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i: my little flower princess

Before she came to Hogwarts, Parvati shared a bright, sunny bedroom with her twin Padma. Even though they were now big girls, old enough to attend the exclusive Miss Bridgerton's Academy for Wee Witches every afternoon, they often sneaked into each other's beds at night to gossip about the other girls at school. Padma, shy and bookish, had been looking forward to lessons but not to playing with other children; Parvati had always been playmate enough. For her part, Parvati thought the new friends were the best part of school, but the lessons were difficult. Each night they would whisper encouragement and reinforcement to each other until well past bedtime, and fall asleep with their arms and legs entwined.

Then one early fall evening, as they were eating dinner, Padma said, "Vati, I don't think we should sleep in each other's beds anymore. We're too old for such childishness."

Parvati could only stare. She swallowed her mouthful of dal. "Who did you tell, Padi?"

"Pansy Parkinson said it was a funny thing for sisters to do. Even twins."

"Pansy Parkinson is a—"

"Vati! She is a talented witch from a good family. We should follow her example."

"She's just jealous because she hasn't got a sister!"

Padi didn't reply, but instead took a bite of chicken and chewed it deliberately. Padi always did things just so, and it never did Vati any good to rush her, so she channeled her impatience into making her rice into the shape of a snake.

"I know you don't like Pansy," Padi said at last. "But we're ten now and that's too old. We won't be able to share a bed at Hogwarts, so we should get used to it now."

Vati stared at her plate. She would just have to accept it, and anyway, Padi was right about Hogwarts. They probably wouldn't even be in the same house, unless they both were sorted into Slytherin. She sighed, determined to make the best of it.

This did not, however, keep her from pushing Pansy into the mud the next day when the teachers weren't looking.

Neville, his face tear-streaked, clutching his wrist, hobbled off with Madam Hooch, who had her arm around him.
No sooner were they out of earshot than Malfoy burst into laughter.
"Did you see his face, the great lump?"
The other Slytherins joined in.
"Shut up, Malfoy," snapped Parvati Patil.
"Ooh, sticking up for Longbottom?" said Pansy Parkinson, a hard-faced Slytherin girl. "Never thought you'd like fat little crybabies, Parvati."
—Philosopher's Stone, p.110

After dinner, Granger, who thus far had not made a very favorable impression on Vati, said, "Thank you for sticking up for Neville, in front of that Malfoy."

Lavender added, "I think that was very brave of you to say something in front of all those people."

"Draco Malfoy is just a bully, and the less people pay him any mind the better off we will be. But Pansy Parkinson is a horrible girl. She lies about everyone and is jealous and mean. She isn't happy unless someone else is unhappy. It's disgusting." Vati looked up and realized she must have been speaking quite passionately, as her roommates were both staring at her, Granger in confused surprise, Lavender in open admiration.

"Well," Granger said awkwardly, "thank you for that information. She certainly doesn't seem very pleasant." And with that, she grabbed her things and departed, most likely for the library.

Vati sighed. She couldn't understand why Granger was making things so hard on herself. She hoped that Padi was having better success making friends in Ravenclaw.

"I'm going to study in the common room tonight," Lavender said. "Would you like to share a table with me?"

Vati was surprised. Lavender, Muggle-born and overwhelmed by Hogwarts in general, had been wary of the common room, preferring to study in their bedroom, and Parvati had been keeping her company. Truth be told, Vati was a bit lonely and afraid herself. It had been easy to be brave in grammar school when she had to protect Padi. Now with only herself to worry about, it was more difficult. But Lavender, while not really very much like Padi at all, needed a bit of bolstering, herself.

"Yes, thank you." Vati replied. "Let me get my things."

The two girls found a tiny table in the corner that had two chairs at it and claimed it as their own. Some years on, they still shared that same small table. Though they said later that they kept it for its vantage point—from their table they could see into nearly every nook and cranny of the common room, which was a must for keeping up with gossip—secretly, Vati liked it because it forced them to sit together so closely. It was like sharing a bed with Padi.

Only, not like it at all.

And still, Harry hadn't asked Cho to the ball . . .
He found it hard to concentrate on Snape's Antidote test, and consequently forgot to add the key ingredient—a bezoar—meaning that he received bottom marks. He didn't care though; he was too busy screwing up his courage for what he was about to do. When the bell rang, he grabbed his bag, and hurried to the dungeon door.
—Goblet of Fire, p.345

As Parvati and Lavender walked out of the Potions exam—well, they walked, but Harry nearly knocked Parvati over as he ran out of the room—Seamus took Lavender aside, a serious expression on his face. Parvati and Dean walked back up to Gryffindor Tower in silence. They were often thrown together, but she suddenly realized that they had never really had an independent conversation, and she felt a bit awkward. As they reached the staircases to the dorms, Dean looked as though he was about to say something, so she waited. But nothing came, only a smile, so Parvati went up the girls staircase.

Waiting for Lavender, she sat in her room, looking at her Divination charts, which were unclear. She had found that this happened whenever there were decisions yet to be made, when things could go in two different directions, though they often cleared up soon enough, if left to their own devices. She had long since given up trying to do any of Harry's charts, though lately, her own had been nearly as opaque as his. She made a mental note to talk to Trelawney about it at the first opportunity. As she set them aside she looked up to see Lavender practically bouncing into the room.

"He asked me! He asked me!" She twirled around, her long yellow hair flying out around her head, then flopped onto her bed, breathless with excitement. "I am going to the Yule Ball with Seamus Finnigan!"

Parvati smiled widely. "I'm so happy for you! I told you he would!" She joined Lavender on her bed.

Lavender lay on her back, a dreamy smile on her face. "He's so caring, Parvati! So gentle and funny and passionate and oh, every good thing."

"He certainly isn't afraid of a crying girl," Parvati added.

