Title: Hufflepuffs Are Not Puppies, Feel Free To Kick
Summary: Seriously. Hufflepuffs
Word count: 941
Rodney had never particularly liked Hogsmeade. It was always crowded and loud and filled with frivolous storefronts. Except for Honeydukes, and the lure of candy was usually the only thing that ever drove him off the castle grounds and over the hill.
Unfortunately, that was not always the case. Right then, deep in the din of the Three Broomsticks, he was caught up in an incredibly uncomfortable date with Katie Brown, and he had no idea how he’d gotten there.
Oh, he had the details down, of course. She’d asked, and he’d stammered some approximation of an affirmative, because no one had ever asked him before. Sheppard would waggle empty boxes of chocolate frogs at him, and Cadman would shove him out the door with her abnormally strong grip, but there’d never been a “Rodney, will you...?” involved, and he’d been so, so flabbergasted by the Hufflepuff’s gall (yes, the gall of the girl!) he’d been completely unable to say no.
And when he looked at her, really looked at her, she was actually very pretty. Sweet-faced and dainty, and Rodney had to keep reminding himself that she was a Hufflepuff and off-limits and he was in love with Sheppard, anyway.
Not that Sheppard had given him anything at all past that promising grin weeks before. He was beginning to think he’d imagined that whole moment.
Katie smiled at him tentatively across the table, and suddenly Rodney thought he might just throw up, and he said, “Um, I’m just going to. I’ll be back,” jumping to his feet and making his way towards the front of the pub, pushing past the crush of students and stumbling out into the frosty winter air.
His breath was shallow and uneven, face hot, and he scrubbed a hand over his forehead.
Rodney jerked his head up. “Sheppard.”
Sheppard’s outer robes were parted despite the snowy weather, hands stuffed in his pockets, scarf looped loosely around his neck. Ford was hovering behind him, stuffing sour gummies in his mouth, and Lorne had Grodin in a headlock, staggering into the side of the building, urging the laughing boy to cry uncle.
“Everything okay there, buddy?” Sheppard asked, grinning.
“Oh yeah,” Rodney managed. “Everything’s peachy.” He was just busy having a public panic attack, sweaty and nauseous, and the only thing that could make the moment even more perfect would be if Katie came out looking for him, and really he was just asking for it with a thought like that.
“Rodney?” Katie peeked out the door, brown eyes shining with concern. She was like a fluffy little puppy, liquid-eyed and eager to please.
Sheppard flicked his gaze between them (grin growing wider, the bastard) but then he at least had the decency to step forward and place a hand on Rodney’s arm, turning towards Katie with a, “Sorry, Katie, but Rodney’s not feeling that great. I’m just gonna get him back to the castle, okay?”
“Oh. Okay,” Katie said, voice small. Her eyes were still friendly, though (seriously. Hufflepuffs) and she nodded at Rodney. “Maybe another time.”
“Sure, uh. Yes,” Rodney said, and then barely resisted the urge to slap himself in the face. He felt Sheppard shaking with silent laughter against his side.
“I’m glad you’re finding this so amusing,” Rodney hissed as Sheppard pulled Rodney along, down the path that led to the carriages.
Sheppard’s silent laughter finally spilled past his lips in little chuckles. “Rodney,” he said, “your face. I mean, are you scared of her?”
“No,” Rodney said stiffly, pausing in the middle of the path and yanking his arm out of Sheppard’s grip.
Sheppard’s eyes were sparkling. “Why were you even with—”
“She asked me,” Rodney cut in, angry and slightly hurt. “And she apparently actually likes me, and even though I’m going to go out of my way to avoid her now, since I can’t seem to tell her no, and she’s a Hufflepuff and clearly an inappropriate choice for a girlfriend, it was nice.”
“Nice,” Sheppard echoed, brows arching with skepticism.
“To be asked,” Rodney clarified. Not the actual date part. That had been a nightmare, obviously.
“Rodney, you know I.” Sheppard cut himself off and palmed the back of his neck, ducking his head.
Rodney crossed his arms over his chest. “What?”
Sheppard sighed, shrugged a little, grinned and said, “Come on,” tugging on Rodney’s arm again.
Rodney scowled at him, refusing to budge. “No, what?”
“I just.” Sheppard seemed nervous, shifty, then he took a deep breath and did an over-exaggerated eye-roll, and stepped forward to cage Rodney’s face between his hands.
His palms were cold against Rodney’s cheeks, and Rodney automatically jerked backwards, ‘til just the tips of Sheppard’s fingers were touching his jaw line, and then Sheppard’s face was close, closer, lips parting over his, and warmth bloomed in from his ears.
Rodney’s hands came up to grab Sheppard’s scarf, robes, stunned practically breathless, and the kiss was almost-chaste and dry and over-too-fast, but Sheppard was obviously very pleased with himself, bouncing a little in place when he pulled away.
Sheppard said, “I didn’t think I had to.”
Rodney blinked, fingers clenching and unclenching in the thick material of Sheppard’s robes. “Had to what?”
One forefinger rubbed along the jut of Rodney’s chin. “Ask.”
“Oh, um.” Rodney swallowed.
