I got into HP fic after kestrelsan made me read some M/O. And now here I am. Marcus, baby, I said I'd take care of you.
What's a boy in love supposed to do?
Thanks to kestrelsan for beta and encouragement
About 6800 words. You can read at my website or right here.
Whenever Marcus saw Oliver, he itched. Or something like an itch. Marcus couldn't work it out. There was an odd feeling under his skin, deep in his chest, in the palms of his hands. He wasn't sure what to do about it.
At first he wondered if he wanted to hit Oliver. But Marcus knew exactly how he felt when he wanted to hit someone and this wasn't it. This was ... itchy. And it worried him.
Marcus thought about this a lot. When he had a lesson with Oliver, for instance. He'd look at Oliver, at his fingers around his quill, at his knee bouncing restlessly under the desk, and the tingling would start up in Marcus's palms and in the pit of his stomach.
Thinking never got Marcus anywhere, though. So one day, when Oliver walked past him in the corridor, Marcus put his itchy hands on Oliver's shoulders and pushed him up against the stone wall.
But Marcus didn't know what to do next, since he wasn't going to hit Oliver. He just stood there and watched Oliver stare at him. The uneasy feeling was stronger and now there was a rush of heat, like he'd eaten a very hot curry.
"What are you playing at?" Oliver said after a minute and wrenched himself away. Marcus didn't answer, he just stood there while Oliver hurried off. He'd almost had it there, almost sussed it. And he could still feel Oliver's shoulders under his hands.
The next day, he met Oliver at the entrance to the Great Hall. Marcus reached out and grabbed Oliver's wrist. When his hand touched Oliver's skin, a jolt went all through him. He could feel Oliver's pulse beating under his fingers. He felt happy standing there with Oliver.
"What do you want, Flint?" Oliver said and pulled free. Marcus didn't know what to say. Before he could think of something, Oliver walked away.
Marcus stared after him. He didn't feel so happy any more. He sat down to eat. There were chops and jacket potatoes and bread pudding. The hall was noisy and Marcus felt slightly confused.
While he was helping himself to his third chop, two girls next to him started talking, whispering really, but Marcus could hear them.
"Every time I see Adrian, I get all flustered," one said. "I keep thinking about going up and taking his hand or touching his hair."
"Oooooh," said the other one. "You do have it bad, don't you?"
"Yesterday he passed me a plate and our fingers touched," the first one said. "I almost dropped the plate. I wish he'd notice me." She sighed. "I'm in love with Adrian and he doesn't even know I exist."
Marcus sat up straight and stopped with his fork halfway to his mouth. What the girl said about Adrian -- that was just like him and Oliver. That was it! It was so simple. He was in love with Oliver.
But then Marcus thought that maybe it wasn't so simple after all. He took a bite and tried to work it out while he chewed. For one thing, it seemed odd it wasn't a girl he was in love with. And Oliver was in Gryffindor. But mostly, Marcus didn't know what he was meant to do next.
He tried to listen to the girls some more, but they had started talking about lipstick and Marcus thought that wasn't really something he needed to know about.
The most obvious thing to do was to tell Oliver. Marcus looked for him after dinner, but couldn't find him. So the next day, he cornered Oliver at the broom shed, while the Gryffindor Quidditch team were getting ready for practice.
Marcus thought Oliver didn't look too happy to see him. But Marcus wasn't used to letting things like that stand in his way.
"What is it now, Flint?" Oliver said.
"I'm in love with you," said Marcus.
Oliver's face went blotchy and red. The Gryffindors goggled and some of them laughed. Marcus kept looking at Oliver, but Oliver didn't say anything.
"So," said Marcus. "I just wanted to tell you."
"Come on," Oliver said to his teammates, and led them off, away from Marcus. The Gryffindors kept looking back at Marcus and smirking. Marcus glared at them. Oliver didn't look back, though.
That didn't go too badly, Marcus thought. But what next?
That night Marcus lay awake in the dark, which he supposed was because of being in love. He thought about Oliver. He thought about how Oliver looked when he was flying. He thought about sitting next to Oliver and maybe laying his arm over Oliver's shoulders. Then kissing Oliver and putting his hands inside Oliver's robes.
This made Marcus very aroused, which was something he felt perfectly equipped to deal with, and so he dealt with it. But it was love that made him think about Oliver while he did.
