Title: 2005 Gift for Brigidmn
Fandom: Harry Potter, set during Book 6
Disclaimer: These characters and their world are not mine. I've no rights and no money.
Summary: Oliver and Percy are stuck in a train station on Christmas Eve... but they're also stuck with each other.
Notes: Written as a gift fic for Brigidmn during the 2005 holiday season.
2005 Gift for Brigidmn
Oliver Wood looked down at his sneakers as he paced back and forth again, surprised he hadn't worn a path in the concrete beneath his feet. He checked his watch again and groaned. Then he found a blank spot of brick wall and leaned back against it, dropping his pack at his feet. This was not how he wanted to celebrate Christmas Eve.
"Attention passengers. Crews are working overtime to clear the rails, but in the meantime we cannot allow any trains to depart from King's Cross station. Please stop asking. We will make an announcement as soon as the situation has changed. We are very sorry for the inconvenience but we cannot control the weather. "
Oliver threw his hands up in defeat, then slid down the wall to sit on the floor. He crossed his arms over his knees and rested his chin on them. At this rate, he'd be lucky to get out of the train station by New Year's, let alone Christmas. Not that he blamed the officials, of course. The snow storm had come out of nowhere and it was just his luck to get caught in it.
His only consolation, though it wasn't a particularly good one, was that he wasn't the only one stuck there. Last time he'd checked the departure board at least four trains had been delayed and another eight had been definitely postponed until the morning. Oliver's was one of the four the officials kept saying would move out tonight, still, but it was going on two hours now and Oliver was getting restless.
He'd been through the options in his head loads of times. The Knight Bus would be out of the question since it wasn't exactly safe these days. There had been reports in The Daily Profit about Death Eaters attacking whole busloads. And since the bus didn't have a set schedule, there was no way to monitor it or notify Aurors to come to the rescue. After the last attack, it took officials two days to find it; by then it had been too late for the passengers. With the storm, flying was out of the question altogether, whether by plane or by broomstick. And it was far too far a distance to apparate safely. No, Oliver seemed to have no choice but sit and wait, hoping that the tracks would be snow-free sooner rather than later. He was starting to get sick of being patient, though.
"You don't understand. I'm a very important official in the ministry. I've got to get home!"
Oliver's ears perked up at the sound of the argument. He smirked and shook his head. Hadn't this guy heard the announcement? Didn't this guy care that everyone else was just as stuck as him? Did the guy actually think complaining would get the trains moving faster?
"Isn't there anything that can be done?" The man sounded desperate. He also sounded... familiar, somehow. Then again, after being stuck with the same people for a few hours, he was starting to recognize voices.
"Look, Sir, we really are doing the best we can. There's nothing you can do right now but take it easy and wait along with everyone else, unless you've got some magical solution."
Oliver's eyes went wide. He lifted his head and looked about. He saw the official's uniform amidst the crowd of people first, but then his gaze fell on the man talking to him. Formal muggle clothing, a patched suitcase, a wand-sized bulge in one pocket, glasses, and fiery red hair. Oliver's stomach fluttered and then sank.
Percy Weasley. It was Percy Weasley. Shite.
The official was holding his hands up, trying to motion to Percy to be calm. "Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to be patient."
"Patient?" Percy exclaimed. "It's Christmas Eve! I want to get home!"
Oliver sighed. He was going to have to do something to rescue this poor train station official. He stood up, grabbed his bag, and headed over.
"Sir, we realize this is a terrible situation. But we're counting on everyone to make the best of it. Our many shopping and eating establishments have remained open to cater to our patrons. Perhaps you would enjoy having a drink--"
"He doesn't drink," Oliver interrupted. Ignoring Percy's stare, Oliver turned to the official. "I'll handle him. Sorry to bother. We know you're doing your best."
The official slipped away quickly. And Oliver was left standing there beside Percy. He took a deep breath and turned. "Hi Perce."
"What do you think you're doing?" Percy snapped. "I was talking with the guy--"
"You were giving him a hard time. And you were practically yelling. I could hear you from all the way over there." Oliver gestured to the far side of the main station concourse. It was a bit of an exaggeration but Percy didn't need to know that.
