Chapter 1 : That Night
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“You know what we should do tonight?” the ominous words flew out of Lee Jordan's mouth in a careless, mischievous way and Percy Weasley lifted his eyes from the depths of his sherry with a wary expression, knowing that it couldn't bode well. He was currently sitting in the Leaky Cauldron with his brother, George, and his annoying git of a companion wondering how he had been tricked into slithering out of his quiet home at all.
The Leaky Cauldron was busier than usual tonight, due to several Ministry employees wanting to let off more steam from a hard few weeks of non stop work. Percy recognized many familiar faces in the hazy smoke from cigarettes but he hadn't made an attempt at making polite conversation with any of them, finding it dull and a form of intense torture. They didn't bother looking upset about it either, he'd been able to bitterly note and he found that little bite of reality unwelcoming.
“What should we do, Lee if you don't mind me asking?” it was George asking of course, looking completely full of life for a change and causing Percy to blink rapidly, thinking that he were seeing double. Fred was dead though and that smile his brother was flashing, though eerily like his twin's was not his and he flicked his eyes back to his glass of sherry, wondering if he could drown...
“Let's go to a strip club.” Lee proclaimed with a thunk of his beer bottle onto the old wooden table surface. They'd grabbed a booth in the back that offered only the slightest of privacy against the hordes of strangers and acquaintances flooding in and Percy suddenly wondered just how soon he could leap up and get out the door— “It'll be fun. I know this great place in Muggle London that will really make you appreciate the female form,”
George snickered a little, slumping comfortably into his seat before glancing at Percy with only the barest flick of worry. He felt irritated by it but he wasn't himself, “I don't know, Lee, it might not go over well with Angie when she finds out about it.”
Lee groaned in aggravation before running his dark hands over his dread locks, which to Percy trailed along his shoulders like thick, brown ropes. Though he was probably the most irritating person aside from his brother, the man had been through quite a bit and Percy knew that that beer he'd drunk tonight would cost him. “Don't you keep any sort of secrets from Angie, George?” he grumbled, fingering his beer bottle now and making Percy wonder how soon he would ask for another. And another. And another.
Percy noticed quite a few things about people now but he tried not to judge his brother's friend, knowing that everyone dealt with their demons in their own way. “Not if I want to sleep with her, I don't.” George replied, making Lee laugh and nudge him in the ribs, the two of them looking like the good friends that they were.
Jealousy gripped him at the thought that he had never quite had a real friend, not even at Hogwarts or the Ministry and he banished it, hearing his brother's friend say. “Ever since you two got married and had a baby, you're no good to me anymore, Georgie.”
That only made George laugh, his cheeks flushing just the faintest bit pink. Percy had never really seen him blush much, even as kids but if someone mentioned his undying love for his wife, then his face would predictably turn red, “Don't be jealous. Someday you'll know what its like to have a wife and kid of your own,” his brother said with a contented sigh.
Percy felt a little smile forming because he knew that George and Angelina hadn't had the easiest of time coming together. Though his brother had been, in his opinion, quite dense when it came to his feelings for the girl, the War had really brought them together in a way that made him both lonely and very happy for them.
“Uragh, don't get me started. Alicia is hinting at moving in with me, she already moved in some of her shit without asking,” Lee complained, looking quite pitiful after he took a long, hard swig of his beer.
George's eyes took in the sight with a furrowed brow and Percy knew that he would have something to say about it later in private. Lee wasn't nearly as comfortable or as inclined to Percy and he didn't blame him, “You've been dating her for an entire year, Lee. Of course she was going to bug you about moving in, unless you're trying to say you're not really into her anymore?”
Percy mentally rolled his eyes, longing to go home. He found it both boring, embarrassing and annoying to listen to the two of them go on about their relationships and happy moments, “Don't get me wrong, I love Licia, I really do. But I guess I'm just sort of not into the idea of moving in yet, its a completely different thing from just crashing at her place,” Lee was saying to George, looking worried.
George shot him a look, causing Percy to wonder if he had said it out loud and he shrugged his shoulders stiffly. Chatter was breaking out in the Cauldron though but Percy was still able to hear his brother saying confidently, “How do you think I felt when Angie finally moved in with me? I thought she'd leave the next night!” Lee laughed and Percy died a little more on the inside. “You'll be fine, if there's anything you're really worried about,” he nudged his friend's beer bottle a little with his finger, making Lee frown, “talk to Alicia. She'll appreciate that better than you, say, crying in a corner alone.”
“I suppose you're right.” Lee said after a moment, looking pained. Percy had no idea how his mind worked but the three of them were silent for say, five minutes (Though he hadn't said anything) before he asked again, “so you guys wanna go to a Muggle strip club?”
George roared with laughter, thumping his friend on the back and Percy glanced down into his glass of sherry. “I don't care, I'm up for it. What about you, Perce?” he asked, his tone deceptively innocent.
Percy flinched a little, knowing that his brother was up to something and he narrowed his eyes on him a little. He pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose for a distraction and Lee merely heaved a weary sigh, knowing that he was a bore, “I'm not at all comfortable with the thought of...”
“So you want to come? Brilliant!” George interrupted brightly as Lee hopped up with far too much enthusiasm for someone his age. Percy glared up at his younger brother but he was too busy slapping a few Galleons onto their table, looking pleased about something, “come on, don't just sit there, or we'll leave without you!”
Lee looked slightly hopeful about this and Percy shot him a look, wishing that he could tell him that he didn't exactly like spending his nights with him either. After watching George maneuver himself out of the booth, Percy did the same, glowering and wondering just how quickly he would be able to get away from them both and get back home. “Great! I've taken you there before, haven't I George?” Lee asked to his brother.
George nodded, looking impishly delighted and Percy groaned in irritation. He had a very bad history with strip clubs and anything else of the like where scantily clad women were running rampant and he despised his appetite. “Yeah, me and Oliver before Katie found out and confined him to the house for two months to take care of the babies,” his brother answered.
Percy knew that their friend Oliver Wood had a rather controlling wife and two twin girls that usually made him wince with sympathy. They were demons straight from hell and he saw himself glancing at Lee, wondering if he would ever doom them all by having children with his girlfriend, “If the two of you don't mind, I'll make it home on my own.” He found himself saying.
George shot him a warning glance not to move and Percy stupidly found himself staying in place while Lee looked between them curiously. There was no way that he knew of his issues and why his younger brother found himself taking care of him a little too often and there was an awkward pause before his brother said, “Let's get out of here,” and motioned them out of the pub.
Percy glared at him but it did little good because Lee was already heading for the door, looking as if he had a sway in his hips. Annoyed by the sight and damning them both to the pits of Hell, he confronted his brother furiously as they stepped out into the warm night air, Lee leading the way and apparently knowing his way around. Muggle London was bizarre and despite his fascination with all of the strange things he saw, like the cars and traffic lights, he snarled at George, “What sort of game are you playing?”
George angled his head at him curiously, brown eyes flashing. There had been a time after Fred's death where seeing that light in his eyes had devastated him but Percy had managed to fight his grief down, knowing that one brother was gone and would never be coming back, “Look, Perce, when was the last time that you went out and actually had some fun?”
