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The Line That Separates Us

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Jaebum and Jinyoung were inseparable from the moment the Im family moved to Upper Flagley.  Jinyoung’s mom sent Jinyoung to the Im residence with homemade pumpkin pasties to welcome the Im family into the neighborhood the day after they moved in.   Seven-year-old Jinyoung was bowled over by eight-year-old Jaebum zooming down the lane on his toy broom and all of the pasties were ruined before Jinyoung even set foot through the door.  Jaebum’s mom promptly stormed out before Jinyoung even had a chance to get up and scolded Jaebum for “having the brains of a troll”, “disregarding the statute of secrecy” and “being a danger to himself and others” and then forbid him from playing with his toy broomstick for a month.  Jinyoung got up and meekly tried to tell Ms. Im that his mom wanted to welcome them to the neighborhood and he could run back home to get some more that weren’t crushed, but he was cut off by Jaebum laughing at him because he had chunks of smashed pumpkin pasty stuck to his cheek and in his hair.

From that day on Jinyoung spent practically every day being dragged along on crazy adventures by Jaebum.  At first Jinyoung went along with all of Jaebum’s crazy schemes without complaint, but one day he adamantly refused to go into a fox den with Jaebum.  Jinyoung thought the idea was stupid and dangerous.  When Jaebum called him a chicken he lost his temper and accidently set Jaebum’s hair on fire.  Jinyoung’s mom was torn between anger and pride that her son has shown his first signs of magic.   When she explained the situation to Ms. Im she laughed and assured Ms. Park that she was sure her son had deserved it as she smeared burn cream across Jaebum’s newly bald scalp.  After that Jaebum was considerably more wary when trying to persuade Jinyoung to indulge him in his crazy schemes.

 

*

 

When Jaebum leaves for Hogwarts a year before Jinyoung Jinyoung goes to King’s Cross to see him off.  He already asked Jaebum’s mom if she could make Jaebum wait a year and start with Jinyoung when he’s old enough, but she just shook her head and told him that’s not how it works.  As a last resort he wrote to the headmaster, begging him to let Jinyoung start a year early and pointing out that he’ll be eleven too in a few weeks so it’s not really much of a stretch.  He gets a letter back telling him bemusedly that he’s too young to start school.  Jaebum sticks his head out the train window and waves goodbye to Jinyoung as he furiously wipes tears out of his eyes with the sleeve of his oversized cardigan. 

Jaebum writes to him every week, telling him all about how he had been sorted into Gryffindor and how great his house is, what professors he likes, which ones he hates, and how he failed quidditch tryouts but would definitely make the team next year.  He also tells Jinyoung all about his new friend Jackson, a fellow Gryffindor. Jinyoung likes hearing about Jaebum’s adventures at school, but he can’t help but feeling a twinge of jealously in his gut when Jaebum refers to Jackson as his “best friend”.

            But when Jaebum comes home for summer break it’s as if no time has passed and they go traipsing around the countryside just like before.  One day, after scaling the willow tree by the stream behind Jaebum’s house they finally broach the subject of school.

            “I can’t wait to show you the common room!” Jaebum tells Jinyoung excitedly, “usually the upperclassmen hog the best armchairs by the fire in the evenings, but if you’re lucky you can nab one sometimes…”  Jinyoung smiles back at him and nods, but then a worrisome thought creeps into the back of his mind.

            “What if I’m not in Gryffindor?” he asks, trying to be casual, playing with a willow bough so he has an excuse not to meet Jaebum’s eyes.

            “Of course you’ll be in Gryffindor! How could you be anything else!” Jaebum asserts with confidence. “And besides, all that really matters is that you aren’t in Slytherin, but you’re my friend so of course that’ll never happen!”  Jinyoung breathes out and closes his eyes, trying to be reassured.

 

 

            Jaebum goes with Jinyoung to Diagon Alley and helps him find all of his school books and potion ingredients.  He waits for Jinyoung as he tries out wand after wand at Ollivanders before finally finding the right one (aspen and unicorn hair, twelve inches).  Once the two boys finally have everything they need, their parents take them to Florean Fortescue’s and they spend the rest of the afternoon eating ice cream and talking excitedly about the upcoming school year.

            “You have something on your face again!” Jaebum laughs when Jinyoung somehow manages to get mint ice cream all across his nose.  Jaebum wordlessly reaches over and wipes it off for him, smiling wide.  Despite all the nervous thoughts pounding through his head regarding starting school, in that moment Jinyoung is happy.

 

*

 

            Jinyoung meets Jackson on platform 9 ¾ when Jaebum introduces him to Jackson as “the kid that lives next door to me”.  Jinyoung can’t help but feel a slight twinge in his gut at the words, but he assures himself that now that he’s at Hogwarts too it will be easy to re-cement his place as Jaebum’s best friend. 

            “He looks like he’s about to cry” Jackson states bluntly.  “Are you sure he’s eleven?”  Jinyoung chooses to pretend to have forgotten something and rushes back towards his mom.

            “He’s just shy,” he overhears Jaebum say has he walks away.  “Once you get to know him you’ll understand.”

            The three of them share a compartment on the train.  Jaebum buys them Bertie Bott’s beans and chocolate frogs to share.  Jinyoung has to suppress a laugh when one of the chocolate frogs hops into Jackson’s chattering mouth unexpectedly and makes him cough and splutter.  He tries to pull out a muggle novel his uncle gave him midway through the trip, when he decides reading would be more fun than listening to Jackson’s stupid banter, but hastily shoves it back into his trunk when Jackson states that Jinyoung seems like “a nerd who will be Ravenclaw for sure”.  Jinyoung spends the rest of the trip gazing absently out the train window, watching the countryside flash by.  Just when he thinks the train ride will never end it’s time to change into robes and in a blink of an eye the train is pulling into Hogsmeade station.

            Jinyoung hastily bids goodbye to Jaebum before he is ushered away to join the other first years for the traditional boat journey across the lake.  Before he’s completely swept away by the crowd Jaebum grabs his hand and squeezes it.

            “You’ll be fine, don’t worry so much,” Jaebum whispers in his ear.  Jinyoung keeps his gaze on Jaebum as he drifts away in the crown, and just before he completely lost sight of Jinyoung, Jaebum turns back and yells “see you at the feast!”

 

*

 

Jinyoung is too nervous to speak to any of the other first years as they make their way across the lake and up to the castle.  He thinks he’s surely going to throw up as he waits his turn to be sorted.  His stomach lurches when his name was called, and it’s hard not to tremble as he make his way up to the stool.  His eyes find Jaebum next to Jackson at the Gryffindor table.  Jaebum meets his gaze and smiles, nodding reassuringly. Jinyoung takes a deep breath and closes his eyes as the sorting hat is lowered on to his head.  Jinyoung doesn’t have time to take another breath or think before the hat shouts out his fate with unwavering certainty.  Jinyoung’s heart leaps into his throat and his face burns.  Everything was leading up to this one make-or-break moment and it had gone horribly, horribly wrong.

“Slytherin!”

The hall seems to stand still for a split second before the Slytherin table erupts in thunderous applause. Jinyoung opens his eyes and looks at the faces of his new house.  They don’t seem bad, maybe Jaebum had just misjudged them, maybe now that Jinyoung is a Slytherin Jaebum will understand…  He looks back to the Gryffindor table.  Jaebum is talking to Jackson, pointedly looking away from Jinyoung.  Jinyoung’s heart sinks.  He slumps over to the Slytherin table with his eyes down, someone pats him on the back to congratulate him as he slides into his seat but he barely feels it.  He spends the rest of the evening numbly shoving food into his mouth and doesn’t even bother to introduce himself to the other first year Slytherins when he settles into his dorm.

 

For the first few weeks Jinyoung tries to talk to Jaebum.  He looks for him in the corridors between classes and tries to find him during breaks.  He wishes that the castle wasn’t so darn huge, because looking for Jaebum gets him lost on multiple occasions.  Jinyoung doesn’t make any friends in Slytherin, partially because he’s shy and partially because he thinks that maybe Jaebum will forgive him if he pretends to hate his Slytherin too.  On September the 22nd he finds the courage to approach Jaebum at the Gryffindor table at breakfast, hoping that Jaebum might find it in his heart to forgive Jinyoung because it’s his birthday.  Not that Jinyoung ever did anything to instigate Jaebum’s anger anyway.  Jinyoung clears his throat once he’s standing right behind where Jaebum and Jackson are sitting.  Jaebum whips around and to meet his eyes and Jinyoung smiles tentatively.

“What do you want?” Jackson demands aggressively when he realizes what’s happening.

“I just…” Jinyoung starts, but then realizes he never planned out what he was going to say anyway.

“Don’t talk to me, traitor.” Jaebum tells him harshly and turns back to his food.  Jinyoung runs out of the Great Hall, trying his best to be angry instead of sad.

 

*

 

Despite his lacking social life, Jinyoung excels in his classes.  He gets top marks on his first tests, making his mom so happy she says she’ll buy him an owl if he keeps up the good work.  He spends most of his free time studying in the library or, when the weather’s nice, walking through the grounds.  Even though he’s stopped ignoring the other Slytherin first years he doesn’t make friends with them because most of them have already made other friends or think he’s stuck up because of his good grades.  Some of them start paying him to help them with their homework now and again, and he starts making a few galleons a week.

 

One day when Jinyoung is taking a break from studying to walk around the grounds he meets Mark Tuan, a soft spoken Ravenclaw a year older than Jinyoung who spends almost as much time in the library as he does.  Jinyoung approaches Mark he sees him walking a fluffy white dog on the grounds.

“I thought you were only allowed to have owls, cats, or toads?”  Jinyoung asks as he stoops to pet Mark’s dog. 

“That’s what the letter said, but when I asked if I could bring Coco the school said it wasn’t a problem.”  Mark tells him.  “I actually raised him with my friend Youngjae.  Youngjae was heartbroken when I got the okay to take Coco to school with me, since he won’t start for another two years.  I’ve been sending him letters and pictures of Coco every week.”

Jinyoung doesn’t look up, thinking about all the letters Jaebum sent him last year.  He hopes that Youngjae won’t suffer the same fate as he did, shunned by his best friend for being sorted into the wrong house.  After a moment he looks up at Mark’s serenely smiling face.  Mark doesn’t seem like the type to cut off a friend over something so petty.

“I’m Park Jinyoung.” He introduces himself after a few moments of silence.

“Mark Tuan.”  Mark replies and shakes his hand.  “Park Jinyoung… Oh! You’re that Slytherin first year all the teachers have been raving about!” Jinyoung tenses when Mark says Slytherin, for a moment fearing that Mark will hate him for it too, but relaxes when he realizes Mark is praising him.

“I guess so,” he says awkwardly.

 

From that moment onward Mark is his new best friend.  They study together in the library and Jinyoung accompanies Mark when he takes Coco out for walks, even when the weather is rainy and horrible.  He learns that Mark is the Ravenclaw quidditch team’s new seeker, and he shows up to the matches to cheer his friend on.  Jinyoung feels especially happy for his friend when Ravenclaw wins by a landslide against Gryffindor, Mark easily outstripping Jackson, who somehow became Gryffindor’s seeker, and expertly dodging all every bludger Jaebum hits towards him.

After the match Jinyoung rushes over to Mark to congratulate him.  Mark beams at him.  “I’m really getting the hang of quidditch!” He tells Jinyoung.  “Maybe someday I’ll make quidditch captain!”

“I’m sure you will!” Jinyoung assures him, patting him on the back and doing his best to ignore Jaebum and Jackson sulking by. 

Jinyoung thinks they’re gone when he hears Jackson sneer, “did your friend tamper with the snitch so it would fly to you, Tuan?”  Mark and Jinyoung turn around sharply.

“Of course I didn’t,” Jinyoung tells Jackson coldly. “Did you confund the Gryfinndor captain to get him to let you on the team?”

Jinyoung knows he’s gone too far when he sees the rage in Jaebum’s eyes.  He reaches for his wand in his back pocket as Jaebum does the same.

“Tarentellegra!”

“Mucus ad Nauseam!”

Jaebum’s curse misses Jinyoung by a wide margin, hitting the ground harmlessly.  Jinyoung’s aim is better. His jinx hits Jaebum squarly in the chest, causing his legs to dance wildly out of control.  Jinyoung enjoys a moment of triumph before he hears the reprimands of a professor.

“Park! Im!  No dueling in the grounds!”  Professor Choi shouts at them.  “Detention for both of you!”  He turns to Jinyoung, “Mr. Im has had his share of scuffs, but I expected better from you Mr. Park!”  Jinyoung feels his face burn.  Normally he would feel ashamed, but just now his insides are still seething with rage at Jaebum.

 

*

 

For their detention they’re assigned to scrub the floor of the potions dungeon without magic.  Jinyoung grits his teeth as he looks down at the stains and smudge of countless potion spills and accidents over the years.  It looks like no one has cleaned the floor in recent memory.  He sighs heavily then bends down to grab a sponge.  He’s on his hands and knees mid scrub when Jaebum clears his throat to get Jinyoung’s attention.  Jinyoung looks up.  Jaebum hasn’t picked up a sponge and is staring at him with an expression that Jinyoung can’t read.

“What?”  Jinyoung asks pointedly.

