At twilight, Molly Weasley apparated to the Burrow from Grimmauld Place, alone. It was all a part of her routine; she slipped by at least once a day to make sure the pigs and chickens were fed and that the house still had an appearance of looking inhabited. She inhaled deeply, breathing the scents of the flowers in her garden; they were a hodgepodge of assorted blooms, intermingled with some morning glory vines that she never quite had the heart to pull. A healthy summer breeze picked up suddenly, warm and comforting in spite of it's force, and she closed her eyes with a smile. She was at peace here, a rare occurrence in such troubled times. No matter where duty took them, no matter what other places they might have to live, this was home.

Quite suddenly, she glanced over towards the Burrow, aware of another presence close by. Her mouth fell open slightly in shock, and she quickly brought a hand up to cover her lips, her eyes quickly filling with tears. A tall, thin, redheaded figure was standing with his hands and face pressed to the windows, searching in vain for the family he had left behind. The prodigal son had returned.

"Percy." she whispered, hands still covering her mouth. Clearing her throat in an attempt to remove the lump that had formed there, she lowered her hands and called, louder this time, "Percy!"

Startled, the young man spun around, straightening his spine, as though he wouldn't be caught doing something as foolish as staring inside a window. Then, his grey-blue eyes met with his mother's chocolate-brown ones, and in one moment he became her little boy again. "Mum." he replied, stepping towards her slowly, almost in wonderment that she was there at all.

In three strides, Molly had him in her arms, nearly crushing his ribs with the strength of her embrace and wetting his robes with her weeping. For a moment, they just held one another, both redheads crying. Then, quite suddenly, then both began speaking at once.

"Why in Heaven's name -- "

"Mum, I'm so sorry--"

" - don't know WHAT you were thinking.."

" - didn't mean to hurt--"

" - breaking the family up in these times -- "

" - and about the sweater, too.."

" -didn't even visit your father!"

At that, the conversation abruptly fell into an awkward silence. Percy cleared his throat, embarrassed, and suddenly found his shoes to be very interesting. Finally, he managed to meet his mother's eyes. "How..how is Dad?"

"He's fine," Molly replied softly. "You saw him yourself; he's completely recovered, although the medi-wizards said his ribs might ache in cold weather from time to time." There was another long, awkward silence before she asked, in a tearful voice, "Percy, why didn't you come to see him?"

Percy turned away abruptly, all at once ashamed of the tears in his eyes that he had cried openly in front of his mother a moment ago. "I.I don't know, Mum..." he faltered. Looking back, he really wasn't sure what it was that had kept him from being by his father's side during his injury. "Perhaps I was afraid..or ashamed...or stubborn," he added, trying to smile and failing miserably. "I'm truly sorry for all the mistakes I've made. I..I was foolish. I was wrong."

Molly reached up to lay a gentle hand on her third son's shoulder; she knew how much effort it had taken for him to say that. Percy's quiet, mature nature had made him the easiest of the seven to raise, but when it got right down to the core of his being, he was just as stubborn and just as proud as the rest of his family. Maybe even more so. "I know you're sorry, Percy. I..I've never stopped hoping that you would come back to us," she said, squeezing his shoulder. "I think the people you really need to apologize to are your siblings..and your father. Especially your father."

Biting his lip, Percy nodded slowly, then turned around and offered his mother a half-hearted smile, embracing her again. "What are you doing here by yourself, anyway?" he asked suddenly, worried. Smiling, she looped one arm around him so that they were facing the same direction and made a wide spread of the house and land with her free arm.

"Taking care of things. I want everything to be as it was when we come back," she answered, her voice growing a little softer at the end. After a moment, she brightened. "You can help me, if you'd like. You never helped outside much as a child..always reading," she added fondly, smiling up at her tall son.

"I think there are a lot of things I should get caught up on," Percy answered, following her to where the chickens scratched in the yard. Together, mother and son scattered corn on the ground in the twilight, and for one brief, shining moment, all was right with the world.