Percy Weasley doesn't often consider himself a fool. His idiocy when it came to You-Know-Who returning had been an unfortunate lapse in judgment, but still, he's right most of the time.
But now, as the other survivors of the battle begin to cheer and embrace one another, he feels like someone who has missed the punchline while everyone else laughs at the joke. Why are they all celebrating? Oh, there's You-Know-Who's death, of course, but in this moment while bloodied, weary faces brighten with smiles, Percy just feels like they're back on borrowed time. After all, how long was it after Grindelwald's defeat that You-Know-Who appeared?
He presses his palms to his eyes, which feel gritty, like someone's tossed sand into them. His mother's brothers died during the first war against You-Know-Who, and now Fred is gone and George and Bill will never be quite the same, and Percy wonders if it will be his child who loses his or her life during the next war.
A warm hand suddenly lands on his shoulder, and Percy jumps. "Sorry," a low, familiar voice mutters, and Percy turns to blink at the apologetic look on Oliver Wood's face.
"Oliver," he says after a beat of silence, and the word is sharp with surprise. "What are you-- how did you--" Percy has not seen his yearmate since graduation, and he finds himself drinking in the sight of Oliver almost greedily, taking in the unmarred features.
Oliver smiles at him. It's funny, how he seems shorter than Percy remembers, the past few months shown in the thinness of his face and shadows under his eyes, but his smile hasn't changed a bit. "Good to see you too, Percy." His hand is still on Percy's shoulder, the warmth reassuring, somehow.
Percy clears his throat, which feels suddenly, suspiciously tight. "It's good to see you as well, Oliver." The words come out stiff and almost formal, but Oliver grins and Percy thinks he understands. Then he hesitates. No doubt Oliver has heard about Fred, but if he hasn't--
Oliver must see something in his face, though, because the grin is replaced by a sympathetic look. "I'm sorry," he says, and then grimaces, because the words are hopelessly inadequate, just like Percy's awkward 'It's good to see you.' "That is, I mean--"
"Thank you," Percy says, because it is all he can say, and silence falls between them amidst the continuous cheers of the crowds. He clears his throat again, tries not to think about George looking haunted or his mother's expression when she saw Fred's body, because he will be damned before he breaks down in front of anyone, much less Oliver Wood.
The awkward, suffocating silence stretches on, and Percy is about to say something, anything, to shatter it, when Lee Jordan comes over to thump Oliver on the back, grinning like an idiot. "Did you see Longbottom kill the snake? Never thought he had it in him, really, but hell, that was amazing!"
"It was, wasn't it?" Oliver agrees, a brief grin twitching his lips upward, and then Lee is gone again, to thump someone else on the shoulder and shout enthusiastically, and Oliver's expression shifts to an intense one. It is much the look he wore before a Quidditch match, when he'd pace in their room, muttering about various strategies and often cursing Marcus Flint under his breath.
"I am sorry about Fred," he says now, voice low and barely heard amidst the celebrating. "If-- when the funeral--"
"I'll make certain to let you know," Percy says, just as quiet, and they stand in a different sort of silence as the fireworks begin.