Title: For Better or Worse
Characters: Pansy Parkinson, Harry Potter
Disclaimer: I own nothing except my plot and characterizations. JKR owns the rest. I don't make monies from this.
Warnings/Author's note: Some bad language and sexual innuendo, but nothing major. Thanks to Lady Lynn for betaing this and helping me tame Harry's smirking problem. Thanks to kate0404 for cracking the whip when I was getting behind on writing. SS/HG as per the prompt, people.
It was a strange thing. It was electricity, a feeling, a gut instinct…and no one could control it. It had taken Pansy a long time to figure it out, but no matter how hard she had fought and no matter how much prudence she possessed, love had snuck up on her, tagged her, and screamed "You're it!"
And who had she fallen in love with? Just Harry Potter: the most unavailable man in the Wizarding world.
Well, that wasn't exactly true. He was available…just not to her.
Okay, so maybe that wasn't exactly true, either.
Pansy had earned his trust and won his heart in the end, but it had been a crazy ride that started three years ago when their mutual friend, Hermione Granger, had set them up with the promise that they would be perfect together, despite their past interactions. And while Pansy had no doubts about their compatibility, Harry had been the reluctant party. Not only was he not too convinced about her post-war changes, he was on the rebound from Pansy's least favourite witch, Ginny Weasley.
Somehow, Hermione had convinced him to give her a chance. One date had turned into two, two had turned into four, and four had turned into countless others. Dating had led to learning about each other's pasts and presents, learning had led to sex, sex had led to commitment, commitment had led to love, love had led to contentment, contentment had led to engagement, and engagement had led to marriage.
And that was where they were. A little over six months into it.
Pansy had given up a lot when she married Harry: her family's wealth, her status in uptight pureblood society, and just about all of her family. And it had been worth it. Honestly. Harry was her better half; he kept her calm, accepted her for who she was, made her feel normal and safe, and catered to her needs.
All of them.
Even her latest need that had him driving her to and from her London office every day for the last nine months while the Ministry tried to fix her office's Floo network. Of course, she'd had the option of Apparating, but after a horrific Splinching accident two years before, Pansy had been plagued with a phobia of Apparition. Harry understood and went out of his way to help her.
Well, not anymore.
Her husband wanted to give her driving lessons. Driving lessons?! She snorted at the thought. How absurd. Why did she have to learn how to drive? She had him! And who better to have as a personal chauffeur than Harry Potter? Seriously. He was a genius at all things Muggle, especially the automobile. Oh, and the blender.
Pansy had only ever been in two cars in her twenty-six years of life, and Harry had been the better driver of the two.
Not that that mattered. The other driver had been Ronald Weasley, and one could only imagine how that car ride had gone.
She shuddered at the thought and set her quill down on her desk, glancing at the clock on the wall. Harry would be there in fifteen minutes to pick her up, which left her with fifteen minutes to figure out a plan to get herself out of said driving lessons. Leaning back into her chair, Pansy bit down on the tip of her manicured fingernail thoughtfully.
Harry's stupid driving lessons plan was completely cramping her lifestyle. Without Harry, what else would she do to get through the horrid Muggle London traffic? Harry was pure entertainment. He cursed more in the car than he did when she did that thing he liked in bed, when she stretched her legs—well, anyway. The fact of the matter was that a cursing Harry Potter was a comical one. Her husband combined words that she had never heard in her life.
It made her giggle. Aloud. Pansy looked around her office as if someone were lurking in the shadows, watching her anti-Pansy moment. She couldn't have them thinking that she was a real person, now could she? Of course not.
Fondly, she recalled asking Draco what a 'fucktard' was yesterday at lunch. His reaction had been priceless; He'd nearly choked on his tea. When he asked her where she had heard that word from, she explained that it was the name that Harry had called the man who had cut them off that morning. Draco had howled with laughter.
Pansy's internal snicker was cut off by a knock on her door.
She quickly picked up her quill and pretended to work. "Enter, if you must," she drawled while staring at her latest project. When she heard the door shut with an audible click, Pansy looked up and a small smirk slowly crept its way across her face. She leaned back in her chair as Harry rested his back against the door. She took the time to appreciate him in his slightly dingy Auror robes before she said, "Well, hello there. From the look of your robes, I'd say that you had an interesting day."
