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WIP: The Year of Worry and Hope, Chapter 4

Title: The Year of Worry and Hope
Word Count: 1956 (this chapter)
Characters: Percy Weasley, Percy/Audrey, Augusta Longbottom, Neville Longbottom, Lee Jordan, all the Weasleys (with emphasis on Fred and George)
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: language, suggestiveness, violence (mostly by Death Eaters)
Summary: Set during the year leading up to the Battle of Hogwarts, follow Percy Weasley as he falls in love, makes new friends, reconciles with his family, and navigates the intrigue of the Ministry of Magic, which is threatening the life of the woman he loves.
Author's Note: So much for posting once a week, but at least I finally posted. ;)



Chapter 3.5 Seeing Is Believing

CHAPTER 4: Muggle Weekend

Audrey cleared the table and left the dishes in the sink. "I'll do them later. Come with me." Audrey took Percy' hand and led him over to the sofa. "I want to tell you my idea for the weekend."

"Oh, I finally get to hear about your grand scheme?" Percy smirked.

"Yes. Since you've decided not to go to Bill's wedding, I thought we could have "Muggle Weekend" and completely ignore the Wizarding world and just do Muggle things for the next two days."

"That sounds fun. What's the plan?"

"The British Museum tomorrow, and Blackpool on Sunday."

"A museum! I went to "The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities" when my family visited Bill in Cairo before my seventh year. I loved it!"

"Did your entire family go?"

"No, just Bill took me. No one else was interested, but I thought it was brilliant."

"I'm the only person in my family who likes museums."

"Not anymore."

Audrey quickly glanced at Percy, her eyes wide. He was turning very red.

"Um! I just mean, you know, now you have someone to go with." Audrey nodded. "So . . .museum tomorrow, and Blackpool Sunday. What's Blackpool?"

"There's a beach and a resort, a golf course, an ice rink, all sorts of things, but I thought we could go to the amusement park. I haven't been on their newest roller coaster yet."

"What's a roller coaster?"

Audrey grinned. "You'll see."

***

When Audrey's doorbell chimed promptly at 9 the next morning, she was ready. She and Percy walked to Starbucks for breakfast, caught the tube to the British Museum, and arrived when it opened. They wandered around reading every word of every display, collecting every piece of literature available to read later, and taking their time. They had a quick lunch at the Gallery Café, which was quite tasty. They spent the day getting lost in history—and literally getting lost only once.

When the museum closed, Audrey and Percy took the tube back to her flat and ordered take-away Chinese for dinner.

"I've rented a film for us to watch. This is one of my favorites because one of the characters has my name." Audrey smiled, sitting down on the sofa with napkins, silverware, and plates.

"What's it called?" Percy asked as he brought over the food.

"The character—Audrey." Audrey giggled.

Percy rolled his eyes, but chuckled. "The film."

"Little Shop of Horrors."

"That sounds scary."

"No, it's a comedy. It's silly, but I've always liked it." Audrey patted the sofa beside her.

***

Audrey awoke slowly. She was warm, comfortable, and happy and didn't quite want to open her eyes. She stretched and her feet hit something solid. Audrey opened her eyes. Her feet had hit the arm of the sofa. She was awake now. No wonder she was so comfortable. Percy was behind her with his arm around her. She didn't move so as not to wake him up. Not that she was in any hurry to move anyway.

Audrey thought back to the previous evening. She had enjoyed watching Percy's reactions to the movie even more than the movie. Of course, she practically knew "Little Shop of Horrors" by heart. They'd polished off a bottle of wine together, had a lovely snog on her sofa, and fallen asleep talking. The wine probably had a lot to do with that.

Lying on the sofa cuddled up against Percy was certainly testing her resolve to take things slowly, but she didn't want to make a mistake like she had with Walt. She already felt more strongly for Percy than she ever had for Walt. She knew she was in love with Percy. With that happy thought, Audrey drifted back off to sleep.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Percy had decided to go into work late on Monday morning so he could find a wedding present for Bill, and he had accomplished his goal. He had a gift-wrapped package shrunk and in his pocket with a sticking charm. Percy decided to walk the rest of the way to the Ministry. He was caught up on his work, and it was such a beautiful day, he didn't want to waste it.

It'd been a wonderful weekend. Two months ago when he had received the invitation to Bill's wedding, he thought he would spend the weekend at home, alone, and miserable, but Audrey had changed everything. "Muggle Weekend" had succeeded in taking Percy's mind off of things.

Percy now knew what roller coasters were. He wasn't quite sure he liked them, but he'd do just about anything that made Audrey happy, so he'd reserve judgment for the time being. The twins, Ron, and Ginny would definitely like roller coasters—they were all such crazy fliers. He had enjoyed the British Museum more, and would love to return.

Percy knew he was in love with Audrey, and she loved him back. He'd even summoned his Gryffindor courage yesterday to tell her first, he thought proudly. He knew he must have a goofy grin on his face, but he'd never been happier.

