Chapter 1 : Dance
| ||Rating: Mature||Chapter Reviews: 7|
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A witch’s place is alongside her wizard.
Today, those lessons would finally take an exciting turn. She had always been ushered off to bed before her parents’ many dinner parties before.
Parties are for people who matter.
Now, Pansy mattered.
In a few moments, father would knock softly on her door. “Princess,” he would say gently. “Everyone’s waiting.” She would open it wide and hug him tightly. Arm-in-arm, they would walk together to the top of the grand staircase. Everyone would be watching, but it would all be alright because her father would be with her and she would finally look beautiful.
At school or at home, at work or at play, a witch must always be radiant.
She would be radiant like mother. And father would be so proud.
Pansy would smile demurely and wave timidly, making sure to showcase the Parkinson family bracelet that would grace her wrist tonight. She would keep her back straight and her head level. She would glide gracefully toward the waiting, clapping crowd, stopping in the middle for father to introduce her.
“Witches and wizards,” he would say, “it is my honor to present you my precious daughter, Pansy Eleanor Parkinson.”
Pansy would smile her broadest and best. She was to try not to blush, but Governess had assured her that she need not worry. A hint of rose about her pale cheeks would only enhance her appearance. Then, taking leave of father’s arm, she would take two tiny steps forward, still beaming as she dropped her most elegant curtsey.
A witch must always submit to her superiors.
“How many times do I have to tell you?” the elderly woman screeched. “The black seal must be used on all foreign correspondence! The stamp is only sufficient for domestic mailings!”
Pansy bowed her head, stewing inside. “Of course ma’am.”
With a haughty sniff, the half-blood in the unflattering stone-colored suit strode away to irritate someone else. Didn’t the old bint know she practically matched the walls? Discarding the offending envelope, Pansy removed its contents and placed them in a clean one, using a simple charm to copy the address. She carefully affixed the black seal to the back. She groaned. Pansy wouldn’t have half the problems she did if Americans didn’t insist on copying so many English towns and cities when naming their own. She slid the letter into the far left box with a heavy sigh.
Her situation at the Ministry of Magic disgusted her. Just a week ago she had been passed over for promotion from her position as Lead Stamper in the Department of International Magical Cooperation’s Postal Division. Once again, one of her pitifully inept co-workers was handed an escape from the Stamp Room while Pansy languished on. Once again, that co-worker wasn’t pureblood. And the new regime claimed she was prejudiced. Her colleagues, if one could honestly bestow such a title on those who never outgrew tittering about men and reading Witch Weekly, treated her with open disdain. Her supervisor thwarted her every suggestion. And each application she made to respectable private businesses and divisions outside her own was met with near instantaneous rejection. Surely this couldn’t be her destiny.
At the end of another dull day, Pansy gathered her belongings, pausing only to check her appearance in the restroom mirror. She carefully neatened the collar of her crisp white blouse and carefully re-tucked it into her slim black skirt. She smiled. Her hair and face were impeccable as usual and a cursory glance at her nails satisfied her that her manicure was still intact despite all the stamping. Chin in the air and purse on her shoulder, she strode out into the lobby. It wouldn’t do to keep Millicent waiting.
“Where have you been?” the rotund young witch gasped as Pansy approached the coffee shop that now adjoined Florian Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor. “I’ve been here nearly an half an hour!”
“Hauled into the supervisor’s office again,” Pansy lied. “I think the old bat likes to do it in front of everyone to humiliate me. As if she’s capable.”
“It’s the same with all these upstarts,” Millicent commiserated.
“They disgust me,” Pansy hissed. “Our families built all this. And because we refused to disgrace their memories by refusing to stand with Perfect Potter in his quest to ruin it all we’re worthless? I never thought I’d see the day the name Weasley opened doors at the Ministry.”
“Oh, I agree completely. Witches and wizards used to line up outside my father’s office desperate for his recommendation. Now it would get someone on the watch list. What was the half-blood after you for this time?”
“Using a bloody stamp when I should have used a seal. She’s just trying to justify not promoting me.”
“Well surely that didn’t keep you all this time.”
Pansy glowered at her friend. “I forgot where we were meeting,” she admitted.
“Forgot? Well what have you been doing? Walking the Alley?”
“I just wandered a bit until I saw you.”
The stumpy witch frowned in concern. “Blaise tells me you forgot a lunch date with him last month.”
“Yes, well I’ve had plenty on my mind.”
“It’s not like you. Or it didn’t used to be. Perhaps you need a Remembrall.”
Pansy’s temper flared. “I don’t need one of those over-priced bits of rubbish!”
“Well, there’s no need to get cross over it,” Millicent replied, looking perturbed. “It was only a suggestion. Anyway, how are things with Blaise?”
