Pansy was not sure how or why it started. She had known Theodore since they were children and she supposed she could even call him a friend as these things went. Between the politics and the hatred and the pain, friends were something of a luxury after the war.
Sex, however, wasn’t. Sometimes, she even smiled bitterly at the hypocrisy of those who would easily take to their beds the very people they hardly spoke to on the street. The Wizarding World itself seemed to be in an existential crisis after the war much greater than it had been during it.
Theo never avoided her. While Draco played a delicate game of politics and money, Theo had somehow managed to disengage himself from most of the chaos. The Notts, who were very comfortable, had never been flashy and Theo was far too mild-tempered to be forced into the exemplary role of a junior Death Eater. Pansy’s reputation and pride had suffered far more than his, so he could afford to be magnanimous and attentive.
Not that she wanted his comfort or support. All she really wanted from Theo Nott was a good time, a way to wind down and relax.
On most days, Pansy avoided white wine, but the color red was too strongly associated with blood these days. It was a little too much to bear after her father’s funeral.
She arrived at Theo’s London flat half a bottle in and waved it in front of his face. “Drinking, Nott? No? You ought to be.” She did not wait for an answer before pushing past him. The kitchen was far too clean and orderly. To Pansy’s inebriated mind this meant all sorts of things. “You got yourself a girlfriend or something?”
Theo, paused in the doorway to kitchen, looked at her oddly. “No...”
“A house elf then! How lovely. Where is it?”
“Porky is at the estate house. Someone has to look after it until I sell. This is all mostly charms…” he gestured vaguely at the sparking counters and polished floor. “Pans—“
“Ooh, don’t call me that. It makes me think of Draco. I don’t want to think of Draco right now.” She summoned two glasses and poured the wine. The second glass went sliding across the counter and stopped neatly at the edge.
“I’m sorry about your father.” He picked up the glass. “I’m also sorry I didn’t come. I should have.”
Pansy looked down. She was still wearing mourning. Her expression sobered just a bit. “It’s alright,” she said softly. “It was a quiet affair.”
They talked as they drank: about Theodore’s plans to sell the estate house, about possibly going to the continent for some time, about old friends and acquaintances and who was acting most entitled and arrogant.
“I should go,” Pansy said when they ran out of wine.
‘You could stay.” Theo looked almost hopeful.
She blew him a kiss and left anyway.
The first time they had sex was after the season premiere of Ellia de Marcelle, the newest theatrical French import and possibly the only classical wizarding show to be found in these turbulent and radical times. Pansy had coaxed Theo into being her escort and took great pride in her newest evening gown – a shouting, almost-gaudy, crimson, far too bright for a maiden, far too colorful for a girl who ought to still be in mourning for her father.
But Pansy was done with mourning. If she mourned every person she had lost in one way or another due to the war, she would be mourning her entire life.
The show itself was mediocre but deliciously traditional. Theo’s admiring gaze on her long, slender neck made Pansy’s body prickle with pleasure and anticipation. He offered to escort her home and she merely smiled and pressed herself close against him. Her hands found his hips, agonizingly close to his obvious erecting. “Your flat instead?”
They went and made good use of every flat surface in that tiny place. Finally, Theo passed out, one arm splayed over her bear stomach as though he wanted to keep her from leaving.
As she dressed quietly, as to not wake him, Pansy traced the red lines her lipstick had made on his skin and smiled vaguely. It felt good to have marked something for her own. It always had.
She figure it always would.
They went on for months like that – wine and sex and late night talks about nothing in Theo’s comfortable small flat. They were friends. Friends who had no reservations about losing themselves in the opulent act of sex. It seemed quite natural to Pansy. If the world had gone to hell anyway, why be sanctimonious and righteous when you could go to hell right along with everyone and everything else? Quite pleasurably, mind.
If Theo had reservations, he never voiced them.
“I cannot believe he is marrying her. Of all people.” Pansy threw the society paper in her hand onto the kitchen counter so Theo could see what she was talking about.
“Draco Malfoy and Astoria Greengrass announce engagement, “ Theo read in a monotone. “Ah. I thought they might.”
“You…knew about this?”
He looked at her closely and shifted a little nervously. “I knew Draco was thinking of marriage. Mostly for political reasons—“
“I knew it!”
“—Why do you even care so much?”
Pansy opened her mouth to answer, then caught the glimpse of something unusually dark in Theo’s expression. “Why shouldn’t I?” She was baffled – by his expression more than the question. “He was supposed to marry me. We were…betrothed as children…we dated…we were in love, for Merlin’s sake!”
