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"What the hell was I supposed to do?" "The first move".

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October

 

With October came the rain, and with the rain came the boring afternoons in the hallways and in the Ravenclaw common room, where Combeferre had gained the permission to have them all stay, since he had made a compromise with the eagle knocker, convincing it that all his friends could very well look for the answer to its question on the Internet, as all the riddles were known in 2015, so it could as well let them in with just an easy question, for formality.

With the boredom came the newfound interest in board games, and all their friendships were put at stake as a consequence of this.

Risk! was never played again after the one time when Enjolras managed to turn an innocent game in an occasion to blabber for an hour about how wrong imperialism could be. Not even Grantaire’s playful shoves and attempts to kiss him were enough to shut him up, and when the boyfriend gave up, there was no one that could stop him from ranting.

Needless to say, Grantaire acted offended for three days after that afternoon.

“R,” both Courf and Eponine tried to talk some sense into him, “it’s not that Enj doesn’t like you, it’s just that he needs to learn how to act around you…”

And at the same time, Enjolras was sulking elsewhere in the castle, waiting for Courf and Ferre to tell him how to fix the damage he’d made, again.

 

“God,” Courfeyrac complained to Ferre, after they’d witnessed their shared best friend apologise to his boyfriend in a barely acceptable way, “it was easier when those two kept shoving their UST in our faces. Now they have to play angsty relationship all the time…”.

Ferre had looked at him with a mysterious face and then laughed. “Sometimes I forget how much of a fanboy you are, Courf. But yes, someday we will need to lecture them about how to live in a relationship without fearing to cause World War Three every other day”.

“Yeah, because you’re the expert on the subject, yes?” Courf joked, and somehow it felt almost like going back to before the half of September. Things came easy between them, now, again; when Ferre smiled at him it didn’t hurt anymore, it was almost like there wasn’t any hidden, suppressed hope anymore. But, again, there was something more to this weird balance that was building up between them.

“I guess we could be experts for them, they know way less than we do about love, Courf,” Ferre threw him a sideway glance, before submerging in his History of Magic books again.

 

And what did they know about love, Courf wondered. When he told all this to Jehan, the metamorphmagus laughed and almost cried from laughter. “Oh, Merlin’s Beard, it’s exhilarating. You two are exhilarating. Just tell me, my friend, what would you do with Ferre if he were your boyfriend?”.

The question made Courf choke with laughter and random spasms, then he sighed and started to think about it. Well, not that he thought it could possibly be a good idea to think about all this, but Prouvaire had made it sound like a challenge. And Courfeyrac couldn’t say no to a good challenge.

Now that he was thinking of it, the things he would like to romantically do with Combeferre were extremely normal and unexciting, they would study together, and walk together around the lake, they would share a butterbeer in Hogsmeade probably, and maybe they’d try to break into the Astronomy tower at night, to watch the stars. But they had already done all this, in the previous six years. And they had also shared a sleeping bag when they had gone camping and three people had forgotten theirs, but Enjolras wouldn’t share with anyone and Joly was almost freaking out too much to think about fusing two bags in one where he and his two partners could easily fit.

“Jehan,” he whispered, at the end of all this reasoning, “the only thing I’d do with him that is different from now is to kiss him, probably…” and Jehan laughed even harder, almost waking up the sixth year students in the adjacent room.

 

In a rare day of sunshine, Courfeyrac and Combeferre were trying to study on the grass, clad in their coats and scarves, the wind running through their curls.

Suddenly, Grantaire appeared, laughing like there was no tomorrow, followed by an equally amused Enjolras, whose face was half covered in ashes and black smoke.

“You can’t possibly imagine what’s happened,” the blond Gryffindor had started, sitting next to them, and throwing an adoring smile to Grantaire that made Courfeyrac re-evaluate half of his life choices.

“Tell us,” Ferre encouraged him, closing his notebook and letting his hand linger a little bit too long next to Courf’s leg. Us. The bloody pronoun and the quick glance that always followed it, along with the awkward light blush on Courf’s freckled cheeks.

