Summer was nearly over, which meant exactly two things, the first being that school was to begin soon, with all the implications this bore - from the fact that they were going to be in the seventh and final year, to the need to go and buy new books, uniforms if they did not fit well anymore, accessories and whatnot in Diagon Alley.
The second thing was a far more entertaining thought: every year, as soon as the second half of August began, Courfeyrac's whole mind turned towards the organisation of his now famous "End-of-Summer Party".
Well, it wasn't exactly famous, not as famous as other things could be, anyway, but it had gained a reputation in his circle of friends, and sometimes he had heard someone referring to him in the hallways as "the one who throws those weird parties". Courfeyrac had never gotten to understand whether it was a positive statement or not, but it was a statement nonetheless and that was all that mattered.
One morning, soon after the famous half of August had passed, Courfeyrac woke up to the unpleasant sound of an owl hitting repeatedly on his window. He jumped out of of bed and opened the window to let the bird in. It carried a letter, of course, from Jehan, which wasn't strange. Since Grantaire and Éponine had introduced the whole group to the genial muggle invention of mobile phones, owls had had way less work to do. With the necessary exceptions, like Feuilly who sometimes just felt the need to send long, handwritten messages for the sake of keeping his hands busy with quills of all sorts and eccentric inks, or Jehan who felt nostalgic at times - having had a childhood which didn't involve any kind of magic - and spent days sending various samples of his his own production to the guys.
My dear, the message said, I absolutely need to meet you all, but I also need to replenish my school supplies. Isn't it a great idea to meet in Diagon Alley and spend a full day together chatting about how we spent our summer or how we dread going back to school? Not that I particularly dread going back there, that place is simply marvellous, but is somehow a muggle belief that school is something not to be considered pleasant.
Anyhow, I'll meet you all in Diagon Alley in three days, and I’m texting everyone to make sure no one gets confused about the date.
Courfeyrac panicked slightly. When had this letter been sent? Where was his mobile phone? Was it charged enough? It providentially started to ring from under a pile of books and clothes and the young wizard fished it out with a smile of relief.
“Hello?” he answered, without looking to the screen to see who was calling.
“Oh, I was worried this was not how this device worked. Courf, I need help- wait, I’m talking to Courfeyrac, right?” a confused voice rambled and Courf burst out laughing.
“Marius! Oh my sweet Marius! How are you? I will help you with anything you need, right now!” he assured his best friend, falling on his bed again, and hitting his head on the wall in the process. Ouch.
“Listen, Jehan just invited everyone to Diagon Alley, you realise what this mean, right?” he blurted out, panic showing in his tone.
“What does this mean, sweetheart?” he jested, a playful smile on his face, because he knew what this implied, oh, if he knew.
“I can’t do my school shopping if Cosette is there!” the wizard exploded.
And there Courfeyrac turned immediately serious, “What,“ he started, “does this even mean? You should be able to bring on your normally functioning human activities when she is around… I don’t think being in love makes you in need of physical assistance”.
“It’s because you have obviously never been in love, Courf! You don’t understand… She’s like perfect… she has hair like the sun and she is beautiful and she is gentle and kind and she smiles like the world is the most interesting place to be in-”
“Enough, Marius. You’re coming here right now and you’re not leaving this house until we go to Diagon Alley”.
Something needs to be done about this.
And that’s why Courf found himself starting a new group chat, consisting in everyone except Cosette and Marius, named “I got fed up”.
R: Fed up with what exactly? You know, it’s not very clear. (8.46 AM)
Enj: Well, if you had let him write at least a message that explained the purpose of yet another group chat with the same thirteen people you wouldn’t have needed to ask. (8:46 AM)
Ferre: You can’t possibly have already started… it’s mathematically impossible… (8:47 AM)
Courfeyrac sighed. He decided to send a vocal message and hope for the best. Surprisingly, everyone agreed to the necessity of turning the whole group in a huge matchmaking act and help Marius get his Cosette.
