Survival Techniques

Pairing: Parkweasel (Pansy Parkinson x Percy Weasley), background Nottgrass (Theo Nott x Daphne Greengrass)

Universe: Post-War, EWE

Rating: M for language, sex

Summary: Beds are cold in the winter; Pansy needs someone to fill hers. Inspired by an advent edit by aurorarsinistra.


I. (Need)

"You know what I need?" Pansy prompts, contemplating her glass of Ogden's before raising it to her lips. "A winter boyfriend."

"What?" Daphne asks, making a face. "You mean a snowman?"

"No. A winter boyfriend. You know," Pansy says emphatically, "a boyfriend to sleep with while it's cold and fuck through the major commercial holidays, but immediately break up with as soon as the snow melts."

"That," Daphne says, chewing the thought slowly, "doesn't really make sense."

"Beds are cold in the winter," Pansy replies smartly. "It's a survival technique."

"Well, fine," Daphne says, shrugging. "Have someone in mind?"

At that, Pansy sets down her now-empty glass, scanning the room for prospects.

It's discouraging right from the start; the one in the corner, just within her periphery, is far too short. His friend, who wanders over by the bar, is much too loud.

The one leaning against the opposite wall is promising for a second, but his hair is too long, and not in a sexy way.

The one glancing listlessly around the room looks too much like her ex.

One man shifts, though, and his motion catches her eye. He looks like he's here after work, too, which is promising—because it means that he works, and that's never (rarely) a bad thing. From where she sits she can see his tailored dress shirt, the slim cut of his trousers. He's lean and tall, which isn't exactly outside her usual taste, but she can see the light glinting from the corner of a pair of tortoiseshell glasses, which is considerably less her style. If they're for fashion, that's no good, but he doesn't look fashionable, per se.

She suspects, approvingly, that he probably needs the glasses to see.

"What about him?" she asks, nudging Daphne, and Daphne cocks her head, considering it.

"Can't see his face," she notes. "Red hair, though."

"Is it? Looks darker."

"Auburn?"

"Does it matter?"

"Kind of."

"Hm." Pansy considers it, watching him order. He does it smoothly, the bills tucked between his fingers and in towards his palm, flashing it just long enough for the bartender to see and take his offer seriously. He takes his whisky straight, she notes; she watches him tuck his wallet back into his pocket and raise the glass to his lips with a quiet, unassuming motion.

She still can't quite see his face.

But by now, she's willing to risk it.

"Be right back," she tells Daphne.

"Sure you will," Daphne replies spiritedly, toasting her as she goes.

Pansy checks her hair, refreshing the waves with a twist around her finger, and adjusts her cleavage. Then she taps him on the shoulder.

"Excuse me," she begins sweetly, and he turns.

"Oh," she says, blinking.

"Oh," Percy Weasley agrees, and she regrets every moment of her life that's led to the horrendous now.


II. (Mistaken)

"Sorry," she says bluntly, "I just thought—"

thought you were someone else, she wants to say, but he barely blinks, almost as though he knows the sentence is actually meant to end with I thought you were hot from far away, but now that I'm here, I'm fully aware this can't happen; but just so you know, you're unexpectedly hot up close, too, and it's only that I'm so fucking repulsed by the entire prospect of who you are that I need to bail immediately.

"Right," he says, a bit clipped.

"Right," she agrees. "So, anyway, sorry about that, I was—"

"Would you like a drink?" he interrupts.

No, she wants to say.

No, she should say.

"Are you paying?" she asks bluntly.

He nudges his glasses further up his nose.

"That was implied," he says.

"Fine," she says. "I'll have an Ogden's."

He flags the bartender down with a sly motion, as though in the last five minutes the two have established some kind of code. The bartender nods, the transaction appears to be complete, and then Percy motherfucking Weasley hands Pansy her glass.

"Want to sit?" he asks.

She glances around apprehensively (someone might see, after all), but over at her table she can see that Theo's here now, and Daphne's nuzzling his neck in greeting.

Her stomach turns.

"Fine," she permits. "But somewhere else."

He gestures to the bar's patio. "Outside?"

She shrugs. "Fine."

It's a nice night, and they settle in at one of the highboys. She crosses one leg over the other, wondering what they could possibly have to say to one another.

He sips his whisky.

She watches his mouth, briefly.

Then she watches the way his fingers curl around his glass.

His nails are trim but neat. The fingers themselves are long, narrow, ink-stained. He's wearing a battered watch, but it's tasteful. Nothing ostentatious. In fact, there's nothing all that ostentatious about him. His color palette is subdued. His nature, in fact, is subdued. He doesn't seem nervous. He doesn't seem much of anything.

"I'm just staying until the bottom of the glass," she says. Obnoxiously.

He nods curtly. "Likewise."

She blinks, but tries not to betray her surprise.

"So," she attempts. She's a little frustrated that she's the one who loses the battle against silence, but he seems like he might not speak if she doesn't, and she's never been comfortable without some tangible shield of flirtation. "What are you here for?"

"A meeting." He takes a sip. "It went well."

"Oh."

"And you?"

"Sex," she says, with a carefully cultivated boldness.

His gaze cuts sideways.

"Are you implying—"

"Not with you," she assures him bluntly, pointedly raising her glass. "We're just having a drink."

He nods.

They both take a sip.

"What kind of knickers are you wearing?" he asks neutrally, and she promptly chokes, sputtering on a too-large swallow.

"What?" she manages, coughing.

"Lace?" he guesses, his gaze flicking over her. "I'd guess lace. Silk, maybe? Seems impractical, but if you're here for sex—" he trails off, shrugging. "I don't take you for the cotton type, but I suspect you could be surprising."

