When Kageyama is chosen to be their Champion, Shouyou isn’t surprised.
He’s not surprised, because a part of him already knew that this would happen. It was an almost inevitable decision, really—Kageyama is the best in their year when it comes to spells and hexes, and Shouyou of all people knows how hard Kageyama works to be where he is now. He knows that just as magic comes easy to Kageyama, he still works twice as hard to get things right. He still tries every time he fails, gets back up again even when he stumbles. He works hard, constantly chasing perfection, because he wants to show the world that he deserves the crown he wears on his head. He deserves this more than anyone. No one else could be a better choice. He knows this.
Still, Shouyou can’t help the slight undercurrent of jealousy that sifts through his bones, buzzing in his stomach. It curls through his fingertips, an uneven beating of the heart, uncomfortable and stilted. He wanted it, too. He wanted to be chosen, to represent Hogwarts, just as much as Kageyama did. Shouyou counts quietly, one, two, three. He lets it pass, and doesn’t let it linger too long. Not too many good things come out of being jealous, and Shouyou knows better than that. Instead, he quickly promises himself to try harder, and finds comfort in the knowledge Kageyama’s never once doubted that Shouyou couldn’t catch up.
When Kageyama’s name is called, the boy in question looks at Shouyou, wide eyes and a surprised look on his face as cheers erupt all around him. Shouyou breaks out into a grin, claps his hands excitedly, and helps Kageyama get up from where he’s sitting.
Kageyama blinks at him, twice, before a little smile curls on his lips, pleased and proud. I win this time, too, he tells Shouyou through the fire that dances in his eyes. Shouyou nods, and watches as Kageyama makes his way to the front.
“That’s my best friend!” he yells, whooping. There’s a small chorus of let’s go, let’s go, Tobio! that rings from their table, and Shouyou cheers until the Headmaster calls for silence. Kageyama stands next to the other Champions, tall and proud. In the way candlelight hits his features, it’s almost as though stardust glints from his hair, from his skin, an ethereal boy from the heavens. A multitude of blue, where the sky meets the sea.
Shouyou can’t help but wonder what this means for them. They both put their names in the Goblet of Fire, raced each other to the room where it was kept, and dropped their names in the nearly reckless way only they could pull off. And yet, Kageyama stands at the front, and Shouyou sits to the side. Two steps forward, five steps back. Grow better, he tells himself, but he can’t help but sulk and be proud of Kageyama at the same time. They’ve always competed, the two of them, and it’s just simply how their dynamic goes. Wins, losses, and draws. Shouyou doesn’t remember when it began, but it’s been seven years since then, and he never really wants it to end.
(That is to say, he always wants to be by Kageyama’s side.)
Kageyama’s eyes find his amongst the crowd, and there’s the smallest shift in his expression—one most people wouldn’t have caught. But Shouyou is not most people, he never quite has been, and he hasn’t spent several years as Kageyama’s friend not to become an expert at deciphering every furrowed eyebrow, every quirked lip, every wrinkled nose. He knows the inflections of Kageyama’s voice like an old favorite song, knows what it looks like when Kageyama’s genuinely happy or when he’s feeling grumpy and just needs a hug. Shouyou likes to think he knows Kageyama Tobio pretty well, and this time is no exception.
And this—this is the look that tells him, I’ll be waiting, so catch up.
Shouyou doesn’t dare look away.
“I will,” he says to Kageyama later, as they sit across each other by the window, night stars spilling into their skin. Shouyou’s never been much for art or poetry, but he thinks Kageyama looks beautiful like this, moon dust on his cheeks and starlight in his fingers. “And then it’ll be my turn to win.”
“Dragons,” Shouyou says in lieu of a greeting one day, falling into step with Kageyama. Red robes swing in synchronization, like they have many times before this one. “It’s gonna be dragons.”
“What are you talking about?” Kageyama asks, raising an eyebrow. “And where’d you come from anyway? I was looking for you.” He frowns. “You missed the extra cupcakes Hufflepuff was giving out for dessert.”
“Frog choir practice, remember?” he says, and adjusts his bag strap on his shoulder. “I told you my schedule last week! I have it before dinner on Mondays and Thursdays, then—”
“—after dinner on Saturdays, yes, I remember now, thanks,” Kageyama finishes dryly with an eye roll. He’s just jealous that his own frog—an adorable toad named Milk—likes Shouyou better and lets Shouyou use him for frog choir. He’s a quite talented frog in Shouyou’s opinion. “What was that about dragons?”
“Oh! Yes, right,” Shouyou says, and he quickly tries to remember what he recently learned. He tugs at Kageyama’s hand, and pulls him to the side of the hallway. Then he stands on his toes and lowers his voice, leans close to Kageyama’s ear. “They’re the First Task. You’re going to be fighting a dragon.”
Kageyama’s eyes widen in surprise. “How do you know that?”
“Do you remember Bokuto-san?” he asks, and when Kageyama nods in confirmation, Shouyou keeps going. “He graduated in our fifth year, right? He wrote me a letter saying that he’s coming to visit Hogwarts for job-related reasons and the Triwizard Tournament. And you wanna know what his job is, Kageyama? You wanna know?”
He throws his hands in the air. “He works with dragons!” Shouyou exclaims, and Kageyama elbows him for being too loud.
“So you’re saying I have to fight a dragon?” Kageyama says, and Shouyou knows him well enough not to miss the uncertainty that lingers on the edge of his words. The way his eyes flicker nervously just for a second, possibly already thinking of a million ways to do things right.
“Something like that,” Shouyou says weakly. Dragons are cool, the absolute coolest, but they’re also extremely dangerous. He imagines Kageyama standing in the arena facing one, and in one clean swoop it bites his friend’s head off. He winces. “So what are you gonna do about it?”
Kageyama shrugs. “We’re allowed our wands, yeah?”
“I guess so,” he says. “It’d be pretty insane to make a bunch of kids fight against a dragon without magic.”
Just then, the gravity of it all hits him: people have died in this tournament. There are some things that’ll be inevitable, like injuries and bruises and scars. They’d been warned at the very start that the tournament was no easy thing, and there is no way of getting out of it unhurt at the very least. That they’d be hurtling towards unknown dangers, reaching for shadows and aiming for the unattainable. Shouyou thinks of Kageyama, and he knows that no matter how many spells you know, no matter how hard you practice, it can never be truly enough for the real thing.
He looks at Kageyama properly, wringing his hands together. His voice is shaky, softer, afraid. “This—this whole thing, Tobio, it’s—it’s dangerous. You could die, you realize that, right? It’s really, stupidly dangerous.”
And I’m afraid to lose you, he thinks, but swallows those words back down. He knows that Kageyama would never back out, would never give up just because he’s afraid—Shouyou knows this, because he wouldn’t either.
“I know,” Kageyama says, and he tries for a light smile, but there’s still fear in the way the curves bend. There is something delicate about his features, yet strong-willed all the same, cracked glass that’s been put together over and over again. Kageyama’s always been brave—he’s not in Gryffindor for nothing—but this is something neither of them have done before. And Kageyama will be facing all of it by himself.
(Shouyou once promised Kageyama in their second year that he’d never have to do anything alone again. He wants to keep that promise more than anything.)
“But then again, we’ve always been pretty good at stupid, haven’t we?” Shouyou says with a smile. You’re not alone in this, he wants to say. He takes Kageyama’s hand, and squeezes it in reassurance. “We’ll figure it out.”
Kageyama seems to have been a little reassured, and his features soften at the smile Shouyou gives him. It takes a moment, but his eyes shine and the determination kicks back in, the way Shouyou likes it.
“Yeah,” Kageyama says. “Now, come on, we still have History of Magic homework to do, and I haven’t been paying attention at all.”
Shouyou snorts. “And what makes you think I have?”
“I don’t,” he replies, and Shouyou laughs a little. “That’s why we’re going to Yachi to ask for help.”
“Lead the way, then,” Shouyou says. Together, they walk to the Common Room, and if Kageyama notices that they’re still holding hands, then he doesn’t say anything. Shouyou doesn’t complain either. Kageyama’s hand is nice in his, a bit cold and clammy, but still pretty nice. Fitting, somewhat, like it’s meant to be held with his own.
Maybe it is.
When Shouyou wakes up from a nap two days later, still a little bit disoriented and vision a bit blurry, he finds his head resting on Kageyama’s shoulder. Kageyama’s leaning his own head against Shouyou’s, snoring softly, still asleep and peaceful. He smiles, soft and fond, a gentle rise of the sun. Carefully, he takes Kageyama’s hand and brings their fingers together. They fit perfectly.
Just like they always have.
Shouyou thinks he might have a hummingbird heartbeat.
It feels as though his heart is threatening to jump out of his ribcage, an erratic beating he can’t contain, a staccato that never ends. His palms are sweaty and he’s incredibly nervous, and he almost feels like he’s going to throw up. But he doesn’t because he’s strong and he can do better, because bravery runs in his veins too, and because it’s not like he’s the one competing anyway.
He’s not competing, but Kageyama is. Somehow that makes it even worse.
“Kageyama?” Shouyou calls out. He’s standing outside the Champions’ tent fifteen minutes before the First Task starts, and the crowd is slowly growing restless as everyone waits for it to begin. He’s not sure where the dragons are being kept, but they’re somewhere nearby, and Shouyou really hopes that his best friend won’t die today. “Kageyama? Are you there?”
“Hinata?” a voice calls from the other side. “Dumbass, what are you doing? You’re not supposed to be here.”
“I just—” Hinata sucks in a breath, “—wanted to see how you were doing.”
“Oh,” comes Kageyama’s soft reply.
Shouyou shifts to his other foot awkwardly, unsure of what to say. “Yeah. So.”
“I’m—okay,” Kageyama says tentatively. “I think.”
“You remember the plan?” Shouyou asks him. They’ve spent the last few days coming up with a pretty decent strategy not to get Kageyama killed once he’s faced with a dragon, and it’s not that Shouyou isn’t confident that Kageyama can pull it off, because he knows he can, but it only lessens the anxiety slightly.
“Yeah,” Kageyama answers. “Kinda hard to forget, after you made me recite it, like, a million times.”
“It was not a million!” Shouyou exclaims.
“Oh, sorry, I meant a billion,” he retorts, and Shouyou rolls his eyes and tries to hold back a laugh. He hears Kageyama take a deep breath. “It’s going to be okay, you know. If that’s what you’re worried about. I’ll be fine.”
He can’t take it anymore. Shouyou pulls the tent curtain back and tackles Kageyama in a hug, throwing his arms around his neck. Kageyama stumbles back with the force of it before steadying both of them.
“Dumbass,” Kageyama mutters, but it’s fond and soft and genuine.
“You better come back,” Shouyou mumbles into Kageyama’s shoulder. He lets go, and looks at his friend properly, wiping a tear that had escaped. “You got that? You fight that dragon, you win, and you come back.”
