Alone in This Bed

Seamus Finnigan was sleeping alone.

This in itself was the average of his life, but quite recently he had grown accustomed to the feel of Dean Thomas's body near his when he came back into the world of reality every morning. Now, where he had previously been was a gaping emptiness that practically screamed to be noticed, to be dwelled upon.

Merlin, this bites.

Seamus sat up and turned, letting his legs hang off the side of the bed. He stayed there, looking at his knees, feeling empty and worn for an unmeasured length of time. The irrational part of his mind (which was the hefty majority) was begging him to go back to sleep and wake up again later, in the futile hopes that Dean would magically appear by his side once more. But Dean was gone, and Seamus had had enough of lying in a bed that did nothing but taunt him with what was missing.

He knew why Dean had left: The Muggle-Born Registration Commission.

That didn't mean it didn't hurt.

Seamus stood and padded out of his room, looking at the ground the entire time. His mind cringed at the irony; that he had finally gotten the only thing he had wanted in life, just to have ripped away from him. He was terrified of the thought that he would have to face this every morning until school started back up come September, but he knew that Dean had to disappear, had to be safe.

As previously mentioned, that didn't mean it didn't hurt.

()

The next morning had the same characteristics about it; loneliness, emptiness, and the harshly ironic sting; but this time, there was an extra factor. The night before, Seamus had dreamt about Dean –

[A knock at the door, loud and urgent, woke him up from his nap on the recliner in the den. A bleary-eyed and irritable Seamus stood, ready to hex the pants off of the person on the other side, underage restriction be damned. He half-stumbled to the foyer and wrenched the door open. "The hell do… You…" He blinked in surprise at the tall, dark figure of his best mate in the entire world, standing on his welcome mat, clutching a stuffed pillowcase and wearing an expression of desolation. "Bloody hell," he whispered. "You look like rubbish."

Dean smiled faintly, but it didn't reach is eyes. "I really, really hate to show up without warning, but my mum said it was best if I… Well, basically she told me I needed to leave for my own safety. I was wondering if – er – I could stay with you?" The smile faded, to be replaced by a look of horribly concealed desperate hope.

Seamus wordlessly stood aside, allowing enough room for his friend to enter, shock still splattered all over his face. Only when the jolt of electricity ricocheted through him as Dean brushed past did Seamus manage to find his metaphorical footing. He pushed the door shut, grimacing at the loud slap it made. "How did you get here? You live in bloody London, for Merlin's sake!"

Dean answered with a distracted, "I – oh, I – er – took the bus," as he hesitantly stepped farther into the house, glancing around him like a nervous rabbit.

"You took the… You took the bus?! In case you didn't notice, mate, this is Ireland!"

The floorboards groaned in protest as Dean abruptly spun around to face Seamus. "Yeah, I did notice, thanks. I took the effing Knight Bus to get here, didn't I? Wasn't exactly pleasant, as the whole thing reeked of sick the entire trip, but whatever!"

Seamus didn't even have the good grace to look abashed as his unappeasable curiosity got the better of him. "Wait, you took the Knight Bus? What was it like? Did they give you food? How much did it cost? Bloody hell, Dean, how long were you on it? You smell like rubbish! Do you want a shower? Me mam is going to kill me when she gets home! C'mon, follow me."

This time it was Dean's turn to blink in shock, but Seamus grabbed his wrist, ignoring the sparks that the simple contact sent up his arm, and dragged his mate upstairs to the lavatory he shared with little sister, Aislin. He pushed Dean in and mouthed, 'Stay here.'

Aislin's room was across the hall, and Seamus made a show of stomping up to it and banging on the closed door. "I'll be in the shower," he said gruffly. He waited for a reply before noisily shutting the bathroom door and turning on the water. Only then did he face his mate and allow him speak.

"What was all that about?" asked Dean.

"She can't know you're here. I've got to figure out how to tell me mam before she gets home and I can't have Aislin ruinin' it."

"That's Aislin's room?"

"Yeah, what about it?"

"I don't even know, Shay. Can I shower now?"

Seamus blushed. "Er, yeah, I'll just be in my room…" He turned to leave, but felt a hand clamp down on his arm.

"Where d'you think you're going? You just told her you'd be in the shower, and people in showers don't typically walk around their house or sulk in their rooms."

