Light rain put an end to Regulus' Hogsmeade visit. Never mind that he and Daphne had hoods on their coats to protect them. Never mind that the shops were all warm and inviting. Never mind that Regulus had yet to visit either of his favourite shops. Daphne wanted to return to the school and allowing her to go alone was not an option. Regulus thought her desire to leave had less to do with the rain and more to do with James' insults towards her.
The two made their way back towards the school—Regulus carried her bags like a gentleman, of course—and headed for the dungeons. Once inside the common room, Daphne insisted she needed to change out of her wet clothes and left Regulus to tend to himself for a while. The boy was thankful for a few moments of peace and trekked to his room to put away his purchases.
His bed was the neater of the two in the dormitory. There had only been two boys Sorted into Slytherin his year and try as he might, he'd never been able to bond with his roommate. It wasn't as though he particularly disliked Declan St. James, but Regulus was in to Quidditch, literature, and preferred to keep his surroundings tidy. His roommate, on the other hand, was constantly tracking dirt cross the floor and trying to sneak exotic animals into the room—as though Regulus could not hear them in the middle of the night. They'd established long ago that the idea of being friends was a little farfetched and since then, kept completely to themselves.
Regulus dropped his bags onto his bed and immediately hung up his new coat. He actually liked it, even though it was a bit too formal for every day wear. Despite Daphne's pushy nature about it, she did let the boy have a say in his choice. It was the scarves that made him feel shame. He'd purchased two: the blue one that Daphne picked out and the purple stripped one that James had chosen. He wasn't sure which scarf made him more pathetic.
The boy tucked both scarves into his trunk and shed his slightly damp robes. The sound of his name being called from down the hallway pulled Regulus out of the dormitory and back to his waiting girlfriend. And though his body and conversation were with Daphne through the day, while they had tea, while they discussed Genoa, while they finished their History essays, his mind and wishes were back at Hogsmeade. He wished he'd taken his brother's offer, he wished he'd been brave enough to tell Daphne that he didn't want to come back to school with her.
But what would he have said? He couldn't exactly tell Daphne that he'd rather spend the day with his brother than her. Things were already so complicated. She was already making comments about how much their classmates were kissing and sneaking around. Regulus wanted to be respectful...so far, she'd believed that, or pretend to at least. How much could he expect her to believe though? Any sign of wavering interest in his girlfriend could mean the end of him. People would talk. People would point fingers. People would know.
Or maybe they wouldn't. Maybe the entire school would pass it off as just another typical breakup and not a single eye would bat at the situation. Regulus couldn't risk it. He already felt like he walked around school with a giant neon arrow flashing above his head. Every time someone looked at him in the hallways his mind raced. Do they know? Can they tell? What if I can't keep hiding it?
“Regulus, are you listening to me?”
Daphne's voice pulled the boy from his musings. “What? Sorry, I must have gotten lost in thought or something. What did you say?”
“I asked if you were ready for dinner.”
“Yes, I am.” Regulus got to his feet and held out his hand for the blonde. “Come on.”
As the two made their way to the Great Hall, they couldn't help but notice the soggy students headed back from Hogsmeade. The rain had only gotten worse since they left the village and it persisted through the night, leaving a layer of damp over all of the Hogwarts grounds.
The clouds threatened a new shower the following morning, much to the Gryffindor Quidditch team's sorrow. James promised the lot a short practice. He didn't like flying in the rain anymore than they did. As the potential shower began to look more and more promising, James reigned in the team and dismissed them. The last thing he wanted was lightening coming down while they were on the Pitch. The Captain lingered behind, as he always did, to make sure the changing room was cleared. After the final Gryffindor left, James gathered up his bag and started for the exit.
A flash of movement caught James' eye right when he reached the changing room door. He peeked out just in time to see a figure disappear inside the Slytherin changing rooms. The boy hurried after the unknown person, holding his hands over his head to shield himself from the heavy raindrops that were coming down, and ducked into the changing room. “You're not allowed to be in – Oh!”
Regulus whirled around at the sound of James' voice and put his hand to his chest. “You scared me.”
“Sorry.” James put his eyes to the ground and backed towards the door. “I thought you were an intruder or...something.”