Jaebum sighs and narrows his eyes at Jinyoung.  “I just don’t get you.”  He murmurs quietly.  Jinyoung almost thinks that he sounds more curious than angry, but this is Jaebum, and when in the last few months has Jaebum ever showed anything other than resentment towards him.  Jinyoung doesn’t respond apart from raising an eyebrow and flicking his eyes towards the bucket of soap and water and sponges, signaling for Jaebum to get to work instead of lazing about staring at him.  Jaebum takes the hint and gets scrubbing.

The minutes tick by slowly and agonizingly.  Jinyoung looks up at the clock multiple times thinking that they must be nearly done only to see that it hasn’t even been an hour.  Eventually, Jinyoung is feeling bored and stupid and brave enough to try to talk to Jaebum.

“I still don’t know what I ever did to make you hate me this much,” Jinyoung says into the gloom.  Jaebum lets out a humorless laugh and doesn’t reply.  Jinyoung wants to scream or cry or throw himself at Jaebum and punch every inch of him, but in the end he just laughs too.  “I was an idiot to ever be your friend,” Jinyoung continues, proud of the fact that his voice isn’t shaking.  “All those years of hanging around you thinking you were decent only to find out what an asshole you are at school.”  If Jinyoung’s mom heard him talk like this she would be furious, but he thinks he’s justified to call Jaebum such ugly words.  “I’m glad I didn’t get sorted into Gryffindor.  I can’t imagine still calling an idiot like you my friend.” 

Jaebum looks up and seems like he’s about to say something, but at that moment Professor Choi enters the Dungeon and dismisses them.  As they walk into the corridor Jaebum looks like he wants Jinyoung to wait and hear what he has to say, but Jinyoung can’t bring himself to care and quickly turns the corner away from Jaebum and heads back to the Slytherin common room.

 

Jinyoung and Jaebum stay clear of each other after that.  Jinyoung still boos the Gryffindors at quidditch matches every chance he gets, but Jackson doesn’t dare to provoke him again.  Over Christmas break Jinyoung’s mom suggests inviting the Ims over for dinner, to which Jinyoung quietly says “Jaebum and I aren’t friends anymore.”  Jinyoung’s mom doesn’t prod him any further and just tells one of his sisters to make some tea before giving Jinyoung a hug to express all the sentiments words can’t convey.

At the end of the year Slytherin wins the house cup and Jinyoung can’t help but feel a surge of triumph when Gryffindor comes in last.  He can’t help but steal a glance over at the Gryffindor table to see the disappointment on Jaebum and Jackson’s faces.

 

*

 

Over the summer Jinyoung visits Mark in Godric’s Hollow and meets Youngjae.  Youngjae is exactly like Mark described him, sweet, cheerful, innocent, and sincere.  The three of them go on lots of walks with Coco and play quidditch in Mark’s garden.  Jinyoung and Youngjae are both terrible, so Mark wins every game.  Eventually they stop because Youngjae almost throws up from queasiness after attempting a sharp dive.  Jinyoung starts doting on Youngjae just like Mark does and Youngjae sees the two of them as older brothers.  On evening after Youngjae goes home for the night Mark confesses that he really wants Youngjae to be in Ravenclaw with him but he has the sneaking suspicion that Youngjae will be a Hufflepuff.

“You’ll accept whatever house he’s in though, right?”  Jinyoung asks tentatively.

“Of course,” Mark laughs.  “It’ll be annoying figuring out who Coco will stay with though.” He says smiling.  Jinyoung blinks and tries not to think about Jaebum.

 

Jinyoung’s second year passes without incident; he still doesn’t have any friends in his own house but he has Mark. Youngjae even starts writing to him on occasion so he’s never really lonely.  He still takes care to avoid Jaebum in the corridors even though he hasn’t really interacted with him at all in months.  Slytherin wins the house cup again and Jinyoung can’t help but feel that his stellar grades contributed significantly.

Youngjae is sorted into Hufflepuff just like Mark predicted when he arrives at Hogwarts the following year.  Mark pats him on the back as he makes his way to the Hufflepuff table and Jinyoung shoots him a grin across the great hall.  When Jinyoung turns back and sees the faces of his own house he realizes he can’t remember the names of half of them, let alone the ones that just joined.  He feels a small twinge of guilt when he looks at their fresh young faces.

Jinyoung is studying alone in the library one day when one of the Slytherin first years approaches him.  He’s surprised at first, but taken by the earnest look in the young boy’s eyes.

“I’m Kunpimook.” The first year introduces himself. “Kunpimook Bhuwakul, but you can just call me Bambam.”  He smiles apologetically, “I know my name’s hard to say.”

Apparently Bambam has heard all about Jinyoung’s good grades and test scores and wants Jinyoung to be his personal tutor.  When Jinyoung tells him that he doesn’t do tutoring anymore Bambam refuses to listen.  He shadows Jinyoung through the corridors between classes, in the common room, and in great hall at meals until he accepts.  He follows his old business model and first and has Bambam pay him a monthly, but Bambam grows on him and he finds himself telling Bambam that they’re friends so he doesn’t need to pay him to help when Bambam tries to give him money.  It’s nice to finally have a friend in his house, Jinyoung doesn’t have to eat meals alone at the Slytherin table now that he has Bambam.  Mark and Youngjae accept Bambam begrudgingly, at first finding him annoying but slowly growing to like him.

“I want to try out for quidditch next year!” Bambam tells them one day in the midst of studying in a quiet corner of the library.  “You’ll give me some tips, right Mark?”

“Nope.”  Mark answers without looking up from his book.  “I’m too busy preparing for OWLs next year and my teammates would be angry if I helped train someone from another house.”

Bambam pouts, but Mark remains unmoved.  “Fine,” Bambams huffs after ten minutes of pleading to no avail. “I’ll go ask Jackson from Gryffindor! He looks cooler than you when he plays anyway!”

Jinyoung gasps in disbelief.  “Why would you even want to talk to Jackson?  Mark beats him every time they play!”  Jinyoung huffs.

“He’s still better than any of the players from our house!” Bambam insists.

“Yeah, but he’s an ass.” Jinyoung rebutts.

“How do you know?” Bambam argues.  “You don’t even know him.”  Jinyoung stares at Bambam in stony silence, not wanting explain the grim happenings of his first year.

“He and Jaebum helped me pick up my books when I tripped over my shoelaces in the corridor last week,” Youngjae pipes up.  “They seem alright, Jaebum always says hi when I run into him around the castle.”

Once Jaebum’s name is mentioned Jinyoung can’t take it anymore and he shoves his books into his bag and storms away to his common room.  When Bambam comes looking for him in his dorm later he pretends to be asleep.  Mark must have said something about the Jaebum situation to Youngjae and Bambam because they’re careful to avoid the subject from that moment on.  Jinyoung doesn’t say anything when he catches Youngjae chatting to Jaebum in the corridor on several occasions throughout the year.  Youngjae has the grace to look mildly guilty each time, but never apologizes for talking to Jinyoung’s arch nemesis.  Mark and Jackson seem almost friendly toward each other when Ravenclaw plays Gryffindor a few weeks later, Jinyoung is surprised by the change, remembering Jackson’s rude jabs at Mark’s quidditch ability two years previously.  He chooses to shrug the new development off, reasoning that Mark can be friends with whoever he wants as long as he doesn’t invite Jackson to their study sessions in the library.

 

*

 

Over the summer Jinyoung is pleasantly surprised when Youngjae turns up at his house out of the blue.  But when Youngjae admits that he’s in Upper Flagley because he’s visiting Jaebum, Jinyoung doesn’t know how to react.  Luckily, Jinyoung’s mother rescues him from trying to find a polite way to respond by aggressively ushering Youngjae and insisting that any friend of Jinyoung’s simply must join them for tea.  Jinyoung can’t deny that it’s nice to see Youngjae, whatever the circumstances.  His mother takes a shine to him too and tells him to drop by whenever he wants, but when Youngjae mentions he’s staying with the Im family Jinyoung’s mother just has to say “Bring Jaebum over with you next time! I haven’t seen him in forever!”

Jinyoung feels like the floor has disappeared from underneath him when he hears the sound of Jaebum’s name.  He must not look good, because Youngjae looks at him with more concern than guilt.  His voice shakes as he softly says “Please don’t.”

Youngjae clears his throat, taking the awkwardness as his cue to leave and warmly bids Jinyoung’s mother farewell and assures her that he’ll stop by again.  As the door shuts Jinyoung hears his mother turn to him and feels her gently place her hand on his shoulder.

“You can’t stay mad at Jaebum forever, honey” she tells him gently.  Jinyoung tenses and shifts away.

“I’m going to start on my summer homework” he announces awkwardly as he stands up and heads to his room.  That night he doesn’t come down to supper when his mother calls him down, and she doesn’t come to his room to drag him out.

 

*

 

Jinyoung goes through a growth spurt that summer.  He’s happy to be getting taller, but feels annoyed when he realizes he’ll have to buy new robes.  He’s also a bit disappointed that his shoulders remain narrow and that he hasn’t put on any muscles.  He feels like a beanpole when he walks into Madame Malkin’s to get fitted for new robes.  Mark’s grown just as much as he has and is right beside him also getting fitted when Jackson and Jaebum stroll into Madame Malkin’s.

The first thing Jinyoung registers is how much broader Jaebum’s shoulders have gotten since the last time Jinyoung laid eyes on him.  Jaebum has also clearly gained more than a couple of inches over summer as well.  When he flicks his eyes up to Jaebum’s face he notices that Jaebum has multiple piercings in each ear.  Jinyoung is at best lanky and awkward at his new height, but the extra growth seems to suit Jaebum.  He looks stylish and chic with his new big metal earrings and broad shoulders.

Jackson wastes no time in greeting Mark enthusiastically and throwing his arm over the elder’s shoulder.  Jinyoung doesn’t miss the slight blush on Mark’s cheeks.  He had already begun to suspect that Mark might be nursing a crush, but he still feels a little let down when indisputable evidence is displayed before his eyes.  The situation is only worse because Mark’s attention being fixated on Jackson’s flirtions means that Jinyoung is left to stand awkwardly next to Jaebum, trying his best to avoid eye contact.

When their fitting is done Mark is still engrossed in chatting with Jackson so Jinyoung clicks his tongue to tell Mark that it’s time to leave.  Mark doesn’t pick up on the sign, but Jackson is more observant and pats Mark on the back saying, “you shouldn’t keep Jinyoung waiting.  I’ll see you at school.”  Mark smiles and nods.  They’re walking out of the shop when Jaebum speaks to Jinyoung for the first time in years.

“Bye Mark. Bye Jinyoung.” Jaebums says blandly.  “See you at school.”

Part of Jinyoung wants to whip around and start shouting at Jaebum.  What right does he have to act casual and friendly with Jinyoung after cutting him off three years ago? If he wanted their friendship back he should have apologized lightyears earlier.  Jinyoung sighs and quickens his pace out of the shop.  He doesn’t want to cause a scene.

Jinyoung doesn’t say anything when he notices Jaebum peak into the window their compartment as he walks down the train.  Mark is a prefect now, and thus has to sit in the prefects’ carriage and patrol the halls for most of the journey.  Jinyoung feels old sitting next to Bambam and Youngjae.  With Mark around he always felt like he had someone to turn to for support, but now that he’s temporarily the oldest person in their group he feels like he has to act more responsible. Bambam is prattling on about his chances at making the Slytherin team while Youngjae keeps asking him how he doesn’t get scared from flying so high.

“Once I make the team I’ll make sure our house stops embarrassing itself on the quidditch field!” Bambam brags.  “It’s humiliating to be in the house that only gets glory from nerds like Jinyoung!”

Jinyoung gives Bambam a loving smack.  “Maybe if you studying a bit harder you could make Slytherin proud too!” 

“There are ways of winning renown apart from grades!” Bambam insists.  “Jackson says I’m already better than half the players on our team!”

Jinyoung feels himself stiffen.  Since when are Bambam and Jackson on speaking terms?  Mark and Jackson’s friendship is something Jinyoung is slowly learning to accept, and Jackson has been civil to Jinyoung since he got close to Mark, but Jinyoung was still under the impression that Jackson disliked Slytherins.  Considering Bambam’s Slytherin status and strong personality Jinyoung had thought that Jackson might beat up Bambam if he tried as much as talking to the Gryffindor.  Jinyoung takes a deep breath, wishing Mark was there to mediate the situation. 

“I didn’t know you knew Jackson, Bambam.”  He says evenly.  Youngjae glances between them, panic poorly concealed in his expression.

“He’s been teaching Yugyeomie and me how to play quidditch over the summer,” Bambam babbles on, completely missing the tension in Jinyoung shoulders and the worry in Youngjae’s eyes.  “Jaebum helped us too when he came to visit Jackson for a few weeks.  They both think Yugyeom will be the first first year to make a house team in twenty years.  I play way better than he does though.”

Jinyoung is left speechless for a moment at the mention of Jaebum’s name.  Why was Jaebum being so nice to Bambam?  Didn’t he hate Slytherins too? Was he planning on making friends with Bambam only to hurt him like he did Jinyoung?  It takes Jinyoung a moment to realize that Bambam and Youngjae are both watching him with concern.  A wave of guilt washes over him. It isn’t fair to make his juniors suffer because of his conflict with Jaebum. He shakes himself and smiles at Bambam.  “I’m sure you’ll make the team. You’ll have to introduce me to your friend Yugyeom.  If he’s in Slytherin maybe our team will actually win a few games this year.”

