There are three things that Godric particularly dreads hearing: one, you need to go on a celery and water diet, two, you'll be wearing gold lame and platforms for this shoot and three, you'll be working with Salazar Slytherin.
When his agent calls to tell him he's been booked for a big shoot, he's so happy he could kiss her. Probably with tongue, even. When she follows up with the fact he'll be working with Salazar, he briefly considers firing her. Instead, he starts praying to whatever deity will listen that platform shoes aren't involved in any possible way.
He'd met Salazar once before, when he was just starting out as a model - eighteen, impressionable and looking for something more exciting than boring himself half to death at university. It was at a party, the kind where everyone is served champagne and canapes from waiters in tuxes and discusses philosophy, modern art and 'the greats'. Godric still isn't sure who or what the greats are, but there's a point in every one's career where they can't afford to say no to any social gathering. Even the stupid ones.
He'd scraped through it by keeping his mouth shut and looking pretty, by taking regular cigarette breaks on the balcony with Helga, who hated it just as much as he did. At least, he'd scraped through it until he made the mistake of bothering to talk to Salazar.
"Hey," he'd said, leaning back against the railings. Salazar hadn't even acknowledged him, just stared down at his lilac (lilac) champagne like it had personally offended him. "This party's ridiculous."
"My best friend's hosting it." He'd looked up then, the scowl directed now to Godric. "Rowena."
"Sorry, mate," Godric replied. He held his palms up, grinned and hoped to God that his puppy dog eyes work. "It's just a bit weird when I'm asked whether I want my champagne in sky blue or mint." Salazar didn't reply to that, just moved towards the big French doors. Before he'd stepped back into the flat, he'd glanced over his shoulder at Godric.
"Some of us appreciate uniqueness," he'd said. By the time Godric had stopped snorting with laughter, Salazar had disappeared off. To appreciate uniqueness, or what the fuck ever pretentious arseholes did. When he'd relayed the conversation to Helga, she'd just shrugged and replied with "that's Salazar".
Godric had made a point to avoid him ever since.
Godric is almost late to the shoot; too late getting out of bed, too many people on the tube, not enough coffee to function and because life seems to be punishing him for something, Salazar is standing outside the studio, leaning against the wall with a cigarette in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.
"You're late," he says, dropping the cigarette to the floor, crushing it beneath the heel of his biker boots. Godric tries not to think about how the front of his (bloody expensive) trainers are scuffed.
"Good morning to you too." Salazar swings the door open, holding it for a moment to let Godric past.
The ride in the lift is the single most uncomfortable experience of Godric's life.
There's a cup of shitty coffee waiting for him in the studio, and a cute makeup artist named Bethany, who has particularly impressive boobs and an equally cute twin brother, but everything else goes down hill from there.
He's a model, he's used to wearing next to nothing and being put in uncomfortable positions, but the moment they get out the bottle of oil for his abs and show him the impossibly tight trousers he'll be wearing, he knows that this shoot is going to be the one to test his limits. Even the one with the goat didn't bother him so much.
For a brief moment, he wonders whether or not he should let grudges go. For another brief moment, he ogles Salazar as he strips off the layers of clothing - the leather jacket, the long sleeved shirt, the two belts - to reveal a killer body. He punishes himself by chugging the coffee and thinking about his great aunt Mary.
After nearly an hour of practically writhing all over Salazar and listening to the photographer jizzing himself over how 'intense' they look, Godric is thankful when it's announced they're finished for the day. He's not so thankful when, after wrestling his way out of those impossible fucking trousers, he escapes from the studio and Salazar only to find the arsehole getting on the same tube as him.
"Are you stalking me now?" He snaps, one hand around the pole as the tube jerks to a start. Salazar, of course, just leans against it and doesn't even move.
"It's not my fault if we live in the same direction," Salazar says. "What's your problem?"
"What's yours?" Godric digs in his pocket, pulls out his blackberry and wishes desperately somebody would tweet him or email him or something, anything so he looks like he has something to do. "You're an arse to everyone. It's not cute."
