Author's Notes: An idea that's been in my head for a while, finally done in honor of the Writer's Month prompt "Meet Cute." I'll likely add some more little one-shots at some point, but I can't promise anything soon. Enjoy!
Percy was trying to keep himself busy.
His comment to Pius Thicknesse hadn't just been a quip; he had left his letter of resignation on the Minister's desk before running off to the Battle of Hogwarts. No quips in that; even his denunciations of the Ministry's then-current policies had been written quite formally. It probably said something about Percy that he had taken the trouble, but that was neither here nor there.
The point was, despite Kingsley Shacklebolt's offer for his job back, Percy was on a sabbatical. He was sure that he would eventually rejoin the Ministry now that it was no longer evil ("comparably. It's still run by politicians," Ron had drawled), but until then he was taking time off to clear his head. He didn't like where his pride and ambition had taken him, and his time working for the Death Eater puppet state had been soul-crushingly miserable, so he was stepping back to get some perspective. "Find himself," Ginny has said, using a phrase possibly adopted from the Lovegood girl.
The problem was that Percy was bored. He needed to do something. Percy was not used to idleness, and he had quickly realized that it did not suit him.
So he was helping his friends and relations with their various issues. He and Ron had worked out some of the red tape needed to get George's joke shop reopened, he had helped Hermione locate her missing parents, and now he was helping his father with his new job. He had just been appointed as the official liaison between Minister Shacklebolt and the Muggle Prime Minister of Britain. Obviously it was a very important position, and he wanted to learn a bit more about the Muggle government before he started.
Percy had volunteered to pick up some books for him from the Muggle library. His father wanted to go himself, but—well. His father wasn't the worst wizard when it came to fitting in with Muggles, but Percy felt that he was better suited for the job. His father would likely have gotten distracted and picked up ten books about airplanes or rubber duckies or something. So Percy dressed in his best Muggle clothes (which was a sweater-vest and khakis) and went to the library closest to his flat.
He had experience in the Muggle library. Sort of. He had been there once with his old girlfriend Penelope, though only briefly as she grabbed a book from the shelves. One thing he had not expected was the lack of a card catalog; apparently the whole thing was done with computers now.
Percy had read about computers in Muggle Studies, though he had never used one before. It couldn't be that hard, though. As he watched, a girl of about twelve sat down, quickly typed something in and then ran off to get her book. If a child could it, he obviously could.
Five minutes later he was making a sound between a growl and a scream, nearly pulling out clumps of his hair with one hand as the other tried desperately to type a simple phrase on this blasted device.
"Er...can I help you, sir?"
He spun around, face set in a fierce snarl and eyes wild behind his glasses. It was a woman—one of the librarians, actually—giving him a look that was half sympathetic and half like she thought like she might need to call the police on him. He quickly took a deep breath and tried to calm himself.
"Yes, I'm—having some slight trouble with this...infernal machine."
"Well, what seems to be the problem?"
What wasn't the problem? He had spent one minute trying to enter his request, only for the letters to not appear as he typed, and then another three to figure out how to move the little arrow to the...white box place and get it to start working. (It turns out that you used the little thing attached by a cord, not the screen or any of the buttons.) And then just typing the request—why were the letters all out of order?! He kept hitting the wrong ones, typing words like "hocernemt" instead of "government." He had seen the same strange arrangement on typewriters before, but he'd never used one, and in the wizarding world the typewriter typed by itself anyway because no sane human could be expected to spell anything when the letters were all jumbled like this!
He didn't say any of this, however. In fact he couldn't figure out quite what to say, so that eventually the woman smiled indulgently and motioned for him to get out of the chair. He did, feeling supremely awkward. She slid easily into the seat and asked "What exactly do you need?"
He cleared his throat. "Um...I'm looking for books about...government. The prime minister, specifically."
"Prime ministers in general or the bloke we've got now?"
"Both would be good, actually."
How was she typing so quickly? Her fingers danced effortlessly across the mangled mess of buttons. She made one mistake and easily corrected it. What had she even done to erase that letter?
"Is this for a school project?"
For a moment Percy spluttered—he thought he looked quite mature for his age, thank you—before reminding himself that post-secondary education was more common for Muggles than wizards. University, it was called. She probably meant that.
"No, it's for work. Not my work, actually, but—my father is going to be working for the prime minister."
"Yes, but—just a...little job. Nothing important."
It really was important, but he didn't want to say that now because then she would ask about it and he wouldn't know what to say, she'd expect his father to be some important person mentioned in Muggle newspapers and then he would look like a fool. Why had he said that in the first place? Because he was nervous and she seemed nice and now that he had time to think of it she was rather pretty, actually, but Merlin's beard was he making a fool of himself. Perhaps he should have just let his father do this himself. At least he could pull off "lovable eccentric" while Percy was here slamming his head against "idiot."
All that flashed through his mind in the approximately two seconds that it took for the list of books to come up. "Anything else?"
"No, that—should be fine, thank you."
"Alright. Well—if you need help, just ask," she said, standing up.
"Thank you, Miss...?"
"Winship, but you can call me Audrey."
"Ah. Very pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Winship." And then, after a moment of stupidity-induced silence, added "Percy Weasley."
"Very pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Weasley." Her tone was only gently mocking. She had a very nice smile. Percy could feel the back of his neck burn.
He watched her walk back to the front desk. Only when she glanced back in his direction did he snap out of it, quickly turn back to the computer and rush off to find his books.