Harvey wishes he could attribute it all to his Slytherin cunning, but the truth is, it's mostly a combination of Ross's family heritage, coincidence, and pure luck that leads to their first meeting on the Hogwarts Express.
Harvey's just finished adjusting his tie and robes when the door to the compartment slams open and some kid rushes inside. Harvey can see his blue and bronze-striped tie, which has been wrangled into a travesty of a knot. He's got the general twitchiness Harvey associates with Ravenclaws, too, but Harvey doesn't think he's another sixth year. Harvey would have remembered someone with eyes that blue.
The kid's gaze darts around the apartment: from the windows, to Donna, and finally to Harvey. He squeaks. "Harvey Specter!"
Harvey raises an eyebrow. "Do I know you?"
"Um, no, but I--"
He's interrupted by a dull thud and a muffled voice saying, "Mike! Mike, what are you doing in there? Did I say something wrong? I love you, Mike, please come back--"
Some other kid Harvey doesn't recognize has plastered himself against the compartment window. He's trying to open the door, spouting Celestina Warbeck lyrics all the while. Harvey locks the door with a quick spell, and adds Muffliato for good measure. The off-key rendition of "A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love" is cut off.
"Thank you," the Ravenclaw kid--Mike--says, slumping down a little. "Um, can I stay in here for a bit? If that's okay?"
"I didn't do it for you, I did it for my own safety," Harvey says. "And Donna's," he adds, when Donna gives him a Look.
Donna says, "What did you do to him, kid? Breaking up on the first day of school, that's pretty harsh."
"I didn't break up with him!" Mike says. "I can't, we're not even going out. I don't even know him!"
"This is why one-night stands are not a good idea," Harvey says, very gravely.
"I didn't sleep with him!"
Donna's looking at the kid now, really looking at him, like he might be worth her time after all. "Then what's going on?"
Mike slumps all the way down to the floor and buries his face in his hands. "I don't know. This has never happened to me before. I just--I got on the train, and suddenly it was like everybody was looking at me, and--and sort of prowling towards me, so I got nervous and tried to find a safe compartment, and this was the first one where people didn't try to grab me so I figured I could stay...here?" He trails off, looking up at Harvey and Donna with an expression that clearly says, "Please, please save my life, I will be eternally grateful."
Harvey would have asked, "You mean there's more than just that idiot outside our compartment?" but the question is answered by several more thumps and faces at the window.
"Don't look," Donna advises Mike, when he tries to crane his neck to see. "Just...stay where you are."
Mike obeys her.
"Hey, wait a minute," Harvey says. "Why are we letting him stay? There's a mob out there--" Mike blanches. "--and they could break down the door and overrun us any minute. We don't even know this kid."
"We're prefects, Harvey."
"We're Slytherin prefects."
"I know where you were and what you did two weeks ago," Donna says, crossing her arms.
Harvey shuts up.
Donna smiles sweetly at him.
"Um," Mike says.
Harvey turns to him. "Fine, you can stay here until we get to Hogwarts," he says. "You'd better hope your adoring masses don't break down the door. I don't even know what they see in you. You're too skinny. Your hair's a mess. And you don't even know how to tie your tie properly. Oh, and you owe me and Donna favors. Separate favors, so don't try to get away with doing something for one of us and saying it counts for both."
Harvey expects Mike to start blustering about unfairness and evil Slytherins, but he's just nodding, staring up at Harvey with gratefulness and maybe something like awe. He's not too bad, Harvey supposes. At least he has a proper appreciation for Slytherin cunning.
"Why don't you take a seat?" Donna says. "I'm Donna--"
"I know who you are," Mike blurts out. "Both of you. I mean--" He blushes. "I've seen you around, and Harvey's the top of his class, so..."
Harvey might even start to like this kid. He leans back in his seat and says, "So you know who we are. But we don't know who you are."
Mike gets up from the floor and sits next to Harvey: not too close, and on the edge of his seat like he's expecting Harvey to shoo him away any second. Harvey lets him stay. "I'm Mike," he says, holding out his hand. "Mike Ross."
"Mike Ross," Harvey says, ignoring the hand. "Well, let's hope you've got more talents than attracting hordes of admirers. Otherwise those favors of yours won't be much use to me or Donna."
"Veela blood? I knew there had to be some logical explanation for people's wild attraction to you. It's definitely not your looks or your charm."
Professor McGonagall looks over her spectacles at Harvey. "Mr. Specter, I don't remember inviting you to this meeting. Why don't you go join your House at the welcome feast?"
Harvey's not planning to leave, not when things are just starting to get interesting. "Headmistress, I feel that as a prefect it's my duty to know when there are hazards to any student's safety--"
"Can he stay, please?" Mike cuts in. Harvey decides to forgive him for interrupting, since he's doing it on Harvey's behalf. "And Rachel and Donna, too," Mike continues, looking over at the two girls in question. Neither of them looks ready to leave, either. "I feel, um, better when they're around. They did get me safely from the platform up to your office."
"At grave risk to our lives, I might add," Harvey says.
It's not strictly true. There had been a few minutes after the train stopped when even Donna was unsure how to get Mike past the crowd in the corridor, but that had been solved by Rachel Zane's arrival. She'd hexed a path clear to the compartment, glanced at Donna and Harvey on either side of Mike, and said, "Mike, what the hell's going on? I've been looking for you all over the place, and then I saw this crowd and they said they're waiting for you. Never mind, don't answer, we'll figure it out when we get to McGonagall's office. How good are you two with hexes?"
Harvey looked at Donna, and then they both raised their wands. Two people who had been trying to edge past Zane suddenly had bats flowing from their noses.
"Not bad," Zane says.
Mike just looks a little pale.
Between the three of them, they'd managed to hustle Mike into a carriage, through the doors of Hogwarts, and up to McGonagall's office, where she'd been, surprisingly enough, waiting for them. Of course, it wasn't much of a surprise once she'd informed Mike that the Ministry had recently discovered Veela heritage on his mother's side.
