The look on Justin’s face is priceless as we lead him from the alley where Olga configured the Portkey to drop us and onto bustling mass of humanity that is Los Vegas Boulevard. We knew that making this little jaunt a surprise would be the best way to go, otherwise we probably wouldn’t have been able to get Justin through the kilt fitting
without him jumping around in anticipation and inadvertently hurting himself.
Of course, Susan knows that we have Justin. Oliver and I told her that we were treating him to a couple of drinks tonight to celebrate the last days of his bachelorhood. We just didn’t tell her exactly where we’d be having those drinks.
"HOLY MERLIN, it’s Merlin!" shrieks Tav suddenly.
All of us jump and turn. Tav is pointing excitedly and jumping up and down like a toad on steroids. I follow the trajectory of Tav’s finger and am staring at a giant figure dressed in purple robes perched stiffly in the archway of a huge tower of a casino called Excalibur
Ron squints and then groans, "Is that what Muggles think Merlin looks like? That thing looks more like an old grey-haired Snape in a dress." He holds his arms out like the Snape look-a-like on the tower, scowls, and begins walking stiffly. Wayne and Justin laugh as people side-step Ron and give him perplexed looks over their shoulders. I have to admit, it’s a pretty good imitation of our former Potions and Dark Arts Professor.
There’s a click – a rotund man wearing shorts and sandals with socks lowers his camera. "Great imitation of Frankenstein," the big man tells Ron in an American accent.
"Who?" asks Ron blankly, dropping his arms.
"Or was it Dracula?" The man bares his teeth in jest.
Justin steps forward and says with a perfectly straight face, "It was Severus Snape."
Eric nudges Justin in the arm as if to say, "What the hell are you doing? These are Muggles."
But the big man doesn’t seem to notice – he nods knowingly. "Ah, right on! I’ve always admired his work. He was a man of few words. But who needs words when you look like he did," The man laughs loudly at his own joke as all of us stare.This man knows Snape?
He certainly doesn’t look the type.
The big man thanks Ron for the show, hands him an American dollar bill, and then walks off muttering something about a silent film actor of that name from the 1920’s.
"This place is full of nutters," mutters says Wayne wiping his brow as a couple of teenage girls pass by giggling behind their hands and staring at Oliver. "I think the heat has fried their brains."
Oliver dons his signature sunglasses and surveys the scene coolly, ignoring the girls. I figure that it’s likely because he’s used to mobs of fan-girls and doesn’t mind the commotion.
"I’m going to bloody melt," moans Ron, "or else burn to a crisp like a slice of bacon. Hermione will kill you all if I get heat-stroke."
I grab a flyer from some bloke who is standing there waving them around and pass it to Ron. "Use this as an umbrella, Mr Delicate," I say. Ron informs us that he’s not a sissy and doesn’t need an umbrella, but he takes the flyer anyway.
I rub my hands together and ask Tav, the only one of us who have been to Vegas before, "Alright, where do we start?"
But Tav doesn’t notice because he’s staring open-mouthed at the roller coaster wrapped around the casino fashioned to resemble the New York Skyline across the street. "This is better than the Cloud City…" Tav whispers to himself, wandering forward and stepping off the curb.
I grab him and pull him back onto the sidewalk as a yellow taxi speeds by, it’s horn blaring.
"Tav, where’s the best place to get something cold to drink around here?" asks Oliver.
"I dunno…" mutters Tav vaguely as his eyes wander to the blazing sign for M&M World down the street. "Wow…there are such things as purple
M&Ms?!" he breathes, his eyes wide.
I say in a low voice so Justin can’t hear, "What are you talking about, ‘you don’t know’? I thought you’d been here before – you suggested it."
Tav drags his eyes back to me and then grins. "Yeah, wasn’t that a great idea?! I’ve always wanted to come here. They have conventions all the time…" his voice trails off as he stares after a women walking past with the biggest drink that I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
Ron gapes at me, as trickle of sweat rolls down the side of his face and he sticks the flyer above his head to shade himself with it. "He’s never been her before?!"
I groan, "Bloody hell, we’ve planned a party without planning one."
Wayne looks slightly concerned. "Well, can’t we just go into one of these places?"
"Fake it," says Oliver from over Wayne’s shoulder. He motions to Tav, who has now wandered over to Justin and Eric and is pointing excitedly at the roller coaster. "We’ll keep Wild Child so busy that he’ll never know we don’t know what we’re doing."
Behind Oliver, I see Tav run up to a street vender with a wad of American Muggle bills. I bet my life that he’s buying a drink. "Brilliant," I say before I glance over at Ron who is mopping his forehead with the flyer. I suppress a laugh and grind out as dead pan as I can manage, "Nice hooters, Weasley," just as Eric joins us.