Chapter 15 : The Yule Ball
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"Better late than never," I chuckled. "Who are they?"
"Emmy," he said, trying to keep a casual tone. When I raised my eyebrows in confusion at the unfamiliar name he stated, "Err, sorry. Emmeline Donavan, our third Chaser. We call her Emmy."
"You like her?" I chuckled, seeing a small pink color rising on his cheeks.
"She’s fantastic; she’s a bloody brilliant Chaser. She’s only a fifth year, but she’s just…" he paused, looking for the right word.
"I get it. It’s sweet." I smiled back. I prodded our Nogtail with a bit of meat as she continued to sleep in front of us. "She’s boring today."
"Maybe it’s a winter thing, they hibernate or something," Teddy suggested, shrugging.
"So Professor Hagrid can end the lesson early?" I asked in a sarcastically hopeful tone. Teddy only laughed, and began to prod the Nogtail with the blunt end of his wand. She nipped at him, before curling up and going back to sleep. A quick glance around the class told me that it wasn’t just our Nogtail that was sleepy today; each table seemed to have a bored, impatient scowl on each of the students’ faces. It was clear everyone wanted to get out of class as quickly as possible to finish up their classes and start early Ball preparations.
By some sort of higher power, Professor Hagrid only assigned us reading and studying for our N.E.W.T.’s over the holidays. Fred, Al, and I found our way to lunch, quickly followed by a never-ending Charms lesson. Professor Flitwick hadn’t been as kind as Professor Hagrid. Two different essays on Memory Charms were to be completed by our first day back from the holidays.
However, the amount of writing was lost on the four of us as we quickly left the Charms classroom after the lesson was over. The four of us were all overjoyed to begin our winter holiday, starting with tomorrow evening.
And so it arrived, the day of the Yule Ball. Tensions were running high as the Gryffindor girls seemed to be going crazy over hair, nails, dresses, and the whole nine yards. Several times already today screaming and crying third and fourth years had ran down from the girl’s dorms shouting about hair charms and makeup spells failing. I will say, the greatest was watching Noelle chasing one of her fellow fifth years after a botched makeup spell had given her the face of a clown.
"Don’t you two need to go get ready?" Fred asked that afternoon, looking down to his watch.
"All we have to do is change; it’s not going to take three hours." I shrugged, turning back to my conversation with Sophie. Even though the pair of us had decided to rebel against getting ready sixteen hours early like the rest of the Gryffindor girls, it didn’t stop us from spending the entire morning discussing how we planned to wear our hair, our dresses, and good god our shoes.
"I’m bloody sick of listening to the pair of you; you really should go get ready," Fred complained. I turned and stuck my tongue out at him, causing his fake frown to turn quickly into a grin.
"You could leave too you know. Go get those pretty curls ready for me,” I teased, ruffling his much too long dark hair.
"He’s probably right," Sophie eventually sighed, looking down to her watch. Al and I have to be down there early anyway to get ready for the first dance. I sighed reluctantly before hopping off the couch. I sighed impatiently as Sophie said one final goodbye to Al, before we rushed up the stairs together.
Sophie quickly threw up a Shield Charm the second we walked into our dorm. A muggle curling iron had been thrown at the door followed by a scream, narrowly missing the pair of us.
"What the hell is going on here!?" I shouted, rushing for our bathrooms. Inside I found a frantic Dominique and Molly Weasley standing over a crying Rose.
"My hair is awful!" Rose bawled. "I just need to curse the frizz away!" She shouted, reaching for her wand and attempting to aim it towards her own head. Luckily Molly grabbed it quicker than Rose could utter a spell, saving the girl’s ginger locks.
"Rose, hair charms are too complicated. My mum said she couldn’t do them until she was thirty." Dominique sighed as she looked through Rose’s over-flattened hair. “You even said the Muggle curling iron wouldn’t work here.” I gave a quick glance to Sophie, who looked back at me with the same amount of horror.
"Hey Molly," I asked quietly, "Is there anyone in your dorms?"
"No one, Dominique and I are here, and Sam and Mary are getting ready in the Ravenclaw dorms."
