"Boy!" Vernon Dursley bellowed. Harry Potter looked up from the book he was reading on the couch.
"Yes Uncle Vernon?" He asked flatly.
"I am hosting a few Yankee businessmen and I'll not have you here embarassing this important meeting!" Vernon growled. "So..." He looked as though he was swallowing something unpleasant, before he pulled out his wallet. He handed over a single 20 pound bill. "Go. Have... F-Fun," he hissed.
"What? With twenty pounds?" Harry asked flatly. "You must be joking. That'll keep me out of trouble for, what... Thirty minutes?"
"Why you ungrateful little-!" Vernon began, but Harry held up a hand. He lowered three of his fingers.
"Option one: You give me enough money to stay away and enjoy myself. Option two: I hang around and talk about my school, or parents, or friends, or broom-"
Vernon shoved another twenty bill into his hand. Harry cocked an eyebrow.
"Or I could just start with elves, and dragons, and-"
"Fine, fine, FINE!" Vernon bellowed, yanking out his entire wallet's contents and handing them over to his nephew. "GO!"
"Thanks Uncle," said Harry with a cheerful grin, getting up and walking out the door without another word. Frankly, the moment he'd realized his guardians were just a bunch of witless cowards they became a lot easier to deal with.
He walked out and caught a bus to the nearest shopping center. Dismounting it, he looked out at the crowds of muggles enjoying the summer air. He found his eyes going to a few schoolgirls his age, who were talking in a little group nearby. A few looked up at him, and giggled while whispering to one another. It brought a little smile to his face. They were eying him like they would any other decent looking bloke and that helped him forget his troubles, just for a bit.
He walked out and just watched the people milling about, old people, young people...
"Hm?" Harry paused as he saw a girl with a black pageboy cut and familiar green and black stockings walk past, wearing a coat that was a bit too big for her. He frowned. It couldn't be...
The girl walked up to the window of a Wimpy's restaurant. She wrung her hands, and sighed. Harry walked next to her, and stared at her face. She blinked, and looked over at him. Her eyes widened.
"Potter?!" She gasped.
"Parkinson?" He replied back, in equal incredulity.
The two stared at each other for a long moment. Pansy's hands twitched, as though she wanted to go for her wand. Harry remained silent, still, and watching. The Slytherin girl snorted, and looked aside.
"Figures you'd be in a trash heap like this," she spat, though without her usual venom. In it's place was fatigue, and resignation. Harry's frown changed tone.
"You all right? You look..."
"Awful? Isn't that kind of default with Slytherins, Potter?" Pansy spat back. Harry's eyes narrowed.
"What are you even doing here?" He asked. Pansy looked back into the restaurant, her eyes on plates of food. She grimaced.
"None of your business!" She spat back, turning to storm off. Harry reached out and seized her shoulders, pulling her back. She struggled a bit, turning to glare up into his eyes. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close, as he'd seen her eyes go down at his crotch. She blushed bright red, and continued to struggle. "Let me go, let me-!"
"Pansy!" Harry barked. "We're not in school right now!"
Pansy ceased her struggles, looking up at him in curiosity. Harry sighed.
"All I see is someone who looks like they could use some help," he said. "That's all... So..." He gestured to the restaurant. "You want to have some lunch, or not?"
Pansy worried her lower lip. She looked at the window, and back to Harry. Her shoulders drooped, and she looked utterly exhausted.
"... Sure," she said softly. Harry nodded, and let her go. His hand lingered near hers though... And she took it in her own. Harry stared at her, and she blushed softly. An expression he shared. After all, she may have been a Slytherin but she was still a GIRL.
"Ah... Right," he said. He squeezed her hand, feeling awkward. Then, he led her to the door of the diner. They sat down at a booth, and a server soon arrived. She smiled brightly at them both, her teeth flashing with the same intensity as the buttons on her vest. Pansy stared at her in curiosity.
"Welcome to Wimpy's, can I take your order?" She asked cheerfully.
"Just two specials, with unlimited drink refills," Harry said quickly. He looked at Pansy for a moment longer, before smiling a bit. "And I'll try these double sundaes of yours."
