The Sugar Quill
Author: Cendrillon (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Depths to Which Girls Will Sink  Chapter: Default
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The Depths To Which Girls Will Sink

By Cendrillon

Disclaimer:
The world of Harry Potter belongs to the creative mind of J.K. Rowling. I am not benefitting monetarily for this story, my only rewards are your reviews.

Author's Note: This story is a missing moment from Chapter 15 of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" (specifically pages 310-314 of the American hardcover edition) taken from Parvati's perspective. Now on with the show!


 

Parvati Patil was quickly growing tired of Ron and Lavender's relationship. And the sad thing was that she had herself to blame for it. If she hadn't encouraged Lavender to flirt with Ron, perhaps this never would have happened. Perhaps she would have been spared the hours of listening to Lavender's never-ending and sickeningly sweet adorations of Won-Won. Perhaps she would have still had a best friend who wanted to spend some time with her instead of lavishing all of her attentions on a silly boy who laughed whenever Professor Sinistra said Uranus. A boy, who as far as Parvati was concerned, was nice and ok-looking, but not a great catch by any means.

At first it was entertaining. Lavender had had a crush on Ron ever since his triumph at the glorious Quidditch match that had won Gryffindor the House Cup the previous year. When the tales about Ronald Weasley's involvement in the mysterious happenings at the Ministry of Magic had appeared in the papers that summer, Lavender's attraction had increased ten fold. As soon as they returned to Hogwarts, they had spent hours discussing strategy. How could Lavender get Ron to notice her? What should she say to him? Should she make the first move or should he?

Parvati had acted appropriately thrilled when her best friend's wishes had come to fruition (even if she did think that Ron was less than worthy of Lavender, considering what a poor date he had been for poor Padma at the Yule Ball). After Ron and Lavender's first kiss (or kisses), Lavender had returned to their dormitory completely elated and they talked and gossiped into the wee hours of the morning.

And for a time, Parvati took vicarious enjoyment in the relationship. Lavender told her every little detail and Parvati soaked it all up. Being the first major romantic entanglement for either of them, it was all rather exciting.

But as the relationship progressed, Parvati's enthusiasm diminished. Lavender now spent nearly ever waking moment in dark corners (or not so dark corners) with Ron. There were no more late night talks or hours spent practicing beauty charms on one another. There were lonely boring nights spent studying in the library with Padma.

Parvati often wondered how identical twins could be so different. She loved her sister dearly, but Padma was a true Ravenclaw at heart and was far more interested in performing well on her exams than having a little fun once in a while. Padma sometimes reminded Parvati a bit too much of Hermione Granger. They would no doubt have been fast friends had they been sorted into the same House.

It had always been a mystery why Hermione had not been sorted into Ravenclaw, and truthfully Parvati sometimes wished that Hermione had been sorted into another House. Hermione had never been a great roommate or a great friend. She was certainly nice enough, but they had very little in common and Hermione spent all of her waking moments studying or spending time with Harry and Ron. She and Lavender had tried to be friends with Hermione at first, but it quickly became apparent that Hermione was not like most girls. And it didn't take long before she began to consort solely with Ron and Harry, forming the now famous trio.

Parvati and Lavender had both felt certain that Hermione would have established a romantic relationship with one of the boys long ago, but it never happened. Hermione fought constantly with Ron and she vigorously denied any romantic feelings towards Harry after Rita Skeeter reported about their "relationship" in The Daily Prophet. Though, admittedly, Parvati had wondered at the time whether Hermione only said that because Harry had been her own date for the Yule Ball. Not that it would have mattered, Parvati was through with Harry Potter. He may be good and brave and a bit more than decent looking, but he had no clue how to treat a girl. And besides, it had become completely obvious of late that Harry only had eyes for one girl and it was neither she nor Hermione.