"Perfect, thanks," I said, grabbing Sophie’s arm and dragging her back to our trunks. After I quickly grabbed my stuff for the Ball and gestured for Sophie to do the same, we booked it down the flight of stairs and into the sixth year girl’s bathroom.
"You first," I said, before conjuring a stool for her to sit in front of a mirror. She obeyed, and I set to work on her dark locks. Sophie’s hair was normally the prettiest straight black, but tonight she wanted it wavy.
"Your charm work is getting so much better," Sophie commented as she watched my wand go over her hair and form soft waves.
I chuckled and said, "Thanks. I don’t know what Dominique is talking about, hair charms are not that difficult."
"Yes they are, Hannah," Sophie retorted. "You are bloody fantastic at Charms, stop putting yourself down."
"What about the Patronus?" I sighed.
"You’ll get it. You’ve just got to find the right memory," Sophie sighed, looking off into nothing; I had no doubt she used a memory of herself and Al to finally conjure a Patronus in Defense Against the Dark Arts the previous week.
I simply smiled to myself, continuing until Sophie’s hair fell in waves that framed her face. We quickly switched spots once I had finished, and she set out in helping me pin up my blonde curls.
"I think Luna Scamander would be jealous of this hair," Sophie commented lightly as she stuck several pins into the bottom of my hair.
"Luna Scamander, she’s a good friend of my dad’s; you know those Ravenclaw twins? Their mum. Her hair looks a lot like yours, just a bit longer," Sophie explained. It didn’t take long for us to get my hair to stay up in a curly up-do. I decided to leave part of it draped over my shoulder, realizing my mum and I had decided on a strapless dress months ago in Diagon Alley. After placing a one final pin, I put a charm over my hair to keep it out of my face before meeting Sophie back in the sixth year girl’s bedroom.
My jaw dropped when Sophie turned around. The eloquent purple dress shimmered as the small silvery beads hit the light, dancing spots on the wall as she spun around. Falling just at her knees, the dress screamed Sophie Longbottom is a hot Herbology nerd. She couldn’t stop laughing for ten minutes when I told her that.
"And you should talk. Fred’s going to faint when he sees you," Sophie grinned as I modeled my dress for her. A simple form-fitting blue that fell just above my knees, I was thrilled at how much better it looked now than the start of the year when I had been in Rome for three months previous.
"You think so?" I smiled, turning back to the mirror.
"Sometimes I think that boy forgets you’re a pretty girl. Hell if he does tonight," Sophie stated as she stepped up next to me in the mirror.
I made eye contact with her in the mirror, and gave her a serious glance. "There’s a charm, Sophie. If you and Albus decide…"
"Oh please stop talking right now," Sophie interrupted, quickly burying her quickly reddening face in her hands. I gave out a whole hearted laugh as she sat down on the bed chuckling sadly to herself. "I can’t believe you just said that."
"We just don’t need any little Potters running around quite yet." I shrugged and laughed at where she still had her face buried in her hand. "Come on, I’m sure the boys are waiting."
After giving her a second to calm her nerves and let her face go back to a normal color, we left the dorms. We quickly dropped our other clothes off in our room, and linked arms to head down the stairs towards our dates. As I expected Sophie’s nerves caught up with her as she had descended the stairs, and she stopped abruptly on one of the last steps.
Before she could utter a single word I turned to her and held up a finger. "No. No nerves, no shyness. Al is your bleeding boyfriend; go."
After taking a deep breath she nodded, and took the final steps down towards the boys. I smiled as I watched Al’s grin almost pop off of his face as he rushed over. I unlinked arms with her just as he pulled her into one of those way too adorable pick-up-and-spin-kisses. I turned away to give them some privacy, and that’s when my eyes finally found Fred’s. I grinned as I saw a small smirk playing on his features, before taking a few steps over to him.
"What do you think?" I asked as I did a quick spin-around to show him the dress.
"You look alright." He said passively, trying to hide the playful smile lighting up his eyes.
"You don’t look all too awful yourself." I chuckled and reached up to straighten his tie. The dress robes, I will fully admit, look pretty damn good on him. He didn’t do a thing with his hair, a—which I secretly loved— and I had to readjust his buttons along with the tie, but I had to admit the dress robe look was a good one on Fred Weasley.
