In March the snow melts, but in return the wind picks up as grey clouds swiftly move through the sky.
The second Saturday of the month a Quidditch game between Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff is scheduled. Like every match day, the whole school leaves for the Quidditch grounds to cheer on their respective teams. Because Gryffindor isn't playing this time, Mino has left his Roaring Lion mascot (and matching game nerves) at home and sees it as a fun day out.
They sit with Taehyun and Seungyoon in the stands. In a gesture of unexpected but welcome generosity, Seungyoon has brought sweet popcorn for all of them.
“Thanks, I was starving,” Mino says as he gladly accepts the snack.
“Thought I saw you gorge on bacon and eggs this morning,” Taehyun points out.
“I have fast metabolism,” Mino mutters as he crosses his arms. Again: freaking Slytherins.
He's spared the effort of more thoughts as a whistle resounds in the stadium and fourteen brooms promptly lift from the ground. As if on cue, the stadium erupts in loud cheers and whistles, mostly from the yellow and blue halves of the stadium.
Initially Hufflepuff is doing well, as their Chasers score several points. The yellow-coloured supporters break out in song. This is one of Mino's favourite parts about Quidditch, or sports in general: the creative songs the fans come up with and the way they cheer on their players. He's a bit disappointed he can't join in today as Gryffindor isn't playing.
After the scoreboard has changed several times in favour of Hufflepuff, the Chasers of Ravenclaw display some good teamwork and manage to launch the Quaffle through the goal posts. Mino cheers.
“You seem to be on the hand of Ravenclaw today,”Seungyoon remarks.
Mino shrugs, applauding. “I like Ravenclaw.”
He feels six pairs of eyebrows being raised next to him. “Since when?” Taehyun laughs.
“He's been having secret meetings lately,” Seunghoon points out, obviously enjoying this turn of events. “Maybe she's from Ravenclaw?”
Mino feels himself faltering. “What – well, so what if I'm meeting with Ravenclaws?” he says somewhat defensively. “It's not like it isn't allowed.”
“Obviously not, since we're also hanging with Slytherins,” Seunghoon says under his breath, but loud enough for Taehyun to elbow him in the ribs.
Seunghoon winces and is about to give him his just returns when Seungyoon demands them to be quiet. “Can't I just enjoy the match, please?” he sighs wearily, sounding like a resigned babysitter.
“You don't even like sports,” Seunghoon says sourly but acquiesces anyway, as they all fall quiet to watch the game.
Mino's eyes soon leave the field, however, to scan the blue section on the other side of the stadium. The atmosphere has become livelier as the Ravenclaws, too, have started their fan chants. Among them is surely Jinwoo, his bronze-and-blue scarf wrapped around his neck, enthusiastically joining in with the songs. Mino feels himself smile at the thought.
His friends are probably right. He doesn't particularly like the House of Ravenclaw – he just happens to really, really like one of their students.
Towards the end of the month they're allowed a visit to Hogsmeade. Mino has been excited about it for weeks, making meticulous plans with Seunghoon about what candies and prank articles to buy, as well as the best strategy to sneak into the Hog's Head (every visit they chicken out at the last second, but never mind that).
On the back of his mind, however, Mino has been entertaining thoughts of walking around Hogsmeade with Jinwoo. He spends some time fretting about which of his friends to ask, until he reaches the simple solution that he can go with both at the same time.
When he proposes this to Seunghoon during their History of Magic class, his friend whispers with a rather feline grin, “Aah, am I finally going to meet your mysterious Ravenclaw acquaintance?”
“Just be nice to him,” Mino whispers back, feeling the urge to warn him beforehand.
“When am I ever not nice?” Seunghoon mouths, and Mino can think of a dozen instances but decides against bringing them up. He's had enough scoldings from teachers this year, after all, and with the OWLs coming up he needs to get on their good side.
“Who can tell me when the third Goblin convention took place?” Professor Choi Seunghyun asks just then, as if reading his mind, and a dozen fingers shoot into the air. History of Magic used to be a decidedly unpopular subject until Professor Choi took over last year. Now all the girls (and some guys) fight for the seats up front so they can stare at their Professor from an unblocked viewpoint.
Even Professor Choi's dashing looks can't make Goblin conventions any less boring, though, and Mino's thoughts soon drift back to Jinwoo. He can't wait to ask him to go with them. He's sure Jinwoo will be glad to – unless he already has got other plans, of course. Jinwoo isn't unpopular. In fact, he seems to have a lot of friends, being friendly and handsome to boot. Mino frowns as worry settles in the pit of his stomach.
Seunghoon shoves a note on his desk. STOP THINKING ABOUT YOUR RAVENCLAW GUY it reads in capital letters, and Mino feels his cheeks redden at the implication.
