Title: Promises

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Harry Potter

Time/Setting: during book 4

Rating: R

Parings: Percy Weasley/Oliver Wood

Warnings: Slash, graphic fondling-leading-to-sex, and Wood feeling nauseous (but I promise, no actual, er, that v-word) But if any of that squicks you, don't read!

Spoilers: Not really, unless you don't know what the two of them are doing during book 4 and aren't a good enough guesser to figure it out

Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns Harry Potter. I write this only in fun, mean no harm, and get no money.

Summary: There's just something terribly irresistible about a handsome, wet Quidditch player with a head cold. Percy would be inclined to agree.

Note: For more information about some of the teams, players, and moves mentioned, see 'Quidditch Through the Ages' by Kennilworthy Whisp

Feedback: I'd love some :-)

 

 

 

Promises

 

     Percy Weasley, equipped with a thick raincoat and an umbrella which magically kept the area beneath it completely dry even when winds blew rain sideways, whipped off his glasses. He hastily cleaned the lenses against the neck of his turtleneck, which was the only bit of dry clothing exposed to the elements. Then he flung them back onto his face and turned his eyes back up to the air.

 

     He had gotten out of work early thanks to turning in two reports before they were due and a cancelled meeting with an out of town businessman who hadn't wanted to travel in the rain. So he had headed out of the office at once and straight over to the Quidditch field to watch Puddlemere United tackle their last practice before going up against the Pride of Portree in a game this weekend. Oliver had been stressed all week about it, as the first string keeper had broken his collarbone in a nasty tumble last game. As collarbones were much trickier to heal than broken limbs, the player had been bumped back to reserves after missing two practices while it healed. And thus, Oliver Wood had been called up to serve as goalie for the second game of his professional career. The first had gone exceptionally well, Percy had tried to remind him as Oliver scurried nervously around the flat, reciting plays and acting out moves with his hands.

 

     One such set of moves was going on above the stands Percy was sitting in. The three chasers were shooting towards him, throwing the ball from one to the other so fast someone might have thought it was too hot to touch. They were each lined-up with one of the three goal posts, and at any moment any one of them might shoot the ball. But Oliver watched their fast approach, knowing the move, and knowing a defense. Determinedly, he took off, zooming around all three posts as quickly as possible in order to block all three at the same time. Percy remembered Oliver trying to explain the move to him days ago over a dinner Percy had cooked and Oliver had been too nervous to do more than pick at. It was called the Double Eight Loop because the keeper flew in two figure-eights around the goals posts.

 

     Nervously, Percy watched the blur of navy blue that was Oliver and the three approaching navy blue blurs. Percy bit his lip and clenched his hands. "Come on Olly!" he whispered harshly, his voice dampened by the rain so that even he could not hear his own words. "You can do it!"

 

     But Oliver couldn't. Though he was flying fast, it wasn't fast enough. He took a spin around the far left post, coming around too shallow, and bumped his shoulder against the hoop. The bump threw him off course, broke his rhythm, and caused him to be half a meter short of stopping the quaffle from entering the middle hoop. The chasers cheered as one zoomed down to recover the fallen quaffle. Oliver, on the other hand, clung to his broom as he slowed, head bowed in disappointment. He was mouthing something, but whether it was a compliment to his chasers or an apology to his coaches or simply some vulgar swearing to himself, Percy could not make it out.

 

     A sudden gust of wind from the west caught Percy's attention, and he turned his head away from the gust just in time to see the sky in the east illuminated with a giant fork of lightning. The thunder clap roared not two seconds later. That was enough to motivate Percy to leave the metal bleachers and stand at the top of the field. He worried about Oliver, up in the air beside the tall posts and thought to go over to say something about safety regulations when the head coach blew his whistle and all the players splashed down onto the muddy ground and huddled around him. After less than a minute, in which Percy cleaned his glasses off again, the huddle disbanded and players headed for the locker rooms. Thankful it was over, Percy headed in that direction as well, not able to catch up with Oliver on the way in.

 

     There were two separate buildings, one for visitors and one for the home team, which they would be at their next game. And from one look at the locker room, it was clear that being the home team held other advantages than having a loyal crowd. The inside of the Puddlemere United locker room was filled with couches and entertainment areas, from a ping-pong table to puzzles that kept putting themselves together and taking themselves apart again. There was a drink and snack hutch in one corner, and a large white board on one wall around a set of couches where the team discussed and mapped out strategies. It was currently filled with black-penned figures represented by X's and O's, arrows twisting this way and that, and the three balls easily distinguished by color and presence or lack of wings. Percy closed his umbrella, stripped off his raincoat, and sat down on one of the couches to wait for Oliver. He tried to make out the plays on the board, but none of it made much sense to him, and certainly nothing resembled the Double Eight Loop, which was one of the only plays he knew by name.

 

From this large and comfortable room, there were two open halls leading to the men's and women's changing rooms. And after a few minutes, players started emerging from each. They all knew Percy, at least by face, as Oliver took him to many of the celebrations and team activities. Nearly everyone smiled or nodded at him and those that didn't were the ones who waved or called hello to him instead. Percy returned each accordingly, though kept his eye out for Oliver.

 

     Reggie MacDonald, the team captain and their first string seeker, came out at the end of a group of men, and broke off from them to go over to Percy. "Oliver's the last one," he said in a thick Scottish accent, nodding his head in the direction of the locker room. "Ye can go in there if ye like." Percy smiled and thanked him, picking up raincoat and umbrella. "Och, and laddie?" Percy turned back to Reggie, eyebrows raised in question. "I ken he could use a friend right about now, aye?" Percy nodded, thanked him again, and headed down the hallway.

 

     While the main room smelled sweet like candy, the hallway and locker room smelled of men. Correction: smelled of wet and sweaty men. And while the smell was not the least bit pleasant, Percy did find it a bit alluring as it was the scent he associated with his and Oliver's first time. Oliver had taken him right there in the changing room after a particularly exhilarating practice. The Quidditch player had needed to relieve his excitement and a sweet and supportive Percy had been the perfect outlet, even slammed up against a wall and whimpering at the pain of first entry. But Oliver had been gentle, too, even as wound up and eager as he was. And they two had moaned so loudly that they might have been heard from across the giant pitch had everyone not scampered off to the victory party already.

 

     Oliver was in no such mood today, however. He sat on one of the benches, hunched over, head in his hands. His hair was dripping onto his shoulders, his uniform soaked through and hanging heavily on him. The sound of a very wet sniffle caught the air, making Percy freeze at the entrance to the room. He had never seen Oliver cry and was not at all sure he wanted the first time to be now. Hesitantly, he took a step backwards. But the step smacked him back against a metal locker, and Oliver looked up at the sound to see him. Oliver's face was wet, but not with tears. "Percy!" Oliver exclaimed, a bright smile breaking out on his face.

 

     "Reggie said that I could come in," Percy explained quickly, unable to measure the amount of relief he felt at seeing that Oliver was not in tears.

 

     "Course you can come in," Oliver said, his face still glowing. He stood, his robes sagging with the weight of the rain, and held a hand out to him. "As long as I get a kiss hello." Percy complied, going to and cocking his head at the perfect angle so their noses wouldn't bump. Their lips were both cold, and wet, and slipped at the gentle kiss. Oliver gave a snort of amusement and they tried again, this time with their mouths a bit open so they met in warmth. Oliver pulled back afterwards, his eyes opening and another smile spreading over his face. "That was nice." It seemed to be the motivation he needed to get undressed. It seemed to take great effort to pull the robes over his head. They were so wet that instead of navy blue, they looked black. Percy reached out to help but Oliver turned and pulled them off before he could, tossing them into the hamper along with his teammates' ones.

 

     "I came in late, but it looked like a good practice session," Percy said, trying to make casual conversation.

 

     Oliver gave a forced laugh. "It wasn't too bad." But he remained otherwise quiet.

 

     "You played well," Percy tried again, with a smile.

 

     Anger flashed in his eyes, and he shook his head. "Liar. You're only saying that because you're..." he trailed off. Would he say it? "... because you're you." No, he wouldn't. He gave a sigh. "'M gonna take a shower," he said, turning, stripping off the rest of his clothes as he headed to the showers.

 

     Percy chuckled, following the trail of clothes, picking each one up, from sweater to shorts to socks. He paused outside the shower room, listening to the patter of water on the tile floor as it echoed through the large room. With a very un-Percy-like grin, he peeked in.

 

     Oliver was under a spout, hands moving about his body, soaping himself with thick lather. The smile Percy had brought out of him was gone now, as the water fell down upon his face. He sniffled again, wetly, and Percy suddenly had the idea that he was perhaps doing it to hide tears. But the closer he looked, the less it looked like that. Still, something was wrong. Percy knew Oliver well enough to know that much. And then he saw what. Oliver turned his head down and to the side, bringing his wrist up to his nose. "heh-CHISHH! uhChishhh!" He put his face back into the spray as he sniffled.

 

     Percy rolled his eyes and headed back to the benches by the lockers. He had woken up to the sounds of Oliver sneezing and coughing in the bathroom, then had heard them again a few times over breakfast. He had warned Oliver to stay warm and dry and have some tea before he headed out to practice. But Oliver had laughed, waved a hand, and insisted that he would be fine. That it was just some morning congestion brought on by the weather change. Well, now it wasn't the morning and he was still sneezing. Percy shook his head and rung the clothes out over a sink before folding them roughly into a pile well enough to carry them home.

 

     Oliver came out of the showers finally with a white towel around his waist, which he clutched the ends of in one fist. "Thanks for getting my clothes, Perce," he said, noticing their absence on the floor. He went to his locker and began rooting through it for a clean change of clothes. He pulled out undershorts first, then a shirt, then slacks and finally a ball of socks. Before getting dressed, however, he placed a palm against the locker beside his. Hanging his head, he dissolved into heavy coughs, body shaking weakly at each. His other hand left his towel to cover his mouth, then rub his nose, causing the towel to fall to the floor. He did not bother to retrieve it.

 

     On the other hand, Percy strode over, picking it up, and wrapping it around Oliver's shoulders. He then ran his hand over Oliver's hair, combing it with his fingers to lie down upon his head. "Thanks, Perce," Oliver said with a sigh. He sniffed wetly and turned, reaching past Percy for his clothes. He dressed as Percy discarded the towel into the bin along with the uniforms.

 

     The locker room was protected by an anti-apparition spell among other things, to keep it safe from spying players. So they had to get a few feet from it to get home. They left the locker rooms hand in hand, with Percy's umbrella over their heads and Oliver's clothes tucked under Percy's arm.

 

* * *

 

     While Percy technically still lived at home with his parents, most of his possessions were at Oliver's flat, as it was where most of his free time was spent. They apparated over together, finding themselves in the living room area of the one-room apartment before the rain and cold could get to them. Oliver gave a sigh, glad to be home, while Percy headed at once for the bathroom to deposit the clothes in the hamper. "Should I send an owl to my parents then?" called Percy from the bathroom, his voice muffled behind the frosted glass-paneled door.

 

     "What's that?" Oliver asked, shaking his head to rid himself of water in his ear which must have made its way in during the game and had not yet dislodged itself.

 

     "An owl to my parents," Percy repeated, the door opened this time for clarity, though he remained inside a moment longer as he dried his hands off on the towel. "To tell them we won't be coming for dinner."

 

     Oliver narrowed his eyes and suppressed a cough. "Whyever not?" He had been greatly looking forward to a hot home-cooked meal. Percy and Oliver could both manage the basics just fine, but there was nothing as satisfying as third helpings of one of Mrs. Weasley's loaded casseroles.

 

     It was Percy's turn to look confused. "Why? Because you're sick, Olly!"

 

     "Pshaw!" Oliver said, waving a hand dismissively. "It's just a sniffle, like I said this morning. The change in the weather and all that."

 

     "What change? It's been raining for days. If anything, you're under the weather." He looked around for a pad of parchment and a quill. "I'll just write to my parents and tell them--"

 

     Oliver sniffled hard and jumped onto Percy from behind, pulling him onto the couch with him, and far away from any writing implements. He held Percy against him with one arm as he tickled with the other, targeting under his chin, his stomach, and his armpits. He chewed on an earlobe as Percy laughed and struggled, then kissed behind his ear because he knew that drove Percy mad. "We're going over to their place for dinner, aren't we?" Percy shrieked with laughter and felt himself go weak at Oliver's kisses. "And you won't tell them anything, will you?" Percy shook his head, unable to talk through the laughter. So Oliver slowed his tickles, holding him tight so he couldn't escape. "And I'm not sick, right?"