"Right!" The waitress said cheerfully, scribbling this down. "I'll have it up for you in a moment! Thank you!" She flounced off, Pansy staring after her. Harry raised an eyebrow.
"What?" He asked.
"She's so..." Pansy made a face. "Cheerful."
"Part of the service," Harry said. "We could have gotten someone who doesn't give a damn, but it doesn't make for as good a dining experience."
Pansy ran her hands over the smooth linoleum table, studying the material. She looked at the condiment bottles at the ends, and even lifted up one of the complimentary coasters. Harry bit back a snort. He didn't complete succeed though as she looked up with a glare.
"What?" She asked flatly. Harry gestured to her coat.
"You could take that off, it must be really warm," he said. Pansy flushed, and unbuttoned the jacket. She pulled it off her shoulders, and let it slide to the bench. Harry stared, his cheeks turning red again. Pansy flushed back and scowled.
"What? I... This is what I could get," she insisted, holding her hands up over her chest. A chest barely covered in a tight, white tanktop with the words "LOVE PUMP" emblazoned across it, and a thin black bra peeking out from under the overly large collar. Combined with the boots, striped stockings and short skirt, it was a rather... Stimulating view. Something he'd never associated with Pansy, really.
"It ah, suits you, really," Harry said. Pansy scowled and gripped the edge of the table.
"Is that supposed to be a joke at my expense?" She asked angrily. "I don't know how fashion works among you oafish Muggleborns but perhaps the great and compassionate Harry Potter could show some respect?!"
Harry felt eyes on them. Curious eyes. His natural aversion to attention kicked in, and he slouched a bit. It didn't help his view though-Pansy leaning forward let him see right down her shirt to the valley of her pert breasts. He stared intently and Pansy noticed, judging from the furious expression on her face.
"And I'd appreciate it if you didn't-Didn't-!"
"Can I help you two?" The perky server from before asked. She smiled brightly. "Rough night for you two?" There was an insinuation in her tone that Harry caught onto... And sudden inspiration stuck. He reached out and grabbed Pansy's hands, pulling her face close to his. He nuzzled her affectionately, and she froze.
"Ah, a bit," Harry said quickly. He smiled at Pansy. "Look sweetie, I'm not acting like this because I don't like what you wear-I actually think it makes you look brilliant."
Pansy stared at him, her cheeks coloring. "Ah..."
"And we should probably keep things quiet... So we don't attract attention, right?" He went on, gesturing with his eyebrows to the rest of the diner. Pansy flushed... And in an instant, her body language changed. She leaned forward and kissed his lips lightly, with a honey sweet look in her eyes.
"Of course darling... After all, this is our night out," she purred softly. "I'm sorry... Let me make it up to you. Later~."
The tone in her voice made Harry's entire face flash bright red, and the server let out a giggle.
"Ah, yes, well, good," the server said quickly. "Lovely... I'll be right back!" She hurried off, and Pansy slowly sat back in her seat. Harry did the same, still bright red. Pansy smirked softly, arching an eyebrow. The fact she'd gotten a reaction out of him like that... It pleased her? Harry couldn't figure it out, save that she probably just enjoyed getting one up on him. Still thinking like a Slytherin, of course.
Their food soon came, and Harry tore into his burger. Pansy eyed her food with some disdain, sniffing it. She took a dubious bite... And then began devouring it eagerly, as though she hadn't had anything to eat in a while. Harry watched, a bit astonished, but he saved his questions after she was done with her meal.
"So," Harry began again, "about... Why you're out here?"
Pansy wiped her face with a napkin, and sighed softly. She looked at Harry, and she sneered very slightly.
"If you must know," she began, "I ran away from home."
Harry blinked. "You? Why?"
"Why? Why do you think?" Pansy snorted. Harry shrugged.
"I honestly haven't the foggiest," he admitted. Pansy blinked, incredulous.
"I'm sorry, what. You don't have the foggiest?"
"In case you hadn't noticed, I'm stuck out in Surrey for the summer without any contact from the wizarding world," Harry said dryly. "Information's a little hard to come by."
Pansy shook her head, disbelief written all over her face. "I... I figured you'd be constantly up to date, in some kind of... Hero lair or something," she said, waving her hand. Harry laughed.
