All rights and privileges to Harry Potter are copyrighted trademarks and property of J. K. Rowling, Warner Brothers, and all peoples associated. And all rights and other stuff to The Lioness Quartet and Wild Magic are copyrighted trademarks and property of Tamora Pierce and Random House. The characters of these fictions are used WITHOUT permission for the entertainment purposes only. This work of fiction is not meant for sale or profit. As if anyone would actually pay money for this thoughtless drivel. And even if they like it, it's right here and money is not required. So there! Bottom line: I don't own them I just like to play God with them. Like an ant walking back and forth across my feet for what seems like miles upon miles. Or a bug with a magnifying glass as it slowly burns into nothingness. *Ahem* Yes, I don't own them. Never have. Never will. *Sigh*

Pairings: Percy/Penny, eventually Percy/Marcus, Cedric/Oliver
Contents: Angst, Slash, POV, Lemon (later on), Fluffy (sorta), Het
Spoilers: Yup. Books 2 and up.
Summary: Percy isn't the 'freak' he and everyone else claim him to be. That, I think, is the worse summary I've ever come up with.
Status: Incomplete
A/N: In here Oliver is a friend and Percy can be normal around him, or so is my skewed view. And I liked the idea of Percy as a Wild Mage too much that I butchered it. Ruthlessly. Also, this is unbeta-ed. And I didn't do Percy's personality justice, but I'm getting a handle on it.

*~* indicates time change
~*~ indicates scene change

WARNING: This contains HET!! As in a boy kissing a girl! If that squicks you, please DON'T read this! There WILL be SLASH later on, but until then there is just HET. A guy and a girl TOGETHER. In THAT way! Consider yourself warned!

Superstars and Cannonballs

The war had ended over sixteen months ago and he finally had a room all to his own. He gazed up at the painting in his bedroom. His oversized glasses slipped off his button nose; behind those glasses wide, strangely colored eyes blinked to take in the woman in the portrait; behind those eyes, the six-year-old mind reeled to comprehend her status.

She smiled down at him, her long, fiery locks wisped around her oval face and full armor. He noted that she was short, but not bulky: small. Therefore she couldn't be a relative; they were all tall. But what caught his eye were her eyes; they were violet.

"'T's yer name?' he asked shyly.

"Alanna," she introduced in a friendly tone. "What do they call you, little one?"

"'M not li'l," he protested with a small pout. "'M name's Percy."

"It's nice of you to introduce yourself," she bowed politely. "I've been watching you and your brothers for some time now."

"I watch 'em too," he said importantly, scrunching his nose to keep his glasses from falling off his face.

"I've seen you watch them," she nodded with a smile. "You work yourself into a tizzy trying to protect those twins."

"Somebody needs ta p'otect 'em!" he replied stubbornly.

"Yes, but who will protect them when it's you that needs the protecting?" She squatted down to look him in the eye.

"You 'ave p'etty eyes," he stated, awed, forgetting about the unsettling predicament she purposed.

"Thank you, most people don't like them because they're different," her smile faltered at the end of her confession.

"I like 'em!" he enthused.

"You have beautiful eyes too."

He scrunched his nose again, this time in distaste. "I don' like 'em."

"Why don't you like them?"

"Everybody pokes fun at 'em," he responded grudgingly, looking away from her.

"You don't have to believe everything that everybody tells you," she explained. "Some people are just there to frustrate you."

"Percy?!" His mother's voice sounded shrilly through the Burrow.

"F'ust'ate?"

"Percy! Dinner!"

"Make you mad."

"Ok, thanks, 'Lanna. See you later." He scurried off to eat with his family.

*~*

"It's not fair," I sigh, collapsing onto my very solid, unyielding, dorm bed. It's horribly uncharacteristic of me, but no one's here, so my reputation won't tarnish.

"What's not fair?" I bolt upright. Who?

"Oh, hi, Oliver. How long have you been here?"

"Just got here," he smiles, waltzing over to his bed – rock, both synonyms in our school. "So what's not fair?" He plops down onto his rock.

We've been good mates since third year when he claimed I was a manic depressant, and he refused to leave me alone for an instant. Well, in order to prove him wrong, I was forced to converse with him… and that led to an odd sort of bond.

So, to put it briefly, I bare my soul to him, hypothetically, and he does so to me. Hypothetically. That boy bares his soul to the entire school. Although, I sincerely doubt the entire school knows the deepest darkest of his secrets, however, neither do I. He just knows mine.

