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I whistle appreciatively as Pansy walks down the stairs, a knockout in tight green silk. She grins, flattered by my attention, but I'm not the the one she wants to impress. I ignore the ache in my chest as her eyes eagerly seek out Draco, who's leaning negligently against the wall. He doesn't notice how good she looks, and he certainly doesn't notice the way her face falls at his indifference. Hell, I probably wouldn't notice it either, if I hadn't spent the past several years making a habit of learning every one of Pansy's expressions.

"You look stunning," I murmur as she reaches the bottom step.

"Thank you, Blaise," she says, before kissing me lightly on the cheek. I wonder if she notices the way I shiver, just a little, at her touch.

She pulls back, her eyes warm and soft as she takes me in, and just for a moment, I think maybe, this time, she'll see me. I do look rather dashing in my black tux, after all. Instead, like always, her eyes meet mine for a brief moment before sliding over my shoulder, honing in on whatever space Draco is currently occupying.

Theo's engagement party is in full swing by the time we arrive—we'd never dare to be anything other than fashionably late. Draco snags two glasses of champagne from a passing waiter, before gallantly passing one to Pansy.


"You always did know the key to my heart," Pansy says, with far too much sincerity. Draco doesn't notice, but I do. I always do.

Jealousy seethes in my stomach, but I'm familiar enough with it by now to be able to tamp it down. It's not Draco's fault that Pansy's in love with him. It's not his fault that she's not in love with me.

She takes a sip of the bubbling champagne, her lips cradling the delicate glass. I want to taste the bubbles off her skin, suck the sticky, sweet vintage from the hills and valleys of her body.

"Are you all right, Blaise?"

The words are genuine, caring, and it sets my heart racing. She cares for me, I know she does, and no matter how foolish it is, I can't quiet the small voice inside that wonders if maybe that care could one day deepen. I don't know why I keep torturing myself with this wretched hope.

And then I look into her lovely eyes, and I remember.

"Of course, Pansy," I lie. "I'm absolutely fine."