A/N: Love to reviewers
I anticpate this piece will have a companion, much like 'Glitter' and 'A Son of Fortune'. Poor Percy...
Title is a reference to a quote by Adrienne Cecil.
Pyxis Malfoy crept down the corridor, a little nightgown clad spectre. Her bare feet were icy cold but she didn't mind. It was nothing compared to the chill in her heart. In her left hand she was holding a dungbomb. She was to creep into Headmaster Snape's classroom and put it under the lectern. Pyxis was not, by nature, a naughty girl. She'd inherited her mother's propensity for rule following, and her father's healthy sense of self preservation.
But Robert Potter had dared her to do it, and she wanted very much for him to like her. He was tall and slim, with dark melting eyes and long interesting hands, and if they were going to be married the least he could do was fall in love with her. So she'd agreed to help with this prank, despite the enormous amount of trouble she would be if she got caught.
The door to the classroom loomed ahead. Looking left and right, she slowly swung the door open. Nothing. The lectern loomed ahead, as big and dark as Headmaster Snape himself. She made her way forward, feeling like she was going to her gallows. Not for her the thrill of rule breaking. If she was caught she'd be in trouble at home as well as school; Mother would be disappointed and Daddy simply furious. Grandfather and Grandmother would scold her--even Grandpapa would be saddened. A tear slid slowly down her cheek. More than anything, she wanted to run back to the dungeon and safety. But Hermione's blood held true, and she carefully planted the bomb, setting the timer so it would go off during fourth year Dark Arts.
"I wouldn't do that." A voice both bossy and sad came from behind her. Pyxis jumped, expecting any second to feel Headmaster Snape's cold, rough hand on her neck. She didn't--instead, she felt a gust of cold air. Hovering just above her eye level was a pair of sensible oxfords. Tilting back her head, she espied a whispy grey figure in ripped trousers and a blood stained jumper. She clapped a hand to her mouth for a second, and then it came to her. "You're Puling Percy!"
The figure grimaced. "I'm Percy Weasley, yes. Was. I was Percy Weasley."
"What are you doing here?"
"Trying to keep you from making a mistake. What do you think you're doing in here at this time of night?" His tone was authoritative, annoyed. Insubstantial hands found hips and he gave her a look any younger sibling would have recognized. He was Going To Tell unless she was prepared to Stop It Right Now. Pyxis hugged herself and shivered a little harder. The spirit sighed soundlessly and floated a bit closer, instinctively going for his jumper and remembering at almost the same moment that he couldn't touch her.
"He wanted my help."
The ghost jerked. "Potter? Harry Potter's son?"
"Yes, of course. Uncle Harry and Aunt Pansy's."
"And you? Who are your parents?"
Pyxis pulled herself up and gave her head a toss. Extending a hand before she recalled what he was, she said proudly "Pyxis Malfoy. My parents are Draco and Hermione Malfoy."
The spirit's eyes widened. "Hermione? Hermione married Malfoy?"
Pyxis stiffened. "What's wrong with that?"She loved both her parents, and the way this floating boy had said her Daddy's name rubbed her the wrong way. He smiled wryly at this little Malfoy, noticing with a small start that she had Hermione's big, deep eyes. He laughed softly.
"Nothing. I'm just surprised. I suppose it makes a certain sense--they were the smartest in their year."
"Oh, yes. Your Mum was the second best witch I ever knew. If things had only been different..." He trailed off, sighing again, and with an adult flash of insight Antlia sensed this boy, this ghost, had once fancied her Mother.
That seemed wrong to her--only Daddy should fancy Mother. Antlia had heard loads about Hogwarts before she came here. She was very sorry the castle had been destroyed--she wanted to see the place where Mother and Daddy first loved one another. She liked to imagine them at her own age, walking by the lake, exchanging little love tokens like she wished Robert would do with her.
"Who was first?"
"My own Mum. She loved me so, and I never realized until later how it must have hurt her when I..."
"When you what?"
His face worked for a fraction of a second. "When I made a choice that couldn't be taken back. If I could change anything, anything at all, it would be that one instant."
"Where is she now? Your mother?"
