Chapter 6 : Valentine's Day
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You haven’t written in ages! Mum was starting to worry a bit. Okay, a lot. But she tends to overreact to things. Mum’s doing fine, though she says Mrs. Pruneberry is even more annoying than usual. Mum’s been setting me up on so many blind dates; she keeps telling me to get married. Hmph. It’s only because she wants grandchildren. Adriana’s doing fine as well. She moved to the Department of Transportation a few weeks ago and seems to like it much better. At least I think she likes it better. There’s been a decrease in the amount of snarky comments she makes whenever she comes over.
Anyway, how are things with you? I hope you’ve started studying for N.E.W.T.S. I know it’s only February, but the exams are at the beginning of June, and I started studying around this time of year, and, not to brag or anything, but I scored seven Outstandings, so…
On another note, Mum was planning to visit Hogsmeade tomorrow to visit that robe shop she loves, and then we remembered that you have that Valentine’s Day trip tomorrow, so if someone hasn’t already asked you out, Mum thought that she would bring me and Adri along so that we can all go to Hogsmeade together. You can bring your friend, Lolly, along, too, if you’d like.
Guess what? I’m now leader of the British Wizarding Orchestra! That means I’m principal first violinist! Principal first! That vile Constance Barkwood thought that she could get it, but she didn’t, and now she’s my stand partner. Ugh. I wish there was a world free of Constance Barkwoods. Then everyone would be able to live in peace. Or at least I would be able to live in peace.
I hope you’re having a good time at Hogwarts! Remember to study for your N.E.W.T.S, and please, please tell us if you want to meet us in Hogsmeade or not!
“Who’s it from?” asks Lolly, spreading a slice of toast with orange marmalade.
I pour some milk into my bowl of Pixie Puffs and reply, “Diane. She wants to know if we want to meet them in Hogwarts tomorrow for Valentine’s Day, since Mum wanted to get some robes or something and decided to bring along Di and Adri.” I hand her the letter.
She reads it and then says, “I can’t to Hogsmeade with you guys tomorrow. Sorry, Imogen.”
I furrow my brow. “Why? Did someone ask you out?” I glance over at the group of Hufflepuff seventh year boys across from us.
“No,” she says. “It’s just…” she lowers her voice to an excited whisper. “…don’t you think that tomorrow’s the perfect time to start brewing the Amortentia? Everyone will be out and about in Hogsmeade!”
“But… does that mean that I have to stay with you and work on the Amortentia?”
“Merlin, no! You go to Hogsmeade and enjoy yourself, and I’ll work on the Amortentia. I’ll be perfectly fine. At least I won’t have you to distract me with your sarcastic comments.” She grins.
“Just don’t explode anything while I’m gone. Are you sure you don’t need any help?”
“I’m fine. Tell your Mum, Adri, and Di that I’m sorry I can’t come with you guys.”
“You know,” I say as we leave the table. “You could always do your potion-making another–”
“But don’t you see that this is the perfect timing? If we don’t start now, then we’ll never have time!”
I sigh. “I guess.”
The Great Hall is pink. Pink.
I should have seen this coming.
“What’s wrong with this world?” I mutter.
“Serial killers, light pollution, rapists, Professor Binns...” comes a familiar voice, and I can almost see the smirk on his face.
“Shut up, Potter,” I say without turning around. “Don’t you have any idea of what a rhetorical question is?”
“Of course he does,” simpers a voice that does make me turn. It’s Barlow (the bitch). Of course. “Albie is very smart,” she coos.
Potter’s facial expression is a grimace disguised as a smile, something that either Barlow doesn’t notice or notices and pretends not to. In any case, I half expect her to pinch Potter’s cheeks to death. Unfortunately for me, she doesn’t.
Instead, she chirps, “Oh, and like the Great Hall decorations?”, grabs Potter’s hand, and bounds off to the Slytherin table.
I had forgotten that Barlow’s the president of the Hogwarts Castle Beautification Society.