“Okay, so we had a Potion class that lasted an hour longer because of some hours we need to make up for since the teacher had been ill. And we were in class. Now, since Pontmercy is totally inseparable from his lovely girlfriend and I had paired up with Cosette Fauchelevent for six years before your goddamned BFF made his appearance in her love life, I needed to find myself a new partner. And since Pontmercy had always spent all his lessons with Lesgle, I told to myself, “why, Enjolras, pair up with him, he’s your friend, Marius always got good grades in Potion, the guy can’t possibly be that bad…””.

Courfeyrac had already started laughing, mostly because of the passionate tone Enjolras was using, conveying all his emotions in the tale. Ferre was laughing, too, low and relaxedly, propped up on his elbow, his left hand playing with the end of Courf’s yellow and black scarf.

“So Bossuet and I start working on our potion, and we follow each instruction to the letter. For the first time in all these years I even made sure he was turning the liquid in the right direction. We finish, the first of the class, and cheer a lot because, what the hell, I finally found the perfect companion to my lessons-”

“Hey,” Grantaire interrupted, playful, with a fake offended tone, “I thought I was the perfect companion to your Potion lessons,” he smiled and then he winked to Ferre.

“You’re too distracting, Bossuet is precise,” Enj replied, his eyes darting towards Courfeyrac and Combeferre, now in a completely different position from earlier, with the Ravenclaw almost sprawled on the Hufflepuff’s lap, trying to braid the fringe of his scarf. “‘Taire, you can very well see right in front of you how distracting people can be to other people,” he added, throwing a handful of fallen leaves in Courf and Ferre’s direction.

“I’m not distracted,” Ferre protested, lazily, not letting go of the other boy’s scarf, while Courf was trying really hard not to cast some horrible spell on Enjolras and Grantaire and the way they were laughing at them, “I was listening to you, and I’d love to know what happened to get you like that. Plus, I could be offended by your implication that I would let Courf distract me from such an important tale, as if I never had any class with him for the last six years and almost two months”.

“Yeah, but you’re not-” Enjolras started and stopped in the space of a split second, doubt insinuating in him. Courf wanted to disappear in that exact moment, while Enj started to think about how he could have interrupted something or how he could have never realised his two best friends were in love with each other. Not that this was the case, since Courf was absolutely certain the feeling was one-sided anyway.

“So,” the Hufflepuff pressed, “how did you almost make the castle explode?”. Ferre threw him a blinding victorious smile as soon as Enj started narrating again. This time, Courfeyrac had no willpower left to stop himself from running his hand through Ferre’s hair.

“Okay, so we were waiting to be graded on our potion, when the pair behind us let the bag of feathers they had on the table fall on the ground. These colourful feathers were everywhere, right everywhere. And poor Lesgle gets one of them on his very nose and so he starts sneezing like it was going out of fashion and inadvertently he sneezes into our cauldron as well. Well, it was there that disaster ensued. The potion started boiling and changing colour and growing in size, and in the arc of ten second the whole cauldron was on fire. That’s how we almost got ourselves on fire and how both Gryffindor and Hufflepuff lost a ton of house points”.

Courf was laughing too much to worry about the house points, it was still October anyway, so who cared, and then there was Bossuet and his constant unluckiness to prevent them from winning the House Cup.

Ferre was shaking with laughter too, sitting once again. He was suddenly very far from Courfeyrac, or, at least, that’s what it looked like to the Hufflepuff. He also had a small leaf between his hair and his scarf and Courf just couldn’t stand the sight of it, it prevented his brain from working straightly. He moved the leaf from where it was and Ferre threw him a quizzical glance.

“There… uhm, there was a leaf. From when the traitor threw leaves at us…” he explained.

“Of course there was a leaf,” Ferre replied, barely holding back laughter.

“And I’m not a traitor,” Enjolras stated, deadpan, before electing to get up and go inside to take a shower.

“I’m coming with you, Enj, I need to talk to you about a thing,” Combeferre said, a bit too quickly, standing up and collecting his notes. Grantaire rapidly took his place, laying down on the grass.

 

“Ah,” the Ravenclaw sighed, dramatically, “our boys leave us”.

Your boy and our friend, ‘Taire. Please…” Courf sounded pathetic to his own ears.

“Uh-uh, our boys”. Grantaire was grinning and Courfeyrac couldn’t avoid shoving him on the arm, to make him stop smiling like that.

They ended up talking about embarrassing facts about Enjolras and the time passed really quickly.

