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grow some (yule) balls

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Bruce brings up the word ‘prom’ and everyone who isn’t part-muggle frowns at him.

“Prom,” Bruce repeats, and swallows his mouthful of steak. “It’s a dance that seniors have at high school, it’s a pretty big deal-”

“Oh,” Thor nods sagely. “You mean the Yule Ball.”

Clint raises a hand. He’s leaning back in his chair far enough that Professor Fury is eyeing him from the front table, probably to watch him fall on his ass. “Sorry, the What-What?”

“Yule Ball,” Steve says. “My Ma says it was the best night of her time at Hogwarts.”

“Your mother didn’t know about the secret passageways, then,” Clint says, muffled through his mouthful.

Bruce makes a face at him. “Chew your food, you animal.”

Clint opens his mouth and waggles his tongue, the sight of the half-chewed food making everyone at the table groan and kick at his legs. He grins, swallows his food and lets his chair rock back into where it should have been all along. “So we have it in seventh year?”

“Fifth,” Natasha corrects him, and Clint stares at her.

“We’re fifth years this year, Nat.”

She shrugs. “Guess Fury should be announcing it sometime, then.” She continues to chew her food, determinedly not looking at Clint as he continues to stare at her.

“But- is it a tux thing, proms are tux things, I don’t own a tux!”

“Dress robes,” Natasha corrects him, her smile quirking when Clint’s voice pitcher higher.

“I don’t have any dress-fucking-robes, either! Were they just gonna spring this on us, why have I not heard anyone talking about it-”

“I wouldn’t think you’d want to go,” Steve says, and Clint pauses. A line appears in his forehead.

“Well, I thought you guys would want to go,” he mutters before raising his voice. “I mean, if you guys don’t want to go, I sure as hell aren’t going.”

The group exchange glances, pausing their chewing as they ponder it over.

“My Ma would be sad if I didn’t go,” Steve says slowly.

“Might as well,” Natasha shrugs, her fork dragging in her egg yolk, making it bleed yellow all over her plate.

Thor is grinning brightly. “I have already began to help Jane pick out her dress.”

“The Ball is months away, Thor.”

“The perfect dress does not happen overnight,” Thor replies seriously, and turns to Bruce. “You could take Betty!”

Bruce starts stammering, and, in an effort to change the subject to something other than him, he turns to Tony. “Tony, are you going?”

In response, Tony snores, and Bruce remembers why he hasn’t been making as many sarcastic remarks as usual- he’s asleep, his head burrowed into his arms. He had stayed up all last night trying to make a cellphone that works for merfolk and had kept Bruce up until three with his muttering.

Bruce nudges him. “Tony.”

Tony’s snores stop, but his eyes don’t open. He whines quietly, nestling further into his arms.

“Leave him alone,” Steve says. “He’s tired, god knows he doesn’t sleep enough.”

“I know he doesn’t sleep enough, I share a dorm with the bastard,” Bruce says, and nudges Tony again. “Tony, wake up.”

Clint throws a roll at him, calling, “Tony,” and tries to look innocent when Steve frowns at him. “What? I’m helping.”

When the roll connects with Tony’s forehead, he whines louder and his hand comes up to swat groggily at the air. “Go ‘way.”

“Are you going to the Yule Ball,” Bruce asks him, and Tony twists his head so he’s looking at Bruce.

“How long was I asleep for,” he croaks, squinting at the candlelight overhead. “It’s still dinner in July, right? I didn’t sleep all the way until winter?”

“Yeah, you grew a beard,” Clint tells him, and Natasha slaps the back of his head lightly.

Tony rubs at his chin, and then looks back up at Bruce. “I might,” he says, and then pushes his face back into his arms, blocking out the light.

“Steve’s going,” Bruce says dryly, and Tony’s head whips around to him as he kicks Bruce under the table.

“Good, I hope he has a great time, why are you telling me this,” Tony hisses, refusing to look at Steve and resigning himself to the fact that he isn’t going to get any sleep at this table. He sighs and sits up, the light feeble but still too much. “Are you all going?”

A series of shrugs and ‘meh-s’ and one enthused ‘yes’ from Thor, and Tony sniffs.

“Guess I’m going, then.”


 

It takes a few months, until the frost sets in, for the Yule Ball craze to kick up. People start whispering, outfits start being rifled through, and dance practice begins at Hogwarts.

