Sophie watches them spin about the dance floor with fire in her eyes. Her nails, silver tipped in green, rap against the table in irritation. Repeatedly. It’s driving Tristan insane.
“Would you like some pumpkin juice?” Tristan ventures, interrupting her two hour bout of brooding.
Sophie’s eyes cut dangerously to her Hufflepuff date. Tristan cuts quite the figure in his black robes, accented with marks of yellow. He looks like he spent the better part of his day making sure every strand of his hair was in place before leaving his dorm. Sophie assumes as much. He’s one of the better looking boys at Hogwarts, which was why Sophie asked him to the Yule Ball in the first place.
Nevertheless, Sophie ignores his question. “I want to dance,” Sophie says instead. She stands up and raises her brows at him expectantly.
“What, now?” Tristan asks with no small amount of confusion. The moment they had walked into the dance Sophie had barely spoken a word to him. He would never admit it to her—what with her reputation of hexing first and walking away after—but he rather regrets agreeing to be her date. So far he has spent the entire time watching Sophie watch Agatha and Tedros. Not that he blames her.
Tedros looks over the moon to have Agatha on his arm, though considering Agatha’s attitude toward school events, Tristan is surprised that she came to the Yule Ball at all. However Tedros managed to convince her to come as his date, Tristan would bet a few galleons that she wasn’t entirely happy about it. From his vantage point, she doesn’t look to be quite as enamored with Tedros as he is with her.
As it is, Agatha and Tedros are both matching in color—Gryffindor red and gold. Him with his dark crimson robes and his golden hair and her in an uncharacteristically fanciful dress that bares her shoulders. Agatha’s short black hair is tastefully pinned up in ringlets and there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Agatha’s dorm mates had a hand the makeover.
It doesn’t take two seconds before Sophie’s impatience runs out. “Yes, now. I’m doing you a favor, so I’d appreciate it if you’d hurry up. You do know how to dance, don’t you?”
Tristan stands and straightens his dress robes haughtily. “Of course I do. I'll have you know that I'm the best dancer in this school."
“Yes,” Sophie says with a roll her eyes, "of course you are. I'm sure that's why you have a glowing reputation as a ladies' man."
Tristan looks pleasantly surprised. "I do?"
"No, of course not! You spend so much time mooning over Tedros that it would be a bloody miracle if anyone though you preferred women in the slightest." Sophie grabs his hand and starts dragging them toward the dance floor as Tristan sputters in her wake.
"What? No, I don't—"
Despite the blush coloring his face, Tristan is a very good dancer. There is grace in his steps and he leads with the type of unthinking confidence that most boys at Hogwarts don’t gain until after graduation. Sophie keeps looking over his shoulder at every turn, trying to keep an eye on Agatha and Tedros.
“Take us that way,” Sophie says, nodding in the direction with her chin.
Tedros is scandalized by the notion. “We can’t just cut across the floor, that’s considered rude—”
Sophie doesn’t make a habit of taking "no" for an answer and wastes no time hijacking the lead. Her grip tightens and she tugs Tristan along with her as she executes her own flawless spin straight across the middle of the floor, much to the consternation of other dancers.
Sophie leans in close. “Remember, I told you I was doing you a favor,” she says just before she pulls her wand out. She shifts her grip on Tristan’s lead arm, holding his wrist so his palm is open, and points her wand. “Epoximise.”
“What are you doing?!” Tristan’s eyes widen.
Sophie smiles and her eyes glitter wickedly. “Try to make it last. I doubt you’ll get another chance like this.”
Tristan looks at her uncomprehendingly, so panicked and confused that he doesn’t realize what Sophie is up to until she has already spun him straight into another couple.
“Oh, Merlin, my apologies…” Tristan trails off when he sees Tedros and Agatha.
“Excuse us,” Tedros spits venomously, glaring at Sophie.
“Sophie,” Agatha says much more civilly, though with heady dose of suspicion.
“Oh, how very clumsy of us!” Sophie feigns surprise. She grabs Agatha’s hand and pulls the other girl to her, all but shoving Tristan into Tedros’ suddenly empty arms. “You don’t mind if I cut in, do you?” Sophie doesn’t wait for a response. She wraps her arm around Agatha waist and dances them away.
“Was that really necessary?” Agatha asks with a quirked brow.
