As Professor Dumbledore was half way out the door, she quickly made a dash to the side table and grabbed for the jar. An accidental stumble against a nearby chair made Professor Dumbledore turn, raising an eyebrow as he did.
Quickly, she slid the bottle into the sash around her waist and gave a weak smile. There was a short moment of silence as they watched each other closely. Professor Dumbledore was seemingly waiting for Joanna to give an unnecessary answer to a question he would have never asked, hoping it would tell him what she was hiding. But seeing that Joanna had not crack, Professor Dumbledore simply turned and exited the room, and Joanna followed after.
The short walk led Joanna to sitting in Professor Dumbledore’s office as she watched him pat his pet Phoenix, which battered its eyelids in the comfort of being stroked.
“Sir,” Joanna said softly.
Professor Dumbledore took a seat and leaned forward in mild interest.
“I was in Professor Slughorn’s office because I was looking for something.” Joanna decided to tell the truth. Well, half of it. Since the oddity of Professor Dumbledore’s behavior was starting to bother her.
“And what was it that you were looking for?” His eyes watching her through his half-moon shaped glasses.
“Liquid luck.” She tried sounding confident.
“Why do you need liquid luck?” Professor Dumbledore wore a curious expression.
“I wanted it for the Charm’s test. I’m not very good at Charms, and I was afraid I might fail.”
“I see. But sheer luck has nothing to do with intelligence or the lack of it,” Professor Dumbledore said thoughtfully.
“I know, and I’m sorry.” Joanna dropped her head.
“Well, since you are, I’ll let you off this time.”
“Thank you sir,” Joanna said, trying to hide the surprise in her voice of not receiving detention.
“Since you are here, I was just wondering how you’re doing?” The sudden shift in topic caught Joanna off guard as she uncertainly answered, “Erm, o.k? I guess?”
“You’ve made some good friends I presume?”
“Picking the right friends is very important Ms. Chen. One cannot be too blinded by acceptance to see that the wrong crowd could determine a perilous future.”
Joanna was about to say ‘What?’ when she held her tongue in time and nodded instead.
[Illustration to be added soon.]
“Very well, you can leave now.” Professor Dumbledore gently waved his hand.
Joanna quickly stood up and walked towards the door, but before reaching it, Professor Dumbledore called, “Ms. Chen.” Her heart stopped briefly as she felt the bulge on her sash.
“If you don’t mind me asking, where is your date? Mr. Riddle, am I right?” Professor Dumbledore continued, and Joanna heaved a silent sigh of relief.
“I assume he’s in the hall sir,” Joanna turned and answered. When Professor Dumbledore nodded, she quickly left.
She decided not to return to the ball, but to the common room instead. Her mood for a party died off the moment she thought she was so close at getting caught.
“So close. Thank God,” Joanna kept muttering under her breath, watching her steps as she walked.
Too engrossed with her close encounter, it was only when Tom spoke, that she snapped back into reality. “Thank you, for not ratting me out.”
“Sure,” Joanna briefly answered, walking up to the painting that bore the entrance to her common room.
“Look, I’m sorry I kind of ruined your evening.” Tom took a quick step in front of her. “Let me make it up to you.” Tom took her hand before she could answer.
“Where are we going now?” Joanna asked tiredly.
“The observatory tower,” Tom said and she quietly let him lead her up flights of stairs before reaching a room.
There was a balcony that looked out into the night sky, and Joanna could see almost everything from it, including the lake which homed a giant octopus, or so she was told.
“It’s so peaceful up here,” Joanna said as the cool breeze brushed through her hair. She couldn’t help but smile at the nocturnal view.
“We make our own peace,” Tom, who was seated by the steps, said quietly.
Joanna simply shrugged in reply, and turned her attention to the stars as she watched them twinkle in the dark blue painted sky. They spent quite sometime in the observatory, mostly in silence, forgetting that time was still flying. Finally, as though he had a watch, Tom spoke, “Let’s go, it’s late. You can’t afford detentions.”
Tom walked Joanna back to her common room, but before he left, he said, “I guess we have to wait till Monday before we can get the Boomslang skin from Slughorn.”
It was only then that Joanna recalled of the jar in her sash and the soft pressure it was pressing against her skin was suddenly evident again. Odd how she actually pondered on whether she should hand it to him or keep it. He did seem pretty upset, and he seem to be waiting, as though he knew she had it.
To Be Continued…
(Vote or leave a comment below on whether Joanna should hold on to jar for a while, or give it to Tom!)