When Jaehyun went back to the west tower, in the Ravenclaw common room, it was almost silent. There were a few second years cracking eggs attempting some form of divination through yolk flow but other than that, it was empty. Ignoring the curious (or probably anxious) gaze that followed him, Jaehyun went past Ravenclaw’s statue in front of the doors and entered the rooms. He was expecting Doyoung in his bed at the very least since they got no more classes today but he was nowhere in sight.
Jaehyun was excited—and nervous—to admit that yes, after months of hesitation and a night-long heart-to-heart talk with Doyoung, he finally decided to confess and ask his Slytherin Quidditch chaser crush out on a date. Where? Probably at Hogsmeade. When? This weekend perhaps. How? Maybe through a letter like how his best buddy suggested.
He would want to have Doyoung’s validation first because “romance” and “Jaehyun” did not really blend well together, but he really wanted to get started. For some reason, Jaehyun felt sure that his plan was a good one. He even had a draft of his confession letter ready. But he wasn’t confident—or less trusting, at the very least, like somewhere along the flow, something was going to mess up. Or probably that was just his pessimism.
“Doyoung said I should not doubt,” Jaehyun muttered to himself. “Trust my heart. I can do this.”
With nothing left to do, Jaehyun decided to rewrite his confession on a more decent paper. He pulled the drawers where Doyoung would usually keep the more classy, expensive parchments. There was, on top of the drawer, however, a thin rim of peach-colored papers, its wrapper already torn open. It also came with envelopes which matched the paper’s color and smell. Doyoung probably had forgotten to put it back in the drawer and so Jaehyun decided to get one of each. He went to his desk and pulled the quill from his bag. The next hour would be Jaehyun scribbling what he believed to be the most overwhelming letter of his life.
And so the fateful day came. Doyoung already learned of Jaehyun’s decision and as expected, he was as supportive as best friends could get. And to think that Jaehyun had gathered a strong amount of courage to confess to a daunting Slytherin catcher surrounded by equally daunting Slytherins, of course Doyoung would give the biggest bro-support he could.
Doyoung didn’t bother reviewing the confession letter. “Let’s leave it as Jaehyun-est as possible,” he said as a show of trust and confidence.
Jaehyun and Doyoung (and the rest of their Ravenclaw classmates) came to their Charms class fifteen minutes early. Jaehyun was nervous. Doyoung was excited. They counted down to ten minutes before the professor arrived. That was when the Slytherins would come.
And they did just as expected. A bunch of students in green-and-silver-lined robes came dashing inside, the once silent room suddenly bursting into noisy fits of laughter and obnoxious talk. The last to enter was Taeyong. Jaehyun threw at Doyoung a worried look.
“There he is. Go,” Doyoung nudged.
Taeyong took his usual seat—end of the last right row. It was his favorite spot. Last year, he took the same seat in their Transfiguration class. He seemed to not like getting noticed. Most of the time he was silent, unless surrounded by fellow Slytherin friends. But he was a bright student. He could master charms in just a few minutes of practice. He probably didn’t know but he was also good at charming a certain Ravenclaw seated at the other side of the room.
“Shouldn’t I give this to him later?” Jaehyun asked, voice shaky. “I don’t want his friends to know.”
Doyoung shook his head. “Dude, his friends are always with him. They’d still know whether you give it to him later or tomorrow.”
Doyoung made sense. Taeyong was inseparable from his friends and whether Jaehyun decided to delay this or not, it wouldn’t be any different. Besides, today was the best day to do it before his boldness—already dwindling—could even completely turn back on him.
At Doyoung’s last nudge and pat on the shoulder, Jaehyun stood up. In his pocket was the letter, sealed in an envelope. He took it out, trembling fingers holding it. The walk from his seat to Taeyong’s was only five seconds apart but it felt like minutes, or even hours.
Luckily, the Slytherin block seemed to be busy making fun of whom Jaehyun thought was Sicheng when he tried to cast a color-change charm but had pineapple juice erupting from the tip of his wand. Ignoring them (and somehow thankful for Sicheng’s failure), he went straight to Taeyong’s seat. With one resolute sigh, Jaehyun placed—dropped—the envelope and an extra note on his desk: “Please do not read this here. Somewhere else. Like when you’re alone. -Jaehyun.”