"Maybe I just don't see the point in being nice to people who think about shoes and their nails and not much else." Salazar's smirking, like he's amused, like he's having fun and Godric kind of wants to punch him for it, mess up that stupid straight nose because what is fun about this.
"That's a generalization an arse would make," Godric says, and wills somebody to text him. It doesn't work.
"Feel like proving me wrong?"
"No." He pauses, shoves his blackberry back into his pocket. "Your company would make me want to stab myself in the ears."
"Well, I guess I'll just go on being an arse then," says Salazar. "And you won't get coffee out of it." Godric huffs out a breath of hair, scowls at the woman looking at him from above her copy of The Guardian and turns to look over his shoulder.
"Fine," he says. "But the coffee better be good."
The first thing Godric notices, inside the pretentious cafe Salazar takes him to, is that the coffee actually is good. The second is the way Salazar sits, with his legs slanted to the side and the the third is the way he eats his cake, by pinching pieces between his thumb and forefinger. Fourth is the fact that Salazar actually listens when he talks, even when it's just to whine about the newest model signed to the agency who thinks he'll be the next big thing.
"So," Godric says, picking the marshmallows out of his drink. They put marshmallows in his coffee. It might be the most hipster coffee shop Godric has ever seen in his life, but he figures it must be okay if they give him mini marshmallows. "Tell me about yourself. Nobody knows anything about you."
"I'm not here to make friends." Godric quirks an eyebrow. "Modelling in general, not here. You've been modelling for what, three years now?" Godric nods. "You know it's competitive. You can't afford to have friends, and like I said, most models are vapid idiots."
"So why did you invite me for coffee?" He sucks the coffee off his fingers, tries to hold back the grin when Salazar shifts in his seat and stares at the table.
"You seem different," Salazar says, draining his own cup of coffee. The ceramic clinks against the table as he sets it down, too loud in a room that's nearly silent. "You called me out instead of just ignoring me."
"That's me," Godric says, propping his chin on his hand. "Warrior for social justice, and against arses, or something. Bad arses, not the nice ones."
Salazar laughs, and Godric wonders how many other people have seen that recently.
From there, it seems like Godric can't avoid Salazar. He's in the same restaurants, at the same parties and, one time, standing out in a crowd of tourists in New York City at a crossing. Godric takes him for lunch after he escapes from the bustle of people, all bearing maps and rucksacks worn on their chests, a tiny little family restaurant that few people know about, where Godric knows the owners by name and has a table they call his.
It gets to the point where Godric starts calling Salazar his friend - at first to watch the twist of Salazar's lips and then because what other word is there to describe someone you enjoy spending time with, someone makes you laugh with his wit and sarcasm, someone you text at least once a day to complain about some idiot, or to share the latest dirty joke Helga's told you?
When he figures that out, he sends Salazar an e-card. He gets a 'fuck you', in reply. Five minutes later, he gets another email - this one says 'drinks tonight?'.
Godric doesn't particularly mind having someone as miserable as Salazar for a friend, and, well, if sometimes he wants to be more than friends, he's a model. He's used to pretending.
"Hey." Godric looks up - a tall goddess is standing in front of him, all long legs and sleek, shiny hair. Obviously a model, especially with that pout, but Godric never was good at the who's who part. "You're Godric, right?"
"The one and only," he says, leaning back against the sofa he's parked himself on. It's another boring party, this one made memorable by the complete and utter lack of alcohol. Every one's drinking lemonade or green tea. "And you are?"
"Arabella." She smiles as she talks, moves a cushion aside to perch beside him. The sofa is too low, her legs coming up at too sharp of an angle, but she doesn't slouch like Godric. "You're friends with Salazar, right?"
"Unfortunately." That gets a grin out of her, and she flicks her hair over her shoulder. "Why're you asking? Can't say many people are interested in his moody arse."
