|Platinum and Pearls
Author: The Treacle Tart PM
SLASH Pansy has a story to sell. PPDM, DMSS. COMPLETE.Rated: Fiction M - English - Drama/Angst - Draco M. & Severus S. - Words: 5,414 - Reviews: 20 - Favs: 23 - Published: 09-15-04 - Status: Complete - id: 2058360
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Warnings: A bit of underage, a bit of non-con, and some het.
Author's Notes: Many thanks to leftsockarchive for her beta help. All remaining mistakes belong to me.
Platinum and Pearls
The rain beat hard against her window. Heavy clouds darkened the early afternoon sky. Pansy flicked ash from the end of her cigarette and watched the battering rain stream trails down the tinted glass. She thought of the Potions master as she took another long drag. He would hate these things. Why burn and inhale leaves when one could mix them with various dead things and make some potion? Oh yes, he would hate them. So would Draco, actually. How terribly Muggle, he would sneer, pursing his pretty mouth into a perfect circle.
She smashed the burning tip into the cup that held the remnants of her tea. Those two, she thought almost affectionately. How much trouble had they caused? How much scandal? How much would the world pay to know the whole story? What was the tale of the Potions master and the devil's heir worth? Only three people in the world knew the whole story, and two of them had vanished without a trace. She wondered who would pay more-- the last remaining Death Eaters, looking for revenge, Narcissa Malfoy, looking for her only child, Hogwarts, looking for its runaway slave, or The Daily Prophet, looking for a headline?
Pansy briefly thought about lighting another, but she had a taste for something a bit stronger. She picked up a half dozen bottles before choosing a fine malt scotch. Dear old Severus would have approved of this, she thought with a smile and then quickly swallowed the first glassful. Her eyes closed automatically as the liquor burned down her throat, marking a path to where it settled in her empty stomach. She passed her tongue slowly along her lips, refusing to waste a drop of the precious liquid, and sank back into the faded armchair with a sigh of contentment.
Lightning had started to flare as the storm grew, and rolling thunder crashed so loudly it sent ripples through the bottle that sat peacefully on the table before her. She brought her knees up and tucked her feet beneath her as she felt the warmth from the scotch slowly spreading to the tips of her fingers.
She wondered how the story would begin. It seemed so very long ago now…
She wore the perfect party gown because good little pureblood witches needed to look genteel. The hem hung down to her ankles and was trimmed with spider web lace. The neck was high and stiff, and her gloves, the purest white. Her hair was tied back in a ribbon, restraining her blonde curls, neat and elegant. Her already turned up nose was held high so as to look down on those beneath her with the appropriate amount of disdain.
Proper witches said 'please' and 'thank you', and never had seconds at society luncheons. Proper witches smiled at the men sweetly, and curtsied before the women respectfully. Proper witches only spoke when addressed directly and were otherwise invisible. No one cared about the opinions, thoughts, or views of a child.
Despite all that, Pansy loved these parties. She loved getting new dresses and wearing the family jewelry she was otherwise not permitted to set eyes on. She loved the way the men would wink when their wives weren't looking, and the way the woman would gossip and act scandalized as they spread rumors about those not invited. No one wore the same robes twice. Gillywater and Persimmon Punch was always served even though no one ever drank it. And one never spoke ill of another guest, until twenty minutes after they left. It was considered uncivilized.
When tea ended, the children would be sent away so the adults could talk of adult things. Upon being set free, they would run to their brooms to play Quidditch, or do a bit of gossiping on their own. Pansy wasn't interested; she had no time for childish things, and instead chose to sit at the bench beneath the willow tree to watch the adults. It was always more fun when they thought no one was watching. The men drank more heavily and told lewd jokes. The women looked coyly at those who were not their husbands, watching them through rapidly fluttering eyelashes. And occasionally one of the inebriated men and one of the flirtatious women would disappear together behind the stables.
"Want some?" Draco Malfoy sat next to her and produced a flask from his inside vest pocket. Somehow they always ended up on a bench under a tree at these things, watching the freak carnival that made up their world. Draco would have procured some liquor when no one was looking. At the ripe old age of ten, he had quite a discerning palate.