In the end, Marius couldn’t make it to Courf’s house, because of something his grandfather needed of him, but Courf couldn’t find it in him to be much displeased, as this left the field open for his plans.
They needed to have Cosette come for certain, first of all, and this meant that Eponine had to play all her best cards towards this result. Then, they had to decide how they would progressively disappear, until the unaware couple was left alone.
“Well, we could always call an emergency and apparate all together, considering it isn’t Marius’s forte…” Bahorel had suggested, a laughter at the edges of his voice, statement that had caused Joly to explode in a full ramble about “how extremely risky apparition is, and how one can’t just think that twelve people apparating all together isn’t a tiny bit anxiety inducing”, to which Bossuet had quickly closed the debate with a “we need another solution”:
The 18th of August, all the Amis de l’ABC - acronym of Activists of the Broadened Cultures - met inside the Leaky Cauldron, in a feast of hugs, squeaks and loud displays of affection in general.
Cosette wasn’t there yet, when Courf and Marius made their entrance in the pub.
Eponine had dyed her hair of a bright purple that ended in dark blue tips and both Musichetta and Jehan were appreciating her hairstyle with high pitched notes and little jumps.
Bossuet had, somehow, managed to sprain his ankle while trying to reach his old schoolbooks that he wanted to give to Eponine’s brother, so he was walking with a slight limp and was more often than not using Joly as a human cane.
Feuilly was emphatically talking to Grantaire about some new muggle invention he’d read somewhere about and that he needed to try to replicate himself sooner or later.
It was then that Courf saw them: Ferre and Enjolras, standing a bit distanced from the others, caught in who knows what debate. It looked serious, but Courf knew that they’d managed to get into a serious debate about what colour should be prevalent on an hypothetic Christmas Tree in a Wizard house to avoid making children think that one of the Hogwarts houses was better than the other three, so he didn’t worry about anything, when he interrupted them, catching both of them in a tight hug.
“Guys, how I missed you!” he commented, holding them even closer.
“Yeah…” Enjolras tried to pull away, “we missed you too, Courf… now I’d like to breathe,” and if the blonde threw a glance - very casual in his opinion, but not so much in reality - to Grantaire, who was in that moment hugging Bahorel who’d just arrived, Courfeyrac pretended not to notice it.
What he noticed, instead, was how much Ferre’s new haircut suited him. “Oi, Ferre, you’re going to be featured on the cover of Witch Weekly as the hottest Head Boy Hogwarts has ever had,” he chuckled, making the other one blush.
“I’d like you not to tell the others, Courf,” he retorted, cleaning the lenses of his glasses on the hem of his purple shirt. “I want to tell them when we’re relaxing together, today’s going to be frantic enough…”.
Courf smiled at him and, if possible, Ferre blushed even more.
As soon as Cosette arrived, the group moved towards the shops they wanted to hit, and, in the mean time, they had to manage to abandon Marius and the girl he was so head-over-heels about on their own.
The first window that caught the attention of someone was the sparkling Quality Quidditch Supplies.
Musichetta let out a soft moan as soon as she saw the new quidditch broomsticks in the window and she quickly ran to watch them as closely as she could. “Oh my god! Bahorel, look!” she called her team mate, soon to be captain of the Slytherin team, “Do you think we can buy these ones for our team? If we only had these broomsticks… we would win the cup in a split second…”.
“That’d be cheating, ‘Chetta!” Bossuet laughed from two steps at her side.
“Having good supplies is not cheating, Lesgle,” she replied, giving him a weird look, “and I want to win. I don’t accept any other results from my team, this year. Got it, Bahorel?”.
The player stared at the window for a long moment. “Guys,” he called, a wicked smile on his lips, “Chetta and I are going to take a look inside here. You can go on, we’ll catch up with you later, keep your phones with you…”.
“Hell no, I’m coming with you, losers,” Feuilly chimed in, and Bahorel shook his head while he swung an arm on his best friend’s shoulders.
“Oh no, a Gryffindor spy among us,” Chetta joked, smiling as well.
Minus eight, Courfeyrac thought, very contentedly, as they walked on down the Alley.