In the morning, Marcus waited outside the Great Hall before breakfast. When he spotted Oliver, he walked over to him. Oliver seemed to be trying to get away, but Marcus caught him by the arm so he couldn't. "Good morning," Marcus said. It was nice to hold Oliver's arm.
Oliver jerked his arm but Marcus had it in a tight grip. "Flint!" Oliver said. "Get off!"
"Did you sleep well?" Marcus asked and he didn't let go. Oliver would surely leave if he did and then how could they talk?
"Would you let go?" Oliver pulled again.
"It looks like rain," Marcus said, glancing up inside the hall.
Oliver put one hand on Marcus's chest and with a great heave, freed himself. He glared at Marcus and stalked off to the Gryffindor table.
Marcus smiled. He touched his chest where Oliver's hand had been. Over his heart. Or close to it, anyhow. Then he sat down and ate breakfast: scrambled eggs and toast and bacon.
In the corridors, a Hufflepuff boy called Marcus a shirtlifter. Marcus knocked him down. In Charms, after he'd bumped into a Ravenclaw girl, she hissed that he should "look out, you dirty great poof." So he had to take her essay and throw it into the fire.
When he was on his way to Quidditch practice, a Gryffindor came up to him and made a remark about Marcus's fondness for riding broomsticks. Marcus frowned. Of course he liked flying. The Gryffindor looked expectant, then sighed. "I mean: you're gay."
While Marcus was bending the Gryffindor's arm up behind his back and listening to him scream, he thought about it. He supposed he was gay, actually, since he was in love with Oliver. "Thanks," he said to the Gryffindor and bent his arm a little more.
Marcus tried to catch Oliver so they could spend some time together, but it was even harder than before. Oliver was hardly around and when he was, he had a pack of Gryffindors clustered round him. Marcus thought he could get through them, but it might be hard to talk to Oliver at the same time.
It occurred to Marcus that this would be a lot easier if Oliver were in love with him too. But he didn't know how to go about making that happen. He figured it might be time to ask for some advice.
He went back to the Slytherin common room. People glanced up at him when he came in, then looked away quickly. But that always happened, so Marcus didn't need to hit anyone.
Adrian was sitting by the fire with a book in his lap, but his eyes were closed. Marcus poked him in the ribs. "Pucey, wake up. I want to talk to you."
Adrian scowled, but he opened his eyes and yawned. "What is it?"
Marcus sat down. "I need advice."
"Finally." Adrian sat up straight. "I knew you'd come around. All right, our game's all wrong, you need to send the Beaters round much earlier when we do the Gibble formation--ow!" He broke off as Marcus hit him on the shoulder.
"Not Quidditch. It's just..." Marcus leaned in closer and spoke in a low voice. "I'm in love."
"I know, Flint. Everyone knows." Adrian's mouth twitched, but he didn't actually laugh, so Marcus didn't have to take notice. Besides, there was no one else he could ask about this.
"But I don't know how to make him love me back. Tell me what to do."
"You do realise that he might not like, well, boys at all. Lots of people don't. Me, for instance."
That hadn't really crossed Marcus's mind. "Oh. Hmm."
"Buck up, Flint," Adrian said and got that twitchy smile again. "I've heard a thing or two about our Wood. Or your Wood, I should say. Not mine."
"Just give me your advice," Marcus said. He had to try, regardless.
Adrian frowned. "Well, last summer when we were on holiday in Ibiza, my sister had this boyfriend there. He used to do all sorts to get her to notice him."
"Like what?" said Marcus and began to feel quite hopeful.
"He sent her flowers, and bought her chocolates and plush animals." Adrian looked thoughtful. "He used to stand around on the beach posing for her. And he wrote her love letters and poetry. Or said he wrote the poetry, likely he just copied it."
"Thanks," Marcus said and stood up. He had to go plan out his attack. Like Quidditch strategies.
"If any of that works, let me know," Adrian said. "I can't seem to get any girl to take notice of me."
Marcus went back to the dormitory. He stretched out on his bed and made about half a plan before he fell asleep.
When Marcus woke up, he couldn't even remember the half a plan. So he had to start again. The easiest would be flowers. He thought he'd seen some growing on the grounds. He went outside before breakfast and looked all around the castle but all he could find were some feathery weed things.