“They’re…fine I suppose. It’s all terribly predictable. Picky as he is you’d think he’d be more creative.”
“You should be thanking Merlin he’s picked you. Who cares if he’s predictable. It’s our way.”
Pansy was seated to her father’s left when they arrived. Mother had done her hair in the traditional tight crown braid. Her dress was virginal white with a conservative neckline, though she was pleased that it hugged her carefully maintained figure more than those chosen by many of her friends’ parents. To complete the ensemble, mother had passed down her own courtship pearls. She waited with baited breath to see who had come for her first. She listened carefully to see if she could make out the greeting from the family’s house-elf, Gimbel, but to no avail. The feeble creature barely spoke loud enough anymore to hear when he was across the room, let alone further.
As the other family entered, Pansy stood in unison with her parents. In contrast to the witch’s family, the wizard’s was to dress in all black. Her heart fluttered to see Draco at the end of her dining table, his blonde hair slicked back attractively and grey eyes twinkling to match his confident smile.
Father bowed deeply, while she and mother curtsied.
“It is with great honor that we welcome the heir of the House of Malfoy to our table,” he spoke.
Draco and his parents returned the graces.
“It is with great humility that we come to dine with the greatest treasure of the House of Parkinson,” Draco’s father began. At the strike of his cane on the marble floor, Gimbel scrambled forward, his weak arms laden with three perfectly wrapped boxes. As the first levitated toward Mr. Parkinson, Draco’s father continued. “First, we honor its head with a weapon worthy of his strength.” Pansy watched as father undid the wrapping, revealing a jewel-encrusted golden mace. Nodding his assent, father bade him to sit.
Draco’s mother was next to speak. “Second, we honor its lady with jewels worthy of her grace.” From a smaller package, mother extracted a heavy necklace, rich with emeralds. With a gloved hand, mother gracefully gestured for her to sit as well.
Finally it was her turn. “And to its greatest treasure,” Draco said clearly, “we offer a crown, worthy of her virtue.”
Carefully unwrapping the box before her, Pansy was stunned by the shining, yet delicate beauty of the tiara she had already known would be inside. In that moment she wanted nothing more than to pluck it out and place it squarely on her head. But she knew better.
A witch must observe tradition – failure will ensure a fall from grace.
And so she bowed her head, the signal to Draco that she was finally safe to approach. Closing her eyes, she waited, feeling his presence closer to her than ever before and smelling the rich cologne he had used for the occasion. The experience was uniquely intoxicating. How had her friends made it seem so blasé? Finally, she felt the tiara come to rest just behind her braid. Pansy opened her eyes and raised her head.
“May I take your hand?” Draco asked.
She answered affirmatively with the required silent dip of her chin.
His touch was electric and though she knew her arm was small, Pansy was certain she could feel Draco’s strength as he lifted it to access her bare head. Locking eyes with her, he lowered his head and delivered the requisite kiss before bowing and taking his seat at his father’s right hand.
Pansy sat stoically outside yet another office deep within the Ministry of Magic. There was no telling what incompetent they would have interview her this time. Sometimes she wondered if it wouldn’t be better if they stopped giving her interviews altogether. Just left her hopeless in the Stamp Room. She would never stop submitting piles of applications, but somehow knowing they were futile would feel better than this. Pansy would dress wonderfully. She would answer perfectly. How could she not? But still, they’d choose some useless octogenarian or fresh-faced Gryffindor brat to fill the position she wanted.
She looked around the empty waiting area near the corner office. No one was about. She flexed her fingers. She stood then sat, smoothing her skirt. She placed her hands in her lap, tapping a finger gently on the inside top of her leg.
Pansy had always possessed a certain energy. In another time it made her the jewel of her house at Hogwarts – authoritative, snappy, and vivacious. She was at once sparking emerald and hard obsidian – formed perfectly by purity of blood and the force of the Slytherin mold. Now, her core was forced to merely smolder, and at times like this the energy it still created seeped through in her immaculate performance of the mundane. So she was made to wait? Fine. Then she would wait better than anyone.
After a few minutes passed, she spared another glance at the door she would soon walk through. Thinking she heard the sound of voices, she fixed her eyes firmly on the silver knob. Now that she noticed, there was something about it. The oblong shape, the carefully molded rope surrounding the lock itself. If not for the ridiculous Muggle keyhole…surely she had seen it somewhere before.
Pansy woke in a bed to raindrops splattering hard against the glass of a window near her head. She felt dire. Her skull seemed on fire. Rolling her head slowly to the right, the young witch realized she was in her old bedroom in her parents’ home. What could have possibly driven her there?
Still lying, she shook her head. The fire faded. She was still in her clothing from the night before. Father would have been furious.
