A/N: Anyone here you recognize belongs to JKR. I’m just having fun, don’t sue me.
Before we begin, I just want to thank everyone who voted for me for Best WIP for DTR. I was shocked to be nominated, and honored to win. This is an incredible honor. I should thank Arnel, my beta for DTR, and Daily Prophet Reporting, my original beta, both of whom helped me grow as a writer. And of course, I need to thank VinFan, for just being her, and being my inspiration.
Something different. As I was writing DTR, it became clear to me that there was another story that was desperately trying to get itself told, but I just couldn’t justify putting it into DTR, as it would clutter the story up. DTR always was, and rightfully is, an H/G story. This story will present itself as a series of scenes that are part of DTR, and yet not. This story’s plot will follow the same arc, and even take place concurrent to, events in DTR. Events here will be referenced in DTR, and vice versa.
There were many sources of inspiration for this story. I should acknowledge two songs that inspired me perhaps more than anything else. While they don’t appear anywhere, I would be remiss in not acknowledging Terri Clark’s new song, She Didn’t Have Time, and LeeAnn Rimes’, Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way, as the primary inspirations for good chunks of Redefining.
(Wow, this is a long A/N)
This is Penny’s story.
-- -- -- --
Her morning started the same as every other.
The repeated question “Mummy? Mummy? Mummy? ” was punctuated by a sharp poke in her ribs. She rolled over and smiled at her nearly three-year-old son, clinging tightly to his favorite blanket, standing on his tip-toes to reach her. He was looking up at her with his wide, innocent blue eyes. Her first thought of the morning was much the same as it always was.
He has his father’s eyes.
“Mor-nin’?” Arthur said, looking at her, and then looking out her bedroom window at the dawn just starting to break.
“Yes, it’s morning,” Penny said, sitting up and stretching her arms out to lift Arthur up into bed with her. “Good morning to you.”
“Good Mor-nin’.” Arthur giggled.
“I suppose you want some breakfast,” Penny, giving her son a hug.
“Bekfist!” Arthur exclaimed. “I want Bac’n!”
Penny laughed. “There’s no denying you’re a Weasley. The more food, the better, and the worse it is for you, the better. Next thing you know, your Uncle Ron will be feeding you Chocolate Frogs.”
“Choc-lit?” Arthur’s eyes lit up.
“No, no chocolate.” She laughed, and gathered Arthur up in her arms as she got out of bed. “Oof, you’re getting heavy. Pretty soon you’ll be too big for me to carry you.”
“I am big boy!” he exclaimed.
“Yes,” Penny sighed. “A big boy.”
-- -- -- --
“And here’s your mummy, Arthur,” Mrs. Watson, the head of the Ministry’s day care told him as Penny approached at the end of the day.
“Mummy!” Arthur shrieked, running over as fast as his little legs would carry him and throwing his arms around her legs. “Mummy!”
“Hey there, big boy,” Penny said. “You ready to go home?”
“We go home!”
“Are you going to tell your mummy who you saw today?” Mrs. Watson asked.
“Unca Hawwy!” Arthur exclaimed.
“He said he’d been in the building to see Ron, and stopped by and played with the children. He read them a story. It was a big hit,” Mrs. Watson explained.
“What did he read them?”
“One of the Martin Minks stories,” Mrs. Watson explained. “Complete with sound effects.”
Penny smiled. “Good for Harry.” She looked down at Arthur. “Ready to go home?”
“Yes!” he exclaimed happily.
“All right then,” She bent down and gathered him up. He was getting heavy. She wondered how long she’d be able to do this. They walked over to the fireplace, and she took a pinch of powder. “Penny’s Flat!” she called out, throwing the powder in, and stepping into the flames. Holding tight to Arthur against the jarring bumps of traveling by Floo, they arrived safely in her flat. She set Arthur down and he scampered off to play with his toys.
Penny busied herself with preparations for dinner. As she prepared, flashes of conversation from the night before came back to her.
