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Title: Grand Romantic Adventure
Author: Aerama
Main Character: Pansy Parkinson
Categories: Humor/Gen (despite the title)
Rating: PG-13
Era: HBP
Warnings: I skirt around the issue tremendously, but there is an extremely bland implication of slash.
Word Count: 4,250
Summary: One day a parchment airplane bumped into Pansy's head - and survived. It read "I love you." Who wrote it? Was it meant for her?
Author's Notes: Crabbe's attempt at awareness is a nod to [livejournal.com profile] dolorous_ett.
Colin Creevey is mentioned just because of [livejournal.com profile] the_con_cept. This was Plot Bunny #515 from Remus's Nymph on FA. Also posted on ff.net and soon-to-be on FA.


Grand Romantic Adventure


"Ow!"

Rubbing her ear, Pansy scowled. Around her, the class twittered and nudged each other. She glared at each and every one of them until they turned their lack of attention back to Professor Binns, Draco's smirk turning into an agonized whimper as she kicked his ankle under the desk.

Pansy surreptitiously looked down. A cream-colored parchment airplane was caught in her robes, half-crumpled from when she had brusquely batted it out of her hair. That was what hit her? What was it made out of, concrete? How unspeakably childish. How decidedly improper. How exactly something Draco would do.

She slanted a glance at her erstwhile seat partner, who had limped across to an empty desk on his left and was now doodling aimlessly on his parchment. Never mind that it was her right ear that stung; he was the brains behind this indignity, he'd always gotten his cronies to do whatever he wanted. The why was immaterial.

She curled her fingers fastidiously in preparation of flicking the foul thing at Draco's eye. Surely he'd turn to smirk at her again, now that he thought he was safe; he never could let his victims sit in ignorance that he was their tormenter. She rearranged her features to an appropriately ghoulish grin. She waited for his look, waited for a clear shot, waited until, face aching, she looked back down at the airplane.

A glossy black string was coiling across one of the airplane's twisted sides. She watched, fascinated, as it curlicued into letters, and then a word.

"Noh?" she mouthed in puzzlement, unable to fathom such flowery writing. What kind of strange language was that? Was it a spell? Was it - oh. She turned the airplane around. "You."

You? You who? Pansy wondered. Me?

And Draco still wasn't looking over.

All right, so either Draco had acquired a veneer of worldliness since he'd changed seats, or maybe it really was from someone else. She pretended to have a fierce itch on her shoulder and half-turned, flickering her eyelashes up just enough to make out the (blurry) form of Potter two rows behind, staring off into space. Daydreaming of being a hero, Pansy thought, feeling one of her best sneers come over her face almost without trying. Well, that was nothing new.

Crabbe and Goyle she was forced to dismiss as the non-entities they were. They really weren't in a position to have thrown such a thing successfully, and besides, Draco still wasn't looking at her, wasn't looking at anyone, really, and that just didn't make sense…

There was Neville, but Neville would have ended up sending himself instead of the airplane if he'd even had the gumption in the first place. Next to him, that squirrel-cheeked Granger was busily taking notes, and very busily not noticing Weasley, who was also very obviously not noticing her. Lavender's entire face being smashed up against his might have been a reason, yet Pansy rather suspected not - not that she'd ever stoop to speculating on a Weasley's pathetic love life.

Parvati was in the right position to have thrown it, but like the others she was preoccupied; in her case, it was whispering non-stop into Lavender's unoccupied ear, never mind that Lavender wasn't paying any attention to her at all. She couldn't imagine Parvati risking her manicure on a parchment airplane anyway.

But then wouldn't the culprit have acted exactly as innocent and nonchalant as all of them were? No one was even pretending not to look at her - they just weren't. Pansy couldn't figure it out. No one out of this class of fools could have had such aplomb. She looked back down at the airplane. It was as if it had appeared out of nowhere.

I don't know why it's bothering me so much anyway, thought Pansy. It's just an airplane.

I wonder what else it says.

****
The rustle of a class waking up jolted Pansy unawares. She'd spent the last fifteen minutes trying to penetrate the thick parchment with her gaze alone - she didn't dare open it where such a loud rustle would attract everyone's attention right back to her again. The airplane had remained insolently impervious, with just that grotesque "you" winking up at her. A thousand times she was ready to tear it to shreds; a thousand times she held herself back.

