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Chapter 1: lion's pride
There was just something about it--knowing everything was happening on a single surface, everything under those tangled constellations high up in the indigo sky--he could make, for a moment, life become at once a very thin thing, a sphere of light-catching, and something very safe. Something small. Mistakes passing quicker than the blink of an eye on a being so very, very small.
Small comforts, small. Besides the only one--that people, some people had survived--small comforts were the jewels of the earth. A warm fire, an armchair, a worn inkwell, a half-used ream of blotters. And beyond that--all that that ranged beyond the particulars of living, like breathing, there were notions and ideas, as much air as they were, that were stronger than anything--a lion’s pride, a family’s name, a piece of bait and the desire that followed. These things most of all.
It was not easy now--had Percy really ever known ease? Only in the glance that passed between his mother and his father, the way they could all sit together arguing and everyone knew no one really meant it. And Percy had, perhaps, ruined everything. That, that most of all…had been easy.
It was not easy now, to look over the stone and the rubble and see life traces. To close his eyes and see nothing but a blank stare, to feel the crawl of guilt and anger stinging at his throat, to feel everything behind his eyes but to be, at least now, unable to produce any tears. It was not easy to listen to the rhythm of defeat, louder, clearer than victory: your fault, your fault, your fault, your fault.
And it was not easy, being back. No feast to welcome him home--love interrupted by a horrifying blow, caught somewhere, suspended, midair. Before him. There was a crack in his glasses and if he looked hard enough it was true that anything could be fixed; if he squinted, looked out of one eye. But there is a great irony, Percy thought, a derisive laugh escaping him at a time that demanded no derision, in that the things irreparably broken are not things, but ideas.
Imagine that! The lion taught them wrong, after all. A lion’s share is worth nothing, nothing at all, and what is worth everything is something that you cannot take, and you cannot gather, and you cannot steal. It is not yours because you are noble and brave; it is not yours because you are pursuing the path you believe, you apart, you alone. It is yours, given to you, only once, and when you break it--
Percy struggled to say the word--surrounded as he was by family, by the essence, the cornerstones of everything he had ever…he had once believed in, it would not surface in him. It would not surface from him. Could you be damaged, like that, so internally because of things that happened outside of you? Could you revert, when you left everything, to something less than you were then, once, when everything was good? Is yesterday truly something that is never again?
Love. Love. Love. Say it, Percy! Say it, you blundering fool, you idiot son, you unworthy brother! He formed his lips; he steadied his breathing; he went to speak; and there was nothing there. Nothing he could say--there was nothing he could say.
He imagined what Fred might say--Fred would come to him, Fred would say See, Perce, this is why we can’t give you nice things! And they would laugh, and George would laugh, and Ron would probably be eating something and Mum might tut from over her cooking and Dad--
It was Dad. The father, in this story, welcomed back his son. And more than anything at this moment, the castle arcing still in a heavy, stationary pulse, while nothing had landed and everything was here, on this side, in this middle, and it was now, now, now and healing was a thing of a future one could not see in this decapitated bastion, there was nothing else that Percy wanted than for life to be one story.
One story, under the stars, in the midst of millions of other stories, everything on an equal plane of importance; so that nothing stood first, so that nothing hurt more, and that there were other things to diminish in point his naked soul.
a/n: this is a gift for Laura, and I hope that I treated Percy Weasley in a way that's pleasing to your attuned taste!
If you notice a lot of Descartes behind this, it's because there is a lot of him here.