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shallow (i’m off the deep end)

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Cyrus plops down at the Ravenclaw table unceremoniously, sighing loudly and reaching over Andi for the apple juice. His eyes are tired- red and bleary, with dark circles already beginning to show, reaffirming the exhaustion he’s experiencing from his long night of essay writing. He pours the apple juice, reaches for a chocolate chocolate chip muffin, and slumps against Amber, who is sitting to his right.

 

“Morning, sunshine,” She teases Cyrus playfully, pinching his side. “Get enough sleep?”

 

Cyrus just groans and face plants into his plate of eggs. He hears Andi sigh from across the table, as she slides the plate out from underneath his cheek, and lets him drop to the table. He does so without fight, closing his eyes once he’s resting against the hard surface. He feels himself beginning to drift off, when-

 

“Hey, Underdog!” T.J.’s cheerful greeting sets his senses alight, his heart thumping a little faster in his chest. He keeps his head on the table, hoping that the sandy-haired Gryffindor won’t notice the flush on his cheeks. T.J. doesn’t say anything as he sits, just grabs a piece of turkey bacon and stuffs it in his mouth. Cyrus can hear him chewing, and feels the weight of his arm nonchalantly swinging around his shoulder. He doesn’t look up from his arms, just revels in the warm feeling of T.J.’s gesture as Buffy and Marty arrive, and the Quidditch conversation begins.

 

“How was late night Quidditch practice?” Amber asks politely, taking a sip of her orange juice. Buffy looks at her skeptically, shuffling closer to Marty, and looking at Walker, who is sitting beside Amber.

 

Amber was a newer addition to Cyrus’ friendship circle, due mostly to the fact that she was a transfer student from Beauxbatons. Buffy has something against French people and white girls, so it’s taken a lot to build her relationship with Amber. Amber tries really hard- she loves Hogwarts, she’s probably the most genuine person Cyrus has ever met, and she’d do anything for a friend- but Buffy was still wary around her, even three years after her transfer.

 

“Wouldn’t know,” T.J. shrugs. “We only got a couple minutes on the field before the Slytherin captain came and chased us away. Something about calling dibs on the field, and needing all the practice they can get to beat Gryffindor this year.”

 

“Kiss my toned black ass, Kippen,” Buffy sneered and snuggled closer to Marty, trying to keep her temper contained. “We have way more newbies than you, and I’ve got to whip them into shape.”

 

T.J. just laughs, taking a gulp of his orange juice. “Knowing you, you’re using a literal whip.”

 

“Har har,” Buffy mocks, a small smile playing at her lips. “Can it, T.J.”

 

Cyrus groans at their bickering, picking his head up and burying it in T.J.’s shoulder.

 

“Hey, sleepyhead,” T.J. coos, “You ready to wake up and face the day?”

 

“No,” Cyrus pouts. “What class do we have first?”

 

“Double potions block,” Walker answers, his mouth full of Fruit Loops. “Apparently Dullridge has something really big in store for today.”

 

Cyrus lets his head fall to the table again, releasing a short whine when his forehead lands with a thump, and a pain shoots through his head.

 

T.J. tsks, placing an anchoring hand on his lower back. “Don’t do that, doofus, you’ll get a headache.”

 

Cyrus grumbles in response. He was so not a morning person. Curse whoever decided that a double block at nine a.m. on a Tuesday was a good idea.

 

“Chin up, buttercup,” Buffy coos playfully. “You love Potions! Once you get in there it’ll be just fine. What could possibly go wrong?”

 

. . . . .

 

“Welcome to Potions!” Dullridge greets them heartily as they usher in the room and find their seats.“Settle in, settle in! We’ve got a big day ahead of us, and not a moment to waste!”

 

Gryffindor Marty and Slytherin Buffy sit together, two halves making up the whole of the oddest, yet most complementary couple Cyrus has ever known. Hufflepuff Jonah takes the seat to Marty’s right. Ravenclaws Amber and Walker take their usual seats up front, and far left, while Gryffindor T.J. maneuvers to the back to sit beside his Quidditch friends, Slytherins Reed and Lester.

 

Occasionally, Cyrus will sit with T.J., and Andi with Jonah, but today they find their seats in the middle of the room, opposite the rest of their friends. Andi has been having some issues with Jonah lately, and after what happened with Reed last month, Cyrus has been trying to keep his distance. This, of course, had caused some conflict between T.J. and Cyrus, but Cyrus knows that T.J. has no idea what has made Cyrus so wary of his friends. Cyrus plans on it staying that way.