"What the bloody hell am I supposed to do? Stay in here with you?"

Dean held his hands in front of his face, palms out, as he took a microscopic step back. "You got yourself into this mess. Just… Just sit there and wait, okay? And close your eyes; I don't want you peeking."

Seamus's bum found the toilet just in time – his knees gave out when he realized that he was going to have to stay in the bathroom while Dean freaking Thomas showered. He closed his eyes, ignoring his mate's sad attempt at humor, and buried his face in his hands. Ears wide and alert, he couldn't help but groan quietly as he heard the soft rustle of clothes being removed. How could Dean just strip in front of him as if it were no big deal? What happened to the days when he'd pull the shower curtains shut before even losing his shirt? Where had they gone? What was happening with the world? Why was he even here, at Seamus's house of all places? Why did he leave his family? Merlin's beard, what was happening with the world?

"Shay?" Dean's voice floated to his ears, which were now ringing.

"Urmh," muttered Seamus from behind his hands. "Can I look now?"

"What? Oh, yeah, it's safe." Seamus put his hands down and opened his eyes, but didn't move any farther. "Shay, I was wondering… You're not… Well, I mean, I just sort of showed up; I didn't call or anything… And you seem pretty distracted so… Are you mad at me?"

Seamus's head snapped up; that hadn't been what he'd expected. "Why would I be mad at you? You're my best mate, and I promised you, didn't I? Safe home and all that rubbish. I… I'm only worried."

Dean didn't reply, and the Irishman used the time to try to keep his thoughts away from what his friend was doing; standing under the steaming spray, running his hands over his body, spreading the soap all on his skin, which had to be slippery by now… Slippery and wet, and darker than chocolate… And Merlin, hot to the touch…

No! Stop it! What are you, a glutton for punishment?

Seamus massaged his temples. Normally he could keep his thoughts where Dean was concerned almost entirely platonic, but the unexpected situation and the huge amount of steam were obviously wreaking havoc with his self control. How else could you explain the fact that he couldn't tear his eyes from the shower curtain?

Steam was rolling around in the air, billowing even, and making it nearly impossible to see. It didn't matter though. The red and beige patter was branded into his cornea. Seamus had to fight off the insane and suicidal urge to strip down and join his best mate under the water.

As his vision became utterly obstructed, Seamus's only thought was that he wished he were still asleep in the recliner downstairs and that Dean knew his father.]

And what made it worse was that it had been more memory then anything. Seamus almost never dreamt, much less dreamt a memory, and the realness of it was unsettling. How was he going to make it the rest of the summer?

()

Seamus punched his pillow and growled. He was having a harder and harder time falling asleep as of late. He needed Dean here; he needed to feel the warmth of the one person who always could make him see sense. He needed to be able to curl up in his arms and pretend that everything was perfectly fine out there. He needed protection.

The moon floated higher and higher in the sky, and still he couldn't sleep. He knew he was going completely barmy, but the only thing he could think about was Dean. He rolled over onto his side, trying desperately to get comfortable, but it just wasn't working. There was only one thing that would put him into any form or semblance of sleep, and that one thing wasn't there. Instead, it was out somewhere, hiding in Dean's pocket as he traversed across untold amounts of land and hid in shrubs and trees and caves and God knew what else.

He wanted Dean to be near him again, because he knew that as soon as that happened – as stupid and girly and cliché as it might sound – Seamus would get his heart back. Well, not entirely, since Dean would still be holding it, but it would be close, and that was what mattered. Right? Or was it just Dean that was important?

Do I even need a heart? He could still feel his beating, even though his chest was most defiantly empty, so maybe it would be alright if it was never returned to him. But it was, wasn't it? Dean was right there, he always had been. Seamus cuddled into him, relieved that he was finally found. This game of hide-and-go-seek was getting old, in truth, and it was so much more peaceful to just be found together.

The room was oh-so-dark, and the covers really were warm, and as long as he kept his eyes closed, he was sure Dean wouldn't be going anywhere, and this suited him just fine.

()

Seamus had given up. His sanity was leaving him and he wasn't going to bother clinging to it any more. Dean wasn't here, and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about that. It had been several weeks since he had left, and no amount of dreaming was going to bring him back.