 

     Percy's eyes were filled with tears of laughter. "Well, you've got to admit, Ol... you have been snee-ah!" Olver resumed with the tickles, more than ever, and made the kisses deeper, more alluring as they traveled down to his neck and chin.

 

     "Come on, Perce, say it!" Oliver called between kisses, tickling him madly.

 

     "Okay!" Percy relented finally, and Oliver let up on him. "Everything's fine and we'll go to my parents' for dinner."

 

     Oliver grinned, looking particularly pleased with himself. "Good," he said with a chipper note in his voice. Then he quickly pulled away from Percy and cupped a hand over his nose and mouth. "uhhHitchoo! Huh-Ihtchuhhh!"

 

     Percy wiped tears out of his eyes and gave Oliver a look.

 

     "Don't give me that look!" Oliver replied, glaring back.

 

     "What look?" said Percy as innocently as possible.

 

     Oliver rubbed his nose. "That 'I'm Percy Weasley and I'm always infuriatingly right about everything' look."

 

     Percy's eyes held something much different than tears of laughter now. He had gotten this same talk before, but usually it was from his brothers, never Oliver. "When did I ever say I was right about everything?"

 

     With a cough, he straightened in his seat on the couch, separating himself from Percy. "You didn't have to say it. All you had to do was point to that Head Boy badge of yours."

 

     "I'm surprised you took your mind off the Quidditch Cup long enough to notice my presence!" Percy went to get up and storm away passively when Oliver grabbed his hand and held him back. "What? More insults? I promise you it's nothing I haven't heard a hundred times from my brothers or a hundred other people--"

 

     "No," Oliver replied softly. "I mean, I'm sorry." Percy strained to get up, but Oliver eased him back down to the couch. "I didn't mean to... I'm just feeling a little sensitive today. What with..." he waved a hand in front of his face, indicating his... congestion, "and with that practice and the rain and my nerves about the game and all..."

 

     Percy relaxed on the couch beside him, looking into Oliver's eyes, which seemed over-bright with fever. "I'm sorry, too." He reached over and kissed Oliver's cheek gently. "I promise, we'll do anything you want to do, including dinner at my parents'. I'll even help you run drills tonight if you like."

 

     Oliver looked a bit shocked. "You hate running drills." The reply was a nod and a shrug. Oliver grinned and grabbed Percy in a warm hug. "Thanks, Perce." Then his nose tickled, and he turned away again quickly. "ihhh-hetchuhhh! hektshhh! Uhhh-ihkshooo!"

 

     Percy nodded, making a mental note to bring an extra handkerchief just in case. "Now go put a sweater on, and get ready for my mother's horrible four-knut casserole."

 

     Oliver laughed as he headed over to the wardrobe where he kept his clothes. "It's the best food I've ever had so don't you dare go knocking it."

 

     "What?" Percy said, dancing lightly to the other side of the room, out of reach. "Or you'll tickle me again?"

 

     Oliver grinned mischievously. "Oh, I promise I'll do more than that." He quickly grabbed a sweater then jumped over the coffee table, scrambled over the couch, and knocked over a lamp to get to an already laughing Percy.

 

 

* * *

 

     "She's going to ask you what's wrong if you don't take thirds," Percy hissed out the side of his mouth as he leaned towards Oliver. He had meant it as a joke, but Oliver didn't so much as smile. "Are you all right?" Oliver shrugged. "Can I get you something?" he whispered concernedly. But Oliver sniffled softly into the back of his hand and shook his head. He managed to head off a bout of coughing with another few sips of water.

 

     "So, Percy tells us you've got a big game this weekend!" said Mr. Weasley, helping himself to thirds. "How's the team looking?"

 

     Percy shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Thus far they had managed Quidditch-free dinner conversation. The last thing he wanted was for Oliver to remember how nervous he had been. But Oliver handled it with one of his suave rehearsed responses. "I reckon we stand a good chance. We've never had a stronger opposing line." Mr. Weasley opened his mouth to ask more, but Percy distracted him with a clearing of the throat, and it allowed Oliver a few moments in which to rise. "Ah, may I be excused for a moment, please?"

 

     Mrs. Weasley smiled pleasantly. "Of course, dear. Bathroom is first door up the stairs on your right." He had been there often enough to know this, but the reiteration did not hurt.

 

     His head was spinning so much he feared he might not remember how to make it out of the room. Oliver set down his napkin, nodded a thank you, and headed straight to the bathroom without a look back.

 

     "So polite, that dear lad," Mrs. Weasley said, cocking her head. "I can see why you're so taken with him--"

 

     "Mother!" Percy admonished. "Not so loudly." He turned and leaned back to be sure Oliver had not overheard. "It's one thing to say it to a bloke and another for him to hear it from my mother!" But if Oliver had heard, he gave no indication, and was disappearing behind the bathroom door from the sound of it.

 

     Mr. Weasley gave a laugh, and quickly covered it with another bite of dinner and a "How was your day at the office?" to Percy.

 

     Percy grinned, glad to tell. "Well, I finished one report a few hours early, and another a whole day early. Then I was supposed to meet with Mister MacAllister about the wand width sanctions but the rain kept him off."

 

     "Oh, MacAllister!" his father exclaimed with a grin. "He's a good man, but very set in his ways." He turned to his wife with some excitement in his voice. "Do you remember the time we had him over for dinner? Why, it was just after the twins were born..."

 

     "Perce!" it was a sharp, low whisper that reached his ear, making him miss the rest of his father's words, though he had already started to phase them out. Percy slowly turned his head, just enough to catch a glimpse out of the corner of his eye of Oliver beckoning to him. There was a desperate look on his face.

 

     Percy excused himself very quickly, though he was barely noticed as his parents laughed with each other, and then he slipped around the corner to the stairs. He took one of Oliver's hands, squeezing it. "Whatever is the matter?" he asked softly so his voice would not carry past the two of them. His other hand gently stroked Oliver's chest as though to coax Oliver's answer out more quickly.

 

     "I'm sick, Perce," he mouthed, the sound barely leaving his mouth.

 

     Percy held back a smile. He guessed this wasn't the time to say 'I told you so' so he settled for, "Yes, I knew that."

 

     Oliver shook his head and ran a wrist beneath his nose. "No, I mean, I'm really sick. I need to... to lie down." He swayed a bit, but managed to cup his hand to his nose and mouth. "heh-Ihshooo! Uhhttshhhh!"

 

     Percy reached out to steady Oliver. "We can stay here for the night, in my room. My parents would understand." He had half a mind to just walk Oliver up there now and put him to bed straightaway.

 

     But Oliver had other ideas. "No, I want to go home, Perce. I need to be sick in my own bed." He leaned forward, putting his forehead against Percy's shoulder.

 

     Percy was slightly startled, but rubbed the back of the young man's head. Oliver seemed to take to the touch, almost purring with gratefulness. "All right," Percy whispered. He then rubbed Oliver's back gently. Instead of continuing to purr, Oliver whimpered, wrapping an arm around his middle and coughing into his fist. "Have you been sick to your stomach?" Percy looked a bit pale at the prospect but did not push Oliver away.

 

     Oliver shook his head. "Feeling a little nauseous, but I'll be fine. I promise. It's just the fever... and my ear..." he inserted a finger and wiggled it around. "Feeling dizzy. And a bit stuffed in the head." The complaining had an anxious tone. "Can we go now, Perce?"

 

     Percy nodded and pulled back now, kissing Oliver gently. "Directly." It was clear that Oliver would not be up to apparating at the same time as Percy, but they would need to figure something out anyway. "Can you apparate at all or are you too ill? Should we take the bus?"

 

     "Bus," Oliver said, looking weak and defeated. He quickly cupped his hand around his nose and mouth. "uhhhTchihhh! huhChishhh!" He sniffled wetly and closed his eyes.

 

     "Here," he grabbed his jacked from the coat rack which was flailing its arms madly to keep the coats it had acquired to itself. Percy thrust it into Oliver's hands. "Put the jacket on. It's wet and chilly outside. Then go out to flag down the bus. I'll make our excuses to my parents and join you right away."

     Oliver pulled out his handkerchief, still sniffling. "huh...huhhTchuhh! hihChishh! hih-Choo!" He tucked it away just as quickly and started on with the jacket for a moment before he froze, staring at it. "Wait, this is your--"

     "And I let you come in just a sweater, what was I thinking?" Percy smiled and nodded, reassuring him. "Just put it on, I'll meet you outside in a moment." Quickly, he headed back into the kitchen to the table.

 

     "Ah, there you are," called Mrs. Weasley from across the room. She held a small plate in her hand which sported a piece of pie. "Dessert for two?"

 

     Percy shook his head. "We need to leave now, I'm afraid. Something's come up." He wasn't sure but didn't think Oliver wanted his parents knowing and fussing over what was probably just a bad head cold. Percy was very familiar with his mother's ways whenever one of her children came down with something, and he did not think she would be any different towards one of her children's... close friends.

 

     "What a shame," Mr. Weasley said heading over and clapping Percy on the back. "Well, we'll do lunch tomorrow right?"

 

     "Yes, Father," Percy said with a nod.

 

     His mother pushed a small container into his hands. "Two desserts to go, then. It was wonderful seeing you both." She hugged him motheringly, with a tight squeeze before pulling back, smiling.

 

     Percy nodded and waved goodbye, but stopped in the doorway, hesitating, debating. A moment later, he turned back around. "Mother, have you got any of that herbal tea you give us when we've come down sick?"

 

     She narrowed her eyes. "Yes, I believe I do." She hurried to the cupboards and began rooting around. Sometimes the canisters and bottles liked to rearrange themselves by color or by alphabet or by type. "Are you feeling ill, Sweetie?" she asked, and before Percy could say anything, "Aha! Here it is." She turned and handed it to him. One look into his eyes and she sighed. "Ohhh... it's Oliver, isn't it? The dear! I thought he was being rather quiet! Where--" she craned her neck to see past Percy.

 

     Percy cut her off, a hand on her chest. "He's outside by now. He'll be all right, just a cold. He didn't want it to ruin your night."

 

     "Isn't that thoughtful, Molly?" Mr. Weasley said, looking sympathetic. He took hold of his wife at the shoulders to keep her from darting out to check on Oliver. "Now you tell him we hope he feels better soon. Make sure he rests well enough."

 

     Percy nodded. He didn't need to be told how to take care of his... partner. But his mother seemed not to know this. "Here's my wizard's chicken soup recipe, handed down by my great grandmother, never sick a day in her life," she handed that over to Percy as well. "And here's a bit of leftover casserole, and some rolls. I daresay you boys don't cook much for yourselves and you know they say to feed a cold and starve a fever. Or is that starve a cold and feed a fever? I suppose that doesn't matter much if it's a cold with a fever. Oh! And let me get you some fruit, just a second." She grabbed some fruit out of the bowl. She took back the things she'd passed to Percy and tossed them into a big cloth bag for him. "There now, all set?"

 

     Percy nodded again. "Thanks, Mother." He kissed her cheek, then nodded to his father, and was out.

 

     The Knight Bus was just pulling up in all its bright purple, triple-decker glory as he closed the door behind him. Oliver put down his hand and started rummaging in his pockets for bus fare. His breath caught and he retracted his hand at once to cover the sneezes. "hitchahhh! Hetchoo!"

 

     Percy stroked his arm softly. "Just wait here, I'll pay." Percy, now possessed of a job, frequently liked to buy things and treat Oliver in ways that he couldn't possibly have even a year ago. And the insistence in Percy's eyes told Oliver that this was one such time. So Oliver stood back and let Percy arrange their rides.

 

     The conductor, Stan by his nametag, looked annoyed and heaved a sigh as Percy went up the first few stairs to talk with him. "We're pretty full up, thanks to the rain. Everyone's staying off their brooms," Stan told him. "Where to?"

 

     "Scotland, just outside Puddlemere," Percy replied, giving Oliver's address to Stan. "Two one-way fares, one bed, and two hot chocolates, please." From there, he bargained with the man until it was just a fare and a half, since Percy and Oliver would be sharing a bed, and the bus was abnormally full so they were practically doing him a favor. Percy motioned for Oliver to join him, and they were escorted to a bed on the first level and on the right side. He gave them their hot chocolate as the bus took off again, making Percy spill a little only.