"Well it was a thought!" Pansy said defensively. "But... If you really don't know?"
"Well... Under the Peace and Prosperity Act passed by the Wizenmagot," Pansy began, "trade with the Muggle world has been... Suspended."
Harry blinked. "Trade? There's trade with the Muggle World?"
Pansy snorted. "Of course there's trade! My father makes his living with interests in trading companies! Where did you think all that food and cloth and everything else came from?"
"Magic?" Harry said, a bit lamely. Pansy shook her head.
"No, no... Muggles produce so much excess, we just buy all that stuff off them," she said. "After all, gold is worth plenty to these magicless twerps. And we've no shortage of that if we have the right raw materials. But we need the raw materials or we don't have anything."
"So, why did they cut off trade?" Harry asked, mystified. Pansy sighed and shrugged.
"What else? Appease the Dark Lord," she said. Harry gaped, and would have choked on his drink had he been sipping anything.
"Shh," Pansy hissed, and Harry once again felt eyes on him. He cleared his throat.
"I mean... What?" He said quietly. Pansy sighed.
"Fudge thought that if we cut off contact with the Muggle World, it would make the Dark Lord less inclined to attack," Pansy explained. "And apparently it's worked, but..." She grimaced. "But the wizarding world is facing a bit of... Well... A crisis."
"And you ran away to escape it?" Harry guessed. Pansy snorted.
"I ran away so my parents wouldn't marry me off to keep our house," she huffed. Harry blinked, and sympathy entered his eyes. Pansy looked away, scowling.
"Oh... I'm so sorry," he said. "And since you can't use magic or they'll find you-"
"Yeah," Pansy muttered. She rolled her eyes. "And of course, I stumbled into you. Merlin's thumbs, I really am unlucky aren't I?"
"Dating Draco Malfoy? Yeah, that's unlucky," Harry said with a nod. Pansy snorted in amusement, and it felt strangely good to see a smile on her face. One he caused.
"Yeah," Pansy sighed. She pulled her jacket back on. "Look..." She worked her jaw, as though around something unpleasant. "I... Thanks for the food, but I really should be-"
"Do you have anywhere to stay?" Harry asked bluntly. Pansy scowled.
"I... I can find some way to stay! There are plenty of stupid Muggles who would take in a girl!" Pansy said. Harry coughed, and shook his head.
"Or, you can stay with me," Harry quickly offered. Pansy flushed.
"I... What?" She asked.
"Stay. With me," Harry said. "I mean, my relatives won't like it but they'll have to put up with it. After all," and here he smiled, "what kind of Gryffindor would I be if I didn't help you out? Ya know, knight rescuing the damsel in distress?"
Pansy scowled, and crossed her arms under her breasts. She looked thoughtful for a time, and Harry was about to speak again when she smiled. Almost knowingly, and with an edge that made Harry blush hard.
"I see," she said with a nod. "Well... I could do worse. A LOT worse." She eyed him, and Harry felt a bit... Stiff. "Anyway, take me home then," and she reached out to caress his face playfully, "darling~."
Harry coughed, slammed some money down on the table, and rose. Pansy wrapped her arms around his arm and laid her head against his shoulder. He blushed heavily, and slowly walked to the door. The perky waitress from before waved her hand.
"Goodnight you two! Have fun!" She said, and once again there was that innuendo. Was that just a girl thing or what?
Harry didn't know. He decided he'd resolve the mystery of women later. He had to focus on his next obstacle-Getting the Dursleys to let Pansy stay...
Harry approached Number Four Privet Drive from the backyard, Pansy still clutching at him tightly. He spared her a glance that was meant to be comforting, but the smile on her face still had that almost hungry bent to it.
"You live here?" Pansy whispered, eying the house with some disdain. "How on Earth do you tell this house from all the others?"
"It's where I feel most miserable," Harry said simply, shrugging. "The Dursley home. Now come on."
He hopped over the fence into the backyard. Pansy followed, her legs surprisingly toned. Harry flushed when she looked at him, a knowing look in her eyes.
"Being on the run hasn't been much fun, but I suppose there are advantages to it," she said, quite deliberately brushing her skirt off to show off her hips. Harry swallowed, and quickly averted his eyes. She's a Slytherin, she's just messing with me, he thought to himself firmly.
