Letters From the Edge

Book Three - Pansy

17 April 2000 – Malfoy Manor

The Malfoy-Greengrass handfasting ceremony was in process as Pansy crept around the grounds of Malfoy Manor. She followed a path of rose petals around the grand mansion and hid in the back, behind the flowered archway she was positive Astoria had walked through; on her way to someone else’s husband. It did not take Pansy long to join the focus of every set of eyes present on the white canopy beneath which Draco stood, in the most magnificent black dress robes, holding hands with Astoria Greengrass, his bride. Pansy felt her body involuntarily moving forward as if she were about to lose control and state her objections by means of a public declaration of love, but her head took control and stopped her. She fought to clear her mind just in time to hear the soon to be Malfoys pledging their commitment to each other. Too bad he’s just telling you what his father needs to hear and he has no intention of being committed to anyone but me, she thought as Astoria smiled brightly while Draco spoke his repeated vows.

No matter how strongly she believed that Draco would always love her and only her, Pansy was nauseated by the scene before her. She felt as if she was being stabbed over and over. When the older wizard performing the ceremony called for the exchanged of rings, the dark haired woman started wishing more strongly than ever that she had trusted her initial instincts and stayed away. She started back towards the front of the grounds and ran directly into Lucius Malfoy. She cowered back from him and blurted, “I’m sorry I…I know I should not be here but…I had to see it for myself.”

“And are you satisfied now that you and Draco have no possible future together or shall I elaborate on your lesson?” Lucius glared at her with a menacing smile on his face; his tone was patronizingly sweet. “I understand this need to grasp for him until the very end, Ms. Parkinson. Draco was your way out of a life that has been depressing since the day you were born. That is why I allowed him to waste months searching for you and then an entire year in the forest –”

“You took pity on me?” Pansy snarled at the patriarch, forgetting for a moment how dangerous Lucius Malfoy could be. In the next moment she cowered apologetically and looked down.

Malfoy moved closer and lowered his tone, “Of course. You certainly could not have believed that I would have ever allowed you to carry the Malfoy name. You must have known all along that you and Draco are vastly different and he would eventually outgrow your varied indiscretions.”

Pansy quickly wiped random tears rolling down her face; showing how irritated she was that she had been unable to hold them back. She cleared her throat to prevent her voice from cracking, making her appear even more vulnerable, then finally responded, “What I have known all along and what I will continue to believe until the day I die is that your son loves me. You may do your worst to keep us apart, but I will always have his heart because I traded it for mine and there is nothing you can do to change that, Mr. Malfoy.”

“And what happens should your heart stop beating?” Lucius delighted at the look of fear in Pansy’s expression and it caused him to chuckle quietly, “Perhaps I have gone about this all wrong. Threats to your life are obviously inconsequential to either one of you so let me see if I can change your mind another way. If anything at all disassembles the life that Astoria Greengrass-Malfoy sees herself having with Draco, whether you are the direct cause or not, I will end his life with a flick of my wand.”

“Your threats are powerful, but you would never kill your own son.” Pansy started to walk away, but when Lucius continued she stopped to listen.

“He is of no use to me unless this arrangement with the Greengrass family is nurtured. If Astoria is upset, if their marriage does not grow and prosper then he has run out of chances to prove he is worthy of this family. I intend on there being an heir and I will certainly not have a bastard child running around looking for handouts. So should you continue to interfere with Draco’s future then I will see to it he does not have one. Do I make myself clear?” Lucius waited for Pansy to turn around and smiled at the confirmation in her expression, “I thought you would understand. I do feel it is my obligation, considering how my son felt about you, that I provide you with the means to leave and –”

Pansy hissed her interruption, “I do not want anything from you. I can take care of myself,” then started again to walk away.

“You will need to end things with him…something permanent so he does not come looking for you. There is parchment and a quill sitting in the drawing room waiting. Now, if you will excuse me, the Polyjuiced house elf sitting next to my wife will be starting to turn soon. You can see yourself out?” Lucius did not wait for a response before walking away, “And please don’t steal anything.”

The dark haired woman stood shaking in the place where Lucius left her until she heard a round of applause; and her heart finally shattered into pieces. She turned and went into the Manor, into the drawing room, and sat at a desk in front of the blank parchment which quickly absorbed her falling tears.

17 April 200


You looked exquisite today, just like I always imagined. Of course, never in my wildest dreams, most especially after the year we spent together at the cottage, did I ever imagine that I would witness all of that brilliance from the back. I know I told you I would not attend your ceremony, but I had to see for myself that this wasn’t just a nightmare. I had to know…that it was just a game, an arrangement. I wish I had left well enough alone because you failed to mention that you loved her, Draco.

Deny it all you want to, but I saw it with my own eyes. I knew you cared about her, but I could have sworn you said that you were doing this because you had to and that you truly loved me. I believed you again because for the first time you actually asked me if I would and you still muddled the truth. Looking at her I suppose there was no way you could resist. I guess yet again I am reaping the consequences for who I am. I have also made one final decision about who I refuse to be anymore and that is why today had to happen no matter how painful.

I will be eternally grateful that you saved my life and I will treasure the year we spent in our own little world, but I realize now that no matter what we said or planned, we were destined to end up this way. You were meant for someone spectacular and it would appear you have found her. It is truly my wish that you and Astoria have the most brilliant life together. She can give you what I never could; a beautiful family, a prestigious social life, opportunities for a brilliant career.

The truth is we have always been different and while we were swept up in the romantic gestures of rescues and hiding out together, we were always meant to say goodbye. I want you to know that you did everything you could for me, loved me more than anyone else ever has and I will cherish that always. Thank you for keeping your promise and remaining the wonderful man you became after the war. What we had was epic, while it lasted, but someone had to go and I volunteer. I asked you not to forget me and now I am begging you to push me as far from your mind as possible. Do not be poisoned by memories of what we shared; just look forward.

Let yourself love her, Draco, because there is no point in holding onto your love for me. I release you from your promises and if it makes you feel any better, I promise that I can and will take care of myself. Please don’t try to find me because I am already gone.

Be safe and take care of yourself,


Pansy folded the letter and stood from the desk realizing that Lucius had not told her how she was supposed to deliver her goodbye. Without hesitation, she left the drawing room and walked up the staircase to Draco’s room. The minute she opened the door, she was enveloped by his scent and closed her eyes, inhaling deeply. For whatever reason, her tears had dried, and though she thought crying would ease the pain in her chest, she was unable to shed one more tear. She walked over and rested the letter on Draco’s book of parchment that sat open on the desk in his room.

Knowing that it was not appropriate for her to read anything Draco had written, Pansy tossed the letter down and started to walk away. When her name jumped off the page however she could not control her eyes and looked down at the last passage written.

For years I had no heart, barely a soul, nothing that sparked the very core of my emotion. Now, I am shamelessly in love with one woman and marrying another who I also find stimulating, but do not love in that way and who does not love me in that way. I can not have Pansy and I worry that someday Astoria will realize that all of the agreements and understandings that we had in the beginning robbed her of the life she truly deserves. At the end of the day, who really wants to be married to me? Who could ever handle all that loving me entails besides Pansy Parkinson?

What in the bloody hell am I going to do?

Pansy ran her fingers over the printing and took a deep breath. Draco’s circumstance was truly perplexing. If Pansy stayed and encouraged Draco to share intimate moments with her then he would be betraying Astoria. At the same time, leaving still meant she was sacrificing everything she had. Draco was her lifeline and an existence without even a small part of him was the cruelest punishment she had yet endured. But in order to keep Draco safe, alive, Pansy had no choice but to obey the commands of the Malfoy Patriarch; so she left her letter and rushed from Draco’s bedroom before she could change her mind again.

Once outside the Manor gates, Pansy disapparated to London and right back to Blaise’s flat. Her mind was still reeling from the reality that she would never be able to see Draco again without putting him in harm’s way and it did not occur to her that Blaise was still at the Manor until she was just outside his flat door. She turned to lean against the door, slumped to the floor and finally her tears returned. After hours of feeling that she would drown inside herself, Pansy pulled out a book of parchment that Draco had bought her for their perfect Christmas the year before and started moving her quill rapidly across the pages.

17 April 2000

The world feels as if it is starting to end today. I went to the Manor…after saying a hundred million times that I would not. I should not have. They are married…Draco Malfoy and Astoria Greengrass-Malfoy…destined to be prestigious, carry on the Malfoy name with multiple heirs, and live happily ever after. My plan of still having a life with Draco was shattered on multiple levels, the worst of which not even being the ceremony itself. I ran into Draco’s father while trying to make my escape. Lucius said that if Draco ruins this “arrangement” with the Greengrass family that he will kill him. Something about this being the last chance for Draco to prove he is a worthy member of the Malfoy family. Lucius needs to be disposed of… and Draco can not do it because he would never survive the guilt but…how is it possible that Voldemort let Lucius live?

Who would have ever thought that the worst suffering I would endure would surpass even my months of captivity after the war? Of course I would have never imagined having even one year of perfect bliss with Draco Malfoy at all? It is difficult for me to decide now if I’m happy that he saved me. I have all of the memories of what we shared now, and of course I am still alive, but what kind of life do I have? I have nothing left; no Draco, no family. I did not graduate, I have nowhere to live, no money…and of course I am the person who willingly offered Harry bloody Potter to Voldemort on the bloodiest night in the wizarding world’s history so…what difference would it really have made in the long run if I had just not survived the vigilante? Draco would still have been forced to marry Astoria and he would have done so without the worry of how to keep everyone happy and saving his soul. If he was going to fall in love with her anyway than technically speaking I have just been in the way. Though not anymore which brings me back full circle…what kind of life do I have now?

I will cherish the memory of last night…our last night together. I woke up this morning and remembered the promises we made last night and I actually thought that we could be together still…despite all the obstacles. I wish I knew what I am supposed to do now that the dream has been shattered. I spent my entire life pushing everyone except Draco away and now that I’ve made that final push I am finally alone…

The word alone jumped off the page and twisted the knot in Pansy’s stomach. Her tears increased, she pulled her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them where she buried her face and sobbed.

Just after midnight Blaise walked up the stairs to his flat and as he turned the corner he found Pansy sitting outside his door with her head rested on her knees. He rushed over and knelt beside her, “How long have you been here?”

Pansy looked up with tear soaked eyes that she attempted to dry, but more tears fell, “Since this afternoon. I went to the Manor, arrived just in time for the exchange of vows that I expected to be fake, but I’m pretty sure he loves her so… How was the reception…” She barely finished speaking when her tears turned to sobs and she clung tight to Blaise.

There were no comforting words for what Pansy was feeling so Blaise picked her up and took her inside. He set the sobbing girl on the sofa and waived his wand for tissues. He rubbed her back and finally put his arms around her, “Pans, you have to breathe. Should I use a spell to make you stop or –”

She pulled away and though her tears continued to fall a quick smile washed across her face, “No…I’m sorry…this is horribly unfair to you and –”

“I want to help,” Blaise took Pansy’s hands and squeezed them, “I’m just not equipped to deal with all the crying so you have to tell me what I am supposed to do.”

Pansy smiled and squeezed his hands, “You can start by telling me that I can stay here at least tonight, and then tomorrow I will go and find a place of my own so – ”

“You can stay as long as you like. I already told you that.” Blaise paused and hugged Pansy, “If it is any consolation, Draco does love you and does want to be with you and –”

“But he can’t…he can’t do either one actually or his father will kill him.” Pansy took a deep breath and interpreted Blaise’s arched eyebrow as a request for her to elaborate so she continued, “I went to the ceremony and was caught by Lucius while trying to escape. He informed me that if Draco ruined this arrangement with Astoria that he would be killed because it would make him worthless in Lucius’ master plan. He made me write Draco a letter ending things and to keep him safe that is what I did.” Pansy stood and started pacing.

“Well this is simple. I go and tell Draco what happened and –”

“No! Leave it. I made Draco promise me that he would stay the wonderful person he became after the war and…well this is the only way…he’s already conflicted –”

“You spoke to him?” Blaise looked concerned when Pansy smiled mischievously.

“I read a small passage from his journal…” She trailed off when Blaise gave her a reprimanding look, “What? I saw my name and I could not help myself. Anyway…he has been struggling with the idea of hurting Astoria by engaging in any sort of relationship with me…because he actually cares about and I think probably loves that little trollop.”

Blaise stood and stopped Pansy’s pacing, “He loves you.”

“I know that, but he can have a second chance with her and I want him to have an amazing life. If I just stay away then eventually he’ll fall in love with her, if he’s not already, and his father will leave him alone. And I will just have to reinvent myself. I wonder if I would make it in America.” She smiled sadly and chuckled at her friends visual disapproval with her suggestion, “Or not –”

Blaise pulled Pansy into a tight hug, “Don’t move so far away…at least not for a little while. We will have fun I promise. London has been kind since the war.” He pulled away and kissed her forehead, “And I will do anything I can to help you.”

“For now just don’t leave me alone.” Tears welling up in Pansy’s eyes finally started to fall and she wrapped her arms around Blaise’s waist.

“You will never be left alone again, Pans…that I promise you.” He squeezed her then pulled away and led her back to the sofa, “Sit, put your feet up and I will put on some tea.”

Pansy sat back on the sofa as Blaise walked toward the kitchen. She closed her eyes, but no matter how hard she tried she could not erase the image of Draco, under a white canopy, holding hands with the woman who was supposed to be her. A memory spell is the only way to survive this, she thought to herself before she was startled by Blaise walking back into the living room with mugs.

25 May 2000

It has been just a little more then a month since the wedding; the day that my world stopped turning…at least for a few weeks. I know Blaise was sorry he let me stay here because I didn’t even get out of bed for the first week and a half. It honestly felt like I was dying and most days I wished it would just happen. Every time another owl arrived from Draco my heart actually stopped. I know Blaise thought I was mental for not just opening them and I put him in the terrible position of having to fight Draco off, but if I am going to stay away it has to be completely. Blaise said that Draco has not been taking this separation well ,but I know he can survive losing me. Surviving his father if we try and sneak around is another matter and I will not put him in that kind of danger regardless of what I want. It has to be this way.

One afternoon last week I finally woke up and decided I needed to take control. I got dressed, went into London and found a perfect little Muggle pub, hidden from the busy streets, called The Cupboard. I walked inside, ordered a drink and after fifteen minutes I asked for a job. I started the next night and have worked nearly every night since. So far everything has been going well. I did panic the other night when a customer at the bar asked when I was getting married. When I looked down at my engagement ring, which I refuse to take off, I almost started to cry. Of course I covered brilliantly with an elaborate story of what I thought was someday going to be true and by the end of the conversation the older gentleman told me that a pretty girl like me shouldn’t tie myself down so young. The sentiment made me smile which I am trying to enjoy doing any chance I have.

I finally have the day off today and am excited because Blaise and I are going to spend it in Diagon Alley. I want to go to Flourish & Blotts and purchase a new book of parchment…a fresh start. Anyway, Blaise got a job at the Ministry, in the Department of Magical Games and Sports…the Headquarters of the British Quidditch League to be exact and I am meeting him there. I am thrilled for him though I can hardly imagine working at the Ministry of Magic. I will keep my little hidden pub and my boss named Maggie who doesn’t know I am the witch that tried to turn the chosen one over to the darkest wizard of the ages. She of course does not know that I am a witch at all. I can be normal when I’m there and at times I can even forget about Draco. Of course you can see I opted not to use a memory spell or potion. I was always a little weak with potions and I thought I shouldn’t take any more risks of permanent damage now that I might have found myself a life that will last.

My future forecast looks bright, random rain showers of course as the clouds continue to fade, but I think the storms might finally be settling.

Spring faded into summer and Pansy remained happy with her job and content with the relationship she and Blaise had developed over the months they shared the flat. Because the pub and her roommate provide the ultimate distraction, Pansy’s worst days were when she was not scheduled to work and she was home alone all day while Blaise was at the Ministry. One particularly sunny July afternoon the dark haired woman decided to surprise her best friend at work with the hopes of persuading him to take the rest of the day off. She arrived in the Ministry Atrium by floo and immediately as she stepped into the crowded room she spotted Draco and Astoria.

Pansy was paralyzed in the spot where she stood as she watched the Malfoys standing in the employee security line, holding hands and laughing as they waited. Draco looked happy and based on where he stood it was obvious he had started to establish a career with the Ministry; everything that Pansy wanted and more then she could bear. Her mind started developing the plan of stepping back into the floo to disappear before she looked behind her and as she backed up she ran into a feeble old witch who yelped at her and caused the entire Atrium’s attention to focus in their direction. Pansy attempted to assist the witch and showered her with apologies, but the woman continued to squeal and carry on until finally Pansy noticed Draco moving quickly in their direction.

She looked down once more quickly at the older witch, “Once again, I am so very sorry for the disruption. If you will excuse me please…I must go,” and without another word Pansy disappeared into a nearby floo just as she heard Draco call her name.

The moment Pansy arrived back to the flat she felt nauseous and waited for her stomach to stop turning, but it never ceased and she rushed to the bathroom just in time to throw up. Hours later Blaise returned from work and found her still sitting on the bathroom floor.

He crouched down next to her and ran his fingers gently down the side of her face, “Is this all because of what happened in the Atrium earlier? I ran into Draco today and he told me what happened. I tried to leave early but –”

Pansy raised her head and shook it faintly, “I think I’m really sick, actually. I’ve been waiting for you to get home because none of the spells I’ve tried are working.”

A rush of concern washed across Blaise’s face and he helped Pansy up from the bathroom floor, “Come on then…let’s go to St. Mungo’s and have you checked out.” He helped Pansy clean herself up and they disapparated from the flat.

Pansy sat up from the sterile table in the St. Mungo’s exam room and looked at the Healer with confusion, “I’m sorry, what?”

“You are pregnant. Should I assume that is not the news you wanted to hear?” The female Healer handed Pansy a tissue. “Was that the father who brought you in? I can go and get –”

“No!” Pansy smiled through her tears and softened her tone, “He is not the father and actually this is surprising news, but not bad news at all. I simply need a moment to collect myself.” She tried to keep up with her furiously falling tears and could not decide if they were joyous or terrified. Eventually Pansy laughed and looked at the Healer, “Actually, could you send in my friend please?”

“Of course, I will send him right in.” The woman smiled warmly, gave a quick comforting rub to Pansy’s arm then walked out of the room.

Pansy started to swell immediately with the excitement of a baby. Though the prospect of motherhood was terrifying, even in the best of circumstances, the dark haired girl was smiling brightly as she considered the possibilities. She could not stop herself from imagining a nursery and little dresses or proper little dress robes. Pansy’s thoughts quickly spiraled at the possibility of a boy. Draco’s son…either way Draco’s heir…Lucius will kill us…probably all three of us and…

Blaise opened the door and rushed to Pansy’s side, “The Healer said you wanted to see me. What has happened? Are you ill? Where they able to heal you or is it something bad? If its something bad then we will get through it and I promise I will do whatever I have to do in order to keep you safe.”

“Anything?” Pansy dried her tears and smiled hesitantly at her frantic friend.

Blaise took Pansy’s hands and looked deep into her eyes, “Even if it’s illegal.”

She took a deep breath and squeezed Blaise’s hands, “Then we agree right now, here in this room, that we will swear to our death that this is not Draco’s first heir.”

“I can absolutely…” Blaise trailed off as he realized what Pansy said. He looked at her and when she smiled his question was confirmed and he pulled her into a tight hug, “You’re pregnant… that’s…” he pulled away and smiled, “Are you happy about it?”

She nodded, but her expression was concerned, “There is a lot to consider and of course I am scared and excited and worried. Lucius Malfoy mentioned specifically the day of the wedding that he would not tolerate a bastard heir. There would be little time to explain before he killed Draco and then I would have our baby in Azkaban because I killed Lucius.”

Blaise smiled and put his arms around Pansy, “I will take your secret to the grave, Love. In fact I unknowingly helped your story along by telling Draco this afternoon that you had been called on by numerous suitors at your new job.”

“You told him I’m dating already?” Pansy snapped at Blaise who put his hands up defensively.

“He’s married, Pans…I think he expected that you would date eventually. And now you are in the family way, something you will only be able to hide for so long. It will help if he thinks there is another possible father in fact…it may not be a bad idea to plant that memory in someone.” Blaise chuckled at Pansy’s offended expression, but his tone was serious when he spoke, “You don’t want Lucius demanding clinical proof that you are not carrying the Malfoy heir. A man in your life when Lucius comes calling will help your case.”

“What about you?” Pansy smiled at the look of terror that washed across Blaise’s face, “You don’t really have to do anything.”

