Title: Stalking Harry Potter 4/4
Author's Name: Empath Apathique
Note: Final installment, guys. Enjoy.
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"Monsieur Potter!"Alphonse exclaimed. "What good timing you have! I've been expecting you!"
Potter's eyes remained focused on Pansy's face, and her heart started back up immediately, its pounding increasing exponentially. Pansy could hear the warning bells in her head—telling her to look away from the bastard or her heart was going to beat right out of her goddamn chest—but she couldn't. Lucius Malfoy could have suddenly decided to grace them with his appearance in a tutu and ballet slippers and she still didn't think she'd be able to look away from Potter's eyes. And Lucius may have thought her the silliest girl in all of Britain, but she wasn't. Delusional maybe, but Pansy Parkinson had never been stupid.
Standing there in Reza Boutique, her shaking fingers barely touching the bejeweled surface of an exact replica of her mother's broken bracelet, things began piecing themselves together in her not-stupid head. And for some reason, she was scared.
Potter's eyes shifted to the counter—to the bracelet—before looking back at her, realization dawning as he stared into the frightened blue depths of her own.
"…are very late, sir!" Alphonse was saying. "I hope you did not run into trouble, Monsieur Potter!" There was a pause in which Alphonse expected a response. "Monsieur Potter? Is there something wrong?"
Potter finally looked away from Pansy's eyes, focusing on Alphonse. "No trouble, sir," he said, and Pansy had never heard him sound quite so distracted in all her life. "Forgive me. I was…" He glanced at Pansy again. "…caught up over lunch."
"Not matter, sir, no matter! It happens to us all." He laughed good-naturedly, stopping suddenly when a thought struck him. "Would you like some cheese, Monsieur?"
Potter looked startled by the question. "Not particularly, Monsieur Breton. I've just had lunch and—"
Alphonse cut him off before he could continue. "I will get you some cheese. Thérèse!" he shouted. "Bring some cheese for our guest!"
"Guest?!" Thérèse screeched from the other room. "Get that person out! We are closed!"
Potter looked very uncomfortable, and Pansy blushed, finding herself embarrassed by the antics of her surrogate aunt and uncle regardless of her age. They'd always been like this, completely unashamed of who witnessed their arguments. It didn't matter if it was the Minister of Magic or the President of freaking France; they'd curse and fight to their hearts content, onlookers be damned.
"You silly woman!" Alphonse yelled. "It is Monsieur Potter!"
"Monsieur Potter! The man who commissioned me to make the greatest piece of my entire existence three months ago! The Monsieur Potter!"
Pansy looked down at the bracelet, then at Potter's face. Three months… That would mean that he had the bracelet made around the time of the Order of Merlin ceremony—the last time she saw him, with Ginny Weasley.
"I don't care who he is!" Thérèse was shouting. "Pensée is here! We are closed!"
Alphonse cursed again. "Ma bichette," he said to Pansy as he made his way to the back room, "keep our valued customer entertained for a moment. I must speak to that woman!"
"But oncle—" Pansy protested, panic welling within her as she looked between Potter and Alphonse's retreating form. She was thoroughly ignored, Alphonse yelling something about cheese and the Monsieur as he disappeared through the swinging door.
Pansy swallowed, suddenly feeling very nervous to be left alone with Potter and this bracelet—her bracelet—and all it could possibly mean. She looked down at the glimmering piece, picking up the velvet box it was in. It shook in her hands, and it was then that she realized her knees were wobbling a bit as well. She sat back down in the chair with the finesse of a wounded water buffalo, cringing at the sound the seat cushion made as she plopped her weight onto it.
And it was so stupid, because Potter was standing right there and her bracelet was right here and all she could think about were water buffaloes and Hermione Granger and all that shit Granger had spewed at Pansy about fate and kismet and all of that. Because some things simply weren't supposed to happen. There just was no chance of it.
Potter was supposed to be in love with Ginny Weasley and about to settle down with her, not having expensive jewelry made for Pansy bloody Parkinson in the form of her dead mother's broken bracelet. And it had to be for her, because Potter wouldn't get this made for anyone else. Pansy was supposed to be at home, crying her eyes out at how unfair it all was and how stupid she had been to think she could possibly have a chance with Potter because hello, he was Harry fucking Potter. No one had a chance with him but girls like Ginny Weasley or Hermione Granger, because they were Gryffindors and good. But Potter couldn't have Granger, because the bint had been swept away by Draco Malfoy—which hadn't been supposed to happen either, because Draco was bad and should've become a Death Eater and should be dead now. So he was supposed to be going with his best mate's little sis, because she was the next best thing.
