aprilclash (aprilclash) wrote in theanswerisyou,

a silver (and green) lining [5/5]

a silver (and green) lining

December 14th

“And that's why I think we should prepare a goodbye party.”

Sehun stares at Jinri, not knowing what to answer. Her eyes are so big, shiny and hopeful. She looks like the character of those Asian comics Taemin once lent to Jongin. She blinks and her long lashes curl. She must be using that new magic mascara that Wendy and Sooyoung use too, the one that is rumored to make your lashes grow every day. Around them, the other students of the Muggle Studies class are pretending to be really busy with their bag straps, but Sehun knows they're hungrily spying on his and Jinri's exchange.

“I think...” he begins, not really knowing what she expects him to say, “it's a very nice idea. Professor Kim will surely appreciate it.”

Jinri's smile blossom in an ecstatic expression and she pats Sehun's shoulder. “I knew you would've liked the idea! Well, then it's settled! You'll be in charge of the gift. Find out what professor Kim likes and we can buy it during our Muggle London's trip next week!”

“Wait- What do you mean... I didn't agree to do anything...”

She doesn't even listen to him. “Girls, we're in charge of food and beverages; Hoseok, decorations; Ilhoon, cleaning up after the party.”

Ilhoon shakes his head. “No no no, my dear, I think it's better if I go with Sehun to Muggle London to buy the gift, obviously. I wouldn't want him to get lost there. His family is really rich, if something happens to him they could press charges on us.”

“You can do both things, it's not my problem anymore,” she concludes with a brilliant smile. “Now excuse me, Arithmancy class doesn't wait.”

“What the hell did just happen?” asks Sehun to no one when after she storms out of the room to reach her next class. Hoseok shrugs next to him. It's strange to have almost-friendly interactions with him but when he's not glaring at Sehun like he wants him to drop dead he can actually be an ok guy.

“And how do you think to save me from getting lost in Muggle London?” continues Sehun, this time turning to Ilhoon. “Have you ever been to Muggle London?”

“Actually not, why would I go there? It's dangerous, full of Muggles. That's why I should come with you. To protect you!”

“For your information I've been to Muggle London a lot of times!” protests Sehun.

“Perfect, that means we've found a guide for our trip next week!”

They all turn towards Jinri, who walks in the classroom, takes a forgotten roll of parchment from her desk and walks away again with Minzy and Suzy, their heels clicking on the old stone floor.

Hoseok sighs. “I don't really like you Oh, but I'll give you a very important advice now. Never ever say you can do something in front of Choi Jinri or she'll make you do it.”

“Maybe I should say I can grab her boobs then,” jokes Ilhoon.

“Maybe I should say I can throw you out of the window the last time you say something this silly,” Sehun shoots back. Ilhoon's face turns sour at the joke and that's when Sehun realizes. Joking. he can't believe he's joking with Jung Ilhoon at the presence of Jung Hoseok. “Ok, that was strange bordering on creepy. I invited you in my Common Room and now I'm joking with you. I must go before we really start to become friends.”

He walks away just in time to hear Hoseok last, surprised and surprising comment. “Did I actually find that funny?”

Minseok's couch is soft and comfortable and the magic fire burning in the fireplace is warmer than the one in Slytherin's Common Room. That's what Sehun tells Minseok every time the teacher opens the door of his rooms with a questioning glance to Sehun.

This time too, he doesn't even bother asking for permission before he's shooting towards the couch and collapsing on a comfy pillow.

Minseok closes the door and goes back to the table, where he's checking the answers of Fifth Year's Muggle Studies class' tests. After a few minutes, he turns towards Sehun, clearly unhappy about his lack of reactions.

“Why are you so quiet today?”

It makes Sehun laughs inwardly because he's usually a very quiet person. He loves to read comics, to play videogames, to listen to music and to be a little asocial shit most of the times. His friends are well aware of it, and during years of friendship they've learnt how to slowly coax him out of his happy bubble of silence. Except Wendy. Wendy merciless bursts the bubble and runs over Sehun demanding attention, but that's not the point. The point is that Sehun is not really a talkative person, but when he is with Minseok it's like his dam is broken, for the first time in his life.

