Unsuspecting Hearts

Author's Notes: This is the final part of a three-part story-arc that started with "Catharsis" and continued with "Fallout." Please read those before you read this. Sadly, Bill is still in the jungles of South America, and so will not grace us with his presence this time.

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters (except Erec- he's all mine- oh, and Marisa Bock, she's mine, too). J.K. Rowling does. I only borrowed them for a while (although to be perfectly accurate, I think they borrowed me!).

Warnings: This is slash. I did not start to write Percy's story as slash. To tell the truth, he started out as kind of asexual, but 'boat go where boat go', and this third and final part is slash. In fact I didn't even know it would end up as slash until I actually started writing this bit. I must be true to the characters as I see them. If you read slash solely so you can flame it, be my guest. I am not such a delicate flower. However, don't say I didn't warn you. There is a relationship between two men of a romantic and sexual nature here. If this is not your cuppa, don't read. If you can't take the sun, stay off the beach. And if you truly want to flame me, please be creative at least.

What else could I do? Oliver fell in love. And when love enters your life, it is best not to turn it away. Wisely, neither one of them do.

Most of all, for my Bestest, as always- who I teased mercilessly with bits and pieces of this before she finally got to see the whole damn thing (at one point I remember getting a note- something to the effect of (and this is a direct quote) "SEND ME THE FIRST KISS SCENE, YOU BITCH!" Needless to say, I sent that scene and others before she got the whole picture. LOL! Love you!). I hereby dedicate the snogging to Gwen- who wanted smoochies more than anything. For all those who read "Fallout" and 'just knew' Oliver was interested in Percy (Alicey, ##Styx, among others!). And for Cairnsy, just because.

Unsuspecting Hearts
A'jes' Blue, April 2001

so many years, you cried your tears alone
frightened that life might pass you by.
then he appears, someone who cares for you
this is no time to question why.

love can find you when you least expect-
funny how two lives connect-
that's how it starts
to unsuspecting hearts.

let yourself go, give yourself half a chance
maybe he's waiting just for you.
you never know, this could be paradise
maybe your dreams just might come true.

and you never know how love might grow-
once you share your first hello-
that's how it starts
to unsuspecting hearts.

in a world where nothing's sure
and nothing is ever guaranteed,
you should trust the way you feel
that's the only thing that's real.

its like magic how your spirit soars-
once you feel his hand in yours-
that's how it starts
to unsuspecting hearts.

-"Unsuspecting Hearts" from the musical Carrie (Gore/Pitchford)

An owl knocked gently at his window one morning as Oliver Wood was eating breakfast. It was his first full day back in England after training on the continent. His heart leapt as he recognized the owl, and his mouth curved up in a smile. Hermes, Percy Weasley's owl, fluttered outside, waiting for Oliver to let him in. Chuckling softly, Oliver drew the owl in and gave him some water and a place to rest as he took the letter. Hermes must be happy he wouldn't have to make the long journey to the continent any more to carry their letters back and forth, Oliver mused. Seeing his reflection in the mirror next to the window his breath caught. He looked too pleased. Too happy. Pushing the thought away- and with it the idle question why he was so happy, he ripped open the letter and read it eagerly. Percy stayed with him for a few days while he was training with the team before returning to England. Since that time they'd written letters several times a week. Oliver had come back to England at the end of the training season, ready to play. Ready to slip back into his life here. Ready to see Percy again.

Startled, Oliver stopped reading. Where had that thought come from? When had Percy become so important to him? Shocked, Oliver sank down into a chair and considered carefully. Was it the night Percy spent pouring out his heart to Oliver- all the grief and longing he had regarding his older brother's death? Was it after that, the day he'd spent with Percy at his brother Charlie's Dragon Preserve, when he'd told Percy they were friends and went completely speechless at the happiness in Percy's eyes? Was it the few days they'd spent together at Oliver's flat? Or was it even before this, back when they were students and roommates at Hogwarts- Oliver had admired the other boy, but maybe he didn't really realize what sorts of feelings he had? Panicking a bit now because he didn't know how Percy felt about him in return, Oliver had to concentrate on breathing slowly. He struggled for long moments to control his racing heart. Questions along such lines were ridiculous! Percy was a friend. He was a new friend, a good friend. Oliver felt a flutter in his stomach. A heartbreakingly beautiful friend, if he was honest with himself.

Oliver considered carefully. Did he want more than mere friendship? Perhaps, but he didn't know how Percy felt. Percy was still in a precarious mental place; he probably could use a friend far more than a lover at the moment. And then there was the matter of whether Percy was attracted to him at all. With his emotions cascading in a wild maelstrom of confusion, Oliver answered the note and attached it to Hermes with shaking hands before opening the window again. As he watched Hermes fly off Oliver promised himself that he would be Percy's friend. And just his friend. Maybe sometime in the future Percy would be ready for- or want- something more. Oliver decided he would let Percy say when. If- he reminded himself sternly.

Quidditch strategy. He needed to think about Quidditch strategy and the upcoming match against the Appleby Arrows. It was entirely possible he would get in the game. Firmly, he pushed all thoughts of the other man to the back of his mind and concentrated on Quidditch strategies, mentally running through the plays the team had been practicing for the last few days.

As Oliver went about his business, putting all thoughts about Percy Weasley aside, the man in question sat at his desk at the Ministry of Magic office in London. He worked in the Department of International Magical Cooperation. Percy's month long "vacation" had left a pile of unanswered mail overflowing on his desk. He was just finishing replying to the various letters on a variety of different subjects. It had taken him weeks to get caught up, and in those weeks he had mainly kept to himself. He had changed, and he found it difficult to remember why he had felt so strongly about working for the Ministry. Or perhaps it was the department he was in. Since the events of the previous spring when his immediate supervisor met his untimely death, Percy had sort of soured on the Ministry as a whole. If he thought back, those stressful days surrounding the events of the final test of the Triwizard Tournament were what triggered his violent nightmares. The nightmares that led him to his own personal crisis. He was quite sure he never wanted to go through anything like the last few months ever again.

Percy found his parents were keeping a close watch over him since his return from abroad. Apart from keeping an eye on him at home, every few days his father descended on his small cramped office and whisked Percy away for lunch in Diagon Alley. He'd always felt his father was a bit daft, but he was surprised to find he had a keen eye and a shrewd mind, although if he thought about it, his father would have to be more attentive than he let on- what with six boys in the house and all. Percy knew his father only took him to lunch to keep tabs on him while still allowing him the freedom to do as he pleased. It gave Percy a sense of security, knowing his parents cared so deeply, but at the same time he wanted to forge his own way, without their interference. The loose surveillance they kept on him began to chafe a bit, and he tried to explore the limits of his world. Oliver was right, he reflected on more than one occasion, I am sheltered and overshadowed. But how do I stop being both of those things? How do I find my own wings? Who am I, really?

Percy went to work, he went home, and he wrote to Oliver. Lots and lots of letters to Oliver. It was so easy pouring out his thoughts and feelings onto parchment and sending them off via Hermes. Frighteningly easy. And Oliver seemed to enjoy the letter writing as well, even if most of his letters were peppered with Quidditch scores, possible player trades, and league standings. Percy became very well briefed on the various teams and their standings, and when Oliver would get to play for real. Oliver was the reserve Keeper for the Tutshill Tornados, and Percy wanted to keep up with the team's league standing. He hoped to see Oliver play again soon. He studied the Quidditch section of the Daily Prophet almost daily for the sports writer's opinions of the players this year. He became a Tornados fan, now that he knew the players personally. The few days he spent with Oliver, he went to practice and watched the team. Most nights they went out with the team as well. A couple of the players knew his older brothers Bill and Charlie and regaled them all with stories from their school days at Hogwarts. As a going away gift they had given him a signed team picture- with first string, as well as reserves. It now graced his bedroom wall above his bed. Fourteen smiling Quidditch players, coach and team manager included, waved down at him before he went to sleep, and there in the back row was Oliver.

Percy started to wear his glasses again, especially when he was nervous, and most often when he was alone; they were comforting. They had been a huge part of who he had been; he found it difficult to be the "new" Percy all the time.

Tentatively, he started going out on his own in the evenings, especially Friday and Saturday nights. He'd walk for hours, watching the people around him. Late fall gave way to cold rains and occasional snow. He began to frequent bookstores and libraries. Wizarding, Muggle, it didn't seem to make much difference. The serious, tall, fair young man in the long black cloak became a familiar sight in libraries and bookstores all over London and in the surrounding area. Percy was not too discerning when it came to reading material. Most of the Muggle science and technology books he treated as little more than faerie tales, but some of the fiction was good, and the essays and poetry he found quite wonderful. He blushed profusely the first time he stumbled into the erotic fiction section of one of the larger bookstores. He left it quickly, only to find his thoughts return there again and again to remember his first flush of -- what exactly was it, arousal? - when he realized what kinds of books the section held. Disturbed, Percy pushed the experience to the back of his mind and continued trying to make sense of the puzzle pieces that were his life.

He packed away the leather clothes Bill and Charlie had given him. It was too cold to wear them out, and he'd feel silly wearing them about the Burrow. But he would take them out from time to time and just hold them, rub them against his cheek, sniff them deeply as if he could bring back the feelings of that confusing, glorious month. That month he'd found the joy and terror of dragons, the frightening haunted nights, the exhilaration of friendship, and finally the peace that comes with healing. He found his memories of that time mixed and strange. When he was alone, in the dark of the night he would let himself remember, let himself savor each memory, relive the pain and the joy in equal measure. Best of all, he had the tangible reminders of his adored brother Erec to look at, touch, and hold. The dingy box that held their secret treasures now sat in plain view in his room at home, and he opened the box often. He found it comforting to hold the items, and had even taken to carrying the smooth white quarry-stone with him wherever he went. He charmed it so he would never lose it. Lots of his letters to Oliver held stories of these items, as if sharing the memories of Erec would ensure that Percy would never forget.

