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Chapter 18 : Majesty
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I swiveled in the mirror one more time, skeptical at best, at the dress that Victoire had insisted I try on. I had been more drawn to the blue, but she was vehement that I get the ivory in the same style of dress. I looked at my back in the mirror, my head twisted to see over my shoulder. I liked the style of course because the blue had been the same, but the off-white colour I was currently drabbed in made my make a face.
“I don’t know about this one,” I called out from my dressing room. “Why ivory again, Vic?” I asked.
“Blue just isn’t your colour. I know you like it and all, and I don’t mind when you wear it usually, but that’s just it. You always wear blue. The ivory makes you look more grown up and sophisticated.”
I rolled my eyes and unlatched the door. I stood before my four friends who were standing around waiting for my verdict. They had already picked out their dresses, within the first few ones they’d tried on no less, and I was being the stick in the mud because I wouldn’t decide. “I didn’t know I was going for grown up and sophisticated. I was going for sexy. Does ivory look sexy?”
Victoire gawked at me. Gigi rolled her eyes. Starr didn’t look impressed at all. And Melody stepped forward. “Allie,” she began, “I really don’t want to have to hit you, but I will if you don’t stop being so thick-headed about this.”
“Thick-headed?” I mused.
“Yes, thick-headed. Come over here and stand in front of the mirror with me. Now imagine your hair swept up elegantly in some such fashion. Picture yourself walking down the stairs into the Entrance Hall where Jase will no doubt be standing, even if he hasn’t asked you to go with him officially. What do you think his reaction will be?”
I stared at my image once more. I tilted my head from side to side before finally admitting to myself that the ivory dress did look rather stylish on me. It brought out the curves I hadn't really drawn attention to in past years. My hair was currently pulled back in a loose pony tail so that didn’t really help, but as I turned again to examine the back of the dress I conceded that the pony tail did look rather good with the backless dress.
What will his reaction be? I asked myself. Goodness, I didn’t want to speculate. I didn’t want to imagine the best because I couldn’t help but find myself drawn to the worst. I was a pessimist and I did, but then again I didn’t want to get my hopes up. If I was let down then I was no better off, even though I’d be utterly crushed at the rejection. But if I suspected the best, that he would scoop me into his arms and proclaim his undying love for me then the opposite would be that much worse when the best didn’t come true.
I crossed my eyes briefly thinking about how ridiculous it was to being going around in circles on this subject when I’d already made up my mind whatever happened at the dance it was better to get it out there than to leave it hidden inside.
Impatience drew at my friends, Starr most especially, as I thought over my dizzying problems, and she gripped my shoulders and shook me. “Wha—What?!” I cried at the jostling movements.
“You listen to me. Are you listening?” she said firmly.
“Yes I’m listening.”
“Good, now Jase will not reject you, it’s inconceivable why he’s even been delayed this long. But he won’t reject you now. Not in this dress, not when you’ve gone to these lengths to win him. He’s going to see that he loves you once and for all or so help me, I will crush his skull in with a brick.”
I raised one eyebrow in amusement. My fiery friend looked positively veracious and I couldn’t help my allowing a small smile to tweak at the corners of my mouth. Her mad look transformed into a full-blown smile after a few seconds and I followed suit. I pulled Starr into a hug as we laughed, and said, “I believe you.”
I didn’t respond specifically to either of the things she’d said I realized. I wanted to believe Jase had finally come to his senses, and that he’d realize all that Starr predicted. But then again if he didn’t, then I absolutely believed that Starr, as well as the rest of my friends, might very well bash his head in with a brick. I let them assume what they wanted with that response and returned to the dressing room to take off the ivory dress that I’d decided to buy.
I had looked at the purple dress that I’d tried on back in the fall, but it wasn’t right any more. The dress itself was still the same and I remembered Jase’s reaction with a small blush. But I decided I didn’t want to wear something he’d already seen. I wouldn’t be the Allie he knew, not on the outside anyways. I wanted to be more than that.
Nervousness came on a number of levels the Friday of the dance. First there was the little factor that Jase hadn't asked me to go with him, and that was slightly worrying. But I knew he hadn't asked anyone else, he’d told me so himself. I hadn't wanted to press the fact of going with me either because with the cards on the table, he knew I was in love with him and I didn’t want to see possessive or clingy or even desperate, despite the fact I was actually going a little insane.
Next it hit me when during my spare period in the library that I would have to swallow the number of butterflies in my stomach multiplied by about seven million by the time eight o’clock rolled around. I was going over what I wanted to say over and over again, so much so that I don’t think I looked at my homework once during the entire hour I was in the library.
