The Sugar Quill
Author: Fortuitous Intervention (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Perils of Being Percy  Chapter: Chapter 2: To Be Forewarned is To Be Forearmed
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Percy was restless that night

To Be Forewarned is to Be Forearmed

Chapter 2


Percy was restless that night.  Because he couldn’t sleep he left Penny alone in their bed, sleeping soundly enough for the both of them, and went out into the kitchen to pace.  He was very worried about the effect that Umbridge’s reign would have on Harry and Ron, mostly Harry though.  Ron could go along to get along. He hadn’t lived almost sixteen years as the youngest brother of the Weasley clan for nothing.


Percy could well imagine Harry’s reaction, though, to the Ministry in the form of Madame Umbridge, telling him to his face that Voldemort had been a hallucination.  Harry had a temper.  And a rather nasty one at that, Percy reflected.  Driving the length of a sword, almost as long as he had been himself, into the brain of a giant snake took a good bit of anger behind the thrust to power it.  No question then in Percy’s mind that Harry had tremendous power, and plenty of it.


The biggest problem anyone would have at Hogwarts this year would be finding a way to channel Harry’s anger, and his power, in a positive direction, before he might be allowed to unleash it onto Voldemort.  Percy really enjoyed imagining that part of the story.


But Harry was Dumbledore’s deal. Percy was interested in, but not responsible for, Harry, and very glad of it.  Ron, however, was Percy’s deal.  He was desperately thinking of a way to get through to him the kind of danger they were all in, right now, without blowing his own cover.


Ron was a brilliant strategist.  Percy couldn’t begin to count how many times Ron had kicked his butt all over the chessboard and back again through the years of their growing up together. If only he could convince Ron somehow to read between the lines of a letter and get to the heart of a matter.  Percy was sure he would know just what to do with the information he wanted to give him.


Bill and Charlie had always had one another.  They were the oldest, and far too mature in their own minds to bother much with the smaller Weasley members.  Except for Ginny, who had been relentlessly and thoroughly fawned over by every member of the family since the day she was born. 


Fred and George might as well have been actually joined at the skull. For all he really knew, Percy thought nastily, they were attached at their heads at birth.  Mother wouldn’t ever tell him so, but most of his days spent growing up them had convinced Percy that they really only had the one brain between them.


Because of their other brother’s attachments to one another, Percy and Ron had found themselves standing separately, but not alone in the Weasley world.  Ron really was the closest to Ginny, but on some occasions he and Percy had managed to find each other.  And Percy was hoping that what he was about to do would turn out to be just such an occasion.


He sat down at the kitchen table, pulled a piece of parchment towards him, took out his quill and wrote:


Dear Ron,


That’s fairly non-committal, thought Percy, chewing on the end of his quill.  No one would suspect me of subversion just from reading the salutation.


I have only just heard (from no less a person than the Minister of Magic himself, who has it from your new teacher, Professor Umbridge) that you have become a Hogwarts prefect.


Pay attention, Ron, your new DADA instructor is a toady for the Minister and she’s reporting back on you already.


I was most pleasantly surprised when I heard this news and must firstly offer my congratulations.  I must admit that I have always been afraid that you would take what we might call the “Fred and George” route, rather than following in my footsteps, so you can imagine my feelings on hearing that you have stopped flouting authority and have decided to shoulder some responsibility.


I was really proud of you when I heard that Dumbledore had made you Prefect.  I know you’ve got a good head on your shoulders and that you don’t like to break the rules unless you have to.  Let’s face it, Ron, that’s the reason Fred and George gave their Marauder’s Map to Harry instead of to you, they knew you’d be too scared to use it.  And because I know you’ve never flouted anyone’s authority but my own, I also know that you just got the great big hint I’m sending here that there’s more to this letter than meets the eye.


But I want to give you more than congratulations, Ron I want to give you some advice,


And for once in your life please, please, please, follow it.


Which is why I am sending this at night rather than by the usual morning post.  Hopefully you will be able to read this away from prying eyes and avoid awkward questions.


Anyone who is sitting in Gryffindor Tower common room with you just now is trustworthy. Go ahead and show this letter to Hermione and Harry, then burn it before anyone else has a chance to read it.


From something the Minister let slip when telling me you are now a prefect, I gather that you are still seeing a lot of Harry Potter.  I must tell you, Ron, that nothing could put you in danger of losing your badge more than continued fraternization with that boy.


The Minister is out to get Harry and he wants to use you to help him do it.  He’s already grilling me for information about you two. Stick close to Harry if you want to keep him out of big trouble this year.  I don’t know what you could do to keep better tabs on him, try out for the Gryffindor Quidditch team, or something. Percy was thinking up possible answers to Ron’s possible questions as he furiously scribbled.


Yes, I am sure you are surprised to hear this – no doubt you will say that Potter has always been Dumbledore’s favorite – but I feel bound to tell you that Dumbledore may not be in charge at Hogwarts much longer and the people who count have a very different – and probably more accurate –view of Potter’s behavior.  I shall say no more here, but if you look at the Dailey Prophet tomorrow you will get a good idea of the way the wind is blowing – and see if you can spot yours truly.


The Minister wants Dumbledore’s head on a platter, and if it’s served up with a side dish of Harry Potter he’ll think it tastes even better.  I’m not sure how well Dumbledore can protect Harry here, I know he’s going to try, but you have to be careful and ready to step in to save Harry if Dumbledore can’t.  And I really, really, hope that when you see my picture in the paper tomorrow morning, Ron, that deep down inside you, you’ll know that I would never, ever, do anything to hurt you, Harry, or the rest of our family.  This deception is killing me.


