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Title: Council of Obvious Edicts
Author name: Icarus
Author email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sub Category: Humour
Summary: Harry's invited to the Wizengamot Grande Council of Obvious Edicts: "Oh god… kill me now…." And this was the man that so many wanted for Minister of Magic.
DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. Story (c)2004 Icarus Ancalion.
Author notes: Thank you to Rosesanguina and Electric Android for the last-minute beta review (glad you had fun). Thank you to Lizard for making me write it in chat. :D The story, of course, is for the Percy Ficathon.
Council of Obvious Edicts
"And then it goes like this."
Percy made his half-turn, thick dress robes fanning out around him. The sultry staccato of the music paused, and he suddenly stopped as fabric furled about his legs. Then he swung his shoulders back the other way, moving into the next step with a delicate turn of his wrist.
Harry smiled from his sprawl on Percy's loveseat, taking a lazy sip of wine. Traditional wizarding ballroom dancing was definitely strange, but…
"You know, Percy, you're getting pretty good." He toasted the floor show and popped another chocolate into his mouth. A month ago, Percy couldn't keep his balance to save his life. Now his movements were smooth, elegant, if a bit too perfect -- he wasn't particularly musical. Percy beamed and shoved his glasses up the bridge of his nose. Compliments were like food to him, and Harry smiled at the soft light in his eyes.
The coat rack enchanted to be Percy's dance partner skimmed the doorway, narrowly missing a lampshade. Harry ducked as it spun circles around the couch, bowed, and pirouetted. Amazingly, it didn't knock anything over in the tiny apartment stuffed with pictures, drapes, furniture and fussy knick-knacks. Percy's desk at work was pristine and uncluttered. His flat, on the other hand, reminded Harry of a bed and breakfast. With less room to walk.
"I still think the coat-rack has all the hard moves," Harry said.
"Oh, shush. I'm not going to dance the girl's part." Harry snickered at this and Percy flushed and picked up his wand. "Absterso! Take ten," he said.
It abruptly halted mid-step, then fell over with a thump.
He stooped and borrowed a sip of Harry's wine, edging a knee between Harry's legs as he leaned over to catch the glass. He smelled faintly of sweat, and was breathing hard as he swallowed. He nodded over the wine as he handed it back. "Trust me, you're the only person who's ever going to see this."
"What? You dancing with a coat rack?"
Percy choked. "No. My dancing at all."
Percy flushed. "I dunno… I'd feel silly."
"Of course you do, dancing with furniture. But you're not bad."
Percy shook his head. "Who would I dance with? Besides, you know…." Percy inclined his head shyly to Harry. His eyelashes swept up and down.
Hermione didn't understand what Harry saw in Percy, but no one saw him like this. Relaxed, sweet, child-like, and…
"You're staring at me." Percy blinked at him, transfixed.
"Take your robe off," Harry said on sudden impulse. He set his glass on one of the dinky tables. "I want to see you dance naked for me."
"Oh come on…" Percy backed away and spun out of his grasp, though Harry kept a grip on his robe. Percy ducked and pulled but succeeded only in exposing a shoulder. He giggled as Harry made another grab.
"I'm not --" he yipped "-- an --" his top buttons pulled loose "oh, god, you're tickling me --" he snickered as Harry caught him about the waist. "-- an exotic dancer."
Grinning, Harry pinned Percy to the wardrobe mirror, a pale freckled shoulder reflected in the cool glass. He ducked his head to taste Percy's nipple.
"You don't fight fair…" Percy panted as his expression melted. They slid to the floor.
"And you fight like a girl." Harry tried to roll on top though Percy squirmed away, legs flailing.
"I'm not…" Percy laughed.
"You throw like a girl… fly like a girl…" Harry pinned one leg, grabbed an arm, and pressed him to the carpet. Percy went limp with a huff of breath. Gritting his teeth, he moved Harry's hand to the smooth bulge of his crotch.
"Is that like a girl?" Then he kissed him back aggressively.
Harry caressed him through the robes, with a murmured 'no' and 'you like that, hmm?' Percy's chuckle was lost in the kiss. They parted with a wet smack, sprawled out with Percy trapped against the carved oak wardrobe.
"You even dance like a girl…" Harry continued, grinning, as he rolled onto his side.
Percy lifted his head from where he lolled on the floor and laughed. "I do not."
"You always let me lead," Harry pointed out more sincerely.
"You take the lead." Percy pillowed an arm behind his head. "Anyway, it's different with you."
Harry stretched out on the carpet, leaning up on an elbow over him. "So. Put it on."
"No." Percy's voice was petulant, but his eyes were full of naughty mischief.
After a dramatic pause, he smirked and then popped the wardrobe open, swinging the door over their heads. His clothes were fanatically sorted by colour. Harry had a hard time keeping Percy out of his closets whenever they slept at his place, one reason he stayed at Percy's. "Your organiser spells are ridiculous."
"They're handy," Percy felt around the bottom of the wardrobe for a battered silver cardboard box he dragged onto his chest. He spelled it open, and pulled out the stiff black fabric. "Help me lace up," he said, stripping off his robes. Harry sat up on his knees as Percy wrapped the smooth satin corset around his waist and leaned forward against the wardrobe, his bare bottom pressed out primly.
Harry grinned as he evened up the laces, toying with them. "You don't really have to wear this under witches robes, you know."
Percy gave Harry a sarcastic glance over his shoulder. "I can also be shaped like Professor Sprout, but who wants to look like that? Hurry up, I can only hold my breath for so long."
He grunted as Harry gave the laces a good steady yank, cinching Percy's waist in a slow, firm grip. Percy's lips made a little 'oh' in the mirror, but he said in a strained voice, "Can you pull it little tighter?"
Harry shook his head and sat back on his heels. "You're going to hurt yourself. Women used to faint in these things."
