A Leg for a Leg
“Iffen you harm Oz, I’ll break yer legs.”
Lavender looked up to see Mac standing over her. She was staying at the Council tonight and had not even heard the slayer enter the sitting room she had been in. It was late, and MacDougal had probably just come in from a patrol. They’d been doubling up since the last incident with the zombies.
Lavender folded the book she had been reading closed. “And hello to you as well, MacDougal.”
Mac just stood there glaring. Lavender decided right then that she was no longer going to be a passive bystander, not even if it got her a black eye. She’d decided that today when Neville had mentioned Mac had been jealous Hermione, but Lavender had not planned for this to be where things took place. Still, no better time than the present.
“Can you sit down, MacDougal? We need to talk. I’m going to help you help yourself.”
Mac gave her a wary look and sat down.
“Oz is the first friend I’ve made since coming back, and with most of my old friends angry with me, I’m not planning on jeopardizing that. That’s not what we’re going to talk about. We’re going to talk about you being jealous of, oh, everyone as far as Neville is concerned.”
Mac bristled. The last person she wanted to discuss that with was Brown.
“Don’t hit me,” Lavender said. “Neville likes you. I can tell, and he’s not the kind of guy that would ever stray, not ever. Why do you act like he is?”
“I know what I am, that I’m not...”
In the blink of an eye, Lavender got it. She so got what was going on here. She had always been pretty good at reading people - unless she was going out with them.
“Oh my God... Mac, you don’t think you’re good enough for him? Seriously? That’s what this is?”
“Bollocks!” Lavender shouted.
Both Mac’s eyebrows went up.
“How can you be you and... who made you see yourself this way? First of all, you’re very lovely. When Neville... mind I don’t want details AT ALL... but does it seem as if he’s not attracted to you when you... do stuff? And no details ever. No, it doesn’t, does it. I see that in how his arms go around you, how he touches you. I notice things like that. Secondly, you are a fierce thing, you should act like it in all areas of your life. You landed him on your own merit. You can keep him on it. It makes me very angry that you don’t think yourself enough for Neville. He thinks you enough for him, and Neville’s not an idiot. I think you should trust him to know what he wants. Which is the third thing - he wants you. Bask in it. A person has to want to stray to stray, and he doesn’t want to.”
Mac just blinked.
“And I didn’t really mean to give someone who just threatened to break my legs a lecture, but there it is.”
“Tis hard for me no’ to feel... jealous. I’m no’ like you. I don’t just have people flutter about me like flies on stink.”
“That’s a lovely image,” Lavender said sarcastically. “Thank you ever so.”
“Ya know what I meant. I dinna make friends so easily. I dinna attract men because of how I am. He’ll see tha’ he doesna want a woman who can best him in a fight, and he’ll leave.”
“You’re wrong,” Lavender said. “Neville doesn’t leave. No matter what, he always stands beside those whom he cares for, and he does care for you. Probably a great deal more than you realize. He forgave me for leaving and scaring him without a thought. He was scared of me, but let me sleep on his couch because I was his friend. You have his heart. Perhaps I am the one who needs to be making the threats around here. get it through your head - you’re all he sees, you’re all he wants to see.”
Mac actually smiled. “Yer a good friend to him.”
“All the girls in Gryffindor are, but he chose you. If anything, I suspect we should be the jealous ones.”
Mac considered what she had said. Perhaps Brown was right, and she needed to trust a bit more, but trust had never been her strongest trait. In fact, she was distrustful in general. If she were one to cast blame, she could cast it on Zabini, but she couldn’t blame it solely on him. She had been rather solitary even as a wee child. It was difficult for her to allow people in because she didn’t like them to leave, and they usually did in her case.
“I just want...” Lavender sighed. “Guys get tired of the jealous thing, Mac. Trust me, I know. Like I said, I want Neville to have what he wants, and that’s you, leg-breaking and all. If anyone’s going to surprise you and be the one that stays, it’ll be Neville.”
