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Doubt Fear And Confusion

Title: Doubt Fear And Confusion
Author: Vegablack62
Characters: Lavender, Neville, Seamus, Dean, Katie Bell, Cormic McClaggen
Rating: PG
Warnings: Mention of adolescent drinking.
Word Count: 3700
Summary:  It's sixth year. Dumbledore has died and Hogwarts has been attacked. Lavender has lost her boyfriend and has a lot of questions.
Author's Note:  This is a story that at times I love and at times I hate.  Let's see what you all think about it.  Not beta'd. Written or the hp_pg community sixth year challenge.

Lavender climbed the stairs back to Gryffindor house with Dean and Seamus thinking the whole time about how much she regretted snogging Seamus or rather letting him snog her. Now Seamus expected things from her, feeling entitled and possessive when she wasn’t interested in him at all. Days had gone by and he still wanted a repeat. He had begun to remind Lavender of her baby sister at her most demanding.

 

(Parvati had warned her that would happen, but Lavender hadn’t listened.)

 

She sighed because she was lonely. The school felt half empty. Parents were dragging kids home sure that Hogwarts had turned into a deathtrap once Dumbledore was dead. Even Parvati was gone and that left Lavender with a hole in her life. 

 

She found Seamus especially annoying, today.  He was touchy and easily offended over small offenses – temperamental. When Ron had acted hurt and thin-skinned, she’d thought of him as sensitive and found it lovable. Her heart had gone out to the boy who had always been in Harry’s shadow, who had done lots of things that no one seemed to notice, because they were too busy exclaiming over Harry.  Perhaps she was unfair but she had less patience with Seamus. 

 

When she’d gone off  with him she’d hoped that Ron would notice and care, or feel even a twinge of jealousy. But it hadn’t mattered; she thought Ron was even a little relieved.  Now he wouldn’t need to feel guilty anymore. He could forget about her, except to have something to say when he laughed with the other blokes. She had become nothing to him but something he could brag about. (Parvati had told her that too, but Lavender hadn’t believed her.)

   

Jealousy over Hermione sat in Lavender's stomach like sickness. The night of the battle, Hermione had slipped away before curfew. Even after Lavender had gone to bed, Hermione had not returned. Laying in the dark, knowing she was gone, Lavender had jealously pictured the girl with Ron. It turned out that she had been, but not in the way Lavender had feared. The reality felt a good deal worse, because they shared something  by fighting  together -- something real and powerful, more powerful than sharing a snog, even a good one.   

 

Dean stepped between her and Seamus and gave her a companionable bump on the shoulder as he walked up the stairs. She was glad to have him around to give her some space and cover. He understood how she felt. He had given her a wink today when he showed up tailing Seamus, keeping him  from becoming too much of a nuisance.

 

“What did you boys think when Neville, Harry, and Ron never came back after curfew?” she asked.  

 

Dean shrugged looking a bit chagrined. “I had a bottle of Ogdens hidden and we thought since the others were gone it would be a good time to have some just between ourselves. After awhile we didn’t care where they were.”  

 

“How did Neville know about the fight?” Seamus asked. “That’s what I want to know. We would have fought too if we’d known.”

 

Lavender gave him a sarcastic look. How well could they have fought after all that Ogden’s?

 

Dean had the grace to look embarrassed. “It weird to know they were off fighting while we did nothing,” he said.

 

Seamus just grunted. Anger rolled off of him, but Lavender didn’t know if that was over the attack or the fact that he’d missed the fight.

 

The fat lady was still crying when they reached the portrait. She’d been doing it off and on since the night Dumbledore died. Inside the common room they found Neville, apparently just back from the hospital, sitting in a chair by the fire. The strange Ravenclaw girl he hung around with, stood over him talking, while he nodded in response looking grim.  The other students gave him a wide berth, staring at him like he’d managed to transfigure himself into a new and frightening creature.  

 

The girl took out something that looked like a large hybrid turnip-onion and pressed it into his hand. “Thanks Luna,” he said with a small smile. The girl, in full costume from radish earrings to butterbeer cork necklaces and old beach sandals, nodded emphatically. She straightened and gave the room a quick look over before turning to go. The sandals snapped against her feat with loud fwap sounds as she walked away. It never ceased to amaze Lavender that a bloke as retiring as Neville hung out with a girl as theatrically strange as this one.  