It has never struck me as odd, just Oliver. Something in the way he carries himself, presents himself; his personality I guess is what I'm aiming for.

That is what possesses me to respond heavy-heartedly. "Everything."

"Really now?" Oliver shoots up an eyebrow. I taught him that. I also taught myself when I was five. I was the only one in my family able to do that until Bill figured it out and Charlie caught on. It then dominoed down: Fred, George, Ron, and, finally, Ginny. Nothing special anymore, but it was for a year. "I never knew you were going to give birth to a mountain troll… Who's the lucky father?"

His odd sense of humor, however, he taught himself.

"Marcus," I reply flippantly.

"Hmm… I always knew he was a troll."

It takes much effort on my part to keep from laughing. "That he is, that he is."

"So, Perce, what's not fair?" Persistent bugger, isn't he?

"You're not easily swayed, are you?" I turn my attention to the flagstone ceiling.

"I don't know about that… I've known the twins for quite some time." I can hear his smirk.

Fred. George. Oliver. Together. I frown. "That's a rather unpleasant mental image."

"Not like that, pervert!" Oliver shouts, reaching out to lightly thump me on the head. I grin to myself; I can still rile him up, I haven't lost my touch over the summer.

"Now. What isn't fair?" he presses.

"You know that you're only this focused on quidditch and wheedling information out of me," I point out, running a hand through my hair.

"And you should know after six years," he counters, stubbornly.

"'Should' being the operative word."

"You're impossible, Weasley!" He only uses my surname when he gets overly frustrated and doesn't know what else to say.

"You're not the first to say so." And won't be the last.

"So, what's not fair?"

"Oliver!" I nearly shout in exasperation; he has such a one-track mind.

"Percy!" Oliver imitates.

"My eyes." That will give him something to think about.

Oliver blinks before intelligently asking "Huh?" And there will be no thinking for Oliver – it requires too much thought.

"You asked what wasn't fair. I answered 'my eyes'," I explain.

"Your eyes," he repeats incredulously.

"My eyes." I turn my attention from the ceiling to Oliver.

"Care to expand?" No. I don't.

"Not particularly."

"But you will anyway!" Oliver prompts firmly.

"No."

"Yes."

"No."

"Yes." This is going nowhere.

"Fine," I relent. An argument with Oliver is more tedious than getting him to pay attention in Divination class. Once we went on for an hour before he forgot what we were disagreeing about.

"Yes!" Oliver enthuses, getting comfortable on his bed as if preparing for a long detailed story; he'll be disappointed.

"Marcus was being daft and Snape defended him," I state in a bored tone.

Oliver waits for more, but I won't supply it.

"Well?" he asks after a few moments of silence.

"Well what?"

"Well, what did Flint do and how did Snape defend him?"

"Marcus was attacking my eyes, verbally, and Snape kept me after class to 'clear things up for me'."

"Your eyes got you in trouble?" Oliver blurts out, not believing a word I had spewed forth. "Your eyes are f - "

"Oliver," I interject forcibly. "When was the last time you noticed my eye color?"

Oliver mumbles something incoherent and flushes a bit.

I brush it off. "My eyes are violet." They truly are, ever since I was small, ever since the war.

"They're not, Percy. They're brown," Oliver defends softly.

"Oliver, look into my eyes." I pause; that didn't sound right. I glare at Oliver as he smothers a snigger. "Seriously, look at my eyes."

He shoves off his bed and kneels before me, gazing up at my eyes. My eyes are brown, yet they had strands of violet weaving through the iris from black to white. They weren't hazel, though the brown looks like it should belong in hazel eyes, but there was no green, just blue and violet.

"They're brown," Oliver concludes in a whisper, mouth scant inches from mine. "Definitely brown – sepia, but brown." Amazing, Oliver knows that sepia is a shade of brown, more blackish than brown, but neutral nonetheless. And he is way too close for comfort; I've never been one for closeness.

"Oliver?" I question, my uneasiness evident in my voice, at least to me.

"Hmm?" he hums, moving closer.

"Oliv - " The door slams open loudly and Oliver jerks away guiltily.

"Excuse us!" George grins wickedly.

"But we wanted to talk to Percy," Fred continues. I could kiss them for interrupting. Figuratively.