"Since you've put several people in the infirmary, I'm rather disinclined to believe that you were in any danger," she says now.
Zane ducks her face in embarrassment, and Donna looks contrite. Harvey's one hundred percent certain that Donna's faking it.
"They were scaring Mike," Zane says. "They could have hurt him."
"Be that as it may, Ms. Zane, Louis Litt now has fungus growing from his ears--"
"You knew Ross had Veela blood," Harvey says, and ignores Donna's elbow in his ribs telling him to shut up and not interrupt the Headmistress. "You knew what could have happened, and you didn't bother to set up any precautions. That's pretty negligent, don't you think?"
McGonagall doesn't blink. "Are you telling me how to do my job, Mr. Specter?"
Now Zane is shooting him looks that could Petrify, and Mike's hands are fluttering in the air like that'll shut Harvey up. Harvey doesn't back down. His life might not have been at risk when he walked Mike up here, but he did get shoved around and elbowed, and so did Donna. And Zane is right: Mike had been scared, pale-faced and muttering Potions instructions to himself, and it's not that Harvey cares or anything--he doesn't even know this kid--but he thinks it's pretty damn unfair of McGonagall to lecture them about some minor hexes when Mike could have been crushed.
"No, Headmistress," he says. "I'm not telling you how to do your job. I'm just saying you didn't do it, period."
Donna covers her face. Zane stares at him, open-mouthed.
Mike waves his hands around more vigorously and says, "He didn't mean that, Professor, he's just--we're all a little shaken from the experience--"
Harvey folds his arms across his chest. "I'm not shaken, I'm just annoyed."
McGonagall is staring at him, too, and Harvey sort of, vaguely, regrets saying those words. Only idiots aren't at least a little intimidated by the Headmistress.
Then, to his relief, McGonagall's mouth quirks up a bit. "Twenty points from Slytherin, Mr. Specter, and don't ever talk to me like that again. But you have a point. I should have arranged for a little more security for Mr. Ross. I just didn't expect his Veela powers to emerge quite so soon. They're not usually active until around sixth year or so."
"Not unless there's a reason for them to be active," Zane says all-knowingly. Ravenclaws. Honestly.
Mike's face has gone from white to bright red. "Isn't there anything you could do, Professor? I can't go to class if people are...are going to follow me around like that."
"We could administer Calming Potions to anyone affected, and provide you some extra protection for you as you walk to class. But other than that, there's not much we can do."
"Extra protection?" Mike echoes.
"Yes. There are troll security firms. They can be quite aggressive, though."
"I can do it," Zane says. "I'm his best friend. And I'm not affected."
Harvey can sense what Donna is about to say before she even opens her mouth, but he can't stop her. "Harvey and I can do it, too," she says. "We already did a good job getting him from the train."
"That was a one-time thing--" Donna's elbow actually knocks the breath out of Harvey.
Mike, for some reason, looks delighted. "Really? Could you do that? That would be great, you're so awesome, thanks so much--"
Donna smiles at him, and Mike's blush deepens. Oh, Salazar, no. The twitchy little Ravenclaw has a crush on Donna. Harvey frowns.
Professor McGonagall agrees to let them be Mike's "extra protection" on a trial basis, provided that they refrain from using anything stronger than a leg-locking curse. Then she waves her wand, and platters of sandwiches and a large jug of pumpkin juice materialize on her desk. "Eat," she says. "And then go to your dorms. I don't want you causing mass chaos in the Great Hall until protocol has been arranged to handle it." She sweeps out of the office.
Mike grabs a sandwich and starts wolfing it down. Of course his eating manners are as atrocious as his hair. Harvey rolls his eyes.
Mike catches the gesture and actually slows down a little. "Um, thanks," he says, (remembering to swallow first, thank Merlin). "For, you know. Offering to help me."
"Donna offered," Harvey says, taking a sandwich and ignoring the pumpkin juice. He would rather have had coffee. "Besides, don't forget: you owe us a year's worth of favors now. Don't back out on it."
"And don't even think about using your Veela powers on Donna," Harvey warns, glancing over at Donna. She's laughing about something with Zane. "Or I will throw you to your adoring masses to devour."
It's hard to tell, but Mike's face might have fallen a bit. "Um, okay," he says, staring down at his sandwich.
"Good," Harvey says. "Now, tell me what you're good at so I can figure out how you'll repay me."
Harvey doesn't remember much about the Second Wizarding War. He was only six when Harry Potter defeated Lord Voldemort. But he knows the consequences of the War; he knows what it means to be a pureblood in Slytherin, even ten years later. Everyone in his House knows: it means to be the enemy. So when Jessica Pearson is made Head Girl in Harvey's sixth year, Harvey feels vindicated. Jessica might be Muggleborn--the Sorting Hat having made exceptions to Salazar Slytherin's pureblood rule after the War--but she's a Slytherin first and foremost. She's one of them, and she never lets anyone forget it. She never lets Harvey forget how much she's done for him, either.
Jessica dragged Harvey through his first year at Hogwarts, even while Harvey kicked and screamed and threatened to fail all his classes. He was a Slytherin, and his parents hadn't fought for Harry Potter during the War: as far as everyone else was concerned, he might as well be branded as Death Eater spawn. It didn't matter how well he behaved or how high his grades were. But Jessica had intimidated the Slytherin prefects into walking Harvey to all his classes; threatened to hex Harvey if he didn't finish his homework; and made sure that by the end of fourth year, Harvey had turned himself around enough to be made prefect along with Donna.
Harvey doesn't mind owing her, no matter how often he may complain about it. He's a prefect, and top of his class: the Ministry can't ignore him now, no matter what his parents may have failed to do during the War. So when Jessica approaches him at dinner a few days after term has started and says, "Tell me you're not making that fifth year Mike Ross do your homework," Harvey only pretends to be affronted.
