Dates and Un-Dates
Image by Sixx. @ TDA
Late Saturday morning after breakfast, the level of activity was high in the fifth year Gryffindor girls' dorm. It probably was in most other girls' dorms, as well.
Myra, Hestia and Anna kept Ashley company while she was going through her trunk, looking at various outfits, trying on some of them, discarding others, and making new combinations with the small amount of casual clothes she had taken with her to school.
"Why do you bother with trying to find the best possible outfit?" Hestia asked from her bed, where she had been sitting and staring into space for a long while. "He's only seen you in your uniform, and he still asked you out. Why not go in what he already likes you in?"
"Oh, Hestia." Anna shook her head sadly.
"What?" Hestia snapped. She was unusually bitter.
"I want him to really, really
like me, Hestia," Ashley answered to avoid a quarrel between the two other girls.
"I liked the red pants and the black knitted sweater, Ashley," Myra said. "It shows off your Gryffindor colours and his Hufflepuff colours."
"She's going to have a thick winter robe over it, he won't even see it," Hestia continued.
"They might go into Madam Puddifoot's; she's going to have to take off her robes then. It's always sweltering in there."
"Oh Merlin, I hope Ambrose doesn't take me in there." Hestia fell over in her bed and buried her head in the comforter.
"Don't worry, Hestia," Myra comforted. "It probably won't be as bad as you imagine."
"I'm blaming you if today turns out to be a fiasco."
Eventually Ashley found the perfect outfit; the red pants but with a soft yellow knitted sweater, combined with her black winter boots and winter robes. She represented the possible fusion of Gryffindor and Hufflepuff well. Subliminal messages couldn't hurt.
Hestia didn't take her outfit as seriously and went for her regular worn jeans and Gryffindor coloured sweater. Exactly the same as she would have worn on a girls' day out in Hogsmeade.
Down in the common room Ambrose was waiting when the girls came down. He looked at Hestia in wonder, it probably wouldn't have mattered what she wore; rags or dressing gown. He stepped forward and offered her his arm. She may not be excited about this, but she was brought up as a pure-blood, so her pure-blood manners kicked in, and she smiled and linked her arm with his, waved goodbye to her friends and walked out of the portrait hole.
The common room was full of activity, first and second years who weren't allowed to go were set up to take over when the older students were gone. And all the older students were pairing and grouping up, ready to go. But Myra, Ashley and Anna stood quietly in the midst of it all, thinking about Hestia and Ambrose.
"I don't really have high hopes for that date," Myra muttered.
"Me neither," the two others said in unison.
They stood there for a few seconds with gloomy looks on their faces, staring at the portrait hole.
Suddenly Ashley cracked a smile. "Let's just go, I've got a man waiting for me."
And true to her word, when they entered the Entrance Hall, Lowell Llewellyn stood at the top of the stairs coming from the Hufflepuff dungeons. He looked awfully smart in his freshly laundered winter robes and neatly combed hair.
Ashley blushed as he approached her. "Shall we go?" he asked.
She nodded, and they too linked arms, waved goodbye and left.
"Just us two left," Anna said.
"Shall we go?" Myra imitated Lowell, holding out her arm.
Anna giggled in an exaggerated manner and took Myra's arm. "Oh, let's!"
The two girls followed the stream of students being signed out and then moving down towards Hogsmeade, a comfortable silence between them.
The streets of the town were almost bare of snow, but the frost still lay thick on the woodwork and the trees. And in spite of the biting cold the streets were littered with couples in Hogwarts robes. There were a good amount of shoppers as well, both students and others, but the Hogwarts couples dominated with their sheer presence. It was a somewhat depressing sight, and that feeling took Myra slightly by surprise.
She thought she felt that way because she herself was single. She'd had several crushes, but hadn't had a boyfriend since the end of fourth year.
Having one wasn't the most important thing for her right now, if it happened, it happened. But she sometimes missed the feelings and the excitement that came with it, being in love, not to mention the added comfort that came with having the one you liked liking you back.
Myra sighed sadly on Anna's side.
"Is something wrong?" Anna asked.
