Chapter 1 : Anamnesis
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You, Pansy, will always remember.
This story began years ago, when you were a little girl. You wore your hair in pigtails and danced around in dresses, playing with your brother and sister and performing for your parents.
Five of you. Those days are distant now but you remember them still, the memories floating back to you with hazy clarity. You were happy.
You remember what it was to be happy.
There was a day when everything changed.
It started out completely normal. Your mother helped you and your younger sister get dressed and ready for school; your older brother was big enough to help himself. The five of you ate breakfast together in the kitchen, big bowls of cereal that crackled when they mixed with milk, and you laughed and joked about the day.
Your father kissed your mother goodbye, hugged all of you, tickling you, Pansy, under the ribs – a special attention for his favourite girl – and then he left for work.
He never came back.
There was never a chance to say goodbye.
That was when your mum stopped caring about you, about your siblings – about life.
Your brother didn’t care much, either. At the age of ten, he started running away from home, staying out late playing with his other friends. Really, you couldn’t blame him. Home wasn’t home anymore. And yet you, Pansy, were the one who stayed. You grew up too quickly, you looked after your little sister while your mum spent her days staring at the bottom of a glass, not loving you enough to care.
One day, for the first time ever, a friend asked you round to her house to play. You asked your mum, and she ignored you, so you took that as a yes. You left with the girl – Sally, you think she was called – and her mum, and went to their house.
For the first time in weeks, you ate a proper meal, chicken nuggets and chips and then ice cream for pudding. Sally had a toy kitchen, and you put things in the oven together, pretending to cook food. She didn’t like it much when you started telling her what to do – she said it was her toy, so she should decide – but you were so used to taking control that you couldn’t help yourself.
In the evening, Sally’s mum drove you home. The car pulled up outside the house and the first thing that you saw was a police car sitting outside it, lights flashing, two grim officers waiting outside. Sally’s mum holds your hand as she takes you to the house, exchanges a few words with the policemen, then smothers you in a hug.
You cannot forget that day.
The next time you saw the three of them, they were lying in boxes, being lowered into the ground.
There was a place that they took you to – they called it the Ministry of Magic – and you believed them, because you remembered your dad talking about it. It certainly seemed magical. You waited in a corridor, kicking your legs as you sat on a rickety wooden chair, while the adults inside – witches and wizards dressed in funny robes – decided your fate.
Adoption. You stared at them incredulously when they suggested it, but you couldn’t argue against it. You were only seven, after all.
You had heard them talking, when they thought you weren’t listening, commenting on the stupidity of your mother, a witch, in owning a car and driving it drunk.
You didn’t think your mum was stupid, just sad.
There were no relatives, they said, and so somebody had to look after you. They told you they had the perfect candidates, a couple who couldn’t have children of their own, a witch and a Muggle, and they would treat you well. You stayed silent; there was nothing to say.
The couple changed your name.
They didn’t love you; they loved the girl that they dreamed you were.
Letha, they called you (your new father was half-Greek, after all), and later you found out that the name meant forgetful, when you were anything but.
You remembered it all.
On your eleventh birthday, you got your Hogwarts letter. You were prepared for it – you remembered your dad talking about the brilliant school of magic he’d attended, where he’d met your mum – and your new mum, as you thought of her, had told you about it too.
Still, it was a surprise when the owl flew in the open window, carrying a letter addressed to you.
It was even more of a surprise when your dad arrived on the doorstep two days later.
‘Parkinson, Pansy,’ the voice called, and you stepped up to the stool, still unused to hearing your real name after almost four years. Since your dad re-entered your life it had been easier to go back to that name, your real name, especially when it came to going to school. The hat that was dropped on your head was filthy, and you squirmed underneath it, but it wasn’t long before it yelled out ‘Slytherin!’ and you went to join your new housemates.
It was strange, how quickly felt at home amongst the green and silver of your house. You sat next to a boy with pale blond hair and you smiled at him. He asked about your family and you mumbled something incoherent about your parents, but you passed the test and he allowed you to sit with them. He was confident and just like that, you decided that you would be like him, because this was a new start for you, in a place where nobody knew you.
Throughout the meal, you tried to avoid glancing at the Bloody Baron and wondering if your mum’s or siblings’ faces had been painted onto the front of a pearly phantom, too.
There was a flying lesson for the first years, and you were nervous because Draco had been boasting about his talent at Quidditch and you had never so much as been on a broomstick. Your new mum had wanted to live as much like a Muggle as possible, and you went to a Muggle primary school, and so you avoided talking about your complicated family and reinvented yourself.
In the class, there was a boy, Longbottom, who got injured. The others laughed at him, and you wanted to fit in, so you laughed just as loud – louder. You teased the Gryffindor girls, whose names you had, obviously, remembered; then Draco noticed the Remembrall lying on the ground.
Why would you need one of those? Can people really forget so much?
In the holidays after the first year at school, Draco invited you to his house. You were staying with your real dad for the summer, but you hated it. He had a new family, a wife and two kids he cared about more than he’d ever cared about you. His wife wanted you to call her mum as well, but you told her that two mothers was quite enough.
