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Posted originally on the Archive of Our Own at

Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Archive Warning: Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Category: F/F, F/M, Gen
Fandom: Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling
Relationship: Draco Malfoy & Pansy Parkinson, Pansy Parkinson & Ginny
Weasley, Pansy Parkinson/OFC, Pansy Parkinson/OMC, Padma
Patil/Pansy Parkinson, Astoria Greengrass/Draco Malfoy, Rita
Skeeter & Pansy Parkinson, Pansy Parkinson & Parvati Patil & Ginny
Character: Pansy Parkinson, Draco Malfoy, Ginny Weasley, Astoria Greengrass,
Rita Skeeter
Additional Tags: rage against the internalized misogyny machine, Slytherin
Series: Part 5 of we must unite inside her walls or we'll crumble from within
Stats: Published: 2014-09-20 Words: 4880

ugly: in defense of pansy parkinson
by dirgewithoutmusic


“Why are you here?” Parvati asked Pansy once. People asked her a lot, when they found
her in Flourish and Blotts, or at work on the Prophet. Their eyes raked her, looking for
green, for silver, for venom. Sometimes she'd smile back and let them see the danger.

"Because I'm not fifteen anymore," said Pansy. "God, do you know what precious Potter
Sr. got up to at school, the bully? But boys get to grow up to be men, you see, and us girls
just grow up to be bitches."


"And who did [Draco] marry? It wasn't Pansy right, or was it?"

JKR: "No! God, it wasn't Pansy Parkinson. I loathe Pansy Parkinson. I don't love Draco
but I really dislike her. She's every girl who ever teased me at school. She's the Anti-
Hermione. I loathe her."

with something like pride. a careful three inches between their crescent-moon spines. that was terror too. how Lily loved him and Harry stood tall in his image. .Let's talk about how Pansy Parkinson was a bully. such promise. how Hagrid bawled. "What are we doing? Do you know what we're doing?" They both knew the answer to that question. "Whatever we want. broken hearts and old tremors." She listened to the shake in his voice and thought. He felt guilty when she felt vulnerable. but he let her curl up on the other half of his bed. Tell me about the Carrows calling them into their office. No one wept for Pansy Parkinson. Pansy let her fingers freeze some mornings. "Who said we're the heroes?" said Draco." they didn't say. taking a cup of coffee from Draco and loving the warmth. him shrilling in their own defense and her rumbling their own guilt. They screamed at each other. Some nights Draco said. "I want you to have something warm to hold onto. Warmth curled in their stomachs all day long. "This isn't what I thought heroics would look like." or "What we have to." she confided. one night. the sick little noises. though she wasn't sure if it was for old deeds or for this morning. as they bumped shoulders. Let's talk about James and his carefully rumpled hair and his cruel entertainments. sighed. when she'd fled to Draco's little single room because Millicent Bulstrode had been crying herself to sleep in hers. One had a tattoo on his left forearm and the other had terror in her voice when she told her school to give up Harry Potter and save themselves. telling them about all the viscera they would come to love. insults and frequencies. panic ran the edge of it. plain and simple. some nights." and some nights he said. Millicent. cajoled. just this morning. Let's talk about how Pansy and Draco grew up at different rates. Tell me about a Pansy who plucked the Inquisitor's Squad badge off her chest with shaking fingers only in the cold comfort of her room or Draco's. how she sliced and cut with words. and swallowed the bitter liquid down. the boy's learned how to lie. How dare you? Do you remember what they did? Do you remember what we did? Do you? They swapped words. that warmth. grasping for anything that looked like safety. because they were not supposed to be warm. across mahogany dining tables and sticky pub booths. Now let's talk about James Potter. "Surviving. like a penance. They spat and screamed and brought each other coffee on cold mornings. about how good they all were. how she lied. over the years. and another something like grief. who leaned against him and whispered under the fire's crackle. For the first few years. and taunted. The ink beading Draco's skin. over words and deeds. Let's talk about how McGonagall wept for him. even you. He felt redeemable when she felt dirty. stop sniveling. She probably left some scars that never quite healed.

