Her owl returned from Gringotts early the next morning, interrupting Pansy as she prepared for the day. It swooped in through the window a house elf had opened that morning (”The morning breeze be pleasing, Mistress Parkinson”) and settled itself on her bedpost. Pansy winced as she saw its sharp claws dig into the old wood and decided that she would have a strict word with the house elves about allowing owls to fly willy-nilly around the manor—who knows what other damage it may have caused before it found its way to her?
She was tempted to hex the owl, upset as she was that yet another thing from her past had been damaged, unable to return to its former glory, but refrained, knowing that the owl would have further use in the future.
She paused in dressing herself, knowing that the contents of the letter the owl carried could change all her plans for that day and consequently her choice in clothing.
Fingers sure and strong Pansy peeled the Gringotts seal away and unfolded the letter. Its contents were everything she had hoped they would be.
Dear Miss Pansy Parkinson,
Your request to see the financial statements for the Parkinson family vault has been approved with the consideration that since the current Head of House has been convicted of crimes to society and sentenced to Azkaban you have been named heiress and given full access to the financial matters of your House.
In light of your request a meeting has been scheduled for two o’clock this afternoon. You must bring identification and be prepared to submit your wand for examination.
May your vaults always shine with gold,
Her breath felt stuck in her throat as she let the letter float down onto her blankets. She had hoped Gringotts would respond quickly but she hadn’t expected them to so soon. It stunned her to think that by as early as twenty past two this afternoon she would have the information she needed to properly plan her future and with it, the future of the entire Parkinson legacy.
Would there be money to spare or would the coffers be almost bare? Pansy tried to calculate the sums of money the house elves had spent on food, the amounts her mother had spent on frivolous pastimes, but math had never been her strong suit. Draco had always said—
Pansy stopped her thoughts before they centered on the many moments she had shared with Draco and called for a house elf to bring her parchment and a quill. Though there was usually a spare sheet of parchment in her room Pansy had taken to storing all her writing supplies in the library in a bid to ensure that she would at least leave her chambers, if not the manor.
It wasn’t long before Pansy was at her desk, trying to compose a response to Gringotts calmly, but it was impossible. Her hands shook and her frustration grew as it affected her writing. The jagged creases that interrupted the usually smooth course of her letters were obvious to her, however minute they were in reality, but she was unable to stop her hand’s trembling.
She crumpled the letter, the not-yet dry ink staining her hands, and threw it on the floor. Even as she incinerated it she wished for her father’s patience. She had never known him to become frantic or rushed—it had appeared to her that he was prepared for everything that the world could throw at him.
Everything, it seemed, except for the Dark Lord’s demise.
Pansy sighed and, brushing a stray strand of hair from her face, once again called for a house elf to fetch parchment. This time as she wrote she focused solely on the contrast of the black ink on the beige parchment, the curl of the p leading smoothly into slender loop of the l. She ignored all thoughts of the significance of the letter, choosing instead to concentrate on her wording. Her tutor’s voice echoed in her head, reminding her to dot all her is and cross all her ts.
It was in this slow way that Pansy wrote the letter to her satisfaction and signed her name with a flourish. It had taken more time than usual, though, and Pansy wondered briefly if this slow and limiting method of doing things was how Hufflepuffs usually did their work. It would certainly explain why it took them so long to do things.
Blowing air across the lines of ink, Pansy waited for the letter to dry before folding it in three and sealing it with the Parkinson crest. She gestured sharply for the owl, which had stayed remarkably quiet throughout the whole process, and it flew quickly over to her, hovering in the air as she tied the letter around its ankle.
“There will be no response—return to the Owlery after you’ve delivered the letter.” Without waiting to see if the owl had understood Pansy stood and grimaced at the black ink staining her fingers. She couldn’t leave her hands dirty—how would she get anything done?—so she walked the short distance between her desk and the loo. She wasn’t concerned about anyone catching her in her state of undress as no one had access to her rooms and the house elves only entered at her command.
