Title: Playing Pretend

Author: FragrantPowders

Beta: Emma/monifieth

Rating: PG-13/T

Warnings: A little het, lots of angst.

Disclaimer: We all know it by now. I don't own these characters. Anything you recognise belongs to JK Rowling.

Author's Notes: Songfic based on the song "Highwayman" by Johnny Cash.

i was a highwayman

along the coach roads i did ride
with sword and pistol by my side
many a young maid lost her baubles to my trade
many a soldier shed his lifeblood on my blade
the bastards hung me in the spring of twenty-five
but I am still alive…

She is Pansy Ophelia Parkinson (18 years old, blue-eyed and blonde, Marked, engaged to be married to Draco Lucius Malfoy) and she likes pretending that the war does not exist. She likes pretending that she is not at the Manor to keep an eye on Draco for the Dark Lord, but because Draco and she will marry at a beautiful ceremony when they have won the war (because they will – win the war, that is). She likes pretending that Draco has brought her here because he is a strong knight who wanted to take her away so they could be together despite the world's objections (no one ever objected to her being Draco's fiancée, not even her). Pansy likes pretending – and she is good at it.

Right now she is standing in front of that beautiful golden mirror in her chambers, her eyes roaming down the blood-red evening gown she found in her closet earlier this morning. Her arms and shoulders look creamy compared to the dark red, shimmering material of the dress (she pretends her Mark is not grinning at her, branded into the skin above her wrist). She looks sophisticated with her hair hanging loosely down her back. She looks like the princess she loves pretending she is.

Suddenly she realises that Draco is standing in the doorway, watching her. She holds his gaze in the mirror for a long time (she tries sending him a flirtatious smile, but he does not respond), before he finally coughs uncomfortably (he looks nervous).

"You don't have time for that, Pansy," he tells her, looking over his shoulder as if he is expecting someone to come bouncing up the stairs (something in the way he holds his body; like a gazelle ready to flee makes her suspect that maybe he is). "They are coming and they are many."

Turning around slowly, she stares at him (all the castles in Spain that she has so carefully built are turning into grey dust, carried away by the wind). "What do you mean, Draco?" she asks, feeling panicked. "Who's coming?" Her hands shake so badly that she tears a hole in her beautiful, expensive dress. Draco never gets as far as to answer her because in that moment there are footsteps in the foyer downstairs (hundreds of them; it sounds like elephants bolting over the savannah). He reaches for his wand and disappears down the hallway, out of sight (she imagines that he faces them one to a hundred – like a good Malfoy heir would, though she knows it is more likely that he is trying to escape through the Winter Gardens).

She stands frozen when the screaming begins and curses whistle though the air downstairs. Draco sounds desperate (his voice high-pitched) over the humming mass of Auror-voices as they seem to have cornered him ("This is private land, you have NO right to be here!", "Don't get any nearer; I am warning you – I know curses you have not even seen in your worst nightmares!"). Soon the shouting stops and she knows they have stunned him; that she is now on her own.

Taking a deep breath she runs to the bedside table, taking her old, silver jewel case (she has to have something to sell if she wants to survive). She opens it shortly to look the contents over. The first thing she sees is that gushy ring (with a pearl that anybody with class can see is completely fake) she stole from Luna Lovegood when she had disarmed her on the battlefield months ago. Rodolphus had called for retreat and she had not had time to kill the girl ("It's your lucky day, Loony – and I'll just take that…"). She will not be able to sell that one so she puts it on instead, snapping the box closed.

The Aurors have moved closer; she can hear a couple of them on the stairs (she has to hurry). Beginning to chant in a low voice, she closes her eyes and imagines herself with a dagger in her chest and her breathtaking evening dress soiled in blood (she was always good at creating illusions). When Pansy opens her eyes she sees a perfect image of herself on the floor; sprawled out with a shining blade buried in her heart; blood pooling around her body slowly. It is a doll; a picture charmed to feel, smell and look human (no one will ever know).

