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Ron and Lavender snog at the after-party and then they snog more and then they start going out, obnoxious and loud about it, and, well, things unravel from there.

The Golden Trio dismantle quickly, Hermione in barely concealed tears and quick snaps to everyone she talks to; Harry bouncing between the two, his time with Hermione spent trying not to mention Ron’s name, his time with Ron a time of sitting beside the intertwined bodies of he and Lavender.

Something else happens, though, something a little more unexpected. Or, maybe that’s not true. They do have history after all.


.


It begins with shared rolled-eyes as their respective best friends sit down at the table, turn to each other, and then eat each other’s faces for the duration of the meal instead of anything on the table.

“Hey, Harry?” Parvati asks after a few moments of this, determined not to spend another breakfast in silence.

Harry looks up at her mid-sip of pumpkin juice. He makes a noise which encourages her to continue.

“How does it feel to be invisible?”

Harry swallows, sets down his cup, and then grins, a little sheepish, a little sharp around the corners. “I’m the wrong person to ask that, Parvati,” he replies but then he plays along. “I’ve had a lot more time to my thoughts recently.”

“Ah, Ron was someone to bounce your ideas off, was he?” Parvati says, her eyebrow raised and her head tilted in teasing interest.

“There’s more to him than you think,” Harry says, always so loyal, and then he laughs at the expression on Parvati’s face, half his juice spilling down his front.

This is the rumoured Chosen One, Parvati thinks, as she watches Harry clean up the mess of his shirt, mouth still stretched in a smile. If only they could see him now, funny and clumsy and relaxed.

“Anyway,” he continues, spearing his bacon with his fork. “Did you not see this coming?”

“How do you mean?”

Harry looks up, eyes twinkling. “Did old Trelawney not foresee this union of her two students?” He hams up the voice, eyes wide behind his glasses, until Parvati collapses into laughter.

She shoves at his arm. “Shut up,” she laughs. “You know Trelawney wouldn’t approve of Ron. No inner eye on that one.”

At this, there’s an aborted movement from the two beside them, either one of them wanting to rush to their defence, before they give in and return to kissing.

Harry catches Parvati’s eye and winks.


.


The chats at breakfast become something of a daily thing.

"How are your eggs?" Harry asks Parvati, both of them automatically shuffling over to make room for their friends.

"Always the best I've had," she says, swallowing another forkful of scrambled eggs. "How do they do it?"

"House elves," Harry shrugs. He's always throwing information out like this that he found out in some weird and dramatic way.

"Oh." Parvati needs a moment to process this but it makes sense. She's never had a House Elf but Lavender's neighbours do and when Parvati's visiting they look through the window at it and try to entice it out with Chocolate Frogs. She can't believe she made it six years here not knowing that it's run by hundreds of them. "I suppose there's some roundabout way you know this?" she asks, half-teasing half-serious.

“Something like that,” Harry agrees. “I can show you how to get to the kitchens if you like.”

“The kitchens? Aren’t they --?” She was going to say forbidden but to Harry what does that word mean any more?

“Hermione showed me,” Harry says, grinning at the look of disbelief. Parvati likes Hermione as much as the next person, for all the bossiness and scary work ethic, she occasionally lets Parvati look at her Transfiguration homework and at Christmas she shares out her Muggle sweets, but this isn’t something she would’ve guessed about her. “She did,” he insists. “Remember her spew movement back in fourth year?”

“Vaguely.” She’s sure she has a badge in her trunk somewhere -- oh, and now the house elves at Hogwarts is beginning to make more sense. “So, what are the kitchens like? Are the house elves not hostile to outsiders?”

“I’ve got an elf on the inside,” Harry mutters into Parvati’s ear.

“You’re unreal, Harry,” bursts out of her along with another laugh and he grins, like this is a compliment no one’s ever given him before.

“You bring out all my best jokes,” he replies, and she watches as he replays this in his head and decides that it was maybe the wrong thing to say, but Parvati’s been enjoying her mornings a lot more recently and she thinks it might have something to do with the boy sitting beside her.

She accidentally nudges Lavender’s side as she turns to face Harry head-on, shuffling a little closer towards him. When Lavender resurfaces from Ron’s mouth to ask what she wants Parvati waves her off, she’s busy too.

“I’ve got jokes too,” she says.

“You do know I share a dorm with Ron, Dean and Seamus, don’t you? I’ve heard them all.”

“What about that one I told you last week?” Neville pipes up from across the table.

Harry and Parvati turn to him. “Oh, yeah,” he remembers. “Neville told me a good one about a herbologist and a Venus fly-trap --”

“It’s not suitable for the breakfast table, Pav,” Seamus interrupts from Neville’s other side. “Knowing Harry’s luck, Sprout’ll overhear and give us all detention -- no offence, mate.” Harry shrugs it off. “Get Harry to tell you later -- anyway, I’ve gotta better one.”

No. I’m telling jokes,” Parvati insists, hand shoving at Harry’s where he’s pretending to raise his hand in a question. She’s got three joke books at home and Lavender never lets her finish -- this is her time.


.


“You don’t talk to me at breakfast anymore,” Lavender says on their way down to the Great Hall.

Lavender .” Parvati’s mouth falls open.

“What?"

