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a boy so pretty (such a pity)

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Half asleep as he may be, the silence that falls over the table midway through breakfast is enough to make even Harry take notice. When he looks up from his plate, he sees almost everyone is looking at him. Or, rather, behind him.

He twists in his seat.

He blinks. Rubs his eyes. Looks again.

“Riddle,” he greets carefully. His gaze flicks over to the Slytherin table, but none of them are paying any attention. Which is... worrying, actually. He looks back to Riddle, who’s still looming over him. “What can I do for you?”

“Potter,” Riddle says, and he actually sounds… nice. This is growing more suspicious by the second. “May I escort you to class?”

Ron snorts, not even attempting to disguise the sound. “You’re joking, right?” he asks, leaning forward to glare up at the other boy. “Fuck off, Riddle. Harry doesn’t need an escort from you.”

Harry watches Riddle’s face carefully. His expression sours, but only for a moment before it’s smooth again. He smiles, and if Harry didn't know better, he might call it charming.

Well. Okay. He really does know better.

But it’s still charming.

“I think Potter can decide that for himself, don’t you?” Riddle asks, and now Harry is more than just suspicious. He’s curious too. Which means whatever is going on here, it looks like he’s gonna play along.

“Alright,” he says, ignoring Ron’s squawk of protest and the way Hermione is looking at him as if he’s lost his mind. He stands, forcing Riddle back a step as he slings his bag over his shoulder. “Let’s walk.”

 

They don't talk much. Once they reach the classroom, Riddle abandons him to sit in his usual seat, and Harry heads for his own. When Ron and Hermione arrive, they ask what happened in hurried whispers, but there honestly isn’t much to tell.

 

Then it keeps happening.

 

“I don’t know, Harry,” Hermione says one evening as they’re huddled in their usual place by the fire, “it does feel a bit suspicious.” She looks apologetic as she says it. Ron, on the other hand, is triumphant, as he’s been saying the same thing since this whole thing with Riddle began.

Harry isn’t quite sure how to tell them he doesn’t care. “I don’t care.”

That should do it.

“What do you mean you don’t care?” Ron demands.

“Well,” Harry says, quite reasonably, “It means what it sounds like.”

“But, Harry, he could hurt you.” Hermione this time.

“So could playing Quidditch.”

“We’re not talking about hurting your body.” Hermione crosses her arms and does her best to appear stern. It’s quite successful. “We’re talking about your heart .”

“Although, to be fair, Riddle could hurt his body, too,” Ron says. “Who knows what kind of kinky shite that bastard’s into.”

“Well—” Harry begins.

“That wasn’t a question!”

Ron is looking a bit green, and even Hermione doesn't seem happy with him, so Harry takes pity on them. “Look, guys, I appreciate the concern, but I really don’t need it.”

“So you admit that he’s an awful person and you’re going to stay away?” Ron asks hopefully.

“No,” Harry says. “I admit that he’s an awful person, and also I’m going to climb him like a tree.”

Ron pretends to gag. Harry laughs. Hermione summons a cushion and whacks him over the head with it. He thinks he probably deserves it.



“So,” Riddle begins as they’re on their latest walk.

He stops. Clears his throat.

Harry could go easy on him, but he doesn’t want to. “So?” he echoes, blatantly teasing in the way he knows Riddle hates.

Predictably, Riddle scowls. But he also blushes. Like almost everything else he does ( almost everything because no one looks good when they’re tossing about slurs and dark magic without a care), it’s very attractive. He wonders if Riddle’s trained himself to do it on command. It’s probably good for getting people to let their guard down.

In fact, maybe Harry should try it out too.

He’s gotten quite good at making himself appear as if he’s about to cry, and sometimes he can even shed a tear. Blushing can’t be that much harder.

“Would you like to go to Hogsmeade with me?”

