All There Is
He shift anxiously on the platform, just waiting for someone to recognise him. It's been so long, but still the thought, the tiny possibility is all consuming. If it wasn't for the small child holding his hand so tightly he wouldn't be here at all.
It had been nearly ten years since he'd stepped into the Wizarding World, preferring to walk around unnoticeable with the other Muggles.
But this boy, he would do anything for him, and even if it meant doing something he vowed to avoid for the rest of his life, he would do it without a moments hesitation.
He tugged on his hand at that moment, drawing his attention down to him, Harry smiled down at the wide-eyed eleven year old.
"What if no one wants to sit with me? I tried to keep it normal, but it keeps changing. They're going to think I'm some kind of freak," he whispered, looking furtively to his grandmother on his other side.
Harry knelt down beside him, tugging him closer to him. "Teddy, you are not a freak. You are unique, you are special, and I wouldn't want you any other way. You're my special guy, I'd be completely lost without you around, and your mum; people didn't think she was a freak, they thought she was amazing. Don't even get me started on your dad."
"He was a legend." Teddy grinned.
"The best kind," he smiled, squeezing his tiny shoulder gently. "You are their son, and they would be so proud of you." He threw his arms around Harry's neck, he smiled up at Andromeda whose eyes hadn't stopped misting ever since he'd arrived to join them today. "Alrighty little man, I think it's time you got onto the train, got to find yourself a carriage."
"Okay." He said quietly, stepping away, and wrapping his arms around his grandmother's waist, burying his face in her robes. "You will write?"
"Every week love, every week."
"Come on Ted." Harry said quietly, placing a hand on his back.
Teddy nodded rapidly, letting Andromeda kiss his check, and giving Harry a small smile, he dashed away. "He doesn't want to cry in front of you," she whispered, looping her arm through his, as they watched him step aboard the locomotive.
"He'll be fine, I remember being terrified, and then..." Harry trailed off, clearing his throat. "Well I made friends, and it wasn't so bad."
"I'm sure they'd want to see you." He said thoughtfully, looking him clear in the eye.
"No, they don't." He said firmly, watching the train begin to pull from the station. "I have to go anyway, I got the morning off work, but not the afternoon."
"No, they don't want to see me, they made that perfectly clear." He leaned over, and pressed his lips to her forehead, "Call me if you need to, I'll see you at Christmas."
The train was gone as he started away, pulling the cap down over his forehead he headed for the barrier, making his way through the crowd. The parents moved slowly, in no rush to leave now that their children were gone, every way he looked he could see parents consoling their partners. For a brief moment he felt guilty for leaving Andromeda all alone, apart from Teddy, he was all she really had anymore.
Harry was at the barrier now, looking back briefly he saw her walking away slowly, no doubt to the Apparation point. He started after her, he could blow off work for the afternoon, they wouldn't fire him, he was the most reliable bloke in the shop. Right now, there was something more important.
With his eyes on her rapidly disappearing back, Harry pushed his way back through the crowd, with his head down to avoid their eyes, the hat pulled firmly over the unique scar. Not looking where he was going, he collided with a soft body on their way out.
"Hey, look where you are going idiot." He nodded, stepping around them. "Sorry, it's a very under valued word, jerk off."
Harry looked up sharply, a retort on his lips fading as he saw her. "Sorry, sorry, didn't see you."
"Yeah, clearly. Maybe..." She snapped, pushing the beak of his cap up, "Just look, and you'll be fine."
Quickly pulling it down again. "I'll keep that in mind."
She stepped closer to him, her mouth dropping open. "Oh, bloody hell."
"Shut it, really, just shut it."
"It's really you?" She said breathlessly, her eyes widening. "The famous recluse, the one who saved us all, only to disappear without word six months later. Where you been Potter?"
"Like you fucking care." Harry snapped, pulling Pansy harshly away from the people surrounding them before they picked up what she was saying.
"I don't. I couldn't care less, but I'd wager I'd get a few bob from the Prophet for this scoop."
"I'd give you more."
She shook her head. "I don't want your money Potter."
"Fine." He sighed, looking around quickly. Luckily no one was paying them any attention, "What are you doing here anyway? I know the gossip, no one has seen you for years."
"That's my business, and mine alone." Pansy growled, her eyes narrowing.
"Then we can come to an arrangement, I won't tell anyone I saw you, and you do the same?"
"Fine." She glared at him, stalking away from him without a backwards glance his way.
Harry exhaled, hitting his chest to stop his heart thundering a million miles an hour. Of all the people to run into, literally, it had to be the one who would without a second thought tell everyone. For some reason she didn't seem to want to tell anyone, seems that she had secrets of her own.
Andromeda, he thought quickly, turning to see if she was still on the platform, but she was gone. He contemplated going after her, but he was suddenly very anxious to return to the safety of the world of Jim Evans.
Nothing exciting ever happened to him.
She didn't see him again for nearly three months, and she could honestly say that he hadn't crossed her mind at all over that time.
Pansy had to start over again, to figure out what she wanted, and how to live her life now. Everything had changed once more, she needed to figure out how to live by herself, for herself. After nine years of being responsible for someone else in every moment, it was difficult to have to adjust to having no one to look after, someone who needed her all the time. One would think it was a relief to have that kind of freedom, but she had walked around in a daze for weeks. She went to work, went about her errands around town, when she came home though she was completely lost.
He was coming home in a few weeks though, and Pansy was determined to create the best Christmas he had ever had. The house was decorated like it never had been, he wouldn't believe his eyes when he came home for the holidays, she did think for a moment that she was going a little over the top, but this had to be special.
