He sketches lazily as the professor drones on and on and on. He scratches at the rough parchment with his quill and squiggles and crisscrosses and zigzags. His head is down and your eyes flick back and forth from the skilful movements of his hands to the dark curls that tickle the back of his neck.
His sketches are just blackest ink thrown haphazardly and randomly, and if you were to peer closely, to hold the parchment to your face, you know you would see nothing but the scribblings of a madman. So it's insane, really, when you look at his work as a whole and the lines and swirls come together and form an image, so clear, almost perfect.
Today he sketches her. The girl with the crazy hair and all the answers. She's his latest crush, if only because she knows everything about fighting the Dark Arts and about magical creatures and maybe also because she has a nonmagical background and he knows that she could understand him. In a way you never could.
He turns suddenly, catches you staring.
"What?," he asks, somewhat annoyed.
"Nothing. 'S good," you reply, pointing at his drawing.
"Oh. Thanks," he blushes. You only know because you've spent so much time watching him, so much so that you can see his dark skin turn slightly darker.
"You like her then?," you ask, even though you know.
"Yeah, 'spose I do," he grins.
You grin back but you don't mean it. You try to, but it hurts.
"What do you think of her, Shay?"
"Well, she's a genius for a start. And she's got a lovely smile. But I think she's pretty much spoken for, Dean," you whisper, and nod your head towards the boy with the too blue eyes and the red hair and the secrets to her laughter.
Dean's face falls. You stifle your smile. His shoulder is tense under your hand as you tell him you're sorry.
Weeks pass and so does Dean's crush. He's always been so fickle, you think. You're the only one he's kept around.
When you see him sketch now, it's never people. No more girls with curling lashes and gentle curves.
Now he sketches objects. Your schoolbags flung side by side on the dormitory floor. Quills on wooden tables and stacks of books. Your tie hanging from your bedpost.
You ask him once.
You say, "Dean, mate. Why don't you draw people anymore?"
And he gives you a wry smile and tells you he's waiting for inspiration.
So you leave it at that.
A few more weeks pass and before long he's sketching girls in classes again.
He draws Lavender during Divination. He sketches Parvati in Defence. He draws Hannah Abbot in Herbology (until a Thieving Vinetree steals his quill). And finally, you see the most intricate, detailed sketch of Ginny Weasley, done during lunch time of all times.
And all the while you sit back and watch him and let your hope fly away on the swipes of that feathered quill.
And then he's dating Ginny, and it's hell.
But then she breaks up with him and that's hell too, because it hurts you to see him this broken.
Gone are the peaches and reds and browns, the warmth that swirls together to make a paper Ginny, and the objects come back. He sketches candles and armchairs and cushions. He doodles hanging lamps and window panes and his own hands.
But he leaves them unfinished and he never meets your eyes when you ask why.
Until one day, when he whispers, "I need to find my muse. I think it might have been her, Shay."
And you bite back a sort of laugh/sob and say nothing.
You're finally fed up.
You love him. You know you love him. You're pretty sure other people know you love him. So why doesn't he know you love him?
You sit curled up on his bed scribbling (crap) figures of your own, waiting for him to return to the library. You've decided to tell him. Or ask him. Or kiss him. You haven't decided what you've decided.
But today is the day.
You shuffle up and try to get into a more comfortable position on his bed when you feel a hardness pressing into your back. You sit up and pull the covers back and you think you're invading his privacy but it's okay because you love him.
And you find a book there. You've never seen this one. It's brown and leather-bound and there're feathers and buttons stuck on the front in an array of colours. The buttons spell out "Dean's" and you feel horribly guilty but you open it anyway.
Your breath stops in your throat.
The first picture in this notebook is you. Your hands are clasped and resting on your stomach and you look to be sleeping in a squashy armchair. You can't remember that day, but obviously Dean does.
You turn the page.
And it's you again. You're bent over a book of some sort, shoulders hunched and your brow furrowed. You're chewing on the edge of a broken quill and your fingers are ink-stained.
Your heart is racing and the faces of so many ink and paper girls flash through your mind.
You flip through the pages, impatient now. And they're mostly of you; you sitting in class, you sleeping, you studying, you daydreaming, your eyes, your hands...
All but one.
The final one.
And okay, you're in it. But it's not a picture of you.
He's titled it. It's the only one with his messy scrawl across the top and it reads
And you see Dean with his dark hands at your back and his body pressed close to yours and, Merlin, are you snogging?
Your mind is racing and you feel like you could float away. You're breathing slowly and deeply when he walks in.
And he blanches completely.
"I- I- Wha- I- Sorry- Wh-," he stutters, mouth flopping uselessly.
And all you can do is jump up and run to him. Your first kiss is dark and needy and you fall backwards into his bed once more.
You can taste the grin on his lips and the happiness on his tongue.
And he mutters, "How long?," into your mouth and you breathe, "Forever," into his heart.
"You know. You've always been my inspiration," he tells you in the dead of night.
You kiss the corner of his lips and tell him that you knew all along even though you didn't.
It takes him months. But when you finally agree to it, he sketches you naked.
You sit there the whole time, embarrassed and exposed.
But you have to smile as his eyes light up and come alive.
You watch as his hand hurries and rushes over the parchment, curving and curling and dancing and making you immortal.
And this time, when you see the finished product, you don't look closely to see tiny lines and broken swirls and scratchy squiggles.
Because he's drawn you with letters. Your body made up entirely of your name again and again and again.
And your smile is undeniable when you see that at the bottom of the page he's titled it
and signed his simple signature.