"I'm made of sterner stuff." He sighed as Harry gave him a look. "I only passed out the once, and that had more to do with sex than anything else. You should feel complimented.
"…please?" Percy's pleading eyes were soft, reflected in the mirror.
Harry snickered, but only pulled it a half-inch tighter before tying off the laces in a rather sloppy bow. He couldn't resist sliding his hands down the arch of Percy's waist now, warm and firm.
Percy fluffed his short hair and stretched out on his side, posing like the centerfold of Witch & Broomstick, smooth legs curled back. He let one hand slide down the curve of his dramatically accentuated hips. In the mirror behind Percy, the corset squeezed and hugged the smooth mounds of an already well-rounded arse, soft from years behind a desk. Then he reached down to stroke his very hard (and strikingly out-of-place) dick.
"God." Harry almost laughed, glancing at the ceiling; it never failed to amaze him, the moment of disorientation where he tried to look at Percy's cock, his arse, everything at once. Which was why Percy did this in front of the mirror, drinking in Harry's rapt expression with a slow, predatory smile. Though what Harry liked best was the way Percy's face softened when he put it on. Everything that was prissy became delicate, graceful.
He was a nice-looking bloke, but as a witch? He out-classed, well, everyone. Though he was a bit tall. Harry sighed again at having to keep this, what he had, hidden away. He took in the view and adjusted himself.
"Incredible." Harry ran his hand through his hair. "You're completely convincing. Except the hair's too short."
"Oh, well, I found something new. Hand me my wand," Percy said imperiously. Harry snapped it up, and brought Percy the chocolates, too. "Watch." As he muttered the charm, his hair lengthened by several inches, falling in soft waves about his face.
"It can't go any longer or it'll break off." He tucked a strand behind his ear and gave Harry a rueful look. "I've tried."
"It's nice. All you need now are tits."
Percy cleared his throat and leaned an arm on Harry's knee, accepting the chocolate Harry pressed to his lips with a little surprised grunt. "In order to do that, I'd have to, um, give up my attachment to certain other parts," he looked at Harry meaningfully, "ones that I happen to rather like."
"Oh." Harry cringed. "Never mind then."
Percy slid his hand down to Harry's lap. "Oh dear. That seems to have frightened someone."
Harry chuckled, leaning luxuriously back on his elbows. "I'll recover," he said, and Percy stroked him more firmly. Harry bit his lip, arching his hips into Percy's hand with a moan. "Especially if you keep doing that."
Percy grinned and shifted next to Harry for a better angle. The corset made him bow his chest slightly forward, flat nipples tantalizingly close. His lips were parted, breath prim and light. His head dipped as he unzipped Harry's trousers and peeled his pants down.
Harry shut his eyes to enjoy his silky cool stroke, the weight of his grip tenderly sliding up the shaft. The teasing pad of Percy's thumb made circles on the tip of his head. Harry whimpered softly.
A soft voice murmured by his ear, "So. Would you want me to go femme? I mean, all the way?"
"Hmmph?" Harry's eyes blinked open to Percy's worried eyes. "Percy… why do you always bring up these things during sex?"
"I just want to know." His hand reached further, cupping and massaging Harry's balls. Which made it really hard to think. "I've considered it from time to time."
"Don't you want to stay who you are?" Harry tried to squint up at him, but just then Percy chose to deepen his stroke.
"But do you like who I am? It is a little strange, I know --"
"Dammit, Percy. Yes."
"Well, sometimes I think you're more bisexual than homosexual…."
"Percy." That made Harry sit up. "I'm already called 'the Boy-Who-Lived' and whatever other shite people make up. Saddle me with one more label and I'll hex your dick off myself. Then you can go ahead and get those tits, if you want."
"Oh." Percy blinked, considering. "It would be rather hard to explain to mum."
"Not to mention Ron." Harry leaned over and grasped him by that tiny waist, and with a grunt, rolled him on top. Percy squirmed up and straddled Harry, his long white legs sprawled gazelle-like to either side.
"Look. You're not weird, princess," Harry sighed. Percy flushed at his nickname, dipping his head coyly. "You just think too much."
"Hmm." Percy sat back on Harry's lap. "I don't suppose you have a solution to this terrible plight of 'thinking'?" He wriggled slightly and watched Harry's face.
"I might." Harry smiled up at him, hands absently sliding up and down his waist. His smile spread to a grin. "But do you mind if we get off the floor?"
Percy looked so good on the bed, arse presented and framed in black as he clutched the headboard. His little sighs, the graceful shifts of his long legs as pressed back towards Harry, eager and sweet.
His indescribable squeak when Harry surprised him with his tongue.
The tumble of white sheets and soft light, where they found themselves on the edge of the bed, sideways, with no idea how that happened. Percy's bright toothy grin over Harry as he panted, and fondled Harry, ignoring that they might fall off. His hair a mess as he bit his lip while Harry pressed his fingers up into him.
"Did you know you're beautiful?" Harry said. "Hmm…" Percy answered with sleepy pleasure, mouth soft and eyes almost closed.
He cupped Harry's arse as they sat up, and brought Harry closer, trailing sloppy warm kisses across his cheek. Percy bit his ear and Harry arched convulsively, off-rhythm, his heart thrumming. His dick stroked slowly up the cleft of Percy's arse.
"I want to try it on your lap…" Percy murmured. His chin slid across Harry's chest, damp and cool.
"Yeah," Harry breathed. His hands trailed down the firm line of Percy's arms. "Turn around."
"No. Facing you."
"Oh hell, Percy," Harry laughed. "How?"
Harry stretched and kicked off white sheets that smelled musky and damp with sex. Percy grabbed at them and pulled them back to his waist with an irritable mutter, 'you'll freeze me.' The corset was flung over Percy's tie rack; Harry's clothes were scattered over the floor.
Percy's glance slid over Harry's chest and he snuggled closer, wrinkling his nose.
"You're all sticky."
