The Harry Potter world and characters are the sole property of JK Rowling Scholastic, Bloomsbury, and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros, Inc. I make no money from writing fanfiction. It is my own private obsession.
A/N: Many thanks to my beta Jadzialove, for her help with all things Weasley, and holding my hand through the rough patches. This fic is completely canon compliant.
Beta Note: This story was entered in the Sycophant Hex: Deathday Festival, and won First Place Prize.
Arthur Weasley sat in the cold dingy corridor on the third floor of St. Mungo's. He'd been waiting for a while, but it seemed that "waiting" had been something he'd got rather used to over the past several weeks.
The waiting had begun when he and Molly had been summoned to Hogwarts on that terrible night when Albus Dumbledore had been murdered. They had not known, of course, when they'd set out from the Burrow, that the old man was dead, only that one of their own children had been injured. With a dread and numbing panic in their hearts that only a parent could understand, they'd made the journey as quickly as they could. The two of them had finally stood at the bedside of their first-born and stared down at him in horror.
Ravaged by a werewolf who had not even been transformed, Bill had been barely recognizable, but had at least been alive. Arthur supposed that, given what other families had suffered and lost, he should have at least been thankful. But to be honest, he'd very quickly had to deal with a fury that threatened to overwhelm him, mingled with the sharp edge of grief over the loss of a life-long friend. He'd stumbled through that week, trying to put on a face of determination and optimism to shore up the flagging spirits of his wife and younger children. To admit that it had been difficult would be the understatement of his life. He had somehow muddled through to Dumbledore's funeral, brokenhearted, not only by the solemn farewell to the greatest wizard of the Age, but by the sight of his damaged son stumbling along on his fiancée's arm.
With the school year over, Molly had retreated to the Burrow with Ron and Ginny. Fleur was staying in London with the twins, refusing to stray too far from Bill, who had been relocated to St. Mungo's first-floor for further treatment of his injuries. He smiled as he thought of the young woman—she'd been the one bright star in this whole dark affair. Showing a backbone and integrity that none of them had thought her to possess, she'd become an inspiration for all of them, steadfastly maintaining that Bill's life wasn't irrevocably tainted or ruined, just a little sidetracked. Arthur had no doubts that Fleur would make sure that Bill would have the best possible outcome, challenging his moments of self-pity and introspection, lovingly supporting and encouraging every bit of progress that he made. And he was making progress here. It was still not known exactly how the contamination would affect him, but with Fleur as his champion, Arthur was more at ease now, knowing how fiercely she would watch over him. And more importantly, love him.
He'd thought that the worst had been over. But sitting here waiting in the corridor, he admitted to himself, in an uncharacteristic moment of bitterness, that he'd been wrong. His son was close to death, and he felt the carousel of emotions come to life again. As if a switch had been thrown—the shock, anger, and grief all roared to life once more, and he was helpless in the face of this whirling crescendo of sentiment.
"Mr. Weasley, you can come in now." A soft voice pulled him from his thoughts.
He followed the Healer halfway down the hallway, where they turned into a private room that was small and dimly lit. He moved without hesitation to the bed, staring down at the pinched white face as the Healer began to speak.
"It's fortunate he was found when he was. He was almost beyond even our aid. The amount of Sleeping Draught he took would have been a fatal had there been any further delay. As it is…he's still not as stable as we'd like. In any case, he'll be out for at least the next forty-eight hours." The Healer paused. "I'm just curious, Mr. Weasley. How did you know to go to his flat? I've been told that you weren't even on speaking terms. It's none of my business, of course. He's just very lucky that you decided to visit."
Not taking his eyes from Percy's face, Arthur shook his head. "I didn't know. His office Flooed to ask if I knew where he was. It was the second day that he hadn't reported in. I knew instantly that something was wrong." He smiled ruefully at the Healer. "He'd never miss work, you understand. Not unless something prevented him. I was immediately alarmed, and went to check on him myself," he finished, his voice flat.
The Healer moved to stand beside him. "If you want to stay here in the room instead of the hallway, that's fine." When Arthur acknowledged her offer with a vague nod, she moved to the bedside table to pick up an object lying there. "The Aurors who investigated to rule out any malfeasance, given your son's position, found this on the floor by his bed. I thought you might like to see it."
Arthur looked up at her then, and squinted in the low light to see what she was holding out to him. His eyes widened. "Percy's diary? I haven't seen that in years. I rather thought he'd given it up at some point. You know, a school-boy thing."
The Healer patted his arm gently as she handed it to him. "I think you'll find that he was very diligent about keeping it current. I took the liberty of looking at the last few entries." She looked uncomfortable. "I certainly couldn't ask his permission, but given the circumstances…. In any case, I think what he's written here explains quite a bit about his…frame of mind."
Arthur was staring at the book in his hands. It was a dark brown, leather-bound volume, the cover stained and the pages well thumbed. He remembered a time when Percy had never let it out of his sight. The Healer's voice broke into his musing.
"Mr. Weasley," the voice told him firmly. "I think it very important that you have a look at that. For both of your sakes, but especially for Percy's."
He looked up, startled, and then nodded mutely. After fixing him with a rather commanding stare, the Healer bid him a good night and took her leave after one last look at her patient.
He ran his fingers over the smooth leather and the faint gilded outline of the lettering that time had worn down. "A Wizard's Life—Percy Ignatius Weasley". He stared at the title for a moment, then took a deep breath as he found the cold, pale hand lying outside the coverlet. "Percy, it's Dad. I'm here, son." When the boy did not stir, Arthur sighed as he took a seat and pulled it in close to the bed…to wait…again.
Using his wand to slightly raise the light, he opened the diary to the first entry. His heart lurched at the familiar juvenile script. Fanning through the pages, he saw that the Healer had indeed been correct. There were hundreds, perhaps thousands of entries. He supposed that he shouldn't really be surprised. Although he'd been unaware that Percy had kept it up, it was so like his son to be faithful in such a small thing as a daily entry in a memory book. He smiled as he bent in and began to read.
August 22, 1985~~
I'm not going to say "Dear Diary". That's stupid. Bill agrees with me. He's the one that got me this for my birthday, and if he thinks it's a good idea to keep one, then I will. This is the best present I got. Mum and Dad gave me sweets and a new pair of trainers, and Charlie gave me a Quidditch book. But Bill always gives me the best things, and I like the idea of writing in here. Kind of like a friend to talk to, like Bill. I like summer because Bill is here. But in two weeks he and Charlie will be going back to Hogwarts. So it'll just be me and the 'zoo' again. I'll be busy at lessons. And looking after Ron and Ginny. At least I don't have to watch out for the twins. After what they did to me at Easter, Mum knows that's not a good idea. So that's all for now—this is Percy Weasley, nine-years-old today, signing off.~~
Arthur skimmed through the rest of the entries for that year, smiling at the candidness of the boy's entries. It was the usual prattle of a nine-year-old, full of enthusiasm for lessons, his anticipation of going away to school, complaints about his brothers, and even a rant about his parents. But what stood out most as he read, what reappeared time and time again over the months, was the boy's near-idolization of his eldest brother.
June 20, 1986~~
It's today. Instead of making me stay home to help Mum, Dad's promised I could go with him to King's Cross to collect Bill and Charlie! I've already done my chores and hung up the banner I made for them. I was so excited that I couldn't sleep last night. I have a stack of things that I want Bill to help me with. Things and questions that I guess I could ask Dad about, but he has so much to do. Mum's too busy with the other kids, and Dad is always so tired when he comes home.
Bill will have time for me. So will Charlie—I really like Charlie, too. It's just that Bill is more like me, so he understands. We both like books, and talking, and ideas, and numbers, and experiments. Charlie…he really likes games and Quidditch. They're both my big brothers, but Bill…really sees me in a way that the others don't. We even look a little alike. We're both thin, and Bill is tall, and I bet that I'm going to look just like him. We both like books better than Quidditch. I play when Charlie comes home, but only because he wants me to.
