Harry ran his finger around the top of his teacup. He really wanted a drink, but Mrs Weasley would not provide anything stronger than tea. Well, tea wasn't going to let him forget the hideousness that was The Wedding.
The Wedding, Harry felt, required capital letters. It hadn't been one of the worst experiences of his life, but it was almost definitely one of the most sickening. The whole thing had been spent standing in between Ron and Hermione, trying to stop them from alternately bickering or making fake pukey noises. Somehow Harry didn't think that Ron pretending to projectile vomit over Mrs Weasley's new hat would have gone down too well.
Of course, Fleur had looked stunning. She looked lovely most of the time, but in a wedding dress she had looked like something out of a Botticelli painting. Even Hermione had begrudgingly commented that Fleur had looked "very pretty". However, watching Fleur had been the high point of the day, and that was only because it had shut Ron up for a while. The rest of The Wedding had been spent feeling nauseated at the mass of pink. It was reminded Harry distinctively of when Gilderoy Lockhart had decorated the school on Valentine's Day, but you had to make polite conversation to people and watch them pointing at your forehead and babbling to each other in French.
To make matters worse, Ginny wouldn't even look at him. He'd lost a friend when he lost Ginny, and Harry hated that awkward feeling. It was almost like when he'd split up with Cho, but to a lesser extent because Ginny had to hang around with him. There was no one else that she knew and/or liked at the wedding, so she had to come up to him.
Harry swallowed the rest of his tea in one gulp and put the cup down hard, wiping his mouth. He didn't know why, but Ginny not speaking to him wasn't affecting him like he thought it would be. After all, he had really liked Ginny. Why wasn't he more upset?
Harry had been wondering about this for a while, and he suspected the fact that he hadn't been even remotely turned-on by Fleur recently, even in her wedding dress, was linked into it. Alarmingly, Harry had found himself more attracted to Bill, despite the scars. Harry put his head in his hands. Man. This was confusing.
He heard the door open, and looked up. Charlie had entered the room. He was still wearing his suit, but he wasn't wearing the jacket or his tie and his shirt was undone. His hair was ruffled and he looked tired out. Harry couldn't help but noticed that Charlie had very defined chest muscles.
"Oh, hey Harry," he said, heading for the sink. "The twins and I are having a flying session. Fancy joining in?"
"No thanks," said Harry. "I'm a bit shattered, to be honest."
"'Kay," said Charlie, who had filled a glass with water and was gulping it down. Some had escaped his mouth and was now on his chin. "Can't say I blame you. I think the pink nightmare was enough to wear anyone out. I thought my brother had better taste. I had trouble keeping my eyes open too. I think Hugo was a bit put-out, though. Thought I wasn't enjoying his company."
Charlie laughed sardonically and sat down in the chair opposite Harry.
"How is it with…umm…you and Hugo?" asked Harry, tentatively. Asking someone he didn't know that well about their love-life wasn't something he was accustomed too, but he didn't have anything else to say.
"Oh, as well as you could expect," shrugged Charlie. "It was never going to be serious; I think we both knew that. He's just for fun before I find the right person for me."
He drank down the rest of his water and glanced at Harry's empty cup.
"Fancy a refill?" he asked. "Those cups are ridiculously small. You only get a miserly little amount. I think mum's made a whole pot of tea, so it's not any trouble."
"Uh…you wouldn't happen to know if there's anything a bit stronger going, would you?" Harry enquired.
"Well, I think mum would go a bit berserk if I offered a guest a bit of mead without her knowing," said Charlie, with a twinkle in his eye that reminded Harry very much of Ginny. "However, she hasn't specified anything about my stash of vodka. You drink vodka?" he added, moving towards the sink again. Harry wondered if they had a tap that poured alcohol. Nothing would surprise him in this house. Only yesterday he'd found a toilet in which the water was always blue.
"Never tried it, but if it'll knock me out I'll drink it," said Harry, as Charlie opened the cupboard under the sink and reached into the very back of it. He pulled out a bottle of what looked like bleach. "Dad's," he said, gesturing towards the bottle. "It's not got any bleach in it any more, of course. Dad poured it all into the upstairs toilet. The water's permanently blue now. I washed it out and now I keep my…uh…restricted drinks in there. Mum won't find them; she never touches this stuff."
Harry felt a bit worried drinking something that had come out of a bottle of disinfectant, but as Charlie poured it out and pushed the glass in front of him, he decided he didn't give a damn.
"It would be funny if this killed me," he said, darkly. "The great Harry Potter, doomed to die by the hand of the evil Lord Voldemort –" he ignored Charlie's wince "– found dead in his friend's house due to drinking contaminated booze. The Daily Prophet would have a field day."
"Hmm," said Charlie. "Sorry, but I don't like You-Know-Who jokes much. Especially concerning you being murdered by him. And you're not doomed to die by his hand."