"Yet, you're both obviously busy," George's grin grows impossibly wide.

"So we'll be leaving now!" Fred concludes. They always speak that way; it's quite unsettling, but I think after the twelve years they've been able to speak, I've finally gotten used to it.

"No, no!" Oliver denies quickly. "We're not busy, go ahead. I'll – I'll be on my way!" He zooms past the twins.

"Congratulations, Percy ol' boy, you've succeeded in doing something over half the female population dreams of!" Fred claps me on the back, causing me to fight for breath, trying not to cough and sputter.

Devil spawn.

I won't bother to tell them the truth. To the twins, truth is denial and twists very easily around their fingers.

"What do you two need?" I ask carefully. Trusting the twins unconditionally can lead to the downfall of entire civilizations.

"We heard about Potions," Fred's grin now mirrors George's.

"And we came to congratulate you," George picks up.

"We knew you'd get in trouble sometime, 'tis a Weasley tradition," Fred winks. It really is a tradition in our family. Bill, even though he was the head boy, broke more than his fair share of rules. Charlie did too. The twins have lost countless points from our house, and Ron has, in his first year, broken many rules to help Harry fight You-Know-Who. Ginny, however, has just started her first year, and things look promising for the continuation of that tradition. I am the only different one, and the twins are determined to corrupt me.

"Why must you constantly talk in phrases?" I sigh. My encounter with Snape is the last thing I would like to talk about with them.

"Because it pisses people off to no end," George nods solemnly.

"Dully noted," I dismiss. "Now, what do you want? And why must you constantly bug me about Oliver? For the last - " I pause, this won't be the last time; the twins have a long track record. "Ok, it probably won't be the last time: there is nothing between Oliver and me."

"Sure, Perce, whatever you say," Fred drawls.

"We want to know the juicy details of your class," George beams.

"So spill!"

"Oh, please," I roll my eyes in annoyance. "Snape was just being a Slytherin."

"Did Percy just neglect to say - " I don't like where this is headed.

"Yes, he didn't say 'Professor'," Fred crows triumphantly.

"I have work to do, so if you two don't mind - " I point at the door.

They grin at me with sparkling eyes, but, surprisingly head for the door.

"I'm sure you do."

"We'll tell Oliver to come back." That's why they complied.

"We need to speak to him anyway…"

The door closes behind them.

I sigh and rub my eyes under my glasses.

*~*

"Why is you dressed like ah boy?" He looked up at the portrait of his only friend.

"Because it's more comfortable that girl clothes," she replied slowly, then smiled.

"I t'ied on mum's clothes once. They we'en't comfy, though. It made the twins laugh."

"I bet it would," she commented dryly.

"What do you mean?" he asked, drawing his eyebrows together.

"Your brothers like to laugh, Mithros knows," she defended.

"Mith'os?"

"The god of war."

"Oh."

"Hey, Alanna? Do you think that I'll get into school like Bill and Cha'lie?" he asked suddenly.

"What brought that on?"

"I wanna go to school like 'em. I wanna learn magic. I don' wanna be a Squib," he declared.

"I'm sure you'll get in," she smiled fondly.

*~*

I settle down at the Gryffindor table for breakfast between Oliver and Lee.

"So Weasley," Lee starts. He receives five yeses. "Percy," he clarifies, "the twins tell me that you were snogging Oliver the other day." Knowing them, I should have known this was bound to come up.

"And you believed them?" I snap.

"No," Lee smirks impishly. "I just wanted to see you blush." George, who is sitting next to Lee, slaps his hand victoriously.

"It's nothing, Percy," Oliver reminds me, glowing a radiant shade of red.

Fireworks of color burst in my mind.

"Mail's here," I comment absentmindedly, changing the subject entirely.

"How do you kn - " Fred, sitting across from Lee, is cut off as a newspaper lands on his head. "Oh."

I smile inwardly.

Hermes lands dignifiedly in front of me with a soft thud as her talons scrape the wooden table and presents a letter to me.

"Hello, Hermes. Thank you." I offer her a link of sausage, bones not included.

I open the letter cautiously; one never knows what might explode, sitting with the twins and Lee. It doesn't explode, though. Well, that is always a plus.

Curious, I pull the letter all the way out.

Hufflepuff locker room after the match. Be there.

Well, that cannot be any more perplexing. The match is between Slytherin and Ravenclaw, so it has nothing to do with Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, or myself.

