Eleven Places by aprilmoon92

Summary: "It's easier to forgive someone for being wrong than being right" Sometimes all it takes is the sight of an empty plate to stop someone feeling unwanted.
Rating: G
Categories: Post-OotP
Characters: None
Genres: None
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2006.10.21
Updated: 2006.10.21

Eleven Places by aprilmoon92

Chapter 1: UnwantedAuthor's Notes:

Disclaimer: This is JKR's world, I'm just messing with it.
A/N: Okay, just want to get rid of this ficlet I had running about my mind for the past couple of months. I thought it would be really touching. Here goes nothing, eh? Enjoy :)

"It's easier to forgive someone for being wrong than being right." -Hermione (Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince)

He shivers.

The night air clouds at his warm breath, glowing eerily in the pale blue moon light. Looking up, the tiny crescent looks nothing more than a delicate slice in the fabric of the inky sky. A zephyr tears easily through the loose weave of his jumper, sending chills shooting down his spine.

It will snow tonight he thinks as he trudges slowly along the frost-slicked earth, brushing the undergrowth aside with a mittened-hand. The howl of a lonely wolf floats hauntingly in the wind, mirroring the emotions smoldering within him. How ironic it was; how like the mourning wolf he was, wounded and limping, returning and whimpering, alone... unwanted. Losing himself in thoughts of days gone by, wounds healed, and mistakes made, his steps grow mechanic, one foot before the next in a journey to infinity. A low humming grows in the air.

Brought out of his reflection, he looks up, to see a shimmering wall hanging in the air ten feet before him. Gentle colors swim within it, reds, blues, greens, yellows... almost like the filmy surface of a soap bubble. Looking out the corner of his eye, he sees it stretching high into the night sky, traces of the magic also extending far to the right and left. He has reached the wards.

Stepping closer, the humming rises into a steady drone, sending vibrations deep into his bones. The warning is part of the magic, meant to keep those unsuspecting away. He takes a deep breath, and raises a shivering hand. He wills his nerves to hold as his fingertips near the barrier. He clenches his jaw in anticipation, hoping against hope. His fingers tingle, and he is through.

They haven't revoked his name from the wards...

Perhaps they were right? he thinks in wonder, stepping fully through. He is now on Weasley land. Something clicks within his chest. Is this home? The trees, the track, the land; they remember him, and he them. Everything is familiar, and he gasps, his eyes never still as he drinks in the landmarks of his life before. He has entered through the pine grove- as stand of trees where his father would harvest one tree every year. The same tree which would stand proud and erect in the corner of the living room come Christmas Day, when the presents would be collected under the jaded boughs.

Disbelieving, he staggers along the indistinct path, and watches... there. A single stump stands alone in a small clearing. He is drawn to it; his family was in this place not three days ago. He slips a mitten off, and lowers his hand onto it, reverent. He runs a finger lightly across the rough grain, tracing the swirls and dips round and round and round... The sap is still damp, and he leaves a sticky trail in his wake. He lifts the finger, already blue from cold, and a silken thread clings, the ties that bind, before it tears beneath the stress, and is broken.

A tear forms, but he does not let it fall. It is too cold, and he is too empty. Instead, he turns, reverting to his gentle steps, returning home. He is back at the trail, and he continues, as he has done before. As he did when he sundered himself, kept away, alone. Regret fills him, as he remembers the wasted years, the cold glares, nothing more. He stumbles. He has forgotten. The ground is slick.

His icy limbs ache, with his falls, fallouts, fall from glory, fall from grace; his fall from his Utopia. He forces unhappy arms into motion, gripping the ground, and he pushes, away. He lifts his head, and he is struck by the sight of the old pond. The pond of his youth, where siblings once enjoyed summer merriment. Before he had gone.

