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Wilted Flower by Roots in Water
Chapter 1 : War
 
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“But he’s there! Potter’s there! Someone grab him!” *

The moment she said it, the moment those words left her mouth, she knew that she had miscalculated. She had thought that the Ravenclaws more intelligent than they were. She had imagined the Hufflepuffs to be weaker, more cowardly than their actions proved them to be.

Didn’t they know that they were going to lose? Weren’t they aware that the Dark Lord had amassed huge armies, that all manner of creatures waited outside those doors to kill those so foolish as to stand in their way? Harry Potter was nothing, merely scrawny boy that had gotten lucky in the past. He was nothing more than an obstacle in the Dark Lord’s path. So why were they wasting their time, their lives defending him?

When one by two by three they turned against her, creating a barrier behind which Harry stood, she felt annoyed. She knew that she wasn’t skilled enough to match everyone, to take down Harry herself. She had been counting on the crowd mentality to push Harry outside, where the Dark Lord was waiting. There she would have accepted his reward as the person who had succeeded in bringing him Harry Potter.

But that plan was gone now, flushed further down the toilet than Moaning Myrtle could follow.

When McGonagall had ordered Professor Slughorn to take her and the rest of her House out and away from the battle she was only mildly annoyed. Away from the battle, though safer, less life-risking, also meant away from Draco, whom Pansy was sure would come to fight alongside the Dark Lord. She hadn’t seen him in such a long time, not since he hadn’t returned at the beginning of the school year.

He had owled her shortly before she had returned to Hogwarts, stating that he would be busy performing the Dark Lord’s tasks. The Dark Lord, from what Pansy had been able to gather from vague hints in his letters and careless conversations she had eavesdropped on in the common room, had been living in the Malfoy manor. Her Draco had been in a prime position to insinuate himself firmly into the ranks of the Dark Lord.

She knew that he would have made the most of it.

So, while she wasn’t pleased at missing out on an opportunity to be reunited with Draco, she didn’t struggle or behave in an undignified manner as she was escorted out of the Great Hall. She wasn’t worried at the outcome of the battle—she knew that soon the Dark Lord’s reign would be without obstacles and the Wizarding world would finally be able to start the process of eradicating the muggles of the planet.

When Professor Slughorn didn’t allow them to visit the Slytherin dorms to gather their belongings she wasn’t pleased but she knew that she wouldn’t be separated from her possessions for long. What was a paltry, ragtag group of untrained students and teachers against the large force that was the Death Eaters?

She would be basking in the glory of the Dark Lord’s reign before bed.

*

The moonlight was soft on her face as she and her Housemates walked down the path to Hogsmeade. The air was quiet and still and aside from the murmurings of the younger students, quickly hushed by the older students, there was no noise. Pansy felt as though the land was preparing for something, something big and life-changing, world-changing, and knew that she was walking away from the place where it would all happen.

She peered into the shadows, tried in vain to find and look between the trees of the Forbidden Forest, but she couldn’t find her father. She could see no bodies moving, hear no animals grunting. She was aware that those still within the castle’s walls would be shivering with fear and anticipation if they were in her place, but she felt safe. She felt secure in her knowledge that the Dark Lord’s army wouldn’t move to attack them because what would he stand to gain from endangering the lives of his followers’ children? The very same people who supported his ideals and would one day support him openly?

The pathway soon widened into a metal gate that Professor Slughorn cast easily open, leading them through to Hogsmeade. She could feel the ease of the ancient wards as she left their protection and moved closer to her Head of House as he gathered them near the wall of a house. From behind the small protection of the stones she could see down the street to the turn-off for Madam Puddifoot’s, where she had spent several romantic Valentine’s Days with Draco.

Professor Slughorn looked weary, looked as though he was making the most important decision of his life. Pansy saw the glances he cast at the castle they had left behind, had seen him march quickly away from it, as if something he had been running from was just now catching up with him. She watched him now, as he took in a deep breath and looked out at the crowd of silver and green that had gathered before him.

“You must all leave and return to your homes.” His voice was the only noise in the area. Though Pansy strained her ears, she could hear nothing but the sound of his voice. No cries. No shouts of horror, bloodlust, anger. The battle had not yet begun.

“Further down the street Madame Rosmerta is waiting at the Three Broomsticks. For those of you not yet able to apparate, her floo is open. For those who can, you are allowed to apparate away. We are beyond the wards of Hogwarts now.” So he had decided to leave them, then. He had decided to return to Hogwarts, to fight in the battle. Pansy was surprised. She had thought that he would take this opportunity to run, to save his skin and live another day.

For those without strong loyalties to tie them to a side, this battle was dangerous. They might hesitate, flounder in doubt at a crucial, and end up dead. They were only dangers to themselves when everyone around them was merciless.

Pansy watched as his eyes searched through the crowd, passing over the younger students, and locked on hers. They held a pleading quality, as though whatever she acquiesced to do would be a great favour to him. She wouldn’t look away, for no self-respecting witch would break eye contact during a negotiation, but a small part of her wished that she could. She didn’t know what he wanted of her and she wouldn’t know until he announced it before everyone—by then it would be too late to refuse.

She watched with trepidation as he came to a decision, bobbing his head as the unusually cool May breeze swirled through Hogsmeade.

“Miss Parkinson will guide you to the Three Broomsticks and wait there until all of you have gone.” Pansy noted that he hadn’t specified where they had to disappear to—he knew that he wasn’t able to force them to go home, not when such an integral part of their lives was at risk.

