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Hogwarts Mystery: The Cursed Vault of x Reader One-offs

Chapter Text

Ben had been avoiding you ever since the incident in the courtyard before you had to go and deal with the Cursed Vault.  And it hurt.  Unlike Rowan, you believed in the Gryffindor boy and had always done your best to make that clear to him.  You trusted him just as much as all of your other friends, if not more, and you thought it was almost certain that someone had manipulated him in some way, be it through manipulation or magic.  You weren’t certain yet.

But if that was what happened, then it was your fault that Ben had been targeted by ‘R’ to begin with.  If it weren’t for your close friendship, you strongly doubted that he would’ve had to go through something so terrible.

Was he distancing himself from you out of a sense of guilt or because he wanted to avoid further trouble by being associated with you?

Now with July coming to a close, it marked over a full month that he had been ignoring your letters.  A burden you may be, but you couldn’t leave things like this.  Not after Ben had gone through something so traumatizing because of you.  A proper apology in person was in order, but you needed to get him to respond to you first.

Crumpling up another piece of parchment, you tossed it aside and let out a groan in defeat.  The words just weren’t coming out right, probably because of how pathetic it felt to send another letter that would get no reply.  How many had it even been now?  Five?  Seven?  You couldn’t remember, though you knew you at least had been sending one each week.

This silence was killing you, but you couldn’t force him to hear you out.  You knew that all there really was to do was wait for him to reach out to you, clearly, sending letters wasn’t accomplishing anything.  Shoving your chair away from your desk, you made a direct line to your bed and flopped down.

You lost track of time with your face buried against your pillow, your mind relentlessly running through all of the worst potential scenarios of what would happen when the two of you met again.

A loud tapping on your window broke you free of your spiraling thoughts and you were surprised to see an owl sitting on your windowsill.  Getting up, you opened the window and took the letter from the owl and gave it a treat.

The script was instantly recognizable as Ben’s and your heart stopped, whether from excitement or anxiety, you weren’t sure.

‘First of all, I’m really sorry for ignoring your letters.  I didn’t know how to respond and I’ve been too scared to meet with you in person, so I’ve been hiding.  Like I usually do.  But I don’t want to do that anymore …

Please let me know if you’d still be willing to meet with me.  Again, I’m so so sorry.

- BC

At that, you rushed back to your desk and scrawled out a hasty reply on the back of his letter after you realized you were out of parchment.

‘There’s nothing to apologize for!  I totally understand, I’m just happy to hear from you now.

How about we meet at my favorite tea shop in Diagon Alley at noon this Thursday?  It’s the one not too far away from Gringotts that we passed last year.’

You signed it before taking off to the window, practically stumbling over your own two feet as you did so, and sent the owl back off with your response.

‘I’m so glad.  And that works perfectly for me.

I’ll see you then.

- BC’


A three days passed and you found yourself sitting in a booth at the cheery tea shop you had suggested to Ben.  You had arrived ten minutes early since you knew him well enough to know he’d pretty much show up exactly five minutes early like clockwork.  You had learned early on that he was always anxious about showing up too early or right on time…or, worst of all, late.  It was one of the small aspects about him that you had always appreciated him.

Sure enough, five minutes before your meeting time was supposed to start, you saw him enter the small tea shop.  His warm brown eyes darted around the crowded tea shop until they landed on you and he froze for a brief moment before making a direct beeline over to you.

Looking panic-stricken as he sat down across from you, he quickly stuttered out an apology, “I’m sorry if I made you wait, I didn’t mean to …”

“Oh, no, you didn’t make me wait at all.  You’re still early.” 

You gave him a small smile which he returned, at least in part since it didn’t quite reach his eyes.  The atmosphere that settled over the two of you was undeniably awkward.  Should you say something first or let him speak first?  Was he going to speak first?  But what if he didn’t want to speak first?  Wouldn’t it be best for you to do so since he was anxious?  However, if you ended up talking over him, wouldn’t that be bad?  Oh Merlin, this silence was still stretching on and you just had to say something.

“I’m sorry,” you both blurted out at about the same time.

The two of you locked eyes at that and you couldn’t help but grin at the absurdity of the situation.  He seemed to see some humor in it as well, as his eyes finally crinkled in a genuine smile.

Feeling a little reassured that he at least didn’t hate you, you felt comfortable enough to take the lead.  Deciding to take a slightly different approach to starting this conversation, you tried speaking again. “Thank you for wanting to meet with me today, Ben.  I know it took a lot of courage to write back to me …”

“No, thank you for agreeing to after how I’ve been ignoring you.  It shouldn’t have taken me this long to respond …”

Before you could respond, you were interrupted by one of the servers who took your orders before leaving you in peace once more.

“Well, I’ve really missed having one of my best friends around, so I didn’t really have to think much about it.  And I understand, though I don’t even know if I’d want to ever really talk with me again if I were in your shoes …”  You slipped a hand up to rub the back of your neck, dropping your gaze to the table.

“No, I’m surprised you want to talk with me again.  You didn’t … do anything wrong.”  The confusion in his tone was enough to make you glance back over to him.  His eyebrows were knit with confusion and a frown replaced the adorable smile that had been there just moments ago.

“But it’s my fault ‘R’ targeted you to begin with, due to me dragging you into this whole Cursed Vaults business.  If you weren’t my friend, then you’d probably have been okay …”  Shifting uncomfortably in your seat, you averted your eyes away from him once more.  “And I understand if you don’t want to … be friends any more, given the danger.”

“That’s …”  Ben seemed to struggle to find words to respond to your explanation.  “I’ll always want to be friends with you.  You’re the one person who always believed in me, well, outside of my father at least.”  He paused briefly, seemingly taking a moment to think over his words further.  “I’ve known that the Cursed Vaults were dangerous for a while now, but … you’re worth it to me.”

When you looked up from his admission, you found him .  His face was flushed a warm pink, though he pressed on.  “However, I’d understand if you don’t want to be my friend any longer …  After all, what if someone takes control of me again?  What if I end up doing something worse?  What if they’ve already made me do something worse and I can’t remember?”

“Ben, please calm down.”  You could tell that he was starting to spiral and you were quick to reach out a hand across the table and place it over one of the hands he had pressed against the wood.  “We can work this out together and we always can in the future too, okay?  For right now, talk me through what happened so I can understand.”

And so, he went through everything he could remember from that night.  He didn’t remember much, just that he had been resting on the Gryffindor couch, talked with one of the Weasleys, bumping into Rakepick, and then putting on the red robe while not feeling like himself.

When he had finished he let out a small sigh before speaking, “I’m sorry I don’t remember more.  Professor Dumbledore tried everything he could that night, but nothing helped and I haven’t remembered anything else.”  You watched him practically deflate as he pulled his hand out from under yours.  “It’s hopeless, no, I’m hopeless …”

“That’s not true at all, Ben.”  Pulling your hand away from his side of the table, you gave one of his feet a nudge with your own under the table.  “The fact that we’re here together talking right now is more than enough proof.”

He looked back up at you then, “You … You really still trust me?  Even after everything and all of the sense Rowan made …?”

“I’ve never stopped trusting or believing in you.  I think it’s obvious that someone used you and I … I really don’t want to let that get in the way of our friendship.  Rather, I think we can get through this and everything else the Cursed Vaults throw at us … if you still think it’s worthwhile?”

You placed your hand palm face up in the middle of the table and he gladly took it and you curled your fingers around his hand and wrist.  It was then that you finally noticed the light blush that dusted his cheeks, undoubtedly matching your own since your face felt quite warm.

“As long as we’re together, I believe it is.”

Your orders finally arrived not too long after and the two of you spent the rest of your time together enjoying your tea and pastries while getting caught up with one another.

Chapter Text

You scowled at yourself in the mirror as you adjusted your hairstyle for what had to be the billionth time, you still felt like something was off.  And that was unacceptable.  Today marked your very first date with your long time friend and crush, Ben Copper.

Looking over your shoulder, you called out to your best friend, “Rowan, do you think I look stupid?  Is this too much?  Or not enough?”

They marked their place in the thick historical nonfiction book they were reading before they looked up at you over the frames of their glasses, flashing you their best reassuring smile.  “No, you look fine!”

“Just fine?”  Turning back to the mirror, you pulled at the collar of your clothing as you only descended further into your anxious spiral of thoughts.

“No, I mean …”  You heard them stand up and shortly you saw them stand beside you, giving you a quick pat on the back.  “Andre did a good job helping design an outfit for your date and I’m sure Ben will agree.  You look great and have nothing at all to worry about … well, aside from having a good time, of course.”

“But what if I mess it all up, you know?”  

Rowan slipped their hand up to your shoulder and gave a firm squeeze, making eye contact with you using the mirror.  “You’re just overthinking it.  And if you’re this bad, I can’t even imagine how nervous our good friend must be.  He’s probably having a heart attack right now.”

The thought helped provided some comfort and you let out a small chuckle.  “Probably.  But still, it’s hard not to worry about it since I just … I care about him so much.”

“And he feels the same about you, I have no doubt of that.”

That’s right.  Letting out a heavy exhale, you turned your attention back to your own reflection and gave yourself a small nod.  “I can do this.”

“Totally!  I know you’ve got this and you’re going to have a good time.”

Taking their words to heart, you admittedly felt a little better.  Taking the opportunity, you finally managed to turn your back on the mirror.  “Thanks Rowan, I know you didn’t really trust Ben there for a while, so I appreciate your support.”

“And I still have my doubts, but … he seems to make you happy and, even I must admit, that he has been surprisingly normal as of late.  But I’d be an awful friend if I didn’t support you over something like that.”  Their smile grew slightly, though the aura they radiated was anything but warm.  “Regardless, if he hurts you again, there will be consequences.”

“He won’t.”

Their smile relaxed again as they dramatically extended their arm to gesture toward the entrance to your dorm room.  “Alright, then go get ‘em, tiger.  But preferably before you would end up being late, as I’m quite certain he’d be liable to have a panic attack …”

Rolling your eyes at your friend’s remarks, you left your dorm still anxious, but feeling the tiniest bit more excited for the date than nervous.


However, as you walked toward Hogsmeade, all of your doubts and anxieties began to bubble up once more with renewed fervor, prevailing over your newfound excitement.  It hit a boiling point when you were able to spot a familiar blonde head of hair and Gryffindor scarf wrapped around his neck.  It seemed he had reached the gates of Hogsmeade five minutes early, as always.  This was really happening, you were actually about to go on a date with Ben Copper.  The reality of the situation sinking in was enough to make you feel dizzy.

Too caught up in the unpleasant sensation of your stomach lurching, you failed to notice an uneven shift in the path and took a stumble.  Your eyes screwed shut and hands instinctively going to block the fall that never came.  It only took you a moment to realize that you had been frozen in place mid-fall and almost as soon as you did, you were suddenly being shifted upright and back onto your feet.  You hadn’t even heard a single incantation either.

“Are you alright?!”  Ben asked as jogged over to you, wand still in one hand and eyes wide with concern.

Starting the date off with a fall right in front of him, nice!  Suddenly feeling quite warm from embarrassment, you could only rub the back of your neck as you stuttered out a response.  “Yeah, I’m fine.  But thanks for the help.”

At your reassurance, he tucked his wand back into his pocket and gave you a broad smile.  “I’m glad, you gave me a fright there.”  His eyes widened slightly as if he remembered something.  “Oh, right!  I brought you something special …”  Before you could even open your mouth to say anything, he removed his other hand from behind his back to reveal a thornless rose in hand.

The rose had obviously been enchanted, and expertly so at that, as slow waves of different colors swirled within the surface of the petals.  It practically shimmered and, without a doubt, was the most stunning flower you had ever laid eyes on in your entire life.  And Ben had just confidently offered it to you as if it was something entirely mundane.

What.

The gesture positively set your face aflame and you shyly accepted the charmed gift from him.  “Thank you, Ben.  This is—This is beautiful.”

“I’m really glad you like it.  It’s enchanted to never wither, so it’ll last a long time.”  While there was a light blush lighting up his cheeks, there didn’t appear to be any other sign of embarrassment.  He was standing up straight and making direct eye contact with you, he wasn’t even stuttering or stumbling over his words.  Meanwhile, you felt like your brain was on the verge of having a complete and utter meltdown.

What was happening.

Taking the opportunity to try and take a small moment to recompose yourself, you tucked it up behind your ear for safe keeping.  “So, um, where do you want to go first?”  You bit back a wince when you heard your voice crack as you posed the question.

“Well, I thought we could stop by Honeydukes first, if you’d like?”

You did not expect him to be this calm.  At all.

You could only give him a small nod before the two of you fell into step side by side to go to the candy shop.  However, shortly after passing the gates you felt him gently take hold of your hand.  It took you a moment to process that he had actually just done that, but you were quick to hold his hand back, enjoying the feeling in spite of your anxiety.  Your palms were undoubtedly slick with some sweat and likely trembling, but if he gave no indication that he noticed either fact.  Something that helped alleviate at least a tiny portion of your anxiousness.

Walking through Hogsmeade, Ben actually seized the initiative in carrying on the conversation without calling attention to the fact that he was holding your hand.  But you were having a hard time focusing given the fact that he was really holding your hand, oh sweet Merlin, but you were trying your best to listen to what he was saying about something interested he had read in an Astronomy book earlier that week.

He didn’t seem to mind your sudden quietness and before you knew it, you were at Honeydukes.  Reluctantly, he released your hand and you eagerly took the opportunity to dry off your slick palm on the material of your jacket.  Thankfully, picking out some candy to share with Ben proved to be a welcome distraction.  The two of you had done this countless times in the past and for a moment, you forgot that this was any different.  But only for a moment, as an elderly female customer was quick to compliment the charmed rose tucked behind your ear when you went to grab a couple of chocolate frogs.

Even though you still stuttered and stumbled over your words sometimes, he never seemed to be remotely irritated or even draw any attention to it.  It was as if he was totally oblivious to your obvious nervousness and you couldn’t be more glad of it.

The two of you walked around the small village for a short while after, just holding hands and chatting idly about whatever came to mind.  Finally, you found yourself able to finally loosen up a bit, adjusting to the fact that this was actually happening.  As you began to participate in the conversation more and make eye contact with him for longer than two seconds, Ben seemed to smile that adorable smile of his all the more frequently.

“How about we stop by the Three Broomsticks and get a bite to eat?”

“Sure, that sounds nice.”

It was a short walk to the pub and upon entering, Madam Rosmerta caught your eye in order to give you a not-so-subtle wink and a thumbs up.  In a moment you could feel your face heat up once again and did your best to shield your face from her using your free hand.  Ben led you upstairs and you were able to snag a nice, small table in a quiet corner that had recently been abandoned by its previous occupants.

A silence fell over the two of you as you waited for Madam Rosmerta to make her next trip upstairs.  Of course, it’d take a while for that to happen given how crowded the Three Broomsticks got on Saturday afternoons.  You couldn’t help but ask the one thing that had been running through your head ever since the two of you began your date.

“How are you so … calm, while I’m a nervous wreck?”  Wincing when you realized that you had been a bit rushed about it.  “I mean, not that it’s a bad thing you’re calm!  It’s a good thing, I’m just a bit, um, surprised is all.”

Finally, he seemed to show some signs of being embarrassed similar to your own as he reached a hand back to rub the back of his neck and a brighter blush blossomed across the apples of his cheeks.  “No, no, I understand.  It’s just that, um,” he dropped his gaze to the table as he continued to speak, “I’m really happy?  I mean, I’ve kind of been dreaming of this happening for … at least a couple of years now.”

For a moment, you almost forgot to breathe due to the combined adorableness of his confession and the way he looked.  The Gryffindor took your continued silence as an opportunity to tack on his own question, taking a risk to glance up at you as he spoke, “But, um, why are you so nervous?  Normally, you’re the calm one and I’m the mess.”  

“The same reason as you, actually.  I just, I really didn’t want to mess this up since I’ve liked you for such a long time.  But I’m afraid I kinda got too anxious about that …”

Making eye contact for a brief moment the two of you abruptly burst into giggles as the absurdity of this scenario sunk in for you both at the same time.  The sound of his laugh was something you rarely got to hear, but it made it all the more precious in moments like these.  Both of you were able to regain control over your laughter after several precious moments.  A beat of silence passed before Ben placed his wrist against the table, offering his hand to you.

“Well, we’re quite the pair, aren’t we?” he asked, his voice warm with his affection for you.

“That we are,” you responded, gladly intertwining your fingers with his own.

Chapter Text

There had been a lot on your mind since meeting all of your friends in the library the other day.  While you knew you didn’t intend to use them to further your own goals of pursuing the Cursed Vaults and finding your brother, it was hard to ignore the fact your actions seemed to say otherwise.

You hadn’t even realized how little time you had been spending with them and that needed to change.  And you knew just where to start …

Heading to the Artifact Room, you had a fairly good feeling as to where you could find your long-time friend and crush that you had in mind.

Cracking the door open, you were relieved to see that your intuition had been correct.  You cleared your throat to alert the boy to your presence before opening the door slightly more, trying to avoid spooking him if you could help it.  He still startled a bit, his brown eyes wide as he looked up to see who was there.  Though his surprise quickly melted into a warm smile when he realized it was you.

“Mind if I join you for a bit, Ben?” you asked.

“I wouldn’t mind at all!”  He dropped his gaze back to the Charms textbook in his lap before scratching his cheek sheepishly.  “Um, I mean, of course you can.”

Was he blushing?  Surely not, the dim lighting of the room was just playing tricks on your eyes …  

Stepping in, you quickly sat down cross-legged next to your Gryffindor friend on the floor, nose scrunching slightly as the odour of the Artifact Room fully hit you.  You drew your black and green robes closer around you, trying to ignore the chill of the cold stony floor.

“Why do you still hang out here?”  

“Well, I was going to study in the library, but I saw Professor Snape was there browsing for some books … so I came here instead.”  His shoulders slumped as he closed the textbook.  “I’m such a coward.”

The self-deprecating admission hung in the air for a few moments.  Your heart aching at

“That’s not true at all, Ben.” Giving him a small nudge, you continued with a reassuring smile, “In fact, I’d say you’re the bravest person I know.  By a wide margin, at that.”

Finally, he looked up at you, though his expression was that of someone who had just heard the most nonsensical thing he had ever heard.

“But all I do is cause you trouble and run away, just like I did over the summer …  Maybe—maybe Rowan’s right about me.”

“No, they were definitely out of line the other day with those comments.”  Slipping a hand up to his nearest shoulder, you gave it a gentle squeeze.  “Listen, do you remember how you took that hex for me at the beginning of this year?”

He nodded, brown eyes nervously flickering between your face and your hand, as if he was uncertain about what to make of the contact.

“That alone was the bravest and most selfless thing anyone has ever done for me.”

Now you definitely could tell his cheeks were flushed from your praise.  “But I just—”

“Shh, no buts!  That’s an indisputable fact.”  His lips pursed in a fine line, but he didn’t say anything further, his blush only seemed to grow in intensity.  “Besides, you face your fears head on every single day, which is more than anyone else I know can say.  For example, you always help me with the Cursed Vaults when I need your help, even though I know it terrifies you.”

“Well, I, um—th-thank you.”  He flashed you a sheepish smile before turning his attention to adjusting his red and gold tie, as if it were suddenly the most interesting thing in the room.  “But it’s because you’re my best friend, I’d never be able to do any of it if you weren’t there with me.”

Guilt suddenly flooded you as you remembered the criticism that Rowan had directed at you the other day as well.  You withdrew your hand, holding it to your chest.

“I’m sorry.”

Ben froze at the apology you blurted out and while you were doing your best to avoid looking at him, his tone was dripping in confusion that you could imagine what his expression must have looked like.  “What for?  You’ve … there’s nothing to be sorry for.  Unless there’s something I don’t know about?”

“No, it’s not that it’s just …  I know I’ve been absent lately and so focused on the Vaults.  I feel like I might have seemed like I’ve been using you and the others as of late, but that’s not—”  You pressed your lips together after hearing your own voice crack, not trusting yourself to press on.  

He gave you a gentle nudge with his elbow to get you to look at him again, this time he was the one wearing the reassuring smile.  “Hey, we all understand and know that you’re not manipulating us, if that’s what you’re worried about.  We help you because we want to.  Between all of your detentions, preparing for O.W.L.s, and trying to find your brother … we honestly just treasure whatever time you’re able to spend with us.”

Clearing his throat a bit, he dropped his gaze back down to his tie before saying more.  “Not to mention, you’re the most driven and kindest person I’ve ever known.  I consider myself very lucky to have you as my best friend … even if you’re always involved in something scary.”  He gave a small, involuntary shudder from thinking of the Cursed Vaults.

Not really thinking about it, you turned and threw your arms around his neck in a hug, which he somewhat awkwardly returned.  It took him a couple moments more to relax into it, but the two of you stayed like that for a while after he did.  Just thankful to have each other in your lives and not wanting the moment to end.

 

Chapter Text

It was the day before Valentine’s Day and Rowan had decided that this would be the year that you and Ben finally got together.  And to accomplish that feat, they had summoned Penny and Bill to help them.

Sitting at their usual table at the Three Broomsticks, Rowan couldn’t help but feel a touch bit irritated to see that Tonks, Tulip, and Barnaby had managed to tag along.  Things already weren’t going to plan, wonderful.

“So, what’s the important thing you wanted to talk about, Rowan?” Bill asked.

Pushing up their glasses, they smiled.  “Tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day and it seems like our favorite pair of oblivious idiots still haven’t realized they like each other.  So I was thinking it was time to change that and get them on the same page …”

“Ooh, we finally get to play matchmaker?!”  Tonks leaned forward in her chair, dark purple hair shifting toward a neon magenta in her excitement.

Tulip’s dark brown eyes gleamed with mischief as she elbowed the Metamorphmagus next to her, “It certainly sounds like it.  Looks like we finally get to put our plans into action, Tonks.”  Rowan didn’t like the sound of that.

Barnaby looked around at everyone, eyes squinted and lips parted in his typical confused expression.  “Wait, aren’t they already dating?”

“No, they just seem like they are.” Barnaby nodded and shrugged, taking his friend’s word as fact.  “And lately, my best friend hasn’t even talked about Ben with me, so I’m of the firm belief that we need to speed things up before they both lose hope.”

Bill looked uncertain as he looked to Rowan. “I mean, isn’t it best if we let them get together on their own?  They’ve got to figure it out, I mean, it’s pretty obvious they’ve liked each other for years now …”

“I don’t think it could hurt?  We’ll just give them a little nudge, right, Rowan?”

“Right.  Now, let’s talk plans …”


Attempt One

While you were getting ready for classes that morning, Rowan slipped out of the room to cast the growing charm and the bouquet they had gotten and shrunken the previous night before returning to the castle.  “Oh, wow, what’s this?”  Their tone was anything but convincing.

You glanced at your roommate over your shoulder, eyebrows shooting up when you saw the bouquet of flowers in their hands.  “Do you have a secret admirer or did Bill finally realize that you’re a way better catch than Emily?”

Rowan’s face flushed red, though they otherwise ignored your quip.  “Actually it’s for you from—”

They stared at the card on the bouquet for a moment, their expression shifting to one of pure and utter exasperation.  “From who, Rowan?”

“It’s signed, um, Big B.”

“Big—Big B?”  You couldn’t help but let out a small chuckle from how stupid that sounded.  “Who would sign a card with ‘Big B’?”

“Well, their name starts with a ‘B’ so … maybe Ben?”

Big Ben?  Like the clock tower?  Definitely not, that doesn’t seem like him at all.”  The idea alone made you laugh more, you’d definitely have to share this with Ben later, the look on his face would be priceless.

“Well, at least your mind went there and not … elsewhere.”  Undoubtedly like what one or both of the two tricksters responsible for this had intended.

“Elsewhere?  What could you possibly have thought of Rowan?”  Though the teasing tone in your voice told your friend that you understood what they meant.

A very flustered Rowan thrust the flowers at you.  “Ugh, nothing.  I’m heading to the Great Hall now.  See you there.”  They turned on their heel and bolted out of the room, leaving you still giggling with a random bouquet of roses in your dorm room.

Damn Tonks or Tulip, whichever of them switched out the card like that when they hadn’t been paying attention yesterday.  Perhaps they should have tried to convince Barnaby to partake in the plan and kept Tonks and Tulip well away from it.

Either way, attempt one was a resounding failure.


Attempt Two

Penny was thankful that she sat at the table behind the two of you in Potions, that made this easier.  It was your first class of the day, so now it was her turn to try and give the two of you the needed nudge.  She was taking that quite literally.

When he was returning to your table, Penny saw the perfect opportunity to set her plan into motion.

She subtly cast a mild tripping hex under the table, causing Ben to stumble and bump directly into you, your hands quickly reaching out to grasp his shoulders and stabilize him.  Unfortunately, the Hufflepuff had overestimated the grip he had on the ingredients and when he tripped into you … he also dropped them.  The few vials he had been carrying over shattered on the floor and drew everyone’s attention to Ben.

“Ten points from Gryffindor for wasting my ingredients, Copper.”  Snape drawled from his desk, his thin lips were stretched into a downright malicious smile as he continued speaking, “And the pair of you will make do with what you can salvage off of the floor.”

She clamped her hand over her mouth, guilt quickly overwhelming her as she watched the two of you quickly scramble to pick up everything that had fallen.  Merula snickered from her spot a couple of tables down, clearly enjoying watching her arch rival suffer.

“I’m so, so, so sorry.”  Ben kept muttering as he scooped up as much as he could, his hands bumping into yours.

“It’s fine, please don’t worry about it.  We’ll get through this together.”  He seemed to flush a light pink at your words and he promptly offered his hand to help you back up to set to work on brewing your potion.

At least there had been some contact made and gotten Ben to blush, but still it didn’t have the effect that she had been hoping for.

But attempt two seemed to have done more harm than good.


Attempt Three

It was Bill’s turn and he decided to take a more direct approach, since the more underhanded attempts of Rowan and Penny hadn’t exactly gone to plan.

Sitting next to his friend at lunch, he gave the younger Gryffindor a gentle nudge with his elbow.  “So, Ben, are you having a good Valentine’s Day so far?”

“I, um, suppose so?”  His eyes darted from the food in front of him to the Head Boy sitting next to him.  “Why do you ask?”

“I was just wondering if you, maybe, had plans to ask a certain somebody out.  If you know who I mean.”  The Weasley then winked at him to emphasize his point.

Unfortunately, Ben had just taken a sip of his tea when Bill winked.  He ended up choking on his drink out of surprise and after a violent coughing fit was able to splutter out, “I, um, n-no?”

“Well, it’s obvious that you fancy each other, so it might be a good day to finally do it.”

He only shook his head and gave his friend a feeble smile in response, “I’m quite fine with how things, erm, currently are, but thank you, Bill.”

The eldest Weasley gave him a pat on the back, feeling a bit bad about making him choke on his tea earlier.  “Sure thing.”

The rest of lunch passed a bit awkwardly, since Ben seemed to want to not talk with Bill after that.  So when lunch was dismissed, he was quick to catch up to you and fall into step beside you.  Thankfully, he had his break after lunch so he could afford to inquire over it with you.

“Whatcha need, Bill?”

“Oh, nothing much.  I was just wondering if you’re thinking about finally asking Ben out today, given the holiday and all.  If you need any moral support, I’ll—”

“—Thank you for offering to help, but I’m quite happy with the current state of my relationship with Ben.”

Huh, the similarities between your response and Ben’s struck Bill as a bit odd, but he merely shrugged it off chocking it up to coincidence and the two of you spending so much time together.  “Alright, well, I guess I’ll see you after class then.”

“Right, see you then!”

Attempt three accomplished absolutely nothing.


The Final Attempt

Letting Tonks and Tulip get their way was the very last thing Rowan had wanted, but everyone else’s attempts had failed thus far.  And so, they were sitting with Bill and Penny in one of the alcoves in a corridor as the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff waited to set their trap.

After dinner, they had noticed that Ben always waited for you in a certain spot before you headed up to the library to study together.

Stifling her giggles, Tonks conjured a piece of mistletoe to dangle over the unsuspecting Gryffindor’s head.  Totally wrong holiday, but that was part of what made it so brilliant.  Well, at least it was in her opinion.  Her and Tulip quickly ran off in the opposite direction from where Rowan and the others were hiding to observe from their own hiding spot.

Rowan slipped their hands up under their glasses, shielding their face from view as they leaned over to lay on their side on the bench.  Voice muffled by their hands, they said, “I can’t watch.  Bill, tell me what happens.”  Penny leaned over and gave them a gentle pat on the head while Bill occasionally peered over the corner of the alcove.

A minute or so passed before Bill broke the silence with a whisper, his tone a combination of disbelief and panic, “Oh no.”

“What?  What’s happening?”  Rowan shot up, hands now 

“Uh, Professor Snape’s walking right toward Ben and the actual target is just a bit behind him.”

Before they could even respond, they heard Snape’s sharp voice.

“What’s the meaning of this pathetic rubbish?  I know you’re pathetic, but I thought you were at least capable of keeping your seasons straight, Copper.”

“I, um, what?”  There was a beat of silence after Ben managed to squeak out a response.  “Ah.  I didn’t—That wasn’t me.”

“Oh, I believe you,” he paused and Rowan could practically hear the smirk in his voice, “But unfortunately for you, I don’t care.  The only date you’ll be having is detention in the Potions classroom this Saturday evening to do some cleaning.”

Silence fell over the corridor once again, though after it seemed like Snape had strolled out of sight they heard you burst into a fit of laughter.  Rowan, Bill, and Penny all froze up, unsure of what to do and all feeling quite terrible that Ben had got detention due to their matchmaking schemes.

When you managed to reel in your laughter, you called out to your friends, “You guys can come on out, I know you were responsible for this …”

The three of them looked at each other before getting up and guiltily shuffling out from their hiding spot, Tonks and Tulip did the same from their side.  You had an arm draped around Ben’s shoulders, though he had his face hidden in his hands, though his ears were flushed a bright pink.  Most likely out of embarrassment.

“Well, it looks like you guys succeeded in getting Ben a date this Valentine’s Day.  Just with Professor Snape instead of his significant other this Saturday like you were.”

Rowan was the first to catch on.  “Wait.  You two are already …?”  There was no way Barnaby, of all people, had actually gotten something right that they had gotten wrong.  They really could not accept that.

Ben was the one who answered, though he kept his face hidden in his hands.  “Yes, we’ve been dating since summer break …”

"That’s wonderful!”  Penny clapped her hands together, though her enthusiasm quickly faded to confusion.  “But why didn’t you tell us?”

“Well, we were trying to keep it secret from everyone due to ‘R’ still being a problem, it was more of a safety measure than anything else.”  You paused before a grin broke out on your face.  “Though I must admit that it’s really hard to keep things a secret from you guys when you go to this much trouble for us.”

Bill smiled as he patted Ben on the back, trying to aid in your effort to console Ben.  “Well, congrats you two!  Your secret’s safe with us, though I’m sorry we got you into detention.”

“It’s fine, Professor Snape was just looking for an excuse after what happened this morning.”  Finally, he managed to pull his hands away from his face.  “At least this was amusing, if not a bit mortifying.”

“Yeah, you guys really should’ve seen the look on Snape’s face when he saw the mistletoe.  It was priceless!” Tulip said, a smirk breaking across her face.

"Well, Big Ben’s here was even better.”  You teased, leaning over to place a quick kiss on his cheek.

“Please don’t start calling me that.”  While his tone was serious, he couldn’t help but grin at just how utterly ridiculous it sounded.  And soon that grin gave way to a small laugh as he pressed the back of his hand to his mouth, trying to stifle the laugher.

That laughter proved contagious as everyone joined in, the pointless absurdity of the day’s whole matchmaking scheme finally sinking in.

Well, everyone but your earliest friend at Hogwarts.  Rowan’s soul felt as if it had left their body at that point, unable to accept the fact that Barnaby had gotten something right that wasn’t about magical creatures.

Chapter Text

Sitting in the library, you and Rowan had set up at a table to do some work on an especially brutal Potions essay together.  However, you were finding it a bit hard to focus with Bill Weasley sitting just a couple of tables over, a group of other Seventh year Gryffindors studying with him for their N.E.W.T.s.  

Daring a peek when Rowan seemed to be zoning out, undoubtedly daydreaming about their crush, you ended up making eye contact with him.  Apparently the two of you had the same idea and he gave you a handsome half-smile before turning back to one of the other Gryffindors.  Feeling your face flush with heat, you quickly dropped your gaze back to the parchment in front of you and prayed that Rowan hadn’t noticed that interaction.

Thankfully, they didn’t.

Rowan sighed dreamily, resting their chin against their palm.  “Bill’s so dreamy, isn’t he?”

“Um, sure, I guess.  As I’ve said before, I’m not really into him, but I can kinda see what you like about him.”  The lie tasted bitter on your tongue, but you knew that it was the kinder thing to do.

“And I still don’t understand how you don’t fancy him.  Just look at him: he’s smart and brave and kind and, not to mention, obscenely good looking.  He’s perfect!”

“No, he’s a prefect,” you joked, intentionally trying to avoid having to lie to them as much as possible.

“Well, he’s the perfect prefect then.  And a perfect Head Boy now too, which is even better,” you could practically hear the eyebrow waggling in their voice.  “But seriously, I’m starting to wonder if you might be needing a pair of extra strong glasses if you don’t find him attractive.”

Your combined silence and avoidance of eye contact seemed to tip them off that something was wrong, since they nudged you with their foot under the table, “Hey, I don’t mean anything by it.  It’s just kind of hard not to tease you about your terrible taste in men.”

You finally looked up at them, giving them a weak smile.  “I know.”

They frowned as their dark eyes darted over your face for a few moments, but their chipper smile seemed to return once they concluded that everything was fine. 

“Well, enough about Bill, let’s actually get some work done!  This shouldn’t be too hard at all.”

“For you maybe,” you muttered under your breath, though you couldn’t help but smile from their enthusiasm.

“What was that?”

“Nothing.”

Over the next two hours that you were stuck in the library working, you and Bill had shared several more clandestine glances at each other with Rowan none the wiser.  It was impulsive and irresistible, he was right there and on your mind.

There had undoubtedly been … something between you and Bill Weasley since about a month after the Emily incident.  You knew that you were both aware of it, really, it was hard not to be given how the two of you flirted when you were alone together.  However, neither of you had ever acted on it, or even really talked about it.

The uncertainty as to what was actually between the two of you and the guilt from the secret flirting was becoming too much.  It was time to break the silence, as daunting as that task would be.


You ended up leaving the library alone, as Rowan was still resolved to stay and do more work on that exhausting essay.  Honestly, you really don’t know how they had so much energy when it came to studying.  However, Bill had also still been in the library before you had taken your leave, so that likely had something to do with it as well.

Heading toward your common room, you were lost in your thoughts thinking about how to best go about inviting him to talk about such a sensitive issue.  However, you were quickly stopped in your tracks when the voice belonging to the person you were thinking so intently of called your name.

Turning around, you stared at Bill wide-eyed as he approached you.  His bag was nowhere on him, so it seemed like this was probably going to be something short.  Though your gut told you that he was probably thinking the same thing as you, judging by his serious expression at least.

“Hey, um, I was thinking that we should … talk.”

“Right now?”  You had at least wanted time to plan out what to say, 

He gave you a nod before gesturing to the door of a nearby classroom with his thumb.  However, it was the reassuring smile he flashed you that caught your attention.  “It’s as good a time as we’ll get, I’m swamped with Head Boy duties and preparing for my N.E.W.T.s on top of classes.  I barely have any time to .”

You bit your lip, really not wanting to agree to this right now, but you knew that he was, indeed, ridiculously busy.  So against your better judgment, you gave him a nod.

And so, the two of you entered the classroom.  You quickly sat down on the nearest table and placed your bag on the ground in front of you.  Nervously swinging your legs as you watched him approach you and take a seat on the table beside you.  An apprehensive silence filled the room, but you found that it wasn’t as dreadful as you had expected.

“So,” he started, “I fancy you.  A lot.”  Well, that was a more direct confession than you had anticipated and your cheeks suddenly felt aflame, heart soaring in your chest.

“I, um, fancy you too, Bill.  But …”  You trailed off, the crescendo of happiness of but a moment ago imploded on itself as you were brought back down to the sadness of your reality.

“Rowan.”  He finished for you, his tone reflecting as much sorrow as you felt.

You gave a small nod, “Rowan.”  Finally you were able to bring yourself to look over at him, only to see that his brows were knit together and his usual smile was pulled down into a tight frown.  Clearly, this whole situation hurt him just as much as it did you, though seeing him look so hurt only made your heart ache all the more.

However, if nothing else, you at least received some consolation to know that you were both on the same page.  There was a lull in the conversation, neither of you knowing what exactly to follow up with right away.

Bill ended up taking the initiative once again and said, “Besides, you know I’m planning on, well, moving to Egypt after I graduate if everything goes according to plan, anyways.”  He gently took your nearest hand in both of his as he gave you a pained smile, giving it a gentle squeeze.  “And I couldn’t do that to you, as much as I may wish I could.  You’re … too important to me and I wouldn’t want to put you through anything more than you’ve already been through.”

The earnestness of his delivery was enough to bring the threat of tears to your eyes.  Blinking rapidly to try and fight them off, you were quick to put your free hand over his hand that was on top of yours.  “You’re important to me too, but we can stay friends, right?”

“Of course we will.  I’ll send you letters as often as I can, telling you all about the exciting things that I do as a Curse-breaker.  And you better write back, since I doubt they’ll be as exciting as anything you’ll be getting up to.”  Finally, he was able to give you one of his cheerful grins.

You were only able to give him a half-hearted smile in return.  “I doubt that.  It’ll be a lot less exciting without my senior Curse-breaker around—or at least, it’ll feel that way.“

“Hey, I’m leaving you in the best of hands.  There’s no way you’ll have a boring day with Tonks, Tulip, and Jae around.  I know you’ll adjust to it, just like always.”

You only managed a nod as you turned your attention to your hands, giving his a gentle squeeze, which he returned.  In that moment, you realized that the last thing you wanted to do was let them go.  When you did, this talk would be over and things would have to go to the way they were before … as hard as that may be.  This would be the only opportunity you would have to ask him for something you dearly wanted.

“This … might be really selfish of me, but can I make a request of you?”

“You can at least make it, I’ll do my best to fulfill it if I can.”

Taking a deep breath in, you worked up all of your courage to ask it, though it came out far more rambling than you would have liked.  “I’ve, um, I’ve always kind of … wanted you to be my first kiss.  So, uh, would you consider actually being my first kiss?  I-I understand if you don’t want to do it, but you’re—you’re really important to me and I just had to ask.”

When you heard him let out a small chuckle it felt like your face was in the midst of a nuclear meltdown.  “I’d be honored.  So long as it’s just this one time.”

Your heart felt as if it did a somersault in your chest when you heard him agree, you honestly hadn’t been expecting him too.  “Just this one time.”  You turned your face back toward him again, giving him a small smile and nod.

He leaned down and gently pressed his lips against yours, his lips were soft and warm against your own.  The feeling was better than anything you had imagined so, needless to say, it didn’t take you long to melt into the kiss.  However, your first and last kiss with Bill Weasley came to an end far too soon when he pulled his mouth away from your own.  His face hovered a few centimeters away from yours, as if he was hesitating, before he forced himself to pull his hands away from yours before elegantly sliding off the table.

“I really wish things could have gone differently,” he said, still standing at your side but unable to bring himself to look at you again.

“Me too.”

He stood there for a moment longer, as if there had been something else he may have wanted to say, before taking his leave of the classroom and leaving you alone with your feelings.

You didn’t know how long you sat there for, but after a while you hopped off the table and wiped away your tears with the back of your hand.  Pushing the thoughts of Bill Weasley and how his lips felt out of your head, you turned your mind to Beatrice and your brother.  Feet feeling heavy as they carried you back to your common room.

All you could do now was look forward now, not back.

Chapter Text

Finally, you were able to enjoy some peace and quiet in the company of some of your dearest friends.  And someone even dearer to you than that, of course.

Barnaby gave your hand a gentle squeeze under the table before leaning over and pressing a small kiss against your cheek.  While you strongly appreciated the affection from your official boyfriend of only a week, the two of you were in the middle of a study session.  In the library.  With Rowan and Ben sitting right across from you.

Rowan adjusted their glasses to rest higher on the bridge of their nose and spoke in their best strict teacher’s voice, “We’re here to study, Barnaby.”

“Well, I’m just studying how cute my partner is.”  He didn’t even miss a beat as he looked over to them, his green eyes warm with affection and tone as sincere as could be.

Your face flushed hot from the flirtation and a giddy smile broke out across your face.  There was little doubt in your mind that you looked like an idiot right then, but that was just so cute.

“For Potions.”  Rowan clarified, their tone somehow even sterner than before.  Meanwhile, Ben had his eyes focused on the textbook in front of him, quite clearly trying to avoid making any eye contact with you or Barnaby.

“Oh, okay.”

He still held your hand under the table, but he was making a concerted effort to try and listen to Rowan’s mini-lecture.  Unfortunately, Ben had made the mistake of asking a complicated question to Rowan.

While you were trying to pay attention to their explanation, Barnaby had different ideas.  “Hey,” he whispered.

The moment you turned to look at him to see what he wanted, he leaned down and pressed his lips against yours in a sweet kiss.  It took your brain a few moments to comprehend what had just happened and, without even really thinking about it, you ended up melting into the kiss after you did.  What could else could you do?  Barnaby was downright irresistible.  However, given the public state of the moment, it didn’t take long for you to get snapped out of your love induced trance.

Oh, God,” you heard Ben squeak out.

That was all it took to break the trance.  Ben was shielding his eyes with both of his hands, face a bright crimson red from the secondhand embarrassment.  Rowan was similarly blushing, but they looked more ticked off in that moment than anything else due to disrupting the study session.

“That’s it, Barnaby, we’re switching seats.”

“But I want to sit—”

“No buts.”

As Barnaby got up to switch seats with Rowan, you heard some giggling coming from the table behind you.  Turning around, you noticed some of your favorite Ravenclaws staring right at you.

Bedeea and Andre were the two responsible for the giggles and when they noticed you looking at them, the former flashed you a knowing smile while the Quidditch player went a bit further by giving you a thumbs up and a wink.  Talbott, who was the third and final Ravenclaw at their table, merely shook his head as he kept his head down, muttering under his breath.

Quickly turning around, you slid down in your seat, feeling a bit flustered that so many of your friends had been privy to the scene.  Thankfully, the switch in your seating arrangement proved to be less distracting for Barnaby than your previous one.

Well, somewhat.  The two of you were still able to play a subtle game of footsie under the table.


The next day, Bill had organized a small get-together in the Three Broomsticks for any of your friends who were able to make it.  Penny needed some time with friends and to get out of Hogwarts for a little bit, as this last year had been especially hard on her.  And so, that’s how you were sitting in the usual corner booth with Bill, Penny, Charlie, Liz, Diego, and—of course—Barnaby.  

Charlie had, unsurprisingly, managed to shift the conversation onto dragons, chatting with Penny.  Liz would occasionally chime in as well, contributing her own knowledge.  The eldest Weasley was just listening into the conversation, doing his best to follow along with his brother’s excited chatter.  Diego and Penny were having their own side conversation, apparently he had heard something funny about their former prefect, Jane, and was filling her in on the details.  However, you found yourself unable to really focus on any of their conversations.

Uncharacteristically for him, Barnaby was keeping quiet on the subject, although you weren’t about to complain.  He had his arm resting around your shoulders, his hand up in order to gently play with your hair.  You were just enjoying the close proximity, not really listening into their conversations as you cuddled with him.  It was nice that none of your friends seemed to pay any attention to it, well, at least they didn’t for a while.

“Your hair’s softer than a Puffskein,” Barnaby said dreamily, right in the middle of a lull in the others’ conversations.

Bill had unfortunately been taking a swig of his butterbeer when the Slytherin boy said it and choked on his drink, clearly finding the distinctly Barnably line amusing.  Meanwhile, Liz hid her grin behind her hand, silently approving of the line.

“Aw, you two are really cute together,” Penny cooed with a bright smile, obviously just happy for her friends.

On the other hand, Diego’s eyes flickered between the two of you, face clearly reflecting his distaste for what he considered to be poor attempt at flirting, “But perhaps you wouldn’t mind receiving some pointers on how to flirt better?  I have a few suggestions, such as never comparing your partner to a magical creature.”

“Well, I thought it was quite charming, Diego,” you retorted, smiling up at Barnaby.  He returned it before leaning down and stealing a chaste kiss from you.

Charlie didn’t seem to have much of a reaction as he turned back to Liz and started the conversation back up, “Anyways, I’m curious about what you think about the potential uses of shed Peruvian Vipertooth fangs …”  

The rest of the time together passed uneventfully and you just enjoyed being cuddled up to Barnaby’s side in the good company of your friends.


You couldn’t help but be a bit surprised when Barnaby showed up for detention in the kitchens a few days later, along with Tonks and Tulip who had apparently gotten busted for trying to prank Professor Snape.  Tonight would certainly be a lively one in detention … at least, when Pitts wasn’t looking.  You wondered who had made the terrible decision of putting the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw in the same detention together.  It would not end well.

However, you were more concerned by Barnaby’s presence than anything else, since he hadn’t mentioned getting detention that evening.  Strolling over to your boyfriend, you were quick to ask the question on your mind.  “Why are you here, love?  You didn’t mention you had detention earlier …”

“I wanted it to be a surprise!  I didn’t turn in my Transfiguration homework any day this week, so Professor McGonagall would give me detention.”

“You intentionally got yourself detention?  Why?” you asked, positively incredulous.

“Yup!  I always miss you when you’re in detention, so I wanted to come keep you company.”  He gave you that charming smile of his before reaching over and gently taking your nearest hand.  

Feeling your face flush with heat, feeling touched that Barnaby went through such trouble just to spend more time with you.

Tulip and Tonks shared a look.  That was never a good thing.

“What are the two of you up to?”  You squinted at the two of them.

The redhead smirked at you, “Oh, nothing.  We just heard that the two of you were all over each other in the library the other day.”

“We weren’t ‘all over’ each other.  We were just sitting next to each other and we held hands and we kissed, then under the table we—” you had to gently elbow the tall Slytherin to stop him from continuing.

“She didn’t mean it literally, Barnaby.”

“Ah.”

Tonks snorted as she let out a small laugh at his response … and probably the look on your face too.

“But, um, who told you guys about that?”  You asked, trying to shift the topic off of your embarrassment.

“Talbott, actually,” Tulip said.

Really?” That had not been who you expected to have.

“Oh yeah,” Tulip replied, a cheeky smirk breaking across her face.  “You know how grumpy he can be, while we were all hanging out in the common room Bedeea commented about how sweet you two are together and he went off about it being inappropriate.  It was hilarious.”  

Tonks chimed in, “Just don’t try any of that here, I don’t think Pitts would appreciate it much.  Though Tulip and I might be able to create some … distractions if you want.”

Barnaby was quick to jump in before you could even respond, “That’d be great.”

“Then just leave it to us!” Tulip said before giving you a wink.

Jae had just been watching you all talk, hands jammed into the pockets of his gold colored hoodie. “Well, I don’t care, so long as you stay away from me while you do it.”  Turning he began to walk toward the farthest table on the left, “I’ll be over here, so just be anywhere over there.”  He didn’t even look back as he vaguely waved his hand over to the right.

Tulip and Tonks were true to their word, the way they distracted Pitts and most of the other elves enabled you and Barnaby to sneak in some kisses and embraces when no one was looking.  But better yet, Tulip managed to set off an impressively large Dungbomb to bring detention to an early end in all of the chaos.

Taking the opportunity, you and Barnaby were quick to run out of the kitchens and head up the Grand Staircase to the Artifact Room to finally get some real privacy, holding hands all the while.  The brief touches you had exchanged during detention had been nice, both of you wanted more.

Not even bothering to check if the Artifact Room was unoccupied, the two of you stumbled in.  Barnaby didn’t even wait for the door to close behind you before pulling you close and crashing his lips down onto yours in a needy kiss.  You were quick to return it with the same fervor, releasing his hand to move your hands up and tangle them in his hair.  He slipped his hands up to grip your waist, pulling you flush against himself as he deepened the kiss and ran his tongue against your bottom lip.  You let out a small moan as you parted your lips to grant him access, completely absorbed in snogging him.


Unfortunately, the pair of you had failed to notice that poor Ben was sitting in the corner of the room when you barged in and practically gave him a heart attack in the process.  Without even thinking about it, he cast a nonverbal Disillusionment charm on himself, pulling the hood of his robe down over his eyes he curled up into a small ball.  Just hoping you’d both leave soon.  

Why did this kind of thing always happen to him?

Chapter Text

Heading down to the kitchens to serve out your detention, you weren’t expecting anything of interest to happen.  That is until you spotted a familiar bright gold hoodie out of the very corner of your eye, down a shadowy side hall.  You would’ve missed it if his hoodie weren’t so bright and familiar.

Stopping in your tracks, you watched as Jae talked with a younger Ravenclaw before they offered him some coins in exchange for a small.  As much as you wished you could just turn a blind eye, you knew you had to at least make sure.  While you didn’t care about his business, you did care about how the students used the contraband.

“Whatcha got there?”

The young Ravenclaw’s eyes widened when he saw the shiny prefect badge pinned to your robes.  “I, um, it’s a—”

“Just a screaming yo-yo, nothing you gotta really worry about.”  Jae slipped his hands back into the pocket of his hoodie as he gave you a lazy smile.

The Ravenclaw nodded furiously and you could only let out a small sigh, stepping aside in order to let him pass.  “Just try not to deafen anyone with it, if you can avoid it, kid.”

“Right and thanks, uh,” he seemed to realize that he didn’t know Jae’s name and floundered for a moment, “Hufflepuff guy …?”

“My name’s Jae and I’m a Gryffindor,” he corrected, removing a hand to gesture to the foot he had just raised for emphasis, “I have red shoes.  It’s obvious.”

He only stared at your good friend, looking more confused than before.  “Uh, right, sorry.  Thanks, Jae.”  

As soon as the boy was out of earshot, you couldn’t help but let out a small laugh at how awkward Jae’s response had been to getting put into the wrong house.

He narrowed his eyes at you. “What’s so funny?”

“Nothing.  I was just thinking about how wearing a red hoodie and yellow shoes would solve your problems.”  You grinned at him, clearly joking around.

“And here I thought you were the kind of prefect I liked,” he shook his head, tone saturated with humor as he continued, “Not only did you just scare one of my valuable customers off, but you also insulted my taste in fashion.  I’m disappointed.”

Keeping up with the act, you rolled your eyes and crossed your arms over your chest.  “Oh please, I didn’t insult it, I just pointed out the obvious.  Besides, you can always draw in more customers off of me, being the ‘Cursed Vault Kid’s best friend’ has gotta make for a useful marketing scheme.”

Jae seemed to drop his eyes back down to his red shoes at that, shifting on his feet as he thought over his response for a few moments.  “Actually, I was thinking that there’s an even more marketable alternative …”

“And what would that be?”

“Like the ’Cursed Vault Kid’s boyfriend,’ maybe?”  He looked up at you as he ran a hand through his unkempt black hair, a light blush spreading over his cheeks.

His question took you off guard, but as soon as your shock wore off you gave him a vigorous nod, face heating up.  “I think that’d be good for the both of us.”

The warm way he smiled at you when you agreed made your heart thrum with happiness.

“Then how about we go on a date to Diagon Alley this weekend?”

“Are you suggesting that so you can pick up some things from Knockturn Alley while we’re out?”

Jae pulled both of his hands from of his hoodie then and lifted them up in front of him, a playful smirk on his lips.  “Alright, you caught me red-handed.  Yet again.”

“No Knockturn Alley business and you’ve got a deal.”

“I suppose I can accept that deal, but only because its you.”

The two of you just grinned at each other for a few moments, basking in the joy of it, before heading to the kitchens together.  Hand in hand.

Chapter Text

  • Unlike his parents, Barnaby doesn’t really care much for status or anything.  He just wants to live a nice, cozy life with you.
    • Given all the Cursed Vaults business and the trauma that happened along the way, the two of you have a pretty strong bond.
    • By the time he graduates, he already knows he wants to spend the rest of his life with you.  
    • He honestly can’t see it not working out, he just loves you so much and is wholeheartedly dedicated to making it work.
  • Barnaby does wait to pop the question to you though, he’s very considerate and wants to make it something cute and memorable, but nothing flashy.
    • It ends up happening about a year out of Hogwarts, not too long after the two of you officially moved in together in a small flat.
    • He was going to tie the ring on your favorite Puffskein from the poffle you guys have.  And have you find it before getting down one knee and asking you to marry him.  He had his whole speech planned out and everything.
    • But, uh, he kinda botches it by not tying the knot properly and the ring fell off without him realizing it.
      • So he ends up having to search around on the floor for it without telling you what the he’s doing.  And as soon as he finds it he just blurts the question out and you figure out what he was trying to do and (of course) you say yes.
      • You give him an ‘A’ for effort though, it’s still super memorable and just so Barnaby.
  • You end up getting married a few months later in a really small ceremony with your closest friends and family.
    • Barnaby may or may not cry when he sees you walk down the aisle (and throughout the vows and everything).  It’s one of the happiest days of his life, after all.
      • Ismelda was never more glad that the two of them stayed just friends.
  • While he wanted to become a magizoologist, he doesn’t really like to be away from home for long stretches of time since he misses you too much.  Felix has to point out that he could work in the Ministry, like his uncle.
    • He ends up working for the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.  He bounces around subdivisions for a while before he settles into a singular position.
      • That position is in the Beast Division and helps specifically for local conservation efforts and studying native populations of creatures.
      • So he gets outdoors a lot, gets to work with magical creatures and with a team of people who are just as passionate about them as him, but still gets to come home at the end of the day.  He couldn’t be happier with his job.
  • The two of you live in your flat for a while, saving up and looking for some cheap property that fits your needs.  You end up finding a great place in your budget before your first wedding anniversary.
    • It’s a medium sized cottage out in the country and get it for a good price since it’s a bit of a fixer upper … putting it mildly.
    • However, between Barnaby’s elbow grease and your combined magic, you get it in good shape in no time.
    • Thankfully, the Floo Network and Apparation gets rid of one of the major drawbacks of living in rural England.
  • It has a large yard and he ends up convincing you to set up a small stable and get an Abraxan, since one of his pals from work bred them on the side.
    • While that’s the largest creature you guys have, your house is just about always crawling with them.  Some are there for a while to be rehabilitated, others are permanent family members.
    • One very important addition was the right type of tree to keep your very own colony of Bowtruckles.
  • One important thing about Barnaby is that he really wants kids down the road.  He loves kids, just like he loves magical creatures.  And the idea of having his own family with you just makes him ridiculously happy.
    • The two of you do talk about what you want in the future pretty early on in the relationship, so he knew what he was getting into.
    • If you don’t want kids: he’ll be pretty sad about it, but he understands.  He loves you and accepts that part of being in a relationship with you.  Instead, you’re likely going to have more magical creatures!
      • He may get into the Abraxan breeding hobby himself since caring and raising more large scale magical creatures to care for is very fulfilling for him.
  • But if you also want kids: Barnaby would really like two or three children and he doesn’t really care if they’re adopted or biological, it depends on your situation and what you prefer.
    • Nor does he have much of a preference of having girls or boys.  They’re his child, he’ll love them unconditionally no matter what and be a better, more loving father than his own.
    • As soon as your ready for kids, he’s ready.  So you get to set the pace, though he may get a bit antsy the longer the two of you wait.
      • Though if you do wait at least three years, he’ll end up being grateful for it due to the war breaking out.
  • When telling your friends that you’re having or adopting kid(s) you come up with a bit of a creative way, either through props or subtle hints and having them (really, Rowan) figure it out when you get the group together next time.
    • Unfortunately, Barnaby blurts it out without really thinking about it because he genuinely forgot about the plan due to how excited he is. 

Chapter Text

It was a perfectly normal Sunday afternoon, you were enjoying the pleasant spring weather by sitting out in the courtyard near the fountain.  Reading through the assigned chapter of your DADA textbook, you were blissfully unaware of the trouble that was strolling right up to you.

“Taking a break from the Cursed Vaults, are we?”

Resisting the urge to roll your eyes, you calmly looked up at her and forced a smile on your face.  “Well, I have to take my O.W.L.s are this year, so I can’t just focus all my time on the Vaults.”

“I would’ve thought you’d be quite good with Defense Against the Dark Arts, given all the illegal dueling you get into.”  It seemed as if she decided you weren’t even worth looking at as she turned her blue eyes to analyze her nails.  “It’s no surprise they passed on making you a prefect.”

And a crowd of other, mostly younger students was starting to gather to watch the popular Emily pick on the weird Cursed Vault kid who was always getting into trouble.

You took a deep breath in, doing your best to keep your cool and not stoop to her level.  “I’m actually glad I didn’t get chosen to be a prefect, I already have enough on my plate as it is.”

“Are you sure it doesn’t bother you even a little?  After all, it seems to imply that you’re not even good enough for your pathetic little crush.”

“Excuse me?”  You didn’t like where this was going one bit.

Placing her free hand on her hip, she finally made eye contact with you again.  “Isn’t it a bit too obvious that you like Bill Weasley?  You’re always following him around like a little lovesick puppy.  It’s sad to watch, you’d think a Gryffindor would have the guts to tell someone they’re not interested.”

Some muttering broke out among the students from her comments.  Why didn’t anyone do anything?  What had you done to any of them to deserve this kind of mockery?

When you kept silent, avoiding her gaze, she escalated things a step further by saying, “You know you’ve got to be pitiful when even a low-class Weasley doesn’t want you.”

Whether it was the way her snide comments resonated with your own insecurities or her fresh jab at the Weasley family, you took her bait and impulsively reached for your wand.  Preparing to duel had almost become instinctual for you by this point, really.

However, before you could even properly draw it, you were knocked backwards into the fountain with a loud splash.  Sitting up in the shallow water, you spat out some water that you had somehow swallowed during the short duration you were under for.  There were a couple of moments of stunned silence before some laughter broke out among the peers that had gathered to watch Emily figuratively sink her manicured nails into the newest target.

“Aw, can’t even draw your wand?  You’re even worse than I thought, I don’t know how someone like you can draw so much attention to yourself.”  Tilting her head to one side as she looked down at you, the smirk on her face just screaming of her smug sense of superiority.

While she sauntered off, the other students were still watching you, probably seeing if you’d make a fool of yourself as you got out.  Thankfully, you didn’t and they seemed to disperse after you were back on your feet.

Drenched and humiliated, you shoved your book into your backpack before heading back inside.  Keeping your head down to ignore the stares of any passing students, you sped walked back into the castle and made a beeline for the Gryffindor tower.  All you wanted right then was to change into some dry clothing and maybe have a good cry to vent your emotions.

You gave the password to the Fat Lady and entered the common room, not making it more than a few feet in when you heard none other than Bill call out your name.

Stopping in place, you stared down at your feet as the biting words Emily had just thrown your way echoed in your mind.  Before you knew it though, he was upon you, one hand gently placed on your shoulder as he leaned down to try and make eye contact with you.

“What in Merlin’s name happened?  Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” you said, though the words rang hollow.

He straightened back up and removed his hand, albeit hesitatingly so.  “You definitely don’t look fine …  But seriously, what happened?”

Daring a quick glance around the common room, you were relieved to see that the only other students present were Charlie, Jae, and Ben.  All of whom were watching you wide-eyed with concern from the sofa.

“Emily Tyler happened.  She said some nasty things while a crowd gathered, I took the beat and reached for my wand, and she knocked me back into the pond before I could even do anything.”

You could see Bill’s jaw clench and seemed to grow progressively more irritated as you repeated what happened.  However, he didn’t say anything and Charlie ended up being the one to speak next, “Wait, Bill, isn’t that Emily girl the you fancied for a while … or something like that?”

He turned his face to address his brother, some bite to his tone.  “Unfortunately, I’m regretting that lapse in judgment the more I learn about her.  I can’t believe I ever cared about someone cruel and self-absorbed like her.”  

The eldest Weasley turned back to you shortly after and gave you a reassuring smile, “I’m sorry that you had to go through all of that.  I wish I had been there to help put an end to it before it escalated.”

“Ah, thanks,” you said, feeling your face heat up slightly from his kindness.  Though you were definitely glad he hadn’t been there, you would’ve died from embarrassment on the spot.

A couple of beats of silence passed before Ben got up off the sofa, eyes shifting between you and Bill and where Charlie was still seated on the couch.  “Um, I know a charm to dry you off, but I think we should take our studying up to our dorm room.”

“Why?” Charlie asked before you could respond, eyes squinted in confusion.

“We’ve been camped out on the sofa for a while now and you know, there’s that,” he said and nodded vaguely to Bill, which only confused you.  Charlie didn’t seem to understand it any better than you did though.

“Yeah, you know that thing,” Jae smacked Charlie’s shoulder with the back of his hand for emphasis.  “The one that your big bro never shuts up about, now’s as good a time as ever for it to come up.” 

It took the younger Weasley a few seconds before he realized whatever it was, “Oh.  Oh!  Right, yeah, good idea, Ben.  We’ll head on up then.”  The two still seated Gryffindor boys got up and quickly departed, though you swore the Gryffindor’s resident contraband seller winked at the Bill.

You felt so lost about what they were talking about.

With a few swishes of his wand and an incantation that you weren’t familiar with, Ben wicked away the water from your clothing and hair and into a compact orb of water.  “I’ll, um, just dispose of this very carefully …”

“Thanks, Ben.”  Physically, you already felt much better, but your pride was still wounded.

“It’s the least I could do after everything you’ve done for me.”  He gave you a small smile before heading up the stairs, taking the levitating orb of water with him.

That left you and Bill alone together.  When you looked back up at him, you thought he was blushing slightly for some reason, but you.

“What … did she say to you?”

“It was nothing serious, really.”

When you dropped your gaze back down to the floor to avoid looking at your long-time crush, you noticed him move as he went to stand at your side.  Before you knew it, his arm was wrapped around your shoulders.  “Let’s go sit down and actually talk about this, okay?”

With him so close, you couldn’t help but nod and let him lead you over to the sofa, you could feel a blush begin to creep across your face.

“I doubt whatever she said was nothing.  I heard about how she publicly humiliated Murk earlier this year …”  Even when you were seated like this, he kept his arm wrapped around you.

You managed to spare a glance at him, only to know you were ruined the moment you did.  His blue eyes were looking at you with so much concern and, hopping Horlocks, he was so much closer than you thought.  You couldn’t bring yourself to lie to him or dance around the truth when he looking at you like that.  Besides, He would be graduating soon, it wasn’t like you had much to lose by being honest with him, right?  Plus, he’d most likely hear about it from someone else and you’d rather him hear it from your mouth than someone else’s.

“Well, she started out by goading me about not making Gryffindor prefect due to all the trouble I get into.  Which, I mean, she was kind of right about …”

Bill gave your shoulder a gentle squeeze with his hand.  “That’s a matter of opinion, I still think you exemplify the best qualities of our house.  You’ve probably done more for this school than anyone of the other students have.”

Feeling your face heat up further as your confidence ticked up, you pressed on, “But, um, she then started talking about you …”

“… Why would she talk about me?”

