The Blind Date- Chapter Seven
Warning/Disclaimers: See Chapter One.
A/N: I'd like to officially dedicate this to Meg, Molly and Lini. Because without them, I'd never have come close to finishing this. They were there to beta, cheerlead, and, when necessary, drag this fic, kicking and screaming, outta me. Thanks guys. Nothin' but love.
Oh, and sorry this part took so long. Really really really sorry. I suck. :)
The important thing, Percy decided, was to maintain normalcy. So he left the office that Tuesday at exactly 7:00. Once in his flat, he set his briefcase down just where he normally did. Percy got a glass of water. He did some work. He got another glass of water. He read a book. All in all, it was a normal evening at home. Except for the tiny little fact that he had inconveniently fallen for his closest friend.
But still normal. Very, very normal. Percy exhaled.
Oh, God. How had this happened? Why had this happened?Why? Why? Why-
Percy took a strangled breath. Everything was fine. Fine. It would be fine. Even if he had spent all of Monday in a kind of daze, to the point where he got nothing done at all (well not nothing- compromised as he was, Percy wasn't completely useless). Mabel had asked him four times today alone if he was okay. (As though he would tell the nosy little witchanything.)
Personally, Percy wasn't okay. He felt like he wanted to fly and vomit at the same time. Dreadful.
Percy wasn't planning on acting on his...feelings, or whatever you wanted to call it. In fact, he was going to file it away in the back of his mind along with all the other things he wasn't telling people (especially Mabel). "I fancy Oliver Wood" was right behind "I'm gay" and "I used to sleep with a stuffed teddy bear named Edwin".
The only thing to do now, though, was to get rid of it. Maybe if he wanted it badly enough he would never have to feel that tiny, aching jolt every time Oliver so much as looked at him again.
Of course, as Percy well knew, just wanting something seldom accomplished anything. Percy had, therefore, taken steps. He had compiled a list in his head, entitled "Reasons Not to Fancy Oliver Wood."
The problem was that the entire list had been full of irritating things like, "He has no respect for Nerian cauldrons and falls asleep during lectures on them," which ended up making Percy smile and only had the opposite intended effect.
The only useful reason he'd come up with so far was that it would prove Fred and George right. Damn them.
Percy sighed, picked up a book from the coffee table, and tried reading it again. Focus this time.
Percy's fingers twitched on the spine of the book.
No. He needed to do something or he was going to go crazy.
After cleaning his flat (twice), Percy sat back on the sofa, attempting to bask in the satisfaction of its cleanliness. Basking proved to be a little difficult, though, when certain thoughts keep sneaking up on him from behind. Thoughts like I wonder what Oliver is doing now? and I wonder what he meant when he said that before? which he tried to brush away, and the especially treacherous Would it be impolite to show up at Oliver's flat uninvited provided that once there I snog him within an inch of his life? (Percy was forced to brain that particular thought with a blunt object and sweep it under the rug next to the file cabinet with things he wasn't telling people).
Percy frowned. There was now a rug next to the file cabinet in his mental landscape.
He needed a cup of tea.
Percy went over to the stove, deep in thought. Hopefully he would be able to get himself under control before he saw Oliver again. (There had to be a point when he got used to this, right?)
There was a knock on the door.
Because if Percy saw Oliver anytime soon, he was bound to do something really embarrassing.
Which was why, of course, Oliver was standing in the doorway. "Hi-"
Percy let out a sort of yelp and slammed the door shut.
Embarrassing. Just like that.
Okay. Everything was fine. His mind, distracted as it was, had clearly hallucinated Oliver. In fact, he had probably just made an ass of himself to some little girl selling Witch Scout cookies. Right.
He should probably check to be sure. Percy peered out his door and blinked once.
Nope. Still there. "I...um-" Since when did Oliver wear nice sweaters that? Oliver had always been the annoying type of person, even back at Hogwarts, who put no effort into his appearance at all, yet managed to be bloody gorgeous anyway. And now he looked really nice-
Percy, his brain commented, you do realize that you've been standing there not saying anything? Mooning away?
"Could you hold on a second?" Percy shut the door again.
Crap, crap, crap.
Percy resisted the urge to bang his head on the door and viciously tried to wrench his mind back to order.
Eventually, after several deep breaths, he settled for an orderly facial expression.
Percy opened the door. "Hello. Again. Sorry about that. My hand...slipped." Oh, that was smooth. "No. I mean, I just put the kettle on. Very delicate stage and all that."
"Ah." Oliver's mouth twitched.
Go away, go away, go away. "Come in." Go away.
He watched Oliver wander over to the kitchen; Percy remained in the safety of the other side of the room.
Oliver idly picked up the spoon Percy had gotten out for the tea. He began twirling it between his fingers in a rapid, almost nervous motion.
I wonder what else he can do with that hand? Shut up, Percy thought, watching the back of Oliver as he fiddled around the kitchen for a few moments. Percy was completely unprepared when Oliver seemed to remember himself and whipped around.
"Right. So. Do you want to get a bite to eat, maybe? I know this little Indian place on Wyndham Ave that's got great butter chicken and I'm starving." There was something about the way Oliver couldn't quite me his eyes and the tiny little shrug of his that made Percy take a step away and blurt,
"I can't," before he even realized that he'd said anything. Oliver looked practically crestfallen. Percy felt like the worst person that had ever lived. "No. I mean, I was going to just cook something here. If you'd like to join me..." He was going to cook? Where had that come from?
"Sure." And just like that Oliver brightened and began rooting around in Percy's fridge. "What were you going to make?"
What was he going to make? "Chicken a la King," Percy answered inexplicably.
Oliver emerged from the fridge victorious, clutching a bottle of butterbeer. "You know how to make that?" Oliver asked.
Did he know to make that? "Of course." Thank goodness for that cookbook mum had given him when he'd moved out.
Oliver smiled; Percy reminded himself that this would all be okay if he kept a respectable distance. From Oliver, and that mouth of his. "Can I help?"
Tense though he was, Percy couldn't quite contain the skeptical look on his face.
"What? What is it?"
"Oliver. I was your partner in Potions for one whole year." Percy shied closer. Oliver was still approximately two meters away.
"The Shrinking Potion? You adding the dragonfly wings at the wrong time? The potion exploding all over Snape? His head- just his head- shrinking?" Percy was still a little mad about that. Enough that he almost forgot about being freaked out. For about a second.
When Oliver took a step toward him, Percy was just barely able to keep from flinching. "For your information, Percy, that potion didn't just explode," Oliver said quietly.
"No." Oliver crossed his arms. "It turned pink, made some odd noises, the cauldron fell over and then it exploded. Get it right," he admonished with a smile. "I can't believe you're still holding that against me," Oliver added.
"That was the only 'F' I ever got at school, Oliver. It sticks in my mind." Hey- that sounded normal. He could do this.
"Oh, and what was your final grade that year?" Why did Oliver keep coming closer? Why?
Percy muttered something.
"Hmm? What was that, Perce? I didn't hear that." How the hell was the "avoid Oliver and when you can't, stay at least five feet away from him" plan supposed to work when Oliver kept coming closer???
"An 'A-'," Percy said.
There was silence.
"You know what that sound was, Perce?" Oliver asked. "That was the sound of my heart weeping for you."
"Well, it was an A minus," said Percy.
"I'm impressed you didn't chuck yourself out the owlery window." Oliver cocked his head. Why did Oliver have to lean toward him when he talked, so that Percy could smell his aftershave? It was like those magnets he'd learned about in Muggle Studies. If he got too close he'd be pulled in by the electromagnetic force of Oliver's smell and that smile on that thrice damned mouth of his until there'd be nothing he could do to stop himself. Just like magnets.
Merlin. He really was losing his mind, wasn't he?
"Besides, just because I was crap at potions doesn't mean I can't cook."
"Really?" Doubtful. That was the way he'd normally sound. Right?
"Yeah." Oliver returned confidently. "I can make...pasta, and stuff. Besides, that whole Snape midget head thing was your fault, anyway," Oliver said, gesturing vaguely.
"It was not," Percy retorted automatically.
"It was. You were being an insane control freak and you wouldn't let me do anything." Percy remembered it now- Oliver had grabbed for the pile of dragonfly wings to chop them up; Percy had grabbed them back. The tug of war that followed ended up dumping them into the cauldron at exactly the wrong time. So maybe it hadn't been exactly Oliver's fault, but...