Instead, Seamus decided to ask whatever god there was out there for his help. Mind, God probably wasn't too overly pleased with him (he was a homosexual wizard, two things the Catholics commonly frowned upon), but it was worth a shot. Anything to get Dean home safe.

He positioned himself on his knees underneath his window ledge.

"God," he whispered, feeling foolish, "if you're listening to me, please keep Dean safe. I know I'm not on the best footing with you, but I've never really asked for anything before, and I'm not even wanting this for me. If he came home completely safe but never spoke to me again, I wouldn't care. Just so long as he was alive. God, please. I – I can't imagine a world without him in it. And you know! – You know that he keeps me grounded, and… And he helps people…" Seamus wasn't really sure what he was getting at, but he needed God to see, to understand that –

"Dean Thomas doesn't deserve to die."

Seamus looked out the window, not knowing what else to say. Billions of stars stared down at him, and he felt completely alone.

()

Anger. Perhaps anger would make the loneliness go away.

In order to distract himself, Seamus took to making lists of people he should hate, and why he should hate them. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Bellatrix Lestrange, Draco Malfoy, Snape, Dean's dad, Rufus Scrimgeour, Cornelius Fudge… The list went on, and the reasons grew weaker as it did, but he took whatever steps he could in order to not think about how badly he wanted to look into those familiar brown eyes and touch that familiar brown skin. He wanted word from Dean, but word wasn't going to come. He vainly longed for proof that the one person he loved above all others was still alive.

His bed had never felt so empty.

()

There were no owls from any undisclosed locations, and school was looming ahead.

()

September first came and went, and Seamus found himself in a dorm with only Neville Longbottom for company.

()

Night after night, Seamus sat on his fourposter with a small collection of memories dancing around in his mind –

[Dean poked his head out of the shower and spoke words, but they were impossible for Seamus to understand, even in the roaring silence that came in the wake of the water being turned off, mainly because Seamus had always been quite partial to looking at a wet Dean Thomas.

"Shay," said Dean, amusement tugging the corners of his mouth up slightly, "Towel? Like, now? I really don't think you'd want to see me come out of here naked and sopping wet."

Oh, you've no idea what I want… Before Seamus had time to stifle it, the image of Dean sauntering towards him, slippery and shining and completely nude flashed through his mind. "Er, right. Towel." He tried to distract himself by rummaging beneath the sink, taking longer than he averagely would. The image of Dean's normally short and curly hair turned shaggy and dripping had him blundering and slightly breathless.]

– or –

[Seamus slammed the door to his room, thought better of it, wrenched it open, and shouted, "Fine! Next time I'll just tell him 'No, me arse of a mam won't let you in because she's too damn worried about her own family!' How about that? That good enough for you?!" Then he slammed the door again, louder this time. His mam kept yelling, but he ignored her and paced around his room instead. Dean was sitting on his bed, looking extremely awkward.

"You shouldn't have shouted at her, Shay," he whispered.

Seamus stopped his stomping and glared at him, long and hard. Then he sighed and joined him on the bed. "I know."

"And you probably shouldn't have called her an arse, either."

"I know."

They sat in silence.

Seamus looked up at his friend, about to make a joke to lighten the mood, but the moment their eyes met, all traces of humor fled from him and hid in locations he didn't have the patience to search.

Dean's expression held more negative emotion than any teenager – of legal age or not – should ever have to bear. He was terrified and worried to the bone and homesick and a ton of other rubbish mixed in, and it was all clogging up something better that was trying to break through.

Seamus had never wanted to kiss someone more, in his entire, life than he did right then.

"She'll get over it," he said, as he unthinkingly took Dean's hand and intertwined their fingers. "She has to – she hasn't got a choice."]

– and sometimes, when he was feeling that particular combination of bravery and nostalgia –

[When Seamus woke up, he knew something was different, and something was wrong – the two qualifications not necessarily applying to the same somethings. Something Number One: Dean Thomas's arms were wrapped around him in an intimate embrace. Something Number Two: It was still night time, and he was supposed to be sleeping.

