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Requiem for a rat - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Requiem for a rat
Percy challenge from riah_chan

Set during the cat/rat fight.

Start 1:58 am





"I think you should talk to Ron," Ginny said, with no preliminaries.

Percy looked up from his Potions notes, and immediately rolled up the scroll when he saw the look on Ginny's face. "Sit down, Ginny. What is it?"

"Scabbers. Oh, ever since Crookshanks... well, Hermione says it wasn't Crookshanks, but..." She sighed. "Of course it was Crookshanks. Everyone knows it. But Ron... he's really angry at Hermione and they aren't talking, and she's my friend and he's my brother, and they're both Harry's friends, and--"

"I've seen some of that. I think he'd rather talk to you, Ginny. You've always been his friend."

"You're the oldest here," she said simply. "And besides, you know how he feels."

"What do you mean?"

She smiled wanly. "Do you think I didn't catch you sniffling in Common Room before you came up here that night?"

Percy blushed. He'd thought he'd managed to duck up the stairs before anyone noticed, but of course, Ginny missed very little. "Right."

"Don't worry. I won't tell anyone."

He raised an eyebrow. "Where have I heard that before?"

She feigned an innocent smile. "I can't imagine what you mean."

"Let's see... at one end of the Hogwarts Express, the twins were going on about Exploding Snap. At the other, they were making kissing noises at Penny and me. I wonder what might have given them that idea."

An even more exaggerated innocent look.

Percy pinched her nose, which made her giggle. "All right," he said. "I'll talk to Ron. I don't think he really wants me to, but I will."

Ginny kissed his cheek. "Don't be dense, Perce."

"Where is he?"

"By the lake."

"Bit cold for it, isn't it?"

"Hermione's in the Common Room. Harry's... I don't know where Harry is. I don't know Harry's schedule anymore." She gave him a somewhat proud smile. "But Ron is definitely at the lake. I just saw him out the window."

"Well, then, the lake it is. I'll get my cloak."

Ginny smiled at him and left, and he got his cloak and scarf from the wardrobe. On second thought, he put a second scarf in his pocket; Ron tended to forget.

It was March, and winter was holding its last few weeks, but the lake was already starting to thaw from repeated warm spells. Ron was sitting on a large rock on the shore, tossing rocks out onto the remaining ice, watching them crack the surface and sink. Percy went to him and sat down on a neighboring rock.

Ron didn't look at him.

"Have a scarf, Ron," he said. "You'll catch a cold, and Mum will have my head."

Ron took the scarf and wound it around his neck. "What do you want?"

Percy chose not to answer him directly, instead picking up a stone and chucking it out onto the surface of the ice. He used a Charm to warm it, and watched it melt an increasingly large hole before it finally slid under.

"I found Scabbers in the garden," he said, and picked up another stone. He tossed from hand to hand. "He was foraging for potatoes, of all things. Didn't even run when he saw me coming."

Ron sighed. "I know the story, Perce. You were small and didn't know that rats in the garden weren't meant to be played with, and you petted him, and he started doing tricks for you."

"Dad thought it was the cutest thing," Percy said. "Mum didn't want a rat in the house, but Bill had a chicken that was especially his, and she'd let Charlie keep a tank full of lizards that he'd found alongside the road. I was four and a half. I still think that was a fairly logical argument."

"Right."

"So we took him in and Mum got all the fleas off of him, and did something to make sure he wasn't carrying anything if he should bite. Charlie helped me make a little cage for him. I cut pictures out of Martin Miggs to make it cheerful for him."

Ron smiled this time. "You read Martin Miggs."

"Quite devotedly. Don't tell Penny."

"What, does she think it's offensive to Muggles or something? I swear, Hermione found one once and--"

"No, she just thinks I only read serious literature."

"--and she said it was insulting to think that Muggles behaved like that."

"Take Muggle studies. See their stories about witches and wizards. It's on both sides of the line." Percy shrugged. "Hermione's a bit overstressed this year."

Ron glared at him, but said nothing about it. Instead, he fiddled with the tassels on his scarf for a moment. "He's just been so ill this year. I hoped he would get better. I hate that the last thing he felt--other than that monster cat coming for him--was sick."

"You were taking good care of him, Ron. I'm sure the last thing he felt was well-cared-for and loved."

Ron flipped the end of the scarf over his shoulder with an annoyed twitch. "He was just a rat!" he said. "Just--"

"Just part of your life, Ron. Don't try to pretend he wasn't."

"He was part of your life, too. I've gone and got your pet killed. Or, well, Hermione has. But I'd reckon that monster wouldn't have gone after Scabbers if we hadn't been together all the time. Aren't you angry?"

"No. Ron, you were never careless with him. You looked after him well."

"Not well enough to keep that bloody cat away from him."

"What were you planning to do? Kill Crookshanks?"

Regretfully, he shook his head.

"And you couldn't have Scabbers in your pocket all day, every day."

"I suppose."

"It happened."

Ron looked over at him, obviously quite miserable. "I always said he was useless and couldn't do anything. Do you reckon he knew what I meant?"

Percy laughed. "I doubt it. For a rat, he was bright enough. But I doubt he understood English. He understood rat tonic and food just fine, though. Animals understand what we do, not what we say."

"Except for hippogriffs. Ask Malfoy." Ron smirked.

"Right." Percy looked out across the lake. "The point is, Scabbers knew you did your best to keep him fed and healthy and comfortable. To a rat, that's love."

"I just wish I'd said more nice things. He was a good rat. He only ever bit Goyle, you know."