Taking a deep breath in and out, you drew up all your courage to get out the next sentence, “Because I fancy you and she wanted to mock me for following you around, or you know just being friends, and tell me that you didn’t feel the same way …”  

The redhead stared at you for a few moments before an handsome grin broke across his face, “Well I do feel the same, so she was wrong on that count.  I just wasn’t sure if you felt the same or, um, wanted to date considering that I’m probably not going to stay in England after I graduate …”

All of Emily’s jabs were forgotten in the moment that he told you he felt the same way and you couldn’t stop yourself from grinning.

“We can make it work or, um, at least I’m willing to try.  I just … really fancy you, Bill.”  The admission was enough to make you turn your face away as it undoubtedly was burned scarlet.

“I really fancy you too, so I’m willing to try if you are.”

You had finally started to relax when you remembered something incredibly important.  Turning back to him, you said, “But what about Rowan?!  I know they’ve had a huge crush on you as well.”

“We actually had a heart to heart about it a couple weeks ago.  They’ve given their blessing, so that shouldn’t be a problem,” he paused, his expression serious yet soft as he continued, “They’re lucky to have such a considerate best friend, though.”

If you could’ve, you would’ve probably blushed harder from his compliment.  “Thank you, but that’s a relief to hear.  I’m glad I was worried over nothing.”

He gave you a small nod and apologetic smile, “I’m sorry about keeping that a secret, but I didn’t want to make a mess of things, you know?”

“I understand,” you smiled up at him.  “But does this mean we’re, um, dating now?”

“I believe it does.  How about we make it official by going to Hogsmeade next weekend, my treat?”

“That sounds lovely.”

The two of you just stayed like that for a while, you cuddled up against his side and talking about whatever else that came to mind.  Emily was not one of those things, in fact, she was probably the farthest thing from your mind.


Later that very same afternoon you found yourself still seated on the sofa with Bill, now holding hands and just chatting about some exciting adventures about Curse Breaking he had read earlier.  Students were trickling back in before dinner and all was well until a shriek disrupted the calm.  Apparently, when Emily Tyler entered the common room a certain something fell on her and she ended up soaked.

Ben had been innocently sipping on some tea with Rowan, Charlie had been dozing off in an arm chair with a book on dragons resting against his chest, and Jae had been laying on his stomach on the ground while reading a comic book.  And everyone except for him seemed to jump at the sound, poor Charlie’s book even clattered to the ground when he woke with a start.

YOU!” She shouted and stormed up to where you and Bill were seated, finger pointing at you.  “You did this!”

“Got any proof?”  Jae immediately retorted, dramatically flipping a page in his comic book without even bothering to look up.

Emily spluttered in indignation for a few moments before getting her words out, “No, but isn’t it obvious who the culprit is?”

This time Bill responded, eyes flashing defiantly with his hand still holding yours, “And why should it be obvious, Tyler?”

Screwing her mouth up and to the side she spat, “I know what you’re doing, Weasley, and I’m not going to fall for it.  I’ll just find evidence to prove it!”

“Good luck with that,” Jae said and you caught him and Ben exchanging a knowing look as Emily stormed off in a rage.

Rowan glanced around at everyone as the room returned to silence, utterly lost.  “Just how much did I miss while I was in the library?”

Chapter Text

A meeting for the Order was about to begin and you and your husband, Ben, found yourselves alone in the parlor, seated on an overstuffed sofa.  It was only your second meeting and Ben still seemed jittery and on edge, understandably apprehensive about hurtling into danger again after all of the Cursed Vault business.

Trying to distract him, you placed a hand on his nearest knee and said, “It’s nice to see Tonks and all the Weasleys again, isn’t it?”

“It is.  Though I’m quite grateful Tulip hasn’t joined yet, between Tonks and the twins, I’m afraid we wouldn’t have enough peace to get anything done.”

Almost as if on cue, there was a loud banging noise from upstairs and Mrs. Weasley shouting.  The two of you looked at each other before sharing a grin, knowing that the twins must have broken out yet another one of their novel prank devices.

Right when you had opened your mouth to make a cunning remark, the front door opened and closed and the both of you turned to see who the newest arrival was.  Only to reveal none other than Severus Snape, looking the exact same as you had last seen him.  His black eyes were immediately drawn to you and Ben, though hiss expression seemed to sour slightly upon landing on the former Gryffindor.

“Ah, if it isn’t the Coppers.  I wasn’t surprised to hear that you had joined the Order, can’t seem to stop meddling in dangerous affairs, can you?”

“It certainly doesn’t seem like it.”  Snape just glowered at your dry response, totally ignoring the trembling man seated beside you.

Ben went pale, swallowing thickly as he hopped up onto his feet. “Well, um, I think I’m just … going to see if Mrs. Weasley needs any help upstairs.”  

He looked down to you, obviously hoping that you would approve of his escape plan.

“Okay, I’ll see you at the meeting then, dear.”

He gave you a small smile before leaning back down and placing a light kiss to your forehead, giving one last anxious look at the Potions master before taking his leave.

With your husband out of the room, Severus lingered near the hallway entrance for a few moments before going to head to the dining room.  However, you hadn’t seen him since graduation and now seemed to be the opportune time to finally thank him for everything he did for you.  

“How have you been, professor?”

He stopped in his tracks halfway to the door and sneered, “Considering that we’re in the middle of a war, how do you think I’ve been?”

“Fair point, I suppose.”  You shifted on the sofa to get a better look at him, “But how has teaching Potions been treating you since I graduated?”

“Terribly,” he curtly replied as he sat down in the armchair nearest to you.  “The most recent lot of hopeless students includes some that are even less capable than that husband of yours.”

“Come now, sir, my husband wasn’t that bad.  He’s just, you know, better suited to charm work than potion brewing.”

“I suppose you may just call me Snape, you are no longer a student of mine.  Thankfully.”  He steepled his hands before addressing your statement, “I do suppose I have come to realize that he isn’t the absolute bottom of the barrel.  The number of explosions that I have witnessed in my classroom this past year is testament enough to that.”

Eh, you’d take it.  Snape wasn’t exactly sparing with his praise, especially when it came to Gryffindor students.

“It’s that bad, huh?”

“Worse than you could possibly imagine.”  His expression looked as if he had just tasted some especially sour milk and you had to bite back your amusement.

“Does that mean you miss having me as a student?”

He stared at you incredulously for a few moments.  “Absolutely not.  Your foolish pursuit of the Vaults gave me more headaches than I can possibly count.  On top of being as meddlesome as any moronic Gryffindor, you weren’t exactly the most gifted student either, as far as I can recall.”

It really seemed like absolutely nothing had changed between the two of you since you graduated.  It was almost starting to make you feel nostalgic.

“But I took Potions with you all the way through my seventh year!  Only your best students did that.”

“Need I remind you that you just barely did so, largely thanks to the help of Miss Haywood.”  Well, maybe he did have a point, but still …

“Then what about our Legilimency and Occlumency lessons?  I exceeded your expectations there.”

“Not an especially hard thing to do, given that the metaphorical bar of my expectations was not even an inch off of the floor.”

Not dissuaded in the slightest, you snapped your fingers as you pointed at him, “But I still exceeded them.”

Severus rolled his eyes and let out a heavy sigh, clearly not amused by your nonsense.

“Come on, just admit it, Snape.”  It still felt weird calling him that, but in a good way.  It was almost nice being able to be more casual with him, even if he was just as intimidating as ever.

“Still determined as always, I see,” he tilted his head to the side as he regarded you with an inquisitive look in his dark eyes, “But I must admit … that I am curious about something.”

He locked eyes with you and you could feel the tendrils of his Legilimency reaching out to pry into your mind.  Of course he was going to test.

Put on the spot, you somehow managed to thwart his attempt to enter your mind.  Luckily, you hadn’t let yourself get rusty after picking up Occlumency, it was a useful skill and you took your mental privacy quite seriously, thank you very much.  That and you did take Professor Snape’s words of advice to heart, even if he went about delivering them in the harshest ways possible.

Upon gleaning nothing from your mind, Severus leaned back in his chair and appraised you with a vaguely pleased expression.  It didn’t seem like he’d ever give you even a taste of the open approval you wanted from him.

“Good.  That ability will undoubtedly serve you well in what is to come,” he said before standing up.  He looked down at you over his hooked nose, hesitating for a moment before he drawled, “You represent the best of our house  by joining the Order, but that is as much as I care to admit to as far as you are concerned.”  

His delivery made it sound more like an insult than a compliment, as if he was incapable of saying anything nice.  It took you a few moments to process his words and you were touched, he only gave you backhanded compliments in the rare times where he’d praise you.  During your stupor, he ended up turning and began to head to the dining room as he had initially planned, clearly not wanting to linger after saying something kind toward you.

As soon as it clicked into place you stood up abruptly and reached out a hand in his direction, “Wait, prof—I mean, Snape.”

He turned back at you, lips pressed into a thin and impatient line as he waited for you to continue. 

“I just wanted to say … thank you.  For the Legilimency and Occlumency lessons, but also for the words of wisdom and help in my pursuit of the Cursed Vaults.  I didn’t appreciate your way of helping at the time, but now that I’ve left Hogwarts, I’ve gained some more perspective have come to realize just how much you helped me.”

Judging by the way he froze in place, you were under the distinct impression that you had actually taken him off guard for once.  You managed to catch the corners of his lips quirk downwards into a slight frown and his brows raise before he turned his back on you once more.

“Then let me give you one final piece of advice: count your blessings now, Copper.  You are fortunate in more ways than you could ever possibly come to understand,” a note of bitterness hung in his voice at that, before it melted away as he pressed on, “but that also means you cannot fathom the losses you are going to face during this war.  Savor what you have while you still can.”

The conversation was over with that, he quickly entered the dining room and closed the door with a resounding thud.  Leaving you alone to think about his unpleasant advice.

Chapter Text

For the past week, Diego had been making a point to sit with you in Defence Against the Dark Arts and History of Magic and shamelessly flirt with you every opportunity he got.  Honestly, you didn’t know what to make of it since while you fancied him, the very last thing you wanted to do was get your hopes up needlessly.

This was just how Diego was and today in class was no different, though thankfully there was an exam today so he wouldn’t have as much of an opportunity to fluster you as usual.

Still, you gave him a small smile when he sat down next to you.  “Hi, Diego.”

“Hello, gorgeous,” he flashed you that handsome smile of his, “How are you doing today?”

Every day he would greet you with some compliment like that and every day it left you a blushing mess.

Trying to hide how red your face must have been, you looked down at your desk and away from him, “I-I’m, um, doing fine, but how are you feeling about today’s exam?”

You winced as the words left your mouth, sounding entirely too high pitched and quiet.  You were hoping that he didn’t notice, but the increasingly smug tone that left his mouth with his next words seemed to indicate otherwise.

“Better now.  I always feel like I can dance through even Rakepick’s toughest exams with you at my side.”

“Oh,” you said as you felt your heart sink upon remembering that he likely didn’t mean it and was almost certainly just teasing you due to how flustered you got, “Well, I’m, um, glad to hear it …”

Unlike usual, however, there was a thoughtful lull in the conversation.  You could practically feel his eyes on you.

“Speaking of dancing though … perhaps you and I should meet up at the Three Broomsticks some Saturday evening?  A bit of Butterbeer and a spot of dancing would”

He was really taking this a bit too far, wasn’t he?  You had a hard time imagining someone as confident and charming as him taking any genuine interest in someone like you.  While you knew he was kind and surely meant no harm, he likely just didn’t understand how much you cared for him.  And how could he?  It wasn’t his fault that you were too shy to tell him or flirt back.

When you didn’t respond to his casual feeling request he pressed on, continuing with the same light-heartedness, “Ah, has the cat got your tongue?  I understand, but I—”

“—It’s not funny,” you said quietly, barely above a whisper.

“… What?”

You kept your vision fixed firmly on the table in front of you, not wanting to look at him, especially since you knew you were likely to tear up from embarrassment at any given moment.  “This thing you’re doing, it’s really not funny.”

“What … thing am I doing, exactly?”  He only sounded more confused, though you really didn’t want to have to spell it out for him.

“This flirting thing.  If you don’t mean it, it’s a seriously mean thing to get someone’s hopes up like this.”

Thankfully, Rakepick saved the day with her impeccable timing and cleared her throat to get the class’s attention, delaying what would undoubtedly be an excruciatingly awkward conversation.

Never had you been more thankful to take one of Rakepick’s exams, though you knew you probably weren’t going to do as well on this one due to how distracted you were.


Unfortunately though, you and Diego were housemates and were subsequently heading in the same direction once class got let out.  You were trying to catch up with Rowan and Penny, who had sat together that day, when you heard Diego call out your name.

Torn between speeding up and stopping, you ended up hesitating for a brief moment before turning around.  You couldn’t quite bring yourself to meet his eyes, so you focused on his scarf instead.

“What is it?”

“I’m sorry.”

That … hadn’t exactly been the response you were expecting and after a small pause you said, “Well, I’m glad to hear it, just don’t do it again in the future, okay?”

“No, no, no,” Diego said as he took a step closer to you, “Not for that.  I’m sorry for not being clearer with you, I honestly thought I was doing a good job of it, but I see now that I wasn’t going about it the right way with you …”

You managed to bring yourself to make eye contact with him then and you felt your face flush with warmth upon seeing just how sincere he looked.  It left you speechless and, once again, he seized the initiative to break the prolonged silence.

“I was hoping to surprise you with this later, but … desperate times call for desperate measures.”

Before you could ask what he meant, he cast what you understood to be some complicated conjuration spell only for a pink rose to appear in his open hand.  He offered the conjured rose to you with a warm smile.

“I’ve come to appreciate you more than you know and I would very much like us to be more than just friends, if you feel the same.  As such I must ask you, would the best dueller at Hogwarts consider going to the Three Broomsticks with the second best this particular Saturday?” 

You were overwhelmed for a few moments, as you had genuinely believed that he didn’t feel the same way.  When you finally found your ability to speak again, you gave him an enthusiastic nod and accepted the flower, “I’d love that very much, thank you.”

It was only then that you managed to notice in your peripheral vision some of the students who had stopped to gawk at what was going on between you and Diego.  

Feeling embarrassed that the two of you had managed to draw a crowd, he ended up seizing the initiative and led you back to the Hufflepuff common room hand in hand.

Chapter Text

Grinning to yourself, you went to get some punch for both you and Barnaby while your date was taking a moment to chat with Andre.

The night really couldn’t be any better.  You were on an actual, real date with your long-time crush and it was going smashingly.  Plus, not once in your life had you ever felt as attractive as you did that night.  Andre had really outdone himself in helping you prepare an outfit for the ball.

You were just about to grab a cup to pour some punch into for yourself when you felt a gentle tap on your shoulder.  A simple glance backwards revealed it to be none other than your fellow Hufflepuff, Diego, grinning broadly at you.

“My, I must say that you look absolutely radiant and positively out of this world this fine evening … even more so than usual, of course.”

You couldn’t help but roll your eyes at what you presumed to be his typical empty flirtations.  You were used to them by this point, but you found yourself wanting to take care to avoid sending the wrong message.  Just in case.

“Thanks.  You look quite … nice yourself.”  

Diego’s smile faltered a bit at the lukewarm compliment, most likely due to the blandness of it when compared to his own.  Normally you would at least play a long a bit more than that, he was fun to banter with, after all.  But that’s all you thought it had always been between the two of you, ever since your first year of being in classes together.

However, he recovered promptly and the typical dazzling smile he wore returned to his face.  “I didn’t know you also were dateless to this event.  If I had, I, Diego Caplan, would have asked you to accompany me as my date.  But I can rectify that glaring oversight by asking you to join me for the next dance?”

He offered you his hand at that, which you could only stare at as you felt your palms start to sweat.  Perhaps he actually viewed your relationship as something entirely different than you and it made you feel indescribably guilty.

“Um, I’m sorry, but I’m actually here with—”

“—There you are!”  Barnaby walked up to the two of you before draping an arm around you shoulders, “Oh, hey, Diego.  How are you enjoying the ball?”

He made it look as casual as he possibly could, but you thought you heard an undertone of strain in his voice.

Your friend’s eyes widened as he looked between the pair of you, smile turning fragile.  “Oh, hey, Lee.  I was having a fine time.  Well,” he managed to force a fake smile, “it seems you bested me where it mattered the most, Lee.  I hope the two of you have a fantastic evening evening together …”

There seemed to be something more he wanted to say, but he gave you a small half-hearted bow before strolling off.  And your heart positively sunk in your chest as you watched him go.  Diego was a dear friend of yours and you hated hurting him.  Thankfully, your date helped snap you out of it by giving your shoulder a gentle squeeze and a reassuring smile.

He was about to say something when a familiar drawl cut in, the both of you turned behind you to see the Potions master leering over the pair of you.  “Lee, remove your hand this instant.  Such displays are strictly forbidden at this event.”

Immediately, his arm was off and away from you, he certainly didn’t need to be told twice.  Satisfied, the head of Slytherin house turned to leave, you had to take the opportunity to express your gratitude.

“But thanks for the advice earlier, sir, it was really helpful.”

“Don’t mention that ever again, I’d rather forget about it,” he sneered at you over his shoulder before striding back to his isolated corner to resume watching the students like a hawk.

An awkward beat of silence passed over the two of you, the first such of the entire evening.  Thankfully, it was Barnaby who finally decided to break it, brows scrunched together as he frowned.  “I’m sorry.”

“What are you sorry for?  I should be thanking you for showing up when you did, that could have been a lot more awkward than it was …”

He shifted a bit on his feet, emerald green eyes focusing on his shoes rather than on you.  “I didn’t know that when I came over though.  You two always spend so much time together due to being in the same house.  He’s a good dancer and an even stronger dueller … plus, he knows so many more words than I do too!  I don’t even get half of what he says most of the time.”

While you normally would have interrupted him and provided immediate reassurance, you were shocked into silence from his admission.  You had been entirely oblivious to it and that made you feel even guiltier.

“ … You were jealous?”  Saying it aloud caused some heat to rush to your cheeks, it was touching to know that he cared about you enough to feel this way.

Your only answer was a small nod before he dared peeking up at you again, his eyes remarkably puppy-like.  It felt as if your heart squeezed from how cute he was, though you noticed the music switch to something more upbeat.  Finally!

Sparing a glance over at Professor Snape, you were relieved to see that he wasn’t looking your way and seized the chance to grab Barnaby by the hand.  “Let’s go dance for a bit, okay?  I want to have some fun with my date since there’s no one else I’d rather be here with.”

He seemed to perk right back up at that and eagerly followed you as you led him out to the dance floor.  “You mean it?”

“More than anything, Barnaby.”

You’d have to make things up with Diego later, since you valued his friendship dearly.  For right now, though, you just wanted to make sure that Barnaby had the best Celestial Ball experience possible by dancing the night away together.

Chapter Text

Rowan adjusted their glasses as they looked over at where you were sitting with Chiara a few tables away in the library.  Apparently, you said something quite funny, to the point where the girl had to cover her hand in order to stifle her giggling.

“They’ve become good friends lately, haven’t they?”  They whispered over to Penny, who was trying to look up some decoration advice to help with the preparations for the ball.

Penny looked over, smile faltering ever so slightly with the knowledge of what Chiara is.  “They have.  Chiara always seemed so … lonely, so it’s nice that she finally has a friend.”

As much as the Hufflepuff was wary of her due to her nature, she knew that nobody deserved to be alone.  Still, she just was scared that your close friendship with a werewolf would come back to bite you.  Quite literally.

“Oh, but what do you think of this type of decor scheme, Rowan?”  She held out the book to her friend, honestly just wanting to change the topic.

Neither of them saw how the two of you held hands over the table and shared an affectionate smile.


Andre met up with Tulip and Tonks at Galdrags after the pair of you and Bill helped bolster Rowan’s confidence.  Thinking that the most interesting part of his day was over, he was now focused on preparing everyone for the Celestial Ball, including himself.  He wanted to do something special for you though, since he knew you were putting Rowan and Ben above your own needs for the ball.  Sifting through some dress robes, his focus was disrupted by Tulip.

“Ooh, look at that!”  Tulip pointed out the store’s window to you and Chiara.

The pair of you were holding hands, swinging them slightly as you two strolled through Hogsmeade while amiably chatting.  

“Aw, that’s cute!  I’m glad Chiara has a friend,” Tonks replied.

Tulip scrunched up her mouth to one side as she watched the two of you stroll out of view. “I mean, they seem like something more than just friends to me?”

Andre looked up from the dress robes he was investigating then to spare a quick glance out the window before the two of you totally vanished from sight.  “I mean, I don’t doubt that they may fancy each other, but I’d know if they were dating.”

Tulip’s dark eyes lit up with mischief.  “Wanna bet on it?”

“Sure, since you’re going to lose.”  Andre put the robes back before flashing Tulip his own grin.  “I have a good sense for romance and fashion.”

She stretched out her hand to him, “I’ll let you destroy that exercise leotard and the matching leg warmers you hate if you win, but if I win … I want one of your Pride of Portree jerseys.”

He looked at her hand and thought it over, he did treasure his jerseys, but he was pretty much guaranteed to come out on top of this.  And so he took her hand and gave it a small shake, “I’ll die a happy man if I can burn that atrocity.”

“A shame you won’t get to.”

Before he could fire off a witty retort, there was a loud crash as Tonks managed to trip over her own two feet and take down two of the mannequin displays in the window.


“What do you mean you already have a date?!”  Rowan’s glasses slipped down 

Ben held his hands out a bit awkwardly in front of him, surprise etched all across his face.  “We really thought you were one of us …”

“Um, I’ve actually had a girlfriend now for a while?  I thought it was, well, obvious and that you guys already knew,” you held your hands out in front of you, “But I mean, I am still awkward and not the best with social stuff, so it’s not like I’m not one of you.  I just have someone to be awkward together with.”

Rowan was the first to speak up again, pushing up their glasses to try and regain some sense of decorum, “Who is it?  Surely, it’s someone we know.”

“You do know her,” you said as you drew your hands behind your back, a playful smile spreading across your face, “but you can wait till the ball to see who it is.  It’ll be a fun surprise since you don’t know yet!”

Before either of them could get a word off edgewise, you ran off giggling.  Rowan could only presume that you were going to report this to whoever you were dating.

Ben turned to them, brows knit up in obvious distress, “How are we going to help them now?  If they already have a date, that doesn’t exactly leave much for us to do in return for them.”

“I guess we can ask Andre to see if he needs any help?”


News had spread like wildfire among your friends, there had been much speculation as to who it was.  There was talk of anyone ranging from your arch rival Merula to your friend Liz, but only Tulip seemed to hold fast to the idea that Chiara was your girlfriend.

Finally, the time of the ball had arrived, and everyone was now looking forward to the reveal.  You ended up arriving fashionably late to the Great Hall, looking stunning in the outfit Andre had prepared for you, before making a beeline to your date.

Andre stared aghast as you gave Chiara a short hug, both of your faces flushed a light shade of pink.  Tulip casually placed an elbow on his shoulder as they watched the two of you, “Sure looks like that’s the mysterious girlfriend Rowan told us all about …”

They were out of earshot, so they couldn’t hear what was going on between the two of you.


“You look gorgeous, Chi!”  You beamed at her, “I’ve got to be the luckiest person here to have you as my date.”

She really did look stunning in her baby blue gown with silvery embroidery throughout, including a depiction of the moon’s phases around its waist.  In your eyes, she was practically glowing in her radiance.  You hadn’t thought it was possible for her to look prettier, yet she managed to outdo herself.

Your girlfriend tucked some of her pale hair behind an ear, pale blue eyes dropping to the ground as a deeper blush spread across her face.  “I’d say I’m the luckier of us two.  You could’ve chosen practically anyone and yet … you still chose me.”

“Well, of course I did,” you reached out and took one of her hands, “You may have a bit of a, um, fuzzy problem, but you know I don’t care about that.  I always have the most fun when I’m together with you.”

She gave your hand a squeeze and the two of you shared a smile before she took a step backward, gently pulling you along with her.  “Then let’s get to having as much fun as we can tonight.  I want to make it as special as possible for you.”

“And I for you.  Let’s go!”

And so, the two of you spent the evening dressed to the nines and dancing as best as you could, laughing well and often.  Neither of you really noticed the smiles and stares from your friends due to just how caught up you were in each other.


Tulip shot Andre a haughty grin as they watched the two of you start dancing, “Guess that means I get a Pride of Portree Quidditch jersey, hm?”

“I guess so.”  He brought one hand up to his chin thoughtfully as he looked over in Tulip’s direction, a sheepish smile on his face.  “I can’t say I’m too mad about it though, they do make a cute couple.”

“That they do.”

Chapter Text

Andre was, without a doubt, one of the most considerate and talented people you had ever met in your life.  You were always a bit shier around him than your other friends as such, though it wasn’t until you realized you had a crush on him that even being in the same approximate area as him became a challenge all on its own.

Partially just due to the sheer degree of which you fancied him, but it was also because he was just … so very out of your league.  And, unbeknownst to you, Andre was in a similar boat, since while he was normally quite outgoing he had gotten to the point where he fancied you so much that it was almost intimidating.

And your recent shyness was enough to make him lose some of his signature confidence, worried that he had done something to cause you to distance yourself from him once more.

After watching the two of you awkwardly dance around each other, Tonks and Penny decided to take matters into their own hands.

You and Rowan were relaxing in a couple of armchairs in the common room to do some reading on a Saturday morning when Penny and Tonks stood on either side of your particular chair.  The mischievous smile on the metamorphmagus’s face did not bring you any comfort.

“Wotcher, pal!  Let’s go wish Andre good luck before the big Ravenclaw vs. Slytherin Quidditch game today!” Tonks announced, hair changing color to blue, green, and then back to its typical pink as she spoke.

“Oh, um, I’d like to, but … you know … there’s that.”  You dropped your eyes back down to the book’s pages in front of you, already feeling your face heat up from even saying that much.

Penny very gently took the book out of your hands before flashing you her most confident smile.  “The two of you are good friends, so I’m sure wishing him luck before the game would make his day a lot better.  We’ll go with you!”

You looked between her and Tonks for a moment before turning your gaze downwards to your lap, twiddling your thumbs a bit awkwardly, If you hadn’t, you would’ve been able to notice her and Tonks wink at each other.

“I’m not sure …  What if I make a fool of myself or something?”

“You should go.  I have too much studying to do today otherwise I’d join you guys, but I think going to the Quidditch game would be fun for you,” Rowan said.

“Thanks, Rowan!” Tonks said as she shot a thumbs up at Rowan before turning her gaze back toward you, “Anyways, you’re not going to make a fool of yourself.  Penny and I will cover for you if anything goes wrong, too.”

“Exactly, you can always count on us.”

Well, they did all have a point.  And seeing Andre would be nice, you had only really been admiring him from afar as of late and you missed talking with him.

“Okay,” you said, trailing off for a moment before continuing, “I guess it couldn’t hurt.”

And with that, Tonks and Penny were escorting you to the Quidditch pitch.  The three of you stopped outside of the locker rooms Ravenclaw was using to prepare for the match.

Sonorus,” Tonks cast with her wand pressed to her neck before shouting in her amplified voice, “OI, ANDRE!”

And that was when you knew you had made a grave mistake.

You didn’t even see when Andre left the changing rooms, as you had your face buried in your hands, already starting to feel too embarrassed to function.

“If it isn’t three of my favorite Hufflepuffs.  Is there something you all need, given the ruckus?”

Taking a peek at him from in-between your fingers, you felt your face prickle with warmth.  He looked so handsome in his Quidditch uniform and smiling as broadly as he was, even more so than he usually did (which was saying something!).  

Tonks quickly cast the quieting charm on herself before saying, “Yeah, actually!  Our good friend here,” she punctuated it by giving you a strong pat on the back, “wanted to wish you luck in the Quidditch match today.”

Being put on the spot like that ended up making you freeze, but Penny quickly covered for you.  “That’s right, we know that today’s an important match for Ravenclaw, so we wanted to tag along and wish you luck as well.”

Taking a deep breath, you managed to force your hands down and away from your face.  If Penny could do it so effortlessly, then perhaps you could at least get something out.

“Yes, um, good luck, Andre,” it came out in a slightly higher pitch than you would have liked, but it was better than nothing.

And it made the star of Ravenclaw’s Quidditch team smile at you, his dark eyes crinkling in that cute way of his, “Thanks, Curse-Breaker.  I feel like I can take on any cunning tactics the Slytherins throw at me now.”

He was too perfect, it wasn’t even fair!

You were quick to avert your eyes back down to your feet, not wanting to make any further eye contact since your face was probably as red as a tomato judging by how hot you felt.

“There’s also another reason we’re here,” Penny said.

“Yup!  We’ve watched you two avoid each other long enough, since it’s frustrating to watch.  After all, it’s super obvious that the two of you like each other!”

You froze in place, throat closing up as an awkward silence fell over the four of you.  Great!  Now you were never going to be able to look him in the eyes ever again with that out in the open.

“Wait … you’re not pulling my leg, are you?”

“Nope!  Almost wish we were, given how long the two of you have acted all shy like this,” Tonks responded.

“We just want to see our two friends happy and not having all this out in the open seems to have been hurting you both,” Penny added, doing her best to smooth Tonks’ directness over.

“We’ll leave the two of you alone now, best of luck!”

With those words from Tonks, your two fellow Hufflepuffs and before you could protest, you found yourself alone with your longtime crush.

You still weren’t able to look up at him, as you were fully expecting him to reject you.

Instead, he approached you and gently placed a hand on your shoulder before leaning down to try and make eye contact with you.  “They’re right about one thing, you know.  I do fancy you.”

“Y-You do?”

“I really do.  You’re always so kind and diligent, even after everything you’re going through with the Vaults,” his smile stretched into a grin, “Plus, you’re always, it’s very distinctly you.”

A light-hearted laugh escaped you at that and all the tension you had felt previously seemed to melt away in an instant.  “I fancy you too, Andre.  You’re so skilled and fashionable, but most importantly you’ve always been there for me when I’ve needed you.  It’d be hard not to fancy you, really …”

It still felt embarrassing to say it all aloud like that, but in the best way possible.  Once your giddiness from his confession would wear off, you doubted you’d be able to be so direct again.  He took a step back, though he kept his hand on your shoulder.

“Well, with that settled …  How about we go on a date together to Hogsmeade and get some tea to celebrate after the match?”

“That sounds perfect.”

“I’ll meet you in front of the Great Hall after I get changed then.”

The two of you shared a smile and you managed to muster up what little remained of your courage to take a step forward and press a chaste kiss to his cheek, “F-For good luck!  I’ll be cheering as loud as I can for you.”

Before you turned away to run off, you saw a radiant grin break out across his face along with a faint blush.

Ravenclaw beat Slytherin by a large margin that day, with Andre exceeding his usual performance knowing that his future date was cheering him on in the crowd.

Chapter Text

Someone had been leaving helpful gifts on your desk in Defence Against the Dark Arts Before class, some of which were quite banned, for the past two weeks.  Nobody fessed up to it, but you had a strong idea as to who it was and had already pressed him about it multiple times in the past.  Only for him to deny it firmly each time.

Jae Kim was your top suspect due to his dealing with contraband items; however, you weren’t able to understand why he was doing something like this for you.  

He always just seemed so aloof when it came to interacting with you, though he was always strangely more than willing to help you out whenever it came to your pursuit in the Cursed Vaults.  Even when it meant meeting with you all in the library, one of his most despised places in Hogwarts.

It just didn’t make sense and you didn’t want to get your hopes up in case you were interpreting his helpfulness as something more than it really was …

If you could catch him in the act, perhaps you could also get him to fess up as to what exactly his motivations were to satiate your curiosity.

Practically sprinting up to the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom from Potions without getting caught this time, you managed to arrive at the classroom well before usual.

Peering in, you noticed that the subject of your interest was already there and that he’d just pulled something out of his robe’s pocket to place on the desk.  Not wanting to grant him the ability to pretend that it was already on your desk when you entered, you were quick to rush in.

“So you are the one who’s been responsible for the gifts.”

Jae jumped when he heard your voice and whipped around toward you, eyes wide and a blush quickly breaking over his face from being caught in the act he had so vehemently denied.

“Uh, it was already here when I showed up?  I was just checking it out since I was curious,” he said with a shrug, obviously trying his best to sell his improv.

“I saw you remove it from your pocket, Jae.”

Leaning back against the table you normally sat at, the way he pursed his lips and looked down told you that he obviously didn’t have a contingency plan for this situation.  You took the opportunity to walk over to him, stopping just shy of him.

After a couple moments of thinking, he moved a hand up to loosen his already lax tie further before he shot you a lazy smile, some mischief twinkling in his dark eyes, “So, you were watching me?  That’s kinda creepy, y’know.”

Well, it seemed like he was back to normal.  Deflecting and trying to derail the conversation to you.

You felt your own face heat up at that accusation, but you didn’t break eye contact with him.  “Well, it’s not like you gave me any other choice.  Considering how you’ve been lying to me about it.”

“Well, I personally prefer the term ‘twisting the truth,’ if I’m being honest.  Has a less negative connotation.”

Jae,” you said as you crossed your arms over your chest, doing your best to give him a stern expression.

“What?”

“If you want to be honest, then maybe you should tell me why you’ve been doing this and ‘twisting the truth’ about it.”

“I’d rather not?”  He shifted his hand up to awkwardly scratch at his neck, tilting his face downward to avoid making eye contact with you.

“And why not?  There’s nothing to be ashamed of about helping me, I’d just like to know why you’re doing it,” you paused as you felt your heart ache a bit from what you were about to say, “since you always seem like you don’t like me much.”

That seemed to startle him since his face snapped back up to look at yours, his eyes wide once again, “Woah, woah, woah.  Wait a second.  You really think that I don’t like you?”

His response confused you and in spite of your best attempt, you could feel some glimmer of hope start welling up inside of you that perhaps there was more to his attempts at helping.  “I mean, that’s what it seems like?  You’re always pretty aloof and tend to dodge my attempts to try and get to know you better, no matter how hard I try.”

Jae winced and slapped his forehead with the base of his palm.  “Ugh, that’s the last time I take advice from Diego.”

You only stared at him, your confusion must have been quite visible since he pressed on.

“Okay, so … you wanted me to be honest, well, here’s the thing then,” he said as his hand moved down to cover his eyes as the next words tumbled out, “I may or may not like you a lot.  I didn’t really know what to do about it, so I asked Diego for advice since he’s better at this type of thing.  And he advised me to keep some distance and be mysterious since it’d be attractive, but I still wanted to help you … so, yeah.  That’s it.”

It was hard to listen to anything he said after he confessed he was at least interested in you in the same way that you were him.  Well, potentially at least.  

“But have you figured out if you like me?”

He peered at you through his fingers and seemed to feel comfortable enough to lower his hand, though he still looked more flustered than you had ever seen him before.

The door to the classroom burst open at that, a miffed looking Merula strolled in with Diego trailing behind her and the rest of your classmates slowly following suit.

When your rival spotted you and Jae talking together, she rolled her eyes in a dramatic fashion before plopping down in her nearby seat.  “Ugh, Diego kept us out of the classroom so you two idiots could talk.  Unbelievable …”

Pointedly ignoring her, you kept your eyes focused on Jae as you anxiously waited for him to respond.  His face only seemed to flush a brighter shade of red under your close attention and his eyes could only maintain contact with your own for a few moments at a time.

Finally, you were seeing who he really was, rather than the cool act he always tried to put up.

“Uh, yeah, I have and … I do.  I just wasn’t sure how to go about asking you on a date, since while I’m good with coming up ways to sell contraband, coming up with ways to ask someone as cool as you out is way harder.  Especially since I haven’t been sure if you liked me back …”

“Well, lucky for you, I actually like you too.  When you’re not being all enigmatic at least,” you said as you gave him a bright smile, “How about we go to Hogsmeade this Saturday for lunch and some Butterbeer?”

He gave you a broad grin in return, elation matching your own, “Well, now you just made it seem way too easy, but yeah.  That sounds like a date to me.”

“Alright, everyone to your seats!  Class is about to begin,” Rakepick announced as she strode to stand beside her desk, pointedly looking at you and Jae since you were the last two students standing.

“Mind if I sit with you today?”

“Be my guest.”

And the two of you spent class exchanging notes to plan out what all you wanted to do at Hogsmeade, which was mainly you trying to dissuade him from meeting with any of his fellow smuggler contacts in the small village.

Chapter Text

“Ben, there’s nothing to worry about, okay?  We’ll get through this war together,” you said as you placed a comforting hand on your husband of four years’ knee.  Tonight was your first meeting with the Order of the Phoenix and he was starting to get cold feet over it.

Ben looked down, though it didn’t stop you from seeing the familiar deep frown and the way his eyebrows knit upwards.  “But how can you say that?!  There are so many things that could go wrong …  I don’t think I could even name them all if I wanted to.”

You were about to try and provide him with some general words of comfort when he cut you off, his hand coming to gently rest over yours.

“I just can’t,” he swallowed thickly before his fearful brown eyes came to meet your own, “I can’t lose you.”

You placed your free hand over his and gave him the best smile you could muster, though you knew it was quite weak.  “You won’t.  We got through the Vaults together and this won’t be any different.  It’s the right thing to do and we’ll be in danger either way, so we might as well fight back …”

Ben knew you had a point, but of his arsenal of fears, there was one thing he feared above all else: losing you.


Up until 18 June, 1996, everything was going well enough, though his greatest anxiety still haunted him with every passing day.  The only meager comfort he had was that the senior members of the Order were kind enough to assign the pair of you to more minimal tasks, aiming to get some experience under your belts.  Most of your work considered of low-risk patrols to ensure Harry’s security, it was more boring than anything else. 

And that was exactly how he liked it.  Keeping you out of direct harm’s way for as long as humanly possible was something that your husband was a very big fan of.

However, when the pair of you were with the other active members when what would later be known as the Department of Mysteries broke out.  Your pair of wands were needed and you were just supposed to provide support to the more senior members: Black, Tonks, Lupin, Shacklebolt, and Moody.  He had been assigned to aid Shacklebolt while you were partnered with Tonks.

It’ll be fine.  It’ll be fine.  It’ll be—

The mantra Ben had been hopelessly in his head was cut off abruptly as the seven of you burst through the door and the battle of the Death Chamber began.

It was pure, utter chaos.

Jets of white, red, blue, and—most terrifyingly of all—green light were flying every which way.

The only thing he was able to focus on was covering Shacklebolt’s back and deflecting any spells aimed at himself.  It was hard enough to keep track of his fellow Order member, let alone you or Harry.

The two of them ended up getting locked in a duel with two masked Death Eaters, well, it was more Kingsley than him—but he was helping.  He was able to deflect a good many from the weaker of the two, enabling Kingsley to focus more of his attention on the stronger one.

However, said Death Eater managed to notice the way in which Ben was focusing on his compatriot and took advantage of it to fire off a stream of red hot flames before effortlessly firing off a series of hexes at Kingsley.  It caught him by surprise, but he was able to instinctively pull away from his partner enough so that the flames only grazed his wand arm.  

Unfortunately, it was enough contact to set his shirt aflame.  He was able to practically cast the Aguamenti Spell in his sleep, so he was thankfully able to cast it on himself in his panicked state.  The burn was excruciating and would make it more difficult to perform the necessary wand movements, but he’d live.

There wasn’t any time to think on it before he resumed providing support for Kingsley, who had been kind enough to cover for him while he put out the flames.

Within a few more moments, the now unmasked Rodolphus went down with a well placed curse from Kingsley and they were both able to team up against the stronger of the two.

Kingsley managed to unmask the Death Eater in what had only been a near miss, revealing him to be Rookwood, when Ben was momentarily distracted by Harry and Neville on the ground.  Poor Longbottom seemed to have gotten hit by a dancing feet spell.

But where were you?

The moment’s hesitation of casting Finite Incantem on the boy was all it took for Rookwood to take another shot at him.  He was able to deflect the curse in time, redoubling his onslaught on the Death Eater alongside Kingsley as they fought him back.  Guilt over his failure to act due to being distracted by you flooded through him.  He couldn’t slip up like that again, he just hoped Neville wouldn’t get maimed or worse as a consequence.

However, very little time passed until he saw something out of the corner of his eye that made his blood run cold.

There was a flash of green light that hit the ground nearby and then—

Oh, no.

It was the sight of both you and Tonks tumbling lifelessly down the rows of stone benches that lined the chamber before landing with a pair of sickening thuds on the ground.  He barely even registered how Bellatrix ran down the stairs with an almost gleeful skip and a psychotic smile on her face.

Copper!” Kingsley called out, but he barely heard it.

Everything that happened after that was a blur.  The next thing he knew his leg felt as if it was exploding with pain and he was trying to revive you while Moody was doing the same for your mutual friend—

And then, they were all in the hospital wing of Hogwarts, Madam Pomfrey stabilized the both of you before you were transferred to St. Mungo’s in order to make a full recovery.  She also tended to the burns on his arm and his fractured femur, but he was the last thing on his mind.

He didn’t let go of your hand all the while.


It wasn’t until you were conscious once again that the passage of time seemed to pass at its normal rate.  He had barely slept or ate over the two days in which you were unconscious.  Remus was kind enough to bring food up to the hospital room all the while, ensuring that he at least ate something.

All the while, his fears were relentlessly gnawing at him.

He had almost lost you.  You had almost died.  If Bellatrix had cast the Killing Curse on you …

To say it was torture to wait for you to wake up was the understatement of the century.

When he saw you start to stir, he was quick to summon a nurse to check in on you and make sure you were properly attended to you.  As soon as that had been done though, he ended up crying from relief.  All of the stress and agony over the past couple of days flooding out of him.

It wasn’t until the next day that you were strong enough to hold a conversation with him, your strength quickly returning thanks to the ministrations and magic of the nurses.

“You know, I wager you probably look a lot worse for wear than I do, love,” you said, voice hoarse from a lack of use.

For the first time since the battle, a genuine smile flickered across his face, “Probably.  Though I’d say that’s an unfair comparison, considering that you always look stunning.” 

You playfully smacked his hand at that, though he noticed the subtle blush that still crept across your cheeks, even after all these years.  “Oh, hush, you.  Flattery’s not going to get out of going home and changing into some fresh clothing and taking a shower.”

“I know I’m probably in a sorry state, but I’ll head home later—”

“No, right now.  The nurses told me you haven’t left the hospital for the past two days.  You need to take care of yourself too, you know …”

“But—”

“I’m not going anywhere, Ben.  Quite clearly,” you gave him a small smile.

His only faltered as the mention of your state of being resurfaced.  “Fine, but … only if you promise to not scare me like that again.”

He knew it was irrational, that neither of you had any control over what happened to you in battle.  But that didn’t mean it wouldn’t at least bring him a smidgen of comfort.

You placed your left hand over his own, golden wedding bands reflecting the dim overhead lighting.  “I won’t.”


And to be fair, you didn’t.

Over the next year, you both got into more conflicts and battles from that point forward, there were no further close calls.  A fact that he was most grateful for, considering he still had nightmares of watching your unconscious body fall to the ground, him being helpless to do anything about it.

He didn’t need another scare, he had had enough of those to last him a lifetime.

The relative good luck you had been having was enough to lull him into a fragile false sense of comfort.  The war was only getting darker and deadlier with each passing day, part of him knew that something was going to happen again.  It was inevitable.  

Being stationed at Hogwarts on the night of 30 June, 1997 felt like any other Order mission of recent memory.  It wasn’t until the fight actually broke out that his gut began to churn with dread.  That alone wasn’t unusual, but it felt more urgent that night.

You and Ben had been busy duelling two Death Eaters, one of whom was just hurtling out the most violent curses imaginable without a care in the world.  The two of you had locked wands with them in order to prevent the nearby kids from suffering the brunt of these viciously unstable Death Eaters.  As you were fighting, the lesser of the two yelled out something to his partner before running off.  His absence didn’t make the duel any easier, however, the one Death Eater was a threat all on his own.

Moments later, the brilliant green light of the Dark Mark illuminated the hallway.  It made what was to follow all the more surreal.

The Death Eater was now fighting with renewed vigor, the green bolts of light flying from his wand perfectly perfectly matching the new lighting.  Ben watched you cast a spell to shove Neville Longbottom down onto the floor, just in the nick of time to avoid getting hit.

Unfortunately, you weren’t so lucky as he watched another rapid fire killing curse hit your shoulder.

In a moment, you were standing there beside him with your wand in hand and the next …

Remus stepped in, intervening when a Killing Curse was lobbed Ben’s way.  Another body hit the floor shortly thereafter, but he didn’t care who it was.  His mind didn’t even process it, truly.

No.  No.  No.  No.  No.

Was the only word running through his mind as he sunk to his knees at your side, wand clattering helplessly to the ground.  He cradled your limp body in his arms, his vision blurring when he saw the eyes he loved so dearly staring unseeingly up at the ceiling.

This was wrong.  So very wrong.  You were always full of so much more life than him, smiling and laughing.  To see someone as vibrant and courageous as you like this was unspeakably horrific.

Ben didn’t even realize at first that the terrible wailing noise echoing throughout the hall was coming from him.  It didn’t feel like it was his voice or throat.  None of this felt real.

It couldn’t be.  It couldn’t be.

Remus and Tonks must have managed to drag the two of you away and out of the heart of the battle, since he was still alive when the Death Eaters fled.  Though he wished he was more than anything else.

He only knew the battle had come to an end when Tonks and Remus returned, the only other indication of time passing was that his crying had devolved into broken, tearless sobs.  

The two of them had to quite literally pry him off of you and drag start dragging him away, his feet dragging on the cold stone as he finally stopped resisting.  Their words sounded far away away and hollow, Ben was unable to understand any of it as they dragged him to the hospital wing. 

The last sight he remembered of you from that terrible eve was of your outstretched left hand, wedding ring reflecting the harsh green light pouring in through the windows from the Dark Mark.

From that night onwards, the only two people who had always seen the best in him and believed in him, even when he least deserved it, were both gone.

Yet by some cruel twist of fate, he wasn’t.  It would have been a far kinder fate than to live with the unbearable grief that would haunt him for the rest of his short life.

Chapter Text

Charlie had come to dread returning home during his breaks from work.  Every single time he did, his mother would invite you over.  It seemed as if you had truly become an honorary Weasley in your own right.

The Dragonologist was always happy to see you, of course, you were one of his dearest friends from his Hogwarts years.  That wasn’t the issue at all.  No, the reason it hurt was because his mother was trying to play matchmaker in the hopes that if she got you two together.  

She knew how he felt and seemed to be under the impression that there was something more there, when nothing was.  Even when he tried to explain things to her, she never seemed to get it and instead accused him of being too modest.  Whatever that meant.

He had realized his feelings for you too late, it wasn’t until after he had left to work in Romania and went without your company for a time that it dawned upon him.  Your letters were the ones he anticipated more than even those from most of his siblings, something that was unthinkable to him.

They had always been there, he just hadn’t understood what they were.  It wasn’t like he had ever felt that way about someone before, nor did he believe he was likely to feel that way about anyone else again.

Worst of all?  He knew you didn’t return them, the pair of you had been friends for so long.  There was no point in confessing them to you, that’d just be selfish of him and potentially ruinous to your friendship.

With those heavy thoughts weighing upon his mind as the strong autumnal wind tousled his long hair, he entered the Burrow and did his best to put on a brave smile.  Just hoping he’d have some time together with his family before his painful feelings would resurface.

His mother came running in from the kitchen, arms already wide open, when she heard the door open and immediately pulled her second eldest child into a tight hug.  “Ah, there’s my darling son!”

He was quick to return it with just as much enthusiasm, burying his face against his mother’s hair.  Just glad to finally be home after being apart for so long.  He only wished that his siblings were home, but it was the school year and they were all away at Hogwarts.

“We’ll have to go visit Hogwarts tomorrow, so you can visit with your siblings,” she said, knowing her child all too well, before her warm brown eyes narrowed, “But we’ll have to cut your hair back to a proper length before that.  Look how long it’s gotten!”

“Mum, come on …  I’m not a child any more.”

She placed her hands on her hips, “But you work with dragons, Charlie.  Dragons!  What if that long hair of yours

“I’d just put it out?” he said, eyes squinting in confusion while he tilted his head slightly to the side.  “It’s not like it’s happened before, I’m usually more worried about getting my face burned by one of the fussier ladies more than anything else.”

“Charlie, my boy!”  His father interjected as he descended the stairs with long strides, quickly bringing his son in for a hug and whispering, “Not that it counts for anything, but I think it suits you just fine.”

When Arthur pat his shoulder after pulling away, he gave his son a quick wink and they shared a pair of knowing smiles.

“What was that?”

“Nothing, dear.”

Molly was about to press further when there was a knocking on the door.  The sound was enough to set his heart rate skyrocketing, it seemed like he wasn’t going to have much time at all with his family then.  Great.

His mother was the one to open the door, a broad smile on her face.  “Hello, dear, oh—  Who’s this?”

“I hope it was okay, but I brought along someone special to me that I wanted to introduce to you, since you’re kind of like my second parents … and it’s been a while since Charlie’s seen him.”

His accelerated pulse felt like it came to an abrupt halt when he heard you say the word ‘special.’  He knew you’d eventually find someone, but it was only your second year out of Hogwarts …  But he couldn’t help but wonder who it was, if he knew them.

“Of course it is, well, please come in then!”

When his mother stepped aside and the pair of you walked in, he felt his heart sink within his chest.  It was Talbott.  You had been friends with the Animagus for almost as long as you had been friends with Charlie, and yet … the two of you were now together.  Quite clearly, judging by the way he was holding your hand.

Perhaps he would have had a chance, after all.  Perhaps that could have been him at your side, rather than your mutual friend.

“This is Talbott Winger, he was in the same year as both Charlie and I and we’ve been dating for the past couple of months.”

His mother shot him a concerned expression, guilt wrought within her eyes, and he could only give her a fake smile to assure her that he was okay.  Charlie was your friend first and foremost after all, if you were happy, then so was he … or so he lied to himself.

Taking a step forward, he draped an arm around both of your necks to bring you into a group hug.  “Well, I’m so happy for you two!  Congrats!  But it’s seriously good to see you again, Winger, it’s been too long.”

Your boyfriend only managed to pat the Weasley on the back awkwardly, stiff as a board from the unanticipated contact.  “Yes, well, I suppose I do tend to keep more to myself than joining the rest of your flock …”

Charlie released the both of you then, though his arm hovered around you for a moment more, unable to really help himself.  He stood to the side and let his parents introduce themselves to Talbott, his mother being a bit colder than usual and the other man looking like he was feeling more than a little out of place.

However, that wasn’t what caught his attention.  The way you were looking between his mother and Talbott was.  Your eyes softened with such warm affection when they fell on your partner, smile only growing into an infectious grin.  Never had you ever looked more stunning to him.

A cold, painful sensation swirled in his gut and he found himself wishing, for the first time that he could truly recall, that he was someone else.  Specifically, that he was the man who you looked at in that way.

However, he wasn’t able to dwell on such odd feelings then, no.  Once the introductions were over, the five of you moved to the living room where you sat down to get caught up.

Talking about his work helped bring his mood up a bit, but it always sunk back down whenever his eyes would drop down to see the way your fingers were intertwined with Talbott’s.  

Each time he spared a glance at them, he found that there was nothing he wanted more than to return back to Romania right then without even seeing the rest of his family.  He needed his work to help clear his mind and shift his mind to something else, something less excruciating.

Dragons made everything better, after all, since they were easy to understand and predictable.  And, best of all, he wouldn’t have to see the two of you together like this thanks to the distance.

Chapter Text

Both fortunately and unfortunately, Ben Copper’s journey on the Hogwarts Express was entirely uneventful, he did not encounter a witch who harassed him for his low blood status.  And as such, he didn’t know of Slytherin’s reputation for having the bulk of the students who believed in pure-blood supremacy before reaching the castle.  In fact, he was wholly ignorant of the Wizarding War that had reached its bitter end not even three years prior to him arriving at Hogwarts for the first time.

Everything was strange and disorienting as he entered the Great Hall with all of the other students.  The notion of a sentient hat placing them into one of the houses he knew nothing about certainly did not help matters.

“Copper, Ben!”

Trembling, he stepped up to the stool, almost stumbling over his feet a few times on his way up, and sat down on it.  Uncertain of what to expect.

The hat was promptly placed upon his head by Professor McGonagall and he jumped when he heard a disembodied voice in his ear, “No need to be frightened, boy, this should only take a moment.  Now let’s see …”

Ben’s fingers dug into his palms, anxiety surging within his chest.

“Ah …  You’re going to be one of those tricky ones, aren’t you?  There’s a lot going on up here …  I sense that you have a gifted mind, lots of potential for sure—hm, yes—and you’ve got a streak of resourcefulness to you, don’t you?  Being able to hide evidence is an odd skill, but a useful one, to be sure.  Ah, and you’ve got a desire and determination to improve yourself, I see.  Be the best you can be, right?”

Doesn’t everyone?

“Oh, definitely not, you’d be surprised,” he jumped slightly when the hat responded to his thought, “Now, there’s also the potential for a great deal of bravery within you, even though you’re a bit jumpy now.  And loyalty, as well, I see.  Yes … you’d go to impressive lengths for those you care for, wouldn’t you?”

I suppose, but I’ll never be brave.

“Is that so?  Are you sure about that?”  Ben flinched at the way the hat responded to his thoughts again, but he nodded, “Well, then, that only leaves one option if you’re so certain, you’ve gotta be …  SLYTHERIN!”

The hat was removed from him and the applause he received from his house was considerably more tepid than the applause most of the other students had received.

His prefects welcomed him cordially enough, but he felt the glares of some of his classmates and had no clue why they were looking at him like that.  Had he done something wrong?  There was too much he didn’t understand about the wizarding world.

He glanced over at the person he ended up sitting across from, she couldn’t have too much older and sneered at him, “Ugh, don’t look at me, Mudblood.  Don’t know what the Sorting Hat was thinking putting someone like you in Slytherin.”

Mudblood?  Someone like him?

He kept his head down for the rest of the Welcoming Feast and all the way down to the Slytherin dungeons.


It was only the first day into the semester and he was convinced that the Sorting Hat had made some type of grievous error by putting him in Slytherin.  

He did not belong here.

Most of the blood supremacist Slytherins just ignored him, well, all but one: Merula Snyde.  She had been harassing him all day and his only respite came during Potions class when she ended up targeting you instead.

So, when he heard you stand up to her, he was hopeful that you would be the first friendly face he’d actually have the nerve to strike up a conversation with.  There were some other Slytherins that seemed nice enough, like a girl he had heard called Liz Tuttle, but he didn’t really know who he could trust in his house yet.

After class, he managed to catch up to you and asked your name—hoping that he had overheard it correctly between Snape and Snyde talking to you.  He hadn’t exactly been seated close, so eavesdropping had been a bit of a challenge.

“That’s me … but who are you?”

The way your eyes narrowed in suspicion when you noticed the green accent of his robes made his heart sink, but he managed to stutter out his name, “Ben Copper, a first-year, just like you.  I just … I wanted to thank you for standing up to Snyde like that.”

“Oh, you saw that?” you asked, relaxing slightly though you now looked more confused than skeptical as you tilted your head to the side, “But why are you thanking me?  Aren’t you both from the same house?”

He nodded at both your first and third questions.  “We are, unfortunately, since it means we have most of our classes together …  And she’s been threatening me, saying I’m a disgrace to our house, and calling me a Mudblood.  Which I just learned is a slur only an hour ago …”

Your eyes widened at the slur, any skepticism seemed to fade away, “I’m sorry to hear that …  I just kind of assumed that there weren’t many, er, really any Muggle-borns who got put in Slytherin.  Given its reputation and all …”

“I wish I had known before getting sorted,” he said as his shoulders slumped, turning his attention down toward his feet, “It’s a joke that I got put in Slytherin, I’m not ambitious like the others.  Merula’s obsessed with proving herself to be the most powerful witch in our year, I’m just glad someone had the courage to stand up to her …”

“Well, there’s a lot of ways to be ambitious, you know?  I’m sure the Sorting Hat put you in Slytherin for a reason.”

“I’m not so sure, but then again …  I don’t know anything about the wizarding world, all of this is so new and scary to me.”

You hesitated for a moment before giving him a small smile, “Well, if you need any help … I suppose I can assist you.  I know all of this is pretty overwhelming for me too, and I come from a magical family.”

Rowan called out to you from down the hall and you gave him a small wave before running off.  He couldn’t help but wonder if you genuinely meant it or if you were just being nice …


And that was the start of something amazing, though Ben Copper wouldn’t come to realize it until a few more years down the road.

The first year was a bit rough, Rowan didn’t trust him almost immediately for being a Slytherin and there was still some hesitancy on your end due to his house.  He didn’t blame either of you, really, since it seemed like the only other Slytherins you interacted with were his head of house and Merula.  Both of whom hated him just as much as they hated you.

Yet it was during your continued help with flying lessons that he came to the conclusion that, perhaps, you really could be friends.  One moment in particular stood out to him …

His eyes were screwed shut, knuckles grasping his broom to the point where they were bone white.  He felt his feet dangle in the air and knew that he was going up quite high.  The two of you had practiced for this, he was fine!  It’d be fine …

It wasn’t until he heard you let out a delighted laugh that he managed to force his eyes open and look over at you, surprised to see you beaming at him from on your own broom.

“You’re doing it, Ben!  You’re flying too.”

He looked down and was surprised when he didn’t feel the level of fear that he had been anticipating.

“I am, aren’t I?”

You flew up next to him and offered him a high-five, which he anxiously gave you before returning his hand to firmly grasp his broom.

“Now let’s work on seeing who can go the fastest!”

“… Uh, I think that’s a ways off for me, but … sure, let’s work up to that,” he said and gave you a small smile.

A little friendly competition would be a great way to help him improve, so long as it moved at a safe pace, of course.  He still didn’t know a lot about flying, after all.


The second year was terrible for him, though that was through no fault of your own.  The fact that he went missing and seemed to not have any memories from that span of time, or at least only very fragmented ones, was what did it.  The fact that Rowan continued to mistrust him stung, but being your friend was worth it.  The time you came to comfort him in the hospital wing only cemented that decision in his mind.

“Well, is there anything I can do to cheer you up, Ben?”

“Seeing a friendly face is plenty,” he said with a smile, meaning every word, before he leaned in and dropped his volume to just above a whisper, “Madam Pomfrey is good at what she does, no doubt about that, but she isn’t exactly the most comforting, you know.”

He felt a sense of satisfaction from hearing you let out a small laugh, though he noticed you looked a bit confused.

“Didn’t you ask to see me?”

That gave him pause.  He knew his memory was all over the place, but surely he would have remembered something he had just asked, right?

“Did I?  I feel like I’m losing it a bit, since I can’t remember much at all …”

The concerned expression, “Does it have something to do with the ice?”

“That’s what Madam Pomfrey thinks, it makes the most sense,” he trailed off, feeling ominously uncertain about it.

“Well, let’s talk through it and try to figure out what happened.  Maybe helping you remember something will make you feel a bit better?”

Once again, he wasn’t entirely certain if you were helping him to help him or if you were pursuing your own goals, like how most of his housemates treated him.

Still, he was determined to change that if it was still the latter.


The third year was more stable and the one in which he felt like he made the most progress.  With the introduction of Barnaby to your friend group, he was no longer the only Slytherin.  He stayed out of the Cursed Vaults business for the most part, as the Vault of Fear was too much for him, and instead he just focused on working on growing closer to you and learning more about the wizarding world.  Often, doing both simultaneously.

“So, let me get this straight,” he said, sitting his Butterbeer down on the table you two were seated at in the Three Broomsticks, “we’ll be learning how to Apparate, which is basically like teleportation and it makes you really sick when you first start out among a slew of other things that can potentially go wrong?”

“Pretty much.”

“Blimey, that’s—” he trailed off, finding himself speechless.

“Amazing?”

“No, positively terrifying.  Doesn’t that mean someone can just … pop in at any given moment wherever you are?  With a loud sound.”

“It does, but you honestly get used to it.  My parents Apparate and Disapparate from the house all the time, it’s not that bad.”

“I don’t think I’d ever get used to it …”

You nudged one of his feet under the table to get him to look back up at you.  “You will.  We’ll be learning it together!  Plus, you’re so talented that I doubt you’ll have any problems learning it.”

He felt his face heat up so he lifted his Butterbeer back up to his lips to take another drink, thankful that the class helped obscure at least part of his beet red face.

The year was filled with plenty of conversations like that and he did his best to help take your mind off of the Vaults when he could.  However, when he learned that there had apparently been letters addressed to him from the mysterious ‘R,’ he couldn’t help but feel anxious about his memory loss …


The fourth year was when things started to change, both in the best and worst ways imaginable.  Rowan only grew more suspicious of him as the year came to pass, yet you always stood up for him.  And he had come to appreciate you as something more than a friend, you were honestly the best thing that had happened to him during his time at Hogwarts and he was so thankful that he had been determined enough to stick things out.  You helped make it easier for him to overcome his fears and grow into the person he wanted to be.

So perhaps he hadn’t had entirely altruistic motives when he agreed to help Rowan find you a date to the Celestial Ball after you had managed to convince him to go, along with … though he was cunning enough to spot the well-intentioned deception and just chose to not say anything of it.  Still, the way you all were confident in him was contagious and dancing was something he could learn, so he spent most of his free time up until the ball practicing.  

His attendance clearly meant a lot to you and he didn’t want to disappoint.

After all, it was his opportunity to strike and get a feel if, perhaps, you felt the same and would consider accompanying him.  So when you invited him out to talk in the courtyard after demonstrating no interest in any of your classmates, he knew it was his chance.

“So, I wanted to talk with you about the Celestial Ball, Ben,” you started out.

“Right, I wanted to talk with you about the same, actually.”

“You did?”

He swallowed thickly, doing his best to force his hands to steady out, “Yes, I believe I have found you a date, after all.”

“I’m not—”

He held a hand up to cut you off in the gentlest way he could, giving you a weak smile to insure that you knew he meant no harm by it, he just needed to get his plan out before he lost his courage.  “I’m fully prepared for you to say ‘no,’ after all, I know them being a Slytherin has been a problem in the past, but since neither of us have a date yet … I was hoping that you’d—maybe—consider going with me?”

Ben had never been more grateful in his life for maintaining eye contact with someone, since seeing the way your eyes lit up at his question.  “I’d love to!  I was actually going to ask you the same thing.”

“Yes!  So you’ll be my date, truly?”

“Of course.”

“I honestly wasn’t expecting you to agree.”  Well, not entirely at least. “So, I suppose we should go get ready and meet up in the Great Hall, then.”

You nodded, still smiling, and he took that as his cue to leave.  The sooner the two of you left and got ready meant the sooner you’d be at the ball together, having a great time.

“Oh, wait!”

He paused and looked back at you, his black and green robes fluttering gently in the warm breeze.

“You being a Slytherin hasn’t been an issue for a long time, Ben.  You represent the best parts of your house and I’m so thankful we became friends.”

He had to turn away from you then and brought a hand up over his mouth, face breaking out in a deep blush judging by how uncomfortably hot his face felt.  You truly were too good for him, he knew it, but he couldn’t help but pursue you anyways.

He managed to stutter out a quick, “Thanks,” before running off to go get ready.