Harry had finished his glass and was already feeling happier.
"A bit more, please?" he asked, pushing his glass across the table towards Charlie in a manner that he felt was very Clint Eastwood. Charlie raised an eyebrow but poured him out a glass just the same. He passed Harry his glass back and Harry instantly downed a large gulp, savouring the repulsive yet oddly compelling flavour.
"This stuff is great," he said, stifling a small belch. "Disgusting, obviously, but great."
"I might join you in one of those," he said, reaching out for his now empty glass of water and filling it up. "Fred and George won't care if I don't turn up. They were attacking Percy with their bats when I left."
Harry laughed. It was a louder, slightly less constrained laugh than usual. But then he was under the influence of a very alcoholic drink.
"What percentage is this?" he asked. He wasn't quite slurring his words yet, but he wasn't far off.
"What alcohol percentage."
"Oh," said Charlie. "I don't know. 45, I think. Something near that. It's pretty strong stuff. You're meant to mix it with something else but I like it undiluted. I feel like crap in the morning, though. I had one boyfriend, Amory his name was, who was a mad alcoholic. He drank about a pint of this a day. He nearly killed himself once. He was good in the sack, though."
Harry blinked at him, partly because he was surprised at what Charlie was saying and partly because his vision was beginning to blur.
"More please," he said. Charlie refilled both his and Harry's glasses.
"Y'know, it must be so simple just knowing if you're gay or not," he said after swallowing half the contents of his glass in one gulp. "You know…just not having doubts. What happened?"
Charlie looked at him. His eyes were slightly out of focus. It ruined the effect somewhat.
"What d'you mean 'what happened'?" he asked.
"I mean, like, did you suddenly wake up and realise that you fancied guys?" Harry asked, slumping forwards slightly. "Or did you get all confused when you saw a Veela in a wedding dress and didn't get aroused?"
"You do not talk like Harry when you're drunk," he said. "Harry's usually so awkward around girls. I mean, I've seen you around Ginny and you're like a…weird…shy person. But stick a pint of vodka in your bloodstream and you're talking about erections and being gay with someone you've spoken to about four times in your life."
Harry realised he had his mouth open slightly and shut it quickly.
"What did happen, though?" he asked. "Did you wake up and realise you liked guys one day, or did the wedding thing happen to you?"
"Did the wedding thing happen to you?" enquired Charlie, suspiciously. "Because from what you're saying to me it sounds like you're not all that straight yourself."
"Yeah," said Harry's mouth without consulting his brain. "I mean, no," he added, hastily. Charlie gave him a strange look. "I mean, it may have done, but I'm not gay. I'm straight. Straight like a ruler. I fancy girls."
"That would make a lot of sense, actually," said Charlie, as thoughtfully as one can with large amounts of vodka in their system. "You being gay, I mean. The whole inability with girls would make a whole lot more sense if you were gay."
"Whaddayamean 'inability with girls'?" demanded Harry, swaying almost violently. "Refill!"
"I mean," Charlie continued, filling Harry's glass again, having refilled his own about two minutes ago, "the way you get all nervous with girls and all…both…of your relationships have died untimely deaths. Like with Ginny and that girl…Chang."
"You know about Cho?" said Harry.
"Yeah, Ron mentioned it once," Charlie said, shrugging it off. "Oh look, all gone," he said, turning the bottle upside down over his glass. A few drops of liquid dripped out, but it was indeed all gone. "To think, I was saving this for someone else."
"Who?" asked Harry, hiccupping slightly.
"Just this guy I wanted to sleep with," said Charlie dismissively. "I wasn't going to get him this pissed, you understand, I just wanted him to have a little bit of booze in him. One glass at most. I don't find drunk people very attractive…usually."
He gave Harry a very strange look at this point, and Harry couldn't help but find Charlie oddly appealing. Although, as he told himself, it was almost definitely the vodka.
"Well you won't like what's coming," he said, taking his glasses off as they weren't helping his vision any more. "I may be drunk but I'm not drunk enough not to realise I'm drunk."
"I didn't understand a word of that apart from me not liking what's coming," said Charlie, slurring. "And for a start it's not coming, it's already come. And I do like you, Harry, even when you're blind drunk and talking crap."
"Cheers," said Harry, smiling in a way that made him look like a serial killer. Charlie didn't seem to care, though. "You're not bad yourself, especially with your shirt undone."
"You're really going to regret this tomorrow," said Charlie, but he didn't seem to mind. On the contrary, he seemed quite flattered. "It's the vodka talking. Although I have to say that vodka doesn't usually alter your sexuality."
"Well then I'm gay," declared Harry, waving his glass in the air. "Gay, gay, gay. I'm gay as a…as…Julian Clary. I'm camp as a row of tents. I'm straight as a really, really wonky...line."
