Upside Down


13,263 words
May 20, 2004

Harry Potter Fan Fics

Harry finds Percy drunk in a Muggle pub. Why is he there?
Thanks to my great and incredibly fast beta rubykate! Written for cave_canum.

Book Reviews

"Percy? Percy Weasley?"

Only with a maximum of effort did Percy suppress his groan. He had really thought at least in the Muggle world he would be safe. Something which was getting less and less possible in his world.

Then he noticed that his name hadn't been spoken with the usual disdain and aggressiveness, but rather with curiosity. He turned around.

Squinting at the figure in front of him - he couldn't have had that much to drink already, could he? - he finally focused his eyes. The man before him was perhaps in his middle twenties, black hair and green eyes that reminded him of something, but at the moment his mind was too fuzzy to properly think about it.

The stranger lifted his fringe off his forehead and suddenly Percy remembered where he had seen those eyes before. They belonged to Ron's best friend, Harry Potter. Well, former best friend. He vaguely remembered that for some reason Potter had broken off all contact with his family - actually the whole Wizarding world now that he thought about it - and hadn't been talked about again by his family.

He had been too busy with something or other at that time to really notice.

He sighed thinking about what a debacle his life had become since then and didn't even realise he hadn't said anything to Potter yet.

His depressing thoughts were only interrupted when Potter slid into the chair next to him and looked like he was about to make himself comfortable. Percy tried to decipher the expression in his face, but Potter just wouldn't keep still, so he gave up. With unfocused eyes he looked around, trying to find the barkeeper and order another drink, but he couldn't find him in the low light. He frowned in confusion. Shouldn't the barkeeper always be available?

Then a voice from beside him interrupted him once again. "So, what are you doing in Muggle London, Percy?" He turned around once again, still trying to find somebody to bring him more to drink and didn't really notice when he answered the question.

"Gettin' drunk." Stupid question. At least his speech was still working properly. But what was wrong with his eyes? Perhaps all this smoke in the pub had affected them? He distractedly waved a hand in front of his face to see better, but it didn't work. The barkeeper was still gone.

A touch on his arm startled him and he turned to Potter again. "Wha' now?" He really had to find something to drink. Perhaps Potter could show him where the barkeeper was?

"Are you okay, Percy? You look kind of panicky." Was that concern he heard in that voice? No, that couldn't be, nobody ever was concerned about him. He frowned in confusion. What had he been looking for again?

Oh, yes. "D'you know where the barkeeper is?" He could vaguely make out Potter's eyes assessing him, but didn't pay him any mind. Probably didn't know where the barkeeper was either. He looked around again. He was going to have to complain to the manager about the miserable service around here.

"Don't you think you've had enough to drink?" He looked at his neighbour again. What was he still doing here? Then he realised that this man wanted to keep him from drinking. He slowly shook his head.

"'M perf'ctly alright." He waved his hand in front of his face again. The smoke in here was getting worse. Maybe he should go outside and look for a different pub. Yes, that was a good idea.

Leaning heavily on the table he stood up, and then almost sat down again when he realised he had landed in some kind of amusement park. Those idiots wouldn't stop turning the room. He looked at the man next to him; where did he know him from? - made one last attempt at getting something to drink "Barkeeper!" - and promptly passed out.


The next morning Percy woke up in a strange flat, in a strange bed and with a hangover the size of Britain. Fortunately, the curtains were shut, so the sun couldn't torture him, but it also gave him no clue as to where he was.

Then his brain caught up with him a bit more, and told him that the smell of fresh coffee must have woken him. He took a long look around the room he was in, discovering his glasses on the bedside table. He put them on and now he could make out other objects on the bedside table. He blinked and then blinked again.

There stood a strange contraption that could only be a clock, albeit a very strange one, together with a glass of water and a small bottle.

His brain was finally fully awake, even though the pounding in his head still distracted him and he remembered from his Muggle Studies class that Aspirin was some kind of dehydrated headache potion.

Grateful to whoever had put that substance there, he took the cap off the bottle and swallowed one of the white things.

When his head had somewhat cleared up, he turned his brainpower towards figuring out where he was. He didn't think that he had just gone home with somebody, and besides - he threw a sharp glance at the space beside him - it didn't look as if anybody else had slept in the bed.

The room itself also gave no clue as to who lived here. There were no photos on the wall and the yellow walls were so common that it didn't even give an idea about the taste of the owner of the flat. The clothes that were thrown throughout the room only indicated that the inhabitant was male and slim, but that was it.

He would have to get up and find out. He sighed. This could be awkward if there was something he was supposed to remember.

He got up slowly, minding his still hurting head. That was when he noticed he wasn't wearing anything beside his boxers. He felt his body heating up at the thought of what must have happened here last night. Then he discovered his clothes neatly folded over a chair.

He swallowed. Surely, if he had had... sex with whoever lived here, they wouldn't have folded his clothes, right?

He took another calming breath and quickly dressed in his trousers and shirt. The smell of smoke and alcohol that emanated from his clothes told him at least part of where he had been last night, as it did more and more mornings. However, it still didn't explain everything else.

With a sick feeling in his stomach that had little to do with his consumption of alcohol last night, Percy opened the bedroom door and stepped into a bright hallway.

He was at the end of it. On his right side there was another door that probably led to a bathroom. On the other end at the left side the hallway opened into an open space and that was where Percy went.

The coffee smell was coming from there and Percy could also hear somebody moving around.

He steeled himself for the embarrassment that was sure to come. He was sure that his face was impassive when he entered into a similarly bright kitchen, but this quickly changed when he saw who was standing there setting the table with cups.

At first Percy thought he was still drunk. Harry Potter hadn't been seen by anybody in the Wizarding world for years and at the Burrow nobody ever mentioned him. Percy frowned. Now that he thought about it, that was a bit strange.

Still, he cleared his throat and was surprised when Potter looked up and smiled. It had been a long time since anybody had smiled at him. Disappointment and anger on the other hand were very frequent expressions.

He tried to hide hid surprise by being polite, something he had always hidden behind when he was unsure of his surroundings. "Good morning, Potter."

Potter looked surprised at his words. Percy was still wondering why, when the solution was given to him.

"You used to call me Harry."

Percy frowned again. Did he? Probably before the whole debacle with Fudge and You Know Who and also before... he clamped down at that thought. There was no use in getting upset about it now.

The situation had come out and he couldn't change it anymore. He was just going to have to live with it.

He made an effort to relax his face and succeeded just in time to hear Harry ask: "Do you want coffee or tea?"

His answer came automatically. "Coffee."

Harry added the black liquid to both their cups and motioned for Percy to sit down. He was really quite hospitable considering Percy had just taken over his bed for the night and considering the fact he was... well, Percy Weasley.

He sat down uncomfortably. No matter how nice Harry was being, he had better not get used to it. That would only make it harder when he returned to his life, or at least what used to be his life.

He made an effort to let go of these thoughts and instead surveyed the table. It was covered in breakfast dishes, fortunately nothing that made his stomach turn from queasy to nauseous. He watched as Harry poured some milk into a bowl and then added some crunchy stuff that came from a box called Wheat Bix.

He noticed a plate and bowl in front of him as well and deducted that he was invited to eat breakfast. However, he only took a dry toast and bit into it lifelessly. It really wasn't his priority to eat. He wanted to find out what had happened last night and then disappear as quickly as possible.