“How can I talk to you when your tongue’s down Ron’s throat?”

Lavender shrugs. “My ears are still working.”

“Okay.” Parvati snorts. “I’ll keep you included this morning.”

“I just feel like you’re spending all of your time with Harry now. How the hell did that happen?”

Parvati loves Lavender so so much but she can’t dignify that with an answer.

“I’m a neglectful friend,” she announces to Harry when she swings her leg over the bench and plops down next to him. He’s poured her orange juice, so thoughtful that boy, and she takes a gulp while she watches Lavender discuss something with Ron across the table from them. Ron shakes his head, says something in return, and then Lavender flashes a look at Parvati as if to say what can you do and then off they go.

“How come?” Harry asks, folding the paper and handing it back to Hermione.

“Lavender feels I haven’t been spending enough time with her,” and then she tilts her head over to their best friends look as though they’re struggling to breathe. Parvati’s kissed a couple of people, she’s not sure it’s supposed to be quite like that, at least not at half eight in the morning. But she’s not judging; she’s being a good friend.

Harry laughs. Parvati gets a sharp kick to the shin at that. Lavender’s always been good at multi-tasking. “I hope you feel ashamed.”

“The most,” she assures him. She would feel bad about teasing Lavender like this but -- honestly . She changes the subject to something decidedly less light. “So, what's the news today?”

“Not much,” Harry replies. “No deaths,” he says, and they both wince at how commonplace this conversation has become. Sometimes Parvati wonders if her parents had the right idea keeping them at home. She'd say if you can't leave the house how can you be killed but then she remembers Susan Bones’ face when her aunt had been found dead in her home. He gets everywhere.

“Stan Shunpike was arrested,” Hermione leans over Harry to tell her.

“No way.” Parvati’s been getting the Knight Bus ever since she was a kid and sure Stan’s a little nosy but he’s only been on the job for a few years and she thinks he’s loads better than the man before him who always terrified Parvati and Padma. “Stan’s not a Death Eater.”

“He’s probably been Imperiused,” Harry says. The way they come to this conclusion so easily is harrowing. What's worse: choosing to torture and kill or losing your free will to do so?

Parvati remembers Moody, the Death Eater in disguise, putting the curse

on her and the way she had struggled to fight it off, her brain defending itself against the intruders but ultimately failing. Some days she feels helpless in here, the DA gone and Snape running their main line of defence. Some days, and these are the days she doesn’t know what to do with herself, she wishes she was out of Hogwarts, out in the real world, so she could do something about making a difference. Those types of thoughts are too big for breakfast, and for dinner too, probably, so she does the next best thing she can and she pulls her half-finished Defence homework towards her. If she wants to do anything after this she has to have the results and she has to get them right.

Harry gives her some points as he makes his way through his eggs, another part of his attention on Hermione, another on discussing upcoming training maneuvers with Ginny.

Fifteen minutes later, the end of breakfast near, and Parvati becomes overwhelmed with the swelling of her essay and her inability to tie it together. When she looks up to take a hurried sip of orange juice she finds Hermione watching her with a thoughtful expression before she holds out her hand, gestures for her essay.

“You’re a lifesaver, Hermione,” Parvati declares when Hermione checks the conclusion and hands it back to her.

“I’ve heard that enough times,” but she smiles.


.



A couple of weeks later Harry seeks her out as she’s struggling over the conclusion of her Silencing Charm essay. He flops into an armchair beside her and waits patiently until she admits the thoughts are never going to come.

“How can I help you?” she asks, resting her chin on her elbow.

“How busy are you?” His shirt is rumpled, glasses crooked, and he’s doing that lazy grin she’s come to know.

“Incredibly.” With this, she yawns.

“I think that means you deserve a break,” Harry says, a hand on her shoulder to enforce this. “I’m friends with Hermione -- I know when too much homework is enough.”

“I never see you do any homework, now I think about it.”

“Obviously I do it under the cover of darkness,” and Parvati smiles before he adds. “I do, actually, a lot of the time. Too much to do. Too busy,” he says, pointing at Parvati’s essay. “I’ve got to show you something. I’ll let you look at my Charms essay tomorrow.”

“You’re really desperate to show me this,” Parvati says, getting to her feet. She stretches, yawns again, and leaves the essay where it is. On their way over the portrait hole she catches Hermione watching them from over by the window, a stack of books by her side.

Once they’re out, Harry produces a wad of material. He shakes it out and gestures for Parvati to stand beside him. When she does he pulls it over them and --

Merlin , Harry. An Invisibility Cloak?” And wow does this explain a lot.

“Shh. We’re breaking curfew.”

“And the rule-breaking begins.”



.



“My mum and dad didn’t want us to come back this year,” Parvati says over her hot chocolate. A tiny house elf approaches with a slice of apple pie which she accepts with a beam of thanks.

“Where would you have gone instead?”

Parvati shrugs -- they never really reached that point in the discussion after she and Padma made it clear they weren’t accepting the offer. “Stay at home probably. Or move back to India. They’ve been talking about that for a while.”

“I would say it’s safer here with Dumbledore but --”

“But Dumbledore’s never here,” Parvati finishes and then she exploits their new friendship and leaps, “Do you know where he goes?”

But he shakes his head. “If I did I couldn’t tell you, Parvati, but I really don’t.”

