obviously, this whole fanfiction is post war, but ignores the DH epilogue. this first part of the fanfiction is mostly in Audrey's point of view but i don't think she'll be as a big factor in this fanfiction as much as the first chapters makes it seem. it's mostly family-based, which is what i prefer for these fanfictions. this fanfiction has all the usual trigger warnings, i.e. dark themes, suicidal ideation, self-harm, depression etc. i do not know if Percy ends up dying in this one or not either. character death is a possible ending here, but i am not sure.
edit: i had to re-upload this chapter because all my italics disappeared. and i use a lot of them!
Love and Old Black Shoes
Percy Weasley lived right across the hall from her.
A few times a month, Audrey Eloise Brown, an experienced barista slash awful business student slash disappointment of the family, noticed that he would walk to her door, demanding:
"Madam," his ears would go red at this point, and he never really looked her in the eye. As if she was a lawyer ready to attack him. "Can you please stop playing that unsettling grunge music? I can hardly hear myself think!"
When Percy said this, he would be dressed in a polished button-down with a pair of trousers that looked smoother than a fitness model's bottom. He would often be wearing a gigantic blazer, a touch lighter than the rest of what he wore. He would stand tall with his head held high, despite being redder than a strawberry.
Audrey flushed too. "Oh, I'm sorry," she said with uncertainty. She felt like she was talking to her college professor. "Can you please specify more about this-this unsettling sound? I really don't want to be a bother."
Percy stared at her as if she should've been shipped off to the loony bin. "That sound. That... grating noise." He gestured to her apartment. She suddenly felt less her five-foot-four height. It didn't help that this bloke could tower over her six-foot-tall father. "Do you not hear it? How could you not hear it?"
No, Audrey couldn't hear it because she didn't have any music on. "Sir, do you need to go to the hospital?"
"I certainly do not," Percy looked really offended by that. She didn't mean to offend him. "Please be mindful of others in the building, madam. I hardly think that others appreciate that-that-that irritating, jarring music."
She watched him walk back to his room and she was left bewildered.
But the next day, he would come back with the same complaint. And the day after that. And so on...
Audrey assumed that the poor bloke probably had a case of tinnitus and hadn't been to the doctors yet, or maybe he was so overworked that he heard voices in his head. Like in a film she once saw.
She hoped he didn't go crazy one day and kill everyone, just like in that film... it wouldn't be good for his job resume!
After a few months of the same behaviour, Audrey had an epiphany one day in the shower.
She had a theory as exactly what he was referring to as disturbing, ear-shattering music (she just couldn't believe it! She must be wrong!). But then when he came by the following day after her conclusion, she tested her theory... you know, right after she shuffled a little in her feet and refused to look at him in the eye. It was that absurd of a theory.
"Mr Weasley..." At this point, her whole face flushed. "I think you're-you're talking about my blender?"
Percy looked at her as if he had never the word 'blender' in his life.
"You know," Audrey tried to think of another word for her bloody Vitamix. "A mixer?"
He cocked his head to one side. "Are you referred to the carbonated drinks that you mix into an alcoholic beverage?"
"No, I mean a..." Audrey half-wanted to ask him if he ever had a drink, or if he just looked that up in a book about people who drink. That must be a lonely existence. "A machine that blends things together. Frozen fruit, milk, chocolate, ice-cream? Do you know what ice-cream is?"
"Do not insult my intelligence," Percy huffed, crossing his arms over his chest. With his long cardigan slopping off his shoulders, she realised that underneath the big blazers and the thick, long cardigans, he was a right weedy fellow. Waving his stick-like arms around. Head bigger than the rest of him. Suddenly, Percy's incredibly intimidating exterior melted and now, he just looked like a thirteen-year-old nerd wearing his father's clothes. "I simply do not know anything about this contraption that you are referring to."
"Well, come on then. I'll show you," Audrey then gestured for him to come in. God, even his glasses were big, sliding off his face ever so often. And she used to be scared of him!
He was toying with his sleeve buttons. "Well, that's hardly appropriate."
She didn't understand what it was 'hardly appropriate.' "There's nobody inside, and it's not like I've had my knickers out in display," she probably shouldn't have said that because honestly, Audrey didn't know if she had her knickers out on display or not. "Come inside. Please."
Percy didn't seem like the kind of bloke that would deny a woman twice, and he wasn't.
He just walked behind her, holding his breath as if he was afraid to breathe in the air around him. Audrey wasn't the least bit surprised. He was so stiff and rigid that she bet he hadn't even bothered to bring anyone up to his flat. That was, if Percy had been on any dates. Not like she was one to talk. Audrey hadn't had a date with a bloke since she last split up with her high school boyfriend. That had to be right around five years ago.