"So, Percy, did you sleep well?"

He nodded slightly, not sure what Harry was getting at. Was he making fun of him? The answer came pretty quickly though.

Harry looked at him seriously. "Ah, I see you're still the silent type." He nodded to himself. "You know I really never pictured you for the kind of guy to get pissed in a Muggle pub."

He didn't let Percy even try to explain himself and instead just went on. "But then you aren't exactly the type everybody thought you were, right?" He put his spoon down and leaned forward. Involuntarily, Percy moved back. He had an idea what this was about and it couldn't be good. What was Harry playing at?

"You don't know why I left the Wizarding world, right?" Percy just shook his head. He was wondering when the derision would come and already steeled himself for it.

"I had the same problem you have."

Percy's head snapped up. There was somebody else like him? No, that couldn't be. Harry had to be talking about something different. Just what?

He seemed to be reading his thoughts. "Yes. That problem."

Percy felt himself start to shake. How had he found out? Or rather what was he going to do about it?

Again, Harry seemed to read his thoughts. If Percy had been in a proper state of mind, he would probably have realised that his face was like an open book, no sign of the impassiveness he had tried to achieve at the beginning of this conversation.

"Leaving the Wizarding world, didn't mean I also left all my friends behind. I still have contact with Hermione, Luna and Neville." His face clouded over for a moment. "Unfortunately, Ron and your family didn't see my... choice as acceptable."

Percy didn't bother to ask who those three people were. He vaguely remembered two of them as being part of the group that had broken into the Ministry years ago, something that he had had to work on afterwards. And Hermione Granger still was a friend of Ron, even though he had seen more of her at the Ministry than at home.

But what was Harry trying to tell him? Then for the first time, he replayed everything Harry had just said. He had had the same problem as Percy had? But how could that be possible?

Harry continued his monologue. "When I realised that I would never have a chance in the Wizarding world, being the way I am, I decided that I would move to the Muggle world. After all, I wasn't really missing anything... I had already lost most of my friends and my NEWTs hadn't been good enough to start working as an Auror anyway."

Percy still remembered. It had been the talk of the Ministry for days that the great Harry Potter had only got two NEWTs, and that in Defence and Care of Magical Creatures. Fudge had laughed about him for days.

"Percy, are you listening to me?"

Percy jerked out of his thoughts. He really had to do something about this problem of his absent-mindedness. He reacted irritated. "Yes, I am. However, I don't know why you're telling me all this."

Harry looked at him imploringly. "Because Hermione is worried about you."

Hermione Granger was worried about him? She certainly didn't show it. But then associating with somebody like him would decrease any chances she had in climbing the ladder in the Ministry; it was hard enough with her being Muggleborn and all.

"Yes, Hermione." Was Harry a mind reader? "Of course she heard about your problem and she also noticed that you can't find a new job after you were fired at the Ministry. And she also noticed that you spend a lot of your time drinking yourself into oblivion in Muggle pubs."

Percy scowled. That was not what he had been doing, he had just... "I don't drink myself into oblivion! I only... I..."

Harry had the gall to nod at him. "Drink yourself into oblivion, exactly." He crossed his arms over his chest. "So, Hermione thought it would be a good idea for you to try something different."

"Hermione thought? What has Hermione got to do with my life?"

Harry shrugged. "Nothing really. But you know her. She always makes other people's life her business."

"So what does Hermione think I should do?"

Harry grinned. "Good, that you already give up. Wouldn't stand a chance against her anyway." Percy wondered if he hadn't noticed the sarcasm in his voice, but he probably only hadn't reacted to it. "So, Hermione thought you should consider moving into the Muggle world."

Percy gaped. He should do what? He couldn't move into the Muggle world! He had lived as a wizard his whole life - he couldn't just change that. True, at the moment he was having a few problems, but he couldn't just throw everything away. That was his life they were talking about! He had responsibilities. There had to be a reason that he had been the best student of his year!

"I can't do that!"

"Well, of course not right away. You could test it for a while."

Percy lifted his eyebrows. "Test it?"

"Yes. My sofa can be used as a bed and then I could introduce you to Muggle life. You did take Muggle Studies at school, right?"

Percy nodded. This idea was insane.

"See? So it won't be too difficult. Once you get used to it you can see about getting a schooling license from the Ministry and then finish your Muggle education." Percy was surprised. That was possible? "I did that myself. And you've always been a good student, so even if you have to work part-time, you should still be fine." He leaned closer. "And be honest. Do you really want to live the same life you've lived for the last months for the rest of your life?"

He sat back and looked at Percy expectantly. As if Percy would just jump at the chance! There was so much to think about. He noticed Harry getting up and lighting a cigarette. Percy could see him inhaling the smoke, but his mind drifted off once again.

As if Percy could just leave his whole life! He had never had anything to do with Muggles and he had... responsibilities. He hadn't worked all those years, just so he could give up now and start all over again. Do his school education again! That was insane! He couldn't. It just wasn't possible. He was Percy Weasley and he would not give up this easily! And as if he was dependent upon the goodwill of somebody he hadn't seen in years, had barely talked to in ten years. He was going to show everybody that he wasn't the monster everybody thought he was. He was going to do this on his own!

Percy stood up. His impassive demeanour had returned. "Thank you for the offer, but I think I'll go now. I'm sure my parents are already worried." He didn't look back when he walked out the door, otherwise he would have seen the amused look in Harry's face.


Percy went down the stairs quietly. From the kitchen he could hear the voices of his family, loud and boisterous as usual. How any one of them could make out what the other was saying was beyond him.

He opened the door without making a sound. He had become good at that. Still catching the last words from one of the twins, "... absolutely soaked." and the laughter that followed, he felt his skin prickle uncomfortably when every noise died as he sat down.

He could feel their eyes on him eyeing him as if he was going to start throwing Avada Kedavra around any moment. Feel their stares drilling into him, asking him what he was doing here, why he was interrupting their good time. Why couldn't he just leave?

Percy tried to ignore their looks, their unasked questions and instead hid behind his usual mask of impassiveness. There was nothing new to this. Ever since The Incident, he had been treated like this. And really, if he thought about it, even before he had never been comfortable, had never felt at ease around his family.

Still, he tried to act normally, not show them any weaknesses. This was the last place he had, he would just have to endure it.

He quickly looked up, then down again, asking in a falsely cheerful voice: "Could you please pass me the salt, Fred?" At least he was pretty sure that it was Fred he was sitting next to. Not that it mattered. They both hated and treated him like he was a waste of space, why should he feel bad about not knowing them apart.

No salt was being thrown his way. Apparently, he even wasn't acknowledged anymore. He looked right at the twin next to him this time, intending to ask again, but his brother moved away quickly, not meeting his eyes, none of his usual jokes or even teasings on his lips, only contempt in his eyes.

Great, they weren't even going to look at him anymore. Perhaps afraid of being contaminated by whatever they thought he had done that night. He looked closer, absently noticing that the whole table was following his movements, and found that it wasn't only the usual disdain in Fred's eyes, but something more. What... fear?

He almost laughed when he realised his obnoxious little brother was afraid of him. It was either that or cry, but he kept his facial muscles in check, he had had enough training doing that after all. Still, he couldn't stay here.

