The Sugar Quill
Author: MysticBlueside and bribitribbit  Story: The Seeds You Plant  Chapter: Chapter 1: A Summons to Compartment C
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

The Seeds You Plant


The Seeds You Plant


"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap...but by the seeds you plant!"

- Robert Louis Stevenson


Co-written by MysticBlueside and Bribitribbit

MysticBlueside specializes in Professor Sprout and the Mimbulus mimbletonia.

Bribitribbit specializes in Susan Bones and Trevor the Toad.

This fic was written for all the poor Neville fans who never get any fuel.


Also, to enhance your reading experience (:D), <a href="">we have found a picture that is very appropriate for this chapter</a>.


And lastly, we would like to thank an awesome beta, Suburban House Elf, whom we have taken to calling "SHE-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named" because we're a bit weird like that.





Chapter One: A Summons to Compartment C




“Now, are you sure you’ve got everything, Neville?” Augusta Longbottom leaned over her grandson and picked off an imperceptible bit of lint.


Neville sighed. Once again, he looked at the checklist that she had drawn up for him. It said everything was packed and accounted for, but he wasn’t sure that he trusted himself. Nonetheless he said, "Yes, Gran. I’ve got everything." It was always around this time that he missed his Remembrall--and he regretted that he could never remember to ask for another.




Neville patted his pocket, and Trevor gave a small, half-hearted croak. Apparently, he didn’t enjoy this interrogation much either.


"Very well, then." Gran straightened up, and crossed her arms, examining Neville for, perhaps, any more specks of lint. He thought in his own mind that she was probably just lamenting that she was seeing Neville off instead of her own son. She was always rubbing it in his face that his father had never forgotten anything for school. Was he supposed to be proud about that or something? All it ever did was make him feel rather sick. "Well…"


She always seemed very anxious when it came time to say goodbye. Neville sometimes wondered why, but he never dwelt long upon it. He kissed her on the cheek. "Bye, Gran."


"Bye, dear. Keep me proud!" The corners of Neville’s lips turned upward, not in a smile, but in acknowledgement of Gran’s request to keep her proud. She had been proud, all summer, about the battle in the Department of Mysteries. That wasn’t wearing off, was it? He hoped not.


He turned, lugging his trunk after him. Luna caught up with him just before he got onto the train. "Hello, Neville," she said. Her trunk must have already been on the train, and in its absence, her arms, hugging her chest, were filled with an issue of The Quibbler.


"Hello, Luna. Did you have a nice time in Sweden?"


Luna smiled. "Oh, yes, it was very interesting. I’ve got pictures of the Crumple-Horned Snorkacks. I’ll show them to you later. They’re in my trunk right now."


"All right," said Neville, although he knew the pictures were probably the same blurs of color that she had shown him as proof of Billycodgers last year. He stepped onto the train, hauling his trunk on with him.


Luna jumped on with a certain grace, which was strange to see. "Shall we find a compartment, then?"


"All right."


Together, they moved like cattle through the rows between the compartments. Finally, Neville saw a familiar face, surrounded by fascinated girls, that might be willing to sit with him. "Harry!" he said, hoping he’d be heard through the other girls.


Harry turned and looked as if he had never wanted to see Neville more in his lifetime. "Neville!" This seemed to communicate that Neville should come over; he and Luna struggled their way through the admiring hordes  to reach Harry.


Trevor twitched inside his pocket. Neville reached inside to comfort him, and felt a familiar, cold, smooth coin there. The D.A. Galleon--he had almost forgotten that he’d put it in this morning, in hopes that maybe there would be a summons to meeting--for what, exactly, Neville wasn’t sure. Over his head, Luna and Harry exchanged salutations, and then he heard, "Let’s find seats."


Together, the three threaded through dozens of students, all evidently awestruck to have Harry--and, perhaps, even Neville and Luna themselves!--in their presence. It struck Neville that this was probably the result of the many articles which had popped up during the summer, about the Department of Mysteries, and probably because they were about to share a compartment with, if the press was correct (unlikely), the Chosen One, whatever that meant.


A small girl, with big brown eyes, waved shyly at Neville. He waved back, astonished. Finally, they reached a sufficiently deserted compartment. Neville put his luggage on the rack, and then turned. "They’re staring at us!" he said excitedly to Harry, pointing at Luna and himself, adding, "Because we’re with you!"