It was common knowledge that they were to be married. Pureblood traditions went back centuries and remained untouched and unaltered. When they were born, mere weeks apart, it was seen as the perfect opportunity to join the House of Malfoy to the House of Parkinson, the two oldest and purest of wizarding families in all of Europe. They would be royalty.
It always made her smile to think of it-- their wedding. She'd wear her great grandmother's embroidered robes with flowing cuffs and pearls along the hem. It was still as sparkling white as the day it was first made, and soft as feathers to the touch —regal, and befitting a princess. She counted the days until her eighteenth birthday.
Pansy would never tell any of this to Draco. He was, after all was said and done, still a boy, ancestry and tradition aside. Boys didn't think of such silliness. Currently, all he was interested in were the contents of the flask.
Pansy giggled when he offered her a taste, but declined, and watched as Draco threw his head back and drank heavily, a bit dripping down his chin. He went to wipe it clean with his sleeve but froze, his eyes transfixed on something across the great lawn. Pansy followed his gaze and found it that it had fallen upon a stranger.
He was painfully out of place. His heavy black robes clashed violently with the vibrant multihued attire of the other guests. With perfect grace, he bowed to the ladies. With somber certainty, he nodded to the men. He seemed to know the proper etiquette, but wasn't enthusiastic about performing it. His skin was so pale it practically glowed against his dark robes. He was thin and sharp and Pansy would have sworn if he smiled be might shatter into a million pieces.
She gave a laugh and was about to tell Draco, but when she turned and saw his face, the laughter died on her lips. Pansy didn't know this strange man, but never, never ever, had she hated anyone as much. The look, she would later determine, was the cause: the look on Draco's face when he first set his eyes upon the strange man. It was a look she'd never seen on his face before, one she thought he was incapable of making, and though she hadn't a clue what it meant, it was enough to break her heart.
Draco kissed her that day, on the bench under the willow. Her eyes stayed open. His were shut tight.
A week later Draco came to her house, a light blush on his pallid features as he began talking. He spoke indifferently about Severus Snape, the Potions master at Hogwarts. Said he was an old acquaintance of his father's. They'd been to school together but hadn't spoken in years… some sort of falling out. He went on and on about needing to impress the professor for his father's name and his family's honor. That he had less than a year to prepare. That it was expected of him to excel in the subject. Pansy wondered when Draco started caring so much about his father's name or his family's honor. Or anything really.
In spite of her doubts, Pansy suddenly developed a penchant for potions as well. She brought Draco texts from her father's study that she knew he would find helpful. Armed with several pages of notes, she took a seat next to Draco and offered her help in his noble quest for knowledge. It would be worth it if it meant they would spend hours alone together. Soon, when Draco was over this, whatever it was, they could go back to normal. She could go back to sitting under willow trees and dreaming of white robes with pearls along the hem.
There would be another party, just before she and Draco were to begin their term at Hogwarts. Pansy wore her finest robes and those shoes that made her look taller. Her hair was swept up in a twist and decorated with tiny flowers. She begged her mother to allow her to wear make-up-- just a little to color her cheeks and lips. Just before the party, she painted her nails the color of Lagerfeld roses because she remembered Draco mentioned he liked the flowers in her mother's garden.
When she arrived she immediately sought Draco out. She found him standing on the periphery of the party, near the door, looking like a sentinel. He had on his best robes as well. His hair was perfectly slicked back tight to his head, which was held high and straight. His pale features and light grey eyes made him look ethereal, almost delicate, and beautiful. Pansy felt her heart pound in her chest. But just as she was about to tap his shoulder, the man in black arrived, and that look, that look, was back on Draco's face.
After the initial greetings were made, Pansy watched Draco stride to where the young professor stood. She listened as he introduced himself. As he acted surprised to learn that Severus Snape would be his professor at Hogwarts. As he began to ask why adding an extra fwooper feather would turn a simple burn salve into a highly toxic poison. She listened to every word of the hour-long conversation, to the questions she helped him prepare. She watched as Draco smiled softly throughout the exchange, as his cheeks flushed pink and his eyes glittered in the afternoon sun. She listened as the dark man complimented Draco on his initiative and intelligence, and as Draco said how honored he would be to be under the esteemed Potion master's tutelage.