Its description in the Hogwarts Clubs and Extracurricular Activities Catalog is:
‘The Hogwarts Castle Beautification Society is a group that strives to preserve the natural beauty and history of Hogwarts Castle by raising money for restorations and keeping the castle clean and squeaky. We also decorate the castle during holidays and special occasions and help organize parties for you. We meet every week on Wednesdays at 5:00 pm. Please contact Fanny Barlow in the Slytherin Dungeon for more information.'
Its actual purpose is very different. Sure, they decorate the castle during holidays (though Valentine’s Day is the only one they really care about) and they plan most parties (only so that they get invited, though), but striving to preserve the natural beauty and history of Hogwarts? Please. More like coming up with devious plots to ensnare dashing blokes.
After being harassed by Filch, trying to avoid looking at snogging couples or gigantic, pink boxes of chocolates, and trudging through the icky sludge of winter, I finally reach my destination.
I push the door open to The Three Broomsticks, the warmth enveloping me as I step inside.
“Imogen! Over here!”
Sitting at a table in the corner were three people, my older sisters Diane and Adriana, and Mum, who was fretting over something or the other. I fight my way through the crowd, thankfully avoid getting killed, and sat down.
Wait, scratch that. I almost avoid getting killed. Mum squeezes me in a bone-crushing hug the just as I sit down.
Pushing a butterbeer towards me, Di grins and says, “Hey, little sis! Long time, no see.”
I scowl. “I’m not that little.”
Adri snorts (she usually has to have snorted derisively at least fifty times by noon, or else she’ll turn even more caustic than usual).
“I hope you’ve started studying for NEWTs, though,” continues Di. “When I was in 7th year, I started studying at least a month ago.”
“I didn’t start studying until May,” says Adri.
Mum glares at her from across the table. “You never told me that! It’s a wonder you got as many NEWTs as you did! Tsk, tsk.”
Adri tsks into her butterbeer when Mum turns away.
“And Imogen, dear, what are you wearing? Those really are the plainest robes I’ve ever seen. I did think you’d have worn something a bit better on a Hogsmeade weekend.” Another tsk, tsk.
Di immediately perks up. “Oh, that reminds me! After this, we should definitely head over to Madam Malkin’s, you know, the branch that just opened up on High Street a few months ago. I’ve been wanting to go for ages.”
“If by ages, you mean the few months that it was open,” is Adri’s less than enthusiastic reply.
“Details, details,” says Di. “And who cares about them?”
“I hate shopping for clothes.” That’s a half lie. I like going clothes shopping, though only when it’s planned, and I manage to buy something useful/something I really like.
The shop assistant is prodding and poking me with pins, holding up bolts of cloth, and stabbing randomly. (I think she’s trying to kill me.) This is all accompanied by the lovely soundtrack of Mum’s tsk, tsks, excited gasps, and criticism.
For Merlin’s sake, this is so boring.
Adri is standing and watching, arms crossed and a bored expression adorning her face. She usually is bored, unless she’s making some sardonic comment or the other.
Di is patiently serving as a clothes-hanger, occasionally adding her opinion to Mum’s.
After what seems like five hours, we finally leave with one new set of robes. All the trouble for one set of robes. Honestly.
It’s snowing outside when we exit Honeydukes. We say our goodbyes, Mum and Di squish me into bone-crushing hugs, and Adri’s scowl fades slightly, which is her way of showing some form of affection.
I make my solitary way back to Hogwarts, carrying armfuls of colorful bags. Others are coming back, too, mostly snogging couples decorated with pink confetti from Madam Puddifoot’s.
(Not literally, of course. That would be a disaster.)
From behind me, I hear a familiar voice.
“We had such fun today, don’t you agree, Albie, dear?” Fanny’s arm is so entwined in Albus’s that it’s hard to see whose is whose.
She beams and leans closer towards his face.
If I was throwing up before, it’s nothing compared to now.
I push open the door and let the warmth of Hogwarts envelop me.
Hopefully Lolly hasn’t exploded that Amortentia.
A/N: Omg, sorry everyone for the extremely late update! And it's a really short/boring chapter, too, but the next chapter will certainly be a lot longer and more exciting, I promise! Please tell me your thoughts, though, I'd love to hear them!
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