Pansy can hear the Ministry people run down the hallway towards her chambers (she killed two Muggle boys last week because His red eyes had demanded her to; she killed Alastor Moody because Draco had not been able to – they will make her spent the rest of her life in prison) and she runs to her bathroom, closing the door after herself slowly and soundlessly. Pressed against the door she hears the Aurors arrive; their yells of shock echoing through the Manor.

"She's dead," a woman whispers (she sounds about ready to be sick) and Pansy smiles as she slips into the secret passageway that will lead her outside the Manor gates (not even Draco knew about it; she discovered it all by herself and kept it as her personal secret).

"Pansy Parkinson committed suicide before the Ministry appointed Aurors could get to her," they write in their reports and Pansy calls it freedom as she runs (barefooted and with a torn dress slapping around her ankles, the hem wet from dew) through the forest where spring has painted everything a light green (nothing like Avada Kedavra). She keeps running and calls it being alive (staying alive).

i was a sailor

i was born upon the tide
and with the sea i did abide.
i sailed a schooner round the horn to mexico
i went aloft and furled the mainsail in a blow
and when the yards broke off they said that I got killed
but i am living still…

She is Dylan Charlotta Dyer (23 years old, green-eyed and a redhead, pierced in her left nipple, divorced from a Muggle called Brencis Karpenko) and she likes pretending that she actually thinks selkies are the most interesting things in the world (even though it is a lie; and a big one at that).

Pansy has been Dylan for almost five years now. Along the way she came up with a story that was believable. Dylan does not know her father (her mother was a prostitute for some years to make it through life and Dylan was a result of that period); Dylan went to Durmstrang and after graduation she started researching selkies in the North Sea. This was where she met Brencis whom she married and loved for two years before divorcing him because he discovered that she was a witch.

Pansy thinks Dylan has had an interesting life (after her divorce Dylan travelled the world for a year, and now she has ended up in the North Sea again as a passenger on the good ship "Chelsea"). She likes telling people her new identity's life story; she likes pretending that all of these things have really happened to her (and Pansy was always good at pretending). People are fond of Dylan in a way no one was ever fond of Pansy Parkinson, so Pansy enjoys being Dylan (the only bad thing about her is the selkies; Pansy hates selkies).

"Hey, Dyer – pay attention, will you?"

Pansy looks up; the wind catching a lock of her straight, red hair and blowing it into her face (in the beginning it was hard work to keep the Glamour Charm up all the time; but she has become good at it – she can hold it for days without having to redo it). She pushes her hair out of the way and focuses her attention on her fellow researcher.

Blaise Zabini has not changed much since school ended (though they have both become older and she has become someone else entirely), and his smirk is exactly like she recalls it from their days together in Slytherin.

In the first couple of weeks after Blaise joined her on the ship as her co-worker she was nervous that he would look right through her and she would have to escape to somewhere else and build a new identity from scratch all over again. But he is too fascinated by the way she sometimes cannot hold back an unexplained smile because she knows him better than he could ever imagine (she remembers the time she found him and Draco wanking together) and by her red hair (he had always been into redheads; and she had known it ever since fifth year when he started to ogle the Weaselette) to question why she sometimes has to pause before answering one of his questions.

She feels attracted to his subtle and rather charming ways of getting her to sleep with him; but she cannot give in to it (she has slept with a fair share of men during these five years of running; but never anyone she knew from before). She is afraid that her Glamour will slip or that something will go wrong. She is her own best friend and as much as she might want to have sex with her old schoolmate, she cannot. There is too much at stake.

"Zabini, stop yelling – you'll scare the selkie children away," she tells him, looking out over the ocean. They found a new family of selkies yesterday and the head of the flock wanted them to be present at their naming-ceremony of five newborn selkies (a great honour, but Pansy does not care; the babies looked like deformed bunches of seaweed). Now, afterwards, many of the little selkies have chosen to stay in the surface of the water to watch Blaise and her work.