 

As soon as the girl disappeared through the portrait a seventh year prefect cleared his throat and asked if Neville had let this girl from another house hear the password. Lavender almost laughed at the thought that passwords mattered now that Dumbledore was dead. 

 

“Luna isn’t interested in our password,” Neville replied impatiently.

 

The girl had been at the battle, the only non-Gryffindor student there. Lavender glanced at Dean and Seamus, who were obviously struggling with the thought that a batty Ravenclaw fifth year girl had been fighting while they’d been asleep.  

 

“Besides I don’t think she heard it,” Neville added. He could have pointed out that a girl who had fought to defend the castle could be trusted with a password, but he didn’t. He just shrugged and closed his eyes.“She was too busy helping me to pay much attention. I couldn’t remember what the password was. A first year had to let us in."  

 

“Neville, where are Harry and the others? We barely see them,” Katie Bell asked, while McLaggen chimed in that McGonagall didn’t seem to care that they weren’t around.

 

Neville opened his eyes and turned to them. “She knows they’re in the infirmary. Ginny and Ron’s brother is very bad off and they want to be near him.” 

 

“Neville, how did you know to show up for the fight?” Dean asked quietly.

 

“My coin told me.”

 

Katie Bell groaned and rubbed her forehead in frustration. She too must have forgotten about the coin. She gave a quick apologetic glance at the rest of the Quidditch team, who didn’t understand its significance. The others had not been in the DA, so they had no idea what Neville was talking about. They had been complaining about leaving their team captain in a lurch when he needed them. If Katie had had her coin she could have brought them to the fight.

 

Seamus let out a string of curses, while Dean laughed, saying “I don’t even know where mine is.”

 

Neither did Lavender. “What’s it like in a fight, Neville?” she asked. “I mean a real one, a battle.” 

 

“Confused,” he said. “Curses fly every which way. You can’t tell what direction they’re coming from and everyone is all mixed up. It’s all you can do to keep from hitting your own side.”

 

“Sounds like Quidditch,” McLaggen piped in.  

 

Some of the team laughed while Dean shook his head and rolled his eyes at Lavender.

 

Neville responded with a half smile and another shrug. “It’s not like defense class either,” he said. “You’re fighting one Death Eater and another shoots at you from behind, maybe lots of others shoot at you.”

 

Lavender wondered if that was how he was hit, but she didn’t want to ask in front of everyone. Neville was easily embarrassed.   She noticed that the three of them, Lavender, Dean and Seamus stood in the middle ground between Neville and the rest of the Gryffindors, who still stared at him like he was one of Hagrid’s class projects.

 

Dean pulled up chairs next to Neville for the three of them. “Neville, what do you know about Snape and Draco?” he asked. “No one’s seen either of them since the night Dumbledore died.”

 

“Everyone’s saying that Harry thinks Draco is a Death Eater, and Snape killed Dumbledore,” Seamus said sharply as if Neville was to blame for the gossip.

 

“If Harry says so, then I believe him. Draco led the Death Eaters into the school. I was there when he did it. And Snape – I saw him run from the tower where Dumbledore was killed, ferrying Draco out. The Death Eaters were attacking, Dumbledore was dead, and Snape ran off with Draco. He was protecting him.” Neville looked grim as he spoke, bitter even.   

 

“You were right all along about Snape then --  to be afraid of him,” Lavender said. She’d been in Mr. Lupin’s class third year; she’d seen Neville’s Boggart.

 

Neville didn’t answer, not even a nod, but stared back at them without comment. His skin looked stretched and tight across his face like it had shrunk while he’d been in the infirmary and no longer fit. When they asked how he was, all he would say was that he was tired which seemed true because he fell asleep in his chair almost as soon as they finished talking to him.

 

Later in the middle of the night, Lavender awoke with a start. The sound of steady breathing revealed Hermione asleep in the next bed. She had remained down stairs long after Lavender had gone to bed. The four of them, Ron, Hermione, Harry and Ginny had slipped into the common room minutes before curfew, and then had sat together in a window seat, talking behind their buzzing charm, watched but unapproachable. They intimidated everyone. Every night their constant whispering made it seem like they were planning something that the rest of them weren’t allowed to be a part of. Some nights Ginny left them and it was just the three friends plotting alone.   