“Except look Draco in the face and tell him that you and I were shagging when you were supposed to be epically in love with him. I think it would be far less devastating if your indiscretions were with an unknown party.” Blaise could see that the lies were already taking the joy away from Pansy so he sat down and wrapped his arms around her. “Tell you what...we are going to schedule a follow up appointment and get out of here. We can go and have a big dinner and then we will stop in that baby shop on the corner before we go home. Then later we will come up with a solid story to be told. I know that you want to be excited and I think that you should have time for that first…we can worry about the rest later.”

Pansy pulled away enough to look at Blaise, “I love you…thank you so much for being here with me.”

“I love you too,” he kissed her head then stood and held out his hand, “Now let’s go and get the two of you something to eat. Half of the fun is going to be watching you finally put on some weight.”

She rolled her eyes as she hopped off the table and took Blaise’s hand, “I’m pretty sure I lost a few pounds in the bathroom this afternoon. Now suddenly I am starving!”

13 July 2000

Life altering experience number one million and seventy five…and yet again involving Draco Malfoy. I found out I am pregnant today. It explains quite a bit, most especially the projectile vomiting upon arriving back to the flat…from the Ministry…where I narrowly escaped Draco by using a nearby floo. When I arrived at the Ministry this afternoon hoping to lure Blaise away from his responsibilities I had no idea that I was in for such an adventure.

I saw them…the Malfoy’s…across the Atrium. They were holding hands and laughing and it was brilliant. If it was anyone other then him I may have even smiled enviously at the sweetness of the couple, but because it was him my envy caused me to panic, run into an old woman trying to make my escape and the old bag caused a scene. My eyes locked with Draco’s and I heard him say my name just before I disappeared. It has been a whirlwind ever since. I threw up…a lot, went to St. Mungo’s and found out I was pregnant. And now here we are…with the story.

It is impossible for Draco to ever know this is his child which is just another torture for me because I am so excited to be having his child I can hardly contain it. I know this is selfish and possibly wicked, but I feel vindicated to have this part of him always. I also know that some would question this thought, but there is something so amazing about the idea that this baby will be mine…completely mine and I will love him or her as much as I pray he or she will love me. This is the last brilliant thing Draco and I did together and I do not think I could ever be thankful enough for this new opportunity to build a life that I probably do not even deserve, but will be tireless in protecting. If Lucius Malfoy ever finds out that I have the Malfoy heir he will kill us…I have no doubt that even includes Draco and I will not risk any of our lives by telling the truth.

So there is this boy who comes into the pub all the time named Riley MacAulay; blond hair, blue eyes, tall, beautiful. I actually met him when I first came to London and then found out that The Cupboard is one of his favorite places in town. He has asked me out a few times and seems a nice enough guy…and the closest match to Draco that I have at my disposal. I’m sure it goes without saying that the physical similarities just make this easier for me all the way around. I have decided that I will continue to be friendly when he comes in the pub, perhaps I will accept a dinner invitation; however I will not manipulate his memories in any way until it is absolutely necessary. I would rather just keep the pregnancy a secret from the magical world as long as possible and…I don’t know what will happen next. I keep telling Blaise I need to move away from England all together, but he will not let me so…for now I have a Plan B in case the complete deniability of Plan A fails.

Aside from the potential danger, lying, and plans to mess with Muggle minds, I am so very excited about this news I can barely control myself. Admittedly I am scared out of my wits about being a mother but…I think I might actually be good at it. I guess I have about seven months to figure it out.

At six months, Pansy was the most adorable pregnant woman in the world and she glowed bright enough to light a city block. She decided that she would continue working as long as possible to save as much money as she could before the baby came. During the summer Pansy finally accepted one of Riley MacAulay’s dinner invitations and by the time fall arrived she felt closer to him than she had ever imagined possible. Riley was supportive and interested in every aspect of Pansy’s pregnancy and plans once the baby came. For the first time since the day Lucius Malfoy showed up at the cottage in the forest Pansy felt safe and optimistic about her support system with Blaise on one side and Riley on the other. Everything was working as she had hoped and her secret remained completely in tact.

October had proven to be a busy month for the pub and Pansy found herself in the back room doing inventory every break she had; with Riley’s assistance of course. She stood beside the tall blond boy as he lifted boxes from the shelf and watched the muscles in his arms, dancing beneath his well fitting gray t-shirt, with dazed fascination. She tried to blame the pregnancy hormones, but during their two weeks in close proximity Pansy’s feelings for Riley had started to change. He finally looked over at her and smiled, “Are you feeling all right?”

“Yes! Why?” Pansy snapped out of her gaze and started going through the box that Riley had set down in front of her without her realizing. She could feel the blood rushing to her cheeks and tried not to look up at him as he approached. By the time she looked up Riley was close and his blue eyes entranced her.

“You were staring at me,” Riley smiled and brushed a few random hairs from Pansy’s face, “Not that I’m complaining; just surprised is all.”

Pansy smiled and started to melt into their closeness, “I’m not sure why; you’re beautiful and woman stare at you all the time.”

“Not you…and I know that because you are where my focus is usually at so…” He trailed off when Pansy looked down. After a slight pause he lifted her chin so she was looking at him and continued softly, “Pans, I understand that your circumstances are delicate right now, but I have really enjoyed this time of getting to know you and…well I will completely understand if you say no, but I really want to kiss you right now.”

“Yes please,” Pansy smiled and felt her entire body start to tremble when Riley brushed his hands gently down the side of her face then brushed his lips against hers. The kiss was painful for a brief moment, but quickly turned into the first relief she had from the ache in her chest of losing Draco. Riley pulled away slightly and Pansy pulled him back to her quickly; suddenly unable to fathom letting him go.

The couples embrace was interrupted by the sound of Maggie’s throat clearing followed by laughter, “Well it’s about time!”

Riley smiled and Pansy blushed as the redheaded woman continued, “Pans, you’ve got a table up. They look a little rich for this part of town so treat them well and you might get a big tip.”

“I’m used to keeping rich snobby people happy,” Pansy smiled and looked up at Riley, “Thank you…for all of your help back here. I think maybe I could use a ride home this evening if –”

“Well I’m certainly not going anywhere.” Riley smiled and pulled Pansy into another quick kiss, “Now go…get yourself that big tip,” he followed Pansy out and sat at the bar as she walked behind it.

She filled two water glasses and grabbed menus then looked up and stopped dead in her tracks. Across the pub she saw Draco and Astoria sitting at a secluded corner table. They were holding hands and when Draco leaned over to kiss his wife Pansy’s hands started to shake and the tray crashed from to the floor. The sound of the glasses shattering on the ground was enough to startle the dark haired girl back to reality and she rushed to the backroom without bothering to clean up her mess and before the Malfoy’s could see her.

Riley immediately started to chase after Pansy, but Maggie stopped him, “Let me go…can you clean that up for me?” Riley nodded and Maggie rushed to the back room where she found Pansy leaning against a tower of shelves with her face buried her in arms. She approached and gently rubbed the girl’s back, “Pansy…what happened honey? Is it the baby?”

“No…” Pansy lifted her head and looked at Maggie. She tried to dry her frantically falling tears and continued with a forced smile, “I just need a minute and…I’m sorry I can not wait on that couple because…that is…” Her tears consumed her and she could not finish.

Maggie continued to rub her back, “I’ll go and take care of them and you stay back here as long as you need.” She kissed Pansy’s head then left her alone.

I finally get my chance to really move on…moments after my first kiss with Riley and then the Malfoy’s are here. Draco ruins everything! What in the bloody hell are they even doing in a Muggle pub? My Muggle pub? Pansy suddenly felt someone behind her and started silently praying it was not Draco. When she felt hands on her arms she knew it was not her love, but as the arms wrapped around her they were comforting and warm and she turned and wrapped her arms around Riley’s waist and sobbed into his chest.

He held tight to the crying girl and rubbed her back and hair as he whispered, “Pans, what happened? Is it that guy…is that the –”

She pulled away quickly and looked up at him, “Can you get me out of here?”

“Anywhere you want to go,” he smiled and kissed her forehead before rushing to grab her coat and returning to her side. They walked out the back door of the pub and when she was safely sitting in his truck he leaned over, “You stay here and I will go and tell Maggie that I am going to take you home. Will you be all right here?”

Pansy held her stomach as if the baby was moving, but was surprised by the actual reaction in her gut. Butterflies? Really? She smiled, somewhat in awe of how much Riley cared for her, “I’ll be right here waiting…” and as he started to walk away she blurted, “Riley…thank you for doing all this.”

“It is my pleasure. I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to be your hero for a while now,” He winked and smiled shyly, “I’ll be right back.”

Pansy watched him walk away then rested her head back and closed her eyes. Riley is sweet, responsible…has the blond hair and the blue eyes…he’s not Draco, but he’s really beautiful in his own right and…he likes me. I don’t have to chase him. I’m not in second place. I’m six months pregnant with someone else’s baby and he still really wanted to kiss me. He’s been gone a long time…I really hope he didn’t decide to go and say anything to… Pansy’s thoughts were interrupted when the truck door opened and Riley got in and smiled at her.

“Maggie sent you some dinner home,” he handed her the large brown bag of food then started his truck, “And anything else you need is on me.”

Her head was still rested against the back of the seat and she turned to look at him, “I think it’s possible the only other thing I need tonight is you…so well done.”

Riley leaned over to kiss her; the pain lasted a bit longer this time, but Pansy knew it was only because Draco was on the other side of the pub walls. At the same time knowing he was there with his wife caused Pansy to fall back into the mentality that Riley was her own chance to move on and her need to keep him close intensified by the minute.

They arrived to the flat and Pansy opened the door. She threw her keys on the table and looked around quickly for any obvious magical items that may have been lying around. When the coast appeared clear she turned and smiled, “Thank you again for bringing me home.”

“Stop thanking me, Pans, it was my pleasure.” He slid his leather jacket off and hung it off the back of a chair, “Is Blaise home?”

“No he’s on a date and told me not to expect him home until morning. Some girl he’s been following around at work for the last few months finally accepted his dinner invitation and he’s feeling pretty lucky.” Pansy laughed at the idea of Blaise dating and then noticed Riley walking toward her with a mischievous smile.

“I understand the sense of accomplishment when that girl you’ve been chasing finally lets you catch her,” he stopped just in front of her and ran his hand into the back of her hair. He leaned close and stopped just before their lips touched, “I hope it all works out for him.”

“It is nice of you to be concerned,” Pansy stopped to take a deep breath as the feeling of Riley’s breath on her face took her own breath away. She was careful not to put any distance between them as she continued, “Especially since your chances are looking pretty good from where I’m standing.”

Riley smiled and pulled her lips to his; after several hours of kissing and cuddling Pansy curled up in Riley’s arms on the sofa and closed her eyes as he played with her hair. She listened to his heartbeat and smiled as her head rose and fell with his breathing. After several long quiet minutes she pulled away and ran her fingers through his silky blond hair, “You are an amazing man, Riley. I’m sorry I wasted so much time trying to run away.”

“You finally stopped and that is all that matters. We have plenty of time now to make up for anything we missed.” He paused then moved his hand to rest on her stomach and continued hesitantly, “All of us…if that is what you want.”

Tears fell down Pansy’s face and she pulled him into a long kiss. Without any memory spells at all Riley had provided Pansy with what she needed most: support, safety and a father for her child that would not get them all killed. Her life was continuing to fall into place brilliantly and her new sense of peace allowed her to fall asleep in Riley’s arms for many nights after.

8 February 2001

I am so glad I had enough sense to grab my journal before leaving the flat. My daughter has been born and is quite possibly the most spectacular creature that has ever been seen on this planet. She’s perfect, healthy and unnamed. I can’t even think about that part right now I am so desperate for the nurses to bring her back to me and for Blaise to bloody well show up already.

Pansy closed her book and looked up when a young dark haired nurse entered pushing a baby crib. The nurse brought the infant right over, lifted her from the crib and handed her to Pansy, “She has not been pleased to be away from her mother.”

“Well I have missed her too,” Pansy held the little girl close and could not take her eyes away for one second. “Is she all right?”

“Perfectly healthy,” the nurse moved the crib across the room and walked back over to Pansy, “I brought a bottle if you want to feed her.” She handed the bottle to the eager mother and continued with a smile, “Have you decided on what we will be calling her yet?”

Pansy continued looking down at the pale blonde haired girl and responded confidently, “Emma…we’re going to call her Emma.”

“A beautiful name for a beautiful little girl,” the nurse leaned over just slightly and smiled at the baby then returned her focus to Pansy, “I can have a birth certificate drawn up…will her last name be Parkin –”

“No!” Pansy looked down quickly, embarrassed at her interruption. She took a deep breath then looked up at the nurse, “Certainly you know who I am; you have read my name in all the papers. I do not wish to ruin any of Emma’s chances by saddling her with this last name.”

The nurse smiled reassuringly, “I can wait for the birth certificate if you like or –”

Pansy looked up at the door quickly and her face washed with surprise as she saw Blaise walk in accompanied by Riley. She looked up at the nurse and smiled, “Could you give us just a few moments please?”

“Of course,” the nurse smiled at Pansy, walked from the room and shut the door behind her.

Before Pansy could speak Riley was sitting on the bed with a beaming smile, “She’s perfect. What did you name her?”

“Emma,” Pansy paused as the little girl started to move at the sound of her name, “Obviously she likes it.” She looked up at Riley who was completely focused on Emma then continued, “Would you like to hold her?”

He stood and took Emma without hesitation and walked her across the room to the window. He whispered to her the entire time he held her and once he was out of earshot Pansy looked up and whispered to Blaise, “You brought a Muggle to St. Mungo’s? How did he not flip out the minute you walked into the abandoned department store?”

“He’s…enchanted,” Blaise chuckled at Pansy’s reprimanding look, “Nothing strong, just something to get him in and out of here. How were you planning to explain not telling him until you came home with a baby?” He sat next to Pansy and kissed her head, “How are you?”

“Tired, but brilliant,” she looked over at Riley still whispering and giggling to Emma then turned to Blaise, “I have a beautiful daughter and now my boys are here…” Pansy’s thoughts began to wander and for a split second; when she looked up at Riley she nearly forgot it was not Draco standing across the room holding their daughter. She put her head back and tried to force back mounting tears. “I’m brilliant…”

Blaise put his arms around her and rested his head against hers, “You don’t have to pretend with me, Pans. I know how difficult this is for you, but you must focus on being brilliant and enjoying Emma. She will be the best distraction I’m sure of it.”

“I love you,” Pansy rested her head against Blaise’s shoulder and wiped her eyes, “I could have never survived this without you.”

“You are more of a survivor than you get yourself credit for; still it has been my pleasure.” He squeezed her gently and let her go when Riley walked back over and handed Emma back to Pansy.

“She’s brilliant…and smart I can already tell.” The blond boy sat on the bed across from Pansy and could not stop smiling, “When do you get to go home?”

“Tomorrow,” Pansy leaned forward and kissed Emma’s head, “Though what’s the hurry since we don’t even have a proper nursery yet.” Pansy looked up at Riley and Blaise both smiling like they had something to hide. “What have you two done?”

Riley laughed and reached over to stroke Emma’s head, “She will have everything she needs…you both will...just like I promised.” He looked up at Pansy and brushed her face, “And the rest is a surprise so simply find a way to deal with it.”

The door to Pansy’s room opened and interrupted any response. The same nurse walked over and smiled, “I am sorry to intrude, but I actually do need to complete a birth certificate for Emma. It can be changed of course within a short amount of time and –”

Blaise and Riley both looked to Pansy who had a blank expression. She started to respond when Riley leaned forward and whispered, “If this is about your situation and you don’t want her to have your name…you can give her mine.”

All attention focused to Riley and as tears fell down Pansy’s face she looked over and smiled at the nurse, “MacAulay…Emma MacAulay…and if there is a place to list her father his name is Riley.” Pansy reached over and took Riley’s hand and smiled at the nurse, “Anything else on there that needs to be filled out?”

“Well there is a place for you to list her magi –”

“Godparents!” Blaise interrupted quickly before the nurse announced that little Emma would be appointed magical guardians and smiled at Pansy who looked as if she was about to pass out.

Pansy smiled at the nurse, “Blaise Zabini and Margaret O’Connor.”

The nurse recorded the names and smiled up at Pansy, “I will bring you copies when they are available; and its bath time if we can steal her away for just a few more minutes?”

“Only a few more minutes though,” Pansy smiled at the nurse then kissed Emma and handed her over; once Emma was out of sight the dark haired girl’s focus returned to Riley, “Thank you…but are you sure? This is a big step when she’s not –”

Riley interrupted Pansy by placing a finger to her lips and Blaise took his cue to vacate the room. Once the door was shut Riley moved closer to Pansy and whispered shyly, “I want a life with you Pansy and I told you from the beginning that I accepted a life with you comes with raising someone else’s child. But I promise you that I will always love her as if she is my own because she is also a part of you…and I do love you, Pansy…whether you like it or not.”

“I do like it…and I love you too,” she pulled him close and into a kiss then made him sit next to her. She rested against him and closed her eyes when she felt his strong safe arms wrap around her. “So tell me about my surprise.”

“Not a chance…”

“Just a hint,” Pansy pulled away to look up at him and smiled at his tight lipped expression, “Fine…I’ll wait until tomorrow. I’ve had enough excitement for one day anyway.” She rested back against him and they talked about all of the other daydreams they had for their future while they waited for their daughter to be returned from her bath.

Pansy woke hours later and Riley was gone. She sat up quickly and found Blaise sitting in the chair across the room holding Emma, “Well isn’t that a painting?”

Blaise looked up and smiled then walked over to sit on the bed. He handed Emma awkwardly to Pansy and chuckled quietly, “I think I’m a bit smitten with your daughter. She’s enchanting for certain…just like her mother.”

“Let’s hope she stays away from most of my enchanting qualities.” Pansy looked around again quickly then back to Blaise, “Please tell me you’ve not allowed the charmed Muggle to go wandering around?”

“No I took him home so he could get ready for you and Emma tomorrow. He wanted to come back later, but I convinced him that you would be sleeping a lot and he agreed to wait until tomorrow when I bring you home. But he loves you and a bunch of other sentimental rubbish that I will not be repeating.” Blaise chuckled again, but was obviously troubled and looked down quickly before Pansy could notice.

Pansy shifted on the bed then covered Emma’s little arms with the blanket; after a long pause she took a deep breath and responded calmly, “So why don’t you tell me what has happened so I know what to do next?”

“I went to check my messages at work and when I returned Draco was standing outside your door looking in your window.” Blaise raised his hands to calm Pansy’s immediate reaction, “Emma was having her bath and all he saw was you and Riley, but that was enough.”

Her heart was racing and she paused to be thankful that Draco had not seen Emma, but it was of little comfort. “What was he doing here? And did he honestly expect that I would never date again, or was he not even fazed by the idea?”

“He was devastated…and I’m not telling you so that you will feel guilty, but I have tried very hard to be as honest with both of you as the other will allow. He did not choose this, Pansy, and he misses you terribly, it’s written all over his face all the time. I was with him earlier, when I received your message, and he was talking about needing to see you again.”

“And now he has,” Pansy reached up to dry the tears rolling down her face, “In a way, I expected he would somehow be drawn to us today and am just grateful that he did not see Emma because…” she trailed off and kissed Emma’s head.

“Are you? Wouldn’t it all be easier if you just told him and –”

“Have you lost your bloody mind, Blaise? Easier if I told him and then Lucius Malfoy can kill me and Riley and probably even you so that Draco and Astoria bloody Greengrass can raise Draco’s child without anyone knowing or caring about what happened to me? I turned the chosen one over to the Dark Lord, Blaise…do you think that people have forgotten that? Do you think that it would be difficult to make me disappear forever without anyone giving it a second thought?”

“Do you honestly believe I would ever let anything happen to you? Even more so, do you think that Draco would do anything less than die protecting you from Lucius Malfoy?” Blaise felt his emotions about the discussion escalate and suddenly lowered his tone, “Draco loves you and he would protect you from his father, Pansy; you must believe this.”

Pansy paused and rested her head back; finally reaching up to dry her tears before responding, “And why must I believe that, Blaise? Because he stood up to his father a year and half ago and stayed with me instead of marrying someone else because daddy commanded it? The only thing I know is that you will protect me, and Riley will protect me, and together we will move heaven and earth to protect Emma, but I will not put all of us in danger simply so Draco Malfoy can know he has a daughter. I’m sure Lucius was hoping for a male child anyway. Draco made his choice then and I am making my choice now and I am praying that you are still willing to keep this secret for me.”

Blaise took her hand and sighed, “You know that I will. I am just so sorry that this is how it has to be. At the same time I think Riley is a good man and will take excellent care of my girls so in the end I’m still happier for you than you could ever know.”

