During his fifth and sixth year at Hogwarts, Percy loves Penelope with an intensity that he swears rivaled all the great love stories, Muggle or otherwise — Arthur and Guinevere, Tristan and Iseult, Romeo and Juliet.
He wants to map out the freckles on her back, discover new constellations only he can name. He wants to wake up next to her every morning, have her face be the last thing he sees each night. He can envision their future— both with jobs in the Ministry; she rises to be head of an office, he becomes the Minister of Magic.
When he tells her this a few weeks before she is temporarily Petrified, Penelope gives him a long look. "You realize the three relationships you named all involve either death or betrayal, correct?" she asks at last. "And did you take into consideration that I might want to be Minister of Magic myself—"
She must see something in his face, because her expression softens and she stops. She touches his cheek gently. "This is why you’re in Gryffindor and not Ravenclaw, Percy," she tells him. "Gryffindors have that streak of romanticism in them."
Percy doesn’t know it yet, but that moment signals the end of the relationship. They break up two weeks after the start of their final year. Penelope is quiet but controlled, using reasons like N.E.W.Ts and a relationship being a distraction as justification for her ending things.
Percy is too stunned to do much more than numbly wander back towards the Gryffindor Tower. He finds himself wondering if perhaps he’s been bitten by one of the Nightmare Passion Vines and is trapped in a bad dream. One minute he’s been made Head Boy and everything is looking up, the next minute a crazed murderer has escaped prison, Dementors are all around the school, and Percy’s girlfriend has thrown him over. It’s been a bad few weeks.
When he gets up to his dormitory room, only Oliver is there. He’s scribbling something hurriedly on parchment. Oliver looks up, a ready smile on his face. It dims a little, and Percy absently wonders what his face looks like, to make Oliver look at him with such concern.
"Percy? You all right?"
"Penelope ended it," Percy says curtly, turning towards his bed before he can see sympathy start to replace Oliver’s concern. "It was probably for the best," he continues. The numbness is ebbing, replaced by loss. He wishes Oliver were anywhere but here so that Percy can throw himself on his bed and have a good cry. Despite what the twins might say, a bout of crying can be quite cathartic. "We have N.E.W.Ts this year, and I’ll need all my concentration to get top marks—"
"Hey," Oliver says.
Percy doesn’t quite flinch when Oliver touches his shoulder, but it’s a very near thing. Oliver leaves it there, his hand a warm, heavy weight, and Percy tries not to squirm. It’s odd though, this gentle touch from another boy. His brothers will rough-house and slap him on the back; even their hugs are usually violent and shift into wrestling matches more often than not.
"I’m sorry about Penelope," Oliver says quietly. "I know how much you liked her."
There’s something in Percy’s throat, a lump of considerable size; he has to swallow a few times before he can actually speak. "I was going to ask her to marry me after graduation," he says. He tries to laugh, but nothing comes out but a pained, ragged breath. "Foolish of me."
Oliver gives him a little shake then, which feels much more familiar. "You’re not foolish, Percy. You two just weren’t on the same page. That doesn’t make you an idiot or Penelope heartless. It just means…that sometimes love is hard." Oliver’s words are soft, an unfamiliar tone creeping into his voice.
Some of Percy’s numbness finds itself replaced by confusion rather than pain. In nearly seven years of sharing a dormitory room, that string of sentences is the most Percy’s ever gotten out of Oliver that wasn’t related to Quidditch.
Percy turns, meets Oliver’s warm brown eyes. "Thanks," he says after a moment and tries to smile. He must partly succeed, because Oliver smiles back and lets his hand drop from Percy’s shoulder.
It seems like having a good cry is out of the question, so Percy searches for another distraction. He glances over Oliver’s shoulder at the parchment. "What are you working on, homework?" Even as he asks, he knows it’s a ridiculous question. Oliver keeps his grades just high enough to stay on the Quidditch team, no more, no less.