Seamus had tried to make a copy of his bed (his mother refused to assist him; she was still a bit sore from the "me arse of a mam" comment), but only succeeded in turning his full sized mattress into a king, drastically reducing the floor space in his room. After the ensuing row with his parents ("When I said I wasn't going to help you, that wasn't an open invitation for you to perform underage magic!"), he had offered to go back to sleeping on the couch, like he had the first night, but Dean simply shook his head and insisted that they share the space.

"It isn't like I'm going to rape you, Shay, you'll be fine," he'd said. For some reason, this statement had made Seamus uncomfortable, but he agreed, nonetheless.

And so, there he was, four days later, being cuddled by his half-asleep best friend at something akin to three o'clock in the morning. The more he thought about it, the less he wanted to change the situation, but Dean had no idea what he was doing, and Seamus couldn't just take advantage of him like that.

"Dean," he whispered fervently. "I'm not your soddin' teddy bear. Wake up."

"Mrmph."

"No, that means let go of me, not nuzzle my hair." It wasn't right, how much Seamus was enjoying this.

"Don' wanna." Dean gave Seamus a squeeze and pulled him closer, if that was possible. "Go back t' sleep."

"Dean!" said Seamus, now directly into the neck of the boy in question. It really was difficult to keep himself from leaning his face forward ever so slightly and licking, just once, so he'd know what it tasted like. The curiosity was driving him bonkers. He took a deep breath to inhale the scent that was clinging to his skin, and then passed it off as a sigh. "Listen, mate, I've got something to tell you that might change your mind the next time you decide to go cuddling me in the middle of the night."

This wasn't exactly how he had planned on coming out of the closet to him, but he figured now was probably about as good as it was going to get.

"What, d'you got dragon pox or somfin'?" Dean asked Seamus's hair.

"What? No, nothing like that. It's just..." Seamus strained to pull his head away from Dean's shoulder so he could look him in the face. His eyes were big, and brown, and soft with what Seamus assumed was sleep. He looked so perfect with his dreams still clinging to him.

"I'm gay," blurted Seamus before he lost his nerve. He could feel his heart thumping in his throat, and he was completely aware of just how much of their bodies were touching. He knew that this could fall either way – that Dean could push him away with revulsion, get up, walk out the door, and never come back; or he could not care, and everything would just be normal. His stomach was clenching and unclenching painfully, almost as if it were wringing itself out.

Dean stared at him, and blinked once, twice, three times before he said anything. "You're not messing with me, are you?"

Seamus just shook his head; he didn't think he could open his mouth without vomiting.

"Well good, then. Now go back to sleep." Dean tried to pull him back in.

"Wait, you don't care?" asked Seamus, resisting.

"Not in a negative way, no. I'm not apathetic about it either, though."

Seamus couldn't believe what he was hearing. "So it's okay? You really don't mind?"

Dean sighed. "I can't say 'No, Shay, kissing blokes is bad,' – that'd be kind of hypocritical of me, wouldn't it?"

"Wait, what?!"

"Oh, blast it, I was going to tell you tomorrow, but you went and woke me up and now I'm all tired and such, and I'm saying things I'm not supposed to say yet. Yes, I am a poufer. Now please, please, go back to sleep."

This time, when Dean pulled him close, Seamus didn't protest. Instead, he quickly got comfortable and marveled on his new revelation. A bubble of hope was forming in his chest.]

The last memory always left with Seamus a strange, slightly strangled feeling.

The more and more he dwelled on the past, though, the weaker and weaker became his grip on reality.

()

Time was up. Seamus was sick of doing nothing. He pulled back the curtains surrounding his bed and got up to leave, forgetting he was wearing nothing but his boxers. The lights were all off, but he was a wizard. "Lumos," he said, not even bothering to be quiet. He waved his wand around, looking for his shoes.

"What, in Merlin's name, are you doing?" asked the drowsy voice of Neville Longbottom. Seamus ignored him; he had found his boots and began pulling them on. "Oi! I'm talking to you!"

Something wasn't right; his feet felt funny. It took him a few moments to realize that he had forgotten socks. With a growl, he set about untying the laces he had just done up.

Neville must have climbed out of his bed, because quite suddenly Seamus found the other boy to be beside him and talking. "Where are you going? It's well after hours; you can't go mucking about in the corridors, the Carrows'll find you, or worse, Snape, and you really don't need another – hey! I'm talking!" Because Seamus had finally managed to fully dress his feet, and was once again hell bent on leaving. "I swear to God, turn around and listen to me!"

