a part of backdrop. Seconds passed. A bead of sweat ran down the side of your face. If you sprinted from the room, how long would it take them to find you? No. You swallowed. Peeking at Thor’s expression let you see it flat and dull, the first time you’d ever really seen it like that. Around Jane, he was all smiles. After ruining their lives so thoroughly already, how could you make things worse by trying to hide? He’d have to come after; Odin would make sure of it.

With so many eyes on you, you couldn’t close yours. Instead your fingers tightened around Thor’s hand so hard that any normal would have flinched. He didn’t. He didn’t even seem to realize you were there, so focused was he on what his father was about to say. Maybe Thor still hoped Odin would see sense and let the two out of this. Surely your behavior at this gala hadn’t done anything further to endear yourself to your father-in-law.

“Friends,” Odin said stiffly, “family.”

Oh, cripes. For real? They had bad speeches in this Realm, too? Were there any benefits to being stuck here? You wished you’d kept your old apartment instead of ditching everything to have one last hurrah with Jane before going home. That last hurrah really had been doozy. Not that things had been going stellar before Garrison ditched you—but it was better than this.

“We join here this evening to celebrate the rather…sudden union of my son, Prince Thor.”

A few voices rose in the back; your eyes flashed over to see Thor’s friends cheering. Sif was noticeably absent. You had seen her earlier, but it wasn’t like you were friends with her, or that she any obligation to be present. This didn’t seem anymore her type of party than your own. But you were getting distracted, and Odin continued to drone on:

“Though we do not know much of his chosen consort, we do understand that she is from Midgard, and therefore her life is fleeting and frail. As it is, Prince Thor has promised to love and protect for what remains of that fleeting life.” Terrified enough of the sea of strange faces turned up toward you, it didn’t take much to convince you to turn and shoot your father-in-law a glare. As it turned out, this did nothing to effect any Norse god, let alone their king, and he didn’t falter once in his speech. “We ask that you as well cherish her, as long as she is with us. Without further ado: Prince Thor, and Princess [Name].”

Your stomach gave a horrible lurch at the word princess. All of this was like a horrible twisted reality of a dream you’d had only in your youngest years. Only instead of a ball gown, you were wearing an ill-fitting dress lent to you by your mother-in-law. Only instead of your hair done all up in curls, it was pulled up in some entirely non-flattering alien style. Only instead of marrying your true love that you met at a ball while escaping doing your chores, you were marrying your best friend’s boyfriend that you’d met drunk while trying to escape all your poor choices up to that point. If you ever met your fairy godmother, you were going to give her the swiftest kick in the rear she’d ever felt.

“Well, what are you waiting for?” called a familiar someone in the back. “Kiss her!”

Little though you knew your acidic look would do to Fandral, you still tried to find him the crowd. The attempt did nothing but make you more nauseous. Out there in the crowd, your friends’ faces seemed to stand out the most. Darcy looked close to chewing on her fingernails—with stress or anticipation, you couldn’t say. Clint had actually bothered to come inside to watch, much to your distress. All you could say that was good in the situation was that Jane wasn’t around. Your heart gave a painful squeeze, but you had no time to mourn the loss of younger dreams of having her around for a wedding. You were just glad she didn’t have to see what followed: Thor gracelessly bent to push his lips against you.

The kiss was awkward. The kiss was hard. His hands moved up to grip your upper arms when those watching murmured appreciatively. Thank—what did they say here? Odin? Bor?—whatever deity these people had that there was no tongue action involved. The kiss was long, but void of passion, though when you finally broke apart, Thor’s face was as pink as yours felt.  Someone (you suspected Darcy) started a slow clap that grew and grew until Thor and you stood surrounded by a throng applauding you both for something you’d probably done more skillfully with more beloved people hundreds of times before. Embarrassed, all you could do was cling to his hand while you waited for this agonizing evening to draw to an end.

End it did. Whether or not your mother-in-law simply desired to take pity on you, or because she could read your mind and knew you were this close to starting to scream like a deranged woman, she fluidly came to stand in front of you and Thor to smile graciously at the guests.

“Thank you ever so much for coming,” she said. “I hope you all have had lovely evenings. You are welcome, of course, to stay however long you like and partake in the food and drink. I, however, believe it is time to turn in. With your blessings, my lord.” She swept Odin a curtsy that he returned with an annoyed wave of his hand. After turning back to the guests and bowing her head to them, Friga walked gracefully of the dais and disappeared. Thor waited only until he could be sure his mother had left the room before he looked at his father.

“We are leaving,” he told him. When Odin scowled and opened his mouth, Thor spun away. “Now.”

You were sure that this wasn’t going to win you any points with your new father-in-law-slash-ruler, but at this point you were desperate enough to be gone yourself that you didn’t argue. Thor lifted an enormous hand to wave at his guests. Hesitantly, you waved as well. This was met with a few titters from the corner of the room you’d last seen Darcy and Thor’s friends in. Then, with your hand still in his other, he turned to lead you from the platform. For once, you followed eagerly, even when Thor continued on in silence. At least that gave you the opportunity to check behind you ever few paces to make sure that no one was following. No one did. And even if they had, Thor seemed so intent on getting the two of you elsewhere that he wasn’t likely to have stopped no matter who they were.

When he pulled to a stop at last, you were surprised for a moment to find yourself back in front of his quarters—a testament to how tired and frazzled this whole ordeal had made you. Of course he had brought back you back to his quarters. They were also your quarters now.

The thought made what felt like a bucket of ice cascade down your insides. You had no idea if the concept of a honeymoon meant anything to Asgardians, but—oh no. You weren’t prepared. It wasn’t even a matter of being physically prepared; you really didn’t think you could mentally handle sleeping with Thor that night, or any other time for that matter. Jane still had to be in love with him. How could you betray your best friend like that?

You anxiety came to an abrupt halt when you noticed that Thor had already abandoned you by the doorway and headed in the direction of what you assumed (having only seen your own bedroom and bathing area) was his bedroom. Suddenly you were completely alone. Having been around people all day, you would have thought you would enjoy the sensation. Unfortunately, now that it came, you found yourself almost terrified at the thought of being left to your own thoughts and feelings, especially considering what you had just left: the scene of your very first kiss with your husband. After pausing to make sure that Dalla wasn’t lurking somewhere behind you, you scurried after Thor through the massive sitting area.