He looked down at himself. "You could say that. We apprehended a Dark wizard today, and he didn't come quietly. It took two teams of Obliviators to come in and modify the memories of fifty-seven Muggles and explain that the fire on the empty double-decker near Regent's park was caused by a petrol leak. I left Malfoy to do the paperwork and explain everything to our boss so that I wouldn't be late to pick you up."
"Ah, I'm sure Draco really appreciated that."
"Well, enough to call me a 'fucktard' under his breath."
It took everything in her to not dissolve into fits of laughter. Primly, she cleared her throat and suppressed her smile. "Well, he has always been known for his colourful language." She checked her watch. "And you didn't even have to leave him. You're early."
"You're quite observant, Mrs. Potter. I wanted to leave him because he's always leaving me with mountains of paperwork to go have drinks with everyone else."
"Don't call me that, Mr. Potter. It's Parkinson-Potter."
"It's ridiculous, that's what it is."
Pansy narrowed her eyes. So what if he had a point, she would not relent. "In your opinion, that is, but I value my name as much as I value yours."
"Have nothing to do with why I hyphenated my name. My career is built on Parkinson, like it or not. I don't want people to think that I changed my name to gain more status."
"Oh, heaven forbid that." Harry smirked, pushed himself off the door, and slowly came around the side of her desk, looking as if her were on a mission. "I say we postpone this conversation for another day. Besides, there are other, more important things that we should discuss."
Intense and quiet. Those were two words that could aptly describe the atmosphere in the room following her husband's words. It was always like that between them, and that was another thing that she wouldn't change for the world. He took a moment to adjust his glasses and smooth down his hair. Pansy smirked. He could smooth it down all that he wanted and it would still look messy. It was another thing that she wouldn't change about him. His greens met her blues when she turned her chair. Pansy crossed her leg and daintily rested her elbow on her left armrest as she gave him a soft yet saucy smile. "What did you want to discuss, Mr. Potter?"
"Your driving lessons."
Pansy frowned. Way to knock the breeze out of her sails, or however the Muggles said it.
"I was thinking that we should start them tomorrow."
"Oh, what fun." She drawled sarcastically as she turned her chair away from him in a huff and started to clear her desk. She was about to snap her briefcase shut when she finally whirled around in her chair and stood to her feet. "I just don't understand why you have to give me these silly driver's lessons." Pansy walked right past him and grabbed her jacket from the charmed coat rack.
"Silly—Pansy you were the one who asked for them."
"I was kidding, Harry! You know, making a joke! A 'haha-I'm-so-bloody-funny' joke!"
"How was I supposed to know that? It wasn't even funny."
Pansy narrowed her eyes and immediately walked to her door. "I'm ready." She haughtily folded her arms. Harry reached out to take her hand, but she swatted him away because she was determined to have her tantrum. He just shook his head and followed her out the door, chuckling under his breath. She inwardly scowled.
A few of her co-workers and employees were still around, and it seemed that every eye had turned to her as soon as she opened the door. She was, after all, married to the most famous wizard in the world. Wonderful, right? Not exactly. They stared—a lot. Pansy frowned. She couldn't even have her tantrum the way that she wanted to, because of them. Any public argument that they had would be in the papers by morning. Pansy took Harry by the hand, put on a nice fake smile for them all, and bid them all goodnight. As soon as they were out of sight, she stomped away from him with her nose high in the air.
Was she angry? A little bit, but not much. However, Harry didn't need to know that. She'd get him to forget about her driving lessons one way or another.
They were in the parking lot when her husband finally grabbed her by the arm. She was about to tell him where he could go when he said, "The car is that way." And sure enough, she was walking completely in the wrong direction.
Just perfect. Even temper tantrums weren't going her way.
When he opened her door, she just looked at him with narrowed eyes. Harry rolled his eyes in return. "Don't give me that look, Pans. No matter how much you squint your eyes and give me the silent treatment, I won't be swayed. You might've been joking, but I think that it's something that you finally need to learn how to drive."
"Yes, well, style is something that you need to learn, but you don't see me cornering you like it's some sort of intervention. You don't see me giving you lessons that'll teach you that brown belts and black shoes don't match." Her voice had become slightly hysterical.
"Calm down. It's just driving lessons."
She stomped her foot. "You're robbing me of my freedom!"
