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Chapter 2 : Angelina, December 1994
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Thankful to finally stretch her legs, Angelina heaved her books up into the crook of her arm and strode out from the dim lighting of the Charms classroom into the bustle of the third floor corridor. The bright sunlight streaming in from the tall windows was a welcomed change. Judging by the glazed looks on Fred and George’s faces as Professor Flitwick had spent the past hour excitedly chattering on about non-verbal spells, they’d felt similarly.
A sorely missed ache burned in her thighs as she urged her tired body to move, and she winced. If she was lucky, perhaps Lora would bring a mug of tea instead of a telling, I-can’t-say-you-don’t-deserve-this, look to their revision block next hour.
With Quidditch cancelled in favour of hosting the Triwizard Tournament, she and a small group of sixth years had taken to bending the rules ever so slightly to play casual late night matches in the pitch – the most recent being the night prior. It’d been a close call though, and they’d all barely snuck back into the castle without being caught. It’d been nearly dawn by the time she’d made her way back to the comfort of her four-poster. They’d have to lay low for a while, give Filch time to focus on some other dubious late night capers.
As a prefect, Lora Paisley – one of Angelina’s closest friends and Gryffindor prefect – was obligated to disapprove.
“Look sharp, Johnson – yawning and limping is no way to secure a date.” Fred’s voice called out through the gathering of their classmates also making their way out from the classroom. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you look like you were up for the better part of the night? What do you think, George?”
Unsurprised and not wholly amused, she shook her head at Fred before catching George’s eyes and returning his smile.
“I think she looks a fair sight better than you, Fred.”
“And yet, rumour has it, is still dateless. Say, George, maybe you ought to –”
Whatever witty suggestion Fred was about to make was cut short as George shot him a look that Angelina could only infer as pleading. Rolling her eyes at whatever it was they were on about, she stopped in the middle of the corridor.
“First off, if I wanted a date, I’d have had one secured weeks ago. Secondly, I’d look better if somebody –” she pursed her lips at Fred, trying to hide her amusement at their most recent high-flying escapade “– would have actually played their position and blocked that bloody Bludger before it took off out of the pitch. The two of you are lucky we got that one back.”
“Ah, but where’s your sense of adventure, Ang?” George mused, playfully rubbing at his chin. “I was so looking forward to crafting a tale for Hagrid as to why he had a Bludger hole blasted through his roof at three in the morning.”
Unable to keep a straight face, she laughed at the thought of what sort of damage could have ensued had their late night Bludger antics carried on for longer than it had.
“Right then,” she said, composing herself as they reached the third flood landing. “I’ll catch you lot later.” She waved the twins off with a smile as they parted ways. Whatever, they were up to next, she highly doubted it would involve the library.
Pushing her too-long braids back from her face and behind her shoulder as she started up the staircase, Angelina found her thoughts wondering back over Fred’s comment. Making a mental note to con Lora into using a trimming spell on her hair sometime before the ball, she let out an audible huff. Who was he to presume she was desperately looking for a date to the ball? She’d made a pact with Lora and Alicia weeks ago and wasn’t about to back out on her two best friends now just so she could have some bloke on her arm for the night. Besides, last she’d heard neither he nor George had dates yet, so they had no room to talk.
At least she had a plan.
Lost in her conversation with herself, she nearly collided with a gaggle of shifty-eyed Hufflepuffs who smelled suspiciously of Gobstone goo. The grand staircase was crowded with younger students scrambling between their lessons. In contrast to their flurry, a handful of sixth and seventh year students, now into their N.E.W.T. coursework, meandered up and down the stairway in no particular hurry to settle into their revisions. Squeezing by a large group of Gryffindor fourth years, who were busy debating the intricacies of some potion, Angelina caught sight of a familiar brunette face and waved her down.
“It’s about time you made an appearance today. Did you forget about Charms?” she teased, falling into step with Alicia Spinnet. Having both discontinued the study of Herbology, they both had this hour following Charms free and had begrudgingly pledged to spend it in the library at Lora’s encouragement.