"They’re staring at you because you were at the Ministry too. Our little adventure there was all over the Daily Prophet, you must’ve seen it."


Hadn’t he? Neville had already gotten a few tastes of treatment like today’s--a memorable one being a random celebrity-obsessed lady named Doris Crockford coming up to him and Gran one day in Madam Malkin’s. She’d begged to have a picture with Neville, and an autograph as well.


"Yes, I thought Gran would be angry about all the publicity, but she was really pleased. Says I’m starting to live up to my dad at long last." This compliment was indeed a high one, coming from Gran, but her giving it didn’t succeed in making Neville feel very proud, not like her buying him a new wand, when he’d thought she’d never let him do magic again. He reached into his other pocket, and pulled it out. "She bought me a new wand, look! Cherry and unicorn hair. We think it was one of the last Ollivander ever sold, he vanished next day--" There was a familiar croak, and then an empty absence inside Neville’s right pocket. "Oi, come back here, Trevor!"


Trevor leapt underneath one of the benches. Several wads of Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum were stuck onto the underside, and Neville was sure someone could make a fortune of all the money lost in the darkness. He heard a croak and there in a corner was Trevor, blinking innocently at Neville. Overhead, he could hear Luna speaking. "Are we still doing D.A. meetings this year, Harry?" she asked.


Neville reached towards Trevor. The toad croaked, probably lamenting his fault into hopping himself into a corner. Neville grabbed him (Trevor slipped through his fingers), at the same time hearing Harry say, "No point now we’ve got rid of Umbridge, is there?"


In a hurry to answer, Neville tried to pull himself from under the seat, but he hit his head in the process. He tried to keep his disappointment (and pain) out of his voice as he said, "I liked the D.A.! I learned loads with you!"


Luna put in her own two cents, in her own dreamlike way. "I enjoyed the meetings, too." Neville wasn’t prepared for what she said next. "It was like having friends."


He stuck his head back underneath the seat, not quite sure what to say. Trevor was nowhere in sight.


Luna was a very nice person, but they were, of course, in different houses; and, well, she was just too odd for Neville’s liking at times. But he still considered her a friend, in the broadest sense--


His thoughts were interrupted by the noise of very silly giggling. They were arguing about something, until finally, at least as far as Neville could tell, one pushed her way into the compartment. "Hello," he heard. She sounded, well, a bit haughty. "I'm Romilda. Romilda Vane. Why don’t you join us in our compartment? You don’t have to sit with them." Neville could hear contempt in her voice, and he imagined just how stupid he looked with his bum sticking out into the air.


"They’re friends of mine," said Harry. Neville blushed, glad that nobody could see him. Croak.


"Oh. Oh, okay," and Romilda Vane withdrew, happily for Neville.


Croak, croak, croaked Trevor. He seemed to be hiding underneath a large pile of dust. He might have sneezed, if toads could do such a thing--Neville wasn’t sure that they could.


"None of them," Neville assumed Harry meant Romilda and her friends, "was at the Ministry. They didn’t fight with me."


Luna was speaking, but Neville was so preoccupied with capturing Trevor that he didn’t hear. Trevor burst from his dust pile, and attempted to jolt past Neville, but Neville caught him. "Gotcha!" he whispered.




"We didn’t face him, though," said Neville, as he crawled backwards from the seat, Trevor in hand. "You did. You should hear my gran talk about you. ‘That Harry Potter’s got more backbone than the whole Ministry of Magic put together!’ She’d give anything to have you as a grandson..."


Harry laughed a bit nervously at these words. Neville regretted saying them. He had meant to be funny--what he had said must have come out in a way that made Harry pity him. Neville changed the subject.


"What’d you get on your O.W.L.s? Mine weren’t so brilliant. My gran’s repeated them back at me so many times I’ve memorized them--P in Astronomy, A in Care of Magical Creatures, E in Charms, E in Defense Against the Dark Arts, P in Divination, O in Herbology, P in History of Magic--" Neville paused, gulping, before the next-- "T in Potions, not that I’d expected any better, and an A in Transfiguration. They’re…well, Gran says they’re very mediocre."


"You have an O, though, and a few Es. Those are good," said Luna helpfully.


Neville shrugged, although inwardly he agreed. He didn't want to be too proud, however, since Gran wasn't. "Yes, well--now I can’t take N.E.W.T. Transfiguration. Gran wasn’t very happy about that. She said my dad was brilliant at it."


