A/N: This is written for round four of the One Character Competition. This round, we are to write a story of at least 100 words, whilst using the prompts 'parchment', ' pillow', 'pale', 'pick', 'private', 'playful', 'panic'. Since my character in that competition is Percy, I thought I might as well stay in the theme with the title. ;-)
This story is a sequel to 'How To Be A Muggle'. It can be read separately, though it will make more sense if you have read that first.
Percy couldn't sleep. He had moulded his pillow a hundred times already, but still he was wide awake. He wondered if it hadn't all been a dream. It would explain why he couldn't sleep now, if he had slept throughout the day. But he only needed to lick his lips to taste the mixture of cacao and spices that Audrey's lips had left there. Audrey White had kissed him. Audrey White, the most popular girl at work, had kissed him. Audrey White had kissed him, Percy Weasley, the oddball. And she didn't even need enchanted mistletoe to do so.
Percy grinned in the darkness. He had never thought that Audrey could like him enough to be friends, let alone like him in that way. Apart from Penelope, he had never had a girlfriend. Truth be told, he didn't really understand girls. Often, it seemed like they spoke another language or even came from another planet. But Audrey was different. Oh, not that he had any presumptions that he understood Audrey, but as it turned out, Audrey had understood him. She had given him a chance and that was not something he could say for the majority of his co-workers.
Most of them thought he was strange – which of course he must be to them, because he had never been to a cinma (that was the word they had used, right?) and he had never heard of pop music (The word in itself was awkward: pop music? As in, it popped and that was supposed to be music? They had tried to have him listen to some of the things they liked and though there were some songs that he actually thought were okay, he still couldn't grasp why they had all laughed for minutes when he had asked when the popping would begin.). He kept confounding the word paper with parchment and didn't know how to handle a coffee machine when he first came to work at 'Chez Maurice'. Somewhere along the line, they had decided that he must be a foreigner.
Percy's mind dwelled back to Audrey and to their kiss earlier that evening. He wondered if it meant that they were boyfriend and girlfriend now, or if the Muggle world had an entirely different etiquette when it came to dating. He pondered the matter for a moment and then decided that he'd ask Audrey the next day.
After hours and hours of tossing and turning, Percy finally fell asleep, bare minutes before his alarm clock sounded – or so it appeared to him.
"Say, you're looking rather pale tonight, Percy!" Brian commented. "Got a bit of a hangover?"
Percy shook his head. He had spent enough time with Brian and Jake to have learnt the meaning of the word hangover. "Nope, not a drop."
"You could've fooled me," Brian said. "I know I have."
"Guys, don't just stand there, I'm not paying you to share your life's details with each other," Mr Walker, the patron of the restaurant – scoffed.
"Yes Mr Walker, of course. We will get right back on it, arent't we Percy?"
"We are. What do you want us to do first?"
"Everything needs to be prepared for lunch this afternoon. I'm expecting a party of twenty and it's a rather big client, so I want everything to be perfect. I need someone to pick up fresh groceries and dairy because the supplier didn't bring any goods yesterday. Weasley, you can do that, I'll give you the list." He handed Percy a piece of parchment – no paper.
A look of panic spread across Percy's face. Go grocery shopping? He would never find his way back.
"Right, you don't know your way around," Walker grumbled. "You gotta learn sometime boy! White, why are you late?" He turned his attention to Audrey, who had just got in.
"Bus," she muttered.
"Honestly, I don't know why I bother would you lot," Walker sighed irritated. "Well, since you still have your coat on, go with him. It'll be too much for one person to carry anyway."
"Go where sir?"
"You and Weasley are going to pick up the groceries and dairy for today's lunch. Miller, O'Neill, I want you to start arranging the tables. Bloom, Sandton: kitchen. Rafael will instruct you what to do. McNameary, you can take out the trash from last night."
Confident that all would follow his instructions, he walked into a room that hat 'Private' painted prominently on the door. None of the staff were allowed there apart from family members of Mr Walker.
Brian pulled a face and groaned. "Damn, why garbage? I hate that task."
"We all do, cheerful," Monique grinned. "Luckily I get to do the tables."
"I think we got the better deal," Audrey said brightly. "We get to go outside and do some shopping, while y'all slave away in the restaurant. My thoughts are with you poor people," she teased.
