fifteen things percy weasley hides from others (and himself)
It is at the funeral when he realizes that he will spend forever trying to make it up to Fred. He's not sure how exactly he plans on doing this – but he starts by sliding an arm around George's shoulders, gripping him tightly and keeping his head down. He's never been particularly close with George – or Fred, for that matter. Or any of his siblings, actually. They were all so loud and messy and had different goals than him – but here and now, with George shaking silently and everyone crying and Fred fucking gone, he realizes that none of that matters. This is his family. This is his brother, this is what matters.
And when it's his turn to approach the casket to throw in his rose, he leans in and whispers, "I'll take care of him, Fred, I promise," and feels a whisper of a wind cross his face – and thinks, for the first time since this whole thing ended, that maybe things might turn out all right.
He spends the summer after Fred's death working at Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes and it is the most terrifying summer of his life. He becomes the main experimenter for George – who has become fervent in his grief to accomplish every idea Fred ever had – and spends weeks with hair that changes colour to fit his mood, gloves that make his fingers do crude things and refuse to come off, an odor that came from somewhere George refuses to explain, and a strange painful tattoo of a squirrel that moves around on his body and likes to bite him when he's trying to sleep – among many other things. It is a hard summer and a painful summer and sometimes he and George stay up late drinking in the back of the shop and it is then that Percy remembers why he works there. Because George needs him. And, in a way, Percy needs George too.
It is when he is working at the shop that he sees Oliver Wood for the first time in a very long time – and he's wearing an orange apron that clashes horribly with his red hair and George spelled his name wrong on his nametag – his own brother spelled his name wrong on his own fucking nametag – and the squirrel has taken to sitting on Percy's neck – and Oliver takes one look at him and completely bursts into laughter before asking to see George.
It is then that he decides to dislike Oliver Wood.
He makes his mother a Weasley sweater for Christmas that year, the year of Fred's death, and it has everyone's initial on it and it takes him five months to make it because it turns out that knitting is bloody hard and she cries.
And he cries too.
George finally fires him (it's out of pity and they both go out to celebrate it) and suddenly Percy finds himself applying for a job at the Ministry and suddenly Percy is Hermione Granger's assistant. He used to think she was the most sensible out of Ron's friends at school but now he finds out that she's actually quite intimidating with her knowledge and her limitless orders and honestly, when did she get so sodding bossy? They spend quite a lot of time working, staying far later at the office than anyone else in the Department of Regulation of Magical Creatures, and sometimes she has the gall to make him fetch tea – but he's never felt more satisfied than when they get a movement passed on Goblin rights and she looks at him and smiles wide and says, "Good job, Percy. Really, excellent good job."
He curses quite a bit these days. Mostly to himself. Mostly because he thinks Fred would approve. Also because it's actually rather nice to shout, "FUCK," when he stubs his toe or his Quidditch team loses.
Speaking of, he still hates Quidditch. He pretends he doesn't, because he knows his brothers all love it and he wants to fit in (and also sometimes when it's late at night and he's scanning through the pages of a Quidditch magazine, he can sort of see the appeal of it all) (especially when the magazines contain articles on a certain Keeper for Puddlemere United). But deep down, Percy thinks it's pointless and stupid and risky and a bunch of fools flying on twigs.
It takes Ginny the longest out of all the Weasleys to forgive Percy, and that burns him. It is an entire year of ignoring him at Christmas – ignoring him at every single Weasley dinner – of pushing past him and making snide comments and returning his owls unopened until finally she's outside and he walks out and he can't help it any more –
"What do you want from me?" he demands shrilly, voice catching and breaking.
She stands there with her back to him, hair shorn clear off (Mum says she's going through a 'phase.') He barely knows his baby sister any more and he has to wonder – did he ever in the first place?
Finally, just as he's about to give up for good, she whispers hoarsely, "I miss him, Perce. I want him back."
"I – I can't bring him back," says Percy, and he wants to crumble, but he doesn't. He has to be strong (for Fred, always for Fred).
"I know you can't."
"Are you…" he doesn't know what to say. "Going to hate me forever?"