They quickly walked past the expensive clothes shop where two witches and their perfectly dressed children were waiting outside the door, discussing uniforms and train tickets.
As soon as they got near a stationery shop, Joly started complaining that his quills from the previous year were probably useless and that he had to buy new things and he couldn’t postpone the need. He looked so genuinely worried about his need of new school supplies that Courfeyrac did not know how to react, until Bossuet winked before following him inside. He loved when people collaborated to his plans.
Jehan fell in love with a second-hand bookshop and no one was able to stop him from getting lost inside there, not even the newly discovered patience Eponine was endowed with.
“I’m going in with him to make sure he doesn’t spend all his family’s heirloom on books, I’ll catch up with you later!” she shouted, as Jehan was pulling her inside.
Courf smiled at Enjolras, trying to look reassuring.
As they strolled through the apothecary, Grantaire stopped with a pained expression on his face.
“Shit,” he cursed, gaining a scandalised glare from Enjolras, “I forgot the list of the ingredients I have to buy for this year. I’m an idiot…”.
Courf bit his lip, “I don’t take potions, R. I don’t know how I can help you…” he murmured, looking for a solution. Cosette, well, she took Potions, but she was caught in a sort of conversation with Marius and interrupting meant disrupting the whole plan, so…
“Enj,” Ferre interjected, and God blessed Ferre, his brain and his genius, “you are the only one who takes potions among the three of us, why don’t you go and help Grantaire with the list? You have to go there, too, if I’m not wrong”.
Enjolras looked a tiny bit offended but didn’t say anything and silently walked inside the shop. Grantaire was so surprised that he needed a loud call from the blonde Gryffindor to catch up with him.
"Courf," the dark skinned Ravenclaw whispered, as soon as their friends had disappeared inside.
"Ferre," the other one answered, in the same tone of voice, playful and smiling as he always was when he was in the company of Combeferre.
"If we're ever going to play matchmakers again, I think it'll have to be you and me trying to make the two idiots reason. I mean, they're getting irritating".
Courfeyrac could only smile in response, walking on towards a clothes shop.
Cosette was studying the window with interest and Marius was contemplating Cosette.
Then, the young wizard realised that the others had vanished, and turned bright pink. Courf smiled again and quickly entered the shop, followed by Combeferre.
Courf didn't know how long they stayed in that shop. Time always flew when he was with Ferre. They would talk about anything or maybe stay silent while exchanging silent opinions on clothes they had before their eyes. They laughed a lot, and this caused lots of weird glances by senior wizards and witches in the shop. Some young boys even started laughing as well.
He felt incredibly light and at home, and this felt so right and so natural that never would he have thought to give this a closer look or a second thought in general. It was just him and Ferre in a shop having fun. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.
When Ferre came out of the fitting room wearing a good new robe, which he needed since he'd grown of another two inches since the previous one had been bought and he couldn't be the first Head Boy who didn't wear the most perfect uniform, Courf was fiddling with his phone.
"The others are waiting for us at the ice-" he had stopped, staring up and down his friend's silhouette, "well, Ferre why are you able to look good in a robe? Nobody manages to look athletic and slim and attractive in a robe. At least, that's what I used to think... I believe I've changed my mind," he rambled, his cheeks feeling suddenly hotter. It wasn't unusual for him to remark how beautiful all his friends were, but this, this felt different. "I'm not attractive, Courf, I'm just tall. Anyway, I take it the robe's fine. Let's go pay and then we can join the others".
"Tall doesn't necessarily mean attractive, though, and one could be attractive without being tall... look at me, for instance!".
"You're tall in your soul, trust me...".
Bickering like this they were with the others in what felt like thirty seconds.
“God, it took you two long enough!” Enjolras protested when they arrived at the ice cream parlour. He was sitting next to Grantaire, who was eating a giant ice cream cone, with a voracity that could only have been explained if he hadn’t eaten in three days.
“Mmmph,” the dark haired wizard kind of objected, “not everyone seem to hate being in the shops like you do, Apollo”.