Kageyama looks at him for a moment, and Shouyou knows that in that second there is no one else but the two of them. Kageyama is looking at him, and Shouyou prides himself in knowing Kageyama best, but this is a look he’s only seen a few times before. An unreadable expression with something Shouyou can’t quite place. He wonders what it means.
“I will,” Kageyama promises.
“Good.” A horn blows loudly across the stadium, signaling the beginning of the task. Shouyou looks at Kageyama again. “I’ll see you later, okay? And we’ll have pork curry with egg together.”
Kageyama smiles, and Shouyou thinks that the world is incredibly unfair, that he gets to see his best friend smile like that but is unable to keep it. How the sun burns when you’ve held it too long, how deep the ocean becomes when you’re running out of air. “Sounds good,” he says. “See you later, Shou.”
“Good luck,” he says with a smile, before heading outside of the tent. He joins Yachi and Yamaguchi at the stands, and holds his breath as the rules are explained and the Champions get called out one by one. This is where it starts. His hummingbird heartbeat begins to take flight.
A dragon roars, and the first challenge commences.
Kageyama wins the First Task by a landslide, racking up more points that any of the other Champions. He’s praised for his quick-thinking to summon his broom—everyone knows that Kageyama is one of the best fliers, the most remarkable Quidditch player Hogwarts has seen in a long time—and his advanced-level use of spells to defend himself and distract the dragon to retrieve the golden egg. He wins nearly without a single scratch on him: his robes are just slightly singed at the edges, and there’s a bruise on his arm from when he’d gotten thrown back by the dragon’s tail. But aside from that, he remains unharmed for the most part, something Shouyou is immensely thankful for.
(He’d been terrified the entire time Kageyama was fighting the dragon, to the point he wanted to jump in and help. He probably would have, too, if it wasn’t for Yachi, who held him back every time it seemed like he was going to. She was incredibly patient with him and his nerves, bless her soul.)
But even beyond the fear, it was amazing to watch Kageyama fight. Mesmerizing, even, to see how fluid his movements were, how quick and agile and unstoppable he was, casting spells at the right moments and going where he needed to be. Like the wind was whispering secrets in his ear, telling him what to do. A king on the battlefield, defense and offense rolled into one. He was phenomenal and magical, a tale unfolded, one to be told for the ages. For every reflex and every calculated movement, Shouyou couldn’t seem to look away.
It was beautiful.
Shouyou runs towards Kageyama the moment the results are announced and the task is over, hugging him again before jumping up and down, talking excitedly.
“You were so cool! You were all like PWAH, take that, dragon! And then swoooosh, you hit it right in the head! BAM! POW! Like it was nothing! Gwah, Kageyama, when did you get so cool?” Shouyou says rapidly, bouncing on his toes. He pokes at Kageyama’s arm incessantly.
“I’ve always been cool,” Kageyama grumbles, swatting Shouyou’s arm away. His cheeks are pink, flushed and bright, right to the tip of his ears. Shouyou secretly thinks it’s adorable. “You just never noticed.”
Shouyou rolls his eyes, but keeps grinning up at Kageyama anyway. “I’m glad you didn’t die,” he says, and it’s one part teasing and two parts genuine. “Probably would’ve sucked, seeing your head get bitten off by a dragon.”
Kageyama crosses his arms, looking away from Shouyou. There’s a faint trace of pink grows more on his cheeks when he says, “Well, I promised I’d come back, didn’t I? And here we are.”
Shouyou nods. “And here we are,” he repeats. He grabs Kageyama’s wrist, and starts tugging him towards the exit of the arena, where the other people are going. The afternoon light spills across them, streaked with triumph and charged with something more gentle. “Now I guess it’s my turn to fulfill my promise. Pork curry, here we come!”
Kageyama’s face lights up at the mention of his favorite food. “Really?” he asks, and it really is unfair, Shouyou thinks, that someone so grumpy and frowny all the time could look this cute sometimes. Completely unfair, that Kageyama is somehow everything Shouyou’s ever wanted.
(But he doesn’t want to think about that too much.)
“Yeah!” Shouyou exclaims, and he grins as wide as he can. He’s really happy, and he wants Kageyama to be happy too. “We gotta celebrate your win!”
Kageyama blushes again, at what exactly Shouyou isn’t sure, but he looks away, muttering something under his breath that Shouyou doesn’t quite catch.
“You okay?” he asks, a bit worriedly. Maybe he got hurt from the fight after all? “Your face is really red. Do you need to go to the nurse? The pork curry can wait.”
“It’s nothing,” Kageyama says, shaking his head. He still won’t look at Shouyou directly. “You were just—I think I was looking at the sun for too long.”
“Oh,” Shouyou says, and he peers up to the sky. “The sun already set earlier though?”
“Never mind,” Kageyama tells him. “Let’s just—let’s go eat the pork curry already.”
“Okay!” Shouyou says. He’ll drop the subject for now, and maybe Kageyama will feel better after dinner. He swings their hands together, and sneaks little glances at Kageyama as they walk. With the sunset as his background, pink and orange rolling into his skin, Shouyou thinks about how it’s even more unfair that Kageyama can look breathtakingly beautiful at any given moment. It makes Shouyou weak in the knees and also to sort of maybe makes him want to kiss Kageyama.
But he doesn’t think about that too much either.
There’s a little garden behind the greenhouse where students usually have Herbology lessons. It’s small, and has a few plants growing, colorful flowers of different sizes. It’s a bit easy to miss, a little covered by trees, with tiny pots lined up in neat rows. But to anyone who finds it, it’s clear that all the plants are well-taken care of. And if they looked even closer, they’d find that all the plants are of the non-magical sort. Each and every one of the flowers are from the Muggle world, grown carefully with love and without magic.
There’s a little garden behind the greenhouse, and it belongs to Hinata Shouyou.
Shouyou had taken a quick interest to Herbology back in their first year—plants with magic, Kageyama, that’s so cool!—and as much as it amazed him, he also missed the way they grew them back at home. As a present for his thirteenth birthday, Kageyama had begged their Herbology professor to let Shouyou start a small garden at the extra space behind the greenhouse. She agreed, as long as he took care of the plants. Shouyou had been ecstatic when Kageyama told him, and kissed him right on his cheek in his excitement.
(The red camellias he’s growing look an awful lot similar to the color of Kageyama’s face had been afterwards.)
Shouyou visits every now and then, when he’s feeling stressed from studying or when he’s missing home. It’s not much, he knows, but it gives him something to do. It reminds him of the eleven years he lived before coming to Hogwarts—unaware of magic and the bit of it that flowed through his veins. It’d been wonder, really, when he received his letter, the first wizard in the family, and it’s been amazing since then, but Shouyou only comes home two months a year now and there’s always something nostalgic about the days before all this. He misses when things were easier, when all he did was play with volleyball and help his mother in her garden. He misses it, but he also wouldn’t trade what he has now for anything.
(Sometimes, he thinks about where he would be if he was a Muggle. If he’d always think there was something missing, if he’d always wait for that Great Unknown to come find him. If he’d always feel as though he was standing at the edge of a storm, waiting for it to consume him. He thinks about never finding his love for Quidditch, or never meeting any of his friends. He thinks about the days he’d spend differently, with fire in his veins and a body unable to contain it. He thinks about never meeting Kageyama, never getting the chance to see him smile, and knows that these thoughts are not worth it.)
So he keeps the garden, to serve as a reminder that he has a home to come back to, just as much as he has a whole life ahead of him.
Kageyama even comes by to help him sometimes, even when he says he doesn’t like getting dirt on himself or looking at worms. Shouyou just laughs, because he knows Kageyama doesn’t really care about those things in the slightest and that insects have never bothered him all that much. He laughs, and shakes his head, because he knows Kageyama will be there if he asks him to come anyway.
Other times, he’s already there.
“Hey,” Kageyama says when Shouyou approaches. He’s standing by the sunflowers, the light streaming down on him, heaven sent and sunkissed. The golden boy of Hogwarts, king of the Quidditch field. “Figured you’d be here eventually.”
“Yeah?” Shouyou says, and he walks over to where Kageyama is. He picks up the watering can by the side and begins sprinkling some water on top of the nearby plants. When it runs out, he brings out his wand and fills the can up with more water. Kageyama had once told him that he could use his wand to directly spray water onto the plants, but Shouyou insisted on using the watering can because it felt less like cheating that way. “And why’s that?”
Kageyama snorts. “Because we’ve got a Transfiguration test tomorrow and you’re shit at it, so you’d rather be here than studying.”
Shouyou grins. “Aww,” he cooes, choosing to ignore the insult—though Kageyama’s right, Transfiguration has never been his strongest suit—and going for teasing instead. “You really do know me, Kageyama-kun.”
Kageyama swipes at his head and Shouyou ducks just in time, an easy reflex by now. “Dumbass,” he says. “Of course I do. It’s easy to know someone who’s only got one brain cell.”
Shouyou huffs, and crosses his arms. “At least I’m not failing Divination! A class where all you literally have to do is make stuff up.”
“It’s hard, okay? Shut up,” he grumbles. Kageyama glares at the sunflowers.
Shouyou laughs softly. “Yeah, okay, sure.” He puts the watering can down, and crouches to level with some of the flowers for closer inspection. “Why’re you here anyway?”
The tips of his ears turn pink. “Couldn’t figure out the egg,” he mumbles, eyes still on the flowers before him. “Tsukishima told me Durmstrang already figured it out.”
“Oh,” Shouyou says, and plops down onto the ground properly, rows of sunflowers before him. He pats the space next to him, and Kageyama sits down, sighing. “If I’m being honest, I think the egg should just mind its own business. What’s it think it’s doing, screaming off like that? It’s just rude.”
That actually earns a smile from Kageyama, and Shouyou really likes the way it looks on him. Even when it’s small, or half-hidden, as long as it’s not the scary kind, Shouyou likes Kageyama’s smiles.
He knows how much the Golden Egg has been troubling his best friend. The first time they’d opened the prize and clue from the First Task, it had released nothing but a high-pitched wailing sound, and Kageyama had been quick to close it off. They’re both still unsure of what it means, but they’ve still got time before the next task at least.
“We’ll figure it out,” Shouyou says, and he looks up to the sky, one hand coming up to shield his eyes from the brightness of the sun. “And there’s still the Yule Ball anyway. That’s plenty of time.”
Kageyama seems to stiffen at the mention of the ball. “Are you—” he says, a little strained. “Have you asked anyone yet? To the dance?”
Shouyou blinks at him. He didn’t think Kageyama would really care about that kind of thing. “Uh, no,” he answers. He scratches the back of his neck. “I haven’t really thought about it, actually.”
“Well, are you planning to?” Kageyama asks, and there’s something off about his voice, Shouyou knows. A little afraid, and a bit nervous. He’s only heard Kageyama sound like this a couple of times before. He’s not sure what it’s all for.