He looked away from Luna and at Harry across from him. Harry was staring in his general direction, but not actually at Neville. "You all right, Harry? You look funny."


Harry jumped. "Sorry--I--"


"Wrackspurt got you?" asked Luna.


"I--what?" Neville looked at Luna, bewildered, and frowned so that his eyebrows met in the middle.


"A Wrackspurt. They’re invisible. They float in through your ears and make your brain go fuzzy. I thought I felt one zooming around in here."


Luna swatted at the air, looking as if she was performing a clumsy interpretative dance routine. Neville and Harry glanced quickly at each other.


"So, how about those Tornadoes?" said Harry.




The bright sunlight was pouring into the compartment when Ron and Hermione came in. Ron briefly acknowledged Neville and Luna before moaning about his lack of food. Bored, Neville, pulled a restless Trevor out of his pocket, and watched him squirming in his hands. His eyes seemed to say, "If you please, dear master, let me go, and frolic in yonder field with the beautiful young frog lasses."


Neville really had no idea why Trevor was always so keen to escape; he had always assumed it had something to do with Neville himself. Perhaps Trevor had grown a liking for Great Uncle Algie in the time he’d been with him (what, three days?), and was just trying to get back. Neville knew that his pet toad must like him somewhere deep in the recesses of his toady little heart, but that appreciation was never demonstrated. Ever.


Trevor croaked morosely. Ron, Harry, and Hermione spoke around him. Luna seemed to be snoozing beneath her strange Spectrespecs. A third year girl entered the compartment like a gust of wind (or lack thereof, since she sounded as if she’d just run the length of the entire train).


"I’m supposed to deliver these to Neville Longbottom and Harry--Potter." She faltered on the last word, and looked quickly up at Harry’s scar, which he ignored. She held out two scrolls of parchment, which were tied with ribbon and addressed to either one of the boys.


Bemused, Neville took his, unrolled it, and scanned the words.


Mr. Longbottom,


It would be a pleasure if you could meet me for lunch in compartment C.



Professor H. E. F. Slughorn


The signature was written with several gratuitous flourishes that hurt Neville’s eyes if he stared too long. Tearing his view from the parchment, he looked up at Harry, who didn’t look quite as perplexed as Neville thought he, himself, might. Harry probably had a better idea of what was going on.


"Who’s Professor Slughorn?" he asked.


"New teacher," replied Harry promptly. "Well, I suppose we’ll have to go, won’t we?" He didn’t seem very enthusiastic at this.


Neville understood why Harry might be wanted by the new teacher. If Professor Slughorn was for Defense, as he very likely was, then perhaps he wanted to talk about the D.A. (which had been leaked this summer to the Daily Prophet--the writer was "not surprised that Harry Potter, such a noble being, wanted to continue defense lessons to his inferior classmates, when their teacher was obviously not suited to the job").


"But what does he want with me for?" he asked nervously. Was he in trouble for something already? Had Gran pre-warned the new teacher? It had happened with Lockhart. But Professor Slughorn had said "it would be a pleasure"--a talk about his grades was not in any way pleasurable.


"No idea," said Harry. "Listen, let’s go under the Invisibility Cloak, then we might get a good look at Malfoy on the way, see what he’s up to."


Neville frowned at Harry, but agreed nonetheless. The idea was apparently fruitless (Neville had concentrated more on not tripping over the fabric than watching for Malfoy), judging by Harry’s face by the time they reached Professor Slughorn’s compartment.


Inside, a small crowd of people was already gathered, but the eye-catching persona was a shiny-headed, shiny-faced, short, stout man who looked more like a walrus than Neville had ever seen a man look like in his life. He greeted Harry like an old friend; to Neville, he said excitedly, "And you must be Mr. Longbottom!"


Neville nodded. He was rather intimidated, truthfully. He and Harry sat down across from each other, nearest the door. Neville didn’t look up from his lap as he sat. Professor Slughorn began introducing them to all the other guests, which included Marcus Belby and Blaise Zabini; the only person that Neville recognized was Cormac McClaggen. When he looked up to nod at him, he noticed Ginny, and shot her a small smile. She rolled her eyes and shook her head at Professor Slughorn in return, as the professor ended, "And this charming young lady tells me she knows you!"


