The Kids These Days Are Alright
By: Yidkirkin of the Warhammer
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
Why am I posting this. Why am I posting this.
Penelope Clearwater, now employed at the Ministry's Muggle Liaison and Cooperation Office, was glad to finally be home after a long day at work. She loved her job, there was no doubt about that, but sometimes dealing with cautious muggle partners or inquiring families of muggleborns was more stressful than it was worth. That was especially true lately, when said families were standoffish and worried about the fast approaching return of their children, and those same partners felt entitled to speak to someone of a higher rank than they had been assigned. Penelope had to exert every ounce of patience she possessed in order to make it through all the meetings unscathed, and was looking forward to the pot of tea that she had made this morning; enchanted to stay fresh and hot until she needed it upon her return.
Climbing the last few stairs to her apartment had never seemed like it would be a chore when she bought the place, but she knew differently now. She had left her files at the office, but that was her only respite and walking the hallway was going to be just as exhausting. Penelope was just letting out a relieved sigh as she rounded the corner, when she froze mid-step, the last person she had ever expected to see here, sitting morosely against her front door.
"...Hi, Penelope." Percy Weasley greeted weakly, eyes red and face paler than she had ever seen before. Penelope stared, open mouthed, for a few moments before her mind caught up with her body and she was striding over, tiredness forgotten.
"Good lord, Percy, what on Earth happened to you?" Percy's face crumbled a bit as he hiccupped, and Penelope was extremely grateful that the tea was already made for them. "Come on, get up so I can let us in."
Percy shuffled over and stood, wincing every few seconds as if the movements pained him. Penelope waved her wand in her specific way and the door swung open softly, and before she could regret it she found herself ushering her ex-boyfriend inside and onto the couch, not bothering to make him take his shoes off himself and just spelling them away to make it easier. Penelope left Percy in her living room and swept into the kitchen, waving her wand this way and that gracefully, summoning the quilt from her closet and making up a tray for the tea. By the time she was finished and back in the same room as her impromptu guest, Percy had deflated like a botched soufflé and was holding his head in his hands. Penelope, though she knew this man well and had even loved him at some point, was unnerved.
"Here." Percy accepted the offered tea cup (two cream, no sugar) with a grateful smile-grimace and Penelope sat next to him on the couch, carefully making sure she was on the other cushion and not crowding him. "Percy, why are you here? What's wrong?"
Percy let out a sound that tore Penelope's heart in two, something like a cross between a sob and a drowning man's gasp for air. "I – I had a row, with my parents. I c-can't say what it was ab-about, but I can't st-stay there anymore. I came here c-cause you're the only person I could think of – who might let me stay for a few nights."
"God, Percy..." Penelope sniffed. "Of course you can stay for a little while. I wouldn't leave you without a place to sleep." Percy tried to laugh, but it just came out as more sobs. He put down his tea before he spilled it and didn't even notice when Penelope moved closer and hugged him.
"Hey, it's going to be alright, Percy. I know a bloke downstairs, he's a real estate agent and he owes me a favour. I'll help you out, don't you worry." Percy just sobbed louder, not even caring that his glasses were getting fogged up or that he was getting tears on Penelope's sleeve. Penelope really wanted to ask what had led Percy – who loved his family to death, who was always so composed, so positive – to this, what had made him so despairing, without even a home to go back to. But Penelope didn't ask, she just pushed away her exhaustion and sat with her arms around her ex-boyfriend, and tried to figure out whether or not she would be able to take the day off tomorrow to convince Tanner to help her out.
"Are you sure you're alright with just this?" Penelope asked awkwardly two days later, handing Tanner two casserole dishes filled with Sheppard's Pie. "This is a pretty big thing I'm asking..."
"Penny, you worry so much. This request is for your friend, yes?" Tanner placed the dishes carefully in his freezer and smiled at the witch. "I would have helped you with just that, but I can never miss an opportunity for your cooking, you know."
Penelope blushed lightly. "Alright... Percy's still asleep, but would you be free in about an hour or so? I can bring him down or you can come up."
Tanner shrugged and grinned easily. "Either would be fine with me. Although I think a chance to see your home is incredibly tempting... but only as long as you are comfortable with it." The real estate agent barked out a laugh. "I could bring up my specialty tea to sweeten the deal?"
"You're smitten with this bloke aren't you?" Percy asked dryly, watching Penelope flit around the house nervously, waving her wand about her face and trying to get rid of all the evidence of magic. "I don't have to be here you know, if you want to have tea with him alone."