“This,” Bruce remarks, “is a nightmare.” He glares at Tony, who is wearing a shit-eating grin and is gliding effortlessly across the floor. “Screw you.”

Tony shrugs and guides Pepper around Bruce in a circle. “It’s not my fault my parents dragged me along to a lot of balls growing up. Pep, I’m leading.”

“Whatever helps you sleep at night,” she tells him, smiling sweetly. Pepper Potts- fourth year, Beater, Head Girl- is a Gryffindor if there ever was one, complete with bright red hair to match her tie. She also tries to casually start leading every time Gryffindors have dance practice with Ravenclaws, and Tony has actually started to fall for it once or twice.

“Are you going,” Pepper asks.

Tony glances at her. She’s very close; he can count her freckles. “To?”

She rolls his eyes at him. “The thing we’re practicing for, genius.”

“I might grace everyone with an appearance,” Tony allows, and hears her snort.

“Mm-hm,” she says, sounding like she’s holding back a smile. “And you’ve got a date already picked out, of course.”

Tony raises his eyebrows. “Why, Pepper Potts, I do declare.”

“Not me,” she sighs, swatting his shoulder and managing to continue performing her steps perfectly. She’s silent for a moment, and Tony thinks that’s the end of it, but then she says, “I was just wondering how you’d break Steve’s heart this time.”

Tony hasn’t missed a step since he was eight years old, but this time he nearly stumbles- Pepper catches it in time and they’re back into the right steps in seconds, but she definitely noticed.

“I haven’t broken his heart any other times,” Tony says, the words sour in his mouth. “I doubt I’d do it by getting a date to the ball.”

He can feel her eyes on him, and pointedly keeps his gaze straight ahead. He hears her sigh again, and then she’s shifting them into a position where he’s staring straight at Steve and Peggy, both red ties even when Steve was so close to being yellow, both of them obviously nervous even though Peggy is better at hiding it than he is. They look good together, dancing like that- they’re going slowly, probably because even being the Captain of the Quidditch team and being built like a brick shithouse, he can’t dance for shit.

Steve has to bend his head to hear her, and they’re laughing through the nerves. His hands are huge on her hips; Peggy parts her lips to say something and Tony has to maneuver him and Pepper somewhere else in the room when he imagines Peggy leaving red lipstick marks on Steve’s mouth.

“We talk sometimes,” Pepper says, low in his ear. “Steve and me. At the Three Broomsticks.”

That’s news to Tony- they all have places they go when they aren’t with each other, but Tony had thought he knew about most of them.

“He thinks about you when he has to produce a Patronus.”

Tony winces, the words like a physical impact into his gut. “I didn’t know that,” he says quietly. Across the room, he can see Thor and Jane, Thor big and blonde and Jane small and mousy, both of them grinning as he lifts her off the ground and spins her around and gets them in trouble with the Professor.

Bruce- Bruce, shit, Bruce is dancing with Betty, and Tony would bet his inheritance that Betty was the one to gather the courage to ask Bruce before he asked her. They both look like they’d fall over if someone breathed on them, staring down at their feet as an excuse not to look in the other’s faces.

“He also told me about the incident with Thor’s enchanted chocolates.”

Tony hums. “Yeah, that was- interesting.”

“Interesting as in you wore a scarf for a week to hide the hickes Steve gave you while under the influence of a botched potion that pretty much just made him feel really, really drunk?”

“Interesting,” Tony echoes feebly, nodding. “Wow, didn’t know Steve was that much of a talker.”

“I may have gotten a few butterbeers in him before he divulged that particular information.”

Any other time, Tony would laugh. Now, he’s got a lead weight in his throat, sinking down. “Potts, you minx.”

“I do what I can,” Pepper says. She pulls him closer so he doesn’t get clipped by a passing dancer. “You should ask him.”

“Ask him?”

“To the thing we’re practicing for.”

Against his will, Tony’s gaze flickers back to where Steve has just stepped on Peggy’s foot and is apologising profusely. “He doesn’t like me like that,” he says. It’s what has been on repeat in his head for years whenever the subject had came up.

Pepper pulls back enough so he can see her arched eyebrow. “He nuzzled your neck and told you he loves you. And that you smell good. And apparently he had no shirt on. God, I am so jealous of you right now.”

