Thanks to one of the reviewers who noted that I made one of the most dangerous mistakes in all of slash fanfiction—making a gay guy seem too much like a girl. This is the revised Chapter 2 of "Quill." The original version sucked. And yes, there is bad language in this chapter! And I also fixed up another great mistake. The word for "fictional" is "apocryphal," not "apocalyptical." Ugh!
It was that night that Oliver dreamed again. This time, there were no dragons spewing fire at him, no murky pond that he was about to drown in. This time, there was just him and somebody else. The other person was speaking softly, and Oliver didn't understand anything he said. But he was soothed by the cadence of his voice. Sitting in the moonlight, he rested his head upon the other person's shoulder.
He woke up. That was, undoubtedly, one of the most pleasant dreams he's had in a while—or, at least, since January. Oliver turned. There was no uncertainty in his mind as to the fact that the "other" was a guy, but . . . ?
Yes, Oliver knew, from last year, that he was attracted to men and women alike. The fact didn't bother him as much as he thought it would, because there simply wasn't any guy in the school of Hogwarts that he liked. The guys he was attracted to were far away, diaphanous, and totally apocryphal.
But now . . . who was the other person?
When Oliver woke up the next morning, he dressed, ate, and went to class with the mechanics of routine. The next week, he sought to match up the voice he heard in his dreams, and was continually frustrated by his attempts. He worked up a major headache by Friday and was forced to ask Madame Pomfrey for some Pepper-Up Potion. At the end of the week, Oliver simply gave up and shut off all sounds, relegating himself into the relative sanity of mental silence.
It was only a dream, after all.
"So. Tell me what happened in the Goblin-Maccheser War of 1725. Oliver? Oliver?"
Oliver opened one eye tiredly. "You mean there a war in 1725?"
"Oh, c'mon. Don't fall asleep on me now. We got to get moving. We have the test in two days, Oliver." Percy squeezed through a tight smile as a bribe. The candlelight struck up the golden shadows of his face, and made him look almost . . . dream-like.
"All right, all right, I'm listening, slave driver," Oliver yawned, rubbing his eyes a little. "Tell me about the Goblin-Massacre War."
"Goblin-Maccheser," Percy corrected. "1724, the goblin king—who was it?"
"Berd the Old," Oliver said promptly.
"Very good. Well, the story started in 1693, when the Macchesers had invaded an area near the goblin kingdom called Crystalmere. Since then, the goblins had been wanting to regain the area. In 1724, Berd won the Battle of Pandle against the King of Maccheser—he was called Alexander IV—and thus the goblins decided to invade Crystalmere once more. That was what precipitated the Goblin-Maccheser War. The turning point was when Alexander turned back the goblins at Castledown. The war ended with the Treaty of Whistleton, in 1726. Crystalmere was retained by Maccheser, as well as the area surrounding Castledown. This war, however insignificant it might seem, was the precursor to the larger, more important War of 1766, which everyone remembers."
Percy ended that statement with a lingering question mark. Oliver was paying attention, all right, but perhaps not in the way that Percy intended. Instead of listening, a third of the way through his speech Oliver had fallen back on simply hearing. Or, more importantly, hearing Percy's voice.
It was . . . it. It was what he had dreamt of. That simple cadence, mellifluous in its ups and downs, only clipped a little because of the hour. And Oliver's head was spinning.
What did it mean? Was that what it meant? That Percy—God forbid!—Percy was the one?
"Perce, I think . . ."
"I'm know. I'm exhausted too. Go to sleep, why don't you."
He wasn't sleepy at all. Instead, he felt the blood rush into his ears, pounding like some great deluge of confusion and relief and disappointment and uncertainty. Oliver had never felt so mixed-up in his entire life. All of the sudden, the room faded into its glowing shades of gold and brown. Only Percy . . . only Percy's voice floating to his ears, magnified a thousand times.
"Oliver, you don't look
well. Are you sure you're all
right? I'm sorry I made you stay up so
late . . . I just . . ."
"Percy." Even that name now made his tongue dry. "I'm all right. Really. Go to b—bed."
Of course he couldn't fall asleep. Not then. Instead, Oliver faked long, deep breaths, which he punctuated with languid movements. It sounded believable even to himself. He listened as Percy blew out all the candles (not trusting magic to extinguish them completely) and put himself to bed.
After about ten minutes, Percy fell into slumber. Another five minutes, and Oliver cautiously drew back the covers. He sat on his bed, legs crossed, as he watched his only roommate. Percy was in dreamland, totally oblivious to the fact that Oliver Wood was staring at him through the night and contemplating the future.
The moon filtered through the windows. Its light, combined with Percy's naturally pale complexion, made his skin look almost ghostly. Percy wasn't a traditionally handsome boy. Oliver's looks had always garnered attention, but Percy was perfectly ordinary. Oliver studied him. Yep. His eyes were a little too small for his face, his nose too long, his lips too long and thin. Definitely not the best-looking person in the world, but . . . somehow very, very comfortable.