Ginny made an amusing face behind his back.


Slughorn settled back into his seat. It was a wonder that the springs didn’t break from all the weight resting on them, although they did give a creak of resistance. "Well, this is most pleasant. A chance to get to know you all a little better." Professor Slughorn seemed most excited about the food, which he had packed into his own basket. In fact, Neville’s own stomach was rumbling quite a bit, as well.


Slughorn passed around a basket of rolls, and told Harry and Neville what the conversation prior to their entrance had been like, although Neville, for one, didn’t particularly care. Then as they ate (pheasant and pies and an array of vegetables, with magically-squeezed lemonade to wash it all down), Professor Slughorn spoke to each of his guests about various things. The running theme, apparently, was good connections.


Neville didn’t look forward to his turn to be interrogated, and when it was, he tried to speak as little as possible. When Slughorn turned his attention on him, it was like somebody had stuck him cruelly onto the Astronomy Tower, naked for the world to see, with a giant spotlight from the sky shining down on him.


"Neville Longbottom, dear boy, I’m quite sure your parents were Frank and Alice Longbottom?" Professor Slughorn used past tense. Neville felt a bit sick again, and nodded, not trusting himself enough to open his mouth. "Great Aurors, were those two. Three times they evaded You-Know-Who! Three!"


"Right," said Neville. He'd already known this, of course. He'd heard it many times from Gran and even from Gramp when he'd been alive.


"They might have been the best Aurors of their time, indeed!"




"Terrible thing that happened. Tortured into insanity, tut tut." Neville felt the stares of Zabini, Belby, and McClaggen all on him. His embarrassment was even more vivid. "Are they still at St. Mungo’s? Augusta’s keeping them well-looked-after, I’m sure."


Neville wasn't quite sure how to answer this. There weren't many people who knew about his parents--not that he was ashamed, it was just that, well, he didn't want to broadcast it. He chanced an uncertain look at Ginny, who looked to be torn between sympathy with him and anger at Professor Slughorn. He swallowed. "Yes," he said finally.


"Do you go and visit them often?"


Neville nodded. Had someone just thrust him into the Sahara desert like a pro Quidditch referee? His throat felt like it.


"It must be horrible for you to go and find them. Imagine what they might have taught you! I'm sure you're quite as clever as Alice in her day."


"How clever was she?" asked Neville. His curiosity got the better of him. As much as he heard of his father, he didn't know half as much about his mother. Gran was his father's mother, after all. Sometimes, Neville even wondered if Gran had hated Alice or something.


"Oh, very clever! Not too great in Potions, but that's a rare gift, Potions is. She wasn't too good at most classes, actually--but a sharp wit! Very sharp."


Neville nodded. He'd said too much now. He didn't want to get caught saying more. There was silence for a few moments, until finally Professor Slughorn cleared his throat.


"Hm, well, terrible, terrible," and Professor Slughorn looked at him with something which made Neville feel as if he were in the middle of a particularly grueling Potions exam, and if he added one wrong counter-clockwise stir…


The professor turned his attention from Neville to Harry, and Neville silently sighed in relief as the giant spotlight clicked off. He looked into his lap, and didn’t make eye contact with anyone else. He was sure he wouldn’t like this teacher very much. He listened to Slughorn questioning Harry, until they came to what happened before the summer. As Neville understood, Sirius Black was important to Harry, and he was as good as murdered by that…that…woman. The way Harry had reacted when Black disappeared was scary, a ferociousness came over him that mostly seemed to happen when any of his friends were threatened . Only this was worse, in a way. It was one thing to be able to stand up for someone, something Neville rarely could do himself, but another to be helpless in the situation. Neville expected that was how Harry had felt—helpless and confused, probably horrified. Just seeing Professor Slughorn bring the Ministry of Magic up, putting a look of suppressed grief on Harry’s face, was enough to make Neville want to repay the favor of loyalty that Harry had so often granted him.

"But the rest of the stories--so sensational, of course, one doesn’t know quite what to believe--this fabled prophecy, for instance--"


"We never heard a prophecy," interrupted Neville. He flushed as he looked up at Professor Slughorn. He knew very well that they may have heard the prophecy if Neville, himself, hadn’t been so clumsy as to drop it, but the Professor didn’t need to know all the details. It was probably better, for Harry’s sake, the less anyone knew about prophecies and who they were supposedly addressed to.


