Audrey expected to hear a shut of the door, or a loud crack of Apparation, but no such sound came of either. Instead, Percy’s low voice made a statement that sparked the feeling of shock in her. He didn’t want to leave?—Why not? The others had. Why should he be any different? Percy interrupted her thoughts then, going on about how he didn’t know to act if she was going to keep pulling away from him.—But she wasn’t pulling away… Was she? At least, it wasn’t her intention… She remained quiet, letting him talk and get out what was needed, while she listened, mulling over his dilemma with her. No one had ever been this upfront with her about her reluctance, except maybe Mandy, but that had been different. Like a lecture was being given. This, however, had an embodiment of…a plea, almost. The gesture felt very foreign to her.
Slowly, she turned around, fidgeting slightly, but stayed where she was. She crossed her arms to still her and swallowed before finally looking back at the man, who had remained in his seat. “Percy, I… I’m not trying to push you away. This is just how I am,” she told him honestly, lightly shrugging her shoulders and adverting her gaze. “I don’t know how to change that, or even if it’s possible… I’ve been this way for a very long time, that I’ve forgotten how to be anything else…” She took a breath. “Besides, there’s really nothing more to me than what you see…”
Percy looked at her and shook his head. “See, I don’t believe that. There’s more to all of us than what is seen on the surface.” He said. “I know you think you’re not that complicated, Audrey, but you are. You have a past, we all do. And someday, I hope you can trust me enough to share it with me. Just as I know one day I’ll be comfortable enough to talk to you about mine.” He explained. He knew Audrey didn’t know everything there was to know about him and his past, but he was willing to tell her if she asked him. “I want you to be yourself, your whole self. I don’t want you to feel like you have to hold back.”
Audrey heard the change in Percy’s voice, only guessing what caused it, but there was nothing to be done about it now. Taking her time, she gathered two tea bags of ceylon tea before grabbing the now-filled pot of water, placing it carefully on the small stove. As she remained, with her back toward him, Audrey could feel the rise of tension in the air and it was starting to make her uncomfortable. She knew he had to be feeling it, too, so she offered him an out. “If…you want to leave,” she said quietly, but loud enough for Percy to hear, “I’ll understand…” This scenario was something all too familiar. It just usually happened to her dates—the fair few she had been on—not someone she called a friend… And this is why I don’t have I don’t have friends,” she thought to herself, but that was just how she was. How then was she suppose to change that aspect?
Percy finally looked at her, taking a few moments to study her before responding. He knew she felt the tension too and she was offering him an out. While it was a nice gesture, it wasn’t what he wanted. “I don’t want to leave.” Percy said, his tone quiet and serious. What he wanted was for her to stop pushing him away, but he feared it was useless to even hope for. “But, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to say or do. I feel like every time I get close to finding out more about you, you take two steps back. And what’s the point of all of this if you’re not going to let me in, Audrey? If I can’t even be your friend.” He said. “I’m not asking for your life story. We all have things that haunt us. There are things about me you don’t know, things I…don’t like to talk about, that I’m not proud of, but if you asked me, I would. I’d tell you. Because you’re never going to know who I am, unless I let you. And it works the same in reverse.”
Audrey was just about to turn on the sink, to fill the tea kettle with water, when she froze again. Percy’s perception had not failed in seeing her slip up and upon sussing, Audrey could feel herself start to recoil inward. Just like she always did whenever someone tried to pry her open. Another moment passed before she finally moved again, turning on the faucet and watching the water fill the pot. “You know, you can talk to me.” That line. She had heard it so many times, and each time, it was always the same. No, she couldn’t. That wall she kept up, it remained there for a purpose and she really didn’t want it to come crashing down, for reasons she did not wish to explain. “It was nothing,” she claimed after clearing her throat. “Nothing that needs worrying about.” She glanced at him behind her and flashed him a small smile, hoping that would reassure him enough to drop it. “Now, what kind of tea do you prefer?”