“We’re a family now, Blaise…all of us,” she squeezed his hand and smiled, “So go meet a girl and have some babies so our kids can grow up together and have fun stories and albums full of photos of everything wonderful that we never had.” Pansy laughed at the horrified look on Blaise’s face, “I’m just making a suggestion.”

“Yes, well, I have to find the girl first, don’t I? That is posing several astonishingly unexpected problems. I question my stability since the only girl I’ve even noticed in the last few months…maybe I should start frequenting your Muggle pub and –”

“Not so fast, Zabini. The only girl you’ve even noticed in the last few months is who?” Pansy was surprised at Blaise’s discomfort with the question, “Wow…you like this girl whoever she is.”

“No, I don’t. She’s just some Quidditch player and…it’s irrelevant. Why don’t we talk about how you are going to tell the Muggle that you are a witch? I think you should tell him before you get married so he doesn’t think you enchanted him. You know that is always what the Muggles say after they are married and find out the truth.” Blaise chuckled as he sat down on the bed and reached over to brush Emma’s head, “Besides, I can already tell this one is going to be a brilliant witch…just like her mum.”

“Married?” Pansy was suddenly the one uncomfortable with the topic, “Blaise, please tell me he’s not planning to propose tomorrow when I get home because it is a bit soon for all that. I realize when I just put his last name on my daughter’s birth certificate it would not seem too soon, but…”

He reached over and patted her head, “Never fear, Love; I’m quite sure even Riley is smart enough to resist proposals until you take your existing ring off.” Blaise watched Pansy’s focus fall sadly to her left hand, “I’m not saying you should do that right now, but…like I said, Pans…Riley is a good man. Don’t run from him forever because you’re still trying to run after something you keep saying is best avoided.”

She looked up and rolled her eyes followed by a huge smile, “I hate when you are logical and right, Blaise, but I love you for putting up with me and my endless drama all this time.”

“We’re family right? Endless drama is one of the perks.” Blaise stood and kissed her head, “You really should get some rest. Tomorrow will be a big day; going home with the human being that can not take care of herself at all.”

“Why are you trying to scare me?” Pansy darted Blaise a playfully dirty look then focused on Emma, “We are going to be just fine though aren’t we? Between me and Riley I think we can figure you out.”

“You will absolutely be just fine, Pansy…you always are.” Blaise said his goodnights and left the mother and daughter alone for the first time all day.

Pansy sat back against the bed and stared down at Emma sleeping; trying to focus on the wonder of holding her own baby in her arms and trying to repress every one of Draco’s features she could see in the daughter they shared. “You look just like your Daddy, Emma… that could be a problem.”

8 March 2001

Emma is one month old today and she is more brilliant than I ever imagined. Riley’s surprise was our very own loft; there is a comfortable living room, bedroom for us, nursery for Emma, small little kitchen, fireplace and a balcony where we are going to put tons of flowers in the spring. Riley has been amazing with Emma and with me…things are so wonderful and I hate to sound surprised, but I continue to be.

I asked Blaise the other day if he missed me at the flat and he tried to lie and say he did, but I think he is really enjoying having his space and quiet back. He would be going mental right now with as much as Emma cries. She is absolutely her father’s daughter in the whining department. She looks just like Draco, and Blaise keeps telling me it’s only because she’s a blonde that the resemblance is so strong. Still I’m certain if Draco ever saw her on the street he would know immediately and I am a little scared that it will only be worse once she’s a little older. It is painful to me that I so desperately want her not to look like him when he is beautiful.

But I’m not thinking about him at all these days. I’m a brand new Pansy…mother of a little sprite and in love with the Muggle Riley.

Pansy looked up from her journal when Riley walked in the door. She smiled and stood from the rocking chair, “Emma is all ready and I will be too in five minutes.”

He stopped her as she tried to pass and engaged her in a long kiss. When he pulled away he rested his forehead against hers, “Take your time…London isn’t going anywhere.”

She rushed off to change and collected all of Emma’s necessary gear then they were off for an exciting day of shopping. After visiting Maggie at The Cupboard and every baby and home good shop Pansy came across, Riley ventured off alone for a few minutes and Pansy walked toward the next baby clothes store on her path. Just outside the shop she heard her name, close behind her, and spoken by a voice that made her entire body shiver. She turned and forced a smile, “Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy…this is certainly a surprise.” What in the bloody hell are Draco’s parents doing in downtown Muggle London? She considered apparating her and Emma out of sight, but realized all the implications and consequences for acting so carelessly. Besides, they had already seen her daughter.

Narcissa looked down into the stroller and smiled at the little girl, “You are simply the most beautiful girl in the world, aren’t you?” The Malfoy matriarch looked up at Pansy and smiled, “How old is she?”

“Just a month, gave us a bit of a scare too because she was early, but she is healthy and full of life now.” Pansy was so comfortable speaking with Narcissa, but her tension never relieved as she felt Lucius’ stare shift quickly from her to Emma.

“Early…so this must have all happened just after you left Wiltshire?” Lucius glared at Pansy, trying to read her reactions, “What is her name then?”

Pansy took a quick deep breath, choking on the reality that she could not deny him a response, “Emma Rose MacAulay.” She smiled, receiving the surprised expression she had hoped for from Lucius, and before anyone could respond she felt the safety of Riley behind her.

“Here you two are…so sorry to interrupt.” Riley kissed the side of Pansy’s head and waited for an introduction.

Involuntarily Pansy started speaking, “Riley this is Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy, the parents of a boy I attended secondary school with. Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy this is my fiancé, Riley MacAulay, he is…” Oh no…how do I say Muggle without saying –

Riley interrupted Pansy’s mental tangent by extending his hand to Lucius Malfoy with an unknowing smile, “Pleased to meet you.” The boy’s naïve arrogance in presuming to shake hands with such a devious wizard was enough detail to prove his Muggle status. Lucius shook his hand with obvious hesitation and Riley merely nodded respectively to Mrs. Malfoy as opposed to attempting another more customary greeting.

Pansy interpreted Lucius’ pause to take in Riley’s appearance as evidence enough that he had not just stumbled upon the Malfoy heir, however her relief was short lived when the patriarch spoke smugly, “Narcissa, isn’t it amazing how much this young man looks like our Draco.”

Damn you! Riley will totally recognize the first name. Damn it! Pansy looked up at Riley and smiled though she could see the recognition wash across his face. He’s putting it together… that he looks just like the man I am really in love with. Damn it! Pansy could see Lucius starting to elaborate when she blurted suddenly, “See and I don’t think he looks like Draco at all? I mean they are both blond, but…sometimes that is just what you like,” she looked pleadingly at Narcissa who smiled slightly in return.

Narcissa took Lucius’ arm and spoke quietly, “I’m afraid I do not see the resemblance, dear. In any event, we should allow Pansy and Riley to continue enjoying this beautiful afternoon with their daughter.”

“Indeed; well we will be sure to tell Draco that we came upon you this afternoon and about your joyous news.” Lucius glared at Pansy then down at the child in the stroller once more before starting to lead Narcissa away.

The Malfoy matriarch smiled again at Riley and then Pansy, “Congratulations, I am glad to see that you have found happiness finally.”

With all the strength inside her, Pansy managed to hold back her tears and smiled at Narcissa as she walked away. She started pushing Emma’s stroller forward and her mind raced with how to break the deafening silence. Just tell him everything! After a few more silent moments of internal battling Pansy stopped and looked up at Riley, “Can we sit in that park for a few minutes and talk?”

“I told you from the beginning that you do not owe me any explanations, Pans. It’s your future that concerns me.” He tucked a random hair behind her ear and kissed her gently. “But if want to tell me this then I will listen.”

Pansy walked to the park across the road and sat down on a bench. She covered Emma up then turned to Riley. “I met him in school…Draco…when we were eleven and I was obsessed with him. We went through a lot together and were actually quite horrible not only to each other, but to nearly everyone we came in contact with. Just prior to graduation, something devastating happened and as a result, I literally needed to be rescued and Draco was the one who rescued me. In a whirlwind I never expected, he also claimed to love me. I know he loved me, but I never imagined that would ever happen. It had never crossed my mind that he and I would ever have even one moment of real happiness together, but to my surprise we had a year and promises of forever.”

“This bloke is a wanker, Pans…”

She smiled and took Riley’s hand, “You have already determined that when I’ve not even finished the story?”

“You’re sitting here with me, aren’t you? Anyone who had a year with you and secured any promises of forever, but still let you go is a wanker.” Riley smiled and squeezed her hands, “However, I am sorry for interrupting…please continue.”

Sadly, your opinion will not change. Pansy took another deep breath and carefully detailed the rest. “Draco’s father arranged a marriage for him to a girl from a prestigious family –”

“Maggie said he was some sort of political figure…this Draco bloke. Something he must have said that night at the pub. So that was his wife with him?” Riley reached over and brushed Pansy’s face after she nodded her confirmation, “Like I said then, Love…nothing is going to convince me this guy isn’t a wanker.”

Pansy was still stuck on the comment about Draco being a political figure, “Why didn’t Maggie ever tell me that?”

“She was afraid of upsetting you. That night was upsetting for all of us who witnessed your reaction to these people from your past. I obviously know how the story ends Pans and I’m sorry that you had to go through all of that.” He squeezed her hands and looked down sadly, “I guess my only question is, even though you can’t be with him, how much do you still love him?” He looked back up and hesitantly waited for her response.

I can not answer that. You do not want me to answer that. Pansy tried to keep a calm demeanor and smiled shyly, “I do still love him, Riley; I will not lie to you about that.” Lie! Damn it Pansy do not let Draco Malfoy ruin this for you! Lie! Pansy’s smile increased instinctively and her lie came just as naturally as if she was eleven years old again, “But I am in love with you. We have a future that I am really looking forward to. I just wanted you to understand the dynamic of my past because it explains a lot about who I am.”

“I hope you know that you can tell me anything and I will never judge you. I love you too and I can handle whatever you have to throw at me.” He leaned over and pulled her into a kiss then rested his forehead against hers, “And you better believe as soon as you are ready to take that ring off I will be making your fiancé comment official.”

Will you feel the same once I tell you my other secret? She kissed him quickly then looked down at Emma, “I’m working on it…taking the ring off. I hope you understand that its not –”

Riley put his hand to Pansy’s mouth to quiet her, “Please stop trying to explain and apologize for everything. You should know by now that it is really difficult to offend or surprise or upset me.”

I’m a magical witch and I considered manipulating your memories to make you think we had sex and this was biologically your child…until you loved me on your own of course. Pansy was becoming frustrated with her random mind racing and forced a smile so that Riley would not pick up on the fact that something else was going on. “We should get back to the flat, make dinner, put Emma down and we can talk more. I liked our talk…it made me feel better to share something so huge with you and as always you made me feel completely safe.” She smiled again and stood quickly. I liked our talk and feel better sharing? I have lost my bloody mind!

Riley stood and put his arm around Pansy, “It’s about time you tell me more about you. I’ve only been boring you with tales of my misspent youth for the last how many months? I’m sure you have far better stories than neighborhood wars with eggs and that time I beat up our class president.”

Wars with dark wizards and tried to kill the chosen one a few times…no comparison. Pansy smiled, “Prepare to be surprised and possibly even upset or offended, Riley MacAulay. You want to know more about me and for whatever reason, I am feeling no fear about sharing it; you have no idea what you have gotten yourself into.”

Riley chuckled and they walked back to the flat discussing lighter topics of what Pansy bought for Emma and the warm end of winter weather. With each step closer to the flat Pansy was more convinced she was ready to tell her biggest secret and terrified that it would derail everything she had worked so hard to attain. Once they were inside, had dinner and Emma was sleeping soundly Riley sat down on the sofa next to Pansy and handed her a glass of wine.

He raised his glass and chuckled, “To Pansy’s big secret revelation.”

She took a deep breath and was almost amused by the innocence with which Riley joked. He had no idea what was coming, but good or bad it was not right to keep it from him any longer. Pansy tapped her glass against his and tipped her head back until the glass was empty. She looked down at the table and realized that Riley had not brought the bottle. Involuntarily and as if it was the most natural thing in the world she pulled her wand from her pocket, pointed it toward the kitchen and when the bottle flew into her hand she poured another full glass, downed it and smiled up at Riley, “I’m a witch.”

5 April 2001

Well it’s been almost a month since I told Riley that I was a magical witch and he seems to finally be warming up to the concept. I am positive he was afraid of me for a few days after, but that faded quickly. He actually makes me summon things from the other rooms all the time now. He does still remind me from time to time that he would prefer I not to turn him into anything when he says something stupid or annoying; so far nothing has been said that has made me even consider it. I think it’s adorable too that he is constantly watching Emma for her first signs of magic. I keep trying to tell him that any signs within just the first few months would be miraculous, but he is convinced she is a genius and will excel far beyond her ‘wand friends’ as he calls them.

As far as the rest of what has happened in the aftermath of that fated day when Draco’s parents decided to take a stroll through Muggle London; well that’s a bit more complicated. As far as Blaise can tell, Lucius did not make good on his promise to tell Draco that he ran into me, engaged and with a baby. In fact according to Blaise my name has not been uttered from Draco Malfoy’s mouth again since he saw me at St. Mungo’s. He is either suppressing his emotions about seeing me with Riley, or maybe his parents did tell him about Emma and he has chosen to just put it all behind him. Maybe he does not care at all…I know that’s not true, but some days believing it makes all of this easier to deal with.

The sad thing is that along with not talking about me, Draco has barely been talking to Blaise much at all. I did not want to be what pulled them apart, but I think I have become the very tear in their fabric. Draco feels that Blaise has taken my side, and how else can you interpret him giving me a place to stay and keeping all my secrets? Still I was the one who was displaced by all of it. If Blaise had not been there who knows what would have happened to me. Now here we are.

Blaise is seeing some daft bimbo that I can not stomach and need to creatively and non-violently dispose of. I’m working on it. Riley and I are really happy and every day with Emma is brilliant. She is so alert already and spunky…a lot like me, which is a fear to repress for later. These days I have no room to worry about anything other than the small sinking feeling, that I have every morning and every night, that Lucius Malfoy could descend anytime questioning the life I have built. For now I try to enjoy the good and believe that it will all last because it’s just my turn.

With that said…I’m taking Emma to Diagon Alley today. Blaise said it is safe for me to go out in wizarding public alone again. I’m a little nervous to say the least. When I return I will have removed my engagement ring from Draco. Wish me luck with that!

Emma’s eyes were captivated by the many sights and sounds of Diagon Alley as Pansy nervously pushed her stroller down the path. To the dark haired girl’s surprise Blaise was correct and most people paid her little attention as they passed. Still she was hesitant to drop her guard and decided to stick with the original plan of buying what she needed from Flourish and Blotts and the stationary store and getting back to the Muggle world as quickly as possible. As she continued to blend in she allowed her mind to wander and was amused by how comfortable she was in a Muggle world that she never considered as opposed to the magical one she had grown up in. She was relieved that Riley knew her secret and there would always be reasons to come to Diagon Alley, but otherwise she was content in her little flat with her Muggle boyfriend, magical daughter and the normal life that surrounded her.

As the minutes passed and Pansy finally started feeling comfortable she was able to get lost in Flourish and Blotts. After nearly an hour her arms were full of books and she made her way to the counter to pay. With great anticipation to go and buy a new quill she turned suddenly with her purchases and ran into the person behind her with Emma’s stroller. Pansy quickly checked her startled daughter, and started making her apologies before even looking up, “Please excuse me, I am so very sorry.”

“It is no trouble.”

Pansy looked up at the somewhat familiar voice and she started to shake, “Astoria…”

“Hello, Pansy.” The blonde girl paused and looked down at Emma. When she looked back up she blurted with a calm, but surprised tone, “You have a daughter.”

Can you apparate with a baby? Why don’t I know this? Pansy smiled awkwardly and tried to be as calculated in her response as possible without being rude or defensive. I’m her nanny is all! “Yes, I do…her name is Emma…Emma Rose.” Please tell me Draco is not with you.

Astoria could not seem to take her eyes off the baby with a head full of blonde curly hair. Finally she looked up at Pansy and smiled, “She is beautiful. Congratulations.”

“Thank you –”

“How old is she?” Astoria startled herself a bit with the urgency of her interruption and she composed herself quickly as she appeared to brace for Pansy’s response.

“She was born in February and she was about six weeks early so…” Keep it together Pansy! To keep their conversation more private Pansy pushed Emma’s stroller closer to the entry way of the book shop and continued quietly to Astoria, “Draco is not her father.”

“I am so sorry, Pansy; I did not mean to be rude. This can be no less awkward for you than it is for me, and I hope you know that I never meant you any harm.” Astoria’s words were genuine and her smile made it even more obvious that she was a truly good person.

The idea that Draco had an arranged marriage to someone who seemed so kind and sincere made Pansy feel relief and at the same time she fought desperately to keep her eyes from rolling. Finally and for lack of a more appropriate reaction Pansy chuckled softly, “This is very awkward, but I do believe you and…thank you for saying it. I realize this was not your first choice either, but I am happy if you two have figured out a way to make it work.” I know he loves you, please do not rub it in.

“I am happy to see that you have also found better times. You have a spectacular daughter and I see you also have an engagement ring.” Astoria smiled as she looked down at the ring then back up at Pansy.

Pansy also looked down at her left hand where Draco’s ring still rested perfectly on her finger. She felt almost dazed as she looked back up at Astoria and started rambling, “Yes…I’m engaged to this incredibly amazing man…” She trailed off and a cutting thought crossed her mind. You know him…your husband. Pansy quickly regained her composure and reached into her bag, “His name is Riley…would you like to see a picture?” So you can see for yourself where Emma’s blonde hair supposedly comes from?

“Of course,” Astoria seemed to become lighter as their conversation continued. She complimented Riley and handed the photo back to Pansy. “I know that your path has not been easy, Pansy, but I am so happy to see that you are well. I know that Draco would be pleased.”

“Do you intend to tell him that we ran into each other today?” Pansy suddenly did not know which would be worse; Draco finding out everything or being the only one who did not possess the knowledge that she was a mother. She watched Astoria’s eyes swim in the perplexity of the question, “You do not need to tell me that. I apologize I –”

“Do you want me to tell him?” Astoria was completely sincere and confident with her question and as she continued, “I know that you have wanted to keep your life separate and secret and honestly I can not say that I blame you; in fact I have been thankful because if you hadn’t he would have never let me in.” Suddenly the blonde’s resolve was faltering and her tone was saddened when she continued, “He loves you a great deal, Pansy. I knew that from the beginning and I accept that he always will. At the same time we have found our own happiness during the last year and…I don’t want to lie to him, but somehow I fear that if he knows your current situation then we will find ourselves starting all over again.”

She is making this far too easy! “I would never tell you to keep something from him because I know how much he values loyalty and I would be evil if I did not warn you that this is exactly the kind of thing he would consider a betrayal. At the same time he will never hear about my life from me or from Blaise. I would never confirm this conversation for him in fact…to protect my heart and my relationship with Riley I really hope that I never have cause to speak with Draco again. It just makes this easier for everyone and eventually he and I will fade for each other and everyone will be happy.” Never going to happen! “Honestly I am surprised his parents did not tell him. Riley, Emma and I ran into them in London last month.”

“Just between you and me…Lucius Malfoy scares me.” Astoria giggled as she blushed, but there was a genuine fear in her confession.

Pansy knew all too well what Draco’s father was capable of and in return for Astoria’s honesty and respect Pansy decided to share some valuable knowledge. “Be afraid of Lucius Malfoy because he is genuinely evil. You will be the mother of the Malfoy heir and I imagine that brings with it many luxuries and protections, but never let your guard down with him.”

“I appreciate the advice; and so that you know, I will probably tell Draco that I saw you, not the part about his father of course, but…I will simply hope for the best.” She smiled sadly at Pansy then looked down once more at Emma, “Goodbye, little Emma,” then started to walk out.

“Astoria…he does love you, just trust me when I say that I have seen it with my own eyes and I would certainly never lie about something like that.” Pansy fought back the tears that would have destroyed her if she allowed them to fall and forced a smile instead.

“Good luck to you and your family, Pansy.”

“You too…” Now please leave before I start crying and/or make you disappear in front of all of these witnesses. Pansy smiled until Astoria was gone and after waiting a few minutes extra to assure the coast was clear Pansy left the book shop and went straight home to Muggle safety.

5 April 2001

We have to leave…tonight. What in the bloody hell was I thinking this afternoon? That Astoria honestly believed Riley is Emma’s father. Emma looks exactly like Draco. And I played right into her hands…she gave me the choice of telling him or not…I should just send him an owl right now and tell him my bloody self. Then Lucius can descend and take Emma from me before I get any more attached; in fact…maybe I should just hand her to Draco and Astoria myself.

