The lift doors opened and Pansy could already hear a faint thumping coming from flat 13b. Soft moaning floated down the corridor, getting louder as she speed-walked to 13c and fumbled for her keys.
“Oh… Oh… Oh…” The person on the other side of the door sounded like they were stepping into a hot bath of chocolate orgasms — sighs and pants and “Oh… Oh… Oh...”
“Oh give it up,” Pansy muttered under her breath as she felt a newly painted nail snag on the silk lining of her handbag. “Fuck it.” She turned the bag upside down, sending pens and makeup rolling across the putty-coloured hall carpet. Tissues, a packet of ice mice, her reading glasses. No keys. “Fuck.”
“Fuck!” The person inside 13b apparently agreed with Pansy’s assessment of the situation. “Oh… Oh… Oh fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. FuckFuckFuckFuckFuck...” They carried on, getting louder and louder, filthier and filthier. It wouldn’t be so bad, Pansy told herself, if they didn’t sound so bloody grateful. “Oh… Oh… Oh Neville.” At least this one knew his name. Last week Pansy could have sworn she heard someone crooning Nigel through their shared living room wall. “Don’t stop, oh! D-don’t stop, oh, oh, oh-”
“He’s clearly not going to stop, is he?” Pansy glared at the invisible voice. “I’m on the wrong side of the door and I can tell you that much.”
“Yes!” The voice agreed, apparently convinced by Pansy’s argument.
“For the love of— Accio keys!” She cast with slightly more force than usual, her wand slashing through the air, and two things happened at once. One very good and one very very very bad. The good thing was that Pansy’s own keys erupted from the pocket of her robes and sprung into her hand. The very very very bad thing was that another pair of keys zipped out from under Neville’s front door. The moaning stopped.
Moving faster than the speed of light, Pansy unlocked the door of her flat and slipped inside. The pens, tissues, makeup and reading glasses would have to fend for themselves. Pressing herself to the door — and carefully garrotting the thought that the person in Neville’s flat might currently be in a similar position — she peered through the peephole. The hall remained empty.
“Oh!” A joyful cry broke the silence. Clearly Neville was a man on a mission. Sighing with what she told herself was relief, Pansy opened the door long enough to Accio the abandoned contents of her handbag. “Oh… Oh… Oh… Oh...” The cries grew as Pansy kicked off her heels. Sighing again, she grabbed her Weasley Wireless Wonderphones and headed to the kitchen in search of wine.
After he’d given his invisible lover approximately 5 million more orgasms, Neville turned up on Pansy’s doorstep in search of his keys.
“Sorry about that,” he said, shifting from foot to foot. “Don’t know how it happened. One moment they were in my pocket and the next—” he made a whooshing gesture “—gone.”
“Mm.” She took a sip of tea, watching him over the rim of the mug. “You must have been very close to the door, for my Accio to steal your keys.”
“Yeah well…” Neville went a little pink, grinning at her. “You know how it is. Er… should be heading off. Thanks.” He raised the keys in a half-salute.
“Ta-ta.” Pansy raised her mug, biting the inside of her cheek as Neville stumbled over the hall runner. “Careful. You almost ended up on your knees.”
“Oh fuck off!” He laughed.
Shaking her head and trying not to smile, Pansy shut the door.
“Do we have any more wine?” Daphne was staring in admiration at Pansy’s living room wall. “Or maybe a ciggie? If this carries on much longer...” She trailed off, eyes fixed on the wall. The wall through which a series of delighted grunts were filtering. “Who’d have thought? Longbottom the love god.”
“Time to stop talking,” Astoria piped up from where she was sprawled across Pansy’s rug. It was late, Pansy decided — too late to listen to the Greengrass sisters sniping at each other.
“We’re out of wine,” Pansy said, shoving a half-full bottle behind one of the sofa cushions. “And you need to leave so I can go to bed.”
“Really?” Daphne finally abandoned the wall, tipping her head back to smirk at Pansy. “Are you feeling inspired? Maybe you should pop next door for a sample.” She gestured as if she were grating a block of cheese. “Hannah says he’s very good at it and-”
“I’m going to bed.” Pansy stood up, working hard not to sway as the room danced around her. She was, she realised, utterly furious. Furious with Daphne and furious with herself. “Don’t be here when I wake up. Night night, Tori.” She blew Astoria a kiss.
“Night night, Pans.” Astoria gave her a sleepy wave. Daphne carried on staring at the wall. The wall continued crying out in ecstasy.
Pansy woke up in a foul mood. It was mainly the wine, she reminded herself. The evil, evil, evil wine. Noises floated through from the kitchen. Not orgasm noises, for once, but coffee noises. Astoria and Daphne must have stayed over. The coffee machine made the low grumble that indicated it was half full. Another few minutes, then.