Tony’s laugh is pathetic. Really. He’s heard Bruce do a better fake-laugh than that. “He meant it as a friend. And come on, Potts,” he says, taking his hand off her hip for a moment to wave it over himself. “I’m gorgeous, who wouldn’t nuzzle my neck?”

Pepper makes a noise like she’s considering it but won’t let him have the satisfaction. “You’ve seen the way he looks at you. You have to have seen some of them. No-one can look away fast enough every single time.”

Tony has seen some of them, is the thing. He’s caught looks Steve has aimed at him, looks Tony was never supposed to see, looks that made Steve look away and blush whenever Tony turned in time to catch him, and some of them were lust and some of them were something else altogether. Some of them- some of them, Tony has only seen in television: looks his parents never gave each other, looks the main characters give each other when they’re too full of feeling to communicate through words, looks people give each other from across a room while they’re dancing with other people when they want to be in the other’s arms. Tony should know; Steve’s probably caught him looking at him the same way a couple of times when Tony was tired, or his reflexes to kick in fast enough, and Steve turned and saw Tony looking at him with whatever expression he had on at the time- Tony hates to think what it may have been, he’s never successfully made the same face in the mirror.

Tony says, “He deserves better,” and feels like an idiot the second it leaves his mouth- thinking it is one thing, but hearing it from his mouth, the words sound oversimplified and pathetic and stupidly lacking.

“I’m sure you think so, dummy,” Pepper says, sighing. “It’s exactly what Steve thinks about you, which makes it so much more sad. And annoying, did I mention this whole thing is annoying? After five years of watching you two pull each other’s pigtails, get in screaming arguments, get each other landed in detention and pine from a distance even when you’re sitting at the same table, can I just say, from the entire student body of Hogwarts and several of the professors: one of you needs to do something before both of you miss your chance. High school doesn’t last forever, Tony. You won’t always have Charms class as an excuse to hold his hand to show him the proper wandwork.”

She’s been meeting his eyes since she called him a dummy, and she pats his cheek before leaving him there to stand there and feel like he’s just gotten socked in multiple places with a bludger, limited but not including to: his stomach, his forehead, and his stupid, good-for-nothing heart.



 

It’s snowing by the time the day of the Yule Ball arrives, and by the time it gets dark, the stone courtyard is covered in a thin layer of white.

Clint looks unbearably uncomfortable in his dress-robes that Bruce gave him, and Bruce doesn’t look much better. Around about November Bruce had blurted out, “BETTY WILL YOU GOTOTHEYULEBALLWITHME,” and Betty had blinked and smiled and kissed him on the cheek so he didn’t stop blushing all the way through Charms.

October-ish, Clint had slouched up to Natasha and shrugged and asked her if she wanted to go to the ball and ridicule everyone who made a big deal out of it, y’know, as friends. A friend date. A frate, if you will. A-

“Stop now,” Natasha had said. Then: “Yes, I’ll go with you, Clint.”

Thor and Jane had been a shoe-in before the Yule Ball was even announced for the year, which left Steve and Tony to skirt around each other, avoiding the subject until Clint slung an arm around both their shoulders and sighed melodramatically. “Man, isn’t it so great me and Nat are going as friends to the Yule Ball? I love how that’s an option. Like, a date isn’t necessary to have a good time, right? Just gotta chill with your buds and dance your hearts out! Which is why I’m so happy Nat and me are going together. As buds. Hey,” he had said, snapping his fingers at their faces, which had been borderline amused, “I’ve got an idea! How about you guys go together? Y’know, as buds. Buddies. Budaroonies. BFFS, if you will.”

“Stop now,” Natasha had said out of the corner of her mouth from where she had been pretending to scribble things in her Herbology book.

“Just- a suggestion,” Clint had said. “Uh, Tony, how about it?”

Tony had executed the most casual shrug he could accomplish. “I don’t really care either way, I mean, if Steve wants to, then I guess that’s-”

“I wasn’t going to go with a date anyway, so I think it’d be nice,” Steve had said, and that was that. They both tried to ignore how Clint and Natasha high-fived after Clint sat back down.

They don’t end up in pairs that much- Bruce and Clint stop looking so stiff in their dress-robes after conversation starts up in the group, and everyone mills around the drinks table.

After the first sip, Bruce makes a face. “Wow, that’s spiked.”