Combeferre threw a glance at Courf and they both lifted their eyebrows in sync, while approaching the bar. Their next aim had just been set.
Organising the notorious “End-of-Summer Party” had always been a pleasure to Courfeyrac, but it implied a lot of hard work nonetheless. That’s why he had already called Grantaire to ask him to make a good playlist for the party, and had asked Feuilly to think about something to be done for the decorations. He had also begged Bahorel to bring something to drink and Cosette to bring muffins. Jehan had offered to bring flowers and his proposal had been gladly received.
So, Courfeyrac found himself directing the building of a huge gazebo in his garden, moving lazily his wrist to give the right direction to his wand, while the structures began to take their final form under his control.
The first one to arrive was Marius, who lived just a block away, in the small village in the countryside. He was carrying a plate of biscuits and was humming some indistinct song.
“Pontmercy!” he greeted him, taking the plate from his hands and placing it under the gazebo, where a huge table was moving itself towards the opposite side from where they stood, under Courf’s mother’s expert hand gestures.
“Mrs. Courfeyrac,” Marius said hello to her, as well, and the three of them chatted for a while, adjusting the tables and chairs for the party.
When the woman left them, to go out for the evening with her husband, the two boys sat on the three steps that stood before the main door and kept talking for a while.
“So,” Courf began, “did you see Cosette again after we went to Diagon Alley?” he enquired, curious and amused at the pink colour that was spreading on the freckled boy’s cheeks.
“No. I didn’t see her again, I mean, I couldn’t ask her to come here without any reason, could I?” he managed to explain, turning redder and redder with every word.
“Well, but have you at least talked to her?” Courf suggested, not so hopeful in that regard, now that Marius had said what he’d said.
“She called me. I wouldn’t have. And we spoke on a daily basis…”. He confessed, and Courfeyrac left out a sigh of relief.
“You like her a lot, don’t you?” he murmured, laughing softly, while someone else came through the gate.
“Why? Yes, I mean, I like her, I think I’m in love with her- wait, what? Anyway-”
“No anyways, Pontmercy. You’re going to get the girl!” he winked, before going to welcome the person who was waving to them and was risking to drop everything they held in their hand.
It was Jehan, smiling like it was his happiest day in life, with a huge amount of flowers in his hands.
“Bonjour mes amis!” he greeted, in his always perfect French. His hair was tied in a thick braid of a reddish colour, while his nails were of a curious rainbow shade.
“Did you-” Marius tried to ask, but stopped mid-sentence, looking pointedly at the floral-patterned tattoo that came out from his leggings’ hem and developed until it met his sandals and went under it until his toes.
“I metamorphed it,” Jehan explained simply, “all of it, hair, nails and tattoo. I mean, I cannot control this so much anyway, but I have also turned seventeen in the last month. So, whatever, I just wanted cool nails and couldn’t bother dealing with polish…”.
Courfeyrac laughed, while he started positioning the flowers their friend had brought.
The next one to come was Bossuet, who came out of the house, having travelled by Floo Powder.
“Heya guys, Hufflepuffs reunited meeting is here?” he jested, dropping a bag full of chips and popcorn bags on the table. The other three laughed, starting to remember all the adventures they’d had in the previous six years, sleeping all in the same bedroom.
In all their group of friends, they weren't the only ones who shared a room at Hogwarts, but they had been the only ones to be completely happy about it from the beginning.
Combeferre hadn't been glad to be sharing with Grantaire that first year, but then he'd asked him again as a roommate the following year and so, maybe, they'd liked each other more than they had cared to admit.
Enjolras, on the other hand, had complained for almost four years about how horrible having Joly in his same room was, but the simple fact that he heeded all his requests - like leaving the shoes outside the door, or contributing to a thorough cleaning of the beds every two months - spoke otherwise. Feuilly, being the saint he was, had never complained about either of them.
It was indeed Feuilly, along with Bahorel, who arrived next, laughing and already loudly talking to each other. Then came Grantaire, with Éponine, and Musichetta with Joly, hands linked and smiles bright. Finally came Enjolras, Combeferre and Cosette, and the party started.
