A/N: I know, I should be updating Padma's story. It's coming. But I'm kind of struggling with it, and I needed to write something else. This takes place during sort of the same period as the last Padma chapter, though. Just from Parvati's POV, instead, giving me the chance to give a better picture of her in my universe than what we've seen sometimes from Padma's POV. I needed to write this and I had fun with it. Let me know what you thought, okay?
(And, yes, this could've been a chapter in Moments, but somehow, that didn't feel right. Don't ask me to explain. I'm just going on feeling here.)
Nothing Like Friendship
I will be the first to admit that me and Ginny Weasley were never friends. We still aren't, really. Sure, our husbands keep in touch, somewhat. We attended their wedding, she and Harry attended ours. But we're not friends. We're not enemies, as we once were, but we're not close.
How could we be, really, with our extremely awkward history, tinted with all kinds of bitterness and jealousy? I mean, first there was the Yule Ball. When I stole her dream date. Not intentionally, of course. He asked me, as a last minute resort. We both knew that the deal was anything but romantic. He spent the whole night pining for Cho Chang. I spent the first part of the night trying to keep up appearances with Harry in a futile attempt to make my then very oblivious husband-to-be jealous. Eventually giving up on both of them, I spent the rest of it trying to make sure that both me and my miserable twin sister had a somewhat good time. (After all, it wasn't every day that you attended a ball.)
Actually, we did have a good time. Both of us ended up snogging Beauxbatons guys before curfew set in. It was my first kiss. At the time, I told myself that it was perfect, to be kissed by a handsome, foreign, older guy. Yet, we never even went out again. Why? He wasn't Dean, and he felt it.
Anyway, in Ginny's eyes, I can see how it didn't come off that way. In her eyes, I was the bitch who took her Prince Charming to the fairytale ball, while she ended up with the court jester who kept stepping on her toes. I mean, I know Neville grew up to be a hero and that he actually got pretty handsome too, with time. And he was always a good person, which of course Ginny was well aware of. But no one can deny that at 14, he wasn't the smoothest when it came to girls.
Of course, Ginny did end up starting something with Michael Corner that night, so it wasn't a complete loss for her either. Even if that didn't work out, in the end. By now, the whole world knows that the reason for their break-up was at least partly that she hadn't managed to bury her well-known feelings for The Boy Who Lived deep enough. But at the time, all I saw was her winking flirtatiously at my Dean. (Well, technically, he had never been mine. He didn't even ask me to the Yule Ball, even when our two best friends were going together and it was practically an insult not to. And I still think that his excuse, that he thought I was out of his league, is, while sweet, totally lame and that the truth is that he was just a bloody coward.)
Anyway, what I saw was Ginny setting her eyes at Dean. And him looking back at her. And, so, instead of barely noticing Ron's kid sister, I began to hate her.
At first, Lavender told me that I was silly and that she knew Dean did fancy me from the looks I'd always been getting, but that he was just being slow. (Like Seamus, who seemed to have dropped all courage after the Yule Ball, letting what the two of them had almost begun slip into nothingness.) She said I shouldn't waste my time being bitter at some little girl who could never be my competition. She also (surprisingly, since my twin sister to her had been the enemy since day one) told me seriously that maybe I shouldn't waste my time on Terry Boot, when I wasn't really interested in him and there was someone else who was.
I tried to trust her. Deep down, I knew she was right, at least about Padma and Terry. He was painfully obvious with which of us he fancied, and even if Padma tried to hide her affections for him, I saw them as soon as Lavender had made me come out of my obsessive self-absorbedness enough to start looking. So I forced myself to give up that possible distraction and highly usable tool to catch Dean's attention (I mean, if I was going for jealousy, choosing the most handsome bloke of the year would have been effective).
However, while Lavender had saved me from destroying my sister's happiness, she hadn't succeeded in making me gain my own. We came back to sixth year to find my Prince Charming stolen by the same little girl who had been claimed by my best friend to be way beneath me. That was a hard blow to my confidence. Especially seeing that my Dean was actually happy with this silly, little girl, because she wasn't that little and silly anymore. I would have rather ate Bubotuber pus than admit it then, but she had grown quite good-looking, witty and smart. And she was good at sports and guy stuff like that, which I wasn't.
Bet you can see why I detested her with every fibre of my being. No, my sixth year wasn't my happiest. Dean was being all lovey-dovey with the object of my deep hatred. Lavender was suddenly head over heels for her brother, and while I at first thought this was something similar to my supposed crush on Terry the previous year (that is to say, simply a desperate cry for attention from the actual crush – in her case, Seamus Finnigan), I turned out to be wrong. While it might've been something like that at first, she grew to really like him. Which is why it was even harder for me to see that he didn't return those feelings, using Lavender (unconsciously or not) only as a tool to make Hermione Granger jealous. (Now, I know I had been doing similar things, yes, but in my head, this wasn't the same. This hurt Lavender.)