“We've taken to locking the changing room after that unfortunate incident with the Hufflepuff team.” Regulus put on a cheeky grin and started searching through his Quidditch bag. “You heard about that, right? Entire team painted in crimson and gold.”
“Yeah...yeah, I heard something about that.” James rubbed the back of his neck and chuckled. “Rather unfortunate. Can never be too careful these days.”
“No, you can't.” The younger boy looked over at James and smiled.
James met his eyes for a moment and quickly turned his back on the Slytherin. He hated how easily he could get pulled in to the situation with Regulus. He didn't want to be rude and just take off without another word...actually he didn't want to take off at all. He wanted to stay and talk and laugh and enjoy the short time he had with Regulus. But he knew he shouldn't. James knew that he should walk out of the door and not say a word. “So what are you doing down here? Early practice?” He felt weak.
“No, I'm looking for my Charms book. I've checked the whole dormitory and common room. I was hoping that I left it down here, but no such luck.” Regulus chewed his bottom lip, wondering why James was so averse to looking at him. “Everything alright?”
“You...sure?” Regulus twisted his hands and moved closer to the older boy.
James turned around to face the Slytherin and flinched at how much closer he'd gotten. “I'm sure. I should probably go.” He thumbed over his shoulder but made no advances to leave. He could practically feel the younger boy watching him. He knew better than to look into his eyes, he'd be done for, same as every time before. He stared at the floor, the ceiling, the bags across the room, Regulus' shoes, Regulus' shirt, Regulus' scarf...Regulus' purple stripped scarf! “You bought it.” He reached out without thinking and brushed his fingers along the edge of the scarf.
Regulus instantly flushed red. “Um...well you are the expert. I couldn't exactly ignore your advice.”
“Wise decision.” James' mind was no longer in control of his actions—his sane mind at least. He grabbed onto both ends of the boy's scarf and pulled him closer. “You wear it well.” The smile on Regulus' face was almost too adorable. James laughed quietly and continued to pull the younger boy towards him. “I didn't mean to make your girlfriend so mad.”
“It's alright. She got over it.” The young boy was sure his heart had stopped beating ages ago. He didn't understand why James was holding onto his scarf, he didn't understand why James was pulling him closer, he certainly didn't understand why James was wearing such a big smile. For a moment, Regulus was sure he had fallen asleep. How many dreams had he gone through like that? Him, James, alone in the changing rooms, the playful banter, the slow advancing towards each other, next would come the kiss, and then he'd open his eyes to find that he was still tangled in his own bedsheets.
A loud rumble of thunder sounded in the distance and James instinctively stepped towards Regulus, blocking him for the boy's protection. He whipped his head towards the door and put one hand on the boy's upper arm as if he were comforting him from some false threat. “It's really starting to come down out there.” He frowned at how wavering his voice was. The sound of the rain picked up, matching the manic speed of James' heartbeats. “We should get back to the school before it gets too bad.” He rubbed both his hands down Regulus' arms and let out a nervous laugh.
“We could always stay here.” Regulus' words were barely audible. He peeked up at James and bit down lightly on his bottom lip. His hands ran along the openings of James' coat and his fingers closed around the edges. “Until the rain stops.”
“You really want to be stuck in here with me? I'm a dreadful pain in the arse when I get bored.” James grinned down at Regulus and let his eyes fall onto the boy's lips. What had Sirius said? You can't date my brother, James...nothing about kissing him. James paled at the thought. When had he allowed himself to start thinking that way? When had he decided that kissing Regulus was something he even wanted to do? But in that moment, there was nothing he wanted more.
Regulus licked his lips mindlessly and tightened his hold on the edges of James' coat. “I guess I'll have to make sure you don't get bored then.” Where had that come from? It was like his brain and his mouth weren't working in synch any longer. And then, all he could think about was his mouth. And James' mouth. And James' lips. And James' lips on his own lips. He could feel his skin tingling at the mere thought of kissing the older boy. Yes, it was something he'd dreamed about, wished for, longed for, but never in his wildest imaginings did he ever think it possible. But James was so close. So very close.
