Who: Neville Longbottom, Blaise Zabini
Where: Three Broomsticks, Hogsmeade
Summary: Neville Longbottom and Blaise Zabini discuss Blaise joining the Army
Watch for: Lost dreams
Winter was coming. Blaise could feel it in the highland wind that began cutting at his robes the instant he appeared in the alley beside the Three Broomsticks. Even if he'd still had his broomstick -- his arm and ribs had knitted, not so the wood and twigs smashed by the same club -- he was glad he didn't have to attempt flight in it. He was a capable flyer, but not especially strong or skilled.
Shifting his shoulders, he made sure the sword strapped across his back was secure and comfortable, hilt available through a slit in his cloak. He didn't often carry it there -- didn't often carry it at all, truth be told -- but these were special circumstances. He was seeking a position as a sort of condotierre and, when his had been the hiring, he had more than once arranged impromptu 'tests' for applicants. It wasn't something he expected of a Gryffindor, let alone Neville Longbottom, but the War had honed edges on some very improbable people.
You're stalling, prodded the little voice at the back of his head, putting off swallowing your pride and going cap in hand to a Gryffindor. He began moving toward the street. He could argue back that he didn't need the job, he could survive on his Ministry pay. But, while he wouldn't starve for food, he would starve in other ways.
I want this, Blaise thought, surprised -- and dismayed -- by the strength of the desire. He shouldn't, couldn't, allow himself to care this much.
But he did.