Atsumu thinks he might be in love with his best friend.
“C’mon Atsu, let’s do this.”
A hand reaches out in front of Atsumu amidst the swaying of feet in the crowded room, rising above the giggles brewing on the east wing, the murmurings residing to the west side, and the classical music filling the space coming from the large gramophone. It should not make Atsumu nervous with sweat soaking his back, nor should it make his face heat up with crimson running across freckled cheeks, for it being a hand Atsumu has seen so many times that he can redraw every tiniest detail even when he closes his eyes.
A hand with slender long fingers, nails pink, carefully trimmed. A hand that bears crooked curves and calluses after 7 years of holding a quill and a wand; marked with faint scars as proud prizes for each championship of the Quidditch game; and stained with black spots from a potion class earlier. A hand that pulled Atsumu up from the ground every time he fell from the Firebolt in the flying lessons; a hand that touched the small of his back and gave him the courage to ride Buckbeak; a hand that squeezed tight to Atsumu’s on cold nights when he was sick.
A hand that is home. A hand that is his best friend.
Atsumu looks up, grinning. “ Let’s do this? Is that really how you ask someone for a dance, Omi?”
“It’s just practice. What’s the big deal?” Kiyoomi frowns and avoids Atsumu’s stare, hand fluttering in front of Atsumu in annoyance. However, the faint pink on his ears says otherwise. “Now, are you going to dance with me or not?”
Always, Omi, always.
Atsumu chooses to stay silent and smile at Kiyoomi instead. Their hands clasp as Atsumu guides them to the middle of the room where others have already moved fumblingly along with the music. He places a hand on Kiyoomi’s shoulder, and with the familiar grip around his waist, they start swaying slowly to the song, blending in the stream of black uniforms and innocent laughter.
Despite the private class on ballroom dancing for Hogwarts Champion, Kiyoomi is a terrible dancer, Atsumu realises. He ponders, amusedly, at the fact that even the wit of a Ravenclaw couldn’t help him move his body the way he wants. Kiyoomi’s posture is stiff, his palm has been sweating for ages now, and what’s worse, he keeps looking down at the awkward steps and mumbles 1, 2, 3 in repetition as if it can save him from stomping on Atsumu’s feet every five seconds (it doesn’t).
Atsumu laughs. “You’re doing it wrong, you oaf, no one dances like that.”
“If you know dancing so well, what brilliant suggestion do you have in mind then?” Kiyoomi huffs to the floor.
“Stop looking at your feet, they’re not gonna disappear.”
“Shut up. I don’t want to—”
“Just keep your eyes on me, Omi.” Atsumu interrupts, and Kiyoomi looks up at him, eyes wide. Meeting his stare, Atsumu whispers. “Focus on me only.”
It’s a dangerous suggestion, Atsumu understands belatedly, when he’s having hummingbird heartbeats. Morning sunlight filters in through the glass window and turns into iridescent rays, kissing Kiyoomi’s porcelain skin that is purer than the snow outside, glinting off his lashes and sliding down his nose. The warmth from the beams sinks in his eyes and melts away any traces of haze and fog, leaving behind a clear summer night sky that can swallow Atsumu whole. An endless black horizon dotted with white speckles stretches far beyond the confined space between them.
Despite the stoic face, Kiyoomi’s gaze turns mellow as he looks at him. Atsumu knows so. He has been friends with Kiyoomi long enough to pick up the slightest shift in his expression. To know that those eyes would always light up when he masters a spell, would flare fire before each Quidditch game, would smile without a doubt every time Atsumu beams at him.
He has been friends with Kiyoomi long enough to know that despite the rivalry between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor, despite their constant banters, they would forever be partners, would always stand next to each other and have each other’s back. To know that what they share exceeds any regular friendships, and 7 years in the making means little compared to a lifetime in the future.
And to know that, every time he looks into those eyes, he would fall for him all the same.
Atsumu purses his lips, head tipping down slightly.
“What is it?” Kiyoomi asks, because similar to Atsumu, he is quick enough to pick up even the tiniest change in Atsumu’s emotions.
