Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

A Marriage of Inconvenience
By Silver Sailor Ganymede

Theodore Nott is five years old when he first meets his cousin Pansy. Now they are considered old enough to mingle with other people rather than being kept in the nursery with house elves.

It takes Theodore less than five minutes to decide that he would rather be back with the house elves than stuck in the company of other people. His father appears to be thinking exactly the same thing, as he is drinking glass after glass of the wine that Damocles Parkinson has left out on the table. Mr Parkinson himself, however, seems to delight in his guests' company, which strikes Theodore as most peculiar. Theodore had thought that all men were like his father, more at home with alcoholic drinks and dry books than conversation.

Pansy Parkinson, who is the same age as Theodore, is sitting next to her mother. She has her father's black hair and her mother's black eyes and is sitting there in the ugliest set of robes Theodore has ever seen in his life. They are bright pink and don't suit her at all – and they serve to make her mother, who is already sickly pale, look even more ill.

Pansy Parkinson's mother's name is Rose. Theodore doesn't think he's ever seen anyone who looks less like a Rose – but his mother did explain that the woman is very ill, so he supposes that explains her total lack of colour.

Pansy smiles at Theodore, who tries to force himself to smile back. It evidently comes out as a glare instead because Pansy flushes, clashing even more horribly with her hideous pink robes, and buries her face in her mother's bony shoulder.

"Our children will be very good friends, Dionysus," Damocles Parkinson says jovially, slapping Theodore's father on the back. This doesn't earn him a smile in return but a glare; his father has just lost half his glass of wine and evidently is none to too pleased about it.

Theodore is happy when he is allowed to leave society and return to the nursery and the company of the house elves. He is five years old when he decides that he doesn't like people at all.

Rose Parkinson dies with her daughter is seven, the long illness she has been battling taking her life away. Theodore and his parents go to pay their respects, of course. Their families have been close for centuries, it would be wrong for them not to go.

Theodore's mother is distraught. Despite being rather older than Pansy's mother, the women have been close friends for a number of years. Theodore has never seen anyone sob like that before. Dionysus Nott evidently hasn't either, as he looks more than a little disgusted by his wife's unseemly display of emotion.

It's good for one's image to shed a few tears at a funeral, but not to cause a scene by becoming hysterical. Even Theodore knows that and he has never been to a funeral before.

Rose Parkinson is dead at a mere twenty-three years of age. She looks far more alive in death than she ever did whilst living. Her hair and eyes shine brightly, her colourless lips painted pink and twisted into a dreamy smile. It looks unreal; she hadn't looked so alive in years, if ever.

Pansy is crying, clinging onto her father's hand and staring at her mother's body, not believing what she's seeing. She probably doesn't quite understand it; her Mama was ill but not that ill, surely?

Theodore can't help but think that black robes suit Pansy far better than the hideous pink ones she usually insists on wearing.

They meet again at another funeral two years later. This time it is Theodore's mother who is gone. His father is staggering round in a drunken stupor but has yet to shed a single tear. Theodore is glad; his father has no right to cry, not now.

Theodore sits himself in a corner and watches the people dance around the manor's ballroom. There are still cobwebs in the corners; the house has been ruined by the passing of time, even the house elves can't get rid of the dust and decay. That and the fact that they have just returned from a funeral make the gathering of laughing, joking, living people seem completely incongruous. Theodore has never seen the house come so alive.

Pansy Parkinson sits herself down in a chair next to Theodore. She is only nine but wears a face full of makeup, making her look like a girl who has been playing dress up with her mother's powders and perfumes. The makeup looks rotten. It was probably covered in dust and cobwebs when she found it.

Theodore thinks again that she looks better in black robes than in pink ones.

"I'm sorry, Theodore," Pansy says at last.

"I don't care."

Pansy glares at him as if wondering how he could possibly be so rude. "I understand, you know. If anyone understands what you're going through, it's me."

Theodore shrugs in reply. "No, you don't."

"Why are you being so cold?" she asks.

Pansy doesn't need to know that Theodore saw his father kill his mother. No one needs to know about that.

Less than a month later, Theodore's father springs a surprise on him that he never would have expected.

"Tiresome though she may be, you ought to be at least civil to the Parkinson girl," he sighs.

"Why?" Theodore asks.

"Because you're going to get married when you've finished school, that's why," comes the sharp reply.

Had Theodore not known that his father doesn't hold with such silly things as imagination, he would think that he is lying.

"You have to keep the bloodline pure," Dionysus explains. "Your mother and Pansy's father are first cousins, so we know for a fact that there's no blemish in the line."

"But I don't want to marry Pansy," Theodore mutters. "I don't like her at all."

"Good. It's never good for one to become attached to one's wife," Dionysus Nott grunts. "Had I been too close to your mother then she probably would have driven me mad."

Theodore very much doubts that his father was still sane when he murdered his mother. His father lost his mind a long time ago.

Theodore and Pansy are both Slytherins, as expected, but they hardly have occasion to talk to one another. Pansy associates more with Daphne Greengrass and the two of them follow Draco Malfoy around a lot, swooning over every other thing the ferrety boy does.

Theodore, on the other hand, will speak to Blaise Zabini on occasion but generally keeps to himself. He can see no reason to have to get involved with the idiotic games that his contemporaries seem inclined to play. They bore him.

No one would guess that he and Pansy are supposed to marry each other as soon as they finish their time at school. Even to suggest it would seem absurd.

"You forget that we're supposed to be getting married in a little over three years' time."

Pansy glares at Theodore.

"Why are you talking to me, Theodore?"