I know it sounds like I'm complaining, but I'm glad that they're coming home so they can help watch the 'zoo'. I don't feel right saying that, but Bill said I can write anything in here. I'm tired of always watching them. There are things that I want to do, and Mum doesn't seem to care that I'm doing something when she just up and tells me to play with them, or watch that they don't get into trouble while she's out in the garden. Charlie is really good with the twins—they like him the same way I like Bill.
Mum just seems to scream all the time now. The twins have really been getting to her. She tells me a lot what a good boy I am, and thank goodness that one of us turned out the way I did. I'm not too sure if that's something I should be proud of, but Dad says the same thing too. They have enough on their minds, so I guess it's a good thing that I don't make them angry or worried.
It's time to go. I'm going to pretend on the way that it's really the end of next summer and I'm on my own way to Hogwarts. Wow, I can't wait. But now…Bill! Signing off, Percy~~
Arthur frowned a little as he finished this entry, then rubbed the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. Yes, it was true, that Percy had always been a help with the younger children, but this was the first time he was aware that the boy had perhaps resented it. He shrugged as he thought about this. They'd been a large family, with Percy in the middle. It was only natural for him to be expected to help out with his younger siblings, just as Bill and Charlie had helped out with him. Surely he'd realized this.
He leafed through the rest of the year, noticing that the boyish scrawl was becoming smaller and more distinctive, that the sentences were becoming longer and more thoughtful, and that Percy's greatest preoccupation of that year had been his upcoming departure for Hogwarts.
August 31, 1987~~
It's finally here—tomorrow I get to board the Hogwarts Express with my brothers. My trunk has been packed for days. I've read all my books at least once since we got them two weeks ago.
It's going to be funny getting to see Bill and Charlie everyday, and not see Mum and Dad and the lot like I'm used to. Mum and Dad think I'll be in Gryffindor, but I'm not too sure—it could be Ravenclaw. Bill laughed at that—he told me I’m a Weasley, and that the Sorting Hat would take all of three seconds to figure it out. I don't like that for some reason, like they all know what to expect of me. But Bill is in Gryffindor, so I guess that's where I want to be. He's a Prefect, and he'll be busy, but we'll still be in the common room, and I know he'll be looking out for me.
I'm a little afraid. I've never spent a night away from the Burrow. Dad says it's the first step to becoming a proper wizard, living away from home at Hogwarts. I know they're proud of me, Mum and Dad, because they say so. But sometimes I wonder if the part they like best about me is that I never get into any trouble. Well, whatever, I'm not going to disappoint anybody, except maybe Charlie. I don't ever want to play Quidditch. Bill doesn't play for Gryffindor, so it's not like I'll be letting anyone down if I don't.
I have a list tacked up on my mirror so I don't forget anything. I was really angry when the twins hid it a few days ago, but Bill made them give it back. I hope I haven't forgotten anything. I don't want Mum having to send me a package on my first day there—how embarrassing. Well, to bed now. I want to get a full night's sleep so I do my very best on my very first day—at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Signing off, Percy~~
Arthur ran his fingers absent-mindedly over this last entry as he remembered that day they'd put Percy on the train. He recalled it as somewhat of an epiphany, this tall red-haired, self-sufficient son that had pushed them away in protest as they'd hugged and kissed him goodbye. He'd suddenly realized that the boy was no longer a child, and unlike his brothers who'd hung back rather tearfully their first time, this son had seemed amusingly eager to bid them farewell and get on with it. Once on the train and in his compartment, he'd not even looked out the window to watch them as they waved.
This child had been different from the first two, he recalled. The family had received a letter from him each week that first year, but unlike those of his older siblings, there was never anything in them to indicate that he missed them, or home. They'd commented to each other that they'd known it all along, that Percy would adjust well and turn out to be a model student. They'd expected it, and weren't surprised when it turned out exactly that way.
He read through Percy's first-year, and paused at the entry dated just before the boys were due to come home for Christmas.
December 19, 1987~~
I haven't written in here as much I used to. What with all my classes, I haven't had the time. It's almost the hols now—we go home tomorrow. There's a big party in the common room, but I don't really want to go. Bill's there—everybody likes him.
So my first term is about over, and already, I'm looking forward to the next. I think I've shown them all that I'm not just another Bill or Charlie. The first couple of weeks that was all I heard. "We can expect good things of you, Mr. Weasley, if you're Bill's brother." Or, "The Quidditch team is looking forward to when you can try out, if Charlie is any indication of your Quidditch skills."
It was like being invisible all over again. That's how I felt at home—invisible. As long as I helped out and didn't cause any trouble, Mum and Dad were happy. One day I slept through dinner and Mum didn't even notice. So it was a little bit of a shock to get here and find that all anyone saw when they looked at me was Bill and Charlie. Invisible again.
I've really worked hard—really, really hard. I took on extra projects without being asked, and I've read books for extra credit. And I ask tons of questions. By October, every one of my teachers had noticed me. Me, Percy. Not Bill. Not Charlie. Me. They've stopped saying those kinds of things now. My house will be disappointed about the Quidditch, but by that time, I don't think it will make any difference, because I'm the best student in my year.
I wonder what Mum and Dad will have to say about how well I've done? I'm used to them not saying much, but maybe this time it'll be me they're crowing over instead of Bill or Charlie. That would be nice. And next term, I'll work even harder. I'm going to be somebody. That's it. I want to be somebody, and I will. I know now what I have to do—be perfect. Well, it's a big day tomorrow. Signing off, Percy~~
Arthur frowned as he read the last paragraph. It was disturbing to see that the boy had penned it this way, because how many times had he and Molly said them, sentences with both Percy and perfect in them? They rolled through his memory, unbidden. Percy is the perfect student. Percy's behavior has always been perfect. Percy's homework is perfect. Percy is the perfect brother…perfect son...perfect. Perfect everything. Except now, he was lying in a bed, almost dead by his own hand. The child that had always excelled and had never caused a moment's worry was a memory now.
But then, that image of perfection had been shattered long ago. Arthur shook his head as if to clear it, then started to turn the pages once again.
May 15, 1989~~
Bill doesn't have time for me now. I tried to talk to him a little while ago, and he just about bit my head off. I didn't really need help with my Transfigurations homework, which he probably knew. I just needed to talk.
It really hit me this week, that next year he won't be here. No more studying with him in the common room, or sitting beside him at breakfast, or broom rides just for fun out on the pitch. I really count on knowing that he's here. I know he's worried about his NEWTs—not that he should be. He always gets good grades. He'll do fine, but he still needs to study, so I'm being a prat, bothering him right now. I just hate to think of next year, when he won't be here. He looks out for me. Every once in a while, the others give me a hard time, but he puts a stop to it. Not Charlie. Charlie says I have to learn to look out for myself. Bill says they're jealous because I'm smart, and to just ignore them.
What I really wanted to talk to him about was the twins. They'll be here next year, and I don't even want to think about it. They're completely out of control most of the time. Mum has just given up—I could tell by what went on at Christmas. What are people going to think of me when they start things up? How embarrassing it's going to be. I know that they're going to single me out, just like they do at home. Bill will understand. I'll wait until exams are over and see what he thinks. I'm afraid that they're going to ruin everything I've worked for—the respect of the professors, my chance of becoming a Prefect. They're going to ball it all up.
And next year, when they do, Bill won't be here to help sort things out. That's the worst part of all. It won't be my fault when they get in trouble. I'm not the twins. I just hope everybody remembers that. It took a while for people just to see me as Percy. But the twins could make me invisible again. I can't let that happen.
Bill's calling me to come over now. Signing off, Percy~~
Arthur gave a little grunt of commiseration as he finished this last entry. Yes, Fred and George had always singled-out Percy. Like hounds picking up the scent of the fox, they'd always intuited that he'd reward them with spectacular feedback. No one in the family had been immune to their incessant pranks and teasing, but Percy's reactions, his outraged indignation, had only provided more fuel for their fire. He supposed he and Molly should have intervened, but it had never been serious mischief, as far as he knew. He'd reasoned that they'd outgrow it eventually, but now it seemed that Percy had been more distressed by it than they ever would have guessed. He sighed heavily as he moved on in the diary.