She believes him. It’s odd how in so little time she feels she’s come to know so much about him and he about her.

“I’m glad I came back,” she says. “We only have another year here -- I don’t think I’m ready for the real world yet.”

Harry lowers his head to rest on his folded arms; he looks up at her, eyes blinking, his glasses still crooked. “I’m glad you came back too.”

“I would’ve missed out on a lot if I didn’t,” and maybe she means Katie Bell getting cursed and the darkness of Snape’s Defence Against the Dark Arts but Harry picks up on her need for something happier and he humours her.

“I couldn’t have handled Ron and Lavender on my own,” he replies, both of them smiling.

“How’s Hermione doing?”

“I love them,” he starts, “but they’re the most stubborn people I’ve ever met.”

“It’s been a distraction, though, hasn’t it?” She hopes she isn’t overstepping here. “From everything else.”

Harry looks at her, eyes steady, mouth a straight line, but then he nods. “That’s true.”

A silence stretches out between them, punctuated by the clattering of the elves getting things ready for breakfast tomorrow.

“Parvati?”

Parvati sits down her mug, pushes aside her plate of apple pie. “Yeah?”

“A lot of those jokes you tell -- they're Muggle jokes.”

“Are you saying they're less funny than wizard ones? You can't go wrong with a Scotsman, an Irishman, and an Englishman --”

“No, it's not that. I thought you were pure-blood, was surprised, that's all.”

See, everyone knows so much about Harry but he doesn't know much about everyone else. Parvati likes it, though. She likes telling her story. “I am,” she says. “But my dad’s always been interested in Muggle culture -- at first it was something to talk to the neighbors about, help us fit in, but he fell in love.”

Harry likes this, she can tell. His lips bend into a small smile and he’s thinking of things she’ll probably never know -- not much has been said about Harry’s childhood but she knows it wasn’t the best. “What did he show you?”

“Top of the Pops,” Parvati starts with, memories pushing to the front of her mind of a strange box with moving and talking pictures, a machine invented without magic but mimicking their portraits. These singers and dancers singing about love and sex and everything in between. She remembers thinking Muggles were so weird, thinking up this stuff, before turning back to her battered copy of Babbity Rabbity and her Cackling Stump. This was before her love affair with Celestina Warbeck and the flirtations with the Weird Sisters. At that age she didn’t know anything about music but through Top of the Pops she learned a lot. “Did you watch Top of the Pops?”

“I never really watched TV growing up,” and hidden behind that easiness is everything that happened. “But I know what it is. The other kids at school always had lunch boxes with singers’ faces on them. Who was your favourite?”

“Whitney,” Parvati says, that answer always on the tip of her tongue. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody -- Merlin, that taught me a lot.”

“Hey, I’ve heard that one,” and then he hums a bit, face flushing with embarrassment after a few seconds. Parvati hurries to join, sings the chorus she’s been singing since she was eight. “I’m Every Woman’s great too. Honestly, Whitney Houston is, like, queen in my eyes.”

“Who else?” Harry leans in, eager.

“My mum has always loved Alka Yagnik, she’s an Indian Muggle playback singer,” she explains when there’s no hint of recognition on Harry’s face. She never really thinks about Muggle culture when she’s at Hogwarts but her brain is flooding her with memories. Her mum always gets up and dances whenever she hears Alka on the TV, pulling Parvati and Padma to their feet and making them dance around the living room, their dad pretending to put up a fight but swaying along. She smiles. “Bon Jovi too, you’ve heard of them, right?”

“Sing me a bit.”

Parvati glances around to make sure no house elves are here and then sings a little of You Give Love a Bad Name under her breath.

Harry frowns, still not sure. “Sing me some more? Louder this time.”

“I’m not -- ugh, fine -- shot through the dark and you’re to blame,” her fingers dance along pretend strings, “you give loooove a bad name.”

She watches the grin break out across Harry’s face and she realises she’s been tricked. She groans, leans over to shove at his shoulder. “Sing me something now, then, fair’s fair."

“I don’t know anything,” he tries, but Parvati knows .

He sings a tiny bit of Sweet Dreams, his voice low, nose almost touching the table, and Parvati takes pity on him after a few more seconds, touches his arm.

“Some Gryffindor you are,” she teases and he rolls his eyes.

“My biggest fan’s around here somewhere,” looking around the sea of house elves. “Oh, he must be doing the fires in the common room.”

“It’s a whole other world down here,” Parvati murmurs, her eyes going up up up to the ceiling, a perfect replica of the Great Hall above them. They’re sitting at the Hufflepuff table down here; her perspective is skewed. “Thanks for bringing me here, Harry.”

“I knew you would like it.”

He opens up the school for her and in return she hopes she can give him a little more insight into pop culture in the 80s, if that’s what he wants.


,


They slip the Invisibility Cloak off outside the portrait hole. The Fat Lady is disgruntled to be woken at this time but when she sees who it is Parvati catches her eyes fluttering with interest -- she wonders if this is something she thinks will be worth telling her friend Violet. Parvati thinks she’d quite like it kept a secret for now, keep the magic of it a little longer.

“See you at breakfast?” she says as they part ways for their dorms.