Harry Potter wasn't for stupid, Slytherin girls like Pansy Parkinson; the fact that he'd moved in with the Weasley girl had been the brick to the face that had finally shown Pansy this. He'd had his fling, and now he was done with her (and, really, that stupid fling wasn't supposed to happen either, because he was Harry Potter). And yeah, he was probably feeling bad right now for breaking her fragile female heart and all that rubbish, but he was supposed to be running off to his three o'clock appointment anyway, and then back home to his good Gryffindor girl in her good Gryffindor house with her good Gryffindor family—the family he'd never had.
He wasn't supposed to be standing here, in one of the only places Pansy was welcomed in the whole of Diagon Alley, picking up a bracelet that could only be for her and looking for the life of him like he was going to say something that would change both of their lives forever.
Kismet, Granger had said. Because some things just aren't meant to be.
Pansy shut her eyes, feeling the tears already begin to form. He shouldn't be here, he shouldn't have done this. He should be at his three o'clock appointment—probably discussing wedding plans with that nice witch Granger had conversed with at the Order of Merlin awards ceremony. And Pansy—she shouldn't be here, either. After she fled the restaurant, she should've gone to Brighton, to York—should've hurried home straight away, told her father to get his things and be in the process of making a formal request to the Ministry for a one-way portkey to Bangalore. But bloody kismet had gone and botched the whole thing up, and now here she was, sitting in Reza Boutique with a man who'd broken her heart not a half an hour ago, holding a bracelet that was screaming that he'd tried to do quite the opposite.
"You're really hard to talk to, you know."
Pansy jolted at the sound of his voice. It was soft, almost hesitant, and a little pained—the exact tone that she could never refuse.
She had the urge to slap her hands over her ears and shriek 'la, la, la!' at the top of her lungs so she wouldn't hear what he had to say.
"You've always been this way," he continued, tone still soft, pained. Pansy wondered why her hands where still gripping the velvet box and not covering her ears. "So sure of yourself and of exactly what everyone else is going to do and say that you're hardly willing to actually listen."
"I do listen," she countered weakly, eyes still tightly shut against her tears.
"You don't," he said.
"You don't speak, Potter."
"You won't let me."
Pansy was struck by how much closer his voice seemed now than it had before, and was startled when she felt his hands against her trouser-covered thighs.
"Look at me," he said. His voice was low, throaty; he sounded so close to her now, hands that had grabbed her arms in an effort to get her to stay now gently gripping her legs. All she could think was that she hadn't been this close to Potter in months. She hadn't expected to be ever again, either. Oh, how things had changed over the past half-hour!
"Pansy," he said gently.
Slowly, she opened her teary eyes to comply with his request. He was kneeling at her feet, hands on her thighs as he situated himself just barely between her legs, green eyes looking into her baby blues expectantly.
"I love you," he said.
She closed her eyes again. It didn't stop the tears.
"Don't cry," he told her, his arms coming to wrap around her waist as his hands rested on the small of her back, holding her. "Please don't cry."
She shook head, a miserable sob escaping her lips. "I don't want to," she said, opening her eyes to look at him. He looked torn, both disturbed by her tears and amused by her response. She wanted to hit him.
"Forgive me if there isn't a button to turn them off, Potter." She lifted one of her hands to wipe at her eyes.
"I hate it when you cry, Pansy," he said, raising one of his own hands to rest on her wet cheek. Feeling the heat of his hand on her skin made the tears come even faster, and Pansy shut her eyes again, mentally bemoaning how utterly unfair it was. Whenever she'd imagined a man telling her that he loved her, she'd imagined herself being cool and together, hair perfectly coiffed and face made up to perfection, a dazzling smile on her lips as she proclaimed she was simply a lovable kind of gal. She didn't think that she'd look like this: face red and blotched with tears streaming down her cheeks; and—she noted in horror—snot most assuredly dripping from her nose.