Hurt reflected on Percy’s features when she once again began to shut him out. Every time he seemed to get close, she took two steps back. Silently, he wondered if this was a lost cause. If Audrey was ever going to let him in. He also wondered if he was willing to risk his own heart in the process of finding out. “If you say so.” He said, softly. “Uh, anything is fine. I’m not picky.” He replied. He focused his gaze anywhere but on her, because he knew if he looked at her right now, his resolve would vanish and he’d never want to stop trying to get through her walls.
Audrey’s smile came back as Percy talked about his mother, but it was a mere ghost of what it had been before. She was glad to hear he was grateful of her, though. For what Audrey had heard, and seen briefly, of Mrs. Weasley, she gathered she cared a great deal about her children, and that sort of dedication and love shouldn’t go overlooked. Especially when that wasn’t found as easily as one might think. Audrey’s light eyes shifted to Percy when he asked her a question but only for a quick moment. “That’s a vague, unexpected question,” she replied, huffing a small laugh as she closed the cabinet’s door, the bag of cat food back where it belonged. She hadn’t realised him watching her so closely to notice her slight relapse. “How do you mean?” she asked and went to another cabinet, pulling out a small box and two teacups.
Percy searched her face, trying to read her emotions, but he wasn’t sure he could tell what she was thinking. “I mean, something seemed a bit off a minute ago. Your expression changed, even if it was only for a moment.” He said. “You know, you can talk to me.” He knew she was very reserved and didn’t like to talk about herself or her past, but he wanted her to open up. How else would they get to know each other?
Audrey laughed, a wide grin spread over her full lips, as Anastasia jumped down from her lap, only to go sit down by her food dish. Audrey took the hint. It was almost her feeding time anyhow. “I’m sure she means well,” she said, getting up and grabbing a bag of cat food from a cabinet. “Anyways, isn’t that a mother’s job?” She paused at her own words, her smile faltering, but she quickly pushed away the emptiness, going back to her normal self as she filled the cat’s dish.
Percy watched this interaction, amused. “Yeah, I know she does.” He said. “And yes, I supposed it is, although my mum takes it to the extreme. Though, I do admit I missed it when I wasn’t around my family, so I’m grateful.” He had missed his mother’s overbearing nature, even he couldn’t deny that. He noticed her smile falter a bit, and he wanted to ask her about it, but hesitated to do so. She didn’t usually like to open up about those kinds of things. He then decided to go for it. “Is everything alright?” He asked.
Percy laughed at Audrey’s little joke, but then he continued, and Audrey felt herself smile at hearing him speak of her like he had known her his whole life. "Thank you, Percy," she said. "You need not compliment me, but..thanks.—Not just for your appraisal, but for being accepting my, sometimes overbearing, concern." She knew her worries could get tiresome toward her company, and fairly quickly too; she was just grateful he hadn’t run off because of it. "I appreciate it."
Percy shook his head. “I’m glad you care enough to be concerned.” He said, honestly. “And I don’t think it’s overbearing at all. I think it’s thoughtful.” He told her. “Trust me, you’re not even close to overbearing. Overbearing is Molly Weasley.” He joked. He was kidding, of course. He loved his mother. Though she could be overbearing on occasion, he supposed.
"Yeah?" Audrey looked down at her cat and smiled, rubbing her thumb against the soft fur; all whilst listening to Percy continue speaking. It was definitely nice to have the furry companion around. She helped soften the reverberation of silence that surrounded Audrey’s place, which Audrey came to find comforting, especially when times got rough… Audrey raised her head and smirked slightly at Percy. "What gave me away?" she teased. "Couldn’t possibly have to do with the fact that volunteer at an animal shelter, could it?" Audrey chuckled softly. The answer was yes, she was. The caring didn’t stop at just humans for Audrey. It had always been that way.