“I don’t—I don’t know,” Shouyou says, and his cheeks are getting warm. That in itself is not the complete truth. He had, for a brief second when they had been told that there would be a dance, thought about bringing a certain someone. But he had also thought, right up until this very moment, that that someone wouldn’t be interested, no matter their importance in the Tournament. Now, he’s not so sure. “Are you? I mean, I heard some girls asking about you, if that’s what you want to know.”
Kageyama looks at him, confused. “Why would I want to know that?”
Shouyou shrugs. “I don’t know, Bakageyama, I thought—I thought that maybe you wanted to ask one of them? They were interested.”
“But I’m not,” Kageyama says gruffly, crossing his arms.
“Never mind,” he says, pointedly looking away. His cheeks are red, and Shouyou doesn’t really understand what just happened. “Just—forget it.”
“Okay,” Shouyou says after a moment. But there’s an itch under his skin, to know what Kageyama had meant behind his words, to understand what he felt. He doesn’t want to let it go, not really, but he can’t ask that of Kageyama. Not when he himself doesn’t know the answers. “Hey, can you tell me about the time Milk got loose during Potions and almost fell into Yamaguchi’s cauldron?”
“What?” Kageyama asks, confused. Then his eyes soften at the realization, and he looks grateful for the topic change. “Idiot, you already know that story. You were there for it. Why the hell would you want me to tell it to you?”
He holds up a finger. “Because it’s funny,” he says, and he brings up another finger, “and because I like listening to the way you talk.”
Kageyama blushes again. Shouyou beams. Another win. “Dumbass, you can’t just say things like—like that,” he grumbles, but he doesn’t seem too opposed to the idea. He sighs, and Shouyou takes this as an opportunity to scoot closer to him, until their sides are pressed together.
“Go on,” he says.
Kageyama shakes his head in resignation. “Fine,” he says. “But you’re only allowed to laugh at me once.”
Kageyama leans, eyes to the sky as he recounts his story. Shouyou listens.
At frog choir practice, Shouyou hears some Ravenclaws gush over how cool and smart Kageyama Tobio is (this he scoffs at, because while Kageyama might be cool sometimes, especially when it comes to Defense Against the Dark Arts, he’s not exactly smart at his studies). They sigh dreamily, and Shouyou has half a mind to leave before one of the girls approach him with a smile.
“Hi! You’re Hinata-kun, right?” she says, and she’s pretty, he thinks, in an objective way, or in the kind that would have had left him starstruck if he was still eleven and young. “I’m sorry, but you’re friends with Kageyama-kun, and my friends and I were wondering if he’s taking anyone to the Yule Ball yet.”
“Um, no, I don’t think so,” Shouyou says. His stomach feels funny, and he doesn’t like any of this one bit. The girl’s words replay like pinpricks on his skin, tittering at the edges. He imagines Kageyama dancing with the girl at the ball, smiling, that same way he does when he thinks Shouyou isn’t looking. He thinks of all eyes on them, and suddenly there’s mistletoe, and they’re leaning in and—
He grabs his bag from the seat, picks up Milk carefully, and throws her what he hopes is a genuine enough smile. “Sorry, I have to go. I’ll be here for the next practice!”
Shouyou leaves, and swallows down any further thoughts about Kageyama Tobio. This easily isn’t the first time he’s been jealous of Kageyama, and it isn’t the first time that he’s been jealous of the idea of Kageyama with a girl. Shouyou’s not a genius, but he’s not that dense. He knows why he’s like this, why such thoughts never sit with him well. He knows why, and such matters of fancying Kageyama Tobio really shouldn’t be so bothersome. Still, it never gets easier to deal with. He sighs.
Maybe he’ll just head to the Common Room and sleep, homework be damned.
They’re on their way to Care of Magical Creatures when Kageyama’s pulled aside by Professor Takeda, and they’ve still got a couple of minutes before class starts, so Shouyou tells him that he’ll wait for him. He knows Kageyama wouldn’t want to miss this class anyway, because it’s his favorite one even if not all the animals like him. It’s sort of really cute, the way he lights up when a hippogriff lets him pet it, or when a unicorn doesn’t shy away from him. Shouyou thinks it’s worth it.
Kageyama comes back moments later, frowning and looking a bit disgruntled. He takes one look at Shouyou and his expression turns all pinched, like he’s trying to figure something out. For a moment, he wonders if Kageyama wants to fight, and raises his arms up instinctively.
Kageyama raises an eyebrow. “I’m not angry,” he says, and Shouyou relaxes, stepping closer to him.
“What was all that about then?” he asks. They begin their walk outside the castle grounds, and a few other students are walking along with them. “You didn’t lose any House points, did you? Oh man, we already lost so many last week after we got caught sneaking out into the kitchens—”
“No,” Kageyama answers. “It was about—the Yule Ball. He told me I needed to find a date, since the Champions usually do the opening dance with their partners.” He turns to Shouyou, slightly panicked. “What am I supposed to do? I can’t dance, and I sure as hell can’t find a date.”
Shouyou sucks in a deep breath. “What about me then?”
Kageyama looks at him, eyes widening. “What about you?”
He shrugs. Play it cool, he tells himself. “I don’t have a date yet, either. I dunno, maybe we could just go together?”
“Go…together?” Kageyama repeats slowly.
“Yeah,” Shouyou says quite nervously, and he knows that his face is completely red, he’s absolutely mortified. “I mean! As friends! We don’t have to—we don’t need to be—we could just—gah, never mind! Forget it, this was stupid, pretend I didn’t—”
“No!” Kageyama exclaims, surprising Shouyou. He flushes, and his eyes fall to the ground. “Don’t…don’t take it back. It’s okay with me, I mean. We could go together, if that’s what you want.”
“Oh,” Shouyou says. He dares to be hopeful. “Really?”
Kageyama nods. “Really.”
He tries not to show that his heart is bursting in his chest. “Cool,” Shouyou says, grinning. “That’s really great.”
He thinks about the girls from his choir practice. Ha! he wants to say to them. Take that!
Okay, that’s a little mean. But still, Shouyou won.
Kageyama scoffs, but there’s a smile hidden beneath it. “You won’t be saying that at the dance practices.”
“There are dance practices?”
He rolls his eyes. “Obviously. We’ll be the opening dance, remember? There’s, like, choreography and everything. That’s what Takeda-sensei wanted to say. Practices are every Wednesday starting today.”
Shouyou sighs. He’d been planning to visit his garden later. “Fine. But you better not step on my toes, Bakageyama.”
“ You’re more clumsy than I am!”
He sticks his tongue out. “That’s not true!”
“Whoever steps on the other’s feet more has to buy pork buns for a whole week!” Kageyama challenges, and there it is—that look he wears whenever he gets competitive, eyes shiny with pride and determination. Shouyou loves it.
“You’re on,” he says. And secretly, he thinks to himself, that he wouldn’t mind losing this bet after all. He’ll never admit it to Kageyama, but spending time with him is one of his favorite things to do. That, and playing Quidditch.
Kageyama grins at him, and Shouyou knows he’s already won by a longshot.
“So,” Yachi says, falling into pace next to him, and the tone of her voice tells Shouyou he’s in for it now. “Kageyama told me you’re his date to the Yule Ball.”
Shouyou blushes instantly. “Uh, yeah, we’re going together.”
“Oh, really?” she says teasingly, bumping her shoulder against his. “I’m happy for you.”
“Thanks,” he mumbles. He’s happy, too, even though the dance practices are as terrible as he imagined. He’s losing the bet, but he doesn’t mind that much.
“Have you—” Yachi starts to say, but Shouyou shakes his head. “Oh. Well, are you ever going to?”
Shouyou shrugs. “I don’t know. I mean, maybe at the end of the year? I don’t want to risk anything.”
“You won’t be,” Yachi says. With a smile, she takes his hand and squeezes it gently before letting go. “Trust me on this. You’ve always been good at taking chances, Hinata. Why should this time be any different?”
“Because it’s Kageyama,” he says, sighing, the answer right on the tip of his tongue. “Because he’s my best friend, and I don’t want to mess that up. Seven years, Yachi. We’ve been together for seven years. I don’t want to lose any of that to a bunch of feelings.”
Because it’s Kageyama, and it had taken Shouyou a while to get him to open up and let Shouyou in the first time around. Because it’s Kageyama, and Shouyou’s happiest when he’s around and he wouldn’t trade what they have right now for the world. Because it’s Kageyama, and even with kingdoms rising and falling around them, Shouyou would still try to find him amidst the rubble. Because it’s Kageyama, and distance never really matters when he’s around, sky or land, magic or not, Shouyou will still want to be with him.
Because it’s Kageyama, and Shouyou is afraid to ask for something more.
“Then just try, okay?” Yachi asks quietly. “It doesn’t have to be now, or tomorrow, or the day after that. Just—when you’re ready, I’ll be here when you need me.”
“Thanks,” he says, and knows that he is eternally grateful for the likes of Yachi Hitoka, in more ways than one. Back in their fourth year, when he and Kageyama had fought, she was the one who helped them come back together, patient and understanding despite both of their stupidity. They’ve all grown a lot since then—Yachi most of all, and she is the best of them, and he knows it.
“Keep it in mind, okay?” she says. “He wouldn’t have agreed to go with you to the dance if he completely hated the idea of being together.”
Shouyou nods. “I will,” he promises, and means it.
When he meets up with Kageyama a little later, he thinks about what he’ll say if he ever does tell him. He thinks about what Kageyama will look like, confused and surprised, and he indulges himself by thinking that after a moment Kageyama will smile at him—that same one that makes him go weak in the knees—and nod, understanding exactly what he’s trying to say. He imagines Kageyama feeling the same way, and lets himself dare to hope that this might be what lies ahead for him. He lets himself have this dream, just for a bit longer.
It’s half-past midnight, and Shouyou is desperately trying to study for his Potions exam, clinging onto whatever remnants of hope he may have. He’s sitting on one of the couches in the Common Room, the crackle of the fire before him. His textbook is laid open on his lap, and Volleyball is purring quietly by his side.
(She’d been a gift from his parents when he was twelve, and he named her after his favorite Muggle sport. She’s one of the few animals that do get along with Kageyama, and while Kageyama never wants to admit it, Shouyou knows that he’s rather fond of her.)
He yawns, and strokes Volleyball’s fur, eyes blinking sleepily. He knows he’s a lost cause when it comes to Potions, but the NEWTs will be coming up soon, and he owes it to Yachi to at least try, after all the years she’d helped him study. So he keeps reading, though nothing really sticks, passage after passage. The words are beginning to blend together, but Shouyou’s also quite stubborn when he wants to be. He’s going to make it all make sense or die trying.