"I know it's old and a bit rusty..." Audrey said, walking towards her kitchen. It was pretty big because she'd just cleaned it. "I didn't think the sound was that bad, you know. I've never had any complaints about it before."
Percy stood by the doorway, as if he was instructed to do so. It seemed like in his mind, the only way to be 'appropriate' in a woman's flat was to be approximately one meter away from her at all costs.
"You can come inside," Audrey gestured for him to come in. Her dirty mind went somewhere else with that phrase, and she blushed. "I won't bite," she added on, but that sounded worse. God, anything could be sexual these days.
Percy shook his head. "I'm fine right here. Thank you," he squeaked out, like he was being chastised for sticking his hands into the biscuit tin right before dinner.
Her smoothie, frozen strawberries, cocoa mix, bananas and skimmed milk, was only half blended. She'd just turned it on when he'd come complaining of the ruckus.
As Percy silently stood there, Audrey turned the blender on, and it was then that she noticed his face twisting with realisation. If he could be anymore redder, he would've been. When her light honey-coloured eyes caught his cornflower blue eyes, he looked down like a schoolboy that had an awful report card (Audrey was sure to this bloke, a bad report card meant that he didn't get a proper grade in gym). Audrey honestly was flabbergasted at the fact that she was right for once. Percy genuinely thought that her old, distressed blender was a cacophonous sympathy.
By the time the smoothie blended and she poured them both a glass, she turned around and noticed he disappeared.
Maybe he doesn't like strawberries or maybe bananas. Maybe he's lactose intolerant. Maybe he doesn't like chocolate, Audrey thought to herself. God, he must like chocolate.
Him walking out didn't bother her that much. She'd be humiliated too if she mistook a blender for Beethoven. What bothered Audrey was that she couldn't exactly remember hearing him walk out.
After that day, Audrey hadn't heard a single complaint from him about the noise ever again.
She made her smoothies and milkshakes to her heart's content, and she really liked to use her blender a lot. Her Monday morning coffee protein shakes usually turned to cake batter milkshakes by Friday evening.
For months even, she hadn't even caught sight of him.
Though oddly enough, some days, she found herself wondering what kind of shake would he have. He didn't look like the kind that used protein powder, and that wasn't because he had about as much muscle in his whole body as she did in one finger. She couldn't imagine him sat there with his orange smoothie, or his chocolate milkshake either. All she could bear to imagine him sneaking in was a black coffee. He looked like the kind of bloke that sat down, read the newspaper, and enjoyed half a grapefruit with a slice of low-calorie toast for breakfast. She wondered how tidy and neat his flat must be. And how put together his life was.
Audrey kept wondering until around May, where she caught glimpse of him for the first time in five months.
She had just left the flat, wearing her favourite sparkly purple cut-out dress and high heels. She was about to get trashed with her best friend, who was a bloke named Roger. He did not find it 'inappropriate' to walk into her flat, have a piss in her lavatory and drink smoothies with her. Audrey must've looked like a right tart to Percy, all dressed up in with glitter on her body and the slinkiest, tightest dress imaginable. She had very good, strong legs, an arse and boobs to die for, or so did Roger said. But according to him, any lass looked sexy to him after he got married.
Percy didn't look like this coming home from his job before. She wasn't sure exactly what he worked as, but it seemed to take a lot of his energy. His clothes were dirty too, like he'd been asked to lift old things that collected dust. He was mostly out before six o'clock on a normal day, and had just come home. It was ten in the evening now.
She watched him groggily pull out the keys to his room and then struggle to put the keys in. After watching him fumble with the doorknob for thirty seconds, she moved over to him to help him out.
Audrey took his keys and fiddled with his doorknob. She opened the door for him.
She gave him a soft smile and left to go to the new pub that Roger had been talking about.
At the pub, Audrey didn't get wasted, not really. The alcohol was genuinely awful. Everything tasted cheap. Audrey definitely realised by the first sip, she didn't really want to get hammered. The after-drinking food was even worse because she normally tried to eat well, but Roger had been whispering to her about fatty, fried foods and Audrey just gave in. Audrey had gotten boring already. All she wanted to do was go home, sleep and wake up in the morning to finish that gigantic business project she'd had to do. Roger had called her out on her boringness, but honestly, she wasn't the one that got married to a witch at twenty-five years old now, was she?
Full off a Pizza Hut followed by a McDonald's ice-cream, Audrey came home feeling like she'd put on three stones.