Was that it, then? The person he had been searching for? It was Percy?
He had never . . . and even never doesn't seem to fit the impossibility of the moment. Never, ever had Oliver imagined . . . had Oliver ever thought . . . had it ever crossed Oliver's mind . . . that he would ever think about Percy this way. Percy was a friend. Like Fred 'n George. Ouch, that was a bad correlation. The fact of the matter is, Oliver had never looked on him as anyone even remotely close to . . . someone he could be involved with. Romantically. Bewilderedly, Oliver wondered if Percy and romance even belonged to the same universe. Of course, there was Penny, but that was. Well. Oliver would hardly call that really typically teenaged dating.
After he finished laughing at the picture of Percy trying to woo someone, he thought about it seriously. It was not a deterring picture; instead, Oliver realized that it was endearingly sweet. Percy would always have his thoughtfulness, his sincerity, his innocence.
Oliver's heart gave a little jump. How long had it been since he had had someone like that? Someone he could always wonder at, someone that had been everything that Percy was?
Suddenly, a great urgency seized him. Oh God, he thought, oh God. Or Merlin. Whoever's up there . . . I understand it all now. If I could just have him . . . have him for one day, one moment . . . I would ask nothing for the rest of my life. I think I finally realized it. I do want him, but not in that way. Well, not only in that way. I need him. I never thought about it until now, and I guess this is my punishment for remaining forever thickheaded, but . .
I would be happy. So happy . . .
Oliver had taken to looking at Percy. A lot.
He didn't even notice that he was doing it, at first. When he did noticed, he prayed to God that Percy was as oblivious to him as he was to Quidditch. But then and again, no. In his little heart, Oliver did want him to notice. Just a little bit. Enough to make him think about Oliver the way that Oliver thought about him.
Perhaps that was the reason why he started becoming so preoccupied with Quidditch again. Because it only on the Quidditch field that Oliver was sure Percy was looking at him. Too bad he couldn't enjoy the attention. It was rather hard to exchange looks with your unrequited love when melon-sized balls were pummeling at you at thirty-five kilometers an hour.
Once, in an early morning practice, Oliver came down a terrible cold and spent the rest of the day, in bed. When Percy rushed back into their dorm, he quickly went about making potions for Oliver to swallow. Granted, it must have been against some rule—making medicinal potions without Madame Pomfrey's approval—but Percy knew that if the nurse saw Oliver's condition, Gryffindor might have to forfeit the game the next day. So he went about, busying himself with complicated procedures and delicate ingredients.
When Percy brought a goblet of steaming medicine to Oliver's hand, Oliver took it. Their fingers grazed for one second, and the goblet slipped out of his hand. Immediately, Percy yelled a spell to keep the medicine from pouring all over the bedspread and burning Oliver.
"Thanks," Oliver said wryly. "You know, even if you had let that one go, I wouldn't have blamed you."
Percy smiled as he handed Oliver the goblet again. "I would have. I always have looked out for you, and I think I always will. I care about you, Oliver."
"That's very nice of you." Oliver almost flushed until he realized that Percy was a Prefect—he was supposed to say things like that.
But still . . . there was something in Percy's voice that kept him hoping.
"Oliver," said Percy. "You know, it's not polite to stare."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean it."
Percy smiled. "It's not often that people stare at me. I find it a novelty."
They were sitting in their dormitory, door closed, Arithmancy books spread open all over Oliver's bed. They had moved onto that because their desks were overflowing with History of Magic and Potions. Percy was sitting cross-legged on one side of the bed, and Oliver claimed the pillow. He couldn't help thinking that he would like Percy on his bed more often, perhaps not with books all around them.
"You have an interesting face," Oliver said. He didn't think any more about it because he was speaking honestly.
"That's probably the best anyone's ever come up with," Percy said ruefully.
"No. I don't mean it that way. And you know it."
"Well, I suppose I'll take that as a compliment, Cedric-Diggory-of-the-Gryffindor-House."
"I'm the Diggory of the Gryffindors?" Oliver said, eyebrows arching.
"You're every bit as good-looking as he is," Percy said. His voice was quite matter-of-fact.
Oliver's heart fluttered. He grinned impishly. "You think I'm good-looking?"
Percy looked taken aback. "Of course you're good-looking, Oliver. My God! You have every girl in the entire school ogling you, and you think you're not good-looking?"
"I wasn't aware of that." Especially since he was the one doing the ogling. "But thanks."
"Your modesty always amazes me. People would call you the King of Quidditch and you wouldn't bat an eye. Someone tells you you're kind, or smart, or handsome, and you look at them like they grew an extra nose."
"Well, nobody's ever called me smart before," Oliver pointed out, flushing.