"When have I ever done that?" Harvey asks.
"--because you've never trusted anyone to do it right, but Professor Flitwick has been raving about your new system of flowcharts, so I have to assume that you've finally found someone you did trust."
Jessica is giving him that look that means she knows everything he's been doing, and is enjoying watching him try to wriggle his way out of trouble. Harvey decides to give up before his grave's been dug too deep.
"Technically," he says, "flowcharts aren't homework."
"Jessica. I promise you, he's just organizing my notes for me. It's not actual homework. And besides, he owes me for protecting him."
Jessica's shoulders relax a little. "All right. He'd better not be. I'm not going to have you ruining Slytherin's reputation because you're too lazy--or worse, incompetent--to do your own homework."
"I'm not incompetent," Harvey says, genuinely offended this time.
Jessica smirks at him and walks away.
Harvey looks over at the Ravenclaw table, trying to find Mike. He's not there. Harvey frowns. He's probably skipped dinner to work in the library again. Harvey finishes the last of his bacon and steak (honestly, could they serve anything more plebeian?) and stands up.
"Going somewhere?" Donna asks, breaking off her conversation with Norma.
Norma gives Harvey the creeps, so he pretends she's not there when he says, "Just to the library. I'm going to check on how Ross is doing on my Arithmancy notes."
"Oh, sure, you're going to check on your notes," Donna says, her voice taking on that "I don't believe your bullshit, Harvey" tone.
Does she actually think that Harvey's going to check on Mike? "He's exceptional at organizing notes," Harvey says, and stalks off before Donna can accuse him of caring about Mike or something equally horrible.
Mike, like Jessica, is Muggleborn. Harvey learned this the same day he met Mike, when Mike was worrying about how kindly his grandmother's new Muggle nursing home would take to Owl mail.
"I always write her every week. The old place sort of just ignored the owls, but I don't know about this new one, they might not like it. But we couldn't keep affording the old place."
Donna had asked him how he was paying for the new place, and Mike had launched into an explanation about Muggle retirement pensions. Harvey tuned out of it. If Mike knew about him, he knew about the rumors that Harvey was Death Eater spawn. His awe of Harvey had most likely been inspired by fear, then, since every Muggleborn not in Slytherin expected Harvey to Avada Kedavra them any moment. Harvey tried not to be too disgruntled. If Mike was afraid of him, then he wouldn't back out of repaying his favor when Harvey reminded him of it.
But Mike had been the one to approach Harvey on the very first day of class--and at the Slytherin table, no less--with a plan to pay him back. "I'm really good at research and notes," he explained. "And I know you're taking a lot of Advanced classes, so I was thinking, it would be really helpful if you had someone to organize all your notes. You won't have to waste study time doing it yourself. I can do flowcharts and color code and everything. Here, look," and he'd handed Harvey an outline of the History of Magic reading assignment that Harvey had had to do over the summer.
"How did you do this?" Harvey asked, poring over the concise, detailed notes, important dates written in one color and historical figures in another. "You don't even have the book."
"I borrowed it from a sixth year friend last night."
"You read fifteen chapters in one night?"
"It only took me three hours," Mike said. He said it matter-of-factly, with only a hint of anxiety that Harvey realized meant he was waiting for Harvey's approval.
Harvey tucked the notes away in his History of Magic book. "This won't interfere with your own work?" he asked Mike.
"No, of course not! I've, um, sort of already learned all of the fifth years' lesson plans."
Harvey raised an eyebrow, reluctantly impressed. "Well, in that case...how do you feel about Arithmancy?"
Mike practically glowed.
It's a good arrangement, and Harvey doesn't see how it could ruin Slytherin's reputation. He's not cheating, he's not breaking any rules--he's just taking Mike's earnest, Ravenclaw devotion to color-coded study schedules and flowcharts and turning it to his advantage. That way, Harvey's studying is optimized by organized notes; he does better on his tests; he has more time for his prefect duties; and Mike Ross gets protection from his Veela-seduced fan hordes as well as an advanced look at his lesson plans for next year. Harvey is doing Salazar Slytherin proud.
And the protection isn't something to take lightly, either. When Harvey turns the corner to the library, he sees Mike and Rachel Zane backed up against a wall by a crowd of Mike's admirers. Harvey spots Louis Litt, still not fully recovered from his ear-fungus episode. He can't believe Litt is trying to make a pass again. Oh, the power of Veela allure. Harvey thanks his good sense for not letting him be seduced by Mike's rumpled hair and too-innocent blue eyes.
"What's going on here?" he calls out, striding up to the crowd and taking out his wand.
"They came out of nowhere!" Mike splutters, pressing himself as flat against the wall as he possibly can. "They almost broke Rachel's wand--"
"Just let me hex them!" Zane says. "I don't care what Professor McGonagall said, they've ruined my Potions notes--"
Harvey makes use of his height and weight to elbow his way through the crowd and put himself between them and Mike. "Protego," he says, and the expanding shield charm knocks the crowd off their feet.
"The first person to get up will get detention," Harvey says, as Zane tugs Mike safely into the library. "Oh, and ten points from every House except for Slytherin, for endangering a fellow student."
There's a collective groan: "That's unfair--" "There are Slytherins here, too--" "Just let us touch his hair--"
Harvey almost chokes. For Merlin's sake, Mike doesn't even comb his hair. "I know there are Slytherins in this crowd," he says, giving Litt a nasty look. "I'm not taking points off them because there's a much worse punishment waiting for them when they get back to the common rooms tonight. Now leave."
Harvey waits until the last of Mike's admirers have left, then goes into the library. Mike is hunched over some books at a table. He still looks pale, and much too skinny. Too much reading, and on top of that all those people assaulting him at random intervals--Harvey needs to talk to Mike about not skipping meals. He needs Mike to be healthy. For the purposes of note organizing, of course.