He also began, slowly, to make careful purchases of new clothing. He'd worn the formal robes of his station, whatever hand-me-downs that survived his older brother's rough wear, and his Mum-made sweaters for so long that the thought of new clothing was strange and disconcerting. His mother had always provided clothing, and he found he really didn't have any idea what he was doing when it came to purchasing clothing for himself. At least, he discovered, he had plenty of money to spend on clothes and books. He had worked for the Ministry for a year and a half, and aside from helping his parents with the household expenses, he hadn't spent any of his earnings.

Percy considered each item very carefully before he bought anything. For each serviceable, bland, will-wear-like-iron purchase, he made himself buy something just because he liked the color, cut, texture, or style. He didn't know if he'd ever have the courage to wear some of his purchases out where anyone could see him, but he enjoyed wearing them at home, or underneath his robes. He found he liked the texture of silk very much against his skin, with leather a close second.

Then the Tornados came home. Now that the team was back in England, Percy wondered if Oliver would want to spend much time with him. He wasn't all that sure what they could find to do together. He supposed he could go out with the team. They had all been really nice on the continent, but he wasn't certain that he'd really know what to do. Social situations still tended to make him skittish. He could take Oliver shopping with him, but he felt quite sure that the pursuits that Percy found new and exciting wouldn't hold such interest for Oliver. So he wondered a bit anxiously what their friendship would be.

It turned out that his fears were unfounded. Oliver was happy to do anything, including shop, with Percy. After the first somewhat awkward time they met for dinner, they relaxed in each other's presence. Still, Percy found he missed writing his almost daily letters to Oliver, and so with an embarrassed explanation, took it up again. Oliver was a bit amused, but he found he had missed receiving them, and was happy to continue collecting the letters in a box, carefully sorted by date.

As they spent more and more time together, Percy found his thoughts return to Oliver at the oddest times. Not knowing what to do about it, he ignored the way his heart leapt every time he looked at Oliver, he ignored the odd way his blood roared in his ears in anticipation, just before he met the other man for dinner. Percy focused on having a friend, someone he could share his thoughts with. Everything else was irrelevant. Just because he thought Oliver was the most beautiful person he'd ever met didn't necessarily mean anything. It didn't mean anything at all. Did it?

Oliver found it increasingly difficult to be around Percy for any length of time without wondering what it would be like to touch him. To kiss him. The only time Percy didn't occupy his thoughts like that was when he was playing Quidditch. Quidditch demanded all of his concentration, and once his broom was in the air all other concerns fell away. But back on the ground, the slender redhead consumed his mind to the exclusion of anything else. It wasn't just lust. Oliver had felt lust, been overwhelmed by lust on occasion. Never had the object of his lust seeped himself more thoroughly into Oliver's life. Then one night, as they sat in a small pub with the team, Percy turned away to answer a question from one of the chasers. At that moment, it suddenly occurred to Oliver that he was in love. He almost dropped his drink. In love? With Percy? Setting his drink carefully on the table he rose swiftly and excused himself for a moment. Wandering outside, he fought to clear his head. I love him. I am in love with him. What'll I do? Gods, I have to hide this. I will NOT scare him with this. He needs a friend, damn it, more than I need a lover. I can do this. I can. Get a grip, Ol, old boy. Just… get a grip.

At the end of November, Oliver met Percy for dinner before one of the team's out of town tours, and asked him to keep an eye on his flat while he was away. The team would travel three or four days out of every week until the break for the holidays. According to both the team's manager and the coach, Apparating took too much energy. They traveled on the day before the match, and traveled home, or to the next match the day after. Oliver also offered to let Percy stay there while he was gone, in case he wanted a quiet place close to the city. Percy was surprised at the gift of his own key to Oliver's flat, but saw the practicality of it, and accepted it at face value. Oliver tried to ignore that giving a key to one's home was incredibly symbolic, and was grateful Percy seemed to take what was offered without questioning its significance. He also tried to ignore the slight flutter in his stomach when he thought of Percy staying in his flat, and sleeping in his bed.

Hermes became a familiar sight around the team as Percy kept Oliver updated on his life, and assuring him his flat was still there. The team kidded him good-naturedly about his relationship with Percy, but he would just grin enigmatically, wishing all the while there was something to tease him about.

*****

Percy was increasingly nervous as he walked up the stairs to Oliver's apartment. The note he received at work only indicated Oliver wanted to talk to him about something. It was odd, because since returning from the continent, Oliver hadn't written him anything but invitations out with the team, or something about a change in dinner plans. This sounded serious. When he entered Oliver's flat, he became more on edge. Oliver was waiting for him.

"Percy. Please sit down." Oliver indicated a chair at the table opposite him. Percy looked beautiful, and that made this a lot harder. He had to warn Percy away. He was losing sleep, and it was affecting his performance with the team. He was tied up in knots and he had to stop it. Percy needed to find a better friend. Oliver couldn't be just a friend anymore. His desire bordered on obsession, and he knew it wasn't healthy for him- or for Percy. It had happened so fast. All of his resolve to be just a friend was gone. He had to be honorable in this and tell Percy how he felt- even if it cost him Percy's friendship.

"Oliver? What is it?" Percy's anxiety leaked from his eyes to the rest of his face. Oliver wouldn't meet his eyes.

"I… I don't know how to say this." Oliver stared down at his hands, resting on the table in front of him. His fingers twisted around each other restlessly.

"What? You're scaring me." There was an edge of hysteria in Percy's voice.

"Percy… I can't do this anymore… It's tearing me apart." He raked his hand through his hair as he stood and paced to the center of the room. Turning back suddenly he said, "I don't want to be just a friend." Oliver gazed into the face that meant more to him now than anything else in his life. More than Quidditch, more than his next breath. Percy stared back at him, confusion showing plainly in his eyes. Oliver cleared his throat. "I mean I want more."

"What?" Percy stood a little unsteadily. He stepped forward searching Oliver's face questioningly. "What do you mean?"

"I want more. Gods, Percy, this isn't easy. It's coming out all wrong." Oliver turned away, tearing his eyes from that beloved face and figure. He raked his hand through his hair again in a sharp, aggravated motion. "I… I… I don't know how it happened. I want more. I…" his voice dropped until Percy had to strain to hear him. "I want you."

Percy felt his knees buckle as he sat down hard on the floor. "What?" Oliver Wood wanted him? Beautiful, strong, compassionate Oliver Wood? Oliver Wood, who had consumed his thoughts for weeks, even though Percy had no idea what to do about it, was standing there and telling him- what, exactly? He wanted Percy as a… lover? Could that be it? Percy hugged the warm and bright thought to him as a moment of supreme joy. And then a wave of cold fear took its place. Terror stricken, he raised his head and saw Oliver watching him. Oliver's face held a bewildering mixture of pain and longing and tentative… was that love? Love was so frightening. And what if something happened to Oliver, like it did to Erec… What if he lost him? He couldn't… couldn't… Percy started to hyperventilate. Worried at the bloodless pallor in Percy's face, Oliver knelt quickly next to him.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Forget I ever said anything. Gods, Percy slow down! You'll pass out. Don't pass out. I'm sorry. I won't say it again. I… I won't even think it… please… I'll do anything…" As Percy's breathing slowed, Oliver's stumbling tirade came to an end. He was blushing and had to look away from Percy's face, so temptingly near his own. He tried to move away, to remove himself from temptation. If he stayed here much longer he might kiss Percy and that would be mortifying. Oliver found he couldn't move away. Percy was holding on too tight.

"No…" Percy held his arm in a surprisingly firm grip. He was pale; concentrating on breathing calmly. "No, please - Oliver. Don't go!" Oliver turned back to face Percy and found his expression terrified and determined and… beautiful.

"I'm sorry." Oliver whispered.

"Please don't be sorry." Came the whispered reply. "I… I don't… I want… I don't know what to do."

Oliver's heart leapt at the broken words. He gazed deeply into Percy's flinching eyes and read pain, fear, and a little bit of… desire? A glimmer of understanding pierced Oliver's self-protective armor. Percy was scared. He knew that, of course. Percy had so many well-founded fears about losing those close to him that he was afraid to risk. To risk… loving. How brave he is. How utterly beautiful. With a small sigh, he closed the gap between them and pressed his lips to Percy's, effectively cutting off a gasp of surprise. It was so sweet, and warm, and moist. Pulling back, Oliver gazed into Percy's face, suddenly unsure. Percy's eyes were closed, and he had a wondering expression on his face. The tip of his tongue emerged to lick the taste of Oliver from his soft lips. Oliver groaned and kissed him again, this time with more passion.

Percy was drowning in sensation. Oliver was kissing him. Oliver was KISSING HIM!!! The bit of his brain that wasn't wholly involved in that fascinating activity- the analytical bit- was telling him that kissing Penelope had never felt like this. He'd never felt like a tornado was tearing through him, never felt the lightening flashing down his spine, never felt the burning flush of his skin, never felt the tingling in his extremities. Then that little bit of sanity fled and he kissed Oliver back. Panting a bit when Oliver's mouth roamed his face, kissing his eyelids, nose, jaw, hair, he felt tears gather and spill down his cheeks.

Oliver felt the wetness against his lips, tasted the salt of Percy's tears and pulled back, startled that he was crying. "No, please no. Don't. Don't cry." He chanted in a rough whisper, brushing at the tears with his fingertips. Those impossibly blue eyes opened and gazed up at him.

Percy seemed to shake himself from a daze, the fingers of one hand pressed up against his lips. Kissing was nice. Kissing was sweet. Kissing Oliver was the best thing he could ever remember doing. Ever. And there were tears leaking from his eyes at the sweetness of it. The beauty. The unbearable emotion that, even now, robbed him of his voice. He couldn't form words to tell Oliver it was okay. He was okay. So he did the only thing he could think to do. He held out his hands, reaching toward Oliver timidly in an unconscious pleading gesture. Needing no other encouragement, Oliver pushed himself forward and reclaimed Percy's mouth. Gently, Oliver lowered Percy back until he was lying on the floor, with Oliver bent over him, kissing softly, but passionately.