Her arms were full of bags as she entered the small tea shop around the corner from the bus stop, there was a icy chill in the air, and her bus wouldn't arrive for another fifteen minutes. The little shop was full of patrons as she made her way to the counter to order herself a cup of tea, it had been a long morning, and she craving a nice tea. After parting with the money, Pansy looked around for a table to seat herself at, but they were all full. A sigh passed her lips as she contemplated standing for the next fifteen minutes, there was no part of her that wanted to sit with a stranger.
It was then when she was gazing over the tables, when he looked up, and their eyes meeting over the heads between them. Pansy looked around the room again, before her eyes returned to him. He wasn't looking at her, but the chair in front of him moved out from underneath the table, she walked slowly to it. Placing her things beside the chair, she sat down opposite him.
"Thank you." She said softly, unwrapping the thick scarf around her neck.
"It's fine, I'm nearly done." He muttered, pushing away his plate, ignoring the half of sandwich still on it.
"I won't be long, I have a bus to catch." Pansy said, shifting in the seat as the tea was placed in front of her.
"I have to get back to work." Harry said into his coffee.
She looked the patch over his chest. "What are you? A mechanic?"
"Yeah. Pays the bills."
"Got to pay the bills."
"What do you do?" Harry asked her, twirling the cup around. "You have to do something."
"Do you know the doctor's surgery over on Landon Road?" He nodded, as Pansy sipped her tea. "I work in reception, answer phones, make appointments. That's my thing, my incredibly boring, and amazingly monotonous thing."
"You live like a, muggle?" He asked, leaning forward over the table.
She nodded, his disbelief not surprising, looking down to avoid his eyes, "I do."
"Why? Of everyone, you would be one of the last I'd expect." Harry said quietly.
"I have reasons, as do you Potter. After everything, it wasn't really working for me to live there, I had to go."
"Don't call me that."
"Yes." He whispered, looking around the shop. "I haven't been Harry Potter in nine years, Jim, call me Jim."
"Why?" Pansy whispered, leaning forward. "These people don't know who Harry Potter is, nor do they care, I've been Pansy Parkinson for the last ten years, and it doesn't matter."
"It matters to me, I didn't want to be Harry anymore, I needed to be free of that name, and all that was attached to it. People could find me if I was still Harry, Jim makes me anonymous, I can disappear."
"Why do you need to disappear?"
"I have reasons, why do you need to disappear?"
"I didn't disappear, I just chose to leave, I needed a fresh start, a clean slate. For... my own reasons."
Harry held her eyes for several moments, before he gazed down to her bags beside her, he looked at her solidly. "I got Teddy the same thing, seems quite popular."
"Yeah, the ladies at work were gushing about them," Pansy said, a smile on her lips. "Luckily there were still some on the shelf, I think... someone will like it. Who's Teddy?"
"My godson," he nodded, a grin forming on his face. "He'll be home at Christmas, he's been at Hogwarts, his first year. I was seeing him off, that day..."
Pansy felt the colour drain from her face, quickly she looked down at her watch. "Oh look at the time, I really have to go. It's been a pleasure Jim."
She picked all her bags from the floor, not giving him an opportunity to say anything else she dashed from the shop, breathing heavily she started down the road.
"Pansy!" He called out to her, but she didn't stop, just increased her pace as she walked towards the bus stop. "Wait!"
"No, I really can't. We'll save the pleasantries, Jim. Thank you for letting me sit, but I have a bus to catch," she said quickly, rounding the corner. She could see her bus coming over the hill down the road, she moved faster.
"What's his name?" Harry said quietly.
Pansy stopped instantly, turning back to look at him. "Whose name?"
"Your son, the one at Hogwarts, the one I'd wager is the same age as Teddy Lupin. What's his name?"
He was bouncing, literally bouncing around the room. Such was his excitement, that he couldn't sit still. His grandmother moved around him, picking up the remains of the wrapping paper, as he talked a million miles an hour to Harry.
"And Professor McGonagall, she ain't scary at all! I thought she'd be terrifying, but she can turn into a cat! First day, we all walk in, and she's not there! We didn't know what to do, but there was this cat, sitting on the desk just watching us, and then... she's the cat! I didn't know if I should laugh, or scream! I didn't do either!"
Harry just nodded as Andromeda laughed silently behind him, putting all the shreds of paper into a rubbish bag. "She did that to me too you know, we... I was late, and thought I'd got away with it, but then she changed. It was pretty amazing!"
"Oh it's brilliant!" He gushed, scooting closer to sit beside him on the couch. "I wish she was my head of house, like she was for you, but she's a good Headmistress. We all like her class, I turned a matchstick into a quill! Thomas, he's a second year, he says they've started changing animals! I reckon that'd be really hard."
"She'll teach you how to do it." Harry said reassuringly, patting his knee. "What about your other classes? Charms is always fun."
"Oh loads of fun! I really like that one too, but I know how to do so much, and everyone else is really slow so I get bored a lot." He sighed, shaking his head dramatically.
"Well that's no good." His grandmother said as she sat down on next to them, placing her feet up on the table.
"Yeah, but I just practice, or I talk with my friends."
"What are they like?" Harry asked, watching the small boy smile happily.
"They're great! They like Quidditch, so we talk about that a lot, and we play marbles in the courtyard," turning to his grandmother. "We do our homework together, and sometimes Hagrid takes us into the forest, just on the edges. We are too little to go deep."
"And no detentions, that's great my boy." She smiled.
"Nope! My friend has had a couple though, but he says that's just because Professor Longbottom doesn't like his mum, but I told him that's silly, Professor Longbottom isn't like that."
"Not at all."
"Yeah but Stephen doesn't listen, he just thinks that's the way it is."
