It was when Terry was sixteen. And he was rushing through the hallways because he was only a tiny bit late for Charms, really, only a tiny bit, Professor Flitwick certainly couldn’t hold it against him—
And he bumped into Harry Potter.
It wasn’t a large bump, just sort of an “oops!”-and-then-move-on type of moment, but for some reason Terry stopped short. And that was when Harry glanced at him sideways with momentarily surprised eyebrows and said:
And if Terry hadn’t looked over it might have been different, only he did. And it hit him.
After Charms he tracked down Michael, frowning. Michael was sitting in their dorm room with a book one of the older students had gotten from the Restricted Section and let him borrow. It contained, among other things, a spell that was suppose to make pants fall down. Michael wanted to use it on Susan Bones.
He was practicing on himself.
“Abduco pants!” he said, waving his wand vaguely at his crotch.
“Not now, Michael, please,” Terry said. “There are some things I don’t want to see, and you pantsless has always been one of them.”
“It’s not for you. It’s for Susan.”
“Yeah, well, I think she’ll really appreciate it,” Terry said. “Now, will you listen? I have to talk to you about something.”
“Alright,” Michael said. “Think I almost have it, though. Abduco pants!”
There was a pause.
“There! Did you see that? Did you see? My trousers sort of twitched!”
“I’m really happy for you, now come here,” Terry said. He sat on the edge of Michael’s bed as forcefully as possible. “I’m trying to talk to you!”
“Fine. Merlin,” Michael said, fiddling with his belt buckle. When it was done up again he crawled onto the bed and sat facing Terry. Terry crossed his legs.
“I’m a little concerned,” he said. “I think I may have had a passing attraction to Harry Potter.”
Michael, who was practicing the proper wand movement, dropped his ten-and-a-half inch elm Ollivander.
“I’m sorry, what?” he said.
“A passing attraction to Harry Potter,” Terry explained patiently. “I think it might happen to other people quite a lot, but not really me. Until now.”
“Well, no, I—Terry, he’s a boy!”
“I know. Odd, isn’t it? Only he has such green eyes—I just noticed. I really can’t resist green eyes. I think it might become a problem if I keeping wanting to jump the bones of everything green-eyed that moves. Mrs. Norris might have—”
“Have you fancied boys before?” Michael said, his tone one of extreme suspicion and accusation.
“No, why?” Terry wrinkled his brow. “You’re not going to be a prick about it, are you?”
“No, it’s fine, only… only most blokes would keep this sort of thing to themselves, Terry. You know, can’t you go through some denial thing where you pretend it’s not happening and bottle yourself up?”
“But that doesn’t help,” Terry said, sighing. “By the time I finish questioning my sexuality I might not be attracted to him anymore, and then I won’t have ever gotten to complain about it—Michael, are you okay?”
Michael’s eyes had gone wide.
“Questioning your sexuality?” he said. “Oh, Merlin, there’s not going to be any sexuality-questioning, is there? Are you going to want to talk about your inner turmoil and confused feelings and gay rights issues and—fuck—experimentation?”
“I don’t know,” Terry said, and now he was faintly alarmed too. “Do I have to?”
“It seems like the sort of thing you’d do, doesn’t it? I mean, you’re telling me about your attraction to Harry Potter!”
“Yes, but I certainly don’t expect you to be accepting and supportive!”
“Oh, thank God,” Michael said, relaxing visibly. “As long as we’re clear that there is absolutely no supportive acceptance.”
“None,” Terry assured him. “But honestly, Michael, what is that whole Harry thing about?” It wasn’t as if any other part of Harry was attractive. Just the eyes. So green, green like some kind of animal, a frog or, or a toad—a pickled toad—oh, shite. Maybe he was turning into Ginny Weasley. He thought he might have seen a freckle or two on him the last time he checked the mirror. It was a horrifying thought.
“Quick, Michael! My hair, what color is it?”
“Brown, you arse,” Michael said.
“Yes, but do you think it’s sort of getting redder?”
“I think you’re sort of getting arsier.”
Michael was the epitome of wit. Terry flashed him an annoyed look. Still, Michael had never called Ginny Weasley an arse, so maybe it was alright.