Between that moment and the Celestial Ball, he couldn’t remember ever having a better time during his nearly four years at Hogwarts.  All his practice dancing paid off and, much like with flying during your first year, he didn’t feel nearly as anxious as he had originally anticipated.  

While he still wasn’t able to work up the courage to fully confess to you, whether or not you went as just friends was ambiguous and he didn’t believe it was the right time to disturb that balance.  It would be soon though, hopefully before the end of the school year.

Yet, after he almost killed you while under ‘R’s Imperius Curse, he found that he couldn’t even look at you after that.  Any hopes he had of pursuing you in that manner died that night.

He really wasn’t brave and Rowan had been right about him the whole time.  And he hadn’t even known it.


During the entirety of the remainder of your fourth year and the summer that followed, he avoided you like the plague.  He ran away from his problems, unable to work up the bravery to face you and the rest of your friends.  

They were his friends too, he considered all of you to be his Hogwarts family, brought together by the glue that was the Cursed Vaults and you.  It all came back to you.  While he never quite found a refuge within his house, he found that he didn’t need it.

And before he knew it, the two of you were back at Hogwarts and he had to worry about avoiding you in the halls and in class.  And he missed you.

Oh god, did he miss you.

It didn’t take long for him to crack, torn between his cowardice and his drive to do anything and everything for those important to him.  He needed to at least set the record straight, he just hoped you’d be willing to listen.

When you actually showed up to the courtyard, he felt both terrified and relieved simultaneously.

“I’m surprised you came …”

“Of course I did, I’ve been worried sick about you all summer.”

His brown eyes flickered between you and his shoes, suddenly overwhelmed by guilt.  “I’m sorry.  I’ve just been so ashamed, worried, and afraid …”

“Worried and afraid over what?”

“That something like that would happen again and I’d be forced to do something even worse to you.  Or worse in general, really, I don’t even know what all I was forced to do like that,” he paused as his eyes finally settled on staring at his shoes, “And that Rowan was right about me the whole time.”

“Ben,” you said as you stepped forward and placed your hand on his shoulder, “Don’t say that about yourself, please.  It wasn’t you who did that.  And I’d rather us figure out what happened together than you suffering alone, I’m quite certain that everyone around me faces the same risk …”

He looked up at you then, “You still trust me, after everything?”

“Of course I do, in fact, I—”

It all happened so quickly, the next thing Ben knew there was a red robed figure behind you, wand pointed and ready to strike.  And then he was knocked to the ground after pushing you out of the way and taking the purple hex, his whole body ached and he found himself unable to move.

He could only watch helplessly, his wand out of reach, as the Red Robe used the full-body bind curse on you and spouted off their ominous spiel.

By the time he was able to move again, whoever it was had already taken their leave.  He scrambled for his wand and quickly cast Finite Incantem nonverbally to liberate you from the curse.  Once that was done, he forced himself up off the ground and to your side.

“Are you okay?!”  Moving made everything hurt again, but he didn’t care.  He needed to make sure you were okay.

“I’m fine, but what about you?  You’re wincing …”

He hadn’t even realized it, “I’ll be okay, though I imagine I’ll have to go visit Madam Pomfrey since it’s not pleasant.  I’m sure she’ll be glad to see me already …”

“Well, let me help you get there then, it’s the least I can do for my hero,”  you said as you got up and helped him do the same, wrapping an arm around his upper back to provide some further support.  

“I-I’m not—”  His face was firetruck red from your combined words of kindness and proximity, unable to finish repeating the compliment.

You leaned up and pressed a small peck of gratitude to his cheek, “You’re braver than you know, Ben.  What you did just proved that.”

He kept silent, face somehow going even redder as the two of you began to head to the entrance hall.  Just shy of the hospital wing, he managed to find his tongue once again.

“I only did it because I care about you so much, it had nothing to do with bravery …”

“It still took bravery, you dork,” you said and grinned up at him.  “Now, let’s get you feeling better so we can plan out a thank you date at Hogsmeade to resume where we left off last year.”

Never in his life did a visit to the hospital wing ever hold a stronger appeal.

Chapter Text

  • Talbott is torn between being fairly traditional and wanting to get married as soon as possible.
    • He was always quite serious about being your friend and he subsequently took your romantic relationship very seriously right out of the gates.
    • Plus, he’s all too aware of how quickly you can lose the people you care about, so he doesn’t really want to waste too much time that you could otherwise be spending together.
    • He managed to wait to propose a year and a half after you graduated from Hogwarts.
  • He’s a big fan of strategy games and the two of you play them often when you have stay-in dates.  Wizarding chess is probably his favorite to play with you, and was the game he almost always won at, so he hatched a plan.
    • To make things interesting, he suggests that whoever wins gets to ask the other a question.  Either something that they’ve wanted to ask the other for a while or just something generally difficult or weird.
      • He didn’t want to make it too obvious, it was supposed to be a surprise, after all.
    • Of course, the one time he wants to win is the time he loses.  He was too nervous and unable to focus on the game and plan ahead like he usually does.
    • So the two of you play best of three and he beats you the second time, but decides to chance it (mainly out of a sense of pride).
    • Thankfully, he wins and he gets down on knee and proposes to you right then and there.
    • He succeeds in catching you off guard and is delighted when you say yes, he doesn’t let go of you for the rest of the evening.
  • As for the wedding, he’s inclined to just settle for getting married in court with some of your closest friends and calling it good.
    • He’s not an especially flashy man and would rather spend any money you save on doing something nice for your honeymoon.
    • However, if you want a proper ceremony, he’ll comply (though he’ll still want to keep it nice and simple).
    • He never thought he’d have a partner to fly through life with, so he’s over the moon the day you two are officially hitched.
  • As far as work goes, he ends up seeing his ambition through and becoming an Auror.  His drive is admirable, as are his intentions; however, it does mean that he’s always dealing with Dark Witches and Wizards and putting himself directly into harm’s way.
    • Your support is really crucial to helping him stay positive a lot of the time, since he sees just how many Dark Wizards and Witches slip through the cracks.  It can be super demoralizing for him at times.
    • He and Tonks work really well together and often get assigned on missions, even though they have different mentors.
    • Talbott eventually decides on doing some volunteer work to help give him a way to cool off and provide an outlet for his stress from work.
      • He ends up volunteering at a Muggle bird of prey sanctuary, he’s incredibly knowledgeable and is a huge asset to them—especially when working with owls.
      • After he starts helping out there, you notice that his mood improves drastically and he doesn’t get as burned out under the stress of his demanding, but rewarding job. 
  • The two of you move in after you’re married, living in a comfortable but small flat in London.
    • He’s quite frugal with his money and you two end up saving up to move into a nicer flat with some more space in no time.
    • There are a lot of bird themed knick knacks around your house, some enchanted and some just being from Muggles, he’s a bit embarrassed about it but it’s something he collects.
    • You two definitely have a pair of pet owls that he treats like his children, it’s adorable.
  • Talbott’s terrible with kids.  Terrible.  Like, babies either stare at him or burst into tears from just looking at him.  He’s just pretty stiff and awkward with them and isn’t good at getting them to stop crying, mainly due to a lack of experience with them. 
    • He never really even thought of having his own family down the line, but he started giving it more serious thought when the two of you got together.
    • If you don’t want kids: he’s totally cool with it, if not a bit relieved.  He doesn’t know how good of a father he’d make.  Instead, the two of you continue being doting pet owners to your birds.
  • However, if you do want kids he has to do a bit of self reflecting on himself and does a bunch of research on good parenting skills.
    • He’d best like one or two children, it’s a manageable amount and financially doable.
      • He does have a slight bias toward having at least one daughter, but he’s not particularly fussy when it comes to his chicks.
    • If the pregnancy was unplanned: Poor man practically has a heart attack and goes through a combination of self-reflection and a spiral of uncertainty.  Kids hate him, what if yours does too?  
      • The combination of doing research and your support help get him to chill out again and he ends up looking forward to being a dad.
      • You take some parenting classes together and he takes it all super seriously, to the point where it’s honestly really sweet.  He’s trying his best!
    • If the two of you end up adopting: He’s able to convert all of his anxious energy into planning and preparing everything out.  He does so much research to maximize your chances of getting approved.
      • This way he gets to make sure that the child doesn’t hate him, so it helps eliminate his greatest source of anxiety.
  • The way you tell your friends is pretty straight forward, to put it mildly.
    • Talbott writes up the invitations and just straight up tells everyone in those.
    • So everyone comes prepared and it’s just a great celebration!

Chapter Text

“Ah, here you are, Talbott,” you whispered, sitting next to him at the otherwise empty table in the library.

He looked over at you, golden eyes as intense as ever, “Here I am, indeed.  Do you need something?”

“Not exactly, no …”

He pressed his lips into a line, “Well, I’m quite busy studying for my O.W.L.s.  So if you’re just here to chat, then I recommend you go find someone else to distract.”

You frowned when he turned his face back to the textbook and parchment in front of him.  However, when you didn’t go away like he expected, you caught him hesitate in his note-taking before fully resuming.

It took almost a minute of you staring at him for him to speak without looking up from his notes, “Has anyone told you it’s rude to stare at someone hawkishly like that?”

“Ha ha, very funny,” you said as you rolled your eyes, before resting your elbow on the table and your chin in your hand, “But more importantly, do you ever have any fun?”

“No.”

“That was a rhetorical question since, as your friend, I know you don’t.”

You thought you noticed him tense slightly when you referred to yourself as his friend.

“And what precisely are you getting at?  It’s not like you’re any better given your obsession with the Vaults …”

“Precisely!”

“—SHHHH!

You shrunk under Madam Pince’s glare and gave her an apologetic smile, waiting for her to disappear from sight before turning back to your friend.

“What I mean,” you started, ensuring your volume stayed at a proper volume, “is that Professor Dumbledore pointed as much out to me recently and I didn’t mean to neglect my friends,” you paused and felt your face heat up the slightest amount.  “Especially you, Talbott.  But, um, I was thinking that maybe we could do something fun?”

Talbott looked up at you then, sharp features soft as he kindly regarded you for a few moments before speaking, “And what do you propose we do?”

“Well, I was thinking of a joy flight, maybe?  We haven’t gone flying before and it’s supposed to be a beautiful, clear night out.  Perfect for soaring in.”

“So, even when you don’t want my help with the Cursed Vaults, you want me to break school rules by sneaking out …?”

“Pretty much.  It’ll be fun though, which is something we’re both sorely in need of.”

He took a couple of moments to think over your suggestion before giving you a small smile, “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt anything …”

“Good, I’m glad that you agree.  Birds of a feather gotta stick together and look out for each other, right?”

Now it was his turn to roll his own eyes, though his smile only grew.  “You’re an idiot.”

“And you just agreed to spend time with this idiot, so who’s the real idiot?”

“Simple: we both are.”

“Ah, eagle-eyed as ever, I see,” you said as you stood up and gave him a wink after your pun, “I’ll see you tonight at the courtyard right after curfew, don’t be late.”

You exited the library with an extra pep in your step, already feeling lighter at the idea of spending time with Talbott.


The two of you met in the courtyard in your Animagus forms, you found that Talbott had beat you there and was perched on his usual spot—the tree branch near the entrance.

Upon sighting you, however, he took off and you quickly followed suit.  The two of you zoomed through the night sky, high above the parapets of Hogwarts castle.  Being slightly smaller and faster, you were able to careen around him upon occasion, flying beside him and then over him before veering off in a different direction.  He always followed suit and the two of you would lead each other off in random directions, going whichever way your whims or the wind took you.

Sometimes, when you were feeling especially daring, you would perform a bold drop and pull up to rejoin him up, high in the air.  He would join you on occasion and the two of you had an unspoken competition to see who could go the longest before halting your decline and ascending once again.

The sensations of the wind whipping around you and the way in which the scenery underneath flew underneath you were beyond exhilarating.  While flying was always an enjoyable experience, having a partner to fly with only seemed to make it all the sweeter.

And he seemed to feel the same way, judging by the way his eyes shone in the moonlight and the fervor with which he beat his wings.

This was the freest you had ever felt at Hogwarts and it made you feel like you could accomplish anything.  That you were unstoppable.

However, you can only fly for so long and once you were beginning to feel a touch bit tired, you decided that it was time to take a break.  Thankfully, the lack of clouds in the sky meant that you could enjoy the starry night sky with your companion and make the most of the night.

You landed on a decent section of Hogwarts’s roof that was flat before transforming back into your human form.  Not even waiting for Talbott to land, you laid down on the stony surface and stared up at the sky.  Taking in the gorgeous view from the heights of the castle and relishing in the warm night breeze.  It truly was a picture perfect night.

Glancing over, you gave him a small smile when you felt him sit down beside you, “Too good to lay down with me, eh?”

He cast you a glance out of the corner of his eye before looking back up at the velvety black sky, “I’m quite fine sitting.  Unlike a certain someone, I didn’t exhaust myself by showing off.” 

“Oh, come on, you showed off plenty too.  Besides, you don’t—” you paused before a devious smile broke out across your face as you started again, “You don’t have to lay spread-eagle if you don’t want to.”

Talbott just closed his eyes and shook his head from your terrible pun, though the exasperated smile on his face was hard to miss.  “Remind me why I’m friends with you again?”

However, he laid down and your smile only grew into a complete grin, knowing that the fact he wasn’t denying that you were friends anymore was as good of a sign as any.  You were about to do something potentially stupid, but it felt right in the moment and you had a good feeling about it.

“Because you like me.”

Those gorgeous golden eyes of his snapped wide open as he looked over at you, clearly understanding the way in which you meant that word.  “I-I don’t know what you’re talking about, I certainly … don’t … like you.”

Once again, his demeanor betrayed his words, aside from his hesitancy you could quite clearly see the dark blush that had broken out.

“Oh, I think you do,” you said as you propped yourself up on one elbow and continued with an unusual degree of boldness, “which is a good thing, since I like you too.”

He stared at you, wide-eyed and stunned stiff.  Clearly, this was not how he had expected this night to go, and you could tell that he was moments away from bolting out of this embarrassing situation if you didn’t do anything.

Before you could let him slip away from you, you leaned down and gently pressed your lips against his in a light kiss under the moonlight.

It took him a few moments, but you felt him relax under you and press his warm, chapped lips back against your own.  A moment later, you felt him tangle his fingers into your hair as you basked in the moment.

And for once, the Cursed Vaults were the last thing on your mind.

 

Chapter Text

“What do you mean he’s gone?!

“Precisely that, actually.  Or has your business with the Cursed Vaults managed to dumb you down to your boyfriend’s level?”  Merula rolled her eyes, though the way she had her arms crossed over her chest betrayed her real feelings under her bravado.

Even so, you still felt some irritation spike at her tone and pinched the bridge of your nose to try and repress it.  “Just walk me through what happened.”

“Well, your idiot got his head stuck in a jam jar he was enjoying during our break in the courtyard.  Again.  Ismelda and I watched him struggle until class rolled around and we left, like usual, but he never showed up.  We went to go check on him right after class and found his wand and … this.”

She handed you his wand and an all too familiar Black Quill.  You pocketed the wand before turning your attention to the more important item.  Without any further hesitation, you cast Reparifarge to undo the transfiguration and reveal a letter.  Thankfully, it was short and not written in code.

‘You have a decision to make.  I warned you that death is coming to Hogwarts, but I don’t believe you’ve taken me seriously.

It’s time that changed.

If you wish to see Lee unharmed, or at least relatively so, then you should go do some reflection on the fourth floor.

-R’

You read it over a couple of times, keeping the paper too close to your face for Merula to read it.

The Slytherin snatched the letter from your hands and looked it over, “Ugh, are you daft?  There’s that oddly placed mirror on the fourth floor, it’s probably referring to that.”

She was right.

“Merula, you’re bloody brilliant.  That’s gotta be it.”

“Well, I am the best witch at Hogwarts for a reason,” she said, an obnoxiously smug smirk breaking out across her face.

You rolled your eyes and snatched the letter back from her to look over it once more just to be certain.  “Sure, whatever, but let’s head there now.”

Without waiting for her response, you turned on your heel and began to make for the castle’s entrance.  You expected Merula to follow you, but when she didn’t you ended up stopping a

“Wait.  Shouldn’t we at least notify the professors that a student’s been kidnapped?”

“There’s no time!  And they’ll just stop us from doing anything.”  You ran back over to her and grabbed her hand to pull her along, giving her a look over your shoulder, “Besides, I have the best witch at Hogwarts with me, so we should be fine.”

Merula let out a heavy sigh of exasperation, but she followed along without any further fuss.  The two of you got a lot of stares as you rushed through the hallways, doing your best to avoid full out running wherever professors were most likely to be around.  Getting caught on your way to the fourth floor corridor was the very last thing you needed.

Thankfully, it didn’t take terribly long to make it there since you knew exactly where to go.  Now what exactly you had to do while at the mirror was an entirely different issue …

The two of you stared at the object in question, it looked like a perfectly ordinary floor length mirror affixed to the wall.

“So, do we have to say something to get it to open?  Or—”

You were abruptly cut off when the mirror swung inwards, separating itself from its frame.  For a moment, there almost sounded as if there was a quiet scuttling noise, but it was fleeting.  There was quite clearly no one there.

“Well, that’s not off-putting in the slightest,” Merula said, staring into the inky blackness of the stone corridor.

Lumos.”  The light of your wand didn’t illuminate the dark passage nearly as far as you would’ve liked, but you stepped into it regardless.

Merula hesitated for a moment before you heard her cast the same incantation and follow you.  “This is one of the stupidest things you’ve ever done.  I hope you know that.”

“I do, but I don’t care.”

The corridor was long with a light draft blowing through it, disrupting the cobwebs along the ceiling.  The light from your wands illuminating them only served to cast eery, quivering shadows along the ancient stone.  Your eyes often drifted back up to them, the movement drawing your attention and tricking your mind into thinking there was something there.

After what felt like minutes of walking, the extremely narrow corridor abruptly gave way to a wide room.  There were dim blue flames burning in the torches along the walls, but otherwise there was no light.

Your attention was almost immediately drawn to a figure collapsed on the floor.  Even though you were almost entirely certain that this was a trap, you couldn’t resist yourself and immediately ran over to Barnaby’s side.

Merula called out your name, but before you were even halfway there you saw a jet of purple fly toward you from the side.  But before it could make contact, you felt something from behind you make contact with your back and knock you flat to the ground, wand flying from out of your hand as you made contact with the ground.  Right out of harm’s way, as the purple sparks of magic flew over your harmlessly.

Undoubtedly, your tagalong companion just saved you from getting hexed.  You’d have to thank her for that later, but right then there was a more pressing matter.  A red robed figure was approaching where you were splayed out on the ground, wand pointed at Merula.

“I’m glad to see you could join us, Curse-Breaker, and you too Ms. Snyde.  I must admit, I wasn’t anticipating the two of you to work together in this instance.”

“That makes the two of us,” she replied.

You reached for your wand as Merula distracted the Red Robe, the tips of your fingers only just barely able to touch handle.  

“Is that so?  Well, perhaps you aren’t as foolish as I thought you had become …”

“I’ve been wanting to talk with you, actually.  I was hoping that we could finally join forces.”

Biting back a grimace, you stretched your arm as far as you could without making any more abrupt movements and dragged your wand just a tad bit closer and—

You let out a cry as you felt a foot stomp down on your hand, pressing it helplessly open against your wand, “Oh, there’ll be none of that.”

The shoes were quite clearly a pair that were common for male students to wear and you felt your stomach sink.  Was this another one of your friends?  You weren’t able to think about it for very long when you noticed that Barnaby seemed to be stirring from where he was on the ground.

There was a flash of light from Merula’s direction, but the Red Robe deflected it with cat-like reflexes before sending two spells, rapid-fire, in her direction.  One of them must have made contact, since you heard her groan and hit the ground with a thud.

“Cunning, aren’t we?  Too bad you’re both hopelessly predictable.”

“Merula?!”

You only got another groan in response.  

Feeling panic begin to well up, you tried to pull your hand away from under their foot.  Only for them to press down on your hand with renewed force, wiggling their foot from one side to the other as if stamping out a particularly stubborn cigarette.

“Death has come to Hogwarts.  Now, here’s what we’re going to do.  While I would undoubtedly enjoy casting the killing blow, I feel as if you would—”

You heard running coming from Barnaby’s direction on the ground, of which the Red Robe had their back to, before they were tackled to the ground.

With your hand now free of their foot, you were able to grab your wand and point it at the struggling two figures in front of you.

Barnaby, still with a jam jar on his head, was struggling with your assailant, their wand uselessly on the ground from losing it during the impact.  It almost would’ve been absurdly funny if the situation weren’t so serious.  The two of them were rolling around on the ground, trying to overpower the other, and when the Red Robe was on top next—

Petrificus Totalus!

A white jet of light erupted from your wand and made contact with the Red Robe, their body immediately going rigid as they landed on top of the jam jar headed boy.

You managed to get up and made your way over to Barnaby with shaky legs.

Engorgio.

The already enlarged jam jar around his head grew once more and he was easily able to remove it, letting out a sigh of relief as he shook his head and placed the jar back on the ground.

“Thanks, it was really hard to see in that.  But I guess it was a good thing, since they couldn’t see me either!”

You let out a small laugh, just relieved that Barnaby was still himself.  “I don’t think that’s how that works, love,” you said before handing him his wand, “I think you should have this back though.”

“Thanks.”  He gladly took his wand back and the two of you turned your attention to the robed figure laying on the ground.

Finite Incantatem,” you cast, voice barely above a whisper.

The illusion of the hood gave way and Diego Caplan was revealed to be the poor victim this time.  How many more of your friends were going to end up getting cursed because of you?

Barnaby must have noticed your distress since he was quick to wrap his arm around your shoulder and press a quick kiss to your temple.  “It’s not your fault.”

“But you, Diego, and Merula all got dragged into this because of me.”

However, you longed for his comfort and found yourself wrapping your arms around his neck and holding him close.

“Well, whoever cursed us all’s the one who did it.  So it couldn’t be your fault,” he paused, green eyes going wide at a sudden realization, “You didn’t curse us, right?  I don’t think you would do that, but otherwise it couldn’t be your fault …”

He was quite obviously starting to hurt himself in confusion as he shifted his head from one to side, like a confused dog trying to figure out what a new sound was.

“Of course not,” you said, unable to prevent the small twinge of hurt from seeping into your voice.  You knew he meant nothing by it.

“Then it’s not your fault.”

His simple logic quickly soothed over any hurt feelings and you found yourself feeling some of your guilt ebb away, since he had a point.  The two of you just stayed like that for a few moments, both a bit shaken from the events that had just unfolded.

However, you knew that you needed to make sure Merula was okay and take both her and Diego to the hospital wing.  Pulling away from Barnaby, you gave him a shaky smile and said, “But you’re banned from enlarging jam jars like this until this whole ‘R’ business gets sorted back out …”

“I guess that’s fair.”

“Now, let’s get these two out of here before someone else shows up …”

Thankfully, everyone ended up being fine, though you all received a verbal lashing from Professor Snape for being so careless and an invitation to Professor Dumbledore’s office that evening, most likely for similar reasons.

At least Barnaby was still safe and sound, since that was all that mattered at the end of the day.

 

Chapter Text

  • Diego knows what he wants and he flirts with you relentlessly before you start dating, doing his best to woo you.
    • It may seem at first like he’s just saying things without meaning them, but he means every single word.  You’re special to him.
    • He’s just very straight forward about his interest in you and he proves it by asking you out in a very romantic way in private.
    • As soon as the two of you start dating, he stops making his direct comments toward other people.  That shows how serious he is about you.
  • There’s a high degree of spontaneity in your relationship, he’s very big on surprising you just to see you smile.
    • During breaks, he’s very fond of dropping by your place on days when he knows you don’t have anything going on (preferably when your parents aren’t home, as he’s a bit nervous about meeting them) and either taking you out for an impromptu date or surprising you with a little something.
    • If you’re not up for going out, he’ll just chill out with you and enjoy your company.  His presence just makes everything better and those are often some of the best days.
  • Diego is big on four D’s: Duels, Dances, Dates, and Details.
    • He’s a very precocious young man and is able to dedicate even banal details about you to memory.  You don’t know how he does it, but he never seems to forget any of it.
    • You off-handedly mention a place you used to frequent a lot as a kid?  You’ll end up going there on a date a few months later.
    • You two have a mock debate over what the best candy is?  He’ll make note of all of your favorites and sporadically surprise you with some whenever you’re having a bad day.
    • It’s really sweet and you do your best to keep up with him, so the two of you have a bit of a competition as to who can remember the most little things about the other and surprise them.
      • It’s more of an unspoken thing, but it’s more of a light-hearted form of competitiveness since you both just want to make the other smile!
  • Affection is commonplace and super casual in a relationship with this Hufflepuff.
    • He’ll just about always drape his arm around your shoulders when your sitting next to each other.
      • Sometimes, Diego will lay down and rest his head in your lap when you’re alone and talking together.
    • Hugs are his choice of greeting with you. 
      • If you haven’t properly seen each other in a while, he’s liable to pick you up and spin you around.  
        • It can be embarrassing, but he’s just honestly super happy to spend time with you and as such it’s sweeter than anything else.
    • If you want some of his clothing?
      • He’ll practically throw anything you want at you without any questions asked, he loves seeing you in his sweaters, shirts, and jackets.
      • However, his scarf is the one item of clothing you won’t be gifted.  Instead, he’ll get you a matching one if you end up stealing it too often.
    • When you go to Hogsmeade on cold days, he’ll share his scarf with you so you have to walk closely together.  These are some of his favorite dates, it’s a little thing that just makes him … so happy.
  • As someone aspiring to become a Duelling Champion, he likes to practice with you.  You’re the other best dueller in Hogwarts, after all!
    • You two are very much a power couple as far as others are concerned.
      • If you’re not in the Duelling Club as an extracurricular, he’ll drag you into it since you’re Talented and he wants everyone to see how amazing his partner is (in a setting where duelling is legal, of course!).
    • He likes to practice new moves and spells with you, he knows you can keep a secret so he trusts you enough to work on developing the (patent pending) Diego Caplan duelling technique.
    • More often than not, your duelling practice sessions devolve into snogging sessions.
      • He can’t help himself, you just look so majestic duelling him which can be pretty distracting and he either gets very excited whenever he bests you or wants to reward you for trouncing him.
  • Dancing dates are, obviously, something that Diego’s very into since it combines two of his favorite things: you and dancing.
    • He finds it very intimate and will often just talk with you about your days while you slow dance … sometimes even doing some ballroom dancing.
    • If you don’t know how to dance, he’ll take his time to teach you some of his favorites, no matter how hopeless you may think you are at dancing.
      • Under Diego, anyone can learn how to dance!  And it’s true, he’s actually a superb teacher.
      • He’s incredibly patient and kind about it … and he’ll reward your hard work with kisses and hugs, so it’s worth putting in effort.
  • Arguments can pop up from time to time, after all, Diego’s quite worried about your pursuit of the Vaults and your well-being.
    • He can easily dip into being overprotective and will insist that he accompanies you for anything involving the Vaults.
      • He’s strong and he’s got your back, he dislikes the notion of not being there if anything bad were to happen to you.
    • The biggest area of contention is that he does his best to curb your obsession with the Vaults, he’ll challenge you and remind you that you’re not alone. 
      • You’re not going to get away with spending scant amounts of time with your friends so long as you’re with him.
    • However, he always ensures that the two of you make up promptly and are on the same page once an argument comes to pass.
  • Overall, Diego is a fierce protector and will always have your back.  The two of you make each other stronger and your relationship is full of laughter and affection.

Chapter Text

You, Rowan, and Penny were seated together at dinner to continue reviewing for your end of term Potions exam that was coming up all too quickly, along with all of your other exams.  You and Rowan were quizzing one another across the dining table when your Hufflepuff friend gently elbowed you.

“What?” you asked, turning to look over at her.

“A certain somebody’s been watching you lately,” she said, lips curling upwards into a smile laced with subtle mischief, “Don’t be too obvious, but look ahead at the Gryffindor table.”

You did just that and were surprised when you briefly made eye contact with Jae Kim, who had, indeed, been watching you.  As soon as the contact was made, he quickly turned his face back down and to the table, ears tinged red.

Penny’s smile grew as she whispered, “I think he fancies you!”

You shook your head, face heating up at the very notion that someone might actually like you.  “Don’t be preposterous, no one could ever like me …”

The silence that followed between the three of you was heavy and sour, the resounding heartache thought of Bill’s kind rejection only made it all the more painful for you.  It had been three weeks since it occurred, but it still hurt due to how long you had fancied him for.

Rowan adjusted their glasses, noticing your discomfort and swooping in to save the day, like always.  “Don’t say that, you’re plenty likable.  But can we talk about this later?  We still have a lot left to review …”

“You’re right,” Penny quickly added as she seemed to deflate, “I’m sorry for not being more considerate.”

You gave her a small smile, “It’s perfectly fine, I know you meant well.”

Her blue eyes lingered on you for a while, equal parts pity and hope shone in them.  You knew that she likely was going to inquire over this subject, but you didn’t care much either way.  Nothing would come from it, after all.

However, as your studying continued, you couldn’t help but occasionally spare a glance over at where Jae was sitting.  He was your precious detention buddy and while you had never considered him in that way before, perhaps—

As soon as that line of thought crossed your mind, you were quick to snap your attention back to the food in front of you.  

No more Gryffindor boys!  You weren’t looking to get your heart shattered into pieces yet again.


Two days later, you were making your way down to detention when you felt someone grab you by the wrist and pull you into one of the side passages.  You barely had to spare a glance at them to know it was Jae, his golden hoodie giving him away all too quickly.

You were more confused than anything, as you followed him.  “Where are we going?”

“You’ll see,” he said, glancing over his shoulder with what seemed to be a playful smile, though you couldn’t help but notice it didn’t entirely reach his eyes.

The two of you made a couple of turns down the maze-like halls of Hogwarts before you came to an abrupt stop under what seemed to be a perfectly ordinary archway.

“Why did we stop?” you looked over at him, brows creased together in confusion.

“Look up.”

Upon turning your face upwards, you noticed a little plant dangling from the center of the archway.  It was a sprig of mistletoe.

The realization made your eyes go wide and face explode with warmth.  To say you were utterly stunned was an understatement and whenever you went to open your mouth to say or ask something, your tongue only seemed to twist over itself.

Before you could pull yourself together, you felt Jae gently grasp your chin and turn your face toward his own.  He leaned down and pressed an exceptionally chaste kiss against your lips, it really wasn’t much more than a peck.  As soon as the deed was done, he pulled away from you and pressed a hand up to his lips, face going as red as his shoes.

The two of you just stared at each other for a few moments, with you desperately trying to process what just happened and him seemingly in disbelief that he had actually done that.

“I’m sorry, but I just,” he broke the silence first, though he kept his hand covering his mouth, “I’ve fancied you for a while now and … I just … I hate seeing you so down about yourself.”

When you didn’t respond, he opted to focus his attention on the nearby stony walls, “I thought that stealing your first kiss might help you forget about Bill.  But it was probably stupid, huh?  I understand if you hate me now or whatever,” he trailed off, continuing to mutter something unintelligible under his breath.

Finally he pulled his hand away from his face in favor of nervously playing with the pull strings of his hoodie, dark eyes following his fingers rather than looking at you.

Any annoyance from his lack of warning quickly flowed out of you then, it was easy to see just how much he cared about you.  While part of you still wasn’t over Bill, you hadn’t been able to stop thinking about Jae.  However, you weren’t certain as to whether that was because you were desperate for someone, anyone, to like you or because there was actually something there for Jae specifically.

You couldn’t deny that you enjoyed the kiss, as fleeting as it may have been, your rapidly beating heart and flushed face were testament enough to that.

“I could never hate you, Jae.  I just … I think I may fancy you too, but I just … I don’t know right now,” you paused for a moment before continuing, “Could you give me some time to sort it out?”

Jae perked up at that, the pull strings dropped as his hopeful eyes met yours, “Uh, yeah, take as much time as you need …!  Maybe let me know after we get back from winter break?”

You gave him a small nod, feeling the tension ebb away at his easy acceptance of your, “That’d be great, but for now …”

Not immediately finishing your sentence, you grabbed his nearest hand similar to what he had done to you earlier and began to pull him back in the way you had come.  “We should get to the kitchens before Pitts yells at us for being late.”

Now he was the tongue tied one, only spluttering something out as you two headed toward detention, currently as friends … but with the hope of something more now on both ends. 

Chapter Text

  • Andre’s rather methodical about approaching you to ask you out, mainly because the very last thing he wants to do was mess up your friendship.
    • He wants to be as certain as he could that you fancied him, though it’s difficult for him to tell if you just like him platonically or as something more.
    • Normally, he has a very good eye for that sort of thing when it comes to others, but when it came to himself?  Tragically, not so much.
    • Once he reaches a specific degree of certainty, he asks you out after a Ravenclaw Quidditch victory to get tea with him some time.
    • If you end up making a move on him before he could go for it, it’d be the greatest relief ever and the two of you would have a good laugh over it.
  • Dates are often pleasant and straightforward with him, as they’re almost always something on the more relaxing side of things.
    • Given how stressful your pursuit of the Vaults is, he likes to do things to help take your mind off of things and unwind.
    • In particular, Andre enjoys getting tea together and talking about classes or just whatever, really.  
      • The two of you have the kind of relationship where you can talk for hours and never get bored of the other.
    • Similarly, he enjoys getting you outside and going on some walks around the school grounds on nice days.  Fresh air is good for you, after all.
    • During breaks, he loves going through some of the beautiful parks in London together.
      • If you’re into Muggle music and have a walkman, you’ll often take the opportunity to introduce him to new music on these days.  Letting him listen to your music as you walk hand-in-hand and discuss each song.
    • Alternatively, he’s able to thoroughly enjoy going to Muggle museums on drearier days.
      • Bedeea’s helped him appreciate art thanks to being in the same House and year, so he’s especially inclined to art museums.
  • Being the Quidditch fanatic that Andre is, definitely expect it to come up in various ways within your relationship.
    • Absolutely nothing delights him more than getting to go to Quidditch games (especially Pride of Portree ones) with you.
    • Knowing that you’re cheering him on during Hogwarts games makes him play all the harder and his performance has managed to improve after the two of you start dating.
    • You guys have a bit of a pre-match ritual in which you’ll give him a kiss for good luck and he’ll let you wear his prized scarf for safe-keeping during the match.
      • Similarly, you’ll always wrap his scarf back around him after the game and smother him with the affection he deserves for his hard work.  Especially if it’s celebratory.
  • If you aren’t super good at flying or don’t know how to play Quidditch, have no fear!
    • Andre will make dates out of it, giving you private flying lessons and zooming around Hogwarts.  
    • If you thought he was helpful during flying lessons, he’s even more so when he’s giving you one-on-one help.
    • However, by the end of it, you two are just having fun and racing around and you both showing off to each other than actually taking it seriously.  
  • In terms of affection, Andre’s somewhat private about it, but is still relatively liberal with his attentions.
    • Outside of the celebratory Quidditch gestures, he’ll usually just stick to holding your hand or giving you a chaste kiss on the forehead or nose when you’re in public.
    • Is very fond of lending you his clothing (since it’s actually fashionable), just take care of his Pride of Portree merch since they’re his prized possessions.
    • His favorite thing is to just be cuddled up to your side while he does some reading in private.  It’s heaven for him.
    • While it’s not something he really views himself as being talented in, he is able to write beautiful love letters.
      • He’s definitely eloquent verbally, but he becomes exponentially more so over written word.
      • They’re rare to receive, almost always when the two of you are apart for a while over break, but that makes them all the more valuable.
  • Andre’s also super big on getting involved in your interests, especially if you put an effort into doing so with his.
    • He’s very open-minded and has a lot of natural talent, so he can pick up on just about anything he sets his mind to.  Especially if he has your help.
    • You like knitting?  He’ll learn it from some books or have you instruct him.  Are you into certain books?  He’ll read them!  Do you like collecting certain items?  He’ll often surprise you with new items for your collection.
    • This is one of the main ways in which his thoughtfulness manifests itself in your relationship and it always ensures you have something to bond over at any given time.
  • Arguments are exceptionally rare with him, due to his open-minded and thoughtful nature.  Andre always tries to see your side of things.
    • He’s very calm and rational, so it is very hard to argue against him.
      • Most often, it’ll immediately fizzle out into a calm and respectful dialogue due to how level-headed he is.
    • If it’s something serious, he’ll just about always come up with some kind of compromise that both of you can be pretty happy with..
    • Generally, he prefers more subtle approaches to expressing his concern with your pursuit of the Vaults, gently reminding you to take time for yourself and that all of your friends (and especially him!) are always there for you.
  • Overall, Andre is a supremely thoughtful partner and the two of you encourage each other’s interests and individuality, always growing together in the process.

Chapter Text

  • Thanks to his more cautious nature, he takes his time in proposing since he wants to make sure everything’s right.  The very last thing he wants to do is rush into something neither of you are ready for.
    • However, after everything you go through together thanks to the Vaults, he knows he wants to become your husband.
    • He also just can’t see himself with anyone else, you bring out the best in him and never in his life has he met someone who believes in him like you do.  You’re just extremely special to him, more than you could ever know.
  • As such, he waits to propose until about two years after you graduated from Hogwarts, after you’re both settled into working and ready to move in together.  He wanted to do something special for it and spent a few months figuring out how he wanted to go about it.
    • On your anniversary, he nervously gifts you a used hardback copy of one of his favorite books, The Hobbit, with a red satin bookmark sticking out of it it’s nothing fancy, but he says he wrote a nice inscription on the inside.
    • When you open it, you find that instead of, there’s a compartment cut out of the pages that holds a simple ring, held in place by the ribbon.
    • He tells you in a trembling voice that he loves you and wants to be with you for the rest of his life before asking for your hand in marriage.
    • Never had you seen him smile as brightly as he did when you said yes and the two of you embrace and share a happy cry.
      • He did get you an actual, much nicer hardback edition of it with a loving note inscribed in the front.  He gives it to you after you both calm back down.
  • Ben’s a mess while planning the wedding, you have to handle most of the details because he gets stressed way too easily and is very indecisive over everything.
    • It ends up being a very simple, small ceremony and pretty standard fare as far as weddings go.
    • Unfortunately, Ben was so anxious that he ended up keeping his knees locked while standing at the altar.  Which when combined with how warm he’s feeling plus his wildly fluctuating emotions … the man faints.
      • Thankfully, Charlie ends up having quick enough reflexes to catch Ben on his way down, so no damage is done outside of almost giving you a heart attack.
    • He comes to quickly, but is entirely mortified and is very careful about not locking his knees for the remainder of the ceremony and 
    • Thankfully, the reception goes a lot smoother and he’s able to recover somewhat from his embarrassment.  
  • In the work department, Ben isn’t all that picky.  All he wants is a normal desk job that is comforting in its mundanity.
    • Obviously, the Ministry of Magic was the first place he had in mind since by the time you graduate from Hogwarts, he’s pretty integrated into the wizarding world.
    • Being a Muggle-born looking for a desk job, he got assigned to the Muggle Liaison office in the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes.
    • After a couple of years of working there, he ended up getting put on the Committee on Experimental Charms as well, thanks to his extreme competency and knowledge on Charms.  
      • His boss nominated him for the position since he felt like Ben was wasting a lot of his talent and knowledge otherwise.
      • It’s a really good fit and while he’s the youngest member, the others listen to him since he has some insightful perspectives.
  • The two of you end up getting a nice two story house in a Muggle neighborhood.
    • The house itself is just very charming and average in every conceivable way.  However, the two of you fill it with personal belongings and have a lot of bookshelves throughout the house.
    • Ben wanted to stay close to his family, so you’re only a couple neighborhoods out from them.  
    • You’re a bonafide Copper and his family absolutely loves you, even if they don’t entirely get all the magic stuff.  You all visit each other regularly, you always have dinner together on Sundays.
      • If you’re close with your family and they don’t mind Muggles, then they pop on over through the Floo Network as well.
  • Ben’s a bit apprehensive when it comes to parenthood.  It’s a Big Deal and he’s terrified about messing up a perfectly good child through bad parenting.  He hasn’t been around kids a lot, so he’s more inexperienced than actually inept.
    • If you don’t want kids: He’s totally fine with it, if anything it’s a relief for him.  There may be a small part of him that always wonders what it would’ve been like to have kids, but it’s not nearly enough to make him regret not having any.
      • Instead, the two of you save up money to travel to nice, non-scary places and make a lot of lovely memories together that way.
    • If you do want kids: He’d like one or two, any more and he is convinced he’d be tearing his hair out from stress.  He doesn’t really have any strong preference as far as gender goes, though he’s heard that girls are typically less of a handful so that’s where his slight bias toward a daughter comes from.
    • If you guys adopt: He’s very anxious about meeting prospective kids and ends up being a bit of an awkward mess while you two are searching for a match.  Once you find the right child(ren), he angsts over the more technical side of it as well, but it isn’t as bad.
  • As far as telling your friends about the new addition(s) to your family goes, you all go out and get some dinner together.  
    • The two of you just drop the bombshell casually halfway during dinner and enjoy everyone else’s reactions.  
    • You get some glares from the other diners due to the chaos that unfolds as everyone tries talking over each other at once to congratulate you two and ask questions.

 

Chapter Text

Feeling a bit better about yourself after having roped both Ben and Rowan into attending the Celestial Ball with you, you now turned your attention to the next target: Charlie Weasley.  There was no doubt that he would prove to be considerably more difficult to persuade, but you were going to give it your best shot.  The Celestial Ball just wouldn’t be the same without all of your friends there, after all.

Well, that and it was no secret that you fancied the Gryffindor, in fact, you were almost certain that the only person who didn’t know of your feelings was Charlie himself.

If you could get him to go as your date, you’d be in for a night you’d never be able to forget.

It wasn’t hard to find Charlie, he was perusing some books in the library, though the slight frown on his face suggested that he wasn’t finding what he was looking for.  Undoubtedly, he was trying and failing to find information on dragons that he hadn’t yet read.

You gently tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention, doing your best to put on a brave smile in spite of your anxiety.

“Hey,” he whispered as his frown shifted into a small smile, “What are you doing here?  I thought you were doing something with Ben, Rowan, and Andre today.”

“I just got done with that.  And … there’s something I wanted to talk with you about, if you have some free time.”

Charlie placed the book he had been flipping through back on the shelf before turning his blue eyes fully to you.  “What do you need?”

“Could we, um, go somewhere else to talk about this?  Somewhere we can actually talk, not just whisper.”

“Right, let’s go to the courtyard, then?”

You only gave him a small nod before the two of you left the library and made upstairs to the main floor.  With each step you took, your nervousness only grew.  The reality of rejection was looming overhead, becoming all the more stifling as you neared the courtyard in silence.

Finding a spot on the fountain’s ledge, he patted the spot next to you as an invitation to join him.  Hesitating for only a moment you sat down beside him, your back straight as a board.

“So, what is it you wanted to talk about?”

Finding the cold stone of the ledge suddenly uncomfortable, you shifted and tried to cross your legs to become more comfortable.  “It’s about the Celestial Ball, actually.”

“I’m not all that knowledgeable about dances and stuff, so if you want my help for something, I’m afraid I’m not—”

“—No, it’s nothing like that,” you said, gently cutting him off as you.

He only watched you with a mildly bemused expression on his freckled face, clearly not understanding what else you could mean.

“I know you said you weren’t going to go, since you’d rather do some studying for classes and on dragons, but,” you paused for a moment, turning your face downwards as you rubbed your hands together, “I was wondering if you would reconsider going?”

You didn’t dare look at him during the momentary silence that ensued, so you weren’t sure what to expect when he spoke up next.

“I mean … probably not?  I just don’t see myself enjoying a dance much when I could be working on becoming a prefect and learning more about dragons.”

“Ben and Rowan are going though, so you’ll be the only friend in our year who won’t be there.  I understand that you’re very serious about becoming Prefect, but one night off wouldn’t hurt any.  And I was kind of hoping that everyone could have a fun time together …”

You winced as you could feel your voice waver, your nerves were starting to get the better of you.  Due to still being unable to even look toward Charlie’s general direction, you were uncertain if the longer pause that followed was due to him noticing or if he was just considering your desire.

“When you put it like that, I—I might at least consider going.  Maybe.  But I don’t think me being there will make it any more fun, I’m not exactly dance material, after all.”

There was a warmth in his tone as he finished speaking, but you couldn’t help but feel your heart ache a bit.

Forcing up all of your courage, you managed to look over at him as you asked the question that you knew was liable to blow up in your face, “That’s no true at all, Charlie.  In fact, I was, um, I was hoping that we could maybe go together as like … date dates?”

Once more, you had to bite back a wince as the pitch of your voice shot up with the final word thanks to your nerves hitting their excruciating crescendo.  It sounded so juvenile, but you knew you had to be blunt given how oblivious the redhead was.  However, as soon as it was out in the open, you felt a touch bit better.  For a moment at least.

You got absolutely nothing in response, the blank look on his face seemed to indicate that his brain was currently experiencing radio silence. 

Wanting to downplay your mortification at his lack of a response, you waved your trembling hand in front of his face, “Earth to Charlie, are you still there?”

The teasing gesture seemed to do its job and snap him back to reality, though his blue eyes were wide with surprise.  “You … you want to go with me?  As a date?  Do you actually mean a friend date or …?”

“Yes, that is what I asked, but when I said date date I definitely didn’t mean it in the friend date way, but if you don’t want to, I totally understand!  I don’t want you to feel pressured into going just because I want you to, since I totally get it if you’d much rather study by yourself than come to the Celestial Ball with me,” you rambled, eyes dropping back to your hands as you prepared yourself for rejection.

“I didn’t—I had no clue,” he had to pause for a moment, you assumed to organize his racing thoughts, “I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have to apologize, if anyone should be sorry, it’s—”

“—No, I didn’t mean that like that,” he cut you off, a note of panic in his usually calm voice.

You spared a glance up, only to see Charlie bury his face in his hands, ears quite clearly turning red.  Unable to speak, you only waited for him to explain, clearly not understanding what he had meant then.

“I’m making a right mess of this, aren’t I?”  He took a deep breath before forcing his hands away from his face and making eye contact with you once more, “I meant that I was sorry for not noticing you felt that way.  I just … I kind of assumed you fancied Bill since you two are always together?  It’s not like I think about this kind of thing all the time …”

You could only stare at him incredulously for a few moments, shocked that he thought you liked his brother and not him.  “You really thought I fancied Bill?!  I’ve been trying to hint that I fancied you for at least a year now …”

His face managed to redden before he turned it away to focus his attention on the fountain’s water, “Ah, well … I didn’t, erm, I didn’t notice,” he cleared his throat before abruptly changing the topic, “But, uh, to answer your question.  I think I will take you up on the offer.”

“You will?!”

He slipped a hand up to rub the back of his neck, giving you an awkwardly charming half-smile.  “Yeah, even if dances aren’t really my forte, I think we could have a lot of fun together.”

A smile broke out over your own face as you did your best to fight back the urge to hug him in your excitement.  “Right, so we’ll meet up at the dance then?”

“I suppose so.  I’ll need to hunt down Andre to see if he can lend me some proper dress robes, but yeah.  See you then?”

“See you then.”

Unable to entirely help yourself, you leaned over and gave the Weasley a quick peck on the cheek before practically skipping off.  Your entire school year was made in that one conversation and you couldn’t wait for the ball!


Charlie ended up being grateful that he agreed to go as your date instead of keeping himself locked up in his dorm room with only his books for company.  Andre really outdid himself in arranging your outfit and he was even able to scrape something nice together last minute for Charlie.

The two of you spent the night dancing away and enjoying yourselves, although your date accidentally stepped on your toes more than a few times.  But best of all for him?  He got to spend almost the entirety of it talking with you about dragons and getting caught up on how you were doing, since the two of you hadn’t seen each other much that school year.  Never had he imagined that a school dance would be so much fun!

He wasn’t sure where your relationship would go from there, but he was excited for it.  Almost as excited as he was about dragons, which was really saying something.

Chapter Text

“Here to take advantage of a poor, sick boy?  Well, I certainly won’t complain,” Jae said.  If his insinuation laced tone wasn’t enough to tell you what he meant by ‘advantage,’ the stupid way he waggled his eyebrows at you was.

Unrolling the ice cold wet rag you had brought up to help cool his forehead, you dropped it on his face  He started at the contact, before quickly reaching up with a hand and pulling it off.  He only looked at you, dark eyes wide with mock offense.

“Oops, my hand slipped,” you said in the most deadpan voice you could muster.

Your fellow Gryffindor pursed his lips in response as he quirked a brow, clearly not buying your explanation.  After a short pause, he shrugged and rolled up the rag himself before placing it on his forehead.

Placing your hands on your hips, you asked him, “Is there anything you need?”

“Well, now that you’re here … no,” he winked.  Well, he tried to.  He actually just dramatically blinked instead.  It was so ridiculous that you had to cover your mouth to prevent yourself from outright laughing at it.

It almost made up for his embarrassingly bad attempts at flirting as a form of humor.  Almost.

You weren’t sure why he seemed to get ten times more insufferable and flirtatious in his feverish state, but it only seemed to get worse with each time you checked in on him.  Perhaps, if his mind wasn’t so fever addled, you would’ve been happy to have him flirt with you.  But as it currently stood, it seemed like this was just a weird byproduct of him being sick and making a joke out of it.  And it hurt.

“No, but seriously, is there anything you need?”

He narrowed his eyes before he stared up at the canopy over his bed, thinking.  It took a couple of moments before a cheeky grin broke out across his face and he glanced back over to you.  “My pillow’s feeling pretty 

Feeling your exasperation levels rise, you only stared at him for a couple of moments out of disbelief.  You let out a dramatic sigh before heading over to him and leaning down with hands at either side of his pillow, ready to get it over with to appease your sick friend.

“Lift up your head.”

He did so and you fluffed up his pillow, as requested, though you couldn’t help but feel a bit flustered by the close proximity.  His grin only grew in the process, you only hoped it wasn’t because he noticed you were blushing.

“See, that wasn’t so hard, now was it?  Almost seemed as if you liked it, even.”

You reached over and grabbed the second pillow on his bed and smacked his face with it.  “At this point, I’m more inclined to smother you than do that again with that attitude of yours.”

He let out a laugh, albeit a more anemic sounding one than usual, “I know you won’t.  You like me too much.”

“Wanna bet?”  The two of you stared at each other for a moment as you grabbed the pillow again and lightly pressed it to his face as a joke.  When you pulled it away, you threw the now slightly damp pillow back in its original place.

He playfully held his hands up above him, surrendering.  “Okay, okay, I shouldn’t have doubted you.  Let’s not soak my pillows any more though, please.”

“I won’t make any promises if you intend to keep this nonsense up …”

“What nonsense?”

Your brows knit together at that remark, since he sounded genuinely confused.  “You know, all the flirting.  I get that you’re not in your right state of mind … well, at least more so than normal, but it’s really not funny.”

You saw his expression shift to something almost pained for a second before he brought a hand up and pulled the damp rag down over his eyes.  “Right, though I wasn’t trying to be funny …”

The entire atmosphere shifted from something more playful and, well, normal to something unpleasantly heavy.  Feeling whiplash at the abrupt change, you could only stand and observe him before taking a step closer to the bed.

“Well, just what were you trying for then?”

He groaned, “I don’t know?  You’re right, I’m just … not thinking straight.”

“Jae—”

“It’s fine, don’t worry about it.  You can go now …”

Even though he couldn’t see you, you still shook your head as you took a seat on the edge of the bed.  Nudging his arm with one of your hands, you did your best to cover your concern with a playful tone as you said, “Oh no, I don’t think you’re getting off that easy.  What’s the matter?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Look, I’m taking the time to nurse you out of the goodness of my heart,” you paused due the words ‘because I care about you’ getting stuck in your throat.  Abandoning them, you continued forth, “If there’s something bothering you and making you act all weird, I’d like to know.  I’m here for you, you know.”

He placed his hand over the damp rag once more, pressing it down against his eyes.  You weren’t sure if it was the fever or something else, but it seemed like his face was redder than usual.

It took him a few moments to speak, “Fine.  I’ve just … I’ve been thinking a lot about the future lately?  We’re getting to that place where the professors are harping on us to think about what careers we wanna pursue, y’know?”

“Right,” you said, trailing off due to being uncertain as to where he was going with this.

“And it’s just … I don’t really know what I’m going to do once.  I have the whole contraband thing going on here, but that’s like … the only thing I’m good at.”

“That’s not true.  You’re plenty talented, you don’t just end up with a successful of a contraband business like yours without some solid skills, after all.”

Jae let out a mirthless chuckle at that and you felt your heart ache as he said, “Isn’t it though?  It’s not like those skills are really transferable to much else.  They’re pretty trade specific.”

You were silent, uncertain as to how to really respond to how he was putting himself down.  It didn’t seem like your honest affirmations would do much good, his mood seemed to have soured.  Before you could even take a stab at trying to cheer him up, he spoke up again and sounded even more vulnerable.

“And the worst part of it is that I don’t know if we’ll get to see each other after we graduate.  You seem like you have everything figured out and I … don’t.  It seems more and more likely that you’re just going to leave me behind after we graduate and I won’t get to see you anymore.”

Ah, that certainly brought it back around to the original subject.  However, it didn’t shed any more light on the subject for you, since his logic definitely seemed to be messed up from being sick.

“So you think that jokingly flirting with me will … help with that somehow?”

“They were entirely serious, flirting’s just not one of my skills, you see.  But, yeah, since if you end up dating me, I won’t have to worry about that, now will I?”

His earnest admission took you by surprise … and him as well, judging by the way his hand immediately shot down and over his mouth.  The dark blush across his face only made the action all the cuter, though it undoubtedly matched your own judging by how almost painfully hot your cheeks felt.

“Well, I like you too, you dork,” you said as you leaned over to lightly flick his forehead.  “You never needed to worry about me leaving you behind in the first place.  No matter where we end up going in life, it wouldn’t be the same without my favorite entrepreneur.”

It took a few moments for your words to sink in, though when they did, he managed to force his hand away from his mouth in order to pull the rag up slightly to peek at you.

He gave you a shy grin, “So does that mean we can pretend this didn’t happen and I can redo my confession?”

“Oh, absolutely not,” you said, letting out a light laugh.  “I’m not going to let you forget about it anytime soon.”

He dramatically dropped the cloth back down over his eyes before flopping his hand down on the bed.  “Fine, but you should fluff up my pillow and go to Hogsmeade on a date with me after I get better.”

You pretended to ponder over his offer for a few moments before dramatically scrunching up your nose and asking, “How about just the date?”

“Aha, gotcha with the oldest negotiating trick in the book!  I wasn’t interested in the pillow at all … although, admittedly I wouldn’t mind it since it’s still a bit flat.”

“Ugh, fine, but just to get you to shut up about it.  Consider yourself lucky that I really do like you too much to smother you.”

“Thanks, babe,” he said, his smug smile returning full force.

Your face only heated up further at that, but you fluffed the pillow and gave Jae a quick peck on the forehead before taking your leave.  As much as you wanted to keep spending time with him, as annoying as he could be in his feverish state, you knew he needed rest after that embarrassing conversation.

Chapter Text

  • Given how romantic Diego is, it really doesn’t take him long at all to propose to you after you graduate Hogwarts. 
    • The two of you move into a small apartment in a small city outside of London almost immediately.
    • You’re the best of the best and he knew he wasn’t about to let you slip through his fingers any time soon.
    • To him, you’re The One™ and he’ll stick with you through thick and thin.  He’s a loyal, determined man and will work hard to keep your relationship alive and well, no matter what.
  • His method of proposing may have been a bit cliche, but it was incredibly romantic and sweet.
    • Diego and you were out on an ordinary day trip to London on a surprisingly nice Fall day.  It’s peak autumn as far beauty goes, with the leaves being their most vivid.
    • Without much warning, he pulled you into a waltz and begins to monologue about how much he loves you.  
      • In true Diego Caplan fashion, he does refer to himself in the third person in this speech, but it’s more endearing than anything else at this point.
      • You may have had an idea about what was going to go down at this point, but sometimes he’s just Extra like this sometimes.
    • The two of you attract a bit of a crowd, they were confused about what you two were doing, but also … the two of you dance very well together so you were attracting some admirers too.
    • After he flawlessly delivers his monologue, he gets down on one knee and asks if you want to spend the rest of your lives together.
      • As you say yes, there’s some applause and ‘aw’s from the crowd, though neither of you really notice as you throw your arms around him and pull him into a kiss.
  • The wedding happens pretty quickly as well and you two keep it small, but it’s very nice and formal.  Diego insisted on only the best for your special day!
    • He gets a bit teary eyed watching you walk down the aisle.  His vows are incredibly romantic and the odds are good that you end up crying.  
      • The two of you are pretty much both crying from happiness by the time you seal the deal with your first kiss as a married couple.
    • But the reception afterwards is a hell of a good time, you two end up dancing the night away and just have a great time with your loved ones.
  • In terms of work, there are a lot of possibilities for Diego given his impressive skills, work ethic, and dedication.
    • In the interim, he ends up working as a guard at Gringotts.  Given his impeccable duelling ability and his sharp eye, he was a quick hire.
      • It’s definitely not a permanent fit for him, but it does pay very well and has decent benefits.  Plus, he does like the uniform and always feels extra powerful when he’s at work.
    • What he actually wants to do is become a general dance instructor, leaning toward ballroom dance specifically.
    • In a somewhat similar vein, he participates in duelling competitions and actually makes a good bit of change from those as well.
      • It doesn’t take him too terribly long to earn his coveted champion title thanks to his hard work and your help with training.
    • After he checks off that goal, he’ll get into competitive ballroom dancing, specifically Latin rather than Standard.
  • It takes about three years of diligent saving for you two to save up enough for a house, but you end up moving into a quiet wizarding suburb. 
    • It’s a really cozy home and the perfect size to start a family in.  The two of you make it your own first though!
      • For example, the entry way walls are covered with magical photos of you two together.  So they’re always the first thing you see when you return home.
  • Speaking of which, Diego very much wants to start a family together with you.  He’s fond of kids and they like him in turn, he’s the kind of person who is just excellent with children.  
    • The two of you talk about this kind of thing pretty early in your relationship, it came up when you two were discussing your hopes and dreams for the future.
      • If you don’t want kids: he’s incredibly understanding and he’ll end up becoming a dance instructor primarily for younger kids.  He finds it incredibly fulfilling and while it’s not the same, he’s perfectly happy with you by his side.
    • Otherwise, he’d ideally like three kids, maybe one more or less given on your financial situation and your wants.
    • If you end up adopting: he’s so excited to meet the kids and when you seem to find a match.  He spends so much time talking about how wonderful they are and how excited he is all through the long adoption process.  
      • When you guys finally bring your child(ren) home he has a whole bunch of activities planned to help them feel welcome and at home.
    • Diego is a super dad and spouse, he’s the emotional support pillar of the family and makes parenting feel a lot less stressful for you.  It’s not perfect, of course, but it’s pretty great.
  • As far as how you both go about telling your friends, you two keep it pretty simple.  Diego’s too excited to keep it a secret for too long, so you don’t do anything exciting.
    • You invite your friends over to your place for a little house party and you announce it together first thing.  The rest of the party is spent excitedly chatting about your growing family.
    • Things become more stressful as the war rolls in over the horizon though, as your futures become progressively more uncertain.  But you two take it one day at a time and just hope for the best, Diego’s optimism is a huge help in staying positive.

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  • Talbott has absolutely no idea about how to go about asking you out.
    • He has never really been that interested in romance before meeting you.  Hell, he wasn’t even that interested in friends before you and Penny dragged him into your friend group.
    • Eventually, either you end up asking him out first (to which he may feign a degree of disinterest while he agrees) or he panics after seeing you get closer to one of your other friends and just … bluntly goes for it.
  • He’s a big fan of study dates in the library or in the Ravenclaw common room if you’re a fellow eagle.
    • These aren’t the most romantic, but Talbott isn’t the most romantic guy in general … well, not on the surface at least.
      • They are very frequent and it’s actually super helpful for you since it helps you stay on top of your schoolwork.
      • He is amazing at tutoring you in Herbology and really loves getting to work close with you in the greenhouse.  He’ll stay focused, as always, but he may be a bit more hands on when it comes to instructing you than what is absolutely necessary.
    • It’s one of the ways in which he tries to help you out, in his own subtle way.
    • The two of you do take plenty of breaks and pass notes as a way of talking to avoid Madam Pince shushing you.
    • If you’re feeling especially bored, you can try and play footsie with him under the table and see how red you can get him to blush before he threatens to leave.
    • Additionally, if you don’t mind the Owlery, the two of you may just spend a lot of time chilling in the hay up there too.  
      • It’s a safe space for him and one that he doesn’t take sharing lightly.  The fact that he lets you in on that space says a lot about how much he’s come to trust you.
      • He’ll introduce you to everyone’s owls that he knows and share bits of information he’s learned about their behavior.  
        • He knows all of their names, mainly because before you—he didn’t really have any confidants outside of the birds.
  • While study dates may be the staple of your relationship while you’re at Hogwarts, the two of you do have weekly excursions to Hogsmeade.
    • He tends to prefer the quieter shops, the bookstore is his favorite in particular.  
      • The two of you often try to find the most ridiculous titled books or ones on the most obscure subjects imaginable.  It’s a lot of fun and you two have gotten some pretty good laughs from it.
      • He may also find some nice love poems and read them aloud to you, just to get you flustered (even if he also gets flustered in the process).
    • Of course, you’ll make a quick stop by the owl emporium and take a look at the various birds there.  He likes visiting with them and spouting all kinds of encyclopedic knowledge he has about the birds of prey there.
    • However, if you’re a fellow bird Animagus, the two of you will also go on flying dates around Hogwarts together.  They’re exhilarating and you both have a fantastic time.  There are also a ridiculous amount of bird puns made in your relationship.
      • If you’re good on a broom and like flying, then you may still have these flying dates.  He may even land on your broom to rest every once in a while.
      • The two of you will also make necklaces with a feather from the other as a pendant, it’s a small comfort to you both.  
        • He takes great care to make sure that he loses neither of his necklaces again, they’re his two most prized possessions.
  • Outside of the school year, the two of you stick to more traditional dates.  
    • You’ll go out for dinner together and just talk for a couple of hours, sometimes followed up by going on a walk in a quiet part of town or an evening flight.
    • However, day trips are also a thing.  If it’s up to him, the two of you may go do something like a nature hike on nice days or go visit some of London’s many bookstores to look around.
    • Dragging him to a theme park is really fun as well, he actually really likes rollercoasters.  He just hates all the people and the lines, so it takes some high level persuasion to get him there.
  • Talbott is very private and gets easily flustered if you try and engage in public displays of affection.  He’s not really the most affectionate person around, he mainly just struggles with initiating it, but he will gladly reciprocate anything you throw his way (so long as it’s in private).
    • Generally, he likes to always be in your general vicinity.  He just really enjoys your presence and company, even if he doesn’t like to admit it and may even deny it for a while.
    • Additionally, he is WEAK for having his hair played with, especially when it comes to having you run your fingers along his scalp.  It is the best feeling to him and he will melt.
    • He’s also an absolute sucker for holding your hand, so the main form of PDA you can get away with is handholding.  
      • He’ll never be able to meet your eyes if you’re holding hands in public, no matter how long you’re together.
      • He may mumble under his breath about it, but he really doesn’t mind at all.
    • The main form of affection he’ll actually be able to initiate is surprising you with a gentle hug from behind when you’re alone together.  He’ll just hold you close and rest his chin on your shoulder, continuing whatever conversation you had been having.
    • If he’s in an especially affectionate mood though, he may initiate cuddling by leaning over against you and nuzzling his face into your neck.
    • He does enjoy a good snogging session as well, but you have to initiate it since he’s too shy to do so for the first chunk of your relationship.  
      • As soon as you initiate it though?  He’ll take the lead from there.  They tend to get intense rather quickly.
      • He likes to pull you close and let his hands roam over your body, generally they’ll start cupping your face and then work their way down.  It’s rare for them to stay still for any prolonged period of time.
        • Talbott doesn’t realize that he’s actually quite handsy, it just comes naturally to him.
      • Tends to pour a lot of his emotions into his kisses, which is why they get so intense in the first place.
  • He’s more of a man of action than verbal words, so he’ll express his affection toward you through doing thoughtful things for you.
    • Anything he can do to make your life easier, he’ll do without hesitation.
      • Whenever you need his help for anything, all you have to do is ask.  He’ll seriously drop everything to help you.  Even though he may complain about it, but you know better than anyone that he doesn’t really mean it.
    • If it’s cold out, he’ll often lend you his coat and scarf if you seem like you’re getting cold.  
      • He’s quite the gentleman, overall, and big on holding doors open for you as well.
    • While he’s not the most spontaneous, he may rarely do something like surprise you with a copy of a book you mentioned wanting to read or even something like a bouquet of flowers.
      • Usually, he saves these gestures for when he knows you’re going through a hard time.  It’s his way of trying to bring you a little extra cheer and remind you that he’s there for you.
  • Talbott may not be a man of many words verbally, but he finds that writing is a perfect way to vent his emotions for you.
    • You’re the only person he shares his poetry with, though he has to share the love poems he writes for you through owl.
      • He’s too self conscious to do it in person, even if you love his poetry.  It’s … embarrassing, but in a good way.  A common theme he finds in being in a relationship with you.
    • He is among the most eloquent of the group in terms of writing, so consider yourself very lucky!
      • His prose isn’t quite as good as his poetry, as he has a real gift for the latter, but he’s still able to make you swoon.
    • When the two of you are apart for any stretch of time, he will send you more letters than anyone who doesn’t know him would probably expect.
      • They tend to be long and well thought out, as well.   He is far more communicative over text than verbally, even if he is more talkative with you.
      • He’s more at ease with writing than talking face-to-face with people, plus he’s able to think out what he wants to say and has time to make changes.
  • Arguments do happen from time to time, mainly over small things.
    • Talbott isn’t especially good at directly communicating how he feels with others, which is obviously not the best flaw to have in a relationship.  
    • It’s all new to him and he’s not used to trusting anyone else like he can with you.
    • The two of you learn how to communicate within a romantic relationship as you go along and things get a lot smoother as times goes by.  Talbott has to learn how to let someone in fully and let down some of his walls and he eventually does.
    • The two of you pretty much only have serious arguments over the Vaults, since he’s just terrified that he’ll lose you as well.  You’re not going to get away with trying to solve things on your own, he’s going to be right beside you so he can keep you safe.
      • If you do try and sneak around and he learns of it, there are going to be some very serious and intense arguments.  It’s not recommended.
    • If you consider a dangerous profession, there may be more arguments around that as well for a similar reason.  Generally, they’re more serious and he can be a bit hypocritical in them, given his drive to become an Auror.
  • Overall, Talbott’s romantic streak may be a bit deeper underneath the surface compared to most, but he’s very serious about your relationship and does his best to be there for you.  You’ll always have a fierce protector and confidant in him.

