LIKE CLOCKWORK SPRINGS

1.
They're sitting together again, Harry notes. That strange American boy with the glasses in his own house—Alfred F. Jones, that's what he said his name was— and the Ravenclaw with the large eyebrows.

Their heads are knocked together—Alfred has thrown an arm around the Ravenclaw's neck and he's speaking at about a hundred miles a minute, something about heroes and Quaffles and Quidditch while the Ravenclaw throws death glares at him, but doesn't shift the arm from his body. Both of them are blond—a gold, brown-yellow for Alfred; an ashy, buttery shade for the Ravenclaw—and the two colors fit oddly together.

They seem oblivious to the scandalized stares of the other students, the giggling inquiries, the squealing of various girls as they leafed through volumes of black and white comics—manga, he thinks it's called.

Ron is frowning at them with a speculative look, scrunching up his nose. "D'you reckon they're together?" He asks Harry.

"Don't be silly, Ron," Hermione says immediately. "Of course they're not. I mean, they're two…" She trails off with a blush and a pointed look.

"Just because they're blokes doesn't mean they can't do it, can't they? I mean—"

"Heavens, Ron, do you have to be so vulgar all the time?" And they start bickering again.

The teachers are staring, too, from the staff table. Professor McGonagall, red-faced and disapproving, is whispering furiously to Dumbledore, who just laughs and looks as if Christmas, his birthday, and Voldemort's demise had come all at once. Hagrid is grinning.

"…I'm not saying that the mechanics can't be dealt with," A very embarrassed looking Hermione is shooting back at Ron. "But to think that they—that they would—"

Alfred pulls the Ravenclaw into a kiss, his hands gripping the back of his robes possessively as the Ravenclaw makes a little noise of surprise and reciprocates in a rather enthusiastic manner.

"Oh." Says Hermione, faintly. "I guess they are together, after all."

2.

"…God bloody dammit, Alfred, it's a perfectly simple incantation! You flick the wand and—and are you even listening to me, you fucking tosser?"

"Oh, look," Luna says, looking pleased. "They're happy!"

That, Neville decided, was very much a matter of opinion. Alfred looked ridiculously happy and ebullient—though then again, he usually did, while Arthur looked like he wanted to smash something in—preferably Alfred's face, though the fact that he was firmly planted on the former's lap while trying to teach him a levitation charm kind of negated the whole 'face smashing in' thing.

"I know it's nigh impossible with that stupid accent of yours, but if you could just roll your r's, nice and even, you'd be able to…"

"Oh, I do hope they use protection." Luna continues. "I've heard about those Epuchars. They float in and out of your skin if you have too much contact with a person, you know. They're harmless, really, but rather pesky if you haven't bathed in a Kerdileaf infusion. Boys are particularly susceptible." She adds seriously.

Neville coughs and wonders if he should respond. "Er, I'm sure they've got plenty of Kerdileaves," He says uncertainly, all the while wondering what exactly a Kerdileaf was.

"Do you think so?" Luna gives him a bright, dreamy smile, and he flushes to the roots of his hair. It does nothing to help the state of perpetual confusion Luna always seems to inspire.

"Oh, I think Alfred's trying out the spell, look!" Neville hurriedly changes the subject as he directs Luna's attention to the two feuding boys.

They watch Alfred, having being unceremoniously shoved away, draw out his wand and clumsily flourish it, mouth wingardium leviosa and jab his arm into the air as Arthur sternly watches.

They wait.

Nothing happens.

Bang! Bang! Thump!

There's a flash of brilliant light that blinds them all and a loud bang in the air as Alfred's wand flies out of his hand and he has to flail wildly just to regain his balance, stumbling right onto Arthur, who topples under the weight with a surprised and rather unmanly yelp.

"Whoops! Er—we should probably try again, yeah?"

"Again? You're practically squashing the life out of me from that first attempt, you git!"

For the next few moments, Luna and other bystanders amuse themselves by watching Alfred and Arthur try to untangle the mass of sprawling limbs and clothing while Neville tried to politely look away. Arthur's face had turned the precise shade of chili pepper Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Bean with extra red and extra chili.

"B-budge up, you git!"

"I'm trying to, but your elbow keeps on hitting me in the—ow!"

"Look, just stay still and let me try to wriggle my leg out under your bleeding leg, at least!" Now, Alfred's face had become as red as Arthur's.

"At this rate, they're going to need more Kerdileaves." Luna whispers to Neville.

3.

