Because I Can
Arthur Weasley trailed after his third-eldest son, taking rapid steps in an attempt to catch up. “Wait a moment, Percy,” he said, panting slightly, “There’s no need to walk so fast.”
“Of course there is,” Percy said without turning around. “My appointment’s at nine twenty-seven and it’s already nine twenty-five and I detest being late for anything, as you should know.”
With an exasperated sigh, Arthur grabbed the back of his son’s robes, bringing him to an undignified, sudden halt. Percy finally turned around, an affronted expression on his face. “Father, what in Merlin’s name—“
“Percy, there’s no reason to walk so fast because the Apparition Test Centre is right here,” he said, indicating the door to his right.
Percy stood still for a moment before turning on his heel and entering the room. Arthur followed him through the door, nodding to the man who sat behind the reception desk. “Morning, Felix.”
The young, dark-haired wizard smiled readily. “Ah, Mr Weasley! I assume you’re for your son’s Apparition Test?”
Percy stepped in front of his father, extending his hand. “Pleased to meet you. I’m Percy Weasley, Department for International Magical Cooperation.”
Felix shook his hand. “Felix Balfour. You work under Barty Crouch, do you?”
Percy visibly swelled with pride. “Has he mentioned me?”
Felix shrugged. “No.”
Percy’s shoulders drooped slightly. “Ah.” He frowned, turned, and went to sit on one of the uncomfortable-looking chairs in the small waiting room.
Arthur leaned conspiratorially down towards Felix. “He’s having a little trouble getting recognised here at the Ministry.” Straightening, he asked in a louder voice, “Are the tests running on time, Felix?”
Felix glanced at the timepiece on his desk. “No, I’m afraid you’ve got about five minutes yet to wait. The last young lady had a little difficulty with the second section of the test, and we’re still cleaning up the mess. Have a seat, and I’ll go see how things are going.” He stood and exited through a near door.
Arthur walked over to sit down next to Percy. “Nervous?”
“Nervous? Me? Of course not!” The forced nature of Percy’s hearty laughter was painfully obvious. “I have no doubts.”
“Well, son, if you want me to help you do some last minute revising…”
Percy looked scandalized. “Father! Last minute revising means first minute failing. If you have to cram, your test’s a sham. A wizard who waits—“
“Percy!” Arthur exclaimed, waving his arms in defeat, “I get it! You don’t need to revise for the exam.”
“I should think not,” Percy said solemnly. “Really, as if it weren’t bad enough that I’m getting my Apparition license an entire year after my peers, that I must be the only Ministry employee who has to rely on the Floo Network…”
Arthur refrained from rolling his eyes at the familiar complaint. “I’ve told you before, plenty of wizards prefer the Floo Network to Apparition, especially for long distances.”
“What about short distances?”
“You can Floo short distances, too. It’s not exclusive, you know that.”
“What about going from my bedroom to the kitchen? I can’t Floo down there.”
“You have legs, don’t you? Walk down the stairs.”
“What if I didn’t want to? What if I wanted to just be there instantly?”
“Percy, you’re being ridiculous.”
Percy crossed his arms. “Well, then. When I get my license I’m going to Apparate down to breakfast every morning, just because I can.”
Arthur leaned back resignedly into the chair. “Do whatever you want, son. It’s your own lookout.”
Percy’s head snapped to look at his father. “What is that supposed to mean? You don’t think I can do it?”
Arthur shook his head. “That’s not what I meant at all. I only meant that your mother would likely throw a fit if you were to startle her while she’s trying to make breakfast, that’s all.”
“I don’t startle mother.”
“You would if you Apparated right behind her while she was cooking sausages.”
“Mum hasn’t cooked sausages for breakfast in three and a half years.”
“Maybe she should. I like sausages.”
Percy stared at his father. “What does that have to do with the price of asphodel in Queerditch Marsh?”
Arthur’s response was prevented by Felix’s reappearance in the room. “Madam Raymond is ready for you, Mr Weasley.”
Percy was still for a moment, before veritably leaping to his feet and exclaiming jovially, “All right then, off to the test I go! Not a worry, Father, mind you! I’ve no doubts at all!”
Felix placed a hand on Percy’s back. “Just through this door, Mr Weasley, that’s it, through this door on your left.”
Percy walked obligingly in the right direction, but shook himself free of Felix, turning around and saying, “I’m quite sure I can find a door, thank you all the same, Mr Balfour.” He turned back around to face a blank wall. Sighing, he turned to face Felix. “Where’s it gone?”
Felix grinned. “Ever been to Gringott’s?”
Percy frowned. “A rhetorical question, I trust?”
“Well, much like high-security vaults, this door can only be operated with the aid of employees.” Felix placed his hands on Percy’s shoulders and turned him around to face the “blank” wall. “There’s the door.”
Percy started. “So it is.”
Felix stayed with his hands on Percy’s shoulders until the younger man had completely exited the room. When Percy had left, Felix gave Arthur a comforting smile, and walked back over to his desk and began filling out some paperwork Arthur cleared his throat and asked, “So, Felix, how long do these tests last anymore?”
“Fifteen minutes, Mr Weasley, barring unfortunate mishap,” Felix said, obviously from habit.
“Ah,” murmured Arthur indistinctly, and proceeded to spend fifteen minutes absently drumming his fingers on the arm of the chair.
* * *
“The text on this license seems rather smudged, if you don’t mind my saying so. Do they always turn out so? Is it the equipment you’re using? I can’t imagine how this Department continues to work with equipment in such a state. Mr Crouch’s Department—“
“Smile for the camera, Percy!” Arthur hurriedly interjected, finally finding a way to stop his son’s voice. The photographer snapped the boy’s picture, took the film, and dropped it into the developing potion.
“Say, Roger,” Arthur said in a low voice to the photographer, “How long until that photograph is developed?”
Roger smiled. “Don’t worry, Mr Weasley, the photographs don’t have to be nice, just visible. This is a fast-developing potion; your son will have his license’s photo in two minutes.”
Arthur watched his son scrutinize the quality of his new Apparition license tried not to sigh audibly with relief.