Chapter Text

  • Andre doesn’t rush into escalating the seriousness of your relationship, he’s going to go with the flow and wait until it feels right to take it to the next level.
    • Of course, he knows that he’s going to end up with you in the end.
    • The two of you have the rest of your lives to spend together and he wants to properly enjoy the serious dating part for what it is.
  • A little over a year after graduating from Hogwarts, the two of you end up moving in together and a few months after that is when the stars seem to align and everything feels right.
    • Andre had like twenty different ideas about how he was going to propose, he just needed to pick one and roll with it.  You’re so special to him and he really just wanted to make it an extremely memorable moment for you.
    • In order to try and get inspired, he always carried the ring in its little box around with him, he has a really secure inner pocket in all of his robes that he specifically kept it in.
    • Finally, after he plays an instrumental role in his Quidditch team winning a particularly tricky match, he impulsively pops the question when you run onto the pitch to give him his usual celebratory hug.  It just felt right.
      • You say yes, of course, and the crowd ends up cheering for the two of you.  It’s pretty Extra, but neither of you two really notice the crowd around you. 
  • Your wedding is seriously one to remember.  By the time the date of your wedding rolls around, Andre’s a fairly well-known Quidditch player in the British and Irish Quidditch league.
    • So your wedding ends up being a bit on the larger and fancier side, but it’s very tasteful.  Andre ensures that it’s just the right balance.
    • If you ask Andre to make your dress robes he will, but you end up designing them.  He just does the work.
      • He doesn’t want to actually see you in it until the big day, which isn’t an issue since he knows your measurements like the back of his hand.  If you need any alterations made, you can always go to a tailor anyways.
    • On your wedding day, he is so proud.  When you walk down the aisle to join him at the altar he’s just beaming.  You look stunning and he is convinced that he’s the luckiest man on Earth to have you by his side.
  • Andre may not have viewed himself as the best Quidditch player at Hogwarts, but he does make it onto a pro team!
    • He ends up on the Wimbourne Wasps to begin with and sticks with them, though he always wishes that he ended up with the Pride of Portree.  
    • However, he’s practical and knows that pro Quidditch careers tend to be quite short due to how physically taxing it is on the body.
    • So, he saves most of the money he earns with the hopes to open up a clothing shop and make some of his own clothing once his Quidditch career is over.
      • His time at Hogwarts really helped him realize that he has a talent and passion for it.
    • An important part of this dream is that it will turn into a bit of a family business, if you’re willing, of course.
  • The two of you end up living in a nice, medium-sized house in Suffolk thanks to your mutual saving over the course of a few years.
    • You guys have a ridiculous amount of Quidditch memorabilia in your house.
      • There’s a lot of merch for both the Wasps and the Prides.
      • You have some pretty nice displays of your husband’s old jerseys up, along with any brooms he may have had broken while playing.
      • Lots of signed posters from other teams as well, you always ask for them on Andre’s behalf so they don’t think he’s a fanboy.
    • Andre also uses the study of the house as a sewing room, he likes to design dress robes and the like in his free time—specifically for you.
      • He makes you something special for each pro Quidditch event you accompany him to and the two of you always look stunning!  You’re well known for being the sharpest dressed in attendance.
  • As far as having a family goes, Andre’s very open to it.  The two of you are financially stable and your relationship is incredibly healthy and supportive, so he thinks you’re in a great position to start a family.
    • If you don’t want any children: He’s totally understanding and the two of you save up your money for the future.  
      • His project to run the clothing shop becomes a large focus in his life, especially if you’re working right alongside him on it.
    • If you do want children: He’d be perfectly happy with, though he feels like two would probably the most reasonable number.  
      • Whatever gender combination you two end up doesn’t matter to him, they’re all going to learn how to fly a broom at an early age and have plenty of wonderful handmade outfits by their dad.
    • If you end up adopting: He really hopes any child(ren) the two of you end up raising together is going to like Quidditch, since he plans on teaching them all the tricks he knows.  
      • The day you get approved is one of the happiest of his life.  He’s super excited to take on the challenge of raising a family together with you.
    • Either way, he ends up spending most of his free time reading up on parenting skills and the two of you take some parenting classes.
  • When it comes to telling your friends of your growing family, the two of you host a small party specifically just to make the announcement.
    • Andre devises a riddle for the reveal, all the fellow Ravenclaws have flashbacks to the damn door knocker because it’s that good.  
    • But Rowan ends up figuring it out quickly, as he expected, though they don’t tell right away and let the others suffer for a few minutes before Penny cracks it and blurts the answer out.

 

Chapter Text

  • Just about all of your friends get frustrated watching the two of you pine over each other, but being far too oblivious to notice you fancy each other.  They held a meeting in order to plan out what they’re finally going to do about it …
  • The Very Involved Squad
    • Rowan, Penny, Tonks and Tulip, Liz, and Diego
    • Rowan and Penny were the brains, Tonks and Tulip were the back ups, and Diego and Liz ended up being at the center of the scheme.
    • Basically, they planned that shortly after Care of Magical Creatures, for Diego to drop by and make a big deal about asking you to Hogsmeade right in front of Barnaby.
    • If that didn’t work, then Liz would step in and invite Barnaby to Hogsmeade, since they were good friends, in the hopes that it’d make you jealous.
    • If neither work, then Tulip and Tonks are there to generate some chaos as a distraction and enable Diego to put his duelling skills to a different use and knock you and Barnaby into a (hopefully) compromising position before everyone flees.  Hoping that would be enough to get you two together.
  • The Peripheral Squad
    • Ben, Bill, Andre, Badeea, and Chiara
      • These guys were mainly just in the background as far as planning went.
      • Ben was a bit nervous about meddling in your two’s lives, but he provided some feedback as to all of the things that could go horribly wrong … which was useful.
      • Bill was too busy to stick around for very long, since being Head Boy and prepping for his N.E.W.T.s ate up all of his time.
      • Andre and Badeea were a little more active in planning, but they ended up getting distracted since this type of thing isn’t really their area of specialty.  Andre did offer his services in designing outfits for the two of you, if you do end up being able to go on a date though.
      • Chiara was mainly just there for moral support, though she provided some useful suggestions.
      • None of them made any super direct contributions as to what they should do though, which is why they were more on the sidelines than anything else.
  • The Useless Squads
    • Jae, Charlie, and Talbott
      • Jae was too lazy to put much of an effort in, though if the others needed any contraband, he was willing to give them a meager discount.  As far as he’s concerned, it’s not really any of his business and he’s got more important things to do.
      • Charlie’s just oblivious and doesn’t really get why it’s such a big deal, he’d rather do homework and read a new book about dragons he got.
      • Talbott’s not a romantic guy and would’ve just told the two of you two to get together, pointblank.  If you like each other, then why does everyone need to make some weird plan???  It seems impractical.
    • Merula and Ismelda
      • Merula is willing to stick her nose in your business with the Cursed Vaults, but your romance life?  Ha!  No.  Especially not with Barnaby, of all people.
      • Ismelda is over Barnaby, but she’s not good at romance and stays in her own lane.  She wants the two of you to be happy after how you helped her, but she’s fine with just sitting back and watching it play out.
  • The End Result?
    • It worked … sort of.
    • You ended up figuring out what they were doing, you managed to catch sight of Tulip and Tonks, who weren’t hiding all that well behind some trees.
    • When Diego began to very bluntly flirt with you, right as you were standing next to Barnaby you just knew something was up.
    • Your Slytherin crush just stood there, looking between the two of you with looking like a dejected puppy dog, until Diego ended up asking you to Hogsmeade that Saturday.
      • He was obviously jealous, even you were able to tell that much and it was in that moment that you put everything together.
    • Barnaby ended up surprising his fellow duellist by saying that the two of you already had plans made for that Saturday.
      • He does so as he steps between the two of you, since while he wasn’t sure as to why he was feeling so upset over the way the Hufflepuff was talking to you, he still needed to do something about it.
      • You confirmed as much to Diego, as you peered at him from over Barnaby’s shoulder, but explain that it’s just as friends.
      • Even with his back facing you, you can just see the way his shoulders droop and how he lowers his head.
      • Seizing the initiative, you ended up asking if Barnaby would like to upgrade it to a date instead.
      • Immediately, he perks right back up and spins around in order to pull you into a painfully tight hug.  That’s really all the answer you need and you do your best to return the hug.
        • It’s difficult to do so though, considering that he has your arms pinned at your sides in his bear hug.
    • Diego and Liz take their leave, not wanting to disrupt the nice moment you two were having.  Tonks and Tulip end up being disappointed that they don’t get to cause any chaos, but they save their tricks for the castle to play a prank on Filch instead.
    • Apparently, they didn’t even need an elaborate series of planning, since you guys apparently didn’t need that much of a push to get there.

Chapter Text

  • Jae is actually pretty forward after he realizes that he fancies you, he just doesn’t have the energy to put up a whole act.  Only a partial one.
    • It really just takes him a while to come to the realization that he actually likes you, since he was in denial over it for a hot minute.  
    • He does flirt with you, but he always makes it seem like a joke, so it stays in that Schrödinger’s area of ‘Did he mean it or is he just messing with me?’ since he’s trying to get a feel for if you return his feelings.
    • Outside of that though, he stays quiet and bides his time until he has a good idea that you do.  He doesn’t want to make an idiot out of himself if he can help it, after all.
    • He ends up just bluntly asking you out on a date to get a Butterbeer at Hogsmeade together and plays it casual when you say yes, even though he’s screaming on the inside out of happiness.
  • Your dates are often quite chill, though he may use any dates to Diagon Alley to also run some errands during.
    • His favorites are probably just going to grab a bite to eat with you while chatting and engaging in some banter.
    • If you two do something in Diagon Alley he’ll excuse himself for a few minutes to stop by Knockturn Alley and do a spot of business while he’s there.  
      • He always keeps it nice and short, mainly because he wants to waste as little of your time together as possible.
    • On breaks, he loves going to the Muggle movies with you, especially during slow times when you guys stand a good chance of being the only ones at a showing.
      • If the two of you do end up alone, you’ll get to enjoy some banter as the two of you commentate on whatever you’re watching.  
      • He’ll keep his arm draped around you all the while, though he’ll do that even if you aren’t alone together.
  • The two of you have a lot of fun during detention, even more so than usual.
    • Jae ends up actually being more motivated to make you laugh during it, so he’ll often mock Pitts behind the House Elf’s back whenever he’s in one of his grumpy moods.
    • He’ll make up for it by flirting with you and teasing you a little bit, trying to frustrate you in a different way.
  • In terms of affection, Jae is very generous with his since it’s his main way of showing you how he cares.  He can’t be bothered to care too much if other people are around when it happens.
    • This boy is a huge fan of cuddling.  
      • If you’re a fellow Gryffindor, the two of you spend a lot of your time outside of classes cuddling on the sofa in the common room.  Or sharing an armchair together.  
      • He just likes lounging together with you, especially if you guys end up napping together.
      • If you’re from another House, you’re able to fully enjoy this behavior while you’re on break.
    • He’s similarly fond of snogging sessions, though he does prefer to be in private since he’s not that shameless.
      • These are especially common after detention sessions, the two of you will often sneak into a nearby empty classroom and make out.  His attempts at frustrating you are effective, to say the least.
    • Will lend you some of his hoodies, if you want, since he honestly really likes how you look in them, it’s cute.
    • He’s very fond of teasing you as well, though he’s careful about never going too far about it.  It’s all in good fun.  He’s a big fan of banter in general and that’s something that carries over from your detention buddy status into your romantic relationship.
      • Watching you get all flustered and knowing that he’s the reason why is satisfying for him.
    • Not the best at traditional romantic gestures though.  
      • Like, he may write you some joke love letters, but you’re not really going to get anything super serious from him.
      • He just feels really embarrassed expressing himself like that, plus he’d rather use his energy to spend his time with you.
  • There are definitely some perks to dating the resident contraband dealer at Hogwarts!
    • Normally, Jae would never consider giving discounts to his buyers, since his prices are already reasonable.  
    • However, for you?  You sometimes can get things on the house.  Provided that they’re for the Vaults, otherwise you just get a 5% discount.
      • Even if you don’t ask him for things, you may just have something slipped into your robes’ pockets that can prove useful to whatever it is you’re doing.  He’s sneaky like that.
    • You can also make use of his connections at Knockturn Alley with no questions asked if there’s something you need.  He’ll handle everything for you.
    • This can also be a bit of a downside if you’re a prefect, especially a Gryffindor prefect.  You end up having to do your best to help him work around the rules and turn a blind eye when you can, but there are times where you have to take away House points.
  • As far as arguments go, he’s pretty permissive and it really takes something serious to get him worked up enough to snap.
    • The kind of situation that would bring this about is something like you pushing him away due to your obsession with the Vaults.
    • In those instances, he’s more inclined to give you the cold shoulder after you argue.  Mainly because he’s hurting and isn’t good at expressing that.  
    • It’s up to you to extend the olive branch first, though he gets better about not avoiding you after an argument as things go forward and he learns how to better communicate with you.
  • Overall, Jae is a chill partner with a great sense of humor and a propensity for cuddling, though he can be a bit emotionally aloof at times.

 

Chapter Text

You and your husband were following Remus and a couple of Hogwarts’ staff members to set up the castle’s defenses.  Within the course of a couple of hours, you knew that people were going to die.  The thought of anyone you cared about being included in that demographic left a sour taste in your mouth.

Honestly, what mattered most is that you and Barnaby would make it out of there alive.  You had a child to raise together, a future to live out together.  Neither of you were willing to remain behind at home and sit out this battle, it just felt wrong.  However, it did mean that there was the risk that your only child would become an orphan of war.  The thought was beyond unsettling and you could feel your hands begin to tremor.

Glancing over toward the love of your life, you reached out and took his hand in your own.  He glanced over at you from the action, fear also present in those beautiful green eyes of his as he intertwined his fingers with yours.

“Are you okay?”

Of course he was thinking more about you than himself, even though he was the one who was liable to fight his own flesh and blood in the upcoming fight.  “No, but I will be once this battle’s over and we get to go home.”

He nodded in understanding before a small, tentative smile broke out on his face, “I know, I can’t wait to get back home to Jacob …”

You felt a stab of pain in your chest from thinking about your infant son, he was only a little bit older than.  There was nothing more in the world you wanted in that moment to already be back home, safe and sound with your family intact.

“Me too.  I’m glad that Tonks and her mom were willing to look after him for the time being, Teddy and him seem to get on quite well.”

Remus glanced over his shoulder, tuning in when he heard his wife’s name mentioned.  “They do, don’t they?  I’m sure they’re sound asleep together as we speak.”

“I’d hope so,” you said, feeling some reassurance soothe your nerves, just grateful that your son was safe and sound, “But after the battle’s over, how about we all go to Andromeda’s place and just … relax together to celebrate?”

“You’re young, I’d imagine you’d rather celebrate instead?  That’s the type of request I’d expect from an old man, like myself,” he said, letting out a low chuckle.

“No, I just think both Barnaby and I would rather enjoy some peace and quiet with our friends more than anything else.”

Your husband squeezed your hand, a silent way of expressing his agreement.

“Well then, there’s nothing I’d love more than that,” he turned his gaze back to the front as you all came to a stop at the side of the castle and continuing, “But for now, let’s make the Death Eaters work to get in, shall we?  Protego Maxima.

Fianto Duri,” you said.

“Wait, what am I supposed to cast again?  Think I missed this one in DADA …”

You shook your head, but gave him a small smile regardless, “Repello Inimicum would be a good place to start.  We’re supposed to alternate as we go along …

Right, thanks!”  He leaned over and gave you a quick peck on the lips to express his gratitude before casting the spell. “Repello Inimicum.”

You all continued to cast the protective enchantments as the blue and white barrier spread and connected with the protective charms the others were putting up simultaneously.  As you worked with Barnaby at your side, you couldn’t help but feel a little more secure under the cool light of the expanding, magical barrier.

Everyone returned to the Great Hall to be assigned their stations for the battle that was looming ominously over everyone.  You and Barnaby were to split up, due to his strong duelling capabilities he was assigned to fight in the courtyard.  You ended up being able to stick with Lupin at least, one familiar face to fight alongside would bring you some comfort.

Outside of them, you saw that Penny was also going to be near the front, since apparently she had.  Tulip and Merula were also two other familiar faces you spotted, they were going in the opposite wing of the castle from you and Remus.  Familiar heads of red hair also stood out, it seemed like all the Weasleys were present and fighting as well.  However, you didn’t see anyone else in the dense crowd, but you did hear many other familiar names.  

It unnerved you more than anything else, all of these people you knew and loved could be killed and just be … gone after this night.  It was scary.  The gravity of the situation was beginning to finally sink in and you almost wished you had been able to sit by at your home with your baby boy safe in your arms.

Feeling numb from such thoughts, Barnaby lingered at your side when everyone began to disperse and looked over at Remus, who was already standing next to you and ready to go, “Please just … keep the love of my life safe.”

You couldn’t help but feel yourself start to tear up at the usage of the term the two of you used to refer to each other.  Normally, it only made your heart flutter in happiness, even after the years the two of you had been together.  But in that moment?  It made you wonder if it was the last time you were going to hear it.

He looked between the two of you, brown eyes soft with sympathy, “Of course.  I promise I’ll do everything I can.”

Barnaby shared, “Thanks.  Can you give us a moment?”

“I’ll just wait at the entrance to the Great Hall for you,” he gave you two a small nod before he left you alone.

As soon as he was out of hearing range, Barnaby leaned down before grasping both sides of your face and pulling you in for a deep kiss.  It was enough to knock your breath away as you returned it, doing your best to ignore the tears that were streaming down your cheeks as you did so.  The kiss was too short, it always would’ve been too short.

The two of you just looked at each other for a few moments, catching your breaths after the intense kiss.

“I love you and, no matter what, I promise we’ll go over to Andromeda’s place together after all this is over and take turns holding Jacob, okay?”

His words lulled you into a false sense of comfort, you may have known that no matter what, neither of you could control what was about to happen.

“I love you too, and okay,” you said, sniffling to fight back your tears as you continued, “We got through the Vaults together, so this shouldn’t be any different, right?”

“Right.”

He kissed you one last time, though this time was sweeter and shorter than the other.  “Let’s meet up here once the battle’s over, so that way we can find each other.”

“That’s—That’s what we’re supposed to do, Bee.”

“Oh, is it?”

Even in this situation, you couldn’t help but let out a laugh at his endearing empty-headedness, as you preferred to call it, though there was an unusual hint of force behind it.  There was still something comforting about it surfacing even then; it felt normal.

He let out a small chuckle himself when you gave him a nod and rubbed the back of his neck, “Guess I should’ve paid a bit more attention, huh?”

“Yeah, probably.”

“—Lee!  We need you up here at once,” McGonagall called out from somewhere beyond the entrance, undoubtedly projecting her voice with a spell.

His hand immediately dropped back to his side, eyes going wide at the commanding tone of his former professor, “Yes, ma’am!”

He lingered near you no longer, though he did glance back at you with a longing gaze every so often.

You stared after him, trying to shake off the foreboding coldness pooling in your stomach from the thought that … that might be the last time the two of you would see each other.  

It couldn’t be.  

Barnaby was tough and so were you and you had your futures together to live out.  You did get through the Vaults and you’d get through this too.

Repeating that mantra in your head, you wiped away your tears before strolling over to where Remus was still waiting for you with your head held high.

It wouldn’t be.


As the defenses broke apart, you and Remus could only watch helplessly as Voldemort’s army descended upon Hogwarts.  Barnaby was somewhere in the brunt of the frontline and you just … you didn’t want to think about it.

Thankfully, you didn’t have too much time to do so.  Within a couple of minutes, members of the opposing army were inside of the castle and the fight came to you.

Dolohov was leading the particular pack of Death Eaters you were facing alongside Remus and a few others, mainly older students, along with some staff and members of the Order.

Lupin called out your name after Dolohov fired off a Killing Curse that sailed over your shoulder, dangerously close to hitting you.  “Fall back!”

“And leave you?  No, I won’t—”

“Go!  And take the students with you.  Now,” he commanded, casting aside a couple of Dolohov’s rapid fire attacks, “I can only hold Dolohov back for so long.

You quickly cast a Protego charm to save a nearby Hufflepuff from getting gravely injured.  Feeling your heart pound, you shook your head, unable to conceive of leaving your friend behind.

“Remus—”

GO!” he shouted, temper getting the better of him as he fired off a powerful jet of blue light toward Dolohov.  The Death Eater effortlessly knocked it aside, a twisted smirk growing on his face as he continued to close the gap between them.

“You can’t keep the kids safe, Lupin.  They’ll either die by my hand or someone else’s … just like you will.”

You couldn’t help but feel like you were leaving him to die as you managed to yell out to the kids to regroup and follow you out of the hall.  All the while, your eyes kept falling back to the duel, each time Dolohov seemed a little closer and Remus the more worn down.

As you fell back, managing to take a lesser Death Eater by surprise by lighting their robes aflame, you thought you heard a familiar voice shriek out Remus’s name.  It made your blood run cold in your veins, but surely … you had hallucinated it.  Tonks was supposed to be at Andromeda’s with her child, not at the castle.

Hallucination or not, it made you pause as the students poured past you and down the stairwell, now making their way down to the center of the castle and, undoubtedly, into new danger.

In your frozen state, you almost got hit by a Cruciatus curse, thankfully you managed to snap back to your senses and dodge it just in time.  Firing back with a potent Reductor curse, of which you had little control over in your heightened emotional state, you ended up blasting the Death Eater bastard into dust.

Pushing on, you continued the fight, doing your best to try and find some more familiar faces and help those who you could in the chaos.  Anything to avoid thinking about that voice you heard.

You didn’t want to think about it.


To say you were grateful when the truce was called would be an understatement of the century.  As you fought, you had ended up stepping over the bodies of the injured and deceased of both sides.  It was horrifying.  But at least now you could return to the Great Hall and regroup, checking in on your friends and Barnaby.

On your way there, you found an injured teenager in Gryffindor robes, she was severely burned and had managed to twist her ankle on the way down.  As much as you just wanted to rush to the Great Hall, you knew you couldn’t let this kid lay here and suffer any longer than she had to.  You helped them get back up on their feet and draped one of her arms around your shoulders

As you entered with the injured girl in tow, the air of the room was somber and heavy.  You walked her over to Madam Pomfrey and the other first aid helpers, dropping her off before you dared to see whose bodies were lining the center of the Great Hall.  The longer you could put it off, the better.

Immediately upon turning around, you spotted the Weasley family surrounding one of the stretchers.  One of the twins was absent and only one of the twins.  Your heart went out to them, but you would join them in mourning later.

As you moved past them, hoping beyond hope to spot your husband somewhere, your eyes instantly fell upon another sight that made you freeze in place.  Tulip was kneeling down beside two more bodies, crying into Merula’s robes as she held onto the other witch for dear life.  Tonks laid there, once so full of life and now lifeless, beside her husband who you had just been fighting beside within the last hour.

They were dead and gone.

You couldn’t stomach the sight and as soon as you were able to regain control over your body, you pushed on.  Willing the tears that were threatening to fall and panic that was settling into your system to stay at bay.  You felt light-headed and disoriented, but there was something you needed to do yet.

You had to find Barnaby then.  You had to find Barnaby now.

Repeating it like a mantra in your head, you were able to stay sane and push on.  And for a few moments, everything was fine.  Most of the dead weren’t people you knew, they were unfamiliar faces.  Strangers who had fallen nobly in battle.  You knew you should’ve cared more, but after the shock of seeing two beloved friends of yours

It wasn’t until you saw Penny sitting on the ground, curled up into a ball with her face buried in her hands, in front of a bodied covered in a sheet.  As she was alone, you felt compelled to stop and make sure she was okay.  Kneeling down beside her, you gently called her name to let her know you were there.

She started and looked up at you, eyes overflowing with tears.  When you placed a hand on her back and began to gently rub, she broke out into heavy crying and threw her arms around your neck.  You almost stumbled backwards, but you were able to use your free hand to stabilize yourself.  Not knowing what else to do, you began to rub her back as your eyes drifted over to the body she was mourning over.  You couldn’t tell who it was thanks to the sheet, but you knew it had to be someone you knew.

After a few moments like that, Penny abruptly cried out, “I’m sorry, I’m so so so sorry, I didn’t—I couldn’t—”  She broke into hysterical sobbing, more words tumbled out of her mouth but they were entirely unintelligible to you.

You held her close in a hug and began to rub her back, questions sticking in your throat as that sickening sense of dread from before the battle returned in full force.  After what felt like minutes, you were finally able to force out a question.  “Why … Why are you sorry?”

Your voice sounded higher and unfamiliar than usual, it didn’t feel like you had actually asked it.  

“B-Barnaby … he—he,” she only pulled a hand away from you and pointed at the sheet covered body in front of you two, “He saved me when—when I got attacked by Fenrir, but he—”

She couldn’t say anymore as her crying became absolutely hysterical once more.  It didn’t feel like you were moving your own body as you pulled away from your dear friend.  You moved toward the body and pulled back the sheet to see the face of the corpse lying there.

You stared at the now unseeing emerald green eyes, the very same ones that had welled up with tears on your wedding day and when he held your newborn son for the very first time.  His face was relaxed and calm, muscles perfectly still under the skin.  It was eery, if his eyes were closed you almost could have pretended that he was asleep …  

Noticing some red in the corner of your vision, your entire body stilled as your breath turned shallow.  Your eyes drifted toward his neck, only to be met with the terrible sight of deep gashes, claw marks and bites.  Drying blood stained his pale skin and what you could see of his tattered shirt, it was evident that he had died from severe blood loss.  You didn’t even have to consciously process it to know the terrible fate that had befallen your beloved Barnaby.

Your lungs felt as if they stopped functioning then, you couldn’t breathe.  You couldn’t think; you couldn’t feel.

The world stopped for you in that moment as the grave reality of your loss sunk in, turning your heart into a cold stone within your chest.

You felt like you were watching yourself now, a mere observer to whatever your body was doing on its own.  You watched yourself break into tears, cradling the love of your life’s head in your arms.  Penny crawled over to you, wrapping her arms around you, as the two of you grieved together.  Just crying and not exchanging any words for the rest of the truce.


Once the battle was over, you returned to Andromeda’s house with a grief-filled heart, carrying the heavy burden of having to break the news of her daughter’s and son-in-law’s death.  

You did so alone.  Barnaby’s now broken promise and Lupin’s words from before the battle repeating on a loop in your mind.

There was nothing to celebrate after the war, just unimaginable pain and mourning that you would carry for the rest of your life.  The only hope you now had was that Jacob’s future would be brighter and that his father’s sacrifice would not be in vain.

Chapter Text

The Battle of Hogwarts, as it would later come to be known, was in full swing as you stumbled down the main stairwell, mind scrambled from the sheer chaos of it all.  Wand drawn and slashing through the air to cast both shield enchantments and curses to thwart the Death Eaters  You were really just doing your best to protect the group of students that you were corralling to somewhere safer on Lupin’s orders.

However, in the back of your mind you couldn’t help but wonder if Remus was okay, if perhaps you really had just imagined hearing Tonks’s voice.  Still, it was enough to scare you straight and worry about your own husband.

Barnaby.  You needed to get to him and make sure he was okay, waiting until the battle was over was no longer a viable option.  

Once you escorted them to an offshoot, you parted ways with the group and bolted for the courtyard.  Hoping against all hope that Barnaby would still be there.

However, before you could even make it outside, you heard a familiar voice shriek out in fear from upstairs.  Penny.

You stormed up the nearest marble staircase, panic quickly roiling in your stomach.  This wasn’t a hallucination, you knew that your potioneer friend was there.  Really there.  As much as you wanted to just find Barnaby, you weren’t about ready to let something disastrous happen to Penny if you could help it.

The jets of green and red light that zoomed around you faded out of your mind, coming to your friend’s aid was the only thing you could think of.

As you glanced around the upper hall, immediately spotting the familiar head of golden hair and immediately feeling your stomach drop.  She was on the ground, with her back pressed against the wall—Fenrir Greyback towered over her with a sadistic smirk on his face, blood dripping down his jaws.  There were other Death Eaters scattered about, engaging with some other fighters, none of whom you recognized, but there were also bodies of injured or dead—all horrifically mauled.

Even in his human form, he was still just as terrifying as ever and merciless.

From the opposite side of the hall, you saw Barnaby rush in—apparently, he heard Penny’s call too.  He was alive.  Fenrir was too focused on his terrified prey to notice the two of you as you momentarily stared at each other out of relief.  The sounds of the battle raging on around you had been enough to drown out your footsteps from his notice.

However, that spell was quickly shattered when the man made a move to bend down and grab Penny.

Barnaby was quick to intervene as he waved his wand and shouted, “Stupefy!

Fenrir reacted just in time to deflect the red bolt of light, he turned to face him.  “Ah, you’re a Lee, aren’t you, kid?”

Before your husband could respond you were quick to cast a non-verbal Reductor Curse, hoping to catch the vile man off guard.

“Fen—”

The shout of another man on the Death Eaters’ side from nearby was enough to tip him off and he quickly cast a Shield Charm to counter your spell.  The other werewolf wasn’t so lucky, his breach of concentration ended up getting him knocked over the bannister and down the flight of stairs nearby. 

The werewolf looked between the two of you, hesitating for a moment as he calculated the best course of attack.  It was enough time for Penny to get up and run behind you, trembling as her hands dug into your shoulders.  You and Barnaby kept your wands aimed at him, though, ready to try and handle whatever Fenrir was about to throw at you.

However, something, or someone, else seemed to catch Fenrir’s attention as he seemed to decide you two weren’t worth the hassle before bolting down a nearby hall.  You knew better than to pursue him after your encounter with him all those years ago as a student at Hogwarts.  It was a relief to you that you noticed Barnaby didn’t run after him either, instead he bolted over to you and Penny.

The three of you quickly moved down the hall and, as you passed there was a loud commotion off of the nearby balcony lined hall where Fenrir had run to.  You didn’t want to know what had happened.

You just wished this hell would be over already.

Barnaby, Penny, and you stuck together for the remainder of the battle, though your friend was too shaken up from the werewolf encounter and carnage she had witnessed to be much help in duelling.  She did, however, provide you and Barnaby with some helpful healing potions, which proved to be lifesavers.

Somehow, by the time the truce was called, all three of you were still alive.  Never in your life had you been more thankful for anything than in the moment the Death Eaters began their retreat.  However, Penny ended up getting injured, her left leg severely burned in some crossfire, and you and Barnaby had to help her slowly make her way back down to get treatment.

However, that gratitude died as soon as you entered the Great Hall.  The stifling atmosphere of what was normally the hub of Hogwarts was unbearable, the silence deafening.  The only sounds were the sobs of those who were mourning the recently fallen, whose bodies now lined the center of the expansive room.

Your stomach dropped to see the Weasleys gathering around, one of the twins was missing and you knew.  Your eyes then drifted over to Tulip and Merula who were crouched on the floor, your former Ravenclaw friend was clinging to the Slytherin as she sobbed.  Never had you seen Tulip so broken up and it was terrible.

You had a feeling you knew who she was mourning, but you didn’t want to believe it.  You couldn’t.  Tonks wasn’t supposed to be there.  She was supposed to be at home with her mother, looking after both Teddy and your son.

Barnaby noticed your momentary distraction and whispered softly to you, picking up on the somber mood, “Hey, let’s get Penny to Madam Pomfrey, okay?”

You could only nod, the extreme degree of dread welling up inside of you made it nearly impossible to talk.  After helping the injured woman over to get the help she needed, the two of you approached the infirmary area and handed her off to be tended to by the capable hands of the nurses.

Once that was done, you both turned around to face the center of the hall, you glanced over at him before reaching out and gently grasping his hand in your own.  He gave you a nod and the two of you began to move forward. 

You released his hand as you neared the row of bodies and hung back, unable to look at their dead bodies since that would make it real.  You couldn’t.  And you didn’t know if you could stand the sight of someone as vibrant with life as Tonks dead.  Not yet, possibly not ever.

Barnaby didn’t make it much closer, just enough to take a peak, before retreating back to you.  The heartbroken expression on his face was the only confirmation you needed that the worst case scenario was true.  He pulled you close into a hug, burying his face against your neck as he sniffled—trying his best to fight back the tears that were threatening to fall.

You just held him as you began to silently cry, screwing your eyes shut to avoid running the risk of glancing at your dearly departed friends.

The extent of the loss didn’t sink in then, though it would soon enough.


Facing Andromeda was terrible, but it was unavoidable since you needed to pick up your son.  The fact that you were both standing there before her, instead of her family, felt perverse beyond description.  You left her to mourn the death of her daughter and son-in-law in peace, taking Jacob back home.

Speaking that cruel reality aloud finally solidified its repulsive truth for you.

When you and Barnaby returned to your humble home, you plopped down on the couch and the grief just seemed to crash down upon you all at once.  You burst out into tears as you cradled your infant son close to you.

Your husband joined you, wrapping an arm around your shoulders as he leaned his head to rest against yours.  Without even looking at him, you could tell that he was crying as well, the gentle tremors of his.  The two of you just stayed like that for a time, though it wasn’t until Jacob joined in on your crying as well that you finally took action.

As much as you didn’t want to let go of your child, you knew that given your emotionally unstable state, you were liable to only further upset your child by holding onto him.  With a deep breath to try and stabilize your emotions, you stood up and Barnaby followed suit, not removing his arm from around you all the while.

You walked into Jacob’s nursery together and placed your beautiful son back into his crib, safe and sound.  While he was still making a fuss, you knew he’d calm down soon enough.  The two of you left the room without exchanging a word.  

It wasn’t until after you had closed the door with a soft click that you dared to speak, voice barely above a whisper as a smile crept across your face.  “We made it.”

That realization finally sunk in, the relief finally washing over you and overtaking the grief that had sundered your heartstrings such a short time ago.  As much as you regretted the loss of so many good people and felt guilty that you had survived, while they had not, there was something joyous about knowing the worst was over.  And that the love of your life was still there, beside you.

Perhaps it was selfish and terrible of you, but you couldn’t be bothered to care.  Not then at least.

“I told you we would,” he said as he wrapped his other arm around you, pulling you into a close embrace.

Not missing a single beat, you quickly wrapped your arms back around him and buried your face against his chest, just enjoying the comforting sound of his heartbeat.

“I love you, Barnaby.”

“I love you too,” he said before pressing a gentle kiss to the crown of your head.

In that moment, you didn’t care that the two of you were battle worn and gross.  All you cared about was that you were both alive; that he was alive.  And that you were at home in the thrum of his heart.

Recovery from the battle would be a slow path to walk, but at least you would be able to do so together and your son would be able to grow up with both parents.  The future held hope and the promise of healing.

Chapter Text

Uncertain of whom else you had to turn to, you found yourself standing in front of 12 Grimmauld Place, even though there weren’t any Order activities scheduled for that evening.  You couldn’t go home, you couldn’t break that bad news to Ben yet.  After so long of being together, you had finally broken the news to your parents, no longer being able to hide it after Ben proposed to you.  You had hoped against hope that they’d support you and your choice of fiancé.

Instead, you were immediately disowned from the family and removed from the house, all in the span of a couple of minutes.  Now, all you had was Ben … and Sirius.

Rubbing at your eyes for a few moments, desperately trying to get rid of any tears, you stepped into the decrepit house.  You could only hope that you at least looked a little more put together than it.

“Sirius?” you called out, though you couldn’t help but wince from how raw and strange your voice already sounded.

You heard some footsteps come from the kitchen before he came into view, “Ah, I was just making dinner.  What brings you here, cousin?”

His voice was softer than usual and you could tell that he knew, you probably did look like a wreck, after all.  His kindness contrasted sharply with the cruelty your parents had just treated you with and it made you start to tear up again.

Through the tears, you managed to force a smile, “My parents … disowned me after I told them I’m going to marry Ben.”

Barely a moment passed before Sirius descended upon you, pulling you into a tight hug.  Any attempt you had been making at restraining yourself from crying came immediately undone as you dissolved into hysterical sobbing.

He just held you close in silence for a while, gently rubbing your back until your sobs had calmed down.

“Do you want to talk about what happened?  You know, I went through something pretty similar … though it was pretty intentional on my part, rather than a matter of who I loved.”

You shook your head, taking a few deep breaths before speaking with a shaky voice, “There’s not much to talk about.  I literally made the announcement shortly after I arrived, since I—I knew things might’ve gone wrong.  And that was that!  They forced me out of the family home and disowned me on the steps …”

There was a heavy silence that fell over the pair of you as you continued to cling onto him for dear life, you couldn’t see how he pursed his lips as his eyes flashed with anger at your parents.

“I know it’s not much consolation, but Druella’s side of the family was always … a bit too crazy about that blood purity nonsense,” he said, pulling away to take a step back and look at you with a kind smile.  “You didn’t do anything wrong, I hope you know that.”

“B-But my family—”

“—Are a bunch of selfish prats to turn their back on you and Ben, and without even meeting him at that.  You’ll be a part of the Copper family soon, you have me, and all your Vault friends too—your chosen family.  You still have a family and a better one at that with those idiots gone, trust me when I say you’ll be glad for it as you grow older,” he gave your shoulders a gentle squeeze, “Your chosen family will matter more than they ever did.”

The sincerity of which he spoke told you he was speaking from personal experience, though the hint of pain in his eyes was not missed by you—he missed his chosen family, that much was obvious.  You weren’t sure how to respond to it, but you had to admit that his words did make you feel a bit better.  The reminder that you weren’t alone and that you had your ‘chosen family’ to return to was what you really needed to hear in that moment.  But still, that left another issue …

“I just don’t know how to tell Ben, he’s been anxious and wanting to meet my parents ever since we started dating …  He’s going to blame himself for this, I just know it.”

The thought alone was enough to dispel any comfort he had just built up within you.  You could just imagine the combined look of guilt and terror on your fiancé’s face when you broke the news to him and you couldn’t stand it.  Sirius seemed to notice your increased distress and he quickly moved to stand beside you, gently resting a hand on your upper back as he began to guide you to where he had been before you dropped in without warning.

“How about you send an owl and we can talk with him together over dinner?  I’ve had … a lot of time to reflect on what happened with my family, so I should be of use in that area.”

You smiled up at him after processing his suggestion, trying to fight back the urge to start crying again out of how grateful you felt to him in that moment, “Thank you.  I wish you were my father instead …”

He ruffled your hair and let out a barking laugh, “Hey now, I’m not that old!  Now, your uncle on the other hand?  That we can work with since I can just be a young one,” he paused for a moment as he looked away from you and straight ahead, voice lowering to barely above a whisper.  “Uncle Sirius has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?”

There was a hint of wistful sorrow in his grey eyes as the two of you entered the kitchen, you got the impression that it wasn’t a question you were meant to answer.  He made you a cup of tea before fetching you a piece of parchment and quill to write a short letter to Ben with.

Everything would be okay and … Ben was worth it.  He was always worth it.

Chapter Text

The Quidditch match was going as any other between Slytherin and Hufflepuff, although the weather was particularly windy and chilly on that early Spring afternoon.  Thus far, Slytherins cunning tactics were putting them at an advantage over the fair playing Hufflepuffs, but only just slightly.  It was a close game.  Your time had been putting in the utmost work in preparation for this particular match.

You were working hard to make some goals for your time, doing your best to earn points while the Seeker did their thing to try and get the Snitch and end the game.  Meanwhile, the Slytherin Beaters were doing their best to block you … well, one of them was at least.

Barnaby very rarely ever targeted you during your matches, favoring focusing on stopping the other two Hufflepuff Chasers and blocking their efforts.  However, if you were doing especially well, he’d direct one of the bludgers your way—always being careful to avoid hitting you directly or aiming for somewhere sensitive.  It was always just enough to cause you to veer off, enabling 

The other Slytherin Beater on the other hand?  Not so much.

As if to make up for the way Barnaby often went easy on you, he’d overcompensate and his behavior would escalate as the match went on.  Normally, you were able to dodge things with ease, Andre’s flying lessons had certainly been very helpful in that area, but it seemed like today wasn’t your lucky day.

When you neared the Slytherin team’s goal loops as the bitter wind snapped at your robes, quaffle in hand and ready to make a shot, you felt something collide with the back of your Quidditch helmet.  Hard.

Then everything went black.


Barnaby was occupied, keeping a Hufflepuff Beater off of the back of the star Slytherin Chaser.  Zooming around on his broom and thwacking any oncoming bludgers back toward the offending Beater, tongue sticking out all the while.  It wasn’t until he heard Madam Hooch’s whistle shriek that he realized something had gone awry.

Before she could shout out what foul had been committed, his eyes fell onto your unconscious body being levitated down to be taken to the Hospital Wing.  Of course, the other Slytherin Beater was the one who got penalized and Barnaby was able to connect those dots all too easily.

The match continued on, but Barnaby was too distracted to really contribute much.

The Hufflepuff Seeker was the one who caught the Snitch and it was over.  Hufflepuff won by the skin of their teeth, even when missing one of their Chasers.

Barnaby quickly made his way to the locker room to haphazardly get changed into his school clothing.  He didn’t care that he slipped his sweater back on backwards or that his tie was just hanging loosely around his neck.  All he wanted was to get to the hospital wing as quickly as possible and check up on you.

“What the hell was that, Lee?!” the other Beater shouted, positioning himself right in front of the exit.

This wasn’t the time to be dealing with this.  He moved to step around the other boy, only for him to match the movement and block him yet again.

“I asked you a question or are you too stupid to answer it?”

The rest of the team kept their heads down, clearly not wanting any part of the confrontation that was about to go down.

“I’m pretty sure I should be the one asking you what you were thinking, injuring my partner like that,” he felt his anger start to boil over, brows pulling together as he glared at the other boy.

The other Slytherin rolled their eyes, though he noticed the step the other boy took back, “Ever since you started dating that Vault kid you’ve gone soft, Lee.  If you did your damn job, I wouldn’t have to.  Your weakness is hurting the team and is why we lost today.  To the Hufflepuff Quidditch team, not even the bleeding Gryffindors.”

He didn’t have time for this.

“Whatever.  If you ever do something like that again to my partner,” he leaned forward, face dangerously close to his fellow Slytherin’s as he deployed his go-to threat, “I’ll jellify all the bones in your body.  Got it?”

The other boy swallowed thickly and nodded, clearly intimidated.  Barnaby took the opportunity to brush past the other boy and make a direct beeline to the hospital wing.

When he got there, he was relieved to see that you were already awake and being tended to by Madam Pomfrey.  The captain of the Hufflepuff team was chatting with you and seemed like they were about ready to leave.

Sure enough, by the time he was halfway in approaching the cot you were resting on, the captain turned away from you.  They gave him an apprehensive look, but he ignored it.  It wasn’t his fault that you had been injured by his mean teammate.

Right?

The thought hit him like a ton of bricks as he came to a stop at the side of your cot, ice creeping into his veins.  The other Slytherin’s words suddenly seemed to carry an entirely different meaning, ones that he hadn’t even considered until he was at your side.

“Lee, you can only chat for a couple of minutes.  Rest is needed, though the concussion’s been treated accordingly.”

He could only dumbly nod at her before she walked off to attend to another patient.

Before he could even think to say anything, you spoke up and gave him a shaky smile, “I heard you were distracted for the rest of the game.  I’m sorry.”

Hearing those words from you immediately made his brows raise and his eyes go wide.  Without thinking about it, he reached forward and grabbed your hand before saying, “No, if anyone should be sorry, it’s me.  I should’ve done something to prevent it from happening.  I really don’t like it when you get hurt …”

“No, you shouldn’t be sorry either.  I guess neither of us should apologize, then, though injuries are kind of inevitable in Quidditch.”  You patted his hand and shook your head with a warm smile on your lips.  “You don’t control your teammates and you were busy too, I think …  Everything from the game’s a bit fuzzy, I’m afraid.”

He gave your hand a gentle squeeze, warm smile breaking across his face through the clouds of gloom.  “I guess that’s true, but something like this won’t happen again.  I made sure of it.”

The cheerful way he delivered it was mildly off-putting, you remembered how he had threatened you during your first meeting with him, back before the two of you were close.

“Barnaby, what did you do?”

“Oh, I just gave him my go-to … warning, is what I think Merula called it.”  He scrunched up his eyebrows at that, seemingly confused. “You know the one—the turning bones to jelly one.”

Your eyebrows shot up at that.  “Excuse me, you did what?

He cocked his head to the side, confusion only deepening at your response, “I just said it.  It was the turning—”

“—I know that, but Barnaby!  You can’t just—”

Madam Pomfrey cleared her throat at your raised voice, descending upon the two of you with a level of focus reminiscent of a hunting dog.  “It’s time to go, Mr. Lee.  You’re disrupting my hospital wing.”

“But I don’t want to go,” Barnaby said as he looked between you and Madam Pomfrey, large green eyes remarkably puppy-like.

“It’s time to go, Mr. Lee.”

“Just five more minutes?”

“I’m afraid not.  Please leave.  Now.

His shoulders sagged as he begrudgingly released your hand and Madam Pomfrey promptly shooed him out.  Though he kept glancing back over his shoulder at you each step of the way, all the way until the matron shut the door on him.

You smiled to yourself, just glad to know that your boyfriend cared so much about you.  Even though you were going to have a bit of a talk with him once you got out of the hospital wing.

 

Chapter Text

“You want me to do what?” Jae asked, face scrunched up in confusion as he set his Butterbeer back down on the corner table you were seated at in the Three Broomsticks.

“I’m sorry, it was probably a stupid thing to ask after explaining what they were like to you—”

“—Oh, no, it’s not that.  It’s just … a bit random,” he tilted his head slightly to one side, a handsome half-smile gracing his lips.  “Not that I mind random, of course.  Do you want me to just give you whatever words come to mind, or what?”

You couldn’t help but grin, thankful that your best friend was willing to humor you as far as this was concerned.  “That’s fine.”

Jae took a sip of his Butterbeer as he thought of a word to throw your way.  “We’ll start off with an easy one, then: statute.”

"S-t-a-t-u-t-e.  Statute,” you rattled off effortlessly, already falling back into your old rhythm.

"Correct.  And the next word is,” he set his glass down once more, instead stroking his chin as he took another moment to come up with one, “arbitration.”

Once more, you rattled off the letters in the correct order, ending by repeating the word back to him.

“License.”

You got it.

“Occurence.”

Again, correct.

“Separate.”

Spelled flawlessly, once again.  

“Sanctimonious,” he delivered, sounding confident that he finally came up with a word that would trip you up.

But it didn’t, though it made you happy to see how invested he was becoming.  You had missed this and being able to share this with Jae made it even better.

He narrowed his eyes as he pressed his hand, “Damn, you’re good.  I’ll have to change my tactics then.  I’ll have to break out the words I normally get tripped up on …”

You waited patiently as he pondered over his next word,

“Judgment.”

You got it right, as it was a word you had memorized long ago.

“Possession.”

Right again.

“Guarantee.”

It was a guaranteed success, as you didn’t even hesitate as you spelled it correctly.

You noticed his eyes seemed to light up with that same look of mischief he’d always get when he came up with a new idea for his smuggler business.  Clearly, he had just hatched some sort of nefarious plot and you weren’t certain as to what direction your personal spelling bee was about to go.

“How about … relationship?”

You narrowed your eyes at him in suspicion, immediately not trusting wherever he was about to go with this.  Nevertheless, you took the bait for the time being and spelled out the simple word.

“Affectionate.”

Spelling the simple word once again, you weren’t sure if this was actually going in the direction that you were thinking it would or if Jae was just messing with you.

“Romantic.”

You hesitated for a beat after that one, but the letters came tumbling out of your lips rapid-fire.

“Date,” he said as a downright Cheshire-like grin broke out across his face.

Knowing all too well that this was the crescendo of whatever antics he had in mind, you asked the question he wanted you to, “Can you use it in a sentence, please?”

“Of course,” he cleared his throat, the bravado quickly giving way as he began to fiddle with the drawstrings of his hoodie, eyes nervously darting between you and his glass.  “’Date’ as in, will you go out on a proper date with me to Diagon Alley next Saturday?”

Really, you had only dared to hope that things were going to go down this way, you hadn’t really seriously entertained them.  It took you a couple of moments of just gawking at him before you finally found your words again.

“Yes!” you said, though you immediately felt your face flush with heat upon hearing just how enthusiastic you sounded, “I mean, erm, I’d like that a lot.”

Jae and you shared a genuine smile then, you were able to see the way he leaned back in his chair, tension evaporating from in-between his shoulders at your agreement.

“That’s a relief, I wasn’t sure if that was going to work,” he paused as that stupid grin of his reappeared in the blink of an eye.  “But I finally tripped you up.  You’re disqualified for not spelling the word!  Who belongs to the smart house now, huh?”  He waggled his eyebrows at you, quite clearly just teasing you, he was obviously betrayed by the light blush that had spread across his cheeks.

Jae—”

“—I know, I know: that’s not how it was supposed to work blah, blah, blah,” he held out his hands in front of him, “I’m just messing around.  I don’t think I have to spell out how sincere I feel about you.”  He snapped his fingers, clearly trying to cover up for his embarrassment through humor.

You rolled your eyes at his joke, lifting your Butterbeer up to your lips to try and obscure your growing smile, not wanting to encourage him to make any more lazy jokes.  “God, you’re such an idiot.”

In mock offense, he placed his hand to his chest, “The money I make off of my brilliant business plans would certainly beg to differ.”

“Money doesn’t talk, so that’s doubtful.”

“But of course it does, just not in the language you’re familiar with, you vocabulary nerd.”

The two of you spent the rest of the sleepy weekend afternoon cracking jokes, eventually walking back to the castle hand-in-hand.

 

Chapter Text

  • Your relationship with Jae becomes something pretty serious pretty much as soon as the two of you finish your schooling.
    • The two of you move in together pretty much immediately after graduating from Hogwarts, with you both getting jobs very quickly after graduation it wasn’t hard to do so.
    • Things stay like that for about two years and it’s a fairly comfortable way of living.  Jae’s content with it and while he knows within the first year the two of you were living together that you really were the one for him, he’s not in a rush to get hitched.
    • Marriage is kind of an intimidating concept for him and he just needs some time to ease into it.
  • While he’s not exactly the most romantic partner, he does want to do something special for you after he realizes that it’s time to finally make things official.
    • He turns to Badeea and Diego for advice on what type of grand romantic gesture to make for you, which they gladly help him with since you’re both really good friends of theirs.
    • Ends up deciding on doing a bit of a scavenger hunt and one sleepy Saturday morning, you wake up to your boyfriend being absent from bed—a note on his pillow instead, giving you a hint that told you to go to the Three Broomsticks.
      • He leaves a note with Madam Rosmerta that leads to the next place.  Each note is really sweet and mentions how much he cares about you, it’s all about little details you may not have thought he remembered.
    • He puts a lot of effort into it and after a few stops around Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley that reflected significant, you end up in front of the tea shop in Diagon Alley where the two of you shared your first kiss.
    • Jae was waiting inside for you and he exits it as soon as he sees you make your way there, instead of one of his hoodies, he’s actually wearing a dress shirt outside of work for once.
      • Before you could say anything, he gets down on one knee and pops the question.  It’s just a very blunt “Marry me?”
      • When you say yes, he slips the simple ring onto your finger before pulling you into a tight embrace.
      • There’s some gawking and applause from some bystanders since it was a public proposal, but it’s very minor.
  • The wedding ceremony is very simple and small, if you’d be okay with it, he’d definitely just prefer a court wedding than a full blown wedding.
    • To him, the only thing that really matters is becoming your husband.
  • Honestly, Jae wasn’t really sure what he wanted to do after he got out of Hogwarts.  He’s not someone with lofty ambitions and figures that he has plenty of time to figure out what he wants to do with the rest of his life, for right now he just wants a paycheck.
    • After some job hunting, he ended up in Knockturn Alley working at Borgin and Burkes.  
    • Given his expansive network in the alley, knowledge of artifacts, and charm, he was hired pretty much on the spot.
    • He makes a very pretty penny from commission, since he sells a lot of things.  He also gets an added small percentage for any sale of an item he managed to convince someone to sell to the shop.
    • Mr. Borgin’s really impressed by him, he’s probably the second best assistant the shop’s ever seen, right after the young Tom Riddle.
    • He doesn’t know if he’s going to stick with it for the long haul, but he’s definitely very good at what he does and enjoys it.
  • As far as living conditions go, Jae also isn’t very picky at all and the two of you just live in a small flat in London for a while.
    • After a couple of years, with proper saving and Jae working surprisingly hard to try and make you happy, you two end up moving to a pretty spacious apartment in one of the satellite cities around London.  
      • Like, it’s a two floor style apartment and is just nice and cozy.  It’s not super modern or anything, but it’s comfortable and a definite upgrade.
    • Your home is filled with neat artefacts and things, since Jae will occasionally snatch up something useful or that he thinks you’d like for around the home.
    • He’s also a big fan of just having a bunch of blankets and pillows around the place, he’s big on napping in random places.  But it really only enhances the coziness of your apartment.
  • In terms of family, Jae’s very much on the fence since it sounds nice in theory, but he’s not sure how that’d translate to the actual reality of having kids.
    • If you don’t want kids:  It’s a bit of a relief for him, honestly, since he doesn’t know how good of a father he’d be.  Plus, kids are so much work!  He doesn’t know if he has that type of energy and discipline for that.
    • If you do want kids: You’re going to have to talk him up and get him excited about it, basically sell it to him, if you will.  He’ll come around to it, since it’s not like he’s dead set against having kids—more uncertain and hesitant than anything else.
      • Once you succeed, he warms up to it very quickly and actually gets pretty hyped about becoming a father.
      • Would probably like 2-3 kids with a slight bias toward boys.  Mainly because he feels like he’d have an easier time since he was a young boy himself once.
    • If you adopt: He’d actually be very open to adopting a slightly older kid or two, that way the two of you could miss out on the most stressful part of childhood (and not have his sleep get disrupted regularly).
  • Jae’s too lazy to think of some extravagant way to tell your friends, he used up all that energy when he proposed to you and it never regenerated.
    • Instead, the two of you just bluntly announce it at the next get-together and revel in the shock in all of your friends.
    • Badeea insists on painting you guys a family portrait in particular and it’s just really sweet.

Chapter Text

Ben was holding your hand under the dining room table in 12 Grimmauld Place as the two of you talked with Molly Weasley.  Well, it was more of you talking with her.  He felt his leg bouncing at a mile a minute, he ran his index finger over your wedding ring.

That was until the door swung open and an older man hobbled in with a walking stick, dark grey hair hanging around his face.  And boy, what a face.  Part of his nose was missing and it it looked as if his skin had been carved out of a gnarled chunk of wood.  But the man’s eyes were the most striking, one was small and almost black in color—normal—while the other practically popped out of its socket and was a brilliant, unnatural blue.

The glass eye swiveled unnaturally, moving independently of his normal eye, as it gave both you and him a once over.  Ben felt a chill run down his spine as he shrank back in his chair.

If Snape was scary, this man was downright terrifying.

“Who are these two pieces of fresh meat, Molly?” he grumbled in a thick Scottish accent, eyes squinted.

“Oh, Alastor, these are the Coppers.  They were friends of Bill and Charlie back at Hogwarts,” she said before gesturing to you in particular, “This is who handled all of the Cursed Vault business back at Hogwarts, which I’m sure you’ve heard all about.”

Mad-Eye let out a grunt as he nodded, eyes relaxing, “More than I’d like to, to be honest.  Tonks yammers on about you more than I’d care for.”

Tonks stumbled in behind him, “Oi, I talk about my friends just the right amount, thank you very much,” she paused before she turned to look at the both of you, a brilliant grin splitting across her face as she waved at you both.  “Wotcher guys, by the way!”

“Hey, Tonks,” you said, waving back to your friend.

Ben only waved back with a weak smile, eyes still nervously flickering between her and her mentor.  So this was the Mad-Eye Moody that had been mentioned, he thought that the nickname was definitely accurate.

He had only really heard of him after the incident with Barty Crouch Jr.  He was only starting to become more familiar with the events of the First Wizarding War now that he was officially a part of the freshly raised Order of Phoenix.  And he almost wished he wasn’t, it only made getting involved in this war all the more terrifying.

Other members trickled in and Ben kept quiet for the entirety of the meeting, just letting you do most of the talking.  It was only your second meeting with the Order and he didn’t feel all that comfortable—especially with Mad-Eye’s eye flickering around.  It was distracting.


That was the first time Ben had met Moody, but it wouldn’t be until your fourth meeting that they would first speak one-on-one.

It happened during one of the breaks, you ended up being busy chatting with Tonks and Sirius.  He was left sitting by himself, fidgeting with his wand as he tried to think over some new idea for a defensive charm he had been considering from a theoretical perspective.  He was no Badeea, but he occasionally got struck by inspiration.  

At least, that was until a shadow fell over him and he looked up to meet the mismatched gaze of Alastor Moody himself.  He could feel his eyes widen in a combination of surprise and panic, he really hadn’t anticipated Moody to actually approach him.

“Tonks mentioned that you’re pretty good with Charms, boy.  Know how to cast protego totalum?”

Oh sweet mother of god, he was actually talking to him.  

“I do, yes,” he said, tugging at the collar of his dress shirt as he dropped his gaze down to focus a stain.  Was that an ancient bloodstain?  It certainly looked like it …

Moody let out a grunt, seemingly out of begrudging approval.  The odd eye swiveled backwards in its socket for a moment and Ben could feel his face twist into a grimace at the unpleasant sight.  Why was this Auror talking to him?  What did Tonks say?

“Good, good.  You should cast it around your bed every night at the very least, if you want to survive this war.”  In a sudden flurry of movement, Moody had his wand out and cast what was instantly recognizable as a disarming spell, even if it was cast nonverbally.

Without even thinking about it, Ben blocked the spell with a potent, nonverbal Protego charm.  Not a totalum, of course, but that wasn’t what was needed in that moment.  

Moody raised his eyebrows, bottom lip pressed out as he regarded the young man with a spark of interest in his beady black eye.  “Hm, not bad, boy.  Not bad at all.”

Sirius abruptly stood up from his seat, holding a hand out to Moody. “Can we not harass a newcomer in the dining room, please?” he said before pausing for a moment, grey eyes glimmering with good humor.  “At least have the decency to take it into the parlor, Moody.”

“Bah, a Death Eater wouldn’t.  I need to keep you all from going soft somehow, besides, the lad’ll have to learn.”

Tonks snorted from where she was sitting next to her cousin. “Right, because a Death Eater’s going to be in here to begin with …”

“You never know when some sod may impersonate any one of us, Tonks.  Constant vigilance,” he said as he hit the bottom of his walking stick against the ground for emphasis.  Tonks said it in unison out of habit, clearly having heard it one too many times at work.

There was a slightly uncomfortable silence that fell over the room then.  He had a point, after all, he had been kidnapped and impersonated for a long duration time at Hogwarts.  A place that was supposed to be incredibly safe.

Ben let out a shaky sigh as he slumped back in his chair, the brief surge of adrenaline fading rapidly from his system.  However, he kept his brown eyes focused on Moody as he realized that, well, he definitely had a point.


That night, you glanced up at Ben from your place in bed as you watched your husband pace around the bed, muttering an incantation under his breath that seemed to make the air shimmer and form into a barrier.  “Dear, what are you doing?”

The memory of him confiding in you that he used to cast protective enchantments around his bed every night following the Imperius incident immediately jumped to the forefront of your mind.  It seemed like that chat with the Auror had gotten him to pick up old habits …

“Just, um, casting a few enchantments,” he said, looking over his shoulder at you.

“Protego totalum?”