January 23, 1990~~
I've just written Mum and Dad about the twins. They've really done it this time, although I probably didn't even need to write. Professor McGonagall is certain to do it, given that they’re responsible for a student needing to stay overnight in the infirmary. They haven't been after me too much—I think that little talk that Bill had with them over Christmas did some good.
Classes are great! Of course, I elected to take Arithmancy and Ancient Runes—anyone considering a serious career would take them. Those classes are so different than the general ones that everyone has to take. Professor Vector has told me twice that I have a gift for numerology, and I've taken on several upper-level texts that she thinks I'm ready for.
I'm starting to think about what I want to do after Hogwarts. I know it's early yet, but something like this requires careful planning, and the sooner I start, the better. I think I could be a teacher, but only if the students were motivated. Mum has always said that she'd like to have a son follow in Dad's footsteps. I don't know about that, but it's worth considering. The Ministry is a very big place, and there are opportunities there that have nothing to do with Muggle relations.
Bill likes working for Gringotts—they trained him in London, but it looks like they might send him to work abroad. Sometimes, when I'm tired or lonely, I forget that he's not here and I glance up and look around for him, but then I remember…. I do get a letter from him every week. He told me at Christmas that it was my job now to keep up the Weasley's good name, given that the twins seem determined to make a laughingstock of us all. I'd wonder if they weren't adopted, but then, there is the red hair…. Charlie pals around with them, but he just laughs at them. He's no help at all. All the three of them ever think about is Quidditch.
It's funny, but with Bill gone, I realized that I don't have many friends here. He was so popular, and I think I got included in things because he's my brother. But, no matter, I don't have much time for socializing anyway. We have another Hogsmeade trip coming up soon. I have a list of things I want to get at the bookseller. Mum has sent me a little money, and told me not to tell the twins. She knows I won't waste it in Honeydukes.
To bed early. Signing off, Percy~~
Arthur stared at his hands, trying to calculate how old Percy would have been as a third-year. Thirteen, he told himself. It didn't seem like the musings of a thirteen-year-old, already considering his career possibilities when he still had four years of schooling. But then, Percy had always been precocious, and he realized that he just hadn't been aware of how much so. He smiled as he thought of the twins' first year. Yes, it had been rather bumpy, but not unexpected. As much trouble as they'd managed to get into, he'd secretly delighted in their creativity and enthusiasm for novelty. They had come by it honestly, a side of himself that he'd channeled into his own work and fascination with the Muggle world. Glancing back down at the entry, he felt a pang in his heart at the words that signaled how much Percy had missed his brother. There had been four of them in school at the time; that Percy might have been lonely had never even crossed their minds. He read on.
November 20, 1990~~
Charlie and I just had breakfast together. Really, this idea about working with dragons is probably just a passing fancy. It's all he talks about. Well, maybe Bill will be able to talk some sense into him at Christmas. But Charlie's a big star now, with the Gryffindor team being so much better than the other houses. No wonder he can't seriously settle down and think about a real future.
He's been teasing me about Penelope, about us studying together in the library. I don't understand what all the fuss is. We're partners in Potions, and sit together in Ancient Runes and Charms. She's extremely intelligent, and we just like spending time together. All right, so she's a girl, but it's nothing like what Charlie seems to think. I really admire her, and we did go to Hogsmeade together, and I even broke down and went to the Three Broomsticks for a butterbeer.
Professor McGonagall told me it certainly wasn't too early to start thinking about my OWLs, and she even gave me the revision list that she gives her fifth-years. There are some things that we haven't covered in class yet, but I intend to make a head start. One can never be too prepared, and I'm determined to get all "O's". Mum will be so proud. Before we left this fall, she gave the twins a lecture about how they needed to settle down and apply themselves, and she even said that they'd do well to take a look at how I conduct myself and study properly. She told them they could come to me for help, but they just laughed at her. She was cross with them, but I wasn't surprised.
And Dad. I really wonder about him being satisfied with the work he does. It has absolutely no future. How could it? He's nothing more than a human buffer, making sure that the Muggle world stays ignorant of ours. Oh, I know that's important, but to choose that as your life's work? With no possibility of advancement? I would think that he should have thought of this, given that there are nine of us, and his income has never been enough to take care of all we need. Well, we've never been hungry or cold, but there are so many things we've had to do without. I don't think it fair that he never thinks about this. Liking what he does should not be his only consideration. He's a good example of why it's important to plan your future.
The Quidditch game is in a half-hour. I wasn't going to go, but I promised Penelope that I'd sit with her. Signing off, Percy~~
He sighed as he leant back in the chair and stretched his long legs out in front of him. His son's opinion of what he did at the Ministry was no surprise to him. It had been made abundantly clear several years ago when the boy had packed his bags and struck out on his own. But seeing the sentiment set down in black and white, committed to the parchment, opened up a wound that had never really healed. Yes, he'd been hurt by the boy's rather crude assessment of what he'd chosen to do with his life and how he'd provided for his family, but it was startling to be faced with the fact that his son's stance on this matter was much more dated than he'd ever suspected.
He was weary, emotionally exhausted. Looking over to the bed, he caught sight of the steady rise and fall of Percy's chest. Reassured that the boy was holding his own, Arthur closed his eyes. He drifted off to sleep, wondering if perhaps he should just skip to the end to read the passages that the Healer had mentioned. But he felt that he'd embarked on a journey, one that required that he make all the stops along the way. He knew that when he awakened, he'd have no choice but to take up where he'd left off. He sensed that this was the only way he might come to an understanding of what this stranger, his son, had felt compelled to do just several days ago.
August 7, 1991~~
I'm a Prefect. My badge came with my book list this morning. I can't say that I'm surprised. After all, I'm still the best student in my year in Gryffindor, and no doubt it's known that I will take my responsibilities very seriously. Mum and Dad were pleased, of course, and I daresay that the twins are a little nervous, as now they won't have any choice but to listen to me.
I've been spending quite a bit of time this summer outlining my OWL preparation schedule. I'm not going to be caught at the last minute, staying up all night revising, as that could only affect my performance negatively. I don't understand why anyone would choose to do it that way, when all that's required is the proper planning.
I've sent an owl off to Penny to tell her about being made a Prefect. I suspect that she will have been made one as well. She didn't like talking about the possibility last year—said that she didn't want to appear presumptuous. I don't see anything wrong with being realistic about one's strong points. I'm sure she's been chosen.
We'll be going to Diagon Alley next week for our supplies, and I've saved a little money to buy a few supplemental books. I don't think Mum will have anything extra for me this year, as Ron will need everything for his first year. I'm hoping that he will take school seriously, and not follow in the twins' footsteps—at this point, I think he could go either way.
I did notice that, although Mum and Dad were excited for me, Mum didn't make a special dinner tonight, like she did when Bill got his letter. I expect she had too much on her mind this time around. I am anxious to hear what Bill will have to say—I think he'll be proud, and that will mean a lot to me, more than any dinner Mum could make.
Three more weeks till the beginning of term, and then my OWL year. Signing off, Percy~~
Arthur sat back in his chair to stare at the opposite wall, and could not help the groan, "Oh, Percy," as he remembered that day when the boy had received his badge. Of course, they'd been delighted. He remembered pulling the boy into a sincere and hearty hug, and then thumping him on the back as he'd told him how very proud he was. "Following in Bill's footsteps," he'd told the boy, perhaps insensitively, he now thought. It was one of the pitfalls of parenting: everything is so new with the first one, or even two, but then it's so easy to fall into the pattern of everyday life and expectations, and forget that each child is unique and experiencing everything for the first time. By the time Percy had come along, they'd settled into a routine of child-raising, and it was true that perhaps some of the novelty had worn off. Bill and Charlie had still been forging new frontiers, while the younger ones demanded more care and attention. Percy had been fixed there in the middle, always obedient, always successful at what he did, and so their attention had been easily diverted elsewhere. They'd been proud of him, of course, but he'd not received the same attention as his older siblings had. And Percy, always sensitive, had noticed, while they had not.
More determined than ever, now, he pushed on in the diary.
April 30, 1992~~
OWLs are still six weeks off, but I'm going to be ready well in advance. Even Professor Snape remarked to me that he had no doubt that I'd receive an "O" in Potions. That's high praise from him. I've been helping Penny with her revisions—she's not as confident as me, but she'll do fine, I'm sure.
