A/N: Many thanks to my wife, Kate, my girlfriend, Celine, and Kate's boyfriend's penis.
She woke to find her vision blurry and her memory fuzzy around the edges. When she tried to move her hand, however, she remembered both the attack and her pain vividly. She closed her eyes and tried to go back to sleep; she couldn't deal with the aftermath right now.
She spent her days waiting for the next visit. She made it to look as if she were reading Witch Weekly or writing in her diary, but she didn't absorb a word and her diary was no more than scribbles. She couldn't concentrate on anything because she had lost everything. If Lavender Brown wasn't pretty, what was she?
Lav knew she wasn't particularly smart of funny, but she never doubted she would get by if only on her looks. In her whole life, despite pimples and the like, she had never seen herself as less than pretty. But even Parvati, the best girl friend she could hope for, winced when she came to visit. Seamus hadn't been by in all the time she'd been here.
She assumed it was over between them.
Hermione Granger was the only person that didn't flinch at her wolf-scarred face. She smiled at Lav and asked her how she felt.
The words her foreign to her; she hadn't so much as thought them before the attack, let alone said them aloud. She wasn't sure why Hermione was the only person with which she felt comfortable sharing them. Lav half expected Hermione to grin in triumph or throw a fist in the air, but she frowned instead. "You're far from ugly, Lavender."
Lav scoffed. "Have you gone blind?"
"No," Hermione said firmly. Then, in a gentler tone, she continued, "Look at yourself closer."
Lav lifted her bedside mirror and saw the bloody lines on her face, cringing at her appearance.
"No, look at your eyes. Don't look away from your eyes."
She did so: her cornflower blue eyes.
"See, your eyes haven't changed at all. They're still your eyes."
Lav looked up at Hermione. "What does that prove? The scars are still there."
Hermione leaned forward. "You're still you, Lavender. You aren't suddenly ugly because of the attack. Anyone who cares about you will still see you, even if they are a bit distracted by the marks on your face."
Lavender's eyes filled with tears. "Seamus," she began wetly, "hasn't come to see me."
She swallowed and Hermione placed her hand over Lav's on the bed. "Then it can't be because you're ugly, if he hasn't seen you yet."
Lav thought this through and nodded. "That makes sense."
Hermione actually grinned in triumph that time and got up to leave. "Hermione?" She looked down at Lav. "Thank you."
"Not a big deal."
Lav shook her head, "No, I meant for saving my life."
Hermione smiled. "I know. Feel better."
Hermione came back two days later, bearing the latest Witch Weekly and a book of poetry by a man who spelled his name in lowercase. "Some people," she said, "think his poetry is ugly and foolish, but there's beauty in it for anyone who cares to look."
Lav stared at her, nonplussed. "Why are you here?"
Hermione paused and cocked her head to the side. "Why shouldn't I be here?"
Lav was incredulous. "I stole Ron from you."
Hermione laughed—really laughed—her head thrown back. "I don't think you were even close to entirely to blame." Lav nodded, but said nothing. Hermione sat down. "Has Seamus been by yet?" Lav shook her head and said still nothing for fear that she might begin crying.
They were silent for quite a while until Lav saw the scar on Hermione's neck. "How did you get your scar?"
Hermione immediately raised the fingers of her right hand to it, like a reflex. "I was tortured with the Cruciatus until I passed out. When Harry and Ron tried to rescue me, she threatened them with the knife at my neck so they would drop their wands."
She said it so coldly, as if detached from the experience all together. Lavender wasn't sure how she did it. So she asked.
Hermione answered, "You have to remind yourself that it's just something that happened to you. It's not a part of you despite the physical marks."
Lav took in the words seriously, barely restraining herself from writing them down in her diary.
Hermione looked into Lav's eyes and asked, "How are you doing?"
Hermione nodded. "Good. Now. Tell me how you're really feeling."
Lav would've laughed, if it wasn't for the bitterness rising in her chest. "I feel abandoned. Parvati stopped coming."
"I'm sure she'll be by soon. She loves you, Lavender."
"I know, but knowing doesn't stop the feelings."
Hermione smiled and gave a short, insincere laugh. "Tell me about it."
"Hermione," she started and almost stopped herself.
"Go ahead and ask. I'm sure it won't bother me."
Lav went on. "Why aren't you—why are you here with me instead of somewhere else?"