“Can I help you?” he asked as you fingers brushed softly at his admittedly impressive bicep. Immediately you remembered where your thoughts had been headed before he’d left, and you turned what was sure to be an impressive shade of dark pink.

“Where are you going?” you asked instead of answering. As impressive as Thor probably looked naked, you weren’t in the mood to see that, not now—possibly not ever. He lifted his eyebrows.

“To bed,” he answered, as though this was obvious.

“Oh. Uh…”

“Your bedroom is that way,” he said, pointing back the way you had come from.

“No, I know that. I just…” you shrugged. To Jane you might have been able to admit that you’d never been able to handle this amount of stress on your own. You hardly knew Thor, though, and the way Garrison had reacted to your clinginess didn’t make the idea of confessing to your strange new husband appealing in the slightest. When you did not make to explain yourself, Thor shook your hand off his arm and took a step into the bedroom beyond the doorway.

“We are married,” said Thor. “That I accept. We will stay that way because it is the only way to make sure my father does not behave rashly, and the only way to keep the Realm together. What I do not have to accept is us being any more than that.”

“Meaning?” you asked.

“Meaning I have my room. You have yours. They are still our quarters. My father will have no reason to complain.” His face was like a statue. You felt your own warming quickly. Back to square one, then: Thor thought this was your fault. As though he could read your mind, he softened somewhat. “I am sorry, [Name], but I do not love you.”

“Not that it’s any big secret, but I don’t love you either. We’re sort of stuck, though. I’m not asking for a honeymoon. Just—you know, some companionship would be nice.”

He paused, then shook his head. “Not tonight.”


“We will figure things come the morning. For now, all I desire is to sleep. You should sleep as well. I doubt you slept much last night, and I am sure that tomorrow will be just as trying today, if not more. Goodnight, [Name].”

Without waiting for you to complain, Thor closed the door shut behind him. You stood there for another minute or so. Why, you didn’t know. Thor didn’t come back, and you weren’t sure if you even wanted him to. Your hand reached out for the knob, but you never did find out if Thor had gone so far as to lock you out. He was right. This was your fault. If you had never intruded on his and Jane’s vacation getaway, they would probably still be snuggled up in bed back in Vegas, enjoying room service for breakfast.

You turned away with a sigh to trudge back to the other bedroom. Your bedroom, you recalled once you had found your things on your bed where Dalla had placed them. There you were, a tiny speck amongst a huge room and huger quarters with nothing that belonged to you save for the tiny pack in your hands. Sleep wasn’t going to come easy here, that was for sure. As you slipped out of the room, you pulled your cell phone out of the bag. Having a sleepover with Thor was out. Maybe Jane felt just as desperate for company as you did.

"Did u get ur bridge stuff worked out?" you typed into the phone. As you did, you settled onto the comfortable couch back in the living room. At least this room wasn’t “yours” exactly. You felt less like you were being watched there, and less like Dalla was bound to pop up at any second to ask if you needed anything. Maybe you could even sleep. Staring at your phone screen, you felt your eyes start to itch with exhaustion, but you wanted to talk to Jane so badly. You waited. And waited. And waited. "Message failed to send." Sighing, you rolled over and let your dying cellphone fade back into darkness. No service in Norse God space. Just figured. It wasn’t like Jane was going to talk to you anyway, right? For now, all you could do was soothe yourself with the idea that you’d talk to her in the morning. Jane always made things better. Always. And then there was that meeting with Thor’s friends.

Crap. Thor’s friends.

No more thinking for you that night. No, you put your phone down and rolled over. Even then in the dim light, it took you hours to finally drift off to sleep.

Thor OdinsonxReader: Adventures [Ch. 8]
Part 8 of 20 of Adventures in a Realm Without Divorce Court.

Frankly, I am surprised at how popular this story turned out. I always write outlines for my stories, and I did for this one...but I did it in the midst of writing a bunch of final papers while getting my master's degree and it is crap. So I'm really "pantsing" this story for once. But I am happy that people are enjoying it. I'll try not to take as long next time.

Previous Chapter: 7. A Bitter Pill to Swallow
Current Chapter: 8. There's a First Time for Everything
Next Chapter: TBA

Over your six years of attendance at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, you had heard a lot of cockamamie ideas that had only grown in preposterousness as you aged. By the time you were in third year, everyone swore that that forbidden corridor lead to none other than Filch’s coffin. Fourth year, they claimed that if you left the water running too long brushing your teeth, Potter’s snakes would squirm out of the tap and try to eat you. Fifth year, even some of the older students were convinced that a werewolf lived in the Shrieking Shack. This year, it had been asserted that You-Know-Who was back. No matter how ludicrous such rumors got, however, none could match the ridiculous statement that had just left your transfiguration teacher’s mouth.

“What?” you asked into the silence that followed.

You really had no idea why you were in her office. The End of Year Feast had just wrapped up. Not only had the entire thing been uncomfortable and depressing for your entire House, but you had packing (and probably some crying) to do before you left the next day. Surely Professor McGonagall had not requested you visit for something as silly as this. Your impatience to be gone was almost tangible—but it was nothing in comparison to hers.

“Longbottom, [L Name].” Her nostrils went white, a sure sign that your impertinence was noticed and unappreciated. “I need you to help him with his transfiguration over the holidays.”

You weren’t sure why, but your stomach felt suddenly full of ice. Not that you had plans for the summer, exactly, but any that cropped up certainly wouldn’t include teaching inept first years wand-waving techniques—let alone someone on their way to their O.W.L.s!

“Longbottom…” you said, playing desperately for time to think of a good enough reason to reject Professor McGonagall’s request. “Neville Longbottom?”

“Yes, Neville Longbottom,” said Professor McGonagall. “Surely you’ve heard of him. He has lessons in here while you’re aiding me every Tuesday.”

“You want me to tutor him this summer?” Unable to suppress your whine or the wince that followed, you slid lower in your chair. Oh, you’d heard of Neville Longbottom, all right. Who couldn’t hear his many mishaps in the middle of class each week? You could avoid the Gryffindor students as much as you wanted; eventually the horrified screaming broke through even your stony façade. Apparently sensing your immense trepidation, Professor McGonagall softened somewhat.

“I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t think you were fully capable of helping the poor boy, [L Name].”

Favorite teacher be damned, she was not winning you over that easily. “He’s not of age yet,” you hedged. “He’s not allowed to use magic during the holidays.”

