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Story Notes:
There are times when Seamus really hates being such a good friend. If he was utter shite at it, he could have just told Dean to sod off when he broached the subject of actually returning to Hogwarts for their seventh year. Eighth year more like for those who had to endure their real seventh year also known as Year of Death Eater Hell. It’s easy for Dean, really, since he just had to be at Hogwarts during the final battle.

Sure, there are bad memories from that for any of them who were here fighting. Seamus won’t ever be able to forget seeing Colin lying so still and quiet alongside Fred, neither of them jumping up to laugh and say it was all a joke. He’s not likely to forget seeing Lavender lying in a puddle of blood with half her neck ripped open, either. There’s a reason he avoids eating meals in the Great Hall most days, and he’s not the only one who doesn’t.

But there are even worse things that happened during that year before Harry showed up to finally kill old Moldywarts. Not much worse than death, really, but Seamus figures it was worse since he had to endure the torture and pain for months. Had to deal with that Carrow bitch touching him in ways professors ain’t supposed to do. Had to deal with the constant fear for his family at the same time he was lying awake at night worrying about Dean and Harry and Ron and Hermione. Wasn’t easy living here then,and it’s too soon since to make it easier now that he’s back.

There are others who returned who know what it was like, though, and he can always find one of them when he feels particularly twitchy or upset. So what if he spends time with Neville, Corner, and Macmillan because they went through just about as much as he did, though maybe not as much since he’s always had a big mouth, and he never quite learned when to keep it shut. Carrow bitch tried teaching him that lesson, and he feels like he’s going to vomit just remembering it again.

“Are you alright, Seamus?”

Turning his head quickly, he doesn’t even realize he’s gone for his wand until Hermione’s taken a step back. “Didn’t hear yeh, Hermione. Sorry ‘bout that.” He puts his wand down and grins. “Something I can help yeh with, dollface?”

“I’m used to walking quietly now,” she says, the smile on her lips wry. “I should remember to make more noise now that we’re back here. And don’t call me dollface. Where did you even hear such a silly thing?”

“Muggle film. Dean and I had us a marathon over the summer. All these old films with men walking around chewing on cigars and calling women sexist names. Right bloody fun,” he tells her, winking when she rolls her eyes.

“Word of advice. If you use the adjective ‘sexist’ to describe them, they probably aren’t something to call women casually.” She shakes her head. “I didn’t want anything specific, by the way. I was just walking back to the dorm from the library and noticed you.”

“Aye. Yeh noticed meh, huh?” He smiles smugly. “I always knew yeh couldn’t resist getting a little Irish one of these days.” It never fails to amuse him how flustered she gets when someone gives her that sort of attention. She’s bloody beautiful and smarter than anyone he’s ever met, but a few flirtatious words and a wink make her blush and look so uncertain.

“You’re impossible,” she mutters finally, running her fingers through her wild hair before she tugs the strap of her bag more firmly on her shoulder. “Have you finished your essay for Charms?”

“Nope,” he says, making a popping sound at the end of the word. “Don’t reckon I bloody well care what the origin of the silencing charm is, ‘specially when I had to hear it so often last term.”

“Oh.” She looks down at their feet before glancing back up. Her voice is quieter when she asks, “Why’d you come back, Seamus?”

“Dean.” It’s a simple answer, really, but he knows it’s more complicated than that. She does, too, judging from the way she’s staring. “He wanted his NEWTs, since he doesn’t fancy being an auror with the whole pass offered by Shacklebolt. I considered it after spending those months working with Harry, Ron, and Nev, but it’s not for meh.” He doesn’t mention that he thinks it’d be too dangerous for him to go into that field because the anger is always there, just beneath his skin, and sometimes he scares himself with what he thinks about doing if he crosses paths with a dark wizard.

“Don’t you need your NEWTs, too?” she asks, and he realizes she’s stepped closer while they’re talking. Or maybe he has?

“Nah. I’m not clever like you or talented like Dean and Nev. I think I might end up working in a pub or maybe a kitchen. I like to cook,” he admits, feeling a little shy about discussing something he hasn’t even decided yet or told Dean about. “Course, who knows? Maybe I’ll just meet me a sexy old widow and become a kept boy.”

