Of Tears, Bathrooms and Chivalry

Damsel in distress

Lavender doesn't run, because to run is to draw attention to yourself, which is the last thing anyone wants to do these days. But she walks fast. She needs to hide for a few minutes, somewhere safe and quiet where she will cry and rage at the injustice of a regime that lands a thirteen-year-old girl in the hospital wing simply for saying out loud that she misses her Muggle-born best friend. She will cry at the memory of Megan's screams and the cuts on her arms and legs, at how quiet she was as Lavender and Susan carried her to the hospital wing, and then she will put on her brave face and go out into the corridor, into the school, and do her part again.

They all do it. Hide away when it gets too much. They all do it, but they do not admit it. And they all pretend not to see when a comrade arrives in class or in a dormitory or at the meal table with reddened eyes and set lips. Carrying on is part of the only opposition they can offer.

Lavender bangs the door behind her and is hardly aware of the bare walls, the peeling paint, the flickering lamp. Nor of the puddles on the floor, until a voice demands, half-petulant, half-gleeful, "And what are you crying for?" and a new surge of water runs across the floor towards her and the silver form of Moaning Myrtle floats out of a toilet cubicle to hover in front of her, an inquisitive look on her face.

Lavender mutters, "Mind your own business," through her tears, but knows that it is no use. Myrtle is not one to care that someone else is unhappy; it seems to cheer her up to have someone as miserable as she is herself.

"Has someone been mean to you?" Myrtle asks with relish. "Do tell. I know all about mean people."

Lavender gulps and turns away, trying to ignore the ghost, but it is no use. Myrtle swoops around and is in front of her again before she even realises it. Lavender hides her face in her hands, but cannot blot out the awareness that Myrtle is watching her, revelling in her tears.

"Beat it, Myrtle!" The voice is strong, harsh, masculine. Lavender jumps and Myrtle hisses in surprise.

"A boy!" she moans peevishly. "Boys aren't allowed in here."

"I said beat it!" the voice repeats and Myrtle gives up the fight and disappears into the nearest toilet with a loud splash.

Lavender turns and feels strong arms around her, and buries her face in Seamus' robes, crying harder than ever.

Eventually she calms down enough to gasp, "How – how did you find me."

"Detective work," he says, and she can hear the smile in his voice, even though her face is still hidden in his chest. "Susan told Ernie about Megan, and Ernie told Hannah, and Hannah told Neville and Neville told me. And I knew you'd've come this way, and I knew you didn't have enough gumption to avoid Myrtle when you were upset, so here I am. Seamus to the rescue!"

Lavender gives a very shaky laugh at that and pulls back from him, punching him lightly on the shoulder. "You are an idiot, Seamus Finnigan," she says.

He grins, the effect only slightly marred by the fresh cut on his cheek. "I know. That's why you love me, isn't it?"

"Who says I love you?" Lavender demands. She is recovering rapidly now, and crosses the bathroom to splash her face with cold water, regard her reflection critically in the mirror and smooth her hair.

Seamus puts on a mock tragic expression, which is belied by the twinkle in his eyes. "Ah, and there was me thinking that rescuing the damsel in distress would earn me her love forever!" he says. "The fickleness of women! Come on, Lav, we'll miss breakfast if you don't get a move on." He crosses the damp floor in two strides and grabs her hand. "'Tis meself that is starvin'," he says, making his accent so thick as to be almost incomprehensible.

Despite herself, Lavender is laughing as she lets him pull her towards the door. And despite herself, she reaches up and kisses him on his cut cheek. "I love you, Seamus Finnigan," she says, and they are both smiling as they go out into the corridor to face the world again.