Long minutes later Oliver found himself running his fingers through that bright hair, and stroking the soft skin of Percy's face and neck. Feeling he was going too fast, that he had to do something to slow this down or he might frighten Percy with the depth of his desire, Oliver pulled back, struggling to control his racing heart. Panting a bit, Oliver rolled over so he lay on his back next to Percy. Their hands found each other and they twined their fingers together. He brought their joined hands up to his mouth and kissed the fingers gently. Percy's hand trembled in his own. Oliver realized that his companion was trembling all over, not just in his hands and arms. Moving swiftly, he grabbed a pillow from the couch and propped his head on it. Then he gathered Percy in close to his chest, trying to roll and lift the slender form onto him. Percy curled in tight, draping his long legs over Oliver's and playing with the buttons on his shirt.

"Oliver?" His voice was low and husky.

"Mmmhhh?" He stopped raining kisses on the head pillowed on his chest. Oliver couldn't remember ever feeling this good. Percy was cradled in the crook of his arm. A lovely, heavy, warm weight against his side.

"Why… why did you stop?" Oliver glanced down at the face on his chest. Percy's hair was tousled, and his eyes were half closed, and he was worrying a button with his fingertips. Reaching down, Oliver lifted the chin to make Percy look him in the eyes.

"I don't want to scare you. I've wanted this so much… I was afraid I would lose control if I kept on. And because I don't know how you're feeling. It's all so… new. I need us to go slowly. I need for us to be sure."

"Oh." Percy smiled at him and let his eyes drift closed, nestling closer to Oliver. He felt so safe, he felt like this could go on forever. He wanted this to go on forever. And there was so much he didn't know. But Oliver knew, and that was so… wonderful. Oliver would help him. "Okay…"

*****

For the first time that year, Harry Potter was allowed to come home with Ron, Ginny, and the twins and spend a real Christmas with a real family. Although she had hoped for nothing less for some time, Molly Weasley was unsure this was a good idea. Not for Harry. For Percy. He worried her to no end, and she knew that her other children coming home for the holidays would be tough on him. He had merely looked mildly surprised when she asked him if he would mind having almost the entire family home. He assured her it was fine with him, that he'd like to see Harry again, too. Molly wasn't sure if she believed him. He caught her worried glances several times before he reminded her that he would be at work most of the time, anyway. And he had some plans with Oliver.

That was another subject Molly worried about. While she was glad Percy had such a good friend in Oliver Wood, she worried the attachment her son had for the other young man was one-sided. She hoped it wasn't so for Percy's sake. When she tried to voice her concerns to her husband, Arthur merely looked at her calmly and reminded her Percy was almost twenty-one years old. Didn't she think it was about time they let go a little- let Percy decide who to spend his time with? So it was with mixed feelings that Molly welcomed the rowdy bunch of Hogwarts students home for the holidays.

Ginny Weasley, youngest sibling, only sister, and most observant of the Weasley brood, noted the lines of worry that her mother could not hide- delighted as she seemed to be to have them all home. Bill wouldn't be able to make it, but Charlie would, a bit later in the week. Ginny thought she knew why her mother was worried. She knew there were strange things going on in Percy's life. Things that she, Ron and the twins were not told about. The first inkling she had was the sudden lack of anything about Percy in her mother's letters. Always before her mother keep her current with Percy's activities. Then there was the odd photograph that Oliver Wood sent to the twins. Ginny never gave the photo back to them. In her quiet way, she kept it and studied it often. She contemplated the vision of Percy without his mask. She had seen glimpses of this Percy- relaxed and happy. But never had she seen so much of what she now considered the 'real' Percy. She wondered if she would meet him this holiday break. She hoped so.

It was with all these thoughts in mind that after unpacking Ginny found herself outside Percy's door, knocking timidly. There was no answer, so she cautiously opened the door and peeked inside. It was empty. Hearing her brothers clatter up the stairs she slipped inside and shut the door. Quiet descended immediately. He must have soundproofing spells in effect in here, she thought. Looking about her with interest she took in all the little details of Percy's room. The poster of the Quidditch team was new, as was the dingy box on the desk, and the book laid open next to it. He had uncovered the headboard of his bed. Usually it was draped with an extra blanket, but now it was bare and she saw the ornate 'E' carved into the warm honey-colored wood. Running the tips of her fingers over the carving, she leaned in to study the poster on the wall, and noticed that it was signed by all the players. Oliver Wood waved merrily from the back row. Moving to the desk she peered into the open box before glancing at the book. Her breath caught as she saw what it was. Sinking into the chair she tugged the book closer to her. It was filled with pictures of Percy and another little boy. She knew who the other child had to be, of course. She had been told there was a child that died, and his name was Erec, but she hadn't realized that Percy's world had revolved around this child. She had never seen Percy so happy. Slowly she pulled the photograph of Percy that Oliver sent the twins from her pocket and laid it down.

Tears formed in her eyes when she realized that the expression in the face of Percy then and Percy now was very similar. Percy had been a happy, joyous little boy. The photos of him at five bore no resemblance to the stern-faced Percy she grew up with. There were so many questions running through her mind, and so much confusion. She put her head down on the desk, still looking at the photo in her hand. Exhaustion tugged at her. The workload and exams always got worse before the holidays, and she had stayed up late for too many nights in a row studying. Slowly, she let her eyes drift shut for a moment.

Percy found her there, head resting on her arms, deeply asleep. She had her hands on Erec's album, and she clutched a photo in her fingers. With great care, Percy shifted it out of her grasp. He was surprised when he saw the subject. Where did Ginny get this? The photograph was of him, Oliver, Charlie, and Bill. It was the picture from that golden afternoon at the Preserve. His image looked up at him joyfully, a wide smile lit his face. He smiled back a little foolishly in response, remembering that wonderful day. Turning his attention back to his sister, he took a moment to compose himself.

Gently, he shook her awake. "Ginny? Gin, wake up."

She woke slowly, disoriented. She flushed when she realized that she was still in Percy's room. "Percy?"

"You fell asleep, Gin. Did you want to see me for some reason?" He tone was gentle, but his face was set in the expressionless mask he always wore around his family.

Ginny rubbed the sleep from her eyes and stretched a bit. "No, Percy. I… I wanted to see how you were. Mum hasn't written me about you lately. I was worried. Until we got that." She pointed to the photo he still held.

"Yes, this. Where did you get this?" She thought she saw amusement lurking in his eyes, but that was so unlike Percy she dismissed it.

"Oliver Wood sent it to the twins about six weeks ago." Fascinated she watched as his ears turned pink. Hmmm. He's embarrassed. It has something to do with Oliver.

"Did he?" His tone was even, and his face betrayed nothing. It was then that Ginny realized he wasn't wearing his glasses, and his eyes were filled with emotion. It was a fleeting emotion, and she couldn't name it before it was gone. Her face must have communicated some of her surprise because he focused on her. "What?"

"You're not wearing your glasses." She said, immediately chastising herself mentally for doing so.

"No. No, I suppose I am not."

"Would you… would you tell me about him?" Ginny's downcast eyes focused on the open album. Her fingertips lightly grazed the edge of the photo affixed there.

Surprised, Percy just stared at her. "You want to know…"

"Yes. Very much." She glanced up and misread the expression on his face. "Oh, oh Percy, I'm sorry. If you don't want to talk about him, I understand. I mean it looks like you were really close, and I'm sorry." She trailed off miserably. Stupid. That was so stupid. Erec died, probably the worst thing in his life- and you just brought it up. He probably doesn't want to relive that.

"No, Ginny. It's okay." Percy picked up the box from the desk and sat on the bed. "Come here." He gestured for her to sit beside him. "You should know about him. Erec was… well, Erec was special to me. He died before you were born, and I am sorry he never got a chance to know you. He would have loved having a sister." Percy sounded wistful.

He showed her all of their treasures. He told the stories that went with each one, saving the first broomstick ride for last. She sat next to him and listened with rapt attention, as he told her about the photographs, and what he remembered of those times. She snuggled close into his side at some point and he propped himself up on the headboard of the bed, arm around her. He lowered his voice when he spoke about keeping Erec's bed and dismantling his own. He talked for a long time, and Ginny got to know her brother Erec through Percy's memories. When they finally realized how late it was, they went downstairs, laughing. Everyone else already sat at the dinner table. Percy had become quiet and somber again, and Ginny felt almost bereft at the cold, set expression on his face as he greeted his brothers and Harry. She was dismayed that the 'real' Percy was gone so abruptly. Then she noticed the faint trace of fear in his eyes as they sat down. She smiled up at him and winked, squeezing his hand suddenly under the table before turning her attention to the question their mother asked her.

Percy was surprised that Ginny sat listening to him prattle on about Erec for so long. More surprisingly, she recognized he was uncomfortable when they joined the dinner table and tried, without drawing attention to his unease, to comfort him. She had changed. His little sister was growing up. He looked at her and realized she was fifteen years old. A young woman who seemed confident and sure of herself. She could give as good as she got from all of her brothers. It looked like the crush she had on Harry Potter was gone, although it was plain she admired him- it was more the admiration for an older brother. Ginny had a lot of experience admiring older brothers. Percy was quite sure that it wasn't often one of said older brothers returned the compliment. But he did now. The pretty, albeit tough, doll-like little girl was growing into a powerful witch. And someday, he promised himself, she would know how much he admired her.

*****

Oliver stood under the hot spray of the shower and felt his muscles relax. It was nice to be home. The Quidditch season was in full swing, and he was constantly traveling about with the team. They had a short break for the holidays, though, and Oliver was glad today's was the last practice for a few days. Right after Christmas it picked up again. They had a match against the Chudley Cannons just after the new year. Between practice and preparation for the matches his body sang with small aches and pains. He let the heat of the water seep in as he cast his thoughts ahead to his evening plans. Percy was coming straight from work and they were going out to a holiday party thrown by one of his teammates. He smiled to himself. Every time he thought of the slender redhead, who was still in the process of rebirthing himself, his heart lightened and he got a strange sort of fluttering in his stomach. After his lengthy shower, he dried himself slowly and picked out his outfit for tonight. Just as he was buttoning his black jeans there came a knock on the door. Must be Percy… He's early. Big surprise, he grinned.

