edit, September 14th: this chapter was reviewed by my Fred (insert standard heart emoji) and small corrections have been made.
"Stop it!" Little Percy yelled out hotly to the twins, as they furrowed about the house with his book collection – six books in total, small, frayed and light. "Give them back to me now!"
Instead of obeying his wishes, they snickered and parted. Each twin was carrying three books tucked under their arms. They were trying not to dissolve into laughter, and Percy was trying not to dissolve into tears.
"You're going to have to catch us, Perce!" One of them – George, no – Fred – called out.
Percy was exceedingly frustrated. He paddled his little legs towards one of them, but they always seemed to make the right turns, not to add on that Percy was clumsy. He felt air skedaddle from his lungs, and a burning feeling linger in his chest. He was tired of running after them, and his head pounded at their laughter.
"Stop it!" Percy called out in desperately. "You're ruining the covers...I'M TELLING MUM!"
George – or Fred – had grabbed onto Percy's leg which made him tumble. They were now running in close proximity to the other, up the stairs. To wreak even more havoc, no doubt. By the end of today, the only thing left in this house will be a few nose-biting teacups and a rubber wand.
The little bookworm stood up abruptly anyway and followed them upstairs.
"I've got you now!" Percy called out in a maniacal delight.
He ran towards their room – they always hid in their room, and always expected Percy not to find them. He tried to open the door but they seemed to have gotten a hold of Charlie or Bill's wand because the doors were locked with a charm!
"I'll tell Bill that you've been stealing wands to do charms again!" he threatened, banging on the door.
He could hear them laughing. Minutes banging and knocking on the door until he felt like his knuckles would bleed, when they must've lifted the charm; he fell inside.
Percy fell flat on his knees, taking in a mouthful of carpet. He looked up, noticing torn paper before him.
They seemed to sit there, laughing, but Percy's eyes were on his books – his precious books, torn to shreds, pieces in seconds. They were the only thing he had! They were all birthday presents and he used to read them over and over again. He used to mark things he thought were witty and interesting with sugar quills.
He had nothing else apart from those books, and they were GONE now! This wasn't fair…
His heart was beating speedily. He felt tears fill his eyes. They planned this. They wanted this. All they ever wanted was for him to be unhappy, they just seemed to make his life miserable. They couldn't just sit alone with their precarious things from Zonko's (some of which Percy was sure they stole) and eat their precious Honeydukes chocolates. They couldn't leave him alone. They had to ruin EVERYTHING.
Suddenly, he felt himself grow cheerless with a realisation.
He had only had six books, and now, he didn't have anything.
He wanted to bang his head against the wall. He felt so bad, so worthless and useless and…
The twins had stopped laughing and they were currently looking at Percy with confusion. Hot tears were falling down his cheeks.
"I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!" he snapped coldly. He'd rather have glumbumbles for brothers than them.
He let out an ear-curdling scream that was followed by a series of sobs that left his speckled body. Strands of ginger curls somehow found their way to the front of his eyes.
He left the room before they could say anything.
He didn't think he could hear them say anything without him trying to strangle them, like he felt like doing many times before. He went to his empty room and he locked himself inside. He stared at the empty walls of his empty room.
He turned around and pushed his heavy (but empty, empty, empty!) bookcase towards the door.
He didn't want anyone to come in and see him like this; red-faced with puffy, red-rimmed eyes and shaky hands. He saw the knob of the door turning, but, fortunately, the twins couldn't get in.
"Go away!" Percy sneered. "Just go away! Leave me alone!"
"We're sorry, Perce!" One of them said.
"Honest!" the other reinforced.
"Shut up, shut up, shut up!" Percy announced in a high voice.
He stared back at his empty bookcase, feeling absolutely awful. He just wanted to get away. He wanted to go away, disappear and become invisible. His mum and dad will come home, and they'll take the twins' side. They'll wonder why he locked the door when he was supposed to be watching them.
He collapsed on his bed, and curled up in foetal position.
He was silent for a few minutes and the twins stopped hammering on his door. His head was still hurting. Somehow, Percy fell asleep, and he was rudely awoken by someone knocking on the door.
"Percy!" it was Charlie's voice, and he sounded so…so disappointed. "Have you locked the door? How have you locked the door? Have you stolen my wand? Have you put a charm up?"
