Part Two: When I'm Gone
Chapter Sixteen – The Way of the Veritas
Percy woke up wondering what time it was. He glanced at his watch and in great alarm sat up. He was breathing hard, and he could his side throbbing. Percy glanced down to see that his torso was wrapped in white bandages. His head felt fuzzy as if he had had an incomplete mind wipe. He ran his fingers through his hair and brought his hand to his side again, putting pressure to it, only to be rewarded by a sharp pain. It was enough to snap him back to his senses. He took in the room and noticed that he was not in his flat at all.
He was in a comfortable full-sized bed, but he slept usually in a king-sized bed. He noticed how fluffy the pillows and comforter were. The linen was fine under his fingertips. The wallpaper had a flower design on it. A nightstand with an expensive looking lamp stood next to the bed. There was a bay window that flooded sunlight into the room, but he wondered why he had not woken up until that moment. Furthermore, he was late for work.
Falling back, Percy decided that wherever he was, he was safe for the time being. From what he could tell, he was in a Muggle house somewhere. He had no idea where he was. He groaned as he attempted to find a more comfortable position, but settled on his back because his side hurt too much to move. He closed his eyes again to go back to sleep, but he could not. He kept his eyes closed as he thought about what had happened last night.
Percy remembered the confrontation with the London police. Everything had happened so fast that he was having a hard time remembering. He vaguely recalled Sidney coming in and stopping everything. Percy furrowed his brow in concentration. Sidney had been sing something. An incantation Percy had never heard before.
The door opened in twenty minutes. Percy struggled to get up to see who it was, but a firm pair of hands pushed him back down soothingly. "Don't try to get up, Perce. You've been through a lot," said Sidney. "How are you feeling?"
"It hurts," muttered Percy. "What happened last night? I know I got shot, but—"
"That's what I would like to know myself," interrupted Dr. Nelsen as he walked in. "Let me take a look at you, young man. I have to check your wounds."
Percy glanced at Sidney for a moment. She nodded. "Would you mind leaving?" he asked her.
Sidney narrowed her eyes at him. "Don't tell me you're shy all of a sudden. I was the one who assisted my father."
"Sidney, the patient is now conscious. He can decided what he wants," said Dr. Nelsen rather sternly. "If he wants you to leave, then he wants you to leave."
Sidney rolled her eyes, but no one was sure whom it was aimed towards. "Fine, whatever," she said as she walked out of the room and shut the door behind her with a loud snap.
"You'll have to forgive my daughter," said Dr. Nelsen pleasantly. "She's just worried about you that's all. You were in bad shape last night. If you're wondering where your wand is, it's with her."
"I'm late for work," muttered Percy, sitting up. He winced a bit, but Dr. Nelsen allowed him to move. "I have to be there. People will notice if I'm not there."
"You're in no condition to go to work today, Percy. I could give you a doctor's note, but I doubt that it would do you much good. My daughter has explained what happened to you last night, but I must say that I think she's leaving out some important parts," Dr. Nelsen told him gently.
"My head is fuzzy," mumbled Percy as he ran his fingers through his hair. "I can't concentrate."
"It's probably the medicine. You're not used to the kind of medicine I gave you," said Dr. Nelsen. "You were very lucky, Percy. If the bullet had been any closer, it would have hit something vital. Last night was the first time I've ever seen what kind of medicine you people have. I must say that I would like to see more of it. You need a few days of bed rest."
Percy looked at him and shook his head. "You don't understand. I have to be at work. I work for a very important man and my father works there, too. He'll notice if I'm not there," he insisted.
"You should rest more. Most people your age would be happy to take some time off," said Dr. Nelsen sternly, but there was humor in his eyes. His eyes were not like his daughter's at all. A grin was tugging on the sides of his lips. Percy had a feeling that he was not being taken seriously.
"This is your house, isn't it?" asked Percy.
"Yes, you're in my house. Tell me, how do you know my daughter?" asked Dr. Nelsen.
