It was supposed to be secret.
He hadn’t wanted anyone to know- not yet, maybe not ever. He didn’t even want the receiver of the letter to know- especially not him.
Midoriya wasn’t half as timid as he’d been before coming to Hogwarts, Japan Extension, or even as nervous as he’d been in his first year. He’d mostly been that anxiety ridden because he’d never even know he was magical, despite having a wizard best friend his entire childhood, until he’d gotten the letter the same day Kacchan had. (Kacchan still called him Squib-Squirt even though they were in their fifth year and Midoriya was right behind him in grades (and they were the same height again!).)
And sure, Midoriya was a Gryffindor, known for being brave and bold, and sure, he’d lived up to the epithets quite a lot over the years. On and off the Quidditch pitch, where he was a star Beater and next Captain of the Gryffindor team once Mirio-senpai finished his seventh-year. (Honestly, he still sorta thinks he should’ve let the Entrance Exam Panel put him in Ravenclaw which is what his test results showed; but the warlock extraordinaire, Toshinori “All Might” Yagi, had been Gryffindor on the main campus in U.K. Midoriya had begged to be a Gryffindor in the essay portion.)
But there was being brave in certain situations and then being brave in other situations. And in the matter of the heart? Midoriya was more like the Lion in the first half of the Wizard of Oz, rather than in the end.
But… it was Valentine’s Day and his friends had encouraged to do something about his ridiculously besotted crush on a specific Hufflepuff Prefect. The problem was Iida Tenya had been his friend since day one, along with Ochako, yet another Hufflepuff. The idea of ruining such a great friendship, and making their on-pitch rivalry into something awkward, had Midoriya forgetting all about the scarlet-and-gold badge on his robes. Iida was…Iida. High-strung, a rules-stickler, intelligent, and an amazing Keeper. Even at his most flustering and high-strung peaks, most of their yearmates considered him with annoyed affection and listened to him with implicit trust. Midoriya knew he was well liked himself, but… but. He couldn’t stand the thought of putting Iida in an uncomfortable situation, cornering him with Midoriya’s more than platonic feelings when Iida had never shown that kind of interest in Midoriya. (Forget what Ochako said, she obviously just liked playing matchmaker.) So… a letter seemed like the perfect compromise. He’d be able to confess in some way, get his friends off his back, and Iida would have a nice surprise for Valentine’s Day! Who doesn’t like being told they’re amazing and handsome and liked on a romantic holiday? Maybe he’d even get to see Iida smiling from across the Dining Hall.
And when he’d gone to the Owlery to write in relative peace and solitude, and found a few red parchments among the choices for students to use, he’d thought it’d been a stroke of good luck. Red was obviously for Valentine’s Day, right? He had a vague memory of someone getting a red envelope a few years ago, but they’d run out of the Hall pretty fast while their Housemates had laughed uproariously. Maybe lots of people used these red envelopes for love letters?
He’d finished off that letter with none-too-little pride and even more blushing on his face than two years ago when Ochako had kissed him and told him they were dating. (It had lasted all of two weeks when they’d both forgotten until Tsuyu-chan had asked if they were going to the first off-campus school trip together. They’d gone with the massive group of friends instead and decided not to try the dating thing again. Not together anyway. His crush on Iida sorta happened just after that.)
Oh, by the name of Harry Potter and Merlin and all the kami, why did Midoriya have the worst luck ever? He’d heard people talk about Howlers, but he’d never SEEN one! How was he supposed to know a Howler was RED?!
Across the Hall, everyone was staring at Iida staring at the Howler in his hands. There wasn’t a return address on it, just Iida’s name written in Midoriya’s shaky chickenscratch that hopefully no one recognized. Whispers of shock that Iida Tenya had gotten an anonymous Howler had turned into fullblown, unashamed theories of just who had sent it and why. As heart-shaped confetti fluttered over their heads and doves cooed in the rafters (courtesy of Headmaster Nedzu’s enthusiasm for anything festive), Midoriya stared at his plate and tried to will a blush away. Just one look at him and everyone would know.
“Oh, no, Tenchan, it’s smokin’!” Ochako’s voice hit Midoriya’s ears and he twitched in his chair guiltily. He had no idea what that meant, but it probably wasn’t great. “You better run for it, fast.” He never wished the Gryffindor table further away from the Hufflepuff’s before.
