Actions

Work Header

A Thousand Little Deaths

Work Text:

A Thousand Little Deaths
::

They always walk on Sundays.

It is the first Sunday of their seventh year and it is hot and muggy, and even though the dungeons are always comfortably cool at this time of year while the rest of the castle swelters under the oppressive blanket of the Indian summer, Theodore and Pansy venture out from their pleasant, temperate tomb to continue what has become their longstanding tradition in this, their final year.

Pansy hops up onto the low wall of stone that weaves aimlessly behind Hagrid's hut, just beyond the pumpkin patch. She lights a sweet-smelling cigarette with a surreptitious glance, checking for prying faculty eyes; smoking is certainly not allowed at Hogwarts, so she must be sly.

"You shouldn't smoke," Theodore says, bemused.

She exhales in his face. "Thanks for that amazing health tip," she says blandly, her eyes focused over his head, and he smiles.

"Gimme one, too."

She passes them over. "Hypocrite," she says, smirking, as he touches the tip of his wand to the ciggie.

He shrugs. "Carpe diem, or whatever."

They are semi-hidden under the hanging branches of a willow tree; it is very dark, for the moon is a sliver, but the castle blazes in the distance, allowing them some sight. As their eyes adjust, they watch a tiny silkworm lower itself from the tree's leaves, dangling still and silent from its gossamer thread, which catches an occasional glint of moonlight on its fragile length.

Pansy blows a stream of smoke and the silken thread shivers and floats, and the first worm falls abruptly to the ground. She doesn't laugh, but pulls her legs up to sit cross-legged on the crest of the wall, and she braces her chin on her thumb, her cigarette between her index and middle fingers. The smoke curls around her face, but she does not notice. She seems preoccupied.

Theodore slings his leg over the wall, sitting sideways, and tucks the toes of his boots under the edge of Pansy's bum. He drapes his arm casually over one of his bent knees. "What is it?"

She shrugs and remains silent, her dark eyes glittering and alert in the faint light of the moon.

He flicks his ash. "Where did you go over the summer?"

"To London."

"To your parents' flat there?"

"No." She hesitates for a moment. "I went alone."

Theodore cocks his head, interested. "Really? Where did you stay?"

"Lots of places." There is a pointed pause. "Nowhere magical."

"You went to Muggle London?" Theodore is genuinely surprised. "Seriously?"

She takes a long drag. "Yeah, seriously." Smoke drifts from her nostrils as she speaks.

"That would explain the outfit."

"What outfit?"

"The outfit you're wearing."

Pansy looks down. "Not really," she says, brushing the top of her thigh. "Wizards and witches wear those kind of trousers."

"You don't."

"They're comfortable."

"Since when have you been about comfort?" Theodore has a point. She wears skirts or dresses, and fancies button-down jumpers and strings of pearls. When she appeared in the common room wearing, well, jeans, Theodore had to do a double-take. The jeans themselves look about twenty years old and there is a strategic rip, its edges soft and fuzzy from wear and time, right under the rise of her left buttock. "Besides, everyone can see your arse." She looks at him in a way that makes him wonder if she's laughing at him.

"So?"

Theodore doesn't know what to say to this. He doesn't want to talk to Pansy about her arse, for that would involve admitting he has actually considered that particular region of her body, which, of course, he has, but she certainly doesn't need to know this. It's only natural, he justifies to himself. Although he has not directly met her arse's acquaintance per se, he's known Pansy forever, so it only makes sense that he would eventually have thoughts of her. He flicks his cigarette butt away, but doesn't move to leave. Instead he lets his mind drift back as they sit together in the dark, crickets humming all around, back to the week after year six ended, when they were all back at their respective homes in Wiltshire. Well, almost all of them, that is.

---

In the particular memory he revisits, it is a week after Dumbledore's funeral, and he and Pansy don't yet speak of Draco's disappearance, just as they don't speak of Theodore's father, far away and unreachable, rotting still in Azkaban. They spend their free time together, prowling the remote corridors and long-forgotten rooms of the Notts' manor, treasure hunting, pillaging Theodore's family's very own belongings. Pansy dashes down a dark hall, the soft clinking sound of the jewelry she has uncovered from an ancient dressing table trailing behind her as she runs, the tintinnabulation of the ten necklaces around her neck like distant wind chimes.

"Come and find me!" she calls over her shoulder, and Theodore hears the distinct sound of a door closing.

He creeps along the corridor, feeling door handles carefully, until one feels slightly warmer than the rest, although her hand would have wrapped around it for only the minutest of seconds. He figures it's worth a shot, and so lets himself in to be greeted with the realisation that he doesn't recall having been in this room before.

Shrouded forms tower precariously, and he realises this is where his father stores the disused furniture and sundry that has piled up through the years. A floorboard creaks as he steps forward, and he thinks he hears a giggle. "Pansy?" he whispers into the blackness. There it comes again -- the sure sound of someone stifling a laugh, and he inches forward, splaying his hands blindly in front of him, groping in the dark. He stumbles and is forced to throw his hands over his head as a stack of books tumbles sideways; he feels the cloud of ensuing dust as it engulfs him, and then he sneezes, and another pile of books comes crashing down. "Bollocks," he snorts. "Lumos!" And there is Pansy, peeking out at him from behind his great auntie Gertrude's armoire that belches when opened. "HA!" he calls out, smiling triumphantly, and she squeals and turns, and then he is chasing her through the maze of objects. His fingers brush the back of her top, and he clutches a handful of fabric. "HA!" he says again, reemphasizing his victory.

"You cheated!" Pansy says, wriggling ferociously, ripping herself from his grip. He lunges forward and half-tackles her, wrapping his arms around her from behind, and slams her lightly up against a different wardrobe, which gives a shudder at the force of their weight. She turns. "How'd you know which room to pick?"

He's not going to tip his hand, so he leaves his theory about the warmer doorknob unspoken. "I," he says imperiously, "am a master Legilimens!" He raises his eyebrow at her. "Never doubt my profound abilities." She struggles again, and he tightens his grip, asserting his superiority.

Pansy rolls her eyes. "Really, now?" Her face relaxes as she gazes at him rather queerly. "What am I thinking, then?"

He isn't expecting this; they don't play these kinds of coy games. As well, Pansy is the type of person who everyone -- whether they want to or not -- knows exactly what she is thinking, at almost every moment, for Pansy emotes openly and with considerable loudness. If Pansy is feeling something, it is quite known. But at this particular moment, he isn't sure, and for some reason he feels a pang of trepidation. Maybe it's because of the strange look on her face.

"Where do you think Draco's gone?" she asks after a moment, looking into his eyes plaintively.

