For Malaleen, for being as crazy about Neville and Susan as I am. Written for the Anniversary Challenge at The Ink Pen
I knew when I agreed to marry Neville Longbottom that I wasn't getting one of those suave, sophisticated men who knew exactly what to say and what to do, and who never, under any circumstances, made a fool of themselves (or their girlfriends/fiancees/wives). I also knew that he was sweet and kind and gentle, and that he was absolute rubbish when it came to gift-giving. It's a by-product of being raised by his battle-axe of a grandmother, I suppose.
In any case, I love him to distraction, and I reckoned that I could live with the (very minor) fault that he never, ever, in all the time we went out and he courted me, ever managed to suss out what I wanted for a gift. Not even my grand hints of leaving catalogues--with items of interest circled--laying around the flat or having Hannah tell him, "Oh, Susan's been wanting one of those for ages," worked.
Still... A girl likes to get nice things from the man she marries from time to time. I, of course, am no exception.
When our first anniversary was approaching, I waited in nervous anticipation over what he was going to do. And I wondered...and wondered, and never heard even a word from him. I thought he'd forgotten.
So you can imagine how, about two weeks before our anniversary, I was relieved to learn that Neville had at least been thinking about a gift.
"So, Susan, I hear you have an anniversary coming up," Hermione said. She, Ginny, and I, along with some of the other female members of the old DA, made it a habit to meet weekly after Voldemort's final defeat--just for some much needed 'girl time'.
"Really?" I asked. "Where did you hear that?"
"Oh, Neville was over asking Ron for help with your gift. Don't worry," she said, laughing at my expression--my fear about Ron's advice must have been showing--"I took Neville aside and undid any damage Ron might have done."
A few weeks later, I arrived at the pub for our night out, and as soon as I saw her, I rushed up to Hermione and demanded, "What in Helga's name did you tell Neville when you were helping him with my anniversary gift? Because I'm having a hard time believing you'd do this on purpose. If you did do it on purpose, you must not like me very much."
She looked at me blankly. "What did he do?"
"I came home to find him in the parlour, trying to put up wallpaper. Did you notice the emphasis on 'trying,' Hermione?" I asked. She nodded and pressed her lips together, like she was struggling to keep from smiling.
"First of all, the wallpaper is...hideous. I shuddered at the memory. “It's just awful. The pattern is nothing like I would have picked out, had I the chance. And his seams didn't match, and he was covered in paste, and there was water everywhere." Hermione giggled a bit as she imagined the scene
"But that's not all," I continued. "Oh, no. In addition to a parlour with ugly wallpaper, I get a poem. Do you know what it said? Do you?"
At the shake of her head, I pulled a crumpled piece of paper--not parchment, but plain, Muggle-style paper--out of my pocket and began to read, "Roses are red, Violets are blue. I sure enjoy snogging with you."
And Hermione, naturally, burst into fits of laughter at that, so much so that Ginny had to help her off the floor.
When she finally calmed down enough so that you could actually understand her, she informed me that her advice to Neville was a list of traditional anniversary gifts, based on which anniversary it was.
Apparently, the gift for the first anniversary is paper.
At least he tried.
By the time our second anniversary rolled around, I was hoping that he had enough experience to think of a gift on his own. Indeed, Hermione and Ginny both informed me that Neville had not asked either of them for advice this time.
Unfortunately, he talked to Ron and Harry instead. Even more unfortunate, Neville still had the list of traditional gifts.
Can I just say that Neville plus Harry plus Ron plus "cotton" does not a good combination make?
Apparently, Harry and Ron thought that lingerie was a great anniversary gift. They told Neville, sweet, innocent boy that he is, that if he still wanted to follow the list, he should get me cotton lingerie. They didn't bother to give my poor, innocent Neville a description of what type of cotton lingerie one gives to one's wife.
It looked like something his grandmother would wear. Remember her? The battle-axe? Yeah. It was long and flowing and had a high collar and lace and too many buttons and basically covered me from my chin to my toes. Not sexy at all.
