Disclaimer: I do not own Oliver or Percy, but I profusely thank the great JK Rowling for creating them.
Oliver cannot remember the first time he observed the sunset from his balcony. Maybe it was two years ago, when he and his roommate first checked out the apartment, and Oliver noticed the bright light slanting over the hardwood floor in shimmers of ruby coming through the window. Maybe it was one year ago when his mother called him crying, telling him her shame of having a gay son, and he had stormed out onto the balcony to throw his cell phone into the river below. Maybe it was three months ago when he started college for the second time, and was promoted at his job, and it was his first day back from a never-ending stream of long days. All he knew was that he needed this time now, standing out on his balcony to watch the day end, to calm down.
Like a ritual, Oliver would walk in the door of his apartment that he shared with his coworker and childhood friend, make himself a cup of coffee, and stand out in the evening light on his balcony, allowing the stress of the day to slowly drift away from him. He would wait there until his roommate came home, dropping his phone and keys on the kitchen counter with a loud clang, complaining about the day even louder (complaints Oliver had already heard during their lunch break). Oliver would stretch his neck, close his eyes and sigh, and set down his coffee mug on the small table outside, and go in to help make dinner for the two of them.
Oliver cannot remember when he first saw the man standing on the bridge. Each evening the man would walk to the middle of the bridge and set down his briefcase to lean against his leg as he turned to face the sunset. He had materialized into the scenery as if he had always been there. Oliver couldn't remember when he first noticed the man, nor could he claim that he ever saw the man leave. Oliver would go inside and eat dinner with his roommate, and by the time dinner was done and the dishes were cleaned, the man would be gone. Why would Oliver take any real notice of an inconsequential someone on the bridge as he goes to collect his wayward coffee mug? The man was a blurry figure in a painting; the real focus being on the scenery, the way the light sparkles on the water that rushes by cobblestone streets.
Oliver could remember when he first met the man. He was running late, night having already descended when he made his way over the bridge, a plastic bag holding two Styrofoam boxes of Chinese food. He had run out of food that morning, and would not go grocery shopping for another three days, when the weekend hit and he had time to run through each aisle, checking the sale items and coupons his roommate would collect over the course of the week. Oliver had been dragging his feet, shoulders slumped from another stressful and interrupted day at work. His roommate had looked nearly dead though, so Oliver had volunteered to pick up dinner for the both of them, leaving his roommate at the subway station to find his own way home. It was there, on the bridge just a little ways from his apartment, that he ran into the man, literally.
Hands had reached out to catch the food, the briefcase the man held dropping to the ground with a clunk of something valuable hitting a hard surface. The man was warm standing this close in the cold air, and tall, taller than even Oliver who was by no means vertically challenged. He had shockingly red hair cut close to his head, and for just a moment Oliver had the epiphany that the color of the man's hair matched that of the sunset just before it dipped out of view over the river. The brown eyes, hidden underneath a thick pair of glasses, sent a steady warmth into Oliver. The man was polite. He handed Oliver the food, who accepted it almost mechanically, and ducked his head in a murmured apology before he disappeared down the stairs of the bridge and into the dark alleyway by the coffee shop. Once the initial embarrassment had worn off, Oliver had thought nothing of it, and had continued to his apartment where his roommate met him at the door, hands out and mouth salivating, wild-eyed and starving.
Oliver saw the man again the day after that, and the day after that. He could see the bridge from his balcony, and so he could see the man. While he stood outside in the dying light of the day, enjoying his evening coffee, he watched the man, back turned to Oliver and gazing out at the horizon as if he wanted to reach out and grasp it. The man always stood straight, one hand on the bridge railing, the other holding his briefcase that would knock against his leg every now and again. He was an anomaly to Oliver, who knew nothing about him and why he stood there every evening.
And that was when Oliver really noticed the man, and wondered about the man. Always, everyday, he stood on the bridge, as though waiting for someone who never came. A few minutes after sundown, the man would pick up his bag and walk down the steps to the other side of the river, and disappear into one of the alleys on the street. Oliver wondered if he lived in one of the small apartments above one of the smaller shops, and wondered then why the man couldn't just look out the window at the sunset. Oliver wondered about why the man stood, waiting, on the bridge day in and day out.
Then he would get annoyed. At himself, at the man, at work, at school: he didn't quite know. But Oliver would set down his coffee on the outside table, and walk back inside to the clamor of his roommate and the smells of dinner cooking.
However it started, and whatever Oliver could remember, small thoughts, small questions, began to filter through his mind, first invading as he watched the man on the bridge, and then trickling down into his day. Oliver wondered while he was at work, while he was at school, while he was waiting for the subway to take him to the station close to his apartment. Oliver realized that instead of going outside and relaxing with a warm cup of coffee, he was going outside to watch and wonder about the man, coffee neatly forgotten on the railing.