 

While it’s hard to rival Ravenclaws in their academic superiority, Cyrus knows that he’s a pretty smart guy. That is to say, if he didn’t have such a loyal and forgiving nature, as well as the empathy that comes with having four psychologists for parents, he would have been a Ravenclaw. He’s been at the top of his year since he was eleven, shining especially bright in classes like Potions and Charms, and zipping his way to an Outstanding O.W.L. score in Transfiguration and Herbology. This is how he’d ended up in the Advanced Potions class with a jumbled mix of students from all four houses.

 

“Today we’ve got a real doozy,” Professor Dullridge begins her usual spiel about what they’re learning that day, a variation of the same speech Cyrus has heard every day for the last six years. He zones out, hoping Andi is paying enough attention that he can copy her notes later. His gaze circles the room, before landing on T.J., already staring at him. When the blond notices him looking, he crosses his eyes and pulls a face, making Cyrus giggle silently.  He bites his tongue to keep from making a noise, and turns back around and tunes into the lesson right as Professor Dullridge announces their assignment. “In my hand I hold a vial of the very stuff we will be studying- Amortentia.”

 

Cyrus swallows dryly as Professor Dullridge holds up the vial in her hand. The potion was a white-ish, almost purple color, that resembled his mother’s favorite earrings.

 

“It is very important that you do not ingest or come into contact with the actual contents of the vial,” She says firmly. “Now, seeing as Amortentia smells of what attracts you, it has a different scent for everyone. I will be passing the vial around, and you will all be able to smell for yourself exactly what your true love smells like. I encourage you all to share what you smell, but by law cannot force you. Do with that information what you will.”

 

Andi looks longingly at Jonah, and Cyrus elbows her gently. “What do you think you’ll smell?”

 

“I don’t know,” Andi looks back at Cyrus, giving him a worried glance. “Do you think you’ll smell-?”

 

“Merlin,” Cyrus cuts her off. “I hope not.”

 

Professor Dullridge hands the vial to Amber, and gives her an encouraging nod.

 

“Um,” Amber sniffed cautiously, then smiled dreamily. “Coconut macaroons, and vanilla,” She looks to Professor Dullridge hesitantly, and upon receiving a look that tells her to continue, if possible, sniffs the potion again. “And…uh…”

 

“Wonderful, thank you, Miss Kippen.” Amber passes the vial of potion to Walker, and Dullridge quirks her eyebrow at him.

 

“Freshly cut grass…cinnamon chewing gum, and…” Walker flushed deeply. “Um, that’s it.”

 

“Thank you, Mr. Brodsky!”

 

Walker throws an arm around Amber’s chair absently, as he passes the vial to the Ravenclaw beside him, a sweet girl named Iris, who Cyrus knows casually.

 

“Smells good,” She announces. “Like…the Astronomy tower? And my favorite kind of candle.” Professor Dullridge smiles and nods, the potion passed on, student after student sharing what they smelled in the potion. Cyrus shifts awkwardly, and Andi grabs hold of his arm, reaching out to offer him some comfort, and maybe get some herself. He accepts her touch with no argument, and reaches his other hand over to pat hers, as they watch the vial circle the room in suspended dread.

 

When it comes to him, Jonah inhales and coughs awkwardly. “Uh, charcoal- like the kind you draw with? And, um, tea leaves like the kind they use in Divination. And peppermint chewing gum.”

 

Walker lets out a squeak at this, as Jonah flushes a deep red, and hands the potion off to Marty. Marty, ever the pinnacle of grace, nearly drops the damn thing, but Cyrus is too invested in the way Jonah slumps down in his chair, and buries his head in his arms.

 

“Excellent, Mr. Beck! Mister Cunningham!”

 

Marty inhales and grins widely. “Smells like broom polish and Buffy’s shampoo.” He winks at Buffy, and passes the vial to her.

 

She takes it, smells it, and passes it on to the next student as she leans up to give Marty a peck on the lips. “Smells like springtime and Marty.”

 

“Wonderful. Let’s keep the PDA to a minimum, perhaps? Mister Guster!”

