Parvati grinned and stepped out of her compartment, shutting the door behind her. Inside a rather long nostalgic conversation was occuring as they slowly made their way out of Scotland. Someone had broken out a pack of new Exploding Snap cards, and Ron and Harry were betting their last Chocolate Frogs. So it was, naturally, an opportune moment as their journey approached its first complete hour, for Parvati to go and visit a few people.
Steven was on his way back from visiting the train's lavatories when he noticed her walking towards him, and he unconsciously ran a hand through his hair. "Parvati," he said simply, taking the last few steps that remained between the two. At first, he wasn't sure what to say, as many emotions were running through his head, but he finally decided on: "Hello."
Parvati grinned wide, and instead of coming up with some silly and ultimately annoying play on his name, she bowed her head in greeting, returning with, "Steven."
"Going somewhere?" he inquired, temporarily forgetting that they were on a train and the only places to truly go where the facilities or a compartment. A grin also found it's way to his lips.
"Actually, to be honest," she admitted, leaning her weight against the outer wall, "I wasn't headed anywhere in particular. I wanted to find some people . . . you were one of them, but I wasn't sure when the best time to catch you would be."
"Now works," replied Steven, "but you just missed me in the W.C. That would have been the best time to catch me." His tone was joking, but he tried to lace in a bit of seriousness.
Parvati laughed her full, warm laugh, and rolled her eyes. "Indeed," She said quietly. There was a brief pause while she looked around, then bit her lip. "So . . . ." She trailed off.
Turning serious for a moment, Steven looked down at her. "How have you been, Parvati? And I mean really...I've heard enough hogwash from this person and that....I want to know how things are truly going for you..." he trailed off, waiting for her response.
She frowned and looked at the floor. 'Heard enough hogwash from this person and that...' wasn't what she would have been happy to hear, but doing her best to focus on the question, she scuffed the toe of her shoe on the floor as she considered his question. How was she? "I'm . . .," she paused as a slight smile appeared on her lips and she looked up at Steven. "I'm living. And . . . well, it's more than being alive. I'm really living."
What he had wanted her to come back with...that wasn't it. He had been looking for something simple, either an "I'm happy" or an "I'm sad." Steven shifted slightly and placed his hand against the wall. "Is that working for you?"
She looked up at him, the corners of her mouth still twitched upward, but her brow furrowing in concern at the look on his face. "Steven?" she said quietly, asking with her eyes what she needed not say, the question she hoped was communicated.
"It never would have worked between us, you know," he said without pretext.
Her dark eyes went wide. "What?" she asked.
Steven looked down at the floor quickly, his long hair covering his expression from her. It took him several minutes to collect himself in order to speak again. "You and me. No matter how much I wanted it, it never would have worked."
It felt like there was a huge weight on her chest, slowing her heart and her breathing. Not exactly sure how to react, she crossed her arms over her chest, feeling slightly vulnerable and rather afraid "W-w . . . what do you mean? Why-- . . . ."
He had to laugh at how ridiculous he was sounding, because it was true that he hadn't had a second thought about himself and Parvati since the day of the battle, but now all these thoughts and feelings were flooding back, and he...he didn't want them. "Because you didn't love me," he said slowly, his voice cracking.
Quite against her will, no matter how hard she was trying not to, tears began to stream down her cheeks. She took a step back away from him, her arms still crossed, temporarily broken by her hand going up to her face to angrily wipe away tears. She stood, her dark eyes focused and unblinking on his face, listening.
"You loved Harry....you always did," he went on, voice melodramatic and dark, "I don't...believe me I don't blame you for it. He was what you needed...a hero for you. I was just that bloke you met out on the Quidditch Pitch, and believe me...I didn't mean to fall in love with you. But it happened. And I'm sure there's a reason...somewhere, someplace, but I don't think I want to hear it."
She was overwhelmed, and at a loss to what to say. Of course she loved Steven. With all her heart . . . just . . . obviously not in the way he had wanted her to. Still . . . all that he said hurt somehow. Like it was her fault, like she had done something wrong. And . . . something else. It was crushing.
He realised what he was saying was so far out of line that it wasn't even rational anymore, but it needed to be said. He had kept it up inside him for more than eight months, and this might very well be his last chance to say his peace. Now that it was out, he didn't feel any better, but he did feel a sense of closure wash over him and he let out a big sigh.
Finally regaining some of her composure, save the tears that were forming salt stains on her cheeks, Parvati swallowed, coughed, and then said, "So. Are you happy now?" she asked bitterly, angry that he had thrown this upon her, angry that he had said those things that had hurt her, angry that he hadn't said sorry, angry that he would probably say yes and walk away after this.
"Happy isn't a word I associate myself with," he replied carefully. Steven was careful to keep his gaze away from her, because the sight of her standing there, so vulnerable, bearing her soul, that made him hurt, now matter how convinced he was that this needed to happen.
