CHALLENGE PROMPTS:

Villain - Pansy Parkinson

Random Pairing - Ron/Pansy

Random Song - How You Get The Girl by Taylor Swift.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This one shot has been written for two challenges hosted on HPFF (Slytherinchica08's Random Song and Pairing One-shot Challenge and for TreacleTart's Not So Evil Villain One-shot Challenge). It was TERRIFYING to write because as much as I love Ron, I probably can't write him at all. But that's up to you to decide.

Also I have probably deviated from the song so much. I have no idea how the song sounds because I couldn't find an audio anywhere so I just used the lyrics and this (gestures wildly to the one shot) was born. Either way, I enjoyed expanding my horizons and challenging myself even if the result is horrible. Enjoy! :)

UPDATE 09.04.15: This is 3rd place in the Not So Evil Villain One Shot Challenge :)

28.05.15: Minor edits made.


Colours. So many colours. They are a blur on the floor, a whirling mass of taffeta and Italian silk that spin in timed and controlled movements, poised and perfect. She watches them as she submerges herself into the shadows that linger in the far corners of the ballroom. They wear those colours and those masks like they wear their facades. There will never be one slip or tear of fabric.

After all, she is one of them so she knows. She has always been one of them, even when she was outcast in a show of support for the changing world. A facade has been relentlessly drilled into her from birth and she wears it constantly - in the shadows, amongst the socialites, in front of her friends and family. As always, she remains composed as she watches the colours.

They're beautiful, she decides, and do their jobs well. One can easily be distracted by the pretty colours and wander dangerously close to forgetting how deceptive the people who don them truly are. Colours lull you into a false sense of security, allow you to believe that the demure smiles are genuine, that hatred doesn't glide in the veins of your dance partner, hatred that tore the world apart a few years ago.

She sees many things from her position in the shadows, can see without being seen. She likes to be seen, of course, but today she quickly tired of the condescending amusement in everyone's eyes as she introduced herself which is why she slinks into the shadows and watches the only world that she knows in action. This world is rapidly spiralling out of control, trying to adjust in the only way possible and that way appears to be to merge two different realities into a single haven. She sees it in the mudbloods scattered around the room, in the pale fingers of Draco Malfoy that intertwine with Granger's dark digits, in the messy hair and jade green eyes of the notorious Saviour of the Wizarding World.

A voice in her head wonders whether her world is adjusting without her before she dismisses it. She refuses to be left behind.

"Parkinson?" The incredulous tone rushes in from her left, jerking her out of her reverie. Shock that someone recognises her even with a mask on briefly shoots through her.

Face composed, she turns to the man beside her out of courtesy. For a moment she assesses him: broad shoulders, a slightly crooked nose that has obviously been broken in the past, an army of freckles and hair the colour of a raging fire. She is slightly impressed - Ronald Weasley has certainly matured into a wizard with fairly attractive features. No longer is his frame gangly and awkward, but he has grown into his limbs so that his robes do not hang off his shoulders; instead they hint at the strength underneath the dark fabric.

She privately notes that not one inch of his smart dress robes is made of taffeta or Italian silk.

"Ah, Weasley, is it?" she says loftily. Her offhanded tone causes a flush to rise along the back of his neck as if not being greeted with the usual reverent smile isn't something he is accustomed to. "Can't say that I'm not surprised to see you at a ball. Masquerades do not seem to be your...scene."

A scowl she has seen often in her life twists his mouth at the slight bite in her tone. He idly crushes a mask in his left hand, saying stiffly, "Alistair Greengrass likes to stay on good terms with the Auror Office. Inviting us to the annual Samhain ball is a brilliant way to do it apparently. So here I am."

She does not reply, somewhat intrigued by how alien Weasley is to her world. Everything from his openly defensive stance to his manner of speaking is vastly different from what she knows. He speaks without derision laced in his words or double meanings. His face does not hold any trace of a smile whether it be false or true - she feels that they are rarely false - and manages to be so much more open than everyone else in the room without letting his guard down.

"I thought the Parkinsons were in Paris," he says. "This isn't Paris."

"Excellent observation," she says dryly. "Lady Greengrass has been friends with Mother since they attended Hogwarts and invited us to the ball. Mother saw it fit to return to England."

Pansy can remember the relief on Mother's face when Lady Greengrass finally Flood back to her Manor after a long discussion about whether it was time to welcome them back yet. After nearly four and a half long years, the Parkinsons are essentially back in society's good graces. They are no longer too shameful to be seen with and Mother intends to keep it that way.

