spock: logic is sexy

HP Fic: What Pride Doesn't Know (Percy/Oliver)

Title: What Pride Doesn't Know
Rating: PG
Characters and Pairings Percy/Oliver, various Weasleys
Summary: How Percy Weasley came to dance with Oliver Wood at Ginny's wedding is a long story, and he might have forgotten to tell his family a few parts of it -- like the part about how he's gay, and in a relationship with a man.
Notes: For the prompt Percy decides to skip the whole coming out speech and just dance with Oliver at Ginny's wedding. He'd been worried about his brothers' opinion, but Molly is hurt that he didn't tell her at queer_fest
Word Count: 3500



1.
Percy combed the last canary feathers out of his hair and counted the number of days until he could return to Hogwarts. Twenty-seven. Far too many.

Dear Pen, he wrote. Fred and George offered me a bit of cake today. I took it, fool that I am. Of course, it turned out to be a homemade canary cream, and everyone thought they were very clever and amusing. Except me. Dad and I had just got to talking about the latest Ministry regulations, but it was all over after that. It's a shame too; Dad's been working so much overtime lately that I've barely gotten to see him. Tell me you're enjoying the holiday more than I am.

He sealed the letter with a bit of sealing wax and climbed into bed, consoling himself with the thought that Penny at least understood him. She was loud and gregarious like his brothers, but she never seemed to want him to be different than he was. Just as he did every night, he touched the little wooden box under the bed where he stored Penny's letters. It was brown and nondescript, unlikely to attract his brothers' attention, but he never could be sure. His fingers brushed against a Quidditch magazine he'd filched from Ron, and he sat it on the pillow next to him, still thinking about Penny. Fred and said she had a nice arse, and George had agreed enthusiastically, even adding something about her tits. Naturally, Percy had kept the relationship from them, and though he supposed he ought to have been offended by their comments, he felt himself suffused with a strange pride at having something his brothers would envy. Of course, he was far too much of a gentleman to have noticed Penny's alleged...attributes, and even here in bed, he could not think of her body, only her face.

Idly, he flipped through the pages of the magazine. The articles quickly dissolved into meaningless statistics and baffling sporting terminology, and he found himself once again lingering on the players' long, muscular torsos and angular jaws.

(Later, he would tell Oliver that was when he should have known.)

II.

Penny dumped him in January.

"Could we still be friends?" he asked, not quite looking her in the eye and hating himself for it. He ought to have walked away from her right then, if she didn't need him anymore.

"That's what we are now, silly," she said. "That's the problem."

Percy didn't see the problem, but then he wasn't the one with the rampant hormones, always wanting to snog and...he recoiled from the thought. Sex was for marriage, not before. Was it any wonder the thought of it didn't turn him on when he and Penny hadn't even been together for a year? No, he was a man who enjoyed long conversations and holding hands. He would find a woman who appreciated that.

("You didn't wonder then?" Oliver would ask later, and Percy would shake his head. There were lots of ways to be weird in his family. You could marry a Muggle, collect old wires and plugs, pierce your ears, threaten to run away and tame dragons...but no one had ever said you could be gay. No one ever said people did that, and Percy wasn't looking for more ways not to fit in.)

III.
"Isn't there anyone special you'd like to bring home for Christmas, dear?" Mum asked. Her knitting needles clicked back and forth rapidly, and Percy wished she'd look at them instead of at his face, if only so that he could roll his eyes.

"I keep telling you, Mother. I haven't got any time to date. My work is much more important." He stood up and straightened his shirt. "Now if you'll just -- "

"Sit down, Percy," she said, and he did. He never could help obeying his mother. "It was only a question. If you should meet someone, I hope to meet her. Or him, as the case may be."

His face flushed and his jaw opened and shut. "Mother, really, I -- "

She glanced up at him, and really, why couldn't she just keep her eyes on her knitting instead of scrutinizing him while he sat here in shock?

"Percy, really. There's no need to be upset. I'm your mother. It wouldn't change anything, you know."

Percy found himself quite without words, which was probably for the better since his mother didn't seem inclined to let him finish sentences tonight.