Despite still holding onto the handle of his suitcase, Percy stood with his arms akimbo. "Well I was angry and..." He paused, looking at Oliver. "You heard me? I mean, you knew it was me and you still came over?"
Oliver sighed, not knowing what to say. He should have just stayed out of it. This was not who he wanted to talk to right now. This was not a discussion he wanted to be having right now. It wasn't a discussion he ever wanted to have. After their breakup, Oliver had sent Hermes back without an answer to every letter Percy had sent him. And, after a while, Percy had stopped sending letters altogether.
Oliver did not have a chance to reply immediately, as Percy suddenly turned away. He pulled out a handkerchief and cupped it cautiously over the whole lower half of his face. "huhhh-huhhh-CHISHH!" He snapped forward, then rubbed at his nose through the handkerchief before wiping it dry and tucking the cloth back into his pocket. "Excuse me," he mumbled.
"I see you still get those colds around the winter holidays," Oliver said, trying not to sound sympathetic. He'd noticed Percy hadn't looked altogether well.
"And I see you still butt in and make comments about things that are none of your business." They stared at each other, the confusion and annoyance of the moment mixing with memories of the last time they'd seen each other and the reason they'd broken up. But then Percy rubbed at his nose and softened a little. "You might have blessed me, you know. Sniff! Sniff! For sneezing, I mean."
Strangely, Oliver felt the urge to soften a little, too. But perhaps it was just his exhaustion and the fact that it was clearly Christmas. "Guess I'll just have to wait until the next time you sneeze," he said.
"So you're sticking around for a little while, then? I mean..."
Oliver nodded. "Yeah. Let's get a bite and talk. Nothing else to do while we wait, is there?" He rubbed the back of his neck hesitantly. "That is, if you're game."
"I am!" said Percy quickly.
They selected one of the eateries at random and were seated against a wall at a booth. As soon as the waitress came with their menus and left with their drink order, Percy pulled out his handkerchief again and blew his nose. "Sorry," he said just as softly as before. "My nose has been bothering me all day. I'd hoped to be on the train by now napping and sleeping off the rest of this cold, instead of here still." He cleared his throat. "How about you?"
"Oh, I was supposed to catch a train heading up north to
two hours ago. I was actually on the train in fact, but it just sat for twenty minutes and then we were all told to get off as it wasn't going anywhere." He sighed. "After two weeks on the road with the team, I was heading up to see my family for Christmas." Oliver noticed how Percy's face had twitched at the mention of the word family. And, though he knew he really shouldn't, he pressed the issue. "Where were you off to? Isn't your family here in Scotland ?" London
Percy nodded and cleared his throat. "Yes..." He cleared his throat and tried again. "Yes, they are. But they won't have anything to do with me any more. Not after..."
"Not after you started acting like an arsehole?" Oliver supplied helpfully.
There was a time when Percy would have gone crazy at that, but now he simply nodded. "The Ministry needed someone to head to
for the holidays in an urgent matter and I volunteered. I won't be missed around here since I haven't seen my family since..." Edinburgh
"Since you started acting like a right bastard?" suggeded Oliver.
Percy nodded at this, too. "All right," he said with a sigh. "Sounds like you want to have a go at me. And I deserve it. hehh... Just... hehhh-CHIHHH!" He sneezed into his handkerchief. "Just get it all off your chest once and for all. It'll be my present to you. Ehhh-HIHChhhh! Go on, Olly. Get angry. Let me have it. Hahhh-hahhhCshhhh!"
With much sympathy, Oliver watched Percy sneezing. He could understand why Percy didn't want to be near home for the holidays. He could understand why Percy didn't want to be sick and stuck in a train station. And he could understand why Percy thought Oliver would yell at him about everything that had happened. But when Percy was finished sneezing, all Oliver gave was a soft. "Bless ye."
Percy sniffed and failed to hide his surprise at not being yelled at. "Um, thank you."