When she walked upstairs with Roger, her heart sunk into her chest when she noticed that Percy was still outside the door. It was three-thirty in the morning and Percy was sat on the ground, head buried into his knees. He looked to be asleep. God, and his door was left ajar. She hoped nobody had stolen anything from his flat.
Audrey felt bad for trying to shake him awake. Percy opened his eyes and she saw him vaguely smile at her.
She was surprised. She didn't know he could smile. She grabbed his hands, and helped pull him up. Percy buried his face into her shoulder, and she stood there with her arms wrapped around his waist. She managed, with great difficulty, to walk him to his room where he had literally collapsed on his bed the minute she took him there. Audrey leaned down to take off his shoes for him. She believed, to him, this was hardly appropriate.
Roger was standing there, shuffling quietly. "Looks like your new bloke friend needed that drink more than you did."
Audrey rolled her eyes. Roger was so used to her having male friends that the way he said that didn't mean to be the least bit indicative that she had a crush on him, but she actually might have a crush on this sad, tedious bloke that didn't know what a blender was. Audrey tried to take off his blazer at least, and he seemed appreciative of that, turning to the side and curling his feet into his stomach.
She pulled his duvet over his body, whilst Roger just stood there, snorting.
"To add on to the boringness, you've decided to become someone's mum," Roger mumbled.
Audrey rolled her eyes and just gestured for them to walk out. His whole flat seemed oddly sterile. There was nothing personal anywhere. There was a briefcase and a neat pile of papers on the boring-looking coffee table. Then she noticed it sat on the kitchen counter. A unopened box of a new Vitamix that made hers look like a seriously underdeveloped, outdated model. Audrey shook her head. Did he even know how to use this?
When she walked back to her flat, she realised that she'd taken his keys. She could just pop back over now, but she didn't want to wake him up. That was what Audrey told herself anyway... it sounded reasonable even!
The following morning, Audrey walked to his flat and knocked on the door when she was supposed to be working on her project (she had done 200 words so far. Awful. She had to do at least 5,000 words for the bloody thing). Honestly, Audrey didn't know what to do. She couldn't exactly force him to take her in for a nice cup of coffee. She didn't know what possessed her to knock on his door at around five in the bloody morning, but she noticed that this was just about when he woke up. Audrey stood outside, her hands into the pockets of her knitted, carroty-orange cardigan.
When he didn't answer the door, she went back to work on her essay.
By nine am, she had 1,400 words done, but was back and forth to his door like clockwork. She knocked on the door every half-hour, waiting for him to open the door and when he didn't, Audrey slunk back into her room.
By ten am, Audrey knocked on his door again and Percy finally opened the door for her.
She was slightly surprised. Here she was, disarrayed hair, old cardigan, sweatpants with a baggy black t-shirt, and there he was, stood there after having have just taken a shower by the looks of his wet curls, in polished-looking black sweatpants, and a knitted grey sweater. Even in a jumper and sweatpants, this bloke managed to look professional.
"I've... I've taken your keys by accident," Audrey said, offering him his keys. "Yesterday."
Percy took them into his hands and nodded his head. "Alright."
Audrey stood by the doorway, swaying and waiting for him to say something else. It looked like the pleasantry of asking her to come in for a cup of coffee was completely lost on him. "Do you want to go down to a café and have a little bit of coffee with me?" She asked. "As... almost flatmates of course? Well, you pretend that our individual flats are just big rooms, we could be considered flatmates. So, we are almost flatmates... alright?"
Percy just raised an eyebrow at her, as if her hair was about to come alive. "Alright."
Audrey expected him to say that he wanted to dry his hair with a towel or something, but he'd just slipped into his plimsolls and walked outside, shutting the door. Audrey stared at Percy, trying to take this in somehow...
She was going to have a coffee with that stuck-up bastard and she wanted to have coffee with that stuck-up bastard.
They went down to a café together. It was hot and sunny outside. Way too hot for cardigans and jumpers.
Percy didn't seem to care at all. Audrey had kept on asking him if he was alright and if it was okay if she bought them one of those specialty coffee beverages (she loved them). Percy just nodded his head at her but when the coffee came around, Percy didn't even bother having a sip of it. He just sat there, watching her drink hers. Audrey didn't know what to say to him, and she just quickly realised that this was a bad idea. She had never had an exchange be so awkward. Whatever question she asked him ("how are you? How's work like? How's life been?", he replied with 'fine' in this cold, dismissive tone of voice. When she was done with her drink, he'd pushed his over to hers. Audrey didn't know how to say no, so she scarfed it down and now, she was stuffed full of sticky coffee, cocoa and squirty cream.
It didn't really sound like a nice time. And honestly, it was awful. It made any interest she had in him just disappear.