“What?” Too busy thinking about all the ways he could blush his way out of trouble to really pay attention, it takes Harry a moment to process. Just as Riddle is getting ready to repeat himself, an annoyed look flashing across those handsome features, Harry responds. “Oh, yeah. Sure.”

Riddle huffs.

Actually, seeing as he had the other boy’s dick only a few scant inches away from his mouth just yesterday, maybe he should start calling him Tom.

“I appreciate the enthusiasm,” the other boy says dryly.

Yeah. Never mind. He’ll be Riddle forever.

 

 

Dear Sirius,

I’ve followed your advice and have acquired a boyfriend. Well, he’s not my boyfriend yet, but I assume he’s working up to it. And no, you don’t get to meet him.

As Ron would be more than willing to tell you, my not-yet-boyfriend is kind of a shitty person. He’s very charming, of course, and he rivals Hermione for intelligence, but I haven’t forgotten the stories about him. Of course, I’ve never once befriended a Slytherin, as I know you’d be deeply disappointed in me if I did and I am ever your loyal godson, so obviously I’ve never actually heard these stories. But if I did befriend a Slytherin who could tell me about them, there’d be plenty and they’d be more than a bit unnerving.

Anyway, if you met him, you’d try to scare him off, and that would be an embarrassing waste of time for all of us. I’m pretty sure you’d have to kill him first. Seeing as you were only just cleared of all charges, I’d prefer it if your record stayed clean a bit longer.

However, I didn’t just write you to tell you how terrible the boy I’ve just planned a date with is. I’m also writing to ask for advice, because Ron refuses to talk about him and Hermione just keeps giving me pamphlets. First, what exactly do people do on dates? Second, what should I get him for a gift? It needs to be as heartfelt and embarrassing as possible, which is why I’ve written you and not Mum or Remus, who would be entirely too sensible about this sort of thing.

Write soon! This is a bit time sensitive.

Your wonderful godson,
Harry

P.S. If you tell my father that I have a boyfriend, I’ll tell Mum about that trick you played on Snape in my third year. It wouldn’t be worth it and you know it

 

 

Although Sirius gives him many suggestions to choose from, Harry eventually settles on flowers.

He’s never found gifts of flowers very romantic, something his dad lovingly blames on him having a potioneer for a mother, but Sirius was adamant that any proper witch or wizard would be happy to receive them. Apparently, in addition to the meanings that muggles have assigned them, wizards have their own surprisingly eloquent code for flowers. Which means his gift is both functional (if you’re brewing poisons, at least) and meaningful.

It was the reaction from his friends, however, that really sealed the deal.

Hermione, of course, had laughed herself silly, far too practical for such nonsense. Ron, on the other hand, had gone misty eyed as he looked Hermione’s way, and Harry had watched with glee as a deep blush bloomed across his freckled cheeks.

Which is why he’s marching across the grounds at sunrise on the day of their date, knife in hand.

All but one of the flowers he means to gather can be found around the edge of the Forbidden Forest, and while it’s true that stasis charms are effective at retaining quality, he’s found that cut plants always look best when the stasis is fresh. Too long under magic’s hold, and they start to lose their color.

Three hours later, he’s waiting for Tom just outside the entrance to the dungeons. The flowers he’s gathered, plus the one he’d conjured out of glass (which holds even more meaning than the same flower in its natural state, apparently), are charmed to be invulnerable, as he wouldn’t put it past some of Tom’s housemates to burn them out of his hand. He draws the occasional strange look from the Slytherins that pass, but they all leave him alone.

All except one, that is.

“Flowers, Potter?” Malfoy drawls as he comes up beside him. The disdain is audible. “How sweet.”

While Harry is by no means the shortest boy in their year, Malfoy has always been taller. Which means he’s fully capable of looming over him.

It’s as infuriating as ever.

“Fuck off, Malfoy,” Harry says, keeping his eyes trained on the entrance. The less attention he gives the other boy, the better.

Malfoy just laughs at him before making a grab for his flowers. A nonverbal stinging hex is enough to stop him, and the taller boy scowls as he takes a step back. “Magic in the halls is against the rules.”