Lavender rolled onto her side and propped her head up on her hand. "No, he isn't! He does have all those sisters; perhaps that's why. Oh, and his hair! And his clothes! He always looks so perfectly turned out, like he cares about his looks, so much more than other boys!"

"He does seem the very thing," Parvati agreed.

"Our children will be blonde, and they'll know about the wizarding world and the Muggle world, and if we have daughters they will go to Miss Bridgerton's, and we will live in a big house on a hill and everyone will admire us." She smiled, then suddenly stopped smiling and sat up. "Oh, Parvati, I'm sorry! I just went on about myself!"

"No, no! You had good news."

"Did anyone . . . "

Parvati shook her head.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Parvati. I'm very sure someone will, someone wonderful, when you least expect it."

"Well, it isn't as though I have my heart set on anyone anyway."

"What about Dean? You like him, and he's taller than you are, as well."

"Well, if he wants to ask me, he should do it himself. I won't have you or Seamus asking for him." She crossed her arms, scowling slightly.

Lavender nodded. "I don't blame you. If he wants you he should be willing to do a little bit of work." She swung her legs over the side of her bed. "Well, perhaps we should make you more visible. You'll never be asked if you are hiding up here! I say we go down to the dinner and see who is there."

Parvati smiled at this. "You know, you're right. Let's go. I have a feeling that something will happen, actually." She stood, and Lavender did as well.

"Your feelings always turn into something," Lavender said as they walked out the door. "Mine never do."

"They will!" Parvati insisted. "You just have to be open. I imagine that the feeling you have for Seamus will turn into something."

Lavender smiled. "Oh, I do hope so!"

Later that evening, after dinner, after being asked to the ball by Harry Potter, Parvati returned to her room and was surprised to see that her chart hadn't cleared up at all.

ii: i found out

"You came out?" Hermione asked.
Seamus nodded.
"Of the closet?"
Seamus looked down at his cup and nodded again. . . .
"Have you told Lavender?" Hermione asked.
Seamus nodded. "When I got to England, we met so I could tell her in person. As you can imagine, I'm at the top of the Brown-Patil shit list these days. . . ."
—Eight Ways from Sunday, Prologue

Parvati opened one eye. The bedroom curtains were closed, making the room semi-dark even though morning had come. She closed her eyes, trying to sleep again, but no, she was well awake.

She stretched, then rolled over carefully so as not to disturb her bedmate. Lavender was sleeping on her side, facing Parvati, just as they had fallen asleep after hours of talking the night before. "Beauty sleep" was true in her case, as the hours had erased the puffiness from around her eyes and the redness from her creamy skin. Her long flaxen hair fanned out behind her across her pillow, and her mouth was slightly open. She shifted slightly, and opened her brown eyes.

"Mmm, morning, Vati," she mumbled.

"Good morning," Parvati whispered. "Feel better for sleep?"

"A bit,"she replied, rubbing her eyes. "Though, nothing has changed." She sighed.

Parvati bent her arm and leaned on her hand. "No, but I have an idea."

Lavender looked at her, confused, but before she could ask there was a knock at the door.

"Yes, come in," Parvati called out.

Into the room came a house elf, her hands full with a breakfast tray which she set on a table near Parvati's bed. She walked over to the window and opened the curtains, then silently left the room.

Parvati sat up and poured them each a cup of tea, then grabbed a piece of toast and slid back in the bed, her pillows at her back.

Lavender took a deep swallow, then asked, "So, what is this idea?"

Parvati slid out of the covers, tea still in hand, and walked over to her desk. She retrieved a small book with a Hogwarts crest on it, plus quill, ink and parchment, then got back into bed. "My idea is to find us each a new boyfriend, using this."

Lavender, who had appropriated Parvati's half-eaten slice of toast, leaned closer. "The Class Register?"

Parvati nodded. "It won't be updated until the sorting, but we don't care about new first years anyhow."

"Certainly not," Lavender agreed. "We should limit it to our year and the two years above."

Parvati flipped to Slytherin House. "I think we can likely eliminate these boys straight away, don't you?"

Lavender nodded. "Not worth the effort, a single one of them."

"Right then. Let's start with the Hufflepuff seventh years. Matthew McDonough is dating Jan Corner. David Nesbit?"

"No, he asked out Katie, remember? And he was all hands, and reluctant to accept her 'no' for an answer?"

Parvati shuddered. "Well, he will have to accept it from us, then. Timothy Summers?"

Lavender shrugged. "I've never spoken to him. Put him on the list."

"Greg Summerby."

"Only if he cuts his hair."

Parvati nodded in agreement. "On to sixth years. Zacharias Smith?"

"Rude, bad tempered, but not nearly attractive enough to make it worth putting up with."

"Which is unfortunate for him," Parvati replied. "Geoffrey Stebbins is also out."


"He proclaimed to Susan Bones, quite loudly, his complete disdain for Divination!"

Lavender looked shocked. "How dare he!"

"Indeed. So you see, he will not suit." She crossed off his name with a bit more energy than was strictly required.

Lavender slid closer so that she could read the book over Parvati's shoulder. "The other sixth years have girlfriends. So does Wayne Hopkins. But I think we should put down all of those 'taken' boys on a separate list. After all, a lot can happen over a summer, can't it?"

Parvati looked up and saw fresh tears in Lavender's eyes. "Oh, darling," she whispered, setting the quill aside and putting one arm over her shoulder. "I'm so sorry about Seamus."

"I should have known," Lavender said, sniffling a bit. "He always did dress a bit too well. But, oh, Vati, I did hope . . . . " She turned, burying her face in Parvati's neck.

Parvati embraced Lavender, rocking a bit as they sat on the bed. "It wasn't anything to do with you. I'm very sure of that."

"That's what he said," Lavender mumbled, her voice muffled.