Youngjae and Bambam visibly relax and Bambam continues the conversation like the tension was never there.  “Jackson and Jaebum say he’ll be Gryffindor for sure,” Bambam sighs.  “But I really hope he’s Slytherin.”

At the sorting ceremony later in the evening, Yugyeom defies both Bambam and Jackson’s expectations and gets sorted into Hufflepuff.  Youngjae looks overjoyed as he scoots over to make room for Yugyeom on the bench and introduces himself enthusiastically.

 

*

 

Jinyoung isn’t surprised when Mark asks him if Jackson can join their study sessions in the library, but that doesn’t mean he’s willing to let him in.  At first he tells Mark that he’ll start studying in the Slytherin common room if Mark starts bringing Jackson along, but after weeks of pleading and gifts of his favorite sweets, he gives in and decides he’ll tolerate Jackson.

After a few weeks of enduring Jackson’s presence, Jinyoung has to admit he can’t hate Jackson anymore.  Mark likes him, Bambam practically worships him, Yugyeom thinks of him as an older brother, and Youngjae seems to be taking a shine to him too.  Jinyoung learns that Jackson, Yugyeom, and Bambam all live in London, which is why it was convenient for them to practice together so much over the summer.  Jinyoung feels like a bad friend for not asking Bambam where he lived or offering to visit before.

“I can’t believe I spent all those hours training you for you to be in Hufflepuff!”  Jackson moans upon hearing that Yugyeom made his house team, as predicted. “Now my teammates will give me even more flack for training two players from different houses!  I don’t know how I’ll ever face them!”

Jinyoung feels uneasy for a brief moment, afraid that he’s about to see the uglier side of Jackson he witnessed his first year again, but relaxes when he sees that Yugyeom and Bambam are laughing.

“At least we’re both chasers!” Bambam points out.  “You won’t have to compete directly against us for the snitch like you do with Mark!”

Mark looks up from his book and smiling.  “You should be glad,” Mark tells them changing his expression to a serious on. “Jackson flies fast.”

“I think they should be more glad that they don’t have to fly against you,” Jackson insists. “No matter how much I practice I can never keep up with you!”  Mark quickly buries his nose back into his book, ears turning scarlet.  Bambam wolf whistles and Jinyoung mimes vomiting.  Could their flirting be any more obvious?

 

*

 

The problem with having so many younger friends, Jinyoung thinks, is that it’s difficult to find company for Hogsmeade trips.  It’s the end of March and Mark and Jackson have been officially dating for one month.  They offered to let Jinyoung come along with them on their date, but Jinyoung told them he would rather go alone than be a third wheel.  Jinyoung is glad that the fifth years’ upcoming OWLs have made them too intent on studying to do anything gross during their frequent library hang outs.

Jinyoung shivers when the wind whips his hair as he walks the path to Shrieking Shack.  He should have known to wear a hat on a day like this.  Barely anyone bothers to visit the Shrieking Shack anymore after the rumors of hauntings were dispelled years ago.  Most of the time no one else is around when he visits, making it the perfect place to be alone with his thoughts, but unfortunately today is the exception.  A lone figure stands leaning against the fence, staring off at the rundown shack in the distance.  When Jinyoung gets closer he recognizes the boy at in an instant. Jaebum.

Jinyoung doesn’t know how to react, so he opts to pretend Jaebum isn’t there.  He gazes off at the distant building and tries to fill his head with thought about anything other than the boy a few feet away.  He thinks he’s doing a pretty good job when his reverie is interrupted by Jaebum noticing him.

“Oh! Uh… Hi Jinyoung,” Jaebum greets him awkwardly.  “How long have you been here?” 

When Jinyoung looks at him he feels like he’s drowning.  The Jaebum before him now is so much different than the Jaebum of his childhood.  Tall, broad, handsome… Jinyoung mentally slaps himself.  He should be stealing himself against possible insults, not noticing how well Jaebum’s new earrings suit him!

“N-not long,” Jinyoung says after an awkward pause.  “I just got here.”

“Oh,” Jaebum replies softly and looks back at the shack and away from Jinyoung.  “I thought you’d be with Mark and Jackson.”

Jinyoung can’t help himself; he giggles a little and smiles.  “Why would I want to watch those two make out?” he scoffs, “it was painful enough watching them flirt before they officially got together!  Ten minutes with them and I’d probably throw up all over them and their gross PDA!”

He doesn’t expect Jaebum to laugh, but the elder is bent over cackling before he even finishes his sentence.  Jinyoung is taken aback, has he really just had a friendly exchange of words with Jaebum? Jaebum, who he thinks about jinxing on a daily basis; Jaebum who he’s been pointedly avoiding for the last three years? Impossible.

Jinyoung is still lost in his thoughts when Jaebum catches his breath and says “I’ll leave you to enjoy the scenery in peace.  See you around, Jinyoung.”

 

 

“See you around Jinyoung.” 

 

Jaebum’s parting words echo in Jinyoung’s head for the rest of the day. He just can’t wrap his head around the situation. For the past few years he dedicated himself to hating Jaebum with every fiber of his being and was convinced that Jaebum hated him back with equal ferver.  But looking at more recent events that doesn’t seem true anymore… Not that Jinyoung is any closer to being willing to forgive Jaebum.  Even if he isn’t as much of an asshole anymore that doesn’t mean that what his previous offenses are excusable.  Maybe he can forgive Jackson, but that’s mostly only because he’s dating Mark and Mark is Jinyoung’s best friend.  Jaebum and Jinyoung can never be friends, Jinyoung thinks, even if he can manage to tolerate him on occasion.

 Jinyoung has probably been standing out in the wind thinking about Jaebum for hours when he finally realizes how cold his ears are.  He heads to the three broomsticks and grabs a quick butterbeer before going back to the school.

 

*

 

That summer Mark somehow manages to convince everyone to go camping, or at least everyone Jinyoung knows, anyway.  At first he wants to refuse because he knows Jaebum will be there, but he caves when he realizes how much trouble Mark went to in order to get permission from the parents of their younger friends.  It helps that Mark is almost of age, and that Jackson knows Yugyeom’s parents pretty well so they’re more inclined to let their twelve-year-old son go when they find out Jackson is going.  Youngjae insists on bringing Coco, which Jinyoung thinks is a bad idea, but he can’t find the right words to express why so he doesn’t bother objecting.  Mark agrees easily, reasoning that it’ll be good for her to get exercise running around the woods.  She’s so small, what if something eats her? Jinyoung wants to ask, but he’s afraid that if he puts forth those kind of concerns Youngjae will get scared and not want to go at all.

  Jinyoung’s mom is delighted that Jinyoung is doing anything remotely friendly with Jaebum, and lets him borrow the family’s six bed tent.  When she commiserates about being one bed short, and Jinyoung considers telling her that Mark and Jackson will want share a bed anyway, but decides against it.  Despite being supportive in everything Jinyoung has ever done, Jinyoung doesn’t want to risk his mom reacting negatively to him having gay friends.

Mark, Jackson, Youngjae, Bambam, and Yugyeom come to Upper Flagley (because it’s the closest to the forest they’ve decided on) and the seven of them pile into Jaebum’s mom’s car.  Jinyoung doesn’t miss the way Ms. Im strokes his hair as she embraces him when he arrives at the Im residence for the first time in years or the look in her eyes when she tells him he’s always welcome to come over for tea.  It’s hard not to feel guilty, but Jinyoung reasons that the tumultuous situation between them is entirely Jaebum’s fault, so he shouldn’t feel any weight on his own conscious. 

After Jaebum’s mum drops them off at the campsite and as her car disappears into the distance Bambam whoops.  “No adults! No rules! Freedom!”

Jinyoung turns to him sternly, “What are you? Five?” he teases, then turns serious. “There might be dangerous things in the forest, be careful!”

“Fine, mom!” Bambam huffs.  He doesn’t let Jinyoung chastise him further and disappears off to collect fire wood with Yugyeom before Jinyoung can give him any more cautions.

“Are there really dangerous things in the forest?”  Youngjae asks nervously.  Jinyoung frowns, guilt-struck for making Youngjae worry.

“Of course not. I was just trying to make Bambam behave.”  Youngjae smiles with relief and Jinyoung hears Jaebum chuckle softly from behind him.  Jinyoung just doesn’t know how to act around Jaebum.  Some moment he forgets that they aren’t friends anymore and sometimes he’s painfully aware of the tension between them. He can feel his face heating up but he has no idea why his body is reacting like this. After a slight pause he puts his hand on Youngjae’s shoulder and says, “I’m going to go figure out how to put up the tent.  Find something useful to do.”

“I’m going to take Coco for a walk!”  Jinyoung overhears as he turns away.  “Want to come with me, Jaebum?”  Jinyoung is out of earshot before he can hear the reply.

 

Setting up the tent isn’t too difficult, even in his current state of being too young to do magic outside of school.  It only takes him a few minutes to finish.  When he looks around he’s surprised to find that his friends have deserted him, and Jaebum is the only one left at the campsite.  Luckily for Jinyoung, Jaebum is too focused on digging the fire pit and he doesn’t seem to notice that Jinyoung is done with tent.  Jinyoung slips under the cover of the tent silently and decides to distract himself by reading some of his book.  The inside of the tent is a bit like a dorm room, with three sets of bunk beds, a large purple armchair, and a small sink in the far corner.  Jinyoung feels sorry for whoever ends up sleeping on the bunk above or below Mark and Jackson; maybe it would be fairer to the rest of them to just make those two just sleep outside.  Jinyoung settles himself into the chair and starts reading.  He isn’t expecting to dose off, but the chair is comfy and he’s actually surprisingly tired.  He falls asleep with his face leaned against the pages.  Jinyoung doesn’t know how long he’s been out when a Youngjae’s desperate cry awakens him.

“CooCOOOOOOOOOO!”  Jinyoung rubs the sleep out of his eyes.  He knew bringing the dog was a bad idea. 

“What’s going on?” Jinyoung overhears Jaebum ask.

“I can’t find her anywhere!”  Youngjae wails.  “I was playing with her in a clearing and then suddenly she went out of sight!  I’ve been looking for her for ages but now it’s dark and I’m scared something happened!”

“Where are Mark and Jackson?”  Jinoung hears Yugyeom ask.  Based on the sound of a crackling fire Bambam and Yugyeom must have returned to the campsite hours ago.

“I haven’t seen them” Jaebum admits.

“What about Jinyoung?” Bambam inquires.

“I think he’s sleeping.”

“I’m awake!” Jinyoung states as he steps out of the tent, Jaebum, Youngjae, Bambam, and Yugyeom are all huddled around the fire looking worried.  “I’ll go look for Coco,” he sighs with resignation.  “Mark and Jackson are probably fine.  They’re big boys, probably just making out in the woods somewhere.”  Bambam makes a face.  “You guys stay here, it probably won’t take too long.

“I’ll go with you,” Jaebum volunteers, standing up.  Jinyoung tenses.

“You don’t need to come,” Jinyoung tries not to sound harsh.  “Someone older should stay with them.”  He flicks his eyes over at the younger trio.

“You shouldn’t go into the woods alone in the dark!” Youngjae pipes.  “Who knows what could be lurking out there!”

“I’m sure that there’s nothing out there I can’t handle.” Jinyoung snaps.

“Just go with Jaebum.” Bambam adds unhelpfully.  “We’ll feel better here knowing that you’re not alone.”  Jinyoung wants to protest more, but Jaebum is already heading into the depths of the forest ahead of him.  Jinyoung shoots Bambam one last angry look before hurrying forward.

 

*

 

Jinyoung clicks on a flashlight bought from a muggle store as they meander through the trees, too far away from camp to use light of the fire.   It’s the night of the new moon so the stars are bright, but the thick canopy above them prevents any of the light from entering the glade.  Jinyoung thinks Jaebum’s face looks ominous in the dim light of the flashlights, but maybe that’s just his perpetual frown.  Even though he doesn’t look friendly, Jinyoung can’t deny that he’s quite attractive, he kind of reminds Jinyoung of the ‘bad boy’ characters in the muggle TV dramas his mum likes to watch.

“Coco!”  Jinyoung calls into the darkness.  He bends down to shift through the bushes with his wand.  Jaebum mirrors him wordlessly

“Do you think it would be animal cruelty to use a summoning charm?”  Jinyoung asks aloud after a good forty minutes of searching.  He doesn’t really want to talk to Jaebum, but just then he thinks the quiet will devour him if whatever monstrous creatures Youngjae thinks are in the forest don’t.

“I think we should keep that as a last resort,” Jaebum chuckles.  “We’re not supposed to use magic outside of school anyway.” Jinyoung can’t stop himself from smiling just a little.  After a very pregnant pause, Jaebum blurts out something unexpected.

“I was going to apologize,” Jaebum murmurs softly.  Jinyoung freezes, not daring to look up.  “That day we both had detention.  But you left before I could.”

“Oh?”  Jinyoung says quietly, eyes still fixed on the ground.  “Why didn’t you say something later then?”

“I was afraid that you hated me,” Jaebum answers, Jinyoung tries not to let the shake in Jaebum’s voice affect him.  “You seemed so angry that day and I didn’t want to risk another row.”

“I thought Gryffindors were supposed to be brave.”  Jinyoung says evenly.  He sneaks a glance at Jaebum’s face when he hears him laugh nervously.  He closes his eyes and sighs when Jaebum doesn’t try to defend himself.  “You never answered my question that day either,” Jinyoung points out boldly. “Why do you hate me?”

