Molly Weasley’s arms were folded sternly, an amused frown creeping across her face. She watched from the shadowed doorway as a small boy pattered across the kitchen, pushing a chair along in front of him. He slid the chair next to the counter and climbed on top of the chipped wooden surface. He carefully, slowly opened the cabinet so that it would not creak, selecting the blue cup with a yellow faded dragon on the front. He then wriggled back onto the floor, twisting on the tap to fill his cup with water.
“Percy,” Molly replied in a low, warning tone.
The boy jumped, startled, and sloshed some of the water down the front of his pajamas. “Mum!” he squeaked, nervously rolling back onto the balls of his feet. “I was just getting something to drink…”
Molly inclined her head pointedly at a clock above the stove. “It’s midnight, Percy. You’ve been sneaking out here regularly for the past three hours to get drinks.”
“I’ve been thirsty,” he insisted feebly.
Molly’s arms crossed even tighter, and the corners of her mouth tugged down. None of the Weasley children could resist the pressure of Molly’s burning stares, and it was only a matter of seconds before Percy surrendered.
“Bad dreams,” he muttered, tracing his toe into designs along the linoleum floor and hanging his head shamefully.
“You’ve been listening to the goblin stories your father tells Bill, haven’t you?” she guessed knowledgably.
Percy shrugged his small shoulders. “A little…. I really like listening to stories. But then when I close my eyes, the goblins are scary again.” He scratched the back of his neck, still not meeting his mother’s gaze. “I think there might be one hiding in my wardrobe. I hear it rattling around all the time.”
“Nonsense,” Molly chided. “Why, it’s probably just a boggart!” But then her features softened, and she knelt to eye-level with her son. “If you wanted to hear stories at bedtime, all’s you had to do was ask. I’d rather you heard nice ones instead of the tales Bill hears.” Her eyes narrowed. “Not that he should be listening to those types of stories, either.” She took Percy’s hand and led him up the stairs, quietly so that they would not wake any of the other children.
“A story just for me?” Percy whispered. “I don’t have to share it with Charlie or the twins or Ron?”
Molly smiled down on him, her brown eyes shining with pride and adoration. “No, you don’t have to share. You can keep it all to yourself if you want to.”
They entered Percy’s dim bedroom, which was still crammed with boxes since they’d relocated him upstairs. Percy had cheerfully occupied the smallest bedroom across the hall from his parents until he’d had to give it up when Ginny was born. They’d explained to him several times that even though he wasn’t quite ready to move so far from his mum and dad, baby Ginny needed to be close to them because she would cry a lot at night. Percy had scowled and kicked a lot of things, especially after the baby was born and ended up surprising everyone by being exceptionally good-natured. She hardly ever cried at all.
Molly reached out with one hand and fingered a small stuffed dog. It had been Charlie’s when he was little, but he’d generously donated it to his little brother after both eyes fell off and it got all stained from frequent nights in the mud-soaked back garden. “Why haven’t you unpacked all of your things, Percy?” she asked gently.
The little boy ducked his head, quickly shuffling into bed and pulling the covers up to his neck. His mother smiled slightly; she knew he’d been hoping they’d change their minds and let him move back into the littlest bedroom to be close to her and Arthur again.
“You like these goblin stories?” Molly inquired. Percy nodded, still slightly ashamed, and Molly pursed her lips thoughtfully. She pointed at the wardrobe. “And you believe you have one living in there?”
Percy nodded again, the freckles popping out on his pale skin. His complexion always got pasty when he wasn’t getting enough sleep, and Molly was quite aware of this. The goblin was already in his brain – there was no getting it out. But if she could alter his perception of goblins just a little…
“Alright,” she began. “I’m going to tell you a secret. And you can’t tell Bill, or Charlie, or Ron, or Fred, or George.”
“Or Ginny?” he piped up.
“Especially not Ginny. Because this story is yours and yours alone. Now, as it so happens, you are correct about the goblin. There is one living in this room, right at this exact second. It’s an extraordinary secret that I wouldn’t trust to anyone else but you.”
Percy gasped. “A real goblin! I knew it!”
