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Something Unexpected

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His date hadn’t yet arrived.

Percy drank another swallow from his pint, berating himself for ever allowing himself to be talked into a blind date, especially so soon after the end of his last relationship. Ron and Ginny had both sung the person’s praises, however, promising the man they wanted him to meet was better than Oliver Wood ever was, nagging so much and resembling Mum to such a frightening degree that Percy had agreed to meet this paragon of perfection just to get them to leave off. Clearly, backing down had been a huge mistake.

He wondered when tardiness crossed the line into stood up, and drank again, glancing at the watch he’d received for his seventeenth birthday. He’d give it another fifteen minutes and then he fully intended to pay his younger siblings a visit and give them what-for.

The pub door opened, admitting a brown-haired man a few years younger than Percy. He had a round, pleasant face, was neatly dressed, and appeared more than a little nervous. Percy recognised him almost instantly, stunned. He’d had no idea until now that Neville Longbottom was gay, hadn’t heard even a whisper of a rumour. A moment later the other man spotted him as well, offered a friendly, albeit shy smile, and joined him.

“I’m sorry I’m late,” Neville said, sitting on the adjacent barstool. “I was working with Professor Sprout at the school and lost track of time. I’m usually more punctual.”

“You’re my blind date?” Percy’s fingers tightened around his pint glass. Ron and Ginny had set him up with one of the most famous persons in the Wizarding world behind Harry Potter and the rest of what the Daily Prophet called the Golden Trio? The Hero of Hogwarts, the man responsible for leading the resistance at the school during the last months of Voldemort’s reign of terror and who had then fought with distinction and uncommon valour during the final battle? This close up, he could see the thin scars on Neville’s cheeks, slowly fading to white lines.

“I guess.” Neville’s lips twitched. “Unless you’re not Ron’s brother anymore?”

The question startled Percy into a rueful chuckle. “Yes, still his brother, though I’m certain there have been times he wished otherwise. You said you were working with Professor Sprout?”

The bartender approached and Neville ordered his own pint before answering. “The greenhouses were badly damaged during the…well, you know. The giants made quite a mess and I’ve been helping her set things to rights again. That, and she’s planning to retire in a couple of years and I think she wants me to take her place when she does.”

“You sound unsure. You don’t want to be a professor?”

Neville shrugged, accepting the glass the bartender pushed his way and handing over his coins. “I know I want to work with plants. It’s all I know or ever really wanted. I’d have that chance as Herbology professor. I don’t know if I’d be any good at teaching, though. So Ron tells me you’re the new Undersecretary to Minister Shacklebolt?”

“Yes. It’s hard work in its own way, helping the Minister clean up corruption. I mean, it had been ongoing even before Voldemort and the Death Eaters took over; but until Thicknesse became Minister after Scrimgeour was murdered I had no idea how deeply it ran. Stupid, I know, considering how long I’d already been working at the Ministry. You’d think I would have noticed sooner.”

“Not stupid.” Neville shook his head. “I’m sure there are plenty of good people there who were as equally unaware. I imagine you’ll be as good an undersecretary as you were a prefect or Head Boy at Hogwarts.”

“From what Ron tells me, I think you’ll make a fine professor,” Percy replied, hiding a smile when Neville turned pink at the praise. “There are different ways to make the world a better place.”

They talked for hours, about the war, about their career plans, about the lives they’d led since the war ended. Eventually they left the pub and made their way to one of Percy’s favourite eateries, where they shared an enjoyable meal and some good wine and another couple of hours of conversation. Following dinner they stopped at an all-night coffeehouse, where dawn found them still talking, and then they went for breakfast.

It was easily one of the most pleasant twelve hours Percy had ever spent. It was most definitely the most promising blind date he’d ever had. He’d never felt so at ease so quickly with anyone he’d just met. He didn’t know if Neville felt the same way, but Percy couldn’t wait to see him again, pleased when Neville accepted his invitation to accompany Percy to a Quidditch match the following week.

~*~*~*~*~*

Nearly a week later, Percy ‘happened’ to cross paths with Violetta Berry of the International Trading Standards Body, juggling three pots of flowering switchgrass. He stepped forward and caught the top pot as it teetered, earning a grateful smile from Berry.

“Thank you,” the witch said. “I probably should have put a Locomotor spell on them but I was in a hurry. Pomona expected these yesterday.”

“Pomona Sprout? The Herbology professor?”

“The same. She’s trying to replace as many plants destroyed during the battle at Hogwarts before the new term begins, and she’s been particularly anxious about the switchgrass.” Even with two pots, the woman was having difficulty with the contents’ excessive swaying.

