Lakeside Pansy

A Harry Potter Fanfic


Overview: A sunset lakeside interlude between Harry and Pansy Parkinson.

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: Harry Potter and other related trademarks and copyrighted materials are property of their respective owners. Use of such properties is for entertainment purposes only and does not constitute a claim on such properties.

Authour's Notes: A bit of a character sketch/vignette bouncing in my head. The poem is Sea-Fever by John Masefield.


He sat on a large rounded boulder at the edge of the lake, warmed by a full day's sun. It was an hour or so before sunset, and a golden strip of sunlight reflected brightly across the lake's still surface, an ethereal walkway inviting the contemplative into the unknown.

Such a contemplative was Harry, using the last hours of daylight to find some peace before heading back into the chaotic and noisy world of Gryffindor Tower. On his lap, a dog-eared book paperback book of some sort was open, his hand resting lightly on the book's spine to hold open a particular page, but he wasn't reading; he was gazing across the lake's surface, lost in his own musings.

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking.

The old mariner's poem was burned into the mind of the Boy Who Lived. The book, a book of poetry filched from his cousin's library, neglected, like all scholarly items. For years, Harry read the words and dreamed of fleeing the oppressive, hateful world of the Dudleys — to the sea, by himself, just him and the ocean.

Despite his 11th birthday revelations that he was a wizard and going to a world that was, literally, magical, the mariner's poem never left him. It was a tie to his dream of a different life. A life that was being fulfilled, if in a way he never expected. A reminder that dreams and wishes sometimes come true. He sometimes came to the lake on quiet days, imagining it was the sea and the rock was his ship, making its way out.

"I must go down to the seas again, the lonely sea and sky . . ." Harry was reciting wistfully.

". . . And all you ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by?" came a female voice, jerking Harry abruptly from his contemplations.

Harry twisted to see who had come to disturb him; it didn't sound like Hermione, or Ginny, or even Luna. He knew those voices well. No, it was an unexpected, and entirely unwelcome, intruder. Pansy Parkinson. He narrowed his eyes suspiciously; his dislike of House Slytherin, and her in particular, were well known.

How did she get all the way here without me hearing her, though? he wondered. He was some distance from the well-trod path from Hogwarts to Hogsmeade, picking the spot specifically to avoid confrontation and interruption.

"Great," Harry growled.

"Why, Potter, how nice to see you, too," said Pansy in a maddeningly faux cheery tone.

"What do you want, Parkinson?"

"From you? Nothing. I came to sit here." She climbed up the gentle slope of the boulder he was sitting on, taking a seat a few feet away from him, her legs stretched out in front of her.

"You came all this way to sit right here at this rock?" Harry snorted.

"Yes," said Pansy simply. There was something almost Luna-like in her sereneness, Harry thought. It was a little unnerving.

"And not to just, you know, bother me, like you always do?"

"I'll have you know, you're sitting on my rock."

"I'm– what? Your rock?" Harry said contemptuously. "You can't claim rocks here."

"I already have. See?" She placed a slim hand on one hip and for a moment, Harry thought she was making a pass at him. With insistent pressure, she made him slide an inch or two before pointing to something he was sitting on. It was small, but now that he noticed it, he could read what it said. 'Property of Pansy Parkinson.' He was almost disappointed when she withdrew her hand.

"Whatever." Harry turned to look back over the lake as they fell into a pregnant silence.

"I know the poem you were quoting," she said.

"Bully for you. I didn't think Slytherin would rise to the level of contaminating themselves with Muggle literature."

"How little you know of us," she murmured, sounding vaguely amused.

"Still too much for me." Harry was still tetchy at her presence. Any other girl in the school would be preferable.

"So, Potter, why do you want to escape to the sea?" said Pansy after a long few minutes.

"Why do you?"

"Why do you think?"

Answering questions with question. Merlin, that's annoying.

"To give us hope that you might hit a storm and drown, sparing us your presence?" Harry shot back nastily.

Pansy's reaction wasn't what he expected. No, she was laughing softly. He turned his head to look at her suspiciously — it wouldn't be the first time a Slytherin was laughing at him. Instead, she was giving him a wry look, with genuine humour reaching her eyes.

"What?" Harry snapped.

"Your answers, Potter. You would've done well in Slytherin."

