Disclaimer: I don't own any of these people. Good enough?
The Return of the Gray Ghost
He was gone, and she couldn't believe it.
Percy, HER Percy, was gone. And it was her fault.
Oh, she knew it wasn't REALLY her fault, she knew very well that it was those damned Death Eater's fault, and specifically Lucius Malfoy's wand that had cast the Killing Curse on her beloved Percy; but it had been HER idea that they meet Arthur today for lunch to discuss their reuniting with the rest of the Weasley family. Now, while wearing widow's reeds at her husband's funeral, she could not help but think back.
Percy had been simultaneously shamed and infuriated when the news that Voldemort was back finally came to light. He cursed Minister Fudge, Undersecretary Umbridge, the press, the Wizengamot, the idiots of the Wizarding populace, everyone. But mostly, he had cursed himself. He knew that he had fallen for the same line as everyone else in the Wizarding World, but he knew he shouldn't have.
He knew that Dumbledore might be a bit crazed, but he knew for a fact that Harry Potter was no arrogant, attention-seeking brat. His younger brothers had rescued Harry Potter when he had been starved by his relatives. Later that year, Harry Potter had saved his sister. He still kicked himself that he hadn't even known his only sister had been in trouble. He'd had a hand in saving his father, and had done his best to keep his brother from the cock-up that had happened at the Department of Mysteries. That his stupid brother had followed him anyway only proved to Percy that his brother was a truer fit to his House than he himself was.
Percy Weasley faced himself, and decided he didn't like what he saw. He'd been acting as a Slytherin. He hadn't even been a very good Slytherin. He'd eaten up every lie the Ministry and the tabloids had put out, just like a good little sheeple. He'd been had, and he had no one to blame but himself.
Percy then did what a large percentage of people that find themselves in this position did. He walked into a public house and crawled into a bottle. He stayed there until Penelope had showed up some two months later.
She'd dried him out, brought him back to health, and talked to him. They still had issues when they were finished talking, but Percy had taken the first steps back to taking control of his own life.
Shortly after he was dried out, the Wizengamot had, in part used his testimony to ride Cornelius Fudge out of office on a rail. They then put Scrimgeour into office. In an effort to make himself look good to the Wizengamot, the Minister reinstated Percy to his old job. Percy accepted his job back, but was careful in his action.
The old Percy was a "yes man." The new Percy was too, in order to keep up his cover; but kept a diary under a Fidelius charm of everything that he saw, every person that came by, and every new decree that came out. Every weekend, he and Penelope would work out what exactly was going on. Who was lobbying for what laws, who had the ears of which Department heads, and who was running interference for what agenda. With their combined organizational skills, By the time the Minister took Percy to the Burrow as a blatant excuse to try to talk to Harry, they had a list of almost every "contributor" to the Dark Lord's coffers, and, more importantly, the sympathizers within the Ministry.
By that Christmas, Percy and Penelope had also worked through their personal issues, and had become re-engaged, and were planning to be married on New Year's Eve. In late January, Penelope and Percy had requested a meeting with Arthur for lunch at the Leaky Cauldron. They were planning to request acceptance back into the family. Percy would give a full apology to each member of the family, and provide all of their information for Arthur to take to the leaders of the Light. Not just the names, everything. Names, dates, actions, and copies of every scrap of proof they had. They wanted the people to know whom they could trust, whom they should watch, and what kind of damage they had done.
The day of the meeting that would reunite the Weasley clan, Diagon Alley was to suffer an attack by the Death Eaters. Percy had tried to fight them, but matching stunners to killing curses was a losing proposition. Percy had been one of a great number of losers that day. The meeting never happened. The information remained at their flat, and no word of it was mentioned.
Penelope was brought back to the present when she suddenly found herself enveloped in a rib-crushing hug, with her head buried in the massive bosom of her mother-in-law. Molly insisted that she accompany them back to the Burrow. Indeed, Molly insisted that Penelope stay at the Burrow for the next month, at a minimum. Molly wanted, needed to know what her boy had been like for the past two years, and to know the girl that had "won his heart and was trying to bring him back to his family."