“Hey, Tobio, do you know what wormwood is?” Shouyou asks with another yawn. He turns his head to look at where Kageyama is. “Oi, Kageyama, did you hear me—oh.”
Kageyama is fast asleep from where he’s slouched on the couch, his own textbook before him. Firelight dances on his porcelain skin, cracked glass put together over and over again, soft oranges and yellow blending together to create a makeshift sunset. A fireplace phenomenon on the skin of a boy who has battled a dragon and lived to tell the tale. Like this, with only silence to hold distance over them, Shouyou can count the light sprinkle of freckles on his arms, can trace the way his hair falls in his face. He listens to the even breathing, the steady pace in between heartbeats. Shouyou can almost hear him dreaming. He sighs.
Yachi had told him to try.
“I like you,” he whispers quietly, and knows he’s safe by the way Kageyama’s snoring, dead to the world. “I really, really like you. So much, that it makes it kinda hard to breathe sometimes.”
Shouyou smiles sadly. “But I’m never gonna tell you that, am I?” He reaches over to brush some of Kageyama’s hair out of his eyes. “Because I don’t want you to go away. I don’t want to lose you.”
He leans back on his seat. Volleyball purrs, curling under his fingers. “Stupid, right?”
Shouyou turns back to his textbook. He knows it’s nearly pointless at this rate, but it’s much better than spending the early hours of morning yearning for a boy with blue eyes. At least this way he might actually have a fighting chance at passing Potions. Shouyou sighs. It’s a little hard, being in love with your best friend.
And as he reads, the fire keeps burning, the stars keep twinkling, and Kageyama keeps sleeping. The world keeps its balance. Shouyou keeps his distance.
Kageyama’s acting funny.
He’s being weird, and it’s sort of reasonable and Shouyou can understand it just a bit, because the Yule Ball is tonight and they’re both getting ready. But still—there’s something off about him. More nervous and on the wrong side of jittery, expression pinched with a deep frown.
Shouyou still thinks he looks beautiful, though. Unfairly beautiful—especially in a suit.
“You’re doing it wrong,” Shouyou says, eyeing the way Kageyama’s been trying to fix his tie for the last twenty minutes. He’d just finished doing his own—a deep blue one to match the orange one Kageyama’s wearing. He walks over to where his best friend is, and loosens Kageyama’s grip over the cloth. “Here, let me.”
Shouyou has to raise his arms a bit to reach the tie, and he begins to fold it carefully. It’s really not that hard, once you’ve gotten a lot of practice. “Your hands kept shaking,” he states, and he peeks upward to glance at Kageyama, who’s pointedly looking away, a faint blush beginning to blossom on his skin. “Why’re you so nervous anyway? It’ll be fine. It’s just a dance.”
“I know that,” Kageyama grumbles. “I’m not—I’m not nervous about the dance. I don’t care about that.”
“Oh,” Shouyou says. He stands a bit on his toes to adjust Kageyama’s tie a bit better. “Then you should be fine, right? And even if you do get nervous, I’ll be right with you. I’m your date, remember?”
“Exactly,” he mumbles, so quiet that Shouyou almost misses it.
He shakes his head, face lowered, and it’s only then that Shouyou notices how close their faces are. He blushes, swallowing thickly. His heartbeat’s getting louder, and his lungs feel like they’re about to burst with the proximity. He can see every faint freckle, every shadow caused by an eyelash on Kageyama’s face. Oh, he’s really done it now, hasn’t he? Kageyama’s right there, and Shouyou could kiss him easily if he wanted to. And there is no doubt in him that he wants to—but would Kageyama?
“There,” he croaks out, hoping his voice doesn’t betray him. He pats the tie gently. “All finished.”
“Thanks,” Kageyama says. It could be just the lighting, but Shouyou swears that he’s a bit pink in the face too. “Ready to go?”
Shouyou nods. “Yeah. Let’s go.”
They walk down to the Great Hall, and Shouyou is immediately entranced with all the decorations. It’s completely transformed—light blue streamers and magic snow falls from the ceiling, soft music is playing, and everyone is dressed beautifully. He spots Yachi in the crowd and waves to her, and even Tsukishima is there, Yamaguchi by his side.
The dance is right about to start, so he and Kageyama get pulled into a line with the other Champions and their dates. Just as the doors open for them to walk in, Shouyou glances at Kageyama. He looks a lot calmer now, and there are no signs of nervousness, like he’d never been worried about anything before. Calmgeyama, he thinks to himself, and smiles a little. Kageyama’s always been brave, anyway.
The doors open, and suddenly a thousand eyes are on them.
It seems that all of Kageyama’s nerves have transferred to Shouyou, because now his heart is racing and his palms are sweating, and oh my god, why did he ever think this was a good idea? He can’t dance, not for the life of him, and the practices had only helped him be able to stay upright at the very least. He’s doomed.
They walk up to their positions. Shouyou tries not to die.
Kageyama places a hand on his waist, and joins their hands together with the other. Shouyou places one of his hands on Kageyama’s shoulder, trying to will them not to shake.
The music begins to play, a nice, soft ballad, but all he can hear is the thumping of his own heartbeat, fast and quick, a crescendo in the making. Oh, he’s so nervous. Kageyama is gonna kill him if he messes up.
“Oi, dumbass, are you okay?” Kageyama says under his breath, eyebrows knit in concentration as they sway in sync. “You’re, uh, you’re really tense.”
Shouyou hadn’t realized he was holding onto Kageyama’s shoulder too tightly. He relaxes his grip, and stretches out his fingers. “Oh. Sorry.” He keeps his eyes trained on his feet, trying to remember all the steps as he goes along.
“You’re nervous,” Kageyama says flatly, almost accusingly, and Shouyou winces at the truth of it. He hears Kageyama sigh, and Shouyou knows that he’s rolling his eyes at him. “Weren’t you the one who said that everything would be fine?”
“Well, yeah,” Shouyou admits hesitantly. He almost steps on Kageyama’s foot, and breathes out a sigh of relief when he doesn’t. So far, so good. “But that was before all of this.”
“Before all of what?”
“Kageyama,” Shouyou says, voice small. “Everyone’s looking at us.”
“Then just look at me.”
Shouyou’s eyes snap upwards to meet Kageyama’s just then, and he’s hit with a full force of intensity that catches him off guard, causing him to miss a step. But he doesn’t look away, not for a single second, because then he might miss what Kageyama’s trying to say. The silent reassurance of being there, just as they’d promised each other time and time again. He doesn’t look away, because he doesn’t know if he can, and he knows he doesn’t want to. It grounds him, keeps him steady on his feet, and Shouyou learns to count his heartbeats again.
“Keep your eyes on me,” Kageyama says, voice low, and it sends tingles up Shouyou’s spine. “Just look at me, okay? One, two, three. Easy, right? Don’t think about them. I’m here.”
Shouyou nods. People have already begun to join in, couples swaying nearby, and he relaxes as time goes by. Kageyama doesn’t look away, either, and there’s something there, Shouyou knows, but he doesn’t understand it. A look that Kageyama gets sometimes, like when they’d been walking back together after the First Task, or when Shouyou had offered to go the ball together. A look that had come when Shouyou had stood close to help him with his tie; a look that remains constant even until now, even as the song ends and their hands break contact. A look that Shouyou wants to be able to understand.
“Thanks,” he says gratefully with a smile. They’d done the whole dance without too many mistakes, and Shouyou couldn’t be prouder. Before he can think too much of it, he stands on his toes to press a light kiss on Kageyama’s cheek. It makes him dizzy. “ Ahh, now that it’s over, let’s go eat! I’m starving.”
He grabs Kageyama’s wrist and drags him to the food tables. Kageyama still looks a little dazed as Shouyou hands him a plate, and he’s unable to stop the smile that creeps up on his face at the sight of it.
Maybe tonight won’t be so bad after all.
That night, Shouyou dances with Kageyama three more times, spinning and laughing and grinning the whole way through. They even get caught under mistletoe (Shouyou has a feeling it’s Yachi’s doing), and it must be some sort of payback for earlier, because Kageyama presses a kiss to his forehead, and it has Shouyou feeling stupid with love. He dances with Yachi and Yamaguchi, too, and eats more cream puffs than he probably should. With the lights sparkling down on them, and Kageyama by his side all night, Shouyou doesn’t know what else could ask for. It’s the most fun he’s had in a long while, and Shouyou knows he’ll keep the night with him for the rest of his days to come.
Shouyou’s in the garden when Kageyama finds him, humming under his breath and tending after his flowers. He wipes the sweat off his forehead when he sees Kageyama approaching, hair wet and looking a bit frazzled and out of breath. He’s got the Golden Egg tucked under his arm, shiny and bright as ever.
He looks at Kageyama curiously. “Did you fall into the lake or something?”
Kageyama doesn’t say anything, just approaches Shouyou with a little more vigor. He holds the egg out with both arms when he’s near enough, and Shouyou raises an eyebrow in question.
“It sings,” Kageyama breathes out, cheeks flushed. “It sings, Hinata! And—and it said something! It was a clue about something underwater, and—I don’t know what it means, but it said something. I think—” he says, pausing for a moment. “Mermaids. I think it might be mermaids. Or sirens. Whichever it is. Just—mermaids.”
Shouyou blinks, taken aback. He’s always known Kageyama can be a bit weird sometimes, but it’s not like him to start spouting nonsense. Sometimes when he’s nervous, he’ll ramble a bit, and through time Shouyou’s learned how to find the meaning behind each stutter and each fragment. He knows that sometimes Kageyama has a hard time expressing what he’s feeling, and that words have never been truly his to keep and hold, but he also knows that all Kageyama really needs is a bit of time to get there. And he’ll get there, eventually, and Shouyou’s will always be there waiting when he does.
Plus, he doubts that Kageyama would be anything less than serious if it came to the Tournament.
“Mermaids,” Shouyou repeats slowly. Kageyama nods, almost frantic. “What about mermaids exactly?”
“They’re the Second Task, I think,” Kageyama says, and slowly he begins to understand.
“Oh,” he says, because while dragons are one thing, mermaids are another thing completely. “What else did the egg say? Or sing? Wait—how did you get it to sing?”
“You put it underwater,” Kageyama explains, shrugging. “Tsukishima told me to do it. Don’t know how he knew, but it worked.”
“Okay,” Shouyou tells him. He doesn’t completely understand how that works, or how Tsukishima of all people knew it would work, but he’s not one to complain. “Okay. That’s cool. Yup. What did the egg say?”
“Recover…” Kageyama trails, and his eyebrows knit together in concentration. He shifts the egg in his hands. Then he snaps his fingers in a moment of clarity, saying, “An hour long you’ll have to look,” he says, words half-stilted, “to recover what we took.” He looks at Shouyou. “They’re going to take something from me, and I’ll have to get it back.”
He nods. “And this’ll probably be an underwater challenge, won’t it? Since they’re mermaids.”