“Nothing.” Atsumu mutters. He raises his right hand up in an attempt to lead, and Kiyoomi lets out an irked tongue clicking sound, only to accept his fate soon later at Atsumu’s silent plea. Kiyoomi twirls around twice before they pull apart for one beat and Atsumu draws his body close again at the next one. Atsumu grins and continues to sway slowly along with Kiyoomi for a few minutes, bodies close, breaths tight. Until, he finally speaks. “The Yule Ball, have you thought about asking anyone out yet?”
Kiyoomi stays silent.
“I mean, you’re a Champion, so you must do the opening dance with someone, a date. So, I was just wondering—”
Atsumu licks his lips, throat dry. He doesn’t know where he’s going with this. Perhaps he wants to initiate a conversation to cover his flustering, or to ease the nerves that are brimming from the pit of his stomach to the tip of his fingers. Or maybe, a tiny part of him wants to say:
So I was just wondering, if you want to go to the dance with me?
But he doesn’t say it. Because Atsumu thinks that he might be in love with his best friend.
“I do have someone in mind, actually.”
Atsumu looks up at him, catching sight of the same mellow tune dancing in Kiyoomi’s eyes. For once, Atsumu hates that look. Not like this, not when Kiyoomi’s talking about someone else, not when it isn’t for Atsumu alone anymore.
Atsumu swallows the bitterness on his tongue and musters his strength for a whisper. “Who is it?”
Kiyoomi smiles, faint and endearing enough to make Atsumu feel like he’s going to be sick, like the delicious pancakes for breakfast don’t sit well and turn sour, like the air is prickling his eyes and blurring his vision with a veil of steam.
Like he’s losing his best friend after 7 years of being together.
“I’ll tell you who it is when I’m sure that they’d a hundred percent agree to accompany me to the dance. They’re kind of dense, you know, so I don’t want to scare them off by asking them out all of the sudden.” Kiyoomi says, crooking his head with a soft sigh. “But do you think they will have me, Atsu?”
Atsumu missteps a beat. Kiyoomi shouldn’t tell him this, shouldn’t show him how wishful and ardent he is for someone else, shouldn't—
No, he should. He has every right to share his concern. After all, they’re friends. Best friends.
And nothing more.
“Of course.” Atsumu smiles, the corner of his lips quivering traitorously. “Who can say no to a Champion?”
“ Just because I’m a Champion?”
“No.” Atsumu shakes his head instantly, breathing out a quiet laugh. “Because you are you, Omi.”
“I’ll trust you on this.” Kiyoomi nods, his voice perks up and Atsumu wishes that it doesn’t. “How about you? Do you have anyone in mind for the Yule Ball yet?”
You, Omi. Always you.
“I think I’ll ask Shouyou-kun out, actually.”
Atsumu lies instead. Because he thinks he might be in love with his best friend.
And Atsumu watches, as Kiyoomi’s expression drops like a roller coaster ride, as the heat in his eyes withers away from the hit of a dreadful snowstorm, and as his hand loses the touch of familiarity.
“You look like shit.” Osamu tells him when the heat of the Yule Ball has simmered down from the initial flare.
Atsumu shrugs at his brother sitting down a chair away from him. Admittedly, he hasn’t been at his best tonight: bopping his head to the music and holing up at the resting area with nothing but cushioned stools surrounding him, empty punch glasses rolling on the table, and no date in sight. He didn’t ask Shouyou to the dance just to shield his cowardice, nor did he invite anyone for that matter. He might fear asking the one person he wants to, but at least he still has the dignity to go alone.
However, watching from afar Kiyoomi dances with a strange girl from Hufflepuff and him being on his own, Atsumu truly thinks that dignity can be a pain in the ass sometimes.
“Mum sent the robe, you know?” Atsumu says, smoothing out the red flap in front of his chest.
“I know. If it hadn’t been for the robe everyone would have mistaken you for those Dementors.” Osamu scoffs, giving Atsumu one of the punch glasses in his hand while Atsumu offers him some friendly kicks on his leg.
They drink in silence, eyes training on the crowd ahead.
“Why didn’t you ask him out?” Osamu asks absently.
Atsumu’s arm raising to sip on the drink pauses for one short second before he shakes his head, muttering against the crystal rim. “He’s my best friend, ‘Samu.”
“So?” Osamu looks aside at him quizzically. “Rin is my best friend too.”