Percy hesitated. He and Neville were already due to meet tomorrow with plans to attend a match between the Appleby Arrows and the Tutshill Tornadoes; but the idea of surprising Neville a day early appealed.

“Actually, Miss Berry, if you’re busy I’d be more than happy to take these to the school for you,” Percy offered. “I already have business to attend to in Hogsmeade, and the school itself isn’t far.” It wasn’t exactly a lie, was it?

The other witch beamed. “Are you sure it wouldn’t be any trouble? There’s so much I still have to get done today, and this would help. You won’t tell my supervisor I foisted these on you?”

“It would be my pleasure,” Percy assured her. Truly, he didn’t add. He took the other pots anyway, before Miss Berry could change her mind. “I assure you I won’t say anything to your supervisor.”

It wasn’t until he had the pots and the witch had gone on her way that reality struck. He’d intentionally broken a rule just for the opportunity to see Neville again.

He stood in the corridor, rooted to the spot, ignoring the other Ministry employees jostling him, his mind whirling. He’d intentionally broken a rule just for the opportunity to see Neville again. What in the world had got into him?

Someone else bumped into him, nearly making him drop one of the potted switchgrass specimens, and he lurched back into motion, making his way to one of the Apparition points.

“You’d better be worth it,” he muttered under his breath as he disappeared with a quiet pop. Reappearing on the outskirts of Hogsmeade, he set a Locomotor charm on the potted plants and started toward the school.

A great many repairs had been made to Hogwarts in the ensuing weeks since Voldemort’s defeat, but there was still much work to be done. The stone walls smashed by the giants were in the process of being replaced block by block, and some of the window casements remained empty of glass. The great doors leading into the school itself still hung askew, though new doors were being built while Percy watched.

Most of the greenhouses had suffered damage of some kind, the herb and flower beds surrounding them trampled upon and the ground disturbed. Percy didn’t see Professor Sprout, but he easily spotted Neville, bare-chested, kneeling in the summer sun as he carefully replanted one of the plant beds. His back gleamed with sweat, his shoulders reddened from sunburn.

He glanced up as Percy approached, a wide smile of pleased surprise crossing his round face as he got to his feet, pulling off his gardening gloves and letting them drop to the ground.

“I wasn’t expecting you!” Neville said brightly, hurrying forward to grab one of the floating pots of flowering switchgrass. “I didn’t think personal deliveries were included among your duties.”

“It’s not,” Percy replied, dragging his gaze from Neville’s chest to meet his eyes. “I offered.”

“You did? Why?” Neville hesitated, a look of incipient disappointment crossing his face. “You want to call off tomorrow, don’t you.”

“Call off…?” Percy blinked before shaking his head in frantic negation. Why would Neville think that… “No, I’m very much looking forward to tomorrow. I – I didn’t want to wait that long. I had the opportunity to visit, and I took it. I wanted to see you.”

Neville looked up at him, shyly pleased. “You wanted to see me for no reason at all?”

“That surprises you?” Percy asked, a little surprised himself.

“A little, yes.” Neville reached for a second potted plant. “Until I reformed the DA people didn’t usually seek me out intentionally, and now that the war’s over I wasn’t expecting that to continue. There’s lemonade in Professor Sprout’s office. Would you like some?”

“Lemonade sounds wonderful.” Percy, carrying the third plant, followed Neville to the office, wondering why Neville had changed the subject so abruptly. He was nearly as big a celebrity in the Wizarding world now as Potter himself, and he didn’t like to talk about that fame? Interesting.

Neville set down his plants on the desk, turned to take the one Percy held, and tilted his head, indicating Percy sit down. Pulling two clean glasses, Neville opened a small icebox located in a corner of the office and retrieved a pitcher of lemonade.

“Prof – I mean, Pomona likes lemonade, better than pumpkin juice, so the house elves make sure she always has some on hand,” Neville explained, pouring the drink into the glasses. “They like her.”

“They don’t like you?” Percy asked, surprised again.

“Oh, they like me well enough,” Neville replied, handing a glass to Percy. “They just don’t know me well enough to know my preferences like they do Pr – I mean, Pomona. I’m still getting used to the fact that I don’t have to call her ‘professor’ anymore.”

The lemonade was the perfect mix of sweet and tart on Percy’s tongue, and he drank deeply. He watched Neville sip from his own glass before sitting down in the other chair and leaning back. He straightened an instant later with a hiss of pain, moving quickly to the edge of his seat.

“Sunburn?” Percy asked sympathetically. He never took off his shirt, knowing what the sun could do to his own milk-pale complexion. Neville wasn’t quite as fair-skinned, but even from where he was sitting Percy thought the redness covering Neville’s shoulders looked painful.

