Disclaimer: The characters belong to JKR. We are just taking them out to play for fun, not profit. No copyright infringement intended.
A/N: This is a birthday fic for the gorgeous Aandune. There are four chapters in all. Hope you have a lovely birthday on the 22nd! Love and hugs from Laylee and me. xxxx
Gay Anniversary Blues
By Laylee and Dracoredeemed
Draco stood on the pavement outside the Muggle department store and shuddered with distaste. It was a nice enough building, with its traditional façade, immaculate stonework and display windows so clean they almost looked like they weren't there. Hermione had told him it was the most upmarket store in London, which was something at least. The big problem was the unwashed masses milling around him, causing him to jump around tetchily to avoid contact. One would think such a salubrious establishment would attract only the upper classes, but it appeared that every man and his shaggy dog were pouring through the elegant front entrance. Draco sighed dramatically and steeled himself. He was waiting for a gap in the crowd so he wouldn't be jostled, but it seemed the Muggles just kept coming and coming! He brushed his sleeve in annoyance when a crusty old woman sneezed on him as she passed, causing his blue velvet jacket to wrinkle slightly as drops of saliva rained down upon it. "Urgh, disgusting," he muttered before quickly casting a wandless Scourgify and winced at the feel of the cleaning spell as it washed over him, leaving his hair slightly on end. Oh, really, this would never do. He raised a pale hand to smooth the white-blond strands, then to adjust his green striped cravat before smoothing down the front of his jacket. Making sure his pockets were aligned correctly, he stepped forward with determination, managing to collide instantly with a small animal of some kind.
"What the fuck?" He looked down to shake off the stupid dog or whatever was attached to him, and was astonished to find a small Muggle child clinging to his trouser leg – his previously immaculate and very, very expensive French tweed trouser leg – with grimy little fingers.
"Mummy, that man swore."
Suddenly a woman was snarling in his face. "Bloody poof! Keep yer 'ands off my kid."
Draco sputtered and backed away as the woman grabbed the child and hurried off down the street. Oh, now he had sticky fingerprints on his trousers. Was the world against him? He cast another Scourgify, followed by a quick grooming spell to tame his now completely disarrayed hair. Merlin! All he needed was one card. One anniversary card to celebrate his fifth year with Harry, and it had to have a same-sex message on it. How hard could it be? He sighed. Hard enough that he'd had to brave Muggle London to find one. Who would have thought that with all the new legislation allowing same-sex marriage – wizard and Muggle alike – that it would be so hard to find a gay anniversary card? He'd tried Flourish and Blotts, Hogsmeade stores and every wizard shopping catalogue he could lay his hands on, but nowhere could he find a suitable card. Apparently there were plenty of them around the Muggle shops, though, so he'd resignedly agreed to brave it. It was for Harry, after all.
Resolving to make this excursion as fast as possible, he pulled the hem of his jacket down with determination and strode across the pavement into the store. As the doors closed behind him, however, he stopped dead, his jaw dropping before he had a chance to stop it. The place was enormous! He looked around and tried to get his bearings. The store was like a city in itself, stretching far away in every direction, the counters littered with an amazing variety of goods. Draco glanced up at the ceiling and admired the carved cornices and chandeliers decorating it. Well, he supposed some Muggles must have taste, though he would describe it as just a trifle garish if anyone asked. Still, he hadn't known Muggles could be so… well, opulent. It was distracting to say the least.
Looking around further, he realised he had no idea of where he should be going, but was soon forced to move when someone walked into him from behind. He staggered forward with an "oomph", barely managing to remain upright, and turned around to give the offender a piece of his mind.
"Watch where you're going, will you?" a snooty man in slacks and a jumper snapped before elbowing him and sweeping past, disappearing into the crowd and leaving Draco to be jostled as more and more people moved through the sliding doors. Oh, Merlin! There were so many of them! Quickly glancing around, he spotted a quiet corner and made his way towards it, managing to flatten himself against the wall, well out of reach of any passers-by. He decided not to bother with more cleaning spells, since it was well-nigh impossible to avoid touching anyone. He'd just have to bathe and have Kreacher magically disinfect his clothes when he got home.
Carefully, he appraised his surroundings again. Hermione had said to go straight to the moving staircases – apparently Muggles had compensated very well for their lack of magic – which would take him to the floor with the cards and stationery. He should look for a directory, he supposed, to locate which floor that would be. He slid along the wall for several feet before deciding to brave the aisle again, managing to make it across the entire front entrance without running into anyone. He sighed in relief when he finally spotted the moving staircases and quickly made his way over to them. There was a directory at their foot, which was a relief. Within minutes he was transported to the correct floor and was examining the rather impressive display of cards and gifts with some delight.
