A/N: Alihotsy, Aconite and Amortentia is... a long term project. I hope it doesn't exceed ten or fifteen chapters, but I am writing it as I go along. Inspiration came from my portrayal of Lavender in Iacta, at which time I thought she deserved her own story (also in a hope to exorcise some of the Lavender in me so that I can actually focus on Remione there).
This is a place where sassy, bitter, angry, dislikeable and yet loveable Queen-Bitch Lavender Brown could live, with the one man who can keep her on her toes.
I know it's not a popular pairing, but I'm experimenting, here! And Rare Pairs are just... delightful. Also I'm trying to work through tropes (Time-Travel diversion, time travel loop, marriage law, etc...)
Updated as and when, people.
Let me know what you think!
Disclaimer: I do not own the works herein, all characters from the Harry Potter Universe belong to JK Rowling, and all characters, storylines, situations, plots and the like do not belong to me. I make no money from this work. The opinions expressed in this piece are not the authors own, simply written in for the character.
Warnings: Rated M for situations, LOTS OF swearing, possible violence, sexual scenes...
Alihotsy, Aconite and Amortentia
On the 4th May, 2000, the Ministry of Magic passed its Marriage Act. The Act had been in consideration since three months after the War, when the Ministry had finally begun reorganizing itself, and the population numbers were finally scrutinized. It was hailed as the solution to a dropping birth rate, fewer magical marriages, and the end of blood prejudice as the wizarding world knew it.
And for Lavender Brown, it meant marriage to a half-blood/muggle-born of their choosing.
Now, Lavender could care less about blood purity. She could care less about Dark, Light and Grey magic. She didn't care about dropping birth rates, or fewer magical marriages, or anything the Ministry cared to harp on about; she was a bit too concerned with herself.
For good reason, too. During the Final Battle she'd suffered a devastating attack from the most notorious werewolf in living history, Fenrir Greyback, that had left her scarred all down the left side of her body with most of her organs having to be magically reconstituted, a case of trauma that therapists had been known to fistfight each other to treat, and the legacy of being the only known woman to have contracted the werewolf virus outside of the full moon.
(At least she'd killed the bastard. There was nothing like vengeance to cleanse oneself of the feeling of impotence. Nobody knew how she'd achieved it, but it seemed one moment she'd been laid in a pool of her own blood with the nasty bastard munching on her intestines, and the next she'd clobbered him over the head with a fallen brick and slit his throat with his own claws, just to make sure he was dead. Some theorised that it was the same phenomenon that allowed women to lift up cars to save their infant children, but couldn't understand where the sheer force of will to do it came from – she didn't, after all, have any offspring. Lavender thought that this was accurate, only she knew where the will came from – she didn't have any children, no, but she did have something she loved just as much: herself.)
Still, even someone as completely self-absorbed as Lavender couldn't miss the air of panic and urgency that clogged the streets in the months running up to the bill's passage. The newspaper had spoken of protests and rallies, published photographs of Hermione Granger stood atop the statue in the Ministry atrium, still dressed in her work robes despite her decidedly anti-Ministry stance on the issue. Ginny Potter, despite being happily married, had been spotted arriving at a Harpies match wearing a shirt bearing the slogan 'women are not cattle', with the Ministry's logo emblazoned beneath it, a huge red cross slashed through. International stars such as the Weird Sisters, Viktor Krum, the youngest Scamander and Harry Potter himself had all come out to the press, condemning the law, demanding that the Wizengamot just let the fucking thing die.
All to no avail.
And that was about the point that Lavender started paying attention.
The legislation had been brought before the Wizengamot for approval at exactly eight a.m. on the 2nd May 2000. The bureaucrat behind that move seemed to think that if it passed on the anniversary of Voldemort's death, people would be more receptive to it (see: would not riot) given that it would be disrespectful to storm the ministry on such an auspicious occasion.
Y'know, even though the Ministry had exactly shit-all to do with the defeat of Lord Voldemort.
Of course, people fought back. At the memorial ceremony held each year, Lavender had stood in the crowd to watch the 'Golden Trio' take the stage, their Order of Merlin: First Class pinned to their robes, and proceed to verbally slaughter the government. "Where are they now?" Potter had demanded, in an impassioned speech clearly written for him by Hermione Granger. "As we stand here to honour those who fought for our freedom, those that would capitalise on their sacrifice hide in government, working to put chains on their children. We, all of us that were here that day, all of you who suffered at Hogwarts in the run-up, all of you who lost mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives – the list goes on. Those of you who bear the scars of your torments, of over twenty years of fear and pain… they dishonour you, and us, by forcing this law upon us."