Something in a shop window caught Percy's eye as he passed. He pressed his face to the glass to get a better look. Right in front of the display case was a diamond ring with a band of gold butterflies connected wingtip to wingtip. It was perfect for Audrey. The shop wasn't open yet, but Percy hurried to knock on the door. Merlin! Percy stopped himself in mid-knock. That was an engagement ring. A person would only purchase an engagement ring if he were going to propose. Percy paused to think. He loved Audrey. She made him happy. She loved him and didn't try to change him. Yes! He wanted to marry her. He began to knock on the door again, and again stopped. What if she said no? Percy shook himself and firmly told himself to quit dithering. He was a Gryffindor! He knocked on the door.

An elderly woman answered immediately, "May I help you, young man?"

"Yes, ma'am. Er . . . I'm interested in the ring in your window."

"The shop doesn't actually open until ten, but come in."

"Thank you." Percy stepped into the store as the woman held the door, then she locked it again behind him.

"I have to confess, I saw you looking in the window, and was watching to see if you would get up enough nerve to come in or not."

"Er . . ." Percy blushed.

"That's all right, dear, I see it all the time." She patted Percy on the arm. "Now which ring was it you wanted to see?"

"The one with the butterflies."

She walked over to the case as she spoke, "Oh, that one is lovely. It's always been a particular favorite of mine, but you're the first person who has wanted to see it." She fiddled with some keys from her pocket, unlocked the case, removed the velvet cushion that held the butterfly ring, as well as some other pieces, and placed it on the counter.

Percy didn't have to look twice at the ring to know it was perfect for Audrey. He also bought her a matching butterfly necklace for her birthday present. He was very thankful Audrey had helped him set up his own Muggle bank account so he didn't have to go to Gringotts every time they wanted to do something in the Muggle world. Percy paid for his purchases, had the birthday gift wrapped, thanked the shop's proprietor, and continued on his way to the Ministry.

After his unplanned stop, Percy didn't want to be much later for work, so he slipped into the nearest alley to Apparate to the Ministry entrance. Something was wrong, though. Why couldn't he Apparate? He was confused, but he didn't take time to worry about it and continued walking to the Ministry. When he arrived, he saw a large crowd gathered outside. What in the world? Before he could ask anyone what was happening, Percy felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned and saw a very tall, blond man.

"Weasley," the man said, "where have you been all weekend?"

What right did this man have to ask for his whereabouts? Who did he think he was?! Percy puffed out his chest and responded haughtily, "What business is it of yours?"

The man poked Percy in the chest and hissed back, "It IS my business Weasley, because I am the new Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement under the NEW Minister of Magic. It is my business to know where everyone is. So you will not take that tone with me if you know what's good for you."

Percy was shocked. "I apologize, Sir. I didn't know. I wasn't aware there was a new Minister of Magic."

"Minister Scrimgeour was murdered on Saturday by a group of Mudblood conspirators. We are implementing new security procedures to protect Minister Thicknesse as we interview suspects. You will no longer be able to Apparate to the Ministry, but will need to use tokens and enter over there." He pointed. "These new procedures will help us weed out the undesirables."

"Undesirables?"

"Yes. The Mudbloods and those who support them. Don't worry, Weasley. You're Pureblood, and since you've completely cut ties with your Blood Traitor family, you'll be fine. I was gratified to see you were not in attendance at your brother's wedding on Saturday. You seem to know your place. Let's keep it that way, yeah?"

"Yes, Sir." Percy felt extremely uneasy.

"Good lad. You may enter the Ministry." With that, he handed Percy a token, patted him on the shoulder, and walked away.

Percy started towards where the blond man had indicated. He didn't even know who he was. Percy was surprised when he walked into a bathroom. There was a line of people entering the stalls. Percy wondered if he had gone to the right place, when he heard someone muttering about "Bloody inconvenient new entrance" and figured he had. When Percy entered a stall, a disembodied woman's voice said serenely, "Please insert your token, step into the toilet, and press the button."

They had to flush themselves into the Ministry?! What the bloody hell . . .? Percy looked at the toilet uncertainly. Then he saw the feet on the ground next to him step up. He stepped into the toilet. He was completely disgusted! This could NOT be sanitary. He pushed the button, and fell down a pipe, arriving in the atrium. At least he was dry. As Percy got up off the floor, he saw a huge black sculpture had replaced the Fountain of Magical Brethren. He was horrified to see it was made of piles of skeletons. "MAGIC IS MIGHT" was carved into the base. Percy was worried. What in Merlin's name had happened? He needed to find Audrey.

He went to Audrey's office before going to his own. He was horrified to find it locked and dark. She should have been here by now! And even more disturbing, the "Muggle Liaison Office" sign on the door was missing. Becoming more confused by the second, Percy went to his own office.

A swarm of memos flapped around the ceiling. He collected them and began to read. Percy's worry turned to terror as the words attacked him. "Minister Murdered by Mudbloods", "Perpetrators will be Prosecuted", "Muggleborn Registration Commission", "Magic Is Might, Muggles Can't Fight". Percy spent the rest of the day sorting through all of the memos and answering the ones he had to.

Even though he had come to the Ministry late, he left promptly at 5. He exited the building, found an alley, and Apparated directly to Audrey's flat. It was completely empty.

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