Then Jaehyun went back to his seat as quickly as possible. He could feel Taeyong’s eyes on him but he tried to be calm. As soon as he reached his seat, he heaved a sigh and smiled to himself—a proud one.
“Jaehyun,” Doyoung spoke. “Uh, did you use the peach parchment from our drawers?”
Doyoung’s wide eyes spelled like trouble and Jaehyun could only nod while his heart raced in the most horrible manner.
“Oh shit, why did you use it?”
“What’s wrong?” Jaehyun panicked. “Am I in trouble?”
“You will be,” Doyoung buried his face in his palms for a couple of seconds before raising his head, his face suddenly troubled. He mumbled. “Dude, that’s a howler.”
It had been a minute since he gave the envelope but it remained untouched. Jaehyun looked behind him as the letter began to smoke. Confused and a little scared, Taeyong threw an alarmed look (probably because he knew it was a howler) at Jaehyun who stood up, unsure whether he should get the letter or tell Taeyong to open it. The smoke’s becoming darker and the envelope was expanding. It’s going to explode.
So he ran. He grabbed the letter from Taeyong’s desk. It burned on his hand, Jaehyun hissing as he tore it open. Soon, the letter deflated. He dropped it on the floor. Then it floated, slowly, until the poorly torn side turned to face Taeyong.
“Fuck,” Jaehyun whispered. “This is all an accident. I’m sorry”
The envelope opened its “mouth.” It began.
Something’s been really heavy and overwhelming in my mind and heart for the past months and I decided I should tell you about it now. This is kind of embarrassing but I don’t think I can hold it in for a longer time so I am just going to say it: I like you, I really do.
You probably are confused and surprised right now. Or probably even weirded out, but it’s okay. I think I feel the same. But really, I wanted to tell you that you’ve been an amazing inspiration for me. Although you appear to be cold and indifferent to many people, I always see the incredibly sweet side of you. We have never talked much but sometimes I really want to spend a lot of time with you. This is really strange because even if we hardly know each other, I suddenly felt feelings I never thought I am capable of feeling. I am not expecting anything in return in all honesty but these emotions have been really too much for me to deal with. Hence I am confessing and giving you my heart through this letter.
So maybe, if you don’t mind, we could go out sometime? Like this weekend? At Hogsmeade? If you’re free, that is. Just you know, a friendly date.
Also, I know I’m in Ravenclaw but I think you’re one of the best chasers I’ve ever seen.”
It was calm, kind, and shy. But it was loud. Really loud. The paper burned at the mention of his name, a small amount of ashes gathering at Taeyong’s foot. Everyone was silent, either amused or flabbergasted.
“Oh god,” Jaehyun said, his voice the only thing breaking the stillness of the room. His hands were cold and trembling and his knees felt like giving up on him. “I swear, I didn’t… I didn’t know it was a howler. I didn’t mean it. I’m… I’m really sorry!”
Taeyong, whose eyes remained wide, slowly looked from the ashes on his foot to Jaehyun’s red face. Jaehyun stepped back, little by little, until he’s several feet away. Then he quickly turned on his heels and ran away past his seat, out of the door. He heard Doyoung’s call but he ignored him.
He was a Ravenclaw. He’s supposed to be smart, and wise, and not as stupid as this. How come he fucked up this time? Now the whole of his class knew something he wanted to keep private between him and Taeyong. He made himself an embarrassment and he was pretty sure if he could just magically turn the floor into a deep muddy pit that could swallow him whole until he died, he’d do it.
He ran up the West Tower and longed for his bed. The eagle knocker on the Ravenclaw common room’s entrance spoke. “At night we come without being fetched, and by day we’re lost without being stolen. What are we?”
Jaehyun sighed. “Feelings?”
Great. Now he’s stuck outside.
It wouldn’t be until Doyoung caught up him that he could finally enter the common room (“Stars or dreams. But stars come more often,” Doyoung told the eagle knocker. The door opened and Jaehyun raised his brows. “But feelings are like that, too!”). Inside, Doyoung had to comfort Jaehyun with boxes of cauldron cakes and a box of Glacial Snow Flakes he intended to have for himself but thought it would be a nice consolation for Jaehyun's current predicament. Jaehyun didn’t cry though.
“You should’ve cried. Taeyong would have comforted you, you know,” Doyoung said. He tried to get a slice of the cake but Jaehyun swatted his hand, whispering nope, let me be happy.
