The Leaky Cauldron looked shabbier than ever.
Well, that wasn’t true. The Leaky Cauldron hadn’t changed. It was an institution. It had probably remained open, serving drinks and gossip, even as Parvati and her friends had fought and bled at Hogwarts.
But it was true that after a summer spent with her family in Magical Paris, Parvati was primed to notice all the flaws in the old pub that she normally would’ve overlooked.
She was still thinking about this when Lavender— fresh out of St. Mungo’s— joined her. After hugs and greetings, Parvati shared what she’d been thinking about.
“Well,” Lavender said, running her finger around the rim of her Butterbeer, “It’s not like there’s anywhere else, is there?”
Parvati conceded the point with a tip of her head. “Not in Diagon Alley.”
“Hogsmeade has The Three Broomsticks and Madam Puddifoot’s,” Lavender said.
“And The Hog’s Head,” Parvati added, wrinkling her nose. Lavender made a face in agreement.
Madam Puddifoot’s was the only cafe that Parvati knew of in Wizarding Britain, and while Parvati quite liked it, she’d never seen anyone older than Hogwarts age there.
She pushed her hair back from her face. “There’s a lot of empty storefronts on the Alley.”
Lavender frowned. “You want to—”
Parvati grabbed Lavender’s hand. “I think we should open the best cafe in Magical Britain!” After everything they’d been through, nothing seemed impossible anymore.
The Sunrise Cafe would be located midway down Diagon Alley, halfway between Gringott’s and the Leaky Cauldron, in a space that used to be occupied by a high-end apothecary. They were uncomfortably close to the eyesore that was Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes (Parvati did not relish the thought of looking out the window at all that orange), but maybe the crowds that flocked to that store would be good for business.
When Parvati arrived at the still-empty storefront, Lavender was already inside, waiting.
As her friend turned around, Parvati gasped, then hated herself for it. Lavender had altered her robes to have a lower neckline; it showed the scars that Fenrir Greyback had left on her, from her neck down.
Lavender lifted her chin. “I’m not going to hide them.”
“Of course not!” Parvati exclaimed. “I just— I hadn’t realized.” She’d seen Lavender in the immediate aftermath, before she’d been rushed away to St. Mungo’s. It wasn’t fair, that Lavender had permanent werewolf scars over half her body.
But then, nothing had been fair for a while now.
Parvati shook herself out of her funk. “So, I think we should paint the outside a nice blue—” she glared again at Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes. “And maybe inside some nice warm yellows?”
Lavender clapped her hands together. “I love it! The counter over there, do you think?” She gestured to the far wall.
“Exactly! And we can have all those little tables—”
“Like Madam Puddifoot’s, but better!”
They let out a squeal and hugged each other. This was going to be fantastic.
Parvati frowned at the espresso machine. It was a specialty version that was supposed to work at the wave of her wand, but it wasn’t cooperating.
She knew all about tea: drinking it, and brewing it, and reading tea leaves. And Lavender had gone to talk to a family friend who imported teas, to see if they could get a good source on that.
Really, it was just the coffee giving them trouble.
A knock on the door made Parvati look up. When she saw Padma peering through the window, Parvati jumped up to let her sister inside.
Padma walked through the front door and waved a handful of flash cards at Parvati. “Quiz me?”
“What for? We aren’t in school anymore.” Padma had surprised the rest of their family when she’d announced that she wasn’t going to go back to Hogwarts with their classmates to re-do their seventh year. But Parvati couldn’t blame her— not when she’d made the same choice.
“I’m joining the Aurors.”
Parvati raised her eyebrows. Wasn’t that just like Padma, to make a decision without any input and then announce it as if Parvati should have already known? “I thought you were getting a job at the Ministry.”
“The Aurors are part of the Ministry.”
Parvati rolled her eyes. “There’s no need to nitpick.”
Padma held out the flash cards in a gesture that was half demanding, half conciliatory.
“Fine.” Parvati snatched the cards. “But only if you fix my espresso machine.”
When Lavender returned a few hours later, it was to a scene of Parvati and Padma, surrounded by cups of coffee, flash cards with Auror regulations long-since discarded.
When the cafe finally opened, Parvati was seized by a stab of fear. She and Lavender had poured their hearts into this place, but what everyone else thought it was a waste of time?
When she confessed her worries to Lavender, Lavender grabbed her by the shoulders. “We’re Gryffindors, Parv. This is no time to stop being brave.”
Parvati had never thought either of them were particularly brave. But Lavender had altered every single robe in her wardrobe to show off her scars from the Battle of Hogwarts, and dared the whole world to stare at her. Parvati had refused to leave Hogwarts, even when her parents wanted her to.
If bravery was about what you did, and not what you felt, then maybe they were both braver than Parvati had always thought.
“Alright,” Parvati said, smiling at Lavender. “Let’s do this.”