Author's Note: For takiphevoli at the usxuk livejournal Secret Santa. Prompt was: England, America, and Harry Potter geekery. Can be them just dorking out about the series IRL, or an HPAU, anything works. Go wild, have fun! I hope you enjoy. . I'm a massive Harry Potter fan, and it's always been very special to me, so I really loved writing this. Happy Holidays! (Also features very brief- PolandxLithuania, AustriaxHungary, SwedenxFinland, GreecexJapan, GermanyxNorth Italy)
Xiao Mei- Taiwan
By Everything is Magic
Angéline was by no means a bad choice for a date to the Yule Ball. She was spunky and smart, funny and athletic, and Alfred was well aware that a lot of boys would have been ecstatic to share a dance with her. She was on the Gryffindor quidditch team with Alfred, and she was, to be frank, one hell of a beater.
And in her yellow and cream gown, she looked beautiful, a lot like a… daffodil or something poetic like that.
But Angéline, as much as she was a friend, and as much as he liked talking to her during quidditch practice and having butterbeer drinking competitions with her at The Three Broomsticks (she always beat Alfred, but Gilbert beat both of them), was… not exactly who he'd had in mind as his date to the Yule Ball.
All right, so ideally, he'd be Hogwarts's Triwizard Champion this year. It was totally unawesome that they had an age rule in place, because he was the best hero that Gryffindor had to offer, and it's not like he was that far from being seventeen. Only fifteen months! Tino was a great choice for champion and a fellow Gryffindor, and he definitely wanted him to bring home the trophy, but… he just knew that he could be amazing at it.
If he were the Triwizard Champion, then he wouldn't be having this dilemma right now. He wouldn't be going to the Yule Ball with someone he knew he'd always consider just a friend (and she was the same, they'd agreed to go just as friendly companions), because…
Arthur would have been so impressed that he would have definitely asked him along as his date.
He'd been best friends with Arthur since their first year at Hogwarts, back when Alfred was a wide-eyed muggleborn boy and everything magic was still so new and wonderful to him. Arthur came from an old pure blooded family, the Kirklands, and his lineage was one of the most well known in British wizarding society.
Alfred wasn't even British. He and his twin brother, Matthew, a Hufflepuff, had moved from America when they were nine (due to their mother's business), two years before either of them had any idea that they were wizards.
Maybe that was why he and Matthew both preferred quodpot over quidditch, as much as Alfred did enjoy quidditch. On the weekends, he and his twin would go out on the school grounds and play rousing games of quodpot, usually with a few other students who they'd converted to liking the game. Arthur would always sit on the sidelines and scoff, rolling his eyes and usually pointedly reading a quidditch newspaper or one of his Puddlemere United fan newsletters.
But despite the fact that they frequently bickered, and often rolled their eyes at each other's hobbies, Alfred and Arthur had become inseparable over the years. They were always in the common room together, they ate together, they went to Hogsmeade together, and they even took similar classes. Classes that Arthur was terrible at, like arithmancy and astronomy, Alfred was brilliant at. Likewise, courses that Alfred struggled in, like charms and herbology, Arthur shone in. Lithe and swift Arthur was the seeker for the Gryffindor quidditch team, and Alfred's strength and quick reflexes made him the ideal keeper.
Best mates, and not just their dorm mates, but the entirety of Hogwarts knew that nothing could come between them.
Well, at least Alfred wished that to be the case…
But since the beginning of their fifth year, Arthur had been more distant than usual. Alfred knew that he was taking his OWLs very seriously, probably overworking himself as he tended to do. But it was more than that. It was the way he wouldn't get excited over things he'd gotten into before with Alfred, the way that he'd go up to his bunk and study instead of doing class work with Alfred in the common room.
Alfred sighed and pouted, recalling a trip to Hogsmeade the previous week, in which Arthur had turned down going into Scrivenshaft's Quill Shop, his favorite store. Alfred told him he could pick out a quill and a set of stationary that he liked for a Christmas gift, and Arthur had turned red, stammered and quickly told him, "I'm sorry, but I have got to get back to Hogwarts so I can practice for my Ancient Runes test."