Oh shite. "I don't know," he says softly, and for some reason he squeezes her arms even tighter. She begins to cry then, and he actually catches a clue for once, and he understands he cannot at this moment fail her. She cries and cries, and it's as if someone is pulling her pain from her by a string, hand over hand, unrelenting, and he says simply, "I'm sorry." Theodore knows Draco is Pansy's best friend. Pansy struggles against his grip and slides down the wardrobe into a crumpled, crying heap, and he sits down next to her and lets her cry into his shoulder, and his thoughts wander to Quidditch, to Potions, to the list of his father's dark and forbidden objects Greyback has requested on Lord Voldemort's behalf (and God knows where they are; his father has never told him and Theodore worries he won't be able to find them, and fears the wrath of the Dark Lord accordingly). Finally only the sound of her deep, shuddering breaths breaks the silence of their tomb of antiquities.

"Thanks," she says, after several minutes.

"Sure," he says.

"Thanks," she says again, and puts her hand on his face, turning into him awkwardly. She kisses him lightly, to thank him, but she doesn't pull away as he thinks she will, and suddenly his heart is beating faster. She looks at him keenly, and then kisses him again, lingering for a moment, and when she pulls back he feels a tugging sensation, a slight stinging where the skin of her lip sticks to his as she relaxes her mouth away. It is a totally different kind of a kiss, and although it isn't much longer than the first peck she bestowed on him, the difference is pretty damn obvious. He realises he must look put off, for she is now flushing deeply.

"Sorry," she says, crossing her arms over her chest defensively, and turning to face forward. Two spots of colour burn bright over each of her cheeks.

"Why?" he asks.

"I just felt like it, all right?" she huffs.

"No, I mean why are you sorry?"

She glances sideways at him. "Aren't you sorry?"

"Sorry for what?"

"That I did that?" She is referring to the kiss.

Theodore feels very inept, sitting there with her under the slight glow of his wand tip."Uh . . . "

"Just forget it!" She is clearly mortified. "God."

"Well . . . " He moves his hand and touches a finger to the side of her leg, and doesn't really know what to do, so he skims his fingers upward, awkwardly, and then moves them up and down, about an inch, back and forth, until she looks at him again. He leans in closer, for he is intrigued, and there is a glimmer of understanding in her eyes. She shifts back toward him, moving closer. He kisses her this time, and he lingers longer than she did, waiting for her to respond, to do something.

She kisses him back, and she tastes clean, and he wonders if it is because she has just finished crying. Her face is dry of tears now; he feels the flutter of her lashes against his cheek as she breaks their kiss, and he doesn't want to lose this moment, so he kisses her again, more firmly this time, until she sighs, and then he feels her tongue dancing hot and eager against his.

Theodore pulls away and helps Pansy up, and he leads her to his room. He feels silly once they get there, as they stand there staring at one another stupidly, so he pushes her roughly onto his bed, like a six-year-old might do when teasing a yucky girl, and he crawls over her. They lie on his bed kissing and kissing and kissing, one of his pillows wedged firmly between their bodies, and he doesn't attempt to do anything other than kiss her and touch her arm gently.

When a hot rushing sensation suddenly roars through him, and he comes, it totally surprises him. It surprises him so thoroughly, in fact, that he doesn't react outwardly because he doesn't have time to, and Pansy has no idea what she's done to him; his vision blurs and he feels the inside of his shorts warm as he throbs her right. on. out.

La petite mort, he thinks, drawing a ragged breath, the words from his dead French mother's books on sex and love exploding forth inside his mind. He buries his face in the damp crook of Pansy's neck and pulls her close. One little death . . .

When Theodore wakes, she is gone.

For the next six weeks his owl returns with his letters to her still tied to its leg. Theodore doesn't see Pansy again until King's Cross.

---

"Why did you go to Muggle London?" he asks, intrigued by such a bold, uncharacteristic move on her part.

"I thought maybe Draco might be there," she says, stubbing out her smoke. "I figured it would be the last place on earth he would ever go."

"Then why would you think he would be there?"

"Because," she says, the corner of her mouth turning up in a slight grin, "I figured it would be the last place on earth he would ever go."

"He wasn't there?"

"No." She is silent for several minutes and Theodore waits patiently. "But his mother was."

"Really?" This is a rather shocking prospect. Narcissa Malfoy in Muggle London? Muggle anywhere? "Why?"

"I don't know, I didn't ask her."

"You didn't?"

She shakes her head, tapping a new cigarette idly on her thumbnail. "I saw her in Brixton. I was staying with some Muggles I met in a club there." She nods sagely. "There's a lot of clubs in Brixton, lots of dancing, yeah?"

"You don't like dancing."

"Yes I do," she says impatiently. "I just think the Weird Sisters suck. So, I was in a coffee shop a few days prior, and I overheard . . . well, there was just a group of kids talking, you know? And one of them mentioned a name that sounded like 'Draco'." She lights her second smoke. "So, of course I eavesdropped--"

"Shamelessly, I suppose," Theodore interjects, smiling slightly.

"Of course," she says, with a glimmer of mischievousness. "Anyhow, this boy with the name that sounded like 'Draco' was supposed to be at this club doing some kind of performance. For a bit I thought it surely couldn't be, but then one of them mentioned 'silly blond hair' and . . . " She brings the cigarette to her lips. "I just had to follow up on it. Because what if it was Draco?"

"Was it?"

"No." She shakes her head in a dreamy way that makes Theodore think she doesn't realise what she's doing. "But that's when I saw Draco's mother."

"Did she recognise you?" he asks.

"Oh, no," she says, laughing. "I'd already cut my hair off, and she wouldn't expect that now, would she? Plus, there was my makeup."

Theodore likes Pansy's new, shorter hair, actually. "Makeup?"

"It was just different. But Mrs. Malfoy was there, and she was looking for Draco, too."

"How do you know?"

"I just know. You could tell."

Theodore looks at her quizzically.

"She was crying," Pansy clarified. "And making a bit of a scene, going up to people and whatnot, asking if they'd seen her son. The Please came because she was throwing such a massive wobbly."

"What's the Please?" Could an etiquette squad have been called to the scene? As far as Theodore knew, Muggles didn't employ etiquette techniques, so surely there could be no kind of politeness enforcers, right?

"They're like our Aurors. They come when there's trouble, and they arrest Muggles and put them in cages.

"Whoa," Theodore breathes. "Really? That's brilliant." He quite likes the idea of Muggles in cages; he'd wager Muggles would be a lot less likely to wreak so much havoc if they were stored properly. "Did they put Mrs. Malfoy in a cage, then?"

"No," Pansy says slyly, clearly savouring the memory. "She Disapparated." She leans into Theodore with a giggle. "You should have seen the looks on their faces! Of course I knew what had happened."