Mother's hand had wrapped around Pansy's forearm, uncomfortably tight - a promise of what is to come if she fails to integrate seamlessly with the most important people in British wizarding society so she allows a social smile to slip onto her face.

"So," she says, "tell me what the past few years have had in stock for you, Weasley. I've heard some rumours along the way, but you know how people can conjure up such drivel."

The two of them know that there is probably little nonsense in what she has heard about the Golden Trio. Still, he humours her.

"Me and Harry didn't go back to school - I mean, Hermione nagged us for ages, but there was no point wasting a year in school when we had job offers already. I worked at the joke shop for a bit and then went under training to become an Auror. We passed the final exams this year."

"You must be proud."

He shrugs. "It was just standard protocol, we didn't need to take it. We've still been hunting down the Death Eaters since we accepted the offers."

At the mention of the war criminals, his eyes harden to sharp flints of ice. She remembers who she supported during those three dark years, what she said one of the last times they saw each other and tries to divert the conversation away from where it's potentially headed.

"I'm glad that Draco wasn't one of the ones sentenced for life," she admits. "He only tried to save his family."

Ron tells her with a note of displeasure, "Harry got him off the hook a little for not telling Bellatrix who he really was. He's with Hermione, you know." He adds the final statement purely out of habit and spite to see her reaction. Her face is carefully blank, not conveying a hint of the pang of hurt that resonates in her chest when she thinks of the boy she convinced herself she'd marry loving Granger.

Instead she smiles.


She forgot that there are so many events in the world of the elite. Snowflakes drift down from above at balls that celebrate Christmas; she attends charity events organised by Granger because Draco persuades her to accompany him to; and there are Quidditch matches that her father insists they watch, he doing his best to fit in with the high class wizards that pass around cigars and casual comments intending to criticise the Keepers, she disinterestedly watching the Falmouth Falcons throw a Quaffle to each other.

Sometimes, Weasley is there. He never wears expensive robes or cologne like the others, never pretends to be anything other than what he is and it fascinates her. She watches him thrive at the centre of attention with his friends before they slip away to their respective corners: Potter with his girlfriend, Granger who whisks Draco away from Pansy's side with a polite smile and a toss of her bushy hair and Weasley who inevitably finds his way to her.

She never asks why he approaches her. He doesn't particularly like her - it's in the suspicious glint in his eyes, in the defensive stance he assumes, one hand curled around his wand just in case. Yet they remain cordial, sometimes straying into their old contempt for each other and sometimes slipping into something that can be labelled as the faintest echo of friendship. They precariously tread the line between friend and foe with the weight of their pasts preventing them from changing anything even further.

One thing remains unsaid but unanimously accepted: they always meet each other in the shadows.


May 2nd 1998.

It's a date that will haunt her mind forever. Yes, she doesn't know how it was to be in the Battle of Hogwarts and she is glad about that - she will not regret her decision, refuses to be ashamed even as the wizarding world orders her to be. It's a decision that has stayed with her, however, and affected her parents too. It's a decision that causes May 2nd to shine in her mind forever.

As she has for the past three May 2nds, she locks herself in her room. She does it earlier than usual today because she has to be at Hogwarts for the Memorial Day to mourn the dead - all week, her mother insisted that she go and then Draco threatened to drag her there himself at two o'clock. So she locks herself in her room at noon and stays in her lilac silk slip, lace edging brushing her thighs as she steadies her wand and traces crimson lines on her skin.

Her teeth dig into her lower lip to prevent the hiss threatening to escape. She watches the red beads travel down her legs like warm tears with an odd sense of completeness. Sometimes she feels so numb, numb from the pain of abandonment, to the overwhelming weight of her facade so she forces herself to feel.

When breathing is a little easier, she vanishes away the dry trails with a flick of her wand and heals her skin, closing the little cuts perfectly. There are no traces of her acts when she is done. She slips the mask back on.

She takes a long bath to freshen up, dresses in her best black robes and arranges her hair in a complicated hairstyle she learnt from a witch in Zurich in time for Draco to carry out his promise.

But when they arrive at Hogwarts, their world is turned upside down. The quiet mourning she expects to see is replaced by Ministry officials shouting instructions at the panicked grievers, professors ushering students back to school and a riotous blur of screams and sobs. There are Aurors and Hit Wizards with their wands drawn and the sense that everything has gone completely and utterly wrong.

"Hermione," breathes Draco and he grabs Pansy by the hand to shove his way through the crowd. "I need to find Hermione."