And slowly she turns, eyes red and damp. "No," she whispers. "I just… Everyone accepts that you've changed, and maybe you have, but I still remember when you weren't there. When everyone was… when I was… so upset."
"I'm here now," says Percy, taking a step forward, and his expression is pleading, his eyes are wide and his shoulders hunched with her resentment. "I'm trying so much, Gin, but I don't – I don't know what else –"
"Fine!" she shouts and the word breaks what he was saying, forcing him to stand upright with surprise outlined in his features. "Fine, you complete git, I'll fucking forgive you," and then she's flying at him and throwing her arms around him and he clings to her, his eyes squeezed tightly shut. "Just don't ever be such a thickheaded prat again," she growls in his ear and he chokes back a laugh.
"Yeah, Gin. Yeah, I promise."
Oliver lets him be weak.
It was his mother's weariness that turned him into who he is. He clearly remembers the haggard looks she used to wear when he was little – and then when the twins came, the looks only increased in tiredness and frequency, until that's all she seem to be. He yearned for a way to make her smile, to make that burden disappear, if only for a little bit – and then suddenly, he found it. He found it in cleaning his room for her, and then in studying hard, and then spouting off random bits of knowledge for her. It was only for a second that the look disappeared but that second was a lifetime for him. Only later, when everyone's grown up and the weariness has almost all but disappeared, she doesn't seem to remember how much he tried. She laughs at Fred and George's stories, the ones that seemed so horrifying when they were happening, smiles fondly at Charlie's strange pets, the very same that were such a mess to take care of when they lived in her house – does not mention how much he tried to please her with his neatness and fussiness and tattle-telling.
Maybe it is that that helped push him over the edge, in the war.
Despite his utter hatred of it, Percy can't help but love listening to Oliver talk about Quidditch – can't help but adore it as he lies in the bed next to him after a rough shag, his fingers idly sketching a pattern on Oliver's skin as Oliver talks about what he loves best about the game. He makes little hums and sighs in all the right places as Oliver rants about the other teams – rants about his teammates – rants about his own fumbles. He loves catching Oliver offguard, right in the middle of a heated story, with a fervent kiss, pulling him down on top of him and dragging his hands through Oliver's thick hair.
He loves the idea that his kisses can distract Oliver from something he loves more than anything in the world.
He loves thinking that maybe, just maybe, that might mean that Oliver loves him just a little bit more than he loves Quidditch.
Percy can admit that maybe he's not the best with children, despite the fact that he grew up with four younger siblings and two older ones. They're sticky and messy and they fixate on sodding everything. They make him want to pull his hair out – but he can also admit that when little Teddy Lupin changes his hair come dark brown to bright red to match his, his heart melts just a tiny bit. Whatever.
His boggart, he realizes two years and fifteen days after Fred's death, is his family ignoring him entirely. The worst one is George's and Oliver finds him cowering in the middle of the floor, knees drawn up to his chest and hyperventilating as the boggart flashes from Weasley to Weasley, all of them spewing filth at him.
Oliver's boggart, as it turns out, is an arena of booing fans. Percy's broken laughter startles even him and then the boggart is gone and Oliver's arms are around Percy, holding him tight and rocking him back and forth.
"You're all right," he keeps repeating. "You're all right, Percy, they love you. Your family loves you, they love you."
"Some Gryffindor I am," says Percy into the crook of Oliver's neck, his eyes shut tight and his arms around Oliver's neck. He's not scared any more but he doesn't want to move either, so he keeps this information to himself.
"Percy," says Oliver, and he moves enough that Percy moves too – and then Oliver kisses him, warm and slow, his scent encasing Percy like nothing else. "You're the bravest Gryffindor I know," he says.
"Rubbish," says Percy at once. "You know Harry Potter."
"Fuck Harry Potter," says Oliver just as quickly. He leans in, pressing a warm kiss to Percy's jaw and Percy wonders how this famous Quidditch player ever became interested in boring old Percy Weasley. "You admitted you were wrong – you came back when it counted, you stood up for what you believed in, even if what you believed in was a little askew at the time. And, Percy, I love you."
It's the first time Oliver's said it. "You're ridiculous," says Percy, blinking at him. "And you shouldn't. And also, I love you too."
