Letters From the Edge

Book Four - Dust to Dust

Draco lay back across the seats of the Hogwarts Express and his head rested gently in Pansy’s lap. The feel of her fingers dancing in his hair sent chills through his entire body; a reaction he battled to control and disguise as he attempted to focus on his assignment from the Dark Lord. The responsibilities for his upcoming year were immeasurable and failure would bring death, for himself and his family; a fact Draco was consumed with from the day he was chosen to execute the mission. So why now, at the precipice of his opportunity to prove himself, his chance finally to claim the praise and recognition he so desperately craved, was Draco trembling at Pansy’s touch? His mind was already a flurry of orders and instructions regarding his tasks, but suddenly he was flooded with distractions racing through his head.

I love her. I should tell her in case this does not work out the way I plan. Or maybe I should push her away to keep her safe in case I…fail. She’s deliciously wicked, but have I made her this way? I don’t want her anywhere near the Dark Lord…she’ll get in trouble… she’ll be hurt. I can’t hurt her anymore. How did this happen…and why now? I’m telling her that I love her as soon as we step off of this train. I have to…

The blond’s internal conversation was interrupted when Blaise entered their compartment and promptly fell into Gregory Goyle after an apparent malfunction with the sliding door. A ruckus ensued, but as the atmosphere calmed once more Draco laid his head back into Pansy’s lap, craving the return of her affections. His distraction was short lived however as his eyes followed a shoe, revealed from underneath an invisibility cloak, and travelling into the overhead luggage rack. Draco sniggered to himself and immediately started contemplating how he would deal with the eavesdropping St. Potter. It took all of his control not to laugh out loud at the plan developing in his mind.

Break Potter’s face, cover him with his precious invisibility cloak, and leave him on the train…they’ll find him in London eventually. I can tell Pansy I love her…and then back to my assignment.

Eventually Draco’s attention returned to the compartment and he interrupted the mindless noise, “So, Zabini…what did Slughorn want?”


16 June 2010

Why in the bloody hell am I dreaming about Pansy again? Shall I never be free of the temptations and allure of her? If she can not be with me then I think it is only fitting that she stays out of my head! And it is particularly cruel of my subconscious to take me back to that day…the day on the train…when I considered ordering everyone from the compartment so that I could tell her everything right then and there…but I never told her then…the closest I came…a letter I did not send before it was too late.

Draco slammed his book closed and ran his fingers coarsely through his hair. The dream was haunting for so many reasons and before he could stop himself the blond stood from his desk, went to the closet and started pulling out boxes containing everything that pertained to his days at Hogwarts. In a matter of minutes he pulled his sixth year book of parchment from a box, flipped to the back and removed a piece of worn parchment that he unfolded and read quietly.

17 June 1997

Pansy,

All term you have harassed me for details, reasons for my behavior, and I still can not comply with your request. I refuse to tell you anything specific, you will know soon enough, but I want to insure your safety and keeping you away from this situation is the only way I know to do that. Perhaps keeping you away from me in the beginning would have been the best course of action, but we can not go back. I have no idea what is going to happen tonight so there is something I must tell you; this is not how I hoped to do this, but time is short and now may be the only opportunity.

I love you, have loved you for years, realized it finally over the summer and it nearly consumed me. I planned to tell you the minute we stepped off the train at start of term, but Potter had to interfere; and then my responsibilities took priority and again the need to keep you from harm meant keeping you from what I had to do. Still I can not take the chance that this evening’s events will rob me of the opportunity to tell you that every day starts brilliantly with thoughts of you. They begin in my dreams which you have invaded for years. If tonight goes as planned I intend on making you wild promises of power and perfection and spending the rest of my life making sure you have everything you want and deserve. If I fail tonight I want you to know that I love nothing more in this world as much as I love you and I never will.

Please stay as close to Blaise as possible…no matter what happens he will always take care of you when I can not. I know that you have a tendency to react first and think later when you are scared so I implore you to let him protect you. DO NOT attempt to find me, help me, save me or in anyway interfere with what has to happen. Know that I act in order to save myself and my family; and with the intent to insure a future I intend on spending with you. Still, if the worst happens, know that I can never apologize enough for what you have endured at my side or the deplorable way I treated you most of the time. And of course, I’m sorry for the duration of time it took me to realize that you were the reason I was able to breathe in and out each day. I’m sorry that there was no better time to tell you and I’m sorry for what I have to do now. I pray that I will see your face again…but could die the luckiest man in the world because you loved me.

All my love in return,

Draco

The study door opened and pulled Draco out of his reminiscent state. He smiled up at Astoria as she approached and closed the book of parchment that contained the unsent letter from his past. “How was shopping?”

“Successful; I bought you enough clothes for the entire week and I think you will blend in brilliantly with the American Muggles.” Astoria laughed as Draco rolled his eyes. She hopped up on the desk in front of him and mindlessly ran her fingers over the closed book of parchment. “Are you more concerned about the Muggles or the American’s?”

“I’m not sure how to answer that question,” he smiled as he picked up his old journal and placed it in a desk drawer. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to join me?”

“I already told you that I would love to come to America with you, but I can not take any time away from the office right now. Besides Scorpius is at a tough age, especially with all the magical control issues he’s having. I don’t think its fair to either of our mothers to have to deal with that.” She leaned over and ran her fingers through Draco’s hair, “Of course if you would just allow Daphne –”

Draco grabbed Astoria’s hand and pulled her over to his lap. He wrapped his arms around her and chuckled quietly, “I realize she is your sister, and I think I have done well dealing with the circumstance in question, but Scorpius will not be spending a week at the Wood residence. The last thing I need is my child becoming attached to a Gryffindor.” I already lost Pans to Potter.

“Is something else wrong? You seem awfully worked up about something.” Astoria smiled supportively at Draco and waited with focused attention for his response.

“Aren’t American Muggles for a week enough to have me on edge?” Draco forced a laugh, kissed Astoria and guided her off of his lap so he could stand.

She watched Draco start mindlessly pacing around the study and after a few silent moments she broke the silence, “Could it have anything to do with what tomorrow is?”

Draco knew the anniversary that Astoria referred to; he paused, hoping she may see his discomfort with the conversation and change the subject. After an awkward silence he sighed and blurted mindlessly, “Might you be referring to the anniversary of my mission from the Dark Lord? Thirteen years later and the events of that night are as prominent in my mind as if they happened yesterday.”

Astoria quickly went to Draco. She reached up and brushed his face gently, “You are such a different person now. Did you ever imagine then that someday you would be married with a family?”

To Pansy…with Pansy…I imagined it a lot that year. He fought for focus, to repress the inner workings of his torturous mind, and finally he leaned down to kiss her, “I certainly never imagined I would be married to you. You were afraid of me then if I recall.”

“It was more respect than fear; you were older and obviously important. I was more terrified of your entourage than anything else.” Astoria giggled and hugged Draco tight, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

He kissed her head “It will pass…it always does. So let’s go see what you purchased this morning.”

With great excitement Astoria took Draco’s hand and pulled him down to the bedroom for an item by item presentation of her purchases.


17 June 2010

I have been in America for five hours. I hate it here and I want to go home. There are no secluded magical communities here. The wizards just mingle with the Muggles. Unfortunately my other option of assignment was equally as grim...some security enhancements detail at Hogwarts. I think the last place I need to be, considering the historical significance of today especially, is Hogwarts. Its bad enough I dreamed about Pansy again on the plane. As if the plane ride was not sufficiently disturbing. I hate assignments that do not allow me to portkey because I have to try and “blend in.” I hate America! At least it’s only a week.

The hotel is acceptable, but I have exhausted my distractions and although apprehensive, I think I may have to go out and see what there is to do. I need a drink, but not here in my room alone because that is pathetic. I would rather go out and find someplace public…to drink alone. Why am I so bloody nervous here? I’ve been to America before…though never alone. I’m actually excited to be here without a partner this time, but… I can not get over all of the Muggles…they are every where…no escape…except at the office and I do not wish to go there either.

When we were younger, Pans used to talk about wanting to visit here…anywhere in America…did not matter. I used to give her a hard time, obviously because I did not understand the interest; she would dart me this adorably evil look every time.

How did Pansy get back inside my head? It’s because of the day…has to be…thirteen years later and she’s still distracting me from what I’m supposed to be doing…

Draco shut his book and rested his head against the high-backed chair. He looked out the window at the Chicago skyline and rolled his eyes before standing and changing his clothes. He collected his wand and his Muggle money and headed to the lifts then through the lobby and out to the busy city streets where he mindlessly chose a direction and started walking. If he was going to mingle with Muggles then his choice in location was of great importance. Somewhere quiet and out of the way would be required to match his brooding mood.

After canvassing a few city blocks Draco wandered down an alley way toward a flashing Open sign in the distance attached to a small hole in the wall pub called The Piasa. He moved forward with speed and the minute he walked inside he breathed a sigh of relief. If it has to be a Muggle pub this will do. He looked around the dimly lit room; floor to ceiling oak furnishings and comfortable seating with blues coming from a jukebox in the corner. It was quaint and more impressive than it looked from the outside so the blond walked over to a booth and took a seat. He looked at a menu to familiarize himself with Muggle drinks and tried to act casual as the waitress approached the table.

A pretty young redheaded woman walked up and smiled, “Hi there…welcome to The Piasa. You must be new in town.”

Draco seemed somewhat startled by the observation and blurted, “Are you saying that I stand out?”

The waitress giggled and focused as if taking in every inch of his appearance. Finally she responded with a laugh, “You sure do, though not in a bad way at all. I was merely commenting because I’ve never seen you before and The Piasa is usually all regulars. You are a pleasant change. In any event welcome…what can I get you?”

The blond instantly calmed and was even flattered by the round about compliment from a pretty stranger. He smiled at the red haired woman and continued with his renewed confidence, “A whiskey…and the story of how the pub was named. Piasa; what is that?”

“You’d have to ask the owner about her specific reasons for choosing it, but The Piasa is a myth that originated in North America about a man eating creature that lived in the Mississippi River. It had the body of a dragon, a man’s head, but with a lion’s mane and its tail was twice the length of a person…snake like.” The waitress giggled, “Like I said, I’m not sure why she chose it, but it sounds pretty cool and it is entertaining to see people get that same glazed over expression when they hear the story.”

Draco’s eyebrow arched and he chuckled softly, “Right, because who really believes in dragon’s anyway.” Silly Muggles always fascinated with things you could never comprehend to be real.

The redhead smiled again, “I’ll be right back with that whiskey.”

“Make it a double please…what’s your name?”

The waitress turned and smiled, “Colleen.”

“Thank you, Colleen,” Draco smiled as the waitress walked away and fought with all his control not to roll his eyes. A pub named after a dragon…no wonder I’m so comfortable here.

He finished his drink within seconds of it hitting the table and instructed the waitress to keep them coming. After several whiskey doubles he reached into his pocket, pulled out the letter written during his dreaded sixth year to Pansy and read until his eyes blurred. In the wee hours of morning when the pub was finally ready to close Draco stumbled out the door and once clear of onlookers he disapparated from sight.


Surprisingly Draco felt refreshed and completely focused when he woke the next morning. He arrived at the office before dawn and made excellent progress with his case; so much that it appeared his trip would be even shorter than expected. After dinner with several of the American detectives Draco returned to his hotel and contemplated how to fill the rest of the time before going to bed and starting all over again the next day.

He missed Astoria and Scorpius terribly and the worst part about being in America was the inability to communicate easily. international owls were traditionally slow. After pacing for what seemed like forever Draco eventually sat down and turned on the television; he was disinterested in figuring out how it worked so he left the first picture that appeared. Twenty five minutes later he turned it off and threw the remote control on the bed while ranting to himself, “Not very spectacular witches if they only have one real power a piece. And that’s what the Muggle world considers charmed ones?”

He rolled his eyes and lay back against the pillows. It had been a brilliant day, but being alone in a strange city, far from home and completely bored was wearing on Draco’s patience. Suddenly he sat up as if a light bulb illuminated in his brain; he changed his clothes and rushed out of the hotel.

Once tucked in the same booth at The Piasa as the night before Draco breathed a sigh of relief; and was only moderately irritated with himself for not considering it before subjecting himself to Muggle entertainment. He looked over the menu, waiting patiently to be greeted, and secretly hoping it was the same spunky waitress from the night before who for whatever reason made him very comfortable despite the fact that she was non-magical.

A few more minutes passed and Draco continued to focus on the drink list. He finally felt someone approaching the table and in an effort to be coy he did not remove his eyes from the menu. When Draco felt the waitress draw nearer he felt his stomach suddenly tightened with excitement. Draco Malfoy you are married and do not have any sort of opinions on red headed girls…who could potentially be a Weasley…I’m sure they’re all related after all.

The waitress was also distracted with an instruction manual in her hand and glided up to the table, “Sorry to have kept you waiting, but I have a disaster in back and –”

“Pansy…” Draco stared up as if he was hallucinating, “Is it really you?”

“Draco –”

“What are you doing here?” He continued to gaze at her like she was not real as he stood from the booth, then eventually smiled and pulled her into what amounted to a short and awkward embrace.

She chuckled quietly and shyly pulled away, “This is my pub…you realize it is a Muggle pub, yeah? Oh, and you do know that you're in America?”

He nodded, refusing to distract himself from looking at her. Her smell danced around him and Draco’s head started to swim. Suddenly he interrupted the building silence, “I did not track you down here, I promise. I’m in town for business and needed somewhere to go and think. Never in a million years did I expect to see you here. I was here last night and –”

“Ah, so you’re the blond Colleen called my house gushing about at two o’clock this morning.” Pansy smiled and looked down quickly.

Completely blowing past Pansy’s comments about the waitress he had met the night before Draco continued with his previous topic, “Did you say this is your pub…you own it?”

“I do…for about three years now,” she started uncomfortably shifting back and forth in front of the table, “And what about you…what kind of business do you have in America?”

I finally found her and she obviously can not wait to get away from me. Draco was caught up in every move she made and when Pansy cleared her throat he chuckled quietly, “I’m sorry I just…you have no idea how amazing it is to see you standing in front of me right now. Why don’t you have a seat? We can catch up and –”

Pansy looked around at the empty pub then back to Draco, “I thought you needed to think…”

“Please tell me that you aren’t going to refuse to speak to me now that I am standing right in front of you. Can you honestly hate me that much?” Draco’s throat started to tighten as his thoughts involuntarily spilled from his mouth. He chuckled quietly, but his eyes were pleading, “I’m sorry to sound desperate, but…I am…please sit down and tell me at least how you have been for the last…decade.” You know…when my father was not attempting to make your life a living hell. “I’ve been dependent on the word of others all this time. I know you disappeared many years ago and that was also the last time I spoke with Blaise –”

“Why don’t I get you a drink first?” Pansy was obviously ruffled by the mention of anything to do with the past decade and forced a smile as she waited for Draco to respond.

“Your finest Whiskey…a bottle should do. Unless you would be more comfortable if I just left all together and then –”

“No!” She blushed at her adamant interruption and smiled slightly, “You can stay. I’ll be right back.” Pansy rushed from the table before Draco could respond.

Once alone the blond pinched his arm and looked around the room to make sure he was not merely dreaming again. He had considered a million times what it would be like to look into Pansy’s eyes again, but he had never imagined that they would be so awkward and distant. He tried to convince himself that once she sat, and they talked, that the fire which once burned between them would reignite. The thought of being so close to her again made his hands started trembling and the excitement of just talking to her began coursing furiously through his body. When she returned after a few minutes Draco could not help the beaming smile that washed across his face and once again he lost control over his mouth. “So how long have you been here? When Blaise said you were gone without a trace I told him that you would not stay gone fore –”

“Draco…I really don’t want to talk about this.” Pansy set the bottle and a glass down on the table, “I’m sorry, but…it’s over…all of it is finally over and…just trust me when I say you were fortunate not to have been involved in the last decade of my life.” Tears were building in her eyes and she started to walk away from the table when suddenly she felt Draco’s hand on her arm and her body started shaking in response. She turned to look at him and as the tears started rolling down her face she whispered, “I can’t do this…I’m sorry…” and before Draco could respond Pansy rushed to the back room behind the bar.

He stood motionless at the table for only a few minutes then rushed after her. When he walked through the swinging door he found Pansy sitting at a table with her head down. Without hesitation he rushed to sit next to her and placed a comforting hand on her back, “Pans, I know what happened and I am so –”

“What do you think you know about what I have been through?” She looked up at him with a pained expression then stood from the table. “And if you know all about it then why do you need to hear it from me?”

“Because I only have it in pieces…cryptic messages from Zabini and letters my father received from someone with the initials R.M.,” Draco watched Pansy’s entire demeanor change when he mentioned the letters and he approached her quickly. Hesitantly he reached out to touch her arm, but she pulled away, “Pans, I promise you that I knew nothing about any of this until my father died last year. Only then did I find out that my parents had ever crossed paths with you.” He paused and took a deep breath, “Astoria told me that she had spoken with you finally during an argument we had at the St. Mungo’s benefit and –”

“Blaise told me you were there,” Pansy paused after her interruption and looked strangely at Draco for a moment then went to sit at the table. She ran her fingers through her hair and sighed, “That is exactly what I’m talking about, Draco. I do not want to relive that nightmare. I’m good now, and you appear to be as well so why can’t we just say hello, have a drink on the house and wish each other well because when your assignment here is over I assume you will be returning to your family.”

“Are you bloody serious?” Draco’s heart was racing and he lost complete control over vocalizing his thoughts, “I have not seen you in eight years. I have proof that my father was deliberately trying to destroy your life. Pans, I know he’s the reason you left in the first place.” Without thinking he went and knelt in front of her, placed his hands gently on her knees and looked up pleadingly, “I have a decade’s worth of things to say to you; generalized sentimentalities and well wishes are not on the list.”

After a long pause Pansy allowed her eyes to lock with Draco’s; she placed her hands on top of his and spoke softly, “You are forgiven, Draco; forgive yourself and move on.” Pansy stood suddenly and stepped around him then walked back into the pub.

When Draco followed he found that people had come into the bar and saw that Pansy was immediately tending to her customers. He walked back to the booth and started to sit, but he was suddenly enraged at the dysfunction of all that had happened. Before causing a scene he moved quickly out the door, hoping a walk would calm him, and intending to return in order to try again. He stopped at the end of the ally where he paced for nearly thirty minutes trying to rationalize his right to go back to the pub and demand Pansy speak with him. His imagination had run wild with all the possible ways she had suffered and his need to know the truth seemed to inflict equal amounts of torture. Draco was reeling and could not seem to tame his thoughts no matter how hard he tried or how much he paced. It wasn’t just the past…she did not want to speak with me at all. How could she be in the same room with me…that close and not feel every single thing that I feel? Has she truly been that badly damaged?

The blond eventually walked back to the pub and once inside he was greeted by a familiar face at what he now considered his booth. He approached without hesitation, “Let me guess…Pansy is gone and sent you in to deliver the news that she does not wish to speak with me ever again.”

Blaise arched is eyebrow and motioned for Draco to sit across from him. “Its more complicated than that, but…have a seat. What are you doing here…if you don’t mind my asking?”

“I’m in America on business and I received excellent service here last night so I decided to come back. I had no idea that Pansy was going to be here. I see you had no problems finding her though.” Draco finally sat down and rolled his eyes as he poured a drink from the bottle of whiskey on the table.

“I had a hell of a time finding her actually. I left the Ministry –”

“In 2005…I know all about it because I went to talk to you recently and you were gone with no forwarding location.” Draco finished his drink quickly and poured another, “So you two have been carrying on ever since in America?”

“It took me a year to find her and nearly that to…she had a hard way of things, but when she bought this place three years ago her life finally started falling back together again.” Blaise took a long drink and started to continue when Draco interrupted curtly.

“Ironic that she named her pub after a dragon don’t you think?” The blond poured another drink mindlessly and drank it down.

Blaise finished off the bottle and raised his glass to Draco, “Well it’s always been about you hasn’t it?” He tipped his glass back and set it on the table, “Of course this dragon has a lion’s mane and –”

“If you say that’s for Potter I may vomit.”

“Allow me to fetch you a pail then. You’d better get used to that mate because Pansy is quite close friends with the Potters and the Weasleys now,” he chuckled as he watched the expression of horror wash across Draco’s face. “I used to feel that way too, but honestly…we both owe a considerable amount to Harry and Ginny especially. It’s been a different world for quite some time now.”

The idea of Pansy being close friends with their former enemies and still refusing to speak with him made Draco’s stomach turn and for a moment he thought he may actually vomit all over the table. After several silent moments he looked up at Blaise, “So what’s the verdict then? Is she refusing to speak with me still?”

“She’s fighting for what there is to say, Draco. The playing field is still the same, you are married to Astoria and now you have a child together. You are filled with rage and disgust over atrocities from the past that you just found out about and Pansy has already dealt with all of it. You can not ask her to relive her greatest horrors so that you can work through it; it’s not fair.” Blaise waived at a dark haired waitress who immediately approached with another bottle of whiskey. He smiled brightly at the waitress and winked before she walked away then poured two fresh glasses and continued, “So I am prepared to answer all of your questions about what happened.”

Draco was surprised by the offer of full disclosure and after a long drink from his glass he blurted, “Who is R.M.?”

“Riley MacAulay…frequented The Broom Cupboard…the pub Pansy worked at. Anyway he asked her out a hundred times and finally she gave in. The night you and Astoria showed up at the pub was what pushed it all into motion and they became very close very quickly. He became such an important part of her life that he even offered his last name…the day they ran into your parents he played along that he was her fiancé.” Blaise paused to finish off his glass and continued sadly, “Of course he was working for Lucius and one day he said something that made me suspicious, I read him and I immediately relocated Pansy to America.”

“Then how did she end up back in London? And how in the bloody hell did she become so chummy with Potter and company?” As much as Draco wanted answers to his questions he knew each one brought potential devastation, but he waited patiently for Blaise’s response.

“Pansy was ill and felt more comfortable with Healers than she did Muggle doctors so a portkey was arranged to bring her to St. Mungo’s and Harry treated her. There were apologies made, forgiveness was confirmed and they found they had a great deal in common.” Blaise tried not to laugh when Draco shifted uncomfortably in his seat, “I assure you that if Potter was as bad as we once believed that I would have put a stop to it, but he and Ginny were very supportive when Pansy needed it most and for that I will be forever grateful to them.”

“When she disappeared…why did she leave and where did you find her?” Draco ran his fingers through his hair and poured himself another drink.

Blaise was obviously saddened by his trip through the past; he took a deep breath and exhaled slowly before responding. “She was in New Orleans, in the underground district when I found her and honestly I hardly recognized her. She had no money, no where to stay really so she bounced around a lot. Of course you’ve seen her so you know she is quite better now and –”

Draco looked up and knew that Blaise was holding something back. “Why did she leave?”

“Because Lucius told her to and that time he did not threaten just you, but all of us. Pansy wrote you a letter that he intercepted and it put her back on his radar,” Blaise continued over Draco’s intended interruption, “She does not blame you for any of this, Draco, and honestly after years of reflection I was wrong to cast any blame on you. I had no idea how truly evil Lucius was and had you stood up all those years ago and defied him I have no doubt he would have killed you both.”

“Yes well I’m happy to tell you that he is dead…has been for more than a year now.” The blond could feel the effects of the alcohol taking hold, but could not stop himself from pouring another glass. “I wish I had killed him myself.”

Blaise paused thoughtfully as he pushed his glass away from him, “And destroyed the life you have built for yourself? No good would have come of that. Still I would never insult you by extending my condolences. He was a bastard and he had to go eventually.”

The noises from the pub started to infiltrate the silence that developed between them. Draco wondered for a split second if Blaise had been the one who finished Lucius off for good, but his need to know was only to issue the appropriate gratitude for a job well done. He opted not to pursue the issue and took advantage of whatever time he had left of Blaise’s generous disclosure about Pansy. “So is she happy now? She looked happy until she saw me.” He looked down and fought for something else to say, but the realization that Pansy had fallen out of love with him cut off his air supply.

A sarcastic chuckle broke the silence and Blaise finally spoke, “Do you honestly believe that the reason she doesn’t want to speak with you is because she has somehow decided she does not love you anymore? Let me assure you…that could not be farther from the truth; much as it pisses me off to say it. Still, what do you see happening here, Draco? You’re in America for what…a week maybe? And then what happens?”

“I don’t know –”

Blaise interrupted with a calm tone, “She loses you all over and falls apart again… that’s what. You can’t be friends, you two are a train wreck waiting to happen and she is worried that this time she may not survive the crash.”

The blond finished off his drink and stared into the empty glass, “So what am I supposed to do, Blaise? Walk away? Forget I saw her? Forget that she has been running through my system constantly for the last decade…practically two now?” Draco finally looked up at his old friend and fought back mounting tears, “Don’t you think I’ve tried? A million times I’ve tried, but she’s part me; and now that I know she’s here I don’t know if I can leave.”

“You will leave because you have a wife and son at home and abandoning your family goes against everything you’ve become. Not to mention Pansy is not about breaking up happy homes.” Blaise put the top back on the nearly empty bottle of whiskey and took Draco’s glass, “I guess I want to know what you plan to do?”

“Well I don’t want her having to go into hiding or run again. Tell her I’ll be gone by the end of the week and I won’t come back to the pub; hell if I see her on the street I’ll turn and walk the other way.” Draco reached across the table for his glass and the whiskey bottle, “Whatever she wants…I suppose it’s the least I can do.” He poured another drink and downed it, “So…what are you doing with yourself in the Muggle world, Zabini?”

Blaise chuckled as he responded, “I left my position at the Ministry about four years ago and about a year after that I started coaching a secondary school football team.”

“Real football or American football?” Draco tried not to roll his eyes and ended up laughing at the thought of Blaise coaching a Muggle sport.

“Since when do you know the difference?” Blaise laughed when Draco rolled his eyes. “Soccer…and they are really good. State champions the last three years. I’m pretty sure there are some wizards on the team too.” Blaise smiled at the dark haired waitress as she passed then looked at Draco watching the interaction, “And yes I have a girlfriend…stay away from her.”

“She looks like a fairy. And is that hair color real or is it a glamour? Is she a witch?” Draco laughed at Blaise’s attempt at annoyance then he stood from the table, “You don’t have to answer. I’ve invaded your lives enough already and in just a few days time I’ll be on my way back to the magical world. Of course with Pansy here I suppose which place possesses the most magic is really up for debate.” He extended his hand, “Blaise, it was good to see you, good to know you are well. Thank you for answering my questions.”

Blaise stood and shook Draco’s hand, “I’m sorry that this evening has not been what you might have anticipated, but I am eternally grateful that you understand the delicate position Pansy is in.”

“Of course…” Draco started to walk away, but turned quickly and looked at Blaise, “Can you just tell her…that I am so monumentally sorry for absolutely everything? And can you tell her that I honestly still think about her hundreds of times a day…and tell her that I have never stopped loving her for even a minute…” He paused and started to turn, but stopped, “And one more thing…tell her that I kept my promise…I have the life she wanted for me…but the only life I ever wanted was one with her in it…maybe next lifetime.” The blond did not wait for a response before stumbling toward the door and collapsing against the building and to the ground on the other side.

Within seconds Blaise was standing over Draco and leaned down to help him up. He pulled his wand from his pocket and held the blond up, “What hotel are you staying at?”

“That really expensive one…where all of the shops are,” he smiled up at Blaise and pulled a plastic card out of his pocket, “Here…it’s a key. Why are the keys plastic here? Do you know Alohamora does not work on these Muggle doors?”

Blaise interrupted Draco’s drunken babble by grabbing his arm and disapparating them from the alley.


19 June 2010

I think it is distinctly possible that I am dying and to try and narrow down the exact cause of this horrendous pain in every part of my body would be impossible. My hair hurts…that has to be the nearly two bottles of whiskey I think I consumed last night. The headache, tightness in my chest, churning stomach and the fact that my body feels like I’ve been thrown in front of a train could be a hangover…or the realization that I can never have Pansy in any way ever again.

To say that I was useless all day today and that I singlehandedly set my case back due to a lack of concentration would be an understatement. I think subconsciously I wanted to stay the whole week because she may not be willing to see me, but at least I know she’s close. Why couldn’t I have found her years ago? Maybe I could have shielded her from Lucius if I would have only known. I have so many more questions about things that Blaise said last night. What caused Pansy’s illness and was Potter able to cure her? Will I ever stop accumulating things to be grateful to that git for? If Pansy took a portkey back to London wouldn’t Astoria have known that? All international portkey requests into wizarding London require her approval…so yet another thing she kept from me. Did I mention I had the thought last night that Blaise killed Lucius? I was very drunk, but it was just the way he talked about it. I would never ask. Can not honestly say if I even want to know. I guess if anyone would have wanted to end his life for the atrocities committed against Pansy it would be Blaise. Although…Blaise has a girlfriend now; some fairy looking girl with jet black hair and skin almost as pale as mine. She has purple eyes…not as exquisite as Pansy’s eyes, but interesting. They have lives here…with the Muggles…

Its true now…we are from completely different worlds…and she has left me no other option…I’ve found her again…and just like last time I have to let her go.

Draco closed his book of parchment and threw it across the room. He ran his fingers roughly across his face and into his hair and slammed his head back against the headboard. After a few restless moments of his mind wandering to all of the reasons he could never let Pansy go he reached into his bag, pulled out a vile and drank it down. I’ll just sleep…and it will all be better in the…


Draco walked hesitantly back into The Piasa the next evening and sat at the bar. After only a few minutes Pansy walked out of the back room and stopped dead when she saw him. Draco immediately waved his white napkin and smiled, “A truce perhaps? I only want to talk to you, Pans. You have no idea how much I’ve missed you?”

“I have no idea? Actually I’m quite sure I understand better than anyone Draco; but it has taken me nearly two decades to realize that I can have a life without you.” She paused and started wiping the counter. Finally she looked up and took a deep breath when her eyes locked onto his, “What do you want to talk about?”

He chuckled and his smile caused Pansy’s smile to finally surface, “Tell me about the last three years…owning this place.”

Draco hated that Pansy seemed so uneasy around him and the realization that they really did not know each other any longer was more than unsettling. He hoped by avoiding everything other than her recent past that she would not run away or send Blaise in to attack again. He watched as she poured two glasses of whiskey and pushed one across the bar, “Thank you.”

“Sure,” she tapped her glass on the bar top and downed in quickly before pouring herself another and finishing it off. When she finally looked up at Draco’s surprised expression she laughed, “Sorry…I’ve done a lot of drinking in this pub. So what were we talking about?”

“Dinner…would you be willing to entertain a dinner invitation for tomorrow night? We can relax, you can tell me all about how you acquired a Muggle pub and how you have adapted to life in America…” he trailed off and took a long drink before continuing, “Please…I promise that we do not even have to talk about anything other than what you’re doing now. I just want to know you again, Pans…I can’t help myself.”

The evidence of Pansy’s resistance was written all over her face, but she finally smiled shyly, “All right…but I get to pick the place.”

“Fair enough; should I arrange a car to pick you up here or –”

“Just come here after you’re done working…we’ll walk.” Pansy smiled as she walked away to wait on a customer across the bar.

Dinner is a start. Draco finished his drink and deciding not to press his luck he smiled as Pansy returned, “I’m going to get out of here then…and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“You’re leaving?” Pansy blushed instantly at her question, “I mean…you don’t have to leave on my account. I can pour you another drink or –”

“I don’t want to risk that I will say or do something tonight that will keep you from wanting to go tomorrow so…until then you are free of me.” The blond smiled and continued softly, “Have a good evening”

“You too,” she smiled and seemed more comfortable than she had since they reconnected. “Be careful out there…some of the Muggles around here bite.”

“Well if they drink in a pub named after a dragon they’d better,” he smiled once more and walked to the door with a new sense of triumph. That’s the Pans I love.


Promptly at six o’clock the next day Draco walked into The Piasa and found Blaise sitting at the bar. The blond walked somewhat nervously toward him and smiled, “Please tell me you are not here to say she isn’t coming.”

“No, she’s just finishing up in the back. I’m here to tell you if for some reason she comes back here tonight damaged, I will kill you.” Blaise smiled and slapped Draco’s back, “Have a brilliant evening,” then walked into the back room.

Minutes later Pansy emerged wearing a green sundress with a white wrap. She watched Draco’s eyes light up and she immediately blushed and looked down, “Hi…”

The blond moved closer to her and smiled nervously, “You look beautiful.”

She looked up at him and started to say something, but smiled instead and whispered, “Thank you,” then looked down again.

Their exchange was awkward, but not in the distant and painful way it was days before. For all intents and purposes this was actually their first real date; and although Draco did not chose to share his realization with Pansy he became determined to show her the best evening she would allow. “So…where are we going…and am I appropriate?” He looked down at his black dress pants, green button up topped off with a well fitting black jacket then back up at her questioningly.

“You’re perfect; it’s a small family owned Italian restaurant. They feed me at least once a week and the food is better than anything we ever got at the castle even so you know it’s divine.” Pansy smiled as Draco extended his arm to her and she took it without hesitation. “Its not far from here and it’s a really nice night.”

“I place myself comfortably in your hands for the evening. Let’s go dine with Muggles.” He smiled and they walked from the pub.

The conversation on the way to the restaurant remained light and generally unimportant. When they finally arrived and were seated Draco found it nearly impossible to take his eyes off Pansy though he tried desperately to keep the conversation going. They continued their casual banter while they ordered and both seemed more comfortable as the evening progressed.

The waitress returned and set down two glasses and a bottle of the house’s finest wine; after allowing Draco a tasting she filled their glasses and smiled, “Can I bring you anything else right now?”

“No thank you we are fine for now,” Draco smiled and once the waitress was gone he raised his glass to Pansy, “To getting reacquainted.”

She smiled and tapped her glass delicately against Draco’s then took a long drink. “So Blaise tells me you have a kid?” Her expression gave away her surprise at the first thing to be blurted from her mouth and she took another long drink. Once her glass was empty she reached for the bottle and chuckled softly, “Sorry I am very nervous.”

“Please do not be nervous with me of all people, Pans; and since you’ve broken the ice with the first question I will answer. I have a son, Scorpius…he will be four next month.” Draco winced only slightly at the reminder of Scorpius’ birth date then smiled hoping Pansy had not noticed.

“What was that look for?” Pansy chuckled and waited with excited anticipation for Draco’s response.

The blond rolled his eyes and took a drink of his wine, “He was born July 31st…” Draco trailed off as Pansy started to laugh, “Yes it’s so amusing.”

“I wonder if…well…” this time Pansy trailed off, but she recovered quickly and with a cheery tone, “So tell me about him; I bet he’s just a little version of you.”

“I’m quite certain if you set my childhood photo next to his it might be difficult to tell the difference. Let’s hope he turns out at least a bit better adjusted than I did.” Draco took a deep breath and a minute to appreciate how much he actually missed home despite the fact that he was so happy to be sitting across from Pansy finally.

Taking note of Draco’s internal distraction the dark haired woman interrupted the silence, “Well little Scorpius has an incredible father so I’m sure he’s brilliant. Unfortunately you were not so lucky. And honestly, since you brought it up the other night that I spoke with Astoria in Diagon Alley I will say that she seems lovely as well. Are you happy?”

He looked at her somewhat startled by the question, but answered without hesitation, “I am…and for the most part I have been.” He paused and looked down before blurting, “I’m sorry you can not say the same.”

“Do you remember the rules in the cottage…of things you could apologize for and things I would not accept your regrets for because they were not your fault? I have my own regrets about the last ten years Draco so let’s just say we’re even.” Pansy reached for the wine bottle and filled both of their glasses. “So since Scorpius shares Harry’s birthday are you worried he’ll be sorted into Gryffindor?”

“Bite…your…tongue!” Draco laughed and took a long drink before continuing mindlessly, “So since his sacred name has been spoken…how is it that you became so chummy with Potter?” For example at what point did you start referring to him by his first name? He was irritated; still as soon as it came out of his mouth the blond started back peddling, “I am so sorry…that is none of my –”

Pansy shifted uncomfortably in her seat, but her smile did not diminish as she responded, “Its all right…I knew when I accepted this invitation that you would have questions and honestly it is unfair to deny you the truth so…I met Harry at St. Mungo’s in a Healer capacity. It was appropriate at that time that I apologize and I did so and he accepted it; in fact he told me it was unnecessary and apologized himself for things he had absolutely no control over. It’s strange that is only one of many things that you two have in common.” Pansy laughed at the disgusted look on Draco’s face, “I guess you could say that it just sort of happened. He is really –”

“Don’t even finish…I accept that you are friends with him and I appreciate all that he has done for you, but…I’m sorry I can not help but hate it.” He smiled and when she started to laugh he continued, “So does he know you’re here or are you still hiding out?”

The waitress interrupted Pansy’s response as she approached and put their meals on the table, “Can I bring you anything else?”

Pansy looked at the brilliant food on the table and smiled at the waitress, “Just another bottle of wine Lyn and then I think we’ll be all set.”

“Sure thing Pans…enjoy!” The waitress smiled once more and within minutes returned with another bottle of wine as requested.

The conversation over dinner shifted to lighter topics from Scorpius using magic for the first time to Pansy taking her driving test. Once their dessert plates were cleared Pansy poured them both another glass of wine and sighed, “I’m really glad I accepted this invitation. For all the years I’ve been dodging you it is nice to sit here and just look at you.” As soon as she finished speaking she put her head down to hide her dark crimson blush. “I’ve obviously had a lot of wine.”

“If it makes you comfortable around me again then I will order another bottle.” His eyes were waiting for hers and when she finally looked up and he saw the return of the twinkle he had longed for he could only smile.

Pansy did not break the intense eye contact between them as she raised her hand and suddenly there was a waitress at the table. Finally she looked quickly from Draco, “Can we have two espressos please?” She reengaged with Draco when the waitress walked away and smiled, “One thing you and I never knew how to do was stop before we destroyed everything around us. We both seem to travel a pretty path now so I think we should exercise caution.”

“Are we even Slytherin anymore?” Draco chuckled and looked down at the tiny cup of dark liquid the waitress placed in front of him.

Pansy thanked the waitress then responded to Draco’s question, “I can sometimes feel my inner rebel forcing her way through, but for the most part the Slytherin in me feels broken.” She paused when Draco had still not looked up from the cup on the table then laughed quietly, “What’s your problem then?”

“What is this?” He looked up at her and his eyebrow arched, “It looks…thick…”

“Its espresso…strongly brewed coffee if you will,” she took a sip her own drink and continued to laugh, “I didn’t brew it so right there you can be sure it won’t kill you. Just try it you big baby.”

