Here's to love
story takes place in Hogwarts. That’s quite normal, you could say, for a Harry
Potter fanfiction. This one, though, presents an interesting characteristic in
comparison to the majority of existing fanfictions: it takes place in a time
when none of the characters we know is studying at Hogwarts. What is its point,
then? I’m also wondering.
The fact remains that our main characters are two boys, and two girls – you see the picture.
I have to tell you: this story also presents another, really not original, characteristic: it’s a love story.
It was snowing quite a lot. Hogwarts green forest and faded blue lake had turned a monochrome grey. The castle was a shadowy engraving of itself on white paper. The snowflakes whirled in the winter wind which hadn’t stopped blowing in three days now.
When the clouds parted every afternoon – was magic involved? –, a herd of students went outside in the bitter cold, warmly wrapped up in three jumpers, two pairs of gloves and socks, a pair of fur-lined boots, a coat, a scarf showing their House colours and a hat, sometimes adorned with pompoms, embroidered flowers or spruces. When they arrived in the middle of the park, this pretty mess of colours tacitly split in two: the students who would expose their art and creativity with snowmen talent shows, and those who preferred to eat – or feed others with – the snow.
This latter activity usually gave way to vehement exclamations from the most rapidly cold-snow-stuffed teenagers. Shouts like “mischievous rascal” or “dreadful rogue” which, strangely enough, didn’t diminish to the least the most valorous brawlers’ vigorous attacks.
This was the display our heroine number one was admiring from the Hufflepuff tower window. She was about to descend to the dungeons for her daily torture session: Potions class. Pronounced every day with a voice from beyond the grave when, every day, our heroine number two, who still couldn’t remember her schedule, asked her what was their next lesson. You’d have every reason to believe she did it on purpose: she systematically asked that question before this very lesson.
That day, the prospect of Potions class – dark, obscure and scary voice – was even harder to think about than the other days. Not only because of the wonderful immaculate snow which covered every inch of the park and which our heroine number one would have loved to be the first to crunch beneath her feet, but also, and this is the reason why every Potions class was a living hell, because of… our hero number two. Absolutely.
Perhaps, in order to avoid completely losing our reader, we should introduce our heroes number one to four more thoroughly. So be it.
We shall be gallant and begin with the ladies. Our heroine number one is named Lucy McMaratha. She is, as is every one of our main characters, a Hufflepuff seventh-year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Let’s be immediately clear: like Cedric Diggory proved it in his time, the Hufflepuff House is not, contrary to major opinion, the House that accepts the without-Houses. Hufflepuffs are fundamentally lively, loyal, clever, brave people – and no less than Ravenclaws, Slytherins or Gryffindors. They have too many qualities, so it is impossible for the Sorting Hat to sort them in any of the other three Houses.
Now that this is set, let’s continue. Lucy McMaratha is a lively, loyal and clever – a little more than average – and brave – a little less than average – girl, like every Hufflepuff. She compensates this last tiny fault with a strong personality and a witty tongue which allows her to favour her fellow students with her friendship or her ire (depending on her choice and her mood), and her famous sense of humour. She has pretty, curly and quite short brown hair, and just as pretty brown eyes, whatever she would say about them.
Our heroine number two answers to the lovely name of Guinevere Crowe. She possesses the same Hufflepuff qualities, but is braver than average – she is not, for example, afraid of spiders or drafts of wind in the night. She is just as clever – or maybe even more than – her best friend Lucy. Her magnificent hair is long, wavy and a colour that hesitates between blond and pale red, it could never really decide – it’s commonly known as strawberry blond. She is not, of course, wearing any strawberries on her head, lest her very British ancestors be appalled. Her eyes are a dark grey-blue, the colour of the Atlantic Ocean on a stormy night. She is quite shy with strangers, but once you get to know her, she reveals her true personality: indeed, she is very talkative and very funny.
These two qualities – yes, qualities – are what brought the two friends together in the first place. Our heroines met for the first time during a Defence against the Dark Arts lesson, in their first year. They had to disarm their partners with the Expelliarmus spell. Guinevere, Muggle-born, and Lucy, Pure-Blood but who didn’t know any Hufflepuff first-years, had partnered up. Neither of them was any good, and all they managed to do with their wands were a few sparks. Guinevere’s were a beautiful electric blue, and Lucy’s were red. This trivial observation made them laugh even more when they noticed that Guinevere’s blue lightning bolts persisted in forming birds singing on a cherry tree branch. She was undeniably a witch.
This first lesson gave way to their first conversation, which hadn’t ever really stopped. It had just changed subjects an unaccountable number of times, following the girls discoveries. It had now been lasting seven years, deepening their friendship, getting around the inevitable but rare fights – oh, nothing much, mixing up the shower schedule, eating the last pumpkin pie, borrowing the favourite book when one wanted to read it again… – and being particularly ferocious when an intruder dared to approach one of the girls without the other’s permission.
Of course, our two heroines didn’t live all by themselves in the big Hogwarts castle. They had learned to know, appreciate, and even estimate a number of their fellow students, all Houses and years together. And obviously, they showed some preferences for a few persons. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and instead meet our heroes, if you would.
Our hero number one’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Paleron, named him Kenneth. He is a quite joyous young man, with brown hair and admirable blue eyes. These eyes particularly brighten when he sees some of the Hogwarts students, including one of our female heroines, even if he refuses to admit it. But this girl’s company doesn’t just brighten his eyes because his whole behaviour changes unconsciously when she’s near him. One day, Kenneth would understand and admit that this young lady improved every day of his seven years of studies at Hogwarts. It was even possible – probable – that Kenneth’s every progress and every achievement was thanks to the lady of his heart who showed him a bright and happy future. To cut a long story short, Kenneth was in love. The only drawback was that he hadn’t noticed it.
Our hero number two is named Jasper Byron. He is what you might call a very jolly fellow, whose blue eyes sparkle with laughter every minute of every day. His hair is blond and has the particularity to fall charmingly on his forehead. His sense of humour withstood all of the professors’, Prefects’ and Hogwarts caretaker’s attempts to crush it, to their great distress. Please also note that, given that Lucy McMaratha is the Hufflepuff Headgirl, Jasper Byron has been giving her a hard time for three years now. But, to be honest, this rivalry didn’t date back to their fifth year but their second Potions class of their first year, seven years ago.
Before coming back to the beginning – the hell of Potions classes, thanks to Jasper Byron –, let’s introduce the rest of the Hufflepuffs seven-years, since they are our secondary main characters. Guinevere’s, Lucy’s, Kenneth’s and Jasper’s fellow Hufflepuffs are Jake Marot, Robin Bane, Warren Scott, Eryn Clarke, Anidori Dango and Evangeline Page. And finally, our last main characters are Savannah Cohen, a Ravenclaw sixth-year, and Finn Frederic, a Slytherin seventh-year. Yes, in this story, we fight prejudice: not all Slytherins are monsters. And no, there isn’t a Gryffondor main character. Deal with it or leave now.
Lucy was standing in the Hufflepuff tower window, and envied the second-year students who didn’t have class during the next period. She was trying to close her bag with one hand while winding her scarf around her neck to protect herself against the ice-cold drafts in the castle corridors. She sighed.
“What is it?” Guinevere asked surprised.
“Oh, don’t act like you don’t know”, Lucy said. She was beginning to panic.
