A/N - As regular readers know, I've done a few stories where Harry and Ron return home to find Hermione has moved on with someone unexpected, and this is a twist on that where Pansy is the one making a reappearance in her old friend's lives. I hope you all enjoy it.
Pansy Parkinson pulled her jacket around herself as she gazed up at the stunning block of flats overlooking the river Thames. Somewhere in the flats lived her old friend, Daphne Greengrass. Pansy was about to pay her a visit for the first time in several years and she was nervous. Once upon a time, Daphne had been her closest female friend, but after several years of not being in touch, Pansy wasn't sure what sort of reaction she would receive from Daphne. In fact she wasn't sure what sort of reaction she would receive from any of her old friends.
Pansy had just arrived back in London, after nearly five years away from wizarding Britain. It had been five years ago when the war had ended and Voldemort had fallen. Pansy had been at the final battle as it had taken place at Hogwarts, but afterwards her father had wanted to get as far away as he could. Unlike other people, Pansy's father had never taken the Dark Mark, but he still hadn't wanted to be caught up in any sort of official investigation. Eager to also avoid any repercussions, Pansy had been more than happy to accompany her parents as they left the country. And so she'd left, leaving her friends behind without a second thought.
Although to be fair to Pansy, she may have left without thinking of her friends, but she did nothing but think of them once she and her family were safely settled abroad. Her oldest friend, Draco Malfoy, was the one she thought of the most as she knew no matter what had happened following Voldemort's downfall, he would have to answer for the things he had done during the war. Pansy's father had heard enough to know that Draco had escaped being sent to prison, but Pansy still felt guilty for not being there when he needed her the most.
She also couldn't help but wonder what might have been if she'd only stuck around. Back before Voldemort recruited Draco to the dark side, and terrorised him so much all traces of the confident boy she'd known since childhood vanished, Pansy and Draco had been dancing around each other in a romantic sense. Following their date to the Yule Ball in fourth year they'd dated casually, but Pansy had always been confident that one day it would lead to more. In fact she'd been convinced she would one day become Mrs Malfoy, until she'd left with her parents and probably destroyed any chance she had of making things work with Draco.
Even so, Pansy wasn't ready to give up just yet and she fully intended to speak to Draco and try to make amends for the past. And if there was any glimmer of hope that they could be together romantically, then she was going to grab it with both hands and never let Draco go again. But before she spoke to Draco, she wanted to reconnect with some of her other friends, hoping to get an idea of what sort of reaction she could expect from the sometimes frosty blond.
Daphne had been Pansy's first port of call, because after Draco she was the person she was closest to from her school days. Yes, she'd been friends with Blaise Zabini and Theo Nott, but they were more Draco's friends. However, Daphne was her friend before the boys joined in, and Pansy suspected that Daphne would be the one most likely to forgive her for leaving and putting herself above her friends.
Pansy had been surprised when she went to the Greengrasses and found Daphne actually had a job as a Healer at St Mungo's. She'd expected her friend to have moved out of home, and likely married to some rich pureblood, but instead her friend had a swanky apartment in London and she was forging a career for herself as a Healer. Daphne's parents hadn't given much away about their daughter's life, but Pansy got the impression that Daphne wasn't married, nor was she even close to settling down and becoming the perfect pureblood wife Pansy had always envisioned her as.
Even though Pansy had decided Daphne would be the most welcoming of her friends, she still found herself putting off the actual moment when she came face to face with the other witch. Knowing she couldn't put off the inevitable any longer, Pansy walked over to the glass doors and entered the lobby of the apartment block.
The lobby held a set of stairs, which Pansy automatically dismissed as she knew Daphne lived on the top floor, and two lifts. Walking over to the lift nearest to her, Pansy pressed the button and waited for it to arrive. Just as the doors of the lift slid open, Pansy felt a breeze on her back as someone else entered the building. Turning her head, she found herself face to face with Daphne.
Daphne was still as beautiful as ever, and Pansy found herself envious of her friend's natural good looks. Daphne's blonde hair was swept up in an elegant chignon, and although it didn't look as though she was wearing make-up her face was still flawless. Even the smart pencil skirt and purple silk blouse she was wearing looked chic and stylish rather than formal and stifling.
