The Sugar Quill
Author: Ashtur an'Vangan (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Cry Havoc  Chapter: Chapter One: Love and Courage
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Cry Havoc

Cry Havoc

Chapter 1: Love and Courage

Ashtur an’Vangan

 

A/N: As always special thanks to Zsenya for her excellent beta, as well as Kizmet for some thoughts while I pulled this chapter together.

 

 

  The room 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 had.

 

  The young 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.

 

  He looked 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.

 

  He 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 knocked.

 

  “Just a 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.

 

  When the woman saw who was at her door, her smile disappeared and she said, “Percy.”

 

  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.

 

  Penelope 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…”

 

  “Treated 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.”

 

  “Percy, 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.”

 

  “Penny…” Percy interrupted.

 

  “No 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 behind her.

 

  Percy 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. 

 

  As he 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…

 

  Pulling 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. 

 

  With one 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.

 

  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.

 

  Before 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.

 

  “Son,” he said simply.

 

  Reaching deep into himself, Percy looked directly at his parents and said, “I’m sorry.”

 

  The room 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.” 

 

  “Proud? Of me?  After what I’ve done?”

 

  “Yes, proud of you Percy.  You’ve become an adult.”

 

  The 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.”

 

  Percy sat 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.

 

  Somehow 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.”

 

  Percy‘s 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.”

 

  Percy and 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.

 

  Percy 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.

 

  Finally, 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.

 

  “I bloody 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!”

 

  In 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.

 

  “How 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!”

 

  Ron spun 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.

 

  The 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.

 

  “Percy,” said a soft voice behind him.  He didn’t turn around; he couldn’t face Ginny, not now, maybe not ever.

 

  “Percy, did you really say that to Ron?” 

 

  Percy 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.

 

  “Oh Percy, how could you?” said Ginny sadly.

 

  “I…I 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.

 

  “Percy, 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.”

 

  “I know 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 things.”

 

  Percy was 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.”

 

  They sat 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 you?”

 

  “What? Harry?” said Ginny, nonplussed.  “What makes you think that?”

 

  Percy 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.”

 

  “Percy,” 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.”

 

  Looking 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.”

 

  Hugging Percy one last time, Ginny said, “That isn’t home, that’s just the place you sleep.  This is your home Percy.”

 

  A moment 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.

 

 

 

Daily Prophet

 

Fudge under fire.

 

Minister 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.

 

 One 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.”

 

  Fudge 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.

//
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