She, meanwhile, suspects that he's fucking with her.

"They're lace," she admits, crossing her legs a little tighter.

He eyes the liquid in his glass.

"What color?" he asks.

She straightens. "Black," she lies, with confidence.

He chuckles, leaning towards her.

"Liar," he says.

She blinks.

"What color are they, then?" she prompts, and he leans down, adjusting the laces of his oxfords and seeming to consider the air between them before pausing, his voice low.

"They're green," he says, and to her utter displeasure, she shivers. "With pale pink embroidery. Excellent taste," he determines, now leaning away from her and settling back in against the chair. "I think black would have been rather overdone."

She knows he can't see them, but that's much too specific to be a guess.

"Did you just use legilimency on me?" she demands, and he shrugs.

"I'm a very talented wizard," he informs her.

"Fine," she growls, glaring at him. "Then tell me what I'm thinking now."

He shakes his head.

"No," he says without elaboration, and then he adds, "Why don't you tell me what I'm thinking instead?"

She frowns.

She doesn't want to, but also, she really, really wants to.

She forces indifference.

"It's dirty, isn't it?" she guesses dully, and he shrugs.

"Your friend over there," he says, aiming his chin over his shoulder to reference where Daphne and Theo remain inside the bar. "From where she's sitting, she wouldn't see if I were to—" he pauses, his fingertips brushing her knee. "May I?" he asks, and for reasons she cannot possibly fathom, Pansy uncrosses her legs at his prompting. "From where she's sitting," he continues, his fingers drawing up the inside of her knee and pausing at the midpoint of her inner thigh, "she wouldn't be able to see this. Or this," he adds, as Pansy swallows and lets him part her knees further, his fingers now brushing the curve of her thigh. "I could keep going," he adds, raising his glass to his lips with his free hand, "but I think you see my point."

He withdraws his hand and Pansy exhales sharply.

"But," he says, "seeing as I've reached the bottom of my glass—" He drains it, pointedly setting it down on the table. "I think my time here is done."

Pansy stares at him.

And stares.

"Are you serious?" she demands.

He rises to his feet.

"Would you like to continue?" he asks.

She bites her lip.

Bites it hard.

"No," she says, rightfully. "This can't go anywhere."

"Yes, I agree," he says with a nod. "Seems foolish to pursue it."

"Glad we're on the same page," she says coolly, and he nods, already looking over his shoulder and preparing to leave.

"But," Pansy attempts, her throat suddenly quite dry. "If you were to, um, finish what you started, I guess I'm just curious—"

He steps a little closer, digging a business card out of the inner lining of his pocket and handing it to her. He catches her wrist loosely as she accepts it.

"I'd have liked to keep going," he says, "but tonight's not the night."

When he releases her, she glances down at the card.

Percy Weasley
Office of the Minister

"It's enchanted," he says. "Use it for access to my Floo, if you wish."

She looks up at him, surprised.

"My office Floo," he clarifies, biting back a chuckle. "So don't do anything too drastic."

"I'm not actually going to use this," she reminds him.

He shrugs.

"Goodnight, Miss Parkinson," he says, leaving her behind with his empty glass.


III. (Ambition)

RSVPing to Daphne's engagement party with a plus one a month ago was not one of Pansy's best ideas.

"A little ambitious," Daphne agrees gently.

Pansy sighs.

"Draco will be there," Daphne reminds her quietly.

"I know," Pansy half-moans, wanting to die. "I can't go alone."

Daphne hesitates. "Well—" she says, and her gaze flicks to where Percy Weasley's card sits on Pansy's dresser, untouched for the past two weeks.

"No," Pansy grumbles instantly. "That's much worse."

"Pans," Daphne attempts, in a voice that Pansy knows contains bad news.

She sighs.

"Draco won't be alone, will he?" Pansy guesses, and Daphne winces in answer.

Of course he has a date.

Of course he has a date.

Pansy picks up the card.

"Fine," she exhales grumpily, heading towards her Floo.

When she walks into Percy Weasley's office, he's still working. He glances up at her and she comes to a halt, freezing in place while he adjusts his glasses.

"Yes?" he says.

"I," she begins, and can't quite cough it out of her throat. "What are you," she sputters instead, "some sort of secretary?"

He blinks.

"Undersecretary," he says. "To the Minister."

"Oh." She chews her response. "Is that prestigious?"

His mouth barely quirks, in the subtlest possible indication of amusement.

"To some," he permits. "But I don't think you're here for my prestige."

Her mouth falls open, and then snaps shut.

"What do you do?" he asks.

"Go to parties," she hurls back, daring him to mock her.

He rises to his feet, declining the opening.

"You need something," he notes, almost as if he's guessing.

"Is that legilimency?" she sniffs.

His mouth twitches. "Observation," he corrects. "Of course, my perception of social behaviors is often rather flawed, so—"

"I need a date," she confirms. "An engagement party for my friend Daphne."

She pauses, and he waits.

"Tomorrow night," she clarifies.

His brows arch, surprised.

"Tomorrow night," he echoes, stepping around his desk. "Rather last minute."

"I know." She stiffens, unapologetic. "So, will you go or not?"

"Depends," he says, taking a step towards her, and then another.

He brings them face to face and tilts his head down, considering her.

"Ask me nicely," he says.

She rolls her eyes.

"Please, then," she says.

He steps closer.

He smells clean, like a sea breeze, and—very much against her will—she glimpses a comparable blue in his eyes.

"Ask me," he murmurs, "nicely."

She swallows.

"Will you please go with me?" she asks. "I need your help. I—" she exhales. "I need you to say yes."

