“It’s not like she’ll ever love you,” Draco says as Ginny slams the door shut after her, leaving the flat in a late morning silence as thick as buttercream frosting. Pansy grits her teeth and tidies the kitchenette. She wonders if she’d be in a better mood if she was wearing something other than her nightdress and last night’s makeup, but she doubts it.
“Well it’s not,” Draco says, standing on the doormat in his crisp navy robes, looking prim and prissy as always. Pansy almost throws a glass at his head just to get that look off his face, but she puts a washing charm on it and sets it in the sink instead. “They don’t even think we’re people, you know.”
Pansy thinks very hard about the frying pan in her hand before placing it into the sink as well. They’re old dishes, but she’d rather clean them than look at him. “I said to fuck off.”
Draco moves into the flat, his heeled boots clicking on the marble floor. He looks at ease here, just as colorless as the room itself, not like her, strange in her mismatched socks and messy ginger hair. Pansy feels nauseous and she’s not sure it’s because of the cocktails she’d made up last night, in pinks and blues for both of them.
“They think it’s fun, fucking the enemy and then leaving in the morning. They think it’s fun to have a dirty secret. For a while,” Draco says, trailing his fingers across the countertops, clicking closer to her.
Pansy whirls on him, clutching a glass in her hand and hoping it doesn’t shatter. “Just because your disgusting little crush on Potter is a lost cause doesn’t mean you have any idea about her.”
“We don’t talk about that,” Draco says crisply, and then Pansy throws the glass so sharply it smashes with a twinkling violence against the bleach white wall.
“Well maybe I don’t want to talk about Ginny Weasley,” Pansy says, too loudly, gratified when he looks at her with surprise, something genuine other than his ice-prince coolness.
“She says she’s not ready for you to meet her friends and family,” Draco starts, leaning against her counter and spelling the glass into a pile. “She says she’ll be ready eventually, but not yet, not today, probably not tomorrow. Not even her family, just her friends. Even just one.” He continues, stone faced again. She thinks he’s playing his trump card and she should know better than to wind him up like that. “You wait for her because she says she loves you. You think that because she says that, you mean enough for her to give you her whole world. You’d be content with even half of it. And then you think maybe you’d be content with even a fourth. And then you don’t even care what they’ll let you have, you’ll take it. And they tell you that you expect too much of them, even though you only wanted one small thing, that it was only ever sex anyway, that it wasn’t like you were in love, wasn’t like either of you ever thought something would come of it.” His voice has dropped, dangerous, dangerous low, and Pansy can’t remember him ever spelling it out like this. “And then they leave.”
He dumps the broken glass into the empty garbage bag. “Which part are you at?”
“You wait for her,” Pansy says, leaning up against the wall and staring at Draco. “I still want the whole world.”
Draco nods, something in him velvet soft. “Make her give it to you.”
“Did that work for you?” Pansy asks, knowing, knowing that it didn’t, that it probably never does.
Draco stops, thinks. “Do you ever worry that by being with her, you’re ruining her life? That you’re the worst thing that could ever happen to her?”
Pansy frowns. “That’s incredibly presumptuous.” She looks closely at him, at the flicker of his gray eyes and the shifty lines of his hands. He never tells anyone anything but she’s gotten better at reading him, better at guessing. Sometimes she feels like she’s in one of those hardboiled novels she reads, and she’s the jaded PI and Draco is the damsel up to no good. “You’re the one who left.”
Draco, for his part, looks affronted that she’d accuse him of such a thing. “I had to.”
Pansy returns to the sink, shaking her head. “Good fucking grief, Dray.”
“Don’t call me that,” he says, snotty in a way that she’s not sure he’s intended.
“Don’t give me relationship advice.”
“Fine,” he says, perching on the counter in his crisp robes. “Were you making breakfast?”
She stops, a spell cleaned glass in her hand, halfway back up to the cabinet. “I was cleaning.”
