A gift for teamjustice! (Part 1 of 2) Author: ??? Giftee:teamjustice (pastelninja on LJ) Title: Blanket Walls and Blind Dates (Part 1 of 2) Pairing: Percy/Harry Rating: PG-13 Word Count: ~18,600 Warnings: None Disclaimer: The characters belong to JKR. I merely play with them, and pair them up much more logically. ;) Summary: Percy lives alone, perfectly satisfied with his life, his job and his time with his family, until Harry invades his quiet flat, his personal life, and his heart. Notes: Thank you to my lovely betas, and to Emi, who runs an awesome fest and came through with encouragement when I thought my fic was awful. <3
Percy wasn't quite sure why being accepted back into the family fold suddenly meant that Percy would give up his very nice, quiet, room-for-one-person flat in order to join the rest of the Weasleys at the Burrow. Bill was not expected to leave his new wife and home, of course, but they seemed to be over at the Burrow constantly. Charlie was staying there now, but he always did when he came back from Romania. And that George would not want to stay in his flat after Fred… well, that was completely understandable. Ron and Ginny had never left in the first place, and with Harry and Hermione also staying there, the Burrow was, naturally, quite crowded.
No. Percy would stay just where he was, thank you very much. Dinner with his family one night a week, plus some time on the weekends, was perfectly acceptable; ideal, in fact.
Which was exactly what he told Charlie when he came over with their mother's offer of Percy's old room back.
"Trust me, Perce," Charlie said. He had dropped onto Percy's neat blue couch, knocking it a bit askew from its normal position, and was now sprawled across it, hands tucked behind his head and feet up on one armrest. "I understand. The only reason I stay there when I'm in England is because I always leave for Romania eventually. If I were here permanently, I'd have my own flat."
"I suppose she just wants all of us where she can watch over us," Percy said, sliding his fingers beneath his glasses to rub at his eyes. "But really, I took care of myself when the Death Eaters had control of the Ministry, without any assistance or protection from anyone. I can certainly take care of myself now that it's all over."
Charlie stared at him curiously. "How bad was it? You never talked about it in your letters."
"Bad enough," Percy said. He really didn't want to discuss the last year. "It's over now. Shacklebolt is an excellent minister."
"Dad says Shacklebolt really relies on you," Charlie said. He sounded admiring. "Said you saved copies of everything that was 'accidentally' destroyed before Umbridge ran."
Percy straightened in his chair, unable to hide a proud smile. "Yes. I had 10 filing cabinets here in this flat, each with Wizarding Space drawers that could hold hundreds of files. It was only last week that the Minister moved the last one out of here and into the Archives."
"Absolutely brilliant, Perce."
"Thank you," Percy said. "I rather thought so. Not that I could tell anyone."
"Well, you can now," Charlie said, sitting up and reaching out to grip Percy's arm. "Or just let Kingsley tell people for you. You should have heard Dad crow when Kingsley told him that your files would ensure convictions for all Death Eater Ministry employees."
"Yes, he sent me an owl." Percy patted Charlie's hand, not sure what to do with it.
Charlie grinned and stood, letting go of Percy's arm. "Anyway, I'd better get back before dinner. Are you coming?"
"Tomorrow," Percy said. "Tuesdays and Saturdays, remember?"
"Right," Charlie said. "See you tomorrow then."
He lifted a hand in farewell, and then was gone with a slight 'crack'. Percy set the couch back into place with a flick of his wand and sent a cleaning charm at the armrest where Charlie's feet had rested. He hoped his mother wouldn't try to convince him to move back in when he was there for dinner. He had no doubt she would have most of the family on her side, even if they didn't actually want him back in the house.
Percy stood outside for a moment in the cool autumn air, eyeing the Burrow warily. As usual, it sounded as though an army of people was in it, not just most of the Weasley family and some assorted friends. He sighed and walked through the garden.
"I'm not sure you want to go in there."
Through sheer force of will, Percy kept himself from jumping. He looked down to where Harry's voice had come from, and was just barely able to see the glint of light from Harry's glasses as he lay on his back in the garden.
"Why is that?"
Harry sat up so that Percy could see him better, and patted the ground beside him. With a slight grimace, Percy crouched down, careful not to let too much of his robes hit the ground. Harry leaned over to whisper into Percy's ear.
Percy wobbled for a moment, then caught himself on one hand, ignoring the fact that his robes were probably very dirty from being dropped. "I… er… I beg your pardon?"
"It's true," Harry said, lying back down. He folded his hands across his stomach. "She told your mum and dad tonight. They thought it was mine."
To hell with my robes, Percy thought, and sat down. He had always assumed that Harry and Ginny had got back together. Or would get back together, at some point.
"She won't say whose it is," Harry continued. "But I know it's not mine and she didn't even try to pretend that it was."
"Oh my," Percy said, trying to reconcile this sudden revelation with his previous assumptions about Harry and Ginny's relationship. "She's only seventeen. She hasn’t gone back for her last year of school. Not that anyone could have, with Hogwarts being repaired, but next year, she was supposed to… her NEWTs…"
"They hadn't got to that part of the discussion before I left."
"I'm sorry," Percy said, suddenly realizing how hard this had to be for Harry.
"No, it's okay," Harry said. "We never really got back together after everything, even though everyone assumed we were. Nothing much happened between us, and now with this… well. It seems like she's happier with someone else."
"So happy that she won't tell anyone who it is?" Percy regretted the sarcasm in his own voice, and tried to continue more calmly. "Perhaps you're right."