For some reason this saddens Theodore, and he's not quite sure why the mental image of a hysterical Narcissa Malfoy disapparating from inside a seedy Muggle club to continue searching for her missing son bothers him so much. Perhaps it's because he's jealous. He doesn't have anyone who could seek him if he were lost. His mother is dead. His father . . . well, his father is dead too in a way, he supposes. He looks at Pansy through the dark, the smouldering scarlet ember at the tip of her cigarette illuminating her funny nose and reflecting eerily in her eyes, and Theodore wants to devour her at this moment. She has returned to Hogwarts changed: she is sharp and keen and quiet, yet she never stills except when she smokes on Sundays, and Theodore wants her newfound restlessness all to himself.

He reaches out and plucks the cigarette from between her fingers and flicks it away.

"What?" she asks, pulling a face.

"Nothing," he says, and he reaches out and skims her upper arm with the tip of his finger. She reaches across herself and slaps her hand down on it, as if his finger were a fly to be swatted, but she doesn't lift her hand away again. Instead her fingers curl around his, and she looks him in the eye.

"What?" she asks again, and Theodore's heart beats a little faster.

"Nothing." He wrenches his hand free and captures hers, and he brings her fingertips to his mouth and touches them to his bottom lip. It's not exactly a kiss. "I missed you."

"I missed you, too."

---

Theodore pays special attention to Pansy now, not that she knows it. Her differences are subtle, but he notices them. In Potions one day she has a piece of hair out of place -- it flips upward, rather than under like the rest. He resists the urge to reach forward and twist it into compliance. A few days later he notices she is wearing two different charcoal-coloured socks. They are both grey, mind, but one sock is darker than the other; they are not from a matched pair. Still on another occasion, as they study in the common room, Theodore looks up suddenly when he hears the plinkling spatter of small, hard objects bouncing on the stone floor, and he sees Pansy has twisted the pearls at her neck so tightly that the string has snapped. Pearls roll wildly and she doesn't stop reading, nor does she make a move to gather them back. Theodore watches as she draws the empty tatter of string from around her neck, its clasps still fastened uselessly; he leans forward and picks up a pearl and rolls it between his thumb and forefinger.

"Just leave them," Pansy says, laying the remnants of her necklace in-between the pages of her book. She still does not look up.

Theodore puts the pearl into his pocket, but leaves the rest untouched. He knows the House Elves will gather them and put them aside for her, just as they do for all lost objects they come across during the course of their duties. If Pansy ever wants her necklace back she will know where to go to begin the restoration process.

---

October comes and Pansy wears a Kelly green jumper with a khaki skirt and aqua knee highs. She looks absolutely hideous and Theodore feels a duty to warn.

"You look hideous," he informs her, appalled.

"I look fine." Pansy dismisses Theodore's charge with a wave of her hand.

"No, actually, you don't," he says, and he doesn't quite know why he's feeling angry with her. "Have you been hexed?" He stops short and snaps his fingers, suddenly enlightened. "I know! A Colourblinding hex. I know which book the counterspell's in -- I'll get it."

"I've not been hexed." She looks at him calmly, which unnerves him thoroughly. "I can see colour just fine."

"Why are you wearing--" he gesticulates helplessly "--You look awful!"

"Theodore's right, you know," Daphne says loftily, as she butters her toast. "What's wrong with you, Pansy?"

Pansy gives Daphne a rude hand gesture, and then proceeds to ignore her. Daphne snorts indignantly.

"Well, it's Tuesday anyway," Theodore says darkly, getting up from the table. He has lost his appetite. "At least you'll have to cover yourself with your robes for classes." He expects a shrill, harsh reaction from Pansy at this provocation, but none comes, and when he glances at her a final time it seems clear her mind is occupied elsewhere, and he feels ignored and insignificant and ridiculously jealous of her bloody stupid aqua stockings. Clearly she must hold her socks in higher regard than him, seeing as she can't be arsed to consider even the possibility of a fashion faux pas on her part. His opinion matters!

He prays she never wears the Kelly green jumper with the khaki skirt and the aqua knee highs again, for Theodore now irrationally hates both garments with a passion; when Pansy wears either one or the other as separates he will always be withholding and incommunicative with her on that day, until she either changes outfits or the next day arrives, and in the future he will wonder if she ever makes the connection between her green jumper and his unsettled feelings, or if she simply thinks him seventeen, stupid, and moody.

---

"Do you ever try and owl Draco?" Theodore asks Pansy in November.

"No." She blows against the parchment spread out in front of her, coaxing the ink dry. "I wouldn't want to lead anyone to him."

He nods, watching her. The firelight makes her dark hair shimmer. "Yeah. Makes sense."

They continue writing their N.E.W.T.-level Charms essays without speaking further, the nibs of their quills scratching incongruously.

---

In December they decorate a Christmas tree in the dungeons, or rather Pansy does. Annoying and loud as usual, she takes charge of the entire operation, taking issue with anyone else's placement of the ornaments and faeries and Firecrabs. The Slytherins of all ages mill about the common room as she attends to the tree, while the seventh years hog the best couches. Theodore is sprawled against the corner of one of the leather chesterfields clustered around the fireplace, one leg draped over Daphne's lap, and he clutches a great, square, squishy silk pillow against his chest so he can prop his chin while he watches Pansy decorate the Christmas tree.

She is wearing her Muggle jeans again, and as she reaches on tiptoe to place a blown-glass swan on one of the branches, Theodore can see the gentle curve where her arse arcs upward from the back of her thigh, and his cock grows hard as he thinks of how her bum might feel cupped in his hand.

It's a good thing he has his pillow.

She's been under his skin since July, and he finds himself keeping track of her routine, noting her schedule, feeling disappointed when she decides to skip a meal. It makes him feel like a total idiotic dickhead, too, for he's never really been one for silly, romantic notions when it comes to females -- in fact, he doesn't even know what it is about Pansy that intrigues him. She's not especially pretty. Daphne Greengrass is far, far prettier than Pansy Parkinson, and Daphne lets him kiss her (and more) whenever he wants to, but it is never Daphne he thinks about when he shoves his cock through his fist at night, when he is alone in the dark, cordoned behind his heavy green draperies. He remembers how Pansy tastes and his mouth waters, and he thrusts frantically when he wanks himself off, although no matter how hard he fucks his hand he can't recapture the single brilliance of the unexpected encounter he had with her over the summer.

Pansy reaches high again and a beautiful alabaster crescent of skin reveals itself as her top inadvertently pulls free from the waist of her jeans, and Theodore sucks in a breath at the sight, his erection throbbing insanely. He shifts slightly and casually repositions the pillow, and he is free to skim the side of his thumb up and down the length of his cock, through the fabric of his trousers, as he watches her. All around him students are chatting and laughing and complete oblivious, and Daphne is next to him, her thigh touching his, and Blaise is nattering on to Gregory about some pretentious gift he has planned for his stepfather du jour, but Theodore has tunnel vision and when he closes his eyes for the briefest of moments all he sees is the single glimpse of Pansy's belly, pristine and smooth.