She nodded, as if she expected that question. "The Weasleys are making arrangements for Fred and I don't feel right there."
Lav sighed. "I'm sure Ron wants you there."
Hermione stared at her lap. "He's been hiding from me, I think."
"What do you mean?"
Hermione bit her bottom lip. "He hasn't really spoken to me, and I've tried. When I try to touch him, he moves away."
Recognition rang in Lav. "He doesn't want you to think he's weak," she reassured. "Men are like that: grief is weakness."
Hermione looked truly relieved. "That makes sense."
Lav nodded, feeling like that action made up half of their time together. After a few moments, she ventured further. "You didn't really answer my question."
"Why you're here."
"Oh. I haven't really thought about it." She seemed to mull it over. "Well, how about this?" she said, a smile growing. "I saved your life and now I'm checking on my investment."
Lav laughed, lost control like she hadn't in a long time.
It felt so good.
The third time Hermione came to visit, the next day, Lavender was expecting it.
"Has Madam Pomfrey said when she's letting you out?"
Hermione was practically giddy, the question coming out in a tone Lav had never heard before.
"Unless something happens, she said I'd leave by Friday."
Hermione grinned. "I'm happy to hear it."
"You look especially happy today," Lav observed. "What's got you so…glowy?"
"I confronted Ron about avoiding me."
One corner of Lav's mouth rose. "I take it that he stopped."
Hermione giggled, something Lav was sure prim Miss Granger never did. "You hit the nail on the head!" she said, her words spilling out rapidly. "I told him he was silly, that he could cry and he just let go, and he cried on me. Well, really, we cried together and it was just—" She sighed. "It was perfect."
Lav tried to really smile, but she guessed it wasn't working, so she made a joke and bared her teeth. "Look at me! Solving problems without even getting out of bed."
Hermione didn't laugh, her glee fading as she looked at Lavender. "I'm sorry," she said, though it sounded as if she wasn't sure for what she was apologizing.
"Does it show that clearly beneath all the scars?" She paused before saying, "I can use my man-genius for everyone except myself."
Hermione frowned. "Seamus—"
"Still hasn't come."
"I'm sorry," she repeated, her eyes betraying her sincerity. "Have you thought that maybe Seamus has the same problem as Ron?"
"Seamus is an only child…"
"No," Hermione said. "He doesn't want you to think he's weak."
Lav shook her head. "I've taken care of him after beatings this year, I think it's too late for fear about weakness."
"I've taken care of Ron too and that didn't stop him," Hermione rebutted.
Lav nodded, conceding the point. "But Ron loves you."
Hermione clearly struggled to come up with something else to say, but she didn't argue with the point. "Have you read any of the poems?"
Lav nodded enthusiastically. "I loved the one about the graveyard."
Hermione smiled, eyes wide. "23? I particularly like that one too. I think I knew you would too." After a moment, Hermione abruptly said, "Fred's funeral is on Saturday. I officially invite you."
"I'll be there. Thanks, Hermione."
"You're welcome, Lavender."
"Call me Lav," she said, smiling at Hermione. "All my other friends do."
Hermione was right about Parvati. She came in only five minutes after Hermione left, apologizing for not coming sooner. "You were still so sick," she said, tears in her ashamed eyes. "I was afraid you would die, and I couldn't stand to watch."
Lav smiled gently, holding her arms out to hug Parvati, having forgiven her the moment she walked in the door.
"I saw Hermione Granger in the hall," Parvati said, fishing for information. When Lav said nothing, she continued, "That must have been a bore."
Lav half-smiled. "She's actually really great. I think we misjudged her."
Parvati looked doubtful. "Maybe she's changed this year."
Lav nodded. "She has, but I think we weren't seeing her the whole time."
They sat in silence for a few moments before Parvati pointed to the edition of Witch Weekly on her nightstand. "Did you read about the drummer for the Weird Sisters?" she asked excitedly.
"I've been waiting for you to ask this whole time!" Lav lied, deciding she'd rather talk about the salacious gossip than try to explain Hermione to Parvati.
That night, Lavender made sense of a poem about a "floozey" (32) and saw in it what Hermione had been telling her all along.
Hermione found Seamus at the Leaky Cauldron, having extracted his whereabouts from Harry. She walked right up to his stool at the bat and got to the point. "Why haven't you been to see Lavender?"