Harry snorted. "Wonder how that happened?" He played with a strand of Percy's hair, hoping they could keep it long all weekend.
"Can't imagine." Percy chuckled and nuzzled Harry anyway, his soft cheek brushing a kiss.
Harry smiled and rumpled Percy's hair. And suddenly groaned. "Oh, bugger. I have to work tomorrow…."
"How on earth do you manage to shift gears like that? Here I am, enjoying a nice glow, and you go and spoil it by talking about work."
"Can I borrow a robe?" Harry peered over at him ruefully. "I promise to transfigure the hem back."
Percy snorted. "If anyone from the Ministry sees you wearing my clothes, they're going to know something's up."
"Your stuff's nicer than mine." Harry glanced at the floor. "And cleaner."
"I'm going to start keeping your wardrobe here." Percy frowned.
"No one'll recognise it. It's that press event for Hermione's thing, and then that dinner."
"The Hermione 'thing'?" Percy's face rolled towards him on the pillow. "You don't even know what cause you're supporting, do you?"
"It's Hermione. Whatever it is, she'd kill me if I didn't."
"She'll be more impossible once she learns you don't understand it." Percy shook his head, then rolled onto his stomach, looking up at Harry coyly. "Can you at least cancel that dinner? I promise not to cook. It's not as if there's a Ministry event this weekend -- I'd know."
Harry hooked the sheet back up with his toe, and yawned. "Hmm. No. Not Ministry. It's Dumbledore's speech to the ten millionth annual Wizengamot. Six hours of small talk and speeches." He stared blankly at the ceiling. "I'd better borrow some of your Dragon!Alert potion, too."
"What?" Percy bolted upright, sheets pooled around his waist. "You-- you're going to the Keynote address? Dumbledore's presentation to the Wizengamot Grand Council of Obvious Edicts?"
"Yeah. That sounds like it." Harry shrugged. "I think."
"How did you manage to wrangle an invitation?"
"Wrangle? Yeah, it was tough. Dumbledore asked me and I said 'yes.' Then I found out too late what it was."
"Found out too late…Harry." Percy made a disgusted sound. "That meeting will chart the course of international policy for the next-- the next decade. At least! The only one from the Ministry who's invited is the Minister himself. We're only going to hear this in dribs and drabs," he complained. "It's all garbled by the time it trickles down to us…."
"Just the Minister? Oh. Small group then."
"Small? There'll be representatives and delegates from all over the world!"
"Oh great. A group that doesn't speak English -- an evening of grunts and hand signals. This is going to be a night to remember."
"Ugh. Good fortune is wasted on the fortunate. I'd give my right arm to be there."
Harry rubbed his eyes. "But you'd need that arm to signal."
"Harry, I happen to speak two languages," Percy said archly.
"The other's Trollish, isn't it?"
Percy gave him a dismal look, but didn't answer.
"Grunts would serve you well there, eh?"
"Clearly not," Percy folded his arms, "since I'm not invited." He dropped back to the pillow, burying his head. "I don't believe it. I struggle to get ahead, and it all just drops into your lap."
"I'm sorry, Percy. I didn't know it was such a big deal."
Harry was thoughtful for a moment. "You could go as my date. It would be a pretty public coming out but…." He glanced up to find Percy open-mouthed. "Look, it's better not to have secrets. Then there's nothing for people to find out."
"Thanks, but my department already has a token homosexual, and I'd like to be promoted someday."
Harry made a helpless gesture. If Percy wouldn't help himself then there wasn't much he could do. He folded his arms behind his head, flexing to get a kink out of his back -- some of the positions Percy liked took a gymnast. Though he did look pretty good in them, especially with that corset on. And the longer hair. He scratched absently, looking at the ceiling. "Too bad we can't just put you in a dress. No one'll be able to tell."
They turned to each other in amazement as it dawned on them. Then Harry slowly smiled.
"No. Oh no, not a chance, Harry," Percy said in flat voice, one hand out, forestalling him. "It's not even open for debate."
"I've no idea how you talked me into this."
The carriage rocked over a rut as Percy checked his make-up in a compact for the hundredth time, tipping his cheek critically. He snapped it shut with a click. His hair was styled in a soft, wavy bob, curling under a sharp chin with one strand that kept falling forward (Percy had refused the hairpin as "too fussy"). Harry rather liked it, though Percy swiped it off his face in a frustrated gesture.
"My hair's frizzy."
"It's frizzy. And they're going to know it's me."
"They're going to know it's me, I'm going to be a laughingstock on Monday and I'll never, ever show my face at work again." He leaned forward to the driver. "Sir, stop the carriage -- we've changed our minds."
As this was the fourth time he'd said it, the pointy-eared imp ignored him with an impatient backward glance.
"Shit!" Harry laughed. "Percy, at least watch your voice."
"I can't speak falsetto all night. I think my parts will fall off." He chewed a long manicured nail, then flicked his hands. "This is never going to work. I'm a man, Harry."
"You look great. And the table's off to the side. It'll work. The only person you know is Minister Bromburg."
"And Professor Dumbledore," Percy pointed out, arching an elegant sculpted eyebrow, chin raised defiantly.
"He's not a problem."
"Oh?" Funny how those prissy gestures seemed so delicate with Percy in earrings.
Harry sighed and leaned back in the velvet cushions as the carriage swayed. A wisp of cloud breezed by the window. "You fooled the hairdressers, didn't you?"
Percy gave him a doubtful look and his lips thinned. True, there'd been a big tip in it for them, and they'd enjoyed Percy a little too much. The manicurist had insisted Percy lose the bright red lipstick, though neither he nor Harry understood their cheerful talk of "soft" verses "harsh" shades or why a "gloss" made his lips look fuller. (Was that important?) But the results….