Tea ended then, and the children were dismissed. Pansy found a bench under a tree and waited. Almost immediately, Draco came and grabbed her hand, pulling her to a distant corner of the field. She didn't protest when he pushed her against the rough tree bark, crushing the tiny flowers in her hair, or when he kissed her forcefully, smearing the bit of lipstick she had begged to wear all over her face, or when his hand reached around and grabbed her behind and squeezed hard enough to bruise.
She had wished he noticed her fingernails.
Pansy never stopped waiting for Draco. She never stopped waiting for him to get over his fascination with the dark Potions master, or for him to get this silliness out of his system, or for him to realize his obligation to his bloodline and his heredity.
Or for him to realize his obligation to her.
The first year at Hogwarts was the hardest, and that first potions class, the longest. Draco sat completely upright. Perfect posture. Hands folded on the table in front of him. His cauldron was flawlessly polished. With his nose high in the air and his attention focused on the empty desk at the front of the classroom, he looked more like his father than Pansy had ever realized. And when Professor Snape swept into the class and gave his speech, his voice all razors and silk, Draco raised his head just a bit higher.
But when the man in black turned his attention to a scrawny, mousy, befuddled little Gryffindor, Draco's eyes caught fire. His lip curled the slightest bit and his hands balled into fists. It was at that moment that Pansy realized Draco didn't merely resemble Lucius. He was Lucius. He carried Lucius's blood in his veins. And if half the stories about the elder Malfoy were true, Harry Potter had just made himself an enemy for life.
If Draco's fascination with Professor Snape was hard to handle, his obsession with Harry Potter was unbearable. Everyone thought they knew the cause for the hostility -- the battle of Slytherin and Gryffindor was a centuries-old one -- but Pansy knew that the hatred between those two had nothing to do with Quidditch matches or House Cups. Draco began his schooling with a mission. A purpose. An obsession. And the object of his obsession had an obsession of his own.
Draco was never good at sharing.
The first year at Hogwarts was the hardest. The day Potter became Gryffindor Seeker, Pansy found herself thrown into a broom closet. The day Potter won his first match, she was dragged into an empty classroom. The night Draco came back from serving detention in the Forbidden Forest, she found herself woken up at 4 a.m. by his hot breath on her neck. There was never anything gentle about the kisses. They were nothing like the books in Mother's bedside table, but by then Pansy stopped believing in Prince charming and promised herself she would never look at those books again.
First year was punctuated with Slytherin losing the House Cup for the first time in thirteen years, and Pansy with tears pooling in her eyes as Draco bit her neck hard enough to draw blood.
The second and third years at Hogwarts brought more of the same, but by then Pansy was used to the routine of it all. Draco always turned to her, and she knew that one day he would remember she was always there for him. These were the games one played. She watched her mother play them over and over. She listened to women talk of the difference between who shared their beds and who shared their fantasies and how seldom those two crossed. She watched them turn the other way when their husbands flirted or didn't come home for a few days. These were the games one played…and Pansy knew the rules very well.
But time passed and the rules changed.
She begged her mother to allow her to wear her great grandmother's necklace to the Yule Ball -- the platinum one with diamond-encrusted daisies that glittered like fairies. It was only worn on three other occasions and sat in the same velvet box it was purchased in so very long ago. She bit sharply into her lower lip as she placed it around her neck, where the cool precious metal tingled against her warm skin. She would be the model of beauty and grace, her hair pulled up with tight curls framing her face, and her robes silky and shimmering in the moonlight, hugging her curves. Pansy stood quietly in her room waiting for Draco to call.
Pansy had learned not to expect much from Draco. He did ask her to the ball, formally, and that was a small victory. She didn't mind that he didn't compliment her when he picked her up. She didn't mind that he hadn't brought flowers. She didn't mind that they only danced a few times. They were out together, practically announcing their relationship to the entire school. It was a true beginning to all the things she dreamed of as she sat under willow trees. Things were slowly getting back on course.
It wasn't until Snape left the Great Hall with the headmaster of Durmstrang that it all fell apart.
