"Pardon me, sorry!"
In normal circumstances, Percy would have stopped. He would have helped the elderly witch up, picked up her large stack of parchment, and apologized profusely before smiling at her and continuing on his route. However, these were not normal circumstances. Percy was running late, very late in Percy-time, and he simply did not have the time to be Perfectly Polite Percy.
"Pardon me, coming through!"
"Ah!" yelled a wizard before toppling over, another victim in Percy's wake.
Honestly, thought Percy, did George have to pick today of all days to prank me? When have I ever said, 'yes, I do want a Self-Snoozing Alarm, ten minutes of extra sleep for the hard-working'? Although, if he were entirely honest with himself, Percy was relieved George had pulled a prank at all. It had been too long since his younger brother had even bothered testing his ideas. It definitely meant a step in the right direction. Perhaps he would even consider reopening the shop! However, it was a shame that he had the lousiest timing. Blame it on the alarm clock, thought Percy, amused.
"Hello, Miss Patil," he panted to the Minister's secretary in a semblance of ease as she collected and organized different flying Memos.
"Good morning, Percy," Parvati said, eyeing him and her watch curiously. "This is odd. You're right on time for once."
"Yes, yes, I am well aware how late I have arrived for this important meeting," he replied irritably.
"Percy, you're not late. You're right on time and Minister Shacklebolt will surely forgive you for being on time to such a last-minute meeting," she laughed, rolling her eyes as she waved her wand towards a speaker box. "Minister, Percy Weasley from the Public Relations department is here to see you now."
"Send him in," said a deep voice over the speaker. "Have you sent the Memo about the inauguration of the new fountain in the Atrium?"
"It's on its way, Minister."
"Very good. Weasley, step into my office please. Miss Patil, would you be so kind as to advise me when the representatives from the Elf Liberation Front get here?"
Percy nodded politely to Parvati, who was busy sending a Memo on its merry way. He straightened his robes, wiped the few beads of sweat from his brow and took a deep, energizing breath before pushing the large oak doors to the Minister's office.
Kingsley Shacklebolt was facing the door, leaning against his large mahogany desk, arms crossed and a smile on his lips. He glanced at the clock, amused when it promptly rang four times. "Hmm," he said. "Right on time, Weasley. I expected you earlier than this."
"I know, Sir. I'm dreadfully sorry, I-"
"I didn't say that I was disappointed."
"Ah. Well, I would have been early, Minister, but I was detained by my brother's antics," explained Percy, throwing the tall man a significant look and trying to hide a relieved smile.
Kingsley raised an eyebrow. "George? Really?" Percy nodded, shuffling uncomfortably from foot to foot. He hated discussing family matters. "About time, then. Molly must be relieved."
"We all are, to be honest. It's been…"
"Understatement of the century," sighed Percy, accepting the glass of brandy Kingsley handed him. He downed it in a single gulp.
"It came as a shock to all of us," Kingsley said, offering to refill Percy's glass. He declined the second glass with a shake of the head. Kingsley continued, his voice a low rumble. "Victory, if it can be called that… it came at a high price and Fred was-"
"Save the sympathy, Kingsley," snapped Percy, slamming the empty glass against the large desk. He felt his eyes prickle uncomfortably. "Fred was, and is no more. End of story."
Kingsley remained quiet, aware of Percy's attempts to compose himself after his unusual outburst. Sinking down in one of the leather chairs in the Minister's large office, Percy removed his glasses and pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes. He finally took a deep breath and stared at the floor. "Sorry for my outburst, Minister," he said, clearing his throat. "Shall we get down to business?"
The Minister for Magic nodded and stood tall. "I've decided to promote you."
Percy's heart stopped beating for millisecond, before starting again, loudly and erratically. "Uh, what?" he said numbly.
"I have decided to promote you to Assistant to the Head of the International Magical Cooperation Department."
"Ah!" exclaimed Percy, hardly believing that his dream would come true. "Me? This is quite the honour, Minister!"
"Don't thank me just yet," interrupted Kingsley good-naturedly. He paced around the room slowly while explaining. "As you most probably already know, Julius Lambert, the current Head of Department, will be retiring soon."
Percy had been aware of the fact, but he still hadn't thought… Goodness, when Lambert retires, that would make him, Percy Weasley, Head of the department! His face flushed from the thrill. "Sir, I still don't see how this isn't an honour!"
"Ah. I thought word would have gotten out by now. Well, Lambert approached me this morning with reports that the other European wizarding nations are unimpressed with my efforts at bringing order and peace to this war-ravaged land, and that simply won't do."
"I understand perfectly, sir."
"Good. The British Ministry must show it is capable of handling its own welfare."
"As Head of International Cooperation, Lambert has been in charge of 'damage control', as he calls it. However, with his imminent retirement, you are as of now in charge of that project."
"Very well, Minister. When should I get started?"
"About a month ago would have been nice."
"Right away, then. And when should the initial report be ready for?"
"Fri- Friday morning, sir?"
"But- but that's three days from now!"
"Then I suggest you get started straight away."
Percy stared at the Minister in disbelief. "But-"
"Your team has already been picked out for you. Neville Longbottom, Hannah Abbott, Blaise Zabini, your charming sister-in-law Fleur Weasley and Micheal Corner have been assigned to help you as much as they can."
"But- but they're not from the International Cooperation Department! Fleur and Zabini aren't even part of the Ministry, for Merlin's sake-"
"-but they both have unique backgrounds and experience that could benefit the project, don't you think?"
Percy rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I liked you better as an Auror."
"I hear that a lot. Any questions?"
"Do requests count?"
"I'm afraid not."
"Then no, no questions."
"Good! Oh, before I forget. Should you need any more helping hands, send a Memo to Parvati and she'll scrounge someone up. I'll simply ask that they remain temporary helping hands, as we don't want too many people aware of this very important project." He sat down at his desk and conjured parchment and quill. "Your current team is stationed at Level Five, Meeting Room 8. They should be waiting for you already. I'm meeting with E.L.F. to inquire about hiring a house-elf to assist you, as I'm sure your team and yourself will be spending the next few days at the Ministry."
Percy stood shakily as Kingsley patted his shoulder forcefully, making his knees wobble unsteadily. "V-very well, Minister. Initial report to be handed to you on Friday morning."
"To Parvati, if that's alright."
"To Miss Patil, then. Right. I'll… I'll be right on it, sir."
Percy reached for the doorknob. Before turning it and facing a most daunting task, however, he turned to look at Kingsley. "Are you sure you want me on this?"
Kingsley glanced at Percy from the parchment on which he was scribbling some note or other. "Quite."
"Just thought I'd verify."
"Good luck, Weasley."
"Thank you, sir," sighed Percy as he walked out the door, passed Parvati's desk, into the Level One corridor and into a state of stupor. He stepped into the elevator, pressed the Level Five button and watched as the grill closed, taking him to the first step of what promised to be a long trek.
Chapter One written by: ProtegoNox
Edited by: kneazleFTW