"It's probably a Slytherin," Harry said. "Everyone seems to love the bad boys."
"Not everyone," Percy said, then winced as the sound of something breaking came from inside. "Perhaps I should come back another time. Give them my regrets, will you, Harry?"
"Sure," Harry said. "Though I might fall asleep out here if they carry on too long."
"Well, if you don't feel like communing with nature all night, there's a way to get into my old room," Percy said. "Climb up the old oak, and find the branch that goes toward my window. A simple unlocking charm will do for the window, if it's even locked at all. My bedroom door has a deadbolt, and I embedded silencing charms in the walls. You won't be disturbed."
Harry had sat up, and Percy could see the green eyes dancing behind Harry's glasses. "Don't tell me you snuck in and out of the house."
"Then I won't," Percy said, standing and making a feeble attempt to brush off his robe. Harry laughed, and Percy suppressed a smile. "Good night, Harry."
"Night. See you Saturday."
"Quite probably," Percy said, and Apparated away.
Dinner that Saturday night was an excruciating affair, at which no one seemed to be willing to discuss the elephant in the room. Percy had been pulled aside by his father to make sure he knew Ginny was pregnant, but other than that, no mention was made of the fact. That evening, Ginny was stone-faced and silent, Ron and Hermione were wrapped up in each other, George was his now-usual quiet self, and Bill and Fleur were absent. His mother said little, except to offer people more food, and his father seemed focused on quizzing Hermione on Muggle mechanical objects whenever he could draw her attention away from Ron. Harry sat next to Percy and picked at his food, not really looking at anyone.
Percy and Charlie were left to carry the conversation. It was horribly awkward, and even the usually loquacious Charlie appeared to be feeling the strain.
Everyone seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when dessert was finished, and George, Ron and Hermione got up to clear the table and begin the dishes. Ginny disappeared upstairs, and Charlie herded their parents toward the armchairs near the fire.
"I've been staying in your room."
Percy hadn't realized that Harry was still sitting by him.
"It's quiet there," Harry added, when Percy didn't say anything.
"Yes, I made sure of that," Percy said. "Though you can still hear people outside the door. I needed to make sure I could hear when Mum was calling."
"Yeah." Harry fidgeted a bit, and Percy got up from the table. Harry followed him to the couch. "Charlie says you're staying in your flat. Not moving back here."
"Yes, I prefer it," Percy said. "So you're welcome to stay in my old room."
"Thanks," Harry said. "I have been. Hermione sneaks up to see Ron at night now, and it's just easier. Plus that tree is very conveniently placed."
"I've always thought so," Percy said.
"Charlie says he goes to your flat sometimes because it's quiet."
"He does, yes," Percy said, thinking of the messes he'd found some evenings after getting home from a long day at the Ministry. "I usually have to clean up after him."
Percy glanced over to where Charlie was quietly entertaining their parents with some story or other.
"I don't really mind," he admitted. "It's hard to find peace and quiet here, even with Fred…"
Percy waved a hand rather futilely, and Harry nodded.
"Yeah. It's different, but not exactly quieter. And it's more tense. Ginny and your mum fight all the time now."
"Still no word on the father?" Percy asked.
Harry shook his head. "Won't even tell Hermione."
"Probably because she knows Hermione can't – or won't – keep it a secret from Ron."
"I suppose," Harry said. He tugged at a thread hanging from the cuff of his shirt. "Must be nice having your own flat."
"It is," Percy said, and stood. "Well, I must be going."
He said his good-byes and left, his mind already on other things.
Percy avoided the Burrow all weekend, and, as a consequence, received a visit from Charlie on Monday evening while he was at work. Charlie said a quick good-bye, that he was needed in Romania after two dragon keepers had left suddenly and his leave of absence was up, and was gone.
Percy was only surprised that it had taken this long for Charlie to head off again.
Later that night, after finishing a last-minute report that the minister had needed, Percy Apparated into his living room and stopped short, then looked around to make sure he hadn't gone to the wrong place.
"Um. Hi," Harry said. He was sitting on a pile of luggage that had been neatly stacked in one corner of the room. Nothing else appeared to be out of place. "Charlie let me in."
Well, that explained how Harry had got past the wards. Charlie had blanket permission to bring anyone and anything into Percy's flat, and he was the only one of Percy's family who had that permission.
Charlie's abrupt departure from England suddenly seemed very propitious… for Charlie.
Harry was looking very nervous by now, as Percy had yet to say anything. "I'm sorry, I know it's an intrusion, but things just keep getting worse and worse at the Burrow and it's very awkward and people don't want to talk to me – well, Ron and Hermione do, but mostly they're with each other, if you know what I mean – so I was just doing nothing and it was very lonely and bad." Harry stopped to take a breath, looking rather pathetic. "I didn't have anywhere else to go."
Percy could name a dozen places off the top of his head where Harry would be welcome, but right behind those dozen places were a dozen reasons why Harry wouldn't want to stay.
"Charlie found me a camp bed to use, so I don't have to mess up your couch. He says you hate it when people change things in your flat," Harry said, rubbing his hands on his jeans. "I won't be a bother, I promise. Just… please?"
"Fine," Percy sighed, already regretting the loss of his privacy. He felt somewhat less regretful when Harry's eyes lit up. "There's not much room here, though."
"I've lived in smaller," Harry said, and Percy remembered stories of cupboards and bars on bedroom windows.
"Where's the bed?" Percy asked.