Where is Blaise? I’ve left him three messages and

A knock at the door startled Pansy and she was suddenly convinced she would find Draco on the other side ready to claim his daughter. She rushed to the door and yelled through it, “Who is there?”

“Its Blaise…you’ve only sent me five hundred messages…who else would it,” he paused when the door opened, “What happened?”

Pansy pulled Blaise inside and closed the door, “I went to Diagon Alley and ran into Astoria Mal…” she trailed off and her face scrunched up, “I think I just vomited in my mouth a little. She’s sweet and beautiful and far too bloody understanding for anyone’s good. What’s worse is I’m quite sure she’s also genuine about it.”

Blaise’s expression had quickly started to mirror Pansy’s; he followed her to the sofa and responded with concern, “What did she say?”

“That Emma was beautiful and asked when she was born. I told her point blank that Emma was not Draco’s daughter…showed her pictures of Riley and everything. Thankfully she had never seen my engagement ring from Draco so she believed that I was engaged to Riley. She also gave me the choice of whether she told Draco that she ever saw me.” Pansy could feel her chest tighten and she considered finishing the story while she was packing up the loft.

“What did you say?”

“I started to babble and told her not to betray Draco, but at the same time I hoped to never speak to him again so she should do what she wanted. I also told her that Draco’s parents saw us in London and that she should be afraid of Lucius Malfoy.” Pansy looked down when Blaise took a deep concerned breath. She continued quickly, “I know…I lost my bloody mind. The conversation ended with me telling her that Draco loved her…that I had seen it in his eyes and she should just trust me. The vigilante really just beat all the Slytherin out of me apparently.” She rested her face in her hands and sighed.

“What do you think she’s going to do next?” Blaise moved over and rubbed Pansy’s back trying to comfort her.

After a long pause Pansy looked up and shrugged, “Not sure, but my bet is she will keep it to herself. I’m sure she wants nothing more then for Emma’s father to be someone else and I imagine she will risk Draco’s wrath at finding out she kept it a secret if it will keep him as far away from me as possible for now. Still…I am thinking of telling Riley that we should leave for a while.”

“Leave…where? You are not going anywhere, Pans. If Lucius Malfoy had any thought that Draco was Emma’s father he would have already made his move. I tend to agree with your theories about Astoria as well so…there is no reason for you to run.” He took her hands when she started to get up, “Pansy, I’m serious. You can’t leave…because I can’t go with you.”

She smiled at his objection to being left behind, “You have your secret Quidditch girlfriend and your disturbingly obnoxious real girlfriend to keep you company.”

“I got rid of the real and obnoxious one this afternoon and there is no secret Quidditch girlfriend.” Blaise glared playfully at her then pulled her into a tight hug, “I will not let you run away, Pansy. You have a life here and we will all do whatever is necessary to see that your happiness continues on completely undisturbed.”

Everyone keeps promising that…and I’m sorry I can’t believe any of you. Pansy squeezed Blaise tight then pulled away, “Fine…for now we will stay and see what happens. But the first sign of trouble and we are gone.”

Before Blaise could respond the door opened and Riley walked in. Pansy stood to greet him and could see something was wrong the minute she made eye contact. She pulled him into a long hug, “Bad day?”

“I could ask you the same. Have you been crying?” Riley kissed her head then looked over and nodded at Blaise.

“It’s nothing. What happened?” Pansy took Riley’s hand and walked him over to the sofa that Blaise cleared for them. She sat down and waited for a response.

Riley looked over at Blaise first then returned to Pansy with even more concern, “That man we ran into in London…Draco’s father…he was at The Cupboard this afternoon asking a lot of questions about you. Maggie phoned me at the office and he disappeared pretty quickly when I showed up. I did not speak with him, but according to Maggie he was asking things like when you started working there and when you and I started dating.”

Pansy felt herself starting to choke and when Emma’s cries sounded from the nursery tears unleashed from her eyes. She was paralyzed with fear and no matter how hard she tried to move or speak she was unsuccessful. After a moment’s pause Riley got up and went to the nursery and Blaise moved back to the sofa and grabbed Pansy’s arms.

“Look at me,” he focused on her until her eyes locked onto his, “Pack what you need and I will have all three of you out of here as soon as you are ready.” He waited for her to respond and when she did not he continued urgently, “Pansy! Focus! Do you want me to go and explain this to Riley or –”

“We should just erase every memory Riley has of me and I should go alone. If he runs with us he is in danger too and –” Pansy looked up when Riley walked into the living room holding Emma.

“Where are we going?” Emma was cradled calmly in Riley’s arms as he sat down in the chair across from Pansy and Blaise. “I assume you are talking about running and I also assume you have decided that I can not handle the ramifications of being on the run from an evil wizard, but you are not going without me. So where are we going?”

Blaise looked at Pansy and when she didn’t respond he turned to Riley, “Once you are packed I will have arrangements in place to take you to Ireland and from there we will find the next safest place for you to land.”

Pansy’s tears turned to sobs quickly and she buried her face in her hands. “I am so sorry…for all of this, I am so sorry.”

Riley moved to kneel in front of Pansy. He rested Emma in her lap and made her look up at him, “I told you from the beginning that I knew what I was getting myself into with you, Pans. I have been able to handle everything else and I can handle this too.”

Blaise stood from the sofa and gave them a moment and Pansy looked up and smiled, “You’re sure?”

“Like I said…you can’t go anywhere without me.” Riley kissed her head and made sure Pansy had Emma before he stood and looked to Blaise, “So what is the plan? Maybe I should travel with Emma because they would not think to come after me first; and you can travel with Pansy.”

Pansy looked back for Blaise’s response. His expression perplexed her, but she trusted his judgment more than any other. After a brief pause he responded, “We will all travel together. Emma will be irritable at best if she’s away from Pansy besides…I would think you would be hesitant to travel by magical means without a wizard present.”

“I hadn’t thought of that,” Riley seemed defeated and returned to the sofa.

All attention focused on Blaise as he sat on the chair, “Riley…you should go and pick up supplies; a few cans of baby food, diapers, candy for Pansy. I will help her pack and when you return we will go to my flat and leave from there.”

Riley stood quickly and looked down at Pansy, “Any special requests?”

She shook her head, “Whatever you think. Just hurry.”

He leaned down to kiss her then Emma and was out the door in a split second. Blaise watched Pansy watching the door for a moment then stood and rushed into Emma’s nursery. From there he rushed to Pansy and Riley’s room then back to the living room. Pansy was surprised by Blaise’s sudden urgency and chuckled, “If you let me put Emma down for a minute I will help you with the –”

Blaise walked up to her and stopped close, “Do you have your wand, your engagement ring from Draco and your Slytherin pendant?”

“The three things besides my daughter I would never be caught without? Of course I do…why do you –”

Before Pansy could respond Blaise wrapped his arms around her and Emma and they disapparated from sight.

Pansy pulled away from Blaise and started frantically checking Emma over to make sure she had not been splinched. When her eyes returned to Blaise she was infuriated, “Have you lost your bloody mind?”

Blaise tried to approach, but Pansy backed away from him. He remained silent as she looked around and took in the pale moonlight falling over the streets of what appeared to be a small town. When Blaise could see that she had calmed, though only slightly, he broke the silence, “I am sorry that I did not give you any warning, but…please let me find you and Emma somewhere to stay and –”

“Maybe you should first tell me why we left all of our stuff…including Riley in London? And then maybe you can tell me where in the bloody hell we are.” Tears started falling down Pansy’s face, “What happened?”

He walked over to her and put his hands on her shoulders, “Promise that you will not panic and just hear me out…”

She looked up at him with increasing terror, “Panic? Is there something worse than the thing I already know? Did you bring us to France?”

He rolled his eyes and resisted the impulse to laugh at such a moment, “Have you ever even been to France?”

“No…but when I think of quaint little towns like this I think of France. Where are we, Blaise? What happened?” Pansy’s fear faded to pleading and exhaustion, “I honestly do not know how much more I can take right now before I snap.”

Blaise took a deep breath and ran his hands down Pansy’s arms as he continued sadly, “We are in a small community outside a larger city called Chicago –”

“YOU BROUGHT US TO AMERICA?” Pansy immediately blushed at her outburst then looked around for anyone who may have heard. Finally she looked down at Emma, amazed she was still soundly asleep. “I’m sorry…I’m better now…go on.”

“May we please just walk up the way here, allow me to secure our lodging and –”

“Blaise…why did we leave Riley,” tears fell quickly down Pansy’s face and she took a deep breath as she accepted that whatever news Blaise was holding back was more proof that the worst always happens. “Fine…let’s go get a room, I can put Emma down so she is comfortable and you can tell me the next chapter in why karma is a bloody bitch.”

They walked silently down the street and arrived outside a small motel. Pansy sat with Emma in the lobby while Blaise handled the business and after only a few minutes they were walking back outside and up to their room. Pansy looked down and could not help but smile when she realized Blaise suddenly had suitcases in both hands and a diaper bag hanging off his shoulder. “Where did all of that come from?”

He looked back and smiled, “It would have seemed strange if we did not have luggage. Unfortunately these are not really your things, but as soon as you are both settled I will make sure you have everything that you need.”

You’re going to produce Draco Malfoy out of thin air…in America?

Once inside the room Pansy put Emma on one of the beds and continued to marvel that she had slept through all that was happening. She leaned down and kissed her head then walked over to sit across from Blaise in a chair by the window. She drank down the tumbler of whiskey he poured for her then looked up and smiled sadly, “Why do I get the feeling that I should start by thanking you for yet again saving my life?”

Blaise poured them both another drink then took a long deep breath, “For the same reason that I want to begin by saying how very sorry I am.” He downed his drink and looked up at Pansy, “We left Riley behind because he was working for Lucius Malfoy.”

Pansy’s face flushed and for the first time ever she instantly doubted her best friend, “What are you talking about? I know you were afraid of losing me Blaise, but that statement is hateful. Riley loves us!”

“Riley was probably put in place the minute you left for London the first time and the plan to keep an eye on you developed as soon as you left the wedding. When you told him everything about Draco it was all he needed to confirm with Lucius. He knew if he told you that Lucius was asking questions that you would run and that is why he suggested travelling alone with Emma.” Blaise watched Pansy start to drift, “Pans, I am so sorry, but –”

“You’re a liar, Blaise. How would you even know all of that and why would you have waited so long to tell me?” She stood and started to walk back over to Emma, “Did Draco put you up to this?”

“I’m a Legilimens, Pans. I read him when he first started hanging around The Cupboard all the time, but I know now that the plan was not in place then. I’m not even sure what made me so suspicious this afternoon, but…I would never tell you such a hurtful lie and especially not for Malfoy. I promised to protect you and I did what I thought was best.” Blaise stood and approached Pansy; he wiped her tear soaked face and whispered, “Please tell me you understand that I was only trying to keep you safe.”

Pansy was choking on another devastating blow and she finally looked up at Blaise with new tears in her eyes, “When will I lose you then? Lucius will be coming for Emma and then you will be all that I have left.”

He kissed her head and whispered, “Never, Love…I’m permanent I assure you; and no one is taking your daughter. In truth I have had this plan designed since the day you found out you were pregnant. This is a very nice community, there is train access to the city and somehow I think you will find it very enjoyable. Not to mention one of the largest magical communities in America is located just a few towns over.”

“I love you…more than Draco Malfoy and almost as much as Emma.” She pulled away and kissed him as it was the only way to actually show him how much he meant to her.

Blaise wrapped his arms tightly around her, “I love you too…definitely more than Malfoy and just a tiny little bit more than Emma…but only because I don’t know her secrets yet.” He pulled away and smiled, “Will you be all right here while I go and gather your necessities?”

“Actually will you stay…just a little while longer?” Pansy reached up to dry her tears then covered her face and sat down on the edge of the second bed and started to sob. Blaise immediately rushed to her side and held her until she calmed. They finally both fell asleep; the plan ready to commence in the morning.

5 June 2001

We have been in America for exactly two months now…some little town called Naperville, in the state of Illinois. We have been staying in a quaint little hotel off an endless park that wraps around a little river. If I didn’t feel like my heart was floating around my body in a million little pieces I would probably love it here.

How ironic that the first time I should pick up my journal in all that time would be Draco’s birthday. I thought I would reminisce about all of the devastating topics at once. Blaise stayed with us for the first three weeks; an extended tour of surrounding Quidditch organizations is what he called it. I could not have survived without him…story of our relationship. I tried as hard as I could to make sure Emma’s transition was smooth. She of course does not understand any of this…only that she misses Riley. He was working for Lucius Malfoy and yet I find myself missing him too. Combine that with the constant ache of missing Draco and now Blaise has been gone about five weeks and I’m a falling down mess every time Emma is asleep.

I’m still not exactly sure what I am going to do next. I certainly can not trust anyone besides Blaise; but I can not be in London and he can not stay here so I feel very alone. I suppose I am going to have to start a life here or somewhere…it is certainly not healthy to continue raising Emma secluded in these four walls. We go outside at night mostly…she’s already going to be screwed up having me for a mother so I suppose I should try and make something feel well adjusted for her. Maybe she would be better off with Draco and Astoria. They could give her everything and she’s young enough still that she probably wouldn’t even remember me. I know he would love her and keep her safe and the second one is not something I can assure anymore. Lucius will find us eventually…maybe that would be even better. He will be so furious that he had to track me down again that he’ll probably just kill me…and then I will never know the pain of losing my daughter. It will all just finally be over.

13 November 2001

New journal…because I am finally feeling ready to start talking sanely…I have at last dealt with what happened. It’s been seven months since Blaise brought us to America; then three weeks later he had to go back to his life and I was forced to create yet another new one of my own. I took excellent care of Emma, but I am so worried that she will be somehow damaged by how I sometimes behaved. My heart was officially broken in all the places that Draco or Riley ever touched. Thankfully I love someone far more than either or both of them and Emma is the reason I have survived.

The last entry of my last journal…Draco’s birthday ironically was deranged and I did not remain that mental for long. I started running out of money by the end of June and though Blaise brought a trunk full on his visit at the beginning of July I realized that it was imperative that I find some work. Working pregnant was hard…working with an infant when you do not know and refuse to trust anyone is impossible. So Blaise started sending me work that I can do remotely…paperwork mostly. Apparently he even got it approved by the Ministry so I am officially an employee with the Department of Magical Game and Sports now. How very strange my life has been.

During Blaise’s visit he also helped me find a house. I have no idea how he knows everything about everything, but he has been a great help trying to figure out how to function in America. They drive crazy here and it is not simply because they do everything backwards…they are just crazy. It still amazes me however how much I seem to enjoy the company of Muggles. It’s not even a superiority thing anymore either…they are just so nonthreatening and normal. I have met several very lovely people over the last few months, but of course my guard is so high that none have been more than an acquaintance here and there.

There is this one girl I met…she works at the place I started going to for breakfast and tea every morning…a little place called The Window Seat. Anyway she is probably just a bit younger then me and one day I was having a really bad day and she just came over, sat down and started talking to me. She was unassuming and unexplainably comforting even though I shared very few details. Over the last month we have talked more, even met for tea in the park last week while I was taking Emma for a walk. I just wish I could slip her some Veritaserum and interrogate her. I don’t know if I can handle another Lucius Malfoy infiltration into my newly built and still somewhat shaky life.

And Emma’s up…I’ll return later…

Pansy was sitting in her favorite diner across from a dark haired sprite-like girl. She glanced outside as the snow started to fall against the fading light of day then looked back to her dining companion and smiled, “You’re sure that you are willing to do this?”

“Are you kidding? I’m still so excited that you’re a witch too! And besides…I’ve got nothing to hide!” She tipped back the tumbler of clear liquid and smiled; “I know there is supposedly not one, but I love the taste of Veritas. And might I say…very nicely brewed, Ms. Parkinson.”

“Thanks…I didn’t brew it…I went over to St. Charles and picked it up.” Pansy smiled and took a long drink of her tea. “Potions was never my strongest subject.” She laughed and quickly tried to stop thinking of the good old days at Hogwarts when the most devastating things were Draco ignoring her or a bad mark in class. She was grateful for the distraction as her friend started to giggle.

“Give it just one minute and then let the interrogation begin.”

Pansy paused thoughtfully then blurted suddenly, “What do you think of this sweater?” She smiled and laughed at the face the girl made in response.

“Actually, I know I told you I really liked it the last time you wore it, but it is quite possibly one of the most hideous things I’ve ever seen.” The girl giggled, “Is that all you’ve got?”

“What is your name?”

“Anastasia Madison O’Neal…Madi.” The girl made another disgusted face, “On second thought, that first name is certainly worth hiding from now on.”

Pansy smiled, “Family name, I imagine?”

“It was my great grandmother’s name. As far as we know, she has been the only other magical member of the family.” Madi sat back in her chair and chuckled, “Does it make it harder or easier to trust me knowing that I’m a witch?”

“Harder…because surprisingly enough, no matter how good I thought I was with magic, I always seem to be blindsided by it.” Pansy’s hands started shaking and she continued sadly, “And it isn’t that I don’t trust you Madi it’s just…the last new person I let in turned out to be associated with the very thing I fear most.”

“If you weren’t so paranoid, Pansy, I would probably be doing the exact same thing. But we’ll save my demons for another time…where would you like to go next?”

“Where are you from?”

The biggest smile that Pansy had ever seen washed across Madi’s face and she nearly danced in her seat as she responded. “I was born in Ireland, just outside Dublin. There were nine of us and my parents –”

“Nine plus your parents?”

“I’m Irish, Love…we’re genetically designed like rabbits.” Madi laughed as she continued, “We lived in this cottage that was barely big enough for three people let alone eleven, but somehow we had enough space to have the best time.”

“When did you know you were a witch?” Pansy poured herself a cup of tea and sat back in her chair as Madi proceeded to detail from her first memory all the way through her training.

“I was accepted to Beauxbatons, but secretly I always wanted to go to Hogwarts. My parents were always a little worried about Dumbledore though, didn’t think I would be safe there, and considering what ended up happening…maybe they were right. No offense.” Madi smiled hesitantly, “Its truth serum…I can only help so much of what comes out.”

Pansy smiled reassuringly, “Please do not apologize. Those last days at Hogwarts were a nightmare. Tell me what you know about that night…the night He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was defeated.” Pansy was surprised by the dreamy expression that washed across her new friend’s face and prayed it meant that Madi did not know about Pansy’s role.

Madi leaned forward and whispered, “I was obsessed with The Daily Prophet in the months that followed that night.” She reached over and took Pansy’s hand, “And the only things I know about your involvement that night is what I read. I do not presume to judge you, Pansy, because I was not there and from what I read in the months that followed, you were pardoned and forgiven by those you harmed. That is sufficient for me because you have been absolutely brilliant since we met. Now…what else do you want to know?”

“Tell me why you were so obsessed with going to Hogwarts…and the war of all things.” Pansy laughed when Madi looked down to hide her bright red cheeks, “Well this is going to be fantastic.”

Giggling and face burying tried to delay Madi’s inevitable confession. Finally she leaned forward again and whispered, “I have the biggest crush on someone who went to Hogwarts.”

Pansy’s eyebrow arched and she smiled slyly, “Who? You are a year younger than me… and how did you even know anyone at Hogwarts?”

“I was at the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Honestly I do not remember even seeing you while I was there. I could probably not tell you about anyone other than that poor boy who was killed and my beloved.” Madi closed her eyes and visibly swooned within her thoughts.

“Who is it?” Pansy leaned forward with anticipation and smiled brightly when Madi finally opened her eyes.

The fairy-like girl leaned close to Pansy and whispered, “Promise you will not judge me or decide you don’t want to be friends with me when I tell you?”

As long as the next two words out of your mouth aren’t Draco Malfoy then we will be fine. “I promise.” Pansy smiled and continued her wide eyed stare.

Madi giggled, whispered, “Harry Potter,” and then buried her face in her arms on the table.

Pansy sat back and involuntarily blurted, “That is disgusting.” She immediately covered her mouth and laughed when Madi looked up at her, “I’m sorry…I do not have the serum to blame, and after everything I should be happy the chosen one hasn’t tracked me down and killed me himself. It was a gut reaction.”

“Do you hate me now?” Madi smiled as Pansy’s worried expression softened. “I figure you tried to get him killed and I’m all right with it because from what I can see you’ve changed. I know you’ve got that whole Slytherin/Gryffindor thing going on, but…certainly you can admit that he’s pretty bloody adorable?”

“I will admit no such thing, but I can respect your obsession. In a way I am no better… I had my own Hogwarts obsession that will haunt me forever.” Pansy looked down and started pulling apart her napkin.

After a few minutes of silence Madi reached over and put her hands on Pansy’s, “You have more questions to ask me. Get it all out before the serum wears off because I’m eager to prove to you that we are really friends so you can tell me what has happened that made you so sad.”