Percy pouted, mouth glisten-y pink and soft, and his eyes seemed a much brighter blue, though Harry wasn't sure what they did. He sat up primly, running a finger uncomfortably along the inside of his high collar as he gazed out the window. An illusory cleavage (probably some enhancement charm?) shifted in the "keyhole" opening of his blouse, and Harry's eyebrows raised as he couldn't resist looking down his shirt. He'd like to know how Percy had managed that.
"Hmm." Percy gave him a suspicious glance and tugged and smoothed his skirt, squirming. A cross-breeze caught the carriage with a shudder. "I'm not sure I like the green. Don't you think a basic black dress would have been more--?"
"Hermione says it's the latest fashion. Brights are in."
Percy's frowned slightly. "What does Hermione have to do with this?"
"Oh. Er, she mentioned it. Around."
"Well. I appreciate your picking out the dress for me at any rate. I could hardly go into a salon and ask 'hello, what size am I ?'" He yanked at the skirt again. "But it's far too short, Harry."
Harry scanned Percy's long legs as he crossed them, the hem riding up and revealing a pale flash of shapely thigh, as Percy turned to the window again.
Harry cleared his throat. "Um. I don't think it can be."
The carriage suddenly banked left, and Harry and Percy clung to the seat, hangings rattling. Then it lurched, bounced heavily, and the sudden crunching of the wheels paused. They thumped forward as the carriage stopped.
"Oh. God. We're here," Percy said in a panicked voice, clutching the seat.
He pulled his glasses out of his purse to peer out the window at a gathering crowd.
"Percy." Harry hurriedly drew his wand. He transfigured Percy's signature horn-rims into something more like his own, and they stared at each other with mixed relief and dumbfounded fear.
"Oh, how stupid could we be…" Percy began, forgetful of his voice again. But Harry pulled Percy's hand away from his mouth.
"Come on, pretty, you'll mess up your lipstick for the pictures."
Harry couldn't resist the evil smile as he clambered over him. He kicked the carriage door open before the driver could hop down and held out his hand. "Here goes. Just the usual gantlet. Quick -- maybe we can sneak past before they spot us."
There wasn't a chance in hell, but it did get Percy out of the carriage and into the barrage of reporters and glittering cameras. Harry wrapped his arm around Percy's waist, pulling him forward as he stared bug-eyed into the lights, mouth open, momentarily frozen in place, legs spraddled like a giraffe.
Harry tucked him closer, and Percy ducked his head and hissed under his breath into Harry's ear, "I'm going to get you for this…." But as he staggered on the high heels, he turned his attention to walking -- head down, away from the reporters.
"Mr Potter! Mr Potter! Do you have a moment?"
A tall fellow in a brown peaked hat waved. His press card read The Mesmer Times.
To Percy's consternation, Harry paused and answered, "Sure." The gritted bright smile Percy turned on Harry was pure fury.
"Mr Potter. What brings you to the Wizengamot this year?"
"Oh, Professor Dumbledore invited me. I'm really looking forward to it." Harry grinned casually. Percy muttered between his teeth, "liar…" and Harry nudged him with an elbow.
"Are you going to be voting on the International Unified Antagonism Agreement?"
Harry laughed nervously, "Oh no. I'm not a voting member. My role's strictly honorary." From somewhere over his left shoulder he heard Percy mumble, "you mean a publicity stunt…" Harry cleared his throat. "But I'm sure it's a good idea, with Dark Lords running around and all that."
The press chuckled, their quills scratching on pads.
"What?" Percy rolled his eyes and turned to him in a huff. "The IUAA is a travesty."
Harry softly sing-songed through his teeth in a forced smile, "Princess… it's not my job to speak for Dumbledore…."
Percy ignored Harry, and leaned over to the reporter. "If you ask me, the Antagonism Agreement ought to be tossed out until they include the smaller developing nations, which, I note, have natural resources -- such as Swaziland's newly discovered Well of Singing Swans -- that such an agreement would place at risk. It would take only to slightest excuse for these assets to be seized under paragraph 11, item 4 of the current draft."
"Ah." The reporter looked blankly back and forth between Percy and Harry. "Are you, ah, a voting member, Miss…?"
"Um," Harry rubbed his forehead, "this is, um… Per - Primula Morgenstern."
"Are you a voting member then, Miss Morgenstern?"
Percy glared down his nose at the man. "The world would be a better place if I were."
Harry grabbed Percy's elbow, "Okay. Yes. Right. Come along, sweetheart, we don't want to be late." He nodded to the gathered press corps. "Thank you very much." The cameras flashed as the reporters descended like crows on the next official carriage.
"Primula who?" Percy muttered into Harry's hair, clutching his arm for balance. "That's not the name we agreed on!"
"I'm sorry, but I couldn't think of anything other than Percy bloody Weasley with you running your mouth." Harry flushed as he led Percy through the crush. "Bugger it, Percy, that's going to be completely scrambled and attributed to me by morning."
"If you have the attention of the press I think you should use it." Percy squeezed his handbag tighter under his elbow, wobbling on his heels slightly. "At least try not to be completely ignorant of political matters."
"You can't throw details at them!"
"Tsk. Since when is the press not interested in the facts?"
There was a familiar shrill voice and a green-clad arm waved behind them. "Harry! Harry Potter! Do you have a word for your fans at Witch Weekly?"
Harry rolled his eyes and moved faster, but three of her photographers had already adroitly stepped in front of the doors, blocking their way. Rita Skeeter's suit was an identical green to Percy's dress, her crisp curls lacquered in place, and her smile wide and predatory.
Percy nudged forward, casting a haughty glance at Harry. "Yes, Harry and I were just discussing the questionable value of the IUAA…."
"That's lovely, could you stand a little closer together, please? -- Thank you." A camera flashed. "And you are --?"
"Primula Morgenstein." With an irritated glance at Harry.
"Morgenstern," Harry corrected, and Percy shot him a darker look.
"So how long have you been seeing each other?" Rita gave them a hard smile, her eyes flicking back and forth between the two.
