darkhairedgirl: (still waiting for that damn letter)
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Title: set our lovely sky on fire
Pairing: Justin Finch-Fletchley/Pansy Parkinson
Prompt: fall to your knees
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1139
Summary: “Who’s Joni Mitchell?” she asks, and the world around them bursts into flames.
Author's Notes: 4/13. Title comes from the Joni Mitchell song “If I Had A Heart.”

It’s Bonfire Night and too warm for November, the moon hanging full and white overhead as Pansy follows the high street back to the Leaky Cauldron, almost at the end of her dinner break. There are lots of people out tonight – party revelers, regular Auror patrol, a gang of boys her age loitering outside Pottage’s – but Pansy walks alone, her thumb brushing the handle of the wand in her pocket like a talisman. Justin surprises her a few shops from the Leaky, catching up with her right outside the apothecary; he tugs on her jacket to get her attention and she nearly hexes him before realizing who he is.

Justin jumps, startled, and nearly drops whatever is in his arms; Pansy blushes, embarrassed, and sputters out a quick apology. They push past the moment: he’s been looking for her, he says – he has records for her, Muggle music, the pile of albums still threatening to spill out of his arms, slipping out of their dog-eared sleeves as he tries to rearrange himself under Mulpepper’s awning. The light around them is strange, half dark and half gold, and it casts odd shadows under Justin’s eyes, gives his jawline a sharper edge. She can hear fireworks in the distance.

“I’ve been thinking about you,” he says, “About the last time we… you know, but… look, I thought you’d like to try listening to some of these. Consider it an education, courtesy of the Finch-Fletchley Family Archive.”

He pours his pile of records into her unready arms and Pansy wants to laugh at the absurdity of it all: Hufflepuff’s favorite son and Slytherin’s fallen princess, the two of them standing outside a Diagon Alley shopfront in the dark and talking about Muggle folk singers. He looks so hopeful right then, so earnest, and as she shifts her grip on the records Justin flips the top album over, nudging her towards the light so she can read the songs on the back. He leans in close, his arm brushing hers, and when Pansy looks at him again she thinks of the last time she saw him look this happy – fourth year, it had to be, the Justin in her memory sitting on the low wall in the courtyard with his friends, laughing and flashing one of Draco’s Potter Stinks! badges at the passersby. The thought makes her want to smile.

“Who’s Joni Mitchell?” she asks him, and the world around them bursts into flames.

Glass explodes from shop windows and Pansy flings herself to the ground, arms over her head and dirt gritty against her teeth, pavement digging into her knees through the rips in her tights. Justin is in a similar state beside her, face streaked with soot and his panicked voice lost in the sound of the fire, people screaming, Aurors casting Protego around the perimeter. Pansy digs her wand from her coat and grips it tight in her fist, her heart pounding hard in her chest as she crawls towards Justin, moving slowly and carefully through the shards of glass pricking at her skin, catching on her clothes. Her ears are ringing from the explosion and she can barely hear herself even as she tries to shout over the noise.

“Are you okay?” she shouts again, and Justin nods, scrabbling for his wand. Blood beads up on his chin where it scraped against the sidewalk. She staggers to her feet and helps Justin to his, and as they both survey the scene Pansy realizes, almost as if from a distance, that it wasn’t glass slicing up her elbows and knees: it was broken vinyl. She must have thrown the albums when she went to ground – everything Justin gave her is smashed to pieces.

The fire is out but the cauldron shop is still smoldering, the front window completely shattered and the displays inside destroyed. A grey haze has settled over the Alley from the smoke and Pansy shrieks as Auror Savage seems to materialize directly out of the fog: Justin clutches Pansy’s free hand in his as the light from the Auror’s wand nearly blinds them both, Savage’s demeanor all business as he orders her to hand over her wand for a Priori Incantatem.

“I’m a witness,” she hisses, humiliated and bleeding. “I was going back to work. I wasn’t even anywhere near the building.”

Savage ignores her, eyes following the smoky trail left by the Scourgify she cast two hours ago. “We have reason to believe the men responsible are ex-Slytherins, likely from this year’s graduating class.” He hands back her wand handle-first before he asks her, “Could you identify them?”

Pansy suddenly finds herself blinking back tears – from the smoke, from the pain, from the question. She peers around Savage’s shoulder to where the culprits are being handcuffed: the mist is clearing, revealing the group of boys she’d passed outside Pottage’s – God, not even half an hour ago.

“Graham Pritchard,” she says, “He’s the one with the paint. Finnigan’s got Nathan Vaisey in a headlock. I don’t – I don’t know the other two, they might be Ravenclaws.”

Savage nods, then glances back towards the scene. “Good. We’ll need to take your statement, I’ll get – Patil! Patil, get Miss Parkinson bandaged up, and make sure Chang gets her statement before you let her go.”

No one comes to help her: Savage goes to make sure Finnigan doesn’t strangle their delinquents and Pansy stumbles back toward the sidewalk, scanning the street for Justin before she even realizes what she’s doing. She finds him kneeling on the ground in front of the apothecary, gathering up the pieces of the records she ruined; someone healed the cut on his chin, cleaned the grime from his face, but he’s still shaken and deathly pale, his whole body trembling as he picks carefully at the shards of vinyl, puts them into piles. There is a flash of the skeletal prisoner she saw in photographs in the movement: that sharp, aching emptiness painfully visible in the miserable hunch of his shoulders, the dark slashes underneath his eyes. Pansy gets down on her knees beside him and takes the shattered vinyl out of his hands, tears slipping down her cheeks as she waves her wand, murmurs Reparo after Reparo. She doesn’t want to cry; she can’t seem to stop.

Justin lays one shaky, proprietary hand over the restored pile between them. His voice is thin, afraid, when he tells her, “I don’t think those pieces went together.”

Pansy picks up a record and trails a finger over the ridges, trying to find the mended cracks. She can’t, and sets it carefully back in the pile. “You’ll have to listen to it with me, then,” she says, voice thick, and smears the back of her hand under her eyes. “You’ll need to tell me what goes where.”

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August 2016

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