“Yeah,” Kageyama says. He plops down on one of the small chairs Shouyou keeps in the garden when he’s planting and buries his head in his hands. “An hour. I have an hour to find whatever the hell it is, and I don’t know even know how to swim.”
Shouyou holds back a laugh. He remembers a summer a few years back, when he’d invited Kageyama to come to the beach. It had been completely amusing and entertaining to find out that the great Kageyama Tobio didn’t know how to swim, and Shouyou spent a good two hours trying to teach him the basics. He’d even gotten to bury most of Kageyama’s body in the sand.
Shouyou sits down next to him. “That’s not true,” he says. “You know how to float.”
Kageyama snorts. “Like that’ll do me any good,” he retorts, but when he lifts his head, Shouyou finds a ghost of a smile on his lips. “There’s always the Bubble Charm, but I don’t know if I can hold it up for long. You don’t happen to have a way to help me breathe underwater for a whole hour, do you?”
He shakes his head. “No, I—” he pauses, and in an instant he remembers something he’d read from their Herbology textbook. “Gillyweed!” he exclaims.
“Gillyweed,” Shouyou says again, and his face lights up. “It’s—it’ll help you. You just need to eat it—”
“—and then you’ll get gills and stuff. You’ll be able to swim faster, too, I think. It’s kinda gross, but it’ll work!” Shouyou tells him, grinning. “I could probably write a letter to Suga-san to ask him for some. He works at the Herbology Department now, right?”
Kageyama looks a bit overwhelmed, so Shouyou stays quiet for a while as he processes things. He nods his head after a moment in agreement. “You’re sure that it’ll work?” he asks.
“Yes,” Shouyou says. “I’ve—I’ve never tried it, obviously, but I think it’s proven to be effective. People eat it when they go diving for treasure because the pressure usually pops their Bubble Charms.”
There are still faint traces of uncertainty that linger in the tightness of Kageyama’s lips pressing together, and Shouyou may not ever be able to completely understand what it means to face off dragons or mermaids, but he is still Kageyama’s best friend. And things like this, things that challenge them and scare them, they have never been a matter of trust. He knows Kageyama believes him when he’s talking about how it just might work, and he knows that Kageyama trusts him enough to actually follow through with the plan. It’s never been about trust or the lack of it—because they’ve always had too much of it to begin with. From day one, they’ve had a blind faith that the other would always be around, to ground them when the flames reach them. There’s always been trust, never too little of it, and always something to fall back on. Shouyou takes Kageyama’s hand and squeezes it gently.
With a soft smile, he says, “Hey, it’ll be fine. We’ve been through worse. Remember that troll in our first year? Can anything be more terrifying than that?” Kageyama shakes his head, and Shouyou shudders at the memory. “And no matter how ridiculously scary things are or how insane things get, I’ll still be here with you, so you don’t need to be afraid. We’re invincible.”
Kageyama smiles, small but grateful. He leans against Shouyou, and places his head on his shoulder. He suspects that it must be uncomfortable with the angle and their height difference, but Kageyama doesn’t move away. He doesn’t want to either.
Shouyou stares at the garden ahead of them, at the camellias and tulips, roses and hyacinths. He thinks of when he began the garden, with nothing but a little potted sunflower, new and young and with a lot to give. Now he’s got rows and rows of them, different arrangements for almost a lifetime’s collection. If he concentrates, he can remember planting each and every flower here, recall all the names he gave them. They’re all special in their own way, for a different time and a different feeling. Kageyama’s even planted some of them on his own.
Then he thinks about that, too. How Kageyama’s the reason he has a garden in the first place, or how Kageyama comes with him sometimes just to watch him plant. He thinks about how Kageyama swears he doesn’t care much for flowers, but hangs around of his own free will as long as Shouyou’s there. How it wouldn’t be the same without him around.
“Hey, Kageyama,” Shouyou says quietly.
“Do you remember when the garden was just starting out? You know, I didn’t really expect you to help around or anything. But you did, and you still do,” he tells Kageyama. His fingers play with blades of grass on the ground. “Why is that?”
“Why’s what?” He lifts his head off Shouyou’s shoulder to look at him properly.
“Why do you take care of the flowers even when you say you don’t like them?”
“Oh,” Kageyama says, and he lets out a breath of air. “That’s easy.”
Shouyou looks at him. “Why?”
Kageyama smiles a bit, and it’s enough to warm Shouyou’s heart. He shrugs, an air of casualness around him, shoulders loose. “Because they’re your flowers and you like them,” he answers. “And I like you.”
Shouyou’s eyes widen in surprise. He throws his arms around Kageyama’s neck and hugs him tightly. They tumble to the ground at the force of it, and Shouyou laughs, using his arms to prop himself back up. “Thank you,” he says, grinning. “Ah, Tobio, you know you really should be nice more often. To me, especially.”
“Dumbass,” Kageyama says as he sits up. “When have I ever not been nice to you? I gave you this whole garden, didn’t I?”
Shouyou sticks his tongue out. He can’t really argue with that, can he? Not when Kageyama’s right and he’s still grateful for it. “Fine,” he says. He places both hands on Kageyama’s cheeks to pinch them, holding on even when Kageyama tries to pull away. He laughs again when he sees how red Kageyama’s face is getting. Kageyama glows like the setting sun, pretty and beautiful and one of the most real things in the world. “I guess you win this one, too.”
He lets go and leans on Kageyama’s side, his back against Kageyama’s left. He sighs, and closes his eyes. This is nice. It’s nice being here, with Kageyama, where he gets to pretend everything’s okay, if only for a little while. He’d like to stay here a bit longer if he could, and then he’ll sort out everything else that comes after later.
I like you, Kageyama said, and though Shouyou knows he doesn’t mean it that way, he keeps the three words with him in his heart anyway. I like you, I like you, I like you.
And for a moment, Shouyou lets himself believe it.
The night before the Second Task, he and Kageyama are drinking firewhiskey in their room. They shouldn’t be, not really, but Shouyou was getting nervous about tomorrow and brought out the bottle he’d smuggled in from their last Hogsmeade visit. Now they’re on his bed, taking turns sipping from the bottle, and Shouyou feels dizzy, just the slightest bit disoriented, but incredibly alive.
“Just—volleyball, you know? Not my cat, but the sport,” Shouyou says, and his words might be a little slurred, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s just the two of them together tonight, since Yamaguchi gets to stay in the Head Boy room, and Tsukishima usually spends his nights there too. “‘s a good sport. Probably would’ve played it a lot if I was a Muggle.”
Kageyama snorts, rolling his eyes. His cheeks are flushed, and his hair is messy, but Shouyou finds it to be strangely endearing, that Kageyama looks windswept. “Didn’t you say before that—that you had to be tall to play?”
He adjusts his position on the bed, fluffing up his pillow, and takes the firewhiskey from Kageyama’s hand to take another gulp. It burns down his lungs, but he loves it. “I can jump really high!” he exclaims, and he holds up an arm to the sky. “Like—like flying! Except no…no…what do you call those things again? The flying sticks? Buh—buh—brooms! There! I’d be the ace!”
Kageyama furrows his eyebrows, and Shouyou thinks that he settles in quite nicely by his side, warm and shoulders pressed together. “Then I’d be—I’d be the…the…” he trails, voicing edging quieter with thought. “What’s the coolest position? I’d be that one, obviously.”
Shouyou takes another sip. “No, no, no, no. Ace is definitely the coolest, but that one’s…that one’s mine already, okay? You can’t have it,” he says. “You could be my partner instead! A setter!”
“A setter? What the hell is that?” Kageyama asks, and his face scrunches up in confusion, and Shouyou finds himself hyperfixated on the crinkles of his eyes.
He laughs at the way Kageyama looks, light and full of air, and he knows he’s not really thinking straight anymore because suddenly all he really wants is to pull Kageyama closer. “They toss the ball!” he says. “And they make sure that it gets to the spiker! They…they control the game, you know? Like kings!”
Kageyama nods, and he looks convinced, adorably so, like he’s thinking really hard about it, like this is something that’ll change their lives, cheeks flushed under the moonlight. “Okay, I’ll be your setter.”
And Shouyou’s not entirely sure what it is exactly about those words that make his heart warm, and maybe it’s the firewhiskey in his belly, but there are somersaults within him, hummingbird heartbeat and all. He snakes an arm around Kageyama’s holding up their hands. He places his palm against Kageyama’s, and holds it up to the light.
“See? We’ll be partners,” he says.
“Your hands are so small,” Kageyama murmurs, and Shouyou’s mind wanders to how it fits perfectly with Kageyama’s that way, how maybe they were meant for each other after all. “How the hell are you…how are you supposed to hit the ball with that?”
He knows he should be insulted, or just the slightest bit angry, but Shouyou just laughs, loud and bright, bubbling right out of him. Kageyama laughs, too, and it still stands to this day that he wants to hear it forever, and Shouyou holds a hand to his stomach as he wheezes. It’s not even that funny, but his muddled brain seems to think so, and everything feels electric and light all at once.
“Just watch, Kage—Kageya—Tobio!” he exclaims. “This—this summer, I’ll teach you how to play volleyball! And then we’ll be the best Quidditch and volleyball players ever!”
It’s ambitious and he knows it, the unlikelihood is greater than anything else, but there’s a fire in his veins and he’s never been surer of anything else. He knows it’s a bold statement, a declaration founded on zero experience and alcohol-induced decisions, but it’s what he wants, and Kageyama doesn’t seem to mind in the slightest.
“This summer, huh?” Kageyama says, and his voice is a little quieter now, a little softer. “Our last summer before…before everything changes.”
Shouyou looks at him. Kageyama’s hair is a mess and his cheeks are pink, his shirt rumpled and his eyes a bit dazed, wide with a hidden fire brimming in between, with that same look of something Shouyou can never pick up on. He’s the most beautiful thing Shouyou’s ever seen.
“Not everything’s gonna change,” Shouyou says, and he rests his head on Kageyama, his words slurring a bit. Finally, he intertwines their fingers. “I’m still gonna be with you until the end. Don’t think you could get rid of me that easily.”
Kageyama doesn’t say anything, and the sleepiness is beginning to kick in, and he feels his eyes droop.
“To the world, right?” Shouyou mumbles, letting the exhaustion win. The last thing he sees before he closes his eyes is the look on Kageyama’s face, inexplicably fond and soft, a small smile resting on his lips.
“Yeah,” Kageyama says back, and Shouyou’s not entirely sure, but he thinks he feels lips brush against his forehead. “To the world.”
He’s rushing to get to the lake before the Second Task starts when someone calls his name, because he has to see Kageyama before it begins, to wish him luck and tell him that they’re gonna have pork curry again if he wins. He stops in the middle of the hallway and turns around to see Professor Takeda.