"Ross," he says, looming over the table in the way that usually makes first years Owl their mothers and beg them to come save them.
Mike jumps a little.
Across the table, Zane looks up from the book she's taking notes from. "Specter," she says. "Thanks for helping us out back there."
"Zane. I'm glad to step in whenever someone is too incompetent to do the job they said they would."
Zane scowls a little, but then she just rolls her eyes and goes back to her book.
"Yeah, thanks, Harvey!" Mike says. "Were you coming to get your Arithmancy notes? They're right here." He grabs a sheaf of parchments lying next to his elbow and presents them to Harvey with both hands.
He fidgets in his seat, flushed now and bright-eyed from what Harvey can only assume is his undying love for Arithmancy. Harvey wants to reach out and smooth Mike's hair down. It's an affront to people like Harvey who actually take the time to comb their hair in the mornings.
Harvey flips through the notes, skimming them. They're perfect, as usual. Mike has even added his own clarifications to some of the more difficult points of Professor Vector's lecture.
Mike is looking at him expectantly. "I added some of my own notes, just stuff that I picked up from reading the book. I hope that's okay, they're not distracting or anything, right?"
"They're fine," Harvey says. "Good work, Ross."
Mike beams. Harvey manages to turn his smile into something more like a smirk. Ravenclaws. Always so married to their pursuit of knowledge and perfect note taking.
Harvey should get back to the common room. In spite of Mike organizing all his notes for him, he still has a lot of homework to do, and he really would ruin his House's reputation if his grades started slipping. Poor grades are a hallmark of Gryffindors, after all. Harvey lingers at the table for a little longer, though. Mike hasn't gone back to his work yet; he's still sitting there, staring up at Harvey. Harvey can't help noting for the tenth (twelfth) time that Ross's eyes are much too blue.
Zane clears her throat. "Get lost, Specter," she says. "Some of us have O.W.L.s to study for."
Mike jumps in his seat again, and Harvey makes up his mind. "I have an essay to write for Transfiguration," he says, pulling out a seat. "It'll be quieter in here. Besides, you might still need some protection."
Sure enough, several Hufflepuffs who have been lurking nearby slink away as soon as Harvey sits down and gives them a look down his nose. Zane should be more grateful. Harvey's just saved her best friend from the indignity of being pawed by Hufflepuffs.
Harvey takes out his Transfiguration book and some pieces of parchment, and starts on his essay. He gets through two paragraphs before glancing up at Mike--now absorbed in a copy of what Harvey is reasonably sure is the seventh years' Charms book--and says, "Try not to study for too long, or the house elves will have gone to bed."
"What do house elves have to do with studying?" Zane asks.
"You two missed dinner, didn't you? We'll go down to the kitchens and make the house elves give you some food. Especially you, Ross. You're too skinny."
Harvey goes back to his essay before he can see Mike's reaction. Zane mutters something like, "Can you believe him?" but there's no actual dispute, so Harvey counts it as a victory. A victory for the quality of his schoolwork, of course--because it's not like he cares about Mike or anything.
It's not a secret that Harvey loves Quidditch. He doesn't play; he prefers to watch, because there's much less chance of injury while sitting in the stands. But he never misses a game, let alone Slytherin's first match of the season, so on the morning of the game he wakes up early and drags himself down to the Great Hall, where he pours himself a large mug of coffee. He's not a morning person, but this is Quidditch, and Slytherin is playing against Gryffindor. Harvey still can't believe that Donna won't make the sacrifice and wake up early with him to watch.
Apparently, Mike Ross shares the same enthusiasm, because he walks into the Great Hall not long after Harvey and wanders over to the Slytherin table. Several other early risers turn their heads and follow his progress with wistful gazes. Harvey gives them his best "I am Death Eater spawn and I will curse you" glare. The gazes abruptly drop. Every student (and several unlucky staff members) knows by now to pine from a distance whenever Harvey, Donna, or Rachel Zane are with Mike.
"Hi, Harvey!" Mike greets him. He sits down at the table and helps himself to some coffee, as if he's just another Slytherin. "You're up early for the game, right?"
"Yes," Harvey says, still not fully awake. He stares at the multitude of scarves wound around Mike's neck. "Why are you wearing so many scarves? Are you coming down with a cold?"
"What? No! I'm just, um--here." Mike pulls the scarves up, until only his eyes are peeking over the wool. He says, voice muffled, "I thought people might pay less attention to me if I covered myself up. Because, well, I thought I'd watch the Quidditch match with you, and I don't want people to bother us. I know you really like Quidditch, and it's Slytherin playing today--"
Harvey snorts. "As usual, you're showing an inability to understand the basics of Veela allure. It's not your looks that are attracting people. Believe me, I would know. It's just the fact that you're a Veela. Covering up won't help. It's the aura you're projecting that makes people flock towards you."
"Well, what else can I do?" Mike asks, plaintive.
Harvey wonders if it's the Veela charm that makes Mike's resemblance to a baby crup uncanny, or if it's just Mike's personality. Either way, it's making Harvey nauseous.
"You could stay in your dorm. It's not even your House playing this morning."
"But I want to watch with you."
Harvey rolls his eyes. "Fine." He plucks a roll from the steaming platter next to him and butters it.
Mike pulls the scarves back down and piles his plate with bacon and eggs. "So, is Donna watching today too?"
So he still has that crush on Donna. That must be the real reason he came down so early on a Saturday morning to watch the game. Harvey narrows his eyes at Mike. "No. She doesn't like Quidditch. Why don't you just give it up?"
"Give what up?" Mike asks. He blinks at Harvey, as if Harvey is the ridiculous one.
"You know what I mean. Your cr--"
"Harvey, you didn't tell me your little Ravenclaw was a Quidditch fan." Jessica sits down next to Harvey, a green and silver-striped scarf looped around her neck. Jessica never misses a Quidditch game, either. It was the only reason Harvey had listened to her during first year: anyone who was a Quidditch fan must have some sense. (Well, that, and she was rather terrifying.)