"It's wonderful, isn't it?" Dumbledore beams so hard Professor McGonagall wonders if sunshine will explode out of his ears.

"As wonderful as it is," She says curtly. "Such public displays of affection should hardly be tolerated, headmaster, let alone encouraged. We let the sitting together slide, because there isn't a policy that states Houses can't fraternize with each other, but when it's risen to a point where it's a distraction to all the other students—"

"Exercising your love for another has always been rather healthy for the mind and body, if I do say so myself—"

"Not when it interferes with normal school life at Hogwarts," McGonagall interrupts sharply. She sighs and takes off her glasses. "I've had reports of them kissing in the hallways, in empty classrooms…snogging in the kitchens and the secret passageways, for God' sake—"

"Well, for lovers, the passageways are rather popular—"

"AndI don't know what Filius is planning for Kirkland, but I intend to have a very long and very serious discussion with Mister Jones about these discrepancies of behavior!" McGonagall finishes, looking very frazzled and very determinedly at Dumbledore, her mouth set in a thin line.

"Young love!" Dumbledore says with considerable cheer, his blue eyes twinkling maniacally.

"And it's hardly time for them to be so distracted...Jones has his OWLs, and if Kirkland wants to do well for his NEWTs he must not be wasting his time with such dalliances!" And McGonagall's hands come down on Dumbledore's desk with a firm thump on the word 'dalliances'.

Dumbledore takes off his glasses and cleans them. His eyes grow misty and he wears a small, absurd smile, the tip of his long, crooked nose quivering. "A dalliance. Is that all you think they'll come to, Minerva? A trifling away of time?"

"Oh, well…" McGonagall looks taken aback, noting the melancholy that now tinges the headmaster's appearance. "Well, I do suppose they care for each other a rather lot," She says grudgingly, thinking of all the roses and letters and clandestine love confessions she's thwarted. "They're doing an excellent impression of boys in love, at any rate."

"Boys in love." Dumbledore almost sighs. He stares pensively at his wand, his elongated fingers twiddling it idly, and thinks of a boy he might have once loved, the one with hair like gold on fire and a thief's smile. "It's always nice to know that there's a little more love in the world, isn't it, Minerva?"

She wonders if he knows that he's been looking at his wand for almost five minutes now. "Yes, I suppose so."

"Excellent. Now may I possibly bother you to join an old, crazy man for a cup of tea?"

Even from the seclusion of the headmaster's office, they can still hear faint shouting as Arthur Kirkland swears and chases Alfred F. Jones up the Great Hall. McGonagall makes a mental note to deduct a point from both of them.

"Of course." McGonagall pours the tea, and drops in the sugar, and Dumbledore smiles behind his cup.

4.

It was, Arthur had decided, at times, very hard to decide whether Alfred was being stupid by accident, Alfred was being stupid on purpose, or that Alfred wasn't actually being stupid; he just hadn't cottoned to what the American was planning yet.

"Hey, Arthur, if you were a Dementor, I'd become a criminal just to get your kiss!"

Now was probably one of those times.

"Alfred, what the bloody hell are you talking about?" They're sitting at the edge of the Great Lake under the old beech tree. Alfred has both his arms tucked loosely around Arthur's waist, who's pretending not to notice them, and incidentally not noticing the warmth of Alfred's body curved against his and the soft, relaxed rhythm of the American's breath fanning against his cheek either, because to notice such things would mean that Arthur actually liked them, that he actually [maybemorethan] liked Alfred—which he absolutely bloody didn't, of course.

…It was just that it was such a lovely day, and Alfred happened to be softer and comfortable to lean on than tree bark, and Arthur had gotten rather tired of shoving off the American's limbs for the fifth time, so what the hell, he'd decided to indulge in Alfred's cuddling compulsion for once.

(And no, it had absolutely nothing to do with how the cuddling made Arthur feel all nice and relaxed and comforted, like a large coil of tension had just unfurled into a dozen butterflies into his stomach, or how Alfred's scent of soap and sun made him want to sigh blissfully like a lovestruck teen, and Alfred absolutely did not make his heart beat faster and his chest tighten, whatever gave you that ridiculous idea—)

"What, you're not dazzled by my awesome use of oh so heroic pickup lines yet?" Alfred lifted his head from where he had grazed his lips against Arthur's ear and gives him that familiar grin that kind of makes Arthur want to punch him and kiss him at the same time.

Maybe it's possible to do both? He'd have to look into that later.