The sun was up, she realised, creeping through the Nox-charms on her curtains and warming the patch of duvet lying across Pansy’s legs. Remembering her foul mood, she kicked out at the duvet, pushing it onto the floor and letting the sun stripe her legs. Maybe she’d had a bad dream? It had been a few years since she’d had a nightmare, and the angry, spikey feeling in her chest made Pansy wonder if they’d started up again.
No. A memory popped into her head of a broad shoulder pressing against the back of her thigh, big hands hooking her knee over a shoulder and a shaggy head of blonde hair moving, rising and falling as Pansy arched into the feeling. Fuck.
“Oh no.” She sighed, rubbing both hands across her face. “No, no, no.” She did not want this. She did not want to hear her loud, Gryffindor neighbour having loud, Gryffindor sex. She did not want to think about her loud, Gryffindor neighbour having loud Gryffindor sex. And she absolutely, by the stars above and the shrivelfigs below, did not want to dream about her loud, Gryffindor neighbour having loud, Gryffindor sex with her awkward, Slytherin self.
Coffee. That’s what she wanted: a big mug of coffee. She would drink her big mug of coffee and giggle with Astoria and tell Daphne to shove her… her… her insinuations up her boney arse and then—
Blinking rapidly, Pansy realised that the promise of coffee had carried her into the kitchen.
“Hello.” Neville was sitting at the table. His slippered feet were curled around the legs of the chair and he was drinking out of Pansy’s Holyhead Hos mug.
“You.” It wasn’t the most articulate sentence Pansy had ever constructed, but it did the job.
“Sorry.” He pushed a second mug of coffee across the table towards her. The movement made his t-shirt lift at the back, exposing the curve of his hip and a hint of belly. “Er, this is for you.” He gave the coffee another nudge. “Astoria Greengrass let me in. Well...” He rubbed the back of his neck and grinned up at Pansy. “She didn’t so much let me in as drag me out of bed and push me through the door.”
“Oh no.” Pansy sank into a chair, reaching unseeingly for the coffee. “Why? What, ah, were you… Sorry if she, um, disturbed you.”
“S’fine,” said Neville, going a bit pink. “I was already awake. She said that I owed you an apology. Said that I’d been, em, bit of a noisy neighbour.” He shrugged, shooting her a tentative grin. Pansy was, she realised, utterly fucked.
“Toast,” she said. “Make me some toast. Please. That can be your apology.”
“Toast.” The grin grew. “That’s all you want.”
‘That’s a start,’ is what Pansy could have said. She could have leaned forward, crossing her arms under her tits and giving him the coy little smile that used to drive Theo to distraction.
“Toast isn’t easy to get right,” Is what she actually said. “It takes a lot of skill. You’ll probably mess it up.”
“Is that so?” He sat back in his chair. “You think I can’t make toast?”
“Good toast,” she said, raising an eyebrow. “I want good toast. Not a stick of charcoal or a limp bit of sunburnt bread. Proper toast, Mr. Longbottom.”
“Alright, Ms Parkinson.” He laughed. “Toast.”
From that morning on, whenever Neville had someone over he’d pop ‘round the next day and make Pansy a stack of toast. After a while he started bringing the kind of bread she liked, the stuff with the seeds that Theo used to complain got stuck in his teeth. Pansy started buying the tea that Neville preferred. Sometimes she’d even join him for a cup, although it still made her mouth tingle and tasted like cigarettes.
They didn’t talk about the war. Sometimes Pansy found herself watching Neville and wondering if this cheerful bear of a man was really the trembling, scrawny schoolboy who slayed Nagini. Then Neville would tell her a story about Luna’s flock of tame Nargles, or Ginny’s latest triumph on the Quidditch pitch, and Pansy would see both the boy and the man who could protect his friends so fiercely and went on to live his life so joyfully.
Neville watched her as well. She felt his eyes on her, especially during the hot summer mornings when she forgot her dressing gown and fumbled her way to the kitchen wearing only shorts and a t-shirt. It was tempting to press the matter. She had more than enough skimpy, lacey things hidden away: négligées and boy shorts and coy smiles and all sorts of things that she instinctively knew wouldn’t have much effect on Neville. Or at least the effect she was after.
“What are you after?” Millicent asked. They were having lunch at the Italian bistro next to the Ministry—giant plates of linguini and tiny coffees to follow; then back to cataloguing Arthur Weasley’s bubblewrap collection. Pansy had popped so many bubbles that she was developing calluses on her right thumb and forefinger.
“I want him to keep making me toast,” she said.
“Tosh. You want him to keep, or at least start, making you orgasm.”