She sighed. “Don’t be dense. You know as well as I do that the Ministry can’t detect underage magic in pureblood homes. But if it will ease your conscience,” her dry tone indicated she knew very well this was not your real reason for refusing, “we have already cleared the lessons with the Ministry.”

Again you hesitated.

“His grandmother has agreed to pay you one galleon, eight sickles and nine knuts a week for your time.”

Better, but…

She sighed a second time. “And I suppose, should you prove yourself responsible enough to handle the task, upon your return next year, we could look into this animagus lessons you wanted.”

Towards the end of this final offer, you could have sworn you saw a flicker of a smile. It was a smile you did not share. You’d do it—of course you’d do it; legal, supervised animagus instruction before your N.E.W.T.s was more than you could have hoped for—but that didn’t mean you had to be happy about it, or that you submitted for any other reason than that you still had a lot of packing and tearing up to do.

“Fine,” you said quickly. Not the politest way to seal the deal, but Professor McGonagall must have been eager to return to her room as well.

“Thank you,” she said as she stood. “I’ll send an owl along with all the details tomorrow. And [L Name]?”

“Yes, Professor?” you asked from the door.

“Don’t worry yourself over much about his improvement. If he can vanish a mouse without vanishing his fingers, I’ll consider your tutoring a success.”



The rumbling of the train the next morning did little to distract you from the prospect of your miserable summer: Cedric dead, your father’s predictable obsession with You-Know-Who’s return, and tutoring a wizard so terrible that he’d once crossed Hermione Granger’s hand with an aardvark. There wasn’t even the Quidditch World Cup to break up the monotony. Fantastic. Tears, tempers and tutoring! Much more of this and you would have to reevaluate who your favorite teacher was.

Most of the other students were packed together in herds. They jumped at every noise and refused to discuss any subject other than He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, or the unfortunate passing of your House-mate, or whether or not Harry Potter had anything to do with either. Knowing you had these discussions to look forward to for the remainder of your break, you had ensconced yourself in one of the empty compartments toward the back of the train. Unfortunately, your thoughts still echoed that of your peers. Clearly, you were doomed to go mad this summer.

Just when you were considering sending an owl ahead for a room at St. Mungo’s, a distraction arrived in the form of some peeking tom outside your door. His round moon-face lit up scarlet when he caught you peeking back. You must have been too pathetic to scare him off, though, because soon after he was fumbling at the handle.

“Excuse me,” said the boy when he finally poked his head in, “but are you [F Name] [L Name]?”

“Who wants to know?” After all, your nerves wearing thing didn’t endear you to the remaining Hufflepuffs left behind in your previous seating area. Not that this kid looked Hufflepuff, of course.

“Me,” he answered.

“Who’re you?”

“Neville. Neville Longbottom.”

Your eyes widened. It was worse than you had expected. Neville was round, pink-faced, and covered in a slight sheen of sweat. He looked more like an overgrown first-year than a fourth-year. What was more, his bright cheeks appeared to be coated in a thin layer of soot. Oh no. This guy couldn’t even use a hairbrush; how could anyone expect him to use a wand?

“Can I help you with something?” you asked after this startled pause.

“Well, Professor McGonagall said—”

“I’m not starting your lessons right now.”

To Neville’s credit, he looked perturbed by your interruption for only a second. Then he pulled himself together to stand straight as he offered you a letter. “N-No,” said Neville. “I just came by to give you everything you’ll need to get to my gran's place next week.”

Eyeing him suspiciously, you pulled the paper from between his pudgy fingers. Sure enough, there were the details Professor McGonagall had promised you: Neville’s address, the items he needed to learn before he even started to prepare for his O.W.L.s, and a neatly written note you assumed was from his grandmother. Once you had seen each of these, you swung your narrowed gaze back up at Neville.

“I thought McGonagall was going to send these with an owl,” you said. In response, Neville turned pinker.

“She—she was. But then she ran into me this morning and said since I had made it there before the post, I might as well take it to you instead. Said it would give us a chance to—to get to know each other.”


This was not the invitation that Neville took it to be. No sooner had your grunt faded into silence than did he settle onto the seat opposite you. Well, maybe he was sick of all the Dark Lord and Potter dribble, too. You didn’t own this particular compartment. Assuming this would be the end of it, you returned your attention to the sunny scene outside the window. Of course, it would look like a proper summer once you knew you wouldn’t have a proper summer. You blinked. There was someone watching you again. Of course, it was only Neville, staring at you from his seat. It had been a long time since a boy stared at you like that. Your skin started to crawl.


“Is it true?” he asked.

“Is what true?”

“That you’re on track to become an animagus.”

“Oh. That.”

“Well, is it?”

You shrugged, like this didn’t matter—though obviously it did. It mattered more than anything else happening in your life right now. “I hope so.”

“Professor McGonagall says you’re the best in her class. All of her classes.”

Such praise could not be received lightly. Aware though you were that McGonagall did not toy about with selecting her upperclassmen aids and that she had said she only gave you this assignment due to her faith in you, it was flattering to hear from someone else. You only rather hoped that such praise was not being given to unduly raise Neville’s spirits. “It’s my only good class,” you assured him. “I’m no Hermione Granger, so if you’re expecting lessons at her level…” Another shrug.

“No, no!” Neville said eagerly, another glow of pink entering his face. “I don’t care, so long as I stop transplanting cactuses into my ears. I was in the Hospital Wing for a week last time!”

You gaped. Neville smiled.

What on earth had you gotten yourself into?


A week and a half later, and you weren’t exactly enthusiastic to be headed off to your first tutorial session, but you were more than enthusiastic to leave your house. Harry Potter this, The Dark Lord that, and for heaven’s sake, what about the Malfoys? The household was in an uproar, and who cared about one distant daughter caught up in the current? You spent your days curled up atop your mattress and your nights binge eating in the kitchen until the house elves noticed. It was about time you got out of there, preferably before you started pulling your own hair out.

As you got your first whirlwind look at your destination, however, you weren’t sure that you had landed yourself anywhere more appealing. Longbottom Manor was just that: another pureblood manor home, though not as well-kept or glossy as your own. The kitchen you spun into was more brown than anything else, and crammed with magical knickknacks wherever they would fit—though “fit” wasn’t the word you would have used. The overall affect wasn’t too terrible, though. The whole room gave off the impression that people lived there—perhaps the two people sitting at the well-worn table, watching the well-worn clock.