Maybe it's because Minseok is leaving in a few days and Sehun feels like his time is running out and he still doesn't know anything about Minseok. His favorite color, the subjects he was good at and the ones he outright hated, when he had his first smoke, his first kiss, his first crush. Did he ever sneak out of the school through one of the secret passages to go to Honeydukes and buy some Butterbeer and Chocolate Frogs?

Some questions are silly, but some questions are heavy and he rolls them in his mouth for hours, feeling their weight on his tongue until he has memorized the words and he could recite them in his sleep. It's his personal way to find the courage to ask things like why did Minseok decide to become a teacher. Why does he like Sehun. Why is he leaving.

Sehun has asked the last question in his head so many times that the words must be branded with fire in his mind. He already knows the answer. Minseok has told him, after a kiss that felt like smoke and the first snow of the year.

“When you faced me, the morning after Halloween, I realized I wasn't ready for this job. Not yet. You were telling me the truth, everyone was telling me the truth and I couldn't believe all of you because I couldn't accept that one of the student of my House, one of my friends, had behaved like a little ass and put the safety of another student in danger for something stupid like House rivalry. Your face that day, Sehun, I will never forget it in my life. I became a teacher because I wanted to help students, be a pillar of support to them, and with you I failed. I felt so disappointed with myself.”

“You made Jungkook confess though,” Sehun answered, but Minseok merely shook his head. “It was the least I could do. But that doesn't mean I'm ready. I'm only twenty one, Sehun. I want to go back to university and study more and only come back when I'm really ready to be a good teacher.”

Sehun wanted to protest, he wanted Minseok to stay and to kiss him again - something Minseok won't do anyway, at least until he's still a Hogwarts professor. Even now, after a few days, Minseok's decision leaves him conflicted and confused. He wants to graduate immediately so he can be with Minseok, but at the same time he doesn't want to leave Hogwarts so soon. Things are changing - or maybe he's the one who's changed, for good.

He still wishes Minseok could stay, at least until he graduates, but there's really nothing he can do to change Minseok's mind and deep inside he doesn't even want to. He remembers how it felt when Minseok wouldn't believe him and it was awful. Even if it's only one mistake, a teacher can easily forget it - it will get lost among the countless faces of so many students - but among those students there will be one who won't forget so easily that sense of helplessness and worthlessness.

“Sehun? Are you listening?”

He just hums, turning to hide his face against the pillow. He could easily fall asleep like this. It's been a long day, with Potions, Charms and double Transfiguration and after two hours Sehun still doesn't know how to turn a pig into a desk.

Minseok pinches him, hard, like only Wendy dares to do.

“What was that for?” yelps Sehun, almost kicking Minseok off the couch, but the teacher ruffles his hair again. “Don't fall asleep! I talked with Professor Kangin and you have six rolls of parchment on Amortensia due for tomorrow so get up and do your homework.”

Sehun pouts, even if he knows it won't work with Minseok, and then he reluctantly takes out his Potions notes.

They've fallen into an easy routine, he and Minseok. They're not exactly dating. They don't kiss and they don't hold hands like normal couples do. Not while Kim Minseok is still on Hogwarts' payroll. Not yet. They talk a lot, but they can also spend an entire afternoon just minding their own business - Sehun doing his homework or reading while Minseok prepares for his next class. Most of the time though, Sehun just plays with Minseok's stuff. There are a lot of interesting things in his room, like for example a Macbook Air. A real Macbook. Sehun’s eyes shine as he puts his hands over that treasure.

“Pretty cool, right?” asks the teacher.

“It's just a shiny, expensive toy,” he answers, trying to hide his anticipation. “I bet you can't even use it at its full potential. Can I turn it on?”

Minseok scoffs but says yes anyway. “Just be careful, don’t take any viruses,” he warns, but Sehun just shakes his head and presses the start button. “It’s a Macbook, it can’t take viruses.”

“So it wasn’t a lie, you’re really interested in Muggle stuff.”

“Well, not exactly interested.” Sehun just doesn't want to think what his father would do if he knew the truth.

“It was one of the first reasons I got interested in you,” confesses Minseok as he sits next to Sehun on the couch, not too close but close enough that Sehun can feel his warmth. When he tries to plaster himself on Minseok's side, the teacher scoots towards the end of the couch. Unfortunately for Sehun, Minseok is adamantine on the no skinship until I'm not your teacher anymore rule.

“You liked me because I know how to start a laptop?”

