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04 December 2012 @ 07:06 am
Fic: The Arc of Years for aliciadances  
Title: The Arc of Years
Rating: PG
Characters: Pansy Parkinson, with appearances by Tracey Davis, Millicent Bulstrode, Blaise Zabini, and the Parkinson family (OCs)
Requests: Hidden canon moments, anything marauder era!, trio era characters who aren't the trio
Summary: A series of moments from Pansy's school years

The Parkinsons lived outside Manchester, in a sturdy stone house near Turton Moor. They had been there for generations, serving as a gateway between the manufacturers of Manchester and the magical world. The house was big, a remnant of the days when Manchester was full of factories and the Parkinsons made a killing on the influx of cheap Muggle goods. They still made a considerable amount of money in their intermediary position---the house was really a small estate, and the family as a whole controlled a number of estates in Lancashire and nearby counties---but somehow there was always the sense that they had fallen in this sorry post-industrial age. Papa was never a hard man or a cruel one, but Pansy could always see the lines on his face, and how they deepened when he mentioned his childhood, and what they'd had to sell since. Only his memories of the War---not their war, but the other war, the one in Britain and Germany and Japan---made a deeper impression on her.

Desperately, desperately, little Pansy wanted to bring them back there. Not back there, even, to the status of wealthy merchants; she wanted to bring them all to a point where they could be the idle rich, and the lines on Papa's face would not deepen so much when he discussed finances with her mother, thinking that the children had not yet come down the stairs for breakfast. And desperately, desperately, she wanted him to feel safe from the Muggle bombs. She wanted to see him smile at her, secure, and hold her hand, knowing that it was her who had done it.

She wanted to do it all, and she wanted them to be proud of her for it.

When she put the Hat on her head, it whispered to her. "For fame, for money, for love, or for glory?"

"For everything," she whispered back.

And then it shouted.

* * * * *

She might not have followed her mother into Ravenclaw, but she had followed her father into Slytherin, and his letter was as proud as could be.

* * * * *

Pansy didn't like to think of herself as a cruel girl; she never quite thought she was a bully. She felt bad, the time she teased Parvati about Neville. She hadn't meant to be mean---it was supposed to be friendly teasing. And then the Gryffindors just looked at her, and she really understood the things she'd overheard in the parlor about prejudice against Slytherins, ever since Voldemort's defeat. She was cornered, she realized, from the moment she entered Hogwarts. There was nowhere to turn other than inside her house, and so she turned inside; the Slytherins arrayed themselves against the outside world. She was safe in Slytherin, and with her house behind her she wasn't scared to show what she thought of Gryffindor and the other houses.

Still, until the incident with the Hippogriff, she had held herself back, somewhat. They were all Hogwarts students, after all, even if the Gryffindors teased and mistreated Slytherin students (she ignored the times they were provoked into it). But then they had stood by, and pretended that the Hippogriff was blameless, and she was supposed to be friendly to them? She stopped caring, then, about whether or not she was supposed to be nice to the Gryffindors---especially Potter and his friends. That bucktoothed Muggle-born was such a nightmare to have in class, jumping up and down like an overly knowledgeable jack-in-the-box.

When she hexed a Gryffindor fourth-year in the halls, Blaise pulled her aside, one of his Looks on his face. She shook his hand off her arm and walked away. "Don't be an idiot," he hissed after her.

* * * * *

That summer, her father---acting on some sort of subtle signal from her mother, who was far more perceptive than the rest of her family could even start to fathom---started taking her to the office during the day. There were numerous employees in the office, working busily for her father; one, a small, quick, dark-haired woman with big eyes and a loud laugh, took Pansy under her wing, joking with her and advising her on ways to hone her ambition.

Pansy was surprised to find out that the woman had been in Gryffindor.

"Houses aren't everything," her father said, simply, as if they should be irrelevant. Pansy frowned, thinking. She was pretty sure that they were relevant.

* * * * *

When Draco asked her to the Yule Ball, she thought she was going to faint from happiness. She made it through an evening spent in the common room, and then collapsed on her bed grinning.

"So Draco asked you?" Tracey said.

"How did you know?" Pansy asked quickly, lifting her head.

"He told Theodore he might."

"And Theodore told you?!" Pansy was not entirely displeased; she liked the idea of being the center of attention, and of her good fortune being talked about. Her mother wouldn't approve of it, though.