"Pansy?" Daphne questioned.
"It's me," Pansy replied with a slight smile. "Surprise."
"Thank Merlin you're okay," Daphne gushed, surprising Pansy by rushing over to her and embracing her tightly. "We were all so worried about you when you vanished. It was months before we knew you and your parents were okay."
"I'm so sorry, I never thought," Pansy said, feeling guilty for the fact she'd never wrote to her friends after their departure. She'd just sort of figured that her friends would know she was okay, although looking back she could see how foolish that had been. "Hold on, how did you know I was okay if you were worried at first?"
"Draco got someone to find you," Daphne replied.
"Draco came looking for me?" Pansy questioned, hope blossoming inside her that it wasn't too late to salvage a relationship with her former boyfriend.
"He got someone to do it for him, but you know Draco, he always did like to avoid getting his hands dirty," Daphne replied with a small chuckle. "So are you back for good?"
"I am," Pansy answered with a nod, still basking in the news that Draco had been worried enough to try and find her. "Although I would understand if you didn't want to know me anymore."
"Don't be silly Pansy, we're friends," Daphne said with a tut as she reached behind Pansy and summoned the lift that had shut its doors when Pansy didn't step inside earlier. "Everyone will be thrilled to have you back."
"I hope you're right," Pansy murmured as she stepped into the lift with Daphne.
The lift soared up the building in super quick time and before Pansy had much of a chance to say anything to her friend, the doors swung open and they emerged onto a landing, which held two doors further down the corridor. Pulling out her key, Daphne opened the door on the right and gestured for Pansy to follow her inside.
As she followed Daphne into the flat, Pansy realised her friend didn't just live in a luxury flat, she lived in the penthouse. The hallway, where Daphne dropped her bag, removed her shoes and coat and told Pansy to do the same, held two doors on either side of the wall. Daphne led Pansy through the door on the right side which opened out into a large living room. The kitchen was attached to the living room via an archway and peering through the archway, Pansy could see the kitchen then attached to a dining room. Pansy was guessing the other door across the hallway led to the bedroom and bathroom.
"Can I get you a drink?" Daphne asked as she padded into the kitchen.
"Sounds good," Pansy said, still standing in the middle of the front room and admiring her surroundings. Daphne had definitely done well for herself and she envied her friend for living in such a stylish penthouse.
"Is wine okay?" Daphne called.
"Wine's great," Pansy replied, heading into the airy kitchen.
"Red, white or rosé?" Daphne asked.
"I'll have whatever you're having," Pansy answered.
"Rosé it is then," Daphne said, pulling a bottle from the wine rack and using magic to uncork it and pour two full glasses. "Do you want to stay for dinner, Pansy?" She asked as she passed a glass over to her friend. "I've been at work all day and I'm starving."
"Dinner sounds good," Pansy said, taking a sip of her wine and deciding it was the nicest wine she'd ever tasted. "What are the elves making?"
"I don't have elves, Pans," Daphne laughed as she opened the fridge and began to get out the ingredients to make a simple chicken pasta.
"You mean you cook for yourself?" Pansy gasped, hardly able to believe that Daphne was living without the help of house elves.
"I do," Daphne replied with a nod. "And I clean for myself, do my own washing and everything else the elves used to do for me at home."
"When did you get all righteous about house elves?" Pansy asked. "You're beginning to sound like Granger. Can you remember that nonsense she used to gabble on about in school?"
"People change, Pans," Daphne said with a shrug as she began to magically prepare dinner. "None of us use house elves anymore."
"None of you," Pansy repeated in a shocked voice. "Not even Draco."
"Especially not Draco," Daphne said with a laugh. "If you're sticking around, you're going to have to get used to things being different from what you remember. The war changed us all, and we're not the same people."
"Obviously not," Pansy muttered, still trying to get her head around Draco not using house elves. He must be in a terrible state because the boy she remembered wouldn't have the slightest idea on how to look after himself.