"I'm giving it to you. Don't you want to be able to get into the car and go wherever you want to go?"
Pansy stared at him for a moment before she narrowed her eyes further. "No!"
He looked utterly confused. "What?"
"Wait, I want all of that, but I want you to be the one that takes me there." When his brow quirked, she decided that it was the perfect time to go for the kill. Pansy stepped closer to her husband and turned up the charm. Lovingly, she straightened his glasses, wrapped both arms around his neck, and then kissed him lightly on the lips. As expected, Harry smiled. "Don't you understand? If I learn how to drive, then you won't be the one to drop me off at work, and you won't be the one to pick me up. I'll be all by myself." Pansy pouted. "We won't have time to talk in the car, or laugh at the ladio—"
"Radio." Harry corrected.
"Whatever it's called doesn't matter. What matters is that we won't have that extra time together…to bond." Her husband's eyes narrowed suspiciously and she rushed her next words. "I'd rather…" She thought for a moment. Bingo! "I'd rather ride the train to work than sit in a car without you in it." Pansy batted her eyelashes.
"While I love the sentiment, I think you've forgotten one key thing."
"And what is that?"
"I was almost sorted into Slytherin, too, so you can turn off the charm and the sweetness. I think I have a toothache."
"Charm? Sweetness? There's none of that here, I'm only being sincere." She drawled, smiling prettily.
"Yes…." Her voice wavered as she looked over his shoulder to avoid his gaze.
Not that that worked. He gently cupped her chin and looked into her eyes. "Seriously? Would you ride the train just because I can't be in the car with you?"
"Well—" Harry gave her a look. Pansy made a face. "Fine, no! I would never ride the train. The germs." She shuddered at the mere thought of stepping on one of those filthy trains.
Harry smiled victoriously. "I thought so. Let's go home. There are a few things you need to know before your lesson."
Pansy got into the car and pouted while Harry rambled on about her lesson.
Perfect. Just bloody perfect.
Pansy had to repeat her marriage vows in her head exactly six times before the urge to kill her husband subsided. Two hours had passed since they had arrived home and he was still going on and on about those sodding driving lessons. Throughout dinner, she reminded herself that she had vowed to love him through sickness and health, for better or worse, and all that other rubbish. And really, it couldn't get any worse than those bloody driving lessons, at least not in her mind.
She could tolerate his suspicious nature, his more irritating qualities, and even the way he practically clawed at his 'I will not tell lies' scar when he was nervous. She could tolerate his Hero-Complex, his stubbornness, and even his almost pathological need to name all of their future children after the people that he'd lost. But she could not tolerate his persistence.
When Harry came into their sitting room, carrying an armful of books and pamphlets, Pansy looked up from her Witch Weekly magazine and frowned. It had been a quiet fifteen minutes without him and she was looking forward to another ten minutes of peace while she stretched out on the sofa. Instead, she made a face. "What the bloody hell are those?"
He sat them on the coffee table and replied matter-of-factly. "Books and pamphlets."
Pansy glared at him. "I see that, but what are they about?"
"Driving." Harry grinned.
"Wonderful." She deadpanned. "Now take them back to wherever you got them from."
Harry sat on the leftover part of the couch where her feet didn't reach and started massaging her left foot, gently. "But they're for you."
The black-haired witch sat her magazine on the table before she rested her head on the arm of the chair and addressed her husband, who was doing wonders on her aching feet. She loved her heels, but sometimes they were murder on her feet. And somehow he knew which days were the worst. Pansy closed her eyes. "If you think that I'm reading all of those, then you're absolutely mad." There was a hint of a smile on her relaxing face. He really knew exactly what to do to make her feel like the pampered princess that she really was.
He switched feet, causing Pansy to groan a little. "You're being stubborn, love."
Snorting softly, she remarked. "You should know. After all, you wrote the book on it." She opened one blue eye to see his reaction. She knew it would be priceless. When all he did was grin, she frowned. Drat. And then something came to her. "And since when do we have books about driving in our office?"
"We don't. Hermione checked them out for me at the Muggle Library. She's ecstatic about your driving lessons."
"She would be." Pansy snorted. "Severus clearly needs to do a better job at keeping his witch occupied."
