Title: Three Moments
Disclaimer: Not mine, however unfortunately. Just borrowing the characters and playing in the sandbox of Rowling's creation.
Warnings: Light slash. Very brief mentions of femmeslash. Possible slight deviations from canon, but only where I've been lazy. Breaking up of known canon couples for dubious fun. Gratuitous use of the dash. Un-beta'd.
Pairing: Harry Potter/Theodore Nott
Summary: Every story has a beginning, middle and end. Three moments in the lives of Harry Potter and Theodore Nott.
A/N: It's a half-bunny. I'm not sure I have enough to make it into a full fic just yet, but who knows ? Also, Nott is such a blank slate my personality for him is probably nothing like fanon, but eh.
It had taken quite some time, but things had finally started to settle into a manageable routine. Harry sighed as he ducked around a corner and into another secret passage, avoiding would-be stalkers with the ease of long practice as he hurried up to Transfiguration. Hermione gave him a narrow look when he slid into the seat next to her, but the appearance of Professor McGonagall put her off for a bit.
"You should stop avoiding everyone, Harry," she whispered to him, under the cover of trying to animate a conjured statue. "You won't be able to hide away once we graduate; what would Ginny think?"
"Ginny," interjected said girl from over at the next desk, not bothering to pretend she hadn't been eavesdropping, "would be very amused and cheer Harry on, though she wonders how he'd manage it." She leaned over, and in a stage whisper, added, "Have you seen them, Hermione? They're rabid."
Harry let out a heartfelt groan in agreement, and his statue grew crab legs and tried to scuttle away. He lackadaisically hit it with a stunner, then tried to reverse the impromptu transformation. "They're too awful to face, Hermione," he echoed Ginny, "I'm afraid to try."
"Honestly, Harry," Hermione sighed. A moment later, after Professor McGonagall signalled them to start finishing up, a playful glint appeared in her eyes as she added, "You'd better not repeat that in front of your admirers – lack of Gryffindor courage, indeed!"
"Everyone knows Potter was only sorted into Gryffindor because he was too lazy for Hufflepuff," a familiar voice drawled, and Harry buried his head in his arms. "One day he'll realize who has the right of it in the Wizarding World, eh, Potter?"
Harry let out an uninformative mumble, and Malfoy thankfully seemed to take it as his cue as he left their desks and walked out of the class. Harry shared a commiserating glance with Ginny; they had grown much closer after they sorted an agreeable relationship split. Ginny was chasing after Luna nowadays, and Harry decided he really didn't want to know.
"I really can't understand him," Hermione said, gathering her books. "Insulting you and trying to recruit you at the same time..." She struggled a little picking up the bag, and Ginny cast a featherweight charm on it as she picked up her own books, heading with Hermione out the classroom door.
"We'll see you in Potions, Harry!"
Harry had fewer classes than both girls, mostly because he had no idea what he wanted to do in the future. Hermione was set on a high-up Ministry job, and Ginny wanted to be a professional Quidditch player, then an Auror. Ron had decided to skip Seventh Year and head straight into the Specialised Auror Training Program, along with quite a few of the DA and those who had been in the Battle of Hogwarts. The children of Death Eaters, conversely, had to repeat the year because their NEWTs were under suspicion of being tampered with. All this meant a little more than half the students from the previous year's graduating class had stayed on; the dorms and classrooms had been expanded accordingly.
Harry sat in his chair at his desk, and wished he could sleep, or at least stay here for a while longer. Professor – Headmistress, really, though she didn't take points for the former – McGonagall gave him a stern yet fond glare that made him sigh and stand. Slowly gathering his books, he said a quiet goodbye to his teacher and headed for the dungeons.
Oddly enough, the dungeons were where he found his quiet time. They were huge and seemed to be forever expanding, corridors and hallways that delved into nothingness. Harry had found a few friendly portrait snakes that agreed to show him back to the Potions corridor if he was inescapably lost, so he wandered them with a glorious abandon. Not even Slytherins explored much around here, after all, and it was always fun to find another old, unused classroom or a former bedroom with yellowing books and dust.
Lost in his reminiscing, Harry let out a yelp as he rather painfully collided with something. He briefly hoped it wasn't a wall - he'd never live it down. The something – someone? – that fell on top of him was soft, and brown; Harry squinted, but his glasses were lying around somewhere on the floor and he couldn't determine much more than that.
The brown lifted and oh, it was hair. Someone, then, and Harry gave them his best wry grin. "Sorry about that."
The brown and black blob – with a pale sort of blob for a face, and hands – muttered a "Yeah, sure you are," and bent over, probably to pick up his books and parchments, yellow-white scattered across the floor. Harry eyed the shape thoughtfully, searching through his memory banks for someone who currently disliked him and wasn't trying to gain favour, and came up blank. Maybe...
"Glasses," he grumbled, and bent down as well, feeling the ground. Then he realised, hey, magic, and pulled out his wand. "Accio," he said, even as the other person made an odd sort of squiggle-move with his body, and thankfully caught his glasses when they smacked into his hand. Harry put them on.