"No," Oliver says with a wry grin. "I was going over some plans for this year’s Quidditch team." He pauses, a familiar gleam in his eyes. There’s the Oliver Percy knows, the one who eats, breathes, and sleeps Quidditch. "I know you’re not keen on Quidditch—"
"I enjoy watching it," Percy protests, nettled. This is something his brothers never bothered to learn about him. "I just don’t enjoy playing it. And you’ve seen me with a broom."
Oliver fights back a laugh, but his lips are twitching wildly, unable to suppress a smile. They both remember well Percy’s disastrous encounter with a broom during their flying lesson first year. "Okay, I know you’re not keen on playing Quidditch, but would you mind listening to a few ideas? I always work through plays and strategies better when I’m talking to someone."
That’s as good a distraction as any, Percy supposes. He sits down on his bed. "You’d probably be better served with the twins," he says, and Oliver waves a hand.
"They’re not serious enough. They want to win, of course, who doesn’t, but they also want to have fun, spend their free time chasing girls or playing pranks." Oliver scowls and begins to pace. "They don’t understand that they need to devote all their time and energy to this if we’ve any chance to win the Cup this year." He begins to pace. "We’ve got to win the Quidditch Cup this year!"
All their time and energy besides what they should properly devote to their studies, Percy is tempted to say, but one look at the red color creeping into Oliver’s face convinces him he shouldn’t point that out. Instead he leans back against his pillow and says, "So you’ve been thinking up a few moves?"
"Yes," Oliver says, his eyes almost fever-bright.
Percy listens to Oliver’s ideas, watches the other boy pace back and forth across the room, his gestures wild and full of sweeping movements. Percy inserts a few suggestions— he’s watched enough Quidditch to pick up a few things, but for the most part he simply watches Oliver and nods and smiles when Oliver glances his way.
Most days he wishes Oliver could direct that inner fire towards something more useful and sensible than Quidditch, but sometimes like today, it’s nice seeing someone else with that same intense drive.
Percy must nod off at some point, because the next thing he knows, the dormitory lights are dim and someone’s tugging a blanket over him. "Oliver?" he mumbles
The hands pause and then pull the blanket to Percy’s chest.
"Goodnight, Perce," Oliver says, and presses a warm, gentle hand to Percy’s forehead. "Sweet dreams. Dream up a winning strategy that will beat the robes off the Slytherins, will you?" He can hear the smile in Oliver’s voice.
Percy smiles. "Okay," he agrees. "Goodnight." He’s already halfway back to sleep when he realizes Oliver hasn’t removed his hand. "Ol’ver?" he mumbles, trying to force his heavy eyelids open.
Oliver’s hand drops away. "Goodnight, Percy," he says, and there’s something in his voice that makes Percy’s breath catch in his throat, makes him want to struggle upright and see Oliver’s expression.
But Oliver’s moving away already, and Percy’s half-asleep. The moment’s lost by the time Percy forces his eyes open. He stays awake for a while yet, listening to Oliver’s steady breathing in the bed across from him, wondering a little at the too-fast beat of his own heart and why he feels like he’s just missed something important.
Percy spends most of his free time studying in the library. The rest of his free time is spent eating or studying in the dormitory. Even he’ll admit he’s a man of habit.
In the library, however, he is promised peace. None of the other Gryffindor boys in his year seems to be taking the upcoming N.E.W.Ts seriously, and Percy often finds himself fleeing their loud chatter for the quiet of the library.
It’s about three weeks into the term that the library’s peace is broken by a very familiar voice.
"C’mon, Harry," he hears Ron whine, voice raised high in complaint. "We don’t need Hermione’s help with this. We can do just fine on our own."
"I really think—" Harry begins, but Ron cuts him off by stomping through one of the aisles and somehow not incurring Madam Pince’s wrath. She must be busy dealing with someone else, Percy thinks.
He hears Harry sigh, but softer footsteps suggest Harry follows after his brother.
"I probably could have helped them," a quiet voice murmurs, and Percy jumps a little in his chair. What he thought was a pile of neatly stacked books are— well, a pile of neatly stacked books, but which also conceal Hermione Granger.
"I’m sure you could have," he says with a slight smile and a nod in her direction.