Pansy already knew that she could trust Madi, but for the sake of avoiding past mistakes she asked one more question, “What do you know about the Malfoy family?”

Madi sat back and started spilling her guts, but all of her information was right out of The Daily Prophet. She cited facts and dates and concluded with a simple, “From everything I’ve read Lucius Malfoy is one scary bloke. In photos I always thought his son was pretty… sad though…just like you.”

Tears fell down Pansy’s face and she wiped them quickly and forced a smile, “He usually was sad…a lot like me, but he’s not anymore. Congratulations Madi…you’ve passed Pansy’s truth serum test. I can never explain exactly how important this was to me.”

“Do you know why I came to talk to you that day?” Madi continued after Pansy shook her head, “Here you were…beautiful girl out on a brilliant end of summer day with her daughter; being crushed beneath the weight of what had to be the greatest tragedy. I don’t know if I have ever met anyone so in need of someone to care about them; and somewhere underneath all of that despair I knew there was a bloody good time waiting to erupt.” She paused and took Pansy’s hands, “If you had asked the right questions tonight you would have found out I know a little bit about pain, and I will do anything I have to do to prove that you can trust me so that maybe I can help you recover. Someone did the same for me once and I promised that someday I would return the favor.”

“I will warn you that I am pretty broken, but I promise not to fight your efforts.” Pansy reached over and took Emma from her stroller. She rested the sleeping girl against her shoulder and rubbed her back, “I owe it to my daughter to pull myself together…so thank you for coming to talk to me that day and being a good sport about my paranoia.”

“You’re welcome…in return I will also ask that you not tell anyone about the Harry Potter thing because…it is a bit embarrassing.” Madi blushed and covered her face again.

“No worries there…I find it equally embarrassing…your secrets are all safe with me.” Pansy smiled as Emma twirled a piece of her hair and ran her little fingers over and over it.

Madi watched the precious interaction for a few minutes then leaned back in her chair, “So without any truth serum…do you want to tell me your story?”

Pansy took a deep breath which she held as she put Emma back in the stroller. When she finally looked up at Madi she exhaled, and as if enchanted she detailed every moment from her capture by vigilante groups five days after the war to the day that she decided to walk into the diner where she and her new friend met.

September 2002 – St. Mungo’s Hospital

Pansy looked up as Blaise rushed into the waiting room; she stood and threw her arms around him as soon as he was close enough. Tears streamed down her face and she was shaking from head to toe. “Thank you for getting here so quickly.”

Blaise squeezed her tight then pulled away to look at her, “How are you holding up?”

“I’m not…”

He led Pansy to a sofa and sat next to her, “What do you know?”

“Nothing…Emma was feeling sick all week, but I took her to the Muggle doctor and he said she had the flu. Then this morning her fever was so high and Madi came over and told me I should take her to St. Mungo’s; so she arranged a portkey and we came right here. They immediately took Emma back and no one has been out here to speak with me since. That was hours ago and I keep asking questions, but no one seems to know…” Pansy trailed off when the double doors of the waiting room swung open. She was hopeful for only a moment then her face fell and she almost cowered, “You can not be serious.”

Blaise looked away from Pansy and over to the doors, “Harry Potter is a Healer…I guess I forgot to tell you that.”

“Well he is not going to be Emma’s Healer. He hates me…who could blame him?” Pansy inhaled deeply as Harry continued to approach. She stood and took Blaise’s hand, “Unless she’s already –”

Harry stopped in front of Pansy and Blaise, “I am sorry that you have been kept waiting so long –”

Pansy tried to stop herself, but blurted her interruption, “Are you treating my daughter?”

“Yes…is that going to be a problem?” Harry smiled hesitantly and after a brief pause with no response he continued, “If you would like to have a seat we can discuss Emma’s condition.”

Pansy was confused and speculative, but she forced a slight smile, “Of course…let’s have a seat,” then squeezed Blaise’s hand tightly and pulled him to follow Harry over to nearby chairs. She looked attentively at him and was amazed that he had not changed at all since the last time she had seen him; when she tried to hand him over to Voldemort. This has to be a nightmare…just go with it and eventually you will wake up.

Harry could feel the tension as they sat and interrupted the deafening silence, “Pansy, I think it is important that I first establish with you that the past has nothing to do with our current situation. There may be a time and place that you and I find ourselves having that discussion, but I can assure you that nothing is more important to me then finding the best course of treatment for your little girl.”

Tears immediately started falling down Pansy’s face, “Thank you…how is she?”

“She is stable and we have been able to bring her fever down a bit. You will be able to go back and see her very soon, but I do need to ask you a few questions first. How long has she been sick?”

Pansy calmed immediately and focused on the conversation, “She woke up last week with a fever and not feeling well. I took her to the Muggle doctor where we are staying now and he said she had the flu. She started feeling better, but then this morning her fever shot back up and I brought her straight here.”

Harry opened the chart on his lap and started taking notes, “Was she throwing up at all or complaining of a soar throat, ear ache?”

“No…just the fever; of course her appetite disappeared and she was very tired and weak. It is more serious than the flu isn’t it?” Pansy’s grip on Blaise’s hand was bone crushing and she tried desperately to wake up from what she was convinced was a horrible dream.

“I’m honestly not sure at this point, but the important thing is her fever has come down and she has been asking for you constantly. I will show you both back to her room and then we will be running a multitude of tests over the next few days.” Harry stood and led Pansy and Blaise back to Emma’s room, “I will be in to check on all of you in a little while.”

Blaise walked into Emma’s room and Pansy stood just outside watching Harry walk away until finally she blurted, “Thank you…Doctor…Mr.…Potter.”

Harry turned and smiled slightly, “After all that has happened Pansy I’m quite sure it is appropriate for you to just call me Harry.”

Pansy smiled sadly as she turned to walk through the door then was greeted by a loud mummy cry from across the room. She rushed over, sat on the bed and scooped Emma up into her arms, “How are you feeling? You look better.”

“Better,” Emma smiled brightly then pulled away from Pansy and crawled across the bed and into Blaise’s lap, “Baze!”

He wrapped his arms around her, “Hello, trouble. You gave us a scare, but I’m glad you are feeling better.”

Emma rested her head against Blaise’s chest and sighed, “Better…tired…” she yawned loudly and looked over at Pansy, “Where Harry?”

Blaise chuckled at Pansy’s horror filled expression and whispered, “Imagine what D-R-A-C-O would think of that one.”

Pansy shot him a look then reached over to feel Emma’s head, “You’re still warm. You should lie back down and try and sleep a little.”

“Where Harry?” Emma’s voice carried through the room. She did as her mother told her, but crossed her arms obstinately over her chest as soon as she was under the covers.

“Harry is trying to find something to make you better,” she leaned down and kissed the little blonde girl’s head, “He’ll be back soon and you can tell him you took a nap like a good girl.”

Emma uncrossed her arms and smiled before finally closing her eyes and rolling over. Pansy walked to the chairs across the room and sat down next to Blaise, “Has she really, in the matter of a few hours, become attached to the man I tried to kill?”

Blaise could not help but chuckle, “First of all stop saying it that way. It’s not as if you personally drew your wand and tried to murder him.”

“I might as well have.” Pansy ran her hands roughly through her hair then looked back at Emma, “And now he’s trying to save her life.”

“Add to that the fact that Potter is her father’s arch nemesis and this is just dripping with irony.”

“If Potter can make her well then I can deal with it. First Madi and her chosen one obsession and…” Pansy trailed off when Blaise raised his eyebrow, “Never mind…I wasn’t supposed to say that so you did not hear it. Anyway…Emma is going to be all right and then we are going to go home and she’ll forget all about the chosen one.”

“Will Madi be joining you here? I can make arrangements for a suite of rooms in London –”

“I will not be leaving St. Mungo’s until Emma does; and Madi is running the diner now so I told her to stay put and I would send her news as soon as I had some. I will send her an owl in a while.” Pansy covered her face suddenly as tears started falling quickly, “I am so scared.”

Blaise moved his chair over and put his arm around her, “I hate to admit it, but if Emma was going to see any Healer, Potter is one of the best. She is going to be fine, Pansy, I promise.”

She rested her head against his shoulder and closed her eyes. I sentenced Harry Potter to death that night and he treated my daughter so well that she has a crush on him now. How does one apologize for what I’ve done or appropriately say thank you for what he has done?

8 September 2002

Dear Harry Potter,

This is by far the strangest correspondence I have ever drafted and yet the most important and overdue of my entire life. If I were a stronger person I would deliver this apology while looking you in the eyes, but I fear with the current circumstances I already feel as if I am reaping the consequences for my transgressions; in other words the letter will have to be sufficient.

How one appropriately goes about apologizing for trying to kill someone I am still a bit unsure. Though it was not my hand that attempted to steal your life from you my voice, as usual, was deplorable enough and I live with the fact that there is no way to ever take that back. I can assure you that I have reflected over that moment for years now and I acted out of fear; and not a day has gone by that I have not regretted the fact that I used your life to defend my own.

The fact that you can even look at me speaks to your character, Harry Potter, but the care you have provided to my daughter without hesitation and with the most delicate nature is a testament to the wonderful gift you are to the magical world. If you can believe that people are capable of change please believe that I have. I am in awe of the very presence of a person as brilliant as you and could never thank you enough for all that you have done for Emma.

There are a million thank yous and apologies that I want to convey and there are just no words to express any of it correctly. You are a marvelous human being and a magnificent chosen one and a brilliant Healer and honestly you are much more attractive then I remember. I shudder to imagine what the world would be like without you…is not that the strangest thing you could ever imagine in a letter from me?

Thank you for everything you are and everything you have done and everything you continue to do.


Pansy Parkinson

Pansy kept her word and did not leave St. Mungo’s at all. It was day three since Emma was admitted and while the little girl slept Pansy paced wondering how the letter she had sent to Harry the night before had been received. Late morning Pansy looked up as the door to Emma’s room opened and Harry walked in. She leaned down to kiss Emma’s head without waking the little blonde girl then quietly crept towards the door and followed Harry into the hallway. “Good morning…”

“Good morning. How is she feeling today?”

“She seems better…”

Harry handed Pansy a cup of coffee, “And what about you…have you slept at all in the last three days?”

“A bit…I’m too worried to sleep.” Pansy took a drink of her coffee and smiled, “Thank you for the boost though. Did you by any chance receive my letter?”

Harry smiled and nodded, “Last night…I was going to write back, but figured I would just reassure you in person. To be honest I have spent the last four years tirelessly putting that night at Hogwarts behind me and from the look of things you have worked just as hard to do the same. I found out about the shelters after a Polyjuiced version of me rescued you; and I immediately contacted the Ministry to shut them all down. I promise you I had no idea that such places existed and though at the time you were certainly not one of my favorite people I was horrified at the deplorable things you endured at the hand of people claiming their own vengeance; definitely not mine.”

Tears streamed down Pansy’s face and she looked down, “How can you be so calm and forgiving about that night, Harry? Don’t you want to yell at me or hit me or something?”

“There was real evil present that night; but you were loyal to Malfoy, not Voldemort. In the grand scheme of things did any of the fighting amongst houses or the Harry Potter vs. Draco Malfoy childhood war even matter? I never wanted Malfoy dead, I believe you never actually wanted me dead and I know he didn’t. He had plenty of opportunity to kill me and he never really even tried. All that matters now is that we all survived, Voldemort was destroyed and it was not me alone who did that. We all have lives of our own now and you are sitting here dealing with a problem I can help you with. To turn my back on you would make that night pointless. To not find a way to co-exist would mean that everyone who died fighting for a better world did so in vain.” Harry took a deep breath and smiled, “So long story short…no I do not want to hit you.”

Pansy had been so consumed with the pain of losing Draco for so many years that the war and the shelter had been pushed back in her memory. The recollection of the horrors she endured during that time took her breath away a bit and she tried to mask her expression by taking a long drink of her coffee.

“I did not mean to upset you, Pansy, only to tell you that I am sorry for the things that happened to you. Lives were destroyed that night and every person there was tested, but it is over now and between us there are no more apologies necessary. I mean…I assume you have no master plan to kill me this time around?” Harry chuckled when Pansy’s eyes widened and she started to panic, “I’m kidding.”

“You are something special, Harry Potter…there is no doubt about that.” She smiled then changed the subject swiftly, “You do seem a bit worried about something this morning though. I hope it’s nothing bad…” Because it is in your best interest to save all bad news for when Blaise arrives so you do not have to deal with my psychotic episode.

“Let’s sit and talk for a few minutes,” Harry led Pansy to a bench across from Emma’s room and sat down next to her. “I spent all last night going over Emma’s test results and I have found that she has a blood disorder. That is what is causing her cell counts to spike and fall, the fevers, weakness. I am having a very difficult time pinpointing the cause however and I was hoping you could provide me with some family history.”

She shifted uncomfortably on the bench and looked down quickly, “Like what?”

“Have you ever had any similar illnesses or either of your parents; and what about her father? We have not even discussed him, but his family history could be vital in determining what is happening to Emma.” Harry paused and saw that Pansy was visibly shaking again. He hesitantly reached over and took her hand, paused to see if she would flinch or pull it away, but when she did neither he continued, “Draco is the father, isn’t he?”

Pansy looked up at Harry and her eyes answered his question. As tears rolled down her face she whispered, “He can never know. If Lucius Malfoy knows that Emma is the Malfoy heir he will take her from me, just like he did Draco, and he will give her to Astoria Greengrass. I can’t allow that to happen under any circumstances.” Tears flowed freely from her eyes and her thoughts ran wild. We need you Draco…

Harry interrupted Pansy’s thoughts and the silence. “Do you ever remember Draco mentioning anything about the health of his parents, grandparents even? Also, I know that he worked a lot with potions. Is it possible you could give me any idea of potions he might have taken?”

“He took a lot of potions. We were using Polyjuice like it was water the year we lived in the woods after the war. I’m sure that’s how you figured out that he was the Polyjuiced version of you at the shelter?” Pansy blushed and looked down.

“I assumed,” Harry paused thoughtfully then continued, “This isn’t Polyjuice if it is potion related at all. If this is not a hereditary disorder, which we should test you for immediately; then the only other explanation I can think of is a potion gone wrong. A lot of times wizards underestimate the adverse effects when using unfamiliar ingredients. If Draco took something that he was allergic to any sign of a reaction in the blood stream could be delayed, but could be something potentially passed on to a child.”

Pansy’s face flushed though not from worry about Draco. He was a master of potions and would never have been careless with ingredients he intended to ingest himself. Only a desperate and inexperienced wizard would be so hasty; unless of course the intention was to cause harm all along. Pansy looked up when Harry squeezed her hand and more tears started pouring from her eyes. “If it was a potion, it wasn’t Draco, he’s too good to make a mistake like that, but it very well could be me.”

“What did you take?”

“Well I suppose there are two possibilities to choose from.” Pansy stopped and took a deep breath, but her tears would not yield. She buried her face in her hands and was surprised how calming Harry’s arm around her was. After a few moments of battling over what she was about to admit, Pansy looked up and spoke in nearly a whisper, “They sterilized us at the shelter…in case we could not be rehabilitated. They did not want to take the chance of pregnancies intended to populate another army of death eaters. Being that I so willingly… acted as I did the night of the battle I was part of the test batch of the potion they used. I have no idea what was in it. When Draco and I started growing close after he rescued me I worried about what would happen if he ever proposed marriage and I had to tell him I could no longer have children so I took it upon myself to put together a potion to reverse the vigilante’s potion. I should have known better…ingredients were never my area of expertise.” Pansy gently pulled her hand from Harry’s and ran both hands over her face roughly. “So what is happening to her is my fault…” she stood and started pacing as her tears started to swallow her.

“We don’t know that,” Harry stood and put his hands on her arms to stop her from moving, “Can you write down what was in the potion and then we can run some blood work on you. Regardless of what caused this if I know where it started I can fix it…for both of you if you are carrying the disorder as well. And your secrets are all safe with me. I know I’m making you a lot of promises, but you are just going to have to trust me.”

“I do trust you,” Pansy smiled, but her tears continued to take over, “Maybe it is time to contact Draco…he has a right to know what is happening and I can’t do this all by myself anymore.”

Harry wrapped his arms around Pansy and gently rubbed her back, “Why don’t you wait for Blaise to arrive and you two can make that determination together.”

“What in the hell is going on here?”

Harry let Pansy go and they both looked to see Blaise standing behind them in the hallway. The dark haired girl ran into Blaise’s arms and sobbed into his chest, “I made a really big mistake.”

Blaise held tight to Pansy and looked at Harry, “Can you explain this?”

“Emma has a blood disorder. It could be hereditary, but it could also be caused by a potion that Pansy took; either one forced on her at the shelter or one she took not long after.” Harry realized immediately that Blaise had no knowledge of the potions and he stood back as Pansy pulled away and looked up at her friend.

“What potions, Pans? You never said anything about –”

“Because I knew that you would be furious…about both of them. I didn’t think, after everything that happened that they mattered at all. They sterilized us at the shelter…” she trailed off briefly when Blaise pulled away and she witnessed his instantaneous seething. Pansy stood quietly and watched him pace for a moment then continued, “And when I started thinking Draco might propose I didn’t know how I was going to tell him so –”

Blaise stopped pacing, turned and shouted at her, “So you put yourself in danger again… for him. Why didn’t you contact me? Why didn’t you come to St. Mungo’s?”

“Hi, I’m the girl that was taken to one of the death eater camps after the war because I tried to turn Harry Potter over to the dark lord. They killed my parents, beat me within inches of my life and sterilized me…I’d really like to have babies though…can you help me?” Pansy sat on the bench, leaned over and rested her face in her hands, “I didn’t know what else to do, Blaise, so I improvised…like I always have.”

The look of horror on Harry’s face matched Blaise’s like a mirror. Harry finally interrupted the silence and sat down next to Pansy, “I’m sorry that I made you relive all of this.”

“You apologizing to me for anything is unheard of, Harry. I’m getting exactly what I deserve…just like everything else has been…no less than what I deserve and that’s why it just keeps on coming.” Pansy stood and walked down the hallway and out of sight.

The minute she reached the abandoned department store she slowed her pace to a crawl and eventually leaned up against a wall and slid to the floor. She sat for what seemed like days pondering the exact debt she would repay to karma if her daughter did not survive. The pain of being away from Emma, even just a few floors below was debilitating, but the thought that she could ever be gone from the world was worse than any anguish Pansy could possibly imagine. Maybe it was time to just get up, go back upstairs and fight with everything she had to make sure a cure was found. Maybe she was ready to stand up to the universe that seemed hell bent on torturing her and either declare war or surrender. Maybe there was no way to avoid now owning up to the truth and telling Draco about his daughter.

When Blaise finally found the dark haired girl curled up on the floor his fury had subsided and he walked over and sat down next to her. “I’m sorry that I shouted at you. I never meant to be accusatory and –”

“Why not? If either of the potions are to blame for Emma’s condition then this entire thing is my fault. I chose to be in the company of those loyal to the dark lord. I stood up in the Great Hall, before everyone, and handed Harry over to Voldemort. That landed me in the shelter and got my parents killed. The other potion was never intended to hurt anyone, but I should have known that happiness was never woven into my destiny.” Pansy stood and started to walk away when she felt Blaise stand behind her and grab her arm.

“I talked to Harry,” Blaise stood behind Pansy and wrapped his arms around her shoulders, “He has forgiven you…when will you finally forgive yourself?”

She turned and looked up at him calmly, “Never…”


“Because I am still being punished; and maybe if I embrace my guilt and continue to do my penance then the universe will just stop trying to kill me,” tears started falling again, but Pansy did not bother to dry them, “I can handle the repercussions, but not when they are inflicted on Emma…so maybe its time that I let her go and take all of the bad with me.”

Blaise held tight to Pansy’s arms as she tried to walk away, “What are you saying?”

“I am going to have the blood tests Harry wants to do; to see if I caused this and if I did then I am going to write Draco and tell him to come and collect his daughter.” She felt Blaise’s grip lighten and she pulled away.

He let her go, but shouted after her, “The hell you are. Harry is in contact with the Ministry right now trying to determine what potion you were given in the shelter. He is convinced that he will find a way to treat Emma and when she leaves St. Mungo’s it will be with you. If your choice is to keep her away from the parent whose fault this all is then the last place you would send her is with Malfoy.”

It was not the first time that Pansy had sensed more than a bit of irritation from Blaise on the topic of Draco, but it was the first occurrence where they felt on opposite sides of a battle. “Why do you hate him so much all of a sudden?”

“How can you not hate him is a better question. I love him like a brother and I know that he is the love of your life without question, but how is it that you do not hate the very beating of his cowardly, deceptive heart?” Blaise knew he had crossed a line with Pansy and prepared for her lashing in return.

