Percy knocked on the door of flat 9 in 158 Pembroke Road tentatively, wiping his hands on his jeans and straightening his glasses. Then, he looked around the plain hallway, waiting for Audrey to open the door.
He couldn't decide whether he was nervous or excited. And he couldn't justify either emotion.
Finally, after about 5 minutes - typical clumsy muggle, of course - Percy heard the locks on the other side of the door start to click and a muffled voice drifted through the wooden door, repeating something that Percy couldn't make out. He watched the door with raised eyebrows, 'Mr. Perfect' shirt in hand, before it swung open inwards, revealing someone Percy didn't expect.
For on the other side of the door of number 9 was not Audrey Green, but a man. A man with wet, dirty blonde hair plastered to his head, mainly his forehead as it swept down in a stupidly long fringe, in Percy's opinion. One eyebrow was arched above murky, pale green eyes and his lips were pursed on a clean-shaven chin. He was dressed in nothing but a towel from the waist down and droplets of water still clung to him - he'd obviously just got out of the shower.
Percy quickly averted his eyes, already uncomfortable. "Oh."
So, Audrey had a man in her flat. Probably her boyfriend. No big deal. Percy had no right to care who Audrey did or didn't let into her flat. He barely knew her, after all.
So why was he so uncomfortable?
The man leaned against the doorframe. "Yes?"
Percy coughed. "I... uh... yesterday... Audrey..."
"Audrey's at work."
"Okay, I'll erm, just come back later then..."
"Can I take a message, Percy?"
Percy's eyes shot back towards the man, whose pout had now twisted into a smirk and whose eyes were glittering with something Percy didn't want to know. His eyebrows shot up to his hairline. "Wh-what?"
"You are Percy, aren't you?" The man's eyebrows furrowed a little. Percy just nodded.
"Oh good. Well, I'll have my shirt back then, thank you." The blonde man grinned, as Percy gave himself a mental slap.
Of course. This was Eric.
"Oh," Percy sighed with something that felt uncannily like relief, grabbing the t-shirt from under his arm, "You must be Eric."
Eric hummed, eyeing the shirt. "Yeah," he agreed, "Audrey's flatmate. She told me all about the tall, albiet slightly ginger, stranger who rescued her yesterday."
Percy didn't know whether to be insulted or flattered. "Well... rescued? I hardly rescued-"
"Shh," Eric dismissed with a wave of his hand, "don't ruin it. Now..." He scanned Percy up and down, and seemed to be taking in every inch. This made Percy even more uncomfortable, and had to avert his eyes again, feeling a darker pink blush rise in his cheeks. In an attempt to diffuse the situation, he blindly held out the t-shirt. When Eric didn't take it, Percy slid his eyes to face the man. He was looking at the shirt in Percy's hand, frowning. Percy pushed it towards him, raising his eyebrows. Eric looked up to look at Percy's face.
"This never happened."
Percy frowned. "Excuse me?"
Eric's eyes grew wider, more insistent. "This. Never. Happened. Okay?" He pushed the shirt away. "Come back later. After four. Bye, stranger."
And he shut the door in Percy's face.
Still feeling confused, Percy eventually arrived in his office, succeeding in the task of talking to as little people as possible on his way in. He sat down behind his desk and sighed, running his hand through his curly red hair.
He pulled the first sheet of paper off the pile and looked at it blankly, trying to process the last half an hour.
Eric had obviously known who he was and why he was there, there was no genius to that. But why - why had he turned Percy away? And then told him to come back?
Percy didn't think of himself as particularly stupid - in fact, he had always believed his intelligence to be above average. Superior to the rest of his family, anyway. But he couldn't figure out what the hell was going through this odd, blonde man's head.
"This never happened."
So, what - he was just supposed to pretend he'd never met Eric?
And he had to go back later. After four.
Percy looked up to see the lanky form of his youngest brother in the doorway. He managed a tight-lipped smile and a curt nod.
"Ron." He looked back to the desk.
"Ooh," Ron sighed, inviting himself in, "What's eating you?"
Percy raised his head to look at his brother through his glasses. "Nothing."
Ron laughed. "Oh, okay. Sure."
"What do you want, Ron?"
"Yeouch." Ron winced, "Alright. Just thought you might have some information about a new case we've got-"
"Actually, Ron, I'm really quite busy. Can we do this another time?" Percy kept his eyes firmly on his paperwork, hoping his brother would just walk out.
Ron raised both eyebrows. "Fine. Why? Thinking about your new girlfriend?"
Percy looked up so fast his glasses momentarily jumped off his nose. Ron grinned. Percy felt himself blushing.
"I do not have a new girlfriend."
Ron waved his hand dismissively. "Whatever. That's not what George says."
Percy narrowed his eyes. "Then George is a liar. You know as well as I do Ron, he's got a mind of a three year old."
"Generally, though, three year olds tend not to lie about stuff."
The younger man hummed in response. Percy shuffled his papers and then turned back to his brother.
New girlfriend, indeed. Audrey could hardly be counted as a friend, so far. He'd met her once. Once. She was just a woman who'd lent him a shirt after covering his own in coffee. She was nobody, nothing. Just some girl.
Some girl who Percy hadn't stopped thinking about since he'd met her in that street.
He felt like a teenager again, letting his emotions take over like this. Emotions which he had no right to be having, emotions that he wasn't even sure were really there. It was all wrong, so completely wrong, Percy's sensible side was telling him - she was clumsy, he was neat. She was a muggle, he was a wizard. They'd only known each other a day, if knowing was the right word. He knew nothing about her except she was a student who shared a flat with an eccentric man who didn't mind to greet strangers topless.
