Warning: Nothing makes sense until the end.
Hero in the Half-light
His heart was slamming against his chest in irregular rhythm, adrenaline racing through his veins. He could only squint at her through the somber night. Something wasn't right. The air was buzzing portentously; every fiber in his being whispered not to say what was pulling at his tongue. He did it anyway. It fell past his lips in merely synergetic movement. Like an erratic spasm.
"Do you love him?"
He didn't want to know the answer. His head was dizzy with the fear of what she might say. How she would probably shred his soul into nothingness, leaving only the ashes of bitter anguish before she promptly twirled any remains of his self-esteem into a vile stygian pit of despair.
He swallowed deeply, audibly, and his green eyes scanned her face in desperation; maybe he did want to know the answer. Perhaps everything he held in his soul depended on how she replied. All his hopes, dreams and goals, all of it was sitting in the palm of her hand, like his glass heart.
Her inky lashes were crescent upon her cheeks, and her mouth was full and pouting; red and sinful. Slowly, as if time and space imploded into each other and made the earth hum an eerie lullaby, her lashes rose, and her blue eyes met his. "What's it to you?"
He let a rush of breath past his lips and nervously used his palm to flatten his wayward hair futilely. He kicked at the ground and stepped back, letting his gaze stare into the abyss of the spangled sky.
"I said—" she began heatedly.
"I heard you!" he snapped petulantly, his eyes flashing back to her alabaster face.
Her nose scrunched with indignation. "Then answer me instead of acting like a toddler." She stared at him hard, her eyes roving over his face, looking for answers, begging for something.
"I reckon nothing. It's nothing to me," he finally muttered.
Suddenly she sucked in a heavy ragged breath, her cheeks flushed and her eyes glistened. "That's right, idiot. Nothing. It's nothing to you. Because you're leaving. You don't care. Well, good riddance. I hope I never see you again. I hope you fall off the face of the earth."
It was all too much. It was more than he could comprehend. Wretchedness swelled in his stomach, rolling around with perverse rejection. His mouth watered oddly, biting at his throat, and he could feel the bile burning in his heart. He pivoted and began to stagger away, disappearing beyond the shadow of the ramparts.
Sometimes he would see her in his dreams, standing grey against the black night, her blood red mouth saying, "Just stay."
It all began with an eerie hum. Then everything burst into color and movement, like the hectic flashes of a film projector.
Pansy Parkinson stood tall amidst the chaos. There was a smudge of dirt on her nose, her face poised with determination, her black hair swept in the wind, tangling together. In her perfectly tiny hands were the pieces of her broken wand.
Harry Potter watched her as she walked towards him, stepping lithely over fallen bodies and effortlessly dodging curses and hexes. He saw her chest rise as she inhaled deeply and cried out.
That was all it took for his limbs to move. His jaw was set, and he began to shove wizards and witches out of his way, never minding what color badge was upon the sleeve of their black robes. All he could see was her; he knew he had to get to her. It was more than desperation; it was raw, unadulterated need, ferocious and brash.
There was a gruff yell to his left and he turned just in time to deflect the jinx. Annoyance clawed at his chest, and when it met his determination, the counter-curse ejected from his wand in a bright red stream of jagged light, slamming directly into the dark wizard's chest, throwing him yards away. Without being impeded, Harry's focus remained resolute on Pansy. He pushed on in his fortitude to just get to her, to touch her face and grab her hand. That was all he could think to do.
He was only meters from her when suddenly he was accosted from behind. His body hit the ground roughly, and before he could recover to defend himself, he felt a fist slam into his head and incandescent light blinded him momentarily; he heard a groan and was barely able to acknowledge that it came from his own throat. His glasses were broken and purple dots danced in his vision. Blinking rapidly, he yelled her name, and it came out a wrecked croak.
"Harry!" she cried again.
He reached his trembling arm out toward the sound of her voice and could only watch through the distortion as four dark wizards swooped in around her, grabbing her, and then all at once they vanished.
Then there were no more. Every one of them had disappeared in echoing pops.
Finally, Harry Potter's world blurred into obscurity.