“So spiked,” Tony agrees, and takes a long mouthful. “Tastes so, so bad,” he says, and drains the rest of his cup.

“Pumpkin juice and firewhiskey,” Clint says. “God-awful.” He then drinks what’s left in his cup and goes for a refill. “Man, I love high school.”

Beside him, Betty hums. “I love Hogwarts,” she sighs. Her eyes are on the candles that float a dozen feet above their heads; spinning slowly. “Like- sometimes I’m just walking around, looking at stuff, and I’m filled with how much I fucking love this school, even with all the homework and Peeves and everything.”

“And the Whomping Willow,” Clint says. “Fuck that tree.”

“You’re only saying that because you tried to climb it and it threw you, ironically, into the hospital wing,” Tony tells him, and Clint shrugs.

“The mysterious rooms in the hallway that sometimes lead to different dimensions,” Thor pipes up.

“Moaning Myrtle,” Steve says.

“Moving staircases,” Jane adds.

“Ah, hate those,” Natasha says, on her second cup. “I say if they’re going to give us detention for being late, they shouldn’t make the route to class change every couple of minutes.”

A ripple of murmurs agreeing with her rises up, and they all shuffle to the left to let other people make a face after they taste the punch and go to put it down before they realize it’s spiked, and then start going for more cups.

Steve eyes a girl who is greedily sipping at a cup, gaze flickering left to right. “Shouldn’t they put a charm on the bowl so people can’t spike it?”

“Pretty sure the professors know it’s a rite of passage,” Tony muses. “They probably spiked the punch themselves when they went here.”

“That’s a terrifying thought,” Jane says, and they all pause to think of a professor of their own choice at the Yule Ball, spinning drunkenly and yelling at the floating candles.



 

The punch bowl refills and suddenly starts tasting strange again five minutes after it gets refilled, and around about his fourth cup, Tony is ready to dance something that isn’t ballroom dancing. Mostly it’s just grabbing his friends’ hands and jumping around and yelling along with the lyrics- the Howling Commandos are on stage, god knows how Fury got them to play here- but it’s fun, and Tony’s laughing, and he could do this forever, he really could: holding his friends’ sweaty hands, belting out what are probably the wrong lyrics into a mostly-dark room.

At some point he ends up over by one of the windows with Jane, Betty and Steve, having a loud conversation with Jane and Betty about the combination of tech with magic while Steve watches and nods, completely lost but grinning anyway at how Tony can’t stop talking with his hands when he’s this excited.

The Howling Commandos start a new song, and Tony recognizes the guitar riff and spins around to the stage. He shouts the lyrics along with two thirds of the room, most of whom are sufficiently drunk enough by now to scream it out: “OH, ALWAYS WANTED YOU TO LOOK AT ME LIKE THIS NOW, OH, ALWAYS NEEDED THIS BUT I DON’T KNOW HOW, TO CLOSE THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US NOW, I’M MISSING, MISSING, MISSING YOU-”

Steve says, “I’m kissing you,” looking right at him, and Tony stares. He stares until Steve frowns and then does a little double-take and says, “No, I- the lyrics, it’s I’m kissing, kissing, kissing you,” he says, and even in the badly-lit room Tony knows he’s blushing.

The song goes on around them, and Tony is vaguely aware of Betty tugging Jane away from them, snorting loudly as she does it and apologizing when she nearly makes Jane trip over her high heels.

“Not ‘missing,’” Steve says, and clears his throat. He’s taller than Tony, has been ever since his growth spurt in third year, but sometimes Tony still gets surprised when he turns around and comes face-to-face with Steve’s neck. He has to look up at him to meet his eyes, now. He’d have to stand on his toes to kiss him.

For once, Tony doesn’t immediately push the thought down when it surfaces.

High school doesn’t last forever, he remembers Pepper telling him, and realizes he doesn’t want to miss his chance.

“We should go outside,” he says.

Steve says, “Why,” like he didn’t think about it before he said it.

“Dancing,” Tony says.

Steve says, “Um,” and looks back over his shoulder, then back at Tony. He points with his cup towards the dancefloor. “It’s a ball, aren’t we supposed to dance here-”

“You’re incredibly uncomfortable,” Tony points out, and steps closer, trying to sound casual when he’s sweating bullets. “Wouldn’t you rather go for a spin in the Forbidden Forest than stick around here and have your professors watch you do the box step?”