He reaches over and catches Daphne's hand and drags it under the pillow, and presses her fingers and palm flat against his cock. He doesn't look at her or say anything to her, and he tightens his fingers around her wrist when she attempts to pull her hand away; he has never, ever asked her to touch him like this before. He guides Daphne's hand, taking care to not be obvious, and when she finally gives in and squeezes her fingers around him he lets go of her wrist. "Faster," he says, low so only Daphne can hear, and he settles in to watch Pansy decorate the Slytherins' Christmas tree as Daphne curls into his side, her motions hidden by the pillow (anyone looking would think she merely had her arms wrapped around his waist, and was snuggling against his shoulder), and Theodore thinks about pulling Pansy's top out from her jeans himself, and what it would be like to bite and suck at her there, and he feels his balls tighten ominously.

"Harder," he commands. Daphne complies. He imagines it is Pansy's hand on him now, and he imagines Pansy's hand streaked and wet, and he imagines fucking Pansy's mouth, her cunt, her everything, and then he is biting down so hard on the inside of his bottom lip that he sees stars. He comes hard then, and when he finishes he imagines what it would be like to draw his fingers through tiny pools of his own stringy pearlescence left behind on Pansy's pale stomach, and what it would be like to rub and rub and rub his come over her skin, to rub himself right into her.

Two little deaths.

He glances sideways at Daphne, his heart pounding fiercely in his chest, his spent cock twitching weakly, and then he moves Daphne's hand back into her own lap. She gazes at him, rather shocked, but Theodore looks at Pansy instead, and finds her as if frozen in place. She is looking right back at him, queerly, a glass doxy in her hand, and for some reason Theodore is filled with elation and a sense of victory, although he is not at all sure why.

---

It doesn't take long to find out.

The next Sunday they are all lounging in the common room when Pansy rises suddenly, pushing her book from her lap. Theodore is lounging against Daphne and letting her tickle the back of his neck, because it feels really good, but he looks up when Pansy stops next to him. She kneels quickly and he feels her breath hot against the side of his face.

"Come and find me!" she whispers into his ear, and she dashes away, actually leaping over a pouf like a hurdler, and then disappears down a corridor. He struggles to sit up; Daphne's fingernail scrapes him too hard.

"What are you doing?" Daphne asks, affronted, but he is already squashing her thigh under his trainer as he launches himself after Pansy, practically falling over the back of the couch in his haste. "Theodore?" Daphne sounds very cross. "Theodore!" She is up on her knees now, clutching at the back of the couch, surprised, as she watches him disappear.

Theodore tears after Pansy, bolting down the corridor. It grows darker and darker, for this is an unused portion of the dungeons, and he hears the sound of his shoes echoing against the stone flooring, backed by the faint sound of dripping water. He is deep within the dungeons now. He lights his wand and holds it aloft; roots have grown through the ceiling of this hallway from the lake bottom above and it smells musty, but in a clean way. "Nox," he says under his breath and it is dark again, and he closes his eyes and breathes in deeply, the water echoing. He steps sideways and reaches; the doorknob he finds is cold. He shimmies the other way, trailing his fingers over the stone wall until he finds another door. This one too is cold. Slowly he works his way down the length of the hall until he has reason to take pause. He clutches a doorknob and it's not exactly warm, but somehow he knows this is the right way to go. He turns the knob and doesn't bother to be quiet. "Pansy." It is a command, and he feels her hand close around his wrist, tugging him toward her.

"I had a dream about you last night," she says, still breathless from running.

He is so close to her; he can smell her skin. His chests rises and falls as he catches his breath. "What kind of a dream?" he is finally able to ask, his heart skipping a beat in anticipation.

"It was . . . . " She trails off and gazes at him through the dim light.

"Good?" he prompts her, hopeful.

"Oh yes." She is tugging his face toward hers. "Immaculate," she breathes, and then his hands are on her.

He frantically pulls her blouse free from her skirt and shoves it up over her breasts, and he slides his hands up her front. She makes a disapproving noise in the back of her throat, but he silences her by sucking her tongue into his mouth. He can't help himself; he groans and his lust blooms.

"Theo--" Pansy pulls away, squirming.

Theodore wraps his arms around her and squeezes her as tightly as he can, realising all the while it likely hurts her, but he cannot help himself. He has to touch her, taste her, inhale her.

"Wait," she says, her eyes widening. "Stop." Her chest is heaving and Theodore realises Pansy has stiffened in his arms, and he is both embarrassed, and not just a little impressed with himself, that he has managed to not only scare a girl in general, but that the girl in question happens to be Pansy Parkinson. As far as females go, Pansy is rather difficult to shake.

"I'm sorry," he says, letting her go. He tries not to focus on the throbbing between his legs and takes a deep shuddering breath. "What did you want, then?" He knows he sounds petulant, but he can't help himself.

"I just . . . " Pansy looks over his head, avoiding his direct gaze. "I just thought it would be fun."

"Giving me blue balls is fun?" He rolls his eyes. "Swell."

"Oh!" She flushes and at least has the decency to feign a sense of propriety, but after a moment she looks at him. "Do I-- um . . . " She is a bit flustered, but Theodore spots a spark of intrigue in her eyes. "You feel like that right now?"

He steps closer, and then closer again until she's stepping backward and her back is against the wall. He presses into her, trapping his aching cock against her belly, and there is no way she won't be able to feel it. "Uh, yeah?" he says sardonically, bringing one hand up to brace himself against the wall. "Just a bit." He reaches up and smoothes a lock of hair behind her ear.

She tips her head up. "Well, couldn't you just . . . "

He kisses her, making sure not to devour her face. She likes this and in a moment he is tasting her again.

"Do you think I'm dangerous?" she asks randomly, her lips still against his.

"Dangerous?" Theodore suspects Pansy is occupied with something beyond their current activity. He uses this to his advantage and tugs at the hem of her blouse again, and he dips his fingers underneath its edges and trails them upward until her warm skin is against his palm.

"I-- oh," she sighs, as he brushes the swell of her ribcage carefully. "I was just remembering a row I overheard Snape and Draco having last year about this time, where Snape was yelling at Draco, and telling Draco that he was a liability . . . that he was dangerous." Pansy looks at Theodore with a funny expression in her eyes, and Theodore simultaneously wants to laugh at her and also to . . . protect her. Or something. "Do you think I'm dangerous, Theo?"

Theodore knows what she's getting at. Draco, in his relentless egocentrism and constant posturing, had been dangerous; however, what Pansy doesn't understand is Draco had ultimately proved to be dangerous really only to himself. He'd parroted his father's political views and hatred of Mudbloods loudly, often, and with gusto, and the Dark Lord had called Draco's bluff. Theodore's father has shared enough with him over the years for Theodore to have very early on learnt one highly important principle: one ought not bring oneself to the attention of Voldemort unless one was willing to walk the walk. He had watched Draco all through their sixth year, and while he'd felt a bit bad for him, as the other boy's burden had obviously spiraled more and more out of control as the months passed, Theodore's pragmatic side views Draco's demise as merely a rather predictable conclusion to the arrogant game of an unsavvy and impulsive schoolboy. Theodore likes Draco, though, Draco's flaws aside; he isn't yet convinced either way of whether or not Draco is dead. Quite honestly, he can see the argument for either presumption; however, he knows dwelling on the events of last term will do no good, and will hasten no answers. He pushes it from the forefront of his mind.

