Oh, but that place is legend. You won’t find a place like that today. People wanted to forget, you see. When graduation day is your best friend murdered in a duel, a former professor felled by a Death Eater, a Quidditch rival crushed by debris before your very eyes— reconstruction is not the first thing that springs to mind. How can one rebuild, after that? How can one put the pieces back together, as though nothing had happened?
Oh, maybe it would have been the right response. But we couldn’t all be Potter and Granger and Longbottom, could we?
No, we wanted to forget. And to have fun. We wanted to see Veela hostesses, a constantly-changing Charmed Backdrop, and the ceiling raining glittery powdered Runespoor scales on New Year’s Eve. We wanted new holidays, new fashions, and elf-made wine served in goblets made of werewolf claws and bent-out-of-shape galleons, money tossed aside like it was nothing. We wanted the stupid relics of Ministry culture tossed aside too, in favor of nude parties and Weird Sisters albums played with reverence, from start to finish at full volume, with no interruption. We wanted that old Knockturn theater of our fathers reclaimed, made our own pleasure hall. We used the old dressing rooms for groping, the great stage as a dance floor; and in the lobby we drunkenly voted, every morning before staggering home, whether to crown Snape’s portrait, or to set it aflame. It wasn’t the real portrait, of couse. Just some naughty scribbles that resulted from Finnigan and Thomas hitting the Firewhiskey too hard.
Warbeck showed up, and got a booth to herself, and we all stood and gawked even though she was Mum’s celebrity and not ours. A couple of Ravenclaws hawked potions that made you see things you couldn’t believe. Cho Chang, always the best-looking girl in the room, wearing crup-bone earrings and her old flame’s portrait in her miniature locket, took up with Krum; and they had a booth to themselves as well. Hannah Abbott wasn’t married then, just had an arrangement with a fellow Hufflepuff, and they showed up one night with a supposedly famous Dark Wizard huddled between them, and had everyone shrieking and making a fuss about it for days, until Hannah confessed it was just her brother, and they’d only wanted to do it for a laugh.
Almost everyone was there: in spray-charmed pink Death Eater masks, in Muggle bikinis, wearing hollowed-out cauldrons for skirts, in rank-smelling dragon-hide jackets, in nothing but gold paint.
The Ministry shut it down that same decade. The owner, some Nott in our year, boasted a bit too much about the profit he’d made (bankrolled by Malfoy, until he lost out in that suit to Parkinson; you could sometimes see them sitting and arguing in their booth, but they never mingled, not that anyone would have wanted them to). And people claimed the manager — that Goyle — had murdered someone in the back room. Goyle claimed it. We all laughed. He was on a potion at the time, and probably joking. And we had a murder night, where the walls dripped blood, and a night where half the patrons were rumored to be werewolves, and even a night where a goblin drank too much and was found dead the next morning in the alley.
Yes. That place was a legend.
If you managed to make it past the door, that is.