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28 February 2013 @ 04:48 pm
Follow Me Down This Time, Harry/Louis, part 1  
Title: Follow Me Down This Time
Writer: keeplistening // supernope
Pairing: Harry Styles/Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne/Zayn Malik (background)
Rating: R
Wordcount: ~27,000
Summary: Harry first noticed Louis in his second term at Hogwarts, and despite three years of inventing ways to stumble across Louis, he's never managed to actually work up the courage to speak to him. Also known as, self-indulgent Hogwarts AU, because every fandom needs Hogwarts AUs.
Disclaimer: I do not own the boys, or claim to know anything about their personal lives, preferences, etc. Obviously, they are not wizards who attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. (More's the pity.)
Notes: A massive, massive thank you to Michelle and Paula, for helping me with the plot and being kickass betas and just generally holding my hand, and to Bec for giving me advice on British-isms, since I am decidedly not British (something I cry about every day). Title taken from the song 12 Fingers by Young the Giant.

Harry doesn't like to brag, but he knows a lot of things. One of the things he knows is that he's no good at sports, especially not ones that require balance, which is why he mostly tries to stay as far away from Quidditch as possible. In his five years at Hogwarts, he's managed it fairly successfully. As a first year, they'd all had Quidditch classes, but he'd been allowed to drop it the following year, once they realized he was a hazard to himself with two feet firmly planted on the ground, much less suspended from a broomstick several meters in the air.

Another thing Harry knows is that Slytherin's Captain and Seeker, seventh year Louis Tomlinson, is very good at Quidditch.

Despite Harry's inability to play the sport, he knows a fair amount about it and has attended every school game since Louis joined the Slytherin team in his fourth year, and Harry's second. He'd be embarrassed about the reason for his investment in Quidditch, but he hasn't really told anyone why he developed a sudden interest in it after a year of attempted avoidance of the sport. He suspects Zayn, a year above him and Harry's best friend, knows, but he's been surprisingly mum about Harry's little infatuation, and Harry is grateful for that.

Harry first noticed Louis in his second term at Hogwarts. He had been lounging on the grass by the lake with Zayn and a Hufflepuff boy from his year named Niall, watching the giant squid bask its tentacles in the sun, when a group of laughing boys had nearly run them over in their haste to get to the lake. One of the boys, broad-shouldered with kind eyes and short, dark hair, had stuttered out an apology between fits of laughter, eyes catching on Zayn and cheeks flooding with color before another boy dragged him off. The other boy was shorter than the first, but his eyes had flashed bright blue in the sunlight, and he’d shot Harry a quick, crinkly-eyed smile before peeling off his robes and canon-balling into the lake with a shout. Harry has never really been prone to fanciful metaphors, but in that short moment, he had felt his heart leap into his throat and promptly land at the blue-eyed boy's feet.

It hadn't taken Harry long to learn Louis' name, or his reputation for being a bit of a troublemaker. Despite that reputation, though, he was well-liked. He was kind and clever and responsible when it counted, and it didn't hurt that he had helped lead the Slytherin Quidditch team to their first house championship victory in nearly two decades.

After the lake incident, Harry subconsciously found ways to run into Louis around the castle and grounds. He took casual strolls around the lawns that conveniently took him past the Quidditch pitch on days that Slytherin just happened to be practicing. He took the long way to Charms, up a rickety wooden staircase to the sixth floor and down the left wing corridor, past the Transfiguration classroom, and back down a magnificent granite staircase with a vanishing banister to the fifth floor, even though it added an extra five minutes to his trek between classes, because if he glanced into the Transfiguration classroom as he passed, he could catch a glimpse of Louis at his desk, face open and happy as he chatted with his friends before class started. At meals, he always sat facing the Slytherin table. Even when Louis sat with his back to Harry, he couldn't take his eyes off the boy; watched the way his robes shifted over his back and shoulders, and the way he made his friends smile and laugh, made them look at him like he was the most interesting person in the room.

It’s a bit of a problem, but not one Harry seems to be able to help. And despite three years of inventing ways to stumble across Louis, he's never managed to actually work up the courage to speak to him.

