Chapter 2 : Angelina, December 1994
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The grand staircase was crowded. The younger students were scrambling between their classrooms, hoping that they’d make it to their seats on time for their next course. The sixth and seventh years, now into their N.E.W.T. coursework, were on their way to a variety of locations. Angelina squeezed by a large group of Gryffindor fourth years, debating the intricacies of some potion, towards the library stairwell. Alicia Spinnet followed closely behind. Having discontinued the study of Herbology, they both had a free block of time and had resignedly agreed to spend it in the library.
“Angelina,” Alicia trotted down the corridor beside her friend. “There are only seventeen days left – seventeen. We really should figure something out.” She pulled the strap of her bag back up onto her shoulder. “Oh, did I tell you? He looked at me in the Great Hall this morning.”
Angelina smirked at her best friend. “What happened to the whole, ‘we’re the Gryffindor chasers, we don’t need dates, blah blah – independent witch – blah’ routine?”
The girls paused outside the library, granting a habitual glance to the large notice board. A collection of parchment pieces – exam reviews, tutors, lost items, the like – cluttered its surface. Each one bore the stamp of Madam Pince’s approval. Angelina suppressed a laugh, remembering the crotchety librarian’s response when, several months ago, the twins had posted an advertisement looking for aging solution ingredients without her prior knowledge. If only she had seen the result of their resulting aging solution, even she may have cracked a smile.
“Now one supposed look from Eddie McDonald,” she dropped her voice to a whisper as they crossed the library’s threshold, “and you’re ready to renounce your education and resign to a life of household charms and cookbooks.”
Alicia glared at her. “Very funny. He did look at me, even smiled. But there’s no way that tosser is going to man up enough to actually ask me.” She pulled out a chair at an empty study table and plopped into it. “Hufflepuff.”
“Well, then we revert to the original plan.” Angelina sat down across the table. “You, Lora and I will look fabulous, go to the ball, dance, laugh at Erin and Marjorie, and have an amazing time. I’ve already turned down Geoffrey and Peregrine Cooke in favour of this plan, and besides, you two are better looking than any of the sorry blokes in our year ” Her face split into a reassuring smile; Alicia’s face did not, her mouth opening to protest. “Except for dear Eddie of course.”
Angelina laughed at herself. She loved Alicia, but poking fun at her crush on the soft-spoken, wavy-haired Hufflepuff was far too amusing to bypass. If the two ever actually dated, she knew that her best friend would quickly grow tired of him. Alicia’s crush, she was fairly sure, was not on the poor boy as much as on his inaccessibility.
The library was crowded. Groups of sixth year students, a group of Hufflepuff boys, Eddie included, a handful of Ravenclaws, a couple of Slytherins, smattered the collection of study tables. Their most recent assignment for Professor McGonagall was the likely culprit behind the occupied cubicles. Thin streams of sunlight crept in through the tall windows, making the rows of ancient books look even older and dustier than they did in the evening. The table that Alicia had commandeered sat near the middle of the library, tucked between the recent copies of the Daily Prophet and other social media publications. Angelina did not fail to notice that from their seats, they had a convenient view of Eddie and his mates.
“You’re shameless, you know?” Angelina laughed shaking her head in amused disappointment.
“So where is Lora?” Alicia asked, pointedly ignoring the teasing. “Wasn’t she supposed to meet us here? I’m completely hopeless at this stuff without her.”
“You and I both.” Angelina rummaged through her bag, searching for her quill. “I think she said that she was stopping in the Owlery, sending a letter to her Michael no doubt – do you have an extra quill?”
Lora had met Michael the Muggle – as Alicia called him – in primary school, a full six years before the two had learned that magic was real and what the word Muggle meant. It never mattered how often Lora tried to assure the two girls that they were her best friend, Angelina knew that that role had been filled a long time ago over building blocks and wax crayons. And Michael followed Lora’s name as naturally as though it were a part of her name, and so when the two had begun dating the previous year, Angelina had only responded with a smile that clearly said “it’s about time.”
“I only have this old quill.” Alicia frowned, sliding a stiff blackened quill across the table. She made an effort of opening their large Advanced Transfiguration book and made it through the cover and table of content pages. “Merlin, I hate this stuff. I’d much rather be doing revisions for just about any other course.”
“Alright any other course besides this or potions.”
“Potions itself isn’t terrible,” Angelina dipped the old, less-than-fabulous quill, into her ink pot and tested it out on the top corner of her parchment. “It’s always logical, even if the Professor is far from it.”
“Lora is certainly taking her time in the Owlery.” Alicia glanced towards the door as though their friend was about to walk through the door at any second. “I wonder,” she continued, twirling a chunk of her long brunette hair on her finger, “if Michael the Muggle’s parents are ever suspicious about the owls that tend to hang out near their son’s window. I just think that’d be awkward to try and explain.”
“Oh, I’m sure it was and will be.” The quill still not writing, she jabbed it at the parchment with vengeance. “But, I mean, my parents did it somehow, and it seems to have worked out for them.”
“Your parents did what exactly?”
