The Unwinding Of Percy Weasley
Lame Ducks and Primaries
Percy Weasley awoke with a start, inhaling sharply as his body convulsed. He was frightened and momentarily unsure of where he was, especially as his surroundings were extremely compromised by his blurred vision. Blinking rapidly, he moved his arms to feel out the plush feather mattress below him. His feather mattress. He was in his bedroom at his small London flat, far away from Hogwarts and the night that had since haunted his dreams. Using his right hand he rubbed his puffy eyes, using his left to search for his horn-rimmed glasses on his night stand. After a few unsuccessful attempts at feeling for them, he turned and squinted to find them.
"Oh, that's right," he muttered, flipping his mother's quilt off of him as he rose to his feet. He walked carefully across his room to his large and ancient desk where his glasses sat unharmed and waiting. Percy had stayed up late into the night, poring over and correcting Ministry reports before he finally succumbed to slumber. Noting that his desk candle needed to be replaced, Percy turned to his armoire and picked out his robes for the day.
It had been over a year since that horrific yet victorious battle at Hogwarts, and though Voldermort had finally been slain and his reign had come to an end, the Magical World was still in massive disarray. Buildings and lives needed to be rebuilt, along with the need to completely revamp the collapsed Ministry. It had been rough, but under the guidance of Kingsley Shackelbolt, the new Minister, massive amounts of progress had been made. It was now time for the Ministry to return to its precise order, having weeded out most of the Death Eaters and Dark Lord sympathizers.
Percy, along with his father and other surviving members of the Order, had been right by Kingsley's side, doing whatever needed to be done to the best of their abilities, untitled and perhaps a bit under paid. Recently however, they returned to their specific departments, Percy returning to his old office in the Department of International Magical Cooperation, working diligently with Mr. Grumman, the department head.
Percy had been very excited at this prospect. Still extremely ambitious, though perhaps not as ruthless for position as he once was, he could not wait to secure himself a place in the new order of the Ministry. And perhaps, Percy thought with a grin as he pulled his best work robes, today he might get his chance. It was a well known rumor that Mr. Weiss, in charge of the International Magical Trading Standards Body, had been clamoring to go back into retirement, and Percy was fairly sure he was being seriously considered for the job.
Pride and happiness flooded through his body at the thought. He, Percy Weasley, could be the youngest division head in the Ministry's history. He felt he was a shoe in for the position; after all, it was his report that was the basis for the International Cauldron Standards Act of 1995.
Feeling extremely pleased with himself, Percy thoroughly washed his face in his basin, sleeked back his bed head into a professional style and headed out the door to work. It was a cool and sunny summer morning, and the outdoors seemed bright and welcoming. Percy looked over to the tall clock tower nestled in his neighborhood. As usual, Percy was up and ready much earlier than he needed to be, and he decided that such a momentous day merited a nice breakfast and a pleasant stroll to the Ministry. He paused by his favorite Wizarding bakery and picked up a croissant and white coffee to go, still beaming with the excitement of the day.
With plenty of time to spare, Percy cut through the park. The trees were a bright green after last week's rain and the air was full of the scent of spring flowers. He made sure not to drag his new boots in the gravel path way and averted his eyes as a pair of Muggles came towards him, walking their black Scottie dog. After a few minutes in appreciated solitude, Percy broke through the grove of trees and a sweeping view of London came in to shape across the man made park's lake. The closest in view was a neighborhood of Muggle townhouses right off the lake, perfect for those who work in London to get away from the bustling of the city. In the background, slightly distorted due to the great city's smog, sat a magnificent view of London. Though Percy had walked through this park many times before, he had never looked closely at just how great a sight it really was.
