It’s always about the movement. From here to there to here again, and never standing still. Watch you don’t catch cobwebs, Pansy likes to say. You get slow, then you get sedentary, then you get boring. So these days it’s always about the movement, and it’s always about speed, about moving fast. That’s why Pansy never says ‘No’. She doesn’t say ‘No’, because the only possible answer to the questions Ginny asks is ‘Now’.
Grasping an elbow.
Then off they go, and it’s a little like a roller coaster in motion: Ginny digging her toes into the mattress, tongue boiling up to a scream.
The first time it is awkward - they haven’t established the ground rules yet, they aren’t even sure if there are any rules to begin with. They share a cigarette and talk about boys: given the circumstances, it seems to be the safest conversational territory. Boys are easy to get a handle on, boys are solid, boys can be explained - they have beginnings and ends. I started with him then, and I dumped him then - boys can be dated, their existence and relevance confined to a definitive bracket of time.
Take Malfoy, for instance:
‘I broke it off,’ Pansy is saying. ‘That’s the truth, no matter what Draco likes to tell his little friends. I got tired of him. He was boring. Every thought he had came prefaced with ‘My father says’ or ‘My father thinks’. A little blonde parrot - pretty, but vacant. Nothing on the inside. I said to him once: ‘Does your father want you to fuck me, too?’ I figured he’d laugh, I figured he’d get angry. Instead he just looked worried, he said to me: ‘I’ll have to ask him.’’ She shrugs. ‘I think that’s where it ended - when I realised we were going nowhere together.’
Under the blankets Ginny touches Pansy’s foot with her own, and draws it away again just as fast. Not a beginning and not an end, she thinks. Just an in-between. Pit stop, breaks checked, tires changed, and then on.
‘Tell me about Harry,’ says Pansy.
Ginny looks at her hands, she looks at Pansy’s skin between her fingers.
‘Talk to me,’ says Pansy, pinching her. ‘Otherwise I’m going to have to find another use for your tongue.’
‘I didn’t get bored. It wasn’t about boredom.’
Pansy laughs. ‘Then what was it? What made you turf the great Harry Potter like a lump of coal?’
‘His trouble was restraint,’ says Ginny quietly. ‘He had none. He could not keep his hands off me. When we walked, when we talked, in public, in private, he always needed to hold some part of me. It was an obsession with permanence, I think - that’s what Hermione said. Perhaps it was because his parents died, I don’t know. He needed me there, he needed to be reassured. After six months I realised I couldn’t do it any longer. I had to get - I had to get free.’
It sounds silly, but Pansy doesn’t smile. She holds Ginny’s hand, and Ginny blushes - she can’t help herself. Pansy frowns and looks away. Ginny follows the line of her sight, and notices two things: that there is light, there, streaming through the chink in the curtains; and that the wallpaper beyond Pansy’s shoulder has risen, bubbling, from the wall itself, the cream relief of brooms and wands distorted.
‘When did you know?’ Ginny asks.
‘When did I know what?’
‘When did you know about this.’
The silence that falls between them is uncomfortable: Ginny feels the cogs shift briefly out of step, out of sync.
‘It was summer,’ says Pansy softly. ‘I woke up that morning and the world was full of women. I was fifteen at the time, maybe fourteen. It was a revelation: their breasts, their bottoms, their hips, the way they moved. I was scared, and I was spellbound. I wanted to crawl to them on all fours and press my teeth into their thighs.’
Cut to Ginny at fifteen-maybe-fourteen, losing her virginity in a toilet stall, a train station cubicle and a fifth year who wears his tie too loose, who smokes and sneers when he says the word shit - his expression making even filth sound sexy. She has a leg on the toilet seat and the other on the floor and her buttocks ride the thrusts of his hips - he fucks like he talks, aggressively, without apology. Afterwards she says ‘ow’ and Gregory looks sullen; a train passes overhead and the fluorescent lights flicker once and then go out.
‘You loved him a lot,’ says Pansy: not a question, just a statement of fact.
‘It was the 2.45 from Kings Cross,’ says Ginny, gathering the blankets up around her chest. ‘I’ll never forget it.’
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