“Oh, you mean Potions class, where your partner will be Jasper, like every Potions class for seven years? I wonder why you’re stressed out”, her – false – best friend said ironically.
“Shut up, Guinevere.”
“Come on, don’t be like that!”
Guinevere seized her best friend’s shoulder and hugged her sympathetically. Lucy knew Guinevere really liked Jasper. The reverse was also true. She was the only one with whom it didn’t go that way, and she didn’t understand why. Since the first time they met, Jasper Byron had dedicated his life to making hers a living hell – or at least, he tried, ferociously and with every ounce of his will.
Oh, well… only a few months left and Lucy would at last be rid of the inconvenient Hufflepuff. He would be one of the few at Hogwarts she wouldn’t miss. She flung her bag on her shoulder, put her arm through Guinevere’s, and followed her to the dungeons.
“I can’t wait for tonight!” Anidori said while joining the two friends on their way out of the Common Room.
“Tell me about it! Christmas break, at last”, Eryn sighed. She was never far away from her friend.
“And the ball!” Evangeline added, appearing to Lucy’s left side.
The five girls laughed.
“Can’t you think of anything else?” Eryn said, smiling.
“Methinks she’s thinking about her partner more than the ball itself”, Anidori said.
“Why shouldn’t she?” Guinevere said. “Finn’s amazing.”
“Hmm, not as amazing as Kenneth”, Lucy said thoughtfully.
Guinevere’s cheeks reddened, but she maintained that Finn was a charming young man. Then she tried to put up a good show by defending her own partner and added that Warren was very nice and considerate.
You shouldn’t be surprised: a majority of Hufflepuffs seventh-years would go to the ball that evening with other seventh-years. What did you expect? In a seventeen-year-old girl’s mind, it is very strange to be dancing a whole evening with a boy two-year younger. There were exceptions, of course, but they were rare. And so the couples had been formed in their closest friends group. Guinevere would go to the ball with Warren, Lucy with Kenneth, Eryn with Jake, Evangeline was ecstatic to spend the evening with Finn, Savannah, their Ravenclaw friend, would go with Robin, and finally, Anidori would have to stand Jasper during the whole party.
All the girls in the school, and some of the boys, were entranced with the biggest event of the end of the year. The last lessons of the day would be hard. Especially Potions… Lucy sighed again. During a short but blissful moment, she had forgotten where she was going. A third sigh caught the attention of Anidori who looked at Guinevere for answers. Guinevere made a face, a hand gesture and the girls, intrigued by the silent conversation, understood. They all sighed, causing the ghost of an elegant lady in a medieval dress to flutter away and call them names. The Hufflepuffs apologized abundantly and ran to their classroom before being late.
The professor was already there when they came in, giggling. He shot them a murderous look, which reminded Lucy of the third reason to why she didn’t like Potions classes: Kalinski, the worst teacher in the history of Hogwarts. He seemed to have gotten up on the wrong foot, and having chocked on a cactus, too. On those days, one would be better off being very discreet: Kalinsky would be even more prompt to furiously persecute his students.
The girls took their places and got their ingredients out of their bags. Lucy walked slowly to her bench where Jasper Byron was already waiting for her, a mocking smile on his lips. He opened his mouth but fortunately couldn’t utter a word: Kalinski had decided it was time to begin.
“Very well, you lazy lumps, let’s see what you’re capable of!” he barked in his usual voice. “Today, you will try to concoct what everybody knows is one of the most difficult potions in the world. Who can tell me what it is?”
A few hands shot up, especially among the Ravenclaws with whom the Hufflepuffs shared the lesson.
“Mr. Hall”, Kalinski said, turning towards a tall redhead Ravenclaw.
“The Forti Fidelis, professor.”
“That’s correct, Mr. Hall. Some of you may not be complete morons after all. And what is its use, Miss Clarke?”
Eryn, whose hand wasn’t up, spoke with some hesitation. “It’s the world’s most potent love potion… because it doesn’t have an antidote?”
“Hmpf… correct”, Kalinski said reluctantly. “The making of this potion takes almost two hours, so don’t dawdle because you’ll need the whole lesson to finish.”
Kalinski snapped his fingers and the recipe appeared on the blackboard – rumour had it was a Potions master thing. Lucy pulled a face while reading the instructions for the Forti Fidelis. This wasn’t going to be easy… She muttered something resembling “I’d rather put Byron’s head in the fire than make a love potion with him”, but Kalinski’s look dissuaded her from doing so. She turned to Jasper who was trying to hide a grin by running his hand through his hair, no doubt to make sure it was standing on its end.
“Take that stupid smile off your face, Byron”, she hissed.
“Am I mistaken”, he said, beaming, “or are you unhappy to be working with me?”
“No kidding”, Lucy sighed.
The sudden disappointment in Jasper’s eyes surprised Lucy. She stared at him, intrigued, but didn’t understand how this chagrined look could coexist with the mischievousness sparkling in his eyes. However, two hours from the holidays, and with the perspective of having to make this ghastly potion, she really didn’t want to try understanding Jasper Byron’s strange brain functions.
“Please, Jasper”, she asked, trying to be nice. “I ask for a truce during this wretched class. I don’t want to get a bad grade if we fail.”
“Your wish is my command, madam!” he said happily, but in a low voice for Kalinski was scanning the benches. “That’s all I ever wanted…” he added, even lower.
Lucy sighed. She wasn’t up to starting a fight now. She flashed a quick look at the blackboard. “Give me the butterfly scales”, she said.
Jasper held out the pot filled with a pretty shimmering powder. She poured a quarter of a spoon in their cauldron while stirring the potion anti-clockwise. Jasper added four and a half drops of bowbridgeseed extract (this had the effect of making one see life quite literally through rose-coloured glasses with constantly amazed eyes) then seventeen daisy petals while Lucy continued to stir the potion, which was its biggest problem: it had to be stirred all the while. This meant there would be a person allotted to this activity for two hours. Lucy told it to Jasper who gallantly offered to take her place when she’d had enough. She gawped at him, open-mouthed. Byron’s behaviour was utterly strange, today…
“While you’re stirring, I’ll cut the woodard roots. What’s next?”
“Page, Blunt, are you trying to poison somebody?” Kalinski screeched suddenly, making the whole class jump.
Lucy, without forgetting to stir the potion – her arm was beginning to ache, by the way –, pivoted and saw pretty apple-green bubbles rising from Evangeline’s and Isaya Blunt’s cauldron.
“Of course you added the bowbridgeseed extract at the seventeenth minute, and not at sixteen minutes and fifty-nine seconds”, the professor snarled, bending over their cauldron. “What a bunch of idiots!”
He muttered to himself and made the potion vanish with a flick of his wand. He then returned to his desk where he scribbled something looking like a zero in a notebook. Jasper flashed a sorry look to Evangeline who seemed about to cry, and Lucy gave the two girls a sympathetic smile. She poured twelve Queen of Hearts red roses seeds in the cauldron, and then motioned to her friends to come and see their potion making. At least they would be doing something interesting for the remaining of the lesson.
“Put the roots in, now!” Lucy said to Jasper.
“Quickly, or the potion’s ruined!”
“There”, Byron said, pouring the contents of this plate in the boiling potion whose colour immediately changed to an appealing orange.
“What’s wrong with your finger? Did you cut yourself?” Lucy asked when she saw Jasper’s hand from which a trickle of blood ran towards the cauldron.
“It’s this stupid teacher’s fault. He scared me and the knife slipped.”
