View from the Library
Percy Weasley sat in his den, smirking. He had settled himself into his favorite chair and was listening to the leather crackle beneath his weight. He was feeling quite pleased with himself.
He closed a dusty Ministry folder and swept his sleeve over the surface of the glossy desk in front of him, removing the small bits of dust that had fallen out of it.
He was thankful he had taken his father's advice when he had all his work robes made out of a hard-wearing tweed. It suited him and it didn't show all the dust you were bound to be covered in from working in the archives. Plus, if you chose the right pattern, it made your hair look better than it actually was. As the only Weasley male that wasn't losing his red hair, Percy imagined himself wearing tweed for the rest of his life.
He adjusted his gold-rimmed spectacles and practically swaggered in his seat with self-satisfaction. He thought he'd be trapped in his den all weekend, but what the Minister had thought was a giant budget problem ended up being a simple clerical error.
He flipped the folder over and initialed the back of it, admiring the way his tidy scrawl looked alongside the rows of other men that had come before him. It wasn't quite as fancy as <i>E.R.</i> who had become Minister of Magic in the late part of the last century, but it was a great deal more legible than <i>M</i> something-or-other. The rest of that unfortunate souls' mark was so untidy no one could decipher it.
Percy, himself, had done several drafts of his initials before he had finally settled on a pattern that was both legible and elegant. It nearly had a small flourish at the end, but Percy decided that would be too pretentious. If he was going to be Minister of Magic one day he wanted his ascent to appear humble and dedicated rather than pretentious. The people tended to respect men like that, especially in rough times.
He sighed and set the folder down before leaning back in his chair.
His den was a cozy place. He had carefully constructed it to be the most comfortable room in his small house, with its dark woods and amber glass. He had reasoned it would most likely be the room he spent the most time in, and he was right.
These days, it seemed as if the owls never stopped coming, even when he was at home on his day off. Last Wednesday he had awakened to find three of them patiently perched on his windowsill. Thankfully, they had been instructed not to wake him. At least his coworkers were polite, if not always competent.
It was a sunny day outside. He had expected to stay in all afternoon crunching numbers and cutting funding for Ministry programs, but it looked like he was going to get the afternoon off and everyone was going to get to keep everything after all. It would be nice to have a break for a change.
His gaze went to his desk and lingered for a moment on a small picture of a brown-haired witch. She was smiling at him, her expression frozen in place. He was thankful to have a Muggle picture of her. He wasn't sure if she'd still be in the frame if her picture was allowed to move.
<i>I think maybe we should take a break.</i>
Percy snorted at the words Penelope had said to him. What on earth did they mean anyway? How long was he supposed to wait while she figured out what she wanted?
He tried to distract himself by scanning the shelves that lined the walls with the realization that he could actually <i>start</i> one of the books he'd been meaning to get to, when he heard a scrabble at the window.
His head snapped around to see a Ministry owl and he felt his breath catch in his throat as he realized the tips of its ear tufts had been dyed a dusty rose color.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He knew who it was from and it was wrong. He knew it was wrong. The very <i>thought</i> of it was wrong, let alone acting on it, but he reluctantly got to his feet anyway.
He unlatched the small brass hook and pushed the window open gently. The Ministry owl looked up at him with wide yellow eyes and quirked its head to the side as Percy reached out to take the small scrap of parchment it was carrying.
He smiled at the owl. He wondered if it objected to being charmed; if it was made fun of by the other Ministry owls. His concerns were immediately snuffed out
<i>Need your help with an issue concerning the Department of Experimental Mayhem.</i>
Percy couldn't help but quirk a corner of his mouth at the words, even though he felt a tickling in the pit of his stomach that almost felt like guilt.
“Hold on,” he told the owl before turning back to his desk and picking up a quill. He scrawled a hastily on the back of the parchment before giving it back to it. “Take this back to her.”
The owl hooted before taking flight and Percy watched it go, soaring over the garden, over the tops of the trees, before to broke out into open sky and was free.
For a moment Percy envied the owl.
“So what exactly does 'taking a break' mean?”
Percy shook his head at his younger brother and stirred his strawberry milkshake with a long straw. “I have no idea.”
Percy and Ron were sitting at the counter of Franklin Fortescue's Ice Cream Emporium, watching people walk by on the street as they waited for Ginny to join them. A small girl with emerald green robes and long blond ringlets stop to gawk into the shop window for a moment, but her father, a stern-looking man with a large mustache, tugged her away quickly.
Ron took a sip of his chocolate milkshake and frowned as he seemed to mull things over in his mind. “Is she seeing anyone else?”
“Not that I know of,” Percy said shrugging. “Even if she is, do I get to have an opinion?”
“You always get to have an opinion.” Ron snorted. “Sometimes it really doesn't matter, but you still get to have one.”
“I suppose sometimes it's just best to let things ride out. See what happens.” Percy took a deep breath and sighed.
“That's what I always do, mate.” Ron raised a hand at Ginny, through the window of the ice cream shop. She was carrying several large blue bags and was beckoning them. “Most of the time it's just better that way. You never know if something is meant to be until it happens.”
“I suppose so.” Percy swallowed hard, feeling pangs of guilt. “It's not like we're married or anything.”
“Exactly!” Ron clapped Percy on the back, making his older brother wince. “The one for you might be right around the corner! Someone unexpected!”
Percy nodded as he stared into his milkshake, poking at it with his straw, making small peaks in the thick liquid. “I bet you're right.”
“We can't keep doing this.”
Percy looked up from the buttons on the front of his robe. He had done them out of order and was having to fix them. “I know.”
He looked at her and wished he felt guiltier than he did.
Hermione Granger was trying to set herself right: smoothing down her robes, running her fingers through her now-gnarled hair, her lips still flush from the battery of kisses they had just experienced.
They were in her office in the Ministry, down in the basement where they kept most of the experimental laboratories. There were no real windows, of course, just the enchanted frames the Ministry used to simulate sunlight and an outside scene. Her door was bolted in spite of hardly anyone being in the building on the weekends.
“It's not like Ron's a bad person or anything--” Hermione started out, but after a sharp look from Percy she stopped.
He took a breath and shook his head. “I know. I know he's not, and I know you're not, and I'd like to think I'm not.”
“You're not.” Hermione nodded her head in agreement.
“I just don't know what to do... or think... or... anything.” Percy pressed his lips together as he fixed his buttons and smoothed his robes down.
“I know how you feel,” Hermione said glumly.
It had been going on for weeks. They had both been overworked by the Ministry, working long hours at odd times. They had started meeting up for regular coffee breaks just to make sure the other wasn't going batty.
That had turned into helping each other with their projects, learning more about what the other hoped to accomplish with their careers.
For some reason, that was what led to them snogging senselessly whenever they were alone together, today being the first time she had impatiently unbuttoned the front of his robes, running her hands over his bare chest. He had raised the stakes by burying his face into her collarbone as he pulled her robes up to grip her thighs as she perched on the edge of her desk, panting with desire as she fumbled with his buttons.
He wanted to have her. Wanted to plunge into her over and over as she gripped at him and cried out in pleasure.
But he couldn't. Wouldn't. Not with his brother's girlfriend. No matter how badly he wanted to. This was bad enough.
She turned around and bent down to pick up a shoe and Percy found himself closing his eyes and counting to ten. They may have disentangled themselves from each other, but part of him was still yearning for her attention.
He opened his eyes to see her looking at him strangely.
“Nothing.” Percy tried to compose himself. “You have a very nice backside.”
“I do?” Hermione asked innocently. A little too innocently. She turned around again and looked over her shoulder at him.
Percy felt himself practically snap to attention. “Oh, Gods, don't do this to me.”
“Do what?” Hermione asked as he watched the hem of her robes start to rise. She licked her lips and smiled at him wickedly.
“If you do that,” Percy said warningly, hoping the desperation didn't come through in his voice. “I may have to do something.”
“What kind of something?” Hermione asked as the hem rose higher, over her knees.
Percy felt himself shake his head and he ran his hand down the front of his robes. He gave his erection a rub and felt himself tense up at the sensation. “Something rash.”
“Rash? Sounds like a personal problem.” The hem was creeping up her thighs as she giggled and Percy gave himself a squeeze.
He walked around the desk to get to her. He approached her slowly before he began to caress her, pressing into her backside, his hands gently on her hips. She groaned and her breathing became more ragged as he reached down for the hem of her robes. “Bend over the desk.”
Hermione complied, keeping her eyes forward as she did so.
Percy raised her robes up and he felt his breath catch in his throat.
A tiny pair of black lace panties met his eyes, caressing a very attractive bottom.
Percy felt a surge of guilt and begged forgiveness in his mind as he sunk to his knees and hooked his fingers into the panties before pulling them to the side and burying his face in her.
She cried out and tried to squirm away, but Percy had a firm grip of her robes and pulled her into him harder.
“I'm going to make you come, you little tease,” Percy growled at her and she let out a little cry of pleasure as his fingers brushed over her clit.
He dove in and reveled in the taste of her, the smell of her, the feel of her trembling as her orgasm crested, and the sound of her cries of pleasure.
“Stay there,” Percy ordered her as he got to his feet.
“I'm not sure I could move if I wanted to,” Hermione breathed as she tried to regain control of her senses.
Percy yanked his robes up and approached her. “I'm not going to do it, just hold still.”
He brushed the tip of his cock against her vulva gently and she groaned.
He started caressing his member, his fingers and a bit of prodding helping him to smooth her wetness over his erection.
He saw her breathing increase as he pulled on himself, one hand working furiously, the other running over her backside and the mound between her legs. He allowed himself to push one finger inside of her and he had to fight back the urge to plunge into her as she cried out and ground herself onto him.
“Oh, Gods, I'm going to--” Percy started, but then he ground out a yell between his teeth as he came, his pelvis making small involuntary thrusts forward as he shot creamy white liquid over her backside.
He reached out as he tried to catch his breath and ran his fingertips through it, over her smooth skin.