"Getting love letters, I see." Fred leans over the table to peer at the brief note.

I fold the paper quickly, muttering a charm.

George manages to swipe the note eventually, reads it and frowns.

"What is it, George?" Lee asks eagerly.

"It's a note from a girl," he wrinkles his nose. "And it's so nauseatingly sweet it'll rot your teeth through your fingertips."

"It can't be," Fred argues.

"Yeah, it can," George counters.

As the two squabble, I pet Hermes' feathers lightly as she gulps down my sausages.

"Who sent this?" I whisper, my face in the feathers of her crown.

There.

I look across the Hall to where she indicated.

"Oh? Really…"

I remove my face from her feathers. Hermes gives me a measured stare before wolfing down my last link and flying off.

*~*

"Bill tells me that you're a knight, Alanna, is that true?" He no longer had to look up at the picture; he could now look at the Lioness straight on. He did, however, have to look up to catch her eye.

"Yes, that's true," she nodded, knowing exactly where this conversation was headed.

"Aren't only boys supposed to be knights?" There it was.

"Yes," she replied shortly, but not tersely.

"Then – why?"

"Sometimes people have to hide who they truly are in order to get what they want out of life."

*~*

It is dark even though it is the middle of the day. Not midnight dark, more of a dawn-dark, like one had turned the lights off in a room with only one window. Which, essentially, this is. That is why I love the owlrey. I also enjoy the attention I receive from the owls. It's more than I ever get at home, not that my family is to blame. Every so often, I con mice off of Mrs. Norris and present them to the raptors. And best of all, I am away from human contact, yet not alone.

"I thought I'd find you here." The voice shatters the owl-filled silence.

"Hi Oliver," I resign. "Go say hello if you would like to."

Oliver opens his mouth to make a retort when a ghost flies at him.

The barn owl I sent him lands delicately on his shoulder, flexing her talons carefully.

"He's - " Oliver questions as the owl nibbles at his ear.

"She," I correct. "She says that she likes to watch you fly."

"Really? I finally get a fan and she has feathers," he groans melodramatically.

"Come here," I ask her. I feel awful for forgetting her name.

Oliver takes a step forward before the owl takes flight.

"You really need to make it clear just whom you want to listen to you," he remarks dryly.

"You never listen to me anyway, so I didn't think there would be any confusion," I smile slightly as the owl lands on my bare wrist.

"I'm wounded," Oliver feigns hurt.

"Actually, I am," I wince as a talon slices into my wrist as she takes to the pews.

"Oh, are you alright?" he asks, concerned.

I bring the wound to my mouth and lick it clean.

Vaguely I hear Oliver's gag of disgust. "That's gross!" He approaches me slowly.

He's going to strike me. I'm wounded and he's going to attack me.

"Let's get you to Madam Pomfrey…"

He keeps coming toward me.

I narrow my eyes and growl a warning low in my throat.

"Whoa!" Oliver raises his hands where I can see them. A harmless gesture.

"S – Sorry, Ol, I lost myself…" I cast my strange eyes down, focusing them on my sliced wrist and give it another lick for good measure.

"Noticed," he says wryly, keeping his eyes glued to me.

Oh, I'd forgotten: he came here for something.

"W-What can I do you for?" I shake my head; that came out wrong. "That came out wrong: what can I do for you?"

"That note this morning wasn't from Penny, was it?" Right to the point.

"No." I run my unwounded hand through my hair, surprised at myself for being direct.

"The twins are bound to break that charm you put on it," Oliver points out.

"No, they won't."

He raises both eyebrows as if to say that I'm underestimating to twins. But I'm not.

"I switched the notes," I smile weakly.

"So, spill," Oliver demands excitedly.

"I'm going to meet someone." End of story.

Oliver waits impatiently for me to continue. I don't.

"Do I have to drag everything out of you?" he questions irritably. "Who?"

"Someone."

"Who?"

"My secret." This is getting monotonous.

"You can't keep secrets from your best friend! Who?"

"Someone." Can't he just figure out that I don't want to 'spill'?

"Who?" I need something to distract him.

"Oliver, isn't it time for the match?" I ask innocently.

"You can't distract me that easily, Weasley, I'm onto you," he says menacingly.

A quaffle whizzes past the window. Oliver blinks and I smile fully.

"Damn you for being right." He stalks from the owlrey. "I've got your number, Weasley, I've got it in for you!"

