Joanna spun around in the white silk dress her mother had sent her. It had a black ribbon that tied around her waist and black flowers that would occasionally disappear and reappear.
“You look beautiful,” Annoria, who sat on the bed waiting for her, said.
“Thank you,” Joanna responded as she began to do her hair.
“Tell me again how Tom Riddle asked you?” Annoria smiled cheekily.
“Is it really that hard to believe that Tom invited me?”
“Am I that-” Joanna stared at herself in the mirror, trying to find another reason why boys didn’t like her.
“It’s not you, it’s him. He only has friend’s in Slytherin and, well, he always keeps to himself. To think he would go to a ball, well, you get what I mean,” Annoria explained what she felt rather unconvincingly.
” I think I do. I’m ready, let’s go.” Joanna got tired of trying to pin her hair up that she decided to let it be.
They walked down to the great hall together but went in separate directions to meet their dates. Annoria was invited by a fellow classmate who, Joanna had noticed, constantly stared at her during class. But seeing that Annoria didn’t have a problem with the chubby Ravenclaw boy, she didn’t either.
When Joanna finally looked away from the overly excited Annoria, she saw Tom, standing a few feet away from her.
Tom smiled, genuinely. Which came off as a surprise to her. Since she knew Tom, she only saw smirks, and occasionally a fake smile that sent Professors all over him. That night, it was different.
“Do you want to stand there the whole night?” The smile disappeared as he spoke.
Joanna walked towards him and spared him a compliment, “Looking rather handsome.”
“I must say, you don’t look too bad yourself.”
Joanna chuckled. The boy couldn’t give a compliment without sounding sarcastic.
“Shall we?” Tom offered his arm and Joanna took it.
The great hall had transformed into a winter wonderland. There were small tables around the hall that were made of ice, and a long buffet table that changed in the variety of food ever so often. From the ceiling, snowflakes fell lightly and disappeared before they could touch the ground.
“Amazing!” Joanna said in excitement.
“What is?” Tom asked as he led her to a table.
“The snow,” Joanna answered as she watched Tom waved his wand over the empty glasses on the table, making liquid rise from the bottom.
“Haven’t seen snow have you?” Tom said as he handed her a glass.
“As a matter of fact, never.”
“Sad,” Tom said insincerely.
“What are you drinking there? Not wine I hope!” a voice jokingly asked.
Joanna turned to see who it was, and as she had recognized, it was Professor Slughorn.
“Not wine sir, just punch. Would you like a glass?” Tom offered.
“Oh, no need my boy.” Professor Slughorn patted Tom on the back. “I helped brew the punch, drank a lot of it myself!”
“It’s an excellent mix sir,” Tom praised.
“Don’t tell anyone, but I added some boomslang skin. Blends the flavors better,” Professor Slughorn said proudly.
“Boomslang? That’s interesting,” Joanna said as she slowly placed the glass on the table.
“Oh, don’t worry, it’s just snake skin, won’t kill you.” Professor Slughorn chuckled.
“Sir, aren’t boomslang skin rather hard to find?” Tom asked, and Joanna immediately knew why.
“You have to know where to look my boy.”
“Do you have more? I’m curious on how it looks.”
“Why of course! I’ll let you see it. It is for academic purposes right?”
“Yes sir, strictly for academic purposes,” Tom confidently answered.
“Very well, after class on Monday then. Enjoy the ball!” Professor Slughorn said and went on greeting more of his favorite students cheerfully.
“The book says we need boomslang skin, am I right?” Tom immediately turned to Joanna.
“Let’s go,” Tom said as he eyed Professor Slughorn.
“Slughorn’s office, we’re going to get some skin,” Tom said as he grabbed Joanna’s hand and led her out of the hall.
“Now?!” Joanna asked as they turned into a deserted hallway.
“It’s the best time, all the Professors are at the ball.” Tom made a good point.
They finally made it to Professor Slughorn’s office. It felt more like a home than an office, with a fireplace, a dining table and a wall full of pictures.
“He keeps his stuff over here,” Tom said, walking over to a huge cabinet. As Tom pulled the doors open, Joanna saw jars of all sorts. Some bigger, some smaller, but all labeled. There were more than a hundred of them and she gulped at the thought of finding just one.
“There are so many,” Joanna stated. “Can’t we just use a spell?”
“And risk breaking everything?” Tom shook his head and started looking on the top shelf.
Joanna sigh and decided to start with the bottom. She turned every jar, read every label, but there weren’t any boomslang. If only Professor Slughorn took some time organizing this cabinet, finding something would be a lot easier.
Once she was done with the bottom shelf, Joanna gave up and walked over to the fire place.
“What are you doing?” Tom asked calmly.
“It’s impossible,” Joanna sighed, but before she could give a better reason, the office door opened.
Joanna quickly turned to its direction, and standing in the doorway was Professor Dumbledore.
“Ms. Chen? What are you doing here?” Professor Dumbledore walked slowly towards her.
Joanna took a quick glance at the cabinet and Tom wasn’t there. He must have slipped behind it.
“I, er, Professor…” Joanna was lost for words, so she swallowed and shrugged.
“Well then, I’ll like you to follow me,” Professor Dumbledore said, after he took a long suspicious look around the room.
Joanna obediently followed after him as he headed out the door. It was then that she saw a small jar on a side table. The label read, “Boomslang skin”.
A question came to mind immediately, does she make a quick grab for it and risk getting caught? Or should she just leave it there.
To be continued…
(Leave a comment below or vote on whether Joanna should make a quick grab at the jar, or leave it be!)