 

The time passed rather quickly when they all had to study and couldn’t afford getting bored, so the most notable things ended up happening during class, some way or another.

Courfeyrac was very surprised when professor Fauchelevent, which was in no way related to Cosette, as he always repeated, teacher of Defense Against the Dark Arts, asked him to go and help him teach third year students about the Patronus Charm.

“You’re one of the few people in this school that can execute this charm perfectly and I want those kids to understand that, while it’s still really advanced magic, they can do it. And this task will be easier if it’s one of them that shows how to do it. You won’t be alone, if you don’t want to,” but Courf was perfectly okay with not having any of his friends with him, it didn’t matter, he was already happy as he was. It was an honour he never imagined he could have.

And that’s how he found himself in a class full of thirteen-year olds with Fauchelevent smiling in encouragement from a far removed corner.

“Okay guys,” he started, fiddling with his tie, “for those of you who aren’t in Hufflepuff and for the ones in Hufflepuff who can’t remember having seen me before, my name is Courfeyrac, but you can call me Courf. Please, none of you is allowed to call me Mister. Don’t you dare,” a few girls laughed, their shining red and golden ties around their necks. It was a class of Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs. He could do it.

“Anyway, as Professor Fauchelevent has probably already told you, I’m here to show you how to evoke a Patronus. I take it everyone knows what it is, but maybe you want to refresh your minds. Anyone willing to explain this to the others?”

A small Gryffindor girl stepped up, smiling timidly. She gave the definition of the charm, turning bright pink in the process, and then she went back among her friends.

“Thank you,” Courf smiled in her direction, “as you’ve heard from your classmate, guys, you shall think about your happiest memory and then say the two words, while making the hand movement. Everything clear? One minute to think about your happiest moment in your thirteen years. Go!”

Fauchelevent approached Courfeyrac while the students started whispering to each other, trying to discover what to think about while casting the spell. The professor complimented him on the effect he was having on the younger ones, and he promised to make this exposition count for his final mark.

 

“Okay, time over. Now, who’s ready to try? It’s not easy, as you know, so don’t worry if you fail, just keep trying. And don’t be shy, if you can. Professor Fauchelevent will not see any of this, I promise, unless you manage to cast a perfect Patronus on your first try, that is. So, come on. Who’s the first one?”.

A scruffy Hufflepuff raised his hand, walking towards the front of the class. He collected his thoughts, then raised his wand and uttered the spell. A small puff of blue mist came out of the point. The boy violently blushed and made to run away.

Then a few others tried, with no better results, but Courf only encouraged them to keep trying, with a big smile on his face.

“Can you show us how you do it?” a group of Gryffindors asked him, and he wished he hadn’t noticed that at least two of the girls were trying to flirt with him. “Yes,” one of these two kept going, “why don’t you tell us which is your happiest memory?”.

He laughed all his discomfort off and stepped a bit aside, to avoid hitting anyone in the process of casting the spell.

He had a huge variety of happy memories, thanks to his friends, mainly, and to his family as well, but he decided to use his personal favourite, the one that had also influenced the shape of his Patronus. He thought back to that one summer day before the first year at Hogwarts, the summer that Combeferre had spent at his aunt’s house, in the same village with Courf and Marius. On that day, Ferre had brought to the park a book he was reading, a muggle book, an old-looking book. Enjolras had been there, too, guest of his own grandmother, while his parents were abroad. The Jungle Book. And how mesmerized they all had been in the adventures of that weird boy who had been raised by wolves, how they all had held their breath when their small hero’s life had been at stake, and how they had cried at the end. But that had been the beginning of a great friendship, and the discovery of his all-time favourite book. He had been talking about it for months after that day, had bought his own copy and read it to all his family, had discovered all its deep meanings and tried to draw all the characters, and failed in the process.

 

Expecto Patronum!” Courfeyrac exclaimed and a she-wolf came out of his wand, running fiercely through the room. Many of the students gasped in surprise.

“I’ve always loved your Patronus,” a voice said behind him, fondly. Ferre. He turned to smile at the Head Boy, who was standing next to Fauchelevent with a proud grin on his face.

One of the two Gryffindor girls who had tried to hit on Courf sighed audibly, and Ferre almost laughed, almost, because Courfeyrac was visibly embarrassed.