He lets a beat of silence pass.

Then—

"Dress robes?" he asks.

She exhales the breath she didn't know she was holding.

"Yes," she says.

"Will black and white robes be acceptable?" he prompts.

"Yes."

"And you will be wearing—?"

"Green," she says, and feels her cheeks flush hot at the memory when she meets his eye.

He half-smiles. "And I will be your—?"

"Boyfriend," she supplies, flinching. "If you can stand the lie."

He glances down, eyeing her hand, and then he reaches for it. He holds it to his lips, brushing them slowly, tenderly (agonizingly) across her knuckles, the whole of it more breath than contact.

"Very well, Miss Parkinson," he says, half-bruising her with the impact.


IV. (Convenience)

In the end, she spends the entire night avoiding Draco.

"There you are," Percy says quietly, rounding the corner to where she's pressed flat against the corridor wall, wishing to dissolve into it. "You know, if you want to leave—"

"I can't leave," she snaps. "He's—" she withers. "He'll see."

Percy says nothing.

"It's just hard," she manages after a few beats of silence, "because it used to be the four of us. You know? Since we were kids. But now Daphne and Theo are getting married, and Draco has something real, and I," she concludes, swallowing. "I have—"

"Me?" Percy prompts, with a faint air of self-deprecation.

She sighs.

"I just meant," Pansy amends, "that he has someone he cares about, and who cares about him, and you're—"

"Convenient," Percy replies.

"Yes," Pansy concedes miserably. "You're here because I begged."

Percy pauses.

"No," he says. "I'm here because I wanted to be." He pauses again, sipping his glass of wine. "Though, coincidentally, I did enjoy hearing you say please."

She sighs again. Less sulkily this time, or so she intends.

"Sorry I keep ditching you," she exhales. "I really just—"

She breaks off, recognizing Draco's voice, and feels the blood drain from her face as she recognizes a woman's voice with him.

"I," she attempts helplessly, their footsteps growing louder, and Percy glances down at her.

"Close your eyes," he says.

"Wh-"

"Close them," he murmurs, and places his hands on her hips, aligning them with his.

She obeys, and she feels his lips brush her cheeks, first, and then her nose, and then each of her eyelids, Draco's voice coming closer.

"Relax," Percy says, and draws her chin up, his lips meeting hers.

She gasps, her eyes fluttering open.

Percy's eyes float shut.

She deepens the kiss, pulling him towards her, and she briefly registers the sound of Draco's footfall coming to a halt as Percy yanks her dress up, sliding his palm against the outside of her thigh and fitting himself between her legs.

The footfall resumes, the echo of it fading in the opposite direction, and only then does Percy lean away.

Pansy, lamenting the loss of him, tangles her fingers in the hair at the nape of his neck. He matches the pressure with his fingertips, digging them into her waist.

"Don't stop," she whispers.

He looks her in the eye, gauging the truth of it.

Then he apparates them away.


V. (Pillowtalk)

"God, I love your pussy, Pansy, your cunt is so fucking wet, so fucking wet for me. Could fuck you like this all night, all fucking night, Pansy, fuck, you're so good. You're so good. You're so fucking hot, Pansy. You're so beautiful. You're so fucking beautiful and you feel so good, so fucking good, fuck. Do you like that, Pansy? Like it when I fuck you like this? You want it harder, Pansy? Deeper? Tell me. I want to watch you, want to see your face when I make you come. You're so fucking hot, Pansy, fuck—come on, come for me, baby—"

She comes so hard she can't see.

"Fuck," she whispers, shuddering hard, and he pauses, brushing her sweat-slicked hair back from her eyes and staring intently, voraciously, at her face.

"You're so fucking gorgeous when you come," he says without hesitation, and for some reason, she believes him.


VI. (Pretense)

She isn't sure what to make of their night together, so she decides to make it nothing.

Three days go by.

Then he shows up in her bedroom Floo.

"Are you still my girlfriend?" he asks simply, and she frowns.

"That was just—"

"Pretense, yes," he agrees. "But are you able to continue?"

She thinks about it.

"It won't be pleasant," he says, in a tone that suggests she really shouldn't ask.

"Maybe if you ask nicely," she sniffs, and he steps towards her, backing her against her bed and throwing an arm around her just before she falls back onto it, lowering her carefully near the edge.

"Very well," he says, and lowers himself to his knees, his hands tracing the inside of her thigh.

"Please," he says, sliding her skirt up. "Will you"—to the curve of her thigh—"accompany me"—his breath against the cotton of her knickers—"to a family dinner"—she stiffens at that, but his tongue darts against her clit, brushing it through the fabric—"please?"

"You said please twice," she informs him, inhaling sharply as he nudges the fabric inside and buries his fingers inside her, his tongue sliding against her knickers once again.

"I'm asking you very nicely," he murmurs to the lips of her cunt, chastely kissing them through the fabric, and she foolishly murmurs something like agreement, letting him lay her back against the bed.


VII. (Indignation)

"Oh, right, almost forgot Perce was here. No use making jokes, is there?"

Pansy watches Percy swallow, eyeing his plate as he methodically flexes his fingers.

It's been several hours of this already, with only brief intermissions.

"Oh, you know how serious Percy is. Always so terribly caught up in things, isn't he?"

"No, Mum, the de-gnoming situation in the garden is serious. Excessive taxation is serious. Overpopulation of the planet is serious. Percy, on the other hand, is bloody funereal."

