Title: A Fine Spanish Lady
Pairing: Percy/Hermione (you've been tricked!)
Notes: I'm afraid I couldn't make it naughty. They're a little too prudish for that. ;)A Fine Spanish Lady
Percy pulled his cowl mask over his eyes and settled his black hat on his head. "I don't want to do this," he said over his shoulder where George was attaching the long black cape to Percy's black shirt. "Maybe I'll just stay home."
"You mean stay in my
home, sulking on my
sofa, feeling loveless and forlorn? No way, Perce. You have to go, to win your girl back and to save face." George turned his brother around by the shoulders and swiftly glued a thin black moustache under his lip. He stepped back and evaluated Percy's transformation, his own lips twitching. "Not that anyone will recognize your face under this get up, of course. What is it you're supposed to be? A bandit?"
Percy buckled a faux rapier around his waist. "I'm Zorro." At George's blank look, he elaborated. "He's a fictional character, a little like Robin Hood but from Mexico." Percy adjusted his glasses over his mask and looked in the full-length mirror. He felt like a fool. "Padma will be dressed as a 'fine Spanish lady.' She picked these costumes out for the Ministry party a month ago." He paused. "Before she broke up with me and threw me out of the flat."
A sudden thought occurred to Percy and he sat down, barely pulling his toy sword aside in time to avoid crushing it. "What if Padma brings a date and dresses him
"Don't be a big girl. You'll be the best Zorro there, I'm sure." George plopped down beside him and put his feet up on the table. "Just be cool, Percy. You do
have it in you to be cool, you know. You're a Weasley. Look at Bill, married to the incomparable Fleur, and Ginny, who landed the one and only Harry Potter. And of course, there's the fabulous me," he pointed a thumb at himself, "and 'Love 'em and Leave 'em' Charlie. If Padma's the woman for you, go get her."
"Right." Percy wanted Padma back, of course he did. She was smart and successful, and his mum liked her. She was perfect. If Percy ran out of things to say to her from time to time or fantasized about…someone else when they were making love, that was because there was something wrong with Percy, not Padma. He forced himself to think of something else.
"You didn't mention Ron," he pointed out, forcing down the burst of jealously he always felt whenever his youngest brother's love life came up. "Hermione's quite a catch."
"Ah, Ronnie's in a class by himself when it comes to romance, isn't he?"
Yeah, Percy thought sourly. He's incredibly lucky, blessed, beyond fortunate, and undeserving. Aloud, he asked, "What do you mean?"
"You haven't heard? Ron's got a bit of the 'love 'em and leave 'em,' too." George's mouth twisted in disapproval. "Ron loved 'em, and now Hermione's left him."
Percy sat in stoic silence for a moment, a confusing tangle of emotions rising in his chest. "That idiot," he seethed. "That ungrateful fool. Poor Hermione." He remembered how pale and quiet she had been when he saw her at the office yesterday. He had thought she was watching him expectantly, but Percy had been so busy with his daily routine of trying not to say anything stupid or be caught staring at her that he had convinced himself he was wrong. Now he knew. She needed a shoulder to cry on.
"Do you think Hermione will be at the party tonight? Of course, she will," Percy answered his own question and stood up. "She's one of the organizers, she has to be there. I should be there too, to offer her my support."
"And to make up with Padma." George sounded greatly amused by something.
Percy faltered. "Of course to make up with Padma." He grabbed a handful of floo powder from the jar on George's mantle. "Naturally."
"One more thing, Percy." George stretched out his hand. "Accio
"George, what the hell?! Give them back!" The world was a blur, his brother a ginger-topped blob on the end of the couch.
"You look more dashing this way."
"But I can't see anything! How am I supposed to find Padma"--or Hermione
his mind whispered—"if I can't see a meter in front of my face?"
"Just look for your Spanish lady. With all the trade problems the Ministry's having with Spain, that's not going to be the most popular costume."
Cursing under his breath, Percy lifted his hand to throw the powder on the fire.
"Hey, Perce?" "What, George?"
Thoroughly exasperated, Percy whirled to face his brother.
"Why did Padma kick you to the curb anyway? You never said."
He turned back to the fireplace. "She thinks I don't love her enough," he muttered.
Throwing the powder, he stepped into the fire and yelled, "The Ministry!" As the green flames pulled him away, the thought he heard his brother's voice again:
"Bright girl, that Padma."
The whole room was a blur of light and color, filled with flashy costumes and painted faces.
He cursed under his breath again. He should have tackled George and wrestled him to the ground. He should have given him the mother of all wedgies. He should have done whatever he had to do to get his glasses back instead of rushing to the Ministry to support Hermione because without his glasses, he didn't have a hope in hell of even finding
For the umpteenth time, he bumped into an unidentifiable blur and muttered his apologies.
"Son?" the blur asked.
"I thought I recognized your voice, Percy." Arthur leaned in until Percy could make out the mutton-chop whiskers glued to his face and his old-fashioned cravat. "Where are your glasses?"
"George." It was both an identifier and an explanation. "Who're you supposed to be, Dad?"
Arthur's smile was a flash of white. "Thomas Edison, Muggle inventor. Your mother's around here somewhere, dressed as a light bulb." He turned as if to begin searching the crowd for Molly, but Percy grasped his arm.
