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07 January 2008 @ 05:26 pm
Transfigurations: Part Two  

Title: Transfigurations

Rating: PG

Total Word Count: 11,900

Author Note: a response to a prompt from the [info]omniocular November Challenge 95. The Ministry tries to eliminate evil by sending all Slytherins to Azkaban for life immediately after sorting.  With many thanks to LilyAyl for betaing – any remaining mistakes are all mine.

Summary: Hogwarts reopens in September as usual, but it hasn't yet been fully repaired following the battle in May. The lower levels are flooded, so the Ministry helpfully arranges alternative accommodation for Slytherin students. As the 'temporary' solution starts to become a more permanent one the Slytherins and their new Head of House try fighting back. 

Part Two: Cold Water and Connections

"I am here to see Minister Quirke, who I am told is in charge of Minister Rycroft who is, according to official correspondence between him and the Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, in charge of Mr Harlow," Pansy said heatedly.

"Do you have an appointment?" the secretary to Minister Quirke asked.

"No I do not have an appointment. It is seven-thirty in the morning, my first class is due to start in an hour and a half, I have students living in Azkaban and I am here to see the Minister."

"I'm sorry, but you'll have to make an appointment."

Pansy considered turning the woman into a flobberworm.

"Fine. I'll be here tomorrow morning, at the same time."

~*~

It was a Wednesday morning and Pansy was cold. That was what happened when there was no hot water, because Azkaban was a prison and what use was hot water in a prison?

The students seemed to treat the whole thing like an adventure and if they weren't all fully awake they had at least all been present in the common room section of their new living quarters by 7.15am. Pansy was sure the novelty would wear off quickly. It had worn off for her the minute she realised that the shower in her private bathroom didn't have an alterable temperature setting.

For now she poured herself a large cup of coffee and tried not to think about what would happen to the novelty factor if they found out that they were currently living in Azbakan. Some of them were living in the same building as family members they'd been happy to get away from, for Merlin's sake.

But she wasn't thinking about that. She was spreading jam on a piece of toast.

Next to her Trelawney mumbled something about strawberry jam being inauspicious, or some such nonsense, before an owl delivery bounced off the woman's glasses.

Pansy snatched at the letter, which narrowly missed falling in her coffee, and glared at the scrawled address: Professor Pansy Parkinson, United Kingdom. Then she glared at the message.

They're saying you've sent yourself to Azkaban. What's going on?

Please write to me.

Draco

Pansy caressed the parchment with the tip of her wand and set it alight, letting it fall into her mug before the flames reached her fingers.

~*~

Pansy hadn't been lying when she said she'd been an excellent tutor, but she wasn't stupid enough to think that teaching an entire class would be the same. After receiving her contract she'd spent the rest of the summer going over her old notes, textbooks and a few extra books she'd collected over the years trying to work out a plan of action.

If her first class on her first day wasn't amazing it wasn't a disaster either and her plan carried her though to lunch with only 23 house points deducted, but so far she'd only faced a first year Hufflepuff-Ravenclaw class and second year Gryffindor-Hufflepuff, none of whom tested her authority more than they would of any other new teacher.

She dreaded the seventh year classes. And fifth year Slytherin-Gryffindor.

She spent most of lunch in her new office at the back of the classroom. She was fairly certain that Heads of House had their own separate offices, linked to their living quarters if her memories of Snape's office were anything to go by, but now wasn't the time to complain. Now was the time to fit in and figure out how things worked.

Pansy wondered how many people outside of Slytherin would list 'patience' as a virtue of her House.

Professor McGonagall obviously hadn't had time to empty her old office at the back of the Transfigurations classroom. The desk was cleared and the bookcase behind it was empty, but another bookcase by the door had only one empty shelf and a few gaps. Pansy spotted the 'Guide to Advanced Transfiguration' from her NEWT studies as well as 'Theories of Transubstantial Transfiguration' and a dictionary of classical runes.

A cabinet next to a small sink held boxes of parchment detailing past lesson plans, student reports and test results as well as a large collection of matches, teapots and buttons. On top was an empty cage lined with shredded paper that on closer inspection appeared to come from the Daily Prophet.

The first thing she did was look up her own test results and report.

The second was to clean out the empty cage.

Then she took out the box marked 'lesson plans', settled herself at her desk and started to read.

~*~

"I understand that the thought of living in a prison must be distressing for you, Miss Parkinson, but surely living in a flooded dungeon would be worse. And, of course, there are no longer any dementors stationed at Azkaban."

Minister Quirke was Mr Harlow only fatter with a twitchy mustache. He also had yet to offer her a seat, let alone a cup of tea, which was uncivilised as well as impolite. It made Pansy want to respond in kind.

"So you admit that placing dementors there was a mistake."

"Everyone is entitled to a mistake."

"And the Ministry's is a history of placing the wrong groups in Azkaban."

"Are you implying that dementors are less than evil? That they, of all groups, do not deserve to be imprisoned? Or are you referring to the many Death Eaters that have recently been convicted?" Quirke raised an eyebrow in an expression that wouldn't have registered on the Snape Scale of Intimidation.

