Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.

Author's Note: SPOILER WARNINGS FOR HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE! The setting is a few hours before the Dark Mark is raised on the tower.

Soft Goodbyes


The note gave no name, time, place; but Pansy fully comprehended its meaning. Draco Malfoy stood across the common room, his face grim and set. His eyes darted over her as if she were a ghost he could see through. She nodded once to him, no flirtatious smile or shout of an embarrassing pet name. Tonight was the night she said goodbye to all of her dreams, and she would not wear a mask of ignorance any longer.

"Blaise, as interesting as your date with a Romanian sorceress was, I must retire for the evening," Pansy said.

The wizard gave her a strange look. The other Slytherins around her mimicked Blaise Zambini's look of confusion. Where was the whiny Pansy Parkinson known for absorbing gossip like a sea sponge?

"Are you feeling alright?" Millicent asked.

Pansy blinked, unable to believe she had allowed herself to be so obvious. "I'm fine, of course. I just feel a headache coming on. I don't suppose your big headedness is contagious, is it?" She aimed the blow at Blaise. The wizard only smiled at the playful stab.

She walked away, up the steps to the girl's dormitory. None of her roommates had come to bed yet. She walked to her dresser, pulling out the draws one at a time. Draco told her to only bring her school bag, so she would have to choose what stayed in the dormitory with her clothes and books. She pulled out a brush that her grandmother had given her and shoved it into the bag along with a small photograph album, a few trinkets, and lastly a ragged stuffed snake Draco had given her in their first year. She smiled at the memories swimming in her mind and shoved the small bag beneath her pillow. She went to bed fully dressed, her blanket up to her neck to cover her clothing. Pansy feigned sleep as her roommates drug themselves in, still chatting loudly about some unlucky Ravenclaw.

Pansy waited until the moon no longer shined through her window and snores sounded from the other beds. The room was pitched into darkness. Pansy crawled out from beneath her blankets, snatching her possessions. She crept downstairs to the common room. The area was cold and dank, but she ignored the chills running down her bared legs. Someone waited in the entranceway.

Draco was a shadow in a hooded robe, but Pansy could see him clearly. He gestured for her and disappeared into the corridor outside. Pansy followed, staying far behind him. She watched him turn a corner and open a door. Pansy slipped in behind him. They were quiet a moment longer as Draco cast a silencing charm on the broom closet.

"Lumos," Pansy hissed. The tiny room was cast with light.

Draco slowly pulled down his hood. "Did anyone see you?"

"No," Pansy answered. She waited a moment before stepping forward and embracing him in a warm hug. "When do we leave?"

"Soon," Draco said.

Pansy stared into his face. His eyes were red and distant. "You're doing it then?"

Draco didn't answer.

"I thought you'd given up. I thought we would just leave, Draco," Pansy panted. She could feel tears gathering in her eyes. "Draco, we have the money to start over. Let someone else. . ."

"The Dark Lord asked me, Pansy. He asked me," Draco whispered. "He will expect me to obey him. If I do not, we will never be free to live out our lives." Draco pushed her back and put a hand at her waist. He moved it sensually across her abdomen. "Our child will not be free from him either. Do you honestly think I want my son wearing this mark?"

Pansy raised her hand and slapped him soundly across the face. "Draco, tell me—you know from some experience—is it better to have a father who is gone all of the time? Is it better for your child to know that you are a killer?" Draco was silent, petrified by Pansy's questions. "And what if you die? What if you leave me here—alone? What if everyone spits on our child and tells him stories about what he once was? We should get away from here!"

"Shut up, Pansy," Draco begged. "I know all of the consequences."

Pansy buried her face in Draco's shoulder. "We're too young for this," she cried. "We're much too young."

Draco pulled his long fingers through her dark hair and put a thumb against her lip. "This must be done. I have to go now."

"No." Pansy grabbed to his robes. "Please, Draco. . ."

He peeled her hands off of him and bent down. Their lips met with a softness that was almost ritualistic for the both of them. Draco pulled away. "If I make it tonight, if I succeed, then I will come back for you, Pansy. I will come back. But if something goes wrong, you must leave as if I was nothing to you. You must request that you take a short trip; I know you can talk your father into allowing it. Go to a muggle city if you must. Don't let your parents know you're pregnant. If you need help, my mother knows how to keep a secret. Do you understand?"

Pansy covered her face, tears pouring down.

Draco shook her. "Do you understand?"

"Yes," Pansy cried. "Yes."

Draco kissed her softly and walked away. He shut the door behind him, leaving her standing in the broom closet. Pansy slid to the floor.

"Goodbye, Draco," she whispered.

She waited in silence until silence could not exist amongst the screams and curses sounding through the castle. She covered her eyes with both hands until the quiet came again. She waited on, but a piece of her knew that Draco would not return for her.