"He wasn't bandying it about," Tracey said with a bit of a sniff---and a blush, Pansy noticed.

"I see," she replied, smiling back.

"Just---" Tracey paused, and then came to sit next to Pansy on her bed. "There's been rumors about Draco's dad," she whispered. "About him having a hand in the thing with the Chamber of Secrets."

"They're just rumors. How could it be possible? He was never at Hogwarts when the attacks happened."

"Possible or not," Tracey said, "he's his father's son. You know all the other rumors, too."

"Why should I care if he was involved, anyway? Serves those Mudbloods right. All they do is cause trouble for us; they've no wizarding pride, they don't understand anything about our way of life." Pansy thought about the time she woke up in the middle of the night to hear her father screaming as he dreamed about bombs falling on the house; thought about Granger, running her mouth off in a way that no right-minded pureblood girl ever would; thought about the Weasley kids' father, too fascinated by and concerned about Muggles to do his real job: policing the economic pathways between the wizarding and Muggle worlds. Her smile thinned. She looked up, and saw Tracey looking askance at her.

Tracey. Her father was a Muggle-born.

"I'm sorry, Tracey. I know---not all Muggle-borns are like---I just---"

Tracey shook her head and went back over to her own bed. "Just be careful, Pansy."

* * * * *

A letter from her father accompanied the necklace he'd sent her for the ball. She carried it in the bodice of her robes, a lucky talisman.

* * * * *

The owl that carried her fifth-year letter to her was a big eagle owl, and looked so much like Draco's that it startled her. She squealed when she opened the letter and the prefect badge fell out. "Mummy!" she yelled. Her mother came running, alarmed, and snatched the letter from her in a panicked way.

"No---it's fine, Mum, it's great, I'm a prefect!"

Her mother gave out a great sigh. "You scared me, Pansy!"

"I'm sorry, Mum," Pansy said quietly. The whole summer had been quiet. Scared, really. Her family was well-connected enough to know that Harry Potter's claims about the Triwizard Cup were real, no matter how much the Daily Prophet denounced them. Her father's wealth and business knowledge of the Muggle world could make him valuable to the Death Eaters, and every noise now made her mother jump, as if terrified that the Death Eaters had already come recruiting.

"It's okay, Pansy. And I'm so proud of you---that's so well done. We'll have to get you something extra special at Diagon Alley, as a treat."

A second eagle owl---Draco's owl---came in as her mother spoke. She knew then that Draco must be the other prefect; there would be no other reason for him to send an owl today. It was her turn to write, after all.

"Oh, Mum, look!" she said, holding out Draco's letter, with its fine, careful handwriting; it was brief, but it said that he was a prefect and he hoped (and was sure) that she was too. She couldn't help but glow as she read it.

Her mother's eyes darkened. "That's very nice for your friend, Pansy. And I'm glad that he thinks well of you and has confidence in you."

Pansy glanced sideways at her mother. Her mother caught the look. "It's not the boy, Pansy. You know what I'm talking about. Step carefully around that family."

* * * * *

Her parents waved her off at the train, urging her to study hard for her O.W.L.s, and to come back safe and sound.

* * * * *

Umbridge was a distasteful, horrible woman, but Pansy got a taste of power through her.

She liked it.

They were going to do things, big things, things that would change the world and make things easier. What were books, next to the things that they would do?

When Pansy brought in a group of rule-breakers---they had been in a group of five, obviously plotting something---Umbridge sniffed and huffed them into her office. "Well done," she said turning to Pansy and dismissing her with a glance at the office door. "There are great futures ahead for those who are loyal to the Ministry."

* * * * *

She didn't get many O.W.L.s---only five, fewer than everyone in her set except Millie, Crabbe, and Goyle, who had minds like bricks, and fewer than her brainy brother. Yet, her father still beamed at her, and made much of her E in Arithmancy. He took her into his cosy study on the second floor, sat her in the leather armchair, and presented her with a set of Arithmancy books from his own school days: Chaldean Arithmancy, The Kabbalistic Turn: Gematria in the Western World and Divine Numbers: The Influence of Pythagoras.

It made her somehow feel less second-rate.

* * * * *

Draco had been so proud on the train, haughty, even. He had been selected, given a path to honor and glory.

And then she watched him, disintegrating throughout sixth year, and she began to understand true cruelty, and the real effects of unbridled power. She watched him move from proud to broken.

