Chapter 1 : Learning the Hard Way
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Author's Notes: This is the extended version of the story that won 3rd place in the HPFF Halloween contest. The prompt was to write a story about what would happen at a HPFF staffer Halloween party. Using real people in stories is against the ToS, so the names are changed. Enjoy!
The crowded, elegant hall was abuzz with those people who were lucky- or unlucky in some witches’ and wizards’ opinion- to be invited to Horace Slughorn’s annual Halloween feast. The room was big for someone who was constricted by a professor’s retirement earning, but not excessively so. It was lit with hanging lamps just fancy enough for the black-tie feast. Being in retirement, Horace had taken it upon himself to produce a fair dinner that rivaled Hogwart’s.
Judging by the hoards of famous faces gathered at the huge, round table, he seemed rather successful in his endeavor. Laughs and tales echoed throughout the room as people got to know one another better over a glass or two of fire whiskey. Of course, there were always those few people who took such casual conversations a bit too far.
"Potter! Sslovely paarty y'have here buhti muhst b'going sssince ihssquite late yuhknow," slurred a drunken Professor Slughorn. Harry, who was currently occupied with telling Hermione about his job as a full time auror, turned to the intoxicated man and blinked.
"I’m sorry, what did you say sir?"
"I ssaaid this -hic- s'a lovely paarty b-buht I have tuh get home" was Slughorn’s fuzzy reply, and with that, he turned, stumbling his way out of the noisy, crowded house. He knocked into a few partygoers on the way and managed to produce a discernable "sorry."
"But sir," Harry called after him, "this is your Halloween party, and you are already at your house! Even so, you shouldn’t apparate in your current state!" He apologized to Hermione and pushed through the crowd to the doorway in hot pursuit of his former potions professor, who was already out in the yard. Unbeknownst to both Harry and Slughorn, someone else was also trying to catch up to the plastered professor.
"Slughorn! Stop!" the other man yelled. The potions master made no motion that suggested he even heard the shout.
Harry had caught up to him by that time and went to grab Professor Slughorn’s shoulder to get his attention when someone exclaimed, "Potter! Don’t touch him!"
Then, Harry felt the familiar tug of apparating from his navel.
Somewhere in the muggle world, vibrant music was pumping through the room as the last of the people arrived at the long awaited Harry Potter Halloween Party, hosted by the HP fan club leader, Jason. Black and orange streamers mixed with House banners; ones for Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, and Ravenclaw in downsized replicas of their counterparts in the magical world. Discussions of people’s favorite characters were heard from all corners of the room. Some people, donned in Hogwarts robe costumes, were partying it up on the dance floor in between the students’ and professors’ tables, while others were hanging around the buffet stretched out where Professor McGonagall and her cohorts would be sitting at the real Hogwarts. The sweet smells of burger patties and hotdogs filled the room, leaving many partygoers' mouths watering, and the cupcake desserts lying out on the house tables were tempting targets.
Jason, the head of the fan club and the organizer of the whole party, was trying his best to avoid the punch. He did not want a repeat of last year, which may have involved some pictures of him dancing on tabletops because somebody had tampered with the beverages. His only consolation was that he wasn’t the only one who fell to the punch’s effects. Jason was just thinking about how that party had gone awry as Kayla came up to him.
“Hey Jason! Awesome party. The food is great! Watch out though, I heard Brianna may have added one of her own secret ingredients to the drinks again. Fair warning: I have my camera!” Kayla laughed.
Jason groaned. “Don’t remind me. Come on, that was last year! I’ll make sure that at least one bowl is free from any of Brianna’s influence.”
“Aw,” Kayla replied. “Maybe the bowls could mysteriously switch and-”
An enormous crack interrupted Kayla’s musings. Everyone’s head turned to the dance floor, where three figures appeared out of thin air.
“Huh? Thissnt muhhome!” the newly arrived “visitor” said.
“For Merlin’s sake, professor, don’t apparate after you’ve gone and downed five firewhiskeys!” the second figure exclaimed.
The third man erupted. “For Merlin’s sake? Merlin is dead! What about my sake! You’ve gone and splinched me you old-”
“Draco? What are you doing here?” the second man asked, cutting him off.
Malfoy let out a sigh. “Kingsley told me to watch over Slughorn- you know how responsible he is,” he replied, gesturing to the professor, who was looking around wildly in utter confusion. “I saw you going to touch him when he was about to apparate. I tried to pull you away, but he just had to apparate right when I touched you. Idiot Gryffindors trying to save everybody. I mean, Potter, was this really necessary?” he muttered at the end. Harry hadn’t heard the last part, but if he had, he would have pointed out that Draco had just tried to save Harry as well. As Malfoy spoke, he lifted up his shirt to expose an ugly wound where a small portion of skin was missing by his ribs. The muscle was exposed. He winced and quickly waved his wand over the injury, and it was sealed.
Professor Slughorn snapped both Harry and Draco from their conversation when he started talking. “Whu’r yoo?” he slurred, pointing to a shaking girl dressed in replica Ravenclaw robes.
