nothing to do with lipstick stains

A HariPo oneshot

by mew-tsubaki

Note: The Harry Potter characters belong to J.K. Rowling, not me. This pairing was discovered by my buddy, Morghen, so please gimme a little mention if you write them! Thanks! It is one of many of Mew and Mor's Weird Pairings, most of which you may find in the M&MWP forum. Check out and join the forum FUN! Read, review, and enjoy!

For Hattie, for having the best oneshot in the *2011 M&MWP competition*.

- ^-^3

"There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do."

Jim Casy, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Outside of school, she wasn't as irritating as most thought.

Lavender Brown magically twirled a spoon around in her mug of butterbeer, even though there was no reason to have a spoon in a mug of butterbeer. But it was something that held her attention whilst she thought.

She had thought she liked her Quidditch players, but Lavender had gotten over her crush on Ron fast. After all…he was a bloody idiot. And Lavender didn't want to date a bloody idiot.

And that had made her think. Harry was often with Ron, and so was Granger. So…weren't they bloody idiots by association? It's not as though Lavender could go around asking that—

Or could she?

That had been the reason for her going to the Three Broomsticks on her own for once. But that had been two, almost three years ago. Now, the Wizarding world had settled and the scars on Lavender's neck still felt like scabs. She wanted to pick at them, scratch out Greyback's taint. Her attack was the only thing that ever got her to stop thinking about her love life.

"You're going to make your drink taste like metal that way," a woman said as she sat across from Lavender.

"Maybe I like the metallic taste," Lavender said.

The woman—Cho Chang—rested her eyes on Lavender's face. "The spoon's not silver, you know."

Heat flooded Lavender's cheeks, and suddenly the spoon was on the tavern table, wetting the wood with a dark stain. So, Cho wanted to push her buttons over her affliction again, did she? …Lavender released her annoyance. She wasn't able to stay mad at Cho for long.

Frankly, she still couldn't believe she'd had any courage to ask Cho straight out if Harry was as stupid as Ron. This had come on the heels of an awful sixth year for Lavender, and maybe Cho—having graduated that same year—had grown some balls as early as then, because she sure as hell showed them a year later when she had reappeared to fight for Hogwarts. For once, Lavender had been happy that she had such an unyielding personality; maybe that was the only type of personality that could force Cho out of her shell. And forcing Cho out of her shell had led to the two witches forming a friendship. These days…perhaps Cho was her best friend. The thought made Lavender scrunch up her nose so tiny wrinkles formed on the bridge—but she did know that she'd fallen out of touch with Parvati after school. So maybe taking what she could get wasn't so bad.

Especially not when her friend across from her was almost as pretty as Lavender had been before Greyback's attack. (At the thought, Lavender scolded herself and tried to put the werewolf out of her mind for the remainder of the day.)

"So what's got you so surly?" the Asian woman asked. Then she seemed to think on it, and her features grew serious. "Oh, are you…?"

"No, no, it doesn't really affect me," Lavender stated quickly, and her hand flew to her neck on its own. But it was true; she didn't get restive at the sight of the full moon, and she still liked her steak well-done. The only time she got antsy was when she thought about it…and she reminded Cho of that.

"Ah, right, sorry…" A light dusting of pink tinted Cho's cheeks and nose as she ducked her eyes. "Um, in other news…"

"Yes?" Anything was good to change the subject.

Cho looked back up with her shining, dark eyes. "I've met someone."

Lavender blinked, not immediately smiling. Once upon a time, had this been Parvati confessing the same thing, Lavender would have broken into a mad grin and bounced, begging to know all the details. But with Cho… Lavender had to muster a grin. "And?" was all she could say.

"He's a Muggle man, a few years older than me…" Cho leaned on the table and cupped her chin in the palm of her hand. Lavender had never seen her look this way before, with her smile different but still happy. "He has a young son, and I bumped into them when I was considering moving into a more Muggle-centric area."

"Right," the blonde stated. "You think you've had your dose of magic, considering everything…" It was one thing that Lavender begrudged her newfound friend, even if only a bit.

Cho glanced at her, concern evident in her eyes. Lavender knew what she wanted to say but wouldn't—that Lavender should be sick of magic, too, by now, considering all it had done to her, as well. But instead, Cho plowed right on. "He lost his wife on the Millennium Bridge, back when the Death Eaters destroyed it…" She bit her lip. "He seems like a good man. I've met him for coffee on several occasions. He's a postman. Imagine if I showed him my owl." And she chuckled.

Lavender stared at her drink. Of these past few years, she couldn't recall a time when Cho had laughed so forcedly. So…what? What did this mean? Lavender hadn't met anyone special after the war—she figured she could never quite explain her scars well enough. And this was the first time Cho had finally laid her heart out to someone who didn't sound like Cedric (with the exception of Lavender, but that was different—they were just friends). Hmm, would this perhaps mean the end of that friendship? Now that Cho might have a calm, inconspicuous life outside of the Wizarding world, would it mean that Cho would lock away Lavender with everything else she'd ever known?

