Who: AJ Singh, Lavender Brown
Where: The Grotto
When: 19 July 2001, late
The party was a haze of high-fives and cheek kisses and drinks being pressed into his hand, and AJ just felt so happy. So, so happy, with the lights just a little bit out of focus, and the music thrumming through his whole body, and his cheeks aching from smiling so much. He felt so happy, in fact, that there was a current of sadness running through it: that feeling of already being nostalgic for this moment, of knowing it was too good to last.
And then, as though some unspoken signal had gone around the room, the party started winding down. People were starting to leave despite AJ’s best efforts to persuade them to stay. He wasn’t ready to give up on the night yet, not by a long shot. He just needed another drink and a smile to buoy his spirits again. At least he knew one person who’d be here until the very end.
“Oi, Lavender,” he called, leaning against the end of the bar. People had been so insistent on buying drinks for him tonight he’d hardly seen her. He wanted to see her.
“Hey,” Lavender said, shooting him a smile as she finished off two cocktails with a flourish and handed them off to their recipients with a flip of her hair. “Are you enjoying your celebration? What can I get you?”
“I am, but people are starting to leave,” AJ said, pulling a face. But he instantly dropped the mopey expression and flashed her a smile as he continued, “And I don’t know what I want, I just wanted an excuse to come bother you. Sorry I couldn’t save my celebrating ’til the weekend. How’s it going on that side of the bar? Any chance you’ll get to escape it?”
“This side of the bar is all right,” Lavender said with a slightly naughty grin. “Distressingly sober, unfortunately. If people are going to start clearing out, I might join you in a drink.” She cocked a challenging Gryffindor eyebrow at him. “How about a Passed Out Naked on the Prefects’ Bathroom Floor?”
“That’s a drink?” He looked skeptical, but amused. “I don’t usually go in for drinks with proper names … But I’ll have one if you do. Or if you have two. You’ve got some catching up to do.” He gestured toward the barroom, which really was still rather bustling, and said “See, practically everyone’s gone, and you can start getting properly plastered, like me.”
“Well, all right, if you insist,” Lavender said, grabbing three shot glasses and lining them up on the bar in front of her. She quickly twirled four bottles, one after the other, into action, filling the glasses with first peppermint schnapps, then Jägermeister, then tequila, and then some 151 proof rum.
She knocked back one of her two shots and then grinned at Andrew as if to say ‘go on, then’.
AJ watched her mix it, and then drink it, with a combination of admiration and horror. “Bottoms up,” he said, with a Gryffindor’s nonchalance in the face of a daunting task, and downed it. His face revealed exactly how he felt about the flavor, but he managed to just say “Wow,” which was politely restrained, considering. “Strong. So, does it work? I mean, after that, we’d better end up passed out on the bathroom floor, or I’m not sure it was worth it…” He nudged her second shot a bit closer to her.
“I did end up on the Prefects’ bathroom floor after a few of these in 6th year,” Lavender laughed. She didn’t mention that the 7th year male Ravenclaw Prefect had been with her as that didn’t seem pertinent to the story. She knocked back the second one. “That’s how they got their name.”
She could be held responsible for the things she’d done after being cheated on by Ron after all. With Hermione! Lavender liked Hermione well enough now and everything but… how humiliating.
“Naked,” AJ added, with a smile and a cocked eyebrow. “I remember that being part of the name too.”
Now that he’d had his shot, he didn’t have much of a reason to continue to hang around the bar, but he dawdled, starting to pick through the small bowl of dessicated bar nuts, looking for one that looked somewhat edible. “So, assuming you don’t pass out in the prefect’s bathroom — naked — what are your plans after your shift?”
“Depends,” Lavender said, picking up a perfectly dry glass and drying it further so that she looked like she had a reason not to be heading back to work. “If I’m very tired, I might just go home and pass out. If not, I might try to find an after party. Tomorrow is my day to be slothful, after all, might as well ring it in properly.”