“P-p-professor Slughorn?” she stuttered. The foreign voice grabbed Harry’s attention, and suddenly , he realized they were not alone. Scores of people were paused in their conversation and were staring directly at them.
“Noo, yoor na-uht P’fesssur Ssslug’ern. Iyam! Ssso sstop lying tuhme,” the potions master said with gusto to the star-stricken staffer.
Draco mumbled something along the lines of “shut it. You sound like you’re attempting parseltongue.”
“Wuhs thah dohamahicky thing ovr thur?” Slughorn asked, pointing a very wobbly hand at a black box in the corner of the room that was pumping out party music. Currently, no one was dancing to it; they were all enthralled by the scene on the dance floor.
“Draco,” Harry started cautiously, “that’s a speaker, a muggle device. These are muggles.”
“What? You bumbling oaf, Slughorn. Now we have to obliviate all of them!”
“No!” Jason cried out. “Harry Potter please don’t! We know about you, wizards, Hogwarts, and how you stopped Voldemort. Please don’t obliviate us!”
“You must be squibs, then,” Harry reasoned. Jason found that explaining how Harry, Draco, and Slughorn were supposed to be three characters from a fictional book was too complicated, so he vacuously nodded his head.
“Oh look, Potter! It seems you have a fan club even in the muggle world. Snape was so right about you,” Draco sniped.
Before Harry could retaliate, a voice screamed from the back of the room.
“Draco Malfoy! Ohmigosh I love you!” A rush of people suddenly quipped in agreement. A wide-eyed Draco looked around at the people who spoke. He never expected to be recognized and admired by a group of strangers, and it initially unsettled him, for what business did they have to know who he was? He left these sorts of things to the “Precious Potter”, the savior of the world. However, the more he looked at the starry-eyed faces, the more he liked the idea of having these admirers. The blond boy, after a contemplating pause, put on a smug smile and seemed to swell up as if he was now the most important person in the world.
“Now who has a fan club?” Harry whispered to him. He received a hasty “shut it” in return.
After the initial outburst, it seemed as if a spell was broken as intense chattering broke out revolving around the trio that popped into the room.
“Is that actually them?”
“Am I imagining things?”
“This better not be some cruel joke!”
“Draco just did magic! They must be real!”
As if in a dream, Brianna cautiously walked up to Slughorn as if approaching too fast would make them vanish as they appeared. She slowly reached out her hand. Slughorn stared at it and swatted it away. The die-hard fan looked at her hand, the one in which Professor Slughorn had actually touched.
“Ay, whut areya doo-ing. ‘Course’m real,” Slughorn huffed indignantly.
“OH MY GOSH! THEY’RE REAL!”
And with that announcement, the trio was attacked in a frenzy of crazy, screaming fans with far too many questions to be answered all at once.
“Oh! I lovethss so-ng!” Slughorn suddenly announced out of the blue. It being a muggle song, he had probably never heard it in his life. He swept the nearest girl up and started dancing, or at least attempting to. His hopping and flailing arms were comparable to the chicken dance more than anything else. The girl dancing with him looked like she died and went to heaven.
Harry sighed. “We’re not going anywhere for a while, are we?” he announced to no one in particular. He turned to a girl named Allie and asked, “May I have this dance?”
Her smile widened as she took his hand. Draco grudgingly followed suit with another fan. Harry’s dancing was on par with the average partygoer, but Draco looked totally out of his element after being raised to dance so formally by his wealthy parents. However, after a few dances with many different ebullient partygoers, he did loosen up. The three wizards were pulled left and right. Everybody wanted a turn to dance or talk with them.
After a while, Slughorn struck up a conversation with Jason, who was absently ladling and sipping punch. His attention was captivated by the professor’s slurred ramblings about one of his students -her great grandfather discovered the pygmy puff- and Jason and those around him held on to his every word.
Ten minutes later, Jason and Slughorn were boogying on the Slytherin table in a drunken stupor. People crowded around the tables and cheered. Harry and Draco, having danced with everyone in the room, watched the dancing duo in amusement. Malfoy, being the most practical person, turned to look at the clock in the room.
“Oh no! Harry! It’s already 1 o’clock!” Draco screamed over the cheering.
“WHAT? Ginny is going to kill me. I was supposed to be home by 12:00. I have an auror assignment early in the morning! I’m sorry, guys, but we have to go. Perhaps we’ll visit again sometime. Bye!” Harry quickly grabbed Slughorn from the table and apparated out of the room, leaving behind Slughorn’s protests. Draco apologized and followed soon after.
Jason looked at Kayla and asked “Did that really just happen?”
Kayla grinned and held out her camera, stocked with pictures of Harry and Draco on the dance floor and Jason and Slughorn on the table. “It did.”
Authors Notes: Thanks for reading! I'd love a review! Reviews make Millarz happy! Thanks so much to Giola and EnigmaticEyes16 for beta-ing this story!
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