Disclaimer: Harry Potter world belongs to J.K. Rowling, not me.
Rated T for language
A/N: Okay! So some people have asked for a sequel, so I've decided I'll write one! It's going to include extensions of some of the descriptions in the epilogue of PTW, as well as events after the war. I don't know how much time I'll have to write but I'm going to try to update this story as much as possible. It'll have lots of Percy and Audrey, and lots of Weasleys.
The hearing was just a simple formality, everyone had assured him. Every employee who had been involved with the muggle-born persecutions and wished to stay on at the Ministry had to go through it. Hell, even the Minister himself—Kingsley Shacklebolt—had pulled him aside a few days ago and told him not to worry about it, that he would be without a doubt cleared immediately.
But that didn't ease the sick fear that was making Percy's stomach twist and turn and sweat form on his unnaturally gray skin as he sat on the hard wooden bench outside one of the smaller courtrooms.
And it was a very small courtroom, barely more than a broom closet, really, with only a few Wizengamot members. Percy was grateful for that. If it had been a bigger room, perhaps even one where the defendants were bound in chains, he doubted he have been able to work up the courage to even sit outside of it.
Percy wrapped his cloak tighter around his body, shivering. He was on the lowest floor of the Ministry, and it wasn't heated very well. The cold was seeping through to his skin.
You know, Percy was thinking as the seconds ticked by, waiting for the courtroom door to open, maybe I do deserve a guilty verdict. I did watch so many innocent muggle-borns go to Azkaban…I couldn't save all of them, so I sat by and let good people suffer…maybe I do deserve to go to prison for that…
He was jolted forcibly from his thoughts as the wide metal door swung open, clanging loudly against the wall. A man in red robes stumbled out, hurrying away down the corridor, his footsteps reverberating on the stone. Percy remained huddled on his bench, watching the door with wide eyes.
Percy heard a tired, deep voice resound from inside the courtroom. "The next person on the docket… Percy Ignatius Weasley."
There was a slight murmuring, no doubt because of the Weasley name. Everyone would be wondering what the brother of the Harry Potter's right hand man, Ron Weasley, was doing in court for crimes against muggle-borns.
A head popped out of the courtroom, and Percy was startled to see it belonged to a young man who was probably barely older than Ron. His mousy brown hair was cut short and painfully neat and he was wearing the robes of a courtroom scribe. Percy was suddenly reminded of himself, back in the days when he worked under Fudge.
"They are ready for you, sir," the boy said quietly before hurrying back inside, nearly losing his grip on the scroll of parchment he was carrying. Maybe, Percy mused as he followed the boy, his fear subsiding a bit, I can teach him a few things. He had learned many little tricks to survive the scribe job; how a well-trained Quick-Quotes Quill never hurt, and how a Recording spell was good for getting a record of details you wouldn't otherwise remember.
Percy walked slowly around the courtroom, lowering himself into the chair. He stared up at the panel above him. There were three Wizengamot members plus the scribe, who was hurriedly laying out his scroll and trying to ink his quill. Percy watched as he splattered ink on his nose.
"Welcome, Mr. Weasley." The Wizengamot member sitting in the middle of the panel, a small man with bushy gray eyebrows and reading glasses settled on his nose, spoke without even looking up from the parchment he was reading. "I am Teiresias Pertinax, and I'll be conducting your review." Immediately, Percy heard the scratching of a quill as the scribe began to take notes. "Just answer the questions truthfully, Mr. Weasley, and you'll be out of here quickly."
Percy nodded. Pertinax opened his mouth, about to ask the first question, when one of the other Wizengamot members frowned and got to their feet, glaring menacingly down at Percy. He felt himself pale under the man's dark gaze.
"Teiresias," the man hissed, and Percy recognized the deep voice which had called his name off the docket. "I'm detecting a magical concealment charm that the defendant is casting on himself."
Pertinax's bushy eyebrows shot up. "Is this true?" he asked sharply.
Percy felt himself go even paler. "No! I—" he broke off, realizing that he did have a concealment charm on himself—one to cover the scars. Casting it every morning had become second nature to him, the same as putting on his cloak or shoes. He had forgotten that such charms weren't allowed in magical court. "Yes, sir, it is true. I apologize. I'll—I'll remove it." Percy pulled his wand out of his pocket, waving it over his face and muttering the incantation. He winced in discomfort as the magical sparks danced over the painful scars, stinging and smarting.
All the Wizengamot members stared at him. "Are those dragon fire burns?" the third one, a portly woman with dark brown hair, asked.
"Yes, ma'am," he replied meekly, trying not to scratch at his face.
"I see…" Pertinax checked something on his parchment before returning his gaze to Percy. "It says here that your brother works with dragons, did you receive those burns while visiting him?"
Pertinax gave him a calculating look before saying, "Very well, then." He looked back down at his parchment. "Full name?" he inquired.
"Percy Ignatius Weasley," Percy answered, trying to swallow the lump in his throat.
"Where did you go to school, and what is your level of education?" Pertinax continued, a tone to his voice that suggested he asked the same questions a hundred times that day.
"I attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, sir, and received my N.E.W.T.'s there."
"And what was your position at the time of the incidents, Mr. Weasley?"
"Junior Undersecretary to the Minister, sir."
"I see." Pertinax finally looked up from the parchment, taking off his reading glasses and settling his gaze on Percy, who squirmed uncomfortably. "Now, Mr. Weasley, do you know why you are here today, in this courtroom?"
"Well…" Percy shifted in his chair, throat inexplicably dry. "I was owled and told to come here, sir," he replied, and immediately cursed himself for giving such a stupid answer. He felt his cheeks go red.