"I only thought since you mentioned that Oliver fellow so much, you might be an item," she continued implacably.

"He's a friend, Mother. Nothing more, I assure you. Now if you'll excuse me, I really must be going."

He rinsed out his tea cup and collected his coat from the hanger by the door, trying not to notice how sad his mother looked. Really, he wasn't the special one around here. She had the twins at home still, and Ginny, and Harry Potter would be here for the holidays. There was no need for him to spend much time at home.

(The truth was, he'd tried to date. A disaster with a pink haired Auror had kept him off the market for months, but mostly, his romantic life was unremarkable. He'd owl back and forth with a witch from Magical Law Enforcement or the Bureau of Weather Control. She would be attractive, he would be polite, and at first it would seem they had a lot in common. But two or three dates later, he would stop bothering to answer her owls, and he would never be able to tell her what had gone wrong. He would say, over and over again "the spark just wasn't there," or "my work really has to come first right now." If he'd rather spend time with his mates instead, who could blame him? Oliver was a good friend, maybe even a best friend. Percy wasn't quite sure why a star Quidditch player wanted his friendship, but he wasn't about to turn it down. Bill and Charlie and Fred and George all had mates, and no one thought they were queer. Why should he be any different?)

IV.
The war started, not that Percy realized it. He was too busy getting promoted.

"I thought you would be proud," he said to his his father.

"I am, Percy. I am. Fudge certainly couldn't have made you his assistant if you weren't qualified." Dad shook his head. "But these are strange times, Percy. I think you should consider whether the Minister has an ulterior motive."

"What? Like spying on you?"

"Percy, listen, I know you think I haven't been very successful. It's all right with me, really. But your mother and I are fighting an important battle, and we are important to it. We are a threat."

"And you would risk everything you ever worked for on the word of a deranged old man and an attention-seeking fourteen-year-old?"

"Don't talk about Albus Dumbledore like that, or Harry." Dad's jaw clenched. How novel to see him angry, and for the son who wasn't even his. But of course he would stick up for Harry, rearrange his whole life for Harry. If Harry said You-Know-Who was back, and Percy happened to disagree, then Percy was a fool. The proudest achievement of Percy's career wouldn't have even happened if Harry Potter had necessitated spying on the Weasley family. But then, Harry had always fit in here better than Percy, hadn't he?

"I don't know why I'm surprised," Percy said. He set down his tea cup with a decisive clink. "You needn't worry about spying. I don't imagine I'll be around here much."

He did not look at his father as he shrugged on his coat and stepped out the door.

"Send me an owl when you come to your senses."

His father would, he was sure of it. He had that much faith in his family at least.

(If the Minister asked from time to time how his father was getting on, Percy thought nothing of it. The Minister was a considerate man, after all.

When finally he told the truth -- that he'd broken with his family -- the Minister laid a hand on his shoulder and said, "You've made a difficult decision, young man, but it is the right one." But the Minister paid him much less attention than he had before.

He buried himself in his work anyway and rarely saw his friends. Oliver was the only one whose absence left a hole.)

V.
You-Know-Who was real, and Oliver didn't let him vanish into a pile of books and parchment. Percy wasn't sure which was more surprising, but the first made him burn with shame and the second made his face flush and his heart race and his mouth go dry. It wasn't difficult to decide which one to think about.

They met every Friday in Percy's little flat. Oliver always looked dusty and disheveled from practice; Percy looked cool and sophisticated -- he hoped -- and he tried not to give away that he'd spent an hour in front of the bathroom mirror, trying to decide whether to undo two or three buttons. He always had a bottle of something on the kitchen table, and he always remembered to hide all the articles he read about beer and fire whiskey and mead so that he could choose the right thing even though he wasn't really a drinking man.

And somehow, with Oliver, Percy always did the right thing because Oliver kept coming back, and he never said to lighten up or to talk more about sport or be someone he was not. He just talked, and Oliver listened. It was a beautiful bloody miracle.

"Tell me a story," Oliver said. "I'm tired of thinking about Quidditich."

