Seamus Finnigan had always thought that love stories ended with that first kiss, or at least that first tumble into the sheets. Old Muggle movies always faded to black after that, like a modern version of "and they lived happily ever after." Of course, he had been in a relationship before, and he knew well enough to know that things weren't that simple, but Justin had been decidedly the wrong boyfriend.
Dean Thomas, on the other hand. Well.
They had had their pre-Christmas finally-getting-together tumble, and their New Year's Eve long-romantic-night. Seamus had sat on the train back to school, a dozing Dean's head in his lap, and stared out the window thinking of domestic bliss, or whatever passed for it at Hogwarts.
So as they went from breakfast in the Great Hall to their first class on that first day back, Seamus naturally reached out to take Dean's hand.
Dean, startled, looked down at their hands, then back up to Seamus. He squeezed back, but looked decidedly uncomfortable, and the instant they got into the Charms classroom, he dropped Shay's hand.
Seamus spent the entire class in confusion. All the couples he knew held hands in the corridors. Perhaps—well, perhaps he had made a mistake. As they left class he looked over at Dean, but his glance was avoided.
When they were just outside the door, Dean cleared his throat, then said, "Er, so I'll see you at lunch, after your Double Potions class then, yeah?"
Seamus nodded, then watched as he strode off to the art studio. He stood there thinking for some moments until he felt a hand grab his arm.
"Finnigan!" Draco Malfoy was saying. "We're going to be late if you don't come on!"
Seamus shook his head. "Right, sorry," he replied, then followed Malfoy, Harry and Hermione to Snape's classroom.
As always after a holiday, Snape was in a perfectly foul mood, but they managed to get through class without much incident. Seamus left the classroom in a daze.
He looked up, and there was Dean, smiling at him.
"Lunch?" he asked, his hand pointing down the hall.
Seamus was thoroughly confused as he turned to walk with Dean. The art studio was not only in the opposite direction from the Potions classroom, but was almost next door to the Great Hall. Perhaps his new project hadn't started well, and he'd gone for a walk, as he often did, to clear his head?
Then he felt Dean's hand on his opposite shoulder. He looked down at it, then up at Dean, who was still smiling. He relaxed a bit; all was comfortable, this was Dean again, and lunch was very nice, sitting next to Dean, holding hands under the table.
"Good thing," Dean said, "you're left-handed."
But when they stood to go to Defense Against the Dark Arts, Dean dropped his hand again. Seamus decided he really had to stop thinking about this—why, it was nearly as bad as it had been before they started dating, with Dean hesitating, then making a grand gesture, then pulling back again. Besides, with war coming, DADA needed all of his concentration.
Dean left DADA for Divination, which Seamus had dropped after OWLs to focus on Healing courses. Dean found it useful, he said, because making up predictions forced him to think creatively. Seamus walked out to the greenhouses with Hermione, deep in thought.
"Nin?" he asked after a moment. "Is it different dating Harry, than being his friend? I mean, other than the obvious?"
"Well, yes, of course," she replied. "I mean, one behaves entirely differently, and little things mean a great deal, and, well, I'm much more concerned about everything. When he's cranky or upset I used to think, 'Who is doing this?' but now I'm more likely to think, 'Is he upset with me?' and wonder if I did something. Which is silly, but there it is."
"So what do you do?"
"We talk about it. Not as much as I'd like—I think Ron got to him, the little sneak; you don't see me talking to Harry's ex-girlfriends, do you? But we talk about it and after a while you work out where things have changed and where they haven't, and you go from there and try not to jump to conclusions and things. Why? Dean confusing you?"
"Yeah, but I reckon I should just talk to him."
Hermione rolled her eyes as they walked into greenhouse #4 for class. "What is it with you boys? Why can't you simply talk to each other! The world would be a better place if you did!"
"Thank you, Miss Granger, for that useful piece of advice," said Professor Sprout. "Now if you'll take your seats, we can begin."
Hermione flushed with embarrassment, but as she sat down she mouthed to Seamus, "Talk to him!"
After class Hermione had to run back for a Prefects meeting, while Seamus had a free period, so he dawdled, breathing in the crisp winter air, thinking about what he could possibly say to Dean, when there he was again, on the front steps. How had he got down from the North Tower so quickly?
"Look at you," Dean said huskily.
"What?" Seamus asked. He looked down at his robes, but they were fine. Then he looked back up and Dean and saw That Look in his eye, and mentally kicked himself for mistaking the tone in his voice. He could feel his nose begin to run from the cold and tried to decide which was a worse mood killer: sniffling, or a runny nose.
Dean stretched out his arms. "Come here," he said, pulling Seamus close, which gave him a chance to quickly wipe his nose on his scarf.
Good thing, as he felt Dean's hand under his chin, tipping his lips up for a kiss. A breathless, passionate kiss, on the front steps of the school! From a boyfriend who wouldn't even hold his hand!