Percy paused thoughtfully, recalling that he had spent some time going over a few fresh bits of parchment that Hermione had given him. But by George's standards that wasn't at all fun and he hadn't been finding the thought of putting quill to parchment all that thrilling either, “George, you know that I'm not ready for this. I'm not...in my right mind since I've come back.”
“Don't I know it? I let you live with me for months before Freddie was born. I think I know all about your weird little habits and your amazing six pack abs,” George said in a rush and Percy rolled his eyes, wondering why he had been spying on his nighttime habits anyway. “I'm honestly worried about you, all right?”
Percy felt guilt coil itself around his heart and he couldn't meet his eyes, knowing that he would see nothing but worry and pity. “You don't need to be worried about me. I'll manage somehow,” he found himself saying after a moment of turning corners and trying to keep up with Lee's eager strides ahead of them.
George sighed wearily and it was the first sign that he was irritating him and Percy spent a moment looking down at his feet. Cracks in the sidewalk led to every which way, offering various chances for escape but he couldn't force himself to give in to temptation, “Percy, who are you trying to kid? You're walking around in ratty old robes, you're not enjoying yourself at work even though you managed to snag the Undersecretary to the Minister job again, which is, by the way the reason me and Lee took you out tonight in the first place.” Percy opened his mouth to protest but his brother went on. “ And don't even get me started on the fact that you twitch and flinch whenever we look at you.”
All of his faults and problems fell on him all over again and Percy felt each word pierce some private, nasty place in his chest. “....I'm not certain that you all want me back, to be honest.” He found himself saying while watching Lee swaying around on the sidewalk up ahead, either from intoxication or just plain weirdness, he wouldn't know.
“Percy, you were gone for half a bloody year off to Merlin only knows where! How do you think Mum and Dad felt? How do you think...how do you think I felt?” George demanded out of him angrily, forcing Percy to look at him. It was like looking at their father and it made him recoil, privately wondering just how horrified he would be to know that, “neither of us were right after Fred died but you and I got closer and you left me.”
Percy felt his face paling drastically and his stomach knotted painfully at what he had done to him, knowing that he could never take it back. After Fred had died, he hadn't been able to function, he hadn't been able to stop blaming himself and for the life of him, he hadn't been able to call George by his own name and that brief dabble into madness wasn't something he wanted to experience again.
But it was there, lingering and swirling in his mind and when he had abandoned his family again to escape from the pain, it had only intensified. Fred was dead. No amount of traveling, debauchery or drinking would ever make that untrue and he had slunked home with defeat hovering over his head, knowing that he had failed.
Somehow, if he had died in that explosion and Fred hadn't...he wouldn't be around to see his family suffering so badly. “I..I'm sorry, George. You know that, don't you?” Percy found himself asking desperately as he looked into his younger brother's face.
One thing about George that he had always envied and loved was the fact that he was perhaps the kindest person on the planet. “Perce, its all right. I don't think I'll ever get over that or, you know, missing Fred as much as I do but you're the only stuffy git of a brother that I've got,” was George's reply as he gave him a clap on the back, followed by one his kind smiles.
Percy's heart lifted slightly at the reassuring words, hoping that the others could at least lie to him. Bill and the others had welcomed him back of course and while he had never been too close to his siblings, it was all the more evident now and he had no idea how to fix it. “I'm not nearly as stuffy as I used to be.” He muttered, knowing that the things he had done to try and ease his pain had made him into something like a caricature of his former self. It made him sick to think about it, “and I'm really not enthusiastic about the idea of going to a strip club.”
George burst out laughing as they managed to catch up to Lee, who had, during their conversation kept on plowing on ahead. They had walked around corners, passed by rundown building with no gaudy sign announcing their destination so far, “Perce, you're probably the only man I know that will say that with a straight face.”
“I have my reasons.” Percy said stiffly and that only made his brother laugh all the harder and he glowered. He enjoyed the sight of a naked woman as much as the next man but he wasn't healthy...he wanted to go home...he wanted to sleep and pretend that when he woke up, his life wouldn't be as empty as it actually was.
Lee had suddenly stopped up ahead in front of decently sized crowd and that stopped George from replying. “Oi! Over here!” the git said crazily, waving his arms around as if drawing attention to them was the best thing to do, considering that Percy was the only one dressed in Wizarding clothes for the night. “Come on then!”
George gave him a fond smile as they walked down to meet him, chatter and laughter coming from the crowd of, whom, Percy noticed, were mostly men. A few reluctant girlfriends were looking around and eyeing everything with obvious distrust and the fact that he was dressed in old, ratty robes didn't make them feel any better.
“What's up with that guy?” Percy heard one of them mutter and he felt a tad self-conscious, not knowing much about Muggle clothing the way Lee and George did.
“So is this the place from last time?” George asked, drawing Percy back and nodding at the building directly in front of them. There were no bold, gaudy letters here and he watched his brother send his friend a doubtful glance, “looks like a dump.”
Lee was rubbing his hands together excitedly as the crowd moved forward, thuggish looking men barring the doors. “Yeah, its the right place. You probably weren't paying any attention,” he said to George, who nodded in agreement as his thoughts were usually with Angelina. “Come on, with a name like that, why would you think that?” he asked impishly, pointing up towards a large, sparkling red neon sign with the name Bare Back flashing brilliantly.
Percy took one look at the name and snorted, though panic was boiling in his gut. He should not be here...that name was enough to give him the sort of nightmares and dreams that he had forced out of his mind months ago. The last thing he needed to see was a girl gyrating around in barely any clothing and Merlin—why on earth was he thinking about it and getting excited?
“Muggles can come up with the neatest things.” George whispered to Lee while fishing out a few of the acceptable notes from his trousers that Angelina made him carry around just in case he needed them. “Angie told me all about how the little numbers work last night.”
Percy inched over to him, his curiosity for Muggle things over weighing his panic for the moment. “Curious” he said to his brother, while Lee snickered.
“You like Muggle stuff don't you, Perce?” his brother asked him teasingly, holding up a note.
Lee grinned as Percy's eyes unwillingly followed the little scrap of paper. “You can put that in the girl's panties you know.” At his splutter, his brother's friend roared with laughter, “maybe you can get a free lap dance.”
Percy had had enough of those to last a lifetime. “Why are you trying to tempt me?” he snapped, though his eyes were following the crisp note as his brother waved it underneath his nose. They were making onlookers stare, “I know only a bit of Muggle things from Hermione and that's not nearly enough,”
“If you go in and have a good time, I promise I'll let you have Angie's old hair dryer,” George said to him, waving the crisp underneath his nose. Percy smacked his hand away while Lee roared with laughter, “Hermione might have taught you about neon lights and all that rubbish but a hair dryer is where the real magic happens.”
Percy didn't really know what a hair dryer was but he wanted to see it. “You're not nearly as clever as you think you are,” he snarled to his brother, who only laughed. Turning sharply away from him and thinking that Angelina had the steel and nerve of a warrior, he said tightly, “I can go into this...place without being bribed, thank you George.”
“You sure? There's a lot of ass in there.” Lee said to him doubtfully.
Percy frowned as they moved forward in line. “I can handle that as well.”
George whistled. “Really, Percy? You know what a woman looks like naked?”
“And that means without any clothes,” Lee said smartly.