Draco shot her a playful glare then picked up the cup, “Is the cup so small because you can only handle this much at once before your heart speeds up and explodes?” He smiled when Pansy rolled her eyes and unwillingly he took a small sip then set the cup down quickly. The sudden need to wipe his tongue with his napkin was difficult to suppress and he finally blurted, “That is repulsive, Pansy. Honestly…did Potter introduce you to that or is it the Muggles who are warping your taste buds?”

She finished off her cup and smiled, “I had at least heard of it when I was younger, but I tried it my first time in America and loved it.” She reached across the table to grab Draco’s cup when he took her left hand and looked down at her ring. She smiled sadly and broke the silence, “I know this isn’t the first time you realized that I still wear it.”

“No…I saw it at the St. Mungo’s benefit and that first night when you were suddenly just standing in front of me at the pub.” Finally Draco let go of her hand and looked up, “Can I ask why?”

“Do you really have to?” Pansy mindlessly turned the ring on her finger and was obviously fighting to hold her eyes on his. “I guess its just my opinion that you would never take off an engagement ring unless you did not want to be married to the person that gave it to you. And there has never been a day since you gave this to me that I did not think at least a hundred times a day how much I wanted to be your wife. Does it make you uncomfortable that I still –”

“No…” Draco paused, not sure why he had even interrupted when he could not begin to figure out what he wanted to say. “I think it’s sad…that this happened to us at all because I feel the exact same way. And I know it seemed like just another instance when I did not fight for you, but I was so afraid of what he would do and it ends up he did his worst anyway.”

As soon as the conversation returned to Lucius it was almost as if Pansy cowered in her chair. Her smile faded and was replaced with a haunted expression, “He would have killed us I have no doubt. I won’t lie…at first I could not understand how you could not fight to be with me, and the night that I found you at the Leaky Cauldron I knew that eventually he would drive us apart again and that you would allow it. It was in the years which followed that I began to understand why…that I was able to comprehend the consequences for rebellion against him.”

Again Draco’s imagination went crazy as he considered the many possibilities wrapped up in Pansy’s cryptic statement. After an uncomfortable pause he responded, “I’m sure you know that Lucius is dead. If you ever wanted to come back to London you no longer have to fear him.” Draco smiled sadly when Pansy looked up at him, “Of course you have quite the life here from what I can see.”

“There are too many other demons in London; and the magical world as a whole has not been kind. Pretty much after my daughter died I knew –”

“Your daughter?” Draco leaned across the table and could not make anything else come out of his mouth.

Pansy’s entire demeanor changed and she took a deep breath. Her hands were shaking a top the table and she looked up at him sadly, “I am so sorry I should not have just blurted that out like that.”

“When were you…it’s wasn’t that Ri –”

“No…thank God.” She paused again, obviously trying to work out how she was going to explain then finally continued, “I made some disappointing choices around the time of your wedding. That particular choice did not remain a part of my life, but I ended up with a beautiful little girl as a result...” Tears welled in Pansy’s eyes and she ran her fingers through her hair. “For a while anyway…”

“Pansy, I am so very sorry…you don’t have to tell me anymore.” Did Lucius kill her daughter? Draco started to panic, but was relieved when Pansy interrupted his mind wandering.

“It’s ok…now that it’s out there…she is actually how I came across Harry in the first place. Her name was Emma and she developed a blood infection that took us to St. Mungo’s. Harry was her Healer and he worked tirelessly to help her. At one point he developed a treatment, and for a while she was brilliant again, but unfortunately there was only so much that could be done and she –”

“Is that when you wrote me the letter?” Draco could not imagine losing Scorpius and seeing the pain that washed across Pansy’s face in waves was heartbreaking. When she nodded he reached for her hand, “I did not receive it. I only found it last year while going though my father’s things. I would have come to you and helped you by any means necessary.”

She squeezed his hand and smiled as she pulled hers away and dried her eyes, “I knew that. It was silly of me to think that any correspondence from me would have ever found you. He made it abundantly clear that I needed to stay away and the last message he sent I received loud and clear. That is when I disappeared…and then Blaise found me four years ago, helped me pull myself together and here we are. But now you understand why I am friends with Harry…and the Weasley’s, Ginny most especially, they were brilliant during that time.”

“I’m glad to know that you were not alone and I am elated to see that you have happiness now…even if it is running with the chosen one and living with Muggles.” Draco’s smile was sad and he reached over to take her hand again, “Thank you for trusting me with the truth, Pansy. I am pained by your loss, but I imagine Emma was absolutely brilliant.”

“Right down to her crush on Harry Potter…she was perfect.” Pansy smiled and looked down as she started to blush.

Draco rolled his eyes, “Do you have a crush on Harry bloody Potter?”

“Of course not…but Blaise used to have a little thing for Ginny. I knew it all along!” She giggled then continued quietly, “Besides I’ve no room in my life for men. No offense, but you all just mess things up.” Pansy pulled her hand away and dried her eyes.

Is it wrong that her statement makes me very happy because I do not want her with anyone else? Draco pulled himself from distraction and chuckled, “Well it is most appreciated that you do not have any sort of romantic attachment to the bloody chosen one. Still, and painful as it is to admit, I would hope that there will be someone for you to spend the rest of your life with.” Like me…

“That’s what I have Blaise for,” she reached for the bill when the waitress put it down and smiled as Draco’s hand rested a top hers, “I’ve got this.”

Draco magically pulled the bill from underneath her hand and looked it over once it was in his, “I can only imagine what you have become accustomed to living here, however in my company you will be treated as a lady and I will be paying for the dinner that I invited you to.” He rolled his eyes and looked up at her beaming smile, “Though I should make you pay for those disturbing drinks you ordered.”

“Thank you, Draco…for not giving up and walking away the other night when I asked you to…and for dinner of course.” She looked down shyly and pulled the white wrap around her shoulders; finally she continued quietly, “When will your assignment here be done?”

I’m not going back. “Should be the day after tomorrow, but I’m expecting several return trips to see it to completion.” Please look at me and say you will just come back to London with me. Draco watched impatiently for Pansy to look up and when she finally did there were new tears building her eyes, “Pans I –”

“I had way too much wine!” She dried her eyes and stood from the table, “You pay and I will meet you outside…some air will stop the weepiness.”

Before Draco could respond Pansy rushed off. He immediately worried that she would decide to run away so he stood quickly and handed the waitress a hundred dollar bill, “The rest is yours.” He rushed out the door, embarrassed immediately by his pace and frantic appearance when he arrived outside and found Pansy waiting patiently on a bench. “You’re still here…” Stop talking now Malfoy!

“You expected me to flee?” She blushed and looked down as she continued, “Suppose I can not blame you there.” Suddenly Pansy felt Draco’s hand take hers; she closed her eyes and took a deep breath then looked up at him, “I think it’s possible that I underestimated how much I actually missed you.”

“Well then…where are we going now?” Draco squeezed Pansy’s hand and started back toward the pub. You have a wife and child waiting for you at home Malfoy…be careful.

“Back to the pub…”

Already? Draco was not even close to being ready to say goodnight and started feeling desperate to hold onto to Pansy for dear life. “You can’t stay away from that place can you?”

“I’d sleep in that pub if Blaise would let me. I feel more at home there than I have anywhere since…well…in a long time.” She smiled and swung their entwined hands back and forth, “We’re open for a few more hours…if you wanted to come in and have a drink.”

Draco smiled down at her and squeezed her hand tight, “I’d love that.”


Pansy walked to the end of the bar and nudged Colleen who was staring at Draco across the room, “Are you serious?”

“I’m sorry, Pans…I had no idea your ex was so incredibly…beautiful. There is no other way to describe him.” The redhead smiled apologetically, but still returned her eyes to Draco. “You should figure out a way to bottle him; I’d pay top dollar.” She sighed dreamily and continued with her gaze.

“Not if you don’t have a job anymore because I fire your ass before I kick it.” Pansy was smiling when the girl looked at her, “Not that I can blame you, but at the same time he is so far off limits I can not stress it enough.”

“I would never…just like the view is all,” she smiled, took the broom from Pansy’s hand and went to the back room.

Pansy walked over and sat down across from Draco, “You and Harry…always distracting my staff.”

He raised an eyebrow then looked around, “What are you talking about?”

“Well Colleen…my redheaded waitress has been staring at you dreamily for the last fifteen minutes and any time Madi comes in contact with Harry she starts acting like a fourteen year old girl.” Pansy chuckled as she sat back and observed the disgusted expression on Draco’s face.

“Who is Madi?”

“The dark haired waitress that has been dating Blaise for the last two years and –”

“Wait,” Draco paused to laugh, “Zabini’s fairy is in love with Potter? That is priceless.” The blond sat back and continued to laugh until Pansy interrupted.

“You didn’t think it was so brilliant when you thought I was the one with the crush on the chosen one.” She smiled as Draco’s amusement faded, “And she’s not in love with Potter she’s in love with Blaise.”

He took a long drink of the whiskey Pansy set down in front of him and started blurting, “So you don’t use magic at all anymore do you?”

She shook her head and looked down into her glass, “Not really…when I absolutely need to, but I find most things can be accomplished without it. That was random.”

“I was just curious if you only refrained when you were here because of all the Muggles. What about Blaise…you know when Madi’s not around?” Draco finished off his drink and poured another.

“What makes you think Madi is a Muggle…or a fairy for that matter? She developed that pint size crush on Harry during the Triwizard Tournament.” Pansy downed her drink and held out her glass for Draco to replenish, “And occasionally we all get into magic mode, but like I said before…the magical world never provided me the opportunities I’ve found here.” Pansy was interrupted by a gray and black owl coasting in through an open window and landing on the table next to Draco. “Obviously the place is equipped for magical travelers though.”

Draco removed a piece of parchment from the owl’s foot then looked around as the bird flew from the table and back out the window. He looked back at Pansy with concern, “I am so sorry about that…do you think anyone –”

“It’s certainly not the first owl the regulars have seen in here…no worries.” She looked at the parchment and it seemed to sadden her as she watched Draco open the letter and read to himself.

Draco,

I’ve no idea if you will even receive this before leaving America. Tom at the Leaky Cauldron said there is a pub in Chicago called The Piasa that receives magical post and that the owner will find you. Ironically the Piasa is supposedly some kind of dragon so I imagine my luck is good that this will arrive in your hands safely.

I should have told you straight away that nothing is wrong and you need not worry. I simply could not wait to tell you all about the potion your son drank this afternoon…I think you’ve probably heard of it…Polyjuice Potion. Suddenly Harry Potter was standing in our living room and I literally fell off the sofa. I have not yet decided if I am more angry or amused, but either way your lab has very advanced security spells all over it now. In any event Scorpius is fine and has returned to himself. I just found the irony in you not locking up your lab like we discussed and of all the bottles to choose from he selected…the chosen one. I took photos to preserve the experience for you. We can talk about why you have Harry Potter Polyjuice Potion at all when you return.

We love and miss you and can not wait for you to be home. Hope work is well and that the Muggles are being kind. I apologize for any Muggle interaction this post may cause, but hopefully hearing from me was worth it.

All my love,

Astoria

Pansy interrupted the silence after a few minutes, “She must miss you terribly.”

He looked up startled for a moment then smiled, “Scorpius got into my lab and found the supply of Polyjuice Potion –”

“Oh my…I know what that supply once contained. Is he all right?” Her expression was concerned until Draco rolled his eyes and then she could not hold back her laughter, “Scorpius found a bottle of liquid Potter didn’t he? It makes perfect sense if you think about –”

“He’s fine…and returned to himself. This all happened yesterday and I am so glad I was not there to see it; though Astoria took photos and…” Draco trailed off and looked from the parchment to Pansy’s saddened expression, “I wish that I could stop making you look so sad, Pans. I miss them terribly, but I do not know that I could ever tell you in words how much I wish things were different…that it was you waiting for me at home.” He looked down again and realized that he only had two more days and then he would be off to the magical world. And I will bet that even if I return here someday…you will again be long gone.

“We had our time; albeit shorter than we would have liked, it will still always be ours. But that time is over now and at least you know you have somewhere to call home and you seem to really love it there. I don’t have to imagine how much they love you.” She sighed heavily and started to get up from the table, “You should get some sleep though…work tomorrow and all.”

Draco reached out and grabbed her arm as she started from the table. He stood quickly and pulled her into a tight hug; much more comfortable and real than the first night he had seen her. At first Pansy wrapped her arms loosely around his waist, but when he buried his face in her hair he could feel her grip tighten and it made him smile as tears welled up in his eyes. After many quiet moments he pulled away just enough to look down at her and gently ran his hand down the side of her face, “I have to see you again before I go back. Can I come here tomorrow and –”

“You can come here anytime you want, but I meant what I said earlier; we will let this all get confusing and hurtful if we’re not careful. I had a lovely evening with you and should you decide to come back by the pub I’ll be here, but…its still going to end in goodbye and I’ll understand if you decide that its easier to just get that out of the way right now.” She rested her head against his chest and inhaled deeply then looked back up at him, “And maybe I’ll see you again sometime.”

Pansy started to pull away, but Draco held her hand and waited for her to turn around, “I’ll see you tomorrow.” He forced a smile as she pulled her hand free and walked behind the bar and to the back room. When the blond walked outside he half expected to find Blaise ready to challenge him to a duel for making Pansy cry, but free from any battles that were not internal he disapparated back to the hotel.


21 June 2010

All these years…all the attempts to find her and she was invisible to everything I tried. Then I come to America of all places, walk into some little pub and there she is…what are the chances? And now that I’ve found her what on earth am I to do? I expected so many things from the moment that we finally reconnected…swelling orchestral music in the background as we ran across the room and flew into each other’s arms. At the same time part of me expected that she would hate me, yell at me, hit me…throw me out and tell me never to return. She tried I guess, but she gave up far too easily. I can tell that she is saying what she considers responsible…what needs to be said to keep me from ruining my life and hers in the process, but I can also see that she would run with me if I asked. Should I ask? I want to ask and now Lucius is gone; if we wanted to we could go where no one would ever be able to find us. Blaise is about the only one I would worry about tracking us, but if he knew Pansy was happy why would he? Would Astoria even come looking or would she just know?

THIS IS NOT FAIR! I can not have them both; I can not leave either behind. Still what other reason would fate have had for bringing me into that pub that night? After all this time why now just when I had finally accepted it was never even possible? I have dreamt about holding her in my arms again and now that I can still smell her on my clothes, have a vivid image of her in my head again; I still can not have her. Perhaps the time for my atonement has finally arrived.


As promised, Draco returned to The Piasa the following evening and sat down at the bar. Within seconds Colleen was standing in front of him smiling, “Good evening, what can I bring you?”

“Pansy,” he looked up and smiled, “And a whiskey while I wait.”

The redhead poured a glass and pushed it toward him, “She’s in back…I’ll send her out.” She tripped when she turned, but recovered quickly and rushed to the back room.

Draco chuckled and took a long drink then looked up and saw Pansy walking toward him. A huge smile washed across his face and he started to greet her, but the dark haired woman spoke first.

“You just caught me…another few minutes and we’d have missed each other.” She smiled as she walked over and refilled his glass. “Are you all right? You looked wrecked. Too much wine and whiskey last night…maybe I should cut you off right now and –”

“Come back to London with me…” Draco took a deep breath after he blurted his thoughts out involuntarily, but he was not sorry he did. He reached over and took her trembling hand, “I can not leave you, Pans. I thought about it all last night and I simply can not figure out a way to say goodbye…again…I won’t.”

Pansy pulled her hand from his and looked down, “Do you think this is any easier for me, Draco? Do you think that everything inside of me has not been screaming yes to that question of will I go anywhere with you since the day you walked in here? But I can’t…we can’t…everything has changed except for the fact that you and I are over…” Tears fell furiously down Pansy’s face and she started to walk away.

Without thought Draco rushed around the bar and stopped her from walking into the back room, “Why do we have to be over? The only thing stopping us after that night at the Leaky Cauldron was my father and he’s gone now.”

“Yes, but now you are in love with your wife and she has your child. I know this feels impossible, but not nearly as devastating an effect as leaving them would have on you. If we were meant to be we would have been, but –”

“You hardly gave us a chance, Love. I’ve spent most of the last decade tracking you down and now you’re here and I will not let you get away again.” He took her hands and pulled her close, but she interrupted before he could continue.

“I’m not going anywhere, Draco…especially not London. You will always know where to find me now, but…maybe it’s not a good idea that you call on me again.” Pansy started to pull away, but Draco wrapped his arms around her and she sighed as the feeling of powerlessness rushed through her. After a few quiet minutes she pulled away and reached up to hold his face, “I spent the last ten years running to keep us all safe; and now that we no longer need protection from Lucius all my energy can go towards protecting us from ourselves.”

Draco placed his hand over hers and pulled them around his waist before wrapping his arms tightly around her, “How can you even fathom what you are asking?”

“Because we have both worked far too hard to become these people; we have to say goodbye, Draco…it’s the only way.” Fresh tears fell down Pansy’s face as she pulled away from him and started to back up toward the back room, “I love you…that has not changed.”

“I love you too…” he trailed off and fought to grab her, but she rushed through the swinging door and by the time he followed she was gone from sight.

He ran his fingers through his hair and chuckled sarcastically, “Magic only when she needs to.” The tears welling in his eyes finally started to fall and suddenly he felt a comforting hand on his back; he looked up to find Colleen standing close.

“Why don’t you come and have a seat in the office? I’ll make sure you are not disturbed and you can stay as long as you like…or at least until we close.” She smiled and led him toward a small office; she walked him to the sofa and made him sit, “Can I bring you anything?”

Draco shook his head and continued looking down at the floor, “Thank you for your kindness. I just need a moment and I will be gone.”

“Well if you need anything else I’ll be up front. Oh…and don’t disapparate from in here. For whatever reason we always end up splinched when we do; if you step outside the office you should be fine.” She smiled at his surprise, “You thought I was a Muggle, didn’t you? It’s all right…just means I’m putting on a good show. Anyway, I’ll leave you now…” she smiled once more sadly and closed the door behind her.

There were too many thoughts rushing through Draco’s head to keep up and he could not comprehend, let alone accept, what Pansy asked. That this would be the last time he would ever see her again was a more impossible reality than it had been the ten years prior. He had one more day before he had to return to convince her that they could be friends at least if they only tried. It was not what he wanted, but it was more realistic than dying without ever seeing her face again. After a few minutes he pulled out his wand and against the advice of the caring waitress he disapparated from the office.


Draco finished up his case work the following morning and by one o’clock he was standing outside The Piasa. He took a deep breath, unsure what to expect upon walking through the door, but whatever happened he had to at least see Pansy once more. He pushed the door open and walked into the empty pub where he found Blaise sitting at the booth. The blond looked around the pub and then retuned his focus to his old friend who was obviously awaiting his arrival. Draco’s heart sank as he walked over and flopped down into the booth, “Let me guess…”

“I suppose I could…but it’s not what you think.” He looked down at the bandage on Draco’s hand, “Punching walls again?”

“No…I apparated from a bad spot –”

Blaise tried to hold back a chuckle, “The office? It’s a splinching nightmare.” He composed himself as Draco showed no signs of amusement. “Pansy had plans to leave town this weekend long before you showed up here. She left last night and since I understand you are leaving this evening she asked me to meet you here and give you this.” Blaise held out a piece of parchment which Draco practically ripped from his hands, opened and read quietly.

22 June 2010

Dear Draco,

I’m sorry I disappeared tonight, but…it was for the best and I’m hoping at least by morning you agree. If not, once you see your family again you will and either way I did what I thought I had to…like I have tried to do from the beginning.

It was truly amazing to see you again; I would not trade one awkward, tense, emotionally gut clawing moment of perfection. It felt a lot like the old days of Hogwarts really; good and bad I realize how much that time in my life molded who I am now. I hope if nothing more you saw how much I like the person I have become. I absolutely adored the new you; proud and loving father, doting husband…I could tell without you having to say a word.

Please know that I did not leave town because of you…I honestly did have this holiday planned and it’s very important that I go. Somehow I imagine that we will meet again, but I implore you to let this week be the last of your confusing moments. You can love me without dishonoring yourself and your family, Draco and I believe you will figure out how to manage it. Forgive yourself because you have no apologies left to make to me. Perhaps someday I will make my own amends, but for now I will thank you for keeping your promise to me and request that you enjoy every splendid thing destiny has in store for you.

I realize you are probably pissed that I had Blaise wait for you; he was not amused by the request either. One of my many hopes is that someday you two will make peace…more than co-exist…be friends again. I suppose only time will tell. Take care of yourself Malfoy…

Love,

Pansy

Draco folded the parchment and slipped it in his jacket pocket, “Will she come back?”

“I certainly hope so,” Blaise poured Draco a drink and then himself. He took a long gulp and continued quietly, “She went to Emma’s grave; just like every single weekend for the last three and a half years.”

“She told you then…that she shared the story of her daughter with me…” Draco took a long drink and a million questions rushed to the front of his mind. He looked up at Blaise and blurted, “Did my father kill Emma?”

“A blood infection killed Emma,” Blaise paused and finished off his glass, “Is it possible that you could just cherish the moments you and Pansy shared this week and not let this turn into something that ruins your life? I know you have been blissfully happy throughout the years,” he paused again and smiled when Draco’s eyebrow arched, “She made me check up on you from time to time.”

“Well that is hardly fair,” Draco smiled and considered what Blaise had requested, “I can never thank you enough for all that you do for her. And I suppose what I can do for her now is take your advice, be grateful that I saw her for myself, and let the past go.”

Blaise poured them each a bit more whiskey and raised his glass, “If you promise to take care of yourself I promise I will take care of Pans. As long as she’s happy that is all that matters.”

Draco tapped his glass, “I’ll do my best,” then downed the shot. He set the glass down and smiled sadly at Blaise, “Well…I guess I should be going then.”

“Did you want a ride to the airport?”

“Astoria actually arranged a portkey for me to get home. There were issues when I came out here, but I think I would rather swim home than get on another Muggle airplane.” He smiled as he stood and extended his hand, “Good seeing you Blaise. Try and take care of yourself too.”

Blaise stood and shook Draco’s hand, “I have a girlfriend for that.”

“Yes I never did officially meet your lady friend, but I understand she has some Gryffindor tendencies.” The blond smiled as he started towards the door.

“They all do actually…girls in general…they all end up with these twisted little crushes on Potter and the Weasleys and –”

“The Weasleys…you’d know all about that, eh?” Draco continued to laugh and just before he walked through the door he turned at Blaise’s interruption.

“So she told you about the five minutes I noticed the littlest Weasley, but nothing of all the dinners she had at the Burrow? I’m sure she also left out her five day pub crawl through Dublin with George, Angelina, Ron, Hermione, Harry and Ginny…in fact I think even the two older ones were there and –”

Draco put his hands up and scrunched his face, “Zabini…just…stop talking. You let her crawl around Dublin with Granger?”

“She and Hermione phone each other weekly.” Blaise continued to chuckle as Draco took in the reality of Pansy’s new world. “She is going to kill me when she finds out I told you any of this.”

The blonde’s face still expressed his disgust as he responded, “I will never bring this up. The mere thought of it makes me ill. I actually can not determine which is more unsettling; the idea that she is friends with them, or the idea that she is friends with them and not me.” Draco smiled sadly before nodding his goodbye and walking out the door.

He apparated back to the hotel and tried to suppress all of the week’s emotions as he finished packing. With a few minutes before his portkey was to leave he sat down at the desk and opened his book of parchment.

23 June 2010

I am a bloody disaster right now and I have been since I arrived in America. Correction…I have been a bloody disaster since I walked into Pansy’s pub that she named after a bloody dragon; with a lion’s mane for her Gryffindor. This afternoon I found out all about her becoming an honorary member of the Weasley family and having weekly telephone conversations with Granger. I’m not sure I even have the capacity to deal with all of that information at the moment because there is already too much happening inside me. I have been a bloody disaster since Pansy walked into my life when I was eleven years old; there are days when I wish she was still just following me around everywhere I went, but she proved to me this time that she’ll never chase after me again. I do not want to leave America and I can not believe I have to let her go again. Still what are my alternatives; leave my family? Have the affair she did not want to have ten years ago; even though I still say the only reason she left is because my father made her.

She has a wonderful life, runs her own pub, and seems happy. The reality of Emma’s death is heartbreaking; the idea of Pansy having a child with someone else…also heartbreaking. I asked Blaise if my father was involved in Emma’s death and he said no…well technically he did not say no, but…I guess I do not understand what motives Lucius had for continuing to go after Pansy? Why send Riley to mess with her life and why drive her away permanently? She had a child with someone else, obviously she was headed toward her own life and I had certainly not had any contact with her so…

Draco paused for a long time and his imagination started running wild as his quill crashed back against the page.

When Astoria saw Pansy in Diagon Alley did she have Emma with her? Did she know that Pansy had a child…and did she mention it to my father and he pursued Pansy to make sure that she did not have the Malfoy heir? She couldn’t have… Emma could not have been…mine…right?

He stared at the page for a few moments then saw the time and quickly placed his parchment book in his bag, grabbed his other bag and then held tight to the silver candlestick on the dresser until he disappeared from the room.


“Daddy!” Scorpius ran toward Draco and threw himself into open arms. He wrapped his arms tight around Draco’s neck and whispered, “I love you.”

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

Astoria approached with a huge smile of her own, “We had a brilliant time, but he really missed his daddy.” When she finally reached Draco she pulled him into a kiss then smiled, “We both did.”

“I missed you both too,” he kissed Scorpius’ head then Astoria’s and closed his eyes when his mind started to wander. But I want to go back to America right now!

Astoria lifted Draco’s bags with her wand and started walking up the stairs, “You two go and relax in the living room. I’ll be right down and you can tell us all about your trip.”

He set Scorpius down and watched him dart back into the living room. Draco followed quickly and sat behind his son on the floor; watching him play with magically moving action figures on the coffee table. He laughed as Scorpius told the figures to do something and then frantically moved them around the table; obviously dictated by the story in his little head. After a few moments Draco sat back on the sofa and started tuning the action out so he could focus on the prior week, but suddenly something Scorpius said caught his attention.

“Your mission…save Princess Emma…and bring her back to the castle safe!”

Draco quickly sat on the floor and looked at Scorpius with a haunted expression, “What is the name of your princess?”

The little blond boy looked up at him and smiled, “Princess Emma,” he picked up the small moving figure of a little girl with curly blond hair and violet eyes that smiled and waved over and over. “She was taken by the bad man…and the guards have to save her and bring her back to the castle…so we can play.” Scorpius quickly went back to his figures.

“Have you played with an Emma before?” He watched for some sort of confirmation and finally the little blond smiled up at his father.

“Before…before you and mummy were there,” he returned to his figures once more and paid no attention to Draco as he stood up and sat back on the sofa.

The blond ran his fingers through his hair and was staring at the little princess figure at the top of a tower made of books. Long before…before Astoria and I were there. What does that mean? And of all the names that he could have chosen why Emma? He must have heard it somewhere or… Suddenly without thought Draco blurted loudly, “Astoria…can you come down here please?”

Astoria appeared immediately in the living room; her bright smile faded as she observed the expression on Draco’s face, “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing…you can unpack later…come sit with us.” Draco patted the seat next to him and put his arm around her shoulder when she sat. They watched Scorpius play for a few quiet minutes when Draco interrupted, “Scorpius, tell your mum the story of the guards mission.”

Scorpius turned excitedly and started talking quickly, “These are the guards and they have to go…to that tower over there…because the bad man took Princess Emma and I want them to bring her back so we can play.”

Astoria giggled and leaned forward towards Scorpius, “And how are they doing on their mission?”

“They see Emma…when they sleep, but they can’t find her.” The little boy’s happy expression faded and he turned back to the table and started yelling at his action figures. “Go…find her…NOW!”

Draco looked over at Astoria who seemed unaffected by the story and he whispered, “He seems pretty upset that they can’t find her.”

“Well she is a princess after all.” She smiled, but it faded when Draco did not smile in return, “What is the matter?”

“Has he ever played with anyone named Emma? He just said something really strange a few minutes ago that makes me think he’s heard the name before or –”

“You know everyone I know and we do not know anyone named Emma. He probably heard it in Diagon Alley or…” she trailed off and looked from Scorpius back to Draco quickly, “What did he say?”

“He said he played with Emma before we were there.”

Astoria laughed quietly, “He’s almost four Love…he has a more vivid imagination than we remember ever having ourselves. How on earth could he have known anyone before he knew us?” She leaned over and kissed Draco’s head as she stood up, “Are you hungry?”

“No…I am tired though…would you mind terribly if I lay down for a bit?” He forced a smile and started toward the foyer before she responded.

“Are you sure you’re all right?”

“Brilliant…” he trailed off and faked a yawn, “Just happy to lie down in my own bed.” Draco smiled once more then rushed up the staircase and into the bedroom.


23 June 2010

I’m home…and I can not wait to go back. Scorpius named his princess Emma. He said that they used to play…before he met me and Astoria. I feel smothered under the possible secrets hanging over me…

Was Emma my daughter? Did Astoria know about her all along…in fact was that the brilliant little girl she saw in Diagon Alley that had her crying so many years ago? Did Lucius know and is that the reason he continued to terrorize Pansy? Did Lucius kill Emma?

Draco flipped to the back of his book and pulled out the stack of letters he had found in his father’s study and started putting together the possible pieces of the puzzle.

15 October 2000

Mr. Malfoy,

You indicated that I should alert you immediately if anything happened. Your son and his wife came into The Cupboard this evening. Pansy saw them, but I do not believe that the young Mr. Malfoy saw her. Still such a meeting could derail all that you have been working toward and I wanted you to know this latest development.

The emotional breakdown it caused however allowed me to further solidify my relationship with Ms. Parkinson. I told you that it would simply be a matter of time. I will continue to keep you apprised of my progress…you work on keeping your son out of London in the interim.

R. M.

Draco read the letter and blurted in a whisper to himself, “Obviously this is the night Astoria and I went to that Muggle pub to celebrate my promotion. Pansy was the one who dropped the tray of glasses…when she saw us. She was right there for me to save and yet again I could not deliver.”

8 February 2001

Mr. Malfoy,

It happened today…everyone is well and I as always await further instruction.

R. M.

“What happened? Was that the day Emma was born? Was that the day I saw Pansy in the hospital? It had to be and…again I could have helped her, but I ran off because Blaise told me to. Is that why she was so determined to stay away from me…because Emma was mine? She was probably right on the other side of the door and I never knew.”

8 March 2001

Mr. Malfoy,

Just as you predicted Pansy confessed everything tonight. She told me she was a witch, told me about the past…everything about your son. I was worried when we ran into you and your wife this afternoon that the plan would be compromised, however Pansy opened up and sang like a bird.

All of your suspicions are confirmed…I anticipate your return with further instructions.

R. M.

“All suspicions confirmed. He saw Emma that day and questioned if she was the Malfoy heir. But if all suspicions were confirmed than Emma had to be mine. Why would Pansy have kept that from me? I would have taken them both and run in a heartbeat…she had to know that. Of course with everything else my father took from her I can understand that her worst nightmare would have been Lucius taking Emma too…and no doubt that is exactly what he was trying to do…”

5 April 2001

Mr. Malfoy,

I’m afraid I have bad news; Zabini apparated them out of London. I’m not sure how, but he must have figured out that something was not right. I almost had her and the next thing I knew they were gone.

I await your instructions and continue to try and determine where they have gone, but somehow I imagine you have more advanced magical devices at your disposal for locating them. You know where I can be found.

R. M.

“And this is where his plan went horribly wrong. Draco paused before exposing the last letter in the stack of aged parchment. His heart sank to its lowest point and tears started to form in his eyes. He was consumed by the pain of finally knowing what it was Pansy needed when she had sent the torn parchment in his hand and the devastation of knowing he never came to her rescue.

26 February 2003

Draco,

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

He considered apparating to the Muggle airport and heading back to America just to ask Pansy for the truth, but when he heard footsteps approaching he tucked the book under his pillow and laid his head down. He fought for focus amid the myriad of emotions and thoughts rushing through him. Finally he heard the door open and flinched when he felt Astoria climb on the bed next to him.

It was undeniable that the feel of her fingers weaving through his hair provided an unexpected peace. The sensation of her breath on the back of his neck and the closeness that had crept up on him calmed all of his senses and after a few minutes he turned over and smiled sadly, “You know how much I love you right?”

“Of course I do,” she kissed him gently and rested her forehead against his, “I’m worried about you Love. Was America really that bad? Did something –”

He interrupted with a quick kiss and pulled her closer, “I’m just tired, disorientated I suppose; must have been the portkey. I’ll be put back together soon enough.” When I know the truth finally…

Draco closed his eyes and eventually he did fall asleep in Astoria’s arms.


More than a month passed and each day Draco fought for focus in every aspect of his life. Finding Pansy in America, putting together all the clues that led to Emma being his child seemed to command nearly all of Draco’s attention and finally he decided he had to go back. He waited patiently for another American assignment to surface, but when destiny remained unkind he decided to fabricate a reason to return and though he may have only a few days there it would be enough to talk to Pansy about the truth.

He intended to wait until after Scorpius’ birthday to make his move and in the weeks leading up to the day there had been an unavoidable tension at the Manor. One morning before work Draco sat at the breakfast table and flipped through the paper wondering when it would be best to announce his assignment. He smiled up at Astoria who seemed somewhat cheerier than she had in weeks, “You look tired…too much birthday party planning?”

Astoria set Draco’s coffee in front of him and sat down at his side, “I was thinking that we could have your mum watch Scorpius this weekend and maybe we could go out.”

“I will probably have to work this weekend. I still have not finished that case in America, but next weekend perhaps we can go into London.” Draco leaned over and kissed Astoria’s head then continued reading his newspaper. I have to figure this out first…then we can move on.

The blond woman smiled sadly and stood from the table. She finished packing Draco’s lunch and started to leave the kitchen when she stopped and interrupted the silence, “You found Pansy didn’t you?”

Draco looked up with incredible surprise, “Why would you ask me that?”

“Because you have been pulling away and it all feels very familiar.” Astoria walked back over to the table and sat next to him, “I have been dreading this moment from the beginning, but especially since your father died. I guess I am just asking for a little warning… I mean…if our arrangement has changed.”

“If our arrangement has changed? Funny…I thought we had a marriage.” It was amazing to Draco how much her statement had actually hurt him; he stood from the table and walked into the living room more determined than ever to go back to America.

“You didn’t answer the question,” tears fell down Astoria’s face as she walked into the living room and stood behind her husband waiting for him to turn around. “We have a brilliant marriage except for the times that Pansy is around and you’ll forgive me, but this feels like one of those times.”

Draco turned and though he saw her tears he could not control the anger that continued to build inside him. “When exactly, since we’ve been married, has Pansy been around? You and my parents have seen her, but she’s been missing to me for almost a decade and –”

“Don’t insult me, Draco, by trying to deny that Pansy has been a part of your life since the day you entered this life with me. There is nothing stopping you now and I only want the courtesy of the truth if you decide to pursue her.” Astoria looked down and took a long deep breath before looking back up at Draco’s pained face, “Did you find her?”

He could not pull his eyes from hers; and he could not lie no matter how badly he wanted to. After a short pause he whispered, “She’s been in America…and I walked into her pub the first night I was there. She wasn’t there that night, but I went back and all of a sudden she was standing at my table. The only reason that I did not tell you is because I knew that you would immediately think I was about throw away everything that we have built together; that somehow we would go back to the days of you believing I don’t love you –”

“Can you blame me? I’m quite sure that your love story with Pansy was once described to me as epic; and though she assured me that you love me I can not help but realize that she could ruin everything…if she hasn’t already.” Astoria walked over to an overstuffed chair and flopped down, “So is that why you are going back to America…you know what…I don’t want to know. When are you leaving?”

Draco walked over and sat down on the coffee table across from Astoria, “Nothing happened; and I’m sorry if telling you this ruins everything, but I do not want to lie to you.”

“And I appreciate that, but…what do you see happening next, Draco? Can I expect you will just be bouncing back and forth randomly; or should I just assume that is where you are every time you have to travel?” She stood and walked past him toward the foyer.

“Comforting to know you have so much faith in me, Astoria.” Draco stood and followed her. He shouted as she continued up the stairs, “If I didn’t know better I’d think maybe you want me to leave so that you don’t have to be the one to do it.”

Astoria turned around and rushed down the stairs towards him, “And what is that supposed to mean?”

Draco started to speak when an owl flew in through an open window and onto the banister. He reached over to untie the parchment and released the owl before reading to himself:

15 July 2010

Malfoy,

Received word that your case in America has taken a turn and your presence is required. You will leave by portkey on 1 August 2010 and should only be gone a few days. As promised you will be here for your son’s birthday.

Markman

It is a sign… Draco looked up at Astoria then held out the parchment, “See it with your own eyes so we have no reason to argue about it. I have to travel back to America for work –

Astoria rolled her eyes and started up the stairs, “Don’t patronize me, Draco.”

“You are the one who accused me of using my job as a means to initiate an affair,” he started up the stairs after her, “I honestly can not believe that you have so little faith in me.”

She stopped suddenly and looked up at him, “You love her more, Draco…you always have, I have always known it and now that you have nothing or no one stopping you –”

“Nothing or no one except the fact that I love you and the fact that we have a family, made a commitment, which I have not once strayed from.” He walked up to her and put his hands on her arms, “Finding Pansy meant that I could finally see for myself that she is all right and now I don’t have to worry about her anymore.”

“And she’s all right?”

“She’s had a tough time, but she seems to be well now.” He did not want to give away too much information because if Astoria knew about Emma all along the fight would start all over again. He kissed her head and pulled her into a tight hug, “I love you, Astoria; please do not start doubting that now.”

Astoria buried her face in his chest and her tears returned, “I just don’t want you to ever let me go. No matter what happens I know I can not lose you.”

“You’re not going to lose me Love; I promise.” He tightened his hold on her and started to wonder if his best course of action was to ask that another detective be assigned to his case. What was he chasing? Once he had the answers he so desperately needed what would have been accomplished? What did he see happening next?

Eventually Astoria pulled away and forced a smile, “I’m sorry that I ruined the day…I just…thank you for telling me the truth.”

“I don’t want to lie to you. I know that will only complicate things further. All I am asking is that you don’t stop trusting me.” He reached over and brushed the hair from her face; and though she smiled reassuringly Draco knew that at that moment everything was different.

