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Pansy Parkinson forced herself to meet her own eyes in the glass above her bathroom sink, a sense of surprise blooming in her gut as her eyes moved from feature to feature across the glass.  She felt messy, unkempt, but didn't look it, thankfully.  The mascara she was sure had flaked below her eyes wasn't there, tight skin clear of darkness felt but not seen.  

It had rained while they were in the pub.  Orange lights glowed up from the puddles on the asphalt as she walked home, and now reflected through her windows, cloaking her flat in eerie light and sleepy shadows.  She was alone, but she hadn't been.

The usual crowd had been there, Blaise and Draco and Theo, and as the night progressed the pub’s walls widened to accommodate the growing party.  As time swept past in a swirl of sparkling drinks and prickly, good natured arguments, Pansy felt tired.   He wasn't there, and she hated herself for missing him as she watched his boisterous friends drink and socialize across the room.  

She downed the rest of her drink in a gulp.  Putting the glass down and pushing her stool back from the high top table, Pansy rose to leave with only the slightest wobble of her heels as they hit the sticky floor.  “I'm out,” she said as she grabbed her sequined bag to leave.

Blaise scoffed.  “So early? You get some fancy new job and now you're all old and boring and responsible?  Too good for us now?”

“Are you feeling okay?” Draco cut in.  “Don't listen to him, Pans.  You know we’re all proud of you for taking on your family's seat on the Wizengamot.”

“Yeah, yeah,” she said, brushing her lips against Draco’s cheek.  “Just tired.  Don't do anything I wouldn't do.”

“Taking off my shirt now, love,” Theo teased.  “Better bring me at least another bottle or two of fizzy wine and find me someone to fight!”

With a final scan of the crowd, Pansy raised her middle fingers in a farewell gesture aimed at Theo, eyes tracing every dark head in the pub for restless, relentlessly mussed hair.  But no unkempt heads materialized, as she knew wouldn't, so she slipped past Granger and Weasley’s latest argument, avoiding Thomas and Finnegan with their tongues down each other’s throats and a stream of people flowing around the bar as she made her way toward the heavy wooden door.  

The several block walk over glowing, rain dampened streets would help clear the obsessive fog in her head, she decided, and opted not to apparate.  Swift steps, brisk from the tension churning in her stomach, led to a hasty walk home.  

She let herself into her darkened flat, dropping her bag on the table by the door, and navigated toward her bedroom by feel.  

The same thought echoed in her head as she unstrapped the cuffs of her silver stilettos from around her ankles:  “This isn't me.”

This isn't me.

This isn't me.

Pulling her black dress over her head and depositing it carelessly on the chair in the corner, she entered her bathroom and lit the lights over the sink, forcing herself to face herself in the mirror.

This isn't me.

A glowing blue light shot out from the wall, and a stag materialized to circle her as she stood and she gasped.  His voice rang out into the silence of the flat, “Malfoy said you left.  I'm coming up.”

Seconds later, her wards tingled and her door swung open.  She stayed at the sink, eyes locked to those reflecting back at her, hands grasping the lip of the porcelain pedestal.  She could hear him bump into the table in her kitchen, scratch his jacketed elbow against the wall of the hall.  Three deep breaths and he was behind her, pea coat coarse on the bare skin of her back and the combination of beard and lips on her neck radiating shivers through her body.

“Hey,” he whispered, hands shifting slowly up her body, from her hips up to the underside of her breasts.

“Hi,” she responded, relief flooding her belly at his touch, contradicting the refrain of this isn't me still circling her mind.

He stepped back, grabbing her hand to lead her to her bed, shedding his coat as they went.  He laid down on top of her duvet and gently pulled her down on top of him.  His fingers traced the knobs of her spine, the curve of her ass as he kissed her as deeply as he ever had.

This was everything, and nothing, and her brain screamed.   This isn't me.  This IS me, but this isn't me...

“I can't do this,” she said, shifting off of him to the other side of the bed.

He blinked at her as the orange light from the window played across his face.  “What’s wrong?  Why?  What did I do?”

The words exploded out of Pansy.  “We’re orbiting, Harry.  We’re orbiting around each other and we just keep passing each other by and this doesn't mean anything, really, so I can't keep just fucking you.”

She slid out of her bed, toes with black nails pacing relentlessly against the cream of the rug on the hardwoods, as everything Pansy didn't want to admit to herself, let alone Harry, rolled off her tongue and exploded like fireworks into the static between them.

“You with your stupid restless hair and your stupid beautiful green eyes and your stupid ridiculous abdominal muscles and your stupid damn hero complex that has you saving every fucking person except for yourself.  And me, but I don't need you to save me.  As much as I don't want you to, I just want you to give a shit, Harry. I can't do this anymore.  I just can't.”


“I have a job now, Harry.  A serious fucking job with real fucking responsibility and I've outgrown all of these vices, staying out till all hours and drinking my weight and being a fucking spectacle and fucking you in secret when you’re lonely and hating yourself or I'm lonely and hating myself.  I have a brain and opinions about how this fucking world should work and this is real life, Harry, but Merlin help me because I’d just as soon tell you to fuck off for being so fucking aggravating but fuck if the only fucking thing that's missing from my life now is you, you asshole.”

She gasped in a breath as he watched her in the orange glow of the light from the windows, and the stark light flooding from the bathroom.  “I wish I knew why I miss you like I've a hole in me when I wake up and you're gone.  I don't want to miss you like that.  I don't want to miss anyone like that.  That's not me.  So I think you should leave.  Now.  Just go.”

“Pansy, just give me a damn second…”

“Harry, just leave.  Please,” she insisted as she threw the grey wool of his coat at him, stomping off to open the front door of her flat, sliding herself between the door and the wall.  

“I want to talk about this, Pansy.”

“Just go get shitfaced with Weasley again or whatever you do.  He was fighting with Granger again and has to be ripe for a bitchfest about how women are terrible and your not-friend with benefits let you down.”

“Pansy!” Harry said, grasping the edge of her door.  “Do you know what I fucking told Malfoy tonight at the pub?  I asked him if you’d been there, if you'd left already.  He asked me what I wanted with you, and do you know what I told him?  I told him we’d been seeing each other for a while, privately, and I wanted to see you.  I fucking told him.”

“What?  Why would you do that?” she exclaimed, blinking wildly in the orange light and backing into the wall behind her.

“Because it's the truth, Pansy,” he said, reaching out to run his fingers across her cheekbones, along her jaw.  “I'm tired of making sure I leave before you wake up.  I'm tired of pretending that all there is between us is animosity and barbs and being assholes and fucking when we feel like it.  This isn't just you.”

Gradually Pansy let him press the door out of her hand to close it.  She stayed rooted in the spot, pressing her naked back against the wall, the corner of a frame digging into her shoulder.  Harry dropped his coat at his feet.

“It's been three years, Pansy.  Three years is a long time to pretend we aren't feeling anything, and I'm tired of it, too,” he said, unable to hold himself back as he crushed her to him.  

“Come on, Pans,” he said into her hair, lifting her off the ground as she fisted her hands into his shirt.  She was unable to keep the corners of her red lips from shifting upward as she rested her head on his shoulder.  “Let’s go back to bed.  We’ll talk.”