Neville Longbottom and the Bowtruckle

Neville had a problem. It all started Wednesday morning when Professor Sprout had unexpectedly assigned a report on a creature known soley as a "Bowtruckle," that she had described as a small tree no bigger than eight inches with beady eyes and long twigs. The Bowtruckle was endowed with special wood, called wand-wood. It was known that when given to a wand maker, wand-wood could be forged into a nice, new wand for the paying wizard for less than two Galleons and one Sickle. Well, ever since Neville's wand broke in half after the terrible night at the Ministry of Magic, Neville had been desperate for a new wand to call his own. He had enjoyed his father's wand dearly, but it was time to have a wand for himself--- maybe then he would stop blowing things up and performing the wrong spells, he decided. Besides, if he had to return home with his fathers wand, broken and mended over with spell-o-tape, well, his Gram would never forgive him.

"Please Hermione!" Begged Neville as they sat in the Common Room, Hermione rereading an old copy of Hogwarts, A History.

"Neville, I honsetly think that going into the Forbidden Forest is a bad idea," she told him blatantly.

"I think you're off your rocker, mate," Ron said loudly, engaged in a rough chess match across the room with Dean.

"No, really," Neville protested, "The Bowtruckle, which happen to be very shy, lives in a large tree somewhere, all we have to do is find one---"

Hermione interrupted with, "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 that familiar sensation of having his feelings hurt. Not that he could blame Hermione, but he had his hopes up that she would escort him into the Forest. He certainly had no intentions of going in there alone.

"But you, Harry and Ron have all gone deep into the forest countless times! Surely it can't be as forbidden as it sounds!" Neville argued.

"You'd be surprised," grumbled Ron as one of his Knights was knocked over. "Bloody hell," he groaned as an afterthought.

Neville was not ready to give up. He stood, and looked toward the boy's dormintory.

"I'll just ask Harry then, he'll understand," Neville said with slight satisfaction.

"No!" Hermione jumped up and grabbed Neville's arm before he could walk toward the staircase. "Harry needs his rest after everything that has happened. The last thing he needs is to be bothered."

"I know that! You protect Harry and help him at all costs, yet, you won't help me at all. I guess you can't be bothered. I guess I'm not your real friend! I suppose Harry is our King around here, eh? Serve and protect only him, right?" Neville said this rather loudly then he meant to, and he watched as Hermione's face flushed and she dropped his arm. Neville had no idea where his outburst had come from, but he regretted it immediately.

"Hey, I thought Weasley was our King!" Dean added with a wide smirk.

"Oh, shutup," Ron growled as he stood and marched over to Neville. He towered over the shorter boy as he stared at him, his red hair bright and his freckled cheeks red.

"Look, if you want to go into the bloody forest, fine, but there's no reason to yell at Hermione!"

"Ron---" Hermione tried to object, but it was useless.

"So, here's what we're going to do, Neville. You and I and Hermione are going to go galloping into the Forbidden Forest, find a bloody bowtie---"

"Bowtruckle," Hermione corrected.

"Right, Bowtruckle, and we're going to get the wand-wood and come back here and you'll get your new wand. Then, you're going to shutup about it so I can finish a chess match in peace. Got it?"

"Got it," Neville said sheepishly.

"Go get some woodlice from the Greenhouse and meet us at the forest's edge in an hour. Don't get caught," Ron added.

"Really?" Asked Neville in disbelief.

"Yeah."

Neville almost tripped over his own feet as he scurried out of the Common Room, his heart soaring as Ron and Hermione watched him run off.

"Ron?" Hermione stared at him, "Why the sudden change of heart? I thought you hated the forest..."

Ron's face got very serious, but then he could not hide his sloppy grin. "Well, what are friends for, eh?" He then sat back down for a game of chess. Hermione, surprised, could not finish her book. Instead, she simply stared at the back of Ron's head for no reason at all. Or at least, a reason she was not yet ready to admit.

.....1 Hour Later.....

The wind blew anxiously through the large trees as Hermione, Ron and Neville walked their way through the winding forest trails, which weren't really trails at all, more like beaten paths. They were dressed in their scarves and hats, as it was rather cold that evening. Ron was followed closely by Hermione, both with wands out, as Neville hurried to keep up with their quick pace.