Dean pulled back slightly. "This weather looks very good on you," he said. "I couldn't resist. But you're so cold; let's go inside and warm you up." As they walked into the warmth of the castle, Dean went on, "I'd like to get Colin's camera and take some photos of you, outside in the cold, this weekend."
Seamus sniffled a little. "Sure, make me suffer for your art."
Dean laughed. "Thank you, Seamus." He paused, then said, "So, er, we're the only ones with free periods right now, and I thought we might, er, go up to the room?" He looked at Seamus shyly, biting his lower lip.
"What are you waiting for?" he said with a smile, and promptly forgot everything he had meant to talk to Dean about.
Dinner came and went, the two boys in a post-snogging haze. They worked on their Charms assignment sitting on a couch in the Common Room, facing each other, their legs sharing the middle cushion. It was comfortable, relaxed, like it always had been, and Seamus thought, well, maybe there wasn't anything to talk about, even if Dean never did hold his hand.
Then he saw Harry and Hermione come in through the portrait hole, holding hands, and many of the students in the Common Room looked up for a second before returning to their work. Harry was one of the least demonstrative people Seamus had ever known, but he held hands with his girlfriend in public.
He looked over at Dean, whose nose was still buried in his book. He saw some of the other couples in the Common Room sitting together in oversized chairs, studying but also cuddling a bit, and suddenly, he had had enough. He sat up, swinging his legs to the floor with such force that he jostled Dean. Grabbing his books, he stood and left the room without a word.
He had just settled onto his bed to resume studying when Dean came into the room. "Hermione said you wanted to talk to me?" he asked.
Seamus set aside his Charms text and sighed. "Dean, are you ashamed of me?"
"No," Dean replied. "No, why—why would you even think that? Of course not!"
"Then why won't you hold my hand? Why won't you show other people how you feel? They all know we're dating, anyway!"
"Oh, Shay, I dunno, it's just—it's so public, and . . ."
"But you walked me to lunch! With your hand on my shoulder!" Seamus was standing now, and scowling.
"I have always walked with my hand on your shoulder. You used to get lost all the time and take wrong turns, and then I suppose I fell into the habit."
"Oh," Seamus said, remembering other times, other years. He looked up and Dean was suddenly closer, standing between their two beds, in front of Seamus. "But it's different now. It feels different now."
"Is everything different now?"
"No, it's just—and you kissed me! On the front steps!"
"No one was around! And you looked so, well, I mean, the cold, your cheeks were flushed and your nose was a little red and your hair had been blown in the wind and your eyes were watery from the cold and you overwhelmed me!" Dean growled a little, then said, softly, "You keep overwhelming me."
"From what? I don't understand."
"From being in control!"
"What is so good about being in control?"
Dean raised an eyebrow. "With you around? Someone has to be in control of themselves!"
"I'm not twelve, Dean! Trust me not to do anything stupid!"
Dean said nothing for a moment, staring at Seamus, and then his shoulders slouched a bit. "You're right, that was unfair. I'm sorry. It's just, I want to touch you all the time and it isn't appropriate and I've never had a boyfriend before and I'm not sure and when I touch you I just want to touch you more, you know? So I just don't do it at all, when I can help it. Or only as much as when we were friends."
Seamus' lips twitched as he tried not to smile. "I'm not asking you to kiss me in the corridors."
"Well, no; we have Draco and Ginny for that." Dean smiled a bit, and Seamus grinned back.
"Just hold my hand for now, and we'll see how it goes?"
"Maybe a little touching, when we study?" At Dean's look he quickly said, "Just a little."
"Wouldn't want to get distracted, would we?"
"No." Seamus stepped forward, into Dean's arms, and they kissed.
"So," Dean asked, "was that our first fight?"
"Nah. Nobody threw anything."
"Not even punches."
"Dean!" Seamus pushed away a bit, though Dean's arms were still around him. "I said I was sorry for that!"
But Dean just chuckled and pulled Seamus close to him again. "Do you want to go back downstairs, or shall we study up here?"
Seamus burrowed closer, if that was possible. "I doubt we'd get any work done up here."
"We certainly didn't this afternoon."
Seamus laughed huskily. "Well, shall we?"
Later, when all of the boys had returned to the room to get ready for bed, Seamus said, "So Dean, if you'll hold my hand . . . "
"Will you carry my books, like Harry does for Hermione?"
Dean scowled, Seamus ducked, and the pillow Dean had thrown sailed over his head, hitting Harry square in the face and knocking off his glasses. "Oi!" he shouted, throwing his own pillow, which instead hit Ron as he walked out of the bathroom.
The next morning a very irritated McGonagall took seven points from each of the five boys and ordered them to clean up the mess of feathers and fabric, and to scrub out their own bathroom for the next week.