Struggling from her seat, she contrived to separate herself from the other Slytherins in the hallway, thankful that for once Draco had stalked out ahead of her. No one noticed when she cleverly caught the airplane in a fold of her robe as she held her books down by her side. Coming to a halt in an alcove not far from her next classroom, she clumsily unfolded the parchment in the midst of her books.

The words came slowly, and at first made no sense.

You.

Love.

I.


Pansy mechanically started walking. She was well on down the hall before realizing she'd passed her classroom, and abruptly turned, causing another sixth-year to do an amazing acrobatic twist to avoid crashing into her. She scarcely blinked.

Parchment airplanes did not come with words. Parchment airplanes especially did not come with those sorts of words, and parchment airplanes should not be responsible for this odd beating of her heart, and if she ever got her hands on the sick bastard who'd sent it, why she'd - she looked at it again.

I love you, insisted the airplane.

"Impossible," said Pansy out loud, clapping her hand over her mouth in the next instant and nearly dropping everything.

Not so, the airplane seemed to say, as its black letters continued to glisten up at her.

"Quit talking to me," Pansy hissed, clenching it in her fingers, denying the thrill of excitement threatening to spill over her.

"I didn't say anything!" squeaked Colin Creevey's voice. She jumped half a foot in the air; she shoved the airplane into her History of Magic book; she tried to make her heart calm down. The expression on her face made him take a half-step back, his eyes bugging out in fright.

"Where the hell did you come from?" Pansy demanded.

"Er, nowhere, that is, right here, just passing," Colin stammered, holding his camera up for protection. Unaccountably, his fear annoyed her.

"Well, pass on, then," Pansy said through gritted teeth. "You're in my way."

"But aren't you going in there?" asked Colin in a puzzled tone, cocking his head towards the open door of her classroom. There was a clear path to the door; Colin had evidently been waiting for her to go through it.

And she hadn't even noticed.

Calm down, Pansy told herself. Her mother's crisp voice rolled forth in her mind. A Slytherin girl keeps the honor of her House by observing, waiting, listening. A pureblood girl is ever cold, detached, distant. A Parkinson girl never raises her voice. A Parkinson girl never gets excited.

Who's excited? she griped to herself. I haven't been excited in years. There hasn't been anything to be excited about.

Colin took her silence for admission and her scowl for impending doom, and scuttled away. She made sure her airplane was securely hidden and stepped inside the classroom. She sat next to Draco because there was nowhere else to sit; she'd have preferred to be alone in a corner, or somewhere else entirely, but class was starting, and McGonagall was not a professor friendly to Slytherin ploys.

"It's about time you got in here," hissed Draco, turning as Pansy slid into her seat beside him. "What were you on about, talking to Creevey like that?"

"I wasn't talking to him," Pansy snarled. "He was talking to ME."

"Tetchy, aren't we?" sneered Draco. "Never would have thought you'd have stooped so low as to let the bugger talk to you."

"Settle down, class," said Professor McGonagall from the front of the room, before Pansy could draw breath for a response. Draco subsided. Pansy turned away from him and fixed her eyes in veiled boredom at the front of the room.

She caught a glimpse of Harry's profile, as if he had just turned back around himself.

Nosy git, she thought to herself, taking out her wand and preparing to Transfigure yesterday's bollixed salamander/soup ladle.

The rest of the day was largely uneventful, if one didn't count the moment of sheer panic when she did finally drop her books, parchments, and quills, and the airplane whirled innocuously down the hall like a clumsy snowflake. Despite her mother's training, Pansy could use her lungs when she had to, so everyone froze when she shrieked, "Nobody move!" as she scrambled after her property.

Draco, who wouldn't have helped anyway, nevertheless lingered long enough to ask her if she was quite sure she didn't need a visit to the infirmary, as she was obviously afflicted by a mundane, malevolent spell.

"I didn't know you knew the meaning of the word 'malevolent', you inbred louse," Pansy tossed over her shoulder as she stalked away, trying to stop her heart from pounding. Draco stood staring, his mouth hanging open. Crabbe, for a wonder, looked like he thought he should laugh. Goyle just looked.

* * * * * *
She finally thought of a place where she could be entirely private. Contriving to stay late after her last class so she had no time to go to her room, she rushed in to dinner with her books - and airplane - still clutched in her hands. She had to endure Draco's cold shoulder while she ate, which shortly changed to spluttered remarks of indecency (on her part) and idiotic threats (on his), but the moment his attention was drawn away, she hurried off to what she said was the girls' lavatory. Once outside the Great Hall, she rushed off at an oblique angle to the one place none of her friends were likely to go - the library.

