Disclaimer: Harry Potter world belongs to JKR, I’m just
A/N: My beta is the best. Without her, you
wouldn’t like this story half as much as you (hopefully) do now.
A Road to Home,
A ray of sun made its way through
the trees, forming a mesmerising pattern
of light and shadows on the forest ground. Fascinated, Percy tilted his head
and watched the little blotches and stripes change their places and shapes,
looking rather like dancers in a ballroom. All of a sudden, a rabbit hopped on
it, disturbing the pattern. It looked around for a fraction of second and then,
as suddenly as it had appeared, it was gone.
Percy looked up from the ground
and sighed. Everything was so familiar, so comfortable – yet he felt like a
stranger. He had spent his whole childhood playing in these forests, playing
hide-and-seek with the others and climbing trees and looking for useful plants
their mother had asked them to collect. He knew every tree, every turn of path,
every rock. And still he felt as if he was in the wrong place. Sighing again,
he started walking, his feet subconsciously taking him to old places, filled
with bittersweet memories.
Here was the rock Fred had once
accidentally transfigured into a cauldron with Bill’s new wand right before
Bill’s first year at Hogwarts. Mum nearly had a heart attack when she found out
– what if something had happened? What if
got hurt? What if…? Arthur had simply laughed it off, telling Molly not to
worry about it – this happened to most young wizards and witches. Instead, he
had said, she should be proud of their son, managing a transfiguration as
complicated as that at such an early age. And so Mum had laughed too and patted
Fred on his head and they didn’t get punished at all.
And here was the crooked tree Ron
had fallen from at seven and bruised his knee. Charlie had carried him home and
Mum had yelled at them for letting him climb so high up. He remembered tears in
Ron’s eyes and Mum’s red cheeks and Charlie’s hunched shoulders. He remembered
everything as vividly as if it had happened only yesterday.
And here…Percy raised his eyes to
look up at the enormous tree in front of him. It was an old oak, gnarled and knobbly
but still there. He remembered Dad saying that the tree was over three hundred
years old. It was amazing that the ancient tree was still standing after all this
time, after all the hundreds of thunder storms it had survived – and,
especially, after several generations of Weasley children who had used it as
their home in the forest, climbing up and down, swinging on its branches and
everything else only a child could dream of.
He remembered everything so
clearly it hurt almost physically. He looked the tree up and down. In a whirl
of thoughts, he had gathered his robes with one hand and taken hold of one of
the lower branches with the other. It took him some time – more than it had
used to take – to get up, but after a few minutes of struggling he was gingerly
perched on a particularly wide and strong branch that had a special curve in it
as if it was designed for sitting and swinging your legs.
Percy closed his eyes and let the
sun caress his face and the soft wind play with his red hair. Why had he come
here? He had been in his London flat, doing his
Ministry job – well, at least he was supposed to be doing it. Instead, he had
been sitting at his desk, his paperwork before him, head in his hands.
Everything had become so difficult.
It had seemed so simple, even trivial. He knew what he could achieve and knew
what to do for it. He hadn’t hesitated to argue about it with Dad – but it had
grown out of his hands and somehow he had found himself alone in London with all of his
belongings in a suitcase. Completely alone. He had stayed with one of his old
schoolmates and, after a while, rented a flat in Muggle London. He had moved in
and tried to make it into a home but he had failed miserably. It wasn’t even
close to a home; it was simply a place where he slept. And so he had thrown
himself into his work at the Ministry, trying desperately to avoid Dad because
every time he saw him, it felt like a Cruciatus curse to the heart.
But it had done no good – and now
everything had got out of hand. The Ministry had officially announced that You-Know-Who
was back and now he had no idea what to do with his life.
So today he had been sitting and
thinking about everything, when suddenly his mind had been flooded with
thoughts about The Burrow and his childhood and…his family. He had felt a
sudden urge to come here. And so he had taken his wand out and Apparated to the
Percy opened his eyes. He had
been so lost in his thoughts that he had almost fallen asleep. He sighed,
rubbing his temples. Why did everything have to be so difficult? Oh, to be a
child again, without any troubles, happy and carefree! Suddenly his eyes
widened as he remembered – it’s surely not – it can’t still be there – can it?
He heaved himself up, balanced on
the branch and walked, step by step, to the trunk of the oak. He stuck his hand
into a hole in the trunk, only an inch wider than his fist. Carefully, his
fingers searched around until he got hold of something soft, something like
cloth. He curled his fingers around it and pulled his hand back, revealing a
small, dirty doll.
