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pumpkins aglow


Happy Hallowe'en dear f'list! I hope that all of you who celebrate have a fun time being ghostly, and those who don't also have lovely evening.

Here is a light-hearted little story that I wrote, inspired by the day:


Title: Frolics of an All Hallows’ Eve
Author: [livejournal.com profile] purplefluffycat
Characters/Pairings: Albus Dumbledore/Horace Slughorn; ensemble effort by the early 20th c. Hogwarts staff.
Rating: R
Word Count: ~2500
Warnings: Anyone who is terrified of rollercoasters should probably look away now.

Summary/Description: 'That evening, something seemed to be in the air at the staff table...’

Author's Notes: A fun little fic for Hallowe’en, set in Albus’ and Horace’s early days as Hogwarts Professors.



It was not often that the Hogwarts professors were naughty. Of that, Horace was reasonably sure; the months he had spent so far in the Potions position had seemed to consist mainly of earnest discussions, recalcitrant pupils and marking. Lots and lots of marking.

That evening, though, something seemed to be in the air at the staff table. It might have been the fact that it was All Hallows’ Eve, pumpkins aloft in resplendent glow and bats flapping amid the flying buttresses. It might have been that Herbert had spiked the carafes with home-brew from Greenhouse Five.

Or – just possibly, Horace allowed – it might have been the fact that he was sitting next to Albus, and they had been chatting all the way through dinner. For fresh blood, Horace thought that he had held his own remarkably well in their debate about the best applications of Acromantula venom - but when Albus had rounded off with, “I defer to your excellent judgement,” he was wrong-footed by a tone of… flirtatiousness? Those piercing blue eyes lingered on Horace’s bottom lip as he replied in thanks - so much so that he felt compelled to check for stray crumbs, and his heart pit-patted in time with the bats’ wings overhead.

Gosh, Albus is stunning. It usually wouldn’t do to be thinking such things of a professional colleague, but Horace could not quite muster the energy to scold himself – not tonight, when liquor glowed in his veins and the evening promised such fine capers.

Of course, not all of the staff would have been alive to that tingle in the air. Armando made the statues in the corridor look the very picture of frolicsomeness – bloodhound eyes tired and contemplating bedtime even before the main course – and Apollyon was so embittered he could brew coffee just by gargling hot water. Horace doubted that either of them would be in on the plan – nor would most of the old guard, to be honest.

Thus, after curfew, and after checking that their charges really were abed, it was just the five of them who gathered in travelling cloaks by the big front door: Horace, excitably contemplating candyfloss; Filius, the diminutive thrill-seeker and fellow newcomer; Herbert, flushed and past tipsy, now; Albus, whose whole idea this had been; and Galatea, who was twice their age, twice their bawdiness, and who would have hexed anyone into next week had they dared to suggest that she was ‘old guard’.

Even in the entry hall, the air was crisp and their breath made misty huffs as they chuckled. Striding toward the winged boars, twigs snapped underfoot and leaves rustled in the swish of capes, with a perfect moon shining overhead – as if even Mother Nature was complicit in the lark.

It was not often that the fairground came to Hogsmeade, and none grander than the All Hallows’ turnout. Of course, they had all spent most of that Saturday supervising children at the sanitised version – daytime jolly rides and wholesome sweets. After dark, though – Albus had assured the new teachers – things became considerably more interesting.

A quick apparation later, and Horace could see exactly what he had meant. There, in the middle of Hogsmeade green, scantily-clad witches gyrated on a platform surrounded by flames, and half-naked young men served drinks from a nearby stand, oiled biceps glistening in the firelight, and shadows caressing every plane of well-muscled torsos.

“I suddenly feel the need for a firewhisky,” Galatea smirked, and disappeared toward the bar.

“Right ho!” agreed Herbert, and swayed after her, focussed more on the tipple than its means of deliverance, but with equal enthusiasm.

Their party so quickly diminished, Horace cast his eyes about, taking in the rest of the scene. Coloured lights twinkled from every corner amid the gloom: fortunes told amid drapes and incense; roasting meat and rainbow-hued candies; mystery prizes for trumping caged boggarts; targets to hex for top scores and glory; and everywhere, the whizz and hiss of charmed carriages and terror-dive broomsticks and the shriek of exhilarated riders.

