“How the hell
do you know my name?” Dawn narrowed her eyes.
“You’re looking for Faith,” Pansy sidestepped her question and took a step towards her, “aren’t you?”
“Yes!” Dawn exclaimed with relief, shooting Potter a nasty look- “I was just telling asshat over here that I needed to see her, when he waved his stick thingy and” she stopped talking, face twisting with amusement- “hold on
- did he wave a freaking wand
“You don’t have wands where you come from?” Ron, no- Weasley
asked, shock plainly written on his freckled face.
“Well, carrot-top-“Dawn said quite reasonably, “did your overzealous friend over here happen to find a wand on me?”
All of them turned to eye Potter who looked discomfited by all the attention. He averted his eyes from everyone’s looks, actually toeing the floor like a shy schoolgirl before muttering a sullen- “No.”
“Then I guess that answers your question,” Dawn smiled at Weasley. Pleasantly too.
Something lurched in Pansy’s stomach at the sight of the other woman’s grin. From Faith’s stories, she had expected Dawn Summers to be somewhat younger
. Not quite so brazen, a sulky teenage girl, whining about not measuring up to her big sister’s footsteps. And here she was, looking like just a few years younger than them- tall, pale skinned with bright blue eyes and a dark plait that hung down to her back.
“So, did you want to stand around here and keep wasting time?” Pansy stepped in front of Ron, crossing her arms as she raised an eyebrow. “Or we could, you know- actually accomplish the thing you came here to do.” She narrowed her gaze, “How did
you come here by the way? I thought Faith said there was no way for her to go home.”
“Well,” Dawn drawled out, “there was no way for Faith to go home back then
. But now that I’ve got my hunky-dory super magical powers all figured out,” she held up a hand and green sparks danced on her skin, “there’s a way.”
Pansy felt the bottom drop out from her stomach, shock almost bringing her to her knees as she inadvertently met Potter’s gaze who seemed just as shocked and dismayed as her. ‘Oh no
’, she thought frantically, Faith couldn’t go back. She wouldn’t! Surprisingly, it wasn’t the thought of losing one of her best friends that was bringing this dismay. It was the thought of Longbottom losing the love of his life. The two of them functioned like a well-oiled unit, so disgustingly domestic in their ways that sometimes it physically hurt
to be a single woman in their presence. But they also gave her hope, hope that somewhere out there- there was somebody for her too, somebody to balance out her prickly side, somebody that would support her and bring her a cuppa after a long day at the shop.
There was no way
that Faith would be going back with Dawn, this interloper, was there?
A big part of Pansy wanted to scoff that of course
she wouldn’t leave them. She had built a life here, a career, a marriage. Except that Pansy had spent a good many nights drinking with the other woman, Faith’s drunken stories had always revolved around the fact that she didn’t think she had done all the good she had set out to do back home. She felt that she hadn’t righted the wrongs she had made and that, more than anything else, was probably the driving factor in her choosing to become an Unspeakable.
What would she do, now that the chance to right some of those wrongs had found her again?
“Come on then,” Pansy straightened up at the sound of Weasley’s voice, “we’ll talk you to her home. Since you obviously know her and all,” he glanced to Pansy for confirmation. She stayed obstinately silent, raised eyebrow still up as she transferred her Head Bitch In Charge look over to him.
Weasley, damn the man, did not look appropriately swayed by it.
“Fine,” Pansy grimaced and nodded after a beat, “yes, she knows her.” She began walking away, towards the doors and the street outside it. The closest Floo connection would probably be at the leaky, she thought, mentally wishing that she hadn’t opened her big mouth at all and had let Potter and Weasley drag the girl off to Azkaban.
“Wait,” she turned around, just in time to watch as Potter’s magically conjured ropes fell of Dawn’s hands, “why were you going to arrest her?”
“We had an alarm go off at the office,” Potter said, “that the Black vault had been broken into. And when we responded, we saw her
-“ he nodded over at Dawn, “emerging from a green portal, unauthorized, with no identity documents, clearly
in the wrong place.”
“My portals work fine,” Dawn said shiftily, “it’s other
things that influence them sometimes.” She gave Potter a shirty look, “Like assholes on the other end, waving their wands at me. Trying to be threatening
,” she scoffed and crossed her arms.