“I never hated you, Jinyoung.”  Jaebum says with so much sadness that Jinyoung almost feels guilty.  “I was disappointed and upset that you weren’t in my house.  I had been looking forward to eating with you in the great hall and sharing a common room, and then you had to be Slytherin of all things.  The older Slytherins used to bully Jackson and me relentlessly our first year.”

“So you decided it was okay to use that as an excuse to be horrible to me.”  Jinyoung’s surprised at how accusatory his own voice sounds.

“I was twelve, Jinyoung.” Jaebum tries to reason. “I was immature and wasn’t thinking straight.”

“Yugyeom is twelve!” Jinyoung shoots back harshly.  “He didn’t start being awful to Bambam or try to jinx him when we beat Hufflepuff at quidditch!”

“Yugyeom is more mature than I was.”  Jaebum admits.  “And I’m sorry for losing my temper at you that first time Mark beat us.  Jackson apologized to Mark once he cooled his head.”

“Your friend apologizing to my friend doesn’t mean anything.” Jinyoung says flatly. “This is about you and me.  How do you think I felt when suddenly you wouldn’t talk to me?” Jinyoung demands hotly.  “Do you know why I don’t have any friends in my year?  Do you have any idea how miserable I was my first year because of you?” Jinyoung takes a deep breathe, trying to calm himself. “Nothing you say is going to excuse that, Jaebum.”  Jinyoung feels like the rage against Jaebum that he has built up inside him has finally come to a boil.  He looks up and glares at Jaebum, and is surprised when the elder cowers under his gaze.

“I-I know what I did can’t be excused.” Jaebum says shakily, looking Jinyoung straight in the eyes.  “I just wanted to say that I’m sorry, Jinyoung.  I’m really really sorry.  I know- I know you might not be able to forgive but… I want your forgiveness anyway.” Jaebum pauses to take a breath.  “I want to be friends again.” 

Jinyoung can’t take it any longer. He turns and punches Jaebum right it the jaw with all his strength.  Jaebum stumbles back in surprise.  Jinyoung knows he isn’t very strong and the punch was probably fairly weak, but the smarting of his knuckles and the way Jaebum is holding his face tell a different story.

“I probably deserved that.” Jaebum mumbles quietly, hand covering a growing bruise on his cheek.

“You can’t expect a few words to fix things, Jaebum.” Jinyoung finally says.  “Maybe someday I will forgive you, but it sure as hell isn’t going to be the result of one sappy speech.” Jinyoung continues. “I’m still not convinced you’re even sincere,” he lies. “How do I know you’re not going to hurt me again after a few months of being friendly? How can I trust anything you say? How can I…” Jinyoung is distracted by a flash of white fur in a nearby bush. “Coco!”  Jinyoung dives at the little dog, not wanting to risk letting the little beast get lost again.

“I know it’ll take a while to regain your trust.” Jaebum tells him when he’s back on his feet with Coco in tightly in his arms.  “But I’ll keep trying for as long as it takes.”

“Let’s go back,” Jinyoung says when he can’t think of a good reply.  “Youngjae is probably already peeing his pants in worry.”

 

*

 

Mark and Jackson are there when they get back, looking embarrassed and mildly guilty.  Youngjae is in the midst of scolding Mark for being missing in Coco’s ‘great hour of need’ when he spots Jinyoung carrying Coco and squeals in delight.  “You found her!”  Youngjae cries, taking Coco from Jinyoung’s arms. “You’re the best Jinyoung!”

“What happened to Jaebum’s face?” Bambam asks when the firelight illuminates Jaebum’s newly forming bruise.  Suddenly Jinyoung can’t bear to be around his friends for any longer.

“I’m going to bed first.” He announces abruptly.  “Good night everyone!”

“But didn’t you sleep all afternoon?” he hears Yugyeom call after him as he heads towards the tent.  Jinyoung doesn’t give him a reply.

“Did you talk to him?” Jinyoung hears Youngjae tentatively ask Jaebum right before he’s completely out of earshot of the fire.  Anger boils Jinyoung’s chest; he sprints the rest of the way into the tent and buries himself in a duvet on one of the lower bunks, not wanting to hear Jaebum’s response. 

Jinyoung feels betrayed.  It all makes sense now, his younger friends insisting that Jaebum go with him to look for Coco, Mark abandoning him to go to Hogsmeade with Jackson… They’ve all been hoping that he’ll make up with Jaebum.  How can they expect him to overlook all the hurt Jaebum has done to him?  Why do they think dragging him and Jaebum together will magically make everything okay? Jinyoung barely sleeps and spends most of the night seething.

 

*

 

The rest of the trip passes slowly and awkwardly.  Jinyoung spends most of it burying himself in books and pretending he’s napping every time someone comes into the tent to bother him.  Youngjae stays upset with Mark, insisting that Coco will never sleep in Ravenclaw Tower again since Mark has proved himself to be an irresponsible owner.  Jinyoung is decidedly cold with everyone, convinced that they are all conspiring together to make him forgive Jaebum.  When Jinyoung’s mom comes to pick them up they pack up quickly and silently, everyone thoroughly sick of each other after spending several long days in close quarters.  Jinyoung mutters half-hearted goodbyes when to his friends when they leave Upper Flagley and flat out ignores Jaebum when he tries to say something to Jinyoung before turning in the lane towards the Im residence.

Jinyoung spends the rest of the break alone, cooped up in his room doing his summer homework and studying for his upcoming OWLs.  His friends leave him alone for the most part, Jinyoung isn’t sure whether they’re just giving him space or are mad at him because of how he acted on the camping trip.  He doesn’t really want to talk to them anyway.  Bambam, never sensitive to a delicate situation, writes to him sometimes and Jinyoung sends back short replies, each only a couple of sentences.  If anyone asked he would never admit it, but under his front of apathy he appreciates Bambam wanting to talk to him despite everything.  Less appreciated are Jaebum’s occasional visits to the Park residence.  Jinyoung absolutely refuses to come down from his room, but he hears Jaebum chatting with his mom and sisters (when they’re home) each time.  He brings over desserts too, always Jinyoung’s favorites.  Each time he claims that his mom just made extra, but Jinyoung has doubts.  That doesn’t mean Jinyoung is above slinking down to the kitchen to eat some of the sweets Jaebum brings once he’s gone though.

 

*

 

Jinyoung doesn’t see his friends again until it September 1st when he’s standing on Platform 9 ¾ with his trunk, shiny new prefect badge pinned to his shirt, ready to start his fifth year.  Even though he likes hanging out with Bambam, Youngjae, and Yugyeom, and has begrudgingly accepted Jackson as a friend, Jinyoung is glad to have the opportunity to sit alone with Mark in the Prefect’s carriage, only the two of them, just like old times.  Mark excitedly informs Jinyoung that he’s been made quidditch captain and Jinyoung pulls him into a brotherly hug.

“You got you OWL grades back, right?”  Jinyoung asks once there’s an appropriate lull in their conversation. “How did you do?”

“I did fine,” Mark says casually. “Good grades in all the subjects that matter. To be honest I’m not too bothered with OWL grades.  I’m hoping to get signed on to a pro quidditch team once I leave school.”

“Aren’t you the perfect boy,” Jinyoung teases. “Prefect. Quidditch star. Good student. Leave some talents for the rest of us!”

Mark laughs and nudges Jinyoung’s shoulder. “You’re one to talk, top of your year!” Mark exclaims.  “You probably don’t even need to study for your OWLs!”

Jinyoung tries to pretend to be amused, but fake laughter can’t erase how many worries he actually has.  Mark might be confident about Jinyoung’s success in the upcoming year’s exams, but Jinyoung certainly isn’t.

“How was the rest of your summer, anyway?” Jinyoung asks, purposefully changing the subject.

“It was fine,” Mark answers breezily. “Youngjae and I were going to visit Upper Flagley, but we figured you’d be busy and Nora makes Youngjae sneeze.”

“Nora?”  Jinyoung inquires, confused. 

“Jaebum’s cat,” Mark explains.  “The one that his mom got him four years ago to celebrate him making the Gryffindor quidditch team.  When Youngjae visited Jaebum last year his allergies were awful.  I thought you’d have seen her around your garden or something since you two are neighbors.”

“I didn’t know he had a cat.” Jinyoung admits, willing himself not to be ruffled by the mention of Jaebum.  “Must be indoor only.”

 

*

 

The first few weeks back and Hogwarts are proof that Jaebum has successfully wormed his way into Jinyoung’s friendship circle.  He sits with them in the library like he’s always belonged there and tags along with Jinyoung, Bambam and Youngjae on the first Hogsmeade trip of the term.  Every time he joins them in the library, walking in the grounds, or doing anything other activity Jinyoung always notices his other friends looking at him furtively, as if expecting Jinyoung to storm off or start yelling as soon as Jaebum appears.  Jinyoung resigns himself to tolerating Jaebum’s presence, but finds that they don’t actually cross paths very often despite all their mutual friends.  This is mostly due to Jinyoung’s new prefect responsibilities combined with all the time he dedicates to studying for OWLs.  After a few weeks Jinyoung can’t stand the constant chatter of his friends during their library study session so he moves to the Slytherin common room to avoid distraction.  His three young friends might have workloads light enough to fool around, but Jinyoung needs to focus if he wants to keep his head above the unending stream of fifth year homework and keep up with revising for OWLs.  Even with the reduction of time spent with friends, Jinyoung still finds himself pulling all-nighters multiple times a week.

“I feel like I never see you anymore!”  Bambam embraces him dramatically when Jinyoung meets him in the stands to watch the first quidditch match of the season.  “I’m in your house!  Have you dropped off the face of the earth?”

“Of course not,” Jinyoung assures him, reaching over to ruffle Bambam’s newly dyed hair.  “I’ve just been focusing on my studies.”

“Studying is important,” Mark reasons, jumping into their conversation from his place seated on Jinyoung’s other side.  “But you shouldn’t overwork yourself. Relax a little now and then.”

“I’m relaxing right no- ” Jinyoung is cut off by Bambam’s ear-piercing scream as Yugyeom scores the first goal of the game.  Jinyoung smiles, knowing that Yugyeom will brag endlessly once the match is over.

“I can’t wait to see the looks on Jackson and Jaebum’s faces if we manage to beat Gryffindor!” Youngjae exclaims excitedly.

“The match isn’t over yet,” Mark points out, forever supporting his boyfriend’s side.

 

*

 

If Jinyoung thought his workload was bad before winter break, he was blissfully ignorant of the struggles to come.  Within the first week of January he starts skipping meals in order to save more time for homework and revising.  He only leaves the Slytherin dungeon for prefect duties, classes, and, at most, one meal a day.  Sometimes he asks Bambam to bring him something from the Great Hall if he sees him in the common room during break.  Jinyoung gives up on getting sleep, averaging about three or four hours a night, usually dosing off by accident bent over his textbooks.

At the end of January Jinyoung’s routine is shaken when whatever ancient magic the founders enchanted Gryffindor tower with goes wonky and large portions of the Gryffindor dorms and common room cave in and collapse.  Fortunately, no students are harmed, but the entirety of Gryffindor house is forced to relocate until the tower can be repaired.  The fifth year Slytherin dorm happens to have an empty bed, so Jinyoung resigns himself to the inevitability of a Gryffindor moving into his dorm.  Hopefully someone he doesn’t know and who won’t bother him.  Luck isn’t with Jinyoung though, and one day when he’s fishing a book out of his trunk Jaebum walks into Jinyoung’s dorm dragging his trunk with one arm and holding a squirming siamese cat in the other.  Jaebum sets the cat down after he closes the dorm and she dashes under Jinyoung’s bed.

“Nora was in our common room when the tower collapsed,” Jaebum explains. “She got out in time, but she’s been a bit skittish since.”  Jinyoung blinks awkwardly.

“Why did you come to Slytherin?”  Jinyoung asks, trying to sound casual.

“It was the only option really,” Jaebum sighs. “I didn’t want to irritate Youngjae’s allergies and Mark and Jackson are still disgustingly in love and horribly fond of PDA.”

“Oh,” Jinyoung murmurs awkwardly.  He can’t really fault Jaebum for choosing his house.  His dorm was probably just a coincidence too, so Jaebum can’t be purposefully trying to bother him.  “Well, I need to get back to work,” Jinyoung tells Jaebum after an awkward silence.  “I’m afraid I won’t be able to provide much entertainment while you’re here, I’m up to my ears in school work and revision.”

“So I’ve heard.” Jaebum replies, eyeing Jinyoung’s carefully organized calender posted on the wall above his bed.  “Seems like you’ve bit off a bit more than you can chew. I’ll try and stay out of your way.”

Part of Jinyoung wants to reply that he can handle it all, homework, revising, prefect duties, and everything, but he’s afraid of sounding argumentative. Jinyoung is very aware of how fragile the peace between he and Jaebum is.  He doesn’t want to start having rows and risk getting hexed in his own dormitory.  Jinyoung goes back down to the common room without another word.