Jessica reaches for the pumpkin juice. Harvey grimaces at her.
She gives him a cool look. "Not all of us are capable of drinking only coffee, you know."
"Pumpkin juice is a horrible, plebeian invention. It's childish. It tastes horrible. And it has no caffeine."
Jessica hmm's. She's looking at Mike, and for one traumatizing moment Harvey thinks that she's been affected by Mike's Veela charm. Then she asks, "And who will you be cheering for today?"
"Slytherin, obviously," Harvey says. "People who sit with me are not allowed to cheer for Gryffindor. Ross, I'm going to abandon you to your adoring masses if you so much as clap for Gryffindor. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir," Mike says, flashing Harvey a grin that's neither relieved nor nervous. It's genuine, even a little cheeky.
Several students who have been sneaking looks at Mike drop their assorted cutlery, mouth hanging open. Mike doesn't notice. Harvey picks up his wand and twirls it idly. "Hurry up and finish eating, Ross. Jessica and I don't want to be late to the game."
"Yes, sir." Mike grins that grin again, and the more daring students (Gryffindors, of course, they're just bred for an inability to take a hint) actually get up from their seats.
Harvey begins to despair of watching the game in peace.
He manages to get until the end of the game without an incident. Several students try to sidle closer to Mike on the bleachers, but Harvey and Jessica make sure that their wands are in plain view, and they're left with a comfortably wide berth.
Jessica walks the walk when it comes to upholding Slytherin House's reputation on a day-to-day basis. When it comes to Quidditch, though, she doesn't hesitate to jump up, scream, cheer, and heap abuse on the opposing team. Harvey supposes that it doesn't exactly ruin Slytherin's reputation if one is, technically, supporting them. He doesn't care, either, because he's just as loud. He's willing to sacrifice some dignity for Quidditch.
"Foul!" he yells at Madam Hooch when the Gryffindor Beaters crowd the Slytherin Seeker to stop her from going after the Snitch. He and Jessica spend a few minutes engaged in tandem swearing.
Mike looks bemused and a little intimidated, but he claps dutifully every time Slytherin scores. And when the Slytherin Seeker dives for the ground, pulling up at the last second and pumping her fist in the air to display the fluttering Snitch, he joins in the loud cheering.
Harvey jumps up with Jessica to clap and roar in approval. He looks down at Mike, still seated and clapping, wrapped up in his ridiculous scarves, and can't help the smile that stretches wide across his face. Mike tilts his face up, meeting Harvey's eyes, and Harvey barely has time to register the strange, almost dazed expression on it before some fool launches himself at Mike, knocking him off his seat.
It's Jessica who Stuns Mike's attacker (admirer being too light a term for that assault) and holds off the crowd threatening to swarm them, because Harvey has temporarily forgotten how to use his wand. He only wants to punch these idiots in the face for ruining the game, for scaring Mike so badly that he's as pale as the day Harvey met him. There's a bruise blossoming across his cheek, and blood trickling from a cut lip.
Harvey helps Mike up, half carrying him.
"Stay calm. We'll take you to the infirmary," Jessica says, and starts clearing a path through the crowd. "Get out of the way, now, or I'm going to start remembering faces and giving out detentions."
"Don't worry, Mike," Harvey mutters. "We'll get you out of this, and I swear, once you're safe I'm going to go back and hex all of these idiots--"
"No! They don't know what they're doing--"
"This is not the time to be fair and forgiving. Merlin's beard, you should have been put in Hufflepuff, I don't care how brilliant you are."
"You think I'm brilliant?"
Harvey stares at Mike. "Not right now, I don't," he finally says. "Are you concussed? I'm going to make Madam Pomfrey check for that. 'You think I'm brilliant'? Really?"
Mike opens his mouth, then closes it, and lets Harvey drag him to the infirmary without another word. Obviously, his brilliance doesn't extend beyond books.
Mike refuses to stay in the infirmary once Madam Pomfrey has finished checking him over.
"I'm fine," he keeps insisting. "Really, Madam Pomfrey's already healed the bruise, and there's no permanent damage.
Harvey puts a hand on Mike's chest and pushes him back down on the bed. "You should stay overnight just in case. What if you have internal injuries?"
"I don't! Gregory didn't even tackle me very hard."
"Oh, is Gregory his name? What's his last name?"
"No, you're not allowed to give him detention," Mike says, widening his eyes. "He's normally very...well, he's not nice, exactly, but he normally wouldn't tackle me. It's the Veela thing, I really wish there was a way to fix it, it's causing too much trouble, even if it's why I--" He blushes. "Never mind. The point is, I'm fine, and you need to go back to your common room."
Of course. Mike doesn't want to spend time with Harvey any more than necessary; Donna's probably the only the Slytherin he wants to be around. Harvey sniffs and looks down his nose at Mike. "This morning you were begging to watch the game with me, and now you can't wait to get rid of me?"
"No, of course not!"
"I just thought you would want to go and celebrate Slytherin's victory with your Housemates."
Oh. Harvey doesn't deflate, exactly, but he stops giving Mike his most disdainful gaze. "No, it's all right. Of course, I would like to be celebrating with them, but I have to make sure you're safe first. It's part of our deal, remember? I can't ask you to organize my notes for me if I'm not protecting you."
"Right," Mike mumbles. "Our deal."
The door to the infirmary creaks open and Zane hurtles in. Her hair, normally so impeccable (and Harvey only notices because he notices everyone who has perfectly coiffed hair--he wants to make a scrapbook of them for Mike so he'll finally learn some styling techniques), is pulled into something that only the kindest of people would call a ponytail. Most of it is tangled; she must have been running her hand through it for the last ten minutes. Harvey steps aside as she runs up to Mike's bed.