“Charms?” Alicia quipped, a hint of incredulous panic in her tone. “There are only seventeen days left – seventeen – and you’re worried about Charms? Merlin, what were we thinking? I don’t want to go to the ball alone.” She pulled the strap of her bag back up onto her shoulder before running a self-conscious hand through her fringe. “Did I mention he looked at me this morning in the Great Hall? Just as he was reaching across the table for a scone.”
“And just, may I ask,” Angelina prodded, feeling more amused than anything else, “what happened to the whole, ‘we’re the Gryffindor chasers, we don’t need bloody dates for the ball, blah blah – independent witch – blah’ routine?”
Angelina smirked knowingly at her best friend. Though amusing, her dormitory mate and best friend’s drastic change of heart regarding dates for the ball was anything but surprising. Historically, Alicia’s voyages into the realm of witch power and feminism were largely powered by post break-up ire, and were rather short lived in nature. In truth, Angelina should have known better than to think her fickle friend’s most recent convictions would last until after the Yule Ball was over, especially with the increasing frequency a certain Hufflepuff wizard’s name had been coming up in casual conversation.
“Now one scone-reaching look from Mr Eddie McDonald –” she dropped her voice to a whisper as they crossed the library’s threshold, shooting a cautionary glance towards the desk where Madam Pince perched like an overgrown vulture “— and you’re ready to renounce your education and resign to a life of household charms and cookbooks. Not to mention abandon your two best friends.”
Alicia glared at her. “Very funny. I’m not renouncing anything. And he did look at me, even made eye contact. But there’s no need to worry about our plan. It’ll be a warm day in the dungeon before that tosser gets up the nerve to actually ask me.” She pulled out a chair at an empty study table and plopped unceremoniously into it. “Hufflepuff.”
“Well, then we stick to our original plan.” Angelina sat down across the table. “You, Lora and I will look fabulous, go to the ball, dance, laugh at Erin and Marjorie, and have an amazing time. I’ve already turned down Geoffrey and Peregrine Cooke in favour of what, need I remind you, was your plan. Besides, the two of you are better looking than any of the sorry blokes in our year.” Her face split into a reassuring smile; Alicia’s face did not, the latter’s mouth opening to protest. “Except for dear Eddie of course.”
Angelina laughed at herself. She loved Alicia, but poking fun at the brunette’s crush on the soft-spoken, wavy-haired Hufflepuff was far too amusing to bypass. If the two ever actually dated, she knew that her best friend would quickly grow bored of him. Alicia’s crush, she was fairly sure, was not on the poor boy as much as on his inaccessibility.
Retrieving a scroll of parchment and a large Transfiguration text from her bag, Angelina glanced around the library. Prior to this year, Angelina had never spent much time in the library during the day. Thin streams of sunlight crept in through the tall windows, making the rows of ancient books look even older and dustier than they did in the evening. The table that Alicia had commandeered sat near the middle of the library, tucked between the recent copies of the Daily Prophet and other social media publications. With the holiday and end of term looming, it was rather crowded – small groups of their fellow sixth years occupied most of the group revision tables.
“So where is Lora?” Alicia asked after only a few moments, tapping her quill rapidly against the polished oak table top. “Wasn’t she supposed to meet us here? I’m completely hopeless at this stuff without her.”
“You and I both. Merlin’s pants,” Angelina swore as the tip of her quill snapped, leaving a puddle of black ink in its wake. Rummaging through her bag, searching for a second quill, she sighed. “I think she said that she was stopping in the Owlery, sending a letter to Michael no doubt – do you have an extra quill?”
Lora had met Michael the Muggle – as Alicia called him – in primary school, a full six years before the blond Muggle-borne had learned that magic was real and what the word Muggle meant. It never mattered how often Lora tried to assure the two girls that they were her best friends, Angelina knew that that role had been filled a long time ago over building blocks and wax crayons. ‘And Michael’ followed Lora’s name as naturally as though it were a part of her name, and so when the two had begun dating the previous year, Angelina had only responded with a smile that clearly said “it’s about time.”
“I only have this old quill.” Alicia frowned, sliding a stiff blackened quill across the table. She made an effort of staring down at the pages of A Guide to Advanced Transfiguration, and even turned a page before looking up again. “Merlin, I hate this stuff. I’d much rather be doing revisions for just about any other course.”
“Alright any other course besides this or potions.”
