For Round 5 of The Word Limit Competition
2500+/-100 words, "Take the Chance"
"I… Oliver, I'm not so sure about this."
Oliver grins. "Oh, no. You're not getting out of this again, Perce. I can't believe it's taken nearly four years to get you on this pitch – you are not backing out now!"
Percy is shaking his head. "Ol, brooms and I do not get along. This is not a good idea."
"On the contrary, my friend," Oliver chirps, far too cheerful. "This is an excellent idea!"
Oliver laughs, and then he summons a pair of brooms from the shed – he doesn't dare go and get them, because he knows Percy well enough to know that he would jump on the opportunity when he could and take off. Percy calls it using his resources.
Snatching both brooms easily out of the air, Oliver glances down at his own broom and the school broom. He hesitates only a moment before offering Percy his own broom, and he sees Percy's eyes widen.
Oliver shrugs, grinning. "It'll be safer this way. Mine's smoother."
But Percy hesitates. He knows as well as Oliver does that Oliver doesn't offer his broom lightly. He's a little bit touchy about his broom, usually. And maybe it doesn't mean a whole lot to Percy, but Oliver can see that Percy knows that it means a lot to him.
"Are you sure?" he asks carefully.
Oliver nods, offering it again. Percy smiles softly and wraps his hand around the warm, smooth handle. But the minute Oliver lets go, Percy's trepidation returns.
Oliver laughs again. "Seriously, Perce! Just… Look. You trust me, right?"
"Of course I do."
"All right. Then listen. I am not going to let you fall. Okay?"
Percy blinks. "Oh," he says softly. "Okay."
And Oliver can see that Percy still isn't so sure.
"I promise you." Percy scans Oliver's face, and Oliver isn't sure what he's looking for. "Take the chance, Perce," Oliver murmurs softly. And after a moment, Percy nods.
Oliver knows that he's got that stupid grin on his face, but he really can't help himself. Flying is his everything, and Percy is his best friend – though it took them a while to get there. The fact that these two things, two of the most important things in Oliver's life, have remained so long separate has been a source of constant irritation, but Percy is remarkably stubborn when he doesn't want to do something.
Fortunately, Oliver himself is also very stubborn when he wants something, and his persistence appears to have finally paid off.
Percy shifts his grip on Oliver's broom so that both palms grip the surface of the handle. He stares at it as though he's a bit afraid it might bite.
"I'm not sure I can do this," he whispers. There's a moment of silence, and then Percy meets Oliver's eyes and simply asks, "Why?"
"Because I want you to understand why I love it."
Percy glances back down at the broom in his hands. He grins somewhat wryly. "If you were anyone else…" he mutters.
Oliver can't help but laugh. "Good thing I'm not, then."
One side of Percy's mouth twitches. Oliver grins easily at his evident amusement.
"Are you ready?" Oliver asks.
Percy shakes his head. "Let's do this." Laughing at the contrast, Oliver goes to show Percy how to position himself on the broom, only to find that Percy's already got perfect posture.
Oliver blinks. "You've done this before," he accuses.
Shrugging, Percy murmurs somewhat defensively, "I know how. I just… don't. I don't like to."
"When's the last time you've flown?" Oliver asks as a frown skitters across his face.
Percy counts in his head with his eyes and then says, "Seven years."
Percy shrugs again. "It was only my second time on a broom – Bill was teaching me – and he said I was a natural. So he finally let me go higher, and a wind whipped up out of nowhere." He rubs his left wrist. "I cracked a couple of bones, and, yeah, Mum healed them right quick, but I can't forget the feeling." He shudders. "Bones aren't meant to crack," he says. "And I don't think people are meant to fly, either."
Oliver shakes his head. "See, that's where I don't think you and I will ever agree, Perce. Lines were made to be crossed. Laws were made to be broken – whether they're laws of physics or laws of government."
Percy raises an eyebrow. "Why do you know about physics?"
"I've got a cousin who's into Muggle knowledge like that. Why do you… That's not the point of what I was trying to say!"
Percy snickers, and Oliver scowls at him lightly.