But Harry is fumbling over something that isn’t a yes or no so she waits patiently, takes her foot off the bottom step. He’s been fine with her every other day; the only time Parvati can think to compare to the flush of his cheeks and the way he keeps glancing between her eyes and the ground is at the D.A meetings last year with Cho Chang but that’s ridiculous because --

“Slughorn’s having this Christmas party, you know, the Slug Club, and he specifically made it a night I have to go.” He stops, breathes, grimaces at Parvati. “And I was wondering, Parvati -- fancy coming with me?”

“Oh, I --”

“It can be as friends or whatever, anything, I just thought it’d be fun --”

“I’d like that,” she manages to get out past his rambling.

He immediately relaxes, grins. “You sure? I didn’t wanna corner you or anything.”

“Harry, stop, it’ll be great.”

“It will be,” he says, always honest in moments like this when his brain is temporarily busy with sorting out his tongue.

“I’m getting some deja vu,” Parvati says, laughing when Harry groans, and she knows both of them are remembering the Yule Ball. “I’m kidding,” she adds, just in case.

“It’ll be different this time.”

“Well, Karkaroff not being there will make a huge difference,” Parvati points out. She hadn’t been surprised when the creepy headmaster had appeared in the papers as a Death Eater.

“And the Weird Sisters -- although you can never tell with Slughorn, he knows everyone.” Harry shakes his head at this, clearly confused as to why someone would want to know so many famous people when he has the view from the other side.

“I can’t wait,” Parvati says, and it’s honest. Not only has she been vaguely intrigued by these Slug Club meetings that Hermione is always annoying indifferent about but now that she thinks about it she’s glad that Harry’s asked her, and not just as a friend or whatever. These last few weeks have been fun -- she loves Lavender, of course she does, but hanging out with someone different, someone funny and interesting and kind, has been good for her and she’s interested to see how it might go now.

“See you at breakfast, Pav,” Harry says, turning towards the boys’ dorms, his hands in his pockets and his head high as though he wasn’t stammering five minutes ago.

Parvati climbs the stairs, quiet past Lavender and Hermione’s bed, flops on top of her covers, and falls asleep fully dressed.



.



“You’re going to the Slug Club party with Harry ?” Lavender asks on the way down to breakfast the next morning after Parvati fills her in. She doesn’t tell her about the kitchens, not yet, she wants to keep those couple of hours locked in for the moment. “As friends or whatever?”

“Yeah. As whatever.” Parvati shrugs, tries to keep it light, but Lavender is sharp, especially with these things.

She pulls Parvati into an alcove on the third floor. “What are you saying, P?” Her eyes narrow. “Are you saying you like Harry? Harry Potter?”

“What other ones do we know?” She rolls her eyes, scrunches up her nose when Lavender doesn’t take the bait. “I don’t know, Lavender. Why shouldn’t I? We’ve been spending more time together recently, he’s funny, he always asks about my family.” This is true. Ever since he found out what her parents do, when she explained about her dad's job in International Relations and her mum's shop on Diagon Alley, he's asked about them every few days, eager for more information, both about Parvati's home life but also the vastness of the Wizarding world, the bits that are too normal to be in the news.

This is deemed enough. Lavender tugs them back into the stream of students on their way to the Great Hall. “I was just surprised, that’s all. I mean, with the Yule Ball and everything."

“That was two years ago, we were fourteen,” and then she changes topic, her mind suddenly filled with images of potential future conversations between Ron and Harry based on whatever information Lavender feeds to Ron via her tongue. “Listen, Lav, don’t make a big deal out of this, okay? It’s not anything; it’s just a bit of fun.”

Lavender holds her hand up, innocence on her face. “I’m not saying a word,” she promises. “You know,” she continues as they walk into the Hall. “Ron’s the only one out of that group who didn’t get an invite. Typical, right?”

“Why don’t you cosy up with Hermione, find out who she’s taking?” Parvati suggests, features identical to Lavender’s moments before. “What?” she replies to the elbow in the waist. “Ow, that’s my boob.”

“I bet Hermione takes Neville,” Lavender hisses in her ear as they take their seats.

Parvati doesn’t have the heart to tell her that Neville’s a member in his own right and will be at the party anyway. Instead she turns to Harry and smiles, wonders if the smile she gets in return is any different from the ones he’s given her before, now that they’ve shifted their relationship onto slightly different grounds.

“Hi, Harry,” she says, accidentally knocking over his pumpkin juice into his cereal, a collapse that has a domino effect on the table and results in Lavender leaping up when milk drips into her lap.

Hermione casts a spell Parvati swears was non-verbal, the mess is gone, and Parvati is apologising and laughing at Harry’s whispered remark in her ear about repaying the house elves. Parvati pulls her hair over her shoulder and ignores the knowing look Lavender is shooting her.


.



“Tell me everything that happens tonight, Pav,” Lavender says as she helps smooth Parvati’s hair. Parvati leans over to pick up the dangly gold earrings Padma let her borrow and threads them through her ears. Then Lavender pats her head, done, and she stands to let her assess the complete look. “Beautiful.”

Parvati sticks her tongue out.

“Don't do that if you want him to kiss you,” Lavender warns and then she laughs, crosses her eyes.