 

     Once they were on their way home, things started to get worse instead of better, however. Oliver complained of a terrible headache and dizziness, which once almost caused him to drop his cup. The sneezing and coughing seemed to get worse as well, and Percy began to realize how very much he had needed to hold back while at dinner, and how good it must feel to let it out now.

 

     Percy put their hot chocolates down in the cup stands beside the bed and pulled Oliver against him. "Are you all right?" he asked softly as the bus jerked to a halt for a passenger to disembark. He put a hand softly on Oliver's belly. "Not going to get, uh, sick are you?"

 

     Oliver shook his head. "I feel nauseous... but I'm not going to get sick. I've got a very strong stomach. I'm just dizzy." He swayed in his seat, closing his eyes.

 

     Percy scooted over, grabbed a pillow off the bed, and put it on his lap. "Here, lie down. I'll take care of you."

 

     Oliver obeyed though barely opened his eyes, leaning to the side until his head met the pillow. He reached a hand out to hold onto one of Percy's knees, to keep himself steady, and felt Percy's arm stroke his side through the jacket. "heh..." He struggled to get at his handkerchief, beneath the slick jacket, in the pocket he was lying on. He panted desperately, but Percy was there with his own handkerchief and a hand on Oliver's shoulder as he lifted it to the man's face. "hekTchhhh! Hihtchuhh! Uhhtchuhhh!" He sniffled and looked up at Percy. "Thak you."

 

     "Said I'd take care of you, didn't I?" He stroked Oliver's cheek gently. "Why don't you try to get some rest? I will wake you when we reach home."

 

     Oliver shook his head, sniffling, then coughing. Harsh coughs that shook him, made him curl up. "Too sick to sleep..." he turned onto his back, head still in Percy's lap.

 

     To look into those deep eyes, Percy thought he understood. "Olly, perhaps we should take a detour over to St. Mungo's. They could give you something--"

 

     But Oliver shook his head with determination. "I can't let anyone know that I'm sick., especially doctors. I'm... " his breath caught, and Percy handed over the handkerchief immediately. "heh...heh-Chishoo! uhhhChishhh! ehhChushhh! Chishhh!" Percy stroked his head gently. He wiped his nose roughly. "Doctors are required to report any sickness to the team medics and the captains. I am the only keeper the team has right now. They're relying on me to play. It's too late to change the roster. I can't... let... them-down-hehtchuhh! Hihtchuhhh! Uhtchuhhh!"

 

     Percy sighed. "All right. No doctors."

 

     Oliver found Percy's hand, squeezing it. "I have to get better by game time." Percy looked doubtful about this, but Oliver continued. "Today at practice... I hit that post, did you see?" Percy nodded; it had been hard not to notice but with the way Oliver had been in the locker room he certainly wasn't going to be the one to bring it up. "It's because I had to sneeze and I just couldn't hold it back- I don't think they saw or heard," he added quickly, "but I can't afford to do that during a match." He looked hurt, desperate, close to tears. "Perce, I've just got to shake this before the game."

 

     Percy squeezed his hand back. "You will," he said soothingly. "And I'll help you." Oliver looked highly doubtful. "I promise. You'll be fine for the game." The bus came to a jerky stop, and Oliver curled up tighter, one arm around his middle, the other to his forehead. He covered his eyes with his forearm and sniffled wetly, the way Percy had heard him do in the locker room. "There, there," he whispered. "It's all right." His tough Quidditch player suddenly dissolved into silent sobs against him, and Percy could only stroke him gently and whisper reassurances. It was the fever mostly which egged him on, for the normally strong Oliver Wood would never willingly submit to tears over such a light matter so easily. Knowing this, Percy did not try to make him stop, rather held him close to wait for it to pass.

 

     When the crying subsided, Percy wiped his face with a handkerchief and instructed him to blow his nose a number of times. "I'm... sorry..." Oliver choked, submitting further to coughs this time. "I just... I've been so worried..."

 

     "Shhh, it's all right." He bent over and kissed Oliver's cheek. "But try and get some sleep. I'll watch over you." But Oliver had been right, he couldn't fall asleep as much as he tried to. His coughing was frequent, and his sneezing even more so. Percy managed the handkerchiefs for him, tending to his nose after each. And he tried to soothe him to sleep with gentle rubs which did not seem to do any good at all.

 

     When the bus came to a very jerky halt for what was perhaps the thirtieth time since they had boarded, the conductor called out "Puddlemere!" and Oliver sat straight up. He clutched his head, swaying, with a bit of a moan, and Percy gripped him by the shoulders tightly to keep him steady. Hurriedly, they disembarked, Percy escorting Oliver out with an arm around the young man's waist.

 

     Oliver's feet didn't seem to want to find the sidewalk flatly as his legs moved to walk, and when they did, he was unsteady upon them. Consequently, Percy had to support him up the walk and the stairs to the flat and, frankly, Percy was not the one in their relation with the physical strength. Still, there was something in him that pushed him on, helping him support Oliver. He panted and strained under the effort, but finally managed to get his wand out to open the door and got Percy inside. Still looking faint, Percy hurried him over to the couch right away, leaving the door open behind and all sorts of rain and wind following them in. "Are you all right?" Percy called over the howl of wind behind him. Oliver nodded, hand to his head, sniffing back a runny nose. Percy scrambled over to the door and closed it at once with a sigh.

 

     They were both dripping wet, though Oliver had the raincoat he was now slipping out of to keep him mostly dry beneath. Percy went to retrieve towels from the bathroom and warmed them with a simple spell on the way back. He draped one around his neck, hanging down in the front over his armpits; he could wait. The other he covered Oliver's head with, massaging gently to dry the man's hair. Oliver closed his eyes and sighed, reaching up and pressing the warmth of an extra bit against his cheek. "Thanks, Perce," he said softly as Percy backed up, inspecting him.

 

     "How are you feeling now?" he asked, now rubbing his own face and hair dry, still dripping in his soaked sweater, pants, and shoes.

 

     "Better now that I'm home," Oliver replied, hugging the warm towel to his face, taking in as much of the warmth as he could. "huh-Chushhhh! Hih-Uhshooo! hetschhhhh!" He sneezed into the towel, then rubbed at his nose. Percy took it back and gently stroked Oliver's cheek.

 

     Percy disappeared into the bathroom, coming back wearing just his underwear, but he quickly changed into pajamas as the apartment was cold. He settled on the couch beside Oliver, handing him a fresh handkerchief. "I'm going to make you some tea," Percy said decidedly. "It will help settle your stomach and warm you up. And it's supposed to help with congestion also." Oliver nodded in understanding and remained on the couch as Percy went to the kitchen area. "So, I had a good day at the office," Percy called back to him, to keep his mind off his ailment.

 

     "Did you?" Oliver called back. "That's great. Tell me about it." And he sounded genuinely interested. If it was one thing Oliver Wood understood about, it was an obsession with work. And as Percy did a fine job encouraging him about Quidditch, he likewise tried to be interested in Percy's Ministry of Magic accomplishments.

 

     And so Percy did. He gave the best details of the reports proudly, and a good tale of his conversation with a superior. Oliver did his best to answer with chuckles, snorts, hums, and other such thoughtful sounds, though there were fewer and fewer of these as Percy continued on. Not long after, the water boiled, and Percy found a mug in the cupboard. He stirred in a spoonful of the tea leaves and blew the surface of it to cool it down enough to be drunk. He cupped a hand around the rim to keep it from spilling as he walked briskly back to the couch. "Here you go, Olly. Your tea is... ready..."

 

     He trailed off, looking down. Oliver had pulled the afghan off the back of the pull-out couch and draped it over himself to keep warm while he sat, listening and waiting. But it seemed that its warmth coupled with the comfort of being back home, had allowed him to finally drift off to sleep in mere minutes. Percy set the tea down on the coffee table and knelt beside the couch, shaking Oliver gently. "Olly, wake up." But Oliver did not wake. "Oliver, you should get out of your clothes and into bed. I'll help you." Oliver still did not wake. Percy sighed, giving up as he had not the heart to try harder. He untied Oliver's shoes and slipped them both off, then swung his legs from the floor up onto the couch. He rearranged Oliver completely so he was lying down on the couch rather than sitting or lounging. Then he covered Oliver with their thick comforter and kissed him goodnight. Oliver was still fast asleep as Percy left him to wash up for bed.

 

* * *

 

     "Percy?"

 

     Percy opened his eyes and rubbed the crick out of his neck. He sat up with a yawn. "What is it, Oliver?"

 

     Oliver was cold and disoriented, sitting up on the couch and looking around in a panic. He finally spotted Percy, who had been sleeping on the hard floor, wrapped up in the extra blanket and sheet. His eyes adjusted to the darkness, and he remembered coming down sick, thanks to a tickle in his nose. He coughed and gave a soft whimper. "I..."

 

     Concerned, Percy bolted to the couch, hitting his foot against the coffee table in the process, and limping the rest of the way there. He fell onto the couch, just missing Oliver's legs. "What's the matter?" His hand trembled slightly, but he reached out to hold Oliver. "You're not going to..." he swallowed hard, and he flinched when Oliver took a deep breath.

 

     But Oliver shook his head and covered his mouth and nose with his hand. His breathing was shaky and unsteady. "huh-Uhtshhhhh!" It threw him forward, bending him almost in half. Percy rubbed a hand up and down his back comfortingly. "I'm sorry, I just had to... sneeze... and... heh...'gain..." Percy tightened a grip on Oliver's shoulders to keep him steady. "heh-CHISHhhh! Heptushhh! Ehtshhh!" He sniffled and took in a deep, congested breath, then leaned into Percy, taking in the man's warmth. "Sorry."

 

     Percy looked around briefly for a handkerchief but did not find one. "It's all right," Percy muttered, looking around for something Oliver could use to blow his nose with.

 

     Sniffling constantly, Oliver wiped his nose with the cuff of his sweater. "I woke ub worried add cold," he explained. Sometime during the night he had pushed the afghan and comforter onto the ground. "I could't figure thigs out..."

 

     "You fell asleep on the couch," Percy explained, as though it should have been obvious, pulling the comforter back up to cover him at least a bit. "I didn't really want to wake you, so I slept on the floor." He raised his eyebrows softly in sympathy. "I didn't think you would wake up and be so startled or I would have tried to squeeze on there with you."

 

     Still sniffling but with a smile, Oliver nodded. "Cad we go to bed, dow?"

 

     "Of course we can," Percy replied, taking his hands and pulling him to his feet. "Let me get you pajamas, and I'll make up the bed. Go brush your teeth and get washed up." He pushed Oliver in the direction of the bathroom. Their fold-out couch turned into a bed with a flick of Percy's wand, and the sheets tucked themselves in properly as he tossed them onto the mattress.

 

     By the time Oliver returned, stripping off his clothes on the way once again, the bed was made. Percy had picked out a fresh pair of winter pajamas for him. Not the most alluring of choices, but they would keep him warm at least, and to look at Oliver's naked, shivering body that was what was needed now. Oliver climbed onto the bed, snuggling up beside Percy for warmth, and sniffling into a handkerchief he'd procured on the way over. Percy smiled in spite of himself. With a deep breath, he murmured, "You know, you're rather cute when you're sick."

 

     Oliver looked up at him, eyes full of hope and weakness all at once. "Sniff! Sniff! You're just sayig that sniff, sniff, sniff, because I have't got adythig od."

 

     Percy ran a hand gently over Oliver's pale body, as far down as he could reach from lying beside him. The darkness of the room hid his blush but not the awkward pause. "Yes, you're probably right. Here, I'll help," he offered quickly to change the subject. He scooted down a little on the bed and slid the pajama bottoms on. Slowly. Slowly enough to enjoy himself before Oliver's generous endowment was again covered. He paused a moment, hand hovering over the area, but did nothing in the end aside from making sure the waistband was loose and comfortable. Then he had Oliver sit up, and pulled the top over his head. As Oliver slipped his arms into the sleeves, Percy leaned in and kissed him.

 

     Oliver, not feeling quite up to fighting it, kissed back. Then fell back against the pillows with a strong shake from chills. Percy pulled the blankets up at once, tucking them around Oliver on one side, and tucking himself against Oliver on the other. Oliver turned and snuggled against him instinctually. Percy put an arm around and hugged him close in reassurance. "Feeling any warmer?" he asked as with bad timing just as Oliver shivered violently again. "Well you will, give it time."