Suddenly she can feel Blaise press up against her back, his hands coming to a rest on her hips. Pansy stiffens (this is not happening, please step away), but Blaise takes no notice as he leans in closer, whispering "You know – I start getting tired of waiting, Dyer…" huskily in her ear.

She shivers.

"Waiting for what, Zabini, I don't recall promising you anything," she responds, trying to sound firm and plaster a smirk on her face (but she cannot make it right and she tightens her grip on the rail till her knuckles go white). Blaise snorts, trailing feather-light kisses down her neck. She watches with wide eyes as the selkie children dive under the ship (she knows they will emerge on the other side again, they always do), Blaise's hands sneaking up under her blouse.

She spins around to face him, panic making her bottom lip tremble slightly (he is getting too close; he could discover her secret and he was never on their side in the war; he would tell on her if he knew). "Don't," she tries, begging (Pansy never begged, but Pansy can pretend she is Dylan, she has done so for years now), "We shouldn't be doing this, Blaise – I've just been through a terrible divorce and…" The words stumble from her lips. Any excuse will do as long as he steps back and leaves her be.

He does not. Instead he leans in and kisses her.

It feels nice; kissing Blaise (she knows him so well; she feels safe with him because he has known her since she was eleven – except he has not… she is not Pansy Parkinson anymore, but Dylan Dyer and he is in love with an illusion and Pansy is too). She returns his kiss anyway; parting her lips, allowing his tongue access. She is not sure for how long they keep it up (this slow battle of tongues and rough press of lips), but finally panic starts to surge through her and she realises just what this means. She pushes at his chest to get him to back off and he makes an amused sound against her lips instead of obeying her silent request. Tipping her chin up with a finger to explore her throat with his tongue, he steps up so close that she can feel his erection pressing into her hip. Pansy tries to scold her breath not to come out in heavy gasps; tries to make her brain start functioning (she has to find a way out and she has to run again; this is getting dangerous).

"I don't want to play games anymore, Dylan -" he mumbles against her neck, unwilling to let go. Pansy feels ready to cry from frustration. She hates to do this to him (to herself), but it is about survival and that was always the most important thing to her. Her own continued existence.

"No games, Blaise," she says, congratulation herself with how little her voice trembles. "But there's a shark coming and the selkies are on the other side of the boat – you should go warn them." (Her imagination was always brilliant).

He sighs, pushing himself away from her, his hands gripping hers shortly. "That ring is so ugly I might consider buying you a new one," he says, winking at her with a smirk, letting his thumb grace over the pearl on Luna Lovegood's ring (not hers in the beginning, but now it feels as if it belongs to her – or at least she can pretend it does).

Pansy cannot find her voice to answer him, and she feels simultaneously relieved and scared when he turns his back on her, walking quickly to the opposite bulwark to warn the selkies about the non-existent shark. Pansy hides her face in her hands and lets the Glamour Charm fade away (for the first time in 43 hours she is looking at her own hands and the hair falling down her back is blonde and slightly curly).

She hides herself with a Disillusionment Charm, her body slowly fading and becoming one with the background. Keeping an eye on Blaise's back as he is searching the surface for any sharks, she starts chanting the well-known charms, creating an image of Dylan Dyer leaning over the rail (just a little too much and the doll will disappear forever). She screams with a desperate edge to her voice as she lets the illusion topple over; falling into the waves (it is a scream telling this life goodbye; telling Blaise that it is over and it turns into tears too quickly). Blaise turns around in slow-motion, his eyes following the movement of Dylan Dyer the Doll overbalancing and drowning in the sea. With a terrorized glint in his black eyes he starts running and Pansy turns her back on it. She is so sorry… (for herself and for Blaise because she kind of loved him and he never loved her; only Dylan). When he starts yelling, eyes searching the waves, she knows he will not notice her Apparating.

"Dylan Dyer, selkie-expert, drowned," writes Rita Skeeter two days later, "Tragedy at sea!"