One only had to see Harry's face when he looked at Ginny Weasley to know that he was completely infatuated with her. The silly boy didn't seem to realize it however, nor did Ginny oddly. If Ginny had the slightest inkling of Harry's attraction to her, Parvati was quite sure that Dean would be dumped faster than a cage of owl droppings. Of course no one would know what was really going on better than Hermione, who was very good friends with both Harry and Ginny. But, aggravatingly, every time Parvati asked Hermione about the matter, she wouldn't give away a single piece of information about either of them.

As many faults as Hermione had though, at least she was better than the other two, their remaining roommates, who had stayed so distant and absent over the years that she and Lavender had started referring to them as the Others. School had been in session for two weeks before any of them even realized that the Others hadn't returned for their sixth year.

And if Parvati's parents had their way, she and Padma would be joining them shortly. As if the problems with Lavender weren't enough, her parents were constantly threatening to remove her from Hogwarts every time there was even a mention of any attacks near Hogsmeade, which occurred all too often these days. As it was, the elder Patils had already left the country and moved in with their relatives in Mumbai. Unfortunately, the move to India did not mean that they stopped pestering her, since distance meant very little in the wizarding world.

All in all, this left Parvati feeling rather lonely more often than she'd like. Today had been different for once. At least for a short while, everything felt as though it was back to normal. Who would have ever thought that a Transfiguration lesson could be quite so entertaining? Her sides still ached from laughing so hard. She had to suppress the urge to laugh aloud at the mere thought of her classmates' crude first attempts at human transfiguration. Ron's ridiculous moustache leapt foremost to her mind, followed quickly by his cruel but wickedly funny impersonation of Hermione. She couldn't remember laughing that hard in ages.

With all that was going on in the wizarding world, it was nice to have a good laugh for a change. She felt a bit guilty that it was at the expense of others, but still all in all it had been a very good day.

During class, she and Lavender had bonded like they hadn't in ages. They laughed together and reveled in the fact that they were both light years ahead of their classmates in this one subject. They had both mastered the basics of human transfiguration long ago when they started to learn beauty spells. Now with a flick of her wand, Parvati could change her lip color or curl her hair. It was quite thrilling actually to best Hermione for once.

But the fun and laughter ended almost as soon as it began. When they returned to the common room after class, Lavender immediately pulled Ron aside, leaving Parvati very much alone once again. Having seen enough of their snogging to last a lifetime, Parvati chose to go to her room instead of lingering in the common room.

Not being able to concentrate on her studies, she instead chose to read the copy of Witch Weekly that had just been delivered that morning. The magazine wasn't quite as fun as it used to be. Where before it had been full of useless fluff, now there were dramatic news items and heartbreaking interviews with You-Know-Who's victims - wives who had lost their husbands, mothers who had lost their children - it was all quite depressing. But this particle issue promised one article that had nothing to do with the war and that was just what Parvati needed. She flipped the magazine open to the main article and began to read "100 Rules for Bewitching Men" by Amalthea Everett.

Rule #1: Always follow the Rules

Rule #2: Use love potions in moderation.
If your beloved needs a daily dose of Amortentia in his porridge to stay in love with you, then you aren't following the Rules and, quite frankly, girls, he isn't worth your time or effort.

Rule #3: Choose your wizard wisely.
If you suddenly find yourself in love with a man you detested, take yourself to the nearest Healer and be sure that you yourself have not succumbed to a potion.

Rule #4: Never judge a wizard by the length of his wand.

Rule #5: Limit any glamours to yourself, lest the spell wears off and your love comes to the conclusion that you're a Death Eater in Polyjuice disguise.

Rule #6: Leave him space. Unless you're attached by a permanent sticking spell, you should not be spending every waking moment together. Any time spent apart will only bring you closer when you're together.

Well, Lavender certainly wouldn't be listening to that piece of advice.

Rule #7: Call him whatever you'd like in private, but keep any nicknames out of earshot in public.

Parvati wondered vaguely if Lavender had yet used her new nickname for Ron in front of him. She sincerely doubted that Ron would put up with Lavender calling him Won-Won in public for very long should Lavender ever be silly enough to do so.

