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In Love and War (Antonin/Pansy; PG-13) - Part 4 and Epilogue - alley_skywalker [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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In Love and War (Antonin/Pansy; PG-13) - Part 4 and Epilogue [May. 8th, 2013|12:13 am]
alley_skywalker
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Title: In Love and War
Author: alley_skywalker
Paring: Antonin/Pansy, Draco/Pansy, others in background
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Pansy Parkinson has just come out into society and is betrothed to Draco
Malfoy. Antonin Dolohov is once again at the head of the Battle Forces
of the Lord's Organization. They are an unlikely and an impossible
couple but with the Second Wizarding War turning the world upside down,
there is no such word as "never";.
Notes: To see all parts, please follow this fic's tag.

Antonin’s owl came the day before Samhain. Pansy, casting a look over her shoulder at Draco who was engrossed in reading a letter from home, unfolded it and read:

Miss Parkinson.

Tomorrow is Samhain. I know Hogwarts has a special feast prepared for its students and I don’t know if you would be able to get away but if you would like, the Organization is holding a ball of its own. I am not sure if your parents or brother have told you, but I, personally, would be very pleased to see you there.

Antonin Dolohov

Pansy felt a smile creep onto her face. Richard had mentioned the Samhain ball and Pansy had been torn as to whether she wanted to try and go or not. It was not hard to get out of the castle these days to go home, not for the Slytherins. There was hardly even a need to sneak out. Slughorn was easy to convince and, if it came to it, Snape was on their side, and typically did not prevent anyone he knew to be involved with Headquarters from leaving.

“What are you smiling about?” Draco asked, folding up his letter. He looked tired and worried but not nearly as neurotic as he had during their sixth year.

“Nothing. Just a note from home. I’m going to the Samhain ball. Will you go?”

He shook his head. “No, it’s best I stay here.” There was a note of bitterness in Draco’s voice and Pansy felt guilty. The Malfoys were still in disfavor. She did not know why their Lord found Lucius’ misstep so hard to forgive but she did not dare ask. Not even Antonin.

*~*

Pansy wore a black gown, long-sleeved, open-backed, tight at the waist but spreading into a flowing skirt. Her hair was curled and her make up done with some help from Circe who was also going to the ball. The Samhain ball was traditionally a masquerade and Pansy wore a slim black mask with holes just the perfect size to allow her large eyes to pear out at the rest of the world but still slim enough to resemble cat eyes. A pair of small, velvet cat ears perched on top of her head, half-hidden by her curls. Circe was a fox and glowed like fire in her bright orange gown and mask. Pansy wondered what Antonin’s costume would be. She could imagine him as a wolf like his Patronus, in silver-grey robes, sweeping across the festival grounds. Or perhaps a raven, in deep black, blending with the night sky. She still remembered how he had looked that night before the Ministry op. and her heart gave a jolt every time, something tightening in her chest and between her legs.

"You don't think my dress clashes too much with my hair do you?" Circe asked, twirling in front of the mirror. Circe was blonde with the slightest tinge of red when the light was right.

“You look fine," Pansy told her, watching as the other girl tried to determine whether the mass of curls coming out of her fancy bun was orderly enough.

Circe smoothed her dress and turned around to face Pansy. “Alright, fine, I’m ready to go. Do you have the portkey?”

Pansy nodded and picked up the portkey that had come with Antonin’s letter. “Come, we need to walk to the gates. Are the Carrow girls coming?”

Circe shrugged as they walked down to the common room. “I don’t know, I think Flora was talking about it, but they’re not coming with us.”

Eyes followed them as they walked through the common room. Pansy met Draco’s eyes and he traced her curves hungrily. She smiled at him, but her mind was elsewhere. They made it through the halls unchallenged and then to the gate. Circe kept picking up the skirts of her dress, afraid they would get stained by the wet grass. Outside of the gates, Pansy took Circe’s arm and opened the portkey.

They landed in a large field, strewn with colorful autumn leaves and peppered by bonfires around which the women danced with their chosen men. Enchanted pumpkins and candles floated through the air, circling the dancers overhead. On the edges of the festivities, a few older witches and wizards were selling allspice berries, catnip, mountain ash berries, mugwort, mullein, rosemary, and other herbs. The Samhain balls were always more like festivals. Lately, they had begun to go out of style, especially in non-Pureblood families, but the Organization was starved for a party and something traditional was the best way to keep up fighting spirits and remind people what they were fighting for.  Circe giggled and twirled around. “Why didn’t Daphne wish to come? This is wonderful!” She grabbed Pansy’s wrist and dragged her toward the fires.

The glowing fires lip up the masked faces of the revelers in dancing shadows and bursts of orange. Pansy linked hands with Circe and a man she did not know well enough to recognize with the mask. They danced around the bonfire, singing an old Gaelic song. Pansy smiled sensing how naturally the footwork came to her. The night was clear and oddly warm for October. Above them, the pumpkins glowed and the stars twinkled merrily.  Pansy felt free, almost carefree, light like a feather floating along on the warm breeze from the fire. She kicked up multicolored leaves from the ground as she clipped her heals together and skipped from one side to the other. She laughed and threw her head back, looking up at the sky as the circle of witches and wizards holding hands went around and around the fire. Pansy looked over at Circe for a moment and the two girls burst out laughing like it seemed neither of them had laughed since the war started in earnest.

At some point Pansy felt eyes on the back of her neck and turned to look at who was watching her. For a moment she saw only darkness and her breath caught for a moment in a paranoid fear of something unknown. But then she noticed Antonin watching her and the others as they danced. She beamed happily at him, detaching herself from the dancers. Circe followed her, still laughing. “Pansy, what are you looking at?”

Pansy nodded toward Antonin. “Mr. Dolohov.”

