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A New Definition of Beauty - A Place for the most Rare of Loves
Find it in the Room of Requirement

Boca. posting in A Gift Exchange for HP Rarepairs
User: hprare_exchange (posted by msqu)
Date: 2007-10-22 23:55
Title: A New Definition of Beauty
Security: Public
Tags:ernie, ernie/lavender, het, lavender
Story for: phil_urich
Title: A New Definition of Beauty
Pairing: Ernie/Lavender
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Two residents of the Dai Llewellyn Ward find comfort in the aftermath.
Additional Notes: Not a pairing I normally ever write, but well, the name of the game for this exchange is 'rare'. I hope I fulfilled your request satisfactorily, as 'conversation in the middle of the night' can be interpreted many ways. It got a touch….sappy.

Darkness had settled throughout the hospital room when Lavender's eyes snapped open, the only illumination coming from the moonlight that came through the window. Even half asleep, breathing heavily from bad dreams, she had the presence of mind to be glad it wasn't a full moon – given that she wasn't quite up to dealing with that yet. She was tempted to cast a lumos, to try and cast away the invisible monsters that hid in the dark, but that might attract the attention of the mediwitches stationed right outside the ward, and that was the last thing she wanted. She'd had enough calming draughts and sleeping potions force fed down her throat in the last few days to last a lifetime. At first she'd eagerly accepted them, wanting to have the sensations, the worries, and the pain, dulled by fake means than deal with the issues that awaited, but she'd tired of having her brain fogged.

She winced as she maneuvered herself on the bed, hesitating when her legs threatened to fall off side. That had happened once before with her whole torso tumbling after them, sending medical professionals running into the room and awakening every other patient that filled the Dai Llewellyn Ward.

"Accio," she murmured, sliding her wand into her hand and summoning the wheelchair to the side of the bed so she could slip into it.

There was theoretically a way to make the transition graceful, but she'd been told that would come in time. Lavender didn't bloody care. She'd rather they got their arses in gear and created a Spinal-gro potion rather than teach her how to manipulate her useless body properly. After all that severance was what had left her body rather useless from the way down, legs as limp as her hair without a proper beauty spell. If only she'd been thinking more clearly when she'd been flung from the balcony, realizing the need to cast some kind of cushioning charm. She would never admit it to the healers and mediwitches, for they already looked at her pityingly as it was, but in that moment she had almost hoped for death – rather than this semblance of life that was being forced upon her.

Wincing, she settled herself into the chair, the wounds on the back of her legs were beyond feeling, but those on her upper arms and back had yet to scar over – the bandages only providing minimal padding and protection. Lavender hated pain, and would have called for a potion, but she would get the requisite lecture about staying in bed. About needing her sleep. About how she needed to regain her strength.

Like that would cure paralysis.

Like that would take away the risk of lycanthropy having already changed her genetic make-up.

Like it would make her beautiful again.

Maybe that worry would make some think less of her, but she didn't care. The latter mattered to her. It always had. People liked her because she was pretty – she knew that, or at least they had. She wasn't clever, she wasn't deep, but she was pretty, and she could be pleasant. And loyal. Merlin, that made her sound like a sodding Hufflepuff, but it was true. Her looks were her currency, she was fully aware her past boyfriends hadn't been dating her for her brains. They were what were going to get her a husband, and get her the family she wanted, and maybe a side job divining if she got bored. It made her seem like a petulant child, but she'd destroyed the mirror on the table beside her bed the moment she'd seen it after awakening from the potions induced stupor she'd been put in after being apparated to the hospital from Hogwarts.

Instead the window now, against the backlight of night, was sending her reflection back to her – as she raised a shaky hand to touch the bandages that covered her face and scalp, obscuring it mostly from view. She didn't know exactly what lay under there – and in truth she didn't really want to know. There was appeal in hiding from the truth. Yet, every night so far, she sat there looking at the faint reflection and wondered exactly what would be looking back at her when the coverings were removed. Wondering, and worrying.

"Those will be gone soon," a voice said entirely too reasonably from behind her, "the standard time for a suture spell to work is five days, so you should be healed soon."

"Sod off MacMillian," Lavender said in annoyance, dropping her eyes abruptly from the window where she could see him walk up behind her. It wasn't the first time he had interrupted her nightly vigil. She wasn't quite sure why he was still here – sure he was still recovering from a bite by an errant venomous tentacula Professor Sprout had tossed into the fray, but honestly, he could do that at home. He didn't have to stay there, doing his best to act like confessor and healer for her.

Like every time, she tried to cut off the conversation, and attempted to turn the chair back to her bed – only this time all she managed was to bump her unfeeling legs into the nightstand. Cursing, she felt tears fill her eyes at her complete uselessess, even if she wasn't feeling pain.

"Even if the paralysis isn't temporary," Ernie's holier than thou tone cut into her self-pity as he grasped the handles of her chair, turning her so she could slip back into the bed, "it's just a matter of practice to get the hang of life in a wheelchair. You're a witch Lav, makes it so much easier than those poor muggles – have you ever had to see how they get to deal with being handicapped? Nothing is really closed to you, and there are these fascinating prosthetics that can be used if…."

