Many thanks to SpookyKat, my beta
It’s all JKR’s
The wind blew an
invocation. It wisped through the windows, gusting right inside him. Percy
remained perfectly still, not out of fright, but in a freezing disbelief. The only
words that managed to rasp through the tightness in his throat were a
resounding, “You’re wrong.” Far more than the glass in his frames separated the
windows of his soul from the likewise shuttered ones staring back. The being
before him felt instantly, yet immutably, disconnected from him. Percy observed
the figure of his father, seeing parts rather than a whole. Or rather, there
was no whole he could now identify with.
hours, fragile words, tenuous circumstances. Suddenly, a fabric so tightly woven was
unraveled by those seemingly unimposing pricks. And yet, looking back, the
threads had long since become frayed.
proud of you, Percy.” Molly Weasley’s face stretched
wide, her rounded cheeks crinkling from her spread, upturned lips. Exuberantly
she hugged him close, his prefect notification from Hogwarts still clutched in
her hand. Her grip was firm and warm, like the mother she was. Through the
bright sunshine stretching through the dining room, Percy could see the rest of
his family over his mother’s head. In the corner was a lopsided mirror that
caught his own expression. His smile was one of
infinite pride, satisfaction, and also, an odd hint of relief.
there’s a shock,” George said jovially. Helping Fred set the breakfast table,
he added, “Congrats, Percy.”
congrats,” Fred added. With a bright smile and laugh, he added, “I don’t
suppose this is the right time to discuss the benefits this might have for the
rest of us?”
A roll of his
eyes was Percy’s response, though his smile remained in place. His eyes drifted
to his father, finding the man smiling as well, with one hand resting atop
Ginny’s small head. With a nod, Mr. Weasley added,
“This is definitely worthy of a celebration.”
The smiles on
the twins’ faces suddenly brightened. “Quidditch
tickets!” they simultaneously roared, ducking from the mild glare of Mrs. Weasley over their loudness.
Little Ginny’s voice caught hold of her brothers’ excitement, and she turned a
hopeful look at Percy to agree with her choice.
to open his mouth when his mother’s voice barged in. “Now, now, that’s quite
enough. It’s Percy’s day, he gets to decide what we
do. And we’ll have NONE of that,” she added, reprimanding the sudden groan from
the youngest members of her family.
“Bill chose Quidditch tickets,” Fred said. In a suddenly wheedling
tone, he added, “It’s a family celebration, really. I say we vote on it.“ George nodded solemnly, finally diverting Ron’s
absorption with his own Hogwarts’
acceptance letter. Heading over to his youngest brother, with a sound rap on
the table he said, “quit dreaming. Wouldn’t you rather
see a REAL team play, as opposed to deluding yourself that now at Hogwarts
you’ll snag the Quidditch Cup?” George gave a
teasing, knowing look at Ron’s indignant expression, adding, “Come now, we need
about the room, finally saying, “I’d vote for Quidditch.”
voting,” Mr. Weasley said in a firm voice. Finally
turning back to Percy, he said, “What do you want?” All eyes shifted back upon
him, some as if just noticing he was still there.
Some of the immediate excitement had begun to seep out of him as he’d listened
to his family’s banter. It wasn’t that he’d somehow slipped out of the focal
point of the conversation. With such a large family it was bound to happen,
even at times to ones as loud and active as Fred and George. No, it was more
the awareness of how difficult it was to reenter any conversation with them. Or
do anything with them. As much as it meant to have his family’s
congratulations, the thought of spending the day with them made his stomach
almost clench. Memories of the most recent embarrassing
family outing at a restaurant came flooding back. Fred
and George trying to tip trays to amuse Ginny and each other, Ron sneaking in
Percy’s pet rat and dropping him, Mrs. Weasley
shouting at them all to be quiet, as Mr. Weasley
tried to clear up some reservation mistake. Once they’d finally been
seated half an hour late, only Percy seemed to notice the odd looks they
received from the other diners. He’d flushed in embarrassment, then ducked his head in conflicted guilt over feeling that
bear another day like that, seeing his family as others did and being unable to
fully convince himself otherwise.
besides…it wasn’t as though they seemed thrilled to share time together when he
finally suggested a personal owl. Blank faces, then puzzled smiles or annoyed
expressions were his answer. Through it, Mr. Weasley
finally said, “Of course, son. It’s your day.”
