Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize is mine. It mainly belongs to the goddess JKR or an awfully long list of people... (the MOSSes -Ministry Officers of State Security- are mine). If you like it, review and feed my soul. And since we don't need to hurt each other, if you don't like it, don't tell me ! Flamers will be adopted by my family (if you don't believe it's a threat... too bad for you !)
The most glorious SilentG was kind enough to beta this chapter! (Severus will be your Christmas present...)
Credit: Kris Reinke provided one more idea that Albus adopted immediately... that party is going to be... well... Let's all have a thought for Harry...
Chapter Ten - Partying! Or What Happened on Albus' Side
Severus and I stand before our door in the hall. I'm not really sure I want to open that door and welcome Albus and Remus. I don't really want to go to that party. Albus Dumbledore and 'Muggle-like bachelor party' should be made illegal in the same sentence!
My Severus tenderly straightens the collar of my shirt; he told me once that the way I dress in Muggle clothes always tends to be messy. I guess that living with the Dursleys did little to develop my taste and my skills...
I need to touch Severus before I let him go away... It's going to be the first time I will not be with him since the glorious night when we linked together our lives, our souls and our fates. I toy with the pin on his tie and smile when he gently takes my hand: he must know I'm trying to steal some time.
"Ready ?" my love whispers.
"No! But I hope one of them will remember I have to be alive *and* sober in the morning," I answer... And what else could I say ?
He presses my hand, but he opens the door nonetheless.
Instead of our best men, there stand Fred and George. What is strange is that it's George who takes me in his arms and whispers in my ear where we're going.
Suddenly the exact identity of the man who told me to be prepared to apparate in Knockturn Alley is no longer important and I turn to Severus... I know we have to go through this, but it's just too weird...
I let George grab my hand and take me away from my love, and I don't say a word... I think I've seen a new twinkle in Severus's eyes; if I can bring some light in his life, an evening with Albus is not so high a price.
"I hope it was one of your jokes, George, and that we're going to the Leaky Cauldron," I tell my friend as we walk down Highstreet towards the Cherwell.
"So, you know it's me," George says, almost in a whisper.
"Years together, in the Common Room, on the Quidditch field, at the Burrow... And you think you can fool me ?" I answer, grinning.
"You won't tell the others that Fred and I traded parties..." George asks.
"Of course not! I think you're entitled to some fun... Even if I fail to see why *you* want to join Albus's side in that," I reassure him, which makes him chuckle, "So, where are we going ?" I ask once more.
"It's not a joke Harry... Albus has planned your party in the Dark Ward... Knockturn Alley's pub," George tells me.
I shake my head, wishing I could go back home and help Jules.
"Do you know what I should expect ?" I ask, thinking that what I will have to face would be less dreadful with some warning.
George blushes, and says barely above a whisper, "They wouldn't tell me..."
"What ?!" I shout.
"Albus gave me the mission to bring you to the pub, but he asked for Hagrid and Hermione's help, " my friend informs me.
"Albus and Hagrid, and Knockturn Alley, that's a dreadful combination, but Hermione will have tempered them... and Charlie as well," I declare, full of hope.
George is strangely silent.
"What ?" I say.
"Well, you know," he starts, "They're quite different since they've been together. I fear that 'goofy and weird' doesn't start to cover it. I heard that Hermione had asked her MOSSes to help with some aspects of your bachelor party..."
With a new kind of fear in my heart, we apparate to London at the intersection of Diagon and Knockturn Alleys.
As I walk with my escort towards the pub, I start hearing Muggle music. Loud Muggle music... I remember the name: techno music... And it comes from... Make a guess... Yes! The Dark Ward...
In front of the pub, George offers me a small smile, and he knocks a signal on the door. It opens, letting nearly palpable waves of music out as Hagrid opens. I barely hear his greetings over the magically loud female voice singing 'King of My Castle'.
Hagrid pulls as George pushes me in.
Suddenly, the music becomes even louder, and, as soon as my eyes grow accustomed to the relative darkness, I behold a vision of hell (or at least, one of the very elaborate first circles).
