Love and Courage
always special thanks to Zsenya for her excellent beta, as well as Kizmet for
some thoughts while I pulled this chapter together.
was dark except for a single spluttering candle that seemed ready to surrender
at any moment. What little light there was revealed a room that was bare and
nearly empty. The faint light illuminated a small table and chair, as well as
a few other absolute necessities, but not much more. The walls were without
any sort of decoration. No pictures or posters, no hangings, nothing to break
the monotony of the beige paint. The cold fireplace boasted nothing on the
mantle, and the only sound to be heard was the slow breathing of the occupant.
Originally, he hadn’t worried about decorating the room because he didn’t have
time. All he really used the room for was sleeping. While he had diligently
learned how to cook from his mother, he rarely ate there, preferring to spend
as much time as he could at work, and so grabbing a bite to eat at one of the
establishments nearby. However, in the last two weeks, he hadn’t been nearly
so enthused about going to the office. In fact, he had come to loathe his job,
and all that it stood for. Once, he had seen it as a ticket to the life he had
always dreamed of. Now, it was the hammer that had destroyed the life he once
man sat in his chair, lost in thought again, holding his horn-rimmed glasses in
one hand, pinching the bridge of his nose with the other. He’d been over the
events of the last two years time and again, methodically picking apart every
moment, every second. At first, he’d wanted to blame his superiors for what
had happened to his life. Surely it couldn’t be his fault. However, the more
he thought about it, the more he came to realize that while they’d certainly
made more than their fair share of mistakes and missteps, he could not hold
them responsible for what he had done. He had chosen to do it of his own free
will. Now that everything had fallen apart, he was alone, more alone than he
had ever been. At one time, he was never alone, even when he wanted to be.
Countless times, he had wished to be alone, to have uninterrupted peace and
quiet. Now he had it, and he loathed it. The fact that he was the one who
cut himself off from all of that made it that much more painful. Could the
bridges be rebuilt? He didn’t think so. Why should others forgive him? Yet,
he knew that he had to go to them. Even if they never accepted him again, he
wanted to speak with them, and apologize for what he had done.
up, and glanced at a bottle filled with amber liquid on the counter. No, for
what he needed to do that sort of liquid courage would not be of any help
whatsoever. He needed to summon the courage up from somewhere else. The
courage that he was supposed to have as a Gryffindor. Breathing deeply, he
took his wand in his hand and disappeared from the small flat.
reappeared a few moments later in the lobby of a small building just off Diagon
Alley. He’d been here before, but only a few times. At one time, the young
man had expected that he’d spend nearly as much time here as he had in his own
flat, but life hadn’t worked out that way. He walked up the stairs and came to
the door of a corner flat on the second floor. He was about to knock, but a
soft, muffled soprano voice came though the door, singing a tune he wasn’t
familiar with. Just hearing the voice made it that much harder for him to
follow through with his task, but finally he forced his hand to the door and
minute!” a cheerful voice called. A moment later, he could hear the door being
unlocked. What was it that she called the thing she had in the door? A dead
bolt? The young man didn’t quite understand why she had such a thing in her
door, since any second year student could defeat it in seconds, but she’d said
she felt more secure with it in her door. A leftover from her Muggle days he
supposed. After what seemed like hours, the door finally opened, and a young
woman with curly black hair stood framed in the doorway. The young man’s
breath caught in his throat, she was even more beautiful than he remembered.
woman saw who was at her door, her smile disappeared and she said, “Percy.”
Weasley tried to speak, but the words he wanted to say could not find their way
out of his throat. He wanted to reach out, to stroke her pale cheek, to run
his hand through that lustrous hair, but he knew those days were gone.
didn’t invite him into her flat. Instead, she stood in the door, the raw pain
obvious on her face. “Percy, what are you doing here?” she said quietly.
“Penelope, I wanted to apologize. I know that I’ve treated you poorly…”
me poorly?” Penelope said, still quiet, but tension creeping into her voice.
“I guess you could call it that. You know, my last year at Hogwarts, when you
were working for Mr. Crouch, I could understand how we might have grown
apart. You had your job, and I was still stuck at school. Every morning, I’d
look for an owl, but they’d always pass me by. Even so, I was sure that when I
moved to London we’d get things back on track. Silly me. You came by here two
times. Twice. Nice to know how important I am to you.”
“Penelope, I know, and I’m sorry.”
it’s not that easy. You can’t just pop up in my doorway and have everything be
the way that it was. I thought I knew you. All my friends told me that I
could do so much better. That I didn’t need a self absorbed person like you.”
Percy, listen. I thought I knew the real Percy. The one that cared about
people other than himself. The one that was different deep down than the Head
Boy everyone else knew. It seems I was wrong.”
“Penelope, I didn’t come here to get you back. That’s not what I want. Well,
it is, but not right now. What I’m trying to say, well, is this. I know what
I did to you is wrong. I let myself get consumed with my big important job.
I’m sorry.” The words came in a rush, words he had rehearsed in his mind more
times than he could count, but now they had a raw, desperate edge as they
finally spilled out.
