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Chapter 8 : A ball
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Tessa stared at her handwriting. She had written over 10 pages with theories about the artifact, the spell and the plan she and her friends had come up with. It still hadn't disappeared, but Tessa suspected it was due to the fact that she wrote all of it in her diary. That was the good thing about magic diaries - only the owner could open them. Jason gave one to her four years ago and she hadn't used it since then. It was too beautiful for her to ruin it with her awful scribbling. Tessa closed the diary, gazing at it's lovely dark blue cover, strewed with stars. Well, it was still nice on the outside.
The girl rolled over and got up from her bed. It was almost nine o'clock and soon she and her family had to leave the house, in order to attend the annual ball the Ministry organized for witches and wizards to see the New Year in.
Tessa hated balls. With passion. They were just another excuse for people to dress up, pretend they're something they're not and spread rumors. Vanity fests. A wonderful way to ruin something that could've been pleasant.
Maybe she didn't hate balls. Maybe she just hated people. Well, at least Mona and Sam would be there and they had misanthropist tendencies too.
It was all White's fault she was in such a foul mood. She couldn't sleep, couldn't concentrate, just kept replaying his words in her head like a broken record. She'd never admit that out loud, but she wanted to give in. Of course, her common sense would never allow such foolish thing.
She could practically hear Kristie's nagging and Lexy's remarks how there was something very wrong with her common sense. Oh, well, she'd have the chance to really hear all of this soon enough.
Then there was the whole Hogwarts thing. But no, she couldn't think about that now or she'd get even more irritated with life.
Tessa opened her wardrobe. No dresses. No skirts. The girl sighed. Was her Hogwarts uniform formal enough ? She pulled out her blue jeans, a long black silk shirt with transparent sleeves and threw them on her bed.
After she finished changing she pulled her hair out of her bun and it fell in loose waves over her shoulders. Tessa looked at herself in the mirror. She looked presentable enough.
"How do you do your hair that way ?", Jason asked his sister, when she came in the living room.
"Why, wanna try it too?"
"Haha, Tess, haha."
"Come on, you two, move", their father urged them.
'Let the vanity fest begin', Tessa thought.
"You're in that mood again", Jason stated.
"What mood ?"
"Your I-hate-everyone mood."
That was not true. It wasn't like Tessa made fun of almost every passing stranger she laid her eyes on for the past two hours and a half.
She made Mona, Kristie, Lex, Sam and Matthew laugh ! It was justified ! Or that's what she kept telling herself. But who could really blame her ? That witch with the blue-green gown with feathers wouldn't have dressed like a peacock if she didn't want to be compared to one now, would she ? And let's not mention the guy in the bright cyclamen robes.
They were all so dressed up. Even Tessa's friends. Sam was wearing a deep red, floor length gown, Kristie was with a long purple dress and Lexy was with a green knee length frock, matching her eyes perfectly. Mona, being the only other girl besides Tessa to hate skirts and dresses, was with white leggings and light blue sleeves blouse, which contributed to her image as an Ice queen. How she still hasn't frozen to death was a mystery to the others. Jason was with a white formal shirt and black jeans. White was wearing the shirt Tessa bought him and blue jeans. Well, at least Tessa wasn't the only one.
Some girl showed up and dragged Jason to dance. His sister rose her eyebrows.
"So, it has begun", she said gravely.
A guy came up to Mona.
"Hey, beautiful, do..."
"No", she cut him through.
"I'd rather be a lesbian, that even dance with you."
The guy strode off, depression written all over his face.
"Congratulations, Lavoie, you just brought bitchy to a whole new level", White rose his glass to mock-congratulate her.
"You know, that was actually a very good-looking guy", Kristie interfered.
"I didn't notice", Mona said absentmindedly.
"Well, if you keep not noticing..."
"Enough", Tessa said. She was well aware that Kristie and Mona could hardly stand each other. They were like polar opposites. "Kris, go find a guy to dance with. Shush ! Don't object, just go ! Mo, go take a drink and Sam", Tessa looked around. "Where's Sam ?"
"Sneaked with a tall gorgeous guy. Now, excuse me", Kristie turned and left. Mona did the same, not without sticking her tongue out at Tessa before that.
"Wow, you can be bossy", Matthew remarked.
"Like you didn't know."
"I do, but it never fails to amaze me. You look so innocent and timid, when in fact you're neither." He offered her his arm. "Come, you little hater, let's go for a walk."
Tessa was about to argue that she was in no way a "little hater", but quickly changed her mind. She was in an awful mood. She might as well seem like a hater to other people.
