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A Bottleful of Cunning by astravesty
Chapter 1 : A Bottleful of Cunning
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 8

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It wasn’t her fault, really.

Well, maybe it was.

Just a little bit.

Her Draco, the number one Potions student in their year since forever, worked very hard on his Hiccuping Solution and deserved that vial. Heck, he deserved the whole damn cauldron, and Professor Slughorn, the oversized chintz, deserved that hex. She didn’t see why she had to be called to her Head of House’s office on a Saturday morning.

“Miss Parkinson, as much as I don’t require my students to like their professors, I do not allow them to inflict harm on the staff—at least not until they have graduated.”

“But, Professor Snape, that vial should have been Draco’s… He really wanted it.”

“What age do you have to be to realise that it is impossible for everyone to get what he wants?”

“It’s not fair,” Pansy whined, jutting her lower lip out like a vexed toddler. “He gave it to Potter! You know how much he sucks at Potions…”

“Yes, yes, life is unfair,” Professor Snape droned, rising from his seat. “And you should apologise to Professor Slughorn.”

“But, Professor—“

“I have more things to do, Miss Parkinson. Move along, now.”

Hesitantly, she rose from the chair opposite her Head of House, bowed her head out of her Slytherin respect for him, and left. It was only out of that same respect for Professor Snape that she was going to apologise to Professor Soft Boulder. People she met along the corridors backed away from her and her murderous stare. She would just have to master herself and look all innocent and repentant once she reached the dungeons. She was good at that.

Maybe she could even squeeze in a little plea, explaining why Draco was the true winner of the vial.

The familiar oak door was shut when she reached it. Taking a deep breath, she knocked thrice, and pushed the wooden slab gently. In a moment, she was tugged in and collided with soft flesh and flab.

“My apologies m’dear!” Once he saw who he’d literally bumped into, all remorse faded from his face.

It had taken all of Pansy’s sense of control not to explode in a stream of expletives. She disciplined herself once more, put on an apologetic face, and purred, “Professor, sorry if I caught you at a bad time, but I really need to speak with you.”

Professor Slughorn softened and checked his watch. “I have to speak with the Headmaster this very moment, but it’ll be short. If you really wish to talk, wait for me in my office.” He left with no further statement, and Pansy decided to wait.

She had been in that office so many times before, when Professor Snape was still the Potions Master. Not much had changed in there; the shelves were still lined with bottled potions and ingredients; the desk was still in place. She perceived the absence of Professor Snape’s old straight-backed chair, from which he glowered upon his students. In its place was an overstuffed loveseat, and Pansy smirked at the thought that the previous chair would’ve collapsed under Professor Slughorn’s weight.

Another feature of the room caught her eye. In a corner behind the loveseat was a small black cauldron, and the potion inside it seemed to be moving. Her eyes flicked to the door as she recalled that Professor Slughorn had promised to return soon. It would take him a few minutes to get back there from the Headmaster’s Office, so Pansy decided to inspect.

Upon closer view, the solution was like liquid gold, and small particles jumped up before returning to the cauldron—just as Theodore had described Felix Felicis to be. The name ‘DRACO MALFOY’ flashed like a billboard in her brilliant psyche, and she thought of how dear, sweet Adonis-boy would be so grateful to her for bringing him the potion he so wanted and deserved. Her heartbeat quickened and from the depths of her deprived heart rang wedding bells.

Get a grip, she thought, slapping herself.

Professor Slughorn would never notice if a little bit was gone from the cauldron. She actually thanked the gods for all her misbehaviours in the previous years, all those moments that made her have detentions and discussions with Professor Snape. The result? She knew the office by heart. She walked towards one of the wardrobes that had a set of drawers, and found an empty vial.

Oh yes, Draco would have her now.

She decided to take a break from trying to find the blond—really, she knew Hogwarts was a castle, but there couldn’t have been many places to hide, right? As she lay on her back, she told her best friend and partner in crime of her master plan.

“You really think that’ll work?”

“I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.”

“And since when did appreciation equate to ‘happily ever after’?”

“Are you saying it won’t work?”

“I’m saying, if you’re the one with motives, then you should be drinking that potion, not Draco.”

Pansy sat up, still clutching the precious little vial. “Daphne, you are a genius.”

“Don’t forget it.”

Bottle uncorked, Pansy took a deep breath. “To my one true love,” she proclaimed, before gulping down all the contents. “What time is it?”