An involuntary shiver ran up Harry's spine at Pansy's observation. It wasn't the first time he'd heard it, either. The second time he pulled the Sorting Hat on to his head in his second year, it confirmed his deepest Sorting fear — which Pansy had just echoed.

"Cold, Potter?" said Pansy, looking at him curiously.

"The idea that I'd be a housemate to the likes of you and Malfoy is enough to give any decent wizard the willies."

"Not all of us are like Malfoy."

"No, of course not; you're all gits in your own special way."

"Do you know why we hate you?"

"I believe I just offered the 'git' theory?'

"Because you're The Boy Who Lived."

Harry snorted. "You lot are just realizing that now? And people make fun of Hufflepuffs for being thick."

Pansy turned her eyes on him with a cool stare, bordering on icy; the first sign of emotion beyond the amused banter so far. "My, aren't you being catty today?"

Harry glanced over with a grim smile. "Hey, just like a Slytherin, isn't that right?"

Despite having her words tossed back into her face, Pansy had to give him that one. "It's because we see you as wasted potential. Draco would give his wand arm to have even a tenth of your fame—"

"If he gelds himself, he's more than glad to have a tenth of my fame." Harry shot back.

"—You break rules whenever it's convenient for you," said Pansy, continuing. "You have personal power; you can get people to follow you, even when it's unpopular. You're everything Draco wants to be. But you're a Gryffindor."

Harry's brow furrowed as he looked at Pansy. What? "I don't see—"

Pansy gave an exasperated sigh, one not unlike Hermione's when the boys failed to grasp something obvious to her. Perhaps it was a female thing. "You put him to shame, you dolt! For all his breeding and wealth and upbringing, you get all the attention, the fawning, the press. And people love you for it. Anyone can see it's not because you want to look good, but because you want to do good. And he doesn't."

Harry didn't respond, but stubbornly kept his gaze over the lake where the sun was now barely half an hour over the horizon. He had never really considered this perspective before. It was much easier to simply hate Malfoy because he was hated in return.

"So. Why do you hate us?" Pansy asked.

"Why do I hate Slytherin?" Harry laughed humourlessly. "Let's see why. All the ones I know want me to bow down to them, want me dead, are bullies, or are bootlickers to those who are!"

"Just because Malfoy does?"

"Malfoy seems to have the approval of your House. You hang around him and laugh at his insults to Hermione."

"That's because I think they're funny."

Harry turned a hard glare to Pansy. "She's ten times the witch you are."

Pansy gave a wry grin. "Protective to the last. Perhaps you deserve to be in Gryffindor. So the Muggle-born's smart, big deal?" she said with a careless shrug. "She's overcompensating for not being wizard-born. Kinda like you being the hero all the time."

"I'd rather be left alone, so feel free to not let me be a hero by going away."

He looked at her as Pansy gave a laugh. "You should know by now that's not how we work."

Harry growled and turned his back to her.

"I think you hate Slytherin because you don't have a good reason not to. You know why?" said Pansy after a long pause.

"No, because there are plenty of reasons to hate Slytherin."

"Because heroes always need an enemy. You just don't want to admit it."

The sun was bare minutes from sinking below the mountains' ridgeline and the air was cooling quickly. In a way, it suited Harry's mood, given the conversation. So, he was surprised when a hand touched his shoulder and before he could jerk away, the soft caressing breath of Pansy Parkinson carried her words.

"Feel free to stay on my rock. No charge, Potter," she whispered with small smile that Harry couldn't see.

Pansy stood up, dusted off the seat of her skirt and slid down the boulder's side deftly before jumping onto the grass. Harry shivered. He couldn't tell if it was what she had said, or the fact that a couple of brief touches by her made his intestines squirm unpleasantly.

It was dark before Harry finally uncurled from his seat; even the heat retained from a day's baking in the sun had cooled off and he trudged back to Hogwarts with his troubled thoughts. It was one thing for Hermione to accuse him of playing the Hero; but this harpy, this siren named Pansy had caused him to doubt his comfortable worldview. Did he hate Slytherin just because he needed an enemy?

That night, he dreamt of the sea and a ship and sailing. Only this time, a certain Slytherin was at the helm with him. Not that he shared this dream with even his closest friends, but he found something odd this time.

He found he really didn't mind.