A/N: Originally written in Dec. 2004. Missing moment from OotP.
Percy Ignatius Weasley looked at peace when he was sleeping. It was the only time he ever seemed to be fully relaxed. The muscles in his face were not tight at all as they were during the day, and his jaw was not clenched. His shocking red hair was not combed thoroughly, but rather, it was spread out across the white pillows in disarray. His eyelids were closed, hiding the normally hardened blue orbs.
His girlfriend, Penelope Clearwater, stood at the door of his bedroom and sighed. What on earth had happened to him, she found herself thinking, not for the first time. He had once been so free and happy and good. Now it seemed as if he was only like that when he was sleeping.
Penelope slowly walked over to Percy's bedroom window and peered out. It was nearly pitch black outside, with only the streetlamps lit. Soon, however, those would automatically go out. Rain was coming down with fervor but there was no sign on lightning or even thunder. The only way you could tell that there was any type of storm going on was by the tall trees swaying violently from side to side.
She closed the curtains and walked closer to Percy. She was only inches away from his bedside when she noticed something glinting up at her from the floor. Bending down, Penelope's fingers closed around Percy's horn rimmed glasses. They were broken in half, she saw. Tears nearly sprung to her eyes at the thought. She set the glasses on his nightstand, next to his alarm clock. It was 11:15.
An armchair sat in the corner of the room, next to a floor lamp. It was the chair Percy sat in when he wasn't quite ready to turn in for the night. Penelope's chest heaved. She didn't want to leave this room yet. To be honest, she didn't want to leave Percy yet. It only seemed natural to sit down in the chair.
However, she couldn't bring herself to look at Percy's sleeping form again, so her eyes drifted down to her lap. Her fingers played with the material of the dress robes she had worn that evening. The evening was still fresh in her mind. Percy humiliating her in front of his coworkers...herself demanding an explanation to his recent behavior...
Penelope closed her eyes tightly, trying to erase the images from her mind. The hateful things they had said to each other. Instead, she focused on the happier times. Back when Percy was still, naturally, a git, but a loveable one. Back when he was happy.
Almost - she was nearly there, she almost had it - her fingers were only centimeters away from it...
Penelope had lurched forward and then slammed into the bookshelf. Before she could even think, she slipped from the stool she was standing on and fell backwards. Right into the bookshelf behind her. The impact shook the rackety thing, and a great deal of the books toppled down onto her. One particularly fat volume fell on top of her head. She wasn't the least surprised when stars danced before her eyes.
"Oh bollocks," she whimpered softly, reaching up to touch her head. Yep, she thought, as she ran her fingers over the all ready forming lump, she was going to wake up with a major headache tomorrow morning.
Penelope was just about ready to stand up when a voice rang out in the library. "Who's there?" it demanded. Penelope froze. She was done for. She was going to get caught being out of bed after hours, and oh no, points were going to be deducted...
"Who is there?" said the voice again - a boy's voice, she noted - now clearly agitated.
Penelope let out a tiny sigh and buried her head in her hands. "Over here," she mumbled through her fingers, defeated.
Footsteps raced toward her. The voice said, "Lumos", illuminating the entire section of the library they were in. "Well, who are you? Take your fingers away from your face," said the boy.
Penelope lifted her head and removed her fingers, and gaped slightly at the boy standing in front of her. He was tall and lanky, with a brilliantly freckled face and bright, red hair. A prefect's badge was gleaming on the chest of his Hogwarts robes, and she nearly let out a groan. Cripes, she really was going to get into trouble.
"I can explain," she said at once. "You see, I was - "
"What are you doing out of bed, in the library, after hours?" he said, looking down at her.
Penelope became curiously aware that she was only in her pajamas and a blush spread across her cheeks. "I was just about to tell you," she said, hoping he didn't pick up on how dreadfully embarrassed she was. The boy's eyebrows raised slightly, as if he wasn't used to being talked back to. "I was here for a bit of late night reading. Obviously. I mean, I am in the library, aren't I? Though it seems as if my plans came tumbling down right on top of me."
She could smack herself at the pun. He was going to think she was being sarcastic and even more points would be taken away. Goodness, what would her housemates say? But to her surprise, the boy let out a small chuckle. He quickly recovered, and said, "Nothing gives a Hogwarts student permission to roam the halls at night."
She sighed. "I know," she mumbled. No longer able to look him in the eye, Penelope glanced down at the books still lying all over her. She started to push them away from her.
"Oh, are you all right?" the boy asked worriedly, as if he had just only noticed she was buried underneath books.
"Peachy. Honestly. A bit bruised, perhaps..." She stood up, but as soon as she did so, a wave of nausea waved over her. Her long legs failed her and she dizzily collapsed into the prefect's arms. He steadied her and helped her to walk over to a library table.
