Special thanks goes to my RL friend winkielovegood for being my beta reader and for her idea for this section of the story. I kept dithering about how Percy would react, and Winkielovegood had a great idea, so with her permission, I went with it. *hugs*
Yes, I should be packing or working or quilting or packing but I am the Queen of Procrastination and just had to post this before I left town. So, without further ado . . .
Percy officially asked Audrey to be his girlfriend on their third date. He was thrilled when she accepted. Percy had not realized how much was missing from his life until he met Audrey. Just having someone with whom he could talk about his day was wonderful. He saw Audrey every day. Sometimes they met for lunch, always somewhere away from the Ministry. Percy couldn’t believe he had ever thought the food in the Ministry cafeteria palatable. Sometimes they had dinner together, at a restaurant or at either one of their flats. Both of them were fairly decent cooks, and Percy found he actually enjoyed cooking when he had someone special to cook for. When Audrey cooked, they usually watched a Muggle movie after dinner. Percy was surprised that he really enjoyed movies, even though he could never remember what that box-thing that played them was called—a veeceearm? He also found himself doing a number of things he never thought he would do, such as roller skating. Who would have thought of putting wheels on people’s feet? He was beginning to see why his father was so fascinated with Muggles, although he still didn’t understand the whole obsession with plugs. Audrey showed him what plugs were, but his father’s collection still made no sense. Percy had never liked flying before either, but he did when he and Audrey were on the same broom.
Percy looked at his watch. Audrey was late. That wasn’t like her, and he was beginning to worry. They had planned to walk around Diagon Alley, and then go to dinner, but it was already fifteen minutes past the hour and no sign of Audrey. He began to pace. At twenty past, Percy heard hurried footsteps, and a breathless Audrey grasped his arm.
“I’m so sorry, Percy. My mother called right as I was about to leave.”
“I was worried when you were late as you are always so punctual, but I am glad nothing is wrong.” Audrey had a very worried look on her face. “Is there something wrong?”
“Well, not wrong exactly . . .” Audrey appeared very worried.
“Audrey, please tell me what’s the matter?”
“I was going to come early and go buy my friend Sara her birthday present and then come meet you, but then I was late, so I haven’t done that yet . . .”
“Well, I can just come with you to buy Sara’s gift.” Percy really didn’t understand why Audrey was so upset about this.
“The thing is, Sara really likes WonderWitch products, so that’s what I always buy her.” Percy must have looked as confused as he felt, because Audrey continued, “Fred and George make WonderWitch products.”
Percy stood there staring at Audrey. She shopped at his twin brothers’ shop. His choices were to accompany her to his brothers' shop or wait for her while she went alone. At least now he understood why she was upset. Percy summoned all of his Gryffindor courage, took Audrey’s hand, and said, “Shall we?”
Surprised, Audrey answered, “Shall we, what?”
“Shall we go get this whatever-it-is Sara wants from my brothers. I’m going with you.” Audrey beamed at him as they began walking.
Percy could see the twins’ store from quite a distance. He realized he hadn’t been to this part of Diagon Alley in years. Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes had so many things in the window whirring and spinning, and so many bright colors, it was making Percy dizzy. He clutched Audrey’s arm more tightly.
“Percy, you don’t have to come in with me if you don’t want to.”
Percy answered by pulling Audrey towards the entrance and opening the door. He went in quickly and ducked behind a large display, so he could look around. Audrey squeezed his hand and then walked over to the WonderWitch product area. Percy did not follow—everything over there was pink. He glanced over the display he was behind, and did not see either of his brothers. He did see Lee Jordan run over and hug Audrey. What was Lee Jordan, of all people, doing hugging HIS girlfriend? He’d have to ask Audrey about that later.
Percy turned around and began examining the shelves around the outside edge of the shop. He felt fairly hidden from view. Skiving Snackboxes? Percy read the description and rolled his eyes. Leave it to the twins to encourage truancy. Fake wands? Percy had no interest in such trivialities. Patented Daydream Charms? Percy read the box with interest. Wow. That was some really complicated spellwork. In spite of himself, Percy was impressed.
Percy continued looking and came to a curtained area. He pulled back the curtain, and could feel some type of magic pass over him as he went through it. He didn’t know what that was about, but it didn’t hurt him, so he didn’t dwell on it. This room was very different. There were no bright colors. Only plain black and white signs advertised the merchandise. Decoy Detonators. Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder. Shield Hats. Shield Gloves. Shield Cloaks. The twins were making defense products? Percy never knew they were capable of being serious.
As Percy moved in to take a closer look, a door at the back of the room opened. He just had time to see Fred’s profile, as he carried a stack of boxes. Percy panicked and apparated away.
He appeared in the alley next to the store. Percy was disgusted with himself. He was a dark blot on the name of Gryffindor if he were cowardly enough to flee from his younger brother. Percy had a terrible thought--Audrey might be angry with him. Percy’s heart clenched at the very idea of Audrey's getting angry enough with him to ditch him. Audrey was becoming so important to him that . . .
“Percy? There you are!” Audrey peeked around the corner into the alley where Percy was standing and came towards him when she saw him.
“Audrey! I’m so sorry. I thought I would be all right with going into the twins’ shop, and I was looking around, and even I have to admit that a lot of their products are brilliant,” Percy knew he was babbling, but was so intent that Audrey not be angry with him that he continued, “especially their defensive line, I can’t even believe they made anything useful, and please don’t be angry with me, I didn’t mean to abandon you, but I saw Fred and I . . .”
Percy was cut off midstream when Audrey kissed him. He was so surprised, it took him a second to kiss her back. When they broke apart, Audrey caressed Percy’s cheek, and ran her fingers through his hair, as she said softly, “I’m not angry, Percy. I know it was really difficult for you to even walk in the door. I appreciate the effort.”
Audrey was smiling at him and doing very distracting things with the hair on the nape of his neck. A little voice in Percy’s head told him that they were in full view of Diagon Alley and really should go somewhere else. Percy told the voice to shut up and kissed Audrey.