And this was all compounded by the fact that Alfred… didn't exactly view Arthur as a friend any longer anyhow.
He'd realized over the summer, in the midst of exchanging owls with Arthur, and after a long talk with his best friends Toris and Kiku, who came over for a weekend visit, that he was sort of kind of…
That he had an absolutely massive crush on Arthur Kirkland.
Hence why he wanted Arthur to ask him to the Yule Ball. Sure, it would have been heroic to be the one to ask Arthur, but… what if he blew their friendship? What if Arthur was so turned off by the idea that he started to avoid him even more? A small part of him wondered if the reason that Arthur was being so avoidant in the first place was because he'd figured out Alfred's feelings.
Alfred was sure that if he'd become the Triwizard Champion for Hogwarts, Arthur would get past any reservations he had and be impressed enough to totally fall for him.
In Alfred's mind, when he not so heroically daydreamed between classes in the halls or out on the lawn, that's exactly what would have happened.
He forced a smile and took Angéline's hand, dancing with her to an upbeat song. Angéline seemed to be genuinely enjoying herself, but then again, she didn't have someone she was pining for that she'd rather be at the dance with.
Not that he was pining. No way.
The song ended, and Spellbound, the all witch wizarding band performing at the ball, started up another one, this one much slower in tempo.
Alfred pulled away. Angéline nodded in understanding. "Y'know Alfred… he came by himself."
His cheeks pinked. "Whaddya mean? Who came…"
"Arthur, ya idiot," she said with a laugh and a roll of her eyes. "At first I thought he wasn't even going to come. He's been pretty weird this semester, yeah? Plus, no one asked him. But… I guess his parents bought him a really expensive pair of dress robes, rich as sin, they are. He felt obligated."
Alfred glanced around him, searching for Arthur. He couldn't spot him. He hadn't seen him all evening, in fact. "Yeah well… why are you telling me this?"
She rubbed her forehead. "It's pretty obvious how into each other y'two are."
His cheeks went scarlet, and he snapped his gaze above him, staring at the enchanted ceiling, which reflected the deep velvet starry night outside. "That's really dumb, Angéline. I-I have no idea where you'd get that idea."
Angéline crossed her arms. "I could make a list. How 'bout I start with this; ya could have just about any girl in this school as a date to the Yule Ball. You're quidditch keeper, a prefect, and handsome as hell. But you intentionally chose someone that ya knew would only think of ya as a friend. You only do things like that if you're sweet on someone."
Idly, Alfred removed his glasses and rubbed off a smudge with the sleeve of his dress robes. He surveyed his surroundings in detail. There were tables, lit by glowing lanterns that emitted warmth as well as light, and the hall's walls were covered in sparkling frost. Spellbound was playing, and Alfred knew they were one of Arthur's favorite bands. But he couldn't find the other boy anywhere in the room.
Kiku, a Ravenclaw, was dancing shyly with his boyfriend Heracles, trying not to trip over his feet in embarrassment. Sadiq was eyeing the pair in irritation, clearly wanting his own chance to dance with Kiku.
Felix was wearing a pink gown more elaborate than any the actual girls were wearing, and was chatting animatedly with Elizaveta while Toris hung on his arm. Elizaveta paused to press a kiss to Roderich's cheek.
Gilbert, one of his other Gryffindor dorm mates outside of Arthur and Toris, had come by himself but was obviously having a blast nonetheless. He was downing pumpkin juice with Antonio from Hufflepuff, and Francis, the Triwizard Champion from Beauxbatons.
Tino, who was both Head Boy and the Hogwarts champion, was waltzing tenderly with Berwald, his longtime boyfriend.
The only other person (outside Sadiq) that Alfred could find that didn't seem to be enjoying themselves was Ivan from Durmstrang. His sister, Natalia, was the champion for the institute, and she had pulled him into a rather intimate dance.
He turned back to Angéline and shook his head, lowering his voice to a whisper, "I was kind of hoping no one would find out."