So he went to Greenhouse 5 and picked a batch of Everblooming Pinks from a pot marked Do Not Touch. He wrapped some string around them to keep them in a bunch and put a little label on them: Love from Marcus. The flowers smelled very sweet, like his Aunt Fidget's perfume.
Marcus thought about taking them to Oliver himself. That way, he'd get to talk to Oliver. But he thought that it might just make Oliver angry with him, so instead he had his owl deliver them during breakfast. Marcus was eating a large apple pastry when the owl dropped the flowers into Oliver's lap.
Oliver's face went all blotchy again and everyone around him laughed. Oliver looked over at Marcus and Marcus smiled and waved at him. Oliver left the hall. The Gryffindors made sure he didn't forget his flowers.
Marcus felt good. Part one of the plan had worked. He thought about Oliver all morning, while his partner made their Insect Repelling potion.
At lunch, Marcus looked over at the Gryffindor table, but he couldn't see Oliver anywhere. Marcus waited the whole hour and ate ham sandwiches and salad and blackberry pie. But Oliver never showed up.
On his way out of the Hall, Marcus grabbed a Gryffindor by the collar of his robes. "Where's Oliver?"
The Gryffindor smirked. "In the hospital wing, with a nasty rash. From the poisonous flowers you sent him, you sad bastard."
Marcus roughed the Gryffindor up, but it was half-hearted. He felt terrible. He hoped Oliver knew that Marcus hadn't meant to poison him. Later on, he went up to the hospital wing to visit Oliver, but the whole Gryffindor Quidditch team was clustered around his bed and he knew that if there was a fight right there, he'd be banned from visiting Oliver.
Instead, he sent a note: Sorry, Marcus.
Then he went to do his detention for taking the flowers. After five hours spent weeding every plant in two greenhouses, he was tired, sore, and dirty. But it was worth it, except for the poisonous part.
Oliver was in hospital for two days. Marcus felt a bit lost. But he decided on the next part of his plan. That weekend, he went into Hogsmeade and spent an hour in Honeydukes studying the various sweets on offer.
There was so much to choose from and he didn't know what Oliver would like. The shop was full and he ended up next to the same girls from breakfast the other day. One was holding a cellophane package of little hearts in all colours: pink, blue, yellow, green, purple.
"It's the last bag," she said. "See, there are little messages printed on the hearts. You can change the name on them."
"Oh," said the other girl. "I could put Adrian's name on them."
"And then you could put some in his pocket."
"On his plate at dinner."
"In his cauldron."
"On his pillow."
They both blushed and giggled. Marcus thought that they had some very good ideas. He was grateful to them for helping him out a second time.
"Thanks," he said and took the package out of the girl's hands.
"Hey," they yelled, but Marcus pushed past them and through the crowd. He was about to slip the hearts into his pocket, but then he remembered the Anti-Stealing charms and paid for them instead.
After drinking a few butterbeers and trying (and failing) to get a glass of firewhiskey, Marcus went back to Hogwarts. He took the bag of candy hearts into his dormitory and squinted at the instructions on the bag. Then he pulled out his wand, tapped the cellophane three times, and whispered Oliver's name into the mouth of the bag.
There was a small cloud of candy dust that made Marcus cough and blink. When it had settled, all the hearts had messages on them:
Oliver, U R Sweet
Be Mine, Oliver
Sweets to the Sweet, Oliver
Oliver Is Cute
Marcus picked up an "Oliver Is Cute" heart. It announced its message in a squeaky voice. Marcus ate it. It was sweet and chalky and it left a faint tangy aftertaste in his mouth. He was about to eat another one when he remembered they were supposed to be a gift. He decided to give them to Oliver on Monday, when they had Charms together.
Marcus spent the rest of the day with Adrian, arguing about Quidditch strategy. Adrian had a full set of models and they set up a miniature pitch in the corner of the common room. They each directed one team and in the end, Marcus was forced to admit Adrian had some good ideas. Just a few.
On Monday, Marcus loitered in the corridor until Oliver had gone into the Charms classroom. Then Marcus went in and sat down right behind him. Some students snickered until Marcus looked their way. Then they all looked straight ahead.
But it had already made Oliver take notice. He turned around and frowned at Marcus. "No, not you!" he said.
