rachelleneveu: (still waiting for that damn letter)
[personal profile] rachelleneveu
Title: like some mystery uncovered
Pairing: Parvati/Ron, background Ron/Hermione
Rating: PG-13.
Word Count: 3,836
Warning(s): Language, violence, references to character death.
Summary: “Just because he helped save the world doesn’t mean she has to like him.” Parvati and Ron, after the war.
Author's Notes: The title is from the Bruce Springsteen song, “Blood Brothers.” Inspired by this prompt and written for the Summer Shorts Comment Fest on [livejournal.com profile] rarepair_shorts.

Parvati finds herself in the girl’s bathroom on the second floor when the fighting is officially declared ‘finished.’ She’s still in her battle gear – jeans and boots, one of her button-up uniform blouses – and she grips the cool edge of the sink like it’s the only thing holding her there. Her hair is tangled and matted with blood, spilling over her shoulders like thick, sticky ink and there’s red splattered all across her front, blood that both is and isn’t hers, red like fire, like roses, like Lavender’s favorite hair ribbon.

The mirror is cracked but unbroken and Parvati presses her forehead against it, closing her eyes to the dark blur of color her face has become and trying not to think of the past few hours: of fighting on the ramparts and bones sticking through flesh, green light and red light and her father, crying into his shirtsleeves over his wife and daughter’s still bodies on the table. She tries not to think of Lavender, pulling her hair back in the Room of Requirement, rolling her wand between her fingers as she readied herself for the fight; of Lavender ravaged and still, quiet in death the way she never was in life as Professor Trelawney pulled the sheet over her head.

Padma might have been her twin, but Lavender was her sister in ways Padma could never touch, not after seven years of living side-by-side, seven years of secrets and hair ribbons and closed canopies, of shared scarves, shared gloves, bangle bracelets and scribbled notes and elaborate inside jokes and Lavender, bloody fucking Merlin, not her, not Lavender.

Parvati’s hair is heavy and she had pulled it back before the fight, Lavender helping her pin up her long, waist-length mess into a sturdy braided bun – something that wouldn’t catch, something that wouldn’t give the enemy an extra advantage if she was cornered or caught. Parvati grips it now in both hands and pulls at the loose waves draped over her shoulders, pulls hard enough that white lights flash behind her closed eyes and her scalp aches even when she stops. Lavender, dishwater blonde with a bit of added oomph from spellwork and ribbons and flirty flips over the shoulder, always envied her hair.

Parvati winds the thick black strands around her fingers and tugs it outwards before she even knows what she’s doing, free hand scrabbling for the wand she’d dropped next to the faucet  when she first stumbled into the bathroom. “Sectumsempra,” she says, and the taut handful of hair falls limp where it’s clutched tight in her hand. “Sectumsempra,” she says again, “Sectumsempra, sectumsempra, sectumsempra,” and the sink’s empty basin fills up in minutes.

Three months into a life after Voldemort means the Auror Academy has all the trainees on a crash-course: they captured some after the battle but Death Eaters are still out there, escaped to Russia, Germany, all across the globe, and the Auror Division is on full alert. Dean and Neville might be helping to rebuild Hogwarts and her father might be helping out at St. Mungo’s but Parvati can’t fight the fire that’s been building within her the past year; she’s not meant for intelligence, the way Auror Proudfoot suggests, not meant to sit behind a desk and crack code, catalogue evidence. Shacklebolt knows: he marked her straight off for fieldwork even before she’d thought about joining up, wrote down her name three days after they buried all their dead.

They’re divvied up into pairs the first official day of training, sitting knee to knee in the cramped office in a half-abandoned Ministry before Portkeying to the training center. Seamus gets locked up with Susan Bones and Cho Chang with Adrian Pucey, and Harry seems happy enough with Anthony Goldstein, but when Auror Savage says her name right after Ron’s Parvati’s heart stops for a moment, skips right on over the beat. Harry and Ron blink at each other, Harry giving Ron a lopsided smile and an obvious “what-can-you-do?” shrug, and Parvati only sits there, hands in her lap, trying not to throw up.

It’s not because she doesn’t like Ron. It’s not. He could be thick in that way all teenage boys are, dumb as posts and talking without thinking, but he’s grown up in the past year – they both have – and it’s not like he and Lavender were married. Hell, she even helped Hermione back then, just a little bit, helping her chat up Cormac McLaggen in front of him before Slughorn’s stupid party, back when he and Lavender were still practically attached at the face. But when Savage announces the partners all she can think of is ten minutes before they’d been herded into the office, when Ron caught sight of Hermione walking down the hallway a little ways away from them, deep in conversation with one of the higher-ups in the department and too caught up in it to notice him. Ron’s face lit up at the sight of her, staring until Harry gave him a good-natured elbow to the ribs, and it reminded Parvati of being sixteen: waiting with Lavender outside the Potions classroom until Ron left for his free period, how her whole body seemed to tense and relax at the same time when he finally noticed her. Lavender would have given anything back then to have him look at her the way he looked at Hermione, and Parvati is the only one left who knows it. Just because he helped save the world doesn’t mean she has to like him.

