icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
[personal profile] icarus
A little ficlet to spread the Percy love, with a warm thank you to [livejournal.com profile] hydaspes. This story was really dull (and stuck) until your suggestion this morning that changed everything.

This story is completely HBP compliant, according regulation 471, section 8, dash 12.

Dinner For Three
By Icarus



Percy Weasley edged through the Friday night crowd, bobbing his head slightly to the posh stylings of The Rivertones. He made a mental note: he'd have to buy that Gramophone Charm; everyone was listening to The Rivertones these days. The maitre d' spotted him with a warmly professional smile, and snapped up a pair of dragon-hide menus under his arm.

"Mr Weasley – table for two?"

Percy nodded absently, struggling with the man's name before he gave it up. Underlings weren't important, but it made a good impression if you could remember their names; people would assume you were aware of every detail under your purview. It was one of the mistakes Crouch had made that had led to his downfall, politically speaking.

"Your party is waiting for you. Right this way."

Weatherby, Percy thought and wrinkled his nose. The name still rankled.

Rita was already seated, her palm coiled around her signature Dragonsbane whisky, fingernail tapping the glass impatiently. She had replaced her battered jeweled glasses with a new pair, Percy noted with dislike, and wore a short jacket in an absolutely shocking shade of magenta that clashed with the décor. Percy shook his head inwardly. She had the most appalling taste.

"Rita, darling, how are you?" He leaned over to kiss her cheek.

"You are twenty minutes late, lovey, I was beginning to think you– oh, is that a new aftershave?" she interrupted herself.

"You are as discerning as ever. It's Savoir Faire," Percy smiled as he settled into the seat across from her.

She raised her painted eyebrows. "My, my, we are coming up in the world, aren't we?" Her look turned calculating. He'd hear no more complaints about being late today. "Yet somehow, I'll always remember the charming young wizard who dropped the Minister's quill in front of the entire International Confederation of Wizards." She smirked.

Percy flushed but laughed hollowly, quietly hating her. "Oh yes, that was an embarrassing moment, wasn't it? Of course, Fudge is long gone these days."

He saw her twitch with hope, eager to hear the inside story. Percy merely glanced at his menu instead, a small, almost innocent revenge. He ignored the water by his elbow although he was quite thirsty; successful wizards never, ever drank the water. He'd noticed that on his own.

"Have you heard the specials?" Percy changed the subject, noting her disappointment. "I had their poached toadstools yesterday, they're excellent."

And another little dig, with a reminder of his current status and expense account, and that he was a regular customer. Certainly Rita couldn't afford it.

Rita held up her menu and it disapparated. She leaned forward on her elbows, her chin poised on laced fingertips. "You choose something for me," she purred.

Much better. Now she was behaving herself. Even if she did challenge him to prove that he knew the menu. Well, he could do that. He disapparated his own menu, grinned at her in a manner that he hoped was rakish (he'd practiced in the mirror)… then spoke to the table and ordered for both of them. From memory.

Yes, one eyebrow raised meant Rita was genuinely impressed. Did she really think he would lie?

She kept it to small talk during the meal, as she knew he preferred. He'd learned that it was a way to emphasize the importance of what one said. In the old days he used to leap on the silence as if he'd never a chance to speak. He'd since learned to take his time, something he supposed he owed that bumbler, Fudge. Plus, Rita's chatter was revealing. Most of what she knew could never be printed in a family newspaper and Percy couldn't help but laugh into his roasted crup. She ordered Percy a refill on his wine, and he pretended to take a sip. He had to stay on his toes with her.

She was diving into a fourteen layer German Forest cake like a dragon as Percy toyed with the stem of his wineglass. The woman certainly could eat.

"So," Rita smirked. "How's Darberry?"

Percy schooled his face to a careful surprised blink. He hoped it looked puzzled, though based on her rapacious expression he doubted it. "I'm sorry… whom?"

She licked a bit of chocolate off the corner of her mouth. "The pretty brunette."

"I'm sorry, my girlfriend Lucretia happens to be blonde," Percy said with carefully practiced amusement, honed from many lunches with Lucius Malfoy – may he rot forever in Azkeban. Damn the woman's curiosity.

"In the front hall of the Ministry this morning? Edwin Darberry I believe he's called. You two seemed to be… getting along."

Percy's mind scrabbled for what she might have seen while he said, "This morning… this morning… Oh, yes, the coffee shop boy! Is that his name? Darberry?"

In truth, Percy didn't know his full name. He never did. It was easier that way.

She must have heard the genuine note of surprise in his voice, because she frowned a little. "Are you certain you don't have more to tell me?"

