“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.”
― Jane Austen, "Pride and Prejudice"
Harry wants to groan in frustration. He runs his fingers through his hair, pulling a bit harder than he probably should, feeling a small pang of pain across his scalp. But Merlin, he feels edgy. He's perched on one of the armchairs in the 8th year common room, trying to concentrate on something – anything – besides Draco Malfoy who is currently lounging on the sofa across from him. He did bring his Charms homework but he knew that was a lost cause even before he sat down.
When Harry came back to finish his 8th year, he'd been miffed that he would have to share a common room with all of the other houses. Granted, he didn't have that much of a problem with the Hufflepuffs and the Ravenclaws but he couldn't just shake off all of the anger and resentment and hurt he felt when he was looking at Zabini and Parkinson and... Malfoy, could he? Well, that had been his argument after all. His and basically everyone else's had to share their space with a Slytherin.
They were told to get it together, that the war was over and to bloody well act like it. Reluctantly, Harry had to admit that McGonagall was right. It had taken them a week and an unhealthy amount of alcohol to get over their differences and Harry was fine with it all, he really was.
Harry liked sharing his space with the Slytherins. He found that Blaise was actually quite fun to talk to and Hermione seemed to like Pansy just fine. He'd even had one or two decent conversations with Malfoy in the two months that they had been 8th years together now.
And then someone had thought to introduce Malfoy to Muggle Literature.
If Harry ever found out who the responsible git was he'd hex them five ways from Sunday, he could promise that. Because Malfoy and Muggle Literature was the exact reason for his current predicament. Which was horrible. And so confusing. And quite frankly unacceptable.
He should be able to look away from the reading form of his child nemesis turned neutral classmate turned forced house member turned friendly acquaintance. He shouldn't be this captivated by how Malfoy's eyes widen slightly when he reaches a dramatic scene, sometimes accompanied by nervous lip-biting. Harry shouldn't feel warmth spreading through his whole body when a small private smile appears on Malfoy's face or when he starts moving his lips, silently forming the words in front of him.
The worst thing however, the absolute worst thing about Malfoy reading Muggle Literature is the running commentary that Harry just cannot not find endearing somehow.
Just in that moment, Malfoy snorts and starts to sit up a bit, cheeks starting to colour.
“You alright there, Malfoy?” Harry finds himself asking before he can even think about it.
Draco doesn't even look at him, he continues to read but nods.
“Yeah, this stupid idiot is just too socially awkward to function.”
Harry nods and smiles softly, trying to look away from Malfoy's now upright position – he must be getting to a good part, Harry thinks.
Another groan escapes Draco before he lets himself fall back into the cushions and buries his face in the book.
“Oh Merlin, how does this guy even bloody exist? You fancy her, you fucking moron. Don't make such a fuss of it.”
“What are you reading then?” he asks nervously. He's tried to talk to Malfoy about the books he's reading for a while now. He just likes listening to Draco talk about them. The fact that he has to ask the right questions first makes him somewhat nervous but the Slytherin usually gets bright eyed and excited whenever he is asked a question so Harry figures he is doing alright.
Draco lifts the book from his head, a strand of hair is catching between the pages and is falling loose over his face.
“Pride and Prejudice, by” Draco turns the cover to look up the author.
“Jane Austen,” Harry chimes in.
Draco rises an eyebrow.
“You know her?”
“She is kind of a big deal.”
Draco raises his eyebrow.
“Really? This is so... old.”
“It's a Muggle classic, I think it's read in schools even.”
Draco nods and opens the book back up.
Harry is not ready to let the conversation go, though.
“Do you like it, then?”
Grey eyes find his hand there is a beat of silence before he nods.
“Yeah, I kind of love it. It's so,” he smiles his private smile and Harry can't believe that it's directed at him. Well, directed at the book but Draco is currently smiling at him. So he'll take that.
“pure, I don't know how to explain it,” he finally says and then rolls his eyes.