"Good god, Percy, will you shut up! So what if I like him?" Penelope shot back flippantly, changing the titles on her bookshelf to something more mundane. "Besides, you have to be here because this is for your benefit." Percy's ears turned bright red and he looked away; Penelope sighed exasperatedly. "I would let you stay longer, but I just don't have the room... and it's still awkward for me. Take me out for a drink after this and we'll be even."
"Sure." Percy jumped as the doorbell rang and Penelope sped past to answer it. As she and Tanner spoke by the door, Percy stood up and moved over to the kitchen table, grabbing the tray of tea off the counter as he did so. He was fussing with the edge of his sweater when Penelope and the muggle came in; he quickly dropped the fabric and stood to shake the shorter man's hand.
"Percy Weasley. Thanks so much for this, on such short notice." Percy looked guiltily at his ex-girlfriend as the other man laughed.
"Tanner Veraldi, and it's no problem. You are Penny's friend." Percy's face must have betrayed his surprise at the easy acceptance, but if Tanner noticed, he didn't say anything about it. "Now, let's get started shall we? We have much to talk about." Nodding, Percy sat back down, Tanner on his left and Penelope on Tanner's other side.
The next few minutes were spent outlining what Percy wanted to get out of where he would be living; it didn't take very long because Percy knew that he didn't have many options. He only had so much money saved in the bank and he didn't want to make things more difficult for the muggle that Penelope was enamoured with. So he basically went with only the things he would never budge on; it had to be within walking distance of the Ministry, be relatively cheap and not be in too busy an area. Once those specifics were laid down, Tanner produced a veritable filing cabinet from his briefcase and spent awhile shuffling through it, finally laying a stack of fifteen papers in front of the wizard.
"These best fit what you want. Right now is a good time to be getting into this market you know, you have many options." Tanner showed Percy where to find the asking price on the forms and a few other key areas he should look at, and then reached for the tea pot while Percy was going through the stack. As the muggle started up a quiet conversation with Penelope, Percy eliminated three places based on their monthly rent price, and then another two based on where they were located (farther away than what he had been looking for).
The remaining ten were all acceptable, but he got rid of another three by reasoning that the rooms were just too big for one person. One place, which contained no reference photo, was actually a house, and Percy discarded that too for the same reason. Another bust, upon reviewing the finer print, was a single room in a boarding house for University students, and so Percy was left with five places that all seemed to be fairly reasonable. Tanner must have noticed his indecision on the remaining options, for after a break in the talk he beckoned for Percy to hand him back the papers.
"This one is no good." He said, showing Percy the listing for a two bedroom apartment only 5 minutes from the Ministry telephone booth. "I recognize the building now; it's fallen into disrepair lately and has caused me many headaches. I should get rid of this paper altogether, actually." Tanner pondered that for a minute, but in the end he put the paper with the rest of the discarded listings. "And this one is above a fish monger. Unless you don't mind a constant smell?" Percy shook his head and Tanner handed him the three papers that were left. "Now, why not give me your first pick and I'll keep the others on standby if something goes wrong."
"That sounds alright." Percy said absently, mouth drawn in a contemplative frown. The apartment on Willowby was the best option, in all honesty; it was a ten minute walk from the Ministry, was the smallest of the three locations and was on the first floor of the building. The other two were also alright, but the one on Churchwell was pricier and further away, and the one on Agathe would put him up with a muggle roommate. Percy piled them in order; Willowby, Agathe, and then Churchwell, and handed them back to Tanner, who smiled again and put them all into his briefcase.
"I should have an answer for you within a few days, so just relax until then. Do you have a personal phone?" Percy shook his head and Tanner shrugged. "I will call here then, when would be the best day?"
Tanner left around ten minutes later, happily agreeing to call in three days at the earliest. Once he had gone and Penelope had begun making a few sandwiches for their lunch, Percy resumed his place at the kitchen table and sighed.
"He sure was dreamy-"
When Tanner phoned the Clearwater apartment on Saturday, the only one who was home was Penelope, since Percy's job and hers had different hours. She copied down everything Tanner told her with extra care, hoping that Percy wouldn't react too badly, and then settled down with a cup of tea to wait for her temporary roommate to come back.
An hour later Percy returned, dark shadows under his slightly puffy eyes and that look on his face that Penelope took to mean that he didn't want her to ask about it. She did worry though, whether this side of Percy was caused by the sudden trouble with his family or the stress of his new job, but she was trying to respect his privacy as much as he was with her. His face did brighten when he saw the soup waiting for him on the stove though, so Penelope took the gesture as a success. When they finally got to talking about Tanner's call, Percy surprised her by taking the change of plans with no small amount of grace.
