Dear Mum,

You always told me that I couldn't admit it when I had made a mistake. It's been something that you chided me for throughout my life, and something which I always deny head first. Mum, I know you only want the best for me, but I also know, with the benefit of hindsight, that I am one of the most headstrong people that I have ever met. Sure, I'm in Gryffindor, and we all know that Gryffindor is chalk-full of people so headstrong that it's often dangerous. But I always felt different from them, like I knew how to contain it, like I could go after what I wanted and be able to know when to stop and know exactly when I had made a mistake. I didn't believe that you were right about my inability to see myself for what I am. You're my mum. You're biased.

It all started when I was eight years old, and you made brownies for me and for some friends that came over. I was going through my chocolate phase- and have been in it ever since- so when I smelled the delicious brownies and saw the delicious ice cream that went with them, all I wanted to do was eat every single one. I still recall watching the knife cut through those brownies as being one of the most exhilarating moments of my childhood. I guess I didn't get out much, huh? Anyways, the reason I'm telling this story is because, after I spent hours salivating over the brownies, when you finally set them on a plate in front of me and whoever I was having a gathering with, I devoured them. I ate so many brownies, and when I started to feel sick I kept on eating. You told me to stop, told me that I had a share with my friends and understand that I had overstepped my boundaries with the brownies. Told me it was a mistake. I didn't listen to you. I kept eating. Later, I got sick in front of all of my friends.

It's not a thing one forgets very easily.

Mum, there's a reason I haven't written in a while. I'm not going to keep you guessing, as it's fairly obvious what it might be, and, to be honest, I want to get this over with. I feel so ashamed of myself, mum, and I have for quite a long time now. It's the sort of thing that had always been festering inside of me, from the moment I deserved it. But then the guilt started building and building and bubbling over until I couldn't even ignore it anymore. I had to admit that I made a mistake. This letter is the beginning of that.

For the past few months, I have been dating Ron Weasley. You've probably seen him around Diagon Alley when we've been there to get school supplies, but if not, it's quite easy to imagine what he looks like. He closely resembles almost every member of the Weasley family… you know. Red hair. Freckles. He's got this endearingly long nose and these gorgeous muscles from playing Quidditch so much. It all started with the muscles, of course. I'm ashamed to say that before that, I had absolutely no interest in him. He was the boy who was too tall to be comfortable in his body. He was the boy who talked with his mouth full all the time. He was the boy that was best friends with the Harry Potter. And he was the boy that had somehow made my roommate fall in love with him. No, I'm not talking about Parvati.

You may know that I have one other roommate besides Parvati. I don't talk about her that much, truthfully, because we aren't very good friends. It's not that she has no redeeming qualities, it's just that… well, she's best friends with Harry and Ron. Her redeeming qualities don't exactly fit with mine and Parvati's. And here's the truth of it, mum: we were never mean to her. We didn't ever try to exclude her. But we are very different girls, and, to be honest, the idea of even attempting to be friends seemed ludicrous even after knowing her for just three days. It obviously seemed that way to her, too. Hermione Granger never wanted to become friends with us, never even tried. It was always Harry and Ron for her, and that's always the way it was supposed to be.

By the time we became actual teenagers, it was too late to form a bond. Parvati and I had our own little clique, and while Hermione was our roommate, she did not fit into it. Still doesn't. This is why you almost never hear about her and why I don't consider us to be friends. Who knows what would have happened if she had attempted to connect at any point. The truth of the matter is that she didn't, so here we are. The thing is, though… mum, even though we aren't friends, it's easy to see that Hermione is in love with Ron. God knows how old she was when it started, and I doubt that those feelings are going anywhere anytime soon. Parvati and I have been discussing it since we were only thirteen years old- how we were sure Hermione and Ron were going to get together, how adorably awkward they would be, how odd it was that anybody would be able to find those two attractive the way they found each other attractive. In all honesty, the entire school wants them together. The rising sexual tension every year has been basically unbearable. Once, I heard Professor McGonagall making a bet with Professor Sprout about the two of them. And we all know from experience that it's damn difficult to make Professor McGonagall make a bet. That woman is too professional for her own good… does she have any fun ever?

