Title: No Longer Pretend
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Romance/Angst
Pairing: Harry/Pansy, with a hint of Draco/Hermione
Summary: He's the most important man of the War, but it's strange that he submits to her, of all people.
Author's Notes: Beta'd by the most wonderful Soma! Done for the Gryffindor/Slytherin Ficathon arranged by fullofgracefor whom this fic was also written. Hope you like it! War and no-fluff is just not my thing, but I tried my best to de-fluff this, so I hope it's okay!

&&&&&&&&

He's the most important man of the War: the pristine protector of everyone, the hero destined to do away with the Dark Lord. He's the boy with the famous scar, the Chosen One who's been wearing that stony, hostile look in the battlefield, trained to keep his emotions in check, taught to realize that this is the actual thing—that he is at War and that it is a matter of life and death.

He's supposed to be almighty, powerful, commanding. He's supposed to be the strong one, because everyone's relying on him to save them. He's supposed to be above everyone else because he's the one they need for protection.

But it's strange that he submits to her, of all people.

Her, who's sworn as his enemy in the battle; her, who doesn't even play a vital role in this drama; her, who's bound to be forgotten after everything has passed; her, whom he so desperately clings on to during the cold nights of these bleak times. He doesn't even know why he needs her, and yet he looks for her—yearns for her—and when she comes, she holds him, whispers soothing words to his ear, strokes his dark, unkempt hair and tells him that it'll be all right. He knows she's lying when she does these things, and she knows that he knows that whatever they have—whatever thing they share—is all pretend. He's hurt her before, and she's hurt him in return, and sometimes they vow that the next time they'd see each other, they'd kill them off without sparing a thought.

They've seen each other more than ten times.

And it hasn't happened yet.

&&&&&&&&

It's supposed to be romantic. The atmosphere's cooperating for once—the air is cool, the night so quiet, the dark sky dotted with just the right amount of stars to light up the lake. It's only the two of them that hour, standing a foot away from each other in an attempt to go against whatever is going on between them. Both wear identical expressions of sheer disgust and anger, irritated blue eyes boring into burning pools of green. She violently tucks a lock of black hair behind her ear and huffs, "Don't get me wrong, Potter. Just because I'm here doesn't mean that I—I—you know."

In reply to this, he thrusts a rose to her and petulantly snaps, "And this doesn't mean I bloody fancy you, Parkinson."

For a moment she looks surprised with his gift and for a split second he could have sworn her features had softened, her lips almost forming into a gentle smile, but all too soon it is gone, replaced by an unpleasant scowl. Once more her dark cobalt eyes are blazing in intensity. "I hate you, Potter."

His own emerald eyes are brimming with passion. "I hate you too, Parkinson."

They glare at each other for what seems to be so long, in silence, in heat, in anger, in pressure-

And then, in a whirlwind of events—

She falls into his arms and kisses him.

&&&&&&&&

There'd been a battle today, one of the many series they've had for many months now. He'd stood on one side of the field and she on the other. It was a great battle indeed, for many of who were there were old schoolmates—his closest friends stood on each side of him and she stood by her Slytherin allies. Sooner or later, the battle began and soon enough, jets of varying colors were shooting across the air. He was doing fine, really, not once crumpling down to the ground like many of them. He was trained, after all, to endure pain and this—this was nothing.

But the moment he'd caught sight of her, cringing on the dirt, her long black hair masking her expression of pain, his legs had begun to move on their own, bringing him to where she lay—he wasn't supposed to do that (definitely a taboo for the both of them)—but there he was anyway, ignoring the ongoing fights around them, his normally hard face now wearing a look of obvious concern. She'd given him an astonished look, as if to ask, What the hell are you doing here! And he couldn't give her a proper answer, because he didn't know what to say. It wasn't like he cared for her, but then again, why was he now here, right beside her, forgetting the fact that they were in the midst of war and that in the battlefield, they were enemies?

She was vigilant enough to catch sight of a blonde Death Eater making his way to where they were. With an urgent expression, she mouthed the word Go! and deliberately pushed him away. Go away, Potter! She hissed, her tone anxious and panicking.

And soon enough, before he could ask why, she'd hobbled away towards the darkness.

&&&&&&&&

There'd been a Quidditch match today and for what seemed like the fifth or sixth time, he'd been brought in because of that damn sport. He was hit by a Bludger right on the chest and from what she'd heard, his rib was broken—she'd seen him spiral down to the grass when he was hit with a great thud, and no, she did NOT stand on her feet while her heart practically drummed against her chest in anxiety--but she didn't care, not at all, because he didn't matter to her.

Which doesn't explain why she's slipping silently into the Hospital Wing in her nightgown after curfew. Oh no, she's not worried at all about his welfare—she's just there for hers because Merlin knows how uneasy she was from the moment the game ended up till the moment she'd sneaked in to see him. She scans the fairly large room and gives a silent gasp as she sees him occupying the bed furthest from the door. His whole torso is bandaged, his hair unkempt (as it usually was) and she quickly speeds up to stand by him. He's asleep at the moment, his face quite restful and calm and for a while, her guard goes down and she breathes a sigh of relief, her lips forming into a soft smile knowing that he's safe from harm.