Absolutely everything is pink. And I do mean everything. It looks as if a gigantic magical tin of bubblegum paint exploded.
Hagrid, George and I are even the only ones not *dressed* in pink. No, that's not true. There are two other men who are neither dressed in pink, nor dressed in Muggle clothes, and I recognize one of the two: he's one of Hermione's MOSSes. Severus had called him 'Rettin'. He must have been Severus's student...
It's strange for me to think how many students Severus has taught... He's had time to see the children of his schoolmates arrive at Hogwarts to be taught in their turn.
What's even stranger is that I don't give a damn that Severus and my father *were* schoolmates; the only piece of information I'm interested in is that we will be at Hogwarts to teach the new batches of students. Together.
I scan the room to see who's here. The pub is way smaller than the Leaky Cauldron, and the tables and chairs have been pushed against the wall in order to create a dancing area in the middle of the room. There, the three other MOSSes are dancing, but they're not alone...
I don't know what bothers me most: the various shades of pink, the dreadfully loud music or the people I recognize on the dance floor.
The sight of Albus wearing fuchsia robes nearly blinds me.
Then I see the 'sandwich' engaged in a demonstration of perfect coordination. Hermione, Ron and Charlie all wear pink trousers, Hermione adding a *very* tiny Muggle bikini top, and that's all the trio wears. The coordination of the males' caresses show months of practice: I'll give them an earful for not letting me know they had found happiness
Bloody hell! At least, if we'd had only one party, I could have relieved some of the tension with Severus... On Severus ?
*Fred* makes his way towards Albus and signals my arrival. Instantly, the music becomes bearable.
"My friends!" Albus shouts, "Our guest of honour has arrived!"
All my friends want to hug me.
Oliver and Seamus nearly crush me.
I have the feeling that Neville is about to cry. "Are you all right ?" I ask in a whisper as I hug him back.
With shiny eyes, he answers, "I'm just so happy for you, Harry!"
Then Ron and Charlie sandwich *me*, and I decide to tease them, "Remember where my 'loyalties' lie ?"
Both jump backwards, and Hermione laughs as she comes into my arms and hugs me. Careful not to let my hands touch the Weasleys, I hug my favourite Auror back. Her skin is hot and soft under my palms, but the experience leaves me indifferent. It's Severus's skin I want under mine. I kiss her forehead and solemnly declare to Ron and Charlie that they have nothing to fear from me. They blush, and for the first time I can see that when a Weasley blushes, he does so all over. Hermione is still in my arms and she tells me that it's one of her favourite games, and she's found amusing (and X-rated) ways to turn them red.
She stays in my arms as she introduces her colleagues: Christian Anthony was a friend of Charlie's, while George Pierre, Ethan Bell and James Rettin went to Hogwarts with Bill. James introduces me to his companion, Frederick. The latter looks so ill-at-ease that I guess James has forced him to come to this utterly weird party.
The time my friends took to welcome me was used by Albus to order the first round of drinks. The bartender really looks like the cliché of a retired pirate, but from the corner of my eye, I see him prepare with ease cocktails that look as intricate as some of Severus's potions.
What disturbs me now are the waiters: I would bet all my galleons that their mothers were Veelas.
"I've chosen their uniform for tonight," Albus tells me, very proud of himself.
My mentor... the Hogwarts Headmaster... my boss... one of the men I respect most, has ordered the waiters at my bachelor party to wear pastel pink boots and pink satin shorts... Oh! Er... that and a tan!
Yet... there's no way I'm telling him I 'just' love men, and I'm not a bloody drag queen... I'll have to thank Hermione for keeping me discreetly informed of the life of the Muggle gay community... I guess it was the rainbow flags in Paris which triggered my curiosity. I guess Hermione even educated me in some areas... always the scholar... whatever the field... I have to stop thinking of that. I visualize 'sandwich' combinations and my jeans are awfully tight!
I'll also have to ask my love if there's a way to survive Albus's cheerfulness without burning too many brain cells in the process. The man is amazing.
The cocktail from hell I swallowed in one gulp certainly did no good to my perception of things either.
