Summary: Percy confuses almost everyone, and Ron has always thought that perhaps his proximity and their shared blood only makes Percy more confusing, not less.
Warnings: A bit of angst. Incest (obviously). Minor character death.
Author's Note: First off all, I am so sorry about the mentions of het in this—I tried to keep it incredibly brief and tangential, but I was working with canon as my basis so I couldn't really avoid it, as much as I tried. I tried to get most of your request in, but I especially focused on characterizing Percy, on fleshing him out into a fully developed character. Which is probably why this is so goddamn long. Anyway, a huge thank to A for the beta, and I hope you enjoy!
They are round and slow, patient and methodical, just like him. Their shells swirl towards infinity, and their oozing trails contain just the right amount of ick to satisfy any six year old boy. Percy's mum yells when she finds snails in her lettuce patch, crushing the fragile shells with one flick of a competent finger. Percy cries when his happens – he has always been a cry-baby, after all. Bill and Charlie always tease him about it. Percy's mum scolds him for being so sensitive, but then relents and gives him an oatmeal raisin cookie, his favorite. Percy eats it through sniffles, ripping off chunks and shoving them into his mouth, rubbing away grimy tears from a freckled face warm with summer dirty and sweat.
The next day, Percy's mum asks him to de-snail the vegetable patch.
Percy's mouth tightens to a thin line, an odd expression of resignation on a boy so very young. But he does what his mother asks of him.
Ron is two years old before Percy really takes notice of him, before he starts to understand that he will be a person someday, and is not just another crying, squealing thing that takes all his mother's time and energy away from him. When Percy is six, Ron is old enough for Molly to leave him crawling on the floor near his big brother. Ginny is still far too small not to be carried around, her peach-fuzz head and goofy smile always peeking over his mother's shoulder. But Ron is starting to be mobile, and that is apparently old enough for Molly to leave him with Percy while she cooks dinner or gathers in the washing, with a strict admonishment to Percy to "keep him out of trouble, don't let him touch the floo powder or crawl into the grate, and make sure he doesn't hurt himself on anything." He's a clumsy baby, always bumping into things and then pouting, but Percy doesn't mind. He can sit on the floor with his picture-books and read while Ron half walks, half-crawls around him in meandering, jerky circles. When Ron falls over and collides with some inanimate object, Percy is there to distract him, to show him how to count his tiny, pudgy fingers and toes and to kiss his bruises better.
When Percy is eight, he learns how not to cry.
Bill and Charlie pick on him and tease him, but he has always been a favorite of his mum's (or at least, he will be until Ginny comes along) and she tends to intervene in favor of their brotherly slaps and punches. Percy's father is never home, and when he does, he does not pay much attention to Percy. As young as he is, Percy realizes even then that there is something missing, something vital and connective between that seems to have withered away from disuse; too many late nights at the Ministry, too much time spent in his room with books and pen and parchment.
Arthur Weasley does not quite know what to do with his shy, awkward son, and so he does nothing.
The day Percy learns how not to cry is the day Bill and Charlie sneak into his room and hide spiders in his bed.
(Ron is not yet afraid of spiders; Ron, at this point, is not yet much more than a crying, toddling little person who is afraid of everything, and not just spiders).
Percy has brushed his teeth (twice on the bottom and twice on the top, being careful to clean each molar and canine, because Dental Hygiene is important, he read it in a book that afternoon) and is clean from his bath, all soft and pink and red in his too-large pajamas. He carefully pulls back the clean covers of his sagging and time-worn mattress, preparing to slide in between clean sheets and fall asleep happy.
And then there are spiders. Everywhere.
He screams, and cries, and all the while he can feel them on his skin, can hear Bill and Charlie laughing outside his locked door. It is awful and not funny and not even okay in that brotherly way, the way that lets him sort-of-forgive the well-timed punches under the breakfast table and the sharp elbows in his sides at dinner.
Eventually, Percy sets his jaw and climbs down from his perch on his chair, shaking with anger and fear. He is naked, having thrown his pajamas off in a panic, trying frantically to remove all crawling things with tiny legs from his body.
Percy sets his jaw and wipes his tears away; then, he proceeds to go on a merciless killing spree, smashing every spider with brutal efficiency. He strips the linens from the bed and spreads them out, standing over with a heavy dictionary and watching for the slightest hint of eight-legged movement. When is it over, both his pajamas and the bed clothing are stained with spots of black gunk, all that remains of Bill and Charlie's absent-minded cruelty.
Percy goes down to breakfast the next morning and Bill and Charlie accuse him of being a crybaby, as always.
For the first time, Percy ignores them and does not smile back.
As far back as Ron can remember, Percy has always been his favorite.
No, perhaps favorite isn't the right word. Favorite is someone you look up to, someone like Bill or Charlie, who comes to visit and brings you exotic toys and gifts, who writes you long letters full of fascinating stories and daring escapes. Favorite means the ones that Ron idolizes, the men that Ron desperately hopes he will be like someday.
Percy is not quite that. Or rather, not at all. Percy is sharp and skinny, all lines and angles and neatly combed hair. He is punctual, tidy, polite, and arrogant. He is methodical. Ruthless. Clever.
