Molly dreamed of Percy that night. She dreamed of him as a baby and as a boy, as a sutdent at hogwarts and as a junior ministry member. And she dreamed about him as a man who battled demons both figurative and literal. A man who overcame his anger though never his sorrow. An auror, watching over them through everything. Always there.
When Arthur was coordinating raids on the homes of dark wizards, Percy was in the shadows, his wand at the ready. When the family had to go to Diagon Alley in these trying times, Percy was there, hiding behind a Daily Prophet. And when Fred and George started their joke shop, Percy was planting a seed in the Ministry's ear about charmed hats and cloaks.
But he kept his distance. He couldn't approach them. He couldn't ask or explain anything. His job was dangerous. If he was found out...if he was caught...anyone he was on good terms with would be in even more danger.
As he moved forward in the ministry he had been vocal in his mistrust of Professor Dumbledore and Harry Potter. It had gotten him close to Cornelius Fudge and allowed access to find and plug holes in the ministry.
And while his position on Dumbledore and Harry was exaggerated within the walls of the Ministry, he clearly had a differing opinion on the best ways to fight Voldemort and severely questioned the wisdom behind the idea of young Harry being destined to play a role in such a fight.
So he stayed hidden. For the good everyone he stayed alone but for the handful of people who lived the truth with him.
It was a happy dream and a sad dream, and when Arthur shook her awake the next morning for a few seconds as her mind drifted upwards to consciousness, it was terrifying. Her heart felt as if it had stopped as she opened her eyes. There were only two reasons Arthur would be waking her and only one of them was good.
Molly tried to speak. She opened her mouth but no words nor air came out. It was as if time itself had stopped.
Arthur knelt down on the floor and looked into her eyes.
"He's awake, Molly," he said. Time moved again, and Molly expelled a great sob as she grabbed Arthur, pulling him to her in a tight hug. As she squeezed her eyes closed against his neck, she could feel him shaking
They held each other like that for a moment before Molly pulled away, wiping tears from her eyes.
"Come on then," she said. "We mustn't waste any more time."
They dressed quickly and took the floo to St. Mungos, dashing through the halls, but as they came to the wing for spell damage and Molly reached out to tug the door open, Arthur stuck out his hand, stopping it. Molly looked at him, holding the door and breathing heavily.
"Arthur, what is it?" she asked. The question hung in the air for a moment before Arthur turned around and leaned against the door, facing the way they had come and not looking at Molly.
"I can't go in there," he said quietly.
"Oh, whatever for?" Molly said. "Of course you can, have you gone mad?"
"I went to see him," Arthur said. "Last Christmas, after he sent the sweater back, I went to his office at the ministry and I yelled at him." The words came quickly now. "I told him how much he had hurt you and said his behavior was more fitting of a Malfoy than a Weasley and that he needn't worry about receiving anything from us ever again."
"I watched him," Arthur continued. "He just sat there, stacking a pile of papers - you know how he likes things neat - and he wouldn't even look at me as he asked me to leave. At the time I thought he was just being insolent, but Molly now I know.
"I *hurt* him Molly. The last time I saw him I hurt him. I may as well have put him here," the last words came in a rush and choked off at the end as he brought his hand to his mouth to stifle a sob.
Arthur was a tall man, like Percy, but here he looked so small. Molly wrapped her arms around him.
"Sweetheart, it's alright," she whispered. "You didn't have all the information. You were standing up for me, can you imagine any circumstance under which Percy wouldn't forgive you for that?" Arthur was silent. "He's a good boy. He's a good man," she corrected herself, "and we've a second chance now to make things right. All three of us."
Arthur nodded and wiped his face. "You're right," he said. "You're absolutely right."
They entered the wing together. The door to Percy's room at the end of the hall on the left was open. As they walked toward it, they could hear a man speaking, but couldn't make it out his words. Molly guessed it must have been Raymond - the one Percy's journal had described as a bit of a clown - because the next thing they heard was a great gale of laughter, with one man's howls drowning out the rest.