She stumbles along in her heels, slipping in the wet grass, but Draco takes no heed of this. He surges through the chaos, yelling out Granger's name. His wand is in his free hand, pushing apart anyone in his way with quick flicks. A few cries of outrage sound amongst the urgent instructions. She realises with a sickening jolt of her stomach that they're moving against the crowd.

"Draco, please let me go," she says, pulling on his hand. Everything has gone completely and utterly wrong. She doesn't want to find out why.

"I need to find - Hermione!" His voice rings out in a sharp snap as the ex-Gryffindor stumbles into view. Angrily, he storms over to her, dragging Pansy along and then releases her hand to grab Granger by the shoulders. "What on earth are you doing here? I don't know what's going on, but you're always in the middle of anything that's gone wrong! You are so infuriating-"

Pansy steps back to make an escape when her blood runs cold and she suddenly forgets how to move. Crumpled in the grass with a ruby-studded hilt protruding out of its chest is a familiar body. The agonised face tilts toward her.

"Draco," Granger says breathlessly, almost in tears. "Theodore Nott has been murdered."


The murder of Theodore Nott shakes the foundations of her world. It remains the topic to discuss over afternoon tea - voices ring out in horror and dreadful excitement in the parlour room as everyone publicly sympathises with poor Mrs Nott. It grates on Pansy's ears like the discordant steel strings of a violin - she feels sick as she remembers a stroll through Hogsmeade, a slightly clammy hand loosely entwined with hers, the exhilaration that comes with one's first kiss.

Adrian Pucey is next. His body is found beaten black and blue in a dusty corner in Knockturn Alley, but it is not until Daphne Greengrass Apparates into St. Mungo's, robes torn, thick dark blood leaking out of every orifice - no, it is not until then that the wizarding world sinks into a frenzy.

Three murders. Three months. Three young Purebloods.

It is decided rather quickly. A significant number of Purebloods are evacuated to Ministry safehouses, the rest strengthen the centuries' worth of protection on their ancestral homes. A decree is sent out that every Pureblood family is to have at least one Auror or Hit Wizard acting as their bodyguard until further notice. Everyone is to keep their heads down - there will be no more Quidditch matches, no more afternoon teas or magnificent balls. They are to simply stay at home with their human shield.

"This is a bloody joke," grumbles her designated bodyguard, looking less than formidable as he moodily pushes the ice cream sundae around the bowl. She is vaguely amused at his antics. Isn't Ronald Weasley renowned for his bottomless stomach?

"Weasley, I assure you that this ice cream has been imported from-"

"Not that." He waves a hand impatiently. "I meant this entire thing is a joke."

"Two of my friends have been murdered," she says coldly. Her voice is the sharp flick of a knife intended to inflict pain and shame and guilt - it intends to bring him down a few notches. She speaks in a measured tone, controlled yet promises ruthlessness should she need it. "Daphne is currently comatose. I assure you that this is not a joke."

He has the decency to look abashed, she notes. Flushing, he says, "I don't mean it like that. Merlin, Parkinson, I'm not heartless...I just-" He breaks off, eyeing her. "No, you wouldn't understand."

She sneers. "I don't think you know me well enough to decide that."

An irritated hiss escapes his lips. "This is exactly what I meant! I should be out there tracking down the nutter doing all of this, but I'm stuck on bloody babysitting duty instead! I can hunt down Death Eaters, but I can't hunt down some - some…" He dissolves into grumbles. Words here and there reach her ears and she catches something about Potter.

Oddly enough, Pansy can't bring herself to be truly enraged about his attitude toward her. She's still curious, both fascinated and repulsed by the man in front of her with his stupid urges to look Death in the eye and his rude, unintelligible mutters about his lack of privileges (although honestly, he's not the one under lock and key seeing as how his blood traitor status is the most renowned in the world). It's as if he's one of those beasts from Care of Magical Creatures - after all, Hagrid was unnaturally fond of him.

"It's no picnic for me either," she says scathingly.

He narrows his eyes at her. She absently notes that they're cerulean blue, her favourite shade.

"Do us a favour and shut up, Parkinson," he suggests, the tips of his ears glowing molten red in his irritation. "I have good reason not to want to be here for God knows how long. A half hour at some stupid ball is nothing compared to this-"

"And what," she snaps before she can think about it, "is your brilliant reason, Weasley?"

His jaw sets. "You were ready to sacrifice my friends to Voldemort."