School has only been in session for a week, but Quidditch try-outs are beginning, and practices will commence shortly after, which means only a few short weeks until Harry gets his next opportunity to watch Louis without needing to go to excessive lengths to "run into him." They don't share any classes together, since Louis is two years above Harry, and they're in separate houses, so it's really Harry's only chance - something he personally finds a bit tragic. Louis is a Slytherin, yes, and a mischievous one at that - the entire school is fairly certain that he's responsible for the fireworks that went off in the fourth floor corridor during last term's final exams, though no one's been able to prove anything - but he's also funny and kind and absolutely, heart-stoppingly gorgeous, and Harry is completely, foolishly, head-over-heels in love with him.


The second Monday of term, Harry is stretched out on the grass beneath a beech tree reading about a potion to cure boils and scratching notes into the margins of his book with a quill, when someone says, "Excuse me?"

He looks up in bemusement, shading his eyes against a dying summer sun, and his mouth falls open when he realizes who is standing over him. Harry's mouth goes dry and he nods dumbly in response. Louis smiles at him and says, "What're you reading there?"

Harry holds the book up wordlessly, spine facing forward for Louis to see, and Louis nods, expression sympathetic. "Homework already? I've got a fair bit - I suppose they're loading us up in preparation for NEWTS, though I don't see why, since they’re nearly a year off." Unsure of how to respond, Harry just stares blankly up at Louis, who gives him a funny look and continues, "Mind if I join you?"

Harry knows he's gaping like an idiot, but he manages to nod as he scrambles up into a sitting position, legs crossed underneath his robes. Louis flops down gracelessly and Harry tries not to stare. Classes are done for the day, and Louis is dressed in muggle clothing - tight black jeans and a white scoop-necked t-shirt that dips past his collarbones and is nearly translucent in the sun. Harry feels clumsy and overdressed in his wizard robes, and he picks self-consciously at the fabric over his knee. He's got muggle clothes on underneath, but he'd look a bit foolish taking his robes off now. In an attempt to salvage what's left of his dignity, Harry spreads his book across his lap and forces himself to return to his reading so he won't be able to stare stupidly at Louis now that they're at eye-level.

He's dimly aware that his eyes have been traveling the same list of ingredients for nearly ten minutes now, not absorbing a single word, but he can't stop thinking about how he's never been this close to Louis before, and he's so lovely and quiet and his trousers are rolled up at the ankle and he's toed off his laceless trainers and is wiggling his toes happily in the grass, and Harry had never really thought much about feet, but Louis' toes are so cute, and. Harry feels his face heat up and he drops his head into his hands, palms digging into his eyes, and gives himself a mental talking-down.

"Er, you alright, mate?"

Harry's head jerks up, and he nods at Louis, eyes wide. Louis gives him a small smile and says, "You know, I don't suppose I've introduced myself. I'm Louis."

He holds a hand out for Harry to shake, and Harry only hesitates for a moment before taking it. Louis' hand is small and warm, his grip firm, and Harry tries very hard to ignore the tingles working their way up and down his arm as Louis pumps his hand a few times. Tries so hard, he nearly misses it when Louis says, tone amused, "You can speak, can't you?"

Harry laughs nervously and says, hand still clasped in Louis', "Yes." His voice is rough from disuse, so he clears his throat and tries again. "Yeah, of course, sorry. I'm Harry. Sorry."

He winces at the patheticness of his apologies, but Louis just laughs and says, "Stop apologizing, Harry, you haven’t done anything wrong. In fact, you've kindly agreed to share your shade with me, so I'd say you're doing pretty well."

Harry flushes pink again and ducks his head, acutely aware that his hand is still clasped loosely in Louis'. "It's not my shade," he mumbles, and Louis laughs again and squeezes Harry's hand before dropping it, and Harry's stomach absolutely does not lurch at that.

He's about to go back to pretending to read his Potions book when Louis props his elbows up on his knees and leans forward, chin cradled in his palms. "So, Harry from Ravenclaw.” At Harry’s bewildered look, Louis nods pointedly at his blue and bronze bowtie, then continues. “Tell me all about yourself. Where are you from?"

Harry stutters for a moment before managing to unstick his tongue from the roof of his mouth. "Cheshire. Small wizarding community in Holmes Chapel."