“Ah, Hinata-kun, sorry to bother you, but would mind coming with me for a moment?” he asks with a smile. “There’s something I need to talk to you about.”
“Oh, sure, but—uh, not to sound rude, but task is going to start soon, and I really need to see Kageyama before it does,” Shouyou says, just on the verge of impatience. He feels a little guilty because Takeda has always been nice, but he really wants to see Kageyama.
“Don’t worry, this won’t take long,” Takeda says, and Shouyou nods his head. The professor begins to walk down the hallway in the opposite direction, and he doesn’t have any other choice but to follow.
Shouyou doesn’t get to see Kageyama before the Task starts.
The next time Shouyou opens his eyes, it’s when he breaks through the surface of the water, freezing to his very bones. Blinking rapidly, he finds that Kageyama’s next to him, trying very hard to stay afloat with one arm wrapped around Shouyou.
“Kageyama,” he breathes out, and he kicks his legs as they both try to make it back to the shore. “What—”
“Tell you later,” Kageyama grunts, and he looks worried and concerned. “Now come on, I still don’t know how to swim and we could both drown any second.”
He manages a smile at that, and helps Kageyama swim. When they make it back, they’re immediately given some towels. There are people cheering everywhere, crowding them, and Shouyou’s overwhelmed with all the commotion. Amidst the chaos, his hand finds Kageyama so they don’t lose each other, and Shouyou wraps the towel around him closer.
Yachi comes running towards them, holding even more towels in her arms. “Are you guys okay?” she asks worriedly. “It looked really cold.”
“‘m good,” Shouyou says and he flashes her a thumbs up. His teeth are chattering a bit, and his legs feel quite numb, but that doesn’t really matter. His hand does feel a lot colder without Kageyama’s to hold, though.
“Kageyama, you were amazing out there!” she says, and Kageyama smiles a bit at the compliment. “I was so scared, I thought that you would run out of air or something.”
“The gillyweed worked then?” Shouyou asks, and Kageyama nods.
“And Kageyama Tobio takes second place!” someone announces loudly. “He saved Hinata Shouyou, a fellow Gryffindor, and received bonus points for his clever use of gillyweed!”
“Second place?” Shouyou exclaims loudly. “Kageyama—that’s amazing! Congratulations! You did it! See! I bet you—wait. What do they mean by you saved me?”
“Oh,” Kageyama says, and the cold must be really getting to him, Shouyou thinks, because Kageyama turns bright red. He turns away, refusing to meet Shouyou’s eyes. “They just—chose people for the Champions to save.”
“Not just any people, though,” Yachi quips, grinning cheekily. “The people the Champions would miss the most.”
“Yachi,” Kageyama hisses, blushing even further, but she doesn’t look the slightest bit apologetic.
“Oh,” Shouyou says, and he feels his cheeks warm. “Oh.”
“Yeah,” Kageyama mutters. Yachi excuses herself just then, slipping away into the crowd. Shouyou knows it’s intentional, and swears to get her back one day.
“I’m the person you’d miss the most?” Shouyou asks, quietly, careful not to break the fragility of the air around them.
Kageyama keeps glaring at the ground, unmoving, so he takes a step further. Kageyama seems pretty insistent on not looking at him, so Shouyou takes his hand again, watching for the slightest change in Kageyama’s expression. The small downward tug of the lips, eyes trained and focused on a single point, the crease between his eyebrows. One hand holding onto a towel, the droplets of stardust in his hair, a sharp clenched jawline. A sunset painted on his cheeks, an unwanted longevity.
“Tobio,” Shouyou says, and he smiles, soft and fond and warm because he thinks like he’s going to burst with the feeling of being absolutely smitten. “You’re the person I’d miss the most, too, you idiot.”
That catches Kageyama’s attention, and he looks at Shouyou with wide, surprised eyes. Adorable, he thinks.
“So really, there’s no need to be embarrassed about it,” he tells Kageyama, grin easy. “I mean, we’re best friends, aren’t we? I think I’d be offended if you didn’t miss me.”
“Dumbass,” Kageyama says, and his other hand reaches out for Shouyou’s hair, ruffling it. Shouyou squawks, but he’s stopped putting up the front that he didn’t like the feeling of being touched by Kageyama a long time ago. “It’d be pretty hard to not notice if you were gone. Everything would be so quiet, so peaceful.”
“Then it’s good you’ve got me around, huh?” Shouyou says cheekily, because he knows Kageyama’s insults have meant less and less over the years. “That way you’ll never be bored!”
Kageyama rolls his eyes, but he doesn’t deny it. “If it’ll make you happy to think that, then sure.”
He beams, and hops on his toes to kiss Kageyama on the cheek. This is becoming something he’s doing more often, he realizes, but Kageyama hasn’t exactly asked him to stop and Shouyou is entirely too pleased with himself to quit. “Thanks for saving me, by the way,” he says. “So what was it like down there? Was it scary? Did you have to fight any of the mermaids? What did they look like? Oh, man, I wish I got to watch! Did you see the Giant Squid? What—”
“Slow down,” Kageyama says. The crowd is beginning to disperse now, and people are heading back towards the castle for dinner. “One question at a time. I’ll answer them on the way back.”
Shouyou smiles. Kageyama’s always been like that. Not exactly patient, but he listens to Shouyou when other people don’t. He listens even when Shouyou’s rambling about something he doesn’t even care about, or when Shouyou’s just talking about something he finds interesting, just to fill up space. That’s one of the things Shouyou likes a lot about Kageyama. He always listens.
(One reason among many.)
On their way to dinner, Kageyama tells him about the Task, and it’s a little funny, how Shouyou’s the one listening instead of talking this time. That’s okay, too, because Shouyou likes watching Kageyama talk. Sometimes he’ll pause in the middle of a sentence to lick his lips, or to clamp them together when he’s thinking of what to say next. It becomes a little hard then for Shouyou to keep his focus, but he always listens enough for Kageyama not to notice. And he likes hearing what Kageyama has to say, anyway. Kageyama’s got a nice voice.
“—oi, Hinata, are you even listening?” Kageyama asks, and Shouyou blinks.
“Huh? Yeah, of course!” Shouyou says, and he’s being truthful about it, he swears it. “Keep going, and don’t skip out on any details!”
“I’m not,” Kageyama argues. He continues on, his whirlwind tale of swimming deep into the lake and battling against the mermaids, and Shouyou watches, transfixed with the way Kageyama speaks.
He thinks that maybe he’d like to spend the rest of his days with Kageyama Tobio.
“When I was down there in the dark water, when I saw you with the others,” Kageyama says quietly, half-hidden by the crackle of the fire before them, “I thought you were dead. I thought I lost you.”
“You could never lose me,” Shouyou says, and he covers the little distance between them, shoulder to shoulder, arm to arm, hand to hand. Inches and millimeters, compressed to find warmth, safety. Home. “Not now, not ever.”
That night, Shouyou thinks about asking for more than what he already has. Because it’s Kageyama, and Shouyou is so in love that it hurts.
“Okay, now I’d like everyone to take a quick sniff of their potion,” their professor instructs. “Don’t drink it, just smell. Then I’d like you to say your observations to your partner.”
Shouyou eyes the pot before him. There’s a light pink potion in it, and if he’s being completely honest here, he’s not too sure he and Kageyama even brewed it correctly. Well, there’s only one way to find out.
“You go first,” Kageyama tells him, and he looks just as weary. Shouyou nods and leans in close to smell.
Huh. It doesn’t smell too bad. It’s actually pretty good, nice and sweet, like something he’s encountered before but can’t exactly pinpoint. Like his mother’s cooking, fresh grass, air salonpas. A little like home, maybe, and something else.
Kageyama leans in close to smell it too, and Shouyou’s stomach drops to the floor.
Oh. That’s why it seems so familiar.
Because it smells like Kageyama.
And in that instant, Shouyou knows what the potion is. It’s amortentia, a love potion, and it’s supposed to smell different for each person based on what attracts them the most. And his, apparently, smells like no other than Kageyama Tobio.
“What’s it like for you?” Kageyama asks, and he looks a little confused, as if it isn’t quite as he expected.
Shouyou panics. What is he supposed to say to that? How is he supposed to say that it smells like sunburst, like the night he realized he was in love? How is he supposed to say that it smells like the day they had a picnic under the shade of a tree? How is he supposed to say that it smells like the mornings they wake up next to each other, finding their legs tangled together, Shouyou’s face pressed against Kageyama’s chest? That it smells like all the Quidditch victories they shared together? How is he supposed to say that his amortentia smells like Kageyama without giving away how hopelessly in love he is with his best friend?
“Pork buns,” he says. “It smells like pork buns.”
“Pork buns?” Kageyama asks.
“Yep. That’s definitely it,” he replies, rubbing the back of his neck and laughing awkwardly. “What’s—what does your smell like?”
“Oh,” Kageyama says, and he sniffs at the potion again. “Pork curry, milk, broom polish, and uh, flowers, I think. Yeah. Sunflowers.”
“That’s cool,” Shouyou says weakly. He tries not to think about what that means—what attracts Kageyama are some of the most basic things about him. It doesn’t really tell him much, doesn’t give him any indication whether there is someone out there that Kageyama Tobio might possibly have a crush on. Shouyou lets that tiny feeling of disappointment settle in his stomach.
“Are you okay?” Kageyama asks.
“I’m fine,” Shouyou says, but it’s not true, and he knows he shouldn’t be bitter over something that was never even his to begin with. He knows Kageyama sees right through him. He’s always been able to.
Shouyou looks at Kageyama and tries for a smile. “Really. Don’t worry about me.”
Kageyama nods, but doesn’t look convinced. Shouyou stays quiet until the class ends. When he heads to the garden, Kageyama doesn’t follow.
A flying paper crane lands on his desk during History of Magic. Shouyou turns around to see where it came from, but half of the class is asleep from boredom. Kageyama is snoring next to him, so that rules him out. He catches Yachi’s eye three seats away, and she gestures for him to unfold the paper. He does what he’s told and finds a small note written in her neat handwriting.
You haven’t told him yet, have you?
He can imagine her saying it, a little accusingly but with no malice, merely a statement truth rather than all that its potential could be. Shouyou scribbles out a no before charming it to fly back over to her.
It comes back to him a few moments later.
I thought one of you would finally confess after the Second Task, but I guess not. Hinata, you’ve got to tell him eventually, okay? I mean, you don’t have to if you really don’t want to, and I’m never going to force you to do something you don’t want to do, but I really do think it’ll be good for both of you. You’re both my friends, and I don’t to see either of you hurt. I promise it’ll be good. Think about what it all means, won’t you?
The bell rings then, and their class is dismissed. Shouyou pokes Kageyama in the cheek until he wakes up, grumpy with red marks all over his face from where it had been pressed against his book. Before he can say anything else though, Yachi appears by his side.