And Merlin, who got snot when they cried at a time like this? Girls weren't supposed to have snot. It was right up there with 'flatulence' on the list of Things Girls Do Not Do: drip snot when they cry.
Granger hadn't even had snot. Pansy had heard all about the 'I-love-you' incident in she and Draco's relationship from both parties, and while Granger had heartedly cried her eyes out after he'd said it—in horror, because Merlin knew they'd never be able to pretend it was nothing after that--they'd never mentioned snot in their story. And it was a funny story, and Draco liked telling funny stories, and certainly would've had the time of his life relaying how there'd been snot as well.
Bloody hell, it wasn't fair at all!
Oddly, she wondered if Ginny Weasley had cried when Potter told her that he loved her, and, if she had, if she'd had snot, too. Which, of course, made Pansy wonder if Potter had ever told Ginny Weasley that he loved her, to which she immediately answered in the affirmative, because Potter simply was that kind of guy. God, you saw how easily he'd said it to her, right? It'd taken Pansy months to even admit that she'd liked the man, and she'd prepped herself an entire week straight before she'd planned to tell him at the awards ceremony. Obviously, the attempt had fallen through when she'd seen him with Ginny Weasley, but still. And oh, God, what did he mean he loved her? Did that mean he loved just her, or that he loved her too, in addition to loving his girl?
She could feel Potter's rising distress emanating from him in waves, and she couldn't find it in herself to tell him to chill. She certainly wasn't okay; why should he have the luxury of being utterly at ease when she was freaking out—with snot? No, Harry Potter could be as distressed as he wanted to be right now. She needed to cry. If he was still upset when she was finished, then maybe she could tell him to chill. Maybe.
Oh Merlin, what was she thinking about now?
"Pansy," Potter was saying. "Pansy, please. You know I hate it when you—"
"Oh, shove off, Potter!" she said, pulling away from his hand and covering her face with her hands. If she had snot coming from her nose she certainly didn't want him to touch it. It was almost as gross as his irregular underwear from the second-hand robe store. Sweet Circe, she was going to the side girl of someone who wore irregular underwear. "How do you think I feel?" she asked him angrily, her voice muffled from behind her hands.
It was a loaded question, she knew, but at that moment, she felt she had the right to ask such things of him. After all, he'd just told her he loved her in addition to loving Ginny Weasley. And she was so much better than that. Ginny Weasley couldn't even wear pink, for Merlin's sake! She was a redhead—pink made her look ill. Did Potter know how luscious Pansy looked in pink—how completely electric and cool?
But maybe Potter hated pink. Maybe he just liked red—as in, red hair. Pansy could never pull off red hair. She was too pale.
Oh, this so wasn't fair.
Potter, who'd been quiet for a moment, suddenly said, "I don't know how you feel." He paused again. "Not right now."
Pansy found it in her to stop crying in her hands and bemoaning her shoddy lot in life—because Merlin, who got snot?—to look at the man, finding him staring down at her legs. Which was a weird place to stare, because she didn't even have on a skirt and he wasn't ogling anything but her charcoal grey trousers. Maybe he was trying to pull off that 'I'm-looking-down-because-I'm-demure-and-confused' thing she tried her hand at from time to time. But that was a girl thing and Potter was a guy, so that was a no. But he was kneeling at her feet, so she supposed the only place he could look down to was her legs, despite her lack of a skirt.
God, she thought about weird shit when she was stressed.
But Potter was talking.
"…suppose I do, because you did say that you loved me in the café—or that you were going to tell me that you loved me, but does that mean you don't love me now? I mean, you're crying and stuff, which has to mean something, but you've cried over silly things like a botched batch of soap at Malfoy Manor. But then you ran away and now you're crying and—"
"Sweet Merlin, Potter," Pansy said seriously. "What are you talking about?"
"How you're feeling," he said, a bit miffed that she'd cut him off.
"You're babbling," she told him. "Please rephrase for clarity."
He rolled his eyes and huffed, rolling back on his heels and crossing his arms against his chest. "You're crying," he said simply.
"I am." She sniffled for good measure.
"Is it because I told you that I love you?"