"Yes," Marcus said. "Me." And he smiled at Oliver. Talking with Oliver gave Marcus that itchy love feeling again, only stronger than before. Marcus noticed that Oliver had a mole on his cheek, his left cheek, back near his ear. Marcus wanted to touch it.
But instead he tried to make conversation. "Did you get your essay written?" Marcus asked. "I've not got mine yet." Marcus's Charms essays were usually written by a Hufflepuff boy, Glenn somebody. Marcus had forgotten to tell him to start this one.
Oliver looked around the room, then at the other students. "Will somebody change seats with me?"
Some students laughed, some looked nervously at Marcus, but none would switch. Professor Flitwick came in and started the lesson. Oliver looked at the blackboard. Marcus looked at Oliver.
The back of Oliver's neck was nice. His hair was cut short and there was another mole just above the collar of his robes. His shoulders were hunched up a little. Marcus thought about putting his fingers just inside Oliver's collar. He wondered what the skin there would feel like. He touched his own neck. It was pretty soft, and smooth.
Marcus almost did touch Oliver's neck, but then he thought that maybe it wasn't exactly a good idea to do that right in the middle of a lesson. People would laugh some more and then he'd have to deal with them afterwards and that would take time and Oliver would leave.
So, Marcus just looked without touching. The mole was about the size of a newt eye and was the colour of milk chocolate. Marcus thought about licking it. It wouldn't taste like chocolate. It would taste like Oliver.
But Marcus didn't know what Oliver tasted like. He hoped it wouldn't be too long before he found out.
The lesson seemed like it was going on forever and his legs were cramping up, like they did whenever he had to sit for any length of time. Marcus shifted in his desk and there was a crackling sound.
He'd forgotten all about the little hearts! Staring at the back of Oliver's neck had driven them out of his mind. Marcus put his hand into his pocket. The cellophane crackled again. Now he just had to get the bag into Oliver's pocket instead.
Marcus studied the situation. Oliver was leaning forward with his arms on the desk in front of him. The pocket in his robes gaped open. Marcus could see some parchment in there, and a bit of bat-wing. There was room for the bag of sweets, he judged.
Slowly, Marcus eased the bag out of his pocket. The crinkling noise seemed very loud but so far Professor Flitwick wasn't looking over at him. Marcus bent low and stretched out his arm. He was just about to push the bag inside Oliver's pocket when Oliver slouched down in his seat. Suddenly, the pocket was further away, and now it was closed.
Marcus snarled silently. He had to rethink. First he had to get the pocket open so he could slide the bag in. He pulled out his wand and reached out. There were a few murmurs from around him -- probably thought he was casting a spell on Oliver -- but Marcus ignored them. He got the tip of his wand into Oliver's pocket and twitched it open.
Then he took the bag. It was a longer stretch than before and Marcus had to almost crawl into the aisle to bend enough, but he made the distance and carefully, carefully eased the bag into Oliver's pocket. It was a little noisy, so to cover, Marcus coughed sharply.
Oliver jumped. The bag fell onto the floor. The cellophane split. The hearts rolled all over the room, shrilling out: "Oliver is cute", "Be mine, Oliver", "Say yes, Oliver" over and over.
The back of Oliver's neck went all red and Marcus supposed his face looked like that too. Everyone began to laugh and no amount of looks from Marcus could stop them this time. Some students scooped up the hearts to look at them.
Professor Flitwick, though, wasn't laughing. He said something, but the students's laughter and the hearts's squeaking drowned him out. He raised his wand: "Silete!" And there was quiet, except for a lone yellow heart, which kept piping "Oliver is hot stuff." Flitwick climbed down from his lectern and ground the heart to powder under his foot.
Then he advanced on Oliver. "Would you care to explain this, Mr Wood?"
"No, sir," Oliver said. His voice was a little shaky.
"Are you certain?" Flitwick asked. "I would like to know why my lecture was disturbed."
Oliver said nothing. Marcus felt sort of sick. He'd meant to give Oliver a gift, not get him in trouble. And he didn't like the way Flitwick was talking to Oliver.
So Marcus did something he'd never, ever imagined himself doing: he spoke up to take the blame.
Or he tried to. But the Silence spell was still in effect and he just gaped, mouthing words without any sound. He jumped to his feet and waved his arms.