“We can't keep doing this.”
He nervously made his way through the busy London street. His father always had a mad fascination with them, but Muggles had always made Percy decidedly nervous.
He pulled his black hat further down before jamming his hands deeper into his pockets. At least he was allowed to transfigure his sturdy tweed robes into a long coat. That was some comfort.
He turned down an alley and continued walking. His eyes flicked upwards at the tall brick walls that flanked him. The sky was overcast and everything seemed dull. Everything except for a small flower box that was fastened to a windowsill: brilliant, bright blooms of pink springing forth in a world composed of gray.
He took a deep breath and shook his shoulders out, thankful to be away from the bustling people going about their daily routines. He heard a small noise and his eyes darted to a pile of rubbish. A small black kitten padded out and Percy pulled his wand out of his sleeve.
He'd never forgiven himself for handing Peter Pettigrew over to Ron and he was never going to let another Animagus get the better of him. The tip of his wand glowed yellow and he let out a breath he didn't know he was holding. He slid his wand back up his sleeve as the kitten padded up to him, mewing softly.
“Hello, fellow,” Percy said softly as he scooped the kitten up and tucked him into his coat. “Let's go to the Archives.”
Percy continued to the end of the alleyway and took a left, into a small alcove that someone once used for waste disposal. He reached out and placed his palm on the wall and it started softly glowing red. As he fumbled for his wand, the small golden face of a woman appeared in the wall.
<i>What is your pleasure?</i>
Percy felt his cheeks flame red. He tapped the forehead of the face. “One for pleasure.” He tapped the face on the chin. “One for pain.” He tapped each of the cheeks in turn. “Two so you can try again.” Then he slid his wand into the mouth of the face until he felt it click into place.
The face let out a small moan and Percy felt as if his face had caught on fire. He understood the need for security and the necessity to reuse magical areas throughout London, but he thought they could have come up with a better place to house the Archives than a former Victorian bordello.
A door swung open and Percy blinked at the sight of large expanses of red velvet and small gold embellishments that seemed to cover every surface of the room.
“Is that you, Weasley?” A voice called out from the inside of the building.
“Perkins?” Percy called out as he walked through the door. As he stepped over the threshold, the door closed behind him with a sigh. Percy threw it a look. He was sure the Ministry could remove the charm if they wanted to.
Percy looked around the room, trying to spot Perkins and failing. The room was oval in shape, a set of double staircases were at the back of it, leading up to a second and third floor balcony, their railings stout with an intricate pattern carved into the dark wood. Percy looked up to see the large domed ceiling, its small panels forming a decorative “P” is red and amber glass.
The entry floor had several comfortable-looking couches and lounge chairs scattered about it, covered in the expected red velvet; along with several intimate arrangements of tables and chairs that may have once been used for card games.
He began walking further into the room, his eyes desperately trying to find his coworker. There seemed to be doorways leading from this room, and he was sure there were along the balconies that circled the room, but there was so much heavy red cloth draped on the walls he couldn't tell where they were.
The small kitten mewed and Percy retrieved it from his coat. “Where do you think he is?” Percy whispered to the kitten.
The kitten's attention was caught by something and Percy saw a movement within the expanse of the red velvet. He began walking to the movement cautiously and was relieved when the fabric parted and a small, round wizard with a horseshoe of gray hair around his crown and a bushy mustache popped out of a hidden room. His arms were full of books and small pair of pewter spectacles were perched on his rather wide nose. His heavy green and gold robes brushed along the floor as he bustled over to one of the tables and relieved himself of his burden with a loud <i>'thump!'</i>
“What's that you have there?” Perkins peered over the tops of his glasses at the kitten.
“Oh!” Percy felt flustered. “I found it outside.”
“Did you, now?” Perkins reached out and took the kitten from Percy. It immediately began purring and batting at his immense mustache. “Ah well, what's a library without a cat?”
Percy shrugged as he watched Perkins pull a small amber medallion out of his robes and rubbed it. His eyes widened as the air began to shimmer and a pretty girl stood next to them, her hair arranged in a pile of dark curls upon her head and her bloomers and corset nearly the same creamy pale shade as her skin.
“Martha, Master Weasley has brought us a new friend. I believe it will need a basket and some food things.”
The girl squealed in delight as she took the kitten and cuddled it next to her bosom. “Right away, sir!”
She scuttled off with the kitten as Percy stared after her. “What on earth was that?”
“Multi-dimensional construct.” Perkins snorted. “Summon them and they can do simple tasks along with the usual entertainments expected. Singing, dancing, reading, playing cards, you know.”
“I see,” Percy said, feeling his cheeks flush.
Perkins let out a hearty laugh. “Well, I wouldn't know about that bit! I'm an old man that handled potions for far too long to be thinking about it!”
Percy winced in sympathy as he reached into an inside pocket of his coat. “The Minister wants to know if anything peculiar has been going on with the volumes lately.”
Perkins took the note from Percy and wrinkled his nose at the list. “Well, nothing except the last, but the Minister knows that one's always causing us trouble. Had to lock it up in it's own room to prevent it from bothering the other books.”
“Well, maybe he just wants an update.” Percy gently suggested. “I'm sure he'll be relieved to know nothing is going on with the others.”
Perkins snorted. “Like I've got nothing better to do than wrestle with ill-behaved books! If he's so interested, why doesn't he come down to do it himself?”
“I'm sure it's because he thinks you're the very best,” Percy said flatteringly.
Perkins shook his head and sighed. “All right. You come with me. I'm not a young wizard anymore. If I tumble down the stairs you can call the Healers.”
Percy agreed and followed Perkins up the long staircase, trying to ignore the small and sometimes not-so-small noises coming from behind the wall hangings. “How many rooms are in here, anyway?”
“Quite a few,” Perkins said, his eyebrows going up and he glanced back at Percy as the younger wizard started at a small electrical sound that came from behind a curtain. “Most of them have been cleared out, of course. We needed the space for books and the small rooms proved convenient for sorting things out by subject.”
“Some haven't been cleared out yet?” Percy frowned. “They should have been.”
“Well, we kept Cassie's room the same--” Perkins started.
“Who's Cassie?” Percy interrupted. It was really no good to have institutions if they were always going to be half finished.
“Our resident ghost,” Perkins explained as they continued climbing to the third level. “She's a bit territorial and we haven't needed the space.”
“Ah,” Percy said in understanding. “I see. Well it's good of you not to waste our resources over something like this. Just let us know if it begins to be a problem.”
Perkins gave Percy a withering look. “Of course.”
Percy couldn't imagine what he said wrong, but he felt his spine stiffen when Perkins asked: “So, how's that lady of yours?”
“What?” Percy asked, feeling nervous.
“Girl you brought to last year's Christmas party. Nice voice after you get a few eggnogs in her.” Perkins began walking around the balcony that circled the third floor. He seemed to be counting folds in the fabric.
“Penelope,” Percy said, somewhat stiffly. “No, we're... taking a break.”
Perkins snorted. “Is that what they call it these days?”
“I guess so.”
Perkins finally stopped and turned to face the wall. He drew a short, dark wand out of his robes and waved it. The fabric parted to reveal a steel door with runes carved into it.
“Is it really that dangerous?” Percy asked, alarm creeping into his voice.
“Not at all.” Perkins laughed. “Just... well, you'll see.”
Perkins reached out and opened the door, which to Percy's surprise, was not locked. A cacophony of sound came out of the room to assault their ears and Percy jumped in surprise.
<insert bawdy song here>
“Good heavens!” Percy exclaimed as he felt a hand go to his chest, as if he could steady his heart by touching it.
The book was a gold tome with two diamonds set into its finely carved cover. It seemed to be doing some sort of bizarre attempt at dance as it sang. A ring went through each of its front and back covers and a chain ran through them, binding it to a decorative pedestal fashioned out of the same dark wood the banisters were made of. A small bench covered in red velvet was next to the podium, although Percy couldn't really see why anyone would stay in here for any amount of time.
“Now you see why we have to lock her up.” Perkins chuckled.
“Her?” Percy asked.
“Wizard tried to kidnap her back in the day and bound her to the book. Tried to sneak her out in his pack, but he was caught and killed in the scuffle. Can't get her out without the caster to undo the spell.” Perkins shook his head. “Now she just reminisces about the 'good old days.' Can't get her to shut up.”
Percy found himself laughing. “How's that different from any other woman?”
“I heard that!” the book thundered hotly.
“I'm sure you did, my lady.” Percy bowed to the book as he winked at Perkins. “But you are a rose like no other; you can help out your Minister and country by assisting us.”
“I can?” The pages seemed to flutter flirtatiously, if such a thing could be done.
“You certainly can.” Percy drew himself up and transfigured his clothing back to his regular tweed robes. He slid his hand into them and came out with an envelope.
“Do <i>you</i> work at the Ministry?” The book seemed to settle back down on its pedestal, its cover closed and to Percy's horror, a pretty face seemed to rise up out of the depths of the book cover, the diamonds becoming its eyes. He suspected it was the same type of magic that had made the entrance to the building, but this was perverted. It had twisted the magic into something obscene.
It was one thing to possess an object of Dark magic, but what happened when one <I>became</I> that object?
She had obviously been very pretty: her brow smooth, her nose straight and pert, her mouth wide and expressive, her eyes forever twinkling like captured stars. He watched as the pages began to slither out from within the bindings, shredding and twisting them. The cover began bending and reshaping itself into a more natural form. Finally, it stopped and the book appeared to have become a golden head with long, blond paper hair arranged in a complicated hairstyle. The rings that had once bound it had adapted to earrings that were chained to the pedestal.
“I do indeed. Can you tell me what kind of book you are?” Percy asked curiously.
“A book of love,” the book said, a smirk upon her golden lips and an almost hollow sound to her voice.
“Can you answer my questions?” Percy asked, frowning. There was no opening it and reading it now that it had gone all head-shaped.