She doesn’t laugh the way he intends. Instead, she reaches out to squeeze his shoulder. “You’re smarter than you give yourself credit for being,” she tells him. “You’re also an amazing cook. I remember those biscuits you brought back to school during sixth year, after Christmas? They were delicious.”

“Yeh must ‘ave been studying too hard, Hermione. Think your brain is addled.” He smiles anyway because she actually remembers those biscuits. “I’ll bring yeh some more this year, if yeh want. What are your plans for the hols anyway?”

“I’m spending it with the Weasleys. My parents are gone, so there’s nowhere else, and Mrs. Weasley has been kind enough to include me,” she says. “I wasn’t sure she would, after Ron and I didn’t work out, but she seems to have accepted it now.”

He blinks because that’s something news to him. “Yeh already tried something with Ron?” he asks, hoping he doesn’t sound like a nosy bint. Still, if Ron’s had his chance and missed it, it means Hermione’s free and clear. He might hate being back at Hogwarts, but having a girl he’s fancied off and on for years might would definitely help make it more tolerable.

“Yes, we tried, but we work better as friends. Don’t go spreading it around, though, alright? We don’t really want to discuss with anyone.” She makes a face. “People can be spiteful and gossipy sometimes.”

“’m not gonna go telling anyone,” he promises. Why would he let other blokes know that she’s single without a Ron claim waiting on her? That’d be bloody daft.

“I should probably get back to the tower now. I didn’t mean to interrupt whatever you were doing.”

“Didn’t interrupt nothing, dollface. Too many bad thoughts sometimes. You know how it is.”

“I’m still not a dollface, Shay. And, yes, I know how it is. I suppose it’s worse for you being back here. I don’t know how I’d tolerate having to spend so much time at Malfoy Manor. I couldn’t do it.”

“Aye, you’re wrong. Yeh can do anything yeh want. You’re strong like that. ‘d like to be anywhere else but here most the time. Don’t tell Dean, though. Don’t want him worrying about meh.”

“I won’t mention it.” When she starts to walk away, he falls in step beside her. She keeps sneaking looks at him, and he’s starting to wonder if he’s got something on his face. “Do you really think I’m that brave?”

He snorts. “Cor, love, you’re the bravest bird I know. Off running from snatchers and keeping those two boys alive? Harry might be a bloody hero, but he wouldn’t have even survived that long without yeh there supporting him.”

She smiles and ducks her head as they walk, and he finds himself looking at her in a way he probably shouldn’t but, fuck, Ron’s had his chance, so why shouldn’t he? He’s not sure she’s interested, so he isn’t sure what he’s going to do to find out. Chances are she’ll just let him down easy then still treat him like normal, so that’s something, at least. She isn’t cruel like some birds, and her touch is different than Carrow bitch, so there’s no issue there, either.

“Dean’s talked about learning how to make wands maybe, something about old Ollivander teaching him,” he tells her, not sure if she knows but thinking she might since she spends time with Dean now, more than ever before. War stuff, he knows, like him with those blokes who got tortured a lot last term. He doesn’t mind sharing Dean with her and Luna, though, since Dean shares him with the others now.

“He mentioned that to me. It’s a fascinating thing, wand lore and the powers that wands can have,” she says, going into some boring discussion about wand lore that makes her eyes bright and her lips curl into a smile that he doesn’t find boring at all.

When they reach the common room, he knows she’s about to go to the girls’ dorm, so he decides to take action before she can. He conjures a sprig of mistletoe while she’s nattering on about wand cores, and he waits until she pauses to take a breath before he leans in to kiss her. Her lips are full and warm, a bit chapped, and they part as he licks at them with his tongue. She deepens the kiss, surprising him in the best way, and they’re soon full on snogging beneath the mistletoe.

They pull apart when they hear the door to the common room open. She’s flushed and her lips are wet and her hair’s mussed, which he must have done. He licks his lips and grins when her gaze drops down to watch his tongue. “Guess yeh have noticed me, dollface,” he murmurs, leaning in to steal another kiss before she has a chance to scold him.