Percy awoke to gray dawn outside the window. It took him a few minutes to realize where he was, since it certainly wasn't his flat. After he stretched and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, he remembered all of the Weasleys had decided to follow Professor McGonagall’s advice and go to the dormitories to sleep rather than returning home, since they had no idea of the condition of the Burrow. Percy could have returned to his flat, but decided to stay with his family.
Percy looked next to his bed and found clean clothes waiting for him. The house elves must have been busy. He went to the loo, showered, and dressed quietly, and decided to take a walk on the grounds. He was so used to being alone almost all of the time it was strange to be with so many people. As he passed through the Gryffindor Common Room, he noticed plates of pastries and pots of coffee. Percy selected a few pastries, poured himself a large cup of coffee, and went outside for his breakfast.
When he left the castle, Percy still couldn’t believe the destruction around him. He walked by the lake and went to what he considered “his spot”. This was where he had always come to think when he was a student. There was a pile of large boulders on the edge of the lake, and the way they were positioned created a little nook where he could sit and be almost completely hidden from view. He could see most of the lake, but it was unlikely that anyone would see him. The lake had escaped the destruction of the rest of the grounds, so Percy watched the sunrise over the lake, while he ate his pastries, drank his coffee, and tried to process everything that had happened.
Percy sat there long enough to finish his breakfast, and was about to leave, when he saw Neville and Hannah sit on the shore of the lake. They were close enough that he could see them clearly, but far enough away that he couldn't hear what they were saying. Percy felt like he shouldn't be sitting there watching them, but he didn't want to get up and disturb them either.
Neville and Hannah talked for awhile, and he saw Neville nod, and begin taking off his shoes and socks. Hannah was already barefoot. She stood up and offered Neville her hand to help him up. Then Hannah gave Neville a large stick. What in the world? They walked into the water. They talked for a few minutes while standing in the water, and then Percy was shocked when Neville started hitting the water with the stick.
Neville was screaming and crying and shouting obscenities Percy didn’t know Neville even knew. Percy couldn’t make out all the words, but he knew the emotion well enough. This went on for quite a while. Percy didn’t think he should be watching but there was no way for him to return to the castle without Neville and Hannah seeing him. And he was fascinated. When Neville had calmed down, he saw Hannah approach him and take his hands. She went on tiptoe aiming to kiss Neville's cheek, but Neville turned his head and kissed her on the lips. Go Neville. Percy knew he shouldn’t be watching this, especially as his heart clenched at how terribly he missed Audrey.
Neville continued kissing Hannah, and Percy assumed they wouldn't notice if he left quietly. Percy began his walk back to the castle as quietly as possible. The sun was fully up now, and he didn't know what to do next. He wondered if anyone else from his family was up? He really needed to go back to his flat and check on Hermes and Twoey. He walked into the Entrance Hall, and decided to go see Fred again. Percy was alone in the Great Hall, and had some time to talk to Fred. He was thankful he was alone, because he really didn't want anyone else to hear everything he wanted to say to his younger brother to say good-bye.
As Percy left the Great Hall to return to the Common Room, Neville was coming in from outside. He was soaking wet. Percy waved awkwardly. He really didn't know what to say. He knew why Neville was wet, but didn't know if Neville knew that he knew, and wasn't sure he wanted to bring up that topic. Fortunately, Neville spoke first.
"Gran went into Hogsmeade yesterday afternoon and owled Aunt Lucy and Uncle Ed, so Audrey should know fairly soon that we won the war."
Percy had so much he wanted to say, that he didn't know where to start, so he settled for nodding.
Neville said, "You look like I felt this morning. If you feel like you have so many different emotions that you're going to explode, I would recommend beating the hell out of a pond or a lake or whatever."
"I think the cute girl helped more than the lake." Percy blushed at what he had just admitted to witnessing.
Neville chuckled. "Probably. I thought I saw you over in the rocks, but I wasn't really paying that much attention."
"Yeah, you were otherwise occupied," Percy laughed. "I wasn't trying to spy on you or anything."
"I know." Neville shrugged. "The lake's a public place."
Just then, Hannah came inside, also quite wet and carrying two sets of shoes and socks. Neville beamed at her. Percy took his cue.
"I'll see you both later." Neville waved at him, and Percy went back to the Common Room.
When Percy arrived back at Gryffindor, there were quite a few people who were up. He saw Ron and Hermione cuddled up on one sofa, Harry and Ginny were sitting near them on antoher sofa, not looking quite as cozy, but certainly comfortable enough. He started over to them, just as he saw George coming down the stairs. Percy waved to his siblings and their friends, then headed towards George.
As Percy approached, he realized that George looked awful, as if he had not slept at all and had spent the entire night crying. Percy said quietly, "Are you all right, George?"
George bellowed, "NO! I AM NOT BLOODY ALL RIGHT!"
There was instant silence in the Common Room. Percy put his arm around George in an attempt to comfort his brother, but George pushed him away and continued screaming, "DON'T BLOODY TOUCH ME! YOU DIDN'T JUST LOSE YOUR TWIN!"
"No, but we both lost a brother . . ."
"OH, YOU CARE NOW, HUH? YOU HAVEN'T CARED FOR YEARS! IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN YOU WHO DIED INSTEAD OF FRED!"
Percy heard Ginny gasp, but before he could say anything, George's fist connected with his face, and everything went black.
