The scars don’t heal and people stare, or worse, offer her pity. Their eyes strip her and there she is, paraded naked, for them to consume her pain and feast upon her weakness. For them to narrate their histories of the war and trace tales of heroism in her wounds.
But I’m ugly, she tells Parvati. Parvati gently traces the scars on her face and tells her she isn’t, but words, words are no armour against their stares.
Padma looks askance at her when she volunteers her body, living, breathing, to the Department of Mysteries. She must look a sight. Curls hanging unwashed and limp and tear streaks that refuse to be hidden - she tries, each time, they come back, she keeps crying though she tells herself to stop - and hands that shake in a way that shout bad decisions at everyone who notices it.
Lavender thinks of all the things she could say to Padma’s glare. I choose to be dismantled. New scars for old. I must hide.
She was seventeen when Fenrir Greyback mauled her face. She’d always been one of those girls. Pretty girls, girls who flirted and danced through life, who demanded attention and were always freely given the attention they demanded. Fenrir Greyback mauled her and she was left with scars that lingered not only on the inside, but on the outside as well. She was no longer pretty. One of those girls, but not beautiful enough to dance and flirt her way through life anymore. In a matter of minutes Lavender Brown found herself being forced to find a new self, simply because of a scar that had ruined her face.
At least she had something in common with The Boy Who Lived.
But truthfully, she wished she could pass and pretend, as she strolled along Diagon Alley, that she was not scarred, or even falling apart. Fenrir had scarred her face and consequently placed her whole life, those horrible war years, all on display for people to come up to her and talk to her as though she was there to talk to them - that she was no more than a victim and a symbol of victimhood. A girl who deserved pity and not love and attention and the petting and cossetting that pretty girls all receive.
She was more than that.
I have nothing left to lose, she tells Padma.
They want someone - a witch, a wizard - on whom they can test the furthest reaches of magic. They’ve used magic to move cars, to do everything the electric could. Man, unmade and remade with a soul of steel, was the next logical step.
And it’s funny, being slowly dismantled under the cold harsh lights of the Department; it helps more than therapy sessions that circle around each other. How are you today? The same. Tell me how you feel? The same. Same old, same old. This is cold and clinical. At least they aren’t trying to peel her mask away and discover the whys and wherefores and the histories of the war as written on her body. They don’t care. There’s a precision to their destruction of her body, a meaningfulness that overwrites the meaningless violence of the scars Greyback left her. Each new incision cuts him out, this dirty cancerous growth that’s played on her mind for years now.
A new set of scars for her to wear. A new pain to embrace. A new body to wear. Same old Lavender Brown; better clothes.
Her therapist will purse her lips - not enough to be noticeable, that would be unprofessional - but three years of having people watch her every act and treating her like fragile glass that has been broken then glued back together, trying to save her from herself; she’s grown sensitive to the slightest twitch of the lips, the slightest crooking of eyebrow, the kind of thing most people would miss. The tiny little movements that even a professionally trained shrink can’t control. She knows them all. Knows exactly where to look for the tell-tale looks of disapproval.
But frankly, she would rather have real armour than the thoughts they want to wrap her in. Even the finest, fiercest warrior wears real armour when he goes into battle. No one sends him out, telling him that he must protect himself solely by the power of positive thinking. She wants weapons. She wants armour. Each day is a battle for her. This will be her armour, even if Parvati frowns at her and tells her she should have taken time to think about it.
No one thinks twice about giving a knight his armour before battle. Why should she?
Lavender Brown leaves the Department of Mysteries two weeks later, a body that is part metal and part wire and part flesh and bone. Magic, it turns out, works exactly the way they imagined it did. So do the scars. People stare, but for the first time in three years, Lavender finds she can toss her hair, just like she used to, and stroll down the street and truly feel unburdened and free.
For a moment, she is beautiful again.