Pansy slouched sullenly as she twiddled the stem of her wineglass between her finely manicures fingers. She sighed as she rested her chin in her hand, her fingers tapping against her cheek. The candle flickered as she sighed again, the wax running down in lumpy rivulets, along its short shaft towards the table.
Stood up! Again! She’d known it after ten minutes but had resigned herself to stay and finish the wine. It was that or go home and admit that yet another pureblood family refused to associate with the Parkinson’s. Not that she could really blame them, not after it had been leaked which side they had been supported during the war.
She sighed again as she looked up, hoping the catch the waiter’s eye. One looked over and nodded before she went back to her empty wine glass. She’d need more wine to try and assuage the guilt and loneliness. She felt a vague pricking at her eyes. She blinked furiously as she straightened to look into her purse. She’d be damned if she cried, not here in public. She had a reputation to uphold, after all.
She rifled through her purse to give the impression she was looking for something as she sniffed.
“Is this seat taken?” Came a voice in front of her. She looked up, startled.
She had been about to answer with a cutting remark and possibly a hex when she realised that she recognised the man. She sighed resigned as she waved her hand to it.
“Go ahead, Longbottom, take it! not like anyone’s fooled into thinking he’s in the restroom” she snorted, as she went to take another swig of her wine when she remembered her glass was empty. She cursed under her breath.
Her eyes strayed to the tall handsome man, taking in the well-tailored suit and the neatly styled hair. She had to admit, puberty had hit Neville hard.
He sat down.
She sat back. She could feel the scowl across her face.
“What do you think you are doing?” She asked suspiciously.
“Sitting down, you said it was free”
“I thought you needed the chair elsewhere”
Neville’s brow furrowed in confusion.
“Well, I don’t,” he said simply
Pansy could feel the wine in her veins as she leans forward
“Careful Longbottom! I am a known dark witch and therefore high society suicide, you might want to run home to granny before you catch something” she glanced around for the waiter again and huffed impatiently.
The waiter, as if on cue, appeared with a new bottle of wine and another wine glass.
“Could you replace the candles, please? And also some menus” Neville smiled kindly at the waiter, who nodded and disappeared.
“Wow, you slay one dark wizard’s pet and all of a sudden you grow a pair, I’m impressed”
Neville smiled knowingly and nodded
“It certainly puts life into perspective” he admitted.
Pansy found herself genuinely smiling as she leaned forward.
“What are you doing, Neville?”
“Correct me if I’m wrong but this is the third Friday in a row where you have sat here waiting for a wizard who plainly refused to apparate”
Pansy felt the smile fall from her lips
“How did you-”
“Because this is the third Friday in a row where I have been sat over there” he pointed to a small table which the restaurant had already cleared away “waiting for a witch with the same difficulties,”
Pansy felt her own confusion cross her face.
“Why?” She found herself asking.
“As you said, I may have destroyed that snake but that doesn’t make up for me being known as the bumbling buffoon at school. Schoolyard reputations can be difficult to shake, as I’m sure you are aware.”
Pansy nodded, as Neville leans forward to top up her glass and then his.
“Tell me about it!” She said taking a swig.
“As I sat over there, I saw you over here alone, looking beautiful, I must say. And it occurred to me that maybe I was waiting for the wrong witch.”
Pansy felt the blush, helped by the wine, warm her face. She opened her mouth to say something but no sound came out.
“If you would like me to leave, I will, but I was hoping we could eat first as I’m starving”
She nodded as the waiter came back with two menus and replacement candles. Once lit, the waiter left again.
“So…?” Neville asked with a small smile. Pansy looked at him pressing the wine glass to her lips again before she spoke. She considered him for a moment, deciding that she liked his smile.
“So,” She said with a smile of her own. “I wasn’t lying when I said that being seen with me could bring your house dishonour” she sipped her wine this time.
Neville just smiled as he looked down at the menu.
“What are you having?” He looked up, his eyes lingering on hers.
“I’m not even sure what sort of food they do here,” she said, opening her menu to look.
“I hear the duck confit is very good, and I tried the Salmon Nicoise last time” Neville supplies.
“I do like duck.” Pansy added as the looked at her menu. She watched from hooded eyes as Neville reached for the glass with a slightly shaking hand. His nerves were obviously under duress. “Oooh, sous vide rib-eye.” She said appreciatively. She straightened and shut the menu with a smirk.
“So, Longbottom” she crossed her leg as she leant forward, her tight dress slipping slightly. Her smile broadened, not because Neville could see, but because she could feel it. “Is granny getting tired of not having great-grand Longbottoms to look after?”