“Err, I don’t think blood is an ingredient for this potion. Put your hand away and stop the bleeding or you’re gonna lose all your blood.”
She chuckled, searched her pocket for a tissue and handed it to Jasper. He wrapped it around his finger.
“Here, since you can’t use your arm, stir the potion, I’ll take over.”
Evangeline and Isaya were talking in a low voice while watching the two Hufflepuffs’ potion which slowly took form. It was a beautiful golden now. Lucy dropped the wild cherry tree seeds (which had the advantage of giving the potion a good taste) and the graposarett juice in the cauldron. The Forti Fidelis was almost done, and Lucy hadn’t yet had a craving of dipping Jasper in a corrosive product one shouldn’t touch, lest one lose a piece of something important like an arm or a head. What a progress! If they kept it up, they would even be having civilized conversations one day!
Lucy checked the blackboard one last time, put the last ingredient (eight fairy tears) in the potion, motioned for Jasper to stop stirring and put the fire out. Six minutes to the end of the lesson. They had finished just in time.
Her good mood vanished when she saw that the tissue around Jasper’s finger was drenched with blood. He was failing to hide the pain.
“What the…” Lucy began and she grabbed his hand. “Why didn’t you tell me it was so deep?”
“Don’t bother. It’s okay”. He tried to take his hand back.
“It’s not okay. Let me see!” Lucy ordered with a voice that wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Reluctantly, Jasper showed her his injury. Lucy gasped. “Well, you didn’t pull any punches, did you? You should see the nurse.”
“I’ll go to the hospital wing later. Can I have my hand back, please? Kalinski’s coming.”
Lucy let go of him and discreetly wiped her blood-soaked hands. She shuddered in retrospect at the thought of Jasper’s injury. It was strange because she wasn’t really afraid of wounds or blood, but she tried to keep a blank face for the teacher.
“Miss McMaratha, Mr. Byron, show me this love potion of yours”, Kalinski snarled.
He bent towards their cauldron, noted the colour of the Forti Fidelis – silver like the moon on a summer night –, stirred it to see if there were any lumps, looked disappointed to be unable to grade them badly like he’d done for Evangeline, and moved away, muttering “Good job”. Lucy and Jasper exchanged a look and snickered. She was sure these few words had been torture for Kalinski.
The tragedy happened at the same time the bell rang, announcing the end of the class. Lucy was getting up to store away the unused ingredients in the cupboard at the back of the class. Jasper was filling a big bottle with their potion. Evangeline and Isaya were going back to their table to collect their bags.
Everything happened very quickly. Isaya was already far away when Evangeline, going around Jasper, tripped on his bag. Naturally, she grabbed the first thing she could to steady herself: Jasper himself. Surprised, he tried to hold the Hufflepuff back and dropped everything else: Lucy’s tissue, the dipper and the bottle of Forti Fidelis. He caught Evangeline just before she hit her head against the boiling hot cauldron and yelled when his injured finger rubbed against the girl’s arm. With a spontaneous reflex, he let go of Evangeline’s right shoulder, and she slipped on the dipper which had fallen on the floor, pulling Jasper with her. His foot kicked the bottle which had miraculously survived until then, and it shattered against the foot of the table.
The most potent love potion in the world scattered on the stone floor, spraying everything within a twenty inches radius.
The other students could only watch the incident, helpless. Lucy and Isaya, closest to Jasper and Evangeline, were thunderstruck. The strangest thing was happening: Evangeline, who everyone knew had only had eyes for Finn for years, was now staring at Jasper with a love-struck look – absolutely nauseating, Lucy thought.
Moreover, Byron, after blinking four or five times, was now considering Evangeline with a tender and seductive smile. Lucy, despite a sense of deep jealousy at the sight – why was she feeling that way? – rushed to the two students, followed by all their friends. Kenneth grabbed Jasper under the arms and tried to get him up while Anidori and Eryn did the same with Evangeline. But she didn’t seem to care, and struggled hard against those who wanted to keep her away from her “beloved”. Guinevere’s eyes widened with amusement. The boys were less tactful: they burst out laughing. Warren, the tallest and strongest, rushed to their aid, and the two new lovebirds were soon standing. Jasper didn’t look away from Evangeline, and she would have thrown herself onto him if Warren wasn’t still holding her back.
Lucy kept silent. Her friends thought the joke very funny, congratulated Jasper with lots of claps on his back, asked Evangeline for the wedding date, Lucy only wanted one thing: to run away. But she had forgotten Kalinski whose attention was drawn to the kerfuffle like a wasp to a wild strawberry jam jar, and was now striding towards them. He clutched at Robin’s collar, asking – yelling would be more exact – what was happening. Anidori was tacitly appointed volunteer to explain the situation, which she did without further ado.
At the end of the tale, Lucy could have sworn she saw Kalinski hide a smirk. Though she rapidly changed her mind: the Potions master claimed that they were all a bunch of cods, tartar sauce style, that the potion’s effects would disappear the next day, and that the Hufflepuffs had better watch their shallow-brained friends if they didn’t care to become uncles and aunts soon. Then he shooed them off and shut the door in Kenneth’s face – he was asking for an antidote.
“There is no antidote to the Forti Fidelis, remember?” Guinevere said. “That’s what makes it so powerful.”
“You mean we have to stand this until tomorrow?” Jake moaned. He was manhandling Jasper with both hands to stop him from running to Evangeline.
“We’re gonna need some help, if that’s the case”, Robin breathed hard. He was handling the Evangeline the same way.
He was right: Jasper suddenly drove his elbow in his friend’s ribs. Jake panted noisily and let go of him. Jasper ran to Evangeline but luckily, Warren was standing guard. He crushed Jasper’s foot in retaliation and held Jasper’s arms firmly behind his back.
“Let go!” Jasper moaned.
“No way”, Eryn said firmly. “Evangeline, you’re coming with us. You guys take Jasper as far away as possible until tonight, okay?”
“And leave him alone under no pretext!” Guinevere added.
“Yes. Jasper’s clever enough to fool all of you”, Anidori assured them.
Jasper deigned to look flattered, just before struggling again to get to his beloved. Lucy thought he was becoming more ridiculous by the minute. She was comforted in her opinion when Finn and Savannah joined them in the corridor. Finn said hello to everyone with his eternal beam. Every Hufflepuff greeted him back, except for Evangeline who didn’t even look at him. This was so unusual that Finn, yet absolutely indifferent to the love the young girl bore for him – once upon a time –, looked wounded and disappointed. Savannah, surprised, asked what was happening, and Guinevere summed it up. The young Ravenclaw laughed heartily, as did, with some strain, the Slytherin who was still staring at Evangeline with stunned eyes.
“Morgana’s flowery ankle socks!” Kenneth suddenly exclaimed. (Yes, that was one of his favourite sayings.) “We have a big problem!”
“What now?” Guinevere said, startled.
“The Christmas ball is tonight!”
“Err, yeah”, Robin confirmed. “What’s the real problem?”
“You’re holding it”, Kenneth said, pointing.
“Oh. Yes. Indeed.”
Robin, like all his friends, had just realized. Jasper and Evangeline would be impossible to watch during the ball. And it was just as impossible to think about leaving them in their dormitories. Left alone, they would find a way to get to each other, watch them and they’d be depriving someone of a very good evening.
“Their partners will take care of them”, Lucy offered.