Seamus looked startled and slightly scared, as if Hermione might hex him. "I have!"
Hermione gave him a look. "I have been talking to her, you know. I know you haven't."
He rolled his eyes. "Good for you. You deserve a prize. Same old Granger: self-righteous and unforgiving."
She opened her mouth to swear at him, but decided at the last moment that the satisfaction wasn't worth it. "I forgive the unimportant errors or when amends have been made, but this is important."
Seamus had the sense to look ashamed. "I did go when she was still unconscious," he said, looking intently at the polished surface of the bar. "Her face was all fucked up and Pomfrey said she was bleeding internally. She thought Lav's brain might be fucked up too, so I cried like a little bitch. The possibility that she wouldn't be the Lav I—the Lav…"
"The Lav that you love," she finished. She shook her head at his inability to express how much he felt for her, something akin to pity on her face and Seamus looked as if he were off the hook.
So, Hermione slapped him.
"What the hell?" he asked, looking around at her.
"Same old Seamus: selfish and ignorant."
"She needs you," Hermione said over him, unwilling to acknowledge what he was about to say.
"What the fuck for?"
"She's the same Lav that took care of you and now she needs you to take care of her."
"Sober up. Go visit her."
"Seamus been by?" Hermione asked, as if getting the question out of the way.
"No," Lav replied, not bothering to look up from the book.
"Hello, Lavender." Lav's looked up to see Ron, arm curled around Hermione's shoulders. "How've you been?"
Lav summoned up a sad look, widening her eyes. "Pining after you restlessly."
"Er," Ron said, clearly at a loss. "That's…that's not good."
Lav and Hermione erupted into laughter. "Did you see his face?" Lavender forced out, between peals of giggles.
Hermione just nodded, unable to speak.
"Women," Ron said, shaking his head.
"I'm much better, Won-Won," Lav said once they regained control. "Thanks for asking."
Hermione smirked at the endearment, knowing how much it bothered him.
"Thanks to your girlfriend here, I'm no longer bored either," she said, gesturing toward the book in her lap."
"Do you want another?" Hermione asked. "I have plenty of them."
Lav looked at it. "I love it, but I think I want to try something new too."
Hermione nodded, her eyes eager. "You should try some Plath."
"Is that the depressed woman?" Ron asked.
She rolled her eyes. "Yes, love." She then looked pointedly at Lav. "See why I need you?"
Ron smiled a near smirk. "Fine. You can sleep with her."
Hermione bit her lip. "I do see his point."
"He is awfully warm," she continued.
Lav nodded again, and said, "He also has a penis."
Hermione nodded seriously as Ron looked aghast.
"It's just fun to see him squirm, isn't it?" Lav asked.
She and Ron left a while later, Ron's fingers laced with hers.
She was in the midst of 85 when she heard the door swing open.
She didn't look up; Hermione and Parvati had already been by, her mother was coming after her shift tomorrow.
She immediately wished she had looked up. Turning her face away, she tried in vain to preserve his image of her as the beautiful girl she once was.
"I know I'm an utter bastard and I should've come and seen you more and I'm so sorry and I wouldn't expect you to still want me—"
"What?" she said.
"I didn't think that you'd still want me. I really don't deserve you."
"I'm the one who shouldn't be wanted."
"Why the fuck would you think that?"
"Well, I thought that maybe you'd heard that I was ugly now—"
"No!" Seamus exclaimed. "Lav, look at me."
She shook her head.
When she didn't respond, he crooked a finger under her chin and pulled her face toward him. He had yellow carnations in the hand that wasn't now spreading across her face. "They're hideous, aren't they?" she whispered weakly, prefacing what she thought must be inevitable.
Seamus shook his head. "You're fucking beautiful," he said sincerely, his thumb brushing over her cheekbone. "I came to see you before you woke up."
Lav raised her eyebrows at his choice of words. "You mean when everything was shit."
He nodded. "Pomfrey thought your brain had gone to shit too." Lav's brows drew together. "She thought"—he swallowed—"that you might not come out the same."
She nodded. "I didn't."
Seamus came closer to her. "But it doesn't matter," he said, now tracing the lines on her face with his left index finger. "By the time I realized how much it didn't matter, I thought it was too late."