“I’ll make eggs,” Draco says, sliding off the counter and moving to the fridge.
“You’ll ruin them,” Pansy says, stopping to watch him putter around the kitchen.
“Then you can throw them out and make nice ones,” Draco says, setting the eggs on the counter and fishing the pan out of the cabinet.
“Just like last time,” Pansy says, watching him crack the eggs into the unheated, unbuttered pan. She doesn’t have the energy to chastise him.
Draco purses his lips. “Just like last time.”
“Malfoy’s not going to tell anyone, is he?” Ginny asks, twirling a glass of pink wine in her hand, her elbows resting on the balcony, the soft glimmer of morning light beginning to peer up over the nested houses.
“He knows I’d break his neck,” Pansy says, coming up behind Ginny and resting her chin on her shoulder. The worst thing about their relationship is that neither of them are responsible enough to get to bed at a reasonable hour, even though she’s getting to be so exhausted she’s a little delirious. Although that might be the wine. “I have enough dirt on him to bury that boy alive.”
“Sexy,” Ginny says, cracking a smile at the sunrise.
Pansy turns her face against Ginny’s neck, smelling the soft floral of her perfume and the warmth of her skin. “If he did tell anyone, would you deny it?”
Ginny doesn’t answer for a moment, like she’s searching for honesty. Pansy doesn’t want the sun to rise, doesn’t want her to go home. She’s not sure she wants honesty. “Probably not.” Ginny laughs. “Not that it would go over well. I don’t think Harry would speak to me, he’s very righteous. Although, I think he’s about forgiveness, too.” She trails off, ducking her head so her hair falls in front of her face.
“I think Harry would understand,” Pansy says, then wishes she hadn’t said it. She used to be so hard, didn’t used to stay up all night and court the truth like this. Didn’t used to fall in love.
Ginny lifts her head back up, looking at Pansy with sharp, inquisitive eyes. “What do you know?”
“Secrets,” Pansy says. “So many secrets.”
“Secrets aren’t nice,” Ginny says, almost pouting, almost grinning.
“They aren’t my secrets.”
“Mmm,” Ginny says, and Pansy knows she’s opened Pandora’s box. She holds Ginny, soft waist and firm muscle, slightly taller than Pansy, much slimmer. “Unrelatedly, why does Malfoy think he can prance into your flat at all hours?”
Pansy smiles. “Is that jealousy?”
“I just want to know what my competition is,” Ginny says, leaning back into Pansy. “I could hex that git sideways, I’m just curious whether or not I have to.”
“You know you don’t have to, you’re just posturing,” Pansy says, stealing Ginny’s wine and taking a long, slow sip. “Draco thinks he owns the place. He thinks he owns every place.” She amends the statement. “He’s lonely.”
“Are you lonely?” Ginny asks.
Pansy shakes her head. “Not now.”
They’re at the same Quidditch Gala, Pansy in her society journalist best and Ginny in one of those awful, muggle-inspired suit things that makes her long legs seem to go on for ages and her red hair rest like a flare on the top of her head. Pansy wishes she could pretend she didn’t know her, wishes she could stop staring at her.
“So what secrets do you have that Harry won’t tell me?” is whispered into her ear as she’s sitting alone at the bar, trying to figure out how exactly she’s going to describe Kristine Mindle’s awful dress in her next column.
“I haven’t the faintest,” Pansy says, writing down ‘like a grossly ornamental cakestand without the cake,’ and then, after a thoughtful pause, ‘a snow covered pine tree, but in a bad way.’ “What do you think of these?”
“I don’t believe you for a second,” Ginny says, sitting down next to her and leaning in to peer at her notepad. The motion is heartbreakingly familiar, reminding her of late nights kissing and giggled conversations on moonlit broomrides. Once, Ginny had seemed forbidden and strange and learning her has only made her more alluring. “Cakestand without the cake’ is good. Maybe, ‘your grandmother’s basket of lace scraps, now it’s a dress!’”