"Mike! Oh my god, you idiot, you should have let me come to the game with you. Are you all right? Who did this? I'm going to make sure they have boils for the rest of the year."
Harvey flips through his conversations with Zane and remembers that he'd warmed up to her when he discovered that she was a Quidditch enthusiast as well, a fan of the Holyhead Harpies. In retrospect, it would have made more sense for Zane to come to the game than Mike. Honestly, the depths of Mike's crush are much too deep. It bothers Harvey. Mike and Donna would never work out.
"You didn't let Zane go to the game with you?" Harvey asks Mike. "I take back what I said about you being brilliant. You should have learned by now that the more protection you have, the better. If you wanted to be alone with Donna so badly, there are other ways. Not that you two are suited for each other--"
Zane stops fussing over Mike to look over her shoulder at Harvey. "Specter, what the hell are you talking about?"
"I'm sorry, are we supposed to pretend that Ross is being subtle? Because he doesn't do subtle very well. He should leave it to me. I'm talking about his crush on Donna."
Silence descends. Normally, Harvey would take the moment to be a smug bastard about finding out someone's secret, but the events of the day have left him irritable; not to mention the strange sensation that someone is trying to compress his heart into an even more shriveled mass than it already is. He just raises an eyebrow, daring Mike to contradict him.
Mike and Zane exchange a look. Then Mike says, "Harvey...I don't have a crush on Donna."
"You're a bit beyond the realm of plausible deniability by now, Ross. You have a crush. You might not be able to recognize the symptoms, which is understandable, given how married you've been to books. But I can see them, and so can anyone else who isn't deluded by your Veela charm. Zane, tell him."
"Tell him what? That you're really, really thick?" Zane asks. Her look suggests that she would like to give Harvey boils for the rest of the year, too. Harvey squashes any warm feelings he might have been developing for her.
"Tell him that he's in denial, and that the only way to get over it--"
"Ross, do we need to have a talk about how you always interrupt me? Just listen--"
"No, you just listen!"
Mike has sat up in bed, fists clenched, breathing hard. He's going pink all over. Harvey thinks about calling Madam Pomfrey, in the very real event that Mike causes himself bodily harm. Then Mike says, "Harvey, you know, I think you're very brilliant, too. But obviously you're not that brilliant, because I don't have a crush on Donna. I have a crush on you."
Harvey opens his mouth. Nothing comes out.
"Ravenclaw deserves at least thirty points for this," Zane says. "Someone has finally shut Harvey Specter up."
Harvey manages to grasp some words and form a complete sentence. "I'll give you forty points if you leave and make sure none of Ross's fans get in here. I need to have a private word with him."
"It's okay, Rachel," Mike says, when Zane starts to protest. "He's not going to hurt me or anything."
"You seem too confident in that," Harvey says. "I'm a threatening person."
"You've been mooning after him for half a year now, Mike, and he's been making you do his homework and thinking you have a crush on Donna. I think he's already hurt you."
"I was protecting him," Harvey says, momentarily losing the reins on his temper. He strides over to the bed and looms over Zane. "And just because I happened to get something in return doesn't mean that I didn't do a damn good job of it."
Zane crosses her arm and refuses to move. "Too bad you couldn't do a damn good job of recognizing when someone is head over heels for you."
"Rachel," Mike says. "Please?"
Zane looks at Mike, then tosses Harvey a contemptuous look that he would have appreciated if it hadn't been aimed at him. "Fine," she says. "Just don't blame me if I hex someone a little too harshly." She leaves the infirmary in an ill-tempered swirl of robes.
Harvey turns to Mike.
Mike is still pink, but his fists have unclenched. "Um, so..."
"So." Harvey knows he shouldn't be looming over Mike while he's ill, especially since he's just--dear God--confessed to Harvey, but the other option is to sit on the bed next to Mike. It's a rather appealing option, but Harvey won't feel comfortable with it until everything has been cleared up.
"You've liked me for half a year?" he asks Mike.
Mike looks down at the sheets he's twisting in his hands. "Maybe for a little longer. It started last year."
"We didn't even know each other last year."
"You didn't know me. I knew you, of course. Like I said, you're the top of your class. I really admired you, and then, towards the end of the year, you um...you kind of stood up for me."
"Yeah. Look, can you sit down on the bed or something, please? You make me nervous when you loom."
Harvey hesitates, then sits down on the very edge of the bed. "Just so you know, I'm only doing this because I want to hear the rest of the story of how you are, apparently, madly in love with me."
Mike doesn't smile like Harvey expects him to. "I wouldn't say madly in love. But anyway...do you remember last year, a little bit after finals, when you chewed Aaron Perkins out and gave him detention?"
"Perkins?" Harvey tries to put a name with the face. He can't, but he does remember giving someone with a first name like Aaron or Alan detention. He'd been down by the lake with Donna, relaxing, and Perkins must have been somewhere in the vicinity. Harvey remembers exactly why he gave Perkins detention that day. "He called someone a Mudblood and jinxed them," Harvey says slowly. "It was you?"
Mike nods. "You probably don't remember because you were too busy telling him all the ways you could have him brought before the Wizengamot for hate speech. Donna helped me up. She remembered me, you know, on the train. I think that's why she let me stay in the compartment."
"Wait a minute," Harvey says. "Has Donna known the entire time about your crush on me?"
"Er, yes. Harvey, I think everyone knew, except for you. I think even Jessica knew. While you were talking to Madam Pomfrey, she told me that I should pick a better place for our next date." Mike raises his hands before Harvey can say anything. "Not--not that was a date, of course! I just wanted to watch the game with you."
Harvey has rarely ever been out of the loop, never been left behind for long when it comes to anything. But Mike is proof that for once, everyone's known something that he's been unable (unwilling) to see. "You should have just told me," he says. "What's the point of mooning around?"
