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quidditch gloves, parchment, and custard cream

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They met in first year in one of the rocky little wooden boats up to the castle. A skinny boy had plunked down next to Matsukawa, quaking a bit with either nerves or the lake-chill, and consequently tapping his shoe into Matsukawa’s with every third bounce of his knee.

Matsukawa remembers vividly that he’d been wearing socks with little Golden Snitches embroidered mid-flight along the blue background, quite visible with the way his uniform slacks were cuffed a few times at the ankle, baggy and looking passed down a year or two early.

Matsukawa’s mouth had moved on it’s own without even letting his brain try to catch up. “Nimbus or Cleansweep?” he’d asked.

Hanamaki had looked over at him, before they’d even known each other at all, and smiled so wide Matsukawa could see his back molars and the little dimples poking into his speckled cheeks. “Neither—Yajirushi, of course.”

Of course.

And just like that, a friendship was born.


“I don’t think I’ll make it through the year,” Oikawa bemoans into his oatmeal, eyes weepy and melodramatic as ever.

“Shut up, Tooru,” Iwaizumi says, an automatic reflex, his nose buried in a fifth level History of Magic textbook.

Hanamaki shoots Matsukawa a sidelong glance, smirk wrapping his lips, a sort of ‘look at these poor idiots’ twinkle going on in the greyish depths of his eyes. Matsukawa returns the look with an even more exaggerated eye roll, watching with amusement as Hanamaki starts tickling the side of Oikawa’s long exposed neck with the wooly silver-green fringe of his scarf.

Generally in the Great Hall everyone sits with their own house, but it’s late breakfast on the first Saturday of the new school year and no one really seems to care, doesn’t usually anyways when it comes to the four of them. It’s been pretty much the same since the start when they were all scrawny, wide-eyed first-years and Matsukawa barely knew how to hold a wand.

“You’ll miss me when I’m gone, Iwa-chan. Just you wait,” Oikawa snuffles out, pawing at Hanamaki’s scarf before resorting to bodily shoving himself into the other's shoulder in retaliation.

“You’ve been cramming for O.W.L.s since last year already,” Hanamaki says through snorts of laughter as he scoots further down the bench and out of Oikawa’s reach. “I’m sure you’ll get Outstanding in every subject, you bastard.”

Oikawa and Hanamaki have been roommates since first year, the two Slytherins almost as close as Oikawa is with Iwaizumi. Still, Matsukawa watches with just the tiniest flare of envy as Hanamaki tugs Oikawa practically into his lap in order to properly muss up his perpetually perfect hair.

“Makki!” Oikawa whines and by now they’ve managed to drag quite a few stares their way, but no one seems to really be all that surprised. “Iwa-chan, help.”

Iwaizumi’s response is to stand his book up on the table, effectively tuning Oikawa out as he hides behind its thick pages. Matsukawa’s sure he’s had plenty of practice dealing with distraction in the Gryffindor common room—and specifically Oikawa too in all their time growing up together even before their Hogwarts letters had arrived.

“But you’re a prefect now—”

“And you’re captain—buck up.”

Over his cup of Earl Grey, Matsukawa catches a few Ravenclaw third-years tittering behind their hands as they take in the display, blushing and eyeing not only Oikawa (“I can’t help it if they fawn after my natural charm, Iwa-chan!”) but Hanamaki as well.

It’s no secret that the two are popular, both starting players for the Slytherin Quidditch team, top in their class and handsome, if Matsukawa’s being perfectly honest with himself. Still, it makes something in his stomach clench a bit watching those ogling eyes move down, down, down until—

Matsukawa stands so abruptly from his seat that the entire bench scrapes piercingly against the floor, the cup still clutched in his hand sloshing dangerously. Both Hanamaki and Oikawa look up from where Oikawa’s got Hanamaki pinned against the table, both of their backsides on permanent display to the entirety of Matsukawa’s impressionable underclassmen. And, if he’s being clear, to himself as well.

“Mattsun, what’s wrong?” Oikawa huffs, finally allowing Hanamaki to twist away and plop back down on the bench with a few breathless chuckles. His face is ruddy and Matsukawa can’t seem to help himself from staring openly at it, at the freckles dotting Hanamaki’s cheeks and the pull of plush lips.

Iwaizumi peeks over the edge of his textbook curiously and across the room Matsukawa catches one of his roommates, Sawauchi, watching him with a bizarre look. Hanamaki, it seems, is the only one who doesn’t find Matsukawa’s behavior at all out-of-the-ordinary.

“Gotta—” Matsukawa clears his throat. “Got an essay for Ancient Runes due Monday, just remembered.”

“C’mon, it’s first Saturday. Do it tomorrow, Issei,” Hanamaki says, leaning back against the table with his arms spread to give Matsukawa the upside-down version of his best petulant pout.

At this he sits back down almost automatically. Overhead a tawny owl flies in through an open window to drop a parcel of letters at the far end of a table crowded by a bunch of N.E.W.T. commiserating Hufflepuff seventh-years. Oikawa blinks at him, not bothering to hide his all-knowing smirk, and Iwaizumi goes back to studying with a commiserating grunt.

Hanamaki, for what it’s worth, just grins victoriously.

Matsukawa has learned a breadth of knowledge so far in his four years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but the one thing he hasn’t managed to quite nail down is how to deny one Hanamaki Takahiro.


Early into the fall term, when the weather is still balmy enough to walk about without extra layers, Matsukawa finds himself curled in the long grass by the lake with Hanamaki next to him going on about the dismal lot they’d gotten during Quidditch trials and fucking career aptitude and eating custard profiteroles like it’s his last supper.

“I dunno, I can kinda see you being a writer for the Daily Prophet,” Matsukawa muses. “You’re good with words and being nosy.”

“Oi, fuck off,” Hanamaki grumbles around licking sticky caramel from his thumb. “Journalism is a serious career option for me.”

Matsukawa nods as solemnly as he can with his head supported in his bent-arm palm. “I support you in all your future endeavors.”

Hanamaki’s eyes roll, but it’s filled with enough endearment that Matsukawa feels his cheeks start to flush. “What about you then? Thought about it at all?”

“Kinda have to with Sterling breathing down my neck about it and all,” Matsukawa shrugs, picturing Ravenclaw’s head of house and her exasperated brow wrinkle-furrow combo. “M’not bad with numbers—maybe Arithmancy?”

Hanamaki rubs a sugary finger over his chin sagely. “I could see that.”

There’s a long bout of silence that follows then, long enough that beneath the dappled shade and the slow lap of water against the shoreline, Matsukawa’s eyes begin to droop shut. Behind his lids he conjures up an image of an older Hanamaki, maybe a bit of copper scruff crawling up his chin, a notebook in hand and a quill tucked behind his ear.

He’s just slipping to the other side of wakefulness, when Hanamaki lets out a long, huffy groan and flops onto his back in the grass alongside Matsukawa. “I think I’m gonna die just thinking about all this shit.”

Matsukawa blinks sleepily, admiring the creamy plane of Hanamaki’s neck, his profile illuminated with a bit of late-afternoon sunlight. “Don’t go sounding like Oikawa,” he says, languidly amused.

Hanamaki scrunches his nose in offense, turning on his side to face Matsukawa more fully. “S’just that I hate thinking about all this adult stuff when I feel like I’m still a kid.”

“You are still a kid.”

“Older than you, asshole.”

“I thought you wanted to be a kid?”

“It’s just—” Hanamaki groans again, but this time Matsukawa can see the actual lines of stress visible on his face when he does so. “I’m not ready to even begin thinking about having to leave this place, leave all my friends and Quidditch and you.”

And you.

It’s tacked on at the end, but Hanamaki says it with such importance that Matsukawa feels it resonate deep, deep within his ribcage. A sort of longing, heady feeling that he wants to bottle up in one of the little glass decanters from the potions storage closet.

“I know what you mean,” Matsukawa answers, pitching his voice as low as he can even though there’s not a soul around to hear it other than the boy in the grass next to him.

“Guess we’ve still got three years, little less than,” Hanamaki says, wistful if nothing else. “Gotta make the most of it while we can, yeah?”

“Yeah,” Matsukawa agrees emphatically even though, for some reason, it feels a tiny bit like a lie. To himself or Hanamaki, he’s not entirely sure.


Matsukawa’s mother and father live in Hastings and he was brought up in a primarily Muggle household, save for the dishes that washed themselves and chocolate frogs and his father’s very much off-limits study. His mother is a Muggle schoolteacher and his father works as a Curse-Breaker for the Ministry of Magic in the Office for the Removal of Curses, Jinxes, and Hexes.