“Yeah.” Neville straightened further with a small wince. “I tend to burn first before tanning, but I lost track of time today. I hadn’t realised I’d been in the sun so long before you arrived.”

Percy drank another swallow of lemonade before setting the glass aside. “I could go see Madam Pomfrey, maybe bring back something that could help?”

“Already got something,” Neville answered, opening one of the desk drawers and pulling out a jar. “P-pomona always keeps some of this on hand. It’s good stuff.” He looked at it, then at Percy, his already sunburned cheeks turning a deeper red. “Um. Would you, um, mind? I can’t reach my shoulders.”

Nobody could be that guileless, Percy thought, looking into Neville’s earnest brown eyes. He’d practically invited Percy to seduce him, and he apparently had no clue he’d issued just such an invitation. Neville might be Ron’s age, but in moments such as this he seemed much younger. Belatedly, Percy wondered if he was the first person Neville had ever dated. The thought was undeniably exciting.

Controlling the fine trembling in his fingers with effort, Percy accepted the jar and opened it. The scents of lavender, strawberries, and other ingredients he couldn’t name wafted to his nose. Neville had already turned around, head bent, his over-long hair falling forward and obscuring his face. Percy swallowed, hard, and dipped two fingers into the jar of pink sunburn cream.

Neville shivered as Percy smoothed the concoction over the sunburned areas, fingers gentle as he slowly rubbed it into the reddened skin of his shoulders and upper back. Percy felt it as subtle tension flowed from the other man, melting away as the cream did its work. Sighing in mingled pleasure and relief, Neville reached back with one hand, pushing his hair from his nape so that Percy could smooth more cream there without gumming the hair.

Percy hesitated, unable to tear his gaze from the tender exposed skin; and before he could overanalyse and possibly lose his nerve, he leaned down and brushed his lips over the back of Neville’s neck, breathing in the scent of strawberry and lavender from the sunburn cream along with the earthier aromas of soil and sweat and sunlight. Even Oliver hadn’t smelled this good, this warm and inviting.

“What are you doing?” The question came out as a shocked squeak. Neville straightened abruptly, peering over his shoulder to look at Percy with wide eyes. Percy wiped his fingers clean of sunburn cream before closing them around Neville’s chin so he couldn’t look away.

“I think I want to kiss you now,” Percy said softly, “if that’s all right with you.”

He was rewarded with a smile of such breathtaking sweetness Percy couldn’t think of anything else to say. Instead, he moved around the chair, facing him directly. Closing the scant distance between them, he pressed his lips to Neville’s, who made a small, muffled noise in the back of his throat, eyes slipping shut a moment before Percy’s.

Percy teased at the seam of Neville’s lips with his tongue, coaxing them apart until they parted, granting him entrance, acquiescing to the pressure of Percy’s mouth against his own. His hands, pressed against Percy’s upper arms, gradually relaxed as the kiss deepened.

Neville tasted as warm as he felt, with an underlying rich bitterness like good ale. Percy stifled a moan as his tongue stroked along Neville’s, savouring the velvety sensation as Neville hesitantly mirrored him, letting them curl and intertwine in lazy exploration.

Encouraged, Percy gave in to his own desires, plundering Neville’s mouth, alternating small, nibbling bites with deep thrusts of his tongue, letting it tangle and weave with Neville’s. His hands cupped Neville’s face within his palms, fingers feathering over his cheeks before sliding into soft, wavy hair. Neville’s grip had shifted, moving from Percy’s arms to his shoulders, kneading them without knowing he did so, nearly clinging.

He drew back slowly with a final nip to Neville’s bottom lip. Neville opened his eyes, his breathing coming more quickly than it had a few minutes earlier. His hands dropped from Percy’s shoulders to his lap, then lifted to brush across his swollen mouth. He looked up at Percy in something akin to amazement.

“Where did you learn to kiss like that?”

“You sound surprised.” The words came out more huffily than Percy had intended. “When did you become such an expert?”

Neville looked stricken, followed almost immediately with contrition. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean…it was just…I only meant to say it was brilliant.”

“Oh.” Percy looked down, feeling a twinge of guilt at jumping to conclusions. Instinct and first impressions were one thing, snap judgments quite another. He’d completely misunderstood and now Neville was looking at him anxiously.

“I’m sorry,” he said again.

“Don’t be.” Percy smiled and leaned forward. “I’m older than you; I’ve simply had more practise. How do your shoulders feel now?”

Neville flexed experimentally, lifting one shoulder, then the other, shrugging up and down a few times. “That’s much better.” He got to his feet with obvious reluctance. “I should find my shirt. I don’t want to undo everything you’ve done.”

