Droopy-eyed and lethargic, Harry dragged his feet into the Great Hall. It was bustling with students and teachers, at its peak just before the day's mail arrived. Tempting smells of hotcakes and other morning treats greeted Harry's nose, but he marched straight down the center aisle of the Hall, not even setting his bag down at his table.

Harry's feet carried him to the ringing Irish laugh in the middle of the Hall, and he came to a stop behind his blond friend. The kid sitting on the opposite side of the table, who Harry really had never liked, noticed Harry and nudged Niall with disdain. When Niall turned to Harry, a look of slight panic washed over his face. Harry simply stood and stared.

"Harry!" Niall squeaked out. "How-uh… how're yeh?" he tried to chuckle, but it quickly faltered.

Harry let out a frustrated breath, still annoyed with his friend. "Because of you, I had to run and hide from getting caught!" Harry said lowly. "I got lost in this stupid castle!"

Niall pulled a face, searching for something to say. "I'm real sorry, mate…" he said, not meeting Harry's eyes. "But hey! at least you didn't get caught!"

At that, Harry cuffed him on the ear, earning a laugh from Niall's surrounding Hufflepuffs. "After I ran, I did get caught, you tosser!"

Niall looked genuinely sorry at this, but attempted a bargain instead. He tugged Harry's arm down to his level and lowered his voice. "Look," he said to Harry. "Maybe we can still get the tests before class starts. If I go grab me last Decoy Detonator from me trunk, I can set it off while you grab them off his desk! Trophat'll never notice!"

Harry simply rolled his eyes. Sure, that might actually work, and losing the test papers anytime before class was good enough for him; but he was less upset about their plan backfiring than he was about Niall leaving him in the lurch. His eyes flicked up to the teacher's table, scanning it for their Transfiguration professor. Sitting at the end of the long high table, Trophat was still silently munching his toast. Well, Harry supposed, they could run off and do it right now, before he even began today's classes… They probably had no more than ten minutes, though, before Trophat ventured back to his classroom.

Harry bit his lip, thinking over their options as he lazily looked around the Hall. Eyes jumping from window to stone along the walls, he crossed paths with a pair of bright blue orbs passing the opposite way. His train of thought jerked to a stop as he felt his heart pick up speed. Across the room, leaning against the rough wall with a number of friends, was the Prefect from last night. Louis.

He looked like he was laughing, but he stopped when his and Harry's eyes met. It was brief and unintentional, lasting less than a second, but Harry didn't look away when Louis did. He wasn't sure why he was staring, because Louis wasn't looking back and probably hadn't even noticed him. The older lad continued listening to his friends' conversation…his other older friends…his other Gryffindor friends. Shit.

"Harry?" Niall was tapping on his arm now, quizzically looking at his friend. He laughed and asked, "D'you go somewhere, mate?"

Looking away from the far side of the Hall, Harry chuckled and shook his head. "Sorry, sorry. What were you saying?"

As Niall continued explaining his new plan to deffer their upcoming test, Harry trained his peripheral vision on Louis across the Hall. He nodded in response to Niall's words, really only half-hearing them. His attention wasn't gained until a mass migration of robes caught his eye and he stopped listening to Niall altogether to stare across the Gryffindor table.

"You know what?" Harry cut across Niall's speech, body tensing somewhat. "That sounds great, Niall, and keep telling me later- I've just remembered I've got to…" Harry was slowly backpedaling towards the large doors. "I've left something in my room, I'll see you in class."

Not really thinking at all, Harry strode out of the Great Hall, not answering Niall's confused, "Harry, wait!"

On the other side of the oak doors, he was just behind the loose knot of older Gryffindor students making their way to the marble staircase. Harry slowed his pace a bit, rummaging in his bag to look busy. No one paid the slightest bit of attention to him, though, as more students filed their way through the Entrance Hall on their way to and from breakfast.

Eyes trained on the back of Louis' head, Harry trailed behind the Gryffindors up the stairs and down a smaller hallway. Harry wasn't really thinking about what was happening at this point, entirely focused on keeping Louis in his sight. He wondered what class Louis went to first on a Friday. He and his friends seemed to be going in the complete opposite direction of Harry's Transfiguration class, and that concerned him a bit. He really needed to turn around and meet up with Niall…

Louis' barking laugh caught Harry's full attention and he smiled. He wanted to get closer to Louis, maybe get him to see and recognize Harry from last night. It was a long shot, but hey, this was entirely new and exciting.