It occurred to Pansy that had the other woman not been there for the specific purpose of appropriating one of her childhood friends, there was a distinct possibility that Pansy would have liked
Dawn Summers. She was mouthy, snarky and had so far developed no love for the Gryffindor Boy Saviour.
They arrived at the doors, various wizards and witches surreptitiously watching them, the way they watched Potter’s every move since conception.
“Wait,” Dawn stopped walking and they all turned back to look at her, “in all the hulaballoo, I almost forgot to ask-“ she huffed, “which Buffy would kill
me for- but how in the name of Hades do you people know Faith?”
Potter and Weasley exchanged looks and then spoke as one.
“Friend-“ Potter said.
“Colleague-“ Weasley followed, but at Pansy’s incredulous look, he amended- “sort of
Dawn raised her eyebrow, drawling out- “Colleague
Weasley’s freckles stood out bright orange as he paled, realizing his gaffe- “but we can’t really talk about it.”
“Alright…” Dawn looked at him askance and then turned to Pansy. “And what about you?”
“Childhood friend,” Pansy bared her teeth and then swung open the doors, walking out into Diagon with a determined step. Behind her, she could hear Dawn’s amused murmur of- “she doesn’t really like me, does she?” and Potter’s reply of- “It’s alright. I’ve known her for fifteen years, saved her best friend’s life and she still
doesn’t like me.”
?” she heard Dawn’s interested murmur, glancing back to see Dawn place a hand on Potter’s elbow with interest. Pansy wished with everything she had that Draco was there, if only to see him lose his shit spectacularly at this blatant display of slut-hattery.
Potter flushed an ugly, splotchy red while Weasley made a face and said- “I wish
she’d like me…” then choked promptly on his words while Dawn began laughing.
Pansy didn’t hear any of this though, seeing everything she had to see of the slutty interloper and the two jackasses escorting her. She’d get to the Longbottoms’ house fine, Pansy thought and decided to leave her to Potter and Weasley’s tender mercies.
She pictured Faith and Neville’s home and apparated with a distinct Crack
instead, preferring to take the much needed head-start to warn Faith of who was coming.
Neville and Faith had sold the old Longbottom house after Augusta’s death, one of the stipulations of her will being that her grandson was the sole owner of the house on Bag Row and that he and his wife were able to do whatever they wanted with the old place.
Pansy appeared at the end of the street, stalking forward determinedly as the slight breeze ruffled through her hair.
Faith had told her one night, during their monthly Poker game- a muggle card game that she had taught Pansy, Draco and Blaise during their sixth year, that Neville didn’t want to live in a home that housed almost no happy memories for him. It was much too big, she said, shivering in one of Augusta’s old cardigans, sipping from a glass of Firewhiskey, it had been built to house several generations of a Wizarding family- not the remains of one. It was the home where Neville’s parents had been tortured to insanity, it was the home where Neville’s uncle Brutus had dropped him from a second floor window in a drunken stupor, claiming that no Longbottom had been born a Squib and if he had been one, then he wasn’t fit to carry the name into adulthood. They had decided to sell the house after Augusta’s death, using half the proceeds to buy a small cottage in Hogsmeade, just big enough for a small family, and the other half would go to St.Mungo’s- to the Janus Thickey Ward of the Permanently Damaged. Neville’s parents would always be provided for, care of Albus Dumbledore’s Last Will and Testament- a trust fund set up for the remaining members of the Order of the Phoenix, but there were still other unfortunate wizards and witches in the Thickey Ward, ones that didn’t have rich connections, people scraping by on the Ministry’s paltry funds. Those
people would be the ones to benefit most from Augusta’s money.
Pansy knocked on their door, the sharp rat-tat-tat-tat
echoing through the house. She could hear shuffling from within the house, so it meant that either the Mister of the Missus of the house was at home.
She knew that the house, though it was somewhat unassuming by Wizarding standards, looking more like a country chalet rather than a proper pureblood’s Manor
, had the strongest wards in Hogsmeade. Both Neville and Faith were heroes of the War, and Faith- besides her somewhat shady connection to the DMLA was also known as the person who had turned most of Slytherin house against their parents’ aspirations. Though the war was over, there was definitely a very long list of people still gunning for their heads, and on the day that they moved into the home- each and every one of their friends had come to layer their own protective magic into the wards of the new Longbottom home in Hogsmeade.
