AN: I might be out of town tomorrow, so I don't know if I'll be able to post. In the meantime, enjoy!
Thank you for all the support! It is deeply appreciated!
That dirty, rotten, loathsome Slytherin snake!
Percy scrunched the parchment and threw it on the ground. Then he stomped on it until it was little more than dirt-stained shreds.
Percy glowered at the intruder.
The visitor shrank and took two steps back. "I'll just come back later. This is obviously a bad time…"
"What do you need, Michael?" Percy demanded.
"I," He trembled as he pulled a letter from his pocket. "I was going to give you my letter of resignation. Effectively immediately I, I uh quit."
"No," Percy spat. "No, no!"
"Sir, I think it's time for me to explore…"
"You and I are in this together!" Percy barked. "If I go down, so do you!"
"Why should I go down for anything?"
"Because we are in this together. You are just as guilty as I am."
"With all due respect, I did nothing wrong," Michael argued, straightening his posture. "All I did was schedule appointments and keep protestors out of your office. I shouldn't be punished because of my association with you."
"You," Percy pointed to him and crept closer to the secretary. "You have been at my side this entire time. You knew about the press cover up. You scheduled the meetings with those German ambassadors. If I go down, so do you!"
"Now that we're clear on your situation, help me think of an exit strategy," Percy ordered.
"Well, you could tell the truth and ask for leniency."
"You know, you could tell the truth and get the whole story out there."
"How the hell is that supposed to help me?"
"I mean it could make it appear as if you deserve some type of leniency."
"I don't want leniency! I want to stay out of prison."
"Well then, I guess there's uh, always a fall man. Surely there's some other Ministry official who could take the fall for you…" Michael suggested.
"I could find someone," Percy scratched his chin.
"All we need is a good patsy then," Michael suggested.
Percy scowled. "No, Draco won't accept a patsy. He won't arrest until I am under arrest. Having someone take the fall would only cause Draco to go after me that much hard, that detestable little serpent."
"True, he is out for our blood," Michael squeaked.
"Draco won't let them leave me alone until he gets his precious little Ministry office. I'll bet he's already thinking of new ways to decorate this room. He'll make it silver and green, silver and green," Percy kicked the shreds of paper. "The whole place with be silver and green and there won't be a thing anyone can do about it!"
"Ew," Michael shuddered. "Those would not blend into the rest of the building at all."
"No, I cannot sit around and watch Draco destroy everything I've built my entire life. I need to run away, go somewhere where I can't be extradited."
"Well, your brother hasn't been extradited yet. That makes Peru look promising."
"True," Percy cringed. "Still, I do not look forward to interacting with Ronald on a daily basis."
"Perhaps you could live somewhere other than Lima. Peru is a big country after all."
"True, but knowing Mum she'll demand that I see him. Merlin knows someone needs to check up on him every day."
"Perhaps she will do that herself now that she's well, uh…"
"No," Percy buried his face in his hands. "The last thing I need is to live in close proximity to Ronald and my mother."
"Peru is better than Azkaban."
"No it's not," Percy muttered.
"I don't know what to tell you then, other than Draco and the rest of the populace is screaming for your head," Michael replied. "It's only a matter of time until they get it."
Percy took a shaky breath. "I don't have much time, but I need to consider my options carefully. In addition to myself, I have my family to consider."
"Oh yeah," Michael gasped. "How would your family feel about going on the run?"
"They love me enough to do whatever is necessary for our survival," Percy replied. "My only fear is that I'll need to pull Molly and Lucy from Hogwarts if I leave."
"Perhaps they'll find a better school, one they like better," Michael offered.
"True," Percy's face was less red. "They won't have to deal with obnoxious professors arbitrarily deducting points from them anymore. For that reason alone, a move may be worth it."
"See, things could be worse," Michael replied.
"I suppose they could."
"Well, whatever happens you'll land on your feet. You always do."
"Yes, I suppose I do."
Michael gave him a small smile.
Percy put a hand on his shoulder. "You've been an excellent secretary for me. I have no idea what I'd do without you."
"It's been a pleasure serving you," Michael answered.
"Here," Percy strolled over to his desk. He gestured for Michael to follow him. "You deserve a reward for being so good to me."
Michael was close behind. "You really don't need to do anything for me."
Percy reached into a drawer and pulled out a checkbook. He took a quill from his desk and dipped it into an ink pot. Then, he wrote onto his check.
Michael's eyes bulged. "I can't accept that much."
Percy tore out the check. "You can, and you will."
Michael shook his head. "No, it's too much."
Percy held it out to him. "You're going to need to start over too. It's the least I can do."
Michael choked and took the check. "Th-thank you."
Percy held out his hand. "It was a pleasure being your employer."
Michael shook his hand. "It was a pleasure being your employee."
With that, Michael darted out of the room, leaving Percy to begin his new life.
"I said no, Love."
Hermione stood up on the bed, but Severus flew up to the ceiling and held it over his head. She growled. "I feel much better now, and I would like a drink of water."