He felt no more enlightened.
"Er," he said, trying to place the face, which seemed familiar – and the strange movement had apparently been the Slytherin's reach for his own wand, or something – "I really am sorry, you know. I wasn't watching where I was going."
The other teen gave him a dubious look, and Harry sighed. Instead of belabouring the point, he reached for the scrolls closest to him, piling them up somewhat haphazardly and held them out as a peace offering. The other had a thin face, remarkably forgettable, and was lanky as though he had not quite grown into his limbs. "Nott, right?" Harry guessed, hopefully.
"Yes, Potter. Congratulations." The Slytherin grabbed the scrolls from Harry, placing it on top of the pile in his arms, and stood. "Now, if you'll excuse me..."
Harry rolled his eyes, standing as well. His nose wrinkled as he frowned. "I won't excuse you, actually – why don't you believe I'm – "
"My father was a Death Eater, Potter," Nott interrupted, already turning to head down the corridor, "I hope I'm not overestimating your intelligence by assuming you know what that means."
He had only walked a few steps before Harry started jogging to catch up with him. "What does that have to do with – "
"You kill Death Eaters, Potter," Nott sighed. "Or prosecute them."
Harry's fists clenched, his temper rising. "That doesn't have anything to do with – "
"Yes, Potter, it does. Junior Death Eater in the making, remember?" Nott's voice was coolly exasperated, but there was an undercurrent of self-depreciating humour that made Harry calm slightly. Then he wondered if he had imagined it.
"And will you ever let me – "
Nott smirked. "No."
" - finish a question?" Harry wondered aloud, continuing anyway. "Don't you know interrupting – wait, wait, stupid question. Junior Death Eater, right."
Nott's smile was almost friendly, lighting up his eyes, and Harry immediately resolved to see it more often. "Glad to see you can learn something, Potter."
They had reached a main corridor at an intersection, the brighter lighting startling, and Harry blinked a few times as his eyes adjusted. "It's Harry!" he called after the other boy, who was already walking away.
Then he noticed Zabini suddenly round the corner, and ducked into an alcove before he could be accosted as Zabini tried to suck up. He was far more successful at it than Malfoy could have been, and tested Harry's resolve and patience significantly. Harry decided to take the back way to Potions instead.
"So, Nott, who is it?"
Theodore looked up from his textbook, the muted lighting straining his eyes. "Who is what, Zabini?"
"You've been seeing someone," Zabini stated rather than asked. "You're very much," he waved a hand, expressively, "lighter, now." He looked a fair bit close to disgusted, probably partly because he had noticed.
"We're in Seventh Year, Zabini," Theodore said blandly, turning back to his work. "It isn't as though a relationship would last."
"Yet you're trying one anyway?"
The git was more perceptive than he was worth. "It's a Hufflepuff," Theodore lied. "We're keeping it quiet so there's no backlash." He eyed Zabini meaningfully, and the dark-skinned boy huffed.
"I'm not Malfoy, Nott. I can keep my mouth shut."
"Hufflepuff," Theodore reminded, a faint smirk on his lips. "They live on trust, so there's no chance I'll tell before checking it with – them." He mentally cursed at the almost-slip-up.
Zabini caught it, and smirked back. "At least tell me gender, then. You've been keeping it rather gender-neutral."
"There aren't a lot of Hufflepuffs to begin with," Theodore grumbled. "Do you really think I'd hook up with a male?"
"Hm." Zabini looked him over, thoughtfully. "Probably someone large, then – you don't look much like a – "
He was broken off by Theodore slamming his book shut, his scrolls already in hand. "I'm leaving now," Theodore said, stiffly, feeling his face heat. "It's impossible to get any homework done around here," he hissed, face darkening into a scowl, and swept out of the Common Room.
He stopped in a darker hallway, taking a few breaths to calm himself. It was – unusual, for him to lose his composure like that. He wished a curse on Zabini, and Zabini's family, and for getting him into this mess to start with, probably that clingy annoying –
"Potter," he replied, feeling a little sullen, but his former bad mood seemed to vanish in the face of that blinding smile. Merlin. "What are you doing down here?"
"Oh," Harry said, and grinned sheepishly. "Well, I was trying to do some research in the library, but then," his eyes grew huge, as he gestured with his hands wildly, "this gaggle of Slytherin firsties came around, and started asking for my autograph!" He sighed, and abruptly sat on the floor. "It took me forever to get away, and I barely escaped that all-girl Ravenclaw fourth-year group, and I haven't even found any sources for my essay yet," he griped.
Theodore frowned. "For which class?" He considered Harry, then the floor, and sat down as well. "I might have..."
"Defence, can you believe it?" Harry murmured with a wry smile. "But Professor Lancet is really strict about 'having sources'," Harry put finger-quotes around the words, "and I don't want to ruin my year by having detention for the rest of it."
"Here," Theodore said, brandishing the scroll he had found in his small pile, "this is my essay. Don't use too many," he warned, but Harry was already nodding.