They looked up as the fire around you died away, and you got a good look at Neville and a woman you could only assume was his grandmother. She might have looked respectable, save for the mangled stuffed vulture perched atop her hat. The sight reminded you distinctly of another rumor from the past year, something involving a boggart, some third-years, and Professor Snape in such garb. You very nearly grinned at the memory. Only the past week of not smiling saved you. Your muscles cramped at the mere thought of exerting themselves in such a fashion.

“Well, Neville?” the woman barked. “Aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?”

Neville scrambled none too gracefully to his feet and over to you. The woman stood herself as Neville, a brighter red than you had seen him yet (even after that accident with the lobsters back in March), gestured at you from his place at your side. “[Name], this is my gran, Augusta Longbottom. Gran…this is [F Name] [L Name]. My tutor.”

“Pleasure to meet you, dear,” she said, grasping your hand between both of yours while smiling surprisingly warmly. This warmth evaporated when her eyes fell on her grandson again. “You’ll have to forgive him. Neville’s a good boy, but a bit too clumsy for manners. Or transfiguration, as I’m sure you’ve learned!” A peal of laughter escaped her while a weary sigh escaped Neville. “His father was a great hand in the subject, but Neville...Well, bless you for spending your summer trying to help him.”

You forced yourself to smile this time. “My pleasure.” 'Think of animagus lessons,' you reminded yourself sternly. Surely you could get through even this in exchange for that. Once you managed that, you could escape not just this situation, but the one back home. All you needed was to endure for one more school year.

“The kitchen is all yours.”  Having made her feelings known, Augusta headed for the door. “Do try not to blow the whole room to pieces, Neville. Those pans are self-scrubbing, you know.”

You heard the distinct snick of a lock after she pulled the door shut behind her. Apparently Neville’s family didn’t think him above transforming said pans into skrewts if they left him to it. Maybe you ought to start out small…

“Here.” Neville jumped at you handing over two ashy twigs plucked from the remains of the floo fire. His eyes slid up to your face, then back down as he took your offering. “Sticks into worms shouldn’t be too hard,” you said, slinging your bag onto the waiting table. “Let’s get started.”


It was too hard. Merlin’s beard, turning sticks into worms was too hard. You never thought you’d meet a non-Squib that took three hours to turn a couple of slightly-burnt twigs into earthworms. In the end, Neville’s sticks had still been a little too stiff for proper worms, but you’d released them out into the small garden outside the kitchen window before you’d left anyway. Their lives there couldn’t be any worse than yours back home. Then you’d disappeared back up the chimney, leaving the scattered pans and remaining worm bits for Neville to clean up himself.

Between that lesson and the next, your house became even more unbearable. The cigar smoke billowing from underneath the kitchen door wafted through the rest of the house night in and night out, which meant even your binge eating sessions were out. If you wanted food, you had to endure not only your father’s company, but that of Rita Skeeter’s shrill voice, taking up the recent cry of the Ministry: There is no war in Wizard Britain.

“[Name]! [Name]!” she called as you pushed through her and your father’s piles upon piles of papers and for the fireplace in the living room where they’d taken up residence while the House Elves cleaned up breakfast. “You knew the Diggory boy, didn’t you? Tell us, how do you feel about Potter getting away with murder?”

You leveled a glare at her that could have curdled Draught of Living Death. “Longbottom Manor!” you shouted as you tossed a handful of green powder into the flames. The last thing you saw? Skeeter’s ugly fake grin as you spun away. The nerve! Cedric had not died to become a martyr. He had not died to become the poster boy for whatever new story the Prophet wanted spewed now. Cedric Diggory trusted Harry Potter. And after she’d done everything she could to take the spotlight off Cedric it and thrust it squarely on Potter! If she and your father thought for one second that you were going to jump onboard their bandwagon—

“[Name]? Are you alright?”

Your eyes popped open. Too late, you realized you were back in Neville’s home. The fire around you had died entirely, and you stood white-faced in the remaining ashes. Neville sat at the table, wand out, a row of squirming twigs and a shoebox full of potting soil in front of him. He looked genuinely concerned for you. Oh no. You looked away.

“What are you doing?”

“Practicing,” Neville answered. When you finally peeked back over at him, he was beaming. He looked a lot less sweaty, too. “I think I’ve nearly got the worm stuff down!”

As long as he was willing to pretend he hadn’t seen you with your walls down, then you were going to pretend right along with him. You weren’t used to things like concern being thrown your way. “Let me see.”

Neville scooted back slightly so you could look at his work. Sure, the twigs were moving. The handful in Neville’s box of dirt were even a little pinker than those he had transformed last time you’d come by. But every single worm still retained its stick-like structure. They were wobbling lines, with extra heads or tails or limbs. Sighing, you walked back around the table to put your things down. How could you move on from this step if Neville couldn’t even make worms properly?

“That bad?” he asked, face slightly crumpled.

“Could be better.”

Neville sighed and pursed his lips together to prevent letting his face fall further into a frown. While you ignored him and tried to think of better ways to get the point across, you saw (out of the corner of your eye) Neville pick up his wand again and begin to wave it over his remaining pseudo-worms. His expression remained fixed as one of intense concentration, but it did not entirely escape you when Neville’s eyes darted toward you before he said the spell. A spell that did absolutely nothing, you noted as the slightly wriggling pieces of wood did nothing more than…well, wriggle.

“S-Sorry,” Neville said at the look on your face. You shook your head.

“The wand work’s all wrong. This isn’t Charms, you know.”

“Will you show me again? Just one more time. Promise.”

You were there to tutor, so getting up and walking back around the table for another display shouldn’t have been as annoying as it was. Apparently your lack of sleep was starting to get to you. As you stepped into place, you reached over to take Neville’s arm—but he took a quick step to the side, turning scarlet in the process.

“No, I mean…do it for me once?” he asked. “I want to watch.”

One side of your mouth puckered up, but how could you refuse? If you weren’t here teaching Neville, you would be back at home being hounded by Rita. There really wasn’t anywhere safe to go these days, if one wanted to avoid thinking of the future on top of their less than spectacular relatives. Your hand dug your wand out of your pocket and maneuvered it in the air above the worms. They instantly pinkened, and the wriggling turned into purposeful squirming. Before they could get far enough to disappear and dry out somewhere in Neville’s kitchen, you plucked them up and tossed them into the dirt. Only then did you realize someone was applauding. Neville stopped when you looked over at him.