The chair scraping against the floor echoed loudly in the noiseless room, as did the ringing of his voice. "For Merlin's sake, Fred! I'm hardly going to... to ambush my own brother! At the kitchen table no less!"

He left as quickly and quietly as he had come, locking the door to his room. His last heaven from the hell his life had become.


"Well, Mr. Weasley," the manager looked at him over his half-moon glasses, "I see that you are absolutely qualified for the job. Rather more than we expected actually." He threw a smile at Percy. "But that's nothing that we will let stand in our way, won't we?"

Percy tersely nodded and tried to smile just as jovially as Mr. Bumbleton, the manager of the 'Bottoms Up - Cauldrons In All Materials And Sizes' in Diagon Alley.

"I'm only waiting for the owl from the Ministry with your recent records-" he must have noticed the worried look on Percy's face, "- don't worry. It's a pure formality. Couldn't hire a murderer after all!" He laughed again.

Percy smiled back, even though he felt as if he had suddenly been dunked into ice water. He had thought this was finally going to work, a small shop, tucked away in a corner of the Alley and an old manager who looked as if he hadn't seen the outside since the riots of '64.

He almost left before the manager could get his record, spare himself at least some embarrassment, but just then a small brown owl tapped at the window, carrying a file with the official Ministry seal on it.

Mr. Bumbleton gave another one of his brilliant smiles and hurried to the window. "Here we are. Let me just give it a quick once over and then we can get to the signing of the contract."

He pushed his glasses further up his nose and started to read, nodding from time to time, smiling all the while. After a while he paused and said: "Really, Mr. Weasley, your achievements are impressive. I'm never going to understand why the Ministry let you go."

Percy didn't answer; instead he watched on, feeling dread coil in his stomach, and finally coming to a stop when Mr. Bumbleton turned to the last page.

Percy felt like watching a Quidditch accident. Too bad to look at, but at the same time unable to look away. He saw Mr. Bumbleton's smile fade, turning into a grimace, finally looking at Percy with a fearful little glance and eventually crumpling the parchment in his hand and banishing it with a flick of his wand.

A small feeling of hope began to unfold in Percy, perhaps he had finally found somebody who didn't care about... it.

Then his hope was dashed when Mr. Bumbleton squared his shoulders and turned to him. He cleared his throat. "Well, Weasley, there were some unexpected... problems..." He looked almost apologetic. "I'm sure you understand that I can't hire you under these circumstances." He moved towards Percy, hand held out to shake Percy goodbye, but in the last moment, he stopped and turned away. "I'm sure you remember where the door is, Weasley."

Percy only nodded, too numb to do anything but leave quietly. Damn the Ministry for blacklisting him!


Percy got the same responses in Eeylops Owl Emporium, the Magical Menagerie and even Borgin & Burkes. He had thought that at least the last would yield some results, and he wasn't quite sure if he would have got that job if his name wasn't Weasley. Still, it was depressing.

The way he was going he wasn't even going to get a job as the driver of the Knight Bus. After all one couldn't leave him alone with all those male guests!

He snorted as he made his way upstairs, to tired to even feel angry at his mother's disappointed frown. He hadn't asked to be like this!

Since he was small, he had always wanted to be the best, to be recognised for his achievements, and now everything had gone down the drain.

His marriage with Penelope had been a disaster from the beginning to the end and if he was truthful, he was glad that he didn't have to fulfil his marital duties anymore. And hadn't that been the first sign?

Percy opened the door to his room and laid down on his bed.

The first sign of his destruction. He had thought all his worries and feelings had been normal, only to find out that he was far from normal. Of course, he had also noticed before that his tastes were somewhat... eccentric, but he had tried to suppress it as much as possible and blend into the life he had planned to live.

Only his plan hadn't worked out. Over the years, the relationship with Penelope had become strained, had contained less and less love and more habit. In the end, they had only lived their own lives, barely interacting with one another and certainly not sharing their bed.

He still felt horrified when he remembered those nights were they had tried, but he just couldn't function. He had never felt so humiliated in his life, not even when the twins had strung up half his underwear in the Gryffindor common room in their second year.

Eventually, Penelope had been the first to utter those devastating words, telling him he just didn't find her sexy... or perhaps no women at all. Of course, she hadn't known how true that idea, shouted in the middle of an argument, was.

That had been the beginning of he end for him. For days and weeks after their last argument, Percy had sat brooding, thinking about what his wife had said, what he felt, what he knew.

In the end, no amount of thinking had been able to help him.

His biggest mistake in the whole affair had been to think that he could keep it quiet. He had thought if he was just hard-working enough, if he loved his family enough everything would be fine.

Then Penelope had left him.

She had been very decent about the whole thing, hadn't told a soul about his problem, had only told everybody that they just didn't match anymore and that she was only glad they didn't have children who would suffer under a divorce.

He hadn't taken the whole thing so calmly and had drunk himself into a stupor. He had never drunk a lot before and within an hour he was so oblivious to anything around him that he didn't even stop to think before he hit on one of the guys in the bar. Within days, everybody knew that Percy Weasley was a wandbanger.

At first the whispers during his work had only been annoying, until he was ordered to meet his Head of Department. He had been informed that his contract had been revoked because of indecent behaviour and he was going to be blacklisted.

His Head of Department had assured him that his listing wouldn't have any repercussions. It was only a preventive measure to insure that with his unhealthy behaviour he couldn't work in a hospital or school or wherever else helpless people were vulnerable to his personality disturbance.

Percy snorted when he remembered how naive he had been. He had thought with his experience other employers would fight to have him in their business, instead he had to walk from door to door and ask for a job. It was humiliating.

His family had reacted less than well, much less. He had had to move into the Burrow and while his parents reluctantly accepted him back, the atmosphere was almost suffocating. His parents didn't talk to him and only looked at him disappointedly, his brothers avoided him as much as possible and when they met they looked at him with distrust.

He didn't know what else he could do.

Hermione thought you should consider moving into the Muggle world.

He hadn't even thought about taking Harry up on his offer, but was there really anything else he could do? Was there any form of decent life for him in the Wizarding world?

Do you really want to live the same life you've lived for the last months for the rest of your life?

No, he didn't. He couldn't. Was his only chance really in the Muggle world? A world he, even though he was the son of Muggle-fanatic Arthur Weasley, didn't know nearly enough about to live in. A world he had condescendingly thought of as somewhat primitive, as something interesting to study, as something that he would never actually have to use.

I had the same problem you have.

Could Harry really help him? He had lived as a Muggle before he ever came to Hogwarts after all. Would it be possible for Percy as well? Was he flexible enough to change his whole life?


In Percy's ears, his knock sounded loud enough to bring the whole house down around him. He stood nervously in front of Harry's flat, wishing at once that he would open the door and that he wasn't at home.

He was clutching a bag with some spare clothes and his toiletries to him, but other than that he had only brought the few galleons he still had, hoping that he wouldn't have to rely on Harry's charity.

Then the door opened and in front of him stood a smiling Harry Potter, his smile brightening even more when he saw who was in front of his door. Percy hadn't been greeted this friendly in ages.

"Percy, hi. Good to see you." He looked Percy up and down, noticing the bag he was carrying. "Come on in. " He moved away from the door and motioned Percy to follow him. "I suppose you changed your mind about my offer." It wasn't even a question.