He says it like it’s a threat. This time, it’s Harry who’s laughing.

“Too bad Riddle’s the prefect and not you,” Harry taunts, “or you might have been able to do something about it.”

Before Malfoy can do more than sneer at him, Riddle finally arrives. When he sees Harry and Malfoy facing off, his expression does something strange. In fact, he looks almost… worried? The look is fleeting, however, and by the time he’s close enough to edge Malfoy out of Harry’s space, he’s glaring.

No words are said, but soon enough their staring contest comes to an end. Trying to save face, Malfoy scoffs and stalks away, head held high.

“Well, that was interesting,” Harry says as he watches Malfoy join his minions by the door. At Riddle’s curious look, he elaborates. “I’ve never seen a Slytherin power play in person before. You’re usually so good at keeping them behind closed doors.”

“I suppose,” Riddle says with a grin. He looks absurdly proud of himself. Then he catches sight of the flowers, and his face goes blank. “Are those for me?”

If Harry didn’t know better, he’d think the other boy might be panicking.

“They are,” he says cheerfully as he leads him toward the door. Riddle follows, half a step behind. “I picked them myself.”

Once they get outside, Harry turns to face the other boy, who still hasn’t managed to sort out his expression. When he holds the flowers out to him, Riddle accepts them woodenly, as if no one’s ever gotten him a gift for no reason before. In fact, Harry’s starting to think that might be true.

How interesting.

“Thank you,” Riddle finally says after the silence lasts just a beat too long to be normal, “I didn’t get you anything.”

“I noticed,” Harry says, laughing. He waves off Riddle’s concern. “Don’t worry about it, honestly. I just thought it’d be nice, is all.”

Actually, he thought it’d be funny, but he isn’t going to mention that to the prideful boy.

“They are,” Riddle says softly. He strokes one of the petals, and then he notices the flower Harry conjured. He plucks it out of the bouquet, and it shimmers as he twirls it, watching the way the sunlight pools across its delicate folds. “Did you make this?”

Harry has to take a moment to answer, caught up in the way the reflected light plays across Riddle’s face and catches in his dark eyes. He looks soft, suddenly, and it’s almost too much to handle.

Riddle looks at him, expecting a response.

“I did,” he finally says.

Riddle smiles at him, then, and he thinks this might just be the first real expression of happiness he’s ever seen on the other boy. It’s quite nice.

“It’s beautiful.” He twirls it again, looking wistful. “I don’t often make things like this. It’s easy to forget…”

“I can teach you,” Harry offers, almost embarrassingly fast. When Riddle turns the full force of that smile on him again, he feels himself blush. He may have inherited his dad's brown skin, but that doesn't stop the heat pooling in his cheeks. Thankfully, Riddle doesn't seem to notice. “I’m pretty good at charms.”

“I’d like that.”

They stand there a moment longer, just smiling at each other. Then, the doors open again, and a group of chattering third years spills out of the hall.

The moment sufficiently broken, Harry decides to explain the rest of the gift.

“I didn’t just choose them for how they look,” he says, nodding at the bouquet as they set off down the path to the village. “Apparently, every flower has a specific meaning, based on color and type.”

“Really?”

“Oh, yeah.” Harry plucks one of the pink singing-lilies from Riddle’s hold. “For example, this one—”

Riddle snatches it back, clearing his throat awkwardly when Harry raises an eyebrow at him. “I’d like to look them up for myself,” he says, a blush of his own spreading across his face. “It’s more fun that way.”

Harry couldn’t stop his grin if he tried.

“Oh, Merlin,” he says, pressing a hand to his mouth to stifle a laugh at his realization. “You’re a massive nerd, aren’t you?”

Riddle’s mouth falls open in offense, but he has nothing to say for himself. With a sniff of derision, he stalks ahead, his longer legs making it so he easily outpaces Harry. Harry doesn’t mind being left behind; he’s too busy laughing.