Astoria broke the silence before it could become uncomfortable, “I’m going to get Scorpius ready and we were going to Diagon Alley…if you’re interested.”

“Of course,” he started toward the bedroom and put his arm around Astoria as he passed, “I love you.”

“I love you too.”


30 July 2010

I pulled a jacket from the closet this morning and it smelled like Pansy. I would have liked the opportunity to enjoy it for a moment, but I am haunted by the breakfast conversation when Astoria asked me if found Pans and referred to our marriage as an arrangement. I never thought about it that way, but I suppose she’s always known what I have always known…that I would never let Pans go completely. I love Astoria, but I have lost no love for Pansy over the last ten years and now that I found her I’m not sure what to do. Astoria asked if I wanted our arrangement to change and I do not know how to answer that question. I want them both and obviously that is a terrible idea, yet I do not think I could let Astoria go either. This is a bloody disaster! Astoria has been loyal and loving all these years, she is the mother of my child, and we have built a life together. She has done nothing to deserve the thoughts I’ve been having since I found Pansy last month.

Tomorrow we will celebrate Scorpius’ fourth birthday and the following day I will return to America to find out if my father killed a child and if that child was actually my first born. I will be faced with the ultimate decision of what I will do next. If I didn’t know better I would think that this is just another trap Lucius set to drive me mad once and for all.


Scorpius had the best birthday party any four year old could ever want; completely oblivious that his parents barely spoke one word to each other all day. By the time Draco retired to bed that night Astoria was sound asleep and the next morning she was gone for work before he even acknowledged the sun. There was a note on her pillow when Draco rolled over.

Draco,

I’m sorry I left without waking you, but I did not think my insecurities about this trip were a necessary addition to your itinerary today. If I said that I am comfortable with this, work related or otherwise, I would be lying and I think it is important we do not lie to each other. I pray that things are good again when you return. Please take care of whatever you need in America and promise to come back to me. We will be here missing you terribly.

All my Love,

Astoria

Draco fell back against the pillows and closed his eyes. There was no denying his situation was hopeless and that regardless of what decisions he made someone was bound to be hurt. After a few minutes he got up and prepared for his afternoon trip by portkey. Just before he was supposed to leave he walked into the nursery and sat on the floor next to Scorpius playing with one of his many new toys. He watched quietly as his son set up the new castle he received for his action figures when suddenly Scorpius looked up and smiled.

“Are you going to save Princess Emma, daddy?”

Tears instantly formed in Draco’s gray pained eyes; he reached over and pulled Scorpius into his lap, “I’m not sure that I can save her…I’m sorry.”

Scorpius looked up and reached to catch a tear rolling down Draco’s face, “Don’t cry, daddy… she’s safe now…and she says she’s happy…I just wanted to play with her again is all.”

Draco’s expression turned to concern and he forced a smile as to not startle the toddler, “You have spoken with Emma, have you?”

“In my dreams,” Scorpius reached over and picked up the small waving princess, “She told me she can not play again…that she can’t come back. She spends all her time waiting for her mum to arrive…she said it will be soon.” The little blond haired boy looked up and smiled sadly, “That will make you cry too…won’t it, daddy? But you shouldn’t cry…because mum and I aren’t leaving too…I promise…not for a long time.”

“You dreamt about talking to Emma…where is she waiting for her mum?” Draco could feel his heart pounding out of his chest and forced all the calm he had so that he would not scare Scorpius. At the same time his mind was swimming with attempted reassurances that his four year old was just exercising his wild imagination and not displaying all the signs of a potential seer. He watched as the little blond haired boy continued to stare down at the princess figure and then as he leaned over and placed her high in a castle tower.

“She’s in heaven of course.” Scorpius stood, turned and wrapped his arms tight around Draco’s neck. After a few quiet moments he whispered, “Emma loves you…tell her mum she loves her too…just before you come home…it will help her…help you both not to cry.” He pulled away and smiled at Draco then sat back down and continued assembling his castle.

Draco could feel his chest tighten and he struggled at the thought of saying anything in response to the strange conversation he just had with his young child. He started to stand and kissed Scorpius onto of his head, “Thank you…for the advice. I will see you in a few days.”

“I know,” he smiled up at his father, “And you will be sad…but I will help cheer you up.”

“I have no doubt you will be brilliant.” Draco smiled once more then walked out of the nursery. He stopped on the other side of the door to reflect on what had just been said; trying to separate what could be real and what was nothing more than a vivid dream influenced by names and situations he had subconsciously stored when they were spoken around him. Regardless of what was pure imagination the reality was that Draco could not rest until he knew the truth and with only ten minutes to spare he walked into the study and penned a quick note.

Astoria,

Things will be better when I return, I promise. I know that this seems just another continuation of our rocky past, but I assure you it is answers I seek not an escape from the life you and I have built together. When I come home it will be to stay…with you and Scorpius…I swear to you.

On a side note I had a very strange conversation with Scorpius this morning. Have you ever noticed him saying things like he knows they are going to happen…confident in his facts and more mature than would seem suitable for his age? I do not mean to worry you, but if I wasn’t sure it was too early for such a revelation I might think he sounded like a Seer. Pay attention to that over the next few days and we will talk more about it when I return.

We have many things to discuss when I return, but for now please know how much I love you and believe that I will come home to you…always.

All my love,

Draco

He folded the parchment and placed it on Astoria’s desk then grabbed his bag, placed his hand on a table lamp and disappeared from sight.


Draco arrived at the American offices of Magical Law Enforcement and started working immediately on resolving his case. Regardless of what his interaction with Pansy was destined to be he was determined to have his professional obligations met as to not jeopardize every aspect of his life. By nightfall he had the investigation back on target and after assuring the detectives he would return the following morning to finish up he left headquarters and rushed right over to The Piasa.

The minute he opened the door the familiar smell of the pub instantly calmed him and he was delighted to see that his usual booth was empty. He slid into the comfortable seat and focused on a menu to calm his otherwise giddy disposition as he waited for Pansy to acknowledge his presence. After a few minutes he looked up as Blaise slid into the seat across from him, “Should I be worried that her enforcer is the one to welcome me?”

“What are you doing here, Malfoy?” Blaise sat back and calmly waited for a response. He was distracted when a dark haired waitress approached with a bottle of whiskey and two glasses, “Thanks Love.” Blaise exchanged a smile with the girl who quickly started from the table.

“Aren’t you even going to introduce us, Blaise?” Draco looked from Blaise to the fairy-like woman and smiled as he extended his hand, “I’m Draco Malfoy…”

She smiled and shook his hand, “Yeah I know who you are. Heard enough about you that I could have picked you out of a line up I imagine. I’m Madi O’Neal.”

Draco chuckled quietly, “I’d encourage you not to believe anything you’ve heard, but no doubt it’s all true and I am the horrible man they have described.

Blaise rolled his eyes and Madi giggled, “Well if that’s true than they have been lying to me because I understand you to be a right fine bloke overall. Slightly tortured with the moods to prove it and a bit cocky at times, but you’re quite important to two of the most important people in my life so I’ve no issue with you.” She smiled then winked at Blaise, “I’ll be at the bar if you two gents need anything.”

Draco arched his eyebrow when Blaise finally looked from Madi back to him, “Important to both of you, am I? Then you are not here to tell me that Pansy refuses to see me?”

“Pansy isn’t here…she had an appointment this afternoon, but she’ll be back tomorrow. Now whether or not she will want to speak with you I can not say. So again I’ll ask, just so I have all of the preliminary information to divert from this next potential disaster…what are you doing here?”

“My case started falling apart and I had to return to put things back on track. I figured while I was here that Pansy and I could do more catching up.” Draco poured them both a tall glass of whiskey and he took a long drink.

Blaise mirrored the blonde’s actions then filled their glasses again, “What do you want to know?”

“I want to hear it from Pansy…no offense.” Draco took another long drink and stood from the booth, “Tell her I will stop in and see her tomorrow afternoon will you?” Without allowing Blaise to answer Draco looked up and waved to Madi behind the bar, “It was a pleasure finally meeting you, Madi.” He smiled when she waved back then nodded to Blaise and walked out of the pub.

He was trembling, but knew he could not allow any distractions from looking Pansy in the eye and hearing the truth about Emma’s father…and her fate. There was also the haunting reminder of his conversation with Scorpius earlier that day and the number of questions screaming inside his head was piercing. He looked around then pulled his wand from his pocket and disapparated.


Draco tossed and turned the entire night and by morning he could not wait to get to work and finish his case as quickly as possible. By noon he had completed his assignment and after several congratulations and goodbyes he rushed from headquarters and again returned to the pub.

He paused and took a deep breath before opening the door; hoping that he would not find Blaise sitting in his booth ready to deliver the news that Pansy refused to see him. When he entered he found Pansy sitting in their booth with her head down. He rushed to her and sat beside her, “Pans what’s the matter? Are you ill?”

She raised her head and smiled, “Malfoy, what are you doing here? I thought you were here to work.” Pansy put her head back down as if it was taking all of her strength to hold it up at all. “You should just…go home…”

“Well I certainly can’t leave you in this state. Is there someone else who can run this place so you can go home?” Draco brushed away the hair that had fallen in her face when she looked up at him, “Let me take you home.”

“I’m fine…I just have a headache is all; and no one is coming in until later so I have to set up for the after work rush.” She smiled and pushed him out of the way as she slid out of the booth; noticing how close Draco remained when he stood. “Can I get you anything or –” Pansy felt her knees start to buckle and grabbed onto Draco’s arms.

He held tight to her and was slipping into complete panic. He picked her up when she did not steady, “Where do you live; I’m taking you home.”

Pansy closed her eyes and took a deep breath, “Put me down, Draco, I’m fine. I haven’t eaten anything and –”

“Then I will take you for something to eat,” he paused and put her down, but she immediately started to collapse, “Yes, I can see that you are fine.” He picked her up again, “Tell me where you live or I will apparate us to London.”

She reached down and pulled her wand from her boot, “Just hold onto me all right.” Pansy wrapped her arms feebly around Draco’s neck and they disapparated from the pub.


Draco settled Pansy on the sofa of her living room, complete with blankets, pillows and tea then sat down next to her. “Are you comfortable? Do you think you need to see a Healer or –”

“No! I’m comfortable and I will feel better once I have had some sleep. Thank you for bringing me home, but…you should go now.” Pansy pulled the blanket up to her neck and continued to shiver beneath it.”

“I’m not leaving you alone,” he reached up and felt her forehead, “You are burning up. What Healer do you see here?”

“I see a doctor, and he can not do anything trust me.” She started to stand, but sat back down, “Draco, I promise I will be fine just…I’ll call Blaise or Madi and they will come over.”

He moved closer and put his arm around her, “Please let me help you. I will do anything.”

She sat sideways on the sofa and looked at him, “I want you to promise me something.”

“The last time you asked me to promise you something it meant walking away from you so I guess it all depends on the request.” Draco smiled, but when Pansy’s eyes lowered his expression faded, “I can’t walk away from you again, Pansy. Please don’t ask me to.”

Tears fell down Pansy’s face and she wiped them swiftly as she responded, “We have always been from different worlds, Draco; especially now. You have a wife and a son and a career at the Ministry of Magic and I am a Muggle pub owner in America.”

“You aren’t serious? Pans you are a witch, you may have stopped using your wand, but you will always be magical.” He reached over and took her hand, “I love you, as much now as I did two decades ago when I hadn’t even realized it yet.”

She squeezed his hand before pulling hers away and tucking it under the blanket, “You can love me without destroying your life…but you can not have us both and I can not have you here…because I do not choose to share and you are no longer just mine.”

“And it would be easier to just never see me again?” Tears formed in Draco’s eyes when Pansy nodded and he backed away from her slightly, “I don’t believe you.”

“There is too much bad woven in with the good, Draco; and every time you are here I start counting down the moments until you will be gone again. I lost you all over when you left in June and when you leave again this time I will fall back to step one. I honestly do not know how many more fresh starts I’m entitled to and I would rather just remember how wonderful we were without the constant reminder of how brilliant we could have been.” She reached up to dry her tears and rested her head back against the sofa, “You have to let me go, Draco…for both of our sanity. Astoria loves you and you love her and I will not be responsible for destroying the commitment you have made to each other or the person that you have become.”

Pansy reached for Draco’s hand, but he pulled it away before she could find it. His movement was involuntary and startled him slightly; but there was no way to avoid the fact that he felt betrayed by her insistence that he leave. “I told you I would do anything so…I guess I’ll be going then.” He looked down and forced a smile, “Can I contact Blaise or Madi for you?”

“No I’ll call them in a while. Thank you again for bringing me –”

“Of course…” he ran his fingers through his hair, stood and immediately considered sitting again to delay the inevitable, but decided he could not stand to stay if he could not stay forever. “I love you… and I will love you for the rest of my life. I will regret everything we lost for the rest of my life. But I will respect your wishes and I will not call on you again. I trust that you will go on with your happy life as you have asked me to go on with mine.”

“I promise to live the rest of my life to its fullest.” She smiled sadly and started to speak again when Draco interrupted.

“If you ever need me please promise you will not hesitate and I will be here for you in a heartbeat this time.” He watched her nod weakly and before he tossed caution to the wind and pulled her into his arms again he continued, “You’ll be on my mind always…no matter what you ask…” Draco trailed off, consumed by the idea of walking away from her for the last time; he rushed to the door and apparated before even leaving through it.


Draco appeared outside the door of the pub and walked inside. He stood at the bar and waited for Madi to finish with a customer. It was taking every ounce of self control not to return to Pansy’s house and make her change her mind and even more power to keep him from bursting into tears. When the dark haired girl stopped in front of him he blurted, “Pansy is very ill. I found her here and made her allow me to take her home. She said that she intended to contact you and Blaise, but frankly I do not believe her and wanted to tell you myself that she should not be left alone right now.”

Madi grabbed Draco’s arm as he started to walk away, “Thank you, Draco…for coming here to tell me. And what about you…are you all right?”

He turned and tears started streaming down his face before he could stop them, “For the fourth time in my life I am faced with the reality that I may never see Pansy’s face again…I will never be all right.”

She let go of his arm, rushed around the bar and led him to the booth, “I’m so sorry…I knew that she would push you away and although for all parties I think it is the best way I am still so saddened by the necessity.”

“It’s not necessary…” Draco dried his face and rested his head in his hands. “I love her…”

“And she loves you. Pansy is the strongest person I have ever met, but she is not strong enough to keep saying goodbye to you.” Madi took a deep breath and sighed, “I wish I had another solution for you, but this is the only way, Draco.”

“I could stay here and –”

She took his hands that he stretched out before him, “She would never allow you to walk away from your family. Pansy lost a child and she would never accept you losing any time with yours.” Madi squeezed his hands and smiled sadly, “Tell you what…if you want to check in on her you can contact me and I will tell you whatever you want to know. You can send me a Patronus and –”

Draco interrupted with a chuckle and could feel his cheeks heating up as he responded, “I don’t have a Patronus…I wasn’t good enough to ever develop one and –”

“I am so sorry…Pansy and Blaise don’t have one either. I’m just so used to speaking with Harry that…” she trailed off when Draco rolled his eyes, “Oh…sorry…I forgot that you and –”

“No apologies necessary; from all that I’ve gathered I owe Potter a great deal more than I’m comfortable with. And I appreciate your offer…I may send you an owl one day, but I promised Pansy I would do anything for her and if she wants me to stay out of her life I have to try.” He forced another sad smile and stood from the booth, “Blaise needed someone like you…he was always responsible for taking care of Pansy and me and I often wondered who took care of him.”

“He’s well cared for now I assure you.” Madi laughed quietly as she stood and pulled Draco into a hug, “And they both love you…more than either is even capable of admitting… so promise you will take care of yourself in their absence. Cherish your family because in the end that is all we have.”

“You take care of my family here and I will take care of my family at home.” He smiled and fought more mounting tears.

“Deal…” she smiled once more and walked back to the bar.

Draco looked around the pub, taking in every detail then walked out the door and apparated back to the hotel.


Astoria rushed through the front door of the Manor and up the stairs to Draco’s study. She opened the door and found him sitting in his chair looking out the window. “Your portkey request came across my desk an hour ago and I was surprised to see you were already coming home.”

He stood and walked toward her then pulled her into a tight embrace. After a few moments he pulled away enough to look down at her, “It’s finished…and I could not wait to return home.”

She reached up and ran her fingers through his hair, “Are you all right?”

Draco paused thoughtfully then rested his forehead against hers and whispered, “Finally…” he pulled her into a long kiss; never letting her go as he led her down the hallway and into the bedroom.


14 August 2010

It’s been two weeks since I returned home from America and it all seems like a dream now. I can not even seem to find a clear image of Pansy in my mind and surprisingly enough I have remained calm despite it. I miss her, but it doesn’t hurt as much. She asked me for what she needed and I promised I would give her anything. She can not share, I can not choose and therefore I have had to accept what everyone keeps saying…that this is for the best.

Astoria was surprised at first by how quickly things were resolved here at home. I think she was hesitant to believe that it was not all a well thought out act when I first arrived home, but as the days have passed all of the tension and insecurity has vanished. As promised Scorpius has helped with any remaining sadness; in fact I notice he has not played with Princess Emma or mentioned her at all since I have been back.

Things are back to normal…whatever that means…I guess I have little time to dwell on it…back to work.

Draco closed his book and put it in his desk drawer then focused on the open file in front of him. After several hours of review he broke the tip from his quill and went to Astoria’s desk to find one of hers. He opened several drawers and finally found what appeared to be a new green feathered quill with her initials. He examined it a moment then his focus drifted down to a white linen envelope. Without hesitation he pulled it from the drawer and his eyebrow raised as his eyes moved from the embossing in the corner representing an elegant London hotel to the address of Mr. and Mrs. Draco Malfoy. He pulled the parchment from inside and read quietly to himself; when he heard the front door open he returned the quill to his wife’s drawer and sat behind his own desk.

Before Draco’s mind had time to wander Astoria walked into his study and sat in the chair across from him. “How has your morning been? Did you get a lot done?”

Draco looked up and spoke curtly, “I have,” he held the piece of parchment he had collected from is wife’s desk out to her and continued, “I found this letter we received; from a hotel in London, thanking us for our patronage and asking if our weekend stay in the honeymoon suite was satisfactory. Strangely I do not remember going to a hotel in London this past May.”

“I was in London in May…for those conferences remember?” Astoria folded the parchment quickly and walked over to her desk, “Where did you find this anyway?”

“In your desk. I’m sorry, I was looking for a quill and was surprised to see it was addressed to both of us and…well you know that I am terrible with secrets…I thought maybe you had planned something for us.” Draco’s tone was eerily calm and he stood and approached Astoria, “I was disappointed to see that you had been staying in honeymoon suites without me.”

Astoria looked up at him with a hesitant expression, “You were travelling a lot…and I thought I would treat myself.”

“Well you are certainly entitled, Love,” he brushed her face gently, “Like I said…you deserve all the perks in the world being married to me all of these years.” He smiled when she smiled somewhat relieved and returned to his desk chair, “And tell me…did Montague enjoy himself? I paid for the weekend so please let me know that you two had a wonderful time together.” Draco paused and watched all the color rush from Astoria’s face, “You had the audacity to accuse me of using my job to have an affair with Pansy and you have been cheating on me all along.”

Tears poured from Astoria’s eyes and she sat down in the chair across from Draco, “I went to London for the conference and he was there. It wasn’t planned and it just…happened, but only that once and I –”

“There is nothing you can say right now to make this better so please stop talking.” Draco stood and started out the door.

“Where are you going?” She stood and rushed out the door and down the staircase, “Draco please,” she finally reached him and grabbed his arm, “I am so…sorry, but please don’t leave…we have to talk about this and –”

He pulled his arm from her grasp and turned to her calmly, “We will talk when I return. For all the times I gave you to throw your temper tantrums over an affair with a woman I had not seen in a decade I’m sure you can allow me some time to process this.” He walked out the door without allowing her time to respond and his first instinct was to destroy something. He disapparated from the front of the Manor and straight to Ministry headquarters where he put in for an emergency absence from his post. From there he went to Astoria’s office, arranged himself a port key and within the hour he was back in America.

Draco was careful not to reveal himself to anyone besides Pansy because at that moment she was the only one who could keep him from reverting back to the cold, calculating and destructive person he was as a child. Astoria’s betrayal brought forth in him two decades worth of suppressed rage and angst and for the first time since he was a boy he could feel himself turning into his father. After a stealth surveillance of the pub he determined Pansy was not there and apparated directly to her house.

He found Pansy standing outside her door, fumbling with her keys. She gasped when Draco walked up behind her and she turned and blurted, “Draco? What are you doing here you scared the bloody hell out of –”

Draco interrupted her by running his hand into the back of her hair and crashed his lips against hers. The moment was desperate and rebellious and made him feel life coursing through his veins. When Draco felt Pansy pull away slightly he wrapped his free arm around her waist, nearly lifting her off the ground, and fought to hold her lips to his. The moment he felt her give into his embrace a wave of elation filled him and increased the intensity of his hold on her; unable to be close enough.

After a few frantic moments Pansy finally did pull away and backed up against the wall next to the door. She was obviously shaky and dreamily looked up at the blond, “Thank you, but –”

“No buts,” Draco closed the distance between them and pressed against her. He leaned down and brushed his lips against hers then pulled away enough to look at her and whispered, “Please…”

Pansy’s hands immediately moved to the back of Draco’s neck, her fingers tangled into his hair and she pulled his lips to hers. She eventually fumbled to find her wand in her bag, opened the door and pulled him inside. Draco kicked the door closed behind them and moved them quickly over to the sofa. He lay down and pulled her down on top of him, his hands reacquainting themselves with every inch of her body and his mind reeling at the divine brilliance of her lips caressing his once again.

There was no means of control for either of them, not that they even tried. There had not been a day when Draco neglected his daydreams of Pansy, but his senses were overwhelmed by the softness of her skin brushing against his as each article of clothing was easily discarded. He had survived on the memory of their last intimate moments together and lived for the opportunity to touch and smell and taste Pansy again. It was the truest sense of returning home and with every kiss and sensation Draco became more convinced he was exactly where he was meant to be and where he was never willing to leave again.


Hours later Draco woke in Pansy’s room and a momentary feeling of panic filled him when he realized she was no longer next to him. He got up from the bed, pulled on his jeans and walked into the living room where he found her standing and looking out the window. He stood behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist then kissed the back of her neck, “Are you all right?”

A long silence filled the room until eventually Pansy let her head rest back against his chest and she sighed, “I feel complete…and whenever you leave I will feel completely alone again. So I don’t know if I’m all right, but I’m glad that you are here.”

“I don’t know if I can walk away this time, Pans.” He turned her around to look at him and brushed his hand gently down her face, “Not a day has gone by in the last ten years that I have not been in love with you. I don’t want to lose another ten years.”

She rested her hand on top of his and smiled through the tears rolling down her face, “You know as well as I do that you can not stay here, Draco. You have a life and a family in a world where I do not belong to anymore. I do not expect you to tell me what happened that brought you to my doorstep, and in truth I am a bit disappointed in the discipline I thought I’d developed over the last ten years, but…I can not harbor any guilt. You had your reasons and there was absolutely no way I was letting you go last night…today is a different story.”

Draco shuddered when Pansy pulled her hands from his and walked away. He found that his anger was returning, though not over the recollection of what had in fact happen to send him back to America, but rather Pansy’s inability to see that what she asked was impossible. The anger mixing with the hurt became debilitating to Draco and he finally turned and shouted, “You don’t get to do that this time, Pans; walk away and tell me to live a life I don’t want. Yes I may love my life, but it was never what I wanted with anyone but you. And you shouldn’t feel any sort of guilt about last night because Astoria has had her own indiscretions recently.”

Pansy smiled bitterly, “Yes I assumed you were here on a free pass so to speak; leveling the playing field.” She sat on the sofa and ran her fingers coarsely through her hair before resting her head back and closing her eyes.

“You say that as if you feel used.”

She looked up into Draco’s tormented eyes and smiled slightly, “Not at all, but I also have no naïve illusions that anything has changed. You and Astoria were bound to stray from each other at some point, but once you have calmed I have no doubt you will realize that walking away from your family would be even harder than walking away from me.”

“I have never endured anything as difficult as leaving you behind Pansy and you were right before…today is a much different story. Today walking away from you would be impossible and I will not even make the attempt.” He sat next to her on the sofa and took her hands, “I love you, but more importantly I want you, I choose you…and only you.”

“And your son?”

“He’ll love you…” Draco trailed off when Pansy stood and walked back to the window, “It happens Pans…the best of marriages fall apart, but when two people are forced to marry each other, and each devoted to another…I’m surprised it lasted this long.”

“You love her Draco…any fool could see it and I know you better than anyone.” Pansy turned to look at him, “You do not have to lose everything.”

He looked down at his hand, fixated on his wedding band as Pansy’s words circled around in his mind. Finally he stood, walked toward her and pulled her close by the waist; he brushed his hand gently down the side of her face and whispered, “I only have to lose you… and it feels like I’ve spent lifetimes making sure that exact thing never happened. Now that I’ve found you how can you ask me to let you go? Don’t you love me anymore?”

“So much that I have no choice but to let you go. You have become everything I knew you would; loving and brave. And if you’d only allow yourself you could be free; the world is yours to conquer, Draco. Find beauty in the simplest of things, breath in and out and remember each time you inhale and exhale that you have risen from a destructive and damaging past and assembled a prosperous and respectable future. You have not become the man that stands before me by accident, nor have you done it alone,” she paused and reached up to brush a few random hairs from his eyes then gently ran her hand down his cheek, “Whether you would have chosen this life ten years ago what you have built for yourself is stunning and even though you are bloody pissed at her right now I know if you are honest that you can credit her for your success.”

“We have had a brilliant life together, but…” he paused for a deep breath and pulled Pansy closer to him, “There was never a day that passed when I was not striving to be the man you wanted me to be…the man you believed I could be.”

A long silence developed while Draco waited for Pansy to respond; and during the pause they never once broke the lock they had on each other’s eyes. An outsider looking in may have considered that they were reading each other’s minds, or possibly souls, and after a few more minutes Pansy interrupted the intensity with a smile and a whisper, “You kept your promises to me and I will forever be grateful for that. We had our chance to shine together Draco, and never in all that time were we able to inspire even a glimpse of the people we have become. Perhaps my contribution to your success has been the distance I kept between us. If last night didn’t show us we are a dangerous chemistry together than nothing will. And that is why I love you with every breath I take, so much that I know you have to leave and I have to let you go; love me enough and believe it too. Otherwise last night becomes something to regret, something we will both be tortured by and we will be no better, feel no different than at eleven, or sixteen…and we won’t be happy anymore so what then will have been the point of any of it?”

Draco considered reaching up to dry the tears falling down his face, but opted to catch Pansy’s instead. He leaned down until their foreheads rested against each other and spoke softly so his voice would not crack, “I can agree with everything you are saying, but I still have no concept of walking out that door and never seeing you again Pansy Parkinson. You are in my blood and my head and my every move constantly…forever. How is it possible, when you feel exactly the same that we find ourselves here…at another goodbye?”

“Because it’s meant to be. She reached around his neck and tangled her fingers into his silky blond hair and smiled through her tears, “We were always meant to say goodbye and this time we can function apart because we have seen that the other is truly happy. I will live off the smile on your face every time you talk about Scorpius and that is how I will imagine your day to day life and it will be what keeps me when I miss you most. Our love story is epic, Draco, but it does not need to end in tragedy and pain. We need to let our goodbye be better than our hello.”

“You punched me in the arm on Platform 9¾ the first time we met,” Draco pulled away from Pansy slightly and laughed, “For no reason as I recall.”

“I was trying to get your attention actually,” she started to laugh and the tension in the room started to lighten.

“Yes well it worked…though it took me far too long to tell you how much I noticed you all the time.” Draco could feel Pansy slipping away from him and though everything that she said was honest and real the idea of actually walking out the door and never seeing her again constricted his lungs. He was conflicted between pulling her into another passionate embrace and apparating from the room when finally he just reached for her and wrapped his arms around her tightly. “I will never love anyone the way I have always loved you.”

“I know that feeling,” she buried her face in his chest and inhaled deeply, “We just have to dig deep for some of our better Slytherin qualities…apologies, regrets…we don’t do that kind of thing. We move forward, cherishing the best memories and letting go of the bad.” She looked up at him and kissed him gently. “We have lost enough and caused each other plenty of unnecessary pain; its time to move on now.”

He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out and he had nothing in his mind to say. Instead Draco pulled her into a long kiss and Pansy did not protest. After countless minutes during which time he attempted to memorize every affect she had on his senses Draco pulled away and smiled, “Well…I suppose I should be on my way then.”

Pansy nodded, her tears never ceasing and she rushed toward the kitchen, “I’ll let you get dressed.”

The walk to the bedroom was excruciating and in typical fashion Draco made his paces slow and drawn out as if to further torture himself. He collected his varied articles of clothing from the living room on his way and eventually dressed sat down on the bed and looked around at the quaint lavender room; more girly than he would have ever expected from Pansy, but fitting for the woman she had become. He started to get up when suddenly his focus landed on a picture a top Pansy’s dresser; moving closer and picking the photo up he found Pansy sitting in the yard of what he imagined to be the Weasley home holding a vibrant little girl with sparkling violet eyes and a head full of blond curly hair. His breath caught in his chest and he whispered mindlessly to himself, “Princess Emma…”

After a few minutes Pansy interrupted by walking into the bedroom and Draco looked up at her, surprised and with tears welling up in his eyes, “This is your daughter then?” He returned his eyes to the photo for a moment then back to Pansy to see her nod. He could feel the tension return and he continued before it could take hold, “Absolutely stunning, though I would have expected nothing less from any child of yours. You apparently did not lose your taste for blonds.”

“I wanted you…and since I couldn’t have you I was willing to accept the next best thing.” Pansy paused as Draco looked back down at the photo. She moved close and looked up at him as if she had a million things to tell him, but she remained silent.

When he set the picture down and looked at her Draco could see in Pansy’s eyes that she was ready to tell him the truth. The photo was enough to tell him that he was right, but he was desperate to hear it from her mouth, in her own words. Surprisingly there was only the need to know everything about Emma and little resentment for the fact that he was never given the opportunity to know her. His mind was reeling and he needed to break through the silence before his thoughts took over and he blurted out something that sounded like an accusation. “I trust that you had reasons for everything you did at that time, Pans…you don’t have to hide anything from me…ever.”

“I rationalized a lot then…convinced myself that what I did was what I had to do, but… there are so many times I question if it was all a mistake that Emma eventually paid the price for. I can never forgive myself for the many things she missed out on.” Pansy quickly reached up to dry her eyes and changed the subject, “I put on a pot of tea…if you’d like a cup before you leave.”

Draco reached out and grabbed Pansy’s hand as she started to walk away, “Pansy I –”

A knock at the door caused them both to look and Pansy rushed from the room. Before walking into the living room he could hear Blaise’s voice; Draco rolled his eyes and walked out of the bedroom.

“Oh my God Pans…we are so sorry,” Madi blushed as she smiled at Draco then started pulling Blaise back to the door.

“You two don’t have to rush off on my account.” He took a deep breath and accepted that this could not be the last time he and Pansy would see each other. He walked over and smiled at Pansy, “We can continue this conversation later.”

“Later, but –”

Draco leaned down, kissed Pansy’s forehead and whispered, “You’re not getting rid of me yet…deal with it.” He pulled away and smiled at Blaise and Madi, “Good to see you both again,” then walked out the door with a nod. The minute he was outside he pulled out his wand and apparated back to the hotel.


15 August 2010

I was with Pansy last night…she was mine again and it was the most perfect I have ever felt. Then this morning she listed the many valid reasons why we have to stay apart and I found myself agreeing with them one by one. I was ready to say goodbye to her…for real and for good this time. I actually thought I could do it. Then in her room I saw a photo…of her and Emma at the Weasley’s house…you may ask how I know, but trust me…Weasleys lived there. Nothing else mattered right then as I looked down upon the little blonde haired girl I now know was my daughter…my first born that I never knew existed while everyone else did.

I want to scream that I never had the chance to know her, but not at Pansy. I realize now, the day my father saw her that they both became a target and Pansy was smart enough to know that was a reality even before Emma was born. I know that Pans did what she had to and while I believe I could have helped keep them both safe I trust that everything that could be done to fend off Lucius was exercised. She was about to tell me…I could feel it coming and then bloody Blaise had to knock on the bloody door.

So here I am…back at my hotel and more confused than ever. I will give her another opportunity to tell me about Emma and to tell me to stay, but either way I know two things are true; I was Emma’s father and regardless of what Pansy says…I will not be walking away from her good…not now, not ever.


Draco went to the pub that night and Pansy was not there. He sat in the booth for a few hours expecting her to arrive or at least a send off message from Blaise if she had fled for good, but there was nothing. Just after midnight Draco walked up to the bar and tossed a stack of Muggle money on the counter, “Good night Colleen…”

“You’re leaving?” The redhead walked over and smiled, “Sorry she never showed up Love, but I’ll tell her you were here.”

“Thank you,” he walked out with his head down and his heart heavier than before. She ran again…without a goodbye…how do I move on from this when I could not do it the first two times? He considered as he reached the alley going back to her house, but at the same time he wondered if he could even handle another round of moral obligations and commitments. He was not prepared to leave Pansy and was less than emotionally equipped to endure another rejection. Maybe Pans had the right idea…just leave…no apologies, no regrets just…leave.

The entire next day Draco laid in his dark hotel room; talking to himself, writing in his book of parchment now riddled with everything from questions directed at the universe to very bad love poems. Eventually as his day of reflection started driving him mad he walked over to the mini-bar in the corner and pulled every small bottle of alcohol available from the shelves. He sat on the bed, opened the first bottle and raised it in the air, “To love…”


Draco woke the next afternoon refreshed and with a clear mind; as if the catatonic sleep he had experienced the night before had answered all of his pressing questions and determined his path. He showered and dressed quickly and rushed from the hotel on a mission that he was convinced could not fail.

He rushed into the pub with a bunch of wild flowers he had purchased from an odd street vendor and with the lightest heart he had known in lifetimes he walked up to the bar and cheerfully greeted Madi, “Hello Fairy…I’m looking for Pansy…and don’t tell me you have no idea where she is because I will not accept no for an answer…I must see her.”

The dark haired girl smiled and responded quickly, “Well she is not here that is certain. Pretty flowers though…I can put them in water for her and let her know that you were –”

“I’ll wait,” he smiled and took a seat at the bar.

Madi’s sad smile expressed her discomfort with the situation and she responded supportively, “Draco, I understand that –”

“You don’t understand…you couldn’t because she doesn’t even understand it yet. And that is why I will wait because I have to convince her that this is meant to be and that is why we have been given another chance…this chance…and I’ll not lose it.” He rested the flowers on the bar in front of him and made himself comfortable. “I assume of course that if she ran away you would have told me already.”

“She did not run away…she’s just not here and –”

“Can you tell me where she has gone?” Draco’s eyes were pleading and he feared that Pansy might be moving somewhere he could not find her again as they sat there talking. “Please Madeline I am begging –”

The girl smiled to disguise her annoyance, “For starters its Madison… if you insist on using my proper name.”

Madison? That is a boy’s name.” Draco looked at her slightly confused and waited for her to correct him, as if he had heard incorrectly, but when she only rolled her eyes he continued, “Madi, I am begging you to help me. I lost her once and I will not lose her again.” Draco took a long drink from the glass put in front of him.

Madi paused for a few moments and stared into Draco’s eyes; finally she took a deep breath and sighed, “Tell you what…I can not divulge where she is but I can tell you that she will be back tomorrow. She is not working, but she should be at home all day.”

Draco shot up from the stool, “Thank you…so much –”

“One more thing…I did not give you this information and you should know that I’m a graduate of Beauxbatons Academy…specialties include potions and divination so if you reveal my secret I will know about it.” Madi smiled then went back to wiping down the bar.

The blond grinned at her, “Your secret is safe with me. I should have known you were not a Muggle all along because you are far too helpful.” He smiled again before rushing from the pub and back to his hotel to work on a new plan.

He flew threw the door and toward the desk he had moved in front of the window when he was startled by someone sitting in his chair. “Astoria? What are you doing here?”

“Fighting for you…” she looked down and took a deep breath before looking back up at him and obviously fighting back tears, “I know it is probably pointless, but I am not willing to just let you go without making an attempt to keep you with me.”

“So your priorities have changed since May?” Though he was relieved and undeniably happy to see her again, he was still irrationally angered by another of Astoria’s painful secrets.

“I made a grievous error; a betrayal I can not forgive myself for so it is hypocritical to ask your forgiveness. At the same time I am begging for it, Draco.” She stood and as she approached him tears poured from her eyes, “I knew if you ever found out what happened with Montague that you would probably leave me and now that you have been reunited with Pansy… I would have hardly stood a chance if I had not done what I did…” Astoria looked down and gasped quietly for the breath her tears attempted to drown. “This was a mistake…I should go.”

Draco took a deep breath and turned around, “Don’t go…” His next movements were involuntary; he walked across the room and pulled her into a tight embrace as she sobbed into his chest. He appreciated the lack of conversation; his mind split in half between two of the most brilliant women in his world who loved him and who he loved more than he ever imagined. As Astoria continued to cry and whisper pleading apologies it occurred to Draco that his wife’s occasional flaws and errors in judgment made it possible for him to accept how she loved him so much; they made her human despite his constant belief that she was actually an angel. And there was absolutely no denying that he had been more severely unfaithful to her even before his latest trip to America. In that moment he realized that Pansy really did know him better than anyone and that leaving Astoria and Scorpius behind was more impossible than anything else in the world.

He finally pulled away and looked down at her, “You seem pretty sure of yourself Astoria, but could you ever believe that it is possible you and I can get through all of this? Can you believe me if I tell you that I want to get through it?”

“I want to believe it and that’s why I came here. At the same time I am prepared to accept whatever I can from you. I promise never to question you again, never to betray you again…to never stop trying to makeup for this mess I’ve created.” She reached up to dry her eyes and started to pull away. When Draco wrapped his arms around her waist she looked up at him slightly confused, “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Because despite the mess we have both created I can not stop marveling at how beautiful you are or at how tightly you are woven into my very existence. I have my fair share of apologies and regrets, but…a fellow Slytherin reminded me that we don’t really do those emotions well. So maybe our best next step is finally saying goodbye to the past and returning our focus to the future.” He kissed her forehead and smiled sadly, “Can you trust that I intend on doing that and then I will come home to you?”