Sheppard grinned again. “So you probably shouldn’t date anyone else.”
“Not date,” Rodney said dumbly, staring into Sheppard’s eyes, at the laughter overlaid with warm affection. He felt a little numb, slow, but Sheppard slipped a hand down to curl around his, lacing their fingers together.
“Come on,” he said, grip squeezing, and Rodney went.
Title: The More You Get, The More You Have
Summary: Rodney was sort of miserable all by himself.
Word count: 654
Rodney always stayed at Hogwarts for the holidays, because he generally hated his family (with the small exception of Jeannie, but seeing Jeannie wasn’t worth the horror of witnessing their parents scream at each other over the dinner table), and he liked the near-empty corridors, common room, library, and dorm for the brief period over break. He liked waking up alone, with Marm heavy and warm on his chest, and he liked staying up late, all his candles lit, enjoying his entire room without anyone there to complain.
John usually stayed, too, unless his dad insisted he go home. And, of course, just when Rodney was getting exactly what he wanted, John’s dad insisted he go home. His maternal Muggle grandparents were clamoring for a look at him.
John, despite his tendency to lean into him (he insisted it wasn’t snuggling), wasn’t big on public displays of affection or goodbyes of any sort, so when the carriages pulled up to escort everyone down to the station, he clasped Rodney’s arm briefly, said, “So long,” and told Rodney to write.
It was only for two weeks. Rodney could handle it.
He constrained himself to writing John every other day; long-winded rants about everything from the food (actually quite good), being forced to sit with Ravenclaws (and their dead stares, since they were clearly all zombies with phenomenal memorizing capabilities), how much he missed Professor Abbott (who’d gone home with that Bulstrode woman to celebrate Christmas), and how the Muggle Studies teacher (one of the Black line, who used to be an Auror, apparently, until she’d become obsessed with Muggle television) kept trying to talk to him about the States, and how Quidditch in the States wasn’t really Quidditch, and never mind the fact that Rodney was Canadian, and couldn’t care less about anything that was coming out of her mouth.
After the fourth Owl (three feet in small, cramped scrawl bemoaning stray, lonely First Years with big eyes and Professor Tonks’ habit of sneak-attacking him in his lab with a squawky, “Wotcher, Rodney!”), John finally wrote back:
Is she a Hufflepuff?
Rodney nearly snorted out his pumpkin juice.
He immediately set his quill to parchment with a scathing, Oh, you’re hilarious, Sheppard, and launched into a detailed deconstruction of the latest DeLuise novel Sheppard had left under his pillow (with the note Vampires, Rodney! and three little smiley faces) that surprisingly only took up a foot of space, and then ended with:
Trapped with Muggles as you are, I’d appreciate an update on your wellbeing, so perhaps you could aim for three sentences in your reply. We’ll work our way up from there.
The next day at noon, Rodney got:
I’m fine, Rodney. They’re even feeding me. Does this count?
Rodney normally didn’t mind John’s natural laconism, but there was a huge difference between terse Owls (not exactly the most expedient form of correspondence) and having John there, grinning at him, bearing his lengthy soliloquies with affection and interest and amusement and. Honestly, what it boiled down to was that John had a much more substantive presence in his everyday life now that they were regularly making out.
Rodney was sort of miserable all by himself.
At dinner, he curved an arm over his parchment to keep Professor Tonks from reading it upside down (which she was blatantly craning her neck to do) and it took him nearly twenty minutes to settle on, simply, I miss you, and another fifteen to bolster enough courage to seal and send it.
He got back a ridiculous Muggle postcard of an orange cat that looked almost exactly like Marm, wearing a tiny red bowtie and a tiny bowler hat and a tiny mustache, holding a tiny rose in its obviously very fake front paw. On the flipside, John wrote See you in three days, with the three days underlined twice.
Rodney was pretty sure that meant he missed him, too.
Title: If A Job's Worth Doing, It's Worth Paying Someone Else To Do It
Summary: So essentially he needed to apologize to John.
Word count: 1185
There were certain things that Rodney just didn’t bother with: learning names, talking to Hufflepuffs, listening to arguably intelligent authority figures. The first was why they invented nicknames, Cadman admirably fielded the second, and the third more often than not got him relegated to detention. Which was horrible and often sweat-inducing, but a small price to pay for being able to speak his mind.
Dating John, however, meant calling Miko Miko, and having civil conversations with Ford, and playing nice with John’s favorite teacher, who’d developed a camaraderie with the Gryffindor that Rodney was incredibly leery of. Professor Weasley was old. Well, forties or something. His parents’ age, at any rate, and John honestly shouldn’t be having such raucous conversations with the professor outside of class (he could hear them laughing all the way down the hall and around the corner). Also, the werewolf speculations didn’t exactly do anything to ease Rodney’s mind.
Much to his dismay, while Rodney could still sneer and smirk and glare at Professor Weasley, he couldn’t outright insult him. The professor didn’t even seem to care, really, except John would get quietly disappointed, and that never failed to make Rodney feel like an utter shit.