He felt as if he slept for weeks in a dreamless haze, but it had only been ephemeral, just short minutes running over themselves.
When he came to, Hermione Granger was kneeling over him, concern knitting her brows together. Her hair was in wild disarray, littered with leaves and grass; a long red scratch ran over the apple of her dirt-streaked cheek.
"Where is she?" he grumbled harshly.
"Shh, lie still, the mediwitch has been called for." She was smoothing her cool hands across his forehead, down his temples. She would push her nails into his hair, scraping them gently across his scalp. It was meant to be comforting, but he found it suffocating.
With a wince, he tried to sit up, but Hermione pushed him back down tenderly, "Don't move, Harry! We don't—"
He shoved her hands away petulantly and pulled his torso up again. "I was effing punched in the head! I'm fine! Where is Pansy? What the fuck happened?"
Her face paled then, and she began to wring her hands. Slowly she shook her head. "I don't know. They just all disappeared; Ron said they took her with them."
Without considering his injury, Harry shot up and was suddenly overcome with a pounding ache resonating from the back of his head. It made him falter in his step, reaching out blindly to steady himself on the closest solid object, the wooziness washed over him in crashing waves.
"Easy there, mate," said Ron, his brogue thick. His shoulder was Harry's solid purchase as he patted Harry's back gently in camaraderie and worry.
Harry took a sobering breath, closing his eyes and letting the dizziness pass. When it did, he asked, "Where is their hideout?" He opened his eyes slowly and stared at his friend. Ron's ginger hair was mussed and the sleeve to his robe was torn, but other than that he seemed unaffected by the battle.
"Just beyond the copse, but we haven't sent in a recon team yet. We don't know if they're in there." Harry could always count on Ron to be honest and straight forward.
He offered Ron a grateful smile and began walking towards the grove. Purpose made his footfalls heavy on the earth, and his injury hindered his advance.
"Wait for back up!" Ron yelled after him, but Harry ignored him.
He had to find where they took Pansy, and something in his gut told him he would find it at the hideout.
"Potter! Fall back!" Draco Malfoy's clipped timbre resounded across the field and fell upon deaf ears.
There was nothing and nobody that could stop Harry from his mission.
As he entered the woods, he found he was unimpressed. Just within the shade of the canopy was a mound of earth, craggy with erosion, and a small four foot hole in the center. He hadn't expected it to be so primitive. There were no physical wards, and his intuition told him that there weren't any magical ones either. It was odd. One would assume such innovative dark wizards would have more intricate security.
Approaching the foxhole, he checked for his wand. He no longer had it and hoped it was still intact. Although his better sense told him not to enter without it, he swallowed thickly and ducked into the blackness. Hermione, Ron and Malfoy's calls echoed into the cool abyss.
He couldn't see anything and used his hands to feel along the rounded walls, as he proceeded he felt the dirt crumble under his palms, but he kept his path. He could hear robes rustling and hushed voices behind him.
But then he saw hope. A dim yellow light faded at the end of the tunnel and his steps grew more frantic, more impatient. He wanted to get to it, fast, as if it held all the answers to everything he wanted to know about that day.
He was so close, only a few more feet, a renewed vigor secured his steps but just before he entered the large room, a hand came down on his shoulder and yanked him back.
"Are you absolutely nutters?" Malfoy's whisper was harsh and biting. The yellow light partially lit his face, and his brows were furrowed and his mouth was set in a disbelieving sneer.
Harry shrugged his shoulder out of Malfoy's grip. "Get your hands off me."
"What do you think you're doing?" As Malfoy spoke, Ron and Hermione approached.
"I know what I'm doing. I'm going in there to find something so that I can get to Pansy."
"Like hell you are! You don't know what's waiting in there, and you don't have your fucking wand. Gods, Potter. Use your head, or maybe your sodding training." Malfoy was breathing heavy, and although he was hunched, his countenance was tense, prepared, and his hands were balled into fists.
"I need to save her," Harry mumbled dejectedly.
"That's not your job. Especially since you're being so bloody stupid about it." It was condescending and arrogant, and Harry suddenly remembered why he hated Draco Malfoy.