Here's the thing about Hogwarts. Everybody is always in everybody's business. So it wasn't hard to see that all the Gryffindors were rooting for Ron and Hermione, just like it's not hard to see that Harry Potter is spending all his time drooling over Ginny Weasley and that Colin Creevy does, too. Poor baby. Oh, but I digress. The point is, while the entire school rooted for Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger to just give up and snog already, Ron spent most of his time ignoring this and playing Quidditch. And while he played Quidditch, he developed muscles. And as soon as he developed muscles… well, let's just say, that boy was fit. Is fit. Still.

I've always had a thing for Quidditch players. We all know it. Merlin knows that one day I will have some semblance of sense about who I should be falling in love with, but right now I am ashamed to say that it is totally superficial. I see a boy, I think he's fit, I start to fancy him. Simple as that. I wish that I could say that I fell for Ron because of his sparkling sense of humor, or his fiery hair, or his loyalty to his friends, but at the time, all I could see was his biceps. Mmmm. Biceps.

Look, we're close to each other and I'm an only child and basically if you don't love me you have no child to love, so I'm going to tell you the entire story and you cannot judge me. I know you won't. I just want to warn you ahead of time. I can be completely candid with you, and I am going to, because I have no choice in the matter. I don't believe there is anybody else I can talk to about this, mum. When I'm around other teenage girls I become… well, a teenage girl. Everything is about hair and makeup and boys and I love that. Now is the only time in my life that I'm going to get to be vapid- I understand that now. I'm going to have to grow up really soon and really fast. Before now, I was merely materialistic. As I get older, though, as I mature, I see that life can't be all about all that stuff. Maybe the events of this situation helped me get there. I don't know. All I know is that I can't stop reverting back to the old ways around my peers, but when I'm talking to you, I think I can try to be an adult for once. New Lavender. I think you deserve that side of me. God knows that you don't want to deal with the other side. She's like you in a lot of ways, but you're only like that in moderation, and she's like that all the time.

I used to like that part of myself. Now, I'm not so sure.

It started on the night of the game. Gryffindor against Slytherin- a big one. We won, so, obviously there was a party in the common room. There was this sense of euphoria in the air, and though it was mostly brought on by the glory of winning and the exuberance that alcohol brings, it was still infectious. There, in the middle of the crowd, looking extremely confident and thrilled with himself, was Ronald Weasley. Now, mum, you know that I have three things that can instantly make me attracted to a guy. One, muscles. Two, confidence. Three, rolled up sleeves. That night, Ron was sporting all three. When a person is that adorable to you, when you're that high on life, there's nothing else that you can do besides go for it. I had been whispering about Ron for months before that night, but never truly thought it would go anywhere. In that moment, however, I didn't care that he fancied Hermione. I just wanted to snog him. And snog him I did.

If I really think, I can put myself back in that moment. I felt vivacious and beautiful and free. I felt infinitely proud of myself. And his face, mum! He looked like I had knocked his socks off, to coin a phrase. I had never really felt that way with a guy before. At sixteen years old, I'm more the type of girl to fall tragically in love from afar, cry over it for three weeks, then move onto the next guy. I've had a few casual snogs (I said I would be candid, didn't I?) but they never meant anything but snogging. I'm sure you know what it's like when a guy makes you feel beautiful, mum. It is the most fantastically phenomenal feeling that a girl can have at my age. And for someone who spends so much of her time pretending to be confident, I really needed that win. I needed to look into the mirror and see a girl who accepted herself, not a girl who faked bravado so that her personality would match the infamy of her hair color.

Perhaps things would have been different if I were a brunette.

