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It’s just a door. That’s what she keeps telling herself. It’s just a god damn door and she should be able to walk through it.

But on the other side of the door, there are friends and strangers and countless others who fall in between. But worst of all, there is light. Out here, coated in shadows, she is safe from pitying looks and disgusted stares. Out here, she is not that poor girl who was mauled by a werewolf during the Hogwarts battle, she is not that disfigured thing who would only be known for the coma she was in afterwards rather than be recognised for her brave will to fight alongside her friends. Out here, she is not a monster.

That is how Lavender Brown likes it.

But she’d promised. For a whole month, Parvati had begged and pleaded for her to come, to get out of the flat for a night and have some fun with her and the others. Parvati had assured her that everything would be okay, and Lavender had believed her friend. So she had prepared an outfit and caked on layers of makeup and had left the flat.

Now she’s stood to the side of the building the Ministry has rented for the war memorial. It looks run down, both to Muggles and wizards, but Lavender knows that it’s magnificent inside; rich paints and glittering chandeliers and anything else the Ministry thinks they need to make people feel better about celebrating what was the worst day of their lives. It’s in celebration of the people they lost, remembering their lives rather than fearing their deaths, everyone knows that and that’s why they go. But even Harry complains about how over the top it feels; Parvati heard it from Dean.

It’s the same every year, when her friend tells her about it. Lavender is yet to see it for herself, and this year is no exception. She can’t help it. On the other side of the door are friends and strangers and countless others in between who will stare at her scars in pity and revulsion and she just can’t go through that. Not now, maybe not ever.

She sits on the step, coated in shadows, and tries not to cry.

***

It’s just a door. That’s what he keeps telling herself. It’s just a god damn door and he should be able to walk through it.

He doesn’t. Maybe he’s a coward; Theo will always be the first to agree with how possible that is. Most people won’t agree; Theodore Nott is a fighter, a freak, a fucking psychopath, but never a coward. His family and friends don’t believe in that last bit; of course he’ll be the first to do something, even if it’s reckless or dangerous, but that doesn’t mean he wants to. He has his priorities.

If they all knew the truth, they’d understand this time. Harry dumped him a month ago and Theo still can’t be in the same room as him if he can help it. Of course, they don’t know that and they never will. And that is Theo’s own fault. But there are many sides to a story and if Harry had known it all, they’d still be together and he would play the hero to fix things and Theo won’t ever let that happen. Harry has a life now, a little boy to look after.

Theo’s doing it for Teddy… and for his own sanity. He’s stable now, they both are; telling Harry the truth would destroy them both in the end.

It’s the sobbing that keeps Theo from turning away from the party completely. Low, heavy sobs bounce off the walls; it’s obvious they’re trying to keep it all in, with the way her chest heaves and her throat cracks. He takes a tentative step forward, keeping a bit of distance she must desperately want if she’s hiding down the side of the building without street lights and trying to keep quiet.

He can’t just leave her there, though.

“Are you alright?”

She lets out another sob and Theo can just about make out her chest as she coughs out the next one. “I’m f-fine.”

Her voice is softer than he remembers, but still so hard to forget. Her high, pixie-like laugh had made him so angry back in school, had made him wish to hurt her as she hurt him every time she laughed at him. Every time she and her friends saw him alone and whispered about him in a way that everyone around them heard. Every time she saw him with other Slytherins and lumped him in the same group of Death Eater kids, called them scum.

“Hello, Lavender Brown.”

“I-I know you?” she asks.

I know you? Because obviously that’s all she thinks; of course he knows her, but does she know him?

“Yes. We used to play with the same group of friends as children sometimes. Then we went to school together and –”

“And?” she prompts, sobbing softer now as she focuses on their conversation.

“Nothing. We just drifted apart is all,” he lies. He’s not here to make her feel bad; she’s doing that just fine on her own. He was there during the battle, he saw the damage Greyback inflicted and he was at the door when she was carried away, ready to be Apparated to St. Mungo’s. It’s not hard to guess why Lavender wants to hide away.

He steps away, back into the light. “Well, if you don’t –”

“You.” That’s the voice he remembers; high and accusing. She gets to her feet. “I know you.”

“I already told you that. But it makes sense for you to doubt me.” He can’t help but laugh as he continues, but it’s not a pleasant one and he’s not sure how he feels when she flinches. “But do you even remember my name?”

