AUTHOR'S NOTE: I know this isn't the most popular ship out there, but this idea started niggling the back of my mind and I figured, what the hell. So, let's see if I can make this work. Oh, also, I don't own Harry Potter.
"How would you like to spend some time with me at Ron's home over Christmas holiday?"
Parvati Patil had been delighted when Harry Potter asked her that question. It meant their relationship was getting more serious.
And therein lay the problem.
She stayed out of the cacophony of conversations surrounding the dinner table at the Burrow. Parvati just ate her meal quietly, observing the people at the table. Specifically, Ron Weasley and his sister Ginny. All the stories she'd heard over the years flooded her mind. The Sorcerer's Stone, the Chamber of Secrets, the rebirth of You-Know-Who, the fight at the Ministry. There were probably aurors who hadn't been in as many dangerous situations as Harry and his friends over the past six years.
And what have I done during that time?
She had joined Dumbledore's Army. That had been a risk.
But getting detention is a lot different than getting killed by You-Know-Who.
"You okay, Parvati? You're being rather quiet."
Harry patted her arm. Parvati's chest constricted at his touch. She turned to him, momentarily mesmerized by his beautiful green eyes.
"I'm fine. It's just . . . Mrs. Weasley's stew is so delicious."
Parvati hoped that sounded convincing. Apparently is did, as Harry smiled and went back to his supper.
She took another bite of her stew, glancing at Harry. The worry swelled within her. Again she thought of all his life and death adventures, none of which she'd be a part of.
"The Chosen One." That's what everyone called Harry nowadays. Fated to confront You-Know-Who, and hopefully defeat him once and for all. She thought of the whispered conversations she caught walking through the corridors of Hogwarts. Groups of girls staring and pointing at her.
"There's goes Parvati Patil. Harry Potter's girlfriend. She's going out with The Chosen One."
Yes, she was going out with The Chosen One. But when she reflected on what Harry and his friends had done for the Wizarding World, then thought of everything she'd done in her sixteen years of life, one question popped into her head.
Was she worthy of being Harry Potter's girlfriend?
Parvati lay in her bed, staring through the darkness at the ceiling. She wanted to go to sleep, but every time she closed her eyes the worrisome question resonated in her head.
Am I worthy?
She folded her hands over her chest. Sighing, she turned her head and looked at the bed across from hers where Ginny slept quietly. Parvati bit her lip. Ginny had been with Harry at the Ministry, and from all reports gave a hell of an accounting of herself against those Death Eaters.
Could I have done the same? She'd like to think so. She was a Gryffindor, after all. All that time in the D.A. had improved her skills in Defense Against the Dark Arts. She and her twin sister Padma even practiced over the summer to get better.
But Ginny was a fighter. She'd proven herself to be tougher than any girl, and most boys, in Gryffindor. No one would every say that about Parvati. She and her best friend Lavender Brown were the pretty ones, the ones whom all the boys chased after.
Well, Harry Potter turned out to be the one boy who caught her. Actually, she couldn't even say that. Truth be told, they sort of stumbled into this relationship.
Parvati shook her head. How many witches would give their right arm to be in her place? How gobsmacked would they be if they knew of her doubts at being Harry's girlfriend?
This is useless.
Parvati threw off her blankets and swung her legs over the edge of the bed. She put on her slippers and robe and tip-toed out of the bedroom, careful not to wake Ginny. She made her way down the corkscrew stairs into the darkened living room, where she plopped down in a worn cushioned chair. Parvati stared ahead at nothing in particular.
I have to stop thinking this way. Harry obviously wants me to be part of his life. Otherwise we wouldn't be together, would we?
But how much of his life did Harry want her to be in? In the two months since they started going out, she sensed Harry kept a lot of things to himself. She wished . . .
"Parvati, dear. What are you doing up?"
She gasped and turned to the staircase. Mrs. Weasley had stopped halfway down the steps, staring at her.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Mrs. Weasley. I just couldn't sleep."
"Oh, quiet all right. I was having trouble falling asleep myself." Mrs. Weasley came down the rest of the way and settled into the couch near Parvati. "I thought I'd come down and do a spot of reading."
The plump red-headed woman held up a dog-eared novel featuring an incredibly handsome wizard and a blond witch who put Fleur Delacour to shame. Parvati gazed at the title. TO STIR THE CAULDRON OF LOVE BY ESTER WHITMAN.
"Merlin's Beard, you read Ester Whitman romance novels, too? I love those."
"Really?" Mrs. Weasley beamed at her. "Well, you certainly have good taste, dear. Shows Harry knew what he was doing when he asked you out."
"Yeah. He did." Parvati turned away from Mrs. Weasley and gazed at the floor.
"Something the matter?"
"Well, I . . . I don't know. It's nothing."
Mrs. Weasley canted her head. "You and Harry aren't having problems, are you?"
"No, no. Everything's fine."