Bare-chested and scrubbing his towel through his hair Oliver answered the door. "Hey, forget your key?" He called out in a lighthearted tone, swung the door open, and blinked in surprise, his grin fading a bit. "Fred. George. What…?"

"Just dropping in…"

"…to see an old friend. Expecting someone?" The Weasley twins brushed by him with their familiar cocky grins.

"Uh, yes… er, sure… Come on in…" Oliver flushed a bit, before he realized he was standing alone in the open doorway. Glancing quickly outside to see if he could see Percy coming up the stairs, he shut the door with a sigh. Well, we knew they'd have to find out sooner or later… I just wish for Percy's sake it could have been later.

"Can I get you anything?" Oliver struggled to keep his annoyance from leaking into his voice.

"Sure…"

"Whatever you've got." Twin speak. Oliver remembered just how adept the twins were at finishing each other's sentences.

Oliver brought out two bottles of butterbeer and handed them to his unexpected guests. "How's your final year going? And the business?" He moved down the short hallway to his bedroom, pausing only to drop the towel he was still holding on the bathroom floor, and grabbed his shirt. Pulling it on, he reentered the living room.

"Good." The twins spent the next half hour regaling him with tales of their seventh year, catching Oliver up on the team's standing for the Quidditch cup, and what calamities were befalling Harry Potter and friends.

Oliver got increasingly nervous as time inched on. Percy was now a bit late. The twins were not wholly oblivious to Oliver's twitching. They enjoyed watching their former team captain squirm. They kept trading sidelong glances with each other, smiling at his obvious discomfort. They could practically read each other's thoughts- Oliver is waiting for a date. A date with a key, no less… This could be… interesting.

At the sound of a key in the lock, they traded purely evil grins. Oliver stiffened visibly, and leapt to his feet.

"Hey, Ol. Sorry I'm late, but I got hung up in a meeting, and then I…" Percy's voice trailed off as he took in the scene in the living room. Oliver stood, cringing in the middle of the room. On the sofa were his twin brothers, absolutely dumbfounded. Percy looked from one face to the other, his eyes impossibly wide as he paled. "Oh… Er… Hullo, Fred. George." He stammered, as color came rushing back into his face so fast his head started to spin.

"Uh, hullo." The twins chorused cautiously.

"I thought you were going out tonight, Perce." Fred managed in a strangled voice. George was still too shocked, sitting and staring, openmouthed.

"I am." Percy's voice was shaky, but there. What the hell are they doing here?

Oliver stepped toward him, making Percy change his focus from the twins to him. "We are. Go get ready, okay, Percy? We're expected and we don't want to be late." Percy took strength from Oliver's nearness, and the love he saw in the other man's eyes. Thanking every deity he could remember, Percy's eyes communicated his relief. Although flushed, his face was set in the cold, hard mask his brothers were used to; shuttered, and absolutely without expression. Unless you looked into his eyes- where fear, relief, and love shone clearly.

"Right. Thank you, Oliver." His voice had hardened as well. Oliver recognized the cold, prissy, hiding-my-emotions tone. The tone he heard so often as a student at Hogwarts was now colored with his knowledge of what was going on in Percy's head- and Percy was scared. Percy's black-robed form disappeared into the bathroom, and the door shut with a resounding bang.

Standing in front of the mirror a moment, Percy tried to get the shaking in his hands under control. What are they doing here- why are they here, why now, of all times? The thought raced through his head in circles. It wasn't that he didn't love his younger brothers, but them being here- especially now- was incredibly awkward for Percy. His relationship with Oliver was too new. Too scary, and too private. Fred and George were now in position to make his life miserable. Always before they had used any little thing that proved embarrassing, humiliating or generally upsetting for Percy to- well- embarrass, humiliate and generally upset him. Once the shaking in his limbs was under control, he mechanically folded the towel Oliver had left on the floor, and hung it from the bar on the back of the bathroom door. Finally calm, he slowly changed for his evening out with Oliver, putting all thoughts of the twins out of his head. Oliver would deal with it, and Percy was more than happy to let him- this time.

As Percy disappeared into the bathroom, Oliver turned back to his former teammates. Percy was scared- and someone was going to pay for that. Even if they were his friends Fred and George.

"Uh… Sorry, Oliver." The twins had shaken themselves out of the shock of encountering their older brother here.

"I don't think it's me you owe an apology to, George." Oliver crossed his arms over his chest and stared at each brother in turn, anger glowing in his eyes.

"George, maybe we should go." Fred tugged at George's sleeve.

"Yeah, okay. Thanks for the butterbeer, Oliver."

"Hold it." Oliver stopped the twins' attempted quick exit. "I am serious. Percy has been through hell and back lately. You have no idea…" Stopping suddenly, Oliver decided that this familial relationship was really up to Percy and the twins to fix. "Aw, forget it. The two of you probably couldn't understand." Oliver's voice held a note of bitterness, and his eyes still sparked with anger.

Neither twin had seen Oliver get this upset over anything. Not even when the Gryffindor team had lost a Quidditch match against Hufflepuff in Oliver's seventh year. Oliver turned away from them and crossed to the window. He stared out for long minutes before he started to speak, and when he did, his voice was low and intense. "I want you to think about what it would be like if the other suddenly wasn't there. Who is Fred without George, and George without Fred? Who are you without each other? How would you cope alone? And I doubt if either one of you could do as well for yourselves as Percy has done. Percy is simply the bravest person I've ever met." He paused before continuing, without turning around. "You should go. I don't want you here when Percy comes back."

The twins exited quietly, both a little shaken by what Oliver had said. Long after they were gone, Oliver still stood at the window trying to get his temper under control. He was astonished at the depth of his anger toward the twins, and their callous disregard for their older brother. He had watched it for years and said nothing. Until tonight, he had never felt so fiercely protective of another that it made him tremble with suppressed emotion.

"Ol? Oliver? Are you all right?" Percy had changed and returned to the living room. Noting the twins had left, Percy crossed to Oliver and wrapped his arms around Oliver's waist from behind. They were about the same height, and Percy could easily rest his chin on Oliver's much broader shoulder.

"Yeah, Percy." Oliver sighed and leaned into him. "I think I lost my temper there for a bit. I'm sorry." He stayed still a moment, reveling in the embrace. Then Oliver turned in Percy's arms and took note of what he was wearing. Oliver's eyes lit up as he smiled. "Wow. You look great, Perce."

Percy flushed to the roots of his bright red hair. "You like it?" He backed away from Oliver a little self-consciously. Percy had chosen a simple blue silk shirt that matched his eyes to wear with black leather pants. His careful shopping had been getting bolder in terms of color and style. He still tended to lean toward the darker colors- shades of blue and green, dark browns and black.

"Very much." Oliver felt the familiar flutter in his stomach when he was in the presence of the other man. Swallowing convulsively, he continued. "We should go. Or we could stay and I can see if that comes off as easy as it went on."

Percy's blush deepened. Oliver loved teasing Percy this way. Any gentle, barely scandalous thing he said made Percy blush and stammer. Their relationship was deepening slowly. Still, Oliver was determined to move forward at whatever pace Percy decided was comfortable for him. He knew he could wait, and this was too precious to him to rush. But it didn't stop him throwing out the occasional invitation, just to see Percy's reaction.

Gathering up their cloaks, Oliver ushered Percy out of his flat, and down the stairs. A light snow was falling as they exited on to the street. Oliver and Percy walked quickly towards their evening plans, all thoughts of Fred and George out of their minds. To Oliver's delight, halfway down the block Percy reached out and took his hand. Oliver brought their linked hands to his mouth and kissed Percy's as they talked and laughed together.

Fred turned to George as they watched the figures disappear into the early evening crowd. They had secreted themselves behind a large tree in a park across from Oliver's building to watch the couple depart for their night out. "So. Oliver and Percy."

"Yeah, looks like." Their faces were uncharacteristically subdued as they moved rapidly in the opposite direction, toward home.

Later that night, Charlie came upon the twins sitting silently, staring into the fire. Their parents had taken Ron, Harry and Ginny out to dinner and were not back yet. Charlie hadn't gone on the excuse he was tired from the trip, and while true, that wasn't the real reason he stayed home. He knew Percy was having a difficult time with almost the whole family home for the holidays, and he wanted to find a chance to speak to the twins without distractions. He hoped he could get them to leave Percy alone. When he found them sitting glumly in front of the fire, he thought he found the perfect chance. But as he studied them for a moment before speaking, he realized something was wrong. Their body language screamed 'upset- unhappy- defeated' and Charlie couldn't remember his mischievous brothers ever broadcasting those emotions to that degree before. Concerned, he pushed his worry for Percy to the back of his mind.

"Fred, George, why the long faces?" His light tone made them look up from contemplating the fire. As if on cue, they dropped their gazes back to the flickering low flame.

"We went to …"

"…see a friend today. Percy was there…"

"You went to see Oliver." Charlie supplied and smiled at their expressions of surprise when they turned to stare at him. So what was bothering them had something to do with Percy. How convenient. Perhaps he could warn them off, after all.

"You know about Oliver?" They chorused.

"I know Percy has been hanging out with Oliver a lot since he spent several days staying with him a couple of months ago. I know that Oliver has helped Percy come to terms with… a lot of things that you probably know nothing about."

"Oliver said some things like that…"

"Oliver said that Percy is the bravest person he'd ever met."

"Hmmm… Yes, I can see why he might say that. In fact, I think I would have to agree with him there." He paused, wondering how much he should say. Bill always was better at walking the line of what to divulge and what to keep back. Charlie sighed. "It's easy to be brave with someone… it's entirely different to be brave alone, and Percy has been so alone…" Charlie smiled gently at his brothers, and tried to combat the incredulity he saw in their faces. "The fears born of outside sources are sometimes easier to bear than those from within… Do you remember Erec?"

The twins blinked at the sudden change of subject. "Erec?" A moment of confusion before their faces cleared. "You mean our brother, Erec?"

"No. We don't remember him…" Fred said.