So, growing up Matsukawa had been exposed to a fair-bit of magic and when he’d received his acceptance letter by owl, his parents had been overjoyed, his mother particularly so.

“Your father has so many wonderful memories from Hogwarts, Issei,” she’d said. “You’re going to love it there.”

And, in fact, he does love it there. He loves it very much.

He thinks, maybe, that he just might also love—

Aw, shit.

This year Matsukawa and the other Ravenclaw fifth-years share Potions alongside their Slytherin counterparts, which is both awesome (because Hanamaki) but also dreadful (because Hanamaki).

Matsukawa himself isn’t sure he’s necessarily Outstanding level at Potions, but he knows for a fact that Hanamaki certainly is not.

Language,” Professor Leveret tuts blandly from across the room as he directs a pair of Ravenclaws in properly measuring Flobberworm Mucus.

“Makki, for heaven’s sake—” Oikawa sputters from across the table. “Mattsun, help him.”

Matsukawa blinks, realizing he’d been caught in some foggy thread of thought and hadn’t been paying any attention at all to the goings-on around him. Which is definitely stupid of him for a multitude of reasons, considering O.W.L.s. But probably mostly because Hanamaki cannot, under any circumstances, be left unsupervised when potion brewing.

Somewhere in between heating the cauldron and adding the Valerian Sprigs, Hanamaki had managed to set the entire thing to boil over.

Matsukawa purses his lips as he stares at the bubbling (definitely not supposed to be bubbling) mixture as it creeps its way across the table near his brand-new Potions and Draughts textbook, advanced level. With a flick of his wand-handling wrist, he’s able to save most of the already properly brewed Sleep Draught, pushing it back into the cauldron from whence it came and lowering the heat all in one go. Probably salvageable. Maybe.

Hanamaki stares into the liquid now simmering slowly, his lips pulled down in an unnatural way that Matsukawa, objectively, fucking hates.

“Sorry about that,” Hanamaki says. “Don’t know how—bet you wish you had a better desk-mate, huh?”

Matsukawa turns to him, probably a bit wild-eyed, but he doesn’t really care. Across the table he can sense Oikawa’s unimpressed look, but ignores it in favor of stirring the brew seven times, clockwise.

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” he answers, keeping his expression as serious as possible, even in the face of Hanamaki’s responding thousand-watt grin.


 

After the end of their third year Matsukawa had stayed with Hanamaki and his family for two weeks of the summer holiday in their house in Langdon.

It had been quite an interesting time, considering both Hanamaki’s parents are magical born, along with his older brother and sister, now since grown and out of the house. Matsukawa is an only child, but he’d always envied those with siblings, though both Oikawa and Hanamaki tell him on a near daily basis that really, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

That summer had been warm, unseasonably so, and it had found Hanamaki and Matsukawa eating ice-pops by the handful, magically charmed not to melt in the sun, and laying about near the brook settled through the thicket of trees behind Hanamaki’s father’s work-shed. 

They’d also done other things, like taken a bus to Dover just so Hanamaki could try out Muggle transportation and gone to Diagon Alley by Floo to meet up with Oikawa and Iwaizumi. They’d even gone to East Devon for a day to take in the stack-rocks and cliffy coastline.

Hanamaki’s mother made loads of traditional food for them—tonkatsu and ramen and cute onigiri that Matsukawa hadn’t eaten in years. His father had asked Matsukawa all about landline telephone communication and the purpose of a VCR and the concept of bank cards. 

They worked on summer assignments together, bickered about Quidditch, and played at least several dozen games of Exploding Snap. At night sometimes Hanamaki would pull Matsukawa out his third story bedroom window and onto the roof to look at the stars, much clearer and brighter here than possibly anywhere Matsukawa had seen them before.

It’s these moments that Matsukawa remembers most, the moments when he thought truly and honestly that he might be able to softly twine his fingers together with Hanamaki’s while he mapped out constellations overhead and get away with it. And maybe, if he were lucky enough, Hanamaki wouldn’t even be bothered enough to mention it and instead just simply hold his hand back.

But he hadn’t done that, he’d just left Hanamaki’s hand open and empty on the pantile roof and when they’d gone back to Hogwarts for their fourth year, sitting squished together in a train compartment with a rowdy group of Slytherins and Iwaizumi and that one Hufflepuff friend of Yahaba’s, Matsukawa had realized that maybe he should have.


 

A week before the Halloween Feast, a long-eared owl that Matsukawa recognizes as belonging to Hanamaki’s father, swoops low over the Ravenclaw table to drop a small, parchment wrapped parcel into Matsukawa’s waiting lap.

It takes all of about thirty seconds for Hanamaki’s body to plop down next to him on the bench, legs faced the wrong way and with an ever-growing look of confusion on his face.

“Nothing for me, Winnie?” he asks the owl. She stares at him, unimpressed, before hopping up Matsukawa’s shoulder to give Hanamaki’s nose a soft little nip.

“Is it really for you, then?” Hanamaki asks, turning his attention to Matsukawa when Winifred flaps her wings back up into the air, mission accomplished.

Matsukawa studies the little package and finds Hanamaki’s mother’s pretty cursive scrawl with both their names in the address. “A joint correspondence,” Matsukawa hums, feeling a bit cheeky at the put-out look Hanamaki gives.

Matsukawa goes to tug at the twine wrapping, but Hanamaki is quick to snatch it out of his grip. While he waits for the knot to be taken care of, Matsukawa watches across the room as Iwaizumi paces up and down the front end of the Gryffindor table, ranting about something (likely Quidditch or Oikawa, it’s always a gamble) with that familiar, scowling fourth-year Beater, Kyoutani, hot at his heels.

“Homemade pumpkin pasties and caramel cobwebs—and she thinks I’m going to share with you?” Hanamaki looks absolutely scandalized at the thought, staring off into the middle-distance just long enough for Matsukawa to pluck a pastie from the box and take a bite. Magically still warm from the oven.

“Hey—you’re not even her son!

“Says right here—” Matsukawa leans into Hanamaki’s shoulder to point down at the letter written out on pretty peach stationary. “‘Issei, we miss you. Please come visit soon, sweetie.’

“Sounds like your mum likes him better,” Kunimi, a Ravenclaw third-year that Matsukawa’s recently taken under his wing, says from across the table. He’s got his nose buried in a stack of parchment, but he looks more like he’s trying not to fall asleep than actually studying.

Hanamaki flails his arms around, not seeming to care about the stares he receives in return from around the Great Hall. “She doesn’t know the real you. So far she’s only gotten the charming and polite version!”

Matsukawa smirks, popping the other half of the dessert into his mouth and chewing thoughtfully. “Aw, you think I’m charming?”

“And polite?” Kunimi scoffs, still not looking up from the table. “Yeah, right.”

At this it seems that Hanamaki’s had quite enough, because two seconds after Matsukawa manages to swallow the sweet treat, Hanamaki is wrestling the box away and smashing his hand against Matsukawa’s face when he tries to retaliate.

“I’m hiding the rest in the Slytherin common room!”

“Good thing you told me the password like three days ago when you left your copy of Defensive Magical Theory in the library.”

“Issei, you bastard—”

Someone pushes in to break up the squabble and Matsukawa counts them lucky, between bouts of hiccuping laughter, that it’s only Iwaizumi’s angry face. “You two better knock it the fuck off before you make me actually perform any prefectly duties.”

In the end, Hanamaki gets away with most of the Halloween goodies, but Matsukawa does manage to filch a few caramels for himself. Really, though, he can’t complain—the motherly approval and Hanamaki’s flaming blush are enough reward for him.


In early November, Slytherin manages a win over Gryffindor for the first game of the Quidditch season.

Matsukawa watches from the stands as the tiny Slytherin Seeker, a fourth-year that Chaser-Hanamaki had apparently hand-picked, manages to wrap her deft fingers around the twtichy-glowy Golden Snitch and with that, the match is over.

Things get a bit hazy and wild from then on. Everyone around him is up-in-arms one way or another, either cheering or jeering, and even Matsukawa’s fellow Ravenclaws are getting in on the act. He himself, no surprise to anyone, hollers in Slytherin’s favor, though he certainly commends the other team for their valiant effort.

All this and the cherry on top: during the trek off the field just below the roaring stands, Oikawa grabs Iwaizumi around the neck and kisses him smack on the lips in front of the entirety of the student body, professors and head master included.

Shortly thereafter, Matsukawa is privy to the celebration currently taking place in the Slytherin common room, firewhisky and flushed cheeks abundant.

“You were great,” he murmurs into Hanamaki’s ear, their close proximity only due to the leather couch’s over-population, the near-deafening music playing from Yahaba’s charmed radio-speakers, and the bit of courageous warmth buzzing in Matsukawa’s stomach.