“Thank you, but you’re not the one stuck with them!” Anidori protested.
“Dance with Jasper? Certainly not!” Lucy said, horrified.
“I don’t think we have a choice…” Warren said. “We’re going to have to watch them until the potion wears off.”
The Hufflepuffs and their friends closed their eyes, dreading the future.
Lucy said again with her usual ardour: “Well, if they try to get close to each other, we’ll just have to knock them out and sit on them.”
If this sentence didn’t have all the expected result (which was to reassure Anidori and Finn, the lovebirds partners), it had at least the merit of making them laugh. Jake and Robin swore they wouldn’t have to resolve to such extremities. Finn, more realistic, looked at the two lovers, grinned at Lucy and promised her to bring a bludgeon to the party.
You may be wondering about Jasper’s injured finger. Don’t worry, it hadn’t been forgotten. Lucy asked Warren to escort Byron to the hospital wing. Jasper slammed on the breaks, refusing to go, but Lucy shot him her best Headgirl-look while pointing at the corridor with an adamant forefinger. Even a crazy-in-love Jasper Byron was able to understand that look and not want to annoy Lucy McMaratha right now. He beamed at her, nodded his head in agreement, and smiled even more when she looked amazed. Warren and Jasper then disappeared at the end of the corridor.
Guinevere was watching Lucy who was watching Jasper. The boys had been back in the Hufflepuff Common Room for a few minutes, after Robin had carefully popped his head through the door to make sure they wouldn’t come across Evangeline. Thankfully, Eryn and Anidori, far-sighted, had taken her – dragged her – to the Great Hall an hour earlier than usual with Warren and Jake. Without the young girl around, Jasper was back to his usual self. Which meant he told a lot of nonsense, bothered Lucy, read the Daily Prophet like it had been written by Merlin himself on a drunken night, bored Lucy, admired the sunset on the snow through the south south-west window of Hufflepuff tower, laughed at a joke, teased Lucy, etc.
And between two cutting remarks to Lucy, Lucy watched Jasper. Oh, don’t get any ideas, she wasn’t staring at him amorously, or tenderly, or sadly, or desperately. Her eyes were black and shooting Avada Kedavras.
Jasper, unconscious of the coming danger, continued to chat: “I told you countless of times, Gwen, don’t talk to weirdoes.”
“I talk to you, and you’re the weirdest of them all.”
“That’s not nice!” Jasper complained.
“But it’s true”, Kenneth said.
“You too?” Jasper sighed, perfectly mimicking Caesar in front of the traitor Brutus.
“What?” his friend said, surprised. “Don’t you dare say otherwise!”
Jasper looked outraged, and then said smugly: “I will show indulgence and leniency, mere mortals. After all, I’m far superior to all of you; therefore I have to spare you.”
“Wow, that many words in the same sentence…” Lucy hissed. “Did you get a brain transplant lately?”
Although this was very petty, everybody laughed merrily. Jasper was definitely vexed and decided to remain silent for at least… ten seconds, to teach his friends not to make fun of him.
Then the girls glided away to get dressed, in spite of the boys’ jeers. Guinevere claimed they had to be worthy of their reputation, and on this very mysterious declaration for male minds, they disappeared in the girls dormitory. Anidori, Eryn and Evangeline joined them a few minutes later. By a happy coincidence – named Warren –, they hadn’t met the boys – meaning Jasper – on the way.
The male sex cowardly left alone, the true events could begin. The dormitory soon transformed into a real battlefield, strewn with clothes, hairbrushes and hairclips, jewels and panicked girls. I’ll spare you the typically female talks which happened during this crazy time – “What do I do with my hair?” “Where’s my dress?” “Eryn! Get out of the bathroom now!”, etc. – and continue.
However, to content our fashion amateurs – for the others, let’s meet a few lines down –, here is a short presentation of our heroines’ outfits. The usual comments, followed with round eyes and big smiles, burst forth during this small fashion show: “You’re beautiful”, “That’s it, I look awful”, and other rejoicing phrases.
Anidori was wearing a really beautiful turquoise sari, with a rust-and-gold embroidered piece. It was artfully wrapped around her waist and neglectfully thrown over her shoulder. I forgot to mention: Anidori was Hindi, and had beautiful black eyes and long hair which she had braided. A stack of bracelets jingled at her wrists with a delicate melody accompanying this graceful apparition.
Eryn sported a replica of a dress Cleopatra could have worn to a royal banquet with the emperor Caesar aforementioned. The pleated fabric fell down to her ankles, she was wearing a wide gold necklace and a gold circle maintained her chestnut hair into place.
Lucy was wearing a lovely strapless dress, quite simple, but that was the best part about it. The old rose of the bustier made her dark eyes and hair stand out, the cream white skirt flared out to her knees and a large belt with the same embroidered arabesques marked her waist. She had let her curly hair down and was wearing a pretty silver necklace.
Evangeline was striking. No doubt Jasper wouldn’t be able to take his eyes off her the whole evening. (Admittedly, she could have worn a potato sack and it wouldn’t have changed a thing, but still.) Her Empire-style white silk dress was enhanced with a purple and silver ribbon and an amethyst pendant which was the same delicate colour as her curious purple-blue eyes.
The door to the bathroom opened. Guinevere appeared, wearing a piece of art: a light-green bustier, festooned with pink and golden flowers and a vaporous skirt which foamed around her legs. The ample sleeves let her shoulders bare and were tied at the wrists with an interlacing of pink and gold ribbons. Her thick blond hair was tied in a loose bun from which a few locks were falling freely on her back and around her face.
This vision momentarily disconnected the four other girls’ neurons. Then, open-mouthed, they circled Guinevere like bees around a pretty flower, admiring the details of the stitches, the ribbons and the hairstyle.
“Look at you! Wait until Ffmmmmeth…” Lucy whispered to Guinevere before being gagged by an imperious hand.
“You’re talking nonsense, and stop saying his name”, Guinevere whispered back.
“What should I call him? Ffmmmmeth?”
Guinevere didn’t have time to answer: Anidori was exulting. “I’m telling you, the gentlemen are gonna have a heart attack!’
“Are we going down?” Evangeline asked, her eyes twinkling.
“Wait a minute!” Eryn interrupted.
She clutched Evangeline’s arm and made sure she knew there wasn’t any way Evangeline should even try to begin to maybe think that perhaps she could hypothetically talk to Jasper. When Eryn was certain Evangeline had completely understood, she agreed to leave the room.
Their descent to the entrance didn’t go amiss. Tharsille McLeod, a Ravenclaw sixth-year, saw Eryn and Anidori first. Her jaw fell down and her partner turned to see what was disrupting her so much. He mimicked his companion and lost his voice. One by one, every person in the Hall pivoted towards the stairs and the crowd fell silent. Meanwhile, the other girls had arrived downstairs, and the sight of all these beauties looking for theirs partners remained engraved in the Hogwarts students’ and teachers’ memories for many years.
The first to regain the use of his legs was Jake. He was wearing very elegant dark-blue dress robes and bowed before Eryn, stammering something like “You’re splendid…” She flashed him a smile to make sure he was definitely raptured. This awakened the other Hufflepuffs who came to their partners, and scattered the crowd. Robin had a hard time persuading Jasper to take Anidori’s arm instead of Evangeline’s. Luckily, Finn came to the rescue and pulled Evangeline away. He seemed incredulous while looking at the gorgeous Hufflepuff, and couldn’t take his eyes off her. Guinevere had a quite sad smile. In her normal state, Evangeline would have been radiant to see that, but tonight she didn’t even seem to notice…
Kenneth, living embodiment of surprise, his mouth open, gaped at Lucy then Anidori then Guinevere, lingered on the latter, then came to his senses and bowed to Lucy. “You look lovely!” he said.
