Chapter 1 : Scars
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I was a vain young girl, preferring to gaze upon the beautiful boys of Hogwarts in the evenings rather than do my homework. The year before that fateful day I had even pushed myself to attend quidditch practices in the hopes of attracting the attention of one Ronald Weasley, even though I despised the game. The attention I received from him afterwards had, in my young mind, seemed worth it, especially because I could hold something over my best mate Parvarti: I had a boyfriend. After all, wasn’t that what young girls strived for?
Now that I look back upon my younger self, I see how shallow I truly was. How I had foolishly put looks and boyfriends and popularity above schoolwork and studies. And look at me now, lying in bed and wallowing because my looks were torn away from me, my once flawless skin marred by that night. The Battle of Hogwarts, it’s called. People view it as one of the most important battles in wizarding history. But all I remember is a horrible night, cut through by flashes of green and the crazed screams of those who fell.
The horrible night that changed me forever.
The night that Fenrir Greyback attacked me, leaving large gashes across the left side of my face. The Healers that treated me told me I was lucky that he had missed my eye, because there’s only so much magic they can use when it’s an eye. In that moment I cursed them, believing my life was ruined no matter if my eye had been spared. In truth it was, but I was foolish to have thought that of them.
Foolish. It’s truly the only word that can describe me at that age. A foolish eighteen year old girl, her beauty ruined by war. It had taken me years to love myself again, although that time was still filled with days like this, leaving me alone in bed to cry over my lost face. And then she came into my life.
Merlin, she’s the light in my life. Before her, I would never had acted on my impulses. Parvarti was a friend, nothing I more, I used to tell myself. And if you believed otherwise and tried something, it would ruin things. But Juno never felt like a friend. She had always seemed like an extension of me. So when I had made the decision and leaned in to kiss her that first time and she had responded, I had been elated.
Since then she had become everything to me. My days spent in bed had been lessened, my general mood had gotten better, and my happiness had been improved tenfold. And even when that nagging voice in my head would come back, teasing me of the scars that ran across my face, and I would cry and scream and break all the mirrors in our flat, she would calm me down and fix everything. She built me up and never tore me down. She was my light.
She’ll be home soon, I suddenly thought, groaning into my pillow. She hates seeing you like this. It hurts her. Get up.
I painfully unwound myself from the blankets that cocooned me and sat up, squinting as the sunlight filtered in through the small window. I looked around, drinking in the familiar sight of my bedroom. Everything was in its place, the only thing slightly mussed being the bed I had just vacated. Juno cleaned when she got worried for me. When I had opted not to get up this morning to see her off I guess she must have reverted back into cleaning mode.
Unlike Juno, I was unemployed. The months it took to recover from my attack, and then the weeks of therapy needed afterwards, both mental and physical, as one gash had lashed through my cheek, giving me a hard time while talking even now, had taken a toll on my potential careers. Not to mention I hadn’t finished my N.E.W.T.s, and the prospect of being an auror frightened me. Fortunately the ministry sent me a pension every month. It was enough to get by, but Juno’s income helped us tremendously.
I got off the bed and slowly made my way over to the bathroom. Out of habit I ignored the mirror and instead began occupying myself with the trivial products on the counter. First I brushed my hair, then I brushed my teeth. Finally I looked up and saw my reflection and I broke. The white lines that crisscrossed along the left side of my face held me paralyzed.
Three distinct ones ran from my hairline to my jawline, one just barely grazing the corner of my eye and another raking across my cheek, the surrounding skin still slightly red. Small white circles wound their way into an oval just under my jaw, the remnants of a bite that may have ended my life. Several other jagged lines were visible against my skin, like the one through my eyebrow or the one down the length of my nose, but thankfully they had started to fade. But the large ones would never go away.
I tore my gaze from the mirror in an attempt to calm myself as tears began forming in my eyes, but only succeeded in making myself feel worse as I stared directly at a photo of Juno, her blue eyes sparkling as she laughed in the photograph. She had hung these photos all over the flat in an attempt to keep me grounded when she was out and I was not coping well. Usually they worked, but today all I could think of was how she couldn’t deserve this.
She was so beautiful and sweet, and she deserved more than a girl with tracks mangling her face and an even more scarred psyche. Juno deserved the world, and I could never give that to her.
You’re ugly, a voice piped up in my head. It’s a wonder she even looked your way in the first place. I ground my teeth together as the voice continued. Do you really think she loves you? it asked. Do you really think that she’s not just settling, too scared to leave the girl with nothing? She could do so much better than an ugly monster like yourself. You can’t even get up in the morning!
“Shut up,” I growled, turning to stare back in the mirror.