Draco grabbed Pansy, entwining his fingers with hers and nearly crushing her small hand. With a forcible yank, he pulled her out of the Great Hall and all over the grounds. They came upon couples looking for privacy in the rose bushes. They passed a group of snickering sixth years that managed to spike the punch with Firewhiskey. They walked past laughter and romance and joy until they reached the Astronomy Tower and Draco ordered it empty. Pansy stood quietly in the center and waited.
"I knew that Karkaroff would be trouble." Draco eyes grew dark. "Father told me not to get too close, because Karkaroff couldn't be trusted. I've been watching him closely. He's been eyeing Professor Snape since he got here. They knew each other before, you know. Old acquaintances, my father said. I bet they're in the Durmstrang boat right now. That bastard! His filthy hands all over Severus… I swear I'll tear his heart out…"
He went on for quite a bit, Pansy listening calmly all the while. His hair was falling gracelessly about his reddening face. A vein in his neck was pulsing with each word he spoke. His ire grew with every bitter syllable. Pansy knew what she had to do. Without a word, she unbuttoned her robes and slowly slid them off her shoulders. Without taking her eyes off his, she pulled down the straps of her camisole and let it fall to the ground. She stood half naked, with nothing but platinum diamond-encrusted daisies around her neck to cover her upper body.
She held back a scream as he bit her breast.
Time blurred after that. It was difficult to remember what happened next. That Hufflepuff died. The Dark Lord announced his return. Summer came and went without a single social tea or grand party. The adults met in secret. No one laughed anymore. Pansy began carrying around a flask of her own.
Fifth year brought more of the same. Potter began taking private lessons with Snape and Draco took to lurking in dark corridors during their meetings. Pansy learned a simple spell to cover bruises.
The end of that school year saw Lucius Malfoy arrested for an attack at the Ministry. Draco finally broke. Pansy ran to his room when she heard the news, but he was nowhere to be found. Her blood went cold when she realized where he must have gone. She went to the dungeons and listened carefully until she heard hushed voices straining through the night.
"He's been arrested?"
"It's what happens when one breaks the law."
"You'll help him."
"His fate is out of my hands."
"He needs you."
"Lucius Malfoy needs no one, Draco. He'll be fine."
"I...I need you."
"Don't turn me away."
"Is that all you have to say?"
"It's past curfew, Mr. Malfoy. You must leave."
She could feel his anger cutting her skin, could feel his pain drifting through the air and burning her where she stood. Through the pitch black silence, she heard his call. He would come looking for her and, as ever, she would be waiting.
Pansy sat with her ankles crossed at the small vanity in her room and removed her earrings. She noticed for the first time that there was a small chip in the frame of the mirror. Absentmindedly, she rubbed her fingernail against the peeling paint and watched as a larger piece broke off and fell next to her hair brush.
That would be the first of several details she would forever remember about that night.
It was 12:11 a.m. on a Thursday. She was alone in her room, as the others were all called home after the events of the last few days. A few drops of her best perfume behind each ear, her favorite night shirt, grey like Draco's eyes, and green undergarments were all she wore. A few quick shots of Centaur's Rum coursing through her veins had steeled her courage.
She was thinking of Unicorns, imagining them galloping through the misty forest, their manes flowing in waves behind them, their eyes twinkling like sapphires. She was wondering what it must be like to be so beautiful, so precious, when he finally came to her room. He didn't knock.
Pansy sat back and looked up, her eyes fixed on the ceiling, making patterns out of the cracks that crisscrossed above her. They began to trace what appeared to be a butterfly with a broken wing when someone began pushing her down and ripping her clothes. Fingernails like daggers clawed at her, not differentiating between the fabric that covered her body and her own skin. There were cold hands, sharp and hateful, surrounding her.
She turned to look out her window, trying to find the moon in the fog when a bit of shadow caught her eye. A dragon. A knight astride a dragon was coming to save her. His colors were waving, like a Unicorn's mane, glowing in the moonlight.
Words. He was speaking, saying things. Cruel things.
The knight drew closer and she could hear him call out to her. His deep baritone sang her name like a sacred word.