He'd shaken up his sleeve and leaned forward on the podium, completely at ease despite the camera flashes and questions shouted at him from the press, making eye contact with nearly every mourner, sharing their grief. His hand gripped the back of the lecturn, and the flashes of the camera bleached out his skin until only the bright red scars on the back of his hand remained – I MUST NOT TELL LIES – a beautiful, poignant picture for the press, no doubt.
"This government is the same government that refused to accept Voldemort's return," Harry reminded the crowds, his voice rising above the rest of the rabble. "We are not fooled by a change of name, a different face. This is the same government that refused to put their full resources towards helping rid this world of a terrorist, leaving the fighting to our young. Many of the people we honour today were only children – seventeen, sixteen, fifteen, younger. They had been tortured at school – under Umbridge, assigned by this government, and then under the Carrows, whose scope for torture knew no bounds and yet was not restrained by authority. And then these children were asked to fight, to bleed, for a cause most of them didn't understand but were relied upon to forward. Tell me, is that right?
"They blame us, the victims, and use their ill-gained power to force us into yet another impossible situation, demanding we give up our blood, our bodies and our souls into their keeping.
"They will tell you that this is different. That the Minister is different, the cabinet different. They will say that this Law is for our own good, that the deaths and lapsing fertility have taken their toll on our population and we now need to regroup – forcibly. They will use every tool in their arsenal to make you believe that selling your daughters, sisters, mothers into this… reproductive, sexual slavery is acceptable, but we must remember that it is not.
"When I left this castle two years ago today, I'd thought that was the end. There was no more evil to fight, we could go home and rejoice, party and make love and work and play in happiness and safety. I have since realised that evil is not only a person. Nor is it a malevolent force you can see coming a mile away. What I fight now, and beg you to stand with me against, is the everyday evils. The everyday evil of a government who claim too much power. A government who would make half of our population second-class citizens. A government who, despite changes in leadership, remains the same bloated, bribe-taking, racist egotists we fought to be rid of. We died to be rid of."
He'd been the figurehead of a movement, riling up the emotions of everybody in that courtyard and the halls that surrounded it – and the truly exquisite thing was that the Wizengamot was locked in session, unaware of how beautifully he had flayed them until they adjourned for the evening. Even Lavender, so dull inside nowadays, had felt the irresistible thrum of revolution in her veins. If there had been one thing the wizarding public had learned after the war, it was that Harry Potter was generally right.
Even though he usually wasn't.
But it was nice to have something to believe in, even if it was a scruffy orphan with bad hair, an irritating wife and weird looking children. Even if it only lasted for a day.
Now, four hours after the law had passed, Lavender sat in her living room, skimming the Daily Prophet and running her fingers over the cool face of her DA galleon. More of them had been produced as their circles expanded, but Lavender was proud to be the owner of an original, and a member of the inner circle through which messages were passed before being sent out to the general public. She might never reply, but she was involved.
A message had come through at 3:42 that morning, only a quick one, from Ernie MacMillan. He was a dickhead, was Ernie, but he was also Amira Shafiq's Wizengamot secretary, which provided the group with an inside line into the negotiations. The Message simply read passed, throwing everything into uproar.
Hermione had been sending non-stop instructions through since four a.m. Lavender was mostly ignoring them, but she could imagine the woman's devoted followers going to work in other areas of the country, flashing around their houses to gather research and signs and anything else, then scooping up their wands and apparating to their designated protest-spots. Sending hasty owls and patronus (es? patroni? Who cared) out to their friends and family, warning them of the coming storm. Lavender herself, despite her generally nomadic status, had received five patronus this morning alone. Harry Potter was in Diagon Alley, showing his face for the crowds, with Ron at his side; Hermione was inside the Ministry, leading a strike from her desk.
Lavender was simply waiting. She did that a lot, nowadays. Waited. Waited for her injuries to heal, for the therapy to work, for the job applications she sent out to be rejected. Waited for the full moon.