"I think I miss being in a relationship. At least I miss being in love. It's a nice feeling, even when it's not reciprocated."
"I get what you're saying. I miss it too. There's really not that many to choose from at Hogwarts. Once you've been through two or three, there are really no other good matches," Anna complained.
"I know. I've only been with Edmund Davenport, and I can't say I've had any crushes after him."
"Why did you break up with him anyway?" Anna asked.
"I can't remember; it's been so long. Can't have been a big deal, or I'm sure I would have remembered. Hestia probably does."
They laughed, and continued on their way, window shopping.
"Hey," Anna suddenly said. She had stopped and looked at something down the street. Myra followed Anna's eyes. Outside Zonko's stood the four Marauders, clearly having just gotten out of there, since they all had their arms full of brightly coloured bags.
"Oh, curses," Myra muttered, imagining the plans they had for whatever they'd bought.
"I know you don't like hearing this, but if you see anything of what we have mentioned to you, please just consider it. Okay?"
Myra turned quickly around from the scene in front of them, startling a group of boys walking past them. Anna looked a bit scared, probably thinking Myra was angry again.
"Okay, I'll consider it. If
I see something."
"Good. Now let's end this depressing loveless conversation of ours, and have a look in Gladrag's."
Inside Madam Puddifoot's Tea Shop it was indeed sweltering like Myra had said. Some sweet flowery mix of incense was burning, there were pink frilly tablecloths on all the small round tables, the ceiling was snowing red, pink and white confetti, and the tea cups were pink and decorated with dark red pounding hearts, all for this special occasion.
Of course Ambrose had to take Hestia inside there. She didn't have the heart to decline when he asked with hope shining out of his eyes.
Now they were sitting at one of these tables, drinking tea flavoured with black tea and strawberries. In a weak moment Hestia had laid her left hand on the table next to the tea cup in order of draw some heat from the cup, and Ambrose had taken the opportunity to lay his own hand on top.
Well, at least she wasn't cold anymore.
Merlin's beard he was boring. He started talking about Quidditch, since he knew she was a Beater, but because of his lack of knowledge about the subject, he quickly ran out of things to say and she grew tired of correcting him. Instead he had taken to talking about school and himself, both things he knew more than enough about.
"I've always been interested in Transfiguration, ever since I was a child, so it's not really a surprise that I take so well to that subject. It's really interesting to see how you can turn one thing into something completely different just by knowing the inner mechanics of both objects, or creatures."
Hestia nodded, expertly stifling a yawn. She looked over to the table in the corner where Ashley and Lowell sat. She'd tried to catch their attention several times, hoping they could help her, but they were completely lost in each other, holding hands and kissing.
Ambrose just went on and on, keeping a firm hold on Hestia's hand, looking into her eyes.
They'd been sitting there for an hour and a half when the door opened with a tinkling tune and instead of another lovesick couple entering, it was a single Henry.
Hestia had never been so happy to see him. She tried hard to discreetly catch his attention.
Henry walked up to the counter, chatting up the maid a bit. She served him a cup of tea, and as he was drinking he finally looked around the room. He met Hestia's eyes, and she poured all her boredom and desperation and pleas for help out of them. When Henry smiled amusedly, she knew she had succeeded.
He nodded that he understood, and mouthed: "I'll help."
For another ten minutes he let her sit there and sweat, but then he suddenly sat down his tea and strode over. "There you are, Hestia!" he said loudly, slamming both hands down on the table, towering over them both, catching the attention of the entire tea shop. "I've been looking all over town for you for hours, and then I find you sitting here with that posh little bugger!" He sneered with the last words.
Hestia stared in surprise at him, and it was quiet for several long awkward seconds before she collected herself and played along.
"I'm sorry," she mumbled, it almost sounded like a question.
"I thought we were supposed to go together today. What happened?"
"Uh, I had a moment of weakness. I'm terribly sorry."
"I am too, Hestia. It's like our trysts in the changing rooms never meant anything to you. It hurts." His voice broke, he was a good actor.
Hestia put on a sad face, looked at Ambrose, and then Henry again. "Is it too late for us?" She gave a small pout.