"Shut up, Audrey. Just get a move on, okay? Rafael will go bonkers if he doesn't have his supplies in time. You know how he gets."
"Alright, alright, we'll go!" Audrey put up her hands in mock surrender. "Come on, Perce."
Percy followed her outside, hastily grabbing his coat from the coat rack. He shivered in the cold and quickly put it on.
For a few moments, they walked in silence, their coats buttoned up to their noses and a thick scarf around their neck. Finally, Percy could no longer keep his mouth shut.
"So, about last night…" he said tentatively.
"About last night," Audrey repeated.
"Was it, I mean, does it mean anything?"
"Do you want it to mean anything?"
"Yes of course I do. That is, unless you don't want to…" Percy's voice trailed off.
"Hey, do I look like the kind of girl who'd tell a boy she liked him and then take it back the next day?"
"I suppose not."
"Well there you go."
They were silent again for a little while.
"So…" Percy began again.
Audrey stopped. "Percy, if you have something to say to me, just spill it out. Are you having second thought?"
"No, no, not at all!" he hasted. "I just didn't know you liked me that way."
"Right back at you," Audrey retorted.
Percy grinned. "So, you wouldn't mind me doing this then?" He bent forward until his lips touched Audrey's. He didn't know where he'd got the courage from, but presumably from the fact that she hadn't backed away last time he had.
"Not in the slightest," Audrey murmured. Their lips met and she tasted different this time. Not of cacao and spices, but of peppermint.
Slowly and reluctantly they parted. "We'd better get those groceries done," Audrey said.
"Yeah, you're probably right." With a bit of regret Percy let go of her. "Do you know where to go?"
She nodded. "Yes, it's only three streets from here. You know, tradition says that the girl gets to pick the first date." Her eyes twinkled mischievously.
"Is that so? That's not what I remember."
"Hmm, then maybe you need to learn some new traditions. Some of these are very important you see, like what I just said about the girl picking the first date."
Percy shrugged. It was all fine with him, since he didn't know where to take her anyway.
"What would you like to do?"
"We can go see a movie? There are some rather good ones I'd like to see."
"Ah!" it dawned on him. "Like in the cinma?
"You've never been to the cinema," she stated the fact. "I think that's ridiculous and we ought to fix that as soon as possible. Tomorrow, seven-thirty?"
"On one condition."
"And that is…"
"That I get to pick the next one."
The next evening, he was even more anxious than the previous one. Not only did he have a date with Audrey, she was also taking him to a place he didn't know the rules of.
"Don't look so panicked," Audrey laughed when she noticed his face and playfully hit him on the arm. "You'll be perfectly fine."
As they walked towards a big building, Audrey inquired: "How did we do as foster-family for Christmas? I've been meaning to ask you."
"Do you want the truth or a diplomatic answer?"
"Oh, were we that bad?" Audrey's face fell.
"I had a great time," Percy hastened himself to say. "It's just, your family has all these traditions that are really weird and I just didn't get why things were arranged that way."
To his surprise, Audrey started laughing. "Watching movies, singing songs and playing charades isn't weird," she protested. "What would your family do then? Do you have siblings?"
"I've got six siblings," he replied. "Bill's the oldest, then there's Charlie and then me and…" He stopped. Thinking about his family was painful. "After me, there Fred and George – they're twins – and Ron and then Ginny. And at Christmas, we also sing songs, but mostly we enjoy each other's company and my mother's cooking. "
"God, Percy, I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking," Audrey groaned. "I shouldn't have asked you about your family when you haven't seen in two years." She looked very guilty.
"It's okay," he muttered.
"Are you mad?"
He shook his head. "No. It was bound to come up sooner or later. Turns out, it was sooner rather than later."
"You know what? We'll just go the movies and we'll talk no more about it, okay? I feel really terrible right now." She planted a kiss on his lips and Percy felt his knees go wobbly.
Here he was, Percy Weasley, laughing stock of the wizarding community, going to a cinma with a Muggle girl that actually liked him. He didn't know what he'd done to deserve that, but he wasn't complaining. He did knew that if things might get more serious in the future, he would have to explain certain things, but that didn't matter to him now. He was adapting to Muggle life bit by bit, and so far it had definitely not been a disappointment. Percy was determined to make the best of it, even if it took some struggle to get there, he would not falter.