Steve’s mouth twitches. “What is it with you and the Forbidden Forest, Tony?”

“It’s Forbidden,” Tony says. “Duh. Don’t pretend you don’t secretly love the Forbidden part, you rebel.”

“I’m not a rebel.”

“Secret animagus,” Tony whispers, and Steve swats his shoulder. “You sneak into the forest when you want to be alone and once a month to keep a werewolf company. You’ve broken your friends out of detention. You know and regularly use secret passageways. You talk back to Professors when you think they’re being unfair. Hate to burst your bubble, Rogers, but you’re a rebel.”


“You do everything you just said I did.”

Tony grins. “I’m a rebel, too. Now come on, while we’re still young.”

Steve rolls his eyes, but he’s grinning right back at Tony as they make their way out of the Great Hall and go the familiar route towards the secret passageway they usually go into to go to the Forbidden Forest. They’re both tipsy, so the walk through it is more louder than usual, giggling and almost tripping over some roots before they emerge, about a dozen feet into the Forbidden Forest. It’s enough to keep them hidden, but also enough that they can faintly see the lights on Hogwarts.

“Lumos,” Tony says, and his wand-tip lights up. He positions it between two branches so it casts light on both of them. “There, now we won’t trip over our own feet.”

“Speak for yourself,” Steve says. “I somehow manage to trip over everyone’s feet when I dance. Sprained Peggy’s toe one time, had to carry her to the hospital wing.”

“I thought Peggy Carter would insist on walking on it to the hospital wing.”

“She did,” Steve nods. “I carried her.”

Tony flutters his eyelashes. “What a hero.”

“Nah,” Steve says, and shuffles his feet, and Tony remembers, right, dancing.

They start off simple: box step, and Tony smiles down at their feet. “See, no sprained toes yet.”

“Don’t count your chickens,” Steve sighs, and Tony looks at him.

“Before they hatch,” Steve says. “It’s a saying- don’t count your chickens before they hatch, my dad used to say it, it’s a muggle thing.”

“I assumed,” Tony nods.

It’s freezing. Their dress robes aren’t equipped for this, their shoes are getting soaked even with just the thin layer of snow. There’s still a bit of it falling, tiny flakes melting in their hair, on their faces and hands.

“This was a horrible idea,” Tony whispers, because it seems like a whispering moment. “I’m so sorry. We’re going to get so much detention.”
“I’ll live,” Steve says. “Besides, if our professors can look over three hundred drunk fifth years, they can look over us sneaking out. It’s not like they’d be surprised. I caught Coulson making bets with Professor Hill about whether or not one of our group would do something that would end up in a mass detention.”

Tony laughs into Steve’s shoulder, his head tilted so he can see the castle. “Shit, that’s beautiful,” he says, and Steve turns. They stop, staring at Hogwarts and the lights outside it, the snow coating the grass and the stone roofs of their school. It looks like something from a story, something out of a fairy-tale.

“I like that this is how I’ll remember the Yule Ball,” Steve says into Tony’s hair. His nose is pink with the cold, along with his ears. “My Ma is always going on about how great hers was. I’m glad I got one just as great.”

“We’re freezing and wet and we’re probably getting detention when we go back.”

“Isn’t that how most of our adventures end?”

“No, most of the good ones happen in the summer,” Tony says. “When we can do stuff like this and not end up with hypothermia.”

“That was once, and only Clint got it. It was his fault for staying up in the Whomping Willow in a snowstorm.”

“What is with Clint and that tree,” Tony wonders aloud.

Steve shrugs, and Tony feels his shoulders lift. “It started out with him trying to ride it like a horse, but now he wants to sneak up on it. Like, to try and stay in it as long as he can without it noticing.”

“And then see how long he can ride it for before he gets thrown off,” Tony says, and Steve laughs, and Tony’s fingers tighten on the shaking of his shoulders.

The snow has made Tony feel less tipsy, which isn’t something he wants to feel right now, but he’s on the tail end of high school and after that he could lose Steve, and he can’t handle that, can’t even handle the thought of it on his best days. It would be easy, just leaning up and kissing him, but Pepper had caught up with him earlier and suggested the words thing, and Pepper’s right about 99% of the time.

“Back when you ate the chocolate-whammy meant for Thor,” Tony starts, slow, and Steve stiffens in his arms, “You said you loved me.”