Percy's stomach lurched. He would never steal Charlie's wand!
"Open this door or I'll tell mum and you'll be in a lot of trouble," Charlie threatened and now, Percy felt horrified. Not only did he not look after the twins when he was supposed to, but Charlie thought that he had stolen his wand when he hadn't.
Percy jolted up. He didn't know what to do. He just wanted to go away. He caught sight of his window. The climb from it wouldn't be too bad, but he was terrible at climbing. He moved forward and saw that nobody was there in the yard.
His hands were shaking and he felt so sick. He didn't have any books to pack with him.
"Percy, open this door or I'll break it! And you'll be in real trouble then!"
He'd never been in trouble before. It scared him. He was always so good, but now, he wasn't and everyone hated him. He felt a knot in his stomach drive his actions. He was quick to grab clothes and put them into his bag, trying to get as much in as possible.
He kicked his bag down to the bed when he saw Charlie was able to wedge the door, and soon after that, open it. He seemed to pull the bookcase apart from the door and stare at him.
"Mum and dad are so disappointed in you," Charlie started off immediately. "What have you done?"
Percy looked down at his feet. "I didn't steal your wand. It was the twins."
"You always blame the twins," Charlie reminded Percy after some point. "The twins blame you. They said that you stole it and were going to pin it on them."
Percy's mouth dropped did that to him? After they destroyed his books? They wouldn't dare. He had held back tears from rolling down. He'd already embarrassed himself enough tonight.
"I didn't," he reinforced. "I would never. They're lying! They're always lying! I hate them! I hate them!"
"Percy, they're family," Charlie cooed, sitting down on Percy's bedside.
Percy didn't believe that. He felt like this family was an absolute nightmare, to be honest. All he did was watch the twins drool on each other, and he didn't have any hobbies of his own, except for reading.
"I hate them," Percy repeated, placing his head into his dimpled, chubby hands. "I wish they'd just go away."
"Don't say that," Charlie insisted in a stern voice. He placed a hand on Percy's shoulder. "Come downstairs for dinner. Mum's very upset with you. She was glad nothing had happened to the twins."
The twins, the twins, the twins! All that anyone could talk about was the twins!
Almost as if on cue, Molly appeared towards the doorway and sighed deeply, staring down at Percy with a grave look in her eyes.
"What have you done, love?" she called out to him. He didn't know why she called him love anymore. He apparently had done terrible things, and he deserved nothing now. "Fred and George told me you've stolen Charlie's wand and locked yourself in your room, is that true? You're supposed to be watching the twins."
"They could've been hurt, Percival."
The new voice was his father, and Percy felt like melting into an unidentifiable puddle right then and there. He had disappointed his father, the man that he wanted to impress the most out of his not-so-little family.
Molly nodded in agreement with Arthur.
"They lied," Percy called out, still trying to stand his ground. Molly looked like she believed him, but Arthur looked like he didn't. He tried to stop himself from shaking – only his mum loved him, and she probably only felt sorry for him. "They lied. I swear they did. They—"
"My wand!" Charlie called out in complete and utter joy, as he picked up his wand from Percy's drawer.
Suddenly, Percy realised what the twins had done: they'd probably taken both Bill and Charlie's wand, and they planted Charlie's wand in his room. They used Bill's wand to do the charms, and they'd probably put it back. They were clever, but they used that cleverness to do stupid, reckless things.
"I didn't take it," Percy insisted. "The twins did this. They're not stupid. They did this to me. I swear."
Molly didn't look like she believed him anymore. Now, even his mum doubted him.
He felt himself sink. He had six books, and now, they were all gone. He thought he had a family that loved and supported him and believed him, but he didn't. He was not going to stay here, because he did not belong here. He did not laugh or smile or play Quidditch, or do the things that the other Weasley boys did.
He only sat there, and read books, and now, he couldn't do that either.
"Stop lying, Percy," Arthur insisted, sighing deeply. "It's a terrible habit. The Malfoy's lie all the time. You don't want to be like the Malfoy's, do you?"
"No," Percy said, looking down at the ground. "I'm sorry."
He decided to accept that they'd never believe him. He watched Charlie and Arthur leave, but his mum stayed there, staring at his empty bookcase.
"What happened to your books?"