Arthur and Molly soon convinced Penelope not to call them "Mr. And Mrs. Weasley," and she managed to call Molly "Mum," easily enough; as her mother had died in childbirth with her, but she couldn't call Arthur "Dad." Her father had disappeared early last year, before the Dark Lord had officially returned, but it was now obvious what had happened to him. They compromised by having her call him "Pop."
After three weeks at the Burrow, Penelope thought she was going to go insane. Molly was nearly inconsolable, and cried and smothered the poor girl, constantly asking questions, tearing open the barely scabbed wounds of Penelope's own grief. Arthur had locked his emotions down in a vise-like grip. He would get home, eat his dinner, and disappear into his shed. Hours later, he would emerge, looking much worse for wear, take a shower, and go to bed.
Early on in the fourth week, Penelope spiked Molly's tea with a calming drought after Arthur had left for his shed. When Molly finally drifted off, Penelope levitated her mother-in-law up the stairs and put her to bed. Penelope cared for the woman, and misery may love company, but Penelope was tired of misery.
She wanted something else. She wanted revenge. She had heard tales from when she was a child, and from the other Weasley boys. She knew whom the twins were named for. She knew what had happened to the last of the Prewitts. She knew that the Death Eaters would piss themselves in the last two years of the first war whenever they saw a gray, high collared, opera cloak. She also knew one of the best-kept secrets in the Wizarding World. She knew the identity of the Gray Ghost, and she knew that right now, he was locked in his shed, trying to get back into shape to remind the Death Eaters why it was never a good idea to attack Clan Weasley.
Penelope walked out to the shed and tried to open the door. It was locked, and no amount of pounding would get Arthur to answer. Finally, Penelope lost her temper, and a blasting curse later, the shed lost its door, its doorjamb, and several square feet of wall. What she saw was five wands pointing back at her, and five very sheepish looking Weasleys. She walked in, repaired the door and walls, and said simply, "I want in."
Penelope took a seat on a workbench, and stared at Arthur, Bill, Charlie, Fred and George, waiting for their reply. Fred and George recovered first.
"Don't know what you're –"
"talking about, old girl. We were just –"
"trying to help Dad out –"
"by showing him some of our –"
"Oh, please!" Penelope said, sounding disgusted by the transparent lie. "There is a gray, high collared, opera cloak sitting on the bench, with a mask right beside it. Right next to it is Bill's copy of Golinard's, open to the protection schemes; not to mention a set of paints, threads, gems and everything else needed to make it the most enchanted item of apparel this side of the Atlantic. You two goof balls are certainly showing the rest a few things you've come up with, but I doubt very much it is anything less dangerous than a Nundu-in-the-box. And Charlie, it's my guess that since everyone thinks you're still in Romania; you're going to be the new incarnation of the Gray Ghost. The old incarnation here is in the process of passing on his knowledge. Am I correct?"
Fred and George looked at each other and grinned. "I guess that'll teach us –"
"to try to outthink a Ravenclaw, old bean!" They both started to laugh.
"Shut it!" Arthur demanded of the youngest pair in the room. "Now, Penelope. There is a perfectly logical explanation for everything you have seen tonight."
"Oh, really, Pop? This I have got to hear," Penelope said.
"Actually, Dad, I'd kind of like to hear this explanation, myself," Charlie said, trying unsuccessfully to suppress a snicker.
Arthur looked at Penelope, and tried again. "Penelope, I don't know exactly what you are thinking, but I don't think that it is safe for you to mention the Gray Ghost in public. He's got the third highest reward from You-know-who, and second highest from the Ministry."
"Pop, I know it was you in the last war. When Gideon and Fabian were found, Molly went to pieces, just as she is now, and suddenly the Death Eaters had someone they were scared spitless of. Percy told me all about his favorite uncles, and what he found out here when Molly drafted him to clean up the shed once. That cloak, that mask, and that walking stick; all in an old bag hanging from a nail behind this workbench, right?" Penelope smirked at her audience as she reached behind the workbench and lifted up the bag in question.