Minseok laughs at the idea. “It sounds silly, right? But it was so strange for me, that a Pure-blood heir like you could be good with Muggle stuff. At the beginning, you were really a mystery to me. A very complicated puzzle that I couldn't solve even if I tried. And I tried so hard, but when I thought I was coming close to the solution I realized you weren't a puzzle to be solved. You were a trap and I was already fucked.”

“Oh, thank you for freaking out and starting to ignore me after that,” he mutters, but secretly he feels very proud of himself. In fifty years he still won't know why Minseok managed to fall in love with a boring person like him, but he doesn't care. Minseok likes him. Minseok likes him. It's so strange and unreal that Sehun doesn't know what to feel. One day his brain will catch up and he'll probably faint. He just hopes Minseok won't be there to witness his complete transformation into a puddle of feels just because his long life crush and first love actually reciprocates his feelings.

“Oh Sehun, I couldn’t ignore you even if I tried.”

“But you were ignoring me!”

“I was dying inside,” proclaims Minseok, his eyes closed, just to mock Sehun.

He pouts and Minseok laughs, ruffling his hair. This is still wrong and Minseok is still his teacher for at least another week. But they really don’t care, because after this week Minseok will leave Hogwarts and even though they'll officially be free to date they won't be able to do it because Minseok will be on the other side of the country.

Minseok hasn't started to pack his stuff yet. He needs to clear everything soon so that Professor Jung can take her old rooms back. Her wedding lasted less than a semester and, according to her sister Krystal, no one in the family really liked him anyway, so Jessica Jung will be returning to Hogwarts after Christmas and Kim Minseok will leave for Scotland - or wherever young teacher apprentices go.

Sehun closes his eyes and lets Minseok's old stereo lulls him to sleep. His Potions paper lies unattended on the floor. He should write other three rolls, at least, but he can always do that later. For now, he lets the slow, hypnotic voice of Patsy Cline fill his mind. It's old Muggle music, a passion that Minseok has inherited from his father and his vinyl collection. Sehun usually prefers metal, or sometimes rock, but Minseok is slowly teaching him the joys of jazz and blues, and sometimes even the same Italian classical music pieces that Baekhyun loved so much.

“It's late, we should go to dinner,” says Minseok after a while, and Sehun realizes he has really fallen asleep on the couch, next to his half-assed Potions paper.

“But I want to stay here,” he whines.

“I want to go to dinner though, so what should I do with you, Sehunnie?”

“Can we stay if I tell you a secret, something no one else knows?”

Minseok looks interested and Sehun makes himself comfortable on the couch again, determined not to leave its softness.

“What kind of secret?” asks Minseok, faintly intrigued.

“Something not even Wendy or Jongin or Tao know.”

Now Minseok looks definitely intrigued. “I will go to dinner anyway, but tell me the secret and not only you can stay here, but I'll also bring you something to eat from the kitchens when I come back, alright?”

Sehun nods enthusiastically. “Ok, it's a very important secret and I never trusted anyone with it. No one but you, ok? Swear on Godric Gryffindor's ugly face.”

“I'll swear on Salazar Slytherin's nosy nose. Tell me the secret, Sehunnie.”

“I'm not... actually a true Slytherin,” he says, after a deep breath.

Minseok frowns. “What do you mean?”

“I was never really meant to be a Slytherin. The Hat wanted to Sort me into Hufflepuff. Oh Sehun the Hufflepuff, can you believe it? My dad would've disowned me on the spot and my mom wouldn't have batted an eyelash to stop him.”

“This is your big secret, Oh Sehun?” Minseok looks... baffled.

“Hey, it's a very important secret. I don't want the other guys to think I'm not a true Slytherin, but... I'm not. I'm a missed Hufflepuff.”

He usually tries not to think about that day, the voice of the Hat echoing in his head, his pitiful plea of “Please, please, please, send me to Slytherin.” The Sorting Hat made him happy, but Sehun still wonders if it was the right choice. Many times, he has felt the difference between himself and his other friends in the way they were so ambitious and smart and powerful, in the way they always have a dream and they're ready to do anything to make it become true. Sehun has never had a dream, until now. But he doesn't know if he's strong enough to make it happen. A true Slytherin would probably be able to do it, but Sehun is a Hufflepuff in a snake’s skin, and what do Hufflepuff have? Patience, loyalty, the ability to be hardworking? He doubts any of these qualities will help him face his father.

