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Your beauty is beyond compare

With flaming locks of auburn hair

With ivory skin and eyes of emerald green

Of course he’d date her. Of course. There’s no reason not to. Ginny is attractive – definitely one of the prettiest girls in all of Gryffindor. Dean is attractive – the most attractive man that Hogwarts has to offer. At least in Seamus’ eyes.

Seamus watches the fire dance across Ginny’s freckled face as Dean helps her with her Charms assignment in the common room. They’re on a couch, and he’s watching idly from an armchair by the window, the sunset giving way to a hazy purple dusk just outside. Dean’s elbow brushes against Ginny’s as he whispers one of their many inside jokes to her, causing Ginny’s brilliant eyes to light up for the umpteenth time that night.

Seamus remembers when it was him that Dean would be talking and joking with throughout the evening hours.

Your smile is like a breath of spring

Your voice is soft like summer rain

“Dean, wait up!” Ginny’s melodic voice calls from a few meters behind them. Dean stops in his tracks and turns around, but Seamus takes a few more hesitant steps forward. They had been having a lovely conversation about the upcoming Hogsmeade weekend – which Dean promised to spend with Seamus this time.

“Right, I’ll be on m’way then,” Seamus sighs, trying not to sound too disappointed. After all, Dean’s happiness is his number one priority. Should be his number one priority. But sometimes Seamus gets selfish. Ginny scurries forward and into Dean’s awaiting arm, allowing her boyfriend to drape the limb around her shoulders, hand resting on her upper arm. Dean turns back to his friend, eyebrows knitted together in worry.

“Nonsense, Shay! We’ve got Potions together in ten minutes, I’m not gonna make you walk by yourself,” Dean explains, his concern fading into a pleasant grin. Ginny grins beside him and nods, and Seamus is once again reminded why Dean is so drawn to her. She’s cute. Her smile is charming and calming, and it makes Seamus hate himself for the way he hates her sometimes. Dean and Ginny catch up to Seamus, all three making their way toward the staircase.

“You two have essays due today, right? Dean told me yours turned out really well, Seamus,” Ginny beamed first at Dean, and then at the Irishman on Dean’s right. Yeah, Seamus’ essay was pretty good, considering it was his first one in a long, long time that he had written without Dean’s assistance. But he knows it’s nothing in comparison to Ginny’s writing. Dean only “helps” her with her essays so they can bump noses and giggle to each other.

“Thanks,” Seamus mutters, looking up at Dean, but Dean’s attention is already fixed on the smiling Ginny.

And I cannot compete with you, Jolene

Seamus wonders if Dean has noticed his change in mood. Even Ron has, and that boy can be thicker than a pile of bricks at time. He wonders if Dean knows he’s jealous. Wonders if Dean even knows he’s gay.

Why would he, though? Dean has much more important things to focus on. Ginny is one of the best Quidditch players at Hogwarts. She’s actually made an effort to learn about Muggle football – much more of an effort than Seamus has, he reluctantly admits to himself. She excels in all her courses, and isn’t known for much of anything besides being the lone Weasley sister, rather than a ticking time bomb like Seamus.

And she’s beautiful. So, so incredibly beautiful, graceful, and warm. Seamus knows he’d be jealous of Dean if he were straight. But he can’t help but be so painfully envious of Ginny Weasley.

He talks about you in his sleep

And there’s nothing I can do to keep

From crying when he calls your name, Jolene

It only happens once, thank the heavens. Seamus never usually hears a peep out of Dean in the night, save for when they’re joking around with each other or throwing things at one another from their respective beds. But nothing like that has happened in a long time. Long to Seamus, at least.

“Ginny,” slips faintly from Dean’s lips, and Seamus just barely hears it from his four-poster. He doesn’t know if Dean is awake or not, or what kind of thoughts prompted the utterance, but Seamus has to bite his lip and turn in the other direction to try to keep his composure and not wake their other roommates. It’s one thing for Dean to be enamored in the daytime, when Ginny’s all around him and in his line of sight. It’s another for Dean to be in so deep that she’s all he can ever think about, awake or asleep.