“It’s almost noon.”

“Then I have until midnight to find him. Should be easy enough.” She shook the empty vial. “You’ll be my maid of honour, right?”

“Whatever.” The two girls giggled, and Daphne gave Pansy a small shove out the door. “Go already,” she said. “Theo said he’s coming here today.”

Pansy crinkled her little pug nose. “You two had better be dressed when I come back here.”

Daphne gave another shove. “You’re not supposed to come back here.”

The other found herself in the common room, and passed Theodore on his way up.

“What are you up to, with that Cheshire cat smile of yours?” he inquired.

“My what?” Honestly, Theodore had to come up with odd things like that just when she was about to forget that he was a half-blood.

“Never mind.”

Pansy put both hands on her waist. “For your information, today, I shall find my soulmate.” An audible snort came from one of the couches. Pansy glared and continued, “And though you think that’s funny, Blaise, you’re still invited to my wedding.” With this she exited the common room, and ventured on to find Draco.

Two hours, one hexed teacher (who suspected a Ravenclaw that happened to be beside her), and six terrorised first years later, she still hadn’t caught sight of her young god. Maybe she had drunk the wrong potion after all, because her stomach was growling complains every other second. Deciding that a short stop at the Great Hall wouldn’t do much harm (and also because she didn’t want to die of hunger before she found the blond), she made a detour. It was about half-past-one—almost everybody would have eaten his lunch. It was too tacky to have to eat lunch by yourself; normally, she would drag Daphne up to accompany her, but she was probably busy (Pansy shuddered) with her boyfriend.

The Hall was sparsely populated as predicted, and the Slytherin table was occupied by a few students from the lower years—none of which Pansy particularly liked or tolerated. Luckily (the first fortunate thing to happen since she drank the Felix Felicis), someone from her year was making his way to the table as well, and he turned out to be Blaise Zabini.

“What are you doing here, so late?” she asked, sitting beside him and grabbing a sandwich.

He smirked. “Not looking for my soulmate, that’s for sure.”

She rolled her eyes. “Can we please talk about something else?”

“Gotten tired of him already?”

“I haven’t even found him yet.”

Blaise raised his goblet to his lips and muttered, “I don’t see why you need to.”

Pansy took it for an insult and banged her fist on the table, calling the attention of the five nearest young Slytherins. “Just because I drank a vial of Felix Felicis doesn’t mean I’d have found him right away—it just means that I will, eventually.”

“You drank… You’ve got to be kidding.”

“And why is that?” she demanded.

“Look, if you do find him today, once your luck runs out, he won’t give a damn about you.”

Pansy was taken aback. “My relationship with Draco is not superficial!”

“Your relationship with him doesn’t exist!”

She dropped her half-finished sandwich on her plate, and took one big gulp from her goblet and rose.

“Pansy, I’m sorry—look, I’m just concerned—“

”If you’re really concerned, you’d help me find him!”

The Astronomy Tower, she thought. She hadn’t checked there yet. On the staircase, she found a pretty thing: a silver quill. It should have been part of her odd lucky streak, so she pocketed it, and found Professor Sinistra in the tower, fussing about.

“Sweet Cosmos—where is it?”

“Where is what, Professor?”

“Ah, Miss Parkinson. It’s nothing—just a quill. Have you come to inquire about your class performance?”

Yeah, right. As if she would ever do anything like that.

“Not really, Professor. I found this by the stairs, you see, and I wanted to return it.” She brought out the quill she’d just pocketed, and gave it to Professor Sinistra.

“Thank you, dear child—Albus wasn’t mistaken when he made you Prefect. Ten points to Slytherin.”

At least it wasn’t for nothing, thought Pansy, as she descended the stairs. She would check the Divination Tower next. She didn’t think it likely that Draco would choose to seek refuge there at any cost, but it she had hours to go. The air, heavily perfumed with oils and scents, made her regret that decision straight away. To her surprise, she found Professor Trelawney inside…

…on the floor, crouched in a fetal position, and clutching a bottle of firewhisky in either hand.


She was responded to with a loud shriek, and some muttering. She thought she heard something about a room and requirements, but gave no effort to decipher the rest of the drunken words. The older woman stood up and cleared her throat.

“It would be very favourable if you do not mention this to anyone,” she said feebly.

Pansy gave a fake smile. “Of course, Professor.” Now she had something to blackmail the almost-blind bat with.