“You did that without the incantation and everything,” he said, gaze moving away from your scrutinizing.  After a moment of watching him look everywhere but at you, you let out a snort.

“You’ll learn that eventually, too. Next year, probably, or the next.” ‘If you ever managed to pass your O.W.L.s,’ you added silently in your head. Neville grinned. His teeth showed, but you noticed the expression didn’t really meet his eyes.

“Sure, I suppose.” Like a deflated balloon, he bobbed back over to the bench. There was one remaining stick, a long one more suited to snakes than to earthworms, and it was over this that Neville clumsily stuck his arms out again. “Vertistis vermibus!

The stick shook, rolled over, and lay still. Neville’s face fell once more. “Like I said, it’s not a Charm,” you said. “You’ve got to be more purposeful. Move your wand like you mean it.”

Neville continued to stare at his stick for another minute and a half, then let out a long breath and sat down. “I’ll get it eventually,” he said, and though it came out as a whisper, you were surprised at the amount of confidence in his tone. Before you could pay much attention to this, however, Neville returned his attention to you. “Why is Transfiguration your only good subject?”

You paused, then: “None of your business.”

“I didn’t mean—”

“You’ve got the worms down, sort of,” you said over Neville’s apology. “We’re moving up a level. Matches into needles. Let’s go.”


“Augusta, please, be reasonable,” a distorted voice drifted in your ear as you made your way back to Neville’s several weeks later. “Dumbledore needs everyone he can get. We have to act quickly.”

You be reasonable, Arthur,” returned Neville’s grandmother’s voice. “Go as fast as you want, by all means. I won’t stop you.”

“You were imperative in the last Order,” said a woman.

As you spun into sight, you caught a glimpse of the kitchen table, this time occupied by three adults: Augusta and two middle-aged redheads. None of them took note of your arrival. “And I lost my son and daughter-in-law to it, I’ll have you remember. No. Can’t do it. Oh, sure, I could do it, but I can’t risk Neville, you know. Absolutely hopeless when it comes to a fight. He’s had a tutor over once a week all holiday and all my teacups are still squeaking.”

You felt a flutter of fear at the realization of what they were discussing. The Order of the Phoenix lived on in your father’s articles from years long passed. First villains, then heroes, now villains again. If they were really on the move, did that mean that what Potter said was true? That You-Know-Who was back and Cedric had been murdered at his hands? You knew your father printed malarkey, anything to keep his job and keep people happy, but at least it was malarkey that didn’t make you feel quite so endangered when he was going along with Rita's Potter is a madman spiel.

“Oh, [Name].” All three heads swiveled in your direction as Augusta greeted you. “Neville’s waiting for you in the sitting room. You can have your lessons in there today.”

“Thanks,” you said weakly, and practically sprinted for the door.

“Is that the tutor?” asked the man as you made to close the door behind her. “If she’s any good, perhaps when she comes of age…”

“No,” said Augusta. “She’s a [L Name], and you know how that man thinks. Half the dragon dung being put out by the Prophet has his name on it, if it doesn’t have Rita Skeeter’s.”

Could your father actually be right? Not in what he was writing, obviously; he would always write what suited him best, what people wanted to read not what they needed—but in what he’d burst into your room over a week ago over? That you shouldn't be associating with known old Order members when there was the possibility that You-Know-Who was really back? The halls around you spun along with your stomach. When you stumbled into the living room, it was quite by accident. Lucky for you that Neville was already there.

“[Name]?” he asked, much more alarmed this time than the last. You supposed this time it was because your legs were shaking so hard that you nearly fell over. Before you could, Neville had rushed over to support you, and the next thing you knew, he was half-carrying you over to the sofa. You didn’t understand what was happening. The wild, panicked breathing issuing from your own mouth sounded like it belonged to someone else. You couldn’t get it to stop. And on top of that, Neville—pudgy, sweaty Neville Longbottom—was carrying you.

Only he wasn’t really pudgy, you realized as he sat next to you, gingerly patting you on the back. Maybe he had been, back on the train when you’d met him, but what had started out as puppy fat had melted away during these past few weeks to be replaced by what was obviously muscle. He was still sweaty, though. Very sweaty, in fact. Sweaty enough that even in the buzzing panic of your mind, you thought to scoot a few inches away. Neville’s hand dropped.

“Sorry,” he said. “Are you…are you alright?”

What did he think? He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named might be back, if Potter wasn’t a loon! Add to that your father that had been writing anti-You-Know-Who articles since the Dark Lord’s fall, and even pumping out pro-You-Know-Who statements again wasn’t going to save your family. They'd killed your mother before. What made you think you would get off now? Neither your nor your father were brave or good enough at magic to be Death Eaters. Your father had basically signed his own death warrant, and probably yours, too.

When you didn’t answer outside of forcing yourself to breathe normally, Neville got up again. You watched him walk back over to the window where he picked up a perfectly mundane towel and lifted it to his forehead to pat away some of the sweat.

“What are you doing?” you asked.

If Neville were a normal person, he’d have snapped at you the same way you had snapped at him the week before. Instead, he just blinked and came back over to sit down, this time on the chair. Maybe he was finally afraid of touching you. He looked nervous enough, wringing his hand on his towel like that. “You’ll probably laugh at me.”

“I don’t laugh.”

Neville laughed at this, though he immediately sobered up. “I, um. Right. I was just…exercising.”

“Exercising,” you repeated. “Like a muggle?”

“Wizards need to exercise, too. I—I could stand to lose some weight,” as Neville went on, he looked more determined, “and besides, I can’t keep up or help Gran or anyone else if I just sit there. I have to learn. I have to learn everything I can. That’s why,” he gulped, “that’s why asked McGonagall if she would find ask you to tutor me this summer.”

You asked McGonagall?”

Neville had gone sort of chalky, but he nodded all the same. “I-I thought at first it would just be nice because—because Dad was always good at Transfiguration, and I know Gran wants me to do well, and I saw you helping McGonagall during class and you're always really good. But now You-Know-Who’s back and I want to help. Gran says I’m useless and should just stay put, but you can bet Harry won’t, or Hermione, or Ron. I have to help. I have to.”

His color returned, Neville stared past you toward the window. The sun still shone spectacularly through the glass, so beautiful that it was hard to believe that an old Dark Lord was stirring up old wars in your lifetime. “How do you know he’s back?” you demanded. Again, Neville looked up to blink at you.

“Dumbledore always said he’d come back someday,” he said, as though this settled the matter. You scowled.