But in the next instant, she scowls angrily at his sleeping figure, hating him all the more and she's tempted to smack him hard on the face for making her all troubled all day. She takes the seat beside him, lays her head down on the free space on his mattress and contemptuously mutters, "You stupid git—getting yourself hurt… and they call you a Quidditch star—ha! Sure you are."

It's just moments when she slowly falls asleep. She doesn't realize she's holding his hand.

She doesn't realize he's opened his eyes and smiled hazily down at her.

&&&&&&&&

Hermione Granger died last night. Everyone's huddled close under the rain, all wearing that mournful black attire, sober and remorseful for the loss of a great witch, a great soldier, a great person; a great friend. She's standing in the shadows beside a young man with dull, gray eyes hidden under the dark hood of his cloak. His lips are pressed firmly together in neither a smirk nor a scowl.

She takes sight of him beside their other friend, Weasley. They're bent on their knees before her gravestone, silently crying because their most treasured friend is now gone. His glasses are askew upon his face, his hair dripping wet and tears rolling down his cheeks. It's a sad scene—the two men don't seem to want to go, in fear that in doing so, Granger would actually be lost to them forever. They've never looked so forlorn, never seemed as lost and hollow as they now are. But sooner or later, everyone else gradually leaves. It's a few more minutes when the pair departs as well, and it is still raining when she and her companion come out of the shadows and to her grave. There on the stone is a familiar name, and below is an inscription of who she was in life. There they stay for long, standing before her grave, heads bowed, expressions grim and sober.

The rain is pouring harder and she almost asks him for them to leave now, but when she looks upon his face, she stops.

His mercurial eyes are glassy—they never were before—and he's removed his hood to reveal pale, blonde hair, tousled and dripping because of the rain. Hesitantly, he drops down to his knees and reaches out for her name. He traces the letters with his finger, slowly, carefully, as if frightened to break them with his touch, staring quite vaguely at the stone, his expression distant and stoic.

It is then, when there is nothing to hear but the pounding of the rain, nothing to see but the dark shades of gray, that she realizes he's broken down and crying. Crying for a girl he'll never quite forget.

&&&&&&&&

They meet once more in the darkness, in a forgotten place, holding on to each other in the hours of the night. It's when he's lazily playing with her hair that she tells him of what happened in the cemetery.

Their position was the same as ours, you know, she says quietly.

How so?

Like this. Except…

What?

Theirs wasn't pretend.

&&&&&&&&

The last battle's in their old school, once glorious and renowned, now crumbling in pieces because of the War. Many are dead, few are injured, and the rest are still up and about dueling with their enemies. She runs, runs for her life because her side is losing—it was inevitable after all and she's sure that she'll die in this battle, not unless she flees; disappears from this place.

It's inevitable too that she'd meet him in all places. He's there right before her, cornering her in a corridor with a dead end. His bright green eyes are blazing, his face pale and sweaty—her heart is beating painfully and she knows, she just knows that this'll be the last time she'll see him. It hurts, surprisingly, but she knows it shouldn't because after all, what did they have? Nothing they could call real.

She puts on that hateful scowl, whipping her own wand out in defense. Her eyes are prickly.

Pansy.

It's the last time he'll call her that. She almost smiles.

Do you love me?

It's a good thing she's clothed in the darkness because the tears begin to fall.

She almost laughs.

Why? Do you love me, Harry?

No.

It's silence that ensues in that cold corridor. And then—

She lets out that shrill giggle she'd had since she was a girl. She's long been broken after he's said that tiny word. What else had she expected?

Because perhaps she'd had hope.

I hate you, Potter.

I hate you too, Parkinson.

And soon there is a flash of green light, filling the lonely corridor of two with its emerald glow, extinguishing the shadows they've long been shrouded with. Slowly, it dims and she falls dramatically upon the floor, a sad smile gracing her lips, her eyes still brimming with tears. Her wand is pointed to her chest, her form rigid.

He falls upon his knees beside her.

And it is then, when they're in the darkness alone together, when she's no longer there, that they find out that it was no longer pretend.

&&&&&&&&

It's raining on the day of their graduation. They're both dressed in their graduation robes, holding their diplomas in their hands, when they spare a moment to see each other for the last time. Tomorrow is when they join the war.

Her blue eyes are bright; his green eyes intense.

This is probably the last time they'll see each other.

'I'll kill you the moment I see you, Potter.'

'The same goes for you, Parkinson.'

The sun is slowly setting and the shadows are silently growing upon them.

'Forget me, will you?' he asks.

'Yes.'

'Then I'll forget you too.'

'Good.'

They're standing a foot apart from each other. So close but never touching as they look out in the distance.

Then—

'Do you love me, Pansy?'

She turns, surprised, because it's the first time he calls her that. And for some reason, it sounds so nice when he says her name. Her heart is soaring. 'Why? Do you love me, Harry?'

He curtly smiles. Silence comes.

And it's slowly broken with his quiet answer.

'Yes. Yes, I do.'