A warm feeling overtook Percy, almost a euphoria that made him wonder briefly about the wine, but he felt so peaceful the question disappeared like a soap bubble. "Scrimgeour is reorganising the Aurors," he said in a strangely flat tone, "redirecting their tactics from the hunt for Snape to an attempt to locate the Dark Lord's whereabouts. This is dangerous."

Rita had her quill out and was scratching away eagerly. "And the story? The deep background?"

"The Aurors don't like the Minister intervening and this will be seen as a power grab once it's known."

"Is it?" Rita looked up, her eyes sharp. "A power grab?"

"Everything is about power," Percy said. "But the Aurors will fight it. They must continue their search for Snape."

"Yes, yes," Rita's curls bobbed, "the 'Slayer of Dumbledore!' that can't be ignored. The Minister's personal agenda can't stand in the way of justice – it's perfect!" Her quill took notes at a frantic pace. "My readership is incensed about his death. They will be up in arms!"

She dotted an 'I' heavily, nearly breaking through the page.

"So…" she prodded with a sly smile. "Tell me. What is the Minister's actual agenda?"

"We shall discuss that next week."

Rita looked somewhat disappointed, if resigned.

Then Percy blinked, shaking his head as if to clear it. What had they been talking about? He was getting absent-minded these days. Oh yes….

"I'm afraid I have no idea who that young man is."

He hoped that answered whatever it was she'd said. She was always pestering him about his private life! He had no idea why he kept meeting her and concluded that, good relations with the press or no, he was far too important now to be wasting time with the likes of her.

Rita gave him a slow mischievous smile as she tucked away a notebook in her alligator bag. As she stood to leave, she reached over and patted his cheek.

"You never do, darling, you never do."


Date: 2005-07-20 07:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tjstein.livejournal.com
Well, that was intriguing and very nicely done. As much as Percy thinks he's got the whole political mechanics down pat, he's still somewhat naive, isn't he?

Date: 2005-07-20 07:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icarusancalion.livejournal.com
Hmmm... I think there's a little more than naivete going on here. Why does he keep going back to meet with her?

Icarus

Date: 2005-07-21 11:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tjstein.livejournal.com
What I meant was that he seems awfully sure of himself about how things work: noting how it's helpful to know names of underlings, not to drink the water because successful wizards never do, knowing when to keep silent and not chatter, etc. And yet it appears that he doesn't ralize that he's being used.

No idea why he continues to meet with her though. I'm hopeless at figuring out things like that. Although it seems odd that he thinks it's important to remember names of underlings and yet can't remember the maitre-d's name...especially since he's such a regular. Red herring maybe?

Date: 2005-07-21 04:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icarusancalion.livejournal.com
Oh yes, he's completely oblivious to things that matter, unaware of the time that he's losing due to the Imperius. He just thinks he's getting absent-minded.

He's meeting with her because of the Imperius, and the way the curse works is insidious. One supplies one's own answers as excuses for what one is doing. This Imperius is being set up very cautiously. There's no direct attack against anyone, instead Percy's access is being used to steadily disrupt and undermine the Ministry. If he's caught leaking things to Rita it will look like just normal political maneuvreing -- his arse will be in a sling politically, but no one will catch on he's under Imperius.

Everything Percy's leaked has helped Voldemort.

Rita is not with the Death Eaters, she's merely taking advantage of a good source. She's well aware that Percy's under Imperius but hasn't a single ethic about making use of it so long as she's getting her stories.

Icarus

Date: 2005-07-20 07:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honeycakehorse.livejournal.com
Oh, I like. Percy thinking he's in control, but in fact only being manipulated by Rita. That seems to be the story of his life, doesn't it? Him trying to do what he considers right and being used by other people... *sigh* Brilliant ficlet, anyway.

Date: 2005-07-20 07:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icarusancalion.livejournal.com
Ah, but Rita can't get the information out of him that she wants. She has to wait till next week.

So who's manipulating him again?

Icarus

Date: 2005-07-20 07:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honeycakehorse.livejournal.com
Buh? I think my brain just broke trying to understand. I still need that for Latin today!

So, even in danger of sounding stupid... Rita wants information. Percy gives her information that I can't see the Ministry wanting to get out. But he doesn't give her (all) the information she wants. How did Rita manipulate Percy? Did Rita manipulate Percy? Who else would be interested in that information getting out? The Aurors. This scene has obviously happened many times before. His confusion screams 'Obliviators' to me, but it must be something in the food. He can't remember the maitre d's name. Why is he late, Percy isn't somebody to be late.