"Dementors are definitely not awesome, you wanker!" Arthur fixed him with his trademark English Death Glare and tried not to shiver at the thought of grey cloaks and slimy, flesh-rotted hands and the frostbitten cold—yes, the cold was definitely the worst.

"What, you don't like that one? That's okay, I've got a whole shitload," And before Arthur can interrupt, Alfred is rattling off some of what has to be the most ridiculous romanticisms on Earth.

"Are you using the Confundus charm, or are you just naturally blind blowing? Every second I'm not with you feels like I'm being hit with the Cruciatus curse—"

"Git. You don't have to be so dramatic." Arthur muttered, the tips of his ears going red. "Is this what you spend all of your spare time doing?"

"Of course not, Arthur. All the time I have is just for you, babe." Alfred deliberately purses his lips on the word 'babe', his grin widening to impossible proportions as Arthur's face grows steadily more crimson and a very weak "don't call me 'babe'" slips from his lips, accompanied by a shove to the ribs that's not so weak and makes him wince a little (even though heroes would never get hurt from anything their weird British boyfriends did to them, Arthur just caught him by surprise, is all).

"Hey, I really think you'd like the Confundus one. 'Specially with what we've been learning in Flitwick's class lately…"

"They were banishment charms. And as I do recall, you mixed that up with the summoning charm." Arthur didn't mean for that smirk to curl up on his face, really. But the memory of that chair Alfred was supposed to be sending out the window going the opposite direction and crashing into him instead was too potent to think of with a stoic face. Professor Flitwick had not been amused.

Alfred scowls. "Hey, no more laughing at my expense, alright? You already laughed your scrawny ass off that day." Arthur still does, come to think of it. He just looks so adorable laughing at his pain (the sadist) that Alfred usually doesn't have the heart to stop him.

"My ass is not scrawny."

"Mm. Maybe not. It isone fine ass." Talking about it kind of makes Alfred want to cop a feel at it, but it would mean removing his arms from Arthur's body, which is clearly not an option, so he just swallows the impulse and makes a mental note to do some groping later. Preferably in a dark, secluded place. With nobody to interrupt. While making out hotly.

As if on cue, Arthur's face is flaming again. It's too freaking adorable for words, the way Arthur just blushes and stays that way for hours. "Git." He says with no venom, and instead dips a foot into the Great Lake, trailing his toes across the glassy surface of the water languidly.

"H-hey, don't do that, man!"

"Don't do what?"

"Put your feet in the water like that! Do you want those merpeople to drag you down and eat your liver or something?"

"Eat my—for God's sake, Alfred, stop being such a child, the merpeople are a perfectly respectable race—"

"And what that giant squid, huh? What happens if it suddenly just grabs your legs and decides to drag you down into some dark, watery hell or something?"

"The giant squid is an ancient, integral part of Hogwarts and one of its most honorable inhabitants—"

"It's a squid, Arthur."

"And it is a very respectable occupant of our—"

"A squid."

"…There. I took my foot out. Happy?"

"Yep!" And Alfred beams so hard that Arthur almost forgets to be cranky.

"…Git."

Almost.

"Love you, Arthur." Then Alfred buries his nose into Arthur's hair and lets out a happy sigh, probably relieved that his boyfriend's internal organs weren't about to be devoured mercilessly by sea monsters.

'Love you too, git,' Arthur thinks privately, inhaling the old-leather-and-apples scent of Alfred's bomber jacket (the one he insists one wearing over his robes, no matter how many times teachers threatened him with detention), and it's only when Alfred is grinning madly and squeezing him so tightly he fears his lungs will burst that Arthur realizes he's said the thought out loud.

"Hey, you love me! You love me, ha; I always knew you did, even if you never really said it—"

Arthur blushes violently, of course, and he does his best to shove Alfred's arms off his waist (halfheartedly) and mutter (very mild) obscenities, but he doesn't deny the claim.

And for once, all was well at Hogwarts.

-FIN-

A/N: LAMECAKES ENDING IS LAME. I KNOW. ;_; ALMOST AS LAME AS THE SUMMARY. This was originally written for the AU theme on day four of Sweethearts week, but it took longer than I expected and my Internet crashed so I just went 'screw it' and didn't post it on time.

Obviously, I decided to use a Harry Potter AU because this is all a ruse for me to use Harry Potter pickup lines. HOW CAN YOU NOT LIKE THOSE. THEY ARE AWESOME. This one's my favourite:

Your smile's like expelliarmus: simple but disarming.

Anyone else have any good ones?