3 October 1997
Percy sighed. He couldn't ever recall having this miserable a day—not that things were ever not miserable around here any longer. He'd been called in to act as court scribe in the Muggleborn Registration Commission at the last minute. It sickened him to do what he hated so much, to watch as perfectly innocent, completely terrified witches and wizards were dragged off, one after the other.
The worst part of it was that they—the Commission—had finally gotten to the youngest Muggleborns, those who had had one year or more of education at Hogwarts. Percy had never hated himself more than when he had watched more than three dozen wands snapped in half before his eyes, before the eyes of sobbing children. Names, faces, wand lengths, cores, and woods blurred before him in a haze of suffering and sadness.
"You should consider yourself lucky," Dolores Umbridge told one hysterical girl, looking horribly smug. "You have not yet left Hogwarts—those who have are being sent straight to Azkaban. You are being returned to the Muggle world, where you and the other thieves of magic like you belong."
The girl—no more than fifteen or so—gave a little scream at this.
"Take her upstairs, get her out of the Ministry. She has no place here," said Dolores coldly.
Dawlish stepped forward and grabbed the girl by the arm and escorted her roughly from the courtroom. Percy, feeling suddenly sick, murmured some excuse to Dolores and hurried out as well. He did not go to the lavatory, but headed for a deserted corridor, sinking down on his hands and knees, heaving as tears of shame poured down his face.
After still more trials that took years and years to end, Percy was dismissed. As he shut the courtroom door behind him, he heard a sudden, annoyingly jovial voice that startled him.
"Arthur! What brings you down here?"
"Hello, Angus! I've got an appointment with—"
Percy had frozen at the end of the corridor as his father's eyes met his. Hurriedly, Percy dropped his hand from the door to the courtroom, but it was too late—his father had seen. Dad's eyes were boring into his, and in them Percy saw disappointment, anger, sorrow, love, and a hundred other things that he could not decipher.
He didn't know what made him do it, but Percy forced himself to start walking. With his eyes fixed on the distant golden grilles of the lifts, he hurried past Dad without a word, biting back more tears of anger and shame. At last he climbed into the thankfully empty lift, and allowed himself to sink against the back wall, burying his face in his hands.
Percy dragged himself up to his office, collected his things, and for the first time ever, left work early. Without pausing to say goodbye to anyone, he hurried into the queue of witches and wizards leaving the Ministry. At long last, he was standing out on the sidewalk. The sky was cloudy and darkening rapidly. Tugging his cloak about his shoulders, Percy set off down the street.
He thought briefly of stopping in the Leaky Cauldron for a drink—then he thought better of it. If the children he had seen today did not deserve to be in magical society, then neither did he. Percy stared at the ground as he walked, unaware of where his feet carried him, until quite suddenly, he found himself in the children's play park that stood across the street from his apartment building. It appeared deserted.
Not quite feeling up to walking upstairs to sit alone in his flat for hours on end, Percy sank down on a bench, sighing. Almost simultaneously, a voice behind him spoke up.
Percy nearly flew out of his seat and spun, reaching for his wand, panicked, before he realized that the person who stood before him was none other than the girl from today's trials. Her blue eyes were red and puffy, her hair a little bedraggled. She was watching him with a hard, cold look in her eye.
"Fancy meeting you here," she said. Her voice was much stronger than it had been during her trial, and she had a fierce kind of fire in her looks that hinted to Percy that he was looking at one of his fellow Gryffindors.
"I—I am a Ministry official," Percy said warningly. "If you attack—"
"Oh, please, what would I attack you with?" the girl snapped waspishly, sitting down on the bench and crossing her arms and legs. "We watched my wand get snapped in half today. Remember?"
Percy blinked. The girl jerked her head at the empty space on the bench next to him, and he hesitantly sat down beside her, gazing out across the street just as she did. There was a rather uncomfortable silence.
"Where—why aren't you with your parents?" Percy asked.
"I live with my grandmother," the girl said tersely. "She's not well enough to leave the house, so I went to my hearing alone."
"I'm sorry," Percy said lamely, and the girl glared sideways at him. Another, much longer silence fell.
"I was going to be a Healer," she said at last, shaking her head as if she thought she was stupid for even thinking it. Percy blinked. "I was going into my fifth year, I was going to get Outstandings on my O.W.L.s, and I was going to figure out how to help my grandmother."
Percy swallowed a lump in his throat, deciding not to mention that giving a Muggle magical treatment for an illness was strictly prohibited, except for extenuating situations.
"And then you Ministry idiots—"
Percy felt a bristle of indignation. "I am not an idiot," he said loudly.
The girl turned to face him, her eyes narrowed. "No," she said slowly. "I think I remember you. You were a Gryffindor prefect. Head Boy, right?"
Percy straightened up slightly. "Yes," he said in a challenging tone.
The girl arched one eyebrow. "How nice for you." She turned back to face the street for a moment. "You had all those brothers, right? And one sister…a year ahead of me, I think."
"Was there something you needed?" Percy asked, feeling very bitter indeed.
The girl shook her head. "Just thought it was interesting that someone on their side looked just as miserable as I did." She stood.
"I'm not—I'm on—I'm not on their—"
"That's not what it looks like from my perspective," she said coolly.
With a pang, Percy felt a keening, horrible longing for his mother and father, his brothers, Ginny—he could see loss and pain in this girl's face, loss that served to make his feel that much worse.
"You're not with your family anymore, are you?" she asked. Percy looked away, shaking his head roughly.
"And it's your choice, isn't it?"
He nodded, not meeting her eyes. The girl sighed.
"There's going to be a war, you know," she said. "A real one. I know what side I'll be fighting on, wand or not. I think you need to figure out the same thing."
