Ink Stains

Deborah Peters

Name? Percy Ignatius Weasley. Age? Seventeen. Education? Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Prefect, Head Boy. O.W.L.s? Twelve. N.E.W.T.s? ...

The application went on and on, four feet of parchment. Percy had been preparing himself for this opportunity as long as he could remember, had worked towards it harder than anything else in the last seven years of his life. All this preparation... even four feet didn't seem quite long enough.

Percy laid his quill down on his desk carefully, being sure not to spill any ink on the parchment. He slid his glasses off his face, rubbing his eyes with his long, slender fingers.

The door to the small room opened, allowing the noise from the common room to drift into the seventh-year boys' dormitory. Percy's sole roommate, Oliver Wood, entered and walked towards his own desk, closing the door behind him. "'Lo, Percy."

"Hullo," answered Percy, still rubbing his eyes.

Oliver opened a desk drawer and began rummaging through it, apparently searching for something. "What are you doing up here by yourself, anyway?" he asked casually.

Percy let his hand fall from his face. "Going over my application for the Ministry of Magic."

Oliver frowned. "God, man, have you been doing that all night? It's your last night at Hogwarts. There'll be time for jobs and all that garbage after we've been forced into the adult Wizarding world."

Percy looked at him. "Will there? Be time, I mean?"

Oliver laughed. "Of course. Besides, with your marks, you're sure to get a top spot." He stopped digging through the drawer and, grinning, pulled out a pack of Exploding Snap.

"Still, I want to get my application in as early as is possible. I only wish I could have received my N.E.W.T. scores earlier -- my application could have been in much--"

"Percy," Oliver cut him off. "Not to be melodramatic or anything, but this is our last night of childhood and we've just won the House Championship. I, for one, am going downstairs to celebrate with people whom I may not see for years. I would suggest you do the same." He smiled, stood, and headed towards the door.

"Oliver," Percy said suddenly.

The stocky boy stopped and turned towards him. "Yes?"

"Am I..." Percy swallowed. "Was I a good roommate?"

Oliver regarded him for a moment, then walked to the other side of the room and sat on Percy's bed. "That's an interesting question, Percy. I'm not sure what you mean by that."

Percy put his glasses back on. "I mean... well... has it been so awful, sharing a room with me the last seven years?"

Oliver frowned thoughtfully. "No."


"Well... let's see. You've never been noisy while I'm trying to sleep or study, you usually lend me your class notes to study off of, and, until tonight, you've never bothered me with weird personal questions," he finished, grinning.

Percy stiffened. "I'm sorry to have bothered you, then," he said, turning towards his desk, picking up his quill, and dipping it into the inkwell.

Oliver reached over and took the quill out of Percy's hand. "Relax, mate, it was a joke." Percy still didn't look at him. "Oh, come on," Oliver said, "You have to admit it's a little strange, us having never talked about anything other than classes or the weather or 'all right if I blow out the lamp now?'"

Percy turned to face him. "Why is that, Oliver?"

Oliver threw up his hands in exasperation. "Christ, Percy, I don't know, maybe it's because you're always studying?" he said, indicating the parchment and quill on Percy's desk.

Percy's eyes flashed behind his glasses. "Well, it's not like you've made an effort to be pals with me, is it? Talking about me always studying -- what about your precious Quidditch, then?"

"What about my Quidditch? At least Quidditch doesn't stop me from making time to talk to people!"

"I talk to people! Penelope--"

"Yeah, where is Penelope, anyway? I haven't seen the two of you together since before winter holiday."

"I -- we--"

"Percy, you're fine as a roommate, okay? But why can't you, just once, relax and enjoy yourself?"

"I enjoy myself, Oliver," Percy said coldly.

"Oh, yeah, you enjoy yourself. That's why you isolate yourself from everybody else during your last night at Hogwarts and then try to pick a fight with me just so you'll have somebody to talk to--"

"What do you know about me?" Percy exclaimed, grabbing his quill out of Oliver's hand. "After all, we've never talked about anything other than classes or the weather or--"

"You can't live with someone for seven years without noticing stuff about him!"

"Such as?" Percy asked, his face slowly turning colour to match his hair.

"Such as an obsessive need to establish his intellectual superiority with everyone he meets!"

"Oh, really?"

"Not to mention the anal-retentive fixation with adhering to trivial rules!" Oliver practically spat.

Percy took in his roommate's words with a sneer. "Really, Oliver? 'Anal-retentive fixation with adhering to trivial rules'? Where'd you learn those words?"

"Playing Quidditch doesn't render me completely brainless."

Percy crossed his arms arrogantly. "Well, you've certainly worked hard at establishing that very image."

"Not as hard as you've worked on your image," Oliver retorted.

"Do you think that's all I care about?" Percy exclaimed, insult ringing from his voice.

"Do you care about anything else?" Oliver responded rhetorically.

"Is there anything else I can afford to care about?"

"Well, maybe if you'd just take the time to relax for once-"

"I can't just relax, Oliver!" Percy said, his voice continuing to grow louder.

Oliver let out a harsh, mocking laugh. "Oh, sure you can, it's easy -- or maybe it's just easy for those of lesser intelligence than that of the marvelous head boy..."

"You don't know what it's like!"

"What, to think I'm better than every--"

"To have to be perfect all the time!" Percy shouted, slamming his quill down on his desk. Ink slowly spread across the parchment, but he failed to notice.

The boys glared at each other for several moments. Oliver was the first to speak. "Look, Percy," he said quietly, I shouldn't've--"

"No," said Percy, taking off his glasses and rubbing his eyes again, "don't worry about it."

"No, Percy, I had no right to say any of that."

"It's not like I haven't heard it before. Haven't you met my brothers?"

"That's why I shouldn't've said that. You get enough from your family. You don't need it from your friends."

Percy looked at Oliver. "Oh, so that's what you are?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

Oliver shrugged. "That's another thing about living with someone for seven years. You sort of get to like having them around."

Percy smiled wryly. "Funny. Fred and George have lived with me for fifteen years, and they don't seem to like having me around in the slightest."

Oliver laughed. "I wouldn't be too offended by that. Sometimes I think those two don't like having anyone around but each other."

Percy smiled warmly. "Fair enough."

Oliver stood. "Come downstairs with me."

Percy shook his head. "I don't know..."

"Come on, I'll even protect you from your brothers."

Percy thought for a moment, then said with a slow smile, "Yeah, all right." He slipped his glasses on. "Just let me--" he noticed the ink stained application for the first time. "Oh, bloody hell, what have I done?"

Oliver shrugged. "You'll get a new one tomorrow."

Percy stood, holding the parchment at arm's length. "How could I be so careless?" he said, shaking his head despondently. "Look at it. It's terrible."

Oliver regarded him for a moment, then took the application from Percy's hand. "Odd," he said, studying it, "I think it's perfect." He grinned at Percy, crumpled the parchment into a ball, and tossed it at the trash can.

It hit the rim and bounced back out onto the floor. As if by reflex, Percy bent down to pick it up, then stopped himself. Straightening, he grinned at Oliver. "Let's go downstairs, then?" he said.

Oliver nodded and Percy opened the door. With an extravagant gesture, Percy said, "After you." Oliver bowed slightly to his friend and walked through the door. Percy followed him down the first couple of steps, then ran back up and closed the door behind him.

"I'm not anal-retentive," he told his roommate when he rejoined him.