"Wasn't it reported in the Prophet this week that Sirius Black is being pardoned posthumously?" she retorted. Standing in front of his desk made her feel like a teenager being called to task, which was probably Quirke’s intention.

"During times of war decisions must be made and they must always be made with the balance being in favour of the safety and protection of the majority. Sirius Black was believed to be a Death Eater, there was no exonerating evidence and, quite honestly, whether or not he was actually guilty no longer matters since he can no longer be inflicted on the general public regardless."

"Are you telling me that a group of students - a group of Hogwarts students - are a danger to the general public?" Pansy glared. "Are you calling a group of children 'evil'?"

"Children grow up."

"Perhaps we should place everyone who has been in Slytherin House in Azkaban then, if adults are the ones who are the threat." She straightened her back and folded her arms. "Yes, let's do that. Let's throw half the Ministry in prison."

"The public are concerned, which is only natural. The idea of isolating a cause of that concern was brought before a sub-council of the Wizengamot, who proposed the current situation. This was put to and signed by the acting Head of the Wizengamot. Democracy at work." Quirke leaned back languidly in his chair. "You are over-reacting, Miss Parkinson. Clearly you have an issue with trusting the Ministry."

"The Ministry that denied the Dark Lord had returned? The Ministry that endorsed Umbridge? The Ministry that was taken over by the Dark Lord's minions last year? That Ministry?" She sneered. "I wonder why."

"This is a new Ministry, Miss Parkinson."

"It's the old Ministry suffering from a brief scourgify."

"I apologise if we are not yet up to your standards, but this is the situation as it currently stands. And I believe that currently," he smirked, "you are listed as living with Mr Goyle, are you not, Miss Parkinson?"

Pansy leaned forward and planted both hands on his desk, palms down, in a very unladylike pose. "If the next words out of your mouth include 'scandal', 'den of sin' or the equivalent I'm going to hex you."

"Good day, Miss Parkinson."

And that was the end of her second visit to the Ministry.

~*~

The rest of the day could be summed up by one hundred house points deducted. Indiscriminately.

~*~

She had the hour before dinner free, so at least two hours free if she missed the evening meal and wanted to be back in time for the portkey to Azakaban. Not that she was in a rush to return, especially when the impression she received from Quirke was that it wasn't going to be 'temporary' stay.

When Greg owled asking how things were going she told him to start cooking.

Dinner was pasta with red sauce. It wasn't exactly up to House Elf standards, but it tasted okay. There was a small bowl of grated cheese in the middle of the table and a cheap bottle of wine.

Pansy raised an eyebrow. "What's the occasion?"

"I got a job today." Greg smiled at her as she sat down. "It's lifting things. Magical things that can't be lifted with magic in case it damages them."

She smiled back at him.

"And I wrote to Draco."

"For someone who hates writing you do that an awful lot." She focussed on the food.

"I told him about you going to the Ministry."

"Fine."

"He says that was 'very Gryffindor' of you."

Pansy stabbed at her pasta and chewed.

~*~

"We do things through connections," Pansy's mother had told her when she was seven. It was Yule and she hadn't wanted to go to the Avery's where pink was frowned upon and the adults talked over her head. "Social networking," her mother said, "makes the world go round."

The problem was that the member's of Pansy's social network had recently become rather limited in what they could achieve. The Pureblood class that she had been raised within was being shunned, or at least publicly shunned. Unfortunately, whilst the older generation would understand the distinction they would be reluctant to ally themselves with someone of her untried age. People her own age would be useless. Most of them had little power and many had left the country.

At the end of May, Theo had invited her to his family's summer home in Spain. She'd declined and hadn't been surprised when he failed to return for the NEWTS. Others used 'seeing the world before settling down' as an excuse. In truth there was nothing left for them at home since no one wanted to be associated with anyone that might have in any way been linked to the Death Eater organisation.

To Pansy's disgust having been a member of Slytherin House was enough to be 'linked'. It had been difficult enough finding a job and now she needed to find an ally with the ability to put pressure on the Ministry.

In the absence of an ally, she'd settle for a colleague, which is how she came to be making a formal complaint to the Headmistress.

"No, I wasn't aware that a quarter of my students were currently living in Azkaban." McGonagall rubbed at the purple smudges under her eyes before adjusting her glasses. "Is safety a problem? Is the area assigned to the students accessible anyone from the prison or vice versa?"

"It's not accessible to anyone unless they're Mr Harlow and His Wonderful Portkey." Pansy tried to make it sound more like a valid complaint than senseless mithering. "If there was an accident I would be unable to seek medical help or take a student to a medical facility. There is no way to leave in an emergency and no means by which to send a message."

"I can ask Mr Harlow to find somewhere else for the students to stay, but the lower levels are still not an option."

"Even if we could spread them around Hogsmeade, perhaps some in the Three Broomsticks, that would be better."

"And cause more work and hassle." She sighed. "Do the students know that they're living in Azkaban?"

"Not at the moment."

"Let's keep it that way, and I'll see what I can do."

Pansy smiled gratefully at the older witch, then hurried off to safeguard her classroom against the fifth year Slytherin-Gryffindors. Pulling half-transfigured hedgehogs out of the walls was not something she wished to repeat.

