Percy is studying.
Well, trying to, anyway. It would be a lot easier if the common room was quieter. Mainly, if Oliver Wood would stop blasting Quidditch commentary at top volume.
"And the Kestrels seeker is in pursuit of the Snitch. Merlin, look at her fly, folks! Tearing down the pitch, isn't she…" Oliver's little radio is turned up as loud as it can go, the tinny voice interspersed with little bursts of static. Around the device, the Gryffindor Quidditch team has gathered in a little huddle, its Captain, Oliver Wood, standing on the table next to it.
"There's no chance for the other team now, no sir… She's reaching for it, folks, it's only a moment now until- THERE WE HAVE IT! Kestrels win the match 320 to 130!"
At this, the team erupts into shouts, with Oliver jumping up and down on the table like a maniac.
"That's what I'm talking about! Best there is, the Kestrels, I'm telling you," Oliver shouts, pumping his fists in the air jubilantly.
Percy glares at his textbook, staring at it so intently he wonders if his gaze might burn a hole straight through the pages. This is why he should've been in Ravenclaw. He's certain that in that house, at least, they understand the importance of shutting up when others are trying to study.
"We're practicing tomorrow at seven!" Oliver calls out, and a chorus of disappointed groans echo from the Quidditch team. "Hey, hey, none of that! I don't know about you all, but I want to be recruited, and if we continue on playing the way we have been we'll never make it on any of the top teams."
"Come on, Oliver." It's Fred who speaks his dissent, his loud voice making Percy dig his nails into the wood of the table, ignoring the splinters that bury themselves into his skin. Of course his brother is involved in this disturbance of the peace.
"It's already one in the morning, mate. There's no way I'm going to be able to play Quidditch in six hours." George, this time, somehow even louder than Fred had been.
"Stop complaining! If you keep up your whining I'll- Hey, I love this song!" Oliver suddenly stops mid-tirade to turn up the little radio until it's reached a piercing level, booming through the common room like they're at some kind of garish live concert.
Then, the unthinkable happens.
Percy considers himself a reasonable man, a man who is fairly adept at ignoring distractions. One has to be, anyway, growing up in the Weasley household. But even this fact of life cannot save his poor nerves from absolutely shattering when Oliver Wood starts- of all things -singing.
"When I was down, I was your clown! Right from the start, I gave you my heart!" The lyrics come out in an awful half-yell, half-screech, and it makes Percy want to tear out his ears and never hear anything ever again. "Don't go breaking my heart! Don't go breaking my, don't go breaking my, don't go-"
"For the love of all that is holy, Oliver Wood, SHUT UP!"
Every face in the common room swivels to Percy, who has climbed onto his own table, now on the same level as the gangly Oliver.
"What was that?" Oliver shuts off the radio, staring at Percy like he's a creature from outer space. "I hope you didn't just say what I thought you said."
"Oh, I certainly did." Percy glares at the Quidditch captain, fire coursing through his veins. They look ridiculous, the two of them perched up high on those teetering tables, but Percy is long past caring about petty things like that. "In case you've forgotten, I'm Head Boy, Wood, and this level of volume should not and will not be tolerated this late at night. I'd hate to have to go to Dumbledore at this hour."
"Yeah, I'm sure you'd just hate that, Percy." Oliver folds his arms. "Don't play the victim here. We all know talking to Dumbledore is your favorite pastime. Do the two of you go out for lunch and talk about all the nasty little rule-breakers in the Gryffindor House?" The crowd around the two of them slowly begins to disperse, Gryffindors retreating back to their rooms so as not to interfere with the full-out battle that's going on atop the tables.
"At least I don't make a habit out of being a disturbance," Percy shouts, and the irony of yelling this statement is not lost on him.
"No, but you do make a habit of being a stuck-up pain in the arse!" Oliver's words land just where he undoubtedly wanted them to, and Percy's frown deepens, something inside him twisting. The rage of before is gone, replaced with a kind of painful regret, and he hates the way it feels like it's choking him.
"Just stop the shouting. That's all I wanted." Percy steps off of the table and stalks off to the dormitory staircase, ignoring the way Oliver's glare melts into a pitiful look of concern. "Do this again and I will go to the Headmaster."
"Perce, wait." He can hear Oliver clatter off of the table, his boots landing on the carpet with a dull thud. "C'mon, I didn't really mean it like that! I just- you're always going on about the rules, and I think you should really let some of that go for once!"
Percy doesn't even look at him as he ascends the staircase, shaking his head slightly as if to clear it. Is he a stuck-up pain in the arse? He doesn't know. Everyone certainly seems to think so. But if he's a pain, than Oliver is a heart attack. That boy is coarse, unrefined, and everything that's wrong with Gryffindor house. Right?
He climbs into bed fully-clothed and stares at the ceiling. It takes him two full hours to fall asleep.
