Neville had a problem. Wednesday morning Sprout had assigned a report on "Bowtruckles," that she had described as trees eight inches high with beady eyes. The Bowtruckle was endowed with special wood--- wand-wood. It was known that wand-wood could be forged into a new wand. Well, ever since Neville's wand broke the night at the Ministry, he was desperate for a new wand. He enjoyed his father's wand once, but it was time to have his own. Besides, if he returned home with his father's wand, mended with spell-o-tape, well, his Gram would never forgive him.
"Please Hermione!" Neville begged.
"I think that going into the Forbidden Forest is a bad idea," she said blatantly.
"I think you're off your rocker," Ron said loudly, engaged in a chess match with Dean.
Neville protested, "The Bowtruckle's live in large trees, all we have to do is find one---"
Hermione interrupted. "Yes, and offer it a dinner of woodlice. I've read up on them. No thanks, Neville."
Neville's face dropped and he could feel the familiar sensation of having his feelings hurt. He could not blame Hermione, but hoped she'd escort him into the forest.
"You, Harry and Ron have all gone deep into the forest! It can't be as forbidden as it sounds!" Neville argued.
"You'd be surprised," grumbled Ron as his pawn was knocked over. "Bloody hell," he groaned as an afterthought.
Neville would not give up. He looked toward the boys' dormintory.
"I'll just ask Harry, he'll understand," Neville said with satisfaction.
"No!" Hermione jumped and grabbed Neville's arm. "Harry needs rest after everything that's happened. The last thing he needs is to be bothered."
"I know that! You help him, yet, you won't help me at all. I think you can't be bothered! I guess I'm not your friend! I suppose Harry is our King around here?" Neville said this louder then he meant, and Hermione flushed pink. Neville had no idea where his outburst came from, but he regretted it.
"Hey, I thought Weasley was our King!" Dean added, smirking.
"Oh, shutup," Ron growled as he marched over to Neville.
"If you want to go into the forest, fine, but that's no reason to yell at Hermione!"
"Ron---" Hermione tried to object, but it was useless.
"Here's what we're going to do. You, Hermione and I are going to go into the Forbidden Forest, find a bloody bowtie---"
"Bowtruckle," Hermione corrected.
"Right, Bowtruckle, and we're going to grab the wand-wood and return. Then, you're going to quiet up so I can finish a match. Got it?"
"Right," Neville said sheepishly.
"Go get some woodlice and meet us at the forest in an hour," Ron said.
"Really?" Asked Neville in disbelief.
Neville scurried out of the room, his heart soaring.
"Ron?" Hermione asked, "Why the change of heart? I thought you hated the forest..."
Ron could not hide his crooked grin. "What are friends for, eh?" He then sat down to play chess. Hermione, surprised, could not concentrate. Instead, she stared at Ron for no reason at all. At least, a reason she was not ready to admit.
.....1 Hour Later.....
Wind blew the leaves as the three students walked down the winding forest path. They were dressed in scarves, as it was rather cold. Ron was followed closely by Hermione, wands out, as Neville crept behind.
"Look for a tree that looks like something might live in it," Hermione told the boys. "I read in Fantastic Beasts and---"
Hermione was interrupted with a yell from Neville, who was pointing towards a tree surronded by shrubs. "That one!" He shouted.
"That was quick," Ron said.
They approached the tree that towered above the rest, so high, they couldn't see the sky.
"Well, this looks like a nice hiding spot, doesn't it?" Hermione said.
"What do we do?" asked Ron.
"We have to make noise. Disturb the tree," Hermione said.
"We're beating up a tree?!" Ron asked, perplexed.
"Not hurt it, just get the Bowtruckle's attention..." Neville said as he handed the jar of woodlice to Ron. "Like this!" Neville shouted and thumped the tree with his fists. Nothing happened.
"See, Hermione? When we listen to Neville..."
Ron did not finsih his remark. Seconds later he was rolling on the ground, pulling at his sleeve. Hermione screamed as Ron tossed, his wand limp at his side as he struggled with the wood. Neville, however, knew what was attacking Ron.
"A Bowtruckle!" Neville shouted.
"It's p-poking me!" Ron cried.
"Stay still!" Hermione offered as she tried knocking the wood from his shoulder. But, Ron could not still and rolled around, batting at the Bowtruckle, now jabbing Ron's stomach.
"Hold on, Ron!"
Neville remembered the woodlice, and raced for the jar left upturned on the ground. He opened it and began to shower the lice over the Bowtruckle. Ron yelled even louder, and Neville remembered that lice were no different from the spiders Ron hated.
"Stay calm!" Hermione reminded.
The Bowtruckle did not notice the woodlice, and was closer to jabbing its twigs into Ron's eyes. A second later the Bowtruckle was motionless, his eyes transfixed on the woodlice crawling on Ron's jacket. Silently, Neville reached the Bowtruckle and began to peel the bark from it's body, the creature giving no sign of acknowledgement. Hermione hurried to Ron's side, his eyes in awe as Neville pocketed the bark.
"D-Do you think Sprout would give us extra points i-if we brought back a live B-Bowtruckle?" Ron whispered.
Hermione suppressed laughing and wiped the dirt from Ron's forhead. Strangely, Ron gave no objection to Hermione's touch. They watched as Neville picked the Bowtruckle up and placed it on the tree. Quickly, the Bowtruckle clawed off.
"Ahh!" Ron yelped as he shed his jacket.
"Are they off me? Merlin, I hope they don't lay eggs in my ears!" Ron groaned.
"You're fine, " Hermione reassured.
"I can't believe I got it!" Neville said as he showed off the bark.
"I'm glad--- but WHY did you PUT THE BUGS ON ME???" Yelled Ron as he picked the woodlice from his jacket with a sour face.
"Sorry, but that was the only way to distract it," Neville admitted. "Thank you for helping me," he added.
Ron caught Hermione's eyes. "Well, what are friends for?"
With that the three gathered their wits and made the trek back to Hogwarts, Neville leading the way.