This was his day. Though framed, his Hogwarts’ prefect letter was a pitiful
memory of childish excitement compared to this. Mr. Fudge’s words still rang in
the back of his mind.
“Mr. Weasley. It has come to my attention of late that your
performance here has been…very helpful to the Ministry. And with the current
situations at hand, well…we need all the able bodies we can in positions of
authority. Now, this might seem a bit sudden, but I trust you’ll believe me
when I say that I have full confidence in my decision to promote you to my
Those words had
only been heard by Percy in his deepest bouts of fanciful hope. It justified
himself in his own mind, and made all his toil at work worth it. It validated
the times when he’d slavishly worked over files and forms in the Department of
International Cooperation, only to have the credit go to Weatherby. The times when taking
the initiative and assisting any and all still merely resulted in condescension
by some such as Malfoy. Even, he wasn’t sorry to say, times of
defending his father’s eccentric habits and likes to others. Part of that was
from an undeniable distaste over how his father was viewed by some at the
Ministry. Yes, it was also to make his own past look more positive to his
superiors, but still…he’d never denied his relation to his father. Mr. Weasley decidedly had more positive points than, say, Lucius Malfoy, in Percy’s eyes.
Or so he’d
From the moment
he’d stepped inside his family’s house after his meeting with Fudge, Percy had
sensed the tinge of unease that permeated through the air. It wasn’t uncommon
of late. For the past few weeks, a deafening though unspoken tension
had pervaded the Burrow. Both his parents bore faces pinched with worry, though
they tried to conceal it as best they could. What his brothers and sister had
kept busy with, Percy wasn’t sure, though they didn’t seem underfoot. But then,
Percy hadn’t been home all that often of late. He felt useless and stifled
there; he was much
more at ease with his nose in a book or his mind working on a filing error at
But at that
moment, his mind wished to be no place else. In a voice almost giddy, he called
out, “Hullo? Anyone home?” Daft question, he thought. His voice was lost in the commotion ringing
in the dining room. Almost tripping over the mountain of old newspapers piled
up near the door, he caught himself on the edge of a cluttered countertop with
only a slight exclamation of surprise.
Mrs. Weasley leaped up at that, crossing over towards him and
bending to gather the scattered papers. Bold pictures loomed on the print, needless
of the captions to express their meaning. A child’s face this time on the cover
- a subtle manipulation by the editor, perhaps, but one that worked. Regardless
of the cause, his vision tunneled to blind emotion at the sight. It took a
moment for reason to push through enough so he could gather his bearings. He
gently took his mother’s arm, helping her snap back to the reality around them.
She gave him a weak smile, turning her emotional concern then onto something
she would deem fixable.
“Percy!” she crowed
delightedly, “finally we see you and your father for dinner. Imagine that.” She gave his back a
brisk rub, frowning when she reached his poking ribs. Her expressive concern
made him uncomfortable, so he was relieved when she said, “Sit now, and get something inside of you.”
Standing, she hustled
him to the table. His plate was there, but from his long absences the
silverware wasn’t set anymore. He noted this, but barely so, because his mother
soon enough shoved fork, knife, and spoon into his hands.
trembled slightly in his hand with an
unconcealed excitement inappropriate for his age and position. And yet, strive
as he might for a dignified expression, the giddiness was practically
uncontainable. It treacherously lifted up one corner of his mouth the moment he
straightened the other from curling up to his eyebrow. His family seemed to
sense the odd lightness and unrestraint in their normally prim relation
and eyed him curiously.
It was only when he finally caught sight of
his father that Percy managed to sit still. Breathing deep, he sternly made
himself appear calm and composed as soon as the door opened. He wasn’t a child.