“Is that too mean do you think?” Pansy asks, tilting her head. “It’s the smallest bit pretty. The color is nice. Cream.”
“Oh Godric, don’t go soft on me now Pans,” Ginny says, turning to the bartender and asking for a kiddie cocktail. “I’m trying to stay professional,” she explains, giving Pansy a smirk.
“I can be professional up to four glasses in,” Pansy says, waving her second glass of wine.
Ginny pretends to toast her, knocking her knuckles against Pansy’s wine glass. “Great subject change, but I want to know what you know about Harry that I don’t.” She crosses her legs demurely, leaning in closer and resting against the bar. “I’m narrowing it down, investigation style. If you know about it and I don’t, it has to do directly with you and your ilk. With context, it’s probably something about falling in love with people you shouldn’t be in love with. So here’s my question: did we both break Harry’s heart, have our ex-boyfriends fucked, or am I missing a step?” She’s distracted only by the arrival of her enormous, very pink, kiddie cocktail. It even has a little umbrella. “Pink drinks!” She says, doing a real, clinking little ‘cheers’ against Pansy’s glass and taking a long sip.
“I like the implication that if I had been sneaking around with Harry it would have ended with me breaking his heart,” Pansy says, trying not to take a too-generous gulp of wine. She doesn’t really want to be professional, she wants to go off and kiss Ginny in the loo, but then they’d both be on the front of the Prophet and Blaise would come all the way back from Tuscany to laugh at her about it. At least she’d probably get a congratulatory letter from Millie, she always was her partner in chubby gay shenanigans.
“He’s a bit fragile, emotionally,” Ginny says. “I honestly don’t think you’d have been able to put up with him. He’s all ‘Ginny, you are so important, I think you’re the bravest girl I’ve ever met, please let me be alone with my own suffering for a while.’ Its very tender. You just want to like, get him a blanket and some cannoli or something.”
“That sounds flattering. I want to be the most important, bravest girl in the world,” Pansy says, fighting a smile. “I can handle emotional fragility, please try and remember who my best friend is.”
“Your best friend and my second hypothesis,” Ginny says, leaning in with her pink kiddie cocktail, straw halfway in her mouth. Pansy thinks she’s wearing lipstick, and she wonders if she could put that in the column without it sounding gay. “So what, they fucked once? Or like, you think they’re deeply in love, torn apart but secretly holding candles for each other as they sink faster and faster into misery?”
“Ginevra! Is this an interview? What are you drinking? Who are you wearing?” Bridget Chamomile appears at Ginny’s side in a bizarrely constructed blue ballgrown, derailing the conversation and offering Pansy a delightfully timed out.
“She’s drinking a kiddie cocktail,” Pansy says, affecting the voice she uses when she’s trying to trick someone into underestimating her. “She says all the Quidditch players are drinking them these days. It’s super nouveau-temperance.”
“Really?” Bridget leans in, interested.
“Grenadine is the new it-flavouring,” Pansy adds. “Anyway, it was great talking to you Ginevra, I think I’m going to leave you with Bridget and go find the hors d’oeuvres.”
Ginny looks like she can’t decide whether to kiss her or kill her.
“You think Malfoy-”
“Whatever- you think Draco is still in love with him?” Ginny is sitting across from her in a muggle cafe, both of them dressed down, Ginny in a patterned floral dress and lace up boots, a camellia stuck in her hair from their slow walk through the farmer’s market.
Ginny has been trying to wrench the particulars out of her since they walked past the first produce stand, and Pansy had eventually given up and told her all she knew, unsure why she’d ever bothered trying to keep it under wraps in the first place.
“I think that Draco is the dumbest boy I’ve ever met and that Harry has never really shown himself to be the most emotionally complex individual,” Pansy says, sipping at her espresso.