Percy's eyebrow twitched as George went on. “Or nightgowns or garters,”
“Or stockings,” Lee finished.
Percy glared at the two of them furiously. “I have more experience with naked women than either of you two need to concern yourselves with.” At that, they roared with laughter, obviously doubting him and he didn't blame them, not really. The only girl that he had truly dated and lost was Penelope Clearwater and at the thought of her, he felt his heart slow down with misery but he wasn't going to think about her or how they had ended.
While George and Lee busied themselves with wondering if he were joking or not, Percy felt his body coil with more apprehension. They were nearing closer to the front doors and he could hear the loud thump and bump of strange music inside, causing the fine hairs on the back of his neck to stand up and he couldn't for the life of him escape.
George would only be disappointed and Lee already thought he was dull so that was no real loss but he didn't want to make his brother upset, he had to pretend that he could do this. He had to pretend that he was stable in the head, “Here you are,” George surprised him by saying as he paid for the three of them with his Muggle money, a man suddenly in front of them.
The Muggle counted the bills, nodding them over for a moment before resting his eyes on Percy and quirking a brow. “You know the uhm, special clubs are somewhere else right?” he asked and while Lee snorted with laughter, Percy glared at him so heatedly that he actually paled before shrugging awkwardly, “er, whatever. Have a good time,”
George clapped him on the back rather hard as the Muggle opened the door and allowed them to step inside. “Whoo, look at all that ass,” Lee said as they walked further in, various girls flouncing around in what Percy swore was nothing but string, “Its like heaven,” he said to them with a grin.
That only made George laugh but Percy was distinctly unsettled. It smelt like cigar smoke and liquor and as they walked deeper into the depths of the place, he heard chips and bits of Merlin only knew what crunch underneath his feet on the carpet.
It was louder in here too as a very energetic man toyed with two gigantic wireless machines in the back, looking half mad as the horrible music pumped and pounded. It grated on Percy's nerves and was a racket but Lee seemed to be enjoying himself as he forced them towards the first row of seats near the stage, ignoring his protests. “Best seats in the house. You get to see all the goods in great detail,” he said to them as they squashed into uncomfortable seats.
George appeared more amused than interested in the array of female flesh prancing around and he said with a shrug. “The only goods I want to see are Angie's. She's gained some weight too, which is just fine by me,” he said with a lascivious grin and Percy rolled his eyes.
“Careful, she might be pregnant again,” Lee warned.
Percy rather liked the idea of being an uncle again, though he already had both Victoire and Freddie to keep him occupied. Counting that oddity Teddy Lupin and he spent a lot of time with small children and honestly adored them, “I think she is but I'm not sure. I'll wait for her to tell me,” George was saying to Lee, looking pleased.
The two of them soon got into a conversation on that and because Percy didn't feel like being hit over the head with their happiness and cheer, he looked around a bit more. There were men and women everywhere, crowding other tables, the bar and any other available space. Percy heaved a sigh, ignoring them as George said, “I'm hoping for a girl this time round if she is pregnant—” to stare at the stage before them, wondering why it appeared more like a sacrificial altar.
He didn't necessarily approve of these sorts of places. It was contradictory that he would feel this way when he had been to more than one or two or three of these establishments over the years but his old sense of stuffiness had refused to let his disapproval fade completely.
What could possibly bring a woman to this point? The men that came here were as lost and empty as some of these girls appeared and he took some of them in discreetly, noticing that as they served drinks and chatted that their was sadness in their eyes. No wonder he had enjoyed coming to these places, then.
Percy frowned thoughtfully at this, ignoring Lee and George as they laughed and politely declined getting a drink from a waitress that was dressed in nothing but thin fabric and glitter. It made him very uncomfortable and he shifted in his seat a little and as he did so, he felt a prickling sensation on his temple...something that made him uneasy and he flicked his gaze around warily.
People were chattering around him but that prickling...he looked past the stage, noticing that gaudy red curtains were set in the back. He was just able to make out a pair of brown eyes staring at him quite rudely, the lights flashing around the room making them visible enough and highlighting what could only be a woman's face.
Percy felt his eyebrow twitching, wondering what he had done to catch this sort of attention as the person stared and stared and stared some more. Well. That wasn't very polite and he watched, growing steadily irritated as the girl poked her head out to look all the harder at him.
Percy shuddered and decided that he would ignore her but when he turned away, he still felt it. The girl was still looking at him and he frowned in annoyance, glancing back to see that she was still there, not even blinking. Just as it was becoming unbearable, something else seemed to spark in her mind and she vanished behind the curtain, “What's wrong, Perce?” George asked him, having noticed him stiffening up.
“Nothing,” Percy said dismissively.
Before George could answer, there was a strange sound and the stage lit up before them, suddenly ablaze with multiple, dizzying colors. Lee whistled lewdly as a pretty Asian girl sauntered out from behind the red curtains and into their line of vision, the light dancing around her and creating a wickedly wondrous sheen on every inch of her skin.
She was carrying a frilly black fan in one of hands and as she moved, her long black hair trailed playfully down her back, inviting fingers to play and twirl. Music was pumping and oddly, Percy heard none of it, “Well, shit,” George said eventually, looking mildly impressed.
Percy gawped in outrage, unable to believe what he was seeing. It was the girl. The Muggle girl that had been staring at him! She was their entertainment tonight and she was wearing barely anything at all, blowing kisses and winking, sauntering around with pure abandon.
“Bare Back is proud to present for your pleasure...the Bad Taste!” the strange man at the giant wirelesses said and Percy's mouth suddenly felt dry. The girl was perhaps the most beautiful thing that he had ever seen in his life and he felt an immediate, unsettling reaction to her. It was the steely set of her shoulders, the hint of bare breasts beneath her top...the length of her legs...all of it was swirling around his head and he could barely breathe.
“You all right, Perce?” George asked, nudging him in the shoulder.
Percy nodded jerkily, feeling his eyes taking in every movement the girl made, her actions so confident and brazen that he was sickeningly captivated. Her eyes were flashing with delight, the lines of her face delicate and reminding him of a faerie that he had seen once at Hogwarts...wicked and sweet all at once.
“What a babe,” Lee said with a wistful sigh. Percy had to agree with him on that, “And I'm so into Asian girls too. Its a shame that Licia holds my heart and balls.”
George rolled his eyes in exasperation. “Would you shut up?” he snapped to his friend while the girl moved forward with sensual determination towards the pole.
Now that Percy could see her more clearly, she was younger than he would have thought and he felt a spark of disapproval. She was so beautiful...too beautiful to be here, in a place like this and he watched her with wide eyes as she did tricks and spins that he would never in his life see again, “Whoa, how'd she do that thing with her leg?” George asked to him, ramming his elbow into his ribs.
Percy shrugged as he watched the girl twirling and spinning on the pole against all odds, toss her fan into the air and hang upside down. The crowd cheered loudly as she somehow caught it between her teeth, her chest heaving and sweat rolling over her skin, “Isn’t she amazing?! Keep it going Bad Taste, you’re knockin’ them dead!” the crazy man at the giant wirelesses cried.
“Pretty energetic isn't she?” Lee asked in obvious delight as the men cheered and went wild for her. Percy felt suddenly sweaty and nervous, “Merlin, I hope I'm not salivating.”