"Well?" Pansy demands, squirming again. "Do you?"

When she squirms like she does his cock sings her praises and his eyes half-close. "Uh . . . no." He plays at her nipple through her bra and feels it harden.

"Really?" She sounds disappointed. She adopts a haughty tone and raises her chin imperiously. "I can so be dangerous!" she insists.

Again Theodore resists the urge to laugh at her. "You can be bitchy," he says dryly, raising an eyebrow at her. "There's a difference, Pansy."

Her brows knit together angrily. "What do you fucking know--"

He kisses her tenderly. "Just stop," he says. "Don't think about it." Don't think about him . . .

"I can't help it!" she bursts out. "I think about him all the time, wondering if he's all right, where he's-- Oh, erm, what are you doing?"

He is kneeling in front of her now, looking up at her, and he reaches under her skirt and tugs down her knickers, bringing them mid-thigh. "Ah, God," he says, awed. He has never seen a girl up close and personal before; he holds her skirt up with one hand, pressing it against her belly, and runs his other up her thigh. His breath hitches. "You look so good." He can hardly speak; he raises his hand tentatively to touch her. She is warm and wet and ready for him.

"I can't do this," she whinges, as he strokes her; she looks down at him, miserable and guilty.

"Yes, you can," he says, hoping he isn't making a huge arse out of himself and that he's touching her in a way that pleases her. She makes an indiscernible noise, and Theodore understands she is sad. He lays his cheek against the taut plane of her belly and stokes her cautiously with his thumb. "You're not being disloyal to him when you do things that feel good." Her hand drops down to rest gently on his head and he doesn't want to talk anymore. He just wants to keep touching her. "Is this right?"

"I--" She puts her hand over his and makes an adjustment. "No, not that exactly . . . " She helps him and he finally gets it right. "Oh . . . " she breathes finally, and Theodore doesn't change anything. He wants to make her feel good, so he doesn't change a thing even though his fingers start to hurt and the muscles in his forearm cramp slightly. He looks up at her and he is filled with triumph as he watches her face relax. Her mouth falls slightly open. "Oh. Oh."

His senses hum as he realises what he's managed to do for her; he rubs his cheek against the sharp angle of her hipbone. She smells heady, and like sex, and it's incredibly intoxicating. A familiar coiling sensation springs and unleashes like a flood in his gut. "Shite," he whispers desperately, and he drags his hand down the top of her thigh as he reaches frantically to undo his trousers, fumbling, because he's already starting to come. He is too late; he cannot hold back the rush, and he lets out a strangled cry of frustrated disappointment.

Three little deaths.

---

On Sunday they walk.

In two days they will leave for the winter holiday; however, both Theodore and Pansy are on top of their studies. Neither feels stressed over their impending examinations. They have finished their essays and practised their spells, and all that remains is compulsive note reviewing. It is snowing this day, and they decide a walk around the grounds might be invigorating.

They waddle along like penguins, making their way through the drifts of snow, bundled in wool cloaks and charmed against the cold and wet of the winter.

As they come around the lake the drifts aren't as high and they are able to walk with more ease. Pansy is tense and distracted, but Theodore doesn't sense she's unhappy. He waits for her to tell him what's on her mind, knowing it is of no use to outright ask. They reach a clearing of sorts right off the shore of the lake, and Theodore brushes snow from a large log, making a bench for them to sit on. When she sits, Pansy's shoulder squishes against his own, she is that close, and pulsing frisson shoots through him. He nudges at her temple with his nose, and when she turns her face he kisses her sweetly. When he pulls back he sees a snowflake clinging to her lash; he watches as she blinks and the flake melts and disappears. Pansy's cheeks are red from the cold, and her dark hair and eyes contrast vividly against the snowy white backdrop of the outdoors, and Theodore thinks she looks pretty in a plain, ungarnished way.

"I want to show you something," Pansy delights, after a moment.

"Okay."

She rummages through her pocket and pulls out an envelope and hands it over. Theodore turns it and recognises Draco's handwriting at once. He looks at her. "Seriously?" She nods, her eyes shining brightly, hope mixed there along with trepidation.

Theodore looks at the letter. She's clearly had it in her possession for a while, and he can tell by the fuzz on the crease of the flap where the envelope has been opened and reopened and opened again. The envelope itself is quite possibly the ugliest Theodore has ever seen, and somehow he knows it is a Muggle product. Gingerly he lifts the flap; there is a strange, blue crisscrossing pattern all in the inside of the envelope, and the underside of the flap is a bit sticky to the touch, although it is not wet. He extracts the letter from inside and opens it. It contains one word:

ALIVE

---

He cannot sleep that night.

While he is quite relieved to have an indication that Draco hasn't been killed, he quickly and pragmatically files this away and moves on to bigger, more currently pertinent worries.

He feels threatened by the knowledge that Draco is alive, and this thoroughly embarrasses him in that uncomfortable, deeply private way -- he would never admit this to anyone, for he can barely recognise it for what it is himself. All he knows is he's felt strange and slightly frantic since Pansy showed him Draco's letter, and he finds this frame of mind unsettling and distasteful. At first he'd questioned the letter's authenticity, despite recognising Draco's handwriting; such things could be easily forged. Pansy had assured him she has completed every known revealing charm on the letter. It's definitely from Draco, she had said, and Theodore cannot recall a time where she has looked so openly happy, so happy that its sheer rawness is almost plaintive.

Theodore knows Draco is Pansy's best friend, yet he has always assumed they are more. He is observant obviously, and he's seen Draco and Pansy together over the past six-and-a-half years, has seen how Pansy has always cared for and looked after Draco. She is always the first to attend to Draco's needs, the first to soothe his restlessness, to stroke his hair and pamper him thoroughly. Draco checks Pansy's essays, for Draco is impeccable at spelling and grammar, and Draco surprises Pansy with pots of lilies or irises for her dormitory, and, although he is standoffish in general, Draco touches Pansy with obvious affection. They care for the other's needs, they are always on the watch.

Like a pair of bloody baboons picking fleas off each other, Theodore thinks darkly, alone in his bed, and he wonders (not just a little bit spitefully) if Draco had fleas, would Pansy eat them off him? That's what baboons do, after all. He muses further. It occurs to him that Pansy actually looks somehow strange without Draco attached to her side, as if a favourite accessory has suddenly been lost, leaving her bereft and lost and longing.

Yes, Theodore concludes, the bitter pill sticking in his throat, Draco and Pansy are many things together, but Just Friends isn't one of them.