"Here, sit down."
"But I want to clean up the books - "
"No," he insisted, hands on her shoulders to keep her seated in the chair. "I'll get the books. You just sit."
Penelope was taken by his calm voice, and even more so when he dashed to where the books lie scattered all over the floor. He picked them up and put them back on the top shelf.
"Thanks," she told him when he was finished.
"Not at all," he said, smiling at her. He had a rather nice smile, she thought. It lit up his eyes. Rather nice eyes, too, come to think about it. Nice and blue. She grinned back at him. It was only when he cleared his throat that she realized it was somewhat of a goofy smile. My, she just couldn't stop embarrassing herself, could she?
"Your name is?" he prompted.
"Penelope Clearwater. I'm in fourth year."
"Percy Weasley. I'm in fifth. And a prefect." He held out his right hand. Penelope shook it, then pulled away when her cheeks began to warm. She didn't catch on to the fact that his cheeks were bright red as well.
"You're going to take points from me, aren't you?" she asked.
Percy Weasley smiled at her again. She came to the conclusion that he was just going to stop smiling if it made her stomach flutter every time. "No, I am not. I should, though. But considering that I was also out of bed after hours..."
"Really?" she said.
He pointed his wand and said, "Accio!" A book came whizzing round the corner and into his outstretched hand.
"So I wasn't the only one doing a bit of late night reading, eh?" said Penelope.
He let out a chuckle. "Apparently not."
Penelope's mouth quirked into a small smile, remembering. He had been so easy going back then. In the past year or so, he had turned into a mess. If the present day Percy had caught her in the library bookshelves, she doubted he would have let her leave the library without taking fifty points. He was such a bloody git now.
Her fingers glided once again over the smooth material of her dress robes. She and Percy had attended a Christmas Ball at the Ministry of Magic and he had utterly humiliated her.
The evening had started out well. He had even brought her a corsage. Once at the Ball, however, he left her side to be with his esteemed colleagues. He ignored her for nearly an hour before she had confronted him about it.
"Ah, well, thanks for listening, Penny."
"You're welcome, Ludo. But I really must find my - " Penelope paused. " - Percy." She excused herself from Ludo Bagman's side and looked over the room for Percy. He was standing in the corner, laughing heartily at something one of his coworkers had said. Penelope fought the urge to roll her eyes. She doubted whatever had been said had been funny.
When she reached the group, she realized that it had been Percy himself who had been cracking the jokes. Penelope laughed politely and interrupted with, "Percy, could I have a word?"
Percy stopped laughing immediately and looked her hard in the eyes. "Not now, Penelope, please," he whispered.
"I'm sure they don't mind," she whispered back, though she knew the other men could hear every word.
"Penelope!" he snapped. She blinked, startled. He lowered his voice, for the men had stopped talking amongst themselves. "Why don't you go talk with the other wives?"
She felt as if she had been slapped in the face. "How dare you," she hissed. Percy looked confused. "First of all, I am not your wife. I am your girlfriend! Secondly, I did not come to this stupid party - "
" - Yes, stupid! And I did not come here to be ignored. I support you, Percy, but I am tired of being ignored."
Percy puffed out his chest in a dignified manner. "We will talk about this later, Penelope."
"Yes, and that's final. I think you've carried on enough for one night, don't you think?" The glare he gave her then was so hard Penelope almost shivered. Her hands trembled slightly with anger. "Do we understand each other?"
Penelope opened her mouth to reply, but before she could get a word out, he had all ready walked back to his colleagues.
Penelope trained her eyes on the pattern of Percy's bedroom walls. They were absolutely bare. But she'd rather look at the boring walls than at Percy. She had been so bloody humiliated at that stupid Ball. He hadn't even danced with her. Not that she had particularly cared to dance with him after what he had said to her.
Penelope thought his treatment of her lately had been rather poor payment for the four years of her life that she had dedicated to him. As much as she didn't care to admit it, Percy had turned into a stranger right before her very eyes and she hadn't noticed.
A thunderclap sounded outside.
It was 11:30.
The sound of her boyfriend's excited voice immediately caught her attention. Penelope turned around and saw him standing on the other side of the ice cream shop.
They walked rather quickly to each other and Penelope threw her arms around her neck, hugging him tightly. She had missed him quite a lot. She'd been counting down the days to seeing him again on her calendar and now he was actually here, flesh and blood in front of her.
"Ahem," said a voice. Percy and Penelope broke apart, blushing hard. Florean Fortescue was looking at them, the corners of his lips ready to quirk into a smile. "May I help you?"
"Oh, yes!" she and Percy responded at the same time. They exchanged a nervous look. Penelope felt her hands shake slightly as he asked Florean Fortescue for a peanut butter scoop of ice cream. Percy ordered the same.