“I haven’t decided if I want him to kiss me or not,” Parvati says loftily. She checks her skirts are sitting right, makes sure her wand and her lipstick are in her bag, and then she heads for the door. “Treat ‘em mean, isn’t that the phrase?”

Lavender shoves her out the door, grabbing Ron’s present from her bed before she follows her. “I’ll meet you in the common room later? We’ll talk details. Have fun, P.”

Parvati does a final spin for Lavender, blows her a kiss, and makes her way over to Harry who greets her with a stumbling of wow which is a compliment sweet enough it has Parvati’s ego climbing a couple of rungs and her heart following.

“You look great, Harry,” she says in return. “Did you brush your hair?”

“I tried,” Harry says defensively, hand running through it. “Your hair is nice, very -- shiny.”

Parvati grins. “Thanks. I take it the party’s in Slughorn’s office?”

“What?” Harry blinks, coughs, grins. “Oh. Yeah, let’s go.” As they climb through the portrait hole he says, “There’s a vampire going apparently.”

“Yeah? Where’d you hear that?”

“Luna,” and then he winces as though he should know better than to take anything she says without a pinch of salt. Parvati likes Luna -- she doesn’t hold back and she’s not afraid of people laughing at her, both very good traits.

“Well I heard Gwenog Jones might make an appearance,” Parvati counters and they fall into a contest of the most impressive rumour. Harry wins with the Minister of Magic but he doesn’t look happy about the prospect so Parvati brings up the vampire again which somehow leads to Quirrell and the rest of their Defence teachers.

“Moody wasn’t bad,” she allows after Harry’s defence of Lupin. “Apart from the whole Death Eater in disguise thing.”

Harry sighs. “What can you do? There’s always a tiny flaw.”

“Must’ve been so desperate to teach,” Parvati plays along.

They’ve reached the party at this point. Harry lifts his hand to knock the door but pauses before he makes contact. “You ready for this?”

She pulls her hair over her shoulder, checks her earrings. “Born ready.”

Harry grins and knocks and then, as the door swings open, he reaches out and takes her hand.


.


The party’s full of students, teachers, and the elite of Wizarding Britain, from singers to athletes to politicians. Parvati’s head spins as she looks around her and tries to take it all in, committing everything to memory for later analysis with Lavender.

“I’ll get us a drink,” Harry says, stepping away and immediately getting caught in conversation with Slughorn. He catches her eye over his shoulder and makes a pleading glance but before Parvati can step over to his rescue someone taps her shoulder and gasps in relief.

“Parvati,” Hermione says, pausing and taking a gulp of her Butterbeer. “Thank God you’re here.”

Parvati reaches out a hand to steady Hermione. “Are you okay, Hermione?” And then she steps back and takes a look. “Oh, your dress is gorgeous.”

Hermione’s mouth had opened to tell her what’s got her into a state but she stops at this and smiles. “Thank, Parvati, I love yours. I can never wear earrings like that -- they get caught in my hair --” She catches sight of someone over Parvati’s shoulder. “Oh.”

“Where’s Cormac? You said you were coming with him, didn’t you?” That had been interesting. Knowing tiny bits more about their relationship from Harry, it’s so blindingly obvious that Hermione’s trying to make Ron jealous that it’s almost horrifying that Ron hasn’t realised it yet.

“He’s --” Hermione looks like she’s about to make an excuse but then she deflates. “Ugh, I last saw him under the mistletoe but he’s coming this way.” She sighs, resigned. “I better go.”

But Parvati stops her. “Say no more. Come with me, Hermione.” This is taking her back to last summer when she and Lavender went out with the Muggle boys from down her street. They had been nice to look at from afar but they weren’t exactly the best conversationalists when it came to actually going out with them. Sure, Parvati enjoys kissing but if she doesn’t get some laughs out of it and a bit of interesting chat then what’s the point? On the way past, her hand on Hermione’s wrist, she catches Harry’s eye and tries to convey with her eyebrows the situation behind her.

They take cover behind Trelawny, Sprout, and Neville. Parvati maneuvers herself into the conversation, keeping Hermione behind her, and attempts to focus on the conversation while keeping an eye out for Cormac.

“What are you doing, Miss Patil?” Sprout asks and it’s a fair question so Parvati answers honestly.

“Saving Hermione, Professor.” She turns to Professor Trelawney. “Professor, is it true we’re starting Cartomancy next term? I know you said it’s fairly advanced but Lavender and I have been having a look at a deck and we think we’ve been getting some ideas.”

“Oh, my dear, you must be very careful with a deck of tarot cards. They like to,” she breaks off, shudders, and takes a sip of sherry before she continues. “A lot of people dismiss the art of Cartomancy as guesswork and fishing for truths but when done correctly it can be very powerful.”

If people gave Divination a chance it could be used in a bigger way to help aid the war effort but Parvati feels like she’s talked about that till her throat goes dry. Out of the corner of her eye she sees Hermione edge away from this conversation into Neville’s and Professor Sprout’s. Even when fighting for her dignity and pride she can’t stand to be around this magic. Parvati feels she can’t abandon her yet, though, and, she goes on her tiptoes, she wishes Harry would come back.

“But we are doing it next term, aren’t we, Professor?”

“I think you’re ready, Parvati, yes,” Trelawney says, and oh, Parvati almost hugs her.