The music started playing, soft and relaxing, Grantaire having made a playlist with some catchy but still not too involving songs in the beginning, while all the danceable ones were later on.
Everyone was incredibly relaxed, it was just their usual company of friends, after all, which meant there was none of the usual stress of going to party hosted by people you barely know, full of people you don’t know at all.
Jehan started almost immediately to move along with the music at the centre of the gazebo, at the same time he was eating and talking to different people. How he could do all these things together was a question the other had stopped asking themselves a long time ago.
Meanwhile, Cosette and Eponine were chatting in a corner, and the object of their discussion looked pretty serious, if their faces were something to take into consideration. The blonde witch suddenly started laughing and her purple haired quickly joined her in this. Then, they joined the boys in the conversation they were having around the table where all the food had been laid.
“Well, you can’t exactly change the Sorting Hat’s result,” Combeferre was saying, realxed in his tone, a smile every now and then on his lips.
“No,” Enjolras replied, a slice of pizza in his left hand, a glass of soda in his right one, “but, I don’t think it’s fair that an animated object decides what people you’re going to spend the next seven years with-”.
“Nonsense,” Grantaire cut in, taking a sip from his glass of homemade butterbeer, “if that was the case you’d only ever met Cosette and Feuilly and Joly. And you would have forgotten your beloved Ferre and never ever addressed dear Courf, here. And you’d never even wanted to become friends with any of us. You literally just contradicted yourself, Apollo”.
“Oh, for God’s sake, stop calling me that,” the blond complained, eyes throwing darts at the other one.
“But you didn’t say I was wrong!”
Courf’s attention was moved from the heating debate, which he wasn’t as much interested in as he was in the reactions it caused in Enjolras and Grantaire themselves, who were now much closer than when the argument had started. The cause of his distraction was the fact that he’d noticed that Marius was no longer where he stood thirty seconds before. He was nowhere in sight, and nor was Cosette.
“Guys,” he said, with a triumphant look, “I think they made it!” and, at the confused looks he got in response, he added, rolling his eyes, “Marius and Cosette…”. The others joined his cheers and Musichetta even tried going looking for them, promptly stopped by a laughing Jehan, who caught the girl in a dance to the sound of a Fall Out Boy song. The witch was a great dancer, everyone knew that, yet watching her moving on a dance floor was always surprising.
“You know what, I’ll go get the ice cream from the fridge,” Courf said, leaving the others for a brief moment. As soon as he reached the door, though, the silhouettes of Marius and Cosette hugging each other tightly stood in the middle of his own hallway and so he silently got back to the party, barely holding a laughter that he let out as soon as he reached the surface covered by the gazebo, where the floral decorations and the cardboard ones made by Feuilly mixed together in a joyful game of colours and shades.
“What,” Enjolras enquired, looking a bit worried at his sudden burst of hilarity.
“They-” he tried to say, still shook by the power of his giggles, “I- I can’t. They were- in the hallway-”.
Joly started laughing with him, quickly followed by Bahorel and Bossuet.
“Were they making out?” R asked, while stealing a bit of Enjolras’s muffin without further explainations.
“No,” Courf managed to say, meanwhile the blond Gryffindor was muttering “Gross,” though it was unclear if it was referred to Grantaire eating his food or suggesting an exchange of saliva between their friends.
Who hadn’t started laughing yet, was now on the verge of tears.
The evening went on without problems of any sort. Combeferre finally announced he was going to be Head Boy and everyone hugged him in true happiness for him. They all started dancing together after the announcement, while Cosette and Marius were still lost in the Courfeyracs’ premises.
The music had turned to dance-y, catchy songs, that encouraged the movements. Grantaire had definitely put too much Beyoncé and Lady Gaga in the playlist, but when confronted on this by a resigned Bahorel, who still hoped there was a chance to play punk rock at the End-of-Summer Party, he and Courf said in the same exact moment that “there’s never too much Beyoncé or Lady Gaga at a party, get a life”.