Damn Hermione and her list.
Year three brought with it a utilitarian gift. I actually use it almost every day. But...it's not romantic in the least. I mean, what witch wants a leather wand-holster for her anniversary, for Merlin's sake? Not this one, that's for certain.
I can think of lots more interesting things to do with leath-- Um. Nevermind.
Which brings us around to this year. The twelfth of September, 2004, our fourth anniversary.
I have to admit that I'd given up on him. I mean, we were three for three, with rubbish gifts being the clear winner.
I just realised that I probably sound ungrateful, and that's not my intention. Not at all. I said before that I love Neville to distraction, and it's the truth. Honestly, he gives me so much in the areas that really matter that I shouldn't complain. We have a lovely home (if you ignore the parlour, that is), and it's filled with love and laughter, and, believe it or not, romance.
Anyway, back to our anniversary.
The twelfth of September fell on a Sunday this year, so for once I didn't have to go into work on our anniversary. I decided to have a bit of a lie-in instead, and by the time I woke up, Neville was long gone, off to who knows where. I actually took this as a positive sign--perhaps he was working on my gift. So I spent the day just doing things I enjoy. I read a trashy romance novel and took a long bubble bath and just generally relaxed. It was lovely.
When it was almost dinnertime and I still hadn't seen Neville, I decided to get dressed up and go and see what he had planned. I'd picked a blue dress that brought out the highlights in my hair and made my eyes look even bluer than they are. I wanted to knock him dead--it was our anniversary after all.
I walked down the stairs and found Neville waiting for me at the bottom, looking very--extremely--handsome. Took my breath away when I saw him, truthfully. But apparently it was mutual, because he stared at me for a few minutes before he reached out to take my hand and lead me through the house. When we reached the door to the back garden, he paused for a moment to look at me before opening the door and leading me outside.
I had to stop when I saw what he had done. It was... Well, it was beautiful, but that just doesn't seem to cover it.
He'd transformed our back garden, which had been beautiful before, into a virtual paradise of flowers and greenery. Blossoms of every colour hung from trees and peeked out through the hedges. Over in the corner, there was a small stand of apple and cherry trees. He told me that they'd been charmed to always bear fruit.
Then he led me to a small table set across from the fruit trees and pulled out my chair before taking his own seat across from me. He wiped his hands on his trousers--a sure sign he was nervous, and one of his more endearing traits--cleared his throat, and smiled shyly.
"Susan," he said, "I know that I've not always been the best at gifts, but, well, this year I tried really hard to find something you'd like." He leaned over the table to take my hand. "Do you know what the traditional gift for the fourth anniversary is?"
"Neville, did you look at that list again?" I asked him. "Because, no offence, but..."
He grinned at me. "Not the best choices on my part, were they? In my own defence, some of those weren't my ideas." When I started to protest, he held his finger over my lips to silence me.
"Flowers and fruit," he said, gesturing at the lush garden surrounding us, then leaned down to pick something up from beneath the table. "And I have these for you as well." He handed over a vase of the most gorgeous roses I'd ever seen. They were cream-coloured with dark red tips, and they smelled divine.
"This is where I've been for the past few weeks," he said. "I call them Susan's Smile."
"You--are these a variety you discovered?" I was shocked...and touched by the amount of thought and work he put into this gift, and I traced my finger along the edge of one of the blooms.
"Do you like them?"
"Oh, Neville," I breathed. "These are...perfect." I leaned across the table to kiss him. "Thank you."
We came up for air several minutes later. That's probably all the detail you need to guess how the rest of the evening went. Suffice it to say that a good time was had by all.
Rolling over in the bed to snuggle with my wonderful, loving, incredible husband, I couldn't resist one last comment before we drifted off to sleep that night.
"Neville?" I whispered.
"I can't wait to see what you come up with for our fifth anniversary."
A/N: Copious thanks go to Takon65, for helping with Neville's gifts. The granny-gown is all his fault. And, as always, many, many hugs and kisses to OHGinnyfan for getting the super-quick beta. *smooches them both*