"We work together. She's my supervisor," replied Percy. He knew that he was at Dr. Nelsen's mercy at the moment. "She was Head Girl in our school when I first started."
Dr. Nelsen smiled a bit. "So, you've known her since you were eleven?" he asked.
"Not really. I was too young," admitted Percy. He sat up straighter, but the pain sharpened to remind him not to move too much.
"I don't know what you were really doing out there, Percy," said Dr. Nelsen. "But, I will tell you one thing, whatever it is I don't want my daughter to be in any danger."
Percy looked at him solemnly. "Dr. Nelsen, she's the one who's supervising me, but we watch each other's backs."
"You seem too young to be working around such dangerous situations," said Dr. Nelsen thoughtfully. "I don't understand your world. It was hard to even believe at first that there really were wizards and witches in the world. I am a man of science. Do you know that science isn't exactly compatible with magic?"
Percy nodded. "Yes, I understand. I'm not from a family like yours. My entire family is made up of wizards and witches. From my perspective, almost all the things done to me last night doesn't make much sense. I didn't understand."
Dr. Nelsen stood up. "I think it's time I look over your wound," he said. "My daughter says that you are to go to your work clinic to finish up my work, but I still want to check if you're all right." Percy nodded and Dr. Nelsen looked at the bandages. "I still think you need to rest more, but if you're so eager to get back to work, then it's best to get you moving."
"Your other associate brought some clothes from your flat. You can use the bathroom through that door," said Dr. Nelsen gesturing at the door in the room. There was a closet with sliding doors. "Get dressed and come join us for breakfast."
When Dr. Nelsen left the room, Percy slowly got up and went to the bathroom. The first thing he did was wash his face. He decided that he could not take a shower because of the bandages, but he could take one later. Asmodeus had brought Percy's clothes in his gym bag. Percy found a shirt and a pair of slacks inside. He changed his clothes and put on his new socks. He had noticed that Asmodeus had gone through Percy's wizarding wardrobe. Percy found his robes neatly folded in the bottom of the bag, but he did not put them on. His glasses were in a side pocket in a case. He left the bathroom and found his coat hanging on a hook on the door. Someone had cleaned it off.
Percy grabbed it off the hook and walked out of the room, shutting the door behind him. It was still early in the morning, but Percy usually went to work at around six. It was already seven. He looked around him as he went down the stairs. Percy looked around. The house was huge. It was decorated with fine art pieces and furniture. The Nelsens' home was the opposite of the Burrow. Everything was wide-open spaces, while the Burrow had to be arranged to maximize space. Despite the high walls and cleanliness, the house still had the warmth of a family. Percy saw pictures on the mantle, at the fireplace and on the tables. There were bookshelves. There was a small table with knickknacks that Percy almost knocked over. It was poorly placed.
"I'm sorry about that. A lot of people run into it. Mum likes to put it there because she thinks it's interesting. Are you ever going to come to breakfast?" asked Sidney as she met him at the foot of the stairs.
"This place is huge," marveled Percy out loud. "It's wonderful."
"Thanks," said Sidney. "My mother does the decorating. I've never been one for doing that sort of thing. Come on."
"This isn't like the Burrow at all," said Percy out loud.
Sidney stopped for a moment. "Percy, I think it's time to stop pretending. You do remember me more than you let on. Or are willing to admit," she said.
"Yes, I know, but I didn't think you wanted to talk about it. I don't know exactly what happened between you and my brother, but I know well enough that you were the one who broke it off," said Percy briskly. "Let's not talk about this here. There's no point. It's in the past."
"Sidney, is your guest coming or isn't he? It's all right, if he isn't feeling well enough to. I could bring—" walked in Mrs. Nelsen. She stopped when she saw Percy and Sidney. They turned to look at her.
"Good morning, Mrs. Nelsen," greeted Percy with a charming smile. Mrs. Nelsen was taken aback. She smiled back at him. "Your food smells delightful. I look forward to an excellent breakfast."