Harry picked up what looked like one of Ginny's old doll beds between a finger and thumb. "Charlie shrunk it. There's a little wardrobe here too, but we weren't sure it would fit."
"It might," Percy said, leading the way into the small bedroom. He eyed the layout of the room. "Hmm."
Harry stood patiently while Percy rearranged his bed, side table, wardrobe and desk to one half of the room, then handed Percy the camp bed and went back to get the wardrobe. In the end, everything fit, though it was a bit snug, and Harry had to use his trunk as a makeshift table beside his bed. Percy felt as though he were in the Gryffindor dorm again.
He'd always hated the dorm. And now there weren't even curtains around the beds for a modicum of privacy. Percy stared at the room while Harry unpacked, and was struck by an idea.
Digging through his 'Odds and Ends' box produced a decent bit of rope, and Percy attached the rope to the walls with a sticking charm, dividing the room neatly in half. He pulled two blankets out of a drawer and hung them over the rope.
He could see Harry's feet when he bent down, and the unruly top part of Harry's hair when he stood up straight. They would hear everything, but at least there was some separation.
"I'm afraid the door is on your side," Percy said. "I'll need to cross through your half to get in and out."
"I don't mind," Harry said, closing his trunk. "Technically, it's all yours. I'm intruding."
Percy didn't answer, because it was true. He didn't want to say that though, as it would have been very rude.
"I have a goal," Harry said. He sat on the edge of the bed, and Percy prepared to listen intently. He wondered if Harry would be a long time speaking, and if he should bring his desk chair over to Harry's side.
"I have a goal," Harry repeated, and licked his lips. "I want to find a job."
"An excellent goal," Percy said, when Harry didn't continue.
"I'm not really sure what kind of job," Harry admitted. "But I wanted you to know I wouldn't just be… "
He waved his hand expressively, and Percy nodded. "I understand."
"And then…" Harry said. "And then once I find my job, and save a bit of money, I can get my own place, and you'll have yours back."
It sounded like a decent plan, and Percy very much approved of having a plan. A thought occurred to him.
"I thought that…" Percy couldn't quite think of the most polite way to phrase it. "Did not your parents… or your godfather…"
Harry looked puzzled for a moment, and then his face cleared. "Oh! My inheritance!"
"Yes," Percy said, feeling rather uncomfortable.
"Well, Sirius left me Grimmauld Place," Harry said. He settled back on the bed, and Percy decided it was time to get the desk chair. "But the house was destroyed once… well, the Fidelius was broken, and the Death Eaters trashed it, then burnt it to the ground."
"Unfortunate," Percy said.
"Sirius had a vault, but since he didn't leave a legal will, it didn't come to me. Something weird with Gringotts' law or policies or whatever. It went to Mrs. Tonks, as the nearest, eldest Black relative," Harry said. "And it really ought to stay in the family. Teddy needs some sort of inheritance."
"That's very noble of you," Percy said.
Harry turned a little pink and smiled at Percy before continuing. "Dad was pretty well off to begin with, but he used a lot to buy Godric's Hollow and help with the first war effort, and then I used it to pay for school. So now there's sort of enough to live on for a few months, but not enough to get my own place or rebuild Godric's Hollow. I thought I might do that at first, but when Bill went over my vault with me, we realized I couldn't. So. Here I am."
"Here you are," Percy repeated. He sat there for a moment, thinking. "Well, tomorrow is soon enough to begin hunting for a job. Let's make dinner."
Percy lay stiffly in his bed, listening to Harry's quiet breathing on the other side of the room. It had been a while since he'd slept with anyone in the room, and usually he was in their rooms. Their bed, to be specific. And really, there wasn't much actual sleeping. This almost felt like he was back at Hogwarts, except there were only two of them and one of them was Harry Potter, with whom he'd never shared a room in his life.
He wondered if Harry snored.
Harry's bed creaked as he turned over, and then Harry's breathing stopped, as though he were listening.
"Percy? Are you asleep?"
Percy was tempted not to respond to the whisper, but after a moment his curiosity won and he answered in a quiet voice.
There is a short pause, then Harry said, "I just thought… maybe you ought to know why I really left the Burrow."
"Okay," Percy said, brow furrowing. He turned toward the blanket wall.
"Your mum… she got this idea in her head that I ought to marry Ginny right now so we could say the baby is ours."
Percy took a moment to process that revelation, but he wasn't as surprised as Harry probably thought he would be. It really wasn't much different from what she had done with Tonks and Remus, except that Remus succumbed to pressure and married Tonks. It was, however, very unlikely that Ginny's child would conveniently be a Metamorphmagus, thus relieving any unfortunate questions regarding actual paternity.
"Percy?" Harry sounded worried, and Percy realized that he'd been lying there for a while just thinking everything over.
"I'm not really surprised," Percy admitted, and proceeded to explain about Tonks and Remus.
"No wonder he wanted to leave," Harry said. "And I made him go back. I wonder who the father was. Is. Shouldn't he know? Teddy, I mean."
"I don't know who the father is," Percy said. "But with the spying that Tonks was doing, both in the Ministry and among the Death Eaters, perhaps it is better not to find out."
"I didn't think about that." Harry sounded stricken, and Percy squashed an urge to go comfort him.
"So it doesn't truly surprise me that my mother would do the same thing with Ginny and you," Percy said, trying to bring the conversation back to the original topic. "I hardly blame you for running."
"Ginny wasn't too happy about it either. Not me running. The having to marry me part."
