Percy Weasley was secretly a romantic at heart. For all that he seemed stuffy and uptight, all he really wanted was to find someone who fit neatly into his life as though he was made for it. The correct term would be that he wanted to find his soul mate, but not even Percy, the closet romantic, was willing to admit he was so lost as to use cliché terms like that. But still, to Percy, a kiss was more than a kiss, it was the delicate touching of two souls; a meeting of the eyes, the kind that caught the breath and held it, was the recognition of your other half.
People tended to call Percy proud, cold, too good for anyone else. But Percy thought that it was pointless to settle for anything less than his cliché-he-would-not-use (aka soul mate). So he is not entirely sure how he got into this situation. He can’t really remember the events that led up to it. The alcohol might have had something to do with that. That’s not to say he was trashed and couldn’t recall anything he had done that night. He actually only had enough to feel the warmth settle under his skin. All he can remember about the night is that he got caught up in hazel eyes and the smile that was more effective than the liquor he had consumed.
So rather he had his misguided view of romance to blame (because of course it wasn‘t his fault, but the misdirected guidance of having parents who were completely in love with each other), because it managed to reveal itself even in a moment like this. So while the situation wasn’t ideal, he still believed that even a one-night stand would include a sort of post-coital bliss while they fell asleep in each other’s arms. There would be breakfast in the morning along with a fond farewell and promises to see each other later. A brief fear that maybe they wouldn’t get in contact, which would be assuaged by the letter inviting him to dinner the very next night. And sometime during all of this, there would be the recognition that, yes, this was his other (not to say better) half. So he was taken by surprise when the man put on his pants and started looking around for his shirt.
“What are you doing?” Percy asked him from where he had sat up in the bed when the man had reached down for his pants. The man didn’t look at him but was now peeking under the desk.
“I’m looking for my shirt. Have you seen it?” he asked as he pulled himself back up. His voice sounded as though he was asking about the weather and not about the damning evidence of having had a less than innocent night with a complete stranger.
Percy was silent, frozen, cold. “It’s in the bathroom,” he said, but the man was already on his way to the bathroom door. He disappeared inside for a moment. Percy wanted to take this time to collect himself, to breathe, and to get up out of the bed. It was hard to maintain a cool demeanor when one was nude. But he couldn’t manage to climb out of bed in search of his own pants. Maybe if he closed his eyes and pretended that none of this happened and refused to acknowledge the man’s presence and waited in this spot until the man left, then he could imagine that he had rented this hotel room for himself because he didn’t want to camp out with his family (who had to be wondering by now where he was). He could pretend that he had left the pub by himself and was never waylaid by strong hands and a husky laugh.
The man came out of the bathroom, pulling on his shirt in the doorway. He started to look around for his robe, but stopped when he saw Percy sitting frozen in the middle of the bed. He paused. “Hey, you alright, man?” Percy didn’t move, didn’t respond. “Hey.” Still no response. Just a tightening of the fingers clutching at the sheets.
Percy started when he felt fingers lightly touch his shoulder. “Get out,” he snarled as he stumbled back on the bed in an attempt to pull himself farther away, only to get tangled up in the sheets.
“What is your problem?” the man asked him, taking a step back as he straightened up again.
“Didn’t I tell you to leave?” Percy asked him in his most arrogant tone.
“I was just trying to see if you were alright.”
“That’s not necessary.”
“Of course it isn’t,” the man snapped. Percy’s fingers clenched in the sheets over his legs.
“Then I think you need to leave now.”
“I was trying. Why are you acting this way? You weren’t like this last night.” He roughly ran his hand through his hair, glancing over at the door before focusing on Percy who was at least now looking at him.
Percy sneered. “You don’t know me. Is it a common practice of yours to sleep with men whose names you don’t know?”
