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Chapter 7 : Happy New Year!
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When dinner finally did roll around, Harry told us that he was going to have a New Year’s party at Grimauld Place on…well, New Year’s Eve. It sounded fun…until he mentioned that dress robes were expected.
Okay. Yes, I’m a girl. However, I’m not the kind of girl that likes to dress up frequently. It’s just not me. So, that being said, you con bet that this little piece of information depressed me just a little. I’ll bet it wasn’t even Harry’s idea. It was probably Ginny.
Sure enough, after dinner, Ginny came up to me and asked, “Did you like my idea?”
“Sure Ginny…if you can get into that kind of thing,” I answered with a sigh.
“Yes I can. You have to come dress robe shopping with me!” she insisted.
“Actually, Gin, I was just gonna wear my old ones from Remus and Tonk’s wedding,” I told her.”
“What?! Nuh-uh. You can’t wear that old thing! New year, new dress robes! I’m determined to make sure that you welcome in 2001 in style!”
“Oh yes. I’m absolutely loathe to think of the consequences if that didn’t happen,” I said sarcastically.
“That’s the spirit!” Ginny cheered, completely missing the fact that I was being one hundred percent sarcastic. Then she leant in close to me and whispered, “Besides, I can’t wait to see Ron drool when he gets a load of you all dolled up!” I rolled my eyes. “And you know the old New Year’s tradition…”
“Okay, no. Maybe I won’t go at all!” I said, not eager to have a repeat of earlier that morning…only in front of even more people.
“Aw, no! C’mon! I was only joking around! You have to come!” Ginny exclaimed.
“What? Dress robe shopping, or to the New Year’s Eve party?” I asked.
“Both!” she confirmed. “What do you say? Pleeeeaaaase?” she pleaded rather pathetically.
“Fine.” I consented, knowing full well that she wouldn’t leave me alone unless I did so.
Two days later, on the twenty-seventh of December, Ginny and I went to Madame Malkin’s to shop for dress robes. For some reason, I had the distinct feeling that I was going to regret agreeing to go to this party. But maybe I was just being paranoid. I sure hoped that was all it was anyway.
I was no good at picking out dresses that would work for me, and I didn’t trust Ginny for help. So I told Madame Malkin of the occasion and asked her for some help with finding a decent set of dress robes. She happily obliged and immediately began testing me with a rainbow assortment of colors. And I mean rainbow assortment. Everything from chartreuse to russet to crimson to azure. She even tested me with a piece of fabric that looked like it belonged on Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat.
Finally, she handed me about twenty sets of dress robes and told me to try narrowing them down to my favorite five for starters. I easily narrowed it down to ten without even trying one on by getting rid of ones that didn’t appeal to my tastes. The first to go was a revealing, pink, frilly number that made me want to spew my guts all over it just looking at it. Next, I got rid of all of the black dress robes. There were six of them. Then, I discarded an aqua dress that had a lovely bodice, but a skirt that looked like a cotton ball. Then, since I would feel even more self-conscious wearing them, I ruled out two strapless dress robes.
I started trying on the final ten. By then, Ginny had already decided on her dress robes, so she watching as I modeled them. We quickly discovered that halter-tops did not look good on me, so we discarded the five that were there. This brought me easily down to the final five.
I decided against a red set of dress robes with too low of a neckline for my taste, and two others that were unreasonably uncomfortable. The remaining two, according to Ginny, looked lovely on me, but I finally decided against a white one that made me feel too much like I was about to get married. So I went with a very pretty blue set of dress robes. They were a dazzling azure at the top, but it darkened as it went down and ended in a deep, midnight blue. It had spaghetti straps and was dusted with silver sparkles. I picked out a silver cloak to go with it, and then Ginny and I paid and went back to the Burrow.
New Year’s Eve finally came…and so did three o’clock at Grimmauld Place. The party was to start at seven…and Ginny insisted that I come at three (four hours early, for those of you who have extreme trouble with math) to get ready. Well, I guess it did take a good hour to get my hair straightened. In the remaining three hours, we got dressed, Ginny tried three different up-do’s on me and then decided that she liked the first one best, had me try to put up her hair, had me fail miserably at putting up her hair, did her own hair, put on makeup, did my makeup, did nails, put on shoes, put on jewelry, and looked at ourselves in the mirror to make sure we looked okay.
After all of this toil, we had fifteen minutes before show time. “I better go down now,” Ginny told me, smoothing out her strapless, jade green dress. “Harry wanted me to help greet guests.”
“Alright. Is there anything I can do to help?” I asked, wanting to keep my mind off of being so dressed up in front of so many people.
“Err…keep Fred and George away from the punch bowl,” she answered.
“Gotcha,” I said with a mocking salute.
We walked down the stairs together, Ginny stepping confidently with her head held high, and me shuffling slowly with a death grip on the banister. I was absolutely certain I’d fall because of my heels, but I surprised myself quite nicely when I made it down the steps without breaking any bones or twisting my ankle. I had no idea how Ginny was managing to walk so well in her impossible stilettos.
We finally reached the entrance hall, and I instantly felt unbearably stupid in my dress. Good heavens! The only people in the room were Harry, Ron, the twins. Charlie, and Mr. Weasley, and I was already mortified.
“Well. Don’t you ladies look lovely,” Charlie commented. “It’s hard to believe you’re my baby sister,” he said, giving Ginny a hug before she went to take Harry’s arm. “And look at you!” he exclaimed giving me a hug this time. “Ron, doesn’t Hermione look breathtaking?”