The approaching storm sent another crack of thunder echoing through the changing room, but neither boy cared any longer. The storm, the thunder, the flash of lightening just outside the doorway, none of that mattered. James smoothed his hands up Regulus' arms and moved closer to him. He tried to cut off his own frantic breathing, afraid that he sounded like some exhausted animal. He met the younger boy's eyes and rubbed his lips together. He could see worry—maybe fear—reflected in the Slytherin's gaze. Or maybe it was his own insecurities mirroring back at him. James had never kissed anyone before and he felt ignorant. He was older. He was supposed to know what to do.
Regulus wanted to throw his arms around James' neck and take every drop of affection he could get. He kept thinking on all the couples he'd seen kissing around the common room over the years. He didn't know if he could kiss like that. What if James expected him to kiss like that? What if the moment their lips touched, James realized how immature and inexperienced Regulus was and walked away from him? What if it was awful? What if he was awful? The Slytherin let out a shaky breath and twisted his hands over James' coat. He was terrified. Even more, he could see that James was terrified. The boy felt his stomach turn and clenched his teeth together.
James squeezed the younger boy's shoulders and tried to speak, but only silence emerged from between his parted lips. He didn't know what to do, how to start, where to put his hands, if he should take off his glasses. Was kissing meant to be so bloody difficult?! The Gryffindor pulled his hands away from Regulus' mildly shivering body and dragged his fingers back through his hair. He closed his eyes and dropped his head to the floor.
“I'm sorry.” Regulus jerked his hands away from the older boy's coat and turned his back on him. “I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to.”
“I'm sorry!” The younger boy rubbed his hands down his face and made a beeline straight for the door.
“No, Regulus wait.” James tried to catch the boy's arm, but Regulus was too quick for him. He watched the boy vanish from the changing room, another flash of lightening illuminating his escaping form. He couldn't just let Regulus run off that way. James tore out of the changing room and into the pounding rain. The drops were fierce and each one felt like a sting to his face and neck. But he wasn't going to give up. “Regulus, stop!” He charged ahead, easily gaining on the younger boy, and grabbed his shoulders. “Please, stop.”
“I'm sorry.” Regulus' body went weak under James' touch. He turned around at the older boy's guidance and looked up into his eyes. He could barely make out the soft hazel behind James' rain streaked lenses, but he could tell the boy was not angry with him.
James wanted to say something comforting, but there were no words to explain how he felt. He didn't even know how he felt at that moment. There was only one thing he was sure of and it was that he wanted to kiss Regulus. He put his hands around the younger boy's neck and pulled him closer. James didn't think. He didn't over analyze. He didn't try to make things perfect. He just let his body be the guide.
The older boy crashed his lips against Regulus' and closed his eyes. Regulus was shivering and his knees near gave out at the contact. He instantly forgot about the fear and the insecurities. He slid his arms around James' neck for support and leaned up into the kiss. It was rough and messy and their teeth clicked together more than once. It tasted of faint cigarette smoke from James' pre-practice sneak and mint from the gum he'd used to conceal it from his teammates.
Regulus parted his lips and yearned for more. He pushed one hand into the older boy's hair and held him in their kiss. He feared if he let James go now, he'd never experience it again. They were freezing. The rain felt like ice against their skin as it continued to shower them. James' hands shook violently as he grabbed the front of Regulus' coat and pulled him closer. And the kiss continued, despite the cold, despite the escalating thunder, until they were both shivering so hard they couldn't take it any longer.
James pulled away with a halted breath and laid his forehead against Regulus'. “So...cold.” He tried to laugh, but the temperature made it painful.
The younger boy reluctantly pulled his hand away from James' hair and clung to the boy's chest. “You kissed me.”
James grabbed onto Regulus' coat sleeves and started tugging him back towards the Slytherin changing room. “Yes, I did. And if you get out of the damn rain...I'll do it again.” He half-shoved the younger boy into the changing room and shook himself off as he stepped in after. “I feel like I'm frozen!” The boy bent over and shook the water out of his hair, then shrugged back out of his soaked coat. He tossed it over onto a bench and grabbed the front of Regulus'. “You'll freeze in this.” He pushed the boy's coat back from his shoulders, letting it fall to the floor with an uncaring thud.
