“All right, darling, where should I put Athena's perch?” Daphne stroked her owl's feathers affectionately, smiling as her pet nuzzled up against her. Daphne had been in the very best of moods recently, feeling almost as though she were constantly floating above the ground. She would have joked about eating too many Fizzing Whizbees, but she was certain Pansy would throttle her for it.
“Really?” Pansy's voice was a drawl, coming from somewhere at the other end of the flat. She poked her head out from the doorway to the kitchen, a cup of tea in her hands. “Athena? Just name her Owl, why don't you.”
“Oh, hush,” Daphne responded, though she couldn't help but to grin. “As though you hadn't named yours Barny back in school.”
“That was a momentary lapse in judgment,” Pansy said, pointing at Daphne as she crossed into the room, plopping down upon their sofa. “Don't you dare use my childhood against me.”
“I can't recall anything negative about your childhood,” Daphne said, with a knowing smirk. “I'll just keep her on my side of the bedroom then.”
Pansy took a sip of tea and put her cup down on the end table, swinging her legs up into Daphne's lap. “Story,” she demanded, leaning back.
Daphne summoned her book and opened it, clearing her throat before she began. In the two weeks since they moved in together, they had already settled into a routine, snuggling up on the sofa after dinner whilst Daphne read aloud from her novels. Although they had never been close at Hogwarts, Daphne had willingly accepted Pansy's offer to share a flat, and it was as though she had been there forever.
She got through one chapter and was just beginning the second when Athena came swooping back into the room with a letter, dropping it into Pansy's lap. “It's for you,” Pansy said, holding up the little scrap of parchment. The resentment was practically solid coming off her lips. “Your beau awaits.”
Daphne closed the book and set it neatly on the end table beside Pansy's empty cup. “You knew I had plans,” she said, scooping Pansy's legs off her as she snatched at the note. Blaise had the most beautiful handwriting, and his notes were always so sweetly written. She would pretend it didn't bother her that he never spoke as well as he wrote. Either way, it was a request for her presence, and she would answer to it gladly.
She'd only been seeing Blaise for a month but she was deliriously happy with him. He treated her to so many wonderful things and was always up for adventure. Daphne had felt swept off her feet from the first moment they'd reconnected.
Pansy, however, had remained unimpressed. “I don't know what you see in him,” she scoffed, shuffling off towards the kitchen. “All he's ever been good at is using people and spending money.”
“Like you'd know,” Daphne countered, as she searched for her good heels. “You've been practically drinking Invisibility Potions trying to avoid ever seeing him.”
“I've seen more than enough. He was in my circle back in school, remember.”
“That was ages ago,” Daphne replied. “People change, dear. Or did you wish me to expose Draco's forearm the next time you bring your friend over here?”
Pansy made a face of disgust and ducked out of the room, which Daphne took to be an adequate answer.
Of course it started out as a fairy tale, but reality seldom follows happily ever after. Blaise began to seem less excited to see Daphne for their outings, wrote her less romantic letters, began to ignore her more and touch her less. She tried to see the best in him, tried to remember the spark they'd shared, but her memory grew hazy.
Months went by and it was all in a daze, a whirlwind of up and down, days where Blaise made her feel amazing followed by nights of him flitting away during parties, cancelling dates at the last moment, flirting with other women and belittling her when she questioned it. ”I'm charming by nature; you're well aware of my methods. It means nothing to me. Stop being so sensitive.”
They could have fancy things, fine china and elaborate dinner parties, house elves tending to their food and cleaning needs, the latest and most expensive means of transport, silk sheets and expensive dinners. They could go anywhere they liked, at a moment's notice, spend as much time as they wished, experienced the most lavish and elite amusements. They could wear personally-tailored robes and diamonds. They could stand on a balcony in the most expensive flat in Paris and drink champagne while looking up at the stars. But if Blaise spent that time ranting angrily about his work colleagues, sending owl post to other people, and not laying a single finger upon his partner, did it even matter if Daphne were there for any of it?
She lay awake late into the night, listening to his gentle snoring beside her, and wondered what exactly she felt she was accomplishing in her life. Then she slipped out of bed and walked to the desk, pulling a piece of parchment out the drawer and writing a very long letter to Pansy, one which attempted to describe her life in glowing happy words while still somehow conveying the complete and utter sadness staining all of it.
It was madness, but it was a sudden shining beacon in the darkness: it was Pansy she really wanted to be with on that balcony in Paris.
They lay on the floor, staring up at the ceiling. Pansy reached over and touched Daphne's hand, laced their fingers together tightly. “You know you deserve better,” she said.
“Do I.” Daphne's voice was flat. She felt empty inside, as though she'd been completely hollowed out.
Pansy scoffed. “Of course you do.”
“I've never gotten anything wonderful in my life. I spent my school years on the outskirts. I never had a serious love before this one, which turned out to be a lie. My parents have always preferred my sister to me.” She paused. “You're the only person who ever puts me first.”
Pansy swallowed hard beside her. “Because I love you, you idiot.”
“I love you too,” Daphne said, her voice small and trembling. She exhaled sharply, sniffed. “Possibly I only love you.” Her stomach twisted as the words fell out of her mouth. She had never considered such a thing until that very moment. And yet it felt more right than anything she'd said in weeks.
“That's bollocks,” Pansy replied quickly. “You love your family too.”
“Yes. I suppose. But.” Another long pause; Pansy's fingers twitched. “It's not quite the same.”