Flitwick turned to Marcus. "You have something to add, Mr Flint?"
"Yes," Marcus said and he could hear himself this time. "It was my fault," he said. "I was ... it was my fault." He could see the side of Oliver's face now and it was indeed rather red. Oliver was looking straight ahead, but Marcus thought he saw Oliver's eyes flicker over to him. "Not Wood's," Marcus added, for good measure.
"Not another foolish prank," Flitwick said. "Detention for you, Flint, and pick up those things." Marcus crouched and scrambled for the candy hearts. "With magic, Flint," Flitwick said and stalked back to his lectern.
Marcus began to Summon the hearts one by one. Flitwick sighed and waved his wand. The hearts rose into the air and winked out of existence. There were still ten minutes left in the lesson, but Flitwick dismissed them early, after assigning an extra-large portion of homework. Marcus tried to follow Oliver out but Flitwick called him back to arrange his detention. "And some remedial work, Flint, your charms are disgraceful."
Detention wasn't too bad; Marcus just had to sweep and mop out a few of the dungeons. But now he had to do extra Charms lessons twice a week. And he wasn't sure he was any further with Oliver than when he'd started.
It confused him. And made him kind of sad. Clearly, he wasn't doing the right thing, but he didn't know what the right thing was. He went and walked around the grounds for a while. It didn't really help and it started to rain and he got all wet.
At supper he sat by himself, pushing his shepherd's pie around his plate and tearing bread into tiny pieces. He looked over at the Gryffindor table and found Oliver looking back at him. Oliver narrowed his eyes into a glare, then turned away and talked to his neighbour. Marcus just watched him -- his hands moving as he spoke, his smile, his throat as he threw his head back to laugh. It made Marcus's stomach clench.
Marcus stood and left the hall.
He walked some more, this time through the corridors. The paintings were talking about him, he was sure, but he could never quite catch them whispering. He met some Gryffindor first years and made them stand on their heads for a while, but it didn't make him feel any better.
He ended up back in the common room, looking for Adrian. Adrian was sitting in a corner, working on some homework. Marcus went over to him. There was a girl heading in the same direction. It was one of the girls that had helped Marcus out, actually, so he gave her a smile before he pushed past her and sat down by Adrian.
Adrian looked up, then back down and kept writing.
"Pucey," Marcus said. "I need to talk to you."
"I'm busy," Adrian said.
Marcus snatched the quill from Adrian's fingers. "So what?"
"Sod off, Flint." Adrian grabbed for the quill, but Marcus held it beyond his reach. Adrian grimaced, then pushed his books aside. "Is this at least about Quidditch? Because if it's about your pathetic love life..."
Marcus snapped the quill in half.
"Sorry, sorry, your very important and of course very interesting love life, I meant to say." Adrian rolled his eyes. "Listen, that essay was due last week and I'm only halfway through, so get on with it, will you?"
"It's not going well," Marcus said and dropped the pieces of the quill onto the table.
"So I hear," said Adrian.
"I followed your advice and it didn't work."
"So this is my fault? Is that what you mean?"
"No," said Marcus. He hadn't considered that. "Do you think it is?"
"Of course not," Adrian said. "The problem wasn't the advice; it's how you followed it. I didn't tell you to poison him, did I? Or to get him in trouble?"
"It was an accident. And I was the one who got in trouble." But Marcus thought that maybe Adrian had a point. "So, I should try something else on the list, but make sure it doesn't backfire."
"Sure, why not?" said Adrian. "What's next?"
Marcus thought. "Poetry, I imagine."
"Do you even know what poetry is, Flint?"
"It's words that rhyme."
Adrian grinned. "Close enough." He picked up the pieces of the quill and repaired them with his wand. "So nice of you to drop by, let's do this again sometime soon." And he pulled his books back again.
"I think about him all the time," Marcus said glumly and rested his chin in his hands. "You know, about talking to him or kissing him. And last night I had this dream where we were flying off to--"
"Please, no," Adrian said, and screwed his eyes up tightly. "I do not need this image in my head." He put his hands over his ears. "1066 -- Hastings, 1379 -- dragon pox, 1612 -- goblin rebellion, 1945 -- Grindelwald."
"Shut up, Pucey," Marcus said and stood.
