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Chapter 9: Gringotts
The first thing Pansy noticed when she stepped through the large doors of Gringotts was the gentle heat of the giant hall. She relished it gratefully and paused for a moment to unwrap her scarf from around her neck and tuck her gloves back into the small bag she had brought along.
Once she had stripped herself of enough of her layers that she wouldn’t melt in the warmth of Gringotts she strode over to the nearest goblin teller and waited impatiently for it to notice her.
The goblin paused in the scritch scritch of its quill across parchment and slowly dropped the tip of the quill into the ink well that stood at the edge of its desk. It then sat forwards, its chest leaning dangerously close to the wet parchment, and watched her closely.
“Yes?” Its tone was gravelly but Pansy had expected it from previous visits with her father.
“I have an appointment with goblin Tebak.” Her voice was strong, but her eyes watched anxiously as the goblin sat back and opened a large binder.
“Pansy Parkinson.” She became stronger, more self-assured, as she spoke her name, for it reminded her once again of why she had come. She was a Parkinson and worth more than all of these beasts together. Her hand didn’t shake as she handed her small identification card to the goblin, careful to avoid its touch.
Its beady black eyes slowly scanned the pages, lifting up scrolls to seek further clarification (or, perhaps more likely in Pansy’s opinion, to slow the process and annoy her) and Pansy watched as its curved fingernail tapped a hole in the wooden desk. It held her identification up to the light, as though it was fake and someone would dare to impersonate her.
She didn’t know anyone who would pretend to be her.
“Ah yes.” The goblin leant even further back in its chair and one of the goblins who had been standing against the wall several meters behind the desk came forward. Her teller whispered something to it in its language that sounds like rocks being crunched against each other, its eyes flickering briefly to her. The goblin nodded and disappeared through the seemingly solid wall.
It seemed that they hadn’t needed her wand after all—Pansy was glad. Her wand was hers, a symbol of her status in the world. Without it she would lose her power, would become, for all purposes, a muggle. She didn’t let anyone touch it if she could help it.
“Please wait.” Pansy wanted to say that she didn’t feel like waiting but was wise enough to simply nod. She stepped back so that she wasn’t quite as close to the goblin and let her eyes wander around the hall. Behind her she could hear the steady scritch scritch of the quill as the goblin resumed its work once again.
There were no signs of damage, no long cracks that climbed the marble walls like vines. The sheets of glass that lined the ceiling, lending a golden light to the floor far below, were whole, without blemishes. There was nothing to suggest that the arrogant Potter along with his tagalongs Weasley and Granger had burst out on the back of a dragon, paying no heed to the rules that had governed the bank for centuries.
It was just like a Gryffindor to believe he was above everyone else.
The wooden desks flowed seamlessly from one end of the hall to the other and Pansy felt a tingling of admiration for all that they had accomplished without magic. The talent of the craftsmanship coupled with its sheer size made the seemingly ordinary and necessary objects valuable. It was too bad that the goblins didn’t them as such—Pansy winced as she heard the goblin’s nail collide with and splinter the wood.
Gringotts was quite busy for a mid-afternoon in winter. At almost every desk there were people asking questions and making transactions, interacting without hesitation with the goblins. Her eyes paused on a woman slightly older than herself who was struggling to control an excitable toddler and widened when the woman thanked the goblin for its time.
Thanked—as though the goblin had been doing her favour instead of doing its job.
There was a pause in the quill’s movement across the parchment and Pansy turned around sharply as she heard the goblin announcing that Tebak would see her now.
I would hope so, Pansy thought as she followed the goblin she had previously seen disappear through the stone (though luckily Pansy wasn’t expected to also know this trick—they walked through a narrow door and into the cramped passage beyond), It would have been quite rude if it had cancelled our plans at such a late time.
The dimness of the corridor put her at a distinct disadvantage as Pansy watched the goblin nimbly navigate it. Its smaller stature and better night vision were probably the cause Pansy reassured herself as she tripped over a crack in the stone floor. The darkness was where the goblins lived, nasty creatures that they were, and as such it was one of the few advantages they had over humans.
The goblin paused suddenly and Pansy almost stumbled over it. Biting her tongue to keep herself from cursing out loud (though nothing could stop her from doing so mentally—she was sure her father wouldn’t have put up with this), she watched as the tip of the goblin’s nail slipped into the stone.
A crack of light appeared abruptly, temporarily blinding Pansy whose eyes had become accustomed to the darkness, as a section of the stone wall slide away, revealing the office that she remembered from her childhood.
It wasn’t large (owning large amounts of space was a human thing, her father had told her when she had asked him, that first time she had come here), and it wasn’t much brighter than the corridor. Luckily there were several torches lining the walls, providing warmth and a light that the goblins could tolerate and that gave humans enough visibility to not be at a disadvantage.
A happy medium, some might say.
Pansy was not one of those people. She hated it when things weren’t set to her satisfaction, when things weren’t made to her standards. The lumpy chair (she knew that the goblins had done that on purpose, to put their customers at a disadvantage once again—it was difficult to have the necessary concentration when your back and legs were aching), the dim lighting, the slight smirk on Tebak’s face—those things were not to her satisfaction.