"He's my friend!" Teddy grinned, stepping off the couch and crossing the room to the pile of presents by the fireplace.
"He's in Gryffindor too?"
"Yeah! He's in the bed next to mine, I think he's my best friend." He said, starting to read one of the books he got. "Nan says I can go see him next week, he lives over in Kearsley."
"That'll be fun." Harry said slowly, "What does his dad do?"
"He hasn't got a dad, like me. Stephen says he died at Hogwarts, like mine did, fighting the bad people."
Andromeda looked at Harry, before asking Teddy. "What about his mum?"
"She's alive, he's lucky."
"Very," she said softly, smiling as Harry squeezed her hand. "Well it'll be fun for you to go see him..."
"Maybe I can come too?" Harry said quickly, looking between them.
"Really?" Teddy exclaimed, throwing his book on the ground. "Would you? I told him all about my friend, he really wants to meet you!"
"Sure, why not." He grinned, avoiding the disbelief in Andromeda's eyes.
"Excellent!" He shouted, running across the room, and giving him a quick hug, before dashing out of the room. "I have to send him an owl, and tell him! He won't believe it!"
Harry laughed as he heard the door slamming down the hall, and Teddy calling his owl.
"I'm doing it for Teddy, I feel guilty about not being around more, that's all it is."
"I'm not objecting, I have things I need to do next week anyway, so it saves me going. I just hope you realise, that this boys mother will be a witch, so she will recognise you. Teddy won't stand for you disguising yourself, he hates to lie."
"I know, and it'll be fine. Honestly, I don't mind."
She shook her head, "If you say so. You've just gone to extraordinary measures to hide away from your friends, and all the people that care about you. You didn't have to go, Teddy wasn't asking you to, I don't think he'd expect you to want to. But you have, and you can't let him down."
"I'd never let him down. You two, you're all I have now," Harry said quietly, gazing up at the photographs of Tonks, and Remus on the mantle. "My family."
"You don't have to just have us Harry, it's been so long, surely enough time has passed to get pass..."
"No." He said firmly, shaking his head. "I don't think there is such a thing as too much time, I screwed up, it was too bad, too devastating. He never wants to see me again, and she chose which one of us she couldn't live without. I understand why she chose the way she did, it's all ancient history now."
"I saw them last week, in London."
"Uh-huh." He sighed, folding his arms across his chest.
"They looked happy, they're..."
"That's good, I'm happy for them."
"But what about..."
"No, she definitely doesn't want to see me. Gods Andy, it's been nine years, they are happy with their lives, as you say. My life is fine, I see Ted, and you regularly, I'm fine."
"But you have no friends, Ted and I, we are hardly your peers, you need someone to talk to."
"I have the guys at work, I talk to them."
"About Voldemort? About your entire childhood? Harry, you need to talk about your real life."
"That life is over." He said, standing and picking his glass off the end table. "This is my life."
She struggled through the snow, his hand pulling her along urgently, the smile ever present on his face. He's been running on adrenaline for the last few hours, incredibly anxious to catch up with his friend from Hogwarts. Pansy can't remember the boys name, but she's thrilled to see him so excited.
"Come on Mum! We are going to be late!" He gushes, pulling frantically.
"No we aren't, honey we left early, and we have plenty of time." She smiled, brushing the snow from her cheeks.
"But what if he gets here early? He might go home if we aren't here!"
"No he won't, I'm sure he'll wait." She reassured him, stepping onto the footpath around the park.
Stephen muttered to himself as they walked, his head turning everyway looking for his friend. He'd been bubbling away ever since he'd got an owl from the boy last week, telling her all about the greatest boy in the world. It was good to see him so happy, she hadn't been sure at all how he'd take to being thrust into the magical world, having grown up removed from it. But he seemed to have found his feet easily, and she couldn't be more proud.
"Oh! There he is!" He exclaimed, jumping up and down on the spot. "Teddy!"
"Yeah, Teddy Lupin, he's my best friend." He laughed, racing across the playground to the boy with green hair, standing beside someone. Pansy walked slowly over, realising as she got closer just who this Teddy was standing with. "Mum, this is Teddy!"
"Hi!" The boy squeaked, bouncing on his toes.
"Hi there." Pansy smiled at him, placing her hand on Stephen's shoulder she gazed up at Harry. "And you."
"Andromeda is busy, so I thought I'd come along with Ted today."
"How thoughtful of you."
He nodded, looking down at the boys. "Why don't you two go play, and we'll have a boring grown-up conversation?"
They grinned at each other as they ran away, Pansy choicing to yell after them. "Don't go too far!"
"We won't!" Her son yelled back, laughing with Teddy.
Pansy turned to Harry. "What are you doing here?"
"I told you, his grandma is busy today." He said quickly, brushing some snow off a bench, he sat down. "You don't mind?"
"Why would I mind? I want Stephen to have friends." She muttered, sitting beside him, looking across to the bushes where the boys were.
"Same with Ted."
Pansy watched him out of the corner of her eye. "What are you to Teddy? An uncle? Brother?"
"I'm officially his godfather, but to him, I'm his friend. His grandmother is pretty much the only family he really has, I'm included in the family."
"Right, well that's good for him I suppose."
He nodded. "And Stephen... I did the math, you had to have been pregnant at Hogwarts."
"Well done Potter." Pansy sighed, crossing her arms across her chest. "Seems I really was the slut of Hogwarts right?"
"I didn't say that!"
"But you thought it!" She snapped, glaring at him, before returning her attention to her son.
"I didn't, honestly. I was curious, so I figured it out. But I never thought you were a slut, never."
Pansy nodded. "It was one wizard, only ever one. He was good, he was kind, and I wasn't worthy of him at all. But he gave me the most wonderful thing in the world, and I'll be forever thankful."
