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Chapter 6 : Hands Off
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Pansy sat smiling invitingly at her dinner companion, schooling her expression to be the picture of flirtatious languor. The only sign of the anxiety raging within her was her left hand’s incessant play with her salad fork. By any other man, this slight obsessive tic would go completely unnoticed. Draco, however, eyed her restless fingers sharply through a deceivingly indifferent gaze.
Unaware of how closely she was being watched, Pansy battled to keep her focus on the light dinner banter and off the apprehension brewing in the cradle of her ribcage. Something felt off but she wasn’t quite sure what. She glanced about as casually as she could, scanning the restaurant for any kind of answer.
“Expecting someone?” came a smooth drawl.
“Pardon?” she managed in faux lightness, shifting her eyes nonchalantly back to Draco.
“You keep looking toward the bar,” he responded with cool detachment before sipping his wine.
“I… I’ve been looking for our waiter,” she lied smoothly, even producing a little indignation to reward his veiled accusation.
“Even while he was here with our meals?” Draco smirked at her in triumph.
“What are you trying to get at, Draky?” she snipped, warm and cold all in one breath.
“Just that for someone so keen on rekindling an old friendship, you seem less than captivated by my company.”
“Rubbish. You know I love spending time with you,” she huffed.
Wincing slightly at her less than believable attempt to allay him, Pansy took a small, measured sip of her water. When had she become such a dreadful liar?
“Right. Of course you do,” Draco reassured her mockingly. “So you’ve decided to stay with the Weasel then?”
Snapping her attention back to him, Pansy pinned him a calculating glare. “I haven’t decided on anything yet. I’m weighing my options.” She straightened in her chair to project her unquestionable superiority, hiding her underlying doubt over the subject. “Why should you care? Aren’t you shackled to Potter? How is the saviour doing these days anyhow?”
Draco’s countenance darkened almost imperceptibly. “As much as I adore you, Panse, I don’t want to discuss Harry tonight.”
“What? Trouble in paradise?” she teased lightly.
“Nothing of the kind. I simply don’t take pleasure in divulging my personal business.”
“So is Potter merely business to you then?” Pansy knew she was pushing some fairly dangerous buttons with her friend. He’d never taken kindly to interrogations about his private life. But she was thoroughly baffled by even the thought of Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter shacked up together let alone being civil to one another.
“Pansy,” he snapped in warning.
“What? Excuse me for finding it hard to believe you two are an item. As I recall, you couldn’t stand the sight of him.”
“Just like you hated the Weasleys?” he bit back, hitting his mark.
“I still do,” she spat venomously.
“Then why are you still weighing your options?” he lobbed at her.
“There’s more to a marriage than liking your partner, Draky darling. You should know that by now,” she purred, the edge to her voice unmistakable though.
“Such as…” Draco pressed, ignoring the cruel flame dancing in her eyes.
“You know. Money. Power. Social standing. Same reasons you’re with Potter I assume.”
“That is not why I’m with Harry,” Draco interjected heatedly.
Pansy disregarded his interruption, and continued on with her train of thought as if talking to herself. “Actually, it makes perfect sense. Who better to fill your need for attention than the poster child himself? Must be fantastic for a drama queen such as yourself to be perpetually living in the lime light.”
“As I said before, Pansy, it would do you well to avoid this particular topic,” he gritted out through clenched teeth.
“Does Potter know you’re only using him?” she asked playfully.
“I am not using Potter. Harry is… he’s –“
“I’m what exactly?” The disembodied voice was flat and cold.
Draco’s eyes slid shut briefly. After a second to gather his courage, he swiveled in his chair to face the man he’d been arse over teakettle in love with for ten plus years, offering him a wide, uneasy smile.
“Harry!” he bubbled a little too brightly.
“What are you doing here?” Harry growled, totally ignoring the chipper greeting.
“I…We decided to grab a bite.”
Pansy gave a meager yet cloying wave in the hopes of egging the tosser on.
“Working late my arse,” Harry snapped loudly, turning around briskly.
In a flash, Draco was up and out of his seat, grabbing Harry’s arm to stay his flight before he had made it even two steps. “Harry, wait! Wait! Join us.”
At that, Harry stopped abruptly and slowly turned around. The look on his face screamed disgust and incredulity.
“Join you? Are you kidding me? Why are you even here… with her?” Harry gestured with a halfhearted wave in the direction of their table.