“Thanks!” She smiled. “You’re very handsome yourself”.
And indeed, there was nothing to dither about, Kenneth was very handsome. He was wearing a white shirt, pants, and a red jacket with yellow and golden diamond shapes was draped around his shoulders. He gestured, and a rose appeared, which he gave to Lucy.
“Show off”! she grinned, burrowing her nose in the flower.
Meanwhile, Warren was talking to Guinevere, but she wasn’t really listening. She was too busy staring at a certain young man… And then Savannah, who had just arrived, greeted her and Guinevere had to look away, reluctantly. Robin gallantly offered his arm to the young Ravenclaw, complimented her on her dress – Greek style, red, with a Greek key frieze – and the last two couples joined their friends who had took over a table.
The professors were already sitting in the middle of the Great Hall. Guinevere smiled broadly and waved at her favourite teacher, Mlle Clément. She had been the Divination teacher for time immemorial: the former deputy director, Remus Lupin, had recruited her when she was still very young. She wasn’t so young now… but her lessons were the favourites of a lot of Hogwarts students. Tonight she was sporting an elegant twenties dress and a plumed headband in her hair, which only added to her nice grandmother look. Professor Clément responded to Guinevere by yelling a merry “Hello” which made her neighbour, Nicholas Galvan, the Charms professor, cringe and discreetly rub his left ear.
The Great Hall was splendid. Magical ice crystals sparkled on every wall, huge stalagmites decked the corners of the room, and nine enormous Christmas trees covered in snow circled a stage. Standing on it was a complete orchestra, waiting for the Director’s, Professor Lockerbie, signal to begin playing. When the students noticed it was THE Musical Boggarts, the latest band à la mode, fanatic shouts rose.
For once, girls didn’t have to push boys to dance: perhaps it was magical – which was certainly possible since we were in the wizarding world – but everybody without exception liked the Musical Boggarts. Even Mlle Clément was standing. She was twisting on the rock music – strange mix, but the show was pretty because Mlle Clément was a wonderful dancer. Professor Lockerbie had immediately pulled the old lady in a mind-blowing twist – the feather in the Divination teacher’s hair was swinging wildly.
After three energetic dances on the Musical Boggarts hits with Warren and two more with Jake and Robin, Guinevere, quite dishevelled and pink-cheeked, went to the buffet to pour herself a glass of redcurrant juice and a plate filled with cold meats and cherry tomato salad, where Lucy joined her. They were commenting everybody’s clothing, and the dancers’ more or less obvious talents when Finn took Lucy away. She made a cheeky grin and blinked at her best friend. Guinevere only understood why when she felt Kenneth’s hand on her shoulder. She blushed lightly under the boy’s broad smile and he asked her to dance.
“With pleasure”, she said, trying to look calm when it was really all she could do not to jump around with glee or beam stupidly at the enchanted ceiling.
She failed the latter but turned it into a chuckle at the sight of her friends’ exploits: Robin and Eryn had just succeeded in making quite a difficult dance step, Anidori swayed on the rhythm with Warren, Jake caught back Savannah whom he had almost thrown spinning through the dance floor, and Finn and Lucy were in the middle of a contest of the fastest steps with the couple next to them.
Kenneth was a wonderful dancer, and Guinevere forgot everything around her. She was conscious only of his hand guiding her, his blue eyes in hers and his enchanted smile. That’s why she realized the obvious only after Kenneth had invited her for a second dance. She went pale and stopped waltzing so abruptly that Patrick Aravis, a Gryffindor fourth-year, bumped into her. Kenneth caught her just before her knees dolorously met the stone floor.
“What? What’s happening?” Kenneth said, concerned.
“Where are Evangeline and Jasper?”
“They’re here…” Kenneth began, before realizing that no, they weren’t. “Hermes’ sandals! Where the hell did they go?”
Despite her slight anxiousness, Guinevere couldn’t help but giggle at her friend’s old-fashioned phrasing. It was one of the things she liked the most about him… She shook her head to set things straight. This was not the time!
She exchanged three words with Kenneth and they decided to let their friends have fun while they would go and find the two lovebirds. It wasn’t worth ruining everyone’s evening. Jasper and Evangeline had probably gone out in the park, which was sumptuously – and romantically – planted with white roses – how they had bloomed in the cold and the snow was the real question. Lanterns shined with a soft golden light and the snow-covered grounds sparkled. Guinevere couldn’t help but sigh, amazed at the beauty of it. Kenneth smiled tenderly and, to Guinevere’s great surprise, he grabbed her hand and ran in the white immaculate snow…
Immaculate? No, for there were tracks. Mixed up and half-erased but tracks indeed, going away from the entrance steps to the distant grounds.
“Must be our Romeo and Juliet”, Kenneth guessed.
“You’re right. It looks even more beautiful down there… The perfect place for a romantic stroll”, Guinevere joked.
She would have loved to be on a romantic stroll right now. Kenneth laughed, agreed, and they continued. They were coming near to a cute little bench hidden behind a thick rosebush when Kenneth suddenly stopped. Guinevere, who wasn’t expecting it, bumped into his back, uttered a groan and made a good amount of white, cold and wet snow fall on their heads. It was all she could do not to yell.
“Shhh!” Kenneth murmured, ducking and seizing her arm so she would do the same.
“What is it?”
Kenneth didn’t answer. He shook the snow off his hair and pointed at something – someone – coming closer to the two lovers, tenderly embracing on the bench. Someone Guinevere knew very well…
“Line, Byron! What are you doing here?” Lucy yelled furiously.
“Wow… She doesn’t look happy”, Kenneth whispered in Guinevere’s ear, laughing.
“Are you cold?” he worried.
“Err… A little”, Guinevere said.
She couldn’t very well tell Kenneth she shivered at his very presence, could she? And it wasn’t even a lie: the snow was cold, and she hadn’t managed to take it all off before it slipped onto her back. Kenneth grinned, took off his jacket and draped it around the girl’s shoulders, then bent to listen to the rest of the conversation. Guinevere fastened the jacket around her and did the same.
“…forbid you both to take off alone!” Lucy was screaming.
“Your phrasing is both useless and poorly worded”, Jasper teased, firmly holding Evangeline’s hand. “Technically, we’re not alone since we’re together.”
“That’s not the point!”
Lucy’s cheeks were very red. Guinevere cringed. This was a bad sign…
“I think we should leave Lucy take care of this”, Kenneth whispered suddenly. “Come on, let’s skedaddle.”
“Are you sure? Perhaps we should help…”
“No, look, Finn’s coming to the rescue.”
Indeed, the young Slytherin was striding towards the three friends. Guinevere nodded. She and Kenneth discreetly got away while Lucy uttered threats against Byron. On the way, Guinevere saw Finn dragging Jasper away, and Lucy, slightly piqued, comforting Evangeline who was crying her eyes out. Kenneth laughed.
“Don’t worry, everything will be back to normal tomorrow morning! And some things may even be better off…” he added with a cheeky grin.
“Whatever do you mean?” Guinevere asked, surprised.
