A/N: The following story is about what I think happened during that memorable part of Half Blood Prince with the Minister takes Harry away from Christmas dinner to talk to him and leaves Percy alone with his family. I practically screamed when I realized we wouldn't be able to see what happened, so I decided to write it. I've assumed a Percy/Penelope pairing because it was convienent for me to give Percy a girlfriend and she was ready-made. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Harry Potter and everything related to Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling and several other people who aren't me. This story is not intended for profit and no copyright infringement is intended… so don't sue me please

Firelight glinted off of her red curls as she reached in to stir the flames. Percy smiled, it was typical of her. She couldn't resist playing with the fire, even though it was magical and wouldn't go out until they wanted it to. Sighing a little, she settled back into his arms comfortably. He absentmindedly began stroking her hair.

"I wish you didn't have to work tomorrow." She complained, "Mum was hoping you'd be able to come out again."

Percy held back a smile. In truth he was relieved not to have to spend Christmas day with Penny and her family again. Although he liked her family, he found it exhausting to watch everything he did and said around her distant relatives to keep from accidentally exposing the magical world. It hadn't helped that at Christmas last year he'd been introduced as "Penny's boyfriend who works in the government", forcing him to endure a solid two hours of interrogation about the policies of the Muggle government from Penny's Great Uncle Fredrick who – he found out later - was a long time political dissenter.

"…and of course it would've been a perfect time to make the announcement." She continued, unconsciously playing with the ring on her left hand. It was a small diamond and the band was only gilded with gold, but it was the best he could afford and it made her happy.

He sighed wearily, "Do we have to go through this again? I'm just not ready to tell everyone yet. At least not until we've settled on the arrangements." They'd had this argument many times. Penny wanted a large wedding with everyone they knew in attendance, not matter how many times Percy told her it just wouldn't work.

"You just don't want to face your family yet." Penny observed shrewdly.

He frowned. Knowing that his family had been right all along was uncomfortable to say the least. But try as he might he still couldn't believe that he could've done anything different at the time. All the logical evidence had been that Dumbledore was senile and Potter mad. In any case, he was duty bound to follow the Ministry. No matter what it did.

"Why can't we have a small wedding?" He argued, "We could simply appear before a Wizangamot justice then send the announcement out later… your family could be there if you want them, of course." He said hastily at the look on her face.

"And what about your mum?" She argued straightening up to look at him, "You know she'll be unbelievably hurt if she can't help plan your wedding. How could you do that to her? And what about the rest of your family? I'm sure they'd all want to be there as well."

Percy sighed. In truth, he wasn't sure that the breach between himself and the rest of his family could ever be healed. It had simply been too long, over a year and a half not speaking. He didn't even think about it that much anymore. He regretted the things he'd said to his father, but some of the things his father said to him still stung every time he thought about them. "I just… can't Penny. I'm sorry."

Penny's face softened, she leaned back against him. "Well nothing has to be decided right now. Just think about it, please?"

"I will." He murmured into her hair as he kissed the top of her shining hair. He forcefully shoved thoughts of his family to the back of his head. It was Christmas Eve and he wanted to celebrate it with the only family he had.

"Weasley!" Percy jumped, spilling the cup of tea he was holding into his lap. He winced as the hot liquid splashed through the thin fabric of his finest set of dress robes. "Yes sir?" He answered promptly, hoping the Minister hadn't noticed his clumsiness.

That hope died as the Minister grinned. "Clean yourself up, we're going out."

Percy was puzzled at the Minister walked away. What business could they possibly have on Christmas Day? He'd assumed they would be catching up on paperwork. Not wishing to keep the minister waiting, he hurriedly muttered a cleaning spell on his robes and walked out of his office.

As he walked down the hall he puzzled it over in his head. He didn't think there was a single other Ministry employee present. His confusion mounted he joined the Minister at the Apparation zone. "Are we the only ones here, sir?" he asked.

The minister simply looked at him and gave him the coordinates to jump to.

Percy was momentarily startled; it was only a mile or so away from the Burrow. "Sir, where exactly are we going?"

"Need to pay a visit to a very old Wizarding family… we need to make sure that everything is… as it should be."

Percy frowned, but decided not to question as he and the Minister apparated out.

When he reappeared Percy looked around in shock, he'd misjudged the coordinates, they were not more than 50 meters away from the Burrow. "Minister?" Percy began.

"You have a very lovely family, Weasley." Scrimgeour noted, "What was your mother's name again?"

"Molly." Percy replied, his mouth suddenly very dry.

"Yes… of course." The Minster said distractedly, as he shoved open the garden gate that lead to the back door. "After you." He said opening it wide enough for Percy to pass through ahead of him.

His heart was pounding as he slowly climbed the steps. What in Merlin's name were they doing here? The Minister couldn't have any business with his family, and he doubted that Scrimgeour even knew that his associate wasn't on speaking terms with the rest of the Weasleys. His hand shook as he pushed open that back door and walked into his family home.

The first thing he noticed was the smell of roasted turkey. The entire family, plus Harry, Hermione, and - he noticed with no small amount of shock - his former Professor Lupin were sitting around a very large tabled, piled with food. The entire group was looking up at him as he walked it and stood tensely in front of the door. A long moment passed as he took in his parent's stunned faces and the dark looks from his siblings. "Merry Christmas, Mother." He said stiffly, not knowing what else to say. It felt strange to be here again, and walking in on his family's feast… a feast he hadn't been invited to.

"Oh Percy!" Suddenly his mother was in his arms, crying on his chest. He stood there stunned, feeling more and more awkward.

"Forgive the intrusion." The Minster said coming in behind Percy, "Percy and I were in the vicinity – working, you know – and he couldn't resist dropping in and seeing you all."