“Stop feeding me delusions,” Jaehyun gobbled a huge slice that he pouted. Doyoung could only laugh.
“So what are you gonna do now?”
Jaehyun shrugged. “I don’t know. Probably stay away from him. Wait, from as many Slytherins as possible.”
“There were Gryffindors in class, too.”
He sighed defeatedly. “I don’t know. I’m pretty sure the whole of Hogwarts already knows about how I fucked my confession up.”
“You sure you don’t want to like, I don’t know, talk to Taeyong and clear things out?” Doyoung wasn’t sure what else to suggest so when he said this, he had Jaehyun glaring at him.
“Fine, fine. Whatever,” Doyoung raised both hands. “Alright, gotta leave you now here so I can catch up on Charms. Will give you notes later. Also,” he opened the drawer where Jaehyun had put the pack of paper—howlers, to be exact—and took it out. He turned it over so that the bottom part of its wrapper showed “Howlers.”
“Next time, read before you use,” Doyoung patted Jaehyun on the head. “Now be happy. See you later.”
Jaehyun stared at the wrapper with so much regret.
The next day began Jaehyun’s mission to stay away from Taeyong. Until when? He didn’t know but what he was sure about was that he couldn’t muster any courage to meet his crush again.
For roughly three weeks, he’d stay away from any forms of Taeyong—voice, shadow, breath, whole existence—unless it was inevitable. He would turn around and take longer routes to get to his classrooms especially whenever Taeyong’s in sight. Sometimes Taeyong would call him but he would push it at the back of his head and remind himself it was just his imagination. He’d stay longer in the dorms whenever the Slytherins were out. Classes where Ravenclaws and Slytherins shared were the most difficult to deal with: Potions, Charms, Transfiguration, and History of Magic. He’d show up just seconds before the professor would arrive. Then he’d leave as soon as he’d hear the word “dismissed.” His distance from Taeyong could be a relief since he’d sit in front and Taeyong would take the back seat but there were moments when he could feel Taeyong looking at him. It felt a mixture of nice, scary, and uncomfortable.
Taeyong’s friends were no good either. Jaehyun would hear them tease not him, thankfully, but Taeyong, unluckily. They’d jokingly quote the howler message: “You probably are confused and surprised right now,” or “I think you're the best chaser I've ever seen,” or "I always see the incredibly sweet side of you.”. Taeyong would try to stop them, to Jaehyun’s delight, but he’d laugh with them, too, albeit awkwardly which makes the whole teasing ordeal just as embarrassing as any horrible teasing could get.
Thankfully, his Ravenclaw friends weren’t much of assholes like the Slytherin. Except for that one day when their prefect Moon Taeil went to him and said, “Muggles have these non-intimidating instructional manuals. It was great and I thought this would help you,” before handing him a book wrapped in a paper, hearts drawn over it. Taeil was gone before Jaehyun could speak. He opened it. It said “Love for Dummies.”
The biggest alteration in his schedule however was his weekly habit of watching the Slytherin Quidditch Team’s practice games. These were usually open to anyone and there were students from houses other than Slytherin who would watch. Blending in well with the non-Slytherins, he’d sit with them silently throughout the game, watching Taeyong from afar and holding back the temptation to cheer for him. Besides, the other Ravenclaws could see him and that would be a problem for him.
Doyoung came yelling Jaehyun’s name he could hear his voice come from the common room in the dorms. Jaehyun, who was already playing (read: talking to) a toy hippogriff in his boredom, stood up. He opened the door, Doyoung entered, and they almost crashed.
Jaehyun stepped back. “So, did I get an A on for accidentally changing Hansol’s ears?” He was talking about his Transfiguration class early this morning when they were supposed to transform cauldrons into birds but he saw Taeyong smiling at him. It was extremely distracting he didn’t realize his wand was pointed at Hansol's face instead so the poor Gryffindor’s ears turned into eagle wings.
“No,” Doyoung shook his head. “But listen. Two good news. Hansol got his ears back although he stayed afloat for fifteen minutes thanks to you.”
Jaehyun nodded. “That’s a relief, I guess? What’s the other?”
“Taeyong was looking for you.”
Doyoung’s smile widened. “He was looking for you! He approached me after their Quidditch practice. He was in his uniform by the way and I know you loved it on him but anyway, he said he wondered why you weren’t watching their practice games anymore.”
Jaehyun had a hand over his mouth.
