“O.k,” Joanna replied, trying to hide her blush, and to her biggest surprise, Tom pulled her in for a hug.
It was a strange feeling, one Joanna had never felt before. She was never hugged by a man, not her father, not anyone. And this being the first time, Joanna didn’t want to let go, and Tom didn’t seem to want to either.
They stood, hugging, in their hideout spot in Hogwarts for a while before an owl came swooping in the balcony with a letter attached to its feet.
Unwillingly pulling away from Tom, Joanna headed to the owl and detached the letter.
“I wonder who this is for,” Joanna said, as the letter wasn’t addressed to neither of them.
“Definitely not for me,” Tom said with a shrug.
Without hesitation, Joanna pulled the letter open and saw three words scrawled on the parchment.
“Borgin and Burkes?” Joanna read, looking at Tom with her eyes narrowed.
Tom merely smiled and shrugged. “Probably a mistake.”
Somehow sensing Tom was hiding something, as the same false smile was plastered on his handsome face, Joanna had the urge to ask. But then she recalled not wanting any part of his plan and decided to pretend the letter didn’t matter.
Crumpling the letter up, Joanna said, “Oh well, I guess the owl was lost.”
Then heading to the door, Joanna added, “It’s getting late, I don’t wanna get caught and expelled NOW.”
“Why? You would miss me?” Tom replied as he raised his eyebrows.
And immediately Joanna felt her cheeks burn up. No wonder girls go crazy about him, he knew how to work his face! Joanna thought as she turned away.
“I think you would miss me more,” Joanna said and hurried out the door, not even bothering to look behind.
As Joanna walked silently to her common room, the empty hallways were slowly clearing up as students began disappearing in the direction of their common rooms. She was pretty sure she was alone until an owl came swooping from behind her, scaring the hell out of her as she screamed.
The owl landed by a wall niche and it began hooting periodically at her.
“You didn’t have to scare me!” Joanna yelled at the animal, as she stormed towards it and untied a small parchment from its feet.
The owl then gave her a hard peck on her hand in reply before it took off angrily.
“Stupid bird,” Joanna shouted, hoping the owl could actually understand English, as she rubbed her hand.
Finally turning her attention back to the parchment, Joanna flipped it open, hoping it was a sweet message from Tom, but was disappointed when she saw that it was from Professor Dumbledore, who had requested to see her the following day.
Somewhat knowing what Dumbledore might want, Joanna thought less on what to answer him as she made her way back to the common room that night. Joanna could officially say she knew nothing about Tom’s plans, well, sort of, and found it no longer difficult to tell half the truth.
When morning came, Joanna went to see Dumbledore after her second class. He was in his same old office, looking not too happy the moment she entered.
“You requested to see me, sir?” Joanna asked.
“Yes. I hope the owl didn’t wake you from your sleep?” Dumbledore replied, with a tone of friendly sarcasm in his voice.
“No, it didn’t,” Joanna replied with a smile, as she took a seat. She felt like she had been playing games with Dumbledore all year round and this was just another little game of his.
“Well, I have some rather grim news for you today,” Dumbledore said.
“What is it?”
“Your mother isn’t feeling so well. According to your father, she has fallen ill.”
“Can I go visit her then?” Joanna quickly asked.
“You can, of course. But your father has informed me that your mother needs more caring for this time.”
“She’s not going to die is she?!” Joanna asked, standing up from her seat.
“No, of course not. She’s just bedridden for now. Your father will tell you more. As of now, he wants you back home, to look after your mother for a while.”
“O.k. But what about school?” Joanna asked casually. She didn’t want to have to repeat the year, and she didn’t want to leave Hogwarts for long either. If she had to look after her mother, to buy time for her father to look for a caretaker, she didn’t want it to affect her studies.
“Well, I know a few colleagues, who would be more than happy to home school you,” Dumbledore replied.
“But, I won’t be gone long, I can self study. There is no hassle to do that Professor,” Joanna said.
“I’m afraid it is necessary. Your father has requested you to look after your mother until he gets back-“
“I don’t know when he’s coming back,” Joanna interrupted.
“Then I’m afraid you have to finish up your final year at home.”
Shock at the news, Joanna was unsure on how to react. This was not just a short visit back home, this was a one way ticket home with possibly no returns to Hogwarts. Joanna would not be able to graduate with her friends, nor would she see them for the remaining year.
Joanna wanted to find an excuse, she wanted to say ‘no’, but it was her family. How could she say no to her family? But how could she say no to Tom after saying yes to him? She didn’t know what to do, or who she should pick.
To Be Continued…
(Leave a comment below or vote on who Joanna should pick!)