But Seamus could barely hear him; much less listen to whatever it was he had to say. He had more pressing matters to attend to. Being awake all night, thinking, had finally brought him to the anticlimactic conclusion that if he were to get rid of Snape and the Carrows, Dean would come back immediately. It all made complete and perfect sense: So much so, that he wondered why he hadn't realized it before. They were the evil, and as soon as the evil was gone, Dean wouldn't have to hide. It's so simple!

Seamus felt a squeeze on his shoulder. He assumed it was Dean, congratulating him for figuring it out. Except that the grip tightened even more and he found himself being spun around to face an extremely annoyed Neville. Instead of stopping, though, he kept on spinning until he was facing the door again. "Dern it, Shay –"

And something inside Seamus Finnigan broke. The flood gates that had been holding back his sanity for weeks – months, even – suddenly came crashing down, and he snapped. Without him meaning for it to happen, his fist connected with Neville's face, and damn if it didn't feel bloody brilliant. Words, gravely and rough, floated in the air, and he found with surprise that he had been the one to lay them out. "Don't. Call me that. Again," they ordered.

"What the hell is your bloody problem?" said Neville from a markedly greater distance as he rubbed his jaw. He had stumbled backwards and downwards, apparently, when Seamus had punched him.

"What's my problem? What's my bloody problem? I haven't slept in FOUR SODDING DAYS! I'm seein' shite, Neville, shite that ain't really there, and he's gone and I'm going insane!" Neville stood slowly, warily eyeing him. "Don't you dare say 'Shay' again, because he is the only one that can get away with calling me that, and he isn't. Fucking. Here!"

"Can you please just tell me what you're on about? Because you're not making any sense!"

And then Seamus exploded, all over Neville, all over the beds, and the curtains, and the walls and the floorboards; but not with blood and flesh and bits of brain. Seamus made a loud, angry noise somewhere in between a roar and a growl and he began pacing. "DEAN," he shouted, throwing his hands up. "Who else would I be talking about? He's the only bloody person I give a real damn about, but it's not like you would understand about that–"

"What about my mum, then? My dad? How about my gran? Can you tell me where the hell Luna is?! You aren't the only one!" Neville's face had turned bright red (although, admittedly not as red as Ron's could) and his hands were balled up and shaking at his sides. Seamus was just starting to realize that this was real and not one of those instances where he was seeing things, when Neville punched him in the nose. Seamus, to his credit, didn't flinch or fall backwards, but took it.

"Stop bloody acting like some tortured soul, because, quite frankly, it's a luxury neither one of us can afford! I've got people I love, too, you know!"

"Yeah," said Seamus, "but you, unlike me, have an insane amount of people who care about you! Dean's pretty much all I've got and I have to fix this," he said, pointing towards the door for emphasis. His temper was starting to cool, although his words were thick with nosebleed. He hardly felt it.

"We…" Neville said, calming down as well. "We've got to play this smart.

An iron twang was suddenly present in Seamus's mouth, and this, more than anything, pulled him back to reality. He was bleeding. He had punched Neville, who had punched back. He had practically admitted to being in love with Dean, and in turn, his dorm mate had confessed to feeling the same about Loony Lovegood. They were now discussing overthrowing the school. And he hadn't asked one question. The air was waiting to receive more of his words.

"So you… You fancy Luna, eh?" he asked, just to let Neville know that he was back to his old self again. Or rather, as close as he could hope to get. Neville looked at him, debating, and then nodded. They were okay.

()

Neville began keeping Seamus sane, as strange a concept as that might have been. But, Seamus supposed, it wasn't so much Neville as it was Neville's grief. The fact that Seamus was no longer alone in his horrible loneliness created a sort of paradox solution, drastically lightening the sense of isolation he carried around with him everywhere. Not everything clicked quite right in his head, but it was better than it had been since school started. It helped that Neville knew, because Seamus no longer had to keep it all bottled up like poison. Neville took it in stride.

Seamus had gone back to praying, and the longer he kept at it, the more he felt better; not so much because of the whole religion factor, but more so due to the feeling of actually accomplishing something. His prayer and quiet resistance of the Carrows and Snape counted in some great Gringotts in the sky, and he was building up quite an account. He hoped that it was enough.

