A/N: Week 2 of the Year of Gift Giving. Written for Laura, one of my shipping soulmates.

He doesn't want to enter the Burrow. The family is in mourning, and Oliver fears he might intrude on their grief, something so personal that he has no right to see. But Percy wants him there, and Oliver will always follow.

Mrs. Weasley greets him with a shaky, broken smile. Her eyes are red and puffy, her cheeks stained with tears. Oliver isn't surprised- they're burying her son soon, after all- but it's still strange to see such a strong woman so lost and vulnerable. "Percy said you might drop by, dear," she says hoarsely.

Oliver nods mutely. His mouth opens as though he might say something, but the words die in his throat as he's ushered inside.

"He's in his old room."

Again, Oliver nods, resting a hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry about Fred," he says softly.

There's that weak smile again, like she can't quite wear her strong mask. "Such a sweet boy," she says fondly before dissolving into tears.

Oliver wants to stay a little longer, but he's rubbish at finding comforting words. Biting the inside of his mouth, he mumbles one last sympathy before starting up the stairs, hesitating outside Percy's door.

Aside from the final battle, he hasn't seen Percy in months, not since he'd thrown the redhead out after learning the truth about Percy abandoning his family. "You love them. If you can turn your back on them, what's to stop you from doing the same to me?" Oliver had demanded.

Regret turns his stomach acidic. In retrospect, it had been selfish, overly dramatic.

Sucking in a shaky breath that fails to steady his nerves, Oliver opens the door without knocking, stepping into the obsessively tidy room. "Perce?"

Percy stands before the mirror, fingers fumbling with his tie. It had been Percy who had taught Oliver to tie a tie. Seeing him struggle with it now is the first indication that Percy isn't as okay as he pretends to be.

"I can't do it, Oliver," he says helplessly, looking up at his guest. "I try and try, but I can't. It won't work." He slings the strip of fabric- magenta, like the joke shop robes- to the floor with a heavy sigh.

Somehow, Oliver gets the feeling Percy doesn't mean the tie. Even if it's what Percy is referring, Oliver knows it's much deeper. "Here," he mumbles, reaching down and plucking up the tie, draping it around Percy's neck.

His movements aren't as delicate and graceful as Percy's usually are. Oliver has always been more about swift action. But he forces himself to use as much care as possible as he loops and tugs. The end result isn't very neat- a touch too loose, just a little bit uneven- but Percy doesn't seem to notice or care.

"Are you sure it's the tie you're having trouble with?" Oliver asks, very aware of how close to Percy he still stands.

"What else would it be?"


Percy flinches away, turning his back to Oliver as though the word has physically hurt him. His shoulders tremble, and Oliver thinks he might be crying, but when Percy turns again, his eyes are completely dry. It's like he wants to break but can't bring himself to do it.

"You've gotten better at that," Percy notes, touching a thin finger to his tie.

"Don't change the subject," Oliver says firmly. "Your brother just died. You're allowed to feel, you know."

A wounded expression falls over Percy's face, and Oliver inwardly curses himself. Sometimes it's easy to forget that Percy is human. Despite his strive for perfection and his constant professional air, he's just as vulnerable as anyone else. Now, Oliver fears he might have crossed a line and touched a frayed nerve.

"It's my fault," Percy croaks, finally giving in to tears.

Oliver tips his head to the side in confusion. "What is?"


A frown pulling at his lips, Oliver grips Percy's shoulders tightly, forcing his focus. "You didn't kill him, Perce."

"I distracted him with a bloody joke that wasn't even funny," Percy insists, hot tears fogging his glasses. "If I'd kept my stupid mouth shut, he'd still be alive. It should've been me!"

Heart breaking, Oliver listens in silence. He doesn't like feeling helpless, but there are no words he can offer to ease this pain. But he can't just stand there and do nothing, so he does the only thing he can.

The kiss is gentle. He works his lips against Percy's slowly, praying the action can do what his words can't. Percy clings to Oliver, deepening the kiss. He tastes of desperation and salty tears.

The two tumble onto the bed, clashing and pawing at clothes all the way until Percy breaks the kiss. Over his crooked glasses, his pleading eyes find Oliver's. "Please," he whispers.

It's something they have done countless times. When they lived together, Percy had spent many nights in Oliver's bed. Truthfully, Oliver's missed it, almost as much as he's missed Percy, and his control threatens to crack. Breathing heavily, he trails his fingers over Percy's exposed hipbone, swallowing dryly.

The timing is all wrong. Even if Percy thinks that fucking away the pain is the answer, Oliver knows it will do little good.

Reluctantly, he rolls off Percy, propping up on his elbow. "We should go," he says quietly, wishing things could be different.

"I can't," Percy sniffs.

Oliver takes Percy's hand, pressing a kiss to each knuckle. "You can," he murmurs against silky skin. "We can. Together."