 

     It didn't look like Oliver believed him, but it didn't matter as he couldn't say much at the moment anyway. One hand clutched his handkerchief, the other closed around Percy's shirt to give himself support. "uh-hetuchuhh! Hitchihhh! Uhchoo!" Percy hugged him tighter as he blew his nose and shivered again. "I don't know if I'm going to be able to fall asleep again."

 

     There was as much fatigue in his voice as doubt. Percy stroked his cheek gently. "You're probably right. Just like last time when you thought the sneezing was going to keep you up all night." He grinned. "You'll be exhausted come the morning, and too tired to move, and..." he trailed off as he heard heavy breathing and faint snoring. He looked down to see Oliver asleep, mouth open, face soft and relaxed. "Just like last time," he whispered. He kissed Oliver's forehead and let himself drift off to sleep with both arms around Oliver.

 

 

* * *

 

     "Are you sure you don't want me to make you something for breakfast?" Percy asked, pulling on his official ministry robes after having ironed them to perfection.

 

     Oliver was sitting up in bed, blankets to his middle, every pillow and cushion in the apartment behind his back to prop him up. "I'm sure," he replied softly. Percy's alarm had woken him, and Percy's normal bustling around before work had thereafter kept him up. Not to mention the fact that the Daily Profit owl arrived and nearly pecked him to death through the covers until Percy raced over with its five knuts in payment.

 

     Percy now sat on the edge of the couch, taking Oliver's hand with a squeeze. "There's hot water in the pot in the middle of the stove, and it should stay hot on its own at least until I get home. So make yourself some tea when your throat gets scratchy or when you need a nap and the sneezes aren't cooperating." The sneezes hadn't been cooperating all morning for despite Percy's reassurance that he should go back to sleep, Oliver had not been allowed to do so between all the sniffling and the nose blowing. And of course the owl pecking. "You remember how many spoonfuls of tea leaves I told you to add?"

 

     They had been over it at least three times already. "One and a... a half," replied Oliver, feeling another sneeze coming on and waving a hand in front of his face as though to signal it to finally strike. "ehhtchuhhh!"

 

     "Bless you," said Percy, passing him a fresh handkerchief. "Now I want you to stay in bed as much as you can. That means right here," he poked Oliver through the blankets. "In bed, under the covers, and no flying on your broomstick. I made some soup for you when you do get hungry," he went on. "It's in the canister by the stove, should stay warm as well for you. It's my great great grandmother's recipe and she was never sick a day in her life, so--"

 

     Oliver's eyes narrowed. "Why'd she make it if she was never sick? How's she supposed to know it works so well?" he asked, but the look on Percy's face told him not to further explore that particular topic.

 

     "They're cracking down on security in the ministry, so the best way to reach me through the outside is to send an owl." Though the method was slow, the apartment didn't have a fireplace so that mode was out, too. "You'll be all right while I'm gone?"

 

     Oliver nodded, pulling the covers up to snuggle under them with his hot water bottle.

 

     "How many spoonfuls for the tea?" he asked again.

 

     "One and a half," Oliver said for what was actually the fifth time that morning.

 

     "Good. Now get some rest," he kissed Oliver gently, pulling back with a chuckle. "I'm so used to you clean-shaven," he said, rubbing his hand against Oliver's chin. "This is... nice."

 

     Oliver smiled, knowing the tone in Percy's voice too well to believe him. Percy's 'nice' was in the same line as 'interesting' which was as close as Percy would come to saying 'you really should shave, you know.' Oliver rubbed at his nose, the tickles bothering him again but held back. "Have a good day at... work..." and this time his speech was broken not by a sneeze but a deep yawn than helped his eyes to close and his body relax. By the time Percy had apparated away, Oliver was yet again asleep.

 

 

* * *

 

     As far as busy mornings at the Ministry of Magic went, this one was one of the busiest. For security reasons, no one was able to apparate straight into the buildings themselves. The moment Percy cleared security and left the small building they were using as an apparition point, he was bombarded by questions from several reporters, who jogged to keep up with him. Once clearing them as he stepped inside the building, he had another round of security to wade through, where they checked his identification, drew blood to be sure he wasn't under the influence of any poisons, and had him test his wand to show that it was working properly and accurately, which of course his did.

     The morning got no easier from there. First, one of the new employees had misplaced the morning briefing's memo, and Percy had been forced to painstakingly search for it. After waving his wand to ease document after document out of the cabinets he finally found it, a mere half a page of parchment, misfiled. And not just misfiled but misdated. It was, in fact, dated two hundred years prior, and thus had wound up in not just the wrong drawer but the wrong cabinet completely. A few people clapped at his findings when Percy called them all back to the board meeting to resume, and Percy grinned broadly at the display of appreciation. He grinned, that is, until a witch at the meeting was hit from a wand that had been seized by the Improper Use of Magic office for shooting out stunning spells automatically. She was sent face down onto the desk while everyone else scrambled to take cover, and knocked a coffee cup over in the process, spilling it onto the briefing. While it was no problem to magic away the coffee stains, the cream had been of some odd sort which left streaks upon the paper that could not be removed. With it completely and irreversibly illegible, they ended the meeting immediately, considering it should have been over hours ago anyway, and the stunned woman was taken over to a chair near where a dozen others were slowly being revived.

 

     To make matters worse, Percy found a whole stack of correspondences which had come in overnight and needed to be answered before he could start any of his actual daily work which he already felt panicked and behind on for no good reason.

 

     He wasn't in a very good state when Alexa came and settled on his desk. "What have you got for me?" Percy asked her, but she simply cocked her head and clicked her beak at him. Alexa was Oliver's owl, given to him as a present by his parents when he made the Gryffindor house team. Oliver named her after some famous Quidditch Keeper that Percy had never heard of. Percy untied the letter from Alexa's leg and unfolded it. She snapped her beak at him again and tapped one foot on the desktop impatiently. Apparently Oliver had relayed a bit of desperation for the answer to her. The letter was short:

 

     Percy-

How many spoonfuls was I supposed to add for the tea? I've forgotten.

Thanks,

Oliver

 

     Percy smiled, shaking his head. He took up a blank piece of paper and sent his reply, which amounted to asking how many times they'd been over this particular detail. But he also reiterated the answer, wished Oliver better, and sent it off straight away. But it seemed that the moment he sent Alexa with the letter, she returned with another. This one was roughly the same, but with a bit more of a whine to it.

 

     Percy-

The tea was too hot. I think I burned my tongue. And I have a horrible

headache. Is there something I can take for that?

-Oliver

 

     Another letter was written back, telling him that the tea should help with his headache and to put some edible cream on the burn if it still hurt. Alexa took the letter and flew off with it. And not long after, even before he could resume his work, he got a third. In this one, Oliver said he felt too dizzy to get up for anything, but it didn't really matter since he felt nauseous from the headache and couldn't move anyway. Percy pushed aside his current response to the Japanese diplomat about the Ministry's decision to outlaw wish-granting devices. Apparently they had been having trouble with certain unauthorized genie-less lamps granting improper wishes to their masters. Instead, Percy picked up a new piece of parchment.

 

     Oliver-

Stay in bed and sleep it off. Don't try to get up, please.

Just stay warm and under the covers.

-Percy

 

Alexa took this one as well, returning quickly with yet another letter. Percy gave up working completely to keep up with Oliver's constant stream of letters. First he complained of being too hot, then another saying he was much too cold. Then one saying he'd fallen trying to get to the bathroom and hit his head on a chair. Finally, there was a short one stating plainly:

 

I really don't feel so good. O

 

At this, Percy scribbled a memo for his father to apologize for missing lunch and set it off flying towards the elevators. Then he stacked up his papers and then went straight to his boss. Well, the man wasn't exactly his boss, as Mr. Crouch had been out of the office all year practically. But he was the person to whom Percy reported at work. He was the person who would notice that Percy was not there. "I need to take the rest of the day off," Percy declared, already shrugging on his coat. "I'm sorry."

 

     "A sudden personal day?" the man asked, with white, bushy eyebrows and a wrinkled-with-wisdom face. "That's not like you, Young Mr. Weasley."

 

     Percy shook his head. "I've... well, I've got a sick friend."

 

     "For this you wish to miss work for a day?" He stood up behind his desk to better look at Percy.

 

     "Two days, I think," Percy said, wincing slightly as the image of an overflowing mail tray caught his mind, but telling himself to stay strong. "I'll need tomorrow off as well, Sir."

 

     "Indeed?" his boss' bushy eyebrows went up, and the man began to pace behind his desk, back and forth, slowly. "This must be some friend, you have."

 

     Percy nodded, feeling his ears go a bit red. "Actually, he's my... my boyfriend, Sir." He looked down, embarrassed. "He really isn't doing well alone and needs me."

 

     A smile spread on the old man's face. "Well good for you, Lad. In that case, I'll grant you sick leave, with pay of course."

 

     Percy nodded a few times in appreciation, smiling as well. "Yes, Sir. Thank you, Sir."

 

     He turned to go, and heard behind him, "And I will expect you back on Monday, so take care not to come down with anything yourself!"

 

     Percy turned his head back. "Yes, Sir. I mean, no I won't, Sir!" Zipping his jacket up, he headed outside, fought through the swarm of reporters, and went back into the small building to apparate back home.

 

     The flat had an odd smell to it, a cross between tea and something else Percy couldn't quite recognize. There were no lights on, except for the one in the bathroom, which seemed to be empty. Oliver lay across the bed, a blanket around his shoulders, a hand to his forehead, passed out cold. "Olly?" Percy threw off his coat and climbed onto the bed, lying sideways across it as well, and scooting up against Oliver. "Olly, I'm home." He eased Oliver's hand down gently, and kissed the man's cheek. Oliver's face broke out into a smile, but he did not wake. "Never mind, just sleep. I'm sure you need it." He pulled a pillow over from the pile at the head of the bed and laid his head on it. He continued to stroke Oliver's head for some time, until the dimness in the room and the warmth of the bed got to him, and he drifted off to sleep with both of his arms wrapped around Oliver.

 

 

     Quite a while later, Oliver woke with several startling sneezes, and realized that he was being held as he tried to reach for a handkerchief. Instead, a handkerchief was passed to him, and a hand softly stroked his cheek. "Did you have a good nap?" Percy spoke quietly, so as not to disturb the silence of the room.

 

     "What are you doig hobe so early?" Oliver asked, checking the time to be sure he hadn't slept the entire day away without knowing it.

 

     "Well, that's a beautiful greeting. And have you never heard of lunch?" Percy laughed, hugging him tight, shaking him a bit back and forth as Oliver joined in with the laughter, then kissing his cheek softly.

 

     "I thought," Oliver said, pulling away with a smile, "that you were havig ludch with your father today."

 

     Percy shrugged. "I wanted to be here instead. Besides, I just saw Father last night so he won't mind." He sat up, trying to tug Oliver up with him, but the man remained on his side, rubbing his nose this time. "Come on, join me for lunch?"

 

     "I'b dot really hugry." He pulled the handkerchief up, readying it as he felt more sneezes coming on. "hihtchuhhh! Hetchhoo! uhtchahh!" He whimpered in exhaustion and blew his nose.

 

     "Bless you," Percy whispered, lying back down, kissing him gently on the neck, then the cheek. "How about if I have a bowl of soup, and you can steal a few spoonfuls away from me now and again?"

 

     Apparently, this was good enough, and Oliver nodded in agreement. "All right. Yeah."

 

     Percy sat up again, this time successful in brining Oliver with him. He propped Oliver up against the pillows, and waved his wand towards the kitchen area, Assio-ing over the thermos, a bowl, and two spoons. Surprisingly, Oliver ate more than even Percy had hoped, before submitting to a fit of coughing and lying back down on his side. Percy tried administering some tea next, though Oliver did not drink much before succumbing to a fit of sneezes this time. Oliver looked completely miserable that even having Percy there with him didn't seem to cheer him up.

 

     Percy, therefore, tried another tactic. "So what's all this about hitting your head?"

 

     Oliver shrugged. "I got really dizzy add went right over idto the chair," he said, gesturing towards it. He rubbed a spot on his head and winced very slightly.

