"And what's a good little Gryffindor doing out on a night like this?"
Alicia jumped, her hand flying to her chest before she realized who had startled her and instead reached out to smack his arm. "Pillock! I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest!" He only smirked and she shook her head. "For your information, Mister Slut-of-Slytherin Higgs, you're not the only one who does this strange thing called 'dating'."
"Ickle Ally has a date?" said Terrence lightly, ignoring the weird little twinge somewhere in his ribcage. "Who with?"
She rolled her eyes. "Is it really your business?"
"Oh, come on, I tell you all about who I'm going out with," he wheedled.
Somehow, she was not impressed, if her snort was to be taken as any indication. "As if I could stop you, braggart. There's a lot that I would give a fair amount not to know." He opened his mouth to speak again, but as she didn't trust the glint in his eye she held up a hand and said, "And if it will mean you don't tell me what, or rather who, you're doing out here tonight, I'll tell you that I'm meeting Marcus Flint."
"FLINT?" he yelped, then when she scowled and shushed him, he said again, quieter, "Flint?" She hit his arm and looked around, but all he did was again say, in tones of horror and disbelief, "No, honestly, Flint?"
"If you don't stop saying that, I'm going to tell Tracey Davis I heard you talking about June weddings," she said, then snickered at how quickly his mouth snapped shut. "And what's wrong with Fl-- Marcus? He was very sweet to me, if you must know."
"What, apart from seeming to be related to a troll, only with less personal charm, and being too old for you?" She arched an eyebrow and he didn't have the grace to look even slightly shamefaced, despite the blatant hypocrisy in his deeming two years to be a significant factor in her dating life when it didn't come into his calculations at all. "He doesn't deserve you."
Alicia's lips quirked into a half-smile and she shook her head. No wonder he had so many girls falling all over themselves for him. If she didn't know him so well, the combination of boyish charm and arrogance would add up with the melting powers of his deep brown eyes to spell serious danger to her heart. As it was, she just crossed her arms and said, "You've said that about every single boy that's ever been brought up in connection to me, from betrothal prospects to any male at Hogwarts that looked at me twice or that I even looked at once. Is there anyone good enough for me, in your eyes?"
He was quiet for a long moment, staring into her eyes intently, until all the laughter had fled her and instead she was staring back at him with the same mesmerized seriousness. Finally, in a whisper that sounded much too emotional to possibly originate from Terrence Higgs, bon vivant and playboy, he said, "No. No, there's no one good enough for you."
Her breath caught in her throat, and she felt like there was something pulling her towards him, like something important was going to happen if only she could see his eyes clearly enough, but just as she thought she might see what lay behind his masks, she heard her name being called and she snapped her head around to see Marcus Flint walking towards them. She turned back and looked shyly at Terrence, then said hesitantly, "I... I should go. Shouldn't I?"
She wouldn't look him in the eyes, and Terrence felt himself shut down, the cool barriers which he'd learned from the cradle automatically going up in order to avoid thinking about why that bothered him. "Yeah," he heard himself saying, casually, as if it didn't matter at all... Which it didn't. "Yeah, you should go. Marcus isn't all that bad a guy."
"All right," she said, nodding firmly and turning away from him, focusing her attention unwaveringly on Marcus even as she continued. "All right. See you, Ter."
With that she walked away, linking her arm through Flint's, and Terrence watched them go, standing still until they were out of sight. "See you, Ally," he muttered, then turned to walk away toward an assignation that suddenly seemed completely unappealing.
It was years before he understood what had happened there, in a random corridor of Hogwarts. War came and went, as did an awful lot of Quidditch. Marcus Flint ended up married to Penelope Clearwater, of all people, and it was at their wedding that Terrence and Alicia had been caught by each other's eyes again, on the dance floor. This time, however, as she got closer to him, trying to see what was inside, he dropped his defenses, all of his barriers dust as he grasped her shoulders and pulled her even closer, putting his lips on hers and showing her what was hiding behind his eyes.
Her own had dimmed with tears and he wiped them gently away, only to have her laugh. "You're an idiot, Ter."
"I am," he said amiably, then kissed her again. "The worst of idiots, because if I'd ever taken my head out of my arse, we could've been doing that years ago."