Of Tears, Bathrooms and Chivalry

Knight in shining armour

It is four years to the day since Voldemort was defeated. There are no formal remembrance ceremonies now; only the two minutes silence at midday at the Ministry, at Gringotts, at Hogwarts, in Diagon Alley, at St. Mungo's – anywhere where wizards and witches congregate. It is a time for rebuilding and looking forward, not back. But it is a day when many still go to the school, to remember, and Seamus and Lavender are among them.

They walk slowly up the long drive. Lavender has discarded her cane at last, but she still limps, and the distance from the gates seems far longer than it did when she was a pupil here. Seamus matches his pace to hers uncomplainingly; he is used to it.

They see Fleur Weasley near the front door, her baby in her arms, watching Victoire and Teddy running and tumbling together on the lawn. Victoire is wearing a red cape like some Muggle superhero, and Teddy has fairy wings. Fleur is laughing at the pair of them, snuggling the tiny girl she is carrying close to her. Life goes on.

Lavender and Seamus smile at her as they pass, and she smiles back, but they do not say anything. It is not a day for chit-chat.

In the Entrance Hall, they hang back, waiting their turn to approach the plaque where the names of the dead are written. The floor in front of it is littered with flowers, cards and candles already. The large group in front of the plaque – mostly redheads – falls back to make way for the Patil twins. Lavender sees Parvati reach out her hand and take George Weasley's briefly, saying something to him as he leaves with his family.

The Patils are followed by a group of mixed Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs, and then it is Lavender and Seamus' turn. Lavender bends stiffly to lay her bouquet of roses with the other flowers on the floor, and Seamus traces some of the names on the plaque with his finger… Colin, Fred, Susan, Terry, Professor Lupin … Sometimes it still doesn't seem real. They stand in silence for a few minutes, and then move back to make room for the next people.

Seamus takes Lavender's hand in his. Hers is cold; his feels warm.

"Come on," he says, pulling her gently towards the staircase. Lavender shakes her head and protests. She wants nothing more than to go home and drink a very large glass of wine.

But Seamus insists. "Ten minutes," he says, and Lavender lets him lead her up the stairs and along the corridor to the door of Moaning Myrtle's bathroom.

Lavender turns wide eyes on him and begins to protest again as he opens the door, but he lays a finger on her lips and says, "Hush." He is smiling.

Lavender shrugs and follows him inside. Sometimes it is easier not to argue with Seamus. There is a splash, and Myrtle appears, smirking at them.

"I thought you'd gone," she says accusingly to Lavender, and then turns a glare on Seamus. "And you're a boy!"

"Ten out of ten," says Seamus dryly. "Get lost, Myrtle. Three is most definitely a crowd right now."

Myrtle looks offended, but does as she is told, sending a fresh flood of water over the floor, and Seamus turns to Lavender and takes her hand.

"Do you remember?" he asks quietly. "Me trying to be your knight in shining amour and rescue you, and you having none of it?"

Lavender nods, blinking. Unaccountably, there is suddenly a lump in her throat. She swallows. "You've rescued me so many times since then," she whispers.

Seamus smiles, and drops to his knees, apparently oblivious to the puddles on the floor. "I love you, Lavender," he says. "Marry me?"

Lavender is crying now, and cannot say anything, but she nods. Seamus pulls a small box from his pocket, and slips a ring onto her finger – ruby for courage and hope, pearls for tears and remembering – and then stands up, pulling her to him and kissing her hard.

They have tears on their faces but smiles on their lips as they leave the bathroom hand-in-hand.

Life goes on.