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Blue Lavender by nott theodore
Chapter 1 : I.
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 6

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So then. You want a story and I will tell you one.*

But I warn you now, this may not be a story that you want to hear. For this is the story of a lost girl that people would rather forget. It is the story of a girl who has fallen into the darkness, and calls out for help, craning her neck to glimpse the speck of light that appears in the distance, far, far away. It is the story of a girl who kicks her feet like a swan, desperately paddling to keep her head above the water, trying not to slip into oblivion.

It is my story.

Lavender Brown is the epitome of a silly, thoughtless girl. Her head is full of fluff. If she had remained in the Muggle world where her mother was born, she would have believed in horoscopes. As it is, she believes in the powers of Divination. One of her favourite pastimes is examining her own tea leaves to determine the outcome of her future. She had a fleeting relationship with Ronald Weasley, insisting on calling him Won-Won, and her bedtime reading consists of heady romance novels.

This is the girl that people think they know.

Lavender Brown is a fighter. She belongs to Gryffindor house, was a member of Dumbledore’s Army and fought at the Battle of Hogwarts. She is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, and is fiercely loyal to her friends and family. A long scar runs down the right side of her neck to her collarbone, a lasting reminder of her fight.

This is the girl that lurks beneath the frivolous surface.

I am Lavender Brown.

Since the Battle of Hogwarts, the frivolous surface has cracked and crumbled, fading away into nothing. I am a pale shadow of the girl I used to be. Hollow. The light that burned bright in my eyes as I raised my wand to meet the Death Eater attacks has been extinguished, and I take refuge in my home, avoiding contact with people.

They are all so much better than me. Parvati keeps calling to see me multiple times, but I tell my parents not to let her in. She is not broken like I am. In the months since the battle, my best friend has started her life anew. Each day Parvati goes to Auror training, participating in a special course designed for those people who were not able to complete their NEWTs due to the war. And in the evenings, she spends time with Seamus, who after years has finally found the courage to tell her his feelings. If things were different I would smile for them, but I have not smiled since April. When I speak, my cheek muscles ache.

I have not moved on. I do not know why I cannot. Gradually, since the time of the battle, I have withdrawn from life, from my friends and my family. My mum has suggested that I visit a counsellor, but what could I tell a Muggle about the blitz my life has been? The Healers offer no alternative; even now, they are in disarray, desperately trying to restore their usual services while providing care for those who were injured in the battle. They have no resources or time to waste on people like me. Besides, I do not know what I would tell them.

Each night I am woken by terrors; flashing green lights and screamed curses interrupt my sleep. I witness the bodies of the fallen again and again, lying row upon row in the Great Hall. It is impossible to forget that I have seen classmates, housemates and friends die around me. Their names are seared on my mind, written in blood red every time I close my eyes.

And yet I survive. I am alive, curled up in a ball, tears streaming inexplicably down my cheeks, and all I have to show for my presence at the battle is the ugly red scar at my throat.

I am selfish. When so many others died, I was given life, but I am incapable of embracing it. My future could be fantastic, full of light and happiness. At the moment I can see no further ahead than the next day, the next hour. The darkness that the Death Eaters brought has lingered in my mind, wrapping around every thought so that I cannot escape it.

When people talk to me, it feels as though I have cotton wool in my ears. Their words are muffled, distant. Sometimes I think that I do not belong in this world. It is so alien to me now.

I have not told anyone about these thoughts. Their eyes are trained on me, concern clear in the blue and green and brown. I cannot bear them thinking badly of me, and so I stay quiet, and yet I cannot bring myself to care enough to make a real effort to change, to pull myself from the days of crying and sleeping and darkness.

The light is there, but it is travelling further and further away and I can no longer see how to break free from the prison of my mind.

Lights are flashing. Red, purple, white. Green.

A scream, a curse.

A body falls to the stone floor with a sickening crunch.

I have lost my friends. Parvati, Padma, Seamus, Neville – we had to scatter and separate, and since the spiders arrived I have not seen them. I do not know if they are alive or dead.

The lights continue, the shouts. The sound of death is deafening. The masks that initially told me who was friend and who was foe have slipped in the fight, and my only guide is keeping my wand ready to protect myself from anyone willing to attack a student. It is little comfort.

My feet are pacing quickly. Running means that I am moving, and moving targets are harder to hit. It is something that both Ginny and Neville insisted we practise this year in our secret meetings in the Room of Requirement. I am by the staircase, then, suddenly, I am on my back on the floor.

