After the hectic events of Neville’s Easter hols, Percy was very thankful for a week and a half of boredom. Percy couldn’t tolerate another week like the week of Easter hols—with Neville’s being injured so badly, and Yaxley in his office three mornings in a row, and eating at Parkinson’s Pub, Yaxley’s making good on his offer to take him out for a pint . . . Percy’s nervous system just couldn’t handle that much stress. He had been surprised at Yaxley’s depth of knowledge about the ministry and the MLES. He was quite intelligent. For a Death Eater.
Percy was glad to be back to the usual mundanity of the Ministry. Even though he did not think he was being followed anymore, he had not dropped his guard. He had only been over to Aunt Gussie’s three times since Neville returned to Hogwarts, and he apparated from the loo each time. “Constant Vigilance!” as Aunt Gussie said.
He was looking forward to his dinner with Aunt Gussie this evening. It had been a long day, and Percy rather fancied a good home-cooked meal.
Percy walked into his flat, put his things on the table, petted Twoey and Hermes, gave them each fresh food and water, and went into the loo to freshen up before apparating to Aunt Gussie’s for dinner. He was quite surprised to find a note attached to the bathroom mirror with his name on it. He took the note, opened it and read,
I borrowed some hair from your hairbrush to charm this note so only you will be able to read it. Blood makes for a more effective charm, though, so you really ought to destroy this after you have read it.
The Carrows have finally had their fill of Neville, so he has had to go into hiding at Hogwarts. Don’t worry; he is safe. Apparently, as the Death Eater’s policy of kidnapping children to control their parents has proved effective, they decided to try the reverse. Auror Dawlish came to arrest me today. I’m insulted that the Ministry would send such an incompetent imbecile to take me in! Really! Who do they think they are dealing with? And only one Auror? I could take out one Auror in my sleep. Dawlish will likely be at St. Mungo’s for a bit . . .
Don’t worry, Percy, because I am fine. I will have to be on the run for awhile, but I have sufficient resources to guarantee my safety. I apparated here under a disillusionment charm as a precaution, and I left some more bottles of Muggle whiskey in your liquor cupboard, and a few meals in your cold cupboard. I am very sorry to have to postpone dinner indefinitely, but once You-Know-Who is defeated for good, we will celebrate.
If you have the opportunity and fancy getting out for a bit, I would recommend going to the Hogshead in Hogsmeade to talk to Abe. He may have insight into what is happening. And I’d recommend asking him about Phirewhiskey.
Take care of yourself, Percy, and stay safe. I will see you soon.
Where was Neville hiding at Hogwarts? How could Aunt Gussie not sound concerned? He was less concerned about Aunt Gussie than Neville, as she had taken down an Auror. And she managed to bring him food and whiskey? Not that he didn’t need it, but Aunt Gussie was certainly something else.
And that last bit about Abe. That had to be Aberforth Dumbledore, the proprietor of the Hogshead. “Phirewhiskey” was a brand name. It was a rather cheap brand, usually what Hogwarts students smuggled in. The emblem on the bottle, though, was a phoenix. That must be some sort of password. Was Aberforth in the Order of the Phoenix with his parents? Possibly . . .
Percy reread the letter several more times until he had memorized it, and then destroyed it as Aunt Gussie had instructed. Since he obviously wasn’t going to Aunt Gussie’s for supper, he went to his cold cupboard to see what she had left him.
Percy was no longer thankful for boredom. After more than two weeks of not seeing Aunt Gussie, he was lonely and nervous. He had even become so desperate for non-work-related human companionship that he had eaten at Parkinson’s the previous evening. Yaxley had come in almost at the same time as Percy, so they had eaten together. It was companionship, but certainly not relaxing as Percy could never drop his guard. One false move and he’d end up in Azkaban like so many other people . . .
Percy settled himself at his desk and began the tedium of answering memos. It wasn’t long before Yaxley appeared in the doorway to Percy’s office.
“Good morning, Percy. I’m glad we had the chance to eat together last night. We should do that more often.”
“That would be good, Yax.” Percy wondered what Yaxley wanted this time. He thought the less time he spent with Death Eaters without being suspiciously unfriendly the less chance that he would make some sort of slip-up.
“So I was wondering Percy . . .”
“Yaxley!” An Auror Percy did not know, came running up to Yaxley and grabbed his arm.
“What is it?” The Auror looked strangely at Percy, and whispered in Yaxley’s ear.
“Smarmy little buggers,” Yaxley grumbled. “What’s crawled up their arse and died this time?” The Auror shrugged. “Fine. Send over Selwyn to deal with whatever it is.” The Auror nodded and left.
Yaxley turned back to Percy. “Goblins.” Yaxley rolled his eyes. “So as I was saying . . .”
Yaxley once again was interrupted, but this time it was not an Auror, but a klaxon-like alarm, which Percy had never heard before. It was different than the alarm from last September.
“I’ll have to talk to you later, Percy.” Yaxley left abruptly.
Percy wondered what was happening. The alarm had sounded, but then stopped, unlike last September. He pulled his Ministry of Magic Policies and Procedures Manual from the shelf behind his desk, and turned to the section on alarms. Percy skimmed the section on what various alarm sounds indicated and what Ministry employees were supposed to do in each situation. When he found what he thought he had heard, Percy almost dropped the manual. It just couldn’t be possible that someone had broken into Gringotts and penetrated far enough to activate the Thieves’ Downfall, could it?
