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blood will tell but often it tells too much

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They don’t talk about what Percy did during the war.

They don’t talk about the war much, other than to hold Fred’s funeral and debrief Harry and decide that they’ll explain Lupin and Tonks and the war to Teddy when he’s old enough to understand.

But the world keeps turning and there’s still work to do, even more work than before because half the Ministry’s gone and nobody trusts anyone else and everyone is paralyzed with grief. So Percy goes back to work.

The Ministry is oddly quiet; Percy had gotten used to the tense silence of everybody afraid of opening their mouth for fear that they would say something wrong, something too sympathetic, or something someone in charge just plain didn’t like, but this is different. There’s just nobody here.

He’s not clear on what takes top priority, and nearly everyone in his direct chain of command doesn’t seem to be around, so he bypasses it all and heads straight to the Minister’s office. He’s not sure who he’ll find there, but Shacklebolt is standing behind the desk, looking at some paperwork, so Percy supposes he’ll do.

“Sir?”

Shacklebolt’s head snaps up, wand coming up, and Percy stays where he is, hands at his sides. It takes a second, and then he asks, “What did I say after Dumbledore escaped his office following the discovery of Dumbledore’s Army at Hogwarts?”

“That he has style.”

Shacklebolt slips his wand back into his sleeve, then says, “I’m surprised to see you here. You aren’t at home with your family? You’re certainly excused from your responsibilities to have time to mourn.”

Percy straightens his shoulders. “My family is fine without me.”

“But are you fine without them?”

That’s irrelevant, as far as Percy is concerned. “There is work to do. I intend to do it.”

Shacklebolt watches him for another minute, and Percy just stands there because he’s learned the value of silence during this war if nothing else. Finally, he nods. “The first thing we need to do is determine who from the old Ministry is still part of the new Ministry, and then we need to figure out who out of those we trust.”

“Do you trust me?”

“I know which side you fought on in Hogwarts. I’ll have a list of all Ministry employees sent to your office, as well as a preliminary list of the deceased and a preliminary list of those implicated as Death Eaters or collaborators.”

Percy nods. “Thank you, sir.”

And then he walks away.

--

Percy falls asleep at his desk, and wakes with a kink in his neck and a sore back. He grabs a change of clothes and a shower and heads back to work.

Two days later Shacklebolt finds him there, in his office, hunched over death reports he’s trying to reconcile with Ministry employee records. If there was ever a time he wished for Muggle comptuker systems, as ungainly as they seem, it would be this.

“Go home, Weasley. Take a break.”

Percy looks up at him, and if it feels like his eyes are twitching and quivering in their sockets but at least he hasn’t dreamed of Fred since that first night. “I have gone home, sir. And there’s work to finish.”

“Go see your parents, your family. I appreciate your help—Merlin knows you’re one of the only bureaucrats who’s come back—but you are allowed to mourn.” Shacklebolt steps in front of his office. “Home, Weasley, and don’t let me see you here until tomorrow. You’re no good to anyone if you collapse.”

The last thing Percy wants is a reminder of just how much of an outsider he is in his own family, the one who stayed and did his job despite the eyes always watching, always waiting for him to show himself as a blood traitor. Dementors had followed him for a week after Ron’s actions became known.

But Shacklebolt is the Minister, at least for the moment, so Percy stands, brushing off his robes. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Minister.”

He Apparates just outside the Burrow, the wards protesting him a bit, and the sky opens up on him. Because that’s just what he needs at the moment.

Ron is the first one to see him when he walks in, and he marches up to him and demands, “Where the hell have you been?”

Percy takes out his wand and casts a quick drying spell so he doesn’t drip all over the floor. “The Ministry. There’s work to do.”

Ron’s face turns bright red—the curse of their genetics—and he gapes for a minute before saying, “The Ministry? Mum’s been crying nonstop and we’re trying to rebuild Hogwarts and you’re worried about your job?”

Percy hasn’t slept in two days and he knew they didn’t want to see him and if he opens his mouth he’ll say something he regrets so he Apparates back to his flat.

He makes himself a cup of tea.