"Unfortunately we're bound to marry each other," Theodore explained.

"Why are you bringing this up now?"

"Why are you sleeping with Malfoy?"

Pansy flushes scarlet and looks at him, astonished.

"I… I don't know what you mean."

"You're a terrible liar," Theodore replies. "And I'm more than a little tempted to call of this whole ridiculous affair and get my father to nullify the marriage agreement out families have drawn up."

"You can't tell my father!" Pansy shouts. She looks genuinely panicked. Theodore can't help but feel rather amused by the situation. "Please, Theodore. Everyone knows we're meant to get married in the future. We have to make it look like we still are or I'll end up disowned!"

"Oh we'll keep up appearances, Pansy dearest," Theodore hisses. "But just remember that in reality I want nothing to do with you. I have no use for a woman whose already been had by someone else."

The evening is warm. They are at a party at the Macmillans and he is stuck with Pansy. It's imperative to make sure that everyone thinks everything is fine between them; he has to maintain the connection between their families even if he despises her.

Draco is walking with Astoria Greengrass. They are laughing. Astoria grabs hold of Draco's arm to stop herself falling. He puts his arm around her waist.

Pansy glares up at them jealously and gets up to walk towards them, but Theodore grabs hold of her wrist and stops her before she can cause a scene. She's the one who wants to uphold the illusion that society expects from them in order to stay out of trouble with her father. Theodore doesn't care, but no matter what he thinks of the girl, he doesn't want his own reputation damaged by her.

"They think you're mine, remember," Theodore whispers in her ear.

Pansy glares at him and doesn't move. There are tears in her eyes.

Tracey Davis is beautiful. Theodore wonders how he could have failed to notice this before. She is beautiful, she is intelligent, so is amusing. She is everything one would want in a wife. She is everything Pansy Parkinson is not.

Tracey is Theodore's by the time the fifth year is over. It doesn't matter that she's only a half-blood. No one needs to find out about them. In fact making sure that no one knows is part of the fun.

If Pansy can play this game then so can he.

"Malfoy is a Death Eater."

Pansy glares at Theodore. "How do you know that?"

"Practically everyone in the whole school heard him boasting on the train," Theodore replies. "Luckily he's so full of stupid stories that most people don't believe him, but it's not good."

"What's it to you anyway?"

"Finish the whole affair with Malfoy before anyone finds out about it. For you to have been involved with a Death Eater won't do anything good for either of our reputations," Theodore says coldly.

"No," Pansy replies.

"Davis, really? Tracey Davis?"

Theodore sneers at Pansy. "Oh, I see you finally know then."

"Davis?" Pansy shrieks again. "Of all the girls in the school, why do you have to get yourself involved with Davis?"

"Why are you involved with Malfoy?" Theodore shoots back.

"Because I love him, Theodore. This isn't some stupid little game."

"Actually that's exactly what you're treating it like, Pansy," Theodore says coldly.

"But I love Draco," Pansy whines. "And I know you don't love Davis. You don't love anyone. You don't have a heart."

"If that's the case then just tell your father about Draco then," Theodore replies. "I don't see why he'd disown you for it. Malfoy's a pureblood."

"Blood feud," Pansy says. "Going back five hundred years. My father would rather die than see me married to a Malfoy. Just like yours would rather kill you than see you married to a half-blood."

For once in her life, Pansy Parkinson is actually right about something.

"I'm pregnant."

Theodore sighs. "And your point is? It's evidently not mine."

"I know that," Pansy howls, "But what am I going to do about it?"

Theodore shrugs. "Well you're going to have to tell your father about Malfoy now, seeing as it's obviously his child."

"I can't do that."

"Yes you can."

"No, I can't," Pansy says tersely. "He's left me. We'll just ask our fathers to bring forward the date of our wedding."

"I'm not raising Malfoy's child."

Pansy looks distraught. "But Theodore, we have to. We have to keep our reputa…"

"I am not raising Malfoy's child," Theodore replies icily. "Reputation be damned. I'm sick of society's games and I'm sick of you."

He is going to live his life for himself from now on. He'd rather suffer his father's wrath than be stuck with poor, pitiful Pansy Parkinson for the rest of his life.

Dionysus Nott doesn't live to find out that his son has broken off his arranged marriage to Pansy Parkinson. He doesn't live to find out that the girl who should have been his son's fiancée is in disgrace with the illegitimate child of a boy who won't even acknowledge her existence anymore. He doesn't live to find out that his only son and heir has polluted the family line by marrying a half-blood.

It's never good for one to become attached to one's wife. That's what his father had claimed all those years ago. Yet when Theodore looks at Tracey, he can't help but think that his father was wrong about this, just like he was wrong about so many other things. Tracey is beautiful, intelligent and her family, despite being called bloodtraitors by some, are one of the most influential lines remaining in the aftermath of the war.

Sometimes Theodore can't help but think of Pansy, the girl that should have been his wife but who is now ruined, hidden away in disgrace with a bastard son whom society won't acknowledge and no chance of ever securing a decent marriage. Theodore is glad that his father is dead and he was therefore able to escape being tied to Pansy for all eternity; had he been forced into the marriage, forced to live with her, forced to raise Draco Malfoy's child as his own, then he would have ended up just like his father – reclusive and drunken and responsible for his spouse's murder.

Unlike his father, Theodore has married of his own free will; unlike his father, Theodore will never lose the remnants of his sanity. Theodore has Tracey, Theodore's life is perfect, and Pansy Parkinson has nothing left at all. His father is dead, Pansy is gone and Theodore has never been happier.