Angelina dropped her quill and turned to see a smirking Lee Jordan standing over their table. A wide grin was plastered across his face and he wagged his eyebrows suggestively. It was clear that he found himself to be highly amusing.
“Lee, you amaze me – ”
“Merlin, Angie, don’t flatter me like that.”
“ – how you can make such good marks, spending so much of your time in the gutter like you do.” She smiled at him. Teasing Lee was a staple in her day-to-day activities as teasing her was in his.
A faux expression of pain flashed across his face and he clutched his hands to his chest. “Your words are so hurtful, Johnson. I’m such a martyr, putting up with all of your abuse.” He plopped himself into the chair the girls had been saving for Lora. “Paisley ditching out on you two?”
“She’s in the Owlery, sending her post to Michael the Muggle.” Alicia smiled rolling her eyes. “Apparently her beau is more important than either of us or our transfigurations marks.” She looked down at her still-blank parchment and sighed. Angelina could see her push her concerns about the course from her mind and she looked back up to Lee. “So, Mr. Jordan, to what do we owe the pleasure of this visit too?”
“Thank you for asking Alica.” He turned towards Angelina, a smirk plastered on his face. “Poor Angie here seems to have forgotten her manners.” Angelina felt her eyes roll; today was not a day that she was going to win their battle of teasing. “It’s a shame really. If I thought she’d appreciate it more, I’d have asked her to the ball. We’d have been the best looking couple on the dance floor. But, things being the way they are, I’ll just have to ask Libby.”
“Libby McNaulty?” Angelina said, ignoring the feigned expression of resignation on Lee’s face.
“No, the other Libby in our year,” Alicia said, rolling her eyes.
“Why, jealous Johnson?”
“You’ve been talking about asking her to go with you for weeks.” Angelina suppressed a laugh. “You mean to tell me you haven’t even asked her yet? You better hurry or some other sorry bloke will have snatched her off the market.”
“I’m working on it. Have you heard of other blokes wanting to ask her?” She could see a hint of self-doubt flash in his eyes.
“Lee, nobody else has braved imagining asking her to the ball.” Alicia tossed the textbook she had been pretending to look at onto the table. “She’s terrifying. I’m sure she’s all yours.”
“Alicia – ” Angelina kicked her friend under the table. “She’s a lovely girl; she’s just an egotistical toad, is all.” She turned her attention back to Lee, her voice sweet. “And no, I haven’t heard of anyone else wanting to ask her, but all the foreign boys are starting to move in on the Hogwarts girls so you should hurry.”
He leaned back in his chair and ran his hand across his head. “You think so?”
“Yes, Lee.” She turned around and surveyed the groups of people sprinkled throughout the library. “She’s sitting over there with Indira and Shannon and few other Ravenclaws, you should go ask her now.”
“Well, George and Fred are still argu – figuring out what they’re doing for the ball, and erm – ” His voice trailed off into space, and he was quiet for a moment. “You’re right, Johnson. I should ask her, and I will. If Spinnet here asks that sap McDonald to the ball. Everyone knows you’ve been drooling over him for weeks, just yesterday Marjorie and Erin were talking about it in the Great Hall.”
Alicia flapped her mouth opened and shut like a great fish. Whatever words she wanted to spit at Lee seemed to have been trapped.
“Unless you want me to ask him for you?” He smirked.
Alicia sprang up out of her chair as though it has shocked her. Her face was red and her eyebrows had furrowed together. “Don’t you dare, Lee Jordan.” She finally managed to regain the power of speech. “If anyone is going to make an arse of me, it sure as hinkypunks is going to be me.”
Angelina watched in amusement as she marched across the library to the table where Eddie McDonald sat with Cedric Diggory, Peregrine Cooke and a couple other Hufflepuff boys and disappeared behind a shelf of books. She glanced over at Lee who was still leaning back in his chair. “Shouldn’t you be asking Libby to the ball?”
Lee leaned forward, dropping the front legs of the chair onto the stone floor. The sound resonated through the library and earned him a stern look from Madam Pince at the front desk. “Alright, alright. I’ll go ask her. Where’d you say she was sitting?”
“Near the row of shelves with all the charms texts? She’s sitting next to Indira.”
As Lee walked away, Alicia came skipping back towards their table. A large grin was plastered on her face and her eyes practically shouted triumph. Angelina sighed before smiling across the library at her friend. At least Lora was still planning on going to the ball stag. It was the small resilient shred of their plan left intact.
Having accomplished precisely three lines of her Transfiguration Essay in the library, Angelina sat on her own in the steadily emptying common room hunched over the wooden study table. Though she was now up to twelve lines, she wished she had gotten more accomplished earlier that day. By the time Lora had joined her and Alicia in the library and had been brought up to date on all the latest Yule Ball news, the girls had decided that it was too late for productivity and that dinner was in order. At least she could find work as a professional procrastinator if her N.E.W.T.s next year didn’t work out the way she hoped.
Sighing, she looked down at her tidy scrawl on the parchment and dipped her quill tip into the ink well. A drop of the black ink dripped down onto her parchment, spreading slowly across the words she had just written.
