What? Talk, about bravery. And Neville angsts a little bit.
When? Um. Today?
Anthony had been given rather a lot of some unidentifiable but nice-tasting potion, which he suspected was to stop him a) sitting up or b) asking for a mirror. The right-hand side of his face was hot and itchy where he'd been hexed, and his head ached whenever he lifted it from the pillow. His fever having abated (brought on by typing - the knee-top had been confiscated as soon as Mme Pomfrey noticed it), he was lying looking at the ceiling, feeling idiotic, embarassed and lonely.
There were quite a few justifiable reasons as to why Neville was nervous about visiting the bedridden Anthony, ranging from the fact that he was still blaming himself for the fact that Anthony and everyone else got injured in the first place, to the rumours that were going around about his being in love with Anthony [not that he minded for his own sake so much as he did for Anthony’s and he’d rather learned his lesson about it being unwise to upset Anthony’s boyfriends, hadn’t he?]. Well, and then there was that - he rather had the memory of the last time he’d gone to visit Anthony-in-hospital permanently imprinted on his brain. It had been interesting, in a way that made him feel positively sick if he thought on it too much; he tried to compensate by not thinking about it at all. It seemed safest.
He reached up and touched his nose – it had been broken by some hex or another; they’d fixed it in hospital but it still seemed a bit crooked. Touching the new bend in his nose seemed to be a new nervous habit of his, apparently. He shifted the rather pathetic bouquet of tulips into his other hand, used his free hand to knock on the doorframe – just in case, he didn’t want to walk in on anything this time, doing that once was more than enough – peeked into the room and said “Anthony?” in a small nervous voice.
"Hm?" Anthony turned his head quickly, thought better of it and winced. "Oh. Hi, Nev......wait, NEV! Are you OK? I'm so glad you're alright, nobody would tell me what happened. Sit -" he waved a bandaged hand towards the chair next to his bed.
Neville flinched, a bit. “I brought you flowers…they’re pathetic, though, but is it the thought that counts?” he wondered rhetorically before abandoning the bouquet as a splash of green and wilting yellow on the bedside table. “I’m…I’m fine. Stupid. I don’t want to talk about it,” he sighed, collapsed into the offered chair, touched his nose again.
Anthony squinted. "Is something wrong with your nose? It looks okay, but you keep touching it... you'd probably best put the flowers in water..." Anthony trailed off, yawning again.
“Do you think it’s crooked? It feels crooked…it got broken. It hurt.” That was an understatement, really; for one very long moment Neville was entirely convinced that it wasn’t just his nose but also his brain and that he was moments away from dying. You think absurd things when you’re about to die, and Neville almost said that, but stopped himself at the last minute, because that was hardly appropriate hospital chatter. “They’re wilting anyway…I wanted to find you something nice, but my gardenia’s not blooming yet, and tulips are depressing. I brought them anyway. How are you feeling?”
The Ravenclaw gave him a crooked smile. "It looks fine, but ouch, must have really caned at the time.... I'm alright. Feel like an idiot, itchy sore and disgruntled, but at least I'm awake. And my sister's okay. You should see the babies!"
“It feels crooked,” Neville said, again, and try as he might he couldn’t keep from smiling at the mention of babies. Hm. Maybe it was hereditary. “I’m sure they’re adorable. I love babies, and…and…I’m really really glad she’s okay. My parents are too, well, as okay as they ever are.”
"I'm glad," Anthony said honestly. "......you missed quite a, er, day, did anyone tell you that? The Slytherins - well, not all of them, Blaise and Adrian were pretty decent - came after the DA."
Neville flinched, again. “I wish I’d been there, not that I’d have been any use, not that I was any use where I was, not that…” and there it was, his feeling sick again.
Struggling to sit up, Anthony lifted himself on an elbow and peered at the Gryffindor. "...Nev? What's wrong?" Taking a breath, he decided to risk it. "What happened at St Mungos?”
Neville sighed, curled in on himself, hid his face in his hands. “It’s…I don’t want to talk about it, I thought I could…I don’t know, I wanted to make things all-right, but of course I couldn’t and it was trouble and everyone had to come save us and I put everyone’s lives in danger and it’s all my fault for being so stupid and people almost died and I was okay and I don’t deserve to be okay, not for being so stupid.” His voice was muffled and very soft.
Anthony considered the logic of this. Honest as he was, he couldn't deny that it was compelling. He sighed, then offered "....Harry Potter does stupid things all the time, haven't you noticed? S'because he's a hero, or something." He tried to give the other boy a comforting smile. "Call it bravery? You're not in his House for nothing, you know."
At the sound of Anthony’s voice, Neville looked up, and managed a small smile. “Being brave doesn’t suit me…when Harry does it, it’s brave. When I do it, it’s stupid. It’s the story of my life.”
His head was starting to ache from the effort, but Anthony tried to follow this through. "So, Harry coming after you. Was that brave, or stupid?"
The other boy paused to consider this. “It’s…both, I mean, he’d have been better off just…making the Aurors come? Or something.” He didn’t sound very convinced.
"So, you're no worse than him. And you... you had a reason to go after your parents. Harry just... seems to get off on saving people. I don't know why. S'noble and... although I suppose that's what the DA's for, savin' people..." He was starting to get groggy again, eyelids drooping.
“I don’t like being brave,” Neville confessed, softly. “If that’s what I was even doing. It doesn’t make me feel good; it makes me feel sick. And I’ve never seen Gran so upset in my whole life.” He paused, looked over at Anthony. “Of course that’s what the DA’s for, and you’re good at being brave, at least.” There was something mildly adoring, there.
Anthony returned the smile, though his eyes were half closed. "....being brave is a good thing, right? Even more noble if doing it makes you feel ill. If you got off on it, if y'enjoyed it, wouldn't be so brave, right....?"
“I don’t think it’s a good thing. I don’t…I don’t know. I’ll have to add that to the list of very important things I have to figure out. And…you’re falling asleep,” Neville pointed out, un-necessarily.
Anthony didn't answer. He snored, however, once or twice and very softly.
“You are,” Neville said, softly. “Which means that I should…go and let you sleep, although it’s a lot easier to talk to people and tell them important things when they don’t talk back. You know? Like Mum and Dad, although I’m really really glad that most of the time you do talk back and that you’re not like Mum and Dad, really. And I’m glad that you’re all right, and I wish…”
But whatever it was that Neville wished was not to be known, because that was about the point where it felt silly to be sitting there just talking to Anthony sleeping, especially when anyone could be listening, especially when he didn’t really want to see or be seen by anyone.