When Percy was eight he took Charlie’s broom out for a joyride. It was the first day of summer and Charlie and Bill were downstairs with their parents, being big boys now and going to Hogwarts, and look at how they were growing so tall. His dad had been proud enough of Charlie for making the Quidditch team that he had bought him a broom. Fred and George thought it was the coolest thing and Charlie had spent the afternoon lifting them as high as the roof of their house while the rest of the family watched from below.
Percy had spent all winter running after the twins, fixing their owies, keeping them out of trouble, cleaning their messes, and entertaining them. Yet when Charlie came home with his new broom, Percy was no longer the cool big brother. Charlie was the big brother. Bill was the big brother. Percy apparently was a stand-in when they weren’t there.
He had watched Fred and George shriek and scream and laugh as Charlie did lazy loops in the backyard. Percy didn’t get to go high. He stood off to the side with Molly as she yelled at Charlie to be careful. But he wondered what it was like to fly into the sky. To feel the wind whip through his hair and to be able to go anywhere he wanted. The sky was filled with the breathtaking promise of freedom.
He didn’t really mean for what happen to have happened. He didn’t even mean to go outside of the house at all. He had just wanted to hover in the room for a moment just to get a taste of what it was like so that he could realize that it really wasn’t all that great (except it had to be great because it was what Charlie did and even Percy looked up to him). He wasn’t expecting the broom to shoot forward and out the window -- to be fair he didn’t know the proper way of handling a broom. But then he was outside and the wind really was that great and the sky opened up before him, the stars inviting in their brightness. He laughed as he went higher and higher. Maybe, just maybe, he could go high enough to capture one of the stars and bring it back to show Fred and George that he could be just as cool as Charlie.
His shriek of joy echoed over the field and he lifted his arms up as though they were wings. But then something happened. The wind was too strong, he wasn’t hanging onto the broom in the proper way, his legs weren’t where they were supposed to be. And then he fell.
Inside Molly Weasley had no idea that anything was amiss. The little ones were asleep. The twins were exhausted from their day so there were no worries about them sneaking out of bed for at least this night. Bill was complaining about Professor Snape, with Charlie adding his own running commentary (was that laughter she just heard?) on what he thought about the-
“Charlie, language,” Molly snapped as she got up to inspect the noise. She was sure Fred and George would have slept through the night after today. He gave her a sheepish grin in response and nodded. She walked over to the stairs and peered up them.
If she hadn’t moved, Charlie would have never seen the clock that was situated behind her head. He would never have seen as Percy’s dial moved from “Away” to “In Danger”. As it was, he saw it and froze for a moment before bolting to the backdoor, yelling out Percy’s name, and got outside just in time to see a little body disappear into the grass.
After painful bone reconstructions at the hospital and bruises bigger than the size of his entire hand, Molly swore that she would never let him out of her sight again. After seeing Charlie apologizing and crying and refusing to leave Percy’s side for the duration of his stay at the hospital, Percy swore that he would never do anything so reckless. Besides it had been embarrassing. And Charlie’s broom was gone.
Percy learned at a young age that freedom had more problems than was worth it.
So with this conviction of course he would be sitting right next to a broom on the train. There was no one with it. It was just a broom. And Percy was eyeing it like it was going to do something awful to him. So when the owner of the said offending item entered the car to plop in the seat right next to it and proceed to check it over like Percy did with the twins whenever they were young and constantly getting into dangerous, where-they-weren’t-supposed-to-be places, Percy started eyeing him like he was going to do something awful to him.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise with the way Percy was staring at the cooing idiot (didn’t he know how dangerous those things were?) that the boy would notice this. But Percy still jerked and tried to hold very, very still as brown eyes met his. The boy after a moment grinned at him and held out his hand. “Hey, mate,” he said.
The hand came towards him. The hand that had been touching that awful thing came towards him. Percy could feel his shoulders tense even more as he tried to meld with the seat behind him. Just like he hadn’t meant to go flying out a window into the swamp when he was eight, he hadn’t meant to say what he did. But after a snarled “That’s not my name.” came from his lips, he was up and out the door. Bill never mentioned the sudden appearance of his little brother at his side on the train ride to Hogwarts, nor the weirded glances a sandy-haired, rather talkative kid kept giving the bundle who almost refused to be separated from him once off the train. He didn’t mention either the terrified look that overcame Percy when the boy (announced as Oliver Wood) was sorted into Gryffindor right after him. But he did start eyeing the boy suspiciously, and knocked Charlie’s arm at the dinner table to point out the stiff posture of their brother as he stared at Oliver sitting across from him at the table gobbling down his food.
After dinner and a brief explanation of the rules (from Bill as he was the Head Boy) and Bill and Charlie’s constant persistence to have one or the other near him at all times, and multiple reassurances that he would be alright sleeping in a new strange place (they seemed oddly highly concerned), Percy finally managed to make it to his room. There were only two beds, and Percy realized with dread that Oliver had been the only other boy sorted into Gryffindor in his year. No one would be able to hear him scream. He was going to go flying out a window again. Never mind, he might just jump and get it over with now. But, wait- where was?
Oliver came into the room to see Percy peering under his bed. Oliver thought his roommate was insane. Percy thought his roommate was a reckless fool. And this pretty much summed up their relationship through the next four years. It wouldn’t be until the fifth year that something changed. And this is where our story starts.