Yet, the year wasn't that bad. Not if you compared it to the next, anyway. Me and Lavender still had quite a bit of fun. Like thinking out that Christmas present for Ron. The necklace. The utterly silly, stupidly romantic necklace. Now, I assume he thought Lavender really was that stupid at the time, but the truth is, we obviously knew he wouldn't be pleased. I mean – hello, we were girls who at least had some kind of eyes and ears and people skills. We knew. It was just too much fun to resist. Plus, she never quite got rid of her insecurities with him, and I think that she on some level was always trying to test his loyalty. Would he stick with her, even after she sent him that? Even after she called him that? It didn't work, really, as he ended up neither ending it with her, nor giving her the proof of affection that she wanted. But it was fun, at least in the beginning. Not when it was soon to be over. By then, it was just sad, with her refusing to let go of something that had obviously died a long time ago.
Which gave me another reason to detest Ginny Weasley. She was related to the git who broke my best friend's heart.
Around the same time, she also broke Dean's heart. And no matter how much I had longed for that break-up, hoping for it every time they had a fight (which was rather often, by the end), I couldn't be pleased when I saw that dejected look in his eyes, the way Seamus tip-toed around him, unsure what to do. I couldn't help it. My heart ached for him. Even if I knew Ginny hadn't been making him happy, he'd felt something for her, and she'd let him down. I wanted to curse her into oblivion even more for that.
I didn't, though. Instead, I tried to subtly be there for him. As no more than a friend, obviously. Even if I had been waiting a long time to see him smile like that at me, I wasn't about to jump on him at the first sign now, not when he was still half in mourning after his last almost year-long relationship. No. I would wait. After the summer I would have my chance, and until then, I settled with the warm goodbye hug and that glint in his eyes that might have held some meaning.
Trouble was, I didn't get my chance after the summer. After the summer, he was gone. And focused as I was on planning out different scenarios for our first kiss, I hadn't even stopped to think that he might not come. I mean, he didn't know for sure he was a Muggleborn, did he? I'd never even considered that that meant he'd be one of them to the Ministry persecutors.
He wasn't the only one not to return, either. Harry, Ron and Hermione were gone too. Which broke Ginny in a way I never could have imagined. She had always come off so strong, had always radiated attitude and fierce determination. Now, she returned an empty shell of her former self. I was reminded of her first year, when she'd been the timid, tiny girl who mostly kept to herself. She didn't do that now. She was close with Neville and Luna, and even a bit with Padma and Michael. And she was one of the leaders of the DA, sometimes lighting up with an almost manic glint of energy when there was work to be done, fights to be fought. In between, though, she mostly just looked lost.
I couldn't hate her then. I couldn't even be upset with Padma for being friendly with her. She was still the one who had stolen Dean from me, but he was gone and the world was falling apart and it wasn't a time for holding grudges. Not that we were ever friends, as I've said. I just kind of stopped feeling that burning desire to break her nose. It got replaced with something more like pity.
At the time, I really wasn't that surprised. A lot of things about me had changed. I mean, the year before, I had been miserable from heartache. But I had been miserable in a sort of fun, innocent way, still. It hadn't occupied all my thoughts, dragging me down completely. Hope hadn't been lost then. I had still been able to fantasize about how Dean and I would accidentally walk right into each other and he would fall on top of me and his face would be right above mine and he would ask, that close, if I was okay, with that concern in his eyes, and then his lips would come closer and well, in one way or another, we'd kiss and he'd realize that I was his one true love and all that. It had still been fun, at least some parts of it. I had still been able to laugh at my misery.
But this year, nothing about it was amusing. I knew I might actually never see Dean again. If nothing else, but from how Seamus fell apart, with only Lavender to keep him somewhat steady. There was nothing exciting or thrilling anymore, no point in dreaming up fairytales I knew wouldn't come true. In short, we were all forced to do a quick, painful course in growing up.
I lost myself somewhere along the way, I think. I mean, me and Lavender had always been the girly girls of the year, the giggly ones, who had fun and planned out romantic events with our boys that weren't ours yet. I had been happy, even when I wasn't. It was who I was. I smiled and giggled, because that was what we did. It wasn't fake, it was just a way of tackling life and all the bad stuff it threw at us. I wasn't like Padma, who always got all broody when something didn't go her way. I tried to make the best of every bad situation, trying to look on the bright side even when my world shattered and we got put in different houses. I only cried the first night, after Lavender had fallen asleep in the middle of our giddy conversation. Then, I smiled instead. I figured that yes, this change had hurt me, but there wasn't anything I could do about it, so I'd try to move on and find other ways that could work too. Like my friendship with Lavender. And, yes, I did this by slightly denying that the House thing had hurt me at all, which I know by now hurt Padma. But at 11, I wasn't that insightful.