Harry cleared his throat, leaning forward on his knees. "Ted said he died, at Hogwarts."
Her eyes closed as he whispered, she took a deep breath. "So did lots of people. We don't have to share our life stories here Potter, I'd really prefer it if we didn't."
"Okay." He said quietly. "One question though, did I know him?"
"Probably." She muttered. "Potter, I really don't want to talk about this. It's been so long, and it doesn't get any easier, so please just leave it alone."
"But why didn't you say anything, I remember that night; Thinking what a selfish, pigheaded cow you were, leaving like that. If you had just said, no one would have judged you, they would have understood."
"That I got pregnant out of wedlock? That I really did seem to be the slut they all believed I was?! Harry you lived in this little cucoon, were everything was black and white, right and wrong were two separate things. What I had done, to my family was unforgivable, I was their only daughter, all their hopes were on me. No one would have married me because of Stephen, I would have been an outcast, all I could do was hold a little dignity. Keep my head up, and control the one part of my life that I could. So I left, like a coward, but knowing that I had a chance to do something good, to create a wonderful life."
"And have you?"
"Yes!" She said insistently, smiling fondly. "It's not the life I grew up dreaming of, I have to work hard for every little thing, but it's absolutely worth it. I have the most beautiful son, he's a wonder, every day he amazes me. I may not be rich anymore, have a large circle of friends, but I am so lucky."
He looked down to the ground. "Well that's good Pansy, I am happy for you."
Pansy slid closer to him, staring down at the same pebbled path, "What about you? Was everything that you left behind worth it for the life you have now?"
"No." He shook his head. "Don't get me wrong, I still have Ted, and Andy. I miss them though, I miss everything."
"Then go back." She whispered, slipping her hand into his. "Forget Jim, forget being a mechanic, be Harry, that's who you are."
"I can't." He muttered, letting his hand slip away from hers, he stood quickly, and walked away.
Pansy instantly followed him. "You can Harry. If it's what you want, then run back, and take the life that is yours back."
"It's not that simple." He snapped, turning to her, his green eyes flashing. "I did something so horrible, very nearly ruined the greatest happiness my best friends have ever had, and in the process broke the heart of the one who truly loved me."
"I'm sure you are being overly dramatic." She said quietly. "They adored you, they fought alongside you, were with you every step of the way. They would want you in their lives."
"They don't Pansy, and I don't blame them."
Her hand slipped easily into his again, squeezing it gently, she felt his fingers wrap around hers. She smiled softly, looking down at their cojoined fingers, "This is really odd."
"Absolutely." He whispered, his thumb stroking over hers. "Who'd have thought I'd tell you all that?"
"Who'd have thought I'd care?"
Harry laughed. "Not me."
She grinned, letting her hand slip from his. "I guess it's really been a long time, if we can move past all that stuff, and be grown ups."
"We are grown ups, god I'm going to be 28 next year, I'm old."
"I hate being old." She sighed, turning around. "You start to worry, like now. Where did they go?"
Harry starting turning around as well, as she scanned the park. "I don't know, they were right there... Ow! Bloody hell!"
Pansy spun around as she heard two high pitched laughs. "Got you Harry!" She couldn't help but laugh as she took in Harry, and his snow covered glasses. "Got you good!"
He grinned as he shook the snow away, whispering so only she would hear. "What do say Parkinson? I don't feel so old right now? Ready to show these boys how to really throw snow?"
He was stuck under Mr. Jameson's old Austin Healey, trying in vain to unscrew the rusted on cap that was keeping all it's incredibly past its used by date oil inside. His son had finally convinced the old timer to bring it in for a well overdue service, and Harry was incredibly surprised that it had managed the drive into the shop. There was a charm on the tip of his tongue, it would be so easy to use it, and remove the tediuous job. He wouldn't though, there were too many eyes around him, not that they would hear him over the radio.
They talked loudly, laughing even louder, and occasionally singing terribly. Harry got along well with them, but for the most part they allowed him to blend in, and he chose to do that most of the time. Except for when something brought their attention racing in his direction.
He didn't notice when the radio was turned off, or when they started talking quietly, but very quickly. He did notice when someone knocked on the side of the car, Harry shuffled out from under the car, looking up warily into the grinning face of all the other mechanics.
"There's someone here to see you mate." One of them chuckled, pulling him up, and dusting off his shoulders.
"What? Who?" He said, looking around quickly. "To see me?"
"Out front, and it's a bird."
"Believe me mate, we were more surprised than you!"
"Right looker too, if you ain't interested..."
"Like she'd be interested in you bozo."
Harry started towards the front of the shop, shaking his arm to leave the idiots behind him, as he entered the office. He shut the door behind him, and almost instantly they started talking at the tops of their voices again. The receptionist nodded him to the front as she bit into her sandwich, Harry pulled off his hat as he went into the small entrance. His boots squeaked on the linoleum as he walked, causing her to spin around and look at him.
"Pansy, what are you doing here?"
She placed the brochure for upholstery care back with the others, smoothing her hands over her skirt. "Well, I was in the neighbourhood."
"Well sort of, I caught a bus. I've got this extra long lunch today, and had a what the hell moment." Pansy said rapidly, stopping to take a breath before continuing. "Have you had lunch? If you haven't, there is this lovely little delicatesan around the corner; it makes the most delicious sandwiches. That's if you haven't, or if you want to of course."
"I haven't had lunch."
She smiled at him. "Excellent. Shall we go?"
Harry quickly using wandless magic cleaned himself, and ushered her to the door. They walked silently down the path for a few miles, before Harry caught her peeking out the corner of her eye at him. "So Pansy, why did you want to ask me to lunch?"
