The Kids These Days Are Alright
By: Yidkirkin of the Warhammer
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
Percy and Zetton settled into a quiet routine once the Ministry was sorted out around the middle of July. Zetton worked part time for the school as a janitor during the summer months in order to keep a paycheck while his program wasn't in session, and while he didn't love the job he didn't hate it either. Percy became used to working for the new Minister, Rufus Scrimgeour, and so far it was both a similar and different experience to how it had been under Fudge; he worked less hours in general and didn't have to pick up after Scrimgeour (he was far from incompetent), but the man was by no means as lax as Fudge was and so Percy often found himself overworked if he took even a minute longer on his breaks than he was allotted.
Kingsley Shacklebolt had written back within days, sceptical at best but willing to accept any future letters Percy wanted to send, not promising anything beyond passing his reports along. This was the response Percy had anticipated mostly –the letter he wrote back contained some lesser known information on individuals that he suspected the Order would find interesting.
About two weeks of silence had been Penelope's tipping point, at which time she actually did punch Percy square in the nose before demanding he add a few of her own wards to all three of the apartments she wanted safe. Percy had followed her orders as gracefully as he could manage with his nose aching so badly (but he really was grateful that he hadn't lost her trust completely), and once he had updated them so that even Flitwick would have a difficult time getting in, Penelope had healed the break, pat him on the back and took it upon herself to plan out when she would meet Zetton.
And at home, Percy and Zetton went along at their own pace.
Their everyday didn't change much, in retrospect, after getting their feelings for one another out in the open. They drank less alcohol in the evenings and watched more movies on the weekends, they went to the grocers together more often than not and held hands on the way back if they didn't have too many bags to carry. When they got out of the house to go on dates they frequented family run restaurants or community events, once or twice taking the train out of the city for the day since Zetton still hadn't seen much of the U.K. outside of London. For that matter, neither had Percy.
Percy talked less about his family issues as the weeks went on, and more about his day at work or the new coworkers he was trying to be friendly with at the office. Zetton felt lonely sometimes, so far from his family still, but had an easier time consoling himself than he might have if things hadn't turned out so well. They both had their spats, and things they were stubborn about changing or talking about, and their respective bedroom doors still remained closed. But Zetton made an effort to seek him out, and Percy tried to be optimistic even when things were difficult, and so in the end they never stayed mad for very long.
August came along, and Percy introduced Penelope to Zetton.
September, and while Percy quietly fretted over his siblings and Zetton familiarized himself with the new classes of students, Zetton called his mother and told her about him and Percy for the first time.
October brought frustration –increased Death Eater activity put Percy on edge and he was called away at all hours for a short while, after a Hogwarts student was hurt by a cursed necklace. Zetton wanted (but never managed to mention at that moment) that he was interested in exploring different avenues for intimacy, and Percy's stress only compounded his own. October was quiet in a tense sort of way, and bled gradually into November, when they finally had a moment free of worry.
Zetton hated that he felt so out of depth, but as he looked over to Percy sitting beside him, laughing at the movie that Zetton couldn't make himself pay attention to, he decided that feeling like this wasn't so bad as never getting to. Swallowing his nerves, he tugged gently on Percy's fingers until the redhead glanced over, looking so relaxed right now that it was almost as if the past few weeks of tension hadn't happened.
Percy's eyes were wide as Zetton kissed him, and his nails dug into the back of Zetton's knuckles while he grasped at his forearm tightly with his free hand. His ears had gone as red as his hair and his freckles a stark white, and Zetton could hear his own blood rushing in his ears as the clumsy, spontaneous kiss ended and he pulled away. Percy shivered and Zetton noticed that he had a small scabbing cut on the side of his jaw from shaving that morning, and Zetton wanted to kiss him again but also felt like he would be happy with just this –it was an odd disparity that he couldn't ever remember experiencing before.
Something warm and fluttery bubbled up in Zetton's brain when Percy said his first name, mostly relief –at the fact that Percy seemed inclined to go along with this shift in intimacy, and the inner domestic in him that had recently been toying around with the idea of asking Percy to use it.