She opens her mouth, snaps it shut and falters. “Nerdy… freak… Slytherin…”

It’s a name Theo’s heard a lot, from her lips and others, and it doesn’t hit him hard like it used to. He still hates it, though, and carries on walking away. “No, wait, I’m sorry. It’s Tommy, right? No, Teddy. Little Teddy Nott.”

Little Teddy. Only Pansy really calls him that now. Lavender hasn’t since they were nine – the last time they saw each other before school.

She steps a little closer, face still hidden. “You’re very different to when we were kids, not so little anymore. And you’re not as skinny as you were in school. But your laugh is still the same. And the face you pull as you walk away from someone you don’t like. Hello, Teddy.”

“Teddy’s my son’s name, it’s Theo now.”

It’s hard to stop the wince as he plays back what he said. He shouldn’t have said it, it wasn’t meant to come out at all, least of all to her. But it’s how he feels and he has never been able to think about his words before saying them. Even though it was Theo who decided to keep things quiet, it was Harry who made sure it was followed through. For him.

“You have a son now?” Lavender asks in disbelief. “I still follow the news and gossip; you’re in there a lot because of your family and your work. There’s no mention of a son.”

“Yeah, well, my private life is my own business,” he snaps, but then mumbles an apology. The effect the war and her scars have on Lavender is clear; it’s been a while since she’d had a proper conversation and, like when they were children, he can’t bring himself to let her down, no matter how much his instincts scream not to trust her.

Theo walks over as Lavender moves back and sits on the step again. “Biologically, no, I don’t have a son. I was seeing someone for a couple of months when they chose to go through with the adoption of his orphaned godson. I have clothed him, fed him and loved him for four years and counting; in those terms, yes, I have son.”

She acknowledges his words almost warily, as though trying to figure something out, and Theo wonders just how closely she followed the news and gossip. That Harry has Teddy isn’t a secret, nor is his age and the fact that he’s an orphan… Then’s there’s his name, which he’s never let slip before. No one else has figured it out, only their friends know, but Lavender always was smarter than she pretended to be… when she wanted to be.

“Do you want to sit?” she asks, patting the ground beside her. “We can catch up properly?”

“In a five thousand dollar suit, no thank you,” he scoffs. But the idea of talking to someone impartial, and having an excuse to not be inside, is an appealing one. “But I know there’s a twenty four hour café not too far from here; we can go there, have a drink. I’ll cover up your scars for you, if you want.”

Lavender’s head shaking stops instantly, the no dying on her lips. “You can do that?”

He only nods, not caring to explain how he knows; she never cared before. It’s a few moments of hesitant steps and trembling legs before Lavender braves standing by his side for the first time. Her head comes to his chest and that’s good enough for her; she doesn’t look up once. But she’s standing beneath the light now and he can see traces of the scars on her cheek, could watch where the knotted skin came together as she was being healed if he looked hard enough.

He isn’t that rude.

Instead, Theo brings his hand to her cheek, whispers calming words as she trembles beneath her, and forces himself to concentrate on the spell. His father taught him many things in preparation for war and wandless magic is now as easy as with a wand, but still requires thought to ensure it’s done properly. Especially when it’s done to another person.

They both know when it’s done; one harsh shiver and then she stops moving completely. He watches the skin glow, so soft it’s easy to miss if you’re not waiting for it, and then her face, neck and shoulder looks as though it’s knitted together properly. Bumps are present, the worst of the scars still forcing themselves through, but for the most part the glamour charm has worked. No one would look twice.

“It should last a couple of hours. Long enough for coffee, at least.”

Lavender traces her scars softly. “Thank you. I almost feel like I could walk into that party now.” She tilts her head up at him, catches his wince as he turns back to the door. “But coffee sounds much better.”

She lets him lead the way.

***

“So, why didn’t you want to go in?”

Their coffee has arrived and she’s gotten her apologies for the past over and done with, with Little Teddy still not quite believing her or not quite wanting to forgive her, but he’s still willing to sit with her and that’ll do. Now, Lavender thinks, she can ask the more important questions. The ones she brave enough to ask, that is.

Theo shrugs first, taking such a large gulp of coffee that his tongue must be burning, but he doesn’t complain. “My ex is in there and I can’t see him,” he mutters at last.

“The ex being the guy whose godson you helped raise.” She doesn’t wait for him to agree. “Normally I’d question your priorities – no offense, but an ex isn’t as bad as a mutilated face – but given your ex seems to be the saviour of the wizarding world, I’ll let you off.”

“Thank you.” Theo settles into his side of the booth. “One glamour charm and you’re back to your old self. Is it weird that I prefer this?”

