i am way too tired to do comments' reply thing and if i did, this chapter would've at least taken 2-3 more days. it is not well-edited (i'm sorry but i am i'm so tired), so please excuse any possible spelling or grammar mistakes. as i said before, English is not my first language! this is a Percy POV chapter after the last two non-Percy POV's. there is SO MUCH going on in this chapter i love it.

Love and Old Black Shoes

Chapter Fifteen

Percy collapsed into a heap on his old bed, suffocated by the scent of strawberries. Strawberries! Out of all the scents in the world that she could find a candle for, it had to be strawberries!

Tears streamed down his sunken, freckled cheeks. THOSE SODDING LIARS!

Percy grabbed his pillow and buried his head into it. He screamed into it like… well, the vitriolic five-year-old he was.

His stomach lurched again as the scent of those noxious strawberry fumes wafted to his abused nostrils.

Although he spent the last few months shaking more than a bloke under the Cruciatus, Percy was suddenly warmer than a Kneazle in heat… and he felt like he'd just been stabbed repeatedly in the heart. ALL BECAUSE OF THEM! THEM! THEM! THOSE SODDING LIARS TRYING TO TELL HIM… LIES!

When he'd been trying to get their attention for months as he tried to mend his discombobulated family together, he received only accusations, a polite (and sometimes not so polite) Sod Off, You Git and numerous death threats.

When Percy had decided that there was little left to mend at home and he wanted to distance himself from his family as much as he could before he did the deed (he did not want them to mourn him after all, even though that seemed physically impossible given the fact that they wouldn't treat a Kneazle like they did him—after all, they'd make sure the Kneazle ate every day!), then they decided they simply couldn't get enough of him and they missed him.

Bloody lies, Percy decided to himself. They just wanted him to rot in this room forever. They didn't care what he was doing in this stupid room—nor were they interested—but he had to be there whilst he did it!

We don't care at all what YOU want, but we NEED you back at home! Percy mocked his parents, his hands shaking with every single thought that violently thrashed its way into his swollen skull.

Now, that you're back in that room, we'll forget that you ever existed like we had been for the past seven months!

His face was sticky and wet from the crying that he'd been doing, but as more thoughts swarmed in his brain, a new trail of white-hot tears cascaded down his cheeks. Percy was not sat there, hugging his knees to his chest. No, he was sat there clinging onto his knees to protect himself from his own bloody self. Look at him! Perfect Prefect Percy, demoted from the bloke that was the junior assistant to the Minister for Magic to this pathetic creature whose highlight of the day was fantasising about the suicide schematic he'd been planning for more than half a year now! In fact, he was so intent on killing himself that it took him all his mental capacity not to do it every bloody day!

He laid back down on his back, grabbing fistfuls of curly red hair into his hands.

Percy bet if they knew what was going on in his head, they'd realise how utterly pathetic he was.

He turned to the side and saw that Hermes had stolen a giant oat-y, seedy looking flapjack for him from the kitchen.

Percy took a few deep breaths before he took the flapjack away from Hermes' jaw. He had stopped trying to tell Hermes that he didn't want to eat anything, mostly because he didn't want to disappoint his owl anymore. Almond butter, raw cocoa nibs and oats filled his mouth as he chewed the flapjack. There was no form of margarine or oil used to make this! This bloody thing was just about as dry as old Madam Malkin's—err… he would not finish the sentence.

Here he was having a mental breakdown and still casually scoffing a flapjack. The world ceased to make any sense!

Percy was calmer right then, and decided to walk downstairs to get himself a cup of tea.

The house was empty then, but as he was just about to put the kettle on, he could hear sounds of yelling outside.

Percy peered into the backdoor, and all he saw was a muscular George pinning down thin Ron to the ground and screaming obscenities at him. Ron wasn't helping—he just continued curse George's existence. George was currently sporting an old black-eye and a bruised, bleeding lip whereas Ron's cheek and eye looked swollen. His loving brothers!

George's grip loosened on Ron's Auror robes when he saw Percy standing there.

He sat up, a look of incredulity on his face. George didn't look particularly happy to see Percy there.

"YOU!" George called out in anger. "YOU…!" he waved his finger in accusation of… something.

"Yes?" Percy replied, not noticing how inaudible his own voice was.

"You…" George grabbed a fistful of his short, straight red hair. "You… ugh!"

George's facial expression softened dramatically. He stood up and ran over to Percy, wrapping his arms around him as hard as he could. He buried his head into his shoulder. Percy had lost count of how many times people saw him, shouted at him and then hugged him. Percy had also lost how many times he'd told them he hated hugs.

Ron was glowering at Percy. "Didn't find yourself at the gay pub like you'd expected to?"

Percy's lower lip was trembling. He was so vulnerable that that little comment wounded him greatly.