Percy cleared his throat, trying to get his equilibrium back. "Er, yes. I would very much appreciate it if you could show me around a bit. I don't think that Muggle Studies at Hogwarts really focused on the everyday life of Muggles but more on eccentricities, philosophy and history." There that hadn't sounded too dependent.

He was lead into the living room, from where he could see the passage to the kitchen. Harry plopped down on a couch. "Come on, Percy. Sit down. You're going to live here fore the next time, so it will be best of you make yourself at home."

Percy perched on the edge of the couch. If he was to make himself feel at home, he was going to be extremely uncomfortable, but it would be better not say anything about that.

Now that he was here, he suddenly didn't remember the carefully planned reasoning he had developed. He didn't want Harry to know how desperate he really was, after all hadn't he always been the one who had thought he would one day be Minister of Magic? How humiliating was it to be dependent upon his parents to support him when he was almost thirty? And now to be dependent on a basic stranger?

However, Harry made him feel more at ease right away. "Okay, I don't think you're really into this whole partying and dancing thing, right?"

"No." Still, he was getting curious. "There are places where... people like us can dance? After all, I've always enjoyed a nice waltz even if my partner didn't have the right gender."

Harry grimaced and Percy wondered if maybe he hadn't understood him correctly after all. Harry had meant that he also liked men, right?

"Er, okay, waltz... well, I thought I'd show you some cafés or book shops first. That way you don't get thrown into the cold water right away and you'll probably feel much more comfortable there." He grinned at Percy. "Of course we could also visit a pub first, give yourself some liquid courage."

Percy debated with himself for a moment, but then decided against it. Alcohol had only brought him problems so far. "Okay, whatever you think is best."



"Percy, are you okay? You look terribly constipated." Percy could feel Harry's worried eyes on him and really it wasn't that he was terribly uncomfortable; it was all just so... strange.

They were sitting in quite a big café somewhere in Covent Garden and Percy felt as if he needed about six more eyes to take in everything around him. There were obviously... eccentric men everywhere, sitting and drinking coffee - or something a bit stronger - laughing together, some even embracing and... he swallowed, kissing.

It was strange and wonderful and confusing and he couldn't believe that he could ever fit in here. He felt right and wrong at the same time; everything he had been told about men like him coming back to haunt him and at the same time he felt as if he had finally found his home. Only that he felt uncomfortable at home once again.

He looked at Harry, who seemed absolutely relaxed here. He was holding a cigarette loosely and looking at the other patrons as well, but he also threw Percy concerned glances from time to time, probably making sure he hadn't fled yet.

He remembered Harry's question and tried to smile reassuringly. He didn't think he quite succeeded. "I'm fine. Just a little too much all at once."

Harry smiled understandingly and nodded. He leaned closer and started to talk. "You remember Malcolm Baddock?"

Percy thought for a moment, but the name didn't rings any bells. He shook his head.

"He was in Hogwarts three years below me, a Slytherin. He used to work with Hermione in the Committee on Experimental Charms. She also sent him to me, asking me to show him around the Muggle world a bit. You can imagine coming from a Pureblood Slytherin family and having grown up with their values, the whole thing was extremely difficult for him."

Percy was intrigued despite himself. "What happened to him?"

Harry smiled. "He studies law at university. It's almost certain he's going to work in a small solicitor's office that specialises in minority rights."

Percy was impressed. Becoming a lawyer wasn't an easy feat and if somebody even more hindered than himself had managed to survive in the Muggle world, he would be able to do it as well. Distractedly, Percy wondered how many valuable worker and brilliant minds the Magical world had already lost because of their close-mindedness, but then Harry brought him out of his thoughts.

"We can meet him sometime if you like."

"Yes, I would like to do that." He paused for a moment. "So, you have done this kind of thing before?"

Harry shrugged. "A few times. There're more of us in the Wizarding world than you'd think." He waved the hand with the cigarette in front of his face. "If only there were enough to change something about the situation."

Percy didn't miss the wistfulness in Harry's voice. "Do you terribly miss doing magic?"

Harry looked surprised for a second, then he explained. "Living in the Muggle world doesn't mean that I can't do any more magic." Percy was surprised. He had assumed he would have to give up magic completely. "You only have to be more careful. For example you can't have magical stuff lying around your flat when friends come over. And you always have to remember that for Muggles it takes longer to get from one point to another. So for example if you're meeting a friend in West Ham and then are supposed to meet another friend in the City, you need to leave enough time between the dates that you could have got there by Muggle transportation."

Percy let those words work through his thoughts, thinking how complicated it was going to be if he was really going to achieve this. However, he felt more happy than he had in a long time. He hadn't been looked at strangely the whole day, so he certainly was going to try. Something being difficult had never deterred him.


Their next stop was a book shop in Holborn where Harry wanted to get him some books on homosexual culture and show him around. At first he had protested against Harry getting him anything, but Harry had quickly shushed him and only told him that he would read the books as well, so he wasn't getting them for Percy, but Percy was getting them with Harry and then he would be lending them to him.

Percy hadn't been a hundred percent convinced, but in the end he had let Harry do what he wanted.

They entered the shop. Horrified, Percy backed away when a flurry and colourful... something stormed at them and almost jumped Harry.

"Oh, Harry! So good to see you! You haven't been here in ages!" Percy watched aghast, as the... man blew kisses onto both of Harry's cheeks. He was holding him by his arms and beaming at him. Then he noticed Percy and cocked his head at him. "And who is this handsome fellow?"

He stuck one hip out and put his hand on it.

Harry gave a small laugh. "Derek, may I introduce Percy to you. He's quite new here, so don't frighten him off, okay?"

Derek lightly brandished his hand in front of Harry's face. "Me? Frighten him off? Never!" He held his hand out with the back upwards. "It's such a pleasure to meet you," he looked Percy up and down, while Percy awkwardly shook his hand. "Or at least it could be."

He winked at Percy and then, like some tropical storm, he was gone again.

Percy drew in a shaky breath. He leaned towards Harry. "I... I don't have to behave like him, right?" His eyes pleaded with his companion.

Harry laughed again. "No, don't worry. He's a bit... extreme. You know, guys like us are like every other person. There are some that are totally normal among and others are a bit eccentric."

He suddenly turned serious eyes at Percy. "And if somebody tells you you're not enough of a homosexual because of the way you dress or behave or anything else, just tell them to fuck off, okay?"

Percy swallowed and nodded slowly. He surely wouldn't forget such intense eyes and the words that belonged to them this moment.

Harry put his hand into the small of Percy's back and steered him towards one of the shelves. "Come on, let's have a look around."

At first Percy was extremely aware of where Harry's hand touched him and he felt as if all eyes in the shop where on him. Then he noticed that a lot of eyes actually were on him and he moved away from Harry. He didn't want to cause another scandal.

Harry stopped in front of one of the shelves with the section title 'gay culture'. Curiously, Percy looked around, only to find several other sections with the word 'gay' in them. Perhaps meant something different in the Muggle world than in the Magical. He lightly touched Harry's arm.

Harry looked up from the book he had been looking at, smiling when he saw confusion in Percy's face. "You okay? I thought in a book shop you'd know your way around."

Percy whispered back. After all he didn't want to know about his ignorance. "What does gay mean? It's here in the description of almost every section." He threw a glance around. "There are even gay cookbooks."

Harry laughed, but strangely Percy didn't feel laughed at for his ignorance, but rather anticipatory, as if he was about to be included into a joke.