"You're not the only one," I mutter to both the owls and myself.

~*~

The locker room is dark when I arrive, but my hearing and acute sight tells me I'm not the first to arrive. And it is quite possible to have poor vision and still have keen eyesight. There are some with perfect vision that couldn't see a snitch if it was perched on their nose. Where as some with glasses can see a snitch on the opposite side of the pitch. It all depends on the person.

"Hullo, Marcus, what do you want?" My annoyance is evident in my voice; I wanted to meet with Penny to study after the match. I need to see him. "Lumos."

Marcus emerges from the gloom, the light from my wand casting strange shadows on his body.

"How did you know?" he asks, obviously thrown off guard.

"It doesn't matter, what do you want?" I want this over; this guy gives off weird vibes.

"What I want?" he responds vaguely.

"Yes, why you called me here." I refuse to let him play mind games.

Marcus growls at the restatement of his question, which is actually my original question. "Look, you pansy Gryffindor, I - "

"Then tell me why you summoned me and I'll go," I cut Marcus off boldly. I refuse to anger; that would play right into his hands.

"Why you - "

"Good bye, Marcus." I turn to leave, taking my light with me.

"Weasley, wait!" he calls after me.

"What?"

"About your sister…" If he hurt her in anyway, prefect or not, I'll hex him.

I'm about to yell before I catch myself. Instead I demand "What about my sister?!"

"She's in danger; I thought you should know…" He's hesitant. If he were lying it would be smooth and sure; if he were telling the truth it would be smooth and sure. But Ginny is in trouble if he's correct. And he knows he has my attention.

"First off: you're being tentative. You've never been so uncertain in all the time I've despised you." Strong words. I've never even come close to saying anything this harsh even to the twins. "Second: since when do you know and/or care about my sister being in possible danger?" My eyes are blazing in the artificial light.

"I just - I don't fucking know!" he admits.

Peachy. "You haven't given me any base to believe you." When in doubt, analyze.

"I know I didn't – still don't – but you're going to have to take my word on this!" he implores. Marcus and pleading never mixed. Ever. The word of a Slytherin. An oxymoron.

"Are you begging me?" That is a frightening notion.

"Yes!" he hisses.

I regard him suspiciously. "What are you playing at?"

"Nothing!" I refuse to believe that for a moment.

"Marcus?" I frown. "Are you doing me a favor?"

"No – Yes, yes I am," he finally decides.

"What are you after?" I ask warily.

"Nothing." I don't believe that either.

"It's not suiting for you to do something and ask for nothing in return." The message is still there, just subtler: he's a Slytherin through and through.

"It's – nothing. Your sister is in danger, but that's it!"

Marcus takes off.

"Wonderful," I sigh. I'm in his debt, if he is right about Ginny. Just what I need.

~*~

"Where the hell were you?" Oliver screeches. "Penny and I were looking for you, but you completely disappeared!"

"Out," is my clipped response. Oliver is the last person I want to face after my disturbing encounter with Marcus. No, actually, Penny holds that place.

"I noticed."

"You would." So very Oliver.

"What are you implying?"

I'm forced to stifle my grin.

"Well?" he presses.

"It's nothing, Oliver," I shake my head.

"Nothing never got you this shook up," he retorts plaintively. Since when has he studied me that closely?

"Wheedle," I snort.

"You know it," he grins.

"Marcus."

"Troll boy?! What did he do to you?! I'll pound his face in!" He demonstrates by bashing his fists together.

"Oliver, calm down," I sooth. "He didn't do anything." Yet.

"Then what did he do?" he asks as evenly as he can at the time. Now would be the best time to throw in something he would never suspect.

"Spilt his guts," I state simply.

"What?!" he sputters.

"Spilt his - "

"I heard you, but – what?!" Oliver repeats in sheer disbelief.

"I don't think you want me to go into the torrid details," I cast offhandedly. I had originally intended to say 'sordid', but torrid sounds more revolting.

Oliver pulls a face.

"Glad you approve."

*~*

"I scared mum today, 'Lanna," he confided. "I didn't know what I was doing. I swore that to her, that I didn't mean it! But she didn't believe me!"

"What did you do?" she asked, brushing her bronzed hair out of her amethyst eyes.

"I brought a dragon home…" he flushed in embarrassment.

She raised a delicate eyebrow.