Drinks came at that moment, and they placed two orders for fish and chips. Then they sipped their drinks in silence for a while, apart from Percy's occasional sniffles. Oliver had ordered a beer and an ice water. Percy, on the other hand, got tea and spent the first minute or two with it adding artificial sweetener packets and squirts of lemon, stirring anticlockwise, and blowing on spoonfuls until it was cool enough to drink from. Oliver pretended not to be surprised about the fact that Percy was familiar with sugar packets, but assumed it wasn't that Percy had learned of them through Mr. Weasley's love for all things muggle. Oliver's beer hit the spot. It was warm and relaxing and, for a moment, he forgot about the fact that he was stranded in a train station away from his family on Christmas Eve but with an ex-boyfriend.
Finally, Oliver spoke again. "So I assume it's busy at work nowadays?"
"Oh yes," said Percy at once. "Everyone at the Ministry is working overtime now. We have to, you know." Well versed in the ways of Percy Weasley, and trained and noticing the slightest signs to anticipate moves during a Quidditch game, Oliver was not fooled by Percy's light tone of voice. He saw the man squeeze the handle of his mug so tightly his knuckles went white.
Percy broke his hold seconds later, however, as he retrieved his handkerchief. "huh-Scuse..." He looked horrified at having to sneeze while at the table with Oliver, and he glanced around for a men's washroom he might flee to. But there wasn't one in view and the sneezes came too fast. "huhhh-EH-Chihhhh! hehhChuhhhh! Sniff! huhh-Chuhhh!" He snuffled into the handkerchief for a moment to clear his nose, then lifted his head with a pained expression on his face. "I had to do it, Olly," he said, his tone now desperate and pleading. "We were all so scared, and Fudge kept saying exactly what we wanted to hear. No one wanted to believe You-Know-Who was really back. And I had to be loyal to my superiors at work. Had to be. It wasn't just lip service, I really wanted to believe everything was okay. And then it wasn't and..." He sat with his head in his hands.
Oliver leaned closer. "How long have you been beating yourself up about this, Perce? How often do you think about it with regret?" Oliver asked. Percy suddenly choked and gave a cough. "Percy... how often do you not think about it?"
Percy looked up, his eyes wide. "I can't stop thinking about it," he whispered. He covered his face again. "I was such an arse to everyone I loved. My family... you... it's all my fault and I'm sorry and I was wrong about everything!"
Oliver's voice was calm and slightly sympathetic, "Perce... Perce..." Percy did not look up, so Oliver reached out and pulled one of his hands back, looking Percy in the eye. "You don't have to justify it to me. We all made our choices. What's done is done."
By this time, Percy's eyes had grown watery and silent tears were threatening to slide down his cheeks. "Do you really mean that?" he asked timidly. "Sniff! Sniff! About everything?"
Oliver hesitated. They'd said some terrible things to each other during the breakup and at times before it as well. Things they could never take back. But those things were in the past. And if he'd felt differently Oliver probably would have ducked into the loo, himself, instead of making his presence in the station known to Percy. "Aye, I do."
Percy looked down, and Oliver's eyes followed. He was startled to realize he was still holding onto Percy's wrist. He pulled his hand back at once and curled it around his half-empty mug of beer. Oliver started coughing a few seconds later, and Oliver slid his water across the table. Percy drank to quiet the coughs then gave him a grateful smile Oliver pretended not to have seen.
It was lucky for both of them that their food arrived just then. They ate voraciously, trying to look hungry so they wouldn't have to talk. There were a few comments of "pass the vinegar" or "not bad for a restaurant in a train station" and there was some sneezing from Percy and quick blessings from Oliver. But, otherwise, they ate in silence and without any further emotional declarations of any kind.
Professional Quidditch players made more than enough money to live comfortably and though Percy only worked in the Ministry of Magic, he made enough to enjoy spending money in a way he had never been able to growing up. So when they'd been dating, Percy and Oliver's favorite part of eating out had been arguing about who got to pick up the check at the end of the meal. They would offer up the most elaborate promises in order to be the one to treat the other. In the end they probably came out even financially, but the promises had delightfully escalated from dishwashing chores for a week to quite a few of the kinker forms of sexual gratification.