In my seventh year, however, I cried without even trying to stop. I didn't recognize myself. Sure, I'd cried from time to time after that first night, but it had been childish crying. I'd be feeling like the whole world was against me, but then Lavender or Padma would comfort me and make me see the bright side and whoops, and I was filled with all that naïve hope again. Now, there was no bright side, and I just couldn't snap out of my own misery. I couldn't be happy that Padma and Lavender had their bloody boyfriends to take care of them (and for them to take care of, too, and I knew that took a toll on them, but they still had someone who was there). I was bitter. I tried not to show it, but they knew, and they tried to help, but really, there was nothing they could say. No bright side this time, remember? It was a war. Nothing they could say would make it any more likely that Dean would survive.
Actually, I was awfully selfish at that time. Me and Lavender had always been dreaming about the day she'd get together with Seamus, and in those scenarios, I would automatically get together with Dean at the same time. Now, Seamus finally came to his senses and kissed her, and she was giddy, even if it was tampered by the state he was in most of the time. But in the moment she told me, she was almost blinding me with her blissful happiness. And I could barely muster a smile. I was the worst friend in the world. Completely stuck in myself and my problems. As if I was the only one.
Anyway, I was supposed to be telling you about me and Ginny Weasley. Once again, I love this whole analysing of myself a bit too much. So, to get back to topic, I was miserable, and so was Ginny. Both of our boys were out in the wild somewhere, unreachable and unsafe. I had of course been technically aware of it for a while, and yet, the fact that our situations were so similar didn't strike me until that night.
It was a few days before the Christmas holidays. I was sitting alone in the common room sometime after midnight, staring broodingly into the black fireplace, wondering where he might be, shuddering at the sound of the blizzard outside.
That was when Ginny quietly made her way downstairs, obviously thinking she'd have the room to herself. When she spotted me, she blinked in surprise, but then nodded in greeting. I did the same, but then went back to ignoring her, letting my gaze wander out the window.
"I wish it wouldn't snow." It was Ginny's voice, and I started, not at all having expected her to start making conversation with me. Actually, I turned my head around a few times, making sure there was nobody else present who she might be talking to instead of me. It must have looked pretty silly, now that I think about it. She smiled weakly at me then, adding, "Just makes it so much worse that it's freezing, doesn't it?"
"It does," I nodded, not bothering to pretend not to know what she was talking about. I didn't have the energy to play games. We were both silent for a moment. I carefully chanced a couple of glances at her. She looked a mess. Honestly, she couldn't have been sleeping for days. Somehow, seeing her like this woke up the Padma side of me (the caring, empathic side that always had to take care of everything and everyone). I cleared my throat uncertainly, then asked carefully, "D'you know what he's doing? Harry, I mean." Her head snapped up, frowning in suspicion, flinching slightly at my use of the name. "I don't mean that you should tell me if you do," I hurriedly plunged on, watching her sharp edge fade again. "Frankly, I don't think I want to know, but, I – I was just wondering. Do you at least know why?"
She slowly shook her head, then shrugged. "Not really. I mean, I've got a general idea. But so does the rest of the world. I have no idea where he is right now. If he's okay…" she trailed off. I was baffled at how easily I had made her at least sort of confide in me. I mean, from what I knew, Ginny was usually pretty reserved with all that talking about feelings stuff. While being the opposite of me in some ways, with that, she was the same. I only ever discussed my true feelings with the few number of people who really knew me. And not even with them most of the time, if I could help it.
Guess the war had changed both of us, though, because before I knew it I was answering without thinking about it. "I know. Guess all we know is they're not caught by them, 'cause they'd love for us to hear that." I didn't attempt to hide the bitterness.
She seemed to consider me for a moment, then obviously made up her mind about something. "You're worrying about Dean, aren't you?"
I snapped my head around so fast my neck ached for minutes afterwards. Not realizing that my stuttering if nothing else definitely gave me away, I spluttered that of course I was, he was my class mate, and I worried about him just as I worried about everyone else and – and it was nothing more to it. I was not about to admit to Dean's ex-girlfriend that I had been pining for him forever. We could do the somewhat shallow bonding, sure, as the world had apparently come to an end, but no way was I admitting that. Except that from the way she raised her eyebrow sceptically and the way my face burned, I realized that I kind of already had.
"S'okay, y'know," she smiled tiredly. "I don't mind. I worry about him too, but I'm definitely over him. And – I really am sorry," she added, looking into my eyes with sincerity.
"About what?" I questioned, still feeling weary and slightly humiliated.
"Dean. Sticking with him for so long when I wasn't really into him anymore. Not that I had admitted that to myself, but still. I hurt him. And I hurt you. I saw that. I just – didn't really care. I'm sorry, that sounds so harsh, but, I mean, we were never friends. I figured he was mine and that was all there was to it. But you care about him more than I ever did."
