The Sugar Quill
Author: Poppy P (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: I'm Like a Bird  Chapter: Chapter Two: If You're Gone
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IF YOU’RE GONE

part 2 of my Percy story

A/N: My appreciation to Alphie for allowing me to reference her wonderful story Plugs and outlets. A thank you to everyone at the Pensieve who made suggestions for the ring. As always a big thank you to Zsenya for the beta read and SQ for posting. Standard Disclaimer: I own nothing!

 

I think I've already lost you
I think you're already gone.
I think I'm finally scared now
You think I'm weak - But I think you're wrong
I think you're already leaving
Feels like your hand is on the door
I thought this place was an empire
But now I'm relaxed - I can't be sure
 
 
I look up at the clock as my son Percy’s hand moves from traveling to home. I was getting quite worried about him as his had been on ‘traveling’ for the past hour.

Since Percy Apparates to and from his job at the Ministry, an hour is an awfully long time. I breathe a heavy sigh of relief and glance up at the clock again to check on all my children. Bill is at home in Egypt, Charlie is working late tonight in Romania, Ron and Ginny are at school and both the twins’ handles are pointing to ‘You don’t want to know’. Oh well, at least they’re safe, and these days, one can’t take that for granted.

I rush into the kitchen where I’ve kept a warming charm on Percy’s dinner. He looks up, surprised to see me.

"Mum, what’re you doing up? I thought you and Dad would be asleep."

"Your father’s asleep, but I was worried."

Percy looks contrite as he sinks his tall frame into a chair at the kitchen table, "Sorry, thought I told Dad to tell you I’d be working late."

"He mentioned it, but Percy dear, it doesn’t take an hour to Apparate home from the Ministry."

"I didn’t Apparate," he ducks his head and runs a finger along a groove on the wooden table, "I flew."

"You what?" I ask in disbelief. Percy loves to Apparate! This is so unusual that I look at him quickly. Percy won’t meet my eyes. He just runs his finger back and forth in the groove before answering.

"I flew, borrowed an office broom. Thought it was a nice evening for a flight."

Now I know something’s wrong. Percy hates to fly. I also feel a pang of guilt because I realize that Percy has been quiet and preoccupied for several days. It’s easy to overlook the child who never gives you any grief. Also, I’ve been trying to give him his space so as not to overwhelm him now that he’s the only child currently at home. I know it’s been difficult for him what with the twin’s joke shop becoming so successful that they could afford to move out on their own. Deciding it’s high time I talk to him, I bustle about making tea. Tea always helps when someone’s upset.

"Love, what’s wrong? You’ve not been yourself for days. Is it getting too difficult with the Ministry? Because Dumbledore would understand, you know. He wouldn’t want to place you in any kind of danger."

"Mum, I…" he taps his hand restlessly against the table, then finally looks up at me with such a yearning expression that I catch my breath in disbelief. I haven’t seen this expression on my son’s face since he was a very small child. He’s always been so reserved. With seven children someone was always getting shorted somewhere, but Percy never protested. He always waited patiently for his turn without complaint. To see this naked expression of wanting on my face is so foreign, that I know something must be terribly wrong. Quickly I move over to a chair next to him and put an arm around his shoulders. Fully expecting him to pull away, I’m shocked to feel him lean in towards me like a little boy.

"Percival, what’s wrong?"

I think you're so mean - I think we should try
I think I could need - this in my life
I think I'm just scared - I think too much
I know this is wrong it's a problem I'm dealing

"Penny doesn’t love me anymore, Mother." His voice is hoarse with disbelief.

"What do you mean, Dear?"

"She doesn’t love me anymore," he repeats. "We had a row a few weeks ago, something about not spending enough time together. I thought she’d come to her senses once she had time to reflect. I mean, Dumbledore needs me. She knows that. But so far, she hasn’t come around."

I put both arms around him now. "Have you tried to get a hold of her?"

He offers no resistance to my embrace, "I tried, but she won’t take my owls. She had her fireplace blocked. I can’t Apparate because she lives in a Muggle neighborhood. I even took one of those Muggle cabs over, but her parents said," Percy’s voice breaks, "they said…she doesn’t want…to see me."