“Hi, Kageyama, sorry, but I’ll need to borrow Hinata really quickly,” she says, barely even apologetic, before she takes him by the hand and leads him down the corridor.
“You shouldn’t have to be afraid,” she says, and there’s a fixed, determined look in her eye that tells there’s no way he’s getting out of this one without making a handful of promises. “Don’t forget, but I’ve also known you and Kageyama for as long as you have both known each other, and I’m not kidding when I say that what you two have is special. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a best friends way, or in a romantic way, but there is something there, and I understand why you don’t want to risk it. I understand, but what if I told you that there is, at the very least, an eighty percent chance that Kageyama likes you back?”
Shouyou blinks. In a small voice, he answers, “Then that’s eighty more percent that I could ever dream of.”
“Exactly,” Yachi says. “So let’s say there is that chance. That big chance. What would you do?”
“I’d—” confess to him, he wants to say, but the words get stuck in his throat, just like every time they have when he gets close to telling Kageyama. “I’d…I’d tell him,” he manages. “About what I feel.”
Yachi nods. “And what if I told you that this eighty percent chance of yours, it’s a real statistic?”
He laughs nervously. “Then I’d probably freak out.”
“Shouyou,” Yachi says with a tiny smile, her voice solemn and serious. “It’s real. I promise. You should see the way he looks at you—like you’re the only one that matters.”
He steps back. “Real funny, Yachi, but there’s no way—”
“Hinata, he took you to the Yule Ball,” she deadpans.
“Because we’re best friends! And he didn’t have anyone else to go with!” he reasons. He doesn’t know what this means for him—doesn’t understand what it could all possibly lead up to. He’s gone so long dancing with the simple grandeur of being unrequited that despite wishing for it so endlessly it’s a little hard to even consider the possibility.
“I think it was more like, he didn’t want anyone else to go with.”
“No, I’m sure that’s not—”
“You’re the one who was chosen for Kageyama’s Second Task,” Yachi tells him, strong but gentle still. “The person he’ll miss the most. You know what that means, don’t you?” Yachi smiles, her voice gentle, “You’re the person Kageyama Tobio loves the most.”
“No, that can’t—” Shouyou says, choked, and suddenly it is as though all the words have left him. “That can’t—that can’t be right. I can’t be right.”
“Think about it,” she says.
So Shouyou does.
He thinks of their first year, when he met a grumpy boy on a train and substituted their first conversation with an argument about frogs. He thinks of how it took some time, but they found a mutual love for Quidditch, somewhere between a point scored and hands coming together for a high-five, and somehow it made up for everything else.
He thinks of their second year, when he stayed with Kageyama at Hogwarts during Christmas break instead of going home after he found out that Kageyama would be staying. I can’t let you be lonely on Christmas, he had said, and the small, grateful smile Kageyama had given him was worth more than all the chocolates in the world.
He thinks of their third year, how Kageyama had laughed at a dumb joke he made, genuine and soft and beautiful, and how in that moment Shouyou had realized two things: that Kageyama’s laugh was the best sound he ever heard, and that maybe he had a small crush on his best friend.
He thinks of their fourth year, when Shouyou had been invited to a ghost’s death day party. Kageyama’s never been too fond of any of the ghosts, but when Shouyou had complained he didn’t have anyone else to go with and that he wanted Kageyama to be there, Kageyama had agreed to come anyway.
He thinks of their fifth year, when Kageyama had gotten Shouyou a new pair of gardening gloves for his birthday. His old ones had begun to wear out, and Shouyou had been surprised that Kageyama even noticed something so small. Maybe now he knows why.
He thinks of their sixth year, when they’d won the Quidditch championship, and Kageyama looked so proud and pleased and happy that Shouyou wanted nothing more than to kiss him. If he’s being honest, he doesn’t know why he didn’t.
He thinks of all the missed opportunities he had before that, under mistletoe and the moonlight, after tournaments and in front of a gentle fire. He thinks of all the time he’s wasted already, seven years of it, and now he’s beginning to wonder if it’s too late to ask anything from it. He can’t expect much, not when there’s so little left but so much to give, but Shouyou hopes for it, despite it all. He thinks of how much time he has left, and wonders if he can find the words for it.
(That’s it. Take a deep breath.)
He thinks of their seventh year, and how it’s their last one together.
He thinks about Kageyama Tobio, being in love with him and being finally ready to admit it.
“Oh,” he says, softly. He thinks of blue eyes, and the way they look like coming home. A smile that wins against everything else. “Oh.”
“Yeah,” Yachi says.
“I—I have to go,” Shouyou says, and his heart is beginning to race. His hummingbird heartbeat, back for a finale. The idea of being loved in return, after so many years of simply looking on, is a bit too much for him to handle. “I have to go. Right now. I’ll—I’ll see you later!”
Shouyou breaks out into a run, to where he knows Kageyama will be.
“Be gentle with him, Shouyou!” Yachi calls after him. “Don’t go breaking his heart or anything!”
“I won’t!” Shouyou says. If anything, he thinks he’s about to bring two hearts together. It makes him feel like bursting, the possibility that Kageyama Tobio just might like him back.
With that in mind, Shouyou runs faster than he ever has in his whole life.
“Kageyama!” Shouyou shouts as soon as he makes it to the back of the greenhouse, a wide expanse of flowers before him.
Kageyama is standing by the sunflowers, caught off guard by Shouyou’d loud call. He looks confused, and his eyes still look a bit red from just waking up earlier.
“Hey,” he says with an awkward wave, and normally Shouyou would stop and internalize how stupidly endearing the action is, but for now he is on a mission.
“I have to tell you something,” Shouyou says, stepping into the garden and standing before Kageyama. He paces forward and back just a bit, more nervous than he ever has been at any Quidditch match.
This isn’t really how you’re supposed to do things like these, he knows. Confessions are supposed to be well-planned and timed just right for the best kind of response. They’re supposed to be special; with the sunset as their backdrop and the light of a million lifetimes to guide them. They’re supposed to be sweet, tender moments, filled to the brim with affection and anticipation. There are supposed to be speeches, that tell a story of time and crushes and falling, of how well they work together if they try, and how much better it is when they’re together. They’re supposed to be kind to the heart, a place for hummingbirds to rest.
This isn’t how they normally go—in the heat of the moment, coming undone by a sudden burst of determination. It is not supposed to feel like a flash of lightning and the thunder that chases it, like a storm he is completely unprepared for. Like firewhiskey in his veins, the wrong kind of night to be drinking. This isn’t not how it works, not at all, not in this garden, not in this setting, not in this moment, and maybe he’s wrong about all of this, and not in this lifetime either.
But Hinata Shouyou has always been one for defying expectations, so here he stands anyway, in front of the boy he loves and with the words to tell him so.
“I was never gonna tell you, because I didn’t want to mess this all up, and you’re my best friend, okay? But Yachi, she told me something earlier, and now I’m thinking I have a fighting chance after all, and it’s terrifying, but I want to try, so if you could just hear me out for a second, that would be great,” he says in one breath, and his lungs are aching. He knows he’s doing it all wrong wrong wrong and that he’s being dumb, but he’s always been good at stupid, remember?
“Shouyou,” Kageyama says softly, and under it there is concern, uncertain and nervous. “What’s wrong?”
He takes a deep breath. Somehow, in some ironic sense, even if Kageyama’s the reason he’s nervous, his presence has always managed to calm him down. Like the world mellows down, stands still, and just gives him a moment to catch up.
“I wasn’t going to tell you,” he says again, slower this time, and he counts the seconds between his words. No more wasting time. “Because you’re my best friend, and I didn’t want to lose you to some…to some stupid feelings.”
(Because it’s Kageyama, Shouyou doesn’t have to be afraid.)
“Your feelings aren’t stupid,” Kageyama says, eyebrows pinched together in trying to understand. Shouyou knows that Kageyama doesn’t get it, not yet, and Shouyou has to face the fact that he actually needs to say the words to make them feel real. “What are you—what are you saying?”
Inhale, exhale. You’ll be alright.
Another deep breath, and Shouyou knows it’s time. He looks at Kageyama, right in the eyes, brown on blue, golden flecks right into the sea.
“I want to be with you,” he says, and it sounds much more simple than it feels. “I like being with you all the time, and I like holding your hand and having you next to me. And I think I’d like to be with you until the very end, if you’ll let me.”
Kageyama looks at him, and Shouyou wishes he could hear what he’s thinking. He can’t quite understand this look on Kageyama’s face, can’t guess what he’s feeling. But his eyes soften around the edges, and Shouyou knows that it means this could go two ways, and he really prefers one of the outcomes over the other.
Kageyama takes a step closer, and Shouyou readies himself with the rejection that is about to come. I’m sorry, Kageyama will say, just as he had to all the others who have found the courage to confess to him with no such luck, and Shouyou will just be another name on that list of failed attempts. I’m sorry, but I don’t feel the same way. He prepares himself for the inevitable.
Kageyama steps closer, and cups Shouyou’s cheek with one hand. “I hope I’m not reading this wrong,” he murmurs, his breath ghosting right over Shouyou’s lips. “You can punch me if I am.”
Shouyou’s just about to open his mouth and ask Kageyama what he means exactly, but then Kageyama’s lips are on his and suddenly Shouyou can’t think about anything else.
Kissing Kageyama, it turns out, is even better than firewhiskey. It feels electric and soft all at once—lightning striking him down at this very spot and rebuilding him all at once with that same fire. It’s a hello, it’s nice to meet you and a we’ve known each other a long time, haven’t we? at the same time, shocking him to his skin and sending tingles down his spine. It’s messy and a little awkward, their noses keep bumping and sometimes they press too hard, but Kageyama tastes like summer days and pork curry and invincibility and never letting go. Shouyou wraps his arms around his neck to pull him down closer, and he stands his toes to conquer any millimeters that stand to defy them. Shouyou thinks he wants this forever, maybe. Firewhiskey could never compare.
When he lets go, he presses his forehead against Kageyama’s, opens his eyes to stare right back at a million shades of blue. He thinks that this might just be a love for the ages—a boy of seventeen, hopelessly smitten, learning what it means to get swept into a multitude of storms, held together by the arms of his best friend.
“You didn’t punch me,” Kageyama says, and Shouyou can’t help it—laughter bubbles out of him, bright and clear and full of relief. Kageyama grins, and Shouyou wonders if it’s possible to fall even more in love than he already has. “So that means that you—I wasn’t sure if you—do you really…?”
“I like you,” Shouyou says, just for the words to be said, as if kissing the living daylights out of Kageyama wasn’t clear enough of an indication of his affection. “I like you a lot. More than I probably should. I might even—” he falters. He’s come this far, hasn’t he? There’s no point in holding back now. “I love you.”
“Well, that’s—that’s good,” Kageyama says, smiling, and pink paints over his skin even further. “Because I love you, too.”