Percy opened his mouth, shut it, and finally said, "It was a complicated potion and..."
"I'm thick as a brick when it comes to anything that doesn't involve Quidditch." Oliver finished. He gave Percy a grim smile.
Percy hated his mouth. He knew Oliver was touchy about that. Percy grabbed his arm. (Okay, so apparently the "avoid Oliver and if you can't stay at least five feet away from him especially don't touch him, you idiot" plan was out the window.) "I...you aren't...I didn't mean it like that. You aren't stupid, Oliver." It was vitally important to Percy that Oliver believed him.
Oliver sighed. "I know you didn't. It's just...never mind."
Percy never knew what to say in these situations. "Well. I'm sorry I used to be such a pretentious prat." There was an opening even Percy could spot.
"Who said anything about used to be?" Oliver smiled just the tiniest fraction.
Percy, his brain asked, why is you hand still on his arm? Run away.
Percy pressed his lips together, took a mental breath and marched right past Oliver to the counter. He found the cookbook and opened it. "Here," he said. He briskly handed Oliver a wooden spoon. "What? You are going to help me, aren't you?"
"After the mixing spell is finished you can put them on the sheet and bake them. And make sure you don't-"
Percy was the type of cook who put the ingredients back in the cupboard right after he used them, making clean up easier. Oliver was the type of cook who managed to get flour on his sweater five seconds in. At least he seemed to have cheered up some.
Percy discovered that he could barely cut up a carrot properly with Oliver standing next to him.
This was terrible. He couldn't function at all.
Percy chopped the carrot in front of him into a pulp before he realized it.
Oliver was humming. Off key, Percy noted. Oliver began glopping biscuit dough on Percy's Magic Chef baking sheet. Percy couldn't keep from shooting pained glances in Oliver's direction. He almost said something, but changed his mind and went back to beating his carrots into dust.
Percy could see Oliver's smile out of the corner of his eye. "I bet this is driving you absolutely crazy, isn't it, Perce?" Oliver finally said.
"It isn't." Percy said, frowning at his mutilated carrots.
"You mean the fact that I'm not spacing them evenly apart in perfect rows doesn't make you nutters?"
"Of course it doesn't." Percy flashed Oliver a convincing smile.
"Okay. Good," Oliver said cheerfully. He went back to glopping. "See? It looks like a smiley face," he said gleefully.
There were tiny bits of dough trailing all over the baking sheet. "That's nice," Percy said.
"I think so too." Oliver's grin reached blindingly sunny proportions.
Percy put down his knife. Despite himself, Percy smiled for the first time that night. "You're quite easily amused, aren't you?
"Bugging you, Percy, is always entertaining. Besides, it takes so little effort." Oliver slung a friendly arm over Percy's shoulders.
A sharp intake of breath was Percy's only response for a second. "I just have to put the final spell on the...on the thing, so why don't you cook the biscuits? Here's the spell for it," he said, sliding his cookbook over and stepping away.
"Right then. I can do that," Oliver said. He rubbed his hands together and eyed the sheet. "Nothing to this cooking thing."
The kitchen looked like the inside of a Chicken a la King. A Chicken a la King in a blender.
So maybe there was more to this cooking thing than he'd thought.
He hadn't meant to burn his hand on the baking sheet (that thing should come with a warning label) or to jump and run into Percy right when he was in the middle of some complicated final spell thing that might have gone just the tiniest bit wrong.
Which might have caused the kitchen to explode.
Which might have covered Percy from head to toe in flour and bits of vegetables.
Oliver had avoided the onslaught, thanks to his finely honed, superior Quidditch reflexes. He was currently crouched behind Percy; his hands on Percy's shoulders, his eyes squished shut. After the dust settled, Oliver peeked to survey the wreckage.
"Oliver. What are you doing?" Percy asked. The words were quiet and almost strangled.
Oliver ducked back down and pressed his forehead to Percy's back. "Using you as a human shield?"
"I see." It sounded like acid dripping from Percy's mouth.
Oliver straightened up again, but he left his hands on Percy's tense, almost-shaking shoulders. For one second, Oliver thought that maybe Percy had grown a sense of humor and was actually laughing about it; until Percy whipped around, that is.
He wasn't laughing. He looked more murderous than amused, really. Kind of like a temperamental hippogriff with ruffled feathers. When Percy took in a breath- no doubt to start yelling- Oliver had no choice but to pull out the "You can't be mad at me- I'm cute and adorable and it wasn't my fault and besides I burned my hand. Owwie." look.
"I'm not falling for that," Percy snapped. "I...You...This really isn't fair." Percy deflated, looking down at himself.
"Nothing." Percy shook his head. "It's just...why does this always happen whenever I'm around you? Every single time! I'm either publicly embarrassed or starkers or something and you just take it so calmly! How do you do that? It's- ack!"
Percy had taken a step to the side, only to slip on puddle of biscuit goo and go crashing forward into Oliver.
"See what I mean? Every time," Percy muttered into Oliver's shoulder. He sounded so resigned and put-out that Oliver couldn't help smiling. Oliver didn't even notice when his arms slipped around Percy's waist as if they'd always belonged there; as they'd never really belonged anywhere else.
Percy made a noise and relaxed into him. Oliver swallowed. He couldn't seem to let go.
And if Percy would just stay...
Percy lifted his head up. There was a strange ache in his eyes and a speck of flour nestled in the freckles on his nose.
"Hmm," murmured Percy.
Oliver could feel his heart climbing into his throat. "What?" he asked.
Without saying a word, Percy reached into his hair and smeared Chicken a la King down the front of Oliver's sweater. Percy smiled.
Oliver chuckled sounded a little forced. He raised an eyebrow. "Do you feel better now?"
Oliver could almost hear Percy's eyes open wider. Percy felt like a mass of awkward angles for just a second before he pulled away.
"Um. I'm going to go take a shower," Percy said.
Witches and Wizards, please run, do not walk, to the nearest exit. "Right," said Oliver. Thinking about Percy in the shower was a bad idea, he told himself. Bad, bad, bad- oh hell.
One shower and a drying spell later, Percy emerged from the bathroom to find Oliver sprawled over the sofa, looking completely at home on it. Percy watched him from the doorway. Unfortunately, the shower had done nothing to clean the confusion from his head. Percy could feel his self-control chipping away every time Oliver so much as touched him. If Oliver kept it up for much longer, Percy knew, with a horrifying certainty, that he would jump the poor sod before he could stop himself. Whoopsie, I apologize Oliver, I didn't intend to snog you. It was an accident. I tripped.
It had been such a long time since anyone had held him like that.
Percy shook that thought away just as Oliver turned on the couch to face him. "I cleaned up the...kitchen," Oliver said; his face changed in a way that was difficult to determine. "Nice pajamas."
"Oh." Percy was barefoot and wearing a pair of navy blue silk pajamas. "Thanks. They were a Christmas present from myself last year. A little expensive, but..." He shrugged.
Percy toed the ground. Why was Oliver still looking at him like that?
"Oh. Right. I completely forgot to tell you." Oliver settled into the couch, a secret smile on his face.
"Well? What is it?" Percy asked.
Oliver smiled some more. "Guess."
Percy took a few careful steps closer to the couch. "I'm terrible at guessing. Why don't you just tell me?"
"Hmm." Percy put both hands on the arm of the couch, so that he was leaning over Oliver's head. "You forgot to take your shoes off before putting your feet all over my sofa?"
Oliver stuck his tongue out. "No. I didn't forget. This is just to annoy you." Oliver wiggled his feet smugly. "Quite frankly, you're lucky I put a cleaning spell on my sweater before I sat down on your precious sofa."
Percy smiled to himself. He could do this. It was easy to slip back into being friends with Oliver, even though Oliver made it so easy to pretend that maybe...
Percy put his elbows the sofa arm and leaned down until he could smell Oliver's shampoo. "Could it be that you finally agree with me that running is the sport of Satan?"
Oliver made a face, which looked especially funny upside down. "No. And don't hold your breath on that one, Perce. Here." Oliver pulled a ticket out of his pocket and handed it to Percy.
Percy turned it around. "It's the opening game of the season," he said with a smile.