 

Once Riddle was finally done being mad at him, the date actually went surprisingly well. Although, to be fair, that’s mostly because Harry was careful to steer their conversations clear of both politics and the ongoing feud between Riddle and Hermione over the top spot in Ancient Runes.

When he finishes telling his friends all about it once Riddle has escorted him back to the common room, Hermione actually looks a bit thoughtful.

When he sees this, Ron groans. “Oh no,” he says, “Please don’t tell me you’ve been corrupted, too.”

“Hey,” Harry protests, whacking him gently across the arm with a spare book, “I have not been corrupted.”

“Really,” Ron says flatly, “So you still agree that he’s awful?”

“Well. I mean—”

“See.” Ron turns his solemn gaze back to Hermione, ignoring Harry’s protests. “Corrupted.”

“I don’t know, Ron,” Hermione says, “I don’t think he’s made anyone cry in months.”

Harry frowns thoughtfully. "He did help Colin up after another a run-in with Malfoy the other day."

"That doesn't make up for all the time he spent being a dick," Ron says with a scowl. 

“Of course it doesn't,” Hermione tells them with a huff, “but that’s not the point. Maybe, instead of being corrupted, Harry’s corrupting him.” Ron and Harry both turn incredulous gazes on her, and she huffs. “Think about it,” she says. “For years, Riddle has been, er—"

"A terrible person?" Harry offers.

"Right, terrible," Hermione finishes with a nod. "But ever since he’s started, well... dating Harry, he’s changed.”

“That’s not how that works, Hermione,” Harry tells her. “You can’t just date someone into being a better person.”

“When you guys say date… ” Ron trails off at the significant look Harry and Hermione share. “Oh, Merlin, never mind. I don’t want to know.”

“Anyway,” Hermione says as she rolls her eyes, “I know that’s not how it works, Harry, but what if there’s some truth to it? Isn’t it worth thinking about?”

“I don’t know.” He looks at the fire to get out of having to face his friends. “Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t.”

Either way, it was easier when Riddle was just awful.

 

As the weeks pass and he and Riddle just keep getting closer, Harry can’t get Hermione’s words out of his head. He knows that being a bullying toe-rag isn’t quite on the same level as being a possibly evil dark magic user, but isn’t the principle the same? If his dad could change, could Riddle change, too?

 

“Don’t you think it’s about time you called me Tom?” Riddle asks him one day, interrupting a story he’d been telling about how Ron actually managed to get back at the twins for a prank last week.

Harry frowns and looks over at his boyfriend. They’re lying side by side beneath a tree by the lake, a jar of bluebell flames keeping them warm as they watch the sky. “What?” he asks. “Why?”

“Well, we’re dating.”

Huh. “I suppose we are.”

“And being on a first name basis is more intimate than using only surnames.”

“I suppose it is.”

Riddle huffs, and Harry laughs. It’s all the warning he gets before his boyfriend rolls over so he’s stretched out atop Harry. At this angle, his dark hair falls about his face in artfully messy waves. His face is framed by the sun.

“Don’t you want to be intimate with me, Harry?” Riddle purrs, leaning down to kiss his neck.

Harry gasps. He can’t help it. He reaches up to grab Riddles hair, pulling his head back and getting that deadly weapon he calls his mouth away from his sensitive skin. “I think you know by now that I am very much in favor of intimacy,” Harry says as he tracks the way Riddle’s pupils have blown wide in arousal, “but I refuse to do it on the ground where anyone can walk by.”

A beaming smile stretches across Riddle’s face. Harry can’t help but smile back. Then, he shoves the other boy off of him, laughing at his look of surprised dismay.

“C’mon, Tom,” he says, and it’s only a little bit weird, “let’s go find an open broom cupboard.”