"I knew something like this might happen, so I'm not disappointed." He explained easily. "Besides, my second pick is just as good – I'll just have to work a bit to keep my roommate in the dark."
Tanner, right after talking to Percy had put in an offer each to all three apartments, but Percy's first and third choices had sold to other people almost immediately following the bids. The second listing, the one on Agathe, had waited two days before accepting Percy's bid unconditionally, and the wizard would be able to move in within the week.
"Muggle roommates aren't so bad." Penelope reassured half her attention on one of her meeting request forms. "I had one right after Hogwarts; Denise is the reason I wanted to get into my office you know. Turns out, her younger sibling was accepted to Hogwarts after I moved in with her, and after I helped her to transition she was really accepting of it all. I wish she hadn't had to move to Holland."
"I hope we get along." Percy mumbled, stirring his soup absentmindedly. "I hope he's not nosy."
"Just put up a few notice-me-not's on things that'll be harder to explain. Oh yeah-" Penelope paused in her reading to rummage in her bottomless purse for something. "I got you these so you can transfigure them into luggage. You can't just shrink everything like you did to get here." She handed Percy four bricks of wood, each about the length of his forearm and specifically sold for easy luggage transfiguration. Percy, against his will, felt a heavy lump forming in his throat; he wondered why on Earth he hadn't tried to make it work with this amazing woman.
"...Thank you." He whispered.
"After you get settled in, you had better take me for a whole round of drinks." Penelope replied smugly, not looking up from her papers as Percy rubbed at his dry eyes.
When Percy knocked on the door to 2B Rusce Place nearly four days later, he didn't know what to expect. All he knew about the man he would be boarding with was what Tanner had told him; that his name was Saburou Hanazawa, he was a foreigner and had been in need of a roommate since his job didn't pay as much as he needed it to. Tanner had assured Percy that Saburou was friendly after he had talked with him on the phone, and Percy only could hope that he wasn't friendly in a troublesome sort of way. After a minute he heard some muffled cursing through the door, then the locks were being released and next he knew he was looking up into the face of the oddest looking muggle he had ever laid eyes on.
He was a few inches taller than Percy and twice as broad, with a long, oval shaped face and a scruffy black goatee and moustache. His hair was jet black, styled up into a sort of swept back pompadour, and he was wearing a pair of oval glasses tinted light blue. Percy only had enough time to give the man a cursory once-over – he was dressed in grey sweat pants and a white v-neck t-shirt – before the muggle was clapping him on the shoulder and smiling down at him. Percy was going to have a hard time getting used to being the short one, he was sure of it.
"Hey, you the new roommate? Sorry, that Tanner guy told me you'd be here bit later than this, so I wasn't expecting you..." Percy regained his balance and adjusted his glasses hurriedly, a bit put off but determined to at least make a good impression.
"Uh- Percy Weasley, nice to meet you." He held out his hand and the other shook it heartily.
"Hanaza- oh, wait- Saburou Hanazawa, but you can call me Zetton, everyone does. Come on in... need help with those?" As soon as he had set them down, the feather weight charms on Percy's luggage had dispelled, so now he was struggling to lift all four. Zetton leaned over and took two without waiting for Percy's answer - took the two heaviest in fact, without even straining - and plopped them just inside the door, then stepped aside so Percy could enter.
"Thank you." Percy said shortly, moving swiftly so the other man could close the door again. Zetton walked past him and further into the apartment while Percy removed his shoes, and once Percy was upright again he gestured in the direction of the kitchen.
"Want to put off moving in? I was just starting to make some food." Percy hesitated but ultimately nodded, and followed the muggle into the small kitchen-dining room. It was painted dark brown with faded yellow floor tiles and wooden cupboards, with a fridge in the corner by the stove and a beat up table in the middle of the room surrounded by four chairs. Percy sat down tensely and watched Zetton as he resumed his place at the section of the counter that jutted out into the room, facing so that he could chop and still look up at the table occasionally. "So, why don't we play twenty questions to get this awkward feeling out, huh?"
Percy had no clue how to play twenty questions, but he could at least go along with what he assumed was the premise. "You go first, I'm moving into your space after all."
"Alright." Zetton was silent as he diced an onion sloppily and thought about what to ask. "Where did you live before this?"
