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For some reason, nowadays whenever any team member of the Puddlemere United came to the Ministry for their mandated anti-doping check ups they took a detour afterwards to come visit Percy and examine his eyes to report on their colour.

He didn’t mind at all, but it was a bit strange. He had a sister on another Quidditch team and she never came to his office. But now all of his boyfriend’s teammates came to visit.

Oh, yes, he had a boyfriend now.

More than a boyfriend. “Boyfriend” was a word too small for all the things that Oliver was to him. Oliver was kind and funny and very handsome and sexy and understanding. Oliver had the ability to make Percy go weak in the knees. Oliver knew that sometimes Percy heard voices that didn’t exist and he didn’t mind. Oliver dragged Percy to parties and events but he also brought him books and tea and carried the weight of conversations so Percy wouldn’t have to.

One of his boyfriend’s colleagues wandered now into the department when they were having yet another standoff with the stuck-up bastards from Health and Safety. James (blond) stood in shock as two-thirds of the Department of Transportation aggressively ate fruit at the representative from the Work Hazards Sub-Department. Alice winked at him while she also, inexplicably , managed to eat a date-plum in a murderous way.

Alice was Percy’s friend now. Both Alices were, actually. Thankfully they hadn’t met each other. That would be too many Alices altogether. This Alice might be the first proper friend Percy had made as an adult, though.

Percy was meeting many people now that he was dating Oliver. Every month there was a birthday and one or two Quidditch games that he just had to go to. Percy was learning the names and stories of everyone on Oliver’s team, plus their girlfriends and boyfriends and families. He suddenly had quite the active social life and at times it was exhausting. But beyond that, Percy had made a friend all by himself. One that didn’t come from Oliver’s side. He wasn’t sure how he had managed to make a new friend past the age of twenty-four.

She shouldn’t be Percy’s friend because she was his employee but Alice didn’t care. At some point she had decided she liked Percy as a person and this meant showing interest in his life, sharing baked goods with him, having lunch together in the break room twice a week and discussing muggle cinema.

Alice was a good friend.

Percy wore his goblin ring on the little finger of his left hand. He liked touching it with his thumb while he thought. He hadn’t put any stones in it yet, even though the voices still said that they would like a small light green one and Percy also thought he would like to get a lavender one, like the eyes of the goblin who had gifted him the ring. He had seen him one more time in the library but they didn’t talk.

Anyway, he was taking things slow with the ring.

Instead, when spring came Percy got a tattoo. Nothing fancy or moving, it didn’t even have charms imbued. It was just the stars that made the constellation of Orion, drawn on the left side of his chest, in that place that wasn’t neck and wasn’t shoulder and that Oliver liked to kiss so much. The stars lived there now with Percy’s freckles and they gave him a profound sense of peace. Percy was messed up in many aspects, but he was also all right.

He didn’t plan on getting any more tattoos, not even for when he eventually married Oliver, and yet at the end of the next winter Oliver accompanied him to get a new one on his right wrist, so low that it was almost his hand. Many people were shocked by it because Percy didn’t seem the type to get a tattoo, let alone one so visible. Oliver was always happy to smugly inform them that Percy had another one, much bigger, and that would distract their attention so they wouldn’t ask any more questions about the little firecracker on his wrist. It was a very important reminder.

But that was a story for next winter.