A/N: Well all of my reviews for this story were wiped out when the site crashed. Bugger! I'm not asking for replacements. Just needed to vent my frustration. Without further ado...
Chapter 4 – “Bloody Impossible”
“Grandchildren?” Pansy muttered to herself, trying to fathom the meaning of the word and how it applied to her.
Unmoving, she watched the open yet vacant doorway, nearly suffocating in the wrenches of anticipation. Suddenly a tall, lanky ginger haired figure stepped into her line of vision, and she froze. All of her coherency bled away as only the compulsion to scan his features and hungrily cache away the sight of him overwhelmed her.
He was speaking to her father now, but somehow the words just weren’t making it to her ears. All she saw was his eyes… his smile… his lips moving, all in slow motion. She felt something indescribable building up in her chest when suddenly a sharp tug on the bottom of her robes grabbed her attention.
She looked down to find a chubby little face beaming up at her. The baby released her dress and wobbled uncertainly as he stretched up his arms to her. Once he’d reached his full height, he began to clench and unclench his hands, balling them up into tiny little fists then unfurling them to their extreme.
“What’s this? I don’t understand this?” Pansy softly ribbed him, emulating the small boy’s hand motions.
The child giggled at her teasing and persisted with his nonverbal request, falling into her and pushing back off every now and then when he lost his balance. Thoroughly enthralled by the look of devilish glee in his eyes, Pansy simply watched the boy. After nearly a minute of this, the slight falter of his toothy grin warned her that his patience was about to run out. Before he could make the full swing from happy cherub to squealing banshee at her inaction, Pansy swooped down and hauled the baby into her arms.
“Upsy daisy, Robbie!” she grunted as she lifted the child onto her hip.
As quickly as the impending storm had come on, the baby’s face cleared of all upset. Instead he chose to place his sticky, little hands on her cheeks, her nose, into her hair, and finally back onto her cheeks, softly babbling nonsense the whole while. She gave him her full attention and offered up the odd “Really?” and “That’s unbelievable!” as means of encouraging his discourse. She just had to keep him talking. He was altogether too surreal. It was like looking at a miniature version of her father.
Across the room, the quiet conversation between husband and father-in-law fell silent as their focus was drawn to mother and child. Feeling their eyes on her, Pansy tore her sights away from the boy and glanced over to meet their gaze head on.
“Yes?” she quipped primly.
Both men stood utterly flabbergasted. Pansy became unnerved by the intensity of their stare. There was far too much meaning in their eyes that she simply did not understand.
“What? Am I doing it wrong?” she panicked.
Her question snapped Percy from his daze. He shook his head roughly and launched himself toward her. “No, no. Not at all… Sorry about that. He’s rather… um… Here, let me…”
“I’m fine, thank you,” she growled, moving away from him and placing the length of the settee between them. “He’s fine. Aren’t you, Robbie?” she directed the last to the boy in her arms who giggled in response.
“See!” she leveled at Percy.
“I… I know. I just didn’t want you… him to…” Percy stammered.
She scrunched up her forehead in confusion at his jilted sentence until its meaning hit her square in the chest and her eyes widened in indignation. “I won’t drop him,” she spat viciously and sat on the couch, babe still tightly held in arms.
“Of course you won’t. I didn’t mean… I know he’s perfectly safe…” Percy fumbled, looking down.
He turned away thoroughly abashed and tried to gather his wits. ‘Not two minutes talking with her and you’ve already stepped in it,’ he scolded himself, ‘not to mention the fact that you sound like a jabbering idiot.’
This just wasn’t going to work if he continued to let her affect him like this. He had to focus. Pansy’s voice edged its way into his thoughts.
“What’s he doing?” she asked tensely.
Percy turned around and found that his son had taken Pansy’s entire chin in his mouth. She was holding the child stiffly and looking extremely nonplussed. He couldn’t help but chuckle at the sight.
“Sorry. He used to bite us on the chin or nose when he first started teething. I guess the gnawing felt good. It kind of grew into an affectionate… well… It’s his way of kissing you.”