"Dad, I think the twins are right. She's got us, and there's no way you can talk her out of it. She's nailed us six ways to Sunday." Bill chuckled.
Arthur knew he was defeated. Penelope had worked out exactly what was going on. At first, Arthur had planned on simply "coming out of retirement," as it were, but Bill and Charlie had sussed out what was going on when Arthur had approached the curse breaker about rebuilding his old cloak. Muriel had put the protections on his first cloak, but she was too old to do the work now. Her hands were too palsied to renew the runes.
At first, Arthur had refused to let his boys in on his plans, but ten minutes into a duel with Charlie made him realize that his reflexes and endurance were those of a middle aged man that had been sitting behind a desk for fifteen years, not a man in his prime. Bill and Charlie had been the ones to convince him to bring in the twins. After all, Charlie had noted; they'd been blowing up things for years. If they were pointed at the enemy, nasty things would happen to people that deserved it.
Charlie had been chosen as his successor, much for the reasons Penelope had given, but also the fact that he had better reflexes and a higher threshold for pain than any of his brothers. Living around dragons was responsible for both of those factors. Slow Dragon handlers or those that didn't handle burns well didn't last long at the preserve. They either were fodder or turned in their leathers rather quickly and limped away.
The twins had come through with some truly nasty products for their use. They had planned on letting the Order use them, but Dumbledore had shied away from anything that might actually hurt their opponents. The twins were almost disgusted enough to leave the Order at that point. It had taken every ounce of Arthur's persuasion to keep them from walking out. That and the fact that Alistor had a 100 Galleon per month standing order for their "toys."
Now, they had been found out, even before they had really begun. Merlin only knew what Molly would say when she found out what was going on. 'Oh, well. Percy's memory would be more than worth sleeping on the couch.'
"Okay, Penelope. What can you bring to the table?"
"How about information, as well as an extra wand if you need it?"
"What kind of information?" Arthur asked, ignoring the extra wand comment. He and the boys would be in enough danger without throwing this young girl into the shark pool.
"How about six months of tracking information on Death Eaters and their sympathizers in the Ministry, who was interested in what laws being passed, who was pushing for directorship at what times, everything. Percy and I created this list. We were going to give it to you and Dumbledore when he was attacked. I've got sixty confirmed Voldemort sympathizers, and thirty more possibles. A bit of research will confirm or deny them. How's that?"
"How good is your information? Are you sure of it?" Arthur asked. "We're playing for keeps here. Anyone we go after has to be a confirmed Death Eater."
"I don't know if they are marked or not, if that's what you're asking, Pop; but I will be able to guarantee they are working for that son of a bitch." Penelope replied flatly. "If you don't believe me, I can show you the backup information, complete with cross references. If you have any doubts, I'll brew up some polyjuice and a couple of hairs. If it can copy scars, it'll show a Dark Mark. We can do that for each of our marks, if that's what you're worried about."
"No. We know He's got many followers that aren't marked. If I can see the background information, we can work it from there," Arthur replied. "Now, what do you want in return?"
"Revenge. I want Lucius Bloody Malfoy's dick fed to him before he dies by my hand. I want his little Death Nibbler brat son's testicles as my earrings. I want Narcissa Malfoy's perfect face shattered and for her to drown in her own blood. They ruined my family, they took my family from me. I want to take theirs from them. It may not have been what Percy would have wanted, but its what I want."
"Are you sure you can live with doing something like that?" Arthur asked.
"I don't know, Pop. All I know is that right this second, I don't think I can live without it," Penelope said, wiping the unshed tears from her eyes.
The Weasley males looked at each other, saying nothing. As Arthur's eyes met with each of his children's he saw acceptance of the newest person in the family. "Welcome to the family business, Penelope."