“Dude.” Hands shook his shoulders. Doyoung was now grinning. “He knew you watched him play!”
“How could he know?”
“Because you always watch their games?”
That was a pretty simple reason and a dumb thing to not realize. Jaehyun wasn’t actually sure what to feel about that (“Love makes people dumb,” he then remembered when he read Taeil’s book; that could be his excuse). He tried to be as discreet and silent when he’d sneak in the Quidditch pitch to see the Slytherin team play but apparently, he had been busted. His heart raced and he couldn’t think straight.
“Did he say something else?”
“I knew you’d ask,” Doyoung said. “He said if you still wanted to watch them play, he promised he’d show you a great game.”
The air suddenly felt warm around him, or it probably was just the rush of blood in his face. Jaehyun turned around, slowly walked back to his bed, and threw himself on it.
“Tomorrow, four in the afternoon. They got the pitch to themselves again. Poor Gryffindors I haven’t seen them practice since last week,” Doyoung sighed. “Not that I actually care right now. Come on, will you go or not? It’s Taeyong. You can’t say no to him, can you?”
Jaehyun, who had his face buried on one of his pillows, shook his head and mumbled. “I’m not sure.”
“Oh god,” with a hand on his forehead, Doyoung groaned. “Make up your mind!”
Jaehyun missed the practice game. It wasn’t his fault, really. He had Potions exams in the afternoon. At least Taeyong wasn’t there. The Quidditch team members were excused because of their practice schedule. Still, Jaehyun couldn’t get his mind out of missing the invitation.
He left the Dungeons confidently, knowing that he aced the exams. The teasing had died down and he had somehow gotten a little over his embarrassment from his Charms class so he finally managed to gather himself back on the academic track. Yet, despite the emotional recovery, he still couldn’t find the balls to face Taeyong. The horrible confession experience still haunted him.
Outside the Dungeons was the Entrance Hall, warm and full of people. Classes just ended and halls would be packed with students again. As Jaehyun went straight to the Grand Staircase Tower, Doyoung trailing behind him, he thought he heard somebody call his name. He ignored it, thinking he was just mishearing someone else’s conversation. But he heard it again, this time clearer and familiar. Doyoung was the first to see who it was. Jaehyun turned around.
It was Taeyong.
“Oh shit, oh shit.” Jaehyun tried to run. He couldn’t because there were too many students in the staircase. Taeyong was running, too, still in his Quidditch robes which looked just amazing on him. “What do I do?”
Doyoung shrugged and nonchalantly answered, “Stay?”
“What stay? You know I couldn’t talk to him—”
Taeyong had caught up on them. Now Jaehyun’s frozen and Doyoung’s excited.
He bent, hands on his knees, as he tried to catch his breath. He seemed to have come straight from their practice game just by looking at the stains still on his robes. He was sweaty, too, his messy hairs sticking to his forehead at which Jaehyun could only gulp because that was just attractively hot. When he raised his head, he looked straight at Jaehyun and smiled.
“Oh god, thank you. Please stop running away from me,” Taeyong said. Jaehyun looked at Doyoung who just raised his brows at him, then to Taeyong. He tried to respond but he could only part his lips, no sound coming out of his mouth.
“I know, I know,” Taeyong nodded, this time standing straight up. “It’s because of the other week. It was embarrassing, I understand.”
“Y-yes. It was,” Jaehyun muttered. His heartbeat was erratic both because of Taeyong’s presence and the anxiety that began to boil inside his chest. “I’m really sorry. I didn’t know I used a howler. I didn’t intend to… confess that way.”
Taeyong chuckled but said nothing. Instead, he pulled the left side of his robes and from its pockets fished out an envelope. He dusted it off a little before handing it to Jaehyun. With shaky hands and heart pounding so fast he had to breathe in, the latter took the envelope. Doyoung gasped, suggesting that this wasn’t just a normal envelope.
“What is this?” Jaehyun asked. It was red, with a ribbon laced around it. There’s a small sealing wax at the tip of the top flap and the whole thing glittered, not the kind that would stick to the hands, but it glimmered when light would hit its surface. This was an expensive envelope.
“My response,” Taeyong answered. His smile was proud and confident. “To your howler.”
Nope. This was an expensive howler.