But Percy is also kind, in his own way. Ron has very few memories of his childhood that belong to him alone, that haven't been borrowed from his sibling's retelling of various stories, memories that aren't colored by the impressions of others. But most of those private memories are of Percy. They are of themselves unremarkable—helping to cook dinner, perhaps, or running in circles around Percy's long legs while his brother reads. Not memories that are important, by any means. But Ron has never been able to forget them, for reasons that he himself can't even quite explain. He has come to the conclusion that perhaps, to him, Percy just means home.
As soon as Bill and then Charlie leave home, the twins take their place in the line of Percy-tormentors. Percy protects himself the only way he can; he obsesses over rules, he creates neat line and angles and charts to protect him from the well-intentioned chaos that is his family. He studies, because books are his friends, and they alone never seem to talk back or harass him.
Hogwarts is another matter.
Percy retreats farther in, deeper inside. Some of the Gryffindor boys develop a soft spot for the skinny, tall redhead with the perpetually displeased expression; otherwise, Percy would have been beaten to a pulp many times over. He is called "fag" and "queer" and "shirt lifter" because he does not want to get muddy or wrestle with the other boys; he thinks he is perhaps the only one who notices the irony, until Oliver Wood smiles at him one day and tells him he suspects they're the queer ones.
After that, Oliver is awarded a small smile and occasional hints on an essay; it's not cheating, of course, because Percy Weasley would never cheat, but Percy is always so well-prepared he can usually predict the exact subject matter of any assignment or exam. Oliver always smiles and says thank you, and once or twice Percy overhears Oliver mention that he's "not such a bad bloke, y'know" in the Gryffindor dorm showers after a long day. Percy always showers alone—more because he is skinny and scrawny and generally unimpressive to look at than any misplaced sense of modesty—but he hears Oliver anyway and for a bit, the cold water of the shower doesn't seem quite so cold.
Percy is made a Prefect, and he startles even himself in how well he takes to the role. He has always enjoyed rules; rules give him a purpose and a guideline, a map and compass to chart his way, and now he is able to chart the way for others, as well. He knows he is not generally liked but consigns this to fate; he has never felt unconditionally liked, even at home, so the odd whispers and snide remarks are nothing new to him.
This time, he can see them coming. He can plan. Strategize.
This time, Percy will be prepared.
Percy worries about Ron coming to Hogwarts. Other people teasing him is one thing; Percy is strong enough to take it, strong enough to hide inside himself and keep the upper hand.
Ron isn't; Percy has seen the freckled face crumple with tears and the little fists tighten too many times to count. It's usually fleeting, forgotten by the time something else comes along to distract him—but it makes Percy's chest clench a bit, all the same. Percy is relieved beyond words when Ron seems to befriend Harry on the train. There's no telling whether it will last, of course, but the shy boy with the bedraggled clothing and bent glasses seems a good match for Ron's headstrong nature.
Percy lets out a breath he didn't realize he was holding, and goes to join the other Prefects in their compartment.
One less item on his endless list of things to worry about.
Ron wonders about Percy.
Mostly in the usual way, of course. Percy confuses almost everyone, and Ron has always thought that perhaps his proximity and their shared blood only makes Percy more confusing, not less. Percy is an enigma, tightly wrapped in layers upon layers of self-restraint and perfect manners, of good penmanship and obsessive attention to detail. But Ron knows that is not all there is to him, has seen it for himself. Percy is not as cold as he appears, nor as unbreakable. Ron has seen Percy cry. Only when they were very young, true, but he has still seen it all the same.
Penelope shyly passes him a note one day at their usual study session, and Percy almost falls out of his chair when he reads its contents. He feels hot all over and it's not unpleasant, except for the anxiety tightening his stomach and the blush he can feel setting his freckles on fire. He calmly reads the note and puts it away, then reaches across the table and links her fingers in his. He wonders if she can tell that his hand is shaking with nerves.
The brilliant smile she gives him is more than enough of a response.
Percy's intuition is spot-on about his younger brother, in terms of his social life at Hogwarts.
Ron isn't like his older brothers, true; but he still has a spark inside him somewhere. It's not blinding like Bill or Charlie's was, nor a steady, pulsating glow like Fred and George. It's most like Percy's, actually; invisible to the eye, but there if you care to look, if you dig deep enough. Ron is well-liked in his House, and Harry and Hermione are becoming frequent visitors to the Burrow. He is doing well (occasional scraps with the Malfoy brat and adventures with Harry notwithstanding). Percy is relieved. Ron has proven himself stronger than he looks, stronger than Percy thought he was.
But Percy watches all of this from a distance. He is a silent spectator in a loud and occasionally dangerous play. His whole life has always felt like he is at the theatre, cheering in the back row with the rest of the crowd. The Weasleys are a best-selling (if cheap) show, the toast of the town, the show everyone discusses fondly over tea and in the papers. Percy is only the last act, is the one who closes the curtain when all the actors have left. He is the one who turns off the lights and picks up the trash in the empty, echoing hall after the audience has left.
He tries, as always, not to mind.
Percy is quite content with kisses on the cheek and handholding and the like. He feels that there is really nothing else one ought to be doing at this age anyway, and Percy always does what one ought to do. So he ignores her bitten lips and downcast expressions when, after a quick peck on the cheek, he bids her good night and sweet dreams. She isn’t a prefect, after all, and Percy wouldn't dream of taking her on his rounds. That would be against the rules.