"We were only three…" George continued. "What does this have to do…"

"Yes," Charlie interrupted. "I know you were only three. Well, I was twelve when Erec died. I remember him. So does Percy. Better, I remember Percy- oh, not the Percy you know. Did you know that Erec and Percy were best friends? That they could rival the two of you as troublemakers and pranksters?" The twins wore almost comical expressions of disbelief. "Has anyone ever told you about them?" As they slowly shook their heads Charlie sighed again. No wonder they don't understand. Erec is just a name to them. They don't know. How can I make them understand how special Erec was? How special Percy is? "Percy was a bright, smiling, laughing child who followed his bestest brother everywhere." Charlie grinned at his unintentional use of their childhood name for each other. "Bestest. That was their word. Because for so long they were PercynErec like you are FrednGeorge. Closer than close. They shared everything. And then Erec died." Charlie's expression was sad as he gazed into the fire for a long minute before continuing. "Percy changed after that. I'm not sure any of us really realized how much. He became the lonely, awkward boy you two grew up to torment at every turn." He noticed the hurt expressions on their faces, and softened his tone. I'm saying this badly… I wish Bill were here, he's better at this… "I'm not saying you realized just how unhappy he was. He has been closed off for so long- so afraid… I don't think anyone knew exactly how difficult life has been for him without Erec. And I am not blaming you for what has been going on in his life. I mean, think about what it must be like for him. Bill and I…" The twins watched, fascinated as Charlie swallowed a little, shivering, as he remembered the long frightening nights when Percy's terror woke them from deep sleep. "Well, we've seen what its been like, a little. And it's worse than anything I ever thought possible. He lost the best part of himself fifteen years ago- if he's just now finding it again… If he has finally allowed himself a close friend in Oliver, I want you to let it alone. Let Percy work this out himself." He focused back on Fred and George, pushing the memories of Percy's personal hell away. He watched as the twins glanced at each other, silently communicating. When they turned back to him, he noticed that confusion stained both faces.

"But we saw…"

"…we think maybe they're…"

"Let it alone. It is truly none of our business." Charlie stared down one twin, and then the other. He didn't know if he'd gotten his point across, but he hoped he had. And if Percy and Oliver were… well, God bless Oliver Wood; Charlie for one was glad. Perhaps he'd write to Bill, still off in the wilds of South America, and appraise him of this new wrinkle in Percy's life. He knew Bill would want to know.

In bed that night, Fred couldn't sleep, and he knew George was awake, too. "Do you think they're right?"

"What? Who?"

"Charlie and Oliver. Do you think they're right, about us? That we'd not cope well if the other… I mean if I died, or you died…"

"Stop!" George's breath came in painful gasps as he sat up at the thought. "We are Fred and George." He said fiercely. "Whatever we do, we do together. Death is no exception!"

Fred smiled at the imperious tone in his brother's voice. "It is possible…" he started softly.

"No. It. Is. NOT." George could feel himself losing control. Fiercely, he continued. "Because if it is… You better pray that I go first, brother, because if you try to beat me there I WILL follow you, and I WILL kick your bloody ass!" He ended on a snarl that almost made Fred laugh. Almost.

Fred was silent for some long moments before George's breath hitched and Fred realized George was trying not to cry. Damn it, so am I, he thought. Determinedly, he slipped out of his bed and into George's. They held on to each other against the fears that first Oliver, and then Charlie had planted. It was perhaps the first time in their lives they had even contemplated it was possible they were not one person. That they could, and would, have different experiences, different lives, maybe even different deaths. "So you think maybe we owe Percy an apology?" Fred's voice was low.

"Yeah." George sniffled quietly for a moment. "Who'd have thought- our prissy Percy a prankster?"

Fred laughed hollowly. "Yeah… But no way could they have rivaled us!"

"Yeah. No way." George was quiet a moment. "You won't leave me alone?"

The question was so soft, Fred didn't know whether it was spoken aloud, or straight into his mind. He hugged the body of his twin closer, comforting him, tears stinging his eyes again with the thought of waking up one morning with his mirror, his self, his George gone- just gone. "Never." He promised.

Feeling better, they fell asleep, arms wrapped securely around each other.

The next morning just after dawn, when Percy was eating his breakfast at his traditional hour, he was surprised when Fred and George sidled into the kitchen. Flanking him, they sat at the table. Percy's back stiffened when he heard them coming down the stairs, and his face was set in his habitual cold, slightly irritated expression. He had taken to wearing his glasses at home again, and surreptitiously checked to make sure they were securely on his face. Surely, they were going to taunt him about last night. About seeing him at Oliver's. He dreaded whatever it was the twins dreamed up in their fertile imaginations to say to him. He mentally steeled himself for the attack. It never materialized.

"Percy…"

"We'd like to apologise." Fred and George each had their heads bowed and refused to meet his eyes. If they had looked up at him they would have seen Percy's face slack jawed with shock.

"Wha-at?" Percy managed to not choke on his toast. What are they playing at? He swallowed carefully before he asked again. "You want to do what?" Of all the possible things for Fred and George to say, 'I'm sorry' was the absolute bottom of the list.

"We'd like to apologise." George stated clearly.

"For last night at Oliver's." Fred supplied. "We didn't mean to make you… uncomfortable."

Percy was now regarding them with wariness, searching for the punch line in their gag. He glared at them in turn, eyes narrowing. "That's not funny. I don't know what your game is, but I don't appreciate it!"

"No game."

"Yeah, no game, Percy. We just want to apologise. For you know… being there." George completed lamely.

Percy spent a long moment staring from one face to the other, considering the possible pitfalls of believing the twins. He knew from experience that taking the two of them at face value was dangerous. Percy never knew when it might turn out to be an elaborate joke, designed especially to embarrass and humiliate. He didn't trust either one of them, and he chastised himself for thinking that way. They were his brothers. Like Bill and Charlie. Like Ron. But they were Fred and George. They were incorrigible pranksters. They never took anything seriously. And everything was serious to Percy. Ever since Erec died. His expression softened as he thought perhaps this once, Fred and George might be truly contrite. He cleared his throat a bit nervously. "It… It's all right. Really." He said cautiously.

Two identical faces raised to meet his eyes, with two identical genuine smiles. "Thanks, Percy." They rose from the table and moved quickly for the stairs.

Confused, Percy watched after them. "Wait. Where are you going?"

"Back to bed."

"This is a truly insane hour to be awake." Fred called back.

"Yeah, we're on holiday!" George smiled over his shoulder at Percy, following Fred out and they clattered up the stairs, back to bed.

Shaking his head a bit as if to clear it, Percy finished his breakfast in a slight daze.

*****

Percy was awakened early Christmas morning by Hermes tapping on his window. Oliver was away visiting his parents, and Percy had sent him his Christmas gift via owl last night. Apparently, Oliver had sent Percy's gift back with Hermes. Letting the owl in to rest and eat, he turned his attention to the package. With a delighted grin he carefully opened it. It was a framed picture of the two of them. Percy remembered the party, but he hadn't been aware that they had been photographed.

He felt a blush crawl over his face as he gazed at the photograph. They were sitting together in a quiet corner, talking. Oliver's expression was filled with love. His own face was flushed and happy. As he watched, their images leaned in to each other and they kissed, sweet and leisurely. The kiss deepened before they pulled apart, and Oliver lifted one of Percy's hands and kissed his palm, eyes never leaving the other man's face. Both faces had the high color of the beginnings of arousal; both sets of eyes glowed with love. Then he drew Percy into the crook of his arm and they sat there, Percy with his head resting on Oliver's shoulder, fingers entwined in a sensual dance with Oliver's hand, Oliver dropping comforting kisses in Percy's hair. Both of them wore expressions of total contentment. The magic of the photo started the loop again, and Percy's eyes softened. His blush deepened when he realized that Oliver must have arranged for one of the Tornados to sneak the photograph while Oliver kept him busy and unaware.

Oliver had planned this gift, this tangible reminder of the two of them together. Percy's heart swelled. He never thought being in love would be like this. He loved Oliver. He loved Oliver with a passion that scared as well as exhilarated him. He wanted to tell Oliver how much he loved him, trusted him, needed him… but Percy was not sure he would be able to find the words, or have the courage to say them once he found them. He knew he would have to find another way. And he had preparations already under way, a plan already in mind…

*****

"Oliver?" Percy entered Oliver's flat, hoping he would be home. It was two days after Christmas- two days he used to finalize his plan, and gather his courage. Oliver had gone to visit his parents on Christmas Eve, but was due back today. Percy was nervous. And cold. He shivered as he took off his cloak and hung it on the peg in the closet. Considering a moment, he sat and stripped off his shoes and socks as well. He wouldn't need them. At least Oliver's flat was warm; a fire crackled merrily in the fireplace. Good. He's home. He thought a lot in the last week or so, and decided that what he wanted was to move forward. He had been stuck in neutral for too long, not knowing what to do to take the next step. He let Oliver take the lead always, but he was finding that he wanted. He needed. He wasn't sure he knew what to do about it, but he was determined to remedy that tonight. He was prepared. Well, as prepared as he was ever going to get, anyway. While doing his Christmas shopping, he'd made a special trip back to that large bookstore and deliberately, with great seriousness and thought, picked out a promising book from the erotic fiction section- and another from the health section about the mechanics behind it all. For the last few days he stayed up late into the night studying them. He'd had no idea. None whatsoever that such things existed. That some of them were even possible was a revelation. It was also extremely embarrassing for him, but if he was really ready to take the next step, he wanted as much knowledge about what to expect as he could find. It all scared him so much. He wasn't sure if he wanted to let anyone that close. At the same time he wanted nothing more than to have Oliver that close. The only thing that scared him more was disappointing Oliver because he didn't know anything. He still remembered their first kiss and the mortifying admission that he didn't know what to do. He definitely didn't want to go through that again. So he studied. He was doggedly planning to seduce Oliver. Tonight. If he was brave enough. "Ol?"