They haven’t been dancing since they turned to look at their school, their school that they love and fucking hate but mostly love, their school that they’ll be dreaming about when they’re old, and Tony looks at its lights and the domes of the castle and keeps going. “Do you?”

Steve pulls in a breath. “Tony-”

He stops, and Tony leans back, straightening up to his full height. “I love you,” he says, the words alien in his mouth when they aren’t used jokingly, and the breath that Steve pulled in sticks in his throat.

“I,” Steve says, and then: “Oh,” more of an exhale than anything. He shivers, from the snow melting in his hair or something else, Tony doesn’t know. “Really?”

“No, this was a cruel joke, lets go back inside so I can dump the contents of the punch bowl on you and take pictures to send to your mother,” Tony says, and Steve’s laugh cracks on the end this time.

“She’d probably hang it on the wall.”

“Not that I don’t like Sarah,” Tony says, “but could we not talk about her right now?”

“I could do that,” Steve says, sounding rough and breathless at the same time, and then he’s kissing Tony, cold fingers on his jaw, cupping his face. His lips are icy but his tongue is hot and in Tony’s mouth, god, shit, why haven’t they been doing this since they met on the train in first year?

Tony pushes his fingers into Steve’s hair, which isn’t a good idea, because there is snow tracking all the way through it and only makes Tony colder. But then he tugs a bit, and Steve’s next breath comes out suspiciously like a moan, and oh, Tony needs more of that sound in the world. He tugs again, gentle but making fists in Steve’s hair, and this time it’s undeniably a moan ghosted across Tony’s mouth.

Tony smiles, and Steve breathes, “Shut up,” in a voice that sounds too happy to be thoroughly embarrassed, before pulling back. “I love you, by the way,” he says, “but could we please go inside and get warmed up before we do anything else?”

“Depends, what are we going to do? Because if it’s sex, I can totally cast a spell that puts a condom over your dick, that is a thing I can do. Or over my dick. Either way.”

“Tony,” Steve yelps, ears burning with something other than cold. “That’s- well, interesting, teach me later, but I’d rather not spoil this night by getting frostbite.”

“Spoilsport,” Tony says, but eagerly gets his wand, stuffs it into his pocket and climbs back into the passageway. “Please tell me you know a spell that gets water out of clothes,” he says as Steve closes the door behind them, wand in hand. He mutters “Lumos,” and then says,  “I don’t, but someone’s bound to.” He rubs his hands along his arms. “Jeez, these dress robes are thin.”

“I’ll google a drying charm,” Tony says, whipping out his phone and wiping melted snow off of it. “WWWW,” he says when Steve stares. “Wizard World Wide Web. It’s in the works, the wizarding world is tragically behind on technology.”

“I know, you only talk about it 24/7. I only get about half of it.”

“I’ll explain the other half later.”

“Can’t wait,” Steve says, wrapping an arm around Tony’s shoulder and drawing him close. “Warmth,” he says when Tony glances at him.

“Warmth,” Tony repeats, and kisses him on the jaw. “Right.”

“Complaining?”

“No,” Tony says, flashing a grin and putting an arm around Steve’s waist. “Okay, got it.”

Steve cranes his neck. “The drying charm?”

“Yep,” Tony says, getting his wand out.

Steve makes a face. “Tony, shouldn’t we check it’s-”

“Exaresco,” Tony says, pointing his wand at his own robes, and they both freeze as-

Tony’s robes become miraculously dry.

“Or we could experiment on ourselves and see what happens,” Steve says. “Okay, do me.”

Tony leers, and Steve swats his shoulder. “Do the spell, Tony, I’m freezing here.”



 

Clint is stumbling by the time they get back, and most of the professors are gone, most likely because there’s a limit to how much they can pretend they don’t notice their students’ drunkenness.

“Guys, guys,” Clint slurs. He stops, frowns, and picks a leaf out Steve’s hair. “Why you got a leaf,” he says, staring at it pinched between his fingers. “Are they giving out leaves? I want a leaf, why didn’t I get a leaf?”

“They aren’t giving out leaves,” Steve tells him, but Clint is already stumbling off to show Natasha his new leaf.