Percy had been very curious all day about what was going on at Gringotts, but nobody at the Ministry had any more information than he did. In the mid-afternoon, Dawlish and another Auror arrived at Percy’s office door.
“Mr. Weasley, you will need to come with us.”
“What’s going on?” Percy stood up from his desk and began to gather his things.
“We just need you to come with us. Quickly please.”
Percy thought it best to do as they asked. He followed the Aurors through the Ministry corridors in silence. They walked to a section of the Ministry where Percy had never been. Dawlish opened a door, and ushered Percy inside.
The room had two doors, but no windows. The only furniture was a table with a few very uncomfortable-looking chairs.
“Wait here, please, Mr. Weasley.”
With that Dawlish and the other Auror left Percy alone. He tried both doors, but they were locked. He didn’t bother with trying an alohomora; he knew what would happen—nothing. Percy was fairly sure he was in an interrogation room, and he was terrified. He didn’t know what they had found out or what he had let slip. He wondered if Aurors knew Legilimency? He sincerely hoped not.
Percy had only been waiting for about five minutes when yet another Auror whose name Percy did not know entered with a tray.
“So sorry to keep you waiting, Mr. Weasley. I’m Frances Stumpton, and I’ve brought tea.”
“Thank you very much, Auror Stumpton.” Percy replied gratefully.
“I’ll just leave this tray, and let you help yourself. We’re so busy today, but I know someone will be with you just as soon as they can.”
Percy nodded as Auror Stumpton left him alone again. He was quite relieved. If they were being kind to him and bringing him tea things, he must not be in any trouble. They probably just needed his advice on whatever it was that had happened at Gringotts. That must be it.
Percy helped himself to a sandwich and poured himself a cup of tea. Even though it was only mid-afternoon, he was already feeling peckish. He actually ate through the sandwiches on the platter, and finished the small pot of tea. He sat there wondering when someone was going to come check on him again. Auror Stumpton had said it wouldn’t be long, and Percy was beginning to worry.
BLOODY HELL!! Percy could not believe how stupid he was! Aunt Gussie would be very disappointed in him. He had been drinking and eating things that were provided by a total stranger when he had not seen them prepared. He had probably been given Veritaserum. Had he not learned a single thing from his lessons with Aunt Gussie? Apparently not, unfortunately. Could he resist Veritaserum? Probably not. Percy knew he was in a lot of trouble . . .
Percy still waited a bit more before Dawlish entered the interrogation room.
“So, Mr. Weasley, where is your brother?”
“Which brother? I have five of them . . .”
“Your younger brother Ronald Weasley?” Dawlish cut off the long ramble that Percy could feel he was starting.
“I have no idea.”
“You have no idea?!”
“That’s right. I have no idea.” Dawlish sighed.
“Where is Harry Potter?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?!” Dawlish seemed rather agitated.
“No. I don’t know.” Dawlish sighed loudly.
“Where is Hermione Granger?”
“I don’t know.”
“Where is your family hiding?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t had contact with my family for several . . .”
“Where MIGHT your family hide?”
“I don’t know. Like I said . . .”
“Is your brother with Harry Potter?”
“Possibly. They are best mates . . .”
“But you don’t know.”
“No. I don’t know.”
“Do you know ANYTHING Weasley?”
“Yes. I know quite a lot actually. I was an excellent student. I know that the Goblin Rebellion of . . .”
“But I was just telling you what I know.” Dawlish made a motion as if he were about to pull his hair out.
“Do you know the whereabouts of any of your family, Weasley?”
“Yes. My elder brother Charlie works at a Dragon Reserve in Romania. I can get you the address if you like . . .”
“That will not be necessary, Weasley.” Dawlish promptly left the room.
Percy breathed a sigh of relief. He was quite sure his tea had been spiked with Veritaserum, but Dawlish really was an incompetent imbecile like Aunt Gussie said if he still couldn’t manage to get any information out of him. Percy rather hoped Dawlish would not be back, but he hoped even more he wouldn’t send in someone else who was more intelligent . . .
Dawlish returned. “Weasley, why would your brother Ronald want to break into Gringotts with Harry Potter and Hermione Granger?”
“Ron, Harry, and Hermione broke into Gringotts?! I have no idea why they would do such a thing!”
Dawlish sighed again. “Yes, Weasley. Those three broke into Gringotts this morning, and escaped on the back of one of the Gringotts’ dragons. You have no idea why they would do that?”
“Absolutely not! Hermione especially. She always followed the rules, and she’s very intelligent. I can’t see why she would ever break the law. Everyone knows you can’t break into Gringotts and survive, and was anyone hurt?”
“Yaxley and several others were hit by debris when the dragon broke through the front doors of Gringotts. They are being treated at St. Mungo’s, but they are fine. You may leave, Weasley.”
Percy could not believe his luck. He also couldn’t believe that any Auror would be so incredibly stupid. But he was thankful for Dawlish’s stupidity, since it worked in his favor. But Ron, Harry, and Hermione breaking into Gringotts? Something big must be happening. He still couldn’t see Hermione breaking the law unless it meant bringing an end to Voldemort’s reign. Percy had not yet been to the Hogshead, but he thought now was the time to go.
When Percy got home, he played with Hermes and Twoey for a bit, ate a sandwich and drank some pumpkin juice, and decided it was time to go see Aberforth. He knew there was some kind of curfew on Hogsmeade, so he didn’t know whether or not he could safely apparate there. He left out quite a bit of extra food and water for Twoey and Hermes just in case, put on the shield cloak he had purchased from Fred and George’s shop and apparated directly to the Hogshead.