Percy started to wake up slowly. He was very comfortable, and his head was on something soft. It wasn't a pillow, though. A lap? He was pretty sure his head was in someone's lap. And someone's hand was smoothing his hair away from his forehead. Percy didn't open his eyes, but wondered if his voice would work. "Audrey?"
"No, Percy. It's just me. I'm sorry."
Percy opened his eyes and was looking up into the concerned face of his sister. "Ginny?"
"Are you okay?" Ginny put her hand on his forehead. Percy was struck how much she seemed like his Mum.
"George hit you. Harry fixed your nose, and your glasses, and the bump on your head. I tried to wake you up, but couldn't so we just made you comfortable. At least, I hope you're comfortable . . ." Ginny giggled nervously.
Percy sighed. He remembered now. George told him he wished he had died instead of Fred, and then hit him. Great.
"Are you hurt anywhere else?"
He was rather brokenhearted that George hated him, but he really couldn't blame him. He had abandoned his family. He probably deserved to be punched. Ginny looked worried about him, so Percy said, "No. I'm not hurt anywhere else. Thanks."
He tried to sit up, since now that he was conscious, it was rather embarrassing to have his head in his sister's lap. Ginny helped. Percy looked around, and was surprised to find that they were alone in the common room. "Where is everyone?"
"Mum, Dad, and Charlie left before you came back to go see Fred again. I haven't seen Bill and Fleur this morning. Ron and Hermione went after George. Harry was here with me until Kingsley and Professor McGonagall came to get him to talk about something." Percy nodded. He looked down at his shirt, and realized he was covered in blood. His own, he imagined. "I'm sorry. Harry and I are both pants at cleaning charms, apparently. We couldn't get the blood out of your shirt."
"That's all right. I appreciate your skill in healing." Percy smiled at Ginny who returned it. "I'll just go home and change." Percy stood up. "Would you like to come?"
"Come to your flat with you? Yes!" Ginny stood up, too.
"I'll send Dad a patronus and tell him where we're going so he and Mum won't worry." Ginny nodded.
Percy concentrated on the last time he had seen Audrey, and said, "Expecto Patronum!" His silver butterfly flew out of the tip of his wand. Percy thought the message he wanted relayed and sent the butterfly on its way.
"Percy. Why is your patronus a butterfly?" Ginny smirked at him.
Percy could feel himself blush. "Because Audrey likes butterflies. Before I was going out with Audrey, my patronus was an owl." Percy and Ginny left through the portrait hole.
"Neville had told me about you and Audrey. I'm happy for you. I like Audrey."
"That's right! You sat with her at the Yule Ball. Neville gave me pictures. I forgot that you know her."
"May I ask you something?" Percy looked at Ginny and nodded. "Are you in love with her?"
Percy didn't hesitate. "Yes." He reached into his pocket, removed the ring box, and handed it to Ginny. "I could use a woman's opinion. What do you think?"
Ginny gasped as Percy handed her the small velvet box. She opened it and squealed, "Percy! It's just perfect! She'll love it!" Ginny was beaming as she returned the box to her brother. "How long have you had the ring?"
"For nine months. I bought it right after the last time I saw Audrey. Then the Ministry went to hell, and Audrey had to go into hiding . . ."
"I'm sorry, Percy. You must really miss her."
"I do." Percy and Ginny walked in silence for several minutes. Percy wondered if he could confess his greatest fear to his sister. "I've kept telling myself over all these months that I had to keep going so that when Voldemort was defeated, Audrey and I could be together. I guess I thought she'd apparate in front of me the second Voldemort lost. I didn't realize that it would take time for word to get to her, then she'd have to travel back . . . What if she . . .what if she doesn't feel the same way anymore?" Percy ended in a whisper.
Percy couldn't look at Ginny. She was quiet for a bit. They arrived at the castle doors and walked out into the sunshine. As they began to cross the grounds, Ginny asked quietly, "Did you tell her you love her?"
"Did she tell you?"
"Then you have nothing to worry about. I waited for Harry for all this time, and we've never even told each other. There's no way she'd tell you she loved you and not really, really mean it."
"Thanks, Ginny." Percy put his arm around her as they walked towards the gates. He realized he'd never actually apologized to Ginny. She apparently forgave him already, but still. "I'm sorry I've been such an awful big brother, Ginny."
"You haven't been an awful big brother. You were a very good big brother for the first fourteen years of my life. I'll forgive the last few when you weren't."
"And I'm sorry for throwing mashed parsnips at you." Ginny laughed.
"So that was you? I never knew for certain if it was you or one of the twins." Percy nudged her playfully. They both laughed together.
They had reached the gates, and Percy said, "Okay. I'll side-along apparate with you to my flat." Ginny nodded. Percy took her arm and apparated.
They arrived in Percy's flat to hooting and excited peeping. Hermes and Twoey were both on Hermes' perch together and seemed very happy to see Percy and Ginny. Ginny glanced around as Percy went over to pet Hermes and Twoey. Thankfully they still had food and water left, so he had put enough out before the battle started. He opened the window to let Hermes go hunt if he wanted to.
"You have a pygmy puff?" Ginny sounded like she couldn't believe her eyes.
Percy blushed again. "Yes. His name is Twoey, and you remember Hermes. I'll just go change."
Percy left his sister with his pets, and went to his bedroom to change his shirt. When he returned, Hermes had flown off to hunt, and Twoey was sitting on Ginny's shoulder peeping excitedly.
"Can we take Twoey to meet my pygmy puff Arnold?"
"Of course. Let's go."