You can probably guess what happened next. After all, there's no reason I would be writing you a letter that is already far too long if this was all about a one-time snog. I wouldn't be telling you that the events that you are about to read about changed my perspective of myself if it was a one-time snog. And obviously I wouldn't have brought Hermione into the equation if I was feeling guilty about a one-time thing. Even though she saw us snogging, it might have been different if I hadn't started dating the boy Hermione had been falling in love with since the moment she first set eyes on him.

Yep. There it is. I just admitted what you've seen coming this entire letter. I've spent the past several months in a relationship with Ronald. I liked to call him Won Won. God, I'm so obnoxious when I'm in love. Although, honestly, mum, it wasn't a real relationship. And I wasn't genuinely in love, I just fancied myself to be. Ever since I read that novel by Judy Bloom (Forever, I think it was called), all I've wanted is that relationship. The undying and everlasting teenage passion that sweeps you up and never spits you out. All I've wanted is for someone to look at me the way Ron looks at Hermione. And, of course, in my mind, the best way to get that burning connection was snogging. Relentlessly. Endlessly. Constantly. And pretty publicly. And that is pretty damn difficult to admit.

There are many things that I have learned from the events of my stupidity, but I think the biggest one is that you can't manufacture love like that. There has to be an emotional connection as well as a physical attraction. I sort of always believed that if the physical attraction was there first, the mental one could follow, but it turns out that this is not how you actually fall in love. Go figure. I mean, I suppose I should have realized that looking at the prime example in front of me. Ron and Hermione. Neither of them were particularly attractive children (going through puberty was a disaster for both of them. Though, luckily, things have gotten better now that we're all over age) but to each other that didn't matter. Once Hermione had gotten to know Ron's personality, you could tell by the way she looked at him that he was the most beautiful boy in the world to her. And vice versa. That boy has such an expressive face that anybody can tell he is in love with her. Hell, my cat knows he is in love with her. I guess I just wanted that look bestowed upon me. But, like I said, the story doesn't play out that way.

In the end, it's always Ron and Hermione.

Do you know what it's like to suddenly be the villain? You're going about your life, and it's not anything special, nor is it really conspicuous, but you're just doing the best you can. You have friends, you flirt, you go to your classes, and you eat dinner. Then, one day, you wake up and you go about all those things with eyes following you, eyes that silently judge you. No matter how well liked I was before I started dating Ron, it didn't matter. Everybody knew that I had betrayed my roommate (who was not my friend and I owed nothing to) and everybody was pissed at me for doing it. Because, let's be honest. Before I stepped in there, they had been close to it. Really close. If I hadn't gotten in the way, they possibly would have been together by Christmas.

Yeah. I know. I'm a bitch. Hindsight is 20/20, okay, mum?

When you're swept up in something as chemical as teenage romance, none of that stuff matters to you. I didn't care that all my friends were pissed off at me and annoyed with me for my actions. I didn't care that everybody was uncomfortable to be around me. I didn't care that I was acting far girlier than I had ever acted in my life (like I said, I'm a grim case when I'm in love). I didn't even care that my roommate was crying herself to sleep every night because of me, and that she was forced to try to stifle it because I was in the room and I was the one ruining her happiness. I just wanted to snog Ron, because when I was kissing him, all of that fell away. I felt desirable. I felt good for something. And I'm not going to lie and pretend that it didn't feel good to finally beat Hermione Granger to something. It did feel good. Really good.

So it went. Wake up. Snog. Go to classes. Snog. Do homework. Snog. Ron and Hermione were not on speaking terms. This lasted through a few months, through Christmas (I bought him a necklace that said "my sweetheart" on it, isn't that lovely?) and then up to March. March was Ron's seventeenth birthday. That day is also the day that he got poisoned. The beginning of the end, as I like to refer to it now. I'll never know exactly what happened in the hospital wing that night, nor will I ever know if anything happened at all. All I do know is that the next day, Ron and Hermione were back to being best friends. The furtive glances that he threw in her direction were no longer met with stiff gazes. Instead, it once more became evident how fervently she admired him in return. I began to wake up from the daydream and realize that he had never looked at me the way he had always looked at Hermione, the reason that I had wanted to be with him in the first place. It began to sting.