He continued to walk along the path way in a dreamy state, when he was torn from his thoughts by a loud commotion coming from the forest beside him. Ready for an ambush, Percy dipped into his robes to snatch his wand and prepared himself to fend off an attack against him or the Muggles peacefully enjoying the same sights as he. However prepared Percy felt for such an occasion, nothing could have readied him for what he was about to see. Instead of a revengeful Death Eater, three ducks burst through the tree line, quacking merrily with their wings out to steady themselves. Shortly behind them came a young woman, giggling madly as she both chased the birds in front of her and ran from another pair behind her. Percy and the Muggles watched as the girl jumped into the shallow depths with the gaggle and splash about happily. The Muggles on the bank seemed rather amused at her antics, while Percy became rather annoyed. Apart from the girl almost knocking him into the water with her, Percy judged from her flamboyant robes that she was a witch. He always felt that he needed to set a good example in public in front of the Muggles, whether or not they knew him to be a wizard. It was just good manners. Pushing the witch and her ducks out of his mind, Percy proceeded to the bridge leading towards the closest entrance to the Ministry.
Even with the scenic detour and the dumfounding duck incident, Percy was still the first to arrive at his office. Smiling, he sat down in the small room crowded with two large desks, surrounded with filing cabinets and stacks of papers. It was so full that Percy could literally only climb into his chair, and when the door closed there was standing room for only one person. Percy shared this office with another young wizard named Carmen Smith, an obnoxious Hufflepuff in his year he had been all too glad to say good bye to after completing his NEWTs, only to find himself sharing an office and job with him years later.
"Well, not for much longer," Percy smirked, taking out his report from last night and perfecting his finishing touches. It was nearly half an hour before Smith barged into the office, late and cursing as he banged his foot at the corner of his desk.
"Damn!" Carmen yelled, hoping up and down as he tried to rub his foot without losing balance. "Every day I run into that stupid desk! I swear it's not that close any other time except in the morning!"
Percy curled in his lips to keep from smiling. Having grown up the butt of Fred and George's jokes, Percy had learned a thing or two about long running pranks on someone as annoying as Smith. Even as his coworker jumped up and down, Percy cast a nonverbal spell and flicked his wand under the table, moving Carmen's desk back the proper four inches. He sighed, thinking how proud it would have made Fred to know Percy had finally learned to make a joke, but quickly shook that sentiment off. Today was a day for confidence, not mourning. Besides, Fred always hated Carmen Smith, and knew he would never forgive Percy for allowing such a git to one up a Weasley.
"Not really a day to be late, huh Smith?" Percy commented offhandedly as he finished proofreading his ten page report.
"Stuff it, Weasley!" Carmen shot back angrily. "There was something wrong with the Floo chimneys, they were all backed up and sending people to wrong places. I crawled out of three of them before I even made it to the complete other side of the Ministry." Carmen paused to shake soot out of his already ashy hair. "Didn't you notice?"
Percy's smile widened greatly and he replied in the most casual voice he could muster, "Actually, I walked to work today. Such a fine summer we're having so far, don't you think?" Carmen stopped shaking about to stare daggers at his coworker. Before he could come up with a response to Percy's glibness, the door to their office swung open, hitting Smith full on the back and slamming him in to the office wall with a loud thump. Percy stood quickly to his feet and bent over the desk to get a better look. The wizard who had opened the door, who by chance had done so while speaking to a man behind him, turned around quickly to view the scene inside.
"Merlin's beard Smith, what are you doing making all that racket?" Mr. Grumman, the head of their department inquired sternly. Smith composed himself before turning around as best he could, but still his face shaded red and tears of pain flooded his eyes.
"Must have tripped, sir," he responded through gritted teeth.
"Well get your wits about you Smith, I need to see you and Weasley in my office in ten minutes. We have important matters to discuss!" And with that Grumman shut the door loudly, causing the thin walls to shake and the loosen portrait of the Ministry to fall from its unsecure location and crash right on top of Smith's uninjured foot.
"What the hell!" Smith cursed, punching at the air.
"Must just not be your day, Smith," Percy suggested, his face as bright as he had ever remembered it being. Collecting his files off his desk, Percy quickly left the office, leaving Smith behind to make an arse out of himself. What a perfect day!