In the end Mino needn't have worried. Because when he asks Jinwoo that same day, his friend immediately and happily agrees, saying he looks forward to it.
And so next Saturday the three of them walk towards the village together. The weather requires they still wear scarfs, but the promise of spring is in the air, with purple and white crocuses popping up alongside the road. Their leaves are a bright green that hasn't been seen since summer. Flocks of birds fly through the overcast sky.
And contrary to another worry of his, it also turns out that Jinwoo and Seunghoon get on very well – maybe a little too well, as Jinwoo keeps laughing at Seunghoon's every silly comment. Mino thinks his jokes are funny too, but it's just that, well. Jinwoo was his friend first.
Zonko's Joke Shop is the first stop on the way. Jinwoo looks at everything with wide-eyed wonder once inside, like a kid in a toy store. Mino is probably no better, though, and spends what feels like half his fortune on items. With their bags twice as full as they were before, they leave an hour later again for the main street.
“I vote for drinks,” Mino says enthusiastically as he points at the Three Broomsticks.
The inn is full and cosy when they enter, with the pleasant smell of butter beer in the air. They find a table near the window. Because of the heat, the glass has become blurred and Jinwoo wipes it to have a look outside. Mino smiles at the gesture. Somehow Jinwoo manages to make even simple acts look very endearing.
There are a lot of students about they know, some of whom pop by to say hi. Soon Seunghoon is in conversation with two younger girls from Gryffindor, his back turned towards them, leaving Mino and Jinwoo to tend to themselves.
“I like your friend,” Jinwoo remarks, sipping from his butter beer. Their knees are touching underneath the table.
“That's good, I was a little worried at first,” Mino admits. And then adds because he can't help himself: “But you like me more, right?”
Jinwoo laughs, his shoulders shaking. “Yes, I like you more,” Jinwoo finally says, patting his hand. His skin is warm to the touch.
“At least your hands aren't cold now,” Mino remarks, voicing the first thing that comes to his mind.
“No need for gloves here,” Jinwoo smiles.
Mino almost wants to follow up with something cheesy like I can be your glove but catches himself in time. Jinwoo often makes him think things like that.
He's starting to think he knows what it means.
In April the sun is finally given center stage. Rays of sunlight are filtered by gentle showers, leaving a trail of flowers in its wake. Lessons of Herbology and Care for Magical Creatures suddenly become the students' most preferred classes, as they enjoy the soft spring breeze after many months of dreariness.
The happy seasonal mood is ruined only by their their professors, who daily remind them of the fact that their OWL exams are coming up. Mino, guilty of slacking off the previous months, starts spending a lot of time in the library as a result. It would mean he'd see Jinwoo less, weren't it for his bright suggestion that they study together. It works well, except for the times where Mino finds himself staring at Jinwoo's complexion. His eyelashes appear to be extra long as he pores over yet another book, expression intent.
In-between study sessions they go on daily walks around the school grounds, afraid to die from suffocation if they spend too many hours in the dusty library (or Mino is, in any case).
“I'm starting to wonder if I shouldn't have been sorted in Ravenclaw,” Mino confesses one Saturday afternoon.
Their shoulders bump as they walk along the lake. It feels natural. It always has.
“Why, do you want to study even more?” Jinwoo asks with a teasing lilt.
“No, it's just, it feels so comfortable with you. Makes you wonder.”
Jinwoo takes his hand for a few seconds, their fingers loosely intertwining. Yet another gesture that, somewhere along the line, has become natural for them.
“It shows you can be great friends even if you're from different Houses,” Jinwoo concludes, squeezing his hand for emphasis.
Mino nods. That, he already knew.
They come to a halt at a willow near the water's edge, a favourite spot of theirs to rest for a while. Without saying anything they both sit down. The grass is littered with daisies, the yellow and white standing out pleasantly against the green backdrop. Mino absentmindedly twirls one between his fingers.
“You know, after the exams we can go home soon,” Mino speaks up. “I thought I'd really look forward to that, and I do, but... I suddenly realised it means we won't see each other the whole summer.”
“We can write letters?” Jinwoo suggests.
“They'll take weeks to arrive,” Mino objects. And then adds to lighten the mood a bit: “The first one will finally be delivered once you're back at school.”
“Yah, our delivery service isn't that bad,” Jinwoo laughs and punches his arm playfully. Mino grins.
“I'll miss you though,” Mino says, growing serious again. “I'll really do.”
Previous summers he'd missed his friends too, but it wasn't like this. This meaning wanting to see Jinwoo every day and thinking about him when he wasn't there; of wanting to make him laugh and feeling his chest swell in pride when he succeeded in that. This meaning feeling his heart flutter when Jinwoo smiled at him or when their hands accidentally touched, and dreading the prospect of not having that for months.
