Chapter 3 : Chapter Three, Hallowe'en.
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Chapter Three, Hallowe'en.
Over the next week, my fuming anger shrank and smoldered, changing into a raw, sore hurt feeling always at the back of my thoughts. It is Thursday and as the Hallowe'en ball this weekend draws nearer the castle becomes rowdier. I spend the ten minutes between classes attempting to avoid over eager boys, while trying to be on time. My hurt has caused my dissolution charms to be weak and ineffective. That in combination with my Veela hormones acting up, has made it a hazardous week.
Bobby O'Reilly asked me out boldly in front of the great hall at breakfast yesterday, and his school bag exploded. Wendell Dove from Slytherin grabbed my ass in Care of Magical Creatures and the tray holding the bowtrucles for the whole class started sparking and smoking, causing the unfortunate bowtrucles to leap off and run for cover. Rumors about my literally fiery temper started permeating the school, and the stupid boys were not discouraged. Apparently the risk was worth it because eleven more have idiots asked since.
I owled to Maman to ask her what to do, and spent several hours in Dom's dorm room in Griffindor tower hiding. Dom thought the whole thing was quite funny, mostly because she is more even tempered than I and has fewer incendiary encounters. She stayed amused until I broke down and told her I was upset. She offered to poke Teddy in the eye, or hex him in some place unmentionable to knock some sense into him, but I said no. It was nice having a little sister to protect me.
I have had to talk my self out of dueling boys the muggle way all week. People have been hounding Vic really badly and I know she is already upset. Every time guys come within three meters of her I feel like knocking the stuffing clean out of them. My hair, which changes uncontrollably with strong emotions, has been alternating between black, smoky grey, and red all week, and my friends are wary of my temper. I've caught Vic's eye once or twice but she either glares at me, or looks away. I feel so dissatisfied with myself. If I could just half lie to Vic, tell her that I was thinking of a girl or something, maybe she would talk to me again. But even practicing in the mirror makes my hair turn white. What am I going to do?
Hallowe'en arrives. Headmistress McGonagal booked the 'Hairy Hippogriffs' to play at a ball of sorts for the older grades after the meal. Girls have been giggling about mysterious things for weeks. Me and my friend Will walk down to the great hall again after changing into our dress robes. Mine are a bit short for me, and my trainers are showing. Will is meeting his date, a Huffelpuff girl, at the base of the marble staircase. I haven't got one, though certainly not for a lack of options.
Just as the doors swing open, revealing the great hall's Jack'o Lantern themed decorations, I spot Vic. I stop moving. My jaw drops and I stand there dazed for at least five seconds. Mine is not a unique reaction, boys all around have paused mid act, and the whole lot of us look as if we've been confounded. Vic is dressed in a long simple silver dress with thin glittering straps. Her hair falls well past her waist, and the pale skin of her elegant neck exposed. I didn't think that she would come, in light of her unwillingness to have a date, but I should have known Vic wouldn't pass up a chance to dance.
When she was five and I was six, Grandma Weasley had a family party. As is usual at such affairs all the kids got bunched together in a massive roving group. The Weird Sisters were having a reunion tour, and it was playing live on the Wizarding Wireless Network. Vic stood up on her own, abandoning the gobstones game we were playing and started to dance. She was so small and pretty, swirling in a pink skirt.
Grown up Vic is supremely beautiful while she dances. The Hairy Hippogriffs are playing a fast song, couples are gyrating there hips in sync, circles of girls are grooving together, and a line of dateless boys stand along the side of the hall. Vic dances alone, swaying rhythmically to the upbeat tune. The fabric of her dress flows like quick silver over her small curves. She looks like a human Patronus tonight. To my disappointment the song ends.
For a moment the music freed me from my worries. It took me to this beautiful perfect place, but then the song concluded. I glide off the dance floor, heading for the drinks table for a Gilliwater. I have not made eye contact with Teddy yet tonight, but I can feel his eyes on me. They leave this hot prickly trail behind them, and are extremely difficult to ignore. I miss him sorely. My homework hours in the library are a lot less fun, and a lot more lonesome.
As I sip my drink in a quiet corner Manfred Bletchly struts up. He hasn't had the nerve to speak to me since he groped me on the train, but apparently tonight he lost his good sense. I turn away and he grabs my arm, hard. "Don't avoid me, pretty Vicky." he say cloyingly. I snap back "You are hurting my arm. Let go." Instead of releasing my arm the idiot decides he would rather touch me some more. His other sweaty hand, the one not clamped on my forearm, runs slowly up the side of my hip. I wrench myself away from him but his grip is too firm. "Pretty Vicky. You don't have to play hard to get anymore, I know you want this." I feel like vomiting. There has never been a better time for my Veela fire trick to come into play, but fear is clouding my instincts. I left my wand in my purse, which sits on a chair across the hall, and Manfred is a good hundred pounds heavier than I.
Suddenly he releases me. He is clawing at his chest as tiny blue tentacle like appendages start forming there. He is clearly in extreme discomfort, and his emitting a strange keening sound, like a cat that has been stepped on. I slump against the wall in relief, while glancing around for my rescuer. Of course, Teddy.
He strides towards me, pushes Manfred wiggling form out of the way with a foot, then takes me up in his arms. I forgive Teddy in that second. It doesn't matter that much that he lied. He probably had a good reason. I just want to stay close to him and he, seeming to read my thoughts, pulls me even closer. My small frame pressed up against his large one, my face buried in the fabric of his dress robes, smelling the rich piney scent of him. When he lets go, he looks into my eyes and says sincerely "I'm so sorry Vic." then he flicks his wand and summons my purse. "Do you want me to walk you to the Ravenclaw Common Room?" My voice is still evading me, so I just nod.
Together we leave, into the entrance hall. After the noise and excitement of the ball the silence presses in on us, drawing us closer together. Teddy throughs an arm around my shoulder that chases away the chill of the corridor. With his uncanny knowledge of the castle layout he leads me to Ravenclaw tower easily. He doesn't speak until are standing in front of the eagle door knocker. His voice is a bit hoarse as he asks, "Are we done arguing Vic? It is barmy bein' at odds with you." I want to know why he lied. He hasn't ever done that to me before, but he is right, being at odds with each other is hard. So I say "We're done, Teddy. Thank you for hexing Bletchley." We embrace briefly then bid each other goodnight.
After he leaves I knock the door, and the eagle asks "I am always hungry, I must always be fed. The finger I touch must soon turn red. What am I?" I think back over the week that passed, about all the over eager boys and their fates and say "Fire."
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