Her vision blurred, the image of his frank expression lost to the tears holding her eyes hostage. When she didn't say anything, he flinched.
"It's too late, isn't it? Fuck," he swore, pulling away.
But Lav caught his wrist. "It's not too late, you stupid fuck." She pulled him to her and grinned as he placed his right hand on the side of her face like he always did. His lips pressed against the scars on the left side of her face, dragging his tongue lightly against them.
The sensation caused her to gasp and he immediately stopped. "Sorry," he mumbled against her skin.
"Do it again," she said, her stomach in knots.
He sat down on the edge of the bed instead, and just looked at her. His lips were pressed together so tightly they turned white. "Goddamn it," he said, looking away and running his hand over his crown of his head. "I didn't want you to see me like this."
Lav's hand flew up to her mouth. "Hermione was right," she whispered.
Seamus turned to look at her with clearly wet eyes. "It's not about how you look—well, it is, but it's just, I look at you and I want to punch something and hold you at the same time. I didn't want you to think it was about you at all. I didn't want you to see me and think I couldn't handle helping you with salve or spells because I can, love. I will help you with whatever you need."
Lav nodded and he pushed her hair behind her ear. "Shay," she said, placing her hand on his face. "You can cry. It doesn't make you weak or unable to help me."
He nodded, closing his eyes for a moment before his whole face crumpled. He turned into her palm and kissed it, his body shaking. "Why did it have to be you?" he asked, his voice broken.
She stroked his head from crown to nape until her arm ached. He pressed his face into her shoulder, afraid to disturb her barely healed neck. Eventually, he ended up lying alongside her, having fallen asleep as she finished her book and ran her fingers through his hair.
The next day, Hermione came in with another cummings and a Plath. "Seamus come by?" she asked, a ritual in place.
"He did, actually."
Hermione said, "Oh really?" with no surprise.
"You were right. Same problem as Ron."
Hermione smirked. "I usually am."
Lav laughed. "Oh shut up, 'Mione."
Hermione looked at her for a few moments, as if evaluating, but she said nothing about her new nickname.
On Friday, Seamus and Parvati came to help Lavender "pack", Hermione being tied up in preparations for the funeral the next day. She found that Parvati had already packed her things from the dorm last week when at a loss about what to do for her.
"It's just a couple books and some flowers. There's no need for your help."
They ignored her.
Seamus's hand at the small of her back, Lav made her way through the pavilion of mourners and took a deep breath. It was the first time she'd been out in public since the attack and she was concerned about how others would act toward her. She was torn between wishing for pity and hoping against it.
When she reached Ron and Hermione, she hugged him tightly. "I'm so sorry, Ron," she said, patting his shoulder.
Seamus nodded adamantly from her side. "Yeah, mate. It's just awful."
Ron half-smiled. "Nah, mate. Fred went the way he wanted."
Lav nodded in understanding. "Fighting for something he believed in."
Ron snorted. "No. Laughing at Percy."
Hermione snickered from Ron's left and Harry barked a laugh from his right. "He did, didn't he?"
And the three of them began to laugh quite loudly and inappropriately in the front. Upon noticing them, a wizened witch approached them. "What's this, Ronald? Don't you have any respect for your brother?"
"Depends on which one you're talking about," he muttered.
Harry continued to chuckle, but Hermione immediately stopped laughing and nudged him in the ribs.
Then, Muriel turned to Lav and pointed at her face. "What's wrong with you?"
"Aunt Muriel!" Ron exclaimed.
"What? Can't I ask the girl what's wrong with her face?"
"It's just something that happened to me," she murmured under her breath. "Got attacked by Fenrir Greyback," she said firmly.
Muriel looked at her face carefully. "Really did you a good one, didn't he?"
Lav shrugged and nodded simultaneously.
"Strong one, her," she said to Ron. "Best to keep her."
"Actually—" Ron and Seamus said in unison.
Hermione and Lav lost it again, bringing Ron and Seamus with them.
"Teenagers. Can't have a serious conversation, any of them," she muttered loudly, tottering away.
Hermione grinned at Lav, proud of her solid response. "Told you it was easy to tell people about it."
"That was pretty good, wasn't it?" Lav hugged her again. "Thanks, 'Mione."
Hermione held her tightly. "It was my pleasure, Lav."
A/N: Bromances are the best, even the lady bromances.