Adrian picked up his wand, then paused. "And Flint, don't even think about reading me any of your poetry." He waved his wand in a circle around his head. "Noli perturbare!" A shimmering cone appeared around him and he began to write again.
Marcus saw that girl walking towards Adrian again but she stopped when she saw the Privacy spell. Marcus thought she looked kind of glum too. He stopped to talk to her. "Do you know anything about poetry?" he asked.
She just stared at him for a few moments, then shook her head and went off to sit with her friend by the fire. Marcus went up to his dormitory to get quill and parchment. He decided to work in there, since it would be hard to think properly in the common room. Maybe he should learn that spell that Adrian had done.
But no time now. Now he had to write some poetry. He figured that it should be a message to Oliver about how he felt, but in rhymes, like a advert for something or a song.
Marcus stretched out on his bed, dipped his quill into the ink, and waited for the poetry to come to him. Ink dripped off the nib and blotted the page. Marcus chewed the end of the quill. Finally, he wrote down the first line:
I love you, Oliver
It seemed a good beginning. But then he tried to think of something that rhymed with "Oliver". And that turned out to be impossible. He scratched out the line. Maybe if he said the same thing, but in a different way:
Oliver, I love you
That was better; loads of things rhymed with "you". After much quill-sucking, he added a second line:
I wish you would love me too
Excellent. But did the third line have to rhyme with the first two or should it be different? Best to keep it all rhyming so as to leave no doubt that it was poetry.
Marcus thought very hard. After an hour, there was ink on the sheets and ink on Marcus's face and lots of ink smeared around the parchment. But he had the completed poem:
Oliver, I love you
I wish you would love me too
But I don't know what to do
Last night I dreamed that me and you flew
And the sky was blue
He read it a few times. He wasn't sure how good it was, but it was true. It occurred to him that "true" rhymed with "you" and maybe he should put in another line. But he was tired and it had been hard enough to write what he had. He put the parchment away and got ready for bed.
Marcus couldn't sleep. All he could think about was Oliver. Oliver's face, Oliver's hands. Oliver flying, Oliver walking down the corridor, robes billowing behind him. Oliver sitting down beside Marcus and leaning over and whispering in Marcus's ear. It made Marcus's chest hurt, deep down inside.
He thought about putting his hand on Oliver's thigh and kissing Oliver's mouth and touching Oliver's face with his tongue. And Oliver would touch him back and press close to Marcus. And things would happen.
This made Marcus aroused and for that, he could get relief. But the ache in his chest wouldn't go away and Marcus began to think that being in love was not very fun at all.
In the morning, he folded up the poem and put it into his pocket. He couldn't mess this up. He'd give it to Oliver some time when they were alone.
But finding Oliver alone proved difficult. For days, Marcus only saw him at meals or in class. A few times in the corridors, but always with his friends. Marcus smiled at Oliver, but he didn't try to talk to him. Oliver would look at him, almost like he was puzzled, and it made Marcus wonder what Oliver was thinking.
Marcus kept taking the poem out and reading it and the creases in the parchment got worn. Nearly a week went by. Marcus had his extra Charms lessons. They were with a Ravenclaw boy -- Marcus dimly thought he might be Head Boy -- who was quite good at explaining just what to do to make the charms work properly.
And Marcus's chest still ached.
Marcus was coming back from a Charms tutorial one day when he found Oliver in a draughty third floor corridor. But Oliver was still not alone; there were two other boys with him. And they were scuffling.
Oliver had one of the boys -- both Hufflepuff, Marcus noted -- in a headlock, but the other one was trying to grab him from behind.
Marcus didn't even think, he just waded in. He pulled the boy off of Oliver and punched him in the face. Blood ran from the boy's nose down over his chin and onto his robes. He clutched his face and ran away.
Next, Marcus yanked the other boy away from Oliver and threw him up against the wall. He slapped the boy's face. "You leave him alone." Slapped him again. Then he pinned the boy's arms behind his back. Holding his wrists with one hand, Marcus used the other to pinch and twist the skin on the boy's arm.
"Flint!" Oliver yelled. "What the bloody hell are you doing?"
Marcus swung around to face Oliver, dragging the Hufflepuff boy along with him. "I'm helping you," he said.
"How is this helping me?" Oliver was breathing hard and his hair was ruffled up.