The bell rang across the castle, and half of Louis' group of friends slowed to a stop, voiced their goodbyes, and made their way down another hallway for apparently a different class. They came at Harry in the opposite direction, causing him to weave between robes and bags brushing past him as he tried to continue down the hallway.

A small thunder of footsteps from a staircase on Harry's right then emptied into the corridor, as a gaggle of frantic first year Ravenclaws scurried around Harry clutching rolls of inky parchment. There was an incredible amount of confusion in the small hallway with the growing amount of students, and by the time they'd cleared from in front of Harry, Louis and the rest of his friends were nowhere in sight.

Flustered, and with an empty, hollow feeling in his stomach, Harry stood in the corridor and bit his lip. He felt stupid for even trying this in the first place. How far along did he really think he would get? There was a reason he and Louis had never crossed paths before; because it was impossible to do so in this huge castle. Feeling quite sorry for himself, he turned on his heel and shuffled back toward the main staircase. He supposed he might as well try to meet up with Niall back at the Great Hall and head for class together.

Turning the corner at the end of the hallway, he collided with something solid that let out a big, breathy, "Uff!"

Harry looked up, completely startled. He felt like a ball of electricity had come to life in his stomach. Louis had abruptly reappeared, surprise also written on his face.

"Sorry, mate-" Louis began, but faltered as he took in his younger peer. "Well, well…" his face relaxed a bit. "This is funny."

Harry had no response, and suddenly felt a little intimidated by the smirk that was making its way onto Louis' face. Louis looked him over, seeming confused as to why Harry was so still and silent. "I didn't hurt you, did I?"

Harry managed to shake his head.

"Good," Louis said, shifting his bag on his shoulder. "Well…" he stepped around Harry, giving the same sort of small nod as he did when they last left each other, and made to continue down the hall.

"This is funny?" Harry blurted out to Louis' back. It was as if Harry's mind had lost all ability to control his mouth.

Louis stopped and turned back to Harry. "Sorry?" he questioned.

Well jeeze, now Harry had to continue talking. His throat felt thick and dry, as if he hadn't drunk water for a week. "You-" he cleared his throat. "You said that this was funny. How's it funny?"

Louis looked perplexed for a second, then chuckled. "I dunno," he said, cocking his head to the side. "It's just funny how I caught you last night and now I've run into you again so soon after. And I'm pretty sure these are the only two times I've ever seen you in my life. Which is also funny, seeing as you're obviously not a first year," he shrugged his shoulders with a smile. "I dunno," he said again.

Harry struggled with a response because, well… this Prefect he was talking to was distractingly cute. Harry did, however, choose not to mention that them running into each other today was mostly intentional on his part. Instead, he nodded and said, "Oh."

There was silence after that, and poor Louis looked a bit embarrassed by the conversation. He coughed and looked around the now empty corridor. "Right, so I should get to my class… You should too," he said, giving Harry a pointed look. "I can't get you out of two detentions, you know."

Harry raised his brows and quickly said, "No, no, right. I… Yeah, I'm going." Feeling a blush begin in his cheeks, he backed towards the corner Louis had come around, feeling silly and young and embarrassed.

Louis smiled again and said, "Just joking, mate, don't worry… What's your name?"

Harry swallowed. "Uh, H-Harry. Name's Harry."

"Harry," Louis finished with a nod. "Well get to class then, Harry. And hopefully if I do see you again, I won't be scolding you," he said with a smile. Harry grinned in return as Louis turned and left the corridor at last.

When Louis was out of sight, Harry let out a laugh of disbelief. Had that actually turned out more or less in his favor? He had no idea why he felt so happy about the small exchange that had just happened, but the smile wouldn't leave his face. Was it normal to feel like this after seeing and talking to someone new? Someone… someone you liked? This was foreign territory. Harry was used to feeling nervous talking to a really pretty girl, like the few girlfriends he'd had during past summers. But this was different, this was someone older and cleverer and…well, a boy. A boy who made Harry feel excited and alert and giddy for some strange reason. He wasn't sure if Niall or anyone else would understand what he was feeling, especially since he didn't even know how to fully explain it. It felt like a special secret just for him. And although Louis had just left, Harry felt anxious and impatient to see him again, to feel that same rush of happiness and electricity. It was so bizarre.

But the buzz in Harry's stomach remained as he made his way back across the castle, finally subsiding when he slid through the Transfiguration classroom door. He dropped into his seat next to a slightly disgruntled Niall just as Trophat turned to face the class, a stack of awaiting parchment in his hands.