“Vile, and no.” Pansy frowned at her empty water glass. “I don’t want that. Well, I don’t just want that. I want the toast, orgasms and everything in between.”
“Oh.” Millicent shifted, maybe a little taken aback by Pansy’s outburst of Gryffindor earnestness. “And do you think he wants the same?”
“I don’t know.”
“Don’t be silly, darling, how could he not?” Millicent flicked her wand to refill their water glasses and leant across the table, capturing Pansy’s free hand. “Now. Speaking of silly, are you going to Blaise’s Slytherdor Soirée this eve?”
Pansy did not go to the Slytherdor Soirée. She stayed in, enjoying the silence emanating from Neville’s flat, and thought about what Millicent had said. She wanted a bit more than toast from Neville, that was true. But was there really such a rush? He’d shown himself to be—
“Oh! Oh Neville. Fuck!”
And there went Pansy’s quiet night in.
“Fuck!” A series of grunts filtered through the wall, followed by something smashing and a high-pitched giggle. “Oh, oh fuck. Yes, yes, oh! Yes please!” It went on.
It went on.
The voice seemed to get louder and louder, until Pansy could close her eyes and believe herself in the same room as Neville and his latest paramour. This turned out to be a terrible idea, as now it was all she could think about.
“Hnghh hnghh hnghh HNGHH!!”
Jumping to her feet, Pansy went to grab her Wonderphones, only to find that they were missing.
“Fuck.” She sighed.
“Fuck!” Sighed the wall.
Turning slowly on the spot, Pansy assessed her options. She could go out, but it was already late and all her friends were cluttering up the Slytherdor Soirée. She could cast a Silencio at the wall, but the building owners were very strict about structural spellcasting. She could ask them to be quiet. Couldn’t she? Resolved, Pansy grabbed her keys and marched into the hall.
The moans and grunts and cries were quieter out here, although still audible. Honestly, didn’t Neville’s other neighbours have anything to say about this? Was Pansy really the only one suffering? Lifting her hand, she made a fist and started hammering on the door, hitting the plywood in time with the muffled moans.
After a few thumps the sounds of pleasure died away and footsteps approached the door. Pansy stopped hammering, only for the footsteps to stop as well.
“Really?” She started banging again, raising her voice. “Open the door, Neville. Open this bloody door before I blast it off its hinges and—”
The door burst open, revealing a flushed Neville. His shirt was held closed by a single button, his hair was mussed, his cheeks pink and there was lipstick on his jaw. The realisation slammed into Pansy that there were many universes between hearing some loud stranger through a wall, and actually seeing Neville’s sex hair.
“Sorry Pans,” he panted, leaning against the door jamb. “I did cast some Silencios, but the building owners…” He trailed off, giving her a soft smile. “We’ll try to keep it down, alright?” Pansy’s throat felt tight. She wasn’t completely sure that she could speak, and so she nodded.
“Pansy?” a familiar voice called from the living room. “Is that you? Sorry darling, were we a bit loud? Neville? Are you going to be long?” It was Daphne’s voice, still a little hoarse from all that wall thumping and clearly keen for more.
“I…” Pansy opened and closed her mouth. “Y-yes it’s me.” She watched as Neville rubbed a hand across his face. “That you, Daphne?”
“In a minute,” Neville called, his eyes fixed on Pansy. “Listen,” he softened his voice. “Listen, I, um…”
“I have to go.” She held up a hand, already turning towards her own front door.
“Stop.” She spun back around, noting with alarm that Neville looked about ready to follow her.
“Are you alright?”
“Okay.” Neville took a step into the hall. “It just seems like maybe you’re not 100% fine. Maybe 99% fine.” He smiled at her. “But not 100%. So if there’s anything I can do?”
“You can go for dinner with me.” Pansy’s voice sounded like it was underwater. “Tomorrow evening,” she continued, noting Neville’s bewildered expression. “No toast. Proper food, in a restaurant. Does that sound, um—” she frantically thought back to the last time someone had asked her out. “Does that sound like something you would like to do?”
“Are you serious?” Neville was starting to smile.
“Very.” Pansy tried to make a serious expression, but it wasn’t easy with him smiling at her like that.
“Alright.” He was beaming now, small laughter lines appearing at the corners of his eyes. “Sounds good. I’ll come pick you up. 8?”
“8 is good. Um—” she gestured towards the door. “I should go find my Wonderphones.”
“Right.” Neville didn’t move, just carried on smiling at her.
“And you should go back inside,” she said, freezing as the words struck home. “Back into your flat! I didn’t… stop laughing!”
“Yeah.” He kept laughing. “Right. Alright if I watch you walk back to your apartment, before going back into mine?”
“I suppose.” Pansy took a deep breath, smoothing her hands over the front of her jumper. “See you tomorrow. Good night.”