Looking back, Harry could claim that neither the love potion nor the poisoned mead were the most unexpected event of that cursed day. All he really wanted to do after Madam Pomfrey had thrown him out of the hospital wing was to track down Malfoy. Harry wanted to apply the lesson Bellatrix Lestrange had taught him in the Ministry and show the inbred bastard why he should have dealt with him first rather than going after Ron and Katie. He knew that he had to mean it, but after seeing his best friend convulsing on the floor, almost taking his last breath, he would mean it. After all, he knew who was to blame. First for Katie, and now Ron.
Unlike after Sirius died, this time Harry had time to process what had happened. He had seen Ron grasping his throat as his face turned blue and then black as the poison spread through his blood, the scene replaying again and again in his mind. His hate wasn't an explosion of rage but rather a flame which burned fiercely. He knew that this time, he would be able to perform the Cruciatus flawlessly and take delight from seeing Malfoy wither on the floor as Ron had. The sun was already approaching the mountains outside, but the blonde bastard would pay before the day was over.
However, before he had left the second floor and could avenge the unsuccessful assassination attempt, he heard muffled sobbing from a classroom down the corridor. At first, Harry intended to just ignore it, but he had to get past the noise to get to the staircase.
Halfway down the corridor, he could make out that the crying person was a girl and by the time he had reached the door, Harry could no longer pretend that it didn't bother him. Yet it wasn't until he peeked into the room that he realised there was really only one person who would be crying two corners from the hospital wing.
This was not the first time he had seen Lavender cry, far from it, but there was a certain misery to her sobbing which was new and made something inside of him twist and clench. She wasn't supposed to be like this.
Lavender was the quintessence of happiness, quick to smile, laugh, chuckle, giggle and snicker. Her cheerfulness had become sort of background noise in the common room and the Great Hall, especially once she started going out with Ron and Harry noticed her more often.
Seeing her curled up alone in a small classroom, her arms around her shins and her makeup smeared across her puffy eyes and red cheeks - he might not know her very well, but she had been in the DA the previous year and he could not remember a single time when she had been mean to him. He ought to do something, the sooner the better. He owed her that much. After all, he could always send Malfoy to the permanent spell damage ward later.
"Are you ok? Wait, stupid question - " Harry trailed off before he could his foot into his mouth even more. Yet Lavender threw him a watery smile.
"If you've come to apologise for your friend and ask me to reconsider, save yourself the words. If he cannot be bothered to do his own grovelling - "
"I don't think that Ron will be going anywhere for a while. Nor do I think that he will come back on his knees after Pomfrey lets him go."
"So he doesn't even care. I should have expected that much after he ignored me in the hospital wing, but - "
"I don't think that Ron was in the right state to think, let alone think clearly," Harry objected, trying to defend his friend even if it meant omitting that Ron had wanted to get out of their relationship since Christmas. After all, he had already put his foot in his mouth twice so he owed him some damage control.
"Oh, he was well enough to recognise Hermione, wasn't he? You saw how happy he was to see her? How his eyes lit up and - " Lavender sniffled. "He didn't even look at me, he didn't care. Did he ever care?"
"Look Lavender," Harry evaded. He really didn't want to bollock things up for Ron even further. "If you're questioning that, then what you have with Ron isn't going to work out. I think - well - I think you want more out of the relationship than he ever did."
Unfortunately, Harry's evasion had the opposite of his desired effect, and it set Lavender off again.
"Then why did he-" she began, tears starting to appear on her cheeks as her voice hitched. "Why did he start it? Did he just want to hurt me?" Harry could hear the despair in her voice and it pained him to listen to it.
"No, no, of course not," Harry defended his friend, "Ron's not like that, he wouldn't do that on purpose. He may be a little - insensitive - at times, but he's not malicious. I think he just got a little caught up in the moment after winning that game and there was no way he could tell how you two - "
"Winning the - Do you mean - " Lavender trailed off, her face an ugly scowl as she thought through what Harry had said and came to the same conclusion. "But that was more than four months ago!"
"Well, if you put it this way - " he trailed off, dragging a hand through his hair. This was not the conclusion he had wanted her to reach. This whole conversation was not going how it was supposed to.