They squished through the crowd and went out on the balcony. Finally somewhere quiet. It was such a beautiful night. London was covered in snow, but there wasn't a single cloud in the sky. Just the stars shining. It reminded Tessa of her diary.
She decided it was a good moment to share some of her theories with White. Luckily, they were alone.
It turned out that most of their theories matched. Like, for example, they both doubted that Longbottom casted the spell willingly. They weren't even completely sure it was him. Also, they were convinced that the artifact was stolen or in danger of being stolen. Which only confirmed everyone's suspicions that it was far from harmless.
They also discussed their plan. According to Tessa it sucked and it was bound to fail. It consisted of them entering the school, gathering some information and breaking out to inform the Ministry that there was trouble in Hogwarts.
Even with all the things they bought form Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, all the books they read, all the new spells they practiced, they were still doomed. They were going to fail miserably and Tessa felt obligated to remind that to her friends every single time they mentioned the plan. In the end, someone threatened to forcefully make her shut up and she gave up on making them see sense.
" You owe me, you know", White said suddenly. "For the library accident in Sixth year."
"How can I forget ?", Tessa rolled her eyes.
"Still mad about it, Davies ? I had to think quick, Forbs was coming."
"And I had already made up a story ! You had to go and ruin it all."
"I saved our asses. And we snogged. This is what I would call a double win situation", he smirked.
"FIVE !", the people in the hall roared.
They both turned to look at the clock. It was almost midnight.
"We kissed.", Tessa objected.
"Snogged. This..." White's lips came crashing down on Tessa's, just as the people in the hall shouted "ONE !!!"
He pulled quickly, his smirk taking almost half of his face.
"... is a kiss. What we did back then involved tongue and hand action."
Tessa couldn't answer him. She was in shock.
"HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OF YOU, WHO ARE TONIGHT IN THE MINISTRY OF MAGIC !"
"Oh, yes !", Tessa said sarcastically, finally gaining her senses. "Here am I, jumping with joy !"
"Don't hold back because of me", White said. "I know you want to do it. Come on, nothing to be ashamed of."
Right now what Tessa wanted to do was either slap him, curse him into oblivion, laugh hysterically and/or bang her head somewhere. So she did the most typical thing for her - tried to run away. Tried being the key word here.
White's hand wrapped around her wrist.
"You're not going anywhere", he said firmly.
"Wanna bet ?", Tessa smiled sweetly.
"How are you going to make me let go of you ? I'm holding both your arm and your wand."
She looked at the arm he was holding. Her left one. So he knew in which sleeve she was hiding her wand. The dumbass. She aimed a blow at his nose, but he caught her on time.
"Thanks for that", he said smugly. "Now that I'm holding both of your hands, there's no way you could walk away from me. By the way, do you use physical aggression as some sort of flirt technique ?"
"Why, is it working ?"
"It's not very ladylike."
"Oh", Tessa pretended to be in deep thought, hoping he'd loosen up his grip, distracted by the conversation. "You really should see me when I'm verbally aggressive. I'm sure you'll like that even more."
She tried wriggling out, but he's grip was still firm.
"Okay, White, let go of me or I'll scream."
"I can easily make you shut up."
She released her full force glare. Needless to say, it didn't even make him flinch.
"If you don't let go of me, I'll kick you. Hard. In your favorite area."
"Now why would you do that to your soon-to-be favorite area ?"
Tessa gaped at him. Was he serious ?
"You're an ass, White."
"That I am. Now, to the point. If I let go of you, do you promise not to run away ?"
"Yes, I promise."
"Liar. Try not glancing at the door the next time, it's a huge giveaway", he was honestly enjoying this. "You got away from me in Sixth year. You're not going anywhere now. You caused me too much trouble already."
Tessa was getting really annoyed with all of this. She caused him trouble ? What about all the confusion and doubt she had to suffer through because of him ?
She didn't even talk to him after they kissed in Sixth year. She was coldly polite. And this year she even acted friendly and they started bonding again. How was that any kind of trouble for him ?
"Fascinating. If I cared, that is", she smiled.
"Let me tell you how I see things."
"How about not ?"
"You're going to demonstrate your verbal abilities now ? It's not going to work, but you keep trying. Practice makes perfect, they say."
Tessa wanted to punch him so hard. She tried pulling away again, in vain.
"So, to make the long story short - we snog, you run away, then you start hating Zander and automatically start hating me. It took me almost half an year to make you trust me again and more than a month to make you realize you've fallen for me."
She froze. How did he know ? For fucks sake, she just figured that out no more than five days ago !
