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Fic: Pride and Prejudice - Fill in HBP FQF

lyras posting in Fill in HBP FQF
User: fill_in_hbp (posted by lyras)
Date: 2005-11-18 18:12
Subject: Fic: Pride and Prejudice
Security: Public
Title: Pride and Prejudice
Author: lyras
Characters: Percy Weasley, cameos by the rest of the Weasley family
Rating: PG (mild swearing)
Prompt: The Weasley family situation from Percy's point of view.
Notes: Thanks very much to lazy_neutrino for the confidence-building beta-read!

My father doesn't know what it's like.

It's all right for him; he's happy off in that little office of his, doing the same job year in, year out, and getting paid peanuts for it.

I want more than that. I want to be able to give my children a good upbringing. I want to take them on interesting holidays and buy them nice clothes that aren't second-hand. I want to be Minister of Magic, although I'd settle for being a respected member of wizarding society.

You don't know what it's like, either. My family's been a laughing stock for years; I realised that soon after entering the Ministry. Red hair and freckles? You must be a Weasley. How's your father? Still disenchanting tea cups, I suppose! How does your mother deal with all those siblings of yours? No wonder she always looks as if she's just popped out from plucking chickens.

I'm not stupid, you know. I caught those patronising smiles and sly looks that the Ministry hacks thought had gone over my head.

It must have been a bit of a surprise, I imagine, to find that I was promoted so quickly. Personal assistant to the Minister of Magic, no less! A few people choked on their congratulations – I noticed that, too, although I merely shook hands and thanked them, smiling in the urbane manner that I'd been practising.

I couldn't wait to get home to tell my parents: they knew I was ambitious, and they'd always supported and encouraged me. Except for this time, apparently. When I gave them my news, my father simply stood there gaping, as if he couldn't think of anything to say. Mother got excited for a minute, and started hugging and kissing me, but then he interrupted and she went very quiet.

After everything I'd toiled for, all I'd done to work my way up despite the Weasley tag that might as well have hung around my neck, Father simply couldn't believe I was promoted on merit. My father, whom nobody at the Ministry respected! I'm afraid that I lost my temper and said some very hurtful things. Wouldn't you, in that situation? Then I stormed out, leaving my parents to play their silly games with Dumbledore.

I got a little carried away after that, I admit. But I was excited – it seemed as if my dream of climbing the Ministry career ladder was coming true even earlier than I'd hoped. I threw myself into my work and tried to be the best assistant Fudge had ever had.

And then, of course, Fudge turned out to have been wrong. My father, our entire family except me, in fact, had been on the right side all along. Father had nearly died for his pains last year, and Ron and Ginny had both been in terrible danger; they'd actually been in the Ministry while Voldemort and his supporters were running amok!
To say that I was horrified was putting it mildly. I gradually came to the realisation that my behaviour over the past year had been rather unpleasant – I will never forgive myself for my failure to visit Father when he was in hospital, for example, and I doubt that my family will, either. I simply couldn't bring myself to go and see them, though. I was too ashamed, and I'm stubborn, like the rest of my family. We don't like admitting that we were wrong.

In addition, I had to face the fact that my father’s suspicions had been correct. Fudge had promoted me because of my family connections, not despite them, as I’d so proudly believed. My father was right, and I hated that almost more than I hated the fact that Fudge had treated me in this way. Father should have believed in me. And so I carried on with my life, going to work as before, and trying to pretend I didn’t care that my family had more or less disowned me.

There was pandemonium in the Ministry after Voldemort's reappearance. Fudge lasted about a week before being replaced by Scrimgeour, who's a lot more confrontational, and probably the sort of man you need to have in office at times like these. I felt rather sorry for Fudge, though. He stayed on "in an advisory capacity", which primarily appeared to mean wandering around looking lost, and being interrogated twice a day by Scrimgeour about his cabinet's failures over the past few years.

Then all of Fudge's aides were sacked, except me. Scrimgeour came over to my desk for a personal chat – the others simply found redundancy Owls waiting for them when they arrived for work. But Scrimgeour said he'd heard great things about me: important people had been watching me, apparently, and had recommended that he keep me on. I admit that I was flattered by the attention. And when I realised that I wasn't being sent home, I was hugely relieved, too. Being sacked by the Minister of Magic would not be a wonderful start to one's political career.

It wasn't until later that evening that I started thinking through the implications. I went straight round to see my ex-girlfriend, Penelope, to tell her the news, and was rather taken aback to note that her initial reaction was pity. She concealed it quickly, and congratulated me; she knows how important things like this are to me. But I wasn't fooled. I asked her to tell me honestly why she thought Scrimgeour hadn't got rid of me along with the others.

She held my hand, and told me that she was sure it was because I was an excellent employee, hard-working and conscientious. And then she added that perhaps Scrimgeour was interested in my family connections.

"Like Fudge was, you mean?" I tried not to sound bitter, but there's a limit to how nonchalant you can be when you've only recently realised something as humiliating as this.

