AN: Okay guys, I'm re-vamping this story before I continue it. There were a few things that bothered me and I'll be making a few changes and editing so this will be better. There won't be huge changes, but there were just a few things bugging me. :) Anyway, don't worry! This AN is just in case anyone was interested. Read on!
It was one of those well-known secrets that Pansy Parkinson's grandmother (on her mother's side) had a few indiscretions on her record. Even Pansy, despite admittedly idealizing the matriarch, knew that the woman wasn't perfect. But was anyone, really?
Her mum had always seemed generally pretty mild about the subject, too, which was saying something, because if Pansy had inherited anything from her mother, it was her personality. Her mother and grandmother were long gone, of course. Her mother had died before her third year—just from a nasty spell backfire, nothing too dramatic—and her grandmother soon after. It had been so long that Pansy hardly ever thought of them.
Pansy always knew that as soon as you stopped thinking about something, it came to bite you in the ass.
It was morning at breakfast and her father was reading the newspaper, snorting and scoffing like he did when he read something he disagreed with (which was almost everything). Pansy ate and pretended to listen while her father sputtered and began reading aloud.
"Pansy. Pansy!" He exclaimed after a moment. She snapped out of her stupor; she never was a morning person.
"Sorry, Daddy. What?" He cleared his throat and gestured to the fresh stack of mail the owl had delivered just that morning. "Hand me that pile, would you darling?" His voice was kind, but it was spiced with a hint of desperation. She was instantly suspicious. Watching his face closely, she slowly grasped the pile and undid the loose tie around it. He raised an eyebrow.
"The mail?" he asked slowly, extending his hand.
"Just a moment," she replied, shuffling through each envelope deliberately. There's something in here he doesn't want me to see, she realized. He always kept things from her, she thought, just a little annoyed. How was she supposed to help him manage the estate while in the dark?
She came across something thick, like a book, with a note glued to it. "From Rita Skeeter? To Pansy Parkinson? What?"
"Pansy, darling, just hand it to me," Mr. Parkinson said, a warning in his voice. Pansy ignored him and opened up the letter.
"'To Miss Parkinson,'" she read aloud, "'in my pursuit of truth I often come across news that is disturbing or disquieting. However, this reporter believes in speaking the truth, and I apologize if this news causes you distress.' What the hell is she talking about?" Pansy mumbled as she opened up the material covering the book. "Huh. 'My Torrid Affair with the Princess of Thimbletwist: The Francois Tumble Story.'"
Pansy's father sighed and ran a hand through his thinning hair. "That conniving Tumble. I'll sue!"
"Sue? For what?" Pansy asked, incredulous. "What does this even have to do with me?"
"Pansy." He slid the newspaper toward her so she could see what had caused him to panic in the first place. There was a picture of a man holding the book; it was undoubtedly the author. He was old, very old, and he was smiling for the cameras and showing off a hardback copy. The title of the article was in bold: A Tell-All Book by Francois Tumble. The article was, of course, written by Rita Skeeter herself.
"What do I care about this Francois?" Pansy said, trying and failing to sound dismissive. Her father looked too serious to ignore.
"There were some questions about your mother's birth… In terms of…" He cleared his throat and wiped his brow, "legitimacy." Pansy's brow furrowed. The wheels were turning. "And also… purity of birth."
She was frozen to the spot. Purity of birth? She swiped the article from the table and began to read quickly.
Rita Skeeter's words flooded her mind. Marie Parkinson nee Thimbletwist's mother, better known as the notorious Pansy Parkinson's grandmother… illicit affair with the muggle-born Francois Tumble… buy this book and learn the true story… a woman torn between love and duty, and chose duty… questions about birth. Is the pureblooded princess of Slytherin, Pansy Parkinson, really even pureblooded? And what does this have to do with her Hogwarts scandal on the day Harry Potter defeated You-Know-Who? Learn more about this private family, and the girl's ironic history… Ghostwritten by yours truly.
It felt like someone had dumped a bucket of ice water over Pansy. "Is this true?"
Before her dad could answer, three owls swooped in through the open window. Mr. Parkinson looked at them gravely. "Letters from my side of the family, I presume."
"Neville, my boy, pour your old Grandmother a cuppa, would you?" Neville Longbottom did just so, and handed his Gran an afghan in the process.
"What did you call me for, Gran? Got another leak in the roof?" Augusta snorted in a most unladylike manner.
"I have a thousand leaks in that damn thing," she said. "You fix one and three more pop up. I think I can live with those. I called you here because I heard something about your shop I don't like."
"What?" Neville sat down on the couch across from her. He was almost always prepared for his grandmother to loan him some constructive criticism whether he fancied it or not, but it was his (unbiased) opinion that his business was running perfectly. It was a beautiful shop, with the most exotic variety of plants and flowers. He always had a customer or two (or thirty) in during open hours, he had the best publicity (being a war hero was a great help), not to mention he was pulling down more money than he knew what to do with.
"You heard me, young man. Your old Granny still knows a thing or two about you, and I'm going to tell you about it."