“Though Darcy is a total tool.”
“Who's a total tool?”
Blaise interrupts them, sauntering in and sitting down at Draco's feet. Draco immediately throws his legs over his friend's lap and Harry is not at all comfortable with the feeling not unlike jealousy that slowly starts creeping up in him. And he does not want to start thinking about what it would mean if he started feeling jealous about Zabini having Malfoy's feet in his lap. No, sir.
“This bloke in this book,” Malfoy waves off and runs his hand through his loose hair.
Harry can't help but stare.
He lov- hold on. No. He's so not going there.
He thinks that having not slicked back hair anymore suits Malfoy is all. He does not love anything about it either way.
He's so engrossed in Draco's movement that he almost doesn't notice Blaise's glance in his direction. Or the knowing smirk. And what exactly the idiot has to knowingly smirk about is anyone's guess, Harry thinks.
“Pride and Prejudice, huh?” Zabini comments after taking a look at the cover.
“My ex made me read that once. You're not a Darcy fan then, Draco?” the smirk still in place.
“Are you kidding me? One, he is such an idiot. A moron. A dork. Super incompetent at basic human interaction, super socially awkward and has he ever talked to someone he was crushing on before? Because I think not judging by the way he talks to Lizzy.”
Blaise's smirk widens into a grin.
“Oh because you are so poised and cool whenever you are talking to your crush, yeah?”
Draco was about to continue rambling but that shuts him up effectively. His face darkens and a faint blush starts creeping onto his cheeks. He starts mumbling incoherent sentences but Harry thinks he can make out “untrue” and “idiot”.
Harry tries to look away, he really does. He even scribbles a few words onto the parchment in front of him in order to look busy. He feels like he is imposing on a private moment but it has not escaped his notice that Zabini has spoken of a crush as in present tense. As in Draco Malfoy has a crush right now. On someone. And if Harry didn't want to feel jealousy before, it was nothing compared to what he was feeling now. But he doesn't want to dwell on that. Not now. Not here. He thinks his weird and totally out of line feelings about Draco Malfoy are best discovered alone. At night. When nobody is around to witness his moments of weakness.
Definitely not now, when said Draco Malfoy is just there and Zabini keeps shooting him these smirks and god, what the hell is he doing?
Harry thinks he should leave and is just about to pack up his stuff when he notices that Blaise and Malfoy are looking at him.
"What?" he asks, confused.
"I just asked you what you thought of Darcy's character."
"I've read the book a really long time ago, yeah? Can't really remember."
"Well, any particular feelings toward socially awkward blokes, then who can be a bit arrogant and dumb and overall stupid?"
Harry look from Draco, who looks incredibly uncomfortable to Blaise, who just grins smugly and sighs. He feels like this is a trick question. He really ought to leave. He really...
"Depends. Are they cute?"
Blaise's grin widens.
"As a button."
"Does one realise that the dumb stuff they do and say comes from socially awkwardness?"
Blaise thinks a bit harder on this one and finally nods.
"I suppose when one is fairly okay with basic observation."
"Count me in then," he says and really does pick up his homework then because his heart is hammering against his rib-cage and he feels slightly faint. He cannot even look in Draco's direction anymore and quite frankly? He is absolutely and totally in over his head. What the hell is he thinking? Crushing on Draco bloody Malfoy.
He almost flees the Common Room after that. Barely able to say good night. Might as well. He doesn't trust his knees to hold him steady anyway and he doesn't really want to find out what they would do if he had taken one last look at a blonde idiot who likes reading about socially awkward blokes with self-esteem issues. But Merlin would he love to live the life of a Victorian novel Heroine right now. Going to Balls, dancing with Mr. Darcy... well maybe not at the beginning of the novel. But later on. Only that he would not want to dance with Mr. Darcy either. Harry shakes his head. He's going mad. Completely and utterly mad. Stupid Muggle literature. Stupid Malfoy. Stupid bloody Romance Novels.