Chapter 1 : ocean blue; as luminous as a star
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A/N: First off, this was written in response to nightmaresandmoonlight's Words, Words, Words challenge over at the forums. Secondly - I can’t tell you how much I’ve struggled with this piece. I was inspiried to write, but I couldn’t put many sentiments into words, ending up writing just for the sake of writing. I did like exploring this ship though – I guess that was why I never really gave up on this. Anyway, please let me know what you think. I'd really appreciate it.
i. His story.
Percy Weasley never expected to fall in love.
He decided very early on that he wouldn’t have the time for a romance in which he would have to sweep some girl off her feet. If it would occur, however, he estimated that it would work in four to five years time, when he would have established a stable career and could take his time to get to know a woman.
Dating was, after all, quite a nuisance and frankly, a waste of time, because when you dated, you never actually told the truth about yourself. It was all a cluster of lies, told to persuade the person you were attracted to that they would be happy with you and when the truth actually came out, it’d be too late to leave. They’d be head over heels.
Percy certainly did not have the time to get to know someone twice. The mere thought made him shiver in horror.
After the war the world stopped. Contrary to popular belief, the thought of going back to work barely crossed Percy’s mind for weeks. And when it finally did, he ignored the bells telling him it was time to return to the Ministry. His family needed him and he needed them.
He spent time at The Burrow, making up for lost time and his heart swelled whenever his mother would regain somewhat of her old self, enough to give him a hug and to tell him she was happy that he was there.
If anything, Percy was loyal. It had, sadly, taken a while (or rather three years) for him to realise where his loyalties ought to have lied all this while. But better late than never, he constantly told himself, trying to make himself feel better.
As it was, real life caught up with him all too soon.
He was asked by Kingsley Shacklebolt to return to the Minstry and help in its reformation, and Percy, after consulting with his father, accepted, happy to take his mind of a reality in which his brother was no longer a part of. It had been a dark period in his life, and he was happy to take a step away from it, looking forward to brighter days.
Brighter days ended up entailing a lot of work and each time he walked through the door to his flat, he’d be exhausted. There was paper work to fill out, departments so corrupted they needed to be diminshed and recreated entirely, and most importantly, there were questionable employées to investigate and deliberate if they had been under the Imperius Curse or not during the war.
It was work such as he had never experienced before and there wasn’t time for anything else than sleeping, eating and occassionally visiting his parents. But Percy wasn’t one to lament the absence of a social life – so he dedicated his time to repair what could be repaired and recreated what was destroyed beyond mending, all the while considering a career choice within the Ministry.
One Sunday afternoon – right around the time Percy had decided that he would just get the idea of meeting a nice woman out of his head for good – his mother asked him if there was anyone special.
“Percy dear,” his mother said as Percy pored over the latest edition of The Daily Prophet, having just eaten Sunday dinner.
He looked up from the page (Minister for Magic Shares: “It will take a long time before the Wizarding Society has put together the fallen pieces.”) and met Molly Weasley’s apologetic gaze.
“What is it, Mother?” he had to ask, because he had never seen his mother so uncomfortable.
“I – I wanted to ask you something,” was her reply and Percy didn’t say a word, indicating for her to continue. “I’m very proud of your work, and you know it, but I’m worried about you.”
“Well, it’s just... When will you have the time to meet a nice girl when you keep spending all your time working?!” she suddenly exclaimed and Percy was taken off guard. He was slightly amused but couldn’t say he hadn’t expected this.
“Mum, I’m only twenty-three years old. I’m not intersted in looking for a girl; I have to make a career for myself before anything else.”
“Well, I think it would do you some good to take your mind off work for a while. You deserve to live,” she said a little calmer and to his horror, his mother’s eyes filled with tears.
He felt himself reddening despite himself, and said, “I’ll keep it in mind, Mum. I promise,” only to soothe her. It did the trick and she gave him a swift peck on his foreheard before taking off with her head held high.
It wasn’t until the anniversary of the Battle, three months later, however, that the day Percy hadn’t expected to happen actually happened. He didn’t think he’d ever be able to uphold his promise to his mother.
It was a large celebration, held at the Ministry by The Fountain of Magical Brethren, where the Minister spoke, as well as other high ranking people. His brother Ron, Harry and Hermione as well as Neville Longbottom had all received Order of Merlin, First Class after the war, but there hadn’t been a ceremony, so it was held now instead, simultaneously.
He was proud of his brother as he watched him receive the honour, and it saddened him for a split second that Fred wasn’t there to later make fun of Ron affectionately. George wasn’t there either – Percy had heard his mother tell his father that George wasn’t going to come due to the large crowd that he wouldn’t be able to handle, but Percy reckoned there had to be another reason as well.
Following the ceremonies, there was a festivity. Dinner was to be served and the mead, as well as the Butterbeer, were flowing freely.
When things started to get boring and he started to get hungry, the course of Percy’s life changed forever.
He was talking to a fellow Ministry employee, a worker in his father’s department. It was a boring conversation and the advice wasn’t what had he had hoped for at all, but he nodded in all the right places as he sipped his Butterbeer absentmindedly.
For a split second, his eyes wandered beyond the man before him, and like a moth to a flame, his gaze locked with the ocean blue eyes of the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his entire life.
She lit up the very air surrounding them, like a bright, bright star, luminous and fierce.
Percy couldn’t avert his eyes; it was even more puzzling when he realised he didn’t want to.
ii. Her story
Audrey Forrester never expected fall in love.
At least not in the near future, never in England, and especially not in London. By the time she was twenty-five, she was sure she had met every single Wizard and Muggle alike and none of them were what she was looking for. Bland, boring, and so out of tune with her that right around the third hour of the date, she was considering pretending to get sick just to escape.