He kept working.

()

The hollow in his chest, though getting easier to deal with, was by no means filled. Seamus had taken to casting Silencing charms on his bed hangings every night because of the dreams. And no, they weren't the typical dreams of a hormonal teenage boy: Seamus was plagued with nightmares that often had him waking up in a cold sweat, screaming, or crying, or pleading for Dean's life, or any combination of the three. Every day the need to get this damned war over with (Seamus's words) was crushing his bones more and more, because he knew that the nightmares wouldn't end until he was sleeping with Dean next to him again.

()

["Dean, what are you looking for? Why do you have your pillow case?"

"I'm trying to reach my jacket; I know it's under here. Can you hand me that ruler over there?"

"Why do you need a jacket? We aren't going to Diagon Alley 'till tomorrow."

"Could you stop asking questions and hand me the ruler?"

"Fine! Here! Take the damned thing! Now answer me?"

"There you are, you nasty little bugger!"

"Dean!"

"I'm leaving, Shay."

"Where're you going?"

"Into hiding."

"Into… Why? When? When're you leaving?"

"Did you read yesterday's Prophet?"

"I don't read the paper, you know that."

"Well you should start. They're requiring all Muggle-borns to 'register' with the Ministry."

"So? That's not so b–"

"Umbridge is in charge of it."

"She's working there again?!"

"Apparently, and she's still got some serious influence. I've got to disappear."

"No, you don't, I'll just say you're my family – my cousin or something…"

"Shay. I'm black. You're Irish."

"So? We'll make it work. I don't give a damn what I have to tell them, you aren't leaving – Mmph…"

"…"

"…"

"…"

"…Oh…"

"Mmhm."]

()

["Shay, promise me. Promise me you'll stay and fight. Kick their sorry arses."]

()

Neville came back with Ron, Hermione, and Harry. Everyone was talking and explaining things, and Seamus had so many questions, none of which were getting answered, possibly because most of them weren't even asked. There was randomness, and utter chaos, and still he managed to keep himself calm, despite the knot that was twisting in his stomach. Where was Dean?

Seamus joined the conversation, trying to distract himself. Neville was acting as the leader like he had been doing all year and Seamus was surprised to find that he was playing Second in Command.

When Neville pulled out his fake Galleon and privily sent out an alert for the rest of Dumbledore's Army, Seamus felt something in his brain click. Why hadn't he thought of it before? Dean would have had the smarts to keep his coin, and they could've talked like that and Seamus would've been spared the temporary loss of his mental health. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

But he didn't have to scold himself for long, because minutes later, Luna Lovegood stepped through the portrait, closely followed by an emaciated, scruffy, and weary looking Dean Thomas.

()

The world was right. There wasn't a shred of insanity left in Seamus's mind. All traces of bitterness, loneliness, and fear fled from him as soon as his eyes rested on Dean. A shout escaped his mouth, and he launched himself across the room and into his arms. He knew he had just created quite the spectacle, but it didn't matter because Dean was here, and Dean was alive, and Dean was hugging him back with a desperate ferocity. "You're okay… You're okay…" he muttered as he buried his face into the crook of Dean's neck.

Dean pulled away, but didn't let go. He glanced up and down Seamus's body, his face twisting into a grimace. "Shay," he whispered just loud enough to be heard over the conversation taking place behind them. "You look like complete rubbish! What happened to you?"

Seamus didn't answer: He was too busy re-memorizing every aspect of Dean's face; how one of his eyebrows was barely higher than the other, the way his nose curved up at the tip just ever so slightly, and the shadows that were nestled just under his cheekbones – all of it. "I was so scared," he said in the same hushed tones, while staring avidly at Dean's lips. "I didn't know if you'd come back or when… God damn it, Dean, don't do that to me ever again!" And he fell into another hug.

Seamus could feel Dean smother his face in his hair, and he never wanted to move.

The portrait burst open again, and, startled, the two boys jumped apart. Ginny, Fred, George, Lee Jordan, and Cho Chang all came stumbling in. Fred reported that the bar owner was getting annoyed, and Cho showed Harry her Galleon, as if she needed proof that she had been invited.