"This way then. Sidney so rarely brings home any of her friends these days. She's always working. Always rehearsing or performing. Her job takes her all over the place," said Mrs. Nelsen as Percy walked up to her. They walked to the kitchen together, leaving Sidney disarmed for a second. She shook her head and followed them.
Dr. Nelsen was sitting at a circular table with a boy. He looked about twelve years old. They were eating their breakfast. The boy looked at Percy with wonder as he pulled a chair for Mrs. Nelsen. Percy also pulled Sidney's chair for her before taking his seat between Sidney and her brother. "Percy, this is my brother, Jake. Jake, this is my friend, Percy. And you met my mother, Ann," said Sidney.
"You're a wizard, aren't you?" asked the boy with wide eyes. "Are you going to do some magic?"
"Jake, it's against the rules to do magic in front of normal people," said Sidney.
Jake slouched back in his chair. He looked a little small for his age. He had the same hair color and eyes as Sidney. Percy looked at their parents and noticed that they had inherited the hair from their mother. The eyes, however, were a mystery. "Aw, you're no fun, Sidney," whined Jake.
"And sit up," ordered Sidney further, but Jake made his body more lax instead and practically slid under the table.
"Jake, don't do that," said their mother gently. "Sit up straight. Slouching is bad for you. Your back will hurt."
"And you're being annoying," added Sidney under her breath.
Jake stuck his tongue out at his sister for good measure. Percy laughed out loud along with Dr. Nelsen. "You remind me of my brothers," he said.
"How many brothers do you have?" asked Jake.
"Five brothers and a younger sister," replied Percy.
"Really?" asked Jake excitedly.
Percy nodded. "Do they all do magic? I wish I could do magic," said Jake wistfully. "But, I can't. I'm just normal."
"There's nothing wrong with that. You probably know how to use a computer much better than I do," said Percy.
Jake looked a little bewildered. "You can't use a computer?"
"Barely," admitted Percy.
"You're like Mum and Papa. They don't know what they're doing. They're always asking me questions," Jake told him. "I know how to do loads of electronics. I even figured out how to take apart the printer and put it back together. It still works the same as before."
Percy smiled at him. "My brothers just got out of school. They like to tinker around with things all the time. My dad likes looking at your people's gadgets. Finds it all very fascinating. I also took classes in school to learn how to use the gadgets myself."
"I didn't have to take those classes," said Sidney.
"Because you already knew how to use them," retorted Percy.
"Oh my, will you look at the time? Jake, go upstairs and get cleaned up. You have to get going to school soon," said Mrs. Nelsen.
"Jake, go upstairs. Wash up and brush your teeth. Did you remember to pack up your bag and homework last night?" asked Mrs. Nelsen. "You'll have to forgive me. I have to be at my gallery early, but I need to drop him off for school."
"That's all right, Mum," said Sidney. Percy nodded in agreement.
"I want to talk to him more, Mum," whined Jake.
"Go upstairs, Jacob," said Mrs. Nelsen in an exasperated voice, which reminded Percy strongly of his mother when she was dealing with the twins. Jake gave her a pout as he left the breakfast table. He stomped all the way upstairs. Mrs. Nelsen smiled as she put the dishes away in the kitchen. "You'll have to forgive him," said Sidney.
"He's like all younger siblings. He's interested in anything that his older sister is doing," added Dr. Nelsen.
Percy and Sidney were left alone with Dr. Nelsen. "What did you tell her, Papa?" asked Sidney after a minute.
"I told her that your friend got hurt last night because a car clipped him," replied Dr. Nelsen. "But, that's all the lying I will do for you, Sidney. Not until I get some answers."
"Dr. Nelsen, you told me that there are some things about our world that you don't understand. This just happens to be one of them," ventured Percy carefully.
"What happened to you was not magical," snapped Dr. Nelsen.