Really, he was surprised at how inventive Muggles could be, although of course their cute moving picture frames and flashing gizmos were quite inferior to wizard products. But he was here to find a card, and find a card he would, so he moved along the display until he came across the anniversary cards. For my darling wife - Urgh…. For my dear husband - now, there's a possibility. He plucked the card from the shelf and opened it. Oh, from your devoted wife. Damn. He may be gay, but he was not the femme in their relationship. Happy Anniversary, Mum and Dad…. He rolled his eyes and continued looking. Oh, there was one: Happy Anniversary, Sexy. Well, that might do. He plucked it off the shelf and opened it up to read the message. If you promise not to snicker, I'll let you in my knickers. Draco snorted, but quickly shut the card in disgust when he noticed the picture of the couple inside was of a man and a woman. Slotting it back onto the shelf, he moved along a bit, but a survey of the remainder of the cards revealed nothing of interest at all. They were either too flowery, or too straight, or just plain stupid. And not one of them had a gay anniversary message or even a picture of two men on it. Draco sighed heavily and wondered if he could transfigure the sexy card to show two men. This is ridiculous! There should be a gay anniversary card! What is this? The bloody Dark Ages? Merlin!
Turning to inspect the store around him, he spotted a woman at the counter and walked over to her.
"Excuse me, Madam."
A woman in a black dress and shoes and a very big bottle-blonde hairdo turned to greet him. "It's Miss, actually," she simpered, and batted her eyelashes at him.
Draco choked, but managed to disguise it as a cough as he mentally put two fingers down his throat. Outwardly, he gave her his most charming smile. "Miss, I wonder if you could point me towards the same-sex cards please?"
"Same-sex?" She looked at him with furrowed brows, as if he had just spoken a foreign language.
"Yes, same-sex," he replied patiently. When she still looked confused, he added, "As in gay. Do you have any cards for gay couples?" She was still regarding him rather stupidly, so he continued. "Homosexual. H.O.M.O.S.E.X.U.A.L. Also known as poofs, queers, ponces or fags."
"Oh." Her face instantly fell and she pursed her lips in distaste. "No, of course we don't. This is Harrods, after all." She sniffed and turned away in dismissal.
iOf all the nerve! How dare she treat me so shabbily./i Draco's lips thinned and he started to count backwards from ten. Nine… eight… seven…. Oh, fuck it. "How dare you be so rude, you heterosexist Muggle bitch," he called after her, crossing his arms in fury and adopting his most indignant demeanour.
She turned in surprise and stared at him with her mouth open, as if she couldn't quite believe what she had heard.
"I beg your pardon?"
"I expect an apology. Now." Draco gave her his nastiest death glare but she only stared back rudely at him.
"I'll call the department manager if you don't leave me alone. That's harassment, that is." She crossed her own arms and stood her ground.
Draco saw red. Then he turned her into a chicken.
"Stupid Muggles." He smiled to himself in grim satisfaction. The chicken flapped around for a bit and scratched at the floor before settling into a nearby cane basket to lay an egg. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the piece of parchment Hermione had given him with the names and addresses of the Muggle shops, and scanned the list to see where he should try next.
Harry sighed and leaned back in his chair, a small smile forming on his lips. He had the weekend off! The whole weekend, for the first time in the three years he'd been an Auror. Silently running through his plans in his head, he whizzed through the pile of paper work on his desk. Half an hour flew by, and Harry had almost finished his last report when a sound that caused his stomach to sink rang out across the department: the Muggle Abuse alarm. After the end of the war, sensors had been set up in cities to alert the Ministry when offensive magic was being used in places rarely frequented by wizards. And some bastard had just tripped an alarm. Harry saw his anniversary plans flying out of the Charmed windows as he craned his neck over the top of his cubicle to see if there was anyone else in the office to investigate it. The only other fully-qualified Auror he could see was Ron, his partner, and his stomach took up residence with his toes when he realised what that meant.
The tannoy crackled into life before Kingsley's booming voice echoed out across the room. "Aurors Potter and Weasley to my office."
The angry brunet threw his quill down on the desk, literally ten minutes from finishing the report and getting out, and stormed towards Kingsley's office. He entered without knocking and allowed the door to slam behind him before taking a seat facing his boss.
Kingsley quirked an eyebrow at Harry. "Watch yourself, Harry. One Malfoy is more than enough in the Ministry."
Harry answered with a glare. "What's this about?" he asked after a moment's silence.
"Wait until Ron arrives; I don't want to repeat myself." Kingsley looked at Harry over the rim of his recently acquired glasses. "I'm sorry about this, Harry, I know you wanted to get out early today."
Harry was saved from answering when Ron entered the office. "Was that the Muggle Abuse alarm a minute ago? Do you know who it was?" he asked, his face tight. The Ministry's inability to apprehend the Death Eaters who had survived the Battle of Hogwarts was Ron's biggest bug-bear, and he was determined to do everything in his power to catch the last of them.
"I don't know; whoever it was has hidden their signature."
Any hope Harry had of getting out early was completely dashed. "Where did it happen?"
"Knightsbridge in London, a shop called Harrods. We need you out there immediately. You know what to do. I really am sorry, Harry, but you are the only team available."
Harry knew Kingsley was sincere in his apology, but that didn't quell his anger.
"It's fine." Harry walked out of the office and headed for the Apparation room with Ron close behind.