He was on his way, as an adult, to achieving everything he’d ever wanted. Yes.
ringed eyes of Mr. Weasley lay upon his son. Wearily
raising his voice, he said,
“A day to end all days.” He seemed to be trying to commiserate over the
workload at the Ministry.
in the way you might be thinking…” Percy let his voice trail off with a dramatic
flair. It seemed only right that he held the foreground for as long as he
could, considering the enormity of his news. He waited
until Mrs. Weasley had shushed his siblings and all
attention was upon him. Then, pushing his glasses further up the bridge of his
nose, he said, “I have been promoted.”
A moment of
silence ensued as Percy studied his family, letting the news sink in. Ginny
gave him a hesitant smile, but it was the odd looks that his parents shared
that captured Percy’s focus. Perhaps he’d been a bit rash to think his father
would leap for joy – really, his father never leaped – but the growing tension was wholly unexpected. As much as
he’d grown to love the rare silences at the Burrow, at times it was deadening.
Percy hated uncertainty, and not knowing where everyone stood set him on edge.
He tried again.
“Did you hear what I said? A promotion –“
“I heard,” his
father repeated. Percy detested
being interrupted, finding it uncivilized, but at that moment the fact that his
father just had cut in went unnoticed by him. His heart beat in time to the
unenthused words his father had just spoken. I heard. I heard.
hadn’t. None of them seemed to. Percy looked around, finding odd features on each
member of his family. Did his mother really have that many wrinkles? Had Fred
always bitten his lip like that? Perhaps it was pure fancy, Percy was rational
enough to admit that, but suddenly it was like none of them were familiar to
Mr. Weasley said, “It’s not that we’re not proud, Percy.” That
felt like placation to Percy as his father continued in an unsettled tone, “But
you must admit that, after that business with Crouch, this is a bit…shocking.”
A heat rose in Percy’s
cheeks, a dizziness floated to his head as the
unwanted memory and doubt crept into his consciousness. “That was unfortunate,”
he said stiffly. “But I’ve worked hard since then.” Staring around the table,
ready to shoot daggers at any who mentioned Weatherby,
he added, “I have. And it’s been noticed.”
son. It’s just…” Mr. Weasley sighed, leaning on his elbows and staring carefully
at Percy as he said in a low voice, as if the words were sour enough to spoil
the food, “I think Fudge might have another motive. He could only want you,
Percy, for, erm, another reason.” Exchanging a
clearly discomforted look with Mrs. Weasley, he
continued slowly, “Fudge knows how close I am to Headmaster Dumbledore.” His
eyes showed some compassion but he was resolute as he said, “I think it the
most likely explanation, son.”
Percy sagged back,
feeling himself deflating under his father’s grip. In
contrast to how malleable he felt, his voice came out brittle as he hoarsely
managed, “And you accuse me of being pompous and conceited?”
A throaty noise came
from Mrs. Weasley, one filled with indignation and
surprise at him. “Percy! How –“The sound of a chair being thrust back and Mrs. Weasley rising reverberated throughout the kitchen. The
dishes, seeming to sense her mood, rattled in the drawers.
Her step only halted
after she shared another glance with Mr. Weasley,
words unnecessary in their bond by now. A huff escaped, but from the sounds
behind him Percy assumed she settled back into her seat. Mr. Weasley’s grip on his shoulders’ tightened, but his voice
remained steady as he said, “I’ve never called you that. Your mother certainly
has not. And I’m not trying –“
“No, you just let them
do it, smiling as you gave them a tap on the wrist.” Percy jerked around,
twisting enough to point at his siblings, specifically the twins’, direction.
He felt childish for doing so, but Mr. Weasley’s
words had reduced him to practically nothing. All that was left of him was a
sharp point that flailed about defensively.
Silent too long, Mrs. Weasley’s voice broke out sternly and loudly before either
twin could open their mouths, “You know that isn’t true, Percy Weasley!” After that she paused, and then added less
severely, “Now stop this behavior and sit back down so we can all be together
and eat.” Hearing those words from her directed at him was as unusual for Percy
as it sounded like it was for her. He stood still, a picture of her face being
painted in his mind with a mixture of exasperated, angered and pleading
strokes. He knew her desire. She wanted him to brush this argument off for
everyone’s sake. To suck it up and shove it down among the ruins of his pride
and hope. None here seemed to realize he
had just been dealt such a crushing he could fit nothing else inside. He
Irritation seemed to
tighten the exhausted contours of Mr. Weasley’s face.