“Yes…” she smiled slightly, but more tears fell from her eyes, “Is this real? Can you really find a way to forgive me?”

“We are going to work this all out, Astoria, I promise,” he hugged her tightly again, “I just have a goodbye to say and then we can really get started on putting everything back together.” He pulled away when he felt her body tense against him, “I love you…and we will work this out.”

Astoria smiled hesitantly, “I arranged a port key for every half hour…I had no idea how this was going to work out. You might not want to touch anything on that dresser for the next two hours and they will just disappear as they expire.”

“Thank you for the warning. Are you going to be all right travelling back alone?” In just the few moments that she was there Draco’s feeling toward her had warmed and he lovingly reached over to brush the tussled hair from her face.

“I’ll be fine…and I’ll be patiently waiting for you to return.” She kissed his hand as it brushed down her face and was surprised when Draco pulled her into a soft kiss. Tears fell again as his forehead rested against hers, “I never thought I was going to feel that again…”

He kissed her once more softly, “I promise there are more kisses in your future than anyone could ever count. I will be along soon.”

She walked over to the dresser and smiled as she picked up a tacky red and gold vase, “Scorpius sends his love and wanted you to know that you are close to locating the princess.” Astoria giggled, “His imagination is quite impressive. I love you…”

“I love you too…” Draco trailed off as Astoria smiled once more than disappeared from the room. He sat on the edge of the bed and lowered his head. Goodbye…simple enough right…it is what Pansy wants and I know it is the right thing to do…it’s the only way.


The next afternoon, after a confusing and painful morning of figuring out how he would actually say goodbye this time, Draco went to Pansy’s house and knocked on the door. When it opened Pansy was standing wrapped in a blanket, “What are you doing here?”

He looked at her pale face and down at her pajamas then smiled, “You had a holiday yesterday and today it’s the middle of the afternoon and you aren’t even dressed. Must be satisfying to be the boss…” he trailed off and smiled.

“Madi told you I would be here, didn’t she?” Pansy shook her head and opened the door for him to come in.

“Which one is Madi again?” He smiled and brushed her face as he accepted her unspoken invitation, “You look ill.”

She chuckled and walked slowly back to the sofa, “Well thank you, Draco. Compliments are always welcome.”

He rushed over to help her sit after surveying her weakened condition then held her hands, “I’m being serious, Pansy. What is the matter with you? I just saw you the other day.”

“It’s nothing…just a flu that’s been going around. You probably should not be here; I may be contagious.” She pulled her hands away and rested her head back against the sofa then closed her eyes as if trying to wish him away.

Draco moved closer to her and chuckled, “You are definitely contagious Pans; and I’ve been sick with you since the day we met.” He smiled as he looked over and saw her roll her eyes then continued, “Now what can I do to take care of you?”

“You can go home…I thought we already decided this, in fact why are you still here?” Pansy put her head back again and sighed, “Besides you can’t help me this time, Draco; if you could I would consider letting you…but no one can help.”

What in the bloody hell is that supposed to mean? And why if we are supposed to be apart does something always keep us from actually saying goodbye? He paused a long time then blurted, “Well I am certainly not leaving until –”

Pansy’s head shot up suddenly and she hissed, “Has it occurred to you at all that maybe I don’t want you here? How many times and how many different ways can I get this point across, Malfoy?”

The words slashed Draco’s insides from end to end and he spoke quietly, mindlessly, “I heard you loud and clear that time. I hope you feel better,” he stood and started to walk toward the door when a silvery figure in the form of a stag appeared and Harry’s voice sounded in the room.

“Pans, I will be in town tomorrow to check on you. You do not have time to send me Muggle post to stop me from coming. Please promise me that you are taking care of yourself. I’ll see you soon.”

The stag disappeared and Draco glared at Pansy and blurted, “So you accept Patronus messages and visits from Potter, but you don’t want me here at all?”

“I’ve already told you, Draco, it’s not what you think with Harry,” Pansy took a deep breath she seemed to struggle for and she started to continue, but Draco interrupted.

“Well I would certainly hope not because my worst nightmare is that Potter is the real reason you don’t want me around.” Draco stood and started pacing. “Is that the reason?”

“Of course not; Harry is married to Ginny and I love you.” Pansy looked down as soon as it came out of her mouth and Draco stopped pacing and knelt in front of her.

“Then stop being so bloody stubborn. We can’t be together…fine, but let me help you, let me see you from time to time and –”

“I’m dying…” she trailed off and tears started falling down her face, “And time is ticking away and I can not handle investing in you one more time then losing you far too soon; a sentiment I thought you would relate to.”

He looked into her eyes and tried to find the old twinkle that said Pansy could lie her way out of anything, but even she could never be so cruel, and especially not to him. “We need to pack you up and get you to St. Mungo’s immediately so that they can –”

“I know that you could never understand what has happened between Harry and me, but I assure you if this was something Healers could fix he would not be allowing me to die. Why do you think he’s coming here? To try something new…” Pansy pulled her hands away and ran them up her face and through her hair, “I’ve had episodes over the years, but this is different…it’s exactly how Emma was and I think it is responsible to prepare for the inevitable. With that said I can not have you here. I want to die with a clean conscience and I can not handle the guilt of destroying your family and having to say goodbye again anyway.” She sighed and took his hands, “You kept your promise to me…you have the life I so desperately hoped for you and –”

“I have a lie Pansy…I have a life that looks good on society pages and sounds spectacular in conversations at parties. I have a beautiful wife, who I do love and a brilliant son that I would die for…but at the end of the day I don’t have you and that may be the life you wanted for me, but never the life I wanted…no matter how much I try and lie to myself.” He looked down and lost his battle with his tears; after a short quiet pause he returned his eyes to her and whispered, “And if you think that I am just going to let you die then you are bloody mental. If you won’t fight for yourself then I will fight for you…”

Tears poured from Pansy’s eyes, but she still managed a smiled and leaned forward to rest her forehead against his, “I’m sorry Love…we can’t win this time even if we fight it together…and that’s why we need to say goodbye now.” She stood and stumbled past him.

When the bedroom door closed behind her Draco sat on the floor and leaned against the sofa. He closed his eyes and covered his face with his hands. Please wake up…this isn’t real…this can’t be real…WAKE UP!


Draco eventually left Pansy’s house and walked the streets of downtown Chicago until the sun disappeared behind the skyline. When he finally returned to his hotel room he was ready to destroy everything, but was startled by Blaise sitting in a chair. “You knew didn’t you?”

“Of course.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” All the strength Draco had to hold back an emotional reaction to the news that Pansy was dying was gone and tears started rolling down his face. “How long have you known?”

Blaise waited for Draco to sit then responded gravely, “I knew that Pansy had the same blood disorder as Emma and –”

“Eight years ago? Let’s not even start on the topic of everyone but me knowing that Pansy even had a daughter –”

“Draco, I am sorry, but this was all Pansy’s story to tell. Just like I never told her about the half dozen times you tried looking for her over the last ten years. I’m neutral and I hold both of your secrets very sacred.” Blaise paused and instead of continuing he waited for Draco to respond.

“And you trust Potter enough to let him treat her as opposed to the best Healers money can buy?” Draco sulked down into the chair facing Blaise and tried to calm his heart beat with long deep breaths.

“Money can’t buy Healers who genuinely love her and Harry loves her very much. They developed a bond even I don’t completely understand and because he is Pansy’s friend, and twice in her lifetime her secret keeper, I trust that he will move heaven and earth to save her.” Blaise took a deep breath and met Draco’s eyes as he continued, “Can you trust me and I will trust him enough for both of us? I realize of course you could never trust him completely.”

“I trust you Blaise…I just…” Draco trailed off and leaned forward, his elbows on his knees and his face resting in his hands. He could not say it even in his head let alone aloud; Pansy could not die and if it was Potter who had to save her from the latest disaster so be it. The blond finally looked up and brushed his disheveled hair from his eyes, “I need to go back to London and explain to Astoria why I will be staying indefinitely in America –”

“She knows…that you’re here at least. I searched all over for you and when I couldn’t find you here I went to the Manor. I’m sorry that I was the one to tell her, but I was delicate and Astoria was gracious and loving as always. She asked me to give you this,” Blaise held out a piece of parchment to Draco.

He took the letter and opened it quickly, reading quietly to himself:

18 August 2010

My Dearest Draco,

You lead the way with everything that happens next. I am so sorry for the news that Blaise has brought me today and I wish I was there to comfort you though I imagine there is little anyone can do to assist you with that now. I would die if I lost you Draco and it is the only comparison I have for what you must be feeling right now. Therefore I want you to have the freedom to do as you please. If you want to stay there, if you want to bring Pansy here, if you want me to bring Scorpius there even , we can stay in a hotel and you can spend time together ever day. I have no way to help you other than to say I will support whatever decision you make.

You asked me yesterday to believe that you would come back to me and I do believe that. You told me years ago to believe that you love me and I always have. I realize I’ve been jealous and petty and I want you to know that there are no concerns about any of that. I know that you can not leave her right now and I want you to find the best way to handle what lies ahead. If there is anything I can do to assist you know all you need do is ask.

I love you and I truly wish Pansy the very best in the world…even if that means I have to lend her you for a while. Please let me know what you decide. I spoke with Blaise and have arranged floo access at Pansy’s pub for easier communication and transportation…I hope she doesn’t mind.

I love you, Scorpius loves you and we are here for you…whenever and whatever you need.

Astoria

Draco folded the letter and looked up at Blaise, “How was she really?”

“I’m not sure you how you did it Malfoy, but you have managed to trick two of the most amazing women in the world to fall in love with you. She knows this is devastating and she feels powerless to help. She said that she wanted you to stay here with Pansy if that would make it any easier; she also said she was going to arrange a floo at The Piasa.” Blaise waited for Draco to look up before he continued, “I want to tell you that everything is going to be all right and that Harry will find a way to save Pansy, but I have already started preparing myself for the fact that that is not going to happen. And I won’t lie…I think you should be here…I would like you to be here if the worst does happen.”

“I’m not going anywhere. I hope to have all the time in the world with her and I may take advantage of Astoria’s offer to bring Scorpius here because I do not want too much time to pass without seeing him…or her.” Draco ran his fingers roughly through his hair, pulling several out on their path to the back of his neck, “This doesn’t feel real.”

Blaise just nodded and Draco continued, “Where is Pansy now?”

“At home, trying to rest while worrying about you; I should probably send her –”

“Can I go and see her? Do you think she is going to fight me when she finds out I’m going to stay?” Draco had not considered that possibility and could not imagine if she refused to see him; when the time they would have together was already limited.

“I was told to bring you back with me as soon as you were found,” Blaise stood and forced a sad smile, “She’s going to give you a hard time about staying, but I know she really wants you to.” He pulled his wand from his pocket, “I’ll see you at the house then.”

Draco walked over to the desk and sat, “I’m going to write Astoria; until the floo is set up I should at least let her know how I am.”

“I’ll tell Pansy you will be along,” Blaise nodded solemnly then disapparated from sight.

18 August 2010

Dearest Astoria,

You never cease to be an amazing woman and I hope you know that I appreciate how this affects you. I am going to stay for a few days, try and wrap my mind around what is happening and am actually planning on Pansy recovering and me being able to come home. Potter is on his way here as well and regardless of the fact that Pansy and Blaise are preparing for the worst I am going to put some faith in the chosen one. There has been nothing that pain in my ass has not been able to accomplish…and once Pansy is well again I will be on my way back to you.

After everything that has happened with us…I worried this would be more than you could possibly stand, but you are amazing as usual…even Blaise said so. Thank you, for everything you said, for everything you are willing to do. Just knowing that you are there, ready to help me no matter what…you have been a wonderful wife and this is beyond imagination of anything that should ever be expected, but you are there for me regardless. You really are my best friend Astoria and I honestly don’t know that I could ever tell you enough how much I need, love and appreciate everything that you are to me. I will speak with you soon.

Love,

Draco

He folded the parchment and put it in his pocket. His plan was to go and see Pansy then ask that Blaise assist with his international owl post. The reality of what had transpired continued to wash through his entire body in a gutting wave, but there was no way to approach it other than head on. He refused to give Pansy up and he certainly was not about to let her die.

Potter will save the day and when all is said and done Pansy will admit that she and I can figure out a way to be friends. She can visit London, meet Scorpius…maybe there is even a possibility she and Astoria could get to know each other. They are Slytherin women…if I know either of them they will want to become close friends because that is the best position to find a potential enemy. Either that or Pansy will die and all of it will have been in vain…

Draco closed his eyes and shook off his thoughts, fought back his tears, and raised his wand. He was gone in an instant, pulled toward what felt like the beginning of the end.


Pansy was asleep when Draco arrived, but Blaise and Madi encouraged him to stay while they went to the pub to take care of Astoria’s letter. For the first hour he sat in a chair next to the sofa, pretending to read, but was actually keeping constant vigil on the dark haired woman’s breathing. Eventually he let the book fall to his lap and focused all his attention on every inch of her; the way her hair curled around her face and the slight motion of her hands dreamily twirling her engagement ring on her finger. Each time she exhaled Draco swore he could detect the faint smell of lavender and a whisper that sounded like his name. He became obsessed with memorizing her, better than he had when he lost her any of the times before; just in case. Eventually he drifted off to sleep himself.


The morning sun grazed the side of Draco’s face and he opened his eyes when he felt a blanket being pulled over him. His vision was blurry, no doubt from all the late night crying he had done, and when he finally focused on Pansy’s face he could not help but smile.

“I’m sorry I woke you Love. You should have gone in the bedroom…that chair looks dreadfully uncomfortable.” She returned to the sofa and pulled a blanket over herself. “It’s awfully cold for August.”

Draco stood from the chair and sat down on the sofa next to Pansy. He crept under her blanket and wrapped his arms around her, “Is that better?”

“You have no idea…” she closed her eyes and rested her head back on his chest as he pulled her closer. They sat quietly together for a long time then Pansy finally broke the silence and whispered, “I understand you’ve decided to stay…for the end I mean.”

He felt his breath catch in his chest and was sure that Pansy felt the violence of his gasping for air while trying to respond, “The end of you being ill you mean? Yes I plan to stay and help you fight your way through this. I’m actually looking forward to seeing what Sain… Harry will bring with him today…the miracle cure I’m sure of it.”

“Call him Harry again, or even more absurd, if you two get along this afternoon, and I may die of shock.” She started to laugh, but in a split second tears started falling down her face rapidly and she buried her face in his chest, “I don’t want to die Draco…not now…not like this.”

Draco wrapped his arms around her tightly and his tears robbed him of anything he might have said in response. He rested his head against hers and closed his eyes; their entire relationship flashed against his eyelids like a movie and suddenly the fear of Pansy being gone from the world started to set in. If Potter can not save her I will kill him myself.

A knock at the door shattered the silence and startled Pansy right out of Draco’s arms. She started to emerge from beneath the blanket, but Draco put his hand on her arm, “You stay warm; I’ll get the door.” The blond walked quickly and opened the door; he felt his stomach start to come up into his mouth.

“Malfoy?”

“Potter…come in…Pansy has been expecting you.” Draco tried with every ounce of strength he had left not to twist his face at the revulsion of Pansy expecting the chosen one for anything. He stepped back and let the dark haired man in; relieved that Pansy was standing behind him so he did not have to make small talk.

Pansy walked over and pulled Harry into a tight hug, “It’s been a long time…I missed you.”

“Me too…how are you feeling?” Harry squeezed her then pulled away to look at her, “You are extremely pale.”

“I feel extremely pale…come in and sit.” She smiled brightly at Harry then took Draco’s hand as she passed and led him back to the sofa.

Harry sat in the chair facing them. He glanced at Draco then down at his hand holding Pansy’s and finally back up at the dark haired girl, “I’m sorry to have interrupted. I was at the pub first, but…” Harry trailed off and looked up at Draco glaring at him.

“Well this is one of the most uncomfortable moments of my entire life…and honestly who would have ever thought it.” Pansy giggled and breathed a sigh of relief when another knock at the door interrupted the tension. “I’ll get that…” she stood slowly and shuffled to the front door.

Draco took a deep breath and tried to look anywhere but at Harry; finally he turned when he heard Blaise’s voice. Brilliant…back up…

“Harry!” Madi rushed into the living room and hugged Harry tight, “We thought you weren’t coming in until later.”

“I was able to take the floo connection into The Piasa –

The Piasa? We’re not connected to the floo network…too much paper work remember?” Pansy looked around at all the obviously knowing faces then at Draco when he squeezed her hand.

“Astoria authorized a secure floo connection. It makes travel and communication easier for everyone.” He smiled at her concerned face, “I hope you don’t mind; but obviously it makes it easier for Harry to travel back and forth and this way I can come and go if necessary…but we’ll talk about that later.”

Blaise sat in the remaining overstuffed chair and pulled Madi onto his lap, “She got that set up quickly. Harry how did you know about it? You could not have received my owl so fast.”

Harry looked at Draco and Pansy then responded with a slight hesitation to Blaise, “Astoria came to see me at St. Mungo’s. She said that you told her I was treating Pansy and she wanted me to have access for quick transportation.”

“That’s one amazing woman you married Malfoy,” Pansy squeezed his hand and smiled before continuing to Harry, “So…you’re here and so is everyone else who needs to know… what’s the verdict?”

“I’ve run every test imaginable on the blood samples you sent me from the Muggle doctor and I enlisted the assistance of a team of colleagues who specialize in potion poisoning so –”

“Potion poisoning? What potion?” Draco looked from Harry to Pansy and became even more unsettled by Pansy’s expression.

“I’ll catch you up later. I promise.” She smiled slightly then refocused her attention on Harry who looked back at her apologetically before continuing.

“I would like to examine you and then we can talk about some of the options I brought with me. I made contact with a small magical medical facility in the city and…” Harry trailed off when he saw Pansy’s panicked expression; he continued calmly, “Pans, I know you hate –”

“No hospitals,” she shifted uncomfortably until she eventually pulled her hand from Draco’s and curled up in the corner of the sofa, “You can examine me here…we’ll use the spare bedroom as our own magical medical facility, but no hospitals.” She scanned the faces around her and spoke sternly, “Promise me…all of you…no hospitals.”

Every voice whispered their promise except for Draco, but when his eyes met hers they were pleading and made his chest hurt. He leaned over and kissed her forehead, “I promise.”

Harry interrupted their moment by quietly clapping his hands together once, “Well then we should not waste any more time. Let’s see how you are doing and then we can start the new treatments immediately.” He smiled at Pansy before standing and walking into the spare bedroom.

Blaise and Madi stood and went into the kitchen and once alone Pansy looked over at Draco, “You can stay until we find out what the treatment is going to be and then I want you to go back to London.”

“Well it’s good to want things Pans, but I will not be letting you tell me what to do any longer. Once I know you are completely well you can fight with me about my proximity, but for now you are stuck with me…” he rested his forehead against hers and whispered, “Deal…with it.”

Pansy smiled and whispered back, “You called him Harry…and you two actually got along for more than five minutes. Are you trying to kill me?”

“When Harry Potter saves your life I will be his best bloody friend.” Draco gagged playfully then stood and helped Pansy up.

“Thank you…for all of this, and please thank Astoria…I can not imagine being in her shoes right now, but I also can not imagine going through this without you.” She kissed his cheek then walked toward the room to avoid any response.

Blaise and Madi stood outside the kitchen watching Draco watch Pansy and when the door shut behind her, and Draco collapsed on the sofa, they returned to the living room and sat across from him. Madi reached over for the blonde’s hand and smiled sadly when he looked up, “How are you?”

“I’m a bloody wreck,” he squeezed her hand before pulling his away and running his fingers through his overgrown blond hair, “I wonder if I should go and check on Astoria since the floo is working…but I don’t want to leave and –”

“Do you want us to go and check on her and Scorpius? We can bring you a full report and some clean clothes.” Blaise paused and waited for Draco’s response, “You are of course free to come and go as you please. I just thought it would be a useful suggestion as opposed to you piling on the choice of who needs your attention atop your already growing list of emotional obligations.”

Draco chuckled quietly, “Being responsible for Pansy all these years isn’t enough, but you still feel the need to cater to my every emotional incident?”

“Its habit…” He smiled then leaned in and whispered, “Besides the way I see it Pansy could care less about anyone here but you and Madi loves Diagon Alley…” Blaise trailed off and he and Draco both laughed when Madi bounced in her seat with excitement. “See it’s a win/win situation.”

“I would appreciate it; and please tell her that I will contact her soon and will come back to see her and Scorpius soon,” Draco rested his head back against the sofa, “This is a bloody disaster.”

Madi and Blaise both started to respond when the door to the spare room opened and Harry helped Pansy back to the sofa. Madi vacated Harry’s chair and went back to Blaise’s lap and all eyes focused on Harry as he sat.

“Pansy needs to eat something and then lots of rest. I have given her something that will hopefully build up her strength and we will start her on a reversal potion first thing in the morning.” Harry smiled, but his expression faded when he landed on Draco’s under impressed glare. “Do you have questions Malfoy?”

“Yes I’d like to know about the potion that she was poisoned with.” Draco looked over at Pansy who started to speak; he interrupted, “Hiding this from me is making it worse, Pans. Just tell me.” If you say it was one of the Polyjuice potions I will probably go run into a busy street, but…

“Harry would you mind running to the pub…have Colleen make me a grilled cheese and fries and whatever Draco usually orders when he comes in?” She smiled when he nodded and watched as he stood quickly and moved toward the door.

Blaise and Madi stood before Pansy could make a request and Blaise looked down at Draco, “We are going to take care of that errand and we’ll be back later this evening.” They rushed to the door before anyone could respond and left with Harry.

Pansy laughed as the door shut and looked back to Draco, “What errand?”

“They are going to check on Astoria and Scorpius –”

“You should go home, Draco. It’s selfish of me to take you from your family and…” she trailed off as his fingers rested against her lips.

“I’m not leaving…now tell me about the potion.” He watched her look away and wondered what could be so horrible; then a dark light bulb went off in his mind and caused the hairs on his arms and the back of his neck to rise, “Lucius poisoned you didn’t he? And Emma?” When Pansy didn’t look up Draco stood and started pacing; fueled by immeasurable anger and the need to conjure his father simply for the satisfaction of banishing his soul back to hell.

She watched him pace for a few silent moments then spoke pleadingly, “Draco, it’s complicated –”

“I’m a potion master and I’m quite skilled especially in dark arts ingredients. Maybe I can help Potter, give him that one thing he’s missed because he’s so…good.” He walked over and resumed his seat next to her, “It’s worth a shot right? Certainly you know what was in the potion and –”

“It was something they gave me when I was in the shelter and…Harry knows the contrasting ingredients…they were time released in two different potions and…” she trailed off quickly and looked up at him, “Hopefully the treatment Harry brought will make all of that irrelevant and –”

“Two potions? So how did you come in contact with the second one? And what did the first one do?” When Pansy started to look away Draco stopped her by placing his hand gently on the side of her face. He wiped the tears that started to fall and felt another already damaged section of his heart crack, “Loving me has cost you everything Pansy; please let me help you.”

She looked down and whispered, “I’m not sure what the first potion was intended to do, but Lucius knew what was in it and the counter acting ingredient was in a potion Riley put in my drink one time when we were together.” She took a deep breath and looked up at him, “But none of it matters Draco. You want to help me and you’re here…exactly what I need right now.” Pansy curled up next to him, wrapped her arms around him and rested her head on his chest.

I wonder if those are the potions I found in his study…with the letters from that bastard he planted to destroy her life…it had to be. That evil, malicious, son of a bitch!

Draco’s body tensed with every horrible thought his imagination conjured though he never released his hold around Pansy. After several silent moments she looked up at him and ran her fingers through his hair, “I think I need to lie down.”

He shot up from the sofa and helped her stand, “Of course…this has been a trying morning and Potter said you needed your rest. I will wake you when he returns with the food.”

Pansy giggled as he practically carried her into the bedroom and tried to help her sit, “I’m not dead yet.”

“That is not funny!” Draco shot her a reprimanding glare then fluffed her pillows. He pulled a blanket over her when she lay down then leaned in to kiss her forehead, “If you need anything I will be right out there.” He started to walk away when Pansy grabbed his hand.

“Then I’ll save you a trip…will you lay down with me instead?” She smiled and when Draco crawled in bed next to her without hesitation she curled up in his arms and fell fast asleep.

He held her close to him and listened to her breathe until the rhythm caused his eyelids to lower and he eventually drifted off.


20 August 2010

Dearest Astoria,

I’m not even sure how I could ever thank you for being the person you are and being willing to share yourself with me of all people. Potter arrived yesterday and said you visited him at St. Mungo’s with details of the floo you established in record time. While I’m slightly unsettled by the thought of you being in close proximity with Potter at all, his arrival here has instantaneously raised spirits and though I hate to admit it I can see the love they feel for him and how much the connection is returned. What has this world come to and why do I have no choice but to believe that I will walk away from this experience having to confess that he truly is the man legend built him up to be? As long as he accomplishes what he is here for I will allow him to continue breathing.

Pansy is receiving her first treatment this morning and Potter seems optimistic. She was poisoned…a potion administered when she was in the shelter and then Lucius concocted another potion that would react to whatever she had been given already. The combination was poisonous and not only put Pansy’s life in peril, but killed her daughter. I feel suffocated by this knowledge and wonder if all of that evil isn’t inside me somewhere…the son of a monster with the worst of his demons still brewing just beneath the surface. Even more consuming is the idea that this is the legacy I have to pass down to Scorpius…

I miss you both a little more every day that passes and I will come home soon to see you. Tell him…and yourself that I love you beyond measure. Hundreds of thousands of wishes granted await you both so start making your lists.

Love,

Draco

Draco folded the parchment and slipped it into his book as the door opened and Pansy and Harry emerged. The blond stood quickly and rushed to Pansy’s side, “How do you feel?”

“Brilliant!” She smiled at his overwhelming attention and allowed him to escort her to the sofa.

“I brewed a pot of tea; would you like some?” Draco was moving toward the kitchen before Pansy could even respond and just as quickly he returned with a tray that he placed on the table then poured a cup for Pansy. After pouring himself a cup and sitting back he looked up as Harry rolled his eyes. “What’s your problem Potter? I brought you a cup, but I am not your bloody house elf.”

“Speaking of Kreacher…how is he these days?” Pansy smiled as she looked from Draco to Harry and waited for a response.

Harry poured himself a cup of tea and chuckled, “He’s gotten more ornery as he’s gotten even older. He’s good with the kids though so –”

“How many children do you have now Potter?” Draco took a sip of his tea and wondered why he had interrupted with a thoughtful question or why he even cared.

Pansy and Harry were also startled by Draco’s inquiry, but Harry responded proudly, “Three. James is five, Albus is four and Lily is two…” The dark haired man trailed off slightly, pausing for a reaction, and then continued hesitantly, “I met Scorpius when Astoria came to see me at St. Mungo’s. I was surprised to hear that her sister Daphne married Oliver Wood –”

“Wait…” Pansy paused to laugh then looked at Draco; a combination of shock and amusement dancing in her eyes as she continued, “Oliver Wood is your brother-in-law?” Draco’s expression detailed his annoyance, which only made Pansy laugh harder, “I’m sorry, but that is bloody brilliant.”

“There is nothing brilliant about it,” Draco rolled his eyes and slipped into a pout as he continued to drink his tea.

Harry chuckled then interrupted Pansy’s giggling, “Actually that would be slightly annoying…Oliver can be slightly annoying anyway.”

Draco looked up quickly, surprised by their common ground and Harry’s betrayal of a fellow Gryffindor that allowed them to agree. “Annoying is certainly a good place to begin the growing list of reasons why I try to be subjected to him as little as possible. Kudos for being able to tolerate him as long as you did…”

“Yes well I didn’t have much choice, did I?” Harry laughed and started to continue when Pansy’s laughter stole both men’s attention.

She smiled brightly and took a long drink of her tea before sitting back on the sofa with a contented look, “I never would have imagined that you two could ever be in the same room, civil and establishing ideals you have in common. I can die happy a happy woman.”

“Or you will live. If all I have to do is start bantering back and forth with Potter here that is no problem.” Draco pulled Pansy close and wrapped his arms around her.

“We can duel if you like. I had no idea our mindless vendetta was the miracle cure all along. That’s habit!” Harry laughed, but the shared eye contact he had with Draco was simply another area of agreement; they were both afraid of the one thing Pansy seemed so willing to accept.

Draco kissed the top of Pansy’s head and tightened his hold around her. I won’t let you go…never again.


20 August 2010

I just returned from the pub; I sent out Astoria’s letter, and now Pansy is sound asleep. Blaise and Madi were here when I returned and they took Potter with them to get something to eat. I’m not even hungry; too conflicted with everything that is happening to consider food…or myself for that matter. I’m trying to hold it together, but all that is happening here, all the truths revealed have sent me into a spiral of worry and doubt about everything.

There is no way to erase this poisonous potion from my mind. Lucius Malfoy, my father, the most influential male figure in my life…well besides Snape, but his influences are a whole other psychiatric session…I was raised by a man cold enough to kill an innocent child so what does that mean for me? Potter has the legacy of leading the magical world to victory over the darkest wizard of all time to pass down to his sons and I may someday have to explain to little Scorpius that his grandfather killed his sister. I wonder if Astoria would not be best to take this opportunity and run with Scorpius, as far away from me as she can…just like Pansy did. I realize now of course that she was never really running from me, but…what if I’m him? Certainly it must have crossed her mind considering I was horrible to her for the first decade we were together. What if there is no way to avoid the forthcoming break in my reality that will turn me into an evil, heartless, diabolical maniac? I’ve been close once before…and I have no mentor to step in and do the dirty work for me this time this time.

Draco closed his book when Pansy stirred on the sofa. He moved from the chair to sit beside her and brushed a few messy hairs from her face, “How do you feel?”

“Bad…where is Harry?” She tried to sit up, but collapsed back against the sofa and closed her eyes, “Don’t panic,” Pansy reached for Draco’s hand and opened her eyes again. She forced a smile and attempted to sit up again; this time successfully. “It’s normal for me to feel ill after a treatment.”

He tried to follow her instructions, but panic was turning to terror with every passing second and finally he stood frantically, “Blaise and Madi took Potter for something to eat. Do either of them have a mobile phone?”

“Madi does, but Blaise always makes her leave it at home when they go out to eat.” She winced as she shifted on the sofa and giggled when Draco nearly fell over the coffee table trying to get back to her side. She brushed her hand gently down his face and smiled, “I promise that I will be fine Love…just breathe because I can not help should you pass out.”

“Breathe…” he paused to take a deep breath in and exhaled quickly, “There…now what else can I do for you?”

“Go into my room, open the drawer of the night table and bring me the small green square thing that will have a cord wrapped around it with two little earpieces attached.” Pansy smiled at the confused look on Draco’s face, “Trust me, you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it.”

Draco stood quickly and returned with the item Pansy requested. He sat down and handed it to her, “Let me guess…a chosen one designed instrument to assist with your recovery.” The blond rolled his eyes as Pansy played with the contraption.

“Actually Harry had nothing to do with inventing the I-Pod and this is for your relaxation which will thereby assist with my recovery.” She leaned forward to put the earpieces into Draco’s ears when he flinched backward. “It plays music, Draco; you look like I’m about to administer you an electric shock.”

“How would I know that? What is podding?” Draco’s eyebrow arched and he felt his cheeks start to burn when Pansy laughed. “What is so funny?”

Podding?”

“Well you said I pod so…what will I be doing then? What is podding?” Draco rolled his eyes and sat back on the sofa, “I’ll just sit here and breathe…that is how I will relax.”

Pansy’s strength seemed to grow in the distraction of Draco dealing with a new Muggle concept. She moved close to him, put one ear piece in her ear and held the other out to Draco, “We’ll do this together…just put this in your ear.”

Hesitantly he took the earpiece from her and put it in his ear. Within a split second there was music pouring into his ear and he looked over at her with a smile, “What is this rubbish?”

“This is The Cure –

“Ha! I knew it…only Potter would invent something called podding.” Draco sat back, satisfied with his keen ability to figure almost anything out. Before long he was pulled into the melancholy tones and near desperation of the vocalist’s voice, and without even realized he was completely relaxed.

Pansy offered Draco the other earpiece then curled up next to him, closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep. The blond, swept into the musical world of The Cure was quick to follow the dark haired girl’s lead.


The next morning no amount of music or Muggle inventions could calm Draco’s growing concerns. Pansy had slept through the night, but woke weak and violently ill complete with headache, fever and the inability to control her stomach. Draco had moved Pansy to her bedroom during the night and all morning she remained behind closed doors with Harry; two agitated and pacing Slytherin men and a frantic witch going back and forth between them on the other side.

“Shouldn’t he be coming out here and telling us something at any moment? As if we’re not out here going mental. He’s punishing us.” Draco slammed down into one of the overstuffed chairs and Blaise mirrored him in the opposing chair.

“I’m sure as soon as there is something to tell he will be out here.” Blaise ran his hands roughly over his face and pulled Madi to sit on his lap when she approached. He wrapped his arms tightly around her, “I’m sorry you have to deal with us Love. I’m sure it’s not been fun catering to our meltdowns this morning.”

“It certainly gives me even more perspective about why Pansy is the strongest woman I’ve ever known. I can only imagine what you two were like during your adolescent years.” Madi kissed Blaise gently then smiled at Draco, “She is going to be fine Draco. She is always ill after a treatment, but she always pulls through. And you’re here now…she has everything in the world to live for.”

“Thank you…” Draco smiled slightly then looked down.

Uncomfortable and deafening silence fell over the living room that remained uninterrupted for what seemed like an eternity until Harry emerged from Pansy’s room. He put his hand up to quiet the three now frantic people approaching him, “She’s resting. I was able to calm her stomach and lower her fever. The headache unfortunately will have to run its course.”

“When can I see her?” All eyes focused on Blaise who appeared more afraid then anyone had ever seen before; even Draco.

“You can go in now, but don’t wake her…and one at a time.” Harry backed away as Blaise flew past him and into Pansy’s room. “Why don’t we sit? Draco, I’m sure you’d rather see her when she’s awake anyway right?”

Draco looked surprised that Harry had addressed him by first name and was even more shocked that Harry seemed to genuinely understand the feeling of wanting to punch Blaise in the face for rushing to Pansy first. Then again it was Blaise who had been there for so many years before. No doubt the sentiment of wanting to punch someone was mutual every time anyone mentioned that Pansy did not care about anyone’s presence as much as Draco’s. Suddenly the resentment subsided and the blond finally rejoined the conversation as he sat on the sofa. “How is she really?”

Harry was focused on the carpet and paused for a short time before looking up at Draco hesitantly, “She’s weak…but I have faith that the worst is over and that she is going to be feeling better in no time.”

“Are you telling me what I want to hear, Potter, or possibly what Pansy told you to tell me?” Draco sulked on the sofa, holding back tears that had been building for days and seemed nearly impossible to hold back any longer.

“I’m being honest…I think she is going to be better. I can not say how the treatment itself is going to work because it is too early, but –”

The bedroom door opened and Blaise seemed calmer as he walked into the living room and sat down next to Madi. “She’s awake…and says she is feeling a bit better.” Draco exhaled loudly and collapsed back into the sofa and Blaise looked over at him, “I wouldn’t get too comfortable; she wants to speak with you.”

The blond was on his feet and at Pansy’s bedside as quickly as if he had apparated. He sat on the edge of her bed and gently took her hand, “You scared the bloody hell out of me this morning.”

“I’m sorry…to be honest I scared the hell out of myself.” She feebly squeezed his hand and smiled, “I’m feeling a bit better now.”

“That’s what Blaise said,” Draco leaned over and kissed her forehead, “And now you need to rest so you can feel even better.”

When Draco started to pull away Pansy ran her fingers into the back of his hair and pulled his lips to hers. When they separated after a brief moment, and Draco rested his forehead against hers she whispered, “And while I’m resting I want you to go home and check on your family.” The blond pulled away and Pansy interrupted his response, “I expect you to come back, but for the next day or so I am going to be sleeping most of the time and I think it is important that you go home and see Astoria and Scorpius. I saw the look on your face when Harry brought him up yesterday and I know you miss him.”

“The look was more because Astoria actually took him to meet Potter; but yes I do miss him terribly.” Draco paused and gazed into Pansy’s eyes. The slightest twinkle had returned and he felt comfortable with the idea of leaving to alleviate the other knot in his stomach that was screaming to sweep his wife and son into his arms. “Promise me that you are not going to ask Blaise and Potter to move you into some secret location so that I can’t find you when I come back.”

She squeezed his hand and smiled; though it was obvious she was holding back tears, “I am going to be here when you return…and I want you to return.”

He leaned in to kiss her once more gently then stood and started toward the door. He stopped just before opening it and turned to her, “I love you.”

“I love you too. Please be careful.” Pansy blew him a kiss and smiled as Draco walked out the door.

He paused as he closed the door behind him then started into the living room to share his plans of returning to London. Please don’t let her die while I’m gone.


As soon as Draco stepped out of the floo in the Manor he wanted to return to America. He considered it for a split second when suddenly he heard the frantic pounding of little feet down the staircase and the ear piercing welcome he had not even realized how much he needed.

“Daddy! You’re home, you’re home, you’re home!” Scorpius had not yet reached the bottom step when he threw himself trustingly into Draco’s arms and wrapped his arms tightly around his father’s neck. “I missed you.”

Draco held tight to his son and once again there were overwhelming tears building in his eyes. Suddenly he felt a hand on his back; he turned and pulled Astoria into a long kiss before saying anything. As soon as he wrapped his arms around her and felt Scorpius’ arms tighten around his neck the tears became more than he could battle and rolled furiously down his face. He could not wait to go back to Pansy and knew once he was there he would not be able to wait to come back to Astoria and Scorpius. He was trapped between worlds, but happy to take all that he could from both. For now he was home and unable to let his family go for one second they had together.

Astoria finally pulled away and smiled brightly at him, “What are you doing here? I just received your letter and was startled when I heard Scorpius greeting you. I thought it was another false alarm.”

“False alarm?” Draco looked from Astoria to Scorpius who suddenly buried his face in his hands. “What happened?”

The little blond boy looked up and smiled hesitantly, “The other day, I thought I heard you, come into the Manor, and up the stairs, but it was not you, it was grandma Narcissa… and she said that you would come see me soon…so that night…I thought I heard you again…but it wasn’t you it was…the wind.” Scorpius buried his face quickly again, this time in Draco’s shoulder.