But then Rodney accidentally murmured, “Pervert,” within John’s hearing after hauling him out of the Great Hall and away from the professor (who’d been, as far as Rodney could surmise, telling Goblin tales and patently false stories about breaking curses in Egypt) and John got huffy and pouted at him, and that’s when Rodney realized Professor Weasley totally wasn’t the pervert in that scenario.
“Oh my god, you have a crush on him, don’t you?” Rodney snapped, rounding on him once they were in the corridor.
John’s pout deepened. “No.”
“You do! You so completely do! I can’t believe this!”
“Stop shouting, Rodney,” John hissed, slapping a hand over his mouth and glancing anxiously over his shoulder towards the half-open Great Hall doors.
Rodney mumbled, “This constitutes cheating,” against John’s palm, glowering. It wasn’t exactly a coherent mumble, but John seemed to get the gist of it.
Rodney pried John’s fingers just low enough to growl, “Cheating,” and, god, he was hurt. Tiny, aching pangs in his chest.
John’s grip loosened, lips pressed together, fingers curled against Rodney’s, and then Rodney dropped John’s hand completely and walked away.
Later, it was highly disconcerting for Rodney to figure out that he didn’t love John any less, and that it was all just really stupid, anyhow, since Professor Weasley was married (according to Cadman, at least, who’d berated him quite soundly for effectively dumping John, although, really, he totally hadn’t) and twice their age, and it was a silly, unreciprocated crush. Like Rodney’s on Professor Abbott. Only apparently more intense, since Rodney never actually sought her company outside of class, and never laughed at every single thing she said, but then thinking that made Rodney think about John’s laugh, and how much he sounded like a donkey when it was genuine enough, and how John never sounded like a donkey around Professor Weasley, so.
So essentially he needed to apologize to John.
Rodney had never apologized to John before. He hardly ever apologized for anything, really (except for when John made him) and he’d always been entirely too infatuated with John to do anything to him that would actually require an apology, so he was pretty much at a loss.
He briefly pondered getting Chuck to do it for him. Cadman told him to man up, though, and smacked the back of his head, and he figured this was something he needed to do himself. Damn it.
The first step in damage control, Rodney realized, was braving the Gryffindor common room.
Gryffindors were never particularly inviting towards Rodney during the best of times (a feeling Rodney mutually fostered, of course) and they seemed especially hostile now that Rodney had (allegedly) broken John’s heart.
Rodney was fully willing to protest that point, except when Lorne and Elliot finally let him through the portrait hole he found a really, really angry-looking John. Somehow, he hadn’t been prepared for that.
His mouth was tight, and his eyes were dark and narrowed, and his hands were fisted against his sides, as if he was trying very, very hard not to punch Rodney in the head. Rodney and his delicate constitution appreciated his restraint.
“Can I, uh, talk to you for a moment?” Rodney managed, worrying his tie. “Without the unwashed masses, perhaps?”
John wordlessly pushed him back out the portrait hole, stepping out into the hall behind him, then standing rigidly against the stone wall. And John standing rigidly when he could’ve easily lounged was kind of scary and wrong and made Rodney’s throat dry.
“So,” Rodney said, and since John was staring straight at him, expression unmoved, Rodney decided that the painting over John’s shoulder was really quite fascinating. Excellent use of colors, even if the gnarled old coot in the boat was making faces at him.
John tapped his foot.
“So,” Rodney started again, “apparently I was irrationally jealous—”
“And an ass.”
“And an ass, righ—now hold on, I wasn’t—”
“Okay, fine,” Rodney harrumphed, tipping his chin up. “I didn’t come here to argue with you.”
And then John said, “You came here to apologize,” just as Rodney went, “I came here to—wait, what?” startled into catching John’s eyes.
John arched a pissy eyebrow at him.
Rodney was stuck between irritation at John’s presumptuousness and genuine fear that if John already knew he was going to apologize, then why the hell had he been so angry to see him? It led Rodney to believe that John might not want to forgive him at all, and if that was the case, Rodney would’ve preferred not to have broached the subject to begin with.
It was a little late for second thoughts, though, and Rodney said, “Just. Give me a minute,” and shifted his feet and dropped his gaze to the Gryffindor crest on John’s robes. John’s chest barely moved, and Rodney wondered idly if he was holding his breath.
Finally, Rodney took a deep breath and said in a rush, “I was jealous, and I shouldn’t have been, because Professor Weasley is old and decrepit and entirely too ginger,” he waved a hand, “but that doesn’t matter now, and you should know that I wouldn’t actually ever hurt you on purpose, and I’m sorry.”
Silence. He’d probably pushed it with the decrepit bit, but then he sensed the way John’s entire body relaxed, like he hadn’t really believed Rodney was going to follow through with it, and been bracing himself for disappointment. That might’ve explained the anger, too.
Then John prompted, “About?” and Rodney recognized that lazy tone, the slightly teasing amusement, and he snapped, “Oh, for god’s sake, you know,” and John, smiling that smile he only smiled for him (the one that could’ve landed him in Hufflepuff, really, if he hadn’t had the good sense to use it so judiciously), bumped Rodney’s shoulder with a fist.
“Yeah,” he said. “I know.”