"I can only imagine," Percy said, repressing a smile. "Ginny has something of a stubborn streak."
Harry snorted in apparent amusement.
"If I might ask," Percy said. "Why did the two of you not renew your relationship once your duty was done?"
"I'm not… I mean, I am…" Harry started out, then paused and took a deep breath. "I realized when we were apart that I wasn't… she wasn't my type."
"You don't like red-heads?"
"No, red-heads are good."
Percy could practically hear Harry's mind working rapidly.
"I just… she's just not my type," Harry finished.
"I see," Percy said.
"I doubt it," Harry muttered in such a low voice that Percy probably wasn't meant to hear it.
"Well, you're on your own now. Or mostly," Percy amended. "I certainly won't pressure you to marry anyone."
"Thanks, Percy," Harry said, sounding grateful. "I promise I won't be here bothering you for too long."
"Take what time you need," Percy said with a mental sigh, waving goodbye to his solitude for the next few months. "Goodnight, Harry."
Within a few moments Harry had drifted off into sleep, as evidenced by the tiny snores coming from the other side of the room. Percy rolled over and tried to silence his wandering mind, which now had many questions about Harry and Ginny and what had happened between them. It was a long time before he fell asleep.
His flat smelled like beef stew and fresh-baked bread. Percy took a deep breath, savouring the delicious scents, then looked around his flat. There was a new book sitting on the table, obviously one of Harry's, but it was the only thing out of place.
Well, that and the wonderful smell of dinner.
Harry appeared in the kitchen doorway, barefoot, his sleeves rolled up. There was a streak of flour in his hair. "I made dinner. I wasn't sure when you'd be home, so I made something that would keep."
"You didn't have to," Percy protested perfunctorily, setting his briefcase beside the couch and loosening his tie.
"I expect I'll be here most of the day anyway, until I find a job," Harry said with a shrug. "Might as well take care of things for you, since you're working."
Percy had to admit to himself that it was very nice not to have to make dinner after a long day of work. "I'll just freshen up."
He picked up his briefcase and went to his half of the bedroom to slip off his shoes and socks and change his shirt for something more comfortable. After washing his face and hands, Percy went to the kitchen, where he found that Harry had set the table and was sitting quietly, waiting for him.
It felt… homey.
With a smile, Percy seated himself and reached for the bread.
Dinner had been delicious, and the conversation surprisingly easy. The previous evening's dinner conversation had apparently been hampered by Harry's unease in a new place. Tonight Harry had asked about Percy's day, and then had a rather intelligent conversation about several of the new laws being passed. Percy had been able to expound on the new Being laws, which contained many provisions improving the lot of werewolves, without Harry yawning or fidgeting or looking bored.
It was a nice change from the Burrow.
Harry didn't even seem to mind that Percy insisted on doing the dishes and cleaning the awful mess Harry had left in the kitchen right after dinner.
"I hate leaving things a mess," Percy confided to Harry as he charmed the dishes dry and sent them to their cupboards.
"My aunt's a bit like that," Harry said, swiping down the counter with a charmed cloth. "Though she doesn't have magic to help."
Percy shuddered at the thought of having to clean everything by hand. "Magic certainly does make life more simple."
"Oh yeah," Harry agreed fervently. "So much better."
Later that night, when they were both reading, an owl rapped on the window. Percy just had time to notice it was Pigwidgeon before Harry opened the window to let the tiny owl inside. Pigwidgeon flew around the room several times before settling himself on the owl perch Percy had left up for convenience. Hermes had disappeared a few months before the Battle of Hogwarts, which Percy suspected was the work of those Death Eaters watching correspondence. Hermes would have taken offence at someone interfering with his job; they had probably cursed him out of the sky.
Percy shook himself out of the rather wistful remembrance to see Harry dropping down onto the couch, a letter in his hand. Pigwidgeon was happily eating the owl treats that had automatically appeared in the charmed bowl by the owl perch, and Harry seemed absorbed by the letter, so Percy went back to his novel.
"It's from Ron," Harry said after he'd finished the letter. "Wanting to know why I left and where I am. Not that he'd noticed until I didn't show up for dinner. I've been staying in your room a lot, but I always went down for dinner."
Percy placed his bookmark in between the pages so exactly half an inch of the bookmark would show, closed his book, and set it aside. "Are you going to tell him where you are?"
"I think so," Harry said, tucking his feet under him. "I mean, I'll probably just say I'm at a friend's house. I don't really want him coming to find me, you know?"
"I doubt he even knows where I live," Percy said. "But it's probably best not to mention it, just in case."
He couldn't even imagine the chaos Ron would make in his tidy flat. No, he could actually, considering what he'd seen of Ron's room in the Burrow. Harry was reading the letter again, chewing on his lower lip in apparent agitation.
"You may use my desk when you write back to him, if you wish," Percy said, feeling generous in the face of Harry's disquiet. "There's parchment, quill and ink in the first drawer on the left."
"Thanks," Harry said, then got up and went into the bedroom. Percy went back to his book, only to be interrupted by Harry again ten minutes later. He felt he ought to be irked, except he'd only been staring at the pages anyway, wondering what Harry was writing.
"Would you read this please?"
Percy took the slightly crumpled parchment between two fingers.
Sorry I worried you, though I did leave a note for you on your bed. I know you know that your mum has been trying to get me to marry Ginny, and it's not something either Ginny or I want, so I left. I'm staying with a friend – don't worry, I'm safe, and no, I'm not telling you where I am – and I'm going to find a job and, once I've saved enough money, I'm going to get my own flat. If you want, let's you and me and Hermione meet for dinner one night. I'm not coming to the Burrow, though. We'll go out or have a picnic or something. See you soon.