“Potions itself isn’t terrible,” Angelina dipped the old, less-than-fabulous quill, into her ink pot and tested it out on the top corner of her parchment. “It’s at least logical. I mean, what even is this? ‘And only when the appropriate phase of essence is made visible shall the phase of the essence be bought into matter’ I swear old Switch was touched when he wrote this chapter.”
“Lora is certainly taking her time in the Owlery.” Alicia glanced towards the door as though their friend was about to walk through the door at any second. “I wonder,” she continued, twirling a chunk of her long brunette hair on her finger, “if Michael the Muggle’s parents are ever suspicious about the owls that tend to hang out near their son’s window. I just think that’d be awkward to try and explain.”
“Oh, I’m sure it was and will be.” The old quill still not writing, she jabbed it at the parchment with vengeance. “But, I mean, my parents did it somehow, and it seems to have worked out for them.”
“Oh, I’m sure they did it –”
Angelina dropped her quill and turned to see a smirking Lee Jordan standing over their table.
“—I’ve seen your mum, Johnson.” He swatted Angelina’s shoulder. A wide grin was plastered across his face and he wagged his eyebrows suggestively. It was clear that he found himself to be highly amusing.
“Lee, you amaze me.”
“Merlin, Angie, don’t flatter me like that.”
“How it is that you can make such good marks, spending so much of your time in the gutter like you do.” She smiled at him. Teasing Lee was a staple in her day-to-day activities as teasing her was in his.
A faux expression of pain flashed across his face and he clutched his hands to his chest. “Your words are so hurtful, Johnson. I’m such a martyr, putting up with all of your abuse.” He spun the chair the girls had been saving for Lora around and straddled the back of it. “Paisley ditching out on you two?”
“She’s in the Owlery, sending her post to Michael the Muggle.” Alicia smiled rolling her eyes. “Apparently her beau is more important than either of our Transfiguration marks.” She looked down at her still-blank parchment and sighed. “So, Lee, to what do we owe the pleasure of this visit too?”
“Thank you for asking, Alicia.” He turned towards Angelina, a smirk plastered on his face. “Poor Angie here seems to have forgotten her manners.” Angelina felt her eyes roll; she was not going to win their battle of teasing today. “It’s a shame really. If I thought she’d appreciate me, I’d ask her to the ball. We’d easily be the best looking couple on the dance floor. But, things being the way they are –“ his words hung dramatically in the air “—I’ll just have to ask Libby.”
“Libby McNaulty?” Angelina practically sputtered.
“Do you know another Libby that I don’t?” Alicia said, rolling her eyes.
“Why, jealous Johnson?”
“Oh, no. Definitely not jealous. Just – Libby McNaulty? Fascinating.” Angelina suppressed a laugh, fighting to temper her amusement. “I mean, you better hurry or some other sorry bloke will have snatched her off the market.”
“I’m working on it. Have you heard of other blokes wanting to ask her?”
Despite the clear teasing tone in her voice, Angelina detected an waver of self-doubt in Lee’s normally cool and collected performance.
“Lee, don’t let Angelina worry you. Nobody else has braved imagining asking her to the ball.” Alicia tossed the textbook she had been pretending to look at onto the table. “She’s terrifying. I’m sure she’s all yours.”
“Alicia – ” Angelina kicked her friend under the table. “Libby’s a lovely girl; she’s just an egotistical toad, is all.” She turned her attention back to Lee, her voice encouraging. “And no, I haven’t heard of anyone else wanting to ask her, but all the French boys are starting to move in on the Hogwarts girls so you should hurry.”
He sat up straight in his chair and ran his hand across his head. “You think so?”
“Yes, Lee.” She turned around and surveyed their classmates sprinkled throughout the library. “She’s sitting over there with Indira and Shannon and few other Ravenclaws, you should go ask her now.”
“Well, George and Fred are still argu – figuring out what they’re doing for the ball, and erm – ” His voice trailed off into space, and he was quiet for a moment. “You’re right, Johnson. I should ask her, and I will. If Spinnet here asks that sap McDonald to the ball. Everyone knows you’ve been drooling over him for weeks, just yesterday Marjorie and Erin were talking about it in the Great Hall.”