"In here, love." Oliver's voice wafted through the small flat from the bedroom. Percy found Oliver standing in front of his open closet, barefoot and half dressed. Better and better, Percy thought. "I was thinking that we'd go over to the pub on Main… Meet some of the team… What do you think?" Percy's heart thumped loudly in his ears and his hands were shaking as he crossed to the broader man and wrapped his arms about him tightly from behind, effectively cutting off anything else Oliver was going to say. "Hey, what's all this then?"

Percy didn't answer, just began showering small kisses a trifle desperately onto the bare neck and shoulders in front of him, hands whispering over the muscled torso of his lover. When he started adding small swipes of tongue, tasting him, Oliver's spine stiffened and he tried to turn, but Percy held him fast. "Oliver?" Percy started to say between little nips and licks and kisses. "We won't…" kiss "…be meeting…" lick, nibble "…the team tonight…"

Oliver bowed his head forward to allow Percy full access. A shiver went through him as Percy's fingers brushed his nipples. "Oh…?" His voice was rough with arousal.

Percy stopped, almost overcome with nervousness, and whispered close to Oliver's ear, loosening his arms from around Oliver's body. "I can't do this anymore."

Oliver pulled away and turned, face going pale with shock, his stomach sinking as he processed what Percy said. "Wha…" He cleared his throat and tried again. "What?"

Percy gazed back at him with a very serious expression on his face. Brave. Be brave. You can do this. It's not hard… oh, maybe that was a bad choice of words. Percy blushed, sweating with the effort not to flee. Resolutely, he stepped forward into Oliver's space, and reached out and encircled him with his arms, splaying his hands open on Oliver's lower back. "I want more, Oliver." He murmured, pulling his hips in tight just before claiming Oliver's lips in a rough kiss. Oliver could feel the trembling in Percy's body. Backing away, Percy unconsciously echoed what Oliver said to him months ago. "I want you." Again he thrust himself forward and they kissed deeply. Oliver was forced to put his arms around Percy to keep his balance.

Oliver's eyes flickered closed as he melted into the kiss, he trailed his hands up Percy's body to tangle his fingers in that silky hair and cradle Percy's head gently in his palms. Passion flared brightly between them, and left Oliver with nothing but brief impressions. When he finally got around to unbuttoning Percy's robe, he found that Percy wore nothing underneath it. This was no spontaneous act. This had been planned. He laughed roughly at the effort and thought Percy had put into staging his seduction. How they ended up on the bed, he couldn't say. He was lost in a swirling maelstrom of sensation and touches. Amazing. Absolutely amazing. He's so beautiful and OH what is he doing? Don't stop. Please don't ever stop - How does he *know*… that is so… Oliver lost himself in it. Gave himself up to anything and everything happening around him. He'd had the odd lover here and there, but none of them could touch the depth of love he felt with Percy. And this was Percy. His scent surrounding him, his hands ghosting over him, his breath and tongue seeking out all the secrets Oliver's body had to tell.

Percy had never imagined anything could be like this. Not one of his long nights of studying prepared him for the sheer exquisite torture of making love with Oliver. Kissing, touching, licking, sucking. Everything was a new experience, something to be learned over and over, something to be explored thoroughly, slowly, with great reverence, and some joyous laughter. He could lose himself here, skin on skin with Oliver. Percy almost forgot himself in the fascinating activity of learning Oliver's body. He was concentrating single-mindedly on putting his knowledge, carefully garnered from the texts he purchased, to work on pleasing Oliver. He forgot that Oliver was determined to pleasure him as well. When Oliver finally would not be denied the joy of putting some of his own practical experience to work, Percy let him. Pleasure spiraled through them higher and higher until completion claimed them, crashing through them like a great wave.

Later, spooned together on the bed, Oliver held Percy and trailed his hands up and down the soft skin of his lover's body. He smiled and nuzzled the beautiful hair, and gently kissed Percy right behind his ear.

"Percy?" He whispered.

"Mmmmhh?" Bathed in the afterglow, Percy wasn't sure he could form a coherent thought.

"Exactly when did you decide to seduce me tonight?" Oliver smiled as Percy's ear flushed pink.

"Well… Er… I've wanted to - you know - for a long time. I just figured I…" Percy squirmed a little and Oliver held him tighter, marveling at his courage. "I… I found this book…"

Oliver burst out laughing. "You did what?"

"I found this book… Well, really two books…" The pink flush deepened and crept over Percy's skin. "I didn't want to wait anymore… So I read about the possibilities."

How very like him, Oliver thought, delighted. What a treasure. He researched how to seduce me… Hmmm… I wonder what books he used?

"Oliver?" Percy's voice was tentative.

"Yes, love?"

"You're not mad or anything, are you? That we didn't get a chance to talk about it first? I mean… I know you wanted to go slowly…" Percy was cut off as Oliver turned him over and kissed him lingeringly.

"I'm not mad." He said softly when he broke the kiss. "Did…" Oliver stopped a moment and a smile quirked his lips as he gazed into Percy's questioning eyes. "Did your books tell you about anything else you'd like to try?"

"Uh… OH!" Oliver chuckled as Percy figured out what he meant. Percy blushed profusely, but a speculative expression flitted across his face before he smiled. "Well, there was this one thing I thought might be interesting…"

"What?" Oliver was almost breathless in anticipation. He never thought Percy would be so… willing, uninhibited, and downright naturally talented in bed. And fun- don't forget fun. Maybe it's because he's never done this before… he's so beautiful. He did this for meOliver reflected, awed. And he knew he was privileged to receive the results as Percy studied the arts of loving. This… This gift he has given me… I only hope I am worthy of it- of him.

"Why don't I just show you?" Percy said almost coyly. Oliver groaned at the tone in his lover's voice. He was more than willing to be the guinea pig in whatever practical, hands-on experience Percy felt he wanted.

"Oh… Okay…" Definitely breathless. Oh, yes. Oliver felt he would be learning a lot from Percy in the next few weeks… months… years, if he was very lucky- and very, very good…

*****

Molly Weasley was doing the laundry. Having so many home for the holidays made for enormous amounts of laundry. Ginny helped with the mending, using it to practice and refine her mending charms, and Charlie helped with the actual washing, but Molly liked to do the folding herself. It helped her assess who was growing out of what, and when they all needed new underwear and socks. It was while she was taking the freshly washed, and folded clothes up to her sons' rooms that she found the photograph. She stopped in Percy's room last and paused at the desk to pat the box lovingly before going back downstairs.

Her heart still longed for the little son who never had the chance to grow up. Each year on his birthday, and the day he died, she remembered him sadly. Most of the other days in the year she was able to push thoughts of him to the back of her mind, thinking of him often but not lingering on the thoughts. Stopping by the desk and patting the box, peering into it when Percy left it open, had become a habit. She also gently stroked the photographs in the album that inevitably lay open next to the box. But today there was a third item on the desk, a frame laid face down. Molly knew she shouldn't, that Percy had left it lying that way for a reason, but she couldn't help herself. She picked it up and turned it over tentatively. Her breath caught in her throat as she beheld a Percy she hadn't seen for far too long, sitting with another man who was obviously besotted with her son. The love they had for each other was almost palpable. This must be Oliver Wood. This man who has done so much for Percy- this man loves him. And Percy loves Oliver.

"Mum?" Charlie noticed his mother standing stock still in Percy's room through the open doorway, laundry piled neatly on Percy's bed. He came up beside her. "Mum? Are you all right?" As he drew up next to her he noticed the photograph. So the twins were right. Percy and Oliver are… Wow… completely in love. Charlie smiled as the images of his brother and his brother's lover cuddled into each other, oblivious of everyone around them. No way Percy knew that photograph was being taken. Oliver must have asked someone to sneak this.

She turned to her second-born son with a tinge of guilt in her eyes. "I shouldn't have looked." She murmured. "It seems this is something he wanted to keep private. We shouldn't have seen."

"It's all right, Mum. I know about them. Well, sort of. I mean Fred and George sort of already told me."

"You knew?" Charlie saw the hurt in his mother's eyes that he had kept something this important from her.

"Well, not really. But Fred and George went to Oliver's unexpectedly and got the shock of their life when Percy was there, too. They had no idea."

"Do you… Do you think it's about time your father and I met this Oliver Wood? It looks like he is quite a fixture in Percy's life."

"Yeah, that sounds good. But you might want to invite Oliver to dinner one night without telling Percy first. Otherwise who knows when you'll meet him."

Molly smiled up at Charlie and winked. "Right you are!" Carefully laying the photograph back down on the desk she shooed her son out of Percy's room and gently closed the door. As she went back to her housework her heart was lighter than it had been in quite a while. She guessed she didn't need to worry so much about Percy. It seemed he was doing quite well. After the events of that fall she thought gratefully he was doing quite well indeed.

*****

"Percy?" Oliver whispered to the drowsy form curled in tight to his side. Each time he woke with Percy beside him it was a thrill. It had been only a few days, such a short amount of time since Percy's carefully staged seduction. That this was his- that Percy was his- never failed to make Oliver happy. Percy was delightfully innocent, and at the same time- not. Having had very little sexual awareness, he had no preconceptions to overcome, and he moved into a sexual relationship with an uninhibited passion Oliver had never experienced before. At the same time he kept their relationship very private, not as though he were ashamed of it, more as if he was scared it would all disappear if he admitted it to himself. Oliver didn't mind so much that Percy hadn't really told anyone about them. He knew Fred and George knew, or suspected very strongly. And the team knew. How could they not after all the time they spent with them, and the photograph he asked the Tornado's Keeper, Marisa Bock, to take without letting Percy know? Much to Oliver's chagrin, the whole team had seen that photograph. His Christmas gift to Percy. Marisa had shown them because she said it touched her so much, she had to share it; some of the witches had even become teary-eyed over it. A couple of them lamented that no one had ever done something so romantic for them.

His teammates all said the same thing when inviting him out- 'Make sure you bring Percy.' They had sort of adopted Percy. They genuinely liked him, and he always had interesting things to talk about. Something other than Quidditch, which was rare in their small circle. But Oliver was quite sure Percy hadn't told the rest of his family. It was fear, Oliver knew. Fear that they wouldn't approve. Fear that they would think less of him for whatever reason. Fear that they would turn away from him just when he was beginning to be able to let them in. "Perce?"