"Well, I believe him," Parvati said. "He didn't mean to hurt you."

Lavender pulled away. "But he did!" she shouted. "He did, and it isn't fair, and damn him! Damn him and his homosexuality!" She looked up and saw Parvati's shocked expression. "I suppose I shouldn't say that, should I? But why did he have to come out? He is making everyone miserable!"

"Would you rather he stayed with you and lied?"

Lavender sighed. "No, I suppose not. But then he shouldn't have been with me in the first place!"

"He said he hadn't known."

"How could he not know?"

"Perhaps he didn't want to know," Parvati replied. "Perhaps he didn't want it to be true."

Lavender sniffled again, wiping her nose with her napkin. "Perhaps." She let out a long, heavy sigh. "Let's keep going on the list."

"Are you sure you don't want to—"

"NO. Keep going," Lavender said, picking up the Register. "Fifth year Hufflepuffs is where we left off, right? Well, I think we can leave Finch-Fletchley off the list, can't we? Though perhaps we should put him on a list for Seamus."

Parvati put one hand on Lavender's arm. "Don't be bitter. It's beneath you, and unattractive."

Lavender nodded. "You're right, of course. And anyway, I wouldn't wish him on Seamus. He's a bit controlling, that one. Seamus deserves better than that." She smiled a little.

Parvati smiled back. "That's my girl. Now, Ernie Macmillan has been wanting to ask you out for forever."

"I know. He's just so dreadfully uninteresting."

"But he's kind, and pleasant looking, and he has a rather large allowance to buy things with." She looked up at Lavender, and they both giggled.

"Well, maybe if he buys me very pretty things," Lavender said, and laughed again.

"Good to hear you're feeling a bit better, Lavender," said a voice in the doorway.

Parvati looked up. "Padma, please come in," she said. Ever since they had started school, they had come home to separate rooms, instead of their old shared one. Parvati had to admit, she appreciated the larger bed and the increased closet space. She and her twin had insisted, however, that a connecting door be built in the wall in between, a door that was open nearly all the time, which made it seem like they were just sharing one large room.

Only, not quite.

Padma came in wearing a robe over her pajamas, a tea cup from her own breakfast tray in her hand, and settled on the foot of the bed. "I heard you dispatching with all the Hufflepuffs," she said.

"Yes," Parvati said. "We are looking for new boys for Lavender to date."

"I thought we were looking for you, too, darling," Lavender said, a little confused.

Parvati opened her mouth to speak, but her voice caught. She coughed a little. "Of course, for me as well," she said, and took a sip of tea, not looking Lavender in the eye. In spite of herself, she glanced at her sister, who was looking at her curiously.

"So is Gryffindor next?" Padma asked.

Lavender made a disgusted snort.

"What? No love for your own house?" Padma asked, teasing.

Lavender cleared her throat. "Gryffindor Seventh Years. Lee Jordan. Frederick Weasley. George Weasley." She looked at Padma over the top of the book and shook her head. "Gryffindor Sixth Years. Geoffrey Hooper."

"A pincher," said Parvati flatly.

"Andrew Kirke," Lavender continued.

"Shorter than Hermione."

"Jack Sloper."

"Almost as obsessed with Quidditch as Oliver Wood."

"Kenneth Towler."

"Thinks that a date consists of bringing a girl to Honeydukes and proclaiming, 'Anything you want, baby! I've got a Galleon in my pocket with your name on it!' and winking suggestively." Parvati shuddered with the memory.

Padma laughed, patting Parvati on the ankle.

"And our own year is no better," Lavender added. "Neville is a sweet boy but really, just hopeless, and Dean is far too close to Seamus."

"What about Harry?" Padma asked.

"Did you go to the same Yule Ball I did, Padi?" Parvati asked. "Not a top dating experience. Besides, he still has that crush on Cho Chang, I think."

Padma pushed a lock of hair behind one ear. "And Ron Weasley?" she asked with exaggerated casualness before taking a sip of tea.

"Still dazzled by our roommate, I'm afraid," Lavender said, shaking her head.

"Oh," Padma said. "I thought she was dating that Krum fellow?"

"She is, but that doesn't seem to have cooled Ron any," Parvati replied. "I'm sorry, Padi."

Padma, drinking more tea, waved her hand. "No, please. It's nothing to me, surely. And as you said, not a top dating experience." She smiled a bit, then said, "So is Ravenclaw next?"

"Yes," Parvati said, "and we would appreciate your help."

"I don't know," Lavender said. "Those Ravenclaw boys are so intimidating."

Padma shook her head. "Don't let them fool you. As soon as they get their noses out of their books, they are just as much boys as any of the rest."

"And you're so pretty, Lavender," Parvati continued. "I'm sure you can distract them."

Lavender beamed. "Do you think so?" she asked. "Well, so are you, darling. Both of you, of course!"

Parvati flushed slightly. "Thank you, Lavender. Well, right then. Padma, what can you tell us about Terry Boot?"

"That he is a pretentious idiot?" Padma replied. "Is that what you're looking for?"

Parvati and Lavender answered her by collapsing into giggles on the bed.

iii: whatever gets you through the night

As soon as they left the [Solstice Ball in the] Great Hall, Seamus and Dean broke into a run. They dashed up the endless sets of stairs to Gryffindor Tower, adrenaline fueling their muscles. As they neared the Fat Lady they shouted the password so that by the time they came around the corner, she had already opened and they leaped through the portrait hole. They sped past the surprised younger students in the common room and up even more stairs into their own dorm room.
—Eight Ways from Sunday, ch 13

"Well," Lavender was saying, "that was another mediocre ball."

Parvati nodded. "Uneventful."