 

     "Let me have a look," Percy said, settling closer to Percy on the bed and gently feeling around on his head amidst his curly brown hair. Oliver gave a grunt as he hit the sensitive spot, but there seemed to be no bump; that was a first. "You'll be all right."

 

     Nodding, "I've had worse od the Quidditch field."

 

     With a soft laugh, Percy settled down beside Oliver, lying face-to-face this time so that he could look into Oliver's handsome eyes as he spoke. "Like your first game, for instance?" Percy volunteered the happy memory.

 

     Oliver replied by rolling his eyes. "Oh the headache I had whed I woke ub id hosbital!" He rubbed at his nose, sniffling. "I did't dow you cabe to that gabe," he said so softly that the words were almost lost.

 

     Percy caught them and answered with a nod. "What, did you think I spent all my time at Hogwarts in the library?"

 

     "No," though Oliver did not seem too sure of his answer. "I just... well, I know you went to some of the games with Penny when you two were going out. But I didn't know about before that. You never went to the ones Gryffindor wasn't playing in."

 

     "Well, I didn't have anyone to cheer for at those games, did I?" That sounded too sensitive, even for him, and he quickly looked away from Oliver's eyes to change the subject. "Anyway, what were you doing getting up in the first place? I thought I told you to stay in bed."

 

     Oliver looked a bit embarrassed this time. "I had to use the loo."

 

     Percy's gaze met Oliver's and they both laughed. "Well, the next time you need to get up, for any reason, I'll be here to support you."

 

     "That's a very dice sed... sedti... uh..." he raised his handkerchief to his nose. "erh-Chuhhh! hehChahhh! heptchuhhh!" He sniffed hard, but there was one more, and Percy waited for it before blessing him. "huktchhhhh!"

 

     "Bless you." He scooted forward and kissed Oliver's forehead. "You were saying?"

 

     "Oh," he pause to wipe his nose a bit, then continued on. "It's dice of you to say that... but chadces are I'll have to get ub sobetibe while you're away at work."

 

     "Well then," said Percy, moving closer, taking Oliver's head to his shoulder, wrapping an arm around him. "I won't go back to work."

 

     Oliver laughed, but Percy stayed serious as Oliver pulled back to look at him. "You takig a day off frob work voludtarily? That's udheard of! Are you sure you're dot... dot sick?" He put a bit more distance between them as he turned his head with a deep breath. "hutchuhhh! ehh-uhhtchoo!"

 

     Percy shrugged, passing over a fresh handkerchief. "Well, I am supposed to be making sure you get better by Saturday's game, aren't I? And I really do need to be here to do that. Besides, I wasn't getting any work done what with all those letters you were sending."

 

     "But--"

 

     "Ah," Percy pulled him back into the hug, bringing the covers up around them both. "There's nothing to be said. I'm not going back to work until you start feeling better. It's already been arranged."

 

     There was silence for a while. For a few tense moments Percy wasn't exactly sure how Oliver would react to this. But then the man sighed and relaxed against Percy completely. "Thaks," he whispered with such gratefulness that it made Percy go weak.

 

     "Not at all." He kissed the top of the man's head and held him close as Oliver drifted off to sleep much more quickly than before.

 

* * *

 

     "hih...hih-ehhh..." Oliver sat up in bed, covers to his waist, holding a handkerchief out in front of him as he rocked forward with each heavy breath out. Weakly, he shook with sneezes. "uhtshhhh! Hetchhoo! hitschuhh! hehktshuhhh!"

 

     Percy rubbed his back. "Bless you again."

 

     "Th-thaks," he wheezed, then shook again with coughs.

 

     "Let me get you another handkerchief, and a glass of water." Percy got up at once, returning in seconds with the items. As he handed them over, Oliver shivered. "I should refill your water bottle, too." He reached beneath the covers to retrieve it, lukewarm but not as hot as it could be.

 

     "Hey," Oliver grabbed his lower arm as he made to go. "You dod't have to hover add be doig sobthig for be every sigle secod. It's just a cold, I'b dot dyig." He rubbed at his nose, sniffling hard as another tickle struck.

 

     "I know..." he smiled. "But I like to stay busy... and I am here to help you get better as quickly as possible, right?" He bent down, cupping Oliver's face with his hand gently. "Besides, I kind of get a kick out of smothering and taking care of you like this."

 

     Oliver gave a soft laugh. "Well, id that case, I could really use a backrub."

 

     Percy stood and gave a terribly dramatic bow, complete with hand flourish. "It would be my pleasure." He returned momentarily, handing over the water bottle.

 

     Oliver hugged it to his chest and rolled over onto his chest, exposing his back. His hands warm from the hot water bottle, Percy slid them underneath Oliver's shirt and began to rub. Oliver immediately gave a sigh and a moan of pleasure, and closed his eyes. "Feeling better?" Oliver nodded with another sigh. His skin was smooth and warm to the touch, even against Percy's hot hands. He had indeed needed the backrub, as his muscles were terribly tight, not giving way as Percy pushed hard on them. But Oliver's soft moans told him the man still appreciated the touch. So Percy kept on, working his hands down the spine, then up again, massaging outward to relieve the pressure, and kneading his hands into the shoulders and shoulder blades where the stiffness was most felt.

 

     "Hey... wait..." Oliver propped himself up for a moment on one elbow, giving his head room to bob up and down with more sneezes. "hetchuhhh! hihtchuhhh!" He sniffled and rubbed his wrist against his nose. "Sorry. Well, I was feelig better at least." He sniffled again and put his hand to his head. "Thag you though."

 

     Percy shook his head. "I'm not going to stop just because you sneezed a few times. Unless you really want me to." He forced the handkerchief into Oliver's hand. Oliver shook his head and blew his nose. "Well then, I'll keep rubbing and you can keep sneezing." He flattened against Oliver's back and cocked his head to kiss his cheek. "I wish you were feeling better," he whispered, digging his hands into Oliver's shoulders again.

 

     Oliver felt something else dig into his behind, and grinned mischievously in recognition. "Yeah, Sniff, sniff! I cad feel that you do."

 

     Percy blushed. "I've got my hands up your shirt, Olly. I can't help it if you're too sexy to resist."

 

     Oliver chuckled. "Subbose you're right. I just wish I felt good edough for that."

 

     Shaking his head again, "I wouldn't want you to tire yourself out. Now just relax and let me rub your back." Oliver sighed as Percy continued, with long, hard, sensual strokes, and kisses here and there, simply unable to resist. And as Oliver certainly didn't seem to mind, he didn't see the point in restraining himself.

 

     After nearly an hour, a soft snore, caught Percy's ear, and he looked down to see that Oliver had fallen asleep yet again. Hands tingling from the effort, Percy stopped. He pulled up the covers and lay down beside Oliver in bed. But try as he might, he could not keep his hands to himself. Oliver was warm, hot, as though radiating some energy that pulled them together. But then again, that was Oliver any time. Possessed of the sort of energy that made Percy want to be there in bed with him rather than working, rather than doing anything else in the world. Percy buried his nose in the back of Oliver's neck, as his hand ran the length of the man's body.

 

     Even in pajamas, the man was irresistible, perhaps even more so with them on. He had that cuddly look to him, but in a tough, dignified way. His hair almost always looked perfect, no matter how he slept on it. His face was pale, but wore a look of blissful relaxation. His mouth hung open, breathing in and out heavily as he had no use of his stuffy nose. He body was stretched out, the legs of his pajamas came halfway up his calves, having been pushed by the covers, leaving bare skin between the cuffs and his socks. Percy tugged them down gently, then ran his hand back up Oliver's leg, resting it on his thigh, hesitantly. He didn't dare do more, not with Oliver feeling unwell. But he gave into the temptation enough to give Oliver a few kisses.

 

     In his sleep, Oliver smiled, feeling the warmth, the touches, the sensations. He gave a snort and stirred, taking Percy's hand and directing it over to his crotch. Percy grinned and rubbed harder in response. A pleased grunt came from Oliver, and Percy had to shift a bit to readjust himself, wishing he had taken his pants off beforehand. But he slowly stopped rubbing as he realized Oliver was falling back into a deep sleep; the man needed sleep badly and Percy didn't want to be the reason for denying it.

 

     Oliver slept for a few hours, waking once or twice to rub at his nose or cough, and falling right back to sleep again. Percy was ready with a handkerchief and a hot, steaming mug of tea when Oliver woke for good. He snuggled against Percy for warmth, half sitting up as Percy held him securely. "Mmmm... this tea's better whed you do it."

 

     "I put nearly a half a cup of sugar in it, that's why," Percy laughed.

 

     Oliver turned his head to offer a smile in return, then quickly snapped his head away as his cupped hand found his nose. "huhhtchhh! huhctshhhh! hehtchhhh!" They were wet sneezes, ones he fully appreciated the fresh handkerchief to take care of. "Thags Berce," he snuffled through it, as Percy wrapped his arms around the man, supporting the hand which held the tea, lest he spill it while sneezing.

 

     He ran his other hand through Oliver's hair. "Drink up, you'll feel better." Oliver hesitated, sniffling into the handkerchief miserably. "I promise." With his hand already there, he guided the mug to Oliver's mouth, and tilted it slowly for Oliver to take a small sip. "There, that didn't kill you, did it?"

 

     Oliver shook his head and pushed the mug back down, bringing the handkerchief up in its place. "huh-Tchuhhh! hihtchuhh! Heh...heh-ehhhhh..." Percy stroked his head gently, unable to do anything but sit aside and watch him suffer. He eased the mug out of Oliver's hand to once more prevent him from spilling. "eh-eh-heh-EHktshhh!" He groaned this time as he blew his nose, and closed his eyes afterwards.

 

     "Bless you." Percy, having put the cup on the coffee table, wrapped his arms around Oliver from behind. "My poor baby..."

 

     With a grumble, Oliver tried to shake him off. "I'b dot a baby."

 

     "Oh, of course not," Percy replied, holding on tightly. "You're a tough Quidditch keeper with a horrible head cold." He planted a kiss on Oliver's cheek. "But you're my tough Quidditch keeper with a horrible head cold."

 

     Oliver relaxed, chuckling until he coughed. He turned and snuggled against Percy's chest, pushing him down back against the bed. "Why Bercy! Sniff, sniff! I catch a little sdiffle add you get all cute add cuddly od be."

 

     Percy blushed red from his cheeks to his ears and hugged Oliver tighter. "More than you know," Percy muttered.

 

     "What?" Oliver lifted his head, but Percy guided it back down to his chest quickly.

 

     "Nothing," he said softly, kissing the top of Oliver's head. "Just lie still and feel better." He stroked Oliver's head again, gently.

 

     "Easier said thad... thad dode," Oliver replied, sniffling. He buried his nose in the handkerchief and blew his nose strongly. "I'b dot goig to be better id tibe for the gabe, ab I?" he asked wearily, closing his eyes.

 

     Percy bit his lip and tried to sound positive as he replied. "You'll be just fine, Olly. I made you a promise. Now why don't you try and get some more sleep, and I'll stay here and watch over you." Oliver seemed to be in no position to argue, and with the hope of recovering more quickly than he seemed to be currently, he drifted back to sleep.

 

* * *

 

     Oliver slept through dinner, and well into the night, despite Percy's several attempts at waking him in order to have a bit to eat or another cup of tea. Percy, himself, pulled free of Oliver sometime that evening and had gone about cleaning the flat, making some dinner, and doing a bit of work from the office. Percy was, in fact, at the foot of the bed, reading a book by candlelight on tricks genies throughout history had pulled on their masters, when Oliver awoke, coughing.

 

     Percy levitated the candelabra and performed a spell to keep it there until the counter-spell was performed. Then he set down his book and crawled up the bed to Oliver.

 

     "What tibe is it?" Oliver asked, rubbing an eye with the base of his hand.

 

     "It's late," Percy replied. "Almost two in the morning I think. You slept all evening. Hungry?"

 

     Oliver shook his head.

 

     "Thirsty? Cold? Stuffy? Hurting? Anything I can do?" He ran fingers against Oliver's cheek, caressing gently.

 

     Oliver brought a blanket up around himself more tightly, shivering. "I dod't know... I just feel sick all over." Percy took Oliver in his arms, holding him tightly, nuzzling close. Oliver sniffled, casting a glance at Percy. "You really are gettig idto this."