She can't control her flinch and he drinks this in with relish. She stares at him across the low parlour room table, the sound of her heart thundering furiously in her ears as she instructs herself to maintain composure, to not slip up for the likes of Weasley. The air grows heavier with anticipation as her vilest and greatest decision is brought to light once again to be picked apart mercilessly - she doesn't expect him to understand, the narrow-minded twit, but she assumed that he'd have more tact when they have months to spend in each other's company and-

Deliberately, she picks up a teaspoon of ice cream and inspects it.

"You were ready to sacrifice mine."


Another three months pass. At times it flies by like it was only yesterday when Ronald Weasley accompanied the Parkinsons back to their manor and she pointed out the dark smudge on his nose. And sometimes it feels like every second lasts a lifetime, every breath she takes is drawn out like a loose thread on the sleeve of a frayed robe, pulled and pulled on constantly - every tick, every tock on the clock jars in her head, regular ricochets that make her want to open her mouth and scream herself hoarse-

She misses Daphne.

She tells Ron this one night when he stumbles into the kitchen after a long day off duty (she is somewhat startled to discover she might have missed him though one glance at Matthew Proudfoot's retreating back explains it all). She doesn't know why she confides in him, especially since he's so clearly out of his depth if the way he freezes in his steps indicates anything. Perhaps it is because he's an Auror and his automatic response to reassure her that the murderer will be caught soon even as the recent addition to the death toll shines clearly in their minds. She needs the sure words, not the delighted macabre discussions, despite that it comes from a man who flushes uncomfortably at the prospect of comforting an emotional woman.

Luckily, Pansy is not emotional.

Not even when Giselle Montgomery is found with a broken neck on a pile of rocks at the bottom of the Fingle Bridge.

Not even when she walks in on Draco and Granger in his private library.

Not even when the Healers say that there's only a 20% chance of Daphne's recovery ever happening.

No, she is normal. Sometimes her interest piques as Ron enthusiastically speaks about something he's passionate about - chess, the Chudley Cannons, childhood stories - and sometimes she is more liable to follow in the footsteps of her father and sneer condescendingly at his idiocy which inevitably leads to a furious row. They are undeniably closer than what they were at the ball for they have no one else in the manor to be with, but are they friends? She is reluctant to give it that label - it makes them both feel trapped, cornered, stifled.

"For fuck's sake," he swears, snatching his hand back from the jagged cut of the broken glass. He examines the blood with a look of disgust. "Great. I've never been good at healing charms."

Today she is in one of her snarkier moods. Striding over, she sneers, "Aren't you supposed to be an Auror? Cutting yourself on glass, how pathe-"

"Shut up," he cuts across her roughly.

His pride is wounded and she regrets saying anything at all when she has to drag his hand closer just to heal the cut. When he finally concedes, he doesn't speak as she siphons off the blood and carefully retraces the cut. She is privately glad for it; she doesn't know how to explain her expertise at something she previously couldn't care less about.

For all of her expertise, she can't do anything when he is bedridden due to a Dark curse during another one of his days in the field and Proudfoot is a permanent fixture in their home. She loathes her anxiousness, covers it up with steady hands and a composed face, by keeping the same old lilt in her voice when she spends hours at a time in his room. Somehow she is left with the horrible impression that he sees through it - how can Weasley see through it - but he never points it out or begrudges her frequent presence.

Instead he comes to enjoy them. He quickly catches on that it is she who instructs the house elves to concoct his favourite breakfasts in the morning and therefore greets her with a grin so wide it makes her feel all funny inside and stays in a good mood for most of the day. They play wizards' chess (she never was fond of the game, but losing so horribly to him every single time makes her determined to destroy him at it one day) and she gives him a quick summary of whatever's in the newspaper since he abhors reading.

She spends so much time with him that she forgets to conjure up the boiling hatred from their Hogwarts days. It quickly reaches the point where her father tries to intervene, reminding her about where blood traitors lie in the hierarchy - she coolly responds that the new hierarchy clearly disagrees, especially when concerned with Ronald Weasley.


She isn't sure when she falls in love with Ronald Weasley or when it stops bothering her. All she knows is that she spends the last day of the year in his room rather than a ball and she wakes up a minute before midnight, her head on his shoulder. All she knows is that he's looking right at her with the shadow of something in his eyes that makes her breath hitch - and God, cerulean blue is her favourite colour and she can't bring herself to look away and then he kisses her softly on the lips and she's swept into 2004 in a rush of happiness.

He's stupid. His kisses are sometimes clumsy. He eats too much food and swears too many times in a sentence. He is, in other words, Ronald Weasley and she should despise him.

But she loves him.