Now, now, the voice cooed delicately, you don’t want to be rude, now do you? After all, aren’t I part of you? I’m just saying what your heart is too afraid to realize.
I felt my tears spill over and I gave a sharp scream. Leaving the bathroom in tears, I stormed back into my bedroom. I made my way over to the door separating this room from the rest of the flat and I slammed my fist against it, welcoming the pain. I did that three more times before finally giving up and leaning against it, my forehead growing cool against the smooth wood. I calmed down enough for the tears to go away when I heard the front door of the flat open.
“Lavender?” I heard as Juno’s keys clinked as she dropped them in the key bowl. “Lav, sweetheart, how are you?”
I steeled myself and opened the bedroom door, stepping out with a shaky smile. “Juno!”
She was taking off her coat, her eyes dancing. She always had such beautiful eyes. Her auburn hair was piled on top of her head and she smiled at me, as radiant as ever.
“Lav!” she sighed, putting away her coat and then walking over to embrace me.
I welcomed the interaction, holding her as if she was the only one who could keep the voices at bay. When she finally pulled away, she gave me a strange look.
“Lav, are you okay?” she asked, cupping my cheek and letting her thumb trail against it.
I shivered at her touch but didn’t say anything. I couldn’t without fear of exploding, letting all my fears come out.
“Lav, tell me what’s wrong, sweetheart.”
I closed my eyes, tears welling up quickly now, threatening to pool over as they did before. Juno’s thumb continued to softly caress my cheek and I leaned into the touch. I felt so vulnerable, so broken.
“You don’t deserve this,” I said quickly, breaking away from her. “You don’t deserve to be stuck with me, like this. Merlin, Juno, you deserve so much better.”
She looked flabbergasted, her mouth slightly open and her eyes dancing with confusion. I wrapped my arms around myself and stepped away from her. Tears ran down my cheeks, the marred one and the smooth one alike.
“I don’t want you to have to settle, Juno. You’re so beautiful and you deserve someone just as beautiful.” I took a shaky breath and blinked my eyes a few times to settle the tears. “I don’t want to be the reason that such a beautiful woman is stuck with an ugly thing like me. You don’t need to bear that burden.”
It was silent for a few moments before Juno spoke. “Lavender, I love you,” she said simply, taking a few steps forward to stand in front of me. “I love you because you are the most amazing person I have ever met. You make me laugh, you make me smile, you make the sun shine brighter.”
Then, with a flourish of her wand, Juno summoned a small package from her bag she had left at the front door. She smiled and held it out to me, her eyes searching my face.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Lav,” she said quietly, waiting for me to finally reach out and grab the package before wrapping me in a hug. “There is absolutely no one I would rather spend this day with than you.”
I began to cry once more and a quiet sob escaped my lips. “But Juno, you deserve so much more than me with my scars. You deserve to be with someone who compliments your beauty and doesn’t cause people to wonder why you’re with someone so… so… ugly.”
Juno placed her hands on my cheeks and forced me to look at her, her blue eyes sparkling as they always had. “Lavender Brown,” she said softly, smiling at me, “in the seven years that we’ve been together, I have come across so many beautiful girls, even just as I walk down the street.” I felt my heart constrict and the tears flow faster down my face. “But,” Juno emphasized, coming closer until our foreheads were touching, “the only thing I see when I look at them is how they aren’t you. I love you, Lav, with all my heart and soul. You are the most gorgeous girl in the world. I adore you, darling.”
I laughed shakily and hiccoughed, reaching out to hold her. “I love you too, Juno,” I said quietly, my heart racing.
She smiled and then leaned in, one hand threading up to the back of my neck to pull me in closer as she kissed me with so much passion I felt as though she was trying to convey her love through her lips. When we broke apart she gave a small laugh.
“Now where’s my present?” she asked excitedly. “I know you’ve gotten me something amazing!”
I giggled softly but quickly accio’d the bag I had hidden in the back of our closet, knowing that she wouldn’t dream of peeking. I handed it to her and laughed as she took out the teddy bear and screeched happily. I had seen it in a shop window and knew she would love it. It was holding a small heart with the words “I Love You” embroidered in changing colours. Juno wrapped me in another hug and gave me another quick peck on the lips before pulling me into the sitting room so that she could tell me all about her day.
As we made our way to our favourite couch, I caught a glimpse of myself in our hall mirror. The scars on my face were as prominent as ever, but in that moment I didn’t mind, because Juno’s hand was in mine.
She says that I’m the most gorgeous girl in the world. I know I’m not. But when I’m with her, I feel so loved and adored. And maybe I don’t need that flawless face I once had to be beautiful, because all I need for that is her.
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