"Listen, Dad, have you seen Hermione tonight?"
"Oh, yes, she's around and I think she's fine." Arthur lowered his voice. "You've heard about here and Ron, then?"
"It's very sad, of course, but probably for the best."
Percy was shocked. "'For the best'?"
Arthur reached up and straightened Percy's hat. "Hermione is a wonderful young woman, and, despite what Ron's done, I think he's a wonderful young man. I'm just afraid they're not so wonderful for each other."
"But they've been together for so long. Everyone always knew they'd end up together." He could see Arthur shrug.
"A bad habit can be hard to break."
Percy was so distracted by hearing his father compare one of the most famous romances in the wizarding world to a bad habit he almost missed Arthur's question. "Where's Padma tonight?"
"Oh, I'm looking for her, too, actually." Percy felt his face growing hot, and he was suddenly grateful for both his mask and his relative blindness.
"Did you come together?"
"We broke up," Percy blurted without intending to. "A month ago." He was glad he couldn't see his father's face. "She kicked me out. I'm staying with George."
"I'm sorry, son." Arthur patted his shoulder.
"But I'm hoping we can get back together," Percy said quickly.
"Really? Now?" Arthur's hand dropped back to his side. "Is that what you really want?"
"Sure, it's what I want." Percy felt as if he were deflating like a punctured balloon. "It's what I should want," he insisted. "Padma's great."
Arthur stepped closer and Percy could see his concerned expression. "She is, Percy, but is she great for you? You need to spend less time doing what you think you should
and more time doing what you want
. That's always been hard for you."
Percy left the party and wandered into the hall.
Did he really want to rebuild his relationship with Padma? Eventually marry her? No, he didn't.
Did he come here tonight wanting to find Hermione just to comfort her? No.
What if Hermione rejected him? What if she didn't? What would Ron say? What would people
say? Percy carefully considered and decided he didn't give a damn what anyone thought except Hermione. He suddenly felt lighter and happier than he had in years.
The clatter of heels on stone distracted him from his thoughts, and he caught a flash of a long skirt in red and black going up the dimly lit stairs to his left. He had the fuzzy impression of long, dark hair and gold bracelets on her arms. Padma's Spanish lady costume.
"Wait!" Percy ran to the foot of the stairs and was relieved to see the blur of his ex-girlfriend stop on the shadowy landing and face him.
"I'm glad I found you." He remained at the bottom of the stairs. "I came here to thank you, and tell you I'm sorry." He paused for a moment. "No, that's not true. I really came here tonight to try to get back together with you, but you were right and I was wrong.
"I don't love you the way I should. I'm sorry." He cleared his throat, half-wishing Padma would tell him to shut up and not bother. "I'm…I think I have feelings for someone else, someone I told myself would never want me." He swallowed hard. "Someone I told myself I couldn't want because she was involved with my brother. But they've broken up and I'm…I'm going to give it a try because if I don't, I'll always wonder, and because I think we could be great together.
"Thank you for being stronger than I am and for breaking off a relationship you knew wasn't good enough for you."
"You're welcome, Percy." Hermione's quiet voice came down from the landing above him, and Percy thought his heart would stop.
"Hermione?" he whispered.
"Yes." She walked down the stairs and stopped two steps above him. "I'm sorry. I know you thought I was Padma; she didn't want her costume anymore, and with everything that happened with Ron, I didn't have time to shop for one myself, so I bought hers. I should have stopped you, but," she shrugged, "you were finally saying things I've been waiting to hear."
He sounded so dumbfounded, she laughed. "Yes, you were. And you're right: I think we will be great together." She offered him her hand and he led her down the steps. "I'm comfortable with you, Percy, but you were so nervous around me, I didn't know what to do."
"Ron and I have been unhappy for a while. As usual, your brother picked the worst possible way to finally push me into ending our relationship, but at least it's over. Don't worry."
And to Percy's astonishment, Hermione rose up on toes and gave him a light kiss.
When she pulled back and smiled up at him, he knew he was smiling back like an idiot, but he didn't care.
"Um, Percy?" The smile disappeared from her face. "Your moustache is growing."
"What?" He checked his upper lip. The pencil-thin moustache his brother had glued there hours ago was now as wide as a fat caterpillar and still expanding.
"George!" he hissed. Now the size of a bottle brush, the moustache fluttered when he spoke. Percy grabbed both ends and pulled, but the fake hair remained stuck to his face.
Hermione was giggling. "Let me," she said, pulling out her wand.
She tried dissolving the glue. The moustache turned pink.
She tried Vanishing the whole thing off his face. It grew at double-speed.
When she tried a simple shaving charm, the moustache developed feelers that poked up his nose and twined around his fingers when yelped and reach up to pull them out.
"I'm sorry." She wiped tears of mirth from her eyes. "I'm afraid only George can stop this thing."
"Floo," he managed to say through the mouth-obscuring curtain of pink now trapping eight of his fingers.
Hermione laughed harder and nodded, taking his elbow and jogging down the hall. Despite his predicament, Percy felt he could honestly call this one of the best nights of his life.
The only thing that could make it better would be if Hermione would help him murder George and hide the body.