Later, in their first sparring session, she’s a bit…overenthusiastic in her efforts. At one point Ron dives away to dodge her barrage of hexes and sends up a shield, the grey-blue bubble of it crackling over the empty desk he’s hidden behind as she launches another at him. He swears at her, backing further under the desk as the hex rebounds off the shield and explodes against the wall. Auror Savage praises her spellwork in front of the whole group and it makes her feel better than she has in ages.

Her father is a Healer, trained in Delhi and able to boast three separate MAGIs in Potions, Anatomical Transfiguration, and Communicable Diseases. Abhinav Patil has been struggling the past few months, spending nearly all his free time since they returned from India helping to rebuild St. Mungo’s infrastructure nearly from the ground up. They both keep odd hours – Parvati because of her training schedule, her father because of his later and later nights at the hospital – and it’s strange with it being just the two of them, now; both rattling around the empty townhouse like two beads in a cigar box, rarely seeing each other outside of the occasional stilted Sunday breakfast. She freezes casseroles for him on the weekends, tried making her mother’s samosas and wound up burying the result in the back garden.

Without her mother at his side her father looks older, worries more: he just wants her to be happy, he says, wants her to go back to Hogwarts now that it’s the fall, or at the very least take some time off and sit for her NEWTs. He continually despairs over her love life (or near-complete lack thereof) and it’s manifesting itself in complaints over the state of her hair.

“You won’t find a husband looking like that,” he tells her, and Parvati ignores it, reaching for the salt. “Your mother always said a woman’s beauty was in her hair.”

Her heart clenches, just for a moment. “I can’t have it long anymore, Baba – official protocol, remember? And besides, it’s not like I’m meeting anyone decent these days. A couple warlocks in lockup and Ron Weasley are the only men I’ve dealt with lately, and you know, Ron doesn’t mind it. He actually thinks it’s rather classy.”

He is your partner,” he retorts, but there’s a pause before he sets down his fork, eyeing her strangely over the orange juice as he asks, “He is just your partner, correct?”

Her parents didn’t know much about Ron Weasley before she turned fifteen; he was an occasional line about their difficulties with Transfiguration, he never really factored into her letters home the way Dean and Seamus often did, the way Lavender stood out as a constant presence. Her parents knew him as Harry Potter’s friend, Arthur Weasley’s youngest son, that sad sap who gave Padma such a hard time at the Yule Ball – that was his truly crowning glory in the Patil home; Padma turned it into a whole routine, something guaranteed to get laughs out of her boring, brainy pals high up in Ravenclaw Tower. Parvati had convinced her to do it for Lavender after she and Ron broke up and to her surprise, Padma acquiesced. She snuck into the Gryffindor girl’s dormitory and reenacted the one dance he’d begrudgingly given her twenty minutes before the end of the ball: she’d furrowed her eyebrows and jutted out her chin in an exaggerated scowl, stomping clownishly around the room to the rhythm of a carnival calliope. Lavender had nearly fallen off the bed, she was laughing so hard.

“He’s ridiculous,” is her only answer, dishing more eggs onto her plate. There’s a lengthy pause, silence pooling between them, and then her father chuckles at her over the rim of his coffee mug, his dark mustache trembling slightly against the white porcelain. It’s the first she’s heard him laugh since May.

Even though they aren’t full-fledged Aurors yet, they’ve all been given badges and trench coats and differing degrees of security clearance; on the orders of Minister Shacklebolt himself, all trainees are officially on ground patrol, and are expected to provide full participation in the regular routine. They train in the evenings and patrol in shifts, investigating suspicious activity in all its forms, and are sent out to the four corners of the country with honor and dignity, all of them willing and able to protect and serve the magical community at large.

Unfortunately, as a wise man once said, with great power comes great responsibility, and for the newly-minted members of the Auror Office, that responsibility comes with three dozen mountains of paperwork, all of which has to be done before leaving the office for the day.

It’s unbearably hot for September and Parvati and Ron have been moved off the main floor, shuttled into another unused space while Magical Maintenance fixes the heating spells. Their workspace is insufferable: within twenty minutes of their relocation Parvati has already kicked off her shoes and socks, shed her brown trench coat, the green blouse she’d worn beneath it. She’d down to a lacy camisole and jeans it’s still horrible in their closet of an office, the air stuffy and thick; it makes her drowsy, and she’s already had to redo two forms over again because she couldn’t pay attention to what she was writing. It’s getting late and the heat is making her tired, careless. She wishes they were still close to the water cooler, but that would mean putting her shoes back on.