“Hey,” Ginny protests, halfheartedly, picking apart a blueberry muffin with her fingers and nudging Pansy’s kitten heel with her toe.
“Well he couldn’t keep you, could he?” Pansy asks, and Ginny shrugs.
“It wasn’t a good time for him.”
“That’s a horrible excuse for losing the girl of your dreams,” Pansy says, glancing out the window at the late afternoon sunshine.
“I don’t think I was the girl of his dreams,” Ginny says, tossing a sugar packet at Pansy.
“His loss,” Pansy says flippantly, tossing it back and hitting Ginny square on the nose.
Ginny pauses, leaning forward. “Am I the girl of your dreams?”
“Nightmares,” Pansy says, taking another sip of her espresso.
“Sex dreams?” Ginny presses.
“Are you suggesting my nightmares are also sex dreams, or that my sex dreams are nightmares?” Pansy asks, holding her face very still so she doesn’t smile.
“You’re the girl of my nightmarish sex dreams,” Ginny says, grinning to make it easy. Pansy doesn’t know how she does that, make things easy all the time. Ginny laughs at her own antics, pausing. “What were we even talking about? Oh! Boys, of course. Even dating a lesbian I can’t pass the bechdel test.”
“We’ve definitely passed it,” Pansy says. “You explained that entire Harpies game to me last Thursday. And I think we talked about taxidermy Friday? For maybe an hour?”
“Perfect, so we’re completely off the hook,” Ginny says, leaning in. “So, for the fifth time, you think Draco loves him, but he left to be noble and self sacrificing?”
“Unfortunately,” Pansy says. “Draco’s very sensitive. He likes to leave before he gets hurt, which never works anyway. I think he wanted to be Potter’s real boyfriend, not that he ever would have told him. It’s kind of sweet isn’t it?” She almost doesn’t say it, it seems inauspicious to do while sitting across from the girl she wants to be her real girlfriend. From the first night they slept together after too many cocktails at the Holyhead Harpies’ favorite pub, it had always been casual secrecy. She’s not Draco, she doesn’t have to be dramatic about it, but it’s starting to feel like dry rot.
“How’s Harry supposed to know Draco wants to be his real boyfriend if he doesn’t tell him?” Ginny asks, and Pansy can’t tell if she wants it to be a pointed question or not.
Pansy takes a long sip of espresso so she can wait on her answer. “Prophetic readings. Legillimency.”
“That can’t be ethical,” Ginny says.
“I got an O on my Divination NEWT,” Pansy says, raising her eyebrows curtly. “It’s ethical.”
Ginny makes scare quotes with her fingers. “Ethical.”
“As if you didn’t ask someone’s crystal ball if your crush liked you at every sleepover you went to as a kid,” Pansy says, then leans back, fixing Ginny with a stare she hopes is challenging. “So you tell me- does Potter love him too?”
Ginny shrugs. “I don’t know about Harry. He’s been a bit mopey lately but it’s hard to tell if that’s the fact that he had to save the literal world or your regular run of the mill heartbreak.”
“I don’t know why they couldn’t have just talked it out,” Pansy says firmly. “One conversation, that’s it.”
“They were probably scared,” Ginny says, and Pansy hates feeling like they’re talking in doubles. She’ll throw the glass at the wall soon, bust down the door and only take the truth. She’s a shite private i, she’s always convinced by a soft word and a pretty face.
“Are you scared?” Pansy asks, quiet in the coffee shop, like she’s making small talk about the weather.
“Terrified,” Ginny says. She swirls her tea around in its little porcelain cup. “I keep picturing my mum’s face when I tell her.” She swirls it again. “And then I picture Harry’s. And I know, I know that he’s the most forgiving boy in the whole world but you-” She doesn’t look at Pansy. “You know what you did.”
“I do,” Pansy says, choking, bleeding from somewhere. “I thought it would save everyone I loved.”