George had been watching the routine curiously, though with no sign of interest. He was much too in love with his wife, “You already are mate,” he said and that made Lee laugh.
Percy couldn't speak. The girl was laughing and giggling madly on the floor now, having slid from the pole with a move that had nearly made him blush, it had been slightly disgusting but he would have felt like a fool to look away. “She's got some good moves. I'm going to try and get Licia to do that thing she did with her leg for me,” Lee was saying to George, waggling his eyebrows.
“Merlin, trying to give me nightmares?” George cried with a revolted look.
Percy ignored them, watching as the girl pranced and bent down with a cheeky smile at the audience and gathering up the bills that were eagerly being thrust at her. All that pretty tanned skin on display made him intensely uncomfortable and he watched as she rolled around, still doing tricks and laughing all the while until, somehow...she came to be in front of him.
So close that he could look into her face and see every little bead of sweat on her skin and .it was horribly erotic....and he couldn't breathe. “What's your name honey?” she suddenly asked after taking the black fan from her mouth.
Percy couldn't open his mouth to answer her to save his life and she grinned at him in way that made him nearly snatch her from the stage and into his lap. This was not good. Never in his life had he had this sort of reaction to someone before and he felt an uneasy bolt of heat go down his spine, “It’s Percy! Perce, she likes you! Oi, my names Lee!” his brother's friend cried, briefly gaining her attention.
George was thumping him hard on the back and Percy couldn't breathe, he couldn't stop staring at her. She was so gorgeous that it made every bit of him ridiculously, achingly ha— “I’m George Weasley, this is my brother!” he cried to the girl, laughing.
The girl was still getting cheers and hoots but she was giving them all of her attention and Percy still couldn't even speak. She was looking at him so strangely, as if she would eat him alive and he sort of wanted her to— “Gonna say something Mr. Percy Weasley?” she asked, her voice sounding like a husky purr.
To his shame, he blushed.
George roared with laughter and Lee had doubled over in his chair.
A curious look passed over the girl's face and she stared at him for a moment longer, coming to a decision. Percy was unable to even move away as she suddenly leaned forward and pressed her mouth against his—delicious. Delicious. The word fluttered brazenly in his mind for several seconds, his mind wanting to memorize the curve of her lips against his before she moved away, George and Lee barking like animals.
This was not good.
“Merlin, you lucky ass bastard!” Lee was saying enviously to him as the girl went about the rest of her routine on stage, doing the sort of movements that made his jaw, which had already fallen open, fall even harder. George pushed it back up, “What'd she taste like?
George gave his friend a stern look. “Lee, you've got a girlfriend remember?” and Percy didn't really care what else he meant by the words and why Lee suddenly looked so peeved because he was watching the girl on stage. She was taking off her top and he was staring at bare breasts and wondering how many licks it would take before he could get to her— “and anyway, Percy's speechless! He can't tell you shit!”
Percy was in agreement on that as the crazy wireless man in the back suddenly crowed, sounding as if he might be swooning. “And there you have it! The Bad Taste!” the girl took a bow before scrabbling for more bills that were thrown her way, giving a little wink and then sauntering away, hips swaying.
The entire club felt as if it were about to explode. Percy was still transfixed and horrified and more aroused than he should have been. “Should we stay to see some of the other girls?” Lee was asking George in a weirdly nasty way.
“No, I think you should take your ass home.” George replied casually, as if all was well.
Percy snapped out of his thoughts and perverse fantasies before realizing that he had company and from the looks of it, it wasn't going well. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Lee demanded now, standing up from their table and looking down at his brother as if he might hurt him.
That caused Percy to frown, wondering if he should take out his wand because he would hex him to death if he hurt George. Instead of looking alarmed by his friend's outburst, his younger sibling simply stood and met him eye to eye, ignoring the hooting men around them, “Look, you're drunk and you know it. You need to go home and talk to your girlfriend instead of fantasizing and thinking that these girls are what you need,” his brother said.
There was a very ugly pause and Percy watched as Lee opened his mouth, looking as if he were about to say something extremely cruel. Instead, what he did say almost hurt as much, “Not everyone can be as perfect as you and Angie, all right? And if I remember correctly, the two of you weren't even speaking after she put your ass in St. Mungo's—”
“You're going too far—” Percy stood up abruptly, noticing how George's face had paled. About a year ago, his brother had gone to see Angelina at a party and what had been intended to be, in his opinion some sort of confession, they'd ended up dueling and hurting one another pretty badly. It had torn him apart, thinking that the woman he'd loved had inflicted a curse on him and put him in St. Mungo's.
George's eyes lowered for a moment, shielding his hurt but he pushed Percy back as he moved forward, Lee looking as if he had made the most horrible mistake. A few men were looking at them curiously, some staring at Percy's clothes before sensing that a fight might break out, “What I have with Angie isn't perfect. We're as flawed as anyone else.”
“George, I didn't mean—” Lee started anxiously.
Percy glanced around at some of the curious patrons and felt his body hardening. This wasn’t the sort of conversation to be having around Muggles, even drunk Muggles, “Go home, Lee.” George said softly, his tone not even laced with rage.
Lee opened his mouth to say something else, thought better of it and turned sharply on his heel and retreated, vanishing into the mass of the crowd. “George?” Percy asked his brother quietly, noticing that his eyes had gone bleak, in the way that they had when some memory of Hogwarts or Fred twisted at his heart, “let's get you home.”
“No, no,” George said so softly in a way that made his own heart ache. “I don't want to go home...I can't let Angie seem me like this, my hands...” his brother said to him, holding them up so he could see.
Laughter and chatter and the prancing of scantily clad women seemed suddenly very far away as Percy stared at his brother's hands. They shook from past trauma, whatever he had seen at Hogwarts during the Battle being so terrible that he carried it around with him all the time, the tremors barely noticeable unless he was upset. “George, Angelina would know what to do.” Percy said to him calmly, though the look in his brother's eyes was enough to nearly make him cry, wishing that he could be stronger for him.
George shook his head a little, lowering his hands and clenching them tightly until Percy placed a hand on his arm to get him to stop. “Angie worries about me enough. Sometimes I think she loves me too much. I don't want to make her upset, she's been so happy lately,” he whispered as Percy continued to lead them away, hunting for the exit.
“Listen, George, if you keep everything that makes you upset bottled up the way you tend to do then you'll only hurt Angelina. Don't let what that prick said about you get to you, you know that what happened was an accident,” Percy said firmly, his tone so commanding that his brother looked at him immediately, eyes flickering.
George nodded, though it looked like it pained him to remember. “I said some stupid stuff and Angie shot a curse at me for it...I didn't mean what I said.” He whispered, “when I told Lee about what happened, I thought that all this time that he understood.”
Percy scowled, wondering how soon he would be able to wring the little prat's neck. Seeing George upset was like watching the sun go out, “Lee's not in the place that you're in because he doesn't want to be. You know what you want and I'm pretty sure Angelina will love you no matter what you do, she forgave you for what happened and you forgave her, don't dwell on it.”
George stared at him for a very long time after that, so long of course that Percy began to feel a tad uncomfortable. His words were true though and he was certain that he would not get along with Lee after this and would have the urge to punch him if he even dared to open his mouth, but his brother was so kind, he would most likely forgive him in moments. “...Perce, you're my one and only.”