“Okay, guys, mine is particularly attractive, as I am, after all, so you just go on trying, all right?” the Hufflepuff instructed the students.

 

“What are you doing here? Are you skipping class?” he asked Ferre, getting close to him.

“No, I don’t have any class right now, Lamarque called it off. He’s not feeling well. And I’d heard you were playing professor for a day, how could I miss all this?” he gestured vaguely in the direction of the classroom and of the young students trying to cast their Patronuses.

“You are a part of a good three quarters of my happy memories, Ferre,” Courfeyrac blurted out, without thinking about it, but meaning it with all his heart. Then he wished he hadn’t said that, but the look on Ferre’s face, pure happiness, erased this feeling.

“Well, you’ve potentially just made my happiest memory right now,” he replied, just before Fauchelevent interrupted them with a stern look which, without doubts, meant ‘not the place or time’.

They laughed.

 

During another irrelevant afternoon the question was asked. “Are we planning on doing anything for Halloween?” Musichetta asked, her wonderful curls tied back by a silver headband, her quill lingering on the notes she was not making.

“Yeah, let’s do something,” Cosette chimed in, leaning in from a bit aside and gaining a dirty look from someone at another table in the library, immediately discouraged in their hostility by one of Enjolras’ glances.

“Yeah, girls. You know what,” Eponine threw herself in the conversation, abandoning her textbook next to Jehan, who was studying with her, “we will organize the Halloween night of the ABC this year. Trust your girls on this,” she decided, gaining looks of approval by the other two witches.

Combeferre turned to Courf with a malicious smile and whispered: “Why am I worried about what might come out of it?” he asked, raising his eyebrows. The Hufflepuff just stared at him. “They’re our friends, being worried is perfectly normal”. Grantaire just snorted at this remark and then went back to drawing whatever it was he was drawing right then.

Three days later, they found the girls confabulating on a corner, Chetta still in her Quidditch gear, ‘Ponine laughing out loud, and Cosette in tracksuit bottoms, like she had just headed out of her Common Room, where she had been chilling. “The timing is indispensable,” the Gryffindor was saying, fiddling with her blonde hair. Courf was planning on eavesdropping, but Jehan had to go on, walking on to their dormitory and he had to go along with him, so it was inevitable that the girls stopped talking and threw them a despising look.

“We didn’t listen to anything,” Jehan defended himself, laughing when Cosette went on to hug him.

“Why don’t I get anything, eh?” Courf cheerfully protested, opening his arms to receive a hug of his own.

“If you want to mix with all my sweat, be my guest,” Musichetta offered, shaking her green t-shirt, and Eponine just patted him on the shoulder.

“Go to someone else if you want to cuddle, you’ll find someone particularly well-disposed towards this purpose,” she added.

“But their tower is too far away…” Courfeyrac muttered, not even bothering to deny what the Slytherin girl had just stated. She lifted an eyebrow to an impossible angle and then she pushed both the Hufflepuffs away.

 

Then, suddenly, like all the days that led up to that date had been fast-forwarded, the 31st of October arrived. And no one, exception made for the girls, knew anything about what they would do that night.

The day passed in a haze of curiosity, everyone trying to trick one of the three witches in spilling some detail, but none of the guys managed to get anything out of all this trials, not even the boyfriends involved in the mission.

“Come on, Chetta,” Joly had tried to persuade the young Chaser to tell him something, you get a free cuddling session out of this!”.

“And you get a spoiled Halloween night, no way, you loser, and don’t you try either,” she addressed Bossuet, who was trying to lure his way to the girls’ secret with kisses and chocolates, “you will have to wait like any other person here, also because you would tell the guys. And I’m not wasting a fortnight’s worth of work for my idiot boyfriends”.

Marius had tried to persuade Cosette into revealing at least the most insignificant detail on the night, but all she’d said had been “You’ll see, Pontmercy. Now go and leave me alone to the last-minute detail defining”.

 

And that’s how they found themselves with nothing to do after the Halloween night’s feast.

“What are we going to do, now?” Bahorel was restless, walking up and down the hallways, Feuilly unable to calm him.