"So our entire relationship has been nothing to him? Nothing but a lie?"
"I think that's a question you need to ask Ron - "
"Why do you think that I would ever want to talk to him again after - "
Lavender started with dripping venom but her voice cracked and then the dam broke. And just like the last time he had been face-to-face with a crying girl, Harry didn't have a bloody clue on what to do. At least this time, her ex wasn't dead and she wasn't about to kiss him.
Hesitantly, he put a hand on Lavender's shoulder, but apparently, that was all it took. Faster than Harry could blink, she had latched onto his arm and practically burrowed herself in the crook of his neck. Soon enough, her tears were running down his skin, feeling burning hot and ice cold at the same time. At first, Harry was slightly annoyed because he had places to be and Death Eaters to take care of, but the longer he stood there being hugged by and trying to comfort Lavender, the less he could focus on introducing Malfoy to all kinds of nasty curses. He couldn't even remember which one was annotated for enemies in his potions book.
Now, Harry was the first to admit that he was shy around girls, but he wasn't blind. At 5'5", Lavender was simply too short to radiate the kind of cool, flawless beauty Fleur oozed. Or the sheer strength Angelina personified with muscles bigger than his own. But the way Lavender's wavy blonde hair fell down her face, the little baby fat which was still left there, the pale blue eyes below delicate eyebrows and her warm smile made her look impossibly cute.
And since she had spent a lot of time with Ron, he had seen a lot more of her this year than the 5 before. Which had led to thoughts no one was supposed to have about their friend's girlfriend, and only Ron's dismissal of her made him feel less guilty. Those thoughts, previous banished to a dark corner of his mind, now returned in full force. And they chose the worst possible moment to do so. She needed support right now, not someone thinking about copping a feel or how she would look like naked.
"This is nice," Lavender mumbled after a few minutes, her voice firm but quiet. She was no longer crying but showed no intention of even loosening her hold of him, nevermind letting go completely. Her only movement was leaning into his touch, wanting as much contact with the hand rubbing circles into her back.
Harry felt awful, but having Lavender tightly wrapped around him caused all kinds of thoughts not appropriate for the situation, or his best friend's ex-girlfriend. But he was also quite sure that no one could have stopped those thoughts in his position. Not with her soft hair brushing against his cheek, her fruity scent in his nose and her breath tickling his neck, which made shivers run across his back and left shoulder. He could also feel the warmth radiating from her, and the way her breasts were squeezed against his chest was even more distracting than the tingles on his shoulder blade.
"Glad that I could be of service," Harry managed to get out past the knot in his throat, his voice little more than a croak.
"No really, you didn't have to," Lavender insisted and brushed a strand of her hair from her face. Before Harry could process the odd feeling of loss, her arm snaked itself around him again. "It was the stupid names, wasn't it? And the necklace, and the attention, and the way I - "
"Stop - Lavender! Won-Won wasn't great, but do you have any idea how envious I was of Ron whenever I saw you two together?"
"Really?" she asked with narrowed eyes, her voice dripping disbelief.
"You remember how awfully my relationship with Cho ended, right? And I can't claim that things had worked out for me since then in that regard, either. Since then, before that, during - But then I saw you with Ron, saw how open you were with your affection - There was no need for guessing how you felt or what you were thinking. The way you openly showed so much affection - I hope to find someone like you eventually. At least as long as she won't call me Har-Har."
"That would be silly," Lavender admitted with a small smile. "But you really would want someone like me as your girlfriend?"
"And what about me?" she wanted to know, her voice barely above a whisper.
They both fell silent as their eyes locked, a brief look became a long stare. Time seemingly stood still and Harry did not dare to blink as there suddenly was a heavy tension between them. He still had an arm around her back and there were only a few inches between their faces. Perhaps if he did not feel her warmth all over his body, Harry might have come up with a rational reply, but most of mind was focused on how nice she felt against his chest, how their legs brushed against each other, how her fruity scent was suddenly the only thing he could smell.
