A gift for rillalicious! Author: ??? Giftee:rillalicious Title: Benchnotes Pairing/Characters: Percy, Bill, implied Percy/Bill Rating: PG-13 Word Count: 1300 Warnings: Incest, angst, mentions of canon character death (canon compliant). Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended. Summary:Fred is buried on a Monday morning. Moving on is hard to do. Notes:rillalicious, I really enjoyed your request! I tried to focus a bit on the Percy wibbling and uncertain about moral decisions and a canon Percy who's still loyal to his family parts. However, matter how many times I attempted to write you flat out Bill/Percy, they just did not want to cooperate. :/ So while this is not even remotely as ship-oriented as I wish it had turned out - it's more implied than anything - I still hope that you enjoy it nonetheless. Thanks to Miss A for all of her help and encouragement, as well as the fast and speedy beta. I never would have finished this without her. ♥
Fred is buried on a Monday morning, the sky above the cemetery a dull, dreary shade of grey. Walking along one of the old dirt paths that lead away from his brother’s grave, Percy shoves his hands into his pockets and stares up at the sky, thinking that the color (or lack thereof) is strangely appropriate for the occasion.
It’s been just over a week since the end of the War, and although Percy has been almost constantly surrounded by family for the past few days, he can’t help but feel lonely. He’s been social – well, social for him, anyway – but despite his best attempts at getting on with everyone, he still finds himself inching away when his mother tries to hug him, when his sister clings to him, when his brothers try to talk to him.
For the most part, his family has been fairly understanding of his reluctant demeanor. His parents seem concerned, but in light of other happenings, let it go for the moment. George barely leaves his room, so he doesn’t notice Percy’s anxiousness at all. Charlie, Ginny and Ron give him strange looks, but that is as far as their inquiries go – they’ve got other things to deal with right now.
Bill, on the other hand, is another story. On more than one occasion over the course of the week, Percy catches his older brother watching him through narrowed eyes, frustration evident on his face. Bill watches Percy, watches over Percy, just like he would do when they were children. He notices the way that Percy moves away from the others, the way that he hides from them. Percy knows that Bill sees through him, because when Percy tries to inch away from Bill, his brother doesn’t let him do it like the others, and never has. Bill will move with him, will grab at his arm and pull him back, will make him stay. Today is no different, and Percy is barely out of sight of the grave when his brother comes storming down the path behind him, his face angry and his eyes bright.
Percy makes a split decision to keep walking, to pretend as though he hadn’t heard his brother. Bill doesn’t let that stop him, though. Percy hears his brother make an irritated sound behind him and then a moment later, an out of breath Bill falls into step beside him and gasps, “Where are you going?”
“Home,” Percy says, not looking at Bill.
Percy tugs his dark coat tightly around him, his fingers digging and curling into the worn fabric and stares straight ahead, his eyes searching the crowd for something, anything to focus on instead of his brother. “Because I shouldn’t be here,” he says after a moment, still not looking at Bill.
Out of the corner of his eye, Percy can see his brother frowning at him. “Care to explain that, Perce?” he asks.
“It’s rather complicated and -”
“We have time,” Bill says, reaching out and wrapping his fingers tightly around Percy’s wrist. Percy almost dares to shiver, but then with one short, sharp tug, Bill pulls him away from the path and over to a small bench a few steps away. They sit down, Bill lounging out and taking up a good two-thirds of the bench, Percy curled up on the other end, pulling as tightly into himself as possible. “So, care to tell me why you’re leaving your brother’s fucking funeral?” Bill begins conversationally, fingers picking at some non-existent lint on his dark trousers.
“Because to me,” Bill continues, “it almost seems like you’re running away.” The again goes unspoken, but they both know that it’s there.
“I’m not running away!” Percy snaps, turning to look at Bill, his glasses sliding down the bridge of his nose as he does so. “It’s just hard,” he says after a moment, looking away.
“Of course it’s hard,” Bill says, looking slightly bemused. A moment later he pushes himself up into a sitting position and leans forward. Reaching out, he gently pushes Percy’s glasses back up and says softly, “It’s hard for everyone.”
Percy shrugs him away, just as he has everyone else. Curling into himself he shakes his head and says, “You don’t understand, Bill. It’s my fault.”
“You heard me,” Percy repeats, looking flustered. “It’s my fault.”
“How is it possibly your fault?” Bill says, staring.
“At the battle,” Percy says, looking away. “At the battle, we were fighting Thicknesse and I made a joke and he laughed.”
Bill stares. “Percy -”
“He laughed!” Percy continues, unabashed. “If I hadn’t made that stupid, inappropriate joke, then he would have been paying more attention to things and -”
“Stop being selfish!” Bill snaps suddenly, looking at him with an expression that Percy can’t quite interpret. “You’re not the only one hurting right now, Perce. You aren’t the reason Fred is gone. It was an explosion, Percy. You had nothing to do with it!”
“You can’t say that,” Percy replies angrily, “There’s no way to know if what happened to him was partly my fault, Bill. I don’t know.”
“It isn’t your fault,” Bill repeats, shifting so that he is right next to his brother. Grabbing his arm, he shakes him. “So stop moping about and do what you’re good at!”
Percy scowls, the anger rushing through him, red and hot. If they’d been at home, in private, Percy wonders if perhaps he would do something out of character, like shout or scream or, Merlin forbid, attempt to punch Bill. But they aren’t – they’re in public, and so he counts to ten slowly, clenching and unclenching his fingers in an attempt to calm down. “And what exactly am I good at, Bill?” he says through clenched teeth.
His older brother tilts his head to the side and stares at Percy for a long moment before leaning forward and tangling their fingers together. Tugging harshly, he pulls at his brother and watches with somber amusement as Percy is sprawled uncharacteristically across the bench, his legs hanging off the end in an undignified way, the only thing keeping him from toppling over entirely being Bill’s warm, solid body next to his. “You’re good at getting things done,” Bill says quietly. “If anyone can help everyone move on and start to fix things, it’s you, Perce. You’re good at bossing people around.”
Percy scowls at this blatant remark against his person, but he has to admit that Bill has a point. “I suppose,” he says grudgingly. Then, shaking his head, he leans back against Bill and says, “I still feel like it was my fault, though.”
Bill wraps an arm around him and tugs him in closer. “That won’t go away,” he says, “Not for awhile, anyway.”
They sit in silence after that, watching the clouds drift across the sky, Percy curled into Bill. It's a familiar feeling that Percy has missed, although he'll never admit it to anyone, least of all his brother.
Finally, after what seems like forever, Bill shifts away and sits up. “Fleur is waiting,” he says, nodding over towards the gate where his wife is standing, eyeing them curiously. “I should probably go.”
“Yeah,” Percy says, not making any effort to move or sit up. “I’ll owl you.”
“I’ll be waiting,” Bill says, grinning. He’s a few feet and when he stops, turns and says, “You’ll be okay, you know.” With that, he turns and walks over to Fleur, his fingers tangling loosely with hers as he leads her away.
Percy watches for a long moment, idly flexing his fingers, missing the solid warmth of Bill. Then he sits up and, in one quick movement, stands up and starts to follow the crowd that is now leaving the cemetery.
It might take awhile, he thinks as he stares up at the sky, but he thinks that perhaps Bill is right - he’s not okay.