Percy apparated back to his flat and just stood there, staring around at nothing. He eventually let his briefcase fall to the floor. He couldn’t believe Audrey was gone! He started to pace back and forth across the small room. Where had she gone? Her friend Sara was in Switzerland. She might have gone there. Nanny lived somewhere in the States, another possibility. What about her parents? Were they going to be all right? Then there was Aunt Gussie. He didn’t know where she lived, but she was in England. Maybe she helped Audrey leave the country?
But why would Audrey need to leave the country? She didn’t assassinate the minister. She was with him. Any hearing would immediately clear her. And how did they even know “a Muggleborn Conspiracy” had assassinated the minister? Were there spells that would tell them that? Percy didn’t know, but he decided he’d try to find out.
Percy knew he couldn’t continue to pace all night. What was he going to do? He wanted to talk to Audrey. He’d only known her for two months, but now he didn’t know what to do without her. What did he do before he knew Audrey? He worked. When he thought about it, he really didn’t have any close friends. He had not told anybody he was going out with Audrey. There wasn’t really anyone to tell, at least, not since he had only seen his family once in two years.
If Bill or Charlie found themselves in this situation, they’d grab one of their friends and go have a few shots of firewhiskey. Percy didn’t really care for firewhiskey, and another person was out of the question because there wasn’t anybody, but maybe if he had a nice glass of Merlot? He went to poke around in his pantry, and success! There was a bottle of Merlot hiding in the back. Percy reached for a wine glass from the rack, but his hands were shaking so badly, he managed to knock over the rack, breaking every glass he owned. Bloody Hell! He waved his wand, and angrily shouted, “Reparo!” The shards flew together in a rather interesting shape, but there wasn’t a wine glass in sight. Percy swore again and kicked the “sculpture”. It shattered rather spectacularly. Percy left the shards there, pointed his wand at the bottle to remove the cork, and nothing happened. Damn! It was a twist cap. Percy opened it angrily and took a long swig. He stomped across the broken glass, his hard-soled shoes making rather satisfying crunching noises, threw himself onto his couch, and continued to drink Merlot straight from the bottle.
Something was bothering Percy’s eyes. He half opened one and realized it was sunlight. Huh? He tried to open both eyes, but that didn’t work, so he slowly sat up. He felt like a puffskein had built a nest on his tongue. He half opened one eye again, and saw the empty Merlot bottle on the floor. He didn’t remember too clearly how it got there. He finally managed to get both of his eyes open, and saw the clock. Merlin! He had to get ready for work.
Percy made it to the ministry by ten after nine, which was not too horrible, considering. He’d had to cast his first ever glamour charm to hide his puffy, bloodshot eyes, and thankfully managed not to vomit when he had to flush himself into work. He planned to go straight to his office and stay there for as long as possible. He was in his corridor when he heard a high pitched voice behind him.
“Hem! Hem! Oh Percy!"
Percy’s heart sank, but he turned around. “Yes, Dolores?”
Dolores Umbridge had continued down the hallway and was now standing right in front of him. “Percy, the Minister informed me you might be spared from your regular duties to help me with record keeping for the hearings that begin today.”
This was the last thing Percy wanted to do right now. Would he even be able to stay awake during hearings? “Of course, Dolores.”
“Very good, then. Come with me please.” Percy moved to put his briefcase in his office, but Umbridge stopped him with a hand on his arm.
“Oh no, no. That won’t do, Percy. We are already late. You may put your things away later, but you need to come with me right now.”
Percy nodded and followed her. They took the lift to level 10, and Percy could not believe how cold it was. Before they left the lift, Umbridge said, “Expecto Patronum!” and a large cat came out of her wand. Although the patronus made the temperature warmer, Percy shivered even more.
Down the hallway, he saw a number of people huddled together on benches with guards and dementors surrounding them. The dementors backed away from Umbridge’s patronus, but it only gave the people on the benches momentary relief. As soon as they had passed, the dementors returned to hovering around the benches.
Umbridge and Percy entered the courtroom, where the large man who had accosted Percy the previous day was already sitting on the dais in the front.
“Yaxley, the Minister freed Percy Weasley’s schedule for record keeping for us, so we can get started.”
“I, Dolores Jane Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic and Chair of the Muggleborn Registration Commission, call this hearing to order.” Umbridge rifled through some papers in front of her. “The first to be called for questioning is Victoria Elizabeth Anderson, formerly of Magical Maintenance. Please bring in Mrs. Anderson.”
Percy saw a terrified woman brought in by a guard and flanked by two dementors. He thought this must be the hearing about the murder of the Minister, but as he took the minutes, he realized none of Umbridge’s and Yaxley’s questions had anything to do with a murder investigation, but with the suspects' being Muggleborn. Mrs. Anderson was sent to Azkaban for no reason Percy could understand. He felt very uneasy. The next three “suspects” had not appeared for their hearings, and Yaxley issued warrants for their arrest. The next four “suspects” were sent to Azkaban. Then Umbridge called, “Audrey Anne Mitchell.”
Percy’s ears perked up, and he sat up straighter. Audrey hadn’t been sitting on those benches with the dementors had she? But no, the guard came back in and shook his head. Yaxley issued a warrant for Audrey’s arrest. Percy breathed a sigh of relief. If Yaxley was issuing a warrant for Audrey’s arrest, then the Ministry did not have her in custody. There was at least a chance Audrey was safe and was not going to end up in Azkaban, simply for being Muggleborn.