“I can't wait to tell Lavender,” she says, holding back on the hugging.

“Tell Lavender what?” Harry appears behind Parvati. He holds out a glass of something pink and fizzy looking. Parvati sniffs it cautiously then takes a sip. Whatever it is flows through her and makes her feel like she's floating. She grins at Harry in thanks, knows it's sloppy and lopsided.

“Nothing you'd be interesting in,” Parvati waves her hand. Trelawney’s about to say something but love her as she does Parvati can imagine how tiring it must be being told you're going to die soon so she takes Harry’s hand and says her goodbyes to the Professor.

“Oh,” Harry stops before they move away. “Hermione, Cormac’s looking for you. There,” he points. “He's coming over.”

Hermione looks up from whatever Neville’s saying, eyes wide, and then she turns around and disappears so fast Parvati thinks she Apparated.

“Harry,” Parvati says. “Where have you been?”

He cranes his neck, looking for something, and then he shakes his head, clears his head, and turns back to her with a lopsided smile. “Malfoy gatecrashed.” He winces, scrubs the back of his head. “I followed him for a bit, sorry, Parvati.”

She supposes this is what comes with being close to him. For years now she’s heard of his exploits, watched him fight dragons and pull back Cedric’s body with her own eyes. From here, she’s a step closer to the middle. He won’t tell her anything, she doesn’t think he can, but she thinks he wants to tell her some things and for now that’s enough.

“Did you at least me a drink?” she asks, makes a show of looking at his hand that isn’t holding hers. “After you abandoned me,” she tacks on, lays it on thick so he knows she’s joking.

“I didn’t,” he says and rushes on before she says anything. “You’ve gotta see this table, though, I thought you might want to choose.”

They fight their way through the crowd, Harry turning his head when someone looks like they want to talk to him. His grip on her hand is tight -- Parvati can’t help but wonder what it looks like to others. She remembers the treatment Hermione got from Rita Skeeter in fourth year when she thought they were going out and that’s not something she wants.

“Wow.” The table stretches almost the length of the room and it’s straining under the weight of cakes, sandwiches, tarts, and every type of drink Parvati could imagine. Her eyes wander over the selection, keen to make the right choose because she doesn’t think she’ll ever see anything like this again. “Could I have some of that please? The pink one,” she asks the bartender, pointing to the bubbly pink concoction at the end.

“Just a Butterbeer, thanks,” Harry says when it’s his turn.

“It’s so pink .” She takes a sip through the straw, which is also pink. It’s -- oh, it’s almost pulsing, sliding down her throat into her stomach where it feels like it’s glowing. She takes another sip. “Merlin, this is amazing. Try some.”

Harry doesn’t have much chance to say no when she shoves the straw at him. Parvati laughs at the wide-eyed shock of the, well, pinkness of it. There’s no other way to describe it. He swallows and hands it back to her then takes a healthy swig of his own drink. “Nice.”

“You’re a bad liar, Harry.”

This is shrugged off, he doesn’t care. He catches something behind Parvati’s head, his eyes narrow. “What was Hermione doing with you?”

“Hiding from Cormac.” Parvati’s not sure how much of a secret that’s meant to be but she doesn’t think Harry would know what to do with that information anyway. She lets his digest it and looks around. “I haven’t seen the vampire.”

“Oh,” he returns to the conversation, content in the knowledge that Hermione is safe with Sprout and Neville. “I passed him earlier.” He makes a face. “Looked hungry.”

Parvati laughs. “I’ll stay out of his way then.”

“That’s probably for the best,” Harry agrees, and then he checks inside his robes for something. “Speaking of, wanna get out of here? I don’t know about you but...” He trails off to let her interpret.

Sure, the party’s okay. She watches Harry’s eyes, though, the way they’ve lit up with an idea -- she wants to see where this could go. “Okay.” She finishes her drink too quickly so her head spins when Harry leads her to the door, deftly sidestepping Slughorn with a Parvati’s not feeling too well, sir, a lie Parvati thinks she’s performing well as she rests her hand on her forehead and pretends to swoon. “Where are we going?” she asks once they’ve reached the end of the corridor and the noise from the party has all but died.

Harry tugs the Invisibility Cloak out of his robes. “Hungry?”

“Think the house elves know how to make one of those drinks?” The flavour has stuck to her tongue, sweet and cloying and she craves another.

This makes Harry laugh. He throws the cloak over them, makes sure they’re both covered, and then leads them through a series of corridors before they reach the kitchens. “I don’t know,” he replies, smile huge. “But we can ask.”

The kitchen is quiet with only a couple of house elves puttering about. With most of the school going home for a fortnight tomorrow there must be more to do around the castle than down here. Parvati likes the quiet. She sits on the end of Gryffindor’s table and stretches her head back to look at the stars.

Harry comes to sit beside her. His hand nudges her hip accidentally but she leans into it. Okay. So she likes Harry. He laughs at her jokes and he sings 80s love songs under his breath to make Parvati laugh at all the worst moments and he cares so much. That’s a conclusion she’s coming to as she feels the warmth of his body where it rests against hers and she wants to tilt her head and kiss him, half to see what that would be like and half because Merlin, she wants to.

“Harry,” she murmurs, pulling her head from the stars and looking to the boy beside her. She picks up his hand, the one marked with scars of lies and power. He folds his fingers around hers, skin soft.