 

Harry gave everyone, Seamus, Dean, even his Quidditch teammates, looks that said, “Stay away -- I’m too busy to talk to you.” Ron had eyes for no one but Hermione and the two of them were intent on Harry, the Chosen One.

 

Ron was moving farther away from her. Now Lavender felt he was too good for her, too important, that Ron was a hero, while Hermione was a heroine, the pair of them matching each other. Lavender had gone to bed early, disgusted with being watched while watching them.   Sometime in the night Hermione must have finally come to the room she now shared with Lavender alone.

 

Hermione made a small moan and rolled over in her sleep. After more than a month, the pain was still there. Lavender pulled a pillow over her head to cry, but she couldn’t bear it if Hermione woke up and heard her. She missed Parvati! She had no one to buffer between her and Hermione now.

 

Lavender jumped out of bed. The room was cold even for June in Scotland. She pulled a jumper on over her pajamas and put on a pair of trainers. She stepped softly out the door leaving it ajar so she could return without waking Hermione and made her way down the girl’s staircase to the common room.

 

At first Lavender crept down the steps, trying to be as quiet as she could, not wanting to wake anyone else and not wanting company, but a thump, crash and bang changed that. She ran down the steps holding her wand out, convinced that Death Eaters had broken into the common room as part of a renewed attack on the castle. She remembered Sirius Black. Perhaps the Death Eaters had wrung the passwords out of the hapless Luna girl and were now in the common room ready to make an attempt on the life of Harry. 

 

She burst into the room to find Neville leaning against a wall trying to turn a knocked over table upright. He was alone. Death Eaters were not attacking and she would not be part of a heroic rescue that would make her worthy of Ron and part of Harry’s inner circle. 

 

“Lavender, did I wake you up? I’m sorry.” The table slipped out of Neville’s hand and crashed to the floor. “Sorry,” he said again, as he tried to reach for it with one arm while doubled over and holding the other close around his side.   

 

Lavender rushed over and righted the table, setting it aside quickly while helping him lean against the wall. “There’s nothing to be sorry about. You didn’t wake me. I was coming down because I couldn’t sleep. Are you alright?”

 

“I’m fine. I woke up in the chair and decided I needed to go to bed. I stood up too fast and then I didn’t see the table in the dark.”

 

She set the knocked over library books and book bag back on the table and repaired a broken cup and glass with a few easy spells. She was sure the books were Hermione’s and she knew the bag was Ron’s. Her own tarot cards were scattered everywhere. She summoned them easily enough and hid them away in her pajama pocket. She didn’t want Ron or Hermione noticing them and thinking she’d been fussing over their things. 

 

“See,” she said. “Easy to fix. It’s not a problem.” She felt sorry for him; he was red with embarrassment. How hard it must be for Neville to hate attention so much while constantly making a spectacle of himself.

 

He tried to take a step toward the boys staircase, one arm leaning against the wall, another pressed firmly against his side. He was obviously hurting, which was no surprise, since he’d only just come back from the infirmary. She was irritated with the boys, not one of the four of them thought of waking Neville and helping him up the stairs. 

 

She took his arm and wrapped it over her shoulder to his obvious surprise. “You’re not going to get up to your room by yourself,” she told him.

 

She was right. Very soon he was leaning his weight on her with every step, muttering his third set of apologies of the night. 

   

They made their way up the stairs, Neville moving slower and slower with every floor. She’d forgotten how long the walk was to the sixth year dorms. He barely seemed able to make it. Really one of the boys should have done this. Once she would have mentally rushed to Ron’s defense, ready to come up with an excuse for everything he did, but now she decided she should feel irritated. Neville, who had fought along side him and was wounded, needed help. Ron the prefect should have made sure he received it. She tried to make the irritation grow into anger, but she couldn’t, not with Ron’s brother still in the infirmary.

 

Lavender stopped on a landing, ready to use a question as an excuse to give Neville a chance to get his breath back. “Neville, how hurt is Ron’s brother?” she asked, genuinely worried, for the moment not caring if she sounded like she still fancied Ron.