I let the music flow around me, and I seek a refuge I know will only be temporary near James and Frederick.
"Not your idea of a party, I guess, Mr Potter ?" Frederick asks.
I shake my head, and add, "Please! Call me Harry! This situation is strange enough!"
He smiles and nods.
Hermione undulates towards us and takes James back with her to the dance floor.
I look at Frederick and think he's as lost as I am here.
"Your companion made you come here tonight," I quietly state.
He nods again, and says, "James said his colleagues were missing me, and his Auror said she did not see enough of me. He said that it would not be fair for you if you were the only gay wizard, but..."
"I have no problem leaving Emma with Hermione, but I don't like to leave her in the care of Suzy Bell... I don't trust Suzy," Frederick explains.
"Er ? Pardon me, but... well, I suppose Suzy is Ethan's wife, but who's Emma ?" I wonder.
"Suzy *is* Ethan's wife and she's a real Hufflepuff... no offence meant if you have friends in that House, but... Emma is our daughter and I don't like her left in the claws of that woman..."
"You have a daughter ?!" now, *that* is interesting!
"We adopted her... And she has some memories of the raid in which her birth parents were killed. Suzy's theory is that Emma should be encouraged to remember. And I disagree..." Frederick tells me.
I suddenly remember my life before the Dementors, and I look deep down in Frederick's eyes before I say, "I think you're right... Sometimes I wish I could forget the night my parents were killed, even if that's the *only* memory I have of them alive..."
We slip into an understanding silence.
"You adopted Emma ?" I eagerly ask.
Frederick chuckles, and says, "Now I see why James brought me here!... I'm a Gryffindor, like you, and James is a Slytherin... When we got married, I knew as little as you seem to know, Harry. Hermione told James about the Howlers you received. You should know that the number of magical folks who are prejudiced *is* insignificant when compared with the Muggles... Of course, our people can hex," I jump when he says that, but I see in his eyes that it's only a joke, and he goes on, "In spite of the *limits* of Fudge, we've had no problems giving Emma a new home. Both James and I had time off work to take care of her in the first days. I am *very* proud to say that she did not set foot in an orphanage. Not even for one minute!... There are many options open to every kind of couple in our community. Should you want some more information about it, I would gladly help you..."
"Thanks! I might need you if I don't want Severus to think I'm more at sea than he already believes!" I say, laughing.
"Whenever you want..." those are the last words I get from him before Seamus grabs my hand and takes me to the dance floor.
Some of the songs are not too goofy, and I'm starting to enjoy myself when the light and the music change... There are spots directed onto the bar, and I think I know the song from the times I was still at the Dursleys'... It's disco... It's... oh! Yeah! It's that band which was mentioned in one of the Muggle magazines Hermione brought along with the potions recipes... They're... they're gay icons... the Village People! That's the name!
Aaaaaaaaaall riiiiiiiight! I can dance on that too if that's what Albus wants.
Merlin! That's not what's up this time. Six men, more tanned and more muscled than the waiters, have just stepped onto the bar: *They* are the ones dancing and... Merlin don't let me hex any of my friends for bringing me here! They are undressing!
"We could hire the Chippendales," Hermione shouts in my ear, "Of course, we will have to memory-charm them!"
My friends belong in Bedlam!... Curious how the Muggle expression came back to me instead of its wizarding equivalent!
Meanwhile, the dancers are getting rid of most of their clothes. They jump off the bar and dance in a circle around me. It makes me feel like a prey, or the sacrifice in a new kind of cult... a very strange one!
Before my wish to use some dark spells becomes too strong, the dancers disperse among my friends and disappear into the back-room as the song ends. I thought this nightmare would be over, but they bring back a cake with pink icing. A huge cake, obviously baked by Hagrid. I hastily look at him, and he raises his glass, which confirms my suspicions... Tonight I might die choking on a piece of cake!
A new song starts. It's a slow dance.
Since the spots are now hitting the cake, I take it to be my cue to go and cut it for everybody and I walk towards it... Another nightmare in broad daylight starts yet again: the top of the cake moves and a man, a young man, comes out of the cake. I will be spared no cliché tonight!