The two Aurors Apparated into an alley near Harrods and scanned the area to make sure they had not been seen. Harry looked at Ron, the acknowledged tactical genius within the department. "How do you want to do this?"
"We stick together. We don't know how many of them are in there, or who they are, and I don't want to take any risks; Malfoy'd kill me if I got you killed the day before your anniversary."
Harry smiled at Ron. His red-haired friend had taken to his being gay much better than he'd anticipated. Ron's relationship with Draco had taken more time, but there was no longer any open hostility between his best-friend and his spouse. "Right, let's do it."
Ron looked up at the building. "I say start at the top and work down. That work for you?"
Harry cast a spell similar to the one used on the World Cup stadium to ensure that no one would want to enter or leave the store after he and Ron has passed over the threshold before slipping his wand into the sleeve of his jacket and nodding. "Lead the way."
The two men entered the building, their eyes alert for anything unusual. As they moved towards the escalator, Ron's face morphed from tense to incredulous. "This place is ihuge/i! It doesn't look this big from the outside."
"It's Harrods, Ron. There's nothing you can't buy here. But I believe we're on assignment; I'll bring you back when we've both got some time off."
"I'll hold you to that. Does anything look off to you? I don't know what's normal in a Muggle shop and what's not."
Harry glanced around. It looked like a typical late Friday afternoon in a department store. "No, everything looks normal."
Ron sighed.. "Up to the next floor? If we don't find anything when we reach the top, we'll start a proper scan, but I don't want to draw any attention we don't need to."
"Agreed," Harry said. "Doesn't look like this is going to be a quick job, does it?"
Ron shook his head. "Sorry, mate. What're you and the Ferret doi—"
His friend stopped speaking mid-sentence and his whole body tensed. "Is it normal to see a chicken in Muggle shops?"
"Sure. They sell most types of food in the food hall. Why? I thought you and Hannah—"
"No, Harry, I mean an actual chicken." He flapped his muscular arms for emphasis.
"Erm, no. Especially not in Harrods. Why?"
Ron grabbed Harry by the shoulders and bodily turned him towards the card and stationery section, where a medium-sized chicken appeared to be desperately avoiding numerous attempts to catch it. As they got closer, the Aurors could hear people screeching as a middle-aged man in an ill-fitting suit called out for someone called Chantelle, while trying the capture the bird.
The crowd was no closer to catching the errant chicken by the time Harry and Ron reached them. It was hard to make out anything that was being said over the shouting and racket emanating from the desperate bird. Harry stared at the chicken; something wasn't quite right, but he couldn't tell what. Luckily Ron had noticed too.
"Have you ever seen a chicken with a pink sheen before?"
"No," Harry said as he slid his wand from the sleeve of his jacket. "I think we've found the problem." He cast several spells in rapid succession, ensuring that no one could either get onto their floor or leave it, and then Summoned the chicken, which clucked and flapped frantically in his grip. The reaction to Harry's use of magic was immediate; silence fell across the area, and one woman actually fainted when she saw the chicken zoom from the floor and into Harry's outstretched hands. "I'll deal with this and you deal with them," he said to Ron, before Stunning the chicken and putting it on the floor.
As he crouched down, Ron's Jack Russel Patronus ran past him and disappeared through a wall on its way to the Ministry, and he knew that they didn't have long before the Obliviators arrived on the scene.
A brief scan revealed that the chicken was in fact human. Thankfully, the counter-charm was quite simple, and Harry was soon faced with a Stunned young woman with bleached blonde hair. Re-enervate.
The effect of the spell was instantaneous; the young woman bolted up into a sitting position and screamed, staring at her arms. "He turned me into a chicken! Oh my God!" she yelled hysterically. Realising that time was of the essence and that he was going to get nothing from her in that state, Harry cast a Calming Charm on her and placed his hands on her shoulders.
"Hi," he said with a smile, feeling like a complete berk. "What's your name?"
"Chantelle," she said with a quiver, her eyes flitting from person to person.
"I'm Harry," he said in what he hoped was a soothing voice. "Now, I need you tell me what happened."
"It was him!"
"Who?" Harry looked at his watch. They had minutes before the Obliviators arrived, and he needed to know what had happened.
"That man in funny clothes. He asked for a card for queers and then pointed a stick at me!"
Before Harry could ask any more questions, Ron stalked over to him, his face like stone. "Harry, that woman behind the counter over there," he pointed behind him, "It's definitely a wizard. She said he was young but wearing really old fashioned clothes."
"Come on." Harry moved away from the crowd. "She said a man asked for a 'queer's card' and then pointed a wand at her. What the ihell/i is going on? Why would a wizard be in a Muggle shop, cursing people over a greetings card?"
Ron Sighed, "No idea, but we need to find him."
Before Harry could respond, the Obliviators arrived, and he and Ron were able to leave.
"No one has been able to leave the shop since we arrived, so everyone in here needs Obliviating," Ron called at the team leader before dragging Harry in the direction of the escalator. "Let's get to somewhere we can Floo and speak to Kingsley. He might be able to tell us more."
A/N: Please review - I'd love to know what you think. :-)