"I mean I'm a hero, Gryffindor through and through! But… I was too scared to even ask him to come with me," he explained, his lips setting into a small pout."Plus he's been acting weird and…"
"I don't really wanna deal with Arthur being more annoying than usual at quidditch practice for the next few months. He'll be as pissy as a blast ended skrewt. So go talk to him, will ya?" She crossed her arms. "Knowing him, he's probably somewhere quieter."
Angéline cocked her head toward outside.
Alfred just wanted to check on Arthur. He was his friend, and he had come to the Yule Ball all by himself, which had to be… kind of depressing, even to someone as standoffish as Arthur.
Angéline had advised him to look somewhere quiet. She was right, of course. Arthur didn't much like loud atmospheres unless it was a sports match or a concert. And if he were already sulky, which he most likely was, because it was Arthur, he'd like them even less.
He headed out the front doors, and came face to face with a version of the grounds he'd never seen before. There were bushes, brimming with fairy lights, and ornamental paths, and marble statures, and fountains and roses everywhere. It was…
Exactly something Arthur would love.
Alfred's lips quirked up in a smile.
He passed by a loudly snogging Ludwig and Feliciano. Well, Feliciano was loud at least. Ludwig was just attempting to pull them behind a bush, so their affection wasn't so damn public.
The paths wound in several different directions, and he came across many more pairs kissing or cuddling on benches, as well as pairs of friends chatting and laughing together.
Everyone was having fun.
He let out a puff of air, his bangs blowing up as he did so.
And then, at the end of one of the paths, standing in front of a rosebush filled with fairy lights, he spotted him.
Arthur was standing with his back to Alfred, but his scruffy sandy blonde hair was unmistakable.
Alfred closed his eyes to steel himself, took a deep breath, and approached him, tapping him on the shoulder.
Arthur jumped, pulled his wand, and turned around swiftly.
"Oh!" he exclaimed. "Merlin's pants, Alfred. You don't need to sneak up on me like that!"
Alfred just nodded.
In the fairy light, wearing his best dress robes; green lined with gold and made of fabric that Alfred knew must have cost a fortune, Arthur looked… amazing.
Then again, Alfred pretty much thought that Arthur always looked amazing.
When his nose was smudged with ink from his quill and he was poring over his scrolls intently, when he was sweaty and gross after a quidditch match, when his hair and eyebrows were slightly singed by a firecrab in Care of Magical Creatures.
Alfred scratched the back of his head. "Geez, sorry. I didn't know you were hard of hearing or something."
Arthur blushed hotly. "I-I'm not. I was just… caught up in my thoughts."
"Oh okay …"
Alfred sat down on the nearest bench, and Arthur joined him. "Why aren't you with Angéline?" he queried, and Alfred must have imagined the way his nose sort of… crinkled up at that.
"She and I…" Alfred bit his lip before continuing, "well we're not really dating, you know? We just came as friends. I'm a hero so I didn't want her to not have someone to go with!"
Arthur huffed and crossed his arms. "Oh please, I'm sure Angéline got plenty of offers."
Alfred pouted. "Well it's not me! I had like five girls ask me. Xiao Mei, and Veronique, and even your older sister!"
Arthur's lips twisted into an angry scowl at this. "Blast it, Erin. She bloody well knows better. She's just trying to piss me off, I know it."
He blinked, bewildered. "Knows better what?"
Arthur gestured in front of him, his face going red. "N-nothing! She knows nothing. And good for you. I suppose girls don't mind if you're empty-headed, as long as you look good and play quidditch well enough."
Alfred threw up his arms at this, groaning in exasperation. "Damn, Arthur. I don't get it. You've been so weird to me this semester, and now you're just being an ass. You haven't been this bad since we first… met and you were being all pissy on the train. If you're mad at me about something, you're being about as subtle as a bludger to the head."
Arthur cleared his throat and mumbled something under his breath.
"What? I didn't get that…"
"I said, I'm… not mad at you."