The wind from the beating dragon's wings was cooling her parched skin and blowing rose petals into the air. Her hand stretched out to catch a falling petal and found only air. It quickly fell over a heart beating so hard it was about to break through her breastbone. Her skin felt dank. She brought her hand up to her face and watched a drop of crimson blood cross her palm. Looking down she saw scratches that intersected her skin, strangely resembling the lace on her great grandmother's wedding robes.
The coarse rug burned her back, leaving patches of angry red welts. A heavy weight on her belly made her gasp for air.
She was dancing. A violin was softly humming and she was dancing with her knight. In a garden, a rose garden by a lake.
A hand was reaching up to her face. Cupping her cheek in a gentle caress.
A hand was reaching between her legs, prying them apart. Demanding to cross the one line no one had crossed before.
"Please," she whispered.
Her knight was fading.
"Not like this," she said softly.
The garden wilted and faded to black.
"No," she said.
He pushed his knee into her thigh.
"No," she cried.
He shoved his fingers inside her.
"No!" she screamed.
Pansy's clawed fingers flew up until she grasped a handful of hair. With all her might, she pulled his head back and twisted it until they were face to face, and with all the proper venom, passed down from generations of hateful women along the Parkinson line, she dug her knee hard into the beloved Malfoy groin. And when he lay before her doubled over in pain, with tears in his stone eyes and a curse and a promise on his colorless lips, she kicked and kicked and punched and screamed and released six years of hurt and rage.
Willow trees and stone benches.
Smeared lipstick and crushed flowers.
Platinum and pearls.
Faded knights and wilted gardens.
And when she felt sated, when anger and pain passed to numbness, Pansy limped, naked and bloodied, to her small vanity where she took a seat and fixed her eyes on the chip in the mirror's frame. She began brushing her hair. It was with an unshakable calm that she spoke. "It's past curfew, Mr. Malfoy. You must leave."
That night she dreamed of unicorns.
One might think the story ended there. One story did.
Pansy went home that summer and carefully packed away her great grandmother's wedding robes and her diamond necklace. She packed away her party dresses and white gloves. But she kept the flask.
When Mother asked if she was all right, Pansy simply smiled and said, "But, of course," which was really the only answer Mother ever wanted to hear.
In years to come, when Pansy thought of that summer, she would remember the heat that dried the flowerbeds. She would remember that she started to sketch and tried to teach herself to knit. She would remember that outside of her parents and the house elves, she didn't see another living being for months. It would be one of the happiest times in her life.
Sixth year was uneventful. Things remained too quiet for too long. Whispered secrets in dark hallways spoke of things to come. Choices made. Alliances formed. Friendships forgotten. And no matter how much she or anyone else tried to ignore the signs, the time for decisions was approaching faster than anyone was ready for.
Here was where the next story began.
It was well past midnight, late in the spring, when he came calling again.
"It's time." He seemed thinner. Smaller, somehow.
"Time?" she asked.
"They're coming for me."
"Don't play games, Pansy. You know. You'll be sixteen next month and they'll come for you too."
She tried to look aloof and unconcerned, but her stomach was already tightly knotted. Draco would be the first to be called, but soon others would start to disappear. One at a time.
"Why are you here?"
"I'm …I'm saying good-bye."
It was his eyes that always gave him away. His eyes that told his secrets. That betrayed his thoughts. His eyes that told her he never loved her.
"You're refusing the mark, aren't you?" Pansy wasn't sure what she was feeling. Try as she might, she couldn't quite convince her heart that she no longer loved him. "Why?"
"It's suicide either way, Pansy. My father has been rotting in Azkaban for almost a year. If we join Voldemort, we are assured of nothing but being exploited until we are no longer useful. If we fight, we are the first to be targeted by a madman. We can't win, and no one will help us. No one."
"So don't go at all."
"You know that isn't an option."
"So take the mark and go to Dumbledore."
"It isn't that easy anymore. Since Snape and others defected they changed the binding spells. He would control me completely."
"Have you…have you spoken to Professor Snape?"
"He won't see me alone," Draco replied with a crooked grin.
"If he were to know, he could help."
"No one knows. No one can know. It's too dangerous."
"But you're telling me."
"I owed you a good-bye," he said thoughtfully.
