A/N: This story follows the first six Harry Potter books to the word, and follows the basic plot of Deathly Hallows. However, it adds a unique, very-Percy twist to the final book.
Percy was sitting in his painfully neat office, furiously scratching away with his quill at the parchment in front of him, composing sentence upon sentence of meaningless bureaucratic blather, all the while trying unsuccessfully to forget about the piece of paper tucked in his top right desk drawer. After several more minutes had ticked themselves away on his
expensive pocket watch, Percy became aware of the fact that his hands were shaking badly, making his report on Standard Ministry Spending and Research (in relation to issues such
as quill sharpness, wand flexibility, and yes, damn you Fred and George, cauldron bottom thickness) near illegible.
"For Merlin's sake!" Percy threw down his quill with all his might, sweeping the report off his desk. As he yanked open the top right drawer, Percy found that he couldn't bring himself to care about the ink stains splattered across his desk. Carefully, he removed the paper, laying it out in front of him, feeling his eyes burn at the sight of the familiar immaculate printing and elegant gold trim. Percy swallowed.
The invitation. 'You are invited to the wedding of William Arthur Weasley and Fleur Isabelle Delacour…' He sighed, remembering how happy he had been two weeks ago when Errol had flew (well, crashed would probably be a more apt word) into his flat bearing that invitation. It had been a moment of hope, a confirmation that his eldest brother and childhood hero didn't hate his guts like he'd feared and actually wanted him at his wedding… and then Percy had realized that his mum had probably sent it unbeknownst to Bill. Otherwise, it would have come with Ares, his brother's owl. I'm the last person Bill wants to come to his wedding, Percy had thought miserably.
His own brother was getting married, and nobody but his bloody mother wanted him there! It just wasn't fair! Percy slammed his fist down, and then dropped his head on his arms. His family hated him, and for what? His own pig-headed, prideful nature, that's what! Why had he been so stupid, and then so unable to admit that he was wrong? Percy pounded his head on the desk over and over, groaning loudly. And now he couldn't go back! They'd just slam the door in his face. One moment, his pompous and foolish nature had taken over and he had spewed horrible hateful things. One mistake, and now the whole world hated him. One mistake—
"This was a pretty big mistake, Perce."
Percy shot up so fast that he nearly fell out of his chair, gripping the edge of his desk to keep himself steady. He looked up at the woman leaning on the now-open door of his office, arms folded, face obscured by shadows. "I—I—I'm sorry?" He gasped, convinced that the woman had been somehow reading his mind. Legilimency! He thought.
"It's okay. Apology accepted. " the woman moved forward, into the light, a tight smile spreading across her face. Percy relaxed immediately when he recognized Lynn Willow, his best friend—hell, his only friend. She was wearing a pair of Healer scrubs, obviously just off her shift at St. Mungo's. Some of his alarm returned, however, when he saw that her top was stained with blood.
"Oh—hello Lynn." Percy ran a hand through his bright red hair. "Um… what are you talking about?" He asked, dreading the answer. Merlin, he prayed, feeling slightly sick, please let that blood not be my fault.
"You, ah, messed up, drawing up the Ministry budget for Mungo's? Allotted two hundred and fifty galleons to the hospital, instead of two hundred and fifty thousand, like you were supposed to." Lynn sat herself down on his couch, watching him carefully. Percy felt the color momentarily drain from his face, to be abruptly replaced by a radish-red blush.
"I did that? Oh, Merlin, Lynn, I'm so sorry! How could I be so stupid?" Percy vigorously rubbed his face, accidently knocking his glasses off in the process. "You corrected it, didn't you?" He practically begged. "Got the money back, and everything? Wait, what's with the blood?"
"I did, Percy, it's okay, we sorted it out, the blood was just from a routine case, but…" She sighed, and as Percy slipped his glasses back on and adjusted them, he saw that her brilliant green eyes were staring fixedly at him. "It's not like you to make careless mistakes like that." Lynn said quietly, a frown tugging on the corners of her lips. "I'm worried about you."
Percy shook his head, avoiding her piercing gaze. "Don't be, I'm fine. Really!" He added, as Lynn snorted. "I'm just a little over worked, is all, with Scrimgeour dumping all his bureaucratic stuff on me. I can catch up over the weekend; it'll be fine. Everything's… fine." Percy finished lamely, suddenly becoming very interested in the small hairs on his hands.