The next day, Percy is thirty minutes late to Potions, and it feels like the end of the world. When he slams open the door to the dungeon classroom, he feels the attention of every student in the class swivel towards him, and although he normally loves to have all eyes on him, this particular instance is far from pleasant.
"Pr-Professor Snape! My weekly Head Boy meeting with Professor Dumbledore ran late, sir, I'm terribly sorry for the intrusion-"
"Stop the rambling, Weasley, I don't have the time nor will to listen to your excuses." Snape looks at Percy like he's an insect, toying with the long sleeve of his robe calculatingly. "Why are we standing by the entrance? There is an empty seat next to Mr. Wood." He points to a corner of the room, and Percy's heart drops to his shoes. Not him again.
"Of course, sir! My apologies, I will remind Professor Dumbledore to be more punctual next time." Percy rushes to the table and throws his books down on the tabletop, refusing to make eye contact with Oliver as he does so. Snape watches him with a bitter intensity until he takes his seat, and Percy slides his chair as far away from Oliver as possible.
"Wow. The Head Boy, late to class." Oliver shakes his head in mock disappointment once Snape returns to the lesson, his words a low whisper. "What kind of example are you setting for the rest of us?"
"Shut. Up." Percy doesn't take his gaze off Snape, but he glares anyway, spitting out his words through gritted teeth. This boy doesn't know when to quit. "We are in class, in case you hadn't noticed."
"He's already been lecturing for half an hour, Perce. There's only so much in-depth examination of bezoars I can stand." Oliver groans, propping his chin up on his hand, and Percy wonders how someone can have so little regard for learning. "And I've been wanting to talk to you."
"Now is hardly the time nor place-"
"Mr. Weasley." Snape's voice shoots through the classroom like an arrow that buries itself into Percy's very skull, and he pales immediately. "You arrive thirty minutes late, disrupt my lesson, and now you are too busy having a conversation to pay attention to a lecture you are already behind on?" Snape glares at him, a fire in his gaze that makes Percy feel sick to his stomach. "Five points from Gryffindor."
Five points from Gryffindor. Five. Points. From. Gryffindor. Percy thinks he might break down in tears. The Head Boy is supposed to take points from others, not lose them himself.
"But, sir, it was-" Percy sighs. It's not worth it. "I'm sorry, sir."
"Do not let me catch you talking in my class again." Snape turns back to the lesson, shooting Percy one last acidic sneer.
"Damn it, Perce, I'm sorry," Oliver whispers, a mere second after Snape turns his back, and Percy feels his shame melt into anger beneath his skin. The audacity of this boy. Percy is going to… No. Percy is going to be quiet, because he can't afford to lose any more points. "Hey. That was my fault. I'm really sorry you got in trouble."
Percy ignores Oliver, even though every cell in his body is itching to scream at him at the top of his lungs.
"Look, what I wanted to talk to you about was-"
"I don't think you're a stuck-up pain in the arse. That was too far, and I'm sorry."
Too far? Now this surprises Percy. Oliver Wood has been too far for all the time Percy has known him and has never once apologized for it.
"I know I annoy you, Perce. We were friends, once, remember? In first-year? Well, I... I miss it. I miss being your friend." Oliver sighs. "I miss studying with you and eating lunch together, and I know I ruined it by joining the Quidditch team and making that my whole life instead of you, who I already had, and I know you probably hate me because of it, but I want to fix it."
It's true. They were friends, once, but it's been a while since they've been anything even close to that. Oliver chose the Quidditch team and Percy chose being a prefect and it created a wedge that drove them apart. Does Percy really hate him because of that? He isn't sure. It did… hurt, when Oliver changed. When Oliver forgot about him.
"Truth is, you're not like you used to be, and I doubt I am, either." Oliver's words are barely anything more than a breath, but Percy hears them. "But it doesn't change the fact that I miss having you around. I have for a while."
He misses Percy? This is all too much. Percy doesn't respond.
"Maybe if you bent a few rules and I stopped breaking them in the name of Quidditch, we might have a better shot." Oliver sighs, and Percy frowns at the words. Why is he suddenly acting like this? Acting so… nice, so unsure? It's unnerving. "Anyway, I'll stop bothering you. Just thought I'd put it out there."
I miss being your friend. Percy misses it, too, but he's not the one who's changed. Oliver is. He's boorish and loud and completely mad for Quidditch. Percy hates him. Doesn't he?
They don't speak for the rest of the lesson, thank Merlin, but Percy turns Oliver's words over and over again in his mind instead of paying attention to the lecture. Maybe if you bent a few rules and I stopped breaking them in the name of Quidditch, we might have a better shot.
Do they have a shot? Percy isn't so sure, but he can't help but want to. He wants to be Oliver's friend again.
When Snape finally dismisses the class and ends the bezoar torture, Percy hangs back, gently grabbing Oliver's elbow.
"You really think- you really think we have a shot?" The words come out too tentative, but the wide grin that spreads across Oliver's face makes something shift in Percy's chest. "I don't hate you Oliver, I just… We're just very different."
