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Chapter 3: Alone
The days passed by slowly, the minutes stretching into hours as the lack of communication with the outer world began to feel more and more like a death sentence. Pansy hadn’t been able to find Draco’s name in the Daily Prophet, only his father’s, and they hadn’t yet published a list of the captured Death Eaters. The articles focused on the glory of the Dark Lord’s fall and the adjustments that were being made to the laws that had governed the Wizarding world for centuries; there were rumours that the Ministry would be changing the laws about the inheritance of Wizengamot seats in the old pureblood families to ensure that all blood statuses would be represented in the highest power in the justice system. Pansy thought it was, to put it commonly, utter crap.
When the walls of her room threatened to drive her mad, she would wander the corridors and touch the portraits of her ancestors. They would never have allowed this to happen, she was sure. But though her feet took her through every part of her home, she avoided her mother’s wing. Sometimes, in the aching silence of the house, she could hear the faint sounds of weeping coming from her mother’s chambers. Each time, she would bury herself in the newspaper or her spell books or in whatever task she was indulging herself in—if she ignored her mother’s weakness, she could pretend it did not exist.
Sometimes, though, her mother made it achingly apparent that she was suffering. When the aurors had arrived at their manor, ignoring proper etiquette and entering before their house elves had had the chance to escort them in, her mother had followed them through their home like a servant, hovering anxiously as they ruthlessly riffled through their belongings.
Her fingers would flutter like butterflies as they carelessly handled priceless china and she would rush to fix their positions on the mantels or in the cabinets once they were replaced.
Pansy preferred to ignore the aurors, as if by refusing to acknowledge their existence they would leave their home and never return. She didn’t know what they were hoping to find; anything that could be strewed as incriminating was hidden away in places that could not be found without prior knowledge.
Once though, drifting through the manor on her way to the library, she witnessed her mother standing closer than necessary to the aurors as they prepared to leave, as though she wanted to stop them. Pansy stopped, her hand gently placed on the banister, and stared at her mother, wishing that she could control her with her eyes. Instead though, in the silence of their greeting hall, she heard her mother breath out and whisper, “Where’s my husband?”
The aurors didn’t pay her any attention, but Pansy saw, from her position above them, the way the dark-haired one had darted his eyes towards his partner. Her mother breathed again, stronger this time, and asked, “Where is he? Please, I want to know.”
Pansy wanted to close her eyes and crawl away in mortification at the brokenness, the weakness of her mother, but she couldn’t leave. Not when they might hear her and see her listening. Not when they might accuse her of spying, a black trait she must have learned at her father’s knee. Her mother had never been strong before but she had been strengthened by her father and hadn’t shamed their family.
“Can’t you tell me anything?” Her arm moved forward, her hand clawing at the air, as though she was going to make a drastic move for the auror’s arm. “Is he at the Ministry? Has he been captured?”
“Miss-” There was a heart-breaking pause before the dark-haired auror continued, “Mrs Parkinson, your husband is awaiting his trial before the Wizengamot. He has been accused of aiding You-Know-Who.”
He didn’t say anything more and her mother’s arm fell back to her side. Before anything more could be said, before her mother could pester the aurors any further, they were gone, the manor’s heavy door closely softly in their wake.
His words weren’t much and he hadn’t said anything that they hadn’t already thought about but he had confirmed those beliefs. There was now no hope that her father had managed to escape the Death Eater round-up, nothing to allow Pansy to believe that the Parkinson name wasn’t irrevocably intertwined with that of Death Eater.
Pansy turned to head back to her room—she didn’t feel like reading anymore.
It was one of those days where everything felt awfully boring. The thought of writing Draco letters didn’t appeal to her and even if she had written the letter she would not have received a reply for she was still not allowed to communicate with the outside world.
She didn’t want to read the newspaper or listen to the radio for she didn’t want the reminders that her life was stagnant, that the outside world was moving on without her.
After she had dragged breakfast on for an hour longer than usual Pansy had decided to be useful. Her Hogwarts trunk was still unpacked and sitting in a corner of her room where the house elves had left it, after the Ministry had allowed it to be sent to her. She had ignored it when it had first arrived for it held nothing of value to her and, as she was aware of the entirety of its contents, invoked no sense of curiosity.
Today, however, she saw that the Ministry had found her belongings interesting enough that they had riffled through it, inspecting each object for hints of dark magic, before they had returned it to her. Her books were more neatly stacked than she had left them, her clothes more neatly folded. She found that she didn’t mind, though, for they hadn’t removed anything from her possession.
What would she have been able to do even if she had found their arrogance offensive? Her words held no weight in society, not anymore.
She took her clothing out of her trunk and spread the collection on the bed. They had occupied the majority of the trunk’s space and without them in it the trunk seemed rather empty. Pansy sighed as she fingered the hem of her “relaxation robe”—its fabric was soft and comfortable yet it was stylish enough that she could wear it in company without being ashamed of her appearance. A year’s worth of outfits, a year’s worth of memories.
They were still in good enough condition that Pansy couldn’t allow herself to throw them away. She didn’t even know if she would be able to replace them, so keeping them would be the wiser path. Sighing, Pansy began the long process of finding each robe its own spot in her wardrobe. Clothing always lasted longer if you treated them with respect.
Her wardrobe much fuller than it had been that morning, Pansy once again returned to her trunk. She ignored the broken quill stubs and scraps of parchment that littered the floor and concentrated her attention on the thick textbooks. There was probably an empty shelf in the library where she could put them, near where she had stored the textbooks of the previous years. If not, room could be made.
