Blue and Silver, Red and Gold
His brother Fred was not Percy Weasley's first brush with death.
And his family was not the only thing which had prompted him to return to Hogwarts for that final battle. The tears streaming out from under his horn-rimmed glasses as he stood with his family around Fred's cold body were not only for his brother, his grieving family, and the destruction all around him; they were also for her.
They had met in Percy's second year at Hogwarts. Percy was not an incredibly popular boy in his year, and though he was decently liked by other students, and was a fairly sociable person, he would often seek out space to be alone. So it was when he opened the door of the only available compartment on the Hogwarts Express that he first laid eyes on her. The compartment was occupied by a smiling young girl- thin, pale, and delicately pretty, with a long narrow nose, thin rose lips, grey eyes with long lashes, and subtle hints of freckles around the bridge of her nose. Shiny ash brown hair fell in a sleek wave past her shoulders. She bounced up as he entered. "Hullo, I'm Keira Stratford," she introduced herself cheerfully, holding out a pale hand. She was at least half a foot shorter than he was.
"Percy Weasley," Percy responded, giving her hand a confident shake as he slid the door shut behind him.
Keira's bright misty grey eyes followed Percy curiously as he dragged his trunk from the door to a corner of the compartment and sat down gingerly on the seat opposite. "You're in Gryffindor!" she breathed admiringly, her gaze fixated on the gold and red tie and crest on his hand-me-down robes. "I haven't decided which House I'd like best," she chirped happily, smoothing out creases in her black school robes, which were obviously new. "They all sound pretty good from what Mum's told me; all except Slytherin." She shuddered dramatically and grinned at Percy. "How old are you?" she demanded eagerly. "You look like a third year, at least!"
"No, I'm just in my second," Percy admitted, adjusting his glasses the bridge of his nose.
Keira's robes flowed out over her thin limbs, as the uniform was obviously too large for her. Her tie was black, and her robes bore the Hogwarts crest, marking her as a first year, if her comments on school houses hadn't marked her already. There was a cage sitting on the seat next to her.
"What kind of owl is that?" Percy asked, trying to keep the envy out of his voice. He had always wanted an owl, but what with seven children in his family, it was not something his parents could afford.
"A barn owl. His name is Myro," Keira explained, glancing at the handsome, dark brown bird affectionately. Percy nodded. "I couldn't figure out what on earth to name him, so my dad suggested Myro," Catching Percy's eye, she smirked ruefully. "Of course, now I can think of a whole lot better names for an owl. Like Hermes, for instance."
Percy was in awe. "That's a perfect name for an owl!" he exclaimed.
Keira laughed. "Tell you what, Percy; when you get an owl, that's what you should name it."
Percy smiled, but shook his head. "My family can't afford it," he mumbled shamefacedly.
The first year examined him critically. "You seem to me like the type of boy who's- how do it put this? - destined to succeed," she remarked. Laughing again, she suggested, "How does this sound: when your parents get you an owl, you have to help me with my homework. If I need it, of course."
"What if we're not in the same house?" Percy asked curiously. "And what if I never get an owl?"
Keira pondered this for a moment, then snapped her fingers. "I will buy you food off the trolley for your entire school career!"
"And if we're not in the same house?" Percy repeated, amused.
Keira flashed a grin at him. "I guess we'll have to manage, won't we? I certainly wouldn't let such a silly thing as house rivalries keep me from free food."
"Anything off the trolley, dears?" the plump witch who pushed aforementioned trolley, adored and respected by the students of Hogwarts for as long as anyone could remember, stuck her head through the compartment door as she voiced her inquiry.
Keira turned to Percy and smiled even more widely. "No owl for you this year, so my end of the bargain starts now!" she declared, pulling a fistful of coins out of her pocket as she leapt to her feet and breezed out into the corridor.
Percy sat at the Gryffindor table as the crowd of first years streamed into the Great Hall with Professor McGonagall leading the way. His older brother Bill sat next to him, looking quite relaxed with the Head Boy badge pinned to his chest. Charlie, the eldest of the Weasley boys, had already graduated.