"Remember the time he tried to convince us that bureaucracy was actually some sort of beautiful, ingenious thing? Honestly, we can do magic and it's paperwork he loves—"

"Stop it," Pansy erupts without warning, slamming her fork down against the table and startling everyone into silence. "First of all," she announces, catching the motion of Percy's gaze dropping apprehensively to the table and ignoring it entirely, "he doesn't love the bureaucracy itself, you twits. He enjoys the satisfaction of his work, which is something none of you blithering idiots can say—joke shop owner, low-level meter maid, professional ball juggler," she accuses hotly, pointing a declaratory finger at each of the stunned freckled morons. "Secondly, he manages to be far more interesting than all of you combined, and he doesn't have to stoop to idiotic puns and tasteless sarcasm to do it."

She throws her napkin down, glaring over at the Weasley matriarch.

"And as for you," she snaps at Molly Weasley, "if you didn't plan to love all your children equally, then you shouldn't have had so many. And THANK YOU FOR DINNER, IT WAS LOVELY," she finishes, kicking her chair back and heading for the Floo.

She grimaces when she hears footsteps following behind her; hears her mother's voice in her head—behave, Pansy, hold your tongue!—and curls her fingernails anxiously into her palm, flinching at the pathetically delayed input from her better judgment. This was his family, after all; he had wanted her to make things easier, to help him simply blend in, and what has she done instead?

"I'm sorry," she sighs without turning. "I know I shouldn't have lost my temper, but—"

"Thank you."

She blinks, turning to face him.

"What?" she asks, bewildered, as Percy takes a series of slow, prowling steps towards her.

"I said," he repeats, backing her against the mantle of the fireplace, "thank you."

His hand slips under her skirt, startling her into a gasp as he kisses her.

"What are you—"

He catches her sheepish mewl of pleasure on his tongue, pressing himself against her.

"Quiet," he murmurs, "or my family will hear you."

She pauses for a moment, utterly confounded, and draws back to look at him. His mouth, bitten and red from her kiss, twists up wryly in what appears to be softened amusement, and in a moment of devious recognition, Pansy feels her own lips curl up in a matching smile.

"Oh god," she says loudly, tugging him closer. "OH, PERCY, YES—"

He growls his approval into her neck, drawing one of her legs over his hip as she fumbles with his belt, half-laughing into his mouth.

"OH, YES, RIGHT THERE—"

"There?" he murmurs with a chuckle, and despite the theatricality of the entire situation, she still can't help a moan of approval.

"PERCY, YOUR DICK, IT'S HU-"

"Too much," he cuts in gruffly, and she giggles as he digs his nails into the skin of her thigh.

"Sorry," she whispers insincerely, letting her head fall back with a groan.


VIII. (Defense)

"So," Daphne says neutrally. "Do you like him, then?"

"I told you," Pansy grunts impatiently, "I just need a boyfriend through the winter, and he's a genuinely good fuck. It's not like it's going to last."

"But you're seeing him tonight," Daphne muses. "Even though you saw him last night?"

"I'm sure the effect will wear off shortly," Pansy airily remarks, holding up a pair of black stilettos and looking to Daphne for approval. "Hey, do these say 'authority' to you?"

"They say 'sex,' I think," Daphne supplies.

"That works too," Pansy determines, nodding with approval.


IX. (Roleplay)

"The Minister will see you now," Pansy calls, legs crossed expectantly from where she sits behind his desk.

He opens the door slowly, nodding slyly as he looks at her.

"Madame Minister," he opens, inclining his head.

"Mr Weasley," she returns primly. "Is there something you needed?"

"I brought you the forms you requested," he replies, with practiced solemnity.

"Bring them to me."

He steps forward, slowly running his thumb along the line of his lower lip.

"WW-426," he begins, setting it down on her desk. "Signed and dated, just as you asked—"

"And the others?" Pansy prompts. "Is everything as I requested it?"

"I don't know what you mean, Madame Minister," he replies coolly, watching her as she rises to her feet, stepping around the desk to reach him. "What else did you ask for?"

"I asked," Pansy says, sliding her hand down the front of his trousers, "for you to make sure I was satisfied in every way. And do I look—" she trails off, rubbing her palm against the stiff head of his cock. "Satisfied, Mr Weasley?"

He inhales sharply, shifting against her hand.

"Ah-ah," she warns, shaking her head. "I didn't say you could move, Mr Weasley. Did I?"

"I don't think I can satisfy you very well without some degree of motion, Madame Minister," he replies, his gaze dropping to her bare chest and sliding, with some degree of restraint, down the lines of her torso, falling to her stiletto heels and dragging approvingly back up. "Perhaps if you were to give me some instruction?"

She grabs hold of his tie, yanking him towards her.

"Fuck me on my desk, Mr Weasley," she instructs him, "and do it well, or you'll be fired for your incompetence."

He picks her up without a word, clearing the desk of its papers and setting her down on top of it with his arm wrapped tight around her ribs.

"You know," he murmurs in her ear, "I'm aware this is your fantasy, but I think I'm quite enjoying it myself."

"Did I say you could speak, Mr Weasley?" Pansy prompts, pulling the tie from around his neck and letting it drop to the floor as she lays herself back against the desk. "I believe your instructions were to satisfy me, not bore me."

He yanks her hips towards him, smiling darkly.

"I suppose you don't want me to tell you how hard I'm going to fuck you, then?" he prompts neutrally. "And I probably shouldn't say anything about how wet I'm going to make you, or how much you're going to beg for me—"

"Put your dick in me," Pansy pants, wrapping her legs around his hips, "or you're fired."

He smiles.

She knows he is going to toy with her when it's his turn; but that, she supposes, is the benefit of going first.

It's not currently her problem.

"Yes ma'am," he permits, just before impressively fucking himself straight to an imaginary raise.