Percy made his way down to Grumman's office after a quick rearrangement of his files. "This is it," he thought to himself, and opened up the great wood door.
Sure enough, the first person Percy caught sight of was the aging Mr. Weiss, sitting wearily in front of Grumman's desk. Weiss had held the position of head of the International Magical Trading Standards Body for over forty years before retiring. After only a few years off however, he had been pulled back on to his old position as a favor to Grumman. But now as things began to sort themselves back out he urgently wished to return back to his country cottage to laze around aimlessly with his three basset hounds for company.
Also in the room was a wizard who seemed fresh out of Hogwarts. He looked a bit nervous but proud to be in such a place, and sat back at the clerical desk Percy knew all too well from his first days at the Ministry.
A few minutes later a much more composed Smith entered the room followed by Mr. Grumman, who shut the door behind him and took his place behind his massive desk. Percy took his seat and sat as attentively and as professionally as possible and felt he looked great compared to the sulking and slumped Smith, who seemed to be muttering to his side.
"Well gentleman, why don't we just get right to it than?" Mr. Grumman asked after settling in his seat. "Mr. Weiss here, who graciously came back to the Ministry's aid, is quite looking forward to returning to his retirement." Grumman paused as the aged Weiss snorted. Grumman's statement was a bit of an under sell, seeing as Weiss had threatened to stop turning up to work all together if Grumman did not place this on the top of his priorities. Grumman sensed this, but continued with his speech unabashed.
"So, all that is really left to do is to pick and train a replacement." Percy wiggled eagerly in his seat.
"Looking over our staff, our consideration narrowed down to the two of you, as you have been such a great help to this office for the past year." Grumman paused to think of how exactly to phrase what he needed to say next. After a brief while, he turned to Carmen and began.
"Mr. Smith, as ambitious and well trained as you are, you don't seem to have the proper prequalifications for such a high position, seeing as you lack field work."
"Figures," Smith muttered in a voice so low only Percy could hear. Percy however, paid no mind to the man who sat next to him, and focused all his energy and attention to Mr. Grumman, trying to contain his joy as he began to speak to him.
"Mr. Weasley, you seem to have excellent prerequisites, both within this department and the Ministry as a whole, and are a very choice candidate indeed." Percy started to breathe deeply, and he had to regulate each one to ensure he didn't inhale so much for fear of passing out.
"However, qualified as you are, we need a head who, how should I phrase this…" Grumman looked over at Mr. Weiss, who looked as bored and tired as ever.
"Pays more attention to his surroundings?" Weiss offered, to which Grumman nodded in agreement.
Percy's body fell. The memories of all his past scandals at the Ministry came whirling by him. The fact that his first boss Mr. Crouch had been under the Imperious Curse for seven months without him even noticing, his hand in defacing Harry Potter and his own family in denying Voldermort's return, his steadfastness in staying with the Ministry even when it was plainly clear it had been taken over by the Death Eaters (even though he had mainly done so in order to protect his father) all came back to slap him in the face. He felt the blood from his cheeks draining away and it took all his might not to bury his face in his hands.
"So what have you decided on?" Smith asked carefully; hope entering his voice and posture for the first time that morning.
"We decided," Grumman responded slowly, "to put the two of you to a task to see who would be the best for the job, based solely on how well you face up to it."
Both wizards perked up slightly, and focused intently on Grumman.
"Weiss and I have divided up the rest of the chores needed for this department to be fully operational and back on track. This ranges from an assortment of report writing, the handling of confiscated trade material and dealing with a few ex personnel in need of questioning. You have until the next quarterly review at the end of the summer to wrap things up, and then we will reveal Mr. Weiss's replacement. You each will be given an assistant to help you in your tasks and show how developed your management skills are. I will be here for any further assistance you need, and Mr. Weiss will drop in on you both from time to time to guide you on your way. Sound right?"
Both Percy and Carmen nodded in agreement, shocked at how both of their bad luck and decisions seemed to have turned in to at least a fair fighting chance. Seeing how both boys seemed more than willing to take on the challenge, Grumman proceeded.