 

     Glad that his blush could not be seen in the dark, Percy replied, "I'll make us some tea." He started to pull away, but Oliver reached out and held him back. "All right," Percy whispered, settling back down in a hug with Oliver. "I'll wait a bit to get some tea, then." He pulled the blankets around the both of them, snuggling Oliver tightly.

 

     Curling in on himself while still in Percy's arms, Oliver gave a strong sneeze into the blankets. "huhTCHUHH! HITCHUHH!" Percy rubbed Oliver's nose with a handkerchief for him. "Th-thags Berce... heh-EHchushhh!" Percy held the handkerchief for him as he sneezed and blew his nose. Softly he whispered, "Dod't leave be."

 

     "I will stay with you all night," Percy promised. "I know you're probably not very tired, but I want you to try to fall back to sleep. That's the best thing you can do for yourself right now."

 

     Oliver nodded but did not answer as he was fighting back another sneeze. Percy got the handkerchief ready again and held it to his nose. "ihhhhh...huhTUSHHH! TSCHhhhhh!" He blew his nose, then craned his neck to look at Percy. "You're a little too good at this," he said.

 

     Percy's cheeks and ears went redder still. "Keep talking like that and I'll leave to make that tea." Oliver grabbed the parts of Percy's arms that wrapped around him and pulled the man closer. Percy closed his eyes sleepily as the warmth of the covers and Oliver's body surrounded him on all sides. But he had not drifted off to sleep completely when Oliver shook again with coughs.

 

     Percy pulled back a little to give Oliver room. His body shook hard with the coughs, which made the bed shake as well. "Oliver?" he said softly, looking down at the pained expression on the man's face. "Are you all right?"

 

     Still coughing, he shook his head. "Think... cough, cough, going to, cough, cough-cough-cough, goig to be sick!" he just managed, still coughing but now wrapping his arms around his middle.

 

     Startled, Percy jumped out of the bed at once. The man continued to cough, perhaps even harder, as he curled up more around his clearly hurting middle. Percy winced and closed his eyes, panic rising within him. "Can you make it to the bathroom?" he asked, squinting, not wanting to look or listen for an answer.

 

     Oliver nodded and held out a hand for Percy to help him up with. Torn between getting too close and not getting Oliver to the bathroom in time, Percy chose to trust Oliver's nod and grabbed his hand and arm. He raced Oliver to the bathroom at once, threw open the lid of the toilet seat, and abandoned Oliver there while he cowered just outside. He winced again and tried not to listen to anything but a song he replayed in his head to soothe himself.

 

     But the sounds Percy had been expecting did not come. There was more coughing, yes, but that was all. Not even so much as a gag or choke. After a few minutes, Percy risked a look in, to see Oliver sitting with his arm bent on the toilet seat and his head resting on his arm as though it were a pillow. He looked up at Percy with a hurt expression, and Percy simply melted, going to him and offering a warm hug. "Stobach really does hurt," Oliver insisted weakly.

 

     Percy nodded. "It's probably the fever that's making you feel sick to your stomach." He reached down with a shaking hand and pressed it against Oliver's stomach to steady it. "But let's stay here until the ache goes away, just in case. All right?"

 

     "I have a strog stobach... it just hurts." Oliver nodded, closing his eyes as his body shook again. Not with coughs, but with a violent shiver which seemed to run right through him. Percy left for a moment, returning with the blanket off the bed, which he wrapped around Oliver. He had to admit, as he sat down again beside Oliver, that the tile floor of the bathroom was freezing and the rest of the bathroom wasn't much warmer. He sat back against the opposite wall of the tiny bathroom, which meant he was perhaps three feet away, if that.

 

     Several times, Oliver broke into coughing fits, and lifted his head, getting ready to be sick. But every time the coughing passed without further event and he ended up resting his head back down on his arm and closing his eyes. And every time this happened, Percy reached over and pulled the blanket back around him tightly as though in a silent thank you for not letting the nausea get the better of him.

 

     Having not had any sleep at all for the night, Percy found himself nodding off to sleep where he sat, head bobbing forward until his chin reached his chest, then pulling back so that the back of his head hit the tile wall. He woke every time Oliver did so much as cough or sniffle, recoiling a bit and biting his lip when it looked as though Oliver was going to be sick, and leaning forward to offer pieces of toilet roll to blow his nose into when Oliver sneezed.

 

     "I'b dever goig to get to sleeb," Oliver complained as Percy tugged the blanket around him again for the hundredth time that night.

 

     Percy was half asleep and barely registered anything but the sound of the cough and the instinct to readjust the blanket. "Just relax," Percy said, eyes closed. He leaned back against the wall. "Close eyes..." he muttered. "Sleep..." And he drifted off again.

 

     It was very early in the morning when Percy woke, grunting as his head slammed back against the hard wall. He looked to the toilet, but found Oliver, instead, stretched out on the bathroom floor with his head in Percy's lap and the blanket draped over both his body and Percy's legs. Oliver was fast asleep and snoring. With a smile, Percy shook Oliver. "C'mon. Bed," he managed to whisper, feeling as utterly exhausted as Oliver looked. The two men pulled themselves up, stumbled back to the pull-out couch, and collapsed onto it, not even bothering to readjust the covers.

 

     "huhKutchhhh! Cheshhhhh!" Oliver sneezed. Even exhausted, Percy instinctively rolled over, taking the sick man into his arms very lovingly.

 

     "You really are... very good at this..." Oliver murmured suspiciously on his way back to sleep again.

 

     Percy cuddled Oliver accordingly, and whispered, "We'll talk tomorrow when we've both had a proper sleep." Oliver yawned sleepily and nodded, looking even sleepier. Though stuffy and sick and aching all over, Oliver still managed to fall asleep first, nestled against Percy.

 

* * *

 

     It was lucky for Percy that Oliver barely remembered the night before when they awoke the next morning. He had a vague recollection of waking up coughing, and of Percy hugging him warmly, but that could have been any number of times, given his cold. And he recalled going over to the bathroom, but couldn't remember anything that had happened. Percy had informed him that not much really had happened. And Percy had hoped that his great relief of that fact did not show through too obviously. He had torn himself away from the bed at that point to change for the morning. Then he found himself taking a long, icy cold shower out of instinct as he heard Oliver sneezing in the other room.

 

     "Berrrrrrrrrrrcy?" Oliver called across the small flat, sounding much more like a dying animal than anything else.

 

     Percy was in the kitchen, leaning over to examine a pot of porridge on the stove that was being stirred by an enchanted spoon. "What is it?" Percy called back, not annoyed, but not fully calm either. This was his sixth time calling since Percy had begun breakfast, and the first five had been rather pointless.

 

     As, apparently, the sixth turned out to be. "I feel siiiiiick!" Oliver moaned, rolling over onto his back in bed, arms thrown out to each side as though revealing himself like that would make Percy understand.

 

     "Yes, I know that," called Percy, silently half wishing that Oliver could return to the silent, suffering patient he had been at the beginning of his cold. "It's only a cold, Oliver."

 

     "Ughhh!" Oliver replied "But I feel so bloody terrible!"

 

     Percy took the pot off the stove, added a bit of syrup, then grabbed the spoon to stop it from stirring any further. He scooped out two bowls worth and brought them back to the bed. "I know you do," Percy said with a nod, settling down on top of the blankets. "And that's why I'm here to help you get better." He held out a bowl to Oliver. "Nice, warm porridge."

 

     Oliver looked down at the bowl but did not move to take it. He suddenly looked very pale. "Uh... I dod't thidk I wadt it."

 

     Percy looked surprised and glanced at both bowls to be sure nothing was wrong with them. "But not ten minutes ago you begged me to make this for you for breakfast."

 

     Oliver closed his eyes and placed an arm across his stomach again. "I cad't eat it," he whispered. "Take it away before I get sick."

 

     Rolling his eyes, Percy pulled the bowl back. "And I suppose that means I can't eat in front of you?" Oliver winced at the thought, shutting his eyes tighter. "All right, all right," Percy sighed. He got up again and went back to the kitchen to eat, a bit disgruntled. He sat at the small table, eating spoonful after spoonful and remembering more quickly than he would have liked that he didn't much care for porridge.

 

     Meanwhile, Oliver pulled the blankets up to his chin, shivering. He clenched his teeth to keep them from chattering, and rubbed his hands up and down his arms to try and generate more heat as his body shook as well. When he sneezed, he didn't bother to move his hands away to cover them up. "huhKeshhh! hahKIHShhhhh! Ehhh-uhhCheshhhh!" He sniffed wetly, but did not break out of form to do anything about it.

 

     With a sigh, Percy forced down another bite of porridge before setting the bowl down and heading over to Oliver. He reached beneath the blankets, felt around for a moment, then pulled out the hot water bottle. "If you wanted me to fill it up, all you had to do was ask. Not sit here shivering dramatically until I got the idea." Oliver shook his head, sniffled, and continued to shiver. Percy reached down and put a hand to his forehead. It was warmer than ever, and Percy had the horrible realization that Oliver was not exaggerating his condition in the least. "I'll just go fill this up then," Percy said quickly. He returned and handed it over.

 

     Oliver took it beneath the blankets with him and hugged it to his chest, still shaking with chills. Percy sat on the side of the bed, wrapping an arm around Percy in the hopes of transferring a little heat over to him. But after a few minutes, it was clear that neither he nor the hot water bottle were helping much. Oliver still shivered uncontrollably. And he sniffled and sneezed without any desire to pull a hand out from beneath a blanket to tend to it. "ihhHechuhhh! Hihshhhh! Heh... Ahshhhh! Ihchhh!" Percy located a handkerchief and brought it to Oliver's nose, rubbing carefully. Then he held it steady as the familiar pre-sneeze breaths issued from Oliver again. "hehh...hehUHHshhhh!"

 

     "Blesses," Percy said, wiping Oliver's nose more. "Can I make you some tea?" Percy offered, racking his brain to think of ways to warm Oliver up. Oliver looked hesitant, and pale, but nodded. Percy got up and waved his wand towards the kitchen so that the kettle was already heating water by the time he got to it. And by the time he got out cup, spoon, tea, and sugar, the water was boiling. He brought it back to Oliver, holding it out as he had done with the porridge.

 

     "I'b dot sure..." Oliver whispered, burying his head into a pillow. "I just feel so sick..."

 

     "This will help settle your stomach," Percy explained, sitting down on the bed again. "And help with the headache and fever. Please, just drink a little?"

 

     In the end, Oliver obliged, sipping slowly, and handing the cup back to Percy to hold whenever he had to sneeze. Though in the end, he was still shivering slightly.

 

     Percy headed to the dresser, pulling out a turtleneck and sweater. "Take off your top," he called, walking over to him with the items of clothing and another blanket. He helped Oliver put on the turtleneck, then the sweater, which had a large neck of its own so that, folded down, it still came up to Oliver's chin. It slimmed the normally broad-shouldered Oliver and made Percy regret wrapping the extra blanket around him completely as it deprived him of that view. "Warmer?" he asked.

 

     Oliver shrugged only, which plainly meant that no, he wasn't. "L-lit-tle... b-b-bit-t... hah-UHShhhuhhh! Harshuhh!" Percy wiped his nose for him. "Th-thaks."

 

     Percy reached around him and rubbed his hands up and down Oliver's arms hard through the blanket. He stopped only to bend his neck and kiss Oliver's cheek, or to place his hand against Oliver's forehead to check. He was beginning to think that taking care of the man was a bit out of his reach. He contemplated contacting St. Mungo's, but then remembered that he'd promised not to. And he thought of contacting his mother, but could not think of what she could do that he could not. After all, she would not kiss and hug Oliver the way he could. But at the same time, the kisses and hugs did not seem to be doing much good either.

 

     "hihShahh! ehhtChuhhhh!" Nor, apparently, did the nose rubbings and blows Percy facilitated.

 

     "Blesses--" Percy broke off as Oliver gave a violent shiver on top of his normal shivering. Percy sighed. "That's it. I'm taking you for a shower." He pulled on Oliver's arm, and the young man reluctantly parted from his blankets to follow him to the bathroom. Even though Percy had just put the sweater and turtleneck on Oliver, he took them off now. Oliver shivered still as he leaned back against the cold tile of the wall.

 

     "B-bay-b-be th-this is a b-ad id-dea..." Oliver tried as Percy undressed him. "T-too c-co-cold." He shivered and ran his hands up and down his upper arms, holding them crossed as close to his chest as possible.