“My pleasure,” Percy said. “I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“I’ve been looking forward to it all week,” Neville replied, smiling.

~*~*~*~*~*

“Merlin, that was awful,” Neville opined the following day. “That had to have been the shortest match in the history of Quidditch.”

Percy was inclined to agree. Appleby’s Seeker had caught the Snitch twenty seconds into the match, giving the Arrows a 150-0 victory over the Tutshill Tornadoes. Many of the spectators hadn’t even had the opportunity to get comfortable in their seats before it was time to leave.

“We still have the rest of the day before us,” he said. “There’s a pond behind the Burrow. How about packing a picnic lunch, maybe take a swim afterward? It’s a good day for both.”

Neville had brightened at the mention of a picnic before frowning. “I – I don’t know how to swim,” he admitted, looking crestfallen.

“You can still wade,” Percy answered, undeterred. “There’s a pier, you could just dabble your toes if you want. Or…I could teach you to swim.”

“Let’s have the picnic first. I want to see the pond before I decide.”

Taking hold of Neville’s arm, Percy Apparated them both to the Burrow. His parents were off visiting Bill and Fleur, and Ron and Ginny were spending the day with Luna, so they had the house to themselves for the next several hours. The timing and the setting couldn’t be more favourable if Percy had planned it.

Once inside, they made ham and cheese sandwiches. They also found cold chicken, a jar of pickles and half of a blackberry pie in the pantry. Percy packed it all into a wicker basket along with a tablecloth, plates and cutlery. He added a bottle of elderberry wine after a moment’s consideration, and then he put in a pot of Mum’s sunburn cream. Neville’s sunburn was better, but by the end of the day Percy had no doubt he’d have one as well.

“Mum will probably want you to stay for dinner too, if we’re still here when she and Dad return,” Percy said, hoisting the basket. “Your Gran isn’t expecting you home anytime soon, is she?”

Neville shook his head. “This is bridge night. She won’t be home until late.”

Better and better. The knowledge that he couldn’t wait to get Neville alone again made Percy smile. “Ready?”

Rather than Apparate, they walked past the back garden, the open field beyond and through the line of trees to the pond. Neville spread the tablecloth out on the pier’s wooden surface while Percy unpacked the food and wine. A couple of Cushioning charms made things even more comfortable, and they settled down to eat.

“You never learned to swim?” Percy asked, swallowing a mouthful of sandwich, dabbing at the corner of his mouth with a serviette. “Why not?”

Neville looked away, toward the calm green waters of the pond. “I nearly drowned when I was six. My great-uncle tossed me off the end of Blackpool Pier, trying to force some show of magic from me. My family was afraid I might be a Squib, you see. Nothing happened, except I’ve been afraid of deep water ever since.”

“But that’s horrible!” Percy said, shocked. “I certainly hope that was the end of attempting such dangerous tactics!”

“Not until he dropped me out the window and I bounced,” Neville said matter-of-factly. Percy figured after his childhood experiences a few Cutting hexes thrown by the Carrows was no big deal.

“I can teach you, if you like,” he said, biting again into his sandwich. “Bill taught me. It’s quite simple, really. I promise we won’t ever go past chest-high water.”

Neville hesitated before giving a tiny nod. “All right.”

Percy was a believer in the old wives tale warning against swimming immediately following a meal, so after they’d eaten they removed their shoes and socks, sitting on the edge of the pier and dangling their feet in the water. Percy opened the bottle of elderberry wine, took a swig, and passed it to Neville.

“Who was your favourite Minister for Magic to work for?” Neville asked after several moments of companionable silence.

“Well, Fudge was a bit of an idiot, but he was the one who gave me my first opportunity, so I’ll always be grateful to him for that,” Percy replied. “I liked Minister Scrimgeour a great deal. I believe he honestly tried to do the best he could with a bad situation. He didn’t deserve to die as he did.” He made a face. “I won’t even mention Thicknesse, other than the fact that I took great delight in hexing him during the battle at Hogwarts.”

He fell silent, biting his lip. Fred had been killed a few minutes later, and Percy still felt guilty. He’d been there when it happened, he should have been able to do something to prevent it…He cleared his throat, realising Neville was still looking at him expectantly.

“Shacklebolt seems a right fair bloke,” he said at last. “I don’t envy him the task of putting the Ministry to rights, sorting through who was loyal and who was corrupt, deciding who had truly under the Imperius Curse and who’s saying it just to avoid a trip to Azkaban. He seems ready for the challenge, though. Eager, even.”