"Yeah, yeah, too easy to notice, cheaters can't be caught, blah blah blah," the Gryffindor said, his voice trailing off as he opened the parchment, reading the first few lines before his eyes darted to the extensive list at the bottom. "Wow, you're good at this," he said frankly, and looked back up. "Thanks."
Theodore felt the blood rushing to his face, and wished he could push it down by force. "It's no problem," he managed, and felt extremely grateful for the length of his essay. Harry was fully immersed in it, and by the time he looked back up Theodore had his traitorous bodily functions under control.
Harry blinked up at him, almost as though he had forgotten he was there. "Er, right," he said, and pulled out a scrap of parchment. "I'm sorry – Do you want – "
"You can keep it," Theodore blurted, and bit his lip. "I mean, until our class. You'll give it back." He tried to make his last sentence vaguely threatening, but it turned out sappier than he had expected. All the Hufflepuff talk must have gotten to his head.
Harry seemed to think so, too, his eyes wide. "I'll be careful," he promised, and smiled. Theodore felt himself smile back almost unconsciously, and Harry's green eyes were bright behind his glasses.
"Potter – "
He was broken off as Harry suddenly stood, grabbing his arm and dragging him further down the twisting corridors. Straining his ears, Theodore could hear the pounding of footsteps, loud voices muted by distance and stone walls. He could make out few words; 'Harry' and 'Potter' seemed to be mentioned a lot, and Harry pulled him into an alcove just as the noise grew louder.
Harry's eyes were wide and desperate, so he didn't speak. After a few minutes, the students seemed to give up looking for their missing idol and loudly traipsed back the way they had come. Harry collapsed to the floor with an audible sigh.
Theodore didn't hide the curiosity from his face. "Fan club?"
"I have no idea," Harry said, sounding pained, "why they all want to chase me everywhere. A few whispers and autographs and even some photos I can deal with, but they follow me everywhere and I can never get a spare moment in my life to just relax!" His voice grew louder with each word, until he was almost yelling. "Half of them don't even know anything about me beyond – "
" – they read in the Daily Prophet or some other newspaper rot, even though I'm quoted saying the only paper I interview for is the Quibbler, and – "
"- just not fair, really, because how am I supposed to get decent grades and manage to pass my NEWTs with the scores people are expecting if they don't even give me time to study in peace – "
" – Madame Pince doesn't even chase them out anymore, because they just follow me around and I'll never get anything done otherwise, but I can't try to borrow a book without a dozen other people wanting it as well because I touched it – "
Theodore closed his eyes, brought up his Slytherin resolve – as he had no Gryffindor courage to speak of -, leaned forward and pecked Harry lightly on the lips.
Harry stopped, fortunately. When Theodore peeked, he also seemed to be gaping at him, which wasn't quite so fortunate.
"Did you just – "
"Did you just," Harry repeated, undeterred, "call me Harry?"
"I didn't even know who you were!" Harry laughed, eyes shining. "But you weren't fawning all over me, and you had the nicest smile." He grinned, the expression wide and open.
Ginny hit him over the head, lightly. "Enough with the sappy stuff," she reprimanded, and Harry gazed up at her a little blurrily. "And enough with the Firewhisky, too; poor Theodore's going to die of embarrassment soon."
Harry frowned down at his mug, which seemed far emptier than he remembered it. "Theo doesn't get embarrassed," he said decisively. "He goes all pink sometimes, but then he just frowns and he's normal again."
"Only for you, Harry," Theo said dryly from the corner, nursing his own cup.
"Do you think it's a Whimfy Tulleratt? They're supposed to make people turn colours sometimes, and they make people sad as well," Luna interjected, pausing her spinning dance so suddenly Harry felt dizzy. "Though they're usually only found in New Zealand."
"Probably not one of those," Harry said, his brow furrowing. "I don't think Theo is sad." He glanced up, his eyes watering. "Theo, – "
"I'm not sad, Harry," Theo said patiently. "I'm quite happy, though I'd be happier if you didn't drink another glass." Harry's reach for the bottle was interrupted by the bottle flying out of his hands and onto a high shelf, Theo's wand directing it. Harry scowled at him.
"Why are you – "
"You're going to thank me in the morning," Theo muttered, and Harry spared him a look. "You should go join your friends."
Harry looked around, teetering slightly as he rose to his feet, and noticed that the spinning Luna and the hitting Ginny had disappeared, probably inside. The outside area was a modern Muggle design, all steel and glass, though the garden outside was filled with magical plants, a few greenhouses visible further away. Hermione had done well for herself, and Neville was definitely good for her.
"Harry?" Theo's voice was soft.
"I'd rather stay out," Harry heard himself say, and he carefully walked to the balcony, facing out to the garden and the stars. The breeze was cool on his face, and he shivered, suddenly chilled; Theo came behind him and Harry relaxed into his arms. "Will it – " he started, then paused.
"Yes," Theo whispered, his mouth beside Harry's ear. "For us? Always."