That same night he finds Oliver Wood alone with Roger Davies, his face buried between Oliver's strong thighs, throat moving rhythmically up and down as he swallows. Oliver's mouth is open and his head is thrown back. Percy swallows nervously and fingers his wand, hand holding tight to the doorframe because it's the hottest thing Percy has ever seen. And maybe just because it's wrong, it's so wrong, and there are rules against this sort of thing and Oliver is just blatantly breaking them all and Percy can barely stand it. It makes Percy's gut clench and the heat travels downwards so fast he has to clutch the doorway harder for support, so fast he has to hold on for dear life as he sees flashes of his own ginger hair bobbing between those thighs. It's awful and inappropriate (that word, always holding him hostage, always keeping him together and what would he do without it?) and Percy is never going to be able to close his eyes at night again, because all he will see is those strong, rough hands gripping Roger's head and moving his jaw up and down on Oliver's cock, and Oliver's filthy, half-muttered words that wash over Percy like oil on his burning skin.
Percy bites his lip and leaves, walking stiffly and carefully back to Gryffindor tower. Slowly. He counts his steps; one, two, left-foot, right-foot-onetwo-leftfootright and he is practically running, dashing up the stairs and through the portrait and then he is in his bed behind red curtains and his cock is out in his hand and it's all he can do to cast a silencing charm before the slick friction of his hand, the pull and release has him jerking and coming, coming everywhere, and he is shaking and trembling and Percy did not know that orgasms could be like that and he is so, so fucked.
But Percy is discrete. He keeps his mouth shut, and Oliver never finds out.
Ron wonders other things about his brother, too.
Ron wants to ask him why he never manages to do more than hold Penelope's hand, even though he must want to Do Things with her. Ron is sure that is what blokes are supposed do, after all. Blokes find a pretty girl to date and then it's all a matter of timing, of saying the right things at the right time and flowers and telling her she looks pretty. Then it's only a matter of time until the good stuff happens, until Ron is allowed to touch, to slip his fingers under those confusing underthings and stroke bare skin. Until Ron is allowed to swagger back into the boy's dormitory with a shit-eating grin on his face, ready to re-count the night's latest adventures to an eager audience. That's what blokes do.
Except for Ron, it's not quite like that.
Girls don't seem quite so interesting as he suspects they should be. He tries to care how short Lavender's skirt is when she rolls it up, or how nice Padma's breasts look in her uniform, but he's distracted. And not distracted by schoolwork or Quidditch, but distracted in the worst kind of way—the kind that keeps him eyeing Harry when he steps out of the showers, the kind of distraction that forces his eyes to the floor and sends sparks tingling through his limbs. How is he supposed to focus on Padma or Lavender or Hermione when he has to live with Seamus gatting about half-naked in the dorms, when Ron can see the jut of boyish hips and flat stomachs even when he closes his eyes?
And so wonders about Percy. Wonders because he needs someone to talk to, wonders because Percy never seems all that attached to Penelope, wonders because Percy is home and comfort and stability and that's what Ron is craving right now.
All of a sudden, everything is strange and new and unfamiliar, and all Ron wants is someone to keep him safe. Someone to tell him he's not a freak. Someone who feels the same.
But he never quite gets up the courage to ask.
Percy leaves Hogwarts.
He goes to the Ministry, of course, because he is the third son in a family of seven children and there is nothing else for him to do. The Ministry has paperwork and rules and guidelines to ensure that nothing gets lost. He is careful, meticulous, intelligent; he is a perfect fit, even if he is perhaps a bit over-zealous on occasion.
But it is only because he wants to ensure that nothing gets overlooked that nothing gets lost. Ensuring that nothing gets lost becomes his passion; he color-codes his files, submitting documents in triplicate in order to ensure there are back-ups. His father doesn't understand; his messy, overcrowded and under lit office is just like his life: lived with the best of intentions but always with the shadow of unintentional neglect.
Percy has always silently felt he might find his childhood down there, buried under a broken typewriter and a mound of moldy paperwork, and so he treads carefully, knocking on the door and leaving as soon as he can. Arthur's expression is always one of confusion, of quiet sadness and betrayal, when Percy leaves with only the minimum of formalities, the least common denominator of pleasant conversation.
Percy was lost a long time ago, but he is here to ensure that no one else will be.
Percy doesn't like to talk about the War.
He supposes he is not alone in this. His mum is the same—a tight-lipped noise of disapproval and a quick subject change is what lies in store for the unsuspecting questioner, whether friend or relation or reporter for the Daily Prophet. There are no War Widow wreaths for Molly Weasley, no self-serving public grief. She attends Order funerals, births, all the events dictated by her station, by the Order of Merlin First-Class hidden upstairs in the bottom left-hand drawer of her armoire. But she refuses to talk about the War. The only time she will discuss her family is when she is talking about who is left; Molly is more than willing to gossip about Ginny's marriage, about Bill and Fleur's children, about Ron and Percy's distressing and continual lack of girlfriends.
The only time Percy ever hears his mum say their names is on the anniversary of the end. On the day that marks when Harry Potter, (the Hero, the Savior, the Martyr,) finally vanquished the Dark Lord, killing himself in the process. Then—and only then—will Molly whisper their names to grassy plots of land, only then will she cry and plant flowers and whisper Charlie, Fred, George, Arthur to the soft dirt and the ever-growing ivy that winds around their graves. And Ginny will squeeze his hand tight and Percy's eyes will be as dry and bright-blue as ever behind his glasses, because they were the ones who taught how him how to be strong and how not to cry.