"Yeah, some people go a little over the top and take everything, including themselves, way too seriously." He came to Percy's first question. "Gay simply means homosexual; especially for guys. The Wizarding world doesn't use that term?"

"No. They say either eccentric or," he lowered his voice even more, "wandbangers."

This time Harry's laugh did attract the attention of several people around them.

Percy flushed, but Harry only patted him on the shoulder and showed him the book he had been looking at. "What do you think of that one?"
They had stayed almost an hour in the shop, fortunately ignored by Derek. In the end Harry had bought two different books.

While they had been standing in line at the cash register, Percy had thrown another last look around the shop. He would have to return here sometime. Then his gaze had fallen on a stack of books that had almost glittered in the light. Percy had looked at them and almost dropped them in shook when he had seen what they were about.

"You don't need to get any of those." Harry smiled impishly. "I have several of them at home."

Percy flushed. "I... I wasn't about to buy one. I was only... looking." Then he remembered the last part of Harry's sentence. "You bought books about... g... gay intercourse?" His voice had lowered to a whisper again.

Harry hit him playfully. "Don't pretend to be so surprised! I do read occasionally, especially if the topic is so interesting," he answered in a suggestive tone. "But I didn't buy those. They were my eighteenth birthday present from Hermione." He winked at Percy. "You can have a look at them later."

Percy shook his head. He would never have pegged Hermione Granger to buy books about... that topic.

"You look worried. Is something the matter?"

He looked up at Harry. "No problems. Just a lot for one day." He took a sip from his drink and thought for a moment. He had been wondering about something. "You said that you still had contact with Hermione, the Longbottom boy and Luna Lovegood, why did they keep in contact with you? I didn't think you had that much to do with them at Hogwarts - except Hermione, of course."

Harry sat his glass of... cake, no coke down and settled in for what looked like a lengthy response. "Well, Hermione was a given. For one she grew up in the Muggle world and had a pretty liberal attitude anyway." He grinned. "At least as long as it didn't have anything to do with rule breaking." He paused for a moment and looked at Percy pensively. "She was the first who I told that I was gay and she was really great about it, but she also gave me the most important lecture on how the Wizarding world viewed people like us. If it hadn't been for her, everybody in Magical Britain would probably hate me, because I wouldn't have kept my mouth shut."

Percy could imagine that. Harry had always been very vocal about his beliefs, without being sensible about who he told.

"Luna was a totally different story. She was wizard raised and I didn't tell her anything. One day she simply looked at me and asked if I ever had considered trying to date a boy instead of a girl." He shrugged his shoulders. "I never really talked to her about it, but I think because she herself isn't what you would call normal, she also doesn't care if the people around her aren't. Or she simply believes in so many things other wizards and witches don't that she has become extremely good at building her own opinions and not listening to what everybody else has to say." He took another sip from his glass and breathed deeply.

Percy could just look at him and feel a little envious. Harry had kept three close friends through this whole disaster and he hadn't even managed to have his family on his side.

"Neville found out by accident." Harry gave a short laugh. "He literally stumbled upon me when he was walking through London." He gave a rueful smile. "I should know better than to go about kissing guys near the entrance to St. Mungo's." He looked at Percy. "At first I was terrified that he was going to tell everybody." He shook his head. "I should have known better. He has been called something or other all his life and he is too much of a sweet person for that. He still isn't comfortable with it, and we don't have close contact, but still write letters and meet from time to time. I'm just not allowed to bring any boyfriends."

Boyfriend. Of course. Percy had never seriously thought about having a boyfriend before. He had known that he only had feelings for other men, but he had never in his dreams thought that he would one day have the possibility to actually do something about it. He had never dared to even think about it.

Now it was actually possible for him to find somebody he liked and could live with. He grinned. The possibility was elevating.

Percy started flipping through the book Harry had purchased at the shop, content to just sit silently for the moment. What he saw amazed him. From eccentric hairdressers, to eccentric doctors, to eccentric... no, gay lawyers, the list seemed endless.

He looked around the pub, still astonished at the simple presence of so many people like him. And at the same time so unlike him.

They all seemed so careless, so confident, so sure about what they wanted. There in the corner were two guys who were putting on a positively indecent display. Even from the distance, he could make out their mouths, how they were sliding together and from time to time even how hands groped furtively.

He blushed and looked away. At another table there was a group of men, all of them laughing at something or other and obviously having a good time. He couldn't remember ever doing anything like that.

The next table brought one man alone. He was alternating between staring at his glass and looking around. His gaze landed on Percy and he stared. Percy felt himself turning red at the scrutiny, and forced his eyes to look somewhere else.

He gaze landed on the group of men again and felt a stinging pain in his chest. He would never fit in here.

Almost without his own volition, he looked at the man again, seeing him still watching him. His breath started to come less easily. He looked away.

In front of him Harry was also looking around, but he seemed much more relaxed. Percy was glad that Harry wasn't one of those people who needed to talk all the time, but at the moment he would have welcomed a bit of distraction. He looked at his glass and drank the last bit from it.

He looked up once again at the man who was watching him. He felt his skin prickle uncomfortably under the stare and quickly looked away again. From the corner of his eye, he thought the man might stand up and move towards him, but he was quickly thrown out of his thoughts.

"Percy? Percy? Are you in there?"

He looked at Harry. Now he could make out the man coming towards him. He had to get out of here! "Can we go? I think I've seen enough for one day."

Harry blinked a few times, probably surprised at the abrupt request. Then he nodded. "Of course. I have to get to work soon anyway." He put out his cigarette in the ash tray and moved to stand. "We can Apparate outside. There is a hard to see place behind the pub."

They left the pub and inconspicuously moved to the back. With two small pops, Percy landed in Harry's flat and Harry a street from the zoo.



The next morning at breakfast Percy felt agitated once again. When Harry had went to work his shift at the zoo, he had sat around the flat and read through the book. It had disturbed him more than he thought it would and he had felt he would have to talk to Harry about it.

Which he did over his second cup of coffee. "I just don't understand it! I thought everything was better here." He pushed his hair back. "But then why do I have to go to gay bars and gay book shops and gay doctors and gay hairdressers?" He looked up at Harry, who looked perplexed.

"Of course, you don't have to. I just wanted to show you that all this exists. And that there are other people like us - more or less." He grinned, probably remembering Derek. "I wanted to show that you can be certain that you're welcome there." He paused for a moment and became serious. "And not everything here is as bright as it sounds. The Muggle world has its problems with gays as well. It's just not as pronounced. And the opinions are constantly changing. It's constantly getting better. And in the Wizarding world there is no change." He shrugged. "We don't get a perfect deal, but I still prefer it."

Harry lapsed into a thoughtful silence, giving Percy the time to let those words go through his head. Percy took another sip of his coffee and absently thought about the other topic that had been bothering him already yesterday.

At first he had only felt weird sitting there among those happy people, then he had realised that he couldn't relate to them at all. He had never been this way. He had always been serious, had had something to prove, had spent a lot of time on his own where it wouldn't matter how he behaved.

If yesterday had been an indicator of what this world was, he was never going to fit into it. This just wasn't where he belonged, he couldn't simply turn into somebody so... frivolous.

Even Harry, whom he remembered as a sometimes serious child, seemed to have been infected with this virus. True, he had only been here for a day, but Harry looked as if he constantly was in a good mood, going out, trying new things.

