D/C: I don't own Harry Potter.
Hello! I'm back with my forth, and final chapter! Thanks for the reviews you've sent last time – I'm glad you all liked it. But for now, I'll leave you to read, shall I? Enjoy!!
He blamed himself...Viktor felt as if this whole deal with Lavender was his fault from the very beginning. She had been doing fine...or so was apparent to him, until he had come and knocked off her mask. She had probably worked hard to hide her face from outsiders, and to have it exposed in front of him...whom she deemed a celebrity...it was probably very devastating for her. He had to find her. He wouldn't forgive himself if she hurt herself. It was his fault.
Running down the elegant streets of Paris, Viktor appeared like a total alien in his long black robes and ashen face. Parisians in Chanel and Givenchy were pulling back the leashes on their dogs, halting their conversations, and stopping to look at this dark-haired foreigner, and he could only guess what they might be thinking about him...but he didn't care. The only thing he cared about was finding Lavender. That was the only thought which filled his mind as he raced down the boutique-lined streets of the Champs-Elysees.
He knew she must be around here somewhere...she loved fashion, and this was the grandest street in Paris for fashion. He kept a look out for a strangely-dressed individual, a bowed head or a masquerade mask, but she was nowhere to be found. Once, he had grabbed the shoulder of a blonde girl who had been stooping a little, but then he realised she was just fishing in her bag for some item, and had to endure a series of French words from her which could only be swears and curses, which he could only respond to with a desperate, "Pardon! Pardon!"
He didn't register the time, and only realised that he must've been running around for a while now when his legs started to ache and the street lamps were lit up. He stopped to catch his breath by an iron-wrought fence, and collapsed on a nearby bench. He wished he had eaten, or even drank something before setting out on this "exploit", but he had been in such a terrible hurry to even think about food. He looked up, his gaze falling on the feet of the Eiffel Tower, which in his anxiety he had failed to notice. It was all lit up now, and looked like a huge shimmering pillar against the night's starry sky. He found himself wondering what it would be like to fly up to the top of the tower, and then come swirling down to the bottom...it would be too bloody awesome.
[iDamn Muggle regulations...[/i
He had been so distracted by the sight of the Tower, he had failed to notice the figure cloaked in blue velvet approaching. He failed to notice how hesitant the figure looked, how she seemed to want to run away from him at any given moment. He only really noticed when the figure came to a stop a few inches away from him. He slowly looked up and his eyes rested on the face that was mostly obscured by the shadows of its hood...but it didn't take a genius to figure out who that was.
"Miss Brown?" he said carefully.
The figure seemed to flinch momentarily at the mention of the name, before nodding in defeat. Viktor jumped up to his feet, and his hands involuntarily gripped her arms...as if trying to prevent her from disappearing all over again. She flinched again at his touch, and he could feel that she was rather tensed up.
"Miss Brown," he said yet again, releasing his grip. "Umm...Miss Patil vas vorried about you; she...she sent me to look for you."
Lavender seemed to shift ever so slightly. "She shouldn't have done that," she finally murmured.
Viktor's brow furrowed. "Vat are you talking about?" he demanded. "You left a note telling her that you vere going to kill yourself! You don't expect her to treat that as if it vere nothing, do you? For God's sake, you are her best friend, aren't you? She vas terrified for you!"
To his astonishment, however, Lavender released a shaky laugh. "Kill myself? Whatever gave Parvati that idea?" she wheezed. "Honestly, she can be such a drama queen sometimes..."
"Are you stupid?" he snapped; he was starting to loose his patience – he had been running around the whole day enough; he was tired, hungry, agitated and anxious beyond words. A laughing Lavender was not the image he had in mind. She immediately stopped laughing now. "Look here, Lavender, you can't just leave people farewell letters and expect them to be calm and collected about it! Miss Patil vas crying! She vas very upset! She cares about you, and all you can do is laugh about her?"
Lavender didn't say anything, and he wondered vaguely if she was taken speechless, or if she didn't have any sort of argument.
"Lavender," he said, more gently now. He reached out for her. "You can't just decide to end your life like that. Think about all the people vu vould miss you."
That, obviously, was the wrong thing to say; it seemed to flare Lavender's pent-up anger. She slapped his hand away and, in a move which he hadn't seen coming, pulled back her hood so that he know had full view of her manipulated face...it required Viktor a lot of strength to not look away. Lavender's once-beautiful face was completely undistinguishable; deep scars ran across one side of her face, while the other side bore the unmistakable look of leathery skin where the beast had torn at it. Even the girl's pretty blue eyes stared at him from amidst the disfigured features, sparkling with anguished tears.
"Who would miss this repulsiveness?" she cried. "If I die, no one will despair over my dead body. [iAu contraire[/i, they will try to bury me as quickly as they could, just so they wouldn't have to look at my face again!"
"No, that's not true..." Viktor murmured, but he knew he wasn't being honest.