The door swung open and Longbottom’s untidy head peeked out, “Pans?” He looked rumpled, still half-asleep as he gazed blearily at her.
“What in the name of all that is good and holy are you doing here?”
“Hey Longbottom,” Pansy regarded him thoughtfully. She supposed that it was
early by people’s usual standards, barely eight in the morning but she had so long ago become accustomed to getting up at the crack of dawn for work and keeping irregular hours, that she had forgotten that those who worked the usual forty hour workweek preferred to sleep in on their weekends.
“Come in, come in-“ Neville blinked, realizing that he was keeping his wife’s best friend on their doorstep- “do you want anything?” he shuffled back into the hallway, leaving Pansy space to toddle in after him. “Tea? Coffee?” he called, walking into the kitchen with a tired step.
He yawned as Pansy shucked off her leather jacket, “Coffee Longbottom, how long have you known me for? When in doubt, it’s always
, always coffee…”
“Some of us, Parkinson-“ Neville grumbled but put a kettle on, “are not morning people.” He slumped against the kitchenette, closing his eyes- “be gone, with your crazy energy at this Gryffindor forsaken hour of the morning. Be gone with you.”
He cracked an eye open, “Faith’s upstairs. Knock before going in.”
“Not my first time doing this!” Pansy called back, already taking the stairs to the second floor, two at a time.
She had long ago learned her lesson about announcing her presence, loudly
, to an Unspeakable in respite. Draco had crashed on her couch for two months after his disastrous break-up with Terry Boot in his second year at the Department. Pansy had been running late on the second morning of his stay, and had apparated downstairs without prior warning, still wearing her negligee too and was just about to call out a hello to her best friend, when the world went dark.
Two days later, she had woken up in St.Mungo’s, a crushing headache behind her eyes and Draco Malfoy’s pale form slumped over her chair, guilt ridden features barely hiding his anxiety.
“Wake up sleepyhead!” Pansy called out on the floor of the second landing, purposefully making more noise than needed as she tromped her way to the master bedroom. She knocked on the door, calling- “if I see your naked arse one more time, I’m going to have to start making arrangements with Longbottom,” and twisted the handle.
Faith was putting on a tank-top when Pansy walked in, wearing a pair of black cotton pajama pants. “I’m sure you and Nev can work something out,” she said wryly, stepping forward to Pansy’s hug, “what are you doing here?”
“You’re about to have a visitor,” Pansy told her darkly, taking a step back as she examined her friend, “have you been doing something to your skin?” She regarded Faith with suspicion, “A new regimen? A mask? You’re positively glowing
Faith looked surprised, “No.” She wrinkled her brow, “I have a visitor?”
“Oh yes dearie,” Pansy followed her friend as they walked out of the bedroom, “one from far
“Oh, is it Wood?” Faith shot her a look as they descended down the stairs. “Cause I told the guy not to bother me at home anymore. Plus, I think he makes Nev nervous.”
“Who makes me nervous?” Neville handed his wife a cup of coffee, black with no sugar, planting a kiss on her lips.
“No one…Thanks kittentits,” Faith leered at her husband, grabbing at his behind playfully as she stepped around him to one of the chairs.
?” Pansy grimaced at the two of them and when Faith raised her eyebrow, opening her mouth for what was most likely going to be one of the most disturbing explanations imaginable- Pansy interrupted her. “No, no- I don’t need to know your kinky sex games with the Professor over here. It’s bad enough I’ve seen you christening the new greenhouse, I don’t need any more details.”
Neville blushed prettily and busied himself with fixing Pansy’s coffee, adding her milk and sugar just the way she liked it.
Faith on the other hand, looked like the cat that had gotten into the cream, unbelievably smug
, watching her husband with fondness- “Suit yourself,” she shrugged in Pansy’s general direction.
“Here,” Neville slid Pansy’s coffee over, “now, what was so important that you had to be here this early?”
“Yeah,” Faith squinted up at her, “who’s this mysterious visitor of yours?”
,” Pansy scowled at her, “this visitor is all
She was just about to open her mouth for an explanation, when the Floo bell began ringing.