Once they had gotten their orders, Percy held out his large, freckled hand. Penelope looked down at it and grasped it in her own, letting out a happy noise. They settled down at a table outdoors and sat down next to each other, hands still linked.
"So how was your summer?" Percy asked, licking his ice cream cone.
Penelope felt her heart beating furiously against her ribcage as extremely naughty thoughts sprang to her mind. She cleared her throat and looked down at her own ice cream cone. "Er...well, it was sort of boring, you know. I worked alongside my mum and dad at their jobs. Oh! I made my very own recipe."
Percy looked interested. "Really?"
"It's peanut brittle ice cream!" she said excitedly, licking her ice cream eagerly. "But it tastes so much better than this. It's actual peanut brittle bits mixed in with vanilla ice cream. Percy, it's wicked tasty. You'll have to try some eventually."
"Definitely," he agreed, licking his ice cream again.
There was a bit of a silence between them. Next moment, Percy squeezed Penelope's hand gently and leaned over. His lips touched her cheek briefly before he pulled away, the tips of his ears bright red.
Penelope could tell he felt a bit awkward, so she did the first thing that came to mind. She leaned over and kissed him on the face as well, allowing her lips to linger longer on his cheek. She pulled back, her own ear tips red.
Penelope let out a soft chuckle at the remembrance of the beginning stages of their relationship. They'd been shy and nervous back then, and rightfully so. Both of them didn't do anything in half measures. They knew that if they were going to have a relationship, it was going to be serious. They took it slowly, very slowly. So slowly, in fact, that they didn't actually have a blown out snogging session until the Christmas of that year.
Penelope had brought Percy some of her famous ice cream that day and he had loved it. He didn't much like it anymore.
"Percy, I am speaking to you!"
He responded by slamming the door in her face. Penelope shut her eyes tightly, trying to compose herself. When she opened them, she looked to the heavens and took a couple of deep breaths.
The smell of rain was in the air.
She withdrew her wand from her cloak and pointed it at the door. "Alohomora!" she said. The door swung open and she stepped inside Percy's flat. It was pitch black. "Lumos!" The tip of her wand glowed.
She could make out Percy in the kitchen, undoing the clasp of his cloak. "Percy," she whispered, her voice cracking. "Look at me."
Percy turned around slowly. His face was shadowed by the light. "I do not want you in this flat, Penelope. I would appreciate it if you would leave."
"No," she said coldly. "We need to talk about this, Percy. I am so sick of being treated the way I have been lately. I canceled Christmas with my parents to be with you, hoping that perhaps the holiday would straighten things out between us." Her breath caught in her throat, and she blinked back tears. "All you've done is act like an asshole."
"Watch your language," Percy said wearily, looking tired.
"No," she said firmly. "It's how I feel! I refuse to hold it in any longer, Percy! You expect me to lead this life where I'm seen and not heard, and maybe that's how all of your friends' girlfriends are, but I won't do it."
Percy sighed and pushed his glasses on his nose. "You're right. What I just said was just wrong. I am sorry. And I can see that you are tired, upset, and rambling. Why don't you rest and we can talk about this tomorrow." He reached forward to touch her shoulder in what he obviously thought was a comforting manner, but Penelope flinched.
"Have you listened to a word I've been saying?!"
"Penny - "
"No, do not call me Penny!" She couldn't believe he'd try to draw the attention away from the conversation by calling her by the nickname he'd given her.
"Penelope, I really don't have time for this right now..."
"You never have any time," she said scathingly, shoving past him. She walked to the freezer and took out the bucket of vanilla ice cream, then threw it onto the counter.
For the next couple of seconds she fumbled around Percy's kitchen, slamming cupboard drawers. "Of course you don't have peanut brittle! Why would you?" she muttered sarcastically, just loud enough for Percy to hear.
"Penelope - "
"I don't want to hear it!" she said, waving her spoon around for emphasis. "Why the hell should I listen to you when you don't return the favor?
Percy was silent. Penelope watched him out of the corner of her eye. He loosened the collar of his robes and kicked off his shoes. Then, he looked at her sadly, picked up the Daily Prophet, and sat down in a chair to read.
Penelope had to smile wryly at the thought. She had finally stood up to Percy tonight, and hadn't allowed him to get a word in. There was a strange satisfaction in knowing that he had received a taste of his own medicine. But there was also a deep feeling of regret and guilt gnawing at the back of her mind. She was sure that tomorrow, on Christmas day, things would be different. And not for the better.
Penelope didn't like the feeling at all. Why should she feel guilty? Was she honestly going to take his abuse for the rest of her life? What was scary was that she found herself thinking, yes, she would have. If she hadn't stood up to Percy tonight, she probably wouldn't have. Penelope loved Percy with every fibre of her soul, and though she was strong, it took a lot for her to stand up to people. Percy, to add to this, was not a regular person.