Having coffee with him was the worst part of her day. It made Audrey feel angry that she even bothered to wait for him like this. This was the worst day of her life, she'd decided. Having to be sat here and plumped like a pig whilst he answered every question of hers with 'fine', even the one with her asking what his full bloody name was.
Then she accidentally told him about the fact that recently, her father had a heart attack and had been in the hospital a few weeks back. Audrey hadn't told this to Roger, because he didn't like to be serious. Somehow, saying it made this hole get carved into her stomach. All she said was "Oh, my dad's actually had a heart attack a month ago. It's been very hard, with him recovering. Mum's been taking it out on me and I've been frightened" and then all these unhappy feelings started to bubble up in her chest. And they couldn't escape. Honestly, they had nowhere to go.
And Percy said nothing to this. He simply nodded, and then she promised herself, she'd bloody kill him if he said 'fine', but he didn't say anything. In fact, it was like she didn't say anything at all.
Audrey felt crushed. She was absolutely torn apart. She couldn't focus on her project. In fact, Audrey wanted to erase whatever she had already written so she didn't have to think about the fact that she wrote it on that day that she'd gone to the café with Percy. The day where she came home and vowed never to have a coffee with squirty cream, cocoa, flavoured syrup, biscuits or edible glitter ever again.
For the next few days, Audrey didn't really talk to him. In fact, she wrote him a large letter talking about how displeased she was at how uncouth he had been.
The letter went something like: 'Dear Percy Something, I am unhappy that you are my almost flatmate. My first impression of you was appalling. You told me to stop my music, which happened to be my blender... my Vitamix precisely. You should know, as you have the exact same brand, even if you did not use it yet. After a glorious night out, I was nice enough to lead you to your bed even though I could've just left you sat on your arse, asleep, with your door open and stolen all your important paper... things. Or your underpants. I could've stolen your underpants. I was nice enough to not only try and return your key the next morning, but I also invited you for coffee. During our nice little get together, I've come to conclude that I've seen corpses more animated than you. You weren't listening to a single word that I said, even when I've mentioned things I did not normally tell other people. So, yes, this is just a letter to remind you that you're an arsehole and to let you know that I shan't be bothering with you anymore. Love, Audrey.'
In those few days that Audrey was ignoring him, Percy made no effort at all to talk to her! Like how horrible was that? Even after all that she'd said all that. As if whatever she'd said was unimportant. As if she was unimportant.
The thing was Percy hadn't left his flat, not for work or anything. In fact, Audrey believed that he had gotten sacked.
Dreadful communical skills maybe? She thought to herself, and then sighed. Maybe his boss's father also had a heart attack and Percy didn't even bother saying that he was sorry for what she had to deal with! Sorry that her mum has turned into this bitch with a right stick up her arse. Her mother acted like Audrey was the reason why her father had a heart attack!
Then on a lousy Monday afternoon after she'd gone through three hour lectures, she came home to find a little small letter attached to her doorknob with a little light purple ribbon. Audrey unravelled the ribbon, walked inside, put the kettle on and sat on an old, creeky chair. She tore the paper, and then sat down to read every bit of that letter, word for word. It wasn't that many words really, but it was enough so that the terrible contempt and hatred she'd managed to fill herself up in the last few days felt so wrong. She felt guilty.
I'm sorry about my behaviour, Miss Brown. I am sorry about what happened to your father, he wrote to her. My younger brother passed away the night before you've taken me for the coffee. I did not sleep well and was not very attentive in our conversation. I would like to take you to another coffee. If you would let me.
Audrey read that over and over again, and then she walked over to his door. He wouldn't be here normally at this time, but she supposed that he couldn't go to work because of his bereavement holiday, or perhaps, he'd just quit his job. Audrey knocked on the door, not expecting him to open it up for her.
It had been a few days since they'd last talked. Maybe four. Maybe five. He didn't open the door.
Then a few hours after the message, Audrey had decided that she was going to send him another one confirming the dates for their coffee. At least that had been the plan, before she got distracted by watching subpar sitcoms on the telly. Then it had been dinner time. And after that, she had a host of work to avoid. By the time she'd come to write the letter back, Audrey was too exhausted to tape it to his door. She went to bed and was asleep by twelve.
Then at three in the morning, there was a knock on the door rousing her from her sleep. Audrey walked over to open it, ready to tell off whoever was at the door until she saw it was Percy standing there, looking exhausted.
Audrey gestured for him to come into the flat without a single word.
She didn't know how this ended up with her sat on the ground at five in the morning, running her hand through a sleeping Percy's hair. Like he was her best friend in the whole wide world. But she didn't know anything about him. Except that he knew that her father had a heart attack and that her sweet mum had turned sour on her.
