A/N: I'm on a role with the Weasley twins fics, yo! Don't worry Twin Vice readers, it's still by far my first priority, but I need an easier fic to work on plus get to know Percy's character a bit more Hope you like!
Butter and Jam
The Battle of Hogwarts had been a war that would mark the Wizarding world for centuries to come. What had made it so awful and so unforgettable were not the acts of heroism of well-trained heroes ready to face their deaths, but the acts of heroism carried out by the students who had lived and studied in the school. It had been a terrible war. Fred Weasley knew it had been terrible. He'd been there. He'd fought there. He very nearly died there. And he was thanking his lucky stars he wasn't on that horrid list hanging in the main hall.
St. Mungos hospital wreaked of…well, he wasn't exactly sure what, but Fred knew he didn't like it in the least. His other senses were so attuned now, and he was aware of so many different smells lingering heavily in the unfamiliar air, each of them nastier than the last: open wounds, poisonous bites, stale coffee and the unmistakable smell of clean. Fred wrinkled his freckly nose and quirked his mouth. He'd always hated St. Mungos.
"When I get out of here, I'm sending a strongly-worded letter, and a couple of Puking Pastilles, to the administrator here, regarding the quality of their bread and butter pudding," he grunted and made a gagging face. "I'm pretty sure the bugger's not meant to bite back."
Somewhere above him he could hear his mother stifle a choking sob. "Oh…Fred… Fred, my dear, handsome, brave little boy," she said, brushing his flaming red hair out of his eyes. "So brave… so brave…"
"I'm not dead yet, Mum!" Fred snapped and rolled his eyes behind the heavy red gauze wrapped around his head.
"Honestly, he only got blown up, Mum," said his twin in an amused tone. "I bloody well got my ear cursed off by old Snape! Where's my sympathy, I'd like to know."
"You are suffocating him, Molly," Arthur told her, softly. "You know Fred doesn't like being coddled."
"Here, Fred, I brought you some music," said Ginny happily, striding through the door.
"Oh, Ginny, you can't play that in here," said Percy indignantly, shooing away the old record player in his sister's hands. "You'll disturb the other patients. Besides, we won't be able to hear each other over that awful racket."
"Why not? It's classic Weird Sisters!" Ginny protested fiercely. "Fred loves them, don't you, Fred?"
"Don't be stupid, Gin," snapped Ron. "He doesn't listen to that old rubbish anymore, do you Fred?"
"Ronald, that's not a very enlightened frame of thinking," Hermione lectured. "Not everything that is old is rubbish."
Fred opened his mouth to speak, but for once in his life he couldn't seem to get a word in edgeways. Since waking up in St. Mungos, after being caught in the explosion at Hogwarts, the Weasley family had been milling about his bedside chattering, and griping, and worrying relentlessly. He'd been subjected to Ickle Ronniekin's and Hermione's constant bickering, listened to a boring lecture on the trials and tribulations one encountered when importing dragon hide into the country from Percy, and secretly dozed off while Fleur had read a French fashion magazine to him from cover to cover ("It's ze knew style for ze Autumn – I just know 'oo will zoot ze ruffles, Fredereek.")
Everyone and Fang had been in to see him, much to the frustration of St. Mungo's staff who had little room as it was to manoeuvre in, due to the influx of patients after the Last War. Harry hadn't been in though. George had had an inkling that he was feeling too guilty to show his face. Fred planned on later walloping some sense into the scrawny runt.
"Are you feeling any better, dear? You look a little pale."
"Fred, want me to pick you up anything from the shop mate? ...Oh, and can I get a discount on the Patented Daydream Charms?"
"Ron, what on earth do you need Patented Daydream Charms for?"
"Maybe he's just missing a good snog, Hermione."
Fred tangled his fingers in his flaming red hair and groaned. He appreciated the efforts his family were making, but enough was enough. He tried to sit up in bed, but every bone in his bruised body ached, and his muscles felt tired and sore. Instead he attempted to shift his head under the itchy hospital blanket, but it throbbed and pounded angrily: 'Not this time, mate!' Fred imagined it retorting: 'You put me through a lot over the years, but an exploding wall's about all I can take!'
"Ginny, put that down - ooh... I don't think I've seen a Muggle record player quite like this before. How curious. Here, let me have a look."
"Dad, don't tear it to pieces! It's for Fred."
"I told you, Gin, Fred doesn't want to listen to that cack."
Thank Merlin for Georgie, Fred thought in despair. It didn't matter that he could not see his twin. He'd never have to see George to know he was there. They weren't just twins; George was as much a part of him as his own limbs were (and thankfully he hadn't lost any of those during the battle).
George suddenly squeezed his shoulder knowingly, then stood up and clapped his hands loudly to get everyone's attention.