“We’re just catching up. She flooed me and…”
“You know what the healers said,” Harry reprimanded, cutting Draco short. “She needs to stay near Percy. This is only going to cause her more strain.”
“Harry, it’s me. I’m her oldest and dearest. What real harm could two friends having dinner do?”
Suddenly, Harry’s eyes reduced to slits. “What are you up to?”
“What? Nothing. Nothing. Why would you… We’re just having dinner.”
Harry’s face fell first in comprehension, followed by resignation as Draco continued to babble. He didn’t know what Draco was plotting, but it couldn’t be good if he was willing to risk Pansy’s health and sanity.
All the energy and fight drained out of Harry’s posture as he stepped closer to Draco and muttered. “I’m going home. It would be best if you found somewhere else to stay for the night.”
“Harry,” Draco pleaded, but Harry had already turned on the spot and disapparated.
Draco was left staring blankly at the newly vacated spot. After several long seconds, he finally turned back to the table and sat heavily in his chair, his eyes unfocused and his mind obviously several miles away.
Pansy had watched the entire exchange with rapture. At first, she’d been delighted at the prospect of a spat between the two men. It would be just like old times and she desperately needed a dose of the familiar. But as the weight and tone of the argument descended, Pansy felt herself growing first uncomfortable, then embarrassed. This was quite clearly a lover’s quarrel and she got the distinct feeling of being a third wheel.
Even as she watched a sullen and muted Draco across the table afterward, she felt a nagging pity for him biting at her. This would definitely be in the rags by the morning. Further compounding her guilt was the fact that instead of wanting to stay and comfort him, she craved nothing more than to be home curled up in front of the fire with a glass of wine and…
“Sorry about that,” came Draco’s voice, interrupting her thoughts. “Are you all right?” he asked suddenly, a look of alarm knitting his brow.
Pansy breathed in deeply and felt all of her strength escape her on the long exhale out. ““Yes. Yes… Just tired all of a sudden.” When had she grown so exhausted? Where had her energy gone? She was fine a moment ago. “Would it be all right if we made this a short night? I’m not really feeling up to dessert.”
Draco nodded quickly and stood up, concern and self-reproach marring his other wise chiseled features. “Of course. Let me take care of the bill and get our cloaks, and then we’ll be off.”
He fled the table without another look, leaving her to her increasingly muddled thoughts. The facts of the recent altercation between the two men were beginning to bleed away as Pansy became totally focused on being nestled in her dressing gown, although for some reason it was a ratty old, green terrycloth bathrobe that actually came to mind.
Pansy wandered slowly down the darkened hallway toward the large spiral staircase, her mind whirling with disappointment as well as the events of the evening. The restaurant and food had been exquisite. Draco had been charming and flirtatious until the saviour of the Wizarding world had come along. Although it was a nasty quarrel, it should have been a source of hope for her. She couldn’t, however, quell the malaise churning inside of her.
Suddenly, the low rumble of two voices echoed into Pansy’s ears. Spotting a crevice of light not twenty feet in front of her, Pansy discerned it to be the source of the sound and crept quietly to partake of whatever conversation was ensuing. As she neared the door, the two voices became more distinct. It was a man and a woman in the throes of a subdued conversation.
“I just can’t do it, Pen. She’s been here less than a day and I feel like I’m going to have a breakdown.”
Pansy squinted slightly and tried to peer into the room through the crack in the door, but could only catch flashes of colour and light.
“Percy, it’s the bond. You know it’s volatile right now, but it’ll even itself out. Give it some time.”
Ignoring the woman’s soothing words, Percy sputtered on. “It’s not that. It’s not just that. Did you know she went out tonight? She’s been home less than six hours and she felt the need to go out. Out for dinner and Merlin knows what else with sodding Malfoy. How can you possibly say we’ll get better if she can’t stand to be near me for more than an hour at a time?”
Pansy cautiously edged the door open a little further. When she was finally able to peek in and gain a better view, she instantly felt a large knot twist in her throat at the scene playing out before her. The Weasel was sitting at his desk with his head in his hands, but it wasn’t that sight that had her feeling a sick, writhing sensation in her stomach. A blond woman sat on his desk with her back to Pansy, effectively concealing her face, with a hand on her husband’s back, rubbing soothing circles.