"They were attacking you and I stopped them." The Hufflepuff struggled a little and Marcus kneed him in the back.
"You really are thick, aren't you?" Oliver said.
"What do you mean?" Marcus asked. A cold feeling was starting to sink through him. Oliver wasn't happy at all and now Marcus wasn't either. "Do you want a turn?" He pushed the boy forward.
"Lord, Flint, no. Just let him go."
Marcus shrugged and released the boy, who ran off. "Then what?" Obviously, he'd done something wrong yet again. But he still wasn't sure what.
"You're thick, you're tactless, you have absolutely no idea of appropriate behaviour. You couldn't just ... but no, you had to embarrass me in front of everybody." Oliver stepped closer and waved his hands as he spoke.
"Oh," Marcus said. "I'm sorry."
Oliver didn't seem to have heard. "First you said -- well, you know what you said. And then the flowers, with the whole school watching, not to mention they were poisonous, Flint. And the -- in Charms -- with those squeaking -- and now we have to have this whole sodding conversation about it."
Marcus didn't say anything. Maybe he'd botched everything, but he never meant to. And Oliver seemed so angry. He wasn't even grateful that Marcus had rescued him just now.
"I wouldn't even have been in this fight if it weren't for you," Oliver said. "But now everywhere I go, people have to ask me, oh, how's my boyfriend?"
"But I--" Marcus tried but Oliver cut him off. And now Marcus felt a burning inside, a sort of red, hazy feeling that he recognized all too well.
"It doesn't help," Oliver said, "to have you fight my battles for me."
"Well, you can fight this one," Marcus said and hit him.
Oliver must have seen it coming. The blow landed on his shoulder and spun him half around. He threw himself at Marcus, fists flailing, and landed a good one on Marcus's eye. Marcus hit low, punching at Oliver's belly. "You bastard," Oliver was saying. "You bastard."
Marcus tried to pull back, to swing better, but Oliver grappled him. Marcus kicked Oliver's feet out from under him and they went over together. Marcus landed on top but Oliver wrenched himself out from under. They struggled together for a while.
They ended up with Marcus on his back, trying to throw Oliver off and Oliver astride Marcus's chest, pinning Marcus's hands above his head. Marcus looked for an opening. He figured to twist and throw Oliver off. But fight or no fight, having Oliver so close, his weight on Marcus, was distracting.
Oliver's chest heaved and he looked capable of anything. His grip on Marcus's wrists was tight, almost cutting. Marcus stared up at him and wanted him more than ever.
Oliver leaned down until he was face to face with Marcus. His breath was hot. "You bastard," Oliver said once more. And Marcus was about to bash his forehead into Oliver's nose when Oliver kissed him.
For a few seconds, Marcus wondered if this was one of those dreams again. Then he kissed Oliver back. Marcus had kissed a couple of girls before, but he hadn't really enjoyed it. This was better. Much better. It made him feel cold and hot at the same time and his skin was tingling all over. Oliver let go Marcus's hands and slid down until he was stretched out against Marcus, the whole length of his body.
Marcus put his arms around Oliver, hands on his back, and hugged him close. He moved one hand up to the back of Oliver's neck and touched his hair, his skin, the mole just above the collar. And he kept kissing Oliver. Marcus wasn't sure that he was very good at kissing, but Oliver seemed to know what he was about so Marcus tried to copy him. The inside of Oliver's mouth was warm. Oliver put his hands on either side of Marcus's head, thumbs on his cheeks, hands in his hair.
Voices and footsteps sounded in the distance. "Damn," Oliver said and rolled away. Marcus thought this might be over as quickly as it had begun and it made him feel sick inside. But Oliver opened a door, ducked inside, and waved at him to follow.
Marcus scrambled into the dark, and Oliver shut the door. Marcus stood, wondering where to reach out for Oliver. A light flickered on. They were in a small room, more a cupboard really, boxes stacked everywhere. Marcus caught only a glimpse as he pushed Oliver against the wall and kissed him. Oliver dropped his wand and the light went out.
The room smelled like dust and books. Oliver smelled like sweat and skin. Marcus put his mouth on Oliver's cheek, found the mole with his tongue. He felt Oliver's hands pulling his robes apart, pushing up under his shirt. When Oliver touched his chest, Marcus made a noise against Oliver's neck. He kissed Oliver's mouth again and tried to find his way through Oliver's robes and sweater and shirt to the skin underneath.
