Pain and Pleasure
He’d found out from the desk clerk at her hotel where she would be today, so Xander sat himself at a table and waited. He’d grabbed a Daily Prophet and was reading it. He’d never read so many newspapers in his life since coming to England, but he liked the way the pictures moved. It was easy to get into Diagon Alley now because the proprietors were begging to know him as the Muggle who worked with the slayers, and apparently being seen with the likes of Hannah Abbott and Draco Malfoy gave him some wizarding street cred.
He ordered himself something to nibble on and some tea and waited.
Pansy walked into the small tea shop and placed her bags near the table she always sat at.
“Your regular, Miss Parkinson?”
She nodded as she arranged the chairs how she liked, able to see out the windows but at the perfect angle that the glare from the window would block people from seeing her. “Yes, Jeanine, with extra milk today. Add it to my tab, as usual.”
When her tea was placed in front of her, Jeanine leaned down. “This wasn’t added to your tab. A gentleman already paid.”
Pansy scoffed. “Of course he did. Which one?” she asked, letting her eyes drift over the small crowd in the shop. It was small but situated into the nicer part of the alley so that flustered witches with screaming children ventured in. Then she spotted him. “Don’t bother. I know which one.”
She narrowed her gaze at him as she sipped her tea.
Xander folded his paper and stood. He tucked it under an arm as he strolled leisurely to her table. As usual when he was planning on running into Pansy, he was dressed a bit nicer. He sat down and grinned at her.
“Did Draco not invite you to Thanksgiving dinner? Because we missed seeing your scowling face there.”
“I declined,” she said evenly. “Are you stalking me? If you are, I’m flattered but it won’t end well for you.”
“I prefer to think of it as putting myself in your path. You don’t call, you don’t write... how else am I supposed to see you? And I seriously doubt it’ll end as bad as some of my other... things. Unless you were lying to me when you said you weren’t a demon.”
Pansy took another drink of tea. “Well, I never said a proper thank you for the shoes. They are more than adequate. This meeting saves me the irritation of writing you a thank you note. I’m afraid you’ve cheated yourself out of an owl.”
“Oh darn,” Xander said blandly. “I get stuck with an in person thank you when I could have had a note delivered by a bird who expects treats. This is just terrible.”
She had to bite her inner cheek so she wouldn’t grin. “Is there any particular reason you situated yourself in my path today? If you’re here to inquire about what other gifts you could give me, I’m an open book.”
“Oh God, I have to provide a reason? Um, I don’t know? I felt like it? My slayers are taking the day off, so I decided to as well? You don’t visit?”
He actually had no idea why he was here. He just knew he wanted to be.
Pansy’s eyebrow went up. “Why on earth would I visit when I have my friends trained to come when I want them to?”
“I didn’t think Draco could be trained,” Xander said. “You weren’t curious? Like at all?”
“I’m a Slytherin, not a Ravenclaw. I do not let my curiosity dictate my actions. I have more than enough to do instead of going to a school full of hormonal teenaged girls.”
He didn’t think she did do anything. Well, he knew she did stuff, but she didn’t have a job or anything. Unless you counted shopping. He had this feeling she took her shopping very seriously.
Pansy looked out at the shoppers bustling in the alley. “You’re the stalker. You tell me.”
Recently, she spent more time away from her penthouse than in it, simply to avoid her mother, who was determined to have her married off with her own brood soon. She would put an ad in the Prophet saying she despised children to give her mother a clue, that is, if her mother actually read the paper. Her foundations and charities were run by other people and she had no events coming up, even though it was a holiday season. Her mother still was in charge of Parkinson affairs. She really was rather bored.
“That’s what I thought,” Xander said. “You don’t do anything because no one makes you do anything, and you’re bored out of your skull. You’re too sharp to be a society lady, I think. You need a thing.”
“Well,” she snapped, slamming her teacup down on the table with more force than she meant, “if you know so much about me, then what ‘thing’ do you think I need?”
“Well, I dunno,” he said, looking at her like she was being irrational for getting shouty. “I just don’t see you being content with sitting around drinking tea with your pinky out, do you? You’re all Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, just evil fabulous. You should be doing something notorious.”
He confused her. Greatly. And she may not be a Ravenclaw, but she didn’t like to be confused. “I’m what
“Okay maybe not evil, but you’re not ordinary or anything by any means. Do you know not many women can pull off those snake shoes. There’s something dark and fabulous about you, and you should be revelling in that. Or was it the Sleeping Beauty reference? Maleficent was the bad fairy in it, but she was so awesome.”
Pansy sat back, mulling over what he said and comparing it to what she had heard from Draco and the little she could glean from Blaise. Draco was insistent that the muggle could handle a woman like her, and had in the past, but she was actually starting to believe him. He had a way with words, and she did so love a man who could string words together beautifully.
“And there is something about you
isn’t there?” she asked, looking over him carefully. “I cannot tell if you’re bored as well or if I present a challenge.”
“Maybe both,” he said, raising one brow. “And I’ll be honest, the fact that Draco pouts like a little girl who had his doll taken away every time he knows I’ve been around you doesn’t hurt at all.”
She didn’t bother to hide her grin this time. “As I hear it, you’ve not met a challenge you can’t complete. It will be amusing to watch you try.”
“With girls? Who’ve you been talking to? Because I’ve been smacked down plenty of times there. Nearly eaten, nearly sacrificed... literally. Nearly had the life sucked out of me by a mummygirl. Yep, smacked down a’plenty, this guy.”
