Even if Percy was reading far too into a mere characteristic than really necessary, Audrey couldn’t help but feel touched by his considerate concern for her well-being. It certainly wasn’t something that happened often.—Not that Audrey ever really gave anyone the chance to display such kindness, but still, it was sweet.—But also unnecessary.
Then confusion came. Her happiness? means a lot?—What? Why? Those questions spilled out onto her face. That statement seemed to go beyond what was occurring now, not appearing to fit. It wasn’t like she was unhappy being here.
Audrey bit her bottom lip, silently listening to the redhead, not really sure what to say now. But after a moment of staring at him, she smiled ever so slightly. “You’re sweet,” she said in genuine. “But, honestly..you don’t need to extend such formalities with me…or whatever requirements you think friendship entails. I am quite capable of looking after myself.” She wasn’t trying to be harsh,—her gentle tone, she hoped, conveyed that,—but she didn’t wish any type of burden on him.
"Please. Do not feel bad because of me. That’s the last thing I want. Nor do I want to upset you or your mother by leaving.—I’ll be fine." She smiled lightly again. "Really."
A smile crossed his face at her compliment. “Thank you. But, I’m really just being honest.” He insisted. “I know you are…I didn’t mean—” He sighed, trying to figure out exactly what it was he meant. “I’m sorry.” He was horrible at this friend thing. What was the muggle term? Social anxiety? Yes, he had that in spades.
"Alright." He said, nodding. "I’ll drop it. As long as you’re having a good time." He just wanted everything to go well, but the longer they were here the more it reminded him that he had no idea how to deal with people, not even his own family.
He constantly worried about saying or doing the wrong thing. It was why he preferred being alone most of the time. Yes, it got lonely, but at least you didn’t disappoint anyone.
Her hope quickly deflated as Percy apologized for his mother’s overbearing nature. Definitely something he need not feel sorry for. Audrey looked down, readjusting the already perfect placed cloth, as she thought of the right words. “Percy..you misunderstand me,” she started, but, still, Percy continued.
His next sentence caused Audrey’s face to contort slightly as she raised her gaze to him, feeling awful that she had made him feel that way. It was one thing for him to recognize that she was a little nervous, but this was something else entirely.
Abandoning her position, Audrey moved around the table until she stood next to him, so he could hear and see the sincerity of her response. “Hey,” she said softly. “I’m glad you brought me here. Really. Please do not think otherwise.” She paused to allow the words to seep in before going on. “I’m just…not exactly comfortable around new people. But that isn’t your fault, nor is it your family’s. I’ve always been like that.—However, I’m sure that feeling will die down eventually. Especially considering how kind your mother is.” She smiled at him gently. “I’m here for you, yes,—but that does not mean I don’t want to be here.”
He looked at her, still a bit unsure, but felt her words give him a small sense of relief. “No, I…I know you are.” He insisted. “I just don’t want you to be uncomfortable, and I feel bad because I know that you don’t exactly feel comfortable in these types of situations, but you came here for me.” He bit his lip, trying to explain his feelings. “I just…your happiness means a lot to me, and so does your comfort. So, if you’re not comfortable here, then I don’t want us to stay.”
He just didn’t want Audrey to feel out of place and he knew that she did. “You’re my friend, Audrey. Which is still new to me. Having a friend. And friends think about each other, and put each other first.” He told her. “And that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Audrey in took a breath, and nodded at Percy’s assurance, before exhaling. It wasn’t so much how Molly had acted or done, but more that she was just awkward and shy, especially with first meetings.
Nevertheless, she trekked on like a brave little soldier, with her head held high, and followed further into the home.
With her question answered, Audrey carefully set her peace-offering on the table, and smiled up at Molly, unable to stop a small giggle from rising. “I think that is I who should be telling you that, Mrs.— I mean..Molly,” she said, straightening up and clasping her now empty fingers together in front of her. The scones, really, had been no trouble, but to cook a whole meal, even with the help of magic? That sounded like a lot more effort being made than she was worth.
Percy offered his assistance then, and Audrey felt inclined to do the same, wanting to repay for generous, but, again, unnecessary, hospitality. Percy had taken the silverware and was dispersing them, so Audrey grabbed a hold of the slightly-worn clothed napkins and started to fold and place them accordingly in a neat and proper fashion.