"Really!" Louis' eyes brighten. "I'm from Doncaster, myself. Muggle-born, so no exposure to magic until I turned eleven. Was a bit of a shock for my mum, though it did explain a few things growing up. I would have liked to have grown up in a wizarding community," he says wistfully, and Harry bites down on his lip to stop himself from telling Louis he's welcome to visit for the holidays. Having been secretly in love with Louis for three years doesn't erase the fact that they've only officially known each other for about five minutes.

When Harry doesn't say anything else, Louis sighs and says, "Really, Hazza, you're going to need to contribute to this conversation if we're going to remain friends. Relationships are a two-way street, you know."

Harry flushes at that, even as pleasure curls in his gut, and he lets out an uncertain giggle that has Louis beaming at him. "I know a little about you," he blurts out accidentally. He catches himself too late, eyes wide, but Louis looks absolutely delighted.

"Oh?" He says with a smirk. "And what do you know?"

Harry bites his lip again before whispering, "You're the Slytherin seeker." Louis nods, but doesn't say anything. "Um. You're friends with Liam Payne from Hufflepuff. My mate Zayn's a bit gone for him," Harry says, gaining a bit of confidence. Louis snorts, and Harry continues. "You're head boy, but you don't always stick to the rules."

When Louis raises an eyebrow at that, Harry stammers, "I just - I mean, you're - you're a bit of a troublemaker, aren't you."

Louis leans back on his hands in the grass and says, voice lazy and confident, "You can't prove anything."

Harry laughs at that, and Louis grins at him, pleased. They're silent for a while as they watch each other - Harry desperate to memorize everything about this moment, and Louis curious and amused at his new friend. After several minutes have passed, Louis leans forward onto his knees again, hands dangling just past his feet. He trails his fingers absently through the grass and says, "What are you doing on the weekend?"

Harry's eyes go wide and he says, confused, heart hammering in his chest, "The weekend?"

Louis nods. "Hogsmeade weekend. You should come with me. Bring this Zayn and I'll drag Liam along, we'll lock them in a toilet at the Three Broomsticks and let Zayn have his way with him."

Harry laughs nervously, unsure of what exactly Louis is asking him. He's pretty sure it's not a date - they've only just met, after all, and Harry doesn't even know if Louis likes boys, much less him. Louis had a girlfriend for most of his fourth year, but then again, Zayn has had girlfriends, as well. He tugs nervously at the hem of his robe sleeve for a moment, considering, before he says, "Okay, sure."

Louis' answering smile is blinding, and Harry has a moment of pure panic - oh god what have I done - before his muscles are responding of their own volition and he's beaming back at Louis like a fool.

At the very least, it will be worth several hours of valid excuse to openly watch Louis and the guaranteed entertainment of watching Zayn fall to pieces around Liam.


By dinner Monday night, Harry is convinced that he had accidentally fallen asleep by the lake and had dreamed up the encounter with Louis. He trudges despondently to dinner while Zayn and Niall chatter happily beside him, and when a hand that doesn’t belong to either of them claps him on the shoulder, he whirls around only to find Louis grinning at him from the fringes of a small group of Slytherins. Louis doesn’t say anything, just winks at Harry and disappears into the center of the group, and Harry stares after him in shock, warmth radiating from his shoulder.

Zayn says, “Was that Louis Tomlinson?” And when Harry looks at him, both Zayn and Niall are staring after the group of Slytherins, as well, confusion written across their faces. Harry nods, and when Zayn looks at him quizzically, he just shrugs. And if there’s a bit of kick in his step after the encounter, Harry tries not to think too hard about it.


The week passes at a tortuous pace, and Harry manages to make a fool of himself three separate times before Saturday.

On Tuesday, Harry takes his customary walk around the Hogwarts grounds, his Arithmancy book tucked under one arm. He only begins to doubt himself once he’s reached the corner of the Quidditch pitch, seven robed figures visible, flying in formation around the goal hoops. He stops and considers turning back, but the players are flying toward his corner now, and the one in front calls something out to the rest of the players, then breaks apart from the group and flies closer.

Harry panics when he realized it’s Louis, and that Louis is flying straight for him. But Louis is close enough to call out, “Harry!” before he has a chance to flee, so Harry sticks his ground and clenches his jaw, face flaming red in embarrassment at being caught.

