Chapter 6 : Distraught
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No one flooed to the manor or owled her, asking to talk. All of her old friends had disappeared, moving on with their lives as she had been suffering through hers.
Blaise was no longer in England, having moved to a different country a long time ago when the war had started to become heated. His mother had had no desire to risk her fortune and Blaise was no risk-taker—they had both found it safer and easier to remain neutral, far away from the battle lines. He hadn’t told her where he was going—it was typical of him and in agreement with the atmosphere during the war: the less a person knew of you, the less able they were to betray you. He hadn’t owled her after the end of the war and she wasn’t concerned. She didn’t know what she would do if he started communicating with her now—she would probably ignore the owls.
Daphne, too, had exited from her life. She was content with the company of males and deep in the pureblood rituals of courtship. She had no time now for Pansy and since they hadn’t been too close at Hogwarts anyways, Pansy wasn’t troubled when Daphne didn’t floo her to tell her of her successes in with her suitors. She didn’t think that she would have been able to stomach the romantic triumphs of another when her own love life was so pitiful.
Though she wrote him long letters and owled him gifts, Draco never responded and the packages returned unopened. If she had to guess, she would say that he never opened the letters either, but she didn’t want to guess.
After attempting to reach Draco through the floo at Malfoy Manor several times, Narcissa kindly told her that perhaps it would be better if she didn’t try again.
She didn’t stop with her attempts, though.
She just stopped flooing.
Pansy didn’t leave the manor often anymore, even though she was now allowed to. Instead, she preferred to spend her time drafting letters, watching the letters flow from her fancy peacock quill onto the thick parchment. She only ever stopped when the tip of her quill broke, and then it was to send a house elf out to purchase more.
The house elves did the rest of the purchases for the manor as well. Pansy didn’t think that she would react well to the sight of half-bloods, mudbloods and blood-traitors going about their business as if their lives had never been threatened by the greatest Dark Lord of all time. Her last visit had been disastrous enough without any more provoking behaviour being heaped upon her.
She wanted to bit her tongue in half when her mind whispered that he wasn’t so great if he was able to be beaten by a seventeen-year-old, muggle-raised boy.
Her mother left her own, preferring to arrange visits to with Pansy’s father in Azkaban and visit craft stores. She had told Pansy giddily over dinner one evening that she once again had taken up knitting, a craft that she had enjoyed as child. Pansy had sneered without saying a word and her mother had blushed.
She hadn’t broached the topic with her again and Pansy could only be thankful that she hadn’t tried to gift her with any of her creations, like she knew Molly Weasley had once done with her own children.
But though weeks and months and years passed, Pansy felt no need to find her new place in Wizarding society, a world that felt alien to her. She was dedicated, plodding along slowly, trying desperately to cling to the remnants of her past.
It was one such part of her old life that kick-started her new one.
Pansy was startled when the house elf apparated into the library with a loud crack and her quill made a jagged journey across the parchment. She cursed, before cursing again upon realizing what words had slipped through her lips. Apparently cursing had become a habit without her knowledge or consent. Lacking the constant companionship she had grown used to during her years at Hogwarts, she hadn’t felt the need to check her vocabulary—a fact her father wouldn’t be pleased about. Cursing was for the peasants; for those without a rich enough vocabulary to learn alternate words.
“Mistress Parkinson, a Mister Draco Malfoy requests to see you.” The house elf fidgeted—this was an unusual occurrence and it wasn’t sure what reaction to expect.
Pansy closed her eyes and breathed deeply—if her eyes were open they would surely fall onto the letter she had been writing to Draco, pleading with him to talk to her. It was undignified and she knew that it would be burned to allow for no possibility for it to fall into the wrong hands, but it still pained her that she could be so dependent on another person. That was not how a Parkinson should act.
Touching the edge of the parchment with her wand, she vaporized the letter before turning towards the elf. It was unfamiliar but bore the familiar Parkinson crest on a crisp corner of its pillowcase.
“Please inform Draco-” she was pleased that her voice didn’t waver over his name, “that I will be down shortly to meet him.”
Her actions overly formal, she rose stiffly and walked past the elf towards her room. If her long-absent Draco was here, she needed to be wearing something better than the old robes she had put on that morning.