“He’ll have you to help,” Neville said. “Between the two of you, you’ll start to have things smoothed out in no time.”

“It’s nice to know someone has faith in my abilities,” Percy said ruefully. “Speaking of which, are you ready for your first swimming lesson?”

Neville gave him an equally rueful smile. “I swam right into that one, didn’t I?”

Laughing, Percy removed his glasses and pulled his shirt over his head. Folding it neatly, he set it to one side and reached for his belt buckle. Neville followed after a moment, and they stripped down to their underpants.

“I’ll meet you on the bank,” Percy said, and leaped off the pier with a whoop, folding himself into a cannonball just before he hit the water.

Surfacing with a splutter, Percy shook wet hair from his eyes and tread water, glancing toward the bank. Neville stood at the water’s edge, watching his obvious enjoyment and looking less than enthusiastic even through Percy’s blurred, near-sighted vision.

“Come in, the water feels fantastic!”

Neville heaved a sigh and waded in slowly, feeling his way with each step as though expecting the ground to fall away beneath him at any moment. Percy waited until he stood waist-deep before paddling over to meet him.

“First things first,” Percy said. “Hold your nose and go under for a second, just long enough to get wet all over, and then I’ll show you how to float.”

Still looking dubious, Neville complied, scraping his sopping hair back from his face with both hands once he resurfaced. “Haven’t drowned yet,” he said.

“Nor will you,” Percy assured him. “Bill taught me how to swim, but I taught Ron and Ginny; and they’re still alive.” He closed the remaining distance between them, bracing one arm against Neville’s lower back and resting the other on his belly, just above the waistband of his boxers. “Everyone floats. Everyone. Even when your great-uncle threw you off the pier you rose to the surface like a cork, right?”

“Yes, but I sank again,” Neville argued. “I couldn’t stay on the surface.”

“That’s because you were too busy thrashing and panicking,” Percy said firmly. “You didn’t know how to float. Now, I’m going to tip you back until your back is on top of the water. I’ll have my arm across your back the whole time. When I tell you to, lift your legs as well, like you’re lying in bed. I’ll be supporting you the entire time, I promise. Ready?”

Taking a deep breath, Neville nodded and closed his eyes, consciously relaxing tense muscles. Percy waited a few moments before bending him back into the water, supporting him with his arm, letting Neville get comfortable. “All right, what now?”

“Now raise your legs…right, just like that…good! No, no, I’ve got you, I’ve got you…relax, my arm’s still there, feel it? Good…good…”

Neville got the trick of it on the fourth try, and only then did Percy slowly remove his supporting arm, leaving Neville floating without assistance. He didn’t even have to tell him how to use his arms to scull the water; Neville picked it up automatically. Percy lay back as well once he was certain Neville had the hang of it, and together they floated on the pond’s surface, sculling lazily and looking up at the tree branches and patches of sky overhead.

“Not bad for a first lesson,” Percy said. “We’ll have you dog-paddling before you know it, and then you’ll be diving headfirst off the pier, and then you’ll be winning all the swimming races, and then…”

He was interrupted by a splash and a choked cry that quickly turned into a gurgle. Percy rolled out of his floating position just in time to see Neville sink, inexplicably curled into a ball as he went under the green water.

Stomach cramp, Percy’s mind reported, the same time that he dove under, seizing Neville by one arm and pulling him forward, wrapping an arm around his chest before kicking toward the surface. He could feel Neville twitching in his grasp, muscles contracting and jumping wildly beneath the skin.

Breaking the surface, making sure Neville’s head was above the water, Percy dragged him toward the edge of the pond. He tried to help, still doubled over from whatever it was that had inflicted him so suddenly, staggering into Percy before collapsing on the bank and curling up again, coughing and gasping.

Percy dropped to his knees beside him, heedless of the mud squishing beneath his legs. “Neville, where does it hurt? Neville, talk to me, do I need to Apparate you back to the house, or to St Mungo’s? Neville, look at me!”

Still spasming, Neville shook his head, biting his lower lip. He shook for another interminable minute before he managed to wheeze, “D-don’t worry, it’s…not…the first…time…It’s…getting better now…really…”

Slowly, the most obvious cramping lessened, though Percy could still see various tics and twitches quivering through Neville’s limbs. He sat down carefully with Neville’s head in his lap, fingers combing through his wet, mud-streaked hair, hoping it soothed.

“What happened just now?” he asked quietly. “That wasn’t your ordinary average muscle cramp.”