Alicia flapped her mouth opened and shut like a great fish. Whatever words she wanted to spit at Lee seemed to have been trapped.
“Unless you want me to ask him for you?” He smirked.
Alicia sprang up out of her chair as though it has shocked her. Her face was red and her eyebrows had furrowed together. “Don’t you dare, Lee Jordan.” She finally managed to regain the power of speech. “If anyone is going to make an arse of me, it sure as hinkypunks is going to be me.”
Angelina watched in amusement as she marched across the library to the table where a group of Eddie’s mates were hunched over a table talking in low voices. One pointed around the corner as Alicia approached them before disappearing around the corner.
Shaking her head in amusement, Angelina smirked at Lee. “You know it would have taken me the next seventeen days to convince her to do that.”
“What can I say? It’s a gift.”
“Yeah, yeah.” She rolled her eyes. “Shouldn’t you be using that gift to ask Libby to the ball?”
“Alright, alright. I’ll go ask her. Where’d you say she was sitting?”
“Near the row of shelves with all the charms texts? She’s sitting next to Indira.”
As Lee walked away, Alicia re-rounded the corner, just barely making past the group of Eddie’s mates before practically skipping. A large grin was plastered on her face and her eyes shouted triumph. Angelina sighed before smiling across the library at her friend.
At least Lora was still planning on going to the ball stag.
Having accomplished precisely three lines of her Transfiguration essay in the library, Angelina sat on her own in the steadily emptying common room hunched over the wooden study table. Though she was now up to twelve lines, she wished she had gotten more accomplished earlier that day. By the time Lora had joined her and Alicia in the library and had been brought up to date on all the latest Yule Ball news, it’d been time for their next lesson. At least she could find work as a professional procrastinator if her N.E.W.T.s next year didn’t work out the way she hoped.
Having finished with the day’s course work and dinner, Alicia was off with a group from Ancient Runes and Lora had disappeared to Professor Burbage’s office – the latter spent a lot of time with the Muggle Studies professor helping her organize all her gizmos and gadgets into logical files.
Sighing, Angelina looked down at her tidy scrawl on the parchment and dipped her quill tip into the ink well. A drop of the black ink dripped down onto her parchment, spreading slowly across the freshly penned words. She swore under her breath, siphoning the blotch with the tip of her wand. She looked up as the portrait door from the stairwell swung open. Lora walked through the entrance, her bag slung over her shoulder and her blonde hair pulled back from her face.
“How was filing?” She waved to her friend from the table.
Lora walked towards the table and slid down into a chair across from Angelina and shrugged her shoulders. Her eyes were puffy as though she had been crying.
“Are you okay?” Angelina leaned forward across the table, pushing a tin of biscuits she’d nicked from the Great Hall her way. “What happened?”
The blonde frowned, picking a custard cream from the assortment. She nibbled at it and chewed for a minute. “It’s nothing, really, but I didn’t do any filing. I just wanted to talk to Professor Burbage,” she paused, “about Michael and stuff. She’s great at listening, it’s just that, I don’t even know.” She sighed and picked a second custard cream from the tin. “Just ignore me. I’m on a whinging binge this evening.”
“As long as you know it,” Angelina smiled at her friend to let her know she was only teasing. Lora offered up a weak smile in return. “Are things alright with Michael?”
“Oh, they’re fine I suppose. We just had a bit of a row in our last few letters.” She picked up a third biscuit and looked at it before placing it back into the tin. “Merlin knows I don’t need another. But he’s a bit bent out of shape that he won’t get to see me until the summer term. And it’s not even like I’m thrilled about it either. I miss him loads. I just want to hear his voice and see his face. But he’s all upset I’m choosing my friends and a ball over spending the holiday with him and our families.”
Angelina nodded as Lora continued.
“It was sort of funny, actually. He got all ridiculous and asked if there was another bloke.” She giggled. “I could picture him with his scrawny chest all puffed up. Bloody hell, I miss that boy.”
A smile seeped out onto Angelina’s face despite the fact that she could see her plans for a girls’ night at the Yule Ball swirling down the plumbing. “You should go home, spend Christmas with him.”