“Do you think Potter’s eyes are sort of like a sunrise hitting a field of clover?”
“I think my pants are still too much on me.”
“No such thing as you being too pantsed. I’m thinking of gluing them there,” Terry said absentmindedly.
After that, the next natural step was to tell Harry Potter.
After all, Terry wouldn't want to not tell him. Then it would turn into a secret, and it would probably just fester inside of him until he had a full-on crush. He rather thought anyone with a crush on Harry Potter might turn into Ginny Weasley on the spot, just like that. This way, they could have it all out in the open and the problem could be disposed of.
Which is exactly what he explained to Harry, which didn't account for the wary look on his face. The look suggested that he might not have followed Terry's logic, which might be understandable, since he wasn't a Ravenclaw and everything.
"Hang on a minute," Harry said. "You were attracted to me?"
"In passing, yes," Terry said. "And a little bit now. Less, though. I think. It was a very odd incident."
"You. To me," Harry said, his brow furrowing.
"Yes," Terry said. He was beginning to worry about Harry's inability to keep track of the conversation. He wondered if it would be a problem for their children. Well, they would be adopted, of course, but the boy would still have some influence over them.
"Why?" Harry said.
Oh... it was dear, really.
"I'm not entirely sure myself, although possibly it was how your eyes look like the sunrise hitting a field of clover," Terry said.
"Ah," Harry said, a bit wildly. He glanced around briefly, as if he were looking for help.
"I just thought you should know," Terry said. "I will, of course, let you know if I figure out any more about it."
"Well, that sounds good," Harry said.
"Yes, indeed," Terry said, and patted him on the head.
When he got back to the Common Room, Michael was in there, thankfully not doing anything sketchy to his pants. He was writing an essay. Terry supposed he was a Ravenclaw, after all.
"Harry knows," he said, flinging himself down in a blue chair next to Michael. "I guess there's nothing for it but to just wait for the wild passionate shagging to start, right?"
"Right," Michael said distractedly. Then he looked up.
"Oh, Terry," he said. "Draco Malfoy was looking for you."
"Draco Malfoy?" Terry frowned. "Why, what did he want? Did he want to take my notes? I bet he wanted to take my notes. He's always been useless at taking any himself, he just sits in class blowing origami at Harry and things."
"Yeah, I don't know what he wanted," Michael said, rubbing the bridge of his nose and leaving an inky smear. "He was outside the Common Room skulking around."
"I should go see to him, then, I suppose," Terry said. "Oh, the exhaustion of being wanted by everyone."
"Mm," Michael grunted.
Terry wandered down from the tower, looking around for a skulking Draco Malfoy. He found one after a bit, pacing in an adjacent hallway.
"Hello," he said. "I heard you were looking for me."
Draco looked up at him.
"Oh, Boot!" he said. "Yes. You're here. Good, good."
"I'm always here," Terry said. "At least, wherever I am is 'here' to me."
"I have no patience for your pseudo-philosophical nonsense," Draco scoffed. "I have made a very important decision."
"What's that?" Terry asked, bristling at "pseudo".
"You may kiss me if you like," Draco said haughtily, looking off somewhere to the left.
Terry frowned. He wasn't at all sure how this fit into the conversation, and he was having trouble thinking of an appropriate response.
"Well," he said finally. "I'll be sure to remember that."
"God, Boot, are you listening?" Draco said, snapping his head around front. "I said, you may kiss me. If you like. Now, please, Boot."
"And you know I always appreciate accumulating information, so thank you, I didn't know that," Terry said, smiling encouragingly at Draco.
"You are so thick and incompetent in the ways of conversation, I swear you have a troll somewhere in your ancestry," Draco sneered. "Listen, I have been noticing a lot of sexual tension between the two of us lately. Obviously, it's not coming from me, since obviously the great Draco Malfoy would never be attracted to boys or harbor a secret, burning lust for a twitchy, inferior Ravenclaw like yourself, Terry Boot. So it must be your lust for me that it making everything seem so... lustful. When I'm around you. Right?"
He narrowed his eyes at Terry threateningly.
