FIC: "Unexpected Heart" for didodikali Recipient: didodikali Author: ??? Title: Unexpected Heart Rating: PG Pairings: Augusta Longbottom/Alastor Moody, Neville Longbottom/Hannah Abbott Word Count: ~ 1900 Warnings/Content Information (Highlight to View): *Not canon compliant. *. Summary: The heart wants what it wants. Even if it’s something completely unplanned. Author's Notes: This pair jumped at me as soon as I read your form. And who doesn’t love a bit of something unexpected? Many thanks to J for the cheerleading.
Your heart decides who it likes and who it doesn't. You can't tell your heart what to do, it does it on its own when you least expects it, or even if you don't want it to... ~ Unknown
Belmuth Place Morecambe Lancashire
The pot had been bubbling on the stove all afternoon. The smell of rich, meaty tomato sauce wafted from the kitchen, danced into the living room and tip-toed towards the front door. Griselda Marchbanks knew she was in for a treat – there was always something unexpected and absolutely delightful at her regular dinners with Augusta.
Griselda rapped sharply on the door, which opened with a whoosh, followed by a burst of a heavenly, mouth-watering scent. Augusta looked as she always did – tall and thin, silvery hair drawn back and wrangled into a tight roll. The vulture topped hat, thankfully, was sitting on a small table near the door. The stuffed bird glared indignantly forward, almost as though it were perturbed at being stuck in place.
“Griselda, dear, it’s lovely to see you! Hang your cloak and we’ll have a glass of wine before dinner. The spaghetti is nearly ready.” Augusta stepped aside, welcoming her friend inside.
The cloak was hung tidily on a hook and Griselda inhaled deeply. “Spaghetti? What on earth have you gotten into now?”
“Come, I’ll show you. Neville has been sending some wonderful things from the garden at his cottage.”
Augusta’s face warmed as she spoke of her grandson. Neville had been the talk of the wizarding world nearly as much as Harry Potter after the Battle of Hogwarts. He had settled into a small cottage not far from Hogsmeade, dividing his time between dabbling in Herbology and spending time with Hannah Abbott. Of late, it looked as though the latter was becoming more important than the former.
As they sipped at glasses of heady red wine, Augusta talked – more energetically than Griselda had seen her in an age.
“Neville’s been experimenting with some more traditional, Muggle type gardening apparently. A great big carton arrived by owl post this week with all sorts of vegetables and herbs. So I did something I’ve not done in many years.” Augusta smiled, obviously proud of whatever she’d been doing.
“Well, it smells delicious, dear. Are you planning to unveil this great mystery any time soon?”
Augusta rose, gesturing for Griselda to remain seated. She returned moments later with two large bowls and set them on the table.
“Fresh made pasta, Griselda, with a Bolognese sauce.”
“Oh my, I had no idea you were such a witch in the kitchen, Augusta! This looks marvelous.” Griselda wound some of the steaming spaghetti around a fork and swiped it through the rich sauce. It was, in a word, heavenly.
Dinner stretched long into the evening and the conversation drifted easily. From Augusta’s newfound enthusiasm and kitchen witchery to Griselda’s foray back into the Wizengamot. Had someone been able to step outside of the conversation and listen in, it would have been almost as though they were listening to a living history.
“How is Neville?” Griselda asked as they settled in front of the fire.
Augusta smiled. Her grandson was a marvel. From a baby thought to be a Squib, to war hero and now contented grown man. He was a joy, and that spilled over to Augusta, brightening everything.
“He’s well,” she replied. “Hasn’t settled on a career but he’s staying rather busy these days, between his greenhouse and that darling girl he’s been seeing.”
“Hannah Abbott, isn’t it? Hufflepuff, if I recall.” Griselda searched her memory, trying to picture the girl.
Augusta took a small frame from the mantel and handed it to Griselda. A young, smiling couple waved.
As the fire began to die, Griselda rose from her chair and thanked Augusta for another wonderful evening. Though they were not as frequent as either liked, it was a treat to see an old friend and share the happiness that had grown with the months passing after Voldemort’s death.
Griselda Apparated shortly after stepping outside, leaving Augusta smiling at the framed photograph in her hands. It had been far too long since seeing her grandson and his girl. That would be rectified in due time, Augusta decided.
Neville hadn’t been surprised to hear from his grandmother. They corresponded fairly often, especially since he’d been sending the proceeds from his garden. Apparently, Augusta was becoming as skilled in the kitchen as she was at dueling. They’d arranged to meet at the Leaky Cauldron, with Hannah joining them after lunch.
If anyone had said they’d seen Augusta Longbottom whiling away an afternoon, chatting over a meal and a glass of ale, they would have been branded a liar. Or mad. But that’s exactly what happened. Augusta praised Neville’s gardening and told tales of her experiments in the kitchen.
In turn, Neville talked about giving up the cottage in Hogsmeade and settling in a flat in Diagon Alley. With Hannah. Whom he intended to marry.
“I know it’s probably shocking, Gran, but I didn’t plan this. Never expected it, to be honest. But if I’ve learned one thing in the past few years, it’s that your heart does what it wants.”
Augusta patted Neville’s hand and he relaxed. “You’re absolutely right, Neville. We never know what’s going to happen to us, so do what your heart tells you. Give my best to Hannah. You should spend the afternoon together.”
Neville rose, starting to protest. “But Gran…”
“Nonsense, dear. I’ve errands to run in Diagon Alley. Go. Enjoy yourselves.”
