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Title: Deserving
Author: EruditeFics
Summary: Percy faces the end of the final battle....the end of everything.
Warnings: trigger warning for suicide
Disclaimer: if I was making money off of this, you'd know.
Wordcount: a little less than 1500

written for the ficlet contest over at Knockturn Elite

Percy Weasley ran his fingertips along the rough bark of an old pine tree, getting the sticky sap on his skin and not caring in the slightest. The dew on the grass was seeping through his patent leather shoes, and the early morning chill was beginning to make him shake. It had been twelve hours since Harry Potter had felled He Who Must Not Be Named, and in those 12 hours, Percy had walked every single inch of the Hogwarts grounds to avoid sleep, his family, and his own guilt.

When everyone else had gathered up their hearts off of the floor and went to rest in the Hogwarts quarters that were still intact, Percy exited The Great Hall past the lines of bodies covered in white sheets, and ran toward the dust-filled open air of the Hogwarts Courtyards. Eventually, the carnage of the area was too much for him, and every single stray brick was another cut across his chest, so he made his way to the untouched grassy hills around the Black Lake.

Percy couldn’t stop walking, not for anything. His body was shaking with hunger and lack of sleep. All of the adrenaline of war had exited his bloodstream long ago, and now he was back to the familiar shell of a person that he’d been for the past year. Instead of feeling the cold and empty loneliness, he was wracked with guilt and pain so thick he could barely take a breath. He stopped at a cliff along the lakefront and put a hand to his chest, gasping for air as his heart began to race.

He looked into the rippling surface of the dark water and wondered how deep the lake went. He knew from working the Triwizard Tournament that it was deep enough to hold colonies of magical creatures, but would it be deep enough to swallow him and everything he carried with him? He closed his eyes and pictured how perfect the cold water would feel, wrapping him up like a blanket and removing the air from his lungs and the weight from his shoulders.

Percy dropped a rock into the water, listening to the perfect ‘kerplunk’ it made that showed him the lake was impossibly deep there. Maybe, if he jumped in, he’d never reach the bottom. He could imagine himself just falling endlessly, in a wretched purgatory designed for those who turned their backs on the only people that should matter. He should have died anyway; he might as well die now.

Percy took off his shoes, never turning his gaze away from the deep water before him. They were good leather; someone would have a lot of use for them and he couldn’t fathom wasting such a wise purchase. His socks were soggy from the wet grass, so he took them off too. Finally, he took off his cloak and hung it up in a tree. When he was down to his shirtsleeves, he trembled in the cold spring air. He was ready to fall into the depths and never look back, if only he could take one more step forward.

Suddenly, Percy felt a warm hand land on the small of his back and he froze on the spot. Someone was interrupting his cowardice, but he couldn’t bring himself to turn his head. He took a deep breath while he tried to find excuses for what he was doing standing in his bare feet on the precipice of a cliff. He was both desperate to have relief from his pain and embarrassed that he was contemplating taking the easy way out. He heard a delicate sniffle and couldn’t ignore the other’s person’s presence any longer.

“Mother?” Percy’s voice caught in his throat as he looked down at his mother’s shaking form standing next to him. Her hair still had bits of rock and dust in it. “What ever are you doing out here? You’re going to freeze!” Percy exclaimed, picking up his wand and casting a warming charm around her.

“I couldn’t sleep either,” she answered, her voice hoarse. Percy waited for her to ask why he was standing there, but she just put her arm back up around his waist.  

“I don’t think I’ve actually had a full night’s sleep in years,” Percy confessed. It was true; he was always filled with shame or anxiety over the state of his life, his family, and the war.

“When you get back to The Burrow, I’ll make sure your bed is extra comfortable,” she said, leaning her head on his shoulder. Percy felt a lump rise in his throat.

“Do you really think…” Percy did not know how to finish that sentence. The words froze on his tongue in the crisp air. “Do you really think I should?”

“Why do you think you shouldn’t, Percy?” his mother asked him, as though she knew the answer and was simply quizzing him.

Sudden memories of home…of her…flashed in his mind. Her helping him study his Arithmancy and Ancient Runes courses with flair and intelligence, her holding him tightly and telling him he was not to blame for Ginny being possessed, and even her tearful gaze as he turned away from his own mother on Christmas. Her scent flooded his nostrils and suddenly he could feel the tears cascading down his cheeks. When the first choking sob emanated from his throat, her arms were around him, warm and strong.

“He didn’t deserve this! I did! It should have been me. He can’t be gone, Mum!” Percy cried against her burned and tattered dress.

“Never, Percy. Never say that,” she soothed, her own shoulders shaking. “You’re mine. You’re my boy and nothing will ever change that.”

“Why wasn’t it me? I came here tonight thinking that if I could protect them all, if I could die for them, then maybe that meant I was a good person. He was…they are all so much more brave and amazing than I am,” Percy gripped the back of her clothes, scared to death that if he let go he would fall right over the ledge. He couldn’t fall…not now. Not when she was slowly healing his wounds.

“Shhhh, Percy. Hush now. I don’t want to hear any child of mine ever question their worth.” She pulled back, put her hands on his face, and ran her thumbs over the tears on his cheeks. Her own eyes were bloodshot and watery from an evening spent crying. Percy reached up and began to pull the pebbles from her tangled red hair. “You’re alive and you’re breathing. I’m grateful that I can still look at your perfect eyes…so much like mine…and see you look back at me. Don’t take that away now, my love.”

Percy looked to his right, down into the deep chasm of the lake. He closed his eyes and pictured himself falling through the water again and hitting the bottom, and this time it didn’t offer the relief it had only a few months ago. This time, the deep waters only pulled him away from his mother’s comforting embrace and the lively warmth of his family. He couldn’t turn away now, not when she was imploring him to stay so ardently.

Percy turned away from the cliff, his step faltering a little. His mother gripped his hand and steadied his stride. She didn’t let go even as he slipped his shoes back into place. He wrapped his cloak around her shoulders with both hands, letting his palms linger a bit to warm her up, then offered her his arm. Slowly, they walked over the hills and back to the castle.

As they approached the steps, Percy could feel his stomach begin tying in knots. He had no idea how he could look his family in the eye when every wound was so fresh. He took a deep breath and paused his stride.

“Come along, Percy dear. I won’t let you fall.” His mother looked up at him, her eyes shining, and he let her lead him up the steps and back into The Great Hall.

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December 2012


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