"This isn't a date Potter!" She exclaimed, a look of indignation crossing her features.
"I didn't say it was." Harry laughed, shaking his head. "It's just other than when we were in the park with the boys a month ago now, you and I haven't exchanged what would pass as a friendly word. Now you come out of your way to ask me out to lunch, you have to admit that it's a little weird."
"It is, I talked myself out of it the whole way here." Pansy smiled, twirling her scarf ends through her fingers. "I just don't have anyone to talk to, about things. I talk to the ladies at work, but it's all so superficial. They talk about the people they play tennis with, or the latest scandal. I keep so much hidden away, and it drives me crazy, I need to talk about it. Sadly, Stephen is much to young, and I couldn't load him with all of my issues."
He nodded as she spoke, it all resonating with him. "I get the same way, the lads are great, terrific bunch of blokes. But it's always about the new hot chick at the local, or who's going to win the league. Sometimes I want to have someone I can talk to about the dream I had the night before, and not have to explain spending my teen years terrified that I would be fighting for my life the next day. They don't know half of what I went through, to them I'm just Jim; a friendly, quiet guy."
"They couldn't even begin to understand, I was there, and I barely understand it." She stopped on the path, looking up at him. "But, I know exactly what you are talking about. You don't have to allude to certain things, we can lay it all out in black and white. We don't have to pretend."
"Not pretending sounds good, I'd like that." Harry smiled, opening the door for her.
They waited till they were seated at a table in the corner, with no one in earshot. "So you don't talk to anyone but Andromeda? You cut yourself off completely?"
"Yeah, trust me it was for the best. There were things that happened, things that I didn't regret, but others did. I did things that made other people very unhappy, it was selfish, so stupid. It didn't make sense for me to stick around and only make it worse, they made a choice, I couldn't stay."
"It doesn't make sense though, you were all so close. Surely a disagreement could be worked through," Pansy whispered.
"It wasn't just a disagreement, I crossed a line. The line that shouldn't be crossed, Ron is right to never want to speak to me again. I can't force Hermione to." He sighed, drumming his fingers on the table. "What about you? Why haven't you gone back."
"I don't have anything to go back to."
Harry looked up sharply, his eyes narrowing. "Your parents, that's something to go back to."
"My mother died five years ago, and my father moved to Africa, according to the piece in the Prophet it was his great desire. Not to rekindle a relationship with his daughter, and grandson; but to live in the wild," Pansy said bitterly. "I was mad for a while, but I realised it's probably for the best. If he doesn't want to be a part of our lives, then I don't want him around."
"Well, it doesn't look like you need him."
"I don't. Sometimes I think Stephen could benefit from having a man around, it can't have been all that healthy only growing up with such a feminine influence; but I think he's turned out fairly well."
"He has." Harry smiled. "You did a good job, a really good job."
"Surprised? I mean, I was hardly motherly material back at school was I?" She laughed. "I was the polar opposite."
"School was a long time ago, we can't hang onto what happened there. If we did, I would be on the other side of the room, and we would be glaring daggers at each other."
"Too true, I prefer it this way."
Harry returned her smile, before turning his attention quickly to the salt and pepper shakers. "Me too."
"His name was Randolph, Randolph Burrow."
Harry shook his head, kicking at the grass underfoot. "I don't remember him."
"He liked slipping under the radar, not to conduct nefarious deeds. I think he liked being anonymous, especially with the final year at Hogwarts being what it was."
"What was he like?"
Pansy smiled wistfully, gazing out over the hills stretching in front of them. "He was lovely. Incredibly smart, obviously being in Ravenclaw. There was more to him though, he was open-minded, kind, and he cared about me. He didn't see what everyone else saw, what you would have seen. I wasn't just one of those Slytherins. Randolph chose to look beyond the exterior, and he believed that there was goodness in me, for whatever reason."
"Well he was very astute then. Not many people would have been willing to, I mean, you hardly endeared yourself to others at school."
"I was a bitch."
Harry laughed. "Yeah."
"To be fair though Potter, you weren't exactly Mr. Friendly when it came to me."
"Like you would have accepted friendship from me Pansy, you would have made some snitty comment, I would have retorted. It just wouldn't have worked."
"No it wouldn't have." Pansy nodded. Looking away from him, her new friend.
These outings had become somewhat of a habit. They would meet up out of town, and spend the day walking around the native bush talking to each other. The topics ranging from their time at school, to the years since, and what was happening now in their lives.
There were times when she would look at him as they walked, watching him as he talked, when she couldn't quite believe that this was happening. For years she had wanted someone to talk to, someone who didn't think a thrilling conversation revolved around the colour that his milk turned when the Fruit Loops sat for ten minutes. There were things that she couldn't talk about with anyone, things that were too much for a eleven year old to take in.
Harry though, he understood exactly what she was feeling. The thoughts she had were mirrored in him: the isolation from the world they had left behind, only to find that they hadn't really left it behind them. The fears of what they had left behind, because it wasn't over, sooner or later Pansy would have to go back. With Stephen at Hogwarts now, he would want to be more a part of that world, she knew he would. It was like a drug, and the tiny hit that he would recieve at school wouldn't be enough. He'd want to explore, to see all that the magical world entailed. She couldn't deny him.
"Do you think of going back? I know you say you won't, but you must think of returning." Pansy returned her attention to him beside her on the bench.
"Sometimes." He shrugged. "It's not as simple as just stepping into Diagon Alley, getting an ice-cream at Fortescue's though. I haven't been anywhere magical for near on ten years, they'll ask questions, I can hardly slip in un-noticed."
"Maybe a disguise? You can charm your scar away, make your hair blonde, it could so easily be done."