But she could do something about it, without coming across as rude, she remembered, and slipped her wand from its case.
Making her voice as light as possible, she said, “Hello Tebak. I hope that you are feeling well-” not really, but social pleasantries were necessary, no matter how distasteful “- and I thank you for making time for me in your busy schedule at such short notice.” She noticed with delight that Tebak’s attention was focused on the movement of her wand as she held it loosely at her side.
“No thanks are necessary, Madam Parkinson. It is always a pleasure to meet with the Parkinsons.” Tebak was smirking, obviously well aware of the Parkinson’s current social status. He was the one holding the power in this room—Pansy had nothing with which to negotiate except memories of power and hopes for the future.
If Tebak didn’t treat her with respect now then Pansy would be sure to remember that in the future when she was the one in charge.
“Would it be possible for me to transfigure the chair? I’m afraid that I’m very particular about where I place myself.” She waited a moment, watching as Tebak deliberated. In the past the agreement would have been instant.
But in the past her father would have been here and everything would have been okay. In the past she would still have been able to depend on Draco’s presence in her life. In the past Tebak wouldn’t have had quite so many wrinkles lining his face nor quite so many hairs drooping from his ears, making it difficult to look at him for long periods of time.
This, most unfortunately, was not the past.
“I don’t see why not,” Tebak finally said, and Pansy took her time transfiguring an elegant and comfortable chair before settling herself in (and no, she didn’t find it difficult to transfigure). She could see the muffled envy in Tebak’s eyes at her casual handling of her wand—her father had told her that Tebak, as did most goblins, longed to own one. The Ministry, quite rightly, still refused them the right.
They stared at each other for a moment before Tebak broke the eye contact to reach for something underneath his desk. Pansy felt a small tingle of delight as he did so—he had broken first.
Tebak reappeared quickly, dragging a large folder after him. It landed with a small noise on his desk and Pansy’s nose wrinkled as small particles of dust swirled around the room. There was no dust in her manor—another category in which humans were superior to goblins.
They were cleaner.
“Where would you like to start?” Tebak asked and Pansy paused, turning the question over in her mind. Was this some sort of trick question, a test to see if she was fit to handle finances? She only wanted to see how much money they had left, if any (Merlin, that was a horrible thought—no money!). But then she remembered her father telling her that there were many categories of money, just as there were many sections in a clothing store.
“I want to see my expenses,” she said, and Tebak nodded. The large folder was opened and thick stack of papers extracted. Tebak placed it in front of her and pointed at the first column with a gnarled fingernail.
“As you can see here, your house elves have been spending…”
And Pansy was swept away in a giant wave of taxes, stocks and other monetary issues. Tebak was relentless with his speed and Pansy struggled to keep up. She didn’t want to show any weakness, wanted to live up to her father’s name, but her mind found the math boggling. Yes, her father had taught her about balancing the flow of money but she couldn’t remember any talk of the risks involved with finances.
Each new cost frustrated Pansy as she watched the money in their account dwindle. She wanted to say ‘no’, that it couldn’t be possible, that salmon freshly caught from the sea couldn’t possibly cost that much, but the columns ignored her.
In black and white they laid out the terms, showing Pansy that if she wanted to save her family’s fortune she needed to find some manner of gaining money. Pansy had expected that their bank account would have grown smaller in the years since her father’s arrest but she hadn’t thought it would have shrunk to such an extent.
She would have to speak with her mother about her spending habits. No longer could her mother buy the most expensive wool in the store… She, unfortunately, would have to learn how to limit herself.
In less than three hours she had learned the information she needed to shape her future plans.
She left Tebak’s company shortly before five, after allowing him to accompany her through the corridors back to the main hall.
Pansy stepped outside of Gringotts and shivered as she felt a frigid breeze touch her cheeks. She tugged her cloak even tighter around herself and walked down the stairs to rejoin Diagon Alley. Before she had left the protection of Gringotts she had reapplied the charms that would keep her warm and the slush off her cloak but she still longed to return home and plan.
They had no manner of income, but they would continue to spend money. Even if they cut themselves off from everything except the bare necessities they would still eventually run out.
The answer was clear, though Pansy found it distasteful.
Her mother could not work—manual labour had long since been bred out of her. Herself, on the other hand… She was able to work and she could not see a future for herself where she would not have to. There weren’t any pureblood men lining up at the gate of Parkinson manor to speak to her or applying to visit Azkaban so that they could speak to her father.
In order for the Parkinson fortune to increase, Pansy would need to get a job. Work. Work alongside the mudbloods, the half-bloods and the purebloods alike, without complaint.
She knew it wouldn’t be pleasant but she also knew that she had to do it to rescue her family’s reputation from the low place it had fallen to.
First, though, she would need to complete her N.E.W.T.s.
A/N: Sorry this chapter is shorter than usual but the next scene is quite long and I couldn't find an appropriate spot to break it. I hope that you enjoyed Pansy's trip to Gringotts!