The corridors were deathly silent as Pansy walked through them, levitating the books carefully behind her. It was a boring task, coupled with the long walk to the library, but at least it gave her something to do. The house elves could have accomplished it easily and in a fraction of the time she needed but it would have defeated the purpose.
It gave her a reason to use magic, something that she hadn’t needed to use when everything was done for her by the house elves, and feel good about it. The spells she read in the books she took from the library were complex and beyond her ability to achieve without the aid of a skilled teacher, a fact that Pansy found irritating. She had hundreds of spells at her fingertips but she was unable to practice them. She couldn’t even ask her mother for help because she hadn’t been very skilled at the practical portion of magic either. Pansy was determined to do something though, and she didn’t give up easily. There wasn’t much else that she could spend her time on anyways.
The Latin tutors her father had paid for during her childhood helped with her pronunciation as she stumbled over the ancient words and she obstinately practiced the wand movements in an empty room close to her chambers. The scorched walls and torn curtains were a testament to her stubbornness and it was rare that she performed a spell adequately. Once she had, though, she repeated the spell over and over until she thought she’d become permanently dizzy.
All those hours of practice wouldn’t be wasted when she sat her N.E.W.T.s!
The realization that she hadn’t sat her N.E.W.T.s came to her quite suddenly as she neared the library, and she nearly spilled her books before recovering.
She had been only a month away from writing them when the war had come to Hogwarts and she had had to leave. The Ministry hadn’t offered her the opportunity to write them since her house arrest had begun and she didn’t think that they would.
It didn’t matter at the moment, but it might in the future. While N.E.W.T. marks wouldn’t do anything for her while she was trapped in this house, she wouldn’t be able to do much without them outside of it. She didn’t think that Draco would mind, though, and it eased her mind.
She gently opened the door to the library and walked inside. The library was an enormous room, filled with shelves upon shelves of books that her ancestors had collected over the years. Though their collection wasn’t as grand as that of the Malfoys’ or Bones’ it was still a source of pride for their family. Many layers of wards had been placed over this room, protecting it from fire, thievery and water damage. The house elves cared for the books, polishing them and protecting them from the changing levels of moisture in the air.
They were determined that the books would stand the test of time.
Pansy wandered through the rows of shelves, heading towards the corner of the library the furthest from the door. It was darker there, for the light that streamed in from the large windows adorning the walls didn’t quite reach the area, but the books stored there weren’t as valuable.
As she neared the isolated shelves Pansy could see the worn edges of the books that lined them. She visited this area rarely, only once a year for the past six years, for this was where her family stored their old school textbooks. Though their curriculum was outdated, the books showed the changing beliefs and advancements of the Wizarding world over time. The oldest books covered Darker material and were well-thumbed while the newer books for Charms and Potions were thinner, as the theories and methods behind the subjects grew refined.
Her own textbooks were housed on the lowest shelves and she directed the books to shelve themselves. As she watched their slow march onto the wooden ledges, her old Potions textbook caught her eye.
That had been one of the last classes she had taken with Draco, for that had been the year he had pushed himself harder while she had fallen behind. She had barely qualified to take the course and she didn’t enjoy Potions but, because it was one of the few courses she could take with Draco as a classmate, she had chosen to sit in the cold, dry dungeons for hours listening to theories that she didn’t understand.
One potion, though, had caught her attention from the very first day of class. Though it wasn’t taught in the course and Pansy was sure that Professor Slughorn had only mentioned it to impress them, Amortentia had fascinated her. It was one of the few potions restricted by the Ministry that didn’t have an obvious Dark aspect like Drink of Despair and Moonseed Poison.
No, its effects were subtler and much more twisted. It could make a person forget about everything else and force them to submit to a single person, all in the name of love.
She could still remember the moment she had stepped into the classroom that no longer belonged to Professor Snape. It was the first time that the smells emanating from the classroom had been pleasant and she had eagerly walked to the front of the classroom. Draco’s unique scent had been strongest there, though there had also been hints of the Weird Sister’s signature Love is in the Air perfume and freshly washed sheets. She had listened half-heartedly to the descriptions of the contents of the other cauldrons in the room and had been bored by Granger’s explanation of the lovely potion, content to sniff the room.
Granger’s own smells had been uninteresting; freshly mown grass and new parchment were so plebeian. Fortunately she had stopped before boring them to death with her third love.
Interest caught and books shelved, Pansy walked back up the aisles towards one of the more accessible and well-used sections of the library. Located near a tall window that caught the afternoon sun beautifully, the Potions section was full with shelves and shelves full to the brim with texts detailing the proper usage of moonshine, how to ensnare your enemy and thousands of methods to cause the painful death of rivals without ever needing to come within three meters of them.
She hadn’t spent much time in this section, having preferred the lighter texts about useful and simple charms and the interesting novels about ill-fated romances that her female ancestors had collected, and called a house elf for aid.
“I want a book about love potions, specifically Amortentia. Find it for me.” The house elf nodded and used some of its kind’s magic to summon it to its hands. The book that it had called was slimmer than the majority that Pansy could see shelved and she breathed a sigh of relief. Perhaps the instructions to make Amortentia would be easier than she had thought.
They weren’t. There were multiple steps and detailed that had to be followed down to the second to ensure that the potion wouldn’t become sludge in the cauldron. Pansy closed the book and, being sure to remember where she put it for future reference, re-shelved it.
She left the library and wandered through the corridors, occasionally stopping to converse with the portraits, before she decided to reread some of the older copies of Witch Weekly. They were easier to read than those old, thick textbooks and certainly much more interesting. With any luck, they would occupy the rest of her afternoon.
After all, there were only a few more hours before dinner and afterwards she could take a long bath.
There was some skill involved in living by yourself—you got used to entertaining yourself.