He was Percy. The man who had once genuinely cared for her and was willing to listen to what she had to say. The man who had cared for his family so much that he'd talk about them endlessly, even if outwardly he didn't express his feelings. The man who had been hardworking, but knew when enough was enough. The man who used to kiss her as if she was a fragile butterfly. The man who had given her his heart. The man who had somehow managed to steal hers. Percy.
A lightning bolt lit up the sky.
It was 11:45.
"Ooh, Percy, look!" Penelope pecked him on the lips as he looked up to see mistletoe above them.
"I hope that wasn't my only Christmas present," he said, grinning.
"And I hope that that statement wasn't meant to be taken the way I'm thinking it was," Penelope said, smiling back.
Percy blushed bright red. "It wasn't! Honest."
"I know," she said, reaching out to pick up a present from the pile in front of him. "Hmmm, I wonder what this is?"
Percy rolled his eyes. "I bet you anything it's the Weasley jumper."
Penelope raised her eyebrows. "A Weasley jumper?"
Percy took the package from her. "How could you not know about the Weasley jumper? You're supposed to know these things."
"Oh, hush," she muttered.
She watched as Percy undid the string on the package and then opened it. He was always very meticulous about opening presents. He didn't just rip into the present as most people did. He gently opened the present as if glass was inside and actually folded the wrapping paper into a square. Penelope found it very annoying, yet oddly amusing.
Eventually he pulled out a yellow jumper and smiled fondly. "Each of us have a different color," he boasted.
"Well, put it on then," said Penelope. Percy obeyed, pulling the jumper over his pajamas. "It suits you," she told him honestly. The yellow blended nicely against his hair and made his eyes sparkle.
"You'll get one, too," he said proudly.
Percy turned magenta. "Well, that is...if we ever marry, I suppose."
Now it was Penelope's turn to change color. She was surprised that Percy would insinuate marriage so young - it was such a serious commitment! - but inwardly she was secretly pleased. She could definitely see herself as Percy Weasley's wife, sitting next to him on Christmas, wearing a Weasley jumper. What color would hers be, she wondered? Lilac? Soft brown?
"Penny," said Percy, sounding awkward. "I didn't mean to -"
"Don't apologize, Percy," said Penelope, placing a finger over his lips. "I think I'd very much like to have a Weasley jumper someday."
She smiled. "Of course."
Penelope shut her eyelids tightly, willing the tears brimming behind them not to fall. She didn't want to cry over the fact that she would never get a Weasley jumper. She didn't want to cry over Percy anymore.
But she couldn't help herself.
After she had finished her ice cream, Penelope went into the sitting room. Percy was still reading in his armchair, but she pretended he wasn't there and made her way over to the Christmas tree.
She'd put up all the Christmas decorations all by herself the day before. Percy had been working, naturally. Now she wanted to see how good her hard work looked. After plugging the cord into an outlet, the lights on the Christmas tree came on, illuminating the room.
"What do you think, Percy?" she asked hesitantly. He didn't reply so she tried again. "Percy, I asked you what you think."
"I was under the impression you did not want to have a civilized conversation with me," he answered tightly.
"You got the wrong impression, then. That's all I've ever wanted to do. But lately, you are incapable of listening to anyone other than yourself."
"That's uncalled for, Penelope." His cheeks were red with anger.
"No it's not!" she said. "You have something shoved so far up your arse that you don't even decorate for Christmas anymore! You see this, Percy?" She reached underneath the Christmas tree and dangled a package into his face. "Inevitably, this is the famous Weasley jumper. I bet you don't even want it, do you?"
"No, I do not," he said coldly. "They are not my family anymore."
"Am I your family anymore?" she said quickly.
"You heard me."
"Why wouldn't you be?"
Penelope felt her eyes brim with tears. "I don't understand you anymore, Percy." Her voice cracked, "Send it back."
She glared at him and threw the packaged Weasley jumper at his chest. "I said send it back. Don't make them think that you still care when you obviously don't."
Not looking at him, she ran to the guest bedroom, tripping slightly over her own feet, and slammed the door.
Penelope wiped away her tears and stood up from the chair. Trembling, she walked over to Percy and kissed him softly on the head. "Good-bye Percy," she whispered, touching a lock of his red hair for the last time.
With that, she left Percy Weasley's flat and stepped out into the raging thunderstorm, her heart aching.
It was Christmas day.
A/N: This fic was a request from a friend. The requirements were -
Place: Percy's new apartment
Time of Day: Evening
Ages: Percy - 19, Penny - 18
Word Limit: 1500
3 Must Haves: Penelope must mention Molly sending Percy a Weasley sweater, ice cream, clock
Also, in my head, Percy and Penelope totally get back together after DH.