X. (Roleplay, Part II)

"Miss Parkinson," he says, making a soft tutting sound. "Out of bed this late, are you?"

"I'm just going to meet my boyfriend," she replies, which is improvised, but he doesn't seem opposed. "Please don't tell the headmaster."

"Well, I'm afraid I'm going to have to," he says. "I am Head Boy, after all."

"But if you do, I'll be in trouble," Pansy whispers, biting her lip. "I'll lose my Prefect badge."

"Well," he muses, circling her, "I suppose you'll just have to make it up to me, then, won't you?"

"I'll do anything," Pansy assures him, laying it on thick. "Anything you want, Weasley—just please don't tell anyone you saw me."

He steps closer.

"Anything?" he asks.

She trills with anticipation.

"Anything," she promises.

He smiles.

"Tell me, Miss Parkinson," he murmurs. "Are you a good girl?"

"Very," she tells him. "Always."

"Always?" he muses. "So you've never touched yourself, then?"

"Never," she whispers, feeling a thrill of excitement.

"Well," he says. "I'd be remiss if I didn't help you, I think." He takes a step back, resting his hands on her hips. "Perhaps you should take this off," he suggests, and she obliges, removing the old Hogwarts uniform she'd dug up from her school things. "And these," he adds, his gaze flicking to her white cotton knickers.

She obediently steps out of them, never taking her eyes from his. "Is that all?"

He gestures to her blouse and she removes it, letting it fall slowly from her fingers.

"I'm nervous," she says.

"Don't be," he replies. "Now tell me, Miss Parkinson," he says, with a breathy air of contemplation. "Is your pussy wet?"

"Yes," she whispers.

"Wetter than when your boyfriend looks at you?"

"Yes."

"Wetter than when he touches you?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"Because you fascinate me," she says, surprising herself with the truth, and he seems to catch the look of startled wonder that must have filled her eyes.

"Touch yourself," he says.

She shivers.

She knows he's going to make her work for this one.


XI. (Fitting)

"Here," he says, tossing her a faded crimson jumper.

She makes a face as she catches it.

"Really?" she prompts skeptically, holding it up with a grimace of something that she's pretty sure he can tell is disgust. "It has your initial on it."

"Or," he suggests, "it has your initial on it."

She considers that for a moment.

"It is very soft," she grumbles in concession.

"You don't have to wear it," he says, shrugging, "if you don't want to. I'd just as happily have you sleep in nothing."

He himself is sleeping in next to nothing, slipping under his covers in his underwear and nothing else. She, on the other hand, is immensely cold, and she shivers at the prospect, glancing skeptically at the ruins of her white oxford where it sits discarded on the floor.

"Fine," she says, and pulls the jumper on. It's a little lumpy and long, probably even for him, and it skims the tops of her thighs. "How does it look?"

His mouth quirks.

"Very fitting," he says, and beckons to her.

She sighs, climbing in next to him.

"I don't cuddle," she warns him. "I don't like it."

"Fine," he agrees. "This is purely a matter of sleeping, isn't it? Sleep however you like."

She lies down on her back, and he on his.

"Goodnight," he says, in a perfunctory sort of way.

"Goodnight," she agrees, and he rolls onto his stomach, his head turned away from her.

She closes her eyes.

Opens them.

She scoots over slightly so that the barest centimeters of skin are touching, thigh to thigh.

His arm shifts, draping itself over her hips.

She closes her eyes again.

She falls asleep almost instantly.


XII. (Habit)

"Goodnight," he says, turning out the light the next night.

"Goodnight," she agrees, and turns onto her side, facing the wall as he faces the door.

I don't like cuddling, Draco had said to her once.

Neither do I, she'd replied, and they'd gotten in the practice of sleeping back to back, operating in separate spheres. She was used to sleeping on her right side, and he on his left. It was habit, a natural inclination. It hadn't seemed like the beginning of the end, even though it probably had been.

Here, in the strangeness of now, Pansy accidentally lets out a slow exhalation at the memory. Horrifyingly, it emerges as something like a mournful sigh.

She feels Percy shift in bed, nudging her shoulder with his.

She waits for a moment, feeling the warmth of him, and then she slides her hand behind her, resting it on his thigh.

He loops his pinky through hers, squeezing it once.

They fall asleep back to back.


XIII. (Holiday)

"Happy Christmas, Miss Parkinson," he murmurs to her as they stretch out on the carpet beside the fireplace. "Was this a sufficient gift?"

She thinks about it.

Then she leans over, resting her hand on his bare chest.

"Tell me more about the liability waivers," she beckons at a murmur, not quite ready to be finished with him. His gaze cuts slyly to hers.

"First," he says quietly, tracing his fingers up the curve of her inner thigh, "you have to file form WW-414 to submit a request for permit."

"Oh god," Pansy exhales, parting her legs for him. "And then?"

"And then," he continues, rolling over to settle himself between her knees, "you have to submit to the Ministry Events department office on the third floor. With," he adds, taking a handful of her hair and speaking low in her ear, "three sickles for a filing fee."

"Fuck," Pansy breathes, letting her head fall back when he releases her. "And after the permit?"

"If the Unspeakable grants the permit," Percy goes on neutrally, "you are then responsible for filling out form HP-12 and taking that upstairs"—he pauses, bending his lips to her neck—"for someone in Wizard Accounting to approve."

A gasp cuts between them. "And?"

He chuckles, his lips taking a lazy, torturous path from her torso down, down, down, lower, yes, there—

"And then," he says gruffly, capturing a moan between her lips. "If you're lucky," he clarifies, the words murmured into her cunt, "more paperwork."

