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Far Beyond Pearls

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When asked to describe why she is with Millicent, why she chose Millicent as her lover, her partner, Pansy hesitates. She never answers immediately. She places her chin in her palm and lays one finger against the tip of her upturned nose. Her lids drop and she presses her lips together, thinking.

Millicent doesn't walk with the mincing, delicate grace trained into her by deportment tutors. She doesn't walk as if she's afraid to crush an air molecule beneath her soles. When she crosses the wide Atrium of the Ministry, her boots slam on the floor like the beat of bass drums. Her heels crash onto the dark wood with a dull ring. Millicent's stride is long, and she moves in a burst of speed, as if the space between where she is and where she wants to be is a personal offense to her. Outdoors, she bares her feet and digs her toes into the dirt, staining her feet with grass and buttercups. She connects to the ground through her toes and her heels, as solid as an oak.

Her eyes are a shifting, shimmering blue. In the mornings, when her lids are still drooping from sleep, her eyes are the pale shade of a baby's bonnet, soft and comforting. When she jumps from her chair and slams her hands down on a conference table, leaning into her palms and staring at a reticent department head, Millicent's eyes hold the sharp, violent spark of lightning. At night, in the glitter and gleam of candlelight, her eyes are the deep turquoise of a tropical sea, and Pansy can float forever in their warmth.

Her fingers are short and thick, her palms are broad. There is one callus on her finger, where her quill rests as she writes. The heels of her hands carry more calluses, from gripping a broom or a stirring rod or a wand. Her hands settle on Pansy's leg when they curl up in the settee. She pushes the tall heels off Pansy's feet and her thumbs rub deep along instep and soles. She circles Pansy's ankle, strokes up her calf, probes into the hollow behind her knee. No one will ever put Millicent's hands on the cover of a novel or in an advertisement, but she carries beauty and strength in her palms.

She has no patience for the display of fripperies and frills, no desire to have attention drawn to her by ruffles or ribbons. Her clothing is all in shades of black. Her skirts fall to her ankles, her jumpers rise to her throat. She chooses utilitarian, sensible outfits, with no glimmer or shine. They land in a heap at the foot of the bed, and beneath she hides a rainbow. Blue lace, violet satin. Sometimes knickers in vibrant emerald, sometimes stockings in fine red mesh. Millicent shares her color and brilliance with one woman, and only one.

In the mornings, Pansy hears her in the shower, singing. She always chooses songs in which a woman has lost a love, misses a love, forgot a love, or ran away from love. Pansy sometimes wonders if she should be worried about the type of music Millicent sings while in the shower, but then Millicent steps out of the bathroom. Water beads on her skin and slides down her calves, drips from her breasts and flows down her hips. Pansy kneels in front of Millicent and drinks from her.

Her voice is low and throaty. It can rumble against Pansy's spine or whisper across Pansy's ear. Millicent's voice is as warm as a sun-drenched meadow at the height of summer. It is as cold and sharp as the icicles that hung from Hogwarts' towers. She uses it to command and direct when dealing with Ministry recalcitrance, uses it to reassure and comfort a child at the park with a skinned knee. She lures Pansy from her work with murmurs and promises, caresses her with endearments and entreaties.

She keeps her hair up in a braided bun that rides low on the back of her skull. The black tresses only come down to show their glory at night. During the day, out in public, her hair is a locked mystery. In the evenings, at home, it flows down her back like a river at midnight. Thick and dark and heavy, it falls in a curtain around her shoulders and over her breasts. Pansy runs her hands through it, strokes it and pats it. She holds fistfuls to her nose and takes deep breaths of Millicent's shampoo, of her perfume, of the scent that is so intimately Millicent.

Her smile is crooked. One corner rises higher than the other. Her front teeth overlap and are too large for her mouth. Her lips are chapped more often than not, and she has a habit of chewing the loose bits of skin away while she thinks. It's not an attractive smile, and doesn't appear often, but when it does, Pansy shields her eyes from the brilliance of it. It lights Millicent's face like the sun, warms Pansy like a mug of thick cocoa. Millicent smiles, and Pansy glows.

When asked to describe why she is with Millicent, why she chose Millicent as her lover, her partner, Pansy hesitates. She hesitates because she knows the answer is expected to be short, to be simple, but there is nothing simple about her life with Millicent. There is nothing short and uncomplicated about the woman she loves. She would give a hundred reasons, a thousand explanations, but in the end, she always responds the same way. She opens her eyes and brushes her finger across her lips. With careless grace, she shrugs one shoulder and waves her hand through the air to dismiss the question. "Why am I with her? Because I am," she says, her eyes searching the room for dark hair, a crooked smile, and lightning blue eyes. "Why did I fall for her? Because I did. I don't need to explain."