"Ready?" he asked as he offered his arm out to me. I nodded, linking arms with him before turning to Al and Sophie. Just as we were about to exit the portrait hole, Rose, Dominique and Molly had all finally made their way down to the common room. Dominique and Molly’s efforts had paid off; the three of them looked absolutely beautiful in their lavish dress robes. Thankfully they were tear free and no longer screaming at eachother.
"Malfoy, what are you doing here?" Al asked as we all saw Scorpius, along with Teddy and Emmy waiting outside the Gryffindor common room. Teddy had his arms wrapped around Emmy’s waist and was looking down smiling to her.
"Waiting for my girlfriend," he scoffed, as if the answer should have been obvious to all parties. I didn’t miss the saddened expression that fell on his face after he looked passed Al to Fred and I. I gave him an apologetic smile as we started down the stairs for the Great Hall, feeling bad at the jealous scowl he was now giving me.
I quickly tried to shove away the pity I felt for going to the ball with a date, seeing how Scorpius was doing the same. If he was going to be with Rose while we had... whatever we had going on… I could only hope he would accept one night where I wasn’t fawning over him.
As we arrived in the front of the Great Hall, Fred and I made our way to find seats as Al and Sophie left for the champion’s room. They would be entering formally announced as the Ball started, before partaking in their big waltz.
"Where do you want to sit?" Fred asked as we dropped arms and looked around. The Great Hall had been transformed into a starlight night, complete with a full ceiling of constellations and shooting stars dancing across the walls. The four large tables had been transformed into smaller circular ones for groups of friends and house mingling, as well as leaving room for a dance floor. I simply shrugged to his question, so he found us a table set for four to save space for Al and Sophie.
"Now what?" I asked, glancing up to the clock. The Ball would officially start in a few minutes.
"What are your plans for the holiday?" Fred asked with a small chuckle, clearly trying to distract me for the moments until the Ball started.
"Well Tuesday is Christmas Eve; so after the train ride usually my parents and I spend that decorating our tree. Christmas is Christmas, family time all day," I explained. "What about you guys?"
"Christmas is another word for psychotic madhouse at The Burrow," Fred sighed. "Grandma won’t expand the house any further with magic, so it’s thirty some people running about the old house all trying to steal the three best seats on the couch, and get the last bit of Auntie Audrey’s treacle fudge. Then this year we have Victorie’s wedding a few days after Christmas, making it even more of a madhouse."
I smiled at the thought of the Weasleys all crammed into the small living room of the Burrow. I had been there a few times over the summers, but never when the whole family was around at once. I quickly lost the thought as the clock struck eight, and Professor McGonagall’s voice began to announce the champions and their dates.
"Welcome Students, to the Yule Ball. As tradition states, each of our champions will begin with an introductory dance. For Hufflepuff House Mr. Joey Smith, accompanied by Mr. Mark Cooper." She paused to let the Hufflepuff students cheer as Joey and Mark entered the Great Hall. "For Ravenclaw, our champion Miss Lydia Sharp is accompanied by Mr. Will Emerson," She stopped as the Ravenclaw students’ cheers had begun to drown out her amplified voice. Fred and I clapped for Will. "For Slytherin house Mr. Theodore Whitley, accompanied by Miss Emmeline Donavan," Again, a pause as the cheers of the Slytherin students filled the Great Hall. I took the moment to find Scorpius and Rose. She really did look pretty; the golden material her dress was made up of went beautifully with her red hair, giving her a very ‘Gryffindor pride’ feel next to Scorpius’ deep emerald dress robes. He was clapping happily for his friend, arm wrapped tightly around Rose’s shoulder. As Professor McGonagall finally announced, "Lastly for Gryffindor house Mr. Albus Potter, accompanied by Miss Sophie Longbottom," Scorpius finally caught eye contact with me. It only lasted half a second as I looked away to Al and Sophie. Fred and I instantly stood to cheer for Al, who was waving happily to his fellow students. Sophie had her elbow interlocked with his, and with a slight pink color rising up her cheeks, they truly were the cutest couple in all of Scotland.