Regulus shook his wet hair out of his eyes and stared at the ground. “You kissed me.”
“I see you've mastered that sentence. Now for the next one,” James teased. He unwound the soaked scarf from around Regulus' neck and laid it over the nearest bench.
“I'm just having a little trouble believing it, is all.” The younger boy laughed nervously and rubbed his hands together. “Gods it's cold.”
“Well we wouldn't be so cold if you hadn't run off into the bloody rain.” James laughed and grabbed a green towel from the rack beside the doors leading to the showers.
“I was scared. And you were...I thought you were mad.”
The older boy pursed his lips and stood behind Regulus. “I wasn't mad.” He rubbed the towel against the back of the boy's neck and up through the back of his hair. “I was...scared too.” He bit his bottom lip and kept rubbing Regulus' neck with the towel until the younger boy turned around. “It was my first kiss and I didn't know what to do.” He felt foolish with his honesty.
“It was my first kiss too.” Regulus took the towel from James' hands and moved behind him to return the favour.
“I've never kissed Daphne.” The Slytherin let his arms fall to his sides and tossed the towel over into their laundry bin. “I don't feel right when I'm with her.” He dropped onto one of the benches positioned by the wall and leaned back against it. “I've tried to. She is an amazing girl but I...I don't – I don't feel like I'm supposed to when I'm with her.”
James lowered himself onto the bench beside Regulus and turned to face him. “How do you think you're supposed to feel?”
Regulus met the older boy's eyes and pressed his lips tightly together. “Well...” he shifted on the bench and leaned towards James a little “...I don't – I didn't know. I was just waiting to feel right. Waiting to feel like I do...now. I wanted her to make me feel the way I do when I'm around you.” He released a breathy laugh and covered his head with his hands. “I'm sorry. I can't believe that I'm saying all of this to you. You must think I'm mental.”
“I don't. And don't apologize.” James pulled the boy's hands away from his head and held on to them tightly. “I've been kind of confused, myself, lately.”
“Because of me?”
“Because of you.” The boy nodded and stared down at their joined hands. He brushed his thumb over the top of Regulus' fingers and smiled. “I'm not really good at all of this emotional talking stuff.” He laughed and squeezed the boy's hands. “Mostly because I don't have a clue what I'm doing or how I feel or what I want.”
“We don't have to talk.” Regulus felt his face warm and gave the older boy a little smirk. “You did sort of offer me something if I came back in here.”
“I offered you something?” James put on an innocent face and looked towards the ceiling. “Wow, I don't remember offering you something. You might be a little mistaken. Are you sure?”
“Don't you play dumb with me, Potter.” Regulus tugged on the boy's hands, calling his eyes back. “Or maybe you're not playing.”
“Did you just call me dumb?” James gasped. “And Potter? Oh, you're in for it now, Black.”
“Is that a threat? I say, it's a rather lousy one. A bit vague.” The younger boy grinned and moved a little closer.
“But vague threats are the best because you never know what's coming.”
“Am I supposed to be afraid now?”
“Oh, you should be very afraid.” James laughed and got up on one knee.
Regulus bit his bottom lip and looked up at James with the sweetest, most innocent face he could manage. “I'm absolutely terrified.”
The older boy shook his head in amusement and tried to pull the overwhelmingly large smile off his lips. He rested his hands on the boy's neck and leaned down until they were so close he could feel Regulus' breath on his lips. “Are you terrified now?” he whispered.
“A little bit.” And he was a little bit terrified, but all the playful banter between them had done wonders for calming his nerves. They were right back to how things were over the summer. It was times like that one that caused Regulus to start having feelings for James in the first place. The boy grabbed on to the front of James' shirt and leaned up towards him, taking the initiative. He pressed his lips softly against the older boy's and smiled into the kiss.
A clap of thunder echoed loudly through the changing room, making James flinch. He rolled his eyes at his own skittishness and kissed Regulus once more. The lightening and thunder and incessant rain continued for well over an hour. Neither boy was in any hurry to get out of the changing room and it was rather disappointing when the time came to make their way back to the school.
Notes: The “kissing in the downpour” scenario was developed by Astoria Viana for her wild romance challenge.
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