The powdery snow gently fell around Regulus as he walked along one of the paths he knew by heart, coating all surfaces in sight in a thin white layer.
It was a soft and slow winter afternoon, perfect for an early afternoon stroll before heading back to the common room with a book and curling up by the fire.
He left footprints in the soft snow as he trailed down the path, near the Herbology gardens.
He turned the corner and saw a figure wearing a Gryffindor scarf standing a little ways away. He quietly sighed, not wanting to deal with side glares and the feud that could potentially arise and was debating to turn around when he finally realized who it was.
Soft pillowy black hair, dark skin, red robes, and all six feet of him.
Of course, he had to be here. Just my luck.
Regulus rolled his eyes. It could’ve been anyone in Hogwarts but of course it had to be James Freakin' Potter. He would’ve preferred his brother, or perhaps one of his cousins he was supposed to marry.
Don’t turn around, don’t turn around, Regulus repeated in his head, as if the more he thought it the more likely it was to come true.
Don’t turn around, don’t turn around, don’t turn-he turned around.
James started to turn around, shoving something that looked like a blank piece of parchment into his robes, and Regulus quickly spun on his heel and started as fast as he could through the snow.
Judging by the fact that James was now chasing after him and calling his name, he was not fast enough.
When James neared and Regulus obviously wasn’t getting away, he sighed, wondering why he put up with Potter’s antics, but stopped anyway.
“Hey!” Inferring by how close James’ voice sounded he was standing right behind him.
Regulus rolled his eyes before turning around and being nearly blinded by James’ beaming smile.
Regulus had always thought him handsome-not that he would ever admit it out loud- because it was James Potter and who wouldn’t think that?
His hazel eyes were practically sparkling as he looked at Regulus, as if it was Christmas morning and he had just woken up to find the brand new Quidditch broom he had wanted under the tree.
His smile was about a thousand miles wide and the dying sun illuminated him from the back, which Regulus thought quite odd. Everywhere James seemed to go, the sun was always glittering off of him, like he was a magnet for its warmth and light. Regulus thought it a strange metaphor.
“How are you?” James asked, grinning brightly.
To say Regulus was shocked was an understatement.
James Potter did not seem the type for small talk, settling for being brutally honest and, well, James Potter, which was why Regulus was confused as to why James would ask him something like that, especially considering who he was and their history. Or lack thereof.
“Excuse me?” Regulus couldn’t help but voice his surprise.
“How are you?” James repeated, his smile not fading. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen you. How’s your Potions going? Still one of the top students in your year?” He moved his shoulder slightly to bump against Regulus’.
Regulus blinked. Once, then twice. “I’ve been...fine.” Regulus said slowly, thinking it’ll end the conversation quicker and he can get back to his dorm room.
If it was possible Regulus would have said James’ smile grew but as it was already nearly blinding, like the sun reflecting off the snow, Regulus didn’t think it was possible.
“Good! That’s good! Glad to hear it!” James rocked back and forth on the heels of his shoes, hands in his robe pockets.
Regulus slowly nodded once, before turning to go.
“I’ve been good too.” James explained without being asked to, falling in stride with Regulus.
Regulus exhaled through his nose, wanting to see if there was a way he could get James to leave him alone or stop talking.
“I’m excited for Christmas break. The others and I have got something really special planned.” James winked at him and Regulus wondered if he was dreaming. Only a really strange potion could create something as odd as this scenario.
“I didn’t ask.” Regulus said.
James ignored him and kept talking.
“So what are you doing with your break? Got anything special planned? Anything you’re excited for?”
“Getting away from you.” Regulus commented as he turned the corner, walking into the castle.
James laughed. “Aw, come on, Reggie, I’m not that bad!” He exclaimed.
Regulus stopped in his tracks and glared at James, “Do not call me Reggie.”
“Alright, Reg.” James said, still fucking smiling. Merlin, did he ever stop? Was his face permanently stuck like that?
Regulus sighed, annoyed but continued ahead, upping his pace, hoping James would just leave him alone.
“So do you have any plans for break?” James asked again.
Regulus stopped abruptly, turning around to glare at James, “Why do you care?”
James stepped forward, leaning close, smile turning into a small smug smirk, “Because I do.”
Regulus was slightly taken back.
“W-well, you shouldn’t.”
Salazar, why’d I’d have to stutter? It doesn’t even make any sense!
“And why not?” He took another step forward and this time Regulus took two back.
“Because it doesn’t make any sense.”
That answer doesn’t make any sense. Regulus chided himself.
But then again, it doesn’t make sense to him. Why should James care about what he does with his holidays? It’s not on his time. They’re not friends. He’s just the estranged brother of his best friend. He’s nothing special.
“Besides, shouldn’t you be standing on tables and shouting love confessions across the room at Evans?” Regulus said, trying to change the subject.
