Bruce and Natasha have spent the last three hours in the library trying to decipher their Ancient Runes homework when Tony shows up out of the blue, dressed in muggle clothes and with a fifth of peach Schnapps in the back pocket of his jeans. He yells something about it being Friday before they hear the menacing sound of Madame Pince's sensible heels approaching and Tony ducks behind their table, kneeling between them. He slides warm fingers across the small of Bruce's back, underneath his shirt, so he jumps just as Pince rounds the bookshelves and descends upon them.
He manages to blame the noise on a passing ghost while Natasha nods her head earnestly, and Pince leaves to bother a group of first years after taking a few moments to silently glare at them.
"Ta, kids," Tony says, getting to his feet to wrap an arm around each of their shoulders. "Now, I've come to rescue the both of you from academic hell and invite you to spend the night wrapped in the warm embrace of strictly prohibited liquor."
"Maybe," Bruce says, slowly, "if we pretend we can't hear him, he'll go away."
"There's precedent for that not working," Natasha says.
"Many have tried, but none have succeeded in ignoring my advances," Tony agrees, leaning in close to Bruce's ear. Bruce turns and makes a face at him.
"I will fail Ancient Runes, and then I will never speak to you again," he says, seriously.
"Don't be silly, darling, you're a genius," Tony replies, "but I will take my life in my own hands if it means I get to make friends with Drunk Bruce again."
"I think you have high expectations for such a small bottle of terrible alcohol," Natasha murmurs, pulling the Schnapps from his pocket and surveying it with distaste.
"I know that you've got pure vodka running in your veins, Romanov," Tony drawls, stealing it back. He tugs his Zeppelin t-shirt down to hide it this time. "I've got a selection worthy even of your Bolshevik standards hidden under my bed. I even got beer for Rogers, that plebeian."
“Well, I do like Drunk Bruce,” Natasha says, winking at Bruce before she stands up and starts to pile all her books back in her bag. Bruce makes a sad noise while Tony starts to explain a muggle drinking game he learned last summer, something that will inevitably lead to someone having semi-public sex and someone else ending up in the Hospital Wing with alcohol poisoning.
Bruce doesn’t want to guess which one he’ll be.
The party takes about an hour to descend into chaos. Even though there are only six of them taking over the sixth year Gryffindor boy’s dorm, the Head Girl has already come up twice to complain about the noise only to find an alcohol free room and all of them sitting quietly with their books out, except for Thor, who can never keep a straight face once he’s had a shot of anything.
They’re good at this. They’ve been doing it for awhile.
Past midnight, Clint and Natasha are playing a deadly game of Exploding Snaps in the middle of the floor, surrounded by shot glasses. There’s a steadily growing pile of coins next to Tasha, because Slytherins always play for money and for keeps. Bruce is pretty sure they have signs about it in their dorm.
Steve has been sipping the same beer the entire time, babysitting Thor as he gives up singing along to the AC/DC record Tony’s been playing on repeat to start entertaining himself by rummaging through Tony’s dresser, taking everything out and reorganizing it.
Tony’s lounging on his bed and watching everyone, and Bruce, after six shots, is inclined to join him and press his lips somewhere near one of his exposed collarbones. He sits on his hands, instead, and tries to ignore the way that Tony’s gaze always falls back to him and goes still and dark. When he accidentally looks up and sees Tony biting his lip, he decides to take up Tasha’s invitation to join their game.
Around the time that Thor falls asleep, Bruce has lost everything in his wallet, and he is even drunker than before. Tony keeps making mixed drinks that taste like candy and leaving them next to Bruce, and Bruce keeps drinking them, because he’s good at parties. Even though he has homework and Rowena Ravenclaw is invariably frowning down at him, Bruce has no problem with getting spectacularly sloshed and spending a few hours not worrying about things.
He finds himself next to Tony by the time Natasha leaves with her winnings, cackling softly, and Clint follows her with most of the remaining alcohol loaded up in his arms.
“I am too drunk to move,” Bruce says, solemnly.
"You can kip with me," Tony says, significantly, and he might as well have just yelled DRUNKEN HOMOSEXUAL LIAISONS with the way Steve sighs dramatically and leaves the room.
Bruce says, “Only to make sure you don’t choke on your own vomit,” and Tony leans in close to rest his head on Bruce’s shoulder and look far too pleased with himself.
It’s not the first time they’ve slept in the same bed. They’ve all been obnoxiously close since they ended up crowded into the same train compartment in their first year, and Tony’s a chronic cuddler. He ends up in someone else’s bed most nights. It’s just that Bruce is one of the few people that won’t make him leave.
