Title: As Long As You Love Me So
Author: Kate's Master, aka Emma
Summery: Response to TheOriginalHufflepuff's Twelve Fics challenge. The lives of Percy and Penny, jumbled and muddled…just as they should be. Canon.
Posted: 26/12/07

Author Notes: Soooo…saw the beginnings of a story someone was posting in response the TheOriginalHufflepuff's "Twelve Fics of Christmas" challenge, and thought to myself…"Well, that looks like fun…I've got exams in January, lots of work and a relative invasion…why not?!"

Hmmm. Probably not my best plan. Anyway, here it is – twelve oneshots, each in response to a given prompt, mine all focused around the lives of Percy Weasley and Penny Clearwater. Mainly the former.

Disclaimer: Despite frequent attempts on my behalf, she still won't sell. Shucks. I wonder why…And the title was nicked from "Let it Snow", while chapter titles are from various carols. Probably the most Chrsitmassy bits in it. Ahh well.

Dedication: To those who shall never read it, but whom have given me many a fabulous evening and afternoons - here's to many more.

Prompt One: Dance

Light and Life

She smiles at him for the first time on September 1st 1986. Their first trip on the Hogwarts Express; she, the first in her family, experiencing a whole new world for the first time; he, breaking away from the watchful eyes of two older brothers because here is his chance to be more than just one of seven. He knocks her over, but she doesn't snap. She laughs instead, and calls him clumsy, and he helps her pick up the books she carries, and somehow they end up in a compartment together. She tells him the tales of the books she carries, and secretly admits how scared she was. For why should anyone like her, strange little girl who always carries a book few wizards had ever read?

He smiles, and promises that he will be her friend, (no reason, he thinks, to tell her that he has no friends wither) and spends the rest of the journey explaining all he knows of Hogwarts and magic and how the next seven years will be. (Which turns out to be all wrong, but then they are young and free and innocent and it is always good to dream.) And she smiles at him, not a normal, everyday smile, but a special smile that lights up her entire face, making her nose wrinkle slightly and her eyes sparkle.

Penelope Clearwater. He calls her that for the next year, before she finally gets fed up with it one evening shortly before the summer holidays, and chases him from the Great Hall wielding her mashed potatoes and chanting "Penny! Penny!"

After that, he only calls her Penelope when he is particularly serious, worried or cross.

Everyone knows when she is happy. The entire of Hogwarts feels lighter – or rather, he feels lighter, and he see's no reason why everyone else shouldn't too. And she is always happy.

It's like the sun breaking through cloud, catching sight of her in the corridor. When she is happy, every other step becomes a skip, and everyone she passes gets a smile, from Dumbledore to Snape to every single snotty-nosed first year.

Her best friend, she calls him, and, as such, he takes it upon himself to learn her. Know her best out of everyone. (For being the best is the one thing he knows he is good at). Her quirks, her habits, everything. He learns the way she has toast for breakfast every morning, the slice cut into two triangles, jam on one half, marmalade on the other. Sees the way she tugs at a loose lock of hair when she is worried, the way her ears twitch when she is angry.

He often thinks how apt her surname is, for watching Penny is like watching the river that runs through the meadow behind the Burrow. Always moving, jumping and skipping and dancing its way through, come rain or shine, and she just the same.

For seven years they trundle along, skipping their way through petty arguments and homework and first dates and last feasts. And because he goes through it with Penny, it becomes a dance – a long, amazingly complicated dance, the sort where if you hesitate for one second too long, put a foot slightly to far to the left, the entire thing is thrown and salvage is very rarely possible.

Barely a year out of Hogwarts, and he not only puts a foot slightly wrong….he careens through the whole thing and turns a waltz into a multi-pileup.

She shouts. He shouts. She slaps him. And he storms out.

The next time he sees her, she is dancing again. Ducking and weaving through a duel with a Death Eater he doesn't recognise, spells flying thick and fast. She's being pushed backwards, towards a wall, and he doesn't think twice; not two minutes ago, his brother had died in front of him, and so it is a new version of Percy Weasley that leaps forward and yells "reducto", wand pointed straight at the offending figure. Not the killing curse, but just as effective.

She looks at him, then, disbelief in her eyes, but there's no time for talk, no time to explain, because someone is screaming nearby, and it's too much to hope it could be a Death Eater.

He turns one way, and she the other, and there is no chance to share even a look. For this is not their fairytale, this is their story, and it is real and true and hard.

It is over, and she dances no more. Lying still in a hospital bed, he has to watch her chest very carefully to remind himself that yes, she lives. Just. Not like Fred…cold, cold Fred who should never have been so still. She will wake up, the Mediwitch says. They won't say when.

But wake up she does, and they let him take her home. And now they sit, in semi-awkward silence, in Percy's flat, because her parent's house is already full, and she cannot cope by herself, although she'll never admit it. She's alive, but her eyes are dead, and there's no more dancing. Oliver thinks he got her away from the dementors in time, but Percy can't help but wonder if he was too late. Her soul is there, but someone has turned off the music, and the dancing has ended.

And he doesn't know how to start it back up again.

One down, eleven to go…best set to it then!