Percy didn't know what to do with himself. It had been a week since "The Battle of Hogwarts" as it was now being called, and he still hadn't seen or heard from Audrey. Aunt Gussie had even managed to find the Muggle telephone number of Audrey's Aunt Lucy and Uncle Ed, but when she went into town to place the call, the only answer was a machine. She left a message, but would Audrey hear it? Were those Muggle contraptions even reliable? Percy realized his pacing was going to wear out the rug, so he sat down.
He had already used his Voice Activated Perpetual Parchment to "tell" Audrey everything about the battle, and Neville and Hannah, and his conversation with Ginny, and Fred's funeral, and how his family had forgiven him . . . Well, most of his family, anyway. Everyone except George. He and George had not spoken since George had punched him. Percy reached to the table in front of him and poured himself a shot of the Muggle whiskey Aunt Gussie had given him. Good stuff—nice and smooth but with a kick, but not so much of a kick that it burned your throat like firewhiskey. Drinking himself into a stupor wasn't going to help anything, though. Percy stood up again and resumed his pacing.
He knew the rift between himself and George was causing his family even more pain, but he had no idea what to do about it. Except for Fred's actual funeral, Percy and George had not been in the same space at the same time. George left the room whenever Percy showed up at The Burrow. Percy had taken to alternating days between The Burrow and Aunt Gussie's and making sure that his plans were well-known, so that George wouldn't spend all of his time alone in his room. From what Ginny had told him, it was quite a struggle to get him to come out of his room anyway. Maybe Audrey would have an idea when she came back . . .
Percy sat down again. What if Audrey didn't come back? No. Percy wasn't going to let himself think like that. He knew from Kingsley that there was a lengthy waiting list for portkeys. So many people had fled from Voldemort, or had been in hiding, and were looking for their children or immediate family members. Percy was at least fairly certain Audrey was safe, and most people did not have that reassurance. He knew this logically. He had seen what a complete mess the Ministry was in when he tried helping for a day. He had left, though, with Kingsley's blessing, when the temptation to bypass protocols and contact Audrey was too great. He'd always followed the rules. They were logical and made sense and kept order. He just didn't feel like being logical about Audrey. He poured himself another shot of whiskey and sighed. He couldn't even play with Twoey, since the little traitor had decided to stay with Ginny and Arnold at the Burrow. Percy felt betrayed by his pygmy puff. How pathetic was that! He got up and headed to bed.
Percy watched as a wall exploded into Fred, leaving him staring up, a ghost of a last smile on his face. Percy shook his little brother, begging him to wake up. Huge spiders came through the wall, and before Percy could do anything one of them bit Ron, who went into a violent spasm, and then was still. As Percy switched from shaking Fred to shaking Ron, Hermione, who was screaming and crying, slipped in a puddle of blood and fell out of the hole in the side of the building. Harry grabbed Percy and dragged him away before another spider could bite him.
Percy was battling eight Death Eaters with Aunt Gussie, and one of the Death Eaters cast Avada Kedavra at Aunt Gussie, Percy conjured a mirror, but he was a second late and Aunt Gussie hit the floor, dead.
Percy and his Dad were dueling Thicknesse, and his shield wasn't strong enough, Thicknesse's spell got through, and Dad was torn in half.
Mum was fighting Bellatrix Lestrange, but Bellatrix was the better dueler and killed his mother while Percy watched.
Percy was in the Great Hall after the battle, looking at rows of bodies in the middle of the floor. His Mum, Dad, Fred, Ron, Hermione, and Harry, were in front of him. No one had found Bill, Fleur, Charlie, or Ginny. Percy was sobbing. They'd beaten Voldemort, but he didn't feel happy. All of his family was dead or missing. Then Neville walked in carrying a body, tears running down his face. Percy went to comfort his friend and saw the body Neville was carrying—Audrey.
Percy screamed. He was drenched with sweat, tangled in the sheet, and crying. He thrashed frantically to untangle himself, fell on the floor, scrambled to his feet, and then grabbed his wand. He knew the images weren't true. Except for Fred. Fred was really dead. And Percy still hadn't seen or heard from Audrey. He felt like his chest was going to explode. Percy apparated.
He arrived in the garden at The Burrow, near the pond. He didn't bother finding a stick, but ran into the water, crying and beating it with his fists, and screaming about every injustice in the world interspersed with every bit of profanity he knew. His vocabulary of profanity was actually quite extensive. He was related to Charlie and the twins, after all.
Percy continued to scream and cry and beat the pond. He was sopping wet and cold, and he didn't care. He kept screaming. "Damn it, Fred! Why did you die?! We're never going to be a whole family again! And we're even less complete since I buggered things up so badly that my younger brother hates me!"
"I don't hate you."
Percy whirled around so quickly, he lost his footing and landed with a splash on the muddy bottom of the pond. Sitting in the muck, Percy looked up into the tear-streaked face of George.
"You don't hate me?"
George shook his head, but didn't say anything else. Percy really wasn't surprised since this was the only time George had spoken to him since he'd hit him.
"How long have you been standing there?"
"Quite a while. I couldn't sleep and was on the porch. I heard someone apparate and came to check. I cast a Muffliato on the house when I saw it was you."
George shrugged. "What are you doing?"
Percy knew he was blushing, but figured the truth was best. "Erm . . . I was beating the hell out of the pond."
George just stared at him, until he finally said, "What did the pond ever do to you?"
Percy started to laugh. George was looking at him as if he were crazy, and that just made him laugh harder. When Percy could finally stop laughing, he realized George wasn't laughing and hadn't said anything. Percy really didn't know what to say. He hadn't planned for the first conversation he had with George to take place while he was sitting in the pond in his underwear in the middle of the night. Thankfully, George finally spoke.
"Percy, I'm really sorry. I know what I said is completely unforgivable, and I don't expect you to ever forgive me, but I want you to know I didn't mean it." George's voice cracked.
Percy actually had to think for a second about what George meant. "It's fine, George. It was just one comment. Of course I forgive you."
George still looked anguished. "But what I said . . ."
"I said you're forgiven. Look George, I abandoned our family for three years. I didn't even go visit Dad when he was hospitalized, and everyone forgave me. You said something you didn't mean. You've apologized, and I forgive you."
George looked a bit better. "I guess Weasley's are in the business of forgiving the unforgivable."
Percy smiled. "Yeah, I guess we are."
George smiled back and reached out a hand to help Percy out of the pond. Percy had no idea what possessed him, but he yanked and pulled George into the pond with him.
"Bloody hell!" George shrieked as he hit the cold water. Percy started laughing again, and George pushed him under. Percy came up spluttering and got his revenge. Soon Percy and George were splashing around in the pond trying to dunk each other just like when they were children.
After they were both drenched, muddy, cold, and breathless with laughter, they finally helped each other out of the pond.
"I could use a drink. How about you, Perce?"
"Sounds good." Percy followed George back to the house. After going inside, George went straight to the cupboard where their Dad kept the Firewhiskey. George opened it, looked around, closed the door, glanced in the bin, and sighed. "Someone finished off the firewhiskey," he whispered.
"We can go to my flat. I don't think I have any firewhiskey left either, but I know I have Muggle whiskey. Just leave Mum a note."
George shuffled in a drawer for parchment and a quill and scrawled a quick note. Percy took his arm and apparated both of them to his flat.