The last time she'd even come near the library was when she was a first-year, and had been given the Slytherin Tour of Places to Avoid Because We Have Our Archive of Answers, You Know. They had never even gone inside.

Pansy hesitated on the threshold. The doors had been left open by two lofty Ravenclaws who had passed her just now, ignoring her as was their wont; she fought the feeling of vertigo, of believing it was almost sacrosanct to enter such a place. What was the matter with her? So what if no other Slytherin would be caught dead in the library by choice. The other Houses didn't know that. And there'd be nobody to spy on her, either.

She looked behind her once, twice, then once again; she put her shoulders back and strode forward like a conquering hero - a tiptoeing conquering hero.

The glowing orbs of lamplight and the hush of old, loved books seemed to reach out and grab her. How large the library was, yet how secluded! Pockets of students studied around polished mahogany tables; the hum of quiet industry rose and fell as she passed each group. No one bothered themselves about her, no one laughed, no one jeered. She felt covered with a warmth she was quite unaccustomed to. She felt…welcome.

Even the glare of Madam Pince didn't bother her; the hatred that Pince gave everyone entering her domain assured Pansy that here she was just another student, which was for once exactly what she wanted.

She really felt as if she could spend time here, and not only to read secret notes, either. Not that she would, of course.

Pansy noticed that a few students were sitting here and there amongst the stacks, pouring over books needed for essays; that gave her an idea. She passed the Weasley girl sitting with her latest boyfriend in such a row. Both of them looked up for a moment, and Pansy heard her whisper something that was probably very uncomplimentary about her, Pansy, but she chose to disregard it. Why Potter didn't know she was pining after him was anyone's guess, but she certainly wouldn't be the one to tell him. Really, snooty carrot-tops were quite beneath her notice.

Finally finding what seemed just the right hiding place within the stacks - a suspiciously-gnawed "Anthropological Wizard's Survival Guide in Primitive Cultures Prone to Axe-Wielding Suspicion" led the first row - Pansy dropped to the floor, able to relax for the first time in what had been a very long day. Arranging her books so that it looked like she was studying diligently, she spread out the airplane once more on her lap, fingering the edges of the thick parchment, half-hoping the words were just imagined anyway.

"I love you" still stared up at her hopefully, glinting like obsidian in the lamplight from the end of the stack, and she was still just as clueless about it as before.

Who could have sent her such a thing? Whether or not she had been promised to Draco since she was born - and lately she'd heard that he'd told at least one other Slytherin girl the same thing, the greasy bugger - she considered herself a not unprepossessing girl. All right, so she thought she was rather pretty, but not in a vain way. Well, maybe she was a little vain. In any case, it was about time she had a secret admirer. It would only be natural. Of course, her mother had said that secret admirers and flimsy tokens of dubious affection were best left to the lower castes, before unaccountably changing the subject when Pansy had innocently asked if she had had any before she'd met Daddy.

Maybe she could ask the airplane. Before the thought had quite left her head, along with the secondary thought hard on its heels that she had gone completely mental, she whispered, "Did Draco send this to me?"

Was it her imagination, or did the airplane move in her hands?

She tried again, unconsciously changing her sentence a little. "Did Draco send you to me?"

There was a definite twitch this time! But…nothing more.

So Draco was involved in some way. That meant it was all just a joke, not that she'd ever thought differently. Maybe she should pick herself and her books off the floor, and leave the library and never look back.

"Did - " and here she winced, but steeled herself - "Crabbe send you to me?"

No movement.

She lowered her voice to an agonized whisper. "Did Goyle?"

The airplane remained still.

Pansy exhaled in immense relief. Now, just to test…

"Draco?" There it went again, a real movement.

Considering that there really couldn't be anyone worse than Crabbe and Goyle, despite Crabbe's unaccountable flash of awareness before, Pansy let herself go. She fired name after name at the airplane, inserting "Draco" again every so often so that she could reassure herself that its recognition was not just her imagination. There was a moment of tension when she mentioned "Colin" and the parchment rattled, but she realized a second later that that was because she had nearly dug her fingernails through it, so that was all right.

Having run out of interesting (and not-so-interesting males), she switched to females, with a prudish twist to her lips. With a kind of fascinated fear, she rattled through the names of all the girls in her year. The airplane gave nary a rustle.

Thank god, thought Pansy. There'd be no explaining THAT to my parents.

Then she realized that she had forgotten one name. With a rather indecipherable feeling, she murmured, "Did Harry Potter send you?"

The plane leapt out of her hands.