"All right." Percy chose the first one that came to mind. "When Ron was about four, Fred and George tried to get him to make an unbreakable vow. They'd done all the research, read Dad's old spell books, everything. They really are quite brilliant, you know." Percy leaned forward in his chair, gesticulating a bit dangerously with his glass. It was difficult to contain his excitement though: this was the first day he'd known what it was like to be indispensable, and it had shown him who he wanted to be. "Anyway, I had no idea what an unbreakable vow was, but I was sure it was bad, so I ran up to the twins' room and found the spell books under their mattress, and then I ran to get Dad. Afterward, Mum was so grateful, she took me to the village for an ice cream, even though I think it cost the last sickle in our vault."

"Every time I ask you for a story, you tell me something about your family," Oliver said. "You must miss them horribly."

"I didn't realize." Percy looked down at his empty glass. He knew he missed them, of course, but he hadn't realized about the stories. He couldn't stand to think about that now, though, so he said the first thing that came to mind: "Did you know my mum used to think that we were an item?"

"Did you know I always wished we were?" Oliver said, and suddenly Percy could see everything. How close their knees were under the table, how wrong it felt when they went out in public and had to keep barriers between them. Mostly he saw how hopeful Oliver looked right now, and how his face was getting closer because he was leaning in to --

Percy clenched his hands under the table. It was wrong. It was inappropriate. It wasn't what men did. But Percy didn't pull away. He couldn't. He wanted this too.

(Later, Percy's head lay against Oliver's bare chest, and Oliver's hand stroked the back of his neck. Percy thought, I will never move, not ever. Oliver said, "Why on earth did we wait so long?"

Because I didn't know.

Because I didn't know you could love a man if you didn't live up to the stereotypes.

Because I didn't know professional athletes could be interested in me.

Because I couldn't admit my mother knew something about me before I did.

Because I thought I would have to change my whole life if I loved a man.


"Because I was stupid," Percy said, and he heard Oliver smile in the dark.)

VI.
"Tell me everything," his mother said. The last of Fred's fireworks were twinkling in the sky, and the Burrow was quiet now that the funeral and the reception were done. Both their eyes were red rimmed; neither one of them had lived up to the promise to celebrate Fred's life rather than mourn his death.

"I missed you," he said. His voice cracked, but he forgot to be embarrassed. He was fumbling for the words to tell her about Oliver when the kitchen door swung open and his brothers poured inside.

Bill clapped him on the shoulder. "It's good to have you back."

Ron nodded, and then George, who had been swaying dangerously, threw up on the floor. The moment was gone, but somehow Percy didn't mind the way he would have before. Charlie shepherded their mother somewhere else and Bill cleaned up the mess and he and Ron helped wrestle George up to his bed.

"I'm sorry. For everything, I mean," he said to Ron when George was snoring and neither of them seemed able to leave the room.

"We all make mistakes," Ron said gruffly, and Percy wondered if it was something he'd done during the war. He wanted to ask -- he realized suddenly that Ron was a man now, a person he barely knew -- but he had no right to such a personal question, so instead he went down to the kitchen.

"Mum's asleep," Bill said. He was bent over the sink, washing up the dishes, and Percy couldn't see his face.

"I've been so wrong," he said. The words were hardly enough, and he searched for something better, something to convey how miserably sorry he was that he'd walked away from his family because he wanted to be right.

Bill shook his head. "Life's too short to be angry."

Charlie, who was sitting at the table with a glass of fire whiskey, nodded and poured him a shot. And just like that, he was one of them again.

("I couldn't tell them," he said to Oliver. "I just couldn't." He didn't want to be different from his brothers again, not yet.

Oliver's face was strained, but he squeezed Percy's hand. "It's okay. Take your time."

He could feel in the pit of his stomach that it wasn't okay.)


VII.
The wedding invitations were red and gold. Oliver Wood and guest and Percy Weasley and guest.

"Well." Oliver's mouth was a thin, flat line. "Shall I just get a guest of my own then? Or not come at all?"

Percy could felt his ears go red, and he hated it. How unfair that his own body would make him look ridiculous every time he was angry.

"Don't be stupid, Oliver. Of course you should come. Harry and Ginny want you there. You gave Harry his start in Quidditch."