“Oh Sehun, you may have chosen that house to make your parents happy, but Slytherin was your home for almost seven years and you have the same right to call it your House as everyone else. Don't ever forget it, ok?”

Minseok gets up, throwing a last fond look at Sehun, and takes his cape. It's almost dinner time. Sehun closes his eyes.

“Minseok? Do you think we can choose our own destiny? I chose Slytherin to make my father happy and I was really happy here, but I don't want my parents to take every other choice away from me.” But Minseok doesn't answer. Only then Sehun realizes Minseok has already left the room to go to the Great Hall. And only then, to the silent and empty room, Sehun dares to say, “Am I really brave enough to go against my father?”

The stereo stops playing, as if shocked by Sehun's suggestion. It's an old stereo that sometimes throws a tantrum or simply stops playing, just to spite Sehun. The boy reluctantly gets up and tries to start the music again, with no avail. Maybe it’s broken. Well, at least he knows what to buy for Minseok's farewell gift.

x. jongin

December 17th

Sehun has been to Muggle London a lot of times mostly with Jongin and Zitao, sometimes with Baekhyun, but never by himself. Today is not different. Ilhoon, next to him, looks like an overexcited kid, completely fascinated by the winter lights shining above their heads. It's the sixth time Sehun has to grab his coat to keep him from jumping on the streets, totally oblivious to the cars shooting back and forth across the busy streets of a metropolis a few days before Christmas.

They came here to collect material for their final paper with a special authorization signed by the principal and Minseok himself. In their hands, a list of tasks they must complete before they can go back to Hogwarts. Crossing the streets, buying fish and chips using Muggle money, asking a Muggle to take a picture of them in front of Buckingham Palace, entering a phone booth. This should be their midterms exam, but looking at some of the tasks - take a bus tour of the city - it feels more like a vacation. Minseok's last gift.

“It's a pity we can't stay until night,” says Ilhoon with a pout, “I would've really liked to do the Jack the Ripper tour. Did you know he was a wizard? I'm really curious about what these Muggles think about him.”

Sehun rolls his eyes. Ilhoon seems to think that the best way to break Sehun's wall of silence is to talk against it until it collapses. So far, the results have been meagre, but Ilhoon counts every word he's managed to tear away from Sehun's reluctant lips as a victory.

“Aren't you tired to be so grumpy all the time? You'll get premature wrinkles!”

“When that happens, I'll change skin like the snake I am.”

“Oh, really? But I thought you Pure-blood assholes preserved your youth by bathing in the blood of virgin Muggle girls.”

“I would hit you but I don't really want to touch you. You're a Gryffindor, you could infect me with dumbness.” However, he does grab Ilhoon's hand again to keep him from running in the middle of the street to chase a firefighter truck. “And be careful, since you're carrying the gift.”

Ilhoon nods, confused. “I know, I know, no running in front of the cars. But I think it's really stupid that they didn't add a safety spell, you know?” Sehun has given up on explaining Ilhoon that Muggles can't use spells. The notion seems to vanish from his mind as quickly as it enters it.

A rapid look at the sky tells him that it's quite late and they should hurry up. The train will leave at 6pm and they're on the wrong side of the city. Of course they could Apparate outside Hogwarts, but it's a long trip and he doesn't trust Ilhoon - who had to take the exams six times because he kept forgetting his legs on the wrong side - to make it to Hogwarts on one piece.

His precautions are useless though, because even if he manages to call a taxi - making Ilhoon squeal in delight because oh my god we're on a Muggle taxi - the roads are packed and when they finally arrive at King's Cross their train has already left.

That's when Ilhoon starts to freak out.

“For Godric's balls, we're lost Oh, we're lost in Muggle London, without a broomstick, without an owl... Without a place to stay for the whole night!”

“Don't worry Jung, we won't sleep on the streets. In the worst case, we can always go to Diagon Alley and book a room at the Leaky Cauldron. But I don't think we'll be forced to do that.”

“And how do you think to go back to Hogwarts?”