“What are you up to? You’re not spying, are you,” Louis jokes, and Harry holds his book up and mumbles something about needing fresh air and quiet. He manages to make an excuse - he's so mortified, he can barely think around the buzzing in his ears and he's not entirely sure what he's even saying, he only hopes it makes sense - and turns on his heel and strides off. He can feel Louis’ gaze on his back, but he forces himself to keep walking back toward the castle without even a backward glance.

Wednesday passes without incident, thankfully. Harry only sees Louis at meals and has decided to start taking the normal route to Charms, where there’s no risk of getting caught watching Louis, now that he knows who Harry is. On Thursday, though, Louis catches Harry as he’s leaving the Great Hall after dinner, calls his name and trots after him to the base of the marble staircase.

“Hey, Harry,” he says, voice and eyes bright in the dim light from the torches, and Harry can’t really help the way he stares. Louis’ skin is practically glowing in the torches’ firelight. Harry isn’t entirely sure that Louis is a real person, or at the very least, isn’t part-Veela. “You alright?”

Louis’ voice snaps Harry out of his daze and he nods, forgetting to speak again. Louis just smiles at him.

“Did you manage to find your peace and quiet?” When Harry just stares blankly at Louis, he prompts, “Your walk on Tuesday...?”

“Oh!” Harry frowns a little at the memory of getting caught at the Quidditch pitch. “Yeah, I did. Found a spot by the lake in the end,” he makes up, lie falling awkwardly off his tongue.

But Louis just beams at him and leans against the banister, arms crossed over his chest. Harry tries not to stare at the way his muggle shirt - a button down this time - pulls across his shoulders. “Good! Are you keeping up with all your school work? O.W.L.s this year, yeah?”

Harry nods. “Sinistra is really packing it in. Got an Astronomy exam next week already.”

“Ah, Astronomy’s a bit of rubbish, isn’t it? Bloody star charts and mapping the craters of the moon and all that. Did alright in Astronomy, though, the stars are nice enough to look at. Let me know if you need a hand revising, I’d be happy to help.”

Harry gapes at Louis for a moment, shocked, before he manages to nod and say, “Yeah, alright, thanks,” voice weak.

“No worries.” Louis reaches over and pats Harry on the arm, then says, “Right, well. Late night Quidditch practice. See you!”

Harry watches Louis tug his wand out of the back pocket of his jeans and light the tip as he leaves through the front doors and slips out onto the dark grounds. He’s not quite sure how he’s gone from pining from afar to being study-buddies with Louis Tomlinson in just four days, and is even less sure of whether he’s pleased with this development or not.

It’s Friday, though, that makes Harry want to crawl into a hole and die. He’s sitting in his customary spot at breakfast, eating a sausage and glancing over at Louis every so often, when all of the sudden, Louis stands up and starts walking toward the Ravenclaw table. Harry turns his attention to Zayn with a jerk of his head and ends up choking on a bit of sausage.

Zayn is thumping his back when Louis reaches them and drops into the empty seat next to Harry. He watches them with concern. “Everything alright, Harry?”

Harry nods, eyes watering. He grabs the first goblet of pumpkin juice he sees, which turns out to be Zayn’s, and gulps it down. After setting the goblet down, he wipes his eyes hastily on the sleeve of his robe, then turns in his seat to face Louis. Louis steals a slice of bacon off Harry’s plate and says, “I just wanted to make sure you remembered about Hogsmeade tomorrow. Can’t have you standing me up, now.”

Harry watches Louis’ fingers shred pieces off the strip of bacon and carry them to his mouth while he tries to formulate an answer that doesn’t sound obvious and desperate. It takes him so long that in the end, Zayn leans around Harry and answers for him.

“Sorry mate, Harry’s just suffered a bit of damage due to lack of oxygen to his brain. He’ll be there, no worries. I’m Zayn, by the way.”

“Ah, yes, Liam’s friend!” Louis says with a wicked grin, and Zayn turns a sharp glare on Harry. Harry’s too busy watching Louis to notice it, though, and Louis laughs. “You’re coming along, aren’t you, Zayn?”

“Yes, he is,” Harry cuts in, and he ignores the elbow Zayn digs into his ribs. “Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

“Perfect! See you tomorrow, then, boys.” And with a ruffle of Harry's hair, Louis is gone, weaving his way through the crowd of students leaving for their first classes of the day.