That said, he pushes himself to his feet and heads for the castle. When he looks back, Tom is watching him from the ground, looking quite besotted for a boy who supposedly doesn’t feel emotions (according to the younger Hufflepuffs, at least). When he sees Harry looking, he pretends to scowl and shoots up after him, catching up easily and dragging Harry back into his arms as he lifts him off the ground. Harry laughs as Tom spins them in a quick circle and his legs fly out and into the air.

He doesn’t even pretend to protest.

“As much as I appreciate the enthusiasm,” Tom says, his smile audible, “I refuse to have our first time in a broom cupboard of all places.”

“Well, my godfather doesn’t want me consorting with Slytherins, so we can’t go to your room.”

Tom snickers. There’s no other word for it.

“I’m sure we can think of something.”

 

 

Dear Sirius,

While I could take the easy route and make a joke about Slytherins who have a bit of Gryffindor in them, I refuse to lower myself to your level. But I also want you to know that it occurred to me, because I know it’ll upset you and it’s what you deserve.

Things with Tom are going well. No need to send your congratulations. As I am your favorite godson, I know that you’re very happy for me. Even better, Mum knows about him now. Apparently, Ron told his brothers who told Molly who shared it with her when Mum went to drop off a new cleaning solution for testing. She hasn’t told Dad yet, thank Merlin. I think she thinks it’s funny that he doesn’t know yet. Honestly, who knows with those two.

I do have a bit of a problem, though. Tom’s lying to me. Well, maybe lying is the wrong word, but he’s definitely got a secret, and I think it might be bad. I knew from the start that something was up, as we’d never really spoken before he offered to walk me to class out of the blue (except for that time I hexed his mouth to taste like soap for a few weeks in second year, but that doesn’t really count, does it?), but I think it might be worse than I thought. I wasn’t too bothered about it before, but, Sirius, I think I really like him.

I need advice, but I don’t even know how to ask for it when it comes to this.

Any thoughts?
Harry

 



For all that he suspects something is going on between Malfoy and his boyfriend, Harry doesn’t actually have any proof.

At least, he didn’t before.

The first real hint that his suspicions are correct comes in the form of Tom and Malfoy arguing in one of the lesser traveled corridors.

Malfoy has his boyfriend backed up against the wall, and while Tom’s grip on his wand is tight enough that his arm is shaking with it, he isn’t actually doing anything to fight back. As he watches, Harry thinks he hears his own name mentioned, but he can’t be sure from this distance.

Before he can decide whether he wants to leave or get closer, Tom spots him. The flash of panic across his face, which Malfoy probably doesn’t even notice, is… interesting.

With a sudden sneer, Tom makes one last comment, which Harry assumes is suitably biting, before he steps forward, forcing Malfoy to take a step back from his taller housemate. While Harry isn’t always pleased by his boyfriend's ridiculously height, even compared to Malfoy’s lanky frame, the sight of Malfoy shrinking in on himself, even just a little, is enough for him to decide that it has some merits after all.

Once Malfoy has stalked off, nose stuck in the air like he’s the winner of this particular battle (which he might be, for all Harry knows), Harry makes his way forward. “Darling,” he says flatly as Tom kisses his cheek in a practiced show of affection. If he’s thrown by the pet name, Tom doesn’t show it. “Everything alright?”

“Oh, that? Just a disagreement. You know how Draco can be,” Tom says with a dismissive wave of his hand.

“Yeah,” Harry agrees, still undecided on whether he’s bothered by this or not, “that’s why I asked.”

Moments like this, he almost misses the days where all Tom was to him was an awful boy who knew how to kiss.

He hopes Tom comes clean soon. The suspense is the worst part.

 

A few days later, he gets his wish.

 

 

Dear Sirius,

Thanks for the advice. I’ll keep it in mind, though I’m not sure it’ll be very helpful. Anyways, I just wanted to let you know I got your letter.

Expect a longer response in a few days.

Regards,
Harry

 

 

The end of term is approaching quickly, and for the first time in years, Harry actually wishes he wasn’t expected at home so he could spend more time with Tom.