 

“His face is destroyed. He was mauled by a werewolf -- a vicious one, not like Professor Lupin at all. There wasn’t a full moon so he isn’t as bad off as he could have been. He won’t be a werewolf, but the bites are horrible.”

 

The thought of a werewolf who wanted to bite even when he wasn’t transformed dazed her. They’d learned about werewolves in school, how they lived as men when the moon-madness wasn’t on them. How the prejudice against them was unfair, because most tried their best to avoid hurting people, but this man-creature was a werewolf out of the wildest nightmare. He tore at a man’s face with his teeth and hands.   She shuddered. As much as she hated to think it, Lavender was glad that she had missed the battle and had not had to see something so hideous.

 

“Lavender… I wasn’t telling the whole truth when I said the battle was confusing -- it was scary – very scary. I left that out.” 

 

“Really Neville, I would never have known a battle was scary if you hadn’t told me. Thank you.”

 

He laughed and then gave her a grin with a little shrug added at the end. Everyone else was asleep. They were in their own little world. Lavender wondered if anyone besides them was awake in all of Hogwarts.

 

“I wanted to help Ron’s brother,” Neville added quietly. “I saw that man tear into him like an animal, but I didn’t react quickly enough. I couldn’t help it. The mauling was so brutal. I froze.” He spoke like he was confessing something terrible. “I was trying to hex that – man, when I was hit by someone else.”

 

“There were a lot of people there. None of them hit him either. They probably all froze when they saw what he was doing.”

 

Neville stared at her a moment and then nodded. He turned to start up the stairs again when the onion-thing Luna gave him fell out of his robe pocket. He tried to catch it but missed it and almost brought them both tumbling over. She had to use all her strength to keep him and herself upright.  He apologized again for what had to have been the fourth time. Really that boy needed to learn that he wasn’t at fault for everything and that excessive apologizing was annoying.  The onion-vegetable-thing hit the tread with a thud and then bounced step after step down the stairs. Each bang getting quieter as it made its way down to the common room.

 

Neville grinned again; apparently the loss of his turnip-onion-vegetable made him happy. “I think I’ll let that go,” Neville said.  “Luna believes it’s a cure-all, but I’m hoping to lose it, so I won’t have to come up with an excuse for why I don’t carry it all the time.”

 

Neville had been spending a lot of time with that odd girl. He’d once had a mad crush on Hermione -- she was sure of that. She suspected, but was less sure, that this year he’d had one on Ginny. He should be as miserable as she and Dean were, but he seemed quite cheerful at least before he was injured.  Perhaps Luna had helped him to forget the other two.  A wicked impulse made her ask him if she was his girlfriend.

 

“She’s my friend,” he answered simply. He didn’t seem to be self-conscious at the idea, so obviously there was no romance there. Lavender sighed; a little love-affair between Neville and that girl would have been fun to watch.

 

The rest had apparently helped him because he turned to make his way up the last of the stairs. As they approached the floor where the sixth year boys slept Lavender wondered how far she should take her help. Was she going to have to go into the room and help get him over to his bed? Was he going to be able to get into his pajamas alone? She drew the line at helping him get undressed. 

 

Neville stopped a few steps from the landing outside his room. “You’d better go. I can do the rest myself, but … thank you for your help. You were right. I couldn’t have climbed up here alone.” 

 

She smiled with amusement. Of course he didn’t want help getting his shirt off; he didn’t even what help into the room. This was Neville she was thinking about-- he was shy. She ignored his words and helped him until they made their way through the door. Boys were asleep in their beds on every side of the room. She thought she could see through some bed curtains to where Ron lay splayed out on his back. It was very strange to be here, surrounded by sleeping boys, just feet from Ron. If they woke up she wondered what they would all think. Probably that she was some slag sneaking around in the middle of the night.  Being caught with Neville would have just made it seem funnier to them.

 

Neville firmly pushed her hand away, and nodded toward the stairs. She supposed it wasn’t fair of her to be here. She’d be angry if some boy crept around her bed while she was asleep. And really the thought of being caught here was bad, having Ron catch her would make it worse.