“But why-” Iida replied, tone shocked and blank.
“Too late, bub,” Tsuyu croaked as she leaned over Ochako’s shoulder eagerly.
Everyone around Iida yelped even as he did, singed hands flailing in the air, as the letter burst into flames and an-all-too-familiar voice boomed over the crowd.
Horror struck Midoriya hearing his own voice bellowing louder than even his most adrenaline-fueled Quidditch shouting had ever done. His eyes popped open wide and blood drained from his head, freckles standing out starkly on his bone-white face as his jaw dropped. Around him, almost every Gryffindor gaped at him in shock. Seeing his own shocked features, many of the upperclassmen and all of his yearmates grimaced in sympathy.
“I KNOW THIS IS A LITTLE STRANGE AND I HOPE YOU DON’T THINK IT TOO FORWARD, BUT I’VE HAD A CRUSH ON YOU FOR TWO YEARS NOW. I LOVE WATCHING YOU FLY. THE HARDEST THING I HAVE TO FACE EACH YEAR AREN’T THE END OF THE YEAR FINALS OR EVEN THE OWLS WE HAVE COMING UP, BUT KNOWING I’LL HAVE TO FACE YOU ON THE PITCH AND NOT FALL OFF MY OWN BROOM WHEN YOU DO SOMETHING AMAZING!”
Midoriya groaned in pain and slunk in his chair, hands over his flaming face. It was only going to get worse from here. Please, let his magic just internally combust him right then and there.
No such luck. Stupid magic.
“I DON’T THINK ENOUGH PEOPLE TELL YOU HOW AMAZING YOU ARE, HONESTLY. SURE, YOU CAN GET A LITTLE OVERWHELMING, BUT I LIKE THAT. YOU’RE ALWAYS HONEST AND EARNEST AND GOOD. IF ANYONE DESERVES TO BE A HUFFLEPUFF, IT’S YOU. ALSO, I THOUGHT EVERYONE LOOKS AWFUL IN YELLOW, BUT YOU LOOK REALLY CUTE. HAS ANYONE TOLD YOU THAT THE YELLOW REALLY BRINGS OUT YOUR EYES?”
Midoriya whimpered and a hand- was that Mirio-senpai?- patted his shoulder.
“THE IMPORTANT THING THAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ON VALENTINE’S DAY IS SOMEONE CARES A LOT ABOUT YOU. I THINK ABOUT YOU ALL THE TIME. I THINK ABOUT HOW YOU LOOK FROWNING AND SCOLDING EVERYONE. I THINK ABOUT HOW YOU SCOWL WHEN YOU STUDY, EVEN THOUGH YOU ACTUALLY LIKE IT, IT’S JUST YOUR SERIOUS THINKING FACE. I THINK ABOUT HOW RARE AND BEAUTIFUL YOUR SMILE IS. I LIKE THAT YOU CARE SO MUCH ABOUT YOUR FRIENDS, THAT YOU WORK SO HARD FOR YOUR TEAM, AND I’M RUNNING OUT OF ROOM CRAPCRAPCRAP ILIKEYOU AND ONE DAY MAYBE I’LL TELL YOU DIRECTLY BUT PLEASE SMILE AND KNOW THAT SOMEONE WANTS TO BE YOUR VALENTINE. TODAY, TOMORROW, AND EVERY DAY. FROM, YOUR SECRET ADMIRER”
“Sorry, Deku, but it’s not so secret anymore,” murmured a genuinely warm and sympathetic voice. Yup, definitely Mirio-senpai. Midoriya whined behind his hands.
“I didn’t know,” he hissed against his wrists.
“MIDORIYA-KUN!” shouted Iida from across their tables. Midoriya jumped in his seat and sunk lower. Only his riotous mass of dark curls showed over the top of the table.
“I think that’s for you,” teased Yaorozoru-san, who was sitting with Todoroki-kun that morning instead of with her Ravenclaw mates.
“Oh, he’s getting on the table!” Kirishima whooped eagerly.
Midoriya peeped through his fingers as around him Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs all burst into cheers and applause while Iida awkwardly climbed onto the Hufflepuff table. He tugged at his tie, his pink-tinted cheeks visible even from this distance. Even Slytherins and Ravenclaws were looking around with grins and whistles.
“What is he doing?!” Midoriya exclaimed, sitting up a little more.