“Well…” Kenneth began, raking a hand through his hair, his grin an embarrassed one now. “I have… how can I say… Finn… looked quite…”
“Oh!” Guinevere laughed. “Yes, Finn does look…”
She didn’t finish her sentence and exchanged a smile with her friend. Kenneth, eyes twinkling, took her back inside and invited her to dance again to “keep warm after the snow”. Guinevere agreed enthusiastically. Every person in the room seemed to be on the dance floor when the first notes of “Oh Sphinx, my neighbour”, the Musical Boggarts’s last hit, sounded in the air.
At the end of the song, Guinevere, Kenneth and Jasper met at the buffet. Jasper was beaming like an idiot and uttering a string of romance about his one and only love: “She’s the most enchanting damsel in the world. She has the most exquisite way of saying my name… Every time, my heart skips a beat.”
“Merlin”, said Kenneth, alarmed. “He’s farther gone than I imagined.”
“It’s cute”, Guinevere said, laughing.
“… You’re very pretty when you laugh. You should take advantage of it”, Kenneth muttered suddenly without daring to look her in the eye.
Guinevere became a rather interesting shade of pink-red and muttered a shy “thank you”. Kenneth bent quickly and pecked her cheek. Then, his face matching Guinevere’s, he disappeared and invited Eryn to dance. Intrigued by the wonder and the happiness on Guinevere’s face, Jasper suddenly stopped his speech on love and asked her: “What are you smiling like that for?”
“No reason!” Guinevere answered.
But she couldn’t take her eyes off the dancing Kenneth, and Jasper didn’t fail to notice.
“Ah”, he laughed. “No reason. I see.”
And, still laughing, he offered his arm to Guinevere, leading her into a spinning waltz.
“I want hot chocolate, fire in the chimney, sleds and snow fights…” Jake was explaining to Robin and Guinevere.
“I’m okay with snow fights, but sled fights, and fire-in-the-chimney fights? That is not a good idea”, Robin joked in Guinevere’s ear, lough enough for everybody to hear him.
“You think you’re bloody funny, eh?”
Jake tousled his friend’s hair in retribution. Guinevere was laughing at Robin’s struggles when Lucy came back into the Great Hall, following Evangeline. At once, Finn strode on to her while Eryn took ownership of Jasper’s arm. Apparently the word had spread. But, to everyone’s astonishment, Evangeline dedicated a marvellous smile to her Slytherin friend – who tripped on his hem – and pulled him on the dance floor without a single look to her beloved… The others all stared at Lucy, stunned, like she had the answer. She merely shrugged.
“Don’t look at me! She was devastated and all of a sudden she got up, asked what she was doing there, said she wanted to dance and rushed here.”
“How…” Warren began. “Jasper, are you okay?”
“I’m swell! Remind me why you’re all looking at me like that?”
“Well, your one and only just dumped you to go dancing with Finn”, Robin joked. “Doesn’t it break your poor little heart?”
“My one and only? Evangeline? Who told you that?”
This sentence had the strangest consequence: everybody turned to Jasper, open-mouthed and eyes wide.
“What?” asked Jasper impatiently.
“You dare ask what?” Jake exclaimed, outraged. After all the bruises you gave me!”
“Err, Jake…” Anidori hesitated. “I think he doesn’t remember…”
Lucy took a step closer to Jasper and looked him in the eye. “Byron, if this is a joke, it’s a bad one.”
“For crying out loud, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” he protested, brows furrowed.
“Ten minutes ago, you were promising her love and fidelity until death do you part, and now you’re saying you don’t know what we’re talking about?” Kenneth said, rebelling.
“I wasn’t talking about Evangeline. Come on! Why do you want me to love her?”
The look on everyone’s face right now was worth a picture, but unfortunately, Lucy didn’t have a camera.
Kenneth continued suspiciously: “Who were you talking about, then?”
Byron stared at him, clearly stating “Are you kidding me? You bloody well know!” but, to Lucy’s great frustration, Kenneth was the only one who understood. His eyes widened and he grinned. “Ohh. Yes, I see. So it was her, hmm?” He shook his head, laughing quietly.
“Now I get why you didn’t hit me on the head if you all thought I was in love with Line. But how did this absurd idea occur to you?” Jasper insisted.
Lucy was volunteering to hit him if he wanted to. She didn’t understand a thing about the boys’ exchange, and it was driving her crazy. Who were they talking about? To whom did Jasper declare his undying love with complete impunity? But Lucy was glad she held back on the hitting when she saw Byron’s face at the Forti Fidelis tale. Although… the first shock gone, Jasper’s expression was of the most insufferable amusement. Lucy was incandescent with rage. This story was going to get to Jasper’s head and no doubt he would be even more intolerable than usual the next day!
Anidori intervened all of a sudden. She thought she knew the reason to Evangeline’s and Jasper’s memory loss: Kalinski had said the potion’s effect would end on the next day… All at the same time, they turned to the clock hanging over the double doors. Twelve twenty-one: it was the next day. For lack of anything better, they admitted Anidori was probably right, and decided to forget the event, at least for tonight – let it not be said that they wouldn’t tease the former lovebirds for some time… like a few decades.
As if to approve their decision and push them to have fun, a flash of silvery lights, something between white flames and the sparkling of a farandole of fireworks, burst on the scene. The students, teachers and ghosts all sighed in wonder. Soon, following Warren and Anidori, and Finn and Evangeline who didn’t seem to want to stop dancing since she had gotten back to the Great Hall, everyone resumed spinning on the dance floor – the song “It was a blabbery Boggart” was very enticing.
“This looks like a very bad joke…” Lucy said as she watched her last resort, Robin, inviting Eryn and leaving her alone with Jasper.
Robin winked roguishly at her and Lucy frowned. No way was she dancing with Byron! She’d rather invite Preston Door, a Ravenclaw fifth-year who had a reputation of dislocating his – not very numerous – partners’ shoulders. But she didn’t have the time to carry her plan out: Jasper was turning to her hesitantly.
“Don’t even think about it, or I’m doing your face over puzzle-way”, she growled.
“What? Afraid I’m gonna step on your feet?” Jasper tried, but his joke fell down flat: Lucy didn’t even deign to smile one bit. “For God’s sake, Lucy, don’t you think this has gone on long enough? We’re not kids anymore!”
“Look who’s talking”, she snapped.
Jasper observed her with sad eyes and said: “That’s it. I’ve had enough… Don’t you want to be friends?”
And he held out his hand with a candid and open look on his face. Lucy stared at him, incredulous.
“You don’t have to dance with me! But I’d like to stop our little war. It’s becoming ridiculous, don’t you think?”
“Tell me, Byron…”
“And we could use our first names, too. After seven years…”
“Hum… All right. Jasper. Promise me this isn’t one of your jokes, and I’m not gonna regret it tomorrow.”
“I promise,” he said, looking her straight in the eye.
He held out his hand again. Lucy hesitated for a little longer, then shook it. Jasper beamed. His happy face was perfectly ridiculous, if you asked Lucy, but it was strangely contagious. Soon, she couldn’t resist any more and she flashed a smile at him – a real one this time.
“At last!” Jasper exclaimed, throwing his arms in the air. “A smile! Hallelujah!”
“Come on, it’s not that amazing.”
“That’s what you think! But I’ll admit, what would really be amazing is…”
He stopped long enough for Lucy, despite all her pride, to really want to know what would be so incredible.
“What?” she asked impatiently.