Dancing with Grantaire to the sound of You’ve Got The Love had been a tradition for years for Courfeyrac, so, when he heard the first notes of the songs coming out of the speakers, he and the brunet started gravitating towards each other from opposite sides of the small group.
Eponine whistled, dancing with an amused Feuilly.
Courf and Grantaire were having too much fun in this, coming up with complicated choreographies and using too much passion in singing the lyrics.
At the end of the song, they kept dancing together, with the addition of Chetta and Bossuet, who joined them in a mock rendition of a quadrille on the notes of Whenever, Wherever, nobody knows why. The fact that the steps even resembled an actual quadrille was a pure coincidence and a further proof of the fact that sometimes they had sheer luck even if Bossuet was in their numbers.
Then Courf went to get a glass of water and noticed that not only were Combeferre and Enjolras not dancing but they also were sitting down. And that was unacceptable.
“Ferre, darling,” he approached the young wizard, suddenly aware of his gaze on him, “you promised me a dance last year. I’m reclaiming it. Now”.
The Head Boy got to his feet, rolling his eyes, and his white shirt - which created such a gracious contrast with his dark skin, and, who cared, Courf wasn’t even responsible of his own thoughts anymore - appeared as tight as it had never looked that evening, due to the fact that he had just stretched his shoulders.
“May I have the honour of dancing this song with you, sir Courf?” he jested, murmuring right in the Hufflepuff’s ear, and Courf almost blushed. Because he never blushed. Never.
“You may, your lordship,” he played along, taking his friend’s arm and dragging him near the stereo.
The first song they danced to passed unnoticed, each one of them moving to their own rhythm, but with the second one Ferre was already closer to Courf than the last one had ever dreamed he’d be while they danced. And suddenly he had taken both his hands in his and was guiding his steps in a firm and relaxed way that made Courfeyrac melt into the dance completely, following the hints the other boy gave him with a natural ease, without mistakes, without coarseness.
They were soon caught in a dimension of their own, made of the few points of contact between their bodies and the almost electric attraction between their non-touching parts. The balance between these two forces was created and destroyed with every step, and they couldn’t look away from each other.
They found themselves suddenly dancing to Boom Clap and Courf thought, in the back of his mind, that there hadn’t exactly been a transition between the last song and this one, but certainly he hadn’t paid attention to Grantaire moving his dark wand in the air in the general direction of the stereo from the other side of the gazebo, where he was standing, smiling wickedly at Musichetta and Eponine.
Ferre made Courf turn on himself, without leaving his hand and they repeated the step more than once before the song reached its half.
Then two things happened more or less at the same time: after the fourth or fifth pirouette, Courf’s head was spinning pretty badly, so he tripped on his own feet and practically fell into Ferre’s arms, face first, the Ravenclaw promptly catching him. Courf catched his breath as soon as he realised he wasn’t going to end up flat on his stomach and found that Ferre had a giant smile on his face that was going to become a full laughter.
The second thing was that, as soon as Courf found himself in Ferre’s gentle arms, a choir of catcalls and whistles came from the rest of the guys. Courfeyrac would have thought it was aimed at them, if he’d not noticed Marius and Cosette coming back among them, hand in hand, their hair a mess and their cheeks pink.
“When’s the wedding?” Bahorel shouted, lifting his glass of beer in their direction.
Marius turned bright red and Cosette hid her laughter in his shoulder, and then they noticed Courf and Ferre, still holding each other, still off-balance.
“Never mind us,” Courf shook off their glances, gaining his stability once again, “just the usual nonsense from me and an over indulging Combeferre”.
At these words, Ferre let him go, suddenly serious. Any other time, Courf would have wondered what he’d said to receive such a harsh reaction, but now his attention was all on Marius and Cosette and the fact that his matchmaking plan had worked. He was officially a genius and he was getting ideas, ideas that he would make sure he’d apply once they were all back to Hogwarts, thing that was anyway going to happen in two days.
Their last year was going to be great, oh yes.