“He’s kissing me?” Pansy asked skeptically, shifting only her eyes over to Percy.
“Yes,” Percy mumbled as he fidgeted anxiously at her less than impressed tone. “I can take him if it’s bothering you.”
“No, that’s fine. It’s fine,” she responded stoically.
“Lucky thing it wasn’t your nose actually,” he offered with nervous joviality. “He has quite a few teeth now.”
“Yes,” Pansy responded coolly.
As if sensing her final acceptance of the gesture, Robbie released her chin, placed his head on her shoulder, and nuzzled his face into the crook of her neck.
“He’s not falling asleep, is he?” Pansy asked, her voice trembling between hope and dread.
“No, he’s just hankering for a cuddle. He’s used to getting them every day, and what with you being here instead, he’s been a little…” Percy trailed off.
“Yes, I get the picture,” she interjected tersely, rolling her eyes yet cinching her arms closer around the baby.
After a yawning silence, Percy cleared his throat and drove on with his plan. “So, your father tells me you have very little in the way of –”
“Of what?” she snipped dismissively.
“Of… of clothing, toiletries, other… things,” he continued, undeterred by her lack of interest.
Lips pinched, Pansy shot her father a black look. “Yes, well I was planning on a little shopping excursion once I was feeling more recovered.”
“What… what are you going to do until then?” Percy pushed on, now questioning the merit of the scheme.
“It should only be another few days,” she answered back with more confidence than she was feeling.
Percy gave a quick nod and looked down and away as if doing some quick calculations. “Would you like something from the house? You know, to tie you over,” he offered meekly, glancing back up.
“I want nothing from that hovel,” she spouted pompously.
“Pansy dear,” her father finally piped in, “I would hardly call your home a hovel.”
“And what would you call it, daddy?”
Parkinson pondered the question for a moment. “The word ‘estate’ comes to mind, Petal.”
She quirked an intrigued eyebrow at him, but despite her intense curiosity, she let her questions about their home drop. “I’m not really up for traveling,” she murmured as she looked back down at her son who was now playing with the frills of lace on her robes.
“You don’t have to. If you let me know what you need, I could gather some things for you and have them brought over,” Percy supplied.
“I hardly know what I have, you dunce. If you recall, I don’t remember any of it. How could I possibly give you a list without first seeing what’s available to me?” She looked about at nothing in particular agitated by his obvious stupidity.
“Yes, but if you knew the kinds of things you might need, then I could –“ Percy tried.
“I suppose I’ll have to make the trek,” she sighed to herself in a very put upon manner, ignoring his offer.
Percy tried to suppress the grin curling his lips. Pansy was reacting exactly how he and her father had hoped. She would come with him under the guise of retrieving her things in a bid to scope out their house. Once he got her there, then perhaps when she saw…
“How will we get there?” her voice cut into his plotting.
“Side-along apparition,” he answered her plainly.
“You mean I have to touch you?” she reeled back in disgust.
Percy’s face flushed red and his jaw clenched tightly as ire clouded his eyes. Before he could retort, an airy voice came from the door. “Hello, mummy.”
All three adults turned quickly to take in the little girl in the doorway. Pansy’s eyes became wide liquid pools, and she swallowed down the alarmingly fast growing lump in her throat. The child from the hospital was real. She’d been hoping it had all been a dream, but the proof of this reality was standing there across the way.
“Hello, angel,” Percy rejoined warmly with a wide smile.
Pansy, still unable to speak, looked up at him in awe. His previous anger at her was completely forgotten when addressing the girl. The child skipped in, gave her father a squeeze, and then came to stand in front of Pansy. It was unbelievably unsettling. Those eyes... her mother's... were driving into her. She felt the incredible urge to squirm under the child’s intense scrutiny.
Finally looking down unable to maintain the connection, Pansy muttered, “You… your hair is a mess.” It was all she could manage.
Penny smiled and tripped confidently a few steps closer to her mother. “Here,” she responded softly, handing Pansy a comb.
Pansy’s eyes poured over the object. “This is mine,” she mumbled in strained amazement.