James leaned back and Regulus felt his chest constrict in a weird way, his blinding smile returned. “Why? Jealous, Black?” He teased.
Regulus rolled his eyes, “Why on earth would I be jealous of Lily?”
James’ eyes lit up, and he smirked. Regulus definitely hadn’t meant to imply that.
He needed to leave. Now.
“I have to go.” And without elaborating Regulus turned and walked down the hallway, turning the corner, silently wondering what was wrong with him and why he let James Potter of all people have this effect on him.
He shook the thoughts from his head, it’s not like he would ever have to deal with them again so why dwell on the past?
He really wanted his book.
Over the course of the next few weeks James stopped him in random hallways and chatted like everything was normal.
Regulus wasn’t even sure how he found him half the time. He’d taken to using backway hallways and secret passageways to get to his classes. But sure enough James Potter was always there, popping up at the most randomest of times, smiling widely and asking how his day was going.
He’d even written to him over break, wishing him a Happy Christmas and New Year.
No matter where he turned James just seemed to always be there. At first it was confusing and Regulus was completely weirded out by James’ sudden interest in him, but as time went on he just got more annoyed.
It even got to the point where he’d took to talking to his brother. He had marched up to him after dinner one day in an empty hallway. “Look, you need to get your mate to lay off.”
“Huh?” Sirius had looked at him with an expression mixed with shock, that Regulus actively sought him out, and confusion, with what he was actually talking about.
“Don’t act like you don’t know! At first it was confusing and weird but now I’m just annoyed, so please, for the love of Merlin, tell James to leave me alone!” He turned on his heel and left after that, not bothering to stay behind and listen to the confused noises Sirius was making that sounded strangely like a dog.
But that hadn’t worked either. Although, it did earn a few more glances in the Great Hall from his brother than he usually got.
Whether that was a good or bad thing, Regulus didn’t know.
Regulus couldn’t deny that some part of him actually enjoyed the conversations with James. If you could call them conversations. Mostly James just rambled on about his day and Regulus occasionally threw in a snarky remark that made James laugh which spread tingles throughout Regulus’ body.
Regulus did like the fact that James seeked him out so much and actually seemed to care about him and how he was doing. He made him feel important. But Regulus was never one to be considered stupid. He knew this could very well be a prank or a small part in a grand scheme. He could’ve been reporting back to Sirius, ‘ Well, he’s not a Death Eater yet!’ . He could’ve been trying to use Regulus or gain his trust and then betray him but it was the fact that James seemed so sincere and Regulus was always one to be able to tell when someone was lying.
Everyone had their own tick and Regulus could usually spot them pretty easily but he never did with James. He tried, he focused all his attention on him, just looking for one little thing out of place but it usually just ended with James laughing at him for zoning out.
‘ Got your eye on something, Reg? ’ He’d tease and Regulus always had to resist the urge to punch him in the face.
Regulus thought that maybe he was too close, that he wasn’t noticing James’ tick on purpose, the fact that he didn’t want James to be lying. He always had a soft spot for the boy, ever since he was ten and Sirius came home for Christmas break with a big smile on his face and told him about the excited black-haired boy he met on the train who taught him so much.
But no even if he was purposely ignoring James’ tick, he would’ve noticed eventually, especially after a few weeks but still. Nothing.
Still, no matter what happened or what he did or what Regulus thought, James Potter still showed up and talked his ear off.
There was even one day where James had passed him in the morning before breakfast. ‘ Don’t drink anything this morning. ’ He had whispered in his ear, sending shivers down his spine and Barty to cast a weird look at him when he tugged at his tie to loosen it up.
Regulus for some reason had listened and he can’t say he was exactly surprised when he was suddenly surrounded by a table of Dumbledores wearing green robes.
James had winked at him from across the hall before fist bumping his brother.
Regulus had just narrowed his eyes, wondering if there was all an explanation for this.
He had been the only Slytherin student in class that day.
About a week after the breakfast incident James had started walking him to his classes.
It started on Monday and somehow James succeeded in always being there before class even ended.
Regulus had no idea how he found out his schedule but he had a feeling it had something to do with Lupin and the day he came up to him in the library. He seemed apologetic and Regulus couldn’t say he didn’t feel sorry for the Gryffindor boy. James and Sirius were a lot to handle on their own. He couldn’t imagine hanging out with them 24/7, let alone date one of them!
His brain started and Regulus immediately stopped that thought.
Nope, he had never imagined dating James. Not even for a second. Most definitely not.
Regulus felt the need to clear his throat, even though he wasn’t speaking.
No, he needed to focus on his potion. He had been thinking so much lately he had been getting distracted in class and had to pick up notes from Barty multiple times.
He really needed to get a grip.
Although, how can one stop thinking about James Potter?