"Gay pub, Perce?" George was grinning, a sparkle in his eyes. "Well, I'm not surprised. I knew that when I caught you reading that book about homosexual behaviourisms, it wasn't for educational purposes."

Percy sighed. Curiosity really did kill the Kneazle—and made him into a laughing stock!

"Sod off," Percy mumbled in irritation. "It was the only pub that allowed me to sleep in their beds after I was done with my wonderful ten to eight shifts. Without charging me for using their mattresses of course."

Percy suddenly recalled the fact that Arthur was appalled when he learned that Percy drank during his job!

Well, from what he'd gathered at that night in the pub, Arthur, the bloke that just came from an ADDICTION CENTRE, drank every bloody night and he didn't have to sleep in a room covered in someone else's bodily fluids!

That thought was depressing Percy. He started to feel a fire burn in his tightening chest. He was really upset.

"You slept in their beds?" Ron reiterated. He looked disgusted. "Perfect Prefect Percy that uses every cleaning charm under the sun when he has to use someone else's robes, now sleeping in a bed that poofs regularly socialise in?"

Socialising? Percy didn't know what they did to that pillow, but it was inhumane! Even for a heterosexual couple!

George's facial expression suddenly softened again. He didn't look like he found this amusing anymore.

"George?" Ron noticed this too. "What's wrong? You don't think you whacked me hard enough, you bastard?"

George did not find this amusing either. He must really be sad—or sick with a fatal case of dragon pox.

"You'd…" George locked eyes with Percy, his eyes were flashing with a gut-wrenching mixture of anger and hurt. "You'd rather stay in a vile room in an awful gay pub than come back home to the Burrow?"

George's eyes watered and his stocky shoulders started to shake. "How fucking dare you?"

Percy's cheeks coloured in darkly. "Well, George, it really is all purely based on semantics. I—"

George looked at him with this look that made Percy's stomach sink. "You always kept on leaving the house…" he rationalised. "And I was…"

"—did not particularly want to stay in a vile room in an awful gay pub as you theorised, nor did I prefer it to the Burrow but for that particular sect of time, I believed that it would be best for me to open my mind to new experiences…" Percy kept on rambling nervously. He was sure what he said made no sense.

"I WAS A FOOL!" George screamed, shaking his head. Percy didn't think that he'd noticed George looking this shattered and alone—not even when he had to hold Fred's cold, unmoving body and accept the fact that two had just become one. "I was SO BLOODY STUPID to think that you actually cared about anyone other than yourself!"

Percy couldn't say anything to that. Ron looked equally surprised by George's outburst.

"If Dad didn't drag you here, you would've never come back, would you?" George asked. "WOULD YOU?"

Percy opened his mouth to speak, but he didn't know what to say. What could he say to that?

No, George, I wouldn't have come back to the Burrow because my initial plans involved me alienating myself from the family to the point where you've forgotten I've existed and then slowly disappear from the face of the Earth. Unfortunately, you seem to notice when I am not in my room, so I have now been forced to come back here and re-evaluate exactly how I am going to die—

"I TRUSTED YOU!" George suddenly broke Percy out of his thoughts.

Percy didn't know what George trusted him for, but he still felt just as bad.

Tears silently rolled down George's cheeks. "How…" his hands were balled into fists and Percy believed that if he got struck right now, he'd be fully deserved. "How did you get that?" he pointed to Percy's arm. His arm was covered, of course, but Percy knew he was referring to the somewhat obvious burn mark extending from his wrist to his shoulder.

"What do you think happened...?" Percy asked in a low voice.

George looked like he was contemplating the lines between the cold, hard truth and the fabricated lies that Percy had been making up. Unfortunately, it looked like it had come to bite him on the arse.

"I don't think… I've not gotten enough O.W.L's to think!" George snapped.

Percy tried to move towards George to talk to him, console him somehow but George just moved away.

As he watched George practically ran away from him like a rabbit afraid of being attacked and chewed out by a chimera, Percy felt his chest tighten as he stared at the ground.

"What happened to George?" Percy hadn't expected to say that out loud. He was so confused.

"YOU happened, you nosy little git!" Ron didn't sound as angry as Percy thought he would've been considered George just confessed that Percy had broken him into tiny little pieces just by being his wonderful, charismatic self. "We were bloody fine! We were all doing better—I was doing better! Then you bloody left, and it destroyed him. But I'm glad that you left, Perce, because now, he sees you for what you really are."

Ron looked at him straight in the eye. "You're a monster."

Percy felt like he'd been hit violently by something extremely hard and cold. In his big, swollen head, he believed that words like that were reserved for Death Eaters and murderous, psychotic felons.

"HE LOST HIS TWIN FOR MERLIN'S SAKE!" Ron yelled out like Percy had forgotten that Fred existed.

