Shouta warily eyes the approaching gaggle of green and silver ties, the small herd of Slytherins coming across the grounds. His own red and gold tie is tied, for once, if loosely, the only concession he made to the prefect snapping at him to fix it, telling him they needed to make a good impression on their rival house. He can see the purpose of intimidation in this situation. It’s the first class the Gryffindors and Slytherins have had together this year, and since they’re teenagers now, freshly thirteen in their third year, the rivalry is only ramping up as their hormones do.
Slytherins aside, it’s a nice day for the first Care of Magical Creatures lesson. The early September sunlight isn’t as strong and hot as it was in August, but it’s also not yet starting to get cold. The lesson today is bound to be at least a little interesting, even if it’s not going to be as interesting as the ones to come. The professor is known for never having a theory-only lesson, not even on the first day.
The Slytherins stop a good twenty feet away from where Shouta’s class stands, and the professor strides out of the forest carrying a double armful of terrariums, and then the class has begun.
“Bowtruckles!” the professor announces, putting the terrariums down to gesture with a hand that’s missing an alarming number of fingers. “Get in pairs.” She pauses for a moment to count them, adding up the Gryffindors and then startling when she realizes just how far away the two classes are from each other. “Come on, move in close,” she says, exasperated. “You’re not allowed to bite each other. Or the creatures.”
“No word on if they’re allowed to bite us,” one of the students mutters, met with snickers.
If the professor hears, she doesn’t comment, and just finishes counting as the students unwillingly shuffle closer to each other. “There’s an even number, so no groups of three,” she decrees, and the mad scramble to claim the best partners begins.
Shouta just stands aside. Even in two years, he hasn’t made any close friends, preferring to keep to himself. He’s not lonely; he has his cat. He’ll take whoever is left over.
Not everyone is quite paired up yet before he’s being approached, though, and Shouta looks up in surprise. His eyes narrow when he sees who it is—or rather, what house they’re in. There’s a Slytherin boy standing in front of him, hand held out like he wants a handshake, smiling in a way that looks just friendly on the surface, but the green on his tie lets Shouta know he’s really a snake.
“Hey!” the boy says, smiling even brighter. “I’m Hizashi Yamada!”
“Uh, Shouta Aizawa,” he returns, guarded. He doesn’t take the offered hand, and the boy eventually drops it. He doesn’t leave, though.
“So...bowtruckles, huh,” he says, bouncing on the balls of his feet and making a face. “Have you ever seen one?”
“No,” Shouta says, wondering what he wants.
“I’ve seen pictures,” the kid says, tapping his hands against his thighs. “They look a lot like those Muggle stick bugs, if you’ve ever seen one of those.”
“Okay,” Shouta says, too flat to be a question but still drawn out. Is the Slytherin here to make fun of him for being Muggleborn? If he was why would he have brought up that he apparently knows about some Muggle things too?
“Alright!” the professor calls, clapping her mangled hands. “Good work pairing up. Looks like we’ve even got one inter-house pair. Ten points each!” She looks over at Shouta and the Slytherin, and he blinks in surprise.
“We’re not partners,” he says, but it gets lost in the sudden burst of chatter as the teacher turns her back. Shouta glares at the other boy.
“Yeah we are!” the kid says, unpaling beneath Shouta’s dirty look.
“You never asked me to work with you.” He just kept trying to make small talk, despite Shouta’s efforts to the contrary.
“Work with me!” When Shouta doesn’t reply, just continuing to give him the same flat, unimpressed look, he tilts his head to the side and widens his eyes pleadingly. “Please?”
“No,” Shouta says, despite knowing it’s pointless. Everyone else is already paired up, and the teacher is starting to bring each group a terrarium, and she already thinks they’re working together.
“I’ll be your friend if you do!” the kid says, like that’s a reward.
“You’re friendly for a Slytherin,” Shouta says with a scoff, emphasis on the name of his house to maybe snap him out of his insanity.
“Hey! Friendliness is totally a Slytherin trait! Making friends is like the best way to get ahead!”
