Disclaimer: The world and characters belong to J.K. Rowling.
Written for the One Word challenge on HPFC. My word was "Dance".
EWE- Ginny and Harry dated for a year before a cordial split. Ron and Hermione are engaged.
Please review!

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."

-Kurt Vonnegut

-:-

Once upon a time, there was a princess.

The princess was perfect. She had smooth dark hair, a pink satin gown, and the purest of blood, everything important in the eyes of the people who mattered. She went to parties and balls and any event that was anything, and she was watched and envied, and she had it all.

But if there's one lesson the world loves to teach, it's that nothing lasts forever, and happiness especially.

And a princess can fall from grace with a single step- or a single shout in a crowded room.

-:-

She has to be here, Pansy reminds herself. Someone needs to get publicity for the store, and Daphne flatly refused.

She keeps her head level as she walks into the ballroom, avoiding the eyes of the people who matter (oh, how the mighty fall). Draco's not here tonight, and maybe that's for the best.

Oh, Merlin, Granger's coming toward her with a simpering look that used to be reserved for first years or house elves. Pansy looks madly around and throws herself in the direction of Theodore Nott, whose dark hair is sticking up much more than usual.

She's only a foot away from him when he turns, and she realizes it's not Theo at all.

It's Harry-freaking-Potter.

He starts to say something, probably about Granger coming up behind her, but Pansy shakes her head at him and drags him sideways to the dance floor.

"Dance," she hisses.

She puts her arms around his neck and half-shoves him into a waltz. Potter's green eyes widen behind his ridiculous glasses but he goes along with it.

Finally, he's done something smart.

-:-

Potter keeps opening and closing his mouth, and Pansy's getting quite tired of shushing him. She's sure they look quite a sight- Harry Potter, the most famous war hero in the Wizarding World, dancing with Pansy Parkinson, disgraced dress shop owner and generally regarded traitor.

He's an okay sort, she supposes. At least he's a better dancer than most of the Gryffindor types, all talk and no legs to stand on when they fail- not that Slytherins are any better.

She thinks that scorn is a funny thing. Scorn is the look in the eyes of the public when she moves, it's the note in their laughs when she talks, it's the daily spit on her door when she opens the shop.

Somehow, Harry Potter, the one who should scorn her most of all, doesn't have a trace of it in his earnest face. Not even pity… maybe curiosity, but that's not the same. And all of a sudden, she feels lighter.

-:-

Pansy pulls away from Potter at last and smiles lightly at him. He looks shocked- has he seen her smile before?- but hesitantly smiles back.

She curtseys like a proper pureblood princess and floats away through the room. When she looks back, she sees him mouthing something at her, but she doesn't know what he's saying. She shrugs in return.

He shouts something (a single shout in a crowded room, how familiar, dear Pansy). She still can't hear, although it's obvious others have, judging by their expressions. Finally, he catches up to her.

She gives him a questioning look as he leads her out of the ballroom. He shakes his head, and leans against the wall as soon as they're outside, fanning the air and massaging his head.

Potter doesn't like parties? Who would have thought? Not Pansy, definitely. But she loved parties once, and now she'd rather be anywhere else. Even outside a Ministry building with the Boy-Who-Lived, and that's saying something.

They stand in silence for a long time, but Pansy is used to uneasy quiet. She examines her nails.

Potter claps her on the back suddenly, and she looks up. He doesn't say anything, but she can tell by the look on his face that he's grateful.

She nods in return, and watches him return to the party.

Not a bad sort, at all.

-:-

Once upon a time, there was a girl.

The girl was not perfect. She had smooth dark hair, a pink satin gown, and the purest of blood, but that wasn't important in the eyes of the people who mattered. She went to parties and balls and any event that was anything, but only to promote her failing business, and she had nothing at all.

But if there's one lesson the world loves to teach, it's that nothing lasts forever, and even the bad times will end.

And a girl can gain favor with a single smile- or a single dance in a crowded room. And that dance would lead to dinner a week later, which would lead to much, much more. Pansy Potter may not have been a princess, but she didn't need perfection anymore.