You can imagine what came next. I became bitter. I became jealous. And, as a result, I became horrendously clingy. There was more snogging, but this time, instead of being fun it was a bit desperate and he seemed a bit bored and I was just trying to keep him with me before he headed back to Hermione. I did this so that I could keep pretending for a little while more that we had something, that we were going to be okay. Spoilers: we were not going to be okay. We were never supposed to be okay. Truthfully, we were never supposed to be anything.

One night, I was waiting for Ron to come back to the common room. I assumed he was eating dinner, or practicing Quidditch, and I wanted to see him before I went upstairs to do some homework in the dorms. As I sat there, I suddenly saw Ron and Hermione descending from the staircase. The envy and venom that I had been feeling for weeks hastily boiled to the surface. If I close my eyes, I can still feel that pain. The pain of knowing that the person who you've made yourself vulnerable to didn't do the same for you, doesn't feel the same for you. I'd always known it, of course. But seeing them walk down that staircase… that was when the fury chose to rise up. I asked him what he was doing with her up there, obviously. What else are you supposed to ask in that situation? Now, it's pretty clear that they were just hanging out. Their lips were not swollen, their hair was not mussed up, their cheeks were not red, they weren't even trying to be discreet. Even now, they're still not dating, the daft idiots. But in my head, all I could think of was the feeling of his lips on mine, and how I was never going to have that again.

In that moment, I chose to play the part of the villain that the entire school thought of me as. There's no other way that this scene could have played out. I asked the questions that any girlfriend would ask- are you snogging her, why do you look at her like that, etc, etc, yadda yadda yadda. Hermione looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Ron had his hands shoved into his pockets and his shoulders hunched over. His face was swept up into this sheepish expression, because even though he had never physically cheated on me, he knew that he had mentally cheated so many times that he was guilty of some crime. It was that precious expression that caused me to drag him by the collar and pull him out of the portrait hole. I didn't exactly need the whole common room to hear what I was about to say.

As he leaned against the wall, I began pacing the hallway, calming down my frantically beating heart and attempting to pull myself together. When I was ready, I spun around to face him. My face was so close to his, and he looked surprised to see me there. Like we had never been that close before. Already, we were distant. Maybe we never weren't distant.

"We need to break up," I told him matter of factly. I could feel the tears threatening to spill over my eyes, but there was no way I was sacrificing that part of my dignity, too.

"Oh," he replied. "Okay."

I really would have liked a bit more of a fight, but that tosser still can't understand women, so I really don't know why I expected anything different than a quick shrug of the shoulders.

"I'm doing this because I care about you, Ron, and I know that you will make good use of your newfound freedom."

"Er… good use?" was his super eloquent reply.

"Mhmmm. Let's just say that this whole thing was an experiment to get you ready for Hermione."

"H-Hermione?"

I stared at him in disbelief for a few moments before throwing my hands into the air in frustration.

"The whole school knows that you two fancy each other! Could you just get your act together for the love of god!?"

He turned pale.

"I don't… I don't fancy her."

"Oh, shut it," I sighed, rolling my eyes. "You're not exactly subtle about it. Just… promise me that you'll ask her out soon. And promise me that you'll be good to her."

"What makes you think she'd want-?"

I pulled my wand out.

"Don't make me do something that you'll regret."

He laughed.

"Okay."

There was an uncomfortable pause, and then I joined him in leaning against the wall, remaining silent. After all that time together, it seemed strange that it was suddenly over. It wasn't like we were friends before we were dating, or even while we were dating. It didn't make sense to do anything but quit each other cold turkey. It's odd that someone who is a part of your life for months, who is so important to you, can just vanish from it in one moment, with one decision.

"So… yeah," I said, for lack of anything better. He chuckled awkwardly.

"I'm sorry, you know."

