Percy Weasley nervously paced a
dark alley a few blocks from St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and
Injuries. He had just Apparated there and was trying to decide whether or not
to go through with going to see his father. He was torn between a sense of
family duty and the fact that he was still at odds with his parents over this
whole Voldemort thing.
How can they be so naïve as to
think that they could get away with helping Dumbledore amass an army against
Minister Fudge? he thought to himself. Father ought to know that any
anti-Voldemort activity he is involved in jeopardizes his job at the Ministry.
I just don’t understand why he has to drag Mum into it too. If only that
stupid Harry Potter had had the decency to leave well enough alone last June…
And then, there was this whole
Harry Potter business. The stupid git couldn’t even get through two months in
Little Whinging without resorting to the kind of magical activities that would
land him in heaps of trouble. What a joke that hearing had been back in
August. Dumbledore shouldn’t have bothered to come; Potter really was as
deranged as the Daily Prophet reported, telling outlandish lies about
dementors assaulting him in an all-Muggle neighborhood. It also proved that
the old wizard was just as unbalanced as people thought when he supported an
outright liar. Good thing Minister Fudge saw fit to bestow the High
Inquisitor position on Dolores Umbridge, Percy thought. At least there
is someone sensible up at the school. She’ll see to it that Dumbledore and his
ilk toe the line.
Still, Percy was greatly
disturbed by the attack on his father. What he knew was sketchy; rumor had it
that Harry was the one to notify Dumbledore and thereby save Arthur Weasley’s
life. How had he known? Percy asked himself. Was Harry some sort
Now Percy wanted details, facts;
something concrete which would put everything into perspective, instead of just
having to blindly rely on raw emotion and conjecture. He could make up his mind
once he knew the truth. Yet, there was some little part of Percy which made him
grateful to Harry in spite of his disdain for the whole lot of them. He
shook it off, wondering for the hundredth time why he was even bothering to
He supposed that his actions of
the previous day (sending back his Christmas jumper without bothering to open
it, or write a note of explanation or even inquire about his father) were
pretty hurtful and that his sense of duty (and a guilty conscience ingrained in
him over the years by his mother, Molly) were getting the best of him. So here
he was, in the dead of night, trying to get up the nerve to at least talk to
the Healers about what was going on with his father.
Percy stepped up to the dingy
display window of Purge and Dowse Ltd. a few minutes later. “I’m here to see
Arthur Weasley,” he intoned softly to the dummy behind the glass.
“Visiting Hours are over,” the
dummy replied. “Come back at eight o’clock when visitors are welcome.”
Percy fished inside his robes for
his Ministry identity card. “I wish to speak to the Healers,” he said in what
he hoped was an authoritative voice. “I’m here on Ministry business.” He
flashed the card at the dummy.
“Very well, you may enter. The
Welcome Witch will tell you where you may find Mr. Weasley.”
“Thank you.” Percy replaced his
card and stepped through the glass. He didn’t bother going to the inquiry desk
or pester the Welcome Witch. His position at the Ministry afforded him the
information he needed and he went straight to the Creature-Induced Injuries
ward on the first floor.
A Healer stopped Percy outside
the Dai Llewellyn Ward which was marked “dangerous: Serious Bites.” “You must be
cleared to go beyond this door, sir,” he said.
“I am aware of that,” Percy told
him. “I’m here on Ministry business and do not wish to disturb the patients.
Could you tell me who is in authority to debrief me of Arthur Weasley’s
condition?” Again, he flashed his Ministry card.
“I can help you.”
“And with whom am I speaking?”
“Augustus Pye, Trainee Healer.
What do you wish to know?”
“Anything which will help me with
a report I’m writing.”
“Well, come with me. This isn’t
the place to discuss specific patients,” Pye said and led the way to a small
office off the ward’s main storage room. He motioned for Percy to sit in one
of two chairs facing the marred wooden desk which occupied most of the space.
“I must say that this is highly
unusual,” Pye said once they were seated. “Not only is this an unusual hour,
but normally the Healers here send their reports to the Ministry, not the other
“I am aware of that. However,
Minister Fudge is expecting a detailed report at noon. Do you have Mr.
Weasley’s file perchance? It may help in our investigation.”
“Yes, yes. If Minister Fudge is
to be notified of the case I will let you see it.” Pye searched through a pile
of folders and extracted one. “You may read it here. I will be back in ten
minutes after I finish my rounds. I hope that will give you enough time to peruse
Percy accepted the file with not
a little trepidation. He managed to keep his voice steady as he thanked the
Healer and opened it to the first page. “I expect that will be more than
enough time.” The door closed softly behind him as he began to read.
The report was straightforward.
Arthur Weasley had been brought in two nights before after sustaining several
severe snakebites to the torso and back. He had not been expected to live;
however, the quick actions of those who had found him had helped the Healers to
diagnose Weasley’s injuries and take the appropriate measures. Thus, his life
had been saved. He was expected to be released once the antidote to the
serpent’s venom was obtained, probably within the next week.
Percy read this information with
a mixture of disgust and concern; he knew his father had been somewhere he
ought not to have been, but at the same time, he knew deep down inside that he
would have been devastated if Arthur had died. Even after all we said to
each other, I still love the man, he thought. Percy shut his eyes and bit
his lower lip; his own resentment and the mutually-imposed estrangement were
still new and still hurt even after all these months. He shook his head,
trying to push the pain back into its compartment inside his mind. He couldn’t
go on like this, mustn’t let his emotions get the best of him. He had to
harden his heart.
Why can’t Father see how he’s hurting his
family? Percy asked himself. If he’d just apologize for his illegal
activities…This roundabout thinking wouldn’t do. He was wasting time not
pretending to make notes. He pulled out a self-inking quill and a small roll
of parchment and soon had several inches covered in tiny handwriting. As the
door opened a few minutes later, he closed the file and put away his notes.
“Thank you, Mr. Pye,” he said looking up. “I
appreciate getting to peruse the file. I’d also appreciate it if the family
was not apprised of my coming here. Minister Fudge has requested secrecy. I
hope you understand.”
Percy watched warily as the Trainee Healer
nodded. He knew Pye would not report his visit to his family; his manner had
been too officious to be suspicious. However, that did not mean that his visit
at such an unusual hour would go unreported to Hippocrates Smethwyck,
Healer-in-Charge of the ward. Percy didn’t care about that; it was probably
hospital policy to report all investigators anyway. He stood up and offered
“Again, thank you,” he said stiffly. “You have
helped with my investigation. Good evening.”
Pye shook Percy’s hand. “Good evening, sir.”
As the door to the office closed behind him,
Percy let out the breath he had been holding and made his way down the corridor
toward the stairs. He’d gotten away with finding out about his father without
making any contact with him. He stopped in front of the ward door. It
wouldn’t hurt to get a glimpse of his father through the window before he
left. In the dim light, he could just make out Arthur Weasley on the far side
of the room. Shaking his head, Percy turned away. It was just as well that he
couldn’t get into the ward. If he’d had the chance to see his father face to
face there were few positive words they could say to each other. Again, Percy
pushed the unwelcome emotions away, rubbing a weary hand on the back of his
neck where he could feel a tension headache beginning to form. He turned away
and made his way back to the alley where he Apparated back to the tiny flat he
now rented in a run-down Muggle neighborhood.