Parvati leans back in her chair, stretching her arms above her head as she tries to wake herself up, and she can feel the hem of her shirt rising up along her stomach, the lacy edge of the collar scratching against her chest. She hums tunelessly, trying to roll out the tension in her shoulders, and when she moves to restart her paperwork she glances across the desk. Ron is staring at her, a strange expression on his face, and it makes her stomach drop without warning.

“Take a picture, it’ll last longer,” she snaps, and Ron blinks, brought out of his sudden daze. He’s stripped off almost as much as she has, she realizes distantly, and a bead of sweat rolls down his collarbone.

“Sorry,” he mutters, and refocuses on his own work. Neither of them mentions it again.

She and Seamus are on patrol in Diagon Alley when it happens: three stupid kids, all pureblood Death Eater-lite, were caught spraying anti-Muggle graffiti on the front window of Pottage’s in the middle of the night. It’s two days until Bonfire Night and the whole department’s been gearing up for trouble, but Parvati is expecting it from adults – not boys who look like they’re barely out of Hogwarts, not kids she might have passed in the hallway on her way to Charms. Their age rocks her in a way she’s not expecting, and now, afterwards, she’s able to properly kick herself for letting her guard down: what should have a warning and confiscation turned into a firefight, and thanks to Seamus being Seamus, it ended in a true blaze of glory. No one got hurt – or at least, no one got seriously hurt. Parvati was able to stop most of the bleeding, hers and two of the dumbbell kids, before Apparating them to HQ, getting the three idiots locked up and processed before being forced to acknowledge the own severity of her injuries. Auror Savage personally escorted her to the Burn Unit at St. Mungo’s.

Parvati sits alone in the middle of the lumpy hospital bed, legs draped over the side, and examines the bandages the MediWizard on call had wrapped around her arm: she has second-degree burns spreading up from her wrist to her elbow, but with the right blend of aloe and Murtlap essence it should heal within a few days. Her father is on call tonight and she wonders if he knows yet, if he’s on his way up to see, when Ron bursts unexpectedly through the curtain separating her from the rest of the hall. He’s breathless and pale, still dressed in his nice dinner things, and his eyes are big and wild as he lunges at her, grabbing her by the shoulders and hugging her tight.

Ron, I’m not going to die,” she says, and he doesn’t seem to listen, releasing her slightly and inspecting all her minor cuts and bruises, making noise about her arm. “Although if you keep touching me, I just might find a way to do it completely out of spite.”

Ron frowns at her. “Do you have any idea what it’s like to get a Patronus in the middle of dinner, saying your partner’s been blown up?”

“Oh, come off it. With Seamus as a partner, I’m sure Susan gets at least three of those a day.”

Ron blinks at her, incredulous at her flippant response, and Parvati is still doped up enough from the Calming Draught the MediWizard had her drink that she can’t quite figure out why Ron is standing here with her, and not off spending the night in some sex- and wine-fueled haze with Hermione Granger. He was so excited when Seamus agreed to trade off for the long weekend; Hermione had a Hogsmeade visit coming up, and Ron was making plans for her to come and stay with him at his and Harry’s new place, wanted to really make a proper grown-up weekend of it. He’d bought new robes just for the occasion. Parvati had even helped him pick out the restaurant.

“Look, you didn’t have to abandon your plans just to check up on me. They wanted to keep me on observation for a while – I’d probably still have been here in the morning.”

Plans? You’re black and blue and burned all over, and you’re bloody worried about my dinner?” He shakes his head. “Parvati, you don’t…this is more important, okay?”

“But Hermione – “

“Hermione can wait,” he says, serious and sure, and when he touches her again, Parvati closes her eyes. It’s still not enough to make her relax.

The Fox and Fey is a dark little pub around the corner from the Ministry and they go there, sometimes, to blow off steam after work. It’s not as nice as the Leaky Cauldron is, but there’s more people at the Leaky who know them these days and this is nicer, she thinks, just being able to have a pint without anyone bothering them.

One night they go and halfway through their third round, Parvati catches sight of a younger couple making out in the corner and nudges Ron; they’re attractive enough, the kissing all tongues and teeth and inappropriate hands, and Ron actually blushes when he sees them, quickly averting his eyes and staring down at his half-empty glass. It’s times like these that she forgets that they’re still only months past seventeen.

“What, old memories seeping through?” she teases, and Ron covers his face with his hands. “PDA used to be your thing – at least, it was with Lavender, am I right, Won-Won?”

“Hey, we were sixteen –”

“And that didn’t stop you from being a total arse about it. You two were the grossest thing in that school for about three months, and I’m counting the dead Skrewt-whatsit that first year found in the pumpkin patch.”