The dancing has mostly stopped now, except for a few people still hoarsely singing along. In the seats, Jane’s head is in Thor lap, Thor stroking her hair and gazing down at her adoringly as she looks up at the candles and babbles about the physics of floating candles. Bruce and Betty are nowhere to be seen, and Natasha is currently doing the robot with Pepper while trying to tell Clint that yes, the leaf is very pretty and no, you cannot put it in my hair.

“I don’t think Clint is going to have any memories to look back on the Yule Ball with,” Tony remarks, and Steve hums his agreement.

Tony startles when he feels a cold hand against his, but then Steve is twining his fingers through and Tony decides, sure, whatever, he can survive with a numb hand. Steve rubs his thumb against Tony’s palm. “Warm enough yet?”

“I might need some more help,” Tony says, leaning in. “With the warmness.”

Steve’s agreeing hum is distracted this time as he kisses Tony, mouth distinctly warmer than last time, and they kiss for a (wonderful, awesome, jump-up-in-down fantastic) seconds before Natasha yells over the fading music, “GUYS, I’m happy you’ve stopped being idiots about that, but could I get some help over here?”

Steve and Tony break apart, arms still around each other.

“Is he,” Steve starts, and Tony blurts, “Definitely in the chandelier, what the fuck, we only looked away for forty seconds, how does he do this, I thought we weren’t going to get detention tonight.”



 

They get detention.

Clint because he used the chandelier as a swing and ended up breaking it, Natasha and Steve because they swore very loudly in front of a professor, Bruce for having sex in a semi-public place, Thor for throwing a ladle to knock Clint from the chandelier and accidentally hitting Fury with it.

Technically, Tony doesn’t do anything they could give him detention for, but Fury had taken one look at him and snapped that there was no way Stark did nothing detention-worthy for the whole night, and added him to the list.

Tony isn’t too sad about it, since he gets to make out with Steve whenever the Professor turns away. They manage to do this without getting caught until Clint starts signalling the teacher to turn around and gets them caught in the act.

Which, in turn, gets them more detention. In which they make out uninterrupted, since no-one else is there to rat them out to the professor, and they walk out of the room an hour later, flushed and rumpled.

The morning after that incident, Steve is sitting at breakfast when the mail owls come in and start landing, and Steve puts down his spoon and holds out his hands when his Ma’s owl swoops down at him. A letter lands in his hands, and he blanches as the colour registers.

“Oh, god,” he says, and the others lean in to examine the Howler.

“Open it,” Bruce says. “Get it over and done with.”

They start a chant, “Open it, open it, open it-”

Steve tears the seal with a since, and his Ma’s voice promptly echoes off the walls of the Great Hall.

“I HEARD YOU GOT DETENTION. TWICE. ONCE FOR SWEARING IN FRONT OF PROFESSOR COULSON, WHICH, I GOTTA SAY, WAS DUMB ON YOUR PART, STEVIE. SAVE IT UNTIL LATER NEXT TIME. SPEAKING OF SAVING IT UNTIL LATER, I ALSO HEARD THE SECOND DETENTION WAS FOR MACKING ON TONY STARK DURING THE FIRST DETENTION. NICE ONE, STEVIE. DIDN’T THINK YOU HAD IT IN YOU. GUY’S BEEN MOONING AFTER YOU FOR FIVE YEARS NOW, YOU’D THINK YOU WOULD HAVE DONE SOMETHING ABOUT IT. I’M SO PROUD OF YOU! OH, AND ANTHONY- REMEMBER THAT CONDOM SPELL I TAUGHT YOU. OKAY, SEE YOU ALL AT BREAK, LOVE YOU, BYE.”

The Howler crumples into dust onto the table, but Steve doesn’t look up from where his face is buried in his hands. Around him, most of the Hall is giggling if not outright laughing, even Tony had been laughing until his name had been brought up and his mouth had snapped shut.

“My Ma taught you that spell,” Steve whispers, distraught.

Tony tries desperately not to start laughing again.

It’s a while before Steve lifts his face out of his hands, and by that time people have stopped laughing. He starts in on his soup, less enthused than he had been before he sat down. “Mooning over me, huh,” he says, and Tony pauses.

“I might have been. You were just as bad, though.”

“Uh-huh,” Steve says. “At least I didn’t let a Flobberworm bite my finger because I was too busy staring at your ass when you bent down to get lettuce.”

“You tell a guy one thing and you never hear the end of it-” Tony’s rant is cut off by lips pressing to his, and he smiles into Steve’s mouth.