"I know," I sighed. "And, honestly, it's no one's fault but mine. You basically have property of Hermione Granger tattooed across your forehead."

I mainly said that to see his face turn bright red. I was successful. It was a pretty legendary hue.

"Number one, I do not, and number two… I'm still sorry."

"Nothing to be sorry about." I patted him awkwardly in the head. "You were a good boyfriend, Ron."

He looked at me incredulously.

"No I bloody wasn't!"

And then we were both laughing, laughing harder than we had ever laughed when we were actually together, and I realized that this mirth at our own failed relationship was the most fun I had ever had with Ron Weasley. I looked over at him and thought about how I liked the way his eyes crinkled when he laughed. Then I thought about how I had never seen him do that because of anything I had said. That boy deserved laughter, but I was not the girl who could give it to him.

"In all seriousness," I started, still giggling a little bit, "you'll be great one day. With the right girl."

"The right girl," he echoed. "Yeah."

"And some emotional maturity," I muttered under my breath, and he raised his eyebrows and looked over at me.

"What was that?"

"Nothing. Nothing at all," I smirked, and he rolled his eyes. "Ron, you should go to her."

He nodded at me, and then smiled a bit blearily at the Fat Lady as he gave her the password. As the portrait hole swung open, I saw Hermione's head spring up instantly, a look of relief splashing onto her face as she saw the tiredness in Ron's expression. She stood up when he entered, setting her book down gently. I saw her ask him something, then him replying, and then his arms opening a little bit as she ran into them. She had to stand on her tip toes as she hugged him, but she had this huge smile on her face that made relief wash over me. For the first time in months, the guilt that had been nudging me constantly was gone. Ron and Hermione. Just the way it was supposed to be.

A few more people walked through the portrait hole as the two of them hugged, and as Hermione's chin rested on Ron's shoulder, her eyes suddenly fell upon me, still standing outside. Immediately, an expression of guilt weaved itself onto her face, followed closely by concern. I could see the look in her eyes asking me if I was okay, and instantly wanted to laugh again. Of course. She's in the arms of the boy that she's in love with (really, genuinely in love with, not the stupid teenage crap that I go through) and she's worried about her roommate. All at once, I knew that this girl would never have gone after any bloke that I fancied if I had gotten him first. This is the glaring difference between us.

Well. Among other things.

I nodded at her, shrugging my shoulders and smiling at the same time. She pursed her lips and cocked her head at me to show her sorrow for my current predicament. It was well appreciated, especially because I knew that she was dancing the conga inside.

I'm sorry, I mouthed to her, and the last image I had of her before the portrait hole swung shut was an expression of surprise on her face, her chin still resting on Ron's shoulder.

This is what I know about my relationship with Hermione. We may not be best friends. Honestly, we're probably not friends at all. We have nothing in common. We are two very different girls, and there's nothing wrong with that. That's just the way it is. However, just because we are not friends, this does not mean that I owe her nothing. As a matter of fact, I owe her everything. Because there are people in this castle who I have never talked to, and they still have a profound effect on me. So Hermione, my roommate, a girl I see every day? Well. If people I barely talk to can shift who I am, she's altered me more than I can know.

They say that Hogwarts is the most magical place in the world. And yes, they're probably right, but not for the right reasons. Yes, Hogwarts is magical. Yes, there are witches and wizards and wands and broomsticks. There are students learning how to cast spells and make potions in every classroom around the school, to do things beyond anything that muggles can do. That's magic. And then there's Dumbledore's view of magic, which is music. He always says that music is a magic far beyond anything that the teachers teach at Hogwarts, and maybe he's right. But the thing that is the most magical about Hogwarts isn't the spells, or the potions, or the music, or any of that. It's the people.