This was Ginny’s old doll,
Melanie. Bill had given it to her on her fifth birthday; he had made it
himself. The little doll had been Ginny’s most precious thing; she had carried
it with her everywhere. And then, on her eleventh birthday, they had decided to
bury it here, in their favourite playing spot, as a goodbye to her childhood.
He had almost forgotten it but now, standing there, the doll in his hand, he remembered
everything so clearly: Ginny’s held-back tears, Ron’s hand on her shoulder,
Fred’s and George’s solemn faces, his own strange sadness. It had been a goodbye
to their childhoods as well.
He almost fell. It took him nearly
a minute to regain his balance before he looked down, his whole body shivering
and his heart thumping. It was Ginny, red hair in two braids, brown eyes round with
surprise, looking up at him.
“Gin,” he whispered.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, craning her neck to look at him.
“I’m…I’m not sure, actually,” he
answered, his voice quivering.
“Stay there. I’m coming up.”
She disappeared from view but after
a few seconds he saw her head rising from the branches. In a matter of moments
she was standing beside him, looking at him, squinting in the sunlight.
“We need to talk,” she said after
a minute of silence.
Percy sighed. He moved to the
crook and sat down, Ginny followed and seated herself next to him.
“So. Why are you here? You yell
at Dad, you offend Mum, you run away, you break their hearts. You don’t even
look Dad in the eye at the work, you send back your jumper. You don’t visit Dad
at the hospital, you don’t write, you act like you don’t know us at all. You
lie about Harry, you hurt everyone who has ever known you. And now you’re here.
He rubbed his temples again.
Everything Ginny said was true and he knew it. But it didn’t make it any
“I know, Gin. I’ve been a prat
and I know that, too. And I completely understand if you don’t want to talk to
me – to see me – again.”
“Why are you here?” she asked,
looking into his eyes, her gaze not wavering for a moment.
“I really don’t know,” he said
with a heavy sigh. “I was at my flat, doing my work and then suddenly I felt
that I had to come here. And so I did. My feet simply took me here, to this
tree. All these memories…Do you know what I found, Gin?” He extended his hand.
Ginny grabbed her doll from his
palm. She stared at it for a moment and asked, not looking at him “It was still
here? After all this time?”
He nodded. Something glinted on
Ginny’s cheek and he was taken aback when he realised it was a tear – and it
was not the only one.
“Oh, Gin. Don’t cry, darling,
please don’t cry,” he whispered, feeling a tightness in his throat. He tentatively
put his had over her shoulders and suddenly he found Ginny pressing against
“Shh, it’s okay,” he whispered,
putting his other hand around her and hugging her. She continued sobbing but it
slowly subsided until they were simply sitting quietly, clinging to each other.
“You know,” Ginny murmured, “I
still think you’re a prat. I’m just willing to forgive you. Because I see how
Mum and Dad are suffering. And -” she turned her face towards him and smiled
sadly “- I’ve missed you, too.”
Percy smiled back. “It’s nice of
They sat for a long time until
Ginny stretched herself and turned to him.
“Come on, Perce. Let’s go home.”
“No. I’m not coming,” he said, turning
away from his sister.
“What? Are you mad? Of course
you’re coming,” she said, yanking his sleeve.
He turned his head and looked into
her eyes. “Can’t you see it, Gin? It’s over. I’m not one of us…one of you
anymore. I chose to leave and it’s not as easy as simply deciding that I want
to come back now. Things have changed.”
“Stop being a martyr! You chose
to leave, you can choose to come back, too.”
“You stop being so childish.”
“Well, if you want to trade
insults, I think you are a coward. But
that doesn’t change the fact that none of us has been the same since you left.
Don’t do this to us, Perce. Don’t do this to yourself. Please.”
Percy looked at her face, her
brown eyes looking pleadingly into his.
“Please,” she whispered, clinging
to his sleeve.
He bit his lip. Then… “Okay. I’m
coming with you. But don’t be too disappointed if they throw me out, okay?”
She smiled. “Silly.”
Standing up, she extended a hand
to him. He smiled and took it, heaving himself up. They climbed down and turned
towards The Burrow. After a few minutes of walking, Ginny put her hand into his
and looked up at him.
“I’m so glad you’re home, Perce,”
He smiled back but remained
silent – The Burrow had come into sight through the trees. And there was somebody
in the garden, crouching beside the vegetable patch.
“Mum, look!” Ginny yelled, waving
towards the figure. Molly raised her head and looked in their direction.