"Oh, really?" Lynn scoffed. "Then what's this?" She made a grab for the invitation, which was still sitting on his desk. Percy tried to intercept her, but was too slow, his hand whizzing past hers. Lynn stepped back, eyes flickering back and forth as she read the text. Her face hardened slightly. "Percy…are you going to this?" She asked, waving the invitation.
"I…ah… I might," Percy lied.
"I'm not an idiot, Perce, the wedding's today! It started an hour ago! Why aren't you there?" Lynn threw the invitation at him, eyes blazing with anger.
"Because nobody wants me there, that's why!" Percy shot back, nails digging into the underside of his desk.
"I think the whole point of an invitation is that you're, you know, invited. Am I wrong?"
"My mum just sent that, nobody else wants to see my sorry face, and can you honestly blame them?" Percy leapt to his feet and began to pace furiously behind his desk. He could feel all of his self-hatred rising to the surface, and words began to tumble out of his mouth of their own accord. "I'm a stupid, pompous sycophant! I care about nobody but myself, I'm the living embodiment of selfishness! For Merlin's sake, if I had the choice, I'd never talk to myself again! I'm a total basta—"
His rant was abruptly cut off when Lynn slapped him across the face with all the force she could muster. Percy stood there stunned, hand to his cheek, until Lynn shoved him back in his chair, her eyes narrowed. "I'd never let anyone else talk about you like that to my face, what makes you think you're allowed?" she hissed, and Percy blinked.
Lynn backed away with a heavy sigh, running a hand through her long, pale brown hair. "Look, I'm just worried about you all right? I don't mean to be rude, but, Perce, you look like hell. You're thinner than I've ever seen you, you've got these huge, dark circles under your eyes—" Percy opened his mouth to protest, but Lynn cut him off. "I know you think that your glasses cover them up, but they don't. At least not from me. And now you're talking about working over the weekend! For God's sake! You're going to kill yourself if you keep going on like this!"
"You're acting like my mum," Percy mumbled, twisting his hands together.
Lynn let out an unexpected laugh and Percy looked up at the sound, feeling an inexplicable surge of hope. "I don't think that your mum would slap you, Perce." Suddenly, she leaned over his desk, putting her face rather close to his. Percy's heart began to race. "And I can think of a couple other things I might do that your mother would never." For a bizarre (and, Percy was ashamed to admit, not entirely unpleasant) second, Percy thought Lynn was going to kiss him. But she soon pulled back, retreating across the office. "I have to go back to work," she said quickly, looking embarrassed. "Just…see you later, okay?" He nodded and, with a slight smile, Lynn walked out the door.
It was nearly eleven at night when Percy glanced at his watch through eyes blurry with exhaustion. Deciding that he was too tired to get any more real work done tonight, Percy gathered up his things, stuffed them in his briefcase and hurried out of his office. As he walked down the hall, thoughts of his brother, new sister-in-law and the wedding he'd missed took over his mind. Percy was so preoccupied, in fact, that he was halfway to the lift before he even noticed the commotion that had broken out around him. People were rushing around him, carrying stacks of papers, talking loudly while the sheer amount of memos zooming around above them obscured the ceiling lamps so that the hallway was illuminated by patches of dim, shifting light. A man he didn't recognize gave Percy a strange look. "You still here, boy?" he said, and before Percy could respond he pushed away into the crowd.
"Mr. Weasley!" Percy whirled around as the hand grabbed his shoulder, coming face to face with the office secretary, Macy Turns.
"Y-yes, Macy? What's going on?" he asked, feeling panic rise in his chest.
Her chocolate brown eyes widened to almost comical proportions. "Didn't you hear? Scrimgeour's out!"
"Scrimgeour's not the Minister anymore! He's, he's been replaced!" Percy's mouth dropped open in surprise, and then he swung around, heading back towards the Minister's office, Macy scampering after him.
"Was he fired?" He demanded urgently. "That makes no sense… I heard no one alleging incompetence!"
"They, they say he retired, but…" But you'd have to be a total fool to believe that. Percy swallowed hard, the harsh reality of what was happening striking him in the face. The Death Eaters are taking over. He stopped suddenly, the unidentified man's words coming back to him. His hand shot up, running through his bright red hair. The hair that marked him as a member of a family of blood traitors. Am I still safe here?
"Who is replacing him, Macy? Who?"
The young woman gazed up at him fearfully. "Umbridge… she said…she said…"
"Out with it, girl!" Percy snapped, surprising himself and terrifying Macy further.
"Pius Thicknesse!" Macy shrieked.
