Many people would have wagered cold, hard Galleons that Molly Hooper was going to ask Sherlock Holmes to the Yule Ball, to which Molly would have said, ‘Go ahead. Make me rich.’
(Or rather, she would have liked to, if she were quicker with comebacks and somebody had actually asked the question.)
Because really. Fancying Sherlock was so first year. And, admittedly, second year. All right, and a large majority of third year. But that was it. Molly was in fourth year now, and Sherlock Holmes was completely out. She was a sophisticated, mature woman of nearly-fifteen, and she had bigger, sexier fish to fry.
(Er, not that she saw fish sexually or anything like that. )
Molly Hooper had her eyes set on the hottest ticket in their year. Who was arguably also the hottest ticket in the entire school, despite the fact that she didn’t even go there.
Irene Adler. Just saying her name was enough to give you shivers. Of course, all the Beauxbatons witches were unfairly beautiful, but Irene Adler had a certain je ne sais quois. The rumours that she was part - or mostly - Veela were utterly credible, despite the obvious lack of blonde hair. She was simply full of that dark, dangerous, man-eating sexual allure. One could just imagine her seducing someone right to his untimely, bloody death, and normal fantasies like that.
Molly had never considered herself into girls “that way.” Of course she’d had a weird kind-of-crush on her best friend Meena once and she thought Angelina Jolie was dishy (but who didn’t?) and there was also that Slytherin Beater Desdemona Lee (she kind of had a thing for Slytherins, okay?) so perhaps she was a bit bi-curious.
The moment she laid eyes upon Irene Adler it was more like Bye, Curiosity and Hellooo, Full-Blown Girl-on-Girl Desire.
She discussed it with Toby to great extent. Toby didn’t have much input, being mostly a cat, but he was a wonderful listener. Together they came to the conclusion that Molly simply had to ask Irene to the Yule Ball.
It was the single most terrifying thing that Molly had ever considered. Irene Adler had acquired a veritable harem of boys ever since she’d arrived at Hogwarts, literal manservants that trailed after her everywhere she went. They carried her books, did her homework, made humble offerings of flowers and Honeydukes sweets and promises of Mediterranean cruises, all in the yearning hope that one of them would be the Chosen One she allowed to accompany her to the Yule Ball.
Irene Adler could date anyone in the school. She could probably even date Sherlock, if she wanted.
But Molly had to try.
She tried, actually, on three different occasions - well, she almost tried, each time losing her nerve at the last minute. She wanted to approach Irene in the Library until she saw that Lyle Fox was in there with her, doing Irene’s Arithmancy homework, and Molly made a quick hard left and walked directly into Madame Pince. She wanted to approach Irene after Astronomy but then Harrison Kim was there, cleaning Irene’s StarViewer, and Molly had to quickly pretend that she was looking for a dropped quill. She found Irene seemingly by herself, sitting in the Great Hall, but then it turned out that Romero Alfieri was actually underneath the table, polishing Irene’s boots, and Molly had to sit down and ask a house elf for an entire meat pie, even though she wasn’t the least bit hungry.
“Don’t look at me like that, Toby,” Molly said, after she’d lamented about her third failure to him. She wasn’t a coward by any means, but neither was she reckless. There was a reason she wasn’t a Gryffindor.
“Next time,” Molly told Toby, “I’m just going to go ahead and do it. No matter what. I know I can.”
Toby blinked encouragingly in reply.
The next time Molly saw Irene, she was walking back to the castle on the Covered Bridge. She also happened to be with two of the Beauxbatons girls, the twins - Aurelie and Amelie. They in turn were trailed by a legion of slavish, drooling men-things.
Molly almost ran. She could say she was late for class. She could say that she’d forgotten her Remembrall somewhere on the grounds.
Molly grit her teeth, clenched her fists, and marched head-on into battle.
She knew exactly what she was going to say. She had practised it over a thousand times. “Hey babe,” (because that was what cool people said, wasn’t it? that and ‘luv’ - with a U) she would say, “Will you go to the Yule Ball with me?” all cool-like, and if Irene said ‘no,’ Molly would just shrug it off all cool and go on her merry way.
And if Irene said yes….
Well, if she said yes then Molly would burn that bridge when she got to it.
First things first. Molly stopped in front of the group, took a deep breath, and said, “Hey babe,” all cool-like. Or, at least that was the intent. In actuality, the moment she said ‘hey’ Irene Adler was looking at her, which Molly had not at all accounted for, with her eyes. Those amazing, sharp grey eyes with the long lashes, set in that beautiful face with her unfair cheekbones and lovely red pout and unjustly perfect skin.
So instead Molly said, “Hey ba…be…y….” which was not cool at all. And then, because her mouth hated her, she said, “You…Yule Ball…me…?” which she was fairly certain wasn’t even a sentence, since it lacked certain essential structures like, say, a verb.
Amelie (or was that Aurelie?) tittered. The men stared in open-mouthed shock. Aurelie (or was that Amelie?) said, “Oh my god!”
Molly wished she had brought a bottle of Draught of Living Death. She wished she had an Invisibility Cloak. She wished that a hole would open up in the ground beneath her and drop her deep into the earth straight into the centre of an elaborate tunnel system leading to the remains of a subterranean civilization where she could hide out until graduation. Like what had happened to Oswald Heffenpfeffer (Class of ‘76), the lucky bastard.
None of these wishes came true, of course, and so Molly Hooper instead strategically turned heel and ran.
(There was a reason she hadn’t been Sorted Gryffindor.)
For the next two weeks, Molly did her best to avoid Irene Adler, which proved to be an even harder task than finding Irene Adler. Irene was suddenly everywhere: sitting near the Hufflepuff table in the Great Hall, outside of Potions and Charms and Arithmancy, surrounded by people, seated at the first table when one walked into the Library. A staircase moved, and suddenly Irene Adler was standing there. Molly once almost wet herself when she walked into the third floor girls’ toilet to find Irene Adler fixing her very pretty lipstick at the sinks, and she had to quickly turn around and run for the second floor toilet instead, and only just barely made it.
Then, one day, just as Molly was peering around the corner of a hallway, doing her usual Adler-check, she felt a tap on her shoulder.
And there she was, the woman of the year: Irene Adler.
The sound that escaped from Molly’s mouth was most certainly not a squeak.
“There you are,” said Irene. Molly felt all the blood in her body try to relocate to her face. She was certain she was the colour of a Chinese Fireball.
“Yes,” said Irene.
“Beg your pardon?” Molly not-squeaked.
“Molly Hooper,” said Irene, and she leaned in very close, and all of a sudden Molly found herself pressed back against cool stone. When had that wall gotten there?
“I Yule Ball you,” Irene whispered.
“Oh,” said Molly, eyes so wide she was certain Irene would think she was trying to practise wandless Occlumency. And then, “Oh! You…Yule Ball…me?”
“Yes,” said Irene, her perfect cherry-red lips quirking up into a smile. She smelled very, very nice.
“Sweet,” said Molly, remembering how to be cool at the last minute. It was difficult when her heart was apparently trying to practise Latin dance against her ribcage.
“Yes,” said Irene, “You are,” and she placed a slim, soft hand on Molly’s cheek.