Word count: 902
Additional notes: This was very much inspired by the writing of F Scott Fitzgerald, and the title is a quote from The Great Gatsby. I think it reads well when accompanied with jazz - I'd recommend either Shirley Horn or Dinah Shore. :)
The evening was cool and a small stage had been set up in the Parkinson garden, upon which the latest fashionable musician was singing a low, mellow song about true love, or the loss of true love, or something similar. Around her dozens of couples clung to one another, and by the side of the dance area arose the sound of murmured conversations and controlled laughter.
Away from the party, up the dusky-pink roses climbing the side of the house - planted and cultivated earlier that afternoon by Delilah Parkinson who knew how to create a romantic atmosphere - onto the balcony, there was a couple, a little way apart from each other. The balcony too had been decorated with roses and honeysuckle, carefully arranged around the pale wicker furniture. Their delicate fragrance mingled with the evening breeze. The Parkinsons always planned everything to a degree.
The girl lounged, cat-like, on one of the wicker chairs in the shadows. A half-finished glass of champagne was positioned expertly in her hand and her lipstick-painted mouth was curved into a satisfied smile. Her dress - short, but not too short - glittered slightly when she moved, almost as though a multitude of silver Sickles had been woven into its threads.
"Thee-oh-dore Nott," Pansy began, enjoying the way all the syllables of his name rolled off her tongue. "I haven't seen you all evening, do you realise?" She paused - then, seeing that he wasn't going to say anything, continued. "Where have you been? I've been completely distraught."
She took another sip from her glass.
Theo scowled. He resented this giddy, imprudent wealth she exuded; resented it and wanted to rub up close to it, away from the horrors that war had inflicted; to draw back and away into a faintly-remembered five-month period when he too sipped champagne and laughed - without thinking about what he was laughing at - with her.
"I've been with Draco," he told her.
"Draco?" Pansy echoed, as though he were a naughty kitten. "You were with Draco, instead of - " She broke off, not uneasily. Theo understood her meaning. This was her night. The furniture had been arranged and the guests danced and the moon shone down - all of it with her in mind. It was incomprehensible to suggest anything else. She was the main attraction.
"It had been a while. I wanted to see him," Theo said, his eyes acknowledging the absurdity of this statement.
She showed him her pretty teeth. Underneath the table, her feet stretched out with a dancer's grace and her toes flexed. She wasn't wearing any shoes. Theo wondered for a moment whether her feet were still as soft as he remembered. They were certainly as slim and white as ever.
"I came up here to tell you something," he said abruptly, and realised that that was the truth.
Her face was impassive, so he continued.
"I'm going away soon," he told her. "I've sorted out a Portkey and as soon as I get my things in order then - I'm going away." His courage failed him at the end.
Pansy rose, a little unsteadily, placing her glass down on the table. She drifted towards him with her face upturned until she was so close that he could see the dusting of rouge on her cheeks. Another few inches, and they would be kissing.
"Why?" she asked. "We have mere months until the end. Why leave now for the sake of - mere months?"
He explained to her gently as the song in the background swelled to a climax, in words that he thought she would understand. He reminded her of his father's position and the uncertainty of the situation even at this late stage, and finally, half-hoping that his departure would move her to tears, told her of the opportunities he would have if he left.
Pansy didn't cry. She looked a little pale, but that might have been the moonlight. The hopes he'd had for her fell down once again, as they had on a night two years ago; a night when she'd laughed and he - stopped.
"We'll meet again, of course," she said assuredly. She clutched at the side of his robes. She didn't understand.
"Of course," he said after a short, uncertain pause. His revelation had been an unpleasant, unplanned diversion in her script and he now owed it to her to help set it back on course. He watched her intently, waiting for her to give him a lead to follow.
Pansy allowed his coarse hand to linger in her hair for a few seconds before she moved away. For a moment an expression as black as her hair flickered across her face. Then -
"And you'll dance with me later this evening?"
He made the correct response, and she smiled at him once more and sank back down in her chair. She began watching the dancing couples in the garden below in apparent approval. He raised one hand in the air and held it there, before turning to go.
When he got downstairs, Theo felt Pansy's watchful stare bear into his back. He turned and looked back up at her. Her gaze remained steady, and Theo felt as though she was looking through and beyond him - faintly confused - trying to uncover something that she'd once found - something that was no longer there.