His sole respite of late, the oasis of home, was now wrecked with nerves and
discontent. Voice matching the rigid lines of his posture, he added, “As your
mother said. You know that is not the case, nor is it the point. I am well
aware that my reputation is hardly held in high esteem with Fudge, considering
my Muggle obsession as he says it.” Mr. Weasley’s tone deepened to a rumble as he mimicked Fudge’s
tone on the punctuated words. Under other circumstances it might have produced
levity, but right then it merely stoked Percy’s fury. He, too, had never fully
understood his father’s obsession. Nor had his father, or any of his family,
understood his. Truthfully, Percy felt more at home at the Ministry with his
papers than he did at his own dining room table. Mocking Fudge, the Minister,
was perfunctory to
mocking Percy himself now. But none seemed sensitive enough to catch the
cruelness he found in his father’s words.
Percy’s face purpled
the more the rest of his family enjoyed Mr. Weasley’s
about to explode. “I’ve had to struggle against your reputation ever since I joined the
Ministry,” he erupted.
His escaped words blew about the room, filling it with a figurative mass
that seemed like a malicious and untamed beast. Stepping back, he addressed the
entire family in one gaze. “Have you any conception of how hard I’ve worked for
this? Doubtful. All I hear is how awful I look for my
effort, or how drab I am.” His eyes came back to settle on Mr. Weasley, struggling to ignore how sallow and haggard his
own father’s face had been for…years, really. It wasn’t hard, considering he
knew he now appeared the same and received less sympathy. Even now, the
expressions on their faces were of annoyance, shock, some concern, but no empathy or comprehension. Was it so very wrong of him to want the best?
Was it a bad thing to
work for an eventual outcome, as opposed to immediate gratification? To be
happy and proud when that payoff came? Burning indignation drove him to sniff,
“Forgive me for being the one to have ambition. I see how just doing what you
want has provided so well for us in the past.”
It was a frosted,
pointed outburst. At the pained, disbelieving look that crossed his father’s
face, a wave of guilt rose. And then, it was followed by a harsher wave as
Percy realized he did not really want to take back his remark. It was more than
that he’d released the family temper he normally held at bay. There was merit
to what he’d said, though not softened with tact. His family did everything with disabandon,
going on emotion and whim, temper and passion. While they loved greatly, Percy
felt they could hurt terribly, even themselves. His father’s stubborn refusal
to try and climb the ranks at the office while having a larger family than
anyone Percy knew of was not
responsible and selfless. While at times Percy had admired his father’s heart
and stoutness to stand by his desires and beliefs, Percy’d
never fully been able to discard the bitterness and confusion over his family’s
life choices. But why should he hold it inside, when they all were so careless
with their own opinions, regardless of his feelings?
Anger renewed along
with a stubborn, wild defensiveness. “You’re a fool to run around with Dumbledore.
He’s heading for big trouble. Everyone is in danger with him. He’s the one
who’s against the Ministry, and has provided no real proof in any accusation. Reckless social unrest, however he intends it, is not the answer.
Though it seems glamorous, it is anything but productive. Yes, yes, you won’t
listen to me. You have faith in him, your gut tells
you so. Well, my gut is in line with my head. If you want to go down with him
without question, fine. I know where my loyalty lies. If you and Mum are going
to be traitors to the Ministry than I’m going to make sure everyone knows that I don’t belong to our – this – family any longer.” Was it a
threat or a plea? Percy hadn’t time to analyze, for once
he was on a role, he found it difficult to stop. Partly from his cursed
sporadic temper, partly from his refusal to cease anything until he was
through, he went for his closing. It was
a summation, an accusation, an analysis dusted off from years in a drawer
filled by now with locked-away
Meanwhile, Mr. Weasley had been retorting back at him, his voice rising as
his own anger obviously increased. Percy tried to shut out his father, but some
of the counter arguments seemed – or slammed – through. “This family? You – you can’t
possibly…” his father’s words caught in his emotion. It was a trait Percy was
glad wasn’t as prominent in himself. However, occasional stutters aside, Mr. Weasley drove on with his point. “I will not stand for you
making such accusations to this family, Percy Weasley!
