27 October 1998

Dear Ron and Harry,

Ron,

Hi, Ron!

Dear Ron,

How's training going? Is your leg all right? I've been worried ever since I left. How are your mum and dad? And Harry? I saw the article in the Prophet, about the last Death Eater trials. Maybe I can go and get my parents sooner than we thought.

Hermione sighed exasperatedly and crumpled up the letter, tossing it into the fire.

"Hermione?"

She looked up suddenly. Lavender Brown stood before her wearing pajamas and a blue bathrobe.

"Hi," Hermione said, shaking her head. "I was just—"

"Spacing out," Lavender supplied, sitting down slowly on the other end of the couch. "Are you all right?"

Hermione shifted uncomfortably. "I'm fine, thanks." Then, when Lavender opened her mouth to speak again, Hermione cut her off. "What are you doing up? I thought you all went to bed ages ago."

"Headache," Lavender said, though she gave herself away by brushing her fingers against the thick scar that tracked down the side of her face and neck.

Hermione winced. "It's the full moon tonight," she said, and Lavender looked away.

"I'm fine, thanks," she said in a hard voice.

Hermione watched her for several minutes in the flickering firelight, unsure of what to say next, but Lavender didn't seem interested in continuing the conversation. She was staring at the bookshelves, the unscarred side of her face the only thing Hermione could see.

"You're lucky you've got Ron."

Hermione's stomach plummeted, and she clenched her fingers tightly around her book, hoping that if she ignored it, perhaps Lavender wouldn't press on. She was wrong.

"You're lucky you've got someone that understands," Lavender said quietly. "You're best friends, you know everything about each other. That's…that's really great."

Hermione felt her face grow hot. "Lavender, we—"

"I never apologized to you," said Lavender, turning to face her. "I knew about three weeks after it started that it wasn't going anywhere, and I kept on anyway. Towards the end I…I just did it on purpose, to make you jealous. It seems so stupid now."

"Ron didn't want me—"

"No, he didn't know he wanted you, Hermione," Lavender snapped. Then she took a breath. "Sorry. It's the stupid moon. Slughorn came into class smelling like that bloody crystallized pineapple this afternoon and I almost vomited."

"It's all right," Hermione mumbled.

"Anyway, I just…I'm sorry, all right? I'm sorry I was so mean to you, and I'm sorry I kept you and Ron apart," said Lavender. She stood up and tugged her bathrobe straight. "I think I'm going to see if Madam Pomfrey has anything that can help me sleep—"

"Hey, wait a moment," Hermione said suddenly, snapping her book shut and standing up. "I was doing a pretty fine job of keeping Ron and me apart, if you remember. I wasn't exactly pining for him, and I didn't go leaping into his arms when you finally split up. I may have been confused and angry, but I wasn't waiting for him to come running back to me. Compared to us, you were hardly standing in our way, so don't flatter yourself."

Lavender blinked. "Merlin, Hermione," she said. "So…all that time the three of you were gone…?

"No," Hermione said firmly. "Nothing."

Lavender sat down again. "I'm sorry," she said meekly. "I…I didn't know what to think, you know?"

"It's all right," said Hermione huffily. "I…I was angry with you, for a while. But then, when Dumbledore died…everything like that stopped mattering. Everything we did, from then on…"

"It was about saving Harry," said Lavender, and Hermione nodded. Lavender cleared her throat and then winced, rubbing the scar. "I don't know if I could've done what you three did."

"I don't know that I could've done what all of you did last year, even if I had been allowed back," Hermione said. "Look…you're just as brave as any of us, and these last couple of years have proven that. You started the D.A. with us, you kept it alive last year, and you fought, just like everybody else. That's brave, Lavender. And," she added slowly, "If Dean hasn't noticed that yet…it doesn't mean he won't."

Lavender looked stunned. "How did you—?"

"I might not be great with boys," Hermione said uncomfortably, "but I've spent every summer with Ginny since third year. I know what a crush looks like."

And finally, Lavender laughed. Hermione smiled and reached out to pat her arm.

"Dean had a difficult year too," she said, nodding earnestly. "Give him a little more time, and he'll be all right. It's not you that's wrong." Lavender bit her lip, and Hermione distinctly saw her tug her sleeve down to hide the bite scars that covered her right hand.

"Are you sure?" she asked.

"Positive," Hermione promised, smiling.

Lavender was silent for a moment. Then she stood up again, pulling her robe straight. "I'm going to go see Madam Pomfrey."

"Do you want me to come with you?" Hermione offered.

Lavender shook her head. "I'll be all right." She turned and walked to the portrait hole, then paused. "Don't be too down, all right? Parvati and I…well, we've just noticed that you've been sort of quiet lately, even when you're with Ginny."

Hermione felt, to her surprise, a lump rise in her throat as her cheeks burned. "I miss them," she managed to say, though she was finding herself overcome with breathlessness; she didn't trust herself to speak again.

Lavender nodded. "I know. But Harry and Ron are okay. And you're here with us, all right? Anytime you want to talk to me or Parvati, we're here."

"Thanks, Lavender," Hermione said, swallowing hard. "You too."

"Night, Hermione," Lavender called as she climbed through the portrait hole.

Hermione stared after her for a moment. Then she picked up her quill and a fresh piece of parchment.


Hi guys! I missed you all so much! I'm working avidly on the DH piece. Would anybody be willing to give a little input on the first couple of chapters before I post, because I feel like I'm leaving stuff out that shouldn't be left out... ANYWHO!

Enjoy. And show Lavender some love, she earned it!

Lucy