"Oh, ah, well, not that long really… a few months…" Percy said uncomfortably.
Harry cut in, edging towards the door. "We mustn't keep everyone waiting, love."
"Would you consider this a serious relationship?" she leered, stepping between them, close to Percy's elbow. She wore a cloying perfume. Percy stared down at her, dumbfounded. "I'm not sure what business is it of yours. But we were just discussing article eleven, section -- I mean, item four and --"
Rita gave him a broad smile. "Charming. Would you consider Mr Potter 'a catch' then?"
"I don't really think of people in those sorts of term--" But he suddenly found himself dipped backwards, warm arms around his waist as Harry's lips pressed against him in a hasty, sloppy kiss. The world turned upside-down. People clapped and there was a burst of laughter, cameras flashing. Harry tipped him back up like a fluffy, red-haired doll. Percy staggered slightly as Harry led him away with a cheerful wave to the happy, cheering crowd.
"Was that spectacle really necessary?" Percy snapped, straightening his hair as they dodged through the broad carved doors.
"Hey, it got us out of there before you fucked up irretrievably."
"It's not my fault. She wasn't listening to me," Percy scowled as he trailed in Harry's wake. "What's the point of doing an interview if you don't plan on listening?"
Harry smirked back at him. "That's one of the great mysteries of interviews. Let me know when you figure it out."
Fortunately, Harry spotted their table right away, tucked in the corner of the ballroom, down a level and to the far left of the empty podium. None of the Wizengamot members had yet arrived. Percy gazed up at the main hall as they threaded their way through a maze of chatting dignitaries. He straightened and cleared his throat, clearly trying not to seem too impressed. But his eyes were everywhere and he lagged behind Harry as craned about for a better look, purse dangling in his hands like a forgotten toy.
The ballroom was half the size of a Quidditch stadium, with a broad floor dotted with tiny round tables. Starlight flickered overhead and the walls were draped in purple and gold, the colours of the Wizengamot Grande Council. An agent for the MLE, stiff-backed and alert, scowled at the guests from the corner of the platform, while several house-elves dragged an enormous megaphone in front of the podium. The milling crowd on the main floor was still relatively small, picking around empty chairs. Their voices and polite chatter echoed.
The placard in their centre-piece read Harry Potter and Guest, somewhat to Percy's annoyance. He edged his seat in as Harry tossed his jacket on the empty one. Percy carefully smoothed his skirt and pulled out his compact to fix his lipstick, then tucked his glasses inside his purse. He traded smiles with a man next to them, whose eyes trailed down Percy's legs appreciatively.
Percy leaned over and whispered to Harry, "Don't look now, but you have some competition." He ducked his head and grinned mischievously, eyes sparkling with amusement. Harry glanced over his shoulder.
"Should I be worried?"
"Well, dress me like a hussy and I'll act like one." Percy scanned the room with a pleased smile that belied the comment. "It's too short. Everyone else is in floor-length gowns, Harry."
"I'm sure it's okay, Perc-- Primula. I checked."
"I bet I have better legs than them at any rate." Percy scanned the women, eyes hooded and smug. "Though it suddenly occurs to me --" he suddenly leaned over and gave Harry a nervous peck on the cheek "-- that I can kiss you in public right now."
Harry grinned and poured Percy some water, scrubbing at his face. "I can dress you up, but I can't take you anywhere."
"Hmph. You have no worries about the competition," Percy leaned left and right, peering over at the other table. "Tsk-tsk. That fellow's a married man and shouldn't be looking at other women."
Harry teased, "You mean you don't look?"
Percy gave him a pointed stare. Harry paused and cast about guiltily for a change of topic. He gulped a long drink of water, ice cubes clinking, as if it were the most interesting thing in the room.
Percy looked away sheepishly. "Besides, we're hardly married."
Harry grumbled and slumped back in his chair, folding his arms. "Everyone looks."
"So do you look at women or men, Harry?" Percy gave him a penetrating look.
Harry sighed, running his hand through his hair in frustration, but was saved as a small wizard stepped up to the podium and stood behind a huge megaphone that was curled like an ox-horn. The ballroom was probably too small for Sonorous Charms.
The lights dimmed, and Percy hushed Harry with a dainty gesture, sitting up prim and attentive. He was getting into the 'femme' thing, Harry noted with amusement.
"It's about to begin," he whispered excitedly.
Harry mocked a snore.
Ten or twelve dwarves filed onto the stage, armed with smaller megaphones, and lined up along the front. They squared their shoulders importantly. Then the little wizard cleared his throat.
"Welcome to the Grande Council of Obvious Edicts. We are pl--" And the dwarves all began speaking into their megaphones at once, in different languages, drowning him out in a cacophony of competing voices.
Harry's mouth fell, and he glanced over at Percy. He was listening, calmly attentive, while everyone else in the room nodded with polite interest as if they could understand every word. The dwarves took a collective breath.
"-- and on this august occa--" Harry managed to catch, before they started up again.
Harry leaned over finally. "Psst. Percy --"
"Sh! I can't hear."
"Percy, how can you understand this?"
Percy waved him off irritably. "Just listen to your language and Ignore the rest."
Harry squinted and tried to figure out which dwarf was speaking English, but it was impossible to tell. He thought the one on the far left was speaking French. Percy glanced over at him irritably and then slipped his wand out of his blouse. "Illia Vacatur."
"Sh!" Several people at neighboring tables stirred and glared at him.
But the other languages had suddenly ceased. Only one English-speaking voice rang out in the echoing hall.
"You were supposed to have done that before you arrived," Percy muttered under his breath as he slid the wand back. He returned his rapt, bright-eyed attention to the speaker.
The wizard droned on, now just as boring as Harry had expected. Someone coughed and Harry blinked to try to stay awake. He wondered if maybe it wasn't more interesting before.