If he thought about some things written about in this book, it simply turned his stomach. He didn't want an earring; it reminded him too much of Bill. Or even one in his navel or anywhere else on his body. However, the book made it sound as if some kind of body decoration was indispensable.

He told himself that it was impossible to feel at home in a totally different world right away, it was obvious that he would have to overcome something of a culture shock first. However, did it have to be such a big shock?

He shook his head at his own rambling thoughts. He would have to find a goal and start pursuing that. This had always been a technique that had helped him in the past. He only needed an aim and then he would be an absolutely different person.

To start with that, he was going to have to find out more about what he had seen yesterday and what he could do with his future.

"I was wondering if you could tell me more about this schooling license you mentioned. I must admit I have never heard of it before."

Harry smiled at him. "I'm glad you aren't totally discouraged after yesterday. You seemed a bit panicked at the end there." He lit a cigarette. "Okay, the license is pretty easy to get. You go to the Committee for Muggle Relations and request one. Only qualification is that you're either Muggle-raised or had Muggle Studies as an OWL. Then you get a certificate, telling you that you studied at a specialised private school and were exempted from regular Muggle education. With that certificate you go to the Further Education college - doesn't matter if it's day or evening classes - and can start studying."

He shrugged his shoulders. "How long it actually takes to finish education depends on several things. How much did you know beforehand? How good are you at learning." He grinned at Percy. "I think you'll have little problems with that point. Then you have to decide if you only want to do your GCSEs or your A-Levels."

Percy looked perplexed. "What's the difference between them?"

"GCSEs are similar to the OWLs, while the A-Levels are close to the NEWTs, of course in totally different subjects than at Hogwarts." He thought for a moment. "I still have some of my books. I can show them to you and help you with any gaps you have, because at the college they only teach the last two years of GSCE preparation. Still, I did it; I'm sure you could as well."

Percy swallowed. A difficult task had never deterred him, yes, but he had never been good at being instructed by somebody else. He always enjoyed learning by himself better. With a mental sigh, he pushed that problem to the back of his mind and instead turned towards Harry again. "You didn't do A-Levels?"

Harry shook his head. "No. I was thinking about it, but while I was still deciding, I was lucky enough to find a temporary job at the zoo." He shrugged his shoulders. "I have always been good with animals and when they offered me to get a bit of a more long-term contract, I didn't say no. If I want to I can still do my A-Levels at a later point in time. At the moment I'm happy with what I do."

Percy let all of this go through his head. It was going to take him a while to get his OW... no GCSEs, because he would have to work at the same time. Harry probably had had enough money left from his parents, but he had less than ten galleons left. Still, at least he knew what way awaiting him.

Now, he only had to decide if he actually wanted to do this.

"And Percy," Harry halted for a moment. "Don't worry if you don't find a flat or job right away. You're more than welcome to live here for a while." He held his hands up, staving off Percy's protest. "I know, I know, you don't want any charity, but I know that without my parents' money, I never would have made it. And you could just consider it a loan or something if that'd make you feel better."

Percy nodded reluctantly. That really had been a problem on his mind. He continued with something else that had been on his mind since yesterday. "About the pub last night..." He faltered. How could he explain this without sounding like a total prude? "Is it expected of people like us to behave like that?"

Harry looked confused. "Like what?"

"Like... like they were crawling all over each other." He breathed deeply and suddenly all his worries about what he had seen around him and what he had read about flowed out of him. "It's just, all of them were touching and when they were... together they were holding hands and kissing and... and in the book there was a whole chapter on," he lowered his voice, even though there was nobody else to hear, "intercourse in public places."

Harry laughed and this time Percy felt laughed at. He scowled. After a moment, Harry stopped, and only interrupted by a small snicker, said: "Sorry, but your face when you talk about sex was too funny." He turned serious. "Percy, I already told you yesterday that every gay person is different, in the same way every straight person is different." He waved his hand through the air. "Some are very expressive and constantly touch and others are more reserved. There is no way to be correctly gay. You just are yourself."

"But all of this only seems to be about... copulating with as many people as possible!" Percy felt the panic from last night returning.

Harry gripped his hand over the table. "Percy, look at me. It's not all about sex. It's also about human touch and affection and caring, depending on what the different people want. Some only want a quick fuck, while others are searching for their life partner."

Percy sighed. "I just... I don't' like that. All this touching and kissing and... I'm not a very tactile person."

Harry looked at him unbelievingly. "Somehow I find that very hard to believe." He smiled. "I have met your mother. I'm sure when you were young, you got loads of hugs and kisses."

Percy looked at him, floored.

"I mean, don't try to tell me she didn't hug you when you got home with a scraped knee."

"I never had a scraped knee." He was disturbed. "All the others already constantly ruined their clothes and I knew we didn't have enough money, so I always made sure to be careful."

Harry sighed. "Okay, then she gave you a hug when you had a nightmare, right?"

"Yes." He didn't know what Harry wanted to tell him.

Harry gestured with his hands. "See, this isn't any different. It isn't all about the sex and the melodrama around that. It's just about a bit of affection."

He got up and motioned Percy to follow him. "Come on. I'm going to show you something." He walked into the living room and sat down on the sofa. He patted the seat next to him. "Here sit down. Now, you know I would never do anything to you, you don't want, right?"

Percy sat down uncomfortably and nodded.

Harry made himself comfortable. "Okay, so I'm just going to lay my arm around your waist, nothing more."

Percy nodded tersely. He could feel Harry's arms snaking around his waist and tensed. There was no way he was going to get used to this. He had always been a bit of a loner and nervous when he was together with other people. When those people wanted to touch him - not that a lot of them wanted to - it was even worse.

"Percy, relax. You sit there as if you have a broomstick up your arse." Harry bumped his shoulder against Percy's. "Let your shoulders slump a bit."

Percy wanted to protest. He didn't want a bad posture, but instead conceded. He let his shoulders drop, holding them down uncomfortably. How could everybody sit like this every day?

"Not pull them down; relax the muscles!" One hand touched his shoulder and started to move in circles, kneading the tensed muscles. He gave an involuntary sigh and let his shoulders drop. "That's it. Okay, now don't even think about my arm, just enjoy the feeling of human touch, okay?"

Percy had always been good about following orders.

He relaxed against the back of the couch. The warmth from Harry's arm around his waist was slowly spreading throughout his whole body. He leaned his head against the couch, closing his eyes and for once only listening to what his body had to say. He tried to stop thinking about the future, about what he was going to have to do, about everything, but the feeling of somebody touching him for no reason. No reason other than that he wanted to.

He sighed and could feel a smile playing across his lips. This was nice. He was going to have to do this more often.


They went on like this for the next days. During the day Harry would show him around, careful to include non-gay localities and at night he went off to work, leaving Percy to explore Harry's Muggle equipment in his flat.

His first evening he had spent watching TV, getting to know the functions of the different controls and the video recorder. He really was glad that he had always had a good memory. Simply all these technical expressions could have driven somebody else insane.

That night he was going to have a look at the kitchen appliances. The refrigerator wasn't really that different from the ice cupboards wizards used. The other things were much more complicated. However, he still remembered Harry's reasoning about him having to learn how to work with all this equipment.

"I could simply cast a grilling charm and have my toast done." He really couldn't understand the benefit of all these gadgets. He had never understood his father's fascination with them either. The wizarding way was so much easier.