 

As she made her way down the stairs she heard the soft sound of whispered voices from the room. Someone must have heard Neville and was now awake. She took off on her tiptoes as silently and as quickly as she could. 

           

 

The next morning Lavender was relieved to find everyone acting like the last night had never happened.  Neville smiled at her once and thanked her again, but no one else seemed aware. She’d been afraid that the story of her late night trip to the boy’s dorm would be too good a story to keep quiet, but it looked like Neville hadn’t told anyone about her help. She wasn’t on the receiving end of any odd looks or attitude, just Seamus’s irritation that she wasn’t going to allow their one snog to turn into anything more serious. That was a mistake that she had no intention of repeating.   She didn’t know if she could stand the wait for Seamus to start acting normal again.

 

Though to be fair she hadn’t learned to act normal when Ron was around either. Staying calm while he was lying asleep in his bed just feet away from her made her feel quite mature and self-controlled, but in the morning the old overwhelming emotions returned. But she was done moping over Ron whatever feelings she still had for him. She was seventeen, a woman in the wizarding world and she was not wasting her time over a boy who didn’t care about her.

 

Stories about the battle were floating around more and more. Dean told her that he heard Neville had fought wildly, throwing himself like a crazy person at some magical barrier even after he’d been hurt. Lavender listened to the stories and remembered the conversation from the night before and how different the fight sounded then. Neville hadn’t sounded fierce but full of doubt and fear.  That was what battles made you feel she reckoned.

 

She was seventeen, good looking and dumped by her boyfriend. Dumbledore was dead and his funeral was in a few days. Who knew what was coming after that?  

 

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
clionona
Sep. 24th, 2009 02:55 pm (UTC)
Beautiful!
Seeing Lavender like this was wonderful! I wanted to whoop with joy over the line about her being done with "moping over Ron".
The movie did a great disservice to Lavender and reading this did me a lot of good!

As always, thanks for sharing your amazing talent!

♥!
vegablack62
Sep. 24th, 2009 04:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks for commenting. I'm glad you liked this. I thought Lavender was made to look like an idiot in the movies. I like her so I always give her a chance to tell her side of things.

Thanks for reading and reviewing.
sometimeselkie
Sep. 25th, 2009 04:22 am (UTC)
I know you didn't like Lavender in the movies, but I thought the actress did well with the part. There was a lot she could've played for slapstick and she didn't.

Anyways, I like how you've fleshed out Lavender's character here - the fact that she doesn't like-like Seamus shows that she's not one to just fall into infatuation with anyone who shows her attention and just forget about Ron. I think you did a good job showing the mundane life-must-go-on after the battle and Dumbledore's death. Nice bit of foreshadowing with her thoughts on the werewolf attack!

Oh, and I liked the bit about the trio + Ginny being standoffish and intimidating to everyone. I'm sure that's what it looked like from the outside.
vegablack62
Sep. 25th, 2009 06:26 am (UTC)
This was't really about Lavender in the movies, but my idea of what Lavender is like on the inside. It's sort of a prelude to my seventh year story.

I'm glad you liked my depiction of Lavender here, especially the part with Seamus.

I'm glad her perception of the trio worked. I don't think they meant to appear as Lavender saw them, but I do think that is how they would look to outsiders. The buzzing charm would draw attention to them at the same time as say we're talking here and your not a part of it. There's a reason of course, but that's how it would look.

Thanks for commenting its very appreciated. (I didn't have a problem with the actress. It was the way Lavender was written that I didn't like.)
(Deleted comment)
vegablack62
Sep. 26th, 2009 02:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I've often thought about what the other students thought about Harry and his friends whispering behind spells alone when not running off and having adventures. After the battle Harry seemed to have cut himself off from everyone except Ron, Hermione and Ginny. I wondered what they all thought of that.
phil_urich
Oct. 1st, 2009 01:22 am (UTC)
I’m not sure if I’ve told you this before, but I love your Lavender. Always a girl on the cusp of becoming a woman, always something going on beneath the surface. Very nice job.
vegablack62
Oct. 1st, 2009 01:59 am (UTC)
Thank you. I enjoy writing Lavender. I do see her exactly as you describe.

Thank you for reading and commenting by the way. I know you are busy with your own work.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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