The music instantly started as the couples turned to face eachother. The four pairs started the steps, each looking just as amazing as the next. By now Al and Sophie had gotten the steps down so well that the pair looked flawless together. Eventually Professor McGonagall joined in, accompanied by a very apprehensive looking Professor Longbottom; he was keeping an eye on his daughter as he let Professor McGonagall lead. Scorpius and Rose eventually found their way out as well; being Head Boy and Girl the pair had a special spot in the beginning dance. I tore my attention away from them as I felt that usual pang of jealousy; taking a deep breath, I refused to let it affect me tonight. I turned back to watch as Professor Longbottom eventually let go of Professor McGonagall’s hand, and made his way over to Sophie and Al. After what looked to be a very awkward confrontation for all parties involved, Al dropped his hand off Sophie’s waist and let Professor Longbottom dance with his daughter.
A small movement from Fred took my eyes away from all the couples, and I turned to see him standing in front of me. He held out a hand and smiled as he looked towards the dance floor, inviting me to join him. I let out a small chuckle as I nodded in acceptance and intertwined my fingers with his. I tried to shake the butterflies that started to tickle their way through my stomach as he led me out to the dance floor. I grinned as we walked past Roxanne’s table; she was sitting too close to be friends with Tobian from our Quidditch team. I felt Fred grip my hand slightly tighter when he noticed the pair of them, but I quickly intervened.
"She’s a year older than him; she can take care of herself. Do I have to give you the same lecture I give Al?” He frowned at me. “I didn’t think so. You’re mine tonight," I said pointedly as I took the lead out to the floor. I waited for him to shrug his shoulders in understanding that he had no choice but to follow. I didn’t fail to notice a small smirk when he realized what I had said as I squeezed onto his hand tighter and dragged him the rest of the way.
"Err… now what?" he asked as I stopped in front of him.
"Go like this," I said, taking his hand and placing it on my waist. I placed my hand gently on his shoulder, and added "Now hold my other hand." He listened, and we began to quickly imitate the steps I had learned with Al.
We were only able to show off our waltzing for a few moments before the song changed into a more upbeat number.
"Did you get the potion?" I asked as he dropped his hand off my waist. Letting go of my hand he nodded, and reached into his pocket. Withdrawing a small vile of pink liquid, he grinned madly.
"Thirsty?" He smirked as he waved the vile between his fingers.
"I’d fancy some punch, let’s go get a drink!" I announced over-casually as I grabbed his hand again and dragged him towards the punch bowl. It seemed that the school had our prank plan somewhat figured out, as they had old Filch standing watch over the drink station. I gave Fred a quick unsure glance, but he quickly waved it off and kept walking forward. I shrugged and followed, taking my place in the sort line next to him and behind who I recognized instantly as his cousin Hugo.
Fred’s plans became instantly clear as Hugo started to step up to the punch bowl. I covered my mouth in awe as Fred managed to place a silent Jelly-Legs Jinx on Hugo, sending him falling onto the floor in front of the table. The elderly caretaker rushed forward to figure out what the hell Hugo’s problem was, giving Fred just enough to dump the small vile into the large glass punch bowl. Just as he tucked the empty vile back into his robes, Filch stood up complaining about ‘kids these days’.
"Bloody brilliant," I grinned as Fred and I booked it away from the drink station. Just as we were about to take our seats and watch our magic unfold, the music changed again. This time a more modern slow number started to fill the Great Hall.
Instead of sitting down, Fred took my hand again. With a small smile he motioned for the dance floor and asked, "Lets?"
I smiled and nodded, following him back out to the floor. I let my hands find their place around his neck as he rested his in the small of my back, before he started to move us in slow circles.
The realization that I’d never slow danced with anyone but Al in his lessons smacked me in the forehead as I stared blankly at Fred. What do people do when they dance!? Are you supposed to talk, or just sit and smell eachother? Do you spin in circles or just sway back and forth? I will admit, the aftershave that Fred was wearing was slightly intoxicating, filling my nostrils as I felt him lead me in the right direction. I really was lost.