“Oh!” Circe blushed and curtsied. Pansy watched the pretty pink spread over Circe’s cheeks and the way her blonde hair seemed to glow in the firelight. Pansy felt a unpleasant prick of jealousy stab somewhere under her ribs. Circe was very pretty, prettier than Pansy, or so Pansy thought.

Antonin stepped toward them out of the shadows. He was in black robes with the collars and cuffs in dark, velvet ruby colors and by the mask she figured he meant to represent a raven. So she had been at least partially correct in her assumptive fantasies of what sort of costume would suit Antonin best.

“Miss Parkinson, Miss Runcorn, good evening. I am glad you could make it.” Antonin seemed to smirk at them slightly and Pansy felt a pleasant warm feeling spreading over her stomach and a thousand butterflies seemed to take flight within her at the sound of his voice. Circe was chirping something polite beside her but Pansy wanted to believe that Antonin was looking mainly at her and not at the pretty, curvy blonde beside her.

“I guessed, Mr. Dolohov, that you could be either a raven or a wolf. Therefore I believe I was half-right,” she said once Circe had finally stopped prattling.

“And you are…a panther?” There was trace of teasing in Antonin’s tone.

Pansy flushed and felt a small sting of anger at either herself for blushing or him for teasing her, she could not tell. “A cat,” she said, trying to sound unaffected. “But a panther if you like.”

“Dance with me?” Antonin put out his hand and Pansy took it. For a moment she had a flashback of the first time they danced at Malfoy Manor. But that time had been awkward and she had felt completely exposed for everyone to see and discuss. Now, with him holding her hand, she felt somehow at peace with herself and her life. Circe was watching them and making meaningful eyes at Pansy as she and Antonin joined the dancing but Pansy hardly noticed.

They danced with the others in a dizzying circle singing in voices which were certainly too loud to be proper. At one point, Antonin lifted her up by the waist and spun her around. Pansy clung to his shoulders when she first felt herself lift up into the air but then let go and tossed her head. Strands of hair fell into her eyes and she beamed down at him. Antonin was looking at her with burning eyes which would normally make her embarrassed or cautious but Pansy felt that it was alright for Antonin to look at her in such a way. She enjoyed it, she craved it. At some point it must have come to her that this was the way Draco used to look at her but she never made the connection. All Pansy knew was that those eyes and those strong arms around her made everything in her body tingle and melt. She skipped higher, laughed in earnest and sang with her heart out like she had not done for the longest time.

“May the circle be open, but unbroken
May the peace of the Goddess be ever in your heart
Merry meet, and merry part
And merry meet again!


“Always meet again,” Antonin said softly, setting her down from the last lift of the song. His face was inches away from hers and Pansy could feel his hot breath against her cheeks and lips. The firelight danced over Antonin’s face, outlining the angles of his cheekbones and bringing out the dark reds on his mask.

“Thank you for the dance,” Pansy breathed out. For a moment she found herself paralyzed, stuck to the spot. Then, she bolted, picking up her skirts and running from the fire with her heart racing. She could not believe what was happening to her, the things Antonin was making her feel were inappropriate, were inconceivable, were…undeniably there. She pulled out several coins and paid for a cider at one of the booths, taking in long breaths to steady herself. “This is insane. I am insane,” Pansy whispered to herself feeling like she could cry from shame and happiness and confusion all at once.

*

Pansy looked so much like Bella but it was almost painful. It wasn’t so much a physical resemblance as a character resemblance. It was the passion in Pansy’s dark eyes and her carefree, wild joy manifesting here on Samhain night. It was the way strength and femininity were interwoven within her. Sometimes, Antonin wondered if life had decided to be kind to him, to give him a second chance. Not at love, he would not dare, but at making right his previous wrongs. He had not managed to protect Bella, he had not been able to become her hero. Perhaps Pansy was sent his way so he could protect her. Not stifle her – that would be a crime – but protect her and be something to her. Something. Anything she chose.

But there was also something else in her, an innocence that there never was in Bella. She was idealistic enough but it was a more innocent idealism, something childish and pure and Antonin was sometimes afraid that by not distancing himself from her he would spoil that perfection, mar it somehow. Pansy was half-woman, half-child and she was both Bella and something completely different to him. What frightened him most was that, if he had any less self-control, he would have kissed her then and there after their dance. Yet, who had he seen then? Was it the memory of Bella at their last happy Samhain together so many years ago when she had also come dressed as a black cat or was it Pansy, was it simply her infectious desire for life and his yearning for something as refreshing as her in his life?

“I think I see someone who is unduly bored.” Antonin flinched at the sudden purring at his shoulder. He turned as a long-nailed hand landed on his shoulder.

“I was just thinking.”

Bellatrix regarded him with wide eyes which were far too alive, almost feverish. She wore an emerald gown and her mask was made of snake skin. She smiled a razor-sharp smile at him. “My husband is a bore as usual. Dance with me?” Her hand closed around his wrist tightly. Antonin was certain she was trying to torture him with those batting lashes and the way she stuck her chest out to show that she was still very much a woman. A woman he had once loved. Perhaps he loved her still. Or just the memory of her. Antonin reached out and touched her cheek, then brushed a strand or curls out of her face. Where did you go, Bella? Where are you? Are you still in there somewhere or have we lost you for good? “Come.” He too her hand in one of his, put his arm around her waist and guided her in a dance step to join the dancing.

*

Pansy knew she had no reason to hate Bellatrix Lestrange, or any other woman in her place, for that matter. But she suddenly could not breath as she watched Antonin touching her, leading her in a dance. She felt like he had forgotten her the moment that the other woman had made her appearance in his personal space.