 

     Percy shook his head. The fact that Oliver was still able to shiver was a good one. "Warm water and steam will help you." Oliver nodded, though did not look convinced in the least. So Percy took him in a warm hug, meaning to warm him and comfort him and instill some confidence. However, Oliver started chuckling. Percy pulled back at once, seeming to know what Oliver found humorous. He blushed brightly and looked down. "Sorry... I... well you're starkers aren't you?" He bit his lip. "Can't help it." He turned away completely on the pretence of turning on the shower and feeling the spray to get it at exactly the right temperature.

 

     Still shaking with cold, Oliver gave a sympathetic smile towards Percy's back. "S'all right," he said softly, more in a whisper than anything else so that his teeth would not chatter so badly. "I just wasd't expectig... but you've had a stiffy half the tibes you've beed aroud be these last few days, have't you?"

 

     At the mere mention of it, Percy felt himself go very warm indeed. He tried to convince himself it was just from the shower spray and steam now filling the stall. He had to lean into the stall to reach the faucet and the stream of water, after all. But he also had to adjust himself below the waist.

 

     "Your slacks are tight," Oliver observed, going over and unbuttoning Percy's pants slowly. Oliver also pressed himself up against Percy for the warmth, getting closer to the steam from the move as well. He cupped Percy's bulge through his briefs and was a bit taken aback. "You're really hard... add I did't eved do adythig!"

 

     Percy gave a shiver of his own and closed his eyes. The rush of the shower water drowned out his reply but at Oliver's insistence, he repeated, "Yes you did."

 

     Oliver ginned. It did not matter that he did not understand what Percy meant. What mattered was that he could take full advantage of the situation. But as he lowered the waist of Percy's pants to the man's ankles, he pulled back and turned away, himself, cupping both hands over nose and mouth. "huhTchhuhhh! Heh...hehUHShhhh! Hihshahhh!" He shivered violently and stepped about as far away as he could get in the small bathroom. "S-sorry," he said, teeth chattering as he did not try to stop them. He looked thoroughly disappointed, as though he'd ruined something he knew would have been good.

 

     Understanding that Oliver did not want to continue with whatever they were doing, Percy turned away. He closed the door to the shower stall to keep the steam in it as much as possible. "Your shower's ready," he said. Percy reached down and tugged his pants back up. He didn't do them back up, but instead held them at the waist as he gestured to the shower.

 

     Oliver nodded and crossed over to it, getting in. "huhShhhhh! hehChuhhh!" he sneezed again as the steam caught his nose. His shivering seemed to stop as he was enveloped by the warm water. He sighed with relief, sniffled and rubbed at his nose, then turned back to look at Percy. Percy was adjusting himself again absentmindedly as he watched to be sure Oliver was all right. Oliver sniffed hard and pushed the door to the stall again. "You cobig id? Or do I have to wash by back od by owd?" Percy hesitated and tightened his grip on the waist of his pants. "You better cobe id right dow," Oliver tried again, this time with a sly smile and a hand on the back of his forehead. "I thik I'b feeling a little faidt."

 

     Percy had stepped out of his pants by the time he had worked out Oliver's stuffy-nosed speech. Instead of hanging up the clothes which he had only been wearing for an hour or two, he pulled them off and left them crumpled on the floor and strewn about the bathroom in his haste to get in the shower. He wrapped his arms around Oliver the moment he stepped in, finding that the man no longer shivered with cold constantly, though did shiver slightly with a chill or two every minute or so. "I can't explain it!" Percy called over the sound of the running water. "Please don't ask me to try."

 

     Oliver smiled and shook his head as he hand ran down Percy's now wet front, resting on the hard erection. He wanted Percy to explain, he wanted to understand before he tried to do anything. But before he could speak, he sneezed again. "ihhhTchhhhhh! hehShhhhhhhh1 hehKUShhhhhh!" Oliver turned his face into the spray directly to clear his face. When he looked back, Percy seemed to be biting his lip and wincing, not in pain but in pleasure. "What?" he asked weakly, soaking in the warmth of the shower to keep himself from shivering again.

 

     Percy shook his head and made to leave, but Oliver blocked him. "You're dot gettig bast be," he said, looking as resolute as he always did when guarding his hoops on the Quidditch field. "Dot udit... dot... ah...hah-Hehshhhh! Huh-Uhshhhhh!" This time Percy had to cough to cover a strangled moan. A moan Oliver was more than familiar with. "It's all this, isd't it?" he asked, comprehension dawning on his face. He reached over and rubbed Percy's cock in smooth strokes, aided by the water. "By sdeezig... by cold...?"

 

Percy closed his eyes, going weak at the sensations Oliver was pumping into his body. "I can't explain," he repeated. But the tone in his voice was enough to let Oliver know he was right.

 

     "Look," Oliver said, moving away from the door and back under the spray to stay warm. "It's flatterig, really," he admitted with a smile. "But I really dod't feel so good, Berce. I cad't... well..." he looked down at his own cock, which didn't seem quite as excited as it should be to be standing in a shower naked with his... with Percy.

 

     Percy's heart was beating fast, his breathing was deeper and faster. And he suddenly grabbed Oliver and slammed him up against the wall of the stall. He ran his hand down Oliver's back, resting it at the man's rear. He rubbed there for a moment, working up the courage to act.

 

     Oliver tensed immediately, not at the situation he found himself in, but because of an oncoming sneeze. He turned his head so that Percy could see his face, screwed up as the sneezey sensation came over him. "huh-UHHSHHHH! Huh-IHkshhhhhhh!" he shook with sneezes.

 

     "Ohh!" Percy moaned in ecstasy. That was all it took for him to act. With the water as an aid, he held Oliver steady, then slid himself in. And from that moment of intense pleasure onwards, he knew nothing would be the same again.

 

* * *

 

     Though he still complained of feeling cold, and though he did still have a fever, Oliver had not shivered even once since getting dressed after the shower. He lay beneath the covers once more, in clean winter pajamas and two pairs of socks. Percy lay up against his back, spooning him, with arms around his body. "Feeling warmer?" he asked again. This time Oliver nodded. "Good. That's why I'm here, after all. To make you feel better."

 

     Oliver nodded again, though clearly his mind was not currently on his health. "I dow you dod't wadt to talk about it," Oliver said, softly and quickly before Percy could cut him off. "But, well..." he sighed. "I bead... Berce... you've dever... I bead..." and it was now Oliver's turn to blush brightly. "I'b always the tob, ared't I?" he finished. He sniffed hard and held a hand up to his mouth quickly. "hurShahhh! herChuhhhh!"

 

     Percy broke the hug to recover a fresh handkerchief and rub it against Percy's nose and wet hand. "Bless you," he replied. Then, after thinking a moment, answered with, "Unless something's going on like a raunchy twin I don't know about or me taking you while I'm asleep, yeah."

 

     Taking the handkerchief from Percy to rub his nose, then leaning back as Percy's arms wrapped back around him, Oliver laughed. "What I bead is... if you'd told be you wadted to, well, switch. I would have. If I'd dowd--"

 

     "You couldn't have known," Percy said quickly. For someone who didn't want to talk about it, he was certainly doing a lot of talking, and keeping Oliver form doing more. "I didn't know. Not until that moment in the shower, at least." He ran his hand down Oliver's back again, reminiscing. "I didn't hurt you did I?"

 

     Oliver laughed. "Aye, you did!" But he smiled pleasantly at the memory. "Add it was wonderful." He reached back and pulled Percy's arm back around him. Percy obliged with a tight, loving squeeze. "So you really get off od--"

 

     "Olly!" he hissed, burying his face into the back of Oliver's head and neck. "I can't explain!" Whether he wanted to or not, the truth was that he really couldn't explain. He knew of no words to describe how he felt about it. Intense, sensual pleasure coupled with undying sympathy. The desires to care for Oliver and to make love to him, and the guilt for finding Oliver's suffering so irresistibly sexy. "Our last year... after the Hufflepuff game..." Percy whispered, as though the thought had just popped into his head.

 

     Confused, Oliver rolled his eyes. "Are you tryig to debress be all over agaid?" That particular game had been a nightmare. It had marked the beginning of the Quidditch season, a season in which Wood had been determined to win the house cup for Gryffindor, no matter what. The rain and wind had been terrible, some of the worst Quidditch conditions Oliver could remember playing in. The team had been ready and determined, but no one had counted on Dementors coming to the match. Harry had been knocked off his broom and thrown to the ground, and Cedric Diggory had caught the snitch. He'd spent hours in the locker room showers afterwards, trying to use more water to block out the memory of it.

 

     "Not depress you," Percy said with a smile. "Only... do you remember what happened afterwards?" Percy caught a glimpse of Oliver's face from behind. "I mean, directly afterwards, that night." Oliver still looking confused, lost in thought. "You came down ill," Percy informed him, then buried his face in the back of Oliver's head again.

 

     "I remember," he said softly, starting to understand. "You wedt off that dight with Beddy, did't you?"

 

     Percy tried not to laugh at the way Oliver said his ex-girlfriend's name. "I did," he said. "But I wasn't thinking about Penny that night in bed as I... listened to you and... released some energy..."

 

     Oliver knew very well what that meant for a sixteen or seventeen year old boy, having been one himself not too long ago. He had never found himself imagining what Percy did in the privacy behind the hangings of his bed, and had certainly not thought that Percy had been thinking of him during those times. They had shared a dormitory together since their first night at Hogwarts, but it wasn't until they had left those hallowed halls of learning that they had formed a relationship strong enough to allow them to share a bed. And a bowl of soup. And a shower. And anything else that seemed appropriate.

 

     "I think that's when I started thinking about you a little more seriously," Percy admitted after a pause.

 

     Oliver yawned and made sure the blanket was pulled up high enough. "I'b glad you did," he replied. "Add dow you cad lie id bed with be add listed to be sdeeze, rather thad frob across the roob." He felt Percy get hard again against his rump as Percy leaned up against him from behind. He rolled over in bed to face Percy, still held in the man's arms. Then he reached down and cupped at Percy's crotch with one hand, identifying his pieces easily by touch and rubbing accordingly.

 

     But Oliver was exhausted, especially after the long shower session. He had no idea how Percy managed to be ridden for so long each time without passing out from the pain and stimulation. So before Oliver could do much of anything for Percy this time, he fell asleep in the man's arms, one hand at his nose to occasionally rub it, his other hand at Percy's crotch, occasionally rubbing it as well.

 

 

* * *

 

     "hurChuhhhh! hehChahhhh! hehShahhhh!" Percy was by his side, handkerchief in hand, in less than five seconds. By the time Oliver even rendered the fact that he'd woken up and felt sneezey, Percy was instructing him to blow his nose into the handkerchief. Oliver opened his eyes to see Percy looking calm and pushy at the same time.

 

     "I said, blow your nose," Percy insisted, and Oliver detected that hint of Percy sternness that reminded him much more of Prefect Percy than current Percy. Oliver did as he was told, then closed his eyes as he felt Percy's hand against his forehead again. "Your fever broke while you were sleeping," Percy told him, now stroking his forehead soothingly. "I was trying to cool you down with a washcloth, and after almost half an hour of trashing about, you went still again and you were so much cooler!" said Percy, sounding terribly relieved. "How do you feel?"

 

     Oliver paused a moment, checking himself out. "Better," he said slowly.

 

     "Not too cold or too hot? Not feeling sick to your stomach?" asked Percy. Oliver shook his head and Percy looked quite relieved. "Then how about I make you some dinner? You're going to need your strength to be at your best at the game tomorrow." Oliver hesitated, then nodded. Percy leaned over to give him a kiss before heading straight over to the kitchen. He returned not long thereafter with a tray containing two bowls of soup and a stack of toast. "Starting off slow so as not to upset your stomach," he explained.

 

     Oliver ate slowly, not sure he trusted himself not to get nauseous. But he did eat steadily, and finished all with no problem whatsoever. As Percy collected the empty bowls and plates, he asked if there were anything else Oliver wanted. Oliver only shrugged in a way that Percy knew meant that yes there was something else. Percy poked and prodded until Oliver gave in. "A bilkshake," he said finally. "If it's dot too buch trouble... and if we have the idgrediedts..."