There was no attempt to count to ten and calm herself, "Ernie, shut it! For Merlin's sake, shut it!"

He looked stricken, "I was just trying to help. And I've been doing a lot of reading, nothing bloody else to do since they won't let me go home. I care about you Lavender." While friendship was perhaps a stretch of a definition, they had gotten to know each other much better as the students – not of Slytherin – had banded together in the final year at school.

"Stop making it sound like I have nothing to be depressed about," she said irritably, "it's only been a few days, I'm allowed to wallow for at least a week, yeah?"

"But you don't," Ernie sounded entirely too excited as he continued on, "I know it's not ideal, but there are ways to get around the paralysis and…." He seemed to realize she was about to reach for her wand to send him to the spell damage ward, and hastily switched onto a new line of speech, "and, yes, I know it's hard – but it could be a lot worse."

She raised her eyebrows as she tried to lift herself onto the bed, sighing and accepting his help as he was there in a flash, lifting her relatively easily and setting her down on the comforter. Rather than laying back, she sat there for a moment on the edge, looking at him. The bitter laugh that escaped certainly didn't sound like it had come from her, "It could be worse? Ernie, you're going to have to explain that to me. I'm paralyzed from the waist down, I'm going to be scarred – likely beyond recognition, and I may or may not turn into a werewolf every month since Fenrir Greyback got at least one half bite in before he was flung off me. How's that for a brilliant life?"

"First off," he was back to sounding pompous again, "even if he bit you properly, it can be controlled with the Wolfsbane potion. But more likely than not, it's just going to make you a little more…animalistic every full moon. A taste for meat, perhaps longer nails, likely a little more aggressive. Not the end of the world…" when she let out a low growl at his statement he added quietly, "You could be dead."

"I think I might prefer that," she shot back, realizing afterwards how ridiculous that sounded. Ron's older brother was dead – and despite the fact he'd mocked her when she was dating Ron that didn't mean she wished him ill. Well, it had, but not that much ill. There had been so many dead bodies that night when the healers had taken her away, so many that could have been her. Could have been Ernie, Could have been any of them really. It sounded so callous to wish for that, when there were so many families who would prefer to have their loved ones in her shoes right now.

Ernie took her hand in his, "You don't mean that Lav."

"I know," she said softly, not pulling hers back right away, taking comfort in his touch. Arrogant prat he might be at times, but he was here. And he'd been there, he got it, unlike some of her fellow ward inhabitants who were at St. Mungo's after being bitten by a kelpie they tried to pull out of a well. Lavender felt tears welling up in her eyes, and tried to blink them back. She'd cried buckets these last few days, feeling sorry for herself, for others - and wished she could just turn the tear ducts off. It was just so hard, knowing that even though they had succeeded, they had won – her life would never be the same again.

All of a sudden the tears were coming in heavy sobs, grief wracking her body as her hands fisted in the bedspread. Embarrassment hit her to be doing this in front of Ernie, but she didn't care enough to stop. There was hesitation, then he was beside her on the bed, wrapping his arms around her and guiding her head to rest on his shoulder. Sobbing still, she buried her face against the material of his pajamas, not bothering to hide the pathetic crying mess she was – dampening the fabric.

"I'm…so….ugly," she managed to choke out the words, feeling the sting of tears as they slid under the bandages and the salt hit the wounds there.

She would have hexed him when she felt his chest rumble in laughter, but his finger slid under her chin to tilt it up to face him, and his expression was gentle.

"You're not ugly," he said softly, locking eyes with her. He gave a small smile, adding, "Perhaps you're not at your best right now, but you're not ugly, you could never be ugly."

She gave a watery sniff, "You're a bloody moron MacMillan."

Ernie brushed her hair back from her face, his hand pausing as he looked at her. He hesitated, but only a moment, then spoke softly, rushing it as if it wasn't easy to get out. "I always thought you were pretty, you know. Tried to get up the nerve to ask you to the Yule Ball, but couldn't manage, and asked Hannah instead. Spent the whole evening watching you in your dress, dancing and smiling prettily – so full of life. I used to watch you in the library doing your homework too, biting your lip as you concentrated. Though that was rare, more often than not you were giggling with Parvarti whenever Madam Pince's back was turned. And you were especially lovely then, when you looked like you didn't have a care in the world."

She was going to shush him, embarrassed, but he continued, "I watched you that last year at Hogwarts, scared but resolute, and thought you were brilliant. I saw you without glamour charms when you'd have to come out when needed in the middle of the night, and thought you were prettier even still. I'm not a stalker, I've just always seen you, and I've admired your looks from afar."

Tears were welling up again because she was no longer that girl. The one who could stop boys, or the one who practiced glamour charms endlessly to get her hair and makeup just right. She was no longer going to be the pretty girl, the one he had thought so lovely. It was like another dose of salt on the wound, and she tried to pull away from him, but he kept his arm tightly around her and stopped her.