“To say that his heart is deceptive means you question that he loves me.” The mere thought that Draco’s love could have been a lie was gutting Pansy alive, but she stood her ground and waited for a response.

Blaise took a few steps forward and whispered, “If he truly loves you…if he meant everything that he said to you in the forest than why is he currently married to someone else? Harry Potter, the person you carry immeasurable guilt over trying to kill, is working day and night to help you…and where is Draco?”

“Do you honestly believe if he knew what was happening that he wouldn’t be right here doing everything in his power to help his daughter?” Pansy’s tears dried and her body trembled with mounting rage.

“And why isn’t he here, Pansy? Is it because you really don’t want him in your life? Is it because you committed a treacherous crime against destiny and the universe has decreed that if you end up together you’ll destroy the world? Or is it because Draco Malfoy is a coward and couldn’t stand up like a man and tell his father no. Draco did what he had to in order to save his own ass just like he always does. He chose the family name over you and then gave it to someone else –”

“I left him!” Pansy cowered slightly as Blaise moved closer and his voice erupted in response before she could continue.

“On his wedding day!

“I was trying to protect him!”

“AND WHEN EXACTLY HAS HE EVER PROTECTED YOU?” Blaise calmed immediately and took a deep breath before he continued, “The truth is I have kept you safe from Lucius Malfoy because I wanted to…Draco didn’t even try. The person you love, who supposedly loves you more than anything else in the world is the reason you ended up in that shelter in the first place. Draco is the reason you became the person you did at Hogwarts, in fact he encouraged it because you met his needs. He is the reason your instincts made you shout Harry’s name that night, and he is the reason you’ve been walking around damaged and incomplete for the last eleven years. And for all of that, for all that I have watched you go through, I can love him like a brother and hate his bloody guts.”

Pansy was frozen in front of Blaise, but managed in a whisper, “I can not hate him, Blaise…please believe me. I have tried so hard for so long and it is not possible.”

Blaise moved hesitantly toward Pansy and when she did not move away he pulled her into a tight hug, “And I accepted that a long time ago no matter how much I hate it; but your daughter belongs with you and for once I am begging you to trust your instincts and not tell him.”

“Can we just not talk about this anymore?” Pansy squeezed Blaise around his waist then pulled away and looked up at him, “Are you done shouting at me?” Tears started falling down her face and she buried it in Blaise’s chest.

He kissed the top her head and sighed, “I’m sorry for yelling…especially right now. I just know when you start talking crazy that the only way to get your attention is to be bold. Forgive me?”

She pulled away and smiled up at him, “I think if Harry Potter can forgive me than I can let you slide.” Pansy dried her eyes and held out her hand, “We should get back upstairs in case Emma is awake. I want to stop in the gift shop and buy her something before we go up.”

Blaise took her hand and led her back to the hospital entrance. They stopped and bought stuffed animals and an assortment of candy then returned to Emma’s room quickly. Pansy walked in and over to sit on the bed. She smiled and leaned down to kiss Emma’s head, “You’re awake…did you miss me?” The little girl nodded and climbed into Pansy’s lap. “I brought you a present,” she noticed Blaise roll his eyes when she pulled a stuffed ferret from behind her back.

Emma giggled quietly and hugged the stuffed animal tight, “Daddy!”

“That’s right,” Pansy laughed as tears started streaming down her face, “I’m sorry that your Daddy isn’t here right now, but he loves you and I love you –”

“Love you,” Emma stood on the bed and reached over to dry a tear falling down Pansy’s face then suddenly looked up at the door, “Harry!”

“Munchkin…Pansy…Blaise,” Harry smiled at both of them then handed Emma a sucker. He paused and chuckled at the stuffed ferret on the bed and whispered to Pansy, “Please tell me that is what received the daddy reaction.”

Pansy smiled, “She was starting to call Blaise daddy…I had to think of something.”

Harry continued to resist laughing and instead looked down and addressed Emma, “Can you be a good girl and sit in here while your mum and I talk in the hall?”

Emma had the sucker in her mouth and nodded at Harry before sitting down on the bed and holding tight to the stuffed ferret. Pansy kissed her head then followed Harry and Blaise into the hallway. He seemed happy which eased Pansy’s nerves as she waited impatiently for him to speak.

“I was able to obtain some information about the potion you were given and I believe that is our problem. To be honest, with everything that was in the test batch I’m surprised you were even able to counteract it, but I can say with absolute certainty that it was not your potion that caused this. I do want to run a series of tests on you because if you are carrying this disorder we should start you on the same treatment as Emma.” Harry seemed almost excited by the idea of breaking down the mysterious blood disorder; so much so that he became distracted by his thoughts.

Pansy interrupted after a few brief moments, “And what treatment might that be?”

“I’m not sure yet, but I will not stop until I have figured it out. Now…I will send a nurse in to draw some blood –”

“Sure you don’t want to stick me yourself?” Pansy looked from Harry to Blaise then blushed, “Well that certainly did not sound right.” She looked down and started to giggle, “I’ll be in with Emma,” before either could respond she ducked from between them and rushed into Emma’s room. Did I actually just say that?

Emma looked up and started pouting, “Where's Harry?”

Oh dear god…we can not both have a crush on him.

14 November 2002

It has been one really long month at St. Mungo’s, but Harry’s treatment appears to be working and Emma is almost completely back to normal. Rumor has it we may be able to go home as soon as next week. We are going to have to stay in London for a bit because the treatment is intensive and wouldn’t you know it I have the disorder too and Harry has insisted on immediate treatments for me as well. Have I mentioned Harry Potter is brilliant? He isolated the problem, developed a potion to counter act it and all when he should want to kill me. I would have imagined that any child sharing Malfoy and Parkinson DNA would be the worst thing for Potter, but he has been a genius, saved me and Emma and now the Malfoy/Parkinson child has a Gryffindor size crush on the chosen one.

Contrary to how I sound the only crush I have on Harry is the one any mother would have on the person who saved her daughter. It is strange though…we’re friends…I think. Over the last several weeks another strange and surreal thing has happened in that I have also become comfortably chatty with Ginny Weasley on more than one occasion. She comes to see Harry at the hospital and one day we bumped into each other. Just like Harry she was gracious and open to the possibility that I was not a deplorable excuse for a human being anymore. This overwhelming need I have to apologize all the time is becoming somewhat embarrassing, but in the last few weeks especially I have found that our random conversations have been a comforting distraction.

It is so difficult to not write Draco and tell him all of this. It would infuriate him and that’s part of why I want to tell him. Also because I want him to know that I too was able to find a life where I was respectable and could keep the company of good and honest people like Ginny Weasley…and the chosen one for goodness sake. I get caught up in the memory of Blaise yelling at me downstairs in Purge and Dowse and I find there are parts I agree with. Not that I blame Draco for what happened at Hogwarts. I chose to make him my sole purpose for existing and I continue to take responsibility for all of my actions. Still I guess I can not help but wonder how different things could have been. I knew who Draco was before we arrived; and my parents set me up to hunt him down the minute I stepped onto Platform 9 ¾. Not that I doubt my legitimate placement in Slytherin, but I always felt I willed it to be so. I pursued him relentlessly and I did finally catch him…but I wonder how different things might have been if he was nothing more than a troublemaker from another house that I had never given much thought to at all. Can’t go back…only forward.

Harry gave me and Blaise two tickets to a benefit for St. Mungo’s on Friday. It’s a formal event and Blaise even offered to buy me a new dress, but I could never leave Emma alone that long and

Pansy looked up from the chair in Emma’s room and squealed. She woke Emma who immediately sat up and squealed too, “Madi!”

“What are you doing here?” Pansy got up and pulled the dark haired girl into a tight hug.

“I couldn’t stand it anymore so I hired and trained someone to watch the diner and grabbed a port key,” Madi moved over to the bed where Emma was bouncing up and down and scooped her up into a hug, “And I missed the munchkin!” Emma giggled as Madi hugged and tickled her until they were interrupted by a new voice in the room.

“Looks like Emma has a new friend.”

Pansy giggled as Madi turned around and every bit of color rushed from her face. “Harry Potter, may I introduce you to my good friend Madison O’Neal. Madi…why don’t you put my daughter down and come meet Harry Potter?”

Emma squeezed her arms around Madi’s neck and interrupted her daze when she shouted, “Harry!”

Madi smiled and handed Emma to Pansy then turned and extended her trembling hand, “It is a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Potter.”

He shook her hand, obviously not unaccustomed to such an awestruck reaction, “It is very nice to meet you, Madi…and please call me Harry.”

For a moment Pansy feared that Madi might pass out. The fairy like girl looked down at her hand still frantically shaking Harry’s and she pulled her hand away swiftly, “I’m sorry…I’m not normally…”

“A lunatic? Don’t let her fool you…she is always like this.” Pansy smiled at the glaring look that Madi shot her. “That’s why she is one of my best friends.”

“You were at the Tri-Wizard tournament weren’t you? Beauxbatons, yeah?” Harry smiled when Madi mindlessly nodded and looked quickly at Pansy, “Is she all right?”


The dark haired girl looked first at Harry then over to Pansy, “Can I apparate from St. Mungo’s?” When Pansy shook her head Madi looked back at Harry, “Please excuse me, its just…do you actually remember me from the Tri-Wizard tournament or did she tell you to say that?”

“No, I remembered all on my own…in fact I had considered asking you to the Yule Ball until I found out you were going with one of the brute squad from Durmstrang.” Harry watched Madi’s face grow even paler and he grabbed her arm, “Why don’t you sit down.”

Madi sat in a chair and sighed, “Damn…”

“I loved the Yule Ball,” Pansy smiled and danced with Emma back to the bed. When she put her down the memories of dancing with Draco flooded her mind and she quickly changed the subject and looked at Madi, “You should be Blaise’s date for the St. Mungo’s benefit…see that, problem solved!”

“What benefit?” Madi turned around swiftly and looked at Pansy, “You’re going, whatever it is. You look like you could use a break…a nice night out. And let me guess…you have been using Emma as your excuse to avoid having fun…well too bad…I’m here now.”

Harry smiled at the terrified look on Pansy’s face, “Shall I tell Blaise you will be requiring a new dress after all then? I’m sure Ginny will be over by the end of the day pulling you off to go shopping.”

Pansy rolled her eyes and sighed, “Fine…but I’m not sure that something like this is the best place for me to make my re-entry into magical society. It’s a benefit which means a bunch of rich people. What if –”

“Malfoy senior and junior have both replied with regrets. I would never have put you in that position,” Harry smiled victoriously, “Any other excuses you would like to try?”

The door opened and interrupted Pansy’s response. Blaise walked in and immediately over to hug Madi when he saw her, “You made it!”

“I did…thank you for contacting me. I could not wait to get here and spend a night with the munchkin so her mum can go out and let loose.” Madi smiled over at Pansy, “You never said little white lies for your own good were disallowed.”

Harry chuckled and spoke before Pansy could, “Then it’s settled. I’ll have Ginny contact you about shopping. Well done on your planning, Blaise. Madi, it was a pleasure to meet you and I’m sure we’ll see each other again. Oh, and the best news, which is why I stopped in…Emma will be going home the day after the benefit.”

“There is a loft rented for you and Emma in London, protected by the Fidelius Charm so no one can find you.” Blaise walked over and sat on the bed next to Pansy and Emma, “And you can stay there as long as you like…of course I hope that you will stay permanently even though I have no idea where the place is.”

Pansy looked at him confused for a moment then blurted, “Who is the secret keeper then?”

“I know you hate putting me in a position to keep secrets from D-R-A-C-O…so the secret lies with the only other person in this room Snape trained in Occlumency; and who would die before giving up any information to a Malfoy.” Blaise looked over to Harry who smiled hesitantly.

“Unless you would be more comfortable with someone else; I will not be offended, I promise.” Harry watched Pansy for a reaction and was unhappy to see tears start falling from her eyes. “Blaise can rent something and –”

“No, I’m quite pleased that you have agreed to do this for us. I’m crying because it is overwhelming to me that all of you have done so much for us.” Pansy pulled Emma close to her and kissed her head, “Thank you…all of you for everything.”

The moment was priceless and Pansy scanned the smiling faces around her once more. Harry eventually took his leave and the minute the door shut behind him Madi blurted, “He was going to ask me to the Yule Ball?” She slumped in the chair and slammed her head back, “He’s so bloody beautiful in person I can hardly stand it.”

“This is disgusting,” Blaise cringed, but laughed quickly when Pansy and Madi both shot him a dirty look, “I’m sorry…he’s a decent bloke and bloody brilliant Healer, but…”

“Harry!” Emma squealed and buried her face in Pansy’s chest.

Blaise rolled his eyes and started towards the door, “I need some air.”

Once it was just the girls Pansy and Madi talked for hours about Harry and the benefit and about the miracle of Emma finally being released from the hospital good as new.

Ginny arrived later that day to go shopping with Pansy and found the perfect dress for the benefit in the first shop they visited. The day of the actual event Madi helped Pansy with hair, make-up, and all other appropriate primping and at six sharp Blaise opened the door to Emma’s hospital room. His arms were overflowing with flowers as he looked over at Pansy wearing a floor length hunter green gown; her hair was up in cascading curls that fell down her exposed back. “Wow…you are breathtaking.”

“Thank you,” she blushed and walked over to sit with Emma on the bed, “Are you going to be a good girl for Madi?”

“Yes!” Emma smiled up at Pansy then yawned loudly, “Tired.”

Pansy hugged her tight and gave her a kiss, “I’ll be back in a few hours all right?”

The little blonde girl nodded then lay back against the pillows and squeezed her stuffed ferret. Pansy tried to ignore the twinge that came every time she saw Emma’s stuffed animal and turned to Madi, “If you need anything the nursing staff can reach us at the benefit. They know to alert Harry immediately if there are any problems.”

“Everything is going to be perfect, Pans. Emma is going to sleep; I’m going to read the new book I brought with me…it’s about vampires and it sounded cute…not like real vampires. Anyway…you and Blaise go and have a spectacular time.” Madi hugged Pansy and sat down in the chair next to Emma’s bed, “Go… you are guests of the chosen one…don’t be late…and you look beautiful…both of you.” She smiled then opened her book and started reading.

Blaise extended his arm, “It would be my honor to escort you now.”

She wrapped her arm in his and smiled, “Why do I get the feeling this is a date?”

“I’m not trying to make a move on you, Pans. I gave up that hope years ago.” Blaise smiled and led Pansy from the room and as soon as they were able they apparated to the benefit.

After about an hour of mingling, and having many pleasant conversations much to Pansy’s surprise, the couple finally sat down to have a drink. Pansy looked around at all of the people in their fancy dresses; occasionally catching sight of Harry and Ginny mingling and marveling at how much had changed in barely two months. She finally looked over and noticed that Blaise was practically staring across the room; turning, but unable to determine his target she laughed, “Who or what has you so captivated?”

“No one…” Blaise turned and smirked, “Nothing…there was a girl over there I thought I might want to dance with, but she appears to be taken.”

Pansy turned again and looked around for someone of Blaise’s type, “Well, you should find someone else because I know you want to dance at this thing.” Suddenly Pansy gasped and turned around to look at Blaise, “Ginny Weasley is the Quidditch player isn’t she?”

“What are you talking about?”

“The Quidditch player…the only girl you had noticed in months. You have been giving me a hard time about your delusions that I have a crush on Harry Potter because you have been secretly lusting after his fiancé this entire time.” Pansy laughed when Blaise rolled his eyes and attempted to appear more annoyed than defensive about her accusations.

He leaned forward and whispered, “I would never date a Weasley, Pans. Things have changed, but that has not.”

“Its all right, Blaise…your secret is safe with me.” She laughed as he looked away, “Well go find someone else then. I know you’re dying to get away from me right now.”

He stood and kissed her head, “Are you sure you don’t mind?” Blaise looked down at Pansy and smiled.

She rolled her eyes and waved him off, “Go…dance with whoever you want to. You should have come to this thing alone anyway.” She smiled as Blaise blew her a kiss and rushed off. There were numerous couples dancing around on the wooden floor before her when suddenly a familiar smile came into her line of view and was approaching.

Harry stopped in front of Pansy and extended his hand, “May I have this dance?”

She laughed and her eyebrow arched inquisitively, “Wouldn’t it destroy your image if you were seen dancing with the evil troll who tried to hand you over to –”

He interrupted her by grabbing her hand and pulling her up from the chair, “I’m the Chosen One, Pansy…charity is part of the job.” He smiled as her expression appeared offended; still he pulled her to the dance floor, “Think of what this does for your image.”

“I can hear the whispers as we speak.” Pansy smiled as Harry put his hand on her waist and took her right hand. She placed her left hand carefully on his shoulder and allowed him to begin leading her around the floor in rhythm with the music. After a few awkward moments she laughed quietly, “You’ve improved.”

Harry chuckled and his cheeks rushed crimson, “I’m sorry, I do not recall ever having the pleasure of sharing a dance with you, Ms. Parkinson.”

“See and I thought most of what we did in those days was all a dance. I was referring, however, to your less than graceful performance at the Yule Ball.” Pansy giggled when Harry rolled his eyes, “I realize that was a long time ago, but it was quite funny to behold.”

“Speaking of the Yule Ball; was Madi ok?” Harry spun Pansy out then back into formation, “It’s been a long time since anyone has had that reaction to me; it was endearing.”

“She’s got a pint size crush on you actually, but then I suppose you are still very used to that.” Pansy blushed and looked down quickly before making eye contact again and smiling, “You’ve certainly stolen my daughter’s heart. She talks about you incessantly.”

Harry chuckled then spun Pansy again, “I’m sure that must be delightful for you.”

“I manage,” she smiled and suddenly felt more alive and peaceful than she could remember, “There are never enough words to thank you for everything, Harry; for all that you have done for Emma, for your forgiveness and your compassion. I would have never in a million years imagined it possible, but I find your friendship has become one of the most surprising blessings.”

“You are a good person, Pansy, and you are surrounded by people now who will continue to encourage you to believe that. I am happy to have been able to help Emma and look forward to watching you build a life for the two of you.” Harry was suddenly distracted and started to laugh, “I hope Blaise doesn’t mind, but it looks like Ginny just demanded a dance.”

Pansy whirled around and started to laugh, “I think he’ll survive.” She paused and looked around the room for reactions, and noticed a few whispers and surprised glances; “We will certainly all be the talk of this benefit.”

“It’s about time we shook these things up a bit; they are normally all stuffy and nothing exciting ever happens.” Harry continued to lead Pansy around the dance floor and after a few dances they decided to cut in on Ginny and Blaise.

Pansy smiled as Blaise refused to look at her while pulling her into formation and beginning their dance. After a few silent moments she giggled, “Did you have fun?”

“She asked me to dance; I could hardly refuse,” he glared at the dark haired girl, but eventually allowed a smiled, “If you tell anyone about this my retaliation will not be pleasant.”

“Your secrets are all safe with me, Blaise,” she moved closer and rested her cheek against his, “Thank you for making me come tonight.”

“Thank you for agreeing to accompany me; you are by far the most beautiful woman in this room,” he smiled as if he knew she was rolling her eyes, “Say thank you.”

“Thank you.”

After a few more dances Blaise excused himself and Pansy found herself sitting at the table with Ginny talking about all of the unattractive ensembles in the room.

Blaise escorted Pansy back to St. Mungo’s in the wee hours of morning. They went in to check on Emma and when they found both her and Madi sound asleep in the bed they crept back out and went to sit in a waiting room down the hall. Pansy had noticed as the night was drawing to a close that Blaise’s mood had changed and finally decided to confront him. “So what happened this evening that has you so ruffled?”

He sat down next to her and smiled, “Tomorrow…it can wait for then.”

“It is tomorrow…and I certainly will not be able to rest until I know, so…out with it.” She smiled and masked her immediate worry that Blaise was about to deliver more bad news.

There was a long pause and he finally looked up at her, “Draco was at the benefit.”

Pansy felt her breathing catch, but responded with a forced calm, “No, he wasn’t. I was all over that ball room, I would have seen him.”

“I’m quite certain he had not been there long and retreated when he saw you dancing with Potter.” Blaise took her hands and waited for her to start crying, but was surprised that she remained completely collected.

“Well, I would like to say this isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, but good. I can not imagine anyone else who could have come close to evening the scorecard against witnessing his wedding.” Pansy squeezed Blaise’s hand and sighed, “I’m sure he was furious. I’m surprised he did not confront me right there.”

Blaise appeared uncomfortable with the conversation and responded hesitantly, “When I came upon him, he had just been involved in an argument with Astoria. You are probably going to be upset with me, but I asked him if he wanted me to go and bring you to him.” He looked up at waited for a lashing, but continued when Pansy just smiled sadly, “He declined due to his inability to handle it if you said no and told me to tell you that he respects your choices and your freedom.”