This meaning falling in love with your handsome, friendly, deer-eyed Ravenclaw friend.
Jinwoo shuffles closer and leans against him. He comfortably rests his head on his shoulder.
“You know, I really like you,” Mino says. His chest feels full. Somehow he can't seem to stop the words for pouring out.
“I like you, too.”
Mino looks over to Jinwoo. His eyes are closed.
“I mean, I really like you.”
Jinwoo's eyes open at his words. They stare at each other from a close proximity.
“I really like you, too,” Jinwoo answers, easily but with emphasis. He lifts his head so they're on the same height. Once more Mino finds himself drinking in all the details on Jinwoo's face, like it's the first time he's seen it (like he hasn't been staring at it in the library, hallway, courtyard and every other place in and around the castle).
It feels like they look at each other for minutes rather than seconds. Mino's heart beats loudly in his chest, like a beat to the scattered birdsong around them. He wonders if Jinwoo can hear it.
“I'm kind of nervous,” Mino confesses in a whisper.
“That's okay,” Jinwoo says, kind by default. He leans in a bit more, eyes opened wide. Mino's belly flutters.
Only a few inches separate them now. I should do it Mino thinks. I should just do it.
When the thought crosses his mind for the tenth time, Jinwoo leans in and effectively shuts down all of his thoughts. They stay like that for a while. Mino's mind is blank, except for the sensation of Jinwoo's lips against his and the fact that he really, really likes that.
Jinwoo leans back after a few seconds. They stare at each other. Both are smiling.
“You beat me to it,” Mino says breathlessly.
“Aren't you supposed to be the Gryffindor here?” Jinwoo teases.
And as though to defend his Gryffindor honour (although really, he doesn't need much incentive) Mino leans in again. He does it carefully, like he wants to treasure the moment. Soon Jinwoo presses against him insistingly though, and Mino gives in. Jinwoo feels solid and warm against him – his arm on his waist, his scent all around him, the taste of him on his lips.
That same afternoon Mino informs everyone who wants to listen (and those who don't want to listen because screw them) about this new development. He may not use social media like his Muggle friends at home, but if he did, he could change his status to 'in a relationship with Kim Jinwoo' and just the thought of that makes him giddy.
When he tells Seunghoon (or “cornering me in the dormitory and yelling excitedly at me” as Seunghoon describes it) his best friend reacts with “finally,” followed by a fist-bump.
To celebrate they open every bag with sweets they own and indulge in them on their four-poster beds. Soon Mino's red covers are littered with candy wrappers and the occasional chocolate smear, but Mino can't care less. He doesn't really care about anything right now except Jinwoo, his friends and these Chocolate Frogs.
“You do know you're dating way above your level,” Seunghoon comments after a while.
“You're supposed to be my friend,” Mino complains, mouth full of chocolate, “and anyway, what's that supposed to mean?”
“Just that Jinwoo is really handsome.”
“I know he is,” Mino says and this time it is his turn to grin.
In May their OWLs start and Mino is forced to focus on school matters for a while. The Great Hall is filled with rows upon rows of desks and chairs. The magical ceiling above them displays a clear blue sky, as though to taunt the students with the beautiful weather they're missing out on.
This Wednesday morning it's a theory exam for Defense Against The Dark Arts. Mino's hoping for some questions about Ghouls. On the other side of the hall Professor Kwon struts around while monitoring the students, his bubblegum pink hair standing out even from a distance. Professor Park smiles at Mino as she walks past his aisle. Mino smiles back, feeling encouraged, before quickly turning to the parchment in front of him.
Despite the stress and the cramming in the weeks prior to it, the actual exam goes surprisingly well. He doesn't know all of the answers, but that was to be expected. The point is that he knows enough. When the fifth-years leave the Great Hall two hours later, Mino and his friends are in a great mood.
“I'm sure I can get an Outstanding for that,” Seunghoon whistles.
“Don't brag about things you can't make true,” Mino teases. He's confident he can at least get an Acceptable, though. All his extra homework for this one paid off.
They don't have any exams left that day, and so Seunghoon is off towards the lake. Mino heads for the courtyard instead, where he's agreed to meet up with Jinwoo. It's nice to catch some fresh air after sitting all morning, and Mino closes his eyes momentarily to enjoy the warm sunlight. Two doves coo in the background. It's the time of year where all the birds start making nests.
When he opens his eyes again, he sees Jinwoo approaching. His frame seems a little slumped. They hug by way of greeting and when Mino lets go of Jinwoo and sees and him from up close, he detects dark circles underneath his eyes. They stand out in the bright sunlight.
“I haven't been sleeping very well,” Jinwoo confesses when Mino questions him about it. “I kept thinking of all these things I've forgotten, and then look them up in the middle of the night.”
“Yah, it's important to study, but it's also important to rest.”
