The entry was deserted, as expected, and he trailed through the chill of several adjoining rooms to check the solar for signs of her presence, given that it was, in his experience, her most likely source of entertainment outside of his endless tale-telling. If it were anyone else, the fact that it was nearly four in the morning would logically dictate that she should be sleeping, and that he should leave, but many wee hours spent alternately riling and soothing his unconventional friend indicated firmly otherwise, and Tristan glanced quickly about the dim room with its vicious foliage before pursuing his final option.
A faint glow from the parlor confirmed his decision to visit, and he made his way casually to the available armchair before the fire, dropping neatly into it with a murmured, “Good morning, Pansy.”
Her eyes opened at hearing his voice and she rolled her head to the side until her cheek lay against the arm of the chair. She’d felt his arrival, but the buzzing sensation across her skin did not impart to her anything but his presence in her home. Her dark eyes catalogued the rest: that he seemed in general good health, both physically and mentally. This pleased her, and she let her lashes flutter shut again and bopped her foot idly where it hung over the arm of the chair nearest the fire.
“Tristan,” she greeted. “Come to make a menace of yourself? Or did you miss my foul disposition?”
"A bit of both, I suppose, as you tend to consider my mere presence a menace," Tristan returned, resisting the inclination to reach out and tug at her extended foot. He did often needle her apurpose, but she seemed content in her doze and he was not of a mind to ruin her repose.
Settling himself comfortably in the large chair, his feet stretched toward the blaze, he turned to regard the petite woman draped across the other seat. "How've you been, Pansy? You seem remarkably restful this evening."
“Mmm,” she hummed in agreement. “The team is leading the league, and I attended what needed attending during the holidays.” She paused before adding, “And I haven’t had to put up with any idiocy in days. I’ve found it does wonders for one’s temperament.”
Dark lashes fluttered and Pansy again lolled her head toward Tristan to rest her cheek against the arm of the chair. He was about as sprawled as the man got. Comfortable. It was something they had discovered together the last several years, this comfort. An irony given both their natures. But it was something Pansy was grateful for, this odd companionship they had. She had no one else, save Draco. But Draco was a taker, an emotional dependent. Tristan was... he was something else. A type of friend. Or whatever passed for a friend for two such as them.
“And you? Being that you’re not in a state of agitation yourself, I assume the holidays went well and your sister is well as can be?”
"The holidays were tolerable enough, and Regan is happy and hale," Tristan agreed, thinking over his Christmas visit. "She's dating Bletchley, which is something of a concern, but I trust Gwen and her Auror to murder him if he does anything untoward."
The fact that his sister was seeing anyone seriously was enough to make him feel terribly old, but her happiness was worth his discomfiture, a hundredfold. Bletchley was, after all, a decent sort in general, and not a Weasley, which dalliance he'd evidently missed during his incarceration in Waverly. A mercy, to his mind, though the news that the Weasley in question had broken Regan's heart did not sit well with him.
She was feeling warm and lazy, sprawling much like a cat. However, Pansy’s focus completely narrowed to Tristan as he spoke and a incredulous, giddy sort of feeling blossomed in her chest. She shifted and lifted herself on her forearm, gaze intent on Tristan. “Is the Bletchley your sweet, maidenly sister seeing by any chance Miles Bletchley?” She tipped her head in consideration as a thought occurred to her. “Or perhaps, Alistair?”
Brow arching at the question, as he'd not expected quite the level of interest she'd shown, Tristan answered slowly, "I was unaware that there was another male Bletchley other than Miles' father, so I did mean Miles. Is that of particular interest to you for some reason?" He was wary of her response, but curious, and waited for her to answer.
Her lips curled up... and kept doing so until she was truly grinning. And then she started laughing. Tristan’s expression, the touch of concern, only made her laugh harder.
It was only a minute or so later that she pulled herself together enough to sit properly in the chair and face him. She was still smiling at the irony of it all, though. “Gods, I can’t remember the last time I laughed this hard. Or laughed at all, to be honest,” she reflected. Mentally shaking herself from that line of thought, Pansy sat back in her chair, dark eyes meeting Tristan’s. “And the reason I’m so very amused is because the man your sister is dating was a past lover of mine.” Her grin tinted more towards a smirk then. “I’m sure she’ll find time spent with him enjoyable. I always did.”
Not quite able to suppress a grimace at her implication, though he firmly crushed any potential images that attempted to arise, Tristan shook his head, voicing, "Don't say that; I've yet to feel the need to kill him, and I'd hoped for that to last at least a few weeks into the year."