"Now, we're going to have to be quiet about this," Harry said in a low voice. "My uncle's entertaining some important guests and we don't want to get in the middle of it."
"Important guests?" Pansy asked, raising an eyebrow. Harry rolled his eyes.
"Yes! Presumably," he said. He knelt down and retrieved the spare key from under a fake rock. He stood up and put the key to the lock. The door came unlocked, and Harry very slowly turned the knob to open it. He looked around, trying very hard to ignore Pansy pressing herself up against his back.
"Are we clear?" She murmured, her breath hot against the back of his neck. He forced down a shudder that wasn't of disgust at all.
JUST MESSING WITH ME! He reminded himself.
"Yeah," Harry muttered, taking his first few steps into the Dursley home. Pansy followed. They crept down the hallway, Pansy eyeing the photos on the walls with some distaste.
They almost made it to the stairs, when Petunia appeared through the door to the sitting room. All three stopped and stared at each other for a moment. Harry quickly tried to come up with something other than pulling his wand, but before he could Pansy stepped forward.
"Hello Mrs. Dursley," Pansy said, her voice having dropped all it's usual condescension and now being quite... Pleasant. Petunia blinked in some astonishment.
"I'm Pansy Parkinson, and your nephew has just shown me the most wonderful time!" Pansy said, looking quite deliberately into the sitting room. Vernon sat there with two bored looking men in suits. Vernon himself was starting to turn purple around his gills and Harry again tried to speak.
"And even offered his coat to me," Pansy continued, still sickly sweet. "Oh, where are my manners? I'm Pansy Parkinson, so sorry to interrupt." She looked appropriately contrite. "I wasn't interrupting anything, was I?"
"Oh, no! No, not at all," said the blonde American, adjusting his suit. He looked over at Vernon. "You never told us you had a nephew, Vernon!"
"Such a shame, too," Pansy immediately interjected, striding in with Harry's hand in her own. She practically dragged him to the empty couch, and they sat down facing the foreign visitors. "I'm quite sure it was due to simple modesty on Mr. Dursley's part! His nephew is a friend of mine from school. Took me out for a lovely date tonight!"
"I... It..." Harry stuttered, but at an elbow from Pansy he quickly got out, "yes. We did. I-I did!"
"He's such a nice young man, paying for everything," Pansy sighed, squeezing Harry's hand. "Such a gentleman! Well..." And here she smirked very slightly. "Not too much of one, if you understand?" She then blushed, and held her free hand up to her cheek. "Oh my, perhaps I've said too much..."
Vernon made a choking sound. The two Americans stared for a moment, and then laughed in unison. The boredom on their faces vanished, and Harry noted they seemed a lot more relaxed. He imagined an evening with the Dursleys was awful for anyone, not just him.
"Haha! You're a spitfire, young lady," the brown haired man chuckled. He looked at Vernon with some mild reproachment. "You shouldn't have hidden your nephew and his girlfriend away, Vernon!"
"Ah, well... They were out on a date," Vernon managed in a strained tone. "You know, young people have to have their... F-Fun."
"Quite right!" The blonde man laughed. "Glad to see you're not nearly as stuffy as we were led to believe!"
Petunia slowly came back into the sitting room, standing next to her husband with a similar look of muted horror. Harry didn't think he was much better himself, as Pansy proceeded to charm the two businessmen like there was no tomorrow. He found himself laughing a few times himself, though Pansy's elbow provided most of the incentive. Even Petunia lightened up a bit, especially when Pansy gave her a sincere compliment on her cooking. Vernon, on the other hand, kept looking like he wanted to gulp down the entire bottle of wine on the table.
It was astonishing just how charming Pansy could really be, and Harry was thankful she'd taken the reins. Killing monsters and beating up dark wizards was his thing. Talking convincingly and being pretty? Not really.
At long last, the two men rose and said their goodbyes. They shook hands with Harry and Petunia, and one kissed the hand of Pansy. She blushed and giggled appropriately, as the two men turned back to Vernon.