“Oh.” Theo’s hands were clasped behind his back, expression a forced-neutral. “Are you still in love with him?”
“Bloody hell, Nott, since when do we talk about sentimental things?” Pansy turned to the cupboards and waved her wand to open all of them at once. “We’ll need something stronger than wine tonight. We must plan my revenge.”
“Do we ever talk about anything important, Pansy?”
His voice had been completely calm, almost flat, but Pansy’s thought process stopped instantly. “What?” She turned slowly.
“You said do we don’t talk about sentimental things. But it seems like we never talk about anything important either.”
“We talked about you selling the family estate house. I’d say that’s pretty bloody important.”
“It’s not the same.”
“Oh really?” Pansy folded her arms over her chest.
Theo sighed and leaned forward against the counter. He took off his glasses and rubbed and his eyes tiredly. “What are we doing, Pansy?”
“I don’t understand.”
“You and me. We spend all this time together—you practically live here, except that you never stay the night. We…what are we doing?”
Pansy could feel where this is heading: a place she did not want to go. “We’re friends.”
“Who have wild and incredibly imaginative sex at least once a week.”
“And that’s it?”
Pansy’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t know, Theo, you tell me.”
For a moment, they were completely still, her obstinacy pushing up against his patience. “You should go,” he said.
Pansy opened her mouth to protest, then closed it. How dare he ruin the one good thing she had made for herself after that goddamn war? “Fine.”
The anniversary of the end of the war was never a good day. Last year, Pansy had spent the entire time getting drunk with Theo. She hated not having him around, not being able to talk freely with someone – sober or drunk, it didn’t matter. But he always listened to her, he was always her friend first. He saw in her more than a pretty face at a pub or a political vehicle. He still saw her as a girl he went to school with and saw at childhood birthday parties.
She missed that. She missed him.
Theo wasn’t home when she showed up at his flat halfway through the afternoon, so Pansy sat down on the staircase and waited. He finally came around two hours later and she saw the way his face did a strange twitchy sort of motion when he noticed her.
“Not pleased to see an old friend?” Pansy asked.
Theo stopped, keys in hand, and looked at her carefully. “Are you drunk?”
“I was until I had to wait for you for two hours.”
“Are you alright?”
“It’s May 2nd. What do you think?”
They exchanged sad smiles. “You just as might come in,” Theo said, walking past her and into the flat. Pansy followed obediently. “I’m sorry, I know I’ve been avoiding you. We didn’t part very well last time.”
Pansy fell down on the couch in the sitting room and groaned. “And whose fault would that be?”
Theo peeked out from the kitchen, smirking. “Yours.”
Pansy threw a pillow at him as he disappeared back around the corner. “Fucking Nott.”
“Argh, Merlin.” Pansy stared up at the celling. It felt really good to be here again, to be able to tease someone without thinking twice about it. Why did anything about their relationship have to change? It was fine as it was.
Theo came into the drawing room with a tea trey and cookies. “I had dinner with Juliet, so I don’t really have any food…”
“Juliet?” Pansy felt something inside her constrict painfully. She pushed the feeling down with a vengeance.
“My cousin? From Madrid.”
“Oh. Right. This is fine, Theo. I’m not hungry anyway.” They had tea, their conversation picking up and dying off again in waves of tension and release. Pansy knew they could not last forever like this – something had to give. She wanted him – she could tell by how much she craved to touch him, run her hands over his arms and chest and thighs. But even more so she just wanted to laugh and talk and not make life any more complicated than it needed to be.
Someone had to give. Pansy groaned inwardly. The things she did for—comfort. “You know, I keep thinking about what you said last time. How we don’t talk about important things and how I never spend the night. You were only right about me not spending the night.”
“Alright.” She could hear the caution in his voice.
“Theo, this is stupid. I don’t know what to tell you. I like being here with you. I like…being able to talk to you and to just be ourselves and not think about all the…serious things that tend do go along with…well, you know. There are enough serious things in my life right now—I can’t handle another obligation.”
He rolled his eyes. “It’s not like I suggested we get married.”
Pansy snorted into her teacup, very unladylike. “I want to spend the night.”
Theo looked away, his hands clasping together in a tight lock in front of him for a moment before he answered. “Only if I can go down on you in the morning.”
Pansy’s eyes widened – scandalously forward, that Theodore Nott! – then she squealed like a child allowed into a sweets shop, and threw herself into his arms.