He realized, of course, that Regan was an adult now, and that she had every right to take a lover and would do so eventually, but as her older brother and the pseudo-parent who had raised her, he had no desire to know about her suitor's previous conquests. It was small comfort that Pansy's commentary was positive; he'd not expected else of Bletchley, but it was still information he just didn't need.
Pansy laughed again at his expression, but stood and moved to sit on the arm of his chair and pulled his hand into hers on her lap to pat the top consolingly. “Best to face the truth sooner than later. Then you can blow up shite to relieve some of the pressure. It should help stay your hand when you see his face. And both Regan and myself would be much obliged if you kept his visage intact. Me because he’s one of few people I actually trust anymore, and her... well, I should think it obvious.”
A smile was still at the edges of her mouth. She was enjoying this. Immensely. Tristan often played at being long-suffering where she was concerned, but he was rarely truly disturbed. It was no secret that she enjoyed needling him (and he, her, the bastard), but the opportunities to twist the knife, as it were, were infrequent at best. She really couldn’t help herself.
Sighing to himself, still vaguely uncomfortable with the idea but with no illusion of being able to dissuade Pansy from her entertainment, Tristan shrugged. "So long as he refrains from upsetting her unduly, I will refrain from maiming him. I remember him to be sensible enough."
Tristan ran his thumb along the back of Pansy's hand, tempted to press his luck since she'd initiated contact without provocation, then tugged gently, requesting, "Sit with me? It would be an appropriate forfeit for being a harpy, and I can likely manage to send you back to sleep, since I interrupted your almost-nap."
She raised a brow at him. “If I was to give forfeits to everyone to whom I was a bitch, I’d be destitute.” Even as she said it, however, she shifted toward him. She could count on one hand the people to whom she was close enough to be affectionate. Pansy both craved the physicality and despised her want of it as a weakness. But she supposed if one of her weaknesses was only ever exposed to those she trusted most, then she wasn’t so badly off.
Chuckling at both her logic and her typical disregard for the social niceties, Tristan reached to lift Pansy from the chair arm as she slid closer, tucking her against his chest. He knew better than to hold her tightly, wont to sprawl as she was, and instead simply curled an arm behind her, content to let her rearrange herself as she chose. "Not everyone, and I've no use for your money. This, however, we'll both enjoy, little as you'd like to admit it, and you might get a bit of rest."
“I’ll admit nothing,” she said with a sniff.
Bare feet were once again tossed over the arm of the chair toward the fire as Pansy settled into the curve of Tristan’s body. She occasionally took a lover for a night, but only to sate the fire that sometimes became too much to make any further effort to contain. Pansy never stayed with any of them longer than was necessary, however, and it was only times like these that she allowed herself to enjoy the comforting warmth of another person’s body against hers.
Letting her head fall back against his arm, Pansy cast dark eyes up at him. “You might endeavor to get some rest too, you know. Take care of yourself and rot like that. You’ll want to be around for when you’re an uncle to Bletchley spawn.”
"Hush, you spewer of vile things, or I shall both tickle you and leave you to soothe yourself to sleep," Tristan threatened, though the idea of Regan's children was actually not unpleasant to him. He would prefer to see her married and settled before there were any, naturally, but having observed her with Tess and even the twin aberrations her friend Katie had borne, he was sure she would be a much better mother than she'd ever had example of until Gwen.
Idly, he stretched out a hand to brush aside the fall of Pansy's hair, twirling its glossy length through his fingers. "I do attempt to take care of myself; sleep has been quite stealthy of late, however."
“She’s a fickle bitch,” Pansy agreed. She never seemed to get more than a few hours at a time herself. She’d seen a healer about it in effort to discover if there was something physically wrong with her. Fortunately she was completely healthy. Unfortunately, that didn’t solve anything for her. The healer had suggested a therapist. She had told him where he could stuff his advice.
Pansy liked being pet though, and she let her lashes flutter shut as Tristan lightly twirled her hair. “Have you been using the balm I sent for your hands? You should be using it every day if you can manage else you’ll have stumps for hands someday, and you’ll not only lose your trade, but then you won’t be able to do what you’re doing now and I shall be bereft.”
"When I remember," he returned, truthful, "or when Regan does, or the Ravenclaw I've been harboring. I manage well enough despite the miserable weather, and my trade does not rely entirely on my ability to personally build new models." Most of it did, though, and while he knew her admonition to be valid, to an extent, he was too young to close shop in the winter simply to avoid pain.