"Hmmm?" Percy was almost asleep. He was warm, and well loved, and Oliver held him in his arms. Here was a place he would be forever safe. Here was a place he could just let go of all the expectations, all the fear, all the masks he wore regularly. Here he could be just Percy. Erec's Percy. Oliver's Percy.

"We're playing the Chudley Cannons next week."

"I know."

"I'm on the roster for the match." That woke Percy up in a hurry.

"You are?" His eyes were wide and glowing with happiness.

"Will you come see me play?"

"Of course." Percy wiggled a little in excitement. "You're really going to play?"

"Hey, Marisa deserves a match off every once in a while- besides, it's the Chudley Cannons. It's not like we'll need her." Marisa Bock was the first string Keeper for the Tornados.

"Indeed." Percy grinned at him, eyes dancing.

"I… I was thinking…" Oliver suddenly sounded nervous, and he refused to meet Percy's eyes. "Percy, why don't you ask your brothers to the game?"

"What?" Percy's body went so still with shock Oliver turned to him to make sure he was breathing.

"Bring your brothers. Ginny and Harry too, of course. I… I'd like them to come." Oliver plucked nervously at the bedclothes waiting for his answer.

"Do… Do you think they'll want to?" Percy had withdrawn inside himself. Although he hadn't physically moved Oliver could feel the distance opening between them. "I mean… Do you think they'll want to go with me?"

Oliver suddenly hugged Percy hard. He's afraid they won't want to spend time with him! He continually pushes past his fear. Gods, he's strong. He is stronger than I'll ever be. "Yes!" He reassured Percy with kisses rained down on his face. "Please ask them. Please?"

Flushed, Percy gazed into Oliver's eyes. He is my courage. I'd do anything for Oliver. "Okay. I'll ask." Now I just have to figure out whether I want them to say yes or no…

*****

At breakfast one morning, just after the new year and less than a handful of days before the Hogwarts students would be returning to school, Percy appeared at the breakfast table looking vaguely ill at ease. He was dressed in crisp black trousers and a dark green shirt, and he flushed at the questioning stares from his family. He usually ate a lot earlier then the rest of the family, and he usually wore his ministry robes to breakfast.

"I… I am taking the day off today." Silence descended as he spoke. "I'll be going to the Quidditch match between the Cannons and the Tornados." He was a bit disconcerted by the intense scrutiny. "I have enough seats for everyone if you'd like to accompany me." There was a long moment of silence before Ginny broke it.

"You're taking a day off, Percy?" she asked softly, with a small smile.

He blinked at her a moment. "Uh… Yes, Ginny. I am taking the day off." He paused, eyes unsure. "Would you like to go to the match with me?" He sounded so wistful and doubtful that she would actually say 'yes' that she grinned up at him sunnily.

"Of course I'll go with you. Is Oliver playing today?"

Percy relaxed a little before shooting a sheepish glance toward Ron. "Well, yes. They are playing the Chudley Cannons, after all. They'll hardly need the first string." Ron flushed in defense of his favorite team, even if their standing in the League was somewhere in the sub-basement. Harry put out his hand and restrained Ron from retorting and perhaps ruining their chances to go to the match.

"We'll all go, Percy." Ginny spoke for them. Molly and Arthur begged off, and Charlie had already gone back to the Dragon Preserve, so she wasn't quite correct. But with six, it was a rowdy group of redheads, with Harry's hair shining black in sharp contrast, they made their way from the Burrow to the match.

Floo powder took the little group to Diagon Alley, where they used a portkey to the Quidditch pitch. Percy was strangely quiet as he ushered them into one of the top boxes in the stands. He kept noticing small sidelong glances from his siblings. Percy grew increasingly uncomfortable as they watched the spectators pour into the stadium and waited for the game to begin. Perhaps this wasn't the best idea he'd ever had- Oliver had ever had. As the teams were introduced, Percy stood and shielded his eyes, searching for Oliver. When he found him, his breath caught. His hair gleamed darkly golden against his pale blue team colors. Oliver was announced in the lineup of players- he would be playing as Keeper in Marisa Bock's place.

Percy noticed that one of the beaters and two of the chasers were reserves as well. He looked over them critically for a moment. Oliver had told him all of his teammates strengths and weaknesses as players and as Percy recalled all the various statistics he could remember about them, he saw how well this second team could work together. Nodding to himself, he didn't realize he had voiced his approval of the choice of players for the Tornados until he caught the odd glances he was drawing from his siblings. Harry just smiled and asked a couple of pointed questions about the players he didn't recognize. Percy was grateful that Harry seemed to accept Percy's knowledge as something he just expected. Thinking back, Percy couldn't ever remember Harry being surprised by anything- or if he was surprised, he sure hid it well. Perhaps because he'd been raised by Muggles, he just ceased being surprised once he knew for sure the magical world existed- and that he was destined to be part of it. Or it could be the way he always seemed to be in danger through no fault or choice of his own. Having a crazed evil monster like You-Know-Who constantly after you would tend to change your perspective on what is and is not surprising, Percy thought.

As the match began, he put these thoughts out of his mind and concentrated on the game. It helped that once underway his brothers focused all their attention on it rather than him. Ginny sidled over to him and slipped her hand in his, asking him quiet questions about the players he knew, and why their strengths and weaknesses made them so good a team. Her questions were not intrusive to their mutual enjoyment of the game, in fact their low conversation seemed to enhance the experience for both of them. Again he contemplated his sister, so young, yet seemingly so wise. When had she grown up? He wondered, marveling at her self-possession and poise. Percy wondered idly if girls were naturally more confident, but then he remembered Oliver had always seemed confident also. Perhaps it was something that had been left out of him, then. Some flaw in him that he couldn't see. Or maybe it was something that died in him when he lost Erec. With a slight mental shake he turned his attention back to the thrashing the Cannons were getting.

The Tornados won, of course. Percy had the good grace not seem too pleased around Ron. It amused him that Ron was unswervingly loyal to a team whose motto went from being "We Shall Conquer" to "Let's all just keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best." But then, Ron always was loyal. It was one of the best and strongest traits in his youngest brother. Nothing, not even a century long losing streak, could swerve his hope and loyalty. He led them out of the stands to the entrance to the players' locker rooms and there, they waited.

As the locker room emptied, each team member found a reason to say hello to Percy and smile at the small group.

"Hey, Perce. Glad you finally came to game. Ol will be out in a second."

"Percy! Oliver's just talking to the coach. He'll be out any moment."

"Per-ci-val, m'man. You comin' out with us to-night?"

As each team member clapped Percy on the back, or shook his hand, or kissed him on the cheek, he could feel the incredulity and uncomprehending stares from his brothers. Ginny seemed to take it all in stride, as if Percy being on a first name basis with the Tutshill Tornados was nothing unusual. Harry just grinned at each player and found a moment to speak with the Seeker, who, having heard about Harry's playing from Oliver, was more than happy to discuss the game.

"Percy- it's so good to see you! Did you come to see Oliver play? Marvelous match wasn't it?" A tall witch sauntered over to the little group. She included all of them in her welcoming smile, so Percy introduced them.

"Yes, Marisa. Marisa Bock, these are my brothers, Fred, George and Ron, my sister Ginny, and Harry Potter. This is Marisa- she's the first string Keeper for the Tornados."

"Hi. How could I not know who you all are? I went to Hogwarts with your brother Charlie. Played against him too. I was on the Hufflepuff team." She chuckled a little, and they chatted until, flushed, wind-blown, and glowing with triumph, Oliver found them.

"Percy!" Oliver grinned and wrapped his arms about Percy from behind, squeezing gently. "I'm glad you asked them to come. I told you they would say yes." He spoke intimately in Percy's ear, nuzzling him. Percy flushed and stiffened a bit but didn't pull away. Good. He's getting used to this. He's getting used to us. Oliver smiled up at them all, eyes still bright with the win. "Hullo everyone. Marisa bending your ear? Don't believe everything you hear- especially from her!"

She laughed and swatted at him. "You two joining the celebration night?"

Percy turned in Oliver's embrace slightly and they stared into each other's eyes a moment before Oliver replied. "No, Marisa. We have plans. We're having dinner at the Burrow tonight." Percy paled a bit, his eyes suddenly unsure. Oliver also noticed the surreptitious glances and uncomfortable stares from the direction of the other Weasley's. Oliver produced a bit of parchment. "I was invited. I got this from your mum this morning." Percy smiled, albeit a bit uncomfortably.

Ginny broke in unexpectedly. "Well, then. We best not keep Mum waiting." She stepped closer to Oliver and smiled slightly.

She knows. And there's no surprise there… Oliver saw the gentle acceptance of everything in her eyes. She knows, and likely has known for quite a while. I wonder how long? He contemplated this youngest Weasley sibling on the way back to the Burrow. None of them were quiet, and Ginny was no exception, but there was a reserve there. She took in everything, but he sensed she knew when to keep her own council. Oliver thought back to the shy girl he remembered from school. She had certainly grown up. And her eyes missed nothing. He was curious. Maybe he would have a chance to talk to her at dinner.

Dinner was a raucous affair. Oliver was sandwiched between Percy and Mr. Weasley. Next to Mr. Weasley sat Harry, and Oliver and Harry both were peppered with questions concerning a variety of different subjects from Quidditch scores to racing brooms to a strange assortment of Muggle artifacts Mr. Weasley brought home from work to try to puzzle out. Percy was occupied talking to Ginny and his mother, discussing Ginny's options for internships so she could decide what sort of career she would have after Hogwarts. Fred and George were subdued, but they had their heads together over something. Probably a practical joke- or one of their Wheezes, thought Oliver. The only Weasley who seemed a bit out of sorts was Ron.