A witch must always keep her senses.
A gentle knock came on the door. Mother? No. Too timid. Gimbel? The ancient little elf. He wouldn’t dare.
“I’m not decent!” she lied quickly, sitting and covering herself with sheets as the door began to open.
“I already know that much,” Astoria said dismissively. “I brought you here after all.”
“I figured you needed bringing home when I found you still inside the Breezy Skeleton ‘round midnight. Flint said he’d offered you a room, but you refused…”
“Do you know another?” the youngest Greengrass answered sarcastically.
“He’s tending bars now? That’s a disgrace. And I thought the Stamp Room was awful…”
“Honestly Pansy! He’s bought the place. The witch who tends for him is one of the tarty little half-bloods the hat’s putting in Slytherin these days. Marcus really should find someone better. A least a hint of class…”
“Why was I at the Breezy Skeleton?”
Astoria’s face softened as she approached the bed with a concerned frown.
“Oh hell Pansy…”
“You…Draco…you don’t remember?”
“Give me a minute.”
Pansy shook her head and concentrated. She and Draco had gone to dinner at Absinthium, the expensive new eatery down Knockturn Alley. Located in the more upscale area that had developed since most pureblood families had been driven to socialize outside the public eye, it was renowned for its fresh, exotic cuisine. They had ordered the roast Diricawl and…Pansy squinched her eyes tightly. The memory was moving so rapidly. He had…the bastard.
The fire returned to her head as she relived it, Astoria holding her hand. He had ended it. It was three days from the date appointed for their engagement. Years! Years she had waited for the next phase of the courtship ritual he had started so long ago! Truthfully it was all Pansy had, slaving away with the rest of her dignity in tatters as an entry-level Stamp Witch at the Ministry. The world had taken everything already. She had waited for him.
“It’s okay to cry Pansy,” Astoria said gently. “It’s only us.”
Pansy’s face hardened and she abruptly stood.
A witch must never lose her composure.
“You were there?” she asked simply.
“My family and I were at a table on the second floor.”
“You were the picture of grace.”
Pansy strode to her window, staring into the driving rain. She could see it all clearly, right down to the seemingly out of place oblong silver knob on the door Draco had casually shoved closed as he strode back into the Alley and remorselessly out of her life.
“Blaise, I do not approve of this!” Pansy yelled shrilly.
The dark-skinned wizard rolled his eyes. “Don’t be theatrical. It’s just a bit of flying. Witches have flown for centuries.”
“I haven’t. And certainly not for sport. I’ve nothing to wear.”
“Lucky I’ve bought you something then,” he snarked, raising a large bag into the air, before dumping it out unceremoniously on his large dining room table.
Flashing him a skeptical glare, Pansy picked over the pants, long sleeve shirt, and leather equipment, until Blaise produced a new pair of black riding boots, setting them heavily on the table.
“I believe these will work for other occasions?” he drawled. “I’d be pleased if you’d join us.”
A witch must take pleasure in her wizard’s desired leisure.
And the boots were a nice gift. He knew all her buttons.
Pansy harrumphed. “And I suppose you’ve got a broomstick around the corner as well, do you?”
Blaise looked at his girlfriend meaningfully. “The Firebolt V. I’m sure you can handle it. I’ll see you outside.”
Having donned her new attire and secured her dark brown hair in a ponytail for the first time since she was eight, Pansy straddled the broom and took flight toward her gathered group of friends. Along with Blaise, she could make out Marcus, Millicent, Astoria, and Daphne.
As they floated idly above the ground, her eyes floated to Astoria’s broomstick. For reasons she didn’t understand, the sight of the shiny black handle lifted her attitude about the ensuing game. It was strange really, seeing as she had never flown with Astoria before, but there was something about its presence that was oddly…reassuring.
With only the Quaffle and hoops set, the group elected to play solely as Chasers and as time went on, Pansy found herself adapting to the game. Clearly Blaise and Marcus were less than pleased with the talent surrounding them, but as far as she was concerned they had only themselves to blame. A pass quickly came her way from Daphne and she surged forward past Astoria, laughing genuinely for the first time in months. Convinced she was poised to score again, Pansy raised her arm to shoot. Thud! Suddenly she was falling. She could see Blaise racing toward her at great speed. Pansy cried out, reaching for him desperately before her body, followed quickly by her skull, hit the ground with a sickening crack.
She awakened to thin rays of sunlight glaring into her face. She felt dire. Her head pounded relentlessly. As her eyes adjusted, she could see that she was surrounded by white. White walls. White sheets. There was even a white tag of some kind on her wrist. Attempting to move, she quickly discarded the idea as nausea struck her. Did the room have to be so bright?