“I canna help wha’ I feel.”
“Well, you’re clever. When you start to feel jealous, just tell yourself you’ve nothing to be jealous for. When you hold on too tight, people find a way to escape. Again, trust me, I know.”
“Like it will be tha’ easy - me tellin’ m’self no’ to be jealous.”
“Nothing ever worth anything is easy. Do you care about him?”
“Should be obvious I do, should it not?”
Lavender leaned in close. “Then fight your jealous nature for him. You’re strong. I’ve little doubt you’ll succeed. Neville needs you to succeed, so I suggest you try.”
Mac sighed. Deep down she knew Brown was right. It would be something she had to work on, but Mac wasn’t sure if she could do it. She again wished she could be more like Willow. Willow would be able to not be jealous. She was more forgiving and gracious than Mac could ever be.
“I dinna know if I can-”
“Did you start out of the womb being able to play the violin?” Lavender asked suddenly.
Mac blinked at her.
“Yes, I know you used to play. I know you play rather well, in fact. Even if I hadn’t heard you back in the day, your cousin Cullen mentioned it the last time I was in Three Broomsticks. You should probably take it up more often. Might help with your stress levels,” Lavender said. “Not the point, this is - did you start out in life being able to play?”
“No, you didn’t. How’d you get better at it?”
“How? Let’s hear it. Come on then,” Lavender badgered. “Come on.”
“Exactly,” Lavender said. “You are going to practice being not jealous for Neville’s sake until it’s as effortless as playing the violin is for you, and I am going to help you.”
“Yer a bossy bit of goods.”
“Not the first time I have heard that,” Lavender said with a flourishing hand gesture. “Probably won’t be the last either. You can do this. I know you can.”
“Why do ya care?”
“Because Neville stayed my friend and gave me absolutely no grief about where I have been. He just accepted me again. It was as if I’d never left with him, as if I hadn’t been turned into a fucking werewolf and pretended to be dead while I lost what it was like to be a human witch.”
She had started crying the more she stated her ‘why’. Mac was looking at Lavender Brown with wide eyes. Maybe she wasn’t the only one who had problems seeing herself the way others saw her.
“There now,” Mac said, giving her an awkward pat on the shoulder. “Mayhap we can help one another.”
Lavender looked at her in confusion.
“Ya help wit m’jealous, and I can help ya make whatever amends ya feel ya need to make. Iffen people canna forgive tha’ ya went through somethin’ tramatic and needed an escape, then mayhap ya dinna need them back in yer life. I were horrible to most of m’family after m’brother were killed. They forgave me it.”
“I don’t think it’s rightly the same. I don’t have family anymore.”
“Yer th’one tha’s wrong now. Yer friends are yer family. Nev, Granger, Patil. They’re yer family, and iffen yer gonna stay here, at th’council, so long as ya dinna do them wrong, they’ll be yer family as well. We take care of one another here.”
Lavender nodded. She really felt like she had just gotten somewhere with MacDougal. If it helped Neville, and Lavender felt it might, then all the better. She owed him big.
“Why would you help me?” Lavender asked.
“Because yer Nev’s friend. He would want me to help ya, and tis no’ somethin’ I’m good at. Ya just reminded me tha’ mayhap I need to learn to do new thin’s. After all, I am a Ravenclaw. Shouldna I want to try new thin’s?”
“Like helping a werewolf make amends?”
Mac wasn’t sure if this was going to be a good idea, but she was willing to try. Brown was right about one thing - Neville didn’t mind her jealousy now, but would that always be so? She needed to find a way to overcome it or face the fact that she might chase him off for holding on too tight in her fear.
But a part of her was a little irritated that she hadn’t seen it for herself - that it had taken someone else to point things out to her. She was a Ravenclaw. She should have been smarter than this, but Mac knew that book smarts didn’t always equal common sense, and where Neville was concerned, her sense and reason went out the window.
She just hoped Brown was right, and she could overcome her nature here.