Disclaimer: Harry Potter's not mine, of course!
Note: Hello! I starting writing this a little while ago, but only now got round to finishing it. It's basically my musings on the characters of Percy and Penelope and what might have happened between them. Please do review, if you can, because I'd love some feedback. :) Thanks!
Call me Penny
Even her name was neat. Clipped and bright and beautiful. Penny.
He was probably imagining it, of course. Percy, who was logical through and through, knew that a name meant nothing. It could be anything, and she would still be her.
She was a prefect. Before fifth year and the arrival of his badge, he knew her by face only. September the 1st, 1991 arrived and he was due in the Prefect's compartment on the Hogwarts Express. He had spent the morning keeping Fred and George in check and looking out for Ron who was starting his first year. He stuck out his chest. He wore the badge with pride. He kissed his mother on the cheek before he left, the perfect son. But when he ducked into the train compartment some of the bluster left him, and where had his voice gone? The Head Boy and Girl were commanding and calm; Percy listened, eager but increasingly aware of the difference between bossing around his younger siblings and controlling the student body.
Without paying much attention to where he was going, he ended up sitting next to a blonde, curly-haired Ravenclaw. She shot him a side-long glance and he realised that he recognised her from Transfiguration.
The new Ravenclaw prefects were the first to patrol the corridors. "Come on, Pen," said the boy, standing up. Percy didn't know him.
'Pen' shot the boy a sharp look. "That's Pen-el-ope," she said, elongating each syllable, "To you." She stood up and followed her fellow Ravenclaw out of the compartment.
Logically speaking, Percy should've been patrolling the corridors with Alison Lewis, the Gryffindor prefect. But she was in the Hospital Wing with chronic tonsillitis, so he set off alone not knowing who he would be paired with, only that they were meeting in the Entrance Hall.
She was stood half-way down the stairs, playing with her long hair. It was the girl from the train, Percy realised. Pen-el-ope. He made a mental note not to call her 'Pen.'
"Evening," he said. She jumped and Percy blushed. He could not imagine being anything other than formal, but suddenly his words sounded awkward on his tongue.
"Hi," she returned. "Shall we start with the dungeons?"
Percy just nodded. That night they apprehended a couple of fourth year Slytherins sneaking around after curfew and a Hufflepuff who used being lost as an excuse.
Penelope was a fervent disbeliever in rule-breaking, but she was also clever. She found harmless loopholes and had a creative air about her that Percy could only dream of.
"There's no rule against eating in the halls, is there?" she said, producing a Cauldron Cake each from her pocket.
"I suppose not," he admitted. "Thank you."
"That's OK..." They reached the end of their patrol and were about to part ways for the night. "One thing's been bothering me, though," she said, and for a moment Percy foolishly thought she was referring to the Slytherin's who had been so rude to them. "You keep calling me Penelope," she said instead.
Percy blinked. "That – but I thought you didn't like – the boy on the train – "
Penelope huffed. "Oh, Scott?" she said, her voice ringing with disdain. "God knows why Professor Dumbledore made him a prefect! That's why I was glad to pair up with someone else this evening." She looked directly at Percy and smiled slightly; to his horror, he felt his whole face tingling. "No, you don't have to call me Penelope."
"Oh, thanks. Pen it is, then." Percy turned hurriedly, almost tripping over his own feet. "Goodnight, Pen."
"Penny," she called over her shoulder as she walked off, "You can call me Penny."
Surprisingly for a highly paid Ministry worker, Percy's most treasured possession was nothing more than a humble box of newspaper cuttings. He kept them in the attic and only looked through them occasionally, once a year or sometimes even less. He treasured them because, though they tortured him, they reminded him of his mistakes. He was mentioned many times, if only in passing.
...Percy Weasley, understudy to the Minister...
...fulfilling the role of court scribe at Potter's trial was Percy Weasley...
In hindsight, he wished for greater, bolder mentions. He wanted to see: Percy Weasley, understudy to the Minister today resigned from the position. Or better yet, Percy Weasley, proud blood traitor, today told his boss where to stuff it.
There were later clippings, too, from the days after the Prophet had fallen into the clutches of the Death Eaters. Its skewed perspective of the war chilled Percy even now. Everything that was normal had been taken over and tainted. There were long lists of Muggle-borns who had evaded registration and were wanted by the Ministry.
He still remembered the day he saw her name listed. But despite how fearfully Percy awaited the day she was dragged into the Ministry, it never arrived. The war rampaged on, trapping him at the Ministry and away from his family who he'd so badly misjudged. He never saw a thing of her. And when it ended and the darkness slowly, painfully faded, when the grieving could begin and they mourned the lost (here, he thought of Fred) he was finally free to find Penny.
She was not among the poor souls freed from Azkaban or among those who emerged from hiding. He had hoped she was part of the latter group – Penny was intelligent; she had ten Os in her OWLs, for Merlin's sake, and if anyone had the presence of mind to hide, it was her – but he would take the former too. Anything. But there was no sign.
Penny was not the only person who had vanished without a trace during the war. Many remained unaccounted for. At the time, he wondered if she'd fled abroad, vaguely remembering her mentioning an aunt in France.
Percy couldn't think about it anymore. He stood up behind his desk, ready to floo home. Audrey had lost friends and family in the war, too, and she stayed cheerful. The past can't hurt you, she always said. Percy wasn't sure if she believed it very deep down. He stepped into the fireplace and realised how late it was; Molly and Lucy would be in bed by now.
Life had not taken the route he expected as a young man – but then, who's did? And it was not something he regretted, he knew, stepping straight into the lounge where Audrey was sat reading. She was like his double; she had dark auburn hair, rectangular glasses and wore blouses at home as well as to work. He loved her dearly.
Penny he loved differently. It was easy to discard what they had as a teenage romance, but it was more than that. Penny gave him confidence like he'd never had before; he remembered how terrified he felt just walking into the prefect's compartment for the first time. And sure, that confidence went seriously awry when he left school. For one thing, he saw less and less of Penny when he joined the Ministry; meanwhile, she was busy training to become a Healer. But in the end that confidence saved him. It led him to the Battle of Hogwarts, to reconciliation with his family, to being by Fred's side when he –
Percy took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. He settled on the sofa next to his wife.
Contrary to what his younger brother and sister had shown, not everyone gets to marry their childhood sweetheart.
Though he avoided thinking about it these days, Percy was half-right. Penny had tried to hide. It all came out a year or so after the war – one of Kingsley Shacklebolt's inquiries into the missing Muggle-borns and blood traitors. The conclusion?
Sometimes the Snatchers got carried away.
Hope you're well (and that the twins aren't giving you too much hassle!) Life here is boring as ever. I miss Hogwarts dreadfully. And you too, of course! Mum's got me helping out in the bookshop. You'd like it – it means I get to wear my reading glasses all day and I know they're your favourite! Try not to worry too much about OWL results. I sometimes think all you do is worry. I'm pretty calm about it... OK, just barely, but I'm probably doing better than you. Write to me as soon as your letter arrives, please?
I'd love to have you come and visit, but Dad doesn't know about us yet, so you know. Oh, and you'll never guess what my mum bought me for my birthday, even though it's the middle of summer and we're going to Spain next month. (Well, you will guess because I'm wearing it in the photo, ha!)
(Enclosed is a photo of Penelope stood in the garden of her childhood home. She is waving sheepishly at the camera and struggling not to laugh because the jumper she's wearing looks four sizes too big. It's bright blue. Her mother was always proud of her for getting into 'the smart' House.)