Penelope gave me a hug then, and told me I shouldn't let it get me down; that I was everything she'd just said and more, and if Fudge and Scrimgeour couldn't see past their political objectives, that was their loss. I went home feeling slightly better, having realised that, if Scrimgeour really was using me to get at my family and Harry, at least he wouldn't gain anything. I hadn't spoken to my parents in over a year - and I'd sent back my Christmas presents, which I realise was a despicable thing to do, but it's too late now. And even if I was being used, the fact remained that I still had a job with the Ministry, and a good one at that. The user can be used.

It was on Christmas Day that my suspicions were confirmed. Scrimgeour turned up at my flat; I was alone, since Penelope and the rest of my friends were all with their families. He started talking heartily about how it was Christmas, and he'd heard about my feud with my parents, and wasn't it time to put that behind me and make it up to them; they weren't getting any younger, etc etc. All of which I'd been thinking about throughout the day, without actually reaching any kind of decision.

I tried to make excuses, but Scrimgeour can be very persuasive, and almost before I understood what was happening, we were walking down the path towards my parents' house. I was horrified. I knew Scrimgeour must have an ulterior motive for this; he was using me for some reason, and I also knew that everyone would realise it soon enough. I cursed myself for not swallowing my pride and coming earlier, or even making a written apology, but it was far too late for that now.

Anyway, Mother seemed delighted to see me, but it certainly didn't take the others very long to work out that we weren't here because I wanted to make things up with the family – even if I did, really. Scrimgeour didn't help by being extremely unsubtle; he simply swept Harry off into the garden and, as soon as the door had slammed behind them, Fred demanded to know what I thought I was doing there.

I couldn't think what to say. Part of me had desperately wanted to come and see them. Life with my family was chaotic, and sometimes my brothers drove me up the wall, but at least I was never lonely. And weekends seemed very long these days, without Sunday lunches at The Burrow, discussing Ministry affairs with Father and catching up with the latest family news.

When I remained silent, Mum stepped back from me and stared. I met her eyes; it was one of the hardest things I've ever done, watching her joy fade, to be replaced by pain as she realised that she – I, all of us – were being used as pawns. Then she smiled sadly.

"Sit down and have some lunch now you're here, won't you?" She gestured to an empty chair in a corner of the table.

I looked at it, and then at the various pairs of unforgiving eyes. "Thank you, Mother," I said, and then wished with all my heart that I didn't sound so stilted sometimes. I don't do it on purpose, but that's the way I think, so it just comes out in the same way.

Sitting down, I glanced along the table again. Father was pale, but he gave me a small smile when I caught his eye, and Bill a wry one. They were almost harder to take than the identical glares on Fred and George's faces, because they were being kind, and I knew I'd just hurt them all terribly. Professor Lupin – what was he doing there? – asked how I was, obviously in a desperate attempt to break the silence. It can't be pleasant, coming to Christmas Lunch and finding yourself in the middle of a family "situation".

I was nervous, so I waffled in response, I'm afraid. I talked about the important things I'd been doing at the Ministry and, thinking back, I probably sounded rather as if I was boasting. I didn't mean to, but I honestly couldn't think of anything else to say. I paused for breath occasionally, but nobody else appeared inclined to speak, and so I, well, rambled. The unwelcoming atmosphere around me seemed to escalate, until eventually I trailed off, unable to ignore it any longer.

Ginny laid down her fork with a bang, and several people jumped.

"Let's get something straight, Percy," she said (and when did she turn into this pretty, self-possessed young woman?). "You're here because the Minister wanted to talk to Harry. We all know that, so please don't try to pretend you came here to make things up with us." She glanced at our mother, who was blinking hard at her empty plate, and wrung her hands almost, I thought, as if she was trying to stop herself from lashing out. "To allow this to happen on Christmas day…you're even more despicable than I thought!"

I had nothing to say to this, and wasn't given an opportunity in any case, because George broke in with, "Admit it, you smug bastard, you're only here because the Minister wanted to talk to Harry."

"How could you?" demanded Ginny, as Fred said, "You're not interested in a reconciliation at all, are you? All you care about is your bloody career!"

Do you have any idea what it's like to know that your younger brothers and your adored baby sister despise you? That they don't take you seriously because you actually want to better yourself? I'll tell you what it's like: it's utterly humiliating. And the worst thing about this Christmas was that I knew they'd all been right, and I'd been wrong. Even Ginny, who was only fourteen last year, had been right. I cringe when I think about the letter I sent to Ron on hearing about his prefectship, advising him to stay away from Harry. But I did what I thought was best: I stayed loyal to the Ministry, and in a way, it paid off, because I still have a good job there.

Anyway, if the atmosphere had been hostile when I sat down, it was now only a shade away from a full-blown siege. I heard Mother pleading quietly with everyone to calm down, but it was too late. I stood up, placing my knife and fork carefully on the plate in front of me.

"You're right," I announced across the sudden silence. "I wouldn't have come here if the Minister hadn't needed me. I wouldn't have come because this family is a shambles. You sit here talking smugly about Dumbledore and the work you're doing to help him, and you ignore the work that the Ministry is doing in the real world."