"Yes, when you're alone at home. But what do you do when you have a Muggle guest? What do you say when somebody tells you to switch on the coffee maker and you don't even know what one is?" Harry looked at him seriously. "If you're really going to do this, then you have to know these things. People would think only strange the first few times, but after a while they would get really suspicious. And after all, you want to blend in as best as possible, right?"

After that explanation, he had plunged himself into his studies. He was going to know everything there was to know about Muggle technology and Muggle life.


"Come on, Percy! Work with me here!" Percy heard the words, but really, he wasn't at work, why should he work with Harry? His legs felt like somebody had hit him with a hex, but that didn't make sense at all. He shook his head. They had been in a Muggle club, there hadn't been any wizards there. Perhaps Muggles could hex people as well?

The warm body next to him felt nice. He leaned against Harry's shoulder, but the other man just wouldn't keep still. Slowly, he lifted his head of Harry's shoulder and tried to see where they were. He only saw a few blobs around him, Harry being the biggest.

Right, Harry had taken his glasses. He scanned Harry's breast pockets for his glasses, but came up empty handed. Just when he had decided to look in the back pockets of Harry's jeans, he was jostled around.

Harry had better been leading, he had never been good at dancing. But where was the music? He tried to give a few brave dance steps, brushing against the body - Harry! - next to him. Hmm, he smelled good. He snuffled at Harry's neck and tried to kiss it, surprised when he was pulled back.

"Percy! Please, just walk into the flat, okay? I'll keep hold of you so don't worry if you think you fall." He bumped into something, and then he couldn't keep his body from moving and bumped into Harry.

This felt nice. More than nice. He could suddenly feel this urge to feel more of him. Much more. He looked around. First he needed another one of those drinks. But everything was still moving. Strange. There, there was something he knew! The kitchen! He could get something to drink in the kitchen.

He moved in that direction, but something stopped him. "Wanna go!"

The grip around his waist tightened. "No, Percy. We're not going anywhere but the bedroom. And there you're going to sleep off that stuff."

Percy nodded. That sounded good. The bed was nice. Warm and soft, but sometimes it got really lonely. "You gonna sleep there with me?" He leaned against the body again. He felt great! He grinned. Better than he could ever remember.

He stumbled through the room. Why wouldn't the bloody room stand still? Oops. He giggled. He had used a bad word. He giggled some more.

Then he landed on something soft with a dull thump. Oh right, his bed. "C'mere." He held his hands out. But the blob that he knew was his Harry, just turned around. "Good night, Percy. Sleep well."

Percy pouted. Harry hadn't wanted to go to bed with him. Then he remembered something he wanted to say. "Harry, you're my best friend in the whole wide world, you know that, right?"

The blob stopped. "Yes, I know. Goodnight, Percy."



"Harry... Harry..." Ah, there. That lump over there had to be the couch with Harry on it. Percy stumbled towards the dark shape.

Then he stood in front of it. What was it again that he had wanted to do? Oh, yes. He looked down at the sleeping form of his best friend, grinning when thought about what he wanted to do.

Now, he only needed to... yes. Clumsily, he crawled onto the couch and lay down. Oh, the heat coming from Harry made him all tingly, and there, yes there was that beautiful piece of neck he hadn't been allowed to kiss earlier.

Why hadn't Harry allowed him to do that? He shook his head. Didn't matter. Now there was nothing keeping him from it. He pressed his lips down on the spot and started to thoroughly lick it. He giggled. He felt naughty. He had never been naughty.

A moan from below him, made him stop, but then he went on when nothing happened. Nothing was going to keep him from his Harry this time.

Still suckling that beautiful spot, he pushed away the sheet Harry was covered in. He whimpered. Harry slept naked. Stupid light didn't let him see everything, but still. There were two, he giggled at the word, nipples and one belly button and further down... he pushed at the sheet some more and frowned when a hand came into his field of vision. Where did that come from? It didn't belong to him.

"Percy! What the hell are you doing?"

Confused, he looked up into Harry's lovely, green eyes and grinned. He looked even better without glasses.

"Jus' wanna kiss you." He bent down to go on with his task. But Harry stopped him again. He frowned. Why wasn't he allowed to kiss Harry? "You... you don't like me?"

Harry sighed beneath him and Percy could feel the movement against his fingers; it felt good. "Percy, let's talk about this tomorrow. When this stupid drug isn't in your system anymore." Harry lifted Percy's hand away. He really didn't like him. "Now, go back to bed."

He tried to push Percy off of him, but he didn't want to. It was nice here. Warm and comfy and there was a naked Harry nearby. "No! Wanna sleep here with you." He snuggled down again.

Harry sighed again and then Percy felt all tingly when he put his arm around Percy's shoulder and pulled him closer. "Okay, but you keep your hands to yourself." Percy nodded happily and drifted off to sleep.


The next morning Percy woke when the sun shone onto his face. Had he forgotten to pull the curtains closed last night? Reluctantly, he opened his eyes and found himself staring at the sleeping form of Harry, an obviously unclad Harry.

His face heated up. How had he got here? Percy quickly scrambled from the couch, trying to put as much distance as possible between an indecently exposed Harry and himself. Really, why did he have to sleep in nothing but a sheet? A sheet that hardly covered the bare necessities.

How had he landed here anyway? He remembered the two of them going out to this club. Percy had held true to his resolution and wanted to learn everything there was to learn about Muggle life, and this had been on his list since Harry had mentioned it the first day. However, after that everything got extremely fuzzy. He hadn't drunk that much, had he? And why had he been on the couch with a naked Harry.

Belatedly, he checked his clothes. But no, he was still wearing what he had been wearing last night. He frowned in confusion. He hadn't even changed, which was really strange.

Just then Harry moved and Percy jerked his head up. He watched, embarrassed, but still unable to look away as Harry stretched and the sheet slipped even lower. Just a few more inches and he would be able to... no.

Almost giving himself whiplash, he looked back up at Harry's face. Harry's eyes were open and they were looking at him with a strange expression on his face.

Percy tried to hide his discomfiture by clearing his throat. "Good morning, Harry. I trust you slept well?"

Harry grinned at him. Had he seen through his tactic? "Yes, very well. Thank you, Percy. What about you." The grin was almost devilish now.

"Er... I think, I slept well." He had to be beet-red by now. How embarrassing.

"Oh, I'm sure you did. I've been told I make a comfortable pillow." Harry grinned and then sat up and pulled the sheet up around him. He patted the couch next to him. "Don't stand there as if you're about to be led to your execution. Sit down."

Percy perched himself on the edge of the couch-bed and looked at Harry hesitantly. What did he want to talk about, did he want to send him away? What had he done?

Harry looked at him searchingly. "Percy, do you remember what happened last night?"

Wordlessly, Percy shook his head. Harry sounded angry. Perhaps he really had to go. With a start he realised that he didn't want to. He hadn't had so much fun in his whole life, as he had had in the last week. He was seriously considering moving into the Muggle world. And know Harry would send him away. He was going to have to move back into the Burrow and be subjected to the distrustful looks of his family and he was going to have to go begging for a job somewhere and...

A touch on his arm brought him out of his panic. "Percy, look at me." Hesitantly, he glanced up. Harry had moved closer to him and looked at him worriedly. "Percy, what do you remember?"