When the air closes in on her; the barrier of distance and space pressing around her chest, Pansy realises that running might not be freedom ("Dylan!" Blaise shouted at the waves, "DYLAN!"). That staying alive and being alive do not necessarily have to be the same thing.

i was a dam builder

across the river deep and wide
where steel and water did collide
a place called boulder on the wild colorado
i slipped and fell into the wet concrete below
they buried me in that great tomb that knows no sound
but I am still around…

She is Rain Quiana Ravenhill (28 years old, with brown eyes and short black hair, a tattoo of three raindrops running down her inner thigh, single and rumour has it that she is asexual) and she likes pretending that her life is okay like this. She likes pretending that she actually cares about whether or not the American/British Magical Cooperation works as it should; she likes pretending that she has an importance when it comes to solving international problems and straighten out the differences between the American Government of Magical Business and the British Ministry of Magic (she feels so tired; her British accent is still mocked at work, but at least no one in the States have the slightest idea about who Pansy Parkinson, former Death Eater, was – sometimes she doubts that she even knows it herself).

Pansy has been Rain Ravenhill for five years and Rain is everything Dylan was not. She is boring and dresses like a young McGonagall; she grew up in a normal family with a Wizard for father and a Muggle for mother. Rain has three siblings, all younger than her and she went to Harlem Academy for Witches after her family moved to America when she was 10. Rain is a successful British-American mediator and she earns a lot of money being cunning and creative and using her imagination to no end (enough money that she could keep the jewel case and the three precious necklaces that had been in her mother's family – the Burke family – left in it). Pansy hates everything about Rain with such a vehemence that she sometimes has difficulties looking at herself in the mirror in the mornings (but she has become a specialist in keeping up her Glamour Charm; she can go for a month now without having to change it).

But Rain has no friends, because ever since she gave up Dylan Pansy has been afraid of getting too close to people (what if they figured something out?); she has worked her arse off to get her life to be successful (she is still enough of a Pureblood to somewhat believe that money can solve all her problems) and it all leaves her feeling empty and old. Her feet hurt from running and the high-heeled shoes Rain uses because they make such a satisfying clicking sound when she walks through the corridors of the American Ministry building (people know when it is Rain walking towards a meeting room). She is not the bully she was in school, but the power she has at work reminds Pansy of her time at Hogwarts. Rarely do people dare to contradict her and she enjoys it as one of the few little pleasures that she has left in life.

"Miss Ravenhill," her secretary calls through the door and Pansy looks up with a frown on her face (the best thing about the haircut Rain has is that it never falls into her eyes). Amber, who is actually just an apprentice who has chosen to stay with Rain throughout both her two periods of training (Pansy feels honoured in some strange way), stands in the doorway with her pony tail and square glasses (Pansy has noticed that she looks quite nice actually), waiting to catch Pansy's attention. Pansy nods sharply to indicate she is listening (but also to shake herself out of it, no more staring at girls – she is not like that).


"You have a guest – from the UK," Amber shifts from foot to foot and Pansy wonders why she is nervous; Rain often gets visitors from England since people seem to think she is better at dealing with all the problems Englishmen always bring with them (Rain's story considered it is quite stupid, but being Pansy she knows she in fact does a better job at communicating with her fellow countrymen). "She wants to arrange a meeting with you while she's still in town…"

"Did she say what it was about?" Pansy sighs, tapping her quill against her scroll of parchment on her desk. She reminds herself of Granger and for a second she feels nauseous (look what she has become). "And who is it, anyway?"

Amber does not answer so Pansy looks up, ready to let her anger out on the girl but what she is faced with makes her mouth drop open. There, in front of Amber, stands a 27 year old Luna Lovegood with a mysterious smile on her lips and eyes sparkling. Suddenly she understands why Amber was nervous – Luna looks like nothing these offices have seen before (her hair and her eyes are the same; it reminds Pansy a bit of her own reflection and she does not like it; Luna is wearing a cloak the same colour as autumn leaves and from her ears two, shining blue birds are dangling). Pansy has to bite her lip not to ask "Loony?"; instead she raises one eye brow in a professional, questioning manner, trying to make her heart stop beating so fast (another ghost from the past; and she is wearing Luna's cheap ring today, she does not even know why she has kept it all these years).

