Despite Minister of Magic Kingsley Shaklebotts insisting that celebration is appropriate as long as it is done with respect to the victims and in order with the National Secrecy Law, the Daily Prophet would like to remind its readers that hosting celebration parties is terribly disrespectful to our fallen comrades. “I am aware that many witches and wizards are still mourning the death of family members, friends or even mere acquaintances, and don’t have the heart for celebration.” The Prime Minister of Magic said this Sunday in a public forum. “However, I believe it is of utmost important to celebrate the victory and make merry in honour of our sisters and brothers who lost their lives fighting for the rights of Muggles and Muggleborns. Yes, the harmed conflict may be over, but we must continue to fight against prejudice, and celebrating is an excellent way to do that.” It’s now been months since the last battle, known as the Battle of Hogwarts…
Seamus folded the newspaper and placed it next to him on the bench, looking out the window thoughtfully. A family of Muggles had sat right in front of him, leaving him a little nervous about reading the magical newspaper.
Snow was blazing around the train, the window was cold and frosted at the edges. He wasn’t expecting to be back at Hogwarts so soon after graduating but he figured the time had come for him to face the memories and see how the school had picked up from the battles. He’d heard good things, but couldn’t be sure until he could see it with his own two eyes.
Well, one more than the other.
One of his eyes had taken a serious blow and half of his vision was still blurry, but he adjusted to it fine. His face adorned new scars that he was slowly getting used to seeing on his reflection.
The train stopped at King’s Cross and he swung his bag over his shoulder to make his way out the car. He spotted a few elegantly cloaked people walking along the platform and figured he wasn’t the only one traveling by Muggle means that day.
The end of the war had brought on quite the shock. Some wizards were on the losing side and were currently being sent to Azkaban one by one. Some were coming out of hiding like scaredy-weasels checking if spring had finally come. Others were celebrating after months and months of fighting the good fight. The looming threat of imminent death was gone, but the wizarding community remained somewhat glum and on its toes. Seamus had been feeling the repercussion of it. His mood was dark and he felt more than a little melancholy.
In all honesty, he sort of agreed with the Daily Prophet and their stance on celebrating; it was too soon, the wounds were too fresh. There was something in him that refused to celebrate the end of the war when it’d cost them so much.
Then again he’d been duped by the Prophet before.
“Sorry,” He mumbled as he bumped shoulders with a wizard going through to platform 9 3/4 at the same time he did.
“S’alright, mate!” The stranger said mirthfully. It sparked a smile on Seamus’ face.
Boarding the special Hogwarts Express train, he quickly went down the cars, peeking in each cabin to see if there was any space left. The carriages were full. Obviously. He did find a small space between two elderly women, but at the sight of a yawning child fumbling her way down the corridor with her mum, he decided to leave it open. He could stand. He was young, healthy, alive, and he could handle a few hours of—
“Shay!” He heard a familiar voice. Turning around he was immediately caught in a bear hug. “How have you been mate? It’s been ages!”
Dean pulled back from the hug before Seamus could return it. “It’s been real busy! How’s the family?” He asked excitedly, tapping his friend’s shoulder.
“Good, good—oh, sorry!” He got out of the way of a man carrying a ridiculously large suitcase. “How’s your mum?”
“She’s...” Seamus hesitated. His mother had been more than upset when she’d seen him, blood still dried up on his face, eyes tired and hollow after the months of torture at school followed by a chaotic battle. She fussed over him, cursed at the both dark and good wizards, threatened to take action against anyone who was remotely responsible for her son’s condition. She’d calmed down considerably since. “She’s alright,”
“Good to hear!” Dean enthused, patting Seamus’ back. “How did you get here today? I didn’t see you on the platform.”
“Apparated in Manchester and took Muggle trains from there.” He said. “I’m tired as hell.”
“I bet!” Dean grinned at him. “Glad you’re here though. It’ll be like old times!” His hand grabbed at the back of Seamus’ neck affectionately, earning a hearty chuckle.
They decided to slide to the floor and sit down to both rest their legs and make passage a little easier. The remaining of the ride was filled with happy chit chats. They were soon joined by Neville who told them about his and Luna’s lives in the after-war. Neville was studying plants as an herbalist apprentice at Dogweed and Deathcap and Luna was finishing her education at Hogwarts.