Candent anger exploded from the desperate pits of Harry's soul, and with a growl he awkwardly lunged at Malfoy. He was so intent on his impetuous action that he didn't see or think about what he was doing. At that exact moment Hermione decided to insert herself between the two wizards.
She cried out in pain, Malfoy grunted, and suddenly they were all three a tangle of limbs on the dirt floor of the strange room.
Harry jumped up, his focus returning immediately to his objective, and he headed straight for the beige file cabinet in the corner. He was vaguely aware that Malfoy had squatted beside Hermione, touching her face, inspecting her arm, kissing her quickly, sweetly. He felt bad for hurting her, but he knew she was fine, all he could think about anyway was to search for something within the files. There was knowledge there. He just had to find it. He opened the manila folders, flipped through the contents, and tossed them away, oblivious to the vellum and paper littering the floor.
There was nothing there, at least, nothing of use to him. It was all just strategies and lists, names and objectives. Not one single location.
Frustration and defeat poured over him in a glistening sweat. He gripped the cabinet with both hands and flung it over. The metal groaned as it slammed against a neighboring table, and with a resounding thud, collided with the floor.
"Harry!" Hermione gasped. When he turned to acknowledge her, his gaze fell on another bluish cabinet just behind her.
Marching across the room, he wasn't watching where he was going and his boots tangled with the steel legs of a fallen chair. Gravity and physics moved together in symmetry, and suddenly he was laying face up on the floor. His chest rising and falling in rapid succession. Embarrassment and indignation pinking his cheeks.
But above him, the yellow light swayed in hectic loops like a beacon, showing him the way. For there painted on the ceiling was the continent of Africa. Right where the Highlands of the Congo should have been, there was an octagon in blood red. The number 42 followed a name, DalCel. He didn't know why or how, but he was absolutely confident that DalCel42 was where he would find Pansy.
A jubilant grin of achievement broke across his dirty face. "Get Creevey down here with his camera. And Hermione? I think I need a plane ticket."
And he started to laugh. Excitedly.
Hermione, Ron and Malfoy could only look at him in confusion.
Harry Potter stood in the suffocating drizzle of the Congo, his mouth thinned in a grimace as he surveyed his desolate surroundings. A knapsack was secured to his back, his wand hidden along his forearm, and a crumpled map rested in his pocket. The mist fogged his glasses so he pocketed them, trying to dutifully ignore the heaviness of the rusted but sharp machete that hung in his left hand.
His guide, Sudi, a young Swahili man with a cheerful disposition and a wide, trustworthy smile, was crouching a yard away, studying the broken stalk of an exotic fern.
He flashed his warm grin at Harry, "They went this way."
Harry nodded, shifted his knapsack to a more comfortable position and moved on.
Above the continuous thwacking of the machetes, the eerie howl of the monkeys, and the song of the various birds, was a strange hum. Monotonous and anguishing. It made Harry nervous, as if forewarning him to be wary of his surroundings. This only heightened his maintained alertness.
They hadn't hiked long, and Harry had yet to become weary, but the bright puce light of the afternoon under the canopy had begun to atrophy into an ominous emerald darkness. Although the symphony of birds had faded into the frantic flapping of bat wings, the primates still called out. Watching. Warning.
He stopped and swung around. His eyes searching, narrowing to get a better focus on the collage of green and black and danger.
His body prickled with curious confusion. It had been Ron's voice. Clear as crystal. As if Harry's best mate had simply been standing right next to him.
But he saw nothing.
Although the jungle played tricks on his eyes, he knew he would never spot a flash of ginger hair in the thicket.
Glancing towards Sudi, Harry saw him pushing on, his machete on a mastered pendulum swing. Just hither and thither with the roll of his wrist.
Visibly shuddering, Harry deduced he had imagined it, for there was folklore that suggested the Congo was enchanted; perhaps this was just another one of its ploys to lead men to their demise. He called out for Sudi, and when the sound of his bushwhacking ceased, Harry hurried to catch up.