“If you're willing to pay,” the book said seductively.
Percy stole a glance at Perkins, who seemed to have gone completely goggle-eyed at the book. Percy elbowed him. “Has it ever done this before?”
“Not to my knowledge, but no one's ever come looking for her as long as I've been in charge here,” Perkins whispered back. “She's just been a pain in the arse.”
“I'm not deaf, you know.” The book snapped at Perkins, her eyes flashing in anger.
“Of course not,” Perkins said quickly.
“Neither am I dead,” the book sniffed in annoyance. “And I haven't ever given it away and I'm not starting now.”
Percy had to bite back a laugh. “I'm not sure if you understand why I'm here--”
“I understand perfectly well, Percy Weasley!” The books snapped and Percy's face went white. “And I'm saying a piece of me is still a piece and you're paying for it!”
“What do you require?” Perkins asked quickly.
“Lust.” The head eyed Percy, hungrily.
“Excuse me?” Percy said, looking appalled.
“I will tell you what you want. Everything you want to know,” the book's lips curved into a devious smile and the tip of a golden tongue slid out briefly to wet them. They were taking on a pinkish blush.
“I don't quite understand,” Percy said hesitantly.
“You will.” The head snapped its gaze to Perkins. “Leave us.”
“I'm not sure that's such a good idea.” Perkins frowned.
“No harm will come to him.” The head stared at the older wizard.
“I'm not sure she'll give us the information otherwise,” Percy said to Perkins. “I can always say no to her demands.” He looked at the golden head. “Can't I?”
“Of course,” she purred. “And you will leave unscathed.”
“I'll be fine,” Percy reassured Perkins. He still had his wand up his sleeve and all members of the Ministry were required to have basic combat and hex-breaking skills.
Perkins eyed the head warily, but he retreated out onto the balcony.
“Close the door,” the head ordered Percy.
Percy did so before turning to look at the disembodied head. “How do you know my name?”
“You are in my head,” she said slyly before letting out a throaty laugh.
“What exactly is in your head?” Percy asked, an eyebrow quirked in annoyance.
“Is that what the Ministry sent you to find out?” She blinked slowly, her eyes twinkling at him.
“No.” Percy admitted as he opened the envelope. “They sent me to find out if any of these names mean anything.”
“And in return you will pay me,” the head said seductively.
“What do you want?” Percy said as he straightened up his spine. He wasn't going to be cowed by some bawdy book.
“Kiss me,” the head whispered.
“What?” Percy asked, his face aghast.
“You are not bonded to anyone,” the head stated. “At least, not yet.”
“How do you know that?” Percy asked sharply.
“Because that's what I know. That's why you have the names on that parchment.” The head quirked to the side slightly.
“Oh!” Percy exclaimed, realization dawning on him. “You keep track of love-bonds?”
“Mostly” The head smiled at him. “I keep track of people bonded to other people. Many times that means love. Sometimes it does not.”
“So you just want a kiss?” Percy asked warily.
“If you want more, that is up to you,” the head said saucily.
“What is your name?” Percy asked as he stepped forward.
“Audrey,” she said, giving him a genuine smile. “No one ever asks me that.”
“Well then, Audrey,” Percy said, swallowing and trying to get his courage up. “I shall give you a kiss in exchange for your information.”
He sat down on a small padded bench near the podium so he was face-to-face with her. He gazed into her clear, dazzling eyes and tried to imaging when she was human and the eyes were blue, the hair gold, and the skin clear and blushing. He leaned over and kissed her.
To his surprise, the lips were warm and when she nipped gently at his own it made him want more, not to pull away, but he reluctantly did.
He cleared his throat and pulled the folded parchment out of the envelope. He flicked it with a finger and suddenly it was stiff as a board. He pulled a fountain pen out of his pocket and gave a quick look at Audrey. “Elizabeth Kingston.”
“Eloped with a Muggle bastard to Brighton,” Audrey said firmly. “Love match.”
“We don't really keep track of bloodlines like that anymore,” Percy muttered embarrassedly as he jotted down a note. “Just saying she eloped is fine.”
The book was so silent that Percy wondered if it was all right. After a moment she said: “What a much better place the world must be.”
“You'd be surprised,” Percy muttered as his eyes scanned the list. “Jill Carrington.”
“You must give me another kiss first,” Audrey said, a smile playing around her lips.
“Oh, I see,” Percy said, grinning in spite of himself. No one could see him in here and Perkins said all she did was want a bit of attention. It was the spell that was evil, not her. He saw no harm in giving in a little, especially if it was for the betterment of the Ministry. He leaned over and kissed her again, this time letting her tongue trace his lips.
“Unlisted,” Audrey breathed.
Percy frowned and jotted down a note next to the second name. “Owen McDougal.”
“Kiss,” Audrey said looking him up and down hungrily.
Percy leaned over and looked into her eyes. He imagined what it would have been like to have his hands on her when she was living and he felt himself stiffen at the thought. He kissed her gently and this time he didn't pull away. Their lips parted and Percy was surprised at how lifelike she felt.
Then he felt a touch on his cheek and he nearly jumped out of his skin.
Audrey had been transformed. She was no longer a head on a podium, but a nude girl with a body that looked as if it were fashioned from polished wood; a head of gold with paper curls wound around her head and cascaded down her back. She was nude, and in spite of resembling an erotic sculpture, Percy found his eyes drawn to the curve of her hips, the swell of her breast, as if she were a flesh and blood woman.
“What's happened to you?” Percy asked, his eyes running over her.
“He must have had it intertwined with a lust spell!” Audrey said excitedly. “I become unbound when I awaken lust in someone! No wonder I've been so randy!”
“What?” Percy spluttered. “Why would he do that?”
“Who's going to get fiery over a book? You're the first one to kiss me since this happened!” Audrey blustered. Her diamond eyes seemed to fog for a moment and she swayed slightly.
Percy put both of his hands on the sides of her face and pulled her to him. When they kissed he parted his lips immediately and he felt her skin become softer, even more like a human woman's. “What do I have to do?”
“I don't know, but not stopping seems like a good idea,” Audrey giggled as Percy began sprinkling kisses over her face. “I can feel myself changing. Something tells me it's not happening the way it should be, but it's still working.”
“So I'm not bonded to anyone?” Percy asked. If he was a free man he would be able to shake off the bit of guilt he felt.
“You will soon have many choices,” Audrey said with a quirk of an eyebrow. “But not now.”
He closed his eyes and tried to forget about her cold, stone eyes. He felt a woman under his hands and her life depended on him.
“So this spell is broken by lust?” Percy asked. He loved his interludes with Hermione, no matter how bad they made him feel afterwards, but they had still never had sex. His heart always beat faster when he thought about how far they had gone the last time they were together, but he was still torn over what it would mean if they went all the way.
“Have an itch to scratch, guv?” Audrey said seductively.
“I think I might,” Percy said as he adjusted the way he was sitting on the bench. Suddenly he wished he had a bit more room in his under things.
“Should I please you with my mouth?” She took one of his fingers and slid it into her mouth. “Should I please you with my hands?” She slid a hand over his lap and he groaned. “Or do you want to force me to the floor and ravish me?”
Percy furrowed his eyebrows. “Is it alright if I do that?”
“What, ravish me?” Audrey sounded confused.
“Yes.” Percy said, his body starting to ache for a proper release.
“Yes, and thank you for being a gentleman and asking,” Audrey said sounding very pleased.
“No problem,” Percy said before he roughly pushed her to the floor.
Her hair made a peculiar slithering wound as the paper swept across the stone, but she smiled, complimented him, and made the appropriate noises as he roughly pulled his robes up and used her.
He didn't last long, but he ground out Hermione's name as he finished, collapsing on Audrey, who, to Percy's relief, maintained her bipedal form. He caught his breath as he rested his head on her bosom and she stroked the sweat-soaked hair on the nape of his neck.
His eyes fluttered open and he nearly leapt off her in shock.
Her face was still gold, her hair still paper, her body looked as if it were made of wood; but she felt like she were flesh and bone. The diamonds were gone and two beautiful blue eyes blinked at him. “What's wrong?”
“You... aren't quite back to yourself,” Percy said slowly.
Audrey looked down at her arms. Her hands went to her face; her fingers ran through her paper hair gently. She looked ill for a moment, but then she took a deep breath. “At least my hair wound itself into strands instead of just shredding. I won't be afraid of tearing it on accident.”
Percy swallowed for a moment before offering her a hand and helping her to her feet. He tugged at a length of red velvet that was draped on a wall and severed it with his wand.
Audrey took it appreciatively and he helped her drape it modestly around herself.
“I can't believe this place,” Percy muttered. “I'm sure not everyone wanted to be blinded when they came in here.”
Audrey giggled as she tucked the end of the fabric away, making a sort of toga. “Perkins is going to soak his pants.”
Percy chuckled. “He probably will. Does this mean I've paid off the rest of that list?”
Audrey cast her gaze at the discarded list of names and the pen that lay on the floor beside it. “I'm fairly sure you have.” She turned back to look at him very seriously. “You are not paired, Percy Weasley, but if you are not very careful you'll disappoint many people, not the least yourself.”
“I can't believe our Percy managed to break a curse over a hundred years old!” Molly Weasley beamed as she set a bubbling pot of potato soup on the long wooden table.
The family had gathered for Mrs. Weasley's birthday at the Burrow and the cheery atmosphere was just what Percy needed, even though he had been seated next to Hermione.
“I've broken curses older than that!” Bill scowled at his mother, his dark red hair making a swishing sound as it slid over his dragon-hide vest. A small hand came up and pulled at Bill's shirt; a child with a round face and white-blond hair momentarily distracting him.
“Of course you have, dear,” Mrs. Weasley said in a soothing voice as she caressed Bill's long hair as she scooted behind him. “And we're very proud of you as well. It's just that this is your brother's first.”
“How'd you do it, Percy?” Ron asked, leaning around Hermione to get a better look at his brother and Percy felt his cheeks burn.