“I see her on weekends.” Neville explained, a sad glint in his eyes.
“Must be hard.” Seamus said. “Don’t get lashings of time together.”
Neville chortled awkwardly. “Yeah,” He looked down the hallway pensively.
Dean sent him a sympathetic look. “Is she already there?”
“Yeah. We’re going to her father’s for Christmas and my grandmother’s for new year.” He said, trying to regain the initial happiness of their conversation. “It’ll be fun.” He seemed to be trying to convince himself more than them.
“That does sound fun! You’re lucky. I got no plans for the holidays.” Dean encouraged.
Seamus frowned at him, surprised. He usually spent winter vacation with his family. Now more than ever, he’d thought that a traditional Thomas Family Dinner would be in order.
“Really?” Neville asked, mirroring Seamus’ surprise.
“Yeah. Dad and Mum took so many days off last year they got all the graveyard shifts at work.” He said. “My sisters and I are supposed see my granddad. But there’s not much going on at his house.”
“Come over to mine then.” Seamus suggested. “My mum keeps asking about you anyway. She’ll be happy.”
Dean’s laughter mixed in with the buzz of the crowd. “Does she? Wow, didn’t know I meant anything to her!”
“’Course you do.” Seamus shoved his shoulder playfully and he laughed again, louder this time.
“Then sure, I think I’ll take up your offer, Shay. Thanks!”
Dean gave a genuine smile and turned back to Neville to talk about his work at Dogweed and Deathcap and what he planned to do with it. Seamus smiled secretly, unable to control the pure joy at the thought of spending the holidays with his best friend after such a long time of being apart. They’d sent owls and talked on Muggle phone lines, but nothing compared to seeing each other in the flesh.
It wasn’t long after this, when the chatter around them started to quiet down and Dean and Neville fell into a pattern of small talk, that Seamus fell asleep, head lolling to the side until it rested on Dean’s broad shoulder.
He woke up to ruffling and loud voices around him, and rubbed at his eyes tiredly.
“Hey. We’re here.” Dean gently said, helping him up from the floor.
“I figured.” He muttered groggily, brushing dust off his trousers.
Everyone started pushing and pulling to find their way out of the train. Seamus cussed loudly and deliberately, Dean merely chuckling at his side while Neville scolded him for his bad language.
When the fresh air of the evening hit them, the feeling was akin to rejuvenation. They took a moment aside to stretch and make fun of the crowd of witches and wizards rustling to make a beeline for the castle.
“Alright, shall we go?” Dean suggested after the people became scarce on the platform.
They started walking. Seamus regretted the days when they could just leave their luggage and climb into a magical carriage that took them from the Entrance Gates to the castle without the effort of walking.
There was a light blanket of snow covering the ground which glistened in the early moonlight. It was pretty if a little eerie.
“It’s pretty exciting, isn’t?” Dean was smiling, walking in tow with him. “Passing those gates with you again. Who would have known?”
“We were lucky.” Neville said somewhat darkly. He adjusted his bag on his shoulder and coughed to dissipate the tension that sprung from his own words. Seamus bit his lip at the memories.
Dean didn’t seem too fazed by it. “That we were.” He said almost happily. Seamus grinned, thinking that, yeah, they really were.
The closer they were to the main grounds, the more people were gathered in small groups, chatting animatedly.
“Everyone’s in a good mood.” Dean noticed.
“I can’t wait to see them.” Seamus admitted, skipping ahead on the path. He may not be up for celebration, but he did love fireworks. “Wicked, those things are! Ron told me all about them last time I saw him. They’ve got some powerful magic in them.”
Neville nodded excitedly while Dean strode over to keep up with Seamus’ brisk walk.
Before the Battle of Hogwarts broke out and George tragically lost his twin brother, they had been working on a kind of fireworks that contained the abilities of a Patronus. They weren’t successful, and the pure white explosions merely made a Dementor look a little skittish. Despite failing the intended purpose, they’d decided the fireworks were too pretty to go to waste. They were locked up for a special occasion that unfortunately never came while both of them could witness it.