I was constantly looking around at students and the books and picking up on the smallest details. Lisa Anne was wearing tie-dyed shoes. Emilie Bell was blushing as she talked to a boy with two eyebrow piercings and what looked like a tongue ring. The book, two rows over on the second from the bottom shelf, was jiggling back and forth every time a fifth year walked by it.
Finally I conceded that I was going to be, if I was not already, clinically insane if I kept this up. I let my head drop onto the table in front of me with a large THUD sound that in reality sounded a lot worse than it felt at the time. It wasn’t until five minutes later that my forehead started to ache.
“Having fun?” a voice to my right said. My head popped up to see Gigi standing there. “Ohh, nice red mark on your face. Looks like you’ve been having the time of your life.”
“Yeah,” I grumbled, “Right up there alongside wrestling with dragons and jumping into a vat of bubbling acidic sludge.”
She laughed, “It can’t be all that bad?”
“Wanna bet?” I mumbled.
Gigi rolled her eyes. “You’ve been worried for the past two weeks, heck the past seven months, and it all boils down to now, right? Haven’t you thought over this a dozen times? Haven’t you already figured out every possible or plausible or unlikely scenario in the book?”
I was vaguely aware of my notebook sitting in front of where Gigi had sat down. The same notebook that held all my plans and ideas and theories regarding Jase and my potential relationship and the things I was going to do to win him over. Gigi’s raised eyebrow told me exactly what I was thinking; that she’d seen every outcome in there complete with question marks, little hearts and crazy scribbles that testified towards my prompt and thorough trial of insanity. I snatched it up and shut the book but didn’t reply.
“Do you doubt yourself?” she asked.
“Of course, how can I not? After the supermodel-material girls he’s dated how can I measure up?”
Gigi’s narrowed expression told me she didn’t believe a single word of crap that was coming out of my mouth. And honestly, neither did I. I knew that Jase had gone out with the cream of the crop, the Hogwarts hotties, for some reason, and I had yet to discover why. But at the back of my head there was a niggling question asking: why has he been your friend for so many years if he didn’t honestly like you? Sure there was always the stand-by answer: I was the only girl who he could come to for advice without having to worry about making me fall in love with him. There was a big, resounding rejection buzzer going off in my mind at that one because that’s exactly what I’d done.
Her hand slapped down on the table bringing me back to the present. “That’s it!” she declared. “I’ve made up my mind. I am not allowing you look in a mirror the entire night.”
“You heard me. As of right now you are going to prove your loyalty to your friends and trust their judgment of how you look and how we think Jase will think you look. Okay?”
“No, what are you joking? I need to see myself in order to know when I’m ready.”
“Bullshit!” Gigi hissed, making me vaguely aware of the librarian who was lurking behind the bookshelves, listening into to conversation. “Allie, you are going to trust us, you are going to trust yourself, and if I hear you say one word about not being sexy or worth Jase or anything of the sort, I am going to cut off my ears and mail them to him. He wants you so badly; he can listen to all your problems.”
“But I don’t know if he wants me—”
“He does!” she stated firmly and I jumped back as she slammed her textbook shut and started gathering up her papers. “You seem to have a great sense of self Allyson Graham, most of the time. But right now is not one of those times. You were all resolved to focus on you and how you feel, well now I’m letting you know how I feel. If you so much as say the word ugly tonight, or geeky, or bookworm, I swear to whatever higher power there is that I will kick your ass to kingdom come. Do you trust me?”
“But nothing, you said yes and now you’re sticking to it. Now get your stuff, we’re going to the dorm room. Starr, Melody and Victoire are meeting us up there.”
She stood with her books gathered in her arms looking down on me expectantly. Her short spiky hair made her look almost fiendish and the tapping of her black knee-high hooker boots was a little daunting. “What about last class?” I said quietly.
“No one’s going and I doubt Professor Longbottom cares if we go to Herbology. It’s the rumor going around that he put in the idea for the dance in the first place.”
“Professor Longbottom dances?” I asked incredulously while I started shuffling papers into my book bag.
Gigi smiled, “Guess we’ll find out.”
I stood. “So you’re really serious about the no mirror thing?”
“You bet your ass I am. So are the rest of the girls.”
“You’ve already told them?!”
“Sure, we’ve been talking about it for a while. Ever since you became this uptight, gotta-be-better-than-the-rest, hoity toity, obsessive compulsive schizo! So yes, to answer your question, yes I have technically told them.”
Eyes wide with shock I stared at Gigi. Whoa! That was admittedly scary and I hoped that I never had to see that one again. “Guess I’ll just have to suffer through it,” I mumbled when we finally started walking.”
Gigi snorted, “If you suffer from being kissed by the man you love, I am a Purple Blast-Ended Skrewt.”