Harry shuddered and switched feet. "I really don't want to discuss the many ways that my ex-Potions professor keeps my best friend occupied, thank you very much." He flashed a feral grin. Well, about as feral of a grin as a man like Harry Potter could flash. "But, I could think of something that we could discuss."
Excitement flashed in her blue eyes as she watched her husband crawl up the length of her body, his hands making the path the rest of him followed until he cupped her face. Finally, a way to keep his mind off of his stupid idea to give her driving lessons. Good. Now, she could have the time to plan a real diversion; one that would take his mind off of those lessons for good.
Operation: Divert Harry Potter's Attention began with a kiss. A slow, lazy kiss that made her toes curl and his body relax. Harry tasted of butterbeer from dinner, of pepper from the kidney pie, and of honey from the bread. She slipped her tongue between his lips, just for a moment before she pulled away slowly. Huskily, she asked, "So, what did you want to talk about?"
He smiled lazily and removed his glasses, placing them on the coffee table. "Oh, just about your driving lessons tomorrow."
Harry Potter suddenly found himself on the floor while his perturbed wife glared down at him.
"If you think that you can seduce me into taking driving lessons, then you're mistaken," Pansy told him hotly as he groaned in pain. Of all the things that he wanted to talk about! She wanted to hex him, but reminded herself, yet again, of her marriage vows. For better or worse.
The wizard slowly sat up, rubbing his shoulders and gritting his teeth in pain. "And if you think that you can seduce me out of giving you driving lessons, then you're mistaken, as well." He squinted his eyes at her, or at least she thought he did. She really couldn't tell if he was mad or if he just couldn't see. Pansy figured that it was a combination of both when he said, "Did you really have to push me that hard?"
"Yes, I did." Pansy replied snootily as she turned on her side, using her arm to prop herself up. She looked at him for a moment longer before she said, "Well, I suppose we are at an impasse." She then pulled herself into a sitting position and slowly slid off the couch, straddling his legs.
He wrapped one arm around her waist and ran the other through his impossibly messy hair "No, I don't believe that we are, because unlike you, I'm more than willing to compromise." Harry started looking around for his glasses without avail. It was hard to bargain without them.
She picked them up off the table and put them on his face. "Compromise? You want to make a compromise, Harry?"
He placed his second hand higher on her back. "Naturally."
Pansy was inches from his face when she said, "How's this for one: keep up all of this 'driving lessons' talk, Harry, and I'll close the shop."
He looked utterly confused. "The shop?"
Groaning in frustration, she poked him in the chest and exclaimed, "No sex, you idiot!"
Harry cocked a brow. "No sex, eh?"
"Yes!" She huffed, leaning back on his hands and folding her arms.
"Now who does that punish more, me or you?"
Pansy's mouth fell open. Bloody hell. "You—"
Harry shushed her quickly by drawing her close to him and whispering in her ear. "Hear me out. You do this for me, and I'll do anything you want."
That caught her attention. She pulled back slightly, intrigued by his proposal. "Anything?"
The wheels in her head were turning as a plan formed in her mind. It was a bloody good one, too, and the answer to all of her problems. "So, if I agree to go through with this lesson, you'll agree to never mention driving lessons again?"
Harry shrugged. "If that's what you want, but you have to honestly give it a try. No tricks or manipulations. And don't even think about doing horridly just to weasel your way out of this."
"Fine," Pansy frowned. Drat. Did he really know her that well?
Her husband smirked. "Then let's shake on it."
Pansy flashed a feral grin of her own. "Ah, I have a better idea, and it doesn't involve just shaking…."
Pansy's first question the next morning was asked while she stared distastefully at their vehicle: "So, what do I do first?"
He had spent the last hour and a half quizzing her on everything possible as he drove them far from the city for her first and last driving lesson. Her head was drowning in confusing information about clutches, gears, and road signs. It was slightly overwhelming, but she remembered the agreement that they'd made last night. Pansy halted that thought just a moment to recall the pleasant memory of how they'd closed that deal.
First pleasant thought of the day, she frowned grimly. But she sighed next. She could do this.
Why? Because Pansy would do anything to shut him up about driving lessons, even take one of her own. She looked down at herself, and couldn't believe what she was wearing: Muggle blue jeans, a jumper, and some evil trainers that Hermione had allowed her to borrow. Pansy just knew that she looked hideous. Harry wouldn't allow her to wear heels because he wanted her to be comfortable for her first driving lesson. She'd argued that heels always helped her feel better, but he told her that she would thank him later.