“Thank God for Lavender,” Harry says, a huff of laughter following, and then he leans in. He pauses, so close to her lips, gives Parvati the chance to pull away, but she follows him in and she kisses him.

It’s the middle of December so thunder isn’t unimaginable but when it happens as they kiss Parvati shivers, leans in closer, and wonders if it’s fate. What power does this boy have? The one with the world at his feet and the sheer will to continue every day? Parvati’s getting carried away with the feel of his mouth on hers and the warmth of his hand where it rests on her waist but she doesn’t think she’s reaching too far when she holds Harry responsible for the thunder. It rumbles away, a flash storm too quick to notice, and Parvati opens her mouth, sighs. She’s not had a lot of practice at kissing but she knows that she loves it -- she loves the way too people join in this way and how incredibly intimate it is. Harry kisses like this is the most important thing in the world. He’s clumsy, his mouth sliding over Parvati’s, his tongue a bit quick, but he picks it up and he works at it and Parvati shuffles closer still, seeks more.

Time passes differently in kisses, Parvati knows. When they pull away she can’t tell if seconds passed or if they crossed an hour. She thumbs over her bottom lip, the plumpness proof of a significant period of time passing. She has the biggest urge to giggle but she bites her lip and then she leans in again.

Harry’s hand is rough where he cups her cheek and he fumbles as though he hasn’t done this much before but Parvati smiles against his mouth and tips herself into the kiss. Her hand finds its way into his hair and she thinks this feeling in her chest might be a lot more than the after-effects of her fizzy pink drink.


.


“I've been thinking about that for a while,” Harry says on their way back the common room, smiles miles wide and hands intertwined. Look at them. They're Ron and Lavender already.

Parvati thinks about it, must take too long given Harry’s increasingly wary expression, but she waves away his concerns. “Lavender kept saying I liked you and I kept saying no, I think to keep what we've had, but,” she sighs, spreads her free hand. “The kissing -- you swept me off my feet.”

“I keep forgetting how cutting you can be,” Harry argues back, side-stepping Parvati’s hand reaching for his face and sticking his tongue out.

“Hey I was going to kiss you to apologise,” Parvati insists.

“Oh.” Harry grins. Look, he's so happy. Parvati’s been doing that. And not to be unfair to Lavender but he’s been the one winding up her heart and making it thump thump thump with joy recently. With the world so dark around them you have the make the most of the safety within these walls and this is where Parvati is grabbing her indulgences and if she makes the boy with the world on his shoulders smile and worry a little less as she does so then, well, what a bonus. “Well, go on then.”

“I’m not the one doing all the work here, Harry, it’s been a long night.” She nudges him with their clasped hands.

Harry likes these tiny little challenges. He bends his neck, and that’s another thing, when did he get so bloody tall, Parvati’s on her tip-toes. He kisses her and it's sweet and a little hot and Parvati can't wait to tell Lavender all about it.


.


“Did you know Harry was funny?” Parvati asks Lavender a couple of hours later, the two of them stretched out on her bed. She’s still feeling buzzed, her hands dancing across the duvet until Lavender reaches out and stops her. Parvati hasn’t asked too much about it but she doesn’t think the gift exchange went Ron went very well. When she had come in with her mouth aching from smiling and her dress ruffled and clumsy she hadn’t said much past yeah, the party was good, when Lavender had asked. She can’t really hold it in any longer though.

Lavender turns the page of her book. “Harry Potter?”

“What other Harrys do we know?” Parvati turns onto her back and unthreads the bangles around her wrist.

“I don’t think he’s funny,” Lavender disagrees. “I’ve never heard him tell any jokes.”

“It’s not jokes exactly.” It’s more of a black humour, Parvati decides, and how else do you cope with that sort of life without getting a bit of a laugh from it? “He’s very dry. Witty.”

“You’re dry,” Lavender says. She turns onto her back, her book held above her head. She lowers it to look at Parvati. “You’re witty too.”

“How important is humour, do you think? In a --”

The book drops onto the bed as her duties of a best friend after a date thunk into place. “Parvati, what happened tonight?”

“Oh, well,” and here is where Parvati throws out everything and grins. “We kissed.”

Lavender sits up, all melancholy thoughts about Ron discarded. “ Well ?”

There’s the option here of playing it very cool, demure, say something about privacy but Parvati isn’t very cool really and she wants to spill and she feels like she hasn’t seen Lavender in weeks so she wriggles into a sitting position, crosses her legs, and describes the night, from Hermione and Cormac (leaving out the potential Ron-jealously theory Parvati’s going with) to the pink drink to the kisses that have left Parvati feeling floaty and happy. “I really like him, Lav,” she admits, biting her lip.

“I told you,” Lavender insists. She’s smiling, though. She’s happy for her. “He’s not bad-looking.” Parvati almost says he’s better looking than Ron then decides she doesn’t want pushed out of her own bed. “He’s Quidditch Captain,” Lavender adds, thoughtful. “Hey. We could double-date.”

Parvati catches a glimpse of Harry’s reaction to that scenario and bites her lip. “No, we couldn’t.”