"Did someone say my name?" The two spun around to face none other than the apparent new Minister of Magic. Thicknesse towered over the both of them (an impressive accomplishment, given Percy's six feet), clad in imposing gold and black robes, eyes glinting almost maliciously out from under an overhanging forehead that would put a Neanderthal to shame. Percy could feel Macy trembling next to him.
"I just heard about the management change, sir." Percy responded stiffly, trying to keep his heartbeat in check. "Congratulations."
Thicknesse nodded approvingly, apparently satisfied with Percy's choice of words. He turned to Macy. "Excuse us, will you?" As Macy shot off down the hall, Thicknesse put his arm around Percy's shoulders, guiding him in the opposite direction. Percy suppressed a shiver. Could this day get any worse? He thought miserably, and then a stab of fear shot through his chest. For all I know he's taking me to his office to kill me! For a split second, Percy considered throwing off the arm on his shoulder and running for the lift. But he couldn't muster the nerve. Maybe there's a way I can keep my job. It's well known I'm estranged from my family…
As they entered the office, Thicknesse gestured to a chair and Percy settled himself in it with all the dignity and calmness he could muster. The new Minister sat opposite him, behind a well-polished desk. "Now Percy," he began, dark eyes trained on the younger man. "Your whole family is at your brother's wedding, correct?" Percy blinked confused. Why is he asking me that? He quickly ran through all the possible responses in his head, and how they would reflect on his character in the eyes of the Death Eater controlled Ministry. He'd want me to be far removed from a family of blood traitors, right?
"Yes, sir, I believe that's true," he responded, as unemotionally as possible. And that was quite unemotionally.
"And yet you've been working here since seven in the morning." It wasn't really a question, but somehow Percy felt that he needed to answer.
"Well, sir, I've been estranged from the Weasley family as a whole for quite some time. We, ah, have some very differing opinions on certain issues." He ducked his head before lying: "I don't see myself ever going back to them."
"Well then." A smile spread across Thicknesse's face. "I'm happy to inform you that I've decided to keep you on, Percy. You're obviously an excellent man for the job."
"Thank you, sir. I accept, of course." Percy could barely keep the pride out of his voice. What's wrong with you? he thought. He's a Death Eater! Stop reveling in the praise of a Death Eater!
"Very well, Percy. You may go home now, but I expect you bright and early tomorrow. As you've seen, a management change in a time like this is quite chaotic."
"Of course sir. Good night." Percy turned to leave.
"And Percy? I feel that I should inform you that, here at the Ministry, we take loyalty very seriously. I will be watching you, and if I find that anything you've told me just now is untrue, the consequences will be very severe. Do you understand?"
"Of course, sir." Percy replied in a whisper, finding that his voice was incapable of being any louder. At Thicknesse's nod of dismissal, he rushed out of the Minister's office, closing the door behind him, and practically sprinted back to his own office, carefully avoiding the curious gazes of all his coworkers.
It was unbelievably late (or early?) and Lynn should have been in bed. But instead she was hurrying through the halls of the Ministry of Magic, exhausted and just off what could only be described as a super mega quadruple shift at St. Mungo's. Reaching the door to Percy's office, she threw it open, and was incredibly irritated, but not thoroughly surprised, to see Percy was still at his desk.
"Percy! You are physically capable of sleep, right, you prat?" She was surprised when Percy didn't snap back at her. Instead, he continued flipping the file on his desk open and closed.
"Did you hear?" he said tonelessly, making Lynn wince and become twice as worried. "Thicknesse is the new Minister." Lynn sighed.
"I did hear. Frankly, I'm surprised you're still working so close to the top, blood traitor family, and all."
"They think I'm benign." Percy whispered, with more bitterness than she thought a person to express. " That I'm not a threat. They think that I'll just blindly follow them."
Lynn took a deep breath, walked over to Percy, sat on his desk and leaned in close to him. "So what are you going to do?" she asked softly, hearing the tremor in her own voice.
Percy looked up at her, the determination in his dark blue eyes making her breath abruptly abandon her. It was the kind of look that moves mountains. "I'm going to prove them wrong." He replied calmly.
A slow smile spread across Lynn's face. She knew Percy would come through. Through all his denial and self-doubt she knew it. "I know what you can do," she whispered. "There's an American woman, she heads a small resistance group in Britain and surrounding countries. She's looking for a spy in the Ministry to help her smuggle muggle-borns out of the country." Lynn glanced over her shoulder, drawing a shaky breath before continuing. "Her name is Audrey. Audrey White."
Please tell me what you think.