They were sitting together in their usual small corner of the Gryffindor common room, the one they had been relegated to first year but had held on to because it was both semi-hidden and provided a view of nearly the entire room, particularly the door. After all, if a girl was to keep up with gossip, she had to see who came into the room together and who didn't. When they were young the little nook with its table and settee was perfect, even roomy, but as they'd grown, they were forced to sit closer together.

Parvati didn't mind this in the least.

Now, as usual when they weren't working, they sat sideways on the settee with their legs in each other's laps. This position was made slightly more awkward by their Solstice Ball dress robes, but they managed.

"Ernie didn't even try anything, and he's such a terrible dancer," Lavender continued. "I'm tired of waiting for him."

"So don't wait," Parvati said.

Lavender raised an eyebrow. "What do you propose I do?"

"Move on."

"To whom? Any suggestions?"

"No," Parvati admitted. "So give Ernie more encouragement."

"I couldn't give him more encouragement unless I jumped on top of him!"

"Maybe that's what you should do."

Lavender looked up at Parvati, shocked. Then they both collapsed into giggles.

"Can you imagine," Lavender said, still laughing, "the look on his face if I did that?"

"I'd like a photo if you do," Parvati replied.

"No, I'd say this is the end of Ernie." Lavender was silent for a moment, scowling, then added, "Well, better luck next time, I hope."

"I'm sure of it, Lavender. What man in his right mind wouldn't want you?" She smiled.

Lavender smiled back. "Thanks. But what about you? What went on with Frank? I barely saw you at all, but I supposed you were with those other Ravenclaw seventh years."

"Oh, it was fine," Parvati replied vaguely. "He's a sweet boy but I think we should just stay friends."

"You say that every time. No boy can meet your standards for a boyfriend?"

"I suppose not." She shrugged. "Let's go up to bed. I want to get out of this corset."

They were unsurprised to find that Hermione wasn't back in the room quite yet. Lavender sat on her bed and slid off her gold evening slippers. "I wonder where our other housemate is."

Parvati, who was toeing off her own shoes, raised her eyebrows. "Who would have thought that relationship would be quite so . . . ." She paused

"Lusty? Earthy?"

"Physical. She lives so much in her head." Parvati pulled at the lacing of her corset.

"Certainly I wouldn't have predicted it. One wonders where she finds the time between her Very Serious Prefect Duties and her daily minimum four hours in the library."

"She doesn't sleep," Parvati replied. "She goes to the library early in the morning. Pince gave her a key."

"I wonder what Harry has that Ron didn't. She certainly didn't sacrifice sleep to snog Ron," Lavender said. She unfastened the clasps at her shoulders, and the top slid down to rest on her hips.

Parvati tried not to stare at the creamy skin of Lavender's bare stomach, to no avail. She shook her head slightly to clear it. "I think she was afraid of his, you know. Their sixth roommate, as Seamus called it."

Lavender giggled. "Who wouldn't be at least wary? Though I can't believe your sister didn't know!"

Parvati laughed, too. "Good thing we told her, because she met up with him in Shay's room at the inn right after we finished shopping."

"Really? Well, better then than tonight I suppose." She paused for a moment, then threw her hands up in frustration. "Argh!"

"What is it?"

"Hermione and Harry, Ron and your sister, Ginny and Draco, Neville and Susan—even Seamus and Dean finally stopped fighting tonight! Everyone is snogging someone but me! I'm sorry, Parvati, but I am sixteen and I am horny as hell and I want some fucking action! Seamus gave me more play than Ernie did and that was two years ago and he is GAY!"

Parvati blinked, surprised at Lavender's outburst, though it wasn't as though she didn't feel just the same. "What sort of action do you want?" she asked, slowly and softly.

Lavender shrugged. "I'm tired of having to use my own hand. Or at least I want someone to think about while I do besides Kirley McCormick."

Parvati swallowed hard and made her hands into fists to keep them from shaking. "How about using someone else's hand?"

Lavender's eyes widened. "Do you mean, you and me?"

Parvati nodded. "It would kill two birds with one stone. Or something." She held her breath, watching Lavender think.

At last she said, "You would do that? With me?"

"It happens all the time, doesn't it?" Parvati asked, stepping closer to Lavender. "It wouldn't mean anything. It wouldn't mean—"

"That we're gay or something, or girlfriends," Lavender finished.

Parvati shook her head. "We're just best friends who are helping each other through a dry spell." She was standing right in front of Lavender now, and she reached out to rest her hand lightly on the other girl's waist. She leaned in closer, so that their lips were nearly touching, and put her other hand on Lavender's cheek.

"Nothing wrong with that," Lavender whispered, her breath warm against Parvati's lips.

Parvati leaned in closer and kissed her softly, not wanting to go too fast, but Lavender was as good as her word. She put both arms around Parvati's waist and pulled their bodies close together as she deepened the kiss. Parvati felt lightheaded. Lavender was easing her tongue into her mouth and it was so passionate. Nothing at all like Frank, or Ted, or any of the other boys who'd kissed her. Ernie had missed out on a good thing, clearly.

Finally Lavender pulled away. "We should undress and get into bed before Hermione comes back," she said, breathless, then smiled.

"By all means," Parvati replied. She slipped her hands to Lavender's hips and pulled at the snaps there, and the dress slid down her legs. She stepped out of it and Parvati scooped it up, turning to hang it in the wardrobe. She could hear Lavender walk closer to her, then felt her corset strings loosening. She lifted her arms and Lavender pulled the heavy crimson fabric over her head, then hung it next to her own formal robes in the wardrobe.

They stood side by side, staring ahead, then Parvati saw the door of the wardrobe close.

"Come on, then," Lavender said. Parvati turned to look at her and she was smiling, her warm brown eyes twinkling. She held out her hand and Parvati turned and took it, and they walked over to Lavender's bed.