Percy remembers the day Ron left, though there is no one left he would ever tell the story to. Most of his friends (if he could call them that) are gone now, married or moved away or under the ground. So there is really no one to share the memory with; not that he would, really, because he is still a private person, but it's that sense of possibility he misses, of knowing that he could.
Percy was sitting at the kitchen table in his dingy flat, drinking day-old coffee and grimacing at the taste while he filled out forms for the next day's acquisitions. Ink stains from his quill had mingled with the coffee he had splashed on himself (clumsy, he was clumsy that night, because he was tired and distracted and the Twins were angry at him but when were they ever not angry at him? What else could he do?), and the small puddle of dark liquid had sat unnoticed on the table until Percy ran out of places to stack things and moved his last form right on top of it, the coffee stain seeping right through the middle of the paper like something was eating it from inside. And Percy had cursed and thrown down his quill in disgust and had just been getting up to get a dishtowel, muttering all the while about having to re-copy the form and then suddenly Ron was in his kitchen and Percy's mouth stayed open and suddenly, there were no more words to be said about ruined paperwork.
And Ron just stared at him, a penetrating sort of stare that Percy normally associated with Harry, the sort of stare that took in the entire scene—Percy, tired and haggard around the eyes, the dingy flat and the half-used candles, the smell of burnt coffee and piles of paperwork; the forgotten quill, thrown down in haste, whose nib was leaking all over Percy's new form.
Ron walked the three steps it took to cross Percy's kitchen to reach the table and silently picked up the leaking quill; he examined it for a second, then placed it on the far corner of the table, far away from the rest of the papers.
"Thanks," Percy croaked out. The first words spoken between them in over a year, and once Percy opened his mouth, he found he couldn't stop, nervous chatting to fill up the heavy silence. "I—I spilled coffee on my papers, I must have forgotten it was there. I—I'm sorry, I'm so rude, would you like coffee? And there's tea, if you'd like—"
"Percy." Ron gave him a small smile, lopsided, and Percy noticed there was a bit of stubble on his chin and when had his baby brother started needing to shaving? "I didn't come here just for a spot of tea, you know."
"I—of course you didn't." Percy nodded, a quick jerk of the head. "I just thought that—"
Ron cut him off. "We're leaving," he stated flatly. "Me and Harry and Hermione. We have to." He paused. "And don't think my showing up here means I've forgiven you. I haven't. I still think you're a fucking tosser." Percy swallowed, tensing. Ron just continued on, ignoring his older brother's suddenly stiff posture. He looked old, older than Percy had ever seen him look. "But I didn't want to—"
"—leave without saying goodbye. Yeah." Percy finished, swallowing again past the lump in his throat. Ron shrugged, a sheepish smile playing on his lips. "I mean, normally I'd just faff off and worry about it later, but I don't know if we'll be comi—"
Percy cut him off with, "—right, you don't know how long it will take."
And all Percy could think was, Ron is standing in the kitchen of my flat and I'm never going to see him again and my god, he's grown up and I can't let him say he's never coming back. I can't.
Ron nodded, understanding slowly dawning in his eyes. "Right We don't know how long it will take." He gave Percy that sad half-smile again, and Percy didn't trust his voice so he held his arms out awkwardly and Ron was almost as tall as he is and Percy could smell Ron's hair, so much longer than his and clogging up his nose but Percy didn't care.
And all too soon it was over, and Ron stepped back and prepared to Apparate and Percy swallowed for the third time, swallowed against his too-dry throat and said, "Ron—owl me? Please?" and then there was a pop and a blank space on his kitchen floor where his little brother was and Percy went back to his paperwork and fought back the tears that threaten to ruin his parchments all over again.
Ron misses Percy more than ever when he's out hunting Horcruxes with Harry and Hermione. It's strange, really—they never talked all that much in school, and he's still angry as hell at him for how he's been acting, but without him there's a gap, a hole in his life that no one can seem to fill. It's as if Percy is a vital part of the background of Ron's life, invisible when he's around but glaringly obvious when he's not there. There's a Percy-shaped hole in his mind and it pains him to think about it; but even so, he manages to owl off scraps of paper whenever they have a chance to catch their breath. He doesn't know if Percy even cares but he seemed to that night, seemed to care—in his quiet, reserved way—even more than his mother did with all her tears and wailing.
So he writes.
Percy carefully saved each and every scrap he received from Ron during the war, the hastily scribbled notes delivered by strange birds late at night, often with only a "Still alive—no time to write but got your letter, thank you—RBW." It was strange to see his brother's initials like that, even though Percy knew how dangerous it would have been for Ron to write even his first name. The scraps didn't come often, but they did come regularly enough that Percy is nervous when three months go by with no news, nervous enough to swallow his pride and Apparate to the Burrow. His father is not there but his mother is, and Percy somehow manages to apologize and not muck it up too terribly. But his mother has no news either, not just of Ron but of the twins or Charlie, and Percy's heart sinks further and further until he can almost feel it in his shoes.
And by the time anyone hears from Ron again, Percy has long given him up for dead.
