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Chapter 2 : Despair
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It had been a good dream but unfortunately that was all it was.
The thought that Draco might not be sound asleep in his own bed at that moment gave her pause and she reluctantly pushed her covers back and made to get out of bed. Just before her feet touched her bedside rug her thick slippers appeared and she willingly slipped her feet into the warmth they provided.
“Mistress Parkinson be wanting light?” Pansy could hear the quiver in its voice and immediately wished that she had succumbed to the call of sleep—it didn’t sound like Draco was at home. In fact, it sounded as though he might be in trouble. As though the Dark Lord might have lost, as impossible as that was.
“No thanks.” It was not wise to irritate your source of information and Pansy wasn’t stupid. “I want information. What has happened?” Dark as it was, she was just able to make out the shine of the house elf’s eyes, watery as they were.
“It is not being good news, Mistress Parkinson. Milly is so sorry.” There was the faint ruffle of paper and then Pansy felt the rough quality of the Daily Prophet as it was placed in her hands. For it to be at their manor so early, a special edition must have been printed. Whispering lumos, a small ball of light appeared above her head. It was an old enchantment from her childhood that her parents had set in place to help her overcome her fear of the dark, one they had never removed.
It was useful in moments such as this, though there would never be another moment that reflected the feelings of absolute panic and shock that radiated through her body as she read the headline:
Boy-Who-Lived Becomes Man-Who-Saved-Us-All: He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is Dead!
The impossible had happened—the champion of pureblood rights had been murdered. Their cause was lost.
Everything was ruined.
Pansy barely heard the soft pop as Milly apparated away; she was too caught up in her pain. Was there word of Draco in those pages? Of her father?
Each headline seemed worse than the last, each one ripping through her foolish expectations.
Death Eaters Rounded Up by Aurors; Awaiting Trial –
What did that mean for her family? What did that mean for Draco? Was her father one of the captured? Would he be convicted, sentenced to Azkaban? Never before had Pansy felt this alone, as though her entire world had been ripped from under her feet. Her family, her friends’ families—everything was changed for them.
Death Toll High; Hospitals Overflowing –
They would be hated by society, even more so than they were now. They would be blamed for every bad thing that had ever occurred, every death and injury. There would be no such thing as normal now, not for them.
Pansy felt tears pricking at the corners of her eyes and blinked furiously. She could not show any weakness, not a time like this. You had to set the standard now, so that you would live up to it later, her father’s words echoed in her head. She had to stay strong for the sake of her family and their reputation. They must not be allowed to find any fault in her armour.
If the half-bloods and mudbloods could see her now they wouldn’t waste any time in mocking her pain, her despair. They would rejoice in her suffering as she would have rejoiced in theirs if the battle had ended differently.
She cursed them and Harry Potter as her eyes frantically scanned the thin words on the pages, searching for hints regarding the fates of her father and Draco.
In a magnificent display of magical talent Harry Potter dueled You-Know-Who in full view of…
She didn’t need to know the details; she refused to read praise about Harry Potter. She skipped several lines, her nails almost puncturing the page as she underlined the words.
Aurors have arrested all the Death Eaters that fought at the battle and have posted guards on those with life-threatening injuries so as to ensure that they do not escape.
A list. She needed a list. Flipping quickly through the Daily Prophet, she was unable to find one. As she was about to fling the paper across the room her eyes were caught by a small headline on one of the inner pages. Her fingertips slowly traced the words, her mind struggling to understand.
Guilty by Association
The article referred to her. It talked about her mother.
Those who are closely related to known Death Eaters have been placed under house arrest at their present location. They are unable to leave the boundaries of that property and will remain there until they have been investigated by Aurors. Nothing will be left to chance or fortune—they will not escape justice this time.
They suspected her. They had trapped her. She was stuck here, stuck in her family home, with no method of escape.
But she wouldn’t just accept it.
Slippers padding soundlessly on the floor, Pansy walked determinedly to the room she had flooed into late last night. It was the only one in the manor with floo access—the other fires were just fires. She ignored the muttering of the portraits that swelled in her wake, commenting on her state of undress. They didn’t matter in this moment—they were dead and it was her life that was ruined if the article was true.
The heavy door swung open before her, the manor helping her in her task. She would have thanked it but she was too worried about what she would do if she learned for certain that the Ministry had blocked the exits from the manor.
Her hand trembled lightly as she grabbed the gritty floo powder from the pouch next to the fireplace. She fell to her knees before the dark, empty fireplace and muttered a curse—the fire wasn’t lit.
Sharply, she summoned a house elf and commanded it to light the fire, quickly if it didn’t want to be punished.
Soon, red and orange flames were flickering before her face and she took a deep, calming breath. She needed to decide where to floo—she couldn’t show her face just anywhere in her nightgown. Even in this time of crisis, she couldn’t disgrace her family.
Especially not now.
She settled on flooing to Malfoy Manor, certain in the knowledge that they would be understanding, if they were home at all. All the occupants of the manor would have fought in the battle at Hogwarts—with all likelihood they were captured, awaiting sentencing.
Pansy swallowed hard—it was hard to imagine the proud Narcissa Malfoy being forced to wait in the dingy, dirty cells at the Ministry. It was hard to imagine any of her acquaintances squatting in those awful cells; not those gorgeous people who had not too long ago been waltzing in fancy robes at balls and setting the standards for the rest of the Wizarding world to aspire for.
She leaned forward, throwing the powder into the flames and muttering her destination, and stopped. The red brilliance of the flames hadn’t turned green—if she had leaned any closer her face would have been scorched.
Denying the thoughts that were swirling through her mind, her arm reached up and groped for the pouch containing the floo powder. Grabbing a larger handful (perhaps she had simply needed more for it to work), she once again threw the powder in the flames and called “Malfoy Manor”, her voice deeper with urgency.