 

The vial continues its’ travels, all eyes glued to its mother of pearl sheen, as students announce the scent of their true love. They watch as the potion reaches T.J.’s corner, and Cyrus finds himself glued to the events unfolding. Lester is first to get the potion, and he mumbles something about his common room and a muggle swimming pool. Then, it’s Reed’s turn. He inhales loudly, earning small giggles from some of the Slytherins, and a stern glance from Professor Dullridge.

 

“I smell…ooh, Cyrus, did you dump a bottle of your cologne in here?” T.J. immediately reaches out to smack him upside the head, snatching the potion from him, and giving him a sharp glare.

 

“He doesn’t even wear cologne, asshole.” He sneers, and Cyrus is sure his face is bright red. Dullridge clears her throat.

 

“Watch your language, Mister Kippen,” She warns him, tone unbothered. “Not funny, Mister Edmonson.”

 

T.J. takes a whiff of the potion next, and Cyrus has his eyes trained on him, a slight prayer running through the back of his mind. He watches as T.J.’s face pinches up, just a little, and his eyebrows furrow. He smells the potion again. Then, he passes it on dutifully, banging his head against the table as he drops it into his arms.

 

“Mister Kippen?” Dullridge asks. “Care to share?”

 

He raises his head obediently, and looks Professor Dullridge in the eye. “Home. It smelt like home.”

 

Cyrus tries to meet T.J.’s eye, but he’s actively avoiding eye contact with him, which makes Cyrus kind of worried. He looks instead to Buffy, who gives him a careful glance.

 

“You okay?” She mouths, and Cyrus nods dismissively. What does he have to be upset about, anyway?

 

He watches the potion come closer and closer to him, until it finally reaches Andi. She takes it with a shaking hand, and holds it up to her nose. Cyrus places his hand under hers, ready to take it from her in case she drops it. She doesn’t, but she’s unsettled all the same. She swallows, and looks up to Professor Dullridge.

 

“I-I-“ Andi rubs her temple. “I don’t know.”

 

“Thank you, Miss Mack,” Dullridge smiles thinly. “Mister Goodman?”

 

Cyrus stares at the potion for a moment, his face, he’s sure, showing his hesitancy. He looks up to Professor Dullridge, who nods, urging him along. He sighs, then leans in and inhales deeply. Immediately, he recognizes T.J. in the smell. It smells like the body spray he uses before all of his Quidditch games, like victory bear hugs, and walks on the grounds as their hands brush, but never connect. Like his favorite muffins- blueberry macadamia nut- and the time that Cyrus spent an afternoon in the kitchens with him and the house elves, perfecting his execution of T.J.’s recipe. Like T.J.’s old Quidditch sweater from third year that Cyrus has stored away at the bottom of his trunk- the one he still curls up in on late nights. And the warm popcorn they share on their movie nights at Cyrus’ house over summer break. Like sandalwood and leather. It smells like coming home.

 

It makes him want to barf.

 

He reaches blindly for Andi’s hand, and feels her fingers wrap around his, as he passes the vial on to the person beside him. Her hand is steady, grounding him as he tries to make sense of the last few moments. This stupid crush he’s harbored for years- it isn’t just a stupid crush. It hasn’t ever been. He blinks away the tears that come to his eyes and stares at the floor, as he tries to ignore the sinking feeling in his stomach. He is so fucked.

 

He looks up to Professor Dullridge.

 

“Smells like lemons.”

 

. . . . .

 

He practically bolts out of class when it’s over, not wasting any time to congratulate Buffy and Marty, or stop and chat with Iris. He’s dragging Andi by the hand to the Hufflepuff dormitory, every instinct in his body telling him to get the hell out of Kuwait.

 

“You can’t avoid him forever,” Andi tells him as he’s knocking out the rhythmic password.

 

“Oh, yes, I absolutely can.”

 

Andi just sighs at him, allowing herself to be dragged to Cyrus’ dorm room. They flop on the bed, head to toe, and Cyrus begins to cry.

 

“Fuck,” Is all he says, before Andi is clamoring up to wrap an arm around him, and pull him into her side.

 

“Are you sure it was him?” She asks, and isn’t that just like her, always trying to find solve his problems. “Maybe it was like a…”

 

“Andi,” He says tearfully.

 

“I know.” She lets him cry into her shoulder for a few minutes, before speaking again. “If it makes you feel better, I’m in the same boat as you.”

 

“You are?” Cyrus wipes at his eyes. “How? What does that mean?”

 

“If I tell you what I smelled, do you promise not to tell another soul?”