Percy shrugged, and looked down. "I threw them away. I don't like them anymore", he said, not mentioning the twins. He knew she wouldn't believe him.
Molly hugged him. He cherished it, because it was probably the last he'd ever get from her.
He stayed in the room, and went downstairs when dinner was ready. He shot a glare at the twins. He surely would not miss them wherever he was going. He had a few Galleons saved, and he was going to take them with him. He was going to disappear, because he hated it here and they took his books.
That night, his mum served roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, and skinny green beans. There were also big brown bread rolls, and she served apple crumble for pudding.
He ate everything that was set out in front of him and then some more.
He thought of what he would be taking with him. Percy hoped he wouldn't be too tired when he left. It was going to be very late, and he was going to cllimb through the window. The house was so creaky that he doubted he could leave through the door without alerting all of Ottery St Catchpole.
Besides, he could get caught, and then he'd get into big, big trouble.
He thought of getting another plate of apple crumble, but decided against it. He didn't want to be greedy. He had just wanted to taste his mum's cooking one more time before he left, but maybe he shouldn't.
Percy hoped he had enough money to buy things for himself. He'd been saving up money for years.
Maybe when he was good and better, he could come back home, and maybe they'd like him. He might get his Hogwarts' letter soon, but he was so terribly frightened. He was such a coward most of the time. There was no way he'd be in the same house as the rest of the family. He felt himself grow ill with discomfort.
He stayed a while when Charlie and Bill were fighting about something that Percy didn't really feel interested in. It was, no doubt, something about dragons. Percy was sure that one day, Charlie would marry a dragon and mum wouldn't mind as long as Bill cut off his growing hair. The twins were staring at each other. Little Ron was quiet, and even littler Ginny was still eating whatever was put in front of her.
When he tired, he went to sleep.
He woke up very late and stared at the clock. It was half past two in the morning. It was still dark outside.
He wrote a few notes and hid them. He picked up his things, and climbed through the window. He fell at the last few steps, and had scraped his knee. He kept himself from crying out. Percy hated it when he got hurt, but he had to be incredibly cautious; he couldn't wake anyone else up.
He started walking away from the Burrow.
Percy took one more look at it, and then he darted forward. He didn't know where he should go. He just thought to walk until he found somewhere else. He had no hat to put over his head. He was going to stick out, with his ginger hair, and his pale, freckled skin. He stared into the darkness, not entirely sure on where to go or how far he'd actually get away from his house before collapsing.
He just wanted to go back home, but he just couldn't. He'd probably get in trouble for trying to run away, and he refused to get in trouble twice in one day.
Besides, they didn't want him and he didn't want them either!
IT was sunrise when Percy decided to sit down on a small log. His feet were aching, his knobby knees full of bug bites and scabs from running into large branches, and tripping consistently on the uneven, wibbly-wobbly paths in the woods. He ended up running around in circles a few times, and encountered a few Whomping Willows along his path. He felt trapped in the lands of many tall trees and noxious fumes erupting from the earth's surface.
His throat was aching for water. His stomach was empty. He was a tad bit peckish – if he did not find anything to nosh in within the next three hours, then he would be absolutely ravenous.
The trails were clearer now, and his feet were hurting a lot less. He put on his awful shoes (why didn't his parents ever buy him nice shoes? These were ancient), and trudged along to the path that seemed the furthest from his house. He had passed the Lovegood household that night, and had noticed that even in the hours of four in the morn, their lights had been on. It had made Percy wonder why they'd do such a thing! How would they sleep with the lights on?
As he trotted along, he heard sounds that were becoming clearer as he went along. It took a good five minutes of walking before he recognised the sounds. The sound was of a girl screaming.
The sound became clearer and louder, as he continued on his chosen trail. He felt a mixture of anxiety and exhilaration. He hid behind a branch that was much larger than his five-foot-six frame, and in that moment, he was paralysed by fear as he recognised the sight of the man that had been covering The Daily Prophet and The Quibbler's face for the past few months: Alec Lestrange.
Alec Lestrange was a man that was wanted for murdering girls using Unforgiveable curses. He escaped Azkaban a few months back, and many were looking for him ever since. The Minister had placed a handsome reward on his head.