It was all quite fascinating, the grand pomp and circumstance, the centuries-old parliamentary procedures. Percy was seeing for the first time wizards whose names were all over The History of Magic, who held positions of power and steered the courses of nations. He kicked Harry in the shins under the table.
"Pwah -?" Harry sputtered, shaking himself awake.
"You were snoring."
"Is it over?"
"No, you haven't missed anything vital," Percy reassured him in a whisper. "They've only just finished roll."
Harry laid his head in his arms on the table. "Oh god… kill me now…."
And this was the man that so many wanted for Minister of Magic.
The worst part was that he'd probably win. Percy had offered to vote for Harry, on the condition that he ran as a puppet leader. "Puppet for whom?" Harry had asked, stretching naked on the couch. Percy had merely smiled guiltily and was rewarded with a barrage of throw pillows. He'd only been half-kidding actually.
Harry brightened though, as Dumbledore slowly mounted the platform and made a little nod to the previous speaker. "He goes first?" Harry leaned forward.
"Shh," said Percy, thinking, Keynote Address, Harry, Keynote. He chafed his arms, the dangling pearls an uncomfortable tug on his ears. It was a pity he wouldn't have a chance to meet any of the Council members afterwards -- Dumbledore would introduce them he was sure. But he could hardly hold out his hand and say, "Hello. I'm Percy Weasley, gay wizard in a dress. I look forward to sitting beside you one of these days." It was good to be remembered. However.
Dumbledore twinkled at them all, and made a joke comparing his august companions to truant First Years wishing to "scamper off" at earliest opportunity -- completely inappropriate given the solemnity of the occasion. Percy silently shut his eyes and tried not to wince, though everyone present laughed, including Harry. Especially Harry. Percy frowned at him.
But at long last the dotty old Professor meandered to the point of his presentation, setting forth the official recognition of three new wizarding states, and, thank goodness, he recommended the IUAA be "subjected to endless study by large committees full of quibblers."
Dumbledore glanced over in Percy's direction, twinkling at him. "After all, not all things are as they seem. We make assumptions based upon appearances and that blinds us to the truth."
It fit smoothly into the speech, but Percy froze.
He saw through the dress and everything. The IUAA was Percy's issue, though of course everyone who was anyone was against it, but he had stuck his neck out a bit on it and he was sitting there in a dress and pearls and a moonstone ring, wearing make-up and with Harry, and Harry said that he shouldn't worry about Dumbledore -- it was because Dumbledore knew.
Percy shrank in on himself, feeling suddenly like he had no clothes on at all. He quietly considered crawling under the table, but discarded that idea as impractical in a short dress.
Harry laughed at Dumbledore's closing remarks and clapped with the rest. Percy used the roaring applause as a cover to nudge Harry's foot in a panic.
Harry turned to him distractedly. "Percy, you all right? You look like you saw your own ghost."
"He- he looked at me. Dumbledore. He recognised me."
Harry made a casual gesture. "Oh. Yeah, he figured you'd be here. He's known about us a long time, Percy."
But the applause had died out, and the next wizard rose to give his speech. Harry hushed him. "Um. Shh. You could miss something, all right?"
Percy turned towards the stage, blinking wide-eyed. But he couldn't think of anything except to wonder if Dumbledore had been in the room when he kissed Harry earlier, and what kind of impression that must have made.
The other speakers passed in a blur, while Percy worked out that:
a) Dumbledore had very liberal policies at Hogwarts. But he was eccentric and unpredictable and there was no way to be sure of his discretion; and,
b) He was very well-connected, but Percy didn't know his specific political allies and where any untoward 'rumours' might go; and,
c) He could not have simply asked, could he? So Harry had to have mentioned something, which was expressly against Percy's wishes. Except that sometimes Dumbledore did surprise one into blurting things out one didn't intend to say. He had embarrassed Percy as Head Boy on more than one occasion. So therefore,
d) He and Harry were going to have a little talk. At the earliest possible opportunity.
Percy's beady gaze narrowed and settled on Harry, and he took a long, slow sip of water. Harry watched Percy warily out of the corner of his eye, tipping away from him in his chair. A lacquered nail tapped on the edge of his glass. Anyone with any survival instinct would recognise the patented Molly Weasley 'just-wait-till-I-get-you-home' frozen smile.
At the end of the final speech, the room erupted in applause, and waiters descended from the halls and began to circulate, carrying trays of drinks and hors d'oeuvres. Harry quickly stood, snatching up his jacket. "You stay right here, I'll, um, fetch us some drinks." He dodged around a plump, laughing wizard, stuffing his arm in a sleeve, before Percy could even open his mouth. He momentarily considered tottering after Harry on high heels and decided against it, fuming.
"Hello." There was a warm voice behind Percy. He startled, and turned to find the man who'd been flirting with him earlier.
"Do you mind if I sit here?" He settled into Harry's chair without waiting for an answer, straightening his well-tailored robes. "That was Harry Potter, wasn't it?"
Percy stared at him, mouth slightly open.
"I've heard he's a little… odd." He peered through the crowd while Percy continued to stare at him. "Do you know him well?"
"What do you mean?" Percy asked, nearly forgetting to shift his voice.
"Well, a gentleman doesn't leave a pretty miss alone in a crowd."
His eyes were hooded and he seemed to be looking slightly lower than Percy's face. Percy choked on a laugh. His jaw worked and he finally said, "I - ah - I'm afraid you're quite mistaken." He smothered a bemused smile. "I don't know Harry Potter."
"Oh. I thought - he looked…"
"But my husband Harold should be back any moment now," Percy fixed him with a determined look, "and I believe he'll be needing his chair."
"Husband?" The man sat up. "I'm sorry, I didn't realise…."