"Alright you lot, time to bugger off!" George announced and began shunting Ron non-too-gently out the door. "You 'n all, Mum. Fred's not going to disappear overnight, but he might be tempted to down a Vanishing Fancy if you pinch his cheeks one more time."
Fred snorted with laughter while Molly huffed and grumbled. "But who will feed him? Who will wash him? He needs me here," she said sternly.
"I'm not an invalid, Mum!" said Fred and flashed her a wicked grin. "Besides, I don't mind getting free sponge baths from the nurses here. And anyway, you've got to get back home to arrange the hero's party I expect you'll all be throwing me when I'm out of this dump."
Molly launched herself at him, throwing her little arms around his neck and sobbing into his shoulder. Fred winced and reached round to pat her back "S'alright, Mum. I'll be back on my feet in no time. You know me."
He felt her pull back a little and her fingers grazed the skin below his gauze gently. His freckly face was covered in angry black and yellow bruises, and covered in little cuts. The sight of him in such a state forced another teary sob from Molly's throat. "If you need me, Fred, send word straight away." She cupped his face and pecked his nose with a wet kiss. "I'll be here in a jiffy."
The rest of the Weasleys filed out one by one, shouting their goodbyes, kissing his cheeks and ruffling his hair affectionately.
"You'd better be heading too, mate," said Fred when everyone but George was left, and crossed his arms behind his head. "After all, I don't want our business going down the plughole."
George smirked and crossed the room to his twin's bedside. "I'm just going into the shop for a bit to see how Lee and Verity are doing. I'll be back in a few hours." He pressed his forehead to his twin's and chuckled, "Love you, you great, big, git."
"Get out of it," Fred laughed, pushing his twin's head away. "We got off pretty lightly, all things considered. I mean, what's an ear and an eye between us?"
"Two eyes, Fred," said George a little sadly. "Two."
Fred didn't reply to that; only raised his hand in a salute by way of a goodbye and listened as George's footsteps retreated from the room. He leaned back into his lumpy pillows and sighed. He hated that George was feeling so guilty. It made him feel uncomfortable, like there was a rift between them and he didn't know how to cross it.
Being blind couldn't be all that bad, he thought positively. He didn't need his eyes to crack jokes, or pull pranks, or devise new and exotic products for Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. What did you really need eyes for anyway?
His ears twitched at the sound of rubber soles squeaking against the wooden floorboards.
Fred heaved a sigh. "Hey Perce."
"How did you know it was me?" asked Percy, surprised and slunk back into the ward.
"You've been hanging about every day like a bad smell," said Fred, but with a smile on his lips. "Look, mate, I know you're feeling a bit guilty..."
"I just thought you might be a little hungry, so I wanted to leave you this," interrupted Percy quickly and deposited a large cheesecake beside Fred's bedside table. "I didn't want to leave it here while everyone was in the room, less Ron got his greedy hands on it." He began busying himself around Fred's bed, folding clothes and sheets and pouring glasses of pumpkin juice. "Honestly, the way that boy eats, you'd think he'd never had a decent meal in all his life."
"Look, speckle-head, I appreciate this and everything, but-"
"I know you do," said Percy shortly and sat beside his younger brother on the bed. "And I know there's been some bad blood between us, Fred. It's all been my big, daft, buggering fault," he said shamefully, hanging his head. "When the wall exploded and everything happened so fast, and I saw you after in the rubble, I thought... I thought for a horrible moment that your last words would have been to an older brother who has treated you so wretchedly, when he should have been protecting you with every ounce of his heart and soul."
They sat in silence for a minute, one corner of Fred's mouth tugging at the side while Percy sat wringing his hands together, heartily embarrassed and struggling to find the right words to express himself.
"I just… I just wondered if you might let me help you out a bit. You know, let me pay my penance and such like. What with George working at the shop and everything… I thought you might need some help getting back on your feet," he said, then added hurriedly. "It's just to say sorry, I mean. I promise I won't... 'coddle' you."
Fred opened his mouth to speak, but started when he felt his older brother's hand touch his own hesitantly, before finally finding the courage to grasp it firmly in his slightly sweaty hand. It was an awkward moment. Fred didn't often find himself speechless. He'd only ever known Percy to be this nervous and humble once, back when they had reunited before the Battle of Hogwarts.
'I could get used to this Perce. Besides, what could be the harm of a little brotherly bonding… plus it'll be a bonus having him as my personal slave for a couple've weeks,' Fred mused and patted his brother's arm with his free hand.
"Alright, Perce," he said cheerfully. "You're on, mate."
Percy beamed and nodded enthusiastically. "You absolutely won't regret this!"
A/N: Yeh, rubbish I know. I'll update soon with something a bit more substantial. Please review guys! I loves reviews...