Treachery is obviously something you’ve never truly seen. You haven’t a clue
what we’re fighting against, or what the Ministry is about. I’ve worked there
longer than you’ve been alive, and if you had any idea what Dumbledore has for
the wizarding world in comparison to what the
Ministry has of late –“
and caution aren’t the antithesis of goodness, righteousness, or truth.”
Percy’s voice rose to counterbalance. “On the contrary, they are quite
the opposite, most of the time. Your emotional, ego-driven actions are simply
the idealism of rebellion in the absence of responsibility.”
the lack of responsibility for the good of them all… of good itself.”
Relative silence. In the background, the twins, Ron, Mrs. Weasley,
even Ginny… their loud voices nearly shook his back
with the forceful vibrations. Percy
panted, finding it hard to keep staring at his father, though impossible to
look away. Belying his tone, his stomach lurched. It was as if his insides had
been a rag saturated with emotion, the excess of which was being
wrung out through his mouth and expelled as coldly dripping words.
Mr. Weasley’s face paled. Everyone situated around him knew
that rare occurrence meant anger beyond flushing cheeks and heated ranting. The
blow was a strike aimed at the heart of his character. What pride Arthur Weasley had was not found in tangible things like expensive
brooms or robes of silk. Nor was it nurtured on the approval of strangers, or
awards that could decorate an office or den. No, his ego was grounded in a
morality both inborn and cultivated. It was a foundation so strong that only
one thing was powerful enough to shake it – those he loved. Percy knew his
father cared about what the family – what
he – thought of him. A small, tingling recognition of that face eased the
tension in Percy’s chest while simultaneously adding a dull weight to it.
However, there was
little time for Percy to ponder his being. Mr. Weasley
abruptly pushed his chair back and stood, words finally boiling to the surface.
“If you don’t wish to take pride in this family – in me or any of us – then I
won’t shove it down your throat by force!” Turning, he seemed indecisive of
whether to leave or just pace. His quick steps balanced the slow stoop of his
shoulders as he strode from the room, pausing at the door. “I raised you to be
better than this.”
That – that was the
invocation, Percy realized. The words blew the wind harsher than the breeze
from the windows. Mouth working to find moisture, Percy repeated, “you’re very wrong.” Pushing his own chair back, he stood and
approached his father, trembling from far more than fright. The lines and
planes of his siblings’ faces barely registered as his periphery vision caught
them. If they spoke, he did not hear them. Later, when alone but still pained,
he would find satisfaction in that.
But for now, his gaze
rested solely on his father. Mr. Weasley turned, his
mouth opening, lines around the edges crinkling, deepening.
For reasons Percy
fervently claimed had nothing to do with fear, pride, or anger, he cut in
before his father could speak, “You raised me to be like you, in the areas you deem important!”
“I raised you to see
what is good in people, to see that some things are more important – “
“Well, I’m not like
you! Any of you.”
For once, he did not turn and face those he addressed, though he had learned
that was how one drove home a point. He’d learned that from books and public
figures, and it had served him better than any chess move Mr. Weasley taught.
It had earned him a
past his father and up the cluttered steps to his room. Once at his room he
paused, ready to slam the door shut when on a sudden whim, he forced himself to
primly close it. Then, realizing
only he would understand the subtle jibe of him being mature
enough not to slam things, he spun and threw himself down on his bed. Breathing
heavily, he gazed around the shadows of his bedroom, replete with neat stacks
of books and even rows of shelves. He’d even painted the inside of his haven a
different color than the rest of the Burrow. It never
seemed to mesh that well, but now suddenly was glaringly unfit.
His hand thrust itself
beneath his bed and he dragged out a suitcase. Noises below caught his
attention and he had to fight not to creep to the door to listen. In his mind
he could imagine his mother desiring to come to him, to scold him, to wail, to
punish… and then to feed.
No one came. No
sibling to hex him, no mother to guilt him, no father to shame him.
Nor did they come to throw
And neither would he go to them.
The wind blew as he
quietly exited the Burrow scant
hours later. But now, no words were carried upon it to reach inside of him, or
to gust out in his exhale.