Pansy almost did not notice when Richard appeared at her shoulder. “That girl, your friend, Circe Runcorn, she is incredible! Is she betrothed, Pans? Does she have someone? Pansy?” He followed her gaze and stopped on Antonin and Bellatrix. “Ah, those two. An old love story.”

Pansy’s head whipped around. “They are in love? How do you know?”

“Were in love. Mulciber told me. It was a long time ago, during the First War. They were almost engaged but then everything fell apart and she married Lestrange.”

“Why?” Pansy could not believe that anyone would chose another over Antonin. What more could have Bellatrix wanted?

Richard seemed to hesitate. “Theodore had been drinking the night he told me, I don’t think…”

“I won’t tell anyone,” Pansy promised distractedly as her eyes continued to follow Antonin and his lady partner.

“The Blacks had three daughters and the middle one, Andromeda, was betrothed to Lestrange. But she eloped with a Mudblood before they could make the engagement formal. Narcissa was already engaged to Lucius. So that left Bellatrix to save the family honor by taking the place of her sister.”

“Why didn’t Antonin fight for her?”

“His sister had been killed by a Mudblood Auror. He had been interrogating her or something like that. Dolohov walked in on them and killed the Auror and was sentenced to Azkaban. He was not around when Bellatrix was promised. He only got out because the Lord helped him.”

Pansy felt her entire body tense up. Her mouth drew in a line and she hugged herself, trying to contain the rage that bubbled inside of her and the determination which yearned to spill over into action. “I hate Mudbloods. They always ruin everything.”

*~*

“Have you read all the materials I gave you last time?” Antonin asked, motioning for Pansy to keep her robes on. He had a suspicion that they may not get many more opportunities for these training sessions. Winter was slowly melting into spring and the politics had been mostly settled. Now, they were returning back to their primary concern – the gorilla war being waged against them. This war was still far from over.

“I read them, yes.” Pansy re-fastened the clasp of her robes and used her wand to make her hair stay out of her face. She had found the spell to be useful during her training; otherwise, her hair kept falling into her eyes.

“Good. Then tell me what the difference is between a Protego Horribilis and a Salvio Hexia.”

“The latter is better used to shield off an area, keep it protected from intruding forces. As it needs a locking perimeter the spell is not effective in dueling. The prior, however, acts as a reinforced shield, such as a Protego.”

“Why use Protego at all then?”

Protego Horribilis takes up more energy and the incantation is longer. Often it is better to layer simple shields since they will take longer to degage while taking as much casting time and energy.” Pansy took a deep breath and looked up.

Antonin smiled approvingly, almost fondly, at her. “Good. We will duel today; I think you’re ready. Keep your robes on – you will often find yourself fighting in them so it’s better to get used to the extra weight. Since we’re on robes: why can they be an advantage?”

Pansy couldn’t help but smirk. She was sure he’d meant to catch her unaware with that one. “Your opponent cannot see your wrist or see it as clearly. Therefore, he has a hard time determining which spell you are casting by your figure.”

Antonin almost laughed. She caught on faster than half of the idiot boys they’ve recruited. “Excellent. Now, you may go full out – throw in everything in your arsenal. I will use a “placebo” to represent an Avada. You do the same.”

Pansy nodded. She could feel a chill of excitement running down her back. “Is it wise…I mean, I don’t want…” She was faltering, feeling awkward at the thought that she may cause Antonin some sort of harm. After all, he was far too valuable to the Organization, everything else aside.

“Miss Parkinson,” there was something teasing and infuriatingly patronizing in his tone. “Do you truly think I won’t be able to deflect a few low-grade hexes?”

Pansy frowned, feeling like she should be insulted. Instead, she simply shook her head and took a ready stance.

They began to circle each other, slowly. Pansy kept her eyes on Antonin, on his wand and on his shoulders but she was still no prepared for when he suddenly disapparated. She felt him at her left and turned just in time to block his Confringo. He followed up with a Diffindo and Pansy was forced to apparate out of the way. She came at his back with a Stupefy but he had turned before she even was half way through her figure and easily deflected her spell away, answering with a well placed Expulso.

They apparated around each other several times, Pansy casting an Impedimenta every time her opponent seemed to be coming too close. Remembering to think outside the norm, she cast a Confundo once she was on Antonin’s left. He, not expecting that, did not put up a proper shield and some of the spell still came through. She saw the momentary fogginess in his eyes. She cast an Incarcerous to follow up.

Antonin managed to dodge the spell in time and threw a Reducto at her in retaliation. “Good,” he said between apparitions as they began to move around and play avoidance again. “But stop holding back.”

Pansy slashed her wand through the air and cast a Dementia. Antonin answered her with a Sectumsempra which she had to actually dodge. He finally got her on endurance without even resorting to any high level curses, merely waiting until she was tired out and could no longer turn to meet him when he apparated behind her or to her blind spot quickly enough. A Stupefy hit her hard in the chest and she went flying back. Her vision went black for a moment and then swam in gray shades for a over a minute.

When the dizziness cleared, Pansy found herself lying on the floor with Antonin kneeling beside her and supporting her upper body into a half-sitting position. “Alright?” he asked, a note of concern in his voice. Pansy took a deep breath, coughed and found herself smiling up at him.

“I’m alright. That was amazing.”

He helped her up but still kept his hand on her arm and she did not want to step away from him. He looked at her admiringly and Pansy felt indecently happy and proud of herself.  “You were great. Only two things: don’t look to where you’re going to apparate – it’s an easy give away, just think about it. Second, don’t hold back. They don’t deserve it.”

“Alright.” She nodded and smiled up into his warm grey eyes. Antonin smiled back.