Years of late-night gossiping next to a studious roommate served them well, as both girls were proficient with silencing charms—and as Hermione would think nothing of her two roommates sharing a bed behind unnaturally still, quiet curtains. Their wands, hung from opposite corners of the bed, cast a soft glow against the white sheets and scarlet curtains.

Their preparations finished, they sat next to each other in the center of the bed, Parvati in black tights and the thin crimson camisole she'd worn under her corset, while Lavender wore the special lingerie she'd bought in hopes of impressing Ernie: a dark brown lacy bra, matching panties, and shimmering gold thigh-high stockings. Parvati ran her hand along Lavender's silky leg from ankle to bare thigh, then kissed her. This time Parvati was dominant, sliding her tongue into Lavender's mouth as her hand moved further up her thigh and then to her hip. Lavender kissed back eagerly, reaching her hands under Parvati's camisole and sliding it up, her fingers caressing her back as she did so.

Parvati pulled away long enough for Lavender to pull her camisole off, and made short work of her bra. Parvati ran her hands along Lavender's chest, feeling the breasts that were just a bit more than a handful, rubbing the pale pink nipples lightly with her thumbs. Lavender hummed, her head rolling back, and her yellow hair slid off her shoulders. Parvati's hands moved lower, across the stomach she'd been coveting earlier, and she traced the hips curve out from the tiny waist. Her thumbs hooked under the band of the small panties and Lavender lifted her hips to allow Parvati to slip them off her legs. She knelt before Lavender, running her hands along the shapely legs again, and said, "I think we should leave these on." She was surprised at the huskiness of her own voice.

Lavender smiled. "Okay, but not yours." She sat up and pushed the tights down over Parvati's hips, her hands caressing Parvati's arse as she did so, then down the thighs and Parvati sat down to let Lavender remove them completely. Then she reached up to pull Lavender down to her, kissing her firmly, feeling their skin and the silk of the stockings as they slid against each other. Parvati rolled them over so that she was laying on top of Lavender, their legs entwined. Hands moved everywhere as they kissed, exploring this new territory, so unexpectedly soft and smooth.

Then Parvati slipped her hand lower, between Lavender's legs, and it was wet and soft and she tried to remember what she did, herself. She was clumsy at first, she knew, and a little tentative, but Lavender was sighing so nicely in her ear and her shoulder tasted so salty and clean and Parvati calmed down, and focussed on what her fingers were doing. Lavender moaned her encouragement, then slid a long-fingered hand from Parvati's hip to her pussy and Parvati cried out, too, and reclaimed Lavender's lips with her own.

They shifted, moving their hands a bit and straddling each other's thighs, and Parvati began to slide up and down, and Lavender pushed up against her. Parvati grabbed hold of Lavender's waist, and her hands were around Parvati's back, and they moved together but sometimes not, in an erratic rhythm, gasping and moaning and sighing and crying out, little high-pitched squeaks and oh's. And she could smell the remnants of their perfume and also sweat and something else, muskier, that she'd never smelled before. Lavender's legs gripped her harder, and Parvati started to move faster, and it was so very nice, and she could feel Lavender's wetness on her thigh and her fingers, and the very top of Lavender's stocking was rubbing against her clit in just the perfect way. They weren't kissing much now, but making a good deal of noise, and the bed was moving a bit, and then Lavender shouted out quite loudly and tensed up, and Parvati moved again, faster, and then she was coming too, shouting high-pitched and shrill, and then both girls collapsed back onto the bed, panting.

"Oh, Vati," Lavender said, breathless, "that was better than anything else, ever. But, can I ask one thing?" she continued.

Parvati smiled, turning to look at her friend. "Anything."

"Can we take my stockings off now? They itch."

Parvati started to giggle, in spite of herself, in spite of wanting to preserve the moment forever and take a mental picture of every moment of it because it was so pretty. Then Lavender started to giggle, and they stripped Lavender's stockings off, laughing all the time. Then they lay back down on the bed together, embracing and kissing a last time before they drifted off to sleep.

iv: gimme some truth

It was a particularly dismal mid-January evening, with storm clouds obscuring all the stars on the Great Hall ceiling, but to Parvati the sun had been shining nonstop for three weeks. She looked up from her dinner to see her sister, and her boyfriend, sitting down next to her at the Gryffindor table.

"Hello there!" Padma said. "Where's your other half?"

"What other half?" she snapped.

"Lavender of course!" Padma replied.

"She isn't my other half! Why would she be my other half?"

"I was only teasing you! Because you're such close friends and inseparable and all that."

"Well, it just implies—"

"Oh stop being so touchy! I wasn't implying anything." She looked at her sister, who was nervously making her potatoes into the shape of a cat. "Unless—Oh, Vati."

Parvati looked up. "Nothing has happened," she whispered.

Padma raised an eyebrow.

"Okay," Parvati admitted in a whisper, "but it's only two friends helping each other. Nothing more. Happens all the time at school. Practically a tradition. It doesn't mean we're gay."

Padma shook her head. "What if you were?"

"What?" she whispered, sharply.

"What if one of you were?" Padma asked, putting her hand over her sister's. "You might want it to be more than just helping out a friend. And that would be upsetting for everyone."

"Well, that isn't going to happen because neither of us are!" Parvati protested, pulling her hand away.

Padma sighed. "Vati, I just want you to be careful."

Parvati stood up from the table. "I will thank you to stay out of my affairs! Just because you are eleven minutes older and have a boyfriend does not mean you know better than I!" And with that, she stormed out of the Great Hall.

The Gryffindor table sat silent for a moment before returning to the usual dull roar. Padma looked down at her plate but found she had lost her appetite.

"Wow," Ron said.


"I never noticed it before, but when she gets angry she sounds just like your mum."

"Thank you, Ron. What a helpful observation."

He grinned at her, then asked, "Are you going to finish those beets?"