It wasn't long before they came to an opening in the copse. Rising into the night and through the canopy was the crumbling ruins of an ancient tomb. The jungle was steadily taking it back. Ferns, vines and trees were pushing through the stones, breaking them, swallowing them back into the earth.
Electric awareness tickled Harry's spine.
This was it. This was where he'd find Pansy. He could feel it in every molecule of his being, right into the intricate whorls of his fingertips. She was there, he knew, waiting for him.
A crooked smile of anticipation broke upon his face and her name ghosted past his lips.
There was a dark, tall entrance at the top of the tumbling stairway. As Harry approached them, he turned toward Sudi to tell him to leave, but found the chipper Swahili had already vanished quietly into the jungle, as if he knew he was no longer needed.
Feeling it was safe enough to withdraw his wand, Harry did so for protection, for Merlin only knew what sort of dangers lay within the tomb.
Slowly, stealthily, he scaled the steps and with a deep breath, ventured through the ingress. He expected to find the cavernous tunnel to be nothing but blackness, but instead, sporadic torches lit the way. Chary, Harry proceeded.
The antechamber was long, and although the slant was subtle, he could tell that it descended into the earth. He followed resolutely, like a magnet to iron. Soon he could hear voices, garbled conversation followed by a raucous laughter. It gave him pause, but he pushed on with light, secret footsteps. As he neared the main chamber he held his breath and peaked into it.
It was a large room with faded and foreign glyphs painted from ceiling to floor. In the center was an elaborately carved sarcophagus, around which sat six men—wizards, garbed in black jumpsuits and heavy black boots. Along the wall were piles and stacks of gold, silver, pearls, diamonds, rubies and sapphires.
Sitting bound to a stool in the far corner was the greatest treasure of all: Pansy Parkinson.
Her raven hair was tangled and lying over her shoulder. Her white shirt was askew, exposing her collar-bone and the strap to her chemise. Her red mouth was parted by a grey gag but her chin was upturned in haughty indignation.
Her eyes were dark like violets, hard with hatred and narrowed studiously on the boisterous gang.
Carefully removing his knapsack, Harry spent a moment planning his attack. The only plausible course of action was surprise, so without further ado, he strode determinedly into the chamber, his wand steady. At the first sign of movement, he threw out his initial curse. Purple lightening sprung from his wand and sizzled into the shoulder of the tallest wizard, successfully knocking him to the ground. Then, Harry rolled behind a large cistern just in time to dodge a jet of blue light.
He took a steady breath, and without really aiming he sent a nonverbal Incarcerous. It was followed by the tell-tale thud of a body hitting the sandstone floor. Leaving the covert of the cistern, he shielded himself with Protego and stunned a short balding wizard before dashing him with another binding spell.
A tall, lanky one was barreling towards Harry. He barely had time to shoot him with a Confundus charm, which caused him to change course and run directly into the cache. Harry took a moment to smirk, but returned to dodging curses and jinxes. Without much effort or difficulty, he was able to disarm and Stupefy the others.
At last the chamber was silent except for Harry's rapid breathing and the strange hum.
In her corner, upon her stool, Pansy was smiling around the gag. Her eyes were wide with relief and gladness. Hurrying to her, Harry exasperatedly asked, "Are you all right?" He pulled the gag from her lips and crouched behind her to untie her wrists.
"Corporally, I am brilliant, but I'm rather bored, to be honest," she replied conversationally, her timbre husky from dehydration. Once her hands were free, she rubbed her wrists to soothe them.
Harry smiled and moved to undo the rope at her ankles. "Good to hear. I came as soon as I could."
"Stellar, darling, this was a rather mundane holiday, and I'm eager to have you amuse me." When she was completely liberated, she stood and stretched, her hands reaching for the ceiling, her toes on their tips.
"Of course, I'm always willing to oblige in your entertainment." He stood too, his hand ghosting tentatively along her hip.
She grinned at him, preening a little, and then cupped his cheek with her warm palm. "How wonderfully accommodating of you, handsome." He became lost in the violet and azure kaleidoscope of her eyes, like a child in the tortuous avenues of a carnival, marveling at its bright colors and twinkling luster.