“Are you telling people?” Lavender asks, voice suddenly serious. People say things about Lavender based on how she looks and what she says and how she acts but she’s very protective and she’s clever and she knows what sort of things might go down if Parvati starts dating Harry Potter and everything that means.

“We didn’t get that far,” Parvati replies, working on unbraiding her hair. “We’re going to be fine, Lavender.”

Lavender sighs, flops back onto the bed. “I don’t think Ron liked his necklace; he made that face -- you know the one --” Parvati knows the exact one but, again, she keeps her mouth shut. “Anyway, you haven’t even told me the most important part, P. Is he a good kisser?” she says, exasperated, when Parvati has no idea what she’s talking about.

“Oh,” and Parvati pulls her knees under her and ducks her head. To follow on from her thoughts from before -- with You-Know-Who tearing the world apart and the country balancing on the edge of collapse, talking about kisses and boys is a small comfort and one that Parvati clings to. With no way of knowing what’s going to happen next the only thing they can do is make the most of what they have. “He’s good enough,” she replies, batting her eyelids, shrieking when Lavender pushes her off the bed.


.


Harry kisses Parvati in the common room as everyone’s leaving for Christmas, and, well, that cinches it.


.



“I’m going to put glitter on my face for your next match,” Parvati announces to the ceiling. They’ve fast forwarded three weeks from the kiss. They’re hot gossip at the moment, this new couple that seemingly sprung out of nowhere and isn’t it odd that their best friends are dating too? What a coincidence. With death normally the one making its rounds through the whispers these days Parvati feels the school deserves this one. But back to her lying on the empty common room floor with her boyfriend. “I’m going to put your name in glitter on my face.”

“If you think I need glitter to help me win you’ve been watching all the wrong matches,” Harry counters, confident and cocky with it.

“Ravenclaw have been targeting your techniques specially for this match,” Parvati says, her hand dropping from where it’s been resting on her chest to meet Harry’s on the floor beside them. She doesn’t quite know how they ended up here besides attempting to finish Snape’s essay and getting distracted.

“How do you know that?”

“Padma’s girlfriend’s on the team -- Louise Lynch.”

“Relation to Aiden Lynch?”

“Brother, I think.” Parvati’s hand stops Harry from bolting upright. “Relax, Harry. No, I’ve never met him. Padma and Louise haven’t been together that long; hardly time to meet the family.” This leads, inevitably, of thoughts of Harry meeting her mum and dad. He’s bad for your studies , her dad will say, and he’d be right, the half-finished essay on the table above their heads evidence of that. Her mum will comment on his being in all the papers and the tasks he has ahead of him, whatever they may be, but she’ll like them, they both will. Parvati won’t have this with Harry’s side, now that she knows more about his childhood and the sad truths that came with it. Unless you count the Weasleys; Parvati has vague memories of Mrs Weasley at some meeting or another when they were little. She thinks she’ll be okay there.

“You’re daydreaming,” Harry says, propping up on one elbow so he’s half-leaning over her. His hair is flopping over his eyes; Parvati wonders if she can reach up and push it back. The rest of her family have always been quite tactile, Padma especially, her hand always at Parvati’s elbow, her legs splayed over her whenever they’re on the couch, and Parvati is, to an extent, but she thinks about it a bit more, never as casual as the rest of them. She takes the leap. Harry’s eyes close briefly and he leans into her hand. “What are you thinking about?”

“Quidditch,” she says, and it’s half-true. “Do you think Aiden Lynch was at Slughorn’s party?”

“And we missed him?” He doesn’t sound too bothered about it, if it’s true. For all that Parvati’s wondered about him over the years, once you get to know him Harry’s heart is, maybe not on his sleeve, but pinned on his chest somewhere.

“We were busy,” Parvati agrees.

Just as she thinks he’s falling asleep with her hand in his hair, Harry darts in and kisses her, their lips languid, mood lazy. In the three weeks since the party and the kissing, a week of actually being with him, Parvati’s discovered that, when given the opportunity, Harry loves kissing. She’s discovered, in entirely the same way, that she’s the same. There’s something so fun and harmless about it that she enjoys giving herself over to the feel of each other, mind buzzing too much to think about much else.

“If Ravenclaw are out to get us you better double up on the glitter,” Harry murmurs a while later. They should admit defeat on the essay and go to bed, Parvati knows this.

“My loyalties are tied, you know,” she points out.

“Put a little bit of blue on then,” Harry sighs, put-upon. “But only a tiny bit. Ravenclaw are holding their own out there. We need to win this or we’ve lost it.”

“We could consult Trelawney on this,” Parvati suggests, her hand warm in Harry’s. She rolls onto her side, watches as he blinks slowly. She’s almost asleep too.

“She’ll probably tell you I’m gonna fall off my broom.”

“Remember you asked me if I think she saw Ron and Lavender?” Parvati remembers. “Do you think she saw us?”

“I think she’s got bigger things to see than love lives,” Harry says, oddly serious for someone who hated Divination, and then he grins and looks at her like she’s the best thing he’s seen in a long time. It’s a difficult look to maintain eye contact with but Parvati manages. “Anyway, she always sees me in depressing situations; this is the complete opposite of that,” which, in its roundabout way, is really very sweet.

“I think my mum would say you’re a keeper, Harry,” she says and kisses him quick before he makes a stupid joke about Seekers.