Ron snapped his mouth, which had previously been hanging wide open, shut, and his ears went their telltale shade of red. “Y-yeah. She looks nice…I guess,” he stuttered. I was now blushing as well.
“Right. Well I think Fred and I will go get the punch,” George told us. “Come along Fred!”
Ginny sent me a meaningful look. “Oh, you needn’t bother,” I said. They stopped and looked at me. “I can get that.”
Fred and George exchanged a glance. “No really, we’ll get it. We wouldn’t want to put you through the trouble, milady,” George insisted. “Wouldn’t want you accidentally spilling punch all over the front of your dress.”
Now I had to stop and think. They could be clever when they wanted to, but i thought something up all the same. “Oh, I won’t. I’ll take Ron and he’ll carry it,” I said.
“Well why not take us along to carry it?” Fred inquired.
“Because I can stop Ron from spiking it.”
“Couldn’t you keep us from spiking it?”
“No because that would be two to one, and if I were to go with Ron, I wouldn’t be outnumbered.” There. I’d beat them, and they knew it, too.
“Very well then,” Fred conceded. “But we’ll gut you, my pretty, and we’ll spike your punch, too.”
If anyone other than Fred or George Weasley was to issue that warning, I wouldn’t have been frightened in the least. But the fact of the matter was that it had been Fred who’d issued the warning, so I was petrified. I shook off the formidable feeling and said, “We’ll just see about that. Come on, Ron.”
Ron and I walked in silence to the kitchen. We had barely walked two feet inside when the silence was shattered by an ear-splitting shriek. It was Mrs. Weasley. “Hermione, dear! You look positively stunning! I can’t believe that’s really you! You look so skinny! You need to eat more,” she scolded at the end of her long stream of praises. “What can I help the two of you with?”
“We’re here for the punch,” Ron reported.
“Right you are dears,” she said, retrieving a large punch bowl. “Has anyone arrived yet?” she asked us.
“Not that we know of,” I replied.
“Hm. Well, here you are dears. Don’t spill any on yourselves…or anyone else for that matter,” Mrs. Weasley ordered.
“We won’t,” I promised, levitating the bowl with my wand.
Ron and I walked down the halls to the halls in complete silence…that is, until we reached the door to the sitting room, where the ball was to take place.
“She’s right you know, my mum,” Ron informed me with his hand on the door handle.
“Come again?” I said. Mrs. Weasley was right about what?
“My mum’s right. You do look very pretty tonight,” he praised. I blushed. Before I could utter so much as a simple “thanks”, Ron opened the door and said, “Ladies first.”
“Thank you,” I finally said, even though, in all technicality, the punch entered through the door before I did. I smiled when I passed through though. I had put an enlargement charm on the room that - even by my standards - had been a bit of a pain in the arse. I was rightly proud of myself as far as I was concerned. Ginny had expertly decorated the room in a way that only Ginny could accomplish.
I guarded the punch most of the time, warding off Fred and George. It was my excuse not to mingle. There were, on occasion, people that Harry introduced to me. They were mostly Ministry officials and members of the Wizengamot and other such people that made me feel like a silly little girl.
My main goal of the evening was to steer clear of Ron. I didn’t want a differentiated version of the “Influential Mistletoe” incident in the form of a New Year’s kiss. It was two minutes until midnight, and I was just starting to think I’d made it through the event when Charlie came over to me.
“You haven’t seen Ron, have you?” he asked me as he ladled himself some punch out of the glass bowl I’d been guarding all night long.
“No. Not since the very beginning of the evening,” I replied, adding a mental “thank Merlin” to the end.
Charlie inspected me over the rim of his glass. “Have you been standing here all night?” he inquired.
I felt a little extra color go into my cheeks. “For the most part,” I answered.
He openly frowned at me now. “Just standing? Not doing anything? All night long?” he demanded, sounding positively bewildered.
“Well, I was introduced to a few people by Harry, and I’ve been guarding the punch bowl so that Fred and George won’t spike it, but…”
“Sounds like nothing to me. You’re sure you haven’t seen Ron?”
“Yes, I’m sure. Why do you need him?” I asked, for he looked a little let down.
“Oh, no reason I guess. I had something for him to do, but it doesn’t matter anymore. I suppose it can wait,” he told me, sounding more as though he were trying to convince himself.
The room then started the countdown.
“Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven!”
I was doing a half-hearted jig inside, and a sense of bitter accomplishment had come over me.
“Six! Five! Four! Three!”
Ron wasn’t going to kiss me. I was going to enter the new year without being mortified!
“Two! One! HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
As the people blew party horns, threw streamers and confetti, clinked glasses in a toast, and started belting out a rousing chorus of “Auld Lang Sine”, Charlie and I looked at one another. He smiled, leant down and kissed the top of my head…then pinched my nose as if to reassure me that he still thought of me as his second little sister.
“Want to know what my New Year’s Resolution is?” he asked me.
“What is it?”
“That it’ll be Ron, not me, next year standing next to you at midnight,” he told me. My eyes widened and my jaw dropped. How could he possibly have known? As if in answer to my question, he smiled at me as if to say, “I’m your big brother. I know everything”. Then, he patted me on the head, told me good night, and walked off to leave me standing by the punch bowl, still in shock.
A/N: Hey guys! I finally updated! I hope you guys liked it.
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