Percy had a bit of a lie in, and was consequently running late to work. He didn’t glance at the Daily Prophet, or take time for breakfast, although he did give Twoey and Hermes fresh food. He apparated to just outside the Disgusting Entrance, as he’d taken to calling it in his own head, flushed himself in, ran to the cafeteria for a scone and a coffee, and made it back to his office at nine o’clock on the dot. Percy took a deep breath as he sat down at his desk. He used to love his job, but with more arrests reported every day, now Percy just worried and hoped he would not be next. Come to think of it, not taking time to read the paper may not have been such a great idea. He didn't know who had been arrested in the past 24 hours. After all, he didn’t want to send a memo to someone who was in Azkaban.
Percy had only just finished his scone and coffee when he heard, “Weasley.”
Bloody hell. Yaxley. “Good morning, Sir.”
“Don’t you ‘Good morning’ me, you blood traitor scum!”
Percy could feel the blood drain from his face. He had never seen Yaxley look quite so furious. Percy had no clue how to respond, so he kept quiet.
“Well?!” Yaxley thundered, leaning both hands on Percy’s desk and glaring at him.
“Well, what? Sir?”
“You can’t tell me you don’t know why I’m here.”
“But I don’t know why you are here, Sir.”
“I’m here because your brother does not have spattergroit.”
“Oh, so Ron got better?” Percy had a sinking feeling Ron had never had spattergroit, but he certainly wasn’t going to admit that to Yaxley.
“Don’t play dumb with me, Weasley! Your brother Ronald was captured by snatchers last night in the company of Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. Ronald Weasley is now Undesirable #3, and I want you to tell me where he is!”
“I have no idea where my brother is, Sir. You know I have not spoken with any of my family in quite some time . . . “
“You may not have spoken to them, but you share their Blood Traitor ideas, Weasley! Don’t even try to deny it! We saw you in that Muggle shop.” Yaxley spat the word ‘Muggle’ as if it were a despicable curse word.
Bloody hell! They’d seen him go into Wodehouse’s? Of course, it wasn’t technically illegal to enter a Muggle shop, but this wasn’t good. Percy kept quiet and looked Yaxley in the eye, trying to appear politely interested rather than terrified.
“Well?! What do you have to say for yourself, Weasley?!” Yaxley was bent over Percy’s desk screeching into his face.
“I fancied some fish and chips, Sir.”
“From a Muggle shop!?”
“Yes, Sir.” Percy’s brain finally began to function, and he started inventing wildly. “When I was at Hogwarts, and for a bit after, I went out with Penelope Clearwater. She was Half-blood and had grown up eating at Wodehouse’s. We went there several times, and I became rather hooked on it, too.”
“Penelope Clearwater, you say?” Yaxley was writing her name down on some parchment he pulled from his robes.
“Yes, Sir.” Percy was worried. He had no idea where Penelope was—he hadn’t spoken with her since she ditched him. He didn’t think she would purposely hand him over to Death Eaters, but she also wouldn’t lie for him to the authorities, especially when she didn’t even know he needed her to. Percy could only hope that she had left the country with her Muggle mum . . .
“You were carrying a lot of food with you Weasley—not the amount for one person.”
How closely had they been watching, anyway? “Well Sir, it’s such an inconvenience to enter Muggle areas, that on the very rare occasions I patronize Wodehouse’s, I get enough food for several meals. I keep it fresh with preservation charms.”
Percy hoped Yaxley would believe that. It had to have been luck that they saw him enter Wodehouse’s. They couldn’t track where he was apparating unless they grabbed hold of him.
“I recommend Parkinson’s Pub. They make the best fish and chips there are.”
“I’ll have to try there, Sir.” Percy wrote down the name on some parchment. “Where are they located?”
Yaxley stared at Percy as if he were quite thick, as he replied, “Parkinson’s is at the corner of Diagon and Knockturn Alleys.”
Percy wrote that down. “Yes, Sir.”
“So Weasley, are you seeing anyone currently?”
He couldn’t possibly know about Audrey, could he? If he did . . . “No, Sir.”
“When was it you and Penelope Clearwater broke up?”
“A bit over three years ago, Sir.”
“No girlfriend in three years?”
“Or no appropriate girlfriend you will admit to having?”
“I don’t know what you mean, Sir. Penelope and I went our separate ways because I wanted to concentrate on my career. I didn’t want to get married so young.”
“Your career, hmmm?”
Percy knew Yaxley was fishing for information. If he knew about Audrey he’d have Percy in Azkaban already for harboring a fugitive or some such nonsense. “Yes, my career. I am the youngest Ministry worker to be appointed as Junior Undersecretary since Patrick O’Flaherty became Junior Undersecretary 87 years ago.”
Yaxley stared at Percy, but did not comment.
“Where is your father, Weasley?”
“I don’t know, Sir. Isn’t he here?”
“No, Weasley, he isn’t here, or I would not be asking you where he was.”
“Maybe he’s just late, this morning.”
“I thought so, too, and sent Aurors out to your parent’s house to check. No one was there.”
“Maybe they went on holiday?”
“Holiday!” Yaxley was leaning over Percy’s desk and yelling again. “Do you think I’m stupid, Weasley!?”
“No one is at your parent’s house. No one is at your twin brothers’ shop—it’s been boarded up. Your father did not come to work today, and I checked with Gringotts, and neither did your eldest brother or his wife. Where does your eldest brother live, Weasley?”
“I have no idea, Sir.”
“He invited you to the wedding, didn’t he? And you don’t know where he lives?”
“That’s correct, Sir. I might know where he lives had I attended the ceremony, but since I didn’t . . .”
Yaxley stopped leaning on Percy’s desk, slightly placated. “Where is your second eldest brother, Charles?”
“He works with dragons in Romania.” Percy was certain Yaxley already knew this, but he was writing it down anyway.
“Most of your family are now fugitives, Weasley, wanted by the Ministry for harboring Undesirables. If we find any of them, they will be sent to Azkaban immediately. So will you, Weasley, if I hear even a hint that you have contacted them or know where they are. Is that understood?”
“We’re watching you, Weasley.” Yaxley turned and left.
Percy breathed a sigh of relief. Merlin. Was it too early in the morning for a drink?