Oliver's roommate called from inside the apartment that dinner was ready, and Oliver left his mug on the railing, heading inside with a last look at the man walking down the steps of the bridge and into the darkness. The sunset was gone and so was the man.
Oliver could remember when he stopped seeing the man. He had two tests that day, and a major paper due at the end of the week. Work had been hectic, and his roommate had skipped out to go see his family for the week to celebrate the birth of his niece. Oliver waited well into nightfall, no mug in his hand with drifting scents of coffee to calm him down after a long day at work. He never saw the man that night, or the night after that, or any of the nights that week. His roommate came home and found Oliver sitting on the concrete of the balcony, arms wrapped around his knees, staring out at the bridge. When Oliver didn't acknowledge him, he went back inside to make dinner and left Oliver's portion sitting on the table.
A long and uninterrupted month passed, the days blurring together, and Oliver could not remember when he started waiting on the bridge, looking out to the horizon as though it was just beyond his grasp. His roommate had given up on him, not having the patience to wait with Oliver when the man was not talking, and not having the stomach to wait for Oliver, choosing to eat his meal and start on his own work. Oliver hadn't had a warm meal for a month now, always entering the apartment to a cold plate sitting on the kitchen table, and his roommate raising an eyebrow to Oliver's silent state.
Oliver could remember the first time his roommate yelled down to him from the apartment balcony. Oliver was standing in the middle of the bridge, backpack sitting at his feet, filled with books and his laptop and class notes. Oliver had turned to look up at his roommate, who was watching him from above with a worried frown darkening his face, but Oliver couldn't really see it in the shadows, or just didn't care, and turned back to the sunset.
The sunset was bright, and dark spots flashed before his eyes, like freckles upon cheeks. The horizon reached out with short fingers that looked like strands of hair slowly being grown out to lightly brush warmth over his eyes. Oliver didn't understand. He had only met the man once, not enough to really wonder about him. But he did, and he worried, and waited on the bridge every evening for freckles and red hair and brown eyes hidden beneath heavy glasses.
Oliver could remember the first time the man approached him, appearing at the end of the bridge and making his way towards his spot, which Oliver had neatly rooted as his own. The man was wearing jeans and a crisp blue polo shirt, no briefcase in his hands, nor glasses that rested upon his nose. He didn't face the horizon as he usually did, but stood before Oliver.
Oliver could remember the tightness in his chest, the trouble he had breathing as he turned to face the man who had disappeared like a phantom but who had refused (aggravatingly enough) to do the same from Oliver's thoughts.
Oliver could remember the first time he noticed that the freckles that spattered over the cheeks continued on to cover the nose, and the way the brown eyes sparkled in the light of the streetlamps, and the shy way those lips smiled as Oliver exclaimed, "You're the man from the bridge."
"You're the man from the balcony," the man responded, peeking out from underneath his bangs, which had grown into messy curls spilling down over his ears and the back of his neck.
"Fair enough," Oliver nodded. He stuck out his hand. "Oliver Wood."
Though the smile was shy, the hand shake was not. "Percy Weasley."
Oliver could remember the first date he had with the man, this Percy Weasley. They went to the coffee shop across the bridge from Oliver's apartment, where Percy had spent most of his waking hours typing reports for his company, and spent his sleeping hours in the small room above. Percy did not live there anymore, was in the process of moving to a better apartment that was within walking distance to his job in the corporate world. He would miss the little coffee shop though and the nice old woman who owned it. He would miss the calm atmosphere and the lazy river that ran beside the street.
Oliver teasingly asked if he would miss the sunsets on the bridge. Percy had smiled at him and shook his head. "I think I found what I was looking for," he had murmured hesitantly, shyly looking into his coffee mug and not at Oliver.
"What about you?" Percy asked after a brief moment of silence.
Oliver could remember the first time words failed him, unable to snap out a witty comment or a charming remark. He could remember the first man who had so completely disarmed him that Oliver couldn't answer him for a stretch of time; but when Oliver found his voice again, found his response, Percy's smile was blinding. Oliver then reached out to tug playfully at Percy's hair, stretching it out to catch the vivid light of the setting sun streaming in through the window and couldn't tell the difference between the colors.
Months later Oliver could still remember the first sunrise he ever saw coming through his bedroom window, as red as the hair splayed out on the pillow beside him. He smiled and leaned down to wake Percy in the best way possible, content to know that there would be many more sunrises to share with his lover.
The horizon was for those with the courage to reach out and grasp it, and Percy was liquid fire in his arms, an eternal sunrise and sunset.
Oliver would miss his roommate who lived on the third story of the apartment building by what he had playfully termed Sunset Bridge. Oliver would miss the sound of the river lulling him to sleep at night, and miss the meals his roommate would cook. He would even miss the coffee shop that he had only been to once.
He had no need to miss the bridge, no need to miss the balcony, no need to miss the view of the horizon, when he held the vibrant light of a setting sun in his arms every night, and kissed the glowing warmth of a playful sunrise each morning.