“I'm actually not allowed to talk about it.” Percy was immensely grateful this was true. The Department of Mysteries had paid him a visit shortly after his trip to the Archives and, after a lengthy interview that Percy would rather not think about, they labeled the incident Classified. “At least until they study it some more.”
“Ah, come on, Perce,” George encouraged. “Can't you tell us a little bit about it?”
Mr. Weasley cleared his throat and his sons seemed to settle down, somewhat. “If the Department of Mysteries is involved we aren't talking about any of your run of the mill Curse. Besides, that's not why we're here tonight, is it?”
Mrs. Weasley gave him a small smile as she waved her wand and bowls started floating through the air to each of the people sitting around the table.
There was Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, of course, along with Ron and Hermione; Fleur, Bill, and Victoire; George and Percy.
“Happy birthday, mum!” The boys chorused out as they caught the bowls and began serving up their mother's delicious soup.
“I do not understand.” Fleur frowned, her beautiful face creasing as her French accented voice floated out over the table. “If it is your birthday, why are you doing the cooking?”
“Dad isn't allowed in the kitchen after last time.” Ron laughed as the others chuckled.
“One mistake with some bread and you never live it down,” Mr. Weasley mumbled.
Mrs. Weasley snorted. “I was getting bits of dough out of odd places for weeks. I still have no idea how some got in the back of the cupboard like that.”
“I'd rather not think about it.” Mr. Weasley winced at the memory as his wife ladled soup into his bowl.
“Well, it looks as if this year will be just fine,” Hermione said, beaming at Mrs. Weasley.
“It would be better if Charlie and Ginny were here, of course,” Molly said brusquely. “But he had that birthing emergency and the team needs Ginny to do beyond her best this season. The Quidditch World Cup is coming up!”
“The Cup isn't for months, yet!” George exclaimed.
“Your sister's taking her training very serious this year!” Molly snapped at him. “She's determined to bring a Cup home if she breaks her neck trying!”
“Sore spot?” Hermione whispered aside to Ron as Molly stormed back into the pantry for more dinner rolls.
Ron snorted as he tried to drown out his voice by clattering his spoon onto his bowl and stirring it noisily. “She's with some special coach. Only holds training sessions once a year and this week is it. Hear mum arguing with her about it through the Floo.”
Molly got back to the table with a basket of dinner rolls and put them on the table with a <i>thump.</i>
“So, Perce,” George said, a little too casually. “If you can't tell us about the curse, can you tell us about the girl?”
Percy felt his cheeks flush. “She seems to be taking well to her change. The spell was tied in to her attacker's bloodline, that's why there are still kinks in her change back.”
“So you didn't bungle it, after all?” A red haired-witch strolled into the kitchen carrying a pink box with a blue sparkling ribbon.
“Ginny!” Molly screeched as she hurled herself across the room at her youngest child.
“How'd you get away from that madman you call a trainer?” George asked Ginny curiously.
“Different time zone.” Ginny grinned. “Everyone else is asleep.”
“You'll be exhausted for tomorrow!” Mrs. Weasley protested, though Percy noticed it was a weak protest.
“I can stay for at least an hour,” Ginny said firmly.
“Then it's right back into the Floo with you!” A dark-haired young man with green eyes and glasses walked through the doorway. He was wearing a blue sweater and carrying a present wrapped up tightly in orange paper.
“Oh, and Harry!” Mrs. Weasley clapped her hands together. “This is such a treat! Everyone sit down, sit down!”
Percy ate his soup while Ginny filled Mrs. Weasley in on the training schedule she had planned out and Harry filled them all in on a recent raid they'd just done on the Plumberg estate.
“I swear, the thing grew this long!” Harry held his hands far apart when explaining how a poor wizard's foray into fish farming had gone completely wrong. “And the minnows were just to feed the frogs!”
Halfway through the meal; a delicious dinner of roast beef and potatoes, green beans from the garden, and magically crisped dinner rolls with fresh melted butter; Percy had felt a tickling sensation on his leg.
He ignored it, but as he took a drink of the wine his father had chosen for the special occasion, he felt a feminine hand graze over his lap.
He choked violently and Bill hopped up to pound him on the back. “What'd you do? It go down the wrong way?”
Percy nodded miserably, tears in his eyes as he tried to recover from his coughing fit. He glanced at Hermione and was annoyed to see her biting her lip to hold back a laugh.
Oh, he'd make her pay for that later.
Percy was hard at work in his office, pouring over a folder of supplies the Department of Mysteries had turned in. He agreed with most of it, but the request for four gold cauldrons made him frown. He knew they needed a large supply of the Paradox Potion they were developing, but if the potion wasn’t meant to be they’d be stuck with a bill for gold cauldrons that weren’t being used.
He was thinking about how often they’d actually use the cauldrons if he approved them when he heard a scratching at the window and he turned to see a small black owl on his window ledge.
Percy’s curiosity was piqued. He didn’t ever remember seeing this owl before. He closed the folder before getting to his feet and opening the window for the small bird. It had a small cream-colored envelope and tight, tidy writing on it.
Percy took the envelope and gave the owl a small treat from a jar he kept near the window. It hooted at him before it took flight, soaring over the rooftops of London.
Percy went back to his desk, waving his wand and watering a small houseplant as he went. He turned the envelope over and looked at the red wax seal with two crossed feathers on it. He didn’t recognize it, but when he tore it open he found it was from Perkins.
<i>We’d like you to join the Ministry Project on Audrey since it was you who awakened her. She’s been asking for you.
Percy rubbed his forehead. It was an honor, of course, but he had so many other duties he wasn’t sure if he could do it. He thought for a moment before sitting down at his desk to write a series of letters.
The first was to the Minister: explaining the situation and requesting for an assistant or two while he worked on the project with Perkins.
The second was to Perkins: accepting his offer and requesting a file of the information they had already gathered.
The third was to Audrey: apologizing for not visiting her and assuring her he would be along soon.
He folded the first and last into paper airplanes and waved his wand at them. The rose in the air and zoomed out of the small window above the door.
The last he placed in a small glass tube and pushed it into a small compartment on his desk. He heard the sound of rushing air as the container whooshed away through enchanted pipes, up to the Ministry Owlry on the roof where it would start its journey to Perkins.
He thought for a moment before scribbling out a message to Hermione that sounded like he was crowing about the new project, rather than telling her what was going on so they’d have to work their meetings around it.
He tried to feel guilty, but it was getting easier not to.
“Ah! Weasley!” Perkins bustled over to Percy, who had just entered the Archives, his wet umbrella and mac dripping water onto the thick red carpeting. Perkins waved a stubby, light colored wand at Percy and the water instantly evaporated. “Glad to see you! Thought we'd have to wait until Monday!”
“ I finished up early so I decided to drop by before the weekend starts.” Percy looked around the room. Wizards and specters were combing through books and comparing them. The room had a steady hum of activity and Percy's nostrils filled with the smell of coffee, parchment, and assorted baked goods.
“Is it good to have all that food around the books?” Percy frowned as he opened a satchel he was carrying.
“They're spelled before anyone is allowed to open them. Safer that way.” Perkins wrinkled his wide nose.
Percy nodded as his eyes wandered over the people in the room, looking for someone he knew.
A hand began waving and Percy squinted to see who it was, then raised his hand in return before fumbling around for the scrolls he was delivering to Perkins.
“Have a friend here?” Perkins looked over his glasses in the direction of a pillar as Percy began piling up scrolls in the Archivist's arms.
“I think the whole world probably knows Harry Potter.” Percy chuckled.
“What!” Perkins squeaked and did a small jump of surprise, several of the scrolls clattering to the floor as he did so. “Where?!”
“Over near the gold pillar with flowers. He's got the big blue book and the cat.” Percy pointed Harry out. He was reading a very large book and the kitten Percy had brought to the archives was curled up on a pile of smaller books nearby.
“Oh, good heavens!” Perkins looked around. “I get a chance for an audience and I don't even have anything prepared!”
“I think we're supposed to be looking for old dark magic spells.” Percy reminded Perkins. “Not interviewing Harry.”
“Well, maybe I'll take him a sandwich and something will pop up in conversation.” Perkins said speculatively.
Percy rolled his eyes behind the old man's back. “So how's Audrey?”
“She's doing well.” Perkins nodded. “A bit fatigued, but that's to be expected if you haven't done anything physical in over a century.”
Percy bit his tongue.
“She's up in her room.” Perkins' eyes went skyward to the balconies and rooms. “Do you remember which one it was?”
“I believe I do,” Percy assured the man and he began his trek up the flights of stairs to Audrey's room.
He knocked gently when he got to the door. There was a rustling before she called out to him.
The door swung open at his touch and he smiled as he looked her room over. The walls were full of books of all types of shapes and colors. An amber chandelier was mounted to the ceiling and a small bed with a soft-looking red bedspread was pushed into a corner. A small wooden table and four chairs was set up, the table displaying an impressive house of cards.
“I came to see how you were doing,” Percy said as his eyes swept over her.
Audrey was wearing light blue robes and trying to balance another card on her project. Her hair had been styled and coiled around her head. It looked as if her skin had been polished: her gold face was gleaming and her hands were smooth and dark.
“Bored,” she said firmly. “I've done nothing but read for a century.” She suddenly looked as if something had pinched her. “Kiss me!”
“What?” Percy asked in confusion.
“The shag allowed me to go a step further, but I still need kisses to keep this form,” Audrey blurted out.
“What?” Percy squawked. “What do you do when I'm not around?”
“I grab someone else. There's a cute witch from the Department of Mysteries that always seems to be up here when I need it on Tuesdays.” Audrey hurried over to Percy and grabbed the front of his robes. Her lips were approaching his when he put his hand between them. She furrowed her eyebrows.
“If you go back to book, can we get you back to this form?” Percy asked quickly.
“With a bang, yes.” Audrey looked confused. “I think... what's that got to do with anything?”
