A/N: Alright, I'm still a little obsessed with Pansy/Percy. So I apologize, but I have to get this out of my system :-)
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter
Chapter 1 – Regret runs deep
How could he let himself get into this mess? Three months ago he was happy. Well, content at least. He had his work. He was focused. He knew what he wanted to be and where he wanted to go in life.
As he sat at his desk pretending to by immersed in his work, Niles Benton sat across from him perusing the latest addition of "The Prophet", and rambling on about some utter trash in the society column. Didn't the man have something more productive he could be doing with his time?
Instead of railing at the stupid git about the unnecessary propagation of such nonsense, Percy ignored the man and let his mind wander back to that first meeting. Back to the day she first walked into his office and made her ridiculous proposal.
At the sound of his door opening, Percy briefly glanced up to take in the form of a small woman making her way into his office. Caring very little for the interruption, his gaze quickly dropped back down to the document beneath his hands.
'I don't have time for this.' he brooded to himself. 'Just another bloody complaint about the Manford project. I wish Phyllis would learn how to handle these people on her own instead of sending through every single nutter.'
Suddenly, the distinct sound of a woman delicately clearing her throat cut through his internal rant. Determined to ignore the woman, Percy kept his eyes unwaveringly pinned to the parchment. After a long stretch of silence, the young woman had the audacity to very purposely and much more aggressively clear her throat again.
Fed up by her staunch refusal to get the hint, Percy snapped his eyes up to her face with the intention of delivering a stern glare. What his eyes beheld took him completely by surprise. There before him stood one of the most beautiful women he'd ever seen in his life focusing intently on him.
She had long, dark, rich hair; clear alabaster skin that damn near glowed; dark, piercing eyes; and absolutely gorgeous, red cherubic lips. Percy felt himself quickly growing hot under her scrutiny and knew instinctively that the Weasley blush was at that moment working its way up his throat in a bid to invade his face.
Flustered, he tore his gaze away from hers and cast his eyes about until he forced them back down to the document before him.
"May I help you?" he muttered, trying to appear busy.
"You are Mr. Percy Weasley, are you not?"
The utter disgust in her voice as she spat out his last name roused him to the fact that she must be a pureblood. In and of itself, this implied a great dislike if not hatred for his family name. The awareness of her obvious dislike served well to steel him against her more attractive attributes, and offer her the same level of contempt.
It took a long time, but Percy had finally come to grips with the fact that he was never going to escape the Weasley name nor change the snobs' opinions of it. Better to accept what and who he was and move onward and upward.
"Yes." He offered in a cold, flat voice.
She sniffed at him as she drove her nose a little further into the air. "May I sit?"
"No, you may not." he stated plainly. After a drawn out pause in which she stared at him in wide-eyed shock, he finally amended. "I'm a busy man. As you can see, I have a great deal of work. Please state your reason for being here so that I may help you as quickly as possible, and then you can be on your way."
It took Pansy a moment to respond to the sheer rudeness in his manner. She'd heard he was a git, but she did not expect him to be so… prickish.
"Fine." She finally gritted out through clenched teeth, but chose to sit in flagrant rebellion of his previous answer.
Percy felt the incredible urge to snap at the silly bint, but fought to maintain control in what had obviously turned into a power struggle.
"Well? I don't have all day." He bit out at her.
"I'm not certain you know who I am, Mr. Weasley," she spouted off arrogantly, "which is a great detriment to you, but my name is Pansy Parkinson. You may not recognize me, but I am certain you know the family name."
That he did. They were one of the richest, most powerful families in the Wizarding world. He tried to keep his reaction to her name-dropping neutral, however, as to not give her the upper hand.
He sniffed right back at her. "I know who you are Ms. Parkinson, but I am a servant of the Ministry. Thus, family position means very little to me." He lied expertly. "As I informed you only moments ago, I am indeed quite busy. So I would greatly appreciate you getting to the point of this visit."
She eyed him warily before giving him a curt nod.
"Arranged marriages are quite common among my class. Are you aware that I am betrothed to Draco Malfoy?"
Percy blinked a few times at the strange turn in the conversation.
"No," he managed, a little bewildered. "I, however, fail to see what this has to do with me."
Pansy tensed and shifted nervously in her chair. "Well, Mr. Malfoy has been quite reticent in fulfilling his contractual obligation as of late."
The thought boggled Percy. Was Malfoy such a moron that he couldn't see an amazing opportunity right in front of him? This woman was beautiful to be sure, and beyond wealthy. Malfoy's family had suffered the biggest hit as a result of the final battle. Lucius Malfoy had been tried and convicted as a Death Eater and was currently residing in Azkaban. As a result, the family business was nearly a complete wash under Draco's mismanagement. Why was he avoiding this match? Could she be that much a nightmare?