Jaehyun opened it. He had no choice to begin with otherwise it would explode. He was unsure whether he was ready to hear what Taeyong had to say. If this was to embarrass him, especially when students were still gathered (and they would hear everything) in the hall, he would pass out. And probably ask Doyoung to put some curse on Taeyong’s seat so he would grow boils on his face.
The paper flew out of Jaehyun’s hold. He prepared his ears. It’s going to start.
It was loud as expected. Jaehyun jerked awkwardly and Doyoung almost slipped. Every student in the hall and on the staircase stalled. This was going to be news
“I hate you. I hate you because when you told me you like me, you ran away. You didn’t even let me talk or say what I wanted to say. I also hate you because you’ve been running away from me. I know it was a confession-plan-gone-bad and it was really embarrassing but after that, you treated me like I’m some sort of Skrewt ready to sting you dead.
But you know what, I hate myself more because I didn’t even try to comfort you. Like tell you “Don’t run! It’s okay!” or probably even run after you and tell you that your howler confession was one of the best confessions I’ve had. In fact, it was the one that I liked the most. Because it was a confession from the person I like, too.
Yes, Jaehyun. I like you. No. I think I actually love you. We don’t talk, you said. Now please let me talk. Let us talk. Let us hang out and visit Hogsmeade during weekends, dance at the Yule Ball this Christmas, or feed each other Hondeyduke candies because I think that’s sweet. Let me know you more. Let me learn things beyond the fact that you always ace our Potions exams, or create the best human transfigurations, or remember the names of Hogwarts’ headmasters since the beginning of time.
You said you think I’m a great Quidditch chaser. Thank you. But this time, now that I’m confessing back, and I’m showing you how I really feel, please tell me that you are a great catcher, too. Not of a Quaffle, but of my heart. Yes?
(Also, please don’t stop watching our practice games. I like it when you’re there. I really do.)”
The envelope ignited from the edges, consuming it whole as it turned into ashes. The silence that followed was reminiscent of his Charms class and the confession that he dreaded remembering. But this time, Jaehyun thought maybe he could have a change of heart. Maybe it wasn’t really as bad as he thought it was. And thanks to Taeyong, his humiliating howler experience just turned into a romantic one.
“Again, will you be a catcher?” Taeyong looked at Jaehyun with so much anticipation. Jaehyun, on the other hand, was unsure of what to do. His parted lips attempted for words but still, nothing came out.
Until Doyoung started clapping his hands. “Say yes! Say yes! Say yes!”
Jaehyun hissed a “shut up” between gritted teeth but the students that surrounded him followed Doyoung’s lead. He began laughing awkwardly as he shook his head, the redness of his cheeks covering the whole of his face. The chants grew louder, faster.
“Fine, fine!” Jaehyun shouted. The chanting trailed off to silence.
He looked at Taeyong. With one heavy, shaky sigh, he closed his eyes and spoke. “Yes.”
The crowd erupted to joyous screams and whistles. Doyoung even jumped, throwing an arm over Jaehyun’s shoulder as he pulled him to a tight embrace. The smile on Jaehyun’s face was the brightest and the biggest he had ever in his life. The cheers and the congratulatory messages felt wonderful—warm, bubbly and fuzzy—and he couldn’t believe this was happening to him.
Taeyong, who bore an equally satisfied smile, walked closer. He cleared his throat. Doyoung, who still had his arm over Jaehyun’s shoulder, didn’t catch it until Taeyong’s second signal. “Oops, sorry.”
Jaehyun went down from the first step of the staircase. Taeyong inched closer and as soon as the distance between them was close enough for a hug, they wrapped themselves in each other’s arms. It was warm and perfect. His discomfort and awkwardness suddenly dissipating. No worries, no fear of rejection, and everything felt surreal.
When they broke, Taeyong poked Jaehyun’s forehead. “You got me scared there. I thought you’d say no.” Jaehyun chuckled. He was still speechless.
“So uhm, we’re still practicing actually.” Taeyong continued. “Would you like to watch me play? I know you don’t have any class right now.”
“I guess—” Jaehyun felt a strong nudge on his side. Doyoung glared at him. “Yes. Sure. I can. I will.”
A number of students began asking them to kiss only to be disappointed when Taeyong and Jaehyun left without giving in to their teasing. They’d reach that point in the near future but not now. Besides, two loud public confessions in a month should be more than enough for the school’s romance news. A kiss would spoil Hogwarts. Perhaps it could come next month.