What do you do when your dead brother shows up at your front door? is all that Percy can think as he stares at Ron, the only identifiable thought that makes it past the shock and relief and horror clenching inside him. Ron is thin, too thin, and there is a large cut over his eyebrow and burns on his arm, and he is limping and there are no doubt worse injuries under his dirty clothing. He is holding onto the door frame for support and Percy instinctively leans forward to take Ron's weight onto his shoulder, never mind that Ron is still larger than him even when emaciated. Percy is still too shocked to talk and Ron doesn't seem to be able to, so the entire affair is strangely silent, a tableau with the sound turned off. Percy half-carries, half-drags Ron to his bed and lies him down, and Ron makes a noise of pain as Percy lifts his leg and that means that Ron can still talk, or at least make noise, and that is enough to spur Percy into attempting some sort of communication. Percy intends to ask him what hurts, what Ron needs from him, how he can help, but what actually comes out of Percy's mouth is, "Is it over?"
Ron nods, a minuscule jerk of the head followed by a wince. "It's...over." His eyes are blank, blanker than Percy can ever remember seeing them, and Percy can't decide whether he wants to shout with happiness that Ron is alive, or scream with frustration at what has happened to him. Percy frowns as a million questions suddenly occur to him. "Ron, why aren't you at St. Mungo's? Does mum know? What are you—"
Ron moves his head again, only this time it's side to side. "No…can't." He takes a deep breath, and speaks his first full sentence since he's walked in here. His voice sounds hoarse and rusty from disuse, but it's Ron, and Percy feels his heart give a frantic leap. "It's over, but no one can know for the next seven days. No one can know anything. It's part of the spell. Hermione and I are the secret-keepers. I can't breathe a word of it or it won't be true anymore. Or he won't have—it won't work." Ron looks at Percy pleadingly. Percy realizes how long it's been since he's seen that face—the face his baby brother used to make, when he was still all chubby arms and awkward legs.
"I need a place to stay where no one will ask me questions, because if I fuck up, everything will be lost. Please, Percy. It's not like you have that many friends who will miss you." And at that last Ron smiles, just a tiny bit, the corner of one side of his mouth quirking up and Percy knows he will do anything Ron needs, anything he asks of him, as long as he gets to see that smile again.
Taking care of Ron quickly becomes a full-time job for the next seven days. Ron has a chest full of potions and medicines in his jacket pocket, carefully shrunken for easy transport. All the labels on the potions, oils and tinctures are written in Hermione's careful handwriting, and Percy wonders if she is still alive, but Percy has promised Ron, has sworn on their father's grave not to ask him about Harry or Hermione or Voldemort or Horcruxes.
As soon as it is safe for Percy to move him, Percy drags Ron into the bath. It's not even that he smells so bad—he does, really, and it causes Percy make a face but he manfully tries to hide it, because it's certainly not Ron's fault that there weren't baths or cleaning spells wherever he was. It's more the dirt, caked onto his clothing and dropping on the rug and the sheets and everywhere Ron moves. It's one thing to give up everything for his brother, to risk losing his job and by extension his entire life, but it's quite another to see his pristine flat ruined by muck everywhere. Ron protests, weakly, at being undressed like a child. Percy ignores him; he's getting stronger every day thanks to Hermione's myriad potions and tinctures, and soon Ron will be able to actually protest getting thrown into the bath instead of just muttering angrily.
"Percy, I'm not a—"
"Hush." Percy gives him a glare as he waves his wand to turn on the water. "You don't seem to realize that you've absolutely no choice in this matter. You smell."
"I do not!" Ron protests, sputtering as hot water splashes his legs as the tub begins to fill.
"You're hardly the one to talk, aren't you?" Percy raises an eyebrow. "You've been smelling only yourself—and perhaps a few other unwashed bodies— for weeks. I doubt you can even tell the difference, anymore."
Ron crosses his arms in front of his chest and sticks out his lower lip, just a fraction. The movement draws Percy's eyes to Ron's chest. It's broader than he remembers it, even with the physical deterioration that Ron's suffered. In fact, it almost makes him more striking—Percy has been trying desperately not to notice, but the lean, naked body full of muscle and sinew that's sitting in his tub is hard to ignore, even when Ron is wet and petulant. Percy tries to convince himself that it's just academic as he reaches for the shampoo; it's only that Ron has unexpectedly turned into a man, and a striking one at that. Perfectly normal natural process. It has nothing to do with the way Percy's hands shake a bit, the way his stomach does that familiar clenching and falling feeling as he brushes Ron's arm.
Percy has very few indulgences. He meticulously saves every penny, and keeps careful track of his spending habits so as not to go over his budget. Even on the meager pay of a Ministry lackey, he still manages a few luxuries. One of them is his Muggle shampoo---it's rich and smooth, smelling of sandalwood and musk. That and his morning cup of tea are sometimes the only thing pushing him in the morning, the only reason he manages to crawl out of bed and submit to another day of pushing papers and running useless errands. Now, he grabs the shampoo and pours it in his palm, grabbing hold of Ron's bicep with one hand to keep him still.
Ron frowns, confused. "What are you...?"
"Washing your hair for you. You can hardly be expected to do it for yourself, in your condition."
"WHAT condition?" Ron tries to bat his hand away again. "I'm fine. Just a little bruised up, is all!"
Percy takes his hands away, still covered in lather, and gives him a long, level look. He stays silent.
"Oh, fine." Ron slumps back against the tub.