His heart hammered like a marching drum as he took in every detail of her pale, blue eyes, which in the dim light looked almost grey. How her delicate eyebrows were slightly narrowed, how the tip of her nose curved upwards just a tiny bit, how she came closer -
His thoughts were cut off when he felt her lips on his. Lavender seemed in no mood to waste time because almost immediately, she slipped one hand down to knead his ass while the other snaked itself up around the back of his neck to pull him closer to her.
Harry was stunned and the blissful blankness of his mind did not help, but eventually, he managed to string a few thoughts together and kiss back with equal vigour. But even with a semblance of rationality restored, he did not dare to move his own hands anywhere other than her back.
Lavender on the other hand seemingly tried to map every inch of him. She also did her best to ensure that his hair could never be straightened out again, although given the tingles her nails caused on his scalp, he didn't mind at all.
Harry quickly found out that his skin was a lot more sensitive than he would have expected as Lavender first trailed kisses along his jaw and then down his neck, leaving tingles in her wake. And although he would never publicly admit it, the whimper which escaped him when she planted a hickey on his throat was less than manly.
Absentmindedly, Harry noted that it was now pitch black outside as night had fallen outside. A torch near the door was the only source of light. Judging by the thick layer of dust and the cobwebs, it had been years since that classroom had seen a living soul.
And while he had grown bolder as time flew by, this was still the first time he had gotten far enough to cop a feel. Lavender, however, was completely unaware of the inner battle he had waged to build up the necessary courage and her only response was to lean into his touch. This led to an awkward angle for his wrist, but once he had dared to go this far, Harry wasn't about to let a little discomfort stop his exploration.
Eventually, Lavender moved things along when she pushed Harry back against a table and jumped into his arms, leaving him no other choice but to put his hands on her bottom. Taking it as permission, Harry finally did what he had not dared before.
Surprised, she broke the kiss and for a moment, Harry was worried that he had overstepped some kind of boundary, but her musical laugh quickly convinced him otherwise.
Seeing this as a cue to move ahead, Harry pulled her tightly against himself in a desperate search for more contact, more friction and groped what he was already cupping. From there on, her deep moans only added more oil to the fire.
Panting heavily, Lavender pulled back the fraction of an inch, looking up to him with a dangerous glint in her eyes. She was still close enough that he could feel the heaving of her chest, the movement of her lips against his.
"I want you, Harry."
Had he been able to think straight, Harry might have come up with a long list of logical reasons why that was a bad idea. And indeed a small voice valiantly tried to remind him that this, until a few hours ago, had been Ron's girlfriend and that his best friend might not even have noticed that he had been dumped.
However, since he had spent the past hour making out with one of the most gorgeous witches he knew and his previous experience was limited to a few disastrous rendezvous with Cho and many lonely nights thinking about everyone from Ginny to Hermione and going as far as Pansy Parkinson, all he managed to choke out was, "We really shouldn't - "
"Well - isn't this a bit fast?"
"Harry, my last relationship lasted four months and apparently, we did not know each other at all."
"Ron said that you didn't talk much - " he blurted out when a memory flashed by, barely able to shut up the next sentence.
"We did talk - but it wasn't deep conversation. Just about our days and such, which was a nice change from all the doom and gloom since his return. Your friend was, well an anchor, but I had hoped that over time we would develop a more meaningful connection."
With some concern, Harry noted that Ron and Voldemort got the same amount of disdain. And that she made equally sure not to say either of their names. But before he could think further on the matter, Lavender continued in a husky whisper.
"I mean it, I want you, Harry."
The first time had already stunned him, but her purring voice now did things to his imagination and self-control he would not have thought possible. He could throw off Voldemort's Imperius curse, yet did not find the strength to deny her, or maybe the will. He shivered and barely managed to find an excuse while a significant part of him wanted to just say screw it all and screw Lavender.
"Do you really want your first time to be in some dusty classroom - "
Harry was cut off by Lavender's derisive huff.
"This won't be my first time or even my hundredth."
"But I thought - "
"Oh your friend never got this far, but I had a boyfriend for most of our fifth year, and even with Umbridge at her worst, it was not difficult to find a secluded spot." She paused a moment to tap her chin. "Perhaps it should have been a clue that I never felt comfortable to do this with your friend."