Terry tried to think back to any recent interactions he'd had with Draco Malfoy, and if they had been roiling with sexual tension that he just hadn't noticed or something.
"I'm not really certain if lust follows rules like th—"
"Silence, Boot. Now, I know that you're not the only student to ever have a hopeless crush on me, but in your case, since it's really incredibly hopeless and pathetic, since I am so very much not at all gay, I have decided to be kind to you and allow you a kiss. No need to thank me."
He struck a pose that Terry imagined he saw as heroic and benevolent.
What was the reasonable thing to do in this situation, Terry wondered. What would Rowena Ravenclaw do? Well, he had heard some stories about Rowena and Salazar that were, quite frankly, shocking, especially for someone who was meant to be interested in children's education.
She would probably kiss Draco.
Terry had never kissed anyone before, and he wondered if it was right for your first kiss to be with Draco Malfoy when you were harboring a not-so-secret lust yourself for Harry Potter. Well, he decided, there was sort of a war possibly about to happen, or already happening, and anyway there were a lot of people out there who were doing things that were much worse. Like killing children, or putting Quidditch above their studies. So really, one little kiss with Draco Malfoy couldn't be that bad, although Terry thought it might be considered taking advantage of mental illness, since Draco did not seem entirely stable.
"Alright," he said, and moved in.
Then he was standing about an inch from Draco and he didn't know what to do, or if he should put his hands anywhere. Draco said, "You idiot, you are unthinkably terrible at all things in life," and put his hands on Terry's face and drew him in.
If his mouth weren't otherwise occupied, he would have gasped.
Draco's lips touched his—and wasn't that weird, to feel someone else's lips actually on yours?—and all of Terry's irritation at being called terrible at resolving sexual tension was gone, because Draco Malfoy was obviously the best kisser in the history of time.
Draco's mouth was warm and wet and somehow it made Terry lose the ability to think about anything except sort of melting into Draco's arms.
Draco was standing very close to Terry, and the kiss made all of that seem more important, Draco's body being so close and being so warm and pulsing. Terry pressed closer and he could feel the warmness and all of Draco's lovely smooth bare skin was only a few layers of cloth away, and wasn't that a Rowena-esque thing to think?
He wrapped his arms around Draco's neck and Draco slid his arms down to Terry's hips, and then he pushed up Terry's shirt and let his hands rest comfortably on Terry's sides, skin against skin, warm and satiny. Terry had never thought that Draco's white, slender hands could be so enthralling, and for a moment he was lost in completely inappropriate thoughts about hands and what they could do. Then Draco broke the kiss and trailed his mouth down to Terry's neck, and it wasn't fair for things to feel this good when you were supposed to be lusting after Harry Potter.
Terry, to his own fascination, made a little helpless sound of longing and appreciation for Draco and his mouth and all of the lovely, warm, smooth, exciting skin Terry knew was just a few millimeters away.
At that, Draco suddenly straightened up, a look of panic in his eyes.
"Now, now, Boot, let's not get carried away," he said, extracting his hands from Terry's shirt. "I said one kiss, honestly, you Ravenclaws are just mad with sexual drive."
Terry thought Draco looked rather more flushed than usual, though. His eyes weren't green, but it was occurring to Terry that Draco's eyes were actually something like mist hanging over a swamp, quite cool and dark and mysterious. He thought he might be swooning a little bit. He'd never known what that was, exactly, but he'd always wanted to try it, and now he thought the word might describe him rather well.
"Rowena Ravenclaw was famous for her stamina," he babbled.
"Yes, well, I'm sure that's just fascinating to all of you boring no-lifes in your depressingly blue tower," Draco said, faking a yawn. "Anyway, I guess I'll be going now. ...God, Boot, you are so persistent, I swear, you need treatment for sex addiction, but alright, I suppose we can do this again some time."
"What?" Terry said. Usually, he preferred to speak more coherently, but somehow he was finding it difficult.
"I'm only consenting because I worry about what a deviant like you would get up to if deprived of sexual satisfaction," Draco said warningly. "Now, if you ever tell anyone about how you attacked me I will kill you forever. Goodbye, Boot."
He fairly ran off.
Terry put a hand to his neck.