As such, Oliver was thinking about the last time they'd made love when he paid his half of this meal's bill. And, judging by Percy's expression, Percy was thinking about the same thing when he forked over his own portion of the check. So it was even more awkward than ever when the meal was finished and they were forced to either converse again or sit and stare at each other and be prisoners of their memories.
"Would you like to find somewhere else to sit down?" Percy asked, picking up on the threatening glanced their waitress had been giving them now that they had finished and paid up. "Or... I mean, if you..."
"If I had somewhere else to be? Or if I had other plans?" Oliver said with a laugh. "Right." He gestured to the station. "We're still rather stuck here."
"huhh... huhh-Shihhh! hehhChihhh! Sniff!"
"Bless you, bless you. And you look like you're going to topple over if you're on your feet much longer. We'd better go sit down." Percy smiled sheepishly but looked glad that Oliver hadn't taken the opportunity to ditch him. Oliver wasn't sure exactly why he hadn't... except that maybe he still cared for Percy a little and didn't want to see the man passing out in public or anything.
After walking around the station for a good fifteen minutes, they finally spotted a trio leaving a bench. Oliver and Percy dashed over and claimed it before anyone else could. Percy sat down and placed his suitcase on the ground in front of him. Oliver put his pack on the bench beside him, between Percy and himself as a buffer. He didn't know if he needed one, but the move had been more instinctual than thought-out and Percy didn't say anything about it.
"So when do you think they'll have the trains running again?" Percy asked, glancing at his watch.
Oliver shrugged. "Soon, I hope. I don't want to be spending Christmas in a train station."
"Wish they'd just fix it already or tell us to give up hope. I just keep thinking that I could be back in bed right now. Sniff! If I didn't have to do my job, that is."
Percy had a flat in town. Oliver had nearly forgotten that fact. He wondered if it looked the same as it had when they'd been dating. Percy always kept things so neat and tidy. A place for everything and everything in its place. And once upon a time, there had been a place for Oliver in it.
Oliver nodded. "You do look tired."
"I feel exhausted," Percy said quickly and a little more honestly than he'd wanted to get. His cheeks flushed slightly. Then he coughed and he unfolded his handkerchief once more. "huhhh-CHIHH! hehhhShuhhh! KShhuhhh!" He kept his eyes closed afterwards and sighed heavily.
Oliver had a feeling he would regret the offer, but it had escaped him before he could stop himself. "Why don't you have a bit of a lie down then while we wait?"
Percy looked a bit taken aback by the suggestion. He coughed and fumbled with his handkerchief to make himself look busy while he weighed his response. Finally, "You'll look after my suitcase and make sure I don't miss my train?"
Something inside Oliver was shouting at him not to keep speaking, but Oliver boldly ignored it by moving his pack to the ground and giving the answer, "Of course. I'll look after you." So Percy gave him another grateful smile and moved in order to lie down on the bench.
The bench, they found out, was considerably shorter than it seemed. Even half-curled on his side in the fetal position Percy could not lie down on the bench without some part of himself falling over the side. Oliver scooted all the way over to one side to the point where only one leg was really even touching the bench, but it was no use. Oliver finally sighed, scooted back on, and patted his thigh. "Go on. We might as well be comfortable at least if we're waiting."
Percy hesitated, looking down at Oliver's lap. "You would... be comfortable with that? Hehh-hehChihhh! With me? Ehhh-Shihhh!"
Oliver sighed again, not quite sure why he felt frustrated. "Just lie down, Perce."
Percy did. He closed his eyes the moment his head was on Oliver's leg, using it as a pillow. His whole body relaxed as it never did in public. Oliver recognized it immediately even though he'd known Percy for nine-and-a-half years and the only time he'd seen it was when they were dating. Wanting Percy to continue to feel relaxed and safe, not having to worry about himself or how he looked, Oliver's hand found its way to Percy's shoulder and gave it a pat.
Percy smiled weakly. Oliver knew he liked the touch, and probably missed the touch. To tell the truth, Oliver sort of missed it as well.
"huhh..." Percy's happy, relaxed demeanor changed at once. He tensed up and grabbed for his handkerchief, accidentally dropping it onto the floor. "Shite! Sniff! Sniff!" He cupped one hand to his face and tried to bend and stretch the other in order to reach the hanky but it was too far away. "hehhh... Olly?"