"Oh god," she gasps, the feel of his lips so furiously decadent that she closes her eyes, wondering whether she has ever had a Christmas as thoroughly rewarding as this one.


XIV. (Friends)

"Theo," Pansy says, "this is Percy. Percy, Theo."

They shake hands in a perfunctory way. Theo has never really been her friend; only Draco's. But having been Daphne's boyfriend since they were sixteen, there was some obligation that Theo come along to assuage their collective curiosity—if only at his soon-to-be wife's insistence.

"And this is Daphne," Pansy continues, feeling the lurch she always does at the introduction. Daphne is beautiful—naturally beautiful, unlike Pansy, who requires beauty charms and a certain amount of pliability from her hair to distract away from the nose she unrelentingly hates—and there is always a brief pang of wondering on Pansy's end if they (whoever any given 'they' is) might find Daphne the more desirable object of attention.

"Daphne's my best friend," Pansy adds, even though they all know this, because she immediately feels guilty for her unpleasant internal monologue.

"Hi," Daphne offers with her usual radiance, sparing Percy a dazzling smile.

He nods. "Nice to meet you," he says.

Then he reaches for Pansy with his free hand, lightly touching the inside of her elbow.

She takes comfort from it—from the benefit of his proximity—but it doesn't register as anything more. Not right away.

Despite the signs (like that one), Pansy doesn't actually realize right away how nervous Percy is. In fact, it only occurs to her in stages.

First, he babbles something incomprehensible about the principles of queuing, which even Pansy has to admit is outrageously mundane.

Then he fails to laugh at a joke Theo makes, hurriedly making up for it with a strangely misplaced chuckle.

Then, when the light touch against Pansy's elbow evolves to an arm wrapped tightly around her waist, it finally dawns on her.

"You're doing fine," she assures him, leaning in to say it in his ear. "They like you."

Percy lets out a breath, turning to spare her half a smile, and that's when she notices something else: that he doesn't look at Daphne—or anyone—the way he looks at her.

Not even close.


XV. (Ours)

"Pansy," he says. "May I ask why there's a dog on my sofa?"

"You can ask," she replies, "but I don't think he'll answer."

Percy sighs.

"Very funny," he says.

The truth is that she found the dog, the giant Saint Bernard, wandering around in the snow in Diagon. She already checked; he's not an Animagus. He's just a dog, and a hungry dog, too, and because she couldn't take him home—where her mother would sniff her disapproval and her father would cast an unsympathetic veto—she took him here, instead.

She explains this with slightly more panache, leaning into the humor of the situation, but she wonders if Percy can see that she genuinely doesn't want to let the poor fur-laden menace go.

"He's sweet," she attempts, though even she knows that's a meager offering at best. "See?" she adds hopefully, as the dog begins to pant heavily in Percy's face, promptly fogging up his glasses.

"Well," Percy says uncomfortably, "I'm not generally a dog person."

She grimaces and nods, deflating.

"But I suppose if he needs a home," Percy continues, looking pained, and then he trails off, letting her draw her own conclusions from the fact that he has now allowed the dog to vigorously sniff his face, knocking his glasses askew.

Pansy turns to face him, swallowing exuberance in favor of something passably refined.

"Do you know," she finally says, "I hate almost everyone I know, but I think, at this moment, I hate you the least."

The dog expresses something similar, lurching down and resting his slobbering chin atop Percy's immaculate trousers.

"Well," Percy permits, clearly fighting his own discomfort. "What will you name him, then?"

"Me?" Pansy asks. "He's your dog."

Percy blinks, turning slowly to face her.

For a second, she's terrified he'll change his mind, say no, call her a fool; treat her to a buffet of mockery and disdain. Which, she abruptly realizes, is something she would expect from anyone else in her life.

Instead, he says, "Our dog."

She buries her face furiously in the dog's fur, hoping Percy doesn't see the look of total madness on her face. She's fairly certain it's something that's part smile and part encroaching sobs, but either way, it's an outrageous, unbridled flood of emotions. It's definitely something inadvisable, too, because there will almost certainly be a time after him. She's sure of it, in fact. There will be the time before him, the time of him, and then the time after him, and so she hides her inconvenient satisfaction.

"Fine," she sniffs eventually. "Except he lives here, and you have to take care of him most of the time, so you should probably name him."

Percy nods, patting the dog's head with a truly resplendent awkwardness.

"Ronald," he decides.

Pansy fights a laugh. "Isn't that your brother's name?"

"Yes," he admits. "I'm not very good at names."

Pansy straightens to wrap her arms around his neck, pulling him towards her.

There will be a time after him, she knows, but right now that's not her problem.

"Actually," she says, "I rather think you are."


XVI. (Bonding)

For a while, the dog renders them domestic. Ronald, who is more often referred to by Percy (for reasons Pansy doesn't fully understand) as 'Dog Quixote' or 'Dog Giovanni,' relentlessly follows Percy around his flat, panting up at him with such a slavish expression of adoration that gradually Percy, too, begins to look some degree of fond. He and Pansy now spend most of their nights doing nothing together on the sofa, one of Percy's arms slung around Pansy's shoulders while the other absently pats Ronald's head, reading in comfortable silence while a long series of January storms rages outside.

"Come on," Pansy says eventually, tugging at Percy's belt and luring him out of their sluggish coma of contentment. "It's been all day, Weasley. I want to hear you write sonnets to my pussy."

"But," Percy protests helplessly, glancing at where the dog is eyeing them from his spot on the sofa. "He's watching."

Pansy groans, pulling away. "If I'd known the dog was going to interfere with my sex life, I might not have rescued him," she grumbles unhappily, and Percy catches her face in his hands.