"I am more than happy to get you a glass of water, if only you'll ask nicely," Severus answered.
Hermione leapt up, but could not so much as touch the hem of Severus' cape. "I feel as if I can make one myself."
"And you can," Severus replied. "In a half hour."
"Really, I doubt that one half hour makes a difference." Hermione collapsed onto her pillows. "Twenty-three hours and thirty minutes cannot be that different than twenty-four hours."
"Perhaps not, but I would rather be safe than sorry."
"And I would rather know if I can perform magic now rather than waiting a half hour."
Severus' voice was soft. "I know."
Hermione lay back down on the bed. "I know that in order to receive the full benefit of my treatment I need to wait twenty-four hours, but for the last few hours all I can think about is if I will ever be able to perform a spell pain free again."
"I know I need to wait, but all I can think of is whether yesterday when I cast that dust cleaning spell, what if that was the last time I could perform," she couldn't utter the next few words.
Severus cupped her chin in his hands. "We will make it possible for you to perform magic again."
Her lip quivered.
"I will do everything in my power to ensure that you cast many more spells for years to come."
"I don't want you to put such a burden on yourself."
"How could I not? How could I do anything other than everything in my power to save you?"
"Knowing you, I suppose you would want to save me," her voice softened. "I also know that if you failed, you would never forgive yourself."
"I worry that you'll feel unnecessary guilt if something were to happen to me," Hermione admitted. "I've seen you carry the guilt of losing someone you loved, and watched it tear you apart. I do not want to be the cause of your destruction."
Severus brushed his lips against hers. "You could never destroy me."
"I pray so," Hermione answered.
Severus held her closer. "You need to focus on your recovery and allow me to take care of myself."
She opened her mouth.
"Hermione, please, focus on yourself for once in your life."
Hermione closed her mouth.
"For your entire life, you've been looking out for others, caring for and tending to them. That has made you an excellent wife, but you should not worry about me at your own expense. You must focus on yourself for once. It will help you recover much faster," Severus replied.
"I will focus on myself if you promise to care for yourself regardless of what happens to me," Hermione answered.
"I will try…"
"Don't say that. Either you will take care of yourself or you won't."
"I will take excellent care of myself."
"Are you only saying that to keep me quiet?"
Severus' eyes said all she needed to know.
"Please Severus, I'm begging you, whatever happens to me, don't use me as a way for you to crucify yourself. Don't disgrace my memory by self-destructing."
"I promise you, I will do everything in my power to honor you and your memory, Hermione."
Her expression lightened. "There's an honest promise."
"Indeed it is," He kissed her lips before setting her wand on the bedside table.
Hermione draped herself over him. "I truly am thirsty."
"Accio glass," Severus whispered. A large cobalt glass popped up from the floor. Severus grabbed it. Then, he put his wand over the rim, "Aguamenti."
The water spilled from his wand into the glass.
"If I am being honest," Hermione confessed. "I prefer the water which comes from your wand to mine. Mine is always too warm for my liking."
"Funny," the water stopped flowing from his wand. "The water which comes from my wand is too cold for my liking."
Hermione chuckled. "It would seem that we even each other out then."
Severus smiled. "Indeed we do."
Hermione took the glass and drank it in one gulp.
"I love you, Hermione."
"I love you too, Severus."
Severus sighed as she nuzzled into him. "What do you want to do for the next half hour?"
"I don't know," Hermione whispered. "Perhaps we could read some Jane Austen."
He moaned. "Must we?"
"Don't you want to make me happy?"
"Of course I do, though I would prefer to help you find joy in some way other than reading about the perfect man which is Colonel Brandon."
"Colonel Brandon is quite sexy, isn't he?"
"Indeed, much sexier than I could ever hope to be."
"Oh don't say that," she kissed his neck. "I think you are quite sexy in your own way."
"You need your eyes checked."
She giggled. Severus beamed.
"If Jane Austen isn't appealing, we could play tic tac toe," she purred.
He laughed. "Why would you ever want to play a game you always lose?"
"Because I want to remember every hex I could level against you when I get my wand back."
"Are we still poor sports about losing?"
"Of course we are because you cheat."
"Love, I would never cheat you."
"Of course you would. I know you change some of my O's to X's."
"Believe me, one day I will."
Severus chuckled before kissing her forehead. "Who would I be without you?"
"A hermit," Hermione answered.
"Most assuredly." Severus snapped his fingers. A paper appeared in his hand along with a quill.
"I want to be an X this time," Hermione replied.
Severus raised an eyebrow. "Why?"
"Because if I'm an X I may confuse you since you are almost always an X. I stand a chance of winning then," Hermione answered.
"Perhaps in your fantasies you defeat me quite handily," Severus replied. "Reality is much different though."
"Oh I can win quite easily and you know it," Hermione answered. "Even if you do cheat."
Severus purred, "Love, we just established that I don't cheat."
"No, we established that I cannot prove you cheat," Hermione answered.
Severus laughed before embracing his wife.
Who would I be without this witch?