Somewhere out of sight, a carnival organ played, and gypsies fiddled an infectious dance. People milled close, hot breath in the cold air, faces hidden beneath hoods – or eyes bright, hair pink and teeth jewelled. Horace shuddered, nerves mingling with anticipation. He had been to some fine parties in his time, but nowhere that felt so carnal; a melting pot in which anything might happen.

As if sensing his thoughts, Albus looked over and smiled. “Alright, old thing?”

“Yes… yes!” He nodded.

That resolution disappeared into his boots, however, at the next suggestion. “Let’s go on that!” said Filius, as he gestured upward with great excitement.

At first, it was difficult to see exactly at what he was pointing. Straining eyes into the distance, however, Horace could make out a small square a very, very long way above their heads. In fact, it seemed to be getting smaller by the second.

Just then, though, the action reversed and the thing plummeted; screams of the riders reached the ground considerably before their bodies arrived to complete the picture. Dazed, the passengers disgorged, and the rickety carriage then hovered above the grass, enticing its next victims with a jagged sign - The Plunge of Death - and a becloaked, yellow-toothed goblin, who jangled sickles between his clawed hands.

Ominously, there was no queue.

“Can’t we, um… go on the carousel, instead?” Horace croaked. He already felt ill.

“Oh, you are funny!” said Filius, not realising for a moment that this was not a matter upon which Horace would joke.

“I wonder if it’s higher than last year,” pondered Albus – and somehow, all three of them gambolled, strode or tottered forward to grace the palm of the goblin and take a creaky wooden seat on the platform.

Immediately, they began to climb – and immediately, Horace felt as if he was going to die. “Don’t they… um… have safety bars? What about a seatbelt?” The chair upon which he was sitting seemed entirely inadequate, especially as the surrounding treetops had long been left as memory.

“Oh, don’t be silly, Horace,” Filius replied while craning over the edge. “They must have put a sticking charm on it.”

’Must have,’ thought Horace in panic. But what if they haven’t? – And what if it’s not very strong? Despite not being the tallest chap around, Horace was pretty sure that it would take more of a charm to keep him in place than either Filius or Albus – something that nasty little goblin surely hadn’t taken into account… and at that moment, he made the terrible mistake of following Filius’ gaze to the ground below.

“Oh, God,” Horace sobbed. That tiny, almost-invisible square he had seen from below? Now, it was them – up in the stars and the moonshine, the whole fairground just specks of orange and black, like cinders on a rug. The air was crisp and clear as they paused there – no breeze, not even the chirp of a bat. Indeed, it could have been very beautiful.

-Only, ‘could have’, mind, for Horace was eaten up with dread at what would happen next.

A strange sort of melancholy washed over him; what a pity that he should have to die now, still young and so full of ideas. His Mother would be upset, that was for sure, as would Nibbly, his favourite house elf. His brain flicked to his appointments calendar; he never would get to go to that soirée at the Ministry next week, never mind the wine-tasting in Bordeaux to which he had been so looking forward.

Perhaps most of all, though, he would never get the chance to tell the man sitting next to him how he felt; how his insides melted when then spoke with one another, how gorgeous and talented and wonderful and kind and…

“Albus, I…” Horace croaked - then, words failing, he grasped Albus’ hand tightly, putting all of that attraction and admiration into a squeeze that would be his last, and a signal that a Legilimens could not help but notice.

What happened next, Horace struggles to recall. There was a whooshing, and a shrieking, and gusts of air to make a Wronski feint look tame. His heart and stomach were competing for space in his mouth, his vision was perfectly black, and the world seemed to consist of absolutely nothing but Albus’ hand in his, a speck of wonderfulness amid the utter destruction of humanity as he knew it.

For all Horace could tell, that state of affairs may have lasted moments – or perhaps decades. But then, it was broken to pieces by that nasty little goblin shouting, “Next!” and the frankly ridiculous requirement to stand on his own legs – when they had clearly detached from his body some eons ago in a universe far, far away.

Somehow, though, they all managed to reach terra firma.

“Rather good, don’t you think?” said Filius, full of light and air, “Care to join me for another spin?”

Processing the question, Horace spluttered.

Albus looked at the contraption to their side, and then Horace felt an uncanny heat in his glance. “I think perhaps we’ll go to investigate that rather intriguing candyfloss. But don’t let us stop you, Filius; every All Hallows’ needs its daredevil.”

“Okey dokey!” Filius inclined his head in a bow and skipped back to the source of his inexplicable enthusiasm, just as Herbert and Galatea had found their own attraction to top all others.