 

*

 

“Jinyoung… Jinyoung!” Jinyoung stirs in his slumber, his consciousness dripping back to reality.  Maybe if he just doesn’t open his eyes he can fall back into the warm embrace of sleep…

“Jinyoung!”  He feels a hand gently shaking his shoulder.  Jinyoung wants to eviscerate whoever is shaking him awake, he deserves a few more moments of rest, and he hasn’t slept at all the past two nights and has only made it down to the Great Hall for food once in the last twenty-four hours…

“Jinyoung, your schedule says you have to patrol the corridors in ten minutes!”  Jinyoung snaps back to reality.  He can’t neglect his prefect responsibilities just for a few more moments of closed eyes.  He jerks himself upright, face unsticking from the page of his potions textbook he was studying before he dosed off.  He feels something soft brush against his ankles as he lifts his arms to stretch. What is Nora doing here? Jinyoung looks up to find Jaebum staring down at him.

“You didn’t need to wake me up,” Jinyoung yawns.  “I’ve never missed patrol before.”  Jaebum frowns at him as he stuffs his books and quills back into his bag.

“You’re overworking yourself.”  Jaebum states firmly, ignoring Jinyoung’s sleepy protests.  “I can’t remember the last time I saw you in the Great Hall during meals.  Are you even eating?”

Part of Jinyoung wants to ignore him, but looking into Jaebum’s eyes Jinyoung doesn’t think that’s the best course of action.  “I ate yesterday.”  He says weakly.

“It’s almost eight o’clock and you’re telling me you haven’t eaten anything all day?”  Jaebum shoots back, eyes burning with an emotion that Jinyoung can’t read.

“I’ve been studying,” Jinyoung yawns back, lacking the energy to protest more convincingly.

“Where are you patrolling tonight?”  Jaebum asks suddenly.  “I’ll grab you something and bring it to you on your patrol.” 

Jinyoung looks at him confusedly.  “Fifth floor,” he tells Jaebum meekly.  Am I still dreaming?  Jinyoung wonders vaguely as Jaebum insists on taking his bag back up to their dorm for him and ushers him out the door.  Jinyoung hurries through the castle up to the fifth floor corridor, not wanting to break his perfect attendance record for his prefect duties.

 

*

 

Jinyoung starts finding snacks in his bag every time he reaches in to grab a textbook or spare quill.  Sometimes he even finds notes encouraging him to work hard, or reminding him to take a break.  Jinyoung knows that all the snacks and words of encouragement are coming from Jaebum, but he tries not to think about it too much and continues to throw himself into all night study sessions.  Now that he’s getting more to eat it’s easier to stay up longer and get more done.  Unfortunately that doesn’t mean he stops accidently dosing midway through studying entirely; it just means his unintended naps are less frequent.  Most often sleep takes him around two or three AM in the morning and wakes up a few hours later when the earlier risers of his house come down to the common room in the morning.  There are a few occasions when he wakes up in his bed with no memory of how he got there, but he chalks that down to being half asleep when he must have decided to retire for the night.

Jinyoung often dreams during the brief periods of sleep he gets in between his studying.  Sometimes his dreams are crazy and surreal and he can’t make sense of them, but other times he dreams about all the things he used to do with his friends that he doesn’t have time for anymore. He dreams about walking Coco with Mark and Youngjae, tutoring Bambam, and most unsettlingly, he dreams about playing with Jaebum when they were kids.  Jinyoung is in the middle of dreaming about swimming in the creek near his house with Jaebum in the summer when he was nine when he is shaken from sleep.  He cracks his eyes open to find the current, seventeen-year old Jaebum staring him in the face.

“It’s not good for your back to sleep bent over like that.”  Jaebum chides.

“I’m not a quidditch player, my back doesn’t matter.”  Jinyoung mumbles sleepily.

“Why are you doing this to yourself?”  Jaebum asks peevishly.  “You’re top of your year, I’m pretty sure you’ve been more than prepared for these exams for months!”

“I can’t think like that!”  Jinyoung snaps, the last vestiges of sleepiness leaving him. “I can’t think that just because I’ve done well so far I can afford to be lazy! I need the best grades I can get!”

“Why?”  Jaebum pesters.  “What do you want to be? Minister for Magic? I don’t think there’s a job out there that calls for twelve outstanding OWLs.”

“I want to be a healer,” Jinyoung sighs.  “NEWTs are what’ll really count, but I need to do well on my OWLs if I want to stand a chance!”

“You’ll be fine!”  Jaebum insists, “Maybe not if you keep neglecting your health like this, but studying isn’t the issue here.”  Jinyoung gapes at him in disbelief.  “You need Defense against the Dark Arts, Potions, Transfiguration, Charms, and Herbology, right?  I didn’t study half as hard as you are and I still passed four out of five of those subjects with Exceeds Expectations.”

“But only four!” Jinyoung protests.  “I need to pass all five!”

“I only passed four because I don’t need to know shit about herbology to be a curse breaker.  I spent my energy studying for arithmancy and ancient runes instead, but you don’t need to worry about those for what you want.”

Jinyoung opens and closes his mouth, wanting to argue further but finding no words.  Jaebum lets him gape like a fish for a few minutes before deciding that Jinyoung must have run out of points to argue.  “It’s time for you to go to bed.”  He tells Jinyoung firmly, and then scoops him up bridal style and carries him up the stairs to his dorm.  Jinyoung tries to kick and protest, but in his sleep-deprived weakened state he’s no match for Jaebum’s quidditch player strength.  Jaebum sets him down on his bed surprisingly gently and tells him not to try to go back down to the common room to study more.  “I’m locking your books in my trunk.” He tells Jinyoung.  “I’ll give them back to you after breakfast tomorrow.”  Jinyoung nods, already drifting back to sleep. He gets his first full night’s sleep in months.

 

*

 

Jaebum seems to have appointed himself as Jinyoung’s temporary mom.  He makes Jinyoung go to bed if he looks sleepy when he’s studying, brings Jinyoung food down from the great hall when Jinoung insists on revising or doing homework instead of going to meals, and reminds Jinyoung to go to class or Prefect patrol when Jinyoung forgets.  Jinyoung tries to be annoyed, but it’s hard not to appreciate the extra food and sleep.  On top of everything, Nora has taken a liking to Jinyoung and seems to always end up in his bed when Jaebum forces him go to sleep.  Jinyoung pretends to be irritated with the Griffindor’s presence in his dorm, but truthfully he’s happy that the tower repairs are taking so long.

“Are you relying on Jaebum for everything now?”  Mark teases Jinyoung one day when he almost forgets to come down to the quidditch pitch to watch a match.  Since it’s Gryffindor vs. Slytherin Jaebum couldn’t personally drag him away from his studying to watch the match or tell Bambam to do likewise.

“I’m a busy person!”  Jinyoung protests, avoiding the topic.  “If I didn’t have friends on every bloody house team I wouldn’t need to watch quidditch matches!”

“The entire school watches quidditch, friends on the team or no,” Yugyeom chimes in.  “Imagine what Bambam will say when we tell him you missed the first ten minutes of the match!”

Jinyoung swipes at Yugyeom in attempt to slap him, but Yugyeom dodges.  “I trust that none of you will mention my lateness to Bambam.”  Jinyoung pause. “Or Jackson. Or Jaebum.”

“I make no promises.” Mark says, laughing, Youngjae and Yugyeom nod along.

“What kind of a friend are you, Jaebum attends to your every need and you can’t even make it in time for his quidditch match!”  Youngjae teases.  Jinyoung pretends to be distracted by watching Bambam try to score and doesn’t reply.  He tries not to think about how that was the first time anyone referred to Jaebum as his friend since he was eleven.

 

*

 

A week before OWLs, Jinyoung goes up to his dorm grab something from his trunk to see Jaebum packing up his stuff.  Jinyoung freezes for a moment, confused.  Then he remembers that Jaebum isn’t actually a Slytherin and this must mean that Gryffindor tower has finally been repaired.

“So you’re moving back to Gryffindor tower then?”  Jinyoung asks, trying to sound nonchalant.

“Uh-huh,” Jaebum answers without looking up, midway through desperately trying to persuade Nora to go into her carrying case.  “It’s finally fixed.”  Jaebum looks up and catches Jinyoung’s eye, Jinyoung flinches involuntarily and Jaebum’s eyes soften.  “If I don’t see you at meals I’ll make Bambam drag you out.”

Jinyoung smiles softly.  “I guess I’ll have to start coming to meals then.”  He replies awkwardly.

“And promise me you’ll get enough sleep,” Jaebum continues.  “I know it’s only a week until the big exams, but cramming at the last minute won’t make any substantial difference.”  Jaebum steps towards Jinyoung and reaches for the nape of his neck.  Jinyoung shudders at the sudden contact. “You’ll do fine.  If you need me for any reason don’t hesitate to find me.” Jaebum is staring at Jinyoung, eyes glowing with warmth while his hand rubs the back of Jinyoung’s neck.

“I’ll miss you,” Jinyoung finally says shakily.

“I’ll miss sharing a dorm with you too,” Jaebum replies, putting his other arm around Jinyoung’s waist and pulling him in for a hug. “It’s nice being friends again.”

“Yeah.”  Jinyoung says, his cheek pressed against Jaebum’s, trying to ignore his rapidly increasing heartrate.  “It really is.”

 

*

 

Jinyoung throws himself into his studies with renewed fervor for the last three weeks of school.  The truth is, it’s the easiest solution to keep Jaebum off his mind.  Jinyoung doesn’t know what to think of Jaebum anymore.  He can comfortably say that the two of them are friends again, but every time he looks at Jaebum he feels a stirring in his chest that he doesn’t know what to make of.  Jinyoung is still astounded by how smoothly and unnoticeably Jaebum had reclaimed his place as one of the most important people in Jinyoung’s life; Jinyoung didn’t realize how much he relied on Jaebum until he felt his absence.  Jinyoung finds himself looking up expecting to see Jaebum watching over him when he studies late into the night in the common room.  Sometimes he even studies in the library to see his friends and he barely ever misses a meal even though OWLs are just days away.  It’s hard for him to imagine how he functioned without proper sleep or food, studying in isolation for the first half of the year.  Jaebum makes a point to check up on Jinyoung throughout the week leading up to exams as well as in between the exams themselves.  Jinyoung finds himself comforted by Jaebum’s persisting presence.  A part of him was afraid that once Jaebum went back to his own dorm they’d go back to barely speaking to each other, but Jaebum proves him wrong over and over again.  At the end of almost every exam he finds Jinyoung to pat him on the back in celebration or calm Jinyoung’s nerves if he feels like he got a lot of questions wrong.  In a blink of an eye they’re boarding the Hogwarts Express to go home for the summer.

Ms. Park and Ms. Im both fail to conceal their excitement when they spot their sons exiting the train together chatting and laughing amicably.  Jinyoung feels a little embarrassed when Jaebum’s mom gives him a hug and invites him to come over for tea the next day before she even looks at her own son.

“You should come,” Jaebum adds when his mother releases Jinyoung from her embrace.  “Nora’s been missing you.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she starts slinking over to your house once she catches your scent trail.”

“I’ll come,” Jinyoung agrees laughing.  “Nora must be bored of having such dull company for the past three weeks.”  Jaebum playfully swats Jinyoung in response to his jibe.  Jinyoung sees his mother smiling at them in the corner of his eye.  Jaebum and I are friends again he thinks to himself.  But why do I still feel so unsure of myself when I think about him?

 

*

 

That summer Jinyoung spends as much time at Jaebum’s house as he does his own.  They swim in the creek just like they did when they were kids and stay up late into the night just talking.  When Jinyoung wakes up in the mornings half of the time he can’t remember whether he’s in his own bedroom or at Jaebum’s.  Jaebum, who passed his apparition test in March, sometimes teases Jinyoung by apparating into Jinyoung’s room before he wakes up and drawing on his face.  Most of the time Jinyoung wakes up and catches Jaebum mid-stroke.  He then smacks Jaebum and washes his face before getting dressed and going down for breakfast.  On some occasions, Jinyoung sleeps through the entire thing and doesn’t realize that anything’s wrong until his parents laugh at him when he comes down to breakfast.  He then runs up and finds Jaebum hiding in his closet and Jinyoung tries his best to smack him before he can apparate back to his own house.

One lazy day in late July Jinyoung and Jaebum are laying in the grass of Jaebum’s back yard looking and the clouds when Jaebum suddenly sits up.

“Want to learn how to play quidditch?”  He asks Jinyoung randomly.

“I hate flying.” Jinyoung responds stubbornly and roles away from Jaebum.

“Have even flown since the school flying lessons first year?”  Jaebum prods scooching closer.

“I played with Mark a few times.”  Jinyoung answers, trying his best not to smile.

“A few times is hardly grounds to swear it off entirely” Jaebum puts his hand on Jinyoung’s shoulder.  “C’mon, it can’t hurt to try.  I even have a spare broom you can use.”  Before Jinyoung has time to protest Jaebum is pulling him to his feet and leading him to the house to get the brooms.

 

“Stop thinking so hard,” Jaebum tells Jinyoung as he hesitantly take to the air.  They’re in a clearing up the road, the area is pretty sparsely populated so there’s no chance muggles will see them here. 

“I can’t just not think,” Jinyoung objects.  “Why does it have to be so shaky? I feel like I’ll fall off if a strong breeze comes.”

“Hold the handle steady with one hand and hold on tight with your legs,” Jaebum instructs patiently.  “If you don’t shake your broom won’t either. Let’s try going a little higher.”

“O-okay.”  Jinyoung urges his broom up to match Jaebum’s altitude.