Seamus doesn’t realize he’s crying until the wet spot on his pillow is as big as his cheek. He mentally curses at himself, then curses at Dean for not having the decency to put a silencing charm on his bed before they settled in for the night. What if Ron had heard? They had gotten into a few mild fights in the past few weeks, and if Ron had heard another man whispering his sister’s name in the middle of the night…

Seamus needs to stop thinking about it. Needs to stop thinking about Ginny. Needs to stop thinking about Dean, especially. He’d never been so obsessed with his friend in all the years they’d known each other. He knows it’s not right to act like this, to react this way, but he can’t censor the part of himself that wishes Dean was uttering ‘Seamus’ instead.

And I can easily understand

How you could easily take my man

But you don’t know what he means to me, Jolene

It’s a bit dumb. Dean has never belonged to Seamus. Not really. But this past summer was quiet. Dean visited the Weasley residence more than he visited Seamus. Mrs. Finnigan had pestered Seamus with questions, to which the Irishman answered irritably each and every time. Seamus had grown to miss Dean quite intensely. He just wasn’t expecting the empty feeling to persist even when he and Dean were reunited at Hogwarts.

The whole thing still confuses Seamus, but he supposes it makes sense. He just hasn’t had a relationship with anyone. Not even a crush. Well - besides the obvious, but does that really count? He knows he’s the pathetic one for not having other friends to fall back on when Dean is out following Ginny around, or vice versa. Dean’s all Seamus has ever had, really. Ever since they shared a car on the Hogwarts Express. Ever since they sat together at the first feast in the Great Hall. Ever since Dean held his hand as Seamus cried, not wanting to leave the school and his friend at the end of their first year.

Seamus’ downfall was thinking he was all Dean ever had and would ever need, too.

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene

Seamus sighs over a plate of bacon that’s gone cold in the Great Hall. He steals glances every so often at the happy couple sitting a substantial distance away from him at breakfast. Seamus isn’t hungry. He doesn’t know why he grabbed a plate of food for himself. He hasn’t eaten breakfast since last school year. Hasn’t had the appetite.

“It’s going to be alright, you know,” a quiet, lilting voice startles him out of his little staring game. He turns to his other side and sees Luna sitting down beside him, a goblet of pumpkin juice in one of her pale hands. Seamus feels the redness creep into his cheeks, but raises his eyebrows at the girl.

“What are you on about now?”

“It’s going to be alright,” Luna then looks pointedly at Dean and Ginny, then back to Seamus. She offers him a reassuring smile despite his look of confusion. “You’re very important to him, you know.” Seamus steals a glance at the couple one last time before giving Luna his full attention. He mentally curses her for being so damn observant and intuitive.

“Doesn’t feel like it sometimes,” Seamus shrugs. He doesn’t know why he’s entertaining her. It’s none of her business. And the last thing he needs is for someone to realize that his moping over Dean is for reasons beyond just the strain on their friendship. Luna places her free hand on Seamus’ forearm and tilts her head, the fond expression never once leaving her face.

“Sometimes people do strange things when they’re in love,” she muses, looking past Seamus once more. Seamus is hit with a pang of jealousy, but it dissolves into confusion as he struggles to understand exactly who she’s talking about. But when he snaps out of thought, she’s gone, seeming to float back to the Ravenclaw table, before Seamus can respond.

I’m begging of you please

Don’t take my man

“So we’re going to Honeydukes first as always, right?” Seamus asks eagerly the morning of the Hogsmeade outing. He’s pulling on his favorite gray jumper and practically vibrating with excitement as he watches Dean tie up the laces on his boots. Dean makes quick work of the shoestrings, but is slow to look up at his friend.

“Oh, Shay, I’m –” Dean starts, but cuts himself off. He doesn’t speak for a few more seconds, and it’s long enough for Seamus’ face to fall completely. “I’m so sorry. Ginny promised her friends I’d meet up with all of them at the Hog’s Head today.” Seamus looks down at his feet, blushing furiously with embarrassment. Embarrassed for thinking Dean would actually follow through on his promise.