“The Knight bus. It's still early for the night service. We have to wait a few hours, but we'll be at Hogwarts before curfew. We just have to warn Professor Kim that we'll be late and for that I need a phone.” He pauses, shuffling his weight from a foot to the other one, a bit unsure. There's only one place that is both close and warm and also furnished with a phone but he's not sure he wants to bring Ilhoon there.

“Ok, let's go,” he says in the end, making way for Ilhoon. “Stick close to me and remember... No wand, no spells, no magic talk, ok?”

“Wait, where are we going?”

“I have a few Muggle friends. They will lend me a phone.”

Ilhoon chokes, for good this time. Sehun doesn't wait for him to start asking questions, he just pulls him forward.

“Wait a moment... Muggle friends? You? Your family is rumored to hunt Muggles and behead them and hang their heads on the walls...”

“Actually we marinade them and they're served pickled at family dinners,” he mutters, and it's not without a certain degree of self-satisfaction that he watches Ilhoon's face become green.

“Aren't you afraid I will reveal your secret? Do I have to swear on my blood that I will keep my mouth shut about this or...”

“No one would believe you. Listen, I'm just asking you to not talk about wizard stuff in front of my friends. They're Muggles. Like, totally unaware of the magic world, ok? Don't scare them, keep your mouth shut and we'll be out of there in five minutes.” He hopes Ilhoon will behave or this is the good time Sehun frees the world from his ill-timed tongue.

Sehun has never been to the tiny flat Wonshik shares with Taemin, but his two friends live near the train station and it only takes a short walk to reach them. Minseok's phone number is easy, almost all 3s and 6s and luckily Sehun has memorized it with ease because he doubts Taemin or Wonshik will have an owl available for Sehun's needs.

He remembers the first time they all met. Him and Jongin, wearing awkward wizard robes. Taemin with the backpack falling haphazardly from his left shoulder, no books inside but his change of clothes for the dance class. Wonshik, perfectly ironed uniform and a big smile on his face. Sehun and Jongin, sometimes Zitao too, were there during Taemin's long hair phase and Wonshik's piercing and blue hair phase. Taemin taught Jongin the secrets of break dance and Jongin thanked him by showing him how to do a perfect grand jetè, but Wonshik was the one who dyed Sehun's hair all the different colors of the rainbow for a lost bet in the summer between his fifth and sixth year in Hogwarts. Zitao and Jongin had laughed for weeks and only Wendy's most powerful spell had turned his hair to its natural color again.

Sehun recognizes the house from the blurry photos Wonshik has sent him, a dirty building with tiny windows and a narrow staircase, the perfect place for poor students. There are some bicycles tied in the courtyard and even an old and dented pizza scooter.

It takes four floors and a lot of stairs, but finally Sehun finds the right door. The lousy oh no, not you again mat shouts Wonshik from a distance of three miles.

With a last, warning glare to Ilhoon, he finally rings the doorbell. There's a moment of silence, then laughs and booming voices. They're probably deciding who will open the door. Steps, the door knob clicks and...


...And a perplexed Sehun finds himself facing the equally perplexed face of a Kim Jongin.

Jongin is thinner than Sehun has ever seen him, with deep, dark bags under his eyes and three days’ worth of stubble to decorate his jaw. He's wearing a pizza boy jacket, the same logo of that old scooter back in the courtyard. He has pink hair.

“Well,” hazards Sehun to break the awkward silence, “you don't really look like the next Minister of Magic.”

Jongin tries to smile, but it comes out as a grimace. “My parents will have to deal with it. Their only son will never climb the ladder at the Ministry. But apparently I have a future in professional dancing, at least according to the rest of the guys.”

“Which guys?” he asks Sehun, and he takes a moment to inner congratulate himself on his lack of hysteria. Kim Jongin is living in a dirty flat near King’s Cross while everyone else thinks he’s a intern at the Ministry.

“My dance crew.” Jongin shrugs. “We have a few gigs during the week, but we still don't make a lot of money. I have to work to pay for the Arts university.”

“Arts university,” hisses Sehun. “You're taking Muggle university! I can't believe you're...” His voice dies in a whisper as he hears Taemin's voice coming from the other room, where he left him with Ilhoon hoping in the common sense of the Gryffindor.

“I am a dance major,” clarifies Jongin, and if Sehun wasn't so distressed by this whole situation he'd probably facepalm.

“So you're actually saying that in the last four months you ran away from home, crashed at your friends' place, found yourself a job and applied to Muggle university?”