"Sit down, Pansy and tell me all about what you've been up to," Daphne said, turning to smile at her friend.
"Do you not want any help?" Pansy asked warily. She'd made the offer out of politeness, not because she genuinely wanted to help.
"No offence, Pans, but I think I'm better off without your help," Daphne replied. "Besides, I like cooking, it's relaxing after I've had a tough day at work."
"I'd imagine being a healer is hard work," Pansy remarked as she happily settled down at the small kitchen table.
"It is, but it's so fulfilling," Daphne said. "I really feel like I'm making a difference. How about you? What are you up to these days?"
"I've been dabbling in fashion design," Pansy answered. To be honest she'd never really settled down to a career as she'd always planned on returning home and if she was lucky, restarting things with Draco and settling down and starting a family with her first love.
"Exciting, tell me more," Daphne urged as she finished sorting the dinner and settled down beside her friend while they waited for the meal to cook.
With Daphne's urging, Pansy told her friend all about the area she'd been playing about in. Unlike her parents, who had dismissed her ideas as a fanciful hobby, Daphne was supportive and she urged Pansy to think carefully about starting her own business. By the time Daphne served dinner, which much to Pansy's surprise was absolutely delicious, she was seriously thinking about pursuing her fashion design business. She had an inheritance that would help fund her start up and Daphne was convinced that if she spoke to either Draco, Blaise or Theo, one of them would more than likely give her another injection of capital in return for a share of the business.
Between talking about her possible career and catching Daphne up on what she'd been up to for the last five years, Pansy barely had a chance to ask Daphne about Draco and what he'd been up to. In fact, she'd barely found out much about Daphne's life before her friend was yawning and announcing it was time to go to bed.
"Woah, it's nearly midnight," Pansy said, looking at the clock and wondering where the evening had gone.
"Sorry Pans, I'd love to catch up more but I'm knackered," Daphne said, stifling yet another yawn.
"It's okay, I'm fairly tired as well," Pansy said as a huge yawn crept up on her.
"It's late, there's no apparition in the building and the floo is playing up, so why don't you stop here tonight," Daphne suggested. "The sofa should be comfy enough to sleep on."
"Are you sure?" Pansy asked.
"I'm sure," Daphne replied with a smile. "Let me go and get you some blankets."
While Daphne was grabbing some spare pillows and blankets, Pansy used the opportunity to have a trip to the bathroom. She'd been right in assuming that the door across the hallway led to the bedroom portion of the penthouse. Although aside from the bathroom, there were four doors, all of which were closed. Pansy presumed one was Daphne's bedroom, but she didn't know what the other doors led to without opening them and she didn't want to be caught snooping.
However, Pansy had no problems snooping in the bathroom and she found toiletries that belonged to more than just Daphne. There were other female toiletries, along with a variety of male ones. Pansy supposed that Daphne might have a roommate, although there'd been no mention of her living with anyone. As for the male toiletries, the easiest explanation was that they belonged to Daphne's boyfriend, whoever that might be.
Knowing she would soon find out all about her friend's life as they continued to catch up, Pansy returned to the front room where she found Daphne had made her a bed on the sofa. Thanking Daphne for her kindness, she waited for her friend to go to bed before stripping down to her underwear and settling down on the sofa. It wasn't until she was snuggled up that she realised just how tired she was and Pansy was asleep moments after her head hit the pillow. It also meant she was asleep half an hour later when the owner of the second set of female toiletries arrived home, along with someone Pansy was very eager to see.
Pansy wasn't sure what had woken her, but she jolted awake with a start. For a second she was confused by her surroundings, but then she remembered she was on Daphne's sofa. Slumping back on the sofa, she was reluctant to leave the warmth of the covers when she heard the door across the hallway opening. Expecting it to be Daphne, she sat up ready to thank her friend again, but got the shock of a lifetime when a half-naked Draco wandered into the room.