In the boys' dormitory, curled up together on Draco's bed, his head buried in her shoulder, he whispered: "He's going to kill me."

* * * * *

At Christmas that year, her father looked more haggard than ever. Her mother tried to cheer up the house with decorations, even making the house-elves trade their regular tea towels for ones with reindeer on them, and her brother brought home his new girlfriend to "liven things up a bit," as he said, but the lines around her father's eyes remained deep.

"Papa," she asked him on Boxing Day. "What's wrong?"

He smiled and patted her knee. "Just work worries, darling. They'll pass."

She knew, though, that he was lying to her with every word.

* * * * *

When she heard that Draco was in the hospital wing, slashed up and bleeding and almost dead, she thought that the Dark Lord really had done it.

When she found out it was Potter, she couldn't tell if the surge of emotion that ran through her was anger or relief.

"I don't understand," she whispered to Draco as he slept, bruises and cuts healing on his face.

* * * * *

She accompanied her father to work that summer, helping his Arithmancers when they had too much work and handling Floo-calls and records the rest of the time. The laughing, dark-eyed woman was gone.

"Muggle-born," someone told her when she asked. "Left for France."

Something at the core of her drifted loose, crumbled.

* * * * *

Pansy stepped onto Platform nine and three-quarters for her last train to Hogwarts. She was alone on the platform for the first time. Her mother had woken up with a fever the day before, and her father was constantly putting out fires at work. The summer spent at work with him had elucidated his troubles to her: The Ministry was putting pressure on him to cut his Muggle business connections. Her whole family understood that cutting out cheap Muggle suppliers would bankrupt the company---why couldn't the Ministry? Or, Pansy wondered, is it that they just don't care?

A year ago, she couldn't understand why he wouldn't join up with the Dark Lord. As time passed, she became gladder and gladder that they were, at least partially, at the outskirts of the whole uprising. Maybe they wouldn't get the glory, but they wouldn't be destroyed, either.

She hoped so, at least.

Her cat was mewing pitifully in his basket, and Pansy felt bile rising up in her throat as she slipped a finger under the cover to rub his nose. She'd never been at Hogwarts without Draco before, and it ate at her. Not just his absence, although she would miss him dreadfully. The winds were turning, and Draco's absence at Hogwarts was one of the pieces of paper blowing about in the gale. Snape's presence there was another.

When the lights went out on the train, and she heard vaguely familiar voices yelling Potter, Potter!, the bile settled down in her stomach as a cold, festering lump. She heard a pair of Slytherin third years in the next compartment whimper loudly over the sound of boots and voices. The weight of her prefect badge was heavy on her robes, and she felt her way into that compartment, trying to think of how her mother and father would have comforted them.

"It'll be okay," she whispered. "We're going to take care of you." She knew, as she said it, that she would be saying that a lot in the upcoming year. She threaded her fingers through the third year's.

"I'm scared," the girl said, barely audible.

"I'm between you and them," Pansy replied.

* * * * *

The mail was being searched, of course, and so the letters from her parents were bland, concern coming out only in the closing words Be safe. Her father's writing was shaky, blotted, as if distraction had permeated his entire being.

* * * * *

She'd wanted security and safety, and had thought that in some way that she was supporting those things when she supported Draco and his family and the Dark Lord. She'd thought that her voice meant something, that she was in some way working towards a greater future.

She'd been had. She'd been had, and she was seethingly angry. She knew that she had to fly under the radar, but it became harder and harder every day. Pansy started to take the blame for anything that could conceivably be put onto Tracey, who was half-blood and whose family were (unsurprisingly) not exactly supportive of the Death Eaters; her father had escaped to the Netherlands. She protected the younger students when she could, arguing carefully with the Carrows, with a sort of grim determination that they would have to go through her to get at the Slytherins. She was supposed to be studying for her N.E.W.T.s, and thinking seriously about her career, but she couldn't keep her mind on her future. There was no future, she thought, only a fierce fight through the present.

After one Dark Arts class, she felt her rage spilling over, her hand going to her wand and her lips starting to form a hex as she stared at Amycus Carrow. Practical exercise, she thought, weren't they supposed to be unafraid to hex people, even someone who was supposed to be one of their "own"? The only thing that prevented her was Millie's hand on her arm.

"Don't be daft."

"They're---they're---" Pansy couldn't express it. This was not what she wanted. They were not what she wanted. None of it was what she wanted.

"Just don't explode."