Parvati drew a deep breath. Everything was not fine, not in her mind. But did she really want to lay out all her stupid worries to Mrs. Weasley? She barely knew the woman. How could she explain her fears to her when she hadn't breathed a single word of them to her parents or Padma or Lavender?
"Right then. Into the kitchen with you."
"I'm sorry?" Parvati shot Mrs. Weasley a quizzical look.
"I have seven children, eight if you want to count Harry. I can tell when people say 'everything's fine' and don't mean it. Come on. Into the kitchen. We'll talk about it over some cocoa."
Parvati's fingernails dug into the armrests. She didn't want to move, didn't want to tell this woman her secrets. Mrs. Weasley said it herself. She thought of Harry as one of her children. If Parvati brought up all her worries, would Mrs. Weasley think she was unworthy to date her surrogate son?
But Mrs. Weasley just smiled wide at her and stretched out her hand. Parvati sighed and took it. Mrs. Weasley helped her out of the chair and led her into the kitchen. Ron's mum made two steaming mugs of hot cocoa, complete with whipped crème and marshmallows, just how Parvati liked it. Mrs. Weasley took the seat across from her.
"Now, dear. Tell me what's on your mind?"
Parvati's muscles loosened. Mrs. Weasley didn't sound demanding, like her own mother usually did. Her tone sounded warm, like she truly wanted to help.
Parvati rubbed the handle of her mug with her thumb and index finger. "Did Harry tell you how we got together?"
"Well, I do know you two went to the Yule Ball together, and Ron went with your sister. I understand things didn't go very well."
"No, they didn't."
"So . . ." Mrs. Weasley sipped her cocoa. "How did you manage to get together after that?"
Parvati smiled as she remembered. "Back in September, we had this project to do for Charms. Professor Flitwick assigned us partners, and I wound up with Harry. I was a little uncomfortable at first, thinking back to the Yule Ball. But when we started working together we actually rather enjoyed it. Then one day Harry apologized for how he treated me at the Yule Ball. We started talking and next thing you know, Madam Pince is yelling at us for snogging in the library."
The veins on Parvati's neck stood out. She really, really wished she hadn't said that to Harry's surrogate mum.
But Mrs. Weasley just chuckled. "Oh, Parvati. Would you believe Arthur and I had a similar experience when we were at Hogwarts?"
Parvati responded with a half-smile, trying not to imagine Ron's parents doing the same thing she and Harry did at the Hogwarts library. She took a sip of her cocoa before talking.
"It's just . . . things were going great. And when he asked me to visit him here over Christmas holiday, it was like him telling me I was becoming an important part of his life. Then I started thinking about all the things he's done with Ron and Hermione and Ginny, what he has to do with You-Know-Who . . ."
Parvati slumped in her chair. "What can I offer him? How can I help him with that part of his life?"
Mrs. Weasley gave her a sympathetic smile. "Parvati, you help him already. You're making him happy."
"But isn't a relationship more than just making the other person feel happy?"
"Yes, it is. Very perceptive of you."
Parvati closed her eyes for a second. "You know what the rumors are at Hogwarts? That I'm going out with Harry just because he's famous. That I'm doing it to be the envy of every girl at school. I'll admit, there was part of me at the beginning that was thrilled to be the girlfriend of 'The Chosen One.' But the more time I spent around Harry, I realized he was just . . . Harry. He's just a guy. A great guy. A really sweet guy. A guy who doesn't get wrapped up in all his fame. A guy . . . a guy who's treated me nicer than any boy I've ever been with."
Mrs. Weasley rested her cheek in her hand and smiled. "Yes, Harry is wonderful. And I'm glad he's made you so happy."
"But going back to what you said. Relationships are more than just making the other person happy. I mean, when things get hard you have to be there for the other person. Harry's gone through so much, and I can't even imagine what lies ahead for him. I want to be the one he comes to when times get tough. I want to help him get through all this, but how can I do that when I don't know the first thing about fighting someone like You-Know-Who?"
Mrs. Weasley folded her hands and studied them for a few moments. She drew a breath and looked at Parvati. "Tell me something, dear. Do you care about Harry?"
"Yes. Yes I do."
"Well then, there you have it."
Parvati waited for Mrs. Weasley to say something else . . . and waited. But the other woman just smiled at her.
"Isn't that enough?"
Parvati frowned and turned away.
"Look, Parvati." Mrs. Weasley reached across the table and took her hand. "I was right where you are during the first war. I was young, not married for long, and lost several members of my family. There were so many times I didn't know what to do, what to say, how to comfort the rest of my family. But somehow, I did. If you care about someone, all you have to do is look into your heart, and you'll find the right words."
Parvati nodded, wondering if she could ever find the right words to help Harry.
Breakfast turned out to be as talkative an affair as dinner. All the while Parvati's stomach twisted in knots. She did her best to force down her food. She didn't want to offend Mrs. Weasley after going through so much effort to make breakfast. Plus, as with dinner, it was delicious and Parvati felt it would be a crime to let it go to waste.