After the existence of such fireworks had been revealed, the Weasley Family together with Professor McGonagall had decided to host a display on Hogwarts’ ground. Even though the official guest list was short, the word had gotten around and more than half the Wizarding population of the British Isles must have shown up. Luckily, the Hogwarts’ ground was wide and everyone could get their little patch of grass without being bothered by the neighbouring wizards.
They stood near the Whomping Willow that had somehow been immobilised for the display. Not many people dared approach it, but with Neville assuring them that the only way to make it move again was if someone was stupid enough to touch the knot at the foot of the tree, the three of them figured it was a nice spot.
While many Wizards brought self-heating blankets and magical baskets full of warm food, Seamus and his friends were left to stand with their feet in cold, crisp snow. This was partly because Seamus had forgotten to bring the bag his mum had prepared for them, but also because they believed it would give them a better view of the fireworks. They could see the castle very well from their little hill.
It didn’t take long until everyone was settled and Professor McGonagall’s booming voice echoed around them, welcoming them as warmly as she could and explaining why they were gathered here today. It was long and reminded Seamus of Transfiguration lectures. Her voice was even and impassive.
“Luna says Professor McGonagall is a great headmistress, but she’s a bit stricter than Professor Dumbledore was.” Neville whispered to Dean. “Of course, she’s not Umbridge-level strict, nothing like that.”
“I can see that.”
Seamus could too. Professor McGonagall might be a staid headmistress, but she was a respected teacher who loved her students wholeheartedly. There was a lot of good to say about her, but although she wasn’t short on eloquence, her speeches lacked the luster and sober emotions Dumbledore’s had.
“Did you want to go get Luna?” He asked Neville. The other just shrugged.
“She’s with her classmates at the front. Best not bother her”
Dean frowned curiously. “Come to think of it, shouldn’t you be with the war heroes? With Harry and Ron and Hermione?”
“Yeah, the VIWW, I got invited. But I just. I guess I don’t really like the attention that much.”
Dean turned to Seamus and asked, “VIWW?”
“Very Important Witches and Wizard.” He explained, his voice a little rough.
Seamus had bristled somewhat. He considered himself a fairly important player in the battle of Hogwarts, but he hadn’t been invited to the VIWW section. He consoled himself with just having his name on the main guest list, but he still believed anyone who fought should be considered important. He felt a hand on his back, rubbing comforting circles.
Many people cheered at the end, despite the length of the speech. Their own little group clapped, hoping no one would question them about the content later on.
It didn’t take long until the fireworks were set up and the first one flew up in the sky in the form of a giant white phoenix making rounds above them. It was beautiful. Oh’s and Ah’s were heard all across the grounds while the giant bird was showing off its wingspan.
Seamus looked over at Dean who was smiling up at the sky, lights shining on his skin. He’d miss him much more than he was willing to admit and the simple fact that they were both alive, both well after the war, made his stomach feel full with feelings he didn’t know what to make of. He blinked away and watched as a lynx joined the phoenix in the sky, pawing at the stars.
The fireworks had been going on for a half hour already and the kids that were startled and screamed in fear at the noises at first were calming down. There was a majestic stag in the sky, galloping around in the stars. It was beautiful and made Seamus feel lightheaded with the same type of elation he’d come to associate with patronuses.
Dean’s fingers bumped into his and he left them touching. Seamus didn’t move his hand, but he grew more thoughtful and his eyes could not focus on the sky anymore but wandered vaguely around one of the castle’s towers. It was a familiar feeling to be so close to Dean again and his heart started to beat faster.
“Would it be weird if I held your hand?” Dean asked, a shy edge to his voice.
“Yah.” Seamus said, turning to him slowly with a patented smirk. “But I reckon it’d be weirder if ye didn’t.”
It didn’t take more than that for Dean to lace their fingers, the touch sending shivers down his spine. Seamus squeezed back, coughed, and looked up at the fireworks again. Dean wasn’t turning his head away, making him feel more than a little self-conscious.
Neville had sat down in front of them and looked over his shoulder, a sad smile on his lips. If he noticed their linked hands he didn’t say anything.
“Crazy that it’s over now,” Seamus mumbled, watching a terrier run around the sky and chase a dolphin before they both exploded into a glittering cascade of lights. Dean gazed up as the sparkles descended from the sky.