On closer inspection, Hermione looks tired.
"Are you quite all right?" Percy asks, both because he’s Head Boy and it’s his duty to care for his fellow students and because he likes Hermione. She’s a good influence on Ron when they’re not fighting, and she’s got a good head on her shoulders. He doesn’t doubt that he’s looking at the future Head Girl for her year.
Hermione smiles faintly. She’s flushed a little, though the library isn’t particularly stuffy today. Percy wonders if maybe somewhere someone’s broken the rules and opened a window, and that’s why Madam Pince didn’t descend on his brother and shush him.
"I’m fine, just tired," she says. To prove it, she yawns, deeply enough that Percy yawns as well. "Sorry," she says, laughing a little. "I’m taking a lot of classes this year." She glances at his pile of books, and her expression brightens. "You’re studying for the N.E.W.Ts, aren’t you? That must be exciting."
"It is," Percy agrees. "I’ll want to make top marks to get into the Ministry right out of school." He studies her for a moment, then clears his throat. "Studying is important, but if you work yourself into exhaustion, you’ll only be harming yourself and your grades." He’s learned that the hard way, studying late enough that he’s woken groggy for more than one exam. "I suggest you get some sleep."
"I don’t have time—" Hermione begins to protest, and then she stops, a thoughtful look on her face. "You’re right," she says after a moment. "I think I’ll go take a nap." She gathers most of her books to her, and smiles at him. It’s a warm, bright smile. "Thank you."
"You’re welcome," Percy says. He fidgets with his Head Boy badge as she keeps smiling at him for another moment.
At last she steps away and says, "Good luck with your N.E.W.Ts, Percy. I’m certain you’ll do amazing."
"Good luck with your classes," Percy answers her, and finds himself chuckling a little. "I’m certain you’ll do excellent as well."
Oliver’s been in a foul mood ever since the disastrous match against Hufflepuff.
Percy can’t blame him, even if Cedric caught the Snitch fair and square. He does wish Oliver would stop stomping around the dormitory whenever he’s not in class or at one of the team’s now five weekly training sessions. It’s not very conducive to Percy’s studying.
After about fifteen minutes of Oliver’s latest attack against the carpet, Percy sighs and sets aside his History of Magic textbook. "Oliver," he says quietly. "If you don’t sit down you’re going to wear both yourself and the carpet out. You’ll be no good to the team if you’re exhausted." He frowns, wondering at his sense of déjà vu, and then disregards the feeling.
There’s no one else in the room. Percy’s grateful, because that means no one sees the way he jumps about a foot in the air when Oliver throws himself across the end of Percy’s bed and groans into his blanket.
"Those damn Dementors," he moans. "And now Cho Chang’s been declared fit enough to play in the match tomorrow."
Percy hesitates. His heart is still fluttering too quickly in his chest; it makes it hard to think. Tentatively he reaches out and touches Oliver’s shoulder, which is knotted with tension. "You said that Harry’s learning how to handle the Dementors," he says quietly. "I’m sure he’ll do fine against Cho Chang."
Oliver doesn’t answer except to make a quiet, frustrated noise, still muffled by Percy’s blanket.
Percy rubs at Oliver’s shoulder, concerned now. If he’s this tense he’s liable to tear a muscle during the match. "Oliver, you have to relax," he says sternly. "You’ll be no good tomorrow like this."
"Sorry, but I can’t relax," Oliver says, lifting his head slightly to turn a frustrated look at Percy. "If we lose tomorrow, that’s it, I’ll be known as the idiot who didn’t win a single Cup in the three years I was captain."
Percy frowns. "Well, two years ago your Seeker was hospitalized and you played a man down during your final match," he points out. "Last year Quidditch was cancelled because a monster was terrorizing the school. This year we’ve got Dementors and a crazy murderer stalking the school. I don’t think anyone will blame you under those circumstances."
Oliver sighs. "Maybe not, but I will." He’s still strung as tightly as a wire about to snap.