"Mum says I brought it home, but I was just talking to it! It followed me! But mum wouldn't believe me!" he continued woefully.

"You were talking to a dragon?" she asked, intrigued.

"Yeah. Charlie thought it was ace, but mum had cats!" he giggled.

"What were you talking to the dragon about?"

"About what it's like being a dragon," he nodded.

"So what is it like being a dragon?"

"Very green."

"Green?"

"That's what it felt like in my mind… He also said that he saw in green," he explained.

"Goddess," she exclaimed softly.

*~*

I have been watching Marcus for the week since we met, curious as to what would drive him to confront a Gryffindor, let alone the Gryffindor prefect. Marcus hasn't changed his behavior in the least. Not that I had expected him to. He still picks on anyone and everyone smaller than him (the majority of the school). He still sneers in all of his classes. He still plays dirty during quidditch scrimmages. Nothing betrays that he ran scared when talking to the Gryffindor prefect or that he had given me classified information.

"I don't understand it," I admit in Potions.

"What? The Great Percy Weasley hath admitted to not understanding something?" Oliver sounds amused. He looks up from his cauldron after throwing three scarab wings into the mix.

"Marcus is the same as before." My ears turn red, realizing how stupid I sound.

"What do you expect? Him to run through the grounds picking daisies and wearing them in his hair?" Only Oliver could create that image.

"No, although, that would be interesting… No, I just want to understand what makes him tick."

"I'm going to forget I heard that – Pass the snake's blood."

I hand him the phial of brick liquid, refraining from sticking out my tongue. "I'm just interested in the human mind, you know, psychology."

"Just psycho and he's not human," Oliver taunts.

"Seriously, I do want to know what he was alluding to," I mutter.

"The world may never know," he smiles, pouring the blood into the mix.

"Will you stop your stupid Muggle sayings, Wood, and get back to work?" Snape barks. Of course Oliver is not even remotely Muggle, but I'm not about to argue; I have no idea what Snape is talking about either.

"Yes'ir!" Oliver mock-salutes, a goofy grin on his face.

"Don't push me into taking points," he warns, glaring.

"Yes, sir," I clamp my hand over Oliver's mouth. "He promises he won't do it again."

Snape eyes me skeptically, but leaves us.

"Oliver, can't you control your tongue?" I reprimand.

"Yes'ir!" he mocks again.

"Oliver!"

~*~

At dinner Oliver, the twins, and Lee are talking about their upcoming match against Ravenclaw, leaving me out of the loop. So I go to sit with my sister.

"Hello, Ginny," I greet politely.

"Percy," she mutters bitterly.

"Are you feeling ok? You look pale," I ask, concerned, remembering Marcus' words.

"I'm fine," she snaps back.

"Ginny?!" Ron turns into the conversation, appalled.

"What?" she growls back.

"Are you mad, woman?!" he shouts. "Harry, help me on this one."

Harry shakes his head. "Don't get me involved in family squabbles."

"Harry!" he whines. This can lead to no good.

"Ron, it's fine," I interject. "I'm sure that Ginny is just about - "

"If she snaps again, I won't help her with him!" Ron declares, jabbing Harry in the ribs. He can be rather dense at times.

"RON!" Ginny screeches, mortified.

"What?" Ron looks confused as Ginny stomps past him.

I sigh, get up, and leave to attempt to undo Ron's damage.

~*~

I finally catch up with Ginny right before she slams the door to her dorm. I insert my hand in the door before it can close and lock, pulling it out and nursing it once the door bounces back.

"Ginny?" I say, somewhat strained as I shake the pain from my hand.

"P-Percy?" Ginny whirls around to see me in the doorway.

"Yeah," I whisper. "Ginny, come here please."

She frowns at me in incomprehension.

"I'm not allowed in the girls' dormitory," I blush, unable to fend it off.

"Oh!" she realizes, blushing as well, before joining me down in the abandoned common room.

"Ginny, what's wrong?" I prod gently.

"I think I'm going mad," she whispers sadly.

"Mad?" I repeat, alarmed.

"I'm acting so mean to everybody and I don't know why," she sobs. No, anything but tears.

"It's ok, lovely," I wrap my arms around her small frame. She needs to eat more, not that I should talk.

"No, it's not!" she wails hysterically into my robes. "It's not and it never will be!"

