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Dear Ron

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Percy walked into his small, rather dingy flat whistling. It wasn't that work today had gone so terribly well or been so terribly exciting, but the news he'd had, and from the Minister himself, had been the best family news he'd had in a very long time. As excited as when he had just been made prefect, he sat down to write Ron to congratulate him. The letter could serve a second purpose; Percy could give Ron all the warnings and advice he'd been unable to do during the summer. By sending the owl in the evening, rather than for the morning post, Ron could read it in privacy and be able to make his choices without pressure from the influences still surrounding him.

Percy had always worried about Ron. Just younger than the twins, the youngest of the six boys, older only than Ginny, he'd never quite seemed to fit. Percy understood that—he'd never quite fit within their family himself. Too young to be welcomed by Bill and Charlie, too serious to be welcomed by the twins, too old to be comfortable with Ron and Ginny, he'd always felt left out of his siblings' activities. He'd found his niche by working hard to make his parents proud of him, and they'd always seemed to be. Until… Percy shook his head; this wasn't the time to think of that.

Congratulations first, and the knowledge that one of Ron's professors thought enough of his achievement to mention it to the Minister of Magic! That was the reason for this letter, after all; Ron deserved the congratulations. Especially when he'd obviously risen above the twins and their illegal activities. Percy refused to think of the Christmas his fifth year, in which Fred and George had insisted that he was family and families spent Christmas together. Their protests had sounded good, but Percy knew that had just been a way to denigrate his prefect status; he was certain of that.

Now came perhaps the most difficult part of the letter. Ron had been friends with Harry Potter since that first train ride first year, and Percy couldn't blame Ron for doing so. That Harry had been wide-eyed, well behaved and in a state of awed wonder at everything in the Wizarding world. He'd nearly clung to Ron to have someone to explain all the strangeness around him. Percy thought a moment. That had been the first indication that Ron was prefect material—he'd patiently answered all of Potter's questions. And it was a friendship that seemed to be a politically influential one for the future as well; everyone in their world knew of Harry Potter and believed him to be a true hero.

Unfortunately, that early fame appeared to have given Potter the idea that he could do whatever he wanted, regardless of rules or consequences. He was constantly found out of bounds, and no number of points taken seemed to stop him. He was lucky, most of the time, and was frequently rewarded for his stunts. The evidence was building as to his true nature: everyone knew Parselmouths are evil, and it was obvious he'd managed—somehow—to put his own name into the Goblet of Fire, and then there was Cedric Diggory's death… That was the final piece of evidence: no matter what had happened when he was a baby, Potter was Dark.

And, quite simply, being around Potter was dangerous! Ron had had his arm broken by a maniacal chessboard; his leg broken by a lunatic tree; he'd nearly had his memory erased by a rogue memory charm and then almost been crushed by a cave-in under the school. And last year? Percy shuddered, still able to feel how frightened he'd been waiting to see his brother safe and sound on the shore of the lake. Potter had been trying for glory that time as well; waiting until all the "hostages" had been rescued and even rescuing that French … girl's little sister instead of getting Ron to shore as quickly as possible. Ron could have drowned!

And Ginny! Fortunately, she seemed to have given up her crush on Potter, but that crush had almost deadly consequences in her first year. Percy couldn't believe that Lucius Malfoy would have given that thing to Ginny except as a way to get to Potter. Everyone seemed to forget, when praising Potter for his supposed heroism, that Ginny had almost died!

It was no wonder, unfortunately, that Ron believed it a good move politically to stay close to Potter. Even if he weren't unbalanced and violent, which Percy thought he might well be, he was Dumbledore's favourite. That favouritism, in fact, might well have led him to believe that he was above the rules. Dumbledore's political influence, however, was nearing its end—something that Ron probably wasn't aware of. The Headmaster had always been a bit mad—well, that was common among the truly great wizards—but he now seemed to be downright insane. Or senile; Percy was willing to give him that much consideration.

His actions over the last several years demonstrated just how dangerous the man was becoming. Keeping something at Hogwarts that was so hazardous that truly dangerous beasts and spells had to be placed around it to keep people away? That would have been fine if it had been anywhere but at Hogwarts, a school filled with children. Then there was the monster that had roamed through the school during his entire sixth year. It had petrified good, sensible innocents; people like Hermione Granger and his own Penny. It hadn't touched the troublemakers.

Percy sighed. Unfortunately, no matter what he said or did, Ron was more likely to listen to their parents than to him. Percy loved his parents, they were basically good people, but they never seemed to notice how their choices made their children's lives harder. Dad was fascinated with Muggles and their things. There was nothing wrong with that; there wasn't even anything wrong with using that interest at work. But to pass up better opportunities, and better money, just to play with Muggle things, didn't just affect him. It affected his entire family, and not for the better.

And, now, following Dumbledore, even though he was against the Ministry, and telling Percy he'd only been given his current job in the hopes that … Percy shook his head and pushed that conversation out of his mind. One day, he hoped his parents would realise how wrong they were. When that happened, Percy would accept their apology graciously. He rather doubted the same would be true in the very unlikely event that their positions were reversed.

At least the Minister hadn't shunned him because of his family. He'd even introduced him to the woman who was determined to reform Hogwarts and make it, once more, the fine school it had been. They were good people, who had the best interests of the Wizarding world at heart.

Percy sighed, hoping he'd be able to find the words to put his little brother on the right path, hoping he'd be able to rescue one of his siblings. It was rather lonely, being shunned by his family. Inking his quill, he unrolled his parchment and began writing,

"Dear Ron,"