"Can I help you?"

Amber takes her cue and closes the door as she leaves. Luna just stands there (she has grown taller and where she only managed to look thin in school her body seems elegant now; royal), her eyes roaming over Pansy's (no – Rain's) features.

"What do you want?" Pansy snaps (very Pansy Parkinson like) as she starts feeling a bit freaked out by Luna's big, staring eyes (pretty though; grey like the blue waters when they mirror the storm-promising sky). Luna smiles and sits down without saying anything. Pansy stares at her as she makes herself comfortable in the chair on the opposite side of her desk, the little birds twittering a happy song (there was a reason she was called Loony, Pansy suddenly remembers).

"I just wanted to know if we could arrange a meeting tonight at my hotel, there are some matters I would like to discuss…" Luna answers airily, that smile which drives Pansy crazy gracing her lips again (Mona Lisa smile, I know something you don't).

"I'm not sure I'm free tonight," Pansy says a little too hurriedly (already planning to kill Rain Ravenhill off; maybe in a car accident – yes, that would work). "But… Thursday perhaps?" She tries seeming professional; as if she is really just going through her schedule in her head, trying to find somewhere to plot Lovegood in. Luna smiles kindly, leaning forward.

"Rain," she says slowly, her eyes locked with Pansy's (she is afraid they are not brown anymore, but blue like the sky again), forming the word as if she does not quite believe it is a real one (it makes Pansy shudder from fright which is stupid; Luna cannot do her any harm, can she?). "Please come by tonight. It would please me to see you and get the issues settled."

She smiles and Pansy stares at her because it is a true smile, teeth gleaming and lips slightly pink (Luna's upper lip is a little bigger than her bottom lip and it makes Pansy want to reach out and let her thumb follow it, to feel its softness).

"Who… What issues?" Pansy stammers, trying to look away and to tell herself Luna cannot demand of her to meet her outside working hours and she should just say no (just say no, but she cannot make her tongue wrap around it). Luna leans back, two fingertips pressed against her left ring finger, sliding up and down in a slow pace as if she is toying with a ring that is no longer there (Pansy knows that she can very will be doing exactly that). Her eyes linger a little too long on the fake pearl on Pansy's right hand and Pansy stands up to draw her attention away.

"I'm looking for someone," Luna finally says, staying seated and watching Pansy (Rain) with serious eyes now. Pansy feels herself shake and grips the edge of her desk hard. Luna nods as if something has fallen into place in her head. She smiles gently at Pansy, reaching one hand out to touch the desk (why; to get closer to Pansy?). "It's mostly paperwork, but it would be wonderful to be able to return to England with things in order, right?" She sends Pansy a look she cannot interpret with all her skills in communication and pretending (that look is what, more than anything else, tells Pansy that she has no choice).

"All right," she says, trying to make her accent seem more American than British (almost succeeding). "I'll meet you tonight – but only shortly; I have other plans too."

Luna gets to her feet, her cloak falling around her in waves resembling the oak trees around Hogwarts in autumn. Her eyes are more blue than grey when she shakes Pansy's hand (fingertips ghosting over the ring, and Pansy thinks she can feel it get a little warmer against her skin).

When the door closes after Lovegood Pansy leans her forehead against the cool glass of the window in her office, trying to collect her thoughts. Rain Ravenhill would never have been made nervous by a visit by someone from her past; but Pansy is not Rain (not really). For not the first time these past five years she wonders if it is worth it all; running. If it is worth it; staying alive when life seems so bloody pointless.

i'll always be around..

and around and around and
around and around…

Luna Lovegood is staying at a Muggle hotel downtown; close to everything there is to see in Washington. Pansy stands outside the anonymous wooden door, hoping for everything she has that this will not prove to be a stupid, stupid mistake (what if there is no way out of there?). But on the other hand; she is tired of running; maybe whatever Luna has in store for her is better than that?