He chuckled at her pointed insistence on self-serving, listing her own needs within her caution against his own future. "And I suppose it would be terrible to no longer have the means to fulfill this function; you're far more pleasant when someone's been about to cater to your whims," he teased. It was hardly a secret between them by now that he enjoyed the rare opportunities to calm and pacify her in such a manner; her eventual subdual anchored his own calm, and they each held few enough true friendships to guard this seldom peace.
“You must guard that secret well. I like being a harpy. I would miss throwing fits and being bad-tempered,” she mused lazily. “And besides, if I was pleasant all the time I’m sure someone would try to have me committed.”
Pansy hummed at the soft tug on her hair, content in that moment with her life, such as it was, though part of what he’d said before commenting on her disposition came back to her and her eyes opened again to look up at him. “You’ve adopted a Ravenclaw? Does it have all its shots and papers?”
Wryly, though he'd expected just that sort or comment on the matter, Tristan corrected, "I've adopted no one; she was in need of a place to stay, for a time, and has been residing at Whin Terrace. She keeps plants, actually... If I wasn't quite certain you'd terrorize her for sport, I'd have you visit during daylight and you could compare vicious flora. Perhaps she'd take you to visit Vlad."
It was in her to be contrary for the sake of it, but the response on the tip of her tongue quieted at the word ‘vicious’ and interest lit her features. “I can play nice,” she said instead.
"I believe that you have the ability, I merely question the liklihood of your using it in the presence of an easy mark. Lisa is staying with me because her late husband beat her nearly to death," Tristan explained soberly. "You would frighten her by breathing."
Again Pansy shut her mouth before she could respond with the quip on the tip of her tongue and instead a scowl took residence on her features. She’d never been beaten to that extent, but she’d been used and abused once upon a time. A time when she hadn’t the power or strength of person to do anything about it. Pansy had no tolerance for domestic violence, at least not the kind where one party was obviously powerless, either by character or design.
“I assume the man is dead or incarcerated?” she said, tipping her head back against his arm again to meet his gaze.
"I did say her late husband," Tristan answered evenly. He couldn't miss the disgust in Pansy's expression, and ceased his carding of her hair to smoothe the marks of agitation from her face with a fingertip. It was not unknown to him that there had been roughness in Pansy's life; not to the extent that Lisa had suffered, but distressing nonetheless. If he could not give her, or Lisa, vengeance against their abusers, he would grant what peace he could. That much came naturally, at least.
“Dead, then.” This pleased Pansy, just as it pleased her that her own father was dead, and others from her past as well.
She shooed Tristan’s hand away from her face and urged him back toward her hair. “I can play nice,” she said again. “As nice as my nature permits, anyway. I want to have a look at the plant that has earned the name Vlad. If it is anything like The Impaler, I think I should be quite enamored.”
Acceding to Pansy's batting, he returned to sifting his fingers through her hair, a smile appearing as her eyes flickered shut. "It's rather affectionate, at least toward her. I'll ask if she'd be willing to give you a tour of her greenhouse."
“Yes, please do.” Pansy was curious about the plant, but she was also curious about the woman Tristan was ‘harboring’ in his home. She was sure to have a good look at both, and with that thought in mind she let the matter go and shifted slightly to curl toward Tristan so she could lay her cheek on his arm. “Now, tell me more of Princess Elianora before the sun comes up.”
"As the lady wishes," Tristan agreed, briefly accepting the urge to squeeze Pansy for the pleasure of watching her expression crinkle. Enduring her annoyed swat, he settled her loosely once more, taking up the placating path over her silky locks. "Had she birthed her son yet, last we visited? I recall it being quite close..."
“She was contemplating names for her spawn.” It’d been a while since he’d last told her tales, but this was a story they’d been weaving for years now. “I pitched a vote for Bubba. For cruelty’s sake.”
"Mm, I remember now. I think she and the King were more inclined toward something traditional. Perhaps one of the peons could suggest it, though." Much as he preferred the simple facts and mathematics of his own work, creating the world of Pansy's stories was oddly fulfilling.
“And my ideas have now been relegated to the brains of simple peons. You’re a heartless bastard,” she said, though her words were muffled as she burrowed.
Tristan laughed, returning pointedly, "And yet you continue to put up with me."
SUMMARY: Tristan visits Pansy at Beaumaris.