"It's a perfectly adequate letter," Percy said after reading it a second time. "Not elegant, but it says everything you need it to say."
"If it was elegant, they probably wouldn't think it was me writing back," Harry pointed out. "I really don't want Aurors crashing in here because my grammar was perfect and they think I've been abducted and someone is answering my owls for me."
Percy shuddered at the thought of Aurors storming his flat. "True. Well, it's perfect then. Send it just as it is, crumpled parchment and all."
"Does messiness cause you pain?" Harry asked, obviously trying not to laugh.
"Mental only, I assure you," Percy said, handing the letter back and picking up his book again. "But that is torture enough."
He managed to keep his smile hidden until Harry turned away. Living with Harry wasn't nearly as bad as he thought it would be. Of course, it had only been 24 hours. It was likely things would degenerate from here.
A week went by, in which there was nothing more disturbing than finding a stray sock of Harry's under the couch. Since it only happened once, Percy simply banished the sock to the hamper and declined to mention it. Harry did leave a mess in the kitchen when he cooked, but it was rather homey to clean it up together after eating. Also, it afforded Percy the chance to show Harry some specialized cleaning charms that his mother had shown him. Harry hadn't known the dish-washing charm, or the drying charm, or the charm to send everything to its place. Percy felt rather pleased at how delighted Harry was to learn these new things.
"They don't teach much of this at school," Percy told him. "At least to the boys."
"That doesn't seem fair," Harry said.
"Or practical," Percy agreed. "Unless you want to get married straight after leaving school."
Harry made a face, and Percy smiled.
Harry still hadn't found a job, but Percy didn't mind that too much. He rather enjoyed having dinner ready for him when he got home, and easily got into the habit of sending Harry an owl with his estimated arrival time. Harry seemed to appreciate it.
"How was your day?" Percy asked one night as they sat down to yet another wonderful meal. He wondered who had taught Harry to cook. Surely not the awful relatives he'd heard spoken of. "Have you found a job?"
He hadn't asked before, presuming that Harry would let him know, but Harry hadn’t said a word about it. Percy knew Harry was looking; he had found the Prophet with its circled job adverts, but so far, nothing appeared to have worked out. So far as Percy knew.
"I wouldn't exactly call it luck," Harry said, frowning a bit as he passed the rolls.
"What would you call it?"
"Wanting to hire the Boy who Lived for a bit of publicity." Harry sighed. "They keep trying to give me these fantastic positions that I'm not at all qualified for, just to say that I work for them. I'd be miserable trying to manage employees who know more than I do, and it takes a job from someone who really wants it. All I go in for is a basic, entry-level job – you know, the ones that are advertised – and they practically hand me the keys to the store. Or whatever. It's annoying."
Percy couldn't help but be somewhat impressed. "I think that's very mature of you to turn down jobs for which you are unqualified."
"Thanks," Harry said, giving him a little smile. "But it would be nice to have someone who just treats me like everyone else and sticks me in some low position so I can learn how the business works before they want me to run it."
"Mmmm." They ate in silence for a few moments, before Percy spoke again. "I had thought… Ron had mentioned before that you were planning to go into the Aurors."
"Yeah," Harry said. He pushed his carrots around his plate.
"Changing your mind is perfectly acceptable," Percy said, and Harry seemed to relax.
"Not everyone thinks so," Harry said. "I mean, at the time it seemed like a good job, like that was what I ought to do. I was good at it, you know. Fighting dark wizards. Fifteen years old and hey, I'd already fought dark wizards and won, so…"
Harry stared at a carrot that he'd speared on his fork. Percy wondered if it was his turn to say something.
"The thing is," Harry finally continued, "I just… I'm tired of fighting. I'm tired of people expecting me to enjoy fighting and to be good at it. The Aurors approached me. After. They wanted me to do accelerated training. To be out in the field in six months instead of three years. I hadn't even taken my NEWTs yet! They were just going to overlook that and put me in charge of some task force that…"
Harry stopped and took a few deep, gulping breaths. "Sorry."
"It's fine," Percy said, as gently as he could. "Well, it sounds as though nothing in the Wizarding business world is going to work out. What about working for Muggles? They don't know who you are."
Harry gave Percy a disbelieving look over the top of his glasses. "And I'd explain about this magical school in Scotland that they don't know exists and OWLs and NEWTs instead of O-levels and A-levels… how?"
"There's a department at the Ministry that assists wizards and witches who wish to work for Muggles," Percy said. "They'll work with you to create documentation that accurately represents your knowledge and accomplishments as translated to the Muggle world."
"Huh," Harry said, fiddling with his fork. "I wonder what 'defeated Dark Lord' will look like on my C.V."
Since he had skipped his usual weeknight dinner with his family to come home to Harry, Percy felt rather obligated to spend more time than usual with his family on Saturday afternoon. Of course, Saturday afternoon with his family now seemed to entail Ginny alone in her room, Ron and Hermione alone in Ron's room, George in his room, his father in the shed and his mother either in the kitchen cooking or in the living room knitting.
Ron and Hermione were best left undisturbed, and Ginny had multiple spells guarding her door, so Percy spent his time trying to speak with George through his bedroom door and with his mother in the kitchen helping prepare dinner. He was grateful beyond measure when Bill, Fleur and Victoire arrived for dinner. Despite his usual dislike of infants, he was happy to watch the baby for a while in order to escape the misery surrounding the rest of his family.
