Pairing: Millicent Bulstrode/Neville Longbottom
Word Count: 1089
Summary: Neville's words have gotten under her skin, and now Millicent is reconsidering her outlook.
Author's Notes: Thanks to phil_urich for the beta and helping me clean this up.
'And what do you think will happen to you when they're finished with us?' he had asked her earlier in the year. The Inquisitorial Squad had been reformed and she had been on patrol when she spotted Neville Longbottom lurking around in the lower levels. Following him, she cornered him just outside the kitchens. With her wand had been poised she inexplicably found herself holding her cast. After a brief back and forth, he had posed that question to her.
She had been avoiding answering since. She wanted to believe that because she had been loyal to Slytherin for all these years it would amount to something in this so call New Order they were trying to create; but deep down she knew he was right. Once they were done with those that openly opposed them, what would happen to those in their own ranks? The Death Eaters have no issue with sacrificing their own. Right now they're just going after full Muggleborns, but what if that changes and they decide to go after Half-Bloods too? How far back does one have to go to be safe? If at all?
Look at the Malfoys; they were a part of the Dark Lord's inner circle and now... how much longer until I've outlived my usefulness?
As the rest of her Slytherin classmates followed Filch through the passage that lead from Hogwarts to the Hog's Head Inn, Millicent paused at the entrance and glanced back at the way they had come. She still did not know why she had not fired at Neville; it was the expected thing to do, but his words had made her open her eyes a little and she had not liked what she saw.
There was so much corruption and misuse of power and position; the Carrows were torturing their students more than teaching them anything. She was not absolved of anything, being a part of the Inquisitorial Squad. Even before then, I wasn't above bullying people for what I want... What I want? Hardly, it was what Pansy wanted most of the time. I was just the muscle for her. Were any of us really friends?
As the younger students began filing past her and into the entrance, she remembered another chance encounter with Longbottom later in the year. She had found him trying to sneak some of the younger students through the upper levels. 'There's more to you than just brawn; you're like me, an outsider looking in. We were just lucky enough to be asked to sit at the table. But now is our chance to fight for something. There's a lot more to you than just beating people up. There's a lot of bad, but there's some good too.'
She grumbled a little as replayed his words in her head. Why am I letting him get under my skin? Let them fight their own battles and die. I'm not going to fight against odds like this.
As Neville and his little resistance movement got stronger, Millicent remembered how the others reacted. The Carrows and the other Death Eater professor began punishing them, the Inquisitorial Squad, for the failures in keeping the order. As if they had done any better.
Touching her chest, she could vividly recall the feeling of Alecto Carrow's curse ripping through her. She had not dared showed any pain, but it had hurt like nothing she had ever experienced. But what was perhaps more unsettling was the way Alecto had looked at her and the way she had called her Half-Blood. I wonder if even being a Full-Blood is good enough for them.
As the castle rocked from an explosion nearby and the screams of fear echoed from the tunnel, Millicent swore under her breath as she felt a hand touch her arm. Turning, she saw Professor Slughorn leaning back out of the tunnel. "You're the last," he said, studying her. "No one would say anything if you left; it'd be the smart thing to do."
Looking away for a moment, she wondered what she should do. Another explosion rocked the castle and Millicent sighed. "Professor, I've never been very smart," she said dryly.
Professor Slughorn smiled at her. "Merlin watch over you."
Millicent simply nodded before turning and charging off the way they had come. Best place to start is the Great Hall.
She did not find him in the hall, but overheard that he had gone with Seamus and they were planning on blowing up the footbridge. Quickly racing over, she was just in time to see the great light show as the castle's outer defenses fell. As she made it to the Hogwarts edge of the bridge she was knocked back by the force of the explosion and she saw the middle of the footbridge collapse downward.
As the dust slowly settled she saw a hand struggling to pull them self up.
"Neville!" she heard the youngest Wesley cry out as she, along with a small group of other students, rushed forward.
Without thinking, she ran through them and falling to her knees, grabbed Neville's wrist. With a strong tug, Millicent pulled him up on to the remaining piece of the bridge.
"Millicent?" Neville asked in surprise, and then quickly looked up. "No, it's alright."
Glancing over her shoulder, she saw the group in various states of drawing their wands. Millicent quickly stood up, prepared to defend herself, but Neville got up and stepped between them.
"She's with us now, right?"
When Neville looked back at her, she pondered just what the hell she was doing. But the look he gave her unnerved her. Simply nodding, she watched as Neville got the others to put away their wands and fall back to the castle.
As they walked together, step in step, Neville looked up at her curiously. "Why did you come back?"
"Been asking myself the same thing," she muttered and Neville laughed. "You're very annoying, you know that? I've risked my neck how many times because of you and why?"
"Be careful, you almost sound like you care," Neville teased.
Millicent snorted in mock disgust. "I break little boys like you in half."
With a cheeky grin, "Look around you," he told her as they reached the castle. "Could be worse ways to go."
Rolling her eyes, "You Gryffindors always were suicidal."
"Let me ask you," he started as he reached out with an open hand. "Are you with us?"
"Salazar help me," she said taking his hand. "If we make it out of this alive, you're going to owe me and I always collect."