"Come as what? Your friend?" Oliver's face was red now too, and his eyes were shining. "We're not friends, Percy. We are so, so much more. If you're ashamed of that..." His voice trailed off suddenly, and he pressed a hand against his eyes. "Please don't make me finish that sentence. I'm afraid of where it leads."

"But we are friends," Percy said. "Underneath everything else, we're friends, and I want you at my sister's wedding." They had had this conversation before. He couldn't tell his family now; Ginny had only just started speaking to him again, and it wouldn't be right of him to steal attention away from her wedding. He couldn't risk it.

"You're a coward, Percy. That's what you are."

"All right," Percy said. "But I'm a coward who needs you." He reached a hand toward Oliver, but Oliver didn't take it.

"I'm going for a walk," he said.

(They didn't talk for a long time after that.)

VIII.
Oliver came to the wedding. He sat in the back, far away from Percy, and shook Harry's hand stiffly. He didn't look like he was having a good time, but he didn't look like he was having a bad time either. Percy would know; he spent a lot of time watching.

At the reception, Percy drank with Bill and told a joke to Charlie, who laughed even though it wasn't funny. He danced with his mother and held Hermione's purse and made sure the punchbowl was full and the waiters had enough canapés. It was beautiful and perfect and everything Ginny wanted, except Fred was not here.

Did you just make a joke, Perce? The harder he fought, the more he remembered his brother's face.

George was quiet. The tent was loud but it felt quiet because Fred wasn't here. Fred would never laugh or make a joke or smile; he would not see Ginny dancing in too-tall high heels or Fleur large with a child or --

Something strange was stuck in his throat. He walked to the back of the tent and held out a hand to Oliver.

"Would you like to dance?"

(Afterward, Charlie looked appreciatively at Oliver, who was standing beside the punchbowl, slapped Percy on the back and said, "I'd go gay for him too."

George said, "Life is short. Make yourself happy."

Ron said, "Do you get free tickets to the games?"

Hermione glared and said, "Please excuse Ron. He's not very good at feelings. Or words, really. We're both so very happy for you."

Bill said, "Do you love him?" and Percy couldn't stop smiling when he said yes.

Mum wouldn't look him in the eye.)

IX.
"Why are we here?" Percy asked Oliver. The Burrow loomed ahead of them, looking warm and homey as ever. "You said we were going on a picnic."

"And we are. As soon as you talk to your mum." Oliver walked briskly toward the doorstep, leaving no choice but for Percy to follow in spite of his growing indignation.

"I told you, I haven't got anything to say to her. She wouldn't even look at me after the wedding."

Oliver spun on his heel and turned to face Percy so quickly that they almost collided. "As it so happens, I heard you the first three hundred seventy-two times you said that. As it also happens, I love you and I'm not watching you make the same mistake twice." He covered the remaining distance to the front door in two quick strides and pounded on the knocker. "Work it out," he said, and disapparated.

His mother opened the door before Percy had a chance to think what to say, or better yet, disapparate.

"Percy," she said. She smiled when she saw him, but then her face went stony. "What brings you here?"

Percy shrugged his shoulders.

"Nothing really. A cup of tea," he said, and she stepped aside to let him in.

Her gaze was dangerous, and Percy avoided it as best he could. He'd seen this look many times before, and he knew the words that followed it: I believe you owe your mother an apology. Everyone in the family knew that look, though Percy had rarely needed to apologize when he was younger; he had always been the good son, even the very best son. Now he fidgeted under her gaze, trying to ignore the guilt that was creeping up inside him, even though he had no idea what he was guilty of.

His mother handed him a steaming mug emblazoned with a capital P.

"All right. A cup of tea and what else?"

She looked at him expectantly, and Percy swallowed, certain that he was about to say the wrong thing.

"I -- I don't know. The wedding. I came to talk about the wedding." He took a drink of tea to buy himself a moment to think, and it scalded his tongue. Suddenly he was angry. "I wanted to know why you wouldn't even look at me after. You said you didn't care if I was with a man. I believed you."