"Hey, Parvati," Ginny said. "We're going to have a pick up game of Quidditch later. Wanna join in?"
"Um, sure." The corners of her mouth twitched. She should have known better than to agree to that. She'd never been the best on a broom, nevermind using one for Quidditch. But she had other matters in her mind, and her heart, more important than considering whether or not she should play some stupid game.
Once breakfast was over, Parvati rose from her seat. "Harry, would you like to go for a little walk?"
"Sure." He got up, took Parvati's hand and headed for the door.
"Don't go wandering too far."
"Yes, Mrs. Weasley." Harry nodded.
"And don't do anything we wouldn't do." Fred grinned at them.
"Not that there isn't much we wouldn't do," George chimed in.
Parvati felt herself blush as the twins snickered.
Mrs. Weasley smacked both of them on the arm. "You two leave them be!" She then turned to Parvati and gave her a supportive smile.
Parvati nodded as Harry led her out the door. They strolled along the dirt path, still covered with patches of snow.
"You sure everything's all right, Parvati?" A concerned look spread across Harry's face as they passed Mr. Weasley's shed. "You haven't been very talkative since you got here."
"I'm sorry, Harry. It's just . . ." Parvati sighed. "We need to talk."
Harry came to a halt. Parvati stopped as well and turned to face him.
"Wh-What's wrong?" he asked.
Parvati inhaled deeply and stiffened her spine. She clutched both of Harry's hands and stared into his eyes. "Harry, I really like being with you. I . . . I can't remember when I've been happier. But . . . when you asked me here to the Burrow, I knew things were getting serious between us and . . . Harry, if I'm going to be part of your life, I don't want you shutting me out."
"What do you mean 'shut you out?' I'd never -"
"You do, Harry. Be it intentional or unintentional. Look, I can't imagine the burden you're bearing having to take on You-Know-Who. And I know you're involved with a lot of the strange stuff going on at school. Your potions book, worrying about whatever it is Malfoy's up to, and poor Katie. You have a lot going on and . . . I want to be the one you come to when things get too difficult."
Harry looked away from her for several seconds. "Thanks, Parvati. But I can handle all this."
"Right." Anger lines etched into her smooth, tan features. She let go of Harry's hands. "How can I help the heroic Harry Potter? After all, I've never fought basilisks or Death Eaters."
"No, it's not like that."
"Then what is it like? Harry, I'm your girlfriend. This is what I'm supposed to do. No, this is what I want to do. Be there for you when you need me."
"I don't want . . . I don't want you involved in that part of my life."
A hot angry breath shot out Parvati's nose. "I think you asking me here means you want me involved in your life. In every part of your life."
"No, you can't."
"Why not?" Parvati threw her arms out to her sides.
"Because . . ." Harry chewed on his lower lip. His shoulders rose and fell with determined breaths. "Too many people I've known, that I've cared for, have wound up hurt or killed when they get involved with that part of my life. My parents, Cedric Diggory . . . Sirius. Ginny and Mr. Weasley almost died because of it. Ron and Hermione could have died I don't know how many times over the past six years. I don't want any of that happening to you. I just want you to be safe."
"Safe? Have you been reading the Prophet the last few months? Witches and wizards being murdered, attacks on Muggles, oh yes, and of course the wizard that's behind it all, You-Know-Who. Who is safe in this country these days? Whether I was your girlfriend or not, I'd still be in danger, just like everyone else. Like it or not, we're in this together."
Harry hung his head. Parvati examined his face, trying to gauge his thoughts.
Shoulders slumped, Harry finally looked her in the eye. "You're right. I guess this is everyone's fight now, not just mine."
"Well that's the smartest thing you've said today." Parvati gave him a wry grin.
Harry smiled back and took hold of her right hand. "You sure you want to be a part of all this?"
"If I didn't, I wouldn't be standing here right now with you."
Harry's face brightened. His eyes blazed a shade of green Parvati had never seen before.
"Thank you, Parvati." He took her by the shoulders. Her heart hammered away as Harry drew her toward him.
They kissed, long, passionately. She had to take a deep breath to refill her lungs when their lips parted. Then Harry drew her into an embrace. Parvati wrapped her arms around him and rested her head on his shoulder. She had no idea where all that had come from. Such deep observations usually came from Padma. She was the smarter of the two, after all.
Then Parvati remembered Mrs. Weasley's words about looking into her heart to find the right words.
She had done just that.
Parvati moaned with content as Harry's lips pressed against the side of her head.
Something flooded her soul. A confidence she'd never known before. A confidence that she had what it took to help Harry through whatever darkness lay ahead.
- THE END –
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hope you enjoyed another attempt by a guy to write this kind of love story. As I like to say, to grow as a writer, sometimes you have to write outside the genre you're most comfortable with. For me, that's writing stories where lots of things get blown up.