“Everything!” Percy said quickly as he felt her arms begin to move as if there were beads under her skin. “Willing to shag me again?”
Audrey smiled widely. “Let's go!”
“Leaving already, Weasley?” Perkins asked as he set an armful of scrolls down on the table in front of him. Percy noticed he was a few tables closer to Harry than he was before.
“I have an engagement, I'm afraid,” Percy said with a chagrined look on his face. “Just popped by to check up on things.”
“Good to see you getting back in the game.” Perkins smiled at him warmly. “You're still young yet. Can't let one girl get you down.”
“Thank you,” Percy said, somewhat embarrassed. “Keep me updated on anything you find.”
“Of course,” the older wizard said.
Percy shook his hand and waved at Harry before leaving the Archives.
Once out in the dingy alley he opened his satchel and peered in.
“Did we make it?”
Percy smiled down at the golden face of Audrey, set into the cover of a large book. “We did indeed.”
Percy hurried down the street, looking around before slipping into the Leakey Cauldron. He waved to a few familiar faces before hurrying over to one of the fireplaces and throwing in a handful of Floo powder.
As soon as they arrived in the den of Percy's cottage, he pulled Audrey out of his satchel. Her beautiful gold face smiled up at him, her eyes beginning to fade from blue to white.
He kissed her.
He didn't feel silly about it, and no one was here to see him do it. He embraced her in her book form and didn't let go when he felt her shifting in his arms. Soon he felt small hands tentatively touch his chest and he groaned as one snaked it's way to his belly. He lowered his hands and cupped her arse and she let her hand fall to rest on the head of his cock.
He took in a deep breath as she rubbed it gently; he slid one of his hands between her legs and she gasped.
“So I have to incite lust, do I?” Percy asked.
“Yes,” Audrey said breathlessly.
Their lips met again and after some time became a tangle of limbs and fabric, frantically grasping at the other person as if it were the last moments of life instead of the first.
Percy lay on the floor, nude and catching his breath when he heard Audrey get to her feet. He opened one eye and peered at her. She was scanning the shelves of books he had, a finger lightly touching the spines as her eyes went by them.
“Feeling homesick?” Percy joked.
She smiled wryly at him. “I had just learned to read.”
“Right before I was cursed I learned how to read. Mistress said I was good at letters and numbers. Said I had 'promise.'”
“Well, you seem to be very smart,” Percy said as he propped himself up on his elbows.
“No, really.” Percy go to his feet and took her hands. “Listen, you made the best out of your situation. You absorbed the books around you, didn't you?”
“Then you kept busy? Annoying Perkins?”
She giggled. “And the ones that came before him.”
“So you kept your mind sharp. You did the best you could, but now it's time for your life to start. Try reading a real book.”
He reached out to the bookshelf and pulled out a thin journal. “This one's on modern theories about transfiguration It'll get you up to date.”
Audrey regarded it with a quirked eyebrow before she looked up at Percy. “You don't know, do you?”
“Know what?” Percy asked as he set the book back down on the shelf and took her hands.
“Real witches don't wind up whoring,” she muttered, a pink tinge making her gold face glow.
“I don't--” Percy began, but his eyes widened when he realized what she was trying to tell him. “Oh.”
She was a squib.
“Well, so what.” Percy waved his hands flippantly. “Here's one of my father's favorites. <i>You Only Live Twice.</i>
“What does that mean?” Audrey looked at the book dubiously.
“I don't know, but it's a Bond book so it's bound to have a lot of action and romance.” Percy shrugged.
“Then I shall keep it near to me always,” Audrey took the pulp novel from him and held it to her chest.
“We've only got an hour or so, what say we put a kettle and some clothes on. See whats on the telly?” Percy put her hands on her shoulders and stroked his fingertips down her arms.
“What's a telly?” Audrey asked.
Percy grinned at her. “Come on, I'll show you.”
“Oh, hello there Weasley!” In the time Percy had been gone, the small Archivist had moved his work area near Harry's and they were now looking over a large map dotted with small illustrations of rocks and trees. “I thought you had something to do.”
“I did, but I realized I forgot to give you this.” There was a snort from the bag and Percy jostled it as he made his way across the mostly empty room. It seemed like many of the other wizards had left or popped off to get a proper meal or a pint. Percy handed the older wizard a scroll with the Ministry seal on it.
Perkins took it cautiously, as if he expected the scroll to bite him.
“What do you think it is?” Harry asked curiously. Minister in a snit?”
“He might be annoyed it's taken anyone this long to make any progress on the cursed girl,” Perkins admitted.
“Or it could just be the new meeting schedule the Department of Time and Coincidence managed to hammer out.” Percy sniffed as he walked away from the pair.
“Still have your engagement?” Harry asked, a suspicious look on his face.
“No. Everything has been taken care of.” Percy took a deep breath and let it out. “Seems like I'm always doing something.”
He was glad he was far enough away that no one heard the giggle that came from his satchel.
“Well, come with us. We were going to grab some curry around the corner before getting back to this.” Harry waved his hand at the map.
“Sure, give me a few,” Percy said as he started climbing the staircase. “I brought Audrey one of dad's favorites to read. Must get boring with nothing but research texts around you.”
The other men agreed and Percy hurried up the stairs, only feeling safe when he was in Audrey's room, her closed door behind his back.
He opened up his bag and looked in. Audrey shook with laughter.
“You could have at least tried to be quiet.” He scowled as he gently scooped her up and placed her on the floor. He waved his wand and she grew to her normal height.
She waved a hand at him. “No one could hear me and it all went fine.” She reached back into his pack and brought out the novel he had lent to her. “Next Tuesday, then?”
Percy found himself thinking about Audrey all week, his mind counting the moments before he could see her again. When Tuesday finally came, he had prepared himself. No more sneaking and out. The plan was foolproof.
“What is it?” Audrey held the small bottle of shimmering liquid in her hands.
“It's an experimental potion. It'll make you look normal... we think. Someone in the Research Department owed me a huge favor.” Percy shrugged. “And I've made Portkeys. No more stalling and excuses.”
Audrey giggled. “You've thought of everything.”
Percy brought a package out of his satchel. “No. <i>Now</i> I've thought of everything.”
She grinned her gleaming gold teeth at him and downed the potion. Almost immediately her face went blank and her eyes widened.
Percy swore and pulled his wand out as she fell to the floor.
She growled: a noise that made it seem as if she were trying not to scream. Her skin looked as if marbles were rolling around underneath it and she was beginning to glow slightly blue.
Percy looked helpless as her skin began to lighten from dark mahogany to skin. “He said it might be a bit uncomfortable.”
“I'll make <i>him</i> a bit uncomfortable.” Audrey groaned as the twisted paper hair began to transform into long blond locks.
Finally, she stopped transforming and Percy looked down at her.
She was panting and covered with a sheen of sweat, but the bright blue eyes that Percy had become so familiar with were set into a human face. One with rosy lips and pink cheeks that smiled at him.
He handed her the package. “You'll need this.”
“How did you do this?” Audrey asked in wonderment as she held her arms out for her to look at them.
Percy took a deep breath. “I put a memory of you in a pensive and brought in an artist friend to see you. Once he made a sketch, I found a patient Metamorphmagus. When that was done, I took a sample and combined it with the potion.”
“So its a morphing-sensitive Polyjuice Potion?” Audrey asked as she got to her feet.
“Er...” Percy fumbled. “Yes.”
She grinned at him. “Being a squib doesn't mean I'm deaf. My father was a Potions Master. I made a decent assistant until the sickness overcame him and mother.”
“Oh!” Percy looked surprised. “Good then! I mean... Well, change into the clothes I brought you and we're off.”
Audrey quickly changed, remarking on how comfortable the long burgundy skirt and white peasant blouse he had bought her were. “And there's no more holes in it than there are meant to be!”
“It's a bit old-fashioned,” Percy admitted. “I wasn't sure what your size was.”
“They're beautiful,” Audrey said, running her hand over the white fabric of her shirt. “Thank you. I'll wear them every day.”
“I think we'll take care of that when we're out. Put a bunch of men in charge and they forget about what women require.” He cringed at Hermione, Ginny, and his mother's reactions to Audrey's care. “We'll pick up a few things before we go to the park.”
“We're going to the park?” Audrey squeaked excitedly.
Percy took a small pouch out of a pocket in his robes and opened it to reveal a small rubber ball.
They grinned at each other as they both reached out to touch it.
Percy felt the familiar tug of the Portkey being activated and then the sensation of falling through space.
He felt his feet hit the ground and Audrey stumbled into him. He looked around, but the few Muggles in the area were so absorbed in their own picnics and games the pair went unnoticed.
“Come on then.” Percy started walking away from the grassy area and into a nearby car park.
“I thought you said we were going on a picnic.” Audrey said suspiciously.
“We need food.” Percy laughed. “I've got it in the boot of my scooter.”
“What's a scooter?” Audrey asked, but her eyes went up as they entered the car park and her eyes fell on automobiles for the first time. She jumped as one started and she whirled around, nearly tripping over her skirt.
“They have horns as well,” Percy cautioned her. “Don't be surprised if someone uses theirs. People tend to use it when they're impatient.”
“And you... use one of these?” Audrey asked.
“Not in the Muggle world enough to justify one,” Percy sniffed, but Audrey saw how he looked at a bright red car as they walked past.
She began laughing as Percy approached the shiny blue scooter.
“What's wrong with it?” He asked defensively.
“How fast does it go?” She giggled.
“You sound like my father.” Percy scowled. “I can get up to seventy miles an hour.”
Audrey looked impressed. “Will we be riding on it?”
“Maybe.” Percy smirked at her as he unlocked the small box on the back of it. He reached in up to his elbow and brought out a wicker hamper. “For now, we dine.”
“You are most gracious, sir.” Audrey smiled at him, a wide grin that made her human-like face light up, and bobbed.