“What?” Percy asked, startled.
George batted his lashes at him, giggling. “Merlin, you're too sweet!” he said, looking as if he might be blushing and Percy rolled his eyes, finding him the most absurd, loveable creature in the world right now. “I feel so much better!”
Percy frowned at him, noticing that a few people were eyeing them weirdly. But then again, the fact that George was squealing like a girl might have had something to do with it, “Would you stop it?” he snapped embarrasingly, “you'll never be normal at this rate!” he cried.
George roared with laughter, slapping him on the back and making him stumble a little, which only made him laugh harder. “You know what? You need a girlfriend, Percy. You're tall, you're sort of good looking and you've got these amazing abs and shoulders to die for,” he gushed, making Percy snort with laughter.
“I think that's the last thing that I need at the moment,” Percy replied curtly and that only caused his brother to grin at him wildly. “I'm not sure that any girl would be able to deal with me and all of my issues.”
George pursed his lips at that, looking a tad worried for him. The club was still bouncing with horrid music and men were still laughing, drinks being tossed around and his brother looked around, as if searching for the right girl to experiment on, “I don't believe that for a minute, Perce. There's someone out there for you, I mean, hell, Ron got Hermione didn't he?” he asked.
Percy opened his mouth to tell him that it was pointless when his brother whistled a little, having spotted someone over his shoulder. “What are you up to now?” he asked in exasperation, knowing that taking him home wouldn't go over so well now that he was feeling up to bothering him for a while longer.
“Its Bad Taste!” George whispered, steering him around. A bar was located some feet away and Percy's entier face turned brilliantly red as the stripper from earlier ordered a drink, her long hair tied back and making him wonder what it would feel like to free it.“Whoa, check it out, Perce. She's not even wearing a thong anymore.”
Percy flushed even redder as his brother forced him over to the girl, him protesting and spluttering all the while. He couldn't face this girl in the slightest, he couldn't do it without wanting to run away from this attraction he felt, “George, what do you think you're doing?” he hissed furiously as they neared the girl.
“I saw the way you were looking at her and I'm surprised you can even walk properly. Why not get her to dance for you or something?” George said devilishly and Percy felt his eye twitching, knowing that he might just kill him for this.
But it was too late.
The girl was sighing heavily on the bar stool, looking bored and Percy's blood seemed to heat up, every primitive sense urging him to run away from her as fast as he could. “You probably just made my night,” George said at that precise moment.
The girl turned around suspiciously, as if suspecting someone else but blinked in surprise at the sight of of them. Percy felt like the biggest fool, “I get that a lot sweetheart. Its nothing new,” she said to George blandly.
“Oh, I'm not talking about me.” George said while shoving Percy in front of him, where he seemed to freeze into a cube of ice. “I haven’t seen him blush like that since he got his last job!”
The girl grinned at the words and Percy shot her an uncomfortable look before glowering at George, who was practically glowing. “Where's your other friend?” she asked.
There was a slight pause. “Apparently he had a feeling that his girlfriend would somehow find him and rushed home. Not that he had anything to worry about when she would have wanted to come to.” George lied.
“Right well, I wish him luck,” the girl said dryly, looking between them curiously, her eyes straying to what had been George's ear. Percy wanted to say something rather cutting but the girl didn't ask about it, only questioning, “so what are you two still doing here?”
“Thought we’d get a quick drink,” George said while shoving Percy roughly into the stool beside her and giving him a sly look. “I’m George Weasley remember? This is Percy.”
The girl stared at Percy for a moment, perhaps thinking he was some sort of freak before smacking him hard on the back. It nearly made him jump out of his skin and the man behind the bar snickered a little, polishing glasses and covertly watching the new dancer on the stage, “I’m not going to steal your virginity, Mr. Percy Weasley! Take a load off and relax!” she cried.
George roared with laughter while signaling the bartender for a shot of whiskey. “Percy, she’s got clothes on! You can look!” he teased.
“I noticed that, George, thank you.” Percy snapped, completely humilated.
The girl had been staring at him with a sort of intensity that made him unnerved and she didn't seem to mind that he was noticing either. “What’re you being all shy for?” George asked him, looking simply delighted to find him so uneasy. “You’re supposed to be older than me, therefore more mature and polite!”
“You make me sound like a stuffy old git!” Percy growled back, truly annoyed with what he was putting him through. The girl's shots arrived and she grabbed the glass and tossed it back expertly and watched as he gawped at her, finding the action very unladylike. “Don’t you have a home to go to?”
“Angie’s pregnant and mean…she’ll beat me up.” George said miserably and the girl looked surprised that he had someone that could deal with him all the time. Percy knew exactly how she felt and he almost smiled, “and not in a good way.”
The girl had been about to swallow another shot but spluttered a little. Percy was more than a little annoyed right now and he snapped, “She’s pregnant because you can’t keep your paws to yourself. Go home and leave me alone for a night.”
His brother actually needed to get home, Angelina would know how to make him feel better about what had happened with Lee. Although Percy figured that he wouldn't want to tell her, she knew him better than he did, “Aw, come on! It’s not so bad and look—” George said with a whine as he got his drink from the bartender and gulped it down, “I’ll give you a break and see you tomorrow.” Hopping off the stool and walking by him, he made sure to say, “and if you’re going to get laid for the first time, be sure to let me know.”
Percy felt his cheeks threatening to turn pink and he glared after him, watching as he found the exit rather easily before going outside. In a matter of seconds he would be home and taken care of and for a moment he briefly wished he could say the same but for now, there was that prickling sensation that announced that the girl was staring again. “Do you have a habit of staring or is it just for me?”
Apparently that startled her and she blinked rapidly for a moment or two before frowning annoyingly. Her cheeks turned the faintest bit pink, “I wasn’t staring that hard.”
“You were staring at me for at least ten minutes earlier through the curtain. It was rather unsettling,” Percy found himself saying with an uncomfortable glance at her. The girl was obviously embarrassed as she turned away and ordered another shot, “is it like a bad tick?”
A defensive look came over her features and she shot him a mean little look, as if she thought that would make him run away. Percy only thought it was cute before the girl answered peevishly, “No one told you to be so gorgeous you know. Take your attitude somewhere else if you’re having problems with being a virgin.”
That caused a slight silence and the bartender looked between them carefully, though Percy was certain that he could see his lips twitching. After a moment he handed her another shot and angled his head at him and because he was so distracted he idly flicked his head at a bottle of sherry, “I’m not a virgin.” He found himself saying dryly. “But it’s not as if it’s any of your business.”
“I’d have to feel it to believe it.” The girl shot back, causing his hackles to rise in indignation. There was no reason why he should feel obligated to explain his past sexual experiences with a stripper though and he rolled his eyes and considered her . Even in nothing but jeans, a simple jacket and a black top underneath, he still found her attractive and he couldn't understand why.
“Got a problem?” she demanded eventually, looking fierce.
Percy frowned in sharp irritation, not understanding why she was the one getting the little attitude when he had been the one being stared at. But that didn't explain why he was still sitting here talking to her and he turned away, feeling his lips growing tight, “You’re rather rude, you know.”