He thought he should kiss her, that in all the moments in the world, this was the perfect one. The minute was fat-full and ripe, the seconds swelling with a beautifully constricting tension, and with her face upturned towards his, it would be so easy just to swallow her up into his embrace and cover her mouth with his.
But Pansy was an impatient witch, and soon she pursed her lips. As she spoke, the moment passed. "So what's next on the itinerary?" She danced past him and surveyed his handiwork. With her hands on her hips, she nodded appreciatively.
"I was thinking of a quick hike out of this tomb, then perhaps a jump to Tuscany for some of that pasta you love." He felt bliss pull at his mouth, and the teasing of their usual rapport rushed back with ease.
"Then maybe Paris, to dance?" She turned then, her face hopeful.
"Of course." he turned his wrist out in a proffering of his palm, the serene smile still stretched across his face, auspiciously glancing at her in a debonairly sidelong way.
She scratched her nose, a gesture that translated to her flattery, and took a short step towards him. She let her fingers slide down his palm to intertwine with his. "Let us not dally, then." She spoke in a soft and peaceful resonance, unlike her normal inflection.
As they were making their way from the clearing and into the jungle, walking along as if it was a stroll along the beach, they suddenly heard a crescendo of footsteps they knew weren't their own. Pausing, they shared a glance that spoke volumes; it was time to flee, and quickly.
Keeping her hand clasped within his, he deftly, vigilantly, bushwhacked through the brush with the skill of his Swahili guide. The footfalls of their pursuers faded into the nothingness of the jungle.
They were passing through a small glade when Harry stopped short to look around and Pansy collided against him. Her willowy frame pressed intimately against his side, and his thoughts jumbled into flashing images of swollen lips, glistening skin and throaty moans.
"What is it, darling?" she asked, letting her fingertips slip provocatively along his spine, eliciting a shiver from him.
"I think we're alone now, there doesn't seem to be anyone around," he whispered needlessly.
She smirked and raised an eyebrow sagaciously. "How very fascinating. Shall we stay in the jungle like Jane and Tarzan then?" Her eyes twinkled with the thrill of a whimsical adventure.
He chuckled, "How else would you live in the jungle?"
She broke from him then. "Light the wand, darling, so I can see what we've to work with." When he did so, she was tapping her lip in contemplation. "We'll build a fire here, then you should fetch a palm leaf and transfigure it into a sleeping bag, and then, hmm … Perhaps tomorrow we'll begin to build our tree house there in that large one." She extended her arm and pointed to a large tree.
Her childish wonderment always seemed to captivate him, and he was drawn to her like a toddler to a light socket. He found that she cleverly danced between the freedom of an adolescent and the responsibilities of a woman. It was terribly endearing, and he could feel it overwhelm him delightfully and soon he was doing her bidding.
His fire was unimpressive, but gave warmth against the coolness of the rainforest, and he haphazardly built a lean-to from bamboo stalks and palm leaves. Then he transfigured a sleeping bag and a few pillows and set them up comfortably under the shelter.
Pansy graciously pecked him on the cheek and pranced over to the shelter. She settled herself on the sleeping bag, crossing her legs and turning up her chin like a duchess. "I'm thrilled that you came along when you did, darling. Those disgraceful men were incredibly boring. I was sure that my ears would soon bleed from overhearing their tremendously banal strategies. It is really no wonder it was so easy to find them. Here." She patted the space beside her invitingly. "Come sit and let me rest my head upon your shoulder. You have great shoulders for cuddling, and I do find myself fancying a moment with them, Hero." She gave him a soft smile as he sat next to her.
"Do you know why they took you?" he inquired as he relished the feel of her head so near his own. The jubilant elation of hearing his special pet name, iHero/i swirled in his chest and made him sit a little higher.
"As if I would, idiot; other than my fine looks, I couldn't possibly imagine what they'd want with me." She pouted her lip forward. "Can you believe it, Hero? They gagged me like I was a common bore without any personality whatsoever! If only they allowed me to chat with them, I'm sure the holiday would have been far more entertaining."
He laughed out right. "Your vanity is astounding," he murmured.