Pansy looked down at her lap, where the new bracelet had fallen when she'd pressed her hands against her face. She picked it up, running her fingers over the sparkling exterior with fingers wet from her tears. And snot, she realized. She grimaced, removing her fingers from the bracelet's surface.
She shook her head, smiling sadly as she studied a bracelet that was an exact reproduction of the one she'd worn for nearly all of her teenage years. "It's just a bit much to process, is all," she said. "There was lunch, which was… painful."
He placed a hand on her thigh once again, rubbing her leg in what Pansy assumed he thought was a soothing gesture. She could think of it as nothing but vaguely sexual, and she swatted at his hand to make him stop. She didn't need any distractions. Especially not the lure of sex. Meh.
"But," she continued, pushing thoughts of the possibility of sex out of her mind. "There's now too: you being in love with me and this bracelet." She smiled at him, her lips lowering when she thought of his girlfriend. "And then there's Ginny Weasley."
Potter shook his head. "Ginny doesn't matter," he said insistently.
"She has to matter, Potter," she told him. Her voice was soft but firm, and she found that she couldn't look at him while she spoke of her. "She loves you, Potter. I know she does."
"Why does that matter?" he asked her. "I love you."
Her heart sped up to hear him say it so forcefully, however she pushed the squee that was welling in her away. She needed to say this.
"Pansy," he was repeating. "I love you—"
"But she's your girlfriend, Potter."
He stopped suddenly. "My what?"
Pansy glowered at him. Why was he so stupid? "Your girlfriend," she said. "As in, the girl you're dating and may possibly marry. The woman you're living with. Merlin, Potter, don't be thick."
He looked at her as if she'd grown an extra head. "Are you serious?"
"Are you?" she countered. "I hardly think establishing your relationship status requires this amount of effort."
She threw her hands in the air in frustration. "Not this again, Potter…"
"I broke up with Ginny three months ago!"
For the billionth time that afternoon, Pansy's heart skidded to a halt. It stopped and didn't restart. It just stood there, still, leaning straight through her ribcage to look into her eyes, as if to say, 'what now?'
And, well. Pansy didn't quite know what to say, either.
"You… what?" she mumbled dumbly.
"I broke up with her!" he repeated, glaring at her angrily. "I can't believe you!"
"You broke up?" Something akin to glee was building inside of her, causing her heartbeat to quicken something fierce. "Really?"
"Of course I did!" he told her. "What was I supposed to do—date you both?" It seemed to dawn on him then that that was exactly what she'd been thinking. He stared at her, incredulous. "You can't be serious, Pansy!" he said. He removed his hand from her leg, rising to his feet with a swiftness that startled her. "Are you mad?"
Pansy frowned, not at all pleased with his attitude. "What was I supposed to think?" she asked him, watching as he paced back and forth before her, anger practically oozing from his pores.
"That I want to be with you—only you!"
"Well, it isn't as if you did a very good job giving off that impression," she rejoined. "Today's the first time I've seen you in months!"
"I took you to lunch!"
"Seamus Finnegan takes me to lunch!"
He stopped then, turning to look at her. "You're dating Seamus?"
She rolled her eyes. "No," she said, "he takes me to lunch. That's it."
He didn't look appeased. "Why?" he demanded.
"Because he wants to," she said. "He thinks I'm hot and that feeding me will make me throw my supposedly lax morals to the wind and shag him silly."
He nearly choked. "You're shagging him?!"
Pansy threw her hands in the air in exasperation. "Are you listening to me?" she asked him. "He takes me to lunch! He asks me every so often and I say yes. We eat. He takes me home. That's it."
He huffed, though appeared mollified by her response.
And Pansy—because she was Pansy—just had to go and muck it up.
"Even if I wanted to date him," she said haughtily, "I very well could. It isn't like I have anyone else."
He looked aghast. "I thought you said you loved me!"
"What does that matter if you don't love me?"
"I do love you!" he shouted. "I just said I love you!"
"Well, I certainly didn't know that then! Besides," she said, "I thought you had a girlfriend. Wait—I always knew you had a girlfriend. I played the role of your other woman through the war. I simply thought that you were waiting until everything in the bloody world wasn't quite so… bloody to break up with her. But, silly me, you were only looking for some momentary dalliance to occupy yourself with before you went back to your main girl." She glared at him. "Watching the two of you at the awards ceremony showed me that quite clearly."