"We can close the door," he suggests, and though Dog Quixote seems vaguely displeased by the prospect of them tripping over each other to his bedroom, she figures he'll get over it.


XVII. (Fixation)

She's never met a man who enjoys cunnilingus as much as he does. He seems to genuinely revel in it, too, not merely perform it, and he does it with a fascinating contemplation; a thriving shiver of sensations, as if the taste of her is not enough without the feel of her, without the capture of her breath between his hands.

She also didn't realize there were so many ways to have her pussy licked until she met him. He sucks her clit while she lays back on the kitchen table, kneeling at the edge of it and draping her legs over his shoulders; he slides underneath her when she climbs into his lap, leaving her helplessly straddling his jaw. He does it in the shower, on his knees while her back presses against the too-cold tiles; he does it from behind while she's on all fours, his fingers wrapped around her thighs. He makes a wreckage of her, her legs shaking from the smallest motions of his tongue, and she wonders if she ever truly repays the favor.

"Do you feel that?" she whispers after she groans, her hips arching up as her own sensations cascade in waves and her fingers tighten in the soft strands of his hair. "Do you feel the way you make me come?"

He gives her a look like his soul is fucking escaping his body.

"Pansy," he says, more shudder than sound, and then, all at once, she no longer wonders.

By virtue of her wanting, she can see her debt is more than repaid.


XVIII. (Saints)

"Saint Valentine was murdered," Pansy comments, eyeing the inane display of pink and red hearts coming from Twilfitt and Tattings. "He was tortured and killed and hastily reburied, and somehow I'm supposed to want to buy chocolate?"

"Perhaps it was more commercially viable than death," Percy suggests blithely, "and seeing as there's already a holiday for severed heads and cobwebs, Valentine's Day had to select a different avenue."

"Well, when you're right, you're right," Pansy permits, shrugging. "Though I would think there's plenty of room for more murder-related holidays."

"In fairness, Halloween is more about death and the spiritual otherworlds than murder," Percy remarks, humming to himself as he considers it. "So, if you want, we can make Valentine's Day a murder holiday. Presuming you don't actually intend to commit any homicide," he cautions her. "In which case, I must request that you refrain."

"What if I don't kill you?" Pansy suggests brightly. "I could kill someone else. We could do it together," she adds, and nudges him. "Come on. Wouldn't it be romantic?"

"What, a joint killing?" Percy says. "I'm flattered, but appropriately on edge, I think."

"You know, I think you'd know what to do," Pansy comments tangentially. "How to get away with it, I mean. You would know which spells are tracked by the Ministry, and how fast things decay, and what times of day to dispose of a body, and basically everything monotonous that normal people get caught with, you know? I think you'd be the only person in the entire world who could fully get away with it. Ooh look, pretty," she says, pointing to some sugar-spun garlands in the windows of his brother's shop, but then she realizes that he's paused somewhere behind her.

She stops, turning towards him with a frown, and takes a few steps back to where he's abruptly come to a halt, staring into nothing.

"What is it?" she asks him, bewildered.

"That," he rasps, swallowing heavily, "is perhaps the kindest thing anyone has ever said to me."

"What?" she demands, wondering what exactly she even said aside from idly suggesting he pursue a career in serial killing. "That's insane."

"You realize that most people think I'm useless," Percy informs her, with so little hesitation it makes her heart hurt. "I know it, and I'm sure you do too. I'm aware that most people find me dull, and they consider my conversation topics trivial and mundane. But you, you just—"

He breaks off, choking slightly on emotion, and Pansy is more than a little alarmed.

"Um," she begins, resting her hand lightly on his arm. "There, there—"

"I would happily help you kill someone," he promises her firmly. "Provided your life was at stake," he amends, "or possibly if it were to save the entirety of mankind. There are of course caveats," he clarifies unnecessarily, "but provided I approved of your motives, then I would willingly aid in your homicide."

"Weasley," Pansy chides playfully. "People can hear!"

"Let them," he invites, with a decided dearth of shame. "Anyone who isn't at least a little afraid of you, Miss Parkinson, lacks a terrifying amount of self-preservation."

She leans into him at that, raising her chin on instinct when he turns to brush his lips thoughtfully against hers.

"And that," she informs him, "is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me, so we're even."

He pauses, something half-said forming on his tongue, and she wonders if he knows what he wants to say. She thinks that she knows, and for once, she hopes that she's wrong, because she isn't sure she's ready yet. She can feel her legs twitch beneath her and she knows if he says it before she's ready, she'll run.

She'll run, and then it'll progress to the time after him, and at this moment, she's absolutely certain that that's the very last thing that she wants.

"Pansy," he murmurs, and she holds her breath.

Feels it swell, and waits to burst.

"Hungry?" he asks neutrally.

She exhales.

"Sure," she replies.

"Too bad," he says, "because I'm planning to fuck you like I just got away with murder."

She shivers.

"Fucking twisted," she proclaims, relishing the contortions of his mind.

She wasn't hungry anyway.


XIX. (Important)

She and her mother fight often. It's nothing new.

Pansy's always been a disappointment to her mother. She couldn't hold on to Draco, after all; she had one shot at a decent pureblooded engagement and she failed, and to begin with, she's not as pretty as her mother was, nor as docile or as sweet, and so Pansy has always been a thorn on the rose of perfection that is Dahlia Parkinson's life. Pansy is the only child, the only hope, and thus the only disappointment. This is nothing new.

So yes, this is far from their first fight about Pansy's failings, but this fight is slightly different than the others, because the words "I love him" slip out tearfully without warning. Of course, in the moment that it happens Pansy's pretty sure she's just saying it, and that it doesn't mean anything at all. It's just something she says, isn't it? Something she throws out like a weapon when she fights with her overbearing mother.