“Very well.” Trelawney paused. “Twenty points to Slytherin.”

Pansy nodded and left; downstairs to the greenhouses would be her next destination. A male Gryffindor from a lower year was in greenhouse three—the only occupied greenhouse. Apparently, he was doing remedial Herbology.

She didn’t even know there was such a thing as remedial Herbology.

“Transplant the mandrakes in this box to the pots,” she heard Professor Sprout tell the boy. “Don’t forget your gear. I shall return in a moment.”

As Professor Sprout disappeared behind one of the exits, the Gryffindor took a deep breath and pulled on his dragon-hide gloves. Taking a firm grip on a mandrake stem, he yanked it out, and wasn’t prepared for the extremely loud cry.

Cursing audibly, Pansy covered her ears and ran towards the cupboards of spare equipment, grabbed two sets of ear muffs, and slipped them on herself and the nearly unconscious boy.

He obviously needed the remedial.

Just then, Professor Sprout came running back, hands on her ears. “Peakes, what on earth—?” She put on her ear muffs and took the screaming mandrake from the boy. Once the plant was muffled with soil, she checked to see how he was doing.

‘Peakes’, whoever he was, now had a goofy smile on his face and was staring directly at Pansy. “Professor,” he breathed, “she saved me!”

“Oh. Oh, yes… Good work, Parkinson. Fifteen points to Slytherin.”

“Parkinson,” murmured the boy.

“Yes. Don’t you ever say it again. Ever.”

The boy just kept smiling at her, and she grunted. “I’ll be going now, Professor.”

She didn’t have much luck at the lake, either. Many students spent their afternoons there, but none of them were Draco. Blaise was there, talking to Millicent (whom she considered the ugliest in their year). She sort of pitied Blaise for having to talk to such an unsightly person.

“Pansy!” he called, jogging towards her.

“Killing the hours with Millie?” She waggled her eyebrows.

“Do you honestly think that… Oh, give me a break.”

She laughed. “What’s so wrong with having a thing for her?”

“It’s not her I’m interested in,” he muttered.

“Of course not,” Pansy smirked. “Anyway, I’ve got to be somewhere else.”

The Quidditch Pitch should be likely. She could almost imagine Draco flying around, showing off his killer moves. No one would appreciate them as much as she. She climbed all the way to the topmost level, hoping to get a better view of the stands, and was panting by the time she got there. After hours of walking around the castle and campus, her legs were protesting. Her varicose veins were showing clear through, making her cringe. Giving in to exhaustion, she sat down, and after a few moments, dozed off.

Dark eyes… all that was left of her dream. She wasn’t sure if they were part of the dream at all—the same dark eyes were the first thing she saw when she woke up. Or rather, when she was being shaken awake.

“Knock it off, Blaise, I’m up!”

“Gee, you’re welcome,” Blaise muttered.

The sun was already setting. She had wasted hours of her precious Felix Felicis time.

“How long was I asleep?”

“About three hours, maybe less.”

Pansy groaned. “What are you doing here?”

“I brought you dinner.”

She was deeply intrigued. “Really?”

He produced a book bag that had a flask of pumpkin juice, and another sandwich. “You weren’t at the table and I thought you’d be starving yourself. Skinny won’t suit you.”

“Whatever.” Pansy ate in silence, occasionally glancing at Blaise, who had leaned back to watch the sunset. The light emphasised his dark skin and his dark eyes reflected the orange sun.

“We’d better get back inside,” he said when she had finished.

When they reached the Great Hall, Pansy’s mind was back on track. “Have you seen him yet?”

Blaise sounded mildly vexed—probably because he was tired of the subject or something. “No.”

“Right. I think I’ll go to the library and give everyone there a shock. Want to come?”

He only paused for a moment before answering, “Nah, I’ve business in the common room.”

She shrugged and began to leave. “Thanks, by the way… for the nutritional sustenance.”

Blaise smiled. “Whatever.”

Hours later, she had looked in the library, the classrooms, the bathrooms, corridors, staircases, and just about everywhere she could think of.

She had also earned well over a hundred points for Slytherin because of her ‘good deeds’ all around. Her House-mates would definitely think badly of her once they found out that she had been earning points righteously, and that she had every teacher’s favour (not to mention, that a younger Gryffindor had one hell of a crush on her).