“I’m going to throw this ball to you.”  Jaebum tells him after giving him a few moments to get used to the new height.  “Try and catch it.”

Jinyoung doesn’t have time to respond before Jaebum chucks the muggle basketball his way.  His first instinct is to catch the ball with two hands, but he’s smart enough not to let go of the end of his broom.  The ball almost slips away from him, but in the end he manages to pin it against his chest.

“Good,” Jaebum praises him.  “Now throw it back to me.”

Jinyoung struggles to throw the ball with one hand and Jaebum has to dive for it.  Jinyoung watchs as he zooms back up, ball under his arm.

“Maybe work on your aim a little.” Jaebum tells him lightly.  “Ready for the ball again?”  Jinyoung nods and braces himself.

Jaebum’s aim is a little off this time and Jinyoung realizes he’ll have to fly to the right a bit if he wants to catch it.  He jerks the broom handle and zooms to catch it, out stretching his arm.  When he feels the ball slipping away from him he moves his other hand up to grab for it too, momentarily forgetting its role in keeping him steady.  He has the ball in his grasp for a moment at glances at Jaebum triumphantly right before he falls.  He can see the amusement in Jaebum’s face turn to panic as his broom slips out from under him and the ground rushes up to meet him.

“ARRESTO MOMENTUM!”  Jaebum shouts, moments before Jinyoung hits the ground.  Jinyoung feels himself slow, his back gently falling onto the grass.  “You’re not hurt, are you?”  Jaebum asks frantically.

“I’m fine,” Jinyoung assures, standing up.

“It’s my fault, I shouldn’t have made you go up so high,” Jaebum berates himself.  “What if you had really hurt yourself?  I’m no good at medical spells, what would I have told your mother.”

“You managed to slow me down before I could splatter on the ground so you don’t have to tell my mother anything,” Jinyoung reassures him laughing.  “I don’t think she would have been mad at you anyway. Stop worrying about it.”

 

*

 

Jinyoung has never properly told Jaebum he’s forgiven him and Jaebum has never asked about it.  This, Jinyoung thinks, must be the reason for the lingering awkwardness he feels towards Jaebum.  He tries to bring it up several times during the summer but the words never seem to come to him.  It’s easy to ignore the issue when being friends with Jaebum has become so natural.  Every time he has Jaebum’s attention and means to say something about it he just ends up laughing, half out of nervousness half out of genuine amusement, when he looks into Jaebum’s serious eyes.  Jaebum just ruffles his hair or take him by the nape of his neck and asks him what’s so amusing.  Jinyoung just giggles more.  In mid-August, a week before they go to London to by books for the new school year Jinyoung finally manages to get it out.

“You only have one more year,” Jinyoung says, sprawled on Jaebum’s bed while Jaebum sits at his desk finishing a letter to Youngjae. “What’re you going to do after you graduate?”

“Depends on my NEWTs scores I guess,” Jaebum shrugs, not looking up his letter.

“Aren’t you nervous about that?”  Jinyoung asks.  “I haven’t even gotten my OWL results and I’m already worrying about NEWTs.”

“You’re just a worrier,” Jaebum laughs. “I just need to pass.  I don’t need perfect grades like you do if you want to be a healer.”  Jinyoung hums in response and they lull back into companionable silence.  Jinyoung fiddles with the edge of the Jaebum’s quilt.

“I never thanked you for taking care of me last year,” Jinyoung says after a few minutes.  “I was a mess.  I don’t know what I would’ve done without you.”

“You don’t have to thank me.” Jaebum responds, pausing from writing his letter.  “I would do the same for any of my friends.”  Jinyoung shifts on the bed uneasily when Jaebum says the word “friend.” Friends. Jinyoung thinks. That’s what we are now.

“I also- ” Jinyoung starts, trailing off when he realizes he doesn’t know how to continue.  Jaebum looks up at Jinyoung and Jinyoung quickly stares down at the pattern of the quilt beneath him. “I never… still haven’t… still need to say… never told you that I…”  Jinyoung trails off when he feels Jaebum lightly touch his shoulder.

“Look at me Jinyoung,” Jaebum says quietly.  Jinyoung hesitantly looks up into Jaebum’s eyes.  He know if he doesn’t say it now he never will.

“I never told you that I’ve forgiven you.”  Jinyoung hadn’t noticed the fire behind Jaebum’s eyes before he saw it dim.  Jaebum hadn’t looked angry, but Jinyoung couldn’t define his expression beyond that.

“You don’t need to say you forgive me Jinyoung.”  Jaebum tells him.

“Why?”  Jinyoung asks, taken aback.

“When you used to look at me, you looked like you were about to be sick,” Jaebum explains slowly.  “As soon as you caught sight of me it was like if you didn’t leave as fast as possible you’d catch the plague or something.”  Jaebum takes a breath.  “You don’t look at me like that anymore.”  Jinyoung tilts his head confused.  “It’s enough to know that you aren’t disgusted by my very existence anymore.”

“Is it?”  Jinyoung asks softly, sitting up.

“It is.”  Jaebum answers, reaching over to pat his shoulder.

 

The next day Jaebum is with Jinyoung when his mother tells him that his OWL results are in. He’s by Jinyoung side when Jinyoung takes the envelope from his mother, hands shaking.  Jaebum rubs his back gently when cuts the envelope open and hold the letter in his hands for a few minutes before he’s brave enough to unfold it.

“Nine outstanding OWLs!”  Jaebum exclaims, reading the letter over Jinyoung’s shoulder. “Congrats Jinyoungie!”  Jinyoung feels his heart speed up as Jaebum pull him into a congratulatory hug.

 

*

 

They meet up with the rest of their friends in Diagon Alley a few days later.  Jinyoung ends up sat on a bench with Mark once they’ve bought all their new books and potion ingredients.  Youngjae, Bambam, and Yugyeom are getting new robes and Jackson dragged Jaebum off to look at brooms Quality Quidditch supplies.

“So,” Mark says, eyeing Jinyoung inquiringly.  “You and Jaebum.”

“Yeah,” Jinyoung answers, nonplussed.  “We’re back to being friends.”

“To being… Friends?”  Mark looks at him strangely.  Jinyoung is confused.  He thought Mark been hoping for him to forgive Jaebum.  Jaebum was Jackson’s friend and Jackson was Mark’s boyfriend, so Jinyoung had assured that Jaebum and Mark were also friends.

“Yeah,” Jinyoung says cautiously. “You don’t have a problem with Jaebum, do you?”  Mark starts laughing.

“Of course I don’t have a problem with Jaebum,” Mark answers through giggles.  “I just thought… The way you two look at each other… Never mind.”

Jinyoung is more confused than ever.  He’s glad when Jackson and Jaebum appear come out of Quality Quidditch Supplies, Jaebum carrying a new beater’s bat under his arm.   Jinyoung doesn’t want to think too hard about what Mark just said but his head is already spinning.  Jaebum plops down next to him on the bench and touches his arm lightly.  Jinyoung can see Mark eyeing the two of them, a knowing grin on his face.

“Are you okay?”  Jaebum asks, leaning in to look at Jinyoung more closely.  “You look a little out of it.”

“I’m fine,” Jinyoung answers.   I’m in love with you, he thinks.

 

*

 

Jinyoung is determined not to ruin their friendship.  Jaebum can’t know under any circumstances that he has caught feelings, and neither can any of his other friends.  Mark probably already knows…  Jinyoung is screwed.  He doesn’t know how to act in front of Jaebum anymore.  Sometimes just looking at Jaebum makes his face feel warm.  The worst part is he has to endure another week back home with Jaebum before they leave for school.

“Is something wrong?” Jaebum asks one day when they’re sitting on the little bridge across the creek, feet soaking in the cool water.  “You’ve seemed a little off since we came back from London.”

“It’s nothing,” Jinyoung lies.  “I guess I’m just nervous about starting NEWT level classes.”

“You’ll be fine!”  Jaebum reassures, patting him on the back.  Jinyoung’s heart leaps at the touch.  Jaebum is physically affectionate with all of his friends, but Jinyoung still isn’t used to it.  Now that he’s realized his feelings for Jaebum he’s become hyper-aware of it.  At first he thought what he felt when Jaebum hugged him or touched him idly was guilt over not giving Jaebum a second chance at friendship earlier, but now he knows that it’s something else.  “I can’t believe you!  Perfect OWLs and you barely celebrate at all and just go on to worrying about NEWTs!” Jaebum continues.  “You’re ridiculous!”

Jinyoung giggles and tries not to think too hard as Jaebum playfully strokes his hand through Jinyoung’s hair.  He can’t let Jaebum figure out that he wants to be more than friends.  He has to pretend like nothing’s changed.

Sometimes Jinyoung dreams about Jaebum returning his feelings.  He dreams about holding hands with Jaebum, going on dates, kissing in and staring into each other’s eyes.  In reality he knows that Jaebum probably would never see him as more than a friend.  Even if there is a sliver of a chance that Jaebum might like him too Jinyoung isn’t willing to risk their friendship.  He’s hoping that once they go back to school and he can stop spending so much time with Jaebum without suspicion so that he can find a way to get over his feelings.  One night Jinyoung has a nightmare where he confesses to Jaebum only to be rejected and Jaebum stops talking to him.  He wakes up clinging to a bemused Jaebum.

“I-I’m sorry!” Jinyoung splutters, rolling away embarrassed.  “Did I fall asleep here?”

“You looked so comfortable I didn’t want to wake you up,” Jaebum explains, laughing at Jinyoung’s shyness.  “My bed is big enough, so I figured sharing wouldn’t be a problem. Did you have a bad dream?”

“I don’t remember.”  Jinyoung lies.

“You were saying my name in your sleep.”  Jinyoung freezes, mortified.  What if Jaebum has already guessed that Jinyoung likes him?  What if he’s about to reject Jinyoung and stop talking to him like the dream-Jaebum?  Jinyoung looks cautiously at the real Jaebum.  The real Jaebum is laughing at him.

“You-you look like I just insulted your family in the worst way possible!”  Jaebum sas between chuckles.  “It’s not a big deal! Relax Jinyoung!”  Jinyoung’s heart is still pounding as Jaebum playfully pinches his cheeks. 

 

*

 

After that Jinyoung throws caution to the wind and avoids Jaebum for the rest of the break.  When Jaebum gets annoyed and apparates into Jinyoung’s bedroom on the night before they leave for Hogwarts Jinyoung is so surprised that he screams and hides his face is his pillow. He’s determined to stay like that until Jaebum gives up and leaves, but Jaebum sits on his back laughing at him until he lets go of the pillow and agrees to talk.

“I’m sorry for making you feel awkward.” Jaebum tells him, hand on the back of Jinyoung’s neck so he can’t look away.  “I didn’t realize sharing a bed would make things weird.  Let’s just forget about it, okay?”

“Okay.”  Jinyoung responds softly, feeling guilty for pushing Jaebum away.  “I’m sorry being awkward.”  Jaebum smiles at him and ruffles his hair.

“Tell me if I do anything that makes you uncomfortable, okay?”  Jaebum asks, pulling Jinyoung closer for a hug.  “I don’t want to lose our friendship again.”

“I don’t want to lose it either.”  Jinyoung says into Jaebum’s shoulder.

 

*

 

The next day Jinyoung’s mom drives them both to King’s Cross.  They push through the barrier side by side and find their friends.  Jaebum slings his arm casual around Jinyoung as they catch with what everyone else has been doing over the last week.  Jaebum doesn’t let go of Jinyoung until he volunteers to load everyone’s trunks onto the train, leaving Jinyoung alone with the rest of their friends.

“Are you and Jaebum dating now?”  Bambam asks tactlessly.  “You won’t be as gross as Mark and Jackson I hope.”

“No!”  Jinyoung says too quickly, panicking.  Jackson leans away from Mark for a moment to whisper something in Bambam’s ear and Jinyoung scowls.  Jinyoung doesn’t think he wears his heart on his sleeve, so how is that all of his friends seem to be aware that he’s romantically interested in Jaebum?  Jinyoung scowls at his friends.  “I can be friends with people without dating them!”

“You wouldn’t let us cling onto you like that and we’re your friends!” Youngjae counters.  Jinyoung take this as an invitation to hug Youngjae like he’s never going to see him again.

“I’m sooooorry Youngjae,” Jinyoung purrs as Youngjae squirms.  “I didn’t realize you wanted my cuddles!”

“What’s going on?” Jaebum asks mildly upon rejoining them.  Youngjae suddenly seems anxious and pushes Jinyoung away. Jinyoung is throw off balance and stumbles into Jaebum, who steadies him with a hand on the waist.

“Youngjae was just telling me he was feeling starved for affection.”  Jinyoung explains.

“Really?”  Jaebum responds, looking at Jinyoung like he sees right through him.  He abruptly turns towards Youngjae “I also love Youngjae a lot!”  Jaebum cries and capture Youngjae in his embraces.  Youngjae flounders, looking at Jinyoung with confusion as the others laugh.  A moment later the whistle blows and they all hurry aboard the Hogwarts Express.

 

*

 

Jinyoung likes Bambam as a friend, but when he sits at the Slytherin table all through the welcome feast with just Bambam for conversation it’s hard not to miss his other friends.  He’s genuinely interested in what Bambam says when he tells Jinyoung all about how he went to Thailand to visit his relatives over the break, but sometimes he finds his mind drifting over to the Gryffindor table, wondering what Jaebum and Jackson are talking about.