Bravo, you've managed ot thoroughly confuse me with what I thought was a clever, but fairly straight forward fic. :)

Date: 2005-07-20 07:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icarusancalion.livejournal.com
I suck. I guess I wasn't clear:

A warm feeling overtook Percy, almost a euphoria that made him wonder briefly about the wine, but he felt so peaceful the question disappeared like a soap bubble.

Then --

Then Percy blinked, shaking his head as if to clear it. What had they been talking about? He was getting absent-minded these days. Oh yes….

Darn. *wails for a beta*

Icarus

Date: 2005-07-20 07:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honeycakehorse.livejournal.com
No, you don't. :P

And I had got that part. :) But your comment made me unsure about who the actual perpetator is here...

Date: 2005-07-20 08:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icarusancalion.livejournal.com
Oh, okay.

Well, if the perpetrator can't be Rita, since she'd milk all she could out of Percy, then who stands to benefit from the Aurors chasing Snape instead of Voldemort? Not to mention from dissention in the Ministry?

Percy's phrasing is the clue here.

Icarus

Date: 2005-07-20 08:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moojja.livejournal.com
Ah, ok I get it now. I thought the perpetrator couldn't be Rita. But I gave Percy too much credit.

Date: 2005-07-20 08:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icarusancalion.livejournal.com
Well, there aren't many people who can fight off Imperius, and it helps to know it's been cast.

Icarus

Date: 2005-07-20 08:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moojja.livejournal.com
People are commenting on Rita controlling Percy; I read this as Percy pretending to be under Rita's control, but is really faking it. Mm-mm? Are you going to expand this little ficlet, you drop some interesting hints in here.

Date: 2005-07-20 07:38 pm (UTC)
ext_9362: (Default)
From: [identity profile] izzybeth.livejournal.com
wow. really excellent ficlet. damn Rita Skeeter, i never liked her. and you've got HPB Percy down.

also: you don't happen to be a Star Wars fan, do you? because i remember reading something very like this in one of the X-wing novels (Solo Command, i think it was) where people are 'activated' to a controlled state (Imperius-like) by mention of a particular name or phrase. this just reminded me of it-- the 'Darberry' thing. it's a very interesting way for Rita to control Percy.

Date: 2005-07-20 08:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icarusancalion.livejournal.com
I love Star Wars but I've only seen the movies, never read he novels or fanfic.

But if Rita's in control, then why does she have to wait for a week for Percy's next installment? She doesn't seem to be the one in charge here.

Icarus

Date: 2005-07-20 08:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] reposoir.livejournal.com
Aw, poor Percy! I imagine that the title has much significance in the most subtlest and sneakiest of ways because, really, there are two people physically at dinner. ;)

And the line about his girlfriend being names Lucrezia makes me squee. Even more because I'm reading a book on the Borgias right now...

Date: 2005-07-20 08:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icarusancalion.livejournal.com
Well done, yes, you're dead on about the title. ;) (And thank you.)

Icarus

Date: 2005-07-20 10:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] angemari87.livejournal.com
Hmm... Luncheons with Lucius... and a tardy, forgetful Percy...
Dear me. I think I'm enjoying this.
Thanks~

Date: 2005-07-21 04:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icarusancalion.livejournal.com
*bounces* Cool, I'm glad you like it. I was getting a little worried when it wasn't obvious what was going on, exactly.

Hmmyeah, I suspect those luncheons were actually with Fudge, Lucius, Percy... and half a dozen other people in Fudge's entourage. But Percy would think of them as "lunches with Lucius." ;)

Icarus

Date: 2005-07-22 11:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] angemari87.livejournal.com
I do enjoy this! Will you be contiuning soon? I hope so. It's obvious what you are doing, if you read it more than once.
Thanks~

Date: 2005-07-22 02:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icarusancalion.livejournal.com
I meant it as just a character study, testing out the changes in Percy. I guess it could be a longer Gen piece, couldn't it?

Icarus

Date: 2005-07-21 08:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] goseaward.livejournal.com
Oooooh, interesting. I like politically-capable!Percy, mm. :>

Couple of beta-type notes:

gramophone charm, unless you were deliberately misspelling it?

and Scrimgeour, you forgot the "u". :D

Date: 2005-07-21 01:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icarusancalion.livejournal.com
Ah, thank you. *corrects*

Icarus

Date: 2005-07-22 03:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mark356.livejournal.com
Adorable!

Date: 2005-07-22 02:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icarusancalion.livejournal.com
Percy! Percy! Rah, rah, rah!

Icarus

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icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
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