Astoria reached over and pinched Draco’s arm, joining with Scorpius’ laughter at the squeal. “Just making sure you’re real this time Love.”

Draco kissed her head and led her into the living room, “I’m real…now come in here and sit down so that I can look at both of you…make sure you’re real…with no pinching.”

“None at all?” Astoria’s cheeks rushed red and she looked down.

“We’ll discuss that later.” Draco smiled and sat down with Scorpius on his lap, “So…I hear you met the chosen one.”

“I like Harry Potter…and he’s not the stinky you said Daddy…he gave me a sucker and let me listen to mum’s heartbeat.” Scorpius smiled and whispered in Draco’s ear, “But he’s not as brilliant as you are Daddy.”

Draco hugged him tight and looked up at Astoria, “Don’t look so worried…I’m not mad. I suppose I can agree that Potter is not as stinky as I previously believed.”

“And how is Pansy?” Astoria’s concern did not waiver and she looked suddenly to Scorpius who interrupted.

“She’s not gone to see Emma yet…” The little boy trailed off and rested his head on Draco’s shoulder.

Astoria started to respond, but Draco interrupted, “Ice cream…I think we should go to Diagon Alley and have some ice cream.” He stood suddenly and pulled Astoria to her feet, “Objections?”

“Not when you just announced it in front of our four year old who you can barely hold onto now because he’s so excited.” She kissed Scorpius’ head then pulled Draco into a long kiss, “I love you.”

“I love you too.” Draco smiled and when Astoria took his arm he apparated them from the living room straight to Diagon Alley.


The Malfoys spent the entire next day together and after one more night of alone time for Draco and Astoria he returned to America. He sat in the booth at the pub for a few hours before returning to Pansy’s house; trying to put his life at home on the back burner and pull Pansy, the girl he had loved his whole life back to the forefront. When he finally knocked on the door he was surprised by who greeted him.

“Malfoy…”

“Weasley…Potter…” Draco smiled slightly and waited for the littlest Weasley to invite him in. “Ginny…I’m sorry…I’m supposed to be here…Pansy asked me to come back.”

“I know,” Ginny returned the smile and stood back to allow him entry, “She hasn’t shut up about you since I arrived yesterday.”

Draco followed the redhead into the living room and was elated to find Pansy sitting on the sofa, dressed and brighter than she had been in days. He was even more surprised when the dark haired girl rushed to him and pulled him into a long hug. “Welcome back…I’m feeling much better as you can see.”

Pansy tried to pull away, but Draco refused to let her go. He inhaled deeply, familiarizing himself with the way her hair smelled and the perfect combination of lavender and vanilla drifting from her skin. “You look beautiful.”

She pulled away just enough to look up at him and ran her fingers through his hair, “You too…refreshed and peaceful…it’s a good look for you.” Pansy successfully pulled away, took Draco’s hand and led him into the living room. “So how is the family?”

“They are well…and Scorpius made you this,” Draco reached into the pocket of his jacket and handed Pansy a folded piece of parchment. There was a rainbow and a sun on the front and a heart on the inside that said smile through the center.

Pansy’s eyes were full of tears when she looked up at Draco, “That is adorable. Tell young Malfoy I said thank you.”

“Of course…so…how are you doing really?” Draco could not take his eyes from Pansy for even a minute though he could feel all eyes in the room glued to them.

“Let’s take a walk,” she started to stand when Harry’s interrupted by clearing his throat. Pansy looked up at him and smiled, “Just to the back yard.”

“No further…I told you that by the end of the week you can go running all over town if you want, but right now you need to rest.” Harry looked sternly at Pansy then to Draco.

“That is easy enough to remedy,” Draco stood and picked Pansy up, “Where to my lady?”

“To the back yard!” She smiled and wrapped her arms around Draco’s neck as he carried her outside despite the questioning glances around the room. He set her down on a bench across the yard, sat next to her and pulled his wand from his jacket. There was suddenly a blanket from Pansy’s room in his hand and he wrapped it around her shoulders. “Are you comfortable?”

She closed her eyes when Draco’s arms locked around her, “Completely. I didn’t expect you back so soon. Did you really have a nice visit at home?”

“Brilliant. We went to Diagon Alley, flying around the field behind the Manor…Scorpius got a new potion set and we played with that for hours.” Draco paused and smiled at Pansy looking up at him, “But I missed you terribly the entire time.”

“Well I am really glad that you’re back…terrible as that may be.” She blushed and looked down quickly, but back up when Draco chuckled.

“You may be the only one. I thought for a moment that Mrs. Potter was going to punch me in the face.” He sighed and thought about all of the things he had done and said that would have justified such a welcome from any one of the inhabitants of Pansy’s house.

Pansy laughed quietly, “This is the first time that you and Ginny have been in a position to be civil. I’m not saying she’s completely let go of the past, but she understands how important it is to me that you are here and she is fully aware of how much you have changed. Just be patient…and behave.”

“I promise,” he kissed her head then looked up when the patio door opened and Madi rushed out.

“Are you two hungry? Harry and Ginny are going to the pub to pick up food.” She sat in the wicker chair across from them, “You two are bloody adorable right now. I wish I had a camera.”

“A camera! We need one…we need to take as many pictures of all of us together as possible.” Pansy pulled away from Draco and nearly bounced with excitement. “We need to get Harry to let me go shopping and we can take Ginny into the city.”

“We need to listen to everything that Potter says and make sure you get plenty of rest. You can take the littlest Weasley into the city when the master Healer gives you clearance and not before.”

Pansy looked to Madi nodding furiously in agreement then to Draco, “You are taking Harry Potter’s side?”

“He’s the one who is going to make sure we don’t lose you, Pans; what he says goes!” Draco kissed Pansy’s head and smiled at Madi, “You and Blaise should go have dinner with the Potters…and I will make Pansy one of her very favorite things to eat.”

Pansy looked up at him and arched her eyebrow, “I don’t know if that is really appropriate when you just returned from visiting your family…” She buried her burning face in Draco’s chest before she could continue.

Draco looked up at Madi and smiled through a fiery blush, “That isn’t what I was talking about.”

Madi stood quickly and laughed, “Well…I think that Blaise and I will leave you two alone for a while. Behave yourselves and remember that Pansy is supposed to be resting.” She started to walk away and laughed when Draco shouted.

“That isn’t what I meant!” Once Madi was out of sight Draco kissed the top of Pansy’s head, “Flattered, but I can not believe you actually just said that.”

She looked up and laughed; her face bright red, “I can’t believe I did either, but it’s the truth. Must be the treatment…makes me blurt inappropriate things…so what about this dinner you are cooking me?” Pansy buried her face again and laughed.

“If memory serves me correctly you are a fan of breakfast for dinner.” He smiled when her head shot up and a wave of excitement illuminated her face.

“Waffles?”

Draco nodded then scooped her up in the blanket and carried her inside. He was pleased that the other couples had already left for the evening and he placed Pansy gently on the sofa, “You wait here and I’ll be right back.”

Pansy grabbed a hold of his collar before he could get far. She kissed him quickly and smiled, “I love and adore you, Draco Malfoy. Somehow I always knew even when things seemed completely hopeless or when you made loving and adoring you the most difficult…I always knew that someday you would make it all worth it.”

“I loved and adored you a lot longer than you ever knew…certainly before I was aware of it myself.” He smiled and rushed toward the kitchen, “Don’t move a muscle…brilliant things await you.”

She smiled and rested her head back against the sofa, whispering to herself, “The more brilliance we can cram in the better…because I fear time is short.”


By the end of the week Harry had given his blessing for Pansy to travel outside of the backyard and she took full advantage of the opportunity to show Draco one of her favorite places in the city. They walked hand in hand through Grant Park and finally rested on a bench in front of the brilliantly lit fountain. The chemistry between them had returned to the same level of calm they had once experienced in the cottage ten years earlier; there was no need to speak, just to be close. They sat and watched the sunset; Pansy’s head on Draco’s shoulder, practically purring as he ran his fingers gently through her dark hair.

The treatment that Harry administered appeared to be working though everyone still seemed a bit hesitant about excitement; everyone besides Draco of course. The blond was adamant that Pansy would not die and took it upon himself to instill that belief in everyone around her. He even caught himself delivering a dissertation about the advancements in Healer medicine since Emma’s death; delicately of course. At one point he went on for nearly a half hour about how brilliant Harry Potter actually was and how his treatment was the one that would cure all of Pansy’s ills. As her strength grew Pansy even started believing all the positive declarations Draco made and became convinced it was his presence that was actually going to save her. Her improvement was remarkable and the atmosphere around her lightened as her one week check up loomed.

A breeze carried through the park off Lake Michigan and Pansy shuddered. “Even in the summer the wind here is cold.” She reached into her boot and pulled out her wand. Within minutes a worn sweater appeared in her hands and she pulled it over her head.

Draco reached over to brush down stray hairs all over the girl’s head and chuckled as he took notice of the sweater, “I can’t believe you still have one of your old school sweaters.”

“Actually it’s one of your old school sweaters. I appropriated it during sixth year because you were never around and I needed something that smelled like you.” She looked down and her body visibly shuddered; though she calmed as Draco’s arms wrapped around her again.

A long silence developed between them before Draco quietly interrupted, “I can never undo the things I did during sixth year; the things you dealt with for years before and the way you suffered because of me in the years after…” Pansy put her fingers to Draco’s mouth to quiet him and he playfully snapped his teeth at her, “I know that you don’t want apologies, but it doesn’t mean that I feel any less responsible.” He ran his fingers through her hair and down her face, “I love you so much more than I can even comprehend. And tomorrow will be nothing but good news…because you can’t leave me ever again…we promised a much different forever.”

“I could never have survived this without you…so thank you for never giving up on me.” She smiled as tears rolled down her face and she started to look down when Draco’s hand held her chin up to look at him.

He wiped her face and smiled, “Quite sure that should actually be my line love. You never gave me a reason to run from you and I am prepared to give you every reason in the world to stay this time.”

“I accept.” She smiled and kissed him gently then rested her head back against his shoulder and they spent hours holding each other as the stars filled the night sky.


The next morning Draco sat on the sofa, thumbing through a magazine from Pansy’s coffee table, but not paying attention to anything other than the closed door of the spare room. Suddenly he was startled by fingers snapping in his face; breaking his focus.

“Draco! I arrived and have been sitting here for almost twenty minutes waiting for you to acknowledge me. Do you sleep with your eyes open or are you just rude?” Madi smiled and sat back on the sofa across from him.

Blaise laughed from the kitchen and Draco smiled apologetically, “I’m sorry…I’m just distracted…and rude I suppose. Pansy is in there with Potter; the one week test to see if the treatment is working. They’ve been in there a while.” He looked back at the door quickly then forced himself to focus on Madi.

“Its amazing how much better she is; I have to believe that whatever the news is when they come out it will be good.” Madi reached out for Draco’s hand before continuing, “Our cheerleader can’t start looking worried now.” She smiled and squeezed his hand before releasing it then opened her book as she got comfortable on the sofa.

“What are you reading?” Draco’s eyebrow arched as he examined the cover of the girl’s book. The picture did not move so it was obviously a Muggle book and on the front was a shirtless and tattooed man whose face was partially cut off and who appeared to be a giant standing in the middle of a city.

Madi was instantly a little giddy and she smiled brightly as she looked at the cover and then at Draco, “City of Bones…it’s about Shadowhunters…and this one Shadowhunter…this is him on the cover and his name is –”

Jace!” Blaise exclaimed in a fake and swooning voice as he entered the living room. He sat on the sofa next to Madi and chuckled, “Draco does not care about that book simply because it is a Muggle book.”

She looked dreamily at the cover, “Oh that it weren’t a Muggle book and he moved.” Madi looked back up at the two men staring at her and she giggled, “It’s a really good book, Pansy is reading it too; she said Jace reminds her of you Draco.”

Draco looked moderately annoyed and Blaise chuckled as he responded, “Didn’t you say that this Shadowhunter was arrogant and moody? Seems about right.”

“He’s tortured by his sense of duty, truths about his family that come to light late in his teenage years and an evil bastard for a father that he feels an unreasonable loyalty to. This is the second time I’ve read it.” Madi looked up at Blaise then the slightly horrified expression on Draco’s face.

“Someone stole my life and wrote a Muggle book about it!” Draco snatched the book from Madi’s hand and looked at the cover, “That could be me if my hair was longer…and I allowed someone to deface my exquisite skin.”

Madi grabbed the book back and smiled, “They are runes…protection…they fade.”

Blaise rolled his eyes and wrapped his arms around Madi, “How can I compete with fading protection runes?”

Before the banter could continue the door of the spare room opened and Harry and Pansy emerged into the living room. Draco stood and rushed to them, “Well?”

“Things seem to be working.” Pansy smiled and wrapped her arms around Draco’s waist. “Let’s go celebrate…and tomorrow…let’s plan on having a barbeque or something. Get everyone together, eat a ton of food, see where the night takes us; it will be fun.”

Draco breathed a sigh of relief at Pansy’s renewed sense of living life. The sparkle had almost completely returned and he started believing that Potter was a genius and everything was finally going to be all right. The couples went to The Piasa that night and continued the celebration the next day at Pansy’s house. Morning turned to afternoon and by evening everyone had eaten enough to slow down the pace. As the stars cast over the sky couples started going off in their own directions for some quiet time.

Pansy walked up to Draco sitting on the swing in the yard and held out her hand, “Dance with me.”

“There’s no music.” He took her hand, and smiled as he stood and pulled her close.

“Rumor has it you’re some kind of wizard or something. Can’t you make a little music?” Pansy cast a challenging smile up at Draco and laughed when a pack of fairies appeared playing instruments. “Fairies too?”

Draco spun her around and pulled her close to him again, “Nothing but the best for you Love.” He rested his forehead against hers and whispered, “I’m so relieved that you are up and dancing and with me…”

“You realize that these last two weeks have more than made up for every horrible things that happened between us at Hogwarts right?” Pansy giggled when Draco dipped her then pulled her close against him again. “I suppose I should not let you off so easy, but you have been everything I daydreamed about. If I didn’t know better I’d think you read my journal.”

“Didn’t have to,” he smiled slyly and rested his forehead against hers again, “I’ve been reading your mind since we were eleven. It just took me a lifetime to find my feet, point them toward you and keep you from running; I imagine you could say it’s been a process.” He paused and spun her again then looked deep into her eyes when he pulled her back, “And since you’re going to live I want to talk about our future.”

Pansy instantly tensed from head to toe and she took a deep breath, obviously fighting for her words. “And what did you have in mind because I’ve already told you that –”

“I have heard every word you’ve said Pansy, but there is no way we can say goodbye after all of this. So I propose that we try something we have never tried before… friends. I know everyone says you and I could never be friends, but two weeks ago you thought you were dying and from the way it looks now you’ve overcome the odds. Maybe we’ll get lucky with these odds as well.”

She smiled and looked into his eyes for a long time before she continued, “I want you around for the rest of my life Draco…I accept however we have to label it.”

“I love you,” he rested his cheek against hers and they danced quietly into the night.


29th August 2010

The improvement in Pansy over the last few days has been remarkable. According to her and Potter the treatment is working and there is no reason to question it. She has planned this whirlwind day of sightseeing for us today; I do not even care what our itinerary involves as long as I get to spend yet another day with her. I am thrilled that she is healing and that she will live the long full life she deserves, but I am panicked about the idea of our time together ticking away. The decisions have not changed…I will eventually return to London. Of course Pansy’s birthday is in two days so I will at least be staying for that and…I don’t know when I’ll be ready to leave; certainly not before I have an opportunity to ask her about Emma. I’ve been waiting for her to feel better and…in order to feel better myself I have to know before I go back for good.

If only I could convince her to come to London…

Draco looked up from his book when Pansy walked into the living room, “You look beautiful as always.”

She looked down at her torn jeans and green sweater pulled over a white t-shirt, “I think you’re biased.”

“I think you’re lovely.” He ran his fingers through her silky brown hair and rested them at the base of her neck; tangling around the hair that fell past her shoulders, “So where are we going today?”

She took a deep breath as his hand moved down her back, “Well we are going somewhere that is not here before we get ourselves in trouble.” Pansy chuckled and took another deep breath, “I am going to show you all of my favorite places in the city. Starting with a little Muggle coffee shop called Starbucks.”

Starbucks…there’s one on every corner. I certainly hope you plan on taking me somewhere a little more exotic.” Draco laughed and grabbed his jacket from the chair as he followed a now pouting Pansy to the door, “I was kidding.”

“Me too…well not about the Starbucks…but once I have my espresso then I will show you a day you will never forget.” She took his hand and led him out the door.

“As long as you are there with me then my retention of the day’s events is certain.” Draco kissed her hand and as soon as they hit the walkway they disapparated from sight.


The sun was trying to rise on the next day by the time Draco and Pansy returned from their adventurous day in the city. In less than twenty four hours they managed to accomplish museums, shopping, eating, dancing in the park, carriage rides, taxi rides that terrorized Draco half to death. They achieved the complete removal of reality and to the unknowing eye it would have appeared they were the ones who had been married for the last ten years and looking forward a lifetime of similar days together.

Once they finally arrived back to Pansy’s Draco collapsed on the sofa and reflected on the whirlwind day. He continued to try and tell himself that the idea of being friends with Pansy was going to be sufficient to sustain his life, but after another brilliant day together he started to doubt if it would ever be enough. And then he started dreading the time when Pansy was declared healed at which point it would be time for him to return to London. He closed his eyes at the bitterness of the thought and was interrupted when Pansy sat down next to him and grabbed his hand. He looked up at her and smiled, “You must be exhausted after today...yesterday technically. Why don’t I draw you a bath and –”

“I need to talk to you about something first.” She smiled, but there was immense sadness behind her eyes and a distinct tremor in her voice.

After the sorted past that they had shared, Draco was able to sense immediately when something was wrong and whatever Pansy had to say it was obviously bad. He moved closer to her and rubbed her back gently, “You can tell me anything, but do you want to wait until morning…or at least later? I mean…are you going to tell me to leave? Because if you are then please wait because I am still floating from the day we just shared.”

Pansy looked down and tears rolled down her face and onto their hands joined in her lap, “I’m not going to ask you to leave, in fact it occurred to me today that I could never let you leave no matter how many times I thought about pushing you away.”

“Well good because I choose to stay,” he lifted her face before continuing, “I’ve been thinking about it for days and I have decided that I have to be close to you always. I’m so happy that you agree and…” he trailed off when Pansy’s expression did not lighten and her tears increased.

“I wish I had the choice to stay, but…” She pulled her hand away and dried her face. It appeared that Pansy made several attempts to continue, but nothing was coming out of her mouth and after a long pause she looked down again.

Draco’s heart was racing and his hands started to shake as he reached for hers again, “I don’t understand. You can’t let me leave, I don’t want to leave…so where are you going and why can’t I come with you?”

Another long silent pause developed between them and Draco wondered if Pansy was even paying attention until she looked up at him suddenly. Her eyes were pleading and full of tears waiting to fall; she whispered when she finally spoke. “I lied to you…after my meeting with Harry on Saturday. I told you that the treatment was working, and it was…at first, but…the infection has spread…to my heart and…now it’s officially broken because I finally have you back, but I have to leave again.” Pansy reached up to dry the tears falling down Draco’s face, “I’m so sorry…that I let this happen, even though I swore I would not let you get close to me again…and now your heart will be broken too.”

For a long time Draco just sat very still. He was looking at Pansy, but he could not focus on anything other than the irrational need he had to punch something or scream at someone. They finally both agreed that what they had together was something more brilliant than anything in the world; something they could not walk away from again. After everything that they had been through how could the universe deny them another chance? How after all the years that had passed was karma still so angry or destiny determined to destroy them?

There were a million things that Draco considered saying at that moment. More powerfully motivating and positive speeches about how they had overcome everything and this would be no different, but he saw something new in Pansy’s eyes and her acceptance of the inevitable told him that the only thing he need prepare to say was goodbye. Finally he cleared his throat, doing nothing to dissipate the lump that had developed, which caused his voice to crack, “What else did Harry say?”

“He has returned to London to convene with his colleagues and his journals, but…the treatments would be risky and I’m not willing to sacrifice any time I have left. That is why I planned today; because I wanted to show you all of my favorite places in Chicago before it was too late. I made the mistake of wasting my time with Emma and I will not make the same mistake with you.” She squeezed his hand and started to continue when Draco interrupted.

He leaned forward until his forehead rested against hers and he spoke softly, “Well if today is any indication of your strength then we will have years together Pans.” Draco paused to pull her into a long kiss and when they separated he kept his head rested against hers, “And they are going to be brilliant.”

“I know they will…” she trailed off and tears once again streamed furiously down her cheeks, “Though I think you should prepare for months…maybe weeks only because…the infection will progress quickly now that it’s in my heart. I guess that’s because I didn’t use it enough when I was younger that it’s not as strong as it should be.” Pansy ran her fingers through his hair and gently down his cheek, “I think the only thing that’s kept me this long are the people who reside there…you are a permanent fixture.”

Draco rested his hands on the sides of Pansy’s arms and pulled away enough to look her in the eyes, “And I will fight and claw to keep you here Pans. You’d never intentionally hurt me so you can not under any circumstances give up because losing you again…forever…will destroy me. No one in your heart can have the pull I have.”

“I’ve got you pulling me from one side…” Pansy trailed off and her tears caused a painful sounding gasp for air as she continued, “And Emma on the other…” Before she could continue or Draco could react Pansy pulled away from him and rushed to her room.

Draco sat motionless on the sofa except for the tears rolling like burning acid down his pale cheeks. She spends all her time waiting for her mum to arrive…she said it will be soon. Scorpius’ words drilled through Draco’s mind and a wave of adrenaline rushed through his entire body. He stood, paused to look at Pansy’s room and to absorb the sound of her labored sobs, then picked up his wand and walked out the front door.


30 August 2010

The infection has spread to her heart…one may question if I was the infection all along…the one that attacked her heart when she was eleven therefore I am the one who caused all of the initial damage. I thought we were having a day that made up for all of the horrible days we spent apart. I thought we were pledging to stay together and all she was doing is saying goodbye. I thought we would be celebrating her birthday tomorrow and the start of a new life together and instead it will be just a countdown…to months or weeks.

I’ve been sitting in a bloody Starbucks all bloody day trying to figure out how I will ever survive without her. I used all of those energies during the last ten years and now that I have her back I challenge the universe to take her from me again. Of course I’ve probably ruined my chances of spending what little time we have left with her anyway. I’m sure my disappearing act this morning will be more than frowned upon by her Calvary. Blaise will probably curse me on sight.

The sun in setting and the odd Muggles are starting to fill the streets. I should go back and talk to Potter about him finally sharing the details of this potion so that I can try and come up with a way to save Pans myself. I have to make sure I don’t end up banished from her side and the longer I sit here the more likely I am to be shunned.

SHE CAN NOT DIE! I WILL NOT ACCEPT THIS! I WILL NOT LOSE HER AGAIN AND I WILL NOT ALLOW MY FATHER TO TAKE ANYTHING MORE FROM ME!

Draco slammed his book shut, pulled his wand from his jacket and disapparated from the café with no care about the surrounding Muggles. He arrived outside Pansy’s door and paused for several long minutes before knocking. The blond looked up as the door opened and his stomach turned when he saw Harry. “I suppose its better you answered than Blaise.” He had not intended on vocalizing that statement, but started into the house hoping to just move past the blurting.

“Is that because you are under the impression that I hold less authority to destroy you if Pansy is hurt in any way? That’s naïve.” Harry moved backwards and rolled his eyes, “Luckily your little disappearing act did not subject you to such consequences. She understands how difficult this is for you and that you can only deal with it in your way.”

“I’m not sure how comfortable I am with the idea of you and Pansy discussing me in such a way that would allow you and me to be having this conversation right now. In fact, please refrain from discussing me at all.” Draco looked into the living room then back to Harry, “Where is she?”

“Madi and Pansy took Ginny shopping; they should be back in a few hours.” Harry returned to the living room and sat in the chair before looking up and continuing, “You are more than welcome to wait for her.”

“Am I? Well thank you Potter for your permission.” Draco surveyed the living room quickly then took a seat on the sofa across from Harry. As soon as he sat he wanted to get back up. Unfortunately his mind started to wander, to the day on the train when he had caught Potter eavesdropping and suddenly the need to stomp on his face again overwhelmed the blond.

Harry looked up from the medical journal he was reading and glared at Draco. “Why are you looking at me like we’re sixteen years old again and you want to stomp on my face?”

“How did you know that?” Draco’s annoyance took over and he rolled his eyes, “And if you’re using those Legilimency skills that my mentor taught you…stop it.”

“So the truth comes out then…you hate me because you’re jealous that you weren’t Snape’s only priority.” Harry chuckled bitterly and returned to his journal.

Draco reached forward and picked up a book from Pansy’s coffee table then pretended to pay it attention as he hissed, “How is it possible that no one besides me can see you for the self-important, arrogant git that you are Potter? What is your secret?”

“Well for starters I don’t generally express sentiments such as that, out loud, to other people.” Harry looked up at him and rolled his eyes. “Would you be more comfortable if I moved to another room or –”

“No! I mean…you can stay…I’m going to be reading this book anyway so I’ve no mind if you stay or go.” The blond returned to the book and mindlessly stared at one word in the center of the page.

“Reading the Mortal Instruments are you? The girls all say that one Shadow… Hunter… person…reminds them of you. Now who’s the self-important one?” Harry chuckled as Draco threw the book on the table as if it burned him; then he set his journal on the table and looked up at the blond. “Though it probably seems the most inconceivable thing in the world…if you want to talk –”

Draco chuckled and his expression indicated he was slightly offended, “You’re not serious Potter?”

“I thought maybe you had questions or –”

“Tell me about the potion.” Draco sighed when Harry looked down, “That’s what I thought. You know the more she doesn’t want me to know about it the more convinced I become that I am some how responsible for all of this.”

Harry did look up finally and interrupted before Draco could continue, “I can understand you feeling responsible for the sins of your father, but I assure you that Pansy does not feel any resentment toward you whatsoever. She loves you –”

“And I love her…and I can’t lose her Potter…so figure something out. If you think at least sharing the contents of the potion would allow me to lend you some assistance… I’m a dark ingredients master so…just think about it.” Draco stood and started pacing. He ran his hands roughly over his face and through his hair, “I feel like I am crawling out of my skin.”

“When is the last time you slept?” Harry had returned to reading his medical journal, but looked up at Draco, “You look as if you might pass out where you stand. Why don’t you go and lie down and perhaps this will all seem more manageable once you’ve rested.”

Draco stopped pacing and looked at Harry with disdain, “Healer’s orders?”

“Something like that. I’ll send Pansy in to wake you when she arrives home.” Harry looked back down at the book in his lap and Draco walked without response to Pansy’s room. He collapsed on the bed and pulled Pansy’s pillow to his face; at the initial recognition of her scent filling his senses tears poured from his eyes and he buried his face in the pillow to muffle his sobs. Within minutes he was sound asleep.


Draco slept deeply until the next morning and when he woke Pansy was curled up against him. He refrained from moving and soaked in the smell of her hair, the feel of her breath against his chest, the perfection of her proximity. After a few more minutes of gazing Pansy’s eyes opened and she smiled. Draco leaned forward and kissed her gently then rested his head against hers, “Happy birthday Love.”

“It’s certainly off to a good start,” she smiled quickly then jumped out of bed, “I want waffles.”

He stood quickly and walked over to his bag in the corner. When he returned he held out a long black velvet box with a green bow tied around it. “I’m surprised you don’t want one of your presents first.” He chuckled when she snatched the box from him and he sat down next to her on the bed.

Pansy pulled the bow off and opened the top of the box to reveal a delicate bracelet lined with tiny gems, “This is beautiful.”

Draco removed the bracelet from the box and fastened it around Pansy’s wrist, “Birthstones…the Sapphires are for September and the Amethyst for February.” He smiled sadly at Pansy’s recognition, “I remember you saying Emma’s birthday was in February and… I did not want to make you sad, but –”

“Draco it is brilliant…truly,” she smiled then looked back down at her bracelet, “Thank you so much.”

“You’re welcome. Now allow me to make you breakfast while you relax in the living room. Do we still have company? I don’t even remember you coming home last night.” He led her from the bedroom and set her up comfortably on the sofa.

“You were lost in dreams when I returned.” She grabbed his hand as he started to walk away, “I’m so glad that you came back. I’m so sorry to have sprung the news that –”

He interrupted her with a kiss and whispered, “No talk of any of that today. You are as sorry as I am for reacting the way that I did, but that is not important today. This birthday will be the most spectacular birthday you have ever known…and is one of many more to come.” He kissed her again then rushed to the kitchen, his mind racing. I will figure out a way to make sure that is true; I have to.

Not long after Draco’s disappearance to the kitchen he returned to the living room, floating a tray of food in front of him with his wand and carrying another small wrapped gift. He smiled in response to Pansy’s faint squeal and he sat quickly next to her, “Are you more excited about the present or the waffles?”

“I’m not sure…I don’t know what’s in the box yet.” She smiled and reached out to take the box that Draco playfully pulled away from her, “Can I have it now please?”

He pulled the present back from her so she had to moved closer to him. “This was a recommendation from Madi…she told me to trust her,” Draco started to release his hold, but pulled it back quickly, “I think it is strange and impersonal, but…she said –”

“Madi would never lead you astray,” Pansy smiled as she pulled the small box free from Draco’s grip and opened it to reveal a credit card gift card. She looked up and smiled, “I do love to shop, and I like these because I can shop in multiple places.” She looked back down at the card, “And I can spend…” Pansy took a double take at the amount and looked back up, “Are you mental?”

“What? I don’t know anything about Muggle money…especially American Muggle money. Is it not enough?” Draco was instantly disappointed. I knew I should have bought the emerald necklace.

"Five thousand dollars? I didn't even think you could get a gift card for that much. I probably won’t even live long enough to spend that much money.” Pansy chuckled quietly, but looked apologetically at Draco when she saw his expression, “I’m sorry…no talk of that today –”

Draco interrupted as he brushed his hand down her face, “No talk like that ever, Pans. You can not die…I’m not sure how much more clearly I can say it. I can not survive without you; so get control of yourself and think positively for starters. Let today be the beginning of the rest of your life not a countdown to the end.”

“Well said, Malfoy. Thank you so much for everything. Now let’s eat waffles.” Pansy smiled and sat back on the sofa after reaching for a plate.

They ate in silence for several long minutes when there was a knock at the door and Pansy smiled; mixed with a sense of panic. “I almost forgot…we will be entertaining guests this afternoon and evening for my birthday.”

Why? Draco fought to keep his eyes from rolling and stood to open the door, “Will this be the Zabinis or the Potters?”

“Could be the Weasleys even.” Pansy chuckled and turned to see a horror stricken expression on Draco’s face, “No worries Love they won’t be here until later.”

“You mean that wasn’t a joke?” Draco forced an uneasy smile and finally opened the door. He sighed with relief, “Good Morning…you’re just in time for breakfast.”

“It smells delicious in here,” Madi stopped to kiss Draco’s cheek then laughed at Pansy’s commentary from the living room.

“Grab some waffles…they are magical truly!”

Draco chuckled and nodded his greeting to Blaise, “Good morning.”

“You made Pansy cook on her birthday? There is something wrong with that, Draco.” Blaise smiled at the blond’s disgusted expression.

I cooked thank you very much!” Draco paused to look into the kitchen at Madi marveling over the spread of food laid out on the counter. “Looks like the fairy is not used to such treatment,” he smiled when Blaise rolled his eyes, but Madi interrupted any response.

“I love that I remind you of a fairy,” Madi smiled as she walked out of the kitchen with a plate, “And thank you for breakfast.” She walked toward the living room and after taking a bite of her food she squealed, “Draco, this is delicious!”

The blond smiled triumphantly at Blaise, “Shall I write down the ingredients for you?”

“Shut up,” Blaise rolled his eyes again, but it was obviously playful. “I know how to cook. Where did you learn to cook?”

“Can’t say I ever learned, but I cooked when Pans and I were in the cottage for that year and…as with everything else I am just skilled.” Draco laughed and walked into the kitchen; he looked up at Blaise and spoke softly, “Could I have a word please?” He waited until Blaise was close and continued in hushed tones, “You know that I had no intention of running away from Pansy the other night right? I just…I didn’t know how to handle it and –”

“Why do you think you have not seen me here before now? You do not owe me any more explanations, Draco. I have seen your loyalty and love for her every minute you’ve been here. I knew you would come back.” Blaise poured himself a cup of coffee and leaned on the counter opposite Draco, “Are you prepared for the Weasley visit this afternoon?”

“NO!” Draco looked up, startled by his volume.

“Everything all right in there,” Pansy was laughing as she announced her question; even harder when Draco responded.

“Everything is fine in here…no need for any concern at all about what is being discussed.” Draco saw Blaise shaking his head and continued to him quietly, “You shut up. Of course I’m not ready for the Weasley visit. How many of them are coming here? And which ones…and please, please tell me that the mu…Granger…woman is not coming.” As Draco’s mind wandered through the Weasley family tree he could feel his chest tighten. “Those people hate my bloody guts, Blaise; and for very good reason mostly.”

“No one had more right to hate you than Harry and you two have been quite civil. Not to mention you and Ginny have gotten on all right since she arrived.” Blaise could see Draco’s panic starting to mount, “The bottom line is this isn’t about you, Malfoy. It’s not about any of us so whatever Pansy wants, Pansy gets. If she wants you then the Weasleys will do their best to accept and honor her wishes.”

Draco started to respond when suddenly Pansy rounded the corner into the kitchen. She wrapped her arms around the blond’s waist and looked up at him, “You seem to forget that you are not that same angst ridden, power hungry, evil little boy that you were, Draco. Believe it or not you have made quite an impressive name for yourself and there has been no secret that you have distanced yourself from your past for quite some time now.”

“Yes but how do you ever forget the things that I’ve done? I could have screamed from every rooftop for the last decade that I did not mean to do the things that I did. Still regardless of my reasons or my regrets I tried to kill Dumbledore…” Draco trailed off and took a deep breath; remembering that time was never easy.

Pansy reached up and lifted his chin so he was looking at her, “And I practically handed the chosen one to Voldemort…now Harry is one of my best friends. This afternoon is your opportunity to start with a clean slate…slightly dusty at worst.” She kissed him quickly, “Now move please so that I may have more waffles.”

He stepped to the side and realized that Blaise had left the kitchen. There were a million things he wanted to say, but he could only watch Pansy’s every move. Finally she noticed him staring and smiled, “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Because I love you so much I can not help myself,” he pulled her to him and into a tight hug that Madi eventually interrupted.

“Oh my…I was just coming in for more food,” she laughed and reached around Pansy to grab two more waffles with her fork then disappeared from the kitchen immediately.

Draco and Pansy were both blushing and Pansy finally broke the awkward tension, “Well…I am going to go and get ready and then I’ll come back and clean up,” she started out of the kitchen and stumbled slightly. Draco had his arms around her in an instant and she smiled, “You’re quick; and I’m fine…just a little light headed.” Pansy smiled once more and walked out of the kitchen.

Find someone else to take Universe because you may not have her! Draco leaned against the counter and ran his fingers through his hair before pulling out his wand and waving it to start the kitchen clean up.


The front door of Pansy’s house opened and Draco looked up from his chair in the corner to find one of his worst nightmares playing out in front of him. Through the doorway and pouring into the small foyer was a sea of redheaded ghosts from his past accompanied by the most annoying girl he had ever met. It took everything inside not to roll his eyes when Pansy shot up from the sofa and rushed to greet first the Weasley parents followed by George, Ron and then Hermione. To Draco’s relief Ginny had accompanied her family and after a week of co-existing she seemed willing for the most part to give him the benefit of the doubt; just like Potter. The blond tried to remember that this was Pansy’s new family and how much worse could they all be than Harry Potter had been for weeks before?

It did not take long for glances and glares to launch in Draco’s direction though the conversation continued with Pansy at the lead. “So where are all of the kids?”

George put a friendly arm around Pansy as he responded, “That is where Angelina is actually. She took all the rugrats to Shell Cottage and is going to help Bill and Fleur herd them.”

“They are in my prayers,” Pansy smiled and started toward the living room, “Come in and sit…”

Draco took a deep breath and suddenly wished that he could disapparate without upsetting Pansy. In his near panic at the fact that he was about to be horribly out numbered he had a fleeting wish that Harry would show up because at least he had tried to accept Draco’s presence.

Pansy, who was able to read the look of masked terror on Draco’s face walked over and sat on his lap. She took his hand then looked at her guests, “How was the trip? Did you use the floo?”

“We did…how and when did that happen?” Hermione smiled brightly when she looked at Pansy and even offered Draco a friendly expression before grabbing Ron’s hand. “It was so much more convenient than flying. Ron is not a fan of Muggle air transportation.”

“Because it’s bloody terrifying…that high up in the air, no magical control at all…” Draco trailed off and looked at all of the eyes in the room focused on him. Suddenly feeling as if he was not supposed to speak he shifted uncomfortably and scooted Pansy to stand. He kissed her cheek and spoke softly, “I’m going to run a few last minute birthday errands…give all of you time to catch up.” He smiled sadly, turned and nodded to Mr. and Mrs. Weasley then headed toward the door.

Draco had one foot safely across the threshold when he felt someone grab his arm and he turned surprised to see Ginny. She gently pushed him out the door then shut it behind her, “I’m sorry…about the tension in there. You must understand that the first meeting was bound to be strange, but I promise that they will come around. And I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I know that they will see the brilliant man you’ve become.”

Is she being serious? Draco smiled, surprised by the littlest Weasley’s words, “As long as you believe it Ginny that is enough for me. Thank you…for what you said…it really does mean more than I could ever tell you.”

“You realize as long as you are nice to Hermione you will have no problems with Ron or George.” Ginny smiled as an unsure expression washed across Draco’s pale face. “She has changed a lot too…they all have. The war changed everything…and then Pansy and Emma paved the way to peace…you were a part of that even though you weren’t there. And now it’s your turn to feel forgiven because I assure you it’s only the stupid petty stuff that has gone unforgotten; the rest is a stored memory that no one wishes to recall. Stop punishing yourself and give them a chance…you may be surprised.”

Draco’s gray eyes were full of tears though he managed to keep them from falling down his face. “Its only been a week since you arrived and so far I am more than surprised. I can finally see the attraction Blaise had all those years –”

“Excuse me?” Ginny’s cheeks darkened and she chuckled quietly.