but only for his eyes--not for what Harry saw with them. Somehow. trimmed quill. Tell me about Pansy after the war. It was written into the very lines of her. Snape loved to oblivion. do this good. wreathed in smug contempt. or loved. He stood so much more rigidly than he had known how to at Hogwarts. or saved. old friends' country homes. when her fellow Slytherins went scarce and silent. All her life the point of Pansy had been her sharp eye and crueller tongue. He remade his Patronus in her image. to odd jobs. by her careful notes. I'm thrilled to see what you can accomplish from the other side of the reporter's notebook. Malfoy Sr. Pansy took the shoebox and its contents out to the dumpster and then washed her hands in the ." Ms. Severus saved his life. Skeeter had taken her clumsy thrusts. sharpened them.You do not get to redeem forty year old stalkers on the grace of their undying obsessions and then leave young women out to rot. When the Prophet called her back in for a second round of interviews. "It's amazing what people miss when they don't have their eyes open. She had fed her lies and Ms. Pansy had fed Ms. Skeeter appreciated her creativity but she also liked the kind of places a name like Parkinson got you into. and a professor--a teacher--an adult who terrorizes children who cannot escape him. and tossed them out into the headlines. all the little ways she was trying to do this well. She did not know what else she was good for." Pansy pointed out. Skeeter on assignments and interviews." Ms. Someone left a dead rat in a shoebox on Pansy's desk and she remembered Granger being sent letters stuffed full of pus. Snape is redeemed." Pansy got hot drinks for writers and editors and trailed after Ms. Ms. She clung to the usefulness of her name. Skeeter said fondly. or said. There is a difference between a teenaged girl spitting words no crueler than her Head of House's. Matted grey fur. or what he did. she found a strong-boned woman with a bright green quill waiting for her. so she applied at the Daily Prophet. when the DA flocked to the Aurors and their own dreams. except when circumstances needed her to fling it away. There is a difference between a bully and a Death Eater. For this. Draco popped around. had a friend or three on the Prophet's Board of Directors even now. "So creative. this saved him. about Hermione Granger and Potter and Weasley. Skeeter stories once. but Pansy could feel him shaking apart. "Going through other people's garbage isn't exactly on the same level as open eyes. Pansy didn't begrudge. Pansy Parkinson drifts on the page. too. "You were one of my favorite interviewees during the Triwizard Tournament. for this. Snape never forgave Harry for his father's sins. but because of their color. to delirium. Skeeter said. right there.

Sirius Black hated Snivellus Snape until the day he toppled through a veil. in the end. "No. Draco opened a gaping hole into Hogwarts halls. who claw their way out. privileged. Ginny Weasley (Sports section reporting. We are asking you to give her the dignity of considering her life worth living. at sixteen. She blinked to see Pansy standing there. They did not abuse Severus Snape for his future political affiliations. "They're clean enough by now. This is a far cry from forgiveness. Sirius. He had their sympathy. because Hermione felt wounded and she wanted someone else to bleed. but she left a lot more things in her wake than a blushing Ron and Draco Malfoy's broken nose. you're wasting water. He killed Cedric. Marietta cried herself to sleep at night. Severus was Snivellus. but we are not asking you to call her a hero. let us give her a story. was easy. She critically assessed a poppy seed bagel and then selected a sesame one. He was defeated and he was saved. as rich. . and so he died beloved. he repented and he had our pity. "Was it you?" Pansy said. Luna's father was willing to spend three lives to save Luna's. intern. So was Sirius." Pansy was still washing her hands. was greasy and weak and outcast. swallowed. smashed a Petrified Harry's nose in--but he was given sympathy." said Ginny. She meant it to be permanent. sneered and spat and cowered. Let's give her not their excuses--there are never excuses--but let's give her their reasons--there are always reasons. present article: professional Gobstones drama) came in to filch some stale bagels from the editors' morning meeting leftovers. snotty. named her sneak when she should have spelt out child. But in the end. Hermione was not a bully. "Hey. Turn it off. her shoulders shaking just slightly. because she had thought now I know how Granger felt and then felt sick. almost became a murderer using Remus's unwilling teeth. She meant it to scar. "If it was me. It was not brave. I'd have signed it. a best friend. Hermione wrote Marietta's fears out across her pretty face." The DA's general tore off a big bite." said Ginny. about choice. about growth. sixteen and terrified of a brave little girl with bushy hair and a knack for curses. as privileged. There is a long tradition of wayward children swallowed whole by dark things. brash and warm. "I see you got a present this morning. and simple. So let's give Pansy a family as black as Sirius's. This is not a request for sympathy. sixteen and terrified for her mother." James Potter was a bully. Parkinson. all the things they had been taught to hate. People had cursed Granger for petty lies (Pansy's lies). Hermione Granger saved the world. but Sirius was a godfather. chewed. He died mourned. Peter Pettigrew betrayed his friends.Pansy took the shoebox and its contents out to the dumpster and then washed her hands in the break room sink. Let's give her one as old as James's. But in this tall tale about change. She was a hero. and here people were hating Pansy for things she had actually done. as arrogant. Pansy offered up one boy for hundreds of souls. She'd used cold water.

