Gone Grey

Lavender Brown is lacking entirely in color, under the Carrows. It's an unnatural side of her Seamus wishes he never had to know.

Strangely, when he comes back to the common room with cuts oozing blood, or weeping burns, or black eyes, he wishes she would flutter ineffectively, flap her hands like a girl and squeal about the mess. She doesn't anymore. He almost hates the feel of her hands on him when she's like that, when it's all efficiency, when she's surveying the damage done to him with this strange, absently concerned look veneered across her face—it's like being handled by a mediwitch, she's so detached.

He wishes she would fuss, lean over to kiss his cheek so he could breathe her rosy perfume more deeply. He wishes she would chatter in her quick, lovely English way about a litany of silly things produced seemingly from nowhere, brightly colored silk scarves from her sleeve, a light and airy chain of conversation in her bright, songbird voice. He wants her to flutter, to be girly and impractical and flighty and silly and lovely, but she's too weighted down, they're all too weighted down; it's hard enough to move when they need to, there isn't the room for hair tossing and passing notes written in glittering purple ink and that lovely rose-pink ribbon she used to wear in her hair and that he thought looked so perfectly lovely against her particular shade of brown.

She's just so quiet and washed out, and the only thing he sees in her eyes is worry, and she hides that away under her practical concerns. He hates it, wishes he could tease her just right, make her huff and pout and sniff over the nerve, wishes he could shoulder some of her burden. But he's carrying too much already, and his clumsy attempts to take some of her weight are brutally, practically rebuffed—she clutches her cross to her like it is some sort of prize, like it is pride and a diadem on her brow. Stone pride is her signature color now, and it is nowhere near as bright as Lavender.

"Hold still, Seamus Michael Finnegan," she says (he wishes she would shrill, scold, berate, just she only just says) patiently, bent over the gash in his forearm. He smiles sadly at the crown of her head, admiring the way her hair falls, the little line of snowy scalp white against the brown, and tries to hold still for her.

Lavender pauses. She looks up at him, her brow furrowed in light confusion and quiet humor; such pale, bland emotions. "That was easy, are you not feeling contrary today?"

"No," he says and, after a moment, as she puzzles over the ambiguity of his answer, he kisses her lightly on her lips. "Maybe," he amends.

She looks stunned, her cheeks blossoming pink. He loves the color so much, he wants to put his hand against her cheeks, just to feel the heat under the pink, just to be certain. She looks down, hiding the color. "You shouldn't tease me, Seamus, it's not nice."

"Is that all? No smack across the face? No snog? I figured for one or the other." It even sounds desperate to him; be color for me, please, Lavender… if you'll be color I'll see nothing but you in this world gone grey.

"You want me to slap you?" she cries, looking up aghast.

"I'd rather you kissed me, but I'd settle for that the slap, if that's all you've got in you."

She doesn't look aghast anymore, just…hurt. Deflated and faded and entirely without words. Seamus feels wretched—he wanted her to smile and flirt and maybe kiss him again, or to get indignant and just ever so offended. He wanted color in her cheeks, a chin turned up in feminine defiance and challenge. He wanted Lavender to sass him like she always had done, so they could get into one of their silly little rows that had little purpose but for exercising their voices, little purpose but to color their cheeks and bring Lavender's face so close to his he could almost kiss her, if he only had the nerve. Instead of high color and flirty banter, she just looks like she's about to cry grey tears; the very last thing he wants, something else to sap the color from the world.

"I'm just so tired, Seamus," she explains to him, slowly, painfully. "I'm worrying all the time; about myself, about you, about everyone out there, everyone in here. And it was all well and good to run myself down over ribbons and say unkind things I didn't mean to you when I knew you'd be back in through the portrait after supper. But I don't know that anymore." Her mouth snaps shut, grimly tight for a moment, before her bottom lip softens and she chews it slowly, not meeting his eyes. "And what if one of our stupid bits of bickering were the last thing we ever said to each other?" Seamus makes a soft, comforting noise but she cuts over him, cheeks still pink and her indigo eyes absolutely insistent as they meet his. "No! Don't tell me it can't happen! That sadistic—bastard," she stumbles over the swearword, pausing. She holds up her hands, the white bandages wrapped around her palms are so familiar now that Seamus doesn't quite cop on to what she's shaking in his face for a good few seconds. "Carrow nails my hands to the desk at least once a week. He tortures kids until they can't speak coherently. Don't fucking--" (this word comes smoother) "--tell me we're all right and nothing like that will happen, because I am not that stupid! If something were to happen to me, I don't want the last thing I said to you to be 'sod off, you bloody Irish scoundrel', no matter how much we both know I don't mean it."

"Then you had best say something nice to me, quick," Seamus teases her gently.

"Prat," she manages, tears leaking out of her red-rimmed eyes. His hands frame her face in a way that feels awkward, but that he saw in a romance film one of his muggle cousins made him go with her all the way to Galway to see. It looked romantic, and he wants to give Lavender any scraps of a fairy tale he can scrounge together.

"Well, less insulting, that's a start," he grins at her. She smiles and averts her eyes, looking so fair and sweet he pushes his hands back to sweep through her hair, mussing her demure curls.

"Can I—" Seamus pauses, licks his lips, because he is really about to ask this. "Can I kiss you again, Lavender?"

Her eyes dart, quick and momentary, back to his face, before the bit of smile he can see spreads a little further up her cheek and she says, "Only if you mean it." And, under her coy softness, there's a little spark, and maybe someday she'll toss her hair and lift her chin and denounce him as an 'ignorant, sheep-shearing farmer' again, so he can wonder if he should make her pretty pink mouth fall open by informing her of the cruder version of her insult…sheep-shearing indeed.

He laughs softly to himself (if you can do that when you're so close to someone else that the laugh is really a breath on her face) and kisses her softly.

She wears the rose-pink ribbon in her hair the next day and calls him impudent when he sneaks a kiss after breakfast. It's not nothing, especially as the backdrop goes grey.