“I am not mad at you,” she squeezed his hand and fought back the tears she felt building in her eyes, “But it’s for the best because I would have said no. It takes everything I have every day not to contact him. I can not see him because I would have no choice but to confess everything and that will not help anyone.” The tears she resisted finally fell and she pulled her hand from Blaise’s and wiped her face, “Thank you for telling me…and for waiting to tell me until we left the benefit.”

He pulled her into a tight hug and whispered, “I did not want to ruin your evening. I’m sorry that I could not hide this until the morning.” Blaise pulled away and dried her eyes, “Not to mention I probably vanquished all of the warm champagne feelings you had.”

“Actually, I’m still feeling a little tipsy,” she giggled and took a deep breath, “Its probably good Emma is asleep…of course now you’re stuck here to keep me distracted. Unless of course you made arrangements to meet up with one of the many beautiful women you danced with tonight because I would never dream of denying you that incredible feeling of an unexpected and perfect first kiss.” She giggled again and looked to Blaise for a reaction.

“The incredible feeling of an unexpected and perfect first kiss…you would never deny me that, eh?” Blaise smiled at Pansy’s continued giggling then suddenly reached around to the back of her neck and pulled her into a long kiss; which Pansy did not resist.

18 November 2002

So much to say and it has only been two days. Emma was released from the hospital yesterday and she has all of her spunk back! The benefit was amazing and I had so much more fun than I ever expected. I danced with Harry, figured out that the Quidditch player Blaise has been eyeing all this time is Ginny, and apparently Draco witnessed the entire thing and I didn’t even know he was there. I can go through all of the emotions associated with Draco later…too many other things have happened.

First matter to preserve for posterity…Blaise Zabini is a damn good kisser. It just happened… when we got back from the benefit. He grabbed me and I swear I felt it in my toes. The whole experience was pretty intense and I’m not going to lie, I really liked it. We stopped before things could get out of control; partly because we were in a waiting room at St. Mungo’s and partly because it would have destroyed everything between us. The next day conversation was awkward at first, but by the end we were exchanging compliments. Strange, but I’m really glad it happened!

I would like to preface this next part by saying that I am not making any of it up…I promise. Emma and I spent yesterday at the Weasley’s house. Let me tell you that Ron Weasley was having absolutely no part of this at first but Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and Ginny were warm and welcoming. Granger was hesitant, but she even came around pretty quickly. I’m sure they just feel sorry for me considering everything that has happened since the war. Still the fact that Harry is able to stand the sight of me is remarkable enough…sharing a meal with the Weasleys was surreal.

We had an amazing day…in fact being back in London has been incredible all the way around. I love being able to see Blaise again whenever I want and surprisingly enough a lot of the bad memories from the last time I tried to have a life here have faded quickly. Madi is leaving tomorrow and I will miss her like crazy, but Emma loves London too and she has become so attached to everyone. I want her to have as many people as possible around giving her love every single minute. It is the least I can do for denying her Draco. Not a moment passes in the day that I do not wish I could just tell him. But it’s too great a risk.

I think that it is important for us to stay close to St. Mungo’s anyway. Even though Emma is much better Harry still seems concerned and while he is worried I want to make sure we are close by. The munchkin has all her sparkle back and has been running around like a mental patient since yesterday morning. She was definitely the key to loosening up Ron. The funniest thing is I think Emma has a crush on Ron and Harry. Sadistically I would love to share that fact with Draco as well.

Realizing of course that I said I was not going to speak about this I can not help but wonder what happened with Draco in the aftermath of the benefit. I know I said that it evened the score, but that was never my intention. I suppose I have stayed away all this time to spare him, as much as myself, the pain of being in the same room together, but unable to be together. I lied last night when I said I wouldn’t have talked to him. If Blaise had told me that Draco was in the corridor waiting for me I would have run to him in a heartbeat and told him everything. I know it is best that did not happen.

We are hidden in London so I can stay hidden from Draco. I am thinking that Emma and I will stay at least through Christmas and see what happens after the New Year. Blaise will continue sending me work and I will actually be able to do more because I will be local. As long as I stay out of the Ministry, away from my old places in London, and limit my magic I should be able to fly under the radar until I figure out what we are going to do next.

The holidays were brilliant for Pansy and Emma and both adjusted quickly to life in London. February brought Emma’s second birthday celebration and the little blonde girl was showered with gifts from all of the new people in her life that loved and adored her. Madi visited whenever she could and by the end of winter Pansy was trying to convince her friend to relocate across the pond. In the months that had followed the St. Mungo’s benefit, Pansy had worked hard to embrace the freedom that Draco had conveyed to her through Blaise and most days she was too distracted by work or Emma’s energy to pay much attention to the hole in her heart.

When the weather started changing again and the warm breezes started blowing around London, Emma caught a cold. Pansy of course was frantic every time the little girl sniffled and rushed her right over to St. Mungo’s to see Harry. After hours of tests and Emma’s condition rapidly deteriorating, Harry finally came into the room and sat down in a chair across from Pansy.

“The treatment has stopped working. Every month her blood counts have been improving, but for whatever reason the progress is being reversed. I have enlisted the help of a colleague because I do not want to take any chances…” Harry reached over and took Pansy’s hand, “I promised you that I would not rest until Emma was a healthy little girl. I swear to you that I will find a better solution, Pansy.”

She reached up with her free hand and dried her eyes, “I know that…I just don’t understand why things can only be happy for so long and then we find ourselves right back at the beginning of another test.”

“Is Blaise on his way?”

“Blaise is in Ireland for a Quidditch conference,” she ran her fingers through her hair and looked over at Emma quickly before returning to the sadness in Harry’s eyes, “We’ll be all right here. I don’t want to worry him and he’ll be home in a few days so…just let me know as soon as you find out anything….good or…” Pansy’s tears increased and she could not choke out her last word so she stood and rushed from Emma’s room.

Harry followed quickly after Pansy and found her facing the wall sobbing. He stepped behind her and turned her around; she buried her face in his shoulder and he held her tightly against him until she stopped crying.

Once Pansy had calmed she returned to Emma’s bed side; she watched her sleep for hours then suddenly pulled a piece of parchment and a quill from her bag and started writing frantically.

26 February 2003


I have no idea how this correspondence will be received by you, but I hope you continue reading. There is something selfish, almost cruel about me contacting you at all, but I need you. You promised that you would always be here for me and I need you now more than ever.

I am in London and await your return.


Pansy sent the owl to Draco; and weeks later there was still no response. She had little time to focus on the pain of his refusal to help her however as she spent every minute with Emma at St. Mungo’s. By the first of March, Harry had finally come up with a successful treatment and Emma once again started making a recovery. As the little girl continued showing improvement Pansy’s focus started shifting and the idea that when she needed Draco he did not come began sinking in. The realization that enough distance had developed between them, that he was capable of resisting her even in a time of need was devastating. She decided that once Emma was released they would go back to America; and she could not be released soon enough.

Weeks in St. Mungo’s took its toll on Pansy and she was anxious and exhausted most of the time. Blaise, Harry and Ginny constantly offered to stay with Emma so that Pansy could at least take a walk or go home and change her clothes, but the mother refused to leave her daughter’s side. Finally, Blaise descended on Pansy and made her leave for no less than thirty minutes at least every day. She protested, but eventually conceded. Each day she would wait for Emma to fall asleep, lean over and kiss her head then whisper, “I love you,” before walking out of the room.

By day three of the required break Pansy realized that the time was more of a punishment than a relief. At least when she was doting on Emma she was distracted from the fear and anguish that otherwise filled her mind. After twenty minutes of sitting outside the abandoned department store watching the Muggles pass and thinking of Draco, Pansy walked mindlessly back inside and started her sluggish ascent through the hospital corridors. As she navigated the familiar path back to Emma’s room Pansy battled over contacting Draco again and this time just telling him everything. Emma was hopefully going to be released soon and Pansy started rationalizing that at that time maybe she should go home and face her demons. She ran her fingers through her hair and sighed as she rounded the corner and found Blaise outside Emma’s door speaking with a Healer. The expression on her best friend’s face was enough to tell her something was very wrong and her pace turned to a sprint down the seemingly endless hallway.

“What has happened? Is Emma all right?” Pansy reached for the doorknob, but suddenly felt herself being guided backwards and instinctively she pulled away. She started for the door again and when Blaise grabbed her arms more forcefully she turned and hissed, “What is wrong with you? I want to see my daughter –”

“Pans…I am so sorry…it was so…sudden and there was nothing that the Healers could do. Harry had not even arrived and…” He softened his hold on her arms, “Pans, I am so –”

“You told me it was all right to leave. You told me that everything would be fine and I needed to go and get some fresh air; that I could run out and come back and everything would be fine and…what are you telling me, Blaise?” Pansy pulled away and stood like a statue in front of him awaiting his response. Her mind started travelling down a path of the worst possible way he could respond to her question, but she refused to believe that even the universe could be so cruel.

Tears rolled down Blaise’s face and he moved closer and tried to pull her to him, “I’m sorry, Pansy, but she is gone.”

“What do you mean…gone? I was away for less than thirty minutes, Blaise, what do you mean gone?” Pansy’s tone was a mixture of fury and delusion; she felt her legs faltering beneath her and reached out for Blaise’s arms. “I want to see her! There must be something they can do…where is Harry –”

“Sweetheart, I am so sorry, but you know that there is no power in the magical world that can bring anyone back from the dead, it’s just not possible –”

“NOT POSSIBLE?” Pansy pulled away from Blaise’s tight hold and continued screaming at him, “THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE! I LOST MY FAMILY! I LOST DRACO! SHE WAS ALL I HAD…” She finally paused and gasped for a deep breath and as her tears unleashed she collapsed to her knees, “She was the only thing I had left of him, Blaise. She loved me, completely and unfailingly…she was mine and I was hers. I was supposed to protect her and I wasn’t even…here…” In a wave of anger Pansy pulled at her hair and released a scream that quickly turned into uncontrollable sobs.

Blaise held tight to Pansy, knowing there was no way to console her, but refusing to let her go. After nearly an hour on the floor of the hallway outside Emma’s room Pansy had finally calmed. She looked up at Blaise and took a deep breath, “May I see her now?”

“Of course,” he stood and helped her up. He did not let go of her as they walked to the door and into the room where the little girl lay completely still on the bed. Pansy immediately pulled free from Blaise and her hysterics returned.

He stood back as Pansy sat on the bed and pulled the lifeless little girl into her arms. Pansy rocked Emma for hours before looking up at Blaise and whispering, “I did this to her, you know. This is entirely my fault.” Blaise started to respond, but Pansy interrupted, “Can you leave us alone…please…for a little while.”

“I’ll be right outside.” He paused for a long time and watched Pansy unravel. There was no way to help her so he did what she asked and left the room.

The sun rose on the next day before anyone dared to enter Emma’s room. When Harry finally walked in he found Pansy sitting in the same position she was the day before; on the bed, holding Emma and whispering to her. He approached slowly and sat next to them, “Pansy… would you like to discuss arrangements now?”

She looked up at him as if she was confused by the question and responded mindlessly, “For what?”

Harry paused and examined the anguish on her face; he fought back his own tears as he responded quietly, “Arrangements for Emma.”

Pansy continued to stroke the little girl’s hair as she looked back at Harry, “You can’t take her, Harry. I can’t let you take her. I realize that you owe me nothing; that I have been the recipient of your compassion and your tolerance because you took an oath and because you really are the wonderful person everyone said you were but… Please don’t take her from me, Harry…please don’t make me let her go because I can’t let her go.”

“I would move heaven and earth if I could bring her back to you, Pansy, but…” Harry trailed off and moved closer to her on the bed, “I am so very sorry that I can do no more now than I was able to do yesterday and –”

“Don’t…” Pansy looked up and watched the tears falling down Harry’s face, “Please do not apologize, Harry, because I know that you did everything that you could for Emma.” She paused and took a deep breath, “And I know that arrangements must be made…when will they…take her?”

“There are mediwitchs outside whenever you are ready.” Harry’s voice was quiet and on the verge of cracking.

“Will you stay with me?”

Harry stood and kissed the top of Pansy’s head, “Of course. I will go and tell the nurses and then I will be right back.”

When the door shut Pansy kissed Emma’s cold forehead, unable to even feel the tears rolling down her face, she spoke softly, “I was thinking about that really pretty dress that Mrs. Weasley made you for spring…that you haven’t worn yet because we were saving it for when your Daddy came…because I promise I was finally ready to tell him everything…” She put her head back on the pillow and willed herself to either keep it together or to simply suffocate under the weight of the worst pain she had ever felt. After a few quiet minutes, knowing she was running out of time she continued, “I think that I will have Blaise bring that dress for you then…and the green bows for your hair. And since I know if you would have had any other mother, thereby having a chance at the brilliant life, I know you would have been in Slytherin, so I want you to have my pendant. I’m sorry that I was your mother, Emma…and I’m sorry that I couldn’t do better and that I made it impossible for you to have a stable family…that you never knew how incredible your father was or how much he would have loved and spoiled you every minute of every day. I’m sorry that I wasn’t here when you needed me most, but I pray you knew how much I love you and how much you changed my entire world…”

Harry opened the door and peaked inside, “Do you want more time?”

“I want another fifty years with her at least…” she trailed off and tried to move her arms to let Emma go and stand, but she was paralyzed. There was no way she would survive the next minute let alone the days to come and when the door opened again and two nurses walked inside tears flooded down Pansy’s face. She pulled Emma close to her and hugged her tight; eventually she whispered, “I hope to see you again very soon, my love,” then placed the little girl gently against the pillows.

When Pansy finally stood from the bed Harry was right there to support her. She was shaking violently which caused a sharp ache to resonate throughout her entire body; and she wished to just pass out because there was no way to brace herself for the minute that Emma was finally taken from her. As the nurses gently moved the little girl from the bed Pansy broke free from Harry’s supportive arms around her. She was unsure why she moved, where she intended to go, how she could escape the feeling that she was finally dying inside. As they started to pull a blanket over Emma, Pansy turned to look at Harry, “I need you to take me out of here, please…now…please…”

He wrapped his arms around her and led her out the door, but they made it no further than the bench outside when Pansy’s pulled away from Harry abruptly, blurted that she was about to be sick, and took off in a sprint down the corridor. When she finally emerged, calmer but eerily so, Blaise was waiting for her just outside the door. The minute her eyes met his and saw the tears rolling down his cheeks her own tears returned. She walked quietly over to him and wrapped her arms around his waist so tightly she could barely feel them, “I want to die, Blaise. I can not do this; I feel irrational and evil and rebellious and empty and I just want to die.”

“Don’t say that –”

She pulled away and looked at him; her voice quiet and calm, “I’m already dead inside…so what then is the point?” Pansy’s looked up at Blaise and searched his eyes for answers or comfort, and she had never seen his face so worn with despair or sadness. Watching Blaise lose Emma was more than she could bear so she returned her arms to his waist and her head to his chest.

There were no words to comfort Pansy and no way to imagine that the pain of losing Emma would ever fade. Blaise held her for a long time and when she pulled away again he reached down and wiped the still falling tears from her face, “I have no idea what to say to you, but I want you to know that I will never forgive myself for telling you to leave…”

Pansy looked up when Blaise trailed off, “This is not your fault, Love… everything you do is because you love us…more than anyone else in the world, I imagine. You were with her…and whether or not we trained her to call any ferret she saw daddy I hope you know that you filled that role for her. Better than anyone else could have. You really have been the only stable thing in my life, Blaise, and I know that I say thank you, but I hope that you truly understand how much your protection and loyalty and companionship have changed my life. If anyone feels this loss with me it is you.”

He pulled her into a tight hug and his tears turned to sobs and whispered apologies. Eventually Blaise led Pansy back to Emma’s room to rest while they waited for Harry; but when she walked over to the bed and picked up Emma’s stuffed animal the whirlwind of emotions resurfaced for both of them and continued into the days to come.

Emma was buried two days later in a small cemetery in America where she and Pansy lived. Harry had made contact with Madi and coordinated all of the details and as requested by Pansy, Emma wore the green and white floral print dress Mrs. Weasley had made, her hair was tied in her favorite green bows, Pansy’s Slytherin pendant was around her neck and the infamous stuffed ferret was sitting beside her. Pansy chose not to see Emma again after the day she was taken from her room at St. Mungo’s, but Blaise assured her that every instruction was followed. Pansy was warmed by the idea that not only had Harry and Ginny made the trip, but all of the Weasleys, including Hermione were also in attendance. After a brief ceremony that Harry conducted everyone paid their silent respects and left Pansy and Blaise looking down at the small headstone; Emma Rose Parkinson, Our magical daughter, February 8, 2001 – March 16, 2003.

Blaise searched for Pansy’s hand and squeezed it tight, “I have absolutely no idea how, but we are going to get through this.”

“I know…” she closed her eyes and felt tears start to fall again, but paid them no attention. “It will be tricky though because I don’t know about you, but I just want to go with her. She was the very best of me, of all of us actually…and now she’s gone…so where does that really leave us?”

“Together,” he paused to wipe the tears streaming down Pansy’s face then continued quietly, “You have lost so much, but you still have me, and I will be whatever you need me to be in order to get you through this.”

Pansy stared into his dark pained eyes for a long time then brushed her hand gently down the side of his face, “Why couldn’t I have just fallen in love with you instead?”

“I ask myself that question every day,” he smiled sadly and kissed her head, “You love me now and that is enough; and the small part of your heart I hold will be working hard to help the rest heal.”

She took his hands and kissed them, “I do love you.”

“I love you too.” He pulled her into a tight embrace and after a few more minutes of goodbyes they joined everyone at Madi’s diner for a small reception.

Pansy tried to hold protectively onto Emma, but the little blonde haired girl pulled her hand free and took off running.

“Daddy!” Emma threw herself into Draco’s arms and held his face in between her hands, “Love you.”

Draco hugged her as tight as he could; the biggest smile beamed on his face, “I love you too, Princess. Did you and your mum have a good day today?”

Pansy approached with a huge smile of her own, “We had a brilliant time, but she really missed her daddy.”

Suddenly Draco looked up at Pansy and started to back away. His expression was cold and his tone angry, “Then why did you keep her from me?”

Pansy willed herself to wake from the nightmare and finally sat up in bed. Tears started falling immediately and she wrapped her arms around herself tightly; the realization that her baby was gone filtering back into her mind. She lay back down and curled up, gripping tight to Emma’s blanket. She cried herself to sleep and the nightmare started all over again.

Blaise stayed with Pansy in America for a week following Emma’s burial. Most times Pansy could be found sitting beside Emma’s fresh grave talking to her for hours and hours about anything that came to mind. At the end of the week Blaise and Pansy took a port key back to London and Madi promised to follow for a visit as soon as she could. She also promised to make a daily trip to visit Emma in Pansy’s absence.

Pansy was consumed by the weight of her loss the minute they arrived back in London and for the first five days she refused to get out of bed; the first three of these days Blaise stayed with her around the clock. As days turned into a week Blaise started trying to encourage Pansy to at least eat, but she could not have even if she wanted to. Not since her last few days in the vigilante shelter had she felt anything that resembled the helplessness crushing her with every attempted movement. There was no end in sight, no light at the end of the tunnel, and even her dreams were plagued with endless punishments; still sleeping and crying remained the extent of her motivation.

By the end of the third week Pansy’s anguish took the form of agitation and she dreaded the sound of her door opening and Blaise encouraging her to do yet another thing she could not do, such as eat, move or think about going outside. When she heard the door open behind her she closed her eyes hoping that he would think she was asleep and go away, but a new voice filled the room.

“Pansy…are you awake?”

The dark haired girl sat up quickly at the sound of the familiar voice, “Ginny? What are you doing here?”

The redhead walked over and sat on the bed next to Pansy, “Harry and I are worried about you…and my mum cooked a bunch of food for you and Blaise so I brought that with me too. Harry is in the living room…he fears that you have come to the conclusion that he is to blame and –”

“Not at all!” Pansy ran her fingers through her hair and winced at the pain moving caused. “I know that Harry did everything he could.” She stood from the bed and put on a robe, “I will go out there; ease Harry’s fears and make Blaise happy because he has been trying to get me out of bed for weeks now.”

Ginny smiled sadly and pulled Pansy into a hug, “I wish there was something I could do for you.”

Tears fell down Pansy’s face, but she was accustomed to it and did not bother to dry them. She held tight to her good yet unexpected friend, “You’ve done more for me than you know, Ginny…and something tells me I will need your help again in the near future.” Pansy pulled away and smiled, “Now…let’s go make the boys feel better.”