Penelope’s face betrayed her own internal struggles. Finally, in the same soft,
even tone she’d used all along she said, “Percy, I see. Maybe someday, but not
right now.” Having said that, she walked back into her flat and shut the door
stood looking at the door until he couldn’t stand it any more. He wasn’t
entirely sure how long he stood there. It may have only been a few seconds,
but it seemed like much more, like an hour or more. It didn’t really make a
difference. The door in front of him was closed, in more ways than one. He’d
expected her to scream and yell. Somehow, the fact that she never raised her
voice made it that much worse.
left the building, he instinctively turned left down Diagon Alley. There was a
store on the next block to the right that he’d avoided since the day it had
opened. At first, he’d avoided it because he was embarrassed to have his name
associated with such a disreputable business, even indirectly. The last week
or two had been different. He still didn’t want to get too close to the shop
because of shame, but it was an entirely different sort of shame, his own. For
the first time that night, Percy smiled, a small wry smile that barely turned
the corners of his mouth. It was rather silly to be worried about running into
the twins under the circumstances…
out his wand, he took several deep breaths, trying to steady his jangled
nerves. Apparation was never an easy thing to do, and he was far more nervous
this evening than he had been the day he took his test. He’d done all his
studies with his customary diligence in preparation for that day, and that day
he was confident that he would be able to Apparate in good form. That day, his
confidence was well placed, and he passed his test with flying colors. He just
wished he had that confidence tonight.
last deep breath, he disappeared from Diagon Alley and appeared in front of a
ramshackle country house. Glancing around quickly, he was a bit relieved not
seeing anyone around. As he walked to the door, he found himself saying
“please be Mum,” over and over. It felt strange to be knocking at this door.
He’d walked in and out for years as one who belonged. More than anything else,
he wished that he could still do so, but somehow, it just felt wrong to walk
in, to assume that he would be welcome. Instead, for the first time in ten
years (since the twins had somehow contrived to lock him outside wearing only a
towel and pink fuzzy diricrawl slippers) he knocked on the door.
opened, and Fred appeared at the door, a scowl appearing on his face the
instant he realized who was standing in front of him. “What do you want, you
git?” Fred growled.
Percy could answer, his mother came flying out of the kitchen, and swept him
into a tight hug. The next few moments were a blur, as Percy was soon sitting
in the kitchen, a cup of tea in his hands, still unable to understand a word
his mother was saying in a tear choked voice. Soon enough, Percy’s father
appeared in the room. Percy had seen his father a few times over the last months,
generally at the Ministry. He had seen his father, but he hadn’t said a single
word to him since that argument almost a year ago. Percy hadn’t even gone by
the hospital to visit his father over Christmas. Percy watched his father’s
face carefully. He wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Percy was shocked to
see how much older and more careworn his father seemed, yet after a moment his
father smiled, and many of those years on his face faded away.
deep into himself, Percy looked directly at his parents and said, “I’m sorry.”
fell silent, except for a small, choked sob coming from his mother. His father
looked at him, searching until finally he smiled warmly and said “Percy, I’m
proud of you.”
Of me? After what I’ve done?”
proud of you Percy. You’ve become an adult.”
confusion on Percy’s face must have been obvious, as Arthur smiled and
continued, “Percy, being an adult is not about being right all the time. It’s
being willing to admit that you are wrong. That’s what’s important. Besides,
you aren’t the only one who was wrong. Your mother and I certainly made
mistakes in all of this too.”
in stunned silence. His father was proud of him! Proud? After all he’d done.
After he had abandoned his family. After everything that had happened. After
his own small role in getting Professor Dumbledore out of Hogwarts.
Arthur must have guessed what was going through Percy’s head, as he reached
over, and putting his hand on Percy’s shoulder said “You are my son.”
parents looked at one another, and seemed to come to an agreement without a
single word. Then Molly turned to the both of them and said, “All right you
two, get out of my kitchen! It’s time for me to make supper, and you will be
staying of course,” she said in a voice that left absolutely no room to
consider doing anything else. “The twins are already here tonight, since they
were hungry for a real, home-cooked meal.”
his father spent the next hour deep in conversation in his father’s study. At
first, they spoke cautiously, afraid to reopen the wounds that were just
tonight starting to heal. In time though, they turned to discussing the
situation in the Wizarding World, and Minister Fudge’s attempts to deal with
You Know Who’s appearance. They were still deep in conversation when Molly
called them down to eat.
wasn’t sure what to expect when he sat down at the table, but it didn’t take
long for his worst fears to be confirmed. Looking directly across the table,
the twins were glaring at him, not once taking their eyes off of him long
enough to look at the shepherd’s pie they were eating. What was worse was
what Percy sensed coming from his left. He didn’t even need to look over there
to feel the waves of anger and resentment coming from that end of the table.