She was startled and slightly ashamed that her wardrobe’s contents were several years out of fashion. Pansy decided that she would visit the shops soon, but there was no time at the moment to send out for a new robe. She settled finally on an old green robe that Draco had complemented on numerous occasions. It was a little tight, but she doubted Draco would notice.
She paused before her mirror. “What do you think?”
“I think that he’s waiting for you and that you should go to him—good luck!” Pansy smiled at her reflection and took a deep breath, smoothing her robe, before walking towards the flooing room and Draco.
She was pleased that the elves had guided Draco to their parlour just a short distance from the flooing room. They, at least, weren’t too out of practice with the concept of guests.
His back was to her when she entered but he quickly turned at the sound of her entrance. He had been looking out the window at their gardens coated with freshly fallen snow, not yet tainted with human footsteps, and the pale sunlight of winter haloed his hair. The rest of him, however, was less angelic.
Draco’s smile was pained, his skin pulled tight around the corners of his mouth, and shadows gathered under his eyes as though he had been losing sleep. Pansy didn’t know of anything that would be troubling him; the newspapers had been quiet of late and her mother had communicated no trouble. Indeed, her mother had said that he was doing better of late, though she cast odd glances at Pansy when she thought her daughter wasn’t looking.
She gestured faintly at the chairs spread tastefully throughout the room and felt slightly ill when he waited until after she had chosen her seat to sit himself and then sat opposite her instead of beside her on the couch. She had chosen the couch so that he would be able to sit next her… For him to ignore that option meant something that she hadn’t wanted to consider.
He didn’t like her anymore.
“Pansy,” his voice was strong but practiced, as though he had rehearsed before a mirror before coming here. Pansy felt protests bubbling in her throat; she wanted to ask him to stop, to leave, so that she didn’t have to hear the words that would break her. A single, strange sound emerged from her throat and Draco looked at her oddly before continuing.
“Pansy, I think that you have some false perceptions of our- relationship- that I would like to relieve you of.” Pansy wanted to shake her head, plead with him not to continue, but Draco plowed on. “I harbor no romantic feelings for you. I haven’t for years. I’m sorry if you believed otherwise but I have tried not to lead you on.”
Pansy felt like crying but she wouldn’t. It would only make it worse for herself and more awkward for Draco, since she had never before cried in his presence. She rapidly blinked but his next words caused her heart to stop.
“Pansy, I’m in love with someone else. I’ve proposed to her and I’m going to marry her.”
“I’m no fool, Draco, I know what proposing means.” Her heart was hammering now, so fast and loud that she was sure Draco could hear it from his seat across from her. She didn’t know quite what she was feeling at that moment, only that her feelings were swirling, crashing together into one big mess. She felt flashes of anger towards Draco, spurts of shame at her own actions over the past few years (writing him letters almost daily—how embarrassing!) but no emotion dominated. She just wanted him to leave so that she would have time to sort out her emotions.
“She’s Daphne’s sister. Astoria Greengrass.”
Pansy didn’t know what he was hoping to accomplish with that statement but her temper flared. Little Astoria, Daphne’s precious little sister, had stolen Draco’s heart! She wanted to blurt out crass words; she wanted to call Draco a cold, unfeeling person and Astoria a man-stealer but she restrained herself. She would not further shame her family with her actions.
She looked down at her hands, folded primly in the puddle of her robes between her thighs, and calmly asked Draco to leave. She didn’t watch as he left the room and found his way back to the flooing room.
She needed time to think.
She decided, after careful deliberation, that she would allow herself one night to wallow in her misery before she proved, to both herself and Draco, that she didn’t need him in her life.
In preparation for her evening of despair she asked the house elves for a bottle of red wine—the colour of love, of blood, of anger—and triple-checked herself for spying spells that the Ministry or the reporters that still haunted the edges of her property might have cast on her. It would be the cherry on top of her cake of misery if the papers displayed her failure on its front page. She avoided food so that her ability to become thoroughly drunk would not be hindered and, once night fell, hid herself away in her chambers.
It was only after she had locked the door and warded her room against entry that she uncorked the bottle and poured it in the tall glass that the house elves had left for her. The wine curled into the glass, spinning and bubbling as it failed to escape the boundaries of the deceptively clear cup. Pansy sympathized with its plight.