“Course I was—fuckin’ great, at that,” Hanamaki says back, a pleasant slur to his words that has Matsukawa grinning uncontrollably.

In the midst of the celebration no one had thought to really be bothered at all by the fact that one of Gryffindor’s star players (and prefects) has their darling Captain Oikawa stuck firm in his lap with burly arms around his waist and lips pressing into the crook of his jaw.

Matsukawa watches, his half-drunk mind whirring with indecision. He should be happy for his friends—they’d been dancing around each other for ages now, it had been about goddamn time. But also—there’s something else, some distinct ache just beneath his ribcage that feels suspiciously like envy.

“They’re so cute I think I might puke,” Hanamaki says with a few fake gagging noises for emphasis.

Matsukawa wants nothing more than to simply agree, but suddenly his arms feel heavy with the desire to wrap around Hanamaki’s waist and pull him close.

A Slytherin their age, Wil-something, totters over offering up a few cups of drink and Hanamaki accepts for them both, offering some sort of inside-house joke and a few snorts of tipsy laughter in return.

“You know he’s had a crush on you since third year?” Hanamaki whispers into Matsukawa’s ear when they’re relatively alone once more. His words tickle, warm and thick, against Matsukawa’s skin.

“Wilkinson?” he mutters out, even though he really doesn’t need to clarify. He can remember a few red-cheeked glances in Transfiguration last year, but he’s just now remembered a face to a name.

Hanamaki giggles, actually titters, right into Matsukawa’s cheek. “You’re just too irresistible, Issei.”

Across the room Oikawa lets loose some kind of loud squawk as Iwaizumi lifts him in a bridal-style carry, seemingly none-too disappointed after his team’s loss. The season’s just begun, at least.

Matsukawa turns further towards Hanamaki, watches the way his throat works around a swallow and his features pucker into some kind of grimace at the taste. He coughs audibly and Matsukawa chuckles warmly, entirely too endeared to care about the well of jealousy slowly leeching out inside his chest.

“Better go easy. Got any potions for hangover?” he says around a tipsy smirk.

Hanamaki shrugs bodily, tucking his feet up on the couch and leaning further into Matsukawa, if that were at all possible. “You’ll take care of me, right?” he mumbles, the words nearly lost in his lazy-hazy sigh.

Matsukawa thinks probably he shouldn’t answer such a question as that with a belly full of firewhisky and longing, but he nods anyways. And really, who could resist?

“Of course,” he says and lets Hanamaki fall asleep on his chest and totes him down to the Great Hall for brunch the next morning—because that’s what best friends are for, right?


With the end of term comes the first winter snow, a blanket of sparkly white nestling the castle in its chill, and the addition of fresh-pine trees in the Great Hall and common rooms, charmed color-changing tinsel hung over doorways, and sugarplum garland woven into the eaves.

Everyone Matsukawa knows is planning to travel home for the Christmas holiday, so they’ve decided to treat their last term trip to Hogsmeade as a sort of intimate party, which is a much better excuse to drink gallons of butterbeer than their usual ones. 

Their little rag-tag group commandeers a long table in the back corner of The Three Broomsticks, nearest to the warmth from the large stone-brick fireplace. Hanamaki slides down the bench next to Matsukawa with Yahaba, Watari, and Kyoutani across from them. The ends of the table are taken by Kunimi and Kindaichi, bookended opposite by Oikawa and Iwaizumi, glued nearly at the hip.

It hasn’t taken long at all for Oikawa and Iwaizumi to become insufferable; Oikawa finding a seat in Iwaizumi’s lap whenever possible and holding hands in the hallways and snogging in the Quidditch broom cupboard. Hanamaki complains on the daily about their PDA, and Matsukawa can understand, but also he sort of finds it comforting knowing his friends can finally just be together.

“One Galleon says you can’t go five minutes without any funny business,” Hanamaki says, pointing an accusatory finger at Oikawa specifically.

“Define ‘funny business,’” Yahaba says, licking a bit of foam from his lips.

Watari grins, cheeks red and warm, tugging at his yellow-black scarf. “I’m in for the next round of butterbeer.”

“How about a betting pool?” Kindaichi chuckles, albeit with a nervous glance towards Iwaizumi.

Oikawa huffs, loud and dramatic as ever. “You’re all just jealous,” he says with a pout before tugging Iwaizumi close enough to smack a loud, showy kiss against his cheek.

Hanamaki smirks, leaning back on the bench with arms folded over his chest. “See, I told you they wouldn’t last.”

Iwaizumi, cheeks ruddy from more than just the fireplace heat, sends a deep-set scowl to the entire table. “Oh, fuck off.”

Together they sit and gossip, commiserating over end-of-year assignments and holiday homework, and savor their warm mugs of drink and the mismatched yet comforting company.

After a while, Hanamaki leans into Matsukawa’s shoulder with a bit more purpose, turning to glance at him through a thick layer of copper lashes. Around them, their younger companions have settled into idle enough conversation that they don’t really pay much mind to Oikawa and Iwaizumi canoodling at the head of the table, nor Hanamaki’s soft looks and Matsukawa’s increasingly warm features.

“You want your present now or later?” Hanamaki asks, soft enough to be intimate conversation.

Matsukawa cannot, for the life of him, stop his mind from going down a rabbit-hole of inappropriate thoughts and innuendos, but he does at least manage to get his mouth to cooperate in the most mildest of manners.

“I brought your gift along, just in case—so it’s up to you,” he breathes out, enjoying the weighty feel of Hanamaki’s lounging body against him.

They’ve finished several glass tankards, enough to provide the slightest warm buzz in Matsukawa’s stomach and, by the look in Hanamaki’s eyes, he’s feeing the same. It’s enough to feel just a slight bit bolder than usual, enough that Matsukawa doesn’t think much when he slings his arm around Hanamaki’s waist to pull themselves closer.

“Now, please.” Hanamaki squeezes his eyes shut, cheeks puffing out with his cute little pouty-grin.

Matsukawa stifles a laugh as Hanamaki makes some grabby motions with his hands, too entirely endeared to care if anyone is watching after them. He reaches obligingly into the pocket of his thick winter coat and hands over a longish package wrapped in mirrorball paper purchased from a shop down the street just after the leaves had begun to fall from the trees.

Hanamaki is careful, meticulously so, as he unwraps the paper and removes the lid from the thin box to reveal a pair of deerskin Quidditch gloves, mahogany in shade, with shining emerald and silver piping and embroidery along the wrist-pads. Matsukawa watches him, breath shallow enough that it feels as though he’s not even breathing at all. They’re pressed so close together that it takes very little effort to read Hanamaki’s expression: awed with the tiniest bit of pink flush crawling up his freckled cheeks and ears.

“I—shit, Issei,” Hanamaki hisses, though there’s a definite smile brimming on his uncertain lips. “You shouldn’t have—it’s too nice a gift, really.”

Matsukawa lets his shoulders shrug in a languid fashion, bumping a knee into Hanamaki’s own. “Just thought of you, is all.”

“They’re really, really nice. Thank you,” Hanamaki says, emphatically genuine.

Matsukawa can’t help but smile, warmth flooding his chest. “You’re welcome.”

Hanamaki quirks a brow. “Makes me look like a real ass, with the gift I got you.”

“I’ll be the judge of that.” Matsukawa’s head shakes. “Hand it over.”

“I’m just saying.” Hanamaki roots around in his own coat pocket. “S’not as good.”

Matsukawa takes the brown-paper package in his fingers, gently tugging at the twilight-blue twine to reveal a beautiful quill, honey-chocolate with a few stripes of cream nearest the tip.

“Self-inking, golden eagle,” Hanamaki explains, like he can’t quite hold it back. When Matsukawa looks up with a grin he finds Hanamaki studying him closely for his reaction.

“It’s perfect,” he says, because it’s true. “Thank you, Hiro.”

“Of course. Happy Christmas and all that,” Hanamaki replies flippantly, averting his gaze.

Matsukawa thinks, maybe better than his actual gift, is seeing the way Hanamaki’s blush deepens, blooming right before his eyes.

They don’t pull apart from one another the entire rest of the outing, until Iwaizumi announces, in his most prefectly voice, that it’s nearly time for curfew.


 

Over the holiday, Matsukawa receives no less than three letters by way of Winifred the owl detailing all of Hanamaki’s particular boredoms, his mother’s invitation to visit come summertime, and the announcement that his sister is recently engaged to a wizard named Arran who works for the Muggle Liaison Office and apparently owns an enchanted Triumph Bonneville.