"This Friday, at 8:00. It's against the Wimborne Wasps but we're sure to win. You'll come?" Oliver sat up again and twisted around. "And before you say that you have work, this is my first season off the reserves and it would mean a lot to me if you were there and if you say no I'll be forced to kidnap you and tie you to a seat and I don't think-"
"Oliver! Of course I'll go." said Percy. A warm sleepy feeling had wrapped around him like covers on a really cold winter morning. It would mean a lot to Oliver, would it?"I mean, I wouldn't want you to tie me up or anything," he said. Percy winced. "That's not-"
"Good," said Oliver; he took a breath and settled back down on the couch, amused.
"On one condition," Percy amended.
Oliver titled his head back. "What?"
"Take your bloody shoes off my sofa."
Oliver smirked and crossed one leg over the other. "Make me." So that's how it was going to be, was it?Oliver clearly didn't think Percy was going anywhere near him.
"Fine then." Percy, all-business, walked over to the front of the couch, sat down on Oliver's stomach and had his shoes off and neatly placed by the sofa before Oliver could make more than a huffed choking sound. Percy did his best not to look too smug.
"Nice," said Oliver.
Percy blinked. Why did he keep doing this? No matter how...friendly Oliver might be, there was no appropriate explanation for sitting on him. The warm fuzzy feeling evaporated instantly.
"Sorry," Percy muttered, and started to get up.
Oliver put a hand on his arm. "Percy."
Percy forced himself to look at Oliver. "What- what? What is it?" Oliver was staring at him strangely.
Oliver's voice came out so low it was hard to hear him. "You didn't think I'd let you get away with that, did you?"
It took almost all the strength Percy had to repress a shiver.
"St-stop that at once," Percy stammered.
Tickling Percy was addictive, Oliver decided. Percy was clearly trying hard to remain impassive and dignified, but he was also squirming with almost-silent laughter. It put the funniest expression on his face. Oliver smirked.
Then, just asOliver finally got through the layers of clothes to Percy's sides, Percy made a noise in the back of his throat that sounded so much like something else that Oliver's hands stilled.
That was his fatal mistake. Before he knew it, Oliver found himself trapped flat on his back on the sofa. Percy, victorious, was sitting on top of his stomach again calmly reading a book.
"Perce?" Oliver asked.
Percy made a little noise and turned a page.
"If you're going to keep sitting on me all the time, I think you should consider cutting back on the scones for breakfast."
Percy whacked him and went back to his book.
"Perce?" he asked a bit later.
"You're not going to get off me, are you?"
Percy looked up as if to consider the question. "No," he said, and started reading again. Percy's left hand settled on Oliver's chest. Oliver could feel the warmth of it all the way through his sweater.
There was something nice about just lying on Percy's couch watching him read. Percy seemed relaxed for a change.
Oliver had come to terms with the fact that he wanted Percy. He had come to terms with the fact that he really wanted Percy. That he could barely keep his hands off him.
He also knew that doing anything about it would be wrong- and what's more, damn stupid (not that that had normally stopped him in the past). The problem was that Percy unwittingly kept doing things that made it impossible to think about that (or anything else). Like right now, biting his lip when he read.
"What are you reading?" Oliver asked to distract himself.
"A book." Percy did that almost-smirk thing.
"I know that. What kind of book?" Oliver pulled his hands from behind his head and put them on his chest, right next to Percy's hand.
"It's Muggles and the Wizarding World: a Brief History," Percy replied.
"Eck." Oliver looked down. Their pinkies were almost touching.
"What? It behooves everyone to be informed about our relationship with the Muggle world. Besides, it has a bit about the Floo Network and Muggle fireplaces that I need for work. It's not as though I only read things for the Ministry," Percy added at the look Oliver gave him. "I have other books. Biographies of famous wizards and things like that."
"Can I see it?" Oliver poked Percy.
"No. Stop distracting me." Oliver could see Percy's almost-smile peaking out from behind the pages.
Percy went back to reading and biting his lip. Oliver began to feel twitchy. "I can't breathe," Oliver lied after a bit.
"Right," said Percy.
Oliver coughed. Nothing. He let out a pathetic wheeze.
Percy turned a page, not even moving his head. "Nice try."
"I had no idea you were so heartless." Oliver did his best to look like a kicked kneazle.
"I may be heartless, but you are lumpy," Percy pronounced, and he shifted. Oliver's eyes widened.
Oh crap. Oh crap oh crap oh crap.
Percy needed to stop moving. He really needed to get off him right now, because if he didn't Oliver's body would see to it that Oliver had no secrets left.
Sorry, Perce. "Heh. Lumpy? Really?" Oliver sat up abruptly.
"Hey!" Percy toppled off him and landed in an indignant heap on the carpet. He crossed his arms and turned to Oliver, glaring. "Excuse me. What was that for?"
Oliver leaned forward on his elbow. "Sorry. My legs slipped," Oliver said with what he hoped was an apologetic smile. Percy watched him.
Percy finally sighed, smoothed his hair- the first thing Percy always fixed whenever he got ruffled, regardless of whether it was messy or not- picked up his book again, and leaned back against the sofa so that his head rested against Oliver's leg. The room felt very still.
Oliver's hand found its way to Percy's head. He felt Percy sit straight up. Hmm.
Oliver's hand scraped all the way through the copper hair, from the nape of Percy's neck to Percy's forehead. After a stiff second, Percy let out something like a sigh he was trying to keep to himself. He settled back against Oliver's leg.
Soon Oliver was idly running his fingers through Percy's hair.
"Hey Perce." Oliver's voice sounded strange coming out of the silence.
"Mmm?" Percy said. His hair felt really soft.
"Do you want to go out with the team after the game on Friday?"
"If you want me to come," said Percy. He sounded hesitant.
Oliver gave Percy's head a gentle shake. "Of course I want you there, you prat. After all, Perce, you're my best friend, which means you're not allowed to let me face that lot by myself. You're duty bound to go." Oliver could feel Percy's smile though he couldn't see it.
"Well when you put it like that," Percy said, and he almost managed to sound grudging.
"Good," said Oliver, and he returned to the soothing perusal of Percy's hair.
The room slipped into silence again; Oliver was nearly asleep himself when Percy spoke.
"What?" Oliver murmured and looked down. Percy had pulled the ticket for the game out.
"I- This might possibly sound like a stupid question. Why are so obsessed with Quidditch?"
Oliver hand stilled. "You mean, why do I play Quidditch?"
"Not exactly." There was a pause. "I know it's a big part of your life, but you-"
Oliver sat up at little. "Oh. You mean, why do I never shut up about it? This from the bloke who could go on for hours about the International Floo Network." Oliver muttered fondly.
"I don't- you should have said something if I was being overly effusive," Percy put in, looking embarrassed. "It's just, it's the first real project they've ever given me and...I need it to go well, I suppose. I didn't mean to talk your ear off."
"Shut it. You're not boring, so don't try to convince me."
Percy blushed. "So Quidditch...?"
"I guess...I guess it's because Quidditch is the only thing I've ever been good at. Really good at, even though I have to work my arse off. Everything else I seem to...I don't know." Oliver raked a hand through his hair and gave an off-handed shrug.
"I know what you mean." And Percy actually did, Oliver could tell. Percy put his head back against Oliver's leg.
"That, and flying is the best damn feeling in world."
"Really?" Percy sounded...wistful, Oliver realized sadly. He probably had no idea what that was like.
"Yeah. Just about."
Percy titled his head, revealing the freckled column of his throat. When Oliver's hand fell back into Percy's hair, he couldn't resist running his thumb over that soft spot beneath Percy's jaw. Percy closed his eyes and made a soft noise. Oliver wondered what sort of noise Percy would make if he put his mouth there and sucked at it.
Right, he reminded himself. And how would you explain that? Sorry, Perce. Didn't mean to give you a hickey. It was an accident. I tripped.
What the hell was he doing? Oliver ripped his hand away and sat up a little.
Percy stirred and shook his head. "Wow it's late," Percy muttered. "Oliver?"
"What?" Oliver blinked.
"It's late," Percy said again. He stood up and faced Oliver.
He looked so-
Merlin this was frustrating. Oliver hated this. He hated having to stop himself from going after something he wanted. Sure once in a while that kind of thing backfired, but when that (ever so rarely) occurred, Oliver could deal with it. In fact, Oliver prided himself on dealing with failure in a very mature, positive fashion. (Just ask his teammates. He was the picture of sportsmanlike behavior. He was.) This, though- it was like forfeiting a game before you even hit the Quidditch pitch. You just didn't do that.