Audrey looked up quizzically at Percy. “Sorry about what?” Not for another thing that he shouldn’t feel sorry for, she hoped.
"You don’t have to." He insisted. He frowned a bit at her question. "Just…my mum tends to be a bit too much sometimes, and I’m sorry if she’s making you uncomfortable or anything." He said, with a slight shrug. Molly came on very strong, to most people, and some happened to be very put off by her personality.
"I just don’t want you to feel as though you have to be here, for me." He felt guilty, because he felt like he’d railroaded her into this whole thing, and now she was feeling out of place, and that was the very last thing he wanted. "I was just…hoping that…well, that maybe you’d like them. I know they can be a bit intense, but they’re the only family I’ve got."
Percy remembered all too well when he hadn’t had them for a long period of time, thanks to his own stubbornness.
"Oh, um..o-okay," Audrey muttered awkwardly, her shyness coming out clearly then. She was brought up to use such formalities, especially to her elders, so, naturally, it made her a little hesitant. But, not wishing to offend, Audrey would try to acquiesce her request.
Audrey looked down in attempt to spare Percy from some of the embarrassed his mother’s otherwise harmless comment caused. It wasn’t anything new to her, Percy had already told her that he didn’t have many friends—a thing they had in common—, but she could tell it bothered him. Molly answered her then, and Audrey raised her gaze to the older woman. “Yes,” she agreed quietly, trying not to think how awful it would’ve been if he had not woken up. Thankfully, Molly seemed keen to put subject to rest and began to usher them further into the house.
However, her comment made Audrey bite her lip. She had picked this time, in between lunch and dinner, so there wouldn’t be unnecessary niceties or obligations, but apparently her planning had been futile.
Moving to follow Percy stopped her with a protest to her earlier comment and soon had Audrey blushing a light pink. “Over-embellishment,” she repeated insistently, but returned his smile all the same, and walked after Molly, taking in the atmosphere as she went.
Which included the heavenly smell that just about overwhelmed Audrey’s senses taking in its aroma. When Percy had mentioned Molly was a good cook he wasn’t kidding, and even though she felt kinda guilty for causing her to think that she had to cook for her, she hoped to try whatever smelled so good.
"Um, where do you think I should put the scones?" she asked Percy as they entered the dining room. "Or should I ask?"
Percy met Audrey’s gaze, sensing her discomfort. As Molly walked into the dining room, Percy offered Audrey a small smile. “Don’t worry. Mum goes overboard for everyone. She can’t help it. She doesn’t know how to cook a small meal, even. Every meal is a production in this house.” He said, with a slight chuckle. “It sure does keep things interesting. And I didn’t over-embellish anything.” He argued.
As they headed into the dining room, Percy took in the scent of his mother’s cooking. He didn’t think there was any better scent. He glanced at Audrey upon hearing her question. “Just set them on the table.” He said. “Uh, Mum? Audrey was kind enough to bring some scones.” Percy said.
Molly turned from her position setting the table and looked at Audrey. “Oh! How sweet!” She said, cheerfully. “I can’t wait to try them. I just hope you didn’t go to any trouble on our account.” She told her. Percy rolled his eyes. His mother was something else.
"Mum, why don’t you let me finish setting the table, and you go finish dinner?" He offered. "Oh, thank you, dear. It won’t be long." Molly said, with a smile as she disappeared into the kitchen.
Shaking his head, Percy continued setting the table. His family sure was…intense at times, but he didn’t know where he’d be without them. “Sorry about that.” He mumbled.
They hadn’t gotten far before Mrs. Weasley came to them. Immediately, she took her boy into her arms, and for the first time, watching the pair, Audrey realised how lanky Percy actually was. Or maybe it had just been the contrast between mother and son, but he had to hunch over to allow Molly’s arms to snake around him. Although, the imagine brought a small smile to Audrey’s lips, Audrey was trying her best not to let her thoughts travel to where she couldn’t afford to lose them right now so she glanced away from their shared moment—it not being her place, anyhow—before she was addressed.