She debated showing the article to Lavender but then thought better of it. Truth be told, she didn't really want to encourage or aid Ron and Lavender's relationship any longer. A little snogging once in awhile was a great thing, but Lavender was letting it completely take over her life and their friendship was paying the price.

She scanned the article for any further items that might apply to the Ron and Lavender situation. Most of the "Rules" seemed to be simple common sense, some without any magical references whatsoever. About halfway through the list, she came to one that definitely spelled imminent disaster for Lavender.

Rule #42: Never give a man jewelry unless it's a ring on your wedding day.

Lavender had just bought a necklace for Ron for Christmas. Parvati had advised against it. Ron didn't exactly seem the type to wear gold chains, but Lavender had insisted that she was wrong and that Ron would love it. The conversation had threatened to turn into a row, so Parvati had dropped it. But secretly she doubted that Ron would even remember to get Lavender anything in return, much less that he would wear the garish necklace. After all, they'd only been going out for a few weeks.

Her thoughts were disrupted when the door opened. Hermione walked through and slammed the door behind her. A string of uncharacteristic curses slipped from her before she realized that she wasn't alone.

"Sorry…I didn't think anyone was here," Hermione said quickly. Her cheeks blushed with embarrassment and her eyes were red-rimmed and puffy. She had obviously been crying.

Parvati was so surprised to see Hermione like this that she didn't respond immediately. "It's all right," she finally said, smiling as though everything was perfectly normal.

Hermione nodded curtly and walked to her bed where she dropped her bookbag. Then, without another word, she walked to the bathroom and closed the door, careful not to slam it this time.

Parvati looked back down at the article, but was interrupted after every few words by little sobbing noises coming from the bathroom. She wasn't quite sure what she should do. Hermione had clearly been upset at the end of Transfiguration, but that was over an hour ago. Surely she wasn't still upset about that? It was just a silly joke.

A wave of guilt washed over Parvati. Perhaps she shouldn't have laughed at Ron's imitation of Hermione. Looking back, it was a rather cruel joke on Ron's part and Hermione hadn't truly done anything to deserve it. She couldn't take back what had happened, but at least she could still apologize. She walked over to the bathroom and knocked lightly.

"Hermione?" she called tentatively. "Are you all right?"

Another sob came from behind the door.

"I'm f-fine," Hermione replied in a choked voice.

"Listen, Hermione, I'm sorry about what happened in Tranfiguration. I shouldn't have laughed. That was really wrong of Ron to make fun of you."

After a second or two, the door creaked open.

"It's not about that," Hermione said as she walked out, dabbing a handkerchief to her eyes, "well…not entirely."

Parvati sat on her bed and motioned Hermione to sit beside her.

"I don't blame you for laughing," Hermione sniffed as she sat down on the edge of the bed. "Ron's terribly amusing, isn't he? No wonder Lavender's in love with him. Who wouldn't be?" Her voice was harsh now.

"So this is about Ron, then?"

Hermione didn't answer, which only confirmed it and suddenly Parvati understood. All of the pieces came together - Hermione's depression over the last few weeks and the fact that she and Ron were hardly on speaking terms anymore, it all stemmed back to when Ron and Lavender began dating.

"You like him, don't you?" Parvati asked.

Hermione paused before responding. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"So you don't like him then?" If Hermione wanted to play this game, Parvati could very well do her part to reveal the truth of the matter.

Hermione paused. "No," she said quietly. "I mean I like him as a friend, but…"

"Ah, well, that's a relief. I don't know if I could handle two roommates singing the praises of that red-haired idiot. There are only so many of those stupid jokes a girl can take."

Hermione spun around. "He's not an idiot," she said defensively. "And sometimes his jokes are quite clever. He can be very witty at times."

"Really?" Parvati said, raising her eyebrows skeptically. Her plan was working perfectly. She continued, "Well, he's not very handsome anyways. Those freckles-"

"What's wrong with his freckles?"

"-and that long nose."