Penny can be distracting, I'm finding. We spend so much time together, for the most part studying. But for some reason, I find myself thinking about her when she's not around—like I miss her. Last week in the library, she came in late, and I was so relieved to see her that I just told her so. She turned red, and sat there looking at me, all strange for a moment. I felt…confused, and all hot…and well, there are some things I won't write down, even if Bill said I should always tell the truth in here. Anyway, when I walked her back to Ravenclaw, there was no one else at the entrance. We just stood there looking at each other, and then it happened. I didn't even think about it. She put her arms around my neck, and then we were kissing each other. I've read about it, of course, but I never imagined it would feel like that. I think maybe Penny knows more about this than I do, because she pushed me against the wall, and I don't know how long we stood there like that, kissing and moving our hands, and touching, and…well, that's enough. But I really liked it, and I intend to read up on this. I wish Bill were here so I could ask him some things—it's not really the sort of thing one can talk about in a letter.
Ron is doing better than I expected. His best friend has turned out to be Harry Potter, an odd little chap. But I wonder about all this celebrity being good for him. One can't afford to rest on one's parents' laurels. Merlin knows I appreciate that. I hope he'll see that he's got to make his own way, and work hard like everyone else. He's a super Seeker, though. Although…I still don't know if all this attention is good for him, especially since this is his first exposure to the Wizarding world.
Professor McGonagall had a meeting with me to discuss my career plans. I thought this a little overdue—there are only two years left to prepare, but evidently fifth-year is when they do this. She encouraged me in my Ministry aspirations—said I'm right on track for an administrative post. She smiled when I told her that I wasn't precisely sure in which department I wanted to seek a position, only that I was certain it wouldn't be in the Muggle Office. She said she had no doubt that, given my brains and ambition, I could even end up as Minister one day. She laughed when she said it, but I didn't—I think it's an entirely obtainable goal. I’m not my father, after all.
Time to meet Penny for revisions. We've taken to studying in the old Dark Arts classroom. It's more private…. Signing off, Percy~~
The father smiled at his son's last line. So…Percy and Penelope Clearwater. He'd known that Percy had been fond of her, but he hadn't known they'd been so close. He tried to recall if he'd ever even talked to Percy about girls and adolescent urges, and had to confess that he couldn't remember such a discussion. Of course, he'd talked to Bill, who in turn had talked to Charlie, but as for Percy…. His smile faded as he realized that, once again, so far as Percy was concerned, some things had been taken for granted.
He looked up as his wife entered the room. It was morning now, and she looked tired and frazzled. He filled her in on the Healer's latest assessment, that they were still in a waiting period, and that he was as stable as could be expected. Supporting her as she leant over the figure in the bed, crying and softly calling out his name, he gently explained that the earliest the boy would awaken would be the next day, if he progressed as predicted. He was out of danger, now, at least physically.
After hustling Molly off to the cafeteria, where they both had a hurried breakfast, he declined her suggestion that he accompany her to see Bill and Fleur. "Tell them that I'll check in on them later. Just now, I prefer to stay with Percy. Bill will understand. I have some reading to do, and I must have it done before he wakes up." When she started to protest, he told her firmly, "No, Molly. I'll explain later, but I really want to stay with Percy. He needs his father right now."
Settled back in his chair at the bedside, he picked the book up from the table and turned to the page that he'd turned down.
July 20, 1992~~
Well, I'm ecstatic, really. Twelve OWLs, just like Bill. That's what Mum said right away, "Just like Bill." So this is great, then. I can take all the NEWT level classes that I planned on, and maybe even an additional elective or two.
The twins are being insufferable. They've managed to secure a stockpile of items from Zonko's, and there's no stopping them. They don't listen to Mum. And Dad…well, I think he secretly finds the whole situation amusing. Six more weeks of this madness.
The best part of the summer has been Penny's letters. I actually miss her—I've been thinking of her a lot, probably too much. I even dream about her sometimes. That's a little disturbing, what happens when I dream about her. But I talked to Bill about it when he was here in June, and he assured me that this is just a normal part of being a guy. So…as long as he says so, I guess there's nothing wrong with what happens to me.
I must owl Penny with the good news. Signing off, Percy~~
Just like Bill. Arthur Weasley stared at the words. Well, yes, he'd been so like Bill that he supposed they had often voiced the similarity. But he'd always thought that Percy had been pleased that he'd resembled his older brother, both in appearance and performance. Perhaps not as much as they'd thought, he realized. He wondered if a little later he might go down and talk to Bill about this. He seemed to have been more aware of what Percy's life had been like than they'd been at the time. Shifting in his chair, he began to read once more.
February 19, 1993~~
Penny and I are "going together". We decided this after last week's Hogsmeade trip. It only made perfect sense, as we spend all our free time together, and both of us being Prefects makes it even more suitable. I think about her all the time, and the way she makes me feel so…out of control sometimes. I can't seem to help it, but Bill warned me that I might feel this way, so I guess there isn't anything to worry about.
Ginny seems to have adjusted well to Hogwarts, although in the past month, I think that all this business about the Heir of Slytherin has made her a little jumpy. I wish the Headmaster would get to the bottom of this—it's very distracting. And the whole thing makes me wonder about Harry Potter—a Parselmouth, no less. Who knows how his upbringing has affected his stability? I'm sure that Ron would never have even considered that stunt with the car in September if Harry hadn't been involved. And Dad was called on the carpet for it. Well, in a way, it served him right—he had no business tampering with the thing in the first place. No one said anything to me outright, but I know they were whispering about it behind my back. How humiliating, to have your father behave in such a manner. I hope this won't affect my chances of getting in at the Ministry when the time comes. Hopefully, they'll look at my record at Hogwarts, and realize that I'm much more serious about my work.
The twins are somehow managing to receive a steady supply of that rubbish from Zonko's. I don’t hesitate to take points from them, even though they're my brothers. Someone has to try to control them—it seems as if I'm the only one. I'm helping Mr. Filch update his list of forbidden objects—perhaps that will help, if they see that what they're doing will land them in serious trouble. But more than likely, it won't make a bit of difference. They seem to think they answer to no one.
The Prefects are making rounds in the evening with the professors. I must get ready for my turn with Penny and Professor Sprout. Signing off, Percy~~
April 15, 1993~~
I miss her terribly. And what is the Headmaster doing about it? Nothing, as far as I can see. I'm starting to wonder about him—his whole comportment in this affair has demonstrated a questionable lack of judgment. It's a wonder the Ministry hasn't stepped in.
She's been in the infirmary for almost a week, and I feel lost without her. This can't be good, to be so dependent on a person, that when something happens to them, you almost can't even function. I'm frantic with worry, and I miss her…I miss us, together. I'm having difficulty concentrating. I must take control of myself.
I go up to see her several times a day, and just sit there, holding her hand. And the Mandrakes aren't anywhere near ready yet.
Ginny has me worried, too. She's always been a little delicate, but I can tell she's not sleeping well, and she just picks at her food. She knows about Penny and me, so I imagine she's upset for me as well. But I don't know what to do to help her, when I'm at a loss to even know how to help myself. I can't write anymore, Percy~~
"Dad, it was only natural that he'd talk to me about things." Bill Weasley looked at his father in concern, taking in his exhaustion and distress. He studied his normally unruffled parent for a moment before continuing. "We were far enough apart in age that I never found him annoying, like I did Charlie. There was no competition between us, and that's probably why he and I were so close growing up." His eyes grew thoughtful. "I didn't realize that he looked up to me that much, though. I guess I should have known."
"You were the best big brother a boy could ask for," his father told him.
"And you were—and still are—a great father. Charlie and I got the best part of you, I think. But it only stands to reason that there'd be less of you to spread around once there were seven of us. You still did a great job with us. Percy…he just got a little lost there in the middle, I think. No one's fault, Dad. And every one of us knew we were loved, and could come to you at any time. For some reason, Percy just didn't. I wish I'd known how he was really feeling about things. It didn't come across in his letters." His eyes darkened. "But it still doesn't explain away how he went off, these last three years."