Like Percy wasn't the one that arranged Fred's funeral! Like he hadn't been the one that stayed with George that day, even though they'd decided to schedule the service on the last birthday he had ever planned to ever have!

Just when he thought that he couldn't think any lowlier of himself, his family proved otherwise.

Percy didn't know what to believe. He didn't know who in Merlin's name he was. Was he really that bad of a person that even when he tried his hardest to be good, he failed? Was he doomed to fail from the start because he was Perfect Prissy Percy that couldn't understand how anyone felt if it was written to him in a six-hundred-page manual?

According to his family, he didn't even have the smallest commendable features that he still prided himself in now even—he was bloody suicidal, and he could still find less faults in himself than his family did!

It terrified him that his family could possibly hate him more than he hated himself. Percy didn't even think that was possible! As his thoughts spiralled, he realised that he didn't stop for a second to think about George.

He really was a selfish git. It was always about him… it had to be about him!

Ron had left him to be by himself after that and Percy stood there for about ten minutes, contemplating what he thought he knew and this new information about how completely egotistical and vindictive he was.

After his body was about to freeze off from standing outside for too long, Percy walked back into the Burrow.

He was feeling so many bad emotions at once that he didn't know what to do with him. At the same time, he was numb, and he didn't care about any of the feelings that he felt. He opened the kitchen drawer, and picked up a knife.

Percy cradled it close to his body… like it was the only thing in the universe that could redeem himself to his family.

Percy climbed back up to his room. He didn't know what to say if anyone caught him holding a gigantic knife in his hands only moments after a serious row with George. He momentarily thought of pretty Audrey, who he hadn't heard from in ages. He almost forgot how she looked like, and he would've if he didn't think about her all the time.

He wondered if she realised that he was a horrifying monster too.

The second he walked into his room, he locked his door with a key and a spell. He slid down on the ground, back against the door, and rolled his sleeves up. He gently allowed the knife to graze his skin—

A sound outside of George smashing something and yelling "PERCY! I HATE THAT RUDDY COWARD!" had shocked him so much that Percy accidentally dug the knife deep into his arm.

He jolted, staring down at the trail of blood that he left on his baggy blue trousers.

"GEORGE, BACK… INSIDE… THE HOUSE… NOW!" Percy could hear Molly yell, and George kept on crying back, sobbing and mentioning how Percy did this to him in that sad, shrill broken voice.

Percy twisted the knife into the cut, and then sliced his down from his forearm to his wrist.

His satisfaction was only partial and short-lived, even though he was bleeding so much. Probably because he could still hear George scream so loudly that he bet that the whole of Devon could hear him. Percy didn't do this regularly, but the emotions of the day left him feeling still felt partially numb and anxious and partially relieved.

"HE EVEN TRICKED FRED! HE MADE FRED GIVE HIM EVERYTHING!" if George yelled anymore, he'd probably go mute. Percy couldn't imagine how George's throat must've felt right then.

Percy put the knife away, but only after he cleaned it. Looking at his battered arm didn't help him feel any better.

His head was still pounding with George's words, weighing him down heavily. Percy was so stunned he couldn't even find it in him to cry. He didn't know why he had cut himself, because it wasn't like those times where the urges to do something like that were burning into his mind. Just as he laid back in his bed with his bleeding arm, he felt himself grow faintly lightheaded. Hermes did not look happy with him. He kept on glowering at him from the end bed.

"I'm sorry," Percy said to his owl. He wasn't sure what he was sorry for, but he meant it. "Would you forgive me?"

Hermes swooped in towards him and sat on his lap, huddling to his stomach. Percy let his arm – the one that wasn't currently bleeding rest on his Hermes' back. He kept his back pressed against the wall and—

"I will be with you shortly!" Percy had heard a knock at the door.

He got up from his bed and then took off the shirt that he was wearing. He wrapped it around his bleeding arm like he'd done this a thousand times before. Percy was so unfazed that emotions like shock, anger and horror didn't really percolate through his mind. He moved to weed through his clothing and then pulled an extremely oversized light grey hoodie on his frame—one that belonged, he thought with a broken smile, to George. He changed his pants as well, throwing his baggy bloody blue trousers in the pile of unclean clothes he had at the bottom of his dresser.

He opened the door and saw that it was a red-eyed, wild-haired Molly standing there. She stared at him vacantly.

"I don't want to accuse you of anything, Percival but…" Molly looked like she was trying her best to not be biased. She kept her voice steady, even though her lip twitched every few words. "What did you do to George?"

Percy opened his mouth to answer that, but what could he say to that?

Molly looked away from him, like she couldn't stand the sight of him. She hadn't tended to her curly, frizzy carroty hair today. She was wearing a pair of scarlet robes that clashed heavily with her hair.