Luna opens the door after Pansy's third knock; standing in the doorway in an elegant, white summer dress that goes to her knees (it suits her; she looks young, angelic). Pansy forces Rain's features into a smirk, going for confidence if she wants to get out of this alive.

"Here I am," she says, a slight tilt to her voice (Draco used to do this when he was impatient; the memory makes Pansy's throat tighten), "Now, let's get that paperwork done so I can get to my other appointments."

Luna lets her in wordlessly. The hotel room is not one of the most luxurious Pansy has ever seen (there are black-and-white posters on the walls of landscapes and a laughing child), but it is big enough to be comfortable for a person who is here on business. They sit down opposite each other at the dinner table, Pansy is trying not to move too restlessly as Luna pours some bubbling white wine (not champagne; not golden enough) into their glasses.

"Chinese beer," Luna answers her unspoken question, "I find that it tastes more sweet than most white wines and a bit more fruity than champagne." Pansy sips the beer slowly, trying to get used to the sweet taste of it (when Pansy cannot take the pressure of being everybody else but herself she gets smashed on Firewhisky, not fruity alcohol like this – but trust Luna to be into it). Finally she looks up to meet Luna's gaze over the rim of her glass. Luna's eyes are wide and knowing and Pansy realises the other girl knows everything (she has no idea how she can know, but she does).

"It's not a ring I'd imagine you wearing," Luna says, putting her glass back on the table and reaching out for Pansy's hand, letting her fingertips brush over the glassy pearl. "Too tacky for you. It reminds me of a ring I had once, actually." At these words she looks up, forcing Pansy to lock gazes with her, smiling slightly (oh, Pansy knows Luna had a ring like this; it is hers). Pansy tries to take back her hand, but Luna does not let go, her fingers stronger than what their frail look gives them credit for.

"Have you got to see a lot of the world?" Luna asks her, her fingertips making soothing circles on the back of Pansy's hand that is lying limply in her grip (for some reason it makes her feel at ease; safe as she has not felt since Blaise, and this is even another kind of safety). Pansy tries to get the lump in her throat to go away, because she wants to answer Luna's question. She wants to answer the question in those smoky eyes (who are you, they ask; who are you?).

"I've seen enough," she says, and it is true (she has seen the prostitutes' area in Moscow when she had no money left and only her mother's precious Burke necklaces to sell; she has seen the poverty in American society's forgotten quarters; she has seen herself die two times and said goodbye to too many things – yes, Pansy Parkinson then Dylan Dyer and now Rain Ravenhill has seen enough; more than enough). Luna nods and lets go of Pansy's hand.

"Let's not play pretend anymore, Rain Ravenhill," she says matter-of-factly, her eyes more cornflower blue than grey (Pansy likes them that way; wide and blue and full of new chances) and her hair falls over her shoulders as she leans forward, towards Pansy, "You should come back to England – it's quite lovely these days when people have finally buried the war and said goodbye to those who were lost in it. Nowadays forgiveness is not hard to get and even if forgiveness is not what you are looking for you can still be yourself there at night."

Pansy sits in stunned silence (her heart beats so fast, so hard, that she feels as if her veins will explode). Then she gets up and walks to the door in quick strides (it is too much and the sweet taste of the Chinese beer clings to her taste buds – it is about to choke her because life was never sweet, not to her). Luna follows her and presses her hand flatly against the dark wood of the door as Pansy is about to open it. They stare at each other forever until Luna leans up (she is still not as tall as Pansy, though Rain is even taller) and presses an insistent kiss to her lips.