"I was wondering whether you knew if he was seeing anyone," Arabella says, and Godric knows his eyebrows practically shoot up to his hairline. "Not for me!" She waves her hands, like she's trying to flap the accusation away. "It's just that my friend Laurent has been really secretive about his new beau but we saw him with Salazar the other day."
Godric is silent for a moment. He takes a sip from his lemonade and glances around the room for Helga.
"Can't say I know anything," he says, putting his glass down on the coffee table. "But I best be off. Have a nice evening."
Helga doesn't ask any questions when he grabs her by the elbow and pulls her towards the door, muttering about needing a stiff drink.
It weighs on his mind, when he gives it a chance to. He imagines Salazar with this Laurent, a man he's never seen, who's face changes every time Godric closes his eyes and tries not to think about them.
He hadn't thought it was this bad. He'd thought it was an appreciation of beauty and wit, things Salazar had in abundance. He hadn't thought it had gotten bad enough that in the right circumstances, he'd be doodling 'Godric Slytherin' all over his notebooks.
Helga tells him it's irrational to hate someone he's never met, someone who could be just a friend but he firmly believes it isn't.
He'll admit to the irrationality of getting pissed off when it occurs to him that Laurent might make Salazar laugh too.
It takes two and a half weeks before he snaps. Before he's fed up with sending desperate texts to Helga, sharing the fact he's had yet another dream about Salazar and his possible boyfriend. Before he's fed up of his mind wandering and focusing on things like whether or not Salazar has taken him to their coffee shop yet.
He wishes he could blame it on alcohol, but when he rounds on Salazar, all bristled up with righteous fury over something that doesn't make any sense, he's completely, one hundred percent, stone cold sober.
"Are you dating a dude called Laurent?" He snaps, scowling at Salazar over his miserable lunch of chicken salad, no dressing, no croutons. "It's not cool to keep secrets from your friends."
"I'm not dating anyone," Salazar says. He stares blankly at Godric, not even quirking an eyebrow like he's mocking him. "Certainly not any dudes called Laurent." He says the word dude like it fits strangely in his mouth, like it smacks against his teeth and feels slick like oil on his tongue.
"Good," Godric says, and tries to imagine lettuce tastes even vaguely exciting. "Because it's my duty, as your friend, to know if you even fancy someone." He pauses, squints at Salazar who just continues to stare blandly at him. "Do you fancy anyone?"
"Yes," Salazar says. "And yes, you know them. No, I won't tell you who it is."
"But how am I meant to stalk them to make sure they're worthy of you and your misery if I don't know who it is?"
"You'd approve of my taste, at the very least." Salazar stops staring to take a bite of his salad. "What about you?"
"Yes," Godric says, looking over Salazar's shoulder, at the stack of cupcakes in the fridge, right next to the pies and all of the other good food. "I'm going to start writing his name all over my lunchbox if I'm not careful."
"Who is it?" Godric grins, pushing back his chair and standing up.
"I'm not telling," he says, smirks just in the way Salazar always does. "Want a cupcake?"
They share a cupcake on the walk back to the tube station. Or, rather, Godric eats his feelings and occasionally shares a bit with Salazar.
"You should act on your feelings," he says, crumpling the cake case in his fist. He doesn't mean it, not even slightly, but it's what he's supposed to say, he knows that. "For your mysterious crush."
"So should you." Salazar's got his sleeves rolled up, and the muscles in his forearm flex as he moves. Godric tries not to stare.
"Yeah?" There's a raised eyebrow from Salazar, a nod over his shoulder, and then Godric slows to a stop. "Hey, Sal?" Salazar turns around, and Godric can already here the sarcastic remarks, can practically hear the entire conversation that will get so far from where it needs to be. He can't let that happen. Not if he wants his sanity to remain in tact.
He can pose naked with nothing more than a pineapple, he thinks. He can do this.
When he kisses him, Salazar tastes like double chocolate chip, and not even vaguely of lettuce.