Henry gazed at her, considering his answer. "No," he whispered. "The day is still young, and every moment with you counts."
"I'm sorry, Ambrose," Hestia said to her date. "But Henry is the one I really want to be with. We have Quidditch together, so we really understand each other. Will you be okay?"
Ambrose looked like he had been Stunned. He couldn't do anything other than nod, with eyes the size of dinner plates.
"Thank you," Hestia breathed and jumped out of her seat and into Henry's arms. With his arm around her shoulders and hers around his waist, they walked out, leaving Ambrose and a mystified tea shop behind.
Once they were a safe distance up the street, they let go of each other. Hestia leaned against a shop wall, breathing out in relief. "Thank you, Henry. You saved my mental health in there. I will be forever grateful."
"No problem." He smiled smugly. "I had to jump at the only chance I'll ever get at going out with you. Even if it was for only two minutes."
Hestia glared at him, but her lips drew into a smile. "I'll give you permission to say that you broke up with me, if anyone asks."
"Were you heartbroken?"
"A bit, but not terribly so. I have to keep some
dignity after you made it sound like I was a Quidditch slut."
"Yes, sorry about that." He actually had the dignity to look a bit ashamed. "I just thought it was too much out of the blue for me to just come there and claim you. Ambrose is too close for that to have worked out well. So I decided we had a secret steamy Beater on Beater relationship."
Hestia suddenly burst out laughing. People walking by were looking strangely at her.
"What's so funny?"
She couldn't stop laughing to explain. She tried, holding her hand over her mouth, biting hard on her knuckles. But she laughed so intensely she got a stitch in her side and tears ran down her face. Several minutes later she finally managed to draw calming breaths. "Nothing's really funny," she answered and hiccupped. "I've just been dreading this day since... Well, since yesterday, and it was so fantastically awful. I needed to let a reaction out."
"I'm glad I could be of help." Henry bowed theatrically. "What are you going to do now?"
"Find Myra and Anna. You wouldn't happen to know where they are?"
"I actually saw them in Scrivenshaft's right before I came into Puddifoot's. Maybe they're still there?"
The two walked back onto the street where Madam Puddifoot's Tea Shop was and looked into the windows of Scrivenshaft's, not seeing the girls there.
"I'll walk with you until you find them," Henry offered. "In case we run into Ambrose."
"What on earth are we going to get for Ashley?" Myra put the Remembrall back on the shelf. She and Anna were in Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment, and since Ashley's sixteenth birthday was coming up in a couple of weeks they were looking for presents for her.
"I have no idea," Anna said. "I don't think she's really interested in anything these days, apart from her dear wizard."
Myra laughed a little. "Maybe we should wrap up Lowell in nothing but paper and ribbon?"
"You know what? I think I'm just going to get her some new ink wells, in various fun colours," Myra said. "She was happy with that for Christmas in third year, she better be happy with that now."
"Let's go to Scrivenshaft's again then," Anna suggested. "I think I saw a brand new ink collection in there earlier." The girls went out into the cold again. Halfway down the street they ran into Hestia and Henry.
"What are you doing here?" Myra asked.
"Henry saved me from Ambrose," Hestia said.
"Why did you need saving?" Anna asked.
Hestia explained about the bad date and Henry told them about the performance they had put on in Madam Puddifoot's Tea Shop.
"I blame you, Myra," Hestia said. "You said I was free to blame you if the date didn't go as well as you thought it would, so now I'm blaming you."
"I'm fine with that." Myra smiled. "At least you went out with him, that's what's important. Even though it was boring, it wasn't as bad as you expected it to be?"
"Well, I didn't die, so I guess not," Hestia admitted. "But I do not want to do it again."
"I'll take my leave now then," Henry said. "I've rescued the fair maiden from danger and led her to safety." His tone may have been cheerful, but Myra could see he didn't really want to leave.
"You don't have to go," she said. "Do you?" The last part she directed to the two other girls.
"I guess not," Hestia said. "Even though he's a pain."
"The fair maiden has a biting tongue," Henry joked.
"He can stay," Anna said lightly. She wasn't as threatened by him, having had a short fling with him before. But Hestia had never been entirely comfortable with his flirting nature. Though she seemed to like him well enough when they were thrown together by random circumstances, like now.