He looked at her then. He wasn't glaring at her or anything—just looking. "You know," he said, "you go on and on about the Order of Merlin ceremony as if it only changed your world—"
"It did," she insisted.
"There's more to life than just you, Pansy!"
"Yes, well, forgive me if I'm only concerned with what I feel is the most important part. The other part I felt was important had his girlfriend on him like a bad rash, and I simply couldn't find it in me to—"
"I saw you."
Pansy stopped. "What?"
"At the ceremony," he said. He sounded strangely subdued, and as she looked at him, just standing there, perfectly still as he stared straight into her eyes with those haunting green orbs, she was struck by how important this moment seemed. "You wore black, right?"
Pansy nodded dumbly.
"It was tight, a little racy. All I could think when I saw you was that you wanted someone's attention, and I prayed to Merlin that it was mine."
"I did," she whispered.
Potter looked away. "I'd planned to only speak with Draco for a moment. One moment, I'd told myself. Then I'd go to you. But you know how that man can be, and before I knew it, we were arguing about the Falcons."
Pansy let out a dry, bitter laugh. "I was forgotten over Quidditch," she said. "Lovely."
"Just listen to me!" he snapped. "For once—please—just listen." Pansy nodded and Potter sighed, continuing with his tale. "I could swear that Draco and I had only been talking for a moment, but then Ginny was there. And she's kind of always been there, and it's alwaysbeen natural to touch her and—"
Pansy shook her head, almost as if she was trying to clear the image from her mind. "I don't want to hear this," she said.
"I know," he said. "But listen. She was there and I hugged her. Things have been on the rocks with us for years, and I still hugged her."
"Because she's always been there?" she repeated resentfully. She was being unfair; she knew she was being unfair. It just hurt, you know? He was talking about the first time he'd broken her heart as causally as the weather, and the thing was, it probably meant that little to him. Because Ginny Weasley had always been there, and responding to her touch had probably become as natural to the man as not brushing his hair. They'd dated for five years.
"I'm sorry," he said softly. "By the time I turned around, you were already gone. I went after you, but you were gone, and I'm sorry. I hadn't meant for you to see that. I'm sorry."
Pansy nodded very slowly, wondering if she was truly forgiving him for what she'd seen. 'I'm sorry' always seemed so empty to her before—so weak. Could a broken heart honestly be mended with merely two words out of the entirety of the English language?
But if two words couldn't do it, then how many would? No words would ever be enough to apologize for the offense, and it was stupid of her to hope for more, because she wouldn't get them. It wasn't reasonable.
"Why didn't you go after me?" she asked quietly. "I know you know where I live."
Potter sighed, running a hand through his messy hair. "I wanted to make things right first," he said.
Her brows furrowed in confusion. "What do you mean?"
"I didn't think it'd mean much," he said, sighing in frustration at her continued confusion. "I mean, imagine it: me showing up at your door after you just saw me with Ginny. What could I say that would make it better? What would 'I love you' mean then? Technically, I was still with Ginny, and I figured I'd do better to come to you when I'd freed myself of all my attachments and could offer what I thought you wanted."
And he had a point. She would've skewered him if he'd come after her that night. For some reason, though, she still wished he had.
"I broke up with Ginny that night. I placed the order for the bracelet the very next day."
Pansy looked down at the aforementioned piece, slowly nodding her head in understanding. "Because you broke it," she said.
"Yes, and I'd promised that I wouldn't. I don't know if it's perfect, but I wanted to make things right—as right as I could."
She looked up at him, and hell, her eyes were teary again. "It's perfect," she said.
Potter smiled then, and she could see the tension begin to drain from his shoulders. "I'm glad."
Pansy looked down, a blush staining her cheeks—which, she noted, he probably couldn't see because her cheeks were blotchy from all the crying she'd done earlier. And what had been the point of it all anyway, if he loved her and had pushed Girl Weasley off a cliff to be with her? A thought struck her suddenly. "Why are you living with Ginny Weasley?"
"I'm not living with her," he said, and she frowned when she caught the guilt lilt to his tone. "I'm staying in the same house."
"Draco stays in the same house with Granger," she snapped. "You're living with her."
"I didn't have a choice!"