“Might have,” Ginny says calmly. She tips her head to the side, examining Pansy’s face so closely she starts to worry that there’s something wrong with it. “For a while, I thought I was going to leave you. That I was going to have fun and then I was going to leave, or you were going to leave. But you’re not going to leave, are you?”
“Any self preservation Draco has inherited doesn’t seem to have rubbed off on me,” Pansy says, looking at the place where her acrylics meet her nail, looking at the rings glimmering on her knuckles. “He’s cunning. I’m just stupid.”
“Just making sure,” Ginny says. She’s holding her teacup close to her like its for comfort. “We’re not them, we’re not going to ruin this because we’re scared, right?”
“Right,” Pansy says, but she doesn’t know and she’s terrified. She only hopes that Ginny isn’t pulling her further and further out only to let her drown.
“Good,” Ginny says, stern faced. She has the strangest fire in her eyes and Pansy feels just for a moment that Ginny would fight the entire world for her. It passes, but the notion is so potent it knocks the wind out of her. “I’m not leaving either.”
“I know,” Pansy says, and Ginny lets out a surprised little puff of laughter, loosening the tension, untying the knots. “I looked in my crystal ball last night.”
This time, Ginny steps right on the toe of Pansy’s satin kitten heel. “Get bent, Parkinson.”
“So why does the Prophet think that you’ve broken Mr. Potter’s heart for the second time in four years?” Pansy asks, using a mixing spoon as a pretend microphone as she lets Ginny into the apartment. “Tell me, Ms. Weasley, how have you crushed our boy hero’s heart now, you minx?”
Ginny waves her off, setting her bag down on the counter. “He barely cried,” she says, fighting laugher. “It was like, one tear.”
“But he looked miserable,” Pansy says.
“You’re not wrong,” Ginny says, then inhales. “This smells amazing. I thought none of you rich girls knew how to cook?”
“It’s a hobby,” Pansy says.
Ginny looks - as she always does when Pansy surprises her - like she’s stepped out into the summer sun. “I thought maybe you just knew how to make eggs so you could bag girls.”
“It’s a perk,” Pansy says.
“How can I help?” Ginny asks, pointing at a pile of potatoes on the counter. “Mashed potatoes?”
“Yep,” Pansy says, pleased at the way the sunset falls in through the picture windows, how it catches in Ginny’s hair. “So what happened with Potter?”
Ginny starts peeling potatoes, an almost evil smile on her face. “So I corner him at this Indian place he likes, you know, so he can’t run away. And he’s taken like, four bites of his Vindaloo and I’m like ‘so Harry, are you still in love with Malfoy?’”
“Holy shit,” Pansy says, turning to look at her. “Subtlety never occurred to you.”
Ginny shakes her head, pointing firmly at Pansy with the peeler. “He’d try to deny it. I’d ask him if there was anyone else in his life and he’d get that faraway look in his eyes and say ‘no, there’s no one’ and that honestly just wouldn’t be helpful.”
“Merlin and Salazar’s matching lacy pants,” Pansy says, rolling her eyes. “So what did he do then?”
“His eyes got really wide and he was like ‘what? No! No, of course I’m not in love with him,’ which is not the denial of a boy who has never been in love with Draco Malfoy. And so I was like, ‘Is that a final answer?’”
“I’m honestly embarrassed for him,” Pansy says, spelling Ginny’s potato peelings into the compost bin and keeping a close eye on her soup.
“Oh just be glad you weren’t there,” Ginny says, grimacing. “So after about ten minutes of prodding he admits that he is, of course, still in love with him. According to him, Draco is a literal snow cone with a tender side who disappeared without warning about eight months ago. Harry thinks that Draco left because Harry wanted too much too fast.”
“That’s unbelievable,” Pansy says. “As if Draco isn’t the neediest, most desperate priss to ever walk this Earth in heeled boots.”
“You can smell the neediness on him,” Ginny agrees. “It smells like, lemons and the fragile shell of masculinity.”