Otherwise, he spends his time quietly—catching up with his father’s latest work-related curse-fiascos, helping his mother bake Christmas cake and plum pudding and when his grandmother travels from Bixley by Floo on Christmas Eve she asks, post-haste, about any new romantic entanglements she aught to know about. To her great disappointment, he doesn’t have much to say on the matter.

For Christmas his mother gifts him a cashmere sweater, Ravenclaw blue, and a copy of Cram It!: How to Soar on Your O.W.L.s (as if the stress wasn’t already enough). His father gives him an apparently previously cursed copper cauldron (all sorted and safe now, of course) and a box of porter truffles from his recent trip to Belfast. His grandmother, under the dining room table, slips him a bottle of Plymouth gin with a broad, wrinkly wink.

All in all, a splendid holiday indeed.


 

Two weeks into the new term, when the icicles have barely begun to melt off the castle eaves, Matsukawa takes his usual seat next to Iwaizumi and a couple of other Gryffindors in Arithmancy.

“Finish the homework?” Matsukawa asks, stretching his long legs out under the table in order to best slouch in his seat.

“Barely,” Iwaizumi admits with a pained expression. “Oikawa’s been busy keeping me fairly well distracted.”

Matsukawa waggles his thick brows at that. “Oh, really?”

“Not like that, idiot,” Iwaizumi grimaces. “He’s stretching himself way too thin this year—did you know, last night I had to physically carry him out of the library?”

“Such devotion,” Matsukawa hums.

“He’s paranoid about O.W.L.s—”

“Aren’t we all,” a voice slurs from Iwaizumi’s other side. It’s Yuda, his voice muffled and half-asleep with his face smashed against the centerfold of his open textbook.

“And besides that,” Iwaizumi continues, unperturbed. “He’s gotten it into his head that Slytherin hasn’t a chance at the Quidditch Cup this year.”

Matsukawa shrugs. “Well that’s bullshit and we all know it.”

And that was the truth. Out of all the standings, Slytherin seemed to have the best all-around team this year and even people like determined Gryffindor prefect and starting Chaser, Iwaizumi Hajime, could at least admit to that.

Iwaizumi rubs a palm over his face, down over his jaw. “I either can’t get him off my back or else I don’t see him for four days straight and there’s absolutely no happy-in-between.”

“That’s rough,” Matsukawa says with genuine sympathy. He can see the barely-there beginnings of bags under Iwaizumi’s eyes.

“Plus, contrary to what his shit-personality let’s on, he’s fucking horrible at communicating,” Iwaizumi growls out, anger mostly false. “Do you and Hanamaki ever have that problem?”

Matsukawa blinks. “What problem?”

“Effective communication or whatever.”

“What? Me and Hanamaki?”

“Yeah.” Iwaizumi squints at him. “Isn’t that what I just said?”

“Sure it is,” comes Yuda’s drowsy, unnecessary input.

Matsukawa’s mind whirs to a halt, rewinds the last few seconds of conversation and realizes the possible meaning behind Iwaizumi’s words. Suddenly, his tongue feels a bit too heavy in his mouth.

“I just—no, we don’t have a communication problem, I don’t think,” he manages to stumble out.

“Must be I’m just lucky enough to have such a high maintenance boyfriend,” Iwaizumi grumbles in response, turning towards the front as Professor Driscoll walks through the door.

Matsukawa can’t help still feeling a little off-balance. He turns to the front as well, opening his notes to a blank page and dating it with the self-inking quill Hanamaki had gifted him for Christmas.

A knot twists itself uncomfortably in his stomach and just before Driscoll begins the lesson, Matsukawa knocks his elbow into Iwaizumi’s own. “Hey,” he whispers out. “Me an’ Hanamaki—we aren’t a thing, you know?”

Iwaizumi stares at him for a brief second, expression studiously blank, and then nods. “Yeah, alright.”

Matsukawa can’t help thinking that Iwaizumi doesn’t really believe that. And maybe, Matsukawa himself doesn’t quite believe it either.


 

Because Hanamaki’s birthday falls on a Sunday this year, he and Matsukawa and Oikawa and Iwaizumi decide to celebrate late Saturday night on the top of the Astronomy Tower with a bottle of Beetle Berry Whiskey filched from one of Iwaizumi’s roommates and a box of treacle fudge. Oikawa takes the time to charm the air around them into a comfortable bubble of warmth and they sit and drink and stargaze and the two lovebirds even manage to lay off most of the PDA for the sake of their friend’s.

“No, no, that’s Gemini there—see those two bright stars, Castor an’ Pollux?” Oikawa hums, only just now beginning to slip past pleasantly drunk into burningly smashed. He manages, amazingly, not to slur his words as much as Hanamaki though.

“But I’m not a Gemini, see what m’sayin?” Hanamaki flicks his hands towards the sky. “Where’s Aqua—Aquarius?

Matsukawa’s busied himself with braiding the ends of Hanamaki’s house scarf, the tips of his fingers warm and numb as his lips by now. “Believe in that stuff, then?” he asks down into his lap where Hanamaki’s head currently lays cushioned.

“‘Course. I’m taking O.W.L. Divination, ain’t I?”

“Thought that was tea leaves and Rememberalls?”

Crystal balls, you asshole,” Hanamaki spits. “And it’s s’much more ‘an all that anyways. S’got to do with your inner eye, which you clearly have very little of.”

Oikawa’s got himself smushed in between Iwaizumi’s legs, leaning against his broad chest. Iwaizumi’s had the least to drink out of all of them, but still his eyes droop in dozy slumber where he’s got his chin hooked over Oikawa’s shoulder.

“You should tell our fortunes, Makki,” Oikawa says, eyes moony.

“Too—“ Hanamaki pauses through a hiccup. “—drunk right now. Wouldn’t be accurate.”

“S’it midnight yet?” Iwaizumi asks, mouth muffled against Oikawa’s neck.

Matsukawa checks his watch, the antique one his father enchanted to work as a portable radio alarm clock. “Three minutes till,” he announces, bouncing his leg and consequently Hanamaki’s head.

With a huff, Hanamaki sits up, rubbing his eyes and reaching for another chunk of fudge. “Cheers to another year without getting expelled I guess.”

“Haven’t made it to exams yet,” Iwaizumi grunts.

“Iwa-chan, we don’t wanna think about that shit right now,”

“Just sayin’.”

Hanamaki chuckles, soft and content in the back of his throat. “Thanks for gettin’ smashed with me.”

“Anything for you,” Matsukawa croons into the crown of his head with a chuckle of his own.

“Of course,” Oikawa nods, head bobbing a few too many times. “Y’know we love you, right?”

“‘Course, love you too.” The words come out slurred and mumbled into Matsukawa’s shoulder where Hanamaki is a warm mush of limbs against his side. He’ll likely have to help him back to the common room in a bit, but it is his birthday after all. And really, birthday or not, Matsukawa just simply doesn’t mind.


Slytherin’s next Quidditch match is against Hufflepuff on a dreary Saturday in February, the clouds overhead like steel wool, but other than the chill, the weather holds out well enough.

Despite all of Oikawa’s apparent Quidditch Captain related anxiety, they win easily to a crowd of overjoyed emerald and silver and the odd pair stuck in the middle, Matsukawa and Iwaizumi, sharing a bag of jelly slugs and cheering perhaps the loudest of them all.

Hanamaki wears his new Quidditch gloves and, when the match is over, he finds Matsukawa in the stands and waves hard enough to nearly fall off his imported Yajirushi broom.


The first of March opens with burgeoning spring sunlight, orange-pink through the partially open velvet curtains of his bedroom and an urgent tap tap tapping at the window.

Matsukawa rubs the sleep from his eyes with the heels of his hands, groggily rolling out of bed to check the time on his watch sitting atop the bedside table. Not quite 7:30 and his first class isn’t until 9:00. He groans openly, ignoring the snuffled irritation of one of his roommates still burrowed in their bedsheets.

The owl at his window, unrecognizable in appearance, seems to be growing restless if the incessant scratching at the windowpanes has anything to say about it. Matsukawa pads over, opening the latch with a click and the bird pushes past with a ruffle of feathers. He’s larger than Winifred and a little less friendly, but allows Matsukawa to unravel the note and tiny parcel attached to its leg just the same.

Issei,

Happy Birthday, sweetheart!

I’ve borrowed Mrs. Flocks’ owl, you know the old garden shopkeep from down the lane? He’s a little pompous, so watch your fingers. Anyways, I hope everything is going well at school and that you’re studying hard. Your father is in Cairo for the month, but he sends his love. I’ve attached your gift, I hope it makes it there in one piece. Have a wonderful birthday, I trust you’ll be celebrating with your friends. Tell them hello for me. We cannot wait to have you home again over Easter. You’re planning to visit, right?