Percy doesn’t realize he’s been rubbing at a particular knot in Oliver’s shoulder until Oliver’s expression shifts from frustration to half-lidded pleasure.
"Relax," Percy says firmly. He digs in with his thumb— Penelope had taught him how to massage her shoulders when they had both huddled over their books for too long— and Oliver groans a little.
The groan does something to Percy’s stomach, dries out his mouth. He hesitates, but obediently brings both hands to Oliver’s shoulders when Oliver says, "Don’t stop."
Percy can feel his face warm as Oliver moans and twitches a little under his hands. Oliver doesn’t sound like he’s getting a massage, and Percy can’t help but wonder if this is how Oliver sounds when he’s with someone. Not that Percy’s ever seen Oliver with a girlfriend— Quidditch has always been his most important relationship.
"Merlin’s beard," Oliver mutters when Percy finally stops, leaving one hand still on Oliver’s closest shoulder. Oliver’s voice is low and a little bit hoarse, and Percy’s mouth is dry again, hearing the husky note in Oliver’s voice. Oliver continues in a dreamy voice, like the massage has gotten him relaxed enough to half-drowse, "Not only are you brilliant and good-looking, but you’ve got magic hands? It isn’t fair."
"Technically we’ve both got magic hands—" Percy starts to say, but then the rest of what Oliver’s said catches up with him and he freezes. "Good-looking?" he echoes. His voice cracks.
Oliver tenses under his hands, and then stands. "I meant— thanks. I didn’t realize how tense I was."
"Good-looking," Percy repeats. He can feel heat flooding his cheeks, knows that his face must be bright red, but he can see Oliver’s ears also turning pink.
"Drop it, would you, Percy?" Oliver says. There’s no anger in his voice, just an odd pleading note. This close, Percy can see all the good work the massage has done vanishing; Oliver’s drawn in on himself, his head down as he stalks back towards his bed.
"Oliver," Percy says. His stomach is twisting itself into knots, but he also feels that rush of satisfaction he always experiences when he’s figured out a particularly tricky problem. He stands, catches Oliver by his shoulders, and tugs at him until Oliver turns to face him.
Oliver looks everywhere but at his face. "Look, I didn’t mean to say that," he mutters. "Just forget it, okay? We’ve only got a few months left in the year anyway and then we’ll go our separate ways—"
Percy has plans. He’s going to join the Ministry, make important changes, and become Minister of Magic. That means a circumspect life, one where he follows all the rules, including the unofficial one that says having a boyfriend won’t get you very far in the Ministry. The plans seem unimportant right now, not when Oliver’s looking at him with a quiet, desperate hunger in his eyes, not when all those stolen glances when Oliver had come in shirtless after Quidditch practice have meant something other than a hopeless attraction.
Percy kisses him. It’s an awkward kiss, Percy’s lips connecting with Oliver’s teeth and only a little bit of his mouth. After a moment, Percy feels a shudder go through Oliver’s frame and Oliver kisses him back, lips to lips, one of Oliver’s hands reaching up to cup Percy’s cheek.
When he pulls away, Oliver’s red-faced and looks a little wild around the eyes. He’s still touching Percy’s cheek though, like he can’t bear to let go and discover this was all a dream.
"Percy," Oliver says, and clears his throat. "I didn’t— you really—"
"Yes," Percy says, not sure what he’s answering, but everything in him is saying yes.
"But the Ministry—" Oliver begins, and sighs. "You know the Quidditch world is less traditional about these things. A player’s a player. But if you want to get anywhere in the Ministry—"
"As long as we don’t skip down the hall of the Ministry proclaiming our love, I don’t see that it’s any of their business," Percy says. He leans forward, kisses Oliver again. "Let this be our secret," he murmurs, and feels Oliver’s smile against his lips.
"Okay," Oliver says, and kisses him back.
It is Percy’s first day back at the Ministry after the Battle of Hogwarts. He’s had a month to mourn Fred, but now there’s rebuilding to be done, the Ministry to reorganize.
