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Love is weird. One day you’re minding your own business, and then it hits you, and now you’re obsessing over that quiet, plump boy that you haven’t paid too much attention to before. At least, that’s how it was for Blaise.

Now, Blaise wasn’t a person known for showing his feelings. He usually stayed out of all the gossip about the most good looking girls and boys that his friends were so fond of. This new feeling hit him with a strength he wasn’t expecting and so he didn’t know how to face it.

He thought of talking with Daphne, but she was away for the summer, and this, Blaise thought, called for a face-to-face conversation. Then he thought of Theo, but with his father in Azkaban he wasn’t a good source for love advice. The next obvious choice was either Draco or Pansy, but they were too noisy for Blaise liking. So that’s how he found himself stalking the boy of his dreams in a little herbalist’s shop in Diagon Alley.

Of course, Blaise was worried that this wasn’t love, but rather some kind of hero worship like the one the whole wizarding world had over Harry Potter. He had acknowledged his feelings when he read the article in The Prophet in which they told the story of how Neville Longbottom had killed Nagini and faced the Dark Lord. But before, during that whole year, Blaise had become more and more interested in him.

Neville was everything Blaise and his friends weren’t. He was brave, kind, fair; he stood up for his friends and didn’t mind helping scared first years, or taking some curse aimed at another student. He fascinated Blaise.

He had decided to do something about his situation—to discover if this was love or just admiration. So here he was, stalking the Silver Boy.

There must be a proper way to do this , he thought, while hiding behind a shelf full of big fertiliser bags.

He could see Neville on the other side, chatting happily with the shopkeeper about the healing properties of some ugly flower he was holding.

Blaise’s heart jumped at the cute scene. Not only is he a brave wizard who slices evil snakes, but he’s also a handsome and cute one. I’m doomed .

After five minutes of observation, Blaise prefered this term over stalking , he got tired and impatient. So he cast a well-aimed Wingardium Leviosa , and some pots made a scandalous noise when they fell from their shelf and cracked on the floor. When the shop attendant went to mind the mess, he approached Neville.

“Longbottom,” he greeted.

Neville looked at him in confusion; this was the first time Blaise had spoken to him.

“Zabini, do you need something?”

“Actually, yes,” he put his hands in his robe pockets to hide his nervousness. “I wanted to speak with you about… about... about plants, yes. Plants.”

Blaise swore to himself. Why was he such a coward?

“Okay,” said Neville slowly. “And what is it you wanted to know about plants?”

Blaise had no idea, or interest, in something so dirty as a plant.

“Er… they, plants, that is, like… the sun, right?”

He cringed to himself. Is this the best I can do? He is never going to go out with me, and for good reason.

“Yes. Are you okay?” Neville’s brow furrowed. “I don’t think that’s what you really wanted to say.”

“No, of course not. I…”

“Yes?” Neville encouraged him with a smile.

“I like you. Like really like you. Like in a going-out-and-snogging-and-shagging like you.”

He cringed to himself again. Why am I so embarrassing ?

Neville was staring at him, his cheeks pink and his mouth agape. And if Blaise was seeing right—and there wasn’t any reason to think he wasn’t—Neville’s eyes were hopeful and teary.

“You… like me?”

“Yes. I like you because you’re brave and kind and good and cute,” he cut himself off before he said something that made the other boy run away from him. However, Neville was smiling at him, still hopeful and still pink. So cute!

“I…” Neville started to say, and then took a deep breath before he continued, “I like you too, but I never thought that you were interested in me.”

Blaise’s heart and brain were so occupied dancing in happiness that he almost didn’t catch the question Neville’s lips were forming.

“Do you want to go outside and have a beer or something?”

“What? Of course!”

Neville put the ugly flower he was still holding on a little table with utmost care, then turned to him, looking suddenly shy.

They went to the pub near the end of the alley, a new place full of interesting drinks and popular among the people their age.

They spent the afternoon talking and enjoying each other’s company. It was rather late when they decided to go home. Near the Leaky Cauldron Neville grabbed Blaise’s arm and asked him, “May I kiss you?”, his cheeks that cute pink from before.

Blaise nodded, and then panicked because he had never kissed someone before.

Neville leaned forwards, and Blaise was at a loss on what to do with his hands. He wanted to wrap them around Neville’s body and in his hair and never let go. Instead, he decided to cup Neville’s face in what he hoped was a romantic gesture.

Neville closed the slight gap that was still between them and they lost themselves in the clumsy and inexperienced kiss, full of tenderness, love, and future promises—like the promise of many more experienced kisses.