“It’s what happens when you’re Cruciated at least three times a week for months on end by various students and professors,” Neville said, nearly spitting the last word. “If I wasn’t being used for target practise during Dark Arts classes, I was tortured during detention. It’s a fairly common side effect, I guess.” He sighed, closing his eyes. “Madam Pomfrey couldn’t do anything before; she wasn’t allowed. She did manage to tell me it’ll fade in time, provided I’m not hit with the curse anytime in the near future; and that there was something I could do whenever I had an attack that worked almost as well as the potion she couldn’t give.”

“What? Tell me, and maybe I can help.”

Shockingly, Neville giggled, though it made him wince. “I’m sure you could. She – she said that short of a healing potion, the next best thing was to – was to, um, masturbate.”

Percy’s fingers stilled in Neville’s hair. “You’re joking.”

“It’s true,” Neville replied, a faint blush colouring his pale cheeks. “She said that…” he frowned, trying to remember, “…that pain and pleasure were similar in nature, so in order to fight the pain I needed to combat it with something that felt equally good, and nothing feels better than – than sex. Or wanking, if there wasn’t anyone to have sex with.”

It wasn’t any more strange than using chocolate to dispel the feelings of hopelessness and despair brought about by even cursory contact with Dementors, Percy thought, trying to process this new information in a calm, rational, and reasonable manner. Neville was hurting. There was nothing the slightest bit prurient in wanting to…help.

Neville hadn’t made any move to rectify the situation either, despite the residual tics and twitches as random muscles contracted and let go. Percy wondered if he had always suffered alone until now. He probably had; Neville wouldn’t meet Percy’s eyes, and the blush suffusing his cheeks hadn’t diminished despite his discomfort.

“I’ve probably scared you off now, haven’t I?” Neville’s misery marked every line of his face. “And just when I thought…”

“Just when you thought what?” Percy asked when he didn’t continue.

“Nothing.” Neville struggled to sit, breath hitching, every movement stiff. “I think I should probably Floo home. I have a bottle of potion there.”

Percy shifted with him, moving until Neville was practically in his lap, muddy back pressed against Percy’s chest, linking both arms around him. Bending his head, he whispered into Neville’s ear.

“Let me help.”

“Percy…”

Percy rested one hand on Neville’s groin, cupping him gently through the damp fabric of his boxers, and began rubbing and stroking, coaxing him to erection. Neville’s breath caught at the first caress, exhaled in a small moan, hips moving, pressing into Percy’s hand. His head fell back against Percy’s shoulder, leaving his neck and jaw exposed, perfect for light, feathery kisses meant to incite. Percy didn’t even try to resist the temptation, lips brushing over Neville’s skin, making him shiver.

Percy…

“Please don’t think I’m taking advantage of your plight, please,” Percy whispered fervently between kisses. “Please believe I only want to help. I won’t touch you again after this unless you want it, I swear. Let me do this for you. You don’t have to go through this alone, not any more, let me, let me, please…”

He continued murmuring soft reassurances, feeling Neville lengthen and harden in his palm as he squeezed and stroked. He continued nibbling and kissing Neville’s jaw and the spot just below his ear, his free hand skimming over Neville’s chest until he found a nipple, rolling it between his fingers, toying with it until it rose into a hard, tight peak before moving to the other.

Neville writhed within the circle of his arms, hips bucking into Percy’s hand, soft cries and whimpers erupting from his throat between hitching breaths and intoxicating sighs. His face was flushed now, not from embarrassment or shame, but arousal, his eyes heavy-lidded and glazed with pleasure, not pain.

He didn’t protest when Percy paused long enough to hook his fingers beneath the waistband of his boxers, lifting his hips and allowing him to slide them down just enough to free his erection. Percy grazed it with his fingertips, touching the hot, rigid length for the first time, his thumb skating over the velvety purple head. Neville arched into the caress with a cry, and Percy did it again before wrapping his fingers around Neville’s cock and stroking with firm surety.

Neville came less than a minute later, groaning, his cock pulsing his seed over Percy’s hand and onto his belly, painting it with pearly strings. Even then Percy continued stroking, coaxing his orgasm from him until Neville fell back against him, sated and boneless, the only sound his soft, panting breaths.

“Better?” Percy asked, once Neville’s breathing steadied, unable to hide his anxiety completely. His own erection prodded Neville’s back, aching and ignored. He’d take care of it later.

Neville nodded, blinking drowsily. He snuggled against Percy’s chest, heedless of the mud smearing them both. “I didn’t mean to scare you,” he murmured. “It’s been awhile since I had an attack that bad. Usually I can hide it from others. I tell Gran it’s a headache, or a charley horse. I think you and Madam Pomfrey are the only ones who know the truth.”

Percy didn’t know how to respond. What had prompted Neville to confess to such a personal secret, so soon? “I – I’m honoured by your trust,” he said finally. “But why? We barely know each other.”