“I wasn’t supposed to tell you that.” Draco took a deep breath and started imagining the damage control he would have to do once Blaise and Potter found out he had said too much. “It was a long time ago and –”

“Your secret of telling Blaise’s secret is safe with me.” Ginny smiled as she continued, obviously a bit distracted by her newly acquired knowledge, “So you’re coming back right?”

“Of course I am coming back,” he smiled as she started to walk away, “Ginny…one more thing that I want to say before you go.” Draco took a deep breath when the redheaded girl turned around. He wondered what he was doing and why it was all coming out of him right then; whether he wanted it to or not, “You advised me to feel forgiven so…I’m sorry…for so many different things I did, said, thought; all of it. From the bottom of my heart I am so very sorry…for everything.” He looked down and was surprised when he felt Ginny approach and hug him without hesitation.

She squeezed him as tight as he could and whispered, “I forgive you; and I hope you know that whatever comes next we will do whatever we can to help you.” Ginny pulled away and smiled, “Only you can stop yourself from reverting back to the scared and tormented little boy that you were, Draco, but the people around you can help you stop if you let us. Trust me; we don’t want that Draco back anymore than you do.”

The sentiments were overwhelming and the acknowledgement of what Ginny meant when she said whatever comes next knocked the breath from his lungs. He forced a smile and broke the silence, “Thank you…” Draco paused again, but only because he was not sure what to say next. Any one of a hundred things spinning around violently in his brain would no doubt cause the tears gathering in his eyes to break free, but suddenly he could not help himself, “She’s going to die…isn’t she?”

Ginny opened her mouth, a barely audible gasp escaping before her response, “If anyone can keep her here, Draco, it’s you. So go and run your errands and I’ll summon Blaise and Madi over here so you aren’t as horribly outnumbered when you return.”

“You are something special, Weasley…” Draco smiled as she walked away then he turned in the opposite direction and just up the street he disapparated from sight.


1 September 2010

Today is Pansy’s birthday and presents one and two were well received. I made her breakfast, which Madi also enjoyed when she and Blaise arrived. Then this afternoon many Weasleys and Granger arrived. They obviously hate me; there has never been any love lost between the Malfoys and the Weasleys, but for whatever reason I believed it would be different now. I would have never imagined it could ever be different with Potter and strangely enough I can usually tolerate his presence now. I felt chased out of Pansy’s house, but then another strange occurrence. The littlest Weasley followed me out and told me to feel forgiven…I apologized and she accepted…genuinely accepted and told me to let them help me when…

I can’t write it; I hurt all over even thinking it. Is there anyone in the world who will be able to help me once Pansy is gone forever? Is there any world at all without her in it? Am I friends with the Potters now and if so how in the bloody hell did that happen? I rather like Ginny too…she’s spunky. I completely let it slip about Blaise’s little crush; I couldn’t help it…I was befuddled because she was being so nice to me. I suppose that if the worst does happen, Ginny and Potter and Blaise and Madi will be all I have left of Pans so I should make the best of it. Time to return to the lion’s den…literally…

Draco had been at the pub for what seemed like hours and though it was busy he had easily drifted into his own little world of fear and regret. The blond raised his head as he felt someone approaching, “Potter; what are you doing back so soon?”

Harry sat across from Draco in the booth, “Well I certainly wasn’t going to miss Pansy’s birthday,” he paused to take in the troubled look on Draco’s face, “What are you doing here all alone instead of with Pansy on her birthday?”

“The Weasleys arrived this afternoon…and I thought I should give them an opportunity to catch up so I took my leave.” Draco rubbed his burning eyes then ran his fingers roughly through his hair before continuing to Harry, “I should be getting back though; I want to spend as much time with Pansy as possible.”

Harry’s expression matched the blond’s sadness, “I hope you know that I have not given up trying to find something that will reverse the effects of the infection. I will not give up on her I promise.”

The oddity of every meaningful conversation with Harry, and even Ginny earlier had not ceased to surprise, almost startle Draco. His emotions were unbalanced and he felt vulnerable and volatile and ready to explode or cry or both. Finally he looked up at Harry and spoke in nearly a whisper, “It’s not possible to give up on her Potter; trust me I’m an expert on the subject.”

It appeared to take all of the strength Draco had to pull himself out of the booth. Harry followed quickly, “So did Ron give you a hard time?”

“He hates me…they all hate me…and for good reason…too many to mention in fact.” Draco continued out of the pub then stopped to look at Harry, “No one has more reason to hate me than you however and you don’t…neither does Ginny in fact she administered quite the encouraging speech before I left the house. Granger should want to kill me...” Maybe I should just go back to London and let Pansy celebrate her birthday in peace. Without finishing his statement Draco started walking off.

“I could have let you die in the Room of Requirement; and I did hate you then, but it did not occur to me to leave you there and it would not have occurred to Ron or Hermione either. You talked a lot then Malfoy, but when it really mattered, if the roles were reversed you would have saved any one of us and you certainly were incapable of murder.” Harry paused and approached Draco where he had stopped walking then continued, “I blame Lucius for everything you were then, but you are not that person anymore. Pansy told me the story of how you saved her from the shelter and I have seen everything you have done for her since you found her a few months ago. We only want Pansy to be happy and if you are the one who brings her the most joy then the Weasleys will learn to tolerate you at least. You just have to give them a chance; remember this is mental for all of us.”

Draco rolled his eyes and chuckled, “I promise to behave; see to it they agree.”

“I’ll meet you back at the house then?” Harry took his wand from his pocket and waited for Draco’s response.

“I just have one more thing to acquire. I’m right behind you.” Draco smiled and when Harry disapparated from sight the blond pulled his wand from his pocket and disappeared.


Madi and Ginny planned an elaborate celebration for Pansy’s birthday complete with a seven course meal, magical decorations, countless presents and a three tier cake decorated in green and white. Draco felt like a target at dinner, but was happy when Mrs. Weasley recognized his discomfort with being the center of the group’s attention and made them stop asking questions. After dinner Pansy opened her gifts: clothes, music and books mostly. After cake and hundreds of hugs and kisses the afternoon turned to evening and hours of stories later Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Ron, Hermione and George announced their departure for the night.

Pansy stood and hugged each one tightly, conveying love and thanks for a brilliant day. Draco stood back while Harry, Ginny, Madi and even Blaise joined in, and though the day had turned out to be enjoyable as it progressed, the blond did not anticipate there were many hugs intended for him. He was surprised when Hermione approached; a hesitant smile on her face, “I just want to say to you that you surprise me, Malfoy. I hardly recognize you in fact and I think it is lovely to see Pansy so incredibly happy.”

“I have spent a decade wanting to make Pansy happy.” He paused to look at Pansy across the room and his stomach tightened with excitement at the sight of her smile. Finally he looked back to Hermione and realized it was quite possibly the first time he had ever actually looked her in the eye, “Please know that I am aware of the endless apologies and even more so those things which are unforgivable. Still I appreciate the love and care you have all provided Pansy all these years and I hope that my presence here has in no way made your visit with her uncomfortable.”

“Still so proper,” Hermione chuckled and started to continue when Ron was suddenly standing next to her with his arm wrapped protectively around her waist.

“Is everything all right here?” Ron looked from Hermione to Draco.

“Fine…Draco was apologizing and –”

“Well you’ll need loads more time then won’t you?” Ron laughed then winced when Hermione’s elbow connected with his side. “Sorry…kidding…” the redhead rolled his eyes and looked at Draco, “Harry said that you’re a decent human being now and from everything I’ve seen today I can agree with that theory. Don’t know that we’ll ever be friends or anything, but I’m not sure you’d want that either so…can we agree to tolerate each other then?”

Draco chuckled, “That is acceptable to me.”

Ron smiled then kissed Hermione’s head, “See…anything I can do to make you happy Love. Now say your goodbyes and let’s get back to the hotel.” He swatted Hermione’s butt as he walked away and her offended gasp caused him to laugh as he returned to the group.

Hermione smiled through a dark crimson blush, “You and Pansy have a brilliant evening. The Potters, Blaise and Madi were all planning their escape route a few moments ago.” She smiled once more shyly, “Good night then,” and rushed away.

“Good night.” Draco watched the dark haired woman walk away and realized that his entire reality had been altered with a day’s worth of strange and unexpected bonding experiences with his former enemies; or at least the people he was told were his enemies.

As Hermione promised, Harry and Ginny left not long after and then Blaise and Madi made their exit. Draco was collapsed on the sofa by the time the door shut and Pansy quickly joined him. She curled up next to him, sighed when his arms wrapped around her, and rested her head on his chest. Draco could hear his heartbeat any time Pansy was so close; he kissed her head, “Did you have a good birthday?”

“The best,” she pulled away and looked up at him, “You did very well today. I was worried when you left, but you seemed calmer when you returned so whatever happened I’m glad.”

“I can not say what all the fighting before was even about; there seems no reason to continue with pointless vendettas now.” Draco pulled Pansy close, “And besides it was your birthday; presents come in all shapes and sizes.”

Pansy rested her head against his chest, “Just laying here with you is the best gift in the world. Having you here for the last few weeks has been a blessing.”

Draco wrapped his arms tightly around her, but could not make himself respond in any way. The truth was that their opportunities to cuddle on the sofa, his time to look into Pansy’s eyes or hear her voice was dwindling away and he was powerless to stop it. After nearly an hour of letting his mind wander and being interrupted by the smell of her hair and the feel of her heart beating against him Draco noticed Pansy’s gazing dreamily at the bracelet he bought her. Suddenly a thought filtered to the front of his mind and he interrupted the silence, “Can I ask you something that might upset you?”

Pansy chuckled quietly and kept her head rested against his chest, “I certainly appreciate the warning; and I imagine now would be the time to ask me anything you want to know.”

He paused and took a deep breath. Having waited for the perfect opportunity to confirm his own selfish suspicions there seemed no more appropriate time to simply ask the question. “Was Emma my daughter?”

Draco had played the moment out in his head hundreds of times and always with a different result. He was therefore not surprised when Pansy did not move, did not breathe, for several long moments before finally pulling away and looking up at him. Her eyes were full of tears, several of which fell down her burning red face. She held a quiet eye contact with him for a long time then finally looked down, “I had very valid reasons for keeping her from you, Draco, but it is the worst thing I have ever done in my entire deplorable and unforgivable life.”

Pansy appeared ready to continue when suddenly her shoulder’s hunched forward and she put her face in her hands, “I’m so sorry, Draco…she was just…the only thing I had left of you…I couldn’t let him take her too…but I had no right to keep her…from you…I’m so…” she trailed off to gasp for breath, but her tears swallowed her words.

Tears had been streaming down Draco’s pale face from the minute he asked the question, and though his heart broke for Pansy’s reaction part of him wanted her explanation and felt entitled to her apologies. He had known it in his mind for so long, but her confirmation hit his heart like a bullet and was so crippling he had little capacity to comfort her at first. Yet his feelings were in no way malicious and when Pansy started sobbing so hard she could no longer speak Draco pulled her into his arms and attempted all the tricks he had learned while calming Scorpius when he was hysterical.

Pansy sobbed for nearly an hour when she calmed suddenly, eerily, and pulled away from Draco. He reached out for her just as quickly and pulled her close to him; and when she started to fight for her freedom he moved his hands to hold her face. He looked deep into her eyes and spoke softly, “I am the one who should be sorry Pansy.”

“You?” She put her hands over his and pulled them from her face, “I stole your child from you, Draco. I kept her from you in order to keep her safe and she died. What kind of mother am I? What kind of life did I give her and is that essentially why she was taken from me; because I dishonored her by not letting you be part of her life…what little life she had?” Pansy stared at Draco waiting for a response, but when there was nothing but silence she continued, “You can not disagree.”

Pansy stood and Draco followed her to the bedroom. He was unsure what to say as he did not wish to cause any further upset so he watched her frantically rush around the bedroom for a few minutes then blurted, “I should not have brought this up, tonight of all nights and –”

“I will understand if you need to go; for some air or for forever.” Pansy stopped and looked up at him with a new flow of tears pouring from her eyes, “You should hate me for what I’ve done. I hate me for what I’ve done…” she sat on the bed and buried her face in her hands. “The worst part is that she would have been better off with you all along.”

Draco watched as Pansy’s shoulders heaved forward and the sound of the painful gasp before sobs rang in his ears and turned his stomach. He instinctively rushed to her and wrapped his arms so tightly around her his fingers went numb. “Pans I…” Would she have been better off with me all along? Would that have been enough to keep Lucius from killing her even though he would still have ruined her life…just like he ruined mine…ours…

Draco snapped his focus back quickly and kissed the top of her head, rubbed her back; tried everything to calm her. Finally he whispered as her breathing settled and her tears slowed, “Who was Emma’s favorite Weasley?”

Pansy pulled away and a smile washed across her face as different tears rolled down her cheeks, “George…” she was obviously confused and continued with a chuckle that made Draco think she had remembered something brilliant, “Why did you ask that?”

“Because with me she would have never known him; any of them…or Potter or Madi, or probably even Blaise for that matter; even more disturbing is that she would have never known you,” he paused and wiped the tears from her face, “I’ve known a life with you and a life without you, but to have never known you at all would have been empty.” Draco took a deep breath and reached for Pansy’s hands, “The truth is we would have been the best parents Emma could have known; and the fact that she did not have that opportunity is completely on me.”

“That’s not true –”

“It is true. I should have killed Lucius where he stood the day he found us in the cottage. I should have ended his reign of terror over my life the minute he tried to take you away from me,” Draco took a deep breath and closed his eyes. The truth was brutal, but if time was truly running out then everything had to be said before it was too late. “I never realized my own strength until I had to find a way to exist without you. It never occurred to me I would ever have to; when I was searching for you at the shelter I knew that I would find you and we would be together. Even after I married Astoria I never gave up the hope that someday we would be standing face to face and nothing else in the world would matter. And now it seems just one devastating blow after another and the truth is if I would have just stood up then and said no –”

Pansy put her fingers to Draco’s mouth to silence him. When he stopped speaking she ran her hand gently down his face, “I know first hand the consequences for defying your father Draco…and for all that has happened, good or bad, I am glad that you did what he told you to do. I took comfort knowing that you have a brilliant life, but had you died at his hand just to be with me I would have had no life at all.”

“I wanted to give you the best life Pansy…” a tiny gasp for breath caused his voice to crack and tears instantly poured from Draco’s eyes as if he had been storing them for a decade, “I am so sorry,” he lowered his head and when he felt Pansy’s arms wrap around his neck he lost control. He wrapped his arms tightly around her, buried his face in her neck, “Please don’t leave me now…I don’t want…I can not handle being away from you again…not for another minute…I won’t!”

“I will not fight you this time and I want to believe as long as you don’t let go then everything is going to be fine.” She pulled away and dried his red, burning cheeks, “But if that isn’t enough you must know that I will always be with you. We are a part of each other; and even if you can’t see me or hear me you will always feel me with you. Surely you learned that during all of these years we’ve been apart.”

He pulled her face close until their foreheads rested against each other. He closed his eyes and whispered, “It’s not enough.”

“Soak up as much as you can Love, because it may have to be enough.” She forced a sad smile and did not resist when Draco ran his fingers into the back of her hair and pulled her into a forceful, desperate kiss.

There was no drug or drink in the world, Magical or Muggle that could ease Draco the way Pansy did. He was thirsty for her and the feel of her lips against his, the smell and taste of her skin, the sensation of her fingers running through his hair, down his back, and up his chest caused his control to breakdown and breathy moan escaped him as Pansy moved her kisses to his neck. There was no world outside of that moment and no way he could refuse the painful yearning in every move they made. He pulled away and looked at her, “We are quickly approaching the point where this is not going to stop.”

“And if you need to walk away I understand…” Pansy paused and took a deep breath, “But if you think I’m going to ask you to leave that is not going to…” she was interrupted by a kiss and rested back against her pillows as Draco moved over her and applied tiny hot kisses up her neck toward her ear.

“I love you,” in unison and the disappearance of all control over the rest of the night.


The lack of reality continued the next morning when Draco and Pansy woke and spent the morning in bed. As the afternoon approached they finally emerged from the bedroom and just in time for a knock at the door. Pansy tended to the Potters while Draco showered. The blond stood under the steaming water forever as his mind wandered; and the blissful feeling he woke up with started to fade as reality settled back in.

Draco finally walked out of the bathroom, but neither Pansy nor the Potters were in the living room. He looked out the patio door and started toward the kitchen when he suddenly heard hushed voices coming from the bedroom. The blond hesitated for only a moment before tucking into the chair closest to the half opened door. He realized eavesdropping was wrong, but he was desperate to know what Pansy was telling the Potters and he could not shake that something monumental was being kept from him. Now that he knew Emma was his daughter he needed to know the nature of Pansy’s other secret. And so his infiltration into Pansy’s private conversation seemed justified.

Pansy’s voice was lowered, but strong, “I am going to ask Blaise and Madi the same thing I am about to ask you, to keep a secret, and I need you all to promise me that you will grant my request.”

Ginny’s voice was the first to be heard and was calm and comforting, “Anything you want…you know your secrets are always safe with me, and Harry was your secret keeper for goodness sake.”

Draco rolled his eyes at that particular piece of knowledge Blaise had dropped not so subtly into conversation. Before the blond could allow his anger to resurface however he focused in on Pansy’s response.

“I know Draco, and after all is said and done he is going to start asking questions. I’m giving you plenty of time to come up with something to tell him because he is never to know about the second potion. That knowledge would destroy him and that is the last thing I want; over something that was my fault in the first place.”

Please do not start blaming yourself again Pans.” Harry paused then continued quietly, “Lucius Malfoy is the only one responsible; neither you nor Draco should have to carry the weight of this around. And I promise that he will not hear this information from me.”

“I promise too…” Ginny trailed off for a moment then continued with excitement, “So… did you two have a good night last night?”

“I’m leaving now,” Harry chuckled uncomfortably and Draco could tell he was starting out of the bedroom. The blond moved quickly across the living room and sat in a chair, picked up a book and pretended to read.

When after a few minutes Harry did not emerge Draco pulled out his wand and suddenly his book of parchment and a quill flew into his hand from across the room.

2 September 2010

Emma was my daughter…and my father killed her; no doubt because he did not want a bastard heir running about who could someday interfere with his perfectly laid out plans for my miserable life. Hearing the confirmation from Pansy was as painful as I imagined, but I still do not blame her. I will forever blame myself and I have every reason to believe that hushed conversation with the Potters in her bedroom right now is the proof that she would have been better off never knowing me.

Pansy keeps obsessing about me never knowing about this second potion…the one that poisoned her and I imagine Emma. She said Riley gave it to her so she would have been pregnant at the time…WHAT KIND OF MANIAC POISONS A PREGNANT WOMAN? Emma may not have had the mother Lucius would have chosen, but she was pure blood…our blood. She was a Malfoy and he destroyed her before she was even born. How do I live with that? How can Pansy stand the sight of me?

The fact is she can more than stand the sight of me; the evening was so emotionally charged… the confession and then both of us fighting over which one of us is most to blame for a lifetime gone horribly wrong. It all manifested into an unrelenting passion that had been suppressed for far too long and we ended up in the bedroom. I am not sorry, sadly I only feel moderately guilty; and when she survives this I realize that I have no choice but to make it permanent. I will not lose her…to death or anything else…never again.

Draco looked up from his book when Harry walked into the living room. “Is everything all right?”

“Brilliant,” Harry flopped down in the chair opposite Draco and sighed, “They are just moving onto subjects I do not wish to be a party to.”

“So how about the topics you were discussing before that? Let’s speak on those a moment shall we?” Draco closed his book and looked to Harry for a response.

The dark haired man chuckled as he sat back in the chair, “Eavesdropping is not very polite, Malfoy. If Pansy wants you to know something she will tell you.”

“And if she chooses not to tell me something then she makes all of you swear to keep secrets. Secrets do not make friends, Potter.” Draco rolled his eyes and his frustration made him shift uncomfortably in his chair.

“Are we friends now?” Harry arched his eyebrow and laughed when Draco looked up with a horrified expression.

“Well we are not enemies any longer; hopefully you at least agree with that…” Draco trailed off and started to continue, but got up instead, “Never mind; you are the great secret keeper so of course you will not tell me anything.”

“Has it occurred to you that she is trying to protect you by not telling you?” Harry paused and waited for Draco to turn around and when the blond finally looked back he continued, “You do not want to know; and as her friend, your friend, I will take this secret to the grave.”

You don’t even have to tell me now because I can see in your eyes all I need to know. Draco lowered his head and spoke mindlessly, “So it is my fault then?”

“Were you working with your father to go after Pansy –”

“Of course not!” Draco moved back to the chair across from Harry and glared at him, “I thought you believed that I had nothing to do with that.”

“Then how is it your fault? Lucius poisoned Pansy; he is to blame.” Harry looked up at Draco who was starting to speak, but he interrupted, “And don’t say he did it because of you; that still does not make it your fault. Trust me Malfoy I have no worries about pointing out your faults –”

“Thank you, Potter, that makes me feel so much better.” Draco rolled his eyes and slumped back in the chair.

“You have lost a lot Draco –”

The blond looked up, still surprised every time one of his former enemies showed him any sort of compassion or kindness. “I wish that you could tell me the losing part is over.”

The bedroom door opened and interrupted what Harry was about to say. Instead he tried to cover up the serious conversation they were having before the ladies emerged. He looked sadly from Pansy to Draco and spoke in just a whisper, “I wish I could too.”

Pansy walked right over to Draco and sat on his lap, “It looks very serious out here gentlemen. You’re not fighting I hope.”

Harry put his arm around Ginny when she sat next to him, “Of course not.”

Draco smiled at Pansy when she looked to him for confirmation, “We are behaving just as we promised we would. And what about you two? You appear to be plotting something.”

“Stop reading my mind, Malfoy,” Pansy wrapped her arms around him and squeezed hard then stood excitedly, “We want to go into the city and see a live show tonight.”

“A what?” Draco looked hesitantly at Pansy and then to Harry for support that whatever the ladies were planning sounded dreadful. “A show about what?”

Pansy smiled deviously, “A surprise; and since I imagine you have not brought the appropriate attire for such an occasion we should go shopping first. I would also like to check in on the pub and then we can tell Madi so she can tell Blaise.”

“It’s a group affair then?” Draco smiled, completely awestruck by Pansy in that moment. He was not even focusing on a response; just lost in the twinkle of her eyes and the beaming glow that rolled off of her in waves.

“All the people I love!” Pansy danced from the living room and eventually Ginny interrupted Draco’s stare.

The redheaded girl stood and pulled Harry up with her, “We should go and check on the kids and collect appropriate clothes as well.” She smiled at Draco when he looked up at her, “Are you two going to be all right here?”

The blond nodded and smiled deviously, “I will take the best care of her I promise.”

Pansy returned in time to walk the Potters out then resumed her seat in Draco’s lap. She wrapped her arms around him and kissed the side of his head, “Being here with you still feels like a dream.”

“I am really here,” he pinched her side and pulled her into a kiss when she started to pull away from his tickling gesture. When he finally pulled away Draco looked up at her and smiled, “And you couldn’t get away from me if you tried.”

She smiled though there were tears building in her eyes. She ran her fingers over his face as if she was tracing every feature then leaned down and brushed her lips lightly against his lips and whispered, “Promise?” Pansy closed the distance between them without allowing him to respond.


2 September 2010

We went to a live show this evening in the city; Pansy’s favorite that she has already seen numerous times. It was a Muggle play comprised almost completely of song. I was of course resistant to this concept when we arrived and most especially when it began, but I found myself strangely drawn in at the same time. Admittedly I had a difficult time following along in parts as the Muggle references were in abundance. The characters were obviously poor…it all started with them singing about their inability to pay their rent and then the real horrors of their lives started to surface with each song. Boys loved boys who dressed like girls and girls loved girls who used to love boys. I felt only slightly settled by the idea that Blaise and Harry seemed equally uneasy with this situation. Yet among the scantily clad women dancing provocatively and crawling across tables, the fact that a good number of the people were sick, and one particular moment where a woman not only mooed like a cow, but encouraged the audience to join her, there were underlying stories of love everywhere. They were friends…family…and then all of a sudden one of them died and I wondered why on earth Pansy would even want to see such a thing at such a time as this. And then at the end I realized why she wanted to see it; the sickness appeared to have claimed another character and the man who loved her, who had been apart from her for so long was devastated. He held her in his arms and suddenly she woke; it was magical and told me that Pansy knows she is going to live as much as I know it. A musical about a bunch of poor, complaining Muggles and I found hope in it.

We walked along the water and went to a long pier after the show. There was food and wine and dancing and a circular structure that reached into the sky and had pods attached to it. The circle rotated and people were meant to ride in the pods. Pansy attempted to persuade me to place my life in danger by participating in what she referred to as a Ferris Wheel ride, but I declined. It was all very Muggle, but just walking along with Pansy’s hand in mine made it the most brilliant of nights. Every day that I am convinced she is getting better leads me closer to a time when I will have to choose where I belong and I just can not shake the idea that it is with her; even if it is here.

Pansy is making me go back to London for the day tomorrow. It is not that I do not want to see Astoria and Scorpius…I miss them terribly, but I do not feel comfortable leaving. What if something happens? I keep saying that I believe Pansy is healing, but I watched Potter watching her tonight. He looks at her as if he is waiting for her to start crumbling. He is her Healer and friend and I have come to respect his opinion…that is disgusting…still I can not believe that he is right about this. She seems stronger every day and every day has felt like the first day of the rest of our lives.

“What are you writing about in there?”

Draco looked up as Pansy approached. He closed his book and set it on the table then wrapped his arms around her when she sat next to him, “Just releasing everything from my head.” Pansy yawned and Draco kissed her head before continuing, “You have had a long day; you need to sleep…keep up your strength.”

Pansy nestled her head against Draco’s shoulder, “What time are you leaving in the morning?”

“I was thinking –”

“You’re going, Draco. You have not seen Astoria and Scorpius in more than a week.” She paused and took his hand, “I promise you will not miss anything here.”

“Except for the one thing I can not seem to live without.” Draco kissed the top of Pansy’s head and held her tight to him, “I’ll leave in the morning, but I do not wish to talk about that now. Let’s get you tucked in and I will make you waffles in the morning before I go.”

Pansy pulled away and smiled at Draco excitedly, “Will you come and lie down with me?”

He stood and led her to the bedroom where they curled up together in bed and both drifted off to sleep almost instantly.


Draco woke the next morning before Pansy and as promised started preparing her favorite waffle breakfast. Not long after he returned to the bedroom with a tray of food and tea; he set the tray on the night table and brushed the messy hair from Pansy’s face then whispered, “Wake up Love and have breakfast.” He paused for a moment and when she did not even stir he leaned down and kissed her head, “Pans…” When again there was no sign of movement Draco’s heart started racing and he rested his head on her chest; her heartbeat was faint and her breathing shallow.

He stood frantically and rushed into the living room as if help was on the other side of the door. The emptiness of the house and the ear piercing silence sent Draco’s own heartbeat into a race and he rushed back to the bedroom. He sat on the bed and brushed Pansy’s face gently, “Pans…Pansy wake up…don’t do this now I have no clue how to reach Potter.” When Pansy still did not respond Draco rushed back to the living room and picked up the telephone on the table. He looked at the numbers and realized he had no clue what to dial and after searching for any piece of paper that might say Harry, Blaise or Madi’s name on it with no success he slipped into a full blown panic.

Draco returned to the bedroom again and felt the tears that were rolling from his eyes start to burn his skin. He pulled out his wand and started retracing the years of his magical education hoping to remember something, anything that might help his situation. Finally in a frantic frustration he yelled, “I need to contact Harry bloody Potter now…why is this so difficult?”

Suddenly a stream of light erupted from Draco’s wand and he looked down at the silvery outline of a ferret looking up at him. The blond backed away, “What in the bloody hell is that?” He paced as the ferret continued to gaze up at him, “You’re a Patronus… could you be a…if you are a Patronus go find Potter…Harry Potter…somewhere in this city…tell him Pansy is very ill and he needs to return immediately, via magical means… and should he laugh at the fact that you are a ferret bite him…hard!”

The Patronus swept out of the room and Draco sat back down next to Pansy. He stared at her chest to insure that it continued to move up and down and he squeezed her hand, “Harry is going to be here any minute and you absolutely must wake up. I conjured a Patronus and it is a ferret…if only to make fun of me you must open your eyes.” Draco’s mind reeled and the sight of Pansy’s pale face, expressionless and eerily peaceful, was more than he could handle. His tears increased and he whispered, “Please do not leave me…you have to fight Pans…I can not lose you now that we finally have it all back.”

Draco did not leave Pansy’s side again; just continued his focus on the sound of her breathing and what felt like an instinctive process of memorizing her face. Harry, Ginny, Blaise and Madi arrived within minutes of Draco’s Patronus; Harry taking the lead into Pansy’s room.

“Has she woken at all?”

“No,” Draco stood and ran his fingers through his hair; he paused as Harry moved his wand the length of Pansy’s body then continued when everyone turned to him for more details. “When I woke up this morning she was still sleeping and I tried to wake her for breakfast, but…” he trailed off as more tears started falling from his face.

Harry focused back on Pansy and responded calmly, “How was she last night?”

“Fine…tired, but she did not mention that she was feeling ill. We went to sleep not long after returning home from the pier.” Draco looked to Blaise, Madi and Ginny, still standing in the doorway, and expected accusatory glances, but instead found concern and caring. He looked back at Harry, “What will you be able to do?”

Before Draco was done asking the question Harry had his bag open and started brewing a potion on the bedside table. “I have a few potions I can try, but honestly she needs to be in a hospital.”

“No,” Blaise stepped up next to Draco and continued to Harry, “Her wishes are clear and it will only upset her when she wakes up if we have taken her to a hospital. Anything you need can be brought here.”

“All right then I need to you go to St. Mungo’s and –”

“I can’t leave…” Blaise was horrified by the idea of leaving Pansy’s side and before he could continue Madi stepped up and took his hand.

The dark haired girl looked to Harry, “I will go to St. Mungo’s and I’m sure Ginny will come with me and we will bring whatever you need. We will alert the Weasleys and they can help bring everything through the floo.”

Harry poured the contents of his portable cauldron into a glass that had appeared out of thin air then looked back at Madi and Ginny, “I will send word to St. Mungo’s so that everything I need will be waiting for you. Draco, can you come and hold up Pansy’s head please?”

The blond rushed back to Pansy’s side and gently elevated her head so that Harry could pour the potion into her mouth. In a matter of seconds Pansy coughed quietly and her eyes opened. Blaise rushed to the bed and sat as Draco laid her gently back against the pillows then rested his forehead against hers and whispered, “You scared the bloody hell out of me.”


After a thorough examination Harry excused himself from Pansy’s room; taking Ginny and Madi with him to go over the details of their St. Mungo’s trip. Once the door shut Blaise moved to the other side of Pansy’s bed, sat and took her hand. Draco’s fingers did not stop moving in Pansy’s and he and Blaise seemed to just stare at her as a heavy silence fell over the room.

“I’m not dead yet; I’m feeling much better actually so…” Pansy paused to shift on the bed and laughed when Draco and Blaise nearly bumped heads rushing to her assistance. “All this attention is brilliant though.” She waited for them to sit and squeezed their hands, “I’m very sorry that I scared you. I’m a bit embarrassed that you all rushed here and –”

“The ferret called and we came.” Blaise laughed at the piercing glare Draco shot at him then looked at Pansy when her reprimanding tone rang through the room.

“Blaise! Don’t call him that. What is wrong with you?” Pansy smiled at Draco then hissed at her other doting admirer, “Say you’re sorry.”

Blaise started to defend himself when Draco interrupted, “I have apparently found my Patronus…and it is a bloody ferret.”

Pansy put her hands over her mouth, but it did nothing to cover or control her laughter, “You’re not serious?” She continued to giggle when Draco nodded with frustration, “I’m sorry to laugh Love, but that is amusing. How did you find your Patronus in the first place?”

“Sheer panic,” he took her hand and looked at his fingers entwined with hers, “I was frantic when you would not wake and I shouted in desperation when I could not figure out any quick way to contact Potter; the next thing I knew there was a shiny ferret looking up at me.”

“The timing could not be more perfect and so you have yet again saved my life.” She smiled then looked at Blaise, “Why could we never find ours? I always thought being able to communicate via iridescent animal would be fun. Not to mention I’m even more curious now what my Patronus would be.”

“I guess we’re just not as good as some people.” Blaise’s eyebrow arched as he looked over at Draco and smiled. “Though I’m sure I would be a panther or a hawk…”

Or a bunny rabbit maybe?” Draco rolled his eyes, convinced that Blaise would in fact be something distinguished and far more intimidating than a ferret. He looked back to Pansy quickly and tried to change the subject, “Can I bring you anything; some tea perhaps or I could remake your breakfast.”

“You made waffles?” She smiled, but at the same time seemed sad and disappointed, “I’m sorry I did not wake for those.”

“I can go and make more right now,” Draco was halfway out of the room when Pansy’s interrupted.

“You are going home today.”

The blond turned and responded sternly, “I am not going anywhere. I will send Astoria an owl and –”

“Draco this has already been decided.”

“And that was before it took a potion to wake you up this morning.”

“I am fine now, Harry and Blaise will both be here if I need anything and you need to go and see your family.” Pansy’s tone was stern and decided. She squeezed Blaise’s hand as he stood to excuse himself then took Draco’s hand when he sat back down on the bed, “I do not have to imagine how much she misses you, Draco, because I’ve experienced a life time of it. You need to go and see her, and Scorpius, before it starts to seem like you’re never coming home.”

And what if that is the reality? Draco took a deep breath and responded calmly, “I will send Astoria a letter and will travel home after the weekend. Right now I need to stay here and see for myself that you are getting better. If I went home now I would be distracted and that hardly seems fair to anyone.”

Pansy started to interject with another argument when the bedroom door opened and they both looked up to find Harry walking in. “Please excuse the interruption,” he said while walking over to his medical bag, “But I need to brew something for Pansy and then it is imperative that she eat something.” Harry immediately started pulling ingredients from his bag and Draco shot up from the bed.

“Brilliant…I’ll start the waffles,” he kissed Pansy’s head quickly and rushed from the room and toward the kitchen.


3 August 2010

Astoria,

I’m sorry Love, but I must delay my trip a few days. Pansy would not wake this morning and Potter was forced to use a potion. Madi and Ginny will be travelling to St. Mungo’s for supplies as Pansy still refuses to admit herself to a magical facility. They have agreed to deliver this letter for me and I hope that they adequately conveyed my disappointment and apologies that this is the best I can do at this moment.

I love and miss you and Scorpius so much and intend on leaving Sunday morning to come and spend time together. I am not even sure there are words to express my continued disbelief that such a brilliant woman as you could ever be so loving and tolerant and supportive of me, but I am eternally grateful that you are. Please tell Scorpius that I love him and I will see you both very soon I promise.

All my love,

Draco

P.S. I conjured a Patronus this morning. If you can believe it the bloody animal was a ferret.


The second potion that Harry had administered to Pansy seemed to brighten her even more and the waffles were enjoyed. Harry had decided to accompany Ginny and Madi as far as the pub and Draco left Blaise with Pansy while he went to clean up the kitchen. As Draco approached Pansy’s room he overheard hushed yet seemingly adamant voices and decided to give them a few more moments of privacy. It did not take long however for the blond to become pulled into trying to overhear the conversation and he suddenly found himself standing from the armchair and moving quietly to a place just outside the partially closed door; he could see, but not be seen.

“Blaise you are not listening to me.”

Blaise walked to the bed and sat down across from her, “I am listening; I just happen to have my own opinion about this.”

“I do not want him hurt any more.” Pansy took a deep breath and leaned close before whispering, “It will destroy him, Blaise.”

“You already said, and I couldn’t agree more, that Draco will not rest until he has figured it out Pans. What if it will be less painful coming from you?” Blaise paused as a sense of agreement washed through Pansy’s face; he took her hands and kissed them, “But as always I will do whatever you feel is best.”

She flopped back against the pillows and sighed, “I suppose whatever I decide I should do it soon.” Tears fell mindlessly down her face and she let herself become consumed for only a moment before looking back up at Blaise, “It’s different this time…than all the other times when it seemed like Draco might actually be right and maybe we were going to have a happy ending.”

“You must remain positive Love,” Blaise was obviously fighting back tears masked with a supportive smile, “I’m not ready to let you go yet so promise that you’ll fight.”

“I promise…”

The verbal circles around Pansy’s secrets only caused Draco’s mind to run wild with every cryptic detail. As he always imagined he was ultimately responsible for every horrible thing Pansy had endured and now he would finally lose her forever as a result. He could feel himself being pulled into the bedroom; suddenly empowered and determined to burst through the door and demand an explanation for whatever she intended to keep from him next. At the same time his arms and legs felt like dead weight and he could not move.

“Some things never change.”

Draco turned quickly when Harry’s voice startled him. “Not sure what you’re talking about, Potter; you were always the master of eavesdropping.” The blond walked over to the far side of the living room and sat down. “The girls are on their way safely I take it?”

Harry walked over and sat in the chair opposite Draco then responded, “They are. And what was so interesting in Pansy’s room that you felt compelled to hear the conversation, but not comfortable enough to enter into it?”

“Doesn’t much matter if I discuss it with you; since you have already vowed not to discuss the big secret Pansy is keeping…protecting me.” Draco rolled his eyes and interrupted Harry’s response, “It’s fine, Potter; I’m not asking you to tell me, however keeping the secret that you saw me eavesdropping would be a brilliant.”

“I can do that…as long as it doesn’t happen again.” Harry chuckled, but faded quickly into a mournful tone, “You should not be wasting this time asking these questions or thinking about all of the possible answers.”

The cryptic nature of Harry’s response and the defeated tone of his voice sent a chill down Draco’s back and when there was no explanation to follow the blond arched his eyebrow and hissed with annoyance, “What are you trying to say, Potter?”

Harry looked down at the floor for a quick moment then back at Draco sadly, “That you should say all of the things you really want and need to say…while you can.” The dark haired man paused again then continued in just a whisper, “I wish I had better news Draco, but I am running out of cures and quick fixes. If not for your Patronus…” Harry mirrored the terror in Draco’s eyes and quickly lightened his tone, “Speaking of which…how did you conjure a Patronus?”

Draco shrugged his answer as his thoughts hung on Harry’s defeatist words that could only be construed as the acceptance of Pansy’s imminent death. The blond tried to shake it off and finally responded to the question, “I panicked and needed a way to contact you and the next thing I knew there was a glowing ferret in the room. I’m still saying that if you would just tell me about the potion –”

“Malfoy give it a rest –”

“Give what a rest?” Pansy smiled and held tight to Blaise as she walked over to the sofa, “Are you two arguing?”