Percy laughed. “Well, yeah, there’s that.” He said, nodding. “Seriously, though, you are a caring person, you know I’ve thought that pretty much since I met you. I mean, taking care of people is something you enjoy doing. You love your job. You’re good at it.” He pointed out. Some people had jobs because they needed to make a living, and some people had jobs because they truly enjoyed what they did. For Audrey he could tell it was the latter.
Anastasia recoiled her head initially when Percy reached over the table to pet her, but soon stretched out her neck and accepted the affection with modest enthusiasm. Audrey smiled at the shared interaction, glad of the constructiveness there. The cat made a soft guttural noise, almost like it had been a response to Percy’s question, which caused her owner to laugh before she turned her attention back to Percy. “Thanks,” she said, smiling, then paused to think. “Uhm.. Well, let’s see.—I got her when I was twenty..one… So I guess, a year now.” She nodded. That sounded right. “She had been a rescue.—Kinda like your Bianca. She took a liking to me, and, well, before I knew it, I was bringing her home with me.”
Percy listened and then nodded. “Seems to me like she was meant for you.” He said. “She seems to be right at home here. And you’re definitely an animal person, from what I’ve seen.” It didn’t surprise him at all that she would rescue a pet. In fact, it seemed like exactly something she would do.
Audrey stayed silent, eating while Percy spoke but paying attention. She could barely keep the smile off her face between bites. It was cute, his story and how Bianca captured his heart. She knew that feeling quite well, thanks to her volunteer work at the animal shelter.
Suddenly, confusion entered her features. What did he mean by it hadn’t really been a rat? Audrey almost asked, but Percy past it off with a “It’s a long story," and continued. Once he finished, Audrey smiled again and nodded her head. "Yeah. Cats can be great companions when it’s just you.—Well..when they want to be," she said, chuckling a little.
As if on cue, a fluffy but groomed, ragdoll cat came strolling in the kitchen. A happy meow greeted Audrey until it noticed the unrecognizable guest, and stopped in its tracks. It didn’t hiss or growl, just kept its distance, sniffing. Audrey laughed softly, watching her cat. “It’s okay, Anastasia,” she coaxed, turning and bending down in her seat. “Come meet Percy.” Anastasia’s blue eyes remained locked on Percy before she trotted over to Audrey. “There’s a good girl,” Audrey murmured as she picked up the ball of fluff before turning forward again. “This is my friend. He can be your friend, too, if you’re nice.”
He saw confusion mar her features and knew why. One day he’d tell her the story of Scabbers/Peter Pettigrew. Though, he wasn’t sure he ever wanted to remember that. “Yeah, I suppose that’s true.” He said. He then noticed a fluffy but very well groomed cat stroll into the kitchen. A smile came to his face. For some reason, the cat just seemed to fit Audrey.
Percy laughed slightly at Anastasia’s reaction. He petted the small cat gently. “Hey there girl. You’re quite a pretty little cat, aren’t you?” He looked up at Audrey. “She really is. How long have you had her?”
"Bianca, yes," she repeated, smiling. She had remembered it had been one of Shakespeare’s characters but she could not remember which. For there are a great deal many. Audrey’s smile grew a bit wider when she chuckled softly. His surprise to his cat actually liking him amused her. "Perhaps she is," she said before taking a bite of her meal and swallowing. "That’s nice she’s sweet on you. Some cats just like to keep to themselves.—But I suppose, that’s true with any creature."
"Yeah, I don’t know what it is." He said, with a slight shrug. "She formed a connection with me, I guess. I took her in as a stray, and I really didn’t intend for it to be permanent. I’ve never been a pet person, really. The only pet I’ve ever had, besides an owl was an old rat, and he turned out not to really be a rat. It’s a long story." Percy said, with a sigh, recalling the story Ron and Harry had shared with him. "Anyway, Bianca just…didn’t seem to want to leave, and I’d grown attached to her, and…I don’t know, it was kind of nice to have company, you know?"