Warning(s): Second-person. Implied character death.
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 1000 words
Summary: Once upon a time, there were two girls who were close, and then they weren't, and then they were again.
Note: Written for inell's Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (With Each Other) challenge.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
She passes you on Platform Nine and Three Quarters, head bent, listening to her sister. You can tell the difference between them easily even now, all these years later. Padma's eyes are even and calm; Parvati's are lively, laughing as though to mock the dreary autumn day, the atmosphere of unease amongst the considerably reduced ranks of students returning to Hogwarts.
You wonder what she's even doing here; last you heard, their father wanted them to transfer to Beauxbatons. Then you see her eyes light up even brighter as she waves to Lavender Brown. Brown turns with a sad little smile on her face; she's looking through the crowd, her eyes moving rapidly from side to side as though she's searching for someone she knows she won't find. Brown sees you and makes a face; you turn away, sneering.
It wasn't supposed to be like this -- Parvati wasn't supposed to be sorted into Gryffindor. She'd always had a devious streak -- an underlying layer of cunning and a driven desire to get ahead despite the veneer of propriety and fairness. You used to talk about what you would do when you went to Hogwarts together, sitting cross-legged on the plush rug in the Patils' drawing room while Padma sat in an armchair, nose in a book.
You used to talk about the Great Hall, and what the Sorting ceremony would be like, and sneaking into the kitchens for midnight snacks like your parents used to do. You talked about boys and lessons and pretty nightgowns, and the strange creatures that lived in the Forbidden Forest. You were sure you would be in the same house; you were so alike, after all. You would be best friends forever.
Instead, she was sorted into Gryffindor, that breeding ground of Mudbloods and do-gooders.
"Ooh, sticking up for Longbottom. Never thought you'd like fat little crybabies, Parvati."
She gave you a look of extreme distaste then, and with that, years of friendship were erased and entirely new lines were drawn between the two of you.
You let Blaise help you onto the train. He rubs his thumb surreptitiously over his new badge as he stands aside to let you into the prefects' carriage. You roll your eyes at him and walk down the corridor, wondering who's going to replace Granger and Weasley -- and Abbott, for that matter. She never did return to school after her filthy Muggle mother died.
You have your answer as soon as you walk into the compartment -- it's Longbottom and Brown, looking out of place and apprehensive. You cast another glance around and wonder if it's accidental or precautionary that all the prefects are pure-bloods. There is a tiny twinge of regret that Parvati isn't the new Gryffindor seventh-year prefect -- it would only make sense, with her twin as Head Girl. You take your usual seat by the door and ignore everyone but Blaise until Macmillan shows up.
You hear the bright sound of her laugh carrying over the murmurs of the Great Hall and frown; it isn't right that even after all this time, you remember how she used to laugh. The post owls arrive moments later, and her laughter turns into a shriek. You glance at the front page of Blaise's copy of the Daily Prophet and your heart begins to race as you watch the Patil house burning; the Dark Mark high up in the sky above it, grinning toothily in mockery of Parvati's earlier laughter.
You watch Brown lead her out of the Great Hall, a comforting arm round her hunched shoulders, and think of squashy armchairs and well-worn rugs, merrily crackling fireplaces and the faint smell of curry.
While the sixth-years practise Apparition, the seventh-years master Side-Along Apparition; stronger students are paired up with weaker ones, Slytherins with Gryffindors, you with Parvati.
Her face is grim, and you could almost mistake her for Padma if it weren't for that glimmer of the devil dancing beneath her long, thick eyelashes -- an echo of happier times.
"I'm sorry about your mum and dad," you say quietly.
She gives you a surprised look, searching and curious. After a long moment, during which there is nothing around you, she gives a slow, careful nod. "I'm sorry about Mal-- Draco," she says finally.
People say there are two sides in every war, when really there are three. There are those who live, those who die, and those who stay behind to mourn. It feels strange to be on the same side with her again.
Your hand is shaking as you offer her your arm, and you curl your fingers into a tight fist.
Parvati sits at the foot of a statue in the courtyard, her robes arranged artfully around her. She looks like a doll someone chose to prop up in a giant playground; her face is like a mask and her lips shine with gloss. You want to ask her if she still likes the cherry-flavoured gloss best. Instead, you stand in front of her and gaze down at her bowed head.
"You'll catch cold sitting on the stones," you say.
She looks up and offers you a small smile. "Lavender said to wait here," she says. "I'm so tired," she says.
You hold out your hand to her. "Here," you say, your voice suddenly breaking.
In a rush of robes and air filled with the smell of her perfume, she gets up and faces you. The last time you stood this close, you were both barely eleven and she was a lot taller than you. It feels strange, being able to see the tiny, fine hairs between her eyebrows that you'd always teased her about.
You don't think about kissing her; it just happens. Her lips are cold and so's the tip of her nose, but her mouth opens under yours and there is warmth there, of a kind you've never really felt before.
She makes a small sound and breaks the kiss. "This is so embarrassing," she mutters.
"It's only embarrassing if you get caught," you tell her, and she finally smiles.