Lying on the ground next to the man was a girl that had long, flowing blonde hair that went down to her soft thighs. There was a small tear in her short but tight ruby red robes. A streak of crimson was gushing rather adamantly from her lips, and she looked more alarmed than Percy usually did when the twins found a way to open their mum's charmed biscuit tin.
Alec Lestrange laughed maniacally, and threw away his wand, almost as if suggesting that he did not need magic to torment her.
The wand landed close to Percy.
Alec Lestrange circled the long-haired blonde, eyes mad with giddiness. He picked up a curl from her golden head and stared at it for some time. He laughed again before pulling out a small vial from his pocket. Percy was too far away to be able to see the colour. He force-fed the vial to the girl, and her hair grew almost immediately. In seconds, it covered the grounds, bright, bountiful and blond. The curls were entrapping her, wrapping around her neck. She looked like she was being suffocated, tears running down from her face.
Percy picked up the wand from the ground, eyes on the girl that were being trapped by locks of her own fair hair. Alec Lestrange thought it had to be funny that the girl would die by something that she might've cherished the most – the hair that was so beautiful it mirrored the colour of gold.
Percy had heard stories about how Alec Lestrange made their victims detest the things that they loved the most minutes before their death, and it made him uneasy. He remembered his mum telling him once that he'd put a five-year-old boy under the Imperius curse, and forced him to murder his mum in cold blood when they'd been in their safe house. It was sudden and unexpected. Percy had never seen his mum cry so much.
He gripped tightly onto the wand, and stared. His heart pounding and racing, as he tried to remember one of the few spells he knew from reading Bill and Charlie's Defence Against the Dark Arts books. As he watched the blonde being strangled by her own hair, he simply said the first spell that came to mind, "Oppugno!"
That was when Alec Lestrange looked up in resentment. Percy felt his heart stop.
Before the Azkaban prisoner could come anywhere near him, the blond locks that she had made immediately soared up in the sky, like golden snakes and wrapped around Alec Lestrange's body. Their hold on his body was strong and ferocious. This man was weak. He was no true Lestrange. Weak, and he was made of blood, meat and bone. Percy watched as the locks got so tight he heard Alec Lestrange scream. There were potions that had slipped down from his coat, vials of them.
"You'll pay for this, Weasley, you'll pay! I will remember your face for the rest of eternity!"
Percy's mind was raking up for more spells. What was the one that his mum used when she ran around the house, trying to cut off Bill's hair but ended up cutting their curtains instead? Oh,"Diffindo!"
He did not know whether or not the spell would work, but Alec Lestrange had no wand to counteract it. He was helpless without his wand. Wait, if he didn't aim properly, wouldn't that cut her head off...? Just as that brilliant possibility came to Percy's mind, the long, moving locks detached themselves from the blonde's head. But they still seemed angry. They moved to attack Percy, but years of taking care of the twins made him super alert to these sorts of things. He dodged her Medusa-like hair, falling beside the Alec Lestrange's vials.
The used-to-be blonde stared over at him in surprise. Whatever had been left of her hair were diminutive tufts that were shorter than Percy's own hair. As he took her appearance in, he shoved the wand into his bag, knowing that stealing Lestrange's wand would better his chance of survival. He turned to collect the vials, unsure of whether or not he would need them on his long journey to a new home.
A chill made him shudder when he was hit again, causing Percy to bounce from the field down to a tree. If that tree was a Whomping Willow, Percy doubted he would survived between the tree and the tresses.
In that instance, an Auror had managed to apparate into the fields, alarming Percy greatly. He did not meet the Auror, but he knew his face. Percy didn't doubt that more Aurors would soon be sweeping the fields to bring Alec Lestrange back to custody. He did not want to go home and if the Auror found him here, he would take him back to the Burrow. He would be in big trouble!
He turned to the girl, gestured for her to follow him and then he immediately started to run. The Auror did not follow him, or them. When Percy glanced back, he saw the Auror put up his wand in the air and waved it, probably to signal more Aurors to come to the site to take Alec Lestrange away.
Percy realised he had limited time now. He had the blonde girl running with him. Together, they ran down the woods of a thousand Whomping Willows, which they just barely dodged. They ran past the river, which Percy would kill to get a drink of. They ran past what felt like miles of horklumps, crushing them beneath their feet. They exchanged names as they ran in case they parted ways.
Her name was Penelope Clearwater.