Chapter 1 : The Yule Ball
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Justin had already decided he was going to take Hannah Abbot. He asked Ernie if he was okay with it and he replied positively. Justin worried that he would become jealous as he was quite close with Hannah. However, when Justin voiced his concerns, Ernie just laughed.
“No, Justin, my dear friend! She is only a friend to me, just like you! Go on, ask her to the Ball. She would like it!”
Justin was relieved at this but then they had to decide on who Ernie was going to take.
“Who do you want to take?” asked Justin, looking around the Hufflepuff common room.
Ernie, who was usually very confident, seemed to become nervous when the fourth year girls walked by. He tried to avoid Justin’s eye but Justin had understood completely.
“You want to ask one of them out, then?” Ernie spluttered and Justin laughed. “Come on then, which is it?”
Ernie was suddenly very self-conscious. His palms had become clammy and his mouth dry. “No one,” he said unconvincingly.
Justin snorted. “Do you want Wayne or Zach to ask her out before you?”
Ernie sighed. “No, I suppose I don’t. I don’t want to be the last one without a date – that would be rather sad.”
“I know, that’s why you need to get a move on! She might be taken if you don’t ask soon. Who is she?”
Ernie resigned himself to the fact that he would have to tell his best friend. “Eloise,” he whispered, looking around the room fearfully.
Justin cracked a grin. “That’s fantastic! I know she hasn’t got a date, so you can ask her now!”
“Now?” asked Ernie, horrified. “I-In front of all these p-people?”
Justin thought about it. “Okay, maybe not now. Tomorrow!” Ernie agreed to those terms and together they made their way to their dormitory, discussing which dances they’d need to know.
Justin poked Ernie in the back. He turned indignantly. “What was that for?” he said loudly, causing the people around him to look at him strangely.
“Eloise is there,” whispered Justin, pointing to a mob of girls. “Go ask her to the Ball!”
“In front of her friends?!” said Ernie incredulously. “Surely not!”
Justin rolled his eyes at his best friend’s theatrics. “Just pull her away for a moment, she won’t mind!”
“Ladies in bunches always filled me with vague apprehension and a firm desire to be elsewhere,”* muttered Ernie.
Justin didn’t respond but pushed his friend into the group of girls giggling in the courtyard. Ernie straightened his robes and said without a trace of nervousness, “Eloise, may I please speak to you privately?”
She looked to Hannah, who gave her a grin and a small push to Ernie. She turned back and nodded nervously, her face reddening.
“Sure,” she said quietly, her face breaking into a small smile.
He led her to a more private area and asked, “I was wondering whether you had a date to the Yule Ball yet?” She shook her head, looking at him eagerly. “Well then,” he said, his mouth becoming dry. “Would you – would you like to accompany me to the Ball?”
She nodded and he broke out into a grin. “Perfect. I shall await for you in the Common Room on Christmas Day at 7:50 pm sharp.”
“That’s nice,” said Eloise, obviously used to Ernie’s pompous attitude. He smiled at her and bade her goodbye, returning to Justin to celebrate the good news.
It was 7:45 pm on Christmas Day and Ernie and Justine were waiting with the other boys in the Hufflepuff common room.
“How long does it take for a girl to get ready?” muttered Justin, checking his watch.
Ernie shrugged. “I’ve no idea. I’m sure they’ll be ready soon.”
They chatted about what they thought they were going expect. “Apparently there’s a big ice sculpture!” said Justin excitedly.
“I’ve not heard that,” said Ernie, looking at his watch. It was now 7:48 pm. “I wonder what the decorations will look like?”
Justin was going to respond but then Hannah walked down, looking very pretty in pale pink dress robes. Justin stood up to greet her and Ernie waited impatiently for Eloise. He’d never liked being late.
But then she walked down with turquoise coloured dress robes that suited her very well. Her pale hair was tied back with a few curls on the side of her face.
“You look ravishing,” said Ernie as he walked towards her.
She blushed. “Thank you. You look very handsome as well,” she said nervously. He grinned at her and gestured for her to take his arm. She did so accordingly and they made their way to the Great Hall, chatting excitedly about the night in front of them.
“Wow, it looks so pretty!” said Eloise as they walked in. She waved at people and then they found a spot next to Hannah and Justin, who were talking animatedly.
They ate and talked about O.W.L’s. Ernie was boasting how he was going to be studying for long hours but Eloise said, “I’m going to try and take it easy. I don’t want to cause myself any extra stress.”
He looked shocked at that but regained his posture quickly. They discussed the subjects they were going to drop in sixth year and then it was time for the dances. They laughed at Harry’s clear nervousness and Parvati’s annoyance at her hopeless dance partner.
They saw Cho and Cedric dancing together, and they moved together easily, laughing and chatting. Fleur Delacour looked like she was gliding and Roger Davies still looked shocked that he was on a date with her.
The last couple, an unrecognisable girl in periwinkle dress robes and Viktor Krum looked like they were having fun. He was smiling and when he turned her around, Eloise gasped, “Is that Hermione Granger?!”
Ernie peered closer. “It seems to be.”
“Wow!” said Hannah. “She looks so beautiful!”
Justin and Ernie shot each other looks. She did look quite pretty tonight – her hair wasn’t covering her face. But they thought it would be wise not to mention that, especially to their dates.
Slowly others started to dance and Justin led Hannah to the dance floor. Eloise looked at Ernie expectedly.
“Did you want to dance?” he asked, holding his hand out. She gladly took it and they walked to the dance floor to start dancing. Ernie was very nervous but put it aside as they started to do the waltz.
Hours later, they were still dancing and Eloise’s hair had come out of her bun. They were having a lot of fun and when it ended, they were very disappointed. They made their way to the common room, talking about the spectacular night. They stopped at the front of the stairs of her dormitory.
“Thank you for taking me, Ernie,” she said gratefully.
“Thank you for accompanying me,” he replied, giving her a small nod of his head. He smiled at her and she quickly kissed him on the cheek before scurrying up the stairs. Ernie blankly put a hand to his cheek and stared at the stairs in shock. Slowly, he walked back to his own dormitory in a daze.
“Did you have a good night?” asked Wayne, coming out of the bathroom. Ernie nodded and started to get into his yellow and black pyjamas.
It was a fantastic night, he thought happily before going to sleep.
* Quote taken from Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 24, page 253 Australian version.
Hope you enjoyed! :)