“Of course not; now what are you doing out of bed?” Draco moved over to sit next to Pansy and covered her with a blanket.

Harry reached over and rested the back of his hand on Pansy’s forehead, “The fever has broken; that is a good sign.”

Too bad you’ve decided to give up and let her die. Draco blinked to break his glaring stare on Harry and put his arm around Pansy, “What can I get for you? Anything you want.”

“I want to go to the pub.” Pansy looked around at the disapproving expressions that surrounded her and laughed, “Certainly you can not deny me one last glimpse of my pub. That place saved my life…who knows; maybe I’ll get lucky again.”

Blaise stood and walked to the kitchen; obviously overwhelmed. Harry started to respond when Draco stood also and Pansy grabbed his arm, “Where are you going?”

“To put together an ensemble for our trip,” he kissed her hand and smiled, “Something comfortable for apparition…to the pub.”

Pansy smiled brightly, but Harry interrupted, “I’m not sure that is such a good idea.” The dark haired man paused when Draco and Pansy both rolled their eyes then continued, mirroring the sentiment, “But what would I know?”

Draco walked into the bedroom and the minute he was out of sight his eyes welled up with tears he could not control. After several minutes spent lost in Pansy’s closet he laid out a pair of jeans and a sweater on the bed and attempted again to pull himself together. He was startled when he looked up and Blaise was carrying Pansy. “What happened?” His stomach flipped around until he thought it would come up in his throat and he moved the clothes as Blaise set Pansy down.

“Nothing happened; I just realized that if I can not walk I should probably not be apparating around town. I suppose no matter how carefully you plan there are always things for which you simply run out of time.” She reached for Draco’s hand and then Blaise’s as he sat down, “But I would not have traded the last few weeks for the world.”

Draco watched Blaise look down and saw him squeeze Pansy’s hand out of his peripheral. He felt like he was choking; the three of them, just like they used to be, and just like always preparing to say goodbye. Blaise stood and kissed Pansy’s head then whispered, “Get some rest. I will be back soon.” He took a deep breath and walked out of the room.

“Why does it sound like you are starting to say your goodbyes?” Draco tried to hold his eyes on hers, but the lack of sparkle reflecting back at him was painful and he eventually focused on their hands as he continued, “You aren’t supposed to give up remember?”

“I’m not giving up, but at the same time I think it is important that I am realistic. I don’t want there to be any regrets; things unsaid or moments not had.” Pansy smiled sadly as Draco looked up at her, “You look like you have something to say right now. So why don’t you tell me what you and Harry were arguing about?”

Draco started to respond when a visible shudder rushed through Pansy’s entire body. He moved to sit closer to her and wrapped his arms around her, “We weren’t arguing…we were bickering, which is not unusual for us. I think instead of focusing on that nonsense you should close your eyes and sleep a bit and when you wake we will discuss whatever you want.” Draco looked down and smiled as Pansy was already fast asleep.


Pansy woke hours later and looked over at Draco sitting in a chair looking out the window. When she moved to sit up the blond rushed over to her and sat down on the bed, “How do you feel?”

“Tired, but I’m always happy to wake up and find you so I’ll not complain.” Pansy reached up and brushed a few misplaced hairs from Draco’s forehead then ran her fingers gently down his face, “You look as if you could sleep. Why don’t you lie down?”

“I’ve tried,” Draco looked down and sighed. It was true that he could not sleep at all; haunted by the idea of missing one remaining moment with Pansy and torn by his need to know the truth before it was too late. “Can I do anything for you? Bring you anything?”

“You can go and lie down for a few hours Draco before you pass out. The house is quiet so I assume we are alone and I would be little use should you fall down.” She pulled him to lie down next to her and when he rested his head on her chest she ran her fingers dreamily through his hair.

Several long quiet moments passed when suddenly Draco interrupted; he did not move and spoke in no more than a whisper, “Tell me about the second potion, Pansy.”

Another long silence enveloped them and Pansy continued running her fingers through his hair; finally she whispered back, “No.”

Draco pulled away and looked at her, “Haven’t there been enough secrets?”

“How does it help anything if you know? Some secrets are best kept just that.” Pansy was obviously agitated by the conversation. She looked down and started straightening the blankets then gazed back up at him and blurted randomly, “Tell me about the day that you realized you loved me instead.”

He was annoyed at her change in subject, but considered Harry’s words about saying what needed to be said before the chance was gone. Instead of pursuing the potion conversation he reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of parchment, “I can do even better.” He paused and looked at the worn paper and took a deep breath, exhaling slowly, “I wrote this letter to you another lifetime ago…the night I was to kill Dumbledore. I never had the opportunity to give it to you,” he looked down at the letter again quickly then looked up at her and smiled, “But I want you to have it now.”

Pansy smiled and took the letter from him. She unfolded it and blushed the minute she started reading quietly to herself.

17 June 1997

Pansy,

All term you have harassed me for details, reasons for my behavior, and I still can not comply with your request. I refuse to tell you anything specific, you will know soon enough, but I want to insure your safety and keeping you away from this situation is the only way I know to do that. Perhaps keeping you away from me in the beginning would have been the best course of action, but we can not go back. I have no idea what is going to happen tonight so there is something I must tell you; this is not how I hoped to do this, but time is short and now may be the only opportunity.

I love you, have loved you for years, realized it finally over the summer and it nearly consumed me. I planned to tell you the minute we stepped off the train at start of term, but Potter had to interfere; and then my responsibilities took priority and again the need to keep you from harm meant keeping you from what I had to do. Still I can not take the chance that this evening’s events will rob me of the opportunity to tell you that every day starts brilliantly with thoughts of you that begin in my dreams which you have invaded for years. If tonight goes as planned I intend on making you wild promises of power and perfection and spending the rest of my life making sure you have everything you want and deserve. If I fail tonight I want you to know that I love nothing more in the world as much as you and I never will.

Please stay as close to Blaise as possible…no matter what happens he will always take care of you when I can not. I know that you have a tendency to react first and think later when you are scared so I implore you to let him protect you. DO NOT attempt to find me, help me, save me or in anyway interfere with what has to happen. Know that I act in order to save myself and my family; and with the intent to insure a future I intend on spending with you. Still, if the worst happens, know that I can never apologize enough for what you have endured at my side or the deplorable way I treated you most of the time; and of course I’m sorry for the duration of time it took me to realize that you were the reason I was able to breathe in and out each day. I’m sorry that there was no better time to tell you and I’m sorry for what I have to do now. I pray that I will see your face again…but could die the luckiest man in the world because you loved me.

All my love in return,

Draco

Pansy folded the letter and wiped the tears rolling down her face, “You called my react first, think later issues accurately. That considered I suppose I can not give Harry too difficult a time for ruining you telling me all this when we got off the train. I wonder what might have been different?”

Draco leaned close and kissed her gently. He rested his forehead against hers and spoke softly, “I love you more right now than I could have ever imagined then.”

“I love you too…” She kissed him then pulled away and leaned back against the pillows. “If we are exchanging letters we’ve written, but never sent then I will need you to go into the closet in the living room and bring me a green velvet box you will find right up front.”

The blond smiled and kissed her quickly before standing and rushing to the closet. The box was not exactly in the described location, but after a few minutes Draco returned with the box Pansy had sent him to retrieve; in his absence she had fallen into a peaceful sleep. Determined to find the letter Pansy spoke of he took the top off the box and began flipping through its contents. He chuckled at the random and familiar things he came upon: a Slytherin cuff link he was certain he had lost in third year when he was attacked by the bloody chicken, a dried flower that could only have been saved from the Yule Ball, a hundred letters from Blaise and Harry that he did not dare read.

He continued pulling items and letters from the box looking for anything addressed to him when suddenly his breathing caught. Hesitantly he pulled out a piece of parchment; addressed in handwriting he would have known anywhere. His hands were shaking as he opened the letter and read frantically.

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 can not 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. 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 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 Ms. Parkinson…perhaps you will stop challenging me now.

Lucius Malfoy

The letter shook in Draco’s hands as he read it over and over; each time seething with how powerless he was to stop Lucius and how he unknowingly may have killed his first born child and the love of his life. When the front door opened and shut Draco stood and walked into the living room. Harry, Ginny, Blaise and Madi all walked into the living room and before anyone could say a word Draco jabbed the parchment against Blaise’s chest and hissed, “Explain this.”

Blaise backed away from Draco’s hand and pulled the parchment from him. His agitation faded quickly as he realized what he was reading and he looked up stunned at Draco, “Where did you get this?”

“Pansy had me retrieve her box of letters. I was looking for a letter she wrote to me and I recognized the penmanship.” Draco ignored the disapproving expressions and started to continue, but Blaise interrupted quickly.

“Does she know you have seen this?”

“No she’s sleeping.” When Blaise looked down at the letter again Draco focused on Harry, “He gave me the counteracting ingredient and what…I passed it to her? And Emma? Is that what this means?”

Harry opened his mouth to respond, but nodded his confirmation instead and Draco glared back at Blaise, “I killed them, and you’ve known it all this time, and you never told me. I realized a long time ago that you and Pansy had a bond I could never break; and since I’m pretty sure you killed Lucius I would understand if you needed to kill me too.”

Madi gasped and Ginny looked from Blaise to Harry equally as confused as Draco. Finally the redhead stepped forward and stood next to Draco, “No one is killing anyone; and I would suggest everyone calms down before Pansy wakes and overhears this.”

“She will know soon enough,” Blaise paused as Draco’s expression confirmed his statement, “Draco could never just let this go. There’s no way the martyr in him could ever allow her the peace of this secret.”

“It’s my fault –”

Harry finally joined the conversation, speaking calmly, “Lucius is to blame, Draco. I believe you had no knowledge of this prior to finding the letter,” Harry paused as the blond nodded his confirmation, “Pansy blames herself as well –”

“Well she certainly didn’t poison herself!” Draco lowered his voice after a stern look from Ginny, “I should have been ready for anything, knowing Lucius would retaliate, and instead I was busy working and being married to someone else. I never took care of Pansy the way I should have. I took her for granted during the only real time we had together; and now I’ve killed her…and our daughter. How can she find blame for herself in all that?”

“He told her to stay away from you and she sought you out at The Leaky Cauldron anyway.” Blaise took a deep breath and only held Draco’s eyes for a moment before continuing, “You didn’t even know she was looking for you that night; and if we are passing blame I told her exactly where to find you.”

Madi walked up next to Blaise and put her arms around his waist, “Pansy does not blame anyone so perhaps no one should be amassing anymore guilt over the things that can not be changed.”

Blaise kissed her head and smiled sadly, “There are so many reasons why I love you.” He winked at Madi then looked at Draco, “She’s right…we didn’t know and we probably could not have stopped your father anyway. With that said I am begging you not to tell Pansy that you know.” Draco looked down and sighed heavily; Blaise continued, “You can talk to me about this until you are blue in the face. You can scream and destroy a room or something… anything but Pansy. I know you’ve felt it too…that time is running out, and in the long run you will hate yourself for spending the rest of the time you have together focused on this.”

“I do not want to waste a minute with her. Still I can not help but to imagine the amazing life you would have all had if you had only avoided any contact at all with me,” Draco sighed again; a mixture of frustration and overwhelming hatred for everything he was and even more, everything he came from. He finally looked up at Blaise and spoke dully, “I promise I will not tell her that I know.” He handed Blaise the letter and walked over to a chair where he sat then stood immediately, “I need some air.” Draco slammed out the patio door before anyone could respond and walked over to the bench all the way across the flower covered yard.

He sat very still and stared blankly at the sky. There were tears burning his eyes, but no more painful than the lump in this throat or the knot in his stomach. He was startled when his journal flew out of the house and landed at his feet; he did not recall even thinking the spell, but it must have known he had to unleash the mounting emotions or he would explode.

3 September 2010

I killed them…sentenced to death the very moment I became a part of them, them of me, and I should have known all along that would be the outcome. I have never been quite sure who I am without her. When I could not be with her because I was on assignment from Voldemort, when I was separated from her seventh year, lost her after the war, lost her because of my father…the last ten years have been a lie that I wake up and live every day. Though I love Astoria and I love Scorpius I have no idea what will happen to the overwhelming love that I will always feel for Pansy. When she is gone and I refuse to let her die, will it kill me?

Sometimes I think she is the only one who can confirm I have a heart and that it beats. I imagine that is how I will know it has stopped because I hope it follows her lead. I do not want to live in a world where she does not breathe…and I am the reason she will stop so much sooner than is fair or right or imaginable. There is not one person in that house right now that does not have at least ten reasons to kill me…perhaps once the worst has happened someone will react accordingly. Lucius is dead, but I wonder if that even insures any sense of security from his maniacal wrath. Won’t Astoria and Scorpius and even my mother be better off without having to always tend to me?

“She didn’t want you to know for this very reason.” Madi walked over to the bench and sat down next to Draco who looked at her with heartbreaking tearful eyes, but said nothing. “If you do not live the life you promised her you would live I’m afraid she may shun you in heaven.”

“People like me don’t have a place in heaven.” Draco closed his eyes then his journal and stood. He stopped when Madi grabbed his arm and chose not to resist her pulling him back down to sit.

People like you aren’t supposed to have a Patronus either; but if memory serves me yours saved Pansy’s life this morning. One of the many times you have saved her life from my understanding.” Madi took Draco’s hand and squeezed it tight, “Draco you have no idea how your presence has saved her just in these past few weeks. I can honestly say I never met Pansy until the day that I first saw her with you. And with that in mind I have no concept of how to help you with the next chapter of your tale. All I can tell you is that you are not alone and whether she is here or not you will never be alone again.” She wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tight, “We all have a little bit of her inside of us now.”

Draco’s arms were so tight around Madi he feared he might break her, but at the same time she made him feel startlingly safe; as if Pansy had channeled some of her abilities into the dark haired fairy girl to tend to Draco when she was not longer there to do so herself. He wanted to respond, but his tears were endless and anything coming out of his mouth would be a muffled plea to escape from the madness of what felt more looming than ever. He pulled away after a few minutes and forced a smile, whispering, “Thank you,” before standing and extending his arm, “We should get back inside and spend as much time with Pansy as we can.”

Madi stood and took his arm and they walked quietly back to the house. Blaise was in Pansy’s room with the door shut and Harry and Ginny were speaking quietly on the sofa. Draco walked over and sat across from them, “I apologize for my outburst and –”

“There is no need to apologize for how you feel.” Harry paused and waited for the blond to respond, but met with silence he continued, “Pansy was trying to protect you from this truth and I hope that you can find a place for this so that it does not destroy you because none of this was your fault.”

The bedroom door opened and Blaise stuck his head out, “Good you’re back; she wants to see you.”

Draco nodded his gratitude for the reassurances, walked into Pansy’s room and sat next to her on the bed. He was agitated that Blaise chose not to leave, but rather sat in the chair across the room. The blond tried to ignore his presence and brushed the fly away hairs from Pansy’s forehead before leaning down and kissing her gently. “How are you feeling beautiful?”

“Better than you are apparently.” Pansy reached up and wiped her fingers across Draco’s tear soaked face, “What happened?”

Draco felt Blaise’s stare burning him without even looking across the room. He focused on Pansy and forced a smile, “Nothing –”

“Or you could tell me the truth.” She grabbed his hand when he pulled away slightly, “Please don’t leave.”

Draco looked down and saw the tears rolling instantly down her face, “I’m not going anywhere Love.” He moved to sit next to her and wrapped his arms around her, “Can I do anything for you?”

“Just this…” she trailed off and sighed as she nestled next to him, “This is all I ever needed.”

Pansy drifted back to sleep; Blaise stood and nodded his gratitude at Draco’s discretion before walking out and shutting the door behind him. The blond rested is head back against the headboard and closed his eyes. He ran his fingers gently through Pansy’s hair and allowed the tears to roll down his cheeks, “I’m so sorry for doing this to you, for everything I’ve done to you…” He tried to stop his tears and his erratic breathing because he did not want Pansy to wake, but it seemed pointless. After a few minutes fatigue took over and the blond fell asleep.


4 September 2010

Pansy had a very bad night. She was in excruciating pain, stopped breathing twice, and at one point she devastated us all because she woke up and for the first few minutes she didn’t know who anyone was. I’m not sure there is a way to describe trying to comfort her and the sheer terror radiating from her entire body as she fought to get away; asking who I was. I don’t know what I might have done if that had lasted. She has also been talking in her sleep; vivid and cryptic sentences about Emma, about New Orleans, Hogwarts and her constant fear of Lucius. Finally Potter started giving her potion after potion and calmed her. She has been asleep most of the morning…and the funeral march has started swarming the house.

It’s happening and there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to stop it. Harry is in there right now, making sure she’s comfortable; and if I have gotten to know him at all he’s also looking for that one thing he’s missed…the one that would allow him to be a hero again. It almost doesn’t seem real that even the chosen one can not stop the end of the world this time.

I feel since the arrival of the other onlookers to Pansy’s death that I have had little time to spend with her. Since time is running out, and they have had the last ten years, I wish they would all go for a little while; not to mention I feel horribly out numbered. I wonder if they all know about the potion, and the fact that we are all here saying our goodbyes because I killed her. I also question, once she’s actually gone…how should I manage to live myself?

Draco was interrupted by a knock at the door. The Weasleys were all in the yard, Harry was in Pansy’s room, and so the blond stood and went to greet the next mourner. He flung the door open and immediately his defenses crashed around him and tears flooded from his eyes. “You came…”

Narcissa walked inside the house and pulled Draco into a tight embrace. She held one hand firmly on the back of his neck and rubbed his back with the other as he sobbed into her shoulder. “Of course I did, my darling. I know you have told me that I needn’t make the trip, but the thought of not being with you right now was more than I could stand. Besides I would like to see Pansy.”

He kept his face buried in her shoulder; pain radiated through his body as the sobs caused him to violently shake against her. Before he could stop himself he began rambling, almost deliriously, “It’s my fault. He used me to kill them…how could he…kill them…let me kill them?”

Narcissa pulled away and held Draco’s face so he was focused on her, “What are you talking about?”

More tears fell from Draco’s eyes as a sense of relief flowed through him, “You didn’t know…I was hoping you didn’t know what he did…what I did…”

Narcissa’s expression grew heavy with concern and she wrapped her arm in Draco’s, “We should sit and you can explain this because none of this is your fault, Draco. You had no choice, but to obey your father’s command and let Pansy go –”

“He laced one of my drinks with an ingredient, meant to counteract with something Pansy was given at the shelter. It was his insurance that she would die if the ingredient in my system ever passed into hers.” Draco sat down next to Narcissa on the sofa and watched her confusion increase, “Pansy and I were together…before the wedding and that is the night that Emma was conceived. It was also the night I sentenced them both to death.”

Draco had calmed while detailing the nefarious plan to his mother; and from calm came numbness, a cold expression and violently emotional eyes. His tears dried and he could feel his blood burning in his veins, “It is a good thing that he is dead, but I will never stop wishing it had been me that killed him.”

Narcissa sighed heavily and took her son’s hands, “I want you to stop blaming yourself for this, Draco. There will be a time for you and I to discuss this in more detail, however for now it is imperative that you realize that you are not responsible for what is happening.” Both blonds were disrupted when the bedroom door opened and Draco seemed surprised when Narcissa stood and approached Harry with ease.

Even Harry was a bit startled when Narcissa walked up and ran her hand gently down his pale and exhausted face. She smiled sadly, “You look as worn down as Draco. I have come to assist; what can I do?”

Harry forced a smile and looked over at Draco, “I’d say you should start by explaining to your son why you are treating me so civilly.”

Narcissa turned and looked at Draco, “It’s a long story Love, going back to the night of the Hogwarts battle. Another time Dear,” she looked back at Harry, but Draco interrupted quickly.

“Another secret kept to protect me I imagine…” Draco looked down at the floor and tried to keep himself from seething over more information that had been concealed from him.

“Your mother saved my life,” Harry smiled at Narcissa and braced for Draco’s reaction when the blond looked up, “And I will be eternally grateful.”

Just like I have to be because you saved my bloody life? Pansy wouldn’t be dying right now if you had left me in the Room of Requirement. Before Draco could verbalize any thought Pansy’s voice carried as barely a whisper into the living room. The blond was up and at her side in a second. He sat beside her and took her hand, “What can I do for you Love?”

“Was that your mother I heard? I would like to see her,” Pansy smiled as the blond woman entered, “Narcissa…please come sit down.” When Narcissa sat on the opposite side of Pansy the dark haired girl looked up at Draco and smiled, “Could you give us a few minutes?”

His eyebrow arched and he tried to determine if he was worried or hurt by her request, “Are you serious?”

She nodded and kissed his hand before pushing him away, “Yes I would like to speak with your mother alone if that is all right with you. Actually it doesn’t much matter if it’s all right because –”

Draco interrupted her, “I’ll be in the living room with Potter then.” He walked out and closed the door behind him then sank into the overstuffed chair across from Harry. He looked over and sighed at Harry’s broken expression, flipping vigorously through more books. “Can I help you look?”

Harry looked up and handed Draco a book, “Anything you can find to break the connection between the Quassia and the Valerian, or counteract one of the two.” He returned to his reading, but looked up when Draco stood and crossed the room. When the blond returned with two leather bound books Harry questioned freely, “What are those?”

“My potions journal…and Snape’s,” Draco did not wait for a response before opening Snape’s journal and searching through every word.


Pansy slept on and off most of the day as people trailed in and out of her room; positive and hopeful when they entered and breaking down as the door closed behind them when they returned to the living room. Draco and Blaise had been with her for the majority of the evening hours and she slept while they took turns pacing and sitting beside her; visibly willing her to live. When she finally woke she was weaker than ever. The dark circles around her eyes nearly swallowed her face and only accented her pale and once pudgy cheeks. She pulled herself up on the bed and Draco and Blaise both rushed from their chairs on either side of her to assist. She smiled grabbed both of their hands and waited for them to sit on the bed, “My boys…both here together again at last.”

“Now all you have to do is stay and enjoy it.” Blaise’s voice cracked with the first word and he rolled his eyes causing them to glisten with obviously building tears.

“That’s the plan,” she smiled at Blaise then over to Draco, “You both need to sleep; you look beautiful, but awful.”

Draco squeezed Pansy’s hand, “As if we would sleep now that you are awake.” He was desperate to hold onto her, but at the same time he could barely stand to keep his contact with her dulling eyes. He looked down at her small hand in his then stood suddenly, “Would you like some tea?”

Pansy tightened her grip on the blond’s hand and pulled him back down, “Not if it means you have to leave.” She grabbed Blaise’s hand when he started to move, “Or you. We are wizards correct? Whatever we need we call for it, but you two have to stay with me… promise.”

Blaise and Draco practically fell over each other assuring Pansy that they would not move from her side. Finally she laughed quietly, “At ease gentlemen,” she took a deep breath that nearly exhausted her then continued quietly, “Everyone else has had their time here and finally I have the people I wanted most…ever since I was a little girl.”

“And we’ve always been yours…in whatever way we could at any given time.” Blaise smiled at Pansy and looked over to Draco. The blond was obviously lost in his own thoughts, and visibly terrified every time Pansy moved or her breath sounded like a faint gasp. “I think that I am going to go for that tea,” Blaise looked at Pansy, “Give you two a few minutes alone.”

“Don’t be gone long,” she held his hand until he slipped out of reach, and when Blaise closed the door behind him Pansy looked back to Draco, “So you must be dying to know about my conversation with your mother.”

He caught himself smiling, and when he realized Pansy’s face also brightened he chuckled quietly, “Of course I am curious; was it bad?”

She shook her head and playfully moved her fingers around his, “Not at all; unnecessary apologies, unrelenting reminiscences, and of course the same request that I will make to you now…” Pansy trailed off and looked down at her hand in his before continuing quietly, “I know you very well, Draco Malfoy; and I fear what will become of you next if you do not allow the people who love you to keep you focused on the incredible life you have.”

What in the hell is she doing? Draco’s heart started to race; he moved closer and lifted her chin to look at him, “I have no life without you, so if this is the start of goodbye you can stop right there.”

“Nothing goes unsaid; that was the promise I made myself and who knows how much time is left.”

“Pansy stop it!” He reached to gently hold her face and wiped the tears as they fell from her eyes, “You said it earlier, we are wizards, and we will find a way to fix this. You must not stop fighting. Do you understand me?”

She nodded, but her tears only increased and she could not respond. Pansy wrapped her arms weakly around Draco’s neck and pulled him close enough that she could bury her face against him, “I don’t want to die, Draco. It’s not fair that I finally have you back and something else has decided to take you from me. I want to see Blaise and Madi get married, and I want to meet Scorpius, and watch the Potter and Weasley children grow up.” She pulled away and looked into his tear-filled eyes, “I don’t want everyone to forget me…”

“When you leave this world, many years from now, do you honestly believe that you are anything less than burned into the minds and hearts of every single person in your life? We love you, as will the numerous people who have not even experienced your brilliance yet. That is why you have to stay Pansy; you are the core. You are the reason that Blaise and I came back to Hogwarts every term and you are the reason that Potter and I can sit in the same room and have a conversation, or why the littlest Weasley is always watching over me now. You are the reason I breathe so I need you to keep…breathing…” He paused and kissed her softly, then rested his forehead against hers, “Please stop trying to get away from me.”

The bedroom door opened, interrupting any further discussion and suddenly Madi’s apologetic voice filled the room, “Please excuse the interruption. We can come back and –”

Draco turned and smiled sadly, “No, stay…please come in.” The blond moved back on the bed, never letting go of Pansy’s hand, and watched as Blaise and Madi set up the tea set on the bedside table and sat together in the chair. “Is everyone still here?”

Blaise nodded and Madi responded in an attempted cheery tone, “They are watching television; Mr. Weasley is fascinated. Mrs. Weasley, Ginny and Hermione are cooking and… well I did not mean to interrupt and I’m sure you want to be alone with Draco and Blaise so –”

“Madi…stay…” Pansy laughed, “You’re as much a part of this little clique as anyone. You’ve certainly seen your fair share of mental since you’ve known me.”

“I don’t believe I know how you two met.” Draco looked from Madi to Pansy and smiled.

“She came into my diner and looked like someone had killed her kitten. I sat down at her booth, had a stimulating conversation with Emma who was still an infant at the time, then Pansy here told me the only way we could be friends is if I agreed to drink Veritaserum and allow her to question me.” Madi laughed with Pansy, “I agreed because I had nothing to hide –”

“Besides a small obsessive longing for Harry Potter,” Pansy laughed when Madi’s cheeks darkened, “It’s not a secret anymore.”

Madi laughed and winked at Blaise before continuing sarcastically to Pansy, “If memory serves me you did not consider it a secret then either since you told him the first chance you got.”

Blaise wrapped his arms around Madi’s waist, “Actually I’m quite sure you did that yourself Love. The day you met Potter at St. Mungo’s we were all a bit worried you were about to have a fit.”

She playfully punched Blaise’s arm then buried her bright red face in his shoulder. Draco rolled his eyes and chuckled, “I still do not understand the fascination with Potter.” Everyone in the room chuckled and when Draco turned around he saw Harry standing in the doorway. “No offense of course.”

Harry rolled his eyes and walked toward the bed, “None taken,” he reached over and felt Pansy’s forehead, “How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine,” Pansy smiled, but it was obvious that she was lying and the return of reality caused the mood in the room to dampen. “There has been no change.” Draco looked down as Pansy squeezed his hand and continued, “I am a little hungry though…if I can eat something.”

“Of course you can,” Harry smiled and started out of the room, “Dinner is being prepared right now in fact and –”

Madi stood from Blaise’s lap and interrupted, “I’ll help you bring plates in.” She kissed Blaise then hurried out of the room after Harry.

“There certainly isn’t much about her that’s subtle.” Blaise chuckled and looked over at Pansy who had started crying. “What happened?”

“Nothing,” she wiped her face and tried to speak cheerfully, “I’m just a bit sentimental I suppose. I’m so happy that I was able to introduce the two of you…and I really wish I was able to be there when you make it official.”

“What are you talking about? You’d better be there.” Blaise took Pansy’s had and was obviously holding back his own tears as he looked away.

“I will be…in one way or another.” Pansy rested her head back, but her attention returned to Draco when his hand slipped out of hers, “Where are you going?”

He stood, narrowly escaping Pansy’s grasp, “I’ll just be in the living room and –”

Blaise interrupted as Draco walked toward the door, “You don’t need to leave, you shouldn’t…I mean –”

“I just thought you would like your privacy.” Draco forced a slight smile and noticed immediately Pansy shaking her head.

“You should stay…just in case I...you should just stay.” Pansy fought for a deep breath and smiled when Draco moved away from the door.

Not wanting to hear the words he knew Pansy meant to say he moved quickly to a chair across the room, “I’ll be right over here.” He sat, looking out the window and forced back tears; his mind wandered back to the days at Hogwarts, especially the early years and as he attempted to tune out Pansy and Blaise talking. Draco unexpectedly fell asleep.


Draco woke in the chair, startled that he had fallen asleep and even more surprised that Blaise was gone; Pansy was sound asleep. He moved to the chair next to her bed and held her hand for hours; watching her chest rise and fall in an erratic rhythm and fighting to see the beautiful and vibrant face he had been in love with since he was a child. Draco contemplated, every time Pansy’s hand was in his, apparating them to St. Mungo’s where he was sure she could be saved. But she had been adamant about staying out of hospitals and she was hardly strong enough anymore to survive the trip at all. A gentle squeeze to Draco’s hand woke him from a twilight sleep and he sat up quickly, “You’re awake; what can I do for you?”

“You haven’t left me Draco; that’s all I need.” She pulled her hand free in order to sit up, but realized she was too weak and slumped back to the bed. Tears fell down her pale sunken cheeks as Draco stood, helped her sit up, and then sat down on the bed next to her. She reached up and wiped a tear from his cheek before tending to her own. “We have to stop this right now. We are masters of goodbye.”

He rested his forehead gently against hers and reached up to hold her face. Tears poured from his eyes, but he did nothing to resist them, “I can not live in a world where you do not exist Pansy; so you can not leave me.”

“I’ll always be with you Draco –”

“The way you mean is not good enough.” His throat tightened as every single thing he needed to say rushed to his tongue. Pansy was in his arms, but he could feel her slipping away with every breath; and the recollection of how it had all began was more than he could bear. “I’m so sorry…I never protected you, even less when I actually tried.” The guilt was heavy in his chest and swelling in his throat and though many more apologies and pleas were cued in his mind he whispered mindlessly, “If you will not stay then I want to go with you.”

“I’m afraid it does not work that way Love.” She pulled away enough to look at him, “And why do you keep apologizing to me? I want you to release this guilt you have manufactured because I blame you for nothing.”

Draco brushed her face and whispered, “I know the things that I have done to you Pansy and I need you to live so that I can spend the rest of my life making it all right.”

“You are here…now…that is the extent of your required amends. I can not imagine this moment if I had not spent the last month with you. And now I know that you have a good life, a family that loves you and that you love more than even me.” She paused and smiled as his expression showed conflict, but still he shook his head in defiance of her statement. “I don’t have to worry about you Draco because in addition to the family that you return to in London you have gained a new family; currently sitting in the living room waiting to help you…let them…please.”

He looked at her and could no longer keep the tears in his eyes, “What can I do to make you stop talking as if you are going to die.”

“Show me the proof that I’m not.” Pansy pulled her hands from Draco’s and ran them up her face and through her tangled hair, “I must look atrocious.”

“You are exquisite…though you do look very tired. Why don’t you try and rest a bit and in the morning we will talk about your trip to London when you are feeling better.” Draco smiled and wiped his face quickly, “Scorpius is going to adore you…though I guess I should warn you, and it’s a little creepy when he speaks of it, but…I think he dreams about Emma… Princess Emma actually.” The blond stood and started fluffing Pansy’s pillow to distract from what he considered a miscalculated comment.

He moved to the chair near her bed and held her hand, “I’ll be right here when you wake up.”

Pansy looked at Draco, silently for a long time then finally spoke, “It had its fair share of ups and free falls, but I have loved being in love with you.”

“I love you too…” he trailed off and nearly choked on the lump in his throat. When Pansy’s eyes closed his heart raced wildly and he watched her chest rise and fall in a more unpredictable rhythm. After nearly an hour he was startled by the faint sound of her voice.

Pansy mumbled in her sleep for a moment then whispered clearly, “Daddy will be fine sweetheart…he’s got Lord Scorpius remember?”

For a split second Draco was sure his heart had stopped and he fought the urge to wake Pansy up, but he did not have the heart to disturb a dream she was having of Emma; no matter how jealous he was. When she remained silent Draco sat back in the chair and returned to his relentlessly tormenting memories; focused on Pansy’s breathing.


Draco stood at the end of a long walk way; looking forward at several rows of chairs lined up in front of an open oak coffin. He looked around at the devastated faces of the people he knew, comforting each other and crying as their glances moved to the coffin every few seconds. As he approached he was strangely comforted by the familiar faces: Blaise and Madi, Harry and Ginny, even the Weasley’s could be accounted for. As he drew closer he saw his mother leaning over to talk to a blond woman that instantly came into focus as Astoria, and to his wife’s right was a handsome young man that he recognized, but could not name.

His heart began to sink when Pansy was no where to be found and his focus locked onto the coffin that he could no longer avoid. As he moved through the group no one seemed to notice him at all and he was relieved because at that moment he could not imagine having to speak to anyone. He closed his eyes as he moved the final distance to the casket, holding them tightly shut and trying to breathe unsuccessfully. Finally he opened his eyes and gasped at the sight of himself lying in the coffin completely still.

“This does not happen for a very long time you know…it has already been decided.”

Draco looked down at a little blond girl in a green and white dress gazing lovingly back up at him. He knelt down and took her small hands in his, “Do you know who I am?”

“Of course I do silly,” she giggled then leaned in and whispered, “You’re my daddy.”

“What are you doing here?” Draco looked at Emma smiled, “You look just like your mother.”

“I came to remind you that this does not happen for a very long time; and to tell you that it is going to be all right. I will take care of mum and you will take care of Scorpius and one day we will all be together…but not for a very long time and it is important you remember that. Lord Scorpius needs you daddy…and so you must stay with him. Just like I needed mum and she must come with me.” Emma held her hands against Draco’s cheeks and looked into his eyes. “Don’t be mad at her for leaving or me for being such a selfish child. And don’t be mad at yourself anymore.” She kissed his cheek and started to walk away.

“Wait…do you have to go?” Draco stood and started walking back down the pathway, but he could not catch up with the little girl. When she had disappeared from sight Draco yelled, “Emma…how will I find you?”

Suddenly a little voice drifted through the air as if on the breeze, “We will always be with you…always your girls…”


Draco stirred as the sun poured through the curtains and he sighed with frustration that he had fallen asleep again. As if there isn’t a lack of time left…why are you bloody sleeping through it? He sat up in the chair and ran his fingers through his messy hair then stretched. Finally he stood and moved to the edge of the bed then reached over and brushed a few stray hairs from Pansy’s forehead; and that was when he felt her ice cold skin. His head immediately rested on her chest and when it neither rose nor fell his eyes closed and tears erupted from beneath his eyelids.

He pulled away and looked down at her, convinced by sheer force of will he could make her breathe again, but nothing changed. Suddenly he could not even move except for the violent trembling throughout his entire body that only accentuated the pain he felt everywhere. Draco put his head back down against Pansy’s motionless chest and he held his own breath as he listened closely for the rhythm of her heart, the feel of even the slightest movement. She’s gone… It screamed through his mind like a siren and his own breath caught in his chest; everything that happened next was involuntary.

“Pansy?” A whisper.

“Pans.” Louder.

“BLAISE!”

By the time Blaise entered the room he found Draco, pointing his wand at Pansy and whispering mumbled incantations. After a few eerie moments the blond looked up, “What are you doing? HELP ME!”

“Draco –”

“Wipe that defeatist, accepting, and painfully saddened expression off of your face, Zabini, and help me save her!” Draco looked back down at Pansy then quickly back at Blaise, “Or send Potter in here…DO SOMETHING!”

Blaise approached Draco slowly and once next to him he lowered Draco’s arm and pulled the wand free from the blond’s hand. He set the wand on the bed and put his hand on Draco’s shoulder. Tears fell down both of their faces and finally Blaise whispered, “You know there is nothing more to be done.”

“We are wizards…and we will find a way to…” Draco trailed off when Pansy’s hand moved slightly and he fell to his knees next to the bed and grabbed her hand tightly, “Did you see that? I told you –”

“Draco it is not uncommon for there to be involuntary movements once someone has –”

Before he could finish Draco stood and had his wand pressed firmly into Blaise’s neck, “Don’t you dare say it.”

“Draco, don’t!” Ginny stood between the confrontation and the door where Madi stood motionless with her hands over her mouth.

The minute Draco saw the terror in Madi’s eyes he lowered his wand, sat down on the bed and looked down at Pansy; within a split second his chest constricted, tears flooded his eyes and he heaved forward to bury his face against Pansy’s chest. Amid screams and sobs there were discernible pleas and professions two lifetimes in the making. Draco knew he was being swallowed whole by the reality that he had heard Pansy’s voice, been warmed by her smile, felt her touch for the last time; and it already felt too long ago. After nearly an hour he calmed and was relieved to feel warm hands on his cold arms and to hear the sound of a familiar whisper.

“I know that you do not want to leave her, but there are others who need to say their goodbyes…before there is an all out war in the living room.” Ginny took a deep breath and her tears fell harder when Draco finally looked up and she saw his burning red eyes and worn face. “I promise you can return as soon as Blaise and Harry have – ”

Draco stood and nodded, “Of course,” he took Ginny’s hand and walked toward the bedroom door. He tried to open it, but it was as if he had forgotten how.

Ginny reached over and opened the door and led Draco into the living room and over to the sofa. Blaise immediately rushed into the room and Madi followed quickly, shutting the door behind them. Ginny sat next to Draco, not that she had much choice since he still had a death grip on her hand. He acknowledged the movement around him, the sobs and embraces in honor of the end of the world, but he did not look up. Throughout Draco’s life there had been plenty of times when he felt himself slipping away, but at no time prior to that moment had he ever felt so completely alone in a world he no longer cared to be a part of.