“I promised you and Alicia that we’d all go to the ball together. And Alicia has already ditched you for Eddie, I won’t do that to you. I couldn’t.” Despite her words, her face clearly told Angelina that with a bit of encouragement, she’d be on the first train car back to London.
“Lora,” she plucked one of the remaining biscuits from the tin before Lora had a chance to be cross with herself for eating another, “tell Michael the Muggle Happy Christmas from me, yeah?”
A huge smile broke out across the Blonde’s face and she picked up her stack of books from the table. “I love you, Angelina.” She called over her shoulder as she made her way toward the steps to the girl dormitories. “I’m going to go write Michael again so that he’ll stop sulking.”
Angelina sighed. Turning her attention back to her essay, her thoughts wandered to her amethyst and gold dress that was hanging in her wardrobe upstairs. She was more than happy to go to the ball dateless with her best friends at her side, but going to the ball dateless and alone was another story entirely. She wished for a moment that her original plans had worked out, but quickly chided herself for the selfish feeling that rose up in her chest. It was a good thing that Alicia finally got up the nerve to talk to Eddie, and a great thing that Lora would be able to see Michael the Muggle. Besides, there was still time to make plans for the ball.
Seventeen – now almost sixteen – days.
Conceding to the fact that she was not making any progress on her essay, she stood and began rolling up the parchment. From the corner of her eye she saw the profiles of George and Fred Weasley walk through the portrait hole.
“Angelina, fancy seeing you here in the common room by yourself.” Fred shouted much too loudly across the common room. She watched as he gesticulated no- so subtly to his twin, elbowing him in the ribs. Either not comprehending or not willing to play along, she couldn’t quite tell, George shook his head and made his way up the stairs to the boy dormitories.
She rolled her eyes amiably; there was never any telling what they were up to exactly until they were ready for it to be known. “Aye, Fred. I’m by my bloody self,” she grumbled to herself. “I’m on my way out, though. Did you need something?”
“It’s rather unfortunate and I’d hoped I wouldn’t,” he mumbled something incoherent and shook his head disappointedly at the boys’ stairway where George had disappeared, “but apparently I do.”
She waited for him to continue. When he didn’t, she rounded the arm of the sofa and flopped down onto it. Propping her feet up onto a stool, she tipped her head and studied the twin in front of her. He was up to something – what, only Merlin knew.
Without invitation, Fred slid onto the sofa next to her and genially tossed his arm around her shoulder. “I have a proposition for you.”
“Okay?” A proposition. She fought the urge to roll her eyes in amusement.
“How would like to accompany me to the ball? I was going to take George, you see, but he’s assured me you’ll look much better in a gown than he will.”
Angelina choked back laughter at the thought of George in a ball gown before fully realizing Fred had just asked her to the ball. How would she like to go to the ball with Fred? Given her current predicament, it would certainly be nice to attend the blasted ball with a friend and not have to worry about the nuances of teenaged drama. Yes, Fred’s proposal sounded like the beginnings of a feasible, makeshift plan. “Well, seeing as I’ve been ditched by not only one, but two dates today and my plans have completely fallen through, I’d love to go to the ball with you.”
“Aye, I’d heard about Spinnet and McDonald. Let me ask – can you keep a secret?” he asked slipping his arm back from around her shoulders and rising to his feet.
Scepticism and curiosity tingled under her skin. She raised an eyebrow and waited for him to continue.
“My plans had fallen through today as well,” he said in a low voice, shaking his head. Leaning over, he pulled her up onto her feet. “But we’ll have a brilliant time. You just bring yourself, and I’ll take care of the rest.” With a wink, he turned on his heel and followed trotted up the stairs to the boys’ dormitory.
Shaking her head, Angelina once again picked up her things. If only she’d managed to accomplish as much with her essay as she had for the bloody ball. As she trudged up the stairs to her own dormitory, she couldn’t hide the small smile that slipped over her lips. In just sixteen days, she’d be celebrating Christmas Eve at the Yule Ball in her beautiful gown in the company of a date. And for the first time that day, she let herself feel a rush of anticipation.
Author's Note: I would like to extend my gratitude to those of you who have read, reviewed and favorited this story thus far. To new readers, welcome!! I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please review, even it it's brief. As always, thank you to Annie, Sarah and Jane... Rave on puffins!
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