"I'm glad to see you've regain control of your reason. It's about time." Percy tugs Ron back into place, rubbing and massaging the sweet-smelling lather into his long, stringy hair. Ron stiffens a bit, at first, but gradually relaxes. Percy can see the muscles in his back and neck unknotting themselves as Ron lets himself melt into the touch, lets himself be taken care of.
"Percy," Ron says suddenly, tensing again like he's nervous about something. Ron licks his lips. "You love me, right?"
"Of course I do." Percy says stiffly, still trying to get a persistent snarl out. "You know that. I wouldn't have you here if I didn't."
"But what if I had something to tell you. Something bad," Ron continues heedlessly, the words starting to spill out unchecked, held back for so long. "Something awful that's wrong with me. Would you still love me then?"
Percy pauses, thinking. "I think so," he says after a long moment. "You've forgiven me, when I didn't deserve it. Unless you're about to tell me you murdered someone or," Percy paused, searching for the right term, "or took improper advantage of them." He went back to working on the snarl, pouring more conditioner on Ron's hair and groping blindly behind himself for a comb.
Ron is silent for a long moment. "It's not like that," he says at last. "At least, I don't think it is. It's just...I'm not. Not normal, I mean. In—in bed."
"In bed?" Percy raises an eyebrow as he works. "That's...interesting. And probably not something I needed to know. But it's hardly worth my supposed hatred."
"No. I mean." Ron swallows, ducking his head as Percy combs and pulls. "I don't like girls. I like....men."
"I—" and for once, Percy is shocked speechless. He always has words at his disposal, words that can cut and bite and sting or praise and flatter, but right now he has nothing. Just a strange feeling in his chest, like something rising and pulling. Like something is opening up inside of him, and it's not pleasant and Percy doesn't want it and tries to shove it back down, back deep inside, but Ron is still talking.
"I just—I can't tell Mum, you know, or the Twins, or Bill or Charlie. I don't think they'd understand. And—don't get me wrong, don't hate me for this, but I always thought you might. Just a little? I mean," and Ron lifts his head up, locking eyes with Percy, blue eyes clear and unsure. "Do you understand? What it's like? To feel like this? "
Percy swallows past the lump in his throat. He is not quite ready to correct him, not quite ready for Ron to find out that there are holes left where his family used to be. Percy swallows past the feeling in his chest that this is not a good idea, that this will somehow lead to something he's been ignoring for so long, even if he has no facts to back it up except Ron's hopeful expression. "Yes," he manages finally. "I do understand. Quite a bit."
Ron's face smoothes out and his shoulders drop as Percy says it, says the magic words Ron been wishing so desperately to hear.
"You do?" the expression on Ron's face is suddenly eager, full of curiosity and relief. "What's it like?"
"What's what like?" Percy resumes his combing, ignore that fact that his hands are shaking, that touching his brother's hair is giving him tiny shocks. "That's not exactly a proper question. You'll have to be more specific."
"You know. Doing...stuff." Ron blushes, suddenly bashful, a spot of red blooming in his high cheekbones and across his freckled chest. He looks up again, causing Percy to accidentally pull the comb too-tightly on his hair. "That's what you meant, didn't you? That you've...done things. With other blokes."
"Yes. I have."
"What was it like?" and Ron is looking at him so earnestly, so intently that Percy has to put the comb down and wipe his hands clean before continuing, has to clean his glasses nervously and place them back on his nose.
"Ron, I—well. I tell you this in the strictest confidence, you understand." He gives Ron a stern glare, and Ron nods. "I've...yes. I've 'done things,' as you so vaguely put it, with other members of the male sex. In fact, I've discovered that males are, unfortunately, my preferred gender. I do not enjoy liaisons with women. But sharing something like that with another man—" Percy paused, his face softening at the memories. "It's like nothing else. Nothing you've ever tried, I can assure you. It's—it's lovely," he finished softly, blushing. "And I quite hope you aren't going to ask me for any more detail than that."
Ron stands up suddenly in the bath, all almost-six feet of him, and Percy quickly averts his eyes from what is now, from his kneeling position, at eye level. Ron leans down and tugs Percy up by the arm, raising him to a standing position. Ron bites his lip, seeming to realize suddenly that he's no longer covered with water and is, in fact, extremely naked. They're face to face and Ron leans in, still biting his lip and holding on to Percy's arm with wet fingers as he whispers, "Will you show me?"
Percy colors, immediately, and tries to pull away "I don't think that's very appropri—"
"Percy, I—" Ron gives him a pleading look, keeping a tight grip on his arm as Percy struggles. "You know what to do. I trust you. You're my big brother, you know? You—you take care of me. Please, I—I'm scared. To do it with someone else. I don't want them to hurt me." And Ron is suddenly a little boy again, staring at him with those eyes that are far older than they ever should have been, far too old for the nineteen year old with the sinewy, beautiful body standing in the bath before him and Percy wants to choke out "Do you even know what you're asking of me?" but instead he turns and runs away.
Percy inhales the steam of his tea, thinking.
Ron is asleep on his bed; after their awkward conversation Percy suggested that he take his extract of Snapdragon leaves, and unbeknownst to Ron, slipped in a few drops of Sleeping Draught while he was preparing it. Percy feels slightly bad about drugging his brother, but he has always been good at potions and knows that it won't harm him; in fact, Ron's injured body can probably use all the sleep he can get. So Percy had waited until the Sleeping Draught had taken effect (which was approximately twenty seconds), then covered Ron with a light blanket and crept out to the kitchen to think.