Silence settled in. They had long silences at various points in their relationship, but none such as this. Silence was once a comfort; they would sit or lie together, savoring the peaceful quiet which lay like a soft warm blanket over their souls. This silence was different. This silence sat heavy as a stone, a hail of sharp objects, a vice tightening without release, without relief. This silence was deafening.
Daphne felt her ears ringing and her muscles straining beneath her skin. She could feel Pansy twitching beside her, shared her silent struggle over whether and how to move, what to do, where to go from that moment. A twitch, a half-shifting, and then Pansy rolled over, lifting herself up on one elbow and looking down at Daphne. Their eyes met and a bolt of electricity shot between them. “You know,” said Pansy, and fell silent.
“No,” Daphne replied, in nearly a whisper. “I don't.”
“I think you do,” said Pansy, and kissed her.
Daphne moaned nearly immediately, for the kiss was an explosion. She had been kissed before, of course, but it had never felt quite like this, for the intensity of the fire was a shock to her system. Daphne leaped up into it and rose off the floor, put her hands on Pansy's face and neck. Their lips pressed together again and again, mouths parting into one another, little gasps and moans escaping the minuscule space between them.
They came apart and Pansy searched Daphne's eyes deeply, pupils darting back and forth. Both of their hearts were beating frantically, a staccato rhythm between them. “This is okay,” she gasped, breathless.
Daphne said nothing, nodded quickly and pulled Pansy back in, kissing her fiercely, nipping at her lower lip. Part of Daphne's brain wavered, wanting to respond to the question, wanting to determine if this was tearing apart the seams of their friendship. But something else had gained control now, the base animal of her soul, and it didn't give a fuck about anything other than kissing Pansy.
If it ruined their friendship, so be it. In that moment nothing mattered but their own desperation.
Later, after, Daphne started crying. It was silent but she knew Pansy could feel it, feel the subtle shaking beside her, the little gasps for air, the twitching of limbs as she wiped her eyes. Pansy reached over to touch Daphne, placing her hand on Daphne's arm, tugging gently to turn her around. She moved Daphne's hair out of her eyes, touched Daphne's cheek. “Stop that,” Pansy said, voice low, firm yet loving, trembling and desperate.
“Sorry,” Daphne gasped, hoarse. She coughed lightly. “I just. I'm confused. I don't know....”
“Okay,” Pansy replied. She paused, taking a deep breath. “So take your time, and figure it out. I'm not pushing anything on you, love.”
Daphne blinked at her. There was a stillness to her, as though she had been paused in the act, her eyes glistening with tears that would not fall. She felt as though moving could break a spell of sorts, could have Pansy change her mind about her, about the whole thing.
“Just please don't cry,” Pansy continued. “You know how I hate it when you cry.”
And then suddenly a burst of laughter; Daphne's mouth opened in some combination of a gasp and a guffaw. She sobbed, just once more, and then she threw her arms around Pansy and clung to her, pressing her face to Pansy's chest. “You say that so beautifully,” she said, voice muffled. “It's so different, coming from you.”
Daphne had been told not to cry a thousand times. Her mother had told her it was childish, unnecessary for a woman to get what she wants with tears. Astoria had laughed at her, called her weak, said she would regret flashing her true feelings so obviously. And Blaise.... “Oh, Merlin, please don't cry,” in a tone of great offense. “Nothing is so irritating as a woman crying.”
And yet when Pansy said it, it was no complaint or criticism. Pansy said it, and it was nothing but a polite request from someone who felt her own heart breaking when she heard the sadness of the one she loved.
“But by all means, cry if you have to,” Pansy added then, responding to Daphne's sobbing laughter. “Who am I to deny your emotional torment?”
Daphne laughed again, dissolving into a quiet hiccough. “You can turn it off now,” she said. “You know I see through your armor, darling.”
Pansy hesitated, catching her breath. “I've loved you for years and you never seemed to notice, so forgive me if I doubt your claims of transparent vision.”
“Oh,” said Daphne. She closed her eyes, inhaled Pansy's scent, rubbed her face gently against the smooth skin of Pansy's chest. She had never felt more at home anywhere than right in that moment. “I suppose I was just looking through the wrong pair of glasses.”
Pansy groaned beneath her. “Don't even say that. The very idea of you in glasses is...” she trailed off into a quiet snort of laughter.
Daphne lifted her head to meet Pansy's gaze. “I'm discovering all sorts of things about you rather suddenly,” she said, lifting one eyebrow as her lips twitched into a smirk.
Pansy laughed louder this time, and pulled Daphne in to kiss her. “Let's continue the trend then,” she said cheekily, peppering Daphne's face and neck with small nipping kisses. “Come here and let's learn about each other.”
“You're a devil,” Daphne whispered, gasping as Pansy's fingers slipped between her legs.
“Sell me your soul, then. I'd make it worth your while.”
Daphne had no idea where this new chapter was going to take them. But there was such a comfort to being with Pansy, something warm and safe curled up inside her heart. She'd been happy with Blaise, in the beginning, but he had quickly dropped his outer charm to reveal the empty being beneath. Pansy was an entirely different soul. She put up a front, too, at times, but there was so much underneath it, layers and layers of understanding and love.
Caution gripped her insides, a fear that she was once again about to fling herself off a cliff only to crash upon the rocks below. Daphne didn't even know how to categorize her own sexuality, had no idea if being attracted to Pansy meant she was something other than straight or if it was its own special case. But it was certainly something special, and she had to chase it, had to ride the wave and discover, whatever the outcome may be.