Neither was a conversation with Hermione Granger, but then she couldn't recall ever having had a conversation with the woman, per se, so it probably didn't count as a repeat.

'Connections' was a plural word and Pansy had never been one to place all her bets on one player. As a close friend of the Boy Who Lived, Granger was bound to wield some clout at a political level and the Weasley Professor had even mentioned that she had an interest in politics. Surely someone who had made such a fuss about the rights of House Elves would align themselves against students being sent to Azkaban, even if the person asking for the aligning was a Slytherin.

Pansy had never been near the Muggle Studies classroom before, but she hadn't managed to catch Granger at lunch and living in the wizarding prison was not conductive to social time. She'd dismissed her fifth year class early and come to wait outside Granger's door.

The corridor was lined with a type of glossy parchment advertising books she'd never heard of, mounted newspaper clippings with pictures that didn't move even when she poked at them and signs saying "no smoking", "pedestrian crossing" and "please queue here". The classroom door had a brass plague engraved with 'Here be Dragons'. Pansy was still trying to figure out how dragons fit into the muggle world when the students came pouring out.

Granger followed a few minutes later, tripping over a kind of cloth sausage in the doorway.

"What is that?" Pansy asked.

"Draft excluder." Granger brushed off her robe then looked up. "Oh. You."

Pansy wasn't quite sure what the correct response to that was.

"I was wondering if I could have a word with you."

"Here's a word: no." The bushy-haired woman turned her back and started walking off down the corridor.

"You don't even know what I'm going to say yet," Pansy called after her.

Granger paused and twisted her upper body to reply, not bothering to turn completely around and face her. "You could start with an apology."

"For what?"

"Oh, I don't know. For trying to offer Harry to Voldemort on a plate."

Pansy flinched at the name and Granger smiled viciously.

"I wasn't trying to get Potter killed."

"Why not? Malfoy tried to kill Professor Dumbledore."

"They were threatening to kill his parents." Pansy yanked up the left sleeve of her robe and the blouse sleeve beneath it. "Look, no dark mark! Does that count for anything?"

"Can you honestly say you've never cast an Unforgivable?"

"It was a war, Granger, everyone was casting Unforgivables! If you were in the Dark Arts class last year you either cast them or had them cast on you." She glared. "Not that you'd know about that. You left before seventh year even started. What gives you the right to criticise those of us who left in May?"

"This isn't about leaving, it's about - "

"I didn't come here to talk about leaving or Potter," Pansy spat, interrupting her rudely. "Do you know where the students in my House are living right now? Azkaban. And don't you dare say that they deserve it! There are first years sleeping in a prison, Granger. I know Slytherins aren't House Elves that you can SPEW for, but at least two of them are muggleborn, if that counts for anything."

"Since when does Slytherin accept anything other than Purebloods?"

"Tracey Davis and Millicent Bulstrode. Remember them? Our year, Slytherin House, halfbloods. Millie joined the duelling club in second year because she didn't know enough magic to defend herself. Why did you think she launched herself at you like some muggle?"

"Fine." Granger folded her arms. "What do you want?"

Pansy took a deep breath in through her nose. "The Ministry is forcing a quarter of the school's students to live in Azkaban -"

"Does the Headmistress know?"

"Yes."

"Then I fail to see why you're talking to me," Granger said flatly and left, although it looked like she did so reluctantly.

Pansy stared after her for a moment in irritation then headed to the bathroom to see her third 'connection', specifically the generally avoided girl's bathroom on the second floor.

"If you've come to throw things through me I shall scream," a plump transparent figure declared from her perch on top of a toilet cistern as Pansy swung open the door.

"At least that would be an improvement on crying," Pansy retorted.

Myrtle's bottom lip wobbled. "Don't be mean."

"I have no intentions of being mean." Pansy smiled widely. "Actually, I was hoping that you could help in the grand Hogwarts rebuilding effort. Various people, including people from the Ministry, have been trying to solve the flooding problem in the lower levels, but it's been a rather pathetic attempt. As the expert on the school's plumping system and water ways, I thought that you might be up to the task."

"So you're only here because you want something. I'm not stupid you know. You're not going to trick me into doing your job for you."

"I wouldn't dream of trying to outsmart a Ravenclaw." Pansy leaned back facing the toilet cubicles, the cold porcelain of a sink digging into her spine. "It's not my job to sort out the flooding, but I do have a vested interest and I would hate for you to do me a favour and not receive anything in return." She paused for a moment. "How about I find that Hornby girl you're always going on about and send her hate mail? Or I could speak to the Bloody Barron, as Head of the House he's affiliated with, about letting you attend his Death Day celebrations."

Myrtle waved her hand back and forth through a toilet chain looking unimpressed.

Pansy narrowed her eyes. She was tired of being polite to people in case they thought she was a raving Potter-killing lunatic. "If you don't help me I'll place a ward on the Prefect's Bathroom against ghostly voyeurs."

"Okay, okay." Myrtle pulled a face as she floated down to eye-level. "Don't get your knickers in a twist."

Part Three

Part Four
 
 
feeling: accomplishedaccomplished