Fighting the urge to send Penelope Clearwater a Howler, I pull my son a little tighter and rock him gently. I must control myself because I already had to apologize to Ron and Hermione a few months ago for a couple of Howlers I sent impulsively after their broomshed incident. Plus, I remind myself what a sweet girl Penelope’s always been. Always patient with my son who could be a bit pompous and bossy at times. It’s not his fault. Old Head Boy habits die hard. Second Head Boy in the family you know. "Son, do you think you’ve been neglecting Penny lately?"

Percy bristles instantly, "Mum, there’s a war going on…"

"Mmph, yes Percy, I realize that, " I say without reminding him that it took his father and I almost two years to convince him of this, "But don’t you think it’s been a while since you’ve…er…spent an overnight with her?"

"What?"

Percy stiffens in my arms and I see the back of his neck get so red that I imagine it would burn if I touched it. "Honestly Percy, when you tell me you’re going out of town on business and your hand on the clock doesn’t point to ‘work’, what am I supposed to assume?"

Percy pulls away and straightens up in his chair, "Mum…er, what does it point to?"

"You don’t want to know."

"Yes I do!"

"No, really, it points to ‘You don’t want to know’. Silly feature, really. I’ve been begging your father to get rid of it since Bill hit his teen years, but he’s always said he’s too busy. I think I’ve finally got him convinced now that Ginny’s older. I asked him how he would feel if he knew Ginny was…"

"Oy! Mum, please stop," he covers his face with his hand and shudders, "Horrible mental picture. Besides, I wouldn’t want to have to kill Harry next time I see him. We all know how important he is to the war effort." His voice is spiked with bitterness.

"Percy, you know Harry can’t help his destiny. Surely you wouldn’t want to trade places with him."

"Penny said I was no Harry Potter. She made it sound like I wasn’t important to the war effort. And I am Mother, I know I am. It may have taken me a while to come to come around, but I know I’ve been an asset to the resistance."

"Of course you have, Dear. All of my children have been incredibly brave and noble during these horrible times. That’s why I worry constantly. If anything should happen to one of you…" I choke on the words, unable to finish the horrendous thought. I can only be thankful that we’ve been lucky so far. Now Percy takes me into his arms and I marvel at the man my child had become. So why is it so hard form him to see that Penny is the reason he has become this man? I blot my eyes on a napkin and turn to look my son in the eyes. "Percy, do you love Penelope?"

 
If you're gone - maybe it's time to go home
There's an awful lot of breathing room
But I can hardly move
If you're gone - baby you need to come home
Cuz there's a little bit of something me
In everything in you

"Love?" the word trips on his tongue. "I, er…well, you know. We’ve been together since the end of my fifth year, that makes it almost six years we’ve been together, so, er…when two people have been together that long, one assumes…"

"Son," I cup his face in my hands and stare into the light brown eyes that came from me. "What I means is…if, God forbid, something happened to you," I swallow before continuing, "would you regret time you didn’t spend in the office, or time you didn’t spend with the woman you love?"

"Mother," he pushes his glasses up on his nose, "that’s a silly question. Of course I would regret time not spend with Penny. You know that."

"Does Penelope know this as well?"

"She’s a smart girl! She should know." He runs his hand through his bright hair, strongly reminiscent of my youngest son.

"Have you told her?" I force him to look up at me.

"I…er, no, I haven’t told her Mum. But Mum, there’s a war going on." he repeated weakly.

"Exactly Percy. Because there is a war going on, you can’t go around taking people for granted. What if something should happen to Penny?"

"Don’t, Mum! I couldn’t bear it," He replies with an intensity that brings tears to my eyes. This is one of those rare moments when Percy façade is broken through.

We sit silently for a few minutes, sipping tea before I ask him, "So what are you going to do about this dear?"

He scrunches his brow and contemplates the kitchen fireplace before asking, "Mum, do you think twenty is too young to get married?"

I bet you're hard to get over
I bet the room just won't shine
I bet my hands I can stay here
I bet you need - more than you mind

I find myself suddenly choking violently on my tea while Percy pounds on my back and conjures up a fan with his wand to blow air on my face. When I regain some semblance of composure, I gasp one word, "Married?"