Terry made his way back to the Common Room like a man possessed, or at least that's what he liked to think of it. I am like a man possessed, he thought, possessed by Slytherin kisses, just like Rowena Ravenclaw, and he made a note to tell Michael because it sounded so poetic and tortured.
He was halfway through composing a poem entitled "Slytherin Kisses" when Harry Potter loomed out from behind a Ravenclaw banner.
"Hi there," he said.
Terry started. "Hello, Harry," he said. It seemed to be Sexual Confusion Day in Terryland, he thought frantically, and then he thought that if he told Michael that Michael would probably avoid him for the rest of the week, just to be sure.
"I've been thinking," Harry began. "About you and—the thing that—you know, the—me, and green eyes, and—"
"Are you talking about my passing attraction to you?" Terry said.
"Yes," Harry said, with some relief. Oh, Terry was doomed to love men who couldn't speak properly.
"What have you been thinking about it?" Terry said.
"Um. Lots," Harry monosyllabled. "But I think that... you know, I hadn't really thought about it before, but Cho and, just, utter disaster, and you, I mean, really..."
It was like Jane Goodall and the apes.
"I think I might, er, be attracted to you as well," Harry muttered, bright red. "Or fancy you. Or something. Anyway, you're just kind of... um... pretty."
Terry's chest seemed to empty out, or blow up with air, or something else drastic and startling. He would never, ever be able to tell Michael how happy it made him to be called "kind of pretty" because Michael might hit him or start crying from threatened heterosexuality or something, but he looked at Harry's green eyes and charmingly messy hair, and he thought: it's not so much like Jane Goodall and the apes.
It was more like Terry Boot and the Boy Who Lived To Have Trouble Expressing His Feelings, and it was dear and sweet and oh, Terry really wanted to have children with Harry, or just snog him against a wall, he wasn't really sure which.
"Oh," he said, wondering if it would be appropriate to snog Harry against a wall now, while he was still sort of in a snogging mood. Surely a snogging mood shouldn't be wasted?
"I don't think you're pretty, I think you're rugged and manly and just really really good-looking mostly," Terry continued, with a sort of vague horror at his lack of vocabulary skills.
Harry moved in closer and Terry realized that Harry was going to kiss him too, in a more messy, ungroomed Harry-type way, and he wondered if it was morally right to be kissing again right after Draco. But again, you know, people killing children and all, although it did occur to him with a dull sense of shock that this was probably the sort of ethical dilemma that trollops had. Terry was becoming a trollop, like Pansy Parkinson.
Harry's mouth clumsily connected with Terry's.
Ohhh, it was nice. Harry was clearly not as experienced as Draco, but he kissed like he really meant it and it made Terry dizzy to think about being on the receiving end of Harry's desire and flattery. Terry tangled his fingers in Harry's delightfully messy hair and Harry grasped Terry's thin shoulders, all manly and large-handed and reassuring.
Harry broke the kiss, looking uncertain.
"Er," he said.
Terry assumed this was Harry-speak for "Oh, Terry, my love, do you hear the choirs of angels singing around us?"
Hell and shite, he was becoming Ginny Weasley right there under Harry's manly hands. Terry bit his lip and thought hard about Draco and felt very confused.
"Michael, I am becoming a slut," Terry said, throwing himself facedown on his bed.
"Really?" Michael said, looking up from the Restricted book with interest. "How did you manage that?"
Terry remembered that Michael had always wanted to be known as the man-slut of Ravenclaw Tower, but for some reason the women of Ravenclaw Tower refused to participate.
"Don't get so excited," he said, lifting his head up from the mattress. "I'm only a slut for boys, apparently."
"Oh," Michael said, looking alarmed, as if Terry's power to seduce boys might kick in at any moment.
"Draco Malfoy kissed me," Terry said. "And then Harry Potter kissed me. So I don't really know what's going on."
"But don't you like Harry and everything, in your weird unnatural boy-on-boy way?"
"Well, I thought so," Terry said, frowning. "But now I'm unsure, because Draco is really dashing, isn't he?" And his eyes were like swamp mist.
Terry thought of large expanses of white skin, said "nghk" and let his face drop back down into his sheets.