Charlie laughed uproariously.
"You tell 'em," he said, banging his fist on the table so that the floor shook. "We're both gay. We're both as gay as the day is long."
"We are ho-mo-sex-u-als," said Harry, laboriously dragging out the last word and tripping over every syllable. "We are gay as a summer's day. It's so refreshing being gay," he added.
"Yep," said Charlie, smiling dopily. "You should have come out before, you know, it's really fun. You don't have to worry about kids, either. And boys are so much easier to understand than girls."
"Yes!" agreed Harry, enthusiastically. "Yes! You're a lot better than ginny, Charlie."
Charlie looked a bit taken-aback.
"Steady on, Elsie," he said. "We're both gay but we're not lovers. That would be weird."
"Why?" demanded Harry, banging his glass on the table so hard that a tiny crack appeared near the top. "Why would it be weird? You know I get on with your family and we're both…gay. And you came in here to get water and you ended up in here with me getting drunk for about an hour instead. You lurve me!" he said, triumphantly.
"Don't push it," he said in mock severity. "Or I won't take you to bed with me."
Harry shut his mouth and tried to look innocent.
"Sorry," he said.
Charlie grinned at him.
"How could I resist that face?" he said. "Now, I don't usually like taking advantage of young, drunk boys who have only just come out of the closet, but I may make an exception for you because you're Harry Potter. You're a celebrity. So what's say we go upstairs and you can have your first gay shag? With a bit of luck we can both forget about it in the morning."
Harry stood up, swayed a little, and said, "But I don't want to forget about it in the morning."
Charlie looked at him.
"Really," said Harry. "I like you, Charlie."
"About two pints of vodka likes me," Charlie corrected, heading for the stairs. Harry followed. "But if it makes you feel any better, two pints of vodka likes you too."
Harry grinned and followed Charlie.
"Good," he said. "I like vodka."
"There's a bed in here," said Charlie, pushing open a door. "In you go."
Harry went in and heard the door close behind him. The next thing he knew he was kissing a boy. A boy who just happened to be his best friend's brother. There was a huge age difference, he was drunk out of his skull and he'd never kissed a boy in his life, let alone slept with one. But somehow, for some reason, Harry didn't give a damn.
He didn't care that he was now shirtless.
He didn't care that he was now lying on a bed with Charlie Weasley.
And he especially didn't care that the plaque on the door of the room he was in read "Ronald's Room".
Ron was in a really bad mood.
Bill and Fleur's wedding had been insufferable. He couldn't remember feeling more sick since he mistook a bottle of aspirin that his dad had been studying for Acid Pops and eaten the whole bottle. That had been decidedly awful. But the overload of pink, the constant jibes from Hermione and the fairies flying around everywhere had been nauseating to the point of unbearable.
To top it all off, Ginny was "looking for" Harry, who had vanished somewhere, Hermione had gone home and he'd just had a Beater's bat to the head. Stupid Percy. He'd ducked at the wrong moment.
Ron entered the kitchen. There was a disinfectant bottle of his dad's on the table and the room smelt very strongly of alcohol. Ron smiled knowingly. Ginny must have found Harry.
Ron felt oddly accepting at that moment. Let Ginny and Harry be together. At least he knew Harry was worth Ginny's time, unlike that ridiculous Michael Corner person. It could be a lot worse. Overall, Ron was glad Ginny had found someone worthwhile to spend time with.
Ron headed for his bedroom. He needed a laugh, and he had some comics up there.
He was quite surprised when he heard voices from in his room. Especially making the kind of noises that they were making. Ron frowned as he began to twig exactly what was going on in there. He paled. Bugger. Who the Hell would be sick enough to do that in his, Ron's, bedroom?
Then he recognised one of the voices. Harry's. Wow, he didn't sound like himself when he was having sex. Ron's mouth fell slightly open as he realised that his best friend and his little sister were having sex in his room, probably on his bed. How could they? It was probably Ginny's idea. Just to get back at him. Well, he was going to give them a piece of his mind.
He made sure his hand was ready to cover his eyes and flung the door open, thanking God silently that he hadn't put a lock on his door.
He squinted at the two people on his bed, neither of them fully clothed. They were both staring at him. Funny, either Ginny had grown a lot since he last saw her or that was…
Ron yelped as he realised exactly which of his siblings Harry had been sleeping with.
"Uh…you probably want to know why we're in your bedroom," Charlie said, sheepishly, trying to make the scene a little less scarring for his brother by rolling off of Harry and pulling the duvet over his lower body. Harry was just looking stunned. And under the influence.
Ron stared for a second, then turned around and left the room, slamming the door behind him.
It was about five seconds before Harry and Charlie heard him shout, "Keep the bedding!"