For a few seconds, my vision disappears. The back of my head is throbbing and I feel blood trickling from my forehead. In that moment I am gripped by fear. I am utterly defenceless.

A searing pain in my neck. Teeth rip into the flesh, and I thrash automatically, feebly fighting with my attacker. The teeth move down my neck, biting into my skin and I want to cry out in pain but I have no voice.

The figure looms over me for a second, yellow teeth and black, glittering eyes. It is then I realise that I am going to die.

The door opens. I rarely leave my room now, only occasionally for meals, but this is normally when my parents insist, looking close to tears themselves. Instead they come to see me, here, in this small single bedroom. It is a mess, with clothes and paper littered on the floor. At night I hear my mum creep in, picking up my laundry when she thinks I am sleeping. But the occasions on which they come in and try to talk to me are becoming less frequent. I know that I have driven them away with my surly replies and unnatural quiet.

“Lavender.” The floor creaks. It is dark but I have lost track of the days and nights and I don’t know what time it is. Even in my hazy, gloomy mind-set I recognise my dad’s voice. Until now he has left the majority of the attempts at communication to mum, but clearly he has decided that enough is enough.

As he sits on my bed, he speaks again. “Lavender, blue Lavender. Come on sweetheart, you can’t stay like this.”

At his words, the tears begin to roll down my face again. I have been lying in my bed for an indeterminate amount of time, the minutes passing without me noticing, and my muscles are beginning to ache with inactivity. But my eyes, blinking out the tears, are the only thing that move.

“Lavender, we hate seeing you like this, love. Tell us what’s wrong. We can’t help you otherwise.”

Silence. It is indeed deafening.

“Blue Lavender,” he begins again, using my childhood nickname. It feels both oddly appropriate and inappropriate for my current state of mind. “We’re really worried about you. Since… since May you’ve hidden yourself away and it’s not good for you. You need to go out and talk to your friends and see people. Would you consider seeing a professional?”

Again I do not answer. My throat seems to be sealed, not letting any words escape. He waits for some time, then realising I am not going to reply, the bed creaks again as he leaves me to my listlessness.

For a few seconds, my vision disappears. The back of my head is throbbing and I feel blood trickling from my forehead. In that moment I am gripped by fear. I am utterly defenceless.

A searing pain in my neck. Teeth rip into the flesh, and I thrash automatically, feebly fighting with my attacker. The teeth move down my neck, biting into my skin and I want to cry out in pain but I have no voice.

The figure looms over me for a second, yellow teeth and black, glittering eyes. It is then I realise that I am going to die.

One day, my parents let Parvati in. She comes to my room, wrinkling her nose at the smell and frowning at the closed curtains.

“Lavender,” she says.

I bury my head further into the pillow and do not answer.

“Lavender,” she says again, tugging at my duvet. “I want to talk to you.”

“Go away.” My face hurts and my voice rasps. It is a long time since I have spoken.

“You’re my best friend, Lav. You never go out anymore. You need help.”

“I’m fine,” I insist stubbornly. My words are muffled by the pillow. Parvati is my best friend and I do not know why I am hiding from her. But she has Seamus now, and she does not need me. She has moved on with her life.

“Fine,” she snaps, suddenly exasperated. This is not the only time she has come to visit me, and there are heaps of unopened letters from her strewn across the floor of my room. But this time she moves her hands from the duvet, and I feel oddly upset by the disappearance of the pressure, even though it was what I wanted. “You know, Lavender, you’re not the only one who fought. You aren’t the only one who has scars. When you’re ready, come and find me.”

An inordinate amount of time passes. Days have disappeared from my life, and I have no marker of time, except the brief snatches of conversation that trickle into my consciousness when I sit in the same room as my family. I think it is months now, rather than weeks, since I have left the house. People must be forgetting about me; even Parvati does not call round again. I am slipping away into oblivion, and sometimes, even though I hate the darkness, it feels like an easier alternative to leaving these four walls and seeing people. That idea is something my mind will not tolerate; it shies away from it, and I weep each time it presents itself.

Eventually, another letter arrives, and, hesitantly, I decide to open it. There is a curious feeling in my stomach as I see the envelope arrive. Although I cannot name it, it feels vaguely familiar, as if it is something I have experienced before. I pretend not to notice my parents’ excited glances as they watch me slit the parchment open.