"Anyway," Oliver says pointedly. "I think the only limits on what we can do are those we set ourselves. And yes, maybe sometimes that's a good thing – like morals, and stuff like that. But sometimes we limit ourselves to what we believe we are capable of without knowing that we are capable of so much more."
Percy blinks. "Who are you, and what have you done with Oliver Wood?" Oliver laughs, and Percy frowns. "I'm serious," he adds. "I don't think Oliver has ever said something that deep before."
Rolling his eyes, Oliver says exasperatedly, "Perce."
Percy smirks. "What?" he asks innocently.
Oliver just shakes his head, still laughing. And then he sobers. "Hey!"
Percy blinks as innocuously as possible – which, with him, is pretty impressive. He's always had a particular talent at looking responsible for absolutely none of the havoc around him, which always makes Oliver laugh, because Percy is the person who needs it the least.
Oliver scowls at his too-oblivious friend. "You are way too good at putting things off."
And Percy can't help the second smirk in less than five minutes from crossing his face. He doesn't say a word – he just arches one eyebrow elegantly.
In retort, Oliver reaches up and ruffles Percy's red curls in the way one would a child's hair. Percy's smirk morphs into a scowl.
"Fly," Oliver tells him. "I won't let you fall."
And Percy scans Oliver's eyes for a minute, two, and then he nods. Oliver is rather surprised when he notices that Percy's hands are steady on the handle as he rises from the ground, Oliver right after him.
Percy hesitates in his ascent for just a moment, at about five meters off the ground, but he's not a Gryffindor for nothing. It's not often Oliver sees the Gryffindor in Percy, but every once in a while – when Percy gets it into his head that he's going to do something, nothing can stop him. Nothing at all. Not fear, not worry, not logical argument, not hell or high water.
It's one of the first things that ever made Oliver decide that he actually kind of liked Percy – even though he hated it at first. Because single-minded dedication to one thing can be bloody annoying. But when Oliver figured out that Percy didn't mean anything by it, that was just the way he was, it actually became a somewhat impressive trait.
And when Percy rises past that five meter mark, it's like a wall falls down. And Oliver watches – remaining a safe distance beneath Percy as a sort of safety net – as the tiniest little smile crosses Percy's lips. Oliver beams. He really, really just wants Percy to understand how amazing flying is.
And it's in that moment that Oliver realizes that no matter how long he tries to deny it, he is royally screwed, because he is completely, totally head over heels for his best friend.
"Not so bad, eh?" he calls up.
Percy grins down at him, balancing carefully. "Could be worse, I suppose."
Oliver laughs, easily maintaining his position. "You just don't want to admit you were wrong."
Facing forward again, Percy say, "Oh? And what, precisely, do you think I was wrong about?"
"Oh, not think. Know. People are meant to fly, Perce. Think about it – even in history, Muggles and Wizards alike have never been able to resist the sky."
"Just because we can't resist it," Percy says, "doesn't mean it was made for us." But even as he says this, he's drifting up toward the sky.
"Just because it's dangerous, doesn't mean we shouldn't embrace it."
"That's you. Not me. I'm not like that."
Oliver shrugs easily. "Maybe not," he says. "But I think you could be."
Percy laughs, and the motion causes him to wobble slightly. His eyes widen and his grip tightens on the broom.
"Careful," Oliver warns, somewhat nervously. If laughter could make anyone fall off a broom, it's Percy.
" 'Course," Percy agrees. "But I'd've thought you knew me by now, Oliver. I'm not exactly the type of person to embrace danger."
Oliver chuckles. "Maybe you've got a point there."
"Don't I always?" Percy asks.
Oliver can't help but laugh again, shaking his head. "Most people wouldn't believe me if I told them you were cheeky."
Percy grins at him, and then suddenly time tips and slides. Oliver blinks, and he's not even sure how it happens, because he doesn't see it begins. One moment Percy is balancing on the broom, and the next moment he's no longer in contact with it – he's no longer in contact with anything.