"I've been thinking about doing that for a while." Zetton told him, grinning a bit bashfully. "You're in charge, though. I only want to kiss you again if you're fine with that, and I'm not looking to go any further."
Percy stared at him for a long moment, his expression vulnerable and assessing Zetton for something, and then he hiccupped giddily and leaned in. This kiss was far slower, and while he kept his left hand entwined with Percy's, Zetton lifted his right so that it rested at the junction of the redhead's neck and shoulder, running his thumb along Percy's jaw. Percy hummed in the back of his throat and smiled like he couldn't help himself, and after they drew away the atmosphere stayed languid and sweet for hours.
Percy went to his childhood home in December, intending to try and at least tell his mother that he was doing fine after all these months on his own. While Scrimgeour partook in his attempted political machinations concerning Harry Potter, Percy stood stiffly in the now foreign kitchen of the Burrow, with his mother alternately fussing over him and calming herself down and the rest of the Weasleys staring at him like he had a Dark Mark inked into his skin.
"Mum..." He started, getting more uncomfortable by the minute; she started and tried to get him to sit down and have some dinner with them, but he gently refused, not sure how long Scrimgeour would want to stay. He could hear his siblings muttering unkindly and he thought about the letters he sent to Shacklebolt every few weeks that they would never know about. His father tensely inquired on his job and replied vaguely when Percy asked in turn, and he thought about the months now that he had been struggling on his own, and all the time he had wasted caring about when this exact moment would come along.
"Oh, P-Percy, I found this –you left it when you m-moved out." His mother said, pulling him slightly closer to the living room while still staying in the kitchen. She pulled his old Gryffindor red notebook from underneath the cutlery drawer, and smiled a little wobbly when he took it and thanked her. "How... how are you doing?"
They were still mostly within earshot of his siblings and father, but it almost felt a bit more secure, speaking to her by the sink rather than within inches of muttering and wand tips.
"Better, Mum. It's... I've missed you, but I think it was good that I moved out." Molly sniffed but nodded in agreement or maybe just in acknowledgement. "And I've. Th-That is to say, I am –s-seeing so-"
Percy stopped talking completely at the glob of food that struck him on the left side of his face, going ramrod straight at the snickers from the table. His temper flared –couldn't they see he was trying to be civil? –and he whirled around to yell at them when the words died on his tongue. If it had been Fred or George he might have been amenable to staying, it was expected they would do something like that and not think of what he was doing when they did. But they were the ones snickering, and it was Ginny who was putting her wand back on the table.
He took a breath, held it for a moment... and turned around to face his mother. "Goodbye, Mum. I love you." With that said, he ignored all else and didn't even pause to wipe the mush off of his face before he stormed out of his childhood home without another word.
It was fine. As long as his mother knew he didn't hate her, it was worth it.
Of course, thinking this didn't stop him from having a bit of a breakdown as soon as he got back to the Ministry and got away from Scrimgeour for five minutes, shuddering over a sink in the Nurses' Ward before he could calm down enough to get back to work. He trudged through the hours left of paperwork he needed to do and then apparated back home as soon as he clocked out, landing in a supply closet on the first floor.
When he got back up to the apartment he toed off his shoes, threw his bag onto his bed and changed into his nightclothes, and then he stepped across the hall to knock on Zetton's door. He answered after a minute, hair dishevelled and sans glasses, but he smiled down at him like Percy was the only one he wanted to see right now; and that was just what Percy needed.
"Can I sleep in here with you? Please."
Zetton smiled, surprised, and nodded while he took a step back to let Percy into his cluttered and dimly lit room. Percy vaguely remembered when he had slept in it while drunk, but right in that moment he was so exhausted that he only waited for Zetton to lay back down before he crawled into bed beside him. It was very warm next to Zetton since he was practically a living furnace, and Percy let out a sigh of contentment as Zetton draped an arm around his middle in a both familiar and foreign move.
"Bad day at work?" Zetton asked quietly after a few minutes, and Percy shook himself out of his light doze to answer.