She rejoiced in the sight of the muddied water swirling down the drain and dried her newly pristine hands on the white towel hanging beside the sink. Walking back into her bedroom Pansy began her preparations for her new plan.
First on the list was choosing an outfit—she couldn’t very well visit Gringotts (or even step outside her rooms) while still wearing her nightgown. No—this occasion required class.
As Pansy turned back to her wardrobe, intent on changing into an outfit more appropriate for a visit to Gringotts, a swirl of colour at the edge of her vision caught her eye.
“Going out to buy a puppy, are we?”
Twisting slightly Pansy saw the familiar face of her reflection smirking at her from the mirror. With the owl gone from the room Pansy didn’t bother to cover herself as she walked towards her reflection. “Whatever do you mean?”
She didn’t have a clue what she was talking about—why in Merlin’s name would she be interested in a puppy of all things?
“You did say that you were going to buy one and one should never break one’s word.” Her reflection was looking entirely too smug for Pansy’s comfort and Pansy wondered for the first time if it was a bad thing for her reflection to be so similar to her.
“I don’t know what you mean.” Pansy hoped that her reflection was toying with her—this wasn’t exactly the most convenient of times to try to embarrass her. She had a very appointment in several hours, one that would decide her future course of action.
“Oh surely you remember—you were very impassioned about it several nights ago.” Her reflection’s tone was mocking and her smile was self-assured. “You declared that you would buy a pug if it was the last thing you did.”
All of a sudden Pansy became aware of what had happened. Somehow, in the midst of her drunken ramblings about Draco, she had fallen onto the topic of pugs. Pugs. Through her blurry memories of that night she remembered her bold declarations. But wait just one moment— how did her reflection know that?
“I don’t remember you being there,” she accused. “Why weren’t you there?”
Perhaps, inside, she was a little hurt that her reflection—the one person she could count on to back her to the end—hadn’t held her hand and spurred her insults that night. She had had an audience, that was true, but she would have felt so much more vindicated if her reflection had been there to point out Draco’s other flaws.
She knew that her reflection would have been splendid at tearing Draco verbally to shreds, just like she had been brilliant in her reassurances and confidence-boosting comments before Draco’s startling announcements.
“I was tired,” her reflection said and Pansy looked carefully at her face. She didn’t see any shadows under her eyes or any other indication of sleep deprivation—in fact, her reflection looked perfectly alert and ready to debate.
“Reflections get tired?” she asked suspiciously—perhaps her reflection had simply tired of her and had chosen to ignore her suffering. It was what she would have done in her reflection’s position…
“Of course, though not nearly as often as you. I was almost asleep, too, when your voice kept me awake. You were very loud.” Her reflection looked stern and Pansy was almost tempted to apologize. However, it was her room and she had just had a big shock (she also had been slightly drunk). She felt that her actions were justified and quietly muffled any desire to admit wrongdoing.
Suddenly her reflection smiled, a very friendly and seemingly genuine smile, and it was such a complete change of emotion that Pansy felt very confused. Her reflection opened her mouth to speak and her tone put Pansy in mind of their previous conversations, before she had even though her reflection might attempt to manipulate her.
“What colour are you thinking about getting? I’m partial to those with a black coat—they look so sleek and elegant!” Her reflection’s eyes were pleasant and open, friendly.
Startled by the sudden return to the original topic of conversation, Pansy tried to set herself once again on firm ground. She wouldn’t let anyone push her into a decision she didn’t want to make. To do so would be insulting to the Parkinson name and a step in the wrong direction.
“I hadn’t given it much thought,” Pansy said, a touch haughtily, “but you can rest assured that I will pick one suitable to belong to a Parkinson.”
“I don’t think that those with the lighter coloured fur would look very nice with the manor—it would seem as though we were trying to imitate the Malfoys, something the Parkinsons are definitely better than.”
“That we are, that we are.”
Pansy turned back to her wardrobe in a much better mood. She had known that her reflection would be on her side.