Well, that was a bit unfair, wasn't it? After all the time they'd spent together, and after Lavender had finally opened up to someone about her attack, and all the pain she'd suffered?

But Lavender met Cho's eyes again…and felt selfish. If Cho had this chance, then maybe she was destined to seize it.

"Lav?" the Ravenclaw asked gently. Her face—her expression showed that she sought the Gryffindor's approval.


"Don't you have anything to say?"

"I—" Lavender opened and closed her mouth, for it had—for the first time in her life—gone dry. She stared at the table, and the menu caught her attention from the corner of her eye. She snatched it up, hoping for anything to avoid what was about to be a very uncomfortable exchange. Before she realized what she was doing, she had already summoned Madam Rosmerta and ordered a slice of peppermint-Plangentine cake. It appeared very quickly before her, and she grabbed her spoon from before and shoveled the pastry into her mouth, the taste of butterbeer still lingering on the metal…

"Lav." Cho sighed. "Look…I'm tired. The last few times we hung out, there was less and less conversation. And now you'd rather eat than comment on my finally having a love life." She reached out and stopped Lavender's hand from guiding yet another spoonful to her mouth. She didn't say anything further, but she didn't release the blonde's hand and she didn't tear her eyes away from that face. "That's hurtful."

Lavender felt ridiculously like a Weasley, heat flushing her cheeks and reaching her ears and neck. "I'm sorry…," she mumbled.

Cho studied her for another second, but she still didn't release her hand. "I value your opinion. You're the person who's closest to me—don't you have anything to say or ask about him?"

But the blonde could only purse her lips.

The dark-haired woman finally bit her lip and sighed again. "Lav…I'm confused." Her eyelashes fluttered as she continued, "I mean, he's a nice guy, and I might have a real chance here for something normal, but you're saying less and less to me, and I'm so terribly confused…!"

Lavender stared at a spot on Cho's shoulder until the not-so-white collar of Cho's blouse caught her attention. Of course it wasn't white; there was a mauve-colored stain that was faded but still there. Lavender remembered it being there one of the last times they had been at Cho's flat. And now she found herself being the one to stare as Cho groaned and shook her head at some internal thought…but it wasn't Lavender's fault that Cho was confused, and it surely had nothing to do with the lipstick stains she'd left on Cho's neck and collar they last time they had planned to have dinner at Cho's place and had ended up doing other things just as they had countless other times before (of course there'd been less and less conversation—it wasn't as necessary between them anymore)… No, Lavender had nothing to do with this confusion.

But she wondered how long ago they had come to a silent agreement to be all one needed and all the other wanted…at least, in the short term.

Because Cho's long-term option was here and knocking on her door.

"Please, say something…," Cho begged quietly.

Instead, Lavender ate her cake, the peppermint awakening her from her nervousness (or was it the Plangentine doing that?). She really had been selfish to keep Cho all to herself these past few years, but she knew she'd been lucky to do so, all the same. Maybe Cho…maybe she'd done the impossible and healed Lavender. Maybe a fling, a relationship with someone quite like her had been the remedy—or maybe it had just been the companionship.

But Cho was still broken. Cho still needed repair—and the best thing Lavender could do for her was break her a little bit more. Then, utterly shattered, Cho could seek out her Muggle man and really have the life she'd always deserved and wanted. After all, isn't it supposed to go that it's always darkest before the dawn? So maybe Lavender would have to be a little evil to be good.

"What's his name?" she kindly inquired, finishing her cake.

Cho seemed to understand what it meant, that they'd just closed another chapter in their lives. "Oh, it's…" And as she answered her, it never occurred to Lavender that Cho looked ready to cry as she gushed about her Muggle.

- ^-^3

Truly different from a lot of my stuff…not even a happy ending. Or is it? Was Lav being good, evil, or just deciding on an action? And Cho… I actually, for once, alluded to something mentioned by JKR, that she goes on to marry a Muggle man. But, judging by this exchange that breathes of a more-than-friendly past between the two witches, I have to wonder if Cho could marry him or stay married to him. Lavender certainly cared for Cho—and Cho despairs as she still loves Lav. A fling, this was not. ;] Notes: Plangentines are a magical fruit, don't really know what they do, but I included them… And it was the Millennium Bridge that was destroyed in the HBP movie, hence my connection created to it.

This is hat in a box's prize for having the best oneshot, "Love, Always," for the 2011 Mew & Mor's Weird Pairings competition. It is one of the very best oneshots I've ever had the pleasure to read (if not THE best), and it made me a babbling blob of goo upon reading it. :') I hope you liked this, Hattie—maybe it won't make you into a babbling blob of goo like me, but maybe I'll get a tear? ;D *lol*

Thanks for reading and please review!

-mew-tsubaki :]