Genre: General, humor, romance
Time: Fourth Year (pre-Yule Ball)
Length: Short (<2000 words)
Characters: Pansy Parkinson, Millicent Bulstrode, Theodore Nott, Draco Malfoy, minor others
Pairings: Draco/Pansy, Theo/Millie, Theo/Pansy
Summary: Pansy Parkinson needs a date. Not for herself, but for her hag-like best friend Millicent Bulstrode.
Millicent Bulstrode was seated at her desk, humming and busily scribbling away with her quill. Two beds and one desk over, seated by the window, Pansy Parkinson watched her, biting on the tip of her feather of her own quill in a distracted manner. The first issue, of course, was her size. Millie was not only the tallest girl in their year but also the widest. Pansy didn't see how she could change that. The hair was lank and long and dully black, but it could be worked on. Her skin had a sort of sick dullness, but it was unblemished, that was a bright spot, and her teeth were ok. The brows would need serious work.
Millie slammed down her quill with a contented sort of grunt, and looked over at Pansy. "Are you finished too?"
"Yes. I mean no. Not with the paper." Pansy looked down at her outline, then at the blank parchment. "I can't concentrate."
"Dreaming of balls?" Millie teased.
Yes, thought Pansy, but not for me. Aloud she said, "I can't decide whether to wear pearls or diamonds."
"What travails." Millie rolled up her essay. "Daphne will be wearing emeralds, you know."
"Then it will have to be diamonds," Pansy said with a smirk. They both giggled.
Pansy found Theo in his favorite corner, a secret alcove hidden behind a tapestry on the top level of the dungeons, so that a tiny top window let in sunlight. He was sketching a dead frog.
"In your hidey-hole again, Theo?" she teased, then wrinkled her nose. "Ew. Where did you get that thing?"
"I planned on drawing it alive," Theo answered with a smile. "But it kept trying to escape."
Pansy carefully sat on the outjutting of stone opposite him, smoothing her skirt under her to keep her legs away from the cold rock. "Do you have a date for the ball?"
His expression did not change to Pansy, but inwardly his heart began to pound. "No, I don't."
"Do you want to go?"
Theo opened his mouth, but it was dry. He swallowed and said "Yes, I'd love to go with you Pansy."
She colored, and turned her head away. "Oh, Theo, I didn't mean--I already have a date. Draco asked me. Didn't you know?"
Now Theo blushed. "Oh," he said.
"I meant, I mean, do you want to go in general? You don't usually like crowds, but it will be loads of fun, and the Weird Sisters will be playing."
"Oh," he said again, rather lamely. He was thinking furiously. He didn't like hanging around with other kids or socializing in groups, and watching Pansy fawn over that git Malfoy did not seem to be the makings of an enjoyable evening. But if he said no, then she would know that the only reason he wanted to go was her. Better to pretend that what he wanted was to go to the ball and she was merely a convenient partner. "Yes, I do want to go to the ball. Very... much."
Pansy looked relieved. "Oh good, that makes it easy. Theo, would you please ask my friend Millie Bulstrode to the ball?"
Theo did not physically recoil but he did look bewildered. "Millicent Bulstrode?"
"Yes," said Pansy, hesitated a moment, and then added, "As a particular favor to me."
Now Theo was stuck again. If he refused, then he was insulting Bulstrode and Pansy would be so angry she might never speak to him again. But if he said yes, then he would be the date of Millicent Bulstrode, the ugliest girl in Slytherin, and a half-blood no less. Either lose his only friend or be publicly humiliated.
"Theo?" she said, pleadingly.
He bit his lip. "Sure. I'll ask her."
"Oh, Theo!" Pansy squealed, clapping her hands together. She rushed at him and threw her arms around him and kissed the top of his head. "You're my best friend--my best boy friend. Now you will pretend that it was your idea, won't you? And buy her a flower? She likes waterlilies."
Theo, slightly overwhelmed at her nearness--he was staring directly into her small but promising bosoms--managed another "Sure."
She drew back, looking well chuffed, and rubbed her hands together, thinking of how deliciously all her plans were going. "Well I'll leave you to your dead animal, then." She flounced out of the room.
Pansy met Draco at the outside of Madame Puddifoot's, and wrinkled her nose at Crabbe and Goyle looming behind him. "Ugh, it's not going to be crowded, is it?"
Draco took the hint immediately and dismissed his cronies without ceremony. She preceded him into the tea shop, where Madame Puddifoot immediately fluttered over, asked about the health of Draco's mother, and showed them to the best table. There were four places so Draco hadn't been quite as anticipitory of her wishes as he would have liked, but two of them were taken away directly and Pansy showed in her smile that she was impressed. They sat across from one another.
They gossipped idly until Pansy was served her Earl Grey and Draco his cocoa, then Pansy took a sip, leaned forward and whispered, "Draco, there's something very important that I want to ask you--quite important."
She had laid her left hand on the middle of the table, next to the candle. With a sudden feeling of boldness, Draco covered it with his own and smiled at the flush in Pansy's cheeks. "You know you can ask me anything, Pansy. There's nothing I can't get for you."
Her face shone with that embarrassed smile he loved so much. "It's not any thing. You know I'm friends with Theo."
Part of Draco would have liked to withdraw his hand at the mention of that scheming loser, but instead he squeezed her hand possessively and kept his voice light. "What about it?"
"Well I've gotten Theo to ask Millie to the dance, and--"
She stopped because he was laughing. He actually leaned back his head and laughed. Pansy slipped her hand out from under his with a defiant tilt of her already upturned nose.
He settled down, but it was not without a snort that he said, "I see. And what do you need from me?"
"I know she's not pretty, Draco, but she can't help that. She's been a very good friend to me."
"It's not just her looks that make me laugh. She's a match for Nott in that respect," he said with a shadow of a sneer. "But she's a halfblood, so it's no surprise she has no magical talent."
Pansy's frown deepened and she glanced to the side, thinking. Of course she believed the pure bloods were superior and that bloodlines needed to be preserved or their way of life would vanish, but she had pity rather than animosity for Muggle-borns and their ilk, even if it was occasionally a supercilious kind of pity. "Well she can't help that, either--and it's not like I've asked him to marry her. I only want her to have someone to dance with."
He regarded her. "So I ask again. What do you need from me?"
"Don't make fun of Theo, alright? Don't let Crabbe or Goyle laugh at him either. He's doing it for me."
Draco laughed again. "That's asking a lot."
She placed her hand back in its original spot and smiled sweetly. "You said there's nothing you can't get for me."
Very smoothly done, Draco thought admiringly. And if I do this for her, getting a kiss at the end of tonight will be certain.
By the time they parted for their own rooms, they had kissed four times.
Theo followed the sound of an enchanting ballad to a lamplit chamber deep in the Slytherin dungeons, where he found the singer, Millicent Bulstrode, practicing her guitar. She stopped mid-line and looked at him in surprise. "Hello, Nott."
"Hi," he said uncomfortably. I am never going to make this believable. "I was wondering if you'd like to go to the Yule Ball with me."
She continued staring at him with the same expression. "Did Pansy put you up to this?"
He thought a moment. "Yes," he said, hoping that meant she would refuse.
She got an odd sort of smile. "Alright," she said, and began strumming again. "And ne'er again did the unicorns dance, ne'er upon that bright field they chanced, forever a day they stayed away..."
Dumbfounded, he watched her a moment, then turned and walked away.