Harry Potter, Closer to Fine

Title: Closer To Fine [Harry, Neville]
Rating/Warnings: PG for utter sap. It’s not even slash, really.
Summary: Harry is going off the deep end.
A/N: Written for Musesfool’s Lyric Challenge, for “Closer To Fine” by the Indigo Girls.

Closer to Fine

Neville eyed Harry with the same wariness that one eyes a ticking bomb without a timer to warn your when to get out of the way. Harry was bent over his desk, scribbling notes frantically, and when his quill snapped under the pressure, he kept right on writing as though he hadn’t noticed.

Neville slid off his bed with a sigh and went over to seize Harry by the wrist. Harry jumped several inches off his chair, and Neville could feel Harry’s pulse, hammering against Neville’s fingertips in his wrist.

“Neville?” Harry asked, blinking in squinty confusion. “What’s happening?”

“You’ve broken your quill,” Neville answered calmly, prying the bent feather out of Harry’s cramped hand, “which means you can’t go on writing with it.”

“Really?” Harry seemed incapable of focusing on anything, and his eyes kept darting away from Neville’s face and back again.

“Harry, when was the last time you slept?” Neville asked. Harry shook his head, waving his free hand vaguely, which could have meant anything from ‘I don’t remember’ to ‘I like circular objects’. “I thought as much,” Neville said, “C’mon, get up.”

He tugged Harry up out of his chair by the arm, and Harry struggled weakly.

“No, I have to study for NEWTS,” Harry protested.

“You don’t even know what subject you’re studying, do you?” Neville asked.

“Yes!” Harry shot back, eyes flitting down to his parchments and back again. “It’s uh, that one, you know, that we take all together, and uh, there’s books and wands and uh…it’s got to do with magic?”

Neville would have laughed if it wasn’t so sad, and if he hadn’t had this conversation with Harry several times this month already.

“If you won’t sleep, you have to take a break,” Neville said. “We’re going outside, Harry.”

“No, no I can’t!” Harry struggled harder, but Neville held firm.

March, Harry,” Neville ordered, shoving Harry towards the door. Harry’s shoulders slumped, defeated, and he marched.

He trailed behind Neville, letting him lead without further protest, and Neville led him outside to the place that would likely cheer Harry up the fastest.

“The pitch?” Harry asked, looking up finally when he felt sand crunch underneath his feet. Damp from rain earlier in the evening, the sand stuck to their shoes and squeaked when they stepped.

“It’s too dark to fly, really,” Neville nodded, “but I thought the fresh air might do you good anyway.” He toed the sand, watching it bunch up, and had an idea. “Harry, have you ever made sand castles?”

Staring at him blankly, Harry shook his head. Blushing from the childishness of it all, but plowing ahead anyway, Neville tugged Harry down to his knees and started pushing sand together. After a minute, Harry joined in, and by the time the wetness of the ground had soaked through their robes and the knees of their trousers, they’d created a reasonable facsimile of some structure that might have been a castle. Harry even found a twig with a leaf on it and stuck it on top as a flag while Neville was finishing the moat.

While Harry admired their handiwork, Neville took a good look at Harry, and was relieved to find that most of the panic lines had smoothed from his face, and he looked more simply tired and less like he might blow up the school at any moment.

“Thanks,” Harry said, “I needed this. Just with the NEWTS and everything…I think I’m taking life too seriously.”

“Glad to help,” Neville shrugged. “It’s only life after all.”

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