She snapped from her thoughts and looked at Harry, who was looking around. They were on an empty back road, and not one car had passed them by in the ten minutes that they had been there. She cleared her throat. He hadn't heard her. "What do I do first, Harry?" Pansy asked louder.
Harry looked at his wife over their car and smiled. "Try opening the car door. It works wonders."
Pansy glared at him hotly before she folded her arms. "I've never opened my own car door before."
A puzzled look was what she'd immediately received from Harry, followed quickly by a rather subdued: "Seriously? I've never let you open your own door?"
Pansy shook her head. "No." Not once in the three years that they dated and the six months that they had been married, had he left her to open her own car door. His chivalry was one of the many things that she truly loved about Harry Potter, but she didn't tell him that.
He came around to her side and stood behind her, massaging her tense shoulders gently. "I hadn't even realized that." She wasn't surprised. Harry was the kind of person who did amazing things without even thinking about it. He dropped a loving kiss on the side of her neck, trying to loosen her up a bit. "Would you like me to open your door today? Would that make you feel better? I'd hate to break the streak."
She nodded slowly and smiled. "That would help."
When Pansy was finally settled behind the wheel of their car, and Harry settled in on the passenger's side, they both took a moment before he started talking. "Are you sitting close enough to push the clutch?"
"Well, then slide your seat up. The lever is on the side of the—"
During his instructions, Pansy's hand had found the lever and she wrenched it hard. Because their car was sitting on a slight incline, the movement sent her seat flying backwards. She let out a startled gasp when it hit the end of its track, and froze. She thought that she was going to roll right out the car, and relaxed when she didn't. The witch then glared at her husband; his eyes were glossy and his shoulders were shaking with mirth. "Don't…you dare…laugh."
"Me? Laugh? Now would I do such a thing?" His voice sounded humoured.
"Yes!" She shrieked.
Harry chuckled lowly as he helped her move her seat in the correct position. They put on their seat belts and Pansy listened as he pointed out everything that she would need to drive. She touched everything and practiced pushing the clutch while he went on. A few minutes later, she was waiting semi-patiently for her next instructions when he said: "Ready?"
"Not really," she grumbled.
"That's better than nothing." Harry smirked. "Okay, make sure that the handbrake is set and put the car in neutral."
She stared at him dumbly. "How do I do that?"
"Push down the clutch and push the manual gearbox into neutral." When she followed his directions, he continued. "Now. Push down the clutch again, and turn the key, just like I showed you this morning."
It took four tries before she finally got it right, and Harry had gone from smirking to cringing. The engine revved up so strong on the last attempt that it made Pansy sit straight back in her seat. She took her foot off the clutch. "What was that? Did I make a mistake? Merlin, this was such a horrible idea." Her voice was getting more and more hysterical. "I can't believe that I let you talk me into this. I'm such a—"
"No, you did it. You started the car." Harry chuckled and put his hand on her leg, reassuring her that everything would be fine. "You're doing pretty well, Pans."
She slowly returned from the land of hysteria at the compliment. "I am?"
"Well, you haven't broken the clutch, destroyed the engine, or mucked up the car…yet."
The witch frowned. Momentarily, she thought of hexing him right out of that car, but was reminded of three things: her marriage vows, the fact that he was her way home, and that Harry had taken her wand because somehow he knew that she would be thinking violent thoughts about him during many parts of the lesson. That thought didn't make her feel any better. After narrowing her eyes, she shot back sarcastically, "Well, thank you for your massive support."
"No problem," Harry grinned. "Now, are you ready to move on?"
She looked around apprehensively. "I happen to think that this is a perfect spot to call it a lesson, don't you think?" She started for her seatbelt. "Well, this has been terribly fun—"
"Oh no you don't, Pans. You're not getting out of this yet. You haven't even driven the car."
Pansy scowled. "But, you said—"
"You have to get through the entire driving lesson. We agreed on that." When she pouted, her husband smiled. "You never know, you just might like driving once you get the hang of it."
"Are you mad? You must be mad to think that I'm going to like this. I've been in this driver's seat for ten minutes, we haven't moved an inch, and I'm already ready to say bugger this and you."