Merlin! He hadn't wanted to see his family… and it was cruel of the Minister to make them think that he had. He took a quick glace around and saw his father and brothers glaring at him, not fooled at all by the Minister's lies. Percy swallowed and chose a spot on the wall above the table to stare at. He did not stop staring at the spot even when his mother, to his embarrassment, offered the Minister "purkey" and "tooding"

"No, no, my dear Molly," Scrimgeour said as if he'd known her name for a long time, "I don't want to intrude, wouldn't be here at all if Percy hadn't wanted to see you all so badly."

Percy shifted, wishing desperately the Minister would stop saying that.

"Oh Perce!" his mother exclaimed, reaching up and kissing him. Percy stiffened with guilt, why was the Minister doing this to him?

Everything became painfully clear when the Minister asked Harry to walk with him in the garden. Percy stood there as the Minster and Harry breezed past them, suddenly painfully aware just how obvious the Scrimgeour made it that he was here merely to talk to Harry. He was determined to keep his head up though, even though he could feel the beginnings of a blush creeping up on his cheeks. His brothers and sister were glaring at him, and he could see the same look in his father's eyes that he had the day he left, the same disappointment and hurt.

His mother though, seemed to be completely oblivious. "Oh Percy, it's so good to have you back." She said pulling him into another hug.

"So what do you have to say for yourself." Charlie demanded, standing up from the table and facing him, as he pulled away from his mother. "Are you ready to admit you were wrong? About Voldemort being back…. about your precious ministry?'

Percy felt momentarily stunned that it was Charlie who'd confronted him. He and Charlie used to get along so well, despite their very different personalities. He started to feel anger growing hot in his stomach, why couldn't anyone let this go? "There wasn't anything else we could've done." He insisted, hating the whine he heard in his voice. "There wasn't any credible evidence to support his return, no reason to start turning people against the Ministry."

Bill's mouth gaped open, "You can't be defending them! They would've led the whole wizarding world right into Voldemort's arms if Dumbledore…"

"Dumbledore is still actively working against the Minister!" Percy interrupted exasperatedly, "What the wizarding world needs now is to be able to be confident in it's leadership… that's the Ministry in case you've forgotten… not a nearly senile old man back in Hog…."

He broke off suddenly as a glob of parsnips splattered onto his glasses. He stood there for a minute, not being able to believe what just happened. Humiliated tears rose to his eyes as he heard snickers and outright laughter from many at the table. Rapidly blinking them away he removed his glasses with as much dignity as he could muster.

"Oh Percy." Molly had tears in her eyes again, looking at Percy with hurt and disappointment.

Arthur put his arms around her, "I think you need to leave, Percy." He said with steel in his voice, he didn't even look at his son.

"Fine." Percy said shoving past the two of them. He froze as he felt another glob of goo hit the back of his head.

"Prat." He heard Ginny say behind him. The snickers followed him as he walked, back ramrod straight, out the door of his family home.

Harry was striding quickly away from them Minster, just as Percy exited, leaving the Minister behind with an enraged expression. Percy forgot about the goo of parsnips decorating his glasses as he slapped them back on his face in order to see what was going on better. Harry snickered then shoved past him into the house. Percy quickly took his glasses back off and cleaned them.

The Minister walked briskly back up to Percy. "Let's go, Weasley." He snapped, "I've got Christmas dinner waiting for me at home."

"Of course, Minister." Percy said trying to hide his own humiliation, luckily this time the Minister didn't notice anything was wrong.

Without another word the Minister disappeared. Percy paused long enough to take one long final look at the Burrow. Hurt and embarrassment raged through him, but he was also angry. More angry than he'd been the last time he'd left, after that terrible fight with his father. Weren't families supposed to forgive each other? Weren't they supposed to be there for you no matter what? They hadn't even given him a chance. He shook his head, this was the last time he'd ever be here, he vowed. He wasn't going to crawl back to his family to be embarrassed like that ever again. He gave the Burrow and ironic little wave before apparating back to the Ministry.

Percy got back to his flat very late that night. Hoping that the memories of that afternoon would fade away if he kept busy, he worked at a fever pitch until well after sunset. Finally, exhausted, but still upset, he decided to go home.

Penny was lying in front of the fire, sound asleep with two full glasses of wine in front of her on the hearth The fire had died down to a few embers that played beautifully across her red curls. Percy smiled; she looked so peaceful, so beautiful. He wouldn't have ever been able to survive not having his family, if it weren't for her.

Slowly he walked over to her and sat down beside her. She stirred. "Percy?" Her voice was sleepy.

"Yes, it's me." He whispered.

"I waited for you." There wasn't any accusation in her voice.

"I know. I'm sorry."

"S'okay." She murmured.

"Penny, honey, don't be mad… but we can't tell my parents. Not for a long time." He said the words coming out in a rush as tears welled in his eyes.

That woke her up. "What happened?." She asked in alarm sitting up and looking at him.

He broke down completely, putting his head in her lap, he cried as he spilled out the whole story.

"It's okay." She kept murmuring, stroking his hair, "we can wait to tell them… it's alright…"

But he knew she didn't understand. She had a large wonderful family, who loved her no matter what she did. She didn't have to worry about shame, and hurt, and disappointment. She was always welcome into her home with open arms. She couldn't imagine that families could grow apart, that there could a split so wide that things could never come together again.

"You're all that's left." He whispered against her lap, "my only family." A shudder went through him as he realized that for the first time it seemed true. For the first time he realized that he was completely cut off from his family. That it was only going to be him and Penny forever. That he was no longer part of the clan. He was an exile. He was alone. He would never go back.

A/N: Let me know what you think! It only takes a second to press the pretty little blue button. And I swear if you review me, I'll review at least one, if not more, of your stories! I promise.