Percy closes his eyes as he debates the moralities of his options.
First, Ron is his brother. His little brother. Percy's job is to protect him, to take care of him, not to subvert him down some unnatural road. But that's just yourself talking, his voice says inside, that's just because you aren't comfortable with it. You're not comfortable with yourself. And you're not leading him astray—he asked you. Came to you for help. How can you abandon him when he needs you?
Second, Ron is headstrong. Reckless. Ron jumps instinctively into situations no sane person would ever touch. If I reject him, where will he go? Percy wonders to himself. To a club? To the Muggles? To some strange man who's going to see him as nothing more than fresh meat, a pretty young toy, who might abuse him with no regard for his feelings?
I can't do that. I'm his brother. I have to protect him.
Third, and most importantly, Ron is his own flesh and blood. Sharing—sharing something like that with him would be wrong, wrong in every sense of the word. Percy cannot imagine a more hideous disregard of proprietary, a more blatant and deviant rejection of social rules. It goes against everything he stands for, everything he has based his life on. But then, you've always hated your attractions for exactly that reason; because they don't fit into your neat compartments, your little boxes and folders. What is this, in the grand scheme of things?
If it protects him, what is one more aberration in the pattern?
"Do you really understand what you're asking for?"
Ron is standing in front of him, hands clenched awkwardly at his sides, and Percy is uncomfortable and sweating and even though he has made his decision, even though his mind has been made up after three cups of tea and hours of agonizing internal debate, Percy cannot go through with this until Ron answers his question.
"I—I think I do." Ron swallows, nervously, eyes cast down and to the side. His demeanor is submissive, between lack of eye contact and the slight tilt of his body, and Percy feels it rising up in his chest again; and this time, he makes no effort to push it down, no effort to stop the wave of longing and lust. He feels a spark of guilt (Because when does Percy Weasley not feel guilt?) and shoves it back down as Percy watches Ron shift uncomfortably on the bed, watches him try to find the words to say what his tense legs and visible erection obviously want him to. "I—I want you to—"
"What, Ron?" Percy asks calmly as he walks over, gliding smoothly across the floor, his walk so different from his normal mincing gait that Ron's eyes widen in surprise. Percy is barefoot, and Ron can see the muscles working in Percy's legs through the fitted trousers and he swallows again as Percy comes to kneel down in front of him. Even on his knees, he's almost as tall as Ron is sitting on the bed, and Percy leans in, unable to resist the urge to drag his lips gently over a pulse point on their way to Ron's ear. "If you want to do this, you're going to have to learn to say it out loud. To say things like, 'I want you to suck my cock,' and mean it."
Ron's mouth falls open and he looks at Percy incredulously—Ron can't even remember the last time he heard Percy swear, let alone say words like "cock." Percy gives him a small half-smile, and raises an eyebrow at him. "I bet you didn't think I could say it, did you? Your stuffy older brother, saying such an improper word. Oh, the horror." And Ron relaxes a bit, because this is the Percy he knows, the one he has known all his life, and the switch between that Percy and the one who can whisper words like "cock" in his ear is disconcerting, to say the least. Percy smiles at him and Ron suddenly understands that his is his last chance to back out, that Percy is purposefully showing him both sides of himself so that Ron knows exactly what he's getting into. Ron's heart is pounding and he still can't believe he's actually going to do this, that he actually got up the nerve to ask Percy to do this for him. But Percy is sitting here, next to him, all slim and deceptively strong, and Ron knows that no matter what happens, Percy will never intentionally hurt him. Percy will take care of him.
Ron licks his lips. "No, I didn't think you would ever say something like that." He turns, facing Percy on the bed, locking eyes with him for the first time since this afternoon in the bath. Not backing down. Seeing the change come over Percy's features, the subtle shift from prey to predatory.
"But I want to hear you say it again."
Ron is delicious.
It's the only word Percy can think to describe him, the only word that keeps drifting into his brain as he hold him down, as Ron squirms and pants, open-mouthed, beneath him. Percy can't help sinking his teeth in, can't help biting down on Ron's peach-soft skin. Percy has no idea how he managed to keep it this soft while he was gone, although he reasons that perhaps he just kept himself well-covered—they were in cold climates during the hunt, after all. Ron's shoulder's are wiry and soft but his hands are rough, and Percy releases them for a second while he concentrates on Ron's chest and stomach, while he kisses and marks his way down the row of thin muscles and hair. Ron immediately throws his head back and moans, running his large hands over Percy's body, catching them on Percy's slim hips, still in his trousers. "Fuck," Ron murmurs as Percy licks lower, as he shoves Ron down by his hipbones to keep him in place. "Oh Fuck...God, Percy..." and Percy bites down, hard, making Ron twitch and hiss underneath him. Percy glides up, unable to resist the opportunity, unable to resist teasing, because Percy knows that Ron will be so pretty—bitten lips, panting mouth, blue eyes—when he takes it.
"Do you have any idea what I want to do to you?" Percy whispers into his ear, smoothing an elegant hand across the front of Ron's pants, and feeling him jerk beneath him. "You're mine, little brother. And I'm going to have you panting beneath me before I'm even fucking you. I want you open for me, until you can't stand it." Another bite just behind the ear, for good measure, and Percy glides back down, still holding his hips, pressing him down.