Harry drops his head onto the table as soon as Louis is out of range and groans. Zayn digs an elbow into his side again and hisses, “What the hell, Styles? You’ve got a date with Louis Tomlinson? And I’m chaperone?”

Muffled into his folded arms, Harry says, “It’s not a date! And you’re not chaperoning, god.” He lifts his head. “Liam will be there too. It’s not a date,” he repeats, but Zayn just raises an eyebrow and stares at him for a moment before stealing Harry’s goblet of pumpkin juice.


Harry wakes up on Saturday to grey skies and the gentle patter of rain. He lies in bed for a while listening to the rain and willing his heart rate to remain steady, even though all it wants to do is ratchet up into overdrive at the thought of his not-date with Louis.

He manages to keep calm until the other boys start waking up, succeeds in getting quietly dressed with shaking fingers, and follows Zayn through the common room and down to the Great Hall.

There’s already a small crowd of students milling about, waiting for the caretaker to start letting them out, and Harry and Zayn find a spot against a wall to wait for Louis and Liam. Harry doesn’t even realize that he’s fidgeting nervously until Zayn grabs his hands and squeezes them. Harry offers Zayn a weak smile, and Zayn huffs out a sigh and mutters, “It’s just Louis, Merlin.”

But he laces their fingers together nonetheless, and Harry tips his head onto Zayn’s shoulder and closes his eyes so he won’t keep looking around for Louis.

They’ve only been waiting a few minutes when Harry hears Louis laughing from across the entrance hall. His entire body stiffens and he straightens up, fingers squeezing Zayn’s, and then Louis and Liam are standing in front of them. Louis is wearing a puffy jacket with a fur-lined hood that nearly swallows him whole and a beanie that pushes his fringe into his eyes, and Harry’s fingers literally itch to brush it aside, so he concentrates on sliding his free hand into his pocket instead.

Zayn’s fingers clench painfully around Harry’s, so he looks over at Liam. Liam is staring at Zayn, who’s staring back with wide eyes, and Harry turns a smug grin on Louis. Louis isn’t looking at him, though; his eyes are locked on where Harry and Zayn’s hands are clasped and tucked between their thighs.

Harry clears his throat and unwinds their fingers, then pushes his nervously through his hair. People are starting to convene at the double doors, which have been propped open, so Louis beckons them forward and they manage to squeeze their way out into the misty rain.

The ground is muddy and slick, and Harry slips as soon as he steps off the cobblestones. Three pairs of hands reach out to steady him, one arm winding around his elbow in support, and when he looks over, he’s surprised to see that it’s Louis’. Louis smiles at him and murmurs, “Steady there, Harry. Don’t want to muddy those lovely trousers of yours.”

Warmth flushes through him and he leans on Louis a bit, and Louis doesn’t move his arm for the entire walk to Hogsmeade.

“Can we start at Honeydukes?” Louis asks, eyes on Harry. “I need to replenish my collection of sugar quills before I have to sit through another one of Binns’ lectures, and Liam’s promised his mum he’d send her some crystallized pineapple.”

They all agree, more than happy to get out of the rain, and they shuffle into the pleasant warmth and candy floss smell of the sweet shop. Louis ends up buying a large bag of sweets to send his sisters, and fondness bubbles up in Harry’s throat. Zayn catches Harry staring adoringly at Louis and pinches his side, and Harry presses his lips together and turns away before Louis notices.

Afterward, the four of them huddled under the awning outside Honeydukes, Louis suggests, “How about Zonko’s?”

Liam looks at Louis knowingly and says, “If you’re going to buy more fireworks, I’d rather not be there so I can claim plausible deniability after.”

Zayn pipes in, “Let’s go on ahead to the Three Broomsticks, Louis and Harry can meet us there after.” He wraps a hand around Liam’s elbow hopefully, and Liam stares dazedly down at Zayn’s fingers for a moment, blush riding high on his cheeks, before he nods his agreement. Harry winks at Zayn as he and Liam step off the front stoop and disappear into the rain.

Louis tucks his hand through Harry’s arm automatically after they’ve pulled up their hoods, and they follow Liam and Zayn out onto the path and turn toward Zonko’s Joke Shop.

“Are you?” Harry asks, and when Louis looks up at him questioningly, raindrops catching in his eyelashes, Harry elaborates, “Buying fireworks.”

