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Chapter 1 : Blinds
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"The storm is coming but I don't mind,
People are dying, but I close my blinds.”
- Ingrid Michaelson, “Keep Breathing”
The shabby two-room flat was a hazard to his health, both mentally and physically. Books of all shapes and sizes that had once been neatly placed on the wall-to-wall shelves laid strewn about the floor and onto any flat surface they could reach. Precarious piles teetered haphazardly near the cracked bedroom door, nearly reaching the height of the light switch on the dingy wall. Newspapers were stacked by the kitchen sink and scattered about on the wooden floor, headlines fading in the dim light that traced swirls of dust throughout the air. A cough, and then another cough. The lights had gone on, and he stepped inside his flat with a scowl and curse as a shorter pile of books toppled over and spilled onto the floor.
With a flick of a wand, the books straightened themselves again, and a tie was tossed casually over the arm of a wooden chair that sat perched by the window. The ghastly and annoyingly loud London muggle-traffic filtered through his window. Generally, Percy found it easy to ignore. He spent most of his time in the only other room in the flat which had no windows, and the only noises were from the air duct system (whatever that was) and the upstairs neighbors who had a rather hyperactive three year old son named Benny who last week flushed the goldfish thinking it was dead. Heaven knows if it was… But today, Percy simply could not handle the noise.
The noise ceased, and Percy sat himself on the edge of the wooden chair, rubbing his forehead and creasing his eyebrows. A plate from this morning’s breakfast still remained on the table-top, unwashed with crumbs that created a small trail from the plate to the edges of the table, around the napkin. What a mess his flat was. Whatever happened to being so tidy, his mind chided him. Clean this mess up, immediately, so you may think clearly… Yet Percy had no desire to move from his chair. Perhaps it was the fact that the large, disastrous mess reminded him of home? No. Certainly not. The past few days had been taking a large amount of energy from his being, and he knew he had no desire to set things straight like they out to be. Not his apartment, nor anything else.
Gazing out the window, Percy was startled to find his owl cautiously climbing his way down the piping outside towards his small windowsill. Hs copy of the Daily Prophet and other various letters were stuffed in his beak. “Suppose I should do something,” muttered Percy unhappily. After running a tired hand through his hair, he reached over and released the security locks on the window, throwing it open. The owl tiptoed in, as if sensing that Percy was entirely unhappy today and that it shouldn’t take more time than it needed to before going back to the Diagon Alley owlery. Sound bombarded his ears, the honking of horns and shouting of pedestrians was far too much for a developing headache, so after paying the owl six sickles for the newspaper, the window was shut once more and the silencing charm placed on the windowpane active again.
A new headline, not unlike many others that laid about his flat, yelled in bold print, “Muggle Member of Parliament Missing” and the second headline, in slightly smaller print, curved around the lower corner of the page with a picture of a man whom he had known all too well, “Dumbledore Rumored to Take Over the Ministry?”
He unfolded the paper in his hands and yanked it open unhappily. “Please,” Percy scoffed. “Dumbledore is gone now, is this really necessary?” To be honest, his schoolboy habit of knowing everything had pierced through his cynical humor, and he found himself being drawn towards the article on Dumbledore; he never knew much about the man, in fact no one did, except for Harry Potter. But that was another story all together. Harry Potter was a hot-key phrase in the Ministry at the moment. Say those two names in conjunction with one another and you almost were dragged down into the Department of Mysteries to be interrogated. And to think, his family stood up for him every moment of the way! Didn’t they know, Percy thought with agitation, that they were risking their lives for a seventeen year old boy who had done nothing extraordinary since his second year?
He was always getting into unnecessary trouble, Percy reflected. And he hadn’t done anything at least more productive than saving his little sister’s life. Not anything with visible consequences and reactions. Yes, that made everything better. He skimmed the article half-heartedly, and then saddened by the quality of the writing (which had mainly consisted of pointless gossip about how Albus Dumbledore, the greatest Wizard of the age, had apparently planned to take over the Ministry with a swarm of Hogwarts House-Elves dressed in Goblin armour and armed with Wizard Snapping Crackers) closed the newspaper. Other letters lay forgotten on the other corner of the table, hiding underneath the napkin.
A bright white, thick envelope caught his attention and sighing, he pulled it out from the debris. Curves of brilliant blue ink that spelled out his name and address sparkled in the summer sun drifting through his blinds. “Mr. Percy Weasley, Smallest Flat, Fourth Floor, West London” it read boisterously. His brows furrowed. Whatever could this be for? He slid his finger underneath the envelope flap and pulled out the stocky card within. As Percy read, his expression dropped.
“Mr. Percy Weasley
We are hereby delighted to invite you
To the magnificent Wedding of
We’d be delighted to have
your acquaintance on the
30 July 1997”
His brother was getting married. And apparently, they’d be ‘delighted’ to have his acquaintance. Percy tossed the card stock invitation aside and scowled at the grain in the wood table. “Preposterous. How do they think I can possibly face them, now? Delighted, oh, I’m sure they’d be absolutely thrilled if I showed up on the doorstep…” Often muttering to himself released his pent up energy and frustration, but not today. This was something different; this was about home. The handwriting looked on the card as if it had been forced brutally onto the page; it wasn’t as neat or nice as Percy imagined all the others looking. Perhaps Bill pushed Fleur to write it when she didn’t want to. Maybe it was guilt and formality. Bill must’ve thought that just maybe his little brother would just admit he was wrong and show up.