“Could be,” I said under my breath, not even lingering on the idea of kissing Jase. It had been all I wanted to do for years. “I’m such a loser aren’t I?”
“Mostly,” Gigi laughed as she nudged me. “But the way he looks at you tells me he doesn’t think so.”
“How does he look at me?”
“Remember the first time he road his broom? The first trip to Hogsmeade? How about the Starstream IV that we all pitched in to get him in fifth year?”
“Yeah, of course, those are all prime moments in his life. I’ve never seen him happier than when he ripped the paper off his Starstream IV.” I remember those memories with fondness. Those were the times I focused on when the world seemed to crash and burn. Those are also the ones I made him focus on when all his relationships had crashed and burned too.
“Well,” Gigi continued, “all those times, despite how happy you remember him or how happy he looks in pictures or whatever, that doesn’t hold a candle to how happy he looks when he looks at you, my friend.”
I smiled to myself at the thought. “Really?”
“Would I lie to you?”
I narrowed my gaze at her. “Well you are pretty mean sometimes. Now for instance, taking away my mirror privileges on what could very well be the most important night of my teenage life!”
I shoved her at the comment but couldn’t help laughing. She joined in. I was being melodramatic, a term clearly written for Melody, who was waiting in the dorm room when Gigi and I arrived. Victoire and Starr were also there talking. I walked in and deposited my school stuff before going into the bathroom. It was too late however, for they had already removed the mirror over the sink, which was a really disorienting feeling. They eyed me suspiciously every move I made from the bathroom to my bed like I was some criminal.
“What?” I had to ask.
“Nothing.” Starr was smiling generously with an amused look on her face.
Yeah I knew what they were all thinking. I wasn’t a dope. Not a lot of the time anyways. I was a girl stuck in a book, thinking things out over and over again, just like those characters I loved. They twisted and turned their thoughts to endless conclusions and wasted so much time thinking that sometimes they missed out on acting on the one that fit. I knew which one fit; I was just too much of a chicken to ever see it to fruition. Luckily I had four friends beside me who would push me into a volcano if it meant some self-betterment on my part.
So in truth, the no-mirror thing scared me a little, but it wasn’t that big of a deal in the end. They wouldn’t let me make a fool of myself. They were behind me one hundred percent. Even if they all thought I was an uptight, gotta-be-better-than-the-rest, hoity toity, obsessive compulsive schizo. But then again, I couldn’t really blame them.
I’d dragged it out as long as I could. There was no turning back now. I had made it all the way down to the first staircase leading to the Great Entrance and my heart was fluttering faster than a hummingbird’s wings, and my stomach was doing back flips as if a thousand butterflies were restless inside. I’m sure I could say any number of things to get me out of walking down those stairs, but none of my friends would hear it, of that I was certain. I could claim to be on deaths’ door and they would simply scoff and roll their eyes before pushing me headfirst down the stairs.
I closed my eyes, trying my best to work out the scenario in front of me. It would take too many unexpected turns though and so instead I tried to imagine what I looked like. Gigi had stayed true to her word, and everyone else seemed to be behind her on this one, because there was not a single mirror in sight. I do not know how the four of them managed to get dressed themselves without one, but they had, and I hadn't. I wasn’t allowed to do anything. Not when they tugged on my hair to the point of pain had they relented. They’d made me screw up my face as they applied the makeup they refused to show me. And when I climbed into the ivory backless dress that I’d chosen and told me to spin in my lavish extravagance, they had merely commented that I looked perfect and took over their wardrobes.
I sat there for upwards of a half an hour watching them get dressed, watching them primp and prepare for the dance and was forced to sit on my bed. They were so suspicious of me that even when I went to the bathroom they not only timed it, but they also voted on who would accompany me to make sure I didn’t sneak a mirror in to look. It was positively criminal; I was being treated like a fugitive and my only crime: wanting to look at myself to make sure I looked okay.
The only mirror I was allowed was a small compact mirror that Melody retrieved from her purse before applying my makeup so that I was able to put in my contacts. I saw my eyes, wide with frustration and concentration, as I put in my contacts. I tried to sneak the compact away without success.
When they were all satisfied at their own appearances, God knows how they managed that, Gigi and Starr took me by each arm and drew me from the room. I was being lead, shackled and chained, down the flights of stairs towards the Great Hall. And with each step my heart kicked up a notch and fluttered faster. My feet grew heavier and my face grew hotter. A wave of dizziness overtook me as we continued down the final corridor before the stairs. Now I was standing there wondering.
“I—” I started, only to be cut off.
“If you’re about to say ‘I don’t think I can do this’, I am going to slap you,” Gigi remarked standing next to me in a short sky-blue dress that fanned out in frills and lace and sparkles. “You are not allowed to say that!”