“Mummy, I hope you don’t mind but I visited your room to put Gretchen on your pillow.”
“Gretchen? What… Who’s Gretchen?” Pansy asked, drawn out of her distraction by confusion.
“You know. My pygmy puff,” Penny clarified.
“You put a pygmy puff on my pillow?” Pansy asked flatly.
“So you wouldn’t be lonely.”
“I’m not lonely,” Pansy answered, affronted.
“Yes, you are, mummy.”
The astute observation completely floored Pansy. Penny turned around and took her mother’s stunned silence as her opportunity to start a ramble about the inconsequential points of her day. Pansy stared at the back of the child’s head vacantly for a long moment before inhaling sharply through her nose and recomposing herself. She shifted the dozing boy in her arms to a more secure position and then began to run the comb through the girl’s hair. This wasn’t so bad. She could handle motherhood if this was all there was to it. She wasn’t fool enough to actually believe that though.
Letting the image soak through him, Percy took one last look at the muted picture before stealing softly over to his father-in-law. Once situated at his side, both men quietly watched the scene unfolding before them.
“Thank Merlin Healer Marshall was right about Pansy and the children,” Robert murmured under his breath so only Percy could hear.
“I’m still not convinced,” Percy responded tightly.
“Look at her. What more convincing do you need?”
“You and I both know how she can turn on a galleon. I don’t want the children to be on the receiving end of her cruelty when she’s having an off day.”
“Neither do I, but you have to admit, Weasley, they do wonders for her mood.”
“They shouldn’t be expected to carry that burden,” he hissed back in a harsh whisper.
“Give it a rest, Percy. She’s fine with them and they need her.”
Both men fell silent as they continued to observe their family.
“There’s still Miranda.” Percy stated grimly. Robert shifted uncomfortably at the mention of his first grandchild’s name.
“She loves her mother. She’ll get past it,” Robert answered him with as much conviction as he could muster.
“We’ll see,” Percy offered up with an air of finality.
As if sensing the topic of their conversation, Pansy scoped about suddenly, realizing something was missing. “Mira? Miranda?” When no response came, Pansy felt a frenzy of panic begin to bubble within her. “Where’s Mira?” she demanded, pinning a fierce glare on Percy.
“Miranda has gone shopping for school supplies,” Percy responded with practiced calm.
“She received her Hogwarts letter a couple of weeks ago. You two were going to make a day of it but –“
“But –“ Pansy cut herself off though, the answer perfectly clear. She glanced about unseeing for a few moments before leveling him with a dark glare. “Who did she go with instead?”
Percy took a tense breath, gathering his courage for the unavoidable argument to come. “My sister, Ginny, took her.”
“Ginny Weasley? That little bi –“
“Mind your language,” he barked at her and then pointedly looked at the two small children who were now watching their exchange devoutly with wide eyes.
Sensing the need for some kind of intervention, Robert jumped from his position beside his desk and scurried over to the group. “Come along, chicklets. Time to tell gramps all about your summer schemes.”
“But grandpa, it’s just getting good,” Penny pleaded.
“Penelope, your parents need to work some things out.” Penny opened her mouth to argue her point, but Robert broke in first, “In private.”
He pried his grandson from Pansy’s clutching arms and escorted his tiny crew quickly from the room. Both Percy and Pansy watched their departure closely. Once they were gone, Percy flicked his wand toward the doorway and the door shut. A few more charms, and the room had been both muffilato-ed and imperturbed.
“Mira is my daughter. It’s my place to go with her,“ Pansy screeched at him.
“Your daughter? Perhaps physically but you don’t even remember her, and I’d hardly call your behaviour back at St. Mungo’s motherly to say the least,” Percy announced quickly as he tucked his wand back into his cloak.
Pansy visibly bristled. “Don’t change the subject. Your sister is going to fill my daughter’s head with utter trash about which house is best.”
“That’s ridiculous, Pansy.”
“Is it?” she challenged.
“Oh, come off it. We already know which house Miranda is headed for.”
