Percy Weasley Deserves Our Love
Percy Weasley sits with the first years at Harry’s start-of-term feast and answers all of their questions. He cheers like a maniac when Gryffindor wins the Quidditch Cup and snogs Penelope Clearwater in empty classrooms. Percy looks up to his parents, following his father to work at the Ministry and emulating his mother in taking responsibility for his siblings. Percy loves his family dearly and does everything he can to protect them, especially looking out for Ron and Ginny. Yet by the end of the story, many of us find Percy hard to forgive. Percy Weasley may have made monumental mistakes and hurt the characters we love most, but he does not deserve the hatred he gets.
At age 19, Percy is hauled in for questioning about Crouch’s insanity and all his dreams are seemingly crushed. His family has always been his biggest support system and they support him through the fiasco of his first job. But when Percy is surprisingly offered the position of Junior Assistant to the Minister instead of fired, the support system he had come to depend on throughout his life suddenly fails him.
As a young student, I understand the overwhelming fear that missing even one great opportunity means missing out on your whole future. I understand the need to break free from the limitations of family circumstances or expectations. Of course Percy is angry; he’s been given a rare second chance but his father, the person he looks up to most in the world, is implying that he didn’t earn it. In asking him to give up his job, his family is asking him to give up his whole future based on Harry’s dubious word, and Percy simply cannot allow that to happen.
As Harry himself knows, in moments of anger, it is all too easy to let your worst thoughts slip out of your mouth. Percy walks away from his family after saying vicious things to them and fully devotes himself to his job and the Ministry. This means doubling down on the Ministry’s message and further alienating himself from his family in order to impress upon Fudge that he is an exemplary employee. He puts his faith in a system he’s always trusted, but soon enough, that system fails him too.
When Voldemort returns, Percy’s pride prevents him from returning to his family at first, along with perhaps a desire to remain useful to the Ministry. But when Scrimgeour uses him as a pretense to visit the Burrow and get close to Harry, Percy realizes everything his father warned him about is true. By then, it is becoming clearer to Percy that the Ministry is a dangerous place to be during a war. By the seventh book, Percy is effectively trapped in a job where if he makes one wrong move, he and his family are sure to be imprisoned as traitors.
When Percy finally escapes the Ministry and reunites with his family, his siblings are among the first to forgive him. It is clear that his family profoundly missed him and that he is truly sorry for the pain he caused them. He happily fights alongside them only to lose his little brother soon after. Because no one else knew where Fred’s body was hidden, Percy must retrieve him from the seventh floor and bring him to the Great Hall by himself, and there’s no doubt the experience broke him beyond belief. Fans sometimes think Percy should have died instead of Fred, and for years afterward, Percy most likely thinks that too. Percy doesn’t need hatred from fans on top of the hatred he probably harbors for himself.
It takes a great deal of courage to make the wrong decision, to turn your back on your only support system at such a young age and strike out alone. It takes a great deal more to come back and face the people you hurt along the way. One of the best lessons that Harry Potter has to offer is that there is a difference between doing a terrible thing and being a terrible person. Percy, like many of the characters we’ve come to love, made the wrong choices, realized his mistakes, and risked his safety to come back to his family. For his strength, passion, and profound growth, Percy Weasley deserves our love.