Mike looks up at Harvey, and Merlin, how could Harvey have missed it? Mike looks at Harvey as if he can't quite believe that he's here, sitting with Mike, so Mike will memorize every feature of Harvey's face and save it for the day Harvey inevitably leaves. It's the same look Mike had at the Quidditch game when Harvey smiled down at him.
"I knew you wouldn't feel the same way," Mike says quietly.
Harvey wants to smack Mike upside the head for being less than brilliant, but Mike has suffered enough injury for the day, so Harvey grabs his arm instead and pulls him into a hug. Close enough. "You should have told me anyway. How do you know I wouldn't have felt the same way? Are you secretly a Legilimens? Don't ever assume you know how someone else feels about you until they tell you themselves." There's a lot of irony in that advice, but Harvey ignores it for now. "Take a chance sometimes, Ross. Show some daring."
Mike had relaxed without hesitation in Harvey's arms, winding his arms around Harvey's waist and pressing his face against Harvey's chest. "That's a very Gryffindor thing to say, you know."
"How dare you, Mike Ross. You insult me."
Mike laughs. The vibrations feel odd against Harvey's chest, but not in an entirely unpleasant way. "So, um."
"I am going to wait patiently for you to finish that sentence."
"So." Mike pulls away slightly. His voice is quiet but clear when he asks, "So how do you feel about me?"
Mike's added body heat is making Harvey too warm; he can feel his face redden as he tries to construct a proper answer in his uncharacteristically blank mind.
Fortunately, Mike's adoring masses finally serve a useful purpose. They break the doors of the infirmary down and swarm inside. Mike squeaks but has enough sense to reach for his wand on the bed stand. Harvey stops him, raises his own wand calmly, and Stuns the students leading the charge.
The rest of the crowd stops and hovers a few feet from Mike's bed.
Harvey keeps his wand up and pointed at them. "I want you all to take a moment and reflect on the many hexes and curses I undoubtedly know, as a Slytherin. Then, if you're feeling brave enough, step forward."
No one does.
Harvey tries to hide his smile when Mike walks over to the Slytherin table. He's accompanied by the usual forlorn stares of longing, but when he sits next to Harvey, everyone makes a show of looking away and diligently attending to their breakfast.
"You're at the wrong table, Ross," Harvey says. "Ravenclaw is over that way."
"Good morning to you, too, Harvey," Mike says, and laces his fingers with Harvey's under the table. He smiles at Donna, who's sitting across from them. "Hi, Donna. Can you pass me the coffee, please?"
Donna passes the coffee. There's no mistaking the unholy glee on her face. She's going to mock Harvey for the rest of his life.
"Oh, it's no problem," Donna says. "Anything for Harvey's new boyfriend."
It's hard to look dignified when choking on bacon, but Harvey makes a valiant effort. "What--what are you talking about, Donna?"
"How did you know? I've only just told Rachel," Mike says, looking more pleased than he has a right to, and effectively ruins any plausible deniability they might have had.
"When Harvey swans into the Hall looking even smugger than usual and only drinks two cups of coffee, it means he's in a good mood. Oh, and he spent all night with you in the infirmary." Donna arches her eyebrows in a way that suggests that "spent all night" is a euphemism for something else entirely.
"Nothing of that sort happened, so you can stop looking so suggestive," Harvey grumbles.
"Nothing of what sort--oh." Mike blushes.
Donna's smile widens.
Of course nothing happened. Madam Pomfrey had been in the infirmary with them, and besides, Mike had still been shaken from the Quidditch game and mass storming of his adoring masses. Harvey and Madam Pomfrey had had to banish them from the room by force, with help from Zane, who had been temporarily overwhelmed by sheer numbers. Harvey had to give her credit: she never failed to get back up and fight twice as hard as before.
Harvey had given everyone mass detention and taken points off every House (even, to his great pain, Slytherin). Then he had walked Zane back up to the Ravenclaw common room, because Mike had asked him to.
"You should go back to your common room, too," Mike said. "You could use the rest."
And Harvey might have, but he could never leave a situation unresolved. He'd gone back to the infirmary, and when Mike started up from the bed, reaching for him, Harvey had given up on words and just kissed him. They spent the rest of the day lying on Mike's bed, and Mike told Harvey the story of his undying love (as Harvey had decided to call it, much to Mike's embarrassment) from the beginning again. Harvey ignored the pointed glares Madam Pomfrey kept giving him; it wasn't hard, because Mike had a habit of touching Harvey's cheek every few minutes and kissing him softly on the mouth.
"So, um," Mike said, when it was dark. Madam Pomfrey had given up on trying to kick Harvey out. "Are we...are we together now?"
Harvey didn't hesitate this time. "Yes, obviously. Do you think I let people I don't like kiss me?"
Mike smiled and kissed him again.
They'd gone down to the Great Hall together the next morning, Mike only leaving Harvey's side to talk to Zane for a little while. He's leaning slightly against Harvey now, spreading marmalade on his toast and chatting to Donna about the theater group that Donna is thinking about starting. They haven't kissed since leaving the infirmary, and Harvey rather misses it. He blames it on Mike, for kissing him so often yesterday and getting Harvey used to the habit.
Mike glances over at him and smiles a bit. Harvey looks pointedly at his mouth, but Mike just obliviously goes back to his conversation with Donna. Harvey frowns. Honestly, does he have to do everything himself? He leans in just as Mike is suggesting which plays Donna might put on and cuts him off with a kiss.
The chatter in the Great Hall dies down. Donna's eyebrows nearly disappear into her hairline.
"Um?" Mike asks intelligently when they pull apart.
"If we're going to be together," Harvey says coolly, "I expect kisses more often. That is what couples are supposed to do. I'm sure one of the many books you've read have informed you of that."
To his surprise, Mike smiles, that same cheeky smile he gave him yesterday before the Quidditch game. "Of course I know that, Harvey. But you can't expect me to do all the work, can you?"
"I knew there was a reason I let you stay in that compartment," Donna says.