 

     Percy smiled, reaching out to stroke Oliver's arm gently. "You're in luck. I'm the best milkshake maker in my whole family." Oliver wanted to follow Percy over to the kitchen this time, insisting he felt better and wanting to be near Percy, but Percy would have none of it and tucked the blankets around him. He did allow Oliver to sit up and snuggle into his arms as he drank the milkshake, however. Oliver nearly fell asleep in the middle of drinking it, but his sneezes did as much as anything else to keep him awake.

 

     Oliver frequently tried to give Percy warning when he was going to sneeze. "hurUhshhhh! UhhhShuhhhhh!" And Percy, who guiltily enjoyed being able to watch, always had a handkerchief ready for him afterwards.

 

     "Bless you," Percy whispered almost every time, and cuddled Oliver even closer with a tight squeeze or a tender kiss or both.

 

     "Berce?" he asked with a cough. "Do you really thik I'll be alright to blay toborrow?"

 

     Percy nodded. "A few hours ago when you still had that fever, I wouldn't have let you out of bed." He felt Oliver's forehead again, as though to make sure the man was indeed clear of the fever. "But I know you'll be just fine tomorrow. Don't you worry about it."

 

     He made to hug Oliver even closer, but the man went tense and pulled away suddenly to sneeze, "ehhChushhh! huhEhchhhhhh!"

 

     "Bless you," Percy called, handing over the handkerchief as Oliver sniffled wetly.

 

     "I did't, ub, sdeeze od you, did I?" he asked, rubbing his nose through the handkerchief.

 

     "Just a little," Percy said with a shrug. He kissed the top of Oliver's head and gave him a squeeze to let him know it wasn't something to worry about.

 

     Oliver coughed and smiled, turning his head awkwardly to look back at Percy. "Did't turd you od, did I?"

 

     "Just a little," he repeated. Percy blushed.

 

     "Ah," Oliver said with a nod, snuggling back against him comfortably. "I'll try to do better dext tibe thed."

 

     Percy shook with laughter. "You sick little scoundrel!"

 

     "Yeah, but I'b your sick little scoudrel."

 

     Percy ran his hand through Oliver's hair, then massaged the back of his neck gently as he whispered, "That's right. You are."

 

     Oliver tensed up again for more sneezes, which Percy made to cover with a handkerchief. But Oliver, mouth hanging open, body swaying with pre-sneeze breaths, held his hand down in favor of sneezing freely. Apparently he wished to make good on his promise to Percy. "huhKershhhhh! uhhhKushhhh! Hurshooo!" He sniffed wetly, trying to make it look as though those sneezes had made him especially weak. "Hold be?" he whispered, turning so the side of his head now lay against Percy's chest.

 

     "Merlin, Olly..." Percy gasped, wrapping his arms around the newly adjusted Oliver. "I can't help you to feel better if you kill me."

 

     Oliver chucked. "So that was better, I take it?" Percy nodded enthusiastically and rubbed his nose for him. Oliver, on the other hand, rubbed Percy's crotch to find the man already quite hard.

 

     With a deep sigh Percy fell back against the pillows, taking Oliver with him. "Delicious scoundrel..." Oliver hugged him tightly and, sniffling, began more rhythmic rubs. Percy pulled the blanket up over them both.

 

 

* * *

 

     "I'm telling you, you'll be fine," Percy said, pulling a sweater over Oliver's head and holding it out for him to push his arms through. It had taken nearly an hour to convince Oliver that he needed to stay warm while he was playing in the game that day. But Oliver also required quite a lot of reassuring.

 

     "But I'b still so stuffed ub," Oliver complained, leaning forward and resting his forehead on Percy's shoulder.

 

     Remembering how startled he had been just days ago when Oliver had done this exact thing, Percy had to smile. "You'll be fine, Olly. We'll have another cup of tea and bring a handkerchief along. But you haven't really sneezed all morning. I don't think you'll have any problems being distracted at the game."

 

     Oliver did not seem convinced, but remained silent as he was led to the table for some tea, which turned into three cups and a resulting to trips to the bathroom. He was so nervous he could barely swallow the last bit of tea, and Percy continually asking if he felt sick to his stomach didn't help much. "By stomach is fide," Oliver said for the umpteenth time that morning but he rubbed at his nose. Percy pulled a handkerchief from his own pocket and held it out to him, just as Oliver bent in half with a strong sneeze. "ehhHIHKshhhhhh!" He looked up, eyes wide with terror. "See?" he groaned, leaning back against the wall, hand to forehead. "I'b sick! Oh, they're goig to kill be!"

 

     "They are not, because you're not that bad off, Olly. That's your first sneeze in hours. Come game time you'll probably be fine." He forced the handkerchief into Oliver's hand.

 

     "Brobably?" exclaimed Oliver, looking panicked now. "Oh doe!"

 

     Percy gently pulled Oliver's hand from his forehead. "It'll be all right. You--"

 

     But Oliver was shaking his head. "Doe... I bave to... sd-sdeeze, ahh... 'gaid..." he took a deep breath, burying his nose in the handkerchief. "hurUhhphhhhh!" He groaned and rubbed at his nose which was getting very red at the end from so much attention.

 

     Percy sighed and rubbed his arm. "Bless you. Let's see what we can do about that congestion, hmm?" He suggested blowing his nose more, but Oliver complained that his nose hurt enough already. So he suggested holding his head over a bowl of steaming water, beneath a blanket, but Oliver shot that down as well. In the end, he resorted to a second morning shower and taking two handkerchief along with him to the stadium. He did not look at all convinced that he would be all right playing, and complained every time he needed to cough or sniffle.

 

     Once there, Percy kissed him for good luck and copped a feel to make him smile. Oliver blew his nose one last time, put on a brace face, and headed into the locker room. Percy took a seat in the home stands beside some of the other player's girlfriends and boyfriends. They were all looking just about as nervous as Percy felt. Morgan, a very pretty girl who was dating the team's best seeker, sat biting her fingernails and jiggling her leg up and down. Percy put an arm around her waist comfortingly and she leaned against his side. "Don't tell anyone," she whispered to him. "But Seth's been fighting a pretty bad cold. He just got better a few days ago and he wasn't sure he'd be able to play."

 

     The girl sitting in front of them turned around, looking up at them. "Did you say Seth was sick? Because so is Reggie. I spent the night holding his head over the toilet."

 

     Percy shuddered and made a note to thank Oliver again for his strong stomach.

 

     "Sounds like something's going around the team," said Bruce, who was dating one of the chasers. "Marietta's got the same thing. She's been sneezing non-stop for days."

 

     Percy, who had been concerned with Oliver's health and performance up to this moment, was now starting to have doubts about the team winning in such a condition as this. There was no doubting that Quidditch players were a tough breed, but with practically the whole team sick and Pride of Portree being a very good team... "I'm sure they'll be all right," Percy said, looking towards the lockers for any sign of their players. His statement was met by nods though it didn't seem too many people believed him. Which was fine because Percy wasn't sure he believed himself.

 

     There was a bagpiper flying through the small stadium, bellowing out the tune for "Scotland the Brave" appropriately as both the teams were Scottish. Percy hummed along, but found his mind straying over and over again to Oliver and how he might be feeling at that very moment. Morgan, whimpering, was apparently thinking similarly.

 

     The game commenced soon thereafter, which was good because Percy couldn't have handled another minute of Morgan squeezing his arm nervously. When the team came out, she squeaked, bit her lip, and clapped along with the rest of the crowd. Percy couldn't help but notice that most of the team was looking pale and ill. Davis, another chaser, kept rubbing his wrist under his nose and Reggie had an arm around his middle as though to calm his stomach. Percy made another mental note to try to avoid watching him throughout the game, just in case.

 

     On the other hand, the Prides looked strong and healthy, right down to the last player. The other team's keeper was Meaghan McCormack, whose mother had been on the team, and whose brother Percy knew was a guitarist for The Weird Sisters. Meaghan was a great player and talent ran in her blood. But she was no match for Percy, even if he did feel a bit under the weather.

 

     The referee's whistle blew, and they all took off into the air as streaks of navy blue and deep purple. Percy watched Oliver closely, seeing him speed off for the rings, hovering dead center and unmovable. Percy grinned as he saw Oliver's head turn down towards where he knew Percy was sitting. Oliver made a thumbs-up gesture to indicate he was doing all right, and then he turned his attention back to the game, which had gone straight down to the other end of the pitch immediately thanks to their fantastic chasers.

 

     To the crowd's disappointment and Percy's section's delight, the game was one of the quickest in the history of professional Quidditch. Oliver blocked three separate shots beautifully, having anticipated their moves and been ready for them. The other team's keeper let in one quaffle, making the score ten to zero in Puddlemere United's favor when the snitch was caught by Seth who had done a spectacular downward spiral. Morgan screamed with excitement and leapt to her feet an instant before Percy and the others who were likewise cheering madly. Morgan fainted with relief a second later, and Percy caught her, laughing as Seth took a victory lap around the stadium, holding the snitch up in his hand and coughing subtly into his other fist.

 

     Several other people helped Percy with Morgan, and she came around just as the teams retreated to their separate locker rooms. Percy was just as relieved as he followed the others off the bleachers. Unlike the other day's practice, Oliver was the first out of the locker room, and Percy caught him in a tight hug, kissing him hard on the lips, slipping him a bit of tongue as well. "You were brilliant, Love!" Percy exclaimed when he had pulled back.

 

     Oliver beamed. "Did you see that second save?" Of course Percy had. Oliver had nearly jumped right off his broomstick to block the quaffle from going into the left ring. He pushed it away, over the other chasers head to one of his own teams', then grabbed the end of his broom with one hand. He swung beneath it then pulled himself back up onto it once again with a fierce grin and another brief look towards Percy.

 

     "You scared me with that!" said Percy who still looked both happy and relieved. "But it was fantastic. I'm so proud of you, Olly."

 

     Oliver moved in for another hug, but instead quickly buried his head in Percy's shoulder and upper chest. "hurChuffff! herUhshfffff!" He sniffed hard and looked up, but no one seemed to have noticed his sneeze. On the contrary, half the team had already left and the other half was being comforted similarly by their mates. He smiled weakly. "I thik sobethig's goig aroud," Oliver said, rubbing at his nose. "Reggie's in there hugging a toilet."

 

     Percy shivered with revulsion, wishing Oliver had refrained from sharing that particular piece of evidence though there were no sounds from the locker room to indicate that Reggie was actually getting sick. But there was enough to prove Oliver's point already, what with Seth sneezing uncontrollably into the crook of his arm while Morgan patted his back. And Marietta coughing as Bruce forced her water bottle on her, warning her to sip slowly. And one of the beaters, Bailey, completely flushed with fever and leaning on the other beater for support as they left. "You're practically the healthiest here," said Percy softly. "I'm surprised you all haven't dropped dead after that match. But how about we skip the team celebration and get you back into bed? You've still got a practice tomorrow afternoon." Percy was glad for the excuse, though had a hunch that the practice would most likely be cancelled as so many of the players were sick.

 

     Oliver nodded in agreement, waved goodbye to those remaining, and let Percy take his hand to lead him out. "You just wadt to get be back idto bed add take advadtage of be," mused Oliver with a smile.

 

     "What better way to celebrate?" replied Percy, looking embarrassed, anxious, and excited all in one. "If you're a good boy, maybe I'll make you another milkshake afterwards."

 

     Oliver leaned over and kissed his cheek. "Sidce whed do I need idcedtive to bake love with you?"

 

     Percy shrugged. "Well, now that I've forced you to be the bottom..."

 

     Oliver turned and grabbed the front of Percy's jacket, tugging playfully. "Ohhh, force be agaid!" He put his hand to his forehead dramatically. "I'b sooo weak. Add I deed by boyfried to take care of be." It was the first time Oliver had used that word for Percy, and Percy felt himself going warm at the sound of it. There would be much to celebrate tonight.

 

     Percy laughed, but surprised them both by scooping Oliver up into his arms. The man was extremely heavy but Percy just barely managed, finding his strength somewhere. "I'm going to take care of you, take you to bed, and then take you for as long as you let me."

 

     "You brobise?" sniffled Oliver, trying to make himself look as helpless as possibly as he lay in Percy's arms.

 

     "I promise," Percy whispered back. They kissed, his lips lingering a moment against Oliver's. Then Percy grunted, pulled Oliver up a little to be sure he wouldn't slip, and they apparated back to Oliver's flat.