Just before leaving the bedroom Pansy paused before her mirror and asked a question, quite seriously. It had been puzzling her throughout the conversation and now that she intended to purchase one, she needed to know.
“Are you sure that you know what a pug is?” Perhaps she could trick the answer out of her reflection.
But the twinkle in her reflection’s eye returned as soon as the last word left her mouth and Pansy knew that she had lost. She just hoped that her reflection wouldn’t tease her about it for too long—she didn’t want to ruin their relationship.
“Of course I know what a pug is. Why—don’t you?” Her reflection’s smile was most definitely a smirk and Pansy tried desperately to save herself.
“Of course! I was just making sure that you did too, so that we were on the same page.”
Her reflection’s smile grew and Pansy knew that she wasn’t going to help her. However, just as she was about to walk through the door, her reflection threw her a bone.
Perhaps she did it because they shared the same goals and the further humiliation of the Parkinson name was not among them. Perhaps she did it because she was kind (hah!). But whatever the reason, Pansy was grateful.
“Have fun at Magical Menagerie!”
It was shortly before two o’clock that Pansy left her house to walk down the path separating her manor from rest of the world. Her warm breath created misty clouds in the cold air and Pansy pulled the edges of her cloak tighter around herself. Even with several warming charms and a thick cloak the wintery air managed to slip its cold fingers past her protection and make her shiver.
Pansy had never been fond of winter, preferring instead the heat of summer. Winter meant layers of clothing to reach a fraction of the warmth she possessed easily in the summer; winter meant school and all the work that accompanied it.
Though the unspoiled, snow-covered grounds were pretty they were also colourless and desolate, dull in comparison to the fertile earth they became once the snow melted.
Summer meant relaxation and luxury. No one paid to visit ice-covered islands—their attention was instead brought to sun-warmed sand and the pleasant open waters of the sea.
Draco had been firmly in agreement with her.
Perhaps winter wasn’t so bad after all.
She reached the end of the path and looked at the gates that protected her from the rest of the world. This time she didn’t hesitate before opening the latch and stepping through them—there could be no fear during the restoration of her family’s good name.
Picturing the apparation spot closest to Gringotts (she didn’t want to have to walk longer in the cold than she absolutely had to), she felt her body contort and shrink as it was pulled through space. She landed gracefully and moved out of the way as soon as she felt able—she didn’t want to be accidently trampled by incoming Apparators.
She had rarely visited Diagon Alley during the winter for before Hogwarts her parents had felt that she was too young and during Hogwarts—well, she had been at Hogwarts. It didn’t look too different from how it was during the warmer seasons, save for the dirty snow that coated the streets. Pansy cast a quick charm on her cloak to protect it from the filthy slush.
Locating the shining walls of Gringotts Pansy hurried in its direction, ignoring the small nods of greeting others sent her way. The fantastical shops that lined her path blurred in her vision, so eager (so afraid) was she to get off the street and learn her fate.
She briefly heard the squawk of an owl as the door of the Magical Menagerie opened before the tall frame of a wizard blocked her path.
A hand shot out to grasp her shoulder, stopping her from tumbling backwards into the street. Pansy quickly straightened and shrugged the hand off her shoulder. She wouldn’t have needed any help if the man hadn’t gotten in her way.
“I’m sorry—I didn’t see you,” the man apologized and Pansy wanted to snort. She might even have if they hadn’t been on a public street.
“Obviously not.” Pansy barely glanced at him before trying to get around him. It was getting dangerously close to two o’clock and she really didn’t want to be late for her meeting with Tebak. She didn’t want to give him any reason to believe her irresponsible or ignorant.
“I can see that you’re in a hurry—I’ll just let you go.” The man stepped smoothly to the side, showing Pansy a free path to Gringotts. “I am sorry, though. I had just stopped to get food for my dog, you see—”
But Pansy didn’t see, for she was already climbing the stairs to the entrance of Gringotts. The man sighed and continued on his way, his encounter with Pansy lingering in his thoughts.