Disclaimer: I own nothing except my characterizations and plot. JKR owns the rest. I make no money from this.
Title: Fourteen Months
Word Count: 1172
Prompt: XIX. Christmas—please baby come home.
A/n: Thanks to Lady Lynn who beta'd this piece. This was written for the 2008 A Very Harry & Pansy Christmas Challenge on pphp_challenge.
Harry almost wrote to her and told her not to come.
The weather that night was treacherous, and the thought of Pansy getting lost or hurt trying to walk the tenth of a mile from the Apparition point to his cabin in the blistering cold and snow was a terrifying thought; one that frightened him beyond belief. But she didn't believe in those "Muggle cellular contraptions", and his Floo wasn't connected to her new home, anyway.
Harry clenched his fist around his steaming mug of bitter coffee, and in his mind, uttered a silent prayer for her safety should she decide to come tonight. Rising to his feet, he laid another log on the fire, which elicited another whoosh of flames up the chimney. He felt the flames lick at the edges of the fireplace, but he didn't move.
Instead, he sunk down to the rug in front of the fireplace and shut his eyes as he thought about her.
Nothing had ever been perfect between them. In fact, they had never been about perfection, not even close. It was not needed, not attempted, and not possible. Not for them, anyway. Not with the lives that they had led. Pansy was the most flawed person that he knew, but Harry was right there with her. What they had together was dysfunctional, but they had their moments.
Those little moments when things were just right, when they would laugh and cry together, when he looked at her and it was like everything he had been waiting for his entire life was in them, and things were just…right. Not perfect, but right. They had those moments. And maybe not all of them had been so pleasant, maybe those little moments had come after a cataclysmic row, but those little moments were theirs. Not his. Not hers. Theirs.
But maybe those little moments weren't enough—no, they certainly hadn't been enough. He and Pansy had fallen apart. Everyone had said that they were doomed from the start, but that wasn't exactly true. Their relationship, though atypical, was going along smoothly until his impulsive proposal. Even now, he couldn't wrap his head about what had happened or what all was said. However, when it was all said and done, he had cursed her fear of settling down, his need for settling down, and their collective inability to agree on anything.
Maybe they had been doomed from the start.
Harry frowned, drank a little of his bitter coffee, and stared at the fire.
The first time that he had seen Pansy following the war had been at the Malfoy family's annual Christmas Eve Ball three years ago. Hermione, who had married into the Malfoy family that October, had insisted that he come, using the excuse that she wanted to see another familiar face besides her husband's. But he had known that she was inviting him so that he wouldn't spend his first post-Ginny Christmas alone.
It hadn't been an exciting event.
Draco had used some stupid excuse and disappeared with Hermione an hour into the ball, leaving him to fend for himself and fill his empty stomach with Elf-wine. Just when he was about to stumble to the Floo to leave, Harry had seen her.
Pansy had been standing across the room, dressed in black robes that accentuated her curves. She was looking around the room with bored eyes, and when they met his, for some inexplicable reason, he had genuinely smiled at her.
He blamed the Elf-wine.
And after a look of confusion swept across her face, she had tentatively smiled back.
Pansy's smile, he'd realised, was much better than her frown.
Harry was positive that he had initiated it, but he wasn't completely sure nor was he completely sober. All he knew was that by the time the clock struck midnight, he and Pansy were falling into his bed, a tangled mass of limbs and mouths, and tongues and heat, of rough legs sliding against her smooth legs, and fingers in his messy hair.
That Christmas had been a very merry one, and Harry found himself smiling at the memory and each memory they had made until their very last.
It had been fourteen months since Harry had held her the way he used to. Now, when they acknowledged each other, it was with a curt nod or a fake smile. If they happened to meet at the door, he held it open for her, and she said thank you, like strangers.
And though they weren't perfect, he wanted her back – desperately. He didn't care about marriage, he just wanted her. And as this Christmas approached, his need for Pansy increased. He wished for her to come, and hoped that she would stay. He didn't want to have to spend this Christmas alone, not when he had spent the last one by himself. Surrounded by friends, but still a thousand miles away, distant and – alone.
Lulled and hypnotized by the snap and crackle of burning wood, Harry shivered sleepily as he cast a glance at his old wristwatch. She wasn't coming. She had no reason to, really. Rolling over onto his back, he shoved a pillow under his head.
The rug was protection enough from the biting cold hardwood floorboards, and Harry wanted the cold to numb him. But just when he thought it would, just when the fire had simmered down to almost nothing, and just when he was knocking on the door of unconsciousness, his Floo came to life. Out stepped Pansy, looking like she did the very first night that he had seen her. Harry sat up slowly and tried to speak, but his head felt as if it had been injected with lead and his throat felt dry.
Still, he stared at her. Pristine black robes, heels, curious eyes, and a tentative smile – there she was.
Pansy looked around before she met his confused gaze. "You weren't at the Christmas ball."
There was so much that Harry wanted to say to her. He wanted to tell her that he hadn't been to one since that very first one. He wanted to ask her how she had gotten through the Floo. He wanted to say so much, but he couldn't say anything.
"I got your letter last week, and—"
"What are you doing here?" His question was asked harsh enough to make her cringe. Harry gave a frustrated sigh. "No, that came out wrong."
She was in rare form when she scrunched her nose up and said, "I…I think deserved that." Pansy looked down at her feet. "It has been fourteen months, after all."
He didn't want her to leave. "Pansy—"
"Stop talking, Potter, and listen," Pansy told him sternly. All that could be heard next was the wind howling outside. Harry watched as she primly sank to her knees before him and looked him in the eye. He watched as she struggled with herself for a few tense moments before her shoulders sagged in defeat. "I should have never left."