"But…" he said firmly, keeping her beside him as he reached up his other hand to cup her face over the bandages. With the first non medical physical contact since her injuries, she found herself tilting her face into his hand and closing her eyes, relief in the touch. Ernie's voice had trailed off, but then he seemed to come back to himself and continued, "but, I've never thought you truly beautiful until now."

Her eyes snapped open at that, and she went to speak, but he hushed her with a thumb brushed over her lips. He let his hand roam, sliding gently over the bandages as to not disturb them, "You got these fighting Lav. You never had to stay, you never had to try and save the world, but you did. You got these for a cause. So brave that night, you never thought twice about staying. These make you beautiful, in a way some silly glamour charms never could. These make you intimidating more than superficial looks ever could, and truly lovely."

"Even if you howl at the moon, spend your life in a wheelchair, and people can't see the preening princess that used to exist, you're lovely," his tone was firm, "because this shows what you're like on the inside, and that's what matters."

Lavender had no words to respond to his statements, his simple sentiment meaning more than any shallow compliments she had received before. She was left speechless as Ernie gave her a little half smile, and couldn't bring herself to move as he lowered his head slowly to hers, pausing a hair's breadth away from her mouth before settling his against her lips – kissing her gently. It was nothing like the wet slobbering kisses she was used to from her boyfriends, but this wasn't about passion, or even practice. This was about comfort, about….proving something to her maybe.

And as he pulled back and met her eyes, she realized maybe it was about a little bit more.

As scared as she was elated, Lavender dropped her eyes from his and played idly with the material of the threadbare hospital bedspread. "Sap," she said, and meant it to be teasing to break the mood, but her voice had filled with emotion again, and she had to blink back tears, even if they weren't quite the sad ones of before.

He gave a small laugh, but didn't back away, "Don't let it get out, yeah? My reputation will be ruined."

"You mean you want to keep being known as a pompous know it all?" She giggled, looking back up at him then.

"Brat," he said accusingly, but a smile teased at the corners of his mouth. He gave an exaggerated sigh, adding, "And yes, I would, considering I do have superior knowledge and skill."

Ernie's voice didn't sound that far off from his normal tone and attitude, and she was off into a peal of laughter again – his only response a controlled raise of his eyebrows because he wasn't quite getting the joke. He started off on a self important rant about how laughter was the best medicine, in fact studies has been done that proved it was nearly on par with an episkey for minor maladies, but then broke off with a bemused look as she started giggling all the harder.

Finally her laughter subsided, and she was left with him looking at her oddly. Before she had the chance to question him further, he only murmured the word, "Beautiful," again.

And this time when he kissed her, it was with a smile upon both of their lips.

The End

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User: phil_urich
Date: 2007-10-24 02:05 (UTC)
Title: (no subject)
This was absolutely wonderful. Both characters were exactly as I imagined them being and the build-up was well done. Thank you so much for your time and effort in writing this piece.
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idea_of_sarcasm: albus severus laugh
User: idea_of_sarcasm
Date: 2007-11-07 04:42 (UTC)
Title: (no subject)
Keyword:albus severus laugh
Thank you so much for the kind words. For exchanges, I'm always worried about producing something the recipient will like....so, obviously I'm glad you did :)
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CA: amazing
User: piartemis18
Date: 2007-11-07 02:22 (UTC)
Title: (no subject)
You know what, I love this story. I'm really big on characterization, and you had them both spot on. And it's just so sweet, and of course Ernie had the right words to say, because he really felt that way -- having read your story, I really think so.

Also, Lavender's emotions about her beauty -- and loss thereof -- were very powerful. It was totally perfect, and I heart it tons.
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idea_of_sarcasm: sexypose
User: idea_of_sarcasm
Date: 2007-11-07 04:46 (UTC)
Title: (no subject)
I love receiving feedback like this. Thank you so much! Characterization is a big deal to me, because I'm always worried about making characters of the same sex interchangeable between fics. I'm so glad you liked it, and thank you for the kinds words. And *cough* yes, it got more 'sweet' than anything.
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Boca.: keira flower
User: msqu
Date: 2007-11-07 04:47 (UTC)
Title: (no subject)
Keyword:keira flower
Such a great piece! Thanks for writing this. I'm no preening princess, but I can understand how difficult it would be for Lavender, and Ernie was oh so pompous and right about everything, but it was just what she needed in respect to what he said about her.
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idea_of_sarcasm: save a broom
User: idea_of_sarcasm
Date: 2007-11-07 05:09 (UTC)
Title: (no subject)
Keyword:save a broom
No problem for the writing part, I was glad to help, even if it didn't exactly end up an epic fic:). Thank you for the comment as well! I was a bit nervous with how this piece came off.
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User: snitchcatcher
Date: 2007-11-09 04:27 (UTC)
Title: (no subject)
Just wanted to let you know that this story has been rec’ed at

The Golden Seeker
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Pining for...
March 2008