---

Yet he cannot stop himself from going after her when in January she stoops down to again whisper into his ear: Come and find me . . . . She never initiates overtly, aside from her whispered invitations, but once he's kissing her she responds eagerly, although she will not let him into her knickers after that one encounter. Theodore very much wants to get back into her knickers, but when he skims his fingers up her thigh and under her skirt she stops him.

"Goddamn it!" he finally bursts out, unable to take it any longer. "What the fuck is wrong with you?"

She stares at him, unrepentant. "What?" she asks sulkily.

He squeezes her thigh until she winces. "What do you want from me?" He's hacked off now, tired of her games of hide-and-seek, tired of her wishy-washy, half-hearted ministrations which render him fully at the mercy of her unpredictable, nonsensical whims. His fingernails dig into her flesh.

"What do you want?" she counters, trying to sound tough and unyielding.

Does he have to beat her over the head with his cock? "What do I want?" he parrots back to her with disgusted disbelief. "I want to stop hiding. I want to be with you. I want to . . . be with you!" He can tell by the look on her face that she doesn't quite understand his meaning; she thinks he just wants to shag her. Well, let -her- stew for once. "I want to stop coming in my trousers just 'cos I get near you, that's what!" Crap, he thinks. That last bit he really should not have not said; he reddens, his neck growing hot. "Er--" he begins, but she cuts him off.

"Where do you want to?" she asks, unable to resist probing him for further disclosure, unable to step around the huge admission he's made, that he finds her that attractive.

"Want to what?"

"You know!"

Oh, no. He's going to make her say the word. "No, I don't," he insists smugly.

"Oh for god's sake," she hisses waspishly, rolling her eyes, and then she rises on her tiptoes to whisper into his ear: "Where do you want to?" Come.

His heart swells despite his best intentions to the contrary, and he flattens her against the wall, his intention of making her feel uncomfortable and on the spot abandoned. He reaches up and grasps her face and tilts it, and he runs his other hand up the sleek cording of her neck and rubs little circles right under her ear. He kisses her and when she sweeps her tongue through his mouth he grinds his cock against her, digging hard at her right under her hip. He traces the line of her jaw, the hollow of her throat, her breast, and then lifts his fingers to her bottom lip.

"Right here," he says, so low he can barely hear himself, and Pansy touches the tip of her tongue to his fingers.

"Sit down," she says, pushing at his chest. He sprawls backward onto an old footlocker, and as he stares up at her in surprise she unbuttons her blouse, and then shrugs it off. She kneels before him and pushes his knees apart; she looks up at him neutrally. "I don't really know--" She thinks twice and refrains from finishing the sentence; instead, her fingers fumble at the front of his trousers. He reaches down to help.

When she finally sucks the stiff head of his cock into her mouth, Theodore hisses, for it's the fucking best thing he's ever felt in his life, and he watches, mesmerised by the way her lips stretch around him, and he feels so bloody randy and frantic and male. Pansy's mouth is hot and wet, and he slides his hands inside her bra and arches up, and then he is slamming on hand to the back of her head, and he twines his fingers tightly in the hair at the nape of her neck. He guides her head up and down, up and down, before remembering his manners. He tugs lightly. "This okay?" Relief and elation wash through him when she flicks her eyes upward and shrugs a shoulder, and his eyes close as she works him with her tongue. Her pattern is unlearned and awkward. Desperately he gropes for her hand and practically slams her palm to the base of his cock and drags it downward over the tight rise of his balls. The pressure tips the scale immediately; after all, he is only seventeen . . . "Oh, bloody hell," he says, and he feels brilliant and perfect and frenzied, yet a frisson of clarity cuts through his euphoria. As many times as he has imagined this scenario, imagined fucking Pansy's mouth, imagined slamming his cock down her throat and coming and coming and coming, he is unsure at this moment, but he's already exploding. He lets out a strangled cry and manages to push at her shoulders until her mouth pops free and he feels the cool sensation of air against his wet erection. Drops of come rain down, mostly onto the floor, but when he's finished and capable of vision again he notices the tiniest bit on her chin and that she is rubbing at her neck.

Four little deaths.

Theodore catches his breath and as he does so he realises he would likely die a thousand deaths with her given the chance . . . but not like this.

Not like this.

She leans forward and rests her elbows on his knees, and she cups her chin in her hand and looks up at him expectantly. If Theodore didn't know better he might have thought her adoring. "Why'd you pull away?" she asks.

He shrugs. "I don't know," he says, which is true. He puts his thumb over her chin and rubs, a cold sense of dread filling him. He feels undone.

She tilts her head and peers at him intently, understanding there is a problem but not knowing what it is. "What's wrong?" she asks haltingly.

"Sometimes I just fucking hate you," he bursts out, standing abruptly. He glances at her angrily; there is a flash of hurt in her eyes and Theodore is fiercely glad.

"Wha-- Why would you say that?" she asks; shame creeps over her and she crosses her arms over her chest.

"You asked me what I want," he spits out. "Well, I don't want this." She stands and her face hardens viciously, and Theodore knows if there is to be any hope he needs to clarify right now. "Why are we hiding?"

She is hurriedly putting on her blouse. "You're such a bloody liar! You wanted this!"

He turns her around. "You didn't answer my question," he says flatly. "Why are we hiding?" When she remains silent, he can't help but voice his inner demon. "What, afraid Draco might get an earful someday? Saving yourself?" He snorts. "How noble."

Pansy looks at Theodore as if he's daft. "What a ridiculous thing to say," she counters hotly. "Why would you--"

"You know what?" he asks, cutting her off. "Fuck this. Never mind." He yanks the door open and stalks out. "I'll see you on Sunday."

---

Through the month of February they walk every Sunday, but neither can say a word.

---

In March, Pansy comes to Theodore late one night while the rest of their housemates are in bed and sleeping; he is revising in the common room, and she slips up behind him and nuzzles at his neck. "Theodore . . . ?" she whispers pleadingly, but she doesn't ask.

Come and find me?

He steels himself. "No," he says, staring down at his Charms text.

"Why not?" she whinges, sounding like a two-year-old denied a lolly. Theodore wonders if she will actually erupt into a full-blown tantrum.

He looks at her as neutrally as possible, which is difficult because his senses are already exploding just from her close proximity. His dreams have not waned, and he still can't switch out Daphne for Pansy when he tosses himself off, even though he tries with every fibre of his being. In fact he shuns Daphne's advances now; he'd rather be alone, for at least when he's jerking himself off he doesn't have to close his eyes if he doesn't want to, for he can fuck anyone he wants in the safe confines of his mind, and while he's not overly fond of Daphne other than as a friend, he figures he ought not let her touch him when all he can do is close his eyes and pretend it's someone else. "Maybe you should come and find me. That is, if you ever decide you really want to."

