Chapter 1: a light in the darkness
Percy had dreamed of this for his whole life and now it was finally time for his chance. His chance to pass The Process. His chance for a better life for him and his children. His chance to get to The Offshore.
He had worked towards this goal for as long as he could remember. It was the only thing that kept him going here, in the slums of the inland. The proverbial light in the darkness.
Percy wanted to get out of the slums, to prove himself worthy, to be a part of the 3%.
Neither of his parents had made it. His older brothers, Bill and Charlie, hadn’t either, but that would simply make his success more impressive.
Bill had been eliminated fairly early in the process. Based on what he said he only passed the first two tests, but no matter how long Percy begged, the oldest Weasley would never tell what those two tests had been. He refused to budge and Percy couldn’t figure out what he would need to do the same way and what he should do differently.
Charlie lasted longer than Bill had. He had almost made it to the end of the Process, but he had given up when he had been offered money to help home.
While the money had helped their family a lot, this was not something Percy would do. He was prepared for it and he knew he wouldn’t budge.
Percy had informed his family of that as well, the very second he had seen a grinning Charlie arrive at home with his parents, carrying a whole bunch of money.
Not with him. Percy was determined to pass. The Offshore was a world without injustice, after all, and who wouldn’t want to be a part of something as fascinating and honorable as that?
He would not be eliminated. He knew that he had the merit he needed to do that. He knew he was worthy of The Offshore. He was one of the 3%.
Consequently, Percy was full of confidence when he woke up on the day when his Process would finally take place.
His mother hugged him as soon as she spotted him. “I believe in you, Percy. You’re so smart. I know that you can do this.”
“Don’t worry if you are eliminated,” his father said, knocking him on the shoulder. “Don’t get me wrong, Percy, I do not think that will be the case at all. I just need you to know that if there is one test that you cannot handle, no one will think any less of you.”
His father was wrong.
He would most certainly think less of himself. That was something he point blank refused to let happen.
The twins cheered on him when he came to say goodbye— forever , as did Ron.
Ginny gave him a stone she had found.
“It’s amber,” she stated with total conviction. “It gives luck, clears the mind, and eliminates fears. I thought you could need something like this.”
Percy was not one to believe in such hogwash, but he appreciated the gesture nevertheless. The stone looked authentic, it must’ve taken his little sister a lot of time, effort, and quite possibly money to get a hold of this.
His older brothers didn’t seem like they wanted to let go of him. Charlie in particular.
“Listen, Percy,” he paused, clearly trying to think of a good way to phrase whatever it was that he wanted to say. “The Process is nothing to be taken lightly. You’re going to see...things there. You’re not weak if you’re eliminated.”
Percy looked down into his older brother’s eyes. “I won’t be eliminated. I am going to live Offshore in a few days. And now, let me leave.”
Chapter 2: a walk like no other
I told you it was likely that you had to wait, didn't I?
But hey, I'm trying to get this done this month. Wish me luck!
“Good morning, Percival. The gates of the Selection Process are open. The estimated time of your walk is one hour and two minutes.”
A mechanical voice—one of the few pieces of technology Percy’s family owned, hell, anyone owned—had announced that this morning, before Percy had given his final goodbyes to his family.
Of course Percy had known that doing something monotonous, like walking, would slow time to a mere crawl. He was also well aware that the excitement he felt would make the time flash before his eyes.
Still, he hadn’t expected the combination to be quite as extreme. Walking to the clean, modern building—the way it must look like over at the Offshore—seemed to last so very much longer than the announced time—one hour, two minutes—and yet, it felt like barely a moment passed between the moment he stepped out of his family’s hut and the moment he arrived at the centre.
Oliver Wood—probably one of the two people Percy can call his friend in the slums—is already waiting before his family’s hut by the time Percy was ready to leave.
The man greeted Percy loudly, hugged him as an additional greeting and began to talk loudly about what may lie in front of them.
“I personally hope that they’ll be testing our physical strength, our speed, agility, and stamina just as much as our minds.” Oliver almost giggled from excitement.
“Why should they?” Percy questioned incredulously. “They will be able to fix anything on the Offshore, if there is even a need for something like physical activity there.”
“Of course there will be a need for that! Even they need builders and such. Plus, I hear that sports are a very big deal out there.”
Percy raised an eyebrow. “Running and such without an actual reason to? Please.”
“Just because you don’t enjoy it doesn’t mean no one does!” Oliver argued. “Also, the Offshore is supposed to collect the best three percent of the population each year. You can’t tell me that you seriously think that all of the best people are the same. Even I know that a society needs people with different strengths to function.”
Percy pinched the bridge of his nose. “Yes, but-”
“Fighting again, boys?” Penelope Clearwater, the third member of their group appeared behind them, popping some bubble gum that she had traded a set of clean clothes for, and placing an arm onto each of their shoulders. “Don’t. Not today. Today’s the big day!”
“You won’t last a day!” a haggard old woman proclaimed from the side of the street, but Percy dismissed her instantly. What did she know?
“Today’s the day of our Process,” Penny continued, throwing her hands into the air, “the beginning of our new lives!”
“So young and naive.” A man holding a small child shook his head as he watched the river of twenty-year-olds pass him.
“Why do people have to be so pessimistic?” Percy wondered aloud. “Just because they weren’t good enough doesn’t mean we will be as well.”
“Right you are,” Oliver agreed.
Then he frowned as he spotted something.
“The slums look bad enough, why must these stupid people from the Cause defay it with their propaganda as well?”
“I agree.” Penelope nodded. “It’s not like a graffiti—especially a bad one like that—will persuade anyone.”
Percy shook his head. “They’re only saying rubbish anyway. It’s a wonder they get new members.”
That is the moment when the stairs appeared in front of them. It had to be at least seven sets of them, if not more.
They all looked at each other for a moment. Only these stairs stood between them and the Process, and only the Process between them and the Offshore.
“Come on then,” Percy ordered. “These stairs aren’t going to climb themselves.”