Keira strode into the hall like she owned the place. Unlike her peers, she only took one happy look up at the starry ceiling, after which she lowered her head and resumed scanning the hall with a slightly smug look on her face. Her grey eyes caught Percy's brown ones as she surveyed the Gryffindor table, and she waved her fingers at him, white teeth sparkling. Bill smirked at Percy, who blushed up to the roots of his red hair.
"I met her on the train," Percy explained clumsily, his gaze following the eleven year old girl up to the front of the hall, below the staff table. "We shared a compartment, bet on owls, and she bought me sweets off the trolley.
Bill chuckled. "Did you bet on whether or not you'd ever have an owl?" Percy nodded in confirmation. "I don't think you'll be getting rid of her that easily now," he whispered as McGonagall brought out the tattered Sorting Hat and rickety stool. "Girls never forget wagers."
Keira was sorted into Ravenclaw house. She grinned at Percy as she walked past to sit down, and Percy shot her the thumbs up. Percy was sure that was the end of it.
He was wrong.
Keira continued to search him out for the rest of the year. In the Great Hall at meals, in the corridors between classes; absolutely nothing was off limits as far as her ingenuity was concerned. When she couldn't see him in person, Myro would appear at his place at breakfast with a letter or other item clutched in his talons. At the end of the year, she found him on the train, and once again bought him food off the trolley. Percy could barely understand it.
This continued for the next four years. In her second year, and Percy's third, she was accepted as a Chaser on the Ravenclaw Quidditch team, and as such Percy saw her at most games. When she was in her third year, the pair began to hang out in Hogsmeade. In Percy's fifth year, when he became a Prefect, his parents bought him a tawny owl. True to his word, the owl was immediately christened Hermes. And, true to his word, he began tutoring Keira when she needed it…which, as she was a born and bred Ravenclaw, was not often.
The next year, Keira got the prefect badge as well, which made it even easier for her to continue buying him treats off the trolley, even though she had won their original bet. Another milestone of that year was the initiation of a relationship between Percy and Penelope Clearwater, who was incidentally Keira's cousin. Surprisingly, this did not affect his relationship with Keira in the years that followed. As she knew the school almost as well as Percy's brothers Fred and George did, Keira was the one who found meeting places for the couple, and she was the only one who knew enough about the situation to comfort him when Penelope was attacked in his sixth year.
Keira was the first to congratulate him on the Ministry job he was offered after his seventh year- two years later. As Percy was constantly at Hogwarts that year due to his role in the Triwizard Tournament, they met up in Hogsmeade fairly frequently. After a time, their discussions moved to their futures, and since he had broken up with Penelope shortly before his graduation, Percy jokingly proposed to her. "How on earth am I supposed to marry someone who won't even correct their boss when he calls you 'Weatherby'?" Keira had teased. In retaliation, he kissed her.
They did not have very much time to spend together as the school year drew to a close- Keira was sitting six NEWTs: Charms, Transfiguration, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Potions, Herbology, and Arithmancy. It was her dearest ambition to become an Auror, and she could not afford to bomb her exams. Percy often promised to help her get stellar recommendations.
She passed everything with flying colours. When she was accepted as an Auror-in-training, Percy felt happier than he had ever been.
But then came the rumors of Lord Voldemort's return, rumors that seemed to be stemming directly from Harry Potter and Dumbledore. After the incident with Barty Crouch, Percy expected to get the sack, but instead was promoted to Junior Assistant to the Minister of Magic. It was at that time that Percy's carefully constructed reality began to crumble.
Though Percy did not believe Dumbledore's warnings, Keira and the rest of the Weaselys did. When he visited his family that summer at the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, they were less than pleased about the success of his career. Following a screaming match with his father over their different opinions concerning You Know Who and the Ministry, Percy returned to his London apartment, incensed. His family, the one constant in his life, would no longer be supporting him.