The corners of his mouth turn up in a bashful little smile that belies the seriousness in his eyes, "Yes, I’m not going to let her get away. I don’t want to have any regrets. She’s the one, Mum."

Standing up quickly, I pull him out of his chair for an embrace. He’s so tall; I barely come up to the middle of his chest. "I always thought I’d hear these words from Bill or Charlie first." I blot my eyes. "I have something for you." Breaking our embrace, I raise my wand and cry, "Accio Grandmum’s ring!" A tiny, purple, velvet box soars into the kitchen and I catch it. Percy watches as I open the tiny box.

"Grandmum’s ring? He asks.

"Yes," I take the ring gently from its box. It’s a thick band of white gold with a large stone whose color runs between pink and purple.

"Amethyst?"

"Yes," I answer, holding the ring up to the light. "Percy, do you know what an amethyst stands for?"

He shakes his head so I go on, "An amethyst stands for courage. It’s said to sustain the heart so that it doesn’t grow faint. But this ring hasn’t always been this color. When your grandfather was alive it was a diamond. He charmed it so that if he were to die before your grandmother, she could see it and take courage and comfort in his eternal love for her. It’s been this color since grandfather fell in the last war. Before grandmother passed on, she asked me to give this ring to the first one of you boys to propose."

I press the ring gently into his palm. He closes his fingers around it reverently and looks at me with his eyes bright.

"Mum, I don’t know what to say."

"Well that’s a first," I tease gently. "Grandmum charmed it so that when you place it on Penny’s finger it should revert to diamond. May it always be so while I’m alive."

Percy’s mouth twists into a wistful little smile. "I remember Grandfather. This is just like him," he indicates the ring with a shake of his hand. "Good chess player too."

"Yes, I believe Ron gets it from him."

We look at the ring in his palm for a few seconds before I ask, " When will you ask her?"

I think you're so mean - I think we should try
I think I could need - this in my life
I think I'm just scared - that I know too much
I can't relate and that's a problem
I'm feeling

Percy sighs. "First I have to get her to talk to me. So do you think she can forgive me for being such a prat?"

"It may take some time, she’s hurt. But I know she loves you Percy. She wouldn’t have stuck by your side for five years if it weren’t so. Do hurry and make up so that we can have her over for Christmas dinner. It’s become a bit of a tradition now."

"Yes, it’d be nice to ask her when we’re all gathered for dinner."

"Good, you know, I expect Harry and Hermione will be joining us as well. I must say, it’ll be nice having a distraction as things are bound to be a bit awkward with Hermione."

"Yes, well, considering the…spat you had with her, I’m surprised you’ve been so calm about the fact that Penny and I…" he blushes crimson and clears his throat, "spend…nights together."

"Well," I bluster, "it’s entirely different! Ron’s my baby boy. Besides, he’s totally irresponsible! Who knows if he’s using the correct Contraceptus charm? I mean, I know your father gave him the talk, but…"

"Yeah, the old ‘Plugs and Outlets’ speech." Percy rolls his eyes.

"Come again?"

"Nevermind. Look, Hermione’s a smart girl, I’m sure she’d have no problem with a Contraceptus charm."

"Yes, she’s a…. smart girl. Anyway, you are using a good Contraceptus charm, aren’t you?"

"Mum!"

"I mean marriage is one thing, but having children is all together different. Your father said he taught all you boys the Contraceptus charm, but obviously, those weren’t his forte, I mean, there are seven of you."

"Urgh! Too much information, Mum, besides, I reckon my Contraceptus charm is just fine. You’re not a grandmum yet, right?" He quickly changes the subject, "So Harry’s coming for Christmas? Do you think he’s going to bring his big, stupid dog along? Why can’t he leave him in a kennel?"

"Son, about Harry’s dog, we really need to chat." I start to lead him into the living room, when he stops abruptly.

"Sure, we can talk. But do you think we can do something about that clock first?"

I smile at him, "Of course we can Percy."

If you're gone - maybe it's time to go home
There's an awful lot of breathing room
But I can hardly move
If you're gone - baby you need to come home
cuz there's a little bit of something me
In everything in you
 
I think you're so mean - I think we should try
I think I could need - this in my life
I think I'm just scared - do I talk too much
I know it's wrong it's a problem I'm dealing

If you’re gone….

//
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