"Don't do that, Terry," Michael said. "You'll probably end up smothering yourself accidentally."
The situation was not helped when Draco came up to him the next day as he left the Common Room for breakfast and dragged him into what Terry now thought of as their hallway.
"Boot," he said sharply. "What's this I hear about you messing around behind my back with Harry Potter?"
"I don't know, what do you hear?" Terry said, a fraction unsteadily, because ever since the kiss yesterday he had been thinking of Draco more as a sort of collection of appealing body parts and now Draco was here being close to him.
"Well, I heard you'd been messing around with Harry Potter!" Draco clarified. "And Potter's been all wandering about looking dark and confused, which seems to verify it, if you ask me. I might as well just break up with you right now."
Terry thought he had better re-assess his view of the conversation if he didn't want to reply in nothing but Harry-esque "ums".
"Please don't," he said. "I think. Are you feeling alright?"
"As well as could be expected," Draco said pointedly. "Look, I am obviously deeply hurt, but I'm willing to take you back. If you grovel a bit."
"Take me back to where?" Terry said desperately, trying to find some sense somewhere in anything.
"Take you back as my boyfriend, obviously," Draco said, rolling his eyes hugely. "You are the Thick King of Thickdom, Boot. I don't even know how I put up with you, with your philandering and your caveman-like intelligence, it would be completely illogical for me to think you're one of the loveliest people I know and want to date you properly."
Terry thought he was beginning to understand how speech worked in Dracoland.
"Do you really mean that?" he said, feeling a little lightheaded. Why did Draco being close to him make him unable to think, anyway? What was that about?
"I don't mean anything," Draco said, looking frantic. "I didn't say anything. You can't prove it! Stop interrogating me! God, I'm practically your abused spouse."
Terry started mentally composing a bit more of "Slytherin Kisses".
"Just tell Potter you hate him and want nothing to do with him and then we'll talk!" Draco said, a note of pleading in his voice.
It was hardly fair, Terry thought. Sixteen years with hardly any prospects and now he had two all at once.
He reflected again on the unfairness of all of this and of life in general when he saw Harry in History of Magic. Upon seeing him, Harry's face was overcome with a sort of a dumb hopeful look, like a dog when its master had come home. Terry was aware that if he did decide to date Harry, this was probably not a good way to think of him.
On the one hand, if he told Harry he wanted nothing to do with him, he could go out with dashing and refined Draco Malfoy. But on the other hand, Harry had those lovely green eyes and he was a celebrity and he liked Terry, and maybe Terry could go down in history as that boy who turned Harry Potter gay, or something. And Harry had said he liked Terry, words that Terry always loved hearing, whereas Draco had just babbled around and been generally confusing and disorienting.
Harry kept looking over at Terry during the class and giving him sort of encouraging half-smiles, as if to reassure him that he, Harry, was available for any sort of after-class snogging or in-class flirtation by way of note-passing or secret signals or some such.
Terry thought he was manly and exciting, really he did, but, oh, he just really needed to talk to Michael. Michael could, perhaps, make sense of it.
He found Michael standing in their dorm room with the book in one hand and his wand in the other.
"Look at this, Terry," Michael said excitedly. "It's supposed to turn girls' shirts transparent."
"Or Lisa," Michael said. "Either, really. Look, though."
He waved his wand at his chest.
Terry waited expectantly. Michael's shirt remained opaque.
Michael looked down at it, frowning. "I could have sworn I had it right that time," he muttered, flipping pages.
"Fascinating as your continued failure to woo girls through obscene magic is," Terry said, "I need your help."
"With what?" Michael said vaguely. "Is the 'c' in 'Aspiciomnis' soft or hard, do you think? As-pees-iomnis?"
"I don't know," Terry said. "Michael, do you think I should choose Harry or Draco to date?"
"Which one do you like more?" Michael asked. "As-peez-iomnis!"
"Well, that is just not at all a possible pronunciation," Terry said, sitting on the edge of his bed. "And I don't know, Michael, that's the point. I did like Harry first, or at least I noticed him first. But, ngh, when Draco Malfoy kisses me I get all hot and cold and melty all at once, like apple pie a la mode."