"Aye, I've got one in my pocket, I think," He reached into the pocket of his corduroys and fished around, but didn't find it. "Shite! Perce, sit up. It's in my other pocket."
Percy sat up but kept his hand over his face. "hihh... hih-hehhhhh..."
Oliver felt around, rolling his eyes. Pockets in wizarding robes weren't this deep. Where was that handkerchief?
Oliver's hand closed on the handkerchief and he pulled it out.
"hihhShihhh! Sniff! Sniff! hehhh-HIHSHHHH!" Percy was practically bent over now. He had both hands cupped over his nose and mouth and his eyes were closed. "huhhhKSchhhh!" His whole body shook and his chest bumped his knees.
"Merlin, Perce. What a cold. Here." Oliver held the handkerchief up against Percy's hands and when the man didn't take it, he stuffed it in-between hands and face.
Percy coughed and blew his nose several times. Then he sat up and sighed, rubbing the handkerchief at his nose. "S'beed a while sidce I took a botiod for it. Looks like it's wearig off. Sorry. Disgustig." He winced slightly as he leaned back against the wall.
"Not disgusting," Oliver said. "It's just sneezing. Not like I've never seen you like this before. Worse a couple of times if I recall." Percy sniffled, still looking apologetic and miserable. "You're not that bad this time. You're still--" He caught himself before he said it but couldn't find a way to end the sentence.
It hung out there between them. Percy stared at Oliver, and Oliver couldn't look away. Cheeks were flushed red. Mouths hung open. Eyes locked unblinkingly.
Then, suddenly, Oliver's head began to tilt and Percy's eyes began to close. Oliver hesitated a moment, making sure Percy wasn't just about to sneeze. Then he darted forward and pressed his lips to Percy's. Percy kissed back. Of course he kissed back. He kissed back eagerly, hungry for what he'd missed, and Oliver gave himself up and threw himself into it.
When they pulled away, the sound of booing and groaning filled their ears. It was so loud Oliver couldn't understand how he'd missed it. He must have had his mind on something else. They both looked uneasy, clearly thinking they'd been spotted snogging. Muggles weren't quite as open-minded as the wizarding community was when it came to homosexuality.
But then Oliver noticed people collecting their belongings and heading grudgingly towards the exits. He stood and flagged down one of the passersby. "What's going on?" he asked.
The man looked confused. "Didn't you hear the announcement? They're closing up. The storm's getting worse. No one's going anywhere tonight by train."
"Thanks," Oliver said, letting him go on his way and returning to Percy, who had been blowing his nose.
"They're closing the station?" he asked.
"So... you're stuck in
for the holidays without any place to go?" London
"And I have a good excuse not to do my work?"
"So, conceivably, we could go back to my flat and get some sleep and celebrate Christmas in the morning?"
Oliver nodded and smiled. "Do we have something to celebrate, Perce?"
Percy shrugged, playing innocent. "You're talking to me again. That's a good start."
Oliver nodded. And grinned. "Did a bit more than talking just then."
"Want to do more? huhhhh... huhShihhh!" He quickly turned to the side and sneezed into Oliver's handkerchief.
"Not until you get some rest." Oliver said, caressing Percy's cheek with much less hesitation than he would have imagined a few minutes ago, let alone a few hours ago. "Can I take you home, Percy Weasley?" Oliver slid his arm around Percy as the man nodded, smiled, and leaned into him. "You all right?" Oliver asked worriedly as Oliver supported his weight. "Feeling weak? Cold?"
"M'okay," Percy said sheepishly. "I just... wanted to feel you again." He snuggled into Oliver's side. "I was really dreading Christmas but now... maybe... I mean, you don't have to be stuck with me any more, but you wanted to come with. So just maybe..."
Oliver hugged him closer. "Maybe," he agreed. He kissed the top of Percy's head and sighed. This Christmas was going to be different from what either had expected. But, like Percy had said, this was a start. He couldn't think of a better way to spend it than patching up things with Percy. And that was definitely something to celebrate.