Augusta gave him a kiss on the cheek, grabbed her red handbag and settled her vulture topped hat on her head. Neville waved as she stepped through the door and disappeared in the crowds strolling through Diagon Alley.
Laden with packages, Augusta stopped at the Central Owlery and made arrangements for the things to be delivered by post. Far easier that carrying them while Apparating or traveling by Floo. Sensible even, as it was supporting businesses trying to recover from the havoc wreaked by Voldemort.
As she stepped outside the Central Owlery, Augusta was adjusting her cloak and didn’t see the figure that was lumbering across the road. She ran right into the man and stumbled backwards a step, trying to compose herself.
Before Augusta could begin lecturing like a Howler, Alastor Moody reached out a hand and steadied her.
Physically, he had not changed all that much since being captured and tortured by Death Eaters before the Battle of Hogwarts. His face still looked as though it had been carved from a gnarled old tree. He was covered in scars. His hair was dark grey and grizzled; his wooden leg still thumped along the cobblestone street. A silver flask peeked out of one pocket and his magic eye still whirled in its socket.
“Augusta,” Moody grumbled.
Augusta brushed her cloak and straightened. “Alastor, this is a surprise. What brings you to Diagon Alley?”
“Supplies for Order headquarters.”
Augusta raised an eyebrow. “Surely there’s no longer a need for such vigilance, is there?”
Moody huffed. “We’re still searching for a last few Death Eaters who fled after the battle. The Auror corps at the Ministry was devastated and Kingsley is taking his time to rebuild.”
“Very wise, that Kingsley Shacklebolt. He’ll make a fine Minister of Magic.”
Moody nodded in agreement. “What brings you to Diagon Alley today?”
“Visiting my grandson. Neville apparently intends to marry Hannah Abbott.” Augusta smiled proudly. She hitched her handbag more firmly onto her shoulder.
“Alastor,” she started, extending a hand.
Very few people called him that. It was usually Mad-Eye, or just Moody. Though Potter still insisted on calling him Professor Moody despite his lack of actual teaching that year.
“Let’s have a drink. I believe there is a celebration in order.”
Moody pulled the flask from his pocket out of habit. He shoved it back, chuckling.
“Order headquarters, then?” He took the proffered hand and they Apparated as Augusta nodded her assent.
Number 12, Grimmauld Place still had an odd and empty feel to it. It sometimes seemed as though the ghosts of the Black family lingered, hovering over the occupants that drifted in and out of the building.
Life was slowly returning, mostly through the determined efforts of Molly Weasley and Hermione Granger. The house had been scrubbed from tip to tail, freshened with a few spells and a few plants.
Augusta nodded approvingly as they stepped through the door. “I recognize my grandson’s work.”
Moody grunted. “Longbottom has a talent for Herbology. Making quite the name for himself recently.”
They settled in front of the unlit fireplace, with a bottle of Firewhisky and two glasses between them.
“Tell me about yourself, Alastor. How are you finding yourself these days?”
He grimaced, filled both glasses and spoke haltingly.
It became a habit rather quickly, these somewhat odd meetings, though they were satisfying on both sides. Augusta convinced Moody to venture outside of Order headquarters one day and they visited a small wizarding village in North West England, not far from Blackpool. He’d grumbled, of course, criticizing the protective enchantments. Still, it had turned out to be an interesting and entertaining day.
Gradually, Augusta and Moody ventured further afield. They visited a wizard art gallery in London. A milliner that specialized in working with chickens and chicken feathers. They had talked about a Quidditch match, but that meant a risk of being seen by people who knew them both.
Several months into the growing relationship, Augusta invited Moody to Belmuth Place.
“Neville’s sent another package, Alastor. Let’s see what we can make of it.”
Moody agreed, begrudgingly.
On the appointed date and at the appointed time, Moody rapped on the door with his staff. As he waited, he surveyed the house with his good eye and his magical eye. Augusta had been careful, he noted. The enchantments and protective measures were strong. Nearly as good as his own.
“Spaghetti Bolognese, Alastor,” Augusta explained as they settled at the table. “Griselda calls it my kitchen witchery.”
Something about being in such a welcoming and – secure, Moody told himself – environment was warming. He and Augusta talked through dinner. She was exceedingly well informed about Ministry matters and wizarding politics, he noted. Strongly in favor of Kingsley Shacklebolt as Minister of Magic and punishment for the fugitive Death Eaters.
As they carried the dishes into the kitchen (sans magic, though Augusta used several unspoken spells to set the cleaning in motion), Moody found himself in a very unexpected place. With his guard down. And with someone (a woman, no less) who was formidable, brilliant and unconventional.
Moody set down his glass and took Augusta by the hand.
“Thank you,” he grumbled quietly.
“For what?” she replied.
“After so long, so many years, we become what others say we are. It’s not Polyjuice Potion or a Disillusionment Charm. Maybe we go mad.”
“Nonsense, Alastor. You are anything but mad. You are who you are. Your heart dictates that. No potion or spell or charm could change that for long.”
Augusta set down her glass and took Moody’s hand. Slowly, she touched his face, rubbing a thumb over the scars. Without thinking, she leaned forward and touched her lips to Alastor’s cheek.
A crash, sounding distinctly like a bottle hitting tile, echoed through the room.
Augusta turned her head and looked to the left, seeing the expression on her grandson’s face.