Then Oliver stopped kissing him. "Oh, hell, what's the time?" His watch spoke up and told him. "I have to go," Oliver said.
"No," said Marcus, and held on tightly. He ran one hand down Oliver's spine.
"I have Quidditch practice in ten minutes," Oliver said. "I have to."
"Oh," said Marcus and loosed his grip. His heart was sinking and his chest ached again. He'd let Oliver go and never get him back. "But can we ... you know, again?"
Oliver still had his hands on Marcus's back. "Yes ... if you'll just stop with the other stuff."
"The love stuff?" Marcus said.
"Yeah, that," Oliver said. "No more of that. Just tell me that you want to talk about Quidditch and we'll meet here, all right?"
And Marcus was happy. It wasn't all he wanted, but it was good enough for now. "Can't I talk to you sometimes?"
"Yes," Oliver said, "But not too much, okay? You are a Slytherin, after all. And just about normal things." He pulled away. "Where's my bloody wand?" Then the light glowed again and Oliver had his wand and a folded piece of parchment in his hand.
Marcus knew just what it was. It must have fallen out of his pocket. He didn't think it would be good for Oliver to see it now so he grabbed for it. Oliver snatched the parchment out of his way and opened it up. Marcus waited for the row to start all over again. But Oliver just grinned and tucked the poem away inside his robes. "And especially no more of that," he said. He listened at the door, kissed Marcus one more time, and left without another word.
Marcus shut the door again and sat down in the dark with his back to it. He wanted to think, but it was hard when he was so aroused. So he fixed that, and then his mind was clearer.
He wondered why this had happened. Maybe Oliver had actually liked him all along. Or maybe Oliver liked to fight. Marcus hoped they wouldn't have to fight every time, though.
He couldn't ask Oliver, since it was bound to be one of the things Oliver didn't want him to talk about. Maybe later, though, Oliver would relax and Marcus could find out.
Marcus stood. Damn Quidditch practice, he thought, and kicked the door. Then he thought that he should send a spy out to the Gryffindor practice. Slytherin was playing Gryffindor in just over two weeks; Marcus needed to find out how their game was.
Marcus went back to the common room and sent a third year out to the pitch with strict instructions not to get caught. Then he sat down beside Adrian, who was nodding by the fire again.
"Pucey," Marcus said, and gave him a shove.
Adrian opened one eye, then shut it again. "I'm listening, really. If my eyes are closed, that just means I'm thinking hard about what you're saying."
Marcus shoved him again.
"Okay, okay." Adrian yawned. "What is it this time?" He looked at Marcus's face. "You must have read him the poetry."
"No," Marcus said. "We had a fight." His eye was really starting to hurt. He touched it and it was puffy.
"And now you need more of my brilliant advice? Or a beefsteak?"
Marcus leaned in and lowered his voice. "No, it's all fine now. After the fight, we went into this room and--"
"Stop right there!" Adrian shielded his eyes. "I'm very happy for you but I really don't want to know."
"And don't tell anyone," Marcus said. "Or I'll kill you. He doesn't seem to want people to know."
Adrian grinned. "Nice bloke like you? I don't believe it." He yawned again, and stretched. "So, now that's all sorted, I figure it's your turn to help me get a girlfriend. With your help, it should take about three times as long as without it."
"Oh," said Marcus. He pointed across the room. "That girl there, with the long hair. She's in love with you."
"What?" Adrian looked over at the girl and she smiled at him, then blushed. He turned to Marcus. "Are you sure?"
"She told her friend. I heard them talking." Marcus felt good. He was happy so now he wanted other people to be happy too.
"When was this?"
"A couple of weeks ago, maybe."
Adrian stared. "Why didn't you tell me?"
Marcus shrugged. "I forgot. So, we should talk about Quidditch, about our next game."
"Not now, Flint," Adrian said and crossed the room. Marcus could hear the girl giggle as Adrian talked to her.
One of Marcus's teammates walked by and looked at his face. "That's a lovely black eye," he said. "You should go get that fixed."
"No," said Marcus. "I think I'll keep it." And he went up to his dormitory to write another poem.