Much love,

Mum & Dad

Matsukawa can’t quite fight the little smile that worms it’s way onto his lips. He isn’t often homesick, but it’s letters like this that remind him just what Hogwarts doesn’t have inside of its castle walls. Still, Matsukawa manages to brush the small bit of emotion to the side in order to tear open the parcel with eager fingers.

Inside, he’s greeted with a familiar pair of brass omnioculars—previously belonging to his father, the one’s he’d always played with in the living room when he was a child—and beneath lay a neat stack of four tickets dated a month after exams to see a match between Japan and the English National Quidditch team.

At breakfast, he finds Hanamaki slathering plum jelly onto his toast, Oikawa looking half-dead across from him with a giant mug of honeyed tea. “Mum went all out this year,” Matsukawa says, slumping down onto the bench and brandishing one of the tickets in Hanamaki’s face.

At first, Hanamaki squints to decipher what exactly it is he’s being shown, but then turns to Matsukawa with such an envious expression he’s practically gone green. “Issei, you lucky bastard.”

It’s not the Quidditch World Cup or anything, but Matsukawa knows how closely Hanamaki follows the Japan National Team, nearly beating him out of the running for biggest fan this side of the Pacific. Matsukawa lets him stew for a moment, catching sticky jelly onto his pouting lips, before reaching into the pocket of his robes for the additional three tickets.

Hanamaki’s eyes light up nearly as though it’s his own birthday present. “Holy shit, your mum’s the best!”

“Didn’t say I was taking you, now did I?” Matsukawa sets him with an unimpressed look. Down the table, he can see Yahaba sorting through his own pile of birthday packages and letters from admirers and wonders briefly if there’s anything secretly tucked in there from a particular Gryffindor fourth-year.

“You wound me.” Hanamaki places a hand over his chest, hamming it up good. “Getting a bit heartless in your old age, eh?”

“You’re older than me, idiot.”

Hanamaki waggles his brows, grinning. “We can grow old together if it means more gifts like that from your parents,”

“So greedy,” Matsukawa says, smiling. “Not even a happy birthday?”

“What, did you think I’d forgotten?” Seemingly out of thin air Hanamaki pulls out an oversized cupcake, iced a bit messily with strawberry frosting that’s charmed to spell out Happy Birthday, Issei in loopy cursive on command.

That night they sit in the Ravenclaw common room huddled close to the crackling fire with Oikawa asleep in a drowsy Iwaizumi’s lap. Kunimi and Kindaichi are playing a rousing game of Wizard’s Chess at the table in the corner, Kindaichi blushing and gaping every time Kunimi curses out loud, but save for that they’re alone.

Matsukawa takes a pull from the bottle of Knotgrass Mead they’d gotten from one of Watari’s Hufflepuff connections before passing it back to Hanamaki. Off to the side he watches the slow movement of Iwaizumi’s fingers through the silky locks at Oikawa’s nape. “Remember in second year when you turned Oikawa’s hair olive green in Charms?”

“Yeah, fuckin’ great,” Hanamaki snickers. He’s got his legs splayed out in front of him atop the cushy antique rug, toes wiggling in rainbow stripe socks. “Best part was Iwaizumi’s face when Oikawa tried to get him to curse me in retaliation.”

“You probably deserved it,” Matsukawa muses, turning just enough to watch the firelight play shadows against Hanamaki’s throat as he swallows.

Never,” he scoffs a bit wetly in return, using the back of his hand as an improvised napkin. “I’m a perfect angel.”

Hanamaki turns to tuck his legs up under himself so that he can toddle forward with the dark bottle of mead and press it against Matsukawa’s mouth. Agreeably, Matsukawa plays along, letting Hanamaki pour a mouthful against his tongue but not quite able to survive without a dribble down his lips and chin. Matsukawa is so delightedly endeared by Hanamaki’s subsequent laughter, eyes half-moons with the swell of his cheeks, that he can’t even be bothered to care.

Something warm is starting to build in the depths of his stomach and he really doesn’t imagine it has anything to do with the buzz of twenty-three percent alcohol entering his system. Something that makes his head feel a little bit fuzzier with Hanamaki so close, with the way he leans into Matsukawa with his laughter and the glow of freckles against golden skin.

“Mhmm.” Matsukawa swallows heavily, licking the lemongrass sweetness from his lips before saying, “Maybe not an angel—but, pretty perfect.”

It hits him hard the second or so after the words permeate the space between them. They’re dripping with elderflower syrup and wrapped up in candy floss and he’s never been more appalled by anything he’s ever let come out of his mouth.

But also, apart from that, his stomach drops a little because Hanamaki just blinks at him, unperturbed, and really Matsukawa’s statement is a true one.

“Hmm?” hums Hanamaki, perhaps more affected by the drink than Matsukawa.

“S’nothing,” Matsukawa shrugs, turning quickly towards the fireplace.

“Y’think I’m perfect?” Hanamaki’s got one of his sloppy grins on, Matsukawa can see the way his shoulders shake with silent bubbles of laughter from his peripheral. “That’s hilarious, Issei.”

“Sure,” Matsukawa agrees, if only to humor him. Better to let him think it a quip.

“No one’s perfect,” Hanamaki continues, voice dropping into an edge of something like bitterness. “Don’t think I’ll even be getting close anytime soon. What kinda jobs can I get with Acceptable’s in all my O.W.L.s, d’you think?”

“Shut up,” Matsukawa admonishes, feeling a bit dizzy with the conversation’s rapid change of pace. “You’ll be getting more Outstanding’s than me for sure. You’re wicked smart and you barely have to study.”

“I barely study ‘cause I’m lazy,” he corrects as though it were obvious. “It’s our Grand King over there who’ll be getting all the Outstanding’s. Makes me sick watching him freak the fuck out over it.”

Oikawa sniffles like maybe he’s heard, but then burrows back deeper in Iwaizumi’s lap. In the corner, one of Kunimi’s knights captures one of Kindaichi’s pawns, forcibly dragging it off the board with quite a scuffle.

“You’ll do great.” Matsukawa stares at the last dregs of mead in the bottle between them. “We all will and then we’ll come back next year and start freaking the fuck out over N.E.W.T.s.”

A grimace crosses Hanamaki’s features. “S'the circle of life, I guess.”

“Something like that.”

Hanamaki takes a deep breath, slumping to the floor and pillowing his arms behind his head. Matsukawa, because he’s feeling admittedly a little groggy with the mead and the new heavier topic, stretches out on the rug beside him so that they’re both staring up at the vaulted ceiling, midnight blue and enchanted with the same glowing stars and constellations they’d been gazing at a few weeks earlier on top of the Astronomy Tower.

“Hey,” Hanamaki says after a moment, voice mellowed and low. “D’you think—after Hogwarts, d’you think we’ll all still be together like this? Y’know, friends and all.”

Matsukawa blinks. A comet shoots across the ceiling overhead. “‘Course, why not?”

“Dunno.” Hanamaki shrugs as much as the floor will allow. “We’re getting older. Things change, don’t they?”

That feeling in Matsukawa’s gut from earlier turns from a pleasant warmth to something much more turbulent. He lets his gaze slide to the side, studying Hanamaki’s profile and the way his lashes lay thick with the droop of his eyes.

“Some things,” Matsukawa says, sincerity rumbling from somewhere deep within his chest. “But—not that.”

It takes a second, but Hanamaki finally turns, propping his head on his wrist and leaning in close, closer than Matsukawa had been expecting. “Promise?” he breathes out.

“Yeah.” Matsukawa swallows, traces the silver halos around Hanamaki’s irises. “Yeah Hiro, I promise.”

“Hey, Issei?”

“Hm?”

“Happy birthday,” Hanamaki murmurs, almost too soft to hear and leans in to press a whisper of a kiss against Matsukawa’s bare cheek.

In the haze of firelight and intoxication, Matsukawa decides it’s the best birthday present he could ever hope to receive.


“What was I meant to do?” Yahaba says, eyes narrowing and lips pouting forward in a familiar annoyance. “Not only was he insulting me personally, he was insulting the entire Slytherin team.”

Matsukawa’s sat on one of the velvet green armchairs in the Slytherin common room. He’s meant to be studying for D.A.D.A with Hanamaki and Oikawa, but currently he’s staring wide-eyed at Yahaba’s bruised knuckles and the detention slip he holds out to Oikawa as though it were a spoil of war.

“Shige-chan, what the hell were you thinking?” hisses Oikawa. “You’ve got detention all the way up until our final match—that means no Quidditch practice with the team and—”

“At least I’m not kicked off the team,” Yahaba says, matter-of-fact. “Kyoutani’s a prick—”

Beside Matsukawa, in a matching armchair, Hanamaki snorts loud and derisive as possible. “Oh come off it, Yahaba. Everyone knows you wanna jump his bones.”