I don't remember my exact words, but I know that I continued in this vein for a few more seconds, before being assaulted by a barrage of disgusting, unidentifiable mush. That was all it took. I'd been working myself up to a dignified exit, but now I didn't care what kind of exit I made; I simply had to get out of there. And so I lifted my chin, announced, "Goodbye, Mother, everybody," and stalked towards the door. I didn't even try to clean my glasses until I had reached the yard.

And I knew that I wouldn't come back.

Hope you enjoy this! Feedback would of course be loved.
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Lexi-Q: HP-Hogsmeade
User: lexique
Date: 2005-11-18 19:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I like. Interesting view from his persepctive. Percy is not a character I tend to feel for, but this rings true.
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User: lyras
Date: 2005-11-19 10:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you! I had fun writing this - it was interesting to get inside Percy's head.
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User: lynkemma
Date: 2005-11-18 21:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This was great. Poor Percy; I always think that he's one of the characters that JKR really wrongs.
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User: lyras
Date: 2005-11-19 11:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thanks! I'm really hoping JKR does something with Percy in the last book that redeems him without him having to sacrifice himself heroically - although I'm afraid that's what she may be setting him up for.
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User: fungus_files
Date: 2005-11-19 06:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I really liked this! there's an air of inevitability in the way things go downhill for Percy, esp when his priorities and his family's diverge so widely. and the worse they get with sniping at him, the more defensive he's going to get. you've done a great job portraying him with empathy yet maintaining the ever-so-Percy-ish pomposity.

I often wonder how Percy and his sibs interacted when they were younger. did they grow apart or has he always been on the outer of the clan? I suspect that charlie and bill were, perhaps, the ones who might've smoothed over Percy-isms.

thanks for this!
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User: lyras
Date: 2005-11-19 11:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thanks very much! I do have a soft spot for Percy, and so I hope he gets to be more than canon fodder in book seven.

I always imagine that Bill and Charlie would be a lot gentler with Percy than the twins are - he is their little brother, after all. But then they seem so remote, and so he tries to take on the mantle of eldest brother, and all his little sibs resent him for it...
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Ali: HP AKed spider
User: ariesathena
Date: 2005-11-20 00:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:HP AKed spider
Oh wow, I really enjoyed this. I'll admit that I have quite a bit of a soft spot for Percy as I think it must have been really hard for him in that family. You did a great job of showing the other side of the story - not only that Percy has some very valid complaints with his family and the way that they've treated him, but yet he's made his mistakes as well and isn't portrayed as a completely innocent victim.
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User: lyras
Date: 2005-11-21 11:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thanks very much! I know Percy has a lot of flaws, but I do hate the attitudes of, say, the twins towards him. He honestly tries to do what he thinks is best, even if his judgement can be poor. Glad you liked!
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a friendly hellcat
User: la_onza
Date: 2005-11-20 15:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You've really captured what I think must have been going on in Percy's head. My favorite little bit was the conversation with Penelope - that supportive, friendly ex relationship was a nice, realistic touch.
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User: lyras
Date: 2005-11-21 11:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thanks - I'm so glad this rang true, as I really enjoyed writing it!
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Aillil: Art by Ex
User: aillil
Date: 2005-11-28 10:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Art by Ex
Ten days late, I'm really letting things slip...

What an utterly brilliant story! You managed to convey Percy's thoughts in such a convincing manner that I felt like slipping into his brain and really empathised. Probably all of us have experienced the terrible thing of our mouths running away with us and practically killing ourselves in a conversation; you make a desperate attempt to haul yourself out of the mess you've talked yourself into, and only succeed in making it worse than ever. Horrifying.
It's perfect how you had his mind standing aside and observing the rest of him making an ass out of himself in the Christmas scene, because that's exactly what happens in such situations.

Extremely well written. *applauds*

I wonder if Mrs Weasley realises that Percy's emulating her behaviour, because not being able to admit to having been wrong sounds a lot like Molly's reaction to the Witch Weekly slander of Hermione in GF. And in their own ways, the Weasleys are just as narrow-minded as the most conservative pureblood families. While I really like Bill, Charlie and the twins, the family as such makes me cringe by now.
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User: lyras
Date: 2005-12-06 14:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Just realised I hadn't responded to this - sorry!

Thanks very much - I'm very glad you liked it. I do like the Weasleys myself, but I also think that Percy gets a raw deal from them, especially from the twins. And, as you say, the stubborn inability to admit having been wrong is a family-wide trait.
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alexandripearl: Fill in
User: alexandripearl
Date: 2005-11-30 13:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Fill in
Sorry it's taken so long for me to respond. What a sensitive, balanced look at the Weasley family rift with Percy. It does seem like the poor kid has been shafted especially when no one ever seems interested in what he has to say and, when they supposedly are, they don't let him speak. I always love that, while he can't admit to his family that he's wrong even though he wants to, he can admit it to himself.
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User: lyras
Date: 2005-12-06 14:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you! I do think Percy gets a raw deal, and so I wanted to put his side of things, while being aware that he had been in the wrong, too.

Very glad you liked :).
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December 2005