The knots in her stomach tightened further. "You owe much more than that."
"I know. But some things can never be paid back."
Pansy wondered if it was a testament to how frightened he was that made him seem so sincere, or a testament to how sincere he was because he was truly frightened. Having his father in Azkaban probably showed him how alone he was in the world, and if her relationship with him proved anything, it was that he wasn't good at being alone.
Without saying anything further, she reached in her bedstand and pulled out a small green vial. Professor Snape had been administering Dreamless Sleep Draught as if it were candy to all of Slytherin House. Draco took twice the required amount.
She left him asleep in her bed, wrapped tightly in her favorite quilt, and headed for the dungeons. Despite his customary sneer, the Potions master seemed a little surprised to see her.
"What is your excuse for waking me in the middle of the night, Ms. Parkinson?"
"They've call Draco."
His eyes betrayed him too. He nodded slowly. "So it's starting."
"He's going to refuse the mark."
At this, his pale features went nearly white. "How do you know that?"
"He told me."
"They'll kill him."
"I'm aware of how they operate. What exactly do you expect me to do about it?"
"I'm not sure. I just thought you should know."
"His folly doesn't concern me."
Pansy smiled. No matter how old they were, they were always little boys. "I've spent a good portion of my life watching Draco, Professor. He loves you. But that isn't really news now, is it? You've always known. From the first time he approached you at the Bulstrode's social tea all those years ago."
He had the decency to look down. "I knew then," he said solemnly. "I did nothing to foster his affection, I assure you."
"Of course not. That would be inappropriate," she replied softly. "A side effect of spending so much of my life watching Draco, is that I spent a great deal of time watching you as well. I had no choice really. We made quite the maudlin love triangle, the three of us. The silly girl in love with the cold prince. The cold prince in love with the horrid Potions master. And the horrid Potions master unable to do anything about his own feelings because it wouldn't be proper. Aren't you a bit tired of it all?"
Snape said nothing and Pansy got up to leave. "In two days, just after his sixteenth birthday and before anyone can get their hands on him, Draco will disappear from Hogwarts. I'd rather he didn't go alone. He isn't good at it, you see."
"Do you expect me to follow him, Ms. Parkinson?" he asked mockingly. "To abandon everything for some twisted fairy tale you concocted in your naïve little mind?"
"I expect you to follow your shriveled heart and make a choice to save a life. His or your own."
She would not look away from his dead black eyes. Slowly they came to life.
Pansy and Snape had reached an understanding that night. She let go of a dream and watched as he considered one of his own.
"I'm an old man, Pansy," he said dejectedly. "And he…he is a child."
Pansy gave a small laugh as she crossed the room. She paused at the threshold and turned one last time. "None of us are children anymore, Professor. We haven't been for a very long time."
Draco Malfoy and Severus Snape disappeared on a bright May morning and the greatest manhunt in Wizarding history had begun. Draco's disappearance would inspire his peers to refuse the mark, and others to come to their aid, joining the Hogwarts houses in a way that nothing else could before it.
Draco would have hated it.
Snape's disappearance caused Voldemort to split his army – half to kill Harry Potter, half to kill his treacherous former disciple. The diluted forces were both easily captured and the final confrontation between 'The Boy Who Lived' and 'He Who Must Not be Named' was a mere blink in time.
And though years had passed, people still wondered about those two. They wondered where they disappeared to, and whether they were still alive. The papers had sightings of one or both of them at least once a week: Draco sipping Chardonnay in the South of France, or Snape skulking in an alleyway in Budapest. Narcissa offered a reward for any information that led to their safe return, while Death Eater loyalists offered a bounty for their heads.
Pansy enjoyed the drama of it all.
And though she found no use for her great grandmother's wedding robes, or her diamond necklace, she would have a perfect use for the summer home in the Mediterranean that had been willed to her personally. The one that was unplottable and heavily warded. The one no one knew about.
Yes, Pansy had a story to sell-- one that could bring her a tidy sum. But there were some things a girl should keep to herself. She wouldn't be a very effective secret keeper, otherwise. And what was money, after all? In truth, no amount of gold would ever be enough compensation for all she lost. As a wise young man once told her, some things can never be paid back.