"It's not that long. It's straight and…classic...like a Greek God's."

Parvati couldn't help smiling, but she suppressed the urge to laugh out loud. "You're right, Hermione. You don't like Ron at all. You're positively in love with him." The cleverest witch in the school and yet Hermione had fallen for the old trick.

Hermione opened her mouth to respond and, just as quickly, closed it. Crookshanks jumped into her lap and she stroked him attentively, as though she was trying to avoid a response. Several moments of uncomfortable silence passed before she actually did speak.

"I suppose you'll tell Lavender then." She stated it as a fact instead of a question.

Parvati shook her head in response. "No. What would be the point of that?"

"She's your best friend, isn't she? You share everything."

"She is, but we don't share everything." At least not anymore, Parvati thought. She resented Hermione's assumption that she would instantly tell Lavender a confidence this personal. "Despite whatever you may think about me, I can keep a secret, Hermione."

Hermione blushed. "I didn't mean to imply that you couldn't," she said apologetically.

"Hermione, I promise I won't say anything to Lavender, or anyone else for that matter. But you can't exactly hide this forever if you keep moping over him. So what are you going to do about it?"

"Do? What can I do? He has a girlfriend now. He's chosen Lavender. He loves her, not me."

"You think that groping down in the common room is love? That's lust, not love. Besides isn't love a bit too strong a word to use for a couple who have only been going out for a few weeks? Lavender may be my best friend, but truthfully she's a bit naïve when it comes to boys. And I'd be lying if I said that I thought their relationship would last the test of time."

"I don't know," Hermione said with annoyance. "They certainly seem close enough at the moment."

"Hermione, did you ever tell Ron how you feel?"

"No,"she replied quietly, "not in so many words, but I think he understood, or at least he should have understood if he wasn't so thickheaded. I mean, after the row at the Yule Ball...and I invited him to Slughorn's party."

Now this was news. Why hadn't Hermione ever mentioned it before? Blast her for being so quiet and antisocial. She might have saved herself a bit of pain. Lavender would never have pursued Ron if she had known about this.

"What did he say?" Parvati asked.

"He accepted. I don't know if it meant anything though. He's been dying to come to one of Slughorn's parties, he hates being left out of things. Still, it seemed like he meant it, like there was something there between us. He certainly didn't want me to go with anyone else…but then the match came and we had another row, and the next minute he was snogging Lavender in the common room. You know the rest."

Suddenly, the truth of the whole situation was blazingly clear. Ron had used Lavender for revenge. Lavender was the other woman. Hermione must have asked him out not even a week before the match. They were virtually a couple when Ron had kissed Lavender. But Ron hadn't kissed Lavender because he was interested in her, he kissed her because he wanted to hurt Hermione. Ron obviously cared about Hermione much more than he was willing to admit.

"Hermione, you have to win him back."

The words were out of Parvati's mouth before she even had time to think about them. What she was proposing would end Lavender and Ron's relationship. Lavender would be miserable and yet Parvati knew that the longer the relationship lasted, the worse it would be for Lavender when it reached its inevitable end. And, in truth, she did feel a bit sorry for Hermione now, especially considering that she had encouraged Lavender's crush.

"But what about Lavender?" Hermione asked.

"I'll deal with Lavender. She'll be angry, but she can move on," said Parvati.

Hermione looked uncertain. "I don't know if I really want him back after the way he's treated me."

"If you didn't, you wouldn't be sitting here making yourself miserable."

"No," Hermione said more forcefully. The tears had faded away now, only to be replaced with anger. "I want him to be miserable. I want to hurt him just as much as he's hurt me. I want-"

"You want revenge," Parvati said simply. "I don't blame you. I'd be just as furious. But there are ways of getting revenge without destroying your friendship and any chance at a future relationship."

"What do you suggest?" Hermione asked curiously.

Parvati held up the Witch Weekly article in front of her and read aloud.

"Rule #23: A man always wants what he doesn't have."

"You mean I should make him jealous?" At first Hermione looked opposed to the idea, but a moment later she said, "How?"