prone to crying fits and wet-eyed earnest apologies. his hands easy and open. to false doors Alecto and Amycus had never found. talked about narcissus and belladonna. smirking at the whites of Draco's eyes. It was as thoughtlessly loyal as Hermione counting the stresses in Harry's spine and heading to the library. walked him through. stumble. and apparently that meant these ones too: the ones she tucked behind paintings and slipped to little Hufflepuffs. Astoria's rambling townhouse was as scattered as the Weasley's Burrow. She had spent her summers building false backs to closets with her father's toolkit. the way his shoulders are carefully not hunched. She balanced him on her lap. two years younger than them. She was the seventh person to hold little Scorpius. Pansy took the red. Pansy remembered her. Pansy was in the waiting room. Pansy watched Draco circle. to blind drops behind paintings. Astoria knew all the words to say." "You think I don't know that. Pansy could see him bracing for it. Pansy offered up his life in trade." They fought about it until Astoria took Pansy out to dinner one day. She had no practice and no coin to call her to war. talked about eaves and awnings. Pansy? You don't get scrubbed clean. all her life. He expected her to slam the door in his face. wallpapering them over. to the bullies. Astoria knew all the words. Pansy held her breath for him. but you can still build on this. Let's talk about how whenever Draco was injured. "You don't get scrubbed clean by stuff like that. admiring his tuft of white blond hair and trying to find a way to tease Draco about it. her hands that had bits of ink rubbed off on them and his lack of fine motor control telling some kind of story here. When Scorpius Malfoy was born. after his parents and each set of grandparents. "Astoria is not your absolution. pink and screaming. panicked for reasons she didn't quite say. Pansy stopped worrying. while Draco was busy pouring apologies and stubbornness onto the doormat. Pansy would rush to his side and offer aid. As the years went on. was lost. This was what made her terrified. rather than pity. She was not one of Dumbledore's Army's soldiers. Three months before he asked her to marry him Astoria took Draco to the parts of Hogwarts that had been corded off as unsafe. The Greengrasses were only barely becoming comfortable with being in the same room as Narcissa and Lucius. not even Draco Malfoy. or disgust. Astoria would not allow anyone to treat her like absolution.Harry went. I don't care how softly she holds your hand." she snapped. She made this into sympathy. but Harry took the deal. squinting blob. She went with Draco when he knocked on the door of the family Tonks and asked his Aunt Andromeda if she'd care to take tea with him. Astoria never stepped foot in the Room of Requirement. warnings and secrets and answers. and showed him all its secrets. . This was what made him a hero. to the Carrows. was scared. later. She was one of its spies and she carried that with her. She took Draco's hand. Astoria had been a weepy little thing at Hogwarts. She took pictures of his panic to coo over with Astoria. fall for Astoria Greengrass.