Neville smiled again as he closed his own menu, clasping his slightly-shaking hand with the other.
“No, gran has point-blank refused to help with childcare, apparently I was more than enough.”
“Then why put yourself through it all? There are times when being a pureblood gets very tedious”
“Honestly?” He asked suspiciously.
She shrugged nonchalantly, however she secretly hoped for the truth. Underneath all the bravado she found that she was actually enjoying his company.
“Do you see many people from school any more?” He asked. Her heart sank. He obviously didn’t trust her enough with that truth yet. She couldn’t blame him but it still hurt.
“I see Draco and Theo now and then, and obviously the odd people in Diagon Alley, why?”
“If you’ve seen Draco, you’ve seen Harry too” he paused “and possibly even Ron and Hermione” he swigged his own wine piquing her interest. She nodded again with a shrug.
“Guess I have, not spoke to them through”
“Have you ever noticed just how happy they are? The lingering looks and smiles. There is just something about them being together that makes them more comfortable” he finished. She didn’t say anything. She had noticed, her former best friend was like a lovesick fool when Potter wasn’t around. Even worse than at school sometimes. She sighed.
“Maybe I’m selfish but I am envious. I want to have that person who I can be completely comfortable with and who makes me more” he said finally, not looking her in the eye. “I want someone to love, a best friend who is more, someone I don’t have to share.” He gulped, and Pansy saw a glimpse of the nervous and shy boy he’d been at school. She felt her breath hitch as she reached out a hand, slowly and tentatively. He straightened, eyes wide before he looked at her. She smiled what she hoped with a friendly and kind smile. He paused before taking her hand.
“Me too,” she smiled, sadly this time.
He smiled back, slightly calmer as if relieved that she hadn’t laughed at him.
The waiter came and took their order. Leaving them silent for a moment.
“So why do you do it?” He asked quietly. “Why do you put yourself through it? When you could have anyone?”
She smiled wryly.
“Yes, Longbottom, my beauty and award-winning personality is so renounced that you were just one of many people queueing to dine with me this evening.” She waved her hand at the now almost deserted restaurant. She snorted derisively and she took another sip of her wine.
“Sorry, I never meant”
“It’s ok,” she said as she ran her hand through her hair, tousling her hair from its sleek rigid style. She closed her eyes as she gathered her bravery. Her Slytherin instinct for self-preservation pausing for a moment. Could she really bare all to the man in front? What did she have to lose if she did? She took a deep breath before looking at him square in the eyes.
“We want the same thing, I hate being with Draco sometimes as all he ever talks about is Harry and their plans. They want to renovate the house, get a kitten, do up Grimmauld place. The list goes on, and I just sit there wishing that I had someone that I had plans with, not the odd night out of shopping trip but real plans, long term plans. I want children and lots of them. I want to play mom and read them bedtime stories and style their hair and dress them stylishly. I want someone who I can share my dislike of my father with, and who can tolerate my mother. Someone who pretends to enjoy my cooking even though I burn water” she let out a long breath as she too waited for Neville to laugh. She glanced up shyly to find his face open and shocked.
“There are loads of guys that could offer you that, maybe not the cooking,” he said nervously
“But how many of them are pureblood, available and not over 50?” She snorted again. “Thanks anyway, Longbottom”
“Why does he have to be a pureblood?” He asked quietly
“I don’t care but my parent care. The dark lord may be gone but the old prejudices remain” she shook her head sadly. “I’d be ok with a muggle-born or half Blood but rules are rules” she sighed.
“One,” Neville said quietly, not looking at her. She opened her mouth to speak but the food arrived. They dug in quietly as they thought. Pansy chewed the sublime beef as she considered what he was saying.
“So who were you waiting for?” She asked finally.
“Auralia Flint,” he said quietly with a sardonic smile on his face.
“Really? Merlin!” She whispered. She laughed suddenly.
“What?” He asked, looking like a beaten puppy again.
“You got off lightly!” He smiled carefully. She looked at him for a long time before she made her decision. “Well then Neville, I accept”
“Accept what? He asked, his food halfway to his mouth.
You join me at my table, you call me beautiful and tell me your deepest truths and I find that endearing. You know who I am, and yet you still came over. I promise to make you feel ‘more’ even when you are more than enough, to not share you and to make you completely comfortable. Do you accept?” She asked raising her wine up expectantly. He sat for a moment looking like she had slapped him. He raised his wine a took a long swallow. She could practically see the calculations behind his eyes. Eventually, he nodded and raised his glass to hers.
“I won’t pretend to like your cooking though” they laughed causing the candles to splutter.