"Potter." A low voice called out, as Harry plummeted down the steps, with his usual lack of grace.
Harry paused. "Yeah?" he responded, in a low voice softer than a whisper.
"A moment of your time." the dusky voice asked.
"Okay," Harry advanced, feeling the limber in his joints. He was ready if this was a trap, of the foolishly romantic version - or otherwise.
"This way." the female voice continued - and Harry heard the footsteps walking away from the stairwell. Whomever it was, had been hiding in the "virtual dark" - the stairwell was so bright as to make the entire hallway coated in thick shadow.
Harry caught sight of the intricate updo that Pansy Parkinson always wore, and could let out a sigh of relief. He sleeved his wand (still keeping it in his hand), but felt a lot better about following Pansy than just anyone. At least a Pansy that wasn't looking super-seductive. That Pansy was scary, both because he wasn't sure how to behave, and the persistent nag that he was muffing it anyway.
Pansy led him to an abandoned classroom. Beneath her well-trimmed robe, she wore what looked suspiciously like a Muggle business suit.
"Sit down," she commanded, her commanding tone somehow managing to be deferential at once. He was clearly an honored guest - what the hell was going on?
"For the past five years, I have worked to corner the market on smuggling within House Slytherin. It has been a varied and profitable venture." Pansy said.
Harry nodded along.
"I don't know if it's laziness or lack of interest, but I have noticed that the other houses, which were previously well served by the Weasley Twins, do not at present have a reputable smuggler."
Harry carefully kept his face blank. There was just something about the idea of a reputable smuggler that made him laugh inside.
"And that, presents a business opportunity for me." Pansy continued, her eyes gleaming with excitement.
Pansy gestured with her wand, wordlessly unveiling an easel covered with broadsheets. There were graphs. She was clearly prepared, and knew how much she was going to need to spend to see her consolidation strategy succeed.
"But to do any of this, I need Gryffindor."
Harry nodded, understanding but not understanding.
"You're going to help me broker a deal for the first Quidditch Match of the season."
Harry tilted his head, "Gryffindor versus Slytherin?"
Pansy smirked, "That's the one."
Harry, intellectually, had very little to gain from this. On the other hand, he had little to lose, as well. Pansy would be the one taking the hit if her network was compromised. And... Harry had the sudden thought that this was practice too. "I suppose I could think about this. Good practice if nothing else. I'll let you know if I come up with anything."
Harry could see Pansy biting back some words, but, in the end, he'd said all that needed to be said.
[a/n: Pansy finds flustering Harry Potter funny. So do I. I hope you do as well!]