Summary: They're only friends, and that's a miracle in itself, but this feels like tradition, and besides, friends with benefits isn't completely unheard up. And at least they're something. *Penelope/Theodore, (first ever on this site), oneshot

Disclaimer: Yeah, I don't own Harry Potter

Author's Note: So, this is the first Penelope/Theodore fic on this site. Who knew? Just so you all know, Penelope/Roger is mentioned, and they are a M&MWP (Mew & Mor weird pairing).

Pairing: Penelope Clearwater/Theodore Nott

X

She's in fifth year when he meets her, and he's just a lowly firstie. He's a Slytherin, she's a Ravenclaw, and they shouldn't really know each other.

But he's a curious little Slytherin and on the first night, he decides to sneak out and explore. Instead of being as clever as he thinks he is, he gets lost. She's the one who finds him.

She gives him a short lecture while leading him back to the Slytherin common room, and deducts a point.

She forgets about it a moment later, but their meeting sticks with him.

X

Two years later, she's graduating. He's only thirteen, fourteen in July, but he knows a broken girl when he sees one.

Her smile is half-hearted that last morning, and she doesn't look at the Gryffindor table without wincing. And he notices.

Hours later, in the rush to get off the train, he bumps into her as she tries to yank her trunk out of the train. He smiles at her and, showing off what little strength he has, he lifts the trunk off the train for her.

"M'lady." He says, bowing.

She gives a small laugh, and says "Thanks."

Then she disappears into the crowds without a second thought for the little third year who helped her. Theo watches her back as she walks away.

X

Six and a half years later, they meet in a bar. They're both there to get drunk, and for the same reasons.

Penelope saw Percy leave to fight in the battle, he told her where he was going, and she didn't join him.

Theo could've, should've stayed to fight, but he didn't. He left like a coward.

He recognizes her as the girl he used to love, and she recognises him as the boy who helped her with her trunk.

They exchange small talk, and by the time they're drunk, conversation has turned to the reasons they're at the bar in the first place.

They sympathize drunkenly with each other and even though they're both dating and she's four years older than him, they find themselves kissing.

They wake up the next morning at his flat, somehow unsplinched, sprawled naked in his bed, tangled in sheets.

Penelope tries to leave as quickly as she can, blabbering about how she's dating and in love with someone else and this isn't like her, but Theo shrugs her excuses off.

"Me too." He says simply, "So before we forget this happened, can I at least get you some breakfast?"

His reassuring smile could make even a married women melt, so she agrees, pulls on her clothes and follows him to the kitchen.

X

Two months later, Theo gets a job in the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes. It just so happens that she's the head of that department, and so they're coworkers.

The first time she sees him, she blushes prettily and mutters "Shit," under her breath. He hears her though, and smirks at her. She's melting inside even though she's totally, completely and irrevocably in love with her boyfriend.

After her flitting around him awkwardly and him grinning wolfishly whenever they see each other for the first two weeks, he shows up in her office.

"Things have been stupid between us." He says confidently, "I mean, yes, we slept together, but we were drunk, we don't remember it and frankly, I'm all for forgetting it ever happened. Friends?" He sticks his hand out to her.

She eyes him carefully for a moment before shaking his extended hand.

X

After three months of working together, Theo gets bored of just being coworkers with her and so he asks her to lunch. As friends.

She contemplates him for a moment, but in the end she accepts.

Ten minutes later, she finds herself in a small muggle coffee shop not five minutes from the Ministry guest entrance, sipping a cup of tea.

"So why were you at the Hogs Head that night?" he asks her.

She raises an eyebrow. "Oh come on," she says, "You don't even know my favourite color and you're asking for my deepest, darkest secrets?"

"Well, what's your favourite color then?" he asks, because she fascinates him and he really does want to know her.

"Blue." She tells him, "What's yours?"

He smiles at her and they spend the lunch hour learning trivial facts about each other.

X

Within two months, they know every trivial, pointless fact about each other.

Theo knows that Penelope has only once gotten anything below and E, and that was in Divination.

Penelope learns that Theo is terrified of snakes, even though they were his house mascot, because his cousins in Germany slipped one into his pillow when they were visiting when he was five.

Their Monday, Wednesday and Friday lunches have become habitual, and soon they're spilling secrets to each other that no one else knows.

Despite the fact that they're insanely different and that she's his boss and that they never really talked in school and their age difference, they're pretty much best friends.

So when Penelope's boyfriend breaks up with her, she comes crying to him.

Because he's been dumped enough times to understand, he takes her out to a bar and they get crazy drunk.

They wake up in his bed again, and they just stare at each other over the pillow.

"Well," he says at last, "This is…"

"Awkward?" she volunteers.

Theo shrugs. "Only if we make it so." He tells her, rolling out of bed and pulling on his boxers.

"Then let's not make this awkward." She says, "Let's just forgets this happened."

He turns to look at her. "Do you want to?" he asks, his gaze penetrating.

Penelope clutches the sheet around her, fidgeting under his stare. "Maybe." She whispers at last.

"I don't." he states firmly.

She bites her lip because she's only just gone through a break up and it just feels too soon.

He knows her so well now that he guesses what she's thinking and since he doesn't want things to be strained between them, so he says "Nevermind. Forget I said anything. Get dressed, and let's have breakfast."

