The fifth part (and still not done, though it was supposed to be.)
Percy had smoked through an entire pack of cigarettes and started on another before he stopped being furious. He was still angry, but at least now he was not taking it out on the bar anymore. The bartender was very pleased about that, at least.
‘Everything was good! …Okay everything wasn’t good. At all. But it was reasonably in order, and fairly calm. I was resigned to leaving my inclinations alone for now, and the secret was safe. I’d nearly forgotten about even making an attempt at having a normal relationship. Why the bloody hell did Oliver have to come along and ruin it all? As if it could ever be possible for things to be open. And the night was going along fine. We were drinking, we were smoking, we were eating, we were talking and grieving for our mentor, and it was all perfectly fine, before he forced it out of me. And then of course there’s all that rubbish about how he felt in school, and having a thing for male redheads “with a bit of height to them”. He had to emphasise that, and show how badly things are beginning to go for me. Why couldn’t he just leave it alone?’ Percy was ranting to himself as he chain-smoked.
He had forgotten that he was in a Muggle bar. A Muggle bar in which someone was obviously having a horrible night, because they had put a seemingly endless amount of quarters into the jukebox for one song: Savage Garden’s Gunning Down Romance. ‘It really isn’t a bad song, actually. …In fact, it’s rather good, if you happen to be in a very angry, depressive mood. …On second thought, this song might be perfect for me,’ Percy thought sourly.
Apparently, though, the person who had started up the jukebox hadn’t put all the quarters on that song, but merely very much enjoyed Savage Garden in general. Percy lapsed back into his internal monologue without wasting any time identifying this new song, ‘Why is it so important that I see things the way he so clearly sees them? He’s such an infuriating prat, no wonder I haven’t made time to go see him the last few times he’s been in town.’ But a nagging little voice told him that he knew very well that that was by no means the reason that he had not gone to see Oliver Wood when he came home in-between Quidditch matches elsewhere. He hadn’t gone because he knew that it would be all too easy for his oldest friend to figure out what was troubling him. Oliver knew him too well, and his deepest, most guarded secrets were like child’s play for Oliver to figure out and extract from him without any effort beyond the lifting of a finger.
Percy was now chiding the inner voice that served as what was left of his conscience. ‘I don’t see why that’s relevant. That’s only more reason not to see him. He knows too much, and he sees right through me. It’s like trying to teach a pig to sing. It only wastes my time, annoys the pig, and provides absolutely no useful result.’ But his conscience wasn’t giving up that easily, ‘You’re sitting in a bar. Smoking as if your cigarettes were suddenly going to completely disappear if you don’t. Ranting and raving about the fact that your best friend, and indeed, the only friend that will still speak to you, had the nerve to try and get you to see the light of reason on what you are hiding from everyone and denying yourself of. And you are about to burn yourself.’
Percy quickly lit the cigarette in his mouth, before the flame on his lighter managed to burn him. ‘I don’t see the point of trying to live the way that I want to. It will only ruin what is left of my life. Not that there is that much left of it to speak of in the first place, but really. Who is counting?’
The fact that he was quite literally having a conversation with himself had not escaped him, but either way, he didn’t much care. His conscience piped up again, ‘Fine, your life is a wreck, your family is a disaster, your friends won’t speak to you, and the only thing that you did all of this for is your job, which you don’t even like all that much any longer. Yet, the one friend who is still speaking to you invites you over and ends up trying to make you see sense, and you attempt to alienate him, as well. Are you trying to become a priest, or is self denial just fun for you? Because you’re acting like a first class prick.’ It was kind of sad that his own mind was ripping Percy to shreds at this point, but it wasn’t really much different from his whole life anymore, so that was to be expected. There was only one thing left to say, really. ‘But what do I know? I’m just a little voice in your head. But at least I’ve not managed to get into an argument with myself in the middle of a bar and then lose.’
Sadly, his conscience was right. He had just managed to get into a fight with himself and lose. Percy kept smoking his cigarette, thinking about how the whole night had gone up to this point.
Actually, it had been going rather nicely. The drinks and the cigarettes and the talking were exactly what he had needed in order to feel like a person again, instead of just an invisible helper deemed only mildly better than a house-elf. The food had been great too. He still had his share, of course, but eating in a bar didn’t appeal to him at all. Oliver’s flat had been the ideal environment for his one evening away from work and dull existence.
Perhaps his friend was truly trying to help him after all, rather than push him into doing things that would ruin his life further. And then there was that bit Oliver had said midway into the night…”I’ve always been content to let you take the lead,” he’d said. What did that even mean?
He thought back to the collapse of limbs on the floor, while trying to get to the Firewhiskey, and the easy conversation that had gone on up until Oliver’s speech. Then the cloak that he had left there. It was the only one he had at the moment. Perhaps he would go and retrieve it, and find out what Oliver had meant by that while he was there.
That seemed like a very good idea, which is how Percy ended up all the way back at the door to Oliver’s flat at midnight that night, and knocked.