 

“Not even Buffy?”

 

“Not even Buffy.”

 

Cyrus nods.

 

“I thought I was gonna smell Jonah,” Andi says meekly. “We’ve had this weird thing going since third year, you know. But when he smelled the potion, he was talking about peppermint chewing gum and tea, and I-“

 

“You knew it wasn’t going to be him that you smelled.”

 

“I smelled Amber,”

 

“What?” Cyrus’ jaw drops. “Are you sure?”

 

“Pretty sure!” Andi crosses her arms against her chest awkwardly as she talks. “It was fresh parchment and ink, but also those weird French coconut cookies she got the kitchen elves to make that one time, and she and I each had like six cookies, remember? And I smelled her hand lotion, the vanilla brown sugar kind from that muggle shop she loves so much, because it’s the only kind of lotion she’ll use since it reminds her of Christmas and baking with her mom when she was little. And her shampoo, the grapefruit stuff that she says is all she can use if she wants her hair to be manageable, since it’s so thick and long. And-“

 

“Andi,” Cyrus cuts her off, eyebrows high. “You seem to know a lot about Amber.”

 

“Well, sure, yeah,” Andi nods dismissively. “We’re roommates, we spend like all of our time together.”

 

“But… what’s Jonah’s signature scent?”

 

“Why would I know that?” Cyrus looks at her disbelievingly. “Oh.”

 

“Andi,” Cyrus asks after anbeat of silence. “Did you know you were…”

 

“No,” Andi shakes her head, and tries to blink away the tears pooling at the corners of her eyes.  “No, I didn’t.”

 

“Are you?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“You don’t have to know,” Cyrus tells her seriously, placing a hand on her shoulder. “This is new and scary, and you can have time.”

 

“Thanks, Cyrus,” Andi whispers. “Promise you won’t tell anyone?”

 

“Promise.”

 

. . . . .

 

“Good-in-the-Hoodman!”

 

Cyrus is in the library almost three hours later, studying for Herbology, when Reed’s voice pulls him away from his reading, his approaching figure pulling out a seat at his table.

 

“Reed,” Cyrus nods curtly, shifting as discreetly as he can, ready to fight away Reed’s hands should it come to that. “Can I help you?”

 

“I’m just wondering when we’re going to continue our little rendezvous,” Reed winks, and Cyrus shudders. “If you know what I mean.”

 

“I absolutely know what you mean,” Cyrus runs his tongue over his teeth and glares. “And like I said the first eighty-four times, I’m not interested.”

 

“Cyrus, come on-“ Reed starts to protest his rejection, but is stopped when T.J. takes a seat at the table beside Cyrus, and throws an arm around his shoulder.

 

“Hi, Cy,” T.J. says, sickeningly sweet. “Hi, Reed. What’s up?”

 

“Kippen,” Reed gives him an irritated smile. “Don’t you have literally anywhere else to be right now?”

 

T.J. pretends to think. “Mm, nope! Just hanging out with my good friend, Cyrus, and my pal, Reed. Where else could I want to be?”

 

Reed gives him a menacing smile and a fake laugh, then pushes in his chair and stalks away from the table. Once he’s out of their line of sight, T.J. unwraps his arm from Cyrus’ shoulder, and immediately walks away.

 

Cyrus watches him leave longingly, and slams his head against the table when he’s out the library doors.

 

. . . . .

 

The Amortentia is already working its’ magic, if the newfound relationship between Jonah and Walker is any indication. The two are so wrapped up in each other during dinner, that Cyrus thinks he might literally barf if T.J. weren’t sitting next to him. Not that that is making him any less nauseous, to T.J.’s credit, however.

 

Andi watches them forlornly, taking occasional tiny bites of her stew, but mostly moving it around with her spoon. Amber is just as moodily silent, though her appetite has increased tenfold, as she makes her way through bread roll after bread roll. Buffy and Marty are watching them all in confusion- two depressed, two enamored, and what he’s sure is two visibly uncomfortable friends, all circled around what is probably the most normal, compatible, non-dramatic couple at Hogwarts. It’s probably ruining their whole table’s vibe.

 

“Hey, Andi,” T.J. swallows a bite of chicken, and smiles innocently at the girl in front of him. Cyrus braces himself for whatever horrendously offensive thing T.J. is about to say, and Amber buries her head in her arms. “I really like that skirt! It looks great on you.”

 

“Thanks?”