Seriously, Ron, you do not want to be tarred with the same brush as Potter, it could be very damaging to your future prospects, and I am talking here about life after school too. As you must be aware, given that our father escorted him to court, Potter had a disciplinary hearing in front of the whole Wizengamot and he did not come out of it looking too good.  He got off on a mere technicality if you ask me and many of the people I’ve spoken too remain convinced of his guilt.


Fudge did everything he could think of to trip up Harry and Dumbledore in that trial.  He brought up all sorts of things from Harry’s past to make him out to be a real trouble maker and Dumbledore not much more than a stupid, old, fool, who is too blinded by affection to see him for what he truly is.  Some of the Wizengamot were completely convinced by Fudges performance, believe me.


It may be that you are afraid to sever ties with Potter


Hello, Ron?  This is your brother Percy speaking to you through this stupid letter.  I have watched you stick by Harry through thick and thin for four long years.  More to the point, I watched him risk his life last year, in that miserable excuse for an icebox lake on the Hogwarts grounds, to bring you and that little girl safely through the second challenge.  Your brother Percy would suggest to you that you might think about dropping your very best friend in exchange for a shameless bout of self-interest, when Pigs sprout Wings and soar around outside the windows of Gryffindor Tower.


        I know that he can be unbalanced and, for all I know, violent, but if you have any worries about this, or have spotted anything else in Potter’s behavior that is troubling you, I urge you to speak to Dolores Umbridge, a really delightful woman, who I know will be only too happy to advise you.


These are words taken virtually out of the old bats mouth.  She’s a wretched evil harridan who actually has the temerity to suggest that our friend Harry is both crazy and vicious.  All I can really say to that is that it takes a nut to think they’re recognizing one.  But don’t underestimate her, Ron, she is a very nasty piece of work.


This leads me to my other bit of advice.  As I have hinted above, Dumbledore’s regime at Hogwarts may soon be over.  Your loyalty, Ron, should be not to him, but to the school and the Ministry.  I am very sorry to hear that so far Professor Umbridge is encountering very little cooperation from the staff as she strives to make those necessary changes within Hogwarts that the Ministry so ardently desires (although she should find this easier from next week – again, see the Prophet tomorrow!).


This is really important too.  The Minister plans on ousting Dumbledore as soon as they can come up with any excuse, and installing Umbridge in his place.  Read the paper tomorrow and I think you’ll understand how easy it might actually be for them to accomplish this.  Don’t worry too much though. Dumbledore will only truly be gone from the school when no one at Hogwarts is still loyal to him, and that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.  Everyone else on the staff hates Umbridge’s guts, even Snape.  If you have to do it to protect Harry, go to Snape, he’ll actually be willing to help you. 


Oh, why am I bothering to even try to say that, Percy thought, Ron won’t ever believe that Snape doesn’t have something up his sleeve even if Snape dances naked in front of him wearing nothing more than a tea cozy.  And he finished the letter with this final warning:


I shall say only this – a student who shows himself willing to help Professor Umbridge now may be very well placed for Head Boy ship in a couple of years.


I overheard Umbridge talking to Lucius Malfoy about his son Draco.  She told Malfoy senior that if Draco helps her spy on Harry right now, and helps catch him out on something, she’s willing to make Draco Malfoy Hogwarts Head Boy once she’s in charge of the school.  Heaven help us all if that ever actually happens.


I am sorry that I was unable to see more of you over the summer.  It pains me to criticize our parents, but I am afraid I can no longer live under their roof while they remain mixed up with the dangerous crowd around Dumbledore (if you are writing to Mother at any point, you might tell her that a certain Sturgis Podmore, who is a great friend of Dumbledore’s, has recently been sent to Azkaban for trespass at the Ministry.  Perhaps that will open their eyes to the kind of petty criminals with whom they are currently rubbing shoulders.  I count myself very luck to have escaped the stigma of association with such people – the Minister really could not be any more gracious to me –


I really miss Mother and Father and all the rest of you, even Fred and George.  I’ve missed you more this summer than I could ever tell you in any letter.  I hope you understand that I have to stay away for a while in order to help Dumbledore protect us all.  Anyone who seems to be even the least bit friendly to him will be under the worst sort of suspicion.  They didn’t sent Podmore to Azkaban for trying to break into the Ministry of Magic, they sent him there because they know he’s Dumbledore’s friend.  That’s how dangerous they think we all are.  I almost got caught myself the night they got Podmore. Lucky for me the Minister of Magic is an idiot.


And I do hope, Ron, that you will not allow family ties to blind you to the misguided nature of our parent’s beliefs and actions either.  I sincerely hope that in time, they will realize how mistaken they were and I shall, of course, be ready to accept a full apology when that day comes.


You’re the only person in the whole family that I think might not be completely convinced that I am the world’s biggest git as of tonight.  Some day all of this will be put behind us and we can be a family again.


Please think over what I have said most carefully, particularly the bit about Harry Potter, and congratulations again on becoming prefect.


I can’t impress upon you enough the kind of danger Harry is in right now even as you read this letter.  Don’t let him do anything rash this year, whatever else you do.  And I really am very proud of you.


Your brother, Percy


I’ll always be your brother first Ron, first, last, and always.  I love you.


Percy folded up his letter and gave it to his owl, Hermes, who was waiting by the window.

“Give this to Ron Weasley, my brother, the new Gryffindor Prefect,” Percy told Hermes.  And then satisfied that he had done everything for Ron and Harry this night that he could have he crawled back into bed with Penny and finally fell asleep.





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