"Gotta say, this has really been great, Vernon!" The blonde said happily, pumping his hand up and down. "I think this deal is going to go through just fine!"
"I... R-Really?" Vernon asked. The brown haired man laughed and patted Vernon on the shoulder.
"Of course! You really showed us," he said. He gave a wink. "Sending them out and bringing them in just at the right time. I underestimated you," he murmured. Vernon smiled, looking quite pleased.
"Ah, yes! Yes, of course!"
"Please don't forget about me, gentlemen," Pansy said with a sunny smile. The two men laughed.
"Of course not, Pansy! Never!" The blonde man replied.
"Have a good night, all of you... And especially you, Harry," the brown haired man said, smirking a bit at Harry. His cheeks went bright red, as Pansy giggled.
The two men left, and Vernon walked them to their cars. Petunia immediately spun around and scowled at Harry.
"Potter! Exactly what is the meaning of this?!" She demanded. "How could you bring a-a-!?"
"He saved me," Pansy said quickly. Petunia started, as did Harry.
"You recall those creatures that attacked him and your son last year?" Pansy quickly spoke. She gave Petunia a look hinting at trauma. "He saved me from one of those..." She looked to Harry with a warm smile. "I... I really can't repay him enough..." She slowly looked back at her. "And I have no where else to go."
Petunia's face showed something Harry had never seen before: Sympathy.
"Oh... You poor dear," Petunia murmured, walking over to Pansy and hugging her. Pansy hugged her back, burying her face in her shoulder. Harry stared in disbelief, and pinched himself. He then pinched himself harder, just in case he was being hexed.
Vernon soon lumbered in through the door, laughing... Which abruptly changed to a glare as he saw Pansy and Harry. "Now boy! You very nearly ruined me there with you and your tart and I'll-!"
"Vernon!" Petunia snapped, and her husband's face fell. "Don't insult her! She's been through a terrible time and she helped save the evening!"
"But... But..." Vernon sputtered. Petunia sighed, and examined Pansy carefully.
"Harry, you'll sleep on the couch," she said. "Pansy? Let's get you cleaned up and find one of my old dressing gowns, I think they'll fit..."
"Thank you so much, Mrs. Dursley," Pansy said, again with utter sincerity.
"Now now, call me Aunt Petunia," Petunia said with a sickeningly sweet smile. One Pansy returned.
"But-But-!" Vernon tried to get out, but Petunia's glare shut him up. "I..."
"Vernon, get a blanket for the boy," Petunia stated flatly. She beamed at Pansy and led her upstairs. "Now, tell me, what size do you wear...?"
Harry watched Pansy go up the stairs with Petunia. The Slytherin girl spared him a glance, and smirked just a bit... Before winking. Harry blinked, and felt a little smile come to his face. Vernon watched the women go upstairs, and turned to glare at Harry.
"Well boy... Get your blanket!" He barked, though with far less venom than he usually mustered. "And no funny business with that... That..." He looked upstairs where his wife and their new houseguest had gone, and gulped. "Young lady while she's here," he decided on with a glower.
Harry bit back a laugh, but couldn't help his smile. "Of course, Uncle Vernon," he agreed.
Who knew he would ever have a happy memory thanks to Pansy Parkinson? The emasculated look on Vernon's face was going to stay with him for a long, long time...
The Dursley couch was actually quite comfortable, though there wasn't as much back support as Harry was used to. Frankly that was expected-With the weight of the male Dursleys to crush it for years on end, it was a miracle it was still in one piece.
So Harry snoozed, almost getting to sleep... Before his fine tuned senses of imminent doom snapped him awake. He whipped his wand out and had a spell on his lips.
Which was rewarded with Pansy yelping and dropping a glass of milk, which shattered. Harry lowered his wand, as they both breathed deeply.
"... The bloody hell was that for?!" Pansy hissed. Harry got his heartrate under control, and tried very hard to not focus on Pansy in that thin nightdress. It was thin and white with a cheap boring floral print, the kind of gown Aunt Petunia preferred. On a teenaged girl though... With bare legs and an actual figure and not his detestable relative, it was-
"You woke me up," Harry said quickly. "And given how often people try to kill me, I think my reaction was-was perfectly justified," he hissed back. Pansy huffed, and crossed her arms over her chest.