Why couldn’t she meet that man that would sweep her off her feet? What was it that was so undatable about her? Or was it her, was she the one that was too picky? Had she become that woman? The one doomed to end up as a spinster with lots of cats and no social life whatsoever (attending country clubs or book club meetings or whatever the heck old people spent their time doing)?
She was so bloody tired of looking for that right man that she considered living in celibacy, just so that she wouldn’t have the choice.
At least then there’d be a reason why she never could find that nice fellow her mother was convinced was out there for her. If he existed, he sure as hell did not live in England. But Audrey would not tell her mother that. She couldn’t stand the pitying stare.
While the war had affected the entire Wizarding community, Audrey had done her best to stay away from it. She had abandoned her flat in Muggle London, and headed instead far up north, to the countryside, and stayed with her mother.
Life was dull on the countryside, but she was still happy to be with her mother, whom she rarely visited. It was too depressing. The home in which she had grown up wasn't what it had once been.
Her mother, Angela Forrester, once so proud of her home, so fond of keeping it it clean and dustless, lost everything when her husband died. And Audrey, too preoccupied with her own mourning, wasn’t able to deal with her mother’s on top of that, so she stayed away and she hated herself for it.
She hated the look of surprise on her mother’s face the day she knocked on the dark wooden door of her once beloved home. She hated it because it meant that she was lost to her mother, and she wondered if that was something that could ever be fixed.
Her mother said nothing when she saw her only daughter stand by her threshold – she let her in, and gave her a quick hug. Words weren’t enough to fix anything, so they didn’t bother.
Audrey stayed away from London and work for almost nine entire months. Needless to say, by the time she had heard of the Battle of Hogwarts, she was shaking from abstinence. It wasn’t until a week after the end of the war that she told her mother that she had to return to her (non-existent, more or less) life she had left behind.
“Oh... Well, I reckoned you would have to go back any day now.”
Her mother’s greying hair was tied in a bun and her eyes were a blazing blue. Just like her own.
“You realise why, yes? I’ll lose my job and my flat if I don’t start to earn money again. If I haven’t already lost that job... I have to return to set my affairs straight, see where that leads me.”
“I know, I know, sweetpea. You do what you have to do.”
And the next day, after being hugged like they wouldn’t see each other ever again and with a swift peck on both cheeks, Audrey left her mother standing at the threshold with tears in her eyes.
While things weren’t quite fixed yet, there was hope in Audrey’s heart.
That is, until she got home to find what state her flat was in. Apparently, the area of Diagon Alley in which she had lived for the past six years of her life had been blasted into smithereens.
So the new era – because that was what people called it – started with her trying to arrange new living quarters, as well as visiting her boss at the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes, who was not happy with her at all. It was enough to say that she had been terrified of the war and fled before any harm would come her way, and she was offered her old job back.
She soon wished she hadn’t come back at all. With the Ministry having been corrupted entirely by He Who Must Not Be Named and his Death Eaters, it had to be reformed entirely. It meant that not only did Audrey have to so her job assisting her superiors with coffee runs and sorting archives, but she had to work for pretty much every department in different ways.
And that was what she spent time on doing for the coming months, completely engulfed in her work. Audrey wouldn’t complain, however, because working her arse off put a roof above her head and a hot meal on her table whenever she had the stamina to cook, which wasn’t often.
She would visit her mother every Sunday, and slowly, they both plucked the fallen pieces together.
As for a social life with friends and a boyfriend – a price must always be payed, and this was one of them. But it didn't matter. She'd be bored to death, anyway.
But change came her way on the anniversary of The Battle of Hogwarts, and when she would think back on this particular day, she would say that there’s wasn’t anything particularly different when she woke up, ate her breakfast and headed off to The Ministry. She didn’t feel different and if anything, all that she expected was a headache by the end of the day.
When Harry Potter and his three, equally heroic friends were given the Order of Merlin, First Class, she remembered the first time she saw him, at the Sorting Ceremony. She had been in her seventh year at Hogwarts, a promising year. She’d been Head Girl and she had had a bright future ahead of her, with friends surrounding her. Audrey couldn’t remember when that had changed.
When the ceremony was over and people began to mingle before the big fancy dinner, Audrey ordered a bottle of Butterbeer and stood lonely against the wall sipping on it. Not knowing what else to do, she began observing the important and not so important people that walked right past her as if she didn't exist at all.
By the time she was seriously considering leaving, because she didn’t have it in her to pretend that she was actually enjoying herself, something in the air changed. It was suddenly charged, tense, and Audrey could feel someone looking at her.
She found him immediately. His clear, clear eyes were hiding behind a pair of horn-rimmed glasses and his hair was a fierce shade of red. She recognized him right away; Percy Weasley.
The wondrous expression on his face caused her to blush and to her great surprise, what could only be described as butterflies wildly fluttered in her stomach.
In the future, Audrey wouldn’t remember who had been the one to take the first step toward the other; and in many ways, it didn’t really matter. She was just happy it had happened.
By the time Percy and Audrey had been on their third date, Percy decided that falling in love might not have been as bad as he had made it out to be. And he didn’t care if they sugarcoated their personality traits, because Percy wouldn’t mind spending a lifetime getting to know each and every crook and nook that was Audrey Forrester.
As for Audrey – she was just relieved that by the third hour of their first date, she didn’t have to pretend to get sick only to get away. She couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
They shared their very first kiss (there was a taste of forever in that kiss) by the end of their third date, and while they would never say it out loud, never in the years to come, both had realised as they drew back, slightly breathless, that this was the beginning of something huge.
And they smiled at the thought.