It was satisfying to watch him go, though Percy looked around for Harry, his actual target. Really. 'Harry' and 'Harold', the name-plate on the table that said Harry Potter right in front of him, and the man couldn't figure it out? Good looks were squandered on some people. Harry at least had brains enough to ask Percy out on a business dinner for what turned out to be their first date. "What sort of proposition do you have in mind?" Percy had asked in all innocence. Harry had given him the most devious grin.
And he certainly knew when to run. Percy nodded to several wizards in tall peaked caps who edged past, and rotated his foot inside the too-tight shoes. His toes were crushed. He finally pulled one off and began massaging the ball of his foot.
Percy felt the weight of a gaze behind him, and hoped blithely that it wasn't another masher. His hands suddenly paused as the person spoke:
"What the fuck, Percy?"
What on earth was he doing here? Percy caught a glimpse of the MLE uniform as he spun in his chair.
"No. Don't turn around. I'm not supposed to fraternize with the guests while on duty."
"I've no idea who you mean, sir." Percy raised his voice in a falsetto. After all, he'd been successful only a moment before.
"Oh, come off it, Percy. I recognised you from across the room the moment you walked in."
Percy gave up and spluttered, dropping the shoe, "Damn it. Did everyone get invited to this thing besides me?"
Ron ignored that. "What are doing in a dress?" He sounded like he sounded like he was trying not to laugh.
Percy decided on a half-truth; Harry was the one for full-out lies. "Ah. Well, yes. Harry thought of a way to smuggle me in. Somehow I was left off the extensive guest list," he said with some asperity.
"So that's why he was kissing you?"
Percy knew his silence lasted a heartbeat too long. "It's all part of the cover," he said, trying not to sound desperate, and failing.
Ron cleared his throat. The silence stretched out painfully.
"Look, I have to get back to work or I'll get in trouble with the head of the MLE -- this place is locked up as tight as a drum. But. Um. Let's talk later."
Percy answered in a weak voice, "Sure."
Moments later, Harry returned with their drinks in hand.
"Careful," he said as he set them on the tablecloth, "I saw Ron about. I didn't realise he was doing security tonight." Harry glanced up. "If he sees you, just tell him we're having one over on Witch Weekly. He'll love it."
Percy whimpered, dropping his head into his hands.
"What? What's wrong?"
Percy looked up, and stared straight past Harry's shoulder, his jaw dropping.
"Why hello, Professor… Minister Bromburg," he said numbly. Harry spun around, knocking over his drink.
Professor Dumbledore waved his hand and the tablecloth dried. The glass tipped up and refilled in a stream of liquid from mid-air.
"My apologies for startling you, Harry." The Professor nodded to Percy. "Miss Morgenstern, my, don't you look elegant this evening?" Dumbledore twinkled at Percy, who had that naked feeling again. "Might we borrow Harry for a few moments? I promise we won't be long."
"Certainly," Percy squeaked.
They dragged Harry off between them. Harry looked backward at Percy, as Percy picked up Harry's drink and downed it in one long gulp.
Percy finished Harry's drink, his own and several others from a passing tray, but Harry still hadn't returned. That was when he saw Hermione on the arm of a foreign dignitary, wearing a dress with a low décolletage. Percy stared down it disapprovingly. To think Hermione was using her date just to get into the Council meeting. Shameless. Then he realised she was headed towards his table and…
"Oh darn it," she said, "where is he?" The Indian gentleman beside her wore the emblem of the Ministry of Bhutan and looked about as if Percy had hidden Harry under the flower arrangement. "I was hoping to speak to Harry. Have you seen him?"
Percy's heart sped up. Quickly, he affected his most feminine drawl. "Oh no, dear, I haven't."
"Honestly," Hermione huffed, "Isn't that just like him to abandon you at a state dinner?"
"I'm sor- I beg your pardon?"
She patted Percy's shoulder with a dainty warm hand. "Don't worry. I'll find him for you." She leaned over and whispered in Percy's ear in a conspirational tone. "Harry was right. You do pass beautifully." She winked as Percy's face fell.
Harry returned with a spring in his step. He spun a chair around and straddled it, grinning from ear to ear. "See? Everything's fine. I told you Professor Dumbledore wouldn't be a problem for--"
Percy stood up and shouted, flinging his napkin to the table, "Just what have you been telling people?!"
The room around them hushed. Wizards and witches turned in his direction as Percy stormed out of the room, clomping on his high heels.
Harry's hands fell to his sides.
Moments later, Harry pushed open the door of the men's room. It was dim, with grey marble walls and the faint echo of a drip. A pair of strappy green heels and bare legs were spraddled under one of the stalls. Percy didn't make a sound.
Harry leaned his forehead on the bare wood of the door for a long moment, and then sighed.
"You know, you probably shouldn't be in the men's room...."
"Damn it, Harry! You're telling everyone everything, Hermione's with a diplomat -- you didn't tell me -- Ron thinks I'm mad, Dumbledore knows, he'll probably tell the Minister, my career's ruined and this is all going to end up on the cover of Witch Weekly magazine!"
Harry snorted. "Princess. I don't think Dumbledore will tell the Minister."
Percy suddenly opened the door and Harry staggered forward a step.
He stood with the shoes in hand, his jaw firm. His lipstick was wiped clean. He gave Harry a steady clear-eyed look. "I'm going home."
He passed Harry, shoulders squared, taking no care to either walk or act like a woman. Ignoring the curious glances of people on their way to use the bathrooms, he stepped outside into the cool air and Apparated.
The door to Percy's tiny bedroom opened quietly. Soft light pooled on the blankets from the window over Percy's bed, framed in dark, gentle swoops. Percy's high heels were kicked off in the middle of the floor, but the dress was carefully smoothed on the chair in the corner. Percy slept on his side, and the blankets softly rose and fell. The bedroom door shut with a click.
Harry gingerly avoided knocking over the knick-knacks on Percy's crowded dresser as he pulled upon a drawer, though he grazed the dainty end-table beside the bed and caught it just in time. He stripped out of his robes in a slither of fabric, his bare skin and curly hair illumined blue, as turned them right-side out and climbed in under the covers. He spooned up behind Percy, who smelled like starch and soap.