“Jeez, can’t you take your eyes off of Jaebum for a few minutes?”  Bambam scolds him when he catches Jinyoung gazing in the direction of the Gryffindor table.

“I’m not-  I was just- ”  Jinyoung splutters, trying to find and excuse.

“Whatever,” Bambam rolls his eyes at Jinyoung.  “I guess I have to be thankful that you haven’t started doing gross PDA like Mark and Jackson.”

“We aren’t like that!” Jinyoung protests.  “Jaebum and I are just platonic friends! There isn’t any- any of that kind of thing going on between us!”

“If that’s what you say,” Bambam replies, sounding unconvinced.

Going to the sixth year Slytherin dorm feels weird to Jinyoung.  He’s gotten too accustomed to Jaebum’s constant companionship over the summer and for the bigger part of the previous year.  Looking around at the other Slytherin sixth year boys he realizes he doesn’t know much about them apart from their names.  He only knows their names because he made a point to memorize the names of everyone in Slytherin once he became a prefect.  Has he always been this closed off? Even before his conflict with Jaebum he wasn’t very outgoing.  He remembers his parents introducing him to the children of their friends, but he never became close to any of them no matter how much he saw them.  Jaebum was the only one he really clicked with until he got to Hogwarts.  Looking back it seems like a waste to have spent four years hating Jaebum. 

Jinyoung falls back onto his four-poster. He has prefect duty first thing in the morning and his first day of NEWT-level classes to prepare for.  He can’t afford to stay up ruminating on the past.

           

*

 

 

Jinyoung doesn’t have much time to dwell on his emotions after the first night back.  His NEWT classes prove to be just as hard as he feared they’d be and the new first years are more mischievous than any he’s dealt with before, making being a prefect twice as difficult.  Several people have reported belongings going missing and Jinyoung’s almost positive a certain first year girl is behind it, but he can never find proof.  He wastes so much time trying to catch her in the act that he starts staying up late into the night to finish his homework.  He doesn’t have time to worry about his feelings for Jaebum or anything apart from school and prefect duties.  He promises Bambam that he’ll come and watch the Slytherin quidditch tryouts, but he catches some second year Gryffindors dropping dung bombs in the corridor and has to write them up for detention, listening to their protests all the while.  By the time he gets down to the quidditch pitch trials are already over.

“You promised you’d watch!”  Bambam scolds him.

“I’m sorry, Bambam, I got held up!”  Jinyoung apologies. Bambam scoffs at him.

“You never have time for anything these days!”  Bambam continues as if Jinyoung hadn’t said anything.  “I only see you because we’re in the same house!  When was the last time you properly hung out with Mark or Jaebum?”

“I do prefect patrols with Mark when I can!”  Jinyoung says, already feeling guilty.  He’s only really seen his other friends in passing in the corridors since they came back to school.

“But you don’t make time for the rest of us!” Bambam argues.  “Mark is a prefect and gets good grades and he still finds time for friends!”

“I’m really sorry Bambam, but doing well is really important for my future career,” Jinyoung.

“Whatever, man,” Bambam sighs.  “Just make sure you don’t miss the Hogsmeade trip next weekend!”

“I won’t,” Jinyoung promises.

 

*

 

 

Jinyoung is assigned a lengthy essay on patronuses that Friday.  He goes to the library to borrow as many books on them as he can find and gets to work right after classes end for the day.  Jinyoung has never been good at Patronuses.  He worries too much and gets distracted from whatever happy memory he’s trying to focus on.  The theory has never came naturally to him either.  He wants to get the essay done that night so he can go to Hogsmeade with his friends without worrying, but when the clock in the common room strikes 1 AM he still has at least half a foot left to write.  He falls asleep with is face on the lying on the still wet ink of his essay sometime around five in the morning.  When he wakes up, it’s already half past two in the afternoon.

Jinyoung unsticks his face from his paper and curses.  The last paragraph he wrote is completely smudged.  He yawns and looks up at the clock.  He nearly has a heart attack when he sees how late it is.  It’s Saturday, he thinks, calming himself.  He hasn’t slept through any classes.  He can spend the afternoon fixing and finishing his essay in peace.  He looks around the commonroom, apart from a few first and second years, it’s oddly deserted.  Where are all the upperclassmen?  Jinyoung wonders sleepily, then it hits him.  Hogsmeade.

“Shit!”  Jinyoung swears aloud.  He’s managed to flake out on his friends again.  Even if he leaves now they wouldn’t even have time for a quick drink at the three broomsticks with his friends. Jinyoung hits himself.  What am I going to tell them?

Jinyoung goes back to working on his essay, reasoning that if he finishes he might be able to spare some time the next day to spend with the friends he’s flaked out on.  He tries his best to think of a good conclusion, but nothing occurs to him.  He’s too distracted with guilty thought about his friends waiting for him in Hogsmeade.  After forty five minutes of working without getting much done, he decides to go up to the owlery to see if any letters came for him that morning.

 

*

 

When Jinyoung gets to the owlery there’s a letter from home and that day’s Daily Prophet waiting for him.  He grabs them both and starts heading back down to the dungeon. He’s descending the stairs from the fourth floor when he catches sight of a very dejected looking Jaebum, carry a large parcel in his arms as he climbs the stairs.

“Um… Hi.”  Jinyoung says awkwardly when Jaebum sees him. 

“Jinyoung!”  Jaebum smiles at him dazzlingly, all the gloom disappearing from his face as soon as he lays eyes on Jinyoung. “Where were you today? We were all waiting to surprise you in Hogsmeade!”

“To… surprise me?”  Jinyoung responds, confused. “Why?”

Jaebum laughs at him, and Jinyoung grins in spite of himself.  He isn’t sure what’s so amusing, but it’s nice to hear Jaebum laugh.  “Do you know what day it is?”

Jinyoung shakes his head and glances down at the Prophet in his hands. “September 22nd” he reads, he has to think for a moment but then smacks himself for being so forgetful.  “Oh!”  He exclaims.  “I can’t believe I forgot my own birthday.”

“We ordered a cake custom made from Honeydukes and everything.” Jaebum tells him.  “Bambam wanted to eat it without you when it was clear you weren’t going to show up, but I wouldn’t let him.”

“Th-thank you.”  Jinyoung says, feeling embarrassed.  “I’m sorry I forgot…”

“It’s your birthday, you don’t need to apologize!” Jaebum chides at him. “Congratulations on coming of age, Jinyoungie!”  Jaebum leans in like he wants to hug Jinyoung but then realizes if he does he’ll crush the cake.  They both laugh.  “You know, I don’t think anyone would be using that class room on a Saturday,” Jaebum murmurs, nodding at a door to Jinyoung’s right.  “You could have your cake now if you want.”

“I’d like that.” Jinyoung says smiling.  “I only woke up an hour ago.”  He tells Jaebum as they enter the room.  “I haven’t eaten anything since dinner last night.”

“You need to take care of yourself better!”  Jaebum scolds him as he takes the cake out of the bag and sets it on a table.  “Do I need to move back into the Slytherin Dungeon to make sure you eat properly?”

Jinyoung laughs and goes over to look at the cake.  Happy Birthday Jinyoung is written in shiny green icing.  Enchanted frosting snakes glide around the edges of the silver cake, so realistic Jinyoung wants to try to pet them.   “Do you like it?”  Jaebum murmurs in his ear, chin resting on Jinyoung’s shoulder.

“I love it.”  He says and turns to hug Jaebum.  “It’s really pretty and I’d like to look at it more but right now I’m really hungry.”  Jinyoung says into Jaebum’s neck.  He feels the vibration of Jaebum’s chuckle against his cheek.

“I got it for you to eat, Jinyoung.”  Jaebum says as he lets go of Jinyoung.  “Of course you can eat it.”  Jinyoung smiles as Jaebum pulls a knife from the bag and conjures Jinyoung a plate.  “Here,” He says, giving Jinyoung a generously large slice.  “Eat it.”

Jinyoung takes the plate from him gratefully, heart fluttering as his fingers brush against Jaebum’s.  He grabs a fork and starts stuffing his face.

“You have some too,” Jinyoung insists after a few bites.  “I feel weird eating when you aren’t and I won’t be all to finish it all myself anyway.”

“If you’re sure.”  Jaebum says, grudgingly helping himself to a slice.

 

“I got you another present.” Jaebum says when Jinyoung’s half way through his second slice of cake. Jinyoung tilts his head questioningly.  “The cake was… Well, it was my idea but everyone pitched in to buy it.  I wanted to get you something especially from me.”

“You didn’t have too!” Jinyoung responds.  “I’m amazed you even remembered my birthday! I didn’t!”

Jaebum laughs and reaches into the bag and pulls out a small box.  “I enchanted it myself.”  He tells Jinoung as he hands the box to him.  “It was tricky to get right, but I managed.”

Jinyoung fumbles with the lid of the box.  His hands are shaking with nervousness. When Jinyoung finally opens it he gasps.  “This can’t have been cheap,” he says staring at Jaebum.  “You shouldn’t have!”  Inside the box is an ornate gold watch.

“No give backs!” Jaebum tells him when he sees the intention in Jinyoung’s eyes.  “Will you wear it?”

Jinyoung still feels bad about accepting such an expensive gift, but he nods his head in agreement.  “Of course I’ll wear it.” Jinyoung says, then struck by a sudden surge of courage he asks. “Will you put it on for me?”

Jaebum takes the box from him and slides the watch onto Jinyoung’s wrist.  He doesn’t let go of Jinyoung’s hand once it’s on, instead he tightens his fingers around Jinyoung’s and asks. “How is it?”

“I love it,” Jinyoung breathes, getting lost in Jaebum’s gaze.

“I’ve put in custom alarms for you,” Jaebum tells him.  “Tap it with your once for a wake up alarm and twice for a reminder.  Then you can set the time here.”  Jaebum points to a small dial on the side of the watch Jinyoung hadn’t noticed.  “This way you won’t sleep in and miss anything important again, yeah?” Jinyoung nods.  They stare at each other for a few moments before Jaebum grins at him.

“What?” Jinyoung asks.

“You have some frosting on your-” Jaebum motions to his face and the stops, a new thought seeming to occur to him. “I’ll get it for you.”

Jinyoung expects Jaebum to wipe the frosting off his face with his hand.  He blinks in confusion when he realizes Jaebum’s face is getting a lot closer to his.  And then Jaebum’s lips are kissing him on the corner of his mouth.  Jaebum seems nervous and hesitant, making to turn away after a brief moment, but Jinyoung won’t have it like that.  After convincing himself that Jaebum liked him purely in a platonic sense he isn’t going to let the chance to kiss Jaebum slip by. He wraps his arms around Jaebum’s neck and kisses him full on the mouth. Jaebum seems surprised, freezing for a moment before putting his hands on Jinyoung’s waist and kissing him back.

When they finally part, Jinyoung is breathless and blushing. He opens his mouth to speak but only laughter comes out.  Jaebum has rendered him speechless.

“You’re cute,” Jaebum finally says.  Jinyoung blushes harder and buries his face in Jaebum’s neck.

“No you’re cute!”  Jinyoung shoots back once he’s composed himself enough to speak.  Jaebum looks like he’s about to say something else when the door of the classroom creaks open.

“There you guys are!”  Bambam cries.  Jinyoung and Jaebum quickly jump apart.  “We’ve been looking for you all over the castle!”  Bambam sticks his head back out the door.  “Mark! I found them!”

Jinyoung sighs and mutters “Of course it would be Bambam” under his breathe.  Jaebum must hear him because he suppresses a laugh.

“Almost all the cake is gone!” Bambam exclaims horrified when he turns back to them.  “How could you eat it without us!”

“Who said I was going to give you any?”  Jinyoung shoots back.  “I think I’ll eat the rest of himself,” He says, grabbing a handful of cake with his bare hand and shoving it into his mouth.

“Gross,” Bambam remarks, making a face.  “I can still eat the other side though.”

 

*

 

Jinyoung feels painfully awkward after the kiss.  He’s very aware that it might not actually mean anything.  What if Jaebum was just feeling lonely?  What if Jaebum doesn’t want anything from him beyond being friends who kiss each other sometimes?  What if Jaebum regrets kissing him?

The kiss definitely made Jinyoung happy, even though he’s practically tearing his hair out over what he should expect next.  He also really appreciates the watch Jaebum gave him.  It’s hard for Jinyoung to remember to actually set an alarm, but when he does he’s pleasantly surprised by a voice recording from Jaebum.  Even though he really likes waking up to Jaebum’s voice he’s too shy to use it very often because it’s embarrassing when his dorm mates glace over at him when Jaebum’s voice sings out ‘Wake up Jinyoungie~’ for everyone to hear.  When Bambam notices his new watch and asks about it Jinyoung lies and says he bought it himself because his old one stopped working.  He feels bad about lying about such a thoughtful gift, but while his relationship with Jaebum is still so unclear he doesn’t want to give any of his other friends the wrong idea.

He doesn’t necessarily avoid Jaebum after the incident, but he doesn’t seek him out either.  Because the two of them are in different years and in different houses they never really ran into each other much without trying anyway. Jinyoung is busy with prefect duties and Jaebum is busy with quidditch practices.

“What’s been up with you recently?”  Mark asks him one night while they’re patrolling the west wing together. “You seem a bit odd.”

“It’s… it’s nothing.” Jinyoung lies. “I guess I’m just nervous about the future.”