He excused himself soon after dinner and Apparated to his flat, breathing a sigh of relief at the peaceful, not-tense quiet that greeted him.
Harry was apparently out, so Percy indulged himself by changing into his pyjamas and dressing gown, pouring himself a glass of wine, and beginning a new mystery novel that he'd been wanting to read. Much later that night, when Percy was halfway through his book and only a few drops of wine lay in the glass, Harry came in.
"Oh, you're still up," Harry said, sounding surprised. He tugged on his collar, pulling it up higher. "I didn't want to wake you, so I Apparated in down the hall."
"I tend to stay up later than usual on Saturday nights," Percy said. "I can sleep in on Sundays, plus I usually need the time to unwind after being at the Burrow."
Harry made a face as he sat down on the couch. "Was it bad?"
"Reasonably awful," Percy said. "There wasn't any screaming, which is always a plus. Of course, Ginny and my mother weren't speaking to each other, thus eliminating most of the potential for screaming."
"So is not speaking better or worse than screaming at each other?"
"At this point, I have no idea," Percy said with a sigh. "I love my mother – we all love her – but I would much prefer it if she would leave the running of our lives to us."
"Well, Ginny is only seventeen," Harry pointed out. He kicked off his trainers and sent them walking to the bedroom on their own.
"And Mum was only eighteen when Bill was born, and she was pregnant before she and Dad were married," Percy said. "Despite what they may think, all of us are decent enough in maths to figure that one out."
Harry laughed, stretching out on the couch with his hands behind his head. His collar slipped down to reveal a rather large bruise. "I didn't know that."
"It's not something we ever talk about, though Aunt Muriel will sometimes mutter about it," Percy said. "Enough of that, however. How was your evening? Enjoyable?"
"It was fine," Harry said.
"Did you go out with someone?" Percy was amused at the slight flush that crept up Harry's face.
"No," Harry said, shifting uncomfortably. "Most people I knew had plans. Why?"
Percy tapped his own neck, indicating the place where Harry's kiss-bruise was, and Harry grabbed at his collar, pulling it up again.
"Oh." Harry was now blushing furiously. "I… um… you know."
"Yes, I suppose I do know," Percy said, giving Harry a bemused glance.
"It was a Muggle club," Harry said defensively. "So none of the guys knew who I was – it's not like I was taking advantage or anything, and it just a bit of snogging, you know… I mean…"
Percy blinked a few times as Harry trailed off, suddenly understanding exactly why Ginny was not Harry's type. "Guys? As in… men?"
"Oh, hell," Harry said.
It took Percy an hour to reassure Harry that it was perfectly fine to prefer men, and he ended up confessing that preferring men was the primary reason that he'd broken up with Penny. By the time the conversation was over, Percy was exhausted and happy to get to bed.
"Percy? Are you awake?"
Percy considered burying his head under his pillow, as he used to do when he was younger and the twins wouldn't be quiet.
"Yes, I'm awake."
"Have you ever, you know… dated any guys?"
Apparently it was easier for Harry to speak through a blanket wall in the dark.
"A couple," Percy said cautiously. He wondered if Harry would want to know their names.
"Muggle or wizard?"
"One of each."
There was a long pause, and Percy was drifting toward sleep when Harry spoke again.
"So are there a lot of gay wizards?"
Percy reconsidered burying his head beneath the pillow. Perhaps it was not too late to pretend to be asleep.
"You don't have to answer," Harry said, sounding embarrassed now. "Sorry."
"No," Percy said. He rolled over so he was staring at the dark ceiling. "It's fine. There are a fair number, I suppose. Probably the same percentage of our population as it is with Muggles – we naturally have less because we are a smaller society, but they're here."
"Right," Harry said. "Do, um… is it… out in the open?"
"For the most part, yes," Percy said. "Well, it's rarely flaunted, if that's what you're asking. Or at least no more than male-female couples flaunt it. The only time it might be a problem is if the sole heir prefers their own gender and shows no inclination of providing an heir for the family. Providing an heir, of course, can either be through the body or through adoption."
"So to continue the Potter line, I could adopt?"
"Of course," Percy said. "Though the Potter line is old enough that it's likely you have distant relatives, should you not want children at all."
"I guess you wouldn't have that problem," Harry said. "Needing a Weasley heir. I mean, not about money or anything, just, um, continuing the name."
He coughed nervously, and Percy smiled into the darkness. "No, I believe there's enough of us that continuing the line will not be a problem."
"Right," Harry said. "Does your family know? That you like guys?"
"They do," Percy said. "After… after Fred's funeral – I think you were with Ron and Hermione in Australia for a while – I spent quite a bit of time at the Burrow. All of us talked a great deal, and Mum asked about Penny. So I told them."
"They were okay with it?"
"Yes, they were," Percy said. "Mum made me promise that I'd introduce them to my next boyfriend. Since I haven't dated anyone since then, there hasn't been anyone for them to meet."
"Huh. So… do you want a boyfriend?" The bed creaked as Harry shifted. "Was that too personal?"
"You're just now worried that your questions are too personal? Percy asked dryly. "Yes, it would be nice to have a boyfriend. However, I hardly expect one to drop in my lap, particularly when I'm working long days and some weekends."
"Oh. Right." Harry didn't say anything for a few moments, and Percy wondered if it was safe to go to sleep. "So how did you meet the two people you dated? Clubs?"