“But you nothing,” Starr said. She was wearing a black, full-length dress with off-the-shoulder straps. “There is nothing to be afraid of, and you know it all too well. This is Jase we’re talking about, not some guy you just met. This is Jase, your ‘best friend’ of six years. You know who he is.”
“But I don’t know what he’s thinking,” I managed to get out in a fast slur.
Melody raised an eyebrow at me, “You know, for an intuitive person Allie, you sure are dense some times. You know Jase better than anyone else in the world. You know what he’s thinking. You just don’t want to think about what he’s thinking.” She brushed her long dark brown hair over her right shoulder. She’d chosen to wear it down in light curls with her forest green dress with a strapless heart shaped corset top and flowing satin skirt.
“You make no sense sometimes Melody,” Victoire commented as she smoothed out the lavender purple dress that matched her eyes and fell like water over her curves. “Though I suppose she is right,” she looked at me, “and you need to get over yourself for another thing.”
I rolled my eyes. “Damn, you guys are helpful,” I said sarcastically.
Gigi put her hands on her hips, an image that was soon repeated with Melody, Starr and Victoire. “If you don’t start moving down those stairs we’re going to push you. Take your pick.”
I held up my hands in defeat. “Alright, alright, I’m going.” I really thought walking down myself was easier than being pushed, despite how lead-like my feet felt.
I took a deep breath, wiggled my ankles in the high-heeled shoes to make sure they were strapped on tight and not likely to fall off during my entrance, and stepped out from behind the wall to walk down the stairs.
I kept my eyes on my feet for the first few steps, dreading looking up but at the same time afraid that I might trip and fall if I didn’t watch where I was walking. After five steps I slowly raised my head to look before me. The Great Entrance was packed but I didn’t have to search far before finding who I was looking for.
He stood with his back to me in a small circle consisting of Teddy, Alec, Andy, Chase and Gigi’s date, Malcolm. I noticed his big broad shoulders and his dirty-blonde hair instantly. My heartbeat took off and for a fraction of a second I thought I might hyperventilate right then and there without even making it as far as the Great Entrance. But then Chase’s lips curved as our eyes met and he pointed over Jase’s shoulder towards me. Jase turned at just when I felt my heart falter to a stand-still, frozen in time, his face lit up with a gorgeous smile and all my fears and frozen moments melted away.
I found it easy to take one step, and then another, until I was standing right in front of him. He was my friend and I didn’t need to be afraid to be with him. I had been with him for six years straight and I had never feared the time we spent together. Never, even after realizing I really and truly did love him, had I ever stepped out of that comfortable friendship we’d formed. All my love for him had never taken that part away. I’d never felt foolish, I’d never blushed more than before, and I’d never made a complete fool of myself to try and get him to notice me. We were best friends and there were no secrets between us. As his smile took over my smile I found myself looking into not only a friend, or love, but also a soul mate, no matter how corny that sounded.
Jase held up a hand, enclosed in his fingers was the stem of a white rose. My breath caught. “For me?” I managed.
Jase nodded. “It would seem that I picked the exact right colour too. A red one would have been too ostentatious for the dress you’re wearing.” A little colour flooded his cheeks before he said softly, “You look beautiful.”
I took the rose from him, snapping the excess stem off before sliding it into the ponytail at the back of my head. The girls had decided that it should be at the back of my head, long and flowing rather than curled or framing my face. They’d allowed a little pouf at the front but otherwise the rest was entirely pulled tight in a tail at the back that was level with my eyes at the front. “Thank you,” I finally said.
He offered me his arm, which I took of course, and we stood there waiting for my four friends to appear so we could go into the Great Hall together. Gigi, Melody, Victoire, and Starr all flitted down the stairs with bright smiles on their faces. Each of their eyes darted towards Jase and I, giving their heartfelt approval of the situation. Everyone had linked arms with their respective partners when Jase said, “Shall we?” gesturing towards the Great Hall. I could only nod.
Majestic was the only word I could come up with to describe the Great Hall when we entered. The pure, unbridled majesty that went into creating such an exquisitely decorated room was breathtaking. Candles floated, a crystal chandelier hung from the ceiling, the bewitched castle ceiling held an array of stars and colour. The enchanting music that overwhelmed me when I walked in was so intrinsic and magical that I almost forgot to keep breathing.
“It’s perfect,” I breathed as I gripped Jase’s arm harder.
“Perfect for what?” he asked, dipping his head closer to mine.
I met his eyes and smiled. “Everything.”
A/N: Pause for reaction! .......................................
Final Chapter Coming up Next! Sorry to have to leave you. But the story of Allie and Jase is tearfully coming to an end. Please review! I adore reading all the posted reviews and I try and answer every single one of them. ~K :D
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