Ron turns so that his forehead rests in the palm of one hand, the other curling around his pint glass. “It wasn’t all kissing and Quidditch victories, you know. We actually talked sometimes. I was a prat, but I cared about her.”

“Sure, you cared.” She’s a little more drunk than she’d like to be. “That didn’t stop you from breaking her heart.”

Ron studies her for a long moment, taking a sip of his ale. “I get why you don’t like me,” he starts, and when Parvati rolls her eyes he leans in closer, makes her look at him. “I get it. If things’d been different, Harry or ‘Mione dead back there, I don’t what I’d do. I know why you’re holding onto all this junk, but Lav…Lavender was my first real girlfriend, alright? I love Hermione, I love that girl, but Lavender’s got a piece no matter what. You don’t have a monopoly on missing her.”

His words leave her frozen, unable to respond. She wasn’t expecting this: not honesty, not sincerity. She feels a little sick all of a sudden, dizzy like she’s falling, and has to grip the edge of the bar to keep herself balanced. Ron doesn’t say anything else, just drains his glass and motions for the barkeep to bring him another. “I’m sorry,” she tells him, only half-meaning it, and he shrugs, slides her beer back in front of her.

“Last one, then I’m going home.”


“I know we weren’t perfect, and I know you miss her.” The bartender sets his pint in front of him and Ron drops a couple sickles on the counter. “But grow up, okay?”

He raises his glass in a mock-toast to her and swallows half of it in one go. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, glass still raised, and Parvati nods, lifting her own from the bar.

“To moving on?” she asks, and Ron shakes his head a little, says instead, “To Lavender.” There’s no pity here, no instantaneous forgiveness – just sorrow from both sides, sadness and regret. “To Lavender,” she echoes, and when she taps their drinks together Ron holds his glass against hers for an extra beat, lingering like a confirmation, like a kiss.

Their first official Death Eater arrest goes down badly: they’re on patrol in Cardiff and it’s a total accident, catching Terrence Higgs en route to a loyalist safehouse. He gives chase and they follow him inside the building and Parvati nearly splinches herself catching him mid-Disapparition, grasping onto the back of his robes with both hands and Apparating them both three feet to the left, trying to keep him from going any further. They land hard, crashing into the bookcase in a tangle of limbs and she knees him hard in the stomach, trying to get him to stop struggling. Higgs spits at her and grapples for his wand, but Parvati manages to knock him flat and straddles him, holding the own glowing tip of her ebony wand to the thick vein in his neck. She can feel the wet spot on her cheek where he spat at her but she doesn’t wipe it off, not yet; she leans over him and tells him, deadly serious, “One move and I’ll blow your damn brains out.”

Parvati slides off of him, wand still trained at his jugular, and Ron appears behind her, letting her sidestep him as he levitates Higgs to his feet. Higgs tries to run even against the spell but Ron only slams him into the table: gently enough that he isn’t completely incapacitated, but still hard enough that he has some of the wind knocked out of him. Ron turns Higgs forcefully against the table and pats him down, checking for hidden wands and knives. He passes both to Parvati, who shoves the wand into her own holster and the two daggers into her belt.

“You’re under arrest,” Ron tells him, moving to lock his arms behind his back, and Higgs grunts at him. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can – and you better believe it will – be used against you in a bloody court of law.”

“You have the right to an Advocate,” Parvati adds, wiping her face on her sleeve cuff with her free hand, “If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you. Do you understand these rights as we’ve read them to you?”

Higgs doesn’t answer, and Parvati gets in his face, forces him to look at her. “Do you understand?” she asks again, and Higgs nods reluctantly, rolling his eyes. “Good,” she says, “Didn’t want to mark you as uncooperative. Then you and I would get to have a little fun.”

Higgs glares at her. “Fucking bitch,” he grits out, “Mudblood-loving Paki dyke,” and Ron is on him before she even has a chance to react, smashing his head against the tabletop hard enough that Higgs’ breath bursts out of his lungs all at once from the force of it; it’s wet and sharp, like a balloon deflating. Ron’s hand is huge over Higgs’ face, pushing it brutally into the smooth wood of the table, and he leans in, squeezing hard as he tells him, “One more like that and it’s over, right now. Understand?”

He wheezes in response, another wet sound. Ron drags him backwards and the ropes she summons slide tight around him, cutting off any further movement he might make. They both have clearance to make emergency Portkeys in situations like this and Parvati drops her badge onto the table, casting the spell and waiting for it to glow blue with confirmation.

“Y’know,” she says, tilting her head at Ron, “I think ‘bitch’ is pretty much old hat by now, but ‘Paki dyke’ is definitely a new one. Must be the hair, huh?”

Ron shrugs in response, gives her a little smile as he hoists Higgs toward the waiting Portkey. “I like your hair,” he says, and Parvati smiles back, rolling up her sleeves.
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