"But I'm here," she says, objecting to his implication. "I want to--"

"Yeah, well, I don't." He cuts her off, not allowing her the opportunity to further worm her way under his skin.

"But why won't you even talk--"

"I just can't, all right?" He likes her too much. He gathers his things hurriedly, feeling hot around the collar. "Stop doing this." He feels her grab at the back of his shirt, trying to keep him from leaving, but he doesn't stop and he doesn't look back and when he shuts himself into his bed at last his chest feels tight and his throat hurts.

He hates her and he wants her and he likes her and he hates her, and doesn't he deserve to be chosen, too?

---

March bleeds into April and Pansy is stranger than ever before. She wears too much eye makeup -- black, sinister eye makeup. She wears that hideous fucking outfit again, and Theodore ignores her for an entire week for this transgression. She catches detention from Slughorn for openly lighting a cigarette and smoking in the common room -- scandalous! One day at lunch she suddenly unpins her Slytherin prefect badge from her school robes and hands it to Tracey Davis. "Here," she says nonchalantly, as if she's passing the jam rather than quitting her prefectship. "I'm done." Just like that.

She brings Theodore a bottle of firewhiskey, but he won't take it from her because he knows what will happen if he gets pissed. He'll want to touch her again, taste her, fuck her hard, and he absolutely won't take the risk of losing control to her. Meanwhile, Pansy drinks the whiskey herself until she's slurring languidly, and she tortures him by whispering in his ear, giving him tiny hints at her favourite fantasies until he's risking another trousers incident. He leaves her passed out on the couch; it only takes four hard jerks on his cock for him to come with a gasp in the boys loo, while thinking of her hot, beautiful mouth.

Five little deaths.

Theodore watches Pansy constantly, although she never knows it; at least this is what he believes. She is strange, yes, but at the same time he's enjoying her antics, for he is actually a rather regimented individual. He closes his eyes and wonders what it would be like to suddenly colour his hair chartreuse and shock his father, except his father is in prison and will die there, and he knows he will not see his father again, so why bother?

It's full spring now, and the Scottish wutherin' is peaking. Wild winds howl and seep into the castle through crevices in the ancient masonry, and the dungeons creak and whistle ominously this time of year, and it reminds Theodore of Pansy -- she will howl through this place on the weird wing of unexpected circumstance, but she will be standing in the end. In the meantime, though, it's a hell of a show, and Theodore's not about to miss a single second. He's never been above living vicariously.

---

June turns over.

N.E.W.T.s really, really suck.

---

It is almost July and Theodore is asleep.

Pansy creeps into the boys' dormitory after midnight; she dulls the Lumos at the tip of her wand after she closes the door behind her so that she has just enough light to reveal the general outline of the furniture. She manoeuvers easily, for she knows this room better than she should. She finds Draco's bed and stretches out across its perfectly placed duvet. It smells stale and unused; the lack of his presence is practically palpable. She does not cry, although she misses him terribly -- oh, so terribly. She whispers a prayer for Draco into the cool centre of his pillow and smoothes the slip as she rises.

Tonight she is not here for or about Draco.

She steals down the row of beds, counting silently: One. Two. Three. Four. Here is Theodore's, the last in the row, Goyle's neighbour. Stealthily Pansy draws the curtains of his bed closed, one at a time, and she casts a stitching charm without speaking, the low, steady sounds of comfortable, deep sleep coming at her from all around. She crawls onto Theodore's bed at the footboards and draws the last curtains shut. His bed smells alive, smells like him, and Pansy feels a warm tug below her bellybutton, and a nervous wave of anticipation flutters through her. Tomorrow is the leaving feast; she has run out of time. Silencio she thinks, casting a heavy silencing charm, and she follows this with a gradual increase of Lumos until Theodore's face is revealed, shadowed and peaceful.

She imagines she is a jaguar as she creeps up the length of his bed, for she doesn't want him to stir -- not yet. She touches his hand; it is resting over his middle and it rises and falls slowly in time with his breathing. She stretches out beside him, resting her head on her arm, and she lays her wand on his stomach and watches him, unrushed and curious.

Theodore opens his eyes after a minute passes and instinctively turns his head toward her. Pansy wonders if he knows her scent as well as she knows his. He rubs at the general vicinity of his eyes with the back of his hand, still half-asleep. "Whar'y'doing?" he mumbles.

Pansy doesn't know how to tell Theodore what she feels inside. She is frozen from nerves, which never happens; if anyone knows how to speak their mind it's Pansy Parkinson, yet as she stares down at Theodore Nott, her tongue feels thick and disobedient. She has to touch him, so she runs her hand over his chest in circles, and she leans down and hovers over him, their noses practically touching.

His eyes are as dark as hers.

Fear wells inside her and she is afraid she will run, so she kisses him, not caring that he has been sleeping. "Please?" she says, against his mouth. "Theodore?"

---

Of course he kisses her back. How can he not? He kisses her and damns her to Hell and back, and gives in. He makes a flailing motion and kicks back his covers. He pulls her down on top of him and locks his fingers through her hair as they kiss, and her wand rolls off his stomach, dimming as it's lost in the folds of his blanket. He slowly fills with sadness, for he knows she will have her way and that will be that, but they're leaving in two days and, well, fuck it. He stifles the poignant swell in his chest.

Pansy sits astride him crushing his cock, the cotton of her knickers and his shorts their only barriers. She peels her t-shirt over her head and he is mesmerised as her body emerges from under its frayed folds. Her eyes are closed; she tosses her shirt blindly and Theodore reaches up with a growl and sinks his fingers into her shoulders. He flips her and settles between her thighs, and drives the hard, blunt head of his cock against her again and again, until he's caught firm in the cleft just above her clit. She cries out and pushes at him, but he doesn't relent.

He presses against her even harder and he kisses her frantically, swirling his tongue against hers, sucking at her mouth eagerly. He rears up finally, blindly tugging at her knickers, pulling them down, and as his fingers pass over them as he makes to discard them at the foot of his bed he notices they are soaked clean through, and when he looks at her cunt in the muted light of Lumos through the blankets it is glistening. "Fuck," he says, under his breath, and he slides his shorts down.

He wastes no time. He pinches the inside of her thigh as he lowers himself back down, and he squeezes the head of his cock and rubs it over her clit, searching . . . fumbling . . . searching, until he slides into some kind of hot, wet groove, which squeezes him to a halt right away. His eyes fly open and he finds Pansy looking at him strangely, her bottom lip caught between her teeth as if she were worried. He is disconcerted, so he kisses her, and he uses his own teeth to tug her lip free. He wants to suck on it. "Is this right?" he murmurs questioningly, and his breath buzzes against her mouth, and he feels her nod, so he hitches his hips and presses into her until she lets out a sharp cry; the tip of his cock is engulfed and it feels exquisite, so exquisite it takes him longer than it should to realise Pansy is still whimpering, and she's pushing desperately at his chest again, and her eyes are frightened and bright. Theodore freezes, the unimaginable unfurling in his mind. He doesn't know whether to stroke her face tenderly or to smack her arse for being so fucking impossible. He grasps her face and commands her attention, his eyes narrowing with suspicion. "Pansy?" he asks carefully, "You've done this before, right?"

