The thing was, Pansy didn’t much like change. And there had been far too much change of late.
First, her best friend, her soul mate, the man she thought she’d marry, had been stolen from her, and by a Weasley no less. (Well, to be fair, he’d actually been pushed away by his father killing his mother and his own subsequent disenchantment with the entire Dark Lord business, but Pansy was in no mood to be fair.)
Second, Draco had then undertaken to split Slytherin House in two, and she couldn’t, in good conscience, support him. She was certainly not going to do anything to jeopardize her parents’ precarious neutrality, and taking such a stand would bring unwelcome scrutiny. Besides, her other best friend, Millicent, was firmly on the side of You-Know-Who, and Pansy didn’t like to choose between her friends. Draco was the one forcing the choice, so it stood to reason that Draco would be the one to lose.
Third, that snotty little chit Parvati Patil had apparently decided to become a lesbian. Who ever heard of such nonsense? Of course Pansy herself had indulged in late-night activities under the sheets with some of the other girls of her year, but that was school. It didn’t require one to take oneself off the marriage market entirely. After all, had Pansy married Draco—which had been arranged so long ago that she didn’t remember a time when she didn’t know this on some level, as did Draco—no one would have bothered much who Pansy had affairs with, provided she was discreet. Draco as well, and she had seen Draco ogling boys on more than one occasion; he seemed to be the equal opportunity sort. But that was simply another reason they were so well matched.
Clearly Hogwarts was over for her, and while her heart ached at the idea of leaving Millie behind, she wasn’t going to be fighting alongside her anyway. So in early March she wrote to tell her parents, who were in the process of closing the house in England and decamping to their French villa, that she would be joining them at the Easter holiday.
She told no one else. But she did begin slowly and unobtrusively packing, first putting an enlargement charm on her favorite satchel. School things like books and supplies went into her trunk, which she planned to leave behind. School robes remained hanging in the wardrobe, but her more beloved casual clothes, when they came back from the laundry, went straight into the satchel. She’d never been one for many personal items, so they’d be easy to sweep into her bag the day she left.
The night before the holiday she felt strangely sentimental, in a way she never had before, and certainly not about Hogwarts. Of course she had some house pride, but that was as far as it went. Still, sitting at dinner, surrounded by friends, she got a lump in her throat. She even felt a little wistful about not having the Hufflepuffs to insult anymore. She brought Millie into her bed that night, and if the other girl knew that something was different she didn’t let on. Pansy couldn’t tell her; Millie told her parents nearly everything and Pansy couldn’t risk anything happening to her own family. The kissing and petting was heartfelt, if a bit bittersweet, and she fell asleep with Millie’s arms around her.
Pansy slipped out first thing in the morning, her satchel over her shoulder. She wasn’t taking the Hogwarts Express; instead her parents were meeting her in Hogsmeade and from there they’d take the Floo first to their mostly closed house and then to France. She was silent as a mouse, tip toeing out of the room and down the stairs and was nearly at the door of the common room when she saw Draco sitting in one of the big chairs in the center of the room.
“Early morning for you, isn’t it, Draco?” she asked.
“You mean late night,” he said. “Haven’t been sleeping. But where are you going at this hour?”
Pansy glanced around the room and, seeing no one, decided to take a chance. Millie was dangerous, but who could Draco tell? “I’m leaving school.”
Draco nodded, as if he’d been expecting it, and his lips turned up into a sad half-smile. “You’re leaving,” he replied, “and you weren’t even going to say goodbye.”
“I’m saying it now,” she replied. “We’re off to France, Mother and Father and I, for however long this all takes.”
“I can’t convince you of something else?” he asked.
She shook her head. “I can’t fight against her,” she said. “Don’t ask me to.”
“All right,” he replied. “And don’t worry; I won’t say a word until you’re safely gone.”
Draco stood to pull her close and Pansy relaxed into his arms.
“Hugging, Draco?” she said into his shoulder. “You’ve been spending too much time with Gryffindors.”
“Probably,” Draco replied, and after a bit he let her go. “I’m sorry, you know. About everything.”
“So am I,” she replied. As she walked away she added, “Don’t let that Potter talk you into doing anything stupid.”
She didn’t see anyone else as she made her way outside and she was well down the drive before she saw a girl drop out of the tree in front of her. Pansy was so startled she dropped her satchel, but the girl landed on her feet.
“Gryffindors sleep in trees now?” Pansy asked, recovering from the surprise.
Parvati Patil—for of course it was she; that was just the way Pansy’s life had been going lately—stood in the drive in front of her. “Running, are you?”
“Going home for the holiday is hardly running,” Pansy replied. “And how did you know I would be out here?”
“Sometimes I know things. I also know that the Hogwarts Express doesn’t leave for another eight hours,” Patil pointed out, crossing her arms.
“I’m meeting my parents for breakfast in Hogsmeade, if you must know,” she said.
“So you’re all running,” Patil said. “How brave of you.”
“Oh grow up, Patil,” Pansy said. “This isn’t my fight, and I refuse to battle my friends over something I don’t believe in. You don’t have to make those kinds of choices, do you?”
“Then you can’t tell me how to make my choice,” she said, picking up her satchel. “Now if you’ll excuse me.” Pansy walked past Patil but only got two steps before the girl was talking again.
“Are you sure that’s why you’re running?” she asked.
Pansy sighed and turned back. “What is that supposed to mean?”
Patil shrugged. “Only that you’ve been even more hostile toward me since I came out than you were before.”
“And you think what?” Pansy shook her head. “Listen, I’ve spent far more time under the covers with girls than you have, but you don’t see me needing to proclaim it to the world. Honestly, what does sexuality have to do with whom you marry?”
“What is this, 1935?” Patil replied. “There have been witches and wizards living openly for generations now.”
“That’s all well and good if you’re middle class,” Pansy said. “But our sort runs on breeding, as I’m sure your mother taught you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means you set your little personal lusts aside for the good of others.”
“And that’s worked out so well for you.”
“You don’t know anything about me!” Pansy replied, furious. “You think you know what I’m like? I’ll show you.” She grabbed Patil’s collar and pulled her down, as she had a good four inches on Pansy, and kissed her.
In the half second that Pansy had thought before she acted, she figured Patil would be shocked, and then submit to her as girls usually did. But after Patil recovered from that initial surprise she gave as good as she got, deepening the kiss. Pansy pushed Patil against the tree, putting everything she had into the kiss, making her point however she could.
They pulled apart at last, breathless, and Patil sagged against the broad trunk.
“I should be going,” Pansy said, picking up her satchel where she’d dropped it.
“Yeah,” Patil said. Her eyes were wide, her lips soft and wet, and if before she’d been without question the most beautiful witch at Hogwarts, now she was the most beautiful witch Pansy had ever seen.
“You won’t tell anyone, will you?”
Patil shook her head, still staring at Pansy and looking a bit shocked, which was what Pansy had wanted, wasn’t it?
Pansy turned and walked down the road, not trusting herself to say another word or she’d lose her resolve.
Later she wouldn’t remember much of the actual journey, only the relief in seeing her parents and in getting away. Over that next year, she waited for news of the war at home, and it was no secret that Draco and Millie weren’t far from her thoughts. But if she also sent good wishes to a certain Gryffindor, well, that was no one’s business but her own.