“Maybe …”

You sighed as you set your book down, waiting for him to finish and join you on the bed.  “You don’t need to do that, you know.  We’re not exactly high-ranking officials in the Order or a famous Auror in the case of Moody.  Nor are we back and dealing with the Cursed Vaults.”

A dark blush seemed to immediately spread across his face, lips stretching into an uneven line from embarrassment.  Without thinking much of it, you leaned over to your bedside table and turned the lamp off to plunge the room into darkness, knowing that he felt more comfortable in the dark whenever he was flushed like that.

“Being cautious isn’t a bad thing, within reason, of course,” you gave him a quick peck on the cheek to try and ease him out of his flustered state. “But he seems to have made quite an impact on you,” you said as you poked him in the side, “Maybe you should ask him to give you some lessons?  I bet there’s a lot you could learn from him.”

“He’s too scary.”

“Tonks seems to get on with him just fine, so I doubt he’s all that bad.”  With a yawn, you ended up shifting to lay down, ready for bed.

Ben joined you, though there seemed to be something still on his mind given how rigid he was still laying.  So you bridged the silence, “What’s the matter?”

“But do you, um, mind if I do this every night?”

“If it makes you feel safer, then I’m fine with it, love.”

“Thank you.”

He seemed to melt into the mattress at that and you took the opportunity to cuddle up to him, burying your face against his chest as he draped an arm around you.


It wasn’t until after the skirmish at the Department of Mysteries that he and Ben began to grow close.  

Both you and Tonks were unconscious from taking a serious fall, thanks to Bellatrix.  Ben was holding onto your left hand tightly as you lay there, the dull throbbing pains of his recently healed leg and burn on his upper arm were nothing compared to the way it hurt to see you like this.  

All the while, Mad-Eye stood vigilant next to Tonks for most of the, not seeming to pay any attention to his far more seriously wounded leg.  Your husband only made a minor note of it though, mainly because he momentarily wondered just how he was able to remain so stoic to stand there like that since he was barely able to walk …

When Madam Pomfrey forced the older Auror to sit down on the cot next to yours so she could tend to his injuries, he turned his attention to Ben.

“I suppose I should thank you, boy,” Moody said, voice still rough, but a touch bit softer than usual.

The blonde blinked twice before his brows furrowed, not understanding what this was about, “For what?”

“When we were rushing to get to your partner and Tonks, you knocked that one masked bastard back when he tried to pick a fight with me, with a sort of … distal shield charm, though it exploded when he came into contact with it.”

“Did I?  I don’t even remember that, to be honest.”

“What was that spell, by the way?  Never seen something quite like it before, it was most impressive.”

Ben could feel his face start to heat up, knowing that the spell was one of his own devising.  “It’s, um, one of my own, actually.”

Moody just stared at him for a moment before letting out a short barking laugh.  “Clever boy.  Have you ever thought about becoming an Auror?  You held your own surprisingly well for someone who isn’t very experienced in combat …”

“Oh, absolutely not.”  It came out with greater emphasis than Ben had intended, 

“And why not?”

“I think I’ve had enough misadventure for a lifetime from the Cursed Vaults and will only exceed it in this war, besides, I don’t have much of a talent for getting in and out of trouble.  That, unfortunately, is something my spouse has in spades instead,” he gave your hand a gentle squeeze as his brown eyes fell back to you.

In the meantime, he could practically feel that blue eye focused on him, though it didn’t feel as foreign and uncomfortable as it initially had.

“You’re a cautious one, aren’t you?  That’s good.  You may survive this war, yet.  Most people come into war feeling too at ease and end up dead before they can learn any better.”

He hissed under his breath as Madam Pomfrey agitated an especially sensitive area of his wound.  Before Moody could say anything else, Lupin entered the room and announced that you and Tonks would be able to be moved to St. Mungo’s soon, looking exhausted and broken after the events of the battle.


From there, Ben found himself being assigned more often than not to work under the Auror, alongside Tonks.  He wasn’t entirely sure how he let himself get roped into the more dangerous tasks they went on, but he certainly learned

And he took those lessons and applied them to your home.  Every night, he still put up a series of protective enchantments before curling into bed with you.  And he had tried to 

After a particularly tough mission he had assisted with, he found himself plopping down on the stiff sofa.  He’d have to wait for you to finish your patrol before the two of you could go home, thankfully, it’d only be a few minutes.

Moody stopped behind him on his way out, “Good job today, Ben.  Though 

The Muggle-born whipped his head around to look up at Moody, heart thrumming with pride at hearing the older man call him by his first name for the first time.  “Thanks, I did my best, though I’ll do better in the future …”

“I know you will.  Get some rest, but remember—”  

“—Constant vigilance, sir.”

“Clever boy,” he said, giving Ben a rare smile before he hobbled out of the old house, his claw-footed mechanical leg dragging ever-so-slightly behind him as he walked.

“Trying to steal my mentor, are we?”  Tonks said as she quickly strode across the room from where she had been observing at the kitchen doorway, arms crossed over her chest, hair a dangerous shade of red.

“N-No!  Of course not.”

The Metamorphmagus’s hair quickly shifted back to her favorite violet color as she let out a laugh and gracelessly flopped down beside him on the sofa.  “You’re too serious, Ben!  I’m just pulling your leg.”

He let out a heavy sigh, resting a hand over his heart out of relief.  “Blimey, I thought you were really mad at me.”

“I don’t think I could ever be mad at you.  I’m pretty sure you’re like … the least offensive person to ever exist.”

“I think Rowan might disagree with that, pretty sure I offended them plenty of times while we were in school,” he had to bite back a cringe from just thinking of his younger self.

Tonks scrunched up her lips to one side, “I think that had more to do with the situation than you.  If you actually were offensive, I’m pretty sure they’d still hate you to this very day.”

Fair point.  Ben only gave her a curt nod in recognition that she wasn’t wrong.

“Still, I’d wager that the old man likes you more than most of the other sods in the Auror’s office.  Not more than me though, of course.”

“What’re you two talking about?” you asked as you stopped at the side of the couch, smiling at your friend and husband.

“Ben got some right praise from Moody, so we were just chatting about that.  He was super brave tonight, you should reward him when the two of you get home tonight,” the way she waggled her eyebrows at you told you exactly what she meant by that.

Tonks!” you whisper-shouted, eyes wide and as your cheeks quickly flushed with a slight amount of color.

She stuck out her tongue at you as she got up and gave you a quick, “Good night!” before running off.

The way you let out a chuckle told Ben that he was, undoubtedly, blushing just as bad as he felt he was.  “Well, I take it you made it through just fine, then?”

“Thankfully,” he said before standing up, dark brown eyes looking you up and down a couple of times to make sure you were okay, “And you?”

“Perfectly fine, dear.  It was all clear tonight, though I did practice those protective charms like you asked me to.”

“Good.”  He offered you his hand before continuing, “How about we head home then?”

“Gladly,” you said, taking his hand before a wicked grin broke out across your face as you gave him a terrible wink, “I think I would like to reward you most handsomely when we get there.”

“We won’t make it back if you kill me from embarrassment first.”

You let out a laugh as the two of you took your leave, both still blushing.  Even after all your years together, the teasing of your friends still managed to hit its mark.  

At least some things stayed constant.


For what would later be known as the Battle of the Seven Potters, you had been paired to help guard Tonks and Ron to try and increase their credibility as potentially being the real Potter.  Ben, not being the best on a broom, ended up being stationed back at the Burrow to wait this one out, tasked with preparing to deal with any of the injured along with Molly.

He hadn’t expected to actually have to help out with a bloody injury in the form of someone having their bloody ear cut clean off.  He almost fainted at the sight, but was able to keep it together as he worked in tandem with Fred’s mother.

The entire wait was torturous and as soon as both Molly and Arthur were informed that you, Ron, and Tonks had arrived he ran out along with them.  Seeing you safe and sound, outside of some minor injuries, was a major relief and he didn’t hesitate to pull you into a tight embrace.

Neither of you said anything, the silence and hug communicated everything all on its own.  He barely paid any mind when Fleur and Bill finally arrived, though his concern about his mentor’s absence was still nagging at the back of his mind.

Surely, there was nothing to worry about.  He’d survived way harder battles before, only losing a limb in the process, if anyone were to—

“Mad-Eye’s dead.”

Those words cut through to the bone of what had just been a happy reunion and absolutely gutted Ben.  He pulled away from your embrace, just staring blankly as he listened to Bill and Fleur explain what happened.  He remained entirely silent for the remainder of the time you were at the Burrow, only spluttering a bit when he took his shot of firewhiskey due to being unaccustomed to its burn.

The two of you took your leave at the earliest available opportunity, since you could tell all too easily that Ben was in one of his states.  And understandably so.  As much as you may have found Mad-Eye’s paranoia rubbing off on your husband a bit agitating, the two of them had grown quite close and the Auror had helped bring some level of peace of mind to him in spite of the war.  For that, you were eternally grateful, but now that he was gone …

The numbness gave way to sorrow as soon as the two of you were in the comfort of your own home, his knees buckled as he let out a broken sob.  You were thankfully able to grab hold of him, providing him enough support to stay standing as the tears poured out.

Wordlessly, you led him out of the entry way and over to the nearby couch, not wanting to make him walk any farther than you had to right then.  You had him lay down before joining him, gingerly lifting his head up before sitting down and resting it on your lap.  He gladly cuddled closer to you, wrapping his arms around your lower back before he buried his face into your stomach.

You let him cry, hands gently running through his honey-colored hair and massaging his scalp, like he enjoyed.  The sense of helplessness you felt as you watched the love of your life in the throes of agonizing grief hurt, especially since you knew that there was next to nothing you could do to alleviate his pain.  As much as you wished you could …

Precisely how much time passed with the two of you like that, you didn’t know, all you knew was that it had been a while since your shirt was soaked.  However, his sobs eventually died down into sniffles.

“I-I can’t believe he’s gone,” the words came out soft, even though his voice was coarse from crying and pain was soaked into every word.

“I know.”

“And if—if someone like him can be killed like this, then …”

You felt your heart positively shatter at that, knowing all too well where his mind was going, and had to take a deep breath to try and prevent your voice from trembling as you tried to be the voice of reason.  “Ben, please don’t torture yourself.  Things just … they happen, even to the most veteran warriors.

Silence was your only response.  You knew all too well that nothing you could say would stop that active mind of his from leaping from one catastrophized scenario to the next once it got started.  However, you could at least continue to provide him with some semblance of physical comfort.

“Let’s just … take a bath to get cleaned up and try to go to bed, okay?”

“Okay.”

It took him a few moments after voicing his agreement to release you with a great deal of hesitation and sit up.  He did his best to wipe away his tears and.  You waited patiently for him to finish before grasping his nearest hand and standing up, gently pulling him to follow suit.  He complied, though his movements were slow and mechanical.

With Ben’s hand in yours, feeling the cool metal of his wedding band providing you with a subtle sense of comfort, you led him to the bathroom to finish taking care of him for that night before bed.

Chapter Text

Feeling jubilant you rushed down to the training grounds after talking with your Head of House, feeling positively over the moon at the fact that you were going to be one of the two prefects for your year!  You worked so hard for the position to try and overcome your history of being a rule breaker, thanks to your involvement with the Vaults.  And you did it!

The first person you wanted to announce this to was none other than Bill Weasley, someone who really become like a brother to you and was a big motivating factor in you pursuing the prefect position to begin with.  As much as you wanted to blurt it out to Rowan first, you felt like telling Bill first was just … right.

Thankfully, you knew his schedule quite well by then.  At that particular time of day, you knew that he was almost certainly practicing his duelling skills on the training grounds.  Practically skipping your way down the grand staircase, avoiding any trick steps with ease, you made a beeline for your destination—not paying any attention to anyone or anything else you passed.

As soon as you got there and spotted the eldest Weasley casting some hex at a training dummy, you rushed over to him and shouted, “I’m gonna be a prefect, Jacob!” 

As soon as your biological brother’s name slipped past your lips, you immediately slapped a hand over your mouth as your eyes went wide as saucers.  Did you really just—

He froze in place, blue eyes just as wide with surprise as your own.  However, before you could start stuttering out an apology before running away from embarrassment his face broke out into a dazzling grin.

Bill tucked his wand away before heading over and pulling you in for a tight hug, “Congrats!  I knew you could do it.”

“Um, thanks!”  You awkwardly returned it, uncertain as to whether he was just ignoring the fact that you had called him by your Jacob’s name.   

It wasn’t until he pulled away from the short-lived gesture of affection that he brought it up, grin growing ever so slightly as he did so, “But do you think of me as a brother?”

Warmth blossomed across your cheeks and immediately knew that you must have been blushing something awful.  “I-I do, yes.”

“Good, because you’re like a younger sibling to me too,” he said and ruffled your hair, beaming at you in a similar way to how Jacob used to whenever you did something he was proud of.  “You’re an honorary Weasley, you know.  If you come over to the Burrow over summer vacation, I’m sure the others will come to view you the same way too.”

He paused for a moment as his smile fell into something a little more serious.  “And whenever you’re able to find your brother, you can bring him along too.  

You couldn’t help but feel your eyes start to well up with tears, the combination of his kindness and confidence in your search for your brother meant the absolute world to you.  “Thanks, Bill.”

“Any time, I’ll always be here for you; even after I graduate.  I hope you know that.”

“I do and I’ll—I’ll always be here for you too.”  Throwing your arms around him in another hug, you pulled him close as a way of expressing your gratitude.  Words couldn’t do it justice … that and you didn’t trust yourself to say anything more since you could feel yourself on the verge of full blown crying.

You really didn’t know what you’d do without your big brother Bill while your biological brother was missing, since he made Jacob’s absence all the more bearable.

Chapter Text

The Ravenclaw/Gryffindor Duo

  • Neither of them are the most conventional, which is one of the major things that they have in common.
    • Both of them just do their own thing and are pretty lax with one another.
    • To others, they may seem like an odd pair for being friends, but the fact that they’re both into different things is where the strength of their friendship comes from.
  • Once he finds out that she actually can’t Disapparate and actually has an invisibility cloak, he badgers her to let him borrow it sometimes.
    • It’s only fair after she hid it from him for so long!
    • She complies every once in a while, just so long as he promises to be careful and not get caught doing whatever he’s planning on.
  • When she needs someone to practice her portrait painting on, she’ll often hit up Jae since he rarely studies and subsequently has more time than the others.
    • He also presents her with a unique challenge since he’s bad about fidgeting and not staying still for long.  It’s a good way to put her skills to the test, to say the least.
  • The two of them like to spitball ideas for ridiculous new spells together.  Or at least, Jae thinks they may sound ridiculous, but they end up inspiring Badeea.
    • More than a few of her personal creations have been thanks to some off the wall idea he just spouted out without thinking much about it.
  • Jae is a very supportive art friend and is very encouraging of Badeea’s craft.
    • He’ll sometimes commission smaller pieces from her as a way of sharing some of the profits he gets from his business and getting
    • He always asks for ridiculous things, like a baby dragon with tennis shoes or something.
    • Jae actually goes to the library to read up on some art theory and the craft of magical painting, specifically.  
      • Since he wants to better understand her hobby and be able to provide more helpful feedback than, “That’s amazing!”
  • Badeea also helps him with some business stuff, since she’s very creative he goes to her if he feels like it’s stagnating and needs new ideas.
    • As such, if she ever wants to get her hands on something that’s a bit less than legal at Hogwarts in order to analyze its magical properties … well, having a close smuggler friend is very beneficial
  • Whenever one of them needs to go to someone low on judgment to talk about personal things with or if they just need earnest advice, they’ll go to each other.
    • Badeea’s wisdom makes her a great person to talk about things with, as she’s very good at seeing the bigger picture.
    • Jae’s more worldly side is helpful for keeping her grounded.
  • They’re pretty much super supportive, laid back friends that accept each other fully and do their best to help the other out.

As a Vaults Trio

  • You get close to both Jae and Badeea thanks to the Cursed Vaults business and the three of you end up becoming a trio in your own right.
  • Outside of Rowan, Badeea would probably be your go-to person for help in classes.  It happens most often when Rowan seems swamped with their own thing and you don’t want to bother them.
    • While she spends most of her time on her passion projects, she’s wicked smart and is always down to help you out while she’s painting.
      • She’s the queen of multitasking!
    • She’s not as classical of a teacher as Rowan, but she comes up with really creative ways to remember information from class.  And it works incredibly well.
  • Jae’s a big fan of reminding you to chill out and take some time for yourself.
    • In detention, you two have a lot of fun and make up various games to help pass the time more quickly.  You have to be careful about it though, since Pitts doesn’t tolerate much lallygagging.
    • The two of you learn how to communicate through just facial expressions pretty early on.
      • During classes you have together, the two of you hold entire conversations this way.  Happens a lot in History of Magic in particular (when Jae isn’t sleeping).
  • The three of you spend a lot of time in the courtyard, Badeea painting while you and Jae are just lazing about.
    • Conversations range from incredibly philosophically deep subjects to just … silly things.  
      • Like what you think Professor Snape’s room is like or how many puffskeins you think it would take to fill the Great Hall.
    • She may also give the two of you painting lessons from time to time, if you’re interested.
  • Badeea makes you all friendship bracelets, using everyone’s house colors, and imbue them with some cool charm that changes the aesthetic of it that she created.
    • The bracelet itself is made by hand, since she believes it means more that way.
    • She also probably imbued it with a way for you to communicate using it (i.e., similar to Hermione’s coin trick in OotP).
      • So if you try to run into the Vaults on your own and run into trouble, you still (hopefully) should have a way to at least let them know something’s wrong.
  • The main way to get Jae into the library to study is if both you and Badeea drag him there, the three of you often have study sessions with just the three of you.
    • Rowan will join in as well from time to time as your other closest friend.
  • Outside of Hogwarts, the three of you may do things like go to art museums and then go get some pizza at a little hole in the wall Jae heard about.
    • There are a lot of day trips during the summer, though you and Badeea have to do most of the planning.
    • Jae does contribute, but it is almost always after you’re already there and likes to point out possible things to do.

Chapter Text

  • Chiara has reservations about approaching you first to date and won’t take action, no matter how much she cares about you.
    • While she definitely fancies you, she isn’t sure if you’d want to date a werewolf and all of the complications that come along with it.
      • Being her friend is one thing, but being in a close romantic relationship is entirely different.
    • So you’re going to have to be the one to ask her out and assure her that her werewolfiness is not an issue for you.
    • Your relationship will probably be kept on the down low as such for  a while, since while her lycanthropy isn’t well known, she’s very cautious about it.
  • You two have a very sweet relationship overall, as Chiara is both very physically affectionate and caring in general.
    • She’s a big fan of holding hands with you and will do so even when it’s inconvenient for one or both of you.  
      • “I need both hands to carry these, Chi.”
      • Cue the puppy dog eyes as she says, “But I want to hold your hand!”
      • It’s a moral dilemma, since on one hand her puppy dog eyes are irresistible and on the other … carrying everything with one hand is really difficult.
    • Chiara’s a cuddle monster, she’s very fond of nuzzling her face against your neck and sitting in your lap.
      • One could say that she’s a bit of a lap wolf.
      • Of course, that’s usually reserved for when you’re in private since she gets quite flustered about open displays of public affection.
    • The werewolf is very considerate of you and your feelings, so she tends to put a lot of thought and care into your relationship.
      • You’ve done so much for her by just accepting her that she tends to feel like she has to go above and beyond as a way of showing her appreciation for you.
      • She is fiercely loyal to you as well and will be at your side every step of the way through the Cursed Vaults business thanks to her protective nature.
        • Even if she wishes you weren’t involved with them at all.
  • In terms of dates, she’s very fond of doing things out in nature or just in places that aren’t very crowded.
    • Nature walks, hiking, camping, all are good by her and she’ll try and get you more into outdoorsy stuff if you’re not already.
      • She always brings a lot of sunscreen since she burns very easily and quickly.
    • Biking tours are also a great deal of fun for her.
    • Indoor activities she enjoys might be doing things like visiting natural history museums or just doing a spot of reading while curled up together inside.
    • Really, anything you two do together is going to be something she enjoys.
  • Will absolutely hoard anything and everything you gift her.
    • She loves anything you get her just because you gave it to her, which makes her both really easy and difficult to shop for.
      • On the one hand, she’s not picky, but on the other she never has anything concrete that she ever wants so it’s a lot of guesswork to try and get her something she’ll really like.
    • If you surprise her with small tokens of affection, she’ll be over the moon and will gladly reciprocate.  
      • Giving and receiving gifts is a big part of her love language, though she wouldn’t initiate it out of a fear of making you feel uncomfortable.
    • If something makes her think of you and it’s within her price range for surprise gifts, she’ll get it.  So sometimes her gifts may be a bit odd, but they’re always sweet.
  • Borf loves you and the three of you often play together out in the courtyard or near the Black Lake.
    • He quickly becomes just as affectionate with you as he is with Chiara and visits you regularly if he catches you outside near the Forbidden Forest.
    • And if you’re a dog Animagus, Borf loves playing with you even more!  Sometimes, if Fang’s out and about he’ll even join the two of you.
      • Chiara just watches, smiling and thinking about how much she cares for both you and her rapidly growing cub friend.
  • If you’re an Animagus, she’s a little more comfortable about having you around for her transformations.
    • In Hogwarts, she’s usually able to get her hands on a Wolfsbane potion, but there’s no guarantee that once she gets out she’ll have the same luck.
      • It’s not exactly easy to hold down a consistent job due to the prejudice and discrimination against werewolves in Wizarding society.  And it’s not like Wolfsbane is a cheap potion to brew.
    • She may be liable to chase you around sometimes, since she can’t really resist herself.
    • If you’re not an Animagus, she won’t let you anywhere near her during her transformation if she doesn’t have a Wolfsbane potion.  
      • Chiara wouldn’t be able to ever forgive herself if she harmed you when she’s out of control during her transformations.
  • As far as arguments go, she’s not exactly the most ferocious or argumentative person around.
    • If you do end up getting in a fight, it’s usually because she ends up bottling up something that’s hurting her or not telling you that you’re doing something that bothers her.
    • You are the one person who knows more about her than anyone else, but she still has a hard time opening up to you fully. 
      • She really wants to, but Chiara just isn’t used to having someone like you that doesn’t think any less of her for who she is.
    • Almost always, she’ll immediately apologize and try to make things right with you.  It’s very rare for her to remain stubborn on a subject, especially since she’s able to take a step back and evaluate herself better than most.
  • Overall, Chiara is a very affectionate and loyal partner who will accept you for exactly as you are, just as you do with her.  You mean the absolute world to her and she will do everything in her power to protect you.

 

Chapter Text

  • Barnaby can be a bit … simple, but that does come to your benefit
    • Up until the two of you start dating, it can get a bit frustrating since subtler flirtation just zooms right over his head.  Whoosh.
    • Asking you out is a huge challenge for him, since he likes you so much.
    • However, you may have to end up asking him out first or dropping a ridiculous number of obvious hints in order to bolster his confidence.
      • No matter what, he’ll immediately pull you in for a bear hug the moment you either ask or accept it since he’s just overwhelmed with happiness and excitement.
  • Going on dates with you is something Barnaby really enjoys, they’re often the highlight of his day and week.
    • Loves going to high quality zoos and pet shops, especially of the Wizarding variety.
      • You may have to serve as his impulse control at the latter, though, since he’s weak for certain creatures and would adopt them all in a heartbeat if he could.
      • He never fails to impress you with his knowledge on them.  If you aren’t a magical creature expert yourself, you always come away from them having learned a bunch of new things.
      • These dates are not only fun for him due to his ardent passion for creatures, but he likes being able to share his passion with you.
    • Honestly, though?  He’s not terribly picky about where the two of you go on dates, though he’s not fond of darker or creepier locales.  Spending time with you is always a treat for him.
    • That being said, he is a big fan of going out and trying new foods with you or visiting your mutual favorite restaurants.
      • There’s just something about being in your company that makes food taste better to him.  
      • Plus, he loves eating and he loves you!  It’s the other ideal set up for a date.
    • Practicing duelling with you is also something that he’s quite fond of.
      • If you’re not as accomplished of a dueler, he’ll be more than happy to tutor you and uses it as an excuse to get close.
      • If you’re on his level or better though, he likes to try and best you as often as he can.  
        • He does get easily distracted though, because you’re so cute andpowerful and intelligent and—well, you get the idea.
        • And when he gets distracted, the odds that you two are going to end up in a snogging session are quite high.
  • This boy absolutely loves physical affection, he is very touchy and will indulge in it as much as you allow him to.
    • One thing to watch out for is that Barnaby doesn’t really have any shame in this regard.  He loves you so much and he isn’t afraid to let everyone know that.
      • If you’re not a fan of PDA, you have to get that boundary set up pretty early.  
        • The two of you compromise by sneaking off to somewhere more private whenever he shoots you those irresistible puppy dog eyes of his.
    • Will just randomly pepper your face with kisses.  Honestly, he doesn’t have a preferred spot to kiss you—anywhere and everywhere is fantastic.
      • Barnaby can go from very innocent kisses to something far more intense pretty quickly.  Snogging sessions are plentiful as such.
      • He really likes either cupping the sides of your face while you kiss, tenderly stroking your face with his thumbs, or running his hands up and down your back.
      • Expressing his feelings for you physically, rather than verbally, is much easier for him and as such he gets caught up in things very easily.
    • Tends to wrap his arm around your shoulder, place a hand on your back, or hold your hand.
      • He’s pretty variable, but he likes touching you since it makes him feel more secure.  Given all the Cursed Vaults business, he likes being close enough to shield you at any moment, if need be.
    • Loves hugging and cuddling with you so much, he’d happily just lay there with you for hours.  Talking or just in comfortable silence, it doesn’t matter to him.
      • Will often pull you into his lap and just bury his face into your neck if he’s having a bad day. 
    • Given his strength, he actually really loves carrying you around.  Bonus points if there’s a significant size difference, since he thinks that’s the cutest thing ever.
  • For Barnaby, you are exceptionally special to him.  And this manifests itself in numerous ways throughout your relationship.
    • You’ve always been there to help him, even though he wasn’t super nice to you at the very start of your acquaintanceship.  
      • Which is something that he can get sulky about sometimes, since you didn’t deserve him threatening you on Merula’s behalf.
    • Having you in his life really helps him grow as a person, he learns that there is so much to being strong than the ideal that was forced upon him as a child.
    • He is absolutely that guy who gushes and brags about his significant other to everyone who will listen.
    • Tends to enjoy surprising you with gifts when he can.  Likes to get the two of you matching things, since that’s just the way he is.
      • One of the sweetest things was him giving you one of his rings on a chain to wear as a necklace, though.  
      • They’re important to him, as he wears them every day, so the gesture meant a lot.
    • Given the Cursed Vaults situation, he does prefer to stay close with you and make sure that if anything goes wrong, he’ll be there.
      • While he will take blows for you without a second thought, he also wants to provide you with as much support as you need.  Will absolutely drop anything to help you with whatever you need, your well-being is his priority.
      • And, after all, the two of you are stronger together.
  • He’s not really inclined to arguing and shuts down pretty quickly.
    • Barnaby’s home life was not a happy one and the last thing he wants is to repeat that kind of thing with you.
    • Something you have to work on early is developing a solid communication system in order to voice both of your, since your boyfriend is very bad about putting you far above himself.  
      • By nature he is a giver and a protector.
      • He will compromise and stay silent, uncomplaining, if it’d avoid an argument and/or make you happy.
    • While it may mark a large hurdle at the start, after you have a system set up?  It’s smooth sailing from there on out and really helps make your relationship far more stable and healthy in the long run.
  • Overall, Barnaby is a partner who loves with his whole heart and will do everything in his power to make sure you’re safe and happy, just make sure he’s receiving as much as he’s giving.

Chapter Text

  • There are two different trajectories your relationship may be on when you two start your romantic involvement:
    • Charlie’s able to process and feel comfortable with acting on his novel romantic feelings before graduating from Hogwarts.
      • In which case, the two of you predominantly communicate via letters, making the most of what little time you get when he returns home to England.  
      • Gives you a head start on the relationship and makes it easier for him to start exploring his feelings.
    • He doesn’t realize that what he felt for you was something more than platonic until after he’s moved to Romania for work.
      • This is a very stressful situation for him and he has to talk.  Ends up explaining his feelings for you when he returns to England to visit his family for Christmas and the two of you get together then.  
      • Your relationship is slower building at first, thanks to the long distance, but the two of you make it work through perseverance and more frequent visitations.
  • Either way, Charlie isn’t in a rush to get married by any means.  It’s not really something that’s super important to him, since just seriously dating you is plenty for him.
    • He never really thought he’d experience romantic attraction, so there’s a lot that he feels like he has to learn before feeling comfortable enough to pop the question.  Relationships are not something he paid much attention to before you.
    • The two of you end up potentially living together well before engagement even becomes feasible.
    • If you’re in a rush to get married or grow frustrated at Charlie having a slow pace in moving through the relationship, there are going to be a lot of serious talks.
    • It’s the kind of relationship where you’re dating for five to seven years before getting married, even if the two of you function like a married couple in all but the legal definition and people just tend to assume you’re married.
  • We all know that Charlie ends up working as a Dragonologist in Romania and that he absolutely thrives at it.
    • To him, the only downside to his work is its location.  He hates being apart from his family and, potentially, you as well.  The long-distance relationship just makes it all the more painful.
  • The day you move in with him in Romania is probably one of his happiest in recent memory.
    • He grew up in a bustling, noisy house filled with family and his living quarters for work just felt barren without someone else there.
    • The house he lives in is large enough for the two of you, plus room to potentially grow a family if you want one down the line.
    • Your house is pretty normal and cozy, as the two of you tend to own a lot of secondhand furniture.  
      • While he saves most of his money, often sending a good chunk of it back home to his parents.
    • Any knick knacks in your house are dragon related, he gets gifted a lot of them for his birthday.  
      • All the bookshelves are also filled with books on dragons.  Charlie collects them and he has an impressive one.
  • Gives you a tour of the sanctuary and loves letting you visit the calmest dragons under his watchful eye.  Being able to share the career he loves so dearly with you means the world to him, seriously.
  • When he finally does pop the question, he may either do it at a family event or after one of the aforementioned instances of you spending time at the sanctuary.  
    • It’s a simple that reflects your tastes and his speech is short, yet carefully worded before he just straight up asks you to marry him.  All around, it’s not the most romantic thing ever, but he’s still able to convey just how much you mean to him and that’s all that matters.
    • Charlie just wants a simple wedding, but Molly and Fleur have absolutely noneof it.  You two are going to have a proper wedding with decorations and at the Burrow, not a courthouse.
    • Of course, it was heavily dragon-themed and was a slightly less populated event than Bill’s, mainly just being close friends and family.
    • He just grins like an idiot through the entirety of it, unable to take his eyes off of you since you look positively stunning.  While he never really quite grasped the emotional significance of marriage, it clicked for him when he saw you come down the aisle.
    • Honeymoon’s probably to some place with a lot of native dragons, if you’re also into them, at least if you leave it up to him.  Vacation isn’t something he really gets a lot of, so he’s very receptive to whatever you want to do.
  • In terms of family, Charlie’s fairly receptive to whatever your wants are.  He never really fancied himself as the type to settle down and have kids for reasons already touched on, so it’s something he’s suddenly giving actual, serious thought to.  
    • It would definitely only be something he’d consider post-marriage.  He likes kids and is amazing at talking with them, but the prospect of having his own is entirely different.
    • If you don’t want kids: Charlie’s somewhat relieved about it, since he isn’t entirely certain that he would make a good father.  He’s a bit too much of a workaholic and has terrible work hours.  It enables him to just focus on his career and enjoying his free time with you.
    • If you do want kids: Would likely favor just one or maybe two, staggered out.  He wants to make sure he can give them as much love and attention as he can, even though he would probably love to have a large family like the one he grew up in.  Doesn’t particularly favor having a girl or a boy.
      • Ends up asking his parents a lot of questions, along with his siblings if they end up having kids before the two of you do.  The more advice he can get, the better.
      • He gets very invested in setting up the nursery and ends up making the crib from scratch with the help of magic.  
    • If you end up adopting: He did the lion’s share of the research to help you two figure out how to go through the process and prepare for it.  
      • While he starts off pretty nervous due to his uncertainty surrounding parenthood, that quickly changes as soon as he meets your child(ren) for the first time and strikes up a conversation about dragons with them as an icebreaker.
  • When revealing the fact that you two are going to be expanding your family to your friends, Charlie’s more inclined to a direct approach.
    • The two of you likely end up announcing it in an invitation for a get-together for the next time you’re in England after things appear to be set in stone.
    • Hearing his friends be supportive of you two becoming parents really helps ease his worries, if only for a time, while also making it feel a bit more real.  
    • It’s just a small, wholesome get together with good friends, even if there might be slightly fewer of you than when you were in Hogwarts.

 

Chapter Text

Scrubbing plates and silverware with Jae following the chaotic food fight you had started the other day was surprisingly … not terrible.  While the work was considerably worse than your usual tasks with food, you were at least working closer with Jae.  Talking wasn’t permitted of course, but that didn’t stop the two of you from communicating through glances facial expressions.  It was an art the two of you had perfected a couple of months into being detention buddies.

However, there was the occasional opportunity that would present itself when Pitts was focused on yelling or directing someone else, which enabled the two of you to actually speak for a bit.  Those were the best times in detention and this particular one was no different.

“You know,” Jae began to whisper to you when Pitts was occupied with yelling at a student a ways off from you two, “We definitely need to start another food fight before we graduate.  I’m thinking the next one should be in the Great Hall though.  Just imagine the mayhem!”

“Sure, but you’d get some serious detention over that.  Probably with Snape and you know how he hates Gryffindors …”

He looked at you for a moment before an obnoxious grin broke out across his face.  “I’ll take the whisk for a bit of fun.”

“Oh, fork off, that’s a terrible joke,” you replied, not missing a beat as you continued to scrub at a particularly difficult spot on a plate.

“Well, you gotta admit that it was knife-r than yours.”

“I’d spoon-er serve myself on a platter to ‘R’ than do that.”

“Oi, what are you two talking about?”  Pitts’s low voice came from the table directly behind you.  Busted.

You were both quick to reply in tandem, “Nothing!”

“Hmph.  More scrubbin’ and less talking.”

The house elf kept a vigilant eye on the two of you for the rest of detention, which wasn’t unusual.  Being unable to repress your smile from the stupid dialogue the two of you had just engaged in, you spent the remainder of your time in close proximity to your crush trying to figure out.  It was time.

Once the students were dismissed, you found yourself walking beside Jae in the short distance leading to the Slytherin Dungeons.  If you were going to act that night, it would have to be during that small window of time.

Clearing your throat just enough to snag his attention, you spoke in the most flirtatious tone you could muster without making it too obvious.  “You know, we should go to Hogsmeade together this Saturday.  I heard Madam Rosmerta has a new type of Butterbeer she’s planning on starting to offer …”

Jae seemed to perk up at that idea and you felt your heart skip a beat, only for your happiness to come crashing down when he opened his mouth.  “That sounds like a great idea.  How about we invite Ben and Bill to come along?  They’ve both been pretty high strung lately, so it’d be good for them to get out a bit too, I think.”

“That’s fine.  See you tomorrow then!”

It wasn’t, but you’d just have to try again later …  Maybe you were too subtle this time around?

Still, all you could do was give him a small smile and a wave before heading down the hall that led to the Slytherin common room entrance.


“No, your posture’s all wrong.  You sweep it like so and say the incantation.  Depulso,” you said, demonstrating the correct motion in a flawless execution, resulting in the targeted dummy being blown back.  “See, not hard!”

Jae tried it again, though his wand managed to wobble due to his loose grip on it and nothing happened.  His wand gave out a few pitiful white sparks, but that was it.

“Sweet mother of Merlin, how on earth did you even get a decent grade last year?  This isn’t a terribly hard spell, Jae.  Just hold your wand properly.”

Picking up on your teasing tone, he grinned and pointed his wand at you.  “Listen, I have a gift for business,” he punctuated the period  My brain can only handle so much at once, most of it is dedicated to my craft and not … this,” he finished by, yet again, shoddily attempting the arc required for the spell.

“Have you ever heard of multi-tasking?  I think it may just revolutionize your life since being able to hold your wand properly is kind of … essential.”

“I appreciate the thought, but I am in no need of an industrial revolution, thank you very much!  That sounds like too much work.”

“Yes, because moving your wand in the correct fashion is so much work.  It’s literally just an arc, Jae.”

“It’s still too much movement, if you ask me.”

A seemingly brilliant idea popped into your head in that moment.  It was undoubtedly a prime opportunity to take on a more physical, yet still subtle way to establish your interest.

“Here then, I’ll take a more hands on approach in teaching you, if you’re just going to complain.”

Before he could protest to that, you stepped close behind him.  Placing one hand on his shoulder and the other on his wand wielding hand to adjust his hold.  Some heat rushed to your cheeks as your fingers slid over his own, pressing them to.  It felt wonderful and you let your hand linger over his for a couple of moments longer than necessary as a flirtation.

Feeling satisfied that it was long enough to get the point across without becoming awkward, you carefully withdrew your hand to his wrist.  “Now, move it at this angle,” you tilted it slightly so that it wouldn’t just be as straight as it had been.  “Now let’s try again.”

You kept your hand on his wrist as he made the movement again, stating the incantation as he did so.  This time, a white stream of light burst from the wand and the remaining dummy was knocked backwards.  Feeling satisfied and proud of him, you released your grip on him, letting your touch linger for just long enough, and took a step back.

“See, that wasn’t so bad, now was it?”

The dimming rosy light produced by the sunset made it hard to tell if he was blushing or if your mind was simply trying to read into something that wasn’t there.  Jae played with the pull strings of his yellow hoodie with his free hand, eyes staying focused on the defeated dummy, seeming contemplating something.

However, that moment was quickly brought to an end as he turned around and delivered you a triumphant grin.  “I guess not, though you better watch out—I’m going to be giving you a run for your money before you know it.”

You quirked an eyebrow at him, crossing your arms over your chest.  “Jae, you only just recalled how to do the Banishing Charm correctly … if you were ever able to do it to begin with.”

“I know, I know.  I was just joking.  I’m not wicked talented at duelling or half as driven as you are.”

Now you were pretty sure you were blushing, hopefully the.  “Well, I might rub off on you yet.  A more hands on approach seems to be more your style,” you paused for a moment before trying out the flirtatious tone again, “and its mine as well.”

“Yeah, I think it is!  We should do this again sometime.”

Nothing about his response seemed to indicate that he caught on to your flirtation in the slightest.  That realization was enough to make your shoulders slump, not enjoying how this continued defeat tasted on your tongue.

“… Right, we definitely should.  Well, I want to do some practicing myself, so … good night,” you said.

“‘Night.”

And with that he headed off, allowing you to take out your frustration at his obliviousness on the poor dummy.


You and Jae were sitting in the courtyard on a cloudy spring Sunday, enjoying the pleasant weather while it lasted.  For a while, you were just reading through the assigned pages in your Potions textbook, while Jae was scribbling in the ‘ledger’ (in reality, it was a well-used notebook) that contained all his inventory, contact information, and sought after items.  That is, until you got distracted by a couple nearby, who were sitting on the edge of the fountain and holding hands.

This presented as good an opportunity as any, didn’t it?  A less subtle nudge might do the trick …

Dramatically, you sighed before leaning closer and pointing them out to Jae.  “They’re quite cute, aren’t they?”

Jae looked up from his ledger at your exhale, though he turned his eyes toward the couple at your gesture.  “Uh, I guess?”

“… I’d really like to have a relationship like that.  Hopefully I will sometime soon.”

The Gryffindor was silent for a few moments, carefully avoiding eye contact with you as he turned his attention back to his notebook.  “I’m sure you will.  You’re one of the most well known students and, on top of that, you’re smart, driven, funny, and ambitious.  I imagine there’s probably a lot of people who have crushes on you to choose from …”

You were only able to stare at him, trying to parse out just what that meant and his seeming discomfort at the situation.  On one hand, he was very complimentary to you and his sudden reticence could be attributed to being shy, but on the other …  There had been an opportunity for him to express his own interest in you, quite clearly, yet he passed on doing so.  Were the compliments just him being nice?  Was he really just not interested in you?  Was he just dense?  Or did he fancy you but feel uncomfortable in admitting it?

No matter what, you suddenly found your enjoyment of his company seriously muddled by your racing thoughts.  You just wanted to be by yourself all of a sudden or maybe rant about this to Rowan, even though you were quite sure they were growing weary of hearing about this situation.

After a few moments of thinking, you abruptly shut your book with a satisfying crack before standing up.  “I’m going to head back to my common room.”

He looked up at you, confusion written all over that cute face of his.  “Wait, what?  It’s nice out and we’ve only been here for

“It’s hard to focus out here,” you replied, voice a bit colder than you initially intended.  Before he could say anything else, you took off to go try and figure out what you should do from here.

Your feelings were a mess and Jae’s reactions weren’t helping anything.  Perhaps some space to clear your head would be beneficial …


Over the next week, you found yourself actively avoiding him, making a point of not talking with him or slipping away before he could try to initiate conversation with you.  In class, you made a point of sitting with Barnaby or Ben when you’d normally sit with him and being the first out the door when the clock chimed.  Given the fact that the two of you were in different houses, it wasn’t hard to avoid him outside of class.

What was hard was the emotional toll of it, since you missed him.  A lot.  He was a good friend of yours, but you weren’t able to take fancying him when it didn’t seem like he fancied you in return.

Rain pattered against the window panes as you headed to the library on a dreary Saturday morning.  You had to meet up with Rowan and Liz for a study session dedicated to History of Magic and Care of Magical Creatures.  

However, as you were on your way there, you heard a familiar voice call out your name.  The last person whose voice you really wanted to hear right then.  Instead of slowing down, you picked up your pace to a walk so brisk that it was approaching on a run.

You heard Jae pick up the pace behind you and knew that he was unlikely to let you slip away.  After taking a turn down a little used hallway, you came to an abrupt stop and turned around to face him, mentally steeling yourself for whatever was about to go down.  Thankfully, he came to an equally quick stop just a couple of feet away from you.

Almost immediately the Gryffindor launched into what was bothering him, “Crikey, what’s gotten into you?  You’ve been avoiding me and now you straight up run from me.”

“Actually, I was walking at a speedy pace, not running.”

He narrowed his dark eyes and pursed his lips at your retort.  “You’re avoiding the question, so I’ll rephrase it …  Why are you avoiding me?”

“I’m not—”

“—No,” he said, cutting you off, an unusual edge of irritation slipping into his voice before abruptly vanishing as he continued,“I just … I miss you and I don’t know what I did wrong.  I did do something wrong, right?  Had to have …”

You stared at him, realizing that perhaps he really was just that oblivious.  Maybe you just had to put it in a way a lovably dense Gryffindor like him would understand.

“It’s because I’ve been trying to hint that I like you, but you’ve either been totally oblivious to it or you’ve been intentionally ignoring my advances to politely tell me you weren’t interested.  I don’t know which it is, hence the avoiding.”

Specifying the emotional element wasn’t necessary, you were already embarrassed by being so forthright about your romantic interest as it was.  No need to make it any worse, especially since it seemed like that was more than adequate judging by the look that passed over Jae’s face.  His eyebrows shot up, eyes wide as he stared at you with his mouth slightly agape.

“Wait … you … fancy me?”

“Yes, Jae, I just said that.  Don’t make me say it again, please,” you said, turning your gaze down to focus on your shoes.  You were mentally preparing yourself for rejection now that it seemed very clear he was just ignorant of your feelings.

“How did you—I didn’t even—What?”

You shifted awkwardly on your feet, feeling terribly out of your element for once.  “When I asked you to Hogsmeade, guided your hand while tutoring you in duelling, and in the courtyard.”

A silence followed your outline of your past attempts, the soft pelting of the rain against the glass of the nearby window being the only sound in the empty hallway.  While you weren’t looking at him, you knew that his brain was likely going into overdrive as he processed your short list of failed attempts.

“Why didn’t you just ask me out?”

“Well, that was the first thing I tried, but that didn’t work!”

“You could’ve used the word ‘date’ and I would’ve understood it,” he mumbled before pausing for a moment.  “Probably.”

“That’s reassuring,” you retorted, finally daring to look back up at him since it didn’t seem like he was outright rejecting you.  His face was crimson red and he was fiddling with the pull strings on his hoodie again, eyes more focused on them than you.

An awkward beat of silence ensued before you spoke up again, getting to the heart of your curiosity.  “But let me try again.  Will you go on a date with me to Hogsmeade this evening?”

“Of course.  I fancy you too—I just didn’t think you thought of me as anything more than a friend,” he said before looking up at you, flashing you a small grin.  “If we’re going to start dating though … does that mean I can pick your mind for marketing strategies whenever I want?”

You rolled your eyes.  “I suppose so.  More importantly though, it means you have a free tutoring and studying resource.  For example, I’m going to go the library right now to study for those two exams we have this week, you should tag along and then we could just go to Hogsmeade right after we’re done as a treat.”

He scrunched his nose up in disgust at the word ‘library’ and it only intensified at  the dreaded term of ‘exams,’ “You’re lucky you’re cute, otherwise I’d reject being subjected to such torture.”

“Oh, shove it,” you said, even though you felt your face warm considerably from the compliment.  Before he could say anything further, you resumed on your 

He let out a beautifully warm laugh before catching up and falling into step beside you, the light squeaking of his red trainers now louder than the pitter-patter of the rain.

Chapter Text

It was a pleasant spring afternoon when you found yourself loitering after your Care of Magical Creatures class, feeding snacks to the Bowtruckle you had named while Kettleburn worked with some of the larger creatures.  You couldn’t really remember the last time that you had spent time with your little friend, which was a shame.  It was an understatement to say that you were fond of the little guy, but your wild fifth year made it hard to find time to slow down and just breathe.

While you wished the circumstances surrounding your hectic schedule were less distressing, there was some fantastic silver lining to be found.  It made not thinking about your long-term, unrequited feelings for Bill all the easier.  

Taking some time for yourself, such as this, always ended up with your mind ruminating on that subject … like what was starting to happen right then.  

“You’re lucky, you don’t have to worry about complex things like feelings and what to do with them.  Especially when they’re one-sided.  Stupid Bill Weasley and his kindness,” you muttered to your pint-sized companion.

Unable to speak, the small creature climbed up onto your hand and then down your forearm in order to wrap his twig-like arms around your upper arm in a hug.  Quick to reciprocate the sweet gesture, you moved your free hand up to gently rest on the Bowtruckle’s back.  

“You’re really good with him, you know.  Not many people are nice enough to win a Bowtruckle’s affection like that.”

You started at the sound of a familiar voice, since you thought you were finally alone after class had ended.  Which was why you felt comfortable talking to your creature friend.  

When you glanced up, your eyes met Barnaby’s kind, emerald green ones as he smiled down at you.  His brown hair looked lustrous in the , shadows emphasizing the more angular features of his face.  The sleeves of his robe were rolled up, though you weren’t entirely sure how he managed that one, along with the standard uniform’s shirt underneath.  

Handsome was the best word to describe him in that moment and the realization that you were attracted to him hit you like a ton of bricks.  Oh no.  Not again.  You still weren’t even fully over Bill, so why was your mind doing this?

“I, um, how long have you been standing there?”

“I just came over, actually!  I fed the Kneazle over there some treats since she was looking lonely,” he replied.  “It seems like the two of you are very close for him to hug you like that though.”

That was a relief …  

Before you could say anything further, Barnaby approached the two of you and sat down on the log beside you.  He leaned over to take a closer look at the Bowtruckle, or trying to.  As soon as he had taken a seat, the creature had taken off up your shoulder in order to try and hide from sight in your hood, thanks to his shier nature.  “I wish a Bowtruckle would hug me …”

The way he was peering into your hood meant that his face was practically hovering over your shoulder.  He was close and it was enough to make your heartbeat pick up its pace.  With him this close, you realized that he was even cuter up close and the way his eyes lit up out of interest and excitement at the Bowtruckle?  It was unbearably charming.

Sensing your distraction he sat back before asking, “Is everything okay?”

“Perfectly fine, yes!  Definitely,” you said before clearing your throat and shifting the topic to something else to downplay your awkwardness.  “I’m sorry that he, um, hid from you …  He did that with me first at too, I’m sure he’ll warm up to you even more quickly though.”

Barnaby cocked his head to one side slightly, brows furrowing every-so-slightly in confusion.  “Why’s that?”

“Because it’s clear that you love magical creatures and are one of the kindest people I know, I’m sure he’ll pick up on it.”

“Kindest?” he asked, confusion only greater as he looked at you with squinted eyes.  “I mean, I need want to work on learning how to earn creatures’ trust easier, but I don’t know if I’m really all that nice, like you …”

“You definitely are.  You’re strong and protective, the latter requires a degree of kindness since not just anyone would take a blow for me … let alone two.”  You took a moment to smile at him before continuing, “Besides, your love for magical creatures says it all, really.  Don’t think it’s really a subject unkind people tend to specialize in like you do.”

Your argument seemed to instantly persuade Barnaby, earning you another smile from him.  However, before he could respond to you, the Bowtruckle seemed to pop his head out of your robe’s hood.  You were able to tell by the way Barnaby’s eyes lit up, excitement shining through as he leaned closer yet again.

The creature slowly climbed up onto your shoulder as the two of you observed in silence (more so Barnaby than you though, thanks to the angle).  Your friend held out his hand and the Bowtruckle moved to climb onto it, pausing for a moment to glance back at you as if to ask if it was okay.  After giving him a nod, he stepped onto Barnaby’s hand.

Delighted, he began to talk about how wonderful Bowtruckles were, gushing about them and reciting facts about their behavior and habitats as if it was all common knowledge.  From there, the two of you continued to chat about your other favorite creatures and why you favored them, all the while the Bowtruckle climbed over Barnaby—seemingly searching for more snacks.

For the first time in a while, you found the tension melting out of your shoulders as you enjoyed talking with him.  The Vaults and O.W.L.s had slipped into the back of your mind.


Bill found himself seated in the Gryffindor common room that evening, trying to read through his assigned textbook selection for Transfiguration.  It was dry and he found his mind wandering back to how you were doing in your pursuit of the Cursed Vaults that year.  As much as he wished he could play a more active role in the investigation, the need to do well on his exams for both his career and to make his parents proud had his hands tied.

Thankfully, he had a way of staying up to date through Rowan, given that they both tended to study in the same spots.  He let his Transfiguration textbook rest in his lap when he spotted the other Gryffindor enter the common room, deciding it was the perfect time to take a short break to, hopefully, get caught up.  With a smile, he waved them over and they quickly obliged him by taking the armchair directly across from him, placing their own textbook in their lap.

“Hey, Rowan.  It’s been a while …  How are you doing?”

“Stressed.  There’s a Potions exam next week and I must be absolutely prepared for it.”

“I see.  How have the Vaults been treating everyone?”

“Nothing to terrible?  It hasn’t been really going though, which is probably why.  Peeves has been quite the obstacle, from what I gather, though I’ve been a bit too busy studying to help out much myself.”

All he could do was really nod, feeling mildly dissatisfied with the lack of concrete information from Rowan.  He found himself starting to slip back into his thoughts when the younger student interjected.

“I know you’re super busy and all, but you should try and spend more time with our friend.  Maybe just talking to them a bit more at mealtimes.  I know you’ve been sorely missed as of late …”

“I’m sure the others have been good company, I really doubt I’ve been missed much.”  Bill had noticed you and Barnaby spending more time together in particular, since he had actually wanted to dine with you the other day—only to find you sitting with the Slytherin already.

Rowan’s tone took on a hint of sarcasm as they said, “Well, it’s not like they fancy you in particular or anything.”

Almost as soon as those words left Rowan’s mouth, their hand flew up to clamp down over their mouth, eyes wide from the horrible realization of what they had just done.  “Oh no, I shouldn’t have said that.  I really shouldn’t have said that.”

Before Bill could say anything further, your best friend grabbed their book and hopped onto their feet and darting up the stairs to their dorm room, eyes focused on the ground all the while.  He could only stare after them, conflicting emotions bubbling rapidly inside of him.  All this time, he had just thought you viewed him as a brother figure, like everyone else in your friend group seemed to (except Rowan).

And most importantly, what he thought to be unrequited feelings were actually reciprocated.  Yet that realization came almost too late, after all, in only a few months he was planning on becoming a Curse Breaker and leaving the island nation he had called home for so long.  And that meant leaving you behind, as well.  Letters would be all he could offer.

Would it be kinder in the long run to suffer silently?  Or should an attempt be made to share something special with you, even if it would only be fleeting?

Such thoughts kept Bill company that afternoon as he stared into the unlit fireplace of the common room, trying to parse out what actions he should take.


You were sitting in the courtyard, practicing a charm from Charms class, a couple of days after Rowan had spilled the beans to Bill, blissfully ignorant of that fact.  Your close friend had been considerably more distant and nervous around you than usual, but you knew that they’d confide in you about whatever was troubling them when they felt ready to.  Still, you couldn’t help but feel worried about them, especially since it was all too tempting to just break the ice and get it out in the open.  Perhaps you should?  No, it was best to let them come to you on their own terms … right?  Maybe it was better to just pull the bandaid off though.

Before you could get further into your mental debate, someone sat down next to you.  Out of your peripheral vision, the long red hair and red and black robes told you exactly who it was without having to turn your head.

“You’re looking quite lovely today,” he said, seizing the initiative of the conversation, the words coming out smoothly, almost as if he had practiced them.

“Oh, um … thank you?” you said, wincing as the pitch of your voice raised excessively, the beginning of a blush was unoubtedly spreading across your face.  All you could do was keep your eyes firmly rooted on your wand and away from Bill, just wanting to avoid further embarrassment.  The combined confusion and giddiness you felt at receiving a compliment from him was quite pleasant, especially considering how little the two of you had been talking as of late.

But Barnaby.  The temporary euphoria of having Bill Weasley pay you a compliment quickly died down as you thought about the Slytherin boy who you had been growing progressively more fond of with each passing day.  While you weren’t consciously aware of your expression shifting, it must have considering that your fellow Gryffindor’s smile was wiped off his face.

“Is something the matter?”

“No,” you said after a moment’s hesitation.  “I’m just a bit distracted is all, there’s been a lot happening this year.”

There was some movement in your peripheral as Bill nodded in understanding.  “I can imagine so, I can’t imagine how stressful everything’s been for you, Rowan’s been keeping me up to date on everything …  I’ve been worrying about you a great deal this year.”

“You have?”

“Of course, you’re important to me and I—”

“—Hi guys!” Barnaby yelled out at a distance as he jogged up to the two of you, announcing his presence loud and clear.  You couldn’t help but perk up a bit at his sudden appearance, his happiness at being around you was always infectious.”

“Hi, Barnaby.  What’s going on?”

He bounced on the balls of his feet, clearly excited about something, though the sweat on his brow suggested that he had been trying to hunt you down for a while then.  “I just learned that there’s going to be a group of magical creature educators putting on an educational program on some uncommon foreign creatures in Hogsmeade this Saturday afternoon.  Would you want to go with me to it?”

The thought of him running around trying to find you just to ask him to go to this event he was so excited about touched you deeply.  It also sounded very much like a date.  There was no doubt in your mind that your face was as red as a phoenix feather.

The two boys exchanged a fleeting look, though you were wholly ignorant as to the significance it bore to the two of them—you were too caught up in your racing thoughts to pay it much thought.  The Slytherin was presenting a challenge to Bill, making his move directly in front of him.   In actuality, he had overheard that conversation of yours with the Bowtruckle, while he hated lying to you, he didn’t want to risk making you feel embarrassed … especially since he just wanted to make you feel better and see you smile.  Bill got the message loud and clear.

You noticed the older of the two give the other a slight nod before they both turned their attention back to you as they awaited your answer.

“That would be wonderful, actually.”

Barnaby was positively beaming as he said, “Sorry for interrupting, I just wanted to make sure I asked you while I had the chance.  See you Saturday, then?”

“Yes, I’ll be looking forward to it.”

He grinned at you and the sight was enough to make your face flush with warmth yet again.  With a small wave, which you were quick to return, he took his leave and left Bill and you alone once more.

“Sorry about that, but, um, what were you saying?” you asked, mind more focused on what seemed like a possible date with Barnaby instead of the direction that your conversation with the Head Boy had been going.

A few beats of silence passed with him looking lost in thought, which you incorrectly assumed to mean he was trying to remember what he was going to say.  In reality, Bill was thinking over what he should say, since he had a difficult choice to make.  While your outing with Barnaby wasn’t explicitly a date (yet), he knew that he could possibly interfere by letting you know that he liked you … as he had been planning to earlier.  As much as he wished things could be different, you seemed very interested in Barnaby and who was he to selfishly get in the way of that?  Besides, the Slytherin’s timing was a sign in and of itself, it just didn’t seem like things were meant to be.

“It’s nothing that you haven’t heard before.  You’re … like a sister to me and what’s most important to me is that you’re safe and happy.  I really hope that things start looking up for you soon, though I wish I’d still be here to help out instead of having to graduate and go to Egypt, probably, at least.”

His choice of words stung, but not to the same degree that they had in the past.  It seemed as if your heart was finally starting to mend thanks to Barnaby.

“I wouldn’t say probably, we all know you’re going to do just fine on your N.E.W.T.s, you’re not Head Boy for nothing.”

“Nor are you our resident Curse-Breaker for nothing either, so keep your head up.”  He gave your shoulder a gentle pat, hand lingering for perhaps a second longer than it should have, before standing up.  “Anyways, that’s all I wanted to say, since I really need to resume studying.  I know I’ve been absent lately, but … I’ll always be there for you.  Even when I’m on a different continent.”

“And I’ll always be here for you too, Bill.”

The two of you shared a small, bittersweet smile before he took his leave.


A couple of weeks later, you already found yourself in the tentative beginnings of a relationship with Barnaby.  Walking hand-in-hand through the halls of Hogwarts, you were excitedly discussing the discovery of a previously undiscovered magical creature that.  The contrasting red and green accents of your robes mattered not in the slightest to you or anyone else—the pair of you were watched by 

Unbeknownst to the two of you, Bill was among those who observed the two of you from a distance, a weak smile on his face.  This was for the best.  

The two of you would be able to make each other happy and that’s really all he could ever ask for.  Soon, he would be away and able to focus exclusively on his work, though he would be sure to send you plenty of letters and postcards.

You would always be dear friends and that was enough for him.

Chapter Text

  • Badeea is flirtatious, but in her own, more subtle way that can be a bit more cryptic than not.  Tends to pay you compliments in the frame of ‘I believe capturing your [x about you] would make for a remarkable painting!’
    • Granted, it wouldn’t be so subtle if you looked into her collection of private WIPs and sketchbook, since there’s a lot of art of you in them.  
      • She has a bad habit of sketching you in class whenever she gets bored of the lecture and wants to draw something.  Her go to subject used to be her beloved cat, Laith, so she realizes pretty quickly that she’s got it bad for you.
    • She’s inclined to make her move in a sweet way, presenting you with a magical portrait of a couple holding hands that look suspiciously like your own.  
      • Badeea says that she hopes the two of you can hold hands like that on your first romantic date, since she goes out of her way to make it very clear it’s more than platonic.
      • She beams for the rest of the day following your acceptance of it.
  • She’s not an especially picky one when it comes to dates, though she’s good about taking the initiative.
    • Is a huge fan of just wandering around and exploring new areas, thankfully London’s a big city.
    • Very fond of just chilling and painting with you out in the clock tower courtyard or giving you some lessons in private.
      • She is the least judgmental teacher and is very good at tutoring people.  Puts a lot of focus on helping you develop your own style.
      • If she can help Barnaby learn the more technical aspects of painting, she can help anyone.
    • Often, the two of you have late night chats and play around with new spell ideas.  While they’re not bonafide dates, they are a staple of your relationship.
      • If you’re a fellow Ravenclaw, this tends to be the two of you being the last remaining people in the common room, laying in odd positions on the sofa and floor.
      • Also, if you’re good at Latin you are a god send to her and the two of you collaborate for her inventive spells going forward.  
        • Badeea really hopes that together, the two of you will eventually be able to find a counter for the Unforgivable Curses.
    • Please accompany her on her visits to the many art galleries she frequents.
      • The two of you have a great deal of fun making up absurd and fake deep meanings behind certain paintings.
      • She also does a lot of art studies while there and she likes having you to talk with while she works.
    • She is absolutely huge on accompanying you to locations tied to your interests.  Hearing you get passionate and excited about things you enjoy is one of the most attractive things ever for her.
      • She does her best to dabble in any hobbies you hold and the two of you just derive a lot of mutual enjoyment from sharing your passions and supporting each other.
  • In terms of affection, Badeea is a huge fan and super affectionate … but only behind closed doors.  She’s not a fan of PDA and thinks saving your affection for in private adds a degree of meaning to it.
    • Hand kisses are something she is very fond of giving and receiving, it is high romance to her and she lives for it.
      • Big on being very polite and chivalrous for you, likes to open doors and the like as a subdued expression of affection.
    • Very much enjoys interlocking your fingers whenever you’re walking side by side.  It’s really the only PDA you’re likely to have with her.
      • In general, she’s a big fan of hands as she finds them expressive and intricate.  Yours are no exception.
    • Tends to give pecks on the lips as a form of greeting and farewell when the two of you are alone.
      • Also gives you kisses on the cheeks as a form of expressing her gratitude.
      • Forehead kisses are reserved for when she’s especially grateful.
    • Is a fan of slipping off to somewhere secret to enjoy some snogging from time to time.
      • Tends to smile a lot into your kisses and can be a bit of a happy giggler at times when she’s overcome with her affection for you.
      • Often holds at least one of your hands while you kiss, the other tends to rest on the side of your face—lovingly caressing your cheek.
    • One of her love languages is gift-giving, she’s very big on exchanging small to large gifts and puts so much thought into them.
      • Expect to be the owner of many drop dead gorgeous Badeea Ali originals, many of which were inspired by you.
      • She tries her hand at various other crafts, since she thinks making something from scratch for you is the best way to express her love.
      • Books are a staple gift as well, since she pays attention to your interests and likes giving you books to help further learn about what you’re passionate about.
      • Also gives you a pair of fingerless gloves and striped socks (in your house colors) very similar to her own, so the two of you can match in a subtle way.
    • Her love letters are amazing.  Her articulate prose is gorgeous and paints a beautiful picture of her feelings for you.  They are positively swoon-worthy.
      • She’s probably among the best at writing love letters among the Mystery crew, so consider yourself lucky on that front.
  • Hope you’re a cat person or at least tolerant of cats, because Laith is very important to her and she wants the two of you to get on.
    • Laith ends up warming up to you pretty quickly and is fond of curling up in your lap whenever he can, purring like a loud motor all the while.  Will get very vocal if you try and move him.
    • Tends to be quite demanding and may headbutt your hand if you’re not giving him the attention he craves.
      • Badeea may or may not tear up a little bit sometimes from how cute it is and how happy she is that the two of you get on. 
    • If you’re a cat animagus Badeea is in heaven.  She adores cats and likes that you allow her to squeeze your toe beans, since Laith doesn’t.
      • Laith likes curling up with you and the two of you pretty much become besties.
  • If you’re also a girl, there are no issues whatsoever and Badeea doesn’t really treat dating you any differently than if it was a heterosexual one.
    • Her parents are very open-minded, which is where Badeea picked up her Ravenclaw spirit, and are happy if Badeea’s happy.
      • While they’re serious about their religion, they’re among those who interpret the Qur’an in a way that does not necessarily condemn same-sex relations.
      • They’re more than happy to answer any questions you may have if you come from a different religious background.  Also, they’re very obliging in the realms of their traditions and culture.
        • In fact, it makes them very happy if you ask them about it—since it shows them you care about their daughter’s culture and religion.
        • Just be respectful and open-minded and you’ll always be welcome in their house.
    • If you’re very nervous before meeting them, they quickly make you feel at home and are super welcoming.  They treat you and your relationship with Badeea as something entirely normal, which carries a lot of weight.
  • In terms of arguing, Badeea’s very open minded and an ace when it comes to conflict resolution.  So, serious arguments are few and far between and when they do happen, they’re quickly resolved.  Neither of you can stay angry at each other for very long.
    • If anything, she’s more prone to worrying over your pursuit of the Vaults.  
      • Duelling isn’t her specialty and she tends to worry that she’s useless in helping keep you safe or helping solve the mystery behind them.
  • Overall, Badeea is a wonderful, devoted partner who adds art and an extra spark to your life through her passion and warm affection.