"No, Ron, you can have the lot," she said, sliding her plate over to him. She looked up toward the door, though she didn't know why, as Parvati had long since left the hall.

Parvati walked back from her private Divination tutorial a bit earlier than scheduled. Trelawney had been oddly distracted, except when they discussed the Emotional Attachment charts. Trelawney had said that the unusually dense fog that surrounded the castle that day made reading any signs futile, but Parvati suspected it had something to do with the potions master, and that aspect of their lives, she felt, did not require her scrutiny.

As she reached the bottom of the stairs from North Tower she heard a familiar giggle from the Charms corridor beyond. Had Lavender come to meet her, as Dean so often did with Seamus? After all, they had been "laying together," as Lavender referred to it, for over a month now, and Friday would be Valentine's Day. Perhaps, for the first time, she too would have someone of her own.

She walked quickly down the corridor toward the voice, which came from one of the classrooms. It would be so like Lavender to be planning a surprise, Parvati thought as she pushed open the door.

What she saw certainly was surprising. There were no lights on in the room, but by the eerie glow of the fog outside the windows, she could see Lavender leaning back against the wall of the classroom, with Ernie MacMillan nibbling at her nick. Parvati stood staring, too shocked to speak or even move. She had been kissing that neck just two nights before. She had been making Lavender call out her name for the last six weeks. She wanted to run away to find a place to think; she wanted to pull Ernie's dirty paws off her Lavender; she wanted to slap her friend across the face for betraying her; she wanted to scream so loud that everyone in the castle came running to see what she saw; she wanted to close her eyes and erase this moment from her memory forever. But she did none of these things. She merely stayed, and tried to breathe.

After an eternity, Lavender looked up. Her eyes flew wide open, seeing Parvati there in the door, staring, her mouth agape. "Oh!" she gasped, and pushed Ernie away.

He turned and looked up at the door where Parvati stood and grinned at her sheepishly.

Suddenly, rage flared within Parvati, and she found her voice. "What's this, then?" she asked coldly.

"Ernie walked me back from Herbology," Lavender replied, "and we were talking about this and that, and so we came in here, and one thing led to another I suppose." She smiled at Ernie.

"Apparently so," Parvati replied.

Ernie kissed Lavender quickly on the cheek and darted out of the room. Parvati closed the door behind him.

"Is something wrong?" Lavender asked. "You look upset."

"I thought you were done with Ernie."

"I was, but he was so sweet, and he made me laugh, and I thought that perhaps I was too hasty, or choosy, and I should give him another chance."

"I see."

"Are you cross, Parvati? I didn't mean to keep anything from you, it just happened so quickly —"

"What about us?"

"What about us? How would this change our friendship? You like Ernie well enough, don't you?"

"No. Well, yes, of course, but I mean — what about what we've been doing?"

"Oh! I hadn't thought about that. I suppose we'll have to stop, won't we? I mean, if things become serious with Ernie." Lavender furrowed her brow.

Hadn't thought about that? Parvati thought. "You suppose so?" she asked aloud.

"Well, I'm not sure it's really cheating since you're a girl but I don't know if Ernie would agree. Anyway I don't think I could do much more than kiss someone if it wasn't exclusive."

"And we weren't exclusive? You did a great deal more than kiss me."

"But darling, that was different, like we said. It didn't really count in that way."

"Didn't count?"

"It wasn't serious, it was just scratching an itch. It didn't mean anything. We're not gay!"

Parvati slumped against the closed door. "Oh, Lavender, I think I am."

Lavender looked puzzled. "Am what, darling?"

"Am a lesbian. I — I think I am." She bent her knees and slid down the door to the floor. "Fuck." She buried her face in her hands.

Lavender tried not to gasp. This was indeed entirely unexpected. Her mother had always said she was unobservant and here was the proof of it—again! "Oh, Parvati, I had no idea, at all. Oh dear, this is a muddle." She knelt down next to her friend on the floor and reached out to rub her shoulder in comfort.

Parvati shrugged away and slid along the wall, away from the door. "Don't touch me," she said, low but firm.

Lavender flinched. "I just wanted to say that I'm sorry! I didn't mean—"

"I know what you didn't mean," Parvati growled. She lifted her head up, and Lavender could see the tears in her eyes. "I think you should go now."

"But Parvati—"

"LEAVE ME ALONE!" She put her head back into her hands, against her knees, and began to cry in earnest.

Lavender stood up, sniffling a bit. "Okay, if that's what you want." She waited, but when no response came, she opened the door and left, closing it behind her. She walked down the hall, unsure what to do, whom to talk to, when suddenly she found herself near the Transfiguration classroom. She turned to a nook nearby, shrouded in purple curtains, and knocked on the wall.

The curtains parted, and Lavender saw Padma and Ron laying on either end of the couch, studying. "Padma?" she asked.

Padma looked up and saw Lavender's face, white as a sheet. She sat up quickly. "What happened? Is it something with Parvati?"

"I think I made a terrible mistake. Again." She bit her lip.

Padma could sense Ron sitting up next to her. "Where is she?"

"In the lower level Charms classroom." She sniffled a little, then one large tear ran down her cheek. "Oh, Padma, I'm so sorry! I didn't know!"

"I don't think she even knew." Padma quickly packed up her things. "Ron, could you escort Lavender up to the Tower?"

Ron looked a bit wary, but nodded. "Of course, of course." He stepped around the small table and reached out to take Lavender's arm, but the girl buried her face in his chest, grasping at the front of his shirt. He looked over her head at Padma, his eyes wide open.

Sorry, she mouthed to him, motioning that he should put his arm around her, rather than having it hanging in the air. Padma blew him a kiss before turning down the hallway.

Ron gingerly put his free arm around the crying Lavender and patted her shoulder awkwardly. "There, there," he said. "We need to get you up to the Tower, eh? Can you walk and cry at the same time?"