Her galleon heated, jerking her out of her thoughts and back to the real world. She took a moment to allow herself to adjust, feel the grain of the rough-wood table beneath her fingers, the unpolished stones under her feet. Shortly after being released from St. Mungo's, she'd commandeered a dower house of hers in the country. It was surrounded on all sides by thick forestry, five acres of seclusion in which Lavender… well, sulked, mostly. She was self-aware enough to admit that. It was wonderful on a full moon, but every other day she felt like a premature Ms Havisham, only instead of a wedding dress her mourning-wear was bejewelled headbands and multi-coloured jumpers. Still, people didn't come here, and since they didn't come here, they didn't gawp and stare and give her pity as though it were a diamond necklace, with the air that she should be grateful. Since when should one be grateful for other people being pricks? She was scarred. Get over it.
Letters began to appear around the edge of her galleon, scrolling up and over themselves until the message was complete.
SMT. 1 Aur & 1 MO, my place, just left. – HA
She frowned, her brows knitting. As a sort-of mollifying gesture to nay-sayers, the Wizengamot had added an extra clause to the law; the only reason it passed against such overwhelming odds, in fact. It stated that the pairings would be made based on tests of compatibility, lifestyle and aptitude, aiming to find pairs as close to soul bonds as possible. This, they said, would ensure the happiness of each bonded couple under the new law.
They didn't seem to understand that some people just didn't want to get married. Didn't want a husband, or children, or any of the responsibilities that lay therein. And a soulmate? Perhaps that would have tempted Lavender five years ago, when she'd been all wide-eyed with youthful naivete and hope, still believed in 'Happy Ever After's, but now…
Well, now Lavender knew what sort of person she was, and while she had no problem with herself, the idea that there was someone out there to match her?
What was it the muggles said? Pouring gasoline on a bonfire?
She liked her life, her little cabin, her garden and her forest. She liked not being answerable to anybody, not having to deal with the venomous beast that was Wizarding Britain. She wouldn't move back to civilization if you paid her, and a husband would most certainly want to do that. Never mind everything else he'd want to do, and she wasn't talking about the sex. He'd want to move in and take over, monopolise her time, fill her with babies.
All of that before she even addressed the issue of her lycanthropy.
Oh! She might be exempt because of her condition! Now there was a happy thought.
Hannah's message was concerning, though. The soul-mate bullshit was proposed to be carried out like so: you took yourself to the Ministry when your summons came, probably in alphabetical order, where some pseudo-psychic bureauprat would be waiting for you. They would take your wand, your blood, and give you a personality test. They would then compare your results with others, and a couple of weeks later you'd have a prospective match. Only, there wasn't anything prospective about it; instead there was the wand to your chest and the threat of Azkaban hanging over your head.
What Hannah had said was that the Officials (see: Pseudo-Psychic Bureauprats) visited her. At home.
This realisation was punctuated by a brisk knock at her door.
She left the paper open on her table, dropping the galleon into her skirt pocket, and checked herself in the mirror that hung in the hall. Still scarred, yes, but her eye-make-up was perfection, her hot-pink jumper loud as ever, her emerald-green skirt as poofy as it had been in the closet that morning, and her purple headband settled straight. She gave herself a smile, allowing it to become more natural as she scanned her appearance.
Still got it, Lav!
Throwing an extra shimmy into her step for confidence, she danced over to the door, her heels making a satisfying click-click on the stones as she went. Then she opened the door.
"Oh!" The woman knocking exclaimed, her hand flying to her mouth. If Lavender was in the mood to be charitable, she'd say it was because of the shock of seeing such a bright, chirpy young girl answer the door to what, from the outside, looked like a B-movie horror set. But Lavender was not feeling particularly charitable, not to the woman who intended to assign her a ministry-mandated beloved. Especially not when she had the gall to turn up at her door in what looked like a badly-tailored bin bag.
"Can I help you?" Lavender asked in her most gratingly cheerful voice, the one she reserved for society matrons whom she'd once heard call her an elephant-footed fattie.
Ms. Ministry glanced nervously back at her companions – two Aurors, one of whom was obviously fresh out of Hogwarts, complete with pubescent acne, the other who looked like Fenrir Greyback's more depraved cousin. "Miss Lavender Brown?" Ms. Ministry squeaked, her voice akin to a buzzsaw for Lavender's sensitive ears.
"Yes, that's me," she replied, still grinning cheerily. She looked over her shoulder, giving Auror Preteen a slow once over, biting her lip as she did. "And you are…?" she elongated the syllables, practically purring. She'd have played the trick on Auror Pervert, but he looked too much the type to come back later, and she'd already killed one man. Best to keep that number level.
