Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own

Percyyyyy. Stop yelling, please. Mum looks like she's about to cry and Dad's lips are clenched tightly shut in the way that wrinkles his chin. As I observe this I notice the stubble and think to myself that he must not have shaved in the past few days. But before I have the chance to ponder this further his mouth opens, and he yells that at least he's doing a job he loves and is not just lusting after power, unlike someone we all know. I look at you with a pained expression on my face. Fred and George and Ron and Mum all look smug. The unpleasant colour in your cheeks almost completely masks your freckles, and I'm probably the only one who notices the small frown lines just forming around the edges of your mouth. You don't say another word, instead turning brusquely to march up the stairs to retreat to your bedroom.

You knew you shouldn't have said that to Dad. Did you do it on purpose, so that he'd be mad at you? I know you have more control than to say something like that out of spite. You must've had some reason. Or maybe I'm wrong and you aren't as together as we all thought. Still, resorting to hiding yourself behind anger… I thought you had more convincing facades than that. I look over at you trudging up the stairs. I was right; I can see it in the way you slump your shoulders so slightly. You're not proud of yourself, to put it mildly. You're hurting too.

I know you couldn't handle them mad at you. So I step in instead.

"Well, it's true that Dad had the chance to get higher up in the Ministry multiple times, but he didn't. He's not exactly after the money."

Now all eyes are on me. Maybe that last comment was a bit too far on my part, but I've definitely succeeded in redirecting their anger. Dad's eyes get very wide for an instant, and a flush passes over his face. He isn't furious, but me echoing Percy's comments is something he just cannot put up with right now. I can hear his breathing, unnaturally deep and long. Mum can hear it too, and "furious" is a mild description from the wrinkles on her face right now.

"Ginevra Molly Weasley! You apologise to your father this instant, then get up to your room!" I'm not going to press any further. They've definitely forgotten about Percy.

"I'm sorry Dad." I go up the stairs after you.

I knock tentatively on your door. I'm not sure whether or not you would appreciate company, but I hear you grunt through the door, in the "come in" way. Slowly I crack open the door and peek my head in. You're at your desk, glasses resting on the stack of books beside you, leaning your elbow on the tabletop. Your forehead rests on your palm, with your hair caught between your fingers. The lamp above you both illuminates the crimson strands of your hair and obscures your contorted face.

I step toward you, resting a hand upon your shoulder. It feels so tense, and I wish there was something for me to say. I squeeze the tight muscles, and they relax substantially. "Percy," I intone quietly, "Don't listen to them, they don't--" But the muscles tense back up again beneath my trembling fingers. "Fine…" I lift my hand from his back, "But don't hesitate to ask if you ever feel like talking… I'm here for you." And I make my way out of the room, looking back through the crack of the door as I ease it shut. You haven't moved. I slump roughly back against the closed door, shutting my eyes and wishing that just once you would let someone else in.

That wasn't the last time. It happens again and again. You yell and they yell and I yell, then they yell some more and you yell more back and then leave, then they leave and I'm left to yell alone. No one hears or sees but I'm screaming. You're so unreachable, and you do it on purpose even though I'm not them, and I'm not like them and you know it. I don't know what you want. Well, I have a suspicion. You wish I weren't family. You wish I didn't have the fiery hair, the rounded nose, the myriad of freckles strewn across the cheeks. You wish I were removed enough that you could trust me with your problems. No matter what I do, you still associate me with them. You can't help it. I look just like you. And I think the same way you do. I'm quite frankly too close for comfort; if you give away an inch of what you're thinking you know I can follow it for a mile. I'm sorry I can't be what you need, but I wish you'd allow yourself to see that you still have me anyhow.

It's so frustrating. You're forever looking away. I cannot reach you, because you won't even allow me to try. I can't handle it and I don't know what to do with you. I can't handle it and I can feel these feelings slowly breaking me. I can't handle it, but I know that I can't keep these feelings pent up because I don't want to become what you've become. I need an outlet.

So I sing. "Will the river wash me clean, carry me away? Will the river wash me clean, carry me away? Will the river wash me clean, carry me away?" It echoes through the hallway, resonates quietly through the thin walls. Are you listening? I don't know if the hope held in my words is for you or for me. Even if it is for you, I don't know that it matters, for I'm not sure that you notice. And even if you do notice, will it help you?

It didn't help. You left anyway. I want to follow you still. Without you, this house is not a home for me anymore. I can't explain how I feel but I know they wouldn't understand anyway. I sigh and sniffle and wipe the tears from my eyes again. I flip my pillow over so the tear-stained side is face down. Then I decide to go into the bathroom and wash my face, just to make sure there's no sign of tears when I come downstairs so they'll never know I've been thinking of you again tonight. I'm staring at my shuffling feet as I move my hand to the doorknob and twist.

I enter the room and look up once I'm in front of the mirror. I stare into the glass, and now it's me that's hurting when I see the resemblance between your face and mine. The hair, freckles, nose, even the colour of my eyes is the same green crashing against blue as yours. I wonder if the dark discoloured circles below my eyes also have a counterpart on your face, or if perhaps yours have disappeared since you've gone. I wonder if I'm turning into you or just becoming your replacement; then I wonder if I would've always been like this if you had never been here; then I wonder if I was like this all along. It's not fair and I miss you and where are you and the tears burn at my eyes again. I quickly shut the door before they overflow and I'm left staring into the mirror at the tears running down my cheeks because you're not here. They spill over your bags under my eyes and your freckles on my cheeks and your frown lines beside my mouth, and I wish harder than I've ever wished for anything that they will wash all of these traces of you away and I can begin again. Then I realize what I'm wishing for and cry even harder, but even that can't cleanse me of anything.

Then for the first time I notice what's sitting on the counter next to the sink. The tears come still harder, and as I pick up the item, I wonder if maybe you did understand how I would feel, and why I'm going to do this. I wonder if you left this one thing behind with me on purpose. I smile for the first time in weeks, silently thanking you. Oddly, the tears stop flowing as I gently slide the cap off of your old razor.

Maybe you can make it on your own, Percy, but I can't.