Who: Penelope Clearwater, Neville Longbottom
Where: DA barracks
Summary: Penelope goes to Neville in search of a job, and finds one.
The two recruits on guard duty at the front gate came to the captain's office. "Captain Longbottom, sir," she said, "you've got a visitor, name of Penelope Clearwater..."
Neville blinked- he hadn't heard that name in a while. "Er. All right," he said. "Er-show her in, would you?"
The witch nodded and trotted back to the barracks gate. "Right this way, Miss Clearwater..."
Penelope followed her, glad that her unannounced visit didn't seem to be a problem. When they finally made it to the captain's office, she smiled broadly at a face she hadn't seen in years. "Neville Longbottom!" she cried immediately, without much thought. "Why, you're all... grownup!" She immediately realized how silly and condescending that sounded, and added soberly, "Sorry about that, Captain."
To her credit, the witch who'd brought Penelope in didn't snicker. Neville turned a bit red nonetheless. "Ah- yes," he said, rising from his chair. "no, it's all right- I get that a lot. Mostly from my relations, but-" He hesitated. "Sit, won't you?"
She nodded, and had a seat, crossing her legs in front of her and looking up at him. "You do remember me, don't you?" she asked first, realizing that it had been a while, after all.
He thought for a moment, then nodded. "You were in Ravenclaw," he said. "My... first year, I think. Possibly my second- I don't know about that, though. Prefect, right?"
"I graduated your third," Penelope corrected. She had a surprisingly good memory, and often had to remind herself that others did not. "And yes, I was. I suppose I remember you because you were friends with Ron and I was dating his brother, but..." She waved a hand dismissively. "No matter. And now - " Her eyes darted around the office. "Well, it appears you've found your cause." She smiled.
Neville had to smile a bit. "I suppose I have, at that," he said. "Oh- mind your head..." He held up one hand, and a good-sized crow dropped down from the ceiling and landed on his wrist. "Sorry. That's Siegfried."
Slightly startled, she regarded the crow for a moment . "He likes you," she said, as if this were an assessmentof the animal's character. "So I guess you're wondering why I'm here, hmm? I don't suppose Bill mentioned me?"
Neville passed the crow a small treat; it croaked and hopped to the floor with it. "I. . . he might've," he admitted, "but if he did it slipped my mind- I'm very sorry. Yes, I'm afraid I am wondering why you're here."
"Oh, no problem at all," Penelope said quickly. "Well, you see, I ran into Bill the other day and he brought me up to date on things. I've been... away for a while. But I told him that I'm a psychologist, and he seemed to think that I may be of some use to you."
It took Neville a moment to parse the word. "Psychologist?" he said. "What, the Muggle's mentalists?"
"Oh!" She laughed lightly. "I'm sorry, I've been hanging around with Muggles so long, I tend to blur the lines sometimes and forget who knows what..." She took a short breath. "Yes, that's pretty much right. I study the human mind - what makes people tick, you might say. Though I suppose my specialty in particular is making sure that they keep ticking along nicely, and finding out what's wrong when they don't."
"That sounds interesting," Neville admitted, leaning forward a little. "And you do this without magic? How does that, er... how does that work?"
"Well," she began, her eyes lighting up as it always did when she spoke of her field, "There are lots of different things really, but largely it involves getting the person to realize themselves what they're thinking, which can be very difficult. It's a lot of talking really. Of course, sometimes there are deeper problems - chemical imbalances, if you will, that can sometimes be cured by special types of potions, and sometimes not. I mean, I try to avoid the stereotype of people lying on couches while I sit and scribble into a notebook, but really that's all there is to it sometimes. It's called therapy." She said all of this rather quickly.
Neville blinked a bit, but nodded. The first part, at least, made sense. This bit about couches rang no bells with him, so it seemed wisest to say nothing in response. Instead, he said, "You're good at it, I assume? I mean- you were- you know, Ravenclaw, and this is- this sounds like it's about thinking, and that's what Ravenclaws do..."
She nodded. "I am, I mean, i>think</i> I am, good at it. I attended a Muggle university, and my professors said that I had an almost unnatural knack for getting to the root of a person's problem. I always wondered whether it had something to do with magic..." She shrugged. "There's no telling, really. But ever since I came back to the wizarding world I've been working in the Spell Damage ward at St. Mungo's, and I feel that I'm not really being of much help... I'm afraid that damage by magic isn't really my specialty."
At the mention of the ward, Neville winced fractionally. "That kind of damage is hard for anyone," he murmured, hoping to cover it up. "Especially if you have to talk to someone. I mean..." He hesitated again, then sighed; she obviously already knew about his parents, if she'd been working there. "So you want to do this. . . psychology... here, then?"
His wince triggerd something in her, and she suddenly realized what it was that had been bothering her ever since she'd seen him. The familiarity - oh god, the two of the patients in the ward were his parents. She'd never seen their chart, because she'd never been assigned to them herself, only knew their first names. But now a memory was coming to the surface - one of the nurses making a comment about "their wonderful son, he's in that army now, you know." Oh, some great psychologist she was, to completely miss a delicate subject.
She decided the best thing to do would be to graze over it for now, as it was obviously a sore subject. "Yes," she said quickly, "That's the idea. If you think you have any use for it."
Neville exhaled in relief; she'd let it slide. GOod. "Well, I-" He thought for a few moments. "We do have some recruits here who can't seem to adjust... the training exercises are giving them nightmares of what might happen if the real thing came to pass..."
Penelope nodded. "I can only imagine... and also, the people who have already been through it..." She sighed, long and deep. "I can't believe I just missed it all, Neville. In a way, I'm grateful, but I also feel - I don't know, guilty." A side effect of her profession, she tended to voice her emotions as soon as she had them, provided they weren't too personal and didn't affect the person on the receiving end.
"Missed wha- oh." Neville blinked. "You mean you weren't here for the War?"
She shook her head. "Not a bloody lick of it. And I only had a vague idea of what was going on... my parents found out about my subscription to The Daily Prophet and said it undermined our 'agreement' that I would live outside of the wizarding world for a while. So I went to school, married an idiot Muggle, and went on my way completely oblivious that my world was being torn apart while I was away." She almost got choked up at this.
Reflexively, Neville leaned forward to pat her hand. "I'm sorry to hear that," he said. "The not knowing, I mean. Not the married part. Um." His ears turned an interesting shade of pink.
She smiled. "No, trust me, the marrying part was just as bad." She held up a naked hand. "Luckily, easily remedied. And as for the other part... well, you can see why I'm somewhat eager to help in any way I can."
Neville nodded, glancing briefly at Penelope's hand before looking back to her. "Yes, I suppose I can," he said. "Well- you can definitely make a difference with some of these new recruits, that's for certain, and I imagine there'll be more as we go along..."
Her eyes lit up. "So... so does that mean I have a job? I mean, I wasn't sure if you think I'd be of enough use so that I could quit my job at St. Mungo's."
"Yes. Yes, I think- yes, you do." He smiled; it faded to sobriety. "It's quiet now, but it won't be quiet forever. I imagine we'll need people like you then."
She was torn between her own feeling of sobriety at the importance of the task and a desire to jump over his desk and give him a hug, so happy that she was actually going to be useful. In the end, she offered a warm smile. "Well, thank you - Captain Longbottom. And if things are too quiet for a while, I'm quite good at brewing coffee."
Neville laughed. "All right," he said. "We'll keep that in mind. Want a tour of the premises?"
"Sure thing, boss," she said with a grin, standing and letting him lead her out of the office.