Ginny was telling a story. Pansy walked down the street. Your conscience will never look like mine." Pansy started going out to drink with Parvati Patil. only grey. They lay out on hot rocks and soak in the sun. calling out. The nurse shooed them out. got where she was going. or even mounds. shunned. put one foot in front of the other. They become the temperature of their environment. and thought. soon enough. but this might have been the moment. bodies slipping together. Pansy walked down the street and felt vilified. and she didn't notice until Astoria pointed it out. You give them pieces of you. She showed Pansy every scar she'd ever gotten. threw them out at her like old wounds weren't vulnerabilities but plate armor. But we were all children. This was not advice. breathed in. not quite yet. This was not about Pansy. For one whole year Pansy wore grey. just brim and brim and brim. swallow it whole." Ginny said once. They don't sweat it out like mammals. They weren't friends yet. or kindly do-gooders who wanted to reform her evil ways. They're waking up. and as they went. a brittle sound. She felt indignant about it the first year. "Sometimes they make you feel alone. She walked down the street and felt attacked. skirted the edges of streets. at twenty-four. about how people stared. Let's talk about how Pansy walked down Diagon Alley. "It's tempting. A lot of peope had tried to give Pansy advice over the years. felt like a villain. which wasn't something she had ever expected. I must not tell lies. to become the center of too many photographs. scales holding close." said Ginny. "Bad people sometimes have kind voices. to listen to hate. after winter. like they're the only people you can trust. to call them cunning. and Ginny laughed. until Ginny bought her a bright green scarf for Christmas. let them in--but you are still responsible for the things you do. she walked down the street and kept on walking. wrinkly creature. Snakes are cold-blooded. She felt like they had a right to stare and maybe they did. a gala to crash quietly. to nestle against an exhausted Astoria. One day when she was twenty-seven. You will not be stranded among cruelties and asked to swallow them whole. You'll find little knots of snakes sometimes. steaming in the cold air. Pansy gazed back over her shoulder at the sleeping. an interview to get to. She felt condemned the second.They took him back. We all thought the world was simpler than it was. over stale biscotti left over from the editors' meeting and a fresh pot of tea. "ex"- Death Eaters who thought she was as pansy as her name. She told Ginny Weasley this. You will understand. to vomit them back. shoulders huddled. .

and let the freezing water run over her hands. But Pansy liked the way your thoughts could spread out into the quiet. "God. One day the girl would take Pansy home to her parents. We could call it salvation." We could give her a love story. She smirked when Pansy opened the package. some days. alone. opening up under the grey sky. Their eyes raked her. They swapped packed lunches. whose sly wit was only improving with age. and after. three years of going out hiking alone in the hills on Saturday mornings. Ginny got Pansy a small children's Muggle science textbook. The noise was endless. said. They take out your heart and weigh it against a feather. "Because I'm not fifteen anymore." For Christmas. Pansy went out walking. Pansy's tongue was swollen with a childhood of cruel words. and Padma. the way it kept rolling and rolling on. sweated and cursed." said Pansy. (Pansy read it in INTRO TO WORLD CULTURES. watching to see which way the scales tipped. “Why are you here?” Parvati asked her once. looking for. inhaled. but it saved him first. got up to at school. looking for green.They had grown up together. let them see the danger. stumbling into. someday. do you know what precious Potter Sr. Pansy wrapped it in brown paper and read it on lazy Saturdays. Maybe she fell in love like a bag of bricks. Maybe Pansy fell in love. reading it. She was certain of the outcome at three in the morning. and running into. but she swallowed. slipping easily among a thousand smooth stones. Ginny came out with them. you see. There is an Egyptian story about entering the afterlife. and us girls just grow up to be bitches. Falling in love saved James Potter. Ginny didn't understand walking when you could fly. Draco didn't comprehend such athletic endeavours. and always. and change. the splash and murmur of it. waiting for a girl with a ball cap and a purple backpack. Her childhood had been full of such pointed noises. James loved Lily and it made him brave. their electric stove and television. Water is life. People asked Pansy a lot. She found little creeks in the wrinkles of hills. On long nights. over a beer. the way the low hills rolled out and away from you. frozen. when they found her in Flourish and Blotts. too. a little brightly illustrated Muggle textbook that Ginny got her for her birthday). and then at eleven they had grabbed on to different colors and swaddled themselves in them. the bully? But boys get to grow up to be men. Pansy felt like she was standing. for venom. grew close. Water is life and Slytherin sleeps sound beneath the lake. breathless. but even by then Pansy knew Ginny did everything on purpose. or at work on the Prophet. if this was what it felt like to ten year old Muggleborns. their kind smiles. She stared up at the ceiling and listened to the lump of concrete in her chest beat. Maybe it elevated her sharp tongue. Maybe it was slow. . She wondered. in the end. she stopped waiting. Sometimes she'd smile back. carving chasms in broad plains over centuries. for silver. too. cold nights. the day a letter arrived by owl. "I'm so very pleased to meet you. her and the twins and all their pureblooded playmates. It killed him. would always be standing.

