The Ministry of Magic was deathly quiet on that particular April evening. The current war had driven many employees home early; even Minister for Magic, Pius Thicknesse had felt it necessary to retire early. In fact, aside from the occasional Auror or Unspeakable outside the Department of Mysteries; the Ministry had no signs of life. The only exception was a small yellow lamp flickering in one of the top-most offices, where a young man sat at his desk, pouring endlessly over paperwork through his horn-rimmed glasses. Occasionally he would sigh as he leafed through mountains of paper and pamphlets and after several long minutes of gazing at one particular passage, he sat up and rubbed the back of his neck.
"Still working, Mr Weasley?" asked a young woman, who peeked her head through his office door. Percy nodded solemnly at the dark-haired woman, who shook her head of cropped, curly hair in exasperation.
"Honestly," she marvelled, proceeding to enter and sit opposite him. "It's a wonder you can even think about anything with this war."
When Percy gave her a blank stare, she continued. "What does your family think about you being out this late? Surely you have a wife to go home to?"
Percy continued to stare into the woman's dark eyes. He paused for a moment, to wipe his glasses before answering her. "I am afraid to say, miss, that my family will not be inclined to think of my wellbeing."
"Please, call me Audrey," she smiled at him. "And why ever not?"
"Well... it's a bit of a... hem... disagreement," he said, embarrassed. "Now, what is a young lady such as yourself doing here at this late hour?"
Audrey giggled at his formal tone of voice. It was as though she had stepped back to the eighteen hundreds. Percy watched her as she laughed; causing her nose to crinkle adorably and her curls bounce around her chin. He was utterly transfixed by that one, simple action. Even in the shadow of gloom that hovered in the air, she still found a reason to smile. It was utterly perplexing.
"I was merely finishing some business for Yaxley. He seemed very insistent that I hand it to him tonight."
"Well, then," said Percy, ordering his papers into neat piles and rising from his chair. "Allow me to walk you home." He held out his arm to Audrey, who slipped her arm through his in surprise. "It is not safe for a young woman to be walking around the streets of London at night."
"Oh, thank you," Audrey said, startled as she let Percy lead her out of the Ministry.
The night was cool and Audrey pulled her dark blue robes tighter around her tiny frame as she walked. There was something about his pompous exterior that intrigued her. Was he as confident on the inside as on the outside?
"So, which is your Department?" Percy asked politely.
"The Department of Magical Law Enforcement."
"Ah," said Percy, "I'm surprised I haven't seen you around more often."
"You have," said Audrey quietly, turning her face away from him to hide her blushing cheeks. "You probably don't remember me because I'm not in a high ranking position. I'm the Scribe."
Percy glanced down at his companion. Was she embarrassed at her position? She was only young, he thought, so being Scribe was well respected. Percy remembered his first job in the Ministry. From there, he had been promoted in leaps and bounds. If Audrey was as ambitious as he, she would succeed as he did.
"There's nothing to be ashamed of," he reasoned with her, stopping outside her apartment. It was identical to every other apartment in the block except for one thing... a garden bed of Dirigible Plums. Percy was surprised Audrey had been bold enough to plant these at the front of her apartment; surely it would attract Muggle attention. But he knew otherwise than to question her.
"Well, goodnight, miss," he said, slipping his arm out of hers.
"I told you to call me Audrey!" she rolled her eyes and stashed her wand in her robes. Percy caught her wrist gently and pulled it up to his face.
"Goodnight, Audrey," he whispered, brushing his lips against her slender wrist. She giggled and blushed bright red as she hurried inside her apartment. Percy blinked a few times, questioning his actions. What had he just done? Audrey was nice and a pretty girl, but he could do much better than her. Sighing, he put his hands in his pockets and turned on the spot, vanishing into the dark night.