|Third Time's the Charm (Pansy/Daphne; PG)
||[Apr. 28th, 2015|07:24 pm]
Title: Third Time's the Charm
Word Count: 2,185
Summary: Pansy and Daphne in three snapshots.
Daphne sat on the stone edge of one of the many fountains that decorated the Parkinson Manor garden. The skirts of her pink dress were daintily fanned out around her; a storybook lay open on her lap. Daphne pushed a lock of brown hair, meticulously curled by her and her sister’s elf that morning, out of her face and scrunched up her button nose in concentration as she read.
Pansy, who had finally been granted her wish of a toy broom for her sixth birthday, was playing on the path beside the fountain, trying to make the broom fly higher that two feet off the ground, which it stubbornly refused to do. “You could at least read aloud if you won’t help me figure out how to make this stupid broom fly!” Pansy called to her friend, giving the broom handle a frustrated yank, which only made it swerve sharply, almost throwing Pansy off.
Daphne turned the page back to the beginning of the story and read, sometimes halting over more unfamiliar words. “Once upon a time, there lived two young women. One, Reina, was a beautiful Pureblood witch with flowing blonde hair and bright blue eyes. She was sweet, caring and graceful. She had powerful magic and her father was certain that she would soon marry a most noble Pureblood heir. The other woman, Margaret, was cruel and jealous. Her parents had been muggles and she understood little of the wizarding world. Margaret was jealous of Reina’s beauty and magical heritage. So one day, Margaret tricked Reina into giving her her wand. She snapped the delicate wand in two, depriving Reina of her magic, and locked her into a dark tower. The tower was guarded by two large and fierce dragons, which circled it and destroyed everyone who tried to save the damsel. One day, a powerful, Pureblood wizard heard of Reina’s plight and decided he was going to save her!”
“Wait, so she just sat there in the tower and waited for someone to come and save her?” Pansy rolled her eyes. “I would at least try to escape.”
Daphne looked up confused. “It’s a story, Pansy! Besides, she did not have her wand, remember? And there were dragons!”
Pansy shrugged. “So did the wizard save her?”
“Oh yes! He fought the dragons and released Reina. They fell in love and Reina’s father was so impressed and grateful to the wizard that he granted him his daughter’s hand in marriage.”
Pansy sighed. “Did she at least get her wand back?”
Daphne tossed the book aside. “I’m sure she did.” She ran to the hedge at the end of the path and began to climb it, trying, but mostly failing, to keep her dress from catching on the branches. “How romantic it would be to have someone come and save me!” She was staring off into the distance, stopping her climb up the hedge.
Pansy snorted. She flew to where Daphne was pretending to be Reina. “Fear not, lovely damsel, I will save you!” To better reach Daphne, Pansy tucked her feet under herself and carefully, slowly, stood, balancing on the narrow handle of the toy broom.
Like this, she was face-to-face with Daphne. They were so close that the summer breeze blew some of Daphne’s hair into Pansy’s face. Daphne’s eyes were wide; she was obviously lost in the game. “Oh gallant sir!” Daphne whispered breathily as she looked into her pretend-savior’s eyes. Pansy had the strange, overwhelming compulsion to kiss her. Well, after all, that’s what wizards and witches did in all the fairytales, and since she was pretending to be a wizard just then…
“Pansy, Daphne, come have tea girls!” Mrs. Parkinson’s call from the porch started Pansy. She flailed and lost her balance on the broom, falling to the sandy path below. There was a buzzing in her ears that drowned out Daphne’s giggles and gasps and her mother’s reproachful words.
For a moment, the world was very still. Then, she rose, huffed, brushed off her robes and grabbed the broom out of the air. “Well, all this is quite rubbish,” she declared to Daphne, who was carefully climbing down the hedge. “Let’s go and have tea with sweats instead.”
Pansy learned to appreciate fairytales later. By the time she was fourteen she firmly believed that her heart belonged to Draco Malfoy. If there had ever been a wizard worthy of a storybook, it was Draco, with his good looks, haughty drawl and powerful Pureblood family. Although, Pansy never quite felt the fluttery sensation in her chest which other girls talked about and when Draco did not kiss her behind a Christmas tree at the Yule Ball, Pansy had little regret. That he was courting her, unofficially, she knew. Just as she knew that their parents were talking, also unofficially, of marriage. Yet all of that seemed simply like the order of things rather than the magical wonder promised by all the storybooks. But then all those books were probably written by silly Hufflepuffs anyway.
By half-to-midnight, students began clearing out of Great Hall and teachers were eager to finish their chaperone duties. Pansy sat at one of the small, round tables, adjusting the delicate belts of her dancing shoes. They were almost brand new and had started to bite into her skin after a couple of hours of dancing. She had stubbornly refused to take them off, however, considering going barefoot at a ball to be wildly inappropriate and something only a plebian mudblood would do. Draco was standing with a group of Slytherin boys nearby, talking about the Malfoy Yule ball, which would, undoubtedly, surpass this attempt at a proper celebration that Dumbledore had conjured up.
Becoming restless and bored of their conversation, Pansy stood with the practiced grace of a girl who spent her childhood hounded and groomed by a precise and prudish governess. She flounced over to Draco and touched his arm lightly. “Draco, this is tiring. Perhaps we should go.”
“I heard Albert managed to smuggle some Durmstrang liquor into the common room. We should go see if that’s true,” a fifth-year in the group said. Others nodded approvingly.
“Very well.” Draco offered Pansy his arm.
She was about to take it when Theodore Nott said, “I need to find Daphne first. I haven’t seen her for a bit.”