Draco’s house was a mansion. His parents, pale and blond just like him, doted on him. His mother hugged him as you went out into the garden to play, and there was an House Elf – Dobby, with big, flappy ears and bandaged hands – who brought you cake and drinks while you raced around on brooms in the sunshine. At night, as you were leaving, you waved goodbye to them. Lucius, with his arm round Narcissa’s waist; both of them with a hand resting on their son’s shoulders.
For the first time, you understood what it meant to be loved.
‘She looks like a pug,’ you heard them say.
They didn’t know you were in the toilets with them and could hear every word they said.
You hated the girls in your school. Some of the Slytherins were okay, the girls that you shared a room with, but that was mostly because they respected you and they preferred to stay on your good side so they could ask for help with work.
The boys were marginally better – not Crabbe or Goyle, but Draco, Blaise and Theo. They didn’t call you names, and you didn’t have to prove your worth to them.
It was strange that you always felt you had to prove it to everyone else.
You were adept at making up stories. You kept the gossip machine well-oiled with your quick tongue, because if people were swallowing rumours about the others in school then they weren’t asking you questions about yourself, and you didn’t have to explain your past.
You’ve always been trying to forget, Pansy.
A war began and you were so sure that it wouldn’t affect you. You were in Slytherin, you were Draco Malfoy’s sometimes-girlfriend, and you were untouchable.
You had started spending the summer holidays with your dad, and the others at your new parents’ house (you always thought of them like that, even though you’d known them for years). At Christmas in your fifth year, you returned home to find a house that had been broken into.
It only took you five minutes to find their bodies.
Living with your dad didn’t get any better.
Your half-sisters were horrible, spoilt little princesses who ruined your things and told tales about you, even when you hadn’t been doing anything. Your step-mother was a pureblood, from an old family, and she didn’t approve of your father’s first marriage to a half-blood witch. They all pretended that it hadn’t happened; you weren’t allowed to talk about your mother or your brother and sister.
You were their dirty, little secret.
More than once you wished that you could stay at Hogwarts during the summer holidays, but you had to keep up appearances, or people – Draco especially – would start treating you like Harry Potter, the boy who had no parents and no home to go to.
You didn’t think you could bear the pity or the shame that would bring.
He hadn’t meant for you to see the mark, you knew that.
You returned home after finishing your OWLs, impatient already for the end of the holidays, when you could go to stay with Daphne for a couple of weeks. Mostly, your father avoided you, but you had sharp eyes and you noticed that he only wore long sleeved robes, even in the stifling heat.
Then, one day, when just the two of you were at home, he absentmindedly scratched at his arm and only realised too late that you could see the skull there.
That was when you found out that your dad had become a Death Eater.
You were on the train on the way to school when Draco started boasting that he was going on to better things. You’d always known that he liked to exaggerate, but he was deadly serious, and you faked the reverence in your tone easily enough.
Inside, you were sick to your stomach.
Your new parents had been killed by Death Eaters.
Your dad and Draco had joined them.
Where did that leave you, Pansy?
Half of the school was missing and the other half seemed to be covered in scars – you and your posse of Slytherins were some of the precious few who remained unharmed. The blood running in your veins was pure – pure enough that it didn’t pose a problem – and you supported the Carrows’ regime fully.
Like your mother, you had started to stop caring.
When an owl came for you, it was rarely with good news. Your dad never bothered to write to you in term-time, and there was nobody else to send things. Once, you’d laughingly told Draco that you hated writing letters, which was why you’d told your dad not to write. Sometimes, on Hogsmeade visits, you used to buy parcels for yourself and order them to be sent to Hogwarts with the morning mail, so that you could fit in with the rest of them.
This owl was different.
Its feathers were black, like tar, and you knew when you saw it that it might as well have been a raven.
Your step-mum’s note was short and succinct. The tear blotches on it made it clear that she was upset, but there were no words of comfort for you.
Your father has been killed in a duel with a member of the Order of the Phoenix.
The castle had been invaded and there was a shrill, piercing voice ringing in your ears, demanding you to give up Harry Potter, to let everyone else live.
Your new parents. Your father.
You’d never really cared for Harry Potter anyway. Even as an orphan, he’d managed to find the life you’d always dreamed of.
You just wanted it all to be over.
And now you sit, in a grimy Muggle pub, nursing a glass of vodka and remembering, even while you try to forget.
You have nothing now, Pansy. All of your life, you have tried to love. Nobody has loved you in return. You are alone.
Here you sit, like your mother, seeking the bottom of a glass for company. And finally, you understand why she did it, and you wonder at the tiny events in your life, those miniscule details; could it ever have been different?
There is no answer in the silence of the bar, which wages war with the roar in your mind.
You pick up your glass and drain it.
Pansy. The flower of remembrance.
You, Pansy, will always wish you could forget.
Author's Note: This one-shot was written for the Gryffindor writing challenge, and the prompts I've included are Pansy Parkinson, The Bloody Baron, The Ministry of Magic, House Elf, owl, Remembrall, and broomstick.
I know Pansy Parkinson isn't the most likable character out there but it was interesting to think about what shaped her personality, and to try a different style in this story too. If you have time, I'd love to hear what you think in a review!
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