Faith whipped her wand out, jumping into position immediately as Neville stood with her.
“Merlin, where do you keep
that thing?” Pansy asked, bewildered.
“Get behind me,” all previous amusement was gone from Faith’s voice, only cool neutrality remained as she ordered, “and stay quiet.”
“Only a few people know your Floo address,” Pansy reminded her, “what’s the worry?”
“The alarm only rings for unauthorized visitors,” Neville answered her question, keeping his eyes trained on the fireplace.
“Oh,” Pansy rolled her eyes, “that
would be the visitor.” She walked to the fireplace and called, “Potter, tell the girl to go last. The Longbottoms are feeling a tad tetchy on this end.”
There was a shuffling sound and then Weasley tumbled out first, landing in an undignified heap in front of Pansy.
“Oh,” he looked up at her face, “this just figures
,” he said and did some kind of complicated backspring movement, launched himself off the floor and ended up on his feet in one fluid moment. It was all very impressive
“Parkinson,” Weasley nodded to Pansy and ran a hand through his hair, little flakes of soot falling out as he did. “Nev! My man!” he greeted Neville a lot more jovially, throwing a cool though genial- “the Missus” over to Faith.
“Ron,” Faith grinned back at him, “looking just as gingery as ever.”
“I-“ Weasley said- “thank you?”
Any reply Faith might have had was interrupted by the arrival of Potter, who landed on his feet, crouched and straightened up in a smooth move- reminding Pansy of a cat, with his midnight black hair and bright green eyes. “Hey guys,” Potter smiled and moved to exchange one of those incomprehensible, one armed manly shoulder pats with Neville, “it’s been too long.”
“Harry!” Faith grinned and moved to hug him too.
Weasley made a face at this blatant display of unequal treatment. It had been that way since school, Potter and Granger got along with Faith a whole lot better than Weasley had.
Potter, Faith had told Pansy, reminded her of Buffy- the Chosen One, born to be alone but who had surrounded himself with friends by choice and through utter inability to comprehend otherwise. Granger, according to Faith, was more Willow than ‘Red’ had turned out to be in the end, her love of books and knowledge had somehow translated to a long-lasting friendship with the brassy, foul-mouthed, violent Unspeakable.
“Now,” Faith said with a grin, “what’s the what guys? Not that I’m sorry to see you sorry excuses for men, but what’s this surprise of mine?”
“You just left her alone
?” Pansy pulled at Weasley’s sleeve, away from the other three occupants of the room. “She’s never been on the Floo you berk, one of you should have stayed behind to make sure she was alright!”
,” Weasley pulled his sleeve away from Pansy’s hand with a face, “we ran into Percy. He needed to come to Nev for some documents anyway, so we left him for last.”
The Floo flared up once more and so, Pansy stepped away after making a terrible face at Weasley who looked positively nonplussed, watching as Dawn Summers’ body was spit out in an undignified heap onto Faith and Neville’s floor.
“Oh my god,” Dawn coughed out some black smoke, wiping away soot from her forehead, “that was wicked
!” She rolled to her side and got off the floor, doing it much less impressively than Weasley had.
Pansy scowled and crossed her chest, watching Faith’s utter shock as she stepped forward. “DAWN
“Faith!” Dawn squealed and jumped into the other woman’s arms, hugging her so tightly that Pansy’s friend looked like she was about to pass out. “It’s really you!” she exclaimed. “We’ve been searching for so long, and Buffy was getting all cranky and threatening to go up to the PTB’s through Whistler, talking about ripping out spines
and wearing them as belts
- you know how she gets-“
“Yeah, no I know-“ Faith muttered, still staring, awed at the taller brunette as she babbled onto something about Angels and Shanshans, ridiculous American notions that Pansy had never even heard
But she was done. Done listening to this interloper take away one of her closest friends, done watching Weasley and Potter surreptitiously try not to stare at Dawn Summers’ cleavage.
If this disaster was going to happen, it didn’t mean that Pansy had to be there to watch it go down.
She pulled her wand out, walking briskly up the street and quickly visualized the only place she could picture in her mind at that moment.
A brief, unpleasant moment later- she was walking up to the gates of Malfoy Manor.