Still, he wishes he could have had a bit more time. There are too many absent faces, too many unfamiliar faces replacing the dead and the missing. He’s so busy nodding to the few faces he recognizes that it takes him a moment to recognize Hermione Granger.
"Hermione!" he says, stopping and blinking in surprise. The last time he saw her was at Fred’s funeral, clinging to Harry and Ron and crying.
"Percy!" Hermione smiles at him. She looks a little tired, but then they all do. "I was hoping to see you today. I’m going to be working with you."
Percy frowns. As far as he knows, Hermione, Ron, and Harry never attended their final year of Hogwarts. Ron has been quiet on the issue, but Percy assumed Ron would simply attend this year and graduate with Ginny.
Hermione’s face falls a little, and he realizes she’s taken his frown as one of disappointment.
"I am glad to hear it," he assures her. "I’m just surprised you’re here. I thought you’d missed seventh year."
"I told Headmistress McGonagall that I wanted to take the N.E.W.Ts. If I did well, I’d go straight into the Ministry. If I did poorly, I’d agree to attend school this year," Hermione explains.
Percy smiles. "And of course you passed with flying colors."
Hermione flushes. "Yes."
"Well, of course we’re going to be busy with reformations and replacing all those lost in the war," Percy says. He only falters for a moment, his breath catching on the word ‘lost’ as Fred’s face appears in his mind.
Hermione shoots him a sympathetic smile. After a moment she brushes her hair away from her face and says, "What do you think of the changes that Minister Shacklebolt has already instituted?"
"I think we’re going to accomplish great things," Percy says solemnly, and watches Hermione smile.
"I think we will too," she says, and then brightens. "Did you hear that Headmistress McGonagall is making Muggle Studies mandatory for first years?"
"No, I didn’t, but that’s an excellent idea," Percy says. Perhaps learning about Muggles will help make the wizarding community realize they are human as well. He gestures towards his office— small and cramped, but all his, and smiles. "Let’s get to work."
Just as he always suspected, Hermione is wonderful to work with. She is smart and clever and has numerous ideas as to how to improve the disaster that is the relationship between Muggleborns and Purebloods. Percy finds himself grateful time and again that she skipped her final year at Hogwarts.
They both have an unspoken rule about not discussing their private lives, the rule enacted the day Hermione came in, red-eyed and flat-voiced as she asked Percy not to mention Ron to her for a while.
Percy breaks the rule two months later. He doesn’t mean to. They’re both gathering their things at the end of the day, and Hermione mentions off-handedly that she’s thinking of catching a movie.
"You like Muggle film?" Percy asks, distracted by his tangled scarf. He’s barely paying attention to his own words, which is why "Oliver loves them too," winds up slipping out.
"Oliver?" Hermione repeats, puzzled, and Percy freezes.
He and Oliver have kept their relationship quiet all through seventh year and onward, through the war, through their arguments over whether or not Dumbledore or the Ministry was right, through the Battle of Hogwarts, and now Percy’s blurted out that he’s still in touch with Oliver, something not even his family knows.
"Oliver Wood," he says after a moment, clearing his throat. "We kept in touch after Hogwarts. We’re, well, f-flat-mates, actually." He inwardly winces at the damning stutter, because Hermione is giving him one of those clear, intense looks that means she sees right through him. "You two should go see a movie sometime. I’m not a fan of Muggle cinema, but Oliver loves it." He’s babbling, he realizes, and bites his lip.
"If Oliver would like to, I’d love to go see a movie sometime," Hermione says, still with that intense look. "It’s a little awkward going to a movie on your own."
"Just let me know when you want to go— it’s the Quidditch off-season so Oliver’s got plenty of free time," Percy says, inwardly groaning. What is he doing?
Hermione smiles and pats his arm. "I’m looking forward to it. I’ll let you know on Monday."
Oliver nearly falls off his chair laughing when Percy tells him about the conversation. "So you’ve set me up on a date with Hermione," he says when he’s got his breathing under control.
"It’s not a date!" Percy objects, flushing. "She just needs someone to go to the movies with."