When he went into work the next morning, he took a detour to the Auror office. Upon reaching the office Keira shared with her mentor Kingsley Shacklebolt, Percy quietly poked his head around the doorframe. Keira was leaning back in her chair, her calf-high, heeled, dragon skin boots resting on the desk. Her pale hands were folded behind her head; grey eyes were hidden under royal blue eyelids with black liner and mascara. Percy's eyes lingered on her lips, which were stained bright red. The ash brown hair that she had worn so long in their school days was cropped to her shoulders and worn in a high, messy bun. The black trench coat she wore flared out at mid-thigh, and was adorned with a double row of ornate silver buttons that boasted the Ministry crest. The tops of her shoulders were embroidered with intricate Celtic knots. The muscles in her legs were clearly visible through her tight black pants. "Hiya, Percy," she mumbled as the young man stared at her.
"Good morning, Keira," he replied.
"Always sooo formal, Perc," she drawled as her eyes flickered open. "To what do I owe the pleasure?" she yawned, swinging her feet off the table and peering at Percy expectantly.
Percy laughed nervously. "You always know when I'm stalling, don't you, Keira?"
Keira looked offended. "I've known you for eight years, been dating your for two, how could I not?" she gestured for him to sit. "What's up?"
He perched tensely on the edge of Kingsley's vacant chair and gave a hesitant smile. "We've known each other for a long time, haven't we?"
Keira nodded, her expression amused. "Yes, Percy, I guess we have. It's taken how long for you to have this epiphany, exactly?"
Percy ignored the sarcasm. "As you know, I am already in a fairly prominent position within the Ministry, and since Dolores Umbridge will be joining the Hogwarts staff…"
"I hate that woman," Keira muttered rebelliously.
"…there's a strong chance that I will be promoted again," Percy continued, as if he hadn't heard her aside. "In any case, my future in the Ministry is assured, and since I am fortunate enough to have such a stable career…" He swallowed hard. He was not sure how Keira was going to respond to his next inquiry. "I asked you this once before," he began slowly. He swallowed again as Keira looked at him quizzically. "Would you, Keira Stratford, do me the honour of becoming my wife?"
Keira stared at Percy blankly, her face carefully guarded. Drawing her long, black oak wand out of her coat pocket, she twirled it through her fingers, avoiding Percy's eyes. "I talked to Molly this morning," she changed the subject nonchalantly. "She seemed quite upset."
"I don't see," Percy bristled. "What my mother has to do with my previous question…"
Keira abruptly slammed her wand down on her desk, blue sparks shooting from the tip. "Your family has everything to do with this!" she seethed. "You left your family because they believe that You-Know-Who is back!" Percy opened his mouth to speak, but she cut him off. "I believe Dumbledore, Perce. He hasn't been wrong about stuff like this." She gazed into his eyes fiercely. "If I said yes, you'd leave me too."
"Do you think I'd even ask if that was ever my intention?" Percy spluttered. "It's been eight years, and we've disagreed on a lot of things, but we've never stopped being friends."
Keira's eyes softened. "I know, Perce," she said quietly. "But this is different. Are you telling me that if it came down between me and your future at the Ministry, you wouldn't pick your career?"
Percy gaped at her.
"That's what I thought," Keira stated sadly. She turned away and pulled a stack of parchment towards her. Picking up a quill, she added, "I'm sorry, Percy, I love you, but I can't accept your offer."
Percy leapt to his feet. "Look here, Keira," he started hotly. "I am not some lovesick boy who is just going to slink away. I have loved you far too long and worked far too hard for our relationship to come to this, just because some batty old fool and his crackpot order…"
Keira whipped back around, grey eyes blazing, and aimed her wand at the centre of Percy's chest. "Don't you DARE bring the Order into this!" she shrieked. "Like it or not, I believe in what they are trying to achieve!" Her hand was shaking. "I got an owl yesterday morning informing me that my parents were killed by Death Eaters while on an assignment. And I can't say anything because I could lose my job if they find out I'm in the Order!" Keira was breathing heavily and her eyes were wild. "Take this like a gentleman and get out of my office before I hex you, Weasley. I've already lost my parents. I didn't want to lose you too." Her voice broke and she started to cry. Pushing the papers aside, Keira lay her head down on her desk and covered her face with her arms.