“Well, I’m not a cannibal and every decent witch knows that willing, virgin sacrifices are the most potent. And as I have no need to suck the life out of you, I think you don’t have to fear me. Much.”
Xander chuckled. This wasn’t the first time he’d had a frank discussion about the possibility of dating someone. He just couldn’t believe she was being serious.
“Oh no, I just have to worry about your friends, right? Because that’s not at all scary with firebug and knifeboy as your besties,” he said sarcastically. “Yeah, nothing much to fear from you, just your friends. No big.”
Pansy’s grin widened. “They’re the tame ones. There are much worse than Draco Malfoy and Blaise Zabini.”
“That you have for friends? Is it your mentor guy? Snape? I hung out with him a little. He’s not that bad. I think I scored some points there for helping out with Willow, so he might not kill me outright if I mess up with you.”
She was going to have words with Draco for not letting slip that Snape knew the muggle. Pansy didn’t let her surprise show. “He might not kill you outright, but he will still make it painful.” Her grin widened.
“But then he knows what Willow would do to him if he did that, so I might be safe. Gosh, it pays to have a really scary best friend. So are there any other scary people who might hunt me down that I should know about? If they kill me, Theo might just bring me back. It’s ironic that they only ones of Buffy’s boyfriend I like are the human ones.”
Pansy glanced at the calendar on the wall in the tea shop. “Well,” she said nonchalantly, although her heart beat sped up in anxiousness. “My father is due to get out of prison soon. He would gladly kill you, regardless of the consequences.”
“Prison?” Then he thought about Faith. “Had a friend... well, maybe friend is a strong word, but she broke out of prison. You really think your dad will try to kill me? That’s an unhappy thought.”
“Not right away. He’ll wait until he has enough money and clout to buy off anyone who would like to see him back in Azkaban. Either that or amass enough blackmail on officials so he isn’t even considered a suspect.” Pansy finished her tea but waved off a second cup. “Draco’s father did it. I don’t see why mine can’t do the same.”
“Draco’s dad killed one of his girlfriends? That’s horrible. What a dick move. Honestly, he could probably just wait it out, in my line of work, we don’t always last long even though I’ve been doing this sort of thing for the last decade.”
Pansy chuckled. “No, he’s been girlfriend free for quite a while, even though his mother was sure he would marry the youngest Greengrass. Of course, Blaise’s mother was sure her son would marry the eldest Greengrass, but that fell apart when they tried to kill each other. We’re all rather violent.”
“This is why you need to visit more often. You should tell your buddy Draco if he’s gonna be kissing the librarian like that, then he ought to at least be calling her his girlfriend.”
“Did he finally realize that he actually liked the girl?” she asked, rolling her eyes. “I was back in the country for a day when I realized it. The boy can be such an idiot. Although I doubt it will last.”
Xander frowned. He hoped it did because Draco seemed like an actual human these days.
“Why do you want to go and say something like that? He seems really happy. Don’t you want the guy whose go-to is setting things on fire when he’s upset to be happy?”
Pansy just stared at him. He obviously didn’t know the history, especially when Draco didn’t like telling it himself. “There’s a past there that isn’t hearts and roses. Of course I want him happy, but I doubt Lovegood is going to end in happiness.”
“I didn’t realize you were such a pessimist,” Xander joked. “He’s not my favorite person ever, but I’m hoping it works out for him. I think it ought to work out for somebody. I mean, Willow’s last girlfriend poisoned her. And the fact that I like Theo for Buffy after getting to know him a little worries me because whenever I like one of Buffy’s boyfriends, it doesn’t work out.”
She gave him a wry smile. “We’re Slytherins. It’s not in our stars to have things work out.”
“Shouldn’t it be for one of you? Surely some Slytherin somewhere had something go right sometime or another.” He paused and made a face. “I said the word some a lot just then.”
“Brush up on your wizarding history and tell me if that’s true.” Pansy sat back in the chair, looking out the window again. “Although I can tell you now that you won’t find an instance.”
“Isn’t Draco’s aunt Andromeda a Slytherin? Because yeah, it hasn’t been all hearts and flowers for her, but I’d say she’s had some stuff work out, some of it hasn’t but some of it has. Also, isn’t Astoria Crazypants a Slytherin? She’s not doing so bad. I hear her boyfriend is uber scary, but she seems happier than the first time I met her.”
“For what they had to go through to get there and what they will most certainly endure, I would not wish it for myself or my friends.” Pansy waved him off. “We always seem to find ourselves at wonderful points of conversation.”
“You really don’t like to work for stuff, huh? Don’t you know that sometimes the things you have to struggle for the hardest are the best?”
And he believed that. It wasn’t easy having the friends he had or doing the things he did, but there were the moments in between the bad that made everything worth it.
“I would rather not attempt it.” Pansy didn’t want to try hard for something only to be disappointed. “I’ll have you know that I truly am this shallow and self-absorbed. There is no pretense.”
Xander sighed. “Sadly... still wanna hang. I’m beginning to think I can’t like a girl unless she beats me up just a little, and since you Slytherins are such big fans of the torture thing, I was bound to be attracted to one of you at some point.”
Pansy chuckled at the word ‘torture’. “Who doesn’t like a little pain with their pleasure?”
Xander made a face at her.