"Gran," he started, scratching his temples. "I know, I believe you, but I'm actually proud of the shop. Can't you just leave it?" And why couldn't she? He'd bought her new furniture, carpets and even tried to get her out of her old house and into a new one. Of course she'd refused; she'd been raised in this house, raised his father, and then raised him. He could understand it. But he also knew he couldn't bear to hear bad things about his store.
Her eyes seemed to literally flash at his question. She stood up quickly (how, he would never know. She was so old) and had her cane in her hand in a flash.
"Gran! I didn't mean to—"
"Now you listen to me, you, you…" She scrunched up her old wrinkled nose. "You proud little snot. You go on and tell an old lady off without even hearing what she has to say. Well here it is, sir. I was going to say that you need hired help."
Neville fell like a tool. Was that all? "Gran, what do you mean? I don't need any help. I can do it all myself."
"When was the last time you came to visit me like this?" She asked, gingerly settling back down on her settee. He frowned. A month? Two? Oh no… "And when was the last time you went drinking with your friends?" He flushed. He wasn't sure he wanted his grandmother to know that he did things like that. But she did seem to know everything.
"I can't even remember."
"And how about the last time you saw a girl?" Oh boy. Here she goes. "I want a grandbaby, Neville."
"Ah, I am your grandbaby," he reminded her.
"Great grandbaby!" she proclaimed, not missing a beat. "Oh, to hear the pattering of footsteps in this house again. My boy, you had better start soon. I won't be alive forever!"
Neville snorted. She'd outlive everyone. "Gran, I'm twenty-five. I don't want a baby now! And, and where would I find time to date? I'm running a business alone—" Ooh, she's got me!
She was grinning ear to ear. She'd caught him in a web of… some kind of twisted logic, and there would be no more argument without insistence on one or the other. Hire help, or have a baby. It was an easy choice.
That night, Henry Parkinson sat alone at his dinner table. He was still getting owls from old family members, telling him this or that about Pansy's blood purity and her mother's birth. He'd known about the scandal, of course. Marie had told him all about it before their union in an attempt to opt out of the arranged marriage. He hadn't really cared, because he was rather fond of her (not quite in love yet) and there was no way to prove or disprove any claims as it was.
Poor Pansy. He'd hoped that he'd never have to tell her. That maybe this secret would die when he did. He heaved a sigh. The girl had locked herself in her room all day, ignoring all attempts to draw her out. He supposed he'd have to call one or two of her friends to spend time with her.
In the meantime, he had to make a decision. In a letter, his own mother (who, as old as she was, just wouldn't die and leave him that money) had outlined an ultimatum: disown Pansy and inherit millions, or keep her and live in poverty. This was all planted very nicely among a garden of slanders against his late wife and her family and shock that he'd "marry the daughter of such a woman!"
He really didn't want to choose between money and Pansy. Of course, he supposed, that was what an ultimatum was, really. You weren't supposed to like it. So his mind set to work. He certainly wouldn't disown Pansy. And he had no intention of losing the inheritance he'd worked so long to keep.
He worked long into the night to find a solution.
"I'm a what?" Pansy wasn't really sure she'd heard her father right. "No, Daddy! I don't want to!"
"There really is no alternative, my dear." Pansy stomped her foot on the ground, unable to do anything else.
"You should be willing to stick by me!" She was barely aware of her voice reaching a higher octave. "Grandma can sod of, for all I care! That crazy old bint. I'm a pureblood, I know it, and she knows it."
Mr. Parkinson tugged at his mustache while he waited for Pansy to simmer down. After a moment of silence, he spoke. "Pansy, do you like the way we are living right now?" She didn't answer. He continued, "Think of it this way my dear. If you and I, say, have a falling out due to this horrendous news, I could cast you right out into the street."
"Daddy, no—" He held up a hand and she fell silent.
"Then you know it's only a matter of waiting until your grandmother passes away. The control of the entire estate is passed to me. Wouldn't you like that Pansy? Then, at a proper time, you and I can have a public reconciliation. You would be back in the Parkinson fold, just like that."
"Very shrewd, Father," she snapped, "but what about in between? And who knows how long that old hag is going to stay alive?"
"I'm afraid it's the only option, my pet." Tears sprang to her eyes. She was prideful, yes, but not stupid enough to forget that she made no income on her own. Her father supported her entirely. How was she going to live?
"Now, now! No tears, Pansy Parkinson." She sniffled and looked up at him. "As I told you earlier, there is a way for me to funnel you some money in the process. Gran will be watching my money, but if your funds are listed as a charitable cause I can give you a little bit each month without suspicion." Not to mention there would be a nice tax write-off, but he didn't think now was a good time to bring that up.
"Where will I live?" He leaned back in his chair with a sigh.
She would have to find out on her own.
A/N: Whew! Guys, this was so much freaking fun to write. I hope you like it as much as I do! And remember, reviews are the only thing keeping me alive. I want you to review or PM me and tell me what you like or dislike about this story so far! And as always, I'm open to suggestions. I love when you message me with your ideas! 3
Thank you for reading (and reviewing?)!