"I have no power to force Mr. Malfoy to honour this commitment, Ms. Parkinson. Unless your parents signed some kind of an agreement specifying a time line, I believe you are at his mercy. Why might I ask would Mr. Malfoy not opt to take advantage of this arrangement?"
Pansy looked down to consider her response as her hands worried themselves in her lap. Normally, she could be quite the actress pulling off performances to get what she wanted. But this really was quite distressing to her. It called into question her appeal and allure as a woman. Something she was entirely unused to.
"He wishes to… to indulge in a wide variety of youthful pursuits before he commits. But I am of the mind that he never will."
"Then why not release him from the obligation? Your family is quite obviously in the superior bargaining position."
"I don't want to." She pouted, showing the first true signs of her nature.
"Because… Because you're in love with him?" Percy questioned.
"He's mine. He's been mine since our childhood. He belongs to me."
Percy marveled at her incredibly spoiled attitude. "And what do you propose I do about it?" he challenged.
"He wants to indulge in these extracurricular… activities. That is fine. Then I wish to as well… only on the surface of course."
"Are you saying you want to try and make him jealous?"
"Do you not consider this… oh, I don't know… slightly childish?"
Her eyes narrowed to slits as the insult settled fully on her. "I have tried everything else, Mr. Weasley. This is my final resort."
"And what in Merlin's name does any of this have to do with me?"
"I would like you to pretend to be a romantic suitor championing for my attention."
"I BEG YOUR PARDON?" Percy screamed, unable to control himself.
"There is no need to shout, Mr. Weasley."
"I… I… Are you serious? That's ridiculous! Why me? I'm sure there are a great number of men who are entirely more appropriate than myself, and who are extremely willing to fulfill this… this need of yours."
"I do not want anyone who will expect any kind of actual relationship with me from this. The gentleman has to be of the understanding that this is purely a business transaction."
"So you feel I would not pursue any kind of romantic…" he waved his hand about vaguely before finishing "thing with you."
"Exactly. I know your salary with the Ministry is respectable enough, but I am willing to pay you handsomely for your assistance. Perhaps I will offer you double your annual income."
"Excuse me?" he whispered, taken aback by the amount.
"You would be compensated."
"Like some kind of paid escort?"
He had to seriously try and make heads or tails of what she was offering, and what she wanted in exchange.
"I don't think this is a very…"
"I need someone who Draco dislikes intensely. Originally, I had intended on either your brother Ron, or Harry Potter. Everyone knows they hate him, and he them in return. But seeing as one is about to be married and the other has other interests shall we say, I didn't think they would be partial to the scheme. Nor do I relish the idea of being hexed to bits by Granger for trying to borrow her husband-to-be. Then it occurred to me that a great animosity exists between the Weasleys and the Malfoys, so I decided one of your clan would be best suited to my needs. Charlie is quite dashing, but his obsession with dragons is bordering on unhealthy; I have had something of a war with the twins since our school days; and the oldest… William I believe… has been married for years. That leaves you."
"Well, thank you for even considering me." Percy snapped at her before returning to his work.
"Actually, as I thought on it more, I realized you are by far the best choice above all of your brothers, and even Potter."
His eyes shot up and he stared at her utterly gobsmacked. What could he possibly have to offer above the likes of Harry Potter?
"Me?" he squeaked, and instantly cringed at the unruly sound.
"You are the only man within the Ministry in a position to make Draco's life a living hell. You issue permits for business activity, do you not? You have control over whether his business affairs and applications succeed or fail."
'The crafty, little minx did her homework.' he mused to himself.
"That is correct." he responded caustiously.
"Draco absolutely loathes anyone who holds any kind of power over him. If I were romantically linked with you, it would be the ultimate slap in the face. You would be seen as having control over not only his business affairs, but also trifling with his matrimonial property."
"What's in it for me?"
"Well," Pansy grew uncertain, "as I stated before, there is the lofty financial remuneration. It could also be deemed quite a rise in your social standing if it were public knowledge that I considered you a worthy companion. Let us not forget as well how this may help any negotiations you have with Mr. Malfoy in terms of power and control over his future business proposals."
Percy eyed her for a long minute, calculating and analyzing the pros and cons of such a scenario. It was tempting… Very tempting.
"How romantically involved are we talking, Ms. Parkinson?"
She graced him with her first smile of the visit, and he felt a nervous flutter race through his chest. He pushed back the feeling, and tried to focus on the proposition itself.
"Enough so that displays of affection during social occasions and events would be viewed as both appropriate and genuine."
Why did he say 'yes'? Why did he agree? Right. He'd had an ulterior motive, as did she.