Everyone was enjoying toast and marmalade when the eldest of the children currently under the Weasley roof popped into the room holding a very large stack of papers in one hand while he stifled a yawn with the other. Ron and Ginny giggled quietly as their mum gave him what for. Their dad, Arthur, barely glanced up from the morning's Daily Prophet
that he had been hiding behind, stalwartly avoiding eating anything the twins, Fred and George, offered him. In short, it was just a typical morning at Molly Weasley's breakfast table.
Percy made his apologies for being late and sat down. He answered George with an unamused look when his brother offered to make his plate for him, since he was busy and all. He sat his papers down next and began to read the top one. His mother interrupted him when she came and spooned hot eggs and sausages into his empty plate.
“You are going to take a break from that today, Percy ” she said, reviving last night's discussion. “Cauldron thickness is all well and good, but you've been given the day off and there are errands I'll need you to see to.”
Percy frowned and looked up from the report he was reading. Since he had went to work for the Ministry he felt like he suffered constant castigation from all of them. None of them, his mother included, understood his ambitious goals or the hard work it would take for him to realize them. It was almost like having two jobs—one by day and the other by evening—that competed to prevent him from achieving anything. It was of great annoyance, and it infuriated him when they chided him for working too much. He was about to tell his mother all of these things, yet again, when his father spoke.
“Yes, I do suppose you'll be wanting to try out your apparition a bit more, won't you.” His dad smiled at him and his mother, the constant peace-maker.
Percy sighed and tried to remuster his earlier steam, but the thought of apparating about all day was thrilling to him and he just couldn't stay angry. He was quite good at it—he had mastered the three D's almost instinctively and had not vomited the first time like so many usually did—and he reckoned that they knew it or they wouldn't be asking. With so much to do, he supposed the report could wait a bit; Mr. Crouch needed it finished, but he would understand.
“I'd be glad to help” he said, trying not to let too much excitement show; he did have to set an example for the younger and more reckless Weasley children. “What sort of things were you needing done?”
His mum looked at his dad for a moment, her face etched with lines of worried thankfulness. She walked across the kitchen to the small hutch and retrieved a piece of parchment. She read it, and scribbled a couple of extra items at the bottom and brought it over to Percy. “Here it is love. There's a lot, I'm afraid; there's just so much to do and me and your dad have to see to Harry soon. I'll need you to pop in and meet Charlie and Bill in Romania to help with their luggage, stop at Gringotts, and then go and pick up a few things.”
She looked at him with her normal, careworn demeanor. It was obvious that she didn't think he was up to making all of those trips. Probably the thought of him apparating to ten or fifteen places in one day, some of them rather far away, was driving her mind into a worried frenzy. Percy saw the struggle, and was quite familiar with the relationship between her emotions and her brow line. He knew it didn't bode well for him, and she proved it when she continued speaking, this time in a softer and more motherly voice. “Are you sure about this, dear? I could take care of it, and you and your dad could go and pick up Harry.”
That was just like her, always worrying too much about them, more than she should. He knew why she did it, and was glad for it a lot of the time, but other times it just prevented him from getting to do anything she thought was too unsafe. Fred and George didn't help anything either; they were also up to something and their hijinks kept their mum on edge. Ron and Ginny meant well, and were pretty good most of the time, but they both worshiped every funny little thing the twins did and that only added fuel to the fire. But really, he knew that a lot of his mother's distress was centered around the children that didn't live with her. Bill traveled extensively, seeing the world in his work for Gringotts, and Percy knew that their mother walked the floors at night when he wasn't sending owls regularly enough. Then there was Charlie—and that one was probably the worst for her—off in Romania working with dragons. Dragons! He might as well have been studying the inside of active volcanoes; it might have worried her less. When he thought about it that way, he understood her anguish, even if it was inconvenient for him. A mother's love had to be a terrible thing to endure sometimes, for everyone involved.
He was just about to reply—and hopefully put her at ease so she would let him do what he wanted to do—when an explosion on the other side of the table redirected everyone's attention to that side of the room. Ginny was surrounded in purple smoke, her tentacle-covered arms waving about, and she was laughing her head off even while red-faced Ron frantically tried to set her up. Everyone looked at George and Fred who returned those stares with innocent smiles.
“Would it be too much bother for someone to pass me the marmalade?” Fred asked around a mouthful of toast.