This is the way it was before: Ginny on the Potter team, Pansy a step behind Malfoy. Afterwards it’s like this: Potter and Malfoy taking turns to bag the cuter Ravenclaw girls, and Ginny and Pansy together, in corners, kissing and fucking and doing those things that girls do. And nobody talks about it, and in the school corridors Ron gathers a congregation of loyal Gryffindors, talks loudly about his older brothers and never mentions her name.
To Ron it’s a sudden thing, unexpected: one day his little sister’s got the hots for Harry Potter, next day she’s got a hand down Pansy’s knickers. He’s been too caught up in the trivial matters of his own life (I’m Harry Potter’s best friend, don’t you know?) that he’s missed the subtle stages of the transformation. Missed the arguments, missed the trauma, missed the morning that Ginny woke up in Pansy’s arms and realised it was just like Pansy’d always told her: Once you start moving, you can never turn back.
‘Was that the beginning?’ Ginny wonders aloud.
‘No,’ says Pansy.
‘What about when you kissed me?’
‘When we first made lo- the first time we fucked?’
Ginny gets cross. ‘What about when I was born? Did it start then?’
‘I don’t know, Weasley,’ Pansy replies. ‘You tell me.’
Now they’re out of school Pansy’s working for the Ministry - she organises Quiddich games, locations, dates, times; she does crowd control. Ginny’s still unemployed, still living in the Burrow until she works out what she wants from life, works out what she wants from Pansy. And works out how to explain the intractable problem of Pansy-and-Ginny to her parents, before their less-than-subtle hints send her on a one way trip to St Mungos. Her mother especially takes great pleasure in reminding Ginny that she let a good thing go when she dumped Harry. ‘Hermione’s a lovely girl,’ Molly Weasley says, ‘but she’s not you. If you asked him, I bet he’d come back to you in a second.’
Ginny: polishing the windscreen, purposefully non-committal. ‘Yeah, mum.’
‘Can’t expect you to find yourself a nice boy if you spend all your time moping about in here,’ says Molly.
Molly looks at her funny. ‘Do you want to talk about something, Virginia?’ she asks - a bad sign, she never calls Ginny Virginia unless it’s a prelude to something serious. ‘Ever since school finished you’ve been upset. Well, not upset exactly - just -’ She shakes her head vaguely, tries a different tactic. ‘I’m your mother, Virginia. You know you can always talk to me about anything that’s troubling you.’
Ginny stares into the glass. Her mother’s face reflects nervously back at her, her eyes hidden by the frayed fringes of the cloth.
‘You aren’t pregnant, are you, Virginia?’ Molly asks.
‘No, mum. I’m not pregnant.’
Molly breathes a sigh of relief which is just a bit too self-conscious to be real.
‘I’m fine, mum, honestly. I think I just need the break, that’s all.’
‘Maybe you need a holiday,’ says Molly thoughtfully. ‘Your father and I did that once. Just upped and left, right out of the blue. Took a few changes of clothes and our brooms - and that’s it. Don’t raise your eyebrow at me like that, Ginny Weasley: your father and I were quite the young rebels in our day. Spent a weekend in France, relaxing - saw the sights. Did us both the world of good, let me tell you.’ She comes out of her reverie with bad grace: ‘Pity you don’t have anyone to go with.’
Ginny says: ‘Where does dad keep the car keys?’
‘He’ll never let you take it,’ says Molly, laughing. ‘He knows you, he knows you and this car. If you had your way, you’d never bring it back.’
Later, nestled knee-to-knee on the porch, Ginny holds Pansy’s hand tighter-than-tight, flexes her knuckles until they turn white then purple then red, eclipsing her freckles.
‘Weasley?’ Pansy asks.
‘Parkinson,’ says Ginny. In her mind Ginny calls Pansy Pansy but out loud it’s always Parkinson, it’s ‘Have you got my books, Parkinson,’ or ‘You’re looking nice today, Parkinson,’ or sometimes (rarely) ‘I love you, Parkinson.’ They’ve got into that habit, got into it a long time ago, because that’s what the boys did, and it’s become a game to them. A parody, maybe. Only now they’re out of school it doesn’t seem to fit any more - the word is sort of awkward and authoritive - Parkinson, like the name you’d call someone important.
But she uses it anyway.
‘Parkinson,’ says Ginny, one hand wiping across her eyes. ‘I want to go for a drive.’
And Pansy - snub nosed, sexy Pansy, with a cigarette hanging out of the corner of her mouth and her blonde frizz tamed boyishly beneath her cap - just nods and smiles. ‘Sure, baby,’ says sexy Pansy, tucking an errant strand of Ginny’s hair behind her ear. ‘Whatever you want.’
Turns out that hotwiring the car is the easiest thing in the world.
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