That was the word he was looking for. Everywhere he looked, in all the laughing, elated faces, the bubbling, overflowing wines, the blushing, blooming flowers – sick. Ron muffled a grunt, and as he caught Hermione looking at his direction, forced out a smile as fake as the cheap pieces of plates he got for her as a wedding gift. The smile felt hard on his face; as brittle as the crystal glass he held in his hand. Then she looked away, and finally his pretense was over - the grunt was released.
He was going to be sick.
Swallowing the champagne wouldn't do any good; its expensive taste was only a bitter reminder of what he couldn't give her. It was an insult, really, that he was here in this god-awful place, surrounded by crystals, champagnes, chandeliers, and every goddamned classy thing he couldn't provide anyone, because he couldn't afford it.
He was a cheap, cheap bastard.
Everyone knew this, Malfoy especially. He wouldn't dare pass any opportunity to rub it on his face that he was a rich, good-looking bastard that could and would give her anything she so desired. He wouldn't dare pass any opportunity to rub it on his face that he, on the other hand, was dirt-poor.
How he hated that word. Poor.
Because in truth, that was all he was.
He looked around him; smiles were abundant and as radiant as the couple that got married. Sick, wasn't it. Of all people – of all people – they ended up together. A Malfoy and a Muggleborn. Who would've thought? Who could ever imagine such a thing was possible? In a whirl of scandal, passion, and insanity - they got together. And now they were married.
And here he thought – hoped – that he was the one meant for the bride
"Sick, isn't it?"
He knew that voice. Knew the bitterness engraved in each word, the carefree way she tried to coat them with. Standing beside him, clutching a crystal glass with the champagne almost spent was the one woman everyone expected to end up with the groomNow here she was, looking drunk and spiteful and wanting very much to murder someone.
He understood that. He knew the feeling.
Hell, he felt that way.
Pansy glared at him when he didn't answer. "Come on, Weasley," she coaxed, fixing those homicidal eyes on him. "Don't tell me you're pathetic enough to have your tongue ripped off! Or…hmm." She smiled seductively, sinisterly. "Bit it yourself, didn't you."
Still no response from him.
"Probably one of those 'I'll cut my own tongue first before THEY happen' moments?"
"Shove off, Parkinson."
"Ha." She lifted her glass and mocked him with a toast. "So, didn't wager your tongue. Funny." She took a hearty sip, then tossed the glass carelessly at the side. "Wish I'd been that smart."
That earned a surprised glance from him. "You're still speaking," he pointed out flatly.
"So?" she asked. "Nobody cares. He certainly doesn't." Spotting the glass in his hands, she grabbed it, gulped the contents in one swallow, then tossed it back at him. "Look at them," she said, her words lulled by the alcohol. "Just look at them. They make me sick."
"Bitter, aren't you."
She lifted her bows at him and let out a strangled chortle. "Oh! That's rich, coming from you! This – this - is coming from someone who spent all his time looking at Draco like he has nothing on his mind but blood and gore and death through dull knives and gallows and—" She paused and glared at him. "What? Can't I expect anything from you? No reaction, no apoplectic fit? Not even a short 'bloody hell'?" She shoved him. Hard. The glass in his hands fell and broke. "Who are you? Just who do you think you are?"
"Bloody hell, Parkinson – get away from me!"
The outburst drew attention to them, and he gritted his teeth as he noticed that a short frown fleeted through the bride's face, while a mocking smile graced the groom's.
"There we go," she said, her breath foul with alcohol and something else. She was smiling. "There you go. Release some of that anger in—" She poked his chest with a finger, "—there. Be angry for God's sake – she should've been yours! He should've been mine! You hear that?" She whirled towards the direction of the reception table. "You should've been mine!"
"Shut UP!" he said, clamping a hard hand on her mouth.
She bit on it, her teeth like fangs as she tore through his flesh to free herself. "Bastard! I said—"
Hissing through thin lips, he had no choice but to drag this disgraced woman away. He was very aware of the stares he received; first and foremost the distraught way the bride looked at him as she sank on her chair. He was very aware that the mocking smile on the groom's face had already disappeared as he sought a way to comfort his wife.