The man smirked, a touch of darkness to his lips. “I do know your name, Percy.” Percy jerked. “You told me last night. You never wanted to know mine. I’m going.” Percy was left staring after him as he walked out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
Percy stared at the door for a long moment. The horror hadn’t set in yet. He felt numb, as though he was caught in a dream. And then came the mortification, and he buried his face in his arms. What had he done? He could still hear his name falling from those lips, being thrown back at him. He had never had the experience of having his own name be used as a weapon against him like that. He could still smell them on the sheets, and knew he had to leave.
He managed to pull himself out of the bed. He managed to make it through the shower and find his clothes without completely breaking down. He even remembered to stop by the barkeep to pay for the room. The barkeep, Richard, laughed. “Yeah, you were a little occupied awhile ago.” Percy felt his cheeks go red. “He’s a good lad. Paid for the room on the way out.”
Anyone who slept with a stranger and left right after could not be a good person, Percy justified. Percy wouldn’t have left after. He would’ve stayed and gotten breakfast with his partner. He would’ve offered his number, listing the time to call in his schedule full of meetings and his mother’s reminders to come for dinner at such-and-so time. He would walk out of here with his head held high (never mind the distraught realization that he was no longer suitable for his soul mate), back straight, eyes forward. He would go to the tent his family had set up in the field a little ways from the Quidditch pitch. He would leave now. Really.
“Do you,” Percy paused and swallowed. What was he asking now? A one night stand should not be worth publicly disgracing himself before the barkeep. It should not be worth showcasing his vulnerability about a person he had thought had not even known his name.
“Do I what, lad?” Richard asked, leaning forward a bit to show that he was listening. The man, Percy thought, had known his name though.
“Do you know,” he hesitated and then steeled himself, “what his name was?”
Richard blinked and leaned back away. “Oh. OH. Okay.” He stumbled for a moment. “It’s Oliver. His name is Oliver.”
Percy tried out the name on his lips. It felt good rolling off his tongue, fitting neatly with the image he had of Oliver in the brief flash of memory of those smiling lips and hazel eyes from their conversation in the bar before they found themselves in a room that would lead up to the events that had ended so tragically in Percy’s mind. He smiled, a cynical twist to the corner of his mouth. “Thank you.”
Richard shrugged. “No prob.” They were silent for a moment. When Percy turned to leave, Richard called for him to wait. “Are you here for the Quidditch game?”
Richard grinned. “Just wondering. We get our best business during the season. I will be there. Puddlemere United side.”
“Oh,” Percy grinned wryly. “You might want to stay away from my youngest brother then.”
“Are you a Chudley Cannons fan then?”
“No. I’m here with my family.”
Richard made a noncommittal noise and nodded. “You might want to look into Puddlemere then. I’ve heard they’ve got a new, up-and-coming keeper they are trying for first string for this game.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Percy said as he turned to go again.
“You do that. He’s a good lad.” Richard was smiling at him again as Percy gave him a weird look. He turned and made his way across the room and out the door, Richard’s “Have a good night,” following him into the warm spring breeze.
Despite it being who knew what time in the early hours of the morning it was, everyone except for his father was still up. Ron was regaling Harry with Cannon history and a breakdown of each player while Harry listened attentively, throwing in his own questions and comments here and there. Molly hadn’t allowed Ginny to go (which she threw a fit over), saying that it wasn’t proper to spend the weekend camping with a group of boys (Percy thought that she was concerned over her obvious crush on Harry). Bill and Charlie’s conversation stopped when they saw Percy coming up the path towards their tent, as did the twins who were now sporting identical grins.
“What is this?” Fred asked, getting up from the log he was sitting on. A tease on the tip of his tongue froze as he noticed something odd. “What is that?” he exclaimed, jumping over his twin to wrench Percy’s robe to the side to better see the large hickey on the side of his neck.
“Merlin, Perfect Percy and the Walk of Shame?” George followed, both of them coming to flank Percy on either side. Percy felt himself tense and tried (he really did try) to keep his cheeks from going bright red. By the snickering of the twins and Ron and Harry’s stare, he knew he was failing miserably.