Percy stood dumbly by Kingsley's desk, watching aghast as Keira's petite shoulders shook with the force of her grief. He had never seen her lose control like this. "Keira, I'm so sorry, I didn't…" he stammered clumsily.
"Just go, Percy," Keira ordered between muffled sobs. "Go, just go."
So Percy had no choice but to tiptoe out of the Auror office, leaving behind the only friend he had in the world, his perfect, beautiful Keira, to suffer alone.
Keira seemed to purposefully avoid him at all cost, and Percy couldn't understand it. He was her friend; wouldn't she want to make up? Then again, they had never had a screaming match before. And he had certainly never seen her cry.
She carefully stayed away from Percy until the Potter trial, at which time she was required to be in the same room, as she was shadowing one of the presiding Aurors as part of her training. Even though her expression remained perfectly neutral throughout the hearing, Percy was able to read the disgust in her stormy eyes whenever Fudge spoke, replaced with flashing ire when Dolores interrupted Dumbledore. When Dumbledore testified, on the other hand, her eyes glowed with a fierce pride.
As Percy followed the Minister's entourage out of the courtroom, he observed Keira whispering her congratulations to the Potter boy and…
Percy hurriedly busied himself with his notes to avoid looking at his father. He silently told himself that he had no reason to be ashamed; this whole mess was his father's fault, not Percy's, but his heart knew that this was not true. And Keira was smiling – beaming, actually – at his estranged parent and that ridiculous boy! Keira laughed beautifully at a murmured comment from Potter that Percy couldn't catch, patted the boy's shoulder, hugged Mr. Weasley, and turned away, hips swaying side to side as she strolled back down the corridor towards the lifts.
Percy stood stock still in the corridor, the rest of the court moving, unseeing, around the transfixed young man as if he was invisible. And as both his true love and his father walked away from him, unreachable, Percy silently raged against his fate.
Years later – after what felt like mere moments – he stood looking down at two bodies. Voldemort was alive. The Ministry had fallen for the last time. The hallway was littered with bodies, but he kept his eyes fixed on two: the Death Eater he had killed and the woman he had been too late to save. "Just… just go help them." One corpse croaked. "Please, Perc. For your sake." The woman who had once been Keira took a shaky breath and shut her eyes.
"Keira! No! You can't possibly be this selfish, this is no time to rest, and we have to get out of here!"
Keira chuckled, fingers tapping uncontrollably on the marble floor of the Ministry corridor. "So stubborn… I love that." Her eyeballs twitched beneath locked lids. The curse was quickly wearing away at her nervous system, synapses firing without rhyme or reason. Her limbs twitched mindlessly.
"So are you!" Percy knelt next to her, fingers running helplessly through ash brown locks. "You can't just leave, Keira, you have so much to look forward to!"
"I'm going on, Perc… Off to Kings Cross for one last adventure, eh?"
Keeping his eyes fixed on her face, Percy ignored the tears running down his cheeks. "You can't go without me," he choked. "Just hang on, I'm going to get help…"
With what seemed like a great burst of strength, she reached up and cupped her hand over his cheek. Grey eyes flickered open, locking onto his. "You're my little problem solver, but you can't solve this one."
"But we can go to St. Mungo's, someone can help, Keira, please…"
"I've got a date with destiny, Percy. He's my new boyfriend, since you were so busy."
Percy sobbed. "Keira, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry…"
"Hey, hey. My death scene here. At least have the decency to keep the focus on me."
Chuckles burst out of his mouth, bubbling up between the shaky breaths.