I tried to sneak a glance around the floor to figure out what some of the other couples were doing. My eyes first landed on Sophie and Al. The pair had their foreheads pressed together, no doubt whispering those sickly sweet nothings to eachother. Well, I don’t think Fred and I had that good of a friendship. Glancing around further my eyes landed on Scorpius and Rose. Let’s just say, seeing them snog in the middle of the dance floor wasn’t what I had in mind for inspiration while dancing with Fred. I found Joey and Mark, who were purposely stepping on each other’s feet just to make the other one laugh. I saw other couples talking and laughing together, and yet more just silently enjoying the close moment with their significant other.
Eventually I conceded into resting my head on his chest and letting him pull me close to lead me around the floor. It was nice dancing with Fred; that feeling of overwhelming safety filled my heart as we swayed to the mellow beat of the saxophone playing through the speakers.
"This is nice," I whispered. As I realized something I smiled and told him, and myself, the truth. "There’s no one I’d rather be here with than you."
"Me too Hannah," he whispered back; I could hear the small smile in his voice as he rested his chin on the top of my head.
The rest of the evening was a blast. Slowly but surely, we watched as bunches of students walked up to the punch bowl and fell under our prank. Unfortunately Professor Josephine caught on fairly quickly knowing what to look for in a Love Potion, thus ruining our entertainment. The good news was none of the teachers A, knew who did it, or B, didn’t care enough to figure it out. After several of the students affected by the potion were taken to the Hospital Wing for antidotes, the evening began to close fairly quickly.
As the last slow song of the night started, I wrapped my arms around Fred's neck, and he did the same around my waist. As we swayed more naturally than our first attempt, I looked over to Al and Sophie. I smiled as I watched her rest her head softly onto Al's chest and Al pull her closer, placing a kiss on the top of her head. I tugged on Fred's hair a little to get his attention, and nodded over to where the two were dancing. He smiled, and lifted my hand up so I could spin around. It was still my favorite part.
"Do you want to take a walk?" he offered as the song ended, holding out his elbow. I laughed, accepted it, and we walked out of the Great Hall towards the school grounds. As we walked around the courtyard in silence I started to think about the Patronuses and what Sophie, and now Professor Lupin, had said about memories.
"What's up Hannah?" Fred asked suddenly.
"It's silly. The Patronus thing, still. I don't know how I can't get it," I muttered, kicking at the snow.
"Try thinking about something different, maybe your memory isn't strong enough," Fred offered.
"What do you think about?" I asked, looking for the direction I should be thinking of.
"Honestly? I think about flying with you," he said. "Go on, try it."
I nodded and pulled my wand out. For the first time that night, I pushed away any thought of Scorpius, and remembered that moment, sneaking into the kitchens last weekend with Fred. It was more of an awkward memory than a happy one, but I had a feeling.
"Expecto Patronum," I said loudly, and just about dropped my wand in amazement when a small figure burst out of my wand and begun to walk in front of me.
"A penguin?" I muttered through shivering teeth as I watched the silvery figure waddle along the snow covered ground. I looked over to Fred, who was laughing. "Why are you laughing? How'd I get a penguin?"
He walked over to me and gave me the jacket from his dress robes. I thanked him, and wrapped the warm fabric snugly around myself. I watched as the penguin jumped into the air, and started to swim around us. "Hannah, that penguin fits you so perfectly," I raised an eyebrow at him, and motioned for him to continue. "It's rather funny, and it’s kind of clumsy."
"Hey!" I shouted playfully, pulling the jacket tighter around myself. My Patronus faded away into wisps of silvery light as I lost my focus when he took a step closer.
"But it's still so beautiful," he added, giving me a warm smile.
"Fred..?" I asked, giving him a small smile back. We leaned up against the wall, watching the snow fall. "That was really sweet."
"Hannah, you look so beautiful tonight," he said as he suddenly moved in front of me. Slowly he reached his hand up and brushed a curl away from my eyes. My hair charm had to be fading if I had curls falling out. I smiled as I started to feel my hands shake; I couldn’t tell if it was the cold, or how close he was. I studied the dark freckles on his nose as he let his hand rest on my cheek for a second, before pulling me into a gaze. I looked into his eyes, for the first time in my life I really looked; and got lost. Without a second for another thought, he kissed me.
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