The first time he stops disliking Oliver Wood is on the second anniversary of Fred's death. He's raging drunk and sitting in a Muggle pub, completely alone. George has learned not to be around Percy on this particular day after the first anniversary of Fred's death – in which their grief fed off one another and grew and grew until both were vomiting in completely uncouth places – and so Percy is alone, completely pissed out of his mind.
And suddenly Oliver Wood is sitting on the barstool next to his, looking dashing and rugged and moody and rather as though he doesn't recognize Percy at all. "I'll have what he's having," he says to the bartender and then looks at Percy sideways. "You look like you're having a bad night, which is nice because so am I and you know what they say about misery."
"Oh, goodie," says Percy. He gets sarcastic when he's drunk, as it turns out. "A party. Let's get hats."
"I don't look good in a hat, you know," muses Oliver as he receives his drink and sips it, wincing slightly. "I look good on a broomstick. I look good when people are cheering. But not really so much in hats, surprisingly."
Percy leans in. "Lemme tell you a secret."
"What?" and Oliver lifts his eyebrows.
"I'm a wizard," says Percy, sitting back with an impressed look.
Oliver snorts. "Percy, we shared a room for seven years. I know this."
"Oh," frowns Percy. So Oliver recognized him after all. For some reason, that bothers him greatly. "So why then are you upset?" It comes out mildly slurred, but overall Percy's rather pleased with how he's holding up.
"Just got dumped," says Oliver cheerily, lifting his glass up. "You?"
"Anniversary of my brother's death," and for some goddamn reason beyond him, Percy lifts his glass up, knocking it against Oliver's.
Oliver just sits there. "Oh," he says. "Oh. That's… you win."
"Yeah," says Percy, not at all bitterly but rather matter-of-factly. "I win."
"Well…" says Oliver, looking hesitant now. "Want to get drunk together?"
"I'm already drunk," says Percy promptly.
The corner of Oliver's mouth curls up and something heats up in the pit of Percy's stomach at the exact same moment. He wonders what he could do to make Oliver smile more like that – and then tries to shake that idea of his head, instead looking down into his glass and feeling his face darken as Oliver says, "Well, I could get drunk and you could get more drunk then. What do you say?"
"Why?" asks Percy, not looking up.
He can almost feel Oliver shrug. "Because I'm lonely."
And then Percy does look up and he sees a beautiful face and muscled arms and lost eyes. "Good enough for me."
He decides to stop disliking Oliver Wood, just because.
It is on the fifth anniversary of Fred's death that Percy visits his grave for the first time by himself. Sure, he had gone with his family – he'd been there for the funeral certainly. But on his own? Never. It had all felt like too much, too overwhelming – and now here he is, wearing one of Oliver's jumpers for comfort and his wand is in his hand in case he has to Apparate away immediately – and he walks warily up the grass to the top of the hill, staring down at the weathered stone with apprehension.
And feels… nothing.
Well, no, that's not right. He feels grief. He feels the sort of melancholy sadness one feels for something long gone. He feels a strange sense of happiness that his brother is resting in such a beautiful spot.
But there is no tidal wave of sorrow, no sense of drowning or helplessness.
"I protected them," Percy murmurs, hands deep in his pockets now. "I kept them all safe for you, Fred. Especially George. I think he's better now, even with you still gone. I'm going to see him later on – the first… anniversary since…" he trails off, chest tightening. He may not be crushed by sadness, but he still misses his brother like hell, still wonders what Fred would think if he saw him here, now.
He stays there for a long, long time, wrapped in Oliver's too-big jumper, the wind rushing through his hair and rippling over the grass.
And when he turns to go, at long last, his chest is lighter and it's almost as if a whisper is following him as he walks down the hill – "You protected them, brother, but I've protected you as well," – and Percy Apparates away once he reaches the bottom, blinking back tears.
He is greeted with a warm kiss by Oliver at their shared flat, and he decides that yes, things will definitely be all right, after all.
a/n: Percy doesn't get enough credit. I'd like to think Fred's death changed him into someone that could be his own hero. Also, I die a little inside at Oliver and Percy's cuteness, seriously though.