“What’s your plan for next year?”
“I don’t really know. Haven't thought about it much at all.” He answered truthfully. He’d been caught up thinking about the past lately, a dull ache in the pit of his stomach telling him that no matter what he chose to do, it could never compare to the halcyon days of their early Hogwarts years. “You?”
“Got a contract to draw posters for a few shops in Diagon Alley.” He said. “Florean Fortescue is surprisingly picky, but the job is fun and the money’s good. You really don’t have any idea?”
Seamus shrugged. “What am I good at?”
Dean scowled at him. He seemed insulted. “You were good at Charms.” He said. “The Leaky Cauldron is looking to hire bands to play on special occasions. You should ask them if they need help with pyrotechnics. Or there’s a bunch of Quidditch shops, maybe you’d like it there.”
“S’okay. I’ll find something. I will.”
“I can help. Just shout out if you need it.”
There was so much intention in his best friend’s eyes that he could barely hold his gaze. He preferred to stay silent for a while and enjoy the silvery display that glowed against the dark clouds. A gigantic horse was galloping between other animals.
Dean pulled at their hands. “Come on,” He said and Seamus followed without hesitation.
He wasn’t sure where they were going or why he wasn’t questioning it. He guessed they aimed for a quieter place, away from the crowd and the noise. Seamus never let go of Dean’s hand and trailed after him quietly, obediently. They eventually stumbled upon a Quidditch shed near the pitch. The door creaked when they opened it. It was dark. It smelled of humidity and wood. There were decorations in the corner, most of them adorning Ravenclaw’s ensign on a blue and bronze background.
They had just stepped in, with the door closing slowly behind them, blocking the loud noises of the fireworks, when Dean launched himself onto Seamus to wrap him in a hug. Seamus tensed up, too surprised to move, but he quickly willed himself to relax and hugged back.
Dean settled his cheeks against the side of Seamus’ head, nuzzling into his hair. They could hear the fireworks resounding outside and if he had his eyes open, he could probably see the shapes and lights through the window.
It was comfortable, warm, safe. When Dean pulled back to look at him, he shivered at the trepidation he could see on his face.
Dean sighed, hands going up to frame Seamus’ face. “Would it be weird if—”
“No. No, it wouldn’t. It’s not. Jus’ do it. If ye don’t, I will.” Seamus babbled, already grabbing onto Dean’s shoulders before the taller boy bent down to mash their lips together.
All hopes for a sweet first kiss vanished as Dean went in with a sort of hunger that took him off guard. Seamus groaned into his mouth and for a split of second, Dean stilled, probably thinking he’d come on too strong and Seamus would back away. He didn’t, instead pressing further in even as Dean pushed him against the wall.
“Merlin, mate.” He breathed out when the kiss broke. “How long have you been waiting to do that? You look…” He could see something intense in Dean’s eyes that made him smirk. “Vicious,”
Dean kissed him again, even more sloppily. There was absolutely no care for decency. He was clearly making a mental effort to try and stay gentle even if his muscles ached with how much he wanted to manhandle his shorter friend. He was mussing his hair and clothes like he didn’t know what to grab onto.
His hands were sneaking up Seamus’ shirt. For once, they were both glad that his messy attire made his life easier instead of attracting the reproaches of teachers and passersby. He tickled the skin at the hip and explored with the tips of his fingers, making Seamus shake and his legs give in, bringing them both to the floor.
He was sitting, one leg bunched up between them while Dean knelt on the floor and tried to access Seamus’ neck with his mouth. A few buttons were already undone at the collar. He proceeded to undo another one but Seamus figured he should break their erratic behaviour before it led them too far.
“Whoa there, love.” He said. Dean looked up at the deliberate nickname. “I like the passion, don’t think I don’t.” He continued, brushing his thumb against Dean’s neck. “But I don’t fancy losin’ it in a shabby Quidditch shed. That’s just naff, mate.”
Dean drew back, sitting on his heels. Seamus’ lips were red and his hair stuck out at odd angles. “Sorry,”
“Don’t be,” Seamus reassured, brushing down his shirt as if that would make him look less dissipated. “What’s up though? You usually don’t do stuff like that.”