“You go and I’ll find her,” Pansy offered. Without waiting for an answer, she detached herself from the group and made her way toward the opposite end of the Great Hall.
Pansy wondered around the entrance hallway and foyer, thinking of where Daphne could be, and finally found herself on the front steps of the castle. She noticed Daphne instantly, a lone figure silhouetted against rows of floating candles. She stood on the second-highest step, a light shawl wrapped around her shoulders. Pansy could just make out the snowflakes tangled in Daphne’s fountain bun; they sparkled and glittered silver in the faint light.
“Are you trying to freeze to death?” Pansy asked, coming up beside her friend. She wrapped her arms around herself, wishing she had at least a shawl as well. Better yet, a fur coat. “Your date has lost track of you. Everyone is going back to the common room to torture alcohol out of Albert Perkins.”
Daphne was quiet for another moment, before turning to Pansy. She looked unnerved, like the uncertainty of the entire world was on her shoulders. “Father sent me an owl this morning. He said Theo’s father has…expressed intention. I suppose that is why Theo asked me to be his date. Father wants me to…cultivate the match.”
Pansy laughed, throwing her head back far enough so that the ends of her short hair tickled the nape of her neck. “I can just imagine. Oh, Daph, you should probably ask your sister for lessons. Astoria has lots of experience cultivating Zabini.”
Daphne reached out and grabbed Pansy’s hands, holding them tightly, even when Pansy tried to squirm out of her grasp. Mostly because she had not expected this reaction. “Look at me, Pans. I’m not Ria. I can’t cultivate anyone other than with promise of my dowry.”
Pansy’s expression darkened. She bit her lip and tried once again to make Daphne let go of her to no avail. “Hush you. You’re gorgeous.” Pansy stopped. She had not meant to say that. She certainly had not meant to say it in that tone. It had come out too raw.
Daphne said, “So are you.”
They were simply staring at each other now. Pansy was acutely aware of the warmth of Daphne’s hands on hers and the frost-fever blush on her cheeks. She could almost hear the beat of her own heart as it lurched suddenly and began to race. Pansy took a step forward, cautiously, as though experimenting with a new and dangerous potion. The distance between her and Daphne was shrinking by the second.
“There you are!” They jumped apart and turned. Draco was peering at them with a moderate degree of frustration from the entrance to the castle. “Bloody Merlin it’s cold. If you two are quite done discussing your monthlies, we would all like to go and find Perkins before he guzzles down all the alcohol like the fish he is.”
Daphne let go of Pansy’s hands. This time, Pansy had not wanted that. “It is freezing,” Daphne said. “Come on, Pans. Before we catch cold.” She ran up the stairs, holding the skirts of her gown so as not to trip. Pansy followed her, not bothering to take Draco’s offered arm on the way in.
The dark outline of the Hogwarts castle was stark against the lightening sky. The distant towers and battlements drew sharp, formidable lines across the dawn, unwelcoming and foreign where they had once almost been home.
Pansy stood on the edge of the Forbidden Forest, her dark cloak wrapped around her shoulders. It was too far for the sounds of celebration to reach her but she could imagine them.
It was over. The war was over.
So was the life she had always known; nothing would ever be the same.
She was not Marked. She was just a girl. Her mother had been married to a Death Eater, but that was her only crime. Her father was dead. Ever single person she knew lost someone today. Every single friend she had, lost more than one or would lose once the lustration and vengeful tribunals began.
In a single night, everything Pansy knew about the world had changed.
She almost missed it, the dark shape coming toward her at a run, seemingly from the Hogwarts grounds. Pansy took hold of her wand, expecting all sorts of nastiness. But then the figure came into focus, the hood of her cloak flying off. “Pansy! Dear Merlin, I had almost lost hope!”
“Daphne,” Pansy said. Specks of warmth sparked within her, melting jagged pieces off the icecap over her emotions. She took a deep breath as Daphne reached her and threw her arms around Pansy’s neck. “I’m glad you’re alright,” she said in the same blank voice.
Daphne drew back, her eyes bloodshot and puffy like she had been crying. “When I couldn’t find you I thought… I didn’t think I could take another person...”
Pansy shook her head. “There will still be more. So many more.”
Daphne looked at her in silence, tilted her head and wrung her hands, but she never reached out to touch Pansy. Apparently, even her best friend could feel the wall Pansy had built up around herself. Finally, she said, “But not you.”
Pansy forced herself to focus on Daphne’s face. She was pale, dark circles under her puffy eyes, brown hair uncurled and pooling haphazardly over her shoulders and in the hood of her cloak. Pansy thought she looked almost unrecognizable, as changed as the world had become. “Who are we now, Daphne?”
Daphne shook her head. “We’re us. We are… I don’t know.”
Pansy reached out and tucked a stray strand of Daphne’s hair behind her ear. “None of the stories ended like this.” She laughed bitterly.
“You were right to not believe in them.” Daphne caught her hand and held it.
“I don’t believe in anything.”
“Not even this?” Daphne was looking at their locked hands.
Pansy had no answer for her. She did not even know what “this” was. Before her swam pictures of a warm summer and Daphne’s pink dress, the snowflakes in Daphne’s hair in the afterglow of the Yule ball. And all the things in between. Pansy closed her eyes and said, “Depends on what ‘this’ is, I guess.”
Daphne’s lips on hers were soft and gentle, cautiously seeking out an answer. Pansy allowed her own lips to part, allowing Daphne to explore her mouth. She reached out and wrapped her arms around Daphne’s waist, drawing her in, returning her kisses with small nips, teasing the tip of her tongue over the corner of Daphne’s mouth.
The war was over, and the world would never be the same again.