She loves to count the freckles on his face as he sleeps away the curse. She likes the way his smile takes up his entire face. She likes the way he picks out the olives from his food and hands it to her simply because they're her favourites. For some wild reason, she even likes his thorough complaints at taking a photo together because his spluttering is highly amusing, if a little explosive.

She likes the way he makes her feel special. She is too busy feeling happy to feel numb. She likes that most of all.

"Checkmate," he says triumphantly.

She watches as her obsidian king throws down his sword and scrunches up her nose in disdain. Just once she'd like to win a game against Ron, but even her own pieces favour him better no matter how much she tries to bribe them with the prospect of an expensive board.

"You cheated," she accuses, banishing the set with a wave of her wand and curling back into his side. He's warm; she likes that. "There is no way you have won so many times without some extra help."

He shifts so that he can wrap an arm around her waist. Their legs automatically entwine, bare feet hooking at the ankles. A shiver ripples through him at the touch of her cold soles, but he keeps the complaint in his mouth.

"You're jealous," he simply says.

"Hardly," she scoffs. "I don't like losing, that's all."

"Well, I've never lost a game." There's no mistaking the pride in his voice at that. It's strange how he takes such pride in a little achievement and finds it hard to boast about his own actions in the war. At Hogwarts he would've gladly gloated about it, but the war changed him. It changed everyone.

"Yet."


Her mother finally confesses to Draco when Ron's no longer confined to his bed. She imagines that Mother tugged him aside when Pansy excused herself to the loo and informed him of Pansy's affection for the Auror. She wonders if she conveyed any of the disgust that she feels in regards to Ron's blood traitor ways or gloated that her daughter managed to snag one of the most influential people in the magical world without lowering herself to loving Mudbloods.

"Weasley?" Draco's disbelief is accompanied by the raise of his right eyebrow.

Pansy sighs in mild exasperation. Honestly, she rarely gets to see Draco anymore - his notorious status as an ex-Death Eater earned him the highest security the Ministry has to offer considering the situation - so why he would waste her weekly visit on something so trivial is beyond her.

"Yes."

"Weasley?" he repeats. Distaste marrs his sharp features. "Honestly, Pans, you could do far better than him. At least Hermione has brains."

Her voice is clipped. "Ron's street-smart. That's important with a job like his." When he opens his mouth to say something clever, she cuts across him, "Now, I don't want to hear another word about him. I know the two of you don't get along, but I'm invested in this so you'd do well to stay out of it."

His mouth closes in surprise before unfurling into a mischievous smirk. "Okay. I'll keep quiet. I promise."

Draco keeps to his promise as much as he physically can. Despite it, he takes great pleasure in pulling Ron aside to threaten him of the consequences of breaking Pansy's heart - she's not sure whether it works because the two of them spend most of the conversation aggravating each other instead.

Nevertheless, March still passes in a wonderful haze for her. She is caught up in the glory of their relationship, of knowing that someone out there wants her. Now that he's up and running, they can walk through the gardens together, fly in the slight spring breeze and wander through the Manor together.

April isn't as blissful. Ron spends more days in the field especially after Marcus Flint's decapitated body is found near the mountains, puts all of his energy into tracking down the serial killer. She worries when he is away, feels slightly lost without his wide smile to distract her from the emptiness that threatens to swallow her whole.

But he's still here. He still makes sure to pop into her room even if it's simply to press a goodnight kiss against her forehead. He still comes back each day he's away.

Then May 2nd arrives.


"They've decided to go ahead with the Memorial Day event," Ron informs her the night before the anniversary. "We're putting up all of the defensive and protective spells we know, doing security checks with everyone who comes, have all of our best men on the scene. The students will be in an area that has even more protection on it - I'd like to see any serial killer try to get to them."

When she puts on her best black robes the next day, she feels an itch to hitch them up and draw patterns on her thighs once again, just like last year. Then she catches sight of the framed photograph on her bedside table and she suppresses the urge, turns on her heels and hurries out of the room.

She meets her parents in the foyer where they stand with Proudfoot and listens to him relay the instructions they've been given, but isn't too worried: she has Ron by her side so she'll be fine. This year will be better. There will be no attacks or chaos.

How very wrong she is.

It is May 2nd. The date that so many innocent lives were lost. It is the perfect date to kill the man who tried to murder Dumbledore.

By the time she reaches Draco, he is in a pool of his own blood, Granger sobbing beside him. Shefrantically shreds his robes, her wand shaking dangerously in her hand as she tries to heal the wounds and Draco's breath is jagged, his voice hoarse and passionate, vowing that he loves Granger, he will always love Granger even if he bloody dies today.