Molly nodded sagely. “Yes. Her name is Twinkle, and she’s an orphan. Many years ago, just one month before Bill was born, I awoke one night to the sound of crying coming from outside. I was sleeping downstairs because my back was very sore in those days and it was difficult to walk up and down stairs. Daddy moved the bed into the sitting room and I had the whole thing to myself – he slept on the couch.” Molly smiled fondly and she brushed Percy’s ginger hair off of his forehead with her fingers.
“Was this before Charlie was born, too?” Percy questioned.
“Yes, dear. Charlie didn’t come until later – after Bill. At the time of this story, we had no children except baby Bill in my tummy.”
Percy’s eyebrows knit together, head tilting to one side. “How did Bill get into your tummy?”
“That’s a story for another night,” she pressed on. “Far into the future. With your father, because I’m not telling it. Anyway, I heard the crying from outside and went to the door. It was storming out, and raining very hard. There was such loud, ferocious winds that it’s a miracle I could hear the crying at all. And when I opened the door and investigated the bushes, I found a very tiny goblin cowering there.”
“Oh, Mum!” Percy breathed, his eyes wide. “You must have been so frightened!”
“I was,” she told him, “but not because the poor thing was scary. Indeed, I was frightened for the goblin. She was all alone in the rain, and quite terrified. She and her parents had been travelling from a faraway land and gotten separated in the rain when the daddy goblin went to go look for shelter and the mummy goblin rolled down a hillside somewhere.”
“Did you ever find the mummy and daddy goblin?” Percy interrupted.
Molly shifted awkwardly. “Er – no. But I picked up the little goblin and brought her inside. We dried her off with a warm, fluffy bath towel and I asked what her name was. And she said, ‘Pinky’ –”
“I thought you said it was ‘Twinkle’,” Percy said.
“That’s right,” Molly continued, trying not to break her stride. “Twinkle, it was. And she was quite upset, with her parents being lost and not knowing where she was and all. She’d tottered up the hill to our house because she’d seen it when a jet of lightning illuminated the sky, making it –”
“What does ‘luminimated’ mean?” Percy asked curiously, intent on scraping up every single detail.
Molly waved her hand. “It’s twelve-fifteen; don’t be getting me off track. Anyway, Twinkle saw the Burrow and decided to camp out in our bushes. But she’d started sobbing because she’s very afraid of storms, you see. So Daddy set up a little cot in this bedroom right here, and it became Twinkle’s room.” Percy leaned forward eagerly, lapping up the story.
“Twinkle was quite happy with her new situation, although she rarely ventured from this bedroom. That’s the way with goblins, you know – they get rather attached to one environment and don’t like to leave it.”
“And that’s why I’ve never seen her before?” Percy wanted to know.
“Yes, that’s why. As it turned out, little Twinkle is petrified of children. So when Bill came home and she heard him wailing one night, she hid underneath her cot and trembled with fear. I eventually coaxed her out with some tea and sandwiches, and told her everything was alright and that nothing was going to hurt her. But then Bill wet his nappy and started howling again, and Twinkle dashed into the wardrobe, shaking madly.”
“She was afraid of a baby?” Percy asked incredulously, laughing. “That’s silly! A goblin afraid of a baby!”
“Let’s not be so quick to judge,” Molly advised delicately. “All of us have fears that don’t always make sense. And remember that Twinkle was very young, too. But she never seemed to grow out of this fear. When Charlie was born, she stayed locked in the wardrobe for good. When you were born, my dear, she made a little nest in all the old clothes in the wardrobe. By the time little George and Fred came round, Twinkle had somehow made herself invisible. That’s what goblin magic and a fit of hysterics can do to you.”
“But if she’s invisible, then why doesn’t she come out now?” Percy inquired, his mind buzzing with questions. “And how is it possible to become invisible?”
“Goblin magic, darling. It’s very powerful. And Twinkle didn’t come out because she still doesn’t –” Molly eyed the wardrobe and bent her head close to Percy’s. In a whisper, she said, “Twinkle doesn’t know she’s invisible, you see. Invisible people never seem to know when they’re invisible. And since she’s so easily frightened, I don’t like to disturb her.”
