Em beamed at her two best friends as she finally came down to meet them in the Entrance Hall that Saturday.
“Excuse my lateness, ladies,” the blonde grinned. “But I got held up by Peter on my way down – he asked me to the Ball!”
Adie and Lily squealed at an appropriately loud volume, hugging their friend excitedly. Lily had snatched at an offer from Davey Gudgeon before poor James even had a chance to ask her, and Adie was still going with Remus. The trio were off to Hogsmeade to buy their dresses for the Ball; almost every Hogwarts female had the same idea and the local Madam Malkin’s was packed by the time they arrived.
Adie grumbled under her breath; she was not a big shopping fan, unlike her two best friends. She had been forced to endure far too many expeditions to Diagon Alley with her mother to ever be able to find any pleasure in the act of shopping. The mass of squealing and cooing girls didn’t serve to improve Adrianna’s mood any further.
She was dragged out of this simmering rage by Lily indicating a rack of dresses in one of the, relatively, emptier corners of the shop. The trio tried to scramble their way over to their desired dresses but the heaving mass of other female students, all eager to find their perfect gown, would not let them pass.
Eventually, frustrated by the stubborn crowds, Adie leant over and hissed at a crowd of Fourth Years, “Out of my way”.
Her inner-Slytherin must have reared its head because the girls scattered quickly after that, allowing Adrianna to sweep through the throng with Em and Lily in her wake.
Emmeline cleared her throat as they reached the dresses. “Well, that was… impressive, Adie.”
The other blonde pulled a face. “They were pissing me off – I despise shopping.”
Lily laughed at her friend’s distaste for one of her favourite activities. Within seconds she had discarded half the dresses on the rail and had given Em three to try on, Adie two and was currently holding up a cream dress against herself.
“You two get trying, I’ll meet you in the changing rooms in a moment…”
“Sir, yes, sir!” Em saluted Lily, before following Adie into the cubicles.
Adrianna walked into her dressing room with a sense of great trepidation. This place was not a friendly territory for her; she’d spent so many hours staring into these mirrors, hating what she saw looking back at her. A girl she didn’t recognise stuffed into the clothes her mother liked and approved of. Hideous dresses for formal balls, skirts and sweaters – all Adie wanted to wear was jeans and a t-shirt.
So it was with a fair amount of surprise that Adie realised that she really liked this dress. It was quite a momentous occasion for Adrianna Greengrass, to like a dress. Not only that, but the dress was green! Adie wondered if she’d been sucked into an alternate universe…
But it really was beautiful, the gown Lily had picked out. From the moment she put it on, the other coral dress just faded into the background. It was a gorgeous piece of clothing and Adie felt so comfortable and right in it. It was a million miles away from the stuffy frocks she was forced into by her parents.
Adie swanned out of her cubicle, in her plain clothes once more, with a rather triumphant and satisfied air. She heaved herself into a chair to wait for Em and Lily but as she did so, Adie spotted Narcissa across the corridor wearing the most stunning sapphire gown. It shocked Adrianna, the strength of Cissy’s beauty. Adie had felt quite pretty when she’d looked in the mirror, wearing her earthy green dress; everyone in any sort of proximity to Narcissa just paled in comparison.
The dress was lovely, a floor-length deep blue skirt and a blue bodice covered in black beaded detailing. It was exquisite but nothing compared to Narcissa herself, with shimmering hair curling over one shoulder and her eyes, for once, sparkling with animation and happiness.
Adie skirted her way over to her friend, creeping up behind her and whispering, “You look amazing, absolutely stunning! Lucius will love it.”
Narcissa turned around to greet her best friend, her smile turning into a jokey grimace. “Well, it’s not really for him. You know I like to dress up, this is just another excuse, eh?”
Adrianna laughed, about to reply when her attention was grabbed by someone else calling her name. Emmeline and Lily, radiant in their dresses, were waving to her from the end of the corridor. Adie joined them, bidding Narcissa goodbye as she went. Em looked as incredible as Lily had predicted in a deep bella donna gown, simple and elegant. Lily was equally as resplendent in her cream gown. Adie silently praised Madam Malkin for her exquisite range of robes; as easy as this shopping trip had been, Adrianna was still looking forward to retreating to the Three Broomsticks…
It wasn’t until three weeks later that Adrianna even had to think about the Ball again. She felt completely sorted and prepared – it wasn’t until Friday night that she began to panic. Lily casually flung herself into the chair next to Adie in the Library, before bombarding her Slytherin friend with a barrage of questions.