 

“But, it’d look even better on Amber’s floor.”

 

Buffy lets out a groan, shaking her head and looking up to the sky pleadingly. Amber has turned beet red, Cyrus is biting his tongue to keep himself from laughing, and Andi’s eyes are narrowing.

 

“You told T.J.?” Andi asks fiercely, turning to glare at Cyrus. “Jesus Christ, Cyrus, of course you told T.J.!”

 

“Wh- I didn’t tell T.J. anything!”

 

“Then how does he know?” She asks accusingly.

 

“You absolute meathead,” Amber says finally, her words frothing with anger. “I’m going to kill you!”

 

“I’m going to guess Amber told him.”

 

“But that means-“

 

“Yeah, that’s how Amortentia works, Andi,” Buffy interjects, having caught on to what she was hinting at. “Two way street. Now, can we stop yelling at Cyrus?”

 

Andi and Amber stare at each other in silence, eyes bright and smiles wide, but nothing more being said or done. Everyone is looking to them, hoping for some action, but after a minute or two, upon realizing the scene is over, and the girls won’t be providing anymore dramatics, they all turn back to their dinners.

 

“Well, I’m feeling incredibly out of place here now, so I’m leaving,” T.J. stands abruptly, and Cyrus’ gaze follows him, watching the smile on his face falter, and the light in his eyes dim. “Glad that the Amortentia has brought everyone here so much fucking joy. To the brides, to the grooms; I’m going to go pretend like I’m not crying myself to sleep. Later, skaters.”

 

He stalks away, fists clenched, leaving only a clatter in the next hallway over in his wake, probably him pushing or kicking something in his frustration. His friends’ reactions are minimal, Amber gazing concernedly for a moment after him, before turning back to Andi, Jonah and Walker still entangled, and Buffy and Marty now whispering in hushed tones. Cyrus is the only one who seems to miss his presence. He suddenly feels incredibly alone.

 

. . . . .

 

The thing about having a crush on T.J. is that Cyrus knows it is absolutely hopeless. He’s not stupid. T.J. was the perfect guy- tall, muscular, ridiculously hot, effortlessly funny, brave, and loyal, and sweet. He's the best person Cyrus knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt. He’s the kind of guy you couldn’t help but fall in love with, at least a little bit.

 

And that’s the thing. Everyone is in love with T.J. He has his pick of practically anyone in the school. And Cyrus knows he’s nowhere near a first choice, in any regard. He never stood a chance.

 

So, when T.J. is in a terrible mood at breakfast the next morning (already seated and grumbling into his oatmeal by the time Cyrus is even up, according to Buffy), refusing to throw an arm around Cyrus like he usually does, or really, even look in his direction, Cyrus can’t say it’s surprising. Heartbreaking, earth-shattering, and absolutely devastating, maybe, but not surprising.

 

“T.J.,” Cyrus asks towards the end of breakfast, before he leaves for his Herbology class. “Is everything okay?”

 

“‘M fine.” He shrugs noncommittally, and looks to Cyrus for the first time all day. His eyes are red and puffy, and he looks absolutely exhausted. He’s also sporting a nasty shiner on his left side, that wasn’t there last night.

 

“T.J.,” Cyrus breathes, extending his hand unconsciously. He places gentle fingers just underneath the bruise, and T.J. flinches away, bringing Cyrus back to reality. He pulls his arm away, and takes a light hold on T.J.’s wrist instead. “What happened to your eye?”

 

“What are you, my babysitter?” T.J. jerks away from him, and stands up to leave. “Just butt out, Cyrus.”

 

Cyrus watches him walk away, a horrible cold settling in his chest. He feels like he’s been stabbed, and he’s left hiccuping in the Great Hall, absolutely dumbstruck. Silent tears start to fall, but he wipes them away, grabbing his bag, and heading to the greenhouse for class, Buffy trailing just behind him.

 

. . . . .

 

“I just don’t understand why he’s being a dick!” Buffy exclaims, her arm linked with Cyrus’ as they make their way towards the castle for their Charms class.

 

“Who?” Amber asks, sidling up to Cyrus. “Is this about my brother this morning?”

 

“Yes!” Buffy is madder than Cyrus has seen her in a long time, and he feels bad that his stupid crush is what’s causing her practical mental break. “Why is he being a douche to Cyrus?” Amber bites her lip, and adjusts her books. Buffy freezes. “Oh, sweet Salazar Slytherin, you know, don’t you?”