--

Charlie shows up at his door three days later, when he’s just out of the shower he nearly fell asleep in. Percy lets him in, offering him a cup of tea.

Charlie shakes his head, burned hand raking through his hair. “I can’t stay long. But I wanted to know when you’re coming home.”

“I went home, and it was made clear to me I am not welcome there.” He has to work carefully to fit the words in his mouth, his lips clumsy in his exhaustion. It comes out precise, because the other choice is slurred and he refuses to be that sloppy.

“Who—” Charlie’s eyes narrow. “Ron. Ron’s not mad at you, not really. He’s just mad.”

“It was made clear what he thinks of my continued employment at the Ministry.”

“About that—didn’t you quit?”

Percy’s lips tighten. “I am one of the seventy-three Ministry employees that is confirmed as not a Death Eater, a collaborator, dead, or simply not showing up to work. Twenty of those are Aurors. There is no room for having simply quit.”

“Merlin. Just—come home. Please. Mum wants to see you.”

Percy mentally reviews his day’s schedule. “I will be there after dinner. We are attempting to map the parts of the Floo Network that were taken down or blocked.”

“Great.” Charlie reaches forward to pull him in a rough hug. He lets go before Percy can relax into it, which is good, because if Percy relaxes he’ll probably fall asleep, and then he won’t be able to stop himself from dreaming about Fred.

Percy Apparates to the Burrow that night, and this time it’s his mum who greets him with a sob and a hug, and he hugs her back and ignores the wet spot growing on his chest.

His father offers him a hand when his mum lets go. “Good to see you, son. Charlie said you’ve been working on the Floo Network.”

Percy nods. “Much of it went down during the war, spells to keep people out interacting badly with spells to let people in, and they didn’t care to fix it. We started an overhaul of the system today.”

His father nods. “Your brothers and Ginny and Hermione are in the dining room.”

“Not Potter?” He would have expected him to be here.

But his father shakes his head. “He’s at Hogwarts.”

Percy walks in to the dining room to be greeted by a clearly tipsy Bill calling, “Hey, Perce, you made it,” and Ron’s dull red face and hunched shoulders.

They’re all drinking, even though Ginny is still underage, and Granger pushes a glass of firewhiskey at him as Ginny says, “It was the Carrows, really, you know. Snape didn’t touch any of us.”

They don’t talk about what Percy did during the war.

--

Shacklebolt stops by his office the next day, waiting until Percy finishes marking off the most recent Floo map before asking, “Weasley, what do you know about the Blood Savior?”

Percy blinks at the Minister, not particularly sure if he heard him right. He thinks he did, but he hasn’t consecutively slept this little since the beginning of the war, and things can start to slip. “Sir?”

“It’s the name people gave a Ministry employee who apparently forged bloodline documents so that muggleborns could keep their wands and escape persecution. They saved almost a hundred of them. We’re looking for them.”

Percy feels all of the blood drain from his face, and he goes cold and clammy as sweat gathers at the small of his back. “Why are you asking me, sir?”

“Some of the forged paperwork we’ve found has your signature on it, so we figured they must have been somewhere in your line of reporting. They’re not in trouble, so if you know who it is and are protecting them, that’s not necessarily.”

He opens his mouth, but for a moment he can’t actually make anything come out. Finally, he manages to say, “I’ll get back to you about that, Minister.”

Shacklebolt nods and walks out of Percy’s office.

For one long, painful moment, Percy can’t breathe. It’s not that he never thought that this would come out, but he had forgotten about it, pushed it to the back of his mind with all of the other things that happened during the war that don’t matter anymore because the war is over.

Because in his mind there are two sets of things that happened during the war. There are the things that still matter, and the things that don’t. The Battle of Hogwarts matters. The death of the Minister matters. Fred’s death matters. Percy having forged documents doesn’t matter, because blood doesn’t matter anymore. Not the way it did during the war.

But he needs to tell Shacklebolt, even though the thought makes him want to hide in this office until the whole world forgets he exists.

Or at least until the Minister forgets; the rest of the world doesn’t give a damn.

So Percy gives himself an hour, plots another few points on the Floo network, gets his breathing back under control and the ridiculous pink that his skin insists on turning whenever he feels any emotion ever, and then he walks over to the Minister’s office.