"It is! You can't even bring yourself to look at me! I know you just want to turn around and run from me!" she said scathingly. "I know you probably wish you never even came looking for me! I'm hideous, Viktor! I can't even bring my old boyfriend to look at me! Parvati doesn't like looking at me, either! She always busies herself with something while she talks to me! I don't blame her, though...even my parents refuse to look me in the eye. I'm a monster."
"No, don't say that; you're not a monster. You know it doesn't matter how you look," Viktor said, and he doubted himself as he did – he'd always been such a materialistic individual; he really cared about looks. He liked whatever was beautiful, and shunned the ugly...the front image was very important to him. But there was something about Lavender...she was broken. He thought that at some time she must've been a very lively-spirited young lady, but unfortunate events had reduced her to a hiding, scared shadow of a girl. There was something so fragile...yet so strong about her.
"You don't mean that," she said, scowling. The tears were threatening to roll down her cheeks, but he could see that she was desperately trying to fight them back. "Don't think I don't know that looks are important to you...you went after Hermione!"
Viktor flinched. "I didn't like Her-my-knee just because of her looks!" he protested, and she raised her eyebrow at him...at least, that's what he thought she was doing; it was difficult to tell. "She vas a very nice girl, vu became friends viz me because she liked me, and not Viktor Krum, the international Quidditch player."
Lavender faltered a bit. "That doesn't mean anything," she snapped. "She's still pretty, isn't she? That's what attracted you to her!"
Viktor was feeling more weirded out by the second, because for some reason, this conversation was starting to sound like a petty lovers' quarrel to him, and it was strange...this was his and Lavender's first proper conversation, and all they seemed to be talking about is what interests the other...Viktor didn't know about Lavender, but he was pretty sure that this wasn't how people got to know each other. He didn't mind, though...he found it slightly refreshing.
"Lavender..." he started again, trying to begin a rational conversation with a girl who might whip out a dagger and stab herself any moment now, for all he knew. "Let's just go back to Miss Patil, alright? I'm sure she'll be delighted to see you."
"Don't give me that crap!" she shot at him. "Parvati's well off being rid of me! Just...go. Tell her I'm not coming back. I'm not going to kill myself...I had changed my mind upon arriving here...actually, I never even had the guts to take my life away."
"I just said that so she'd never come to look for me!" Lavender cut him off. "I thought...I thought that if I told her I'm going to kill myself, then she'd forget about me, and won't even think about coming after me..." She broke off and smiled weakly at him. "...obviously, I was wrong."
"Go! I know you can't stand looking at me anymore! So just turn and go! I won't begrudge you for that! Go on, Viktor...just leave," she pleaded.
The next thing was just a blur of utmost confusion. He didn't know what made him do it, but Viktor had suddenly grabbed Lavender's arm and pulled her towards him. She had barely reacted when his lips had fell on hers, and he was pressing his lips to hers in a gentle kiss. Lavender's eyes widened in shock, and she struggled to push him away. Viktor wasn't a gentleman in the perfect sense, but he knew when a girl needed her space, and he released her from his arms. Lavender stepped away from him, hand covering her mouth.
"Why'd you do that?" she said hoarsely.
"Vas it bad?"
"No...I mean, yes! I mean..." Lavender's voice trailed off for a moment, and she looked warily at him. "...weren't you [idisgusted[/i?"
Viktor blinked. "Vy should I be?" he demanded, and she gave him a perplexed look. "Ven I vas kissing you, the only thing I had in mind was that I vas kissing a very fiery young lady...that's all I was thinking about. I don't care about the vay you look, Lavender...good looks meant the vorld to me some time earlier, but strangely, they didn't matter ven it came to you."
Lavender seemed to blush then, and she averted her eyes from him. "Thank you," she said in a voice that was a little louder than a whisper.
Viktor then held out a hand for her, and she gingerly took it. "Miss Brown, I'm afraid I made you make your own dress robes," he told her, and she blinked in confusion. "But I hope you'll forgive my uncouth act ven I ask you to ver it and be my companion to the opening of the Quidditch Tournament tomorrow. I vill appreciate it if you say yes."
He wasn't lying. He really had wanted to invite her to the tournament as a way of apology...this night had nothing to do with this decision. Lavender looked dubiously at him, and he tried his best not to give off any impression that might turn her off...so he was very relieved when her face relaxed into a smile, and Viktor was awed at how beautiful her smile looked amidst all the scars.
"Yes, I'd love to come."
A/N: Sooo? Did you like it? Was it too dramatic or unrealistic? I just think things could happen when you're caught in the spur of the moment, am I right? This is really my final chapter, but if you think there should be an epilogue, please tell me and I'll consider writing it. Until then, thanks to all those who read and reviewed this chapter, disregarding the weirdness of this pairing! (smiles) Thank you so much!!
- S. N. B.