“I have to do well,” Jinwoo insists, stubbornly. The doves in the background continue to make cooing sounds. It's at odds with the frown on his boyfriend's face.
“You will do well.” He takes Jinwoo's hands in his, instinctively wanting to comfort him. Seeing Jinwoo like this makes something in his chest ache, a feeling he hasn't had since he was younger and his sister would get home hurt sometimes. It's a protective feeling, Mino realises. He wants to tell Jinwoo it's all going to be all right, even though maybe it won't.
The physical contact appears to do a better job than his words, as Jinwoo finally seems to actually look at it him.
“I don't know anyone who studies harder than you do,” Mino says. “Seriously, if even you were to fail, what is to become of me or Seunghoon?”
“Is that supposed to be your peptalk?” Jinwoo complains, and Mino playfully shoves his shoulder.
“Yah, I wasn't done. I know you'll do well on your exams. And you know how I know that?”
Jinwoo looks at him silently.
“Because the Kim Jinwoo I know, can do anything he puts his mind to.” His voice slightly tremors because of the sincerity behind his words. “And I'm not just saying that because I love you, all right? I have faith in you; everyone around you has. You should, too.”
Jinwoo takes a deep breath. “Okay,” he says then. He squeezes Mino's hands.
“Come here,” Mino says then, spreading his arms. Jinwoo complies with a smile, leaning into his embrace. He feels small and comfortable. Mino rests his head on Jinwoo's shoulder, holding him tightly. He doesn't ever want to let go.
Two weeks later their exams finally come to an end. The results will only arrive once they're home, so now there's nothing left to do but enjoy their last few weeks at Hogwarts. Mino doesn't mind in the slightest.
While students from other years attend their final classes, Mino and his fellow-years enjoy the beautiful weather outside. On one of those picture-perfect days, Mino sits on the grass with his friends. Jinwoo is lying next to him, dozing off. Every once in a while he peeks at his boyfriend's sleeping face, cuter than ever. Mino is torn between his playful instinct to prod him awake, and his protective to keep him asleep, and the latter always wins. (Yes, he's going soft, what of it).
“He's really handsome,” Seungyoon observes while leaning back on his arms.
“Don't sound so jealous,” Taehyun scoffs, and Seungyoon throws a twig at him. Of course Taehyun gracefully dodges, and it falls flat by his side.
“I'm not going to share,” Mino announces, and the rest of his friends laugh.
“Going to share what?” Jinwoo mumbles, blissfully oblivious, as he opens one eye.
Mino feels his whole chest go fond. “Never mind,” Mino says, tousling his hair. He kind of wants to kiss Jinwoo senseless right now, but he restrains himself for the sake of his friends' well-being. Taehyun already has loudly requested if they could please keep it PG when they were around.
“He's being unfairly greedy,” Seungyoon mock-complains, and then laughs. “No, he's being a good boyfriend. Praising you once again.”
Jinwoo blushes a little as he smiles, shyly but happily. Mino shrugs at his friend if to say: “well, wouldn't you?”
“I can't believe the year's almost over,” Taehyun announces with a sigh, clearly having had his fill of the lovey-doveyness.
“Yeah, it went by really fast,” Seungyoon agrees. “Next year we'll be sixth-years...”
“Sounds awesome,” Mino says. He reaches for Jinwoo's hand and squeezes it. They share a look, and Mino doesn't need words to know that they're thinking the same thing: next year will be awesome because they'll be side by side.
The day before the Hogwarts Express leaves, Mino brings Jinwoo towards their class room. It's still empty.
“I remember you decorated it in Christmas style,” Mino says with a smile.
“That was pretty good, right?” Jinwoo says.
“Yeah, you're very talented,” Mino agrees and snakes an arm around Jinwoo's waist to pull him close. He's still happy he can do stuff like this now; he doesn't think he'll ever get tired of it.
“Want me to do it again?” Jinwoo asks with a cheeky smile.
“Christmas decorations in June? Yah, you're crazy,” Mino laughs and pokes him in the side. Jinwoo laughs, too.
“I just want to know one thing,” Mino suddenly says, intertwining their fingers.
“Hmm?” Jinwoo strokes the back of his hand with his thumb. The familiar gesture sparks a pleasant, comfortable warmth in Mino.
“When I kept running into you everywhere... you really were lost, weren't you?”
Jinwoo looks like he isn't going to say anything at first, but then he finally admits: “Okay, yes, I was. It's a big castle!”
Mino laughs, his whole chest feeling fond. “I'm glad you kept getting lost,” he says, pulling Jinwoo even closer, “it means I could keep finding you.”
It's cheesy, but there's no-one around to judge. And with that thought in mind, Mino leans in once more – knowing just the way to make a perfect year even better.
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed! ♡