Percy stood in the loo washing his face with cold water for the fourth time in ten minutes. Aargh! A three hour meeting! And he’d made a glaring error in his budget. He couldn’t believe it! He had checked, and double-checked, and triple-checked and still made a mistake? And why did Roland, of all people, have to find it? He couldn’t stand Roland! The pompous, arrogant prat.
And the owl he’d received. Bill was getting married? He hadn’t even known that Bill had a girlfriend. Which was his own fault, when he thought about it. Could he possibly go to the wedding? Bill had invited him, so he must not hate him. But most of his siblings DID hate him. What if Fred and George threw food at him again or made a scene? It would ruin Bill’s wedding, and then Bill would hate him, too. Maybe he could skip the wedding, but send Bill a present and an explanatory owl afterwards? He had time to decide, and he couldn’t hide all afternoon.
Percy finally left the loo, and as he walked down the hallway, he heard his father’s voice. He just could not face his father today after everything else. Percy ducked into an alcove and flattened himself against the back of the statue of Wendell the Wide. He heard his father and the person to whom he was speaking pass, and Percy breathed a sigh of relief. He peeked out around the statue, did not see anyone, and left the alcove. He thought he was free and clear until he heard an amused voice behind him.
“Hide here often?” Percy whirled around to face the voice, tripped, and landed with a thud on his arse. He found himself looking up at quite a lovely witch. She was wearing elegant, burgundy business robes with embroidery around the sleeves and neck. Her light brown hair was piled on her head with some type of clip from which many strands were escaping. But her eyes really captured Percy’s attention. He couldn’t really tell what color they were, bluish-green? Greenish-blue? Maybe her glasses were distorting them.
“I’m sorry, Percy, I didn’t mean to startle you. Let me help you up.” She reached out her hand to him.
Percy, realizing he had been staring, took her hand and stood up. It wouldn’t do to be seen sitting on the floor of the ministry. Then he had a sudden realization. “How do you know my name?”
“I was two years behind you at Hogwarts in Hufflepuff, and since you were Head Boy, everyone knows your name. I’m Audrey, by the way, and I know a much better place to hide if you want to take a break and come with me.”
Percy blushed at having been caught hiding, but nodded to Audrey’s suggestion. She was still holding his hand. Percy looked down at their joined hands as they walked down the hallway. The embroidered trim on her robes was hundreds of interlinked butterflies.
They arrived at the apparition site for the ministry, and with barely any warning, Audrey said, “Hang on!” and side-along apparated him away.