Percy was in pyjamas. Never a good sign, since Harry was the one who taught him to sleep in the nude.
Percy sighed, and edged over a little to give Harry room.
Harry explained with a whisper, "Sorry I'm late. I ran into Ron. He, um, invited us to lunch."
Percy murmured sleepily, "Um-hmm." There was a puddle of light on his pillow, and his fluttering eyelashes looked white, his skin pale and washed out.
Harry leaned up, his elbow denting his pillow. "I'm sorry. I didn't think so many people we knew would be there."
Percy whispered, nuzzling the pillow as he shut his eyes, "We'll talk in the morning…" Harry cuddled into his back, asking, "You still mad at me?"
There was another soft sigh. "No. Yes. A little..." Percy blinked. "I don't know. It was a batty idea."
"I did get you into that speech."
"Good night, Harry."
The next morning was Sunday, and Percy, who usually read the paper first thing, avoided it.
Harry had cooked breakfast, which he almost never did, and the Wizarding Wireless was turned to classical bagpipe: Percy's music, which Harry despised. Percy accepted this apology without comment, though he pursed his lips and complained about Harry using every dish in the house to make breakfast. Harry gave him an irritated glance, but wisely retreated to the breakfast nook, his feet nudging under the table flounce.
Harry sipped tea and comfortably scanned the Quidditch section as Percy bumped around him and did the dishes, tidying up his little kitchen.
As he put away the last frying pan, Percy peered over. "You're leaning too close to that paper. I really think you need new glasses."
Harry turned the page without looking up. "No. I've always done this."
"Then you've always needed new glasses."
Harry gave him a frustrated look, then nudged the front page in his direction. "Are you ever going to read this?" He buried his head behind the paper, cracking it open.
Percy sat with a sigh. "I suppose I should get it over with."
He cringed at the teaser Exclusive Interview! in the table of contents, and folded it to the page, leaning on his palm. The headline said, "Boy Who Lives: Bumbling Bachelor? By Rita Skeeter."
Percy squinted at the photo of himself glancing rather disdainfully at Harry and rolling his eyes -- probably snapped when Harry made his idiotic remark about the IUAA. The caption read: "Miss Morgenstein has captured the elusive Boy Who Lived. But is he worth the chase?"
"The handsome and statuesque Miss Primula Morgenstein…--" Percy interrupted himself. "Statuesque? That's a just word for mawkishly tall."
"Keep reading," Harry said from behind the newspaper.
"-- cut quite a stylish figure at the 1,487th Annual Wizengamot Council of Obvious Edicts' presentation. Alas, the same cannot be said for her date, the notorious Boy-Who-Lived.
Shabbily attired, he arrived late with his plainly irritated guest. Had he kept the lady waiting? This reporter is long familiar with the habitual tardiness of the fabled Harry Potter, whose fame has caused others to overlook habits that would not be forgiven in others.
Mr Potter has not been seen in public with any romantic interest since the tragic end of his long-standing relationship with the gracious Padma Patil (currently employed by Witch Weekly) --"
Percy glanced up in surprise. "You dated Padma Patil?"
Harry turned the page of his newspaper. "No! Give me some credit," he snorted.
"-- who describes him as 'uncouth' and 'callous.' There has been much speculation that he's continued to yearn after his former love, though Patil is now happily ensconced with her fiance, the Viscount Frederic DuPres. Has her recent engagement (with the fabulous 4 carat DuPres diamond) discouraged the hapless Harry Potter and caused him to suddenly bestow his affections elsewhere? As the Boy Who Lived cultivates his 'mystique' by refusing to give interviews, we mere mortals can only watch the standoffish star from the sidelines.
Miss Morgenstein, however, quickly discovered that Mr Potter doesn't quite live up to his image.
Mr Potter did not hold the door for her, nor did he help with her coat or hold her chair. To the shock of onlookers, he treated her instead as if they were chums in a pub, (it seems he's been without feminine companionship for some time). Then Mr Potter made a public show of his affections, kissing her for the cameras in a rather obvious attempt to make Miss Patil (soon DuPres) jealous.
"It didn't work," says Miss Patil, "He's so transparent." Miss Morgenstein naturally attempted to fend off his unwanted (and obviously embarrassing) advances.
Mr Potter whispered throughout the entire speech and had to be hushed by his date. Afterwards, he abandoned her on several occasions to buff his 'halo' by hobnobbing with the rich and famous. One must keep up appearances after all.
Clearly, Mr Potter has no sense of discretion. At the end of the evening, a thoroughly disgusted Miss Morgenstein shouted at him, "What have you been telling people?!" and left Mr Potter, possibly for good.
Does Harry Potter kiss and tell? Or perhaps… exaggerate his dubious conquests?
Whichever the case, Miss Morgenstein seems to have had enough of the Boy Who Lived. Such a shame, since no other woman since Miss Patil has had the patience to be seen with him. We wish Mr Potter the best of luck. But first, he needs to learn how to treat a lady."
Percy set down the paper, his expression blank. Harry's newspaper rustled.
"That's nothing short of incredible."
Percy brushed Harry's paper aside to find Harry grinning at him, shoulders shaking with suppressed laughter.
Harry said, "You gave them way too much credit."
"Hmm." Percy settled back in his chair and took a long, thoughtful sip of his tea.
"I must send them a correction about the name," Percy mused. "And I suppose for next time you'll have to remember to take my coat."
"The next time?" Harry let the paper fall to his lap.
Percy quirked an eyebrow and brushed at the corner of his mouth. An embarrassed smile threatened, while a faint trace of mischief sparkled behind his glasses.
"Well. Primula can't drop Harry Potter, can she?" Percy smiled as he folded the newspaper as set it on the table. "After all… what would people think?"