Mr. Worthington stepped into the hallway, still chuckling with a smile on his face. He fiddled with the clasp on his cloak as he began down the hallway, but when he looked up and saw them, his face broke into a grin that made him look 20 years younger.
He rushed toward them, taking each of their hands in his.
"How is he?" Molly asked immediately.
"Oh, he's quite well," Worthington said. "Quite well. I don't know that he'd believe it if you told him, but Percival's always been a bit of a fighter in his own way."
A weight lifted from Arthur's and Molly's chests as they continued down the hallway, daring even to smile at the news. As they reached Percy's room, Molly reached out a hand, stopping Worthington. She had told Arthur that Percy would be forgiving and would be happy to see them. She'd dreamed it, but deep down...deep down she wasn't sure how he would react at all. And so now she just wanted to listen to him. To hear him speak as if it were any other day. The conversation had moved to a more serious topic than whatever they had been laughing about before.
"Has the girl been located?" Percy asked.
"Yes," a woman - Meredith - replied. "Oddly enough, her parents were a muggle and a squib, but the family knew of our world and the girl's aunt is a witch working at one of the libraries here. The girl went there and the aunt recognized the Weasley emblem inside your hat - "
"Why are there witches working at a muggle library?" Raymond interrupted.
"Because, Raymond, if you had bothered to study in school you would know that most of the muggle libraries also have wizarding sections led by a witch or wizard who acts as a liasion between the two. Anyway, when she saw the hat she contacted teh ministry immediately."
"Are they here?" Percy asked. "The aunt and girl? I'd very much like to meet them and offer my condolences."
"They're in the tea room," a third man said. Molly recognized his gruff voice from the night before. Isaac Grier.
"Yeah," Raymond said mischievously. "The aunt wants to meet you, too. Now, I've done some reconnaissance - "
"You've done what?" Percy interrupted.
"Reconnaissance. Her name is Audrey, she likes cheese and has a rather odd fascination with an old muggle police box...I don't know it's something to do with muggle fiction -"
"Ray!" Percy said. "Are you honestly suggesting I race up the tea room and start hitting on a grief-stricken woman?"
"Well not right now," Raymond replied. "You're in no shape to race." Meredith could be heard suppressing a snort. "But she's young for being somebody's aunt, believe me when I say she's your type and eventually you're going to be better and she's going to feel better and when that happens you're going to be thanking me because, Percival, you are absolutely hopeless when it comes to women."
"He's got you there, mate" Grier said quickly.
This time Molly could hear her son's soft laughter -the same as it had always been - until he stopped with a wince "Don't make me laugh guys," he said between snickers. "Don't make laugh, anymore."
As the laughter in the room began to fade, Molly tapped Worthington on the shoulder. He cleared his throat and swept back into the room.
"Percival," he said. "There are some people here who would like to see you."
Molly and Arthur stepped almost sheepishly into the room. And there Percy was. His hair was combed neatly, as it always was, and his glasses were once again perched on the bridge of his nose. When he saw them, his eyes went wide and his breath came in shallow bursts of air.
"Mum," he said softly. "Dad, I..." he swallowed and looked away, inspecting a sign on the wall about handwashing.
"We'll just step out," Worthington said as he herded the others out the door and closed it behind them.
Molly opened her mouth to speak but stopped when Percy turned to look at them. He swallowed again.
"I didn't think you'd come," he said. His lip quivered and his voice shook, almost imperceptibly, but Molly noticed. She noticed and went straight to his bedside and wrapped her arms around him, and Arthur was not far behind.
They sat there the three of them, holding each other tightly. There could have been tears and apologies and declarations of love and forgiveness for everything that had been said and unsaid over the past year, but there was none of it. There didn't need to be.
Instead they were just there, together and grateful. They were a family once again.