“They’re friends,” the slag murmured to him softly.
He slowly lifted his face and sighed, letting his hands fall heavily onto the desk. Pansy could clearly make out the fatigue riddled over his face. “Not in her mind. She loves him, didn’t you know?” he sneered mirthlessly.
“Percy, she only thinks she’s in love with him, but it won’t last. You’ve convinced her to come home. It’s only a matter of time before she starts –“
“You don’t know that,” he snapped, cutting her off unceremoniously. He stood abruptly and turned to face the warmly lit hearth behind them. “None of you know for sure. You lot are all hoping she’ll return to normal with exposure. Well what if she doesn’t? What if she doesn’t get her memory back? What if the bond stays this way? Or gets worse for that matter? What if she asks me for a divorce? Sweet Merlin, what if she doesn’t and wants to stay married to me for the money… or house… or reputation? That’s almost worse.”
“Percy, she needs you… for more than that. You know she does. She won’t survive this without you,” the woman tried to interject, but Percy continued on deaf to her reasoning.
“I can’t take her like this. She’s not the woman I love. I don’t know this person, and I’m not entirely sure I want to.”
“Percy,” the hussy cooed with pitying coyness as she slid off the desk and wrapped her arms around him. Percy merely leaned into the embrace and stared vacantly into the fire.
A blinding surge of rage enveloped Pansy at the sight. She launched herself violently through the door and pointed a trembling hand threateningly at the couple.
“Get your hands off him.”
Percy and Penelope pulled apart violently, a wide-eyed dumfounded expression plastered on both of their faces.
After a few long seconds, Penelope shook off her shock and came around the desk with a large warm smile gracing her lips. “Pansy, it’s –“
“Don’t you come a step closer, you tramp,” Pansy snarled. Penelope stopped dead in her tracks, and the smile fell instantly from her face replaced by an expression of hurt.
“So this is what you get up to when I’m not home?” Pansy jabbed at Percy. “Groping skanky trollops on your desk? Some kind of marriage we have. No wonder I felt the need for other male companionship.”
Instead of sparking his temper, Pansy’s accusation only seemed to deflate Percy further into dejection.
“Pansy, it’s not like that. I’m your attending –“ Penelope tried to calm her incensed friend.
“That’s Mrs. Weasley to you,” Pansy quipped stiffly.
“Pardon?” It wasn’t Penelope who stammered out the question.
Pansy afforded Percy an uneasy glance only to find he had turned to face them. His eyes seemed to glisten with something she couldn’t quite place. Unable to maintain the connection, she scoped about for her resolve to confront the whore.
“Yes, Mrs. Weasley,” Penelope answered meekly shored up by the fact that Pansy seemed to be laying claim to Percy.
“And you say you’re my attending? My attending what exactly? Shouldn’t you be attending to me instead of trying to seduce my husband?”
“Pan-… Mrs. Weasley, I wasn’t trying to seduce your husband. He was upset and I merely was trying to comfort him.”
“I’ll bet you were. Trying to comfort your way into winning yourself a rich husband no doubt.”
Penelope couldn’t help but scoff at Pansy’s assertion. “Hardly. Why would I need a rich husband when I already have a perfectly lovely one?”
“I don’t know,” Pansy offered uncertainly before another idea came to her. “Perhaps you’re looking for a fun romp. I can’t read the minds of tarts.”
“Pansy –“ Penelope implored in a low, cajoling voice.
“Mrs. Weasley,” Pansy corrected her through thin lips.
“Mrs. Weasley,” Penelope answered quietly in return, placating her.
“And what should I call you? I assume you won’t respond to slag?” Pansy asked coldly, her cruel sense of humour making itself known.
Penelope took a steeling breath, and responded simply. “Healer Wood.”
“Well, Healer Wood.” Pansy stopped briefly, irked by the familiarity of the name. “You might as well head to your room and collect your things because your services are no longer required here.”
Shocked by Pansy’s dismissal, Penelope looked backed to Percy for support. In response, Percy clasped his hands behind his back and assumed as business like a posture as he could muster.
“That’s not your decision to make, Pansy,” he spouted, meeting Pansy’s heated glare dead on.
“Oh, but it is,” Pansy growled after a moment, her chest beginning to rise and fall noticeably.
“No, I’m afraid it isn’t.”