"Shh, Gin, shh." I rub reassuring circles on her back as she bawls. She could use something to hold, not to be held by. After all, who would be caught dead in the arms of Percy Weasley?

Pounce helps.

"Come here," I whisper.

She's a pretty thing, the cat that volunteers, caramel in color and ruby in mind, just what Ginny needs.

"Percy!" she gasps.

"Her name's Pounce," I whisper into Ginny's hair. "She'll keep you company tonight."

"Thank you," she responds thickly.

"Ginny? People will be returning from dinner soon, so if you would like some more solitude, I suggest that you head up to your room – or" I add hastily after seeing her crestfallen expression, "I could get you a nice bath in the prefects' bathroom?"

"No, thanks, Perce, I- I'll head up to bed." She pushes off me, scoops up Pounce, and slowly treks up stairs.

"This isn't good," I mutter to myself, raking the hair out of my eyes.

"Weasley?"

!!!!

Marcus.

"How did you get in here? What do you want? What did you hear?" I demand sharply. Apparently rules mean nothing. And neither does privacy.

"Don't you get right to the point," he sneers.

Oliver steps out of the shadows, pushing at Marcus. "Caught this git spying on you." Does anyone believe in private conversations anymore?

"Oliver! You heard too - " I snap my mouth shut before the admission can slip. "What is it, Marcus?"

"It's too late, isn't it?" Marcus answers vaguely, eyes shifting to the stairs.

"Too late for what?" I don't like guessing games.

"To save your sister," he replies lazily.

Oliver growls.

"To save her from what?" I grit. Nobody hurts my sister.

"The Riddle…" Marcus turns on his heel and runs out of the common room.

"Perce?" Oliver prods gently.

"Not now, Oliver, not now," I grind out before storming after Marcus.

*~*

"Alanna! Alanna! Guess what!" He ran into his room waving a piece of paper wildly. "I got in! I did it, Alanna!"

"I'm proud of you." Her smile shone brightly.

"I thought I was going to be a Squib," he sighed in relief. "You do magic too, right?" He turned the conversation to her to carry.

"Yes, I possess the Gift," she confirmed.

"The Gift?"

"My version of magic… It's more like a version of magic, not as universal as your magic. Everyone has their own version of the Gift, and then there are those with no Gift at all, like a 'Muggle' or a Squib'. For example, I have the Gift: the power to heal people."

"Can you heal animals?"

"No, that's for people with Wild Magic."

"Wild Magic?"

"An affiliation with animals; a common bonding magic."

"Do you think I've got that type of magic?" he asked wistfully.

"We'll just have to see, won't we?" she grinned knowingly.

*~*

I glower at the empty hallway. No Marcus.

"Marcus!" I growl under my breath. "Where did you go?"

Something furry and small runs over my foot. I jump impulsively, kicking an unfortunate rat across the hall.

"Oh!" I exclaim, "I'm sorry!"

The rat wrinkles its' – his – nose at me before continuing on his way.

"Marcus, where are you?"

"I didn't know you wanted me that bad?" he whispers huskily in my ear.

I shiver despite myself, but manage to compose myself.

"Well, you seemed so determined to find me, now that you have you don't know what to say?" he taunts.

"Don't mock me," I grit. "Or I'll - "

"Or you'll what? Take points from my house, prefect?" Marcus scoffs.

Knowing I won't be able to keep my tongue in check if I open my mouth, I opt for glaring.

"I guess I'm on my way…" You're not getting out of this that easily.

"Marcus, wait. Tell me about my sister."

"What about her?"

"What's wrong?" I study my feet. This cannot be anymore embarrassing.

"The Dark Lord has returned," he supplies plainly.

Dear Merlin. "What does that have to do with my sister?" I say delicately, choosing my words even more carefully than before.

"Malfoy is playing games and your sister has been caught in the crossfire."

"What do you mean?" I demand. He always plays games with me, ever since first year. It always leaves me feeling drained and worthless. I hate that feeling.

"I mean your sister has been inadvertently targeted. In Potter's place," he replies tiredly. Why tell me?

"Why are you volunteering this information?" I ask suspiciously.

"Who said anything about volunteering?" he raises his dark eyebrows.

"How Slytherin." He thinks he's clever. Ginny, don't ever say I never do anything for you.

"Protective of her, aren't you?" he leers hideously, as if he can read my mind. I hope that never happens.

"Leave her alone!"

"It's too late, you know," he says mildly.