"Yes, well, you're quite warm. And I was quite thrilled at your entrance, back there. Total surprise and guns blazing, so to speak. Very brave and stupid, but altogether exciting." She snuggled closer into him and tilted her head upwards to peer at the sky. "Let's hush up about the seriousness of tonight's events and take a glance at the stars to wonder what's going on out in the galaxy."
He tilted his head towards the spangled sky, adjusted his glasses and squinted. "Spaceships flown by little green men in safety belts."
She giggled, the tremors wafting over him to share her mirth, "Wearing purple sunglasses."
"And pink wristwatches." His grin widened, this was his favorite part of being a part of Pansy Parkinson's world.
"That never tells the time."
"Only the distance."
"Between their hearts and home." She spoke lowly, soberly, the mirth vanishing into calmness.
"Because they never stray far from true love," he responded hoarsely, his gut clenching with anxiety of where their conversation had turned.
"As well they shouldn't. Hmmm." She gave a great sigh and moved from his comfort. "Come lay beside me so I'll be safe from the jungle's beasties."
He waited until she was situated on the makeshift bed before he fluidly scooted in behind her, to spoon her as a lover would, and wrapped his arms around her. He was ecstatic to finally have her in his arms, safe and sound. He felt proud too; he had saved her.
She spoke no more, and as he listened to the eerie hum that seemed to follow him everywhere, he inhaled the peachiness of her shampoo and he let his palm commit the feel of her skin to memory. He was sure it wouldn't last long.
As the fire died down to embers, he was nearly asleep when he heard a whisper and the barely audible snap of a twig.
He shot up immediately, Pansy following simultaneously. She turned her torso into his and clutched his shirt. "What was that?" she whispered.
He didn't answer, just stared into the blackness watching for movement. His hand found his wand and he tried to light it. But a simple Lumos would not do, so he shouted the incantation, but to no avail. It was completely futile.
Suddenly a torch lit directly within his eye-line followed by another in what would be a domino effect until they were surrounded by flaming light and the grey mud caked faces of a primitive native tribe that seemed to float above the foliage.
With his heart beating wildly in his chest and a protective arm around Pansy's waist, he inquired in slow English. "What do you want?"
There was a booming voice painted with a disjointed dialect and strange clicking phonics.
"A sensational language, don't you think?"
Harry knew she was trying to make light of the situation. That she was rather frightened, but other than the obvious death grip on his shirt, her only tell was the waver in her resonance.
"Hmm." It was odd, really, because Harry felt unafraid. There was nothing in the ambience of the situation that seemed to threaten him. To tell him that there was danger afoot.
The rich voice spoke again, and there seemed to be a current of excitement, as if whatever the bodiless native had said was important, like an announcement.
"I do not understand," Harry yelled.
A small womanly voice spoke from the depths of the Jungle. "I speak language." As two torches bobbed and parted, a small slip of a girl emerged. She wore little just a scrap of red linen adorned with bones and teeth (animal, not human) slung low on her hips. The chalky mud covered her from head to toe; only red paint dotted her chin. She smiled carefully, her hands out. And it was apparent that she was trying to convey that she was harmless. "You are gods."
"Gods?" asked Harry, quite confused.
The native girl nodded eagerly. "You stick is power." She gestured to Harry's wand and both he and Pansy glanced down at it.
Pansy laughed amusedly, her grip leaving his shirt, and as she stood, she clapped her hands. "Oh, what a jolly good idea! Quick, Hero, do a trick, show them a spot of magic!"
Slowly Harry stood, glancing at Pansy surreptitiously, his mouth thinned in a grimace. "I don't think I should."
"Why not?" She was affronted.
"Because, they might want to eat us," he hissed at her out of the corner of his mouth.
"Don't be silly. They think we are Gods. Hmm." She let her gaze run along his form. "Skinny Gods, I'd wager. We certainly don't appear to be savory treat."
"Some natives in Africa believe in cannibalism, especially of gods, to invoke their power through ingestion," he argued, but when her brow lowered disapprovingly, he knew he had lost the dispute.