"It could, I'm not brave enough though..."
"You Potter, are plenty brave. It's positively overflowing."
"It's all gone Pansy, I lost it all in a fight. I stood firm, wanting something I couldn't have. I lost everything."
She snorted. "Again. I understand you don't want to talk about it, but all these cryptic answers, little tidbits are driving me crazy. If you don't want to tell me, you don't have to. I would never force you to, just don't say those things, and leave it at that." Pansy stood quickly, starting down the incline.
"You're leaving?" Harry called after her. "We only just got here."
"I have to go, I have a date." She yelled back, her pace increasing as she walked down the steep path.
"Have fun then."
"I plan to." Pansy whispered to herself.
He signals to the man behind the bar, draining the last dregs of his lager. The barman shakes his head, but Harry displays no signs of inebriation so he pours him a fresh one. He has been sitting at the bar for the last two hours. Eating the stale nuts, and draining glass after glass of beer. It's not his smartest moment, but today hasn't really been the day for smart moves.
He doesn't want to tell her, not because he likes keeping it to himself. It's because he's so bloody ashamed of what he did. All that time ago, he'd done something thinking it was the right thing. It wasn't though, it had left a friendship in tatters, with him torn out of it. He couldn't blame them. If someone had done the same thing to him he would have probably reacted the same way.
Harry didn't want to hurt Pansy though, she was the only real friend he had. She kept her guard up for the most part, so he couldn't be entirely sure that he'd hurt her, but he couldn't escape the feeling that he had.
She was honest with him. He could tell that when she spoke she was choosing to tell him the full story, no matter how much it pained her, she wanted to be completely honest. Yet he couldn't. It wasn't that he didn't trust her, because surprisingly he did. He knew that whatever he told her would go no further than her ears, but still he couldn't tell her the truth of why he couldn't go back to his old friends.
Pansy deserved her honesty to be recipricated, not to hear him avoid his horrible actions. She needed to know.
Harry stood then, throwing enough money onto the bar to cover his bill, and quickly exited the bar. He went into the phone box outside, and flipped quickly through the old, ripped book to the P's. There was only one listing for a P. Parkinson, and it was by some force of luck not that far away. He ripped the page from the book, and hailed down the next taxi cab to pass him by.
The words he had to tell her passed quickly through his mind as the cab drove him to her house. He hadn't told anyone, ever. He was too embarrassed, and more than a little hurt by what had happened. Rejection never made anyone feel good, especially not when he lost his two best friends as well.
The car pulled to a stop in front of a small house, the driver turned to him. "That'll be ten quid mate."
Harry pulled out his wallet, and passed him his money. "Thanks." He muttered, slipping out of the car.
There was a light on behind the door, Harry noticed as he walked slowly up the pebbled path to the front door. He knocked firmly on the door, glancing around at the toys on the front verandah. Pansy hadn't put them away from Easter break, and he knew why. She needed the reminder.
Another light was turned on in the house, he straigtened as he heard the peephole swing. The locks clicked open rapidly, and the door opened just as fast.
"Harry?" She gasped, pushing her mussed hair from her face. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"I need to talk to you, can I come in?"
Pansy stepped back, pulling the door with her. "I suppose, although we did already chat today."
"Not completely, I have somethings I have to tell you."
"Oh!" She closed the door behind him, gesturing towards the sitting room. "You don't have to Harry, I don't expect you to tell me. That doesn't mean I don't want you to. But it has to be because you want to."
"No I want to." Harry sat on the edge of one of her chairs, his eyes taking in her home. There's a blanket lying on the lounge, and a paperback novel spread over it, holding its place. He then remembered her last words to him earlier that afternoon. "Oh shit, you had a date, didn't you?"
"He cancelled." Pansy said quickly, sitting down on the edge of the lounge. "Had to work or something. What is it that you wanted to talk about?"
"It's more I have to tell you what happened, the whole story..."
"Harry you don't have to, if you don't want to..."
"No. You have been nothing but honest with me. It isn't fair for me not to return you the favour."
He cleared his throat, focusing his attention on a stain in the rug covering the floor. "First, Ron and Hermione they weren't together at the time, they had had a fight. I can't even remember what it was about, it wasn't important. It was small. They have a temper though, both of them. The small fight was huge, and they weren't talking to each other." Harry remembered to that time, Hermione crying on his shoulder. Ron swearing loudly as he cursed everything. "It was hard, I didn't want to take sides, I'd been doing that for the last eight years. Hermione came around to my flat, she was already half drunk, I had been drinking. We had a few drinks. Together."
He looks up to Pansy, and she is just watching him. Her face is devoid of any expression. Harry knows what she is thinking though. He only has to confirm it.
"We slept together."
The streets were crowded with people heading home from work, anxious to return to their homes. Pansy can't help the skip in her step, or the wide smile on her face. The sun dances across her skin, the breeze blowing in her hair as she hurries along. She has been waiting for this day for weeks, months even.
She can see the old building come into view as she walks along the path, its clock easily visible. The train will be arriving shortly, and aboard will be Stephen. He will be all hers for the next two months, and that thought has kept her smiling for days. He's the only thought on her mind as she steps through the barrier to the platform.
The train hasn't arrived, so Pansy sits on one of the benches, and moves her fingers anxiously against the seat. She checks her watch constantly, looking down the station hoping to see the locomotive steaming towards her.
"That won't make it arrive any faster dear."
Pansy looks around sharply as an elderly lady sat herself beside her.
"I've been doing it for the last half hour. Sadly, I'm still waiting."
She smiles softly, folding her arms across her middle, hiding her watch. "I'm a little anxious, I just want him to come home."
"Was this his first year?"