"Are you going to send me away?" As soon as he realised what he had said, how needy he had sounded, he tried to get up, but the hand still on his arm kept him firmly in his seat. He looked at Harry slowly.

"Percy, I'm not going to send you away." He looked incredulously. "Why would I want to do that?"

Percy didn't know how he could explain his fears. He settled for just waving his hand between him and Harry and the bed and hoping that Harry would understand. Fortunately, he did.

"I certainly don't blame you for anything you did last night." He settled back again and tried to pull Percy with him. With a still careful expression, Percy settled next to him. However, he didn't dare to look at Harry. This whole thing would be either if he didn't have to see the disappointment in Harry's face. "I'm just glad that I was with you and nothing bad happened."

Percy looked at him sceptically. Percy had done Merlin-knew-what and Harry wasn't angry with him. Even more, he had been worried. Why? Percy had always taken care of himself. He had never wanted anybody to worry about him.

He quickly looked away again when Harry stretched to get his cigarettes from the table and he could see part of Harry's backside. Perhaps Harry should get dressed before they talked. However, as soon as he had leaned back and had lit his cigarette, Harry started to talk. "You remember that we went to that club, right?" He looked over at Percy and Percy quickly nodded. "Okay, do you also remember that guy who tried to chat you up?"

There had been a man who had tried to... oh, Merlin. Percy shook his head. There really had been a man who had been interested in him? He felt strange. His stomach was seemingly jumping up and down. Was he going to be sick? Perhaps the substance from last night still had an after-effect?

Harry continued. "Well, I don't know for sure, but I think he mixed something into your drink when you weren't watching." He pushed his hand through his hair. "I'm really sorry, Percy. I should have warned you about people like that."

Percy was confused. What was he sorry about? "What was it that he put into my drink?"

Harry sighed. He looked more downcast than he had all the time Percy had been here. "It must have been some kind of drug to get you into bed. You started to behave really strangely after a few sips, so I brought you home. And you were really clinging, so I suppose he wouldn't have had a hard time doing anything he wanted to you."

Percy swallowed. He had almost been... No, better not to think about it. Harry had been with him and everything had turned out fine. Except that he had made a total fool of himself. He hid his head in his hands.

The hands on his shoulders were unexpected and he jumped when he noticed them. He looked up slowly, taking in Harry's serious face. "You remember what I told you that first day?" Percy tried to remember, but Harry had told him a lot. "The thing about some people thinking you're not gay enough if you behave a certain way?"

Oh, yes. Those eyes would probably stay in his memory forever. He nodded.

"And I told you all this is bullshit. Because all people are different. There is no right way to be gay. And just like there is no right way, there is no wrong way. And just like there are good guys who are gay, there are also bad guys who are gay. Your character isn't what is influenced by your choice in sexual partners." He took a deep breath. "It's only important that you like who you are and what other people think is their problem. Because if you don't like yourself then you have a really difficult life cut out for you." Harry leaned back and again he looked at Percy with those intense green eyes. "So, I hope that you won't that one negative experience keep you from trying to change your life." He leaned back next to Percy. "Of course, only you can decide if you want to live your life here, or in the Wizarding world. I'm sure if you went back to the Wizarding world you could change many things, but I don't know if that would be the best for you. Only you can know that." He made to stand up, but turned to Percy once more. "However, I really hope you'll stay. I enjoy having you here."

Then he went towards the bathroom. Percy was so perplexed and... touched he didn't even blush staring after a naked Harry.

He hadn't even thought about giving up just because of the incident last night. He had feared that Harry wouldn't want him here anymore; and he still hadn't told him what had happened later on! However, as Harry wasn't opposed to his presence, he certainly wouldn't give up this chance.

Since he had been young, he had always fought for everything he wanted. He had always succeeded despite the odds. He had been a prefect even though the twins constantly ridiculed him about it. He had been Head Boy despite the crisis he had had about his... tastes that year. He had worked his way up the Ministry even though he had been hindered by preconceptions about the Weasleys. He had survived despite the hatred he had been subjected to.

He was going to do this as well. Despite his reservations at first, he had found he liked it. He liked Harry's company. He liked to learn something about a totally new culture. He had never felt so much part of something ever before. Here he wasn't just Percy Weasley, third son of Molly and Arthur Weasley and all-around failure, but somebody totally new. After he had experienced this he knew he couldn't go back to the distrustful looks and hurtful words or the even more hurtful silences.

He swallowed. That was it, wasn't it? That was his decision. He was going to stay. Tomorrow he was going to start his new life. First he had to go to the Burrow and get the rest of his possessions and then he had to get the last of his money from Gringotts. Finally, the Ministry to get his schooling license. Then he was going to continue learning. He was going to be the best magical Muggle anybody had ever seen.


"...and the inverse function of ex is ln(x)?"

"Yes, Percy. C'mon. You know your math. Just relax and everything will be fine." Harry moved behind Percy, who was sitting stiffly in a kitchen chair. He started to massage the muscles in Percy's shoulders.

However, he just couldn't relax. Today was the first day of his GCSEs and he wanted to do well. Since Hogwarts he had almost forgotten how stressful a day full of exams could be, but now he was reminded of it. Mathematical functions were flying through his head, sometimes colliding with literary terms and dates, so that whenever he remembered one and couldn't directly place it, he would shoot out of his chair and run to the appropriate book to check.

He looked at his watch. Only ten more minutes until they would leave. He tried to relax, but the slackening of his muscles just wouldn't come.

Percy got up for the sixth time in three minutes and went over to the couch. Harry followed him and sat down beside him. With a small sigh, Percy snaked his arm around Harry's waist and had to smile when Harry did the same. This had always helped him to relax in the last two and a half years.

He closed his eyes and leaned his head against the couch. Even though he was nervous, he felt happy. He knew he had come a long way in the last years.

In the evening he had been busy studying for his GCSEs and during the day he worked in the book shop Harry had taken him to the first day. He was so glad that he had dared that final step towards a totally new life.

His new life that included not having to be afraid of one's own family or having to hide his true nature. His new life that had yielded a different side of his nature, he had never acknowledged before. A side that was full of laughter and happiness and that sometimes even overrode his usual serious side. However, most of all, he appreciated the new life that included a handsome, clever and charming boyfriend.

The afore-mentioned boyfriend leaned over him and started to place light kisses over his face. Percy smiled even broader.

"I thought I would give you something else to think about for the last five minutes." Then he proceeded to place his mouth against Percy's and sneaked his tongue into Percy's mouth.

Percy savoured the well-known feeling of Harry against him. He moved his arm from around Harry's waist to his neck and tangled his fingers in Harry's hair. In return, he could feel how Harry moved one hand from Percy's shoulder to lean it against his chest.

Eventually, Percy reversed roles and his tongue snaked into Harry's mouth, playing with its companion it found there. He groaned. Somehow, he always got lost in Harry's kisses.

A chime brought him out of his bliss. He wrenched his mouth from Harry's and turned around to look at the clock on the wall. Damn! He shot up and was on his way to the door, before Harry had even pulled himself up from the floor. "Come on, Harry! We're already five minutes late!"

Harry muttered something, but then he followed Percy out the door. Outside, Percy took his hand and together they set off to the examination centre. Percy smiled. The old Percy Weasley would never have been almost too late for an exam because he was too caught up snogging.
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