"That’s right," added Ginny, backing Neville up. "Neville and I were there too, and all this ‘Chosen One’ rubbish is just the Prophet making things up, as usual." Neville was grateful to have Ginny there, suddenly. He wasn’t very good at lying to professors. Actually, he wasn’t very good at lying to anyone.


"You were both there too, were you?" said Slughorn excitedly. He and Ginny both kept their mouths shut, and Neville looked back into his lap. Slughorn continued into a story about some acquaintance of his. Neville didn’t really listen to any of the anecdotes, and neither did anyone else but Cormac McClaggen, who laughed heartily at each and every one of Slughorn’s completely idiotic jokes.


Neville was incredibly thankful by the time Slughorn released his prisoners, at which time it was already dark. He walked alongside Harry and Ginny, and said, "I’m glad that’s over. Strange man, isn’t he?"


"Yeah, he is, a bit," replied Harry. "How come you ended up in there, Ginny?"


"He saw me hex Zacharias Smith. You remember that idiot from Hufflepuff who was in the D.A.? He kept on and on asking about what happened at the Ministry and in the end he annoyed me so much I hexed him--when Slughorn came in I thought I was going to get detention, but he just thought it was a really good hex and invited me to lunch! Mad, eh?"


"Better reason for inviting someone than because their mother’s famous." This described Blaise Zabini, whom Harry was currently staring at, and Neville agreed with the sentiment. "Or because their uncle--" but Harry stopped there. He seemed to be considering something, but then he whispered, "I’ll see you two later," and disappeared underneath his Invisibility Cloak.


"But what’re you--?" asked Neville.


"Later!" he heard Harry reply, and Neville wasn’t sure if he was even there anymore.


Ginny raised an eyebrow and watched what would have been Harry's disappearing figure, and then to Neville, said, "Come on, let’s find your compartment."


When they returned to it, Luna had taken off her Spectrespecs and was playing with Hermione’s cat Crookshanks, Ron was eating his way through a pile of Chocolate Frogs, and Hermione was reading a book that Neville couldn’t quite catch the title of.


"Hullo," said Neville.


Hermione looked up. "Hello, Ginny. Hi, Neville. Where’s Harry?"


Neville shrugged as he sat, and Ginny said, "I don’t know. He just disappeared. Literally."


Ron and Hermione exchanged a glance. "He’s probably gone looking for Malfoy," said Ron forebodingly, swallowing his sweets.


"Why, what has Malfoy done?" asked Neville curiously. Ginny sat down next to him, apparently postponing the walk to her own compartment.


"Just being a git, you know, the usual," replied Ron, after some hesitation.


"Where did you go?" asked Luna from her seat. Crookshanks didn’t seem to like her very much, for he was now facing the wall opposite her, and ignoring her with catty snobbiness. Trevor shook inside Neville’s pocket. He refused to come out now that a feline was in his vicinity.


"To Professor Slughorn’s," said Neville. "He’s a new teacher, I guess--"


"He’s a right humongous idiot, he is," said Ginny. "And he looks like a walrus. The only reason he’d asked any of us there is because he thought we were special in some way."


"So why’d he ask you?" quipped Ron, and Ginny kicked him.


"What was he like?" asked Hermione.


"I told you--an idiot that looks like a walrus. When we were in there, he went around and asked everyone questions about their families and stuff. It was pretty bad, especially since--" she glanced fleetingly at Neville-- "some people don’t get along very well with their families."


Hermione and Ron both glanced briefly at Neville too, and nodded silently, understanding perfectly.


"I hope Professor Slughorn isn’t a spy for the Ministry, wanting to know all about your families like that," said Luna, as if Professor Slughorn’s being a spy would excite her very much.


"Right," said Neville. "Well, I think we should probably put on our robes and things now."


"I’ll go back to my compartment then," said Ginny. "Bye."


There was a meager response, and Ginny exited their compartment. Ron, on his way to get his school robes out of his trunk, looked out the window that faced the aisle outside the compartment. "Wonder where Harry’s got to," he said.


Neville didn’t respond, since he didn’t know the answer. He didn’t notice that while pulling on his robes, Trevor leaped out of the pocket of his jeans and back underneath Luna’s seat; Hermione was the one who alerted him.


Neville caught Trevor with less difficulty this time, and finally, the train pulled into Hogsmeade station.

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