For all Felix Felicis was worth, she was tired, annoyed with herself, and nearly hopeless. Also, it was past curfew and she had to snake her way around to avoid getting caught.

Her last hope was the common room. She didn’t know how late it was, but she was still surprised to see that only Blaise was there.

“Any luck?”

“Oh, ha-ha.”

“Pun not intended.”

Pansy collapsed onto the chair opposite Blaise. “Why are you still up?”

He hesitated. “Remember that place you raided with Umbridge in fifth year? It was on the seventh floor, right?”

She cocked her head to one side in thought. “Oh, yeah. The place where Potter and his lot held their meetings. Why?”

“I’ve been asking around, and I heard from Astoria that she and her friends have seen him going up to that floor.”

Pansy jumped up. “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?”

The wall clock told her it was a bit past eleven. “Remind me to give you a big role in our wedding.” She ran to the door.

Outside, she slowed down to lessen the noise she made—even with Felix Felicis, she didn’t want to risk getting seen by Filch.

Being up so late made adrenaline pump through her veins, and she was thinking of all sorts of things that had happened that day. Her mind wandered like a feather caught in a stong whirlwind of events, and she hardly knew where her feet were carrying her.

Then, she remembered her small argument with Blaise that afternoon.

If you’re really concerned, you’d help me find him.

She stopped.

He was. He really was.

She thought about what Blaise said—about Draco not caring about her, at least not in the way she did for him.

It wasn’t Draco who worried about her and brought her dinner, was it?

It wasn't Draco who had been asking all sorts of people strange questions just to give her what she wanted.

It wasn’t Draco whom she kept encountering throughout the day, either.

For the first time in her life, she was utterly confused, and had no idea what to do. She cursed the Felix Felicis and every drop of it that was in her system, she cursed the screwed-up type of luck she’d been having, and she cursed everything up to the toast she gave when she drank it.

To my one true love.

That was when it all made sense. It wasn't ‘to my long-awaited betrothal to Draco', nor to ‘to Mrs. Pansy Malfoy’…

It was ‘to my one true love’.

It's not her I'm interested in.

It was all she could do to keep herself from screaming out of self-annoyance, and possibly destroying valuable Hogwarts properties.

Pansy Parkinson, she told herself, you are one big bloody idiot.

And so, with her hand on the banister of a staircase leading to the seventh floor, she made one of the most important decisions of her life. She didn’t know if Draco was in that room or not, and she never would. She didn't even want to; not anymore, at least. She turned and strode as quickly and quietly as she could back to the dungeons.

Relief flooded her when she glimpsed him sitting by the fire. She shut the door behind her and leaned on it for a while.

Blaise looked up, and seemed surprised to see her. “Found your soulmate already?”

Pansy laughed. She laughed her heart out and made her stomach, her jaw, and her cheeks hurt. Her eyes were slightly watery when she finally paused. “Yes. Yes, I have.”

He looked at her as if she were mad (who's to say she wasn't?). “Well, what are you doing here, then?”

She paused, not knowing what to say. Sighing, she came up with a philosophical answer: “Looking at him.”

A heavy, suffocating silence enveloped the room. Pansy's toes curled up in her shoes; maybe that wasn't the right way to go.

Surprising the both of them, she slapped herself. “Merlin, that was mushy! I don’t do mushy.”

Blaise laughed. “It was passable.”

She breathed deeply and was relieved. Every muscle in her body that she had strained that day were on the verge of collapse. “Mind if I sit with you, then?”

“No, no, I don’t mind.” Blaise smiled and patted the floor beside him.

She settled herself comfortably. “Theodore’s probably still in our room.”

“You can sleep in ours,” offered Blaise.

Pansy raised an eyebrow at him.

He reddened. “That’s not what I meant!”

She smirked and retorted, “No, of course not.”

“Though it would be a great idea…”

He got a playful nudge on the shoulder. “You wish.”

They watched the fire crackle until their eyelids drooped. Eventually, Blaise was leaning on the wall, asleep, and Pansy’s head was on his shoulder.

By morning, all the Slytherins knew about them.

Back in their room, Daphne poked fun at Pansy.

“Silence,” ordered Pansy. “It was your fault that I had to sleep there in the first place. If you behave, you’ll still be my maid of honour.”

As they both laughed, Pansy remembered that hours had passed since her luck had run out, but she still hadn’t caught a single glimpse of Draco.

And she was perfectly fine with it.

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