Pansy is suddenly struck by the fact that she and Ron have never confessed such a thing - but there is no time to think. Ron tears himself from her side, shouting something to his colleagues about the Forbidden Forest and she pushes Granger aside, ignoring her defiant, hysterical shrieks.

"Don't - no, let me - Parkinson-" Her protests are punctuated by shuddering gasps.

"You'll do more harm than good in this state," Pansy snaps, shoving her back once again. She extracts her wand and points it at his wounds, praying that she can do this, that she can save him.


Padma Patil.

The killer is Padma Patil.

Pansy vaguely remembers her - the image she conjures in her mind is one of brown doe-like eyes, a long black braid and the annoying jingle of bangles - but none of these memories hint at the more murderous aspects of her personality. The Padma Patil she knew and scorned was the type to devour books and humour her sister's fortune-telling, not hunt down Purebloods.

She learns that the former Ravenclaw acted out of hatred and revenge. She was nothing more than an insignificant blot on the bloody pages of the War, thanked by the Ministry for her valiant fighting in the Battle of Hogwarts and then cast aside in the effort to rebuild. Now she's a dark mark in the passages of the recovery of the magical world, a person who lost her Mudblood lover to the Death Eaters and her sister to suicide and was cast off the edge of sanity because of it.

"I lost the most important girls in my life," The Daily Prophet claims she said. "I don't see why they shouldn't pay for that."

Pansy is both intrigued and horrified by the notion - she cannot picture anyone systematically murdering anyone on her behalf, wonders whether Patil's dreadful late sister was touched or reviled by her twin's actions, wonders whether Padma cares.

But there is no time to ponder over useless things. There are more pressing issues: Draco is in St. Mungo's, Daphne's condition has deteriorated even further, Mother is milking Pansy's role as the heroine for all its worth at her beloved afternoon teas and she hasn't seen Ronald Weasley in days.

Eight to be precise.

The knowledge scares her. She forgot that their relationship is one that flourished in the Manor, one that they never discussed the future of, that seemed natural to exist in the calmness of his room as they egged on their chess pieces to fight to the death, but foreign outside. She forgot that Ron Weasley will not always be in the Manor to distract her from wanting to trace crimson lines on her legs and fill the gaping hole in her chest with something - anything - and she had forgotten one very important thing.

That she was ready to give his best friend up to Voldemort.

So when he visits to inform her that they should probably stop seeing each other, a pained grimace is on his lips, her heart shatters into pieces.

"But I - I thought…" Words have failed her for once in her life. "Why? Why after all this time? I thought you liked this, I thought you-"

There is a shadow of regret in his eyes and a distinctly uncomfortable set to his jaw as he swallows. "Pansy...I-I enjoyed this, I honestly did, but...we don't work. It was never going to work out - we're from two different worlds." He fumbles over his words. "Merlin, if it wasn't for Patil, we wouldn't even be together-"

"But we are," she says.

There's no mistaking the pool of pity in his irises. "No, we're not."


She feels empty. Drained of the swooping joy in her stomach that Ron brought about so easily. It's as if she was on top of Cloud Nine and is suddenly weighed down by boulders attached to her feet, dragging her into the depths of her misery.

Father is pleased, Mother disappointed.

Pansy just aches.

She didn't realise how much faith she had in him. It never occurred to her that perhaps it was strange that her happiness depended on him so heavily, that she grew so accustomed to him in six months and within a couple of them, she could've told him that she loved him and meant it. It never seemed unhealthy.

He was - he is so different from the Purebloods of her world. He never smiles unless he means it, never pretends to like someone just in case they might be of use later. He never wears Italian silk or taffeta, never delights in gossip over afternoon teas and only goes to Quidditch matches because he genuinely likes them, not to pass around cigars and criticise the world.

She misses him so much.

She never shows it.

She slips on her expensive clothes and attends all of these Quidditch matches, all of Granger's charity events, all of the balls hosted by her mother's "friends". She socialises with the guests, expresses her relief that that dreadful Patil girl is in Azkaban as expected, dances with strangers and then slips away into the shadows to observe. She watches Astoria Greengrass in the arms of her dance partner, her icy robes as cold as her expression, giving nothing away about the pain of her sister's condition. She watches Draco shamelessly pull Granger into his arms, wincing as her elbow hits his stomach and laugh as she hurriedly apologises.

And she watches Ron sit next to his best mate at a table, eyes occasionally flickering over in her direction, refusing to give in as the months go on.


She never intends for Draco to find out.