"Okay, well, you each have a folder containing a list of the details entrusted to you," Grumman handed each candidate a bulging file. "And now all that's left is assign assistants."
Grumman looked at the back corner where the young clerk was determinedly transcribing the meeting with such a quiet aura that Grumman had quite forgotten he was there.
"You there, Grant Ascolese." Grant jumped at being addressed by full name from director, and he looked around nervously as though he had done something wrong.
"Mr. Ascolese, you are to assist Mr. Smith in all his duties, do you hear? And if your team does well, perhaps you can take his job if he rises to the top." Grant looked shocked but it seemed that nothing in life could ever make him happier than such a thing, and he eagerly rushed to Carman's side.
"The same goes to you Ms. Larrabee for helping out young Weasley here…" Grumman stopped as he realized he was addressing a person not present in the room. He looked over to Weiss as though Confunded.
"Where is Ms. Larrabee? I thought we instructed her to be here?" Weiss only had the time to shrug before the door burst open with a hurried witch falling threw.
"So sorry I'm late Mr. Grumman!" she exclaimed, picking herself up. She was a small, olive skinned witch with thick, curly brown hair and large brown eyes. Her fine nose wrinkled while her full lips grinned into an apologetic smile. "I just lost track of time."
Weiss motioned her to straighten out her hair, and as she ran her fingers through she detected a large white feather that had entangled itself into her locks. Percy's mouth dropped as he recognized her as the witch that had almost knocked him into the lake earlier that morning. Indeed, the bottom hems of her robes were still wet and she had done a poor job of clearing the mud off her boots. Noticing the three young wizards staring at her in disbelief, she rounded to Mr. Grumman inquiringly.
"Gee whiz, I feel as though I've missed something," she stated.
"Indeed you have my dear, indeed you have," responded Grumman amusedly. "We have just set these young gentlemen to the task of cleaning up the department for the prize of Mr. Weiss's position, and you have been placed in the charge of young Percy here to assist him in his challenge."
The pretty witch rounded back to the Confunded Percy, and stuck out her hand enthusiastically to her new boss.
"Hi, I'm Audrey, Audrey Larrabee!" she exclaimed brightly. Percy grudgingly shook her hand, meaning to let go of it as quickly as possible. Audrey however kept it tight in her grasp and used her leverage to pull herself closer to him for a better look.
"Gee whiz you look familiar…" she exclaimed, squinting her eyes for a better view.
"I would assume so," he responded back coldly. Over Audrey's still hunched figure Percy could see Carmen's wide set grin as he watched the disaster of a woman further inspect his rival.
"Well, you're a Weasley anyhow," Audrey said, giving up her search of exactly how she knew him. The feeling of dread returned to Percy's core as he realized that the next three months of his life could be the most important stepping stone for his career, and he would have to spend it all with and depend fully on a witch who got her morning jollies off chasing ducks in the park. He looked longingly over Carmen's assistant Grant who had already begun to pack Smith's bag and stood ready to leave when his new boss did. Audrey, on the other hand, continued to shake out her hair, searching for any other fly away debris she may have unknowingly picked up from the park.
"Alright then, now that we are all set, I suppose you should all get to it. Smith and Weasley, I suggest you prepare how you wish to tackle your list first. Assistants, wrap up whatever clerical work you have left on your desk by the end of the day. Starting tomorrow, you are to give your full attention to this project and your new boss. All clear? Excellent."
Grant nodded enthusiastically and opened the door for Carmen as they were dismissed from Grumman's office.
"Brilliant!" Audrey declared, finally finding the rouge feather in her hair and allowing it to drop to the floor before cutting off Percy's rushed attempt to leave the office.
"Not really a day to be you, huh Weasley?" Smith hissed as he and his new perfect assistant walked quickly down the hall. Audrey stood next to him, smiling up to him absentmindedly before swishing back to her office. As he watched her move as though dancing to an unheard melody, Percy felt his aspirations crack and fall around him.