“I think that’s his shampoo,” Pansy says. “But I agree. How do they even fuck up this bad? Imagine what they’d do without us.”
“So we’re getting them back together then?” Ginny asks.
“Of course. I haven’t been given the opportunity to scheme like this in years,” Pansy says, stirring the soup lazily. “What do you think we should we do? Fake a correspondence between them so they’re conned into meeting and confessing their love? Have a grand party and hope to get them sloshed enough to fall into each other’s arms?”
“We could have a grand party,” Ginny agrees, and it sounds a little too casual.
“We?” Pansy asks, and Ginny smiles, slow and definitely nervous.
Ginny nods, looking a bit like a wild rabbit. “Desperate times call for desperate measures.”
Pansy grimaces. “Merlin, I feel like I’m coming out all over again. What will all my evil cohorts think, stealing the golden boy’s girl and renouncing all my old ways.”
“You didn’t steal me, I chose you,” Ginny says, raising her eyebrows like she’s victorious. “It’s harder to taunt the boys about their shit communication if we’re sneaking around like outlaws.”
Pansy laughs a bit, looking at her soup and not at Ginny with a nervous twist in her stomach. “So you really want to?”
“Well we can’t let them one up us, can we?” Ginny asks, then grimaces like she knows its a flimsy cover at best. “I do, I really do. It just feels like there’s no point in winning the war if all the old hurts are still there. It’s not winning if we’re still too scared to love each other.”
Pansy stills, can’t bear to look at her, can’t bear to see any of the things she’s sure are on Ginny’s face. She can feel Ginny’s gaze on her and she knows already that her own expression is like an open book. “I never thought you would want to be with me in public because of the side I chose. I really didn’t.”
“You aren’t on that side anymore,” Ginny says, like it’s for sure. “If it happened again you wouldn’t chose that side.”
“You trust me,” Pansy says, like it’s a revelation.
“Well it’s true, isn’t it? You wouldn’t.”
“I wouldn’t.” Pansy would chose forgiveness and a soft voice in a crowded room. She thinks she’s beginning to understand the wild swooping allure of heroics, of loving something so much you’d die for it.
“I know,” Ginny says. “Just because I’m afraid of what people will think doesn’t mean I have any doubts. If you weren’t different you wouldn’t want to be with me. That’s the whole thing.”
“Even if I wasn’t different I’d still think you were cute,” Pansy says, almost morosely, into her pot of soup.
“I thought you said you weren’t emotionally fragile,” Ginny says, creeping up behind her and laying her head on Pansy’s shoulder.
“Let a girl be a little maudlin,” she says, stirring her soup slow and feeling the soft warmth of Ginny’s cheek.
“Just this once,” Ginny says. “Then we have to make dinner and plan our big party and figure out how I’m going to explain this to my mother without being too explicit about gay sex.”
“Somehow I don’t think everyone would have that last problem,” Pansy says, finding herself smiling again, slowly.
“At least Luna will be thrilled about the party, she’s been saying ‘the stars are right for celebration’ for weeks.” Ginny is trying to cheer her up and its working, all of her floral scented light seeping back into all the cracks.
“She has a very clear inner eye,” Pansy says. The soup has started to smell good, warming up the kitchen. “Ask her if the stars are right for big reveals and pigheaded boys working out their issues.”
“I will.” Ginny smiles and doesn’t move from her place against Pansy’s shoulder until the soup has begun to steam and Pansy scolds her for abandoning her mashed potatoes. In her head, Pansy is already plotting all the gloating letters she’ll send to her friends about her new (official) girlfriend. Maybe she’ll even write her column about herself next week, a quick little piece about the charmed life they live together. She won’t even have to fib once.
Pansy receives an owl from Luna two days later.
Ginny said you inquired about the configuration of the stars around your lovely party. I’m forecasting romance, forgiveness, and a bumper crop of all kinds of root vegetables.