"Oh, come off it, Potter," she said, looking at him angrily. "Did Ginny make you move in?"
"No, but her mother did."
Pansy wasn't personally acquainted with the Weasley matriarch, but she'd been told from multiple sources that the woman could be hella nasty when she wanted to be, and had a way of getting people to do just what she wanted them to with her rotten temper. Pansy looked at Potter expectantly. "I'm waiting," she said.
He sighed. "I was homeless."
"I forgot to renew my lease." Pansy blinked, and he continued. "I was supposed to renew it a few months ago if I wanted to keep my flat, and the owner really did remind me repeatedly, but without Hermione beating something into my face…" He sighed again. "I forgot."
She blinked. "You forgot?"
He nodded. "I did."
"Bollocks, Potter. No one is that—" She spied the sheepish expression on his face, and shook her head in exasperation. "You forgot."
"By the time I realized what had happened, I only had a few days before I had to move." He sighed. "I don't know many people I'm close enough to stay with. Ron lives at home and Hermione's living with Draco. And I certainly didn't want to intrude on those two. I'd gone to ask you but—"
"Wait," Pansy said. "You were going to ask to stay with me?"
Potter blushed a furious shade of red and looked down at his shoes. "Well, you've got all that room in that beach house you're staying in…"
Pansy shook her head in disbelief. "You're joking."
"I came by three times," he said. He looked annoyed then. "You're never home."
She shrugged. "I like to keep busy. I find myself thinking about you if I don't."
He rolled his eyes. "Yes, well, if you'd spent more time thinking about me, I might be staying in one of your spare rooms and not sleeping in the smelly bed of one of the twins."
Pansy snorted. "Who says I'd have let you stay?"
Potter looked horrified. "You love me, don't you?"
"There, there," she said, placating. "Don't get your knickers in a twist."
He sighed in relief, then leveled her with an accusing look. "You're so mean, Pansy."
"So says the adulterer." Potter scowled, and Pansy waved her hand for him to continue. "You've yet to explain how you ended up staying with Ginny Weasley."
"I'm not staying with Ginny!" he nearly shouted. "I was invited over by Ron."
Pansy's eyes narrowed in skepticism. "You said Molly Weasley made you."
"She did—after I was invited over to dinner by Ron. You know he still lives at home, and when he found out I was planning to stay at The Leaky Cauldron, he invited me over. It was only supposed to be supper—I swear—and Merlin knows the meal was awkward as fuck—" Pansy's brows rose at the expletive. "—because Ginny still lives there too and she spent the entire time looking at me with those sad eyes and I could hardly eat at all. All the while Molly kept making comments about what Ginny was up to and who she was seeing—undoubtedly trying to make me jealous, because the woman absolutely flipped when she found out I'd broken up with her, and has been blatantly trying to get us back together ever since. I'd actually looked forward to getting out of there and spending my evening in The Leaky Cauldron. I'd wanted to get away from her."
He was breathing a little heavy by the time he finished, and Pansy's had to fight to keep a smile in check. Oh, how she loved a good rant against a Weasley. She was so in love with this man. "Sounds like you had quite the meal," she said lightly. "However, you still haven't explained why you're living there."
"I told you already—she made me. Ron let it slip that I'd lost my flat and was staying at the Leaky, and Molly completely flipped again. Said there was no need for me to have to pay to sleep in a strange bed when there were more than enough free ones there. And that woman does not take 'no' for an answer."
Pansy smiled tightly. "I've heard."
"I didn't want to stay. I knew what you'd think, and I didn't want you to think that, but you did anyway and I realize it was stupid and I'm sorry. I've been looking for a flat since I moved in, but I know that doesn't make up for it. I'm sorry. Again and again, a thousand times over: Pansy, I'm sorry."
Pansy was struck by the unabashed emotion in his words, the way she could feel how much he completely felt what he was saying exuding from his very form. He was sorry. And, huh, she thought. She believed him.
"You came that Sunday to tell me," she said slowly.
"Right. But, once again, you weren't home. And I figured that I'd just tell you everything when I gave you that." He pointed to the bracelet. "Monsieur Breton had said it would take three months to make, and he notified me of its completion yesterday at work." He paused. "I was going to come see you today. I was shocked when I saw you in the second-hand robe store. I thought I could talk to you about everything then—that we could pick up the bracelet together."