And he whispers against Ron's stomach, "I want to make you beg."
Percy is intense. That's the only word Ron can wrap his mind around, the only one that makes it through the haze of lust clouding his brain. Percy is gorgeous and slender and intense, and he's holding Ron down and whispering filthy words in his ear and biting and it's all Ron can do not to come on the spot when Percy takes him into his mouth, when Percy smiles wickedly and sucks on the tip. The feeling goes straight up Ron's spine so that he arches his back and moans, grabbing onto a handful of Percy's hair—and he soon learns that that was a mistake, as Percy at once bites down warningly and roughly removes his hand. "It's never polite to grab someone's head when they're doing you a favor," Percy says, giving Ron his best officious glare, and Ron nods weakly, mouth open, and he can feel the tensing in the base of his spine and he prays to whatever gods are out there that he's not going to come all over his brother's face. And then the image of that—of Percy licking his lips as Ron does it, is so intense that he has to squeeze his eyes shut, that he has to think of McGonagall and Hermione's knickers and everything else just to stave it off.
Percy notices and pulls away just in time, just enough to leave him gasping, stomach heaving, but not coming just yet. And Percy whispers, "turn over," and Ron does, wondering what on earth Percy is going to do with his face down there. But Percy is spreading him open, carefully, and Ron is on all fours, biting his lip, feeling horribly exposed and aroused and then there is something insanely soft and wet, something feathering gently around a part of himself that Ron knew, vaguely, was connected with this whole deal. But it had never felt like this, and Ron suddenly knew that Percy was opening him up with his tongue, that he was licking him in places Ron didn't think it was possible to lick and then all his thoughts were gone, replaced by the trembling in his legs and the aching in his cock and the single-minded conviction that Percy does own him, that Ron is opening up and begging for it and his legs are shaking, because his big brother is fucking him with his tongue and Ron can barely stand it as he chokes out a strangled, "God, Percy...please...Oh God, please..."
Ron is begging him. His little brother is begging him and Percy's face is pressed up almost inside of him, and Ron is even more delicious, even more wonderful when he begs. Percy smiles wickedly and gives one last lick to Ron's arseshole, groping blindly on the bed for some salve to ease the passage. Percy doesn't think it will hurt Ron after that—he's practically gaping open, his back muscles loose and relaxed even as his other muscles are straining. Percy spreads a more-than-generous amount on his fingers and then whispers for Ron to get a pillow (or three), using his non-sticky hand to guide them under Ron's hips, to raise him up like a feast. Ron is murmuring faintly and rubbing up against the pillows but Percy stops him with a controlling hand on his hip as he slowly slides a finger in.
Ron is tight—Percy knew he would be, being a virgin and all—but it is one thing to know it abstractly and quite another to feel him clenching warm and slick around his finger, to know that Percy will be able to sheath himself inside that. He almost shudders at the thought but keeps his mind on the task in front of him—this isn't for him, after all. This is for Ron and to protect him and teach him, this is for all the times Percy has let him down, for all the times he's failed to do everything he could, for all the times he's never deserved to be called Ron's big brother.
Percy adds a second finger, and then another. Ron is gasping openly now, moving in time to Percy's careful, patient thrusts and he shakes his head emphatically when Percy asks him, gently, if it hurts. Ron's reply is something garbled, something like Goddon'tstopfuckme, please, and Percy figures that is enough of a definite statement to alleviate his conscience. He places a hand on Ron's back as he shifts his hips to line them up and he feels a pain of regret; Ron is so achingly beautiful like this, so tender and strong and pleading that Percy wishes, just for a second, that it didn't have to be just this once.
But that is part of the deal he made with himself; he will do this once, and once only. One aberration is excusable. Expected, even. But not two.
Percy finally fits himself in and pushes, rolling his hips to spread out the force of his thrusts. Ron groans and arches his back and suddenly he is inside, he is surrounded by Ron and Percy feels his knees go weak, feels the tears start to prick his eyes as he kissing the back of Ron's neck. Ron turns his head and pants out a strangled "loveyou—somuch—God, move—" and Percy swallows the tears down and rolls his hips again, fucking his brother until he feels his spine tensing, until he feels Ron coming, hot and wet, all over his hand and Percy can finally let himself go.
Ron is stretched out across the bed when Percy wakes up that night, bladder full and aching with the need to piss. Percy quickly gets up and goes about his business, spending no more time than necessary to complete his bodily functions. In the doorway, though, he pauses—taking in the spread of clean red hair across his pillow, the smooth brow and half-smile that is still on Ron's face even as he sleeps. And the moonlight coming in from the window shines on the accidental patterns in the sheets, the creases and folds of a night spent dreaming, the lines and threads binding themselves together in some unforeseeable pattern.
And Percy knows that tomorrow there will be questions, that Ron will be tired and scared and hounded by the media, that he and Hermione will have to face together the storm that is sure to follow whatever Harry has done.
But for now, Percy thinks, his little brother is protected, cocooned in sheets and moonlight.
Just for right now, Percy is a decent big brother. A decent human being, even.
And he wipes away the drop of salty water on his cheekbone, smears the tear back and away and Percy smiles as he thinks, and perhaps our aberrations, our defects, may finally be forgiven.