Draco still looked half asleep with his blond hair mussed up and his grey eyes unfocused. However, Pansy wasn't paying that much attention to Draco's alertness, she was too distracted by his body. He was wearing a pair of black boxers riding low on his hips, and he was looking better than Pansy had ever seen him. Last time she'd seen Draco he'd been thin and scrawny, but now he'd filled out nicely with a taught, rippling torso and solid arms. There was also no sign of his dark mark on his forearm, but Pansy knew it had to have just been hidden. He may have been able to get in shape, but he could never get rid of the ugly black mark that had wrecked his teenage years.
"You're awake," Draco said with a smile, as Pansy finally tore her eyes away from his half naked body and back to his face.
"Draco!" Forgetting she was just in her underwear, Pansy leapt off the sofa and threw herself at Draco.
"Missed me?" Draco asked with a smirk as he hugged his old friend.
"You have no idea," Pansy replied, pulling back and grinning at Draco. "Have you missed me?"
"I haven't missed your snoring," Draco said. "It was terrible when I got back last night."
"I do not snore," Pansy pouted, thrilled with how easily the banter between her and Draco had reignited itself. In fact it was as though they'd gone back to how things had been before Voldemort had come back and wrecked everything.
"Could have fooled me, Pans," Draco said with a laugh. "It certainly sounded like it last night."
Pansy opened her mouth to reply, when it suddenly hit her that Draco was in Daphne's penthouse in just his underwear. With a sinking feeling she put two and two together and realised that her two closest friends had moved on with each other.
"You live here," Pansy whispered as she summoned her dress and slipped it on.
"No, he doesn't," Daphne's voice called from the hallway as seconds later she wandered into the living room wearing a emerald silk dressing gown. "He just won't leave."
"Your life would be boring without me, Daph," Draco retorted, winking at the blonde witch.
"Without you I could get a full night's sleep," Daphne shot back. "Do you have any idea how many nights you disturb me with your sexual antics?"
"I can't help it if I'm irresistible," Draco smirked as he turned and headed into the kitchen.
"I doubt you're irresistible," Daphne called.
"I am," Draco replied as he returned from the kitchen with a glass of water. "We'll have to catch up later Pansy, I'm going back to bed for a few hours. It was a late night."
"Don't remind me," Daphne muttered as Draco headed back across to the bedrooms. Turning to Pansy she affectionately rolled her eyes. "He's impossible."
Pansy smiled tightly, thinking how lucky Daphne was in the fact she had a hot wizard keeping her up at night with his sexual antics. She just wished the wizard in question wasn't Draco. Even though she hadn't been sure if she stood a chance with her ex, she hadn't expected him to have moved on with Daphne. She'd never seen a hint of a spark between Draco and Daphne before, but they certainly looked happy together.
"I'm not at work today if you want to stick around and we can catch up properly," Daphne offered, looking at Pansy hopefully.
"Sure," Pansy replied. She wasn't quite as eager to stick around now she knew Draco was around, but she didn't want throw her friendship with Daphne away just because she'd been lucky enough to nab Draco.
"How about we go out for breakfast," Daphne said. "Draco might have said he was going back to bed, but I can guarantee he won't be sleeping."
"What?" Pansy frowned.
"I shouldn't complain really, they never bother when Blaise is over and we can get very loud," Daphne said with a smirk.
"Blaise?" Pansy questioned. "I'm confused. Are you with Draco or Blaise?"
"Blaise," Daphne replied. "I could have sworn I mentioned it last night."
"No, you never covered your love life," Pansy said. "But if you're with Blaise, why is Draco wandering around your penthouse in just his boxers?"
"He's an exhibitionist," Daphne snorted. "He thinks just because Hermione finds him irresistible, everyone else thinks he's hot stuff."
"Hermione," Pansy echoed, her mouth dropping open in shock. "Hermione Granger?"
"Do you know any other Hermione?" Daphne asked.
"But Granger? You have to be kidding me," Pansy spat.
"Pansy," Daphne said in a low, warning voice. "Hermione is my friend and roommate. She's also Draco's girlfriend. You're going to have to accept that if you're sticking around."
"How?" Pansy asked, sinking down on the sofa in shock. "What changed?"
"Everything," Daphne answered, sitting down next to her friend. "The war changed everything, Pansy. Draco very nearly went to Azkaban."