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene

Please don’t take him

Just because you can

“Seamus, I –”

“It’s fine,” Seamus responds flatly, coldly. He grabs his trainers and heads for the common room. Everything has to be fine. Because if it’s not fine, it’s his fault for being too emotionally invested. It’s his fault.

You could have your choice of men

But I could never love again

He’s the only one for me, Jolene

Seamus has had a few too many Firewhiskies, and instead of taking the edge off, they bring the edge to the forefront. Why can’t Ginny be with someone else? Literally anyone else? He’s seen the way Potter looks at her, all forlorn and wistful. Hell, he’s seen the way she looks at Potter sometimes. He decides not to dwell on that last thought as he throws back another gulp of his poison for tonight.

“Come on, you great lug,” Dean groans fondly when he finds Seamus passed out on the floor of their dormitory a few hours later. Warm hands are shaking his shoulders, and when Seamus opens his eyes, all he sees is Dean. It’s all he ever wants to see. Just Dean. “Had all your fun without me, did you?”

Seamus clings to Dean’s muscular forearms as the taller boy helps him up off the ground. Seamus can feel the pink in his cheeks from both the alcohol and the contact. He hates it. He hates that Dean can have this effect on him just by fucking looking at him, only him, for more than a few seconds. Dean’s still in his Quidditch gear, a light mixture of musk and sweat radiating off of him. It’s intoxicating. More intoxicating than the liquor Seamus had binged for an hour before passing out for three. There’s another smell – something floral – that Seamus pointedly ignores in favor of beaming up at his best friend once his two feet are steady on the ground.

“Thanks, mate. Love you,” Seamus murmurs, but it comes out louder than intended. He tends to lose volume control after two drinks. Dean chuckles heartily, and Seamus’ smile fades, gaze too intent on the dimples showing on the pretty face before him.

“Love you too, you drunk bastard. Let’s get you to bed before you get any more wise ideas, yeah?” Dean proposes, and Seamus swears he’s never been happier to go to sleep. Sleep, which has been his worst enemy for the past several months. Sleep, which now lures him in with ease as Dean helps him into bed – Seamus choosing to flop onto his stomach – and rubs Seamus’ back until he’s snoring in his slumber.

He’s the only one for me, Jolene

He’s not awake to feel the light press of a pair of lips on the back of his head, connecting with his skull through thick strands of sandy blond hair.

I had to have this talk with you

My happiness depends on you

And whatever you decide to do, Jolene

Harry’s got a mad look of determination on his face as he works on the first essay that Seamus has ever, ever seen him write with his own two eyes. It’s not that Harry’s never done work in the past, it’s just that…well, Seamus isn’t exactly sure how the boy ever got anything done. He’s just about to make a silly remark in the other boy’s direction when the portrait swings open and a pair of students walk through.

Of course it’s Ginny and Dean. Though they’re not connected at the hip as usual. Dean’s trailing just a step or two behind, but it’s different. Seamus is used to intertwined hands and not knowing where one set of robes begins and the other ends. Ginny pauses upon entering the common room and looks first at Seamus, then at Harry, who doesn’t stop worrying his bottom lip between his teeth even as he stares at the redhead.

“I’ve got to write a letter to my mum, but I’ll see you for dinner?” Dean asks politely, ever the gentleman, and comes up behind Ginny to place his hands on her hips and smile into her perfect, gorgeous hair. She, however, doesn’t take her eyes off of Potter.

“Erm, I dunno,” Ginny responds, and takes a step forward, trying (but not too hard) to separate herself from the tall Gryffindor. Her eyes finally meet someone other than Harry. Seamus makes eye contact with the girl, but he sees something wild and unfamiliar in her expression. It doesn’t sit well with Seamus. “Haven’t really been hungry lately.”

Then she’s gone. Ginny flies up the stairs to the girls’ dormitory, and all eyes are on her billowing robes before they disappear around the bend of the stairwell. Dean’s brow furrows, and he purses his lips a bit in contemplation. Harry clears his throat before returning to his work, and Dean looks at Seamus, who merely shrugs in return.

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene

It’s not two weeks before Ginny is in sitting thigh-to-thigh with Harry in the common room, nuzzling his neck with her dainty nose, and looking ever-so serene with his arm wrapped around her.