Auror Preteen blushed all the way from his hairline to his shirt collar. Yep, Lavender praised herself, definitely still got it.
"I am Madame Bunting," Ms. Ministry told her with a token attempt to match Lavender smile-for-smile. She didn't really have it going on – for a woman whose job it was to ensure happy marriages, her face was awfully maudlin. "This is Auror Eades and Auror McCleod. May we come in?"
No, they may not. Lavender barely ever even invited her parents around, never mind faceless paper-pushers determined to control her love-life. She frowned, glancing between the group. "Am I under arrest?"
"Oh, no, Miss Brown, the Aurors are merely a precaution."
Two of them? Hannah had only had one in her flat. Mind, she could probably only fit one in her flat, living on a barmaid's wage in central London as she did, but the point remained. Gods, Lavender really didn't want them in her house. It was her only safe place, for Merlin's sake. Was nothing sacred anymore?
She felt her galleon heat up again against her thigh, and smiled wider to cover the wince. "We're here from the Department of Births and Marriages," Ms. Ministry (because what sort of a name was Bunting?) was saying, waving a sheaf of parchment in Lavender's face. "To carry out your pre-marriage testing in order to ensure we find the best match for you."
Right. What did they base this test on, anyway? Whether the government likes her or not? Because Lavender might be a werewolf, but she was also a pureblood, which must put her into some sort of neutral territory – as in, definitely too low on the food chain to be paired with a war hero, but not low enough to be paired with a Death Eater either. If she was lucky, she'd be given to some anonymous farmer in the middle of the country who would work all day and ignore her. "Oh!" She sang, channelling her frustration into keeping up her sunny façade. "Come on in! Would you like some tea? This is so exciting – isn't it? Isn't your job fun? You must get to meet so many people!"
Lavender stepped back while she gushed, ushering them down the hall and into the living-area, where two plush sofas sat opposite one another in front of a television, adjacent to a fireplace and a polished wooden coffee-table Remus had sent her in thanks for allowing him to use her land during the full moons. She cleared it, shoving half-read magazines into the drawers underneath and juggling empty mugs as she took them through into the kitchen. "I only have Yorkshire!" Lavender shouted back through the door, seeing Ms. Ministry take a seat on one of the sofas, the two Aurors stood behind it, doing a good job of looking vigilant. Auror Preteen (or, McPreteen, now that she knew his name was McCleod) had already written her off as a threat, but Auror Pervert was on alert. It was nice to not be underestimated, for once, even if he was a creepy-creep.
Filling the kettle took a second, and she read the message as it boiled. Susan Bones had also been visited by a Ministry worker, presumably from the same Department as Ms. Ministry. Hers had been accompanied by only the single Auror.
She paused, dithered, and finally shot off a note of her own just as the kettle began to squeal. She arranged the filled teapot on a tray with a collection of company china her mother had pressed on her, then returned to the living room, manic smile back in place. "As I said," she smiled, shaking her head, "I'm afraid we only have Yorkshire tea. Other teas tend to come out somewhat the worse for wear after encountering the local water."
Ms. Ministry nodded, smiling tightly. Circe, weren't they all just so pleasant this morning? "Miss Brown, do you understand why we are here?"
"Of course! I was just reading the newspaper when you arrived – it's this marriage law, isn't it? Though, the article did say we'd be summoned to the Ministry for the tests. It didn't mention anything about… well, this." She allowed suspicion to colour her voice as she waved at the three of them, looking so bland and out of place in her cosy little cottage. They were all wearing monochrome, black-and-white of the dullest order, except for the purple outer-robes of the Auror's office. Lavender's walls, by contrast, had been painted (painted being a somewhat loose term for 'throwing pails of the stuff at the wall until everything was sufficiently covered') with big splodges of primary colours, in some places running together into rivers of greens and purples and browns. It was abstract, she supposed, in terms of art, but she didn't really care for art and instead simply described it as 'bright' and 'cheerful', both of which it actually was.
Her mother liked to call it 'expensive' with pinched lips, but nobody listened to her.
Ms. Ministry shuffled her bottom uncomfortably. It had been caused by the change in tone, Lavender knew, because she hadn't skimped on the quality of her furniture, either. "In light of recent … events…" that was a lovely, polite way of describing 'riots', "the Minister and the Department thought it best if perhaps we were to deliver the tests to you, rather than the other way around. For safety and comfort, you understand."