“Get some warm clothes, a torch and comfortable shoes suitable for walking on grass, we’ll meet again in ten minutes. Go!” Musichetta had ordered, laughing out loud while getting her own coat on, clad in a huge scarf and a purple hat.

Ten minutes and thirty seconds later, Bossuet arrived, exhausted, joining the other students, already covered in heavy coats and woolen accessories, each carrying something that could make light, boots on their feet.

"Okay, now," Éponine began, serious and determined, "it's necessary that we move quickly. We have to get out of the castle. Javert comes to check on the main entrance every twenty minutes, so we have plenty of time. But we have to avoid being seen by him also on the way to the entrance. We need to split up. In groups of three or four we go in that direction. We'll meet there in fifteen. First three?".

Courf was thrilled, he stepped up, quickly followed by a desperate Combeferre. Feuilly completed their group. "Please don't make me feel like I'm third-wheeling..." was the first thing the red haired wizard said, and Ferre almost choked with laughter.

They walked through the corridors quickly and never stopped until they reached the heavy door that was the main entrance.

Marius, Bahorel and Jehan joined them really soon. Then Joly, Bossuet, Grantaire and Enjolras arrived, the four of them arguing about something probably not serious at all as they stopped as soon as they saw the others. The girls arrived last and proceeded to look for Javert. The way was clear.

"Alohomora," Cosette whispered, and they all quietly stepped outside.

"Lumos," Chetta murmured once they were outside. "Why did you bother with torches is still a mystery to me... anyway. Now, we're going to.. well, party is a big word, go and have fun on the edge of the Forbidden Forest. We have also thought of a few games we could play, but we will see about it later..." she smirked and started walking.

 

The Forest was even more silent than usual and, as they were getting nearer, they felt compelled to lower their voices more and more. The three girls stopped just right where the trees started. "Okay, now, the first part of the games, which you will absolutely want to play," Éponine started to talk, a black hat on top of her colourful hair, "involves looking for a magical creature. I'm going to explain this better, you'll be divided in teams and you will have to go for half an hour inside the Forest and come back with photographic evidence of your spotting a magical creature. Everything clear?". They all murmured their approval, although some of them weren't so happy about all this, Joly in in the first place.

"The teams," Chetta went on, "are: Joly, Bossuet and me on the first one, Marius, Cosette and Jehan on the second, Bahorel, Feuilly and Éponine on the third, and Grantaire, Combeferre, Enjolras and Courfeyrac on the fourth. That's it. These are the teams. Half an hour from now. Go!".

 

"I don't think these teams are well balanced," Enjolras said once they were all walking in the woods, his wand illuminating their way, "not that I'm complaining about being with you guys, but what was the criterion behind this?".

Courfeyrac had that criterion very clear in his mind but he was still quite flustered for this decision to be actually able to say something aloud.

"Chemistry between the team members, Enj," Ferre patiently explained, a hint of alarm in his tone. The blonde stared at him in mild disbelief, before R could get to whisper something in his ear that, first of all, made him turn bright red, then made him look at his boyfriend in total incredulity.

“You’re joking. That can’t be true. Why did nobody tell me?” he was half laughing, half yelling in disappointment.

“Hush, now,” Courf cut short, whispering, “all the magical creatures will run away,” and then lit up his own wand and took the head of the group, going further in the forest.

If he could have seen the looks the other three exchanged, he would have totally understood the confusion his response had dropped them in.

For a few seconds, he was able to walk alone, concentrating on spotting something unusual. Not that this game was all this entertaining, but the alternative was to face the fact that the three witches had put him in that team in the belief of making a double-couple team. Well, they were wrong. He and Ferre were not a couple, and at this rate, they might never become one. He had no reason to even try to ruin such a beautiful and complex friendship. And, even if Ferre was actually willing to have a relationship with him, that would totally make things with Enjolras awkward. What if they fought? Whose part would Enjolras take by default? And if they broke up? Who would get to stay in their group of friends and who would be the exiled?

What the fuck, brain, Courf thought, it’s not even like we’re actually going to get together.

“Courf,” Combeferre’s voice called from somewhere behind, a bit rushed. “What the hell? Are you crazy? Slow down, we can’t bloody run for four miles to keep up with whatever’s gotten in your mind,” he took a deep breath, while the other two wizards got through the huge chestnut tree that separated them. “I’m sorry I snapped at you. You just made me worried, I didn’t want to snap at you, when it’s obvious you’re not alright. I shouldn’t have snapped, I’m sorry-”.