She sniffed and rubbed her eyes again as the tears stopped. Then, pressing her back to the wall, she let out a harsh laugh and looked away from him. "You know, it's funny, there were times when I thought you hated me . . ." Parvati muttered to herself. "And M-- . . ." she stopped herself from going on. No. Speaking from a bitter place in her heart was not the best idea. But her eyes red and burning, Parvati turned her intense gaze on him. "You know, whether you love me or not, Steven, I do love you."
It was a shock, at first, to hear her say that. Of all the things Steven had been expecting: yelling, crying, hexing, perhaps even a tantrum, he hadn't been expecting that. He bit his lip and ran a hand through his hair once more, though this time for nerves rather than conceit. "I...," he paused, unsure of what to say, "...."
"Yeah," she snapped, glaring at him. She wasn't about to walk away from this conversation angry with him . . . not angry at such a close friend as they were both about to venture out into the world. "Now you know how I feel. 'It never would have worked between us . . . happy isn't a word I associate with,'" she muttered, all her bad habits coming out at once as she simultaneously began to chew her lip, pick at the hairs in front of her face, and scuff the toe of her shoe on the floor.
"You don't have to throw my words back at me, Parvati," Steven said finally, "because of all the things I may or may not have done to you, I've never used anything you've done against you." He scratched his forehead, trying to think of the best way to handle this situation, or if there even was one.
She glared at the floor. "Can you ignore that and listen to what I'm really trying to say? Please? I'm sure I'm no treat at the moment, but you haven't exactly set me up to be, and I won't leave you alone until we finish this."
Steven spread his hands wide. "I want to finish it as much as you do."
"Well," she said, standing and holding her ground as she waited for him to respond to what she said.
"I've seen you at your best, and I've see you at your worst. I don't want to instigate any ill feelings, and from this point on I will listen, I promise," Steven said.
Waving a dismissive hand, she pushed back to the point. "Look. What I was saying before we fell into this pit of rambling was that whether you feel the same way or not, Steven, I do love you. And while we aren't about to run off . . . and . . . and shag or snog or do some other romantic thing in a broom closet, as Mandy dislikes me enough already, there won't come a time when I'll say 'I don't love Steven.' Whether you like it or not, whether you feel the same way or not, whether we ever speak again or not."
Steven gave a listless sigh. "Perhaps love itself is more complex than we give it credit. Our love...what we have...is not the same as what I have for Mandy or what you have for Harry. It's different, but just as strong and just a deserving of our attention. I don't want to step of this train today and think that I'll never talk to Parvati Patil again in my life, because that in itself would be a tragedy. Whether its the right thing or not, I never want you out of my life."
Parvati raised her eyebrows and looked around, unsure of what to say. 'Ditto' didn't seem to cover it, and she wasn't about to repeat Mandy's name. Fellow seventh year or not, Steven's girlfriend or not, previously injured or not, Parvati didn't like her particularly much. But regardless, she'd have to remain respecful and not start mocking Steven or talking badly about her or . . . well, anything. "All right," she finally settled upon, taking her wand out and pointing it at her face, casting spells to
clean herself up. After another minute of silence, Parvati sighed and let a slight smile slip back onto her lips.
Without much ceremony, he extended his hand to her, expecting her to shake it. "Does put us on the right page, then?" he inquired, trying to fancy up the thought in his brain going "Yay! I think we're friends!"
Parvati laughed and rolled her eyes. "Oh, you silly prick," she muttered, bypassing his hand and giving him a hug. "You don't seem too pleased, regardless."
"Can I tell you a secret?" he whispered into her ear ashe hugged her tight.
"Go ahead," she replied.
"Inside I'm dancing."
Parvati smiled widely now as she pulled back. "So does this mean," she asked carefully, "That from now on we can hang out and have fun and talk and do whatever without stress?"
"So long as there is no extra stress to be had, than yes," he answered, nodding to amplify his agreement.
She looked at him and gave a single, firm nod. "Good."
Steven smiled and brushed his hair out of his face once more, completely at a loss for words.
Parvati paused, then burst out giggling. "Come on," she said, grabbing him by the wrist and giving him a tug. "Let's go find the snack cart. I could do with some chocolate and other unhealthy things. Our last chance to be children and all that, you know."
"Only if you don't josh at my horrid ability to kepe food inside my mouth," he warned, holding up a finger.
Her eyes went large. "What?"
"I can't eat properly," Steven clarified, "So don't make fun."
"Ah. I promise not to laugh, tease, point, harass, mock, or snigger," Parvati swore, holding up a hand and crossing her other fingers while shutting one eye in a wink. "Sort of."
"Oh c'mon you," he laughed, grabbing her arm lightly and leading her off to the food, "I'll make sure you get your reward..."