“Don’t you have a boyfriend who might want to see you?” AJ darted a glance at her before turning his attention back to the nuts. OK, it was the blunt question, but sometimes it had to be asked.
Lavender poured herself another drink at the question. As nice as it had been to be back with Stephen at first, he had quickly fallen back into the habits that had made her break up with him the first time round. It was like he wanted to be an old married couple already! How boring!
She slipped around the bar, drink and hand and wiggled herself onto the barstool next to AJ (which may or may not have required pressing her body against his, but she could hardly help that). “Yeah, about that, I’m not sure it’s going to last.”
AJ raised his eyebrows and grinned, pleasantly surprised at her sudden move to his side of the bar. “I’m not sure it’s going to last either, if you’re going to start sidling up to attractive, accomplished Healers in bars.” He slipped an arm around her waist to illustrate his point, and with his free hand reached to take a sip from her drink (hoping it wouldn’t be quite as vile as her previous concoction.)
Lavender giggled and grinned up at him from so very close. This was nice. A lot nicer than going home or to Stephen’s to listen to him drone on about bands she’d never heard of.
“It’s not my fault that attractive, accomplished Healers are so easy to sidle up to,” she teased. She raised a playful eyebrow as he poached her drink. “Did I say you could have that?”
Maybe all the celebrating had gone to his head, or maybe AJ just liked taking things without permission — but instead of responding, he simply tightened his grip on her waist, and leaned in to kiss her firmly on the mouth.
Having no objections to being kissed firmly on the mouth (although she probably ought to have had several, like the fact that she was at work and the fact that she did still have a boyfriend), Lavender kissed him back. And then she slipped her free hand up into his hair and deepened the kiss. Because she’d wanted AJ to kiss her for years and it would be stupid to pass it up now.
AJ had been prepared to play it off if she’d objected, but he hadn’t thought far enough ahead to know what he’d do if she — well — reacted like this. So he didn’t think, and just went with it, kissing her back just as enthusiastically.
But he was the one to break it off a few moments later. Partly to avoid having to say anything, he reached again to help himself to her drink — keeping his eyes locked on hers the whole time with an expression that seemed to dare her to try and stop him again.
Lavender let him have his sip of her drink, despite the way that the tiniest, good-natured growl rumbled in her chest at the challenge he was setting by staring into her eyes like that. She was a predator, after all.
And then she kissed him again because she wasn’t stupid.
Now it was AJ’s turn to be surprised. One kiss could be an accident. Two kisses was… something. He smiled gently as he broke it off, pulling back to put a little more space between them. “I don’t want to get you in trouble…” he said, but he still didn’t remove his hand from where it rested on her waist.
Lavender paused for a moment and then picked up the dish towel she’d been using to dry glasses.
“Oi, Llewellyn,” she called to the incredibly pretty, well-coiffed wizard behind the bar. When he looked over, she tossed the towel at him. “Remember when your crup ate your hairbrush and you had to rush him to the vet and I took your shift? And you swore to owe me forever? You’re working for two for the rest of the night, yeah?”
The fellow looked a little put out. Until he noticed AJ. After giving him a once over, he gave Lavender a thumbs up and got back to work.
AJ hadn’t entirely meant just with work, but… he wasn’t about to be the one to remind Lavender she had a boyfriend. Suddenly he was only interested in forward momentum, not obstacles. “Does that mean you want to get out of here?” he asked her, leaning in close so his lips practically brushed her ear.
Lav considered this for only a moment before nodding her head. “Yeah. Let’s.”
What the hell, right? Yeah, technically she had a boyfriend and it wasn’t very good behavior. But if there was one thing that Lavender Brown had learned three years ago it was that life was fucking short and you had to grab it by the balls while you had the chance.
And maybe AJ wasn’t making his best decisions either, but he was drunk, and he was happy, and Lavender was amazing, and tonight was his night, and he’d save the thinking for tomorrow.