Pansy was stunned. Her hands fell limply to her sides, and she sagged back against the stack, almost pushing the books through to the other side. Never in a million years...why, even Great-Great-Grandmother Parkinson's rumored high-class brothel (for the discerning pureblood) run out of her own third floor could not have had such success. For it could only mean one thing.

Both of them! she thought exultantly. Both of them have feelings for me!

Never mind the fact that up until now she'd rather thought Potter would suit her better at the bottom of the lake with the Giant Squid, Granger, and all the Weasleys for company.

Never mind that she'd found out that Potter had called her a pug-face and that Draco had never bothered to defend her honor.

Never mind that she'd felt the quite un-ladylike desire to stick Draco on the end of his own fork at dinner, preferably in his extremely sensitive nether regions.

No, indeed; the conquest of the Boy Who Lived and the Most Eligible Bachelor in Pureblood Society was quite the sop to her prowess. Her mother would have to acknowledge that!

Her thoughts piled fast upon themselves now. She let herself get quite carried away, imagining her two suitors discovering they both felt the same for her, and subsequently fighting for her hand. And after that, despite broken limbs and bleeding eyes, they'd both written on this airplane, one boy for each word (and they'd both written "love," she added gleefully, ignoring the logistics), and sent it off, and were even now waiting in various states of nervousness for her decision.

The mere fact that such a discussion wasn't likely to occur in the first place between the two of them was discounted as rubbish.

Hadn't Harry been acting suspicious? Pansy thought, certain now that she'd caught him looking at her in Transfiguration. And hadn't Draco been even more whiny than usual?

She felt quite kindly towards Draco now. So the poor sod was in love with her. He'd probably just been trying to make her jealous in that feeble way boys do. And now that he knew Another could come between them, his casual disregard of their birthright betrothal must be making him quite ill. As for Potter, well...at least he wasn't bad looking.

No, she thought, feeling deliciously condescending, he wasn't a bad looker at all. Quidditch had certainly helped fill out his form, and that whole Being the Prime Target of You-Know-Who thing really put a sparkle in his eyes.

Besides, what fun it would be to play him off of Draco.

Pansy stood up and dusted off her pants. Bending down to gather up her books, she froze as the sound of approaching footsteps came stealthily to her ears. Acting purely by instinct, she crouched back down, forgetting all about her planned studying excuse. To a Slytherin, stealthy always meant danger. And these footsteps were coming right toward her.

She was starting to scuttle sideways along the stack, hoping to hide in the far shadows, when the footsteps fortunately stopped a row away.

"Well?" hissed an irritated voice. Pansy's ears sharpened. The voice, muffled, was vaguely familiar.

"Keep it down!" hissed another irritated voice.

"Shove it," grunted the first voice. The second voice grunted back, and there seemed to be a sudden scuffle that as instantly subsided.

The second voice came again, lower now. "Are you SURE you never got my note?"

"I already told you I didn't. Why don't you go ask Snape for Veritaserum?"

Evidently these were students talking, Pansy thought, proud of her deductive powers. The first voice with its slightly snippy male tone was faintly familiar, but then Hogwarts boys were either snippy or mulish. She had no idea about the other one - it was probably a Gryffindor girl, who had no problem meeting all manner of men in the stacks of the library. This would be great ammunition. Thoughts of flight abandoned, Pansy carefully pushed a few books out of her way so she could hear better.

"Oh, you'd like that, wouldn't you, putting me in detention for the rest of my life!"

"Come off it already, it's not my fault I didn't get it. And as far as I know, nobody did. So what are you worried about?"

"Oh, nothing. Just talk, discovery, more talk, persecution, talk...nothing at all."

And at that point one of the students - she didn't think it was the speaker - sighed.

Pansy started. That was the strangest girl’s sigh she’d ever heard, all edged and gusty and deep. It was almost as if...well, let’s not be hasty, she chided herself. If only she could creep around to the next stack, so she'd only be one row away! But wait - the books she had pushed aside had had no books on the other side, so she could peer straight through to the empty row. And she could just see the bottom half of two sets of robe material through a fortunate gap in the stack across from that. Which told her absolutely nothing at all.

"Don't be so dramatic."

"Don't be so unfeeling!"

"Look. You already know somebody would have said something if they'd found it. You didn't..." and here the snippy tone faltered a little for the first time, "...put my name on it, or anything?"

"What do you take me for?" said the other voice, angrily. The voice that was sounding less and less like a girl’s at every moment. Her – well, its – robes swished petulantly.