Right, yes. That made sense. Hosting the tests in the Ministry would only invite the protesters inside, whereas bringing officials to one's doorstep at a seemingly random time and date would, effectively, neutralise that threat. And just in case, they're escorted by Aurors, to discourage attacks on the officials personally.
Though why Lavender would have two Aurors…
Right, yeah. She's a werewolf. Sometimes she managed to forget how other people saw her, but apparently the Ministry, despite the full-moon being two days away, were taking no chances.
A few years ago the assumption of her volatile nature would have angered her; nowadays, she only felt a weary sort of resignation. Hence the games.
"Of course," Lavender conceded, still smiling, despite the pit of emptiness that had just opened inside of her. "I'm ready if you are."
Pansy sent her a letter once the Ministry Officials had completed her test, mostly consisting of curse-words and insults towards the government. She'd not gone home for days, in the hopes of avoiding them, but they'd caught her in-between double shifts at St. Mungo's, locking her in the on-call room until she'd submitted. As a result she'd missed three hours of her shift, leading to disciplinary action. How can the fuckers justify this shit? She'd demanded, her writing punching holes in the parchment and leaking ink across the lines until it was nearly unreadable. How fucking dare they. She was lucky to escape alive, the dumb bitch.
Pansy had also been tested by Madame Bunting. No doubt by the end of the interview, the poor woman had been praying for more werewolves.
Similar stories flew in from all across Wizarding Britain, about Officials turning up at pubs in the early hours of the morning, storming apothecaries in search of their charges, in one case appearing in Azkaban of all places to hunt down a guard who'd taken to sleeping in a vacant cell, so determined was he to avoid his fate. Some thirty people, including George Weasley, had been taken into custody for assault on a government official during the tests. They were released shortly after their cooperation had been assured, but the facts remained.
Finally, two weeks after the bill had passed, the entire population had been tested and catalogued, and were now waiting with bated breath for the results. Lavender had been inundated by letters and visits, all friends from her old life who needed someone to commiserate with and, knowing Lavender's reputation, determined to learn the gossip about everybody else. Even Hermione Granger had succumbed to the allure, turning up with a bashful Remus on the night of the previous full moon, claiming that she was there to look after them when in fact she used Lavender's moment of weakness to pry information from her.
Honestly, it was such an obvious ploy even Remus seemed embarrassed. Slytherin, Hermione was not.
She allowed it, though. Mostly because it amused her. She could pick and choose what to share, keeping back true secrets while distracting her listener with the shinier, more juicy rumours. For example, Pansy had slept with Ron in April, and now worried that she might be pregnant. If she was pregnant, she'd be forced to marry Ron, and so was having a crisis about the matter – she couldn't stand him, but was it fair to hold back the information? When Hermione started hinting around Pansy, however, she'd given her a desultory 'she's fine' before launching into the much more exciting tale of Minister Shacklebolt and his much-younger chippie, an affair people speculated had lasted for nearly six months now, with nobody, except from Lavender, any the wiser as to the young lady's identity.
She'd enjoyed a half-hour of cat-and-mouse with Hermione after that, dropping little hints and clues about the girl into conversation, reeling her in while Remus looked on with amusement. Hermione thought she was too good for gossip most days, but Lavender had a way about her that could drive the saintliest woman to beg for more. If she hadn't been attacked, she might have taken over Skeeter's job at the Daily Prophet by now.
So, this month had not been as lonely as the ones preceding it, not with the excitement inherent in the population. Some people had stopped being concerned and instead had begun to get excited, like a husband could be a particularly wonderful Yuletide gift.
There was no place in her life for a husband.
There was only room for chocolate, lots of tea, and Bruce Willis.
And sometimes Pansy and Remus, but only because the two of them were very cuddly bears who actually enjoyed her company and didn't complain when she put her feet in their lap or ate all of their noodles.
The knock on her door that followed this was welcomed, even anticipated. It was late evening, and Lavender had been slouched on her couch, a glass of red wine in one hand, Clueless on the video-player, with no plans for the evening but to wallow. And generally, Pansy had a knack for finding her in this sort of mood.
She sauntered through to the door, straightening her ribbon (emerald green this time) in the mirror, before swinging open the door with a welcoming smile on her face.
Only for it to fall. Literally, the second she opened the door. Because that wasn't Pansy. That was a bloke. A tall bloke. One with long, black hair and an extraordinarily large nose. In his hands he held a wilted looking flower and a letter bearing the Ministry seal.
"No." she said bluntly, slamming the door in his face.