There’s a moment of silence wherein all that can be heard is the creak of the door as a couple of second-years enter through it and the sound of quills against parchment belonging to those students scattered around the room pretending not to listen in on the conversation at hand.

“What.” Yahaba gives Hanamaki his best deadpan glare, but it’s entirely ineffective against Hanamaki’s crude smirk.

“Seriously, the two of your aren’t very subtle,” he continues on. “Especially with this little display—please, try to keep it in the bedroom next time.”

“You—you don’t know what the fuck you’re on about.”

“Oh no? I seem to remember last week, seeing you near the Gryffindor common room after hours—“

Oikawa sucks in a frustrated gasp. “And why were you out after hours, Makki?”

“—and you had your scarf wrapped all the way up to your ears. Hiding something?”

Yahaba stares hard at Hanamaki, but there’s a telltale flush crawling up his neck now. “I—I’ve got to go. We’ve both got detention to serve.”

He turns on his heel, scuttling towards the door and Hanamaki waves him off with a self-satisfied grin. “Be safe, use protection!”

Matsukawa, for what it’s worth, finds the entire argument utterly hilarious even if Oikawa looks even more anxious and unraveled than before. “You’re terrible,” he says to Hanamaki with a laugh.

“What? It’s true.” Hanamaki nods seriously. “Iwaizumi told me Kyoutani asked him for ‘dating advice.’”

“He did?” Oikawa frowns. “He didn’t tell me that.”

“Iwaizumi and I have what you might call a ‘special connection.’”

Matsukawa snorts into his textbook and Oikawa’s fingers curl around his quill. “Piss off. We’re still down a Chaser for practice now. Mattsun, maybe you can—”

“You’re really asking me to help out a rival team?” Matsukawa quirks a thick brow. “That match is Ravenclaw verses Slytherin. If I were caught cavorting with the enemy, I’d be skinned alive.”

“Ravenclaws wouldn’t be so barbaric,” Hanamaki argues wisely.

“Fine then, I’d be bludgeoned to death in the library stacks.”

Oikawa takes the time to burry his face in his hands, groaning openly. “This is the end. We’ve got no chance now.”

“Don’t be so dramatic,” Hanamaki reprimands, eyes rolling high. “Yahaba’s right, at least he’s not off the team for good.”

“I think Professor Irihata probably had something to do with that.

“I’ll be there to cheer you on,” Matsukawa says. “Of course, it will be in secret, disguised as cheering for the opposing team.”

“What is it they say?” Hanamaki taps a knuckle to his lips. “Houses before spouses?”

Matsukawa can’t fight the rapid blush that invades his cheeks at that. He just hopes Hanamaki doesn’t notice. “Iwaizumi’ll be there too—Gryffindor’s matches will be over for the year.”

“Yes, seeing my Iwa-chan in the stands will certainly help boost my confidence.”

“More like your ego,” Matsukawa deadpans on command.

“He doesn’t need a boost to that at all,” Hanamaki snickers.

“Rude,” Oikawa bites, turning his nose up. “You know, it’s nearly our six month anniversary. We’re going to celebrate on the last trip to Hogsmeade.”

Matsukawa grimaces for effect. “Sounds sappy to me.”

“Can’t believe it’s already the last trip. Gotta make the most of it.” Hanamaki uses his wand to levitate his cup of pumpkin juice up off the table and into his waiting hand. “This year fuckin’ flew, can’t believe we’ve nearly made it through to exams.”

“And hopefully we’ll make it through till after exams,” Matsukawa nods, trying his best to stave off that ever-growing feeling of dread they’ve been anticipating all year.

“If we do—when we do, I’ll buy us all a round of butterbeer with extra firewhisky,” Oikawa announces firmly.

“You’re on.” Hanamaki grins and it’s an expression that Matsukawa memorizes far easier than his textbook’s extensive list of counter-spells.


Gryffindor plays Hufflepuff in mid-March, the last match until May, and Oikawa bodily hauls Hanamaki and Matsukawa along with him to sit in the Slytherin stands wrapped up in a very familiar scarlet and gold scarf. Oikawa ignores with practiced ease the glares of a few of his more close-minded housemates and when Iwaizumi intercepts the Quaffle and flies it down the pitch to score, he lets loose an unbridled howl of praise.

It’s near impossible not to hear some of the mutterings around them in the crowd, some discounting Oikawa’s leadership as Slytherin Captain while others decide to target Iwaizumi instead. It makes something inside of Matsukawa prickle, his tongue sour with the want to turn around and give it to them right back. He knows, by the hard-set of Hanamaki’s shoulders beside him, that he feels the exact same way.

But still, Oikawa holds his head high, not afraid of the criticism like he might’ve been not too long ago. In fact, it only seems to make him cheer louder and more obnoxiously than before.

Gryffindor wins 180 to 70, Snitch clutched in the hands of their spritely sixth-year Seeker. Iwaizumi doesn’t hesitate when Oikawa demands a kiss right there in the Slytherin stands, though he does nearly fall off his broom in the process. 


Their last trip to Hogsmeade for the year comes like a shock to the system. Easter holiday is almost upon them and with that the final classes of the term, the final Quidditch matches of the season and last but certainly not forgotten: exams

For now, Matsukawa has decided to take things day by day. In his spare time not studying, he dwells on happier things rather than letting himself sink into a puddle of anxiety like some of his fellow fifth-years. He thinks about Hanamaki’s spot-on impression of Headmaster Bowlin, of basking in the shallows of the lake with the Giant Squid, Hanamaki’s propensity to snort when he laughs just a touch too hard, of the kitchen’s new seasonal sweets, and well—just plainly, he thinks of Hanamaki.

“—must be someone else,” Oikawa’s saying as Matsukawa rounds the corner towards the dungeons. He can see him conferring with Iwaizumi and Yahaba and Kyoutani outside the common room door, a distinct wrinkle to his brow.

Matsukawa sidles up next to them, not noticing at first the stiffness that invades Oikawa’s shoulders at his presence. “Waiting on Hanamaki? You’re usually the one holding us up,” he says, running a finger through the fluff of Oikawa’s bangs.

Across their little unit, Matsukawa just catches the tail end of Yahaba’s grimace and Kyoutani’s frowning stare where he’s stood close behind Iwaizumi’s shoulder. But it’s Oikawa’s lack of retaliation or snark that stops Matsukawa short.

He frowns. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong,” Oikawa hastens to explain a bit too quickly. “Makki won’t be joining us though.”

Matsukawa feels his chest do something funny. “Did something happen?”

“Nothing happened,” Iwaizumi answers this time around, in that blunt way of his, maybe a little too blunt for the next words that enter Matsukawa’s ears. “Hanamaki’s got a date.” 

There’s a set of paintings hung in gilded frames on the wall beside them, a few ladies in victorian dress eavesdropping none-too-subtly as they share a spot of tea and beside them, a portrait of a middle-aged Professor Basil Fronsac who regards their group openly over the edge of his half-moon glasses.

“A date,” Matsukawa repeats, just to be sure he’s heard correctly.

“Pretty thing,” Professor Fronsac adds in, apparently unwilling to acknowledge the tension nor any glares sent his way. He dips into the painting of the ladies and they offer him a cup and a ginger biscuit. “She seemed absolutely smitten.”

Matsukawa feels the air in his throat catch before it can get to his lungs, choking on it. “She?

He turns back towards the rest of them just in time to catch Oikawa’s guilt ridden expression. “It’s uh—Vivienne Gnu, y’know, the Slytherin Seeker?

Matsukawa does know, but that knowledge does absolutely nothing to calm the turbulent sea that his stomach has become. “Sure,” he says, trying to give off an air of nonchalance even if he knows Oikawa can read him better than that.

“Don’t see what the issue is,” Professor Fronsac says, pulling his silver pocket watch out to check the time for God knows what reason. “Jealousy or something of the sort? Young people these days—so dramatic.”

Yahaba’s features turn dark as he faces the portrait. “Would you kindly fu—”

Kyoutani elbows him hard in the side before Yahaba can finish the statement and earn himself even more helpings of detention. “S’none of our business anyways,” Kyoutani mumbles and, even if Matsukawa would like to disagree, really he can’t.

“Come with us for the day, Mattsun.” Oikawa reaches out to gently tug at Matsukawa’s shirt sleeve. “I’ve been dying to try Madam Puddifoot’s new milk tea.”

“Madam Puddifoot’s?” he scoffs before his mind can really have a chance to catch up. He imagines lacey tablecloths, china place settings, couples littered everywhere and very nearly gags. “I’d rather stay in the castle. Drown myself in study guides in the library.”