"You said yourself that he's dying to go to Slughorn's party and that he didn't want you to go with any other boy. Have you invited anyone else yet?"

"No. It's tonight. I thought I'd just go on my own or maybe with Harry."

"Well, Harry's not going to matter because Ron knows that you're not interested in each other. It has to be someone he really dislikes. Who is Ron's worst enemy?"

"Draco Malfoy," Hermione answered instantly. A look of horror crossed her face. "But I could never invite Draco. And he'd only laugh at me if I asked him."

Parvati couldn't help laughing at the thought of Hermione and Draco Malfoy together. She would definitely need to borrow Colin Creevey's camera if that day ever came.

"No, not Draco," Parvati agreed when she was finally able to stop laughing. "Even if you did go with him, Ron would know it was fake. It has to be someone more realistic. Someone he hates, but someone that you would reasonably date."

Parvati herself had difficulty thinking of anyone she would want to date at Hogwarts. It said something about the boys at Hogwarts that the handsomest face in the school had a horse's backside and hooves for feet. She hoped that her parents would allow her to return for seventh year if just so that she could take Professor Firenze's class.

"Well, he hates Zacharias Smith," said Hermione, interrupting Parvati's thoughts.

"And Zacharias is older too, which would be even better."

"But I'm not too fond of him either and Ron knows it."

"That won't work. You need someone Ron would see as competition."

"McLaggen," Hermione whispered, her eyes wide. "Cormac McLaggen. Ron can't stand him because he nearly beat him in the Quidditch tryouts. And Cormac's a Gryffindor, so it would make more sense if I asked him." Her face fell. "But the party's tonight, I'm sure he's already asked someone by now."

Parvati smiled. "I wouldn't be so sure of that. I heard him ask Romilda Vane at lunch, but she turned him down. She's holding out, waiting for Harry to make a decision. And so are most of the other girls for that matter. But they won't wait forever, so you'd better find Cormac soon." She nodded towards the staircase.

Hermione looked sick to her stomach. "Are they still down there? I really don't want to see them snogging again right now."

"I'll check." Parvati walked casually down the stairs and pretended that she had forgotten something by the fireplace, which allowed her a nice view of the entire common room. There were about two dozen students studying there or just talking. Fortunately, there was no sign of Lavender and Ron. But there was no sign of Cormac McLaggen either.

A group of girls standing by the portrait hole caught her attention. The group of fourth and fifth years was talking animatedly about something in a way that reeked of gossip. Parvati's interest was peaked and she stepped closer to hear what they were saying.

"Loony Lovegood," crowed Romilda Vane. "You've got to be joking."

"No, I swear," said a young blonde girl, Emily something or other. "I just came back from the library. Lucy McKinley from Hufflepuff told me that the portrait of the witch with the crooked nose in the fourth floor corridor said that Peeves was spreading the word that Potter just asked the Lovegood girl to the party tonight."

"Your source is Peeves?" Romilda asked incredulously. "Well, it's just a stupid joke then. Harry Potter would never go out with a girl like Luna Lovegood." Romilda tossed her long, dark hair to one side in a gesture of superiority. "That's completely ridiculous. Besides, I've already told you, he's going to ask me."

"What makes you so sure?" a pretty brunette asked suspiciously.

"I just know," Romilda answered sharply, casting the girl a stony look that left no room for questions.

Parvati had to roll her eyes at the whole affair. Romilda had to be the most arrogant girl in Gryffindor. Of course, she already knew that Romilda and half the girls in Gryffindor had been plotting to use love potions on Harry. And judging from the smug look on Romilda's face, she had actually succeeded in passing something to him. Hopefully, Harry would have the good sense to dispose of the item before consuming it.

As surprising as the news was that Harry had asked Luna Lovegood (and Parvati, unlike Romilda, believed that this was quite possible), this news only meant one thing to her. Hermione would have to move quickly, before these girls started looking for other options. She hurried back to tell Hermione what she had learned.