"Be on the lookout for a tree that has moss growing from it, that looks like something might live in its branches..." Hermione told the boys as they avoided a large log growing from the ground. "At least, that's what I read in Fantastic Beasts and---"

Hermione was interrupted with a yell from Neville, who was pointing west of them towards a large tree surronded by thick shrubs. "That one! I bet it's that one!" He shouted anxiously.

"That was quick," Ron said as he turned and began to follow Neville.

They approached the huge tree that towered above the rest, so high, that they could barely make out the branches.

"Well, this tree does look like it would be a good hiding place, doesn't it?" Hermione said as she pulled her jacket closer to her neck.

"What do we do?" Ron asked.

"We have to make noise. Uh, disturb the tree," Hermione said, rolling her eyes.

"We have to beat up a tree?!" Ron asked, perplexed.

"Not hurt it or anything, just get the Bowtruckle's attention..." Neville said, as he handed the jar of woodlice to Ron. "Like this!" Neville shouted as he gave a loud whoop and thumped the side of the tree with his fist. Nothing happened.

"See, Hermione? This is what happens when we listen to Neville..."

But Ron did not finsih his remark. A second later he was rolling on the ground, pulling at his sleeve. Hermione immediately screamed as Ron gave a loud shriek, his wand falling limp at his side as he struggled with a large piece of wood that had fallen atop his arm. Neville, however, knew exactly what was attacking Ron

"It's a Bowtruckle! It worked!" Neville shouted with glee.

"G-get it off me! It's p-poking me!" Ron cried loudly.

"Stay still!" Hermione offered as she tried to knock the little piece of limber wood from his shoulder with her wand. But, Ron could not stay still for long and began rolling around on the ground, batting uselessly at the Bowtruckle, who was now jabbing Ron in the stomach with it's twig-like hand.

"Hold on, Ron!" Neville groaned.

Neville quickly remembered the woodlice, and raced for the jar of it that Ron had left upturned on the forest floor. He turned the lid and began to dump the little lice all over Ron and the Bowtruckle. Ron yelled even louder, and Neville remembered that lice were no different from the spiders Ron hated so much.

"Stay calm, Ron!" Hermione offered.

For a few moments the Bowtruckle did not notice the woodlice, and was getting closer and closer to jabbing its clawed twig hand into Ron's eyes. But, a second later the Bowtruckle was motionless, his beady brown eyes transfixed on the woodlice crawling around Ron's jacket. Silently, Neville reached toward the Bowtruckle, and began to peel away the soft bark from it's body, the Bowtruckle giving no sign of acknowledgement as Neville began to strip the little bugger bare of its skin. Hermione hurried to Ron's side, his eyes in awe and of fear all at once as Neville calmly pocketed the bark.

"D-Do you think that Professor Sprout would give us extra points i-if we brought back a real, live B-Bowtruckle?" Ron whispered with a shy grin.

Hermione suppressed a laugh and gently wiped the dirt from Ron's forhead. Strangely enough, Ron gave no objection to Hermione's touch. They both watched as Neville slowly picked up the Bowtruckle, who was now eating the woodlice, and placed it back on it's tree. Quick as a flash, the Bowtruckle clawed it's way back up the tree with a low hiss.

"Ahh!" Ron yelped as he quickly stood and shed his jacket, wipeing at his skin with his hand.

"Do you think they're off me? Merlin, I hope they don't lay eggs in my ears!" Ron said as he pulled at his hair, searcing for lice eggs.

"You're fine, Ron," Hermione said, smiling.

"I can't believe I got it!" Neville said as he proudly showed off the bark, which gleamed in the evening light, the sunset finally hiding away for the night.

"I'm glad you got it--- but WHY did you PUT THE BLOODY WOODLICE ON ME???" Yelled Ron as he picked the woodlice from his jacket.

"Sorry, but it was the only way to distract it," Neville admitted as he stared at the bark. "Thank you for helping me," Neville added with a smile.

Ron grinned and caught Hermione's eyes, who looked his way and then to Neville. "Well, what are friends for?"

With that statement the three friends gathered their wits and made the trek back to Hogwarts, Neville bravely leading the way.