*~*

Returning to the common room at school after training was like being pushed head-first into cold water. Somehow, at school things felt colder and more real than in the training room with Antonin. Pansy couldn’t help herself, she couldn’t help thinking about Antonin’s eyes and his broad shoulder and strong arms. She could not stop hearing his low, deep voice inside her head as he explained various combative curses to her. Everything inside her tingled and burned and she wanted release from the tension that was building in the bottom of her stomach.

The moment she slipped into the common room she ran across Draco’s enquiring gaze. His eyes were different from Antonin’s, their grey was somehow colder and less expressive. She did not care, however. Draco rose to greet her and she grabbed his hand and pulled him toward the dormitories.

She kissed him on the stairs, her patience breaking. Pansy clung to him, her fingernails biting into his shoulders even through the cloth of his shirt. Draco groaned into her mouth before moving away and asking, “What are you doing?”

Pansy pulled him in and whispered in a rush against his ear, “I want you.” She wasn’t even sure if it was him she wanted but she needed the release, she needed the frustration to go, to come out. She wanted to burst that damned bubble at the bottom of her abdomen.

A wicked smile spread over Draco’s face and he pulled her into the boys’ empty dormitory and spelled the door shut. He pushed Pansy onto the bed and straddled her hips. “You don’t want to wait until the wedding?”

“Fuck the wedding,” Pansy hissed. “Divestio.” Pansy could no longer hold herself back. She allowed her nails to dig into Draco’s skin, bit at his lip, moaned out as he took her virginity from her. It hurt more than it was nice but she did not care. He pushed into her again and again and she allowed him to do all the damage he cared to do.

Once they were done and she was curled up beside a dozing Draco, Pansy bit into her lip as tears came unbidden to her eyes. She hadn’t been thinking of Draco, of the wedding, or anything. She had simply been releasing everything that had been building up in her, continuing the adrenaline rush of the training session and the rush that Antonin’s smile always gave her.

What do I want? I don’t know what I’m doing. What am I doing?

*~*

Headquarters was silent at the hour of midnight and Pansy’s steps echoed unsettlingly in the empty hall. She felt vulnerable as she approached the strategy room, knowing she would come face to face with Antonin in just a few moments. He was one of the few who ever bothered to stay this late. She no longer blushed so easily around him – not after all that training together – but the overwhelming nervousness was still there sometimes. She had no real reason to even be at Headquarters aside for perhaps looking for Richard yet everyone had grown so accustomed to her being there from time to time that her presents rarely caused anyone to do a second take anymore.

Pansy stopped at the entrance of the strategy room, clutching the cup of tea she held in her hand a little tighter. Antonin didn’t seem to notice her, intent on marking something on the map spread out in front of him. Pansy had noticed long ago that he always seemed to be in his element when he was planning some raid or at the head of a battle. She had been told by Draco, Richard and anyone else to bothered, that Antonin had spent half his life either at war or in Azkaban. Pansy stood watching him, allowing her eyes to shamelessly roam over her commanding officer. In his element the older man was entrancing – the sly glint in his eyes, the firm set of his shoulders, the play of shadow and light on his face—

"Is there something you wanted, Miss Parkinson? I didn’t expect you to be here."

Pansy nearly jumped, the tea cup tittering in her hand. Antonin looked intently at her and in the lone, orange light of the fire his eyes burned her face making her flush. "It's late…I thought…" she held out the cup in her hand sheepishly, "tea."

Antonin waved his wand carelessly, calling the cup to him. "Thank you, Miss Parkinson."

"Pansy," she blurted suddenly for no reason, "My name's Pansy."

Antonin looked up, carefully setting down the quill he was writing with. "Yes, I know."

"So why don't you call me by it?"

Antonin eyed her for a moment, considering something. "I wasn't aware I had a right to."

"You're mocking me!"

He laughed making Pansy shiver, "I'm not mocking you. Would you like me to call you Pansy?"

"Yes." It was barely a whisper and for some reason she felt embarrassed and ashamed of herself.

Antonin held out his hand to her and she was pulled toward him not by magic but by some force that seemed to come from her own chest. She reached him with unsteady, halting steps and peered into his face with challenging eyes and a pounding heart. Pansy had to admit that she was afraid. Afraid that he would laugh at her, at her foolishness, her girlishness. She did not understand why she was always like this around him. She was never this way around Draco. Around her fiancé and all the other boys and men she knew Pansy was calm and collected, able to hold her own even when her heart ached and she wanted to cry. But with Antonin she felt completely inadequate. "Look at this, Pansy." His hand was on her shoulder and he had no difficulty in calling her by name as he attracted her attention to the map spread out on the table. Pansy recognized a map of Hogwarts. Somehow she understood what it meant.

"Why Hogwarts?" It was almost a whisper and Pansy had to fight with herself to not tremble. Antonin was her commanding officer. Her idol. Her inspiration in all the darkness that had suddenly fallen over her life with the onset of the war. She was not supposed to feel so vulnerable around him. Vulnerable and protected at the same time.

Antonin waved his wand and the map re-shaped into a three-dimensional model and began to slowly spin around it’s axis a couple of inches off the table. "Our Lord believes it would be best to finish things off with Potter sooner rather than later." He sighed and let go of her shoulder. Then added in an almost imperceptible murmur, "And that is why we're going to attack one of the best protected fortresses in the wizarding world…" For the first time, Pansy noticed how exhausted he was. Something was wrong about the picture he was seeing and that something was slowly eating away at him and now it was eating away at her as well.

“But Potter is not at Hogwarts,” she murmured, transfixed by the spinning model.

“No, yet our Lord believes he soon will be.”

"It's going to be a bloodbath isn't it?" she spoke the words as though in a trance.

Antonin turned partly away from her, watching the dancing flames in the fireplace. "Would you do me a favor, Miss Pansy?"

"What?"

"Keep this." He slipped something cool into her hand and closed her fingers over it.