---

Pansy shrugs rather helplessly and blinks hard to try and clear her eyes. An embarrassed, burning shame ignites deep in the core of her being and she can't even look at him.

"Pansy?" He sounds disgusted, she thinks.

"What?!" she snaps finally, utterly humiliated. She shoves at him. "Get off of me!" She's preparing to flee, but then she feels his fingers caressing her face, and it's tender.

"Haven't you done this before?" Theodore is gazing at her as if they've just met and he has no idea who she is, and she can only stare back at him defiantly. "Tell me!" He lets his head drop; his forehead skims her nipple. "Okay, clearly you haven't done this before." He is not accusing her; he is merely stating a fact. "But you and Draco-- Oww!" He blinks owlishly; she has thunked him between the eyes angrily with her thumb and middle finger. "What the hell was that for?"

"Draco and I are friends," she says angrily. "I've told you a thousand tim--"

"Rubbish," he sputters, interrupting her as usual. "I'm not stupid, Pansy. I saw--"

She clutches at his neck, forcing him to meet her gaze, and her eyes are clear and serious. "Draco is my friend, Theo," she says in a soft, low voice, and her sincerity cuts through his defences like a knife. "He's my friend. I miss him--" she takes a great, shuddering breath "--so much." Her eyes leak. "He's my best friend and I don't really know how to be--" She breathes deeply again, and then she slips her arms around Theodore's neck and tightens them, and she feels his heart rushing against her breast, and she wants to make him understand. So, when she speaks again it's a gush of words. "I should have seen what was happening to him, I should have known--" Her voice hitches. "I should have done something . . . "

"Something about what?" Theodore is confused.

"Something for Draco, berk!" She rests her face against his shoulder, miserable. "I didn't see it. I just thought he was, I don't know, moody or something." Her voice is very small. "I'm a terrible friend." She sighs deeply.

---

Reluctantly Theodore rolls off her, instantly missing her wet warmth as his cock slips free. He draws her with him and prompts her onto her side, and he pulls her against him until she curls into his chest, as if seeking refuge. "So," he says slowly, trying not to be overly hopeful, "You and Draco . . . ?"

"Are friends." Her voice is muffled but emphatic.

"So you and Draco never--"

"Never," she says fiercely. "It wasn't like that with us."

"But," Theodore says, his brows knitting together thoughtfully, "You two are so . . . physical."

"Maybe so," she answers, regaining a steady voice, "but it wasn't like that. Draco likes to be touched -- you know, just . . . touched."

Theodore trails his fingers over her hip and into the valley of her waist. "Mmm," he says, noncommittally. "What about the flowers?"

She shakes her head, frustrated. "I like flowers. Draco likes chocolate truffles and I was always giving him those. What's the problem?" She waggles her fingers spookily at him, and quips, "Ooo, chocolates for my best friend! A sure sign of illicit, inexcusable slagging . . . "

"Very funny," Theodore says dryly. He feels like a giant arsehole, yes, but more importantly his heart is swelling with joyful, infectious hope, and he grows hyperaware of the feel of her body against him. His cock is as rock hard as ever, and now that he's actively thinking about it his erection intensifies painfully, probably because he's thinking about how Pansy is untouched, and that he had never considered this possible contingency even once. He impulsively peppers her face with kisses and feels her relax in his arms, and he rests his forehead against hers. When he speaks he feels their noses brush. "Can I touch you?"

She nods hesitantly. "I should probably explain," she says, a dreamy quality to her voice, "why I came here . . . "

Theodore is very serious as he responds. "I hope it was for this." Or my dick will fall off, thanks. He pushes at her hip, urging her to give him a little room; she does, and he slides his hand down into her wet, tangled warmth and thrums his fingers carefully. He cannot see her eyes, but he can hear the resignation in her voice.

"Well, even if it's only this once," she says. "I just couldn't leave without--"

"I don't want it to only be this once," Theodore blurts out, for he cannot stop the wonderful swelling feeling in his heart. "I don't want it to be only once . . . " He kisses Pansy ferociously, and this time he does want to devour her completely, and he touches her everywhere. He learns as he goes -- he gently maps her cunt with his fingers, and he leaves hot, streaking trails over the peaks of her breasts as he moves his hand upward, and he slides his fingers over the rise of her chin and rests them against her lips. He touches the tip of his tongue to the corner of her mouth so they can taste her for the first time together. He touches her until she is writhing and circling and pressing up against his hand . . .

"Oh, god . . . " she exhales, her eyes glassy and unfocused.

"Did you do a silencing charm?" Theodore asks urgently.

"Just shut up . . . " She cries out and bucks up against him, and he feels her come, feels her pulsing explosively, and he pulls his hand away the second she jumps from the sensitivity of it all, and she collapses onto her back breathing heavily. She pulls him over her and slides a foot up the back of his ankle. "Come here, Theo," she says after a moment, still a bit winded, and she spreads out under him he's settled back between her thighs, his cock rubbing against her. She circles her arms around his neck and pulls him close, and she kisses him slowly, hotly.

He doesn't want to wait anymore. He finds the same place where he was before, and when the tip of his cock slides inside, just the tip mind, there is a rush so intense he shivers uncontrollably, and it is fierce, so he flattens his body against hers and kisses her, kneading one breast. "Okay," he says, and the he thrusts into her, and while he cares that she blanches with pain and is recoiling, he cannot stop fucking her, so he keeps kissing her, hoping it will help . . . "Oh, I'm sorry . . ." he says finally, with a strangled voice, and he comes and comes and comes inside her, and when he's finished he raises up and puts his hands on her face, and then drops his head to her chest. He can feel her heart beating wildly and he wonders if his own heartbeat matches.

He thinks it probably does.

---

It is a hot summer night, still, with only crickets humming. There is a full moon, which illuminates Hogwarts castle this final night of Harry's era, yet there is no one sitting on the rock wall which winds aimlessly behind Hagrid's hut this night. All the Slytherins are sleeping. Two in particular are curled together, intertwined like an Arabian puzzle ring, risking expulsion even at this late date. They breathe deeply and evenly, the rare, exquisite scent of innocence lost still lingering there, but gradually fading.

---

Theodore shifts awake in the dark and his eyes open sleepily. Pansy's wand, long forgotten at the foot of the bed, still glows faintly with Lumos, and he watches her sleep under its faint glow. He feels drowsy and pleasantly surreal as he settles back against Pansy and he hugs her to him as tightly as he can without waking her. He waits for sleep to overtake him again, sated and complete.

He will die this death, with her, a thousand times over.

::