Right then, Oliver knew he what he was going to do.
"I'm going to bed now," Percy explained.
Which means I get to come, too? He almost said it aloud.
"Which means you have to go home. You do have your own flat, right?"
"Yeah," Oliver replied. It was the best comeback he had, because his hands were already itching toward Percy and it was hard to tear his gaze away from Percy's mouth.
Percy grabbed onto Oliver's hand to haul him up from the sofa.
When Oliver stood up, he was standing flush against Percy. Very close, and still holding on to his hand.
Percy's glasses weren't quite on straight. But it was the eyes behind them that did it.
This time he wasn't drunk, and there was no Fred and George to interrupt things and keep him from what he wanted. And right then, Oliver wanted nothing more than to kiss Percy until those damned glasses of his steamed up. His hand tightened around Percy's.
When he leaned forward it felt kind of like vertigo.
Only Percy was stepping away; Percy dropped his hand like it was fire. "Well...goodnight Oliver. Don't bother locking the door, okay?" Percy was nothing but a pair of tense shoulders and eyes that wouldn't meet his.
"Right," Oliver said. He was so stupid sometimes.
"I will see you on Friday, right?" Percy flashed him a panicked, earnest smile and practically bolted away.
He stood there, his hand still reaching out to where Percy had been, and the only consolation Oliver had was that voice of sick satisfaction in his head, whispering, 'You must have seen this coming. I did.'
"Right." Oliver swallowed and apparated home.
That was that.
Hey- no big deal, really. It's not like he'd never been shot down before (Oliver was forced to acknowledge that one other time back in school). He'd get over it. He'd get over it. Oliver crawled into bed and wondered how just badly he had fucked everything up.
It didn't even make sense- he'd actually kissed Percy before and nothing this horrible had happened.
It wasn't until two hours later, when the look on Percy's face wouldn't go away, when he still felt so awful that everything, from deep in his chest to the tips of his fingers, hurt in a way that made him want to curl up into a ball and never get out of bed again, that it hit Oliver.
He jolted up.
Not only had he been rejected, he'd been horribly rejected by someone he was arse over elbow in love with.
"Crap," whined Oliver, flipping over and burying his face back in his pillow. He was never getting out of bed again. Never never never.
It was 9:00 on Tuesday and Weasley Wizard Wheezes had just closed. Fred and George were in the process of closing when a silhouette appeared in the window. A stiff-shouldered silhouette that looked rather pissed off.
"We're closed," Fred called and turned around to pick up his coat.
The door slammed open with a crash.
Fred and George whirled around. A finger moved into the light, pointing menacingly toward the twins.
"You," Percy said, stepping forward.
Fred and George took a step back.
"You..." Percy said.
"Yes George, what did you do to poor Percy?" Fred asked. "He seems rather distressed."
Percy's hand clenched into a fist.
Fred and George stepped back again, putting the counter between them and their brother.
"Hello sir, and welcome to Weasley Wizard Wheezes. How can we help you?" Fred asked.
"Fizzing Whizbee?" George offered.
"You..." Percy said again. He was beginning to sound hysterical.
"Fred," George whispered, keeping his eyes fixed warily on Percy.
"What?" Fred whispered back.
"I think Percy's finally gone 'round the bend."
"I have not!" Percy exclaimed, finally recovering his vocabulary. "Wait- here." Percy reached into his bag and smacked a scroll down on the counter. "Look at that."
Fred unrolled it. "What? It's blank."
"Exactly. Do you know what that was supposed to be?" Percy crossed his arms.
"A letter confessing you undying love for Oliver?" George asked.
The look Percy shot him could have withered any number of hearty houseplants. "No. It was supposed to be a report on the potential long-term effects of restructuring the International Floo Network."
"Ah," said Fred.
"Do you know why it's blank?" Percy asked, tilting his chin up and looking down his nose at the twins.
"I'm going to take a wild guess and say it has something to do with us," George said.
"And you'd be right!" Percy snapped. "I can't get anything done, I can't focus at work, I can't sleep, and it's entirely your fault." Percy snatched the scroll back and stuffed it into his bag. "It's unacceptable! And none of this ever would have happened if you two bloody idiots hadn't set me up with Oliver!" Percy began pacing back and forth in front of the counter.
Fred and George shared a look. Of course. It made perfect sense. Now that he had finally fallen off ye old pedestal of repression, of course Percy was going to go completely bonkers.
"What are you talking about, Percy?" Fred asked with his patented 'what did I do?' expression.
Percy glared at them. "You know perfectly well what I mean," he said.
"Percy. Why don't you stop, think about what you just said, and explain it again for those of us fortunate enough not to live inside your head," Fred said.
"Oh shut up!" Percy snapped, tense and fidgeting. "This is completely ridiculous-"
"This?" Fred prompted in mock-puzzlement.
"I...How did I let this happen?" Percy sank down onto a stool in front of the counter. He ran a hand through his hair and squeezed his eyes shut. "I am completely out of my depth here, and now he thinks-" Percy broke off and slumped over. "I hate this," he muttered to the countertop.
"This being...?" Fred asked.
"I wish I drank," Percy muttered.
"Um. I wish you did too," said George. He pulled a chair up to the counter.
Percy snorted. He looked up. "Don't you understand? I...like Oliver!"
"So what's wrong?" George said slowly.
Percy leaned forward. In a desperate confidential tone he hissed, "I think he might like me back!"
"'Like you back?' Percy, what are you, twelve?" Fred rolled his eyes.
"Then what's the problem?" George looked very puzzled.
"What's the problem??" Percy was getting hysterical again.
"'He might like me back'," Fred muttered, shaking his head.
"I almost think you'd rather Oliver didn't." George was looking at him strangely.
"Of course I'd prefer it!" Percy snapped. "I was entirely prepared to wait until my- my feelings or what have you went away; I could have lived with that. Probably. But no. He has to go and try to- and like me back, shut up Fred, don't even say anything." Percy looked very disgruntled.
"Percy, you do realize that you're completely mad?" George said.
"And I wanted him to- God, I really really wanted him to, but he wasn't supposed to actually try and do it! And now he probably thinks that I hate him."
"Hmm. Lost you again, Percy," said George.
"The point is that I'm a moron," said Percy.
"Okay. Can you tell us something that's not obvious?" asked Fred.
"Sorry. Couldn't help that one."
Percy sighed, dropped his head to the counter and began picking at the surface. He said something very quietly.
"What was that?" asked George.
Percy gritted his teeth and muttered something again.
"What?" Fred asked.
"What am I supposed to do?" Percy finally snapped, red-faced.
The twins looked at each other.
"My god. I think I need to sit down." Fred stumbled over to a stool.
"Percy actually coming to us for advice." George blinked.
"I thought this day would never come." Fred wiped away a tear.
"Jeez, you must be really desperate, eh Percy?"
Percy's jaw clenched.
George's expression softened. "Fine. I'm going to tell you something, Perce." He moved around the counter and clapped a hand on Percy's shoulder. "Now this isn't going to be easy. It's not going to be pleasant. You may or may not come out alive. But unfortunately, it's the only option that I think is going to work."
Percy eyes narrowed in suspicion.
"Tell him how you feel, doofus!" George mussed Percy's hair and moved away.
"But don't use the phrase 'I like you back,'" Fred said.
"I..." Percy turned to George. George nodded grimly.
Percy fixed his hair. Percy stared at the counter again. He looked at Fred. Then back at George. And finally, without saying a word, he got up and left the shop.
When the door jangled shut, Fred's gaze flicked sideways to his brother. "You think he's actually going to do it?"
George eyed the door. "No way in hell."
The first game of the season started in an hour; Oliver felt the familiar rush of adrenaline and nerves coursing through him. He tried for the third time to clear his mind and focus on the game. He shook out his shoulders, twisted his head, and then frowned at himself locker room mirror.
He'd told himself a thousand times before that Percy didn't think of him that way. Oliver snorted. Yeah, but he hadn't actually believed it. Come on. He'd been sure in his gut that Percy was interested in him.