* * * * *

She hadn't gotten a letter from home in a month.

* * * * *

Two weeks later, she had a burst of accidental magic that sent Amycus Carrow to the hospital wing. Luckily, no one could trace it to her. She hid in the dormitory afterwards, shaking, trying to calm down, pretending that she was sitting in the armchair in her father's study with Divine Numbers, drinking cocoa.

"Just. Don't. Explode," she repeated to herself in the mirror that evening, eyes dark and rimmed red.

* * * * *

When the battle came, she felt like she was on fire with fear.

She could see him over there, next to his friends. In a flash, she saw the consequences if he wasn't turned in, saw the bodies of first years with blood on their green ties, her friends begging for mercy, Draco the victim of the Dark Lord's fury.

She shouted, and then regretted it immediately.

As they evacuated through the Hog's Head, she caught Blaise's eye, and he looked away immediately, as if he didn't want to be contaminated by contact with the girl who would be known as The Bitch Who Wanted To Turn Over Harry Potter. She could see it in his eyes: You're branded.

As soon as they reached the Hog's Head, she Apparated home to her parents, exhausted and crying. She banged on the locked door and yelled. Her mother's face appeared briefly at her bedroom window, and then Pansy heard two pairs of feet running towards the front door. It opened, her mother's face contorted in fright, her father's face confused and worried.

"Mum---Dad---they---" She couldn't get the words out, and fell into her mother's arms.

"Pansy, what happened?" her father asked.

"It's happening," she moaned.

Five seconds later, she wished she hadn't said it; her father had turned on his heel and Apparated away.

* * * * *

Five days later, they were crowded around the bed in St. Mungo's, her mother unable to do anything other than hold her husband's hand and talk to him, quietly, as he lay unresponsive. They said he'd fallen fighting a Death Eater; the Death Eater had blasted him with some unknown Dark spell. They didn't know if he'd make it, although the Healer said that the fact he'd lasted this long boded well. Sitting there, her mother distracted and her brother holding hands with his now-fiancee, Pansy felt useless. She made her mother eat, and brought clean clothes for her father from home, but all she could really do was sit, and watch her father's laboured breathing and the Healers murmuring diagnostic spells over him.

It was maddening.

Her mother refused to leave the hospital that night, as she had all the other nights, and so Pansy Apparated home alone. She wished that her brother still lived at home, instead of with his fiancee. It was so quiet in the house---no one was there other than the old house-elf, who kept crying when he saw Master's favorite tea cup. She walked up the stairs, thinking of the softness of her bed, and then passed her father's study. The door was cracked, and she pushed it open, wanting to bask in its tranquility.

The fire was out, but there were papers strewn over the desk, and a stained quill lay in its tray, the bottle of ink haphazardly capped and the chair pushed back at an angle. He must have been going over accounts, she thought, before he left for Hogwarts; there was no other way he would have left the study in such disarray. She choked, tears coming up in her eyes, and sat down in the chair. Even in all the unrest of the past two years, she'd never really thought of the possibility that her father might be gone---that one evening she would walk into this room and he would not be sitting there.

Absent-mindedly, Pansy picked up the accounts: the estate's accounts, divided into household expenditures and estate income and expenditures, and a bound parchment book labeled 'Estate Business Plan', containing---in addition to prose---a great deal of Arithmantic calculations. Next to the accounts were a number of statements and invoices. Sniffling, she reached for the quill. She might not be able to do anything else, she thought, but she could at least balance his accounts for him.

She dipped the quill in the inkpot and drew the nearest invoice to her. "Okay," she breathed out. She set the quill to paper. "Okay."
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alley_skywalkeralley_skywalker on December 4th, 2012 08:46 am (UTC)
This is a very interesting look at Pansy and how her views develop and change.
忘れな草: reading and researchingwasureneba on January 8th, 2013 02:05 am (UTC)
Thank you! And thank you for commenting. :)
mama_pyjamamama_pyjama on December 4th, 2012 09:07 am (UTC)
This Pansy is a real person, a complex person with a complex family. Beautifully written and an excellent character portrait.
忘れな草: reading and researchingwasureneba on January 8th, 2013 02:06 am (UTC)
Making her a real and complex person was exactly what I wanted to accomplish---I'm glad it worked for you. Thank you!
mollywheezy: Slytherin--greenmollywheezy on December 4th, 2012 02:10 pm (UTC)
Excellent portrait of Pansy! I loved seeing things from her point of view, especially why she tried to turn Harry over and how she instantly regretted it. I was most touched by her comforting the third years on the train and protecting younger students form the Carrows. Great job!
忘れな草: reading and researchingwasureneba on January 8th, 2013 02:06 am (UTC)
I've always thought that Pansy would be protective of the other Slytherins---she definitely seems to have a lot of Slytherin pride!