Then he strides out of the room and leaves her wondering what the hell she wants.

X

Two days later, she strides into his office, her lipstick a shade darker, her heels an inch higher, her skirt an inch shorter and a new determination in her eyes.

She shuts the door tightly behind her and says "I don't want to forget it either."

He looks up at her in shock, and worry is plain on his face because there's something he's been meaning to tell her.

She sees his concern and asks "What is it?"

"I've got a girlfriend." He blurts.

To his surprise, she laughs. "Good." She says, "Roger Davies asked me out yesterday, and I said yes."

He blinks owlishly, shocked.

"So who's your new muse?" she asks.

"Daphne Greengrass." He says, still in shock.

Penelope nods. "She's pretty. A Slytherin, right?"

Theo nods. "If you have a boyfriend, why do you want to remember?"

"Because even if we're only friends and not something more, we still slept together twice and even if that doesn't change our friendship, I still don't want to forget it." She tells him.

"Even if we were both too drunk to actually remember it both times?" he smiles.

"Of course." She tells him. And with that, she strides out of office.

X

A year and seven months after they first slept together, their friendship is still going strong. It's a Monday morning when Penelope comes running into Theo's office, a deliriously happy smile on her face. "I'm engaged!" she tells him excitedly.

He hugs her and congratulates her, before telling her his news. "I'm thinking of proposing to Daphne." He says.

"Do you love her?" Penelope asks him.

"Absolutely." He tells her.

"Then propose!" she exclaims, eager for him to feel the same happiness she does.

Then she realises she has things to do, so she says a quick good bye and scuttles away. Theo smiles at her retreating back.

X

A week later, he brings her the news that he's engaged.

It's her turn to hug and congratulate him and so she does. After work, they go out for celebratory drinks. One drink turns to two and then three and soon they're drunk. They're not as drunk as they usually get together, but, like it's tradition or something, they apperate off to Theo's flat.

They wake up the next morning in his bed, just like they have twice before. Unlike before though, they weren't drunk enough to not remember and so they watch each other carefully over the pillow with a newfound knowledge of the other.

"We should never go drinking together again." Says Penelope at last.

Theo laughs, and she joins him quickly.

When their laughter dies down, Theo asks her the question they're both wondering. "Are we forgetting it this time?" he asks.

"No." says Penelope, "I don't think I'm even regretting it."

"Good." Says Theo, "Because I'm not either."

Then, again like it's traditional, they both get up, get dressed and head to the kitchen.

Theo chews his cornflakes slowly as he watches her eat across the table. "Do you want to do it again?" he asks before he can stop himself.

"What?" bursts Penelope, her spoon clattering to the floor, looking thoroughly shocked.

Cursing himself internally, he says "Just to know what it's like. You know, when we aren't drunk."

She thinks about for a moment, and then, to his great surprise, she says "Sure."

X

From then on, she finds herself going home with him every night. They're still just friends, they are engaged to other people after all, but now somehow they're friends with benefits.

They're not really sure why they're doing this, because it's probably one of the stupidest things they could be doing, but they just can't bring themselves to object.

They know each other so well and they fit into each other's lives so well that they just can't help themselves.

X

"We could be something." She whispers to him in the dead of night.

He laughs softly, and shakes his head. "No we couldn't Penny. We're both engaged to different people. Lovely, attractive, wonderful people."

Penelope sighs. "I know," she says, "but wouldn't it be nice to actually be in love?"

"Aren't we?"

"Of course. I meant with each other."

"Oh. Right." Theo says. "Why would it be nice?"

She swats him. "Because we have this. We have secrets. We have regrets. We know each other."

"I see what you mean." He says, "But I think you'd rather just be in love with someone who knows your secrets and regrets, instead of in love with me."

Penelope sighs into his chest. "Maybe." she whispers, but her observation stirs something inside the both of them.

X

Her six month engagement has gone too fast and it's the morning of her wedding. She puts on her dress carefully, a feeling of dread and foreboding building in her stomach.

Theo slips into her room ten minutes before the ceremony. "Can we have a minute?" he asks her bridesmaids.

They eye him cautiously, but Penelope nods so they slip out silently.

"You look gorgeous Penny." He tells her.

She lets out a short, barking laugh. "I don't really want to, you know." She says.

"I'm assuming you don't mean that you don't want to look gorgeous." He says.

She shakes her head. "I don't really want to get married." She whispers to him, tears beginning to gather. She's falling to pieces.

He looks at her, an almost sad look on his face and takes her into his arms. "I broke off my engagement with Daph." He murmurs in her ear.

"Why?" she asks softly, tears slipping down her face.

"I'm in love with someone else." He tells her.

"I'm not in love with Roger." She blurts.

He laughs softly and wipes a tear off her cheek. "Didn't think you were."

"I'm in love with you." She whispers.

"I'm in love with you too." He tells her quietly.

"Then let's run away together." She says.

"There's this guy I know," he tells her, "he does impromptu weddings. And you're all dressed up. It'd be a shame to waste this lovely dress, wouldn't it?"

"Are you proposing?" she asks, smiling.

"In a failed, pathetic sort of way, I suppose." he grins.

"Well then," she says, "let's get out of here."

X

They don't leave a note, they just apperate away. They're married within the hour and as they hold each other tightly in his bed hours later, they wonder why it took themselves so long to realize their love.