“And which house would that be? Gryffindor?” she snarled at him, shooting up off the couch and into his personal space.
“That just proves how little you remember your daughter,” he snapped back viciously.
“Where? Where is Miranda going in your opinion, you insufferable wanker?”
“She’s already decided she wants to be in Hufflepuff.”
Mouth hanging open ever so slightly, Pansy stared at him in shock for a good ten seconds before doubling over in a fit of giggles.
“You’ve got to be kidding me. My daughter… my daughter is a Huffie Puff?” With that Pansy began to laugh even harder as she staggered back to the settee and collapsed in a heap upon its cushions.
Percy went absolutely rigid as his lips pressed into a tense, thin line.
Upon spotting his souring mood, Pansy stopped abruptly and gaped at him in disbelief. “You’re not serious. Why, the devil, would we allow her to… to… The puffiest of huffies?”
“We encourage our children to be who and what they want to be,” he quipped sharply, but Pansy merely huffed in response. “We also do not allow history or family opinion to colour their decisions. Miranda is very sensitive, but extremely protective and loyal. It’s just who she is.”
“That doesn’t alter the fact that she’s still my daughter whether you like it or not and I say I should’ve been the one with her to pick out her first wand.”
“She didn’t want you there,” he blurted out, incensed.
“Excuse me?” she stammered breathlessly.
Percy paused to choose his next words carefully. “Seeing you at the hospital was hard on her. You weren’t exactly the mother she knows.” He hesitated and shifted awkwardly. “She chose not to come today.”
Pansy felt a sudden inexplicable swell choke her. “You could have made her,” she lobbed at him, the accusation thick in her voice.
“Make her come? Why, the hell, would I do that? So you could just throw more insults at her?” he hurled right back.
Pansy vaulted off the settee and moved to the window in one swift motion, putting her back firmly to the room. Why did she care so much? Why did this cut so deeply? She barely knew this child. She didn’t want to know this child.
Regretting his tactlessness, Percy began to wring his hands only to have them find their way into his hair. “I’m sorry. She’ll get over it in a few days.”
“Fine,” Pansy bit out.
“Like I said she’s always been sensitive,” he tried weakly to reassure her to which Pansy gave no response.
After a full minute of excruciating silence, Percy finally couldn’t take the weight of the almost tangible tension in the air.
“Are you ready to go?” he asked softly as he tentatively held out his hand to her.
Pansy gave him a sharp sideways glance, narrowed her eyes, and then glared at the proffered hand in disgust. The idea of even touching the beanpole was thoroughly nauseating let alone holding his hand.
“Is it absolutely necessary? I mean, wouldn’t it be easier if I simply flooed? Or walked?” Pansy whinged.
Dropping his hand to his side, Percy pinned her with a withering glare. “The healers said you won’t be able to use the floo for a few weeks, and we both know you wouldn’t walk anywhere. You don’t remember the house, so there’s no way for you to get there except through side-along apparation.”
She regarded him with open defiance for several long seconds before letting out a long puff of air.
“Fine! If I must, then I suppose I must,” she announced through an exaggerated pout.
Forcing her shoulders down and back and sticking out her chin with cool pride, Pansy tentatively reached her hand out to him, feeling her stomach curdle at the contact to come. She imagined his hand to be clammy and skeletal, and felt the snake of repugnance slither further through her insides.
A ripple of tension rolled through Percy’s jaw, and a flush crept up his neck, threatening to invade his face. Without warning, he reached out, snatched at her hand roughly, and tugged her toward him. The swift, unexpected movement caused Pansy to tumble forward into his slim frame.
The sudden impact instantly sent a buzz straight through her, landing in the cradle of her ribcage. The sensation was electric, both pleasurable and needling at the same time. It was as if she were completely hammered and yet hyper aware. Unable to stop herself, Pansy reached up with her free hand, and slowly curled her fingers around his dress shirt, taking a greedy fistful of the material. Her addled, hazy mind first established that the barrier separating her hand from flesh would have to be removed and then it focused on how quickest to bring that about.
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