Tilting his head back, Neville said with complete sincerity, “We will.”

Once Neville felt up to it, they rinsed away the worst of the mud and muck in the pond. Percy gathered their clothing and the picnic basket, settled his glasses firmly back onto his nose, and Apparated them back to the Burrow. They could have walked, but Percy didn’t want to take any chances.

No one had returned yet. Settling Neville into a chair at the kitchen table with a plate of biscuits and a pot of tea, Percy left him alone long enough for a shower and a quick, desperately needed wank. He came hard after only a few moments, leaning against the shower tiles, letting the hot water sluice over him, wondering how one week could make such a difference in his life.

Neville had enough time for a shower of his own before Percy’s parents returned home from visiting Bill and Fleur. Molly took one look at his face, still slightly pale beneath the sunburn, and insisted he stay for dinner.

Percy hid his smile behind one hand. Having been invited to stay, Neville’s eventual inclusion in the family was practically guaranteed.

~*~*~*~*~*

Keeping his promise not to touch Neville in the weeks following that frightening afternoon at the pond wasn’t easy. It wasn’t that they never touched at all; it seemed that Neville’s fingers were always weaving through his whenever they were alone; and they could, and often did spend hours kissing in the privacy of Percy’s London flat, wrapped around each other in a world of their own making. The temptation was always there, yet Percy somehow managed. Neville seemed perfectly content with kissing and snuggling for the time being, and Percy was determined not to ask for more, no matter how much his body yearned for further intimacy.

Neville’s parents had set up a trust fund for him when he’d been born, and the monies became available on his eighteenth birthday. His first major purchase came in October, when he bought a small house on the outskirts of Hogsmeade. Percy spent an entire weekend helping him move in.

Sunday evening found them on the sofa, surrounded by unpacked boxes, Percy’s arm slung comfortably around Neville’s shoulders as they watched the flames dance in the fireplace.

“It’s been quite the year for you,” Percy said, giving his shoulders a squeeze. “Finishing school, apprenticing with Professor Sprout, learning to swim, buying a new house…oh yes, and helping to save the world. Mustn’t forget that. What else is on your agenda, Mr Longbottom?”

“I had nothing to do with saving the world, and you know it,” Neville demurred. “That was all Harry’s doing. All I did was kill a snake and fight a few Death Eaters. You forgot the best and most important thing that happened to me this year.”

“Oh? What would that be?”

“Being with you.” Neville turned toward Percy, eyes alight. “This will be my first night in the house, now that we’ve got the furniture moved in. I want to spend it with you.” His hand went to Percy’s groin, cupping him through his trousers. “I want to spend it with you.”

The intent was unmistakable. Percy rested his hand atop Neville’s, unable to prevent the curl of arousal winding through him. “Neville, are you sure? You’re only eighteen, we’ve only been together a couple of months, we might find out we’re really not suited to each other. I don’t want you to make any hasty decisions you might regret.”

“I won’t regret anything,” Neville said with unexpected ferocity. “I’ve known since that day at the pond that I wanted to be with you. Even if we don’t work out, I’ll still have this to remember. I want this. I want you.”

“Neville…” Percy began, but was stopped from saying more when warm lips covered his own as Neville kissed him with unmistakable passion.

“Stop being so fucking honourable,” Neville panted, breaking the kiss, “and fuck me.”

Percy couldn’t argue any longer, furthermore, he no longer wanted to. Tangling his hands in Neville’s hair, he kissed him again, fingers tightening around the soft strands. “If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do this right,” he said. “I think it’s time we broke in the bed properly, don’t you?”

They left a path of discarded clothing as they kissed and stumbled their way down the hall and into the bedroom. Neville fell back onto the bed, pulling Percy down on top of him, hands moving restlessly over his back and shoulders as they traded hot, hard kisses. His cock prodded against Percy’s thigh, already hard. Percy reached down, closing his fingers around it and giving it a rough stroke, capturing Neville’s moan in his mouth with another kiss.

It had been too long since he’d last heard those frantic, needy sounds from Neville. Percy wasted no time in catching up, removing the last of their clothes, pausing only to remove his glasses and setting them on the bedside table before kissing Neville’s throat, sucking at the tender skin and raising the blood to the surface, leaving a livid red mark behind.

He kissed, licked, and nibbled a damp trail down Neville’s chest until he reached one flat nipple. He took it into his mouth, nipping and suckling, tugging the tautened nub between his teeth, listening to the litany of whimpers and cries pouring from Neville’s throat, the sounds of pleasure fuelling his own as he paid equal time and attention to the other nipple.