* * * * *

A half an hour later, Parvati was anxiously waiting for Hermione's return in the common room, under the pretense of writing her Charms essay. She hadn't managed to write more than a half an inch before Hermione burst through the portrait hole, disheveled and breathless.

Parvati looked hopefully at her.

Hermione nodded and smiled. She had been successful.

Wordlessly, they both hurried back to their dormitory. Once they were safe from prying eyes and ears, Parvati demanded a full account of what had happened.

"So he accepted?"

"Yes. It was easier than I thought. He seemed very pleased with the invitation. A little too pleased actually," Hermione said disdainfully, frowning as she adjusted her robes and smoothed down her bushy hair, which looked even wilder than usual.

Parvati smiled knowingly. "Ah, well, I suppose I should have warned you that Cormac is as gentlemanly as a blood starved vampire."

"And how would you know that?" Hermione raised her eyebrows inquisitively.

"The Inner Eye of course," said Parvati, smirking as she tapped the side of her head.

Hermione rolled her eyes.

"Oh, honestly, if you spent less time studying and more chatting, you'd know it too," Parvati said. "Cormac's reputation isn't exactly a secret." Of course, she had heard more than a few stories about Cormac McLaggen from some of the seventh year girls. McLaggen's behavior was just as aggressive in private as it was in public.

Hermione gaped at her. "Why did you encourage me to ask him out then?"

"It's only one night, Hermione. How bad could it be? Besides, it will make Ron even more jealous if he thinks Cormac is fawning all over you."

"A bit more than fawning if you ask me," Hermione muttered irritably.

"Relax, Hermione. It will be fine. What's done is done. You're going out with McLaggen and it will drive Ron mad. You should be glad. And now that we have the bait, it's simply a matter of setting the trap."

"What do you mean?" asked Hermione, her brow furrowed.

"We have to make sure that Ron finds out that you're going with McLaggen and we don't have much time. We'll have to do it at dinner."

"Well, it has to be natural. It wouldn't make sense for me to go about telling everyone who I'm going to the party with without being asked first."

"I'll ask you then. Lavender and I will sit with Ron and Harry. Be sure that you don't sit too far away. We can start talking about the party and then you can just casually throw in that you're meeting McLaggen. Only be sure to call him Cormac."

A half an hour later, with their conversation fully strategized, it was time for dinner. Where Parvati might have expected Hermione to have some trepidation, instead she seemed confidant and almost eager. It was surprising, and Parvati began to wonder if she had been missing something in Hermione all these years.

When they walked down to the common room, Lavender was eagerly relating the gossip about Harry and Luna to Seamus and Dean. Parvati joined them, pretending that she hadn't already heard the news, while Hermione quietly slipped away towards the portrait hole. Just before Hermione stepped through, she turned around, caught Parvati's eyes, and mouthed wordlessly, "Thank you."

* * * * *

Later that evening, after dinner was through, Parvati thought everything had gone rather well. Hermione had her just revenge on Ron and Parvati had a glimmer of hope that someday she would have her best friend back. Hermione gave a brilliant performance and Ron had definitely paid attention. He spent much of dinner glowering at McLaggen, but fortunately Lavender was too interested in this new piece of gossip to notice. Only Harry seemed to have caught on to their scheme, but Parvati doubted that he would actually say anything to Ron. He looked just as miserable as she was with the whole Ron and Lavender situation and would probably be just as glad when it was over.

She did feel a sting of guilt for betraying Lavender, but there was no regret. If Ron's jealousy over Hermione could be brought to the surface so easily, then he and Lavender certainly didn't belong together. Someday, not far from now, Ron would realize it too. And when that day came, Parvati would be there to help, to bolster Lavender's self-esteem, to listen to Lavender's laments, and to thoroughly criticize Ron whenever she had the chance. But for now, Parvati would have to be satisfied that she had done what she knew in the end would be right for everyone. And perhaps, along the way, she had proven herself a friend to more than one.

//
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