Unfortunately, the expression on Percy's face back in his flat had said it all- something like, "If you come any closer I'm going to chuck my book at you and run far, far away." Oliver's jaw clenched in the mirror. He'd made a complete ass of himself. Stupid. What on earth had possessed him to do that when Percy obviously didn't want him? (Besides the obvious answer, which Oliver was not not not going to think about.) Oliver's reflection cocked its head.
Why didn't Percy want him, anyway? Why?
Oliver pulled his shoulders back; he flexed. He was in good shape.
Oliver tilted his chin in the mirror. He wasn't troll-ugly or anything like that. (In fact, if Oliver was going to be brutally, brutally honest, he was rather the opposite.) And he played Quidditch. What? Was Percy blind or something?
Oliver put his hands on his hips and frowned again. What wasn't to like?
Oliver heard a snicker behind him.
He turned around to find Brad and Mark, his teammates, doubled over in hysterics, leaning against each other for support.
"You...you..." Brad trailed off into a low machinegun-like burst of laughter.
He'd been caught mugging in front of the mirror like some cheap model from an underwear ad.
"Shut it," Oliver said and walked past Brad, who was still laughing; Oliver shoved him against the wall. Muttering, he sat down on a bench and yanked on an arm pad.
He jerked on the other arm pad. This was him, not thinking about Percy. Take that. "Ha," Oliver huffed, to no one in particular. He swallowed.
He'd been so sure, too, at least for a moment...
Oliver ripped his robes from his locker, and began struggling into them, which was apparently a lot harder to do when you were rejected and pissed off.
There had to be some other reason...
He halted all of a sudden, his left arm tangled in the right hand sleeve.
He hadn't even bloody tried, had he? Percy remained immune to his charms because he hadn't even turned them on.
Of course, Oliver chuckled to himself. How stupid of him.
That was all he had to do. Because when Oliver Wood set out to seduce someone, he was irresistible.
"Ha," he said. Oliver casually shrugged on his robes. He swaggered over to the mirror again. Smiled his patented smile that he liked to call "Hey."
Just as he had thought- irresistible. What the hell had he been worried about?
Oliver grabbed his broom with a vengeance, ready to grind the Wimborne Wasps into the dirt. He nodded at his reflection in the mirror as he passed.
Percy Weasley did want him- he just didn't know it yet.
Percy stood in the corridor outside the locker room waiting for Oliver after the game, feeling about as green as he must have looked. (It turned out that unfortunately he wasn't cowardly enough to bolt and find a way to avoid Oliver for the rest of his life.) Just get it over with, he thought. Just tell him and sort this whole mess out.
Of course, Oliver was probably going to be hurt or embarrassed or something, and things were bound to be awkward at first, but hopefully both he and Oliver could handle the situation in a mature fashion.
And Percy would have said something, but then the doors to the locker room burst open. Oliver appeared, dominating the doorframe, his bag slung haphazardly over his shoulder. He had changed from his yellow and blue Puddlemere United Quidditch robes to the slightly less dramatic yellow and blue Puddlemere United jersey. Before Percy could even get the word "Hi" out Oliver bellowed, "We won!!" He laughed, grabbed Percy's shoulders and planted a brief, messy kiss on Percy's open mouth.
The stared at each other for a second before Oliver laughed, pulled away and seized Percy by wrist, dragging him down the corridor.
Percy stumbled after him, completely flummoxed.
"Um..." Percy stammered. Funny how that didn't sound at all like "Oliver, we need to talk."
"It was a good game, wasn't it, Perce?" Oliver slapped Percy's back.
Percy swallowed and tried to speak again. A squeaky whimper was the only sound that came out.
Oliver hauled Percy over to one of his teammates and struck up an animated conversation. Percy stood at his side and tried desperately to process.
So. That hadn't really gone the way Percy had expected it to.
The words "What the hell was that?" rattled furiously around in his head, but he couldn't for the life of him get them out. And before he knew it, Percy was wedged between Oliver and Ellen in the back booth of some random pub, right in the middle of the infamous Puddlemere Post-game Pub crawl.
The team had decided to cram themselves all around one table, which made things rather crowded. Most of Puddlemere, except for Ellen and Oliver, were well on their way to being smashed.
The members of Puddlemere United were acting...well, just like they usually did, namely, like a family of chimpanzees. They were currently in a rather heated debate over just whose fault it was the one of the Wasps' chasers had scored early on in the game.
"Percy?" A voice to his right made Percy jump. It was Ellen. Percy liked Ellen. She was the only one of Oliver's teammates who hadn't been loud or intimidating or tried to hit on him.
"So what did you think of the game?" she asked.
"Oh. It was interesting," he replied, forcefully ripping his mind away from all thoughts of Oliver and the way it had felt when...
They fell into small talk. Percy tried to ignore the way Oliver was pressed up next to him, but it was more difficult when somehow Ellen managed to turn the conversation toward Oliver.
"You know, I'm glad you're here. Between you and me, Oliver's been acting odd. Playing like the devil, but moping around all week like someone set his favorite broomstick on fire."
"Oh?" said Percy, feeling a shot of guilt run through him. He could admit it, at least to himself: he should have sorted the whole thing out days ago (hell, he never should have let Oliver leave that night) but every time he almost owled Oliver or even though about explaining things, Percy hit a wall of bone-deep terror that he couldn't get around.
"Yeah. But he seems better now," Ellen said blandly, glancing over to Oliver, still arguing with Brad and Lisa over something.
Percy was silent.
"So when did you guys first meet?" Ellen asked.
"Oh. Um...I think it was after the sorting ceremony," Percy replied. "We were both Gryffindors, so-"
"No it wasn't," Oliver said.
Percy and Ellen turned to look at him.
"No, it wasn't. It before that- in Diagon Alley. Flourish and Botts. I was waiting for my dad to buy my books. The line was really long so I went to the section with the comic books and Quidditch magazines. I grabbed a bunch of them and went over to read in a corner in the very back of the shop. I lost track of time- and then someone said, 'Excuse me. Is your name Oliver?' I looked up and there was this skinny kid with red hair and glasses too big for his face."
Percy scoffed. Even if things were uncomfortable between them, he wasn't about to let that remark pass. "They were not too big for my face."
Percy braced himself as Oliver's eyes slid over to meet his.
"They were too. You know, you look better without them anyway." Oliver mouth curved up in a way that did not make Percy's breath catch at all. No it did not.
"I do?" Percy's voice softened against his will.
"Mm-hmm. You can see your eyes."
"Oh," said Percy. He could feel himself smiling.
Someone began coughing loudly. It was Ellen, with a bland expression on her face and a hand pressed over her chest.
"My drink went down the wrong pipe," Ellen said. She feigned an expression of concern. "Oh, I'm so sorry. I wasn't disturbing you two, was I?"
"No. No, you weren't," Percy said. Nothing was going on, because he and Oliver hadn't sorted about any of this.
"Anyway," Oliver continued, as though completely unaware of what had just happened, "I said, 'Yeah. What?' And Percy put his hands on his hips and said something like-"
"I think your father has been looking for you. You know, you really shouldn't have wandered off like that. He's quite worried,'" Percy said. He shook his head. "I'd completely forgotten about that."
Oliver shrugged. "Percy, alas, was even a prefect at age eleven," he said sadly. He took a gulp of his pint.
"You were probably a Quidditch maniac at birth, so don't even start," Percy shot back, relieved. This, at least, was familiar territory.
"Anyway," Oliver said, "I said thanks or something and I went back to reading. Percy started harassing me again-"
"And finally I finished the article-"
"I was not harassing you, and you were ignoring me." Percy crossed his arms.
Oliver smiled. "And I stood up and- get this- Percy said, 'A Quidditch magazine? Isn't Quidditch rather a waste of time?'"
The entire table went silent.
Every single one of Oliver's teammates gaped at Percy in horror.
"Thanks a lot," Percy muttered under his breath.
"Anytime," said Oliver.
"What did you say?" Brad asked, glowering blearily over his drink.
"Ahem, well, I..." Percy swallowed.
"What did you say?" Brad asked again. He put his drink on the table with a thud.
"I was only eleven." Percy scooted closer to Oliver without realizing it.
"Was it 'Quidditch is a waste of time'?" asked Nancy.
"Um...It might have been something along those lines, yes. Anyone want anything from the bar? At all? I can go." Percy stood up.