And yet, it still felt right to Percy.
He checked his watch as he climbed the stairs of 158 Pembroke Road for the second time that day. 4.30. Hopefully this would be a more suitable time for Eric.
Percy shook his head as he knocked on the door, the same butterflies he'd felt that morning returning. He mentally admonished himself.
This silliness had to stop.
Quicker than he'd expected, the door to flat 9 swung open, and for the second time that day, the wrong person stood in the doorframe.
Percy's expression fell to exasperation when he saw Eric standing in the doorway, now, thankfully, fully clothed. Both his t-shirt and jeans looked far too tight to be comfortable and his stupid long hair was now dry and styled to an extent which most people wouldn't bother to go to. The blonde man grinned at Percy's face and quickly turned to face over his shoulder, yelling "Audrey! It's for you!". Winking at the very confused Percy in the hallway, Eric swaggered back inside his flat.
He was still in view as he spoke to another person who Percy couldn't see. "There's a tall, ginger stranger waiting in the hallway for you."
Percy's hand automatically shot to his hair. Why was Eric so obsessed with it? He couldn't see anything wrong with it, really - the colour, anyway. He could live without the near-afro curls.
Quickly, another person came into the doorway. And for the first time that day, Percy smiled.
Audrey grinned, the freckles on her nose crinkling. She was dressed in jeans and a shirt, her hair tied back in a tiny ponytail so only her fringe framed her face. Her pale eyes sparkled behind her glasses, and Percy momentarily forgot how to speak.
"Erm- hi, Audrey." He laughed nervously. "I just, erm - your t-shirt, I brought it back." He smiled again, a little helplessly, crossing his fingers that he'd regain the ability to form coherent sentences some time soon.
"Oh," she said, looking down at the t-shirt. "Thanks."
He held it out and she took it. She stared down at it in her hands and they stood in awkward silence.
Unhelpfully, the only word Percy's brain supplied him with was "Soo..."
Audrey smiled, her expression directed loosley at the floor. "Well then," she said quietly, "I guess... that's it."
Percy nodded, his brain still being ridiculously unhelpful. "Yeah."
Audrey smiled straight at him now. "I'll... I'll see you around then, Percy." If Percy hadn't known better, he'd say she looked a little sad.
As they stood in awkward silence again, Percy's eye was caught by something - no, someone appearing behind Audrey. Eric stood a little way behind her, still in Percy's view, looking straight at him and his expression reading 'what the hell are you doing?'. His eyes were wide and insistent, his hands on his hips, one eyebrow arched. Percy had to stop his brow furrowing so that Audrey didn't notice.
Then, Eric began to mouth something Percy couldn't make out.
Ask her out.
Once again, his brain took far too long to register this, and before he knew it, Audrey was shutting the door with a quiet "Bye, Percy. It was nice meeting you."
He stuck his arm out instinctivley to stop it, marginally missing getting it trapped in the door. Before he knew it, he was standing actually in Audrey's flat, and she was looking at him with a mix of confusion and slight fear in her eyes. Percy laughed nervously. Eric covered his own giggle up with a cough as he returned to the sofa.
Audrey was still looking at Percy almost suspiciously. "Excuse me?"
Percy smiled in what he hoped wasn't a creepy way. "It's just..." He couldn't seem to get the words out. He didn't know what he was doing.
Was he asking her out? Did he want to ask her out?
Sure, she was pretty. But he didn't know her. Maybe he could get to know her? Did he want that?
Percy always was too indecisive for his own good. And he was running out of time.
"Yes?" Audrey asked insistently. Percy smiled nervously.
"It's just... I was wondering... if maybe..."
He took a deep breath, resigning himself to the fact he was actually going to do this. The next sentence, however, all came out as one word.
Audrey smiled. "What?"
Percy ran a hand through his hair. "I was wondering if you'd... you know, like to get a cup of coffee some time. With me. Seeing as I spilt yours yesterday."
He took a double take. Was Audrey blushing?
"Sure," she said quietly, looking at the floor, a definite pink flush rising in her cheeks, "i'd like that."
Percy looked up, feeling rather pleased with himself. But, as seemed to be the case lately, Eric was standing there behind Audrey once more, still looking dissatisfied. He tapped his watch. Percy tried not to scowl at the man.
"Erm.. tomorrow, then?"
Eric slapped his hand to his face silently. Audrey's expression fell. "Oh," she said, "it's just, I've got a class tomorrow-"
"How about now then?"
The suggestion had come from nowhere. Percy had never been so forward in his life.
Eric looked pleased, though. He held both thumbs up to Percy. Percy grinned.
Audrey was grinning too. "Oh!" she said, "Erm- yeah! Let me... wait there - no, come in. Let me just get my coat."
And with the flash of a smile, she turned away, stopping dead at the sight of Eric behind her.
"What are you doing there?"
Eric grinned from ear-to-ear. "Just taking an interest."
Audrey sighed and walked past him to what Percy presumed was her bedroom, as Eric walked back to his seat. Percy gingerly stepped in and closed the door over behind him.
"Blimey," came a voice from the sofa as Percy shut the door, "I thought you were never going to get the message."
Percy tried to think of a clever retort, but Eric didn't even look at him, instead concentrating on the television screen in front of him, still grinning like a maniac.