Lavender replied by sobbing even louder.

Padma, meanwhile, raced down the Charms corridor and opened the one closed door. Her sister sat on the floor of the darkened room, hugging her knees, staring blankly ahead. Her face was red and streaked with tears. Padma gently closed the door behind her and sank down to the floor next to her, putting her arm around her shoulders. "Vati, it's okay, I'm here," she said.

Parvati turned to look at her. "I'm so sorry, Padi. I tried, really I did, but . . . "

"You haven't anything to be sorry about." She pulled her sister closer, and Parvati rested her head on Padma's shoulder.

"Mother won't like it."

"No, Mother definitely won't like it, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

"The whole school probably knows by now."

"I don't think Lavender is going to tell anyone anything you don't want her to. She's your friend."

Parvati lifted up her head. "You tried to warn me and I didn't listen."

Padma smiled slightly. "Well, that's hardly unusual."

"But—you knew?"

"I suspected, but I didn't know."

"Oh." She put her head back down, and Padma stroked her hair. "What will happen now?"

"I don't know," Padma answered. "You might want to ask Seamus, or Dean."

"I don't want to go back to the Tower."

"Well, you will have to face her eventually, you know. But tonight, you can sleep in Ravenclaw with me."


Padma nodded. "It will be just like when we were girls. And I'll ask Ron to get the house elves to make you some ras malai. That will make you feel better."

Parvati smiled. "Thank you, Padi."

"I'm always here for you, Vati. Always." She looked up and saw that through the window that the fog had finally begun to clear.

v: (just like) starting over

Parvati returned to the Tower the next morning, avoiding Lavender but finding Hermione. She took her aside but was surprised to find that Ron hadn't, in fact, told his two friends about the previous day. She was unsurprised that Hermione had had her suspicions about her and Lavender's recent activities.

"Well," Hermione said at last, "I suppose things will be awkward for a time, but that will pass, I think. Are you—well, are you telling people?"

"No, not yet. I need to work some things out. Though, feel free to tell Harry if you like. I'm sure I don't mind if we all know, but after that, I'm not sure."

"I don't tell him everything, you know. I think you should tell him yourself. Seamus always said that the more he said it, the more real it seemed."

So Parvati found herself, over that day, taking aside Harry, who gave her a hug but seemed oddly surprised to find out that women could be gay, too, or at least women he knew personally; Ron, who hadn't grasped the deeper meaning of the events of the previous day, but said, "It gets better" which Parvati thought was very kind of him; Neville, who seemed the least surprised of everyone except Padma, making Parvati think that he was much more observant than anyone gave him credit for; and Seamus and Dean, who immediately engulfed her in an enormous hug and promised her support and places to stay if coming out to her parents proved difficult. Hermione had been right, as usual. Talking to her own little circle had made her feel a bit stronger, though not brave enough, really, to talk to Lavender, who Parvati suspected was spending time with Ernie anyway, as she wasn't around the Tower much at all.

Friday Parvati woke up later than the others and managed to forget the date entirely until she entered the Great Hall and saw owls flying everywhere and piles of red envelopes stacked next to the breakfast plates.

"Fuck me, it's Valentines Day," she whispered to herself. She sat down amongst the other sixth years, next to Dean, and tried to forget that everyone was attached except her.

Dean patted her hand. "How is it this morning?" he asked.

She smiled. She and Dean had been getting closer over the past two years, once his schoolboy crush had faded and the fallout from Seamus and Lavender's break up had died down, but he seemed to have adopted her after she came out to him. "I was about the same as yesterday, perhaps a little better, until I came in here."

Dean looked around. "Bit much, isn't it?"

Parvati nodded. She looked around the table. Most of the fourth year and older girls had cards, even if they were mainly from friends. Ginny Weasley was cooing over something that looked oddly like a fish. Harry had his usual vast pile, though he had managed to locate Hermione's within the chaos. Whatever her sister had said was clearly making Ron blush, while Neville's valentine from Susan sent him into a fit of giggles.

Then Parvati suddenly realized that of the Gryffindors in her year, she was the only one not dating someone. How could this be? The boys were all beyond clueless about girls—she knew this for a fact—and even if it didn't matter as much for Seamus and Dean, it was still true. Now all of that hard-earned knowledge about boys that one had gathered through reading Witch Weekly, listening to her mother, and bitter experience, was going to go to waste! She would have to start from square one! She had a vague idea that most girls who liked girls were not like her, but she fervently hoped this was just a stereotype. The entire business was infinitely discouraging.

Her glance fell on Lavender, who was smiling dreamily as she read a rather ornate card that Parvati presumed was from Ernie. Suddenly she was overwhelmed by a memory of how Lavender had smiled in her arms, and she couldn't breathe. She leapt from the table, grabbed her bookbag, and ran from the Great Hall.

Parvati hid just outside the Great Hall, around the corner from the open door. She put her back against the wall and closed her eyes. Really, she had to stop running away from Gryffindor table every time something happened that she didn't like. It was histrionic, and the way things were, she didn't really want to draw any more attention to herself.

"Parvati?" a deep voice asked.

She opened her eyes to see Dean standing before her. She sighed, sinking further into the wall. "Yes?"

He handed her a few envelopes. "You forgot your Valentines."

"I hadn't noticed them, actually," she replied, taking them from him. One from Frank, two from some younger boys she didn't know, and a handmade one from Dean. Not even the usual "best friends" Valentine from Lavender, though she hadn't really been expecting it. After all, she hadn't sent one this year, either. She opened the one from Dean, a large sienna square with orange-red paper lace at the corners and matching lettering on the outside that read, "To the prettiest girl in the school":

Our best friends have been throwing us together since our first year, and yet, we only became good friends this year. I wish even more now that I had been brave enough, two years ago, to ask you to that Ball. Perhaps things would have "come out" sooner? Be strong, my Valentine, and know that you always have my sympathetic ear. –Dean

She closed the card, smiling in spite of herself. "Thank you, Dean," she whispered.