"It's not that easy," Percy said.
"The right choice isn't always the easy one," the girl told him. "That's what my gran says, anyway." She glanced down at her watch. "I'd better get home. Her nurse will be leaving soon. See you around, maybe," she added rather snappishly.
"Wait!" Percy called. "What's your name? Who are you?"
The girl turned, her eyes narrowed into slits. "Have you really seen so many of my blood status pass under your nose that you can't remember us? You expect me to believe that you don't know each and every one of our names?
"I—no," Percy said desperately. "I—I can't rememb—"
But the girl was already walking away, her long, dark hair swinging behind her. Percy ground his teeth and stared down at his folded hands.
2 May 1998
Seven months later, Percy found himself trudging slowly up the steps of Hogwarts Castle, his wand hanging limply in his hand. Bloodstains spattered the ground he stared at, and piles of rubble crowded everywhere.
Fred was gone, the price of his too-little-too-late reconciliation with his family—at least, that was how it felt. He'd chosen his side too late. He'd failed them all. Remus Lupin, his wife, they too were dead. And here Percy remained, forced to collect bodies, to look people in the eye whom he had deserted, abandoned, all for his own selfishness. No, he did not deserve the wonderful people who were in the Great Hall now, mourning his little brother. He ought to go fling himself off a tower; no one would notice, what was another body, he thought rather dismally. Then he mentally slapped himself for thinking it, sickened.
He was in the entrance hall when he heard a sudden, loud groan. Looking around, Percy's heart began to race, trying to determine where it came from—it sounded again, and with a thrill of horror, he realized that the noise was coming from beneath a pile of rubble below the staircase.
"Somebody help me!" Percy yelled, running for the pile of marble and wood and starting to yank it away, forgetting his wand completely. "Anybody! Please! There's someone here!" He got up, looking around—everyone was busy, tending to the wounded—no one had heard him.
Percy hunted around and snatched up his wand, waving it, and the chunks of marble flew away, revealing the dust-coated, horribly injured body of a girl. She was stirring feebly, her head rolling from side to side, her right hand reaching for a wand that Percy knew was not hers, one that he knew she must have taken from another fighter in the battle…
"Fancy meeting you here," she said in a pain-ridden voice, her blue eyes unfocused. Percy took her hand, leaning over her as he placed one hand on her shoulder. There were deep cuts bleeding badly all over her face and neck; her other arm looked badly broken, and she had many bruises forming everywhere.
The worst of it were her legs: she was wearing jeans, just like any Muggle, undoubtedly the clothes she had been wearing when she had snuck into the castle. Now, however, the jeans were soaked with blood, and with a horrible lurch of his stomach, Percy realized that the falling banisters had crushed her legs. The girl was shaking with cold, going into shock, and she was very white.
"You're going to be all right," he promised, looking over his shoulder. "Help!" he yelled. "Somebody!" This time, he seemed to have been heard, and Kingsley Shacklebolt came running out of the hall, followed by Professor McGonagall and Professor Slughorn.
Professor McGonagall gasped when she saw the girl. "Oh, Miss Finch," she said, clapping a hand over her mouth. "Why—how—"
But the girl's eyes were rolling back up into her head. Kingsley conjured a stretcher as Professor Slughorn raised his wand and levitated the girl onto it. Percy felt her fingers leave his grasp and scrambled to his feet. Professor McGonagall and Kingsley carried the girl quickly into the Great Hall and set her on a table.
"Poppy!" Professor McGonagall called urgently. "Poppy!"
Madam Pomfrey came running, and Percy sank down on the bench, taking the girl's hand again. She opened her eyes slightly, finding his face.
"Glad to see you're on the other side now," she said breathlessly, before finally falling unconscious.
1 September 2010
"Come in," said a familiar voice from the other side of the door. Percy smiled, awkwardly pushing open the office door with one hand.
"Percy!" A warm smile and laughing blue eyes met him. She was very, very glad to see him, just as he was to see her.
"I've brought someone to meet you," Percy said, holding up the pink bundle cradled in his arms, and his old friend beamed.
"I'd heard a rumor that you and Audrey were here," she said shrewdly, putting her hands on the wheels of her chair.
Percy scoffed. "You know everything that happens in this hospital, and you know it."
"True," she said, with a toss of her head, pulling herself back from her desk. "How's Audrey?"
"She's excellent," Percy said. "Just resting."
His friend nodded, removed her spectacles, and gestured for him to come around the desk, swiveling her wheelchair out to face him better. Very gently, Percy bent over and laid his daughter in her arms.
"Goodness," she said softly, settling back. "She's as lovely as Molly." Tenderly, she stroked the sleeping baby's soft blondish-red hair and looked up at Percy. "What's her name?"
"Lucy," Percy said softly, smiling gently at the look of shock that filled her face.
"You—you named her after me?" she asked softly.
"We named her after the one person we knew would always be able to teach her the difference between wrong and right," Percy said, bending over to look at his daughter. "It was Audrey's idea."
Lucy blinked back tears, gazing down at the baby she held in her arms. "She's beautiful," she said. "Looks just like Audrey."
Percy nodded, and Lucy met his eyes. "Thank you," he said in a strangled voice. "For—for everything. I never—never would've—" And, careful not to disturb the baby, Percy leaned in and gave her a warm, if rather sudden hug.
When he released her, Lucy sat back, her chair creaking slightly, and she smiled up at him, a few tears falling down her cheeks as she cuddled the baby. "Thank you for picking the other side."
This is a gift/request fic for my friend mermaidgirl45. She asked for a story about Percy FINALLY coming around. Ariel, hope that you (and anyone else who reads it) likes it!