“Dumbledore also said we ought to have a werewolf for a teacher.”

“Professor Lupin was the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher we ever had!” Neville protested, and you couldn’t exactly argue with that. You knew nothing of Lupin’s teaching abilities, since you hadn’t done well enough in that class to take the N.E.W.T. level course. But still. He was what he was. “Do you really think he’d lie about something like that? Dumbledore wouldn’t, and neither would Harry. If that’s who they say killed Diggory—”

Your heart twisted in your chest. Though you didn’t hear it yourself, you must have also made some sort of pained noise to go along with it, because Neville stopped dead. He frowned, looking ashamed of himself. “Sorry,” he said for the hundredth time. “You knew him, didn’t you?”

You felt like he had conjured a rock into your throat. Your breathing was fine, but you couldn’t get words to come out. In the end, all you could do was nod, and then Neville was back in his place right next to you.

“I didn’t mean it to sound like that. Diggory…Diggory was a good man.”

You nodded again.

“Were you close to him?”

Lifting your shaking hands to wipe away the few tears that had sprung into your eyes, you finally came back to yourself. “He was always decent to me,” you whispered. “The first friend I ever had at Hogwarts. I mean, after everything my dad wrote during the—the first war," jeez, it hurt to say that, "and then after. No one wanted anything to do with me. Cedric was—was my best mate, but he was so popular…”

You saw it as clearly as if it had been yesterday: You, a tiny eleven-year-old spending her first week at what was supposed to be the greatest seven years of her life alone, poking at porridge and struggling through potions homework. You remembered the upturned noses of older students and the whispers of coward and pureblood supremacist that followed you wherever you went. And you remembered a small, happy boy plunking himself down next to you at dinner one night saying, “Hello, I’m Cedric. Got lost on the stairs coming down. You done that yet?” and you being almost too stunned to answer.

“Were you in love with him?” Neville asked in the present day.

“No! God, no.” No, though Cedric was certainly handsome and kind and your very best friend, you had never felt anything like love for him, try as you might have. And you probably shouldn’t have tried. This entire year had been a mess. Popular before, becoming the first Hogwarts Champion had caused Cedric’s amount of fans to shoot through the roof. Combine that with his infatuation with Chang, how busy he was working out Triwizard clues, and your personal issues and—well, the last thing you’d ever done to Cedric was yell at him. You’d been jealous and lonely, and he'd b een doing his best, and now he was dead.

You were crying, you realized, and again it was too late to stop Neville’s noticing. How long you went at it for the first time since leaving Hogwarts, you didn’t know. The tears wouldn’t stop. Crying in front of Neville only made you cry harder, somehow, perhaps because you couldn’t believe you’d given into your feelings here of all places, in a strange house with a strange boy when a strange wizard could murder you at any moment.

Neville grabbed your hand. “[Name],” he tried, “it’ll be okay.”

“It won’t!” Well, that about proved you had entirely lost your head. Why not go on for a little while? “He’s gone, and I won’t have anyone to talk to at all. Dad’s only making things worse working with Rita all the time, and I-I-I can’t fight You-Know-Who. I’m not b-brave enough. Not like—like you!”

"But I’m not brave.”

These words caught you off guard. Thankfully, this also worked to clear your eyes. A few hiccups burst out of your chest, but you could see again. Your hand remained latched around Neville’s like it was an anchor. Embarrassing as this was, you still didn’t let go when you needed to wipe your nose. You just did it with your other hand. “What do you mean, you’re not brave?" you said at last. "You’re in Gryffindor.”

“I didn’t want to be,” he said quietly. “I asked the hat to put me somewhere else, but I guess it beat me down. Probably shouldn’t’ve listened to it, huh?”

“No.” The word came out so quickly that it surprised even you. You didn’t know why, but all of a sudden, you just couldn’t stop talking. Apparently something was going to spill out of your body, and if it couldn’t be tears, it might as well be babbling. “No because—because when I first came, I thought I ought to be in Slytherin because—because I’m not brave and I’m not smart and look where I come from, look who my dad is. I’m not loyal. Only thing I am is pureblood, and anyone can do that. But the hat said, no, I would be perfect for Hufflepuff. Only…only…”

“Only what?” Neville asked.

“Only I’m not loyal. I didn’t say goodbye to my only friend. And I’m not hardworking. The only thing I work hard at is Transfiguration, because then I can be animagus and then maybe…maybe I can be something more pleasant.”

Silence met this confession. You’d answered Neville’s question at last with the pathetic answer you had. He said nothing, not for several minutes, and when he did speak, he just asked one question: “Why didn’t you tell me before?”

Well, there was a good question. You shifted uncomfortably in your seat. “I’m not used to people listening to me.”

Neville nodded, and squeezed your fingers. “Maybe there’s more than one way to be hardworking and more than one way to be brave?”

You cocked a single eyebrow. How about that? Talking to Neville—Neville of all people!—had you feeling more like your old self. Your heart still felt ragged and dull, but you felt at the same time that you could go on as normal for a little bit. “How so?”

He blushed. “Well, you could keep teaching me Transfiguration…”


“And I could talk to you next year. I—I like you, [Name], and I wouldn’t mind talking to you more when the school year starts. It’s not going to get any easier. Things are just going to get worse. So—so maybe you can work hard and teach me Transfiguration and I can be brave and fight V-Voldemort like my dad. And then you'll be brave, too, because you're helping me.”

You winced at the name. Unfortunately, you had a bad feeling you’d be hearing a lot more of it in the coming months—months that certainly would feel a little brighter if you had a friendly face to look forward to seeing, even if that friendly face was the worst transfigurer you’d ever met. “You really think me tutoring you is going to help you fight You-Know-Who?”

“Anything well help,” Neville said. “Right?”

This right was directed not just at whether or not you could help Neville, but if Neville could help you. You were a mismatched pair at the best. But when you thought of coming here for the next few weeks and watching Neville get better, when you thought of him desperately working on worms while you were away and doing chin-ups while his grandmother debated with Order members in the kitchen, when you thought of him staring at you on the train and checking up on you when you arrived at his house shaking, it dawned upon you that yes, anything would help. Your summer looked just a little more summery. They might be the last few weeks you enjoyed for the rest of your short life, but hey: what the hell?

“Besides,” Neville went on, looking sheepish and holding up a teacup that still had a fleshy pink tail for a handle, “I don’t think I’m going to get better at this in another month.”

