Written for the DADA Assignment at Hogwarts: Write about someone reliving their most painful memory over and over. This is possibly very crappy, but I was in the mood for angst and one of my favorite HP femslash pairings.

Word count: 958

and way down we go

Sometimes, when Parvati's hands caress Lavender's back, Lavender can't stand the softness of it. Sometimes, when Parvati kisses her, all Lavender can taste is blood, all she can feel is pain.

Sometimes, her mind plays tricks on her until she's back, back to that day, trapped in a failing body that won't stop bleeding, hat won't stop hurting, and she doesn't know how to make it stop.

Sometimes, she's with Parvati—with the woman she loves—but all she can see is the monster who scarred her, who nearly killed her, and all she can feel is that monster's breath on her neck, telling her that she smells and tastes oh so sweet.

Sometimes she cries when she means to laugh, and sometimes she takes showers that are so hot her skin burns before she switches the water to freezing cold, just to feel alive again, just to feel something—anything, really.

"I love you, you know," Parvati says every time she finds her withdrawn on herself. "More than anything in this world," she whispers as she coaxes the broken shell of the girl she loves back together, and sometimes Lavender wishes she wouldn't bother, that she'd just leave.

Parvati never does, and Lavender is always so, so stupidly grateful for that.

(sometimes, Lavender can bring herself to say it back: these moments are her favorites. They taste sweet and warm, like stolen slices of happiness part of her thinks she doesn't deserve, and Lavender wishes for nothing more than to be able to live in the amber of these moments, to trap to perfection of the woman she loves and who loves her back in return in her mind like insects in golden amber so she can relive them whenever life gets bleak)

Parvati is the very best thing that ever happened to her, and Lavender is ruining it—ruining her—but, Merlin, she can't stop. She'll take everything Parvati has to offer to try and fill the chasm in her chest, and it won't work because Lavender isn't something to be fixed, she's not broken, she's just… Something. Lost, maybe. The memories haunt her and she relives them every day even though it is killing her, but she can't let go of them. She just can't.

She's covered in scars and they're ugly, jagged and too pale against her skin, and whenever she smiles it pulls at the new skin just a little for her to remember that she's no longer who she was, that she can never get that girl back.

"I love you," Parvati says, and Lavender drinks it from her lips like it's honey or poison, and she doesn't even care because it tastes sweet and like Parvati and like the days where they were still so young and fumbling in the dark, hushing their own laughter so no one else could hear.

"I love you," Parvati says, and when she traces the scars on Lavender's back, sometimes Lavender can look past the blood she thinks she can still feel dripping down her skin and think that maybe (just maybe), she's somewhat worthy of Parvati's worship.

"I love you," Parvati says, and it's the light that drags her out of her nightmares, that pulls her shaking, damp body out of the freezing depths of her memories and into the golden warmth of the present, and it's never enough except for the fact that it's everything, because sometimes, when Lavender's lucky, Parvati's voice can even chase out the shadows that live at the corner of Lavender's eyes.

The nightmares don't stop—she still relives that night (oh Merlin, sometimes when she wakes she can still feel the cold stone of the castle against her skin and the slowly fading warmth of her own life as it escapes her veins)—but sometimes, she wakes before the end.

Sometimes, Parvati saves her even in her dreams, saying, "I won't let anyone hurt you," and Lavender wants to say, "Too late," but even she's not that cruel.

Instead she says, "Thank you," because that too is true: she's always grateful for Parvati, who always helps and never asks for anything in return but what Lavender would give anyway.

("You deserve better," Lavender voices once, her voice still shaky from screaming herself awake.

Parvati looks at her for what feels like forever. Here in the darkness of their bed, there is no one to judge them, and Parvati looks softer than she ever does to the outside world.

It used to fill Lavender with so much joy, to know that she got to see this side of Parvati when no one else did, but now it makes her feel greedy, like a thief keeping one of the world's great wonders all to themselves.

Something of this must show on her face because Parvati's dark eyes soften impossibly more, and she trails a finger down Lavender's face ever so gently. This time, the shiver isn't from fear.

"Hey," Parvati whispers, "I decide what I deserve, okay?"

And if she were a better person—maybe if she were old-Lavender, the one who didn't almost die under the claws of a monster and is still trying to learn to live with that—maybe she'd be able to say no able to convey how wrong it is for this angel to tie herself down to a woman whose ghosts follow her wherever she goes.

"I love you," Parvati says, and when she kisses Lavender it tastes like tears and hope, like the things you can't quite grasp but own anyway.

"I love you too," Lavender manages through her choked up throat, and for once when she looks in Parvati's eyes, Parvati is the one who looks back.)