The first feeling Horace had at that moment was simple relief. The second was the realisation that there were now just the two of them - amid a fair of whispering flames, dark shadows and sensual encounters. He shivered.

Albus turned to him and smiled; Horace could not help but notice the flicker of firelight in his eyes and glinting from his mane of silky, auburn hair. Gosh, he thought, once again, that man really is breathtaking.

“I can think of a couple of things here you might like,” Albus said, and Horace followed his gestured path, dumbly musing that at least one of them was right in front of him.

The first bone fide suggestion, however, was unequivocal: after just one bite, Horace could not understand how he had lived for several decades without knowing the joy that was crystallised pineapple. Tart and sweet and chewy and unctuous, it tingled his tongue and made him reach out for more. “Fantastic!” Horace agreed, “Do they deliver by owl?” They both laughed.

The second thing crept up somewhat by surprise. Strolling along and chatting, Horace was fortified by sugar, and nice, solid ground beneath his feet; he had barely noticed the fact that the two of them had entered a makeshift cove with little boats, or that Albus had passed a few coins to a wizard on the way in.

“Hop aboard,” invited Albus, and when they had settled side-by-side on the cosy seat, the vessel started, very gently, to move.

“Oho, what’s this?” He dearly hoped it wasn’t going to involve another impossible drop.

"Nothing to worry about," Albus reassured him, even as they glided forward into what seemed to a subterranean structure of some kind - sparsely lit by only a few multi-coloured fairies hovering hither and yon, with gentle music lapping their ears as water lapped the boat. The whole effect was peaceful, and rather lovely.

In the back of his mind, Horace puzzled that - the last time he had checked - there weren't any tunnels in Hogsmeade, and that this must be some kind of elaborate illusion... but such rational thoughts were weak and trifling in comparison to the glorious heat seeping through his robes from Albus' leg pressed against his own, or the way their shoulders touched on the back of the little pew.

Albus turned, and sent another of those wonderful molten-chocolate smiles in Horace's direction. "-Which is not to say that it would be at all unwelcome if you were to hold my hand again, however..."

"Oh?" Horace couldn't quite believe his ears, caught somewhere between excitement and embarrassment.

Albus, however, had no time for such hesitation. He slid his hand into Horace's, caressing the palm with a seductive thumb. “You know, Horace - ever since you joined the staff, it has been a real pleasure to get to know you better…”

"That sentiment... it's mutual," Horace managed, mentally pinching himself.

"Oh, good..." Albus smiled again - and all of a sudden, his smile was very close. - So close, in fact, that it was touching Horace's.

The kiss was soft at first; exploratory. But when Horace's answer was a small, needy noise rather than any form of complaint, Albus redoubled his efforts, twining lips and tongue and tangling his elegant hands in sandy hair and expensive robes.

By that point, Horace had abandoned thinking, and was fully given-over to feeling. The auburn mane that he had so admired really did seem like silk beneath his fingers, and Albus was so vibrant and pulsing with life, the intoxication was far stronger than anything that could be brewed in Greenhouse Five.

Warm hands slipped beneath robes and undid buttons and drawstrings. Air came in short, fractious gasps, and blood sang with want and need, making them both bolder, and bolder still.

Horace's head span as Albus' touch was everywhere, and then... Oh! They both released a strangled cry, and collapsed as much as the small confines of the boat would allow, forehead on chest, and vision dancing with patches of black amid the fairy-lights.

Slowly catching his breath, Horace reflected that it was a jolly good job that this tunnel was on the darkish side, and, as far as he could tell, it was perfectly private. It was also a good job that they both knew a decent cleaning charm, and could apply it without too much fuss.

Afterwards, when they emerged once more into the throng, Horace felt suddenly shy. That wonderful thing that had just happened - might it happen again? Could they talk about it, or should he just consign the event to random chance?

As ever with Albus, he need not have worried. They milled around together a little more, trying some exotic treats and tipples, and re-uniting with their friends – and, at the end of the evening, the two of them walked back to the castle hand-in-hand, accompanied by Filius, his hair wildly styled by the wind; Galatea, sporting a smirk and the boxer shorts she had removed from three young men; and Herbert, singing 'The Ode of Olgarf the Obnoxious' at the top of his lungs.

Lips flushed with kisses, and a sensation of free-fall to surpass even The Plunge of Death, Horace was sure that this All Hallows' Eve had been a very memorable one, indeed.
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