Shouyou beams. He presses another kiss to Kageyama’s lips, because he wants to and because he can, and wow, that’s an actual thing he can do now, isn’t it? He smiles, humming happily as he pulls away, and Kageyama’s cheeks are dusted with freckles and fireworks.
“I think I owe Yachi some thanks,” Kageyama mutters, and Shouyou laughs again, because he does too, and this is something Yachi will never let him live down. “I was—I was going to tell you, you know. By the end of the year, I think, but it really depended on whether I won the Tournament or not.” Kageyama holds up a hand to his face to hide his reddening cheeks.
Shouyou looks at him. “So if you won…”
“Then I would tell you,” Kageyama says, looking incredibly flustered. “And if I didn’t, then I figured it was a sign that I didn’t—” he cuts off, and his voice turns smaller, “I didn’t deserve you.”
He blinks, then immediately rushes forward to wrap Kageyama in a tight hug. “Don’t you dare think that,” he says into Kageyama’s shirt. “You’re good enough, okay? You’ve always been good enough. More than that, even. The best.”
Kageyama’s arms come around him. “Okay,” he says quietly. “Okay. Yeah.”
“Good,” Shouyou says, and he takes Kageyama’s hand in his once more.
“You’re—you’re enough, too,” Kageyama says, his words loud against the quiet, but only for Shouyou to hear. “Everything I’ve ever wanted.”
“Even when we’re both complete dumbasses?”
Kageyama smiles, crooked with light laughter. “Even when we’re both complete dumbasses.”
They stay there in the garden until night falls around them, talking and kissing and simply being with each other. It’s nice, Shouyou thinks, because it doesn’t feel like much has changed between them. Kageyama still makes him feel all pwahh inside when he smiles, and Shouyou still gets to make jokes and tease him like always. Kageyama still calls him dumb and he still blushes every time Shouyou takes his hand. Nothing much has changed, and it might be because it’s Kageyama, but also because he’s Shouyou, and together they’ve always been good at becoming something else entirely.
Together, they stay.
“Kageyama, your cauldron’s bubbling.”
“Uh…yeah? What about it?” he asks, confused. His hair is frizzy from the humidity of everyone’s potions, sticking up in different places, cheeks puffed red from exhaustion. Shouyou thinks it’s adorable.
“It’s not—I don’t think it’s supposed to do that.” Shouyou points to his textbook, squinting at the words. He holds it up for Kageyama to see. “Did you put the Ashwinder eggs before or after the pearl dust?”
Kageyama looks at his cauldron for a long moment, eyebrows furrowed. “I think I put the pearl dust first. And then the rose petals.”
“Oh,” Shouyou says. He scratches the back of his neck. “Well, uh, you’re supposed to put the eggs, and then the pearl dust. You only put the petals in after five minutes of stirring or else it’ll…well, it’ll do what your pot is doing right now.”
The cauldron bubbles burpily, and Shouyou takes a step back. It’s not supposed to be bright yellow, is it? His own potion is doing fine, he thinks, and is safe-looking and transparent, perfectly still, and it smells pretty decent, too. It had taken him a couple of tries to get it right, and he’s usually a complete disaster in Potions, so he counts this one as a miracle, really. He’s not so sure if the same can be said about Kageyama, though.
“Maybe you can start over? There’s still time—”
The cauldron bursts, spilling its contents all over both of them. Shouyou yelps. It’s sticky and warm and all over his hair and robes, and when he looks over at Kageyama, he lets out a loud laugh. It spilled on him even more, and his whole face is plastered in the yellow liquid. The look on his face is hilarious—shocked and confused mingled with a little bit of remorse. He doubles over, wheezing, and soon after he sees Kageyama cracking a smile and laughing too.
Their professor reprimands them for making such a mess and sounds them out to get cleaned up, and Shouyou’s pinches Kageyama’s cheeks as they enter the bathroom, grinning widely.
“To remember what happy feels like,” Shouyou says when Kageyama asks him what he’s doing.
Kageyama shakes his head but smiles. “You’re so weird sometimes.”
“You love me, though,” Shouyou replies with a cheeky grin.
“Yeah,” Kageyama says, and the look he gives Shouyou is full of fondness and warmth that Shouyou is overwhelmed with the feeling with it. “I guess I do.”
Their first date is in Hogsmeade, and it’s a little awkward at first, sneaking glances and holding hands, but all it takes is for Kageyama to trip on a rock and make them both fall for Shouyou to laugh and Kageyama to grumble, and they fall back into place quite easily after that. They spend most of their time just walking around—taking free samples from Honeydukes and toying with the items from Zonko’s Joke Shop. At the Three Broomsticks, they make a game out of who can make the most puns from the objects on their table. They end up laughing so much they nearly get kicked out, caught between don’t get too full of yourself while holding up a glass of water and let’s table this for later, knocking on the wooden counter. Later, when evening comes, Kageyama hands Shouyou his scarf when it gets cold, and Shouyou buys Kageyama ice cream and takes his hand for a little more warmth and comfort.
It’s the little things, Shouyou supposes, because even though he’s never felt like this before for anyone in his entire life, he thinks it feels a little like coming home. The small glances of reassurance, the little smile Kageyama gives him to show he’s listening, the gentle squeeze of the hand. The tissue Kageyama hands him right before he’s about to sneeze, the pen Shouyou lends because he knows Kageyama ran out of ink last week, the look Kageyama gives him when Shouyou smiles at him. The bursting feeling in his chest, his hummingbird heartbeat.
The little things that make up the two of them, they’re what he wants to keep. For today and for all the rest of his days, even years from now, he knows he’ll still want it, and he holds the sun inside his heart a little longer. He asks for things to stay just like this, easy and simple, just for a little bit longer. The rest of the world can wait.
Frog choir practice runs late one day, and Shouyou trudges into the Gryffindor bedroom to find Kageyama asleep on his bed, Volleyball curled around his legs and Milk croaking softly on the table. He looks so peaceful, snoring softly, angelic and ethereal, and Shouyou smiles to himself.
Slowly, he lies in the space next to Kageyama, careful not to disturb him. It doesn’t work too well, though—the bed creaks under the added weight and Volleyball stretches and meows loudly. Kageyama’s eyes blink open, a little hazy, and he looks at Shouyou.
“Sorry,” he says, voice croaky and muffled, “I was supposed to wait for you, but I guess I fell asleep. I’ll do better next time.”
Something warm grows in his chest. Gosh, he loves this boy so much. “It’s okay,” he says. “You can go back to sleep now.”
Kageyama hums. “Night, Shouyou,” he mumbles, closing his eyes and pressing a soft kiss against Shouyou’s forehead.
Shouyou smiles, and leans into Kageyama’s warmth. “Good night, Tobio.”
The Third Task comes around quickly, and before he knows it, Shouyou is standing next to Kageyama at the arena, while a crowd cheers on beyond the tent curtain and a huge maze lies before them.
“Don’t die out there,” Shouyou tells him, a light smile on his lips, if just to mask the underlying nervous he feels. “I think I’d like my boyfriend all in one piece when he gets back.”
“Shou,” Kageyama murmurs, pressing his forehead against Shouyou’s. Kageyama likes doing that a lot, Shouyou’s come to notice, and he doesn’t mind it at all. “I’ll come back. I promised, remember?”
“You better,” Shouyou says. He kisses Kageyama, slowly, without rush, just to savor it. “For luck.”
Kageyama looks a little dazed. “Why didn’t you do that before all the other Tasks?”
He rolls his eyes, but doesn’t move away. “Because we weren’t dating yet, stupid,” he answers. He kisses Kageyama again. “Here, for the First Task.” Then another one, just as sweet. “And that was for the Second. Happy now?”
“Mhm.” Kageyama grins, childish and pleased, and Shouyou is so in love that he doesn’t really know what to do with himself. “Happy now,” he says.
A horn sounds loudly across the arena, and Shouyou knows his time is up. He lets go of Kageyama, and holds his hand just to squeeze it one more time.
“I’ll see you later?” Shouyou asks.
Kageyama nods. “See you later.”
“Go win, you hear me?” he says, and when Kageyama smiles at him again, a confirmation of how he’s going to try, Shouyou leaves the tent and heads into the stands.
And when the Tournament starts, Shouyou can’t look away.
Kageyama Tobio is the first to emerge from the maze, holding the Cup in his hands, and officially becoming the Triwizard Champion.
Shouyou cheers louder than anyone else, a loud call of that’s my boyfriend! and pride well-worn within his voice. He’s moving before he can stop himself, ducking between people and dodging obstacles. He launches himself at Kageyama, throwing his arms over his shoulders and hugging him. He kisses him all over his face, and Kageyama laughs, beaming brightly.
“Tobio, you did it! You won, you won, you won!” he says rapidly, holding his fists up in the air. “Congratulations! Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you did it! You’re amazing!”
“Th—thanks,” Kageyama says, looking a little embarrassed, still not quite used to receiving compliments even after all these years. “I couldn’t have—I couldn’t have done it without you.”
Shouyou smiles, and hugs him again one more time. “Ahhh, we need to celebrate! There’s obviously gonna be a feast for you later, wahhh, this is so cool! You! The Triwizard Champion!”
Kageyama looks like he’s about to say something, but before he opens his mouth, they’re swarmed by the crowd, reporters and students alike, that all want a glimpse at the boy who won it all. Shouyou loses Kageyama amidst it, but that’s okay. He’ll find him later. They’ve got all the time in the world.
Instead, he waits by the stands until they’re all finished. He watches as Kageyama stumbles through interviews, his brief encounters with awkwardness and pride. It’s endearing, how quick he is to get flustered by compliments, how happy he looks that people are recognizing him for his potential. Shouyou knows Kageyama deserves it.
The sky on his shoulders, Kageyama looks a lot like a king. Brave and daring, quick-witted and diligent. Beautiful, as the last few moments of the evening descend down upon him, a boy who can reach the stratosphere. A boy who wills the clouds to take shape, who is forged from lightning and thunder. Shouyou watches, amazed at the silent strength that makes up this hurricane of a boy—the promises to come back, the soft smiles, the hands held for reassurance—and remembers that it is this that he finds comfort and peace in the most. This is what he calls home; this is what he wants to come to every day. To this boy with the stars on his fingertips and the moon in his eyes—to this boy so destined for the heavens but willing to live on the ground to watch it all unveil around him.
If this is love, Shouyou thinks, then I have loved him for a long time now.
“You look happy,” Kageyama says later, when he’s finished answering questions. He’s got an amused smile playing on his own lips, peaceful and content. The sun on his skin, Shouyou wonders what the future will bring them, and knows that he will still be with Kageyama through it all.
“I am,” Shouyou says, and his hand finds Kageyama’s, just as they always have, and just as they always will. “I’m with you, aren’t I?”
If this is love, Shouyou thinks, then I will love him for even longer.