Percy had gone from purchasing Audrey’s engagement ring to finding out her life might be in danger in a matter of minutes. He felt like he was trapped in a cyclone. Work had always been the stable force in his life—what he enjoyed, where he could excel, something he could count on. Now there was that disgusting and unsanitary entrance to the ministry, the odd hearings, the hideous statue in the atrium. Percy was miserable. Not only was his beloved ministry falling apart, but he was beginning to realize his parents might have been right all along. He planned to go to the Ministry library to do some research and see if he could make sense of things. To top it all off, he had no idea where the love of his life was. He was surprised no one had questioned him about Audrey, but he guessed everyone assumed boring, stuffy Percy Weasley would not have a love life. Percy hoped and prayed with every fiber of his being that Audrey was all right. He had only been without her for four days, but was now certain he wanted to marry her. He’d taken to carrying her engagement ring with him at all times with concealment and sticking charms. He kept reaching in his pocket to feel it, hoping he would have the chance to give it to her. Percy was determined to propose the next time he saw Audrey. If he ever saw her again. He couldn’t allow himself to think that way or he would never survive the day. He was barely surviving the days as it was. Work was awful, home was awful. Everywhere felt empty without Audrey.
Percy arrived home after yet another long day at the ministry. He was just finishing up his supper, when Hermes flew in the open window carrying a parcel in one talon and a small cage in the other. Hermes put both on the table in front of Percy, squawked at him loudly, and flew back out the window, presumably to go hunt. Percy knew when Hermes was disgruntled. He’d have to get him a special treat.
Percy examined the pygmy puff in its cage. It really was the exact color of Audrey’s eyes, and was *chirping* for lack of a better word. He picked up the note attached to the cage.
Thank you very much for your order. As your owl was hungrily eying your new pygmy puff, we enclosed a protective cage at no extra charge. Care and feeding instructions for your pygmy puff are enclosed in the parcel. Thank you again for your business, and we hope to serve you in the future.
Fred and George Weasley
Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes
Ah. That’s why Hermes was so disgruntled. He’d have to have a chat with his owl later. He didn’t want Twoey to be eaten. After much thought, Percy had decided to name his pygmy puff after that large, hideous plant in one of the movies he had seen with Audrey. Percy thought it a rather silly movie, but Audrey loved it, and he had fun just watching her reactions.
“Twoey, do you like your new name?” The pygmy puff began to bounce up and down in his cage and chirped louder. (Percy assumed it was a him. How in Merlin’s name did you know with a pygmy puff?)
“I’ll take that as a yes, then.” Percy unlocked the cage, and the pygmy puff bounced out. Percy petted it gently, and the pygmy puff wiggled and bounced, and bounced right up Percy’s arm to his shoulder, cuddled into his neck, and fell asleep. (Percy checked in the mirror.) Percy smiled. Twoey really was a cute little guy.
Percy next opened the parcel. He put the Patented Daydream Charm aside for later, and opened the Voice-Activated Perpetual Parchment (VAPP). It was a large frame, filled with blank parchment, and had a holder for the dark blue quill in the upper left hand corner. Percy read and followed the instructions. Placing the VAPP flat on his table, he charmed the quill, and began talking to Audrey about everything that had happened in the past few days. He even included the story of buying her ring, because he fully planned to propose before he let her read this. The quill recorded everything he said verbatim. And when it reached what appeared to be the bottom of the page, it scrolled in a fresh sheet. All Percy had to do to find a particular part of what he said was to tap the VAPP with his wand and state the date of the entry, or a word which appeared in the entry, and the VAPP would find it. If he wanted the beginning, he could just say “beginning”. This was completely brilliant! Percy had never realized how smart the twins were. He experimented with the VAPP while Twoey slept on his shoulder.
Percy was really engrossed in using the VAPP when an unfamiliar owl flew to the back of a chair. The new arrival held out its leg and Percy stopped the VAPP and untied the small scroll. Percy unrolled the scroll and read,
I am writing to invite you to come to tea. I thought as a career minded individual you might be able to assist me in planning my future. I always thought you made an excellent Prefect and Head Boy, and you were always so helpful to the younger students. Gran said any night you are free for tea would be fine. Please reply and let us know when you will be coming.
What in Merlin’s name . . .? Percy stared at the note, and reread it several times. Neville Longbottom was asking him for advice? Percy couldn’t even remember ever speaking to Neville individually. He debated writing back that he was too busy to come to tea, but curiosity got the better of him, and he sent a reply with the waiting owl that he would be there tomorrow after work. At least he would be around people he didn’t normally see, and it might be something to take his mind off of Audrey.