“We know where we stand like this,” she reminds him, forcing her voice not to shake. It’s been so long since she’s been able to just let go that she can’t quite remember who she used to be.

“You always were smarter than you looked.” Theo pulls himself up and leans forward, eyes narrowed, so intense that Lavender has to fight the idea that he could be a danger to her. “No one can know.”

“I promise,” she whispers. “Was that his idea? Did he not want to be associated with a Slytherin?”

“More than you did,” he counters a little too harshly. Calmer, he explains, “It was my idea. There are… things that kept us from telling people, things he doesn’t know about and I can’t tell him. Because if I tell him, he’ll try to fix it and we’ll never recover. Teddy would lose two more parents. Harry understood that I had reasons for not telling people, but he didn’t’ like it and he hated being kept in the dark about it. So, about a month ago, he ended things with me. He waited until after Teddy’s birthday to move out. And I haven’t been able to be in the same room as him since; I can’t see the hope in his eyes. I can’t watch that hope dim a little each time.”

“So you sacrificed your happiness to keep him safe?” This time she does wait for him to agree. “Then you’re both idiots; both of you have got to stop thinking you can save everyone. To risk losing something that makes you both happy because of it is the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard.”

“Says the girl who can’t stand to be looked at for one night to be with her friends. And you think I’m holding back,” Theo mocks and he isn’t sorry. She can’t call him out on his actions without being called out on her own. “Anyway, why aren’t you surprised? Everyone expected Harry to get back with Ginny after the war; they’re constantly asking when he’ll settle down.”

“Maybe he will,” Lavender shrugged. “He and Ginny were a good looking couple in school, however briefly. The war changed everyone, Theo; it being over certainly seemed to have made him a little happier, more open. So if you’re asking why I’m not surprised he was with you, then I hide what little surprise I feel well because you didn’t associate with each other in school, but I’m not surprised he was open enough to try. If you’re asking why I’m not surprised he was with a man… well, he always seemed to at least be bisexual. It was hard to tell, unlike you. You openly dated another boy in school.”

“Am I supposed to be ashamed of my sexuality? Because I remember you laughing at that as well.”

“No, I’m sorry. I was just explaining my lack of surprise. It’s not like I thought either of you were straight, is all.” Pulling away, Lavender finished her coffee, fiddling with the mug as she spoke. “I should be going; this glamour will fade soon. Besides, I need to start thinking of my apology to Parvati.”

She gets to her feet, throws him a quick smile because she knows that if she tries for a proper one she’ll be able to feel the knitted skin pull, and heads back into the shadows. Tonight was a nice distraction and she was glad to sit with someone she once knew rather than a stranger, but who was still impartial. But that’s over now and it’s time to go back to reality; Lavender will probably never see Theodore Nott again and that’s okay. He was a better life than the one she and others had put him through, a family to go home to and take care of; she had an empty flat she knew she wouldn’t leave for a while and regular visits from Parvati. Providing Lavender grovelled well enough.

“Lavender!”

His voice makes her pause, because surely he’s had enough of her for one night. “Yes?” she asks without turning.

“I like women, too.”

That does cause her to face him. Why bring up such a topic? Was her curiosity that obvious? Did he see how much she enjoyed being around someone who had seen her scars and not winced? Had he seen how much his old tormenter was craving attention and wanted to taunt her with it?

“It seemed like something you wanted to know,” Theo answers her first question, but his eyes and soft and hesitant. It hits her how Little Teddy had been when he’d wanted something and been too mild mannered to really ask when he thought he’d be mocked for it. It hits her that he’s enjoyed the company, too, has needed someone he isn’t close with, someone who is nothing like the one he can’t yet be around.

He still does.

So does she.

“You’re not a psychopath, are you?” she asks without realising. She’s heard the stories and it’s a fair question, though now that she remembers him from her childhood Lavender finds it hard to believe. Theo had been a sweet boy; odd, but sweet.

Something changes in his eyes, a kind of playful teasing she’s never seen before. “You’ll have to take that risk.” Theo takes a step forward. “You could definitely call me a masochist, I think; why else would I be prepared to spend the night with someone who was so cruel to me?”

He’s got a point.

She only nods. There’s no holding back tonight.



A/N: A Theo/Lavender for Tammi. There's a short story in the works if you want to know what happens next. I've had the short story planned for a while, so we can call this the prequel.

I hope you enjoy this. Please let me know what you think.

Connor.

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