“Yes, I did.”

“And when in the four realms of Merlin were you thinking of telling us?”

This time, Jongin's face reddens in shame. “It was really difficult. Zitao was abroad and you were in Hogwarts and I didn't know how to contact you without going to Diagon Alley and using an owl, but I was too afraid that someone would recognize me and tell my parents. If they find me it's over, they'll make sure no one can ever hire me again and they'll find a way to have me thrown out of the school. I can't allow it, Sehun, this is my dream.”

Jongin's parents would do that. They are powerful enough and they have no qualms. Sehun knows they've never seen Jongin as something more than a trophy, their most beautiful possession. They played matchmaker for his three sisters with powerful men with key position in the Ministry, but Jongin was different. A son that will one day become Minister of Magic, they used to say. Sehun knows the sensation. His parents, after all, are the same.

They are quite similar, he and Jongin, and they've been friends since forever. But while Sehun hid his sadness behind a wall of silence that only his friends could break, Jongin's mood were violent and sudden like explosions. The more his parents paid to cover for his atrocious behavior, the more dangerous he became, in the desperate quest of a way to show his frustration, a way powerful enough that not even his parents' money would've been able to cover it. When it didn't work, Jongin started to dance. For a creature capable of creating so much chaos, he was extremely graceful, his strength calculated to look beautiful onstage.

Dance was something his parents never understood, and thus they were never able to destroy. But Sehun knows way too well how easy would be for them to ruin everything now.

“This is why you never answered our owls, right? Me and Zitao were starting to get worried for you.”

Jongin nods meekly. “The owls reached the Ministry but they were redirected to my family house. My parents are doing everything they can to find me, but this is Muggle London. As long as I don't use magic, they have no way to find me.”

Jongin looks so much older. For everyone he may be a hooligan and a punk, but for Sehun he will always be the boy who loves to play with puppies and pirouette on the ball room and falls asleep everywhere and always forgets his wand in the most stupid places. But this Jongin, with badly dyed hair and the signs of hard work carved on his body, may be someone Sehun doesn't really know.

Jongin passes a big hand on his messy hair and looks at Sehun like a beggar. “You have to believe me, Sehun, I tried. I really did. I went to work and I tried my best to be the son my parents wanted, but I couldn't waste my life in that hellhole they called office. I just want to dance.”

“Stop using the puppy eyes, you know they don't work on me!”

But they do, and really well, and Jongin knows. He bats his eyelashes and for a split moment they're seven and six years old again and Jongin is begging Sehun to forgive him for breaking his toy broomstick after he tried to use it as a bat for a Quidditch game with Wendy. Sehun forgave him back then and he will forgive him this time too, he just knows. He wouldn't even be too angry at Jongin, if his friend hadn't kept this from him.

“I would've told you Sehunnie, I swear. During Christmas holidays. As soon as you came back home and Zitao came back from the training camp and your phones started to work again I would've texted you. You must believe me, Sehunnie.”

“Ok, ok!” Sehun sighs and his head collapses on the table. “You're still my best friend, but that dye job is awful and I'm not forgiving you for keeping this from me until you get rid of it.”

Wonshik is still working at some diner on the other side of the city and they won't be able to meet him tonight. It’s a pity, Sehun hasn’t seen him in months, but Taemin manages to make up for his absence with coffee accompanied by some apparently burnt muffins that actually taste like heaven.

“Wonshik baked them this afternoon before leaving for the night shift at the restaurant. I'm not the best cook of the house,” he says with a shrug and an apologetic smile, “but at least I'm better than Jongin. I don’t know where you two secretive bastards grew up but it must have been far away from civilization because he doesn’t even know how the gas stove works.”

“And I have no intention to learn,” mutters Jongin, rolling his eyes in annoyance.

“When will you tell me your secret, guys? I've talked with your friend Ilhoon and he's even stranger than you two put together - and I must say that in the past four year you two have said quite the strangest things. He asked me why the pics in the newspaper weren't moving and if the television is the Muggle version of a crystal ball.” Ilhoon tries to make himself as small as possible while Sehun internally takes a note to strangle him when they're out of here. He had one job.

“Come on, what are you?”

“We belong to a really secret cult,” says Jongin in a conspiratorial tone. Taemin laughs and shakes his head. “One day you will tell me the truth, my friend,” and he goes to do the dishes.