Oliver kept feeling Ron watching him, which was disconcerting enough without Percy rubbing his foot up and down Oliver's leg under the table. He had never thought his lover could be so unexpectedly bold. True, Percy would never be a blatant exhibitionist, but then Oliver was finding out things about Percy no one would ever guess to look at him. He constantly surprised Oliver with the reserved sort of passion he let only Oliver be privy to. And right now, Percy was busy eating his dinner, talking to his mother and sister and, almost as an afterthought, arousing his lover- all at the same time. Oliver was only thankful that his face was wind burned enough so the flush creeping over his skin wouldn't be all that noticeable in the dimly lit room. Percy had expanded his collection of erotic literature and had even shared some of what he had read with Oliver. He especially liked it when Percy read aloud from whatever story he was immersed in. Inevitably, they would make love for hours after that. But now was not the time to be ruminating over Percy's study materials; his single-minded pursuit of erotic lovemaking. Especially with almost the whole Weasley family surrounding him. And Ron was staring at him again. Half listening to Mr. Weasley, he watched as Harry leaned over and poked Ron in the side to get his attention.

"Why do you keep staring at Oliver?" Harry whispered as Ron leaned in close. "It's not his fault the Cannons lost."

Ron rolled his eyes. How like Harry to fix on the game itself. "You saw them at the match!" He told his friend quietly.

"So?"

"Well. Oliver and Percy are… Are... You know!" Ron felt a blush stain his cheeks, and he squirmed a little in his seat.

Harry raised an eyebrow. "Again, so?"

"Oliver and Percy?" Ron squeaked, staring as if Harry has grown an extra head.

"Ron," Harry sighed, glanced over at Oliver and found him watching them. He smiled a little at his former team captain before turning his attention back to his best friend, who right now was acting like a total prat. "So what? So what if they are? They obviously have pretty strong feelings for each other. What's wrong with that?"

Ron shifted uncomfortably. "Nothing, I guess."

"Right. Nothing. Are you going to eat your potatoes or just play with them? They're delicious!" Harry turned his attention back to the very interesting conversation Mr. Weasley was having with Oliver about the chances England would have to make it to the World Cup, and his opinion of the American sport of Quodpot. They seemed to be of the same school of thought that anyone, be it team member or spectator, who needed the extra excitement of having the playing ball blow up was distressingly mentally unbalanced.

After supper Ginny excused herself to do the dishes. Ginny was the only Weasley who didn't mind washing up. She found it quiet and soothing, and none of her brothers bothered her when she was washing dishes. She was so used to washing them the Muggle way that even after she got a wand she preferred to be able to immerse her hands in the soapy water. It allowed her time to think uninterrupted. Oliver, seeing his chance, slipped away and joined her in the kitchen.

"I'll dry, if you like." He offered.

She glanced up at him, a small smile playing at the corners of her mouth. "As you wish."

Oliver dried as she passed dishes to him and he set them gently on the counter. As the dirty dishes lessened and the clean dishes piled up he kept stealing sidelong glances at her. She was not unaware of his scrutiny, but she was able to wait him out. "How do you do it?" he said at last, unnerved by her silence.

"Do what?"

"Seem to know everything that goes on around here. You were the only one at the match completely comfortable with… us."

"You mean your relationship with my brother?"

Oliver let out a low whistle. "You don't pull any punches do you?"

"I can't afford to. Not with that lot around. I've got to hold my own, y'know?" She smiled as she gestured to the other room where her brothers were arguing vociferously, but Oliver got the distinct impression she was a bit tired of being underestimated by her rowdy siblings. "They think I don't know anything. Almost like I don't have ears. They all see me as the baby, still. As if I couldn't help but know just about everything that goes on around here anyway. It's not as if any of them are quiet about anything!" She broke off a bit sheepishly. Then she gazed at him speculatively. "Oliver?"

"Yes?"

"Do you love him?"

Oliver choked and almost dropped the dish he was holding. Setting it down carefully, he turned to Ginny and considered her question seriously. She was blushing, but she held her ground. She styles herself his protector, he thought. It's like facing down a lioness. So very loyal. Woe to any who seek to harm him. I wonder if any of her brothers know what a treasure they have in this small sister of theirs. Oliver cleared his throat, his expression softened, and he was surprised that there were tears flooding his eyes. "Ah…" He breathed. "So much, Ginny. I love him so much it hurts."

Ginny looked surprised, but then she smiled brilliantly, her eyes glowed with excess emotion and a few tears escaped, sliding down her cheeks. "Oh… I didn't expect that!" She laughed at herself, turning back to the suds and water. "I am glad, Oliver."

Neither one of them noticed the tall form that quietly withdrew from the kitchen doorway. He hadn't overheard the whole conversation, just the brash question and the bit about Oliver loving him. Percy stood undecided for long moments before slowly slipping out the door to gaze up at the stars. The cold crisp air burned a bit as he breathed it in, shivering- he had neglected to take his cloak, but he was loath to go back inside to his loud family. Oliver loved him. It was frightening and exhilarating and he didn't know whether to laugh or cry- or maybe both. It was a clear night- one of those nights that the stars seemed close enough he could reach up and pluck them from the sky.

"Did you hear that?" Percy whispered out into the night. "Did you hear that, Erec? Oliver loves me." He was silent for long moments. "Oh, I wish…"

"What do you wish, love?" Oliver had crept up behind him and, in the process of wrapping his arms about Percy's slender body, placed his cloak around his shoulders. Percy stiffened in surprise before relaxing back into the embrace.

"I didn't hear you."

"I know." Percy could hear the smile in Oliver's voice. "I saw you from the window. You weren't wearing your cloak. I didn't want you to get cold."

"I was just standing here thinking I wish Erec was here. I don't think I'll ever stop missing him."

"I know. I wish I'd known him." They were silent for a while, each lost in his own thoughts, content to stand in each other's embrace.

"Oliver?"

"Hmmm?"

"I heard what you said. To Ginny. In the kitchen. I didn't mean to eavesdrop. I'm sorry." Percy was staring down at their hands, linked across is torso. Oliver tightened his grip around Percy.

"There's nothing to be sorry for, love. I love you. If I haven't said it before it's only because…"

"Because you're afraid I won't be able to accept it? That my fears would keep me from loving you back?"

Ginny isn't the only perceptive Weasley. "Well, yes. And because I wasn't sure you were… ready for that."

"I… I think I am, Oliver." Percy turned in Oliver's embrace to look him in the eye. He licked his lips, nervous and a little scared. His voice softened to a whisper. "Would you… would you say it again?"

Oliver dropped his gaze to their hands. Bringing first one palm, and then the other to his lips, he kissed them, and then laid his cheek in the curve of one sweet hand. Catching Percy's eyes again, he spoke softly. "What? That I love you? That I am so crazy in love with you I don't know whether I am coming or going half the time? That I don't care where we end up as long as it's together? That I can't-" Oliver's declaration was cut off as Percy, tears leaking down his face kissed him, long and lingeringly.

Inside the house, Ginny watched them through the window and sighed happily. Someday she would find someone who loved her as much as Oliver seemed to love her older brother. Someday, she would have someone of her own to cherish as much as Percy adored Oliver. That was the kind of love worth waiting for. The once in a lifetime kind.

Fred and George noticed her staring out the window, and stood with her for a moment, looking out at the couple. They watched as the embrace deepened, became more passionate. Oliver tangled his hands into Percy's silky hair, and Percy had his arms wound around Oliver's body. For once, Fred and George were quiet, almost contemplative. Curious, Ron also peeked out the window. Blushing red, he turned away, and clearing his throat noisily he excused himself for bed. Harry merely glanced through the window before smiling at Ginny and the twins, and followed his friend upstairs.

"Don't stare children. It's not polite." The three of them whipped around and found their mother watching them watch Percy and Oliver. She smiled gently at them. "It's late. Don't you think it's time for bed?" She came over and stood beside them, peeking out at the couple in the yard, blissfully unaware of anything but each other. Then she closed the curtains and shooed them upstairs to bed, content that Percy was finally happy.

And we'll never lose faith
And we'll never lose heart
For you have restored my trust
And I know you're afraid
I'm as scared as you are
But willing to be brave
Brave enough for love

-from "Brave Enough for Love" from the musical Jane Eyre (Paul Gordon/John Caird)

Fin.

And yet more Author's Notes: So there it is. Whew. The end... for now. When I started this, it was supposed to be a three-paragraph exploration into Percy's character. While working on another project suddenly Ron became a seventh son, and all this started as a bit of back story on what happened to that child. Boy, did I get more than I bargained for!

In my own opinion Percy is one of the most interesting characters. He is awkward, prissy, and comes off as a self-important snob. He says all the wrong things. But his actions speak for him better than anything that comes out of his mouth. He feels things deeply, and seems unable to allow anyone close to him. How lonely he must be! Exploring the whys and hows of his life has been a tremendous experience. I hope you all liked the journey as much as the destination- it was as sweet for me as for you, as I discovered where we were going as we went along. I really didn't have any idea the three paragraph back story would turn out to be such a monster, and that it would end up being slash, as well! But well, Oliver and Percy had different ideas!

In case anyone is wondering the soundtrack for Percy's story (all three parts) includes (but is not limited to), in no particular order:
Unsuspecting Hearts from the musical "Carrie" taken from the CD by Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner titled (funnily enough) "Unsuspecting Hearts."
Live With Somebody You Love from "Martin Guerre"- also heard from that same Emily and Alice CD.
All of "Aida" by Elton John and Tim Rice.
All of "Jane Eyre" by John Caird and Paul Gordon.
You Walk With Me from "The Full Monty" by Terrence McNally and David Yazbek.
Only Love, When I Look at You, and You Are My Home from "The Scarlet Pimpernel" by Nan Knighton and Frank Wildhorn.
No One Knows Who I Am and In His Eyes from "Jekyll & Hyde" by Leslie Briscusse and Frank Wildhorn.
Your Daddy's Son, Coalhouse's Soliloquy, and Back to Before from "Ragtime" by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and Terrence McNally.
Alone in the Universe from "Suessical The Musical" by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty.

Bits of "Floyd Collins," "Side Show," and "Titanic (Broadway musical version!)" also, but as I don't have the CD's sitting in front of me I can't properly attribute them to their brilliant authors/composers. I am certain there was other music that inspired me, these are just a smattering of what I listened to while writing this.