"Long. I saw my family today, but I don't think anyone but my mother is very inclined to let me go back even if I wanted to." Percy hadn't been this close to someone else since those few times that he and Penelope had fallen asleep together when they had dated. It was so warm, and he felt himself burrowing closer without even thinking about it, sighing out again when Zetton's grip got snugger. "My sister flung mashed parsnips in my face..."
"Aw, kawaisou ni." Zetton said teasingly, though in his sleepy haze Percy couldn't remember what it meant. "You don't seem too torn up about it."
"I was earlier, but I've had some time to cool down. I'm not going to feel bad about decisions I've made anymore." Percy eyelids went heavy again, and he smiled. "We should get to sleep, we both have to be up early tomorrow."
Percy decided to tell Zetton about magic the day after New Years.
They had gone out to a local bar for the night with a few of Zetton's work colleagues, Penelope, and Tanner, and had returned only an hour after midnight once the party died down enough that they felt like it was the right time to go. Both of them had the next two days off work, so they collapsed exhausted in Zetton's room and slept until nearly into the afternoon, at which time Zetton suggested they rearrange and clean the apartment while they had the time.
Percy was agreeable, having been mulling over when exactly to tell the other about this part of himself for the past few weeks, and this seemed as good an excuse as any. He was nervous about Zetton's reaction, of course he would be, but he would rather tell Zetton himself than have him find out at random or at a bad time, or worse start to get suspicious of why he wasn't allowed in Percy's room. So on their second day off Percy made breakfast, didn't talk much until they had finished eating, and then over coffee mustered up the courage to actually say it.
"I've got something to tell you that might be a bit of a shock." Percy said, and Zetton hummed in thought before pointing at him like he had already figured it out.
"You're really the son of the pirate king."
"Sorry, sorry, just a joke. I'm listening, go ahead." Percy huffed a laugh and nervously set his wand on the table –Zetton stared at it, puzzled.
"I'm... I'm a wizard, I can do magic. I'm sorry I didn't tell you before, but I've always been taught that it isn't something to reveal lightly, if at all." Zetton's eyes slid from the wand to Percy's face and back a few times while Percy's ears steadily went redder and redder. "I can show you if you want...?"
"That might be good?" Zetton sounded highly confused. Percy picked his wand up and thought for a second about what would make the best impression while not being too much. With a flourish he pointed at the butter dish and made the painted daffodils on the lid burst into life, fluttering like they were caught in a breeze and a bright, cheery yellow. Zetton jolted and leaned away briefly, but once the flowers had settled down he looked closer in curiosity –already taking this better than some of the subjects of scare-stories he had been told as a boy.
"Huh." Zetton sounded stumped.
"I... I really am sorry, for not telling you. I just wanted to be careful." Zetton looked up from the dish with a discerning gleam in his eye and reached for Percy's free hand without pause.
"Hey, it's fine. It's fucking crazy don't get me wrong, but I understand." Percy squeezed Zetton's hand in response. "Have people reacted bad to it before?"
"Loads. Have you read about witch-burnings?" Percy set the butter dish back to normal, the strangest feeling bubbling up in his chest when he saw Zetton watching in interest. "Well, after that we went into hiding so it didn't happen again. There's all sorts of laws and things about what to do if people without magic find out or if they don't react well. My family takes it all especially seriously –I only have one non-magic relative right now, a second cousin, and we've never even m-m-met..."
"I'm sorry, I don't –I'm just so relieved I suppose." Percy sniffed, wiping his cheeks with the end of his sleeve. "I didn't really think you would take it badly, but I've just heard so many horror stories... and I've never had to tell anyone before now."
In lieu of saying anything, Zetton simply walked around the table and pulled Percy up into a hug –something he was slowly getting more comfortable with as the months went by –and they stayed that way for a long time. Eventually though, Zetton decided to try and lighten the mood by urging that they get started with cleaning; Percy laughed when he insisted that he should 'show him some fancy stick tricks now that it isn't a big secret'.