"Think about it," she pleads quietly, "please – and if you decide to give it a chance then bring Pansy Parkinson with you tomorrow night, because I think I'm willing to give her a chance. And I like her better than Rain Ravenhill." She holds Pansy's gaze and for a short, fleeting moment Pansy lets her eyes shift to blue (almost the same shade of blue as Luna's were minutes before). Luna smiles and opens the door. As Pansy exits she knows that she has somewhere (someone) to return to, now, when she can stop running.

i fly a starship

across the universe divide
and when i reach the other side
i'll find a place to rest my spirit if i can
perhaps i may become a highwayman again
or i may simply be a single drop of rain
but i will remain.

Rain Ravenhill who is actually Pansy Parkinson in disguise stands next to Luna Lovegood in the International Portkey Department of the American Government of Magical Business. They are standing a little too close to each other for them to go as two good friends and the way Luna's fingers never stops drawing little dreamy images in Pansy's palm is a dead give away (okay, maybe Pansy is like that). Pansy does not care much (Luna is a good kisser and when they make love she reminds Pansy of everything she used to be and shows her everything she has potential to become).

"I never liked using Portkeys," Luna says conversationally, her fingers smoothly entwining with Pansy's. Pansy looks at her with a raised eyebrow, waiting for her explanation (Luna always has explanations to everything, typically Ravenclaw). Luna smiles and leans up so she can whisper her secret in Pansy's ear.

"My father used to tell me that the Ministry used Portkeys to send the people they didn't like to far-away islands where they would never be found…"

Pansy laughs (Rain usually does not laugh; she smirks instead or smiles evilly – but Pansy is not Rain; she is Pansy). "You're crazy, Luna," she tells the girl, keeping an eye out for their number on the magical screen on the wall. Luna giggles and gives Pansy's hand a squeeze.

"We are all crazy in our own ways."

Something nags Pansy and has done so all day (ever since she woke up as herself with her head on Luna's shoulder – her own curls falling over her chest as a soft duvet). Luna pauses in her happy chatter and turns towards Pansy as if she can sense that Pansy has something to ask (that is how things are with Luna; she knows – she always knows).

"How did you find me?" Pansy asks and Rain's black hair tickles her cheek. Luna lifts their joined hands up and pulls the familiar ring gently off Pansy's finger. Pansy stares as the pearl catches the light and reflects it as the cheap coloured glass it actually is.

"My mother gave this to me before she died," Luna explains (Pansy wonders how she had managed dealing with all her doubts before Luna had showed up to make things clear to her). "There's a Detector Charm on it so I couldn't run away without her and dad knowing where I was."

Pansy stares at Luna dumbfounded (someone has been looking for her; for her – Pansy Parkinson); she takes in the Muggle jeans Luna is wearing today and the horribly orange silk shirt that clings to her form (Luna is everything Pansy had always thought she would never find attractive); she savours the way Luna presses a gentle kiss to the back of her hand before letting go and she tells herself that life has never handed her anything this beautiful (and it is true).

One of the Ministry Officials call out their number and Luna steps forward to show the impatient Ministry Travel Guide that they know it is their turn. Pansy looks at the ring for some moments (she will give it back to Luna when they arrive to her flat in London; as a present) before following her to where a sour-looking woman holds out a little UK ticket. Their Portkey.

Rain Ravenhill has got a new job in the British Ministry of Magic where she will be Head of the American Cooperation's Department. Pansy does not think much about it; she just looks forward to seeing England again and to be able to come home from work and let the Glamour Charm fall like people would change out off their working clothes.

As the Portkey activates and the pull from it takes her abroad to familiar, English territory she can feel Luna bumping against her side and she thinks that what she looks forward to more than to anything else is to be able to be who she is; Pansy Ophelia Parkinson (and have someone caring for her as nothing but that).

"We look alike," Luna had said last night, tugging at one of Pansy's blonde, wavy curls, "I like that."

Pansy has stopped running (stopped playing pretend) and it is the most amazing freedom she has ever tasted.

and i'll be back again, and again, and again, and again, and again…