He stands across from the desk from the Minister of Magic, clasping his hands behind his back so neither of them can see them shake. “Sir? I have some information for you about the, uh—what you asked me about.”

“Oh?”

Percy swallows, throat dry. “I forged those documents.” For the first time, Shacklebolt looks shocked. It’s an uncomfortable look on his staid face. “I’m sorry, sir,” Percy hurries to add. “I forged them for a hundred and fifty, but they must have—they must not have been good enough.”

“Weasley.”

Percy steels himself for the inevitable explosion, for the recriminations because Percy failed and fifty people died because of it. “I’m sorry.”

“Percy. Son. Sit, please.” Percy sits, clenching his hands in his lap. “We weren’t looking for them—you—to go after you. You singlehandedly saved more lives than anybody else, as far as we know, in the entire war. There are families who want to adopt you. One wanted me to legalize Life Debts just so they could owe you one.”

Percy lifts a shaking hand to his mouth. “That’s—I failed, Minister.”

Shacklebolt opens his mouth, then closes it again. Finally, he sighs. “Get some sleep, Weasley. I’ll talk to you later.

--

Percy is screaming and he doesn’t remember how he got there and he hasn’t slept in a month and he’s screaming, “Don’t you get it? If the Ministry falls, everything we worked towards will have been for nothing. Everything I worked towards.” And then he Apparates away, because he didn’t mean to say that.

--

Potter’s the one who finds him next, standing in the doorway to Percy’s miserable fucking flat, hands stuck in the pockets of his muggle jeans. “Shacklebolt told me,” he says. “For some reason they seem to think I should have some say in who gets awards.”

“I don’t want it,” Percy says, and he sounds like he never stopped screaming. “I failed. Give it to someone else.”

Potter watches him for a long time, and Percy doesn’t have the energy to do anything, so he just stands there. Finally, Potter offers, “Your family misses you.”

“My family misses Fred,” he says, and the name only burns a little.

“They miss you,” Potter repeats. “Look, they’d want to know what you did.”

“How I failed?”

“You didn’t fail.” For the first time, Potter looks angry.

“A third of them were caught. That’s hovering somewhere around Dreadful, don’t you think?”

“Fifty lay dead after the Battle of Hogwarts,” Potter says, voice breaking a little on the last word. “Fifty died for me to live, and I did nothing to save them.” Percy wants to protest that, because Potter saved the world, Potter did what nobody else could do, not even Professor Dumbledore, but Potter just keeps on talking. “The blood of those people who you tried to save is not on your hands. It’s on the hands of the Death Eaters and the Ministry and those who stood by and did nothing. You didn’t kill those fifty. You saved those hundred.”

Percy doesn’t tell his family, but he goes home to the Burrow and lets his mother fuss over him and stares at the clock where Fred’s hand lies still and quiet and wonders if it would be better if it were gone altogether.

Three days later the Daily Prophet arrives and the list of Order of Merlin recipients is provided and when Percy sees his name listed he almost leaves. But he’s tired, tired of running away, and so he just sits there and waits for someone to read it.

Potter is receiving one, and Longbottom, and Lupin, and his name shouldn’t be with theirs.

Ron sees it first, color rising in his cheeks, and he spits, “They put the wrong name.”

His mother looks up in alarm. “What are you talking about?”

Brandishing the paper like a weapon, Ron stalks over to Percy, who doesn’t move. “They put the wrong name. It should be Fred on here, not,” he spits, “you.”

Percy stares at him as their mother asks, “What’s going on?”

“Percy,” Ron sneers, “is getting a bloody Order of Merlin.”

Everything goes still and quiet and Percy can see the clock and everybody’s name reads Home except Fred’s, and somewhere there are empty houses because Percy wasn’t good enough.

“Well?” Ron demands, jabbing a finger at him.

But there are also full houses because he tried. Somewhere Fred is laughing because Percy—boring, staid, rule-following, rule-enforcing Percy—managed to pull one over on the entire Ministry of Magic.

So Percy looks, not at Ron but at his mother, and asks, “Do you know what I did during the war?”