“It’s just…” Dean sighed deeply, plopping down to sit cross legged. Seamus didn’t move, one leg stretched out next to Dean, the other bent at the knee and folded in front of him. “You’re far and. I don’t know how much we’ll see each other. I reckon I have nothing to lose.”
“What do you mean?”
Dean sighed, looking away then immediately back at him. “I’m thinking. Muggle-borns are distancing themselves. The war is over, we won, but people are still people. I heard someone call me Mudblood at Madam Malkin’s just last week.”
“What? I bloody well hope you reported the chump.”
He made of face that meant that he didn’t. “I don’t want to be somewhere I’m not wanted. Look at Justin, Ernie says he burnt his wand and pretends he doesn’t know magic. Even now.”
Seamus frowned at him. “He does his own thing. What does Justin have to do with this anyway?”
“I want to stay in the wizarding world, I do. But I see where Justin comes from. And with you in Ireland, I just…I’m thinking about that advertising job my dad suggested. It’d be...maybe not better, but easier, perhaps.”
Maybe it was out of place, but to think that he fell into the balance of Dean’s decision made him feel good. He suppressed a small smile and buried it under the shock and anger that shook him. “You’d run away?”
“It wouldn’t be really Gryffindor of me.” Dean laughed humourlessly.
“No, it would not. Not at all. We won, Dean! Things will calm down and people like that git will get sent to Azkaban for comments like that. Just stick around. What's ahead is better than what's behind, I swear.”
The tall boy gave a more genuine chortle and hummed thoughtfully.
“I’m not saying I’ll go back to my mum’s tomorrow, I’m just saying that it’s not because we won and Voldemort’s gone that people changed,” Dean said. “It’ll take a while.”
Seamus wanted to say something but he was at a loss. He just looked at his friend, the words at the tip of his tongue were mere comforting lies that would not be helpful. He didn’t know what to say. There didn’t seem to be any appropriate words because Dean was right. And Seamus hated that he was.
Dean snuggled up against him when the silence stretched uncomfortably. His height made his elbows and knees jut out in weird places and angles.
“Remember when you used to gush about Professor Lupin?” Seamus tried lightheartedly. Dean welcomed the change and grinned.
“I didn’t gush,”
“You did. But ’s’not me point.”
“What’s your point then?” Dean said, detaching himself from the embrace to look at him.
“I was so fecking jealous, mate.” He laughed heartily. “I had no idea why it pissed me off so much. Got a bit of an idea now,”
Seamus grabbed his head to bring him in for another kiss, lighter this time, gentler. He was slouching against the wall in a position that was in no way comfortable. His neck and shoulders were bent while the rest of his body was busy embracing the lanky boy in his arms. Dean rested his chin on his chest, looking up at him, listening.
“Then I can’t imagine Ginny.”
Seamus snorted at her name. “Nah, I was mad at you then. Ye were sneaking around, and the D.A. sounded like a cult with Harry as the guru to me and Fay. You spent all your mate time with Neville—”
“You didn’t talk to Neville,”
“’Cause I thought Neville was even more of a loon than ye were.” He rolled his eyes at Dean’s unimpressed stare. “Alright, sorry.”
He looked up above his head, catching the remaining lights of fireworks in the darkness. He could only see flashes of silvery whites.
“What about you?” Seamus suddenly asked.
“About me what?”
“You didn’t just wake up this morning and think ‘yeah, Imma try and shag Seamus today,’”
Dean’s face grew warm to the tip of his ears. “SHAY!” He cried in outrage. “No! I think—I guess I always sort of knew.”
Seamus gave him a look that told him to please stop. Dean sighed.
“4th year…Lavender asked you to the ball before I could…” He said, blushing. “Even if I’d’ve just asked to go as mates, I was still…you know. Dejected. Neville noticed, though you didn’t.”
“I did! I just thought ye were upset ‘cause ye had to go stag,” Seamus chortled. “Poor Deanie—”
“Don’t call me that,”
“Poor Deanie…ye had to third-wheel for the Yule Ball.” He cooed, patting Dean’s head mockingly.
“In retrospect, Lav was more of a third-wheel than I was,” Dean joked. “Anyway, you were at the back of my mind from then on and lately you’ve been clawed your way to the forefront.”