Five days, filled with sulking, denial, a lot of chocolate and replaying the last few months. It had been obvious. She just failed to see it. Or didn't want to see it.
Tessa didn't deal well with being... with having a crush. Last time it happened, it was a catastrophe. And she had seen what love did to people. Not the pretty side of it. It was the reason why she was so guarded right now.
She was undecided. She was scared and in the same time she wanted this. Matthew White was easily one of the fittest blokes in Hogwarts, he was smart as hell and he understood her. She could talk to him, he made her feel at ease. It also wasn't one-sided. He might've acted like an ambitious, arrogant douche, with an ego large enough to form a small planet, but still... However, this came out of nowhere for her.
Tessa needed more time to think, she decided. She could lie to him. She was an amazing liar, he wouldn't be able to see through poker face.
But it was too late, the girl realized. She had kept quiet for too long, he'd sense her lie.
"There's no point in denying, is it ?"
"No, there isn't", a smile was playing on his lips. He knew he was winning.
Damn, why didn't she try to run away faster ?
"I could've waited more before doing this, but then the note came. So I thought - our life is about to get seriously off track, so why make things even more complicated ? You know you want it as much as I do."
"Don't you think you're rushing things a bit ?"
"We've been dancing around each other for months, sweetheart. It's not my fault that you're slow on the uptake."
"Charming. You really convinced me to give you a chance."
For her surprise, he let go of her. She stared at him.
"Go, if you want to. Just do me a favor and think about it."
'Oh, trust me, I'm not going to sleep after this.'
Something clicked in her mind. 'Do me a favor.' He eyed her suspiciously.
"Why the sudden mood change ?", Matthew asked.
"Okay, I'll think about it, I promise", Tessa smiled widely.
Realization hit him.
"So I guess I owe you nothing, right ?"
She didn't wait for him to answer. Instead, she sneaked back in the hall and went in search of her friends. Sam was still dancing with the tall gorgeous guy, Lexy and Kristie were talking to a man Tessa did not know. That left Mona, who was scowling in a corner.
"There you are !", the black haired beauty exclaimed. Looking carefully at Tessa, her eyes narrowed. "I know that look. What happened ?"
White chose that exact moment to pass by them and wink at Tessa. She glared at him. When she made sure he wasn't going to hear her in any way, she turned to Mona. Then started laughing.
The situation was plain awkward. And Tessa's way of dealing with awkward was laughing like a maniac.
"Not again !", Mona moaned.
Tessa collapsed on her bed. She knew she hated balls for a reason.
What a night. Right now, she had a lot of feelings.
Mona and Kristen almost killed each other. Not to mention the fact that their little group almost made a huge scene, when they started arguing about the plan again. Although Tessa sided with Mona and Matthew and completely agreed with them that the plan was useless and they needed something better soon, she knew that bickering will get them nowhere. They needed to put their differences aside and act as a team. Only if she could convince Mona and Kristie to do that, Lexy to see sense, Sam to calm down and White to stop acting superior. Tessa didn't know how, but she always ended up being the peacemaker. Wasn't that the role of the Hufflepuff ? Maybe the Sorting hat made a mistake, when putting her in Slytherin.
She needed to sort her problems one by one. Being far away from Hogwarts, she could do something only about her issue with White. If one could call that an issue. She surely did.
After the girls found out what happened between her and Matthew, they urged her to marry him and have his babies. And to think she accused him of rushing things... Even Mona sided with the others, the traitor. Something about Tessa having a guy being healthy and helping her to open up. She was in perfect health, thank you very much.
'Great', she thought. 'Even my own body is against me.'
There was no use in her trying to sleep. Not with everything around her. Not with White knowing her secret, knowing how she felt.
She got up and went out on her balcony. What was with meaningful moments in her life always happening on balconies ?
Sure enough, Matthew was out of his room, leaning on his parapet.
"Why ?", she asked, not even bothering to be polite.
"Why what ?"
"Why so soon ?"
"I told you. I always get what I want. My time was cut short, so I had to act fast to reach my goal."
"So, I am a goal now."
"You know you're not a goal. Or you want a romantic confession to convince you ?"
"You sure ? I know Romeo's speech by heart and you're on a balcony and all."
Tessa rose her eyes to meet his.
He cocked an eyebrow.
"Not about the speech. About... the other thing."
"You can't even say it, can you ?"
"Don't push me."
He smiled. A genuine smile, not a smirk.
"I'm going to sleep", she said.
"What about my goodnight kiss ?", he called after her.
Tessa looked at him.
"I said, don't push me."
She closed the balcony door.
What has she gotten herself into ?
A relationship and a suicidal mission.
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