Memories

This was the last thing he had to do. Percy knelt before the closed trunk, hands pressed lightly against its lid as though the hint would spring it open and he wouldn't have to resort to actually pulling at the lock and lifting the lid. He didn't want to open the trunk, even though he knew exactly what was inside.

He could see each item inside it as though the wood were transparent. He would have suspected that Oliver had laid a 'see through wood as though air' spell on him, except that Oliver wasn't there, and no one else, who was, remembered the joke.

Percy knew he needed to open the trunk. He'd left it for last, and there was nothing else to do. He'd put this off for days already, and he couldn't reasonably think of anything else he should be doing.

He'd knelt here yesterday, hands on the trunk, and got no further. He'd let himself kneel here for an hour, until his body was stiff and aching and he'd had to use a spell to lift himself upright again. He'd told himself he had to clean the kitchen and tidy the parlor, and had gone to do so even though in truth there was little enough in either room to be done. He'd managed to spend the day doing it, pretending that age had slowed him to such insignificant speed.

Today he had dallied over breakfast as long as he could. Tried to stay in bed past the hour he always woke, but he grew restless too soon and had to rise, despite his best intentions. He took his breakfast outside in the garden, admiring the beauty of the roses and thinking about how Cecile would be delighted to see how well they were blooming. He had thought of writing her to tell her, and had got as far as finding as piece of paper when he recalled that he had no owl, and Cecile would be here tomorrow regardless.

The attempt at letter-writing had spent the rest of the morning for him, though, and he knew that that was why he'd let himself forget he needn't send the letter. But now he was here, kneeling before the trunk, waiting to open it.

As he always did, he thought of the items inside. It made it no easier to lift the lid, though his arms were still strong enough that the latch and wooden lid were no difficulty for him. He could have claimed so, and gotten help from his nearby nephews or the neighbor's grandchildren as he had with the furniture taken down from upstairs. His spell-casting was still strong, but the furniture was old, heirlooms from their parents and grandparents and his younger relatives had balked at letting Percy taking care of everything. They'd claimed they didn't want to risk him dropping anything; he wasn't sure if that were all there was to it, or if they feared he really was growing too old to cast a simple leviosa spell.

Or perhaps they'd simply wanted to give him excuses to have company during the move. They'd been doing such ever since Oliver had died, finding reasons to drop in and stay for days or weeks, or invite Percy into their homes. At first he'd barely noticed, then he'd been desperately grateful. Eventually, though, he'd grown annoyed by their constant attention and he'd informed each one that they could resume their own lives, thank you, he was just fine on his own.

It had been difficult, to be certain, but he had been fine. Living alone without family underfoot, he'd been able to start living his life again with memories to hold him. But he was growing older, old enough that soon he would need someone to assist -- or watch over him. He'd decided that he wanted to make the transition while he still have full control of his facilities; they'd tried to move their father in with Ginny and David after he had grown senile. The move had confused and worried him so much that Ginny had had to pack up her entire family and move them into the old Burrow, and not say word when he called her children by her brothers' names.

Percy didn't mind moving in with his younger brother's family. When he'd expressed his interest in finding somewhere else to live, he'd been fairly inundated with offers -- siblings, nieces and nephews, even some of Oliver's cousins had invited him to stay. He'd looked over every one, checking into each family's current home and resources to determine where he would be inconvenient and burdensome, and where he might fit in with little uproar to the household. He'd finally asked George, his brother's son, if he might take the spare room in their large house in London. The facilities of the city suited him more than returning to the countryside he'd grown up in, and George and his wife had just sent their youngest daughter off to school so they'd have room, yet had not grown accustomed to having the space.

So the plans had been made, and Percy's things packed up and moved or divided among the rest of the family. Cecile had not started moving her own things in, though she was taking possession of the house the day after tomorrow. Percy appreciated her thoughtfulness, knowing she didn't want him to feel crowded out of what had been his home for so many years.

Perhaps he needed the push, he told himself, as he stayed kneeling before the trunk. One last thing, not packed, not taken. Today they were coming for the last of his belongings -- his bed, his own trunk, the few kitchen things he wasn't leaving behind. They would come for this trunk, as well, lifting it up and carrying it along with everything else. Percy had told them to leave it each time anyone came to move more of his belongings. They'd stopped asking the last few visits, and now Percy knew he could wait no longer. When they came, they would take it whether or not Percy had opened the lid and looked inside.

And he knew he couldn't let them take it, without looking. He bowed his head, as if the weight of the trunk were resting on his shoulders. He knew what was inside. It should not be so difficult to look at what he had burned into his memory. Percy sighed, thinking that he might just stand up and leave the trunk and keep just those memories. But he could hear Oliver chide him for the fear, teasing him for being afraid to look at the contents of his own heart, when he knew them better than he knew the house that contained them.

He pushed the lid open, and let it fall. There, on the top of a pile of Oliver's things, was a picture.

Oliver waved, and mouthed 'I love you'.