“Midoriya, Izuku!” Iida repeated. He stopped to clear his throat and pointed in Midoriya’s direction. The Gryffindor gaped dumbly. “I KNOW YOU WANTED IT TO BE SECRET, SO I’M VERY SORRY I DIDN’T RESPOND FASTER.” He actually placed his hands to his thighs and bowed. A lot of girls gushed dramatically over his bow, and a few of the guys nodded at the cool factor. Which of course, Iida immediately ruined by straightening up and chopping his arm woodenly through the air before stammer-yelling, “BUT- UH- SINCE IT’S RUINED- I WOULD- I M-mean if you- PLEASE BE MY VALENTINE’S ANYWAY. TODAY. TOMORROW. AND EVERY DAY. BECAUSE I LIKE YOU, TOO.”
“What?” Midoriya breathed, slipping sideways on the bench. He knocked against Mirio’s shoulder, only for Mirio and Inasa to start shoving him off the bench. “Wh- Wait, what-”
“Go answer him like a man, Midoriya!” Inasa challenged, his eyes shining brightly. Mirio gave him a thumbs-up and wink.
Midoriya stumbled his way around the table, jerking and grunting at the various backslaps from his Housemates. Iida was rushing down the table, ignoring the shouts from the professors’ table, before jumping off. Hufflepuffs catcalled and whooped after him. He skidded a little over the ground, breathing a little too harshly. Midoriya couldn’t help but grin weakly when Iida stood over him, the several centimeters of height difference shrunk as Iida leaned over, clasped his knees, and steadied his breath in small, controlled gulps of air.
Midoriya patted at his pockets and dug out his Gryffindor-crested handkerchief, something his mother had made him between first and second year, and, hand trembling, held it out. Iida stared up at him, cheeks still flushed and glasses sliding down his nose.
“You can… um… keep it,” Midoriya muttered, eyes a little shifty. “S-Sorry I put you on the spot, T-Tenya-kun.” He stammered over using Iida’s first name, hoping he got it.
Midoriya yelped in shock, hands held awkwardly at his sides, as Iida was suddenly holding him tightly, face pressed to Midoriya’s shoulder. His glasses pressed almost painfully into Midoriya’s neck, and everyone was staring. But Midoriya was grinning, hands reaching up to lay on Iida’s broad back, returning the embrace. Relief turned to his knees to water, but he stood firm and tall.
Because his letter worked even better than expected.
Iida drew away and took the handkerchief. “Does this mean what I think it does?” he asked, some level of hesitance and uncertainty in his dark grey-blue eyes.
“We could trade ties instead? That’s what people usually do, right?” Midoriya offered, shuffling a little and scratching his cheek.
“I’d like that, Izuku.”
Midoriya and Iida both flinched and blushed bright red at the first name.
“AND NOW KISS, YOU LUMPS!” Ochako shouted from the Hufflepuff table, which was immediately followed by cheers.
A hand fell on both their shoulders and they looked up guiltily to see Aizawa-sensei rolling his tired, bloodshot eyes down at them. “Please, don’t. You’ve made enough of a ruckus. It’s time for you two to leave the Hall before I have to actually give you detention.”
They both bowed and rushed from the Hall, ignoring the boos at Aizawa. They kept their heads ducked, not meeting anyone’s curious eyes. The moment they got out of sight, Midoriya reached over and grasped Iida’s hand. Iida stared over at him.
“C’mon, we’ve got about five minutes until everyone tracks us down,” he pointed out, eyes darting behind him.
“Where are we going? There are still classes in an hour!” Iida replied in confusion, but following.
“I guess that means we’ve got an hour,” Midoriya agreed with a too-carefully-nonchalant shrug.
“I still don’t understand? Is there something important we need to do?” Iida asked, frowning and baffled.
“I’ve been waiting almost two years to kiss you,” Midoriya finally stated, very clearly, and his ears red. Iida gurgled wordlessly, mouth dropping open on a slant and glasses falling down his nose. “We have an hour to make up for it.” He looked back at Iida and smiled lopsidedly. “Happy Valentine’s Day?”
Needless to say, Iida was late to Transfiguration class for the first time ever; wearing a scarlet-and-gold tie that wasn’t even tied and an impressively dopey grin on his face. In a different Hall, Midoriya slipped into his chair next to Todoroki in History of Magic with a wrinkled yellow-and-black tie looped lazily around his neck, still knotted but just barely.