“One day I really will have to and then the Office of Misinformation will have my head,” says Jongin, shaking his head, once Taemin is gone.

“I thought the rules couldn't be applied in cases of love relationships.”

This time Jongin blushes violently, his face assuming the same lovely color of his hair, just a few tones brighter. “Fucking Taemin doesn't count as a love relationship. We're single men with needs and no girlfriend.”

“Taemin is the only girl you'll ever need and Wonshik, the crazy bastard, just wants you to make an honest woman out of him.” Well, Taemin doesn't really look like a woman anymore. Gone are the times when he would call Jongin in tears because someone at school made fun of his girly face and Jongin would fly to London on his broomstick just to punch the bastard in the face. Now Taemin really looks like a man, but Jongin still watches him like he's seeing Lady Morgana coming out of the Lake just to smile at him.

Jongin punches him on the shoulder and it hurts like a Stupefy but Sehun has made him blush and this is a day to be proud of, something to tell his nephews when he’ll be old and wrinkly. Jongin punches him again, this time harder, just to make sure it hurts.

“The Knight bus will be here any moment now.”

Ilhoon and Taemin have become friends enough for Taemin to teach Ilhoon how to do a brofist, Baymax version, and that's how they say goodbye. Sehun just waves. He won't be able to visit them during Christmas holidays - Jongin's parents are still looking for him and it's better not to risk being followed until his friend's new house - but they'll figure something out as soon as he can use his phone again.

Before they leave, Jongin approaches him, almost shyly.

“Thank you for understanding, Sehun. It really means a lot to me.”

“Thank you for doing what you did,” he replies. “You know, I've thought a lot about my future. My parents wants me to enter the Wizengamot and I don't know if it's the right thing for me. Thank you for teaching me that there's another choice.”

“Whatever you choose, remember that in the long run it will be what you do for the rest of your life, so choose wisely Sehunnie, ok?”

Jongin's pats are always too hard and he almost sends Sehun to the floor.

“See you soon guys!” Ilhoon screams, waving like crazy as they leave. Sehun simply mouths a “Goodbye, losers!” and they're back in the streets, and the Knight Bus has almost run over them.

“Are you sure this thing is safe? My mom said not to take the Knight Bus bec-”

They leave with a yank and finally, for Sehun's great joy, Ilhoon ends up with his face on the ground.

xi. sehun&minseok

December 23rd

The Lake shines a thousand lights, candles floating in the air, magic fires that the sharp cold of December cannot extinguish. Jinri knew what she was doing when she left Hoseok in charge of the decorations.

There are so many students. It should've been a party for Minseok, but everyone got invited and the whole school can be found partying on the shores of the Black Lake. Sehun catches a glimpse of Taehyung and Sooyoung, spinning on the dance floor, barefoot. She wears a pale blue dress that twirls around them at every step and she's good enough to make up for Taehyung's still consistent limp. At the buffet table, Jungkook stares at Jimin and sighs, wishing he had the courage to ask him to dance. Even a tipsy Ren has finally managed to separate Seulgi and Wendy to ask the latter a dance. “Only one though,” warns him Seulgi. Left without a companion, she turns around to look for one and Sehun quickly disappears before she can drag him to the dance floor. She would do it on purpose just to see him fumbling awkwardly and mock him. The more Sehun knows her, the more Sehun thinks she should’ve been a Slytherin because she’s the devil.

Hoseok is dancing with Jinri and Youngjae has collapsed on a chair complaining that balls are more tiring than Quidditch practice. Next to him, both Minzy and Suzy laugh of his lack of stamina. But the crowns for the most surprising couple go to Ilhoon and little Yerim. He doesn't seem to care that the whole Slytherin House is ready to kill him if he doesn't behave in the most gentlemanly way. He makes her spin and she laughs like crazy, and he doesn’t even notice the way she steps on his foot sometimes.

“Shall we dance, Sehun?”

He turns towards Minseok, looking amazing in his dragon leather jacket and with styled hair. He looks younger than a teacher and older than a student. He looks free.

“I don't know how to dance and you're still my teacher.”

“I've danced with Suzy and Jinri, why not with you too?”