"I don't know. Not here. She must have crossed over after...after."
"You died in the Battle?"
"Yes, I did."
"Why are you here, then? Shouldn't you be in Scotland?"
"It's a long story, but I suppose the crux of it would be that Hogwarts—in whatever form—was the only place I was ever really happy." A chair suddenly turned away from the desk and Puling Percy went to sit in it, suddenly laughing hollowly. "I can't anymore. I always forget."
Pyxis sat down, crossing her legs at the ankle. The ghost folded its legs and hovered so they were looking at one another. She found herself feeling rather sorry for this ghost, who reminded her a little of Aulus, with his bossiness and air of assurance. She relaxed a bit. The ghost wasn't moving, seeming to survey some bleak, lightless inner rooms. He put his head in his hands and she suddenly noticed the gaping, bloodless wounds at his neck.
"What happened to you?"
He smiled again."Nothing more than I deserved. Tell me, how is Hermione?"
"She was very sad when Grandmama went to be with the ancestors but she's much better now. She and Daddy are going to go to Paris soon, and Daddy is bringing me back a pair of dancing slippers for our Christmas ball."
The ghost winced. "Anne Marie died?"
Pyxis blinked. "Who? My Grandmama was Bellatrix Lestrange."
The ghost sucked in air. "They gave her to...my God."
"Gave her? No, Grandmama and Grandpapa raised Mother from the time she was small. Her real parents died serving the Supreme Wizard, and since Grandmama and Grandpapa had no children, they took Mother in and she became their little girl. And then when she was old enough, she married Daddy."
The ghost said nothing for a long moment. Then, in a tone of quiet horror "Then you don't know. It's as though we've all been erased, as though we never..."
"Your mother is muggle born. Her parents were muggles."
The little girl jumped up. "Liar! That isn't true! You're lying!"
He shook his head. "It would be better if I were. Poor Hermione, I had no idea."
She stormed toward the door. "Don't go out there, Pyxis. Amycus is coming, and he's in a brown study. He'll lash out at you."
She stopped. "You leave me alone. I don't talk to liars." Despite herself, she sat down and studied him.
"What else do you know?"
"Nothing fit for your ears."
Pyxis batted her eyelashes and made herself look as pitiful as possible. "Oh please, Percy? You must know loads of interesting things."
"Two seconds ago you didn't want to talk to me." But he smiled a little, remembering his own little sister. The girl was still shivering; the Prefect in Percy wanted to get her back to bed as quickly as possible.
" Do you know a gi-a woman called Ginny?"
"My aunt Ginny,you mean?"
"Red hair? Tall and slim?"
She nodded. "Yeah, she's married to Daddy's friend."
"Uncle Greg. My sister is betrothed to their son."
"Son? I have a nephew?"
"His name's Roger. He's all right, I guess." She was too well bred to tell him what she really thought of big, stumbling, cack handed Roger. She tried to think of something nice to say but came up rather short. The ghost smiled, a real smile, and said hopefully "Does she seem happy? My sister?"
"Aunt Ginny? I suppose so. Uncle Greg is nice. He always has a pocket full of sweets, and he breeds the cutest kneazles."
"That rather makes you my niece as well, doesn't it?" The girl smiled a little. She rather liked Percy, for all he was a ghost. She put up a finger and listened. "Is he gone?"
"Amycus? Yes, you're safe. Run along now, no stopping." She obediently made her way to the door and stopped just before the knob turned.
"Oh, and Pyxis? Anyone who'd ask you to do their dirty work isn't worthy of your time. Don't let him talk you into anything you don't feel comfortable with doing."
Pyxis nodded and scooted out. Percy watched her run, nighty clad, down the hall, followed at a safe distance. She made it back to her Common Room without incident. It wasn't much, but Percy felt every small thing helped. Perhaps he would never truly expiate his terrible crime, his terminal betrayal, but drifting back down the corridor he felt for a second the presence of the woman he'd betrayed, the only person who'd ever really loved him for himself. Someday, with hard work and perseverance, he'd be worthy to seek them out and ask her-- them—beg them—to send him hence.
"I hope it's enough, Mum. Bit by bit, I hope it's enough."