The two men were silent for a long moment, then Arthur squared his shoulders and smiled down at his son. "Ah, well. I'd best get back. I still have some hours to put in if I want to have it all read before morning." He leaned in and gently kissed the top of Bill's head. "Maybe tomorrow you can come up…after he's awake. We'll wait and see how he is."
December 25, 1993~~
One more week to put up with this. I don't know why I thought the twins would let up a little just because we're home. They've hidden my books, and my Head Boy badge, and only Bill threatening them with canceling the holiday Quidditch nonsense has made them return it all. Bill is the only one who seems to appreciate how much they bait me, both here and at school. He's the only thing about the hols that I was looking forward to—I was sorely tempted to stay at Hogwarts, as Ron did. It would have been so much better, in some respects…except that I would've missed out on seeing Bill, and, oh yes, Charlie.
I told Bill all about my plans to apply at the Ministry in early spring. He seems to agree with me about distancing myself from Dad if I want to make any advancement there. He didn't say that in so many words, but I could tell that he agreed with me, that the name of Weasley at the Ministry has that unfortunate Muggle association, something that I plan to remedy. Of course, I'm expecting that my NEWT results will solidify my plans, and help me to secure something beyond an entry-level position. Dad keeps telling me that he'll put in a good word for me, which I obviously don't want or need. Mum is thrilled by my plans—she seems to appreciate how well-suited I am for Ministry work, and the fact that I could go very far there.
The only thing that bothers me about all of this is Penny. She still hasn't decided what she's going to do when we graduate. Her father expects her to help out with his business in Diagon Alley, but I've convinced her to seriously consider the Ministry. We'd be together that way. I don't know what will happen if she stays with her father—she's become such a part of my life that I can't imagine a day where we don't see each other. Bill and I had a talk about this pressing matter of our physical relationship. For a moment, I thought he was a little amused by the whole thing, but he ended up being very supportive of my decision not to take things to the next level—the complications of such a move. Penny is pressuring me on it, and sometimes I almost can't stop myself, but then I remember that the future must be planned, and not sacrificed to the emotions of the moment. But it's hard sometimes.... We've had some close calls.
NEWTs in June—I'll be ready. Everything is exactly on schedule. I'm excited about getting out in the real world and proving what I can do. I know Mum and Dad always say how proud there are of me. I wonder what they'll say when I rise to the top at the Ministry? That's my plan, after all. And if there's one thing that I've learned, it's that planning and hard work are rewarded.
They're calling for me for dinner. Signing off, Percy~~
Ambitious. That's what he's always been, Arthur thought to himself. He remembered recognizing it the summer the boy had been impatiently waiting for the letter from Hogwarts informing him that he'd been made a Prefect. He'd felt a surge of pride, that the boy could be so self-directed. He snorted to himself. As if he'd been in any way responsible for Percy turning out the way he had. What he hadn't known then, but had discovered several years later, was the fact that the boy had no respect for his own position at the Ministry. He recalled feeling vaguely disappointed. Not that he had anything to be ashamed of, to be sure. He'd chalked it up to Percy's youthful idealism, but now he had a more accurate and disturbing label—pure, unadulterated, ambition. But he was getting ahead of himself a bit. He picked up his tea from the table, then after another glance, in a series of many, at the still-sleeping form in the bed, he turned the page and began again.
September 5, 1994~~
The whole lot of them have gone back to Hogwarts. Now, at least I can have some peace and quiet in the evenings when I have work from the office to do, which is quite often, given all the planning the Department must do for the Triwizard Tournament. Mr. Crouch has delegated oversight of many of the details to me. He obviously puts stock in my abilities.
I had a row with Mum over Dad's little remark at the World Cup. She just doesn't seem to appreciate that a Ministry official is always on duty. He should've been more careful about what he said. Our office is still getting Howlers over the whole affair.
I've been working for two months now. Penny and I occasionally eat lunch together, and see each other every Saturday evening. But something's different, now. We have other things to talk about, and nowhere to go to…be alone together. I miss that, and I can tell that she does too.
Dad and I go in to work together, and it's almost time. Signing off, Percy~~
February 24, 1995~~
Honestly, Ludo Bagman and the school headmasters were given far too much latitude in choosing the tasks. Ron could've been killed. By the time Potter finally pulled him from the water, I was beginning to fear the worst. I know Mr. Crouch signed off on the tasks, but I wonder if he might not have been vetoed when he'd raised his objections, which I'm sure he most likely did. This second one was far too dangerous and irresponsible. And Potter didn't even have the decency to show up on time. What arrogance.
I sat in as a judge, as Mr. Crouch has been out ill for over a month. He sends me my daily instructions, and I daresay he'll be very pleased when he returns and sees how well I've managed things. Of course, it's unfortunate that he's so ill—he hadn't looked well for some time—but it's given me an opportunity to show how capable I am. Someone recently told me how Mr. Crouch lost his only son in Azkaban. I think he might see in me the son he never had—one who chose the right path and worked hard for his future. And I won't let him down. He seems to appreciate my abilities far more than Dad does.
I've had a letter from Bill this week, too. I'll be writing to him shortly, as Penny begged off for tonight. I was disappointed, of course, but there's always next Saturday. I have plenty of work to do—I'll probably go in to the office tomorrow, even though it's Sunday. Signing off, Percy~~
Percy was right about one thing, Arthur mused to himself. He was a workhorse, and anyone in the Ministry would've have been fortunate to have him. But his eagerness to prove himself, in this instance, had given him a blind spot, one that had almost ruined his "career" aspirations.
June 7, 1995~~
It's horrible—there's no other way to describe it. Not only is Mr. Crouch missing, but they seem to think that I should've realized it…as if I were the man's superior. I had no right, nor cause, to question his leave of absence. I did what any competent assistant would've done in my place—I followed his orders and instructions when he sent them in by daily owl. For the most part, nothing ever struck me as odd or inappropriate. There were one or two instances that I thought a bit unusual, but the man was sick, so I made adjustments and corrections. But now…. They feel it's all my fault that his disappearance went undetected for so long.
Even Dad feels sorry for me. He tried to talk to me about it, said that my inexperience, no doubt, allowed me to be misled. I ended that conversation then and there. I told him that the Department of International Cooperation requires that someone keep up the daily work, unlike his department, where the services are not essential ones.
We had words about Harry Potter, too. His participation in the Tournament has been suspect from the beginning, and then he turns up to be the last one to have seen Mr. Crouch? It's all too coincidental. Dad would have none of it, of course. He's as besotted by Potter as Dumbledore seems to be—completely in denial as to his real character, despite the very disturbing revelations recently aired in the Prophet.
They've left me to run the office, just as I have been all along, but now I must clear everything with Minister Fudge, who's been rather decent about the whole affair. At least he knows my name, and surprisingly, Dad's too. I don't know what's going to happen, but it appears, at least for now, that I'm needed more than ever. That may play in my favor when Mr. Crouch returns. He, of all of them, knows just how invaluable I've been.
Time for my daily report to the Minister. Signing off, Percy~~
Arthur winced as he thought about the confusion in the wake of Crouch's disappearance.It had been found, in reviewing the written correspondences sent in by "Mr. Crouch", that Percy had overlooked some very startling evidence that all was not well with his superior. He had either missed this, or chosen not to alert anyone of his misgivings. Arthur suspected that it had been a combination of the two; the boy, in his eagerness to prove his value, had ignored the clues that were so obvious to the reviewing panel. He remembered how Percy had shrugged off his own attempts to provide him with some personal support at the time. But he hadn't realized the depth of Percy's contempt for Harry. He wondered about it, if perhaps Percy resented the attention the boy received without even asking for it. In Percy's world, he thought, it appeared that everything must be earned, and if it wasn't, then it wasn't rightfully due.
He looked at his son still asleep in the bed, saddened. "We loved you, Percy, before you could even speak, or take a step. You never had to earn it at all. So, where did you get this foolish notion?" he whispered.
July 1, 1995~~
It's sheer madness. The Minister is furious, and rightfully so. Dumbledore has gone and told the whole school that He Who Must Not Be Named has returned, and even said his name outright, and then went on to tell them that it was he who was responsible for Diggory's death. Despite Potter's documented mental instability, he insists that the boy's story is true, when it's clear that it was Mr. Crouch's son who was the guilty party.