Nothing. Pansy thought that the flames might even be a darker red than before, as though the Ministry was taunting her from afar.
Unwilling to admit defeat (after all, they might only have blocked the floo), she snapped out Milly’s name and held out her arm impatiently for Milly to touch.
“I need to get out of this house.”
“Where would Mistress Parkinson be liking to go?” Pansy felt Milly’s fingers curl around her arm and struggled not to wince. The fingers felt so different from those of a human, more delicate.
“I do not care. Just get me out.” And she truly didn’t. Whatever damage that would be done by appearing in a nightgown could be repaired at a later date. At that moment she just needed to know that she had the ability to leave, that she wasn’t going to be trapped in her own home.
They couldn’t take away her liberty, her independence. If they took away what she had always prided herself on controlling… Pansy was afraid of how she would react.
Pansy was prepared for the twisting sensation that was associated with apparation of all kinds. She was prepared to feel nausea, pain, even bone-twisting. She wasn’t, however, prepared to slam into a physical barrier.
It was like being thrown headfirst into a solid stone wall. It hurt. She closed her eyes and cradled her head between her legs. Maybe if she waited long enough the room would stop spinning. Maybe if she waited long enough the pain would stop.
“Oh Milly is so sorry. Milly has failed to do her Mistress’ request and must punish herself.” Pansy faintly heard the sound of the house elf banging its head into the wall and tried to close her ears to the sound.
She only stopped the elf when its thuds made her headache worse. The silence of the room, after the house elf left, was soothing and slowly her body stopped protesting every movement that she made. Hesitantly she allowed her mind to focus on what she could no longer deny. Reluctantly she began to consider the consequences of house arrest.
She was no longer allowed to wander the world at will, should she have desired to do so. Her body was confined within the ancient walls of her ancestral home. She was required to depend on her house elves for her daily needs and if Granger had had her way she would not even have had them.
The Ministry controlled her movements, decided her fate. Without their agreement, she would never again see a robe before it was bought or be allowed to dine at the finest restaurants. Without the Aurors examining every aspect of her life, no matter how private, she would live the rest of her life in one place, without freedom.
She couldn’t protest without making her circumstances worse. She imagined that the Ministry would gladly take any complaint she made as a sign of rebellion against them and place her in the waiting cells next to the Death Eaters.
The only thing that she was able to do was wait. Wait until the heavy atmosphere of the war had dissipated, wait until she had been deemed a non-threat, wait until she was released from her home turned prison.
She heard soft footsteps pad into the room and sighed. It seemed that her mother was awake and had come looking for her. Briefly, she wondered if a house elf had informed her of her reasons for returning, of the situation at Hogwarts. Of the situation that had been at Hogwarts.
“What are you doing, dear?” Her mother’s soft voice echoed in the room that suddenly felt too small. “It’s too early to go out and you’re not properly dressed.”
She glared up at her mother from under the curtain of her hair and stood up numbly, absently brushing soot from her robes. Her mother, then, didn’t know.
“Mother, we’re trapped.”
“Whatever do you mean Pansy? Of course we’re not trapped—I’m going out for lunch today with your father.”
“He won’t be able to attend, Mother. Didn’t you hear what I said?” Inside, she winced at her sharp tones. That was not how she usually spoke to her mother. “We’re trapped. The Dark Lord lost, father is captured and awaiting trial and we’re stuck in this hippogriff-haven of a house.”
“Are you sure?” Her mother’s voice was timid, as though she were hesitant to speak. “I had plans-”
“It’s the Ministry’s doing and we can’t get around it. I’ve already tried. They’ve blocked all the exits in our manor—we can’t get through and only they can take down the enchantments.”
Pansy felt like throwing a hissy fit like she used to do when she was younger, before she had seen the childishness of it. She longed to throw her body on the floor and roll around screaming at the top of her lungs. Her fists were clenched to keep her from slapping something and her feet were firmly planted on the floor to stop them from swinging in the direction of the useless, non-flooing fireplace.
“Are you sure?” Her mother didn’t want to believe her and Pansy understood why, though she was in no mood to convince another person that their way of life was forever changed. Not when she was having trouble accepting it herself.
“Of course I’m sure! Check the newspaper if you don’t believe me—it’s all there.”
They stood there, unsure of what to say, unwilling to break the silence. In this room there was no reminder of the troubles of the outside world save the fireplace and even there it was easy enough to ignore the link. The room was filled with memories of the past, not all of them being hers. Pansy could remember her father proudly telling her that the manor had been altered very little over the centuries, so fine was the original architecture. This room had not been changed at all.
Many generations of Parkinsons had received news in this room before her, not all of it joyful. Pansy could imagine her father waiting for his father to return from a discussion about the union of their two families with her mother’s father. Had he been excited? Anxious? Had he been worried that the Maudlines would refuse his offer of courtship or confident in his success?
Pansy suddenly felt as though there was a vast distance separating her from her father, one that couldn’t be crossed. She sneaked a glance at her mother and found that she was staring at her, a curious look on her face. Pansy didn’t know what she was thinking and felt a sudden longing to.
Their stay in the room might have gone on for hours had the silence not been broken as a house elf apparated between them. It looked between them, as if contemplating who to address, before positioning itself so that it could see them both. Their eyes followed its progress.
“Mistresses Parkinson, breakfast is being ready now.” The house elf nodded and, finished with its announcement, disapparated.
Their eyes meet once again and Pansy cleared her throat. “I suppose we shall…” She gestured at the open doorway and silently cursed her inability to find the correct words. Her mother nodded and followed her out through the door and into the house that was now their prison.
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