“It’s fine,” Dean tells him. But it's that same tone Seamus had been using with him since Ginny and Dean had first got together. The “it’s fine” when absolutely nothing about the situation is fine. The “it’s fine” when there’s so much pain inside that he couldn’t even put it into words. “It was never really that serious, I suppose.” Dean doesn’t remove his eyes from his own lap.

“It’s not fine, Dean,” Seamus tried to explain, voice angrier than it had the right to be. Hell, Seamus was angry at himself for even being angry that the relationship he had hoped would end for months finally ended. “She had no right to treat ya that way, I tell ye. You know that. She used you.”

I’m begging of you please

Don’t take my man

“We had fun,” Dean shrugs. “I just wasn’t what she was looking for. Not even from the start.” Dean’s gaze still didn’t rise. This wasn’t the Dean he wanted to see. Things were supposed to be okay again once Ginny was out of the picture, but Seamus doesn’t feel any better about anything. Dean looks like he’ll never believe in himself ever again, and Seamus thinks he’d rather see his best friend snogging the life out of the Weasley girl than this display.

Dean finally looks up at him after a minute or two and puts on his best attempt at a smile, eyes glossy and impossibly tired. Dean looks a lot like Seamus – a lack of sleep apparent on his young face. Seamus wants to take it all back. Wants to take back every negative thing he’d ever wished upon his best friend’s relationship. Was this really worth it? Was this version of Dean really the one he wanted to himself?

“I’m sorry, Dean,” is all Seamus has to offer as he moves from his own bed to sit right next to Dean. It’s Seamus’ turn to put an arm around the taller boy. He’s waited long enough. He’s waited months without so much as laying a finger on Dean, terrified that his best friend would think he was coming onto him, even though they’d hugged, cuddled, and shared beds countless times prior to Dean getting his first girlfriend.

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene

“I said it’s fine,” Dean states again, this time with an exasperated chuckle, but there’s no bad intent behind it. He’s just tired. Worn down. “We can’t all be Harry Potter, now can we?” Bitter.

“Listen,” Seamus starts, and he’s got the most energy he’s had in Merlin knows how long. “If she chooses Harry feckin’ Potter over a guy like you, that’s jus’ really telling on her part, innit?” Dean sniffles pitifully and gives his best friend a half smile. Seamus rubs his hand up and down Dean’s arm, bare below the sleeve of the white sleep shirt he has on. “Dunno how someone can act like months of dating you was simply a mistake, y’know? Ah well, if that’s the life she wants, that’s the life she’ll get.” Dean cranes his neck down and leans his head on Seamus’s shoulder, and it’s not very comfortable, but Seamus is in no position to complain.

They sit like that for a fair few minutes, just breathing together, Seamus rubbing mindless circles in Dean’s smooth skin with his pale thumb. It’s the most relaxed Seamus has felt in months, though he knows the contact should be making his heart race. But it’s just Dean. It always has been, and it always will be. He smiles to himself and breathes in time with Dean’s own languid breaths.

“Thank you, Shay,” Dean murmurs so softly that Seamus almost doesn’t hear it. “For everything. Always.” It’s sincere and raw, exhaustion having set in after they both delayed having this conversation for weeks, and it almost brings a tear to Seamus’s eye. But he’s done enough crying. For the both of them, actually. The last thing he wants is for Dean to feel the sting from the break-up in the way that Seamus felt the sting of never being Dean’s in the first place.

“Of course,” Seamus replies easily. “Besides, there’ll be other girls.” Whatever will make Dean happy, Seamus thinks to himself. He’ll say anything to keep a smile on his face. Anything to keep Dean from breaking. Anything to keep Dean from harm, even if it means swallowing his own feelings and trudging on by Dean’s side as nothing more than a friend.

Please don’t take him

Just because you can

“Yeah,” Dean agrees lazily. He yawns and draws in another breath. “Or boys.”

Seamus holds his breath for a few moments, then lets it out as slowly and nonchalantly as possible despite the hammering of his eager heart in his chest. He nods subtly, doing his best not to disrupt Dean’s heavy, tired head on his shoulder.

“Or boys.”