It was awful to be trapped unknowingly for the shock was even worse when you learned that you couldn’t escape. Pansy had felt that deep-seated panic for the first time the day after Harry Potter had ended the war, when she had been unable to leave her manor at will. She had successfully avoided experiencing those emotions again by refusing to leave the manor even after her house arrest had been lifted.
If she expected nothing, then she couldn’t be disappointed.
But now it had found her again, where she had thought she would be safe. It had crept up behind her and bite into the strongest thing she had ever felt, killing it instantly. Draco had allowed no room to maneuver, given her no chance to plead her case. He was engaged, he did not return her feelings and there was nothing she could do about it.
Pansy sipped the wine, savouring its taste as she played with it, coating every corner of her mouth with it. It slipped smoothly, easily, down her throat and she smiled before taking another drink.
It wasn’t too long before she was questioning Draco’s choice in women. She didn’t know why Draco had chosen Astoria instead of Daphne, instead of her. When had he met her? When had he had the time to fall in love with her?
A part of her whispered that it could have occurred while she had refused to leave the manor but it was small enough that Pansy could easily ignore it.
“I sent him letters, didn’t I? I gave him gifts!” Pansy didn’t know who she was arguing with but she felt the need to convince them of her side of the story. Her reflection had yet to make an appearance that evening. “He was the one who didn’t make the effort…”
There was a pause as Pansy struggled to find the next point in her argument.
“She’s not even that pretty.” To emphasize her point she waved her glass, absently admiring the way her ball of light altered the look of the red wine. The deeper red resembled the colours of the robe she had worn to the Yule ball that she had attended with Draco.
“I mean, Draco never said that I was ugly or anything and he used to say that those insults I heard stemmed from jealousy…” Another sip. “I don’t have a nose like a pug. I don’t.”
Pansy felt a tear slide down her nose and blinked rapidly. He wasn’t worth crying over, he wasn’t. But a small part of her that she hoped stemmed from the alcohol disagreed and said that there was no shame in crying.
Pansy knew that Draco wasn’t alone, crying in his chamber behind locked doors. “Most likely with Astoria. Pffft.” Her wine glass wobbled as her attention focused on the depressing direction of her thoughts and tipped, spilling the crimson liquid on her nightgown.
“Blood of a horse’s feather!” She tried to mop up the spill with her sleeve but only succeeded in spreading the stain to other parts of her nightgown—she had forgotten that she still held her wine in her hands and had spilt even more of the liquid. She didn’t want to risk using her wand—she was mentally aware enough to realize that she did not have the proper mental capabilities to safely cast spells. She would probably cast fire to herself in her current state.
Finally she decided to purchase a new nightgown. It was past time that she updated her wardrobe anyways.
“Who needs him anyways?” Pansy imagined that the person across from her was nodding their head in agreement. Another sip. “I mean, I went how long without contact from him?” The person tactfully didn’t mention that Pansy had spent that time writing him letters and sending him gifts. Pansy smiled, grateful.
There was a long moment of silence as Pansy struggled to regain the thread of the conversation. The longs shadows cast by intriguing ball of light that was floating above her head were intriguing. They were intense and Pansy watched as they merged into shapes similar to the human body and joined her person in sitting across from her.
Pansy liked having an audience.
“You know who else I haven’t seen in a while?” Her voice was twisting in unfamiliar ways, dipping in pitch before rising just as suddenly. She didn’t like the way it was trying to confuse her. “My father. I bet he would like a visit from me.” Her wine glass clinked her on the head and she took a brief moment to scold it.
“My father would like a visit from me, I know it!” Pansy could see that her audience was in agreement with her statement. “He could help me with my problem!”
Pansy wasn’t quite certain what her problem was, exactly, anymore.
“What do you think?” As Pansy listened to their opinions she drank her wine. She wasn’t quite certain why one of the shadowy figures, the short one, made a comment about the handsomeness of pugs but she appreciated it.
Pugs were magnificent creatures, she was sure of it. It was too bad she hadn’t ever met one… The more she thought about it, the more she was thought it would be a fantastic idea to own pug, whatever it turned out to be. Maybe it was a smashing new dress. She could always use another one of those. She would ask her mother for one in the morning.
All too soon there was no more wine left in the bottle for her to fill her glass with so Pansy reluctantly said goodbye to her shadows and the person whose name she didn’t know and climbed into bed.
She went to sleep that night with two certainties:
She would visit Azkaban tomorrow and she was buying herself a pug.
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