Thank you for commenting, and I'm glad you enjoyed it!
primeideal.dreamwidth.orgprimeideal.dreamwidth.org on December 4th, 2012 02:49 pm (UTC)
Nice worldbuilding details--Pansy's father's books sounded great, and the backstory with the Muggle war scaring him was intriguing as well.
忘れな草: reading and researchingwasureneba on January 8th, 2013 02:07 am (UTC)
Thanks! I figured that there had to be at least a few witches and wizards who were deeply affected by WWII.
alicia.: pic#110903092aliciadances on December 4th, 2012 03:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, Mystery Author! This was an absolutely LOVELY break from exam studying and so much more than I ever expected for my holidaygen gift. I don't even know where to start. First, I love the little details about the world--the idea that Slytherin itself has developed from a Malfoy-centric world to a more modern and realistic (as Blaise tries to restrain Pansy and Tracey has a muggleborn father). I love Pansy's character itself. Rowling does a good job trying to make her unredeemed by the end in every way, but what you show us is a young, scared girl who did different things for different reasons, not worse ones. The idea that she sort of became a ringleader naturally, not because she set out to be a bully is lovely. Also, the way her world falls apart in the end is heart-wrenching. This is amazing:

She could see him over there, next to his friends. In a flash, she saw the consequences if he wasn't turned in, saw the bodies of first years with blood on their green ties, her friends begging for mercy, Draco the victim of the Dark Lord's fury.

She shouted, and then regretted it immediately.

Her relationship with Draco is beautifully crafted, as is the one with her Father. You've made me want to be Pansy's friend, which is a difficult thing to do, Mystery Author. Thank you again.
忘れな草: reading and researchingwasureneba on January 8th, 2013 02:08 am (UTC)
I'm so very glad you liked it---I was hoping and hoping that it would fill in the canon in a good way!
smallbrownfrog: shadow frogsmallbrownfrog on December 4th, 2012 04:06 pm (UTC)
Beautifully written. You've taken Pansy well beyond the world of cardboard villains and painted a complex and real person navigating a complex and real world.
忘れな草: reading and researchingwasureneba on January 8th, 2013 02:08 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Elle Blessingway: HP!RPG: Pansy Parkinsonelle_blessing on December 5th, 2012 05:43 am (UTC)
This was lovely. You did a really good job at imparting her feelings, especially the dread, fear and anger toward the end. I could practically feel the heaviness, how it would choke all the air out of you. I loved the way you ended it. Maybe not happy, but very realistic ... very appropriate to the tone of the whole thing.

Great job mystery writer!
忘れな草: reading and researchingwasureneba on January 8th, 2013 02:09 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! And I'm glad I managed to get all that across. :)
DoraeAzure: Shinydoraeazure on December 6th, 2012 01:08 am (UTC)
I love the character development here. I'm very rarely a fan of Pansy, but I rather like your version of her, especially nearer the end. Very well done!
忘れな草: reading and researchingwasureneba on January 8th, 2013 02:09 am (UTC)
Thanks! :D I'm always glad to make people like Pansy.
kellychambliss: Xmaskellychambliss on December 23rd, 2012 01:52 am (UTC)
A very believable look at Pansy and her development. I like complex characterizations like this, where Pansy is given many dimensions and changes plausibly from child to a scared adolescent who has to grow up too soon. The line about her not intending to be a bully really rings true -- sometimes it is just thoughtlessness, not malice, behind kids' behavior. Her changing view of power works well, too -- yes, as a kid she'd see only its promise, but later, she sees more of the problems and costs.

My favorite section:

When she put the Hat on her head, it whispered to her. "For fame, for money, for love, or for glory?"

"For everything," she whispered back.

And then it shouted.
忘れな草: reading and researchingwasureneba on January 8th, 2013 02:11 am (UTC)
I'm glad you thought it was believable---and yeah, it's hard to imagine an eleven-year-old being as full of malice as Rowling portrays her. Intentionally mean at times, yes, but also just thoughtless and not understanding what words could do to another person.