He was on a mission now though, so he girded his loins – and his too-long cloak – and strode through the stacks, wand clenched in an only slightly trembling, only slightly clammy hand.
Jesse was sitting curled up in the furthest corner of the library, almost but not quite in the restricted section. He had a book open on his lap and his wand resting on his knees.
“Jesse,” Andrew said, skidding to a halt just in front of him.
Jesse jumped and grabbed his wand, except it rolled off his knees and under his feet. Andrew bent down and picked it up for him, presenting it with a bit of a flourish and trying not to think about how a Death Eater probably wouldn’t have done that, a Death Eater would probably have killed Jesse while he was still trying to save his place in his book.
Jesse’s hand closed tight around his wand like he was having the same sort of thoughts and he tipped his head back, looking up at Andrew with a frown. “You’re bleeding,” he said, reaching up. “Why are you bleeding?”
Andrew shook his head. A troll had come raging through the Hufflepuff common room. He was trying not to think about it.
“I missed you,” he said instead, sitting down next to Jesse and pressing their knees together. “Harry Potter went to up to Ravenclaw Tower and I asked if he’d seen you but he didn’t know who you were.” Andrew couldn’t understand that; true, they’d only been second years when Harry Potter left the school but everyone should know who Jesse was.
Jesse looked at Andrew weirdly. “I’m a Ravenclaw third year, why would he?”
“Because,” Andrew said firmly. Because Jesse was the best wizard Andrew had ever met. “Luna knows who you are.” That was almost as good as Harry Potter knowing, though not quite as good as if it was Neville Longbottom.
“Well, then,” Jesse agreed, still looking at Andrew like he was strange. Andrew was okay with that. As long as Jesse was safe, he could look at Andrew however he wanted.
Andrew rested his head on Jesse’s shoulder for a minute. They’d been fighting all night; he was tired. “What are you doing?”
Jesse tipped the book cover up for Andrew to see but the letters all swum in front of Andrew’s eyes. They did that sometimes.
“It’s Hogwarts: A History,” Jesse said. “Hermione Granger asked me to research something about the wards on the Great Hall.” He saidHermione Granger the same way that Andrew sometimes caught himself saying Neville Longbottom. Andrew tried not to seethe with too much jealousy.
“Can I help?” he asked instead. He should probably go back out and fight, except Jesse was here and therefore this little corner was the one place at Hogwarts that Andrew most wanted to keep safe.
“Hmm?” Jesse hummed. “No, it’s okay, you have a nap.” His finger was running along the lines of the book and he was mouthing some of the spells out loud. It was just like any evening when they snuck into each others’ common rooms to do homework. Except that Andrew had had to step over fifteen bodies to reach here and there were half a dozen drying cuts on the left side of his face from when a troll had thrown Joe Mazzello at Andrew and they’d fallen through a mirror.
“Jesse,” Andrew said quietly, pressing close to Jesse’s side. “Joe’s really hurt and I think one of the werewolves got Emma.”
He watched Jesse’s hand turn white around his wand. “I know,” he said, still not looking up. “I saw. That’s when Hermione sent me here.”
Andrew kissed Jesse’s cheek. He didn’t mean to; it just sort of happened. Jesse smelt like a million nights in front of the fire and pumpkin pies on the Hogwarts Express and Christmas morning down by the lake. Andrew had always been planning to kiss him; he’d just meant to wait until at least fourth year. It didn’t look like they were going to get a fourth year though, maybe not even a tomorrow, so he did it again, kissing the corner of Jesse’s mouth this time.
Jesse finally looked up from his book. “I have to finish reading this,” he said. “It’s important.”
Andrew glanced down, embarrassed. “I know,” he said, “Sorry, I just, I thought, there’s a war and...”
Jesse kissed him quickly, right on the mouth. “If I finish reading this then maybe we won’t all die horribly,” he said in a rush. “And if we don’t all die horribly then maybe, um, maybe you and I could go to Hogsmeade together some time? Just us?”
Now was definitely the worst time ever to be asked out on a date except that there was no bad time for Jesse to ask Andrew out on a date.
“Yes,” he said fervently. He put his hand on the side of Jesse’s head and turned him back to face his book. “Keep reading, then.” He sat up and gripped his wand tighter, full of renewed purpose. “I’ll keep guard.”
... and now I can't stop /o\ But I need help picking houses for certain people: