Chapter 2: - The beginning
Percy could no longer sleep, not now anyway, every time he closed his eyes he was instantly back in that room, the cold chains binding him and the bright light blinding him as the voices, cold hard and mocking demanded a truth that never existed.
Percy lay in bed as Penelope; now sleeping soundlessly lay next to him as she slept, her arms wrapped fully around Percy's torso one of her slim legs entangled with his, her black curly hair falling in ringlets that obscured her face as she rested her head on Percy's chest, her breath warming his skin as she slept.
Percy smiled as he looked upon her beauty he thought her to be the most beautiful thing in the world, Penny was a woman that Percy loved beyond anything else in his life, she was intelligent, beautiful and most of all she wanted nothing but the best for him. He remembered the day that he had met with her father over a year ago now. Mr Clearwater was an influential man in the ministry and was a well liked and respected member of the community. He hadn't taken to the idea that his only daughter was dating a Weasley; a family of little title and wealth, but Mr Clearwater had seen something of himself within the young man that his daughter had presented before him. Or at least Percy had always thought so.
"My daughter tells me she loves you, boy," Mr Clearwater had said, his voice deep and deathly as the two men stood in the library of the Clearwater mansion,
"She did?" Percy had answered in utter bewilderment as Penny had never once told him that she felt this way. It had in fact always been Percy that had told Penny of his feelings towards her and she had always laughed, saying that men didn't reveal their feelings to anyone.
"Men," Penny had said "Where the stronger of the two sexes, brave providers for the family that the wife should love and tend to" He should really have known back then what the Clearwater's where like, Percy reflected. But as the third brother of six how was he to have known any difference? His own mother had always tended to her children, loved them, cared for them and even educated them as best she could. But there was one major difference between the Clearwater's and the Weasley's; besides fortunes that is. Arthur and Molly Weasley were both equals in their marriage; Mr and Mrs Clearwater were not.
The Clearwater's had bred within their daughter a subservience that to Percy was quite alarming; despite her high grades at school Penny's only ambition was to be married to a great man and to provide him with a heir.
"It is the job of all women" Mr Clearwater had said "they must run a smart and comfortable home, raise babies and care for their husband's every whim" he had said with a cruel smile. And Penny it had transpired had chosen Percy to be her man. At the time eighteen year old Percy Weasley had been overwhelmed. He had loved Penelope from afar for many years when they had been at school together, but finally at the end of their fifth year Percy had persuaded himself to ask Penny on a date and much to his delight she had agreed.
But Mr Clearwater hadn't shared his daughter's enthusiasms as she presented her young and timid suitor to her father. Mr Clearwater's tone to Percy had been warm and welcoming but as he ushered his child from the room for a privet talk with Percy Mr Clearwater's attitude changed instantly, he became cold and his eyes burned into Percy as he stood, expectantly waiting in front of Penelope's father.
"So" Mr Clearwater had said his tone cruel and hard as he turned and poured himself a large glass of fire whisky "What prospects could you possibly offer my daughter"
Percy vividly remembered how, with one look, Mr Clearwater had made him feel so small and insignificant, how in one glance he had looked Percy up and down. Percy had know that Mr Clearwater had gauged everything in that one look, the price of Percy's hand-me-down best robes, the stain on their left sleeve, the cheapness of his travelling cloak and the exact age of his polished old dress shoes.
But Percy also remembered how he had been saved the torment of Mr Clearwater's gaze as an immaculately dressed servant handed Mr Clearwater a letter which Mr Clearwater opened and read immediately, as Percy, still standing waited in silence.
"You're a Weasley aren't you?" Mr Clearwater had asked smiling pleasantly as he lowered the letter as he sat at his expensive desk. His tone suggesting that Percy's parentage had, until that moment, remained hidden from him. "I think, Mr Weasley that my daughter's choice could be most beneficial for both of us"
"Indeed sir?" Percy had said, ever eager to please his elders and superiors, even though at the time Percy hadn't realised why the pairing would be favourable to Mr Clearwater. Percy had no fortune with which he could buy Penelope's dowry; he had no highflying career and very little savings. The only thing that Percy could possibly offer Mr Clearwater was a connection to a family whose name was as ancient as it was tarnished. Percy knew that as a Weasley his name was decidedly below that of the Clearwater's in all advantageous social circles.
'The signs where all there', Percy thought as he untangled himself from Penelope and moved to stand by the window watching the rain splash onto the pain, 'Hindsight is a truly remarkable thing'