“But it’s not really living, is it?”
“Do you want to be alone for the next century?”
“I’m waiting for a sign, a signal, or anything.”
Before Penny realized what she was doing, she was putting away dinner, and had gathered up Arthur. They Flooed to the Burrow, where Molly was more than delighted to watch Arthur for a few minutes, and Penny walked outside.
She walked out past the Burrow’s garden to the small knoll with the oak tree that stood between the house and the orchard. There, in the shadow of the tree, were the pair of granite headstones that marked Percy and Charlie’s final resting places.
Bright flowers bloomed there. Molly was very particular about tending them. It was quite beautiful, really. Penny knelt down next to Percy’s headstone, tracing her fingers over the letters, as she always did.
“Oh Percy, why?” she sighed. She could feel tears begin to trickle down her cheeks. “Why did you have to leave me so soon?” She laid her head on the top of the polished granite stone. “I don’t know what to do. Percy, I love you, but maybe Ginny’s right. Maybe it is time. I just don’t know if I’m strong enough to let go,” she said softly. “Help me, if you can.”
A twig snapped behind her, and Penny brought her head around, but it was just a squirrel, which stood blinking at her for a moment, before scurrying off through the brush. She turned back to the stone. “Please, I need to let go, Percy. I need to know it’s okay.”
Nothing. No bolt from the sky, no whispered voice. Just the rustling of the leaves in the oak tree above.
She didn’t know how long she’d been there, when she heard Mr. Weasley’s soft, gentle voice behind her. “Penny?”
He crouched down beside her and patted her on the back. “Penny, it’s all right.” Gently, he drew her into his arms, and she cried into his chest. “There, there, my dear. It’s all right.”
Penny tried to calm herself. “I’m sorry,” she hiccupped.
“Nothing to be sorry for, Penny. Nothing to be sorry for.”
Penny sniffled as she stopped crying, pulling back, and wiping her eyes.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Mr. Weasley asked gently.
“Ginny thinks I should start trying to move on,” Penny explained. “And I’m not sure I can.”
“That’s understandable. It’s very difficult to recover from losing someone we love,” Mr. Weasley soothed. “Sometimes, though, there comes a time when we all must pick up and move on, or we risk getting stuck in the past. We remember, but we can’t dwell,” he said, stroking her hair. “On the other hand, when that happens is a decision that belongs to each of us. No one can decide for you.”
Penny nodded mutely.
Mr. Weasley helped her to her feet. “I’ll leave you be, if you want some more time. Molly just wanted me to check on you, and bring you this, in case you were cold.” He held out a faded jumper.
Penny hadn’t noticed how cold it had become since sunset. “I’ll be down in a minute,” Penny said, sniffling a bit. “I just need a minute. Thank you,” she said, taking the jumper and wriggling into it gratefully.
“Take your time,” Mr. Weasley said. “Molly’s watching Arthur and making some dinner.”
“Thank you,” Penny smiled at him. Mr. Weasley paused, and laid a hand on each of the headstones in turn, before turning and walking back down the path to the house.
Penny blinked, and wiped the remaining tears out of her eyes. She fished in her pockets for a handkerchief, and not finding one, sighed, and rubbed her nose on her sleeve. She sighed, and leaned down to leave a kiss on the polished granite. “I miss you, Percy.”
Then she turned and walked back to the house. Tomorrow was Saturday, and she was having lunch with her mother. She also needed to do the cleaning. Her kitchen, in particular, was out of control.
-- -- -- --
Arthur was sleeping soundly in his bed, and Penny shut the door with a soft click after checking on him one last time before going to bed. She sighed and walked down the hall to her bedroom. The bedroom she’d shared with Percy for all too short a time.
She sighed, turning down the sheets and slipping into bed. As was her tradition, she let her fingers trace over the picture of her wedding day that she kept on the nightstand. Then she flicked her wand at the lamp. “Nox.”