Blaise and Harry were on their feet ready to assist the minute Pansy came into sight and she chuckled at the attention as she sat down on the sofa. Harry slid an ottoman over for her feet and Blaise was present with a cup of tea before she was even adjusted in her seat, “Should I be worried that something else has gone wrong or are you all afraid I’m ready to snap? I assure you I have already snapped and believe this is the worst of it so…at ease.”

Harry sat with Ginny on the overstuffed love seat across from Pansy and Blaise sat down next to her. He put his arm gently around her and kissed the side of her head, “Just happy to see you up and about, Love. I’ve been really worried.”

“And we’ve been really worried as well…thought maybe we could encourage you to come and have dinner with us this evening.” Harry smiled, but the sadness and concern in his eyes were a give away that something else was wrong.

Pansy took a deep breath and searched for Blaise’s hand, “I could be persuaded to go and eat; but why don’t we talk about whatever is on your mind first so that it doesn’t ruin dinner.” Pansy smiled sadly at Harry and encouraged him with her eye contact that she could handle whatever truth he was withholding.

Harry smiled sadly, “I’m just worried about you, Pans…”

Whether or not she interpreted correctly or not, Harry’s eye contact told Pansy that he needed to speak with her in private and to move forward to that point she stood quickly, “Well then…let me shower and change and I will let you all take me out in public and feed me.” She smiled down at Blaise and rushed off to her room.

Whatever is wrong…it must be really bad.

The foursome had dinner at a Muggle pub in downtown London and after a few drinks Ginny asked Blaise for a dance leaving Harry and Pansy at the table alone. She took a long drink of her wine and sat back in the booth, “So we’re alone now…go ahead.”

Harry downed the glass of whiskey in his hand and moved close to Pansy, “As promised, I did not stop researching the blood samples that I took from you and from Emma and the other day I found something new. Either the potion description we received from the Ministry was written incorrectly or somewhere along the line you were slipped another potion because the problem is two colliding ingredients, Quassia and Valerian. There was Quassia in the vigilante potion; it’s used in control and domination potions, but the Valerian was not on the list…are you sure you did not use Valerian in your potion?”

“I don’t even know what it is,” Pansy took a deep breath and considered the many possible ways she could have ingested whatever Harry was talking about. Her thoughts were interrupted when Harry cleared his throat and continued.

“Valerian root is traditionally a dark magic ingredient. Generally speaking, it is used for raising demonic spirits or pact making spells…but in this case, the interaction with the Quassia caused an infection that attacked the blood stream. The Valerian set the infection in motion and if you did not use it yourself then that may have been its only purpose.”

Pansy took a deep breath and as her mind wandered she could not help but chuckle bitterly at the dilemma. “So you think I was poisoned? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. I’m sure whoever provided the vigilante potion left off one of the colliding ingredients…just to make me suffer.” Pansy finished her drink and poured herself another glass of wine. She swore she would not cry and could handle whatever Harry was going to say; even if she had to be drunk to manage it.

“These two ingredients, the reaction they had to each other; if they had entered your system together it would have killed you on the spot. You had to come in contact with them at separate times and –”

“Come in contact with…are you saying this may have been something other than a drink?” Pansy was confused, as she usually was with potions; she held her hands together to stop them from shaking as she waited for Harry’s response.


“Brilliant,” Pansy downed her glass of wine and poured another. After a long drink she smiled at Harry, “Well at least you figured it out and now I release you from any further investigation,” She finished another glass then continued, “Because let’s face it, anyone could have slipped me something…Lucius, Riley…anyone who walked into The Cupboard. I assume it did not have to be something I ingested before I was pregnant because Emma would have been susceptible to anything in my system during those months and…it doesn’t matter anymore anyway because nothing we find out about how it happened will bring her back.” Pansy poured herself yet another glass, but opted to sip since her head was already spinning.

Harry poured himself another glass as well and took a long drink before looking over at her, “I can’t stop because –”

“Come on, Harry…I get that you’re noble and dedicated, but…if anyone did this it was Lucius Malfoy and if the why and the how can not bring my daughter back then there is no point in your wasting anymore time –”

Harry downed his drink and interrupted Pansy by slamming his glass on the table, “If I do not find a way to cure this, you will die too.” He paused and watched the color fade from Pansy’s face, “You may be willing to give up, but I’m not.”

“That’s why you didn’t want to speak in front of Blaise. I appreciate your discretion, Harry.” Pansy finished off another glass and poured until she finished the bottle, “And for the record, I’m not giving up, but if I did, could you honestly blame me?” She drank her wine, set her glass on the table then ran her fingers through her hair.

“I have been making inquiries within the Ministry for weeks and will continue to do so until I have figured out a way to cure this, Pansy.” Harry pulled her into a long hug and smiled when they separated, “I know a little something about losing people that you love; and I’ve grown quite used to having you around so you’ll not be getting away without a fight. Not to mention, Blaise would be lost without you; and Ginny is determined that someday you and Blaise are going to fall in love and I’m not used to denying her wishes so…”

“Blaise and I falling in love, eh?” Pansy blushed and looked down quickly. She knew Harry was staring at her and finally looked back up, “What?”

“He’s a great guy, Pans, and you two obviously love each other already. I tend to agree with Ginny that you are just avoiding the inevitable.”

Pansy blushed and smiled when Blaise and Ginny returned to the table. Blaise sat and looked with concern at Pansy’s expression, “Are you all right? Do you want to go or –”

She interrupted him by holding her hand out and smiling, “I want you to ask me to dance.”

Without hesitation he stood back up and took her hand, “Ms. Parkinson, may I have this dance?”

“I thought you might never ask, Mr. Zabini,” Pansy squeezed his hand and stood quickly. They walked out to the middle of the dance floor; the music slowed and Pansy placed her hands around Blaise’s neck as his arms slid around her waist. She rested her head on his shoulder and tried to shut off her mind. He loves me. It radiates from him every time we are this close and it makes me feel sane and calm and better over all; maybe its just time to let this happen…before it’s too late.

Pansy finally realized how drunk she was on the way back home. She was feeling no pain and paying little attention to any inhibitions whatsoever. For whatever reason, when faced with the possibility of her untimely death, Pansy was starting to have inappropriate thoughts about Blaise, and once the Potters went on their own way, her intentions intensified. By the time she reached the flat her sense of control was wavering and she started rushing for her room the minute they were in the door.

Blaise chuckled at Pansy’s urgency and stopped her before she shut the door, “Are you all right? You’re not feeling sick are you?”

She held tight to the door and smiled awkwardly, trying desperately not to undress him with her eyes, “No, I’m…fine…tired is all. I haven’t left the house in weeks and we were gone for hours…and I had a lot to drink, which is why I’m thinking…acting crazy so…I’m just going to bed and –”

“Do you want me to tuck you –”

“No…I know you’re not ready for bed yet so…I’ll just see you in the morning.” Pansy smiled and tried to move into her room when Blaise approached and kissed her gently.

“Good night, Love…sweet dreams.” He smiled and walked toward his own room without waiting for a response.

Pansy sighed and walked into her room, right to her bed and opened her journal.

3 April 2003

Where to begin? I’m a bit drunk. I miss Emma more than I can express in words. Harry told me tonight that it wasn’t a blood disorder that killed Emma it was an infection; caused by two “colliding” ingredients called Quassia and Valerian. The Quassia came from the potion I was given at the shelter and the Valerian was slipped to me somewhere else along the way. In any event Harry is forced to continue working on this mystery because otherwise I will die. All of this has made me irrationally want to go into Blaise’s room and tear all his clothes off. I was better off staying in bed.

If I still feel the same way about Blaise in the morning, when I’m sober…well I don’t know what I’ll do. Maybe I should do nothing except stop fighting it. Blaise has been my constant and nothing has ever been able to come in the way of that. He has shared everything with me and…I know it is not the wine talking when I say that I want to share everything, including myself with him.

But for now I think I should go to bed…not react out of grief or fear or intoxication and just see what signs the morning gives me.

Pansy woke the next morning with a screaming headache and looked over with annoyance at the owl that had flown through the window and landed on her bed. She reached over to untie the parchment attached to the bird’s leg and shooed it back out the window. She pulled the black ribbon wrapped around the scroll and her heart started to race when she turned it over and saw the Malfoy crest embossed regally. She tore the scroll open and tears instantly began falling down her face.

4 April 2003

Ms. Parkinson,

I have recently become aware of your tragic loss and extend my deepest sympathy. If you will recall, however, I told you right from the beginning that I would not tolerate a bastard heir. You called my bluff, Pansy, in that I would never actually harm my own son, but any children you and Draco conceived together would not be privy to such protections and as a result, Emma paid the ultimate price for your rebellion. Not unlike your parents, if I recall correctly.

Fortunately, I was able to intercept your owl to Draco in February. Naturally, I sent him and Astoria away on holiday and investigated the nature of your pleas for assistance myself. Testing my patience by trying to contact him was a mistake and I wonder how much more specific I need be with you, Ms. Parkinson.

Your boyfriend Harry Potter has been doing extensive research of his own. I believe he is looking to cure the blood infection you have been plagued with; the same infection that killed darling little Emma. He is searching for a way to break the connection between the Quassia and the Valerian, correct? I’m afraid however, even the chosen one may not be able to save you this time.

The amazing thing is that you put this whole disaster in motion. You may blame me all you want, but I can assure you here and now that I did not give you the Valerian that caused the infection and killed your daughter…I gave it to Draco. You encountered it by continuing a relationship with him that I advised you was not wise and sentenced your child to death the day she was conceived. If you were to tell him of this it would destroy him; not to mention he would hate you for denying him his daughter for whatever short amount of time they would have had.

I certainly hope you have been following along, Ms. Parkinson, because there are new rules which I would advise you to respect this time; you’ve not many people left to lose and I’ve never really cared for Mr. Zabini, so I assure you it would be my pleasure. Stop Harry Potter from any further investigations. If you chose to let him try and save your worthless life, that is your decision, but if he determines in any way my involvement in any of this then Blaise will be with Emma faster than you can say I’m sorry.

My advice…go further away than London this time; if you can not control yourself then disappear. The life expectancy of the three people you have left depends on your ability to follow these instructions. Perhaps you will stop challenging me now.

The parchment slipped from Pansy’s hands onto the bed. She looked down at it then over at her journal where she recalled the professions from the night before. Its morning and the first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning was rushing into Blaise’s room and telling him everything I was feeling. And then I received my sign…thank you Lucius Malfoy for showing me my destiny.

She got out of bed, went to her closet and pulled the first two appropriate articles of clothing she could find from their hangers. Within minutes she was dressed and in the living room where she found Blaise drinking tea and reading The Daily Prophet. He looked up and smiled brightly, “You’re up and dressed? I didn’t even think you were awake yet. Do you want some tea or –”

“Actually…I need to go and see Harry. He mentioned some opportunities to volunteer at St. Mungo’s and I thought that might be good for me…especially since you’re going back to work tomorrow so… He said I could stop by this morning and I’m going to do that.” She forced the most convincing smile she had and kissed his head as she passed. Dear God you smell good…even in the morning.

Blaise turned, surprised by her urgency, “Do you want to wait a few minutes and I’ll come with you?”

“No…stay and enjoy your Sunday. I’ll be back soon and we can go have lunch or something.” She smiled again quickly, blew Blaise a kiss and walked out the door. Once outside she collapsed back against the wall and took a deep breath. There was no time for tears however, she had instructions to follow.

Pansy smiled when Harry’s office door opened, “Do you have a minute?”

“Of course…come in,” Harry opened the door and sat in the chair next to Pansy, “What can I do for you?”

“That is truly amazing, Harry, that you are always ready to help no matter what.” Pansy took a deep breath and looked down for a quick pause before locking back onto his eyes and continuing quietly, “I need you to promise that you will hear me out and do whatever I ask you to do.”

Harry chuckled quietly, “That’s a tall order, but I will do my best. What is it?”

“I need you to promise me that you will stop looking into the way Emma and I got sick. If you want to continue looking for a cure, brilliant, but the how and the why are off limits from now on.” Pansy searched for Harry’s understanding in his confused and surprised expression, but the silence between them grew while waiting for his response and she blurted mindlessly, “Harry, please,” tears fell quickly and she looked down, “I am not asking that you let me die; I am just asking that you only work on a cure and not –”

“What happened? Did you find something out or did someone threaten you –”

She shifted uncomfortably in her seat and looked up at him pleadingly, “Harry, I am begging you to just trust me. This is difficult considering I’m not even done with my request.” When Harry did not respond she continued quietly, “I also need you to promise me that you will support my decision to leave for a while…and that you will take care of Blaise while I’m gone. I know that one of you must know where I will be, and I’m going to trust you with this information, but you can not tell Blaise.”

Harry took Pansy’s hands and waited until she looked up at him, “Blaise and I are more than capable of dealing with whatever has thrown you into such a panic. You do not have to run away; all you have to do is tell me –”

“The people I love are always taken from me, Harry! I can not tell you anymore than I have just told you, but I am begging you to help me. I can not lose any of you and if that means I have to leave for a while then I will do whatever is necessary, but I can not do this alone.” Her tears increased and she squeezed Harry’s hands, “Please, help me…please do as I ask and repress your questions as to my motives…please.”

He looked into her eyes and would have done anything to ease the pain that reflected back at him. “Whatever you want, Pansy,” he pulled her into a long hug and whispered, “I will keep your secrets and shift all of my energy to finding a cure.” Harry finally pulled away and looked at her, “How will I administer it to you?”

“You will know how to find me, only you…not even Ginny…you will remain my secret keeper, though the location will have changed. Once you have found an antidote you can contact me…and I promise I will not be gone forever.” She reached up and wiped her face, “I have no idea where I will go…haven’t gotten that far, but I need to move quickly. I would like to leave tonight.”

“TONIGHT?” Harry softened his tone immediately and took Pansy’s hands again, “Blaise is not going to let you go this easily, Pansy. What do you plan to tell him?”

“I’ll take care of Blaise…and to keep the temptation low I am going to encourage him the same way I am encouraging you. Do not speak of this with each other. One of you will know where I am and the other will know why I am gone. Together you are informed, but putting the pieces together will be disastrous. The only way I know to keep you all safe is to give you complete disclosure collectively and some deniability at the same time.” She shook her head and acknowledged how mental her request was. She also considered the challenge of telling Blaise goodbye, but there was no other option. Finally she whispered to Harry, “I have your word then?”

“You have my word…and I will have a location for you within the hour. I will escort you and cast the charm. You had better go and speak with Blaise…and don’t even think about leaving without saying goodbye to Ginny. She will respect the secrecy, but she will not understand if you simply disappear.” Harry hugged Pansy once more tightly then walked her to the door. As she started down the corridor he blurted, “Was he worth it, Pansy? Malfoy…was he worth all this?”

Pansy stopped and turned as new tears fell down her face, “I’m not even sure anymore, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that this time…it’s not his fault.” She turned and walked away and once able she apparated back to the flat.

There was no good way to tell Blaise what she had decided to do so upon her arrival home she handed him the letter from Lucius and sat patiently as he read it. When he looked up with a stunned, angered and worried expression she responded quietly, “Before you say anything, I want you to hear me out.”

“If you are about to tell me that you are going to run in order to keep me and Potter and Ginny safe then there is nothing for me to hear because it is not happening.” Blaise stood and started pacing. When Pansy stood and put her hand on his arm to stop him he scooped her up into a hug, “You’re terrified of losing me so you can understand how I am feeling right now. You’re not running and if you plan to run then this time I am coming with you.”

She held tight to him and the feeling was familiar; knowing it might be the last time she would ever be so close to someone she loved and the overwhelming need to saturate herself with everything about them. She breathed deeply against his chest and pulled away enough to look up at him, “You can’t come with me; and although I know you are going to hate this next part too, I am not going to tell you where I’m going.”

“No bloody way.” Blaise released Pansy and continued his frantic pacing around the room.

“Harry has already agreed to be my secret keeper. He is working on a location as we speak and plans to take me tonight and cast the charm –”

“Tonight?” Blaise stopped pacing and walked back over to Pansy, “Are you trying to kill me?”

“If anyone asks…if Draco asks I do not want you to have to lie; and if Lucius comes after you I do not want you to have the knowledge of my location for him to extract,” she sat down on the sofa and ran her fingers through her hair.

“Not so confident in my Occlumency skills, eh?” He sat down next to her and smiled sadly as he brushed random hairs from her face, “I’m not afraid of Lucius Malfoy, Pans, and I will protect you from –”

Pansy interrupted by standing and started to shout, “I did not follow his instructions, to stay clear of Draco, and as a result he sentenced Emma to death the day she was conceived. He has taken everything else from me Blaise and I will not have him take you too. If I lose you, I will kill him or die trying.” She paused and took a deep breath, “So what will it be? Will you be reasonable and agree that past experience dictates I leave for a while? Or are you determined to be stubborn and prevent me from leaving, or worse confront Draco or Lucius about what I have told you, thereby getting yourself killed and risking that I either get myself killed or end up in Azkaban?”

“Do you understand what you are asking of me?” He ran his hands roughly over his face then dropped them to his sides and sighed heavily, “And are Harry and I just not supposed to speak while you’re gone?”

“He will not tell you my location and you will not tell him or anyone else why I left. The way I see it, once Harry stops looking into the cause of this infection, Lucius will calm; then once he has his precious heir, hopefully I will just drop off his radar. Then I can come back and we can figure out how we are going to move forward. And yes, I understand what I am asking of you, but I am begging that you will understand and agree that there is no other way.” She wrapped her arms tightly around him, “I love you so much, Blaise, and I’m sorry that this is the best I can ever offer you; chaos and devastation.”

Tears rolled down his face as he wrapped his arms around her, “You promise that you will come back? Can you promise that I am not about to lose you forever…because of bloody Malfoy?”

She buried her face in his chest and whispered, “I promise…I’ll be back before you can miss me.”

Blaise eventually let Pansy go and she started packing for her great disappearance. After putting together all of her things into one magical bag she could carry over her shoulder and writing a letter to Madi detailing only what was safe to tell, Pansy eventually walked back into the living room ready to go. She sat on the sofa and curled up next to Blaise. “I am going to miss you so much it hurts already.”

“Then why are you doing this?” Blaise pulled away and wiped his eyes, “Stay and let us help you.”

“Letting me leave is helping me,” she brushed Blaise’s face and kissed him gently, “And believing that I love you even though I will not tell you where I am going is also helping me.”

“I love you too which is why it is impossible for me to not care that you are running off to an undisclosed location,” he pulled her into another tight hug, “Promise me again that you are not about to do something mental.”

Pansy smiled sadly, “I promise,” she was startled by a knock at the door, and stood quickly to answer. Ginny pulled free from Harry and barreled through the door and threw her arms around Pansy before she could greet them.

“I don’t want you to go and I hate that I can not know anything about why.” Ginny pulled away and tried to smile at Pansy, but tears rolled down her face, “You are sure there is nothing else we can do to help you?”

“This is the only way,” she hugged Ginny tight, “I’m going to miss you, but like I told Blaise and Harry…I’ll be back.”

“You better!” Ginny let Pansy go and looked sadly at Blaise, “I guess it will be just you and me tonight.”

Blaise smiled slightly then pulled Pansy to him, “I’m not sure I can do this.”

“You promised,” Pansy hugged him as tightly as she could then pulled away enough to look up at him. “We have trusted each other’s instincts from the beginning…don’t stop now.”

Harry interrupted the moment quietly, “We have a portkey leaving in five minutes… just to let you know.”

Pansy looked back up at Blaise and pulled him into a long kiss. “I love you and I will see you sooner than you think, I promise.”

It was obvious that Blaise was beyond words. He kissed Pansy again then left the room before another word could be said. Ginny hugged Pansy once more then kissed Harry goodbye and went to check on Blaise. Harry took Pansy’s hand and whispered, “Are you ready?” She nodded and before she had time to change her mind they grabbed a hold of an umbrella Harry brought in and they disappeared from the flat.

5 April 2003

Harry left this morning to return to the magical world where everything I love is hopefully safe now that I am gone. I did as Lucius suggested and left London. I’m back in America, but this time I’m in some little nowhere farm town in the state of Ohio. From the looks of things this will be just another hell.

I lied…to everyone because I have no intention of staying here…and no intention of going back. Just like Draco moved on so will Blaise. If I go back I only subject him to more disaster. I have kept him from his life and I refuse to continue being a burden. I am considering waiting at least a few months before my grand disappearing act in case Harry finds an antidote quickly. If not than I have all the signs I need and gladly retreat to await the day when I see my little girl again.

My life is a train wreck and any hopes for happiness or peace are gone. Maybe I should just leave tonight and take my chances that if Lucius Malfoy doesn’t eventually kill me his infection will. Maybe I will do just that.

Pansy put her journal in her bag, pulled out her wand and thought of one place in the world she always wanted to go; in the next second she was gone from sight.
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