"Yeah," I muttered, having thought that bitterly to myself about a million times. She was silent. I knew she wouldn't apologize a second time. She was done, had said her piece. She wasn't the kind of person who usually admitted to being wrong, ever, so I suppose I should have been grateful for what I got. I wasn't, though. Still kind of mortified at how long she had known about my affections, I glared at her. "Not that that's saying much, with how you dumped him for just trying to be a good guy and then got together with his friend like a second later."
I could see my words hitting home. For a split second, hurt and guilt flashed across her features. Then she flared up in anger. "And you're one to talk? I don't see you having been his girlfriend, oh, I don't know, ever. So don't blame me for ditching him when you didn't even have the guts to admit you've loved him for what – seven years?"
"Well, it wasn't so easy when he was already involved with someone else, was it?" I spat. "Even if it was someone who was already eyeing her next prey, he was faithful."
She blanched in shock and fury. "I never cheated on him, or Mike, if that's what you're insinuating."
"Maybe I am," I went on. It felt good, somehow, to provoke a reaction, to see her colour now rise. To do something to the girl I had hated for so long – all sympathy for her situation was now forgotten. "You did go from one to another pretty fast, Weasley. Not bothering how that felt for the guys you'd dumped along the way. No wonder Harry didn't care enough to bring you along for whatever he's doing."
I knew as the words left my lips that I had gone too far. Even before I saw her face, back to chalk white, her mouth slightly open, I knew. She looked like she had been slapped. Hard. I watched in stunned silence as her lip began to tremble. For some reason, it didn't seem to occur to her to leave. Maybe she was too broken to move or whatever, but with as much as I knew about the old version of Ginny, I wouldn't have pictured her staying, letting me see her eyes fill.
Yet, somehow, the seconds were ticking by, and she didn't move. Neither did I. I had no idea what to say. I mean, what I'd said – it wasn't something you could take back, was it? Still, the pit in my stomach sank lower and lower and I actually felt like I deserved to be picked to death by tiny little pigeons. I knew I had to try something.
"I – I didn't mean that. I'm sorry," I stammered, my voice high-pitched and panicky. "Ginny, I am, I just – I hate that you were with him all last year and then when it was supposed to be my turn, he was just gone, and I – I shouldn't have said that. It's not true. Harry cares about you, I've seen that."
She was just silent, not allowing the tears to fall, but not blinking them away either. I waited, hardly daring to breathe.
"You do know how to hit below the belt, don't you, Patil?" she murmured after the longest silence of my life. "How'd you know that's what's been eating at me all bloody year?"
I shrugged, trying for a shaky grin. "Lucky guess? I dunno. Always been a pretty decent people-reader. Which is why I know it's not true. Harry, last year, with you – I've never seen him like that."
She closed her eyes briefly, apparently in reminiscence. "I know," she said softly, not looking at me.
"I really am sorry," I repeated, still feeling like the most worthless person on earth – kicking the younger girl who was already below the surface.
She nodded. "Me too. It's just – I've been kind of on the edge lately."
"Yeah. Me too," I admitted. "I try not to snap at Lav and Pad, because they don't deserve it, but you…"
"Kind of do, don't I?" This time, her smile was genuine, though still far from any resemblance of happiness.
"In my book, yes," I nodded, returning her smile.
"Well, you've never been exactly one of my top 10 people, either. Remember who you took to the Yule Ball?"
I noted that she still hadn't mentioned his name, and then I brushed off the concern, trying to keep up with the present. "Guess we never were meant to be friends, were we? We've always been meant to hate each other's guts."
"Guess so," she nodded, then looked at me for a moment. "Too bad. You're not that awful, really."
"Um – thanks, I guess," I chuckled.
"You're welcome," she grinned, and this time, she actually looked like her old self. We looked at each other for a second, before both bursting into a fit of giggles. It lasted only a few moments, but still. We shared another look, and then she rose from her seat. "I think I better get to bed before someone actually catches us not ripping each other's hair out," she offered as an excuse. I still don't know if she might have been overcome by sadness at realizing just how long ago it had been since she had laughed like that, and how tragic it was that it was with me. Or if she remembered who I was and what I had just said and fled the scene. I can honestly say that I have no idea. We never did talk like that again. Simply polite phrases. No honesty, neither hostile nor friendly. It was just one night, one slip-up in our perfect covers. Neither of us liked to pretend it had happened. We weren't people who were supposed to crack and reveal our secrets like that. Somehow, without discussing it, we reached an understanding never to tell anyone about that night.
I guess I'm breaking that now, though. Well, if you're reading this, Mrs Potter, all I can say is – it's been a long time, and you did steal my guy.