"It was also my grandson's first year. I remember when his mother started all those years ago now, she was incredibly independent, and took to that school instantly. Despite knowing how happy she was there, I still couldn't wait for her to come home. Now it's the same with her son," she said fondly.
"She's not here?"
"Oh no, she sadly was taken from us when Teddy was just a few months old."
"I'm sorry." Pansy said quietly, her eyes widening. "Teddy?"
"My grandson dear."
She smiled. "I realise that, it's just my son has become rather attached to a boy named Teddy. Most of the letters he sends home are filled with how wonderful Ted is."
"Of course, that would make you Stephen's mother? I too have heard all about your son."
"Well it's lovely to meet you." Pansy smiled, looking around the platform. "You came alone to pick him up?'
"Yes, unfortunately everyone else was busy today at work, but I don't mind. It gives Teddy and myself some time together, before he gets distracted by others."
Nodding; "I can understand that. I've seen them together, at Christmas down the park."
They stood together as they spotted the bright red train begin to pull into the station. "Maybe if you two aren't busy over the holidays, Stephen and yourself can come around to the house. I'd like to get to know you better Miss Parkinson."
"Alright, I'm sure the boys would love that." Pansy said, not paying attention to the words she was saying.
She didn't rush to the edge of the platform, remembering how embarrassing that was. Instead she bounced on the balls of her feet, scanning every face she saw leave the train. She couldn't stop the tiny squeal that left her throat as she finally spied him. There's her boy.
Harry let himself in the back door of Andromeda's home, he snagged one of the still warm biscuits from the plate by the window and walked further in as he ate the sweet cookie. Teddy had been owling him rather persistently over the last week and a half, begging him to come and visit. He couldn't deny the boy any longer.
"Hello?" He called out as he stopped in the hall.
Andromeda popped her head out of a room. "Harry. I'll be with you in just a moment, Teddy is upstairs."
He nodded, stepping into the living area, stopping as he saw the figure sitting on the lounge. "Pansy?"
The magazine in her fingers dropped to the floor below as she jumped, her eyes widening as she looked up at him. "Hi, Harry."
"What are you doing here?"
Pansy narrowed her eyes at his tone, a scowl forming on her lips. "Andromeda invited me. The boys wanted to spend some time together, seemed like a good arrangment. Do you have a problem with it?"
"No, no." He insisted, stepping further into the room. "Just unexpected, Andy didn't tell me you would be here today. Plus, I called you, and you didn't return my calls. Not one of them."
"That's right." She cleared her throat, "I didn't know what to say. I still don't know what to say."
"You didn't have to say anything, the look on your face said it all. I never should have told you."
Pansy stood, shaking her head. "No, I am glad you told me. I was surprised, I wasn't judging you Harry, if that is what you think. I could never judge anyone."
"Then what the hell made you clam up like that?" He said quietly, stepping to her. "You want me to be completely honest, and I do, but then you shut me out. I don't understand."
"It's Granger, it's always Granger. At school she always bested me. You three were always better than us, we were constantly in battle with you. What Draco was to you, Granger was to me. She was always smarter, doing the right thing, she was the biggest thorn in my side. The idea of you, being with her, wanting her as you said you did. I didn't like it."
Harry took her hand in his, stroking his thumb over the soft skin. "It was a long time ago, the feelings then faded. I don't have them anymore, they don't matter..."
"They shouldn't matter. It shouldn't matter what you did nine years ago. I don't know why it matters," she muttered.
"Pansy, I don't feel that way anymore. I think I was in some kind of self destruct mode at that time, what other reason could there be for sleeping with my best friend who was clearly madly in love with my other best friend, and then deluding myself into thinking that she would have fallen head over heels for me, and choose me over him? It was never going to happen, I was stupid, incredibly pathetic; And I lost my two best friends as a result."
"That wasn't what it was."
"What was it then?" Harry slipped onto the couch, pulling her down beside him.
"You wanted what they had, the love, the relationship. It wasn't her, or you trying to sabotage their relationship. You wanted one of your own. Someone who understood you completely, you could communicate with without saying a word. The companionship, to be safe in the knowledge that you loved someone, and they loved you back, unconditionally. Someone who wanted all of that would never have wanted to break them apart."
"How do you know that's what it was?"
"Because, that's what everyone who doesn't have that - wants."
Harry watched her look down to her lap, balling her hands together. "Is that what you want?"
She laughed lightly. "I'm happy as I am Harry, I have Stephen. We are all the family we need. That's not to say that if the right person did come along I wouldn't push them away. What about you?"
He leaned back against the chair, watching her fidgeting beside him. "I thought I was happy how I was you know? I had a job, I had friends I worked with; And I had Ted and Andromeda. I'm realising though that's not enough, I think I'd like more. Hell I know I'd want more."
"More of what?" Pansy whispered, her voice hardly reaching his ears.
She wasn't looking at him, her gaze fixed on the photos on the mantle. A few locks of hair fell down, blocking her eyes from him. "A friend, a companion, a lover. Someone to share my life with, someone to have a life with - a family."
Pansy stiffened as he reached out and pushed the hair away from her face. "A family... That's important."
His fingers brushed the side of her cheek as she turned towards him. "Very important." Harry felt himself leaning into her, she didn't move as he did so. Her breath seeming to come quick, tiny puffs against the side of his hand. "Will you push me away Pansy?"
She shook her head as the distance between them closed, a sigh escaping her lips as he pressed his to hers. They danced lightly across hers, a hand coming to rest over his own. Pansy pulled herself away from him, resting her forehead against his. "I couldn't push you away, not anymore."
Harry felt himself smiling, he kissed her cheek softly.
"Stephen is staying here tonight, with Teddy. Come round for dinner?"