He offered his arm and she took it as they strode back into the park. They found a shady place near a giant oak tree and Percy casually swept his wand over the ground, flattening it out, getting rid of fallen leaves and debris, and thickening and softening the grass.
He quickly covered it up with a red checkered blanket and motioned for Audrey to sit next to him. He kissed her knuckles and a small ripple went over the back of her hand.
A squeal made them look around and Audrey smiled at a pair of children chasing each other around a nearby tree. “It's been so long since I've heard that sound. I was the second-eldest of eight, you know.”
“No, I didn't,” Percy said in surprise. “I'm one of seven. Third eldest.”
“I don't believe it,” she said firmly. “You're far too sane.”
Percy laughed as he opened the hamper. “Barely. You should see my brothers. Two of them own a joke shop. You can imagine what that was like.”
Audrey let out a chuckle as Percy unpacked their lunch. She was questionable about the processed lunch meat, but decided it was ham after all and enjoyed her sandwich. They watched children playing on a jungle gym nearby and laughed as a small dog ran by with a hat it it's mouth. When Percy pulled out half of a cherry pie Audrey looked as if Christmas had come early.
“I haven't had anything this wonderful in years!” she exclaimed as she and Percy shared it right out of the pan.
“It's my mums.” Percy grinned. “Swiped it last time I was over there.”
“Stealing from your own mother!” Audrey gave him a look of mocked scandal.
“You get in trouble if you sneak into other people's kitchens,” Percy reasoned, a sly look on his face.
After they had finished up the pie Audrey had slipped off her shoes to chase some butterflies that had rested on a shrub nearby. She laughed as they twirled around her head and Percy looked on, a feeling of deep contentment beginning to grow inside him.
After they had packed their basket away they walked back to the car-park, Audrey laughing when Percy presented her with a helmet to use.
They made their way through the winding streets of London until they approached a multi-tiered car-park with a sign that said: <i>Employees Only.</i>
“This is long term parking for Ministry employees,” Percy explained as he pulled into an area with assorted motorbikes and scooters. He parked and flipped a lever on the back of his scooter so the trunk could be popped off and used as an oddly-shaped suitcase.
Audrey followed him through the car-park, until they reached a red door set into the concrete walls. Percy tapped it with his wand and it clicked open. They walked down a narrow hallway before they turned a corner and were confronted with a fireplace. Percy threw in a handful of Floo powder and they stepped into the green flames.
They stepped into Percy's home and he shivered at the touch of her hand on his back. He took a deep breath to try to calm himself, but he felt her other hand slide across his belly as she turned him to face her.
He looked down into her blue eyes and smiled as she blushed at him.
Their kisses were gentle at first, but soon turned more fervent and Audrey moaned as Percy's hair cupped her cheek and slid back to nest in her blond locks.
She began unbuttoning his robes and slid a hand inside to touch his bare chest.
Green flames leapt up in the fireplace and they jumped away from each other as someone stepped through them.
“Percy, I actually need your help this time. It's like ancient Greek met a dyslexic Ministry transcriber and --” Her voice trailed off as she saw Audrey. “Oh! I'm sorry!”
“My job is never finished,” Percy shrugged as he took the paper away from Hermione and scanned it over. “What part of it is confusing to you?”
“That bit at the bottom,” Hermione said, her cheeks flushing with embarrassment. “I can come back--”
“Nonsense.” Percy frowned at the paper. “This is the last time I let a half-giant transcribe Greek. I'll just dash off a memo that will circumnavigate Ministry paperwork.”
“It really was in Greek?” Audrey asked. “That's a specialty of mine!”
“Well, then the jobs yours,” Hermione said cordially as she sized Audrey up. “Lyndon has too much to do already.”
“Good,” Percy mumbled from his desk. “Problem solved.”
“I'm Hermione,” Hermione said as she offered her hand to Audrey who was bobbing at her out of habit.
“Audrey tentatively took her hand as if she didn't know what to do with it. “I'm Audrey.”
Hermione's eyes widened. “You're the bordello girl?” She immediately blushed. “I mean, the girl from the archives.”
“It was a bordello for centuries before it was an archive,” Audrey pointed out.
Hermione looked relieved as she took a scroll from Percy. She smiled tightly at Audrey. “It's good meeting you. I'm sure I'll see you again.”
Audrey bobbed again and Hermione threw a glare at Percy.
“I'll teach her about modern behavior later,” Percy mumbled.
“I'm sure.” Hermione looked amused as she took Floo powder from the urn near the fireplace. “See you at work, Perce.”
She disappeared into the green flames and Percy and Audrey found themselves alone again.
“So that's Hermione.”
“You know her?” Percy asked, a look of surprise across his face.
“Her name is faintly near yours,” Audrey said, slightly flustered.
“She's my brother's fiancée,” Percy said embarrassedly.
Audrey's eyebrows went up as she looked Percy over. “Really, now?”
“I know.” Percy winced. “It's complicated.”
“You can't get any more complicated than that,” Audrey agreed with a knowing look.
Percy felt flustered. He shook his head uncomfortably and stared at the carpet.
“The-- the lust was awakened in me,” Audrey said embarrassedly. “We-- we don't have to.”
Percy looked up at her and examined her face. “I don't do it because we have to.”
She quirked a corner of her mouth at him. “I think you have enough to think about tonight without complicating it further. You should take me back.”
“Are you sure?” Percy asked.
“It would be for the best.”
Percy reached into his robes and brought out a silver pouch. He opened it and a broken pair of glasses lay at the bottom.
“The bond is still uncertain. Her name is next to Ronald Weasley's as well.” She looked at him sadly.
“I'm sorry,” Percy whispered.
With one last, sad look, Audrey reached out and touched the portkey.
Percy walked into the archives, a bundle of scrolls tucked under his arm. He chuckled to himself and shook his head as his gaze fell upon Perkins and Potter, their heads together over a diagram of Quidditch moves.
Perkins looked up and straightened the glasses on the tip of his nose. “Weasley! You slipped out of here the last time you came to visit.”
“You two were so wrapped up it wasn't hard,” Percy said vaguely hoping no one would question him.
“I'm just amazed she let you out of there.” Perkins gave Percy a knowing look. “I've heard she's turned into the kissing bandit of the third floor. Either she had to be replenished more often or she's just decided she likes kissing.”
“A lot,” Harry added, chuckling to himself.
Percy bit his tongue. He wanted to go to her, but it would make things far more complicated if he did.
“She'd appreciate a visit from you,” Perkins suggested.
“I think I'll pass this time,” Percy declined reluctantly. “I just came here to drop these off.”
“Suit yourself.” Perkins shrugged as his eyes went back to the diagram.
Above them a door softly clicked shut. Audrey locked her door from inside her room and walked slowly to her small bed, her chest feeling heavy.
First one tear fell, then another; soon she was sitting and cradling her head, ink running over her golden cheeks.
“You have no room to talk!” Percy shouted angrily. “You're Engaged! To my brother!”
“Well, if that makes me a whore, what are you, then?” Hermione exploded back.
“I didn't call you a whore!” Percy sniped back, his voice full of aggravation. “I just said it has to stop! You're going to be married! What happens then?”
“I don't know!” Hermione shouted. “Maybe it means I shouldn't be getting married in the first place!”
“Well, don't do it on my account!” Percy felt the blood drain from his face. “You've been keeping me your back-door man long enough I know I don't mean that much to you!”
Hermione closed the distance between then in three steps, mashing her mouth to his angrily. “Don't you tell me what I do and don't feel!”
He tried to push her away angrily, but she held fast to his robes, toppling the both of them to the ground. They struggled on the carpet, their robes rumpling and impeding their moment.
The moment Percy felt a hand on her bare thigh he knew there was no turning back. He ground his erection into her and she punched him on the shoulder before seizing the neck of his robes and pulling him towards her. He pulled his robes up and rubbed the head of his cock between her legs. She wrapped her legs around and jerked him towards her, causing him to enter her in one fluid moment.
He reached down to pull her hair and she growled at him and thrust harder.
It was over in a moment He spilled into her, not knowing or caring whether or not she had taken her pleasure.
She got to her feet, her eyes flashing at him angrily. “Don't worry, Percy. This won't be happening again.”
He sat on the floor, still trying to catch his breath as she threw a handful of Floo powder in the fireplace and stalked out.
He put his head in his hands. This was a fine mess he had gotten himself into, and it was looking like it was about to get worse.
Percy climbed the stairs to the third floor of the Archive, his heart heavy in his chest. He wanted her, yearned for her, but he was starting to wonder if it was worth it. She may never be cured and then where would he be?
Would she be confined to the Archive forever, or could something be done so that she could live out a somewhat normal live? He didn't know and neither did anyone else. He could sneak her out now, but if the Ministry eventually forbade it he couldn't take the chance anymore.
His feet fell on the thick carpet of the landing and Percy looked over the balcony at the wizards working beneath him. They were trying to find a cure, but the situation was looking grim. Weeks were going by and they still hadn't a clue as to what Audrey was cursed with.
He took a deep breath as he pulled the curtain aside to knock on her door.
She pulled it open, but didn't move aside to let him in.
“What have you done?” Audrey looked at him accusingly.
“What do you mean?” Percy felt his face turning red, even as he spoke.
“You know what I mean!” Audrey hissed at him. “Names are smudged up all over. Something happened.”
Percy was quiet for a moment. “I think you know what happened.”
“What were you thinking?” Audrey's eyes opened wide at him. “He's your brother! She's going to be your sister-in-law!”
“I know!” Percy growled back at her. “I just-- I just don't know! Ron's always been a bit of an idiot and Hermione's brilliant! Not just like she can keep her spells straight, I mean with everything! He's too stupid to appreciate her, but--”
“You need to stop making excuses for being too lazy to find a girl of your own,” Audrey said coolly. “You should start now.”
With a step back and the slam of a door, she was gone and he found himself standing on the landing, thankful the wizards below were too engrossed in their work they hadn't witnessed the scene.