"I know. Mum was sure he'd bite you or Ginny when you were crawling around, but once when you were four you grabbed him by the tail and picked him up that way. He squeaked horridly, but he didn't bite you."

"I got my hand slapped, though," Ron said. "That, I remember. 'Ronald Bilius Weasley, we do not treat pets like that!'"

"Well, once he was in the family... you know Mum."

"Yeah."

"You cried when she told you that you'd hurt Scabbers, and you just held on to him and petted him, and kept saying you were sorry. He finally fell asleep on your lap. I was actually jealous."

"You were?"

"Well, he was my pet at the time. And from then until I left for Hogwarts, he always spent more time with you. Utterly unfair, you know."

"He liked Ginny, too. She always gave him her sprouts when Mum wasn't looking."

"And you always gave him your beets. And I generally gave him carrots. We overfed him quite healthfully."

"It's probably why he lived so long. He ate all of our vegetables."

"And quite a lot of everything else we had," Percy said.

"Yeah... Mum said she was sure he was raiding the pantry at night."

Percy smiled. "That would have been Bill and Charlie."

"Or the ghoul."

"Or Dad's gnomes."

They laughed together, and the sound of it bounced off the surface of the ice.

Percy stood up and walked to the water's edge. "It's supposed to hurt, Ron," he said. "We're not meant to just lose a creature we care for and then go on as though nothing happened. Everyone knows it, but they only seem to remember it when it's their creature. Otherwise, they'll think, 'Oh, it was just a rat. He's being silly.'"

"That's what she thinks, anyway."

"Does she? I'm not sure. She seems quite upset."

"That's only because I want her to apologize for what her cat did!"

Percy turned to Ron, evaluated his face, and decided that it wasn't time to press this particular point. His anger at Hermione still seemed rational to him, and he would resist any attempt to take it away. "Well," he said, "that's for another day. I just wanted you to know... I know he wasn't just a rat. At least not to us."

"I feel stupid."

"Don't." Percy grabbed Ron by the knot of his scarft and gently pried him up from the rock. "Come on inside," he said. "It's freezing out here, and you'll catch something."

Without argument, Ron pulled his cloak shut, and followed Percy back into the castle.


End 2:58 a.m.
13 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
pauraque From: pauraque Date: June 10th, 2004 12:06 am (UTC) (Link)
I have to admit I got a tad misty-eyed at some of this; animal stuff does it every time. Ron really does love Scabbers, in the books... it's one of my favorite things about his character.
thunderemerald From: thunderemerald Date: June 10th, 2004 12:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Aww, that was lovely. Very touching. It's nice to see Percy acting like a big brother for once, instead of the "monster" he became in the eyes of the fandom after OotP.

One question though: "hippogryph"? Is that a weird typo, or is "hippogriff" the Americanized version?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2004 07:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Ack, that's how I spelled it the first time, but for some reason, it looked wrong. (See start and end times for explanation... Three am, good for creativity, bad for detail work. ;))
cheshyre From: cheshyre Date: June 10th, 2004 04:41 am (UTC) (Link)
That's so sweet...
cynthia_black From: cynthia_black Date: June 10th, 2004 05:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Aww that was lovely! Percy being all big-brotherly for once :-)

atropos87 From: atropos87 Date: June 10th, 2004 05:50 am (UTC) (Link)
That's great, Fern. I really like the way Percy takes Ron a scarf - it's so Weasley.
wm_law2003 From: wm_law2003 Date: June 10th, 2004 05:51 am (UTC) (Link)
That was really wonderful Weasley goodness. I love fics like this.
From: imation23 Date: June 10th, 2004 05:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, lovely - I *heart* Weasley family interaction.
dreagoddess From: dreagoddess Date: June 10th, 2004 09:32 am (UTC) (Link)

Aww!

Just adorable. :) And how wonderful to see Percy and Ron interacting like real brothers. *cuddles them both*
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: June 10th, 2004 10:31 am (UTC) (Link)
That was lovely! I liked seeing a sympathetic Percy. Ron's sweet too, and Ginny was very well done.
Couple of Britpicks:
Schedule=timetable
beets=beetroot(s)
'alongside the road' sounds odd too, I'd say 'beside the road', but I loved Charlie keeping the lizards. And Bill's chicken! So sweet.
calico321 From: calico321 Date: June 10th, 2004 12:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aw, that was so sweet. I like seeing Percy with a little compassion, and I loved how you described Scabbers as a treasrued family pet who should be mourned.

A nitpick though, Percy would be the eldest brother, not the oldest.
riah_chan From: riah_chan Date: June 11th, 2004 05:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sorry to take so long to respond to this... I was on restriction until I took my Sociology quiz.^_^;;

I enjoyed this ever so much. I adore both Percy and Ron and you had them both so wonderfully in character and sibling-ish. The reason that I requested them as Hogwarts-aged was because most of the better sibling-stories I've come across (meaning the ones where Percy is not bastardized) were when they were younger... and really, it's easier to get along with your siblings when you are little, before you have outside friends of your own, when they are all you interact with on a daily basis. When you are older and around your friends more often, you have other people to associate with and aren't forced into being with siblings so you don't have to stay on their good sides... I just forgot what the point of this was. Anyway, sweet and adorable. Thank you for writing this.

Riah-chan
mariagoner From: mariagoner Date: June 12th, 2004 01:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Very poignant and sweet, and I loved the way you picked on the general love Percy has for his family beneath his layers of bluster. And the way Percy was going on about how Scabbers must have loved them... while we really knew that Scabbers likely felt just the opposite towards them... well. Sent a discrete set of chills down my spine. Beautiful.
13 comments or Leave a comment