But Pertinax was chuckling softly. "That is the best answer to that question I've heard all day." He again lifted parchment to eye level, as if to check the next question. But then he slapped it down to the table. He turned to the scribe. "You can take a break, Mr. Lawrence," he said firmly, not taking his gaze off the scribe until the boy had reluctantly laid his quill down. Pertinax then looked back at Percy. "Would you mind if we went off book, Mr. Weasley?"
Percy hesitated for a second, wondering what the wizard's intentions were, and then replied, "Not at all, sir." He glanced at the scribe, who was looking confused and a little frightened. Percy bit back a smile in spite of his own discomfort.
"Excellent." Pertinax set the parchment aside, leaning back in his chair and pressing the fingertips of his two hands together. "You know, Mr. Weasley," he continued after a moment of silence, "I've seen a lot of scumbags come through this courtroom, and you're nothing like any of them."
"Uh… thank you, sir?" Percy responded, the statement coming out more like a question than anything else.
"I've been going over the papers, Mr. Weasley, for all the muggle-borns whose cases you were assigned to work on, and those who passed through the courts while you were at work."
Percy ran a hand anxiously through his bright red hair, honestly wondering what was coming next.
"I've noticed more than a few discrepancies, as I'm sure you're not surprised to hear. Papers going missing, previously unknown magical relatives suddenly being discovered, muggle-borns making impossible escapes…"
Percy swallowed and watched with wide eyes as the other members of the panel, who had been murmuring to each other, stopped and looked at Pertinax and then at him, obviously bemused.
"You know, ever since we put your name on the public docket, Mr. Weasley, we've had character references for you pouring in."
Percy blinked in surprise at Pertinax's odd statement. "Character references?" he echoed. "From whom?"
"A surprising variety of people, actually," Pertinax replied. "Penelope Clearwater, Minerva McGonagall, Filius Flitwick, Kingsley Shacklebolt…even Aberforth Dumbledore sent something in, and the vast majority of us didn't even know he could write."
Percy couldn't help but smile at this.
"What I'm trying to get at here, Mr. Weasley, is that you are most certainly not getting a guilty verdict from this court. A medal, maybe, an Order of Merlin when all the dust settles, but not a punishment. Certainly not."
Percy closed his eyes in relief for a second, but jerked them open in shock as he heard a loud thunk! He saw Pertinax lift a stamp up from his parchment. "You are dismissed, Mr. Weasley, and cleared of all charges." Pertinax gave him a sly smile before slipping his reading glasses back on his nose and picking up the next piece of parchment. "Mr. Lawrence, will you make note of the verdict and retrieve the next defendant, please?"
Percy got up, still slightly in a relieved daze as the scribe leapt up and frantically scrawled on his notes. Percy, remembering how hard it was not being appreciated in his job at this boy's age, commented, "Good notes," to Lawrence as he walked by.
Percy smiled as he heard the boy's garbled "T—thank you." He walked out of the courtroom and into the corridor, briefly making eye contact with the man who had taken his position on the bench outside. Smoothing his hair down and casting the familiar concealment charms over his face (because he wasn't sure he was ready to deal with all the questions they would bring), Percy kept on walking.
When he rounded the corner of the corridor, out of earshot, Percy raised his fist into the air and let out a quiet whoop. He was free—he could go back to work now. Percy turned and was about to head to the lifts when a sudden scream behind him made him tense and reach automatically for his wand.
Percy whipped around and then slammed himself against the wall as he caught sight of two Aurors who were half-dragging, half-carrying none other than Dolores Umbridge, who was frothing with rage. He blinked in shock.
"UNHAND ME, YOU FIENDS! YOU FLITHY MUDBLOODS! UNHAND ME!"
Several other Aurors and Wizengamot members were following in a somber procession behind Umbridge and her guards. "Ms. Umbridge," one of them said stiffly. "You have been found guilty of crimes against muggle-borns. You are going to spend the next twenty years in Azkaban. No amount of struggling will change this."
Percy felt rage boil up in his chest as he watched the wizards try to drag the struggling toad-like woman down the corridor. He knew that the world wasn't divided into good people and Death Eaters, and that Umbridge wasn't the former or the latter. She was just an unlikeable woman who'd been willing to sacrifice any of her values that got in the way of her lust for power. But somehow, that made Percy hate her all the more.
He pulled his wand out of his pocket and pointed it squarely at her head, moving it to follow her as she struggled. "Need some help with that?" he asked one of the Aurors savagely. "She'd be a lot easier to handle if she were unconscious."
"Or transfigured into a sea urchin, right?" Percy's gaze snapped to the Auror who had spoken, a blond man with a small grin on his face and arms folded in front of his chest.
"Excuse me?" Percy shot back, frowning.
"What, aren't you Percy Weasley?"
"Yes, I am."
"And aren't you the one turned Pius Thicknesse into a sea urchin during the Battle of Hogwarts?"
"Yes…I suppose…" Percy replied, confused. He still had trouble remembering some parts of that night; he had no idea how some random Auror would know about that…
"Apparently they still haven't been able to get the spikes off that guy." The Auror chuckled and cast a stunner on Umbridge. Percy watched from his position against the wall as the procession moved on, this time dragging Umbridge's unconscious body, off to Azkaban where she belonged.
Percy stood there for a few seconds after they had disappeared, reviewing the Auror's and Pertinax's words in his head and rolling around the idea that maybe now he was actually known for something that didn't involve his brothers, or messing up, or cauldron bottoms.
Making a mental note to thank Audrey for teaching him that spell (and to ask her if there was counterjinx) Percy strolled back up to the Atrium, where he would receive his new assignment.
Don't worry—Audrey will be in the next chapter, and all the Weasleys in the one after that.