For the first time in months, seeing Parvati’s neat, curly writing makes the gloom draw back – it does not go completely, but it lessens, just a little. Life is a shade lighter for a few precious seconds. I realise that I am pleased she has written, in spite of the months I have spent avoiding her, and my rudeness on her visit. Seeing her handwriting makes things feel normal again for a moment.

There is nothing remarkable in her letter. She writes about her training, and about her sister – they are sharing a flat together – and about Seamus. She writes as a continuation of other letters she has sent, as if I have read them instead of ignoring them.

I read the letter over and over again for hours. Then, eventually, I find a quill and parchment and I begin to write.

For a couple of weeks, Parvati and I exchange letters. I cannot bear the thought of going out of the house yet; my skin is paper-white, almost translucent in its sallowness. I have lost count of the months that have passed without me stepping outside of my parents’ semi-detached house.

Writing these letters reminds me of our schooldays. Technically it has been just months since I was a pupil at Hogwarts, but now it all seems years ago. My life has changed so much since then – I have changed so much. But slipping back into the routine of writing to Parvati makes me recall the long summers we spent apart, she visiting her family in India and me putting up with drizzly holidays in Welsh caravans. The differences in our lives seem starker than ever, but it does not seem to matter as much as I write to her, filling my parchment without anything to report, replying with comments on her own news.

Her letters are so filled with Seamus that they almost read like a romance novel; the pair of them have their happy ending. If circumstances were different, if I were different, I would be squealing over her news, thrilled with the fact that they are finally a couple. I am not that girl anymore, but I write my congratulations, I comment on the small details.

And slowly, actually sharing these letters with Parvati, I begin to breathe again. I do not go out, I do not stop snapping and shouting at my family for no reason at all, I do not stop crying irrationally. But I pick up the piles of unopened envelopes, I sort through them. Then, tentatively, I open the curtains a little and blink at the light that is reappearing in my life.

Charlie, my little brother, tugs on my sleeve. He is twelve years younger than me, with an adorable smile and big blue eyes that are as bright as mine used to be. It has been almost six months since I last noticed him, and he has grown, his brown hair scruffy.

“Let’s play,” he says. He has his coat on and is looking eagerly at the back door. I know he wants me to go outside and join him in the garden, but the idea fills me with a terror that grips my insides and twists them painfully.

“I can’t, Charlie. You go.” In the last few days, I have made an attempt to speak again, to hold a normal conversation instead of yelling or crying. It is not easy. Often my mind wanders mid-speech, drifting away from the topic and the people. But I am speaking, and I am making an effort, and it is impossible not to see the smiles on my parents’ faces when they notice this.

“I want to play!” Charlie insists. He is still tugging on my sleeve. He’s only six, but the stubborn streak I possess has obviously been replicated here.

It is hard to resist, but I shake my head again. The fear works its way up my chest, tightening around my throat so that it is hard to breathe. The pulling continues, and my little brother is staring at me, his big blue eyes filling with tears. At the back of my mind, a small voice tells me this is a trick – as the baby of the family he has learnt to get what he wants – but guilt is suddenly introduced into this melee of emotion and on impulse, I stand up shakily.

My parents say nothing as I stumble into the hallway to retrieve the coat I have not worn for months. It drowns me, flapping around my legs like Snape’s cloak. Charlie is bouncing around as I follow him out of the door.

Outside it is freezing, despite my thick coat. The October sun is shining in a pale blue sky but I shiver watching Charlie dash out and throw his ball in the air. I feel heady, almost dizzy, in the open space, but my little brother is thrilled to see me outside. For a second I wonder what I must have seemed like to him, all these months. I wonder if he called me a ghost, or if he ever admitted to having a sister at school.

“Catch!” he shouts, tossing the bright ball at me. I put my hands out but miss the catch entirely; it does not matter because he laughs loudly, amused at my poor coordination. Picking up the ball, I throw it back to him, my aim several yards wide. There is a reason I never played Quidditch.

“Slow down, Charlie,” I gasp. I have walked no further than down the stairs recently, and racing around our small garden after an energetic little boy is making my heart race.

Unexpectedly, he drops the ball and runs towards me, arms outstretched, to hug me around the waist.

“I love you, Lavender,” Charlie says.

For the first time in months, my lips twitch into a small smile.

Author's Note:
The quote 'So then. You want a story and I will tell you one.' comes from page 1 of And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini - this is written for MissesWeasley123's Khaled Hosseini Quote Challenge.
It's been a while since I've written first person and this is the first time I've attempted a story like this, so let me know what you think!

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