Seamus laughed and arranged his limbs to be in a better position. With Dean’s weight on him, it was hard to move at all. It started to get cold in the shed. Winter was settling in so fast and the nights were freezing now. They couldn’t hear the sounds of the fireworks anymore.
“I think they’re done,” Seamus whispered, hand stroking Dean’s back. “Should go back home. It was a long day.”
“You’re going back to Ireland now?”
“Merlin’s brief, no.” He punched his friend playfully. “Thought I’d crash at yours. If it’s okay with ye.”
“So my apartment’s home now, eh? Aren’t you a little eager Mr. Finnigan?” Dean teased, slowly standing. “Should I expect a marriage proposal by New Year’s?”
Seamus tried to tug him back down, but Dean helped him up instead and he had to settle on nudging him in the ribs instead. “Look who’s talkin’. Shove off, ye dolt.”
They came out of the Quidditch shed and caught the stares of a few people on their way back to Hogsmeade station. Dean tried to pull his hand away but Seamus would be damned if he let go now. He knew that playing the still-platonic-best-friends card would save them a lot of trouble, but he wasn’t going to. Besides if he wanted to prove his point –that running away was no good and sticking around through thick and thin was better—he would have to actually have something to show for it.
They met a few unfriendly glances and Dean had to talk him out of slogging an old lady who’d scoffed at them.
Now, that just added one more thing that they would find taxing in the long run. Another thing to worry about. Another thing to fight for. Another battle. They just piled up, didn’t they. But he was a Griffindor and Dean was a Griffindor. And if Dean could go into the biggest battle of Wizarding History without a wand, then they could surely handle a few disapproving stares from narrow-minded wizards.
“It’ll be okay,” He said with poise that surprised even himself. “Who cares about them.”
Dean smiled and squared his shoulders.
They met up with Luna and Neville who didn’t mention their hand-holding, only wishing them a pleasant evening before departing with Luna’s father. Then they saw Hermione and Ginny, and both girls, visibly curious, didn’t waste time to ask, congratulating them right away when Seamus, in a blushing frenzy, explained the situation.
Later, on the train, they found Ron and Harry in a booth. They graciously invited them in and, having heard about the news from their respective girlfriends, confessed laughingly that they were happy to learn that Dean wouldn’t try to get Ginny back or steal Hermione away with his chivalrous charm. Seamus played the jealous game –he was charming too! And he could totally steal anyone from anyone.—but secretly agreed with all the compliments thrown his best friend’s way.
“I’d appreciate it if you guys kept it on the down-low,” Dean said, talking as if he was asking for a favour. “Not that I’m not happy but…some people aren’t the most…supportive.”
“Yeah, there are idiots around, but come on, Dean! It’s cause for celebration!” Ron said happily and Seamus froze.
Fighting against prejudice, celebrating the victories. Suddenly, the future didn’t look so bleak anymore and maybe that was what the celebration had been about all along. It wasn't about the terrible past, but about a future that wasn't covered in dark smog and Morsmordre signs across the sky, a future that was bright and hopeful. He wondered why he hadn't seen it this way before.
What he had with Dean was no different. Although he still wasn’t sure what exactly it was that he wanted to do in the future, at least he knew he wanted to do it with Dean by his side. Sure, it was admittedly different from what the Prime Minister had in mind during his speech, but it still applied. It was a battle, but a victory all the same. A new battle he was willing to enlist in and a victory he wanted to celebrate. And it was better than merry making, better than a crowd of smiling strangers, and much, much better than any firework.
“What have you been smiling at?” Dean asked much later when on the way from King’s Cross to his flat in Diagon Alley.
“What, I’m happy.” He said simply, turnig a bright smile to his friend.
“Really. Well, that’s always good news!”
Seamus laughed mockingly. “Yeah! Ye’re gonna gush about me instead of Professor Lupin. I’m not speaking ill of the dead here, but I’d say ha-ha, I won over a werewolf turned war hero!”
Dean tried to look offended but couldn’t keep a grin from spreading on his face. “You complacent little…”
If anyone looked askance at them, they were unnoticed. Celebration meant that, despite the hardships, something good had happened, something significant enough that it needed commemoration. And who cared if you crossed a few stuck-ups along the way to happiness.