"Anyway," said Oliver in a loud voice, tugging Percy back down, "By the time my dad found us, Percy and I were having this row in the middle of the personal growth section."
"You told me that my brain was screwed on the wrong way," said Percy, eyes narrowed.
Oliver grinned at him. "So Dad dragged me off and I didn't see Percy again until Hogwarts."
"And then you guys became friends, right?" Ellen asked.
"Well..." Oliver murmured.
"Not exactly," said Percy. He shifted. "We were in the same dormitory, but we never really-"
"We moved in different circles at school." Oliver shrugged.
"Right," said Percy. He averted his eyes to the table.
"Then how did you guys become friends?" Ellen asked. Percy could practically see the gears turning in her mind. "Oliver doesn't associate with that many non-Quidditch people."
"I do too!" protested Oliver.
"Need I remind you of Derek, your last boyfriend, who lasted two whole weeks before he was dumped because he didn't know why the 1753 Appleby Arrows were the greatest team in the history of the sport?"
"Oh yeah? Well...shut up, Ellen."
Ellen smirked, and then snapped her frightening gaze back to Percy. "So?"
"How- how did we become friends?" stammered Percy. He shot Oliver an alarmed glance. "Oh. My brothers were on the house Quidditch team with Oliver, you see," Percy said. He nodded at Oliver.
"I'm afraid I don't," Ellen replied.
Oliver focused on Percy in a way that made Percy practically squirm. "Well," said Oliver, very deliberately, "they thought that Perce and I should-"
"They- they celebrated our anniversary," Percy stammered, "And, um..."
Oliver chuckled "It was actually pretty funny. They did this thing to my bed, and Percy was-"
"Boring," Percy said. "It's a long, boring story and I'm sure you don't want to hear about all of it. Very boring." Percy trailed off with a significant cough.
"I'm sure," said Ellen.
"Don't be so embarrassed, Perce. You should go around in your boxers more often."
Percy didn't know what to say to that.
"It was too bad," Oliver sighed, his voice dropping to a timber that really made Percy squirm. "Interrupted right before I got you where I wanted to."
Or to that either.
"Heh. Boring," he said, wrenching himself straight ahead, away from the knowing, calculating look from Ellen on his right, and the far more terrifying one from Oliver on his left.
Oliver watched Percy, who was deeply, unconvincingly fascinated by whatever Brad was rambling on about, and sighed in relief. When he'd come out of the locker room before, he'd been so high on post-victory adrenaline and so happy to see Percy waiting there that he'd suddenly planted one on Percy. And despite the slight flash of "what the hell did I just do?" horror, the completely shocked expression on Percy's face had been pretty damn funny.
Anyway, things seemed back to normal now, thank Merlin. Which meant it was time. Oliver smirked.
Time to get Operation Percy Wants Me And Doesn't Know It Yet (But Not For Long) fully underway.
The set up was there- they were sitting next to each other, and most of the team too far into drunk revelry mode to notice much of anything. Step 1 of Oliver's brilliant master plan: Sit even closer to Percy.
Oliver slid over toward Percy, so their bodies were pressed together from shoulder to toe.
"So my poor mate James is completely mad for this girl. Mad," said Brad, one hand wrapped around his pint and the only pressed very seriously against the table. "And she was gorgeous, sure, but with the personality of an ice queen. Led him around by the nose for six months." Brad shook his head sadly, and knocked back the last of his beer.
"So what happened?" asked Lisa, one of the chasers.
"For some reason, against the good advice of all his mates, James decides that he's going to...propose," Brad explained with a shudder.
"Poor chap. No idea what he was getting into," said Mark sadly.
Lisa, who happened to be his girlfriend, whacked him on the shoulder. "Oi!"
"Anyway," Brad cut in, "James knows if he's going to do it, it has to be only the best for Ms. Lydia Greenleaf-Tuffington..."
Oliver shifted in his sea, so that his hip rubbed up against Percy's. Oliver almost smirked again at Percy's reaction. Was that a shiver he detected?
"...He buys a ring he can't afford and takes her to one of these four star places, you know, the kind that have a two-month waiting list?" Brad continued.
Oliver shifted again with a sigh, this time moving his arm to rest along the back of the booth.
"So, the pair of them are sitting there, poor James stuffed into a suit, and in order to get up courage, he starts ordering scotches and knocking them back. Finally, around dessert, he's ready. Shit-faced, but ready..."
Step 2: His arm dropped onto Percy's shoulder. Percy definitely started. Oliver saw Percy's head move to look at him out of the corner of his eye. Oliver played it cool, listening to Brad, ignoring the hammering of his own heartbeat and the "what the hell?" vibes radiating from Percy.
"...reaches into his pocket, pats around. The ring isn't there. James realizes that..." Brad paused for dramatic effect. "It's sitting on the kitchen counter back at his flat. He has to go back and get it..."
Step 3: Oliver right hand snaked over to rest casually on Percy's knee. Percy coughed. It definitely sounded like an 'I secretly want you, Oliver' cough. And hell, knowing Percy, the fact that he hadn't jumped up and left the pub by now was a good sign.
"...he's completely pissed at this point but he explains, stands up, waves his wand and slurs something. Guess what happened?"
Percy coughed again.
Oliver finally looked over at Percy. His mouth was a thin tense line, and he was starting to blush from the neck up. Percy was looking at Oliver with a mixture of shock and horror (and, Oliver thought, some hidden longing buried in there). "Are you okay, Perce? Have something stuck in your throat?"
Percy glared and reached down to remove Oliver's hand, but Oliver started moving it. Very. Slowly. "No I'm fine," Percy croaked.
"Splinched himself?" said Ellen.
"Did he end up in Scotland?" asked Mark.
Percy was turning steadily red now. Oliver began running his thumb up and down the side of Percy's neck.
"No. No. In fact, he was still at the table. But James looks down, and is rather startled to realize that he's standing there, completely starkers, in the middle of one of the most expensive restaurants in town." Brad let out a bark of laughter.
"You're lying, you wanker!" Nancy gaped at Brad.
"No, I'm dead serious! The ponce only apparated his clothes home!" Everyone at the table roared.
Percy shook off Oliver's hand and inched away from him. Wait- what did that mean?
"Oliver. Stop," Percy said. There was something about the tone of Percy's voice that made the blood drain from Oliver's face in a hot rush that left him feeling cold and alone even in the crowded pub.
"What?" Oliver tried to sound innocent, but the word came out quiet and confused.
"Please don't. We need to talk later." It was final, almost condescending, and it made Oliver sick to think that'd he gone and screwed up something else. So much for being able to read people.
I just never learn, do I? Oliver took his hands from Percy's shoulder and knee, and put them on the table. It sounded so quiet all of a sudden. He was an ass.
"Oh. Fine. I get it." His pint was beginning to look more and more appetizing all the time.
Oliver turned away, and, sulking, downed the rest of his pint. Fine. If he was going to fuck this up, he was going to do it good and proper.
Wait. That's not what he meant. But unless Percy wanted to have it all out in the middle of the pub (which he was not keen on at all), there was nothing to do but sit there and feel awful and watch as Oliver dramatically knocked back more beers.
Percy crossed his arms, fingers twitching. All he had to do was sit this out, go home, and then wait until a more appropriate time- when Oliver was not smashed. And then they could sort this out.
That's why you aren't saying anything. Coward.
This is a good thing, Percy told himself. Now Oliver can spend all his energy on getting drunk and none on hitting on me.
At least, that's what he'd thought. Because Percy had forgotten what a friendly drunk Oliver was, rather foolishly considering what had happened the last time he'd come face to face (and mouth to mouth) with a plastered Oliver Wood.
In what seemed like no time at all, Oliver went from angry and sulking to smashed and pretty happy indeed.
Oliver was currently flopped over the table, head propped unsteadily on his arms, giggling (almost harshly, Percy thought) at Brad and Mark, who were having a fake duel with the tiny drink umbrellas. Percy watched Oliver out of the corner of his eye.
Suddenly Oliver's head swung his way. "Hey Perce?" Oliver slurred.
"What?" Percy turned from Ellen, who he'd been talking to while pretending that everything was okay. He smiled tentatively.
"I forgive you." Oliver grinned blearily. He offered Percy a tiny blue drink umbrella.
"Thanks." Percy smiled just a little. Oliver was kind of an adorable drunk.