"Percy," her voice was stern now, "I know that this is ill-timed, but I need to ask you something…"

Percy slowly nodded his head. He had about as much emotion in his face as a stone.

"…I was mulling over your financial situation in my head a thousand times and it just doesn't make any sense!" Molly's voice was calm, but it was wobbling with emotion. "You were working for the junior assistant to the Minister for years, and Arthur heard from Perkins that you were paid really well for it! Your father didn't think you'd spent much of that money at all—not on your old flat anyway from what he'd seen of it!"

Percy agreed to this. The most expensive thing in his flat was, oddly enough, that fruit bowl that he bought half-off from a one-eyed gypsy. He put all his muggle Terry's milk chocolate oranges there.

"And then when… Fred died," the way that Molly said that made him feel like he was relieving Fred's death in his mind, "He left you all his belongings—including all the money that he made from his successful business."

Percy nodded his head. And he also left him a little trinket: a pair of old black shoes.

"Then I realised it didn't make any sense why you took up a flat in Knockturn Alley. It sounds to me that you should've enough money for a really wonderful flat!" Molly concluded.

Percy knew exactly what happened to his junior-assistant-to-the-Minister money. It disapparated from his fingers the second he tried to fix the Burrow! How did Molly think that Percy paid for that seriously expensive wallpaper? He wasn't about to wrap a house filled with years of memories in a half-off wallpaper that smelled faintly of rat droppings!

And how did she think he disinfected the Burrow? With the power of his 12 O.W.L's?

Also, was she really telling him to use Fred's money? The money that he knew would never be rightfully his, even if Fred had said otherwise? Not a chance! Percy was going to use that to help open the George's business… which might be difficult now that George loathed him and thought he might as well have been the new You-Know-Who!

Molly shook her head, strands of distressed hair falling in front of her face. "Then I sent you money—enough money to land you a few months in a very good flat! And you… you took it!"

Percy raised an eyebrow when she said this. He most certainly did not take her money—

Oh! Percy could practically see his father take that money to pay for the Burrow, given the fact that he spent his night getting plastered in a pub instead of working late hours in his new job!

"And yet…" Molly's confusion shifted to pure outrage. "Ron tells me you've been living in a ROOM in a GAY PUB?"

Percy flinched, but then slowly nodded his head.

Molly opened her mouth to ask him more questions, and Percy supposed that why and what did you do to that money was not far behind. Percy kept his lips pursed tightly.

Her shoulders deflated instead. "Dinner is ready," she said. "I'll get Charlie to send some for you after."

You are not invited to sit with us at the dinner table was what Percy had gathered. It mightn't be for any other reason that the fact that George was most likely to throw his xth number of temper tantrum that day, followed by a disastrous screaming and crying spell that would make poor ghostly Fred himself speechless, but it still made Percy feel rotten.

"Of course," Percy's bleeding arm started to ache—badly. "Thank you."

After Molly left, he locked his bedroom door. He looked back at Hermes, who was waiting for him patiently by the window. The only friendly face that never changed his opinions on him… and Percy didn't deserve him. He sat on the edge of the bed and took off his hoodie. He slowly started to unroll the shirt around his cut.

He spent the rest of the night tending to it. At around three in the morning, the clothes he bled in were clean.

Percy's cut was tended to and bandaged expertly—mostly by Hermes, his therapeutic owl, but expertly nonetheless. He had put on his hoodie again and laid on his bed, pulling the covers over his aching, shattered body.

For the millionth time that day, he thought of Audrey. He was very much sure that he was in love with her.

He was also sure that suicidal blokes shouldn't be falling in love with women. It wasn't like he could do much with her. Percy could only really think about her, and envision her bright face. She was getting on well without him. Audrey had probably all but forgotten he and his little magical world it existed it seemed. He wondered who was her almost-flatmate now. Percy hoped that they knew just how special Audrey was…

Percy sent letters to her all the time, but she'd not replied to any of them. That was for the best, really.

With a small smile on his face, Percy could envision Hermes irritating Audrey into writing something and Audrey telling him to muck off. In the background, her musical blender whirred around to make biscuit juice.

Percy decided that his limbs felt too heavy for him to go downstairs. He knew that he should probably eat something. Apparently, according to his mum, Charlie was supposed to get him something. He turned to stare at the window, and saw that Hermes had gotten him another drier-than-Lee-Jordan's-humour flapjack from downstairs. Percy grimaced, deciding that it wasn't worth it. But Hermes kept on thrusting the flapjack onto his face.

Percy sat up and took the package from Hermes. "This is the last time I'll consent to this."

He sat with his legs crossed, staring into the great white moonlight as he ate his dry, disgusting flapjack. It would be February soon. And then there will be only four months until this nightmare of a life ended.