Minister Fudge is convinced that this is just part of a ploy that Dumbledore has set in motion to take over the Ministry, which everyone knows he's wanted to do for decades. And now, with Potter's celebrity and these obvious fear-tactics, claiming the return of He Who Must Not Be Named, he thinks he'll just swan in and take what he's wanted for years.
Fudge is too strong a Minister to let this happen. He called an all-Ministry staff meeting, where he made it abundantly clear that the rumor mill must be stopped, that Dumbledore has become unbalanced in his dotage, and that serious measures must be taken to prevent wide-spread panic.
I've never seen Dad so angry in my life. It did make me stop and really think things over for a minute. It's been a week, and he still hasn't said a word to me about it, for which, at this point, I’m grateful. I hope he's seriously reconsidering his loyalties. It's clear to everyone that Potter's unbalanced, and Dumbledore—as powerful a wizard as he is—has been blinded by his obsession with Potter and his own dated ambitions.
I do feel badly about Mr. Crouch. He was a true ally here.
I'm anxious to see what Bill will have to say… He's always been able to talk sense into Dad. I know Penny is very upset about all of this too—we have our usual date on Saturday, and I'll be able to reassure her a little. I have every confidence in the Minister. Signing off, Percy~~
Arthur stood at the bedside, anxiously watching as the Healer used her wand to shine a light in Percy's eye, her thumb gently retracting his upper eyelid. Stepping back from the bed, she looked at him, taking in the diary that he held open against his chest.
"You've read it, then?"
He shrugged his shoulders. "I've been reading almost non-stop. I still have a little ways to go," he told her tiredly.
"Ah, I see. You're not to the end, then?"
He shook his head. "No, not yet. Just a little further to go." It suddenly came to him that time might now be of the essence. "How is he? Are you telling me that he'll be awake soon?"
She took her own turn to shrug. "He's out of danger, as I told you this morning. And he's much less obtunded now. I think you have a few more hours. Shortly after daybreak." She studied him for a moment. "Will that be long enough?"
He lowered the diary and thumbed through the remaining pages, noticing that the remaining passages became increasingly shorter as they neared the end. "I think so—he seems to have abbreviated his entries from here on out. I'll have time," he said softly without looking up.
"Good. I'll leave you to it." She walked to the door, then turned back to add, "And Mr. Weasley? From what I read there, I think he loves you very much, despite anything that's happened between the two of you. He's made some mistakes, I'm sure, but he's twenty, and has his whole life ahead of him. He can get past this, but he'll need you there."
He gave her a sad smile. "I've always been."
Before he started reading again, he made a more careful inspection of the remaining pages. Not only were the entries shorter, but Percy's clear and precise script became noticeably irregular and almost sloppy in comparison. It's Percy unraveling,Arthur thought to himself, his lips set in a grim line as he leafed back to where he'd left off.
July 7, 1995~~
I'm on my own now. I'm staying with Penny till I find my own flat. She's had her own since the spring. Thankfully…because I don't know where else I could've gone. I think I've found a place, just a room, really, but it's all I need.
Dad and I really had it out. I thought they'd be happy for me, and if he'd just let it go, I wouldn't have said all the things that I did…that I really wish I hadn't. But the minute I told them about my promotion, he went off. On and on: how they're just using me; how they want me because I'm naïve; how they can use me to spy on their stupid little secret society. As if that's even important. The Ministry has better ways to find out about things than using a Junior Assistant to the Minister.
He made me so angry, that I just told him everything: how no one respects him and what he does at the Ministry; how his lack of ambition has kept us poor for years; how his aligning himself with Dumbledore and his ridiculous Order was going to get both of us sacked, or worse, if he wasn't careful. It's so damned frustrating! How can he not see what's happening? And to think that he believes that they'd promote me for a reason like that, just illustrates how oblivious he is to my contributions at the Ministry. Well, that was it, really.
But I cried that night. Even though they're wrong, they're still my parents. And I'll always love them. But some things go deeper than blood, and I just can't stand by and let them ruin my life for a fantasy. Merlin, I was furious, at everyone—at Dad, at Dumbledore, at Crouch, at Potter, at Fudge, and even Bill. And I don't know exactly why—why I'm stuck in the middle of all of this. Why can't Dad see the truth? Bill is coming soon—I hope he can talk some sense into him. The worst was Mum—she cried while I was packing, asking me where I was going, begging me to think about what I was doing.
But I had no choice, really. So why do I feel like I've done something wrong?
I'm finished here. Signing off, Percy~~
August 20, 1995~~
Bill's here, and has joined the Order. So, that's that. What's worse, he came to see me, on the pretext of being concerned, and then proceeded to try and convince me of all the things about which the rest of them are so deluded. I listened to him, out of respect, but I felt like there was this huge hole inside of me. They've all bought into it, and I can't begin to imagine why all of them have lost their senses. The Prophet and the Ministry have explained, to almost everyone's satisfaction, what has happened. So why are they so hell-bent on following this madman's hare-brained fiction, when it will only bring them all to ruin? I can't explain it—I’m done with them. But Bill… I never would've thought he'd be taken in by it.
I have my own flat now, and of course, Penny has hers. We still spend our Saturdays together. If I didn't have her, I don't know what I'd do
Signing off, Percy~~
He remembered when Bill had returned from his visit with Percy. Shaking his head, he'd told his father, "He's beyond my help, Dad. He listened, but he's bought the Ministry propaganda, lock, stock, and barrel." Patting his distraught father on the back, he'd added, "Percy's got his pride, Dad. He'll eventually come around. But it will take something huge to convince him, I think."
December 25, 1995~~
Well, today has been rough. I spent the day alone. Penny invited me, but I really didn't want to go and have to answer questions about why I wasn't with my family.
I had a roast chicken of my own, but wasn't very hungry. And no presents—I sent Mum's back. Given how things are, it didn't seem right to accept them. The rest of them want nothing to do with me, I know. Dad looks right through me at the Ministry, and Ron never replied to my letter of congratulations when he made Prefect. And I've not heard from any of the others, either.
They're no doubt still pursuing their convictions that He Who Must Not Be Named has returned. It was obvious at Potter's little trial in August that Dumbledore's gone completely over the edge. So, if that's who they're looking to, well, there's nothing more to say. I'll be here, ready to forgive them all, when they finally come around. But until then, I must look out for myself, and my future, as no one else will do it for me.
It's funny, though. Sometimes I have flashes of…fear…and of…wondering, what if they're right? It's irrational, I know, but I have to admit that this is really out of character for Dad…and Charlie…and…Bill…. And I wonder, why am I the only one who sees it? And that's when I'm afraid. That it's me against them…because that's not how it should be. And why can I see things that all of them can't see? Am I really sure that I'm right? But it's not just me who sees it. It's the Ministry and the whole rest of the Wizarding world, too. They can't all be wrong, can they?
Oh shut up, and go to bed. Signing off, Percy~~
He scanned rapidly through the entries of the next six months, until he found the one that he'd been looking forward to reading, the one set in mid-June that he knew his son's integrity would demand that he write, the one where his son would admit, finally, that he'd been wrong.
He was surprised at its brevity.
I've been off sick for two days, but tomorrow I must go in. I must.
The Ministry, and Minister Fudge, were wrong. I was wrong. He Who Must Not Be Named has returned, and I'm humiliated. And what's more, I'm pathetic because the fact that he's back isn't my biggest concern. It's my family, and how they are probably waiting for me to come and beg their forgiveness.
I can just picture it—Dad and my brothers will listen, but they'll never let me forget it. They'll never take anything that I say or do seriously again. And Mum will just want to smooth it all over with a good, home-cooked meal. And Ginny…I don't know, and I don't care. Really, I know that's what I should do, but for some reason, I just can't. From the start, they all expected me to fail, and now that I have, none of them will ever respect me again. I don't have to put myself through that…I won't do it, full stop.