"Different is good, sometimes." Oliver shrugs, slinging his bookbag over his shoulder. "I have to head to practice, but- lunch, tomorrow? At Hogsmeade? We could talk about whatever you want."
"No Quidditch," Percy says immediately, and Oliver laughs.
"Whatever you say, Perce!" He gives him a quick salute and tears out of the classroom, nearly tripping over his own two feet, and Percy feels himself actually smile.
A week ago- no, even yesterday, Percy would have told him off for running in the halls, but now… Are they really going to be friends again? It makes no sense. Just yesterday, it was like he was a different man, and now… he's sort of kind? Sort of sweet? It makes Percy's head spin, but not in an entirely bad way.
They go to lunch on Saturday, and Sunday, and Monday, and for the next week they sit together in the Great Hall, too. Oliver is still callous and loud, yes, but there's something else there, something more gentle and easy-going. Percy is certain that it wasn't there before, even back when they were friends in their first-year.
And, against his will, Percy… likes it. He likes this new something in Oliver.
Percy is studying.
Or, trying to, anyway. It would be a lot easier if the common room was quieter. Mainly, if Oliver Wood would stop sitting next to him, making little remarks of "oh, this looks tricky" and "hey, that diagram kind of looks like a Quidditch hoop".
He's just been sitting there, "studying" with Percy for the past hour, and Percy hasn't known what to do with him, or what to say, or how to act when Oliver is just sitting there in front him.
"...and then I told him, I said, 'If you want to play Quidditch, you're going to have to learn how to throw a Quaffle. It's non-negotiable.'" Oliver is recounting some long, winding story about something Quidditch-related, and Percy is trying his best not to listen. "You would've hated this guy, Perce, he was a complete rule-breaker. No respect for the sacred rulebook of Quidditch."
"That so?" Percy bites the tip of his quill, flipping through the pages of his textbook and not absorbing any of the information. So much for studying. He closes the book and looks up at Oliver, who is arranging Percy's ink bottles into a little tower. "What are you doing here, anyway?"
"Making a castle," Oliver says, as if this explains everything. "Why do you have so many ink thingys?"
"That's not what I meant."
"I'm here to help you study. Because last time I was a disturbance, remember?" Oliver looks up from the ink bottles and smiles at him, all white teeth and freckles that for some reason make Percy's heart flutter. Wait. What? "I also got you in trouble back in Potions, so this is my penance."
"Well, consider your debt paid," Percy says, desperate to end this conversation. That can't have been butterflies in his stomach. There's no way Chief Disturbance Oliver Wood would give him butterflies. "You still manage to disturb me even when you're not trying to."
"Aw, c'mon, Perce." Oliver lays his head- actually lays his head -on the table, looking up at him through auburn lashes. "Am I really that much of a disturbance?"
"Y-Yes." Percy turns away to hide the blush that's undoubtedly spreading across his face. "I'm very busy, Oliver, and I need my ink bottles. If you wouldn't mind-" He reaches out with shaking fingers and tries to grab a bottle from the top of Oliver's tower, but he accidentally sends the whole thing crashing down, ink bottles rolling away in all directions and toppling off the table.
"I got it!" Oliver darts down and snatches the retreating bottles, pushing them towards the center of the table. "Sorry, sorry. Am I being too distracting?"
Yes. "No. I just study best alone." Percy goes to open the textbook but then stops, turning back to Oliver. "What's going on here, Oliver? Why are you acting like this?"
"Acting like what?" Oliver raises an eyebrow. "Being nice to you?"
"Yes, you're- You're being nice, relatively quiet, and you haven't talked about Quidditch in-" Percy makes a show of checking his watch. "Six minutes. That's got to be a new record."
"And you haven't yelled at me in ten." Oliver grins at him and leans back in his chair, putting his hands behind his head. "Maybe we've both decided to grow up a little."
"But why? Why are you suddenly trying to be my friend?" Percy shakes his head. He doesn't understand this, this sudden change, this sudden something that so clearly wasn't there before. "Why are you so different?"
"'Cause I've always liked you, Perce. Even when we hated each other, I liked you." Oliver says the words so matter-of-factly that Percy almost misses their meaning, and his eyes widen at the declaration.
"You liked me?"
"'Course I did." Oliver smiles. "There's something kind of cute about the way you're so hell-bent on following the rules."
Percy is fairly certain the world is going to crash down around him. Oliver Wood liking him? That is… unbelievable.
"Look, I just don't want to fight you anymore, okay? Some people are worth changing for." Oliver stands from the table, twirling an ink bottle in between his fingers. "See you tomorrow, Perce. This was fun."
Percy watches, jaw dropped, as Oliver heads up the Gryffindor stairs, waving to his teammates as he passes, his heart going a mile a minute.
This is… this is un-processable. There really is something in that boy Percy didn't see, and it makes him both excited and scared at the very same time.
What just happened?