“Couldn’t be,” Fred said.
George nodded. “Fell into the river, did you?” he asked, pulling on a strand of Percy’s wet hair.
“Get intimate with a fish?” Fred asked.
“Even fish know better,” George said.
“Leave it, you,” Charlie said, cuffing George on the head as he came to Percy’s rescue. “Both of you need to go to sleep if you want to be up to watch the teams practice in the morning.”
“But this might actually be more interesting,” George said, attempting to pull his head from the sudden headlock Charlie had him in. “Charlie, ge’off.” Charlie pulled him towards the tent. “Have a good night, Percy,” he leered from over Charlie’s arm.
“Not like you need any more of a good night than you’ve already had,” Fred shot out as he disappeared behind his brother into the tent.
Charlie’s voice came from inside. “Ron, Harry, you too.”
Ron exchanged a glance with Harry before both looked over at Percy who was now standing beside Bill. They looked at each other again, Ron mumbling a good night while Harry got up. “Goodnight,” he called, pulling Ron up and into the tent.
Percy was now alone with Bill, his eldest brother (oh Merlin, what had he done? How could he look anyone in the eyes now?). Bill wrapped an arm around his shoulders and pulled him in. “It’s probably not as bad as you are thinking, Perce,” he told him.
“You don’t know that,” Percy retorted.
“Course I do. I’m your older brother. I know these things. Do you want to talk about it?”
Percy shook his head and Bill sighed. “Alright then. When you’re ready. But I think you need to get some rest too.”
“Let me sleep in,” Percy told him. The last thing he wanted to deal with first thing in the morning were the twins and their teasing and probably his father finding out that something had happened. To be honest though, the twins probably didn‘t think he‘d actually been with someone. They probably thought he didn’t know what the Walk of Shame was.
Bill laughed. “Charlie’s the Quidditch fanatic. I don’t plan on being up until the afternoon. We’ll get up and get something to eat before the game. How’s that?” They were at the tent and Bill pushed the flap open and pushed Percy inside in front of him. He could just see the side of Percy’s face, and the small smile that graced his lips. It was small, but it was a smile all the same. It was a start.
Percy woke up sometime in the early morning. He could hear his brothers getting ready in the next room, his father and Charlie calling over them. Charlie had slept in the twins room last night so that Percy could stay in Bill’s room without the fear of a late night bombardment (no one messed with Bill in sleepy mode). He was exhausted. He looked over to Bill’s immovable form on the other side of the little room and then plopped back down on the pillow. Bill hadn’t moved at all, even when Charlie started after the twins, with their shrieks and taunts as, what it sounded like, they dodged over the sitting area and into the kitchen.
The door opened just enough for a head to pop in. Fred grinned at him. “Good morning, Percy,” he sang, and then shrieked as an arm came out of nowhere, throwing him away from the doorway before another face took its place.
“I will throw something at you,” Bill mumbled into his pillow.
“Sorry about that, Perce, Bill,” Charlie said. He disappeared and closed the door again.
“Breakfast is ready,” Percy heard their father call. He groaned and fell back into the padding under him. He stared up at the ceiling for a moment as he tried to gather the will to go back to sleep or to get up.
“Really, Ron, did you make Harry do all the cooking?” he heard Fred ask.
“Would you want our Ronnikins to touch any kind of kitchen appliance?” George asked.
“I wouldn’t even want him to look at it,” Fred responded.
“Shut up,” he heard Ron say.
Percy groaned and gathered the blankets over his head. He fell asleep to the sound of bickering.
The next time Percy woke up it was to Bill prodding him in the shoulder. “Wake up. I’m hungry.” With that, Bill disappeared out the door, leaving Percy alone in the room to gather himself and get ready. Not even ten minutes later and they were on their way into town in search for something to eat. When Bill indicated a local familiar looking pub advertising a menu catering towards Quidditch fans, Percy just shook his head and kept walking.