Alfred's throat felt dry and he licked his lips, turning to face Arthur. "Then why are you…"
"I-I can't say. Perhaps it would be better if we…" He cut himself off and glanced away.
"Better if we what?"
Arthur sighed and stared down at his hands, twiddling his fingers. "Alfred I have… always cared about you. Ever since you came to Hogwarts as a muggleborn who knew nothing about the world I've grown up in, I've… treasured your friendship. You might be an idiot who thinks fizzing whizbees are the greatest creation known to wizardkind, and you might be loud as a howler when you laugh, which is… all the bloody time, but I—I—"
He shook his head.
"Arthur is this about…" Alfred gulped, "your family? I thought they didn't mind that I was muggleborn and they weren't-"
"No, absolutely not! Heavens no, my family isn't… like that and god forbid we ever be," Arthur interrupted, fervent.
"Then what is it?" And unthinkingly, Alfred reached over and placed a finger underneath Arthur's chin.
Perhaps it was the glowing lights from the fairy bushes surrounding them, but his eyes looked greener and more vivid even than usual.
Arthur's entire face reddened, spreading to his ears and down to his neck, at Alfred's touch. "I-I'm a right fool," he said. "You're the best friend I could ask for…"
He whispered the next part, "How could I even think of wanting more?"
"I'll go upstairs now. I'd best study for… arithmancy. I know it's break but-"
He was cut off by Alfred's lips, crashing against his in a sloppy, inexperienced, kiss.
But it was full of emotion, and Alfred had just… done it. Unthinkingly, because Arthur was going to leave and he just couldn't risk losing this chance. And Arthur had looked so beautiful in the fairy light, and the music inside had just swelled and Alfred felt like this was one of those perfect Hollywood moments, from one of the muggle movies that Arthur still didn't quite get.
Arthur froze, but then Alfred felt him smile against his lips and return the kiss. He let out a little sound of contentment, and Alfred resisted the urge to chuckle at it, because it would be totally unheroic to chuckle in the middle of kissing the guy you liked for the first time.
"You-" was all Arthur could manage once they'd pulled apart. His eyes were shining and his lips looked slightly swollen with the kiss.
"Y-yeah," Alfred stuttered.
"How long?" he asked, breathless.
Alfred squeezed Arthur's shoulders. "Since last summer break. Well… that's when I realized it at least."
Arthur licked his dry lips. "Blimey. Me too…"
"Is that why you…"
"Were being avoidant? Y-yes…"
Alfred swallowed thickly, his heart beat had sped up minutes before and still had not calmed down. "That was dumb."
"Oh shut it. As if you're much better."
Alfred laughed, clear and true. "Yeah, I guess so. I-I-I wanted to ask you to the Yule Ball." His cheeks heated up.
Arthur looked up at him, with half lidded green eyes. There was a small, irresistible smile on his lips. "It's not too late, you know."
He blinked. "Oh—right!"
Alfred hopped up off the bench and, cheeks red despite the smile on his face, he held out his hand to Arthur.
"Arthur Kirkland, I would be honored. Like, it would be even cooler than Hogwarts getting a quodpot team… if you would be my date for the Yule Ball tonight."
Arthur took his hand and stood up, pressing a brief kiss to Alfred's lips. "I would like nothing more."
"Does that include the quodpot?" Alfred teased, a grin on his face.
Arthur slapped his cheek, playful. "Don't press your luck, you daft fool."
From inside, they both heard the beginning of a new song. A slow, sweet love song, as if made just for them.
"I rather like this one," Arthur said.
He took Arthur's hands in his, and they pressed their bodies close together, both of them smiling softly and exchanging glances every now and then. Alfred took in the scent of Arthur; of magic and parchment and ink and tea, and with the fairy lights glowing around them, he thought it perfect.
Better than soaring across the sky on the newest model of Firebolt, or getting free samples of every type of candy at Honeydukes, or them actually starting to serve hamburgers for meals at Hogwarts, or winning the House Cup for Gryffindor, or hell, even better than winning the Triwizard Tournament.
It was… dare he say it, magical.