"You are embarrassing me in front of our congregation, idiot. Do them a trick." Pansy's hands were fisted on her hips, and her eyes were flashing, but her mouth was flat in annoyance.
Sighing, Harry held his wand fast, thought of her and shouted "Expecto Patronum!" From his wand sprung a silvery, wispy light that soon transformed into an elegant swan that glided around the glade on an invisible lake.
There was a collective gasp from the natives, then a whooping call of appreciation.
"A swan? How utterly delightful!" Her mischievous grin had returned as well as the twinkle in her eyes.
As the natives' hollering quelled, the bellowing voice made another proclamation and the girl spoke again. "Come. We dance for you."
Pansy grabbed Harry's hand and began to tug him towards the native girl. "Hurry along, and don't forget your luggage. It appears we'll lounge in the lap of luxury tonight."
Of course, because he always did, Harry followed her, swooping to catch the strap of his knapsack.
They followed the girl as she approached a really short man, wearing only a belt made from jaguar teeth and leather, a jaguar head for a hat. He was grinning cheerfully, standing proud; the staff he held was three feet taller than him. She spoke to him in her own tongue, and he replied. Soon it was obvious that he was the owner of the booming voice. He bowed to Harry and Pansy and beckoned them to follow.
He led them only a short distance. Soon they arrived at a collection of huts that were highlighted in the flickering light of the ferocious bonfire in the center of the tiny village. Young, half-naked, mud-drenched women danced to the beat of the drums. Children, men and elderly women cheered for their welcome. As Pansy and Harry came to stand in front of them, the drums quieted, the dancers paused, and a hush fell upon the natives.
Harry swallowed thickly and gave a short wave. "Hi. I'm Harry Potter, and this is my friend Pansy Parkinson, and you are?"
There was a low murmur, then a cackle, and suddenly they were rushed. The elderly women ushered Pansy away, and she spoke to them congenially, as if they were her best friends. Harry could only watch as amusement and curiosity printed a lopsided smirk on his face.
They showed him to an elaborate throne made from animal bones and secured with grass stalks braided into a strong rope. One of the young dancers, who was adorned with even more elaborate accessories than the others, came forward, head bent, arms outstretched. Within her hands was an intricate headdress that Harry allowed her to place on his head.
Only moments later, the crowd parted and he watched in awe as Pansy marched through, her shoulders squared, back straight and chin held high, like a queen. Every now and then, she'd nod at one of the natives, or take their hand and shake it. Sometimes she'd wave regally. It was quite a spectacle, but only one that she was capable of, and so it was very natural and alluring.
As she took her throne beside Harry, she said "I've turned their water to wine, Hero. After all, they've made my dream come true."
"And what dream is that?" he genuinely inquired.
"They've made me Queen, and you are my King. Not every witch could be this lucky." She grinned widely at the anticipating crowd. "Dance!" she shouted and from her hand threw out a cache of pink flower petals. And so, they did.
The drums beat again and the dancers stomped in testament and soon merriment was full force and exploding.
"I like being your king, Pansy," Harry said whilst leaning towards her.
Her foot was tapping with the beat and she winked at him. "Let us stay here forever, Hero. This is the life we were meant to live forever."
He grabbed her chin and forced her to look at him, his eyes searching her face. There are many moments in the world and they pass fleetingly, but Harry knew this one would not be wasted. He would kiss her and kiss her good, and then she would fall in love with him, like Jane and Tarzan.
She closed her eyes and turned her face upwards and he ducked his head to meet her halfway. He could smell the sweet guava of her breath, the warmth of it sent tingly magic down into his gut. His lips were only a hairsbreadth from hers. All his wishes and aspirations were coming true…
It ended with the hum of Harry Potter's oscillating fan. The bright afternoon light broke through the curtains and shocked him out of his dream.
The greatest dream ever, in his opinion. Taking his pillow, he stuffed it over his face and rolled over, but the dream was gone; it had run away with his sleepiness.
Grumbling unintelligibly, he flung the pillow away and rolled to his back to stare at the ceiling in a nonsensical blur.