"You," Harvey says, narrowing his eyes at her, "failed to tell me about his little crush from the beginning. Don't think I haven't forgotten about that."
"Oh, Harvey, try to be a grown-up. I can't explain everything to you forever."
Mike snorts on his coffee inelegantly, but the laughter dies away when a voice behind them says, "So your Veela powers have finally gotten you what you wanted, have they, Ross? But how long do you think it'll be before Specter comes to his senses?"
Harvey twists around and stares at the student sneering at them. "And who are you?" he asks. There's something familiar about him. He's seen that look of contempt aimed at Mike before. "Wait--" He looks over at Mike. "Alan Perkins?"
"Aaron," Perkins corrects him. "Aaron Perkins."
"I would apologize for thinking your name is too unimportant for me to remember, but I wouldn't want to be insincere," Harvey says. "Now run off. You're interrupting our breakfast."
Mike has turned around, too. He's pale, but he looks Perkins in the eye as he says, "My Veela blood has nothing to do with this relationship, Aaron. But it's none of your business either way."
"Really, Ross? Are you sure?" Perkins steps closer, getting into Mike's face. "Because I can't think of any other reason why Specter would want to be with a filthy Mudblood like y--"
Three nearly simultaneous jets of light hit Perkins in the face, and he ends his sentence with a howl of pain as boils and fungi sprout on his face, and a steady of stream of bats erupt from his nose.
Harvey looks over his shoulder and sees Donna standing up, Zane just behind her. Both their wands are pointed at Perkins. "Oh, really now," he says. "I could have handled that myself."
Zane shrugs. "It's more fun this way."
Perkins is shouting something. It's hard to make out because the bats have a rather amusing habit of flying into his mouth, but when they've cleared a bit Harvey can hear the words, "--will hear about this, how dare you, all of you--Specter, you Death Eater--"
There's another bang and a burst of light, and Perkins' entire body locks up. He teeters for a moment before crashing to the ground, the bats still fluttering around his face.
Harvey stares at Mike. His wand is pointed at Perkins; he's no longer pale, but flushed. Harvey recognizes anger for the first time on Mike's face--anger on Harvey's behalf--and something in his chest gives way. He touches Mike's hand gently, making him lower the wand.
"You didn't have to do that," he says.
"You hexed him for calling me a Mudblood," Mike says shakily. "I think it's only fair that I hex him for calling you a Death Eater."
"Mr. Specter! Mr. Ross!" Professor McGonagall's voice rings through the Hall. She bears down on them with the wrath of a thousand Howlers. "What is going on here?"
"He called Ross a Mudblood--"
"He called Harvey a Death Eater--"
"And that was grounds for the both of you--" McGonagall turns and glares at Donna and Zane, who stow their wands away and try to look innocent "--for all four of you to hex him?" She waves her wand over Perkins. The boils, fungus, and bats all vanish; his legs unlock. Perkins takes once look at Harvey's expression, though, and wisely remains sitting on the floor.
"Headmistress, thank Merlin, I was afraid for my life," he babbles.
"Mr. Perkins," McGonagall says. "Did you or did you not call Mr. Ross and Mr. Specter those names?"
"It was in the heat of the moment, ma'am. I didn't mean it."
"'Heat of the moment'?" Harvey says. "Really? You came up to us, unprovoked, and insulted Mike."
Zane and Donna both speak up.
"He did, Headmistress--"
McGonagall's lips thin. She's silent for a long moment, and then she says, "Twenty points from Slytherin and Ravenclaw for brawling in the Great Hall. Do not protest, Ms. Zane. And don't think about arguing with me, Mr. Specter."
Harvey is fully prepared to argue his case until McGonagall gives in, before she continues. "And Mr. Perkins. Slurs on anyone's blood status are forbidden at Hogwarts. I would have thought everyone knew that. Fifty points from Hufflepuff. And you'll be serving detention with me every week for the rest of the month. Do not ever let me hear you use that slur--or any slur--on anyone again."
Perkins mumbles something.
"What was that, Mr. Perkins?"
"I said, yes ma'am."
"Good. Now get up off the floor and go back to your own table. And as for the four of you--" Her gaze sweeps from Harvey and Mike to Donna and Zane. "I did tell you not to use anything more severe than a leg-locking curse, did I not? Do try to follow directions next time." She gives them all a look over her spectacles before striding back to the staff table.
Perkins gets to his feet. He opens his mouth, then thinks better of it and slinks off.
"Well, I guess it was only fair that she take some points from us," Mike says, sitting back down at the table. He doesn't look too stricken about it. He'll most likely earn all twenty points back in class for reciting assigned chapters by heart. A true Ravenclaw, like always.
Harvey and Donna sit down, too, and Zane joins them.
"I still don't think you had to hex Perkins," Harvey tells Mike. "I don't care what he calls me. Anyone who has any sense knows that I'm not a Death Eater. The Dark Lord wasn't exactly recruiting six year-olds."
"Well, I don't care what he calls me, either. My parents might be Muggles, but I'm still beating him in all our classes." Mike leans against Harvey. "But, um, thanks for standing up for me."
"Hey, Donna and I did, too!" Zane says.
Mike says, "I know. Thanks, both of you."
"What he means," Harvey says, smug, "is 'Thanks for saving me, but I appreciate Harvey more because he's my boyfriend.'"
Zane rolls her eyes.
"Don't get cocky, Harvey Specter. I have enough material to blackmail you for the rest of your life," Donna says.
Harvey is only slightly (very slightly) intimidated. It's hard to feel anything but content when Mike is sitting so close to him, sharing body heat. Harvey wraps an arm around his waist. "Now is a good time to kiss me," he informs Mike. "Just in case it isn't clear to everyone in this Hall that you adore me."
"Tell you what," Mike says. "Why don't you meet me halfway?"
Harvey does, and makes sure that only Mike (and maybe and Donna and Zane; they aren't dense, after all), knows that Harvey adores him too.