He took a deep breath and wiggled his toes in his shoes. He knew something like this would happen eventually, but he hadn't thought about it happening in this way.
He liked Audrey, really liked her, perhaps even loved her a little bit; but what he had been doing with Hermione was a dangerous game. Was he doing it all for nothing if he was falling for another girl? What was he doing it for in the first place? He thought of the excuse he had just given Audrey and he swept it aside immediately. She was right. I was just an excuse.
Maybe it was just the convenience. They both worked long hours at the Ministry, they were both job-oriented, they ran in the same social circles, and at the end of the day there were no expectations. No relationship responsibilities. No relationship.
How many times had he sat by his fire wanting to throw in a handful of Floo powder and go see Hermione, but he knew he couldn't because Ron was home?
He didn't want to descend down the stairs right away, so he ran his hands along the fabric lining the walls until he found a door handle. He swept the fabric aside and opened the door, finding a room that looked like a cozy den. It had a false window displaying the open sea and when Percy stepped in he realized the floor wobbled, as if he were on a boat.
He breathed in deeply, his nose filling with fresh air that smelled of the beach.
He blushed at the idea of this room being used when the building was operating as a bordello. Was it to make sailors feel more at home?
He went to a bookshelf and selected a tome on Gregorian architecture before settling into the comfortable leather chair tucked into the corner. He tried to relax as he felt the floor roll as if they were being supported by water.
He noticed a small carving on the wall and when he touched it he heard a small bell ring. He hoped no one else could hear it and he jumped in his seat when two specters appeared in front of him.
One girl was blond: white waves cascading over tanned shoulders and full bosom. The other had pale skin and jet black hair. Her blue eyes flashed fear and anger at him. Both women were in chains.
“Is this part of the package?” Percy blurted out. He had been warned of theme rooms nestled among the regular ones, but he didn't know they came with specters.
“Yes sir,” the blond chirped. “Pirate fantasy complete with specters and adaptable furnishings.”
“Why specters?” Percy asked curiously.
“We can't be killed, sir,” the dark-haired girl piped up, her eyes no longer hostile.
Percy felt queasy and he was sure it wasn't the floor.
“I don't think I'll be needing that today,” Percy said, his cheeks turning red.
“Are you sure, sir?” The blond had moved behind the dark-haired girl and began lifting her skirts.
Percy forced himself to breathe as the skirt rose over the girl's knees, over her thighs, and finally exposed small pink lips. He took in a deep breath as the blond girl began stroking them and the dark-haired girl started mewling.
“I'm afraid so, ladies,” Percy said apologetically. “I have too much on my mind.”
“We could make you forget, guv,” the dark-haired girl said saucily.
Percy laughed. “No. Go back to where you came from.”
They flickered out of sight and Percy took a deep breath. He opened the book he had chosen and his eyes flitted over the words.
He soon found himself staring at the pages, not reading anything.
There was a light tapping at the window. Percy looked up from his oatmeal to see a large barn owl with orange ear tufts. He snorted as he laid his eyes on it. Hermione must have taught that silly spell to his mother.
He got to his feet and fumbled for the latch on the window. “I'm sorry Detritus. I'd have stopped her if I'd known.”
The owl let out an annoyed hoot before gliding to the bird perch near Percy's icebox.
Percy opened the letter and began to read it as he went to fetch the owl a treat. His hand stopped just short of the jar as his eyes reread his mother's writing.
<i>Ron told us just this morning! Of course, they'll have to move the date of the wedding up. If they waited she'd be as big as a house!<i>
The owl hooted loudly and Percy quickly got it a treat before hurrying to his den. He hadn't seen Hermione since they quarreled and he hadn't seen Audrey since she had thrown him out of her room.
He missed them both horribly, but he had decided to distance himself from the both of them. It had been a hard decision. He had taken to asking Harkness for advice instead of Hermione. Although the old wizard had much experience in the realms of transfiguration Percy couldn't help but wonder if Hermione would have come to different conclusions.
<i>She's only a few weeks along, so that gives us plenty of time to switch things around--</i>
Percy felt his heart sink. Maybe she had made things right with Ron after she had left his cottage. Perhaps they had spent a weekend of lovemaking after she and Percy had fought.
He hoped this were true, but he had a sinking suspicion it wasn't.
Percy straightened his robes before taking a deep breath and glaring at the fireplace.
He didn't want to go and he supposed he could make up some excuse about having to work, but Hermione would know better and God only knew what could happen then.
Perhaps nothing. She might just ignore him altogether.
He didn't know which was worse.
Percy took a handful of Floo powder and angrily threw it into the hearth. The flames made a 'woosh' sound as they leapt forth and he stepped into them before they were were completely formed. “The Burrow!”
He felt himself zipping along through the Floo network, catching glimpses of other people's lives before his feet landed heavily in the fireplace at his parents' house.
He looked up to see Hermione staring at him like a deer in headlights. In that moment he knew.
“Hermione, grab the lemonade for me,” Ginny said cheerfully as she balanced pitchers of tea and pumpkin juice on a tray. “I'm full up.”
“Don't worry, Ginny,” Percy said without his eyes leaving Hermione. “I'll help.”
Ginny made a sound of approval as she bustled out of the kitchen and out the side door of the Burrow.
“Your mother thought it would be nice to eat outside,” Hermione said, abruptly busying herself with the pitcher of lemonade. “We've been having such nice weather.”
She turned, but Percy had blocked her way with his arm against the wall.
“Well, what?” she asked hotly.
“You know exactly well, what,” Percy said, his eyes flashing anger at her.
She opened her mouth, but closed it and drew in a great sigh.”I've got it under control, Percy.”
“Are you joking?” He looked at her in disbelief. “Just because you're getting married it's under control? What is this? 1932?”
“Stop it!” Hermione snapped at him. “He wants it to be his and it should be, anyway.”
Her words were like a spear to the chest. “I see.”
Her eyes pleaded with him, but he couldn't go all soft now. “Then I hope you have the life you deserve.”
He took he pitcher from her and turned on his heel, stalking out of the kitchen; nearly flattening Harry as he came in the side door. He mumbled an apology as he tried to school his expression, waving his wand at the bit of spilled lemonade on the front of his robes.
He took a deep breath as his feet touched the grass of his parents' yard. He looked over at the large table his mother had transfigured and at all the people sitting there.
And he had a secret that could tear it all apart.
Percy was sitting behind his desk at work going over the newest laws about wand-wielding goblins, when there was a knock at his door.
“Enter,” Percy called out as his eyes skimmed over the page. True, goblin-wizarding relationships hadn't been exceptional in the last century, but limiting wand usage to 10% of the goblin population seemed a bit harsh.
The door opened and closed. After a moment of silence Percy looked up to see Harry staring at him, his jaw and hands clenched.
“Can I help you with anything, Harry?” Percy asked as he felt the blood draining out of his face.
Harry continued to glare at him and Percy felt more than a little nervous. “If it's about the new time sheets--”
“It's not about the bloody time-sheets and you know it,” Harry said in a low, dangerous tone.
Percy opened his mouth, but closed it. “Did she tell you?”
“You two were arguing loud enough near an open window,” Harry pointed out, his eyes flashing with anger.
“Did anyone else hear?” Percy asked quickly, but realized it was the wrong question to ask.
“All you're afraid of is getting caught!” Harry snarled in disgust. “Unbelievable!”
“If I was afraid of getting caught I'd have hit you with a memory spell the second you walked in from the yard,” Percy snapped back. “Strangely enough, I was worried too about my brother to think of you.”
“I sure would call that strange after you gave one to his--”
“It wasn't like that!” Percy bellowed as he got to his feet, knocking his chair over. “It was never like that and it was only once!”
“You expect me to believe that?” Harry snorted.
“I don't care what you believe, it's true.” Percy stared back as he ground his teeth.
“You don't care!?” Harry yelled back. Percy was suddenly glad his office was sound proof. “You bloody well should care!”
“I have more than enough people to care about right now, I can't take you on as a charity case!” Percy growled.
“If you manage to break up the only real family I've ever had--” Harry tried to cover up his cracking voice with a dirty look.
“Like I have a spare?” Percy asked, angry and bewildered. “Like I don't know how bad it is?”
“If you mess this up I swear I'll kill you.” Harry lowered his chin and glowered at Percy.
“Then you'll have to stand in line behind mum!” Percy snapped back.
The men stared at each other for a minute before Harry turned towards the door. “Just think of someone other than yourself, for once.”
He wrenched the door open and stalked off, knocking aside a small wizard in lavender robes as he stormed down the hall.
Percy took a deep breath and waved his wand. The door closed with a soft click and Percy found himself standing there, not knowing what to do with himself.
He sat behind his desk and thought for a moment. There really was only one thing he could do to salvage everything.
Hermione was sitting in her office when the small paper plane whisked through the small slot above her door. As it fluttered to her desk she recognized Percy's handwriting.
She opened it with shaky hands and a rose popped out. She skimmed the page as tears welled up in her eyes and she furiously wiped them away. He was only doing what was best, after all.
Percy stood in front of his fireplace, a handful of Floo powder slipping from between his fingers. This was a bad idea. An awful idea, but if he didn't go, he'd have to make up excuses and that wouldn't be very good at all.
The party was already in full swing, Ron sitting in a decorated chair as guest of honor with a pastel colored crown on his head, surrounded bu male friends and family.
“Finally got here, did you?” Bill cried over the din and there was a roar as Percy approached them.
“Good grief, how much have you had to drink?” Percy chuckled as he scanned the crowd of young men.
“Not enough!” Bill said happily, a sure sign that he had had more than enough.
“Oh dear,” Percy said as George pressed a pint into his hand.
“You've got to catch up with the rest of us.” George grinned.
Percy glanced around, but he didn't see Harry anywhere. He sipped at his drink nervously.
“Come sit here, Perce,” Ron called out. “We can catch up together.”
“How'd that happen?” Percy asked as he made his way around the table.