Sehun doesn't answer. He grabs Minseok's hand and walks with him along the shore. The waves lap against the sand, licking at their feet. It's not cold enough to freeze, but Sehun knows that when the classes will start again in January, half of the Black Lake will be frozen and the Giant Squid will wrap itself against the wall of Slytherin's dorms to benefit of their warmth until spring.

When the lights of the party disappears, they sit on the shore and Minseok summons a magic fire to keep them warm. Its violet light hits his face, giving his features a gentle glow, and Sehun wants to kiss him so badly.

He watches the horizon instead, trying to distinguish Hogsmeade's lights on the other side of the Black Lake.

“When are you leaving?”

“Tomorrow, with the rest of you students. I'll take the Hogwarts Express to King's Cross and I'll go home from there.”

“I will miss you.”

“Don't be cheesy, it's just for three days.”

They've already talked about this. Minseok will go back to university when the new semester begins, but he's planning to spend his Christmas holidays traveling around Europe. Greece, Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Austria. Sehun wonders if it's really possible to visit all these places in only two weeks. Soon he will know for sure, because he's going with Minseok. Two weeks, only for the two of them, a new beginning.

“Did you talk with Professor Kim yesterday?”

It takes a moment to Sehun to understand that Minseok is talking about Professor Kangin, his career counsellor.

“Yes, I did.”

“Have you decided what you'll do?”

Sehun nods. “I will study to become a wizard lawyer and I'll try to enter the Wizengamot, just like my parents want,” Minseok's expression is carefully neutral and Sehun feels the need to explain, “but without their help.” He pauses, taking his breath. “I've always felt like everyone around me had a dream and I didn't. I've spent a lot of sleepless nights wondering what kind of life I will live after I graduate. I didn't want to live a cold, empty life. I wanted to do something important, I just didn't know what yet.”

“Did you find it? Your dream?”

“I'm not sure. I'm still looking for it, but maybe I'm on the right track. I want the power to change things. This year, for the first time, I tried to change my life and I realized that to do it I had to change my attitude first. But it will take more than a few months to convince everyone of my change. I'm perfectly aware that people expect me to reach an important position at the Ministry in a few years just because I'm rich and my family is very influential, and I want to show them that I can do it on my own. I want to show them that they're wrong.”

Now Minseok is openly smiling and he's so proud. Sehun hopes he can catch the spark of this smile and lock it under a glass bell, so that he can always look at it again in his memories every time he feels like it's too hard and he can't do it. There will be hard times for him and he knows that once his parents realize that he's not their puppet anymore they will try to make him fail, so that he can go back to them with his tail between his legs, like a kicked puppy. He can't allow that to happen.

“I want to do things my own way. I want to stand on my legs,” he continues, “because I know what my parents' help will cost me. My freedom, my dreams...” You. “Maybe one day they will understand. I will show them, the same way I want to show everyone else, what kind of person I can be.”

He hopes these are not only empty words. He wants them to turn into solid truths.

“It will be hard and difficult. Sometimes, you'll regret not choosing the easy way out.”

“Then be with me and help me make the right choice.”

Minseok scoffs. “Stop saying this cool things and look at the time, brat.”

It's midnight.

“Oh,” he says. It's midnight and Minseok has just lost his job. And suddenly he's so close to Sehun, their breaths mingling, Sehun's hair falling on Minseok's forehead. It would take so little, a slight tilt of their heads, for their lips to meet, finally.

“I'm a free man, so come here and kiss me.”

Sehun closes his eyes and the distance between them.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

A/N: let me thank my brave Poh for the neverending help, Ash for listening to my nightly, mindless bst/rv ramblings, Silvia for crying bc they barely kissed and everyone who supported me. I love you all.
Also, this fic is xiuhun centered but also features a lot of non EXO characters from other kpop bands. If you are curious this is the list, in no particular order: Red Velvet’s Wendy, Seulgi, Joy and Yeri; NU’EST’s Ren; f(x)’s Krystal, and former member Sulli; Girls Generation’s Sunny and former member Jessica; BAP’s Youngjae and Zelo; BTOB’s Ilhoon; BTS’ V, Jimin, J-Hope and Jungkook; SHINee’s Taemin (and a mention of Key); VIXX’s Ravi; Super Junior’s Kangin; 2NE1’s Minzy; Miss A’s Suzy and of course, EXO former members Kris and Tao.

boy diaper cake

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