He squeezed her thigh. "Now, now, the sooner you start, the sooner you can finish."
She gripped the steering wheel tightly. "Fine. What do I do now?"
"Just put your foot back on the clutch, and release the handbrake. Don't press the gas just yet. And put the car in first gear."
After a few frazzling moments, Pansy had accomplished what he'd asked. She wasn't quite sure how, but they were slowly rolling. The engine was lugging and the car was bucking as if it were revolting against her actions. "What did I do?" She exclaimed over the sounds of the car.
"You eased up on the clutch too fast. It's common."
"How do I make it stop?" Merlin, the sound was absolutely horrific and Harry was cringing extra hard. Pansy's hands were tense; hell, her entire body was tense.
"I don't know. Practice, maybe. It took me a long time to get it right."
Pansy's voice was even more shrilled than before. "Practice? What the—what kind of teacher are you?! What if I screwed this up? We're going to be trapped here until someone comes to pick us up!"
"Oh sure, there's always Apparition, but dammit, if it comes to that, I'd rather be stranded."
Harry's grip tightened on her thigh and he tried to comfort her over the sounds that the car made. "No one's going to be stranded. This is normal. It isn't going to damage the car. We're just rolling now, slowly at that. So, let's make sure that no one is coming." When Pansy didn't move, he nudged further. "That's your cue to look over your shoulder."
The wheel was tight in her grip. "I can't."
"Yes, you can."
"No, I can't!" She yelled, gripping the wheel tighter.
Harry cringed at the tone that her voice had taken and looked for her. "Okay, there's no one coming. You can press the gas now; it'll help you ease up on the clutch easier. And then get on the road now."
Pansy's hands were shaking, but she followed his directions. It took a few violent lurches, shrieks from the driver, and comforting words from the passenger to get the car on the road. The car wasn't moving nearly as smooth as it moved when Harry drove it, but they were moving.
She was driving! No one would ever believe it! Pansy certainly couldn't. As she got slightly comfortable, Pansy realized that perhaps Harry was right. Maybe driving wasn't so terrible. The car was still making some funny noises, but it wasn't too bad anymore.
Well, as long as she didn't have to do anything else.
"You could speed up a bit, if you wanted to." Harry informed a minute later.
She looked over at Harry. "What's the speed limit?"
"Forty-five miles per hour."
"Oh! And how fast am I going?"
"Well, ten is a good number. Nice and slow…."
"Hardly. You have to speed up. You're reaching the friction point. Push on the gas a little more and ease off the clutch just a little more."
"Do I have to? Aren't we done? I mean, I drove. I'm driving. Fun. Great. I did my part of the deal. I gave it a shot."
"But the lesson is just getting started."
"Just getting—no! It's not just getting started; it's close to being finished!"
"Fine, fine, but you need to speed up."
"I think we're doing really well right now, at this speed. You know, just in case something happens, we can safely jump from the car—"
"Jump from the—Pans, you've been watching way too many Muggle movies."
"No, I haven't! These things happen! People have jumped from buses before! I don't want to jump from a bus! I don't even want to jump from a car!"
"Remind me to unplug the telly when we get home."
She looked at him. "We're not going to get home if we—"
"Pansy. Calm down and keep your eyes on the road. I need you to speed up."
Pansy looked straight ahead. "But, I—" When he gave her a stern look, she sighed and warily pushed down on the gas pedal, cursing him under his breath. She watched the speedometer slowly inch higher and higher, and the engine started making louder and louder noises. Pansy tensed and cringed when it suddenly started making a screeching sound.
"Ok. Hit the clutch, move the stick from first to second, tap the gas smoothly as you release the clutch."
It was too much for her to process over the screeching sounds that the car made. "Do that what!" Harry immediately started to repeat his directions when Pansy hit her lithe fists against the steering wheel in frustration, making the horn beep loudly. The sound scared her and she started to panic. "You can't possibly expect me to remember all that! What kind of—you're a horrid teacher, Harry! Just horrid!" As she yelled at him, she stomped down on the clutch, moved the stick, and stomped on the gas. And outside of the terrible grinding sounds that the car made, they were still moving. And the car still worked. Pansy couldn't believe it.
"I can't believe it." And, apparently, neither could Harry.
But neither of them had time to rejoice in the second accomplishment of the day.