He put one hand on her shoulder. "D'ya need that ear now?"

"Well, just one question. Does it get any easier?"

Dean cocked his head. "Yes and no. It's easier than denial, and takes a lot less energy. It is not easier than being straight. But I wouldn't be straight any more than I'd be white. Would you?"

She shook her head.

Dean put his arm around her as they walked toward the Potions classroom. "We're here for you, me and Seamus and your sister, but it's the sort of thing you have to work out for yourself, what it means to you."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, you get to decide for yourself how being a lesbian affects you and the people around you. Don't feel you have to give in to any stereotypes or preconceptions. You're still Parvati."

She looked at Dean for a moment and realized that there was very little about him that could be called poufy. He was an artist, but a very down-to-earth one. Maybe, maybe she didn't have to change, didn't have to give up clothes or Divination or giggling or wearing her hair long or suddenly go out for the Quidditch team or any of that, just because she liked girls. She smiled. "Thank you, Dean, what a perfect thing to say," she said, and kissed him on the cheek.

Dean smiled back, blushing just a little. "Well!" he said.

"Oi, are you trying to take my boyfriend away?" shouted a grinning Seamus who had mysteriously appeared before them.

"Ew, boy parts!" Parvati protested, giggling. "No thank you!"

Parvati hummed to herself as she walked out of the North Tower. Easter holiday was just around the corner, and things seemed so much clearer now, since that horrid Valentine's day. After a month of careful consideration, and a few too many unwelcome passes from boys at various parties, she decided to very casually mention her sexuality to the lynchpins of Hogwarts gossip—Dennis Creevey, Justin Finch-Fletchley, Orla Quirke, and Morag MacDougal—and before the day was over, the entire castle knew. She braced herself for the reaction, and sure, there were some comments made, but all in all, it wasn't as bad as she'd imagined.

Then again, she rather liked the word "dyke". It sounded hard, and harsh, and strong, words that might not have been used to describe her in the past. Now, though, she could feel her own strength growing inside her, in ways she couldn't have anticipated. So the stupid boys in the hallways could call her "dyke" all they wanted, as far as she was concerned. Now that she didn't want to date boys, she found herself caring a lot less about what they thought.

The girls were another matter of course, and initially comments questioning her femininity had been upsetting. Honestly, she was one of the girliest girls of her acquaintance! Then one day Padma had said something about being yourself, and Parvati looked at it an entirely new way. You wish, she would think to herself as she ignored their comments. You wish you could be your own person even half as much as I am. It still hurt, but she would say that over and over again to herself, and that made her feel a little better.

Things with Lavender were gradually improving. It still hurt a little to see her with Ernie, but she realized it was less because of a broken heart and more because she was convinced that she would not be walking arm in arm with anyone at Hogwarts. Besides, Lavender was definitely a better friend than a girlfriend. Not only was she straight, but she could be a bit high maintenance, and Parvati preferred to be the pampered one, thanks.

Trelawney had noted that her romance chart had suddenly, finally cleared up, but that there didn't seem to be anything in the immediate future. Parvati reckoned that she had expended so much of her energy on boys—fruitlessly, as it turned out—that this was simply the karmic payback. But she did hope that out of all of this misery, she would get a sweet girlfriend, eventually.

Lost in thought, she turned the corner down the Charms corridor, and ran smack into Pansy Parkinson, precisely the person she didn't want to see.

Parkinson pushed her away. "Look where you're going, Patil, you stupid dyke."

Parvati sighed, and brushed off her robes. But the Parkinson had her hand against the wall, blocking the way. "Let me pass," she said firmly, looking Parkinson in the eye.

"I don't know. Maybe you meant to do that. Trying to grab a quick feel, like the boys do?" She stepped closer, so that she was only a few inches away, and looked up at the taller Parvati. "We all know how that goes, don't we, Patil?" she said, spitting a little as she said Parvati's name.

Parvati wiped the saliva from her chin. "I said, let me pass," she repeated.

"Make me," she said.

So Parvati very calmly stepped back a bit and let her book bag fall to the floor. "Pansy Parkinson, you have been asking for this since we were four," she said, as she pulled her arm back and gave her a swift left jab to the chin, just as her own father had taught her.

Parkinson rocked back on her heels, more in surprise than from the punch which was hard but a bit of a glancing blow, and then sat down, hard, on the floor. "You silly little twit!" she shrieked, rubbing the cut at the corner of her mouth. "I am a prefect! Twenty points for fighting!"

"Well, I am a prefect as well, and I will take twenty points from you, Parkinson, for provocation, and award ten points to Patil, for her problem-solving skills."

Parvati looked up, and had never been so pleased to see Hermione Granger in all of her life.

"You can't do that!" Parkinson protested.

"Watch me," Hermione replied.

Parkinson sat and thought for a bit, and then said, "Well, perhaps we should just keep this matter between ourselves." She cleared her throat a bit.

Hermione flashed a smug grin. "I thought you'd see it my way. Would you like a tissue? Hand up?"

"I have no need for Muggle paper," Pansy said grouchily, but extended her hands, and the other girls reached down to help her to her feet. She picked up her bag and pushed past them, walking quickly down the hall to the girl's room near the stairs.

Parvati turned to Hermione. "Thanks. I appreciate that."

Hermione laughed. "Are you kidding? If I had known you had it in you, I would have asked you to punch that cow a long time ago!"

Parvati smiled back, surprised. She had always known that actions have unintended consequences, but she had assumed that they were usually negative. That there could be anything unexpected and positive in her future was very welcome news indeed.