The chilly wind whipped through the group and Pansy felt strands of her hair move, dancing over her cheek bones and into her eyes. Annoyed at that her hair was mussed, she flicked her wand to restore it to its former pristine condition. Tucking her wand back into her sleeve she watched Professor Slughorn chance a glance back up the path they had walked. Bright lights were beginning the colour the night sky and he fidgeted.

“You are dismissed.”

Pansy immediately took charge as the group turned as one to her for guidance, not caring to see where their Head of House disappeared to. Professor Slughorn hadn’t asked of her anything more than she was already willing to give—Pansy was charged with the protection of Britain’s pureblood youth, a job she would carry out well. She didn’t want to imagine the Dark Lord’s reaction if one of their precious youth was lost or hurt under her care and angled them towards Madame Rosmerta’s and the waiting floo.

The village felt abandoned, though the sensation of being watched spoke to the contrary. She could feel the weight of the fearful gazes of the villagers, hidden behind locked doors, and hear the crackling of the wards as their power was increased. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed Daphne Greengrass guiding a younger Slytherin with a similar facial structure. That would be Astoria, she thought, remembering a comment Daphne had dropped years ago about her sister coming to Hogwarts. She didn’t know why Daphne hadn’t already apparated them home but she wasn’t about to ask.

There were many other purebloods for her to watch over—she could spare the one.

Waving the door to the Three Broomsticks open, Pansy fell behind and allowed the crowd of green and silver to enter the bar before her. She didn’t mind—the evening wasn’t too chilly as she was still wearing the thicker Hogwarts robes and her position outside the door ensured that there would be no forgotten stragglers. The smell of warm Butterbeer wafted through the door and Pansy was struck with memories of previous visits to Hogsmeade. Though the Three Broomsticks wasn’t the cleanest or classiest store in Hogsmeade, it did have the reputation of the best Butterbeer in Wizarding England. Her friends had been very happy to gorge themselves on the traditional Wizarding drink after walking through blistering wind and cold drifts of snow.

Now, however, this store was providing them with the path to sanctuary.

Though her robes had protected her from the wind, she was still relieved to walk through the door as the Three Broomsticks’ sturdy walls prevented her from seeing the deadly spells that were being cast further up the hill. They did not, however, protect her from the curdling, pained cries and the shouts of hate and so she was impatient for the store to empty. She could only hope that Draco wasn’t suffering, that Draco hadn’t died. He was barely out of his boyhood; he had his whole life to live with her! She barely acknowledged Madame Rosmerta, focusing her attention on the swirling fires that flamed green every time a student left for their home.

When it was finally her turn to exit, she nodded stiffly at Madame Rosmerta, who had stood patiently by the fireplace the entire time they had been in her store, holding a small bowl of floo powder, and ducked into the fire.

A muttered “Parkinson Manor” and Pansy was being whisked away, past entrances to other Wizarding dwellings and through Wizarding space, to the place that she called home.

*

The room flared a brilliant green as the house welcomed back its heiress, the colour mixing with the natural colours of the walls to create a medieval look. When Pansy finally stepped through and onto the customary mat placed before the fireplace for floo-ers in Wizarding homes the room was dark. There wasn’t any windows for the moon and stars to shine through as the room was located in the center of the grand house and was used for little else than flooing. A little settee sat across from the fireplace, allowing the owners of the house to wait in comfort for their guests. No one sat there now, however.

There was a small frown on Pansy’s face as she surveyed the room and snapped sharply. Almost immediately a house elf appeared in the room, its crack echoing across the unadorned walls. A small, spindly hand curled its fingers around the robes Pansy was holding over her arm and disappeared. Moments later it returned, holding a lighter robe high enough off the ground that its hem didn’t threaten to drag on the stone. Pansy almost sighed in relief as the soft fabric settled on her shoulders—her Hogwarts robes, while helpful when on a walk, were too hot and heavy for her house.

“Can Milly be helping Mistress Parkinson with anything else?” The house elf’s hands were playing with the hem of its pillowcase and its eyes were wide and earnest. Pansy watched Milly’s hands intently until the house elf let them fall back to its side.

“I am going to my room to rest. You will tell me immediately once you have received news of the outcome of the war. Don’t be afraid to wake me, Milly—this is really important.” The house elf bobbed its head and Pansy left, not waiting to hear its crack. It would do as she asked.

The route to her room seemed longer than usual, though Pansy was aware that it was only her fatigue and worries about Draco that made the walk seem so long. Usually she didn’t mind walking through the grand corridors of her home because they displayed the majesty of her heritage. On the walls hung hundreds of family portraits and at a glance Pansy was able to identify their names and their historical significance. It was a skill that had long since been drilled into her—knowing your family history was a must for every young pureblood.

Other than the portraits, the corridors of the Manor weren’t lavishly decorated. Instead her ancestors had allowed their money to increase in Gringotts, preferring the ability to purchase little things that they found valuable and interesting whenever they wanted to purchasing what society had deemed worthy and important at the time. Pansy agreed with this sentiment—her own choice in clothing was much more comfortable and classy than the fake satin that was all the rage at the moment.

She didn’t encounter her mother walking through the corridors but she hadn’t really expected to—her mother never stayed up late, preferring to retire early in the evening to her chambers.

Soon Pansy herself was following her mother’s example, ignoring the worries swirling through her mind about Draco dueling.

Her last thought as she fell asleep was that she would awake to a new world.

*Page 490, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


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