"You were very optimistic," she said after a moment.
"I was," he agreed. "Foolishly so."
She smiled. "Of course."
"Do you understand?" he asked her, almost desperate. "I'm not living with her. Not like that."
Pansy nodded, swallowing as she digested his words. It was a lot to take in, though she couldn't deny how utterly entertaining it was, how animated Potter was when he told a story. Merlin, nothing could ever be simple with the man, and she marveled at how he'd gotten himself into such a complicated situation with the Weasleys and herself. Speaking of complicated—
"One more thing, Potter," she said.
He sighed in frustration. "What do I have to explain now?"
Pansy looked at him sourly. "Don't you get snippy with me. It's hardly my fault you get yourself into such messy situations."
He rolled his eyes. "What do you want to know?" he asked.
"When I asked you how things were with the future Mrs. Potter—"
He groaned. "Not this again, Pansy…"
"Yes, this again," she said, sounding just as snippy as she accused him of being. "You said things were complicated. And I know you and Girl Weasley have just broken up and things are messy, but—"
He shook his head in exasperation. "Don't be silly," he told her. "I was talking about you."
Pansy jolted, started. "Me?"
He nodded. "Who else?" he asked, smiling.
Pansy looked back down at the bracelet, finding that she was too much of a pussy to continue to stare at Potter's face. Her hands were shaking again, and she realized that this moment was the end to all the drama they'd had over Ginny Weasley. There was nothing else to be explained or apologized for. There was only them—the them she hadn't thought would exist not so long ago. And that was a reason for her hands to shake in and of itself: there was a them, as in, a Pansy and Potter them. A 'yes, we're seeing each other' them. If she wasn't already been sitting down, Pansy would certainly ask for a chair.
"Here," Potter said, gently tugging the velvet box from her hands. She released it mechanically, watching as he removed the gleaming bracelet from the clasps that held it in place. "May I?" he asked, a boyish grin on his lips. Pansy lifted her hand, her heart thumping wildly when his fingers wrapped around her own and he fastened the bracelet around her wrist. The once-familiar weight of the piece now felt foreign after its long absence. However, it was comforting, and in a wholly different way than the original had been. Instead of just having her mother with her, she had a piece of Potter as well, and Pansy found it to be a fabulous combination.
"Looks good," he said, fingers still enclosed around hers and he inspected the bracelet appearance on her wrist. "Just like the old one."
She shook her head. "It's better," she corrected. "Potter—"
"Harry," he told her. "Please, call me 'Harry'."
Pansy rolled her eyes. "Fine. Harry—"
He pulled her up from her seat and into his arms then, an arm wrapping snuggly around her waist as the he laced the fingers of his other hand with her own. Pansy startled at their sudden nearness. Her body was pressed against his and she would swear she could feel his heart beat against her chest, so close and steady that she couldn't tell it apart from her own. His warm breath blew against her bangs. She was level with his Adam's apple and sweet Circe, maybe Pansy was weird, but she thought Potter's Adam's apple was the sexiest thing since Blaise's tush. To her, an Adam's apple was a sign of masculinity, and the more one protruded, the hotter Pansy thought they were. Potter's had to be the most gorgeous one she'd seen yet, and she was struck with the urge to kiss it. He swallowed and, being so close, the action nearly made Pansy swoon. Forget kissing it; she'd stick her whole goddamn tongue down his throat and see if it was as sweet as it looked.
"Harry," he said again. "Harry."
Pansy wasn't sure if he was aware that he'd just dazzled her with his Adam's apple—he looked a little smug—but she nodded anyway, not finding it in her to argue. "Harry."
He grinned. "Good." He leaned forward, and his lips slowly came closer to hers. "I'm going to kiss you now, Pansy," he murmured.
She didn't bother to respond.
He kissed her, and Pansy's heart did its own rendition of the 'Cha Cha Slide' up and down her ribcage. It'd been so long since she'd felt his lips against her own, and it was amazing how nothing about them had changed. His kisses were still soft and slow, steadily building up to match the raging need that burned within both of their hearts. He kissed her as if he'd never kissed anyone and would never kiss anyone again, as if her lips were the feast he'd always craved and would be denied forever more as soon as they broke away. He kissed her like he'd die if he didn't, like the world would stop spinning and the sun would burn out. He kissed her like she was dying and his lips were the only thing that would keep her alive, and Merlin knew the man had a hero complex the size of Jupiter. He'd kiss her until he died, and would follow her to wherever just so they could continue to kiss.