Mark shakes his head. “Last year you were nervous about the future. It seems different than that.”  Jinyoung doesn’t deny that Mark is right, but keeps quiet.  “You can still talk to me about whatever’s on your mind, Jinyoung,” Mark says. “I won’t tell anyone. Not even Jackson.”

“Jaebum and I… We- we kissed.” Jinyoung blurts out into the dark hallway.  He stops walking and looks back at Mark, unsure of what kind of reaction to expect.

“About time!” Marks states, raising his eyebrows at Jinyoung. “And?”

“And… Nothing.” Jinyoung sighs. “Bambam walked in right after before either of us could say anything about it.”

“Did Bambam see?”

“No!” Jinyoung exclaims.  “I mean, he saw us with our arms around each other, but he didn’t seem to think that it was at all unusual.”

“Of course not,” Mark laughs.  “So? Have you talked to Jaebum since then?”

“No,” Jinyoung admits.  “I’m afraid he… I’m afraid.”

“You like him right?” Mark asks.

“Of course I like him!”

“I mean, you like him in an ‘I want to be your boyfriend’ kind of way.”  Mark clarifies, eyes boring into Jinyoung.

“Yes.” Jinyoung says quietly. “I’m scared that Jaebum just wants someone to make out with.”

“You’re an idiot, Jinyoung.”  Mark admonishes. “Have you seen the way he looks at you?  He’d do anything for you.”

“You think so?”  Jinyoung asks weakly.  He wishes he had Mark’s certainty.

“Anyone who’s seen you two would say as much.” Mark assures him lightly. “Go talk to him tomorrow. It’ll turn out well, I promise.”

Jinyoung nods quietly.  He knows that Mark is being logical but all he can imagine is the worst possibility.  He does want to talk to Jaebum, but he doesn’t know where he’ll find the courage.  Maybe it isn’t surprising that he wasn’t sorted into Gryffindor.

 

*

 

As it turns out, Jinyoung doesn’t need to worry about being brave enough to go look for Jaebum. Jaebum comes to him.  Jinyoung is walking out of his last class before afternoon break when he’s pulled into an empty classroom. Jinyoung is startled at first and is about to yell when he looks up and realizes it’s just Jaebum.

“Have you been avoiding me?” Jaebum asks, cutting straight to the chase.

“No,” Jinyoung answers, half-truthfully.  He’s suddenly very aware of how close Jaebum is standing.  If Jinyoung were to step forward a little their foreheads would touch.

“Then why has it been so hard to track you down?” Jaebum presses. Jinyoung feels slightly ashamed of himself.

“I’ve been busy,” He says quietly. Jaebum grunts, and Jinyoung can tell that Jaebum only half believes him.  He sighs.

“We need to talk about the kiss.” Jaebum says bluntly and Jinyoung nods solemnly.

“So?” Jaebum presses on. “What do you want to happen to us now?”  Jinyoung tenses, not enjoying the feeling of being put of the spot.

“What do you want, Jaebum?”  Jinyoung asks after an awkward moment of quiet.

“You go first.”  Jaebum insists stubbornly.

“I- ” Jinyoung starts, unsure of how to proceed. “I liked it.”  He finishes lamely, peeking up at Jaebum nervously.  Jinyoung is relieved when Jaebum softens.

“I liked it too.” Jaebum tells Jinoung quietly, reaching forward to stroke Jinyoung’s cheek. “Would it be okay if I…” Jaebum pauses and Jinyoung cocks his head questioningly. “Kissed you again?” Jaebum finishes. Jinyoung feels himself smile and nods.

Jaebum leans in and presses his lips to Jinyoung’s gently.  Their first kiss was fast and frantic, an explosision of mutual pent up longing.  This kiss is sweet and tender, and Jinyoung wants to lose himself in the moment.  When Jaebum pulls his lips away he presses his forehead to Jinyoung’s and sighs.

“Jinyoung,” Jaebum says slowly.  “Do you want to be my boyfriend?”

“Yes,” Jinyoung answers grinning and nodding. “I really really want to be your boyfriend.”

Jaebum grins in response and leans in to kiss Jinyoung again. Jaebum wraps his arms around him and hold him tight, like he’s afraid Jinyoung might melt away if he lets go. Jinyoung is so happy he feels like he might burst.

“Break is almost over,” Jinyoung murmurs grudgingly once Jaebum lets go of him.  “What class do you have next?”

“Transfiguration,” Jaebum tells him, hands still on. “You?”

“Defense against the Dark Arts,” Jinyoung says regretfully, wishing he could have more time alone with Jaebum in the empty classroom.

“Want to skip?” Jaebum jokes, laughing at Jinyoung’s horrified expression. “Just kidding.” He says quickly before Jinyoung can hit him.  “I’ll walk you to your class.”

Jaebum’s hand feels warm around his as they descend the moving staircases together. Just before Jinyoung has to turn into the DADA classroom and leave Jaebum, Jaebum pull him close again.

“The next Hogsmeade trip is two weeks from now,” Jaebum says awkwardly.  “Do you want to go with me? Just the two of us, you know.”

“Yeah,” Jinyoung replies nodding. “I’d like that.”

Even though the lesson that day is one of the hardest Jinyoung’s had yet, he still feels relaxed and happy.  Even if the rest of the day turned out awful, Jinyoung doesn’t think anything could dampen his good mood.

 

*

 

When Jinyoung and Jaebum join their friends in the library the next day everyone has a different reaction.  Jackson whoops at the sight of them holding hands and exclaims “JINBUM!” so loudly that Jinyoung’s surprised the librarian doesn’t rush over to shush him. Mark rolls his eyes at Jackson and asks “so you two are finally dating?”  as if he doesn’t already know the answer. Bambam pretends to be grossed out but Jinyoung sees Yugyeom grudgingly hand him a few galleons under the table.  Jinyoung guesses that they were betting on how long it would take him and Jaebum to get together.  Youngjae just smiles and looks genuinely happy for them.

“I thought we were going to have to lock the two of you up and force you guys to talk through the sexual tension.” Mark tells them as they sit down. 

“Good job Jaebum!”  Jackson congratulates Jaebum, slapping him on the back.  “It was painful watching you pine after Jinyoung for Merlin knows how long.”  Jinyoung hears Jaebum kick Jackson under the table.

“Really?”  Jinyoung turns towards Jackson, smiling mischievously.  “Tell me more.”

“All he ever talks to me about is how ‘Jinyoung smiled at me today,’” Jackson crows. “‘Jinyoung is ignoring me’, ‘Jinyoung will never like me’ ‘Jinyoung-‘” Jinyoung doesn’t hear the end of Jackson’s sentence because Jaebum covers his ears.  Jinyoung tries to wriggle away, but by the time he gets away Jackson is done talking and busy dodging a Jaebum’s irritated swipes. 

“Wow,” Jinyoung giggles, gazing into Jaebum’s pink-cheeked face.  “I didn’t realize you were that worked up over me.”

“You’re hardly better,” Mark puts in unhelpfully.  “You bottle your feelings up trying to pretend they don’t exist and act distant and cold to everyone.  Then as soon as you’re around Jaebum you cling to him and act nice.  It’s like a complete personality reversal.”

Jaebum laughs and Jinyoung swats at him.  “I am not cold and distant!”

“I wouldn’t say you act cold,” Youngjae says fairly.  “You just like to put up walls.”  Jinyoung smiles in embarrassment, unable to deny it.  It’s too easy for him to isolate himself from everyone.

 

*

 

Jinyoung wakes up early on the Saturday of his anticipated Hogsmeade date. He didn’t intentionally stay up late the night before, but between excitement and nerves it was hard to fall asleep.  When he glances at his watch and sees how early it is he shuts his eyes again and tries to get a few more minutes of sleep, but he’s already overthinking everything about the day to come.  Even though Jaebum’s been his boyfriend for two weeks, Jinyoung still isn’t quite used to being in a relationship.  The moment Jaebum changed from friend to boyfriend Jinyoung felt unsure of how much differently he should act and became afraid of making mistakes.  He really likes being with Jaebum, but he still feels like he isn’t doing enough to make Jaebum happy.  Even before they were in a relationship Jaebum went out of his way to take care of Jinyoung.  In contrast Jinyoung still studies too hard and often forgets little things and comes late when Jaebum wants to spend time with him. He apologies and Jaebum assures him it’s okay, but he still feels guilty.  Jinyoung wishes he could have a book to teach him how to be the perfect boyfriend.  He considers actually looking for one in the library, but he’s too afraid of his friends, or worse Jaebum, catching him with it. 

Jinyoung meets Jaebum in the entrance hall at nine o’clock.  Jaebum is already there waiting for him, looking casually handsome leaned up against a pillar.  When Jaebum looks up Jinyoung waves at him shyly.

“Did I make you wait?”  Jinyoung asks as Jaebum takes his hand.

“Not long,” Jaebum answers blandly. Then seeing the guilt in Jinyoung’s eyes Jaebum adds, “Don’t worry about it, there’s no rush.”  He squeezes Jinyoung’s hand and smiles at him warmly.  Jinyoung feels bad for making Jaebum reassure him.

The morning is clear and crisp as they walk down to Hogsmeade after checking in with the teachers.  The autumn wind is cold and biting, making Jinyoung shiver a little even though he’s wearing a heavy scarf and a sweater under his robes. Jaebum notices and pulls him close.  Jinyoung still can’t feel his ears, but his face suddenly feels a bit warmer.

“Where do you want to go?” Jaebum asks him when they’re in sight of the village.

“I’m not sure,” Jinyoung mumbles. “Wherever you want to go I suppose.”

Jaebum looks into the distance.  “Remember that time two years ago when we ran into each other at the Shrieking Shack?”

Jinyoung frowns.  He’s flattered and little embarrassed that Jaebum looks on the awkward encounters of the past with such fondness, but Jaebum can’t expect him to want to go to Shrieking Shack while the wind is so strong.  “You’re not dragging me to Shieking Shack.”

“I wasn’t suggesting it,” Jaebum says laughing.  “Being here with you just made me think back to that.”  Jinyoung would probably be blushing if his cheeks weren’t already red from the chill of the wind.

“I want to go somewhere warm.”  Jinyoung puts forward after a few moments of them both awkwardly standing at the village entrance.

“Let’s head to Honeydukes then,” Jaebum decides. “I’ll buy you something sweet.”

 

Jaebum buys Jinyoung a box of cauldron cakes, some treacle fudge, and some jelly slugs.  Jinyoung told him that he didn’t need to buy him so many sweets, but Jaebum insisted.  After they leave Honeydukes Jaebum drags Jinyoung to Zonko’s despite his protests that as a prefect he should set a good example by not buying items banned at the school.  Jaebum points out that the Hogwarts caretakers haven’t banned the entirety of the products, but Jinyoung still ducks behind a shelf whenever he catches sight of anyone he knows within the store.  Jaebum laughs softly and wraps his arms around Jinyoung as he cowers out of sight.

They end the date by going to the Three Broomsticks for butterbeer.  They manage to slip unseen past Bambam, Yugyeom, and Youngjae at the bar and settle themselves at a small table in the far corner.  Jaebum holds Jinyoung’s hand over the table as they chatter idly while waiting for their drinks.  When the butterbeers come Jinyoung gets foam on his upper lip and Jaebum uses it as an excuse to lean over the table and kiss him.  Jinyoung forgets that they’re in public at first and kisses Jaebum back with enthusiasm, but when Jaebum pulls away after a few moments he remembers where they are and reddens.  Jinyoung has never been a fan of PDA.  He likes it when Jaebum holds his hand or touches him casually, he even enjoys the occasional kiss on the cheek or forhead in public spaces.  But Jinyoung could never be like Mark and Jackson, always finding excuses for full, mouth to mouth kisses regardless of the situation.  Jinyoung likes to save those kind of kisses for more intimate locations like deserted classrooms and empty corners of the library.  Jaebum notices his embarrassment when he sees Jinyoung furtively glancing around the pub to make sure no one is looking at them funny and squeezes Jinyoung’s hand in reassurance.

When they walk back up to the castle in the late afternoon the weather is twice as bad.  Jaebum pulls Jinyoung in tightly to his side in an effort to share as much warmth as they can, but they’re both shivering when they walk back into the entrance hall.

“You should go warm yourself by the fire in your common room,” Jaebum murmurs to Jinyoung, cupping his cold cheek in a gloved hand.

In your common room. It’s times like these when Jinyoung wishes they were in the same house.  He wishes he could curl up against Jaebum by the fire and gaze out the windows at the fish swimming by with him.  Maybe this is why most people only date within their house. Even so, Jinyoung likes dating Jaebum too much to worry about what other people might think.  If anything, it’s the house system that’s wrong, not them.  It was the house system that tore them apart for four years and it’s the house system that keeps Jinyoung from spending more time with Jaebum now.  What good has separating people up ever done for anyone?

“I wish you could come with me,” Jinyoung sighs, leaning into Jaebum’s touch.

“So do I,” Jaebum says against his lips. Jinyoung tilts his head forward to close the distance between them. Jaebum’s lips are warm and inviting and Jinyoung wishes he could stand there and kiss him forever instead of going back to the dungeons.

“You’re still shivering,” Jaebum tells him when they finally pull apart.  “Go back and get warm.”  He presses one last kiss on Jinyoung’s cheek before turning up the stairs and away from Jinyoung.