Audrey didn't know how long she stayed there, but all she knew was that even though she'd been dead tired only a few moments ago... Audrey couldn't sleep.
She didn't have to wait long for him to wake up. He woke up in an hour, and they stared there, staring at the wall. Audrey had never realised a wall could be so bloody interesting. Bad paint job and all.
"You know," Audrey decided to begin speaking, which was always the worst idea she could come up with. "I reckon that if my, um, sister died out of the blue, I'd be... well, I'd be extremely guilty. I'm an awful sister. I've never let her take any of my things. I've never helped her with her homework like I should've. I've never even driven her down to get a bit of a coffee when she needs it. I've stolen all her fancy dresses, even though they don't fit me. She's fifteen and naturally skinny. I'm twenty-three and frumpy. What can you really expect? I think... I think the only way I could make this situation any right is if I'm a good daughter to my mum, who's going to be missing her way more than I do. Even if she's been awful to me lately because she needs the support so she doesn't go mad. Because well, honestly, my sister and I are not very close. Georgia is... confusing, and mum's spent her whole life dealing with her. I'd even go as far as to say that mum loves Georgia much more than she's ever loved me. Georgia was always prettier and smarter and more successful... so, mum would need me more than I need her or anyone else that is. If Georgia just suddenly kicked the bucket. And I think – I think... am I helping?"
Audrey stood up from where she was, feeling bad because he'd been resting his head on her body.
"Do you want a smoothie? I can make you a smoothie. Or a protein shake? Do you want a protein shake?" Audrey then stared at him, looking at him slunk back on a heap at the floor. This all happened four or five days ago. She didn't know how well or how unwell he was taking care of himself. "Percy? What about a milkshake? Percy, have you eaten properly? Have you eaten at all in the last few days?"
Percy just stared at her, like he'd seen her for the first time.
"You are correct," he said, in a matter-of-fact voice. "My mother – err, the rest of my family – would need me more than I would need them. I am the most hopeless brother in existence. I need to... remedy this situation."
Audrey's brain could've fallen out of her head in that second. "What?" She was talking about a completely hypothetical situation. She had not expected Percy to come to that conclusion. "Err, Percy, I—"
"I'll go shower and dress appropriately," Percy said, getting up and standing tall. "Then I will see my family."
Audrey stared at Percy as if he was talking in a foreign language. "Percy, breakfast." She was sure he was insane. She was sure he hadn't eaten in the last five days, because he was walking funny, like someone that had no energy at all. She then turned back to her Vitamix. "Let me at least make you something if you're actually going to go through this ridiculous plan of yours! Don't leave me worried here. You haven't eaten in the past few days, have you? Not since – not since I've found you after my night out. Right?"
Percy just nodded his head. "I do not deserve your hospitality after I've—"
"You were and are a complete and utter arsehole," Audrey confirmed. "But I'm not letting you go on to see your mum in God knows where without having something in your body after your five-day hunger strike!"
Percy's shoulders slumped. "I believe this means that I have no choice in the manner now. Do I?"
Audrey shook her head. "You most certainly do not have a choice in this manner. If you don't come back to my flat after you've dressed and tidied down and whatever else you have to do to fulfill your own personal vendetta, then I will be very, very cross with you for a very long time."
"Fine," Percy's reply came. Audrey was bloody tired of hearing that word come out of his mouth.
She turned to her Vitamix, thinking about what she wanted to make him. By then, he was gone—back to his flat again. It would take Audrey a few days to realise that she didn't hear him walk out then either.
Audrey had decided that she was going to make him a smoothie. She looked through her cupboards, and used frozen mangoes, yoghurt, and a banana.
By the time that Percy came around to her flat (and Audrey was glad that she did else she'd bite his head of and feed it to her future offsprings), she just offered it to him. It was a mild orange colour. Percy looked somewhat hesitant to take it but with a few prompting (i.e. threatening) words, finally accepted it. Audrey stared at him for a while as he was stood there by her door, looking at her smoothie as if it was a foreign concept to him. He looked like he always did, like he had his whole life together. His maroon blazer, his white button-down, and black trousers. His hair pulled back into flatness. His body smelling of that non-offensive light cologne that he always seemed to wear.
Honestly, Audrey was excited about the shake. She'd used her favourite protein shaker.
"Keep it," she said, and she wondered if she was going to see him again soon, or if he was just going to go away. "The bottle I mean. You can keep the bottle after you're done with it."
Percy raised an eyebrow and said something that made her insides melt a little, and she wasn't even sure why because Audrey was convinced he was carved of ice and steel: "Miss Brown, that is hardly appropriate."