"You should trust your daughter, Dr. Nelsen. She placed her faith in you because she knew that she could. Do you realize how easy it would have been for us to just wipe your memory clean and make it look like nothing happened? We can still do that," said Percy. "We haven't though."
Dr. Nelsen's lips were in a thin line as he glanced at his daughter. "Why did you call me last night, Sidney?" he asked.
"Because you're my papa. I knew you could fix anything," replied Sidney.
"Very well," sighed Dr. Nelsen. "But, I know what you're doing is dangerous. Why?"
"Because I want to make a difference, Papa," answered Sidney. "That's what I learned from you." She swallowed.
"Looks like it's come back to haunt me," whispered Dr. Nelsen as he ran his fingers through his graying hair. "Are you sure you know what you're doing? Would it be too much for me to suggest that you take the day off, Percy?"
"Very well, Dr. Nelsen," agreed Percy. "Besides, I'll be able to come up with a better reason of why I wasn't there than explain why I was late. Thank you very much, Dr. Nelsen."
Dr. Nelsen snorted. Sidney smiled at her father. She stood up. "I think it's time we get going, too, Papa," she told him. "Thank you for everything." She kissed him on the cheek. She nodded at Percy who rose to his feet. "We have to go now, Papa. Tell Mum and Jake that we said goodbye," added Sidney.
Percy stopped her. She turned to face her father. "Yes, Papa?"
"Be careful," whispered Dr. Nelsen without looking at her.
"Yes, Papa," whispered Sidney as they walked out the backdoor of the house. Sidney did not look back. Percy thought about how it looked like to his family when he had left the Burrow. Sidney was always welcomed back home just as Percy was welcomed back home. However, he realized that neither of them could ever really return home again. No matter how much they wanted to. They were people who had no home to come to. They were people who had sacrificed their identities and their happiness for others. It was the way of the Veritas.
Percy and Sidney went to see Dr. Kunishima. She looked over his injuries and said that he was going to be fine. Healer Brandon used some potions on it and cleared up the whole injury, leaving no scar. He did warn Percy that the spot would still be tender for a few days and to ease up on his activity.
Asmodeus met up with them. He looked a little flustered. "There you are, Percy," he said.
"What's wrong? You look weird," said Percy.
"You would be, too, if you saw the way Lord Wallace handled the crew. He was very angry. I've never seen him angry before. I suppose what's been going on can get to anybody," said Asmodeus. "Lord Wallace came in after he heard that the agent that got hurt was you. He wants to speak with you."
"What about me?" asked Sidney.
"You can submit your report, Sidney. You didn't do anything wrong. You got off lucky. I had to explain everything to him," said Asmodeus. "Don't just stand there, Percy. Go and see him."
Percy walked towards Lord Wallace's office. He was nervous, nearing panic by the time he reached Lord Wallace's door. He knew that he had done something wrong last night. He could not blame Asmodeus because Lord Wallace would have learned everything. Percy had hesitated last night when he was investigating the Jones house. He was about to knock on the door, but he heard, "Enter."
Percy swallowed and entered the office. Lord Wallace was at his desk looking through a newspaper. He had a stack of Muggle and wizarding newspapers on his desk. It was a very neat office. There were no personal affects anywhere, not even award plaques. There was a plant in the office along with a fish tank, which included a very rare fish that only wizards had. They were native to Asian waters.
Lord Wallace looked up at him and folded the newspaper. "Please have a seat," he said in a soft voice. "Would you like anything to drink or eat?"
If Percy did not know any better, he could have sworn that Lord Wallace was fussing over him. He noticed how Lord Wallace's eyes shined with concern. Percy shook his head as an answer and to remind himself that Lord Wallace was probably just tired. Also, Percy reminded himself that he had had a long night.
"No, Milord. I'm fine," responded Percy.
"Dr. Nelsen will be rewarded for his efforts," said Lord Wallace with a slight smile. "He did a very fine thing last night."
"I think he would rather be rewarded with answers to his questions, but that isn't possible," said Percy.