"Issokay, Perce," Oliver told him magnanimously. "You'll come around evenshually. Islike that Muggle guy said- hope springs...something. A really long bloody time."
And there it was, right on schedule, the foot creeping up his leg.
"Oliver," Percy groaned. He couldn't take this again.
Up and up...
Percy's shoulders stiffened. "Stop that!" he said, glancing around the pub.
"Stop what?" Oliver asked.
"You know exactly what-" Percy choked on the rest of the sentence. His hand tightened around his glass. Percy took a tight breath. Then another. He was red in the face when he finally bit out, "Oliver, stop it, I can't concentrate when you do that."
Oliver smiled in triumph and said, "Good," with the sloppy over-articulation of the truly smashed. His foot disappeared, at least.
"I will get you back for this. Later." Percy cursed the slight breathiness of his voice.
Oliver raised his eyebrows. "Promise?"
Percy scowled at him. Why couldn't Oliver wait to grope him until after they had sorted things out?? Wait- that's not what he meant exactly, but...Percy just detested not knowing where things stood between them. "That's not fair," he finally said, surprising himself.
Oliver tilted his head. "Why?"
"Because...because!" Percy hissed, looking around again to see if anyone was paying attention. "You're not supposed to be drunk, and you're definitely not supposed to be hitting on me. We need to talk about this!" He really didn't want to make a scene here.
"I can think of a better way to spend some time." Oliver leered.
"That's just what I mean," Percy said, furiously pointing at him.
"Great Godric's Ghost, WOULD YOU TWO JUST SHAG ALREADY?!?!?" bellowed Nancy.
Percy's head whipped around to find the entire table staring at them. After a moment of horrified silence, Lisa began giggling very hard into her drink. Ellen said, "Nancy!"
Nancy said, "What? Hey Oliver, if you don't want him, I'd be happy to-" At which point she was kicked very hard under the table. The other members of the table (along with plenty of strangers in the pub) were still ogling the pair of them.
Percy had never been more embarrassed in his life.
"Fine!" Oliver stood up, glaring daggers at Nancy. "We will! Come on, Percy, let's go shag," he slurred, holding out his hand to Percy.
Correction. Now he never been more embarrassed in his life. "Oliver!" Percy hissed.
"Percy, come on! You know you want to. I'm dead sexy."
Percy's faced flamed. "You're drunk, Oliver." Stop this and shut up please please please...
"So what? What? Are you afraid I'm going to snog you again?"
"That's not it-"
"You didn't like it before? I can do better. Let's practice."
Percy stood up so quickly the glasses rattled on the table. "Will you excuse us?" he said with a fake smile, pushing Oliver away from the booth as calmly as he was able.
"Are we going to go shag?" Oliver asked.
"No!" Percy yanked Oliver out of the pub, ears burning, back ramrod straight.
"But- but I'm irresistible," Oliver whined.
"Says who?" Percy muttered.
"Me." Oliver stumbled out of the pub and almost knocked Percy over. Percy grabbed him and tried to keep them both from tumbling to the ground. When he had, Percy found that Oliver's face was about an inch from his own.
Oliver was looking Percy straight in the eyes, in that way no one else did. "You really don't want me, do you?" he said plaintively.
Percy felt like he'd been punched in the stomach. Oh, Oliver was good. Damn good. Bastard. "Oliver, I- look, we are not going to have this conversation now." Percy stood up and grabbed Oliver's arm to haul him down the street.
Oliver didn't budge. His eyes were wide. "No- you do," he said quietly, with more than just the usual conviction of the plastered. A grin flitted across his face.
Great. The evening just got better and better. "Oliver-"
"You do." Oliver let out a bark of laughter. "You do, you do, you do."
"We're not talking about this now," Percy repeated. He dragged Oliver forward, staring at the sidewalk.
Oliver halted. "Why not?" Oliver now sounded like a five year old.
"Because you're so pissed you can hardly stand up," Percy snapped. "I'm taking you home." He grabbed Oliver's hand and pulled him along.
Oliver grinned. "Are we going there to shag?"
"No." Good God, Oliver had a one track mind. At least he seemed to have forgotten about-
"Because." Percy gritted his teeth and steered Oliver around a corner.
"Oliver." Percy stopped, placed both his hands on Oliver's shoulders and said, very deliberately, "Let me explain something to you. No one is going to be, er, shagging anyone tonight. I'm going to take you home. You are going to go to bed. Alone." Percy added when Oliver opened his mouth again. "We will talk about this later."
Percy searched Oliver's face for some sign that he understood. Was there even the slightest, tiniest possibility that Oliver was actually going to cooperate so Percy could go home and hex himself out of his misery?
"Shagging," Oliver giggled. "You can't even say it with out turning red."
"Oliver. I'm not even going to respond to that." He turned and resumed steering Oliver toward his flat.
"Shag, Percy. Say it with me: shaaaagging," said Oliver, in a voice that was far too loud. "Also known as sex. Making love, if you want to be girly about it. Sexual intercourse..."
Someone up there must really hate him. That was the only explanation for this.
"...Boffing. The beast with two backs. Getting your oats. Doing the Hippity Dipp...Dippty- I like that one-"
"Oliver !" For the second time that evening, Percy halted on the sidewalk to give Oliver a withering glare (somewhat diminished by the fact that he was indeed blushing).
"There's no reason to get so embarrassed," Oliver said.
Percy crossed his arms. "I'm not embarrassed." He sniffed.
Oliver slung an arm over Percy's shoulder. "It's all just a natural part of life, Perce..."
"Oliver." This was torturous.
"...you see, Perce, when two people love each other very much..."
Percy shrugged off the dangerously warm weight of Oliver's arm. "Oliver, I already had the facts of life talk ages ago." Percy could feel the flush creeping up his face.
Oliver talked louder "...and if you don't have a partner, you know, you can always-"
"Oliver!" Percy hissed.
Percy's hands clenched. "Look I didn't want to have to do this," he said importantly, reaching for his wand. "But if I don't, I think I'm going to murder you before we reach your flat."
Oliver looked worried. "Perce?"
"Sobrietus," said Percy, neatly flicking his wrist.
Oliver's eyes snapped into clarity just as his mind did.
He lurched forward with a surprised grunt. Having all the alcohol instantly removed from one's system tended to throw a person's balance.
"Careful." Percy guided him to sit down on a nearby bench.
Oliver plunked down and dropped his head to his hands. "Ow. What'd you do that for?" Oliver groaned.
There was a pause. "It was the only way I could think of to get you to shut up." Percy voice had turned hollow.
Oliver sat on the bench and didn't say anything. The events of the evening were returning painfully clear to his head.
Sure, he'd made a royal ass of himself- what else was new? - but that wasn't the important part. Oh no.
Some things sound like great ideas when you're drunk and turn out to be not-so-great in the light of day. (That time Oliver had been convinced to do a strip tease for the customers at Begley's Pub, to name one.)
But even though it had hit him while smashed, Oliver knew that it was true. He knew deep down at the very bottom of everything that he'd been right all along: Percy did want him.
Percy wanted him. He'd turned the thought over in his head. Again. And again, until it picked up speed and went spinning and crashing around in his head like a joyfully out-of-control broom.
Percy wanted him. (Of course he did. Had there ever been any doubt?)
Oliver could feel a dopey grin spreading back over his face. Mental victory dance.
"What?" Percy asked.
"Oh, nothing, Perce." Oliver leaned back on the bench and took a deep cleansing breath. "It's just- it's a beautiful night, isn't it?" he said. He couldn't get that stupid smile off his face and he didn't want to.
"I suppose," said Percy. He still sounded weird.
"I'm feeling better. Let's go." Oliver stood up. They made an odd pair walking down the street. Percy walked with awkward yet quick steps, as though he couldn't get back to Oliver's flat soon enough. Oliver, on the other hand, was practically bouncing along.
Percy wanted him. Ha!
He would have to do something about this. Soon. Very very soon. But how to go about it? Mentally Oliver stroked his chin. Oliver stole a sly sidelong glance at Percy, who seemed very serious for some reason.
An operation of this sort required finesse and strategy...
He could wait until they got back up to his flat and snog Percy.
Huh. Oliver liked that idea.
Then again, maybe he only needed to wait until they got to the steps of his building. You know, to get it over with as soon as possible. Efficiency: it was a good thing, or something like that.