They were approaching a hill. Fast. At twenty-five miles per hour, to be exact.
It wasn't very large, but it was a hill nonetheless.
Now Pansy didn't quite understand the significance of a hill when driving a manual car. She actually didn't understand much of anything that involved cars, but she did understand curse words quite well. And Harry's soft, "Fuck," told her a lot more than she needed to know. Fuck. They were fucked.
"Okay, you probably aren't ready for hills, but you're going to have to listen to me carefully. Go back down to first."
She listened to him and the downshift was anything but smooth, but she completed it. "Harry, I—" The car started going up the hill. It wasn't large, but to Pansy they were driving up Mount Everest.
"Just listen. You're going to have to do some fast shifting, okay?"
Pansy's nerves were frazzled by this point, and all she could do was nod. The car was already starting to slow down, and she couldn't breathe. The witch successfully shifted from first to second with much difficulty and a lot of gear-grinding. She pushed on the gas and eased off the clutch just like she remembered. The shift from second to third was harder, but Harry was right there, calmly and patiently giving her directions. And together, they slowly started to conquer that hill. His hand was on her thigh, patting it comfortingly.
And then something happened.
She reached the top of the hill.
Pansy let an excited shriek escape from her lips as she grinned at her husband. However, that shriek turned into a scream when they slowly started rolling backwards.
On their nineteenth date, Harry had taken them to a theme park. She and Hermione had initially bonded over their mutual fear of heights, and Pansy hadn't wanted to get on the rollercoaster. But like a bargaining bloke, Harry had promised to get on three rides that she wanted to get on if she got on one rollercoaster. That seemed fair at the time, but when the ride started, she knew that three rides wouldn't be enough to make up for that one. It was horrible, and it enhanced her fear of heights.
That day, Pansy felt like her stomach had fallen out of her body, and her heart had started beating extremely fast. Well, those feelings couldn't compare to how she felt right then. Pansy felt as if she were free falling, and like she had done on that rollercoaster ride, she closed her eyes tight and started screaming hysterically at the top of her lungs.
Harry's voice was no longer cool or composed. "Open your eyes!" She kept on screaming bloody murder. The car kept on rolling backwards. And Harry kept on yelling. "You have to stop screaming and—"
"To hell with for better or worse, I'm going to kill you! And Granger! And Snape! And the people who made this car! And the people who wrote those shitty driving—" She opened her eyes and started screaming louder. A high-strung, hysterical, and panicking Pansy Parkinson wasn't exactly a rational one. She had her foot down on the brakes as she shouted, "I'm going to kill you for killing us!"
It seemed that Harry's Hero-Complex came to life in those chaotic moments. He hurled into action the second he realized that his wife was not good in a tight situation. He reached over and yanked on the handbrake hard. The car, which had rolled all the way back down to the bottom of the little hill, had stopped rather suddenly, causing both of their seatbelts to lock up.
Harry let out an audible sigh of relief, turned off the car, and rested his head back on the head rest. Pansy kept screaming just a little bit longer until she realized that they were no longer rolling backwards. Unable to scream, or even speak her relief, she then opened her eyes and looked over at Harry.
He had the nerve to ask her, "Are you all right?"
Pansy punched him in the arm.
"Hey!" Harry rubbed his arm. "You didn't even ask about me!"
She snarled and punched him repeatedly in the same arm until Harry wrestled his way out of the seat belt and jumped out the car. He walked around and opened her door. Pansy tried to pull her way out of her seat belt with no avail. She pulled and yanked and growled and groaned. Pansy was close to giving up when Harry dropped to his knees next to the door, cautiously reached over her body, and pushed the button that unlocked her seat belt.
And Pansy launched herself at him, but not in the way that he'd expected.
No, she hugged him. Tightly. She buried her face in the crook of his neck and allowed herself to shake with fear. Harry squeezed her tightly. "Your first driving lesson went better than mine. And it certainly went better than Ron's."
"Really?" She mumbled against his neck.
"Definitely. And, you know, we're going to tell our children about this day and we're all going to have a good laugh from it."
Pansy snorted. "Not bloody likely. I'm never taking another driving lesson again."
"Well, that's good because I'm never giving one again. And I won't try to coerce you into taking another one."
He just smiled and sealed the promise with a kiss.