Together the three witches and one wizard went to Scrivenshaft's to buy birthday presents for Ashley. After that they went in to Honeydukes to stock up on sweets, and then decided they were done for the day and stopped by The Three Broomsticks for a Butterbeer and a snack, before heading back to the school.
When everyone had come back from Hogsmeade, it became clear that while Hestia and Ambrose's date hadn't gone the right way, Ashley and Lowell's had. Ashley had only stopped by the common room to drop off the few purchases she'd had time to make in-between all the kissing and handholding, and then she had gone off to be with her love in some remote part of the castle.
The following week Ashley was also very much absent from the group outside of classes, even in classes. At least the ones the fifth year Gryffindors shared with the fifth year Hufflepuffs, where she now sat with Lowell instead of Anna, as the usual routine had been. Where they were and what they were doing when not in classes, was not something her friends liked to ponder on too much. But Myra couldn't help but worry about what she would, and should, do if she came across them on the upcoming prefect patrol the following Friday.
What she should have been thinking about instead was how it would be awkward on her part when she, in the middle of the dungeons, remembered what the girls had said about Remus possibly fancying her. So during the entire first half of the patrol, she was sure she saw flirting in everything he did.
But then she pulled herself together and forced herself to stay calm. Instead she did what she did best when she wanted something confirmed or disconfirmed, letting curiosity take over.
"How was your Hogsmeade day, Remus?" she asked on the second floor, near the Defence Against the Dark Arts office. "Did you have a date?"
"I didn't have a date," he answered. Myra tried to look closely at him and at the same time keeping an eye out for rule breakers. "But I had fun with James, Sirius and Peter."
For her next statement she shut out all outward impulses except Remus' reaction. "I didn't have a date either. It would have been nice to have one, but I had fun with my friends too."
His face didn't give anything away, if there was something to give away.
"I heard your friends Henry and Hestia made a scene at Madam Puddifoot's," he said, a bit amused.
From the way he reacted, or didn't react, Myra concluded that he was not interested in her in the way the others claimed. "Yeah, turned out Hestia's date with Ambrose was just as bad as she expected. Henry rescued her by claiming she'd promised to go out with him first. Apparently they'd had a secret steamy relationship in the Quidditch changing rooms." Myra leaned in towards Remus and whispered conspiratorially. "But don't tell anyone that it was an act, for poor Ambrose's sake."
Remus whispered back, their faces now very close. "I won't, I promise." His voice was low and playful. Myra felt her heart skip a beat; she must have overexerted herself by walking too long too fast.
Thankfully they hadn't come across Ashley or Lowell, but when they met up with Lily on the way back to the common room, Lily reported that she and Mallard had caught the lovebirds in their part of the castle.
The two had apparently been making out quite enthusiastically in a broom cupboard, it was audible from far away. Mallard had taken ten points off of each of them for such lewd behaviour.
"I would have taken points off of them too, but I have to say I had fun seeing Mallard go off like that," Lily had admitted. "You'd think he had a crush on Ashley or something."
Of course Mallard didn't have a crush on Ashley, nothing had ever hinted at that, and even if he had, it wouldn't matter, because Ashley was too busy with Lowell. So much, that her friends weren't sure they'd get to celebrate her birthday with her, two weeks after Valentine's Day. Before they left Gryffindor Tower that morning, the girls had demanded that Ashley spend some time with them, at least so she could get her presents. And when Lowell was told the same thing at breakfast, being the kind Hufflepuff he was, he let Ashley spend the entire day with her friends, and promised he would celebrate with her the next day. "After all, they've been in your life longer than I have," he had said.
I've now officially started chapter 20 of this story, and I'm about halfway of this first part/book. I've also started the planning and plotting of my first ever original story that I one day hope to make a living from :)
Please review if you have any thoughts on the chapter!
Coming: Chapter 10 – Invisible
"But..." Myra scrunched up her face, thinking back to the view she'd had from the bridge. "I didn't look away for one second, so if they walked there," she pointed to the footprints, "I would have seen them."