 

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

 

“Yes, you do!” Buffy crosses her arms accusatorially. “You're his sister, if he hasn’t told Cyrus, he’s told you, and it’s about Cyrus!”

 

“Buffy-“

 

“He was fine last night,” Cyrus interjects, giving Amber a pleading look. “But now he’s icing me out and I don’t know why.”

 

Amber sighs. “It’s nothing personal, it’s just…”

 

“Amber,” Cyrus says meekly, extremely hesitant to even ask. This was going to blow his whole cover. But he had to know. “Did Andi say something to him?”

 

“Say something to him?” Amber gives him a confused look. “About what?”

 

“Nothing,” Cyrus says quickly, as Buffy’s eyes widen. She looks at Cyrus with alarm, as he flushes. Amber looks between them, trying to figure out what was going on. “Forget I said anything.”

 

And then it hits her.

 

“Oh my god!” She shrieks. “Oh my god! You smelled him in the Amortentia, didn’t you?”

 

“Amber!” Buffy stage whispers fiercely. “You wanna say that a little louder, I don’t think the people in the Astronomy Tower heard you!”

 

“Cyrus,” Amber ignores Buffy’s snark, and looks at Cyrus seriously. She puts her hands on his shoulders, and looks him in the eye, enunciating her next words firmly. “You need to go talk to him.”

 

“Yeah,” Buffy shakes her head, wrapping an arm around him. “He can’t do that.”

 

“Don’t tell him what he can’t do,” Amber glares at Buffy, her voice just as authoritative now. “Cyrus, you need to talk to him.”

 

“Why?” Cyrus asks, almost whining. He really didn't want to do the whole unrequited-love-that-leads-to-heartbreak thing with T.J. He was perfectly content to just live forever with a fantasy.

 

Except, he wasn’t.

 

“That’s all I can say,” Amber presses her lips into a thin line, and shakes her head. Then, she turns to walk away, and Buffy shoots him an apologetic glance before following her. “But just trust me on this.”

 

. . . . .

 

Cyrus drops unceremoniously into his seat, pulling a piece of parchment and a quill from his bag for the notes he’ll be required to take during this lecture. Herbology was a lecture-heavy class, and Cyrus has it with the Gryffindors, which means it’s one of Cyrus’ favorites.

 

He watches wistfully as the other students begin to file in and find their seats. He’s still alone at his table, as he usually sits beside T.J. in this class, and everyone knows not to separate them. Today, however, when T.J. walks in, he makes his way to the other side of the room, without so much as a glance in his direction.

 

Cyrus is certain he can hear his heart shatter, and whispers immediately break out when T.J. sits down next to a petite Gryffindor girl instead of Cyrus. Jonah and Marty, who entered just behind him, give him worried looks, but Cyrus can’t meet their eyes. They pull a stool from another table and join Cyrus at the back, Jonah wrapping an arm around his waist, and Marty placing a comforting hand on his shoulder.

 

. . . . .

 

“Cyrus!” T.J. is calling his name, but Cyrus doesn’t want to stop. He wants to run, far away from this stupid school, and the stupid love potion that caused this whole thing, and far, far, far away from T.J. “Cyrus!”

 

“What do you want?” Cyrus whips around, fire in his eyes, and T.J. freezes in his tracks.

 

“Cyrus…”

 

“What did I even do?” Cyrus takes a step forward, his voice trembling. The last thing he’d wanted to do was cry, but now that he’s here, in the moment, he knows there’s nothing he can do to stop it. “You’ve been mad at me all day, and I don’t even know why!”

 

“Cyrus, I’m not-“

 

“You are!” Jonah pauses behind them when he hears Cyrus shout, standing with his arms crossed, and eyes narrowed, taking a protective stance. Marty tries to pull him away, but he won’t budge. “Because you stormed out on me last night at dinner, and you were snapping at me this morning, and I just spent the last hour being glared at by you, and this is the first time we’ve talked all day! And you’re not even talking!”

 

“I just don’t know what to say.” T.J. looks behind him, giving Jonah and Marty a wary glance. “Can you guys give us a minute, please?”

 

Buffy would be expecting Marty soon, and if he’s late for lunch, she’ll come looking for him. Cyrus does not want her involved in this. So, when Jonah looks to him with a question in his eyes, Cyrus nods. Jonah gives a final glare to T.J., and walks away with Marty, albeit reluctantly.