"But you are comfortable enough with me?"
"Oh, I was very comfortable with you just a minute ago," Lavender pointed out and pulled Harry into another kiss to prove her point. "You have done this before, right?"
"Well - "
"Oh - Oooohhhh, now I understand. Of course, you wouldn't want your first time to be in such a place - "
"To be honest, I never thought about the location. It just feels like I'm taking advantage of you and - "
He was cut off by another unladylike snort followed by another lingering kiss on his lips. "Oh, you are not taking advantage of me. I know very well what I am doing right now. But perhaps I can convince you without words."
For a moment, Harry was alarmed when Lavender drew her wand but immediately relaxed when he remembered that this was his pink-loving classmate, not a disguised Death Eater. The day certainly had taken a toll on his nerves.
"You were right, this room won't do at all."
He relaxed even further when she started to alter the room and lost herself in decorations, seemingly having forgotten her previous train of thought. Seeing Lavender slowly change the room was closer to how he knew her, with fluffy pillows and warm colours which turned the abandoned chamber into a mixture of how he imagined her room looked like and the Gryffindor common room.
It wasn't until colourful candles were magically lit that it dawned on Harry that perhaps she had not forgotten what she had been thinking about. In his aroused stupor, he dimly registered that they were vanilla-scented when Lavender reached behind herself and, in a motion so smooth that it had to be practised, pulled off her jumper.
Harry tried to say anything, but his voice failed him completely, his eyes glued to the simple red bra now on display. Before he could recover from the shock, Lavender had already stepped out of her trousers and revealed that her knickers matched the top.
When she noticed his reaction, a satisfied grin appeared on her face, which then became wider. Slowly, Lavender spun left while maintaining eye contact.
"Like what you see?"
"I - wow - you - " was all Harry managed to get out as his eyes roamed every inch of her pale skin. At that moment, Voldemort himself could have barged into the room snogging Dumbledore, and he would not have been able to look away from the blonde in front of him. Instead, his eyes were glued to her fingers as she slipped them under the waistband and pulled the last scrap of fabric from herself.
Harry stood there stiff as a board, unable to move more than what was necessary to breathe, and even this proved to be difficult. He had never understood the concept of breathtaking until that very moment. His heart was hammering as if he had just narrowly escaped death, his throat dry and tight as if he hadn't drunk anything in days. Yet he did not dare as much as to blink in the fear of missing something. Lavender dangled the red lace in front of him as if he was a matador before she tossed it on top of her other clothes.
This wasn't the first time he had seen a naked girl, but he quickly realised that there was a huge difference between catching a quick glance of Angelina when she had forgotten her towel after a Quidditch practice and Lavender shamelessly standing less than a foot from him with gleaming blue eyes and a wicked smile which had already burned itself into his memory.
"I - I don't know - what to do," Harry croaked and got a high laugh as response.
"Aren't you adorable," Lavender cooed with a dazzling smile. She then stepped forwards and pushed Harry backwards, his calves hitting a bed frame which he had not even noticed being there. Without hesitation, she followed him and sat on his lap, her nose close enough that he could count the faint freckles he had never noticed before.
Harry could feel the warmth of her body through his own robes, which suddenly felt even more uncomfortable than before. With practically nowhere else to put his hands, he slowly lowered them onto Lavender's back, something which earned him another grin before she did her best to burrow herself into him. Their lips met while Lavender tried to tug off his robe without letting go of him. Quicker than he thought possible, it was gone and she snuggled against his now bare chest. Meanwhile, Harry marvelled once more how soft her skin felt, especially against his own.
Again he hesitated, they had been snogging before, but the lack of clothes made the whole situation feel very different. There was no mistaking where this journey would end, only when, and Harry was torn between savouring the moment with all its new sensations and getting there quicker. He felt hot, and not just from the heat Lavender seemed to radiate. He wanted - needed - more. This was really happening.
Given that his boxers were the only piece of clothing he had left, Lavender's next question could not have been more ridiculous.
"You are a bit overdressed, don't you think?"