This is a little something that I wrote for a plot bunny challenge that I had forgotten. I hope you like this first chapter!
It was strange for a Gryffindor to have such a dark, green coloured scheme in a place of their own, but then Oliver was never a fan of sticking to traditions. It was darker still in this little flat, for he had only decided to light it with candles and oil lamps for the evening.
After all, the mentor that everyone had looked up to was gone. Dumbledore had fallen to the one man he had trusted with everyone’s safety, and even his own life. McGonagall had called to question whether or not Hogwarts would remain open for the next year. Those in open resistance to Voldemort’s tyranny were now targets, even in their deep grieving for their unofficial leader. Darkness was to be called for, after all of that. It was appropriate.
The knock on the door was not at all a surprise, Oliver knew exactly who was at his door at this late hour. The funeral had been… draining and motivating at once. He had wanted to sit down and drink himself into a stupor, smoke through a pack of cigarettes and try to block it out for a time, but he had also wanted to do what Dumbledore would have wanted them all to do. Dumbledore would have wanted them to put aside old prejudices and to bond together in his absence, just as he wished they would have in his life. So in effort to give tribute to his old mentor, Oliver had invited the half-shunned Percy Weasley over for a drink at his flat, for later that night.
When Oliver opened the door, he found a very awkward Percy leaning against his door frame, wrapped tightly in a deeply red cloak and looking for all the world as if he’d had the wind kicked out of him. He also seemed to be very wet.
“Hullo there, Percy… You’re a bit more watered down that I expected our drinks to be tonight,” Oliver greeted his guest.
“Hullo Wood. It’s raining. Pouring, really. It’s an absolutely torrential downpour. Appropriate, don’t you think, given the occasion?” Percy returned.
“Quite. Come in,” Oliver said, opening the door a bit wider. “Put your cloak over on the warmer, there really isn’t any hurry, is there?” he asked.
“I think I can safely say that tonight, I will neither be interrupted by work, nor suddenly inclined to rush away from an old friend and a few bottles of stiff liquor.” Percy responded.
The two exchanged the smallest of wry smiles, as it was well known that Percy was not only antisocial, but that it was not helped at all by constant owls from the Ministry because his bosses needed something from him.
Oliver gestured towards the table, on which rested two glasses, a small ice dispenser and one of several bottles of Ogden’s Finest Firewhiskey. They were both sorely in need of a very stiff drink and the sight of the bottle and glasses hurried them towards their seats.
For a few moments both just sipped at their drinks and became very interested in the crackling fire, without saying a word to one another.
“Do you remember what he said at the Feast at the beginning of term, your brother and Potter’s first year?” Oliver said, smiling fondly a little, at the memory.
“Everyone thought he was a few wands short of a store that night. The expressions on the first year’s faces were priceless. But I’d only just made prefect, and I couldn’t afford to be seen as anything other than a leader figure! Or so I thought.” Percy recalled, smiling as well.
“Eh. You were certainly a bit of a pompous arse those last few years, but I think I managed to keep clear of the brunt of it. You were always scribbling on something though. Not your notes, or homework or anything of that sort, it looked like you were writing an endless amount of letters, but never sending them. Either way, it kept you distracted enough for me to scrape by.” Oliver smirked at his companion.
“It was something like that. I had a little book that I wrote letters to people in that said exactly what I wanted to say to them. Things I couldn’t say, in my position. Dumbledore actually saw it once or twice during Head’s meetings. I always wondered why he didn’t take away my place.” Percy said.
“Dumbledore liked people to have a bit of rebel in them, else I would have been kicked out years ago, Percy. Merlin…” Oliver trailed off without finishing.
“Merlin what, Wood?” Percy asked.
“It’s just something I’ve been thinking since I heard the news last night… About him being gone… about Snape…” Oliver said.
“I’d heard something about an Unbreakable Vow he made. But really, he should have died rather than betray Dumbledore,” Percy responded.