“It’s not the same.” Atsumu sighs. Maybe Osamu had eaten all the bluntness they shared in the womb by kissing Rintarou and saying you’re hot as fuck please date me when they were only 15. Atsumu, on the contrary, at least inherits some sense of shame on behalf of his brother.
“You’re just scared.”
“I am.” Atsumu nods and looks at Kiyoomi moving awkwardly among the crowd, his mind traveling elsewhere.
He thinks about the crackles of fire and the rustles of a blanket during nights when Kiyoomi sneaks into Gryffindor's common room. About the crisp of winds and drums of hearts when they race to catch the golden snitch. About the touch of pinkies when they doze off at the library, side by side, face to face. When Atsumu watches in awe the last light of the orange sunset envelopes Kiyoomi’s left cheek, his finger tracing Kiyoomi’s fluttering lashes in the air, and questions the foreign feelings growing inside his chest.
“I would rather not risk our friendship because of my dumb feelings.”
“They’re not dumb, ‘Tsumu—”
“7 years ‘Samu. We’ve been together for 7 years now. I don’t want to— I can’t lose him.”
“So that’s it?” Osamu says, agitated. “You’re okay with just being friends?”
Atsumu laughs slightly, bottoming up his drink. “For now, yeah, it’s enough.”
The first thing he registers after what seems to be a deep sleep is freezing water biting his face, burning his throat, and numbing his senses. Cheers erupt around him but Atsumu forgets how to hear; the crowd on the shore waves at him but he forgets how to look.
The second thing he registers is the familiar warmth of Kiyoomi’s chest pressing against his back, strong arm wrapping around his waist to keep them afloat.
“What—” Atsumu cuts off abruptly with a cough, limbs flailing around unconsciously as he struggles to form a coherent sentence with his incoherent thoughts.
“Swim first.” Kiyoomi yells, his voice hoarse. “I’ll explain— later.”
Atsumu nods in acknowledgment though his mind is still a mess. They swim back to the shore soon enough, then there are hands hauling them both on the wooden shelter and separating them amidst the chaotic rush and incessant yellings. Atsumu is overwhelmed by the clamoring crowd, someone is saying something but he can’t really hear, towels drape over his shoulders but he can’t really feel. His mind remains trapped in a circle, confined in a box, only able to make sense of Kiyoomi sitting a few meters away from him, body shaking and back hunching under the pile of towels.
“Goodness, your face is as pale as a dead person.” A loud and familiar voice reverberates to Atsumu’s ear like a ring of a gong, helping him to finally tune into the surroundings.
“Don’t c-curse— m-me.” Atsumu berates Osamu, his teeth clatter and his voice shakes along with his hands clutching on the towel. “Not— d-dead yet.”
“At this rate, soon.” Osamu huffs. He scoots closer and presses the side of Atsumu against his chest, rubbing his palms on Atsumu’s arm to warm him up.
“The Second Task, remember? GillyWeed, it worked.”
“And the second place belongs to Sakusa Kiyoomi.” The headmaster’s amplified voice cuts Atsumu off, quieting down the chaos. “For successfully rescuing his taken treasure with the excellent use of GillyWeed.”
“Second place—” Atsumu’s cheer is interrupted by his own sudden realisation. His eyes bug out as he whips his head aside to look at Osamu. “Taken trea-treasure? What’s he talking a-about?”
A smug smile plays on Osamu’s lips. “Every Champion has to find their lost treasures - the person matters to them most.”
The person matters to them most.
Osamu’s voice echoes and repeats in his head like a broken record. Atsumu’s mouth goes slack for a few seconds before he looks at himself, wet and cold, and Motoya, who is sitting next to Kiyoomi, as dry as ever like he’s been bathed in the sun the whole time. Maybe Atsumu stares at them for too long, maybe Atsumu is smiling too hard and too wide, because the moment Kiyoomi meets his eyes from across the crowd, a faint blush starts creeping on his pale skin. Kiyoomi purses his lips and looks away, and sparing no time for a celebration, he’s already walked off the shelter.
“Omi, wait.” Atsumu yells and scurries to chase Kiyoomi trotting ahead of him, his hasty steps stomping fumblingly on the pebble ground and his shoulders still curling under the towel. “I said wait . I’m still fucking freezing over here.”