"So what's the plan, Harry?" asked George.

"There isn't one," he replied through clenched teeth, absentmindedly rubbing at his scar.

"Just going to make it up as we go along, are we?" said Fred in an excited voice. "My favorite kind."

Harry directed his next words to Neville. "You've got to stop this! What did you call them all back for? This is insane –"

Dean interrupted him. "We're fighting, aren't we?" He took out his Galleon and re-read the words on its rim. "The message said Harry was back, and we were going to fight! I haven't got a wand, though –"

"You haven't got a wand?" said Seamus, rounding on him. "How the hell did you manage that?"

Dean smiled sheepishly. "Got it taken by Snatchers." He held up his hands and shrugged in an "Ah, well, what can you do?" sort of fashion.

Dear Merlin, thought Seamus, what have we gotten ourselves into?

()

The entire battle Seamus didn't once leave Dean's side: He was too afraid that if he did, he'd never find him again.

()

Without warning, all of the Death Eaters Disapparated, some of them missing curses by centimeters. Voldemort's voice, loud and clear, sounded.

"You have fought valiantly. Lord Voldemort knows how to value true bravery."

Seamus listened as went on to tell them all that they had an hour until he ordered his Death Eaters to come kill them. Dean took Seamus's hand and squeezed. Voldemort told Harry to turn himself in. Seamus squeezed back.

They weren't done yet.

()

People drifted into the Great Hall, some carrying bodies, other's carrying guilt. Seamus didn't want to face that, not yet. Instead, he dragged Dean after him into an empty class room, where he promptly pulled him into an embrace.

They kissed as if their lives depended on it.

()

Seamus couldn't move from the wall; Harry's Protego was too strong.

"Avada Kedavra!"

"Expelliarmus!"

Green and red light exploded into golden flames. Seamus was confused and had no idea what was going on, but one of his hands found Dean's.

Voldemort fell.

Tom Riddle was dead.

()

Everyone was screaming, but it was different now. Instead of shouting in fear or anger, they were jubilant and relieved. It was all finally over.

In the corner of the Hall, a black man and an Irishman were holding on to each other for support. Between the kissing and the crying that they were simultaneously doing, their knees must have been about to give out.

It was all finally over.

()

["I've got to disappear," said Dean, clutching his jacket in one hand and his half-stuffed pillowcase in the other.

"No, you don't, I'll just say you're my family – my cousin or something…" said Seamus as fear tugged at his stomach. He was panicking, but he didn't want Dean to know.

"Shay." Dean motioned towards his body. "I'm black. You're Irish." A rueful smile tugged at his lips. Seamus wanted to hit it off.

"So? We'll make it work." Seamus was desperate and practically pleading. "I don't give a damn what I have to tell them, you aren't leaving –" But before he could finish his sentence, Dean took his face in his hands and kissed him, full on the mouth. Seamus may or may not have moaned, he didn't know.

It didn't matter that Dean was about to walk out of the house, or that his parents could come strolling in at any minute, or that he had no idea what this meant for their "best friend" relationship. Seamus was kissing Dean freaking Thomas, and that was something he'd been quite keen on doing for too long.

After a vague length of time, Dean pulled away and rested his forehead against Seamus's.

"…Oh…" said Seamus brilliantly.

"Mmhm."

They stood that way together: Two boys, who had just delved into the unknown and had no idea what to do now that they were there. Dean had one hand in Seamus's freshly tousled hair, and the other was caressing his cheek bone. Seamus's breath was slightly ragged and his index fingers were hooked on the belt loops of Dean's trousers.

"When are you leaving?" asked Seamus, afraid of the answer.

Dean closed his eyes and pulled away. His jacket and pillowcase were on the floor, dropped at his feet. He picked them up slowly, as if he were trying to delay.

"Now, I guess." They locked eyes. "Shay, promise me. Promise me you'll stay and fight. Kick their sorry arses."

Seamus nodded, helpless to do anything else.

"And don't come after me," Dean added.

Seamus swallowed. "I'm going to miss you, you git."

Silence stretched between them as they both accepted what had to come next. Dean leaned down one more time and pressed his lips to Seamus's before walking past him and out the door, closing it rather creakily as he went.

The sound reverberated in Seamus's head with a heavy finality.]