“Ferre,” the Hufflepuff stopped him, smiling despite himself, a hand on the Ravenclaw’s coat. “It’s alright, I  am alright. And I can be perfectly infuriating at times, you have the permission to snap at me at those times, okay?”. The other wizard nodded, visibly more relaxed.

When Courf moved his gaze from Ferre’s dark eyes he noticed Enjolras and Grantaire worriedly staring at them, in a typical “what have I just witnessed” pose. He smiled brightly at them, too, hoping that would be all the answers they needed.

 

“So, once I saw a centaur,” R started to say, after a few minutes, “and he was kind of hot, also”.

“How do you know the centaur was a he?” Enjolras replied, in his debate tone, and Grantaire threw him a wicked smile that mildly hid his fondness for the Gryffindor.

“Oh, for God’s sake, Enj,” Ferre laughed, “not your gender egalitarian speech again. I think we all agree on the subject, let the world live a little,” and they burst out laughing again, Enjolras included, with his condescending smile.

“Oh, hey,” Courfeyrac stopped them, “it’s a unicorn! Quick, guys, take out your phones,” he whispered, while convulsively patting his trousers and coat to find his own mobile.

“I got it,” Enjolras whispered, and tried to take a picture. The phone had just flashed when they heard a holler from a few feet away.

 

“Don’t you dare, team Sexual Tension,” Bahorel yelled, Feuilly laughing beside him, “we have spotted and photographed the unicorn before you four”.

“Who the fuck decided on the names?” Grantaire yelled back, grinning while he looked at the picture Enjolras had just taken, “Why didn’t I have a vote? I would have proposed Team Great Asses for us and Team Huge Assholes for you three”.

Eponine make herself heard in that precise moment, “We decided on the team names, that is Chetta, ‘Sette and I. And I happen to be in Team Great Puns. But Team Winners would have been equally appropriate”.

“What are the other names, then?” Enj enquired, while they approached the other team across the small clearing.

“Team Cheesy Flowers, for ‘Sette, Marius and Jehan, and Team Lucky Girl for Chetta, who commented on this name by saying ‘I’m the only one who considers herself lucky among the three of us and the only girl, there’s no other acceptable choice’ and didn’t listen to anything else,” the Slytherin explained, eyes darting towards Courfeyrac and then towards Combeferre, who were standing a bit distantly from one another. “I still think your team has the most appropriate name of all  four,” she added, before they all went back to where the game had begun.

 

Musichetta and her boyfriends arrived last, claiming they’d got lost, but no one believed them, because they knew better than to let Bossuet guide as they said they had done, and instead making out in the woods was totally a thing.

“Anyway,” the girl said, “the second part of the game is much more difficult. You will have to find one of your teammates that will hide in the forest. Now, choose who you’re losing and give him a ten minute advantage to go and get lost. You’ll look for them in a team. Who gets here first has won”.

“This game sucks, Chetta,” Cosette protested, and many others agreed with her. “But it’s what it is, we decide tonight, and the shitty game is on,” she continued, and all the boys groaned in desperation.

R decided to go and hide in the forest and Enjolras didn’t even try to stop him, a resigned look on his face.

 

Ten minutes later, the three wizards started walking inside the forest, again.

“Where do you think he’s hiding?” Ferre asked Enj, hopeful.

“The hell do I know,” the blond replied, angrily walking under the branches and leaves of the dark forest.

“It’s your boyfriend, not mine,” Combeferre rebutted, sighing, “we’re splitting up, then. Each one goes in a different direction and if we find him we cast yellow sparks and we meet again here in precisely seven minutes, okay?”.

The other two nodded and each of them went somewhere different.

Three minutes later, Courf bumped into someone, who obviously had to be Ferre.

“Which way do you come from?” the Ravenclaw asked, taking a moment to remove a fallen leaf from Courfeyrac’s coat with a delicate touch on his shoulder.

The Hufflepuff tried to remember and indicate the way, but couldn’t really remember where he’d come from, “I don’t know, forgive me, I was wandering without a goal,” he confessed, and Ferre shuddered.