"Well, thanks for reminding me," she muttered back. She looked down at the expanding puddle of milk and broken glass and grimaced. "Oh..." She knelt down and reached for a throwrug. Harry reached out too, and grasped her wrist. She started, and he shook his head.
"You don't want to use that, it'll smell," he said. "I'll be back. Stay here." He rose and walked into the kitchen. He grabbed a washcloth, wet it in the sink, and walked back to the living room. He knelt down to wipe up the mess, taking care to put the glass pieces in a single pile. Pansy watched him, almost fascinated. He gave her a glance and frowned.
"What?" He murmured, a bit annoyed. Pansy shrugged.
"I dunno... It's just..." She sighed. "It isn't exactly how I pictured the great Harry Potter: On his knees scrubbing floors."
Harry stared at her, and couldn't help a little chuckle. Pansy frowned.
"I never imagined Pansy Parkinson showing concern about the Great Harry Potter," he replied in a mocking echo. "What? Sorry I'm not a good enough rival for your boytoy?"
Pansy huffed. "Please. The best Draco can do is throw his father's money and name around. He hasn't an ounce of cunning, not one bit." She sat down on the couch, and crossed her arms under her breasts. She leaned forward slightly, and Harry frowned.
"And he really is... Is hopeless," Pansy went on with a sigh. "I mean, I kept steering him towards Daphne but he hasn't a clue. He's utterly blind to... To anyone's feelings. I mean, sometimes he tries to cheer me up but he really is hopeless at it and..." She shut her mouth and scowled at him. "What am I telling you all this for?"
Harry carefully put the broken glass into his washcloth, and set it aside. He sat down on the couch next to Pansy, and shrugged himself.
"I guess... You need someone to talk to," Harry said. "I mean... At least I know what you're talking about, right?"
Pansy stared at Harry for a moment, before returning her gaze to the floor. "I... Yeah," she mumbled. "I've been able to get away with this for a while but... Ya know, real conversation... Is kind of nice."
"Even with me?"
"Even with you," Pansy said with a nod. Harry smiled a bit, and she returned one back. Hesitant, almost shy, but definitely a smile.
"So... Were your parents going to marry you to Draco?" Harry asked. Pansy sighed, and nodded.
"And you said no, and ran off?" Harry asked. Pansy snorted.
"I ran off because I wasn't going to be married off for... For food, and for my parents to keep living in their house!" She shook her head. "I mean, I knew I'd be expected to marry for advantage, for politics and so on."
"You expected it?" Harry asked. Pansy sniffed.
"Yes. I don't have a particularly wide field of suitors, Potter. Pureblood males of my station are in rather short supply, and if it wasn't Draco it'd be Blaise, or a Nott, or a Flint, or Merlin forbid a Crabbe or Goyle..." She made a face. "But it wouldn't be just to enrich my parents! It would be to... To continue the household! To be a true Lady! Not..." She sighed. "Not just a bargaining chip. I mean, if I married Draco now I'd just be a bit of cattle, or a prize in his house. No inheritance for us, no house, just me sitting around popping out babies and... And never knowing anything else."
Harry slowly nodded. "I see..."
"I-I couldn't do that!" Pansy huffed. "Not when my parents were just tossing me over so they could keep their mansion and servants and riches and... And..."
"And they gave you up before all that?" Harry asked. Pansy shut her eyes tightly, and her hands balled into fists. Harry hesitated for a moment, but he wrapped his arm around her shoulders. She leaned into him, and he heard her cry.
"Stupid... Stupid me," she sniffled. "I shouldn't have run away..."
"Yes, you should have," Harry said. Pansy choked on another sob, and looked up at him. Her eyes were red and her face stained with tears. For some reason though, Harry couldn't help the thought she was kind of pretty.
He then squelched that thought like Hagrid's brother stepping on an Acromantula.
"We've... Ya know, had our differences," he admitted, "but even someone like you doesn't deserve that."
Pansy sniffled, and pressed her face against his chest. She sighed.
"Stupid Potter," she muttered. Harry smiled and stroked her back.
"Stupid Parkinson," he replied, unsure of what else to say.