Percy turned and said “Ron”. As softly as Percy had spoken, it was still
enough to set off the volcano that had been slowly building up pressure.
well can’t believe you have the nerve to come back here!” exploded Ron at the
top of his voice. “Why should we show you any kind of family loyalty? You
certainly didn’t mind telling me to be disloyal! I’m not like you. I don’t
abandon friends just so I can wear that stupid head boy badge! Maybe you don’t
mind abandoning friends or family for ambition, but I’m not like that, and I
bloody well hope I never will be!”
desperation, Percy looked around, hoping that someone would step in and put an
end to this, but his parents seemed as stunned at Ron’s outburst as he was.
could you even think of telling me to abandon Harry?” continued Ron in a voice
nearly as loud as Bagman’s magically amplified voice at the Quidditch World
Cup. “Harry’s the best friend I’ve ever had, and you tell me to throw him away
like yesterday’s Quibbler! If it weren’t for Harry, we wouldn’t even
have a sister anymore!” he said, waving furiously in Ginny’s direction. “What
was it you said? Oh yeah, that Harry can be ‘unbalanced and possibly
violent.’ Well guess what Percy, you got that wrong, I’m the one that’s
unbalanced and possibly violent, and if you don’t stay out of my sight, I’ll
prove it to you!”
around and stormed up the stairs to his room, slamming it with such force that
the ghoul in the attic started shrieking. Percy looked around the room and saw
everyone staring at him in stunned shock. They hadn‘t known, they couldn‘t
have known. The look on their faces made that much clear; Ron hadn’t ever told
them about that cursed letter he’d sent.
courage that had seen him through that night finally reached its end. Ashamed
of himself and what he’d become, Percy ran out the door as fast as he could,
into the field behind the Burrow. Ignoring the scurrying gnomes, he pulled out
his wand, ready to leave once and for all. He was shaking so badly that his
wand soon ended up on the ground, and Percy frantically scrabbled around on the
ground looking for it. He needed to get away, to escape.
said a soft voice behind him. He didn’t turn around; he couldn’t face Ginny,
not now, maybe not ever.
did you really say that to Ron?”
didn’t answer, but he also stopped hunting for his wand and just stayed there
on his hands and knees, his head hanging down. Percy’s silence was more
eloquent than any words could have ever been.
Percy, how could you?” said Ginny sadly.
don’t know anymore. It had seemed so important, so right at the time. Fudge
kept going on and on about how much trouble Harry was, and about how Harry and
Dumbledore would have to be brought down. I wanted to help Ron, I really did,”
Percy said, still looking away from his sister.
you know Harry, you know everything he’s been through. You know what he’s done
for all of us, for me. You should have known better than listen to what Fudge
was saying about him. You know he’s better than that.”
Ginny, I know,” said Percy, finally turning around to look at her, surprised at
how much she had grown in the last year. The growth wasn’t in her body, but in
her spirit. She wasn’t the same person she had been. Percy had heard she’d
been in the Ministry that awful night, and now he could see it clearly
reflected in her eyes. She seemed so much bigger than him in that moment, and
it took all the strength he had left to croak, “I’ve made such a mess of
surprised when Ginny smiled sadly and hugged him. “Yes you have Percy, but we
all do that. At least you didn’t put four people in the hospital wing for half
the school year.”
there quietly for a time when suddenly a thought came to Percy and forced
itself out of his mouth before he could stop it. “You still love him, don’t
Harry?” said Ginny, nonplussed. “What makes you think that?”
sighed, and decided that if he’d already asked the question, he may as well see
it through. “You just seem so concerned about him.”
said Ginny softly, “a little girl’s dreams of romance can die away. That
doesn’t mean that the care and concern die with it. It’s hard to explain. I
owe him my life, and that has created a bond between us. It’s not love, or at
least that kind of love. That doesn’t make it any weaker though. He can be
very irritating at times you know. You have no idea how mad he can make me.
Reminds me of my brothers,” she said, looking straight at Percy and winking.
“I still care, and I think I always will.”
down at the ground, Percy happened to notice his wand right next to his foot.
Bending down, he said to Ginny, “I need to go home.”
Percy one last time, Ginny said, “That isn’t home, that’s just the place you
sleep. This is your home Percy.”
later, Percy reappeared in his flat, and collapsed into his chair, exhausted.
As worn out as he was by the days events, he still found it very hard to fall
asleep that night.
of Magic Cornelius Fudge finds himself under increasingly harsh criticism for
his handling of the return of You Know Who. While the Dark Lord has not made a
move since the defection of the Dementors from Azkaban, the calls for action
against him have continued to grow.
particularly harsh critic is Amos Diggory. Reliable sources have informed the
Daily Prophet that Diggory’s son, Cedric, was the one of the first victims of
the Dark Lord since his return. “We’ve got this murderer running around free,
and Fudge hasn’t done anything but try to protect his reputation!” said Diggory
today in an exclusive interview. “If Fudge had put half the effort into
capturing You Know Who that he put into discrediting Albus Dumbledore, they’d
all be rotting away in Azkaban right now.”
has defended his actions, saying that the Ministry is aggressively seeking the
Dark Lord, and says that simply because we haven’t heard about Ministry
activities doesn’t mean that they aren’t doing anything.