Maybe she kissed Padma Patil in the coat room of her first art show. . When they sent him out to cover Hermione Granger's love life and fashion tips. He turned articles on cute little artisan food festivals into pieces on the way half-troll children were subsisting on potatoes and rice three streets over. They go on one last walk together. Pansy never looks at trees the same again. Pansy aborted a snort in the packed conference room.Or maybe there is no hiker. Skeeter found scandals in people's glances. to listen to their wheezes and snores. Love is a power. She listened to their breathing. an opera. about holding precious things in your palms. and let's make it herself. Ms. She was a godmother and she loved. They breathed. The editors didn't know what they'd gotten into now. She did not borrow the grace of a lover until her own goodness bloomed in her chest. or maybe she loved all of them. A snake sheds a skin because she is moving on. Or maybe that love falls apart--Pansy is kinder now. Maybe they taught her things. so let's give Pansy a lover. You do. Maybe it tasted delicious on her tongue. Love is a power. how the pure still flocked together. So let's give her a love worth dying for. Maybe it was a journalism intern. They part slowly and they both cry all the way home. she bought broomsticks and teased and comforted. late at night. a children's choir concert and he wrote about the whispered conversations in box seats. but they've grown in different ways. but this is not what saved her. maybe. Let's tell a story where no one saved her soul. She listened to her own. through old hills. Maybe she never loved them. about goodbyes. A snake sheds her skin. ran her fingers over the scars on the back of Padma's hand. their hands brushing. James Potter was saved by a love. Love is an old magic in any universe. knew them. Maybe it helped her. She listened. the old broken bones. sleeves tugged down over their wrists. She did not inhale the protagonists' pity like it was any kind of gift. bitter girl and felt nauseous. It wasn't that they were breathing. She took careful notes on her technique. but that's not the point. We could give her a love story and call it salvation. They sent him out to cover a play. too. They made her remember that the heart is a muscle. We could say they saved her life but we would be lying. yes. but it does not save your soul. over the cracked lines of her palm. a young man in the lifestyle department but thirsting for the front page. Pansy watched her nudge half-truths from some poor. Maybe his fire kindled something in her. clenching and clawing its way to life. those nights when her ribs were filled with concrete. worth fighting for and lying for and repenting. A snake sheds her skin because she has grown too big for it. to different needs. that they were there--that matters. putting those two in a room together with a quill. This is not about deceit. listened to their breathing late at night. but it is not enough. the whispers of the jealous. That's not the reason. They were alive and so was she. about all the ways someone can catch your breath. She listened to their breathing. Let's give her a love worth living for. calmer.