I tense up immediately. Ginny…

"But I can help," Marcus pauses dramatically. "For a price."

~*~

"Professor Dumbledore, sir?" I ask as Professor McGonagall ushers me into the Headmaster's office. "Professor McGonagall says that you wish to speak with me?"

"That is correct, Mr. Weasley." I don't quite trust the jovial gleam in his eyes. "Please sit down." He offers me a chair and a plate of baked goods. "Scone?"

"No, thank you," I decline politely.

"I'm sure that you would like for me to get right to the point so that you can continue with your schoolwork."

"Yes, sir," I respond with more sureness than I feel. I turn to McGonagall, silently questioning her. She shakes her head.

"Mr. Weasley, firstly, are you aware of a priceless stone, the Dominion Jewel?"

Of course I am, anyone who pays attention in Professor Binns' class is.

"Yes, sir," I nod carefully. "It is bound to a ruler, which in turn, binds him to his lands. He is able to control, with the help of the Jewel, everything living and nonliving in his land.

"It disappeared hundreds of years ago, around the Himalayan Mountains, after the reign of King Louis I the Pious of Aquitaine. The Nepalese, Bhutanese, and Tibetans protecting it were killed and the jewel was presumed to be destroyed."

"Very good, Mr. Weasley. I am positive that you will do well on your NEWT's."

"Professor, sir?" I question Professor Dumbledore, although looking at Professor McGonagall.

"Now that you have demonstrated your knowledge of history, how is your knowledge of folklore?" Professor Dumbledore steeples his fingers as he looks at me expectantly.

I quickly dismiss the hollow feeling growing in my stomach and wait patiently for the Headmaster to challenge me.

"You are familiar with the animagus transformation, no?" I nod mutely. "Then there is no need to explain the whys and why nots. However, are you familiar with the mythology that backs it up?"

I glance at Professor McGonagall again, who stonily avoided my eyes.

"About the origin of animagi?" I ask timidly.

"Yes!" Professor Dumbledore smiles richly. "How much do you know?"

"Only a little," I blush. I'm not about to tell the Headmaster I haven't studied it because I want to be normal. That I don't want to be shunned and outcast even more.

Professor Dumbledore looks overjoyed with the confession; it gives him a chance to explain everything as well as get me to admit not knowing something.

"Well, Mr. Weasley," he launches into his tale. "Going back thousands of years ago, a little before I was born, select wizards and witches shared a bond with a certain group of animals. They realized that their minds were linked and, with concentration and practice, they could actually become one with their beast. Animagi.

"They set forth and multiplied. And after generation upon generation, the link faded away but the animagus transformation did not. There are, however, a limited number of witches and wizards left in the world, seventeen to my knowledge, four in the whole of Europe."

He's going to name names... I'm half terrified. No, more than half.

"Those people are - " The world goes by painfully slow. "Minerva McGonagall, Thomas Riddle - " I've read that name somewhere " - Charles Weasley, and yourself."

Charlie? Professor McGonagall? Charlie?!

I whirl back and forth between the two professors, my eyes comically wide. Yes, I was right in telling Harry that Professor Dumbledore is mad.

"Maybe you should have gone a bit slower, Albus," Professor McGonagall chides, speaking for the first time.

"Maybe, Minerva, but Mr. Weasley was becoming aggravated with my storytelling." There is that smile again.

"But sir," I find my voice again. "Charlie didn't act differently, he didn't – he didn't tell me," I finish sullenly, feeling more than betrayed.

"No question about your condition, just about your brother?" Professor Dumbledore raises his snowy eyebrows, in not-quite-surprise.

"I always knew I was a freak, I just didn't know that my brother, who constantly laughed at me, is just the same as I am," my voice oozes disdain.

I just admitted that? In hysterics, no less. Dear Merlin, I must be the one who's mad.

"Mr. Weasley, there is no need to get upset," McGonagall casts a 'do something' look at Professor Dumbledore.

"Oh dear," he frowns, supplying the help McGonagall had asked for. "This has not gone as well as I had hoped." He turns to me. "Mr. Weasley, I have asked you here in regards to your schedule. I am asking Professor McGonagall here to tutor you privately to help you train yourself, to help you control your mind."

Seeing no room for argument, I nod, not meeting either professors' eyes.

~*~*~

TBC, if wanted.

And just a side note, the payment Marcus wants isn't sexual. K?