Louis laughs and says, “Course not! You think I’d buy fireworks in town, where they could be traced back to me?” He glances back up at Harry and hastily adds, “Not that I’m admitting to anything, of course.”

“Of course,” Harry parrots, a smile in his voice. “You know,” he says, voice teasing, “You’re exactly the kind of student Prefects are there to watch over. I don’t know how you became Head Boy.”

Louis gasps in mock-indignation. “How very dare you! People love me. I am a model student, Harry, and I resent your implications otherwise.” But Louis nudges Harry’s side with his shoulder, and when Harry looks down at him, he’s smiling, eyes twinkling with laughter.

Louis doesn’t need anything in particular from Zonko’s, but he insists that they should give Liam and Zayn some time alone - with an accompanied eyebrow waggle - so he and Harry wander the crowded aisles discussing the merits and downfalls of various joke items. “Wheezing powder is rubbish, don’t bother. It does the trick okay, but it’s impossible to avoid getting it all over your own hands, and then you end up in the same state as everyone else. Fanged frisbees are quite fun, though, as long as you remember the gloves.”

By the time they’ve been through the entire store, Harry actually has a few items in his own hands, and when they get to the Three Broomsticks, purchases in hand, Liam and Zayn have been waiting over an hour.

They don’t seem to have noticed, though. They’ve found a small table toward the back of the pub and are sitting crowded together, heads bent close as they talk. Louis stops Harry before they’ve been spotted with a hand on his arm, and they watch Zayn and Liam for a moment, heads tilted to the side and expressions pleased.

“I expect we’ll be planning a wedding soon,” Louis murmurs.

Harry laughs and says, “No need for that, Zayn’s had it all planned out since third year.”

Harry makes sure to rustle his bags loudly as they continue approaching the table, and when Zayn looks up, his eyes are a little bit unfocused, face pleasantly pink. Louis slides into the seat next to Liam with a, “Hello, love!” and a pinch to Liam’s cheek that has Liam batting his hand away with a laugh.

When Harry takes the fourth seat, Zayn smiles happily and pushes his butterbeer across the table toward him. The four of them spend a few hours at the Three Broomsticks, drinking butterbeer and chatting. At one point, Louis knocks his foot against Harry’s ankle under the table, glancing up at Harry through his lashes as he does, and when Harry smiles and pushes back, he leaves it there, a warm weight against Harry’s leg. By the time they decide to head back to Hogwarts, Harry’s had enough butterbeer and attention from Louis that there’s a pleasant buzz just under his skin and he can’t stop smiling.

It’s raining harder than before, and as they bundle back up and step outside, Zayn warns Louis, “You might want to hold onto this one,” thumbing at Harry.

“Hey,” Harry protests, but Louis just laughs and loops their arms together and they start the slow trek back to the castle.

Harry is soaked and shivering by the time they make it back. Zayn and Liam head into the Great Hall for lunch, but Harry and Louis pause by the doors. Louis eyes Harry critically, then tugs his wand out of his back pocket and steps closer to Harry. He’s so close that Harry could count his eyelashes if he wanted, and Harry tries not to stare, he does, but it’s hard not to. Louis is so close that, even though Harry’s teeth are chattering loudly enough that he can’t hear what he murmurs, he sees Louis’ lips move, and then his clothes have dried.

Harry breathes out a sigh of relief, and once Louis has tucked his wand back into his pocket, Harry whispers, “Thank you.”

Louis just smiles at him and says, “‘Course, mate. Can’t have you catching hypothermia, can we? Remind me later to put an impervius charm on your coat.”

They walk into the Great Hall where lunch is still being served, and when Louis follows Harry to the Ravenclaw table and sits down, no one says a word. Harry spends the entire meal alternating between talking and laughing with Louis, and staring down at his plate so Louis won’t see the smile that feels permanently stretched across his face.

Just before Harry’s about to head up to Ravenclaw Tower, having said a reluctant goodbye to Louis, Louis calls out from where he’s standing by the stairs down to the dungeons, “Hey, Harry, wait.”

Harry pauses on the bottom step of the marble staircase as Louis walks over. He watches Louis tug his fringe aside, fingers twitching nervously, and then Louis says, “D’you want help revising for Astronomy? The rain’s let up, I can meet you on top of the Astronomy Tower tonight, if you’d like.”