Chapter Text

Whatever pleasant dream you had been enjoying came to a grinding halt as you found yourself suddenly standing in the clocktower courtyard.  It was a beautiful summer evening, the sun was setting, and you were alone.  However, you were lucid and knew what was happening.  This wasn’t the first time.

As you tried to retreat back toward the entrance of the school, red clouds—dark and heavy—began to roll in, moving with greater force and speed than any cloud should.  A red darkness fell upon the courtyard, the occasional stream of golden light from the moon.

Your back hit the door as a laugh in the familiar, altered disembodied voice you associated with ‘R’ echoed throughout the courtyard.  Grimacing, you braced yourself to see how close it would be this time.

The laughter died suddenly and it spoke, words slightly muffled as if still far off, “I told you death was coming ….”

Shadows swirled in front of the courtyard’s fountain, rather than behind it like the previous time, before rising and taking the form of the Red Robe you had encountered before. 

“Now, it’s here …”

The drew their wand, ready to cast a spell with deadly intent.  And then, sudden as it all appeared, the clouds and the figure you were gone.  It was a normal, clear night in the courtyard once more.

With a jolt, you found yourself sitting upright in your bed.  The clock in the room told the time: 3:00 AM.  It was like clockwork, the past two times you had had this dream you woke up at the exact same time.

However, this was the first time you had heard the Red Robe speak to you, words that you instinctively knew to be uttered in the future.  It was a warning of danger to come.

Yet that much had been clear from even the first dream, due to the uncomfortable feelings it inspired within you.  Each time you had the dream, those feelings of dread and anxiety only seemed to intensify—the closer the Red Robe got, the worse you felt.  For the first time, you felt like you couldn’t stay in your bed, as those words wouldn’t stop ringing in your mind.

Quietly, you managed to slip out of your dorm room and up to the common room without disturbing any of your roommates.  It wasn’t until you stepped into the room that you noticed you weren’t alone.  In the dim light, none other than Talbott Winger was seated on the sofa, golden eyes already fixated on you.  It was hard to tell from your distance, but you thought he looked surprised given the way his expressive brows were arched.

“And what are you doing up?” you asked, keeping your voice low to avoid disturbing anyone sleeping in the dorms downstairs.

There were a few moments of silence before he mumbled, “I couldn’t sleep.”

“Well, that much is obvious,” you said, a small laugh to your voice.  “Doubt you’d be up here at three in the morning if you could sleep.”

Shuffling across the room, you took a seat next to him and opted to observe the gentle twinkling of the stars of the tower’s enchanted ceiling.  You couldn’t help but steal a quick glance at him out of your periphery, admiring his sharp features under the soft glow of the moonlight.  The ghost of a smile on his lips was enough to make your heart flutter.

“Yes, I suppose you would be able to See that much.”

You snorted at his pun.  “Always eag-le with the puns, aren’t you?”

“Yes, one might say I have a talon-t for it,” he fired back with the utmost gravity.

Even without looking at him directly, you could feel him relax, clearly grateful for the change in subject.  

“We’re friends, Talbott.  If there’s something bothering you, I’d be willing to talk about it,” you said, shifting your eyes back over to him as you gave him your best sweet smile.

He pursed his lips at your usage of the word ‘friends’ and the tension returned.  “We’re not.  I mean, not yet, at least.  You barely know me.”

“And not for a lack of trying on my end, I believe.”

There was another silence, though this one had you shifting awkwardly in your seat.

“And why do you try?”

The fact that you thought he was handsome, intelligent, and quite interesting were not valid responses to that question.  At least, not so long as you wanted to keep your crush on him under wraps.  So, there was only one option for how to respond …

“Because birds of a feather stick together?  We’re both Ravenclaws and I think we’ve already bonded enough to justify making an effort to get to know you better.”

Talbott narrowed his eyes at you for a few moments before letting out a tired sigh and standing up.  “Well, you are free to think what you will, I suppose.  However, I believe I best try and return to bed for the night, I can’t avoid sleep forever.”

Before you could reply, he glanced over his shoulder at you, voice losing its typical edge as he said, “And you should do the same.”


You woke up with a start three days later.  It was 3:00 AM again and the figure was even closer than the previous time.  While dread still filled your veins, you had to admit that 

Heading up to the common room, you were surprised to see that Talbott was there once again, sitting in the exact same spot.

“Do you ever sleep?” you asked, making a beeline for the sofa.

“Yes, I do.  Sometimes.”

You sunk down onto the soft sofa, rolling your eyes at his vague answer.  “A very informative response, Talbott.”

“You’re the one who asked a lackluster question.”

“Touché.”

There two of you sat in silence for a few moments.  You wanted to say something, but he seemed to be enjoying the silence.  While the two of you were there, it only seemed natural to talk about what was keeping you up that night.  You had yet to share the details of your vision-like dream to anyone, it wasn’t something you really wanted to divulge to anyone closely tied to your venture for the Cursed Vaults.

Which made Talbott the perfect person to talk about it with, plus you could even grow closer with him as a result!  Such was doubtful, but it wouldn’t hurt to try.

“… Can I talk with you about something?” you asked, turning to face him.

“I suppose so, since we’re here.”

“You know how I’m a Seer, correct?”

He blinked at you a few times, clearly thinking that the answer was obvious.  “I have referenced it in the past, yes.”

“Well, while I divulge Prophecies upon occasion, I also have a very sensitive Inner Eye.  It means that I excel at Divination, the guesswork it tends to be labeled as is second nature to me.
That extends to dream premonitions.  I’ve been having dreams that wake me up at three in the morning every three nights.  It has something to do with my pursuit of the Cursed Vaults, I think there’ll be great danger to one of my friends.  But … I think it’ll ultimately pass, since everything always returns to normal at the end.  It’s uncertain enough that it’s troubling me, though.”

“And why are you telling me this?  I don’t see what use I could be in helping you figure that out.”

You tilted your head a bit to the side, confusion undoubtedly shining through your expression.  “I just wanted to tell you as a way of getting it off of my chest.  It’s been weighing down on me heavily lately, so you’ve been helpful enough …”

Talbott was quiet for a moment.  “So, you told me just to make yourself feel better?”

“Yes, you don’t always need a deeper reason for disclosing things than that.  I thought you might have figured that one out from our talk about you being a you-know-what.”

In the dim light of the common room, you thought you could see his face flush from the memory.

“Yes, well … perhaps I did.  It’s still not something I’m accustomed to, however, so I don’t quite understand its appeal to the same level as you …”

You couldn’t help but smile, glad that he at least wasn’t entirely opposed to you helping out.  “Well, since you listened to me, if you ever need an ear, then I’ll be more than happy to help.”

Silence dominated the air between the two of you once more, but this time it was more comfortable.  He seemed to be contemplating your offer, which was surprising, given how quick he was to shoot you down in the past. 

“If I do.  Would you promise not to tell anyone?”

“Well, I’m already keeping one secret for you, what more is another?”

“That’s a fair point,” he said, turning his face down so he could focus on his hands folded into his lap.  “Last time, you asked why I was awake.”

“I did.”

He hesitated for a few moments before finally spitting out, “I have nightmares.”

You remained quiet, letting him gather himself and only divulge what he felt comfortable in sharing with you.

“They’re about what I fear will happen after I become registered …  That the Death Eaters will find me and then,” he shook his head, trailing off in a way that told you he wasn’t going to finish it—no matter how you asked.

Feeling obligated to try and cheer him up, you nudged him gently with your elbow.  “I don’t know if it counts for anything, but I’d never let anyone harm you.  Nobody hurts my friends on my watch.”

“I don’t doubt that.”

You grinned at him and when you didn’t say anything further, he glanced up at you.  His eyes narrowed as soon as he saw your expression, clearly he didn’t trust whatever was making you so happy.

“What?”

“You didn’t deny that we’re friends!”

His eyes went wide upon realizing his mistake, cheeks flushing visibly enough to be more than a little noticeable in the poor lighting.

“That doesn’t—” he started, only to shut his mouth and abruptly stand up.  “I’m going back to bed.”

You let out a light laugh, delighted by how adorable he could be sometimes.  “Good night.  But in all seriousness, I hope your nightmares ease up.  And let me know if there’s ever anything I can do to help make your decision easier …”

He lingered for a moment at the top of the stairs in order to listen to you, but descended without glancing back.

With the weight of your divining dreams settling back over your shoulders in the newfound silence of the common room, you realized just how much talking with him helped ease your mind.  

Chapter Text

Valentine’s Day was only three days away and the emotions of those around you were all over the place.  While most didn’t care, those who did, well, it made for a rough time for someone with your particular abilities.  The heartbreak and anxiety was especially hard to deal with, so you were doing your best to keep your mind from wandering.

On your way down to the kitchens, you allowed yourself to relax some since the number of people was starting to thin out.

The clanking of coins was audible before you heard the pattering of trainers on the stone floor from someone jogging up to you.  The gait was one of which you had dedicated to memory.

You glanced over at Jae, who looked all too pleased with himself.  That was never a good thing.  “What’d you do?”

“Wow, not even a greeting, huh?  But it’s not what I did, my friend, but rather what I sold,” he said with his eyebrows raised and a smirk on his lips.

“What did you sell and how illegal was it?”

“Take a guess.”

Well, given the time of year and how many coins were jangling in his yellow hoodie’s pocket …  Oh no.  There was only one thing that could be.

“Jae, please tell me that you did not sell someone a love potion,” you said in a firm voice.

He turned forward, whistling in a nonchalant manner as a way of answering your question in the affirmative.

“Who did you sell it to?”

“ … “

Jae.

“I’m afraid I don’t kiss and tell, in case you were curious.”

You blinked at his bizarre choice of phrase before pursing your lips as you thought about why on earth he would choose it.  No matter where your mind raced to, you didn’t like the implications.

“What does that even mean?  Did you kiss your client or …?”

“I—No—Forget it,” Jae said, keeping his face straight forward as he It was a bad choice of phrase.”

There was something off about the way he spoke, he sounded flustered and distracted.  Did he have something, or rather, someone on his mind?  Your curiosity and anxiety was enough to override your flimsy control of your abilities.

Your mind automatically reached out to his, and there was—Badeea.  Badeea was on his mind.  The pain of that realization was enough to make your mind reflexively withdraw from his, like a hand immediately flinching away from a hot stove top.

The rest of the walk to the kitchens was passed in awkward silence, as you tried your best to fight back the tears that were starting to blur your vision.

In detention that night,  you volunteered to manually scrub pots, pans, and plates instead of having to make food together with Jae.  You didn’t want him to see your

You just needed to pretend that everything was okay and that you weren’t hopelessly heartbroken over him.


The ensuing three days felt like torture to you.  It was hard to control your abilities due to your emotional instability and being exposed to the feelings of those eager for Valentine’s Day was like rubbing salt in an open wound.

However, that was nothing compared to the feeling of seeing Badeea and Jae painting in the clocktower courtyard together the day before.  The sight of them smiling and laughing together felt like a dagger through your heart.  Jae noticed and made eye contact with you before giving you a small wave, smile looking a bit tight.  You returned it, doing your best to put on a smile, and ended up turning and heading back inside, unable to stand it any longer than that.

You couldn’t bring yourself to keep up the act for the remainder of the day, so you avoided them.  As much as you wanted to support your precious friends, you needed some time to mend your shattered heart enough to be able to handle seeing them together.

The next day, you slowly made your way to the Great Hall, heart and feet feeling like lead at the prospect of having to see Jae and Badeea together.  People gave odd glances as they passed you, with the occasional pitying one mixed in.

You paid none of them any mind, at least, not until you heard a rather loud, “PSST!

Glancing in the direction it came from, you noticed Jae peering out at you from a classroom door, hand waving you in as if to beckon you in.  A visible blush tinging his cheeks, a sight which you would have normally found adorable, but now it only caused pain.  Perhaps he wanted advice on how to do something for Badeea or something?  He knew which way you took down to the great hall, so him knowing how to ambush you wasn’t a terrible surprise.

Still, you moved toward him and entered the classroom after he stood aside.  When he closed the door behind you, you asked in a flatter voice than you intended, “What do you want, Jae?”

“I want to show you something,” he said, a light trembling in his voice.

You watched as he moved over to an easel.  It was of flowers, your favorite type to be exact, something you had only shared with Badeea when she asked you a week ago to help her figure out what flowers would work for a composition idea she had.  He reached behind it and pulled out an actual bouquet of matching flowers—an expensive one at that, nonetheless.

“I, um, Happy Valentine’s Day?” he said, voice cracking on the final word from nerves.  He continued on, trying to fill the silence when you didn’t immediately answer, “I was hoping … I could bribe you into being my valentine—maybe?”

You stared at him, eyes shifting rapidly between the painting, the bouquet, and his face.  This made no sense.

“I—Shouldn’t you be asking Badeea and not me?”

Now it was his turn to look bewildered.  “No?  Why would I ask her when I fancy you?”

“But you were thinking about her and feeling happy a few days ago while we were walking to detentions, after that really odd remark.”

His face flushed a brighter shade of red, though there seemed to be a spark of understanding in his dark eyes.  “Oh, right, your ability thing.  She, uh, she really helped a lot in coming up with this.  A grand romantic gesture to show that I, um, meant it.  That I fancy you, I mean.  So, I took some, um, painting lessons and made this and got you these.”  With his free hand to his masterpiece and the flowers, respectively.  “I was just looking forward to working on the painting with her …”

Clearly, this was not going how he expected, but hearing him say that caused a wave of relief to crash down over you.  It was enough to make you let out a laugh, this absurdity of the situation certainly didn’t help either.

Before he could say more in his panicked state, you spoke up, “I fancy you too, Jae.  But you didn’t have to go out of your way to do something like this, you could’ve just told me, you dweeb.”

His shoulders sagged as he let out the breath he was holding, undoubtedly scared that you had been about to reject him.  However, his relief quickly gave way to an awkward smile.  “Hey, I’m not a dweeb—it’s a lovable dork to you, now.”

You let out a small snort at that before approaching him and gently taking the bouquet of flowers from him.  It was impossible to not smile like an idiot while holding them, eyes shifting between him and the painted canvas beside him.  Now that you were closer, you could tell that it wasn’t very skilled, but it was distinctly Jae and thus perfect in your eyes.  

“Well, thank you, Mr. Lovable Dork.  You really didn’t have to, but … this was very sweet of you, which is surprising.”

“I have my moments.”

The two of you shared a silent smile, your mutual happiness and relief radiating throughout the entire classroom.  After a few moments of basking in those emotions, Jae’s eyes flickered between your eyes and lips and you felt your pulse accelerate.

“But, uh, can I go ahead and kiss you?”

“Yes,” you said, perhaps a little too emphatically.  It was enough to make that familiar smug smirk work its way back onto his face, so you quickly tacked on some humor to defuse it.  “But you better not kiss and tell.”

His eyes laughed at you, but he leaned toward you and gently pressed his lips to your own in a shy first kiss, smiling into it all the while.

Chapter Text

Ben Copper

Ben was wandering the halls of Hogwarts, trying to find the temporary classroom for the Astronomy Club meeting, when he heard some classical music drifting from one of the classrooms.

Curiosity got the better of him and he followed the music to what appeared to be the Muggle Dance classroom.  Peering in, he was surprised to see you, the resident curse-breaker and his friend, dancing.  You were practicing your pirouettes en pointe, making them look absolutely effortless as you twirled.

“Wow,” he breathed out, unable to stop himself from staring.

“Amazing, right?!” Rowan interjected from where they were seated near the door, book forgotten in their lap.

Ben let out a yelp as he fell back into the door, startled by the friend he had failed to notice.

You stopped in place, concern in your eyes.  “Ben, are you okay?”

“Y-Yeah, I’m fine, sorry.  I’ll—I’ll just be going now.  Have a meeting to, um, get to,” he said, before quickly adding on, “But, uh, you dance really well.”

Before you could respond, he took off with a hand clamped over his mouth, he continued on his search for the meeting room—unable to stop thinking about the grace you moved with.


 

Barnaby Lee

Barnaby wasn’t entirely sure where he was going, a result of taking a wrong turn on the Great Staircase and ended up in a part of the castle he’d never been in.  While wandering, he heard some music drifting down the hall.

Excited at the prospect of finding someone who could help him, he followed the sound.  When he found the room and peered in, his jaw dropped at the sight of you dancing.  You were masterfully darting around the room as you practiced dancing in allegro.

“Woah!”

You froze, staring at your newest audience member.

“Amazing, right?!”  Rowan added on, beaming up at Barnaby from where they were seated on the ground.

He grinned down at them.  “Seriously!  I’ve never seen anyone move like that in my life.”

Something clicked in his head as he whipped his head back toward you.  “Could you teach me?!”

“No, you’d need an actual teacher … and shoes.”

His shoulders sagged as he pouted.

“But you could stay and watch for now, if you’d like?”

He perked up again immediately and happily spent the rest of your practice session next to Rowan, green eyes soft with admiration, unable to look away from you.

Chapter Text

Rowan unlocked the front door to the place you had called home only a week prior.  The door swung open thanks to a gust of wind, revealing the entryway to be precisely how it had always been.  Yet it felt different.  The atmosphere heavy and unnaturally silent.

No one moved forward.  Finally, Ben took the step forward and turned around to force a smile at his friends, arm still in a sling.  “The sooner we get this done, the sooner we can leave and start—start moving on.”

Rowan said nothing, lips quivering as her eyes started to fill up with tears once more.  She didn’t need to say anything, everyone knew what going in would mean.

It meant you were truly gone.  A reality that none of them were mentally prepared to face—not after losing Tonks, Fred, Beatrice, and Barnaby.

He turned back around, taking a deep breath in, and pushed past the door, with Bill right behind him.  Penny placed a hand on Rowan’s back and helped guide the other girl inside, doing her best to steel her fragile nerves to be the pillar of support she needed.

All of them stood in the entrance.  The door swung shut behind them, slammed back into its frame by the wind.  Both Ben and Penny jumped at the sound of the door 

Bill cleared his throat and nodded his head over to the direction he knew to be your bedroom.  “Her, uh, her parents said they’d like the photo albums she had in her room.  You know … the ones.”

Ben grimaced as he heard Rowan start to sniffle and Penny subsequently try to shush her.  He couldn’t stand the sight of his friend crying, so he didn’t turn back around.  They contained all the photos your group of friends had taken while at Hogwarts.

“How about you and I handle going through the bedroom, Bill?  And, uh, maybe you two could go through the living room and … office—well, I think that’s what that extra room was, at least.”

“We can do that,” Penny said, still rubbing Rowan’s back.

As they started to move, Bill stopped and turned back to the girls.  “Rowan …  If this gets to be too much for you, you don’t have to stay.”

“But I do, this is—this is something I just … need to do.”

He pressed his lips together, disapproving of how he knew she was pushing herself to be there, but he said nothing.  Unfortunately, he understood it all too well and he knew that Penny did as well.


Ben and Bill stopped and stood in your bedroom, just taking in the sight .  It looked like you could return at any given moment

The thought made Ben’s heart squeeze in his chest and let out an awkward laugh, uncertain of what else to do with the tension building within him.  With the silence broken, he was able to venture forward.

“I guess we should start looking …  I’ll check their bookshelves and you, um, can check under her bed?”

Bill’s eyes ventured to the sling around Ben’s arm.  His blue eyes darted up to his friend’s brown ones and he   “Yeah, that’s probably easiest.  Even if you are the king of charms.”

The younger man flashed him an anemic smile before turning toward the bookshelves, running his fingers along the tomes you had collected.  Some of them he had bought you as gifts for your birthday.  He was surprised at how nice several of the volumes on your shelf were, they were leatherbound and gilded—collectors’ pieces.  Were they gifts?  He couldn’t remember anyone ever giving you such expensive items, though …

Bill peered under the bed and let out a low groan at seeing box after box underneath the bed.  He muttered under his breath, “Merlin’s beard …  Just how many things did she keep under here?”

Standing back upright, he waved his wand and an ungodly number of shoe boxes flew out and stacked themselves.

Ben turned around upon hearing the flurry of sound from the boxes arranging themselves on the floor.  “Crikey!  What is all of this …?”

“Who knows,” he said, crouching down to the one plastic tub that dragged itself out, “but only this one is large enough to have the albums …”

He popped the lid off and, sure enough, there were the series of photo albums.  In addition, there were copies of the Daily Prophet tucked alongside them.  They were all of the ones that discussed your exploits, along with some even older ones that detailed Jacob’s—from when he started making headlines to the time he went missing.

While he was occupied going through the papers, Ben awkwardly got down on his knees, sore body protesting.  He pulled one of the boxes into his lap and removed the lid, eyes widening upon seeing that it was filled with letters.

He lifted the top one and turned it over.  There was no return address, but yours was written in beautiful cursive and the wax seal that remained attached was a metallic, emerald green—a dragon stamped into it.

Thinking little of it at first, he turned it over and began to read the letter.

12 December, 1994

My dearest,

I hope this letter finds you well, as always.  I am sorry to hear that your boss is not treating you with the respect you deserve.  However, I’m sure he will come to his senses with time and see how much of an asset you have been.  He is a fool otherwise.

As much as I dislike rubbing my good fortune in the face of your troubles, you did ask how my work was going.  We got a new dragon here, a Peruvian Vipertooth, and she is most interesting!  So far, I have had the best luck in getting her to eat as she settles in, a distinction of which I prize greatly.  They are notoriously feisty, you know.  Charlie likely passed on that nugget of truth to you at some point or another.

Regardless, I miss you more with each passing day and I eagerly await the next time we may meet.  As you said, writing simply isn’t the same as talking face-to-face and I long to hold you once more.

I apologize for the short letter, but I am working around the clock as we are short of staff thanks to an accident.

Ever yours,
Felix

“Oh,” Ben whispered, stomach churning with dread as his eyes darted back and forth over the letter.  “Oh, no.”

“What?” Bill asked, looking over at Ben, eyebrows drawn together in worry.

His question fell on deaf ears as Ben began rifling through the letters, desperately hoping that what he thought was happening wasn’t the case.  But it was.  Every single letter was from Felix, the only thing that changed was how hurried his writing was between letters.

“Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no—”

“Ben!  Earth to Ben, what’s wrong?”

Bill quickly set aside the tub, moving over to his panicking friend’s side, who was still unresponsive, his large brown eyes staring transfixed at the letter.

“Hey, breathe, Ben.  It’s okay.”

He carefully removed the letter from Ben’s hand and skimmed over it, blue eyes sliding shut as soon as he had.  “Are these all from Felix?”

“Y-Yeah, all of the ones in this box, anyways.”

Bill set the letter back in the box before grabbing the next box and immediately saw that the.  Flipping through the letters, his fingers came across one that felt crumpled.  He pulled it out of the pile to get a better look at it.  The parchment had been crumpled, seemingly numerous times, before finally being smoothed out.  There were small stains all over it, which he quickly figured out were old tear stains.

Knowing that he shouldn’t, but being unable to help it—he began to read Felix’s elegant scrawl, this time the writing was clearly rushed.  Ink blots were scattered , it was a letter written.  

There was no way it contained anything pleasant.

November 7th, 1992

My darling,

It is with a heavy heart that I must tell you that I have decided to go through with the marriage.  Already, I have done so much to disappoint my family and I there are certain expectations I feel like I cannot shirk, no matter how desperately I wish I could to be with you.  And only you.

I will seldom see my own wife thanks to my work and it will placate my family.  I know that this may sound crude and heartless—and perhaps it is—but this is not a match made of love.  So, I shall say it: It is not uncommon for those who are trapped in an arranged marriage to find love outside of its confines.  And you already have my heart in its entirety, to do with as you please.

That being said, I take full responsibility for any harm this may bring you.  I understand if you wish to sever all ties and I will respect your decision and cease all communication immediately.

Just please, do know understand how deeply I have come to care for you over the course of being your pen pal.  Never did I think that I would fall for the meddlesome Curse-Breaker when we first started writing upon my graduation.

Yet, here we are all these years later, trapped in this unfortunate set of circumstances together through no fault of your own.  

I want

I wish for you

I hope you can forgive me some day.

Yours now and forever,
F.R.

Bill just stared at the letter, stunned into silence.  This was too much for him to wrap his head around.  Always, he had thought himself as a close friend of yours—a big brother you told everything to.  And yet?

You had kept this a secret for at least six years, possibly seven since it sounded like the two of you had been romantically entangled for a while when that letter had been written.

Felix was, indeed, married and while his wife—a perfectly reserved and timid member of the Nott line—had been absent from the battle, he had been sought out and killed during the conflict for being on the side opposite to his family’s.  For being a traitor to their idea of traditions.

Bill knew that his wife had cared immensely for Felix, he had witnessed her grieving.  Did she know?  Or did she just not care about your relationship?  Felix’s first letter seemed to paint a different story.

He was jarred from his thoughts as Ben spoke up, he had been going through other boxes in the meantime.  “It looks like she kept their correspondence from the time he graduated to … you know when.”

“Right.”

“Do you think his wife knew?  She was making—an, an awful scene at the school.  Between him and her family …”  Ben’s face screwed up in a wince at the memory.

Bill finally put the letter down, his hand coming up to rub at his scars out of habit as he thought over the question.

“I’m sure she did.  There’s no way,” he trailed off, unable to finish the thought aloud.  Unwilling to speak that ugly possibility into existence.

The two of you were too respectable, there was no way …  Yet he didn’t want to read any further to find out.  If the truth wasn’t what he expected then it would tarnish both of your memories for him.  

Something that neither of them could bear to do.


Penny was the one who found the letters on your desk.  Rowan was curled up on the couch in your makeshift office, eyes staring blankly at the bookshelf lined with beautifully gilded volumes.  She needed a moment after rifling through your living room.  It felt wrong to go through your things, like she was disrespecting your privacy.  And she couldn’t.

But she needed to.

While Rowan was preoccupied with her thoughts, Penny went through the desk you had used for all of your writing and work.  There was nothing that she thought would be of interest to your family.  However, the set of three letters resting atop your desk proved to be more promising.  

She felt like she shouldn’t, as if you were still around to be upset with her prying, but maybe they contained something your family would want to read?  Perhaps you had written something out, just in case you fell in battle.  Or maybe she was the only one who had done that, not wanting to risk parting without a proper farewell.

With a heavy heart, she picked up the pieces of  parchment and was quick to cock her head slightly to the side at the sight of the unfamiliar writing.  It was too elegant for most members of your friend group, but simpler than the handwriting belonging to Badeea, Talbott, and Andre.

30 April, 1998

My love,

I know it has been a while since I last wrote, I apologize if I caused you worry.  I am safe for the time being, Lee and his family have graciously offered me lodging for the time being.  Thank Merlin for them, I would be lost without their kindness.

When I was asked to return by my wife, I did not expect to be pulled into this conflict as I was.  It sounds as if there is to be an attack on Hogwarts soon.  I expect it to occur in the next couple of days, based on how they were talking about it.

I beg you to please stay home and be safe.  I must participate, as I feel responsible for righting some of the wrongs my family has committed, but you—you have been through enough.

I cannot lose you.
-Your Felix

Penny had to reread the letter twice to be certain that she just read what she thought she read.  She stole a glance over at Rowan and felt herself relax at seeing the other girl still staring off into space.  It was a terrible thing to be relieved about, she knew, but given the circumstances …

She shifted that letter to the back of the pile in order to read the next one.  This time, the writing was messy and sharp, as if it was written in a fit of sheer desperation.

1 May, 1998

Darling,

I beg of you to reconsider.  Perhaps it’s hypocritical of me to wish you to stay safe while I will be in imminent danger.  However, I would rather one of us survive this than neither.  And I vastly prefer for that be you.

Your friends are important to you, I understand that, but you have already put yourself in such great peril for them.  They want you alive just as much as I do, which is to say—the thought of your death is unbearable.

Stay safe.  Please.
-Your Felix

As she read through the letter, Penny had to press her lips into a firm line, feeling her throat constrict from a sense of dread.  She already knew the ending to your story, now all she could do was wish in vain that you had listened to Felix.  That you were still there.

Finally, she tucked that letter to the back and had to pause upon seeing that it wasn’t Felix’s writing.  Immediately, she recognized the style and it made her blood turn to ice.

It was yours.

1 May, 1998

Love,

I just got your last letter.  You cannot change my mind!  I’m sorry.  I won’t let you be in danger, while I’m safe at my house.  That’s so against my values that I don’t even know where to begin.

Plus, to hide my face after everything my friends and I have been through?  I couldn’t show my face to any of them ever again.  I need to be there to help keep them safe.

If we can, I think it’d be best to team up and fight together.  And afterwards, we can

The last stroke of the ‘n’ slid off the page.  There was no doubt in her mind that you were writing this letter when you heard that the battle was about to begin.  She held the very last thing you had written, unfinished and never seen by its addressee.

Her memory of the last time she ever saw you flashed in her mind.  You broke away from her and Beatrice after seeing Tonks recklessly run past while shouting out her husband’s name.  Your cries out to her fell on deaf ears, so you pursued her in order to prevent him from battling on her own.  And so you had followed her into the indiscriminate arms of death, unbeknownst to Felix.

The reminder that the two of you were gone and that, worst of all, she could’ve done something about it brought tears to her eyes.  Tears slid down onto the crisp parchment, a loud sniffle breaking the heavy spell of silence.

“What’s wrong, Penny?” Rowan asked, moving back onto her feet.

She shook her head and ignored her tears, quickly pressing the letters to her chest in order to keep them from Rowan’s eyes.  This wasn’t something she could know, it’d destroy her to know that you kept something so important a secret from even her—your best friend.

“It’s nothing.  I just … I found some stuff she wrote about our fifth year and it mentions …”

It was a thinly veiled lie, but given her own grief clouding her discerning judgment and how heartbroken Penny looked, her usual skepticism didn’t tip her off to that fact.

Rowan approached her, dark brown eyes filled with empathy and concern.  “Here, I’ll take them and put them away.  You shouldn’t have to expose yourself to such things right now …”

Panic seized the blonde as she watched her friend draw closer, uncertain of what she could do to prevent her from reading them.  It was then that it dawned on her, the reality that destroying them would be the kinder thing to do.  For both Rowan and your memory.

“No!” Penny’s grip tightened on the letters, scared that Rowan would take them from her.  “I-I’d like to burn them.”

Rowan’s face scrunched up at the notion as she continued moving toward her.  “Why?  I understand that it’s sensitive for you, but it’d be erasing an important part of her narrative and our history, since she took the time to write about it.  If you don’t want them, then I’ll—”

Before she could move any closer, Penny broke away and darted around the desk as she made a beeline for the living room.  In her panicked state, she barely registered the fact that her friend called out her name over the loud sound of blood rushing in her ears.

Yanking her wand from her pocket with a fumbling hand, she pointed it at the fireplace halfway across the room. “Incendio!

The flames roared to life and she tossed the letters into the fire as soon as she reached it.   Her fingers curled into her palms as she watched the letters crumple and blacken in the heat.  Watching your last exchange with your lover burn felt perverse, but it was the kindest thing to do.  Or so she told herself.

But how would Rowan have reacted to finding out that her dearest friend had been keeping such a gigantic secret from her?  It wasn’t something that Penny could stand to witness.

The other witch only stood in the doorway, brows drawn up together as she helplessly watched Penny burn what she believed to be your writing.  Perhaps she could’ve stopped her, but she couldn’t bring herself to do so—knowing that Penny and Bill both had the worst of it, having lost both friends and a sibling.  Your memory was important, yes, but so was her living, grieving friend.  

There was no winning.  But it was possible to avoid any such further destruction if she finally built up her courage and stepped up to the plate.

“I’ll finish going through the office, you should take a break …”

Penny didn’t respond as Rowan slipped back into the office, her blue eyes reflecting the flickering golden light from the flames as tears streamed silently down her face.


Ben stood up, a little unstable in his movements, and Bill quickly leapt up to support his friend and prevent him from toppling over.  He only gave the taller man a slight nod of thanks as his brown eyes focused on the piles and piles of boxes that contained.

“Do you think it’s safe to assume these are all their letters?”

“Probably?  It seems like she put a great deal of care into organizing them.”

Ben was silent as he pulled out his wand with his good hand, he pointed it at the stacks before his eyes darted between them and his friend, uncertain.  “Should I?”

Bill looked at them, heart heavy with guilt as he nodded.  “I hate to do it, but if his wife doesn’t know and this information was to fall into the wrong hands …”

It’d cause needless suffering.  However, it’d also create the potential for a scandal and Ben couldn’t stand the thought of your reputation being tarnished when he could prevent it, not after everything you did for him over the years.

His brown eyes focused on the stacks of boxes in front of them with determination.  With a series of fluid motions of his wand, two spells were cast back-to-back.  The Fire-Making Charm followed by a ring of the Flame-Freezing Charm, creating a contained parameter while also protecting your floor from being set aflame.

The boxes were rapidly engulfed by brilliant orange flames, years upon years of letters being devoured in their wake.  Bill and Ben watched in heavy silence until only ashes remained.

With a flick of his wand, the dying flames vanished and the Flame-Freezing Charm was dispelled.  Another and the window in your room flew open, wind quickly swirling in through the opening.  A final swish and the cinders levitated off the ground before he sent them out the window to be carried away by the strong winds.

The window slammed shut as the evidence was disposed off, allowing the still, tomb-like silence to reign your home once more.


Drops of rain started to fall by the time they stepped back outside, the darkness of what promised to be a stormy evening settling in.

Rowan locked your door one last time before slipping her key in the hiding place where she knew you kept your spare.  Just in case you didn’t have your wand on you and also lost your keys, she recalled you joking about once.  The memory brought a smile to her face, even in spite of the raw grief still aching in her chest.

Ben lifted his wand and a jet of faint silvery light eased out, spreading upwards and then out to shield him, Bill, and Penny from where they stood, waiting for their friend to finish.

With a deep breath, Rowan turned back to them and joined them under the protection of the Umbrella Charm.

“How about we go get some glasses of Butterbeer after we drop this off?” Bill suggested with a weak smile, adjusting the tub with the albums under his arm.  “Think we could use something to warm ourselves back up, after all that.”

Penny and Ben were silent, their gazes both focused blankly on the place you had once called home.

Rowan gave him a nod, her smile becoming slightly less half-hearted.  “I think that’d be a good idea.”

And with that, the four of them Disapparated together to your parents’ home, three of their hearts forever heavier with the weight of knowledge best kept secret.

Chapter Text

Talbott glowered at you after you had grabbed onto him mid-Apparation to the village of Hogsmeade in order to enter the castle, as instructed.  The sky was a velvety pitch black, the only light outside of the sleepy village came from the pale blue glow of protective enchantments being set up around the castle of Hogwarts.

“You need to go home.  You could’ve gotten spliced by pulling a moronic stunt like that.”

“I could’ve, but I didn’t and I am not about to let you face this alone, Talbott!”

“You’re not an Auror.”

“But I am a member of the Order, just like you,” you said, poking him in the chest.  “Besides, I have more experience facing Dark Wizards than most of the people who’ll be fighting!  I’ll be an asset, not a hindrance.”

His expression only hardened at your logical rejection of his point.  “You’ll be in danger.”

That was the crux of it, wasn’t it?  However, the two of you had gone through this same conversation numerous times already.  As much as you may have understood why he was so scared of losing you, this was something you needed to do.  

He needed to that through his thick skull and you were at your breaking point.

“I’ve been in danger this entire bloody war!  I’m going to see this through to its bitter end.  They’re going to need all the wands they can get and I’m sure as hell not letting you fight on your lonesome.  Auror or not, you’re still my husband.  And there’s nothing I hate more than watching you fly off into danger—never knowing if you’ll come back home in one piece.  
“If you think this is bad, try living every day when the love of your life pursues Dark Wizards as their job.  I’ll at least stay with you through this, which is more than I’ve ever had!” you ranted at him, jabbing your finger into his chest for emphasis whenever you could.

Some lights went on in a nearby house, but you didn’t care.  Your nostrils were flaring as the Animagus stared down at you, his eyebrows raised in surprise at your display.  It quickly melded into a look of horrified realization and then of understanding.  

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t,” he trailed off as he shifted his gaze to the building beside you, guilt clearly weighing heavily upon him.

You let out a low sigh as you rested your hands on his shoulders, giving them a comforting squeeze.  “I know and I’m sorry too, but I haven’t been able to get you to understand any other way.  I’m just as scared of losing you as you are with me.”

He looked back at you and brought a hand up to gently rest atop of one of yours.

“We’ll be stronger together, love.  After all, the saying is that birds of a feather stick together, right?” you asked, doing your best to give him a small smile.

It earned you a half-hearted smile from him.  “Perhaps it was mildly charming the first time, but you’ve used that line way too much”

“Well, it is my go-to whenever you’re being a bird-brain.  So that’s no one’s fault but yours.”

He shook his head before gently pulling your hand off of his shoulder and taking a step back, ready to start heading toward the Hog’s Head Inn.

“Come on, let’s go group up with the others and find out what we can do to help.  I’ve never been one for idle chatting when there’s work to do.”

You gave him a wordless nod and gave his hand a squeeze, telling him to go ahead.  The two of you walked side by side through the mostly empty streets, it seemed like people were only just beginning to stir.  Waking up to the news that a full fledged battle was going to break out.

Before you could enter, he paused with his free hand on the door knob to throw a glance over to you.  “I do hope you understand that I’m not letting you out of my sight.  I’m always going to have my eyes on you.”

“Oh, trust me, I know.  But I don’t care since I’m not letting you out of my sight.”

He gave a small eye roll, but otherwise said nothing further as the two of you entered the dusty inn for the first time in years—hand in hand.


Chaos ruled as the battle broke out into the courtyard.  Giants, untransformed werewolves, and Death Eaters felt as if they were everywhere.  Gliding over the scene, you and Talbott scoured for where reinforcement was most needed.

Your eyes locked onto a pair of girls—probably no older than 18—being overwhelmed by a trio of fully grown Death Eaters.  Without a second thought, you dove down and transformed back into your human form right as you landed.  

Talbott was right behind you and the two of you engaged the Death Eaters, giving the two girls time to escape.  The pair of you were able to overpower them fairly easily.  If you were a gifted duellist during your school years, you were a seasoned professional thanks to the war.

You stunned them fairly easily and Talbott finished them off by Transfiguring them into toads.  Their wands clattered to the ground as they hopped off, desperately trying to avoid being trampled in the pandemonium.

“Impressive, dear,” you shouted

“Thanks, love.”

The two of you transformed back into your Animagus forms and took to the sky once more, looking for the next place you were needed.

This strategy served you well and you were able to prevent Barnaby from being mauled by Fenrir Greyback and later keep some Death Eaters off of Chiara as she tried to heal up some of the fallen.

It was when you dropped in to help Felix Rosier that things took a turn for the worst.  Due to his particular brand of traitor status, he was facing especially fierce opposition out of a desire to kill the traitor.

Talbott and you provided him cover long enough for him to slip away, falling back behind.  However, there were so many that the two of you were unable to keep up, quickly becoming overwhelmed.  Thinking quickly, you and Talbott took jumped behind nearby columns for cover, affording you enough time to shift forms and get out of there.

Almost as soon as you were both airborne, you noticed two jets of black smoke right on your tail feathers.  It seemed as if somebody didn’t appreciate you helping Rosier slip out of their clutches.

You and Talbott veered off, going in separate directions in order to split the Death Eaters up.  All you could do was hope that your aerial tricks and speed would be enough to outdo them.  Otherwise …

Well, you didn’t want to think about it.

Spinning and dodging their attempts to grab you, it didn’t seem like you’d be able to get rid of them by normal means.  It seemed as if you’d need to take a more desperate measure  and hope for the best.

Tucking your wings tightly against your body, you took a dramatic dive through one of the open air hallways, weaving and dodging through rubble and high-reaching flames.  The Death Eater was still hot on your trail.

In a split second decision, you decided to take a risk and took an exceptionally sharp turn around a corner before quickly transforming back into your human form.  It was too quick, far too quick, and you ended up hitting the ground with a great deal of force force—pain jolted through your legs upon impact.

You fell to the ground with a cry, wand flying out of your hand as you made contact with the cold stone of the floor.  Forcing yourself up on your elbows, you tried to reach out for the wand, desperate to be able to defend yourself.  You didn’t think your legs weren’t broken, but it was hard to tell with the increasing level of adrenaline pounding through your bloodstream.

The masked Death Eater looked down at you, most likely grinning.  “I don’t think you’ll be needing that anymore.  Accio wand.”

Your loyal wand flew the short distance into the hands of the strange man, who was undoubtedly going 

“You shouldn’t have gotten in my way.  Crucio.

Agony—white-hot and vicious—seared your very bones.  All you could focus on in those few moments was the sensation of pure and utter pain.  It felt like an eternity

However, its end was abrupt and you didn’t even have enough time to gather your wits about you before figuring out the reason why.

Talbott, in his eagle form, had ripped the man’s mask off and was clawing at the man’s face with his talons, though he had his head turned just enough to look back at you.  Your torturer had dropped the wands and was instinctively trying to pull the eagle off, meaning that your husband was temporarily safe.  Any relief that sight may have brought you was quickly washed away as an incoming torrent of black smoke crossed your vision.

“TALBOTT!” you shouted, right as they shifted back into their corporeal form upon landing.

But it was too late.

You watched helplessly, wandless and weak, as your husband was sent flying into the nearest wall at a high velocity.  Crack.  A sob of disbelief tore its way from your throat at the terrible sound of his back making contact with the wall.  He was forced back into his human form almost instantly, his eyes—though unfocused—were still on you.

Before he had even slid to the ground, the newly arrived Death Eater pointed his wand at him once more.  “Avada Kedavra.

You didn’t feel it, but you heard yourself scream at the top of your lungs as that terrible spell made contact with his body.  Killing him instantly. 

Even though they were unseeing from death, his eyes were still on you.  You couldn’t look away from him, trying to force yourself up to run to his side.  It was hopeless, you knew, but you needed to do it.  That’s all you knew.

Avada Kedavra.”

Green flooded your field of vision before you slipped into nothingness.

Chapter Text

You decided that today was going to be the day.  The day when you finally ate breakfast in the Great Hall, instead of dining by yourself in your House’s common room.  Rowan would often join you, along with some of your other Housemates, but it made you feel like a burden—no matter what they may have said.

Making your way down the grand staircase, you could feel your heart pound against your ribs at the thought of everyone staring at you.  Everyone talking about you.  Everyone judging you.

You swallowed thickly and dug your fingernails against your palms as you descended the final set of stairs.  While you had no control over anything else that was happening, you could control yourself.  This was something you needed to do.  You needed to get over this fear and get some semblance of daily normalcy in the midst of all the chaos.

Just because people stared at you didn’t mean that they hated you, nor did it mean that they were talking about you.

After you entered the main hallway, you passed a pair of Ravenclaw students loitering around before going to breakfast.  You felt their eyes on you and heard them whisper to one another, one of them even laughed.  Sweat began to slick your shaking palms, but you pressed on.  

You could do this.  You had duelled against Acromantulas, been threatened at wand point by a Dark Wizard, and encountered Fenrir Greyback.  All were far worse than the prospect of eating in a crowded room, in front of people you didn’t know well.

However, such thoughts fled from your mind as the large doors came into sight.  Waves of severe nausea took their place, leaving your mind swimming as your breaths came in too quickly and too shallow.

You couldn’t.

You stared at the doors, tears pricking at your eyes as you fought the urge to vomit or (most likely) dry heave.  

A familiar voice called out your name, a reassuring hand.  Out of all the people to catch you in such a sorry state, you weren’t sure if you should be relieved or terrified that Ben Copper—your long-time crush—was the one.

“Just breathe, okay?  Take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it, and then exhale through your mouth.  Just like this—”

He took a deep breath in, held it for around four seconds, before exhaling through his mouth—pursing his lips and letting out his breath with a light ‘whoosh.’

You followed along with him as he continued, feeling comforted by the fact that he was participating in the exercise along with you.  Surely enough, it helped you regain some control, your nausea fading as the tidal wave of your anxiety began to ebb away.

Ben gave your shoulder a reassuring squeeze when he saw that you were no longer in the clutches of your anxiety.  “I’m guessing you were trying to join us for breakfast today?”

You nodded your head and dropped your gaze down to the floor, feeling your fingernails bite deeper into the skin of your palms.

“How about I grab us some food and we go out in the courtyard this morning?  I’ve found that fresh air helps clear my head, now that I’ve gotten over my fears of the outdoors,” he said as you glanced up, just in time to see his face scrunch up as he thought further on that statement. “Well, most of them, at least.”

“But I … I should be able to eat breakfast with everyone else.”

“Hey, there’s nothing wrong with taking your time to confront your anxieties.  You’ve taught me that better than anyone, so … please don’t be hard on yourself.  Coming even this far is a big step, you know.”

The tender smile he gave you made your face flush with warmth and your heart accelerate once more—this time for a far more positive reason.

“O-Okay.”

“I’ll be right back,” he said before releasing you and speed walking into the Great Hall.

You stood there, awkward and uncertain of what to do, while you waited for the Gryffindor to return.  The familiar feelings of guilt and fear of being a burden    It didn’t take long before he strode back out with a bowl of porridge in each hand.  One look at the smile on his face banished such negative emotions.

Even if you couldn’t eat in the Great Hall together, you knew that he didn’t mind keeping you company out in the clocktower courtyard.

Wordlessly, you took one of the bowls from him—your fingers brushing briefly in the process—and the two of you fell into step beside each other.  You couldn’t help but smile down at your porridge, savoring the contact.

When you arrived at your destination, Ben and you sat shoulder-to-shoulder on the stone edge of the fountain and began to eat your porridge in a comfortable silence.  The remnants of your anxiety drifted away, both the fresh air and the comfort of Ben’s shoulder against yours kept you grounded.

“Thank you,” you said, finally breaking the comfortable silence.

“Well, you’ve done so much for me … this is the least I could do for you, really.  I always feel like I should be the one thanking you and not the other way around …”

You glanced at your friend out of the corner of your eyes, catching the affectionate smile he regarded you with.  The tell-tale warmth of a blush spread across your cheeks, even though he quickly returned his attention to the bowl sitting in his lap and fidgeted with his spoon.

“At least we can look out for each other and be anxious messes together.  I don’t think I could’ve managed going to the Celestial Ball if I hadn’t gone with you.”

Of course, most of that was due to the fact that your feelings for him.  With anyone else, you wouldn’t have been able to stop ruminating on the way people watched you.  Instead, you were able to focus on just having fun with him and dancing like the pair of awkward dorks you were.

You watched as those words sunk in for him, clearly having an entirely different effect from what you intended.  He released the spoon down in order to rub the back of his neck and he turned his face away from you.

“I’m—I’m glad.”

He was hurt?

Realization dawned on you as you realized just how that could have been interpreted and the familiar burn of panic instantly set in.

“B-But that’s not the only reason, I mean, there was something more to why I could only go with you,” you quickly interjected, setting your bowl down.  “It’s because I, um, I—I fancy you …?”

The last words came out high pitched and strained as you blurted them out.  You would’ve winced at the delivery if one of your hands didn’t fly over your mouth when the shock of realizing you had just stated your feelings aloud sunk in.  Really, this was neither how you expected your morning to go, nor how you’d confess to him.  However, you had panicked and now those three words were out in the open between the two of you, unable to be retracted.

Ben whipped his head around, warm brown eyes wide with surprise and a hopeful smile lighting up his face.  “R-Really?”

You nodded, hand pressing even harder against your mouth as your heart continued to beat wildly out of control.

“I—I actually fancy you too, but I didn’t know if you felt the same.  You’re my best friend and I was just—I didn’t want to ruin anything or make you feel uncomfortable by telling you.  I know you struggle with social stuff and I didn’t know if this was an area that was also a problem for you,” he rambled, face reddening slightly more with each word that passed his lips.

However, he seemed to panic for a moment upon realizing that it may still be an issue and the joy faded from his face.  “Wait, it isn’t, is it?  Because if so—”

In order to gently cut him off, you held up a hand and gave him a small smile.  “Ben, it’s not, actually.  Not with you, anyways.”

His shoulders relaxed with a heavy sigh of relief.  The comfortable silence from earlier returned as you both took a moment to process what had just happened.

The two of you burst out into a fit of giggles, delighted that you felt the same and amused that you had both been too anxious to tell the other.  Once the burst of laughter tapered out and the familiar quiet returned, Ben cleared his throat.

“So, um, would you like to go to Hogsmeade on a date this weekend, then?  I think you could use a break from the Vaults …”

“I’d like that a lot, actually.”

For once, you’d be able to just be yourself and enjoy a date like any other ordinary fifth year student.  It was just the piece of normalcy you craved, though a far greater one that you had initially sought from your day.

Chapter Text

You let out a sigh of relief as you approached the table, glad to see that the two Weasley boys were already there.  Taking up Bill’s precious time was something you felt guilty about, but there was something heavy weighing on your mind.  A distraction you needed to sort out before heading into the Vaults.

“You two are here early,” you said, loosening your green and silver tie as you took the open seat at your usual table closest to the fireplace.

Bill smiled and gave a slight shrug.  “Mum sent some of my old clothes for Charlie, so we went to Gladrags to get them tailored.  Got done there a bit earlier than anticipated and figured we’d wait for you here.”

Charlie shut the book on dragon species he had been reading.  “Plus, Bill deserves a break, he’s been studying non-stop for his N.E.W.T.s, you know.”

“That I do, which is why I really appreciate you two meeting with me.  I figured you two would be able to help me with my particular dilemma,” you said, shifting your attention back to your tie, fiddling with it as you felt your face start to warm up.

“Well, no matter what’s going on—I’ll do my best to give you advice or assist you in any other way you need,” Bill said, sounding very much like your missing big brother.  The thought made your chest ache, but only for but a moment.

“And I’ll do my best too!  Though I’m most helpful when it involves dragons …  Or Quidditch.”

You smiled and shook your head.  “It doesn’t, no.  It, uh, It’s actually about Jae.”

“What did Jae do this time?” The younger of the two spoke up.

“He didn’t do anything, it’s—it’s something different,” you trailed off.

“Ah, I get it.  You fancy the lucky lad don’t you?” Bill said and you could hear the smile in his voice.

You could only nod in response, feeling too embarrassed to say the words aloud.

“I figured as much,” Bill continued at your confirmation.  “The two of you seemed to have gotten pretty close over the course of this year, being in detention together all the time.”

“Wait—What?!”

You glanced up at Charlie, who was looking between you and Bill with a confused expression on his face.

His older brother smiled at his cluelessness.  “You really didn’t notice?”

“No, I didn’t.  I just thought they were getting closer as friends, just like we are,” he said, raising a hand up to sheepishly rub the back of his neck.  “Well, I’m afraid I won’t be able to help much, if that’s the case.  ‘Fraid romance and the like is something I’ve got no clue about.  Haven’t had any time to pay it much thought—”

“Yes, I know—you’re too busy studying dragons,” you said, feeling a small smile creep onto your face.

Charlie’s face lit up at your understanding of his priorities.  “Precisely!”

“Well, I was just wondering if you’d happen to know if he fancies anyone, would you, Charlie?  Being roommates and all, I was thinking you may have heard something …”

“Uh, I can’t say that I do?  I don’t really talk at all about that kind of thing, afraid I don’t really understand it all.  Sorry I can’t be more helpful,” he said, shoulders sagging.

“It’s okay, Charlie.  You’re already helping plenty with the Cursed Vault this time around, I’m counting on you as my dragon expert.”

That seemed to placate him as he immediately perked back up.  “Now that, I can do!”

Bill took a sip before turning his attention back to you.  “I’m afraid I can’t be much help on either count.  Though, you should just tell him that you like him.  Based on my … limited experience, that seems to be the best approach.”

“I don’t know.  I’m really scared about messing up our friendship if he doesn’t feel the same,” you said, shifting in your seat from the very idea of tainting it.

He understood and “I can at least keep an ear out and see if anything definitive comes up.  Though I can say that he does talk about you a lot from what I’ve noticed, almost as much as he talks about his ‘business.’”

“He does?”

“Oh, definitely,” he said, flashing you a smile.

“Yeah, he actually does,” Charlie chimed in, rubbing his chin with his index finger and thumb, “come to think of it …”

You felt a blush creep across your face as you stared down into your drink, unable to stop the lovesick smile from spreading across your face.  If even Charlie noticed it, then perhaps it was true.

It was a promising start and you found yourself thankful, yet again, that you had such wonderful friends.


What on earth were you talking about with those two?  If only he were sitting in the booth not too far away from the table instead of across the bloody dining room.

He had noticed you were spending more time with Charlie as of late, as the two of you had studied together quite often for the O.W.L.s, more so than you had done with him, at least.  Plus, you always seemed so close to Bill and everyone seemed to have crushes on him, including Rowan.

“Hey, earth to Jae!” Chiara said with a teasing smile, waving a hand in his peripheral vision to try and draw his attention back to her.

The Gryffindor boy blinked a few times before shifting his attention back to Chiara, pressing his chin harder against his palm as he did so.  “Hm?” 

“You’ve barely touched your Butterbeer and you keep staring over at our favorite curse-breaking friend.  Did something happen between you two?  I know you two are close …”

His face flushed and he let out a cough before taking a gulp of his drink in an attempt to reset himself to a state of normalcy.  After he set the glass back down on the table, he gave her a wry smile.  “No, I guess I was just thinking about how I missed my detention buddy, is all.”

It wasn’t a lie, but it wasn’t what he was thinking about in that moment.  His delivery was smooth, at least.  So smooth that even he almost believed it.

She pursed her lips, bright blue eyes flickering between his as she tried to discern if he was being honest or not.  It didn’t seem as if she bought it, judging by how she narrowed her eyes for a couple of moments.  

However, she seemed to relent and instead lifted her fork up as she changed the subject, “Well, I just wanted to let you know that if you’re not going to eat your slice of cake, Iwill.”

“Uh-uh.  Not in your wildest dreams, Lobosca.  I didn’t bring my cake fork today for nothing.”

To make a point, he stabbed the day’s special of a homemade slice of chocolate cake with his fork and broke off a large chunk before shoving it into his mouth.  The Hufflepuff scrunched up her nose as she watched him eat it.

Between the heavenly taste and the stupid expression on his friend’s face, he was almost able to push the uncomfortable, cold pain in his chest down and out of his mind.  

It was hard to not look over at you, but he couldn’t bring himself to see you smile and blush in the presence of the Weasleys.  What this sudden feeling was, he wasn’t sure, but he could already tell that he’d need some time to figure it out …


A couple days passed and after no news from the oldest Weasley on the Jae front, you found yourself engaged in a ‘friendly’ spell casting competition with Merula, with Bill as your judge.  It was hard to focus on it, since while you had received no news from Bill, Jae was acting different and it was starting to worry you.  Still, he ruled that the two of you were equal.

Talbott was the only other person still in sight once Merula had taken her leave.  It seemed like as good of a time as any to talk with Bill about your new problem in pursuing Jae.

“Do you have a moment, Bill?”

“For you?  Of course I do.  I take it you’ve got something particular on your mind still?”

You nodded and adjusted the collar of your uniform’s shirt, suddenly feeling uncertain as to whether or not you were actually just misinterpreting recent events and making a problem out of nothing.

Bill seemed to notice your discomfort and gestured down to the grass near the dummies.  “Let’s sit down for a moment.  I know you must have a lot weighing on your mind with the Vaults and all …”

The two of you took a seat then, leaning back against the cool stones of the castle’s wall without exchanging any further words.  For a time, the two of you silently observed the Ravenclaw boy and the three eagles that were seated in front of him, seemingly engaged in some sort of conversation.

“I’ve never seen someone socialize with eagles like that …  Scratch that, I’ve never seen anyone socialize with eagles before, period.”

You cleared your throat, knowing that it’d be best to change the subject since Talbott’s Animagus status was still a secret.  “Yes, but you know what else is odd?  I think Jae’s been avoiding me as of late.”

Smooth,’ you thought to yourself with a slight grimace.

Bill frowned.  “He’s avoiding you?”

“Yeah, I think so.  I know we’re not in detention together anymore, but he won’t sit with me in History of Magic, like we always do …”

“Did something happen between the two of you, this time?”

“N-No, at least, I don’t think so.  We barely have any classes together, due to being from separate Houses.  There really hasn’t been any opportunity for a problem to arise …”

Bill was silent.

“Maybe he’s avoiding you for a different, more positive reason.  He may not even mean to be doing so.”

“What do you mean?” you asked as you pulled your knees to your chest and rested your chin atop of them.

“Well, given that the two of us have gotten to know each other pretty well, largely thanks to his troublemaking, I know he’s not the type to just ignore a friend.  He definitely seems to really care about you, judging about how often I overhear him mention your name—”

“But Charlie said—”

“Charlie’s talents lie elsewhere, he’s not really that great at this sort of thing.  I mean, I’m not either, as you know,” he said, rubbing his chin a bit awkwardly as the memory of Emily Tyler popped up once more.  “But he’s just … I don’t know.  It’s not something he picks up on.  I’m pretty sure if someone told him they fancied him and asked him on a date, he’d think they were just being friendly.”

You snorted slightly at the thought and could definitely see that happening.  It brought some reassurance to think that Bill was the more correct of the two; however, that still left you with some confusion.  “But why would he avoid me if he likes me?”

“Well, maybe he’s become a bit shy?  Or he’s not sure how to go about letting you know how he feels either?  There could be a lot of reasons, really.  I know that with the Emily situation, I probably would’ve avoided her if we were already friends …”

You let out a groan and buried your face against your knees.  “But the fact that it could be a lot of reasons is the problem!  What if he doesn’t fancy me?  You may have acted that way, but I don’t know if Jae would.  It just—It doesn’t seem much like him to me.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, patting you on the back.  “If it’s any consolation, I’m sure Jae will come back soon.  And when he does, you should tell him how you feel.  That’s the only way you’ll get your answer. …”

You let out a heavy sigh, knowing that Bill was correct on that front.  The thought that his suggestion was correct did provide some comfort, so did just talking about it with him.  You felt considerably lighter from getting it all off your chest.

Letting out a heavy breath, you did your best to focus on those positive feelings and ground yourself once more.

“Thanks, Bill,” you said and looked up at him with a small smile.  “You’re really a great friend.”

“Not a problem,” he said and playfully mussed up your hair, sporting a smile to match your own.  “Everything will work out just fine, you’ll see.  It’s best to be upfront about your feelings.”

You swatted his hand away, but were unable to stop your smile from stretching out into a grin.  “I hope you’re right.”

It was hard to imagine anything working out just fine, between having to deal with the Vaults, your missing brother, Merula’s antics, and Jae’s current strange behavior.  But you’d like to believe that something would go smoothly just this once.


Neither of you noticed Jae, who had stopped to peer around observe you two from one of the entranceways to the training grounds.  He had been planning on hunting you down to talk with you about his feelings and what was going on, since he had figured it out and decided that telling you was the best thing to do.  However, it seemed you were too occupied with Bill at the moment.

After only a few moments of observation, he had seen enough and jammed his hands in his hoodie’s pocket before he turned on his heel and walked off; unable to stop thinking about the sight of Bill comforting you, instead of him.  

That should’ve been him, or at least, he wanted it to be him.  Your happiness was really what mattered, but he didn’t know if he’d be able to stand aside without at least letting you know how much you meant to him.

His chest felt heavy as that same unfamiliar emotion, now known to him as jealousy, wrapped tighter around his heart, squeezing it painfully. 


The next day, Jae found himself in a place that he usually only Chiara was able to drag him to: the library.  The previous night, he hadn’t been able to sleep, both his mind and heart kept racing as that painful emotion ate away at him.  He knew that he needed to talk with you and, of course, your classes that day were predominantly with your fellow Slytherins and Ravenclaws—not Gryffindors.  Meaning that he had absolutely no opportunity to catch you outside of Madam Pince’s hellish domain.

Jae chewed on his bottom lip as he snuck past the table you and Charlie were seated at, with books splayed out between the two of you as you talked about something together.  Probably dragons or something related to the Cursed Vaults.  

Or maybe it was something more personal in nature.

He tugged at the strings of his hoodie as he peered out from behind the shelf, observing the two of you as that thought popped into his head.  Really, he couldn’t tell if you fancied Bill or Charlie since it seemed like you were spending more and more time with them both lately …

You looked up and your eyes met his, freezing him in place as his heart skipped a beat or two.  It felt like an eternity that the two of you just stared at each other, with you having caught him in the act.

When he saw you get up from your seat and start moving toward him, he quickly backpedaled further back into the aisle—suddenly finding himself mentally unprepared for having this talk.  Having you catch him spying was not a part of his plan.  

His back hit the wall when you rounded the corner, your school robes billowing about from how speedy your pace was.  However, his attention was immediately drawn to the look on your face.  Your eyebrows were drawn together—you looked upset and it added further strain to his heart.

“Jae!  What were you doing?” you whispered, glancing over your shoulder to keep an eye out for Pince.

“I was, uh,” he paused, eyes going wide with panic as he tried to think up an excuse, “spacing out?”

You crossed your arms over your chest as your frown deepened.  “Jae, I’m not daft.  What’s going on with you?”

He began to pull at the drawstrings of his hoodie with considerable force, opting to focus on them rather than you.  “Is it that weird for me to be in the library?”

“Jae, please.  You’ve been avoiding me and I’m not sure what I did wrong …  Did I do something wrong?”

Silence was your response, as he wasn’t entirely sure what to say.  Part of him wanted to blurt out that it wasn’t your fault, but he hesitated.  Seeing you seemingly be smitten around the Weasleys hurt and forced him to truly take a step back and think about what he wanted from your relationship.

He heard you step closer, though he only spared another glance up at you when he felt your hands come to rest on his shoulders.  Additional guilt stung his heart at the sight 

“Well, I apologize for whatever I may have done.  I’ve been wracking my brain over what it may be.  I would never do anything to upset you, I hope you know that.”

“I—I do.”

You opened your mouth before screwing it shut again, internal conflict screaming loud and clear through your expression.  His heart hammered in his chest out of fear, uncertain and terrified about what you seemed to so desperately want to say.