“Last minute raid.” Ron wrinkled his nose. “Lucky to be here at all. I wouldn't be if Harry hadn't volunteered to take care of all the paperwork.”
“Is he coming later?” Percy asked, trying to sound casual.
“I doubt it.” Ron admitted as he downed the rest of his glass. “Said something about having more work to do.”
“That's too bad,” Percy said feeling relieved.
“I'm sure we'll manage,” Bill said as he came over with another pint for Ron. “We'll get him drunk later.”
Percy laughed as Ron groaned when he took the pint from Bill. “I'm sure you will. Trying to go for a record, Bill?”
“He has no idea when Fleur will let him do this again.” Ron grinned.
“Get used to the idea,” Bill warned him. “It'll be you next.”
Ron laughed as Percy took a deep drink from his glass.
“Attaboy, Percy. Show him how it's done!” Bill laughed as he looked at his own empty glass. “Time for a refill!”
“I feel sorry for Fleur,” Ron said as his eldest brother staggered away. “He's going to make a mess when he gets home.”
“Maybe he'll puke before he gets home so she'll be spared at least that,” Percy suggested.
“Maybe.” Ron shrugged as he took a drink from his glass. “I hope so or she'll blame us.”
“God forbid,” Percy muttered as he took another drink. Fleur's temper hadn't mellowed out with age, if anything she'd gotten better at making people feel bad about thoughtless things they had done.
In all, it was a good party. Take-away had arrived and they had eaten well; with a round of drunken singing they started drinking again.
Their merry party began thinning out around midnight and by one o'clock, they were being shooed into the Floo by the tired barman.
Ron had his arm slung sloppily around Percy's shoulder, humming a merry tune and trying to keep himself from falling down.
Percy dug into his robes for a generous tip from the barman, who accepted it graciously and didn't remark at all about the mess they had made.
They arrived at Ron's and promptly fell down from the spinning sensation the Floo gave them.
“We fell down,” Ron said in a puzzled voice as he ran his hands over the carpet.
“Yes, we did,” Percy said with a nod as he pushed himself up. While he had been drinking all night, he had paced himself, making him much more sober than his little brother.
“Baby s'not mine, y'know?” Ron babbled as he found a ridge in the pattern of the carpet and ran his finger along it.
“What?” Percy squawked. His heart began beating faster.
“Well, might be mine, but prob'ly nah,” Ron said, wrinkling his nose up.
“If you don't think it's yours why are you doing this?” Percy asked carefully.
“Don' care.” Ron started crawling along the floor, tripping himself up with his robes often.
“You don't care?” Percy blinked.
“She 'ain't wi' him now, is she?” Ron said, a smug look on his face. “She wan's me t' be the dad. I'm better 'an 'im!”
Percy found himself chuckling in spite of himself. “I'm sure you are,” he said truthfully.
Percy helped Ron to his feet and into his bedroom. He helped undress his brother and set him down gently. After an afterthought, we went to the kitchen and retrieved a giant soup pot to keep near the bed.
Ron snored loudly and Percy snorted. Hermione must really love him to put up with that racket.
He took a deep breath and sighed, taking a moment to brush Ron's hair off his forehead. Like he did when Ron was a baby. This was the right decision. They'd be happy and he'd be able to see his son or daughter all the time. Ron had more time to be a father, anyway and Percy trusted him to raise the baby right.
He tiptoed from the room and over to the fireplace. He looked around before he threw Floo powder in the hearth. “We're going to have to baby-proof this place.”
Percy recognized the parchment, but the writing surprised him. When he and Hermione had broken it off she had decided she was rather fonder of the color blue than the dusky pink she had used before, and a sky-blue envelope was sitting before him. When he opened the letter he was surprised to see his mother's writing.
Ron and Hermione have decided to take a quick holiday. They'll just have to dream of them once the baby is born. He'll need Wednesday through next Thursday off. You'll be looking after Crookshanks. I'll bring him around Wednesday morning. Make it happen.
Your Loving Mother</i>
Percy had to laugh. His mother had never pulled any of the weight she might have at the Ministry, having been related to a decent percentage of it's employees. Apparently she had been waiting for a moment like this.
Percy agreed, and began writing a reply to his mother. Normally he would have grumbled about it, but he wanted to encourage Ron and Hermione to deepen their relationship. The better their relationship got, the less nervous Percy could feel about the whole thing. As long as he knew she was happy.
He folded up his parchment and slipped it into the blue envelope (no need to waste it) and crossed out his address, replacing it with Hermione's home.
He looked up at the blue owl standing before him. “I don't know why you put up with it.”
The owl seemed to shrug as he hooted a reply. Percy chuckled as he gave the letter to it.
It took flight, mussing up all the paperwork on Percy's desk as it made it's way to a small decorative flap-door high up on the ceiling and disappeared up it.
He waved his wand and set his desk right. He was lucky the owl had arrived when he had, Percy was about to leave the Ministry to deliver some documents.
He got to his feet and transfigured his robes to a suit and trench coat. He grabbed the hat that was hanging on the hook near the door and made his way through the Ministry, a leather satchel slung over his shoulder.
He rode the red phone box to street level and got out. He looked at the overcast sky and sighed. It smelled like rain. He needed to make his walk a quick one.
He practically ran towards the bustling street and tried to zip along the sidewalks to his destination, occasionally knocking into people as he went.
“Sorry!” Percy apologized as he bumped into a young Muggle in jeans and a hoodie. The boy swore at him and Percy clenched his teeth as he hurried away.
Soon enough, he was bustling down the lonely alley he had walked down so many times. He straightened him self, taking a moment to run his hand through his unruly curls. At least the dampness had weighed them down a bit instead of going frizzy.
He did the spell to enter the Archives and was surprised when Perkins jumped at his presence.
“Good lord, where is everyone?” Percy asked.
“Sent them home.” Perkins shrugged. “Potter thinks he's on to something and until he proves he isn't the others get to go back to their regular Ministry projects.”
Percy saw a hand pop up at him from behind a stack of large books. It didn't wave, but at least he hadn't gotten the two-finger salute.
“Oh. Well then. Hello, Harry!” Percy felt flustered. He had worked himself up to doing this in front of people and he found it made him more nervous to be doing it in front of just a few.
“Can we help you with anything?” Perkins asked inquisitively.
Percy reached into the satchel and brought out a small bunch of daisies wrapped in ivy. “I think this time I've got it.”
Perkins stared open-mouthed and Harry stood to watch Percy climb the stairs. To his relief, Harry had cocked the corner of his mouth at him.
Percy gently knocked at Audrey's door.
When she opened it, her eyes were angry but they quickly turned to a look of surprise. “Oh!”
“Miss,” Percy started, horribly embarrassed that he didn't know her last name, “I would like permission to court you. I can find a neutral party to chaperon us, as is properly done. If you accept my offer, I would like to take you to out for a meal and promenade around the park at Hogsmede.”
Her eyes welled up with tears and Percy reached a hand out to wipe them away. She blinked when she looked at his hands. “It's not ink.”
“Is it usually?” Percy asked? “Perkins!”
The old wizard was wheezing as he got to the top of the stairs, Potter not far behind him. “What's going on? What is this?”
“I don't know,”Percy said, peering into her face. Her cheeks were growing pinker and her eyes were changing.
“I think I do,” Harry admitted, grinning from ear to ear. Percy didn't know if he were more relieved that Harry didn't want to kill him anymore or Audrey's condition not being dangerous. “That wizard that took you, he loved you, right?”
“I-- I suppose he did.” Her eyes were human now and her cheeks were blushing furiously.
“The curse is broken when the victim is bonded with the person that possesses the object they turn into.”
No wonder Harry looked so happy. There was no threat to his brother anymore.
“But I don't possess you!” Percy pointed out.
“If you think about it hard enough, I think you'll figure out you did. Come on, Potter. We have a mess to clean up.” Perkins took Harry's arm and steered him towards the staircase.
Percy looked into Audrey's face and smiled. It was turning more life-like by the moment.
“I suppose this makes going out all the easier.” She grinned at him.
“I wouldn't have cared either way,” Percy admitted, pink flushing his own cheeks.
“I see,” she said taking his arm. “And who is this chaperon?”
“My father,” Percy admitted as they began to descend the stairs.
“He's an impartial party?” She asked him, an eyebrow cocked.
“More like a hostile party. He'd kill me if I acted anything but polite in front of a lady.” Percy chuckled.
“Even if I am a squib?” Audrey asked.
Percy froze in his tracks. “No one is going to think less of you for being a squib. My brother's fiancée is Muggle-born and her parents come to visit quite frequently. He began leading her down the stairs again.
“I will be spending the rest of my life looking at her across your mother's table,” Audrey pointed out. “You should get used to saying her name again.”
“Hermione's parents come to visit a lot and no one bothers them about it,” Percy said in a rush of breath.
Audrey laughed. “I will fit in, then?”
“You will! And my mother's going to love you!”
Audrey snorted. “I'll believe it when I see it.”
“She already wanted to meet you. I think it's a good start.”
“I'm not sure I remember how to be a person,” Audrey admitted.
“You'll get the hang of it,” Percy grinned. “But first, the most important thing!”
“What's that?” Audrey asked as they reached the ground level of the archives and headed towards the door.
“We have to take you shopping! Wizard and Muggle-wear! You have a century of fashion to catch up to!” Percy exclaimed in mock horror.
Audrey punched him on the shoulder. “You think I'm the type of girl to use all your money?”
“No,” Percy said as he opened the door to the alley. “But I have physical proof we're bonded and I should get used to you spending my money.”
Audrey threw her head back and laughed as Percy waved his wand at her, turning her usual draping fabric into a red dress.
She buried her nose in the flowers he had given her and her blue eyes twinkled at him. Her arms and shoulders looked normal, now and her hair was a lustrous blond. Her wooden legs could be explained away as tights, but they were fading quickly.
“Come on,” he said as he stepped out, holding a hand out to her. “I want to show you everything.”