Harry bites his lip to stop another smile from spreading across his face and nods. “Yeah, alright. That sounds nice, thanks.”

Louis nods, and then they stand there staring at each other in silence for a few minutes until a group of Gryffindors comes crashing through the double doors and Louis jerks out of his daze, face flushed and eyes unnaturally bright. Harry can’t take his eyes off him, not even when the Gryffindors stumble past them, jostling him a bit on the stairs in their haste to get back to their common room.

“Right,” Louis says loudly, voice echoing through the entry hall. He coughs and lowers his voice. “Right, well. I’ll...see you tonight then.” Harry nods once, then Louis mumbles, “Okay. Right. Later, then.” And strides off.

Harry watches him go, and can’t stop the ridiculous smile that dimples his cheeks when Louis sneaks a quick glance back at him and walks right into another Slytherin just coming up from the dungeons.

Harry sings happily the whole way to Ravenclaw Tower, and he drops into the seat beside Zayn in the common room, who eyes him suspiciously. “Why are you singing Celestina Warbeck? Are you ill?” His eyes narrow for a moment, and then he gasps, “Did you and Louis snog?”

Harry giggles and says, “No! He’s helping me with Astronomy later, is all.”

Zayn squints at Harry and studies him for a moment. “I’ve offered to help you with Astronomy for years, mate. You mean you’re going to snog on top of the Astronomy Tower.”

Harry rolls his eyes. “No, he’s helping me before my exam on Tuesday.”

“...And then you’re going to make out.” When Harry just glares at him, Zayn holds his hands out and says, “Hey, I saw you two today. We all know you want to snog him, but I’m pretty sure he wants to it, too. I’m just saying.”

Harry’s stomach flutters nervously at that and he goes quiet, chewing on his bottom lip as he considers what Zayn’s just said.

He tries to get some schoolwork done before dinner, but he can’t stop thinking about what Zayn said, keeps thinking back to Hogsmeade, trying to see what Zayn saw. By the time dinner’s come around, he’s only written six of the required eighteen inches of his Transfiguration essay on The Dangers of Silent T’s in Incantations.

Niall is waiting for them at the bottom of the marble staircase before dinner, and he loops his arm around Harry’s shoulders as they walk to the Great Hall. Niall has taken to eating with the Ravenclaws several times a week. They still get strange looks sometimes, but it’s been years and no one has ever said anything.

Harry slides onto the bench between Zayn and Niall and leans into it when Niall plasters himself to Harry’s side, peering around him to make a face at Zayn.

“So how was Hogsmeade?” Niall waggles his eyebrows at Harry, and Harry shoves him with his shoulder.

“Successful first date,” Zayn grins, hand resting on Harry’s thigh for balance as he leans over him a little so he can lower his voice. “They spent an hour alone in Zonko’s and basically held hands on the way back.”

“Ooooh,” Niall grins, “Sounds like true love!”

Harry rolls his eyes. “It wasn’t a date.” Then his expression turns mischievous and he says, voice smug, “You should have seen Zayn and Liam, though, Niall. Sat all close together in the Three Broomsticks looking like one of those adverts in the Daily Prophet for witch dating services. They were so cute,” he coos, and pinches Zayn’s cheek.

Zayn scowls and swats Harry’s hand away. He mutters, “Twat,” but there’s no heat behind it, and when Harry knocks their shoulders together, he sees the corners of Zayn’s mouth twitch up.

Louis sits facing Harry at dinner, so Harry determinedly does not look over at him, even when he senses Louis watching him. Instead, he throws himself into conversation with Niall and Zayn. He’s too nervous to eat much, and Niall frowns down at Harry’s plate, still half-full even as desert has started to appear in the golden serving dishes.

“You alright, Harry? You’ve barely eaten anything.”

Harry presses his lips together and nods, and Zayn puts in, “He’s meeting up with Louis tonight on top of the Astronomy Tower. He’s nervous, poor boy,” he says with a pat to Harry’s shoulder.

Niall hums his understanding as he nicks a roasted potato off Harry’s plate and pops it into his own mouth. “Don’t wanna hurl all over him, eh,” he asks with his mouth full of potato, and Harry grimaces.

“Wouldn’t be very romantic,” Zayn tuts.

Harry slumps down toward the table and mumbles, “I need new friends.”

part 2