That was it. That was Phillip’s last straw. He was going to hex Phineas Taylor Barnum into the next century and back.
That red jumper needed to be gone as soon as possible.
Wearing a jumper wasn’t against the rule per se, but there should be limits such as stop wearing bright red when you were a bloody Slytherin, damn it. Although Phillip couldn’t quite picture PT in green and dark clothes, he still needed to learn where he belonged. Phillip had learned that the moment the Sorting Hat sent him to Hufflepuff four years ago; he had learned that for all his life growing up in the House of Carlyle. PT was in his seventh year now; a muggleborn or not, he should learn some proper manners for once before he graduated.
A Slytherin shouldn’t wear red. As much as his parents wanted him to go all green and silver, Phillip stuck with black and yellow. He had no idea why PT couldn’t do the same. PT didn’t even want to be a Gryffindor. He didn’t even fit in; Phillip’s best friend, Anne, was a Gryffindor, he knew PT couldn’t bear living as one.
They met about a week after Phillip was sorted. A third-year P. T. Barnum wasn’t any different from who he was now: ambitious, proud, cunning, a Slytherin to the core, yet not at all noble. Professors loved him and hated him at the same time. Everyone might have the same conflict, to be honest. Even Phillip himself had this dilemma; being torn between admiring the older boy and strangling him to death had become his daily routine since second year or so.
Right now, Phillip wanted nothing more than to get rid of that obnoxious jumper.
Red might be a symbol of bravery on a Gryffindor, but on PT, it looked somewhat seductive. Like passion. Like fire. Like the sun itself. Red might suit him better where it wasn’t labelled as bravery and courageous -- anywhere but Hogwarts. When a lost, innocent first year Gryffindor asked PT where their common room was and he led the poor thing to the dungeon, Phillip knew he had to do something for the greater good.
It was final: that red jumper needed to be gone.
“Phillip, have you seen my jumper?”
(Don’t ask him how he stole the thing in the first place. Just don’t.)
Phillip looked up from his blueberry tart and stared blankly at PT. For once, the older boy was wearing the uniform correctly -- all because of the lack of his wrong-coloured jumper.
He looked good. And to be fair, weird.
Phillip sighed. “Which jumper?”
“The red one.”
“Why am I not surprised?”
PT arched his eyebrow at the younger boy. “So?”
“Why should I know?” Phillip asked back with a challenging tone, his expression nonchalant. “Has anyone borrowed it?”
“Who’d want to borrow it?”
“I don’t know. Who’d want to wear it anyway?”
PT clicked on his tongue. Phillip almost felt sorry for him for a mere second as he tried not to fidget. Then PT offered him a nice smile -- a gentle one he rarely used with others -- and shrugged unabashedly. “Well, it never hurts to ask, doesn’t it?”
That smile was totally against the rule. Phillip held back a grunt, turned back to his blueberry tart, and wondered how much PT knew.
Phillip thought of the soft jumper he hid under his pillow, still glaring bright red. The plan was to evanesco it, simple as that, but the way it screamed a property of Phineas Barnum stopped him every time he lifted up his wand.
Perhaps he should ask Anne for help. Perhaps he should just leave it where it was and pretend it wasn’t even there. Perhaps he should stop thinking about it or how PT looked so wrong in dull Hogwarts black and green-and-silver striped tie.
(Perhaps he should just burn it.)
Three days later, a huge barn owl swooped in and dropped PT a parcel.
Charles choked on his pumpkin juice.
“What, Barnum? Is that green?”
PT hummed as he looked at the green jumper with thoughtful eyes. “It doesn’t look orange to me.”
Charles burst out laughing. “Got yourself a secret admirer?”
PT winked at the other Slytherin and put on his new jumper, looking so pleased with himself Phillip wanted to smack him in the head from across the Great Hall.
“Seems like I did.”
Phillip took it back; PT in deep Slytherin green was far more annoying than red, especially when he seemed so unabashed by the fact that he was actually wearing the right house colour.
He even got the nerve to look smug.
Phillip was considering that a detention might not be that bad if he could hex that bloody idiot in the hallway and get rid of his jumper. He bought it himself. He had every right to burn it.
Preferably while PT was wearing it, thank you very much.
Perhaps Phillip should stop using the red jumper as his pillow.
Okay, he probably should give it back to PT. He stole it once. Returning it shouldn’t be any harder, right?
Unless the owner caught him first. Redhanded.
“As much as I appreciate your unseasonal gift, I’ve gotta say I still prefer red.”
Holy fucking Merlin.
Phillip started so hard he thought he was going to have a heart attack. Glancing up, a tall figure of Phineas Taylor Barnum was towering over Phillip’s bed with a smirk plastered on his face. It was already past curfew and this was the Hufflepuff dormitory, how in the world did he get in here?
“How do you---” Phillip began, then suddenly stopped as he realised where PT’s gaze was fixing on: that bloody jumper. On his pillow. Of course it was all about that jumper. Why hadn’t he burned it yet? Phillip had no idea.
“Can I have it back?” PT asked politely, though his eyes were glinting with amusement and mischief. Phillip was sure he had never blushed this hard in his whole life. PT was clearly suppressing a laughter.
“I---” Phillip started over. “I--I just---”
“If you want something from me, Phillip -- anything,” PT cut in; his voice dipped low, eyes darkened, “All you have to do is ask.”
Crawling into his bed was also against the rule. Nobody had rights to do just that without his permission. Phillip couldn’t say it out loud, though. All he could do was shifting backward until his shoulders hit the headboard and PT’s face was suddenly inches apart from his and holy mother of Helga those lips shouldn’t be this soft. Thank Merlin a silencing charm was a thing.
If this was PT’s plan to get his jumper back, Phillip swore he would take it hostage forever.
Phillip almost whined when PT finally pulled himself away. Almost.
“Wait--- Wait a minute,” Phillip muttered, trying to regain his composure and dignity as much as he could. “How did you get in here?”
PT grinned from ear to ear. “I have my way.”
PT confirmed his suspicion by kissing him again. Now that was cheating. His face was already flushing deep red and his lips were all wet and swollen, he didn’t need any more of those; but then PT caught his bottom lips between his teeth, grazing it slowly, seductively, and Phillip suddenly realised that his only option left was to surrender.
Phillip should have known he was doomed since the very first day he met PT.
He should have burnt that bloody jumper when he got a chance; he really should. Phillip swore he would find a day to do it eventually, but -- oh Merlin, PT needed to stop kissing him like that -- perhaps today wouldn’t be any good. Now certainly wasn’t a good timing.
Fuck his life.
The next morning, PT was wearing proud red at the Slytherin table, laughing with his friends as though nothing happened.
Phillip still wanted to hex him to the next century and back.