The girl openly gawped at him and he wasn't sure why, but he had a feeling that she was thinking about hitting him. Percy wondered about how much that would not hurt as a glass of sherry was placed before him and he took it, staring into the depths intensley, trying not to grin at the thought of how cute that would be.
A moment, perhaps not even a minute passed before the girl broke the silence. “Aw, don’t tell me you’re mad because I snogged you! What, was it your first kiss?” she asked dryly, sounding as if she found that to be quite hilarious.
“No, but I have no idea where your mouth has been.” Percy replied calmly. Most people made the assumption that he had never been kissed, touched or even held hands with a girl and he had grown so tired of his brother's endless teasing over the matter. He had been away from his family for so long that those old jokes made him itch with the need to prove just how changed he was before he remembered that he'd embarrassed them enough.
“You know, I don't know where yours has been either,” The girl snarled back, sounding as if he were really starting to get on her nerves.
Percy thought about that for a moment and knew that if he told her, she would be more than a little revolted. Even recalling some of where his mouth had been made him slightly ill, “Point taken,” he said to her and she seemed amused by his reply before allowing a slight silence to fall between them, the club still pulsing with activity. He stole glances at her every now and then, noticing the youthfullenss of her face and wincing at her predicament, “how old are you?”
That made the girl actually pause to think and she considered him for a moment before asking suspiciously. “How old do you think I am?”
This was his chance. If he were incredibly rude to her, she might just vanish and flounce right back to wherever she had come from and he would never have to feel this sort of attraction to a woman again so he said, “From the size of your breasts I’d almost assume you were almost twelve.” He made sure to give her chest a disastisfied look and her face turned bright red, “or thirteen”
Percy watched anxiously, trying to keep his face blank as she stared at him, warring between either stabbing him or going into a girlish rage. Instead, she said something so rude that even the bartender's mouth fell open. His face had turned red and she looked disturbingly amused before snapping, “I can’t help that my boobs are small, okay?!”
With that, she turned sharply away from him and went to glowering into her shots of whiskey, unknowingly causing Percy to sigh in relief. If he had been smarter, he would have gotten up but he didn't think that Muggles would appreciate being handed a gigantic Galleon and patted his pockets idly, even though he knew there was nothing there.
To his surprise, he felt a slight crinkle and wondered when George had slipped his Muggle money into his pockets and didn't bother pondering on it for long as he sought freedom. As the girl glowered and shot glances at him, Percy asked the bartender, “What's her name?”
The young bloke blinked a little before sliding a glance at the girl, who had gone back to glaring into the depths of her whiskey. She looked furious but her eyes couldn't stop flickering over him, which only made his need to flee from her all the more important, though something itched at him to be polite before saying goodbye, “Oh, uhm, its Audrey Tang.” the bartender said.
Audrey was a sweet name but it didn't exactly match the spitfire sitting next to him and he found that rather ironic. His name sounded just as boring as everyone said he was and he made a motion to get up when his stomach growled, a clenching sort of pain that reminded him of those days when he had gone without food.
Those days had been bleak, right after Fred's funeral when his need to stay alive had been so weak and he had to shake the feelings off. “Is there anywhere around here I can get something to eat?” he asked the girl.
The bartender was grinning to himself a little as she ignored him, lost in her own thoughts and he felt a burst of annoyance. After staring at him for so long and irritating him profusely, she had suddenly lost interest and he wasn't sure why that made him feel a little bruised, “Are you listening?”
“Listening to what?” Ms. Tang snarled at him, shooting daggers.
Apparently he had hurt her feelings earlier and he felt a shamed feeling grip him for just a moment before he thought of how nice it would be to get home. The longer he stayed around her, the more dangerous it would be, “Is there a place to get something to eat around here?” he was annoyed with himself though, he sort of wanted her attention which caused him to say, “and I don’t mean you.”
Percy watched with distant amusement as her jaw dropped but she recovered quickly and asked in a tight voice. “Like you would know what to do!” he merely stared at her, finding the furrow between her brows and the pout on her face all too cute. Oddly, he thought that she might be an interesting person to pick on and he shamefully knew that he hung round George too often, “there’s a place I could take you.”
Joy vibrated in his chest and he damned himself. “I’d rather you didn’t.” Percy forced himself to say irritably while taking out the borrowed Muggle money and slamming it down on the counter. The girl hopped off her stool just as he did and followed close at his heels as he found the exit, the chilly air kissing his cheeks as they were suddenly thrust back outside. The pump and thump of the music faded the farther they got from the club and he asked her, noticing that she was keeping up rather well for someone so short, “following me, Ms. Tang?”
“How do you know my name?” she asked in surprise.
Percy glanced down at her, taking in the length of her hair. His fingertips were itching to touch and wrap around the locks and he scowled, “While you were staring at me, I asked the bartender.”
A flush spread over her cheeks a little but she appeared pleased, as if she had never been shown proper manners before. “There’s a burger joint not too far away. I’m hungry too and since you won’t let me eat you, I’ll settle for actual food.” She said haughtily, a purr in her voice.
He moved away from her as they walked down the block.
Percy had no idea what he was doing, this was just the sort of foolishness that would come back to haunt him in the future. But he sort of liked this girl and as he chanced a glance at her, he had to smile just a little at how confidently she walked with that little gleam in her eye, as if she were fighting for something, making him feel a strange pulse in his chest.
Swiftly, he looked away, wondering why he had bothered to listen to his stupid brother in the first place. There would be no possibility that things would ever turn into something more. She was just a stranger, just some girl but he hadn't been this nervous—“Staring is a very rude habit, little girl.” He snapped when he sensed her ogling him again and he found himself asking. “How old are you? Fifteen?”
Ms. Tang looked simply outraged. “I'm twenty-one!” she cried and Percy paused in genuine surprise, taking in her short stature doubtfully before daringly reaching out to pat her chest and backside, completely unsure how it was possible. The action made him feel rather perverted and he hastily stepped away and walked off, “…W-what did you do that for, you prat?!”
Percy was infurated and humiliated with himself. Why had he allowed his sneaky hands to get a feel of her? He couldn't quite believe her about her age though but that had been no excuse to touch her...it had been such a rude and stupid thing to do—a sharp smack on his arm had him stiffening and he looked down at her, quirking his brow.
For some reason, the furious look on her face was so cute, her cheeks flushed and her eyes sparking fire. Percy forced his grin down and couldn't help but tease dryly, “I suppose you’ve got something. All the fat that should be in your breasts went to your ass.” He said, trying to sound as if it didn't actually spark his interest. “Such a pity,”
“I don’t like you…” was Ms. Tang's dull reply before stomping off. Percy watched the sway of her hips against his better judgement and he didn't know why, but something compelled him to follow after her, this interaction with her almost felt like fun. No wonder the twins had been so happy picking on people all those years, “following me?” she asked when she heard him.
Percy found himself shifting to her side easily, noticing that her head would barely come up to his shoulder. Despite her stature though, she would probably kick him square in his groin before allowing him to voice this out loud and that caused him to almost smile before he reminded dryly, “You said there was a place where I could get something to eat.”