That somehow slows Kiyoomi down for Atsumu to catch up with him. After a short exhale, Kiyoomi turns around and asks. “What do you want, Atsu?”
“You said you’ll explain to me later. So do it.” Atsumu huffs as he looks at Kiyoomi’s unfazed expression.
“There’s nothing to explain anymore. Osamu probably told you everything already.”
“Not everything.” Atsumu mutters. “How am I— the person that matters to you most?”
Kiyoomi lowers his gaze. “Just— because.”
Kiyoomi jerks his head up and meets Atsumu’s eyes. For the first time, Kiyoomi gives him a look that Atsumu can’t quite decipher. A look that bears words that Atsumu is afraid to say out loud, a look that resembles the dark forest where he isn’t allowed to enter, yet spurring his curiosity to no end. Kiyoomi fixates on Atsumu for a while, and at Atsumu’s slack jaw, he breathes out again and turns away. “Because nothing. It’s just how it is.”
“Hey.” Atsumu grabs his shoulder and stops his steps. “I’m not done with you yet.”
“Just go back, Atsu.” Kiyoomi brushes his hand off. His words are final, leaving no room for further discussion, and honestly, they piss Atsumu off.
Atsumu bristles. “Stop ignoring me, goddamnit.”
“I’m not ignoring you.” Kiyoomi bites back, his volume increasing as well.
Something is burning inside the pit of Atsumu’s stomach like a bubbling potion threatening to crawl out of the cauldron. Only this time, Atsumu doesn’t try to fix it. This time, he lets it swallow him whole. “Then why don’t you just tell me? ”
“Tell you what ?” Kiyoomi grounds out, nose flaring and chest heaving the same as Atsumu.
“Tell me why you’ve been fucking avoiding me all week ever since dance practice.”
“Stop assuming everything, Miya. I’m not.”
“You are , Sakusa.” Atsumu shouts, and the name makes Kiyoomi’s brow jump. “ Why? ”
“Because— fuck .” Kiyoomi’s words shudder as he brushes through his hair violently, and finally, falls apart.
“Because I love you, Atsu. ” Kiyoomi says with the heel of his palm pressing tight to his eyes. Atsumu’s breath halts. “And you— you’re just too stupid to see it. You’ve always been more than a friend to me. You're the one I think about every day, you’re the only person I want to go to the Yule Ball with, and you’re the idiot who matters to me more than my life.”
Atsumu’s legs carry him before he has enough time to make sense of Kiyoomi’s words, a burning need, a fulfilled dream. He’s on Kiyoomi in seconds, ice-cold hands cupping the heated cheeks and trembling lips finding each other. Atsumu kisses him with a sharp and long inhale before letting go and meeting Kiyoomi’s eyes, surprised and amazed and tender all the same. Time seems to freeze in that one short second, only the yearning overflows, only the silent words sing, and only the heavy breaths mingle.
Instantly, Kiyoomi wraps his arms around Atsumu’s waist and pulls him into another kiss, forceful and violent and desperate this time with teeth tugging at Atsumu’s lower lip, tongue dancing with his and torso leaning on Atsumu, bending him backward slightly. For once, Kiyoomi loses his composure, but Atsumu doesn’t mind it.
He loops his hands around Kiyoomi’s neck to keep himself from falling down and returns the kiss. Return to the roughness of Kiyoomi with a soft I’m sorry. Return to the trembling I miss you with a quiet I know . Return to the I love you with a Me too .
“I lied.” Atsumu whispers against Kiyoomi’s lips when the kiss ends, eyes closed to savor this moment, puffs of heavy breaths dissolve into the humid air. “I never wanted to ask anyone else to the dance. It was you, Omi. It has always been you only.”
Kiyoomi’s breath hitches. “So— what does that mean?”
Atsumu laughs. “A bit slow for a Ravenclaw, don’t you think?”
Kiyoomi grunts in protest.
Atsumu’s smile deepens, words disappear slowly as he finds Kiyoomi’s lips again. “Means that I love you too.”
This time, Atsumu doesn’t lie, because he thinks he might be in love with his best friend.
This time, Atsumu says it, because he thinks Kiyoomi might be in love with his best friend too.