"Obviously an idiot, to send notes like that!" His robes swished defiantly.

"You did it to me not too long ago, I remember!"

"Years ago."

"TWO years ago," Robe#2 flounced, voice getting louder.

"What does it matter? Those were different times! You didn't, did you?" fumed Robe#1, voice also getting louder.

"Er, not exactly, that is, it's just that special thick parchment, spelled it so that if the proper phrase was uttered, the note would reveal more, er...sensitive subjects. And shake and rattle. I thought it was cute," finished Robe#2 lamely.

Pansy gasped and slumped back, drowning out whatever Robe#1 said. Her fingers fumbled at the parchment airplane by her side, tracing the special thick sides, remembering the strange movements it had made…

There was an asphyxiated sound from the stack over, rather like a horrified gulp cut off mid-utterance. Pansy pressed her eye to the gap in the shelf. A third, immaculate set of robes had appeared between the two now frozen to the spot.

"If you two are QUITE finished, I suggest that you take your DISRUPTING INFLUENCE out of MY library." Pansy could practically hear the glare Madam Pince must be giving.

"Er..."

"NOW!"

Pansy jumped. Evidently the others had as well, for there was a strangled squawk, a dull, sick thud as if someone's elbow had connected with someone's windpipe, and then a scurry of four feet.

I'd rather like that job, Pansy thought idly. Be able to scream when I want to, when everyone else has to be quiet and listen and not talk back.

But what about…no. Best not to think about it.

Pansy sighed. Gathering up her books, she fingered the airplane thoughtfully, before tucking it back into her History of Magic book. She waited until the measured tread of Madam Pince's feet had quite died away - add the ability to sneak up AND tromp off at will to my dream career, thought Pansy, forgetting that she wasn't meant to have a career - and straightened up, wincing a little.

Hurrying out of the library, not bothering to be evasive, she careened into a chattering group of students, extricating herself with some difficulty. The corridors were filled now, but no Slytherins, thank goodness, just Draco over there, and Harry lurking behind a large vase, and…

Draco, glancing furtively about him? Harry, hiding in plain sight of his gaze? Draco and Harry, decidedly not looking at each other, right here, in the hallway outside the library. Draco and Harry, alone with no henchmen, no loyal followers, nobody in this sea of students that noticed them at all.

Crabbe and Goyle rounded the corner.

"Where've you been, mate?" Crabbe asked upon catching sight of Draco.

"Nowhere you need to know," said Draco in a voice that tried to snarl but came out high-pitched instead.

"Harry, there you are!" said Hermione, scrambling down the hall with her book bag thumping against her side. "What are you doing there? Oh, never mind - did you forget you were going to get your books out of the tower?"

"Er, yeah, I guess I did," said Harry quietly, easing out from behind the vase.

"I thought so," said Hermione chidingly. "I gathered them up for you. Come on, I hope we get a good table." She ushered Harry into the library, never giving Pansy a second glance. Draco, staring into space for just a moment too long, turned and trod down the corridor, followed by Crabbe and Goyle.

It still might have been nothing. Her hearing wasn't what it used to be; the library carpet deadened all sound; it was some other parchment airplane being discussed by two entirely unfamiliar students who just happened to sound like people she knew.

She opened her book and looked glumly at the airplane. "I love you" looked back. Its gloss and gleam looked quite dull now. She didn't know why she suddenly felt so disappointed. It wasn't as though she'd really expected anything, after all.

A combination of words - no, say it; it's a phrase, she told herself firmly - popped into her head. She could say it out loud, right now, and know once and for all.

She suddenly really didn't want to know.

The airplane seemed to smile. Pansy felt distinctly ill.

fin.


Date: 2006-06-23 02:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the_con_cept.livejournal.com
Oh, this is awesome! How did I miss this! You're so clever and witty, and you made me like PANSY! She's very like how I imagine Lucius, personality-wise. I especially loved the phrase "...so either Draco had acquired a veneer of worldliness since he'd changed seats..." I really enjoyed the whole thing, and the cheeky ending was great!

Date: 2006-06-23 06:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerama.livejournal.com
EEE! *is tremendously happy*
Pansy turned out to be marvelously fun to write - I imagined that she had more to her than what Harry saw, and it just took off from there. Inner snark = love.
I'm so glad the ending worked out because I went over that whole library portion several times - trying not to be more obvious than could be helped without being too obtuse. Thank god Pansy can Not Think About It when she has to. :)

Thanks so much!!

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