Ms. Tang glared up at him furiously before stomping around a corner and falling silent, reluctantly allowing him to follow her. There was a nasty looking, ramshackle place at the end of the block and Percy felt his upper lip rise in revulsion, wondering if this were some sort of joke but he noticed that there was an actual line to get inside. Muggles were so bizarre and he found himeslf shooting Ms. Tang a look, awkwardly thinking of something to ask and fumbled with, “What do you do for a living anyway…besides that?”
Ms. Tang glanced at him briefly before ignoring him and walking to the end of the block, his eyes shooting over her. Percy awkwardly wondered what to say to her next, “Why’re you wearing a bathrobe?” she asked.
Percy noticed that there was a couple eyeing him weirdly and he supposed that his bruised ego didn't take very kindly to it because he glared at them viciously. They turned swiftly away, “Its not a bathrobe,” Ms. Tang looked oddly disturbed by the look, “why do you take off your clothes for money?”
Ms. Tang flinched as if he had asked her a rather rude question and he supposed that he had but he couldn't help but want to know. There was no way that someone as pretty as she was should be stuck working in such a disgusting place, “…I’m trying to get through college.” She muttered eventually, her eyes wide. Percy didn't understand, “It’s like high school but with more stuff.”
Briefly, he thought back to his Muggle Studies lessons and recalled something about that and nodded to himself. By now, they had walked into the ramshackle building and the smells of meat, onions and heavenly spices flew to his nose, making his stomach growl pitifully as Ms. Tang went to the front, asking to him distractedly, “What do you want, honey?”
Percy had never been given many endearments from Penelope and he was slightly uncomfortable with his reaction. It almost made him feel light but he forced it away, knowing that there was no way that this girl would mean anything in the future, “Stop calling me honey, first of all and I don’t care what’s on it, just as long as its food.” He said and Ms. Tang ignored him and continued reading what looked like a faded menu above her, “and you're not buying for me”
“Shut up.” Ms. Tang commanded before deciding for them both and something to drink and after she paid for them, Percy aghast at both her nerve, she made a motion towards the tables scattered around.
Percy recoiled a little because he was quite sure that there were more than one type of disease on the things. In fact, this entire establishment looked as if it had never been cleaned and he felt himself shivering with digust, knowing by the state of his ragged robes that it was a useless action as they took a seat across from one another.
Hermione had explained to him about bacteria once and he could practically feel the invisible things sliding under his skin. Ms. Tang shot him a look for it, perhaps thinking that he was a snob, which wouldn't be a total lie and he brought up his earlier question, hoping that she wouldn't kick him like he sensed she wanted to. “Why do you do that?”
“You mean strip? I already told you.” Ms. Tang replied tightly while openly ogling him, which only caused him to feel the most indecent of responses. “Jealous?”
Percy stared at her incredulously, wondering how she could even sit there with a straight face and joke about such a thing. He placed his hands on the table for something to do, noticing all the old scars from that half a year of working and using his hands in way that made him appreciate any man that had to in order to earn a living. “There has to be another profession that you can have that can support you through this…college thing.”
Ms. Tang looked a little surprised by the words and turned red, which only made him realize that she had sadly never been shown much concern. An oddly protective feeling came over him as she said embarrassingly, “There really isn’t much else that I can do. I don’t have enough experience.”
“…That can't possibly be true. You really think that that is a suitable position for someone of your size and shape?” Percy Weasley asked curiously, his eyes flicking over her with disbelief. Ms. Tang glared at him hotly and he said, “I suppose not.”
“I know I'm not gorgeous you fucking prat. Are you a homeless person?” Ms. Tang demanded angrily, looking as if he had given her a grave wound. Quickly, she looked at his robes and immediately apologized, “Oh my God, I didn’t mean—”
Percy almost laughed at her reaction and she stared at him with big brown eyes that made his chest tighten a little. She was too pretty and free spirited for that club and he couldn't imagine that it was a good life for her, “I’m not homeless, Ms. Tang, I’ve just been rather lazy about updating my wardrobe.”
There had been no real insintive to really enjoy his work and it had started to show. “My sister-in-law is taking me shopping tomorrow and I’ll hate every minute of it.” He said angrily, knowing that Angelina wouldn't be gentle about it, “what are you smiling about?” Percy demanded, noticing her grin.
Percy wasn't at all sure what was so amusing since he hated shopping but Ms. Tang only shook her head before leaning forward, bracing her chin on her hand. “Tell me about yourself, Mr. Percy Weasley. What do you do for a living? Do you have a big family or not?”
The question seemed to stab him in the heart and he took a moment to answer her, knowing that he looked half mad with grief. Strangely, though, he found himself whisper, “I have a large family and five other siblings.” Ms. Tang looked surprised, “we only have one girl, the rest of us are boys.
“Really?” Ms. Tang asked in obvious amazement, a spark appearing in her eye as she regarded him, the smells of cooking meat and spices heavy around them. “So what do you do?” there was no way that he could tell her something like that and he kept stonily silent, “how old are you anyway? You’re a little too young to be so cynical.”
A light silence fell after those words, the truth in them making his skin feel stretched taut. His body didn't even feel like his own anymore, he could barely recognize the simplest things or find joy in anything that he had loved before Fred had died and he'd gone briefly mad, “I’m twenty-four, Ms. Tang. Too old for a twelve-year-old.” He gave her a smile and watched as her eyes widened, a faitn blush coming into her face, “you really don’t look your age.”
Ms. Tang gave him a pursed little smile before giving him a playful kick underneath the table and making him jump. Percy wasn't sure how to reply to this but he was spared from embarrassing himself when their order finally apparently came through, someone shouting for her at the front and he blew out a sigh of relief.
What was he even doing here? Ms. Tang seemed like the sort of girl that he would have avoided with a passion when he had been younger but he had changed so much since then and wondered if this was what he had been missing. Ministry life was so monotonous and he dreaded every moment of interacting with the same people, the same thing every day but someone like her, a Muggle stripper of all things could never fit into his world.
Just imagining her there for a brief instant made him feel slightly ill and by the time she came back, carrying bags in her hands, he knew he looked ghastly, “I’m not going to attack you and take your virginity, relax.” Ms. Tang said with an eye roll upon looking at him.
“I wouldn’t fight you and you should stop assuming things about me, Ms. Tang.” Percy snapped back at her, aggravated with his circumstances. The attraction he felt for her was so unwanted, so completely out of his understanding that he wasn't sure how to handle it, though his words had caused Ms. Tang to blush as she sat down.
She didn't say anything to him as she eagerly started to unload the bulging bag of food, the scents so strong that Percy's head swam. His stomach growled viciously as she handed over his burger and he took it, flummoced by the size of the thing and asked, “…Did they kill a whole cow?”
The mess that she had decided to call “food” was a large one and Percy wasn't sure if he had even eaten this much in months. Ms. Tang shot him an amused glance before unwrapping her own burger, eyes going wide with sultry delight at how the effects spilt out over the sides. Without any ladylike hesitation, she sank her teeth into it, chewing and gnawing in a way that made him feel quite sorry for it before she murmured, meat and cheese stuffed in her cheeks. “Ishts sghlood”
Percy nearly choked on his food as he tried not to laugh at her, thinking that she appeared like a ferocious little chipmunk, cheeks near to bursting. He had dug into his own meal with abandon but at something spicy sliding down his throat like fire, he stopped immediately, holding the burger back and noticing evil looking little peppers splattered in between the meat. “You put peppers on this?” he asked wheezily after taking a long drink, “trying to kill me, Ms. Tang?”