“Don’t be ridiculous—” Oikawa starts.

Matsukawa bites he inside of his cheek. “I’m not going to be a fifth wheel.”

Fifth wheel?” Kyoutani asks, staring at Matsukawa quizzically beneath the deep furrow of his brow.

“You won’t be any kind of wheel,” Iwaizumi butts in, sounding unsurprisingly exasperated. “C’mon, let’s go before everything’s crowded as all hell.”

So this is how Matsukawa finds himself trailing next to Oikawa and Iwaizumi (Kyoutani and Yahaba having disappeared two blocks back inside of Spintwitches Sporting Needs). Thankfully, Oikawa’d gotten his tea to-go in a nice little paper cup with lilacs painted on the side that sway naturally with Oikawa’s every step. Matsukawa is certain he would have fallen off the deep end if he’d really had to have sat down inside of Madam Puddifoot’s and he’s got half-a-mind to believe Iwaizumi is thankful for the excuse not to as well.

Today the weather is mild, not frigid like winters at Hogwarts tend to be, but not as warm as late springtime either. It’s enough to make Matsukawa think about trekking to their usual spot down near the lake to dip his toes in the water, but that line of thought only makes him start to think about Hanamaki which in turn makes him think about Vivienne Gnu. Really, he doesn’t know her at all, but he’s got a feeling in his gut that fogs his mind with dislike.

A week ago, he’d have thought without a doubt that Hanamaki would rather dip his toes in the lake than traipse about Hogsmeade with a girl, but now with this unforeseen change in circumstances he realizes that suddenly there is a lot more room for doubt.

Is it selfish of him to think this way? He’s never had to ask himself such a question before, but when Oikawa and Iwaizumi both turn to him with concerned expressions he realizes rather quickly that he’s spoken the question out loud.

“I didn’t see it coming either, to be honest,” Oikawa mutters, sipping at his tea as they amble past a group of third-years trading Chocolate Frog Cards in front of Honeydukes. 

“She’s had eyes for him for a while, I think,” Iwaizumi explains, keeping his voice low. “Kindaichi’s got Transfig with the Slytherin fourth-years and he says she talks Hanamaki up a lot.”

Matsukawa feels guilty at bringing the mood down so drastically, especially if their day had been meant originally as a date. “Think I’ll head back now, you two don’t need me.”

He’d meant it as a way to leave them alone, but the pitying look Oikawa gives him doesn’t really make him feel any better about the whole thing. “Mattsun—”

“Still on for helping me with the Herbology homework tomorrow?” he interrupts, keeping his voice neutral and lips in a faint, causal smile.

Oikawa blinks, but nods dutifully. “Of course.”

“Great, you’re a life saver,” Matsukawa says, starting to back away with measured footsteps. “Have fun. Don’t get into too much trouble without me, yeah?”

Iwaizumi snorts. “We’ll try our level best.”

On his way back to the castle, Matsukawa pointedly ignores the flash of strawberry-blond hair he sees sat out front of Madam Puddifoot’s. When he gets back to the Ravenclaw common room he practices a color change charm on his bedsheets until his wrist absolutely aches and the resulting color is a sad shade of familiar pink.


 

It turns out that Matsukawa is one of the only fifth-years going home for the Easter holiday. He thinks in any other circumstance he’d like to stay in the castle with his friends and cram even more magical knowledge into his brain and stay up till odd hours drinking extra sweet butterbeer and seeing how far each of them can get through the corridors at night before activating Oikawa’s vintage Sneakoscope. But his mother had been aching for a visit and, quite frankly, Matsukawa thinks the time away might do him some good.

So he takes the train home and sits in a compartment with Kunimi and Kindaichi and Kyoutani, who sits in the seat next to him, which is somewhat of a surprise because Matsukawa really figured the guy didn’t like him much at all.

As it turns out, however, Kyoutani’s family lives just up the road from Matsukawa’s and his father owns the healing clinic for magical creatures tucked away with a concealment charm in between the greengrocer and the pharmacy Matsukawa’s mother frequents.

There’s a million things circling in Matsukawa’s mind as of late, his impending O.W.L.s and the problem with Hanamaki making top of the list, but when Kyoutani makes the effort to pull a well-loved set of Gobstones (complete with a carved wooden playing-board) out of his bag, Matsukawa can’t help feeling a little bit lighter.

They play until they’re both covered in little stains of gobby acid-green and Matsukawa’s nearly forgotten the image of Vivienne Gnu’s hand atop Hanamaki’s own across the white-iron tabletop.


The first week of May finds the library packed to the gills with frenzied students, most with dark crescents under their eyes and hair sticking up every which way from too many times being tugged in utter frustration.

Matsukawa finds himself steadily within the ranks, but he’ll admit he doesn’t feel the anxiety quite as much as some others. His mother had always praised his calm head under pressure and he knows he’s always been well-off for exams in the past, so he’s decided to treat O.W.L.s no different.

But still, there is something nagging at the back of his mind and it’s got little to do with passing exams and mostly to do with one of the people he’s sharing a coveted window-side table with.

Hanamaki sits catty-corner from him, buried up to his elbows in parchment notes and Achievements in Charming, and they haven’t spoken more than a handful of words to each other since Matsukawa’d gotten back from holiday. It’s become nearly impossible to read him, what with everyone’s natural mounting stress levels, but still Matsukawa tries his hardest, studying Hanamaki instead of studying Arithmancy like he’s supposed to be doing.

“I need a break or else I think my brain might start melting out my ears any second,” Oikawa groans where he’s pressing his head down against the table top. When he looks up, his bangs are pushed up off his forehead and there’s a smudge of ink across his right cheek.

“Makki,” he whines, pressing a finger into Hanamaki’s shoulder. “Tell me about Vivienne Gnu.”

Matsukawa startles so abruptly that he nearly spills over one of the ink bottles nestled amongst their scattered and unorganized piles of notes and books and unused quills. He stares across at Oikawa with eyes the size of saucer-plates and, incredibly, Oikawa pulls back his curtain of pitiful exam-induced aguish for a split second to send Matsukawa a knowing, cat-like grin.

When Hanamaki finally tears himself away form his book, he fits Oikawa with something close to annoyance. “What are you on about? If you’re so bored, help me with Theory of fucking Charms.” 

“Makki,” Oikawa whines again, almost pleading, but his eyes are on Matsukawa the entire time. Matsukawa, as subtly as possible, kicks him in the shin underneath the table.

Hanamaki turns back to Oikawa with a frown deeply etched into his usually bright features. “Why the fuck do you want to know? It’s embarrassing.”

“Leave him be, Tooru,” Iwaizumi says softly without looking up from the notes he’s transcribing.

Matsukawa cannot even begin to riddle out what Hanamaki means by that and for once decides that he hopes Oikawa doesn’t listen to Iwaizumi’s reprimanding tone.

“I was just curious is all,” Oikawa says, voice soft and saccharine. “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”

Hanamaki squints, suspicious. “No fuckin’ way—are you the one that put her up to it then?”

Now it’s Oikawa’s turn to frown in confusion, Matsukawa not far behind even if he’s nothing more than a voyeur to the conversation. “Put her up to what?”

Hanamaki sighs raggedly and sets his book down before turning in his seat to make sure no one else is listening in. Matsukawa unconsciously holds his breath in his lungs. “Vivienne’s gotta crush I guess—I was too chicken-shit to say no to a date, didn’t want to fuck up the team dynamics and all that.” He swallows, looking just this side of mortified before adding quickly, “But I let her down easy when she, uh—when she tried to snog me in Madam Puddifoot’s.” 

“Oh,” is all Oikawa manages to say in return, which is a fair sight better than anything Matsukawa might’ve been able to come up with.

Hanamaki shrugs, averting his eyes to the table. His ears are burning bright red by now. “So might be some tension at the next practice, captain.”

“That’s—well, I think we can definitely work with that,” Oikawa says, gaze flicking over to Matsukawa. “Can’t we, Mattsun?”

He knows it’s got a double meaning, but Matsukawa just hopes that Hanamaki’s too engrossed back into his studying to figure it out. “Uh—yeah, definitely,” Matsukawa answers, as noncommittal as possible even as something light sparks in his chest.

Yes, he thinks, he can definitely work with that.


On a windy-warm Saturday before the last week of regular classes, Slytherin beats Ravenclaw by a margin of only twenty points. It’s enough to win them not only the match, but the entire Quidditch Cup for the year.

Matsukawa feels giddier than he has in a while as he watches Hanamaki zoom into the goalposts to hug Oikawa around his Keeper pads, toddling and tipping on their brooms without a care in the world as to falling and breaking their necks before they can even sit their O.W.L.s.