"You are. You know that, Oliver? Extremely intelligent. Once you take it off the Quidditch field, you amaze me."
"I do?" Oliver was definitely confused.
Percy nodded. He tapped the book in front of him. "This text? Last week, you didn't know a mugwump from a wobbly. Now, you know the History of Magic forwards, backwards, and upside down."
If you only knew the reason, Oliver thought distractedly. How many days had he spent, urging Percy to help him study just to hear his low, rhythmic voice? Aloud, he said, "I don't know. I've always been good at history. Wars and stuff . . . you know, that was my thing. As a kid I'd sit there and study battle plans for all the big wars—Sarang and the War of 1766 and Helmick-Cortasia. Strategy, I guess. When I met Quidditch, I kind of forgot about that. All of the sudden I wasn't really lonely anymore, so . . ." Oliver cracked a smile.
Percy was staring at him with an especially bemused look on his face. "You were lonely once? You, Oliver Wood?"
"You better believe it," Oliver said, leaning back a little. "I was a quiet little thing when I was a kid. A fucking Scot in London. My parents were perpetually on business, and my only relatives lived in kilts and bagpipes. I went to a public school when I was a kid and you know how it is. All the kids knew each other except for me. The only saving grace was that I was good at rugby. I eventually had a few friends, but I was never popular. Just when I began to fit in, I came to Hogwarts. Of course," he added quickly, casting a look at Percy. "I'm very grateful that I did. But I just . . ."
"I know," Percy said quickly. "I understand."
"So," he said wryly. "Do you have any secrets?"
Percy smiled again. Oliver never thought that you could categorize smiles, but Percy's was distinctly his. Intelligent. Kind. "You know my biggest secret, Oliver. I am a very happy person. Nobody thinks I am. Everyone thinks that it's impossible to like being in my position. But they never realized how much I have. Heck, I didn't even know how much I had until this year. I've never loved myself, truly. But I'm beginning to."
They just sat like that, regarding each other. Oliver's brown eyes mirrored Percy's dark blue ones. A flicker of the sun, and, as if he had been meaning to do it all along, Percy leaned forward and touched Oliver's cheek with one finger. Oliver trembled under that touch, feeling how incredibly warm but soft Percy's finger was. That finger softly caressed his cheekbone, moving to his chin. Oliver leaned forward, and the thing he knew, their lips had met.
His heart was aching with such a tender throb that it was like he had never been kissed before. At the same time, blood was coursing through his veins, filling his ears with the loudness of his heart's thump-thump-thump.
My God! I'm kissing Percy! was his first coherent thought. In all his fantasies, Percy had been the innocent, the one that had to be led through everything. Now, innocent, naïve Percy was kissing him with so much enthusiasm and skill that it left him breathless. Oh man. If Percy ever slipped his tongue inside his mouth, Oliver would be lost.
When Percy pulled away, Oliver saw him searching his face, and he really laughed this time. "Perce," he whispered, and pulled the other boy close. They kissed again, this time adjusting to each other's rhythms and slowly unfolding their enthusiasm. When Oliver coaxed Percy's lips apart, the other responded eagerly.
Oliver had his hands upon Percy's shoulders, and now he slid them down, wanting to make sure that he was awake. He had never kissed a boy before. This was so much different than kissing a girl! Percy's back was firm and he smelled like a man. Oliver moved his hands all over his body, feeling the muscles move beneath his fingers.
After they moved into a tranquil dance of the tongues, Percy edged forward to ease his legs, pushing aside all the books that separated them. Off in the corner of his mind, Oliver heard a distant thud, and that sound was as delightful to his ears as music. Holding Percy tight, Oliver sought to find a more comfortable position. He unlocked his legs and leaned backwards cautiously into his pillow, pulling Percy forward with him.
However young they were, they did need to breathe. When they parted for a second time, it took them a few seconds to realize what kind of position they were in. Percy's cheeks were flushed, and Oliver could only look at him dazedly. Did they just do . . . did Percy really . . .
"Oliver," Percy breathed.
They laughed again, and Percy slowly shifted to lie beside Oliver, whisking a scroll out of the way. Their foreheads touched. All they could do was lie there, looking at each other, marveling at how it all unfolded.
"Was that . . . was that okay with you?" Percy asked finally.
"Forever the fucking Prefect, huh?" Oliver demanded. "Of course it was. I've been wanting it for months."
"Months?" Percy asked, arching his eyebrows.
"Yes. Two and a half, as a matter of fact."
"So I wasn't dreaming when I thought you were looking at me a lot."
"No." Oliver grew quiet. "Did you mean it too, when you said you'd always look out for me?"
"With my heart and soul," Percy murmured.
"How did you know?"
"I didn't," Percy admitted. "But just then—when I saw the light in your eyes—I knew that I had to take the chance. So I did."