Ms. Tang appeared alarmed. “Are you allergic?” She asked after cramming what looked like five million fries into her mouth and making him wince. Worry creased her brow, “I didn’t know—”
“I’m not, it’s just hot.” Percy interrupted hastily, trying to get her to stop shoving her face for fear that she would choke. She looked relieved as he went back to the burger with gusto, the flavors so surprisingly delicious that he knew he could eat at leas five of them a day, “this is actually very good.” He said after a long moment when they’d said nothing, intent on eating like ravenous wolves.
Ms. Tang's cheeks were flushed and splattered with mustard and she absently reached for a napkin and wiped at her face. “Excellently awful,” she said to him and for the first time, Percy actually laughed, the action making his chets hurt a little. After a short pause, the girl asked huskily, “Glad you came, aren’t you? It’s almost better than sex.”
Percy rolled his eyes at that, sensing that she was trying to bait him before tapping at his mouth with his napkin in a way that would make his mother proud. “Close, but not really, Ms. Tang.” That only caused her to grin naughtily and he didn't know why, but he decided to nitpick. “You’re rather perverted, you know. Not getting enough?”
It was the wrong thing to say and he frowned, completely thrown for a loop as Ms. Tang asked seductively, her voice causing pleasant vibrations down his spine. “Interested Mr. Weasley…?” Percy wanted to tell her that he was interested, had been interested and would take her up on her offer if he weren't so imbalanced at the moment. But instead, he went to finishing his food and drink, “You’re really no fun at all.” She pouted.
Irritation went through him and he said, knowing that he appeared to be destroying what had been a rather enjoyable few minutes. “Do you find flirting with people you don’t know satisfying Ms. Tang?” he asked sharply and she actually flinched a little. Percy knew that his time was running short if he wanted this strange attraction to fade away, “You have no idea what sort of horrible person I am, and you’re practically throwing yourself at me.”
“I’m not throwing myself at you. It’s called flirting,” Ms. Tang corrected angrily and he raised his brows at her, wondering how she seemed to be able to keep pushing forward. It was amazing, actually but he wished that she wouldn't have found him as fascinating as he found her, “I don’t get involved with blokes at the club but no one told you to be so cute.”
Percy stared at her for a moment or two and he laughed bitterly, thinking of how much those words struck out at the insecure person he still felt that he was. “There’s nothing cute about me, my face is rather plain.” Needing to suddenly nitpick, he said. “You should understand what I mean.”
It worked and Ms. Tang glowered at him and said hotly, looking all too adorable for it. “You know, I’m the most popular dancer at the club!” Percy made sure that he looked astonished, “just because you’re not equipped with a penis doesn’t mean that I’m ugly!” she snapped.
“…I never said you were ugly.” Percy said after a moment, his tone crisp. If there was one thing she was not, it was ugly and he would never be able to close his eyes without seeing her on that stage, lights and sweat marking her skin. Sleeping would not be easy tonight, “you’re just so tiny.”
“You have an issue with short women?” Ms. Tang snarled defensively.
Percy shook his head slowly, at her question. He just found the thought of teasing her far too much fun and he knew that he was slipping faster and faster into danger where she was concerned, “No. My sister is actually very short but I don't think she's quite as mean as you seem to be.” He replied before saying thoughtfully, “most of the time, I mean.”
Ms. Tang glowered at him a little but then she gave him a level look which made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. Nothing seemed to dissuade this girl and he had no idea why he was suddenly thinking it was attractive...which only made the fact that he could never, ever be with such a girl all the more painful. “So you just have an issue with short women speaking their mind huh?” she asked dryly.
Percy felt his fingerst twitching a little and he had to clench them a little, desperate not to reach out and touch her. Faeries were said to have this sort of effect on mortal men and he could somewhat sympathize as he felt his sudden attraction for her threatening to tug him into a direction that he refused to take with anyone. So he ruined everything by saying, “I just have a problem with you…and your staring…and your nasty language.”
Ms. Tang's cheeks had turned pink and she looked a little upset by his sudden attitude, not that he had been all that friendly to begin with, but he knew that he'd sounded very off putting. “No one’s forcing you to sit there you know so you must like it.”
It was true and he knew it but he didn't have to face it. Why had this night turned out to be this way? How and why had he allowed himeslf to come here with her? He really had lost what was left of his mind, “I'm not used to speaking with women who are so aggressive, I'm not sure how to handle you.” He admitted after a while.
“So you like docile women or something?” Ms. Tang asked with an eye roll.
Percy thought of how Penelope had been and how horrified she would be if she were forced to be around someone like Ms. Tang. She hadn't been docile, just set in the ways of her world and he knew that the girl he was speaking to now would never allow that to happen and his sudden attraction to her made more sense than he needed it to. “Not precisely, but you're not exactly the sort of woman that I frequently find myself involved with.” He paused, “not anymore, anyway.”
“You know, you're just getting a little more interesting as we go on. But you didn't have to come here with me and you're sitting here still talking to me even though you supposedly don't like it.” Ms. Tang said with a smug smile. “Maybe you've got a secret thing for bad girls,”
Oh, misery. That would explain so much and he frowned a little, knowing that it was the truth and that he only had himself to blame. The girls that he had been with after Fred had died had been as different from sweet little Penelope as water was from fire and it was horrifying that that was what he wanted in his life and he could never let it happen.
“I've worried about that actually…but what does that make me?” he asked softly under his breath. “This was not a good idea,” he muttered.
Ms. Tang looked confused and he hoped that she didn't think that she'd done anything wrong because she hadn't, not really. “Where are you going?” she asked abruptly.
“Home, Ms. Tang and that is not an invitation.” Percy paused to say warningly as he turned around, his eyes running over her, hoping that his wistfullness couldnt' be seen. Ms. Tang turned faintly pink, wanting it as much as he did and he turned hastily away, “have a nice night and thanks for the meal.”
It took him only a moment to step back outside and he walked as quickly as he could, knowing that if he stayed, he would invite all sort of misery onto that girl. Something snagged his arm and he jerked a little, hearing Ms. Tang say, “Wait a minute—”
“Let me go, Ms. Tang,” Percy commanded harshly, trying to hold back on what he wanted and couldn't allow himself to think. There was no sort of future with a girl like this and it was better for him if he remembered where he belonged, “I enjoyed our conversation but....”
Ms. Tang frowned stubbornly, looking as if she would rather argue with him right here in the middle of the sidewalk like a crazy person than let him be. They didn't know one another, there was no way that she should be so interested....this attraction just couldn't be controlled and he had to escape, he had to push her from his mind. “I want to see you again!” she cried firmly. “You’re not bad or anything. I think you're interesting and I like you—”
His body stiffened at the words, thinking that she was wrong about everything. She didn't want to know anything about him, the truth of everything that he had done and been would ruin her and he turned around, saying harshly. “No you don’t.” Percy hissed, “no you don’t.”
And with that, Percy managed to free himself and walk away, rounding the quickest corner he could in order to Disapparate. Before everything went black and he returned to his lonely life, he heard her footsteps, intent on following him and he dreaded and wished that she could.
Thanks for reading! :D
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