“You’re coming with me, let’s go,” he took him by the hand and they headed in a direction from which Courf had maybe just come from.

 

In theory they had four minutes left before meeting up with Enjolras again, but they felt like half an hour to Courf, still walking hand in hand with Ferre, not having the heart to let go.

“So, are you able to go back to where we are meeting Enj?” he asked, all of a sudden, when they went round the same tree for what seemed like the fifteenth time.

“Of course I am, Courf. You would think you hold me in a slightly higher esteem,” he replied, sounding offended and joking at the same time.

“I hold you in the highest esteem,” Courfeyrac replied, serious all at once, taking his hand away from Ferre’s.

He then proceeded to walk more rapidly.

 

“This has to stop,” the other boy caught up with him and put a hand on his shoulder. “You’ve been walking away from me all evening. I want to know what’s up between us. Why are you trying to avoid me?”.

Courf had never wanted to run so hard in his life, and yet, even if Combeferre wasn’t actually holding him there, he felt like he couldn’t go away.

“I am not trying to avoid you... “ he weakly objected. “I don’t feel like being in company tonight,” he tried to sound persuasive, failing in the process.

“Even if this is the least Courf-like thing I have heard in my whole life I could still believe you, if only you hadn’t specifically been acting weird with me. We’re in a team and you only flinch if I say something or make a pun, which might be horrible as you want, but still, you react strangely tonight. What’s going on? I don’t want to pressure you into telling me something you don’t want to tell, Courf, but I need to know I haven’t done anything bad to you”. He sounded so earnest and so worried that Courfeyrac had the impulse to cry. What could he do to deserve this boy?

He took a deep breath. He had to explain. He needed to. And this was the perfect occasion, or at least that’s what he made himself believe.

“Ferre, I…” he started and then he stopped, and when he looked up from the ground, the boy was staring at him in expectation. He gulped and then he focused on what he was going to say. Now or never. “I am utterly in love with you, and I have been for quite a long time and have been acting an idiot in this regard, because I never addressed this. And I was not going to address this. And probably I’ll regret saying this, now, because this will absolutely make things weird. And-" he stopped, Ferre was looking at him with eyes so wide and lips so pressed, Courf thought for a moment the pressure in his head would make him explode.

"You're in love with me?" he repeated, incredulous, doubtful. "This is unbelievable".

"What? I don't think I'm following...".

"Courfeyrac, swear you will not make fun of me," Ferre exclaimed all of a sudden. The Hufflepuff swore and the other one kept talking. "I thought you liked me, yes, but being in love, wow, that's another level. And, before you make yourself dumb with questions, I believe I am in love with you, too," he said, blushing completely. Courfeyrac let out a breath he hadn't realised he was holding.

Then he understood everything he had heard: "Wait. Why didn't you say anything?".

"Why didn't you? You know what I'm like. I'd never make the first move and when I realised, years ago that I liked you a little bit differently from the others, I thought "well, it's Courf he would make the first move", but then I saw you liked me too but didn't make any move either and... what the hell? What the hell was I supposed to do?" he blurted out and the Hufflepuff was left staring, incapable of doing anything.

"The first move," he then replied, "you were supposed to make the first move," Ferre let out a relaxed laughter, tension going away from his shoulders.

"Too late, now, I'll make it," Courfeyrac finished and leaned in to kiss the other wizard, the tall, beautiful, kind, clever, young man he had fallen in love with.

And he felt so lucky when Ferre’s lips opened under his and he cupped the shorter boy's face in his soft, and yet strong, hands. Courf was on his toes and he was hanging to Ferre’s coat, and all that was so awesome that his life could as well end then and he'd die a happy man.

"I found Granta-" Enjolras appeared, his hair fuzzy from humidity. "Never mind, I will go back looking for him. 'Taire get lost again, will you?".

Ferre pulled back, laughing.

"We can still win, let's get going," he said and took Courf's hand to guide him outside the woods.

They ended up being second, Bahorel, 'Ponine and Feuilly having beaten them again.

"I petition a change of our name," Courfeyrac said, sitting down next to Bahorel.

"To what?" Eponine enquired.

He looked at Ferre before answering, he smiled. "Team Oblivious would fit the four of us better".

 

FIN