Then again, maybe he only needed to wait until they got on his street.
Or to that corner right up there.
Or hell, right now. Oliver really liked that idea.
Percy voice came abruptly, just as Oliver was ready to spring into action. Oliver tripped over himself and almost ate the pavement.
He righted his steps sheepishly. "The sidewalk was crooked." Oliver said. The light from a streetlamp was doing strange things to Percy's hair. "Er...What is it?"
Percy's jaw and shoulders set with purpose. His eyes squarely met Oliver's. Fine. Fine. He was going to say this. He was sick and tired of being afraid to, anyway.
"There is something we need to address," Percy said.
"Address? Okay then," Oliver replied, smiling at something.
"About what you said before..."
"The shagging?" Oliver offered. He rocked back and forth on his heels.
Percy coughed. "No. About what you said about me," Percy prompted. Please, Oliver, you know perfectly well what I'm talking about.
"You being uptight?" Oliver blinked, looking completely clueless.
Percy was beginning to get frustrated. "No," he said. "About me wanting you."
"What about it?" Oliver asked with a blithe smile.
Percy shot Oliver an "I'll get you for this later" look and soldiered on. "You weren't wrong. About me."
"Really?" Oliver asked, obviously trying to look serious. He failed.
Percy glared again and took a deep breath. "I know it might not have seemed like it, after what happened back in my flat earlier this week- I apologize for that, by the by- but I'm not entirely sure that you feel the same way- I know what you said earlier, but you were rather drunk and all, and even though in vino veritas and what have you, you never really know, do you?" Percy laughed weakly.
"In vino veritas?" Oliver asked.
Percy was clearly determined to rattle on. "But even if you don't, it's only proper that-"
"In vino veritas, Perce?"
Percy shut his mouth with an angry huff. "It's Latin," he ground out. "It can be translated as 'There is truth in wine.'"
"I can't believe you used Latin in a normal conversation."
"There's nothing wrong with knowing Latin," said Percy, offended. "Most modern spell incantations derive from Latin. You know I took a seminar on the history of linguistics and spellwork my last year at school. It was-" Percy stopped and shook his head, glaring at Oliver. "I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't distract me, Oliver. As I was saying-"
"You're the only person I know who would do that." Oliver said fondly. "Right. Sorry," he added, when Percy angrily cleared his throat.
Percy took another nervous breath "There's more, Oliver. You see, for me, at any rate, there's more to this whole thing, whatever it is, than just the...physical aspect of- "
"Latin." Oliver chuckled.
Percy was starting to get annoyed. "Anyway-"
"It's just funny." Oliver tried to stifle a grin again.
"I'm sure it is," Percy snapped. "Anyway," Percy continued firmly, staring at his feet, "you also have the right to know that I...my feelings are such- God, this sounded so much better in my head-"
Percy's head whipped up angrily. "Do you mind?? I'm trying to tell you that I love you if you would just shut up for five seconds you irritating prat!!" he yelled loudly.
They stared at each other in the thick silence of the evening. At least he finally shut up, thought Percy weakly. Oliver kept staring at him. It was out there. And Oliver wasn't. Saying. Anything.
Whoever had claimed that the truth would set you free was horribly, damnably wrong. Percy pressed his lips together. He could not recall a time when he'd felt more exposed, more naked, than under the silence of Oliver's shocked, blinking gaze. And the ridiculous part of the whole thing was that even though he wanted to bid Oliver good night and save a little bit of his dignity, there was something else he wanted more. Something he'd wanted for a long time.
On another note, why wasn't Oliver saying anything?
"There you have it then. Can't take it back now, can I?" Percy muttered. "And you needn't feel obligated to requite my feelings or anything. Just thought you should know. But if you don't...of course, I understand."
He risked a glance at Oliver, whose mouth was open and whose damn hair was trying (and failing) to flop over his forehead. For the first time in his life, Percy thought he understood the meaning of the phrase 'nothing to lose'. "But before I go...would you mind...oh, hang it."
Percy darted forward and kissed Oliver. Quickly, before Percy had the chance to really see what he'd been missing. The brief taste was bad enough, though.
He'd barely pulled back more than a few centimeters when Oliver finally spoke.
"Percy." Oliver's voice came out low; he noted with satisfaction the tiny hitch in Percy's shoulders. Excellent.
Percy's eyes were still locked on Oliver's as he took a step back. "Hmm?"
"Come here." Oliver took a step forward.
Percy stepped back, until he bumped up against a streetlamp, one of the old-fashioned glass kind filled with lightning bugs. The light did the strangest things to Percy's hair. Percy stopped backing up and watched him.
Oliver moved forward again, slowly, taking in every detail of Percy's freckles, and his lower lip and his eyes, which closed under the close, intense scrutiny.
The kiss was nothing special to begin with.Percy barely moved at all; his arms flailed uselessly for a moment before his fists clenched halfway to his sides. Oliver could feel Percy's shoulders hunch, trembling from the effort of holding himself back.
Oliver really had no choice but slip into Percy's robes and run his hands down Percy's sensitive hips at the same moment he suckled Percy's lower lip.
Oliver could feel the instant Percy finally let go, heralded by a soft helpless moan that Oliver could almost taste. And when Percy opened that mouth of his, Oliver barely had time for the fleeting thought of "Attaboy, Perce. Knew you had it in you" before Percy moved and Oliver somehow found himself with his back against the streetlamp. Oliver's eyes flickered open and shut in surprise. And then Percy's hands were running into his hair and Percy's tongue-
Where. The hell. Had Percy learned to do that?
His lungs burned when Percy finally pulled off and tucked his head next to Oliver's with a deep, shuddering breath. Oliver gaped, and sagged against the streetlamp, his arms around Percy's waist. He felt Percy breathe.
"You've been holding out on me, Perce," he managed.
Percy just shrugged in his arms, as if snogging people senseless was something he did everyday. It was quiet.
Percy slowly pulled his head back. Holy hell. The emotion leaking all over his face...no one had ever ever looked at him like that. "Me too," Oliver said. It was all he could get out.
Percy stared. Dammit, that wasn't what he'd meant to say at all.
Percy seemed to understand, though, because a second later they were back to making out against the streetlamp.
Oliver's brain skittered to a stop at that point, thanks to Percy's damn tongue. When they stopped, it was all Oliver could do to lean weakly against the streetlamp. It was going to take a while to get used to this new, improved, "now with free snogging!" version of Percy.
Oliver was still blinking in silence as Percy straightened his robes with the appearance of calm, though there was just light enough to see that he was blushing.
Percy looked at Oliver and didn't say anything for a bit. "'Me too?'" Percy made a face. He shook his head, tucked in a smile, and took a step down the street.
What the hell had just happened?
"Hey!" Oliver pushed himself off the streetlamp and jogged after him. "Yours wasn't much better." Oliver said when he'd caught up.
Percy snorted. "Yes it was."
Oliver snorted back. "Wasn't."
"Yes. It was." Percy finally slowed to a stop in front of Oliver's building.
"I hate to break it to you, Perce, but just because yours had Latin in it only means you're a dork." Oliver spelled the door and held it open for Percy.
Percy went through. "It was important. And besides, you kept interrupting me!" Percy exclaimed, climbing the steps.
"I was happy! I couldn't help it!" Oliver followed him. He took the stairs two at a time.
"Antiquis temporibus, nati tibi similes in rupibus ventosissimis exponebantur ad necem," Percy said in a tone of fond exasperation.
"What did you say?" Oliver asked the back of Percy's head.
Percy put a foot on the last stair and pivoted around to face Oliver. He graced Oliver with that smirking I-know-something-you-don't-know look. "Nothing."
"I'll bet," Oliver said, climbing the last of the steps with a suspicious glare. Percy leaned against the wall, crossed his arms and smirked, and then they both stood still and just mooned at each other like a pair of idiots.
Oliver put a hand against the door to his flat.
"So," said Percy, casually staring at the floor. "Is your flatmate in?"
Oliver reached for his wand to alohamora the door. "He might not be. Why? Oh."
Ha, Oliver thought.
Percy's Latin phrase actually means "In the good old days, children like you were left to perish on windswept crags."
A/N: Well that's it, guys. There should be a short epilogue on its way soon (I hope). After all, Percy and Oliver deserve to get some revenge on Fred and George...
Don't they? ;)
Thanks for reading!