Jasper didn’t answer. He just grinned mysteriously – and slightly worryingly –, then bowed and said: “Fair maiden, would you do me the extreme honour of sharing this dance with me?”
“I hope you’re kidding,” Lucy chocked.
“Absolutely not. I love this song, and I promise I won’t step on your feet.”
“Don’t you think you’re pushing your luck? I’ve only just accepted to bury the hatchet and…”
“I’m pushing, absolutely. I’m abusing my luck while I can. Please, Lucy, I’d really like that. And I’ve danced with everybody, Gwen, Line, Eryn, Ani and Savannah. I have to invite you too. Please.”
“Pathetic”, Lucy thought. But after a declaration like that, she couldn’t very well say no, could she? And there was so much hope in Jasper’s eyes… With a sigh, she accepted the held-out hand. Jasper looked so perfectly happy Lucy – almost – didn’t regret saying yes. She half-expected him to do something childish and scandalous, like skipping or jumping with joy. But, apart from showing all his teeth and bouncing on his tiptoes, he didn’t do anything humiliating.
However, Lucy spotted her – so-called – friends… They were watching Lucy and Jasper get to the centre of the dancing floor with fond eyes. Lucy groaned silently and pretended she hadn’t seen. Just a tough moment and it would soon be over…
The song was beautiful indeed: the tune was nice, pretty fast, and the singer’s voice was incredible. And when, on the first note of the chorus, Jasper seized his new friend’s waist and guided her through the steps, Lucy opened her eyes wide and, stunned, could only think “Merlin’s beard, he’s an amazing dancer!!” A gigantic smile bloomed on her lips, which ravished Jasper who burst out laughing and whirled her even faster on the next line. Lucy was really happy to have accepted the dance now, and while they were at it, could the song last forever, please?
The next step brought her spinning back in her partner’s arms, and he hold her against him. Lucy didn’t understand why her heart took the liberty to chabada bada, but it surely did. Astonished, she gaped at Jasper with huge eyes during the rest of the song. When the last vibration of the last note had faded, he considered her, amused, still holding her fingers.
“Thank you.” Jasper smiled. “You’re a really good dancer.”
“I am? Did you see yourself?” Lucy panted, still taken aback. Her voice sounded like a frog that had been locked too long in a microwave.
“Err… no. I’ve tried but never succeeded”, he joked.
Lucy laughed heartily and continued: “I know chamber pots cleverer than you, Jasper.”
“After such a compliment, I can die happy!” he sighed, eyes to the enchanted ceiling.
“Idiot!” She grinned and shoved him playfully. “But thank you. That was really…”
She couldn’t think of the right word to describe what this dance had made her feel. Pleasure? Happiness? And Jasper was looking into her eyes as if trying to read her mind, which really didn’t help her to focus. And could he let go of her hand now? The feeling of Jasper’s fingers wrapped around hers made her stomach transfigure into a swarm of whirling butterflies, which was quite disturbing.
All of a sudden, howls Apache warriors would be proud of burst behind her, making Lucy jump. She blessed her friends for their timely – for once – outburst and turned towards them to see what the fuss was all about.
She should have known: it was she. Actually, she and Jasper. All of their friends were looking at them with huge smiles, so much so that Lucy’s cheeks reddened. Savannah took her arm and asked mockingly: “So, is it official, then? Is he perfectly perfect?”
“Don’t be stupid”, Lucy growled in a low voice. “It was just a dance.”
“You don’t have to tell me you had a good time”, Savannah whispered delicately. “I can see it in your eyes. I’m absolutely certain you just danced with the most agreeable person in the world for you right now.”
“Savannah! Don’t say rubbish like that! You know full well I don’t like Jasper. I’ve just made up with him, so it was a way of celebrating, that’s all.”
“So, if he were to invite you again, right now, you’d say no?”
“I didn’t say that…”
“For real? Awesome!” a happy voice beside her exclaimed.
Lucy wasn’t expecting it and jumped. It was Jasper… She felt her cheeks get warm again.
“So you’ll dance with me again, then?” he asked, eyes sparkling like a little boy’s whose Christmas came early.
“I think I forgot to tell Lucy what a good dancer Jasper is…” Guinevere said to Warren.
“Ah, that’s why she looked so surprised!” he said before bursting out laughing. “And raptured…”
“Oh well, she likes surprises. And if it can help…”
“Gwen”, Kenneth said suddenly, “can I talk to you?”
Strangely enough, after exchanging a look with Warren who stared back encouragingly, Kenneth led Guinevere in the less crowded entrance hall.
“Evangeline seems really happy this evening”, he began hesitatingly. He was watching Evangeline dance, once again, with Finn.
Guinevere, surprised, asked: “You wanted to talk about Evangeline?”
“Oh, no! I wanted… how can I say… Merlin’s underpants, it’s hard!”
“Okay, here it goes” he said, and he took a big gulp of air.
Time seemed to stop. Guinevere stared at Kenneth, listening intently to his every word, her breath shallow, impatient to know but at the same time afraid he would speak.
“I wanted you to know that… ever since you came down to the Great Hall earlier, my heart hasn’t stopped beating like a drum.”
Guinevere felt her own heart beginning to thump in her chest. She didn’t dare believe him, didn’t want to understand. “Really?” she asked, her voice full of hope.
“No, actually…” Kenneth answered, and Guinevere’s heart nearly stopped dead. She went horribly pale. Kenneth noticed what he just said and added quickly, seizing her hands: “No, I didn’t mean that! I’m sorry, I’m… The truth is it has been like this ever since I first met you. But I didn’t understand it until tonight because I’m a complete moron.”
“Kenneth…” Guinevere whispered. “What are you…”
He put a hand on his chest and professed passionately, his eyes sparkling: “I love you, Guinevere. And I’m sorry it took me so long to figure it out.”
Guinevere, thunderstruck, gaped at him silently. Kenneth laughed nervously, slightly embarrassed, and ran a hand through his hair.
“Please say something…”
“My God, Kenneth…”
She fell silent. Kenneth was beginning to worry. A smile appeared on Guinevere’s lips, soon taking over her face. She giggled. Then she rushed to him and he hugged her, the same grin on his face. Guinevere was only aware of her pounding heart, Kenneth’s arms around her waist and his breath in her hair… It was wonderful. It lasted… she couldn’t tell how long. She only wanted one thing: that he never let her go.
This explained her disappointed grunt when Kenneth took a step back. He contemplated her, his eyes light with joy. Then, slowly, he took Guinevere’s face in his hands and kissed her.
Lucy didn’t know what to think anymore. After more than six years of civil war and two dances with Jasper, it seemed like all of a sudden, maybe somewhere in a corner, she actually liked him. But it would be hard to change her habits… Especially if he didn’t stop looking at her like that: she hesitated between getting very red or hitting him with a chair.
“I’m too hot. I’m going out for a while”, she said, hoping to go discreetly.
Unfortunately, Jasper seemed to think he was her escort and insisted on going outside with her, since Kenneth, her official partner, had disappeared. Lucy protested, told him Anidori would look for him, to no avail. Ani, like Jasper showed Lucy, was merrily talking with Eryn, Robin and Jake, and Jasper would not let Lucy got out alone in the night.
“I may be irresponsible, but not that much!” he assured.
Lucy didn’t get the point, but had to accept since Jasper would have tied her to a pillar rather than letting her go out alone.