"By accident," Percy said. "I ran into the Muggle at a Muggle bookstore – we were reaching for the same book. He said he'd let me have it, as long as he could take me out for coffee. As for the other, I was in Quality Quidditch Supplies purchasing a gift for Ron, and stopped a moment to admire the… special calendar."
"Oh, yeah, I've seen that one." It sounded as though Harry were grinning. "The one with the mostly naked male Quidditch players and their 'broomsticks'?"
"That would be the one," Percy said. "Apparently I lingered a bit too long over one picture, and when I turned around, the gentleman I had been admiring was behind me. Though, as it turned out, he had been doing a bit of admiring for himself."
"Wow," Harry said. "I've not really had a boyfriend. Just done a bit of snogging and dancing at this Muggle club I found."
"There is no hurry," Percy said. "You're only eighteen. I'm sure that at some point in the next hundred or so years of your life, you will meet someone you would like to date on a long-term basis."
"What if I've already met him, and he's not interested?" Harry asked. "Or what if I can't tell if he's interested?"
"If the former, then I recommend seeking a more available person to transfer your affections to," Percy said. "If the latter, time will tell if there is any interest. Of course, there is always the direct route of asking him if he's interested…"
"No!" Harry sounded horrified. "I couldn't do that."
"It's your decision," Percy said in a soothing voice. "No one is going to force you to confess or ask anything."
"Yeah, okay." Harry said. Percy heard him roll over. "Night, Percy."
Harry was quiet the next morning, and Percy was almost relieved when he left to meet Ron and Hermione for lunch. Plus it would give Percy time to clean his apartment. Not that Harry didn't do his best while Percy was at work, but there were certain things Percy preferred just so. If Harry were at the flat long enough, he would probably learn how Percy liked it, but there didn't seem much point in making a fuss about things when Harry would move out in a month or two.
By the time Harry returned late that afternoon, Percy had done the laundry (leaving Harry's clean clothes and linens neatly folded and laid out on his bed), dusted, swept and mopped the floors, scrubbed the bathroom and kitchen to sparkling, and set cleaning charms across all the furniture, walls, and windows. The flat looked perfect, and Percy had just settled himself in his armchair to bask in the peaceful cleanliness when the front door opened and Harry walked in.
"Hey," Harry muttered, and all but stomped to the bedroom, leaving a trail of light smudgy footprints behind him.
Percy reigned in his irritation and satisfied himself with sending a vicious cleaning charm after Harry. Picking up his book, he tried to ignore Harry's thumps and bangs as he put his clothes away and made his bed.
The racket in the bedroom finally died away, and Percy settled more firmly in his chair to enjoy his book, until Harry came out of the bedroom glowering and headed for the kitchen. Percy eyed him as he walked by and decided the only thing Harry was missing was a tiny, dark stormcloud hovering above his head. The thumps and bangs resumed in the kitchen, where Percy could only assume that Harry was destroying all the good that Percy had done that afternoon.
Percy took a deep breath and carefully turned a page. Perhaps he ought to move to a book of photographs, so he wouldn't have to pretend to be reading the book. Harry came back into the room and dropped onto the couch, sending it sliding a few inches and jarring his sandwich precariously close to the edge of the plate. He did not, Percy noted thankfully, prop his dirty shoes on the table.
"Bad afternoon?" Percy asked, closing his book. He used a finger to hold his place.
Harry mumbled something around his huge bite of sandwich.
"Sorry," Percy said. "I don't speak troll."
Harry rolled his eyes and Percy had to resist the urge to hit him with the book. He would never hurt a book like that.
"Do let me know when you're ready to behave like a civilized being," Percy said, and opened his book again. Not that he had been reading it in the first place, but he was trying to make a point.
There were some disgusting noises as Harry finished off his sandwich in a few bites, and Percy debated whether it would be that impolite to go into the bedroom and put up a silencing charm so he could ignore Harry more easily.
"Sometimes they drive me crazy," Harry said, leaning forward and setting his plate on the table with a thunk. He had a bit of mustard on his shirt.
"Ron and Hermione?" A tiny flick of Percy's wand took care of the mustard. Harry didn't seem to notice.
"Yeah," Harry said. He rested his elbows on his knees. "I mean, they hardly paid attention to me at the Burrow, so you'd think it wouldn't matter that I was living somewhere else, except that Ron seems to think that I think that it's below me to live at the Burrow and Hermione thinks I'm isolating myself from my friends at a time when I need them most and neither one of them really let up on it all afternoon."
Percy set his book aside. "You could tell them where you were, if you wanted to."
"Nah," Harry said, shaking his head. "I don’t really want them here."
"I can't say that I would enjoy their company either, if they were being as intrusive and insensitive as you claim," Percy said.
"Did you know that they owled or stopped by all of our friends' places to see if I was there?" Harry asked, then continued without waiting for an answer. "I told 'em off for that. I don't think they'll keep looking for me."
"I doubt they'd find you anyway," Percy said. "For one, my flat is warded against locating magic. Two, they probably think you'd rather live on the streets than stay with me."
Harry half-laughed, then relaxed back into the couch. "Yeah. I mean, I used to think that you were… well. You're not so bad as all that. Bit pernickety maybe, but it's not a bad thing. And you're not as uptight as you used to be. Though you're still a bit of a neat freak."
"Do stop," Percy said. "I'm becoming overwhelmed by all the compliments."