"You need to make more jokes, Perc. The world needs them."
"You sound like my brothers."
"Exactly. Go help them. Please."
Her other hand brushed feather light over his temple, pushing his glasses a little further up his nose. "You're a cutie, Percy. Don't lose it."
She tugged at his shirt, and he leaned down and kissed her. Hard, gentle, and pouring every conflicting emotion he felt into her lips. Her eyes were sparkling as he drew away. "There's th-the bra-brave b-b-boy I love…" Her entire body was vibrating, muscles seizing and unclenching uncontrollably.
"Keira, I love you, please…"
"G-g-g-go to H-Ho-Hog-Hogwarts. He-he-he-help them. I-I-I-I lo-love you."
He smoothed her hair back from her forehead. "I love you, Keira."
She smiled and with a shaky exhale, her eyes flickered shut. Her body grew still.
"Wait for me. Please, Keira, don't go without me."
"I'll… meet… you… at… King's… Cross… do-don't b-be l-late W-We-Weasley…"
"I won't, Keira."
She did not respond. And she did not inhale.
He held her body in his arms, kissing her face and sobbing, whispering every apology he never had the chance to say.
Crossing her arms over her chest, he smoothed her ash brown hair one last time. Standing, he took off down the hall, robes flying behind him as he ran.
He had a world to help save.
As he stood over his brother's body, he thought back on all his memories of his brother, all his memories of his family, all his memories of Hogwarts, all his memories of Keira. He had failed. He had not saved his world. But hopefully he had helped a future one.
He glanced around the Great Hall. No sign of Harry. The boy had just killed Voldemort, and yet he was not parading it about. He was not the boastful Chosen One Percy had considered him to be.
Later, he would go back to the Ministry, where all the bodies had been gathered in the grand foyer, under the destroyed statue he had secretly loathed. He would walk through the rows of the dead, mourning everyone he had lost.
Then he would find her. He would stare at the ties that he had wrapped around her wrist before he had left her – one Gryffindor, the other Ravenclaw.
It would take years to recover from the war. Nineteen years later, the world seemed like it once had… the platform at King's Cross filled with small children in black robes, surrounded by their parents. He spotted Harry and Ginny passing on their way towards Ron and Hermione, noting the way they both avoided catching his eye. He couldn't say he blamed them.
"Isn't that your sister?" Penelope gestured towards the red headed beauty and her dark haired companion.
"Yes. Yes it is. They won't want to talk to me, though. Probably worried about cauldron bottoms."
Penelope looked confused at the reference, but did not ask for clarification. "Are you ready to get on the train?" she cooed, kneeling down and resting her hands on her daughter's shoulders.
The little girl whipped her ash brown hair over her shoulder. "Mama, I'm eleven. I'm not little anymore. I can get on a train by myself." Despite her words, she threw herself without protest into her mother's arms.
"Owl us when you find out which house you are in," Penelope sniffled, wiping a few stray tears off her eyelashes.
"I'm going to be in Ravenclaw." Keira raised her chin with familiar resolution.
"What about Gryffindor?" Percy teased.
Keira shrugged. "That'd be fine too, I guess."
The whistle blew, and with two final hugs, Keira ducked off through the crowd.
Penelope exhaled shallowly. "Thank you, Percy," she said. "I could have brought her by myself, but…"
"It was really no trouble. Any excuse to spend time with my niece."
His sister-in-law smiled. "She reminds me a lot of her, you know."
"I know." Percy's mind flickered to images of the girl he knew and loved, seeing the echoes of her in the little girl who was waving from the window of the Hogwarts Express. Remembered the grave in Godric's Hollow, the beautifully robed girl sleeping in a black ash coffin. The gold and ruby ring on her finger. The silver band with a single small blue diamond on his. A promise that he would keep till the end of his life, and a reminder, many decades later, of a long awaited meeting at King's Cross.
The two school ties still looped around her wrist after all those years. Blue and silver, red and gold. Perfectly matched.