You surprised yourself again by laughing. This time, you surprised Neville, too. Surprising him even further, you squeezed his hand back and pecked him on the cheek. “Let’s get started, then, Mr. Brave,” you said as you pulled him off the couch. There was a lot of work to do, but as you took his wrist to guide him through the motions of the spell, Neville didn’t look like he felt any trepidation whatsoever. In fact, for once, he looked rather pleased. You couldn't quite fell that just yet,  but you could feel it coming. There was plenty of summer (and tutoring) left to enjoy.

Neville LongbottomxReader: No Rest for the Weary
Written for Lunaescence Archives' August 2015 Fic Trade.

Recipient: Shade
Prompt: "You want me to tutor him this summer?!"

Ugh, I just can't even with this right now. I loved my opener and then the farther along I got, the worse this whole story got. And to make things worse, I was supposed to write 1000-5000 words and wound up a little over 6000. I just--great job, me. I've written worse than this, but I've written better, too. Especially for Harry Potter.

It's done now, at least. Moving on to Adventures chapter 8. Might could get that out tonight.
  • Mood: Stumped
  • Reading: Party Princess
  • Watching: Daredevil
  • Playing: The Last of Us
Not that I have that many FAQs on this site, but I just updated the one I have on Quotev, so I might as well put this here. I have had a few of these questions asked here, anyway.

Q1: Where are your other accounts?
Lunaescence Archives (Straw), Ghosts of the Vanguard (Straw), Quotev (Straw/Strawchan), and Tumblr (mostlyieatburritos).

If you ever see anything of mine under any other names or any other sites, please report it and then let me know. They are stealing my work.

Q2:  What are you currently working on?
A: My "About Me" section always has current information on what I'm working on, and how far along in it I am.

Q3: When are you going to update x?
A: I attempted to go in a certain order, but as I got stuck on chapter 11 of Brightest for several months, I've decided to go back to just updating whenever I feel a chapter coming on. Stories ((Don't) Hold Your Breath, Brightest, Adventures in a Realm Without Divorce Court, and Tastes a Little like Freedom, a Little like Fear) I intend to keep a sort of rotating schedule on. Tastes gets two updates per round because the chapters are short, and it's suppose to have 100 of them. You can always check out the "Fic Progress" link at the top of my Tumblr to see how many words I currently have for anything upcoming. 

Q4: What are you planning on writing?
A: My "About Me" section always has a list of fics I am considering writing once I am done with present ten projects I am currently doing. You can find them below the current projects section. Sometimes I will also discuss plans and put excerpts up on Tumblr, under the tag "fan fic" or "WIP."

Q5: I think the things in your Avengers collection are too short. Can I take them and rewrite them?
A:​ While I am flattered--especially since I've been writing longer one shots lately--I would prefer that you did not. Credited or not, if I do find you posting nothing more than rewrites of my things, I will report you. Thank you for understanding.  

Q6: I think your reader-insert clip is great for my OC. Can I put it in my story and replace the reader with my character?
A: Please do not. Credited or not, these are my words not yours. If I find you doing so, I will report you. Thank you for understanding.

Q7: Your story has inspired me! Could I write something based off my idea?
A: Absolutely! I can't really say no, since I'm writing fan fiction, too. All I ask is that you put a link to whichever thing of mine inspired you in one author's note, if it's particularly close to my idea. Example: if you want to write something that goes directly off Trigger Warning, please link your readers to that in the first chapter. If it's barely related and just made you think of a story somewhat similar, you need not credit me. 

Q8: Are you going to continue this thing that you have finished?
No, I never plan to add on to something marked "completed." Sometimes, I will add sequels to drabbles or one shots in my Happily Ever After collection, but this happens more and rarely. If the book is marked "completed" or "discontinued," I would appreciate you not asking me for a continuation. Thank you.

Q9: Update this!! (Or any number of ruder or politer ways of phrasing this.)

Q10: Do you roleplay?
A: I used to, but not anymore! Sorry to disappoint. Nowadays all I do is some StevexBucky with one specific person.

Q11: I think I have a neat idea for a fan fiction. Would you like to collaborate?
A: No, thank you. The thing about all this is that I have very high standards. Half the time I drive myself crazy trying to perfect my stuff (which, of course, I never manage to do). I do not want to suck all the fun out of this website for you. Besides, I'm so busy and bad at updating these days that you would end up doing most of the work, which hardly seems fair to you.

Q13: Can I repost your fan fiction on another site?
A: No. I don't care if this is another website or even a website I'm already on (like Quotev) in one of those collections of favorites people make. If you like my stuff, then you should link it to people you want to share it with. Since I'm the writer, it is only fair that I am the one that gets any of the feedback you might otherwise receive. Collections where the fic still is on my account is fine. Collections where you put under yours are not.

Q14: Do you take requests?
A: I do have a reader-insert request booklet. You can post a request on that collection, entitled The Space Between Stars. Please note that you may only request characters for the reader to be paired with, and you can suggest a scenario. 

Q15: I want something more specific/with my OC. Will you do a special request for that?
A: No. However, you may commission me. I realize that a lot of people on this site are young and have limited amounts of money. If you want to discuss me writing something more specific, then you can leave me a comment and I will contact you so we can discuss prices, and we'll see if we can come up with something that will work for both of us.

Q16: I think the pairing in this story would be better as something else.
A: Then you will need to go find another story to read, or write it yourself. With the exception of stories where people vote for the end pairing (something I have only ever done with But Uh-Oh Those Summer Nights), I never start something without knowing exactly where the relationship is headed. I have at least some idea of what I'm doing with every chapter, so I cannot change what I'm doing five chapters in.

Q17: I do not like the way you portray me/the reader in this story.
A: Sorry, but I do not ascribe to the idea that reader inserts are to have no real established personality outside of the generic "lol I am a so randumb Hetalia-loving high school student." Generally speaking, I write the characters as adults, and since I plot my story, I need to know who the character is as a person. I fully understand that you, as a real person, might not be a doormat, a recovering addict, a professor at a school in New England, or a bitter ex-athlete who suddenly lost their arms. But that's the character I need to tell the story. My writing is more geared toward "virtual reality": letting you step into the shoes of someone different. If this is not how you like your reader inserts, that's perfectly fine. But you will need to find somewhere else to get it.