Finally, you let out a heavy sigh as you dropped your hands back down to your sides.  “There’s something important I need to tell you and I really don’t want to wait until after I go through the Vault in case something happens …  But—”

“It’s fine,” he interjected and gave you a weak smile.  “I’m fine, I’ve just had a lot on my mind, I guess.  I have something I should probably tell you afterwards, as well.”

He should just pull the bandaid off while he had the opportunity, if he didn’t do it then—he never would.  However, Jae was taken off guard by the way you suddenly began to wring your hands, face going red like it so often did when you were with Charlie and Bill.

“I-I fancy you.”

He stared at you, brain lagging hopelessly as he tried to process what you had just said.  It took a few awkward moments of silence before the realization snapped into place and his face immediately felt like it flushed with a heat hotter than an Incendio charm.

“You … fancy me?” he asked, forgetting to whisper as he pointed to himself.  “Not Bill or Charlie?”

SHHHHH!” Madam Pince loudly hushed as her head suddenly popped into view from around the bookshelf’s corner.  She shot a vicious glare at Jae, her usual warning for him that if he caused any further trouble he’d be booted out, before slinking away and back to her desk.

As soon as the uptight librarian was gone, he turned his attention back to you and found that you had hidden your face in your hands—looking just as mortified as he felt.  Awkward silence ensued yet again, though he was fairly certain that you were able to hear his heartbeat given how viciously it was pounding against his ribcage.

Jae opened his mouth to speak right when you took a deep breath and pulled your face away from your hands and made eye contact with him once more.  “Of course I don’t fancy them!  They’re like brothers to me and I wanted to go to them for advice about how to, um, ask you out.”

“Oh, oooh…  Crikey!” he whispered.  “I, um, fancy you too, but given how often you’ve been around them lately, I just thought—”

He cut himself off mid-sentence as he saw a spark of realization shine in your eyes.  It seemed you had connected the dots yourself.

“Wait a minute.  Is that why you’ve been avoiding me?  You were jealous?”

It didn’t seem like it should’ve been possible, but he swore that his face managed to grow even hotter.  He didn’t even want to think about how scarlet his face must have been.

“Maybe?” he said with a half smile, holding up his hands as he shrugged.

The two of you just stared at each other for a few moments before bursting into a fit of giggles at how ridiculous the situation was.

Within a moment, Madam Pince made yet another appearance and shooed you both out of the library, all the while ranting about how it was important to be quiet in such a place.  The two of you couldn’t stop laughing all the way .  It was until the doors swung shut that you were able to successfully stifle it.

“So,” Jae spoke up first, shoving his hands into his pocket.  “Do you want to go down to Hogsmeade and get a glass of Butterbeer?  Doesn’t seem like you’ll be getting back in the library any time soon.”

“I guess so.  Though you better pay for us both, since it was your fault we got kicked out in the first place.”

“Uh, actually it was your fault.  If you hadn’t started laughing, we wouldn’t have been banished.  So you should pay, especially since I may or may not have already sent that money back home.”

“Actually, it was totally your fault.  You laughed first.”

“Did not.”

“Did too!” you said and lightly elbowed him in the ribs.

The two of you quibbled back and forth as you headed down the Great Staircase to make your way down to the sleepy village.  Suddenly, everything felt as if it was even better than normal between you two, even if it was anything but smooth sailing to get there.

Chapter Text

“That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me, or at least in the top ten.  You’re always doing nice things for me … and thinking of me … and helping me understand big words …  I really like that.  

I really like you …

Those words would not stop playing through your head for the past week; however, no matter how many times they resounded through your skull you still had a hard time accepting that they were real.  That your long-time crush really felt the same way about you.   Sure, you two had gone to the Celestial Ball together, but just as friends.

Never would you have imagined that he actually felt the same way, he was just so kind and strong and handsome and—

“We can continue this another time.”

You let out a low groan as you slumped forward onto the library table and pressed your face into your Care of Magical Creatures textbook.  It had been a week since he said that, the whole Ismelda situation was sorted out already, and you still were avoiding him.  It wasn’t that hard to do, given that you were in separate Houses and didn’t have too many overlapping classes.  

As much as you may have felt the same, you weren’t sure how to tell him that.  You were terrified of making yourself look like an idiot, since all of this was entirely new to you.

“Are you still thinking about what Barnaby told you?” Rowan asked, barely above a whisper, as they poked your back.

Feeling your face flush with warmth, you only pressed your face harder against the textbook.  “Is it that obvious?”

“You’re my best friend!  So of course it is.”

You turned your head just enough to peer at them, feeling a smidge bit comforted by the warm smile on their face.  The fact that they could read you like one of their books was still embarrassing, though.

“Look,” they started after glancing over their shoulder to make sure the librarian was occupied, “You should just go and talk with him.  Between this and the Vaults and detention, you haven’t been able to focus on much of anything as of late.”

“It’s not that easy!” you said, a bit too loudly, as you bolted back upright in your seat.

“SHHHHH!” Madam Pince shushed you from her desk with a glare sharp as daggers.

Rowan flashed the librarian an apologetic smile before turning their attention back to you.  “It really is, though.  Just be honest with him, you already know he feels the same …”

“But, Rowan—”

“Trust me,” they said and cut you off as they placed a hand on your shoulder.  “It’s best to just get it over with now, than to continue agonizing over it for Merlin knows how long.  It’ll all go well.”

“But—”

“—No buts!  I know you’re able to do it, you are Hogwarts’ most gifted curse-breaker, after all.  I think Barnaby should probably still be down on the grounds, it seemed like he wanted to spend some time studying the Unicorn.”

Even though they were whispering, their tone left nothing up for negotiation—almost certainly because it was interfering with your ability to revise.  As much as you knew they were likely correct, your heart was already pounding wildly in your chest as you stood up and gathered your things.

You glanced back at Rowan several times as you made your way out of the library.  When you reached the doors, you paused and glanced back over your shoulder one last time.   

They flashed you a grin and a thumbs up and, feeling only marginally comforted, you took your leave and made your way out to the grounds.


The trip there felt like it took an eternity and almost immediately upon making your way to the corral where lessons took place, you spotted Barnaby.

Your nerves got the best of you as you hid behind one of the nearby trees, barely peering out from behind it so as to avoid being noticed.  From where you were,  you could see was the bright white of the Unicorn’s coat and mane, which made the black and green robes of your favorite Slytherin pop as he brushed the majestic creature.

The sight of Barnaby grooming it made your heart flutter in your chest, he was being so gentle, and while you couldn’t see his face—you were under the impression that he was almost certainly beaming.

“I’ve never heard of a Unicorn being so accepting of a man’s touch before.  You really are something special, Barnaby.”

The sound of Liz’s voice came as a slight shock to you, even though you logically knew that it shouldn’t.  Both were fans of Magical Creatures, after all.  They were good friends, nothing more.

So why did the way she said that make you feel … upset?

“Well, I think this one’s probably pretty used to Professor Kettleburn, so I don’t think she’s as bothered by it as most.”

“Still, I imagine it’d take someone of a veritably pure disposition.  She didn’t seem this comfortable with Kettleburn.”

He paused in his efforts and looked to his left, you could see that he looked extremely confused.  “What does ‘veritably’ and ‘disposition’ mean?”

“Ah, right …  Um, well, together it just means that you’re truly pure of heart.  And I think that’s special and will be an asset for you as a Magizoologist.”

“Oh,” he said and you watched an affectionate smile blossom across his face.  “Thanks, Liz.  You’re pretty special too!”

Your heart ached at the sight, as this whole scene carried an air of intimacy—one that you felt as if you were intruding on.  Had you really missed your opportunity with him already?  It had only been a week …

Needless to say, any courage you had mustered up from Rowan’s encouragement immediately evaporated.  You didn’t really want to see any more, it felt perverse to remain any longer than necessary.

Doing your best to sneak off, you crept away with as light of a tread as you could muster.  Unfortunately, not too far off when you were still in their general line of sight, you managed to step on a twig with a surprisingly loud crack.  You looked over your shoulder to find that the Unicorn, Barnaby, and Liz had all turned their faces in your direction, though the only eye contact you made was with Barnaby.

His surprise gave way to a brilliant spark of happiness as he excitedly called out your name, waving at you with the brush he had been using to groom the Unicorn with.  A very warm and tempting invitation to come over and join him and Liz.

However, you didn’t know if you could handle talking with him right then, not after what you thought you had just observed, anyways.  Without a word, you turned back and began to run off in an attempt to escape what seemed like a potentially awkward situation.

Not too far into your jog back to the castle, you heard heavier and quicker footsteps pound on the ground behind you.  You didn’t even need to glance behind you to know who it was, since Barnaby called out your name and confirmed it.

“Please stop,” he said between deep, ragged breaths.  “I-I miss you!”

And you did, unable to defy the hurt tone of his voice and, admittedly, stopping to breathe was a welcome reprieve.  However, you couldn’t quite bring yourself to turn around after you had stopped.  The guilt from avoiding him due to your shyness was overwhelming, blending in with your hurt at the possibility of missing your chance with him.

“Have you been avoiding me?” he asked from not too far behind you, breaking the silence.

“I … I just needed some time to think, so not … exactly.”

“But then why you ran away just now?”

You winced at how confused and wounded he sounded, but you bit your tongue—not sure what you could say to explain yourself.

“Did I do something wrong?  Or say something to hurt you?”

“No, of course not!  You haven’t done anything wrong, Barnaby,” you said, finally forcing yourself to turn around and face him.

The way his eyebrows were pulled down and drawn together, creasing his forehead and narrowing his eyes in a look of abject sadness, was like a sucker punch to the gut.  And it was your fault for not communicating with him to begin with.

“Then what’s going on?  We haven’t played any Gobstones together or eaten together this whole week …  I miss spending time with you.”

“I just wasn’t sure how to tell you … something without making an idiot out of myself, so I kept away.  But it seems like it’s too late to tell you.”

“What was it?” he asked, hands flexing as he held them low in front of himself.  “What you wanted to tell me, I mean.”

“It really doesn’t matter now.”

“Of course it does.  If it means so much to you, then it means a lot to me too—you’re my best friend.”

The term ‘best friend’ plunged into your heart like a dagger of ice cold steel.  It took everything you had to blink back the tears that were starting to well up.

“To continue the talk from a week ago and see that I—I like you too.”

Once again, his eyes went wide and jaw went slack from surprise before a warm smile lit up his entire face.  Before you could so much as blink, he closed the distance between the two of you and pulled you into a bear hug.

“That’s—That’s great!” he said; however, his enthusiasm was shortly extinguished when you did not reciprocate the hug.

Realization dawned on him and befuddlement followed suit, he pulled back and slipped his hands up to rest on your shoulders instead.  “But why did you think that it was too late to tell me that?”

His confusion mirrored your own as you just stared up at him for a couple of moments, feeling completely lost rather than over the moon with happiness like you should’ve been.

“But I thought—I thought you and Liz were …”

“Were what?”

“I don’t know, were something ‘special’ to each other, based on that

While he listened to you, his confusion only seemed to deepen as he cocked his head to the side.  His emerald green eyes shifted between your own, as if that would help provide him with some clarification.  

“She’s … just my Magizoology buddy and a great friend.  I only feel special when I’m with you, so if I have something special with anyone—it’s you …  I like you.”

So, that was just a platonic expression of affection you had observed and you had just misread it.  And terribly so, at that.  You felt like an absolute idiot and you wished you could just vanish yourself from existence out of the sheer embarrassment of not only confessing to Barnaby, but doing so from a place of misunderstanding.

After a few moments of awkward silence, you decided to ask something to gain some semblance of reassurance.  “And, um, what’s special about me?”

His confusion finally melded back into a look of puppy-like happiness as he thought over your question for a few moments, eyes finally locking directly onto yours.

“With you, I feel like I’m … home, or at least what I think it’s supposed to feel like.  I just feel so happy and safe when I’m with you, even when we’re in a bunch of danger.  Plus, it also kind of feels like whenever I beat someone in a duel—it’s a rush—but it’s … different, I dunno how to really describe it.  I’ve just, I’ve never felt this way about anyone before.”

By the end of his explanation, you were unable to stop the tears from flowing, this time out of happiness, rather than despair.  Everything was blurry, but you could feel his hands tighten on your shoulders in a panic.

“I’m sorry!  Why are you crying?  Please don’t cry!  I’m—”

You silenced him by grasping the sides of his face with gentle hands and pulling him down toward you in order to capture his lips in a gentle first kiss.  It took him a couple of moments to ease into it, which was understandable given how surprised he undoubtedly was from the sudden gesture.

In fact, he melted into it as he relaxed the grip of his fingers on your shoulders.  His lips moved gently against your own, a bit clumsy from inexperience, but it was just as soft and warm of a kiss as you had imagined it would be.  It was perfect, even if silent tears were still streaming down your cheeks.

When you regretfully pulled away from the brief kiss, you wiped the tears from and let out a small laugh at the confused expression on his face.

“You make me feel like I’m home, too.  I’m crying because of how happy you just made me, Barnaby.”

His response came in the form of sliding his left hand up to cup the side of your face, the cool metal of his rings feeling pleasant against your flushed skin.  You leaned into his touch as your hands naturally slipped down and away from your face, instead hovering just in front of your chest.

Instead of saying anything further, he leaned down and gently pressed his lips to your own in another pure kiss.

Chapter Text

It was true, your boyfriend, Talbott Winger, was a quiet young man.  While he had become more sociable with your friend group over the past year, he was still a person of few words—curt and direct while peppering in the occasional pun.  Though he was more open when it was just the two of you, alone.

Yet that hadn’t been the case for the past week.  He hadn’t even spoken a single word to you, making it an excruciating seven days of silence.

Not only was he giving you the silent treatment, though—oh, no—he would also take off at the mere sight of you.  Quite literally.  When you had tried to approach him in the Owlery two days ago, he transformed and flew out of one of the windows.

There was no doubt about it, he was straight up avoiding you.  But the question of the hour was why?  You had no clue.  Nothing out of the ordinary had happened around the time this behavior started.  

You had chatted with Bill about it following your training sessions under Rakepick and he didn’t seem to have any clue about it either.  At least he helped provide you with some comfort, him and Rowan both made the distance with Talbott a bit more bearable.

As much as you did your best to respect his boundaries and let him have the space he needed, you had a feeling that this was going to continue on until you got to the root of the issue.

And so, that’s why you found yourself staked out in front of the stairs up to the Ravenclaw Tower—trying to catch him on his way up to eat his meal in the common room, as he had taken to doing again.  You just hoped he wouldn’t fly when he was holding a tray of food …

Ten minutes of waiting were rewarded when he rounded the corner, tray of food in hand.  However, he quickly froze mid-step when his reddish brown eyes landed on you.

Before he could come up with a plan to flee again, you held up a hand.  “I just want to talk about what’s been going, Talbott.  Please.

He looked down at his food, shifting his weight between his feet as his shoulders slumped in defeat.  However, the clipped words that came out of his mouth were in stark contrast to that.  “There’s nothing to talk about.”

“If it was nothing, you wouldn’t be avoiding me like the plague.  Did I do something wrong?”

“No!” he said, eyes snapping up to meet yours once more—wide with alarm.  “No, you’ve done nothing wrong.  It’s just …”

“Just what?” you asked, voice softer as you moved over to stand just in front of him, though your close proximity was enough to drop his gaze away from yours once more.

A drawn out silence settled over the two of you, though it was more pensive than awkward.  You weren’t about to force him to share anything he didn’t want to.

“It’s just—I’ve been feeling something … unpleasant and unbecoming.  Mainly whenever I see you spending time with or talking about Bill.  You’ve been spending more time with him lately, which is understandable given Rakepick choosing you for a group together, but I still get this sick, twisted feeling in my stomach and I just … I don’t know how to deal with it outside of distance.”

As you listened to him speak in a considerably more articulate fashion about his feelings than you had ever heard him do before, you found yourself growing progressively more shocked.  While you were happy he finally trusted you enough to be so open about his emotions, you hadn’t expected this to be the issue creating distance between you.

“You’re jealous?”

He nodded, keeping his gaze fixated on the platter in his grasp to try and avoid looking at you.  The notion that he had been hurting without you realizing it hurt, but at least now you could do something now that he was being open about it.

“Tal, it’s completely normal to be jealous sometimes …  There’s nothing wrong with it or anything to be ashamed of.  In fact, I have to admit that I get jealous of the owls sometimes,” you said, only half-joking.

He snorted at the notion, but his expression quickly fell back to its normal serious neutrality.  “Wait, you’re not serious, are you?”

You gave him a small half-smile and a shrug, glad to see his gloomy expression break to something lighter.  “Well, for the past week I have a little—since you’ve talked with them far more than you have with me.”

"That’s … That’s fair,” he said, balancing his tray with one hand as he scratched his cheek.

Another thoughtful silence fell over you once again as you took a few moments to think of what to say next.

“The problem with jealousy comes when you let it get in the way of things and don’t communicating with me.  Like you’ve been doing by avoiding me.  If you told me, I would’ve been able to assure you that Bill is just like a big brother to me and just … also help you learn how to process it.”

“Ah, I see.”

You smiled at his rather short response at your lengthy reassurance, knowing that it was his own way of saying he’d think over what you said and, hopefully, learn from it.

“With those eagle eyes of yours, I would sure hope you would.”

He snorted and shook his head, eyes deigning to meet yours again, this time shining with mirth.  “You’re ridiculous.”

“So are you, but at least we can be ridiculous together again.”  You punctuated the sentence by leaning over—careful to avoid jostling his food—and placing a chaste kiss on his cheek.

“That we can,” he said as his face flushed and a small smile worked its way onto his angular face.

You couldn’t help but smile with satisfaction as you rested back onto the balls of your feet, relieved that the air between you was finally clear once more.

Without further ado, you moved past him and back in the direction to the grand staircase.  “Now, let’s go down to the Great Hall and actually eat together.  There’s a lot I have to get you caught up on.  You won’t believe the trouble I’m about to get myself into, all for a stupid portrait.”

“Knowing you?  I’m sure I will.  Trouble might as well be your middle name by this point,” he said, falling into step beside you.

“What about Tulip?”

“Hers too.  You’re birds of a feather on that count.”

The two of you continued to chat on your way back down to the Great Hall, hearts feeling lighter from being liberated of the taloned grasps of jealousy and worry.  At least for the time being, but you had hope that you’d be able to learn how to navigate such feelings in the future.  Together.

Chapter Text

The fastest way to get down to the library from your final class of the day involved cutting through one of the open corridors that lined a courtyard.  Normally, that wasn’t a problem; however, it had been snowing since late last evening—it was cold and windy on top of it.  Most students were taking the longer routes within the castle to avoid venturing outside, but you weren’t exactly most students.

When you reached the door, you prepared yourself by slipping your wool gloves on and pulling your red and gold scarf over your nose.  Yet you still shivered when you opened the door and the bitter December wind hit your face.

You crossed your arms against your chest, hugging yourself, as you began to speed walk to your destination.  However, as snowflakes blew in around you, you found yourself slowing down and glancing out to the empty courtyard.

The snow brought with it a sense of nostalgia and memories of winters past, warm and comfortable in contrast to the weather’s icy bite.

Eventually, you came to a stop and rested your gloved hands on the beige stone of the railing.  Staring up at the dark grey clouds looming above, you allowed your mind to wander.

The courtyard was covered in a thick layer of snow, pristine due to minimal use of it over the day.  The way the large snowflakes fell reminded you of the Snowflake Creation Spell Merula had taught you.  You smiled to yourself as you remembered just how it had become a tradition for the pair of you.  It had undoubtedly become the best part about remaining at Hogwarts over winter break for you.  

Though it seemed like this year you’d be returning home for once, meaning that you likely wouldn’t be able to partake in it this year …

The sound of a door opening and closing from the corridor across the way snapped you from your reveries.  You were about to resume your trek to the library when the other person popped into view, most likely taking the same shortcut you were.

The messy brown hair with an orange patch was a dead giveaway.  However, you were quick to crouch down and you hoped you had managed to do so before she could spot you.

This was a prime opportunity to catch her off guard and you weren’t about to miss it.

You pulled your wand out and crept over to the archway out to the courtyard, keeping yourself hidden behind the edge.  With a small twisting motion of your wand some snow near the entrance balled up into a perfect snowball.

You peered around the edge and locked your sights on Merula, who was halfway across the courtyard by the time you decided to strike.  Your head popping into view was enough to distract her, as she started a bit from the sudden—immediately drawing her wand on reflex.  Though as soon as she saw it was just you, her magenta eyes narrowed in annoyance and she lowered her wand.

Ha ha, very fun—”

You whipped your wand in her direction too quickly and the snowball hurtled toward her, cutting her off when it hit her square in the shoulder.

Merula’s eyebrow twitched in annoyance, “How old are you?  Ten?”

“What are you, boring?”

She rolled her eyes from annoyance at your remark, though it wasn’t long lived since you moved to create another couple of snowballs from the thick layer of snow.  You weren’t going to let things, though hiding behind an archway was hardly chivalrous.

“Don’t even think about it,” she hissed, glowering at where the snowballs were forming as she readied her wand.

Your couldn’t help but smirk at her as you crept out from behind your cover, opting to place a hand on your hip as you cocked your head to one side.  “What?  Is the best witch at Hogwarts scared of losing to the resident curse-breaker in a little snowball fight?”

She stomped her foot and the snow crunched under her heavy black boot.  “I am not!  I’m just above this kind of childish behavior—unlike you.”

“Well, to me that sounds like an excuse.  You’re just scared I’ll beat you in a snowball fight like I did with duelling.”

As the two of you were talking, you kept twirling your wand with subtlety, building up the snowballs.  Before she could think of responding to your quip, you let two of the snowballs fly toward her, making them arc in an angle toward her left, waiting until she was about to destroy them before sending the third one to arc more horizontally to the right—aiming for her head.

Sure enough, she was distracted by the first two and failed to notice the third one, enabling it to hit her directly in the side of the face.  Your free hand flew up to cover your mouth, trying to conceal the snort of laughter that tore its way through your throat at Merula’s surprised expression.

“Oh, I’ll make you regret those words and that,” she said, bright eyes seething with rage as she brushed the snow out of her hair.

“Not possible!  I have no regrets.”

“That’s because you’re too stupid to realize when you should,” she said, “Like right now.”

And with a flick of her wand, the snowball fight was truly on as she sent four snowballs careening at you.

“You missed—Oof!

A rogue snowball cut you off, flying to hit you directly in the gut with a surprising amount of force.  You hadn’t even seen it coming.

“Fell for your own trick.  Just how idiotic are you?”

“As idiotic as you are, apparently, considering you fell for it first.”

She scrunched up her face, but opted to respond by waving her wand to begin generating a number of snowballs to pelt you with.  You returned the favor, creating your own series of snowballs.

The fight was on and you weren’t about to lose.


 

What had to be half an hour passed, but it still didn’t seem any closer to ending.  Your legs were feeling quite sore from running about, trying to physically dodge when you weren’t fast enough to destroy all the snowballs.  Numb pricks were all you could feel with your fingers, even with your warm gloves.  

You didn’t know how much longer you would be able to hold out given the cold, though she didn’t look much better for wear either.  This had to be the most serious snowball fight to ever break out on Hogwarts grounds and you were starting to grow desperate for it to end.

Your life flashed before your eyes as Merula began to whip up a miniature snow storm around her—angry after you hit her directly in the face (for the third time, no less).  You knew that she was going to likely try and crash that snow down upon you like an avalanche.

Fear gripped you as you did the only thing you could think of in a moment of sheer impulsivity: Tackling her to the ground to prevent her from finishing the spell.  A light grunt left her as she made contact with the thick layer of snow, the perfect amount to soften the fall.

“I win!” you said, grinning down at her, relishing in the way she glared daggers at you.

“Because you cheated!  If you hadn’t done something so moronic, would’ve won by actual strategy and ability.”

“Hey, I just took a page out of the Slytherin book—y’know cunning?”

“I’d hardly call that cunning, more like braindead,” she said, eyes narrowing as she glared up at you.  “You’re the worst, just what I’d expect from a Gryffindor.”

“I think you’re just unable to accept that I, the worst, bested you.  Which means … you’re being a sore loser, Merula.”

“Well, maybe I’m sore because you tackled me.”

You bit your bottom lip to try and hold back a laugh at the remark, enjoying this moment a bit too much, perhaps.  However, it was then that you realized how close to her you were as you loomed over her: Your faces were only inches apart.  She seemed to realize it too, and quickly turned her head to the side, a bright blush creeping its way from her cheeks down her neck.

Before she could rudely shove you off, you rolled off from on top of her and sat down in the snow beside her.  She sat up as well, nose scrunching up as she ran a hand through her hair to brush away some of the snow that had gathered there.

You regarded her for a moment, taking in how ridiculous she looked covered in snow with her hair sticking out every which way.  There was no doubt in your mind that you looked just as disastrous and the thought tickled you.  Barks of hearty laughter filled the courtyard, as you turned your face away from her abruptly to let it all out, unable to hold it back any longer.

Another set of giggles echoed alongside your own, softer in volume yet rougher around the edges in quality, breathy and high.  You didn’t register it at first, but your laughter died in your throat the moment it did—amusement giving way to delighted shock.

You whipped your head around back to her, eyes wide as a broad grin split across your face.  “Did—Did you just laugh?!”

“N-No, of course not.  Don’t be stupid!  I don’t laugh and I certainly would never do so because of you,” she said, though the way her face flushed scarlet and her avoidance of eye contact betrayed her.

The combination of how flustered she looked and her over the top refutation warmed your heart.  For as tough as she was, she certainly did have her moments of being cute.  You couldn’t help but stare, not wanting to say anything further and risk her from feeling like she couldn’t do that in front of you again.

After a few moments of the awkward silence, she moved to stand up, huffing, “Well, I’ve got things to do, unlike you.  Apparently.”

Before she could fully stand up, you grabbed her wrist on an impulse.  “Hey, are you going to be staying at Hogwarts for break this year?”

She paused, looking at you as if you had grown a second head from the random question.  “I always do.  Why?”

Your heart beat erratically against your rib cage as you stared up at her, nerves spiking as regret for your impulsivity sunk in.  “I was just, um, wondering if maybe you’d like to spend it with my family this time?  I’ll be going back home for once …  My parents wouldn’t mind having you over, I’m sure.  They’ve liked Barnaby when he’s been over in the past.”

A few beats of silence passed as she stared down at you, blankly, before she spoke, “Why would I ever agree to that?”

The words stung, they always did with her, but the way those brilliant eyes of her darted to the side told you that it was just bravado.  You cleared your throat and released her wrist, opting to readjust your scarf and pretend like her words didn’t wound you.  You just needed to give her an excuse to and she probably would agree … right?

“Well, given our pursuit of the Vaults, it’d only make sense for us to be on break together so we can train.  I have a lot to learn from the best witch at Hogwarts, after all.  I mean you did just about win that snowball fight …”

She stood up to her full height and took a couple of steps toward the courtyard’s exit without so much as sparing you a glance, an action that felt like a sucker punch to the gut.  However, you felt hope well up inside once she stopped and looked back at you over her shoulder—letting out a dramatic sigh as she did so.

“Well, if you put it that way, I guess it’d be better than to practice by myself,” she said before turning her face forward once more, jamming her gloved hands in the pockets of her robes.  “Besides, I don’t think I could pass on our tradition, anyways.”

The rapid crunching of snow echoed through the empty courtyard as she made her way back inside, not lingering to let you respond to her subtle admission.  Your annual casting of the Snowflake Creation Spell together meant something to her, just as it did to you.

You sat there for a few moments more after you heard the heavy wooden door shut, unable to wipe the lovesick grin off your face as snowflakes continued to fall around you.

Chapter Text

Myron Wagtail always had a talent for pushing you a little more outside of your comfort zones.  Just when you thought you’d reached a point of reaching full confidence in yourself, he found something new to test you with.

He had been the friend who directly contributed to your growth from a timid second year to the emboldened fifth year you were about to start your next year at Hogwarts as.  It was all the direct result of three years of a rather unconventional friendship with someone who seemed to be the opposite of you in so many ways.

And now you found yourself helping him and the boys pack up their music equipment, costumes, props, and some of their personal possessions into the janky tour bus for when they’d be hitting the road the next day.  All by manual labor, no wands or magic.

Doing things by hand ‘helped build character’ and ‘enrich the soul through experience’ according to the vocalist, which was also why they were traveling by bus to begin with.  You felt that it perhaps built more than just character as you lifted a heavy duty guitar amp and carefully dragged it to the bus.

Kirley and Orsino lapped you on your way, shoving some of the remaining props into the bus.  The drummer offered to help you at one point, but you rejected it—wanting to do this on your own.  

Finally though, you shoved the piece of equipment into the undercarriage and let out a sigh of relief as you shook your hands out.  However, you couldn’t shake the sorrow that was starting to cling to you.

It hadn’t felt real until this evening.  The Weird Sisters had become a fixture of your time at Hogwarts, it was hard for you to imagine them not being there.

“Looks like that’s all of it for tonight,” you heard Orsino announce from behind you, breaking you out of your thoughts.

“Well done, everyone!  I believe it is time for you to two to go home and sleep like the dead.  It’s a big day, full of traveling and preparing to play.”

“Right, see you bright and early tomorrow.  G’night,” Orsino said.

You heard two pairs of footsteps retreat up the steps and into the complex where the three of them currently stayed.  Shortly after, you heard another pair approach you and you steeled yourself for the conversation that was to follow—for the goodbyes you’d have to exchange.

“You okay?  You’ve been channelling more Kirley than usual—standing there and silently staring into the dark of the undercarriage like that,” Myron asked, voice laced with equal parts concern and warmth.

Finally, you turned around to face him and forced a brittle smile smile.  “Not really.  This has made everything feel so real, with you going off on tour and me going into my fifth year in a couple of weeks …  I’m really going to miss you, Myron.”

He ruffled your hair gently, giving you one of his half-smiles.  “Hey, I’ll always be just a letter away.  Besides, I bet you’re going to be too busy getting dragged into trouble and machinations that only you could get into.”

“It just … It won’t be the same without you at Hogwarts.”

A few beats of pensive silence passed before he spoke up again.  “I believe I have some last words of wisdom before this tour to pass onto my favorite curse-breaker before heading out on tour …”

“And what would those be?”

He gently patted your shoulder a couple of times before resting his hand on it.  "Parting, no matter what kind, is always a bitter pill to swallow.  It’s a form of change and change is always a challenge.  Listen to the pain, harness it, and create something new through it.  After all, the word ‘art’ is contained in the word ‘parting.’”

You hummed as you thought over his words, rubbing your chin with your thumb and forefinger.  Somehow, they made you feel better (as his words often did), but you found yourself feeling confused about one tiny little detail.

“What type of ‘something’ do you have in mind?  I haven’t really had much time to get creative at school in years past …”

“Well, there’s no better time to join an instrument-based music club than your fifth year.  It’ll be conducive to blowing off steam from revising for your O.W.L.s … if you revise at all, that is.”

“You’re still trying to get me to join your band, huh?” you asked, punctuating it with a short laugh.

“We could always use a pianist or a fiddler.  And who better than someone who’s already an honorary Weird Sister?”

You couldn’t help but smile at him.  “I’ll … consider it.  Though I don’t know how musically inclined I’ll prove to be.”

“That’s all I can ask for,” he said before stepping beside you and linking his arm with yours.  “Now come on, Sister, let’s go grab a drink at the Leaky Cauldron to celebrate!  Tonight we focus on merry memories and stave off the melancholy of ‘morrow.”

You shifted your arm to fit around his comfortably and smiled up at your dear friend.  “Lead the way!”

And with that, Myron Disapparated the two of you to the pub and inn for what was to be a cozy evening walking down memory lane together.  And undoubtedly only one of many more evenings out with him to come.

Chapter Text

You and Barnaby had just settled into bed after a hectic day when the storm abruptly rolled in.  It started off light enough, but it quickly picked up as.  A clap of thunder reverberated through your cozy home, the lights flickered overhead twice before you were plunged into total darkness.  Terrified wailing pierced the air from your infant son’s room just down the hall.

You and your husband shared a look before you both hopped out of bed, grabbed your wands, and nonverbally cast the Lumos charm before you padded to the nursery.

Lumos Maxima,” you cast and flicked the ball of light toward the ceiling, bathing the entire room in a cool, white light.

Barnaby was quick to tuck his wand into the waistband of his short pajama bottoms and rush over to the crib, murmuring words of comfort down to your son.  Your eye was caught by something metallic glinting in the harsh lighting and you couldn’t help but smile at seeing that he had taken the time to slide his Unicorn slippers on.

He picked up your son, Jacob, rocking him side to side as he cradled Jacob and shushed him.  Your smile only grew at the sight, though your attention was drawn to the nearest window from how loud the rain was echoing against it.  Curious to see just how bad the storm was now raging, you approached the window.

A heavy sigh escaped your lips after you pulled back the curtain and watched how the rain slammed mercilessly against the glass.  “It sure is raining cats and dogs out there …”

“… Is that even possible?  I’ve definitely never seen it rain animals before.”

You turned back to see that your husband had that look of pure confusion on his face—dark eyebrows furrowed so closely together that they scrunched his emerald eyes up in the process, lips pursed.  Jacob was squirming less in his arms, hysteric crying giving way to minor sniffling.

“It’s only a matter of speech, love.  It’s still raining water, I just meant that it’s pouringdown, now.  Haven’t you heard that phrase before?  It’s quite common.”

“No, but I think I get it …”

However, his still-confused expression did not inspire confidence.  You could only shake your head as you approached him, your attention shifting away from his lack of understanding and onto your considerably calmer soon.

“How is it that you’re always?  He’d still be crying if I had tried to comfort him first …”

A proud smile crossed Barnaby’s face as he shifted your son in his arms, bouncing him gently to keep him placated.  “It’s all part of the job.”

You slipped your arm around him, wand still in hand, and pressed your face against his shoulder as a low rumble of thunder roiled overhead.  A chill ran down your spine, contrasting sharply with the warmth of the domestic scene playing out in front of you.

Barnaby didn’t seem to sense it, but it felt to you as if there was an electric tension in the air.  But, surely, that was just a figment of your imagination.

“It’s still not fair,” you whined playfully, doing your best to fend off your foreboding. “I’m pretty sure you’re going to be the favourite parent.”

“I doubt it.  I’m sure that as he gets older, he’ll start favouring you. You’re so much smarter and hard-working than I am, after all.  He’s lucky to have a parent like you.”

Glancing up from your infant child, you met your husband’s large green eyes—brimming with warmth and affection.  Even though you were both perpetually exhausted between dealing with the sleeping schedule that came with being the parent of a baby and the odd hours you sometimes had to work for the Order.  

You really didn’t understand how he was able to always be so positive, in light of everything, but it always made you feel safe and loved.

“Hear that, little man?  Though you better love us both equally, since your dad’s just as amazing as me—if not even better.”

Taking your free hand, you wiggled your fingers before tickling.  Barnaby chuckled and leaned closer to you, giving you slightly easier access to the small bundle of joy.

While looking after such a young child was often draining and, often, dirty work—it was moments like these that made it all worthwhile.  That reminded you of the future you and Barnaby were fighting for.

You were taken out of it when the light overhead went dim, rapidly dying out.  With a regretful sigh, you pulled away from your small family and lifted your wand.

Lumo—

—A strange whirring sound ran overhead, barely audible over the sound of the downpour assaulting your rough.  However, it seemed like Barnaby had heard it too, as you both looked up at the same time.

As you opened your mouth to try again, there was another one.  More distinctive this time.  Closer to your roof.

You swallowed thickly as your heart began to pound in your chest.  It sounded remarkably similar to a sound you had only heard once before: Death Eaters using their dramatic smoke-trail style of Apparition.  

However, that just couldn’t be.  Liz was your Secret Keeper and that would mean … no.  You shook your head, dismissing the notion outright. 

It just couldn’t be.

You turned to Barnaby, wand lowering as you whispered, “What was that?”

Before he could respond, there was a bright flash of lightning, followed by a clap of thunder so loud that it rattled the windowpanes.  Jacob began to scream bloody murder, making it hard to hear any other sounds.

“I don’t know—shush!  It’s okay, I’m here, Jacob,” Barnaby said, turning his attention back to the baby as he shifted.  Free hand drawing his wand out.

The gesture made your stomach sink, knowing that it meant his mind had gone the same direction as yours.

Suddenly, there was an explosion of glass from each of the three windows as they shattered inwards.  On reflex, Barnaby waved his wand to cast a quick protective shield around the three of you—just enough to bounce the glass shards harmlessly to the floor.

Lightning flashed once more, illuminating the three Death Eaters now standing in your house—the silver accents of their masks catching the pale blue light.  For a moment, the room was electric with terror from the promise of the battle that was to come.

“It’s time you pay for abandoning your family and its values, Lee,” said the Death Eater you were both facing.

“What’d you do to Liz?!” Barnaby shouted, setting Jacob off once more.

The man only laughed, responding by firing off a line of red light at your husband—which he promptly deflected with a smooth arc of his wand.  Enraged at the gall of the Death Eater, you fired off a Reductor Curse, which the Death Eater reflected with the same ease as your husband.

And so, it began.

Jets of blue, red, and white were lighting up the room; accompanied by the occasional pale flash of lightning.  Heavy rain was pouring in.  Wind was tearing through.  Furniture was being smashed, being destroyed as deflected spells made contact.  Jacob’s keen shrieks were splitting through the room, making it impossible to make out spell incantations.

It was chaos.

Yet by some miracle, you and Barnaby managed to back up toward the door, as the three Death Eaters were unable to fully surround you.  All you needed was to get to the door.  A moment was all you’d need to Disapparate to safety.

Just a moment and you were so close.

A bolt of green light shot toward your family, aimed downward to make it harder to avoid.  It made contact with one of Barnaby’s slippers, scorching it as it burst into green flames.  He quickly kicked the slipper off as it was incinerated.

So close.

The two of you continued to stumble backwards, putting all your effort into just deflecting the attacks.  Jacob’s scream intensified as a shock of white light made contact with Barnaby’s upper arm, slicing deep into the skin, just barely above where Jacob’s head was. 

There was a volley of orange jets that seemed to immediately follow, but you grabbed Barnaby—still doing his best to redirect—and pulled him past the door frame.  You waved your wand and the door slammed shut behind you, right in the face of a Death Eater who had lunged after you.

And with a crack the two of you Disapparated, perfectly in time with the pop of the door sealing shut from your spell.

image

As you popped into place on the street outside of 12 Grimmauld Place, you were greeted by the light drizzle of rain.  A promise of the storm that was to soon reach London.

Jacob’s wailing paused as he spat up, all over himself and poor Barnaby, from his first time Disapparating.  If your husband noticed, he didn’t show it.  He was just staring into space, chest heaving.

Your head felt jumbled and words felt beyond your reach.  Yet you instinctively managed to vanish the spit up with a mere flick of your wand before taking his free hand with your own trembling one.

He looked at you then, eyes watering with large tears.  You watched as he tried to speak, Adam’s apple bobbing in his throat as his lips parted.  But no words came out.

Tears of your own began to form, heart absolutely broken at the sight of Barnaby so tormented.  But even that felt strangely distant in the aftershock of the Death Eaters’ invasion of your home.

It didn’t feel real.

You heard yourself say, “Let’s go in, Bee.  They might know something …”

Barnaby only nodded, letting you lead him up the stairs to the Order’s Headquarters so you could knock on the door.

Mrs. Weasley opened the door, brown eyes snapping wide as she took the two of you in.  You knew you must have looked like quite the sight: You in your tattered pajamas and Barnaby with only one Unicorn slipper, a deep gash in his right arm, and holding a sobbing child.

“Come in, come in, dears!”

Everything felt numb and muffled as you watched her fuss over the two of you, yelling for Arthur and Bill.  You could only vaguely remember Molly presenting the two of you with a thick green and silver duvet she had fetched, though you were unable to recall her leaving to do so.

She ushered the two of you into the living room You took Jacob out of Barnaby’s arms as you sat down on the couch, hugging your son to your chest and running a hand up and down his back as you hummed under your breath.  Molly drew the duvet around you and Barnaby, chattering words that your brain didn’t seem able to process.

However, you responded to her questions, though you didn’t really feel like it was you answering them.  Through the fog, you understood that you were relaying what happened, but anything further than that was lost on you.  The voice was yours, yes, but it sounded like only a distant echo: Yours, yet not yours simultaneously.

Arthur and Bill left first, but Molly lingered for a while longer.  More words and fussing before she returned to the kitchen.

The two of you just sat on the couch, waiting in a silence as oppressive as the aesthetic of the room you were stuck in.  Eventually, Jacob quieted down and fell asleep against you, though not with the same ease that he would’ve if it had been his father who comforted him.

Not long after your son had been lulled to sleep, Arthur came in, looking simultaneously grave and nervous as he stood before you and adjusted his glasses.  A couple of painful seconds passed without him saying a single word.

“And?” you heard yourself ask.

“I’m—I’m sorry.  There were signs of a struggle in her home and if they were able to find you …”

Those words came in clear, piercing through the veil over your mind, like the strike of a Runespoor.

You felt the hand that had been comforting Jacob move to come to a rest on the back of Barnaby’s neck and pulled his face to rest on your shoulder as he sobbed.  

A weak smile was Arthur’s signal he could take his leave.  And he did.  

Once the kitchen door clicked shut, you seemed to automatically lean forward and pressed a kiss to your husband’s brow.

None of it felt real yet.

In the course of a single night, you had lost both your home and one of your dearest friends and gained two more reasons to fight on.

At least you still had your family to weather through this storm with.  You’d make it through this and everything else the future would hold for you, together.

Chapter Text

You sat up in your cot hoping that Madam Pomfrey would give you the clear to go soon enough since you were bored out of your mind.  Even with the Cursed Vault business seemingly sorted out for the year, there was still all the fallout you had to concern yourself with.

Your nose scrunched up at the thought and you glanced over at Merula in the cot across from yours, uncertain as to whether you should be relieved or concerned by the fact that she was still sleeping.

At least you were fine and now had plenty of time to figure out how to handle everything during the tedium of being confined to a cot.

The injuries were mild at best and the combination of potions the matron had given you had already had you feeling considerably better.  Practically good as new, aside from a few scratches here and there along with some still healing burns that would heal into scars.

At least, that was until your boyfriend, Andre, came rushing in.  His signature scarf was askew, his brows knitted tightly together, and he looked exceptionally rigid.

The sight rendered you speechless, he was always—always—the picture of calm and collected.  Needless to say, any semblance of a good mood from having this year’s Vault done was gone.

Madam Pomfrey was quick to intercept Andre and scold him for storming in unannounced, giving him the usual lecture as she attempted to shoo him back toward the entrance.  Yet he was strangely silent, despite physically resisting her, and his dark brown eyes never left you for a moment.

Your concern only reached new levels upon observing what was happening

“It’s—” you started, trying to get her attention, only to frown as the matron seemingly ignored you.  So, you raised your volume as you continued, “It’s quite all right, ma’am!  I’d like to see him … please.”

She looked between you and Andre a few times as she considered whether or not she should fulfill your request.  

Finally, she let out a sigh.  “Very well, but only for a few minutes.”

“Thank you,” you said, giving her a weak smile before shifting your attention to Andre, who still looked like the picture of concerned.

He was quick to approach the cot you were lying in and immediately reached for your hand, taking it in his slightly trembling hands.

“Andre—”

“—Are you—Are you okay?  Charlie mentioned that you duelled a dragon.  A Hungarian … Horntail.”

“Yes, I’m fine.  I did duel a Hungarian Horntail, which did do a bit of a number on me, but I came out on top in the end.  As always,” you said, flashing him a smile that quickly faltered.  “I think I should be asking you if you’re okay, since you look worse than I do.  And I fought a bloody dragon.”

“No, I’m not.  I just—”

He cut himself off, mouth opening and closing as he seemed to hesitate to say whatever it was on his mind.

“You just, what?”

He pursed his lips together as he dropped his gaze to focus on your hand, giving it a gentle squeeze.

“I just wish you let me come along.  I should’ve been there.”

“Andre, we’ve talked about this.  I don’t—”

“—want me getting hurt, I know,” he said, voice softened by pain.  “But you can’t … you can’t really be saying that while you’re lying in a cot in the hospital wing.”

“Ah,” you said as your own hypocrisy sunk in and sunk back down against the stiff mattress. “I … suppose you do have a point there.  However, the other’s did get buried in rubble and Merula was on the receiving end of the Cruciatus Curse.  Something could’ve happened to you, too.”

“Or I could’ve helped.”

“Andre … I was with plenty of our most competent friends, you know that.  If they couldn’t do anything, then—”

“But it’s just—it’s not fair.  You let them accompany you in spite of the danger.  I’m always left on the bench, waiting for you to return and hoping that you’re okay.”

“It’s because you’re too important to me, love.  And I couldn’t stand it if you got injured and couldn’t play Quidditch due to an injury, or getting kicked off the Ravenclaw team, or so many other terrible things.”

“But I know the risks and I’m just as okay with them as everyone else.  Probably even more, since I’m your boyfriend, I need to be there for you.”

You winced as you heard his voice crack; however, your tongue felt like it was stuck to the floor of your mouth.  You were rendered speechless once again, entirely uncertain as to what to say at that particular display of emotion from him.

The silence hung painfully in the air, you could practically feel it pressing down and crushing your heart.  However, it was nothing compared to the words that left Andre’s mouth next.

“Am I just not … good enough?”

That shock was enough to loosen your tongue back up as you lurched back up into a sitting position, heart pounding wildly in your chest as you could only gawk at him.  Did your confident, wonderfully talented Andre really just ask that?

“No, no, no!  Oh, sweet Merlin, no!  That’s not it at all—”

However, you were cut off by Madam Pomfrey loudly clearing her throat, looking at you with a fiercely hawkish gaze.  “You need to rest.  As such, I believe it’s time for you to leave, Mr. Egwu.”

You were quick to protest.  “But—”

“No buts.  Lay back down.”

Instinctively, you shrank back down onto the cot, but whispered to Andre, “We’ll—We’ll talk about this later.”

"All right,” he said weakly, eyes finally looking back up to meet your own.  Only to reveal that they were welling up with tears.

Never had you seen Andre cry and the image tore through your heart like a bitter dagger.  Worst of all?  You could only watch as he walked out, feeling entirely helpless under the stern gaze of Poppy Pomfrey—who seemed none the wiser of the situation the two of you had been in, outside of your abrupt movements that had triggered her attention.

You could only stare up at the ceiling blankly, the ornate stonework blurring together as your mind flooded with guilt.  The severity Andre’s suffering had gone entirely unnoticed by you, when you had been close friends for so long and were now even more than that. 

Perhaps you truly did curse everything you touched …  You could only hope that you’d be able to break this one without regretting it down the road.

Chapter Text

You watched Barnaby with raised eyebrows as he prodded at your television set, only minutes after inviting him into your humble home.  When you had invited your boyfriend over to hang out and maybe go out and do something together in London while your parents were busy at work, this wasn’t what you had expected.

“What’s this, again?  It starts with a ‘t’ or something, yeah?  I think I’ve heard rumors about it before …”

“It’s … the telly.  Do you really not have one?” you asked, unable to wrap your head entirely around the concept that some wizards and witches really were so removed from the Muggle world that they couldn’t recognize a television.

He turned over his shoulder to look at you, brows furrowed from a lack of understanding.  “No.  Why would we?  I don’t even really know what it does.”

You grabbed the remote and with the press of a button, the television flickered to life.  Barnaby let out a gasp and you had to fight the urge to laugh as he pressed his face to the static-charged screen.  However, he quickly pulled back and whipped his face around toward you, eyes wide with an equal combination of horror and confusion.

“Blimey!  There’s—There’s tiny people trapped in this box!” he shouted, glancing back at you to point emphatically at the screen.  It was short-lived, since he quickly turned back and began to address the newscaster, , “Are you okay, sir?!  Hey, can—you—hear—me?”

You snorted, pressing a hand up to your mouth to try and contain any giggles.  It wasn’t Barnaby’s fault, this was his first time being around such technology, after all.

“I—No, no it’s like—like one of those magical photos!  They can’t hear you, it’s all prerecorded images.  No one’s in there.  They’re just talking about the news.”

Oh,” he said, almost immediately calming down as he rocked back on his heels.  “So you use this … magic box to learn about what’s going on?”

“It runs on electricity, but yes, for the most part.  My dad still reads the newspaper.  But it does more than just tell us the news.”

“Like what?”

“Well, we have programmes that tell us stories or show people having fun, too.  It’s not all boring.”

Barnaby looked between you and the television, “Could we watch something like that together, then?”

“Well, I’ll have to see what’s on, but why not?”

And so, you managed to flip through and find a game show that caught Barnaby’s attention.  He watched the rather ordinary episode as if it were the most fascinating thing he had ever laid eyes upon.

You couldn’t help but watch him more than the show itself, since his reactions were infinitely more interesting.  He seemed too wrapped up in the show to really notice.

image

Later that afternoon, the two of you strolled over to the nearest grocer’s to get some ingredients to make cookies with.  Barnaby seemed quite interested in the cars, quizzing you about the different models—which you could only do your best to answer as accurately as possible.

At the shop, he gawked at the fluorescent lighting above as you grabbed what you needed and put them in the hand basket.

After you were rung up and the items were bagged, he proceeded to grab them and , still managing to push the door open ahead of you.

“Is everywhere lit up like that?” he asked, shifting the paper bags into a more comfortable position as he fell into step beside you. 

“Yeah!  It’s actually weird to not have electricity for Muggles.”

Barnaby glanced around, looking at all the buildings with a renewed sense of awe.  “That’s mad.”

“Well, using magic isn’t really an option for us, erm, them.  So, technology is necessary.”

For the rest of the walk home, he continued to ask questions.  Not always understanding your responses, but trying his best to, regardless.

After getting all the ingredients laid out and grabbing the necessary equipment, you grinned over at Barnaby.  “So, are you ready to make cookies the Muggle way?”

“I am!” he said, puffing out his chest in confidence, before quickly deflating.  “I think, at least.”

“It’s similar-ish to Potions, but not nearly as hard.”

His eyes flickered between you and the counter where the ingredients were

Everything was going well in the few steps leading up to you busting out the mixer to get the dry ingredients all nice and 

“What’s that?” he asked, eyes lighting up at the new contraption.

“It’s a hand mixer.  You just plug it in, like so,” you said and plugged it into the nearby socket.  “And then, you can turn it on and it does the mixing of the ingredients for you!”

“That’s amazing!  I don’t get how any of it works, but show me how it works!”

“Better yet, I can let you try it out yourself,” you said, handing it to him.

In what would prove to be a lapse of judgement, you decided to let Barnaby have a go at it, since he seemed so intrigued by the simple contraption. 

“Just flip it to this setting.”  You pointed to the lowest level on the mixer.  “And move it around, it’ll mix everything together in no time.”

He did as you instructed, though he flinched slightly at the whirring noise of the mixer’s motor.  The dry ingredients were looking perfectly mixed and you were about to tell him to stop when

“What does this moving this up do?”

“Barnaby, no—”

Too late.

He flipped the switch up to the high mode and the dry ingredients went everywhere.  Everywhere.  The flour more so than any other component of the mixture.

Even in your attempt to dodge out of the way whilst shrieking, both you and Barnaby found your faces and torsos covered with the ingredient from the initial blast.  However, thanks to his impeccable reflexes, he managed to quickly switch it back off and dropped the hand mixer back down in the bowl.  Shocked and confused at what had just happened.

The two of you just stared at each other, taking in how ridiculous the other looked covered in a fine layer of flour.  You snorted at the wide-eyed look on his face, which was only enhanced by the fact that it was covered in flour.  A burst of laughter quickly followed, Barnaby’s laughter soon mingled with yours—only making you laugh harder as you doubled over, with tears starting to well up in your eyes.

It eventually subsided and you were able to force yourself back up, wiping away the tears as you let out a shuddering breath.  He managed to calm himself back down too, though his grin quickly faltered as the guilt at making such a mess set in.

“I can clean this up, give me a moment,” he said before fishing his wand out of his pocket.

He had to think for a moment as to remember what charm Flitwick had taught that would do what he wanted, as household Charms weren’t exactly his specialty.  However, after some digging around his memory, he was able to mutter the incantation and the mixture managed to pull itself away from the counter, wall, and off of you and hovered back into the bowl.

“Thanks, love,” you said, leaning up and pressing a chaste kiss to his cheek.

At least messes weren’t as much of a headache when you had, such a minor use would only get a warning letter sent to your house—if that.

“But how about I just handle the technology stuff for now, yeah?  And maybe next time you can help me.  Maybe.

“Yeah, that’s fair,” said Barnaby, rubbing the back of his neck as a light bush crept across his face. 

Instead, he closely observed your usage, particularly awed by how you moved the dials to set the oven to pre-heat.  You had to prevent him from sticking his hand inside the oven after it was fully heated, you were just thankful he didn’t try to stick his head in it, really.

Eventually, the cookies were done and you put the kettle on while they cooled.  Barnaby was impatient to try them, you had to swat his hand away from the cooling rack a couple of times as you tried to distract him by explaining how dishwashers worked.

Finally, the timer went off while you poured you were pouring you each a cup of tea.

“You can go ahead and eat one now, love,” you said, glancing over at Barnaby who looked just about as excited as a child at Christmas.

You didn’t have to tell him twice, it seemed like he had grabbed a cookie before you could so much as blink.

As soon as he took the first bite, his shoulders relaxed as his eyes lit up. “These are the best cookies I’ve ever had!”

You could only smile as you handed him a plate to put some cookies on, trying not to laugh as he piled on a large number of them.  Compared to his, your plate looked quite sparse.  

“How about we see if there’s anything interesting on that you’d like to watch?” you asked, offering him his cup of tea.

He accepted it with a broad smile.  “That’d be even better!”

You grabbed your cup then and headed into the living room and curled up on the sofa together—putting up some cheesy drama as you enjoyed your afternoon snack.

Chapter Text

  • “With great power comes great responsibility,” or so the adage goes. 
    • Too bad Jae is not as responsible with this particular power as he is with the income of his contraband business.
  • The moment Jae Kim realizes that you are ticklish, he makes it his own personal duty to figure out how to maximize the effect of his tickles.
    • Most notably: Which spots that are easily accessible are the most ticklish?  Your sides or your neck?  Where else are you ticklish?
    • Such as, he’ll want to try out and see which things work and which don’t.
      • Is tickling you with one of his feather quills more effective than his fingers?  Are you more susceptible to Rictusempra than other people?
      • The questions are endless and he’s got to satiate his curiosity, since it’s important information to know.
    • You’re going to be expected to impromptu trial and error during this important learning stage.
      • You thought you were just going to cuddle with your boyfriend for a bit?  Wrong, it devolves into you crying from laughter and squirming uncontrollably as he tests the Rictusempra spell on you.
      • Thought the two of you were actually going to do some studying for Defence Against the Dark Arts?  Think again!  You’ll be on the receiving end of a vicious quill tickle attack.
  • Now, even after he’s satiated his curiosity and can no longer use that excuse, he doesn’t relent on the tickling.  However, he more often than not abuses his power with the best intentions.  
    • You’re feeling stressed from the Vaults?  
      • He’s going to sneak up behind you and give you a good surprise tickling, trying to make the most of what little he can do to help.  It helps temporarily stave off the helplessness he often feels from your situation.
    • Homework got you down?
      • Nothing like a good tickle session followed by some cuddles to help turn your mood around and get you laughing.
    • Problems in your mutual friend group?
      • Again, he can at least get you to laugh and loosen up and take your mind off of it for a little bit.
    • Does he just need an excuse to get you to take a break?
      • There’s nothing as effective as extorting you with tickles.
      • This is definitely the most flagrant abuse of power that you’ll get from him as far as tickling you is concerned.
    • And sometimes, he just wants to hear you laugh if it’s been a while and his usual antics and humor just aren’t doing the trick.
  • There is an important caveat though that he intentionally kept a secret from you out of fear of retribution: He’s ticklish, himself.
    • You learn this when you finally did try to get revenge on him, not entirely expecting it to work, only for him to respond with an even greater intensity than you do (even if such may seem impossible).
      • It’s all too easy to get him to curl up in a ball and begging for mercy because he can’t breathe.  His ears are especially ticklish.
  • And with that revelation began the never-ending tickle wars of your relationship, in which you both make use of the other’s ticklishness as you see fit.

 

You were minding your own business, reading a book for Muggle Studies in the mostly empty courtyard, when some familiar fingers began to brush against the back of your neck just right.  Your book went flying out of your hands and landed on the ground in front of you.

Your laughter filled the courtyard and rang in your ears.

“Jae!  Stop!” you squealed, squirming every which way as you tried to reach around and brush his hands away, which he effortlessly avoided.

“Only if you agree to take a break and go with me to Hogsmeade right now,” he said in a singsong voice.

Tears were streaming down your face, it was hard to form words.  “I—can’t—breathe—!”

He only tickled you harder in response.

“F-Fine!  L-Let’s—go!”

And with that, his hands retreated.  You took a moment to wipe away your tears and catch your breath.

“You’re the worst.”

He shoved his hands back in his hoodie’s pocket and gave you a cheeky grin.  “But that’s why you like me.”

You playfully rolled your eyes and pushed yourself onto your feet and grabbed your book, unable to wipe the smile from your face as you headed to Hogsmeade with Jae.

Chapter Text

  • Merula isn’t really in a rush to get married, the both of you still have a lot of things to sort through and recover from during your Hogwarts years.  Getting therapy helps her process and deal with things is a huge help for her, she didn’t realize how much she needed it until you managed to bribe her into going.
    • Having you around helps her immensely and she quite enjoys being able to support you, as you’ve tried to support her (to varying degrees of success) over the years.
    • She learns skills for improved communication and coping, both of which drastically improve the quality of your relationship over time.
  • Moving in together officially comes first, though it comes after a year of dating outside of your Hogwarts years.  Prior to the actual move, the two of you practically lived together, anyways, though you alternated between each other’s homes.
    • She’s not really used to living with other people and moving out of the empty Snyde estate was a huge step for her—it was a lot to let go of.
    • The two of you are able to use the money you got from the house to purchase a medium-sized cottage out in the country.  It’s quiet and the two of you put your own touch on it during the renovations.
      • It reminds her of what her home used to be like, back when her parents were still around.  Additionally, she likes it being out on its own, it means fewer judgmental people to be around and more privacy.
    • It’s near a small lake, which Merula very much enjoys—it reminds her somewhat of the Slytherin common room back at Hogwarts.
      • The two of you go swimming in it from time to time during the summer, when the conditions are good.  
  • Really, Merula would be perfectly fine with never getting married, it’s something that she could really take or leave.  The commitment of it is mildly off-putting to her at first, even though she can’t really see herself with anyone else after being with you for so long.
    • It’d be something you’d talk about before you officially move in together.  So you would both be on the same page.
    • However, if you are interested in marriage, she’d likely seize the initiative and propose to you, after working through her problems first.
      • Romance isn’t precisely her forte, but she’d do her best to make it special and personal for you both.  
      • It’d be on Christmas, before your annual tradition of casting the snow production charm, she’d pop the question after walking down memory lane together with you.
      • Depending on your preferences, she’d likely present you with either a necklace or a more conventional ring that were family heirlooms.
      • She didn’t realize how nervous she is until after you say yes and she pulls you into a tight hug.
    • The wedding itself would be a small and rather private event—close friends and family.  Private helped minimize the press coverage of the event to a minimum, though it didn’t do much to ease the gossip.
      • Even though she invited some members of the Snyde family, like her aunt, none of them showed up.
        • Additionally, your friend groups overlap significantly since she really doesn’t have many friends of her own.  That’s something that never changed, even after she began to gradually turn things around.
      • The whole day, she was dreadfully nervous and fretted over all the details due to wanting it to be perfect for you, but it ends up running smoothly.
        • She wasn’t stop smiling through the entire thing, which was something that surprised those who didn’t know her very well.  
  • In terms of work, Merula has more of a difficult time with it.  Unlike many of your friends, her aptitudes are more generalized and she realized that she was drawn to certain careers more for their prestige.  For quite a while, she aspired to follow in Rakepick’s footsteps and become a curse-breaker … but that changed.  
    • Not only was her own lack of a clear career path confusing for her, but she also had to deal with the downsides of being the child of known Death Eaters.  Finding work was incredibly difficult and she learned that she had to take odd jobs where she could.
      • She’s taken up a couple of musical instruments to help deal with the mundanity and unfulfilling status of most of her work.
    • Merula ends up finding work at a Wizarding record shop in Diagon Alley and finds that it’s … quite the comfortable job.  And that she’s not half bad at it, plus her coworkers and boss are all quite relaxed so it’s a nice place to work.  She quickly launches into becoming the best employee, which wasn’t especially hard.
    • Currently, she’s saving up money to open her own instrument shop for wizards and witches in Hogsmeade, including rentals for Hogwarts students.
  • Kids aren’t something that she ever really saw in her future.  She’s not especially good with them and she doesn’t really view herself as being a maternal type.  Not like her mother was, at least.
    • She’d be perfectly happy working on saving up for her shop, juggling hobbies, traveling on weekends, and leading a normal life with you.  While she never thought mundanity would be for her, following your Hogwarts years she ends up welcoming it with open arms.  But you and your family are her family.
    • If you don’t want kids: It’d be a huge relief for her, really.  There may always be a small part of her that will wonder if she would’ve been a good mother or not.  Still, it’s a relatively small one and is quickly dispelled when she thinks about the sleep deprivation and other less pleasant aspects of parenthood.
  • If you do want kids, it’ll take some time and a great many reassurances to win her over.  But it’s not that she outright hates the idea or anything.
    • After you do, she switches into her competitive ‘I’ll be the best mother ever!’ mode.  Which entails her voraciously reading and memorizing parenting books, along with researching all the things you’ll need to make an excellent nursery and baby proof your home.
    • If she ends up pregnant: Complains about her pregnancy a lot and uses it to get extra favors and special treatment out of you, mainly because she can.  
      • The process is quite stressful for her and your support is a huge factor in helping her mentally get through it in one piece.
      • Holding your child for the first time marked one of the few times that you’ve seen her cry, especially of her rare happy crying (though she was not the most cooperative with the poor Healers, since she didn’t want to let them go).
    • If the two of you adopt: She ends up taking the lead and doing a lion’s share of the work during the adoption process.  For her, adopting a child holds a lot of personal meaning, especially if they also lost their parents for some reason.
      • Things are a bit awkward at first since it’s a big adjustment for her, but she gradually eases into the role of a parent.  
      • She goes to your parents for advice (only if they were decent ones, of course) or some of your friends that ended up becoming parents before the two of you.
    • In either case, she’s resolute on giving her child(ren) a better home life than she had following her parents’ arrests.  She’s a fiercely protective mother and does her best to encourage them to have a healthy competitive spirit.
      • For example, they learn how to fly as soon as you deem it to be safe.  Before then, she’d often take them flying around on her broom for fun.
  • You end up deciding to inform the group over a bonfire reunion at your home.  Merula and you break the news to them by telling them at the exact same time.
    • She was surprised by how supportive and happy for you they were, in general, even if she knew that they were mainly focused on you.  It was … nice.

Chapter Text

In only a couple of hours he’d be back home in England for the holidays.  It was a prospect that, under any other circumstances, would have had him (quite literally) bouncing with joy.  But today was different and there was no joy to be found.  Just anxiety.