He remembers a time, when he sits on that rock, just there, a book open in his lap. His younger sister by his side, leaning against her brother, her teacher, her protector. Patiently, he runs through strings of words, of which she picks up but a few; but a few which is enough. The younger he smiles, loving, warm, at the little angel by his side, who grins happily at him through admiring eyes. Little Ginny... but she is not little anymore.

...but she was still Ginny.

She had visited him, before. Pounding at his door in her fashion, Harry at her arm. He turned her away, tears falling from his eyes, the same ones which had fallen when he refused the owl bearing his sweater the Christmas before. Still, she had not relented, nor the boy by her arm- the boy, whom he had openly ridiculed, ignored, slandered and disdained. Outside his door she had stayed, with the boy at her arm. She had threatened, cajoled, pleaded, explained, asked and simple, spoken; and he had listened. Come nightfall, they left his front stoop, but their voices lingered within their mind. They had sown something within him- a hope.

He rises, finally, as the same tears flow freely from him, and he feels something within. His eyes drift shut in memory, but fly open at an icy touch. There, there... and there again. He looks up into a drifting sea of angels, descending to the world below. The pristine flakes settle, along his shoulders, the ground, the icy surface of his childhood pond. It is time.

He moves. He moves briskly. He moves briskly towards his home. There- the murmur of happy voices in the wind, the gentle glow of kitchen light.

The Burrow is just like he remembers it. The snow has already blanketed its crooked form, a layer of icing on the roof and windowsills. The garden, defiant, stands proud despite the chilling weather, a tribute to his mother's charms. Their merry heads glow with warm orange light, being cast by the lit windows of his home. Along the wall, pretty Christmas lights shine, its plug lying forgotten upon the ground, in his father's haste. They are arranged in three separate figures; a round-cheeked gnome, with a hooked nose and greasy hair, a majestic dragon, spewing flames forth, and a grand pyramid, the tombs of the ancients. He smiles, knowing that they have been put up by the four oldest children in the house...

...without him, and the smile slides off his face. He goes on.

His gaze drifts, and lands inside the kitchen window. The familiar shelves and stove, the scrubbed wood table, and the heavily worn chairs. A tray of freshly baked cookies lies cooling on a rack by the oven. They will be eaten with the presents tomorrow. Ten empty plates lie abandoned on the table, his mother would leave them till that night when everyone was asleep.

All of a sudden, the tears threaten to fall again, and he gasps as raw emotion surges through him.

Eleven places were set.

With his composure in shreds, he jogs to the front door, unable to contain himself any longer. He pushes the oaken door open silently, and staggers through the portal. He hears the voices from the living room, and he heads there, with the tears now flowing freely down his front, but he knows they will not care. As he enters the place he has not been for over a year, silence suddenly falls over the occupants like a blanket. His mother is first to react.

"Percy!" she cries, charging towards him with her arms wide. He does not hesitate, returning his mother's embrace time ten. Recovered from the shock, the rest of the family moves towards him, joining in tearfully until they are one sobbing mass. Even the twins have no wisecracks as they merely cling to their elder brother... but two stand aside, watching contentedly from the corner as their effort pays off.

Later, Percy sits on the familiar couch, as everyone counts down till the witching hour. He looks across the room, at the boy against whom he had committed so many wrongs. His little sister, his Ginny, lies pressed up against him, her new protector, their arms around each other. As if sensing his gaze, the two look up, and their gazes lock. With tearful eyes, and a warm and watery smile, he mouths two words to his rescuers.

I'm sorry...

...but they already know. With a smile, Harry and Ginny wipe the slate clean, and give him the chance to make up for what he has done. They turn back to the fire, as does he, as they clock strike midnight.

As Christmas starts, and Percy Weasley revels in the joy of being with his family, he can't help but think that he is not so... unwanted.

A/N: Yay, probably one of the fastest stories I've written. Hope you enjoyed it, because I enjoyed writing it a lot. I know its about two months early, but there can't ever be too much Christmas spirit in the world, yeah? Thanks for reading, now review :)

Copyright © Geoffrey Lim 2006

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

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