Q18: Read this story!
I don't read other fan fictions, unless it is specifically for a fandom I know of, but don't have much interest in, and is really, really short. As I said above, my standards are high, so when I read stuff about, say, Tony Stark beating his Avatar daughter into unconsciousness, it upsets me. I am aware, however, this isn't a cool attitude to have, as when I was 13, I also wrote a lot of garbage (and still frequently do). So I stay away, and let everyone have their fun. If you are posting this on one of my stories, though: Get off, and quit wasting my time. That's uncool, too.

Do you have further questions, or wish for clarification, or still just want to talk to me? Feel free to leave a comment or contact me on Tumblr.

This question and answer series is subject to revision and updating whenever the author wishes.


TehStraw's Profile Picture
Artist | Student | Literature
United States
(ID made on Doll Divine's Hipster Doll Maker)
(So was my icon, obviously)


Hello there. Nice to meet you. Please make yourself at home.

I'm Straw. I've been writing fan fiction for nearly eleven years now, which makes me twenty-four. I have a bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing, and a master's degree in English--not that you can tell, due to my ludicrous inability to find typos. I'm better at improving the works of others than I am at writing my own, but I absolutely adore writing and am constantly reading books and attending conventions to improve my craft. I have a full time, Monday through Friday job in a call center at a local doctors' office; I also frequently fall ill, the combination of which results in my spending more time daydreaming about updating than actually doing it.

I'm vegetarian, Christian, feminist, and presently identify as aromantic and asexual. I keep goldfish (Ken, Chikusa, Loki, and Clint) and a pleco (Groot), all of which occupy much of my time due to their collective attempts to die every few months. I also have a cat named Seymour, who thankfully does not frequently attempt to die, but does get urinary tract infections often.

I tend to find one fandom to hunker down in it for several years, writing and learning about it in my spare time until the story gets to the point of disappointing me. Presently my main fandom is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. My sub-fandoms are The Last of Us, Star Trek (Original Series and Reboot movies), and the Daniel Craig James Bond movies.

I'm terribly shy, which is why you don't see me interacting with any of the writing communities I'm on much. Please do not let that keep you from contacting me. You can e-mail me with the link above, or message me via Tumblr at my blog,

Presently Attempting To:
- Write more scenes instead of sequels
- Incorporate sex scenes
- Write middles that are cohesive and entertaining
- Make the characters less melodramatic unless the character is, in fact, melodramatic
- Actually write something

I also post my fan fictions to Quotev (as Straw/Strawchan), Ghosts of the Vanguard (as Straw), and Lunaescence Archives (as Straw). If you ever see my stuff on any other website, that's not me. Please report them for stealing, and let me know so that I may as well.

Current Projects:

(Don't) Hold Your Breath
Fandom: The Last of Us
Pairings: Joel/Reader; Maria/Tommy
Main Song: We Fall Apart by We As Human
Challenge: #32 in His Rulebook

Adventures in a Realm Without Divorce Court
Fandom: Thor; Avengers
Pairings: Thor/Jane; Thor/Reader; Clint/Darcy
Main Song: Waking Up in Vegas by Katy Perry
Challenge: A Twist on "I Do"

Fandom: Iron Man 2
Pairings: Justin Hammer/Reader; Tony Stark/Reader; Happy/Pepper
Main Song: Head on Collision by Hawk Nelson
Challenge: N/A

Just a Myth
Fandom: Avengers; Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Pairings: Natasha Romanoff/Reader; implied Clint Barton/Bobbi Morse
Main Song: I Am Not a Robot by Marina and the Diamonds
Challenge: A Perfect Love...

Logical Fallacy
Fandom: James Bond; Skyfall
Pairings: Q/Reader; Bond/Moneypenny
Main Song: A Thousand Years by Christina Perri
Challenge: 102 Things a Guy Should Know About Girls

Natasha Romanoff's Matchmaking Service
Fandom: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Pairings: Steve Rogers/Reader; past Brock Rumlow/Reader
Main Song: N/A
Fic Trade Prompt: Late-night Bonfire

One Small Step
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe
Pairings: Various/Reader
Main Song: N/A
Challenge: 120 Bits of Random

The Space Between Stars
Fandom: Request
Pairings: Request
Main Song: N/A
Challenge: 160 Collective Drabbles

Tastes a Little like Freedom, a Little like Fear
Fandom: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Pairings: Winter Soldier/Reader
Main Song: Honey and the Bee by Owl City
Challenge: 100 Drabble Adventure

Where Gods Do Fear to Tread
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe
Pairing: Currently Bruce/Reader
Main Song: N/A
Challenge: 9 Months

Coming Eventually
(If I can ever actually finish any of the above stories.)

Fandom: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Pairings: OC/Reader; Brock Rumlow/Reader
Main Song: TBA
Challenge: 20 Every Day Questions

To That Distant Future
Fandom: (Pre-)Captain America: The First Avenger
Pairings: Steve Rogers/Reader; Bucky Barnes/Reader
Main Song: TBA
Challenge: Childhood Memories

A Stab in the Dark
Fandom: Guardians of the Galaxy
Pairing: Nebula/Reader
Main Song: TBA
Challenge: NA/TBA

All That Glitters
Fandom: Agent Carter
Pairing: Polyamorous Peggy/Reader/Angie
Main Song: TBA
Challenge: Yuri For Every Occasion

Fandom: Avengers
Pairing: Steve Rogers/Reader
Main Song: TBA
Challenge: Dont'd Tooch My Mommy!

To Win an Agent in 14 Days
Fandom: Avengers
Pairing: Clint/Reader; Tony/Natasha
Main Song: TBA
Challenge: To Win a Girl in ____ Days!

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Add a Comment:
Alienette Featured By Owner Edited Aug 13, 2015
Thank You By Kmygraphic-d8skr9p by anne1956
FrozenCrystalRose Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Welcome to ReadersInc! We hope you enjoy the group!
LokiAvengerFangirl Featured By Owner May 26, 2015
Happy Birthday! :D
TehStraw Featured By Owner May 27, 2015  Student Writer
Why thank you!
LokiAvengerFangirl Featured By Owner May 28, 2015
You're welcome :) Hope it was good
amzimme Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for the favorite, Straw! :D
myINQI Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
:iconbedanker: on Knoblauchsland by myINQI :iconcip33:
hypermagical Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014
Thank you for the recent fave! :la: 
killstein Featured By Owner May 26, 2014
TehStraw Featured By Owner May 26, 2014  Student Writer
Aw, thanks.
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