Audrey placed a polite smile on her lips as she was introduced to Molly. “Hello, Mrs. Weasley,” she responded, relieved it hadn’t come out shaky or anything of that embarrassing nature. Maybe she could handle this after all.
Audrey blinked. Molly Weasley had heard so much about her? Audrey’s blue hues were on Percy in a slightly-distressed glance before his mother could even get out that he had apparently embellished her character. She relaxed after that, her momentary panic being turned bashful. “Well, putting his over-embellishment of me aside, your son’s been nothing but lovely company to keep,” she stated, smiling at him before turning back to Molly. “Yes, ma’am. I - Your other son was placed under my care while he was there.” Audrey was actually surprised she recognised her, knowing how distraught she had been then, but also, as said before, she was not used to people recogising her.
Molly shook her head. “Oh, no dear, please, no need to be so formal. Call me Molly.” She insisted, with a warm smile. Her smile brightened at Audrey’s words. “Oh, I’m so glad to hear that. It’s nice to see Percy have friends.”
"Mum!" He muttered, embarrassed. It wasn’t as if he’d never had friends. He just wasn’t as social as his siblings. "Sorry, dear." Molly said. Turning back to Audrey she nodded. "Yes, I remember. It was a troubling time, but everything worked out, thankfully." She said.
"So, come in you two, come into the dining room. Dinner is just about ready. I hope you brought your appetites, because I made plenty." She told them. Percy rolled his eyes. That was an understatement. Molly always made enough to feed a small army, and they always had leftovers.
As Molly headed for the dining room, Percy glanced at Audrey. “Everything I told her was true. I didn’t embellish anything.” He protested. “I just told her how amazing you’ve been, and that you’ve been a great friend.” He said, with a sincere smile.
Audrey’s smile brightened at Percy’s response, encouraging him, and her hand slipped from his shoulder back to her scone-filled plate, ready to follow into the home after him.
Percy didn’t bother knocking, but instead called out, alerting the homeowners of their presence once they stepped through threshold.
Was that a normal thing to do when entering your parents house, Audrey didn’t know; she didn’t bring it up, but instead moved out of the way of the door so Percy could shut it behind them.
The room that they now stood in had an extremely homey feel to it. Furniture mitched-matched; colourful afghans; beaten throw pillows strewn all around, looking anything but out of place. But what really caught and held Audrey’s attention was the small piles of books that littered the rug and the coffee tables. They spiked her curiosity, causing her to wonder what their many pages held, and if it would show her insight on the people who owned them.
Though, she’d soon find out anyway for Percy was ushering her to follow him, no doubt planning to lead her to the reason they came here. Audrey took a silent, bracing breath and walked up behind the redhead, trailing.
Molly Weasley had been busy all day preparing the meal. She loved cooking, of course, so it was no problem. When Percy told her he was bringing a friend for dinner, she immediately had bombarded him with questions. Her son didn’t have very many friends, so of course Molly was going to be curious. Percy had been slightly annoyed at his mother’s interrogation, but had expected it. He patiently explained about Audrey and Molly had been looking forward to her visit ever since.
Now, upon hearing her son’s voice, she left the kitchen and entered the sitting room. “Percy! Oh, it’s wonderful to see you!” Molly said, embracing her son. Percy returned the embrace. “Hello, Mum. It’s wonderful to see you too.” He said, smiling. “Mum, there’s someone I’d like you to meet. This is my friend, Audrey Meadows. Audrey, this is my mother, Molly Weasley.” He said.
Molly pulled away from embracing her son to look at the girl. “Oh. Hello.” She said, with a warm smile. “I’ve heard so much about you! Percy told me how wonderful you are. I’m so grateful that you’ve been so kind to him.” She then looked at her a bit closer. “Wait…I remember you. You work at St. Mungo’s don’t you? I’ve seen you before.”
They were almost to the front door when Percy’s personal wall came down and started verbally beating on himself for his past. Not that it was all that unexpected, for he had done so before, but it always hurt Audrey a little to hear that self-loathing vibrate through his voice.
"I know," she said quietly, wishing she could just take his pain away. Unfortunately, it was never that simple.