Pansy blinked at him a few times, stunned by his determination when an odd notion struck her. “I understand now. You want to keep your whore near you. Well, I won’t allow it.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Percy huffed.
“I am not being ridiculous,” Pansy shouted, stamping her foot on the ground for emphasis.
“No. I would say you’re being childish now.” Without giving her an opportunity to answer back, Percy turned his eyes toward Penelope. “Thank you for your support, Healer Wood. You may retire for the evening and resume your duties in the morning.”
“Are you sure, Percy?”
“Don’t you call him that!” Pansy barked.
Ignoring her outburst, Percy continued on. “Yes, we’ll be fine. If we need anything, we’ll call you.”
Penelope gave a hesitant nod and began to cross the room. A moment before exiting however, she turned and offered Percy a small encouraging smile. He returned the gesture with a solemn nod while running his right hand over the nape of his neck.
Their silent exchange made Pansy’s chest clench painfully. Forget the fact that she didn’t really want the tosser, but who was this woman to have such an intimate connection with the man who was supposed to be her husband? It was galling.
Suddenly, a renewed wave of exhaustion washed over Pansy, and she pressed a hand to her forehead. If she was going to hold her own against this insufferable twat she was going to need some fortification for her waning defenses. Her eyes lit upon the liquor trolley across the room that sported the harsh amber liquid she knew would do the trick, so she made a beeline for it without delay.
Watching her course with growing alarm, Percy took a few tentative steps. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“What does it look like I’m doing, you moron?” she hurled back as she began to pour herself a generous helping.
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” he mumbled, joining her at the cart and relieving the glass from her hand as she moved it to her lips.
“I beg your pardon?” she roared, pinning him with a glare that could melt steel.
“I said it’s not a good idea,” Percy rejoined coolly, purposely avoiding her withering stare.
“How dare – “ Pansy began to huff, but before she could truly begin her rant Percy cut in.
“You’re still not recovered and the healers specifically stated that alcohol was – “
“I don’t give a flying fuck what the healers said. I want a bloody drink and I am going to have a bloody drink.”
With that Pansy grabbed another glass and restarted the process of fixing herself a large shot. Stunned, Percy was left briefly immobilized by her obstinacy and willful ignorance. Quickly regaining himself, however, he grabbed for the tumbler, “I’m afraid that’s just not going to happen tonight.”
Foreseeing his hand’s goal, Pansy swiftly turned to face him, placed the glass behind her back, and uttered lightly, “Listen you pathetic wanker, you are not getting this glass from me. I’ve had a very eventful evening…”
“With Malfoy,” Percy interjected darkly, taking a predatory step toward her.
“Yes, with Draco,” she shot back, refusing to cow to his intimidation tactic. “He’s the love of my life. Of course I’m going to try and win him back from that loser, Pottyhead,” Of course she wasn’t entirely sure she meant what she’d just said, but she knew she should use his earlier words against him. It was an obvious weakness and would give her the upper hand.
Percy went rigid at her words, white, hot rage surging within him and threatening to take over. “Good luck on that one, you silly twit. Malfoy is gayer than springtime. You’re about as likely to turn him back as…”
“Shut it, you toss pot,” she snarled, taking a menacing step toward him. “I am all woman, and any man would kill to have me.”
Standing toe-to-toe and panting with fury and aggression, their breath mingled in a ragged dance. The truth of her words as they related to him suddenly struck Percy hard right between the eyes. Under the right circumstances, he would do just about anything to have her back. As he stared down into the rich chocolate brown eyes he adored, he couldn’t resist the temptation to steal one brief glance at her wetted, blood red lips.
Sensing the abrupt shift in energy between them, Pansy swiveled around and put her back to him. Although she tried to convince herself that his desire revolted her, it was hard to deny the coil of heat twisting in her core.
“As I said, I’m quite spent and would “ava” for a shot right now. So you’d be wise to bugger off while you still have all your parts. Now if you don’t mind.”
She dismissed him with a scooting flick of her fingers over her shoulder and then lifted the amber warmth to her mouth in the hopes that it would erase her fluctuating emotions. The crystal had barely touched her lips when two arms fiercely wrapped around her slight frame and a set of disembodied hands began a blind, fumbling search.
“Get you sweaty, grubby paws off me!!!” she shrieked as she brought the tumbler into the protective cradle of her arms.