Tony strips down to his boxers and slides under the sheets, watching as Bruce does the same, leaving on his undershirt.
“You know I’ve seen your scars before, right?” Tony asks, quietly.
“I don’t like to see them, either,” Bruce murmurs. He crawls in beside him, turning his back to him so Tony can crowd in closer, throwing an arm around him. They stay quiet for a few minutes before Tony shifts so he’s breathing warm against Bruce’s neck.
“Drunk Bruce didn’t make much of an appearance tonight,” he says.
“Drunk Bruce is terrified of you,” Bruce replies, before he can stop himself. Tony doesn’t say anything for a long dizzying moment, and Bruce coughs, continues: “Also, no tequila. Notoriously, he only comes out for tequila.”
“I’ll remember that.” Tony moves again, so his forehead is pressed somewhere in the vicinity of the top of Bruce’s spine, and Bruce lets a hand smooth over Tony’s on his stomach so he can pretend that he’s not shaking.
Bruce spends too much time in Gryffindor Tower. Nobody even looks surprised when he sneaks out of Tony’s bed, still kind of drunk even though it’s half past ten, and stumbles through the common room the t-shirt Tony wore last night and his own wrinkled trousers.
The Great Hall is blissfully quiet. He tucks into a plate of sausages and toast, hoping to absorb any remaining alcohol in his stomach so he can actually get something done today.
He’s not especially surprised when Pepper Potts appears out of nowhere and sits in front of him.
“Nice shirt,” she says. “I didn’t know you were into terrible muggle rock music.”
“It’s Tony’s,” he says, even though she already knows that. “That’s why it’s scandalously and ill-fittingly tight on me.”
“How are you two doing?”
She seems genuinely interested, but her choice of words is leading.
“Well, I’m fine,” he replies. “Tony’s currently passed out for an indeterminate amount of time, but he‘s alive and all. I think.”
“Oh, I see.”
It’s also not surprising that Tony chooses to sweep onto the bench next to Bruce at that exact moment, forcing himself against his side, one arm curling around his waist.
“You leave me all alone in my bed to have breakfast with her,” Tony continues. “I feel abandoned. Used. Scorned.”
“Good morning to you, too, Tony,” Pepper says, cheerfully.
Pepper and Tony’s two year relationship is the stuff of Hogwarts legend. It ended with literal flames before the summer, and they’ve been passive-aggressively dealing with each other’s existence ever since. It’s completely exhausting for everyone around them.
“Anyway,” Tony says, ignoring her. “I came out of my alcohol induced coma because I have something to talk to you about. Something private.”
Pepper is smirking, and Bruce stares sadly down at his toast.
“Could it wait until I’m finished eating?” he asks. “I really had my heart set on finishing a meal before my hangover hits.”
“It’s about your time of the month,” Tony says, and Bruce stills.
“Would you please excuse us?” he asks, softly, and he pulls Tony from his seat before Pepper can say anything and drags him into the hallway. Tony starts to say something, and Bruce pushes him up against the wall, holding him there with a hand on his shoulder.
“Whoa, hey,” Tony gasps. “This is new.”
“What did I say about your funny werewolf references in front of people who don’t know?” Bruce asks in a hushed whisper. He lets Tony go almost immediately. He doesn’t like when he’s actually angry at him, and being this close is hard when he can see the way Tony’s mouth goes slack, eyes dark.
“Don’t make them, I think,” he says, keeping his back pressed to the wall.
“Exactly.” Bruce takes a step backward. He ducks his head. “You know what could happen if it got out.”
“Yes, I do,” Tony says, sighing. He rocks on the balls of his feet, hesitating before he moves close enough to slide a hand down Bruce’s arm, fingers closing around his elbow. “I’m sorry. I just wanted to ask if the party helped take your mind off it.”
Tony looks so earnest when Bruce looks at him again, it forces Bruce to smile.
“I’d forgotten the moon was tomorrow until you mentioned it,” he admits, and Tony grins.
“Come on,” he says, and Bruce lets himself be lead back into the Great Hall, not thinking too much about the easy way Tony wraps their fingers together.
Bruce has finally finished his Runes homework when Natasha comes into his dorm, bag slung over her shoulders. She’s not wearing any makeup, but she looks like she survived the night a lot better than Bruce did. They’re pretty sure Tasha started drinking when she was three, though she refuses to confirm most rumors about her mysterious, shadowy childhood.
“Pepper wants to know if you and Stark are fucking,” she says, and Bruce lets his book fall to the floor.
“I don’t know,” he says, and Natasha stops in her tracks.
