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Where There's Smoke by magnolia_magic
Chapter 1 : Percy
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 9


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When I first started working for the Ministry of Magic years ago, I knew immediately that I had found my calling.

The Ministry was my safe haven. Here was a place where I was valued for my ambition; not punished for it, like at home. My brothers were all fun-loving people—some of them to the point of senselessness—and they constantly made it clear what they thought of me. It was beneath them, sitting at a desk doing paperwork all day. Only their stiff, uptight brother could find enjoyment in such work. I was the brother who couldn’t take a joke; the one nobody could understand. As long as I could remember, this was the way things had been.

The jokes were one thing. I hated it when they mocked me, but I was strong enough to take that in stride. But the tide of war grew stronger, and eventually my father began to suggest that the Ministry was becoming something sinister. He told me that my recent promotion was not the result of my hard work and passion; instead, the Ministry simply wanted to use me to spy on the rest of the family.

The suggestion hurt me, deeply. Here I had found a place where I fit in, where I was needed; even, by some, wanted. I was fulfilled for the first time in my life. And my father wanted me to believe that none of it meant anything. I lashed out at him; he stood his ground.

The emotional distance became physical.

I missed them after I left, so much it hurt. They were my family, after all. I loved them, and if I was honest with myself I knew that they loved me. But I stayed away; even love was not enough to overcome my fierce pride. I kept myself going with the knowledge that someday my work would lead me to greatness. It wasn’t something I could explain, but deep down I knew that I could make an impact on the wizarding world. The Minister of Magic had the power to better the lives of an entire nation; I could be that person, someday. I just knew it. My future shone bright before me; how could I let a little family animosity dim that light? So I forged ahead with my promotion, full of hope.

But that was before.

Now, I could see the Ministry for what it had truly become. My once shining tower of morality was a farce. People were dying in the name of blood purity; Death Eaters were masquerading as civil servants. It had been a harsh awakening. I had clung to the perfect Ministry of my ideals, and so it had taken me an embarrassingly long time to discover the truth. But eventually I had to see it for what it was; the signs were impossible to ignore. Some soul-searching had to be done. What was really important, after all? Working for the Ministry was only important because it served as a vehicle for me to fulfill my potential, and to do good in the world. I loved the Ministry, but at the end of the day it didn’t matter where I worked, as long as my job was fulfilling and meaningful. That was important.

Family was important, too. More than anything, I wanted to go to my father and beg his forgiveness. I wanted to tell everyone that I’d been wrong, stupid and blind, and that now I knew which side was the right one. But I was trapped in the middle of it all—if I tried to contact my family now, Thicknesse and the others would follow me straight to their doorstep.

My dad had warned me, years ago, that this would happen. But I had not listened to him.

It had been a long time since I’d felt ambition of any kind. It seemed that the fire in me had been snuffed out. I couldn’t change the world, after all; it was all I could do to get through a day of work without breaking down. Two things were important—work and family.

Right now, I had neither.

I stared at the parchment in my hands, feeling the blood drain from my face at a dizzying rate. It was happening; now was the moment I had been dreading, along with so many other witches and wizards.


Death Eaters invading Hogwarts. It’s now or never—your choice.
-Aberforth


The handwriting was barely legible; it was clearly the work of only a few moments. Aberforth must have wanted to get this to me as soon as possible, and I appreciated that.

I had met him only once, on a chance trip to the Hog’s Head after work one day. It had been a particularly grueling day on the job, and I had decided to seek relief at the bottom of a glass. I had scarcely taken two steps into his establishment before Aberforth recognized me for who I was—a Weasley. When I confirmed the fact, he nodded gravely.

He proceeded to tell me all about the war effort, and what he knew of my family’s role. They were at the forefront of things, as I had expected. I could just see them; Bill’s strong presence giving everyone confidence, Fred and George laughing the fear away, Ginny bursting for the chance to prove herself. Before long, I was telling Aberforth my story, all of it. He had to hush me eventually, overwhelmed by the sudden tide of my words. They were saturated with regret and self-loathing so deep that it seemed impossible to reach the bottom. I couldn’t ever remember revealing so much of myself, let alone to a perfect stranger behind a bar. I had ducked my red-flushed face toward the ground, mumbling out an apology, but he brushed me off, simply promising to let me know if anything happened to them. Somehow, he would let me know.

The thought of them threatened to tear me apart. Guilt wracked me. We weren’t always the perfect family, but by God, we had always been strong. Like links in a chain, my dad had always said.

I had broken the chain. I could try to repair it now, if I chose. But that was where the problem seemed to lie; I couldn’t make myself go. I wanted to help my family, but there was hurt there, and pride, and resentment. How could I rise above all that? Surely I was not strong enough.

A few more moments of indecision passed. I could not afford to take many more; if I was going, I had to get there soon. My insides went cold at the thought of battle. But how could I leave them alone, thinking I didn’t care?

There had never been any choice. My lingering bitterness didn’t matter in the slightest. What mattered was doing the right thing for my family. If I didn’t help them fight, I could never, ever go back to them. How could I, knowing that I had chosen to abandon them in their time of greatest need?

Two things were important. I had lost one, and given the other away.

The choice was made. There had never been any choice. I Apparated right from where I was standing, not allowing fear or bitterness to enter my thoughts. Only one thought mattered, and I played it on an endless loop in my head.

Go. Go now, before you lose everything.

*

A/N: Hi, and thanks so much for reading! I really hope you enjoyed this first installment, and there will be two more to follow I'm venturing into uncharted territory with the Weasleys, so I would really appreciate any feedback you have. Thanks again!


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