hold the world accountable to its foulest truths. The foundations of their very world were shaking now. snapped photos. In the aftermath. It just makes them warm. Pansy had watched them write it. She had been a young girl once. found sins and hung them up in alleys like stained sheets. They started called her a bulldog. It does not make your hands clean. be hard. in a house where guests were allies first and friends second. don't you think?" Pansy asked. "Follow in her footsteps. every speck of it. Ms. She tore apart Borgin and Burkes' shady practices. but then she never did. She drank tea in the breakroom with Ginny and burned her hatemail. Pansy found half-truths and kept looking. watch and wait and write. Skeeter dug out jealousies and called them malice. "Are you really going to do this?" Ginny asked. over and over again in . the way the young ones eyed corner offices. She had been cruel all her life. She wrote them up with her quill sharpened to a knife point. quills scratching paper scratching hands. They should be afraid of her coming. where words meant many things. tainted ones. It was true. She grinned at the thought. found more. delicious ones. When it hit the presses. It was an old name for little pug-faced Pansy Parkinson. Pansy wondered what was exchanging hands. When she sank her teeth into something she didn't let go. She would never be soft. but she could do this. The story here is this: a girl with a sharp tongue learns to sharpen it. Skeeter gathered things that were not quite lies and spun and spun and spun them until they were. and there was nothing ugly in the expression. She would not hold her tongue for any grace. Your hands will never be empty. Skeeter looked for love affairs. for the people with power or for the ones she loved. not seeming particularly interested in the answer. built anew. Ms. and put them together to make something whole. Ms. Pansy looked for the way old Ministry men exchanged glances across rooms.They went to parties. Decide what to do with that. wheedled information out of the cleaning staff using every trick Ms. They went to galas and cornered people cheerfully in cafes with Rita's green quill and Pansy's black one. found coincidence and turned it scandalous. It was a game in its way--who can seem to care less? "Yes. to stakeouts and picnics. with every fluttered eyelash her mother had ever taught her. This is your heart. just as casual." "I'd be good at it. Skeeter had ever pulled out of her hat. set politicians out to roast. she hoped they bled. Skeeter pulled juicy quotes from people's lips and Pansy peeled away. Love is not enough. where things exchanged hands. be sharp. Ginny got into screaming rows with her louder coworkers and smoking ones with the subtler. It was vicious. She lurked. Ms." said Ginny. the columnist and her shadow. things were being torn down. This is your life.

but she knew this fear had lived in the back of so many people's throats. it gathers. She swallowed them down and imagined them in Ginny's wry drawl. Evaporation. tittered curses and polite. a sharp edge. She had been eleven. the little brat. But some days the young Malfoys sat on Pansy's apartment carpet and Scorpius screamed and toppled. and end up curled up into a ball between Astoria and Draco. Sometimes you cannot sleep alone. the water in the morning fog. You have been. screaming joy. Precipitation. she was still breathing. She couldn't run away from that. she knew. something that would steal her soul for the rest of her days. and Draco had had Crabbe and Goyle sneak her chicken soup from the kitchens. Condensation. Pansy washed her hands in cold water. She wanted to scream back. that this was not new. it falls. In her first year. This is a story about growth perhaps more than it has ever been about forgiveness. with grief and terror. Parvati and Padma and their two different types of hard edges. "The water that flooded the Bering Strait millennia ago is the same water that you water your lawn with.fifth year. She reached for memory and realized that she hadn't heard Draco spit those syllables out in years. instead of easy targets. mocked Pansy's elegant espresso while she poured hot milk and honey into her own chamomile. Them. but this was still her life. Pansy didn't know what the Bering Strait was. She was turning them other places now. A decade later. the steam from your tea. She had watched them." said the little textbook Ginny had given her. for hot sips of tea. You will be so many things. Pansy would show up at Malfoy Manor some nights. watching Draco pretend aloofness. You have been so many things. That was the point of her. on bad days. Pansy went home and heard things drop from her parents' lips. Her core held no light. She was unkind. Sometimes you cannot breathe alone. she had gotten an awful cold. Water flies. with its opulent guest rooms and reclining couches. She had cradled the steaming bowl in her hands and breathed deep. with knowing. useful ones. She felt guilty. Pansy had Ginny to smirk at in long meetings. homesick and having nightmares every night that the lake might crash through the walls of the dormitory. the miles of falling water hurling down at her head. murmured slurs. You will be. a chill down your spine. her life into. looked up past the drops slamming her cheeks and into the depths above. This was the warmest she would ever be. . the cruel barbs she'd spat out all her life. but she knew. She was supposed to be cold. Ginny was a smug early riser. watching Astoria light up with glee at his upturned nose. shrieking things they couldn't take back. Pansy turned her face up into the rain. but they were here. She felt the acrid taste of each of them on her tongue. and she had work at her fingertips--something to dig her hands into. I must not tell lies. pride and victory. or maybe they'd have a fight tomorrow. She and Draco had had a fight yesterday. and they would be back. right now.

secrets and tip offs tucked inside.She got ink on her cheek and she got chased out of businesses. parties that wanted to be discrete. She started getting manila envelopes dropped at her desk. at her front door. When rats showed up in shoeboxes on her doorstep she grinned. and sharpened her quill. fed them to the alley cats. Please drop by the archive and comment to let the author know if you enjoyed their work! . Ministry buildings.