Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all his ilk... and elk, if he has one... do not belong to me. Sadly, even Fussy-But-Noble-And-Cuddly Percy does not belong to me. They are the property of J.K. Rowling. Lucky wench.

Duty II

By Dyce

It was lying to his parents that was the hardest part.

Percy Weasley sighed, closing the door to his tiny flat behind him. He missed the Burrow. He missed his mother's cooking. He missed his mother, and his father... he even, to his own deep bewilderment, missed Ron and the twins. The flat was too neat, and too quiet, and too lonely.

When Dumbledore had approached him, he'd wanted to refuse. To just walk out on his family... his parents counted on him! He earned enough that money wasn't quite so tight anymore, and no matter how much his parents wished they didn't, they needed the help. With Ron and Ginny needing new books this year, and new clothes, and his father effectively working two jobs, the official one and his work for the Order, one of which paid badly and the other not at all...

But there was nobody else, nobody who had put so much effort into fitting in, in the Ministry, in working hard and making a good impression... Someone had to be there, to watch, to try to find out if anyone was working with Voldemort or trying to cover any evidence of his presence out of sheer fear. It had to be done, and Percy Weasley had never been one to shirk his duty. Even if he didn't entirely approve of the Order or its methods...

He hung his outer robe neatly over a chair, setting his hat and parchment- case on the small table which served that purpose, and padded to the kitchenette corner of the single room that served all purposes but that of the bathroom. Wearily, he tapped the cauldron with his wand. He needed tea. Anything to distract him from the nightly litany of how he'd gotten here, all alone... not that anything DID ever distract him...

The fight... oh, god, the fight.

It had been necessary, he'd understood that. His parents were bad actors, and lousy liars. His brothers weren't much better, although Ginny could at least keep a secret when she was trying. It was best, he and Dumbledore had agreed, if nobody but themselves knew that he was secretly assisting the Order. It would minimize the possibility of anyone finding out, or letting something slip...

He hadn't meant it to be like that, he thought miserably, sitting down at his small table with his cup of hot, sweet tea. Not coffee. Coffee had been a small gesture of independence. Now he didn't WANT to be independent, he wanted to go HOME. And tea tasted like home.

He hadn't meant it to be like that. He loved both his parents, his sister... even, not that he'd admit it, his annoying, obstreperous brothers. He didn't think Dumbledore was... well, he was rather unreliable, and liked keeping secrets a bit too much, and he was disgracefully disorganized, but he wasn't BAD. And Dad was a good man, and he did work hard, it was just that he didn't really have priorities... well, he did, but not the sort that made you a good member of the Ministry...

What hurt... what kept hurting... was that the fight had become real.

He'd intended to just loftily announce that HE intended to stand by the Ministry, even if no-one else did, and stalk out. But it hadn't worked out like that. The moment had come, and he'd tried to be dignified about it, but his father had gotten angry, and HE'D gotten angry, and suddenly words had been coming out of his mouth... about how he'd had to struggle with his father's bad reputation in the Ministry, that every day he had to prove that he wasn't as soft-hearted and lacking in ambition as the rest of his family, that he was willing to work *hard* to get ahead...

And it was true.

That was why it had hurt his father so much, and hurt him so much too. A part of Percy had always resented the struggle he faced, as Arthur Weasley's son, to be taken seriously. He didn't even *want* to work for the Ministry, but he'd had to, because they needed the money, and every single member of his family had been so utterly *ungrateful* for everything he'd tried to do for them... no, that wasn't true, his parents were grateful, but they wished they didn't need him, and his siblings had just never even noticed what he did for them...

He bit his lip, taking off his glasses and rubbing his stinging eyes. He missed them so much. It was a physical pain inside him, and he was so lonely... he hadn't even been able to visit his father at St Mungo's, he hadn't been able to comfort his mother and be there for her as he should... He wasn't sure if he ever would be again. Some of the things he'd said... what if they couldn't forgive him?

He loved them so much. He was doing this for them. He had to remember that he was doing this for them.

He missed Penelope, too. Maybe when she understood that he'd been working with Dumbledore all alone, they could make up...

He lowered his head carefully to the table, resting his forehead against the cool wood. He hated this. He had everything he'd ever wanted... a good job in the Ministry, a place of his own, peace and quiet and order... and he was miserable. None of it meant anything without his family. Without Penelope. Without love.

He sat up, sniffing and rubbing impatiently at his eyes. Well, he was just going to put up with it. He always did. Someone had to do the boring, lonely, unpleasant jobs, and if nobody else had the discipline and fortitude to handle it, well, then he would have to do them all. Percy Weasley was not one to shirk his duty. Sighing, he reached for his parchment case. He had work to do. He always had work to do.

And oh, Dumbledore owed him for this. Owed him ENORMOUSLY for this. A 'please, Mr. Weasley, do take a teaching position at Hogwarts, well paid of course, with holidays off and permission to turn any nieces and nephews into small rodents if they behave anything like your brothers and sister did, and would you like a medal, a shiny one, and I will explain to your parents that it was entirely my fault' sized debt.

He brightened a little at that thought. He'd always been extremely good at Arithmancy. Perhaps if that position became available, he could have a job he actually liked doing.

(end)