Pansy drew her hand back and opened it slowly. She tore her eyes away from spinning castle and looked down. In her hand was a delicate gold locket. Engraved on the lid was an old-fashioned lock. Inside was a matching engraving of a key. She brought her wand in close proximity to the locket and the key engraving sparkled slightly, sensing the wand. “A portkey?” She looked up into Antonin’s face in askance, clicking the locket closed.

He nodded.

“To where?”

Antonin took her hand again and closed her fingers over the locket. He lifted her hand to his lips for a feather-light kiss without giving her an answer. "Goodnight, Miss Parkinson. Pansy."

*~*

April had just turned into May. The night was warm and smelled of flowers and summer. Pansy used to love these nights when she was younger. She, Draco and some of the others would sneak out and go flying and swimming in the lake. But that night, Pansy could not force herself to feel calm or to even stay still. There was something gnawing at her and she could not force the feeling away. She finally sneaked away from the rest of her housemates and portkeyed to Headquarters. The halls of Headquarters were quiet and her footsteps echoed in the silence as she walked. She was reminded vaguely of the night Antonin had given her his portkey and she felt a warm longing for him deep inside her chest. He was such a sure balance in her life, so certain and determined, so sure of himself and the Cause and her. Pansy felt like if she could just see him or hear his voice she could settle and get rid of the useless anxiety eating away at her.

She did this sometimes – went to Headquarters when she became restless. There was a strange sense of security there; safer than at school, where she did not know who was her friend and who her enemy. At school there was Longbottom and his idiot resistance. Longbottom was ought to be ashamed. So much for being a Pureblood.

Voices from the strategy room made her stop. She leaned against the wall in the dark and took in a death breath. This deep into Headquarters there was no need for silencing spells usually. Here everyone was on the same side. She leaned her head back and closed her eyes, listening to the men’s voices as they discussed plans. She felt better here, where she could pick out Antonin’s rich, deep tones as he talked tactics, where she knew most people knew her parents and respected them, respected her. Everything here spoke of war, but at least here Pansy could unfurl, could express her fiery desires and her passions.

“Antonin says we are not ready for this. I hope the brat won’t force our hand soon,” someone was saying glumly.

Another voice, which sounded like Lestrange, responded in a somewhat pretentious tone. “Dolohov is always worried. They fight well on the ground but we have superior broom formation.”

“Not anymore. We lost our best flyers in the First War.”

“If you ask Dolohov, we lost everyone in that war.”

“We lost a lot. Besides, I feel no desire to attack a school full of children.”

“They’ll evacuate the children.” Pansy recognized Mulciber’s soft tones in a heartbeat. “Let’s not forget what we’re fight for here, gentlemen. How many of you lost loved ones in the First War? …Exactly. Almost everyone lost someone. We owe it to them.”

“And some of us have families now!”

“What would know, Roddy? You can’t even get your wife to bear you an heir,” Rookwood sounded mocking. “But then our dear Bella has given herself to our Lord—“ There was the sound of scuffle and voices telling the two men to stop fighting.

“Everyone has a family,” the man whose voice Pansy could not identify was saying. “But do you think that our families would want to live in a world under the brat Potter? Under the Mudbloods and blood traitors? Or what’s worse – Muggles! Would you subject your daughters to that?”

There was uncomfortable murmuring. Pansy, realizing she had not yet heard Antonin’s voice, detached herself from the wall and leaned in closer to the door. She had hoped that he would be here especially if there was a meeting.

“What I don’t understand,” Rookwood said after some time, “is why we must storm Hogwarts if Potter is there? Why not wait until he leaves, search him out or just leave the damn kid be. We’ve got the bloody Ministry. Yes, there is opposition but it won’t go away just because Potter dies. May go away faster but… Is it worth it?”

“Of course it’s not worth it – our Lord has some personal agenda. This is obvious.”

“The Lord has been…unstable. Unwell. Can you not see he is getting weaker? Mulciber, you know, tell them! And the more unwell he is, the more outrageous his desires become.”

“Shut up, you cannot just say those things!”

“We can’t take Hogwarts. Antonin is right – it’s madness—“

A cool tip of wood landed on the back of Pansy’s neck. She froze, realizing she had been caught eavesdropping in the dark. The wand at her neck pressed into her skin and she wondered if she was going to get a chance to explain.

“Hands in the air, slowly,” Antonin’s voice said behind her and Pansy gave an inward sigh of relief but did what he told her to.

“Who are you?”

“P-Pansy Parkinson.”

“Miss Pansy?” There was genuine surprise in his voice for a moment before it went cool again. “What is the last curse I taught you?”

Desino Corcordis. May I turn around?” She felt the wand leave her neck and then Antonin’s hand was on her arm and he turned her around to face him. In the dark, Pansy could not quite make out the expression on his face.

 “Miss Pansy, for Merlin’s sake, what are you doing here? In the dark?” He sounded both relieved and frustrated.

Pansy squinted up and tried to make out his features. She felt the warmth radiating off of him and her heart leapt up into her throat. “I felt uneasy. I just…I thought you would be here. I just wanted to…”

“You frightened me for a moment. A dark shadow lingering in the hallway. Are you alright?”

“I am, I think. Anto—Mr. Dolohov, what is going on? Is something wrong with the Lord?”

There was a long pause and she reached out to touch his arm. Antonin put one hand over hers and said in as even a voice as he could. “The Lord will be alright. The sooner we win this war, the better. For all of us.”

“I’m scared sometimes,” she admitted, looking down at the floor in shame. “Sometimes, I wish that…I enjoy the training and…but what if…”

She felt Antonin’s hand against her cheek and looked up. His face was hovering inches away from hers and it would be so easy to simply, here in the dark, simply—

A loud crash from inside the strategy room made them both jump. Suddenly, all the me were talking at once and Pansy only made out “Potter” and “Hogsmeade” and a few other words that didn’t make up any proper sentences. But, obviously, Antonin heard something else because his entire body language changed. He straightened and his grip on her hand tightened. He backed Pansy against the wall and put both hands on her shoulders.