Slowly she turned her head away from the windows. On the table next to her was a plate of food that had clearly been left long ago. Jutting out from a blob of hospital eggs was a simple fork, crafted crudely out of dull metal. She wanted desperately to shake the cobwebs clear, but knew the consequences would be nowhere near worth it. Closing her eyes before trying to focus once more, her eyes were drawn to the plate of eggs and fork.
Unexpectedly, Astoria entered the room.
“Goodness! Pansy, you’re alright!” the young witch gushed. “We were so worried!”
“We?” Pansy asked weakly.
“Of course! Blaise has been worried sick. Raking himself over the coals for forcing you to play. I’ve never seen him like this…”
“Blaise? Where the hell is Draco?”
Astoria’s head drew back quickly, her brow furrowed.
“Yes, Astoria…Draco,” Pansy grumbled, puzzled by her friend’s lack of recognition. “I know witches like us don’t end up in the hospital often, but you’d think the least we could count on is our courter to show up.”
Astoria nodded slowly before smiling. “I’m sure he’s just in the waiting room. I’ll go check.”
Pansy closed her eyes, hoping the headache would dissipate.
She opened them swiftly, hearing footsteps entering the room. She needed to see Draco. Their engagement was only days away.
Alas, it was only Astoria. Pansy raised an eyebrow at her as she noticed the witch holding a clear ball in one hand. “No Draco?”
“Blaise said he must have gone to get you flowers,” Astoria smiled.
“I see you’ve found something else…”
“Yes. I ran into a Healer who’s been looking after you. He thought it would be a good idea to test your memory after such a nasty fall, so he gave me a Remembrall.”
Pansy noticed that her friend’s smile had wavered.
“What’s wrong with you?” Pansy snapped playfully. “Give it here then.”
Suddenly the object was coming toward her through the air. In this state it would be impossible to catch, but fortunately it landed softly on the blankets covering Pansy’s lap. She glanced up at Astoria, who still appeared overly concerned. Reaching down, she grabbed the glass orb. Pansy already knew the test would be useless. If there was one thing Pansy had going for her in this nightmare of a world they now lived in, aside from Draco, it was undoubtedly her razor sharp memory.
Looking down, she was surprised to see the object flooding with reddish mist. “I…that’s never happened…” Pansy said worriedly.
Astoria was frowning. “I was so afraid of that…”
Pansy scoffed. “Probably just me not remembering how I got here,” she joked.
“No,” the other witch said simply.
“Astoria, what’s going on?” she insisted. “Where’s Draco?”
“He’ll be along.”
“Don’t worry your pretty little head about Draco.”
Pansy scowled. “That game’s getting a bit old now.”
“Merlin, Pansy,” Astoria groaned. “So is this one.”
“This,” she said simply, raising her wand as reached behind to close the door.
“Everything was fine. Everything was finally fine.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Bloody Quidditch,” Astoria groused, slowly advancing.
“It was never supposed to be like this. It was never supposed to be this hard.”
Pansy’s eyes widened.
“I never wanted to hurt you Pansy. Not really. But I just needed things to be different.”
“Astoria, whatever it is…don’t lose your head. You know a–”
“A witch never loses her composure,” she mocked in a sing-song voice. “I was never like you, Pansy. I was never strong enough.”
The words flooded Pansy’s mind unbidden as Astoria raised her wand.
A witch never caves to weakness.
“Muffliato,” Astoria hissed, flicking her wand swiftly toward the door before re-centering it on Pansy.
A witch overcomes weakness…
“I’m sorry, Pansy,” the youngest Greengrass sobbed out.
…or a witch embraces it.
Astoria’s eyes were puffy, red, and wild with emotion as she bellowed the spell she desperately needed at the top of her lungs. “Obliviate!”
Briefly, the Pansy’s eyes went dull at they had so many times before. Astoria composed herself. She had needed this. She had needed to be certain. Everything would be fine, now. Pansy was quiet. Unknowing. Open. She had plenty of time. As a stray tear, barely formed before the spell had hit its mark trickled down her victim’s cheek, Astoria went to work.
In Pansy’s hand, the Remembrall turned clear again.
A/N: Okay…so this is a dark take on how Draco/Pansy ended and though I decided to leave it implied, how Draco/Astoria came to pass. I’m not sure it came off quite how I wanted, because I have a few key questions myself. How did Pansy come across? Did I do enough with her faulty memory early? What do you think of the concept of head/brain trauma being capable of undoing memory modification? What do you think of the Remembrall knowing Pansy had forgotten Astoria’s actions even if she couldn’t recall the specifics herself? I am really interested in your answers to these questions and your overall thoughts. And of course I’d love to hear any questions that entered your mind reading this piece!
Thanks for checking it out!
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