Umbridge had lunch brought in for herself, Percy, and Yaxley. Percy didn’t see how he could eat, since he was sickened by what was happening, but he surprised himself when he saw the food, and was suddenly famished. Of course, Percy realized he hadn’t actually eaten anything at all (downing a bottle of Merlot did not count as food) since yesterday morning. No wonder he was hungry! He ate with gusto and with his mouth constantly full, couldn’t participate in Umbridge’s and Yaxley’s disturbing conversation about how happy they were to finally be sorting out the “Mudblood problem”.
When Percy arrived home after the afternoon hearing, he once again stared around his flat. He really needed to clean. He began to pick up various clutter around his flat. He felt better than he had the previous day, since at least Audrey wasn’t in Azkaban, and the Ministry didn’t know where she was. But what had happened to the Ministry? Where had he seen Yaxley before? Why this drastic change of policy? Was there really some kind of Muggleborn conspiracy? Percy didn’t think so, and even if there were, he knew Audrey wasn’t part of it.
Percy moved into his kitchen and saw all the shattered glass. He vanished the lot. He had always been pants at repairing anything. As he systematically scourgified every surface in his kitchen, he thought, “Audrey Anne Mitchell”. He hadn’t known Audrey’s middle name before. That was at least one good thing to come from these hearings, although the ten people now in Azkaban would probably take little comfort in that. Audrey Anne. It was a pretty name and rolled off his tongue so nicely. He said it out loud a few times. AudreyAnneAudreyAnneAudreyAnne. Audrey Anne Weasley. Whoa! Where had that come from? Well, he did have an engagement ring in his pocket. Audrey Anne Weasley. Percy smiled to himself as he went to clean his bathroom.
Percy finished his housecleaning by organizing the papers on his desk. He picked up the last stack to file, and found beneath it a catalogue for Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. Audrey had given it to him after he had apparated out of the shop, so he could peruse his brothers' products without being caught. He hadn’t looked at it yet, but now he had nothing better to do, it might be entertaining.
Percy made himself a sandwich and sat at his table with the catalogue. He quickly skimmed the opening pages of trick wands, Skiving Snackboxes, various kinds of fireworks. He was not interested in any of that nonsense. Oh, here though. Percy read carefully about Patented Daydream Charms. They really sounded very interesting. Percy was quite sure he could daydream about Audrey perfectly well without the help of one of his brothers’ products, but he was curious. That seemed like very complicated magic, and he really wanted to see how it worked.
Percy took the last bite of his sandwich and turned the page. Ugh! There was an entire section of pink pages—all the Wonder Witch products. He could definitely skip those. Well, at least until he saw Audrey again, when she could explain what everything was and what she liked. Percy went to get a butterbeer.
He pulled out the cork, took a swig, and turned the page. And the next and the next and the next. There were several pages that were black with nothing on them. Percy knew he had to have missed something and turned back to the last Wonder Witch page. Next to it there was a plain black page with white writing at the top. “You must be at least 17 to view the following pages. If you are not yet 17, move along to the products later in the catalogue. If you are 17, touch your wand to the page, and the products will become visible.”
Wow. Fred and George must have figured out how to make their catalogue detect the Trace. That was brilliant! And surprisingly responsible. Percy touched his wand to the page, and his mouth dropped open when he saw what appeared. Adult versions of the Patented Daydream Charms. Blimey. There were quite a few varieties. Percy looked them over and turned the page.
Bloody Hell! Percy had no idea what most of these things were, but there were instructions to tap your wand to the box and there would be moving illustrations that demonstrated the use of the product. Percy touched one of the boxes and watched. Hmmm . . .so that was what it was for. He touched a different box. Well, there was a trip to St. Mungo’s waiting to happen. He touched another box. How was the man in the illustration doing that? Percy wasn’t sure he could manage it even if he knew.
Percy turned the page and activated a few more of the illustrations. He was alone in his flat, and he knew he was blushing. One thing was certain—his little brothers were apparently much more experienced than he was if they could invent these products.
Percy decided to move on and quickly turned several pages until he was out of the adult section of the catalogue. Oh, those were cute. Pygmy puffs. They looked rather like puffskeins except they were smaller and in very bright colors. At the bottom of the page there were shiny letters that were constantly changing colors. “Introducing our brand new, never before seen, Pygmy Puff color . . .”
Percy turned the page which made a trumpeting sound when he did. The top of the next page said, “BLEENGRUE!” Below it was a pygmy puff that . . . Percy dropped the catalogue and knocked over his butterbeer. He caught the butterbeer before it all spilled, took a long drink, and picked up the catalogue. That pygmy puff was the exact color of Audrey’s eyes. “Bleengrue—is it green, is it blue? If you can’t tell—it’s bleengrue!” Percy snorted. Only Fred and George would come up with something like "bleengrue" as the name for a color. Percy HAD to buy one of those pygmy puffs.
He flipped to the back of the catalogue and found the order form. Would Fred and George recognize Hermes? They hadn’t seen him in two years, so Percy decided to take the risk. He finished his butterbeer, and spent the next hour going through the catalogue carefully, deciding what he was going to order. Of course, the bleengrue pygmy puff. And he selected one of the Patented Daydream charms, not the adult version. He decided it would be best to try the regular one first. And he also ordered Voice Activated Perpetual Parchment. It was really expensive, but it came with its own quill and had guaranteed replacement for life if the parchment ran out. Percy thought he could use it to “talk” to Audrey. She’d be able to read everything he said when he saw her again. Percy wouldn’t even let himself think the word “if”. He completed the order form and sent it off with Hermes, after instructing the owl to wait for the order. He wondered how long it would take to arrive?
A/N: I read fan fiction for four years before I ever wrote any. There are bunches of fics that talk about Fred and George's catalogue doing interesting things, so that idea is not original with me. There is certainly no plagiariasm intended.