Wrong? How could he be wrong? Percy insistently told his family for the past two years that it wasn’t safe outside in this world. He had felt safe in the Ministry, up until the point that that Potter boy had gone and ruined everything, breaking glass and shutting down the Floo system in the Ministry. You-Know-Who had been there that night, and it gave Percy shivers up and down his spine. Yet he refused to believe that anywhere was safe but the Ministry. They knew what they were doing, things were efficient and plans were ready-made; unlike Hogwarts where hundreds of students caused chaos at every corner.
Percy stared at the RSVP on the back of the card. “Send owl within a week, please.” Harrumph, Percy would be sending no owls at all, thank you. The other various letters littering the table were correspondence from the Ministry from various superiors and underlings that sought Percy’s advice or held instructions. It was hard seeing brief correspondence on updates from each department to be passed onto the Minister if necessary, but especially difficult when one of them was from his father. Arthur Weasley and his son hardly spoke. Though they saw one another nearly every day in the Ministry going about their various duties, Percy could no longer face his family.
He wasn’t going to his brother’s wedding. He couldn’t face the rest of his siblings, or his mother. Sure, a few nights he had cried, alone in his flat curled up underneath the covers, but that was before he forced himself to be serious and move past everything that set him on edge to focus on the bigger picture. There was a war going on and Percy didn’t want to see any of it.
It was rather difficult to ignore, no matter how hard Percy pushed it from his mind. He looked at the newspapers from over the past two years with the fear instilling headlines strewn about his flat. They all varied in terms of actions, but the message was the same – people were dying. “Derwent Family Dead”, “Hogwarts Security Thought Unsafe”, and then as the dates became more recent…
“Ministry Able To Keep Under Control”
“Dept of Law Enforcement Head Thicknesse says ‘All is Well’”
Percy threw the papers aside with a sigh. All was not well… he had insisted to his family that they should listen to the Ministry; his father of all people should’ve known back two years ago that things were going downhill and the Ministry was safer. Percy would not rest at ease if he knew that Harry Potter was still hanging out with his little brother Ron and placing his family in danger. How many times had the kid come close to death? Several, if Percy counted on his fingers. How many times had the kid placed other people’s lives in danger? Many more. He stood from his chair and swept up the newspapers by the sink with a flick of his wand. The robes he had been wearing were placed on the chair, followed closely by the pin-stripe suit jacket.
A small piece of print, taped to the wall by his faux fireplace, was hit by a peculiar ray of sunshine sparkling in through the plastic blinds. An obituary, one year old, was protected from the weathering circumstances by an everlasting-charm. A tear was brought to his eyes, and he wiped it away. The obituary had largely gone unnoticed in the Wizarding Community. Not many had heard of the Clearwater family, but Percy had. He had been particularly fond of their only daughter, Penelope, while in Hogwarts. It was her face and long curly hair framing low cheekbones and a freckled face on the sheet of newspaper.
Percy remembered Penelope’s sacrifice well. She had gone through many trials and ordeals during their Hogwarts days. She had almost been killed by a Basilisk, but simply petrified and revived towards the end of the year; Percy had nearly lost 10 Galleons to Penelope when the bet against a Slytherin-Hufflepuff match turned out in Hufflepuff’s favor. Thankfully, Penelope had let that one slide, knowing full well that Percy could not afford such an extravagant bet. It was Penelope’s knowledge that she had won and a sweet kiss after the game before Prefect rounds in the drizzle that made up for it.
But Penelope was gone now. Granted, she had broken up with him shortly after the end of the school year. His heart still ached for her affection. And she had been lost to the unsafe world.
Bugger and damnation!
His fingers gently caressed the curls of her hair in the smiling portrait, which waved every so often. His palm was splayed on the wall, forehead pressed against the faux brick. “Oh, Penny…If only you knew…” There was no way he could go out there now; he wasn’t going to go to Bill and Fleur’s wedding and face his parents and his siblings, who were bound to attack him with a vengeance, telling him he was wrong. Not a chance in hell. He was right. The Ministry was safe. People were dying because they were ignorant of the world around them. If Penny had known, she would’ve been safe.
A clock, the grandfather clock his neighbors upstairs somehow managed to cart up to their flat, tolled obnoxiously.
Seven o’clock, pm.
Methodically, Percy walked back to the other side of the room and glanced out the window. The sun was still high, the traffic was still flowing, the heat cooling down like accustomed at the end of the day (when not in a drought). Living soul by living soul, unaware of the world beyond buses and trains and electro-whats-its, walked by below. If only they knew that some of them were dying, not because of sudden heart attacks in their bedrooms which were destroyed by coincidence. If only he could face his family like these people woke up and faced each and every day, innocent and naive. People like his dear Penelope were dying…
Percy closed the blinds.
Written for Dobbyssock's Ingrid Michaelson Challenge. Not many people write about Percy, and when I saw the quote, I knew it fit him perfectly. Thank you for your time in reading, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it and exploring Percy's personality!
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