Alcohol and the late hour had begun to dull the senses of both men. It was strange how they were both barely adults, but at this moment, in the shadow of mourning for their teacher, they looked so very old.
Percy was still hesitating, fidgeting and glancing from Oliver to the window every few seconds, as he had been for the last ten minutes. Finally, he pulled a cigarette out of the pack he’d been keeping in his pocket and asked, “Do you mind if I have a smoke, Ol?”
“Go ahead, I was going to have a couple myself. Ashtray’s on the end table.” Oliver replied, sitting up.
Having appropriated the ashtray to the coffee table, both men lit their cigarettes and then slowly exhaled. All of the tension seemed to leave the room, or at least lesson considerably. Percy had always liked to watch other people smoke, there was a sense of calm around it. It revealed a lot about a person without asking much.
Percy started chuckling softly, “It’s like we’re third years behind the Quidditch shed again, bloody hell…” he said.
“At least now we don’t have to worry about Snape or Filch…. or worse, McGonagall sneaking up to chastise us for having a smoke,” Oliver replied.
“Oh, you never know, one of our old teachers could decide to visit you and burst through the door at any moment to admonish us for smoking these frivolous things! Not as if they hurt Wizards at all anyway,” Percy continued, still chuckling.
“But Perc, we were not using our time on an activity that they approved of!” Oliver began to chuckle too.
“Oh of course,” Percy started to say, when there was a knock on the door, “Maybe I shouldn’t have doubted their ability to know that we were having a smoke.”
“Maybe not,” Oliver returned.
“I’ll get the door, then,” Percy said, rising.
“I’ll go with you, so we don’t confuse anyone,” Oliver replied, rising also.
Still carrying their cigarettes, they went to the door, just as the knock sounded again. Percy opened the door with Oliver behind him, only to reveal another old friend behind it.
“Oh, hullo, Lee, I almost forgot!” Oliver rushed to the closet across from the front door, retrieved a brown paper package and handed it over to Lee.
“Thanks, Wood. See you next Thursday?” Lee asked.
“Of course, Lee,” Oliver replied and closed the door, wandering back into his lounging room.
Percy followed him back and asked, “What was all that?” as he reclaimed his seat on the couch.
“A bunch of people from our year get together every other Thursday. Sort of a smaller version of the Order,” Oliver replied, “This will be the first time that I’m going,” he finished.
“Ah. Want company?” Percy asked, taking a drag from his second cigarette.
“I thought I had company right now, actually. But I wouldn’t mind if you tagged along, no,” Oliver teased.
There was a silence for a few more moments, while they enjoyed their drinks and smoked a little more.
“What were you about to tell me, a little while ago, Perc?” Oliver asked.
Percy tensed just a bit, and took a drag from his cigarette, “My roommate is sleeping, and he won’t appreciate me coming home foxed at four in the morning, which is where this is headed.” he answered.
“Oh… I get it. He’s about as much of a prick as you’ve been?” Oliver attempted a joke about it.
“I could take lessons,” Percy replied.
“Just relax, drink up, and don’t worry about it,” Oliver suggested.
For a while they talked over their memories of Hogwarts and Dumbledore, and what would happen next. Then it became worry over their families and a mention of Oliver’s younger brother and sister, Jordan and Sonja. Finally the two just decided to stop talking about the depressing things that were so stressful, and put on a record so they could drink and smoke themselves into a stupor.
“You listen to Muggle records, Ol?” Percy asked, a little surprised.
“I think that it shows better artistry than our music does. They put more work into it, you know? Any wizard can bewitch instruments to play along with them while they sing, but these artists actually put together a band, or play themselves.”
“I think you’re right,” Percy admitted.
They listened through REO Speedwagon’s Keep Pushin’ and then Building The Bridge in relative peace.
A few songs later they had both decided it was time to go for coffee and food.
Tucking their cigarettes into pockets, Oliver clamped a hand on Percy’s arm and Apparated to Olivia’s.
“What is this place, Wood?” Percy asked, after they sat down.
“The best little take-away place in our world. Any kind of coffee you can think of, along with endless amounts of different kinds of food. Chinese being my personal preference. Any objections to that?” Oliver asked.
“None at all, it sounds great.” Percy replied.
They ordered far too much food; fried dumplings, sweet and sour chicken with the sauce on the side, two separate types of rice, some kind of shrimp and pasta, black pepper potatoes, chicken eggrolls and regular eggrolls, shrimp on its own, scallops, three orders of homemade fortune cookies, egg noodles, and three large boxes each of French fries and tator tots. Then they made sure they had two white chocolate mochas apiece and took all the food back to Oliver’s place.
“I think we may have out-ordered ourselves, Ol,” said Percy
“Nah, we’ll just pretend that we’re still growing Hogwarts students. Dumbledore was always big on everyone eating as much as they could take,” Oliver grinned.
“I can’t remember the last time I got to smoke and drink while I ate, much less the last time I had time to eat this much,” Percy said, between doing all three.
“Oliver Wood: Professional Force-feeder,” said Oliver with a grin.
“Surely not as bad as that time that you charmed your door, your quill and your broomstick to say ‘I can only please one person each day. Today is not your turn. …Tomorrow is not looking good either.’ if you tapped it, whenever someone annoyed you. At least not yet,” Percy was finally teasing back.
“People ask too many questions. Specifically, the same questions. Repeatedly. I don’t like repeating myself, you know,” Oliver responded, but he was still grinning around his food.
“Sorry, what did you say, Ol? I couldn’t quite hear you,” Percy smirked.
“I’m going to choose to ignore you. Hey, did you know that people have been saying that they’ve been seeing you around London’s more… quiet restaurants without anyone? There’s talk that you’ve stopped seeing women,” Oliver looked at Percy quizzically.
Percy hesitated. Then he tried to casually say, “Oh? I hadn’t noticed. I have been having dinner and supper with my business contacts frequently, lately. I don’t suppose any of them are women.”
Oliver nodded, but privately he was thinking, ‘Well, that confirms my suspicions.’
Percy lit a cigarette and Oliver followed suit, neither saying a word for a while.
Halfway through his smoke, Percy asked, “Have you noticed that most of this evening has been a series of long awkward silences and hesitation?”
“Mmmhmm,” Oliver mumbled through the smoke he exhaled.
“You don’t mind? It doesn’t bother you?” Percy inquired.
Oliver shook his head, “I’ve always been content to let you take the lead.” he murmured.
They looked at each other for a moment, considering what that meant.