But I should, I know. I'm angry, so angry with everyone right now. All I've ever wanted was to work hard and make something of myself. I trusted the Minister, because, really, if you can't trust the highest authority in the Wizarding world, then whom can you trust? I've been betrayed, but I see now that I still have to get up every morning and go to work, because no one's going to take care of me now. Or if they do offer to take me back, there'll be so many strings attached that I'll be miserable. They’re probably all laughing at me—Percy and his overblown ambitions. Well, I may be down, but I’m not finished. I'll go to work, and see where the wind will settle me. Fudge is out, but the new Minister is going to need a reliable assistant, and perhaps my hard work will recommend me.
I'm disgusted, truly disgusted, with myself, with the Minister, and with my family. None of them have even tried to contact me, so I know what that means. They want to see me crawl.
When hell freezes over. Signing off, Percy~~
Arthur realized that he'd clenched his fists tightly around the book. He didn't know exactly what he'd been expecting, but it certainly wasn't this. Then he looked over to the pale face of his son, and knew that he still had some distance to travel in his reading, to bridge the gap between the angry and remorseless young man in the diary, to the one here in the room with him, who'd finally despaired of life itself.
August 14, 1996~~
Penny's gone. I tried to talk some sense into her, but she just stared at me, and asked me how I, of all people, could bear to still stand behind the Ministry, when they've misled us and made fools of us all? She wouldn't listen to reason. And now she's gone. It didn't matter that I love her.
I have no one, now. She was the only person who really knew me, besides my family. She thought I was clever, laughed at my jokes, and even slept in my bed, but now she's gone, too. They've all gone.
I wasn't enough. And I probably never could've been, even if things hadn't turned out the way they did. She would have eventually seen it. It was just a matter of time. She said she'd seen that I can't think for myself. She's probably right.
Arthur frowned as he finished. He'd had no idea that the two of them had been this intimate. He also was alarmed that, for the first time in over ten years, the boy had failed to sign his entry. He wondered at what this might mean.
Christmas Day, 1996~~
I saw them all today—it's just as I thought. They've written me off, except for Mum. Not that she doesn't count, but it was Dad, and Bill and Charlie that really hurt. All of them…against me. I hadn't wanted to go, but when Scrimgeour learned that Potter would be there, there was no talking him out of it. And I couldn't exactly fill him in on all the facts of our estrangement. He would see that as a weakness, and I need this job.
This is worse than last Christmas. I haven't even eaten, but I'm not hungry. I think I'll just go to bed. I can't help but think of what they're doing right now. They're all in the sitting-room, listening to the wireless, a game of chess in one corner, and Exploding Snap in the other. There's eggnog and sweets, and laughter and shrieking. Then, one by one, they'll get up and stomp up the stairs for bed. Mum always made Christmas nice for us. I do miss it, actually.
I was going to go in to work tomorrow, but I've changed my mind. I could do with a lie-in, I think. I'm twenty years old, and I've never had one—it's about time, I think.
He felt tears stinging at his eyes, and swiped them away impatiently. This should never have happened; the boy should never have had to spend the day like that. But then he remembered Percy's demeanor when he'd been there with the Minister: cold, uncommunicative—almost haughty. At least that's what they'd assumed it to be. Well, he'd been wrong. Bill had been wrong, as had Charlie and the rest of them. Only Molly had welcomed the boy. Percy had been wrong, too, though.
For some reason, they'd all been wrong. But now…now it seemed so unimportant.
March 5, 1997~~
Had a letter from Mum today. Shocking news. Ron was poisoned on his birthday. She thought I might hear of it and be worried. No, Mum, you're the only one who writes me.
He's all right, though. Seems that Harry Potter saved himself another Weasley. That's the third one, come to think of it…Ginny, Dad, and now Ron.
Maybe I was wrong about him. And I can't say that I agree with how Scrimgeour is trying to get him to back the Ministry. It's what they do so well there, using people for their little agendas. Listen to me. You'd think I wasn't the perfect little Ministry sycophant. What they don't know can't be used against me. As long as he's satisfied with me, I'll progress, and I plan to. It's all I have now. I don't feel like writing about it anymore. They have enough of my life Monday through Friday.
It's Saturday, and I'm missing Penny, wondering what she's doing. I owled her several times in the fall, but never received a reply, so I stopped. I got the message. Not that I blame her for anything. But Saturdays are the hardest days because I remember the things we used to do…how we were. I'm going back to sleep, I think. Maybe later I'll go into Diagon Alley, but probably not.
He started scanning the dates again, knowing what he was looking for. Most of the entries were now comprised of only one or two sentences. Then his heart froze when he found it, and saw the first word of the paragraph. This was the beginning of the end, then. He was sure of it before he even read any further.
June 5, 1997~~
FUCK IT! Fuck it all. It's all fucked. I can't really see any point in writing this, but damn it, Bill gave this to me, and it's the least I can do, since this is all about him anyway.
I just saw him. The Minister was the one who came and told me, even before word got out about the attack on the school. I didn't even hesitate over what to do—I went directly to Hogwarts.
I wasn't sure the Aurors would even let me see him, but Madam Pomfrey told them it was all right. There wasn't anyone there but Fleur, and she didn't look too happy to see me. But Bill, oh God, Bill, well, he's ruined. I could barely recognize him. And stupid me, all I could do was just stand there, gaping at him. I thought for a minute that I was going to faint—my ears closed, and then I thought I was going to throw up. Fleur got me a chair, and I just sat there, stunned, while she told me what had happened. I can't believe this, I just can't, can't, can't believe that this could happen to Bill. And all I could do was sit there and look at his face, his face that doesn't look anything like him…. He was asleep most of the time, and I should've left then, but stupid, stupid me, I wanted him to know that I'd come to see him. How could I not go? It was Bill, for God's sake. Bill.
But the worst part was when he woke up. I told him how sorry I was, and he just looked at me and didn’t say a word. Until I got up to leave, he finally said, "Your Ministry did this, Percy." And then he turned his face to the wall.
I ran out then, down the steps, and to tell you the truth, I don't even remember how I got home. But, oh God, this didn't happen. Oh please, I wish it hadn't happened. How could this happen?
But he's right. It's the Ministry that did this to him. Fudge, Scrimgeour, and every single one of us that works there that refused to listen to the truth, and then, once it was known, were so helpless to address it—we are all responsible. But especially me. Percy Weasley is responsible. I lived with the most honest man in the world my whole life. And then I decided that he was a joke. So, now, it's time to face the music, Perce, because you're as guilty as the Minister on this one.
And to top it all, Dumbledore's dead. The only one who'd had a clue. What was I thinking?
The truth was there all along, Percy, you imbecile. But all your plans were threatened by it, so you just decided to ignore it. Great thinking. What a prick I am.
My family's right; I'm a self-absorbed, self-righteous little twit—I just didn't know it. There's so much damage here that I know can never be fixed, things that can never be forgiven. But that's all right—I don't deserve to be forgiven anyway.
I may just quit my job.
He realized that he'd been holding his breath as he read, and he let out a long exhalation at the last expletive. He desperately regretted now that they'd not contacted Percy about Bill's injuries, but he hadn't really thought that it would matter that much to the boy. What a mess, he thought to himself. If I'd been there and seen his reaction, it might have made a difference. Yes, it would have definitely made a difference, because he would have known in that instant that the boy still had a heart, a heart that wasn't the cold stone of ambition and pride that he'd assumed it to be.
June 8, 1997~~
Went to Dumbledore's funeral. Made the mistake of going into the office, and then couldn't get out of going. It doesn't really matter now, though. I'm not going back there. Ever. I just don't care about anything anymore. I've requested my holiday time, and given the family circumstances, they really couldn't deny me. But I'm not going back. I have two weeks before they'll be looking for me. By then, I'll have decided what it is that I have to do.
I saw Bill. Fleur had to walk him on her arm. It was pitiful. And afterwards, when I waited while Scrimgeour was off talking to Harry, I came face to face with him. And he looked me up and down, and then right through me, and walked on.
That's it. Nothing more to say. I want to sleep, is all.
Arthur swallowed painfully. It suddenly occurred to him that Percy's fears, with this last meeting with his brother, had been realized. He'd become invisible again.