Jasper marvelled at the superbly festooned park. Lucy was surprised since he’d already seen it, with Evangeline, one hour ago. But Jasper reminded her he didn’t remember a thing that had happened before midnight. Lucy sat on a bench with him and they stared at the grounds. A huge full moon was shining bright silver light. The trees in the Forbidden Forest, at the other end of the park, were swinging with the evening wind. The lake sparkled under the lanterns that circled it and a lonely toad was serenading the stars. It was incredibly romantic, and even if the company wasn’t really what Lucy would have expected, she sighed in awe.
“I’ve never seen anything so beautiful.”
“Neither have I”, Jasper said, eyeing Lucy.
She frowned and said: “You’re not even looking at the landscape.”
What did it mean? Lucy blushed from head to toe and she lectured herself. It was Jasper Byron, for God’s sake! He wasn’t supposed to look at her with those candid blue eyes… And her heart wasn’t supposed to pound in her chest, nor her stomach to wriggle. He flashed her a luminous smile, troubling her even more, before returning to the night sky.
“Err…” Lucy said eloquently.
“Yes?” Jasper asked gently, looking at her again.
“Did you go insane without telling me?”
“No… Why do you ask?”
Lucy hesitated. How could she ask the dozens of questions flooding her mind?
“Well, now that you mention it, there is something”, Jasper said suddenly, looking inspired.
“Mhh, and what’s that?”
“I think I’m in love”, he said, simply but firmly.
Lucy kept quiet, astonished. Why was he telling her? She wasn’t his confidante, nor a close friend, for now at least… And why, but why, did she feel a pinch of jealousy – yes, that’s what it was – in her stomach? She wasn’t in love with Jasper Byron, for goodness’s sake!
Trying to hide her confusion, she said: “Are you? For real, this time?”
“What do you mean “for real”?”
“Well, you were head over heels with Evangeline just before, so…”
“Aarg, will you stop with this? It’s not my fault this stupid potion exploded on my head!”
“You have to admit, it was funny.” Lucy laughed.
“Yeah”, he groaned, hiding a grin. “But to answer your question, yes, I’m really in love.”
“And why are you telling me?”
“… I don’t know… You were there at the right time, I guess…”
“Who’s the lucky girl?” Lucy asked curiously.
“Hey, that’s not how it works! You’ll get nothing out of me.”
“Buzzkill. Describe her, at least.”
“Err…” Jasper blushed slightly. Then, puffing out his chest, he said with an naval admiral’ voice: “She’s wonderful. Amazing. Very clever and determined. Funny, nice…”
“She’s a Hufflepuff?”
Jasper’s face became brick red. Lucy laughed, happy to have extracted that information out of him.
“You got me”, he admitted, good loser.
“Come on, at this point, you might as well tell me her name” Lucy begged.
She was having a lot of fun. She was glad, after all, that Jasper had accompanied her. And she was quite proud to have been able to shut up the little jealous voice screaming in her head.
“Is she pretty?”
“Even better”, he said passionately. “She’s better than everything. She’s… she’s…”
“Good heavens, you’re smitten! Is it Eryn?”
Jasper grumbled a “No”.
“It’s not Evangeline, obviously…”
Louder groan. Lucy laughed.
“Morgana’s flowery ankle socks!” she exclaimed suddenly, without realizing she just used Kenneth’s favourite saying. “Jasper, tell me you don’t love…” He looked hopeful but afraid. “…Guinevere?” she finished quickly, eyes big as plates. “Because you know she only has eyes for Kenneth, and…”
“I don’t love Guinevere”, Jasper answered calmly with a smile in his eyes. “Don’t panic.”
“But then wh…”
The light abruptly came on in Lucy’s mind. Her eyes widened even more and the knot in her stomach came back with full force, having blown out its barrier with an axe. “No”, she whispered, hand on her mouth.
Jasper looked at her, sadly but tenderly, and Lucy ran away, refusing to listen to the little voice that was now screaming in her head, in her heart. She ran all the way to the castle, rushed in the Great Hall and made Anidori jump when she almost fell on her back.
“Where’s Gwen?” Lucy almost yelled.
“No idea. She vanished a while ago. What…” Anidori was startled.
“I have to talk to someone. Come on!”
Lucy dragged her friend to a corridor outside the Great Hall. She had just the time to see Jasper come in and join Warren and Finn, despair on his face.
“Did you know?” Lucy began.
“Know what?” Anidori asked.
“What about Jasper?”
“He’s…” Lucy blushed and cleared her throat, trying to put on a brave face. “He’s in love with me”, she whispered. Her tone was hesitating, almost asking.
“Of course!” Anidori said, relieved.
“Come on, Lucy, everybody knew. I don’t know how you didn’t notice.”
“But since when?” she said, taken aback.
“I don’t know… a few months, maybe even a few years. Didn’t you notice he desperately tried to get close to you, to talk to you?”
“No… But it can’t be! Ani, be reasonable, I’ve been a jerk to him. I always have.”
“He must really love you, then”, Anidori concluded, wisely.
Lucy’s mouth fell open.
“But I don’t understand why you’re reacting like that. I thought you couldn’t care less about Jasper”, Anidori said with a cheeky grin.
“Well, yes, but…”
Suddenly, Jasper rushed in the corridor where the two friends were standing. He ran to Lucy without even noticing Anidori who, after an encouraging smile and a pat on the shoulder, left them alone. Lucy begged her to stay, to no avail. She tried to leave too, but Jasper was in her way.
“Please, Lucy, we have to talk.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t want you to learn it like that. It’s okay if you don’t love me back, but please, don’t hate me again.”
“I don’t hate you”.
Her voice broke. Lucy was even wondering if…
Morgana’s flowery ankle socks.
Jasper observed her for a few seconds, then sighed. He looked like he had just swallowed a very bad and doubtfully efficient potion.
“I get it.”
He turned to the Great Hall, shoulders slumped. Lucy, helpless, watched him go. She wanted to listen to the voice that was still roaring in her head, wanted to run after Jasper, to catch him, to stop him, to do something, anything….
“Jasper!” a voice yelled.
He turned back to Lucy. She jumped when she realized she had called him. And abruptly, she decided to trust the little voice.
“Wait”, she begged. “Don’t go…”
He hesitated, then came back to her.
“Why didn’t you tell me before?” she asked.
“Why would I have?”
“Well… because… because…”
“…See? It was pointless…”
Jasper smiled sadly. He was turning away again when Lucy finally made her choice. After all, what did she have to lose? In three steps, she had caught him back and was looking at him. His face was so close, his eyes so blue and bright… The knot of feelings in her stomach came back. Lucy couldn’t resist. She closed in on him and whispered: “I’m stealing Gwen’s line, but I agree: “People do strange things when they listen to their hearts.”
Jasper stared at her for a few seconds, unsure of what he’d just heard, then beamed so widely Lucy almost blinked, dazzled.
“I, Jasper Byron, proclaim that you are superb and perfect, and that any man who’d try to take you from me would be in big trouble!”
He hugged her and spun her around. Then he bent and gave her a passionate kiss, a kiss that meant it wasn’t so hard to love, after all.
It was that strange hour of the day when the sky brightened in the east and stole every colour, but when the trees, the castle and the lake were still shadowy and blurry. The snow sparkled under the moon, and the blue sky was flirting with purple. Lucy beamed at Jasper, gripped his fingers, and they went back to the Great Hall and their friends.