“That’s just it, though. I don’t think… Albus Dumbledore was not a stupid wizard, Perc. He wasn’t weak or mad or witless or even impulsive. And he was always the best judge of character of any of us. I just don’t think he would have fallen for an act. Do you think that maybe…” Oliver trailed off again, looking at Percy.
“That maybe Snape isn’t evil? Dumbledore wasn’t wrong? Even the most careful men are fallible, Oliver. How could he not be wrong?” Percy asked.
“I dunno… but did you catch a glimpse of Dumbledore this year? His hand was black and shrivelled a bit and he seemed… weaker. As if he didn’t have much time left as it were,” Oliver said.
“You think that maybe he had asked Snape to finish him off? That’s next to impossible.” Percy said.
“Maybe,” Oliver returned.
Percy and Oliver both lapsed back into silence for a while, finishing their third, forth and fifth drinks each. Percy went to reach for the bottle to pour himself another and realised they had finished the whole draught.
“Oh.” Oliver said, and he went to rise.
Both men had headed for the bottles on the island at the same moment and proceeded to crash into one another with much flailing of limbs and tripping and landing awkwardly atop one another’s legs.
Oliver looked at Percy, only to find shocked eyes looking back at him, and then he fell back against his carpet laughing hopelessly. A moment later, Percy began to chuckle as well, surveying the disaster of their tangled limbs.
After a moment of this, Oliver finally managed to untangle his limbs and none too gracefully climb to his feet. Upright again, he offered his hand to Percy, who accepted it, still chuckling to himself.
“I think I’ll grab two bottles, just so we don’t fall all over ourselves again, eh?” Oliver smirked at Percy as he placed the Firewhiskey on the coffee table, instead of his breakfast table as before. Percy was still smiling as Oliver went back to the table and grabbed their glasses and ice, placing them on the coffee table in the next room as well.
When Percy had recovered himself, finally, and joined Oliver in the common area of the flat, Oliver was seated in one corner of an overstuffed couch, and well into his sixth drink when his old friend sat down and poured his own.
“Maybe Snape was just fulfilling a promise to Dumbledore. It isn’t like he’d be the first person to make an ill-decided promise to the Headmaster,” Percy said.
Oliver nodded and sipped his drink. Then, after a moment, he asked, “Where does Penny think you are tonight, Perc?”
Percy hesitated for a moment before he answered, “She won’t be missing me. After all the owls from the Ministry and my general lack of time for her, she decided she needed to find someone who was more available to her. We haven’t been seeing each other since about the middle of November.” He gulped the rest of his drink down, and poured himself another upon finishing the statement.
“Is she really something to rush fine whiskey over, Weasley?” Oliver inquired.
Percy glanced up from his glass to say, “If it were over her, I would say no. There are other people in the world. However… most will want the same as she did: more of my time, more of my attention. The things I can’t give are the things I need to.”
Oliver paused to consider this for a moment, “I see what you mean. My life is much the same. Or rather, it was.”
Percy glanced sharply at Oliver over the last sentence.
“There doesn’t seem to be much point in playing Quidditch every day that I’m not home when there’s a war on, does there? I’ve decided to resign, at least for a time, and put my talents to better use elsewhere for a while,” Oliver said.
“Someone said something to me a long time ago that I completely ignored, Wood, and now I regret it. ‘Never lose your childish enthusiasm, and you’ll find what you need,’ she said. I didn’t listen. Now I wish I had,” Percy told him.
Oliver suddenly became very interested in his firewhiskey. Finally, he broke the silence by admitting, “My childish enthusiasm is just directed towards different things now, Perc. I’ve lost interest in the sport, and while I do want to pursue something else, I also think I should be less than useless before I do it. Or even while I do it.”
Percy nodded in understanding, and both drank in silence for some time after.
“Say, Oliver?” Percy said.
“Yes, Perc?” Oliver returned.
Percy was hesitating to say something for several minutes.