They had judged him and set him aside, and then had gathered together to share and support each other in their grief, with hardly a thought for this renegade of the family, this prodigal, who had so desperately needed and wanted to come home, even if Percy himself had not known it.
There were not many entries left now. Just a few scribbled lines, undated and unsigned. Grimly, he forced himself to finish.
God, what day is it? Not that I really care. Just get up to go to the loo, and get a drink of something, then back to bed. That's all I'm good for.
I had a dream. We were all at the Burrow, playing Quidditch. Bill had the Quaffle, and I was a Beater, and I hit the Bludger as hard as I could, and then his face just exploded. And when he fell, and everyone was huddled around him, I kept saying over and over how sorry I was, but they all ignored me…like I wasn't there…invisible.
I’m tired of this, and I don't see any way out of it. I can't even imagine going out of the flat again. All I can do is sleep, but I always dream something awful…even sleep won't let me get away from it anymore….
I think I’m getting sick. I have a fever, and I can't eat at all. And I think I must have pissed myself somehow. I'm disgusting, but who cares…..
Enough of this. I know what I have to do….
His eyes widened as he saw that the next entry was addressed to Molly and himself. This must have been what the Healer had been talking about. Feeling an overwhelming need to be near his son as he read it, Arthur stood and walked to the bedside. After taking one last look at Percy's face, he reached down with his free hand to take hold of his son's. Hefting the diary up to better make out the wobbly writing, he began the final entry.
Sorry, don't know the date~~
Mum and Dad,
If you're reading this, then it means that I've finally managed to get something right for a change.
I'm really sorry about Bill and Professor Dumbledore. You were both right all along, and I’m sorry that it took me so long to figure it out. I know you've always thought that I was pretty smart. Well, smart about some things, I guess. I really messed up this time, in a big way.
Saying I'm sorry will never be enough. Not with what happened to Bill. As part of the Ministry that refused to acknowledge Voldemort's (not afraid to say his name now) return, and then once we did, couldn't do much about it, I imagine I may as well have been one of the Death Eaters or Greyback—we did as much to help him come back as they did, by refusing to face the facts, and then not taking adequate measures to stop him. It's too late for me, now. I can't live the rest of my life, knowing that I'm responsible for what happened…to Bill…to everyone.
I love both of you, you know. I just seemed to forget that I did for a while, and I even believed that you didn't love me, too. Well, not you, Mum. But I know it now, so that's what's important. I do think it'll be better if you don't ever have to see me again, and be reminded all the time that I was a party to what happened to all of you.
Please forgive me for this last bit of selfishness, but I don't think there's anything left that I could ever do to make up for it all.
Give my love to everyone, including the twins, and Harry.
Signing off, Percy~~
It took Arthur a long time to compose himself. He finally stood and tucked his handkerchief back into his pocket, and then took a walk in the hallway to find one of the staff members. After borrowing a quill and an inkpot, he returned to Percy's room and settled in his chair with the diary again—this time, not to read, but to make an entry of his own. He sat and pensively watched through the window as the sun rose. Then with his thoughts finally in order, he bent in to write.
He had just finished, when the figure on the bed began to stir. Moving quietly to the bedside, he placed the diary to one side on top of the coverlet. Percy was moaning softly, thrashing his head from side to side on the pillow. Taking one of the restless hands in his own, he spoke softly to his son, "Percy, wake up, now." When the boy didn't seem to hear him, he tried again. "Percy, it's all right. Wake up, now. It's Dad. I've been waiting for you." This time the boy became completely still, and Arthur held his breath until the blue eyes opened cautiously, peering out at him in confusion.
"Dad?" the boy croaked, his voice dry and raspy.
"Yes, I'm here, Percy." He put an arm behind the boy's shoulders and lifted him slightly as he tilted a glass of water to his lips. "Here, have some of this, then. You've not had anything for days." The boy hesitated, then obeyed, never taking his eyes from his father's face.
When he'd had enough and rested back on the pillow, he was staring at Arthur, still confused, but with fear in his eyes now. His father held his gaze, until finally Percy turned his head to the side to look away. "I'm still here, I guess. Sorry."
Arthur had to work to swallow the lump in his throat before he replied. "Percy, look at me." When the boy did not comply, he walked to the other side of the bed and pulled up a chair, so that he was sitting directly in the boy's line of sight. "I'm very sorry, too, Percy." He reached out a hand to move the hair from the boy's eyes.
At his father's touch, Percy closed his eyes for a moment, then said when he opened them, "I suppose I owe you an explanation…for what I did," he said rather tonelessly.
Arthur shook his head as he lifted off the chair just enough to reach over to snag the diary from the bed. Percy's eyes widened when he saw it and his father told him, "I think I have it all right here, Perce."
The boy looked from his father's face to the diary, and then back again. "You read my diary?" he breathed, his dismay apparent. "All of it?" he queried, as an afterthought.
His father nodded solemnly. "Percy, I'm glad I read it. I think I understand, now. All those years…all the things that you never talked to me about." His voice was thick with emotion now. "I'm still not sure why you didn't talk to me about some of it, but I see now why it might have been difficult for you to come to me. And for that, I'm truly sorry. I let you down, son, and left you on your own because you didn't seem to need anything from me. That was my fault." He hesitated for a moment, then added softly, "There's good pride, and there's bad pride, Percy. I think you and I've had a little of both kinds."
Percy stared at him for a long moment, tears tracking down his cheeks, then shook his head. "But I was stupid, to believe what I did…and…and for not believing what I should have," he finished in a whisper, still watching his father's face.
Arthur smiled slightly. "Ah well, if I had a Knut for every time I was stupid, Percy, we'd live in a manor, now, wouldn't we?" He sobered suddenly. "You weren't responsible for what happened, Percy. Let's put that to rest, straight off. As for the rest of it, none of us have had an easy time of it, yourself included. We'll need to talk some things out." He glanced pointedly at the diary and raised an eyebrow at his son. "But for now, all that's important is that you know how very much I love you. You, Percy. I see you, even though you've doubted that I ever have. Not Bill or Charlie, or what Percy can do. Just Percy." When Percy flushed at his words, he reached up a hand to caress his cheek. "It won't be all smooth sailing, Perce. But we'll get through this. Your life is far from over, and if you want to continue at the Ministry, I'll do whatever I can to help you. If you're interested in something else, there is challenging work that needs to be done, and your help would be valued and appreciated."
Percy seemed stunned by these last words. "You mean for the Order?" he asked, incredulous. "I don't think that after what happened, anyone would ever trust…" he faltered.
His father held up a hand. "You're wrong on that account, Percy, but we'll talk about it later. For now, we need to get you up and home to the Burrow—Mum won't have it any other way."
The boy's eyes were glistening with tears. "I don't deserve…and what about Bill?" His voice shook with emotion. "He won't want…." he stopped as he heard a movement in the doorway.
"I won't want what, Perce?" Bill asked as he walked to the bed, supported by his mother. Nodding at his father, he looked down at his brother in the bed. "Dad's right, Perce. We've all made mistakes." He leaned in to ruffle the boy's hair, and used his fingertips to brush away the tears on the cheek. "We’re Weasleys, mate. And you're my kid brother. No matter what you've done, or what you decide to do in the future, I'll always be your big brother and I'll always love you." He repeated, "No matter what. All right?"
Percy struggled to sit up in the bed. As his parents and brother gathered and put their arms around him, they heard his muffled reply. "All right, then. We're Weasleys, after all."
When he settled back on the covers, and his visitors had pulled up chairs all around him, his glance fell to the diary still on the coverlet. "I can't believe you read all of it, Dad. Some of it was, well…embarrassing." There was a ghost of a smile on his pale face.
Arthur took up the book and showed him the very last entry. "But it's finished, Percy. See here, I've made the very last entry. Just in case you're ever tempted to doubt what I've told you this morning, I've put it all down for you here." He opened it for Percy to see the last pages that were penned in his father's handwriting.
As Percy took it gratefully and hugged it to his chest, Arthur had one last bit of instruction for his son. "I think that diary is finished now, Percy. The end of an era, you could say. I think it's time you had a new one."
The boy did smile, at last, when his older brother chimed in. "Perce, you have a birthday coming up, don't you?"