"And you didn't tell me? All those months, you back in the family. Tell me everything I said, and you didn't think to mention that you were in love? That you were in a relationship? Can you even imagine how foolish I felt, all those people telling me how wonderful you looked together, and I had no idea what they were talking about." She sat down heavily in one of the kitchen chairs, her energy expended. Without looking at him, she rubbed a hand over her face. "Either we're in your life or you're not, Percy. I won't settle for halfway."

"So you were -- are -- hurt?" Percy asked, understanding slowly dawning.

"Yes, Percy, I am hurt."

"You're very good at making my name sound like you idiot," he said, smiling weakly. His mother laughed, and he slumped a bit in his chair, feeling relieved. He would apologize. It would be finished.

But his mother wasn't done.

"I am hurt, Percy, but I am also angry. I forgave you for everything, without question, in Fred's name. I deserved better than your silence."

"I was afraid," Percy said quietly.

"And what on earth have I done to make you think I didn't love you unconditionally?"

"Not you. Them." Percy stared into his tea cu and willed the right words to come. He hated talking about his feelings; all his precision and order vanished, and at least half of what he felt turned out to be stupid. "Bill and Charlie and the others. I was always so different from them, and then I wasn't. I didn't want to give up being one of them."

His mother came around the table and stood over him, hands on her hips.

"Listen to me, Percy Weasley. You will always be one of us. Even when you're an idiot, you're one of us. Promise me you won't forget that again."

(He did forget, dozens of times. Maybe even hundreds. They always forgave him.)
Oh! Oh, I loved this! Oh, Percy - Percy who doesn't understand he can't be too different to be loved. Oh. I love the gestalt Weasley characterisation. I love this.
This was absolutely lovely. (: You did a great job and it felt very true to character!
Thank you! This was my first time writing Percy, so I'm really happy you thought I did him justice!
This is a lovely story; it made me cry for Percy and Oliver and all of them, and it feels very real.
Oh, I loved Percy's uncertainly throughout this. Your painting of the situations that at last made him choose to take a stand at the wedding was great. And I'm so glad Wood made him reconcile with his mum!
Thank you! I'm so glad you liked the scene where they danced - I was really worried about it, and I really wanted it to make sense. And yes, I'm glad Oliver made Percy talk to his mother again too. Percy really needs someone to tell him when he's full of shit :)
Here on a rec from iulia_linea
...but no one had ever said you could be gay. No one ever said people did that, and Percy wasn't looking for more ways not to fit in.

Such an amazing characterization of Percy. Really genuine and relatable.
What a great fic! I really felt for Percy, desperate to do the right thing and getting it wrong, desperate to fit in and yet shutting himself out. A lovely ending too. Excellent!
I like the hints at Percy's jealousy of Harry - I've always thought it would be very natural for him to feel like that, when Harry slots so easily into the family in which Percy has always been an oddball.

I love him hoping that he looks cool and sophisticated. :)

"Listen to me, Percy Weasley. You will always be one of us. Even when you're an idiot, you're one of us. Promise me you won't forget that again."

Such a perfect way to end!
Thank you so much! I had never written Percy before, so it means a lot that so many parts of the story worked for you :)
Oh, this was absolutely gorgeous. So, so well done, so believable and so emotionally charged. The glimpses at the other family members were beautifully executed. I, too, am happy I linked here from a rec...
Ahhh, I loved this! You capture Percy just perfectly, just fantastically -- I can see his justification for making the decisions he does, how he stays stalwartly oblivious of how he and Oliver continue being friends until suddenly he's not, and the wonderful familial tensions and issues that work out so much better than Percy could have thought they would. Marvelous work!
Thank you so much, for the comment and for selecting me as an Editor's Pick at the Quibbler. That's never happened to me before!
This is lovely! All the reactions are perfect, from Oliver taking the plunge to Ron being insensitive and lastly his mum. Great story :-)
You nailed Percy right on the head. This is so him, and everyone else too. I love how you portrayed his relationship with Oliver. Well done.
Thank you so much! This is my first time writing Percy, so it means a lot that you think I got him right!
I'm so glad that I got pointed over here by accioslash. I have such a weakness for Percy!
I do too! All his hang-ups and misguided convictions make him an oddly appealing character. I'm glad you enjoyed the story!