Neville blinks and looks around the empty corridor because he knows this is a joke. People are probably hiding somewhere, ready to laugh if he falls for it. Of course, it’s not as if there actually is anyone who would participate in such a prank, but it’s the only explanation that makes sense. Being friends with Hermione for twelve years has done nothing if not forced him to think logically sometimes.
“Longbottom, it’s an easy question,” Malfoy mutters crossly as he thrusts his lower lip out in a very obvious pout.
As Neville stares, he realizes that Hermione’s logic doesn’t always make sense. After all, she’s the only person in the world who would actually hire a former Death Eater who had spent most of his childhood making her life miserable as an assistant for her library. That isn’t logical at all, especially when Malfoy is still a rude git even after serving two years in Azkaban. Well, he’s not as rude as he once was but he still thrives on being a snarky bastard.
“Forget it. I shouldn’t have asked,” Malfoy finally says sharply as his petulant pouting gives way to frustrated anger. “Good evening, Longbottom.”
He starts to walk away, his robe billowing in a manner that he had to have learned from watching Snape closely, and Neville suddenly realizes that he was serious. “Wait,” he calls out, cringing when his voice cracks. Malfoy stops but doesn’t turn around. Neville rolls his eyes at the action but is curious enough that he doesn’t just run back to his room to write up the lesson plan for tomorrow’s second year Herbology class.
“What?” Malfoy drawls sharply.
“I won’t take it,” Neville says more bravely than he expects. He takes a step closer and nervously tries to figure out what to do with his hands and how he should proceed.
“Fine,” Malfoy snaps. “Do forget we ever had this conversation.”
“Bloody hell,” Neville mutters as Malfoy tries to walk away again. “I didn’t say no!”
Malfoy turns around and fixes him with a glare that is worthy of Hermione during her monthly, which is about the scariest thing Neville can think of. The light from the sconces makes the scars on Malfoy’s face seem almost silver, and Neville can’t help but follow the path of them with his gaze as they twist around Malfoy’s cheek, jaw, and throat. He notices a faint pink stain on Malfoy’s cheeks and looks up to meet intense grey eyes.
“Are you done staring?” Malfoy asks snidely, hiding behind a sneer as always.
“I won’t take it,” Neville tells him quietly. He licks his lips and wonders how he ended up in this position before deciding it’s obviously because he’s the only professor that isn’t at least twice Malfoy’s age and his previous relationship with Terry Boot confirmed where his sexual interests lie. “But I’ll accept it.”
Malfoy is clearly surprised and stares at him in confusion for several heartbeats. Finally, he frowns. “I don’t get it, Longbottom.”
“It’s nothing something that should be taken,” Neville stammers, feeling fifteen instead of twenty-three. “It should be given to someone you want to have it.”
“Fuck, you’re such a girl,” Malfoy mutters even as his face takes on the ‘I’m thinking about this’ look. “Why can’t you just say yes? That’s a lot simpler than this ridiculous, and may I add embarrassing, conversation.”
“If you’re just looking to lose it, might I suggest someone from Knockturn Alley,” Neville says in a firm tone that pleasantly surprises him. “I don’t appreciate being used, Malfoy.”
“If I just wanted that, I’d not be in this predicament, would I?” Malfoy sneers but there’s a flash of vulnerability that makes Neville relax. “Besides, how would I afford them? And have you forgotten these?”
He points to the scars and Neville can see his hand shaking despite his smug behavior. “What about them?” Neville asks. He thinks the scars have given Malfoy character, have moved him from a forgettable pretty boy to a distinguished man. He wonders idly if Hermione suggested him to Malfoy, since those two have some twisted friendship that confuses everyone and she knows about the crush he’s had on Malfoy since he came to work at Hogwarts nearly two years ago. He’s not sure if he wants to hex her or thank her if she is responsible.
Malfoy stares at him and his hand drops. He frowns again before he says, “You don’t think they’re grotesque.”
It’s not a question, more of a confused realization. Neville shrugs. “I’ve seen worse.”
“Fine,” Malfoy murmurs as he shifts in place and the tension in the air seems to change automatically. Neville gulps and his mouth dries and his palms sweat as Malfoy finally looks at him. “Can I give it to you?”
“Why are you so determined to, uh, you know?” Neville has to ask, his cheeks blushing as he again thinks how surreal this entire encounter is.
“I’m twenty-three, Longbottom,” Malfoy says simply. “I’m probably the only bloody virgin left of our entire class since most of them had that ‘Oh, it’s a war so let’s shag anything that moves’ philosophy. I, however, had far more important things to be concerned with. Besides, I don’t find you entirely unappealing.”
“Thanks,” Neville murmurs, knowing that is probably the most of a compliment he’ll get from Malfoy. “Nice to know I’m not that unappealing.”
“Do you really think I’d sully myself by shagging just anyone?” Malfoy points out before his eyes widen and he bites his lip. “I mean, you should be honored that I’ve chosen you for this task. Now, since you refuse to take it, will you accept it?”
Neville smiles suddenly before he steps forward and kisses Malfoy. It’s just a simple kiss, at first. But then lips part and hands are everywhere and he’s completely lost. He pulls back finally, lips swollen and breath coming in soft pants, and stares at Malfoy, who is flushed and looks confused.
“We’ll have dinner together tomorrow,” Neville tells him quietly. “I’ll take you to the Three Broomsticks and we’ll talk. Afterwards, I’ll bring you back to the castle and I’ll kiss you good-night. Then, we’ll do that again another night. After that, if you ask me that question again, I’ll say yes and you’ll learn the difference between ‘taking’ and ‘giving’.”
“Fine,” Malfoy whispers, not even bothering to argue or say something snide. His gaze moves to Neville’s lips and then back up, and he smirks slightly. “I knew you’d say yes. As if you could resist such an irresistible offer and actually say---”
Neville cuts off Malfoy’s smug words with another kiss. He moves his hands behind Malfoy, lightly squeezing his arse as he pulls him closer. Neville brushes his lips across Malfoy’s jaw and kisses the pale scars, listening to Malfoy gasp and then sigh so softly that he can barely hear it. When Neville pulls back, they stare at each other again, something that is becoming more frequent tonight.
Neville smiles somewhat shyly before he says firmly, “Tomorrow night. Seven o’clock sharp in the front hall,” before he turns and walks down the corridor to his room.