“Have you decided how you’re going to do your make-up for tomorrow? I’ve got a gorgeous eye shadow you could borrow – it’ll go with your dress and bring out the little bit of green in your eyes. What about hair? Up or down? Em’s got a nice clip you could pin back part of it with…”
Adrianna stared at Lily in horror. She hadn’t even considered all of that; she’d just been planning to chuck on her clothes and go. Instead Lily decided to take control and so it was that Adie found herself on Saturday afternoon forbidden to move whilst the redhead poked at her face with various brushes and tugged at her hair somewhat painfully.
However, even Adie had to admit that when Lily whipped out a mirror to show her the final result, it was all worth it. She just looked… right. Instead of all the silly things her mother did to her, trying to make her paler and more like some sort of statue – like Narcissa or Bellatrix – Lily had emphasised Adie’s natural features. Her face was warm, her eyes stood out with the brown and olive green hues Lily had used. Her hair hung in glossy, honey curls – Em’s aforementioned clip pinned back some of her locks, letting the rest fall over her shoulders. For once, Adrianna actually felt quite pleased with how she looked.
James, naturally, wolf-whistled in a rather lairy manner as Adie descended the stairs into the Entrance Hall; Remus took the more subtle approach, taking Adie’s arm as she reached the bottom of the steps and whispering in her ear, “You really do look lovely, Adie”.
She smiled at the compliments, slightly uncomfortable – she felt much happier watching the way James’ face lit up and his eyes just widened as Lily joined them. The hurt in his forced smile, as Davey took her arm, was slightly harder to watch. Instead Adie focused on Emmeline’s little blush as Peter led her into the Hall. Adrianna could tell she was going to enjoy tonight; it would be one of the first times she’d spent a night with all of her best friends, having fun together.
Her resolve did waver slightly upon entering the room, dimly lit with mock-bats swooping up in the rafters of the room. Sirius was sat at one of the tables, clearly waiting for his mates. Adie knew he was supposed to be here with Annabelle Percy, from Ravenclaw; wasn’t it a little odd that they weren’t together? It was only the start of the dance, after all.
Adrianna shook these thoughts from her head as they approached the table. Sirius looked up and grinned at James, clad in his formal robes. His eyes flickered to Adie for a moment before looking away again, resolutely. She felt her heart sink a little at his brief, cursory, judging look and, most of all, his lack of reaction. She felt that buoyant confidence that had lifted her since the afternoon, falter a little.
Maybe he had sensed Adie wavering slightly but, after a quick greeting to Sirius, Remus turned to Adie to ask for a dance. The floor wasn’t that busy yet, but Adie welcomed the distraction. For the first time in her life, she felt rather grateful for all of the dancing lessons she’d been put through, and all that practice she’d gained at stiff family balls. This time, Adrianna actually had some fun gliding around the floor, hand-in-hand with her friend.
Remus wasn’t quite as elegant as Adie, who wasn’t exactly the most graceful to begin with, and so the pair did look somewhat comical as they danced. Yet, the happiness they exuded managed to attract Em and Peter, Lily and Davey, as well as James and his date to the dance floor. As Adie twirled under Remus’ arm and into James’, she couldn’t help but notice Sirius still sitting at the table. Although Annabelle had joined him, they both looked incredibly bored, clutching their butterbeers. Adie smiled to herself and tried to ignore the voice in her head asking why she was so pleased to see the couple having a miserable time.
The rest of the night passed in a happy blur; Adie danced with her three Marauder friends all night, her girls, and even Davey once. She tried her hardest to ignore the death glares the Slytherins were sending her, seeing her in the arms of their sworn enemy Gryffindors. In her haze of happiness, Adie barely even registered their disapproval and annoyance. With Lucius gone, nothing like that seemed to affect her – Adie felt free, for once.
Another thing that went unnoticed by Adrianna, although not by Sirius, was Regulus. He watched her spinning and laughing and twirling all night long, entranced by her. Sirius, determined to keep his eyes firmly off of Adie and her flying gold hair, spent the night glaring at his little brother and despising the lovesick look in his eyes. Deep down, Sirius was just hoping that he never looked like that when he watched Adrianna.
Adrianna collapsed into bed that night, feet aching and absolutely exhausted and yet happier than she’d ever been before in her life. At that moment, she felt untouchable and invincible and like none of the crashing reality of her future could ever touch her. Just for a second, she wasn’t Adrianna Greengrass and her future held no darkness or worries – she was just Adie, a teenage girl who’d just had the best night ever.
She was finally happy. How long could this possibly last?