It takes a bit to sift through the crowds of cheering and commiserating students, past most of his fellow disheartened Ravenclaws and through the Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors paying out bets in secret underneath their robes, but he manages to find Iwaizumi so they can yell together their praise across the Quidditch Pitch.

It takes a while for things to die down enough that Oikawa and Hanamaki even think to fly over towards the stands with the rest of their teammates, but by then Matsukawa and Iwaizumi have migrated closer to the Slytherin celebration to receive them.

“Iwa-chan, we did it!”

“I knew you would, captain.”

And they kiss, sloppy and fast, and it’s accompanied by boos and by cheers, but neither of them seem to care either way.

Hanamaki uses the distraction to jump off his broom and into the stands and really, Matsukawa wants more than anything in this moment to follow suit and kiss him smack on the mouth.

But he settles for a green and silver bear-hug instead.


 

That night in the Slytherin common room, Hanamaki gets so smashed on firewhisky that he tells Matsukawa all about his horrible date in Hogsmeade and how much he would’ve rather have spent the day with him and he somehow convinces Oikawa to charm his hair a bright, fizzy pink.

Matsukawa isn’t nearly as drunk, but he feels pleasantly dizzy and warm just the same.


 

When Matsukawa walks into Potions on the second to last class period before sitting exams he finds a large cauldron settled in the center of the room. A batch of Amortentia from the previous sixth-years, Professor Leveret explains, but Matsukawa doesn’t exactly need to be told that.

Quidditch gloves, parchment, and custard cream.

He stops dead in between the cauldron and his usual work-table, the scent so overwhelming it nearly bowls him over right then and there in the middle of the classroom. It’s not as though he doesn’t already know—but the potion certainly doesn’t help to close over the raw, vulnerable wound that his heart has begun to slowly disintegrate beneath ever since Hanamaki had taken over Oikawa’s place as Slytherin’s most eligible bachelor.

Sawauchi and Oikawa watch him with increasingly concerned looks as he unpacks his notebook and quill from his bag, taking the most shallow breaths possible even if no matter how hard he tries, the scent invades his mind, inked like a tattoo.

But, it’s when Hanamaki walks in that Matsukawa really starts to panic. He tries hard to keep his eyes averted, to make it a non-issue, but when Hanamaki sidles close to Matsukawa’s side to perch on the empty stool there, he can’t help but look up to meet that warm, familiar gaze.

But—what he gets in return isn’t that telltale smirk he’s so used to, but a blushing wide-eyed expression that Matsukawa’s not sure he’s ever seen on Hanamaki before.

“Um—hi,” Hanamaki hurries out, like his tongue is suddenly two-sizes too big for his mouth.

Matsukawa can definitely relate to the feeling.

“Hi,” he answers in kind, trying not to make Hanamaki feel as though he’s staring (because he definitely isn’t) but also—

“Does it—does it feel warm in here to you?”

Across the table, Oikawa makes some kind of high-pitched squeal in the back of his throat and Matsukawa isn’t sure if he should be grateful or annoyed for the meager distraction.

Professor Leveret makes an appearance at the very moment when Matsukawa thinks his tongue might just let loose the confession he’s been holding steadily inside for nearly two years, coming to cover the cauldron with a thick golden lid that effectively snuffs out the fumes making everyone in the room a bit more pink-cheeked than usual.

“Out of curiosity—can anyone here tell me the titular ingredient in Amortentia?” 

Matsukawa cannot, though he knows one thing for certain, he’ll never look at custard profiteroles the same way again.


After class, Matsukawa finds Hanamaki in the tall, cushy grass by the lake.

It’s been nearly an entire school year since their first conversation here together, when Hanamaki had expressed his reluctance to grow older and Matsukawa had admired the way his skin glowed in the dappled afternoon sunlight. It’s been nearly an entire school year, more than that since Matsukawa had first thought about Hanamaki in a different way than he thought about his other friends. An entire friendship almost—

It’s about time, Matsukawa thinks, to be honest.

His hair is still charmed pinker than usual, more bubblegum than fuchsia today, but still becoming—especially with the way it looks reflected in the shallows of the lake.

Matsukawa finds Hanamaki’s shoes and book-bag and adds his own belongings to the pile before making his way to the shoreline. At first Hanamaki doesn’t say anything when Matsukawa sits gently beside him and they stay still, just listing to the lap of cool water against their ankles.

“Lake grass, Earl Grey, and—and you.”

Matsukawa almost doesn’t hear it at first with how quietly Hanamaki is speaking, but when he turns he’s met with Hanamaki’s smirk, more soft than wry this time around.

Matsukawa swallows, breathes in the scent of lake grass and sweet cream and revels in the way they meld together, nearly perfect.

“I really like you, Issei,” Hanamaki says, somehow reverent as he stares unapologetically into Matsukawa’s waiting gaze. “I think—I might’ve for a long time.”

It’s funny, how Matsukawa had thought things would go any differently—even if he’d planned out some semblance of a confession, all of that’s lost to the recesses of his mind and the halo that the sun is making around Hanamaki’s pink locks.

It only makes sense that even in this, Hanamaki get’s his way.

Matsukawa smiles, warm and utterly, unrelentingly happy.

“A long time,” he confirms, tugging Hanamaki against his side and delighting in the sound of laughter as it echoes out across the lake.


Their first kiss takes place outside of the Slytherin common room, witnessed by a few curious portraits and apparently Oikawa and Yahaba on the other side of the door, unbeknownst to them until the two sneaks practically fall into the dungeon hallway when Hanamaki whispers the password with flushed cheeks and full heart.


“If I don’t make it through the next two weeks, at least know how much I’ve cherished our brief time together, Issei.”

They’re laid out atop Matsukawa’s bed, meant to be studying, but currently Hanamaki’s got his legs over Matsukawa’s and their fingers twined together and Matsukawa can’t find any room to complain.

“I’d say the worse part about the whole thing is the waiting,” Matsukawa murmurs. “Why’s it take so long to get the results anyways?”

“Probably some lesson in patience hidden in there somewhere.”

“Always a lesson,” Matsukawa sighs into Hanamaki’s neck. “I’m so tired of lessons—can’t it just be over already?”

“Seems like just yesterday we were having this same conversation over tea and toast.”

“It’s regular deja vu is what it is.”

“‘Cept Iwaizumi’s not berating Oikawa about his theatrics.”

Matsukawa snorts. “Don’t think they’ll ever get over that, relationship or not,”

“I wouldn’t have ‘em any other way, I think,” says Hanamaki, his voice sounding reminiscent and light and Matsukawa can understand why.

“Me either,” he decides easily enough.

“Wouldn’t have you any other way either,” Hanamaki adds, nuzzling a quick peck into the soft curls falling over Matsukawa’s forehead.

Matsukawa finds himself unequivocally inclined to agree.

They spend the rest of the day pretending to cram in some last minute review, but mostly Matsukawa tries his level best to memorize the way it feels to kiss Hanamaki’s lips.


They all pass their O.W.L.s splendidly with only a few Exceeds Expectations mixed in with their lot of Outstanding’s. In fact, Oikawa makes it out alive with no less than nine under his belt and Hanamaki actually manages to pass Potions even if his technique had nearly given Professor Leveret a heart attack.

Matsukawa puts off packing up his things just like he does every year and the day of the Leaving Feast is spent in the company of quite a few familiar faces out on the lawn of the west tower courtyard with the fresh June sun warming their bodies. He watches Oikawa and Iwaizumi play wrestle over the last bag of Black Cat Brand potato crisps, Kunimi and Kindaichi and Watari investing themselves in some high-risk games of Exploding Snap, and Kyoutani and Yahaba sitting together in the shade talking quietly over pink no-melt mochi with cheeks even pinker.

Hanamaki sits beside him on the grass, legs sprawled in front of him with bare feet and his pants rolled up to his knees. Every once in a while he swirls his wand over the grass and a few baby pink daises sprout up from the ground. At this point they’re practically surrounded and Matsukawa thinks he’s never admired the flicking technique of someone’s wand-holding wrist the way he does Hanamaki’s.

“Gonna stay with us again this summer?” Hanamaki hums, shading his eyes against the sun to stare up into the clouds floating languidly overhead.

“Wouldn’t miss your mum’s cooking for the world,” Matsukawa responds without missing a beat.

Hanamaki lets his lower lip pout out just enough that Matsukawa has to resist plying him with a kiss. “That the only reason?”

Matsukawa just smiles, because he knows the answer to that, and now so does Hanamaki. Still, he leans in to lay his palm warm again Hanamaki’s hand, the bright greenery tickling their fingertips where a few new flowers sprout up around them. “What do you think?”