Steadying the plate in her right, her left hand went to Percy’s bicep, resting gently there in a form of comfort. “What matters now is that you do realise,” she told him, “and you’re doing something about it. Showing up here today..bringing me along,” she smiled slightly. “You’re taking your past and burying it, outwardly stating this is who you are now.—That’s all you can do.” The corner of her lips rose in another smile, hoping it would be contagious and he’d realise the truth in her words. Anything to keep him falling into remission.
"Come now," she suggested, adding in a small joke to lighten the mood, "lets go inside before I lose my nerve and run off."
Percy looked at her. She was right, he knew she was. He only wished it was that simple. He wished that, knowing that could make everything okay. He wasn’t going to be able to forgive himself, to let go of the past overnight. But, maybe this was a step in the right direction. Maybe he just needed to stop looking back. As she smiled, he couldn’t help returning the smile.
Laughing slightly, Percy shook his head. “We wouldn’t want that.” He replied. “Alright.” He raised his hand to the door handle and opened it, knowing Molly would throw a fit if he even thought of knocking. He didn’t want one of his mother’s lectures about how this was his home even if he didn’t live there. “Mum? Dad?” He called out as he stepped inside and waited for Audrey to follow. He assumed Molly was in the kitchen, as he could smell the wonderful aroma of her cooking instantly.
Percy came up beside her, and together they walked down a beaten down path toward the house.
Audrey found herself closing her eyes for moments at a time, allowing her other senses to fully intake the beautiful atmosphere that lay there. Feeling the warm sunlight soak through her skin, while the slight wind swept over it. Or the tall grass brush against her ankles and calves; the clean smell that graced her nose, instead of the polluted air that accompanied the city life. It reminded her of the parks she often liked to visit, which made her relax and momentarily forget what loomed ahead.
She was almost too distracted to register that Percy was speaking now, but she pulled herself away from the physical pleasantries, so as not to ignore her friend, and gave him her attention.
She gave her response a little bit of thought before piping up. “I suppose it is, yes…” She paused, struggling just slightly at keeping a placid expression. “Maybe we ought to learn to appreciate what we have, while we still have it.” That was definitely something she tried to live by, knowing first hand what it felt like to loose something precious, not by choice, but believing that she might not have been as grateful as she could have been.
It was in short, quiet moments like this, that Percy simply just stared at land where the Burrow was housed and just took it all in. Everything he’d once walked away from, so easily turning his back. It gave him a renewed appreciation for it now. The memories of his childhood, some good and some not replayed in his head, and Percy realised that he wouldn’t change any of them, not even the bad ones. They all made him the man he was today.
He decided to sneak a glance at Audrey, when he noticed it was taking her a little bit to respond. He wondered what she was thinking about. He nodded in response when she finally spoke. “I certainly have, believe me. All of this…to imagine that I was so…selfish, so wrapped up in myself and my…pompous, arrogant, pride that I couldn’t realise that my family loved me…” He trailed off. Letting out a deep sigh, he turned to her. “I lost so much time. I still feel like I’m making up for that, you know?”
Audrey glanced over at him, and for a moment, stayed silent as her blue eyes studied his profile, only to divert the gaze when he caught her in the act. Looking off at the house again, it came to her attention then that they were still linked, and at the thought that he might like his hand back, Audrey gently pulled her hand from his, placing it under the plate she held with her other.
"I think it’s grand," she murmured honestly, a small smile playing on her lips as she started forward. However, after a few steps, she turned back to him and asked, eyebrows raised, "Aren’t you coming?"
Percy smiled shyly at her when he saw her looking intently at him. When she looked away, he followed her gaze to the house. “What? Oh, yeah.” He said, nodding. He followed her and headed along the path that lead to his childhood home. As he did, he thought about the many memories of the past. Some good and some bad, but all were part of his life. This was truly home, and it was the one place he would always cherish in his heart.
"I used to…" He trailed off searching for the right words. "When I was growing up, I couldn’t wait to leave. To get as far away from here as possible. I was miserable. I thought that there was so much more out there, and I couldn’t wait to see it. And now…I miss this so much. Ironic, isn’t it? How sometimes you don’t realize what you had until you give it up?"