Oliver doesn't have time to think. He doesn't have time to calculate risks, probabilities – not that he's likely to do that even if he does have the time. But he doesn't have time to consider multiple actions. Merlin, he doesn't even have time to decide on one course of action. It's not like he makes a conscious decision to lunge sideways off of his broom, because he doesn't. He instinctively crosses his ankles and latches them together and then dives without any actual choice. He just does it. His fingers close tightly around Percy's wrist – his grip slips, tightens, and then snaps taut as his fall stops abruptly when his ankles catch on his broom. The broom jerks downward with the sudden addition of another person, but it holds well enough that Oliver can direct it toward the ground, even as he hangs from the underside.
When he deposits Percy onto the grass and tumbles down beside him, Oliver can feel his pulse everywhere and hear the quick, deep breaths from both of them. He waits for a moment, letting his heartbeat settle into a familiar, steady rhythm before he speaks.
"I did promise," he says.
Percy laughs hoarsely, still clearly a bit terrified. "That you did," he agrees. He takes another few breaths before saying, "You could've gotten hurt. Ol, you could have died, from that high up."
Oliver looks at him. "There's no sense in examining what could have happened."
Shaking his head, Percy says, "No, that's not… I… I was just kind of wondering why that was your instinct. It goes against all self-preservation instincts."
And now Oliver's the one nonverbally disagreeing. "No it doesn't." He shrugs, not sure he can explain, and absolutely certain he can't explain without sounding ridiculously sappy, because the thing going through his mind is, I don't even know who I am without you anymore. That's the self I was preserving. But he can't say it without sounding utterly ridiculous, and so he doesn't.
Percy furrows his eyebrows, perplexed. "In what way doesn't it?" he asks – because that's how Percy is. He wants to understand, most especially with thought processes.
Oliver shrugs again. "I don't know that I can explain," he says. "Just… In that moment, there were no other options." Because he knows Percy won't be satisfied with an I don't know, and it's true. There were no other options. There wasn't time for other options.
"There are always options, Ol."
"Fine, then," Oliver concedes. "Maybe there were. But not for me. Not in that instant."
Percy surveys Oliver's face very intently, as though perhaps the answer is hidden there to the question that Percy always wants to ask and Oliver never knows the answer to – why? Percy has always wanted to understand why things happen the way they happen, why people do the things they do.
Oliver isn't much of a why person. He doesn't need to know why – he just accepts things for the way they are, mostly because he thinks that wondering why all the time might drive him crazy. Oliver believes that there are somethings that a person can never find the answer to why, and that searching for it would be a fruitless, unrewarding task.
Percy, on the other hand, is an intensely curious person, and he cannot seem to satisfy himself with anything less than absolute knowledge about every potential side of any situation. He doesn't believe in going uninformed, and he doesn't believe in settling for what people will tell him – he needs to find out for himself, too.
Percy tilts his head, which is propped up on his elbow as he lays on his side in the grass. Oliver shifts to match his position, hyper-aware of just how close they are but unwilling to move if Percy's not going to.
"Tell me, Oliver," Percy says quietly. "Why do you really want me to fly?"
Oliver shrugs as best as he can in the position he's in. "Because these are two of the most important things in my life – flying, and you," he admits carefully. "And I don't like that they're separate."
And Percy's eyes are scanning Oliver's face again, very intently. Oliver can practically see the gears whirring behind Percy's blue eyes. He watches things click into place, and for a moment, Oliver wonders if he's finally said too much.
Still, even if he has, he can't bring himself to regret it. They had to get here at some point – and Oliver knows that he's utter rubbish at keeping secrets. He was bound to let it slip at some point, and Percy's wicked perceptive. So much so that it's downright annoying, at times.
And some part of Oliver knows that Percy is not the type of person who will let something like love ruin a friendship. That's not how Percy is.
So as Percy connects the dots in his head, Oliver does not look down, and he does not look away. He is a Gryffindor, and he will act like it, because he is not afraid of his best friend.
Because of this, Oliver can see the exact moment that Percy comes to a decision. He couldn't say how he knows, but instinctively he does, so he's really only a little bit surprised when Percy speaks ever-so-softly.
"Take the chance," Percy murmurs, echoing Oliver's earlier words. But, somehow, Oliver doesn't think that Percy's speaking to him – a notion that's supported by Percy's next action. Ever so hesitantly, Percy leans forward, and then suddenly his lips are on Oliver's.
Oliver is immediately convinced that those three words are the best inspirational speech he's ever given.