Harry grinned, then summoned a book and settled down to read, slipping his shoes off and curling up on the couch. Despite himself, Percy felt himself more inclined to forgive Harry his dirt transgressions, particularly since he'd had a trying afternoon. Though he was still tempted to weave self-cleaning charms into Harry's shoes that would activate after he crossed the threshold.
Percy dropped Harry off at the Department for Wizards Integrating into Muggle Society (WIMS) first thing Monday morning. They were delighted to see him, and Percy could hear Harry politely declining a job offer as he left. Shaking his head, he went to his office and began to deal with all the correspondence that piled up over the weekend, when people apparently had many free hours to write to the Minister of Magic.
"How did it go today?" Percy asked over dinner.
"Not bad," Harry said. "Especially once I got a decent liaison who didn't bother offering me a job with their department. Who knew that leading a student organization like the DA would be a decent skill to put on my C.V.?"
"What about taking down You-Know-Who?"
Harry scratched his head. "I think that turned into being able to improvise and handle complex circumstances. Or something like that. Anyway, she got me some interviews for this week. Nothing too exciting, since I haven't been to university."
"If you want to stay in the Muggle working world, there is always the possibility of going to university in the future," Percy said.
"True. Not sure if I want to go back to school, though."
"There's plenty of time for you to decide," Percy said.
Harry gave him a funny look, and Percy raised a questioning eyebrow.
"You said something like that last night. It's just… that doesn't sound very much like you," Harry said.
"Perhaps my priorities have changed," Percy said, spearing a bit of carrot on his fork. "War, death, and destruction will do that to you, no matter how blind you've been."
"Oh, I didn't mean that... I mean, I wasn't trying to say… anything about… anything."
"Very eloquent," Percy said, and Harry laughed, ducking his head.
"You know what I mean."
"Yes," Percy said. "I suppose I do."
Percy caught himself watching Harry more than once during the week. He scolded himself for it. Just because he'd found out that Harry was gay did not mean that Harry would be interested in him. He tried not to pay attention to men who were straight, deeming it a futile exercise, but now that Harry was gay and was living with Percy, he was hard to ignore.
"He is the ex-boyfriend of my little sister," Percy said to his reflection one morning as he shaved. Harry was in the kitchen drinking coffee. "It doesn't matter that she's pregnant with some unknown man's child. It would still be strange for her."
He ignored the small part of his brain that pointed out stranger things had happened. Like Fred and George routinely trading girlfriends. Or Bill liking to watch his girlfriends or boyfriends with Charlie.
"I am not like that," Percy said firmly, and picked up his toothbrush.
By Thursday, Harry had a job.
"Just, you know, nothing big. Running errands, taking care of the office, stuff like that," Harry said with a grin. "You know, it's kind of nice that my biggest responsibility is going to be making sure lunch for the clients is set up properly."
It didn't sound very exciting to Percy, but he supposed Harry had very different goals from himself. "I'm glad you've found something. I suspected it might be better for you in the Muggle world."
"Yeah," Harry said. "I was just like anyone else doing an interview. It was great! I got turned down for two jobs before this one."
He paused, then continued. "The only bad thing about this one is that I don't make much money. I won't be able to get my own place for a while."
"I don't mind," Percy assured him, then realized that he truly meant it. Harry had settled easily into Percy's daily life, and had not disrupted the living space too badly. "I've grown rather used to you."
Harry bounced on his toes, grinning widely. "You're not so bad yourself either. Even if you are a clean freak."
"Just because I like everything just so…" Percy protested, despite realizing he was being teased. "There is always the Burrow if you prefer chaos."
"No thanks," Harry said. "I think I've had enough chaos for one lifetime."
"Several lifetimes, probably," Percy said, and Harry agreed.
On Friday morning, Percy looked up from his desk to see his father coming into his office.
"Hello, son," Arthur said. He looked tired and old.
"Is everything well?" Percy asked, concerned.
Arthur sat down in the chair near Percy's desk. "Everyone is well, if you're talking about the physical. As for everything else… well."
"Still bad, then," Percy said. He cleaned his quill and set it aside, then capped his inkpot in preparation for a long talk.
"Still bad," Arthur said. "I thought it might be better if we didn't have our usual Saturday dinner. Things are still very tense, and… it would probably be easier on you and Bill and Fleur if you didn't feel obligated to come."
"Certainly," Percy said.
"You are, of course, welcome at any time," Arthur added quickly. He gave Percy a worn smile. "Especially in my shed. I've got a new Muggle gadget that I'm experimenting with."
Experimenting with usually meant taking apart.
"I might just stop by later," Percy said. He hesitated, then ploughed ahead with his question. "How is Ginny?"
"Healthy," Arthur said. "In her fourth month now."
Percy did the calculations. "That would make it… "
"Yes," Arthur said. "We suspect, ahem… just after the Battle of Hogwarts."
"She would not have been the only one to have done so," Percy said, though he declined to elaborate on his own post-battle shenanigans.
"But so far she appears to have been the only one to forget the contraceptive spell," Arthur said. "Your mother is very distressed, especially since Harry has moved out. She insists that it is Ginny's fault."
"I don't believe it's anyone's fault," Percy said. "People come together or separate for a multitude of reasons, not all of which include it being someone's fault."
"Very true," Arthur said. He reached out a hand and squeezed Percy's arm. "A very wise insight, Percy."
Percy shifted, both embarrassed and pleased at the praise. "One learns as one grows older."
"Indeed we do," Arthur said. "Now, let me tell you about this round glass object the Muggles call a 'lightening bulb'."