"You will have some time off. I should have know it was too soon for you to be looking at the attacks."
Percy could not hide his surprise. He shook his head. "It will pass, Milord. All the agents must be out there. I've failed to find the person who has given Voldemort the information, but I can help this way. Please, Milord. I can't just sit in the safety of the Ministry. You need me out there," he insisted in a determined voice.
Lord Wallace's eyes flickered for a moment, with yet another unidentifiable emotion was in his eyes. "You did a very courageous thing last night. You should be commended for your work, Percy. You protected your team members without any regard to your safety. You have performed very well."
"Thank you, Milord," said Percy, not sure what to make of the situation. He recalled hearing almost the same thing before from Minister Fudge just before being promoted in the Ministry. He decided to take the praise, but he did so wryly. He added in a sincere, quiet voice, "I was only doing my duty. Nothing more."
Lord Wallace nodded. "However, I have a feeling you would rather not hear these words. You would rather continue working in the field, would you not?"
"Yes, I would, Milord," replied Percy glancing at him. The flicker was still there. Percy thought it was very familiar, but he still could not identify that emotion. Lord Wallace nodded. "Very well, but you must be more careful in the future. All right?" he whispered.
"Of course, Milord."
"Then go. Take the day off. You're dismissed."
Percy left his office, feeling more bewildered than he had did before. This was only the second time he had ever met with Lord Wallace, yet he felt an odd kinship with him. It was unexplainable. Percy was curious as to why Asmodeus would say that Lord Wallace was so angry about what had happened, because he had not noticed Lord Wallace seemingly angry at all. Lord Wallace had given Percy the impression of someone who was relieved. Was Lord Wallace relived to see Percy?
Percy shook his head from such thoughts. This was the second time in his life that he had a meeting with a supervisor and found out that he was not in trouble. However, this time, Percy was more suspicious. What did it matter to Lord Wallace that he was all right? Why? It bothered Percy a great deal.
"How did it go? What happened?" asked a familiar voice from behind, shaking Percy free from his thoughts.
"Ah! It's you!" exclaimed Percy when he saw the petite Gizmo staring at him.
"It's great to see you, too," she said in a cute voice with an even cuter smile. Percy recoiled inside and felt the sharp pain from where his wound was. "So, how did it go? Alpha was pretty angry last night. He came in right away when he heard that you got hurt."
"You were around when he came in? I thought your lab was somewhere else," said Percy.
"I had to help with the cleaning last night," said Gizmo, looking serious. "You should have seen him last night. He was yelling. I hope I never see it again. It was pretty scary. Things were shaking. I'm talking about the vans and the walls. It was like a small earthquake. And believe me, I know earthquakes. I'm from San Francisco."
"He didn't seem angry when I saw him just now," said Percy thoughtfully. He seemed relieved to see that I was in one piece.
"Really?" asked Gizmo, utterly perplexed. "That's strange. I guess he couldn't be mad at you, seeing that you didn't do anything wrong. That would be pretty unfair if he did."
"Aren't you supposed to be taking the day off?" interrupted Aya as she walked up to them. "I wrote it on the report. Go on. Doctor's orders."
Percy sighed. "I was going anyway. See you all later," he said as he walked off.
Gizmo waited until he was gone before asking Aya, "I don't supposed you'd know what's going on around, would you?"
"Doctor-Patient confidentiality," replied Aya with a neutral expression. "I'll see you later, Gizmo." She walked back towards the direction of the clinic.
Gizmo sighed and rolled her eyes. There was something that she was not getting and it was bothering her to no end. She supposed it was best to chalk this latest thing up with the other mysteries around her. It was the way of the Veritas.
AN: We learn a little bit more about Sidney, while Percy recovers. Anyone surprised that Lord Wallace would be pretty scary angry? This chapter shows some of the things the Veritas members have to deal with. The Veritas is the type of place where a lot of things can go on unexplained.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry. This story belongs to me and cannot be posted anywhere else without my permission.