“Is that all friends are to you?” Shouta bristles. He may not have many friends of his own, but any Gryffindor knows that the bonds of friendship are practically sacred.
The kid is still completely unbothered by Shouta’s whole...everything. He should have realized by now that if social standing is what he wants—and it’s all any Slytherin wants—then talking to friendless, weird, Muggleborn Shouta isn’t the way to get it. “Nah! It’s just a nice perk! And see, you’re totally considering it!”
“No, I’m not.” Shouta does realize he has to work with this kid—the teacher is almost to their nonconsensually-formed group—but does not have to be his friend. “We can’t be friends. We’re in different houses,” he says slowly. Maybe this Slytherin is particularly stupid and needs it spelled out.
“Lots of people have friends in other houses! My sister was a Ravenclaw and her best friend was in Hufflepuff!”
“That’s different. Our houses are enemies.”
“So? I don’t care! Do you?”
“...Not really.” It’s not on the top of his list for reasons he doesn’t want to be friends with this kid, anyway. It’s just the one he thinks the other boy will understand.
The Slytherin perks up—and he was perky before. “So you’ll be my friend?”
“Aw, c’mon, why?”
“I just met you. I don’t even know your name.” If he’s not friends with the kids he’s known for two years, he’s definitely not going to be friends with this Slytherin.
“I just told you my name!” the kid protests.
“I forgot it.”
The kids sets his jaw. “Well, it’s Yamada, Aizawa!” He draws out Shouta’s name, as it showing off that he remembered. So impressive.
“Okay,” he says evenly.
Shouta stares at him in exasperation. “If I say yes will you shut up?”
Yamada—yeah, okay, he might as well remember his name— smiles winningly. “Yes!”
“I don’t believe you. No.”
Yamada’s whine is cut off by the professor finally reaching them to plunk a terrarium in front of them. When she does, he leans back, face somewhere between disgust and alarm.
“I don’t like bugs,” Yamada admits. From the way he’s acting, it’s a little more than mild dislike.
“You don’t like bugs.”
“That’s what I just said, yeah! I don’t like them. They’re creepy.” He wraps his arms around his chest, getting them further away from the terrarium, shuddering. He turns the pleading look on Shouta again. “You won’t make me touch them, right?”
“Why would you think that?” The thought of grabbing Yamada’s hand and shoving it into the terrarium does occur to him, because this kid is obnoxious, but that would be cruel, and that wouldn’t be nice to the poor bowtruckle either.
“Aren’t Gryffindors supposed to be nice?” The puppy-dog eyes are still on in full force.
Shouta snorts. “No. They’re not.” He doesn’t elaborate on how he knows.
“But you’re nice,” Yamada says, and Shouta narrows his eyes. It’s a shockingly confident statement.
“You don’t even know me.”
“I’m good at reading people!”
Shouta can’t help but laugh, a short bitter chuckle, because Yamada couldn’t be more wrong. “I’m not nice. Ask anyone.”
“I’m not asking anyone! I’m asking you!”
Shouta just stares. The kid is either a complete idiot or a master manipulator and it’s freaking him out that he can’t figure out which. He’s saved from having to reply when the professor claps her hands and starts her lecture. They’ll be feeding the bowtruckles other, smaller bugs, a statement which makes Yamada blanch. Shouta has no particular feelings about bugs, but he took this class because he likes animals, so interacting with them a little more is no hardship.
Yamada leans back even further when Shouta opens the terrarium, and despite his promise, he doesn’t stop talking throughout the entire class. It’s annoying, and something about the cadence of his voice—it’s got a weird variance in pitch, going too high and then too low in the same sentence—makes him impossible to tune out. The class isn’t going how he expected—he expected to have to be vaguely polite to another Gryffindor for an hour, but instead he’s stuck with this weird Slytherin who won’t stop talking or acting like they’re friends. It’s annoying, and he can’t wait for it to be over.
But he doesn’t make Yamada touch the bugs.