"Ottery St. Catchpole, with my family." Percy paused for some time, waiting, but when Zetton looked at him expectantly he realized that now he was supposed to ask something. "Er – What do you do for a living?"
"I'm a Teaching Assistant, on a work visa. Best way to learn how to teach English is in English country, yeah?" Zetton said cheerfully, sweeping everything he had already chopped into a large wok along with the onion. "Not a best paying job I'm afraid, not like it is back in Japan at least, hence why I needed a roommate. Appreciate it, by the way. Okay... how old are you?"
"Nineteen, next month." Zetton whistled lowly, making Percy bristle slightly. "How old are you then?"
"Twenty. What is it you do, exactly?" Percy was glad that he had thought of a cover story well in advance, because if this was how he and the muggle were going to interact then he wanted to keep it short and simple.
"I keep files organized and look over reports at an office building a few streets over. Why are you called Zetton?" The man let out a surprised bark of laughter at that question, momentarily stilling from his stirring of the food in the wok.
"Now that's funny story." Zetton leaned on the counter for a moment, waiting for whatever was in the wok to cook a little longer. "See, there's this show back in Japan, and when I was in middle school the PhysEd teacher was nicknamed 'Ultraman' 'cause he had such a stick up his ass and he was always talking about himself, like the main character I guess. Anyways, I was minding own business when he starts yelling about how I was 'hanging out downtown last night' and bunch of shit like that, I dunno what he was on." Zetton gave the wok a shake and started hovering around the other side of the counter as he spoke. "Well, he pissed me off so bad that, next thing I knew, I'd head-butted him right in the face! Ultraman was flat unconscious, bleeding from his nose, and the entire class cheered. One of the best moments of my life, I'll tell you. After a while, people started calling me Zetton, after another character from the show that defeated Ultraman. Whatcha think of that?"
"That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard in my life." Percy said immediately, half horrified and half shocked at the other man's... audacity, he supposed. Zetton, seemingly unaffected by his disbelief, went on to his question.
"Why did you move away from home?" Percy froze mid-disapproval and frowned deeply; he hadn't expected to have to talk about it, and he wasn't about to.
"My parents... my family and I don't see things the same way." Zetton nodded once before he placed two plates on the table, and Percy took this to mean that he understood enough. "What... is this?"
"That's omelette rice, just about the only thing I can cook. Hope you like it, all you'll get from me." Zetton answered nonchalantly, digging into the food in lieu of asking another question. About ten minutes passed in silence, with Percy rather liking the taste of the new food, before Zetton finished, stretched and stood up to put his dish in the sink. Percy finished soon after and did the same, and then he glanced over to the doorway to find Zetton waiting for him.
"That there's the bathroom, that's my room." Zetton told him candidly, stomping down the hallway in front of Percy, with two of Percy's bags already in hand. "This here is you. Do whatever you want with it; if you don't come into mine then I won't go into yours." Zetton opened the door, put the luggage against the nearest wall and then stepped out as quickly as he had gone in. "Oh yeah, I'll be gone by seven tomorrow, so grab whatever you want from fridge. We can discuss money matters later... what's your schedule tomorrow?"
Percy was reeling slightly; this Zetton sure could talk, and though his English was pretty good, his accent made him a bit difficult to follow when he spoke rapidly like this. "Er – I'll be out until eight or abouts, I promised a friend I'd take them out as thanks for something."
"Then we'll talk after that. If you need anything, don't hesitate to wake me up, so long you're prepared for the possibility of a punch to the face." Zetton said this all very cheerfully, and Percy nodded, wishing him a good night and not closing the door until he heard the other man stomp off. He looked around the room; there was a window on the far wall, a bed in the corner, a desk with a chair opposite that, and a dresser in the last corner. Percy bypassed unpacking and went straight to the window to let Hermes inside –he was feeling terribly worn out, and when he looked at his watch he realized that it hadn't even been an hour. If he was going to be truthful with himself, he didn't mind the muggle much; he was loud, cheerful, apparently attacked people who made him mad or disturbed him and could cook something worth eating. But Percy glanced back at the two suitcases Zetton had lifted with no trouble at all, remembered the casual talk of teenaged violence and bright declaration of the possibility of future violence, and Percy shuddered minutely.
What have I gotten myself into...
Chapter one, DONE. If you thought that my Twilight x Worst crossover was weird, don't even ask how I came up with this one. I literally (and I am using the term correctly) have no recollection of how it happened.
Also this one will most certainly not update frequently. It took me SO LONG to write this first chapter and I'm stuck on the next one awfully.