“Give me the goddamn glass, Pansy,” he growled into her ear as he groped for the tumbler she was concealing.
His hot breath on the nape of her neck and his writhing body pressed firmly into her back drove a pulse of arousal down Pansy’s spine, all at once making her nipples go hard and a liquid heat begin to churn between her thighs. She shook her head and tried to free her mind of the unwanted sensations. She needed to focus on keeping the glass away from the wanker.
“Not on your fucking life, Weasley,” she panted back with as much venom as she could muster.
Suddenly, Percy grabbed her forearms and spun her to face him. Pansy, however, reacted to his maneuver before she was completely around and deftly moved the tumbler behind her back in one fluid motion.
“Damn it, Pansy! Give me the sodding glass,” Percy huffed as he once again fumbled with clutching hands.
His rough movements forced Pansy into his chest and her desire was ignited again. Her mind was beginning to swim with a truly heady mix of anger and lust. In pursuit of his prize, Percy was clueless to the effect he was having on the woman in his arms as he stared mindlessly at a photo on the wall behind them.
Pansy slowly looked up to his face and with a mixture of taunting and teasing, breathed out. “Make me.”
Percy drove his eyes down to her defiantly upturned face and felt all of his self-control melt away. Mere seconds passed as he ravenously poured over her features, and then without warning, he relinquished his hold on her arms in favour of driving his fingers into her thick, dark hair and cupping her cheeks in his large palms. Pansy barely had a moment to register the change in direction of their confrontation before her sparring partner descended upon her and roughly claimed her lips in a bruising kiss.
Momentarily dazed by the onslaught of physical and emotional sensation, Pansy released the tumbler and brought her hands in front of her to weakly beat against her assailant. But what had begun as an attempt to force him off quickly turned into a desperate clutching and grabbing to draw him closer.
Pansy fisted handfuls of his dress shirt, tugging him against her, while simultaneously thrusting her tongue into his mouth, any thought of seeking permission conveniently forgotten. In response to her forwardness, a low moan rumbled through his chest. Percy dropped his hands from her face and wrapped his arms around her slim waist in order to scoop her against his chest. The haphazard movement forced them off balance, sending their writhing mass into the liquor trolley.
Shaken by their precarious equilibrium, Pansy laced her arms around Percy’s neck, effectively forcing him to tilt his head and deepen the kiss further. Any semblance of control or restraint was quickly sliding away as both grew more fervent and desperate to sate the thrumming need for consummation.
Frustration for more contact fraying her enjoyment of the moment, Pansy hiked her leg up to hook around Percy’s calf, further compromising their footing and sending them hard into the liquor trolley once again with another loud thud. The fleeting thought that she would feel that tomorrow flitted through Pansy’s mind but was quickly vanquished by a hand curling artfully around her thigh and hoisting it higher. Whimpering her approval, she was too far-gone to even fathom how she should be objecting to his advances.
Percy’s mind was reeling with the overwhelming surge of desire and need caused by the simple feel of her beneath his palm and taste of her on his lips. Never before had he felt as if he might drown in the sheer, almost palpable need bubbling within him. In an instant, Percy’s mindless bliss morphed into a panicked call for air... to gasp frantically for a much needed breath. Without warning, Percy drew himself back and away from her, his chest heaving violently and his body trembling with excess adrenaline.
“What… What are you doing?” Pansy panted at him, bewildered by his withdrawal.
Misunderstanding her meaning, dense mortification descended upon Percy. “I’m… I’m sorry. That won’t ever happen again,” he stammered, a mad blush of shame flooding his face.
Her brain still fuzzy, Pansy started in protest. “No… Yes… What?”
His embarrassment briefly forgotten, Percy’s brow creased in obvious confusion.
“I… I don’t…” For the life of her, Pansy couldn’t piece together what had just happened let alone if she wanted it to continue. She felt so blurry. Nothing made sense in her muddy consciousness.
A quiet resignation settled on Percy’s features, extinguishing the flicker of hope her uncertainty had brought on, as he realized she was still nowhere near recovered and he’d just taken gross advantage of her.
“Again, I’m sorry,” he muttered, looking devoutly at a spot on the floor somewhere around her feet.
At a complete loss for words, Pansy could only watch him mindlessly survey his surroundings before he made a mad dash for the nearest door. As soon as he was gone, an aching sense of emptiness tore at her insides, compounding her already addled state.
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