“Miss Pansy, you need to go.”

“What’s happening?” She could feel the flush on her face and her heart beat erratically, thumping against her chest.

“We’ve been planning for a possible siege of Hogwarts. We may need to put that plan into motion tonight.”

“Good. I want to go with you!”

“No, you need to go back to the school and tell your housemates to be ready to leave and the men to be ready to fight if they wish to join their families. Either way, you must go back and evacuate to safety when the time comes. Do you have my locket? …Pansy do you have my portkey locket?” He gave her a small shake to snap her out of her sudden stupor.

“Yes, yes, I have it on me.” Literally. She’d begun to wear it around her neck under her clothes.

“Good. Keep it on you. It goes to a secret safehouse. There are blood wards but the portkey will get you through. Use it when the time comes. Will you do this for me?”

She looked at him for a long time, sensed his desperation and agreed without wanting to do so at all. “I will.”

“Go on. Go.” Antonin stood there looking at her, waiting for her to go, so Pansy had no choice but to apparate back to school, one hand clutching the golden chain of Antonin’s portkey for comfort.

*~*

The Great Hall was packed and silent. Pansy stood with the rest of her housemates as the Dark Lord’s ultimatum rang out in clear, sinister tones. Her heart was racing and her mind was jumbled. This was it, they were going to fight the ultimate battle. She could see Order members beginning to gather and form battle groups. The restless Gryffindors could not wait to throw themselves into battle. The words she had heard earlier that night filled her ears in the ringing silence left by the ultimatum. “We can’t take Hogwarts. Antonin is right – it’s madness.” What if her parents fought? What if Richard fought? They could die; there was a good chance of that. Antonin would fight. What if he…?

“But he’s there! Potter’s there! Someone grab him!” It did not sound like her voice. Pansy could not remember the last time she had heard so much reckless despair in her own voice but she was finding it hard to breathe. In that moment, she did not care how many wands were pointed at her. They wouldn’t do anything to her here and she would take them down one by one once the fighting started.

*~*

“Have they evacuated?” Antonin asked, turning to Mulciber who was setting up the medical tent and was generally in charge of their rear positions.

“Yes, it looks like it. All the Slytherins are here. A lot of them have gone home or wherever their parents sent them. Some have stayed at the back because their families are here.”

“Are we getting any fighters?”

“I’m told Malfoy is trying to do something from inside, he has Crabbe and Goyle with him.”

“Bloody hell,” Antonin muttered. What was Draco going to do? He’d be more use out here.

“Adam’s boy – Theo, right? – is with him. Don’t know if he’s fighting. We’ve got a couple of the girls running potions. We have some sixth years. Runcorn’s boy is here. Gibbons, Jugson…there; they’re over there.” Mucliber nodded toward a group of boys coming toward them through the tress. They looked a little nervous here in the Forbidden Forest, almost as if they were not about to go into battle and could worry about childish things like scary, ugly trees in a dark forest. They were all in school robes and house scarves.

“You lot!” Antonin called to them. “Change your clothes quickly You’ll be in the rear guard but we’ll need everyone so don’t lose your shit and remember what we’ve been teaching you at training.” He turned back to Mulciber. “Carrows are here, Snape is with the Lord. That’s all, I think—No, wait. The girls?”

“Some have gone home, a couple are at the ‘ward, but most are in Hogsmeade at Base Two.”

“Pansy?” Mulciber suddenly looked uncertain. “Pansy?” Antonin demanded more urgently. “Theodore, bloody hell, just tell me.”

“I was told that she went looking for you.”

Antonin suppressed a groan. “Where? Shrieking Shack?”

“There or Base Prime. She knows you well enough to know you’re more likely to be at Command Post than wherever our Lord is holding court.”

Antonin let out a breath he hadn’t been aware he was holding. He could imagine Pansy looking for him, could imagine the reckless thoughts that would get into her head. Augustus appeared at his shoulder.

“Tony, the Lord has given us leave to start.”

Antonin looked over at Rookwood, then back at Mulciber. He needed to see her. One more time. His mother always said that going back was a bad omen but he cared very little for omens. This whole thing was a bad omen, an unwise strategy. If anything, he wanted to see Pansy again. “August, I need to handle something. Make sure everyone is at starting position. We will start shortly – I want to wait until those slow-poke recruits finally change their robes.” Antonin threw a pleading look over his shoulder at Mulciber. “Teddy, for the love of Merlin. If Pansy comes here, take her to the medward. Busy her, but don’t let her go out there.” Not waiting for an answer, Antonin apparated.

*~*

“Pansy!” Antonin’s voice echoed between the rocks of the bombed-flat Leprechaun Tavern. They had used it as Base Prime or Watch One before moving out into the Forbidden Forest. Everyone agreed that keeping the field Headquarters in Hogsmeade once the battle had started and the students evacuated would not be wise. If Pansy was still here, if she had come there, he needed to find her. He needed to see her again one last time.

Some of rocks detached themselves from what remained of the dilapidated building and crashed down, forcing Antonin to climb over them or blast his way through. “Pansy!” A faint shout of a female voice reached his ears and Antonin froze. He changed direction and ducked through an archway created by some large planks which had fallen on the remains of two stone pillars.

“Antonin!” Pansy’s voice came to him as though through water. She sounded desperate and breathless. “Is anyone still here?”