"Right," Oliver says, still amused. He reaches out, cups Percy’s cheek. "Don’t worry," he says, mock-solemn, "I won’t let her sweep me off my feet."
"Sod off," Percy says without heat.
Oliver laughs again, this one halted by Percy leaning across the kitchen table and kissing him.
Percy doesn’t think anything of it when Oliver and Hermione take to spending their Fridays going to see movies at the local cinema, or when most of those evenings Hermione winds up sleeping in their guest room. Percy prefers Oliver being friends with Hermione over some of his more boisterous Quidditch teammates.
Friday evenings turn into cinema night, and Saturday mornings turn into Hermione and Percy discussing work over breakfast as Oliver groans. Most weekends Hermione ends up staying until Sunday, spending whole Saturdays with Percy (and a reluctant Oliver) at one of the Muggle libraries or museums.
It isn’t until six months later that Oliver rolls over in bed one evening and says thoughtfully, "Have you considered that our relationship with Hermione is a bit, well odd?"
Percy blinks, looking up from his book. "Odd?" he repeats.
"She’s spending the weekends with us," Oliver says.
"Yes," Percy agrees, not certain where Oliver’s going with this.
"She also hasn’t dated anyone since she broke up with your brother."
"Sometimes it takes a while to get over a break-up," Percy says. "Besides, it’s nice. I like going to museums and having someone there who’ll understand why I’m excited about the mummy of an Egyptian wizard that the Muggles have accidentally uncovered."
"And I like going to the movies with someone who actually knows who Ian McKellan is," Oliver says a little dryly. "I’m just saying— we’re pretty much dating her ourselves."
"Dating—" Percy laughs a little too loudly at that.
All the little moments of Hermione resting against him as they pore over parchment in the Ministry, all the varieties of her smile, the ways her expression warms whenever she sees him, everything crystallizes into a heavy lump in the pit of his stomach.
When Oliver tilts his head in question, Percy wets his lips. "Oliver, I would never cheat on you. Just because I…I care a lot about Hermione, that doesn’t mean I would ever act on those feelings…."
"Percy," Oliver says. He sits up, wraps an arm around Percy’s tense shoulders. "I know. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. I wouldn’t mind if Hermione stayed the whole week."
It takes a moment for Oliver’s words to sink in, and then Percy laughs, incredulous. "You want me to invite Hermione to live with us when she doesn’t even know we’re together," he says flatly.
Oliver looks almost pitying. "Percy, she knew we were together the first time she saw our flat," he says. When Percy just stares at him, he sighs and kisses Percy’s cheek. "I’m just saying that I happen to like Hermione a lot too, and I think she likes us both. It could work."
Percy’s silent for a moment, his book forgotten in his lap. Finally he says quietly, trying to squash the terrible hope fluttering in his chest, "We can talk to her."
"Okay," Oliver says cheerfully. He steals Percy’s glasses, ignoring Percy’s squawked protest. "Now let’s go to bed."
Percy’s expecting a few reactions from Hermione when they make their suggestion— anger, revulsion, bewilderment. Laughter isn’t quite what he expected.
"I’m sorry," she says after a moment, still rather pink in the face. "It’s just— I had such crushes on both of you at Hogwarts."
"Oh really," Oliver says with a grin.
Hermione laughs, but this time it’s a brief bout of amusement. "I have a thing for Quidditch players," she admits, still red. She bites her lower lip, her gaze dropping down to her feet. "I’ve actually been reading— there’s a Muggle subculture that practices something called poly relationships. That’s where three or more people live together. I have a few books—"
"Books?" Percy asks, and Oliver groans good-naturedly.
"Reading’s all well and good," he says, "but I think we might be able to muddle through things on our own."
"I think we might still want to consult—" Percy begins and then stops when Oliver takes his and Hermione’s hands and tugs them both to him.
"Well," Hermione says a little breathlessly, eyes wide and a little eager, her face already tilted towards Percy and Oliver as though anticipating a kiss, "I suppose we can conduct our own experiments."
Percy startles himself by laughing. "For science," he says, and kisses her as Oliver smiles.