 

“Start with why,” Cyrus says after they’re gone. His voice is strained and squeaky from the tears he’s trying to hold back. It’s starting to get a little harder to breathe, and T.J. seems really worried. “Why do you hate me all of the sudden? What did I do to make you mad? Because I can fix it! I can- I can change, I can stop doing whatever it is that’s annoying you, I swear I can.”

 

“Cyrus,” T.J. practically tackles him in a hug, and Cyrus cries into his coat. “I’m not mad at you. I was never mad at you.” Pulling away, T.J. reaches up to tuck a piece of hair behind Cyrus’ ear. He smiles fondly. “And I don’t need you to change. I don’t want you to change. You are exactly the Cyrus we all need.”

 

“T.J.,” Cyrus says hesitantly. “You know you can talk to me about anything, right? Even if you think it’ll hurt my feelings.”

 

“I know,” T.J. looks down at the ground, and bites his lip. “Maybe that’s why I’m scared.”

 

“Scared?” Cyrus asks teasingly. “T.J. Kippen, big bad Quidditch captain of Gryffindor is scared? Of what?”

 

“You.” T.J. shrugs, and moves to lean against the side of the castle they’ve ended up beside. Cyrus follows suit, taken aback.

 

“Me?”

 

“Cyrus, you’re the best person I know. Way better than anyone deserves. Especially me.”

 

“T.J.,” Cyrus says sadly, turning to face him. “That’s not true.”

 

“It is.” T.J answers matter of factly, looking him in the eyes for the first time in two days. “You're the most important person in my life, Cyrus. My extraordinary relationship.”

 

“T.J…” Cyrus says softly, practically melting at T.J.’s words. “You, too.”

 

T.J. reaches for his hand, and Cyrus gives it willingly, allowing T.J. to lock their fingers together. It’s then that Cyrus sees his bruised knuckles, and something clicks into place.

 

“What happened to your eye? Really.” Cyrus asks quietly, looking up from their joined hands to meet T.J.’s gaze.

 

“Reed and I… we got into a fight.”

 

“Why?”

 

“He told me about what happened on the last Hogsmeade trip.” T.J. sighs. “Why didn’t you?”

 

Cyrus flushes, ducking his head. “Because he’s your friend. I didn’t want to cause a fight. That didn’t work out very well, apparently.”

 

“Cyrus, he threatened you with an Unforgivable Curse!”

 

“Yeah, but I-“

 

“There’s no excuse for something like that.” T.J. says fiercely. “I told him to eat a dick, and then he swung at me. He’s in the hospital wing.”

 

“You didn’t need to do that.”

 

“Yeah,” T.J. scoffs. “I did. He’s not gonna get away with treating you like that.”

 

“Why?”

 

“It was you,” T.J. blurts. He looks relieved when he says it, as if the weight of the world had just been taken from his hands. But, he also looks reserved in a way that Cyrus has never seen him, almost as if he wanted to reach out and stuff his words back down. “In the Amortentia. It was you. Your stupid chocolate chocolate chip muffins, and your dumb cucumber melon lotion, and the baby taters you’re always asking the house elves to make you, and-“

 

Cyrus couldn’t wait any longer. He grabbed T.J.’s face and pressed their lips together, reveling in the firmness and warmth the kiss provided. T.J. hesitated, but responded eagerly after a moment, bringing his hands to Cyrus’ back, and pulling him closer.

 

“Ask me what I smelled.” Cyrus breathes, pulling back and grinning at T.J., who still seems to be in a state of shock.

 

“Cyrus…”

 

“Ask me what I smelled in the Amortentia.” T.J. rests his forehead on Cyrus’, a silent request that he can read perfectly. “It smelled like the Quidditch pitch. And blueberries, and laundry detergent, and you, you absolute dweeb, I smelled you!”

 

T.J. grinned, picking Cyrus up and spinning him around. Cyrus giggled, his arms around T.J.’s neck, and his fingers brushing the hair at the nape of his neck.

 

T.J. put him down, still smiling. “You really smelled me?”

 

Cyrus bites his lip and nods, which sends T.J.’s heart soaring. “You smelled me in a love potion! You love me!” He whispers excitedly, only barely resisting the urge to pump his fist.

 

“T.J.,” Cyrus giggles, pulling him back in by his robe. “Just shut up and kiss me again.”