In the face of their impending separation, they’ve taken to spending as much of their free time together as possible (though Harry is careful not to neglect Ron and Hermione, as they’re quite possibly his soulmates and deserve better than that).

In fact, he’s on his way to meet Tom at the library for their latest study date when he hears Malfoy call out to him. “Oi, Potter!”

The other boy has been suspiciously absent from his life lately; he should've expected this. “What do you want, Malfoy?” Harry asks, already bored by this conversation.

Malfoy smirks at him, like he knows something Harry doesn’t and is just dying to torment him with it. “I just wanted to bring you in on a little secret, is all.”

“Go on, then.”

“Riddle’s using you.” He sounds so smug when he says it that Harry wants to hit him on principle.

If he’d tried to tell him this a month ago, Harry probably would've believed him. Now, however, he isn’t so sure. Well, don’t get him wrong—he’s certain that Tom was at least attempting to use him for something back in the beginning. But by now he’s reasonably sure that any plans of Tom’s (regarding Harry, at least) have been long since tossed aside.

Honestly, he’s mostly just happy that Malfoy isn’t telling him Tom has joined a secret death cult, or something. Although, to be fair to his boyfriend, he’s far more likely to start a secret death cult than to join one.

A little bit of manipulation between boyfriends? Hardly a problem at all. Considering he’s dating Tom Riddle, of all people, it’s nothing more than what he’s suspected since the beginning.

“Oh, no,” Harry says, not bothering to fake any distress.

Malfoy must mistake his lack of any real distress for shock. “It’s upsetting, I know. But, you see, he’s been using you all along.”

Because apparently his life is one of those soaps his dad pretends to hate, this is the moment Tom turns the corner and spots them. Fury overtakes his boyfriend’s features as soon as the sight registers, and he stalks forward. When Malfoy catches sight of him, he looks delighted.

“I thought I told you to leave Harry alone, Malfoy,” Tom snarls as he comes closer, not even giving Malfoy a chance to speak before he’s drawing his wand.

Harry always appreciates the chance to see Tom expressing genuine emotion, so he’s content to watch. But then he remembers that he actually does want to know what this is all about, and he doubts Tom will ever tell him if it’s left up to just him.

So.

“Tom,” he says softly, reaching out to grab his wrist and lower his wand. His boyfriend looks torn, so Harry lets his eyes go a bit misty to speed along the process of getting his way. “Please, let him talk.”

“That’s right, Tom,” Malfoy says with a cruel little laugh, “listen to your precious boyfriend.”

Tom lets out a sharp hiss of anger. Malfoy pales at the sound, but it isn’t enough to stop him now that Harry’s there to hold Tom back.

“What’s this about?” Harry asks, determined to get this conversation back on track. “How has Tom been using me?”

“Well, I’m glad you asked.” Malfoy shakes off the last of his trepidation and smirks. “You see, Riddle’s been so desperate to establish himself in society that it’s just embarrassing. Eventually, I grew sorry for him, so I made him a deal. All he had to do was seduce you and then humiliate you in front of the entire school, and in return, I’d do him a favor.”

Wow.

How juvenile.

“Harry—"

“Hush, Tom.”

Malfoy smirks again. “But I guess the sex was just too good.” Malfoy steps closer until they’re pressed almost chest to chest, looking down at him with a greedy light in his pale eyes. Tom is practically vibrating at his side. “What exactly do you do for him? It must be special to get him to go back on our deal.”

“What was the deal?”

“I just told you—"

“No.” Harry cuts him off. “I meant, what would he get out of it?”

“You mean aside from the chance to fuck and then utterly humiliate Gryffindor’s Golden Boy ?” Malfoy asks with a sneer.

“Yeah,” Harry says dryly, “aside from that.”

“If he managed to accomplish this before the end of term, I promised to invite him to one of my family’s galas. They’re the place to be for social climbers, you see. He just couldn’t resist.”