Antonin rounded a corner and stopped in what used to be a doorway. The ceiling of the room had caved and by the light of the moon he could see Pansy just within reach of him. They’d nearly run into each other. The Lumos on Antonin’s wand went out and Pansy followed his lead. She looked up at him with large, dark eyes. Her robes were off and she wore only her school blouse, the top two buttons undone, and skirt. Her House tie was loose, slithering like a small snake over her open collar and breasts. Pansy’s hair looked almost black in the gloom and the short, soft strands whipped behind her in the cool night breeze.

“Thank Merlin I found you. I thought I would never get to see you again,” she breathed, her lips parting slightly.

Reality, memory and fantasy broke over Antonin in a single hot wave. He grabbed her around the waist and pulled her into him, capturing her full lips with his and kissing her like he had never kissed a girl since Bella married Rodolphus. Pansy’s arms wound around his neck and her body was flush against his. Antonin could feel her breasts through her blouse and his cloak. One of her hands went into his hair and stayed there while the other remained wrapped around his neck.

Antonin pulled back and pressed his forehead to hers. Her skin was hot and flushed and he felt himself aroused like he had never before allowed himself to be when he was around her. “Stupid girl, I told you to not come looking for me, to not come out looking for a fight. Why didn’t you stay with the other girls?”

“I had to see you. And I can’t…I can’t just stand by while everyone else fights. Let me come with you.” She looked into his eyes with an expression of desperation mixed with resolve, a paradoxical, beautiful thing.

“No. Pansy, please. I want to know that if…if we prevail...that you will be here waiting for me. What good is it to fight if there’s nothing left when the fighting is done?”

“Come back to me then.” Her eyes burned with a feverish glow and the world seemed to condense into that single moment. “I lo—“

He cut her off with a kiss and she moaned slightly, her hips buckling forward, sending shivers through his body. “Don’t say anything,” he pleaded when they pulled back for air.

“Why not?” Her voice was barely a whisper but he heard it plainly, felt it against his lips. “It’s true.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I do.”

Antonin pulled back from her, feeling a gnawing despair deep within him. It was not fair, any of it. All his life, it seemed, just when he found something it was ripped away. “I have to go. I can’t delay the attack; it’s orders.”

Pansy let him go, reluctantly. Her hand slid over his shoulder and down his arm. Her caught her hand in his and held it for a while, stepping away until both their arms were stretched out. He wanted to say “goodbye” but the word was too heavy and drowned within him before he could force it out. She held his eyes even as he let go but did not say a word.

He remembered her as she was then, glowing in the moonlight: her open blouse, her short hair blowing back behind her, her dark, liquid eyes, the expression of longing on her face. Once the image was firmly engraved within every corner of his mind, Antonin tightened the grip on his wand and apparated.

*~*

Even if Pansy had explicitly promised that she would stay away from the fighting, she didn’t think she could have kept it. She found camp and then the real guard where some of her housemates were. The battle had already started and she could see from their position the burning of destructive curses as they hit the protective barriers of Hogwarts. She could tell there was no assault taking place from the side of the main gates – the territory was too open and visible with little cover – or the lakeside – the cliff which isolated most of the lake from the grounds would make an assault from that side suicidal. They were hard to make out against the dark sky but in the spastic flashes of the exploding curses, Pansy could make out formations of flyers swirling like vultures above the castle and waiting for the shields to be broken. Pansy held her wand in a tight grip, wondering where among this expansive, spread out front Antonin might be.

:”Miss Parkinson!” Pansy turned around to see Mulciber coming toward her at a jog. “I must borrow you.”

Pansy looked at him uncertainly. “I’d rather stay here,” she said uncertainly, not wanting to defy the chain of command but not wanting to leave either.

“Please. We need more hands at the medward. We have an incredibly small medical staff and we expect numerous casualties – everything from a few scratches to very serious things. You’ve worked the medward before, you know how things run. You weren’t at formation training and will only be in the way here.”

Pansy pouted, trying to figure out if he was just trying to get her to not fight because she wasn’t a boy. But Mulciber seemed far too haggard and preoccupied at the moment to bother with such silly things. “I’m not that good with potions.”

“It’s fine; you don’t have to brew.”

Pansy sighed but nodded and took Mucliber’s arm so he could apparate her to the medward.

*

Mulciber had been right about one thing – there were plenty of casualties. Some were patched up within minutes and sent on their way, others would have to stay out of the fighting, and yet others… They were running out of Dittany.

Mulciber, experienced and calm, managed to keep havoc at bay, mainly by not allowing anyone other than casualties and the medical staff into the medical tents. “If we have relatives here it will be all hell,” he told her. There was still little time to think. Anesthetics, tranquilizers, blood replenishers, potions for burns, potions for tissue repairs, Skelegrow, bone mending potions, various wound cleaning and disinfecting potions, soothers, stimulants, specific potions to reverse effects of specific spells. After awhile, all the labels began to swim in front of Pansy’s eyes. She saw some people she knew come through the medward and every time her heart jumped. A couple of times she almost knocked something over.

“Albert! Albert, answer me, what were you hit with?” Pansy turned at the sound of a familiar name. Mulciber was hovering over Circe’s father. She heard her friend’s voice coming shrilly from the entrance to the tent, demanding to be let in and someone telling her she could not go.

“Miss Parkinson, how much Dittany do we have left?” Mulciber was running a diagnostic over an unconscious Runcorn.

“T-ten bottles,” Pansy stammered. She could not look directly at Mulciber and his patient; there was too much blood.

“Not enough. This was a curse, I don’t know if Dittany will work. We’ll have to try other methods. Everyone! Save the Dittany only for serious non-curse wounds. This is level Alpha conservation! Someone get Albert’s daughter out of here.”

From the corner of her eye, she saw Richard wrap Circe up in his arms and haul her outside the tent as she began to cry.

