Orlando looked at Tonks a moment, who waved back at him as she headed into the hall, then his fellow fifth year with a grin. “Shuir. Mischief about?” he asked.
“Not exactly.” Dan glanced around at the students jostling around them, and spoke in a low voice. “I need a little help.”
Foozle’s brow furrowed, “Whit ye need, mate?”
“I need you to keep Tom busy later this afternoon, and keep him away from the library.”
Danny’s friend let out a bark of a laugh. “Isna the one place where A coud tak him, and he would niver find ye?”
“Foozle, for serious.”
“No problem. No problem.” Lando grinned, throwing an arm around his mate. “Got a date with Cissy, eh?”
“Yeah. I guess.”
“An ye said there wisna any mischief aboot,” Lando said, poking Dan in the ribs.
Dan looked at Foozle skeptically. “Are you sure yuir gonna keep Tom distracted? I don’t want him know about this b’fore I know what’s goin’ on myself.”
“Relax,” replied the Hufflepuff. “We need tae get him up to speed on a couple o’ our projects onywey. An’ if he asks whaur ye are,” Foozle grinned, “A’ll tell him yuir workin’ on a project of yuir own.”
Dan paced up and down the hallway outside the library, looking at the entrance with a mixture of anticipation and chagrin. He finally sighed and walked inside what was usually considered enemy ground.
Nicolette looked up from the book she was reading, preparing a lecture for Tom, only to have her mouth hang open in surprise as she saw Danny walk through those old wooden doors. Despite herself, she spoke loudly enough to warrant a glare from Madam Pince “Danny?!”
Dan smiled sheepishly, realizing he had been caught in the library by one of the people who would least expect him to be there. “Hello, Nicolette.” he said with a gesture to the tomes arrayed about her. “How are yuir studies coming along?”
“My studies are not the issue here. I am writing Tom’s lesson plan.” She tilted her head to the side slightly in confusion. “Um, are you lost?”
Shaking his head, Danny replied, “Nae, I’m not lost. Just here t’meet someone.” It suddenly struck him that, if ‘Colette was waiting here for Tom, Foozle had better gotten his job done. “Yuir expectin’ Tom t’be coming along, then?”
“Yes, he should be here any minute.” Nicolette, being the intelligent sort, pieced the mystery together quickly. “You know, he is very protective of his sister.” She smiled knowingly.
“Yeah.” Danny frowned a bit. “I hope you understand why I, um, arranged things with Lando to ensure he wouldn’t be around the library this afternoon.” Smiling at Nicolette, he added, “It’s for a good cause. Honest.”
She sighed and closed the book before her. “I suppose the lesson is cancelled for today then.” She looked at him with a serious look that failed to hide the smile in her eyes. “Well, you better make it a good one then.”
“Lo Dan, Nic,”
Dan’s stomach did flip-flops as he heard Aeryn’s voice behind him, because that meant that Cecelia was there too. He turned around and swallowed as he faced Cissy. Willing his voice not to crack, he managed to force out “Hi, Aeryn. Hello, Cissy.” Ratcheting up his nerve, he glanced at Aeryn, then Nicolette.”Would you guys excuse us?”
“Come on Nic,” Aeryn winked at Nicolette, “Let’s go do something fun.”
Once Cecelia and Dan were alone, several moments of complete silence followed, until it was finally broken by Cecelia, “So…”
Danny flashed a lopsided grin, trying to mask his being uncomfortable, both in the surroundings and the situation. He knew he wasn’t as smooth as some of his classmates when it came to dealing with the fairer sex, but this seemed different, somehow. He looked at the girl, and smiled more sincerely.”Yeah…” he was aware he was stalling, so he jumped in. “You know about the Halloween dance?”
“Yeah,” she smiled the classic Llewelyn smile.
Inside he was squirming. “I figured, since Dumbledore announced it to the whole school an’ all.” He felt his face warming, and hoped he wasn’t visibly blushing. “Well, I was wondering… and it’s okay if you don’t want to…” the words he spoke didn’t mirror his inner voice, which was screaming that it really wasn’t okay, that it would crush him inside. “But, um, would you like to…”
“Yes!” The smile seemed to light up the whole room.
Dan felt as if he could fly, with or without a broom. His grin mirrored her own. For the next two hours, the two of them talked excitedly on about what they could do for their costumes and almost every other topic under the sun. As they talked, Dan looked down, and somehow their hands were locked together. Cissy was leaning in close to him, and Dan found himself drawn to her as well. Their faces drew closer, lips puckering. They were nearly nose-to-nose when a thundering BOOM reverberated through the halls of Hogwarts castle, startling them both to an upright posture.