Now that they had finished dinner, Alicia was off with a group from her Ancient Runes course and Lora had disappeared to Professor Burbage’s office – she spent a lot of time with the Muggle Studies professor helping her organize all her gizmos and gadgets into logical files.
Angelina swore under her breath, dabbing at the blotch with the tip of her wand. She looked up as the portrait door from the stairwell swung open. Lora walked through the entrance, her bag slung over her shoulder and her blonde hair pulled back from her face. She waved to her friend from the table.
“How was filing?”
Lora walked towards the table and slid down into a chair across from Angelina and shrugged her shoulders. Her eyes were puffy as though she had been crying.
“Are you okay?” Angelina leaned forward across the table, pushing a tin of biscuits her way. “What happened?”
Lora frowned, picking a custard cream from the assortment. She nibbled at it and chewed for a minute. “It’s nothing, really, but I didn’t do any filing. I just wanted to talk to Professor Burbage,” she paused, “about Michael and stuff. She’s great at listening, it’s just that, I don’t even know.” She sighed and picked a second custard cream from the tin. “Just ignore me. I’m on a whinging binge this evening.”
“As long as you know it,” Angelina smiled at her friend to let her know she was only teasing. Lora offered up a weak smile in return. “Are things alright with Michael?”
“Oh, they’re fine I suppose. We just had a bit of a row in our last few letters.” She picked up a third biscuit and looked at it before placing it back into the tin. “Merlin knows I don’t need another. But he’s a bit bent out of shape that he won’t get to see me until the summer. And it’s not even like I’m thrilled about it either. I miss him loads. I just want to hear his voice and see his face. But he’s all upset that some ball is more important than he is.”
Angelina nodded as Lora continued.
“It was sort of funny, actually. He got all ridiculous and asked if there was another bloke.” She giggled. “I could picture him with his scrawny chest all puffed up. Bloody hell, I miss that boy.”
A smile seeped out onto Angelina’s face despite the fact that she could see her plans for a girls’ night at the Yule Ball swirling down the plumbing. “You should go home for Christmas and see him.”
“I promised you and Alicia that we’d all go to the ball together. And Alicia has already ditched you for her latest fancy, I couldn’t do that.” Her face clearly told Angelina that with a bit of encouragement, she’d be on the first train car back to London.
“Lora,” she plucked one of the remaining biscuits from the tin before Lora had a chance to be angry with herself for eating another, “tell Michael the Muggle Happy Christmas from me, yeah?”
A huge smile broke out across her face and she picked up her stack of books from the table. “I love you, Angelina.” She called over her shoulder as she made her way toward the steps to the girl dormitories. “I’m going to go write Michael again so that he’ll stop sulking.”
Angelina sighed. Turning her attention back to her essay, her thoughts wandered to her emerald and gold dress that was hanging in her wardrobe upstairs. She was more than happy to go to the ball dateless with her best friend at her side, but going to the ball dateless and alone was another story entirely. She wished for a moment that her original plans had worked out, but quickly chided herself for the selfish feeling that rose up in her chest. It was a good thing that Alicia finally got up the nerve to talk to Eddie, and a great thing that Lora would be able to see Michael the Muggle. There was still time to make plans for the ball.
Conceding to the fact that she was not making any progress on her essay, she began rolling up the parchment. From the corner of her eye she saw the profiles of George and Fred Weasley walk through the portrait hole.
“Angelina, fancy seeing you here in the common room by yourself.” Fred shouted much too loudly across the common room. She watched as he gesticulated not- so subtly to his twin. Either not comprehending or not willing to play along, she couldn’t quite tell, George shook his head and made his way up the stairs to the boy dormitories.
She rolled her eyes amiably; there was never any telling what they were up to exactly until they were ready for it to be known. “Well I’m on my way out, Fred. Did you need something?”
“Actually, I apparently do.” He mumbled something incoherently towards the boys’ staircase.
She waited for him to continue. When he didn’t, she flopped down onto the sofa and propped her feet onto the stool in front of it. Fred slid onto the sofa next to her and genially tossed his arm around her shoulder. “I have a proposition for you.”
“Okay?” A proposition. She fought the urge to roll her eyes in amusement.
“How would you like to go to the ball with me?”
How would she like to go to the ball with Fred? This sounded like the beginnings of a feasible, makeshift plan. “Well, all my other plans fell through, no offence to you or anything, but sure. I’ll go to the ball with you.”
“Can you keep a secret?” He asked slipping his arm back from around her shoulders and rising to his feet. Scepticism and curiosity tingled under her skin. She raised an eyebrow and waited for him to continue. “No offence, but my intricately laid plans fell through as well.”
Angelina felt the laughter spill out of her chest and she rose to her feet as well. “Well dear Fred, here is to botched plans and dead awesome second options.” She patted him on the back and made her way towards her dormitory.
Author's Note: I would like to extend my gratitude to those of you who have read, reviewed and favorited this story thus far. To new readers, welcome!! I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please review, even it it's brief. As always, thank you to Annie, Sarah and Jane... Rave on puffins!
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