He exhaled heavily through his nose as he continued to stare at his reflection in the mirror, his mind blank.  It was getting to the point where the face in the mirror felt like that of a stranger’s—unfamiliar and utterly feeling not like himself.

With a heavy sigh, Charlie forced himself to shake his head and look away from the mirror, instead occupying himself by fetching his wand.  He began to mechanically run through his usual shaving routine, getting rid of the growing scruff.  Going through the motions, he pondered how many complaints about the length of his hair that his mother was going to lob at him.

Probably fifty, at the very least.  He’d be lucky to get through the visit without having her threaten a haircut—or worse, force one upon him.

But as annoying as it was, it wasn’t what was gnawing at mind, like a Norwegian Ridgeback on a whale calf.  And his mind slipped back into being devoured by that subject as he continued to shave.

No, that distinction belonged to you.  But to be more exact, it was the feelings he had recently awakened to and the subsequent complicated situation they put him in.  As an honorary Weasley, you were going to be there with the rest of them and he didn’t know what he should do about these feelings.  Or if he should do anything at all.

Feelings were so much simpler back then, during his Hogwarts years.  Mainly because he just didn’t experience this particular brand of them.  Romantic interest in his peers never found him, nor did he ever go searching for it.  He was too busy with his nose in a book reading all he could about dragons or playing Quidditch to do that.

That’s how it had always been.  Him focusing on his passions while his peers dated.  And he was perfectly happy for it, even if some people didn’t entirely understand it.

Yet when did these feelings develop?  In retrospect, it seemed like they had always been there, lingering just beneath the surface.  The lingering glances, the way he sought you out to study or accompany you on Cursed Vault business.  At the time, he attributed it to the allure of danger, the possibility of encountering a dragon (thanks to your pursuit of the Vaults), and, of course, caring for you as his dearest friend.  

Had he really always cared about you in this way and only realized what he was feeling all these years later?

The thought made him bristle uncomfortably and he set his wand back down on the sink’s edge, running his fingers over his smooth, freckled face.  Satisfied with the shave, he went ahead and pocketed his wand before leaving the bathroom.

He shrugged on a heavy olive colored jacket over his beloved red swear covered in enchanted Welsh Greens that idly flew about and breathed fire, a gift you had given him for Christmas just shy of one year ago.  He was almost ready to go and his eyes wandered over to the pair of problem letters on his nightstand.

One was from you, dated back from March, that had plunged him down into the rabbit hole of a romantic awakening.  The other was from Bill, dated only a week ago, and the sight of it caused tendrils of icy hollowness to grip Charlie’s heart and drag it down—leaving a throbbing ache in its wake.

With a crack, he Apparated to the site of Portkey, unable to stand the sight any longer than he had to.


 

Warmth and familiarity eased his heart as his mother embraced him in a tight hug the moment he popped into the Burrow, fondly fussing over him like she usually did.  Seeing all of his siblings again, save Ron, was enough to summon his usual excitement back to the forefront.  His problems were forgotten about as he instead listened to his siblings catch him up on everything that had happened during his absence.

However, the reprieve proved to be short-lived.  

Charlie was seated on the sofa, smooshed between Percy and the twins, as Bill regaled them with a tale of one of his most recent curse-breaking exploits in Egypt.  Fred and George were, for once, not attempting to derail and Percy was listening with rigid attentiveness, admiration for his eldest brother shining through in the rapt look on his face.

Then you popped in, unwinding your well-worn House scarf from around your neck as you smiled at them all.  Though your eyes seemed to linger on his, though he wasn’t sure if he was imagining it or not.

“Happy Christmas Eve!” you said, beaming at everyone.

He watched the way Bill’s entire face lit up at the sight of you in a smile so warm and affectionate in its happiness that Charlie couldn’t recall ever seeing on his brother’s face before.  Guilt and an unmistakable sense of wrongness coiled around his chest as he watched his mother squeeze you in a hug.

The rest of the evening passed by him in a blur, as he mostly observed, only really speaking when he was spoken to.  He was careful to sit away from you and, instead, opted to sit next to his parents.  Bill was at your side, seemingly, for the entire night.

Which hurt more than he had anticipated.

Late in the evening, he found himself stepping outside into the cold December air, feeling the need to take a break in order to try and clear his head.  And maybe shake off some of the sense of guilt that was suffocating him.

He leaned against one of the front porch’s crooked support beams as he exhaled, watching as his breath formed a puff of steam and faded in the crisp air.

The door open and closed.  He glanced over and felt his brows shoot up from seeing that it was you who had followed him out.  Suddenly, he felt significantly warmer as you stopped beside him, your shoulder brushing against his own in the process.

“I noticed that you’re wearing the sweater I gave you for Christmas last year.”

“Of course!  It’s my favorite.  Don’t tell mum I said that, though.”

His heart lurched into his throat from the adorable smile you flashed his way.  “I wouldn’t dream of it.”

A silence fell over the two of you, though it wasn’t the typical type of comfortable silence he was used to.  Rather, it felt uncomfortably thick as the impulse to say something, anything (well, almost anything), began to bubble up inside of him.

“I wanted to—” he started to say, right as you began to say, “There’s something I need—”

The two of you paused for a few seconds.  

“You first,” you both said, simultaneously.

He grinned and let out a breathy chuckle as you let out a short laugh.  His amusement quickly faded as he watched you cross your arms over your chest, suddenly looking exactly as anxious as he felt.

“No, but really, you first.  I’m afraid mine may be a bit of a downer.”

“All right, I was going to ask how you’ve been holding up?  It’s been three years now since we’ve graduated …”

“Of course you would,” you said, voice soft like velvet in your fondness as you stared out into the rolling fields that surrounded the Burrow.  “But it’s getting easier, I think.  Therapy’s been helping a lot, though it’s a slow process.  I still can’t look at portraits the same way.”

He looked out to the fields as well, following your gaze.  “I’m glad.  I just … wish I could be here for you more.”

“I wish you were, too.”

His heart skipped a beat upon hearing the wistful note in your voice and he instinctively glanced over at you—scrutinizing your expression as best he could in the dim light.  “But at least you have plenty of other friends that live ‘round here to rely on, right?”

You were silent for a moment, gaze still focused out on the distance.  “That’s actually what I wanted to speak with you about …”

“Please tell me nothing’s happened between you and one of our other friends …”

“Oh no, it’s nothing like that, Charlie.  Everything’s been perfectly fine on that front.  It’s, um, quite the opposite issue, I think.  Maybe.”

His eyebrows knit together as he looked at you, silently waiting for you to continue when you were ready.

“Do you remember how both Rowan and I used to fancy Bill, back at Hogwarts?”

“… I do, yes.”

Hope gave way to dread as he waited for you to tell him that you still fancied Bill.  And that made him feel guilty, since he should feel happy for both you and his brother.

“Well, I don’t want to keep this a secret any more, since it’s starting to drive me mad.  I just—I fancy you, Charlie.”

“You … fancy me?” he asked, before pointing to himself most emphatically.  “Me?

“Yes, you,” you said, “You’re the most passionate and caring Wizard I’ve ever met, so, of course, you.  Do you not think someone could fancy you?  Or …?”

“Well, no, actually kind of—it’s just that …”  He trailed off, eyes naturally shifting to the door.  He shouldn’t.  He really shouldn’t.  Think of Bill and how much this’d hurt him.

“It’s just that …?”

His heart hammered in his chest and he hesitated before glancing back to you, making contact with those beautiful eyes of yours that he had come to adore.  All his self-control went out the window in that single moment as he decided to be honest.  “I still don’t really fully understand how I feel about you.  I think, but I just—I don’t think I’m ready to date yet.  It’s … complicated.”

He winced as your expression briefly fell into a look of hurt disappointment.

“I suppose I understand, it’s definitely better than what I was afraid you’d say.”  You hummed under your breath as you thought over his words.  “But you did say ‘yet,’ right?”

“Yes, I did.  Why?”

His eyes followed your nearest hand as it came to rest on the crook of his elbow, your thumb rubbing light circles against the thick fabric of his sweater. “Well, in that case, we could maybe … explore some other things together in the meantime?  If it’d help rather than hinder, of course.”

He stared at you, eyes flickering between your own as he tried to process just what you were suggesting.  He thought he knew, but that … it didn’t seem right for you to want that from him.  Could it simply be that these new feelings had his mind in the gutter or …

The fact that he had leaned in closer to you had gone unnoticed by him, so it surprised him when you greatly reduced the distance between the two of you and rested your hands on his broad shoulders.  Your lips were mere centimeters away from his own and he could feel the warmth of your breath fan against his face.

“Maybe like this?”

His eyes naturally slid shut as you pressed your lips against his lightly chapped ones, he was quick to reach his calloused hands up and gingerly cup your face.  He returned it somewhat awkwardly at first, but he quickly eased into it and doing his best to imitate your movements.  Kissing felt wonderful and entirely different from how he had imagined it.

It felt so much more … natural and right.

After what felt like far too short a time, you broke off the kiss for air, but only just barely pulled away so that your lips still brushing together ever-so-slightly.  He let out an internal sigh of relief when he felt you press your lips against his once more, a needier and hungrier kiss.  He found his hands starting to wander downwards, beginning to explore your sides as they moved up and down your body.

The golden light filtering in from the window was momentarily blocked as a shadow moved past, but Charlie was distracted when he felt your tongue run against his bottom lip.  He froze, not entirely certain as to what to do, only to tentatively part his lips—hoping that it was the right thing to do.

When you pulled away, he stared at you, dazed and wanting more.  So much more.  You had succeeded in stoking his flame of curiosity and sense of adventurousness had been stoked into a raging fire.

“I, um, I definitely wouldn’t be opposed.”

“Then, let’s head back to my place and out of the cold …”

You took his hand in your own, intertwining your fingers with a natural ease, before Apparating back to your home in order to continue with some privacy.  An excuse to present to the Weasleys could come later, as the two of you were too distracted 


 

Charlie found himself popping back to England more often in the coming couple of months and occasionally having a visitor to his sleepy little cottage over the weekends.  Things were growing clearer and he found himself feeling ready to progress your relationship to something official and, undeniably, romantic.

Yet, the guilt was simultaneously building to a crushing crescendo.  And he hadn’t received any letters from Bill recently either.  At least, not until his older brother wrote to him and let him know that he’d be stopping by the Burrow since he was back in England following a short job and was hoping Charlie would be able to swing by over the weekend.

One line of the letter was troubling him, though: “There’s something we need to talk about.

It was ominous.  And Charlie couldn’t help but wonder if it’d be unfair to his brother to also bring up the dalliance that had been unfolding between you.  It needed to happen soon, he knew, but he really wasn’t looking forward to breaking his brother’s heart like this …

And so, that’s how he found himself sitting on Bill’s bed in his room back home, with the house eerily quiet in the absence of all their other siblings.  His older brother was leaning back against the cramped desk, long legs stretched out as he watched.

“Bill, I—”

“I know.”

Charlie only blinked as he looked at his brother, speechless, and waited for him to elaborate.  Though he already knew what this was about and that his worries had been for naught.

“About you and her.”

“For how long …?”

“Since Christmas Eve.”  Bill gave his brother a weak smile, “The two of you still aren’t very good at being sneaky, I’m afraid, so I heard everything.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, eyes flickering between his eyes and literally anywhere else under the full brunt of the guilt.  It was all he could say.

Bill’s eyes softened.  “I know that too, Charlie.  And I’m sorry for not writing back.  I’ve … had to take time to process everything.”

This wasn’t the response he had been expecting, given the crime.

“You’re not … mad at me?  Not going to yell at me or anything?”

His brother shook his head.  “Not anymore.  Don’t get me wrong though, I was.  And quite jealous.  But, I can’t blame you, because the situation wasn’t your fault … she chose you and this is the first time you’ve ever.”  He pushed off from the desk and sat down beside Charlie.  “All I want is for the you two to be happy, you know?  And if that’s with you two together, I’m not going to stop it.”

Charlie felt tears begin to well up in his eyes as his brother draped an arm around his shoulders, pulling him close.

“Have you figured out what your feelings are, then?”

“I have, yeah,” he said, pausing briefly due to the sheer gravity of the next three words, “I love her.”

“Then don’t let me hold you back, okay?  Tell her how you feel … and then tell mum, since I’m sure she’ll be over the moon about it.”

Charlie nodded, feeling a relieved smile break out across his face, though the pangs of guilt for hurting his brother still lingered.

Bill seemed to pick up on that, as he shifted a hand up to ruffle Charlie’s equally long hair in order to try and lighten the mood.  “Besides, I am the best looking of the family—and have the best hair, too.  I’ll find my special lady in the next year, just you watch.”

He snorted and playfully shoved his brother off.  “Not with that attitude, you won’t.  We have equally good hair.”

“No … I definitely think mine’s better.”

The two of them continued to joke around, back and forth, and before their visit was over the heavy weight that had been on Charlie’s shoulders was entirely gone.


 

After you had climbed back into bed, after cleaning yourselves up and hastily threw on your pajamas, Charlie wrapped his strong arms around your waist from behind and pulled you tightly against him—nuzzling his face into your hair.  He was thoroughly worn out and satisfied from the night’s previous activities.

The conversation flowed until you brought particular subject up, one that Charlie had meant to discuss with you before … until you almost immediately distracted him.  As you often did during these visits.

“Oh, how did your visit with Bill go, by the way?”

“It went well, I had really missed him, you know.  But he gave me some advice that really helped put some things in perspective …”

“What advice?”

“That I should tell you how I feel.”

He loosened his arms when he felt you begin to turn in his grasp, allowing you to roll over and face him, eyes wide with surprise and anticipation.  “Which is …?”

Taking a shaky breath in, he slid a hand up to gently rest on your cheek and brought his dark brown eyes up to meet your own. “That I love you.”

In your eyes, he saw a perfect reflection of his own feelings: adoration, delight, and liberation.  And for the first time in months, he felt truly like himself again, finally free from the confusing state of limbo he had been ensnared in.

“I love you too,” you said before closing the distance between the two of you with a tender kiss.

Unable to help himself, he smiled against your lips and savored it, as if it was the first time he was kissing you all over again.

Chapter Text

  • Your first kiss.
    • It happens when you’re hiding away together in the Owlery on a study date a couple of weeks following your first official date, with him tutoring you on something you’ve been struggling with in Transfiguration.
    • You keep getting distracted by him, specifically how close together you are and how handsome he looks in the dwindling, orange light of the sunset filtering in through the open window arches.  
    • He doesn’t pick up on the reason immediately and after he notices that you’re losing focus for the second time, he reminds you that you needed to study … and in a softer tone asks what you’re distracted by (worrying that it had something to do with your brother or the Vaults, as he often did).
    • Much to his surprise, you respond by leaning over and placing a chaste kiss to his cheek.  You tease him by explaining that he was the distraction.  
    • He grows flustered, a hand coming up to touch the spot where you had kissed him and makes one of his usual bird puns (specifically, that he’d wing it out of there if you didn’t start taking it seriously).  
      • But you notice him glance down to your lips, eyes lingering there for a moment too long, before he looks away.  
    • Emboldened, you ask if you can kiss him.
    • Talbott shifts, face flushing with warmth as he averts his gaze.  He doesn’t trust himself to say anything, he’s not romantic and he’s still so new to this type of relationship.  He doesn’t want to ruin it.
      • It’s a silent ‘yes’ and you know him well enough to understand his wordless communication.
    • You lean forward, tilting your head just so as he meets you halfway, and you capture his lips in the first kiss of his entire life.
    • It’s awkward at first (as first kisses often are), but he eases into it slowly and it becomes something quite pleasant.  A kiss to remember out of fond enjoyment, rather than its less pleasant cousin known as fond embarrassment.
    • The way you smile at him when you part for air makes his heart flutter and the heat in his face spread to the tips of his ears.  
      • It’s at that moment that he realizes just precisely how bad he has it for you.  And he doesn’t doubt that the same soft fondness is present on his face as well.
    • Het goes in for another kiss, slightly more confident, but still just as careful and tender.
  • Your first argument.
    • Talbott is someone who respects boundaries and one of the things that attracted him to you, was that you respect his.  The respect helps mediate Talbott’s inexperience in communication and temper his typical bluntness into something softer.
      • However, the subject of the Vaults is one that may create a degree of tension in your relationship.
    • After an especially dangerous encounter (of which he was absent for), the two of you end up in a rather intense argument over his level of involvement with the Vaults and your growing obsession with it.
      • He just wants to help keep you safe, you know that, but at the same time you want to keep him safe.  And tangling him up in your own problems after everything he’s been through seems awfully unfair.
    • The two of you don’t speak for a few days, Talbott’s even more absent than he was during the time he lost his mother’s necklace.  He doesn’t skip class, but he practically vanishes to one of his mysterious private hiding spots the moment every class is dismissed.
      • It hurts, but he doesn’t know how to go about mending it properly.  He’s terrified that he’ll somehow make it worse and ruin what the two of you have, it’s special to him.
    • Penny ends up intervening after figuring out what happened, she manages to offer some advice to Talbott and manages to arrange for you to meet with her (though it was actually your boyfriend) in the Courtyard.
      • The two of you retreat to the quieter Artefact Room and have a much needed heart-to-heart.  
      • He uses Penny’s advice and is able to more effectively open up to you, expressing his underlying anxieties and how his past only makes it all the more important for him to be by your side.
        • He takes your hands into his own, looks into your eyes, and says, “I … don’t want to lose you, too.  Especially not if I can do something about it.”
        • It’s so genuine and it breaks your heart, but you understand.
    • You compromise and each apologize to the other, setting the standard for resolving future conflicts.
  • Your first ‘I love you.’
    • You say the words first.  You don’t expect him to say them back and he doesn’t.  
      • Instead, you get a very flustered Talbott, who manages to stutter out an uncertain ‘Thank you,’ before changing the subject.
    • While he didn’t say them back, you know he loves you long before they finally do come out.  While he isn’t romantic, he does want to wait to say them since you deserve that much.  Additionally, they’re important to him and he wants the moment to be right.  He’ll know it when it happens.
      • Before he says ‘I love you,’ he’s already written several love poems about you (though he’d never admit it).  He says it on a regular basis through the soft gaze and tender smile that’s reserved for you and you alone.  And he says it by sharing with you his private hideaways and facts about himself that he’s never shared with anyone before.
    • It happens when you return from the Portrait Cursed Vault, nearly a year after the two of you had begun dating.
      • He holds you close, letting you cry and release your emotions, and he says those three words.
      • And he means them, more than he ever could’ve imagined to ever mean them in his entire life before the two of you grew close.  
      • It’s comforting and while it cannot undo the causes of your suffering and trauma from what happened in the Vault, it does help.  It’s a bright spot amidst the darkness and confusion.
        • You know he means them and you feel more loved than you have in a very long time.
  • Your first time meeting each other’s family.
    • Him meeting your family happens over winter break during your sixth year, since things are getting quite serious between the two of you.
    • He may look perfectly calm on the outside, but he’s screaming on the inside the entire time and is horribly stiff and awkward through the whole thing.  But in a rather endearing way. 
      • If you’re not on great terms with your family, he may be a bit sharper and blunter with them.
      • But no matter what the circumstances are, he wants your family to like him.  And, if you’re on good terms, he can’t help but hope that maybe he’ll be able to find a new type of family through yours.
        • Plus, it does allow him to open communications with them, which is a potential avenue for providing you and them with greater support during Jacob’s continued absence.
    • You don’t get to visit his parents until after you’ve graduated from Hogwarts.  He first asks you to accompany him to the cemetery they resided in on the anniversary of their death.
      • You bring flowers (or conjure some, if you’ve got a knack for Transfiguration) and he introduces you to the headstones before talking to them as if his parents were standing before him, catching them up on the happenings of his life.  It’s a tradition for him and, you quickly realize that it’s likely a long-standing coping mechanism as well.
      • It’s melancholic, but sweet. at the same time  And as the two of you begin to leave the cemetery, he tells you that his parents would have adored you.  Especially his mother.
  • First time together.
    • A couple of months after graduating Hogwarts, Talbott finds himself swamped with work, going on mission after mission.  
      • It means less time with you and less time with you means less physical contact.  He misses you and he starts to crave your touch and the feeling of your lips against his own.  He’s never felt such a way before and it starts driving him mad.
    • So, when the two of you are finally able to spend an entire night together, you each take full advantage of it.
    • It all starts out as a normal snogging session on the sofa, though both his and your hands are wandering a bit more than usual.  The needy open-mouthed kisses grow more and more passionate, dizzying and all-consuming in their intensity.
    • It isn’t until the two of you take more than just a fleeting break for air that he regains some clarity.  He realizes that you are, indeed, lying on the couch and that he is hovering over you.
      • His tie is absent, his dress shirt is half-unbuttoned, some of his hair has fallen into his face, and you’re already half undressed.  The way you’re looking at him sends a pleasant chill down his spine and he finds himself wanting so much more.
      • Acting on tuition (and perhaps, on what he had researched by reading some of the romantic fiction he knew you enjoyed), he buried his face against your neck before beginning to press open-mouthed kisses against your skin.  Moving lower as his hands began to work on revealing more of your skin to his needy touch.
    • It’s not what he anticipated and it doesn’t feel romantic in the slightest, but it also feels so very right.  The small sounds you make and the way you squirm under him only tempt him to press on.
    • Afterwards, once you’re both cleaned up and comfortable back in your bed, he just holds you as if you’re the most precious thing in the world.  Because you are, to him at least.  
    • And you both gradually drift off to sleep, satisfied by having the other so close and unwilling to part from the other’s warmth.
  • First time apart.
    • He has to travel out of the country for an important mission and expects to be gone for a full month.
    • While he’s away, the two of you send letters to each other as often as his work allows.  Your letters range wildly from mundane details of your days to deeper philosophical topics to random debates based on ridiculous theoretical scenarios.  
      • You talk about anything and everything together, trying to make the distance feel less, but to no avail.
    • It’s during this period of time that you get to read more poems from him than ever before.
      • Thinking about you and writing things for you helps the separation feel less painful for him.  Plus, the distance makes him feel less embarrassed, so you even get more of some of his coveted love poems about you.
      • His writing, as always, is beautiful and it is the only silver lining of being apart from your love.  You can always hear his voice as you read through them and you reread the poetic verses over and over again.
    • When he returns, the two of you are up almost all night.  With some snogging and more passionate activities, but it’s mostly by cuddling and talking.  
      • One of the things he missed the most about you was the sound of your voice.
      • He ends up drifting off to sleep listening to you recount the trouble some of your mutual friends had gotten into.  
      • The sound of his light snoring brings a smile to your face, appreciating the little things all the more now that you were back in his arms.

 

Chapter Text

You, Rowan, Liz, and Barnaby were all leaning forward in your dining room seats as Bill regaled you all with a story from his latest ventures in Egypt’s curse-breaking scene.  It was his turn catching everyone up on since you had all last seen each other.

There was a lull in your conversation and your ears perked up at the mention of your House in a conversation going on at the other end of the table.

“—Well, not all Slytherins are bad,” said Hermione, rather testily.

“Well, they all end up joining the bloody Death Eaters when they’re old enough, don’t they?  Just like their families,” replied Ron, a bit too loudly.

There was a moment of silence as Ron seemed to realize that there were now four Slytherins staring directly at him—all members of the Order that he was too young to join.  His face flushed beet red, the blood quickly creeping up to the tips of his ears, immediately looking like he regretted his words.

Rowan just rolled their eyes while Liz crossed her arms over her chest, but Barnaby looked dejected as his shoulder’s sunk—expression turning troubled as his parents came to mind (or so you guessed).  You let your gaze fall down to the table, equal parts irritated and discouraged.

But none of you said anything, everyone being all too used to hearing this kind of thing.  And given the war?  Well, you weren’t sure about the others, but it was often hard to ignore the fact that the opposing side was dominated by Slytherins.

“Ron,” said Bill, in his best big brother/prefect voice, “Hermione’s right.  Some of the best and bravest people I’ve ever met have been Slytherins, most of whom I’ve been lucky enough to call my friends and are sitting here as we speak.  One of whom even helped break a number of curses back at Hogwarts.”  
He paused to glance over at you with a proud smile before turning his attention back to Ron, face going stern once more.  “So yes, plenty do go bad, I can’t deny that, but most of them are good, upstanding people with ambition.”

You didn’t think it was possible, but Ron’s face seemed to go even redder as Bill lectured him.  Glancing back to Bill, you noticed that Rowan was watching him with admiration, Liz was nodding thoughtfully to herself, and (much to your relief) Barnaby was back to smiling.

“I really think you should apologize to them, since they’re putting their lives on the line just as much as everyone else here is.”

Ron rubbed the back of his neck, looking very much like the textbook definition of the word ‘awkward.’  “I’m sorry.”

“Apology accepted,” said Rowan, with a satisfied smile.

You mouthed ‘thank you’ to Bill and he gave you a small, simple nod.

No matter what was to come in the war ahead, you were glad to know that the eldest Weasley would always have your back.

Chapter Text

Diego Caplan had a way with words.  Specifically a way that left you a tongue tied, blushing mess and you could never successfully flirt back, even though you wanted to.

Today, you decided you’d change that.

You reminded you of your resolve as you headed to DADA class and took your seat next to your crush.

“And how is the loveliest curse-breaker doing this morning?” he asked with his charming smile.

“Wonderfully!  How’s the handsomest dueller doing?”

He stared at you, unaccustomed to your bluntness, and your heart pounded in the following silence.

“I’m … fine,” he said before grinning.  “Well, better than fine, actually.  How could I not, after hearing such high praise come from those perfect lips of yours?”

Damn it.

“Well, I think my lips could do something even better pressed up against yours.”  You winked, ignoring the embarrassment you felt.

Diego’s eyes widened, rendered speechless as a violently red blush broke across his face.  Jae snorted from his seat behind you.

Before he could even try and recover, Rakepick started the day’s lesson.  You smiled to yourself as you looked forward, occasionally stealing glances over at the still flustered boy beside you throughout class.  

Mission accomplished.

Chapter Text

When you met your boyfriend in the courtyard in late autumn, Jae quirked a skeptical eyebrow at you after giving you a once over.  “It’s kinda chilly out …  You may want to run back in and go grab a jacket or something.”

You waved your hand dismissively.  “I’ll be fine!  It’s not that far of a walk to the Three Broomsticks.”

“All right.”  He shrugged and jammed his hands in the pocket of his favorite yellow hoodie, which he was wearing under a red coat.  “Suit yourself, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

The half-smile on his face warned you that you’d be in for an ‘I told you so’ moment if you so much as hinted at being cold.

“Yeah, yeah.  Let’s just get going.”

And so, the two of you began the short journey to Hogsmeade.  Everything was fine.

For the first minute.

And then a frigid blast of air hit you, easily slipping past your thin layers of clothing and chilling your skin.  

“You all right over there, luv?”

You kept your eyes forward, not having to glance over to see the smirk on that stupid face of his.  “Perfectly fine.”

“Well, trust me when I say that I know how to recognize the look of someone who realizes they just made a terrible decision.  I’m pretty sure that if someone looked up the definition of ‘regret’ in the dictionary—a picture of how you look right now would be what they’d find.”

You took the opportunity to cross your arms over your chest as another gust of wind blew past, trying to maintain even a little bit of warmth.

Ha ha, very funny.  I’m completely fine, really.  Never been better, in fact!  So you might want to reconsider how much of an expert you actually are.”

“See, now I feel like you’re just overcompensating.”

“Definitely not.  You just want me to admit that you were right,” you said and glanced over at him, wanting to gauge his expression since the half-smile had faded.

His eyebrows were raised and lips slightly parted in an expression that you thought was maybe equal parts amusement and bemusement.  “Well, duh.  But if you’re so cold, you could just say so …”

It was blatant entrapment, knowing him, and you weren’t about to fall for it.

So, you did not ask, even if you wanted to.  It wasn’t so much your pride (though that was definitely part of it), but you didn’t want to hear him say ‘I told you so,’ again.  The degree of satisfaction he seemed to derive from being right while you were wrong was infuriating.

A sigh of relief escaped your lips as you slid into the prime seat you had managed to snag: it was the closest to the fireplace.  Only in the warmth did you realize just how much you were shivering.

He draped his coat around his chair before taking his seat across the table from you,   “Blimey, if this is what ‘perfectly fine’ looks like for you, I’d hate to see you when you’re actually cold.”

You glowered at his coat and, in turn, him when he sat down.  “Well, you know …  I would light myself on fire to keep you warm and you wouldn’t even hand me a coat if I were freezing.  Like on the walk here, where a decent boyfriend would have volunteered their coat.”

He rested his elbow against the table and snapped his fingers as he pointed at you.  “Ah, so you finally admit it!”

You looked to the side as more blood rushed to your face, preparing yourself for the four obnoxious words that were going to come out of his mouth.  

But they didn’t come out like you expected.

His voice was softer, rather than the boastful one you were used to and you reconnected eye contact.  “Well, for the record, I’m not that bad of a boyfriend.  I did tell you could’ve just told me that you were cold, in fact, I would’ve lent you my coat if you had and suffered through it.”  
He paused as his fingers came up to twirl the drawstrings of the hoodie.  “I’d just … I’d like you to rely on me more and tell me when things are wrong.  While this was something small, I’d hate it if you didn’t tell me when you need some help—outside of the contraband stuff.  Given the Vaults and all …”

There was a spike of icy guilt as things clicked into place in your mind, finally grasping just what he was getting at.  You didn’t know what to say, so you said nothing and instead nodded to show that you understood.  

That seemed to be enough to placate him as he leaned back in his chair, fingers instead moving up to rub his chin in an overly dramatic fashion—turning to humor to lighten the mood.  “Actually, on further thought …” 

“You’d what?” you asked, relaxing slightly yourself.

As Jae looked back to you, his dark eyes glimmered with amusement.  “I would’ve rented it to you for, hmm, three sickles.”

You only stared at him with pursed lips and narrowed eyes.

“Kidding, just kidding!” he laughed, holding up his hands.  “Maybe.  Probably.

“Yes, because that’s reassuring and definitely not … not undercompensating for anything.”

“It is, actually.  But I don’t think that’s how you’re supposed to use that word?”  There was a moment of uncertainty as he repeated the word, lip curling slightly at how it felt on his tongue.  “Wait.  Is it even a word?  Or did you just make it up?”

Before you could respond and defend your choice of word, Madam Rosmerta approached the two of you, then, and took your orders.  The atmosphere felt lighter as you continued on with your date and, while you felt warmer, there was a lingering sense of guilt in the back of your mind.

On your way back, Jae’s red coat was draped around your shoulders as you walked with your fingers intertwined and the resolve to do better for him burning brightly in your heart.

Chapter Text

You had gone out to the courtyard to enjoy the pleasant weather as you did your homework, when you noticed Barnaby.  He was sitting alone in the corner, one leg stretched out while the other was bent, arm draped around it in a defensive position as he hugged it to his chest.

But what really rang the alarm bells for you was the way his brows were drawn together as he stared dejectedly at his wand, which he was idly twirling between his fingers.

You could practically see the raincloud hovering over his head and it broke your heart.  Surely, your Potions essay could wait until after you had made sure that your crush was okay. 

The moment he noticed you, his face lit up like clouds parting to reveal the warm sunlight.  He said your name, as if he was surprised to see you.

“Hi, Barnaby,” you said as you sat down beside him.  “Is everything all right?  You were looking quite … well, sad.”

The gloom returned as he seemed to deflate again.  “I don’t know.  I’m just—having a bad day is all.”

“I see … Would you like to talk about it?”

There was a moment of hesitation as he looked at you.  “But you have so much going on with the Vaults right now … and you already do so much for me, all the time.”

“Well, you’re always there for me, so I always want to be here for you.  It’s what—”

Friends do.  The word gave you pause and Barnaby only tilted his head to the side, confused as he waited for you to finish.  “—people who care about each other do.”

“Right,” he trailed off, still looking conflicted.

“So that means you can talk about it with me, if you think it’d help.”

“It probably would, but you’ll think I’m stupid,” he said, looking the picture of dejected.  If it was raining before, this was a downright downpour.

Your eyebrows shot up at the sudden self-doubt and you quickly reached over, placing a hand on the crook of his elbow.  “I could never, you I hope you know that.”  You gave a gentle squeeze.  “After all, you know way more about magical creatures than anyone else I know … well, except for maybe Liz and Charlie with his dragons.  But I’d say you two are on equal footing, more than anything else.”

He rested his free hand over yours, expression softening as he.  It seemed like he wasn’t going to take up your offer at first and you were about to withdraw your hand when he opened his mouth to speak.

“In Potions … I added an ingredient that blew up my cauldron for some reason.  Professor Snape took away house points and said that I was acting like an ‘absolute numbskull.’  But my skull wasn’t numb, so I don’t know what that meant.  Merula only laughed and said that he was right without explaining it.”

You frowned, feeling some anger at his former friend bubble up, but didn’t say a word as he continued.

“Then, in Transfiguration I kept trying to take notes, but every time I’d write down one of the letters—I’d look up and Professor McGonagall had already moved on to the next bit and I couldn’t catch up.”

Now, that was at least something you could help with, but he pressed on—words flowing freely by that point.

“And then I helped Professor Kettleburn put up the Porlocks after class with and I must not’ve been careful enough, since he got spooked kicked me in the shin.  And I still feel really bad about it … and it hurt.”

You winced, feeling a sympathetic pain from some of your own mishaps with magical creatures.

“And I’ve been sitting here for a while now and I’ve realized that I still don’t know why a courtyard’s called a courtyard.  It’s not a court or yard and it’s hurting my head.”

That wasn’t what you expected to be the last grievance, but you only nodded sagely—treating it just as seriously as everything else, since you knew all too well how even the little things felt severe on a day like that.

“I’m sorry that you’ve had such a rough day …  And that Snape and Merula were such prats,” you said with a small huff.
“Look, Potions and Transfiguration may not be your things, but you’re still the most brilliant wizard I know when it comes to creatures.  You really have a knack for them.  I’d bet that Porlock was having just as bad of a day as you were—sure a treat tomorrow will tell him you’re sorry.  
“Plus, you didn’t mention duelling and you’re still one of the best I know on that count, too.  So, you’re still not even close to stupid, bad day or no!”

He said nothing following your lengthy pep talk, but the genuine, broad smile that broke out across his face said everything and more.

You stood up and dusted yourself off before offering him a hand.  “Now, how about we go get some Butterbeer—my treat—and then have a duel for fun to end your day on a positive note?  And I could loan you my notes and go over them with you as we drink, since I think I understood everything.”

Soft adoration was the only phrase to describe the look in his eyes as he gazed at you then, his heart readable in his eyes alone.  “Thank you, you’re—you’re really too nice to me.”

“On the other hand, I often don’t think I could ever be kind enough,” you said, standing up before offering him your hand.

He accepted it, the cooler metal of his rings feeling pleasant against your skin as you helped pull him up.  “Well, on the other … other hand—I don’t think I could ever be nice enough to you.”

Neither of you let go of the other’s hand, so Barnaby took advantage of the moment to intertwine your fingers—loose enough so that you could pull away, if you wanted to.  

When you didn’t, his grin only grew and the two of you began to make your way down to Hogsmeade with hot faces and bright hearts under the warm sunlight.

Chapter Text

The end of your fourth year had finally drawn to its close.  Tomorrow, you’d be on the Hogwarts Express and return home for the summer.  Away from Hogwarts, away from your friends, and away from the Cursed Vaults.

A mixture of emotions stirred inside you at the thought and they lingered as you contemplated the clues you had found within the Forest Vault, the dragon portrait weighing particularly heavy on your mind.  Eventually, sleep crept up on you and slowly overtook you—submerging your mind in its warm, familiar waters.

It was all a blur of dreams, vague and inconsequential, nothing you’d remember when you woke up the next morning.

Until it wasn’t.

Suddenly everything became vivid.  The room around you was painted in inky pitch-like shadows, sticking your feet firmly in place on the floor.  The room wasn’t empty, there were blocks of swirling shadows, some in shapes that provided the vaguest suggestion that they were people.  

Voices echoed, loudly and disjointed, and never stopped rebounding.  Was that a scream?  Or was it just a whisper?  Was it one person or many?  Your mind swam, unable to make sense of the strange scene around you.

It felt like the oxygen levels in the room dropped the distant wall in front of you, the shadows began to bubble before a violent tremor shook the room.  You thought it was an earthquake, but you quickly realized that it was because of a roar, a roar so loud and terrible that it shook the very foundations of the room.

A dragon, made of the same syrupy black shadows, oozed out of the wall to stand before you in all its terrifying glory.  It had no eyes, yet you could feel it look at you.  No teeth, either, yet it seemed like it was baring them at you.

All you knew, whatever this thing was, was that it was pure malice, pure danger.

Dread seized you as the dragon sniffed the air and the air, which still felt like was being depleted of oxygen.  The dragon took a step forward, before it halted—as if it was restrained by something.

Suddenly, you could no longer breathe.  Your fingers came up to claw at your throat, desperate for oxygen.

There was a snap of metal followed by a distinct clink, clink, clunk—the sound of chains scraping across stone as the dragon lurched toward, dark wings outstretched.  Its mouth was wide open and you could see the fire building up in its throat, a brilliant white against the shadows, and—

You bolted upright in bed, hands still clawing at your chest, heart pounding and mind racing to try and catch up.  Taking some ragged gasps in, you realized that you could breathe again.  And then everything else clicked into place.

You were in your dorms, safe in your bed, with only the soft silver of the moonlight to illuminate.  A shaky sob of air escaped your throat as you lowered your hands into your lap.

It was only a nightmare.  Yet that thought didn’t bring you comfort.  This nightmare felt different, almost as if it had a twinge of déjà vu to it.

Clink.  Clink.  Clink.  You jumped at the sound.  With your heart pounding in your eardrums, you glanced over to your window—only to see a small Scops owl perched on the stony ledge, tapping against the glass with its beak.  Your bleary eyes shifted toward the enchanted alarm clock on your bedside table.

It was just a few minutes past two in the morning.

There was only one person you could think of who’d send you an owl at this time and the thought of seeing him was like a balm.  Throwing the covers of your bed back, you hopped up and rushed to the window, throwing it open before gently taking the letter off of its leg.

You unfolded the small piece of rolled parchment and squinted your eyes to read its scant contents in the limited light.

I know it’s two in the morning, but can we meet up?

If you want to, please take the letter and meet me in the Owlery.  Otherwise, just return the letter.

-Talbott

Seeing his name signed in his elegant scrawl managed to bring a smile to your face and you were quick to shoo the small bird away before closing the window once more.  You silently threw on your robes and did your best to sneak your way to the Owlery, keeping your ears perked and eyes alert for Mrs. Norris or her owner.

Upon reaching the top of the West Tower, you finally let out a sigh of relief as the familiar 

He was sitting, comfortably cross-legged, in a pile of hay off to the side with the tiny owl who had brought you his message perched on his shoulder.  “Thank you for coming.  I apologize if I woke you, but I just,” he trailed off, sharp gaze slipping down to his lap before continuing, “I wanted to see you.”

Some heat rushed to your face.  “You didn’t wake me … at least I don’t think you did.  Even so, it’d have been a good thing.  I’d been having a bit of a nightmare, so being here—with you—is precisely what I needed.”

You ungracefully plopped yourself down on the hay beside him, eyes immediately drawn to the plush eagle slippers he had on his feet.  Your grin only grew as you tried to prevent yourself from snorting at how ridiculous they looked on such an elegant young man.  His strange taste in fashion never ceased to amuse you …

Yet when you looked back at Talbott’s face, you saw that his brows were drawn together in concern.  “Do you want to talk about it?”

Your happiness faltered as you recalled the nightmare, but you were glad that he asked you since you wouldn’t have elaborated otherwise.  “I’d like to, but it can wait.  I’m sure there was something you wanted to talk about if you wrote me a note at two in the morning …”

“My thing can wait.”

He gave you a small smile, but there was a slight hint of the nervous awkwardness you had both shared during your disastrous first date.  However, if Talbott said that it could wait, you believed him.  

“Then, I think I will.  Thank you.”

His response came in the form of a gentle nod as he draped an arm around you, hand coming to rest on your upper arm.  The small owl flew off at the disruption and back to its own perch.

Okay, so it was … strange.  I was just suddenly in a room coated in a weird black goo, there was such a loud echo of voices, and then there was a dragon that attacked me.  But it was just this—this feeling of dread and … something else under it all, but I’m not sure what it was.”

“That sounds very strange, indeed.”

You nodded.  “It was.  I may have been thinking too much about the dragon portrait we found in the last Vault, but … I just … I don’t know.”

He was silent, seemingly lost in his thoughts.  But you had to admit that there was something that you wanted to hear his thoughts on.

“Do you believe that?  In dreams being a means of Divination, I mean.  Because I think I may’ve had them before, but I dunno.  This dream just felt … different, so maybe that’d explain why it did.”

Talbott nodded to show that he had heard your question, but took a few more moments to respond.  “I can’t say that I really do, since there seem to be possible logical explanations and counterpoints to much of Divination.  You said yourself that you were thinking about the portrait before going to sleep, perhaps it was purely the dream’s vivacity that set it apart.”

You gave his words a moment or two of proper consideration before quirking a brow at him.  “Interesting …  So, in a world full of magic, you seem to draw the line at Divination?”

Even in the shadows of the corner you were residing in, you could see his face flush red.  “Well, it’s an imprecise art at its very best.  It’s different from Transfiguration, since anyone can do it with enough practice.  That’s another reason why it doesn’t seem likely to me, since you’re uncertain if you’ve had a dream of its kind before.”

“I suppose that makes sense.”  You let out a short, thoughtful hum.  “That makes me feel a bit better, actually.  I don’t think I’d want that particular one to be a prophetic dream, or whatever the, uh, Diviners call them …”

“Nor would I.”

You brought your hand up to rest over his, taking a silent moment to savor the comforting sensation of his warm skin against your own.  The silence was brief, but pleasant, especially now that you were feeling a bit more at ease about the whole nightmare situation.

“So … what is it you wanted to talk about?”

“Ah, right … that.”  He took a moment to compose his thoughts before he spoke.  “We haven’t talked about this yet and I haven’t been able to go to sleep due to—”

“—Wait a minute, you haven’t gotten any sleep?!”

“No, I haven’t, but I assure you that I’ll be fine.  I can drink plenty of coffee in the morning and then sleep when I get home,” he said, before steamrolling on to prevent you from getting a word in edgewise, though there was a light tremor in his voice.  “No, what’s been keeping me up is a simple question that requires an equally simple answer.  Essentially, I was wondering if you’d like to make things official between us and continue to see each other over the summer?  Hopefully on dates better than our first one.”

Any lingering anxieties about your nightmare immediately melted away as your heart overflowed with warm, unbridled affection for Talbott.  You could feel the grin break out across your face and a matching one soon found its way to his own, you could feel him relax even before you delivered him your obvious answer.

“Of course, I want both.”  You paused as an exceptionally idiotic pun crossed your mind.  Its allure was irresistible, especially when paired with bringing Talbott back into his element.  “But does this mean I can call you my boyfriend now?  Or should I call you my birdfriend?”

His face scrunched up as he looked at you, upper lip curled upwards in distaste.  “That was … an awful pun, even by my standards.  In fact, I’m quite certain that it should be illeagle.

“Well, I thought it was a hoot.

“Clearly.  But owl be the one judging the bird puns around here.”

The two of you looked at each other for a moment before bursting out into a fit of laughter.  Some of the owls stirred at the sound before settling back down, letting out quiet, disgruntled hoots to register their noise complaints.

The faint light of night slowly turned into the dappled pink and yellow light of dawn as you whittled away the hours together—alternating between periods of comfortable silence and idle talk, mainly with you speaking and him attentively listening.

Neither of you wanted it to end, refusing to let sleep, but when the owls finally began to stir—readying themselves for the batch of morning mail, you knew that it was time to head back to your dorms and get dressed for the day.  You walked down the narrow spiral stairs trailing behind Talbott, your hand resting perfectly in his.

And you realized then that no matter what was waiting for you, just past the mysterious mist-filled horizon of the future, you knew you’d be all right—so long as you had Talbott by your side.

Chapter Text

  • Jae’s really good at pretending like he’s okay, even when he’s worried sick to his stomach.  He tends to like to keep a more aloof and light-hearted air, it’s often less for you, since dating kind of requires that.
    • Really, he doesn’t really want to come across like an overprotective boyfriend or that he doesn’t trust you.  
    • After all, you’re one of the most competent people he knows, but you’re just taking on so much—it’d be a lot for anyone.  
    • Humor’s kind of his tool for coping with things until you two sit down and talk.  So, he’ll do his best to sometimes make light of the Vaults or joke about how busy you are, never in a disrespectful way and you kind of ‘get’ that he uses humor to cope with things.
      • He’s not as hard to read as he may fancy himself, at least not when it comes to you.
      • As such, you’ll be able to pick up on his concern well before the intervention comes.  But it’s something you can brush off, dismiss, and rationalize away as needed, since he’s not being direct about it.
    • Basically, he does his best to carry on with his business as usual, but will take care to smuggle in anything that he thinks will make your life easier in the meantime.  Handmade sweets will also make their way into the mix upon occasion.  He covers all of it through a cut in his overall profits, since you’re worth it to him.
      • Jae will leave them as surprises and never takes credit for any of it and will deny that he had anything to do with any of it.  
      • However, the way he looks to his left and messes with his hoodie’s drawstrings is all it takes to tell you that he’s lying through his teeth.
      • He doesn’t tell you, but you know who’s leaving things on your desk or sneaking things into your rucksack.
  • For him, he reaches a point where he has to say something as he sees you start distancing yourself from your friends … and even your boyfriend.  At first, he gives you space, but every time he sees you, you just look more and more tired.
    • He can’t stand it.  After all, you’re his ‘partner in crime’ and he can’t let you continue to suffer by yourself like this.
  • So, Jae goes to Rowan and talks with your best friend about how they best think he should approach this delicate subject.  
    • After all, this is his first serious relationship and he doesn’t want to ruin things by botching this.  The Vaults are so important to you and he knows he can’t just laugh it off.
    • Rowan’s pretty surprised by how mature he’s being and they do their best to plan out a solid intervention for you.  
    • They encourage him to be honest and he puts his best Gryffindor brave face on.
  • Two days later, he pulls you aside after your last class of the day and the two of you head to the Artefact Room (if you so much as open your mouth to protest, he just gives you his irresistible puppy dog eyes and will pull the ‘I miss you’ card).  When you get there, you find that he’s made it into a comfortable little nest of pillows and blankets that he borrowed from his dorm room during lunch instead of eating.
    • Once you get comfortable and feel safe with him, he pointblank tells you that he’s so worried about you and that your absence in pursuit of the vaults hurts him.  There’s no snark, no attempt at deflection.  Just upfront honesty.
    • He goes onto tell you that he really wants you to rely on him and your other friends more for anything.  You’re all in this together.
      • In fact, he’s already created a list of who’s going to help you with what, since he went around and asked everyone about how they’d be willing to help and when.  
        • It ranges from study sessions and homework help with Rowan to Puffskein or Crup breaks with Barnaby and Liz.
      • He’s handled it all for you since organizing things is one of his specialties (it comes with running a business, like he does), all you need to do is let your friends and him be there for you. 
    • But, most importantly, he also wants you to be open with him about what else you need from him, specifically, and how you’re feeling.  He’ll give you the floor to vent and cry and yell about all your stress and frustrations, if you want it.
      • If you’re not ready for that yet, he’ll understand given how improvised the whole thing was, but will make it clear that he will always be there to listen to you.  Well, when he’s not serving detention, anyways.
  • If you try and act like you don’t need help and that everything’s okay:
    • He’s hurt.  Opening up is hard for him and for you to just … act like his words and concern aren’t a big deal hurts.  He just cares about you so much.
      • It also makes him feel that you don’t feel like you can be safe and open with him.  If you try and crack a joke it’ll feel like a dagger straight through his heart.
    • He’ll pull away from you and put both hands on your shoulders as he looks directly into your eyes, his brows furrowed in a look of distressed concern:
      • “No, I’m really serious about this, luv.  Please just … listen to me.  I’ll say it however many times I have to for you to understand.”
    • Never have you seen Jae so utterly serious and worried that it likely makes you realize just how worried the people who care about you are—even if you, personally, don’t see the big deal.
    • And he really will repeat it until you get it through that thick, lovable skull of yours.  He’s going to make that realization happen.  Either …
      • You leave the room, unable to stomach what his broken record approach and unwilling to accept his words.  And you leave him there, feeling brokenhearted and utterly useless.
      • That realization happens and the two of you talk it out.
  • After everything’s said and done (provided that you don’t run off), the two of you will just cuddle and he’ll switch the topic onto something more lighthearted.  
    • He’ll report back to you some of the crazy antics you’ve missed due to keeping so busy.  His voice will get softer and he’ll talk a bit less as it goes on.
    • Jae does his best to lull you into a much needed sense of comfort and then into a nap, since you look like you need sleep.
    • If he feels you start to doze off, he’ll just hold you close and run his fingers through your hair, worried about what the future will hold for both you and your relationship.

Chapter Text

Defence Against the Dark Arts class that day was woefully heavy on the lecture and scarce on the demonstration.  You were sitting at one of the back tables with your detention buddy/boyfriend, trying to pass the unusually boring class in the best way you knew how: quietly asking each other moronic questions.

“Okay, would you ever … hm, would you ever use an Auto-Answer Quill?”  Jae asked you, chin resting in his hand as his eyes glimmered with the usual mischief.

You rolled your eyes, dipping your quill in ink, at least trying to at least pretend like you were paying attention to Rakepick as you whispered back, “You’re just trying to sell me some Auto Answer Quills at this point, aren’t you?”

“That’s not an answer, luv,” he said with an obnoxiously cheeky grin.

“Well, what do you think, Mr. Smuggler?”

“I think that you should.  I mean, you’re smart, but it could give you that extra edge.  You are from the house of ambition and all that.”

“Of course, you would,” you said, scrunching your face up as you looked toward him and asked the first question that came to your mind.  “More importantly, would you ever eat a handful of every flavor beans?”

“Blimey …  If I got paid to, then yeah,” he said before his face wrinkled up out of disgust, his previous grin entirely absent.  “Otherwise, uh, no.  Hard pass.”

“Okay, but you’d do anything if you were paid to do it.”

“Yeah.”  He pressed his lips together and raised his brows, nodding in agreement for a moment.  “Yeah, that’s probably true.”

The classroom dimmed as a cloud passed over the sun, Rakepick’s voice droned on in the background as you waited for him to ask his next question.  Suddenly, the word “Imperiused” cut through the room as the atmosphere suddenly shifted to something more anticipatory and rigid.

However, a lightbulb seemed to go off over Jae’s head, eyes sparking with sudden inspiration.  If he noticed the increased tension in the room, he didn’t show it as he leaned over toward you—lowering his voice further.  “Oh, would you ever learn any of the Unforgivable Curses, if given the chance?”

Your eyebrows shot up with surprise as the professor’s voice faded to the background yet again.  That was a question with actual substance and weight—one that demanded proper thought.

Jae patiently waited for your response as you set down your quill and mulled over the question for a good chunk of time.  It was complicated, really.  One one hand, learning them was morally dubious at best due to their dark nature and illegal status.  Yet on the other hand, they could be a handy tool—provided you were able to cast them and not get caught in the process.  The Cursed Vaults demanded that you make use of everything you could, after all, even if you didn’t use them.

You knew that you were probably going to play into the negative reputation of your house, but you weren’t about to lie to him.  A heavy sigh escaped you as you glanced back over at Jae.

“Under certain circumstances?  Perhaps I would.  They could come in handy in dire situations.”

“That’s fair.”

You blinked at him for a few moments in disbelief before your eyebrows knit together and eyes scrunched up from confusion.  “That’s it?”

“Yeah?”  His eyes shifted around as he thought over your reaction a bit more.  “What exactly were you expecting?”

“… A comment about how I’m a stereotypical Slytherin, maybe, or—well, any kind of negative reaction, really.  They are the Unforgivable Curses, after all.”

He leaned back in his chair at that and gave a noncommittal shrug.  “Well, they’re illegal, so that makes them interesting to me, too.  I’d probably learn them and I’m a bloody Gryffindor.  Don’t think it has anything to do with your house, really.  And I would know, given my business and all.”
There was a pause as a small smile graced his lips.  “Besides, I know you’re not bad, wouldn’t have picked you as my detention buddy, otherwise.  And I definitely wouldn’t have started dating you.”

Your shoulders relaxed as a tautness you hadn’t even noticed melted away, instead being replaced by a wonderful warmth that spread throughout your chest.  Even though you were dating him, you were so used to people (Gryffindors, in particular) making the worst assumptions about you and your House.  You had definitely chosen the right person to date.

Really, it only made you care for—and, perhaps, even love—him all the more.

Warm sunlight filtered through the windows as the clocktower’s bell chimed and announced the end of class before you could think of a proper response.

Jae stood up and stretched his arms over his head, letting out a languid yawn, as you used your wand to gather all of your things and pack them into your bag.

“Hey, you wanna stop by the usual empty classroom on our way down to the kitchens tonight?”

That only meant one thing: snogging.  And that absolutely derailed your train of though

You felt your face flush with heat as you slung your rucksack over your shoulder.  “I suppose we could, though I don’t think Pitts will appreciate it if we’re late again.”

“Eh, even if we are, it’s worth it.”

And, indeed, it was.

Chapter Text

Ben let out a sigh as he stepped out of the fireplace, tension ebbing from his shoulders at being home after yet another long day of work.  Quickly though, he realized that you were waiting for him, standing in front of the sofa with your hands hidden behind your back.

It was incredibly suspicious and it made him stop mid-step, halfway across the room as his brown eyes darted about—trying to gauge the room and parse out what you were up to.

“Oh … hello, dear?  I, uh, what’s going on?”

“I have a surprise for you!” you said, bouncing ever so slightly on your heels.

Yet his eyebrows only shot up in response, a perfect blend of uncertainty and concern.  Your surprises were not always the best.  His expression didn’t seem to dampen your enthusiasm, though.

“Oh, come on!  It’s a good surprise, I promise.

You approached your husband with a pep in your step before holding our your surprise gift for him.  It was a beautiful, leather-bound edition of the Hobbit with gold gilding in the lettering and along the pages.  It was ornate and (undoubtedly) expensive.

Ben stared at it for a moment, taking in the sight of the book before gingerly reaching out and taking it from you.  He continued to focus on it, transfixed, as he carefully turned it over in his hands, drinking in all its fine details and the craftsmanship of it all.

“I saw it and, well, I thought you’d like it.  I know work’s been quite stressful for you as of late, so I wanted to cheer you up.  It’s the least you deserve, really.  And I know how much you love this book, I mean, your paperback’s so worn that I’m surprised you can even still read it.”  You let out a light chuckle.

“I—thank you,” he said, finally looking up at you, brown eyes alight with tender warmth.  “This means more to me than you could possibly know.  My dad used to read this book all the time to me when I was growing up.”

“Well, perhaps you can thank me by reading it to me?  May be a good way to relax and all.”

“That’s the least I can do, I think,” he said, voice catching slightly in his throat, choked up by conflicting emotions.

“Great!  I’ll put the kettle on, make us some tea, and we can settle in for the evening.”

And with that, you left the room and Ben turned his attention back to the beautiful book that you had so thoughtfully bought for him.  Although, no matter how beautiful the book you had given him had been, it would’ve been just as much of a treasure to him no matter what.  

All because it came from you.

I really don’t even deserve you.  The unfinished thought hung in the air during your absence.

A drop hit the pristine leather cover, soon followed by another.  It was only then that he realized he was crying.

He wiped at his eyes, golden wedding band catching the sweet light of evening as past guilt reared its monstrous head once more, his past wrongs toward you digging their talons deep into his heart.  Just as they always did.

With a sharp intake of breath, he shook his head and banished the unwelcome fiend from his mind.  No, I’m lucky to have you.  

That much he certainly was, after everything you had been through together.  It brought him some solace, though no matter how many times he seemed to cut off the head of the beast—it always seemed to grow at least two more.  Like a Hydra hellbent on ruining the best thing that had ever happened to him.

“Everything okay, dear?” your voice snapped him from his thoughts.

You were standing in the doorway, two cups of tea on saucers resting in your hands, your brow furrowed in concern for him.  The sight comforted him and he dropped his hand back down to his side, not particularly worried about being vulnerable in front of you.  

“Yes, everything’s actually … more than okay, love,” he said, offering you a reassuring smile.

Without another word, he settled down on the sofa and took his usual seat.  You followed suit and set the cups down on the coffee table in front of it before sitting down at your husband’s side.  

He draped an arm around your shoulders, his smile only grew when he felt you cuddle up to his side and rest your head against his shoulder.  Ben carefully opened the book and began to read, filling your humble home with a story that was near and dear to his heart, with the person nearest and dearest to it right by his side.

And, for once, everything really was more than okay.  Including himself.

Chapter Text

You made a beeline for the clocktower courtyard, not wanting to waste another second to see and talk with Ben once more.  He had ignored your letters and requests to hang out all summer and it was excruciating, though you couldn’t blame him for it.  

With the final staircase behind you, you continued through the beige stone halls lit by flickering torches, your mind racing as wildly as your heart.  Surely, he just needed some space over the summer, though you would be lying if you said that you weren’t worried about his well-being and whether or not he was blaming himself for what happened.

All those thoughts evaporated the moment you pushed the door open and stepped into the warm night air.  Ben was standing there, waiting for you in front of the fountain, wringing his hands and shifting awkwardly on his feet.  The moment the two of you made eye contact, his shoulders relaxed as a a nervous smile worked its way onto his face.

“Y-You really came?”

“Of course I did!  I wanted to make sure you were okay after what happened,” you said, shoulders falling.  “You’ve avoided me all summer since … that and I just—I’ve been worried about you.”

The corners of his lips fell into a frown and his eyebrows shot up, knitting together.  It was a look you’d seen on him far too many times before: guilt.

“No, I, um, uh, I should be the one checking on you … after everything.  But I’ve just,” he paused and turned his face downwards to stare at his shoes.  “I’ve just been so ashamed.  And afraid.  Very afraid, really.”

There was a moment of silence as you considered what you could say in response to that.  You wanted to tell him that he had nothing to be ashamed about, to tell him that it was more your fault than his—but those words died in your throat.  Fear, though?  That was something the two of you had talked about before, it was familiar.  Comfortable, even.

You cleared your throat.  “What is it you’re afraid of?”

His hands clenched into fists as he dropped them to his side, you could only watch helplessly as his shoulders rose and fell from the deep breaths he took to keep his mounting anxiety in check.

“That someone might take control of me again,” he finally said, voice barely above the whisper of the night breeze.  “That they might make me do something even worse.  And that … that I may have already done something worse, but can’t remember.”

Your chest ached more and more with each word Ben uttered, alongside your growing uncertainty about what to say to help him feel better.  It was a breach of his autonomy as a person and who knew how many times it had happened to him?  It scared you, too, for more reasons than one.

“… Well, let’s go through what happened that night, if that’s okay?  Maybe if you talk about it, some more will come back to you?”

His brows furrowed together at your suggestion, but after a few moments of consideration, he nodded, brown eyes still not entirely meeting yours.  “O-Okay, I don’t remember much, but maybe it will …”

And so the two of you sat down on the edge of the fountain and he walked you through the events of that terrible night—fingers curled tightly into the fabric of his black slacks.  You just listened, occasionally prompting him to continue by asking a question.

He had been resting in the Gryffindor common room on the sofa, walking with a Weasley (most likely Bill, he thought), before he started feeling not entirely himself and got up to put on the crimson robes.  And then …

Nothing.

Silence fell over the two of you as he tried and tried to recall any further details, you held your tongue—not knowing what else to ask.  Finally, he let out a sigh of defeat, bringing one hand up to rub the back of his neck, as he often did.

“I wished I remembered more, but I still don’t.”  His shoulders sagged as he finally turned to look at you, looking distraught.  “Even after all this time.”

You were at a loss for words, not knowing what to say given how awful the situation.  Was there even anything you could say to cheer him up?  To absolve him of the guilt he felt from something that clearly wasn’t his fault?

While your mind raced for something, anything, his own mind was spiraling into a depressing descent.

“It’s hopeless …  I’m hopeless.”

Without realizing it, your hands balled into fists as you stood up.  “You’re not hopeless, Ben.”

“But I am.  If I can’t even remember—”

“—Ben,” you said, trying to keep your voice firm, yet soft as you cut him off, knowing full well that this line of thinking came as naturally to him as breathing.  “No matter what they may have done, not of it was your fault.  You were Imperiused or, or—whatever it was that they did to you.”  You crossed your arms over your chest.
“I can’t imagine what it must be like moving on after that, but I can’t just let you talk about yourself like that, either.  For what it’s worth, I don’t even think Dumbledore, himself, would be able to regain his memories following what you went through …”

He gaped at you, eyes bulging out of his skull as his mouth opened and closed from a shock that had rendered him speechless.  He swallowed thickly and took a few moments to let your words sink in fully before he tried again.

“You … You really still trust me?”

“Of course I do, Ben.  You’ve been there for me since we started Hogwarts.  Even though the Cursed Vaults have been nothing but dangerous so far, you’ve always been there to help me.“  The familiar pang of guilt reverberated in your heart, feeling more than a little culpable for him seemingly being chosen as ‘R’s victim to carry out their bidding, but you quashed it in order to press on.  
“So, no, you’re not hopeless.  But rather, you’re a great, brave friend and were the best date I could’ve asked for to go with to the Celestial Ball.”

“I … thank you.”

Under the dim, pale light provided by the sliver of a crescent moon in the sky, you saw Ben smile and a blush creep across his cheeks, most likely mirroring your own.  Judging by how warm your own face felt unmistakably warm, at least.

Just as the night sky needed both the moon and the stars, you and Ben had found each other once again.  The two of you took the moment to simply smile at each other, basking in the comforting sense of the world returning to the way it was meant to be.

At least that was until he saw a sudden flourish of red in his peripheral vision and the flash of a silver-banded wand …

"Watch out!” he shouted as he leapt to his feet, wand drawn in the blink of an eye as he pushed you aside to take the hit in your stead.

Everything that followed was a blur.  One moment you were standing, smiling at Ben, and the next you were laying on the ground, body rigid from a full-body bind hex.  Ben was somewhere behind you—most likely injured—but you were unable to look back and check on him.  However, your mind wasn’t able to focus on him for very long as a familiar red robe loomed over you.  But who was underneath that hood this time?

The familiar cocktail of fear and anxiety was set alight as you could only stare up at ‘R’s messenger, entirely at their mercy.  For a moment, you wondered if this was how you were going to die, as they had seemingly tried to kill you last year using Ben as their puppet.

“I told you death was coming to Hogwarts …  We still need you alive, but rest assured knowing that before this year ends?”  They paused to tuck their wand away.  “One of your friends will die.”

The individual didn’t linger, they retreated out of your line of sight the moment their final word rang in your ears.  You were still frozen in place, unable to cry for help or check on your friend.

And your world was once again mercilessly turned upside down by ‘R’ and the Vaults.  The stranger in red’s words echoed in your mind as tears stung your eyes at the overwhelming sense of fear for Ben’s well-being as you laid there.  Utterly helpless.

Perhaps you were the hopeless one, constantly endangering your friends as you desperately searched for your brother …