Neville’s office isn’t in the castle. Well, there is technically a room assigned to him (third floor, fifth door on the right, mind the re-located portrait of Sir Cadogan). But if you needed help with your Herbology assignment or were sent to see the Head of Gryffindor House about that parakeet you snuck into the fifth floor girl’s toilets, you would never find him there.
Neville had a small cottage near the greenhouses. There had been some grumbling about its creation when Neville first started teaching, but it was hard to argue with the Minister’s favorite advisor who just happened to be a hero. So the cottage was built and young Mr. Longbottom and his new wife moved onto the Hogwarts grounds.
There was a steady stream of students coming in and out of the little house during class breaks. Some carried odd potted plants, some looks of guilt etched on their faces, and some simply dropped by to say hello. The windows had bright curtains and the chimney always cheerfully puffed smoke. It was hard not to feel welcomed by the cozy exterior.
Things were different after night fell. Students still weren’t allowed to wander the grounds at night, but everyone turned a blind eye to those who knocked on the cottage door under cover of darkness. These students carried no gifts and bore no cheery smiles. Their faces were tear-stained or bruised or fearful. They were hunched over, trying to make themselves as small as possible. They knocked on the door with shaking hands and trembling lips.
When they entered they would find a crackling fire, a squashy armchair, some of Hannah Longbottom’s famous ginger biscuits and a steaming cup of tea. And they would find Professor Longbottom, smiling kindly. He heard stories of homesickness, of bullies and taunts, of fears and failures. He dried tears and patted backs. And most importantly, he listened.
He might quietly find a bully and intervene. He might Apparate from the Three Broomsticks to the nearest Muggle town and place a call to a concerned parent. He might consult with Madam Pomfrey on the best way to help manage the anxieties of an overwhelmed fifth year. He might simply sit and give a firm and thoughtful piece of advice. But this is not why students came to Professor Longbottom’s house when life was bleak and Hogwarts was too much to bear.
They came because he had once, so many years ago, been like them. And because they, unlike him, would never have to be alone.
(written and submitted by ppyajunebug. This is another very sweet submission from this author. ppyajunebug’s wizarding world always feels like ultimately a good place, where wrongs are righted and people do kind things. It’s an inviting, pleasant look at canon; thank you, ppyajunebug!)
I may be crying actual tears right now.