"Terry," Michael said warningly. "You told me I wouldn't have to talk about details and things with you."
"I said you wouldn't have to acceptingly support me in my lifestyle," Terry corrected him. "I never said I would spare you the details of Malfoy-kisses."
"Does Harry give you apple-pie kisses?" Michael asked. "Aspi—oh, bugger, I waved the book instead of the wand."
"You know, Michael, sometimes people like to go two seconds without having the threat of your half-naked body bandied about," Terry said. "And, no, I guess Harry doesn't give apple-pie kisses as such, but he gives Harry kisses, which are different and nice as well. I mean, he tries, and that's really sweet."
"Hmm, trying, sounds very arousing," Michael said amiably.
"Well, he's Harry Potter. One doesn't just turn down Harry Potter, he's so... famous," Terry ended lamely.
"But do you like him, Terry?"
"I had a passing attraction—"
"Well, yes," Michael said, attempting to wave his wand and managing to drop the book on his foot. "But you're a teenage boy, and we'll have passing attractions to just about anything, right? Ow, ow, that's going to bruise. Do you like him, though?"
"I kind of like the way Draco makes me really confused," he admitted. "It's like a game, or a puzzle. Harry just kind of grunts at me. He means well, but it's nothing like the dizzying heights of Draco Malfoy's delusions."
He considered a bit more.
"Also, I can't breathe very well around Draco," he said. "Or think. I can think around Harry, but it's usually thinking about reasons why I want to date Harry Potter, like his rugged manliness."
"Rugged manliness is all good for a fling, Terry, but don't you think that as a Ravenclaw you should value the ability to actually talk to people without sounding like an idiot?" Michael said. "Aspiciomnis. Oh, bugger."
Michael had, indeed, managed to turn his shirt transparent, but unfortunately he had turned the rest of his chest transparent as well. Terry eyed Michael's ribcage suspiciously.
"You may be right," he said. "It's possible that I was taken in by Potter's deceptive rugged manliness, tricked by my hormones into desiring his primitive, neanderthal-esque presence, when my real true love is refined, lovely, complex Draco Malfoy."
And really, when he thought about them side-to-side it was rather obvious. Harry could tell him he was pretty all the time, and that would be nice, but he rather liked the way he had to listen closely to Draco to hear the compliments. It would make life interesting.
"I should go talk to Draco," he said.
"Yeah, that sounds good," Michael said. "I should, um, I should probably go see Madame Pomfrey, to be honest."
"Nonsense, Michael, it's a very attractive look for you," Terry said. "You could go up to Susan and/or Lisa and say, 'If you look closely you can see your name written on my heart.'"
"That's not a bad line," Michael said, looking cheered.
Terry went down to the entrance to the creepy underground Slytherin Common Room and waited. He supposed he might be seen to be skulking, now. Surely he was skulking in a very pretty way, though.
He hoped Draco would call him pretty, in his weird, insulting manner.
He got bored after about thirty seconds of waiting for Draco to emerge (he had to eventually, right?) and sat down with a small pocket copy of Where Am I and What's This Kneazle Doing?: Nine Ways the Confundus Charm Has Changed Wizarding History.
A few chapters later, he heard Draco's familiar attractively irritating voice above him.
"You are such a stalker, Boot," Draco said. "I don't care what it is you want, I'd rather not look into your depraved mind in fact, but I suppose I'll let you have your say."
"About the offer you made yesterday," Terry said, standing up, and he thought he heard Draco take in a sharp breath and look a little unsteady, for a moment. "I've decided to accept it."
The unsteadiness remained for a moment longer as Draco looked at Terry, almost with awe. Then it cleared.
"Of course you have," he said, tossing his silky blonde hair.
"I like the way your eyes are like atmospherical phenomena, and I like the way you may possibly be losing your mind, and I like the way I feel when you're near," Terry said, feeling that he might as well lay everything out there.
"Well, I... like you too, a lot," Draco said.
"Kill you forever," Draco reminded him.
"Of course," Terry said, and he wrapped his arms around Draco and drew him close.
Draco rested his chin on Terry's shoulder. "You would look so pretty as a sacrifice to the Great Clan of Malfoy," he murmured dreamily.