He missed Pansy. He hadn't seen her in over a year, ever since the night he'd left her to go to France. When he hadn't told her he loved her, when he had become the greatest coward in the world.
He yawned and stretched, unceremoniously rolling to the side of his bed where he sat up and ruffled the lethargy out of his hair and face. He could still hear the hum and the scraping of paper being blown around, but his mind was still full of Pansy.
He fetched his shorts from the floor and pulled them on before he stretched again.
He sauntered slowly to his bureau to acquire socks and clothes for the day.
The oscillating fan was causing papers to flutter against each other in an attempt to escape his paperweight. There was a crumpled Muggle address of a Mr. Dal Harrison who lived at 42 Celery Lane. A missive from Ron explaining that he had tried to Floo, but couldn't awaken Harry, and that he needed to speak with him as soon as possible. The third roll of parchment had been read a hundred times with contemplation. It was an invitation to the exchanging of vows between Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy.
Pansy would be there, fersure. Harry had yet to come to a decision about his attendance. He wanted to go for Hermione, to see her become a wife, to watch her start a new life, but he wanted to see Pansy more than anything, because perhaps this was his chance. He would be offered no more, and the entire world knew it as well as he did. This was opportunity at its zenith.
On that whim, he decided to go, and quickly dressed before Apparating directly to the door of her flat. He knocked twice. Nerves jumbling his thoughts but he knew he was going to do it. There was a clumsy bravado in his disposition making him feel cumbersome. Yet, he was ready. He could see it clearly like a movie in his head. She would open the door and he would snog her senseless and then tell her he loved her. Tell her he wanted no other and it was time to run away to the jungle and live like Jane and Tarzan.
When she opened the door, her dark hair was in haphazard curlers, her dress unzipped and askew on her shoulder. What shocked him the most was that her mascara and eyeliner ran black in perfect streaks down her cheeks. She had been crying whilst getting ready for the wedding. He was sure of it.
"Hero?" she whispered, her eyes wide with surprise.
In that moment Harry wasn't sure if she wanted him to snog her senseless, and if she didn't want that, then she surely didn't want him to tell her how he felt, so he held back. Maybe she still loved Draco. Perhaps she was mourning her chances with him. Maybe Harry never stood a chance to be her king. "Do you love him?" he asked.
He wanted to know the answer. The rest of his life depended on it.
She sniffed and bit her lip, fighting a smile. "No, idiot. I love you. I've always loved you."
He didn't hesitate. He just went in for a kiss, guns blazing heedlessly. She clutched at his sweater as his hands gripped her hips and they crushed together, bodies melding in a candent burst of passion, their heated mouths meeting only seconds later. He kissed her desperately, like every molecule and neuron of his being would have imploded if he didn't. She was the air he wanted to breathe, the quenching of his thirst. Everything about her stabbed right through to the primitive core of his being. As he tasted her and learned her, he thought if he had to choose one moment out of the googolplex of moments in the world this was his favorite. This was the moment she saved him from the gaping chasm of eternal unrequited love. He'd be forever grateful, for all his dreams finally came true in the fading half-light of the hallway.
To my betas, Laura, and Desiloo, I love you and adore you. My gratitude is endless. And a special thanks to Z, Julia, Alison, and Patsy for all your help.
Author's Note: I combined two prompts and this was inspired by Ludo's "Hum Along" There is also a quote from Rocky Horror Picture Show and lyrics from Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now"
Prompts: #1:Describe your ideal fic (plus rating): Pansy and Harry were dating, but broke up. Draco and Pansy pretend to date so that Harry will get jealous. I'd like to be humorous and fun. I'd love to see a snarky and clever Pansy. M would be good.
Dealbreakers (absolute no-no's): No whiny and annoying Pansy. And no very graphic scenes, please.
#3: Describe your ideal fic (plus rating): Pansy becomes an Auror (because i've never read one of those!). She and Harry are working on some big case and he (having previously thought her to be the classical Slytherin bitch) realizes she isn't so bad. Anything from PG 13 to M would be fine.
Dealbreakers (absolute no-no's): Just no intense graphic scenes. And Pansy can't be all whiny.