He'd reassured her multiple times that he was plotting ways to punish Weasley for breaking her heart, amusing her with ridiculous suggestions and elaborate plans that would never work out. She'd informed him that she was fine, that perhaps they weren't supposed to work out.

"You're far better than him anyway," he says gently before he leaves one evening. "One day you're going to find someone like I have Hermione. Is that clear?"

"Crystal," she responds with a sad smile.

She's not better than Ron. No, it's the other way round. She knows this like she knows the back of her hand. Because Pansy is poison - she is deceptive, a lethal concoction wrapped up in Italian silk bows until she attacks the system, consuming and suffocating, wrapping around the throat like a noose. She's too destructive to make someone happy like Granger makes Draco happy.

It's all she can think when his departure after another quick visit, one where his sole goal was to personally deliver the ivory card embroidered with ribbons of gold.

You are hereby invited to celebrate the engagement of

DRACO ABRAXAS MALFOY and HERMIONE JEAN GRANGER

on Saturday 1st December

at Malfoy Manor

She gazes at the gloating reminder that she will never be good enough for anyone with slightly glassy eyes, hates that she is not wanted by anyone - never pretty enough, never smart enough, never brave enough.

When her hand extends, it only trembles slightly. She turns the card onto its front so the curling script can no longer be seen and then turns her eyes to the single most painful object in her room: the photograph she took all those months ago. In the photo, she's curled up beside Ron, a genuine smile on her face as Ron grumbles and glowers at the camera, the tips of his ears flushed with embarrassment. The photo Pansy laughs and presses a kiss to his cheek, causing him to flush even more.

The pieces of her heart shatter again.

So she slips off her robes, curls up in bed and bares her legs. She marvels at how wonderful magic is, how it can inflict the pain necessary to distract herself and then wipe away all traces in no time at all. And then she lowers her wand and cuts open her skin with a sharp swipe. Over and over again. Over and over and over-

The door slams open, Draco unceremoniously barging in. "Sorry for the interruption, Pans, but I left my-" He trails off.

It's as if they're frozen in time. She stares at him in shock, finally caught in the terrible act, sheets stained red, blood trickling down her creamy thighs, wand still pressed against her skin. He stares back, just as horrified.

"What the hell, Pansy?" he breathes.

And just like that, a tear slides down her cheek.


Rain has been falling for the better part of the day. The torrents still fall, a flood from the stormy skies, drowning the grounds in fierce tears. She registers it over the roar of blood in her ears, hardly believing the sight before her eyes because surely-

Surely Ron Weasley can't be on her doorstep begging to come inside?

"Are you insane?" She finds her voice and is relieved to hear that it is steady, indifferent even. "I don't know what you're doing here, Ron."

He takes a step closer, dripping water all over the welcome mat in a manner that would give her father a heart attack, shivering from the iciness that pours down. "You know why I'm here. Malfoy told me."

It is as she feared. Yesterday Draco let her confess her deepest, darkest secrets about the gaping hole in her heart that was born out a combination of the trials of being the perfect Pureblood daughter and being rejected by the very people she tried to save. She admitted to her jealousy of Draco's happiness with Granger and the unlikely pair fashioned out of two opposites. She told him her worries about Astoria Greengrass' confession that Daphne would be cut off from her support if she didn't improve by the end of the year. He listened and then he left once he was sure she was okay.

Apparently, he went directly to Ron.

"It makes no difference," she says, looking away from him. "It's been a long six months, Ron. You clearly didn't want this."

"I can explain," he insists, taking another step forward. "I swear to Merlin that I can explain if you'd just let me come inside."

She wants to say no. Instead she steps back to let him in.

As soon as he's out of the rain, he looks at her as if he wants to hold her in his arms forever. She knows that if he did, she would gladly let him so she takes another cautious step back and waits for him to follow through.

"I'm sorry, Pansy," he says in a low voice. It's rough with emotion, everything a usual Pureblood's voice is not. It's as if all of the regret she thought she saw simmering in his eyes every single time she saw him drips from each word like the sweetest nectar or the deadliest poison. "I didn't think - I didn't think I meant that much to you."

The statement fires something up in her. "Oh, so I assume you thought I sleep with all of my guests, did you? That when you weren't here, I fooled around with Proudfoot?"

"Of course I didn't!" he snaps, affronted. "I knew you were faithful, but I didn't know that you were so - so invested in our relationship, did I?"

"Well then, you're far more stupid than I thought!" she shoots back.

He flushes red. Turning his head away from her, she watches him struggle to keep his temper in check, no doubt believing her to be vulnerable and helpless in her state of mind.

