Just Good Friends

Well, I got two tickets to the game.
It would be great if I could take you to this someday.
Well, I'll walk you home when the whole things done.
If you're there, I don't even care which team won.

We could stop at the coffee shop.
And make fun of the cops in the parking lot.
We could laugh as we both pretend that we're not in love and that we're just good friends.

Nickelback – Don't Ever Let It End

He'd never seen so many people in such a small amount of space. Their elbows rammed into his side and their cheers deafened him whenever someone scored a goal. If it wouldn't appear totally pathetic, Seamus would be clinging onto Dean's arm by now – Dean who was totally oblivious to the other screaming fans, instead jumping up and down with the rest of them whenever his team scored.

'How did I get here?' Seamus wondered. What in Merlin's name had possessed him to agree to accompany Dean to a football match?

"So basically the point is to kick the ball into that goal?" Seamus asked, pointing to the net and one end of Dean's poster. "And the other team has to try and get it into the other one?"

"Yes!" Dean said, half excited that Seamus was beginning to understand the game, and half exasperated that it'd taken an hour of explanation. "And they can't touch the ball with their hands."

"Which is why they're always kicking it," Seamus said, nodding wisely. If he were honest, he didn't see much point in a sport that wasn't played on broomsticks, but he'd never say that to Dean. After all, he'd just spent an hour sitting on his best friend's bed being bored to death by explanations of a muggle sport he didn't really care about. He'd actually understood most of it after the first half hour, but he couldn't bring himself to stop Dean from talking. He loved how the other boy's eyes lit up with excitement and how animated his gestures got when he was excited – which he always was when he talked about soccer.

"Yes," Dean said, laughing. "You know, you wizards are really sheltered when it comes to muggle things.

"That's not true!" Seamus protested. "I know how to work a telly-thing now. My cousin has one."

"And is there anything else you know how to work?"

"…Point made."

"You should come stay at mine sometime over the Christmas holidays," Dean said casually. "You'll get an education like you've never had before." He grinned.

"Really?" Seamus asked.

"Yeah."

"Cool," replied Seamus, "but it'll have to be before Christmas day, 'cause I'm busy afterwards."

Which was how Seamus found himself in the midst of a few thousand screaming football fans.

Well, actually, it was a little more complicated than that. Dean had been supposed to be going with his muggle cousin, who'd come down with the flu. Instead, he'd asked Seamus to stay an extra night and go with him, which he'd thought would be a good idea seeing as Seamus had been showing an increased interest in the muggle sport recently.

Little did he know that it wasn't the sport Seamus was into.

The Irish boy started as Dean let out an extra-loud cheer, and around him the stadium erupted with more noise than Seamus thought possible. It was louder than Quidditch!

"Did we win?" he asked Dean.

Dean tried to answer, but they couldn't be heard over the deafening yells of the fans. Instead, Dean nodded, a broad grin stretching across his face. And suddenly, Seamus didn't care about the mash of people in the stadium, or the elbow some careless stranger just shoved into his ribs. Because that smile took his breath away.

It took them far too long to escape the throng, but finally the crowd spewed out onto the streets. It was winter, so the sky was already dark and starry.

"So… are we going back to yours?" Seamus asked as they began ambling slowly down the street. They turned down an alleyway and onto a main road that ran parallel to the one they'd been on, escaping from the hundreds of people flooding out from after the game.

"Sure, if you want," Dean said, shrugging. "Or…," his gaze lighted upon a near-empty coffee shop that still had its lights on and an open sign in the window. "Unless you want to go for coffee first?"

Seamus agreed. While the night hadn't exactly been in his top hundred, he wasn't keen on it to end. He was enjoying spending time with Dean, and only Dean. Hogwarts was always so full of people; here it felt like they were totally alone.

They were served by a shy-looking girl with hair down to her waist. She stuttered when she told Seamus that they only accepted English currency (he'd been so absorbed in his conversation with Dean that he'd tried to hand over wizard money).

"I think she fancies you, mate," Dean said in a low voice once they'd sat down.

"What? Who?" Seamus asked, which was a bit thick of him seeing as there was only one female in their general vicinity.

"Girl behind the counter," Dean said, nodding in her direction. "She's not bad looking."

"I guess," Seamus said doubtfully.

Dean laughed. "Ask her out. Give her your number."

"What number?" Seamus said, genuinely baffled.

Dean laughed again. "Sorry," he said. "It's a muggle thing. 'Number' means telephone number, so she can ring you. But you don't have a telephone. I forget that you don't know anything about muggles sometimes."

"I forget that you were raised a muggle sometimes," Seamus admitted.

"So are you going to?"

"Going to what?"

"Ask her out!"

"Why would I do that?"

Dean rolled his eyes. "Because she might fancy you. Because she's kind of pretty. Because you don't have a girlfriend, so why not?"

Seamus glanced over to the counter. Sure enough, the girl was looking at him from under her fringe. "She's not my type," he said, almost truthfully.

"Your type?" Dean said incredulously. "I didn't realise you had a type."

"Everyone has a type," Seamus said defensively.

"…Right. What's your type, then?"

'You,' Seamus thought, but didn't say. "Oh, you know," he said lamely. "Taller. Less shy."

"You don't know she's shy," Dean argued. "She might just be tired. It is late; she's probably been working all day. And wanting someone tall is a bit superficial."

"I'm still not going to ask her out," Seamus said.

Dean looked like he was about to reply, but they were cut off by the screaming of sirens as a police car raced past the shop.

"Those are those pulse men, aren't they?" Seamus said as the pair watched the car race by. "The ones that are like muggle Aurors?"

"Police men," Dean said, hiding a smile behind his coffee. "Yes, they are."

"Their job must be hard," said Seamus, "not being able to use magic and all."

"Well, the criminals can't use magic either," Dean pointed out. "And they have technology like cars to help them."

"Oh, yeah."

They finished their coffee and left, taking pity on the girl behind the counter who kept glancing at her watch every thirty seconds. Dean was talking about the game now – a subject that Seamus had successfully managed to avoid for a quite a long time. He didn't really get the appeal, despite having seen the game in action. Still, he'd sit there and listen to it because that's what he did.

"You're not really that interested, are you?" Dean asked.

"Huh?" asked Seamus, who'd been in his own world, simply allowing Dean's voice to wash over him.

"Football. You're not all that interested, are you?"

"No, no," Seamus protested. "It's very... different."

Dean laughed, and Seamus realised his friend had seen right through him. "Am I that transparent?" he asked, deflating.

"Just a bit," Dean said. "But you seemed so happy to let me go on and on about it. Why didn't you say something? Why'd you let me drag you to this game if you didn't really want to come?"

"I dunno," Seamus said, not about to tell his friend that he liked listening to his voice. "You seemed to like talking about it. And I did enjoy tonight; it's just that the best part wasn't the game."

"Come on," Dean said, "let's cut through the park."

It was dark but the full moon and the lights on the street meant that they could just about see each other. "Seamus?" Dean asked. His voice was hesitant.

"Yeah?"

"Why don't you go out with girls? You went to the Yule ball with Lavender, but you never went out with her again."

"Yeah. Turns out girls aren't really my thing."

That was what Seamus wanted to say. He really, really did.

Instead he said, "We just went as friends."

And then Dean changed the conversation, and Seamus was left nodding along once more.

There'd be other times.