“Oh,” Percy whispered solemnly, as though he understood all of this perfectly.
“Yes.” Molly straightened up, looking wise and serious. “So when Ginny came, I knew Twinkle was going to get scared again. I thought Ginny would cry lots and lots, and it was certain to terrify poor little Twinkle out of her wits. So I looked at all of my children and wondered which one was the strongest. It was time to give Twinkle a protector, you see. I thought Bill might be too old to look after her. He was busy with other things, and didn’t spend much time in the room with Charlie. And Charlie’s gotten used to sharing a room with his older brother, and probably wouldn’t be up to moving down here.
“George and Fred were definitely too rambunctious for such an important job. Their leaping from bed to bed and singing out the window would be even worse than Ginny’s crying. Ron’s quite small…he still cries every now and again, too. But you, my love…” Molly kissed Percy’s forehead. “You were just perfect for the arrangement. A valiant knight –”
“Brave and courageous. But not only that; you are also kind and soft-hearted. I knew that if you came to stay in this bedroom, Twinkle would feel much safer. She’s still too timid to come out of her wardrobe, but she enjoys listening to you. You’re not loud or frightening, and she’s not so lonely anymore. And you’re never really alone, either – you’ve got an invisible little friend right here with you. And even though it’s unlikely you’ll ever meet her, baby Twinkle can still be a friend to you.”
“But how is Twinkle still a baby?” Percy interrupted yet again. His nose was scrunched up, eyes quizzical. “If she was a baby when Bill was born, then shouldn’t she be older?”
“There was…a spell,” Molly added quickly. “She was enchanted when she was born, by a great and mighty sorcerer.”
Molly raised her eyebrows in surprise. Percy, it seemed, listened to much more than he let on. “Yes, Dumbledore. It was a mistake, though – he meant to enchant his pet cat. But Twinkle was there and it got all mixed up, and there you have it. Twinkle will be a baby for the rest of her life. A harmless, frightened little baby.”
Percy looked forlorn. “Poor thing…”
“And that’s the story of Twinkle the goblin,” Molly concluded at last, her eyes stinging and tired. “It’s late, and time for big boys like you and little goblins like Twinkle to be fast asleep.” She kissed Percy’s cheek. “Night, Perce.”
“Night, Mum.” He slithered comfortably onto his back, studying the ceiling with a scholarly air. Molly and Arthur often privately joked that Percy was like a little scholar, with all of his questions and deep pondering. Always a bit more cautious about everything than normal children his age, and so very thoughtful; she knew he would be taking this secret to the grave.
Molly closed the door and sighed, looking forward to snuggling into her own bed and dozing off for the night. Silently, she made her way down to the first landing and poked her head into Ginny’s nursery. Peacefully asleep. She smiled in relief and headed into the room she shared with Arthur, flopping into bed.
Not ten minutes later, she heard the telltale shuffling of feet moving down the stairway above her. “Not again,” she groaned.
“Mppgghhhh,” Arthur replied, a great lump by her side in the darkness. She reached over and slid off his glasses, which he was always forgetting to do lately before bed, and gingerly placed them on the bedside table.
“Alright,” she muttered, sliding away from the warm, cozy confines of her duvet. “That’s it.” And she marched purposefully down through the sitting room, heading into the kitchen where a small boy was, once again, standing hunched at the counter.
Just as she was about to open her mouth, however, Molly noticed that Percy was not refilling yet another glass of water. He was slicing into the chocolate cake. He cradled the plate to his chest, tucking a cup of milk under his chin, and sauntered past the shadowed corner where his mother hid. She watched him mount the stairs and followed suit, tiptoeing up one step at a time. When she got to Percy’s bedroom, Molly pressed her eye to the crack between the door and the jamb, biting her lip to keep from laughing. There was Percy, sliding the cake and milk onto the floor of the wardrobe. He whispered something she could not hear and closed the door halfway – not quite shutting it.
And to this day, although he does not know why, Percy still leaves the door to his wardrobe open every night.
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