The man in the cake might be a male stripper, and although he appears to be a Quadrij, he does not interest me in the least. The Quadrij people have the ability to arouse wild passion in humans, except if said humans are in love. This is going to be a part of my lessons for the seventh years, but *I* need no training, and, boss or not, Albus is going to hear from me about that!
As the Quadrij undresses, I observe the others. My mind must be trying to find a way out, because I hadn't noticed before that Seamus is in Oliver's arms, and Neville and Fred are the only ones practically drooling in the pub; thus, it proves that even Hagrid has found love...
When the stripper removes his very last item of clothing, dropping it at my feet, all I can think of is how lucky I am to have Severus... My gorgeous, witty, strong, inventive Severus...
I barely register my friends' howling and clapping, or even the Quadrij hopping back into his cake.
The weird music comes back and I grab another drink: the only good thing is that the cocktails must be enchanted, or they're just fruit juice, because I'm not even feeling dizzy. That's good news for tomorrow, but I do wish I were a little bit less conscious of everything that's happening here...
I do wonder if Albus would have done the same if Severus had been his guest tonight.
I trade smiles with Frederick who has resumed his position in a quiet corner.
Alas, *I* cannot escape as I am the victim of the party, a.k.a. the guest star of the day.
I can't escape more dancing, a lot of drinks, and some food (if cocktail biscuits can be called food).
I end up believing that time has stopped, and that I'll never go back to my love; but the gods hear me, and Albus lowers the sound of the music and asks for everybody's attention.
"My dear Harry, tonight was your last evening as a free man, well... We can always pretend that *that* is a true statement," we all chuckle, "Before sending you back to your home, we have some presents for you... Some background information..."
Hermione takes over, "We split in two teams to find useful things for you... Things that will allow you to surprise your companion..."
Why am I scared to death now ?
"Some of us," Ron goes on, "Have been collecting spells."
Ron, Charlie, Christian, Ethan, George, James and Frederick raise their hands to confess their part in that, and my best friend hands me a thick leather-bound notebook. When I open it and read the first spell written there, I know I'm blushing all over. *That* would surprise Severus, but I'll have to train myself to say that spell without stammering and blushing!
"But some of us have been looking for a different kind of useful information," Hermione says.
Albus, Hagrid, Fred, Neville, Oliver, Seamus, and she raise their hands, and she gives me, surprise surprise, a book. I open it and know that I will never need to get a tan: as long as I live, I'll only have to remember that gift, and I'm sure to take a nice Weasley hue. They've given me the wizarding version of a gay Kama Sutra! And some of the images illustrating some of the positions have just the same potential blinding properties as Albus's robes tonight!
They add a huge supply of red and green quills to 'spill red ink' on my students assignments, a magical ink which will allow me to grade homework in the colours of the Houses of my students, and my first Hogwarts uniform as a teacher... Curiously, it's as black as Severus's... that *has* to be a coincidence!
Between our black robes, the quills and my sharing Severus's quarters, I fail to see how any student could forget our bond...
One more drink, one more dance, and Albus sends me back to my nest... I guess Jules must have had a hand in that mercifully early curfew, and I mentally thank the priest.
I wish goodnight to all my friends, and remind them not to be late tomorrow for the ceremony.
George helps me carry my presents, and we apparate back to the banks of the Cherwell.
As we walk up the street, I see Severus in front of our door with Fred, and that makes me walk faster.
George gives me back my presents, and Fred does the same with Severus, and they say in unison, "Goodnight! May you have sweet dreams!"
"How was it on your side ?" one of the two asks.
Severus opens the door, and I must say I'm relieved to be back home...
It seems that Severus is amused by all this, and he asks, "So... What's Albus idea of a bachelor party ?"
"Oh! You don't want to know, Love!" and I hate myself for almost whining.
I can hear my love's low chuckle as he walk down our hall, and I *know* that he's going to make me tell him everything that happened on Albus's side...
Never mind... I now have spells and moving pictures to retaliate in bed, or anywhere else...
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