She said "I love him," like an idiot, and then, like an idiot, she ran.

She checks his flat first, but he's not there. Dog Quixote is, and he gives her a quizzical stare, so she pats his head and dries her tears in his fur but she keeps going, passing through the Floo to Percy's office.

"Weasley," she announces, "I need you to—"

She breaks off as she sees him sitting with a member of the Wizengamot. They're clearly drinking something expensive and discussing something Private and Important and Pansy has a rush of memories—of her father closing his office door to keep her out, of "I'm busy right now, Pansy," and "you can show me later, Pansy," and "Pansy, it will have to wait"—and in the spirit of crippling nostalgia she backs away quickly, mumbling apologies under her breath.

"One moment," Percy offers to the Warlock, and Pansy freezes in place as he rises to his feet, coming towards her.

"Is everything okay?" he asks quietly. He's analyzing her, she can tell; it's an investigatory question. Is everything okay, the first step to assessing the problem.

"It can wait," she says, and he nods.

She's about to head shamefully back through the Floo when Percy's voice cuts through the room again.

"Warlock Hawkworth," he beckons formally, "have you met Pansy Parkinson?"

Pansy recognizes the Warlock's name from countless newspapers; from the important sections of the paper, too, the ones she tries to read but doesn't always manage. Her mind buzzes as the Warlock says something along the lines of no, no, haven't had the pleasure—

"Isn't he important?" she whispers furtively to Percy, her fingers darting out to grip his waist. "I shouldn't be here."

Percy glances down, assessing her a second time.

"You're my girlfriend," he tells her. "You're important."

She blinks.

She has never thought of this as being true before.

"Do you mind talking with him?" Percy presses quietly. "If you'd rather not, I understand."

"Me? But—" She blinks again. "Are you sure that I won't—" She drops her voice. "You know. Embarrass you?"

He looks bemused, as though that particular prospect has never occurred to him before.

Then he leans over, kissing her cheek, and nudges her towards the Warlock.

"Pansy's a very talented witch," Percy says firmly. "Top of her class at Hogwarts, and quite a charming conversationalist. I think her perspective would be quite valuable to you, Warlock," he says, and he continues on, saying something about retail or development or perhaps unicorns or pirates, but Pansy doesn't hear him.

All she can hear is valuable and important and she wants to cry again, only she wouldn't dare ruin this for him. So she smiles as politely as she can, sits as straight as her spine will permit, and lays her hand carefully (and respectfully) on Percy's knee.

He rests his hand on top of hers, brushing his thumb over her knuckles, and while the Warlock drones on about something only marginally coherent, she flips Percy's hand over, tracing her nails along his palm.

I love you, she writes, and his fingers contract slightly as he registers the message.

Good, he writes back on her knuckles, as the smallest, most unassuming of smiles traipses across his lips.

It's so miniscule a motion that the Warlock doesn't catch it.

In fact, it's so astoundingly him in its smallness that only she would catch it.

Because she loves him.

And he hasn't said it yet, but she knows. He has already said as much in all the ways that matter.

He loves her.


XX. (Spring)

"Snow's melting," he says, handing her a cup of coffee and nudging Dog Giovanni over before slipping back in bed beside her, gesturing out the window. "Nearly spring."

"Strange," she murmurs, letting the warmth of the mug bleed into her fingers. "I'm pretty sure there's something I was supposed to do when the snow melted."

"Oh?" he asks, turning to look at her. First thing in the morning his hair is always a mess, some of it sticking straight up while the rest cascades forward into his eyes, and her gaze traces the shape of it thoughtfully. "What was it?"

She considers telling him.

He is so appealing, and so endearing, and she wonders if there is anything left in her heart that she doesn't want him to have, so she considers telling him.

But it now seems so foolish a concept it disappears entirely, lost to the recesses of her idiot past.

"Did you fall in love with me on purpose?" she asks instead, indulging a strange, sudden curiosity.

"With intention, you mean?" he asks.

She considers it.

"Yes," she rules. "Sure, with intention."

"The steps were all there," he says. "The algorithm of it. I might not have bought you that drink. Might not have given you my card. Might not have felt the need to help you when you asked. So I suppose that's some evidence of intent, isn't it?"

She groans. "Just answer the question."

He turns, his gaze falling slowly on hers.

"I knew what I was doing when I fell in love with you," he says, and then corrects himself. "I didn't fall," he amends. "I went willingly." He pauses. "Does that make sense?"

"So there was a deliberate quality?" she muses.

"Yes," he agrees. "I certainly wasn't dragged."

They both sip their coffee.

"Will you go with me to Daphne's wedding?" she asks neutrally. "It'll be a whole thing," she adds, making a face. "Society and all that. My mother. My ex. That whole thing."

He nods.

By now, he more than understands the subtext.

"That's in the summer," he remarks, his gaze drifting out to the melting snow.

"I know," she says. "No snow."

"No snow," he confirms.

"But I'll need you there," she says. "Survival technique."

He turns his head, half a smile pulling at his mouth, and brushes his lips against her forehead.

"Survival technique," he agrees.


a/n: Happy birthday AngelicaElizaAndPeggy! Also, go check out Aurora's edit on tumblr, and many thanks (as ever) for reading. The coming month will be primarily focused on finishing Nobility (which is the multi-chaptered expansion of Chapter 22, Chaotic Good, if you weren't already aware of that) but I do have a few unfinished drafts (and a few long overdue birthday gifts) to wrap up and put in here soon!