"But he didn't," Pansy argued.
"Thanks to Hermione and her friends," Daphne said. "They all spoke up for him and persuaded the Ministry that he didn't deserve to go to Azkaban."
"So what, he's with her out of pity?" Pansy questioned. As much as it had hurt to think Draco was with Daphne, it was now ten times worse to find out he was with the girl they'd despised for years at Hogwarts.
"No, he's with her because he loves her," Daphne answered. "After Hermione had helped him escape a prison sentence, they didn't seen each other for over a year. It was actually me that introduced them again."
"Hermione's a healer like me and we met in training," Daphne explained. "We hit it off and became friends. I introduced her to my friends, and she and Draco hit it off."
"I bet Lucius and Narcissa hate her," Pansy said, not able to keep the smug tone out of her voice.
"No, they adore her," Daphne said. "You saw Draco this morning, he's happy. In fact he's happier than I've ever seen him, and that's down to Hermione. She helps him cope with what happened in the war and she helps him believe that he can change and he's a good person."
"And that's enough for Lucius and Narcissa to overlook the fact she's a mud…"
"Don't," Daphne interrupted sharply. "I won't tolerate that word in this house, nor will Draco. You call Hermione that just once and you'll lose Draco as your friend. And to answer the question you were asking, yes. The fact Hermione makes Draco happy is more than enough for them to overlook the fact she's not a pureblood. You need to get on board if you're going to stick around. I can guarantee that Draco will pick Hermione over anyone else, so freeze her out at your peril."
Pansy sat quietly as she tried to get her head around what was happening. Not only was she struggling to picture Draco and Hermione together, but she wasn't able to see herself being friends with Hermione. But it looked like she would have to get used to the former Gryffindor if she wanted her friends back in her life. But could she cope with seeing Draco playing happy families with Hermione? Pansy didn't know, but she also didn't know what she would do if she left the country again.
"Just give her a chance, Pansy," Daphne said quietly as she got to her feet. "I'm going to grab a shower and get dressed. Feel free to use the bathroom after me."
While Daphne went to get dressed, Pansy remained on the sofa, trying to decide what to do next. When she heard the door again, she figured it was Daphne coming to let her know the bathroom was free, but it was Hermione who entered the room, wearing a dark blue shirt that clearly belonged to Draco. The years had been kind to Hermione, and although her hair was dishevelled, it wasn't the mess it had been in their youth. Pansy could instantly see that when she was dressed and pulled together, Hermione would be quite good looking.
"Hello Pansy," Hermione said softly.
"Granger," Pansy said stiffly, watching Hermione warily as the brunette witch perched on the sofa beside her.
"I want us to be friends, or at the very least to put the past behind us," Hermione said. "You're important to Draco, and I don't want him to feel as though he has to choose between us."
"Daphne's made it clear that if he had to choose, he would choose you," Pansy replied.
"I'm sure he would," Hermione replied simply. "But it would kill him to lose you, especially now you're back. He's missed you, Pansy."
"And I've missed him," Pansy admitted. "I've missed all of my friends."
"Then don't lose them again," Hermione said as she held out her hand. "So what do you say, Pansy. Can we have a fresh start?"
Pansy looked down at Hermione's hand before she slowly grasped it in hers and shook it. "To fresh starts," She whispered.
Hermione smiled at Pansy, before getting up and disappearing back into her room. Seconds later, Daphne announced the bathroom was free so Pansy darted in to freshen herself up. When she emerged from the bathroom, she heard laughing coming from one of the rooms across the hall, and pressing her ear to the door she could clearly hear Draco's voice. She could also hear him laughing in a way she hadn't heard since they were younger. Despite everything, her lips curled into a smile as she heard her oldest friend so obviously happy.
Hermione might not have been the witch she would have picked for Draco, but she made him happy, and that made Pansy happy. It was going to be strange accepting Hermione in her life, but she would do it for Draco. Like the rest of the Slytherins, she would give the Gryffindor witch a chance and she would make a fresh start. You never know, maybe Pansy would also find her happy ending, just like Draco had clearly found his.