He was getting sick all over again.
"Let… me… GO!"
He shoved her to the ground, watching in satisfaction as she landed on all fours. There was very little pity in him as he looked at her, as he found himself disgusted at how she was making a fool out of herself by acting like a shrill, spoiled, sullied little girl.
Which, in truth, was all she was.
"Get the bloody hell out of here," he ordered, rubbing the raw skin she feasted on. "You should be ashamed of yourself, making a scene like that!"
He started to leave, but the repulsive tone in her voice made him look back. "Don't tell me," she said, staring at him through feral eyes, "that you're planning to go back there."
"Of course I am," he snapped.
"Why?" she demanded. "Because she's your friend?"
The last word was spoken with so much malice and malevolence, and the look on her face as she said it was proof of her mocking him. "Yes!"
She rose to her feet with the elegance of an evicted queen. "You love her, don't you," she said gently, balefully. "You love her so much you're willing to forgive her for fucking your enemy and making a fool out of you. You love her so much you're willing to endure being insulted like this – being invited to her wedding and getting her to rub it on your face that she married him instead of you!"
"I never thought Granger's such a gold digger," she said derisively. "I expected something from someone very poor– like, say, your sister – but—"
"Shut the fuck up!" He grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her savagely, causing pins to disentangle from her dark, disheveled hair. The released mass formed a wild lion's mane on her head, making her look more crazed and demented. She was, in a word – insane. "Shut up shut up shut up!"
She laughed, making him want to hit her so she would stop making the sound. "Admit it," she said, tearing herself from his grasp. He was sure she'd have bruises on her arms, and wasn't the least bit sorry for causing them. "Admit it. You hate her! You hate her so much because she made you love her so damn much."
"Why don't you—" He advanced to her, threatening to grab her again. She didn't move. She didn't flinch. He dropped his hands. It wasn't worth it. "Why are you doing this?"
She inched her chin up. "Don't you get it?" she asked loudly. "I know you're poor, but up until three seconds ago I thought you're not stupid. Guess I was wrong. Again."
"If you don't—"
"What? If I don't stop you'll shake me again? Hit me?" She spread her arms wide. "Don't you get it? I understand how you feel, damn you! I know the feeling! Hell, I feel the same way!"
"You- you don't. You can't."
She grinned, the shift in her visage startling and sudden. "Wanna bet?"
"Go away, Parkinson," he muttered harshly. "Go to hell."
"Guess what? We're both there." She wiped her face with a dirtied hand, leaving a smudge at her cheek. "You know it, Weasley. You know the truth. Despite what others say – what you think – I'm not insane. I haven't reached that point yet. Unlike you, I'm not a hypocrite. Unlike you, I'm simply being honest to myself, to what I feel – and if you really know yourself, you'd know you'd do the same thing – or probably even something worse. A bloody hell lot of worse."
"You're drunk," he said wearily. A dull throb that started in his stomach erupted with a vengeance somewhere in his head – nauseating and sickening him. "You don't know what you're saying."
"Oh, but you do." She smiled largely at him, showing off the white on her teeth and the pain in her eyes. "You know what I'm saying, don't you, Weasley? We understand each other so much, it's a shame we're not together like them." She shook her head. "I'm leaving. The hypocrisy in this place – in you – makes me so sick I may just vomit. Well. Must not shame myself more than I already have." She blew him a kiss from her heavily painted mouth and left.
He watched her as she wobbled and stumbled away, and thought he somewhat understood the reason why she did what she did. Despite hating her for the trouble she caused, for the truths she uncovered…
Schooling his features to erase the disdain in them, he faced her and smiled. "I—I made her leave. Don't worry, she won't bother you again."
"Thank you," she said, relief apparent on her face. "I'm surprised she's even here. Draco must have… never mind." She shook her head and smiled at him. "Let's go back, Ron. You still owe me a dance."
"You hate her! You hate her so much because she made you love her so damn much."
Without preamble, he took the hand she offered him. "Okay."
"I'm simply being honest to myself, to what I feel."
It made him sick to his stomach that he simply wasn't.