“Oh,” she says. “I sort of thought you’d roundly deny it.”
“I mean, we’re not,” Bruce says. “We’re not. . .doing that.”
“Ah.” Natasha abandons her bag by the door and glides over to sit next to him. “I see we need to have a discussion before I shamelessly crib off your homework.”
Bruce buries his face in his hands and says, “I can’t date Tony Stark, I’ll kill him, I know it,” and, “Help me, help.”
Natasha scoots closer to awkwardly pat him on the shoulder, and he slowly and systematically tries to dissect every single time Tony has ever touched him in a way that seemed more than friendly. Which is most of the ways.
Bruce convinces Natasha to keep everyone away from him that night, and he eats dinner alone in the kitchens and goes to sleep early. His roommates are all compulsively quiet. Bruce is pretty sure they hate him because all of his friends are certifiably insane, which leads to a lot of wacky and thus loud and distracting antics. It puts them off their studies, and Bruce sympathizes. He’s been clinging to his good grades desperately since Tony Stark first decided to adopt him.
He sleeps late on Sunday morning, and they all eat lunch together, everyone purposefully and obviously not talking about tonight. Stilted, enthusiastic conversation with no reference to the full moon has become a game by this point, and Bruce has to laugh despite himself when Thor says something about his goblet being full and then blushes and excuses himself from the table.
Even though he can feel the moon tugging at his shoulder blades, he agrees to a round of chess that turns into a tournament of chess which he’s pretty sure was designed entirely so Tasha and Clint could give him back the money they won off him on Friday night without hurting his pride. They eat dinner outside on the front steps, and Bruce won’t let any of them walk him down to the Shack.
He undresses slowly and sits by one of the boarded up windows, watching the fading light throw shadows through the cracks.
Every month, he tries to hold it off even though he’s never been able to. He curls his toes and evens his breath until it’s dark and he can feel every bone in his body starts to break off and change, until he’s on his hands and knees and yelling for the moon.
In the morning, Bruce wakes up in the corner with blood under his broken fingernails. Halfway into the night, he managed to tire himself out and get the wolf to fall asleep. He dreamt for what seemed like days of running through the woods alone with no end to them in sight.
He gets up slowly, grateful for how still and quiet the room is until he hears footsteps close by and grabs the windowsill to pull himself up. His mind races for options, but the door’s opening before he can even manage to stand up straight.
Tony steps inside and stops abruptly when he sees the look on Bruce’s face.
“I thought you’d be ready to leave by now,” he says, apologetically, and Bruce lets out a choked laugh.
“Right, right, because this is a thing you regularly do.” He looks around desperately for his clothes, terribly aware of just how naked he is compared to Tony, who’s wrapped in a coat and scarf. “I tell you lot all the time that I don’t want you to see this place.”
Tony grabs Bruce’s clothes from the bed where he left them and rushes over to hand them to him, purposefully not looking at him. He turns his back and goes to stare at the wall with a lot of intent until Bruce murmurs, “I’m decent,” and he turns around again.
“How’d it go?” Tony asks, sheepishly, and Bruce shakes his head.
“What are you doing here?” he asks.
“I wanted to be the one to help you back up to the castle,” Tony says. “It’s, uh. It’s a gesture.”
“Pomfrey’s going to be here any second,” Bruce says, turning away from him, pacing towards the door. “You’re going to get me in trouble, I’m not supposed to endanger students by letting them know anything about this.”
“I’ve already got Barton and Rogers faking an early morning archery incident as we speak,” Tony says, lightly. “If anyone can convincingly distract her, it’s Steve and his innocent puppy dog face.”
Bruce breathes out quietly.
“What kind of gesture?” he asks, so soft that Tony doesn’t hear him the first time and he has to repeat himself. When he looks up, Tony’s close by, looking more serious than Bruce has ever seen him.
“Pepper wanted to know if we were fucking,” Tony says.
“So I’ve heard.”
Bruce doesn’t move away when Tony moves in to take one of his hands, tangling their fingers together. His other goes up to thumb across the line of Bruce’s jaw. It should be too much, too fast, but it feels like they’ve been pushing this off forever. All the drunken cuddling and stupid flirting is leading up to this moment where Bruce feels like his heart is about to explode.
“I know that I’ll probably make you want to kill me even more than usual, but I thought maybe we could try this out,” Tony says, hand stilling so his fingers can curl carefully at the base of Bruce’s neck.
“Why do I still feel like I’m naked?” Bruce asks, and Tony grins at him.
“Let’s work up to that,” he says, like a promise, and Bruce laughs desperately until Tony has to kiss him to make him stop.