He kissed her like he loved her, and Pansy realized now that he'd always kissed her like he loved her. Nothing had changed at all.
She pulled away, looking into his face with eyes once again full with tears. "Oh, Harry," she whimpered, and he hugged her then, lifting her straight off her feet as she wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her face into his skin, clinging to him for all she was worth.
"I love you," he said, burying a hand in her hair as he embraced her fiercely. Pansy nodded against his neck, feeling her tears drip down her cheeks and onto his skin as she whispered back the sentiment repeatedly.
"I won't stop," he told her, his arms tightening around her lithe form. "Not with you. I can't, Pansy, I can't."
She pulled back to look at him, her hands coming to rest on her cheeks as she kissed him. "Don't even think about," she said.
He smiled. There was a noise from the other end of the shop, and the pair turned to see Alphonse and Therese peeking through the swinging door. The older couple was so caught up in a petty squabble that they hardly noticed they'd been caught spying.
"We should get out of here," Potter—Harry; Harry—said, placing her back down on her feet. He wholeheartedly refused to remove his hands from her form. He looked up at the clock. "I'm a little late for my appointment, but I'm sure they'll have me."
"What appointment?" she asked, staring at him curiously.
"I'm looking for a flat," he said. "I told you I've been looking. Work has slowed the search quite a bit, but I think I'll like this one. It's in Hyde Park, near—"
Pansy leaned forward on his toes and pressed a kiss to his lips, effectively shutting him up. "You don't need to look for a flat, love," she said.
His brows furrowed in confusion. "I can't stay at the Burrow. I don't think Molly would fancy me bringing you over for a snog in the sitting room after dinner."
Pansy hid a smile. "Don't be stupid, Potter," she said. "As if I'd ever visit that woman's home."
"Pansy…" he chided.
She blinked at him innocently. "What? I'm simply saying there's no need for me to make a visit to the Weasleys."
"Really?" he said dryly.
She nodded once. "Yes."
"And how have you got this worked out in that conniving little head of yours?"
Pansy frowned. "I resent the implication that my head is anything but pretty, Mr. Potter."
"Of course you do."
He grinned, be it at her huffiness or that she'd used his name. He pulled her close to him again, placing a light kiss at the top of her head. "Sorry, love."
Pansy rolled her eyes. "As I was saying, I refuse to visit the Weasleys. Flat-hunting is really such a bother, and considering you fancy me the future Mrs. Potter anyway—" She huffed, as if what she was saying was such a chore. "—you'll stay with me, in Brighton."
Harry's eyes lit up at her words. "You want me to move in with you?" he asked seriously.
"Why wouldn't I?" she said. "I certainly don't want you to live there."
"When I told you I was going to ask if I could move in with you, it was only going to be temporary…"
Pansy frowned. "Well, if you'd like the move to be temporary until you find your own flat, then by all means, don't make yourself comfortable at the home I'm offering you free room and board to stay in and find your own shit hole."
"It's fine. I mean, if you want constant access to my body, all you had to do was say so."
Pansy snorted. "Sweet Merlin, Potter, stop trying to be funny. Your jokes kill my soul."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah." He looked at the clock again. "Let's go."
"I thought we settled the mess about the appointment," she said, annoyed.
Harry shook his head. "Molly will be out running errands for the next hour, and I want to pack up my stuff and get out of there before she comes home."
Pansy smirked. "Why ever would you want to do that?" she asked. "Seeing the look on her face will be half the fun!"
Harry led her out of the store, his hand firmly pressed against the small of her back as the two argued about the merits of not pissing Molly Weasley off. They completely forgot about the French couple who was watching from the swinging door, smiling to each other as if it were a job well done.
"You see, mon ami," Alphonse told his wife, taking her hand and bringing it to his lips. "The bracelet—it was magic!"
Therese giggled girlishly, blushing at her husbands attentions. "It was, Alphonse, it was. Though," she said thoughtfully, "I wish I could've fed them some cheese!"
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