“Really?” Harry asks, looking over at Tom. His boyfriend looks quite upset. Good, Harry thinks. He deserves to sweat a little. “That’s all? Honestly, Tom, I expected more from you.”

That shocks them.

Malfoy’s posture loses some of its confidence, so Harry takes the opportunity to shove him back out of his space. The would-be-bully takes a stumbling step back, too surprised to resist.

And Tom… Well, by the looks of it, Tom doesn’t quite know what to think.

“I mean, really,” he continues, “all this for one gala invite? Not even a private meeting?”

Finally, Tom finds his voice. “Well, I— That is.” He clears his throat. “You aren’t mad?”

“No,” Harry says, “I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed.”

“I don’t understand.”

Harry snorts. That, he thinks, is obvious. “For fuck's sake, Tom. My dad is on track to become Head Auror within the decade, and my godfather is the fucking Lord of House Black. If you were that desperate for connections, I could've helped you out.”

“Are you fucking serious?” Malfoy demands. His pale face is turning a remarkable shade of red over how badly his plan has backfired, and, wow, Harry had almost forgotten he was there. “I just told you that your boyfriend has been manipulating and using you this entire time, and all you have to say is that you’re disappointed ?”

“I don’t think he was using me the entire time,” Harry points out, just to be fair.

“He isn’t wrong, though,” Tom says, because apparently he’s an idiot who doesn’t know when to stop digging his own grave. “I was manipulating you.”

“Not very well,” Harry tells him.

Tom has the audacity to look offended. “I got you to go out with me,” he says, as if that’s some huge accomplishment.

“Uh, yeah. You got me to go out with you because you’re attractive, a good kisser, and you literally asked me on a date. That’s not manipulation, that’s… I don’t know. That’s just dating .”

Malfoy makes a strangled noise of frustration and storms off, apparently done with this whole conversation. Harry watches him go with a smirk of his own.

“So, you really aren’t mad?” Tom asks, as if he still can’t believe it.

Harry sighs.

“I’m really not mad.” He takes both of Tom’s hands in his own. “I mean, I kind of expected something like this was happening.”

In fact, it was one of the more popular theories in the betting pool the other Gryffindors set up a while back. Which he doesn’t know about, of course, because that’d be just awful.

That said, he can’t wait to tell Fred that he owes Ron ten galleons.

“Then why the hell would you agree to date me?” Tom asks.

He actually seems angry on Harry’s behalf. It’s adorable. “Uh, I’m pretty sure I already went over this.”

“But—"

“Look, if you really want to make it up to me, then be better.”

Tom takes a moment to think about it before asking, “Pardon?”

“Be. Better.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I think you do,” Harry says, “But I’ll spell it out for you anyway, because I like you. First, you need to keep up the whole 'upstanding citizen' act you've been putting on lately." Tom raises his brows—looking surprised, like he didn't expect Harry to notice—but doesn't interrupt. "Second, be polite to my friends, even when I’m not around. I know you’re not a nice person, generally, but we’re almost adults. Some fucking manners shouldn’t be too much to ask.”

“Alright,” Tom agrees easily, “What else?”

Harry pauses, considering. When he woke up this morning, he really didn’t foresee having to play morality chain for someone who might actually be a budding Dark Lord, if some of the rumors are to be believed. Even if he did foresee it, he wouldn’t have expected it to be this simple.

“I’m not entirely sure.”

“Well, if you think of anything, let me know.”

“Okay,” Harry says slowly, “I will.”

“Good.” Tom smiles at him, then, and Harry feels a blush spread across his cheeks. No one’s ever looked at him this way, as if he’s the most wonderful surprise they’ve ever been given. He doesn’t know what to do with it.

But maybe he doesn’t have to do anything except take it.

“So,” he says once the silence has lasted just long enough to be awkward, “now that that’s settled, do you wanna go make out?”

“Obviously,” Tom says, still smiling, “I know just the place.”