Oliver started with just a simple question, “Why would you believe that I would lie to you about something like that, Perc? When have I ever lied about something important?” he asked.
Percy just shook his head. He couldn’t form the words properly to establish what he had been fearing for six months previous to this meeting. At last he managed to force out, “I’ve had to keep it quiet. Anyone could tell the Ministry, and then I wouldn’t have a job or privacy or any of my friends. No one I’ve talked to has been accepting, and they had to be threatened in order to keep them quiet. I suppose I just assumed that you would be the same.”
Oliver closed his eyes and shook his head. Then he returned, “I can see that this is going to be very difficult to make you understand, much less believe.”
Percy shrugged, but had no response for that.
Oliver pointed back over his shoulder, asking, “You see that team photo on the mantle?”
“The man on the far left, second row. Ginger-ish hair, fairly tall, sort of smirking at the camera?” Oliver wanted to make sure that Percy understood.
His companion nodded again. Clearly, he was dealing with a mute.
“I guess it would have been about… oh… two months after I joined the team, we started to become lovers. It only lasted about a month after that, but it would appear that, specifically, I have a thing for redheads. Male redheads who have a bit of height to them,” he emphasised.
Percy gulped. “Please stop,” he intoned.
Oliver shook his head, “I’m not finished yet, Perc, calm down. Have a drink, light a cigarette, and relax. We may yet be here for a while,” he said, moving around to pour the other man a drink.
“Now, when I’m done, you can leave. You can run away screaming, never look back, never speak to me again if you do not want to. I’ll never breathe a word of it to anyone if that is the way you want it. You can turn your back on me, if that is what you truly wish to do, but for now you are going to listen to what I have to say. Is that clear, or do I need to use small, clear words so that you can comprehend through your… apparent shock?” Oliver taunted.
“As long as there’s an exit clause in this contract,” Percy replied snarkily.
Oliver grinned before continuing his speech, “Well, well. At least you are well enough to make jokes now. I rather thought that you might just pass out at any moment. You do have a very weak heart, for a wizard, Perc,” Oliver paused to make absolutely sure that this was taken as the light-hearted teasing that he meant for it to be, before he carried on, “Now, I did have a thing for you at Hogwarts. For all of our sixth and seventh years, and half of our fifth, to be exact. I spent a lot of time hiding it from you. As well as more time on the Quidditch pitch, practicing. than was actually necessary. I stayed awake with you at night for months on end, despite being exhausted…And then finally, I just forced myself to ignore it. Penny’s constant, never ceasing presence helped. But it never went away, Perc. And it’s not some horrible secret that is going to be the end of anyone’s career or the cause of their losing all their friends. If you want to see men, then see men. Don’t hide behind being too busy at work, and don’t use your work to ignore it, and don’t avoid your friends in order to block it out and hide it from them. It isn’t fair to the people who know you to not really know you, and it isn’t fair to do it to yourself either. Trust me, I learned it the hard way. It’s not like you make some kind of announcement, you just go about your life with whomever you want the same way you would had nothing changed.”
Oliver stopped talking for a moment because he realised that he was becoming far too involved in this, and far too passionate about the subject. He took a breath, and then, “All I’m saying is that you are making your life far more difficult than any of it needs to be. Your internal conflict is hurting my external observations. It’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion, Perc. Don’t do it to any of your friends and don’t do it to yourself. It’s not fair to anyone involved,” he finished.
Oliver threw himself into the corner of his couch, lit a cigarette, and did not say another word.
Percy very slowly came out of his shocked stupor and got up. He turned to Oliver and said, “Goodbye, Wood.” Then he gathered his things again, and this time actually made it out of Oliver’s front door.
He found himself wandering around the streets outside Oliver’s flat, having shrunk all of his things into a size that now fit into the pocket of his trousers, as he was only now realising that he had left his cloak on the heater inside. But damned if he were going back in that place anytime soon.
Percy lit a cigarette and wandered over to the pub down the street. He didn’t bother to order a drink, clearly he was already more foxed than was really advisable. He merely sat at the bar and smoked.
Oliver stood in the doorway from his lounge into his kitchen and stared at his front door. He was going to regret that speech, he was realising now. He knew that he had just lost a friend for a long time. As he turned to go back into his lounge and drink himself into a stupor, as had been the original plan, he saw Percy’s deep crimson cloak still sitting on the heater where it had been left. His friend had been so upset that he had left without it and would probably be too angry to come back to retrieve it. He sat on his couch, shot his whiskey all at once, and put his head in his hands.