The voices around him became muffled, not that it mattered what anyone had to say. Pansy was his, regardless of anything that happened, and no one could possibly feel what he felt for her. And now she was gone, the only person he belonged with, and he was lost without her, incomplete. After several long minutes he released Ginny’s hand and looked up at her, “I’m sorry I –”

The redhead took his hand again and squeezed it tight, “You have no reason to apologize or explain.”

“I have no reason to do many things now…” Draco squeezed her hand and stood abruptly, “If you would excuse me…” he walked quickly through the living room, out the patio door and across the yard. When he reached the bench in front of Pansy’s rosebushes he dropped to his knees and fell forward beneath the weight of another wave of heavy sobs. After minutes that stretched like torturous years he felt another calming hand on his back and he would have recognized it any day. The sense of peace he felt almost made him sick, but he needed it in order to survive. He sat up and spoke though continued sobs, “I knew you would come.”

“And I will do anything that I can for you,” Astoria wrapped her arms around him, rubbing his back and neck as he nearly collapsed against her.


Draco and Astoria remained in the back yard for hours. There was little to say until Harry emerged from the house and crossed over to them. He smiled sadly at Astoria then focused on Draco, “Everyone inside is very worried about you and Molly is prepared to bring you a plate of food out here unless you would like to join us inside.”

“I’m not hungry,” Draco ran his hands roughly over his face and through his hair, “But of course I will come back inside.” The blond stood and took Astoria’s hand.

“We have to move her –”

“Move her? Move her where?” Draco glared at Harry as if doing so would change the imminent response.

Harry remained calm and soft spoken, “Pansy requested a Muggle funeral and the calls have been made for her transfer…” he trailed off when Draco walked back to the bench, “I know that this is not easy, Draco, but you know what happens next. We have been waiting for you to say your final goodbyes before they take her, but…I’m afraid that will have to be now.”

Draco looked up at Harry and wanted to yell or punch him, but instead he turned and walked toward the house, taking Astoria’s hand as he passed. The scene inside the house was as dismal as the blond expected. The Weasleys were huddled together trying to make sense of the unimaginable. Madi was sitting alone in the window seat and Blaise was no where to be found. He must be in with Pansy now…

Astoria squeezed Draco’s hand and moved to stand in front of him. She looked up and brushed his face, “I only needed to see for myself how you were. I am going back to the hotel now and hope that you will join me later.”

Draco wrapped his arms around her, “I have contested from the very beginning that I do not deserve you. I will see you in a few hours.” He pulled away and kissed her head then walked her to the door. After closing the door again Draco moved swiftly over to Madi, “Potter told me to come inside and make my final…” he shuddered and fought for other words before blurting, “I do not want to interrupt Blaise so –”

“Blaise isn’t here…” Madi wiped her face and hopped down from the window seat, “I am honestly not sure where he is, but –”

Without hesitation Draco interrupted Madi with a tight hug. He kissed her head then raised her chin to look at him, “He will be all right as long as he has you, and I know that he does.”

“Always…” Madi looked down and continued quietly, “As long as that is anyway.”

Her words choked Draco, but he managed another reassuring kiss atop her head then without comment he walked back across the living room and into Pansy’s bedroom. He shut the door and walked over to the bed without ever actually looking at her. He took her hand, still keeping his eyes from her face, and held his breath; the absence of Pansy breathing swallowed him and when he looked up at her peaceful face Draco felt his heart slow down. He tried to close his eyes, to block out the sight of his love lying lifeless before him. The idea that she was gone was impossible; and the memories of what they were together, what she was to him, were crippling.

His fingers were brushing against the top of her hand and he reached over to move a wild hair from her forehead, “You know when you took me to see that play I thought maybe you were planning something similar to that ending…not this one. I begged you not to leave me and for the first time ever you stood up to me and did what you wanted. I suppose that I deserve it; for all the times I left you, for everything that I did that led us here. If my father ever had one thing right it was that you would have been much better off staying as far away from me as possible. I’m sorry…that I knew it was true all along, but there was never a time I knew how to live without you so I kept you close…by whatever means necessary.” He moved closer and stroked her head, “How is it even possible that after all this time, after all we have been through, that this time you finally got away?”

Nearly an hour passed, though it seemed like just minutes to Draco when the bedroom door opened and Harry stepped inside. “Draco I’m sorry, but –”

“I know…” He turned to look at Harry who just nodded sadly and walked out. Tears welled up in Draco’s eyes as the feel of Pansy’s ice cold hand in his sent a chill through his body. He rested his forehead gently against hers, ignoring the tears that rolled down his face onto hers, and whispered, “I know that you said I could not follow, but I am nothing if I am not chasing you; and just a memory will not do.” He gently kissed her lips and whispered again, “I will see you soon Love,” before standing up and walking into the living room.

Draco closed the bedroom door behind him and walked over to Blaise who had returned and was sitting with Madi in the window seat. “Can I speak with you outside please?” Blaise stood as if it took every ounce of energy he could muster and Madi started to follow when Draco interrupted, “Madi, I apologize, but I need to speak with only Blaise; if that is all right.”

The dark haired woman nodded and pulled Blaise into a quick kiss before letting go of his hand so he could follow Draco outside. The blond crossed the yard to his familiar bench then turned around. “Before I say anything else I want to thank you for every single thing that you did for Pansy from the day that you met her and most importantly from the day that I met her. I ruined both of your lives in so many combinations of ways and for that I will be eternally sorry. If there is anything that I can do for you or Madi or…you have all made me feel very welcome here since I arrived when we all know I had no right at all to be a part of Pansy’s life.”

“Well she certainly disagreed with that theory, and though I gave you a bit of a rough time I also can not find truth in your statement. She loved you and you loved her and its true that circumstance and dysfunction made your path difficult, but in the…end…you were together and that is all she ever wanted.” Blaise took a deep breath and was obviously holding back tears.

“I was happy to provide her what she needed in her final days; it is the least I could do after being the one who subjected her to a violent and dismal life. And now that she has moved on, hopefully to brighter times, I will be on my way.” Draco started to walk away when Blaise turned and blurted.

“You’re leaving…now…before the funeral?” Blaise closed the distance between them and continued with utter shock, “Draco, I realize that this will be one of the most difficult things you will ever do, but I assure you that you will have no life at all if you do not figure out a way to get through it. Do you have any idea how devastated she would be that you were not at her funeral?”

Draco took a deep breath and a cold expression rushed across his face, “She’s dead, Blaise. I can no longer offend or hurt her.” He had barely choked the words out, but continued as convincingly as he could muster, “I felt bad when I ran into her that day at the pub, and I thought that I owed it to her to spend some time. Then when she told me she was dying I felt like I had to stay and –”

“You had to stay? Am I supposed to believe this Malfoy because I don’t,” Blaise crossed his arms over his chest and started rocking on his boots, “In fact just stop talking because you are obviously upset, we all are, and its important that nothing is said right now that could never be taken back.” He waited for a response, some expression from Draco that said he agreed, but when the blond maintained his cold expression Blaise started toward the house.

“Even I’m not heartless enough to have a dying woman say I love you and not say it back. I pacified her Blaise, because I owed her at least that. But I have a wife and a family and a career…a life all my own in London…and it is time for me I to return to that.” Draco thought he might throw up as he waited for Blaise to turn around. He was disgusted with every word he uttered, and hoped that his old friend would be incited enough to carry out the plan.

“Go then…” Blaise did not turn around and as he trailed off he continued walking away.

What? Draco was furious with Blaise’s disregard toward what he said and he started walking after him, “That’s all you’ve got, Zabini? What, she’s dead now so you don’t have to defend her anymore?”

Blaise turned and in an instant was standing directly in front of Draco; his wand pushed firmly into the side of the blond’s neck, “I would have died for her, Draco; and I know that you would have too. But that wasn’t an option, and so no I will not be giving you what you are looking for right now. If you want someone to kill you, because you still haven’t figured out how to do anything on your own, you will have to find someone else.” He pulled his wand away and started to back up when Draco grabbed his hand and held the wand to his own neck.

“Please…” was all that Draco could muster as more tears fell relentlessly down his already burning pale skin.

“And what about all that you mentioned before; your wife and your son and your career? What about the new family that you have now? What should become of them? What should become of me if you leave too?” Blaise pulled his hand away from Draco’s then looked down and sighed, “You wanted to give her everything Draco, I always believed that and most especially after the war, when you found her at the shelter and you had your year together at the magic cottage. All she wanted was for you to be happy, with her or not, and if you still wish to give her what she wanted then you will figure out a way to live.”

Draco met Blaise’s eyes and he shook his head, “I don’t know if I –”

“DADDY!”

Blaise turned and Draco’s heart skipped when Scorpius started running across the yard and flew into his father’s open arms. Draco held him so tightly that the little boy squirmed a bit then he pulled away and smiled, “What are you doing here?”

“I came from London with mum and grandmum said that I could come see you. She said that Harry Potter was here, and he is…just inside…and he gave me this,” the little blond boy held up a licorice wand and took a bite. Still chewing Scorpius looked at Blaise, “Hello.”

“Hello,” Blaise smiled then looked to Draco, “I think you just figured everything out so I will leave you.”

Scorpius reached out and grabbed Blaise’s arm as he started away. He pulled him back and looked into his eyes, “She loves you very much, they both do…and they hope you do not delay your plans for the future.”

Blaise’s mouth dropped slightly open and tears fell from his eyes. He looked from Draco’s awestruck expression to the little blond boy and smiled, “You are very gifted indeed, Master Malfoy…and thank you. If you are able please let them both know how much I love them too.”

“They are here of course, always with you…so tell them yourself anytime you need.” Scorpius smiled then blushed and buried his face in Draco’s shoulder.

“I…” Draco reached up and wiped his tearing eyes, “I’m not sure what to say.”

“He said it all,” Blaise rubbed Scorpius’ back then turned and walked away. He nodded at Astoria as he passed and walked into the house.

Astoria approached quickly and smiled, “I hope it was all right that I brought him. Harry and Ginny thought that it would be good for you and he was going mental at the hotel.”

“This is perfect,” Draco hugged tight to Scorpius and reached to pull Astoria to him, “It may be a while, but I promise I will figure out a way to be everything you both need as soon as I possibly can.”

There was nothing more to say as the Malfoys stood in the back yard of Pansy’s house together again at last.


5 September 2010

My Dearest Pansy,

I had no idea that while I was dreaming about Emma I was missing your final breath. I wonder if I would have been able to prevent myself from concocting a potion right there and joining you if I had witnessed the actual end of your life. I imagine we were in our own way star crossed lovers from the very beginning; tragic without question. I tried this afternoon to get Blaise to kill me, but he refused. I suppose you left him with adequate instructions on how to handle me; and he will of course pass these details onto all the others who will be swarming and smothering over the next few days. No one knew me better so you also know that I will resist relentlessly. I do not want to have a happy life without you; I never did. I do not want to accept that I can never talk to you or smell your hair or hear your heartbeat ever again. You brought this very strange assortment of people together and left us to deal with each other. It’s all very Slytherin of you.

Speaking of Potter, he asked if I wanted to say something at your memorial. I hope that you understand I can not. If what Scorpius says is true you will be there and I certainly mean no disrespect; nor does it speak at all to how much you mean to me or how much I love you. If I can even breathe it will be an accomplishment, and I believe I said most of what I needed to say to you before it was too late. Anything more I will tell you every day because I hope that you really are with me all the time. I can still feel you, but it may only be because I can not yet believe that you are gone at all. I keep catching myself planning how I am going to go looking for you. You can be relieved to know that I am sane enough to accept that I can not follow you. We can thank Scorpius for that and Emma by way of a dream…that’s all this feels like now…a very bad dream.

Another tear fell against the parchment and caused the ink to run so Draco closed his journal, then his eyes and rested his head back. He was startled when he heard the door and looked up to see Ginny walking across Pansy’s living room. She sat next to him on the sofa and smiled, “I’m surprised to see you here.”

“Everyone seemed to have the same idea,” he looked down and sighed as he continued, “I couldn’t stay away…and Astoria and Scorpius were both asleep so I chose not to fight the impulse. The rest of the lot is outside reminiscing except…” he trailed off when the door opened again and Harry walked in, “Never mind there he is.”

Harry walked over and set down the bags he was carrying, “Glad you made it; why are you in here by yourself?”

Draco chuckled quietly, Wow Pans, you put everyone on suicide watch. He shook the thought and stood, “I was putting down some thoughts, but now that you’re here Potter I’ll rush right outside.” The blond caught himself smiling, but rolled his eyes instead then started toward the patio door when Harry interrupted.

“Actually Draco…may I have a minute?” Harry sat when Draco turned and as Ginny walked outside the blond sat in the chair across the coffee table. Harry took a deep breath and looked at Draco, “As Pansy’s secret keeper I have one more disposition to make,” he paused and pulled a piece of parchment from his jacket. “She wanted you to have this.”

The blond took the parchment without hesitation then looked up at Harry, “What is it?”

“I have no idea; she only told me to give it to you…and so I have.” Harry stood, “If you need anything we are right outside.” Harry walked out the door and closed it behind him; Draco opened the parchment and sat back in the chair.

My dearest and most beautiful Draco,

I hope you are not angry with me…I held on as long as I possibly could, I promise. I wanted you to know that this last month was so amazing. I felt how much you loved me every day; even before you could say it and even when we were apart. You made me happy more often than you could ever imagine and certainly more than you would ever give yourself credit for. You have become the man I always knew you could and you are brilliant…please, please, please tell yourself that every day! Further, I knew that you found out about the potion. It never ceased to amaze me that you actually thought you could keep anything from me. I’m sorry that you found out at all, and even more so that I was not the one to tell you, but promise me right now that you will not blame yourself. Destiny dealt us this hand and there were moments of perfection woven into the fabric of despair…I would not trade any blissful moment we shared even if it meant I was still there breathing. I hope these are the worst times you ever know.

I do have a few last requests…

Do not push away the new members of your family…and do not let your friendship with Blaise suffer any more than it already has. All you ever needed were people who loved you Draco, and you have that now, so don’t run from them. Not to mention, Blaise is going to need a best man soon…and if its not soon then be a good man and urge him along. I imagine I will have a lot of time on my hands now and watching all of you navigate through continued exchanges without me will be amusing.

Please tell Astoria that there are no words to thank her for allowing me to spend these last few weeks with you. Promise me that you will make things work with her because believe it or not she made this brilliant life you have possible. I am heartbroken that I was not able to meet Scorpius, but I know for a fact he’s the spitting image of you; and he has an amazing father so I have no doubt he will be a constant source of joy for you and Astoria. I wish you all the magic life has to offer and more…so never feel guilty that you love your life…just remember that you did as I asked.

Last, but not least, there is a box in my bedroom closet that I need you to find. Its green, has my initials on it, and is locked, but Blaise will know how to open it. Inside you will find a key to my vault at Gringotts where I have left instructions for the disposition of my things. There are bank accounts set up for all of the children to purchase something fun and special for their first term at Hogwarts. There is a little extra for Scorpius, from his sister, and she would have wanted him to use it for his pet…she would have suggested a ferret, but I leave it to your discretion. Also in this box you will find several journals of letters…they are to you so please take them if you like. I have told you everything now so…well…except for one more thing… which no one else knows and I hesitate to even share, but…

Please forgive me Draco…for anything and everything I ever did that may have hurt you, but most especially for what I confess here. I killed Lucius…I could not let you live with doing it yourself, but I also could not let you live under his control any longer. I learned a lot in New Orleans and…it was obviously untraceable and one of the worst things I have ever done, but given the opportunity to do it over I would change nothing. That is the day that I knew you were finally safe; I only hope that you can forgive me.

I love you…so much that it overwhelmed me most times and I love you even more that you loved me in return. We were brilliant together any time the universe allowed; keep those memories close and release all the rest. I will always be with you, even if you can’t see or hear me, I’ll always be around. And I will see you next lifetime…that’s a promise.

Eternally yours,

Pans

P.S. Please try and be nice to Harry. I’m pretty sure that once they meet, Scorpius and Albus are going to get on famously and it will be unfair to discourage their friendship just because you and Harry think it’s wrong to admit you two are already friends. Don’t make me haunt you…it will not be pretty.

Please haunt me…please. Draco read the letter over and over until he was interrupted by the patio door and Blaise walking in. The blond folded the parchment and put it in his book then looked up, “I was just coming outside.”

“Well good because I was just coming in to check on you.” Blaise sat down in the chair across from Draco and examined him quietly for a moment before continuing, “How are you holding up?”

Draco reached up and dried his eyes for the millionth time and sighed, “I’m not…but I’ll be all right. Potter gave me this letter that Pansy wrote me. She mentioned something about a green box in her closet with a key to her Gringotts vault and books of letters that she said I could have. I can let you read the letter or –”

“She told me you would be asking for them. Do you want them now or –”

“No, I don’t think I can handle it now.” Draco looked down and sighed, “I’m not sure how we are supposed to handle any of this.”

“One minute at a time,” Blaise put a comforting hand on Draco’s shoulder and continued when the blond looked up, “And together…so why don’t you join everyone outside?”

Draco followed Blaise’s lead, stood and walked out to everyone sitting around a blazing fire in the yard. He sat down in between Madi and Ginny and felt as normal as he had in days. Everyone continued with their stories and memories of all the good times they had shared with Pansy and Draco sat back and soaked it all in. As the wee hours of morning approached everyone retreated to their respective houses and hotels to toss and turn until the sun rose.


The next morning brought Draco’s remaining defenses crashing down and he was barely able to get out of bed let alone stop crying; remembering to breathe was a challenge. Narcissa decided to take Scorpius out for the day and joined Molly, Ginny, and Hermione for a distraction in the city. Madi stayed in contact with Astoria throughout the day, as Blaise was in a similar state of distress, but otherwise everyone seemed to keep their distance. By evening Astoria sat on the bed next to Draco and gently ran her fingers through his hair, “I have to insist that you try and eat something Love.”

He rolled over and looked up at her, “All I want to do is throw up. I can’t eat, I can’t breathe, I can’t stop crying,” Draco sat up and roughly ran his hands up his face and through his hair, “I can’t do this. I can not accept that she is gone.”

Astoria wrapped her arms around him tightly, “It will take time, but you will find a way to manage it.” Tears welled up in her eyes as Draco cried and trembled against her, “I promise I will help you any way I can.”

After several minutes Draco pulled away, “We have a great many things to discuss.”

“And we will, but for now you should just rest.” Astoria kissed him gently and ran her fingers through his hair when he collapsed against the pillow. Just as Draco seemed to calm the hotel room door opened and Scorpius came running into the room.

The little blond boy jumped up on the bed and sat next to Draco. He set a container of food on the bed and put his head on Draco’s shoulder, “A lovely redheaded woman called Colleen said this is your favorite. I thought you might be hungry daddy, and this came from a place named after a dragon; just like you.”

Draco smiled at his son and sat up, “Thank you,” he fought back tears as the memories of The Piasa flooded his mind, “I’ll eat this later.” He pulled Scorpius into his lap, “Did you have a good time today?”

“I met a new friend today. He is Harry Potter’s son…his name is Al…and his mum said that she would talk to mum about an outing when we get back to London. He is named after Headmasters at Hogwarts and he knows all about magic. I know of course that I’m not supposed to do magic and he is not allowed either so we just talked about it. He said that his dad and you didn’t used to like each other, but that Pansy made everyone get along. Can we go on an outing with Al daddy? Please?” Scorpius finally stopped rambling and looked up with wide pleading eyes at Draco.

Astoria giggled and Draco rolled his eyes when Scorpius was distracted. He took a deep breath and smiled when the little boy looked back at him, “We will see what can be arranged. You should know of course that little Albus Potter will be a Gryffindor –”

“Draco!” Astoria and Narcissa reprimanded simultaneously and Astoria continued, “Do not breed that animosity. I think it is wonderful that he made a new friend. Besides how do you know Scorpius won’t be a Gry –”

Draco’s mouth dropped before he snapped, “Don’t even say it!” He calmed immediately and looked back to Scorpius, “So what other headmaster was he named after? Dippet? Oh I bet that Black family member or –”

Severus…didn’t you know a Severus once daddy?” Scorpius started bouncing on the bed and playing with a plastic dragon he pulled out of his pocket.

“I did…” Draco trailed off and resisted the impulse for another trip down memory lane. He turned to his mother and tried to change the subject, “And you allowed all of this did you?”

“We had a brilliant day. I’m quite certain Molly Weasley concealed her wand, ready to attack me for the first hour or so, but she came around. Scorpius adored Blaise’s fiancé –”

Fiancé?” This time Draco and Astoria shared an outburst in unison and before either could respond Narcissa continued.

“It has not happened yet, but…well a mother knows things.” The Malfoy matriarch smiled as she continued, “In any event Ginny said that she will absolutely talk with you both about having a play date for the boys. They really did get along famously.”

Just like Pansy said they would. Draco was distracted from his thoughts when Astoria and Narcissa started talking about how wonderful it would be if Draco Malfoy’s and Harry Potter’s sons became best friends. He felt his stomach turn a bit then started thinking about how much his feelings toward Harry Potter had changed over the last ten years; especially the most recent four weeks. It made Draco’s overall existence more peaceful to finally put the past behind him and that was just another wonderful thing that Pansy made possible. The idea of maintaining the peace without her, doing anything at all without her again, and forever, started wearing at him and he lay back against the pillows.

Astoria looked over with concern, “Are you sure you will not eat just a little?”

Draco opened his eyes and forced a reassuring smile, “I will eat later I promise. Right now I would like to rest a while.”

“I’ll lay down with you daddy; I’m tired too.” Scorpius moved the box of food and lay down in front of Draco. He put his head on the pillow then reached over, touched Draco’s face, and whispered, “Close your eyes…”

Draco followed the instructions and wrapped his arm around Scorpius when he moved next to him. Within minutes they were both fast asleep.


The sun shown brightly through the hotel room window as Draco slid his jacket over a neatly pressed green shirt and perfectly matched black and white tie; Please just come back Pansy so that I do not have to do this today. The blond was startled by the feel of a hand on his arm; he turned and pulled Astoria into a tight embrace, “I can never thank you enough for being with me today.”

“Whatever you need,” she pulled away and took his hand, “We should go; we are meeting Blaise and Madi at the house.”

Scorpius ran up and took Draco’s other hand, “I love you daddy.”

“I love you too,” Draco squeezed both hands in his and took a deep breath, “Let’s go.”


Pansy’s memorial was held at the cemetery; she had already been buried, next to Emma, and both graves were covered with the most beautiful flowers imaginable. Harry started out with a lovely tribute to Pansy and brilliant words and stories were added by several members of the Weasley family, patrons of the pub, and lastly Madi who made it impossible for anyone to hold onto the last bits of composure available. Afterwards everyone headed to Madi’s old diner where she had arranged a small reception for the family.

Draco and Blaise stayed back and stood side by side in front of Pansy’s grave. They were silent for nearly a half hour when Blaise spoke quietly, “I thought a lot about that day I stood right here with Pansy seven years ago. I wondered when I finally lost her too if you would be standing here or not. I’m relieved that you are.”

The blond did not break his stare on Pansy’s name etched on the headstone below, but responded, “I never really realized how close you two were when we were at Hogwarts…guess I never paid attention.”

“Hogwarts…Pansy was in love with you and you were in love with yourself; the fact that I was in love with her seemed irrelevant all things considered. I would not trade the relationship we had though for anything in the world…except the opportunity to have her and Emma back.” Blaise quickly wiped a tear rolling down his face, “Did Pansy tell you that she basically trained Emma to say daddy every time she saw a ferret?” He could not help, but chuckle and when he finally looked up at Draco’s agitated and offended expression he laughed, “I’m sorry…but it’s just like her to leave something like that out.”

“I have a feeling she left a lot out. I’m hoping that maybe you and I can sit down one day and you can fill in the blanks…at least some of them.” Draco smiled sadly then looked back down at Pansy’s headstone, “She wanted us to figure out a way to co-exist again Blaise and I want that too.”

“Actually she wanted us to figure out a way to be friends again; I got the lecture too. And just like I told Pans…we’ve always been friends. I have always been taking care of one of you…without that chore whatever would become of me?” Blaise chuckled again and looked over at Draco.

“Will you come back to London?” Draco looked up and hoped for a positive response.

“No, I live here now and Pansy left Madi the pub so we will visit, but this is home.” Blaise looked down for a quiet moment then back up at Draco and smiled, “You will of course have to return later this year because I’ll be in need of a best man. I stood up for you so I would expect you to return the favor.”

Draco chuckled quietly, “Funny I didn’t remember seeing a ring on the beautiful lady’s finger. Shouldn’t that come first?”

Blaise was suddenly shy about the conversation, “I did not think today was an appropriate day so I’m going to do it tomorrow. And was that a yes?”

“Send me list of my responsibilities and I will carry them out.” Draco extended his hand, “And congratulations if she says yes.”

If?” Blaise took Draco’s hand and pulled him into a hug.

The mood was lightened and though neither talked about it Pansy’s presence was everywhere. After a few more moments of reminiscing they turned and started walking from the graves and both disapparated from sight.


Draco and Blaise walked into the diner and while Blaise walked straight to Madi and pulled her into a hug, Draco stood back in the doorway and observed. Narcissa was sitting at a table with the Weasley women, including the little ones, discussing old family recipes while the Weasley men and Harry sat across the room talking to the older boys about Quidditch. Astoria and Ginny were seated at a table in the center of the room organizing outings upon their return to London and shouting out reprimands to Scorpius and Al who were running around the diner as if it was a playground. Blaise and Madi crossed the room and interrupted Draco’s observations and he looked up at smiled.

“That is a brilliant sight…you smiling.” Madi hugged Draco tight then returned to Blaise’s side, “It is a relief actually to see you both so peaceful…it’s been a rough day.”

Draco looked around again then returned his focus to Madi, “Today may well be one of the worst I’ve know, but at the same time I can look around here and say that at least the war is finally over. I’m just sorry Pansy isn’t here to see it.” Before anyone could respond or Draco could continue a breeze blew the door open and carried through the room a strong fragrance of lavender and vanilla. Draco closed his eyes and let the presence of Pansy filter in his senses.

Suddenly Scorpius stopped running right in front of Draco, “See daddy…I told you they are here.” Without allowing time for any response he continued his playful chasing after Al.

Draco looked at Blaise and Madi and shrugged his shoulders. Blaise chuckled and watched the boys running around, “He’s a little strange, Draco.”

“Well if this is as strange as he gets then I can handle it.” The blond smiled and when Astoria met his eye he excused himself and walked over to sit next to her. He took her hand and whispered in her ear, “I love you,” then sat back and continued soaking in the goings on with his new extended family.

The pain in his chest every time he scanned the room and Pansy was no where to be found remained, but he could see her face and hear her heartbeat in every person in the room. She had been right about feeling her with him and if the Potters and the Weasleys made that feeling even stronger then he would gladly keep them all as close as possible.


13 October 2010

We have been back in London for a little more than a month. It goes without saying that first week back was one of the most draining and horrifying times of my entire life. I am not sure how to exactly qualify the mood now. I continue to struggle every minute with holding myself together, but there have also been times of great peace and happiness. Last week Blaise, Potter and I finally went to Gringotts and closed Pansy’s vault. Blaise also brought me the journals that Pansy referenced in her letter, but I have not had the strength to open them yet. I was barely able to tell Astoria everything that happened and all of the truths that needed to be shared; about Emma and about my involvement in the potion. She has been lecturing me ever since about not holding onto guilt…perhaps that will come in time, but for now I am consumed by it. The only calming thought I can hold onto in this regard is that Pansy had her ultimate revenge and killed the bastard that ruined all of our lives. Just one more thing that she has given me…

There is not a minute that has passed when I have not thought of her…missed her. At the same time being home with Astoria and Scorpius has been brilliant. I know that I must pull myself together for them…and I want to. I must give them what I was never able to give Pansy and Emma. Scorpius has a good start for Hogwarts. Pansy left strict instructions that whatever he buys with the money she left him must be fun. I assume this purchase will end up being a broom. I can assure with the Emma fund he will not be buying a ferret…a nice owl will do just fine. It’s hard to even think that far ahead now…what will have become of us by then?

One thing is certain; the Malfoy/Potter war is over. Scorpius and Al have already had several play dates since we arrived home and Blaise and I will be joining Potter, Ron and George for a Quidditch scrimmage this weekend. The littlest Weasley has decided to play for our side in order to even out the teams. I’m quite certain I see a little Slytherin in that girl…winning will bring it out even more. Speaking of Hogwarts…Madi wants to get married on the grounds there. It seems like a hundred years since I’ve been back to the castle, but selfishly I’m hoping Blaise agrees because it will give me an excuse to return and…I know I will be able to feel Pansy even more strongly within those walls. They have decided on a date next April and that is all these women can talk about. It has been a blessing that Blaise and Madi decided to stay in London for a while. It’s strange because we all find ourselves having fun and then sometimes almost stop as if that is not allowed. But it’s what Pansy wanted; I just have to keep telling myself that.

I miss her so much, but every time I dream about her and Emma together it eases the dull burn in my chest. I think I will always be a little lost without her, but every day has been better. The memories of her are starting to warm me and the love I feel for her is filling the hole in my heart instead of breaking it. I know now that she has kept her promise and that I will always feel her with me; and for now I accept that must be enough. I will honor her wishes and am ready to find a way to live.

Draco closed his book when he heard a knock at the door; he stood and walked into the foyer just as Astoria opened the door and Albus Potter came busting through it. He stopped at the bottom of the staircase as Scorpius stood at the top then rushed up when invited. Harry and Ginny walked in and Ginny blushed, “I am so sorry. He has manners I assure you, but he was so excited about today.”

Astoria laughed as she closed the door, “No apologies necessary; Scorpius has been bouncing off walls all morning. Do you have time to come in and sit?”

“Of course,” Ginny smiled and followed Astoria into the great room. She nodded and smiled at Draco when she passed.

Left alone in the foyer Draco walked over and addressed Harry, “So…I was thinking about returning to my potion lab this afternoon…want to blow things up?”

Harry chuckled and responded with enthusiasm, “Sounds brilliant; as long as you’re not planning on blowing me up.”

“Let us not develop new trust issues now, Potter. Our children are becoming close friends and I’m afraid so are our wives…we therefore are stuck together…just like always.” Draco rolled his eyes, but smiled before leading the way to the staircase and down to the potion lab. “Oh…I should warn you…Astoria’s sister and that husband of hers will be coming over later today.”

Harry chuckled as he followed Draco down the stairs, “We should grab a hair from Oliver to concoct a polyjuice potion and then go get him in some trouble in London; nothing serious of course…just something to knock him down a peg or two.”

Draco’s mouth dropped slightly, but quickly turned into a smile, “Spoken like a true Slytherin, Potter…I’m impressed.”

“Yes well I’ve had the opportunity of observing the best,” Harry smiled as he took his place on the opposite side of the potion table from Draco, “We had to find some common ground right?”

“Indeed,” Draco smiled then pointed his wand at the cabinet across the room causing ingredients and supplies to float to the table. “So, I was gifted with instructions for an elation potion many years ago by a mysterious potion mistress I met in London. She was very odd, I’m quite sure her appearance, her hair most especially was a glamour, and she kept stressing that the potion would supply required balance. I was thinking of trying it out.”

“She just gave it to you?” Harry looked skeptical as Draco opened his potion journal and flipped through the pages.

The blond looked up after finding the potion, “We traded actually; she was in need of a shielding potion and I have one of the best.” Draco paused to survey the concern on Harry’s face then he rolled his eyes, “It’s an elation potion Potter…at best it’s going to make you more tolerable and at worst we’ll blow up the Manor.”

Harry shook his head and chuckled as Draco pointed his wand to light the fire beneath the cauldron. The blond pushed the ingredients into the center of the table and looked up at his long time adversary, “Are you comfortable with this, Gryffindor? Or would you prefer to join the women in their endless discussion of the perfect wedding gown for Madison?”

Harry laughed and started reading over the potion in Draco’s book. “She hates when you call her that you know?”

“And that would be why I continue to do so. I may not be evil anymore Potter, but I’ve still been put on this earth to irritate from time to time.” Draco began measuring the first ingredient then poured it into the cauldron, “If she is going to be part of this family she might as well develop a tolerance now.”

A brief silence developed as the two men continued concocting the potion. As Harry added the last ingredient he started to speak when the potion lab door opened and Blaise walked in. He approached the table and looked into the cauldron, “You couldn’t even wait for me?”

“You’re late,” Draco stirred the potion as green and red steam poured from it, “And you were against the elation potion anyway.”

“You said that the witch who gave it to you was a bit unstable. I only worry that it is not an elation potion at all. What if your hair falls out, or you fall in love with Potter or something?” Blaise put his hands up as glares came from both men, “Pansy said it first.”

Draco continued to dart a glaring stare at Blaise, “It wasn’t funny then either.” The blond looked over at Harry, “I assure you that there is no potion in this world or any other that could ever –”

Harry smiled uncomfortably as he interrupted, “Can we please just stop talking about this?” He carefully reread the potion ingredients looking for anything unusual, “Why did we use the strawberry?”

“She said it was only for taste purposes, same with the peppermint,” Draco stopped stirring and pointed his wand at the table. Three small glasses appeared and he looked at Harry and Blaise, “Maybe it’s just me, but I could use a little elation right now.” He was relieved to see agreement in the expressions across the table and poured the potion into the glasses. Each took their glass from the table and held them up to toast as Draco stated simply, “To Pansy,” and they drank.

For a few minutes they all just sat quietly waiting to feel differently when suddenly Harry stood up and smiled, “I think we should go to London.”

Blaise returned the smile and spoke with equal enthusiasm, “I think that is a brilliant idea.” They both looked to Draco who grinned as he pointed his wand to extinguish the flame beneath the cauldron.

“Pub?” Draco started toward the door without waiting for a response.

“Definitely,” Blaise and Harry responded in unison and followed Draco upstairs.

After a brief explanation to their significant others all three men disapparated from the foyer to a pub of Blaise’s choosing. Standing outside, Draco interrupted before they walked in, “I know this place,” he looked at Blaise strangely for a moment then continued, “The Cupboard? This is where Pansy worked and…why did you chose this place?”

Blaise walked inside and Harry and Draco followed. He went directly for a booth in the corner, just across from the door and sat down. Harry smiled, obviously privy to his friend’s motives and Blaise finally responded to Draco’s inquiry with a devious grin, “Well since we’re already feeling so elated I thought we would come here, reminisce a bit…and there is this Muggle I always hoped to run into again.”

A waitress came over and took their orders and within minutes she returned with three glasses and a bottle of whiskey. Draco took a long drink and looked at Blaise, “You’re acting very strange right now. What on earth could you have to do with a Muggle?” Draco watched his friend’s attention focus on the opening door of the pub and the blond turned to see a tall blond haired man walk in and directly over to the bar. His stomach turned slightly as if he had seen the Muggle before and when he turned back to Blaise his suspicions were confirmed.

“Draco Malfoy, I think that it is time you are formally introduced to Riley MacAulay.” Blaise smiled almost manically then focused his attention back at the bar, “I promised her I would not kill him, but I think its time he learns a lesson about the dangers of playing with wizards.” Blaise returned his attention to Draco and Harry, “Anyone care to join me?”

Harry filled the glasses around the table then lifted his in the air, “One more time…to Pansy.”

Draco’s shock at Blaise’s suggestion was nothing compared to the near delight he took from Harry Potter’s enthusiastic agreement to wrong doing. He raised his glass and smiled, “And she would love every minute of this; a good taunting and something we have all found to do together.”

Blaise raised his glass then led the way to drinking, standing and walking over to the bar. He tapped Riley on the shoulder and when the blond man turned he smiled, “My good friend Riley…the time has finally arrived mate. Introductions of course; Riley MacAulay this is Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy.”

Riley immediately started to move away, but he was cornered. He started to speak, but Draco held up his hand and magically silenced him. “That won’t be necessary. There is nothing you can say, nothing you can do to help yourself now. I certainly hope my father made your activities worth it. Now if you’re ready…the chosen one is going to take you outside and get us started.”

Harry grabbed Riley’s shirt and they disapparated from sight. Blaise chuckled and Draco looked over and joined the laughter, “I’m not sure if it’s the potion or the return to a darker place, but this is incredible. I can not believe Potter…so unexpected.”

“He should have been a Slytherin.” Blaise laughed then started toward the back door of the pub that led to the alley, “I can only imagine the trouble the four of us could have gotten into all those years ago.”

“Five…the littlest Weasley should have been Slytherin too,” Draco followed and allowed his mind to drift back to the days of Hogwarts, the many fights and feelings and events and heartaches that shaped the person he was. It did not take long for him to feel warmed with memories of Pansy after the war, after he found her and their year together in the forest. Even after they emerged into the alley Draco could not pull his focus from the last four weeks he had with Pansy and he wondered if he was about to cry, despite the elation potion.

Suddenly Harry yelled to Draco, snapping him out of his trance, “So Malfoy, what were you thinking we could turn our good Muggle friend Riley into again?”

Draco smiled and approached Harry and Blaise standing over a terrified, but completely unharmed Riley cowering on the ground. “I think that we should turn him into the rat that he is and feed him to a snake; an appropriate circle of life.”

Blaise looked deep into the man’s eyes and laughed, “It’s a bit difficult to read which one of us he is more afraid of. I can understand the dilemma, but I think I will have to go with Draco on this one.”

Riley, whose ability to speak had been restored pleaded suddenly, “I am so sorry. He made me do it. I actually did like Pansy…loved her probably and –” The blond man cowered again as three wands were suddenly pressed against various places on his body.

Draco leaned forward and whispered menacingly, “You chose the wrong three wizards to talk to about loving Pansy. If you ever even say her name again you will spend the rest of your miserable life without a tongue. Do we understand each other?”

Riley nodded and continued to shake before them. Draco did not take his death inducing glare off the man as he continued, “So…what are we thinking gentlemen?” Before either could answer a powerful breeze blew through the alley and the fragrance of lavender and vanilla filled the air. Without a word spoken all three wizards lowered their wands and backed away from the terrorized man and Draco spoke calmly, “You should run… now.”

There was no hesitation; Riley ran as quickly as if he was able to apparate. There was complete silence other than his footsteps pounding through the puddles in the alley and once he was gone Draco, Blaise and Harry continued to stand and breathe in the lingering breeze that reminded them Pansy was always watching. After several long moments Blaise finally interrupted the silence, “Leaky Cauldron?”

Harry and Draco both nodded and without another word Blaise disapparated and then Harry. Draco stayed for a moment and took another long breath that he held until his heart started to race. He exhaled slowly and whispered, “I love you,” then disapparated from sight.

The End


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