Oh, Imperius, Imperius, Imperius. I still miss the living hell out of you. Even the characters that irritated me. Everything. Man. Why couldn't ImperiusLives have stayed going? Why do I suck so much?
Anyways. Not that marvolo cares anymore, and she's probably embarrassed that I'm even bringing this up, but --
you can fall for chains of silver, you can fall for chains of gold
The Parkinsons had an apple-picking party every year: they had one of the finest magical apple orchards in England. There were apples that were striped like the rainbow; there were apples that could make you grow these enormous, feathery white wings for the better part of the day. There were apples that looked like apples but tasted like other fruits; there was a tree that grew apples that contained, inside, this clear, faintly pink-colored liquid that tasted, bizarrely enough, like your favorite memory.
In order to let the children have a part of the apple-gathering, the Parkinsons would situate the apple-picking at the end of the summer before the start of the Hogwarts term. They would gather all their guests at a particular spot among the apple trees, and all the adults would have their drinks and food in hand, and the children would be fidgeting with impatience while Mr. Parkinson went to the grand old tree at the center of the orchard that was the locus of all the magic. He'd lay his hand on the bark and close his eyes, and then, before the eyes of the assembled, the little unripe apples would swell and change color. The leaves of the trees would turn colors and start to drift down from the trees, and when Mr. Parkinson opened his eyes and took his hand off of the tree -- well, that was your sign that the party had started. You were officially allowed to start picking them.
The loveliest apples were, in Pansy's sophisticated seven year old opinion, were not the ones that could make you grow wings. Or the ones that could make you sing like a bird for a day or two. Or even the ones that, if cupped inside your hands for fifteen minutes, turned into a pure white dove that flew out of your hands when you opened to look and see what that soft, warm thing between your hands was.
No, her favorite apples were these lovely silver ones that only grew on the tree at the very farthest end of the orchard. They had silver skins, and as long as you could bear not to take a bite out of them, they had the most delicious scent you could imagine. They shimmered and sort of glowed on their own. When you finally gave into the delicious smell and bit into them, even if you'd managed to hold out for the better part of a year and a normal apple would have rotted into sludge, you would find yourself biting into the crispest, sweetest, most delicious apple imaginable.
Pansy, this one particular year, had her heart set on having one of Uncle Agilius's apples of her very own. He'd been the one who came up with the breed, and he never could come up with a version that bore very many apples. In previous years, Pansy had only gotten a slice or two of a silver apple. She wanted one of her own, and to that end, during a lull in the festivities, she hauled Atwood away from his stupid friends and bribed him into going with her to get one: she appealed to his stomach. If he would get it for him, she promised that the next time he came to visit, the house-elves would make him as much gingerbread as he could eat or carry back to Auntie's house.
Now, the two of them were at the tree. Attie was making his way up the branches, looking down every now and then to mutter about the things that Pansy got him into. She stood at the foot of the tree, hands around a little golden ring on a golden chain -- as they were walking to the tree, he'd eaten the messy napkinful of petit-fours that she'd brought as a down payment on the bribe, and when he started up the tree, Pansy let out a squall and demanded to go up with him to make sure that he wouldn't eat it on the way down because she knew what a giant bottomless pit for food Attie was, and the only way to shut her up had been to give her something shiny and vaguely magic-apple-like to play with while he was up there.
So he gave her the little chain that he wore around his neck. Small golden ring on the end. Took it off of him and put it around her neck with his own hands, and now he was climbing the tree. The bark was strangely slick under the hands. The branches weren't exactly sturdy, and then, Attie got one of the biggest frights of his ten year old life when he heard a delighted squeal about four feet from his ear, looked over, and saw Pansy drifting a good fifteen feet off the ground, shrieking with delight and giggling as she was pulled around in the air behind his ring, which was bobbing and flitting around the apple tree's foliage, moving like the world's shiniest bumblebee in search of him.
Attie choked and made a terrified noise; the ring heard it and broke free of the chain to dart over to him and cuddle close to him; Pansy tumbled a few feet and caught her ankle in the fork of a branch before the protective charms woven into her clothing kicked in and kept her floating there, trying to figure whether she was working up the breath to start crying or to laugh in delight at being upside down.
It turned out that she had a twisted ankle and couldn't walk, so Attie had to pick her up and carry her the whole way back. Him, sweating and muttering under his breath. Her, sniffling back tears and trying to be tragic but distracted by the shining apple on her chest, the fact that Attie was carrying her, and well, what about this charmed ring of his that'd carried her all the way up? He'd let her keep on playing with it on the way back to everybody else, and what were all those names on the inside? Why did Attie wear it all the time? It looked like a woman's ring, really, and why did he look at her every now and then, as they went back, with that funny expression on his face? He'd done it for the gingerbread, hadn't he?
The ring had been a little bit hot. At first, it'd kept jerking and trying to get back into Attie's pocket, but after Attie gave the ring a look or two, it settled down and turned warm. Sort of comfortable. Attie might have said a few words about how the ring had been a family heirloom for generations and it had a habit of following its true owner around, and since his mother had left, it sort of saw him as the owner, but even before that, she'd tried to put it around his neck so that she wouldn't be bothered with it, andso on and so forth because he was trying to distract her and keep her from crying over the pain in her ankle, and Pansy started to drift off to sleep, lulled by the warmth and the smell of the apple and Attie's voice and maybe the magic of the ring.
Mrs. Parkinson was speechless with rage when she heard about how Pansy had twisted her ankle, though. Attie's Auntie wasn't much pleased either, so he wasn't allowed to come over for weeks. Pansy saved the apple to share with him, and well, there was a rumor that the silver apples would give you your fondest wish if you bit into them. They were somewhat birthday cake but with actual magical force behind them, but it couldn't have been true.
After all, when the war was over, Pansy and Attie formally celebrated the fact of their marriage at a party out under those very same apple trees, and Pansy set the apple from all those years ago on his plate. Adrian was trying to convince C to stop ripping off chunks of the ice swan to cool his drink because every time he did, the poor thing shrieked and tried to fly away; Flint had his little brother and a number of his Italian cousins with him, and they were arguing about Quidditch and politics. Someone had scandalized the house elves by bring six bottles of Muggle soda as his contribution to the wedding drinks, and it was everything that two people in the war could have possibly ever dreamed of, and there the apple was, sitting on Attie's plate in the middle of all the festivities -- still silver, still whole despite the years and the war and the deaths, and still shining with the memory of love that had still almost two decades before and was still fresh.
The ring from all those years ago was there, too, by the way. Instead of being inside Pansy's fist, though, it was on her finger, and it no longer made any pretense at trying to follow him around. Much like Attie's heart had after that day in the orchard, it now saw her as its true owner.
Note: Magical crazy metallic objects idea stolen, just like about 95% of everything I write, from Katharine Kerr and her idea, at the beginning of the Westlands books, about certain daggers being charmed to drift home to certain people. RHODRY!!!!!!
The Parkinson apple orchard and apple party was actually marvolo's idea from back in the day.