Here is the thing about Hogwarts. When McGonagall says on the first day of school that your House is like your family, she could not be more correct. This place- these people- become your family. Your home. Every single damn one of them is stuck to me like glue, every one of them is a part of me, and I love them all. No matter who they are. No matter how much I talk to them. Over the nine months of the school year, we are each other's family, and the bond that forms out of that is more magical than anything I can do with a wand. They have helped me with my homework, given me guy advice, taught me how to play wizards' chess, laughed with me. They are not the people that I chose, but they were given to me anyways, and, in that, they are mine. I know all of their habits, endearing and infamous. They know mine. Sure, we all have cliques. Some of us don't hang out with the others. Some of us even go as far as to exclude some of their peers. But all families are a bit like that. Sisters that leave one sister out. A parent that has a favorite kid.

Something has to be said for the late night parties, for the betting on who will get together, on the way they aid those who are bullied, help those who are struggling, and comfort those in need. Something has to be said for the way we hold hands when we are scared and are always there for each other when it all comes down to it in the end. Something needs to be said about the way we impress little pieces of ourselves onto the other students. Everybody knows a little bit of Parvati's culture, and has learned about soccer from Dean, and picks up a bit of an Irish lilt whenever they talk to Seamus. I've seen Ginny succumb to Katie Johnson's hair care suggestions, and personally have convinced Hermione to let me put makeup on her at least two separate occasions. I don't know when this happened, but somewhere along the way, everybody gleaned a taste for everybody else's style of music, and now there's far less yelling at whoever has the radio. And I would swear to merlin that my vocabulary- that the entire House's vocabulary- has improved from Hermione being around us. It happened so gradually that none of us really noticed, but one day I realized that in September the first years had no idea what we were talking about, but by June they were using enormous words just like the rest of the Gryffindors.

We have all changed each other without even trying, and thinking about the colossal affect that a group of people can have on each other is so powerful that I do believe it is the most staggeringly magical thing I have ever heard of.

Mum, every love story has two sides. Sometimes, they even have three. Some sides are lustful and confusing. Some are dedicated and strong. Some are blissful and sweet. Some sides of the story are easier to comprehend than others. Sometimes you're the person everyone roots for, the person who is cheered for when she is kissed, the one everyone talks about for years and years after the euphoria dies out. But sometimes in the story you accidentally end up being the bad guy, the person that keeps the hero and heroine apart from each other. And sometimes no one wants to listen to your side of the love story. You're the person everyone abhors, the person that is talked about not for her love, but for her stupidity. The person that everyone maliciously claps for when she exits the stage and the curtain closes behind her. Even that person has a side of the story. Even that person has a reason for everything that she does. Even if everyone loathes every word she speaks, every breath she takes, there is a purpose for her. Maybe she doesn't want to be hated. Maybe she is pure evil, and that's the way it is.

In this story, I was that girl. No one rooted for me. Even I understood that I was keeping two soul mates apart. Someday, I know, I'll have my time. I'll find someone who treats me right and loves me unconditionally. Iwill be the girl who is cheered for. Iwill be the girl whose story makes everyone cry. Unfortunately, right now I do not have that luxury. Thankfully, though, the door in which I was the villain is closed firmly behind me.

We all know that there's a war coming on. We see it in the papers every day, we see it in the eyes of the teachers and in the careful writing of our parents. The thing is, though, wars are a time to find out who your true friends are, who your true loves are. They're a time when you're going to cry and desperately clutch someone's hand for some form, any form, of consolation.

I'm ready for it. I think I'm ready for it. When the war comes, I will be prepared to fight, to do anything to defend the school and people that I love. To do anything to defend life as I know it. Maybe one day I'll fall in love, but right now, I don't think I'm ready. I need to grow up, just like Ron did. I need to learn how to fully be the girl that I am when I'm talking to you, and how to be her around my peers. I need to find a boy who will love both sides of me. There's the possibility that I never will, and perhaps that is the scariest prospect of all to me. Perhaps that is what propelled my actions throughout this year. I don't exactly know. What I do know is that I'm too strong, too special, and too not Hermione to ever, ever be in a functioning and healthy relationship with Ron Weasley.

So I'm already gone.

-Lavender xx