*

Hours dragged on until the Dark Lord offered an hour’s break and a chance for Harry Potter to give himself up. Casualties still trickled in but at the slower rate. Most of those brought back now were dead. These casualties were handled separately, outside the tents, neatly laid out in rows and covered with thin sheets. Pansy wondered through the rows and through the medical tents, praying she wouldn’t see anyone close to her. She longed to know if Antonin was still alright but she convinced herself that if he wasn’t among the dead or the wounded, he must be alright. She also figured that the fall of a top officer would be big enough news to reach their outpost.

“Pansy.” Richard’s hand landed on her shoulder. “We can’t verify it yet but…one of your classmates—“

“Who?” Her hands tightened painfully in the folds of her robes.

“Crabbe. Vincent, was that his name?”

Pansy winced and looked down. “Poor Millie,” she murmured.

*

They got conflicting news that made Pansy want to strangle someone but Mulciber forced everyone to stay on task. Sudden explosions of fireworks announced a cause for celebration.

“He’s dead! Potter’s dead!” Lorcan Moore – who had been their go-between – shouted as he ran into the tents. Excited screams and shouts echoed on all sides. “…Can I be sure?” the tall, gangly young man was answering someone who had doubted him. “It’s just in from field Headquarters. It’s over; it’s almost over!”

Pansy gasped and turned to hug the first woman beside her. It turned out to be Dorea Tallis, Mulciber’s younger sister. “Thank Merlin,” Dorea sighed against Pansy’s shoulder. “Will’s going to come back. They all are.”

Pansy laughed softly, delight spreading over her like a hot wave. They’d won. They were going to win.

*

It didn’t last.

No one knew what happened but half an hour after they got the news, sounds of explosions started again. A wolf Patronus came at a run into the tent. Pansy froze and this time actually dropped the vial she’d been holding as Antonin’s voice rang out in the sudden silence. “It’s not over. Worse than before. All reserves must report.”

In the overwhelming noise of the chaos that followed, Pansy quietly slipped away toward the exit of the tent. Mulciber caught her and held her wrist. “Stay here, Miss Parkinson.”

She glared a him defiantly. “Not this time.”

*

There was no more order to the battle. Even with an untrained eye Pansy could see that once she found herself in the center of the fighting. It took everything she knew, everything Antonin had taught her to not get clipped by a spell. Giants, centaurs, house elves, not to mention people… The world had gone mad and combusted. Pansy found herself wedged in between two fighting groups and she slashed and jabbed her wand, spun around, dodged, jumped, attached and retreated without thinking much about who was in front of her other than if they were on her side or not.

She blasted her way past several fighters, throwing them back. Her eyes skimmed the area in front of her. Open, the far side of the Great Hall with nothing but wall behind the three dueling pairs.

Antonin was among them.

The rest happened far too quickly for Pansy to fully be able to reconstruct the events later on. She avoided a jinx and dodged behind a chunk of crumbled marble. From there she had about three seconds to throw a glance at the duelers at her right. Someone’s curse rebounded and went flying at Antonin and Flitwick. Antonin saw it at the last moment, coming low at a tangent, and jumped. But it was distraction enough for Flitwick to barrel a curse through Antonin’s defenses. It hit him in the chest and he crumpled to the floor.

Time seemed to stop. Pansy was no longer aware of her surroundings. She was screaming something – maybe it was “no” maybe it was something else, maybe not a word at all. She began to run but was pulled back by arms around her waist. She tried to turn but couldn’t.

“Pansy! Stop, stop! You’ll only get yourself killed!” Richard was forced to yell over the noise of battle. He turned her around and shook her roughly. “It’s over, Pans, it’s over!”

“No!”

“Look around!”

She did. There were much fewer of their fighters left then there were when she first got there. Their enemies, however, did not seem to have taken such massive losses. The chamber swayed before her eyes and she felt like she might faint. “Antonin,” she mouthed, looking up at Richard pleadingly. Her brother only shook his head.

Antonin’s locket felt cold in Pansy’s hand as she fished it out from under blouse. She told Richard in a flat, commanding tone to take her arm. Once she felt her brother’s hand tighten over her forearm, Pansy opened the locket and touched the portkey with her wand.

 “Portus.”

*~*

EPILOGUE

Six months used to be a long time, but in the aftermath of the war, days and weeks seemed to slip away without any relevance to reality. Pansy was glad the formalities were over. All she wanted to do was get away, out of the country, somewhere where she did not have to remember all the things, all the people, they had lost. That she had lost. Now that Richard and Circe were married – quietly, privately – Pansy had no more reason to stay in Britain.

She stood in the center of the sitting room, empty and silent aside from the ticking of the clock. Her trunk stood beside her, pressing the folds of her dark dress to her legs on one side. She looked up at Draco who had come to see her before she flooed to the portkey station.

“I wish you didn’t have to go,” he said flatly, not meeting her eyes.

“I wish you could come with me.”

“I have to stay for political reasons. But once everything is settled…”

She nodded and looked down. Something had changed between them. Over the course of the war they had somehow managed to grow apart instead of closer. She had thought about that during the week she and Richard had kept a low profile at the safehouse. If they’d changed, perhaps their relationship had too.

Draco reached out and put his arms around her. Pansy hugged him back without thinking about it. They were still engaged and she was still planning to marry him. But at this point, she was going to Germany and he was staying behind. Merlin knows when they’d actually get to the wedding.

“What’s this?” Draco touched the gold chain around her neck which slipped under her cloak and blouse.

Pansy slapped his hand away. “It’s nothing. I should go.” She made the fire and threw in the floo powder. “London Portkey Station.” Her last sight of Draco was him waving goodbye.

Under her blouse, Antonin’s locket-portkey was cool against Pansy’s skin.

 
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