Reaching blindly with one hand, Percy snagged a pillow, dragging it to him. “Lift up,” he told Neville hoarsely. He complied, and Percy arranged the pillow beneath his hips before settling between his legs, hands moving to the backs of Neville’s thighs, pushing them up and back, leaving him completely exposed.

Neville cried out in shock and pleasure as Percy bent his head and licked a wet stripe from the base of his sac to his puckered anus. Smiling, he closed his lips over Neville’s entrance, teasing at the wrinkled flesh with his tongue, prodding at the opening until it relaxed beneath his ministrations, Neville mewling and gasping at the new sensations coursing through him.

“Lube?” he asked, voice muffled, the added vibrations wringing a fresh moan from Neville’s throat.

Neville flung out one arm, fumbling at the top drawer of the bedside table until it opened just enough for him to reach inside and pull out a small bottle. “Almond oil,” he gasped, handing it to Percy, head falling back against the pillow.

“Thanks,” Percy replied, bending his head once more. Uncapping the bottle, he massaged the oil into the loosened pucker, drizzling more of the slick substance over his cleft before sliding a finger into him, thrusting it in and out slowly until Neville’s hips moved to meet each thrust. Carefully, he added a second finger, and then a third. Neville whimpered, breath catching as he tightened around Percy’s fingers in an almost painful grip.

Turning his head, Percy kissed the sensitive skin of Neville’s inner thigh, lips moving gently until he relaxed slightly, his breathing quick and light. Percy crooked his fingers, brushing them over the bundle of nerves. Neville shuddered, and Percy stroked over the spot again, and again, making Neville writhe and keen, hips bucking as he fucked himself on Percy’s hand.

“Need you,” he whispered brokenly. “Percy, need you…”

“You have me,” Percy whispered back. He withdrew his fingers, eliciting a whine of loss, and liberally coated his straining cock with the almond oil. Resting his hands on Neville’s thighs, he pushed them back, arranging his legs over Percy’s shoulders as he positioned himself and slowly pushed his way inside, inch by sweet inch.

Neville’s hands clenched at the coverlet as Percy breached him, chest heaving and eyes squeezed shut until Percy was completely inside, encased in slick, tight heat. Percy breathed out slowly, stifling a groan when Neville clenched around him, trying to get accustomed to the feel of Percy’s length buried in his arse.

Sweat beaded Percy’s brow as he resisted the urge to move, to slam into Neville until they both came screaming. His hands ran up and down Neville’s legs soothingly until he felt Neville move the smallest bit and he gave Percy a shaky smile of encouragement.

“It’s okay,” he breathed. “I’m okay. Just feels…strange.”

“First time always does,” Percy agreed breathlessly, and began to move with long, slow, measured thrusts. Neville moved with him, hesitantly at first, moaning when each inward stroke slid over his prostate. His hand closed over his cock, pumping it in time to Percy’s thrusts.

“Faster,” he pleaded. “God, Percy, more…”

He surrendered then, pounding into Neville, feeling the friction build and grow within him, lost in the sound of Neville’s incoherent cries as he drew closer to climax. His fingers closed around Neville’s, encircling his cock, stroking roughly. It only took a few more pulls before Neville came with a strangled shout, arching into their entwined hands and impaling himself until Percy was balls-deep in him, his come spurting over his belly, droplets splashing his chest. The spastic convulsions squeezing Percy’s cock drove him onward, pulling him over the edge as he erupted into Neville, filling him with scalding liquid warmth. Percy threw his head back, hips jerking as he rode out his orgasm.

Percy slumped forward, still buried inside Neville, feeling his legs slip free from his shoulders. Turning his head, he kissed Neville’s chest, tongue darting out to lick at a nipple and chuckling when Neville sucked in a breath. He closed his eyes, feeling Neville’s hand on his head, stroking his hair back from his face.

“Still no regrets?” he asked, once their breathing had evened out. He slid out of Neville, rolling onto his side, meeting Neville’s eyes.

“None,” he answered. “It was everything I hoped it would be.” He pulled a blanket over them, curling into Percy’s warmth. “I have to ask, though.”

“Ask what?”

“The blind date. What were you expecting when you agreed?”

“I wasn’t expecting anything. I’d already had my heart broken once. I wasn’t ready to have it broken again. I figured I’d meet with the bloke Ron and Ginny wanted me to meet, we’d have a few drinks, and that would be it. What I got was better than I’d expected. I got you.” Percy wrapped an arm around Neville, drawing him close. “And I’m not letting go.”

“Mmmm…” Neville’s voice was a drowsy murmur. “Does that mean next weekend we can move your things here too?”