"Just leave, Ron," she says, more wearily than she intends. Her voice trails off into a sigh. "I should've stopped the wards from recognising you months ago."

He looks back at her in determination. "Well, you didn't. And I know why you didn't. It's because you like me-"

"Oh, really, I never would've guessed."

"-and you wanted me to come back. I'm so sorry for- for breaking your heart and making you feel unwanted - and I know that I'm not brilliant at talking about feelings and stuff, but - I want to… I want you to know that it wasn't only because of you that I left. It wasn't your fault, really."

It's as if Pansy is made of frayed thread and Ron has latched onto one of the ends to tug on it. She hasn't spoken to him in months, has simply missed him from a distance and with everything that happened with Draco yesterday, she's not sure whether she can cope with much more. Her head spins.

"Then why did you leave?" she asks quietly.

"I was scared," he says finally, looking down at the ground as he speaks. He stuffs his hands in pockets and scuffs his shoes against the floor like a teenage boy. "Too afraid to tell you what I want."

She knows she is testing fate when she prompts, "And what is that?"

Even though he is steadily flushing pinker by the second, he looks her directly in the eyes, cerulean blue burning into dark brown as he simply says, "You."

She reels back. "What?"

She is sure she heard wrong - because she is the girl that was ready to surrender his best friend to the Dark Lord and the girl that helped Draco Malfoy torment his childhood sweetheart and the girl that no one has ever truly wanted so how is it possible that he can want her when there is so much more out there?

"I want you, Pansy," he says. "I want you in the good days as well as the bad and I think I'll want you forever, no matter how long I have to wait until you forgive me. I know that I'm not the best bloke around, but...I promise that I'll treat you right. I won't walk away again, not like in May - Merlin, I must've lost my mind when I left you all alone."

He looks at her expectantly, still pulling on that piece of thread, watching her fall apart at the seams with an expression that she can't quite name.

"I don't want your pity," she says, shaking her head. "I know that you feel guilty, but I can assure you that whatever Draco told you, I have felt this way for years and you do not get to believe that you can effect me this badly. I will admit that you made everything feel better for the few months we were together...but you are not the reason I lock myself in my room."

His eyes are wide. He takes a step forward. "I know that. I also know that I broke your heart; I can put it back together if you'll let me."

She isn't sure why she shakes her head. Perhaps because she is still unravelling in his hands and she has the strangest sense that they are something akin to a moth and a flame, a devastating twist of fate.

"It's too late now."

"No, it's not." His voice rises again, but he's not angry. "Don't you remember what it was like? Waking up every morning knowing that you were going to spend the day with me, the way you tried to bribe the chess pieces into winning for you and failed every time, the times we'd just lay in bed? The food we had imported from God knows where in the world and how you nagged me to listen to you read the Prophet? And that photo - don't you remember that photo you took where you kept kissing me on the cheek because I didn't want to take the bloody thing?"

"Of course, I remember!" she exclaims as he takes another dangerous step toward her. "But I don't want to get hurt again." She knows that if she lets him fill the hole in her heart only to have him desert her, she will crash and never resurface. It's a foolish risk to take.

"I won't do that this time," he vows.

"Don't make promises you can't keep," she whispers.

The air is heavy with anticipation. Electricity wraps around the two of them, pulling them closer until only inches distance them from each other. They're on the edge of the unknown, tottering on a cliffside with an immeasurable distance to fall. She feels as if she is almost at the end of the thread, about to become a mess in his old, shockingly orange Chudley Cannons t-shirt.

"I don't like being scared," he admits. She almost snorts - what a typical Gryffindor. "I can hunt down all the bloody Death Eaters in the world, but apparently it takes a lot more to face you, Pansy Parkinson." She stays silent. "I'm tired of hiding, tired of missing you. If you give me the chance, I swear on my life that I'll make it up to you."

"How?"

He shrugs slightly. "I don't know. First off, I think it shouldn't be like last time. As brilliant as it was, maybe it's time to - to let the world know that we're together. No more shadows, Pansy, I'm sick and tired of them. If Malfoy and 'Mione can do it, we can too."

She doesn't know what to think. The entire notion is surreal, something out of a fairy tale or an impossible dream. Her head spins with the effort to stay composed, to stay in control.

"What do you say?"

Pansy Parkinson looks at the man who has turned her entire life upside down for over a year with his wide smile and cerulean blue eyes and utter disgrace for Pureblood society - and she feels the last of the thread unwind as she falls apart in front of him.

She falls out of the shadows and into his arms. Forever.