He looked into her eyes, nodding quickly. "I'd love to."
Pansy was nervous. Incredibly nervous, for the first time in what seemed like eons. This whole evening reeked of 'date', it didn't seem at all like the meals that they had shared in the past. A casual lunch in a cafe, grabbing a takeaway coffee on one of their walks were easy, there was no pressure attached to them. In the solitude of her home though, with no one but them, it wasn't hard for her to attach the dreaded date label to this evening.
It wasn't going to be anything fancy, she was hardly a chef by any stretch of the imagination, but she wanted it to be nice. Pansy had set the table with the nice tablecloth, placing a little vase with flowers in the middle of the table. It was only when she went to place a candle beside them that she stopped herself. Holding it in her hand she looked over the table, without the candle it looked like it could on any other day. The moment she placed the flickering candle on the table with the lights turned down, the atmosphere of the room changed.
There was an intimacy that wasn't there when the candle wasn't on the table. Pansy didn't want to presume anything. Harry had kissed her, her lips still tingled when she remembered back to the afternoon. That was just a kiss though, they barely had the chance to catch their breath when the boys had come barreling into the room, and forcing them to part quickly.
The candle made this a date, not just dinner, and what if to Harry - it wasn't a date?
Pansy held the candle in her hand for several moments, pondering over just what to do when the doorbell rang. She walked through the house to the door, opening it to see Harry grinning on her front step.
"Good evening," he smiled, his eyes twinkling in the light.
"Hi," Pansy said quietly, stepping back to allow him in.
He turned to her as she shut the door behind them, holding a bottle of wine to her. "I bought this, for us to have with dinner."
"Excellent," Pansy smiled, taking it from his hands, still holding the candle. He quirked an eyebrow, "I was going to put it on the table..."
"That sounds nice."
"Does it?" She asked quickly, looking up at him closely. His expression gave nothing away, a little smile on his lips, but other than that, she couldn't see anything. "Well I'll go put it on there then."
Pansy hurried into the kitchen, placing the candle next to the flowers, turning to find Harry right behind her. "It looks lovely, and smells good."
"Thanks," she said quietly, setting the wine on the table. "Are you hungry?"
"Starved," he smiled, reaching out beside her he picked up the bottle. "Shall we open?"
Pansy nodded, "I'll get us some glasses." She moved over to the cupboard, grabbing one for both of them, and turning around to once again find Harry right behind her. She jumped, noting the tiny smile on his lips. "Something funny?"
He shook his head as he poured some wine into the glasses, the smile growing. "Amusing, you're nervous?"
"No!" Pansy said quickly, only to shake her head. "A little, I'd be lying if I said this is something I do regularly. Truthfully, I've never done this."
"Never. I have a son, for ten years he was my only priority. My needs came a very distant second," she said softly, leaning back against the bench. "But, it's not like the door was ringing constantly with offers. There was a wall I put up, and I haven't really let it down."
"So you've never been on a date? Like a real honest to god date? Dinner, dancing, all that stuff?" Harry asked, leaning beside her.
"Nope. At school it was all that ridiculousness of going to Madam Puddifoots, it was all just for show. Then when I left, I had Stephen not long after that, so my priorities shifted."
"Understandable. The other week though, when we were walking," Pansy looked at him quickly, remembering instantly what she told him that day. "You told me..."
"You didn't what?"
"Have a date, you were pissing me off, and it was frustrating the hell out of me with the not telling me, but dropping all those bloody comments." Pansy sipped the wine, looking down to the floor. "It just popped out when you said we'd just got there. I didn't want to be near you, and I was so mad. I don't know why I said it."
He turned around and placed his glass on the bench beside her, "It doesn't matter why."
Harry moved closer to her, taking her glass from her fingers, and putting it next to his. "Well for starters, I don't think I've ever been so glad to hear that someone lied to me; and, I'm really glad that this is your first date."
She smiled as his hand cupped her cheek, whispering just before he brought his lips to hers. "So am I."
Harry reached over, brushing the hair from her face. She smiled, leaning into his hand, but she stayed sleeping. Delicate little snores passing her lips, bringing a smile to his lips. Moving closer to her, Harry slid an arm around her, bringing her snug against him. Pansy stretched her arm over him, burrowing her head into his shoulder.
He didn't want to spend too much time thinking about it, but everything really had come full circle. For so long he'd been pretending he was someone he wasn't, shunning all parts of what he used to call home. A year ago he was content to live his life away from all the wonder, and destruction that seemed to go hand in hand in the Wizarding world.
There was nothing like walking straight into your past to make you realise that it wasn't as simple as just walking away. When you least expected it, you got a bolt out of the blue, and you were right back there again. Harry was so determined to forget, and to let the past be just that, the past; that he was completely unprepared for it. Now that the guard was down, he really didn't think Pansy was going to let him put it back up.
He glanced down at the witch beside him, and found her looking up at him, her eyes still sleepy. "What are you thinking about?"
"Would you believe me if I said you?" Harry smiled.
"I wouldn't be surprised," she smirked lightly, hovering over him, and kissing him firmly.
"Good things?" She smiled down at him.
"So you're happy?" Pansy asked quietly, shifting to the side of him.
"I'm happy that I'm here, with you."
She beamed at him, before snuggling up to the side of him. "I'm happy you're here too. Very happy."
Harry kissed the top of her head, his arm wrapping tightly around her. A sense of relief overtaking him as she whispered those words, happy indeed. It happened where he would never have expected to find it, but he had. He'd spent so long hiding from the past, pretending to himself that he was happy leaving it all behind. Only for someone to come bolting out of it, and show him just what he was missing.
What he wasn't missing any longer.