Sophie takes it as a good sign that Agatha isn’t pulling away and bats her eyelashes. “Absolutely. How else was Tristan going to get his dance?”
Agatha glances at the two boys. Tedros is trying to pull his hand out of Tristan’s to no avail while Tristan blushes furiously. After a fair amount of yanking around, Tristan finally leans in and whispers something that gets Tedros to calm down and start dancing with him.
Agatha looks impressed. “Well done.”
Sophie pulls Agatha closer. “I may have had ulterior motives.”
Sophie is only a scant inch or so taller than Agatha on the norm, but she’s wearing heels and Agatha never does, not even for the Yule Ball. Sophie can just about rest her cheek against the top of Agatha’s head. Sophie hums in pleasure when she feels Agatha melt into her and feels a breath of a sigh flit across her shoulder.
“You always have an ulterior motive,” Agatha whispers into the crook of Sophie’s neck.
Sophie doesn’t disagree. Instead, she enjoys the moment, leading them through the steps. She keeps Tristan and Tedros in her periphery, knowing they’ll catch up eventually, but Sophie does her best to keep ahead and covet her moment with the Gryffindor girl in her arms.
It’s only when she notices that the stage is beginning to be set up for the Weird Sisters that she realizes that the formal dancing is coming to an end, as well as her time with Agatha. Just as Sophie is concocting a plan to whisk Agatha away before Tedros steals his date back, Agatha pulls them off the dance floor and starts making a beeline toward the open Great Hall doors.
Sophie poses no resistance, but she is terribly curious once they’re in the hallway. There are a handful of other students around and one pacing chaperone, but mostly just those trying to find a slightly quieter, less crowded area for the time being. “Not that I’m complaining, mind you, but if you wanted to get me alone—”
Agatha whirls around once they’re far enough away not to be overheard. “I need your help.”
Sophie feels concern bubble up within her, but does her best not to let it show. Agatha pulls a small note from her dress and unfolds it. The edges are bordered in shimmering gold. Sophie recognizes it straight away. “That’s the message you retrieved from the Forbidden Forest for the first task, isn’t it?”
Everyone had at one point or another seen the three different Triwizard champions hunched over their notes, trying to puzzle out the riddle before the date of the second task. It was still two months away.
Agatha hands the note to her. “Read it.”
Sophie is surprised to find the paper blank. “It doesn’t say anything.”
“Hold it up...flat, like that.”
Sophie follows Agatha's instruction until the note is held face up between them. Agatha leans in and blows gently across the paper. Four words appeared in curving black handwriting.
Sophie tilts her head to read it. “ ‘Once from the champion’ ?" she says aloud. "That obviously means you, right?” she asks.
“I think it means my breath,” Agatha replied eagerly. “That part was easy, actually. I was frustrated and just, sighed, I guess, onto the paper, and that message appeared.”
Even as they speak the words slowly start to disappear, the ink fading from the parchment as if a breeze was clearing away grains of sand.
Sophie scrunches her brow in consternation. “So what do you need help with?”
“I need you to breathe on it," Agatha says matter-of-factly.
Sophie knows there is something that Agatha is holding back, but doesn't comment on it. "Okay."
Leaning forward, Sophie lets a breath of air flow across the note, new words appearing:
"Once from their heart"
"What's that supposed to mean?" Sophie sidles up next to Gryffindor, curling in against Agatha's shoulder so that they can both read the note.
"I—um—I'm not sure."
Eyes narrowing, Sophie can hear the lie in Agatha's answer. She peers closely at Agatha's face, but the only tell is a light blush crawling up Agatha's neck to her cheeks and the small fact that Agatha is steadfastly refusing to meet her inquisitive gaze.
Agatha clears her throat. "Maybe we should both try. At the same time, I mean."
Sophie nods, and they do, syncing their efforts. Two more lines appear, and they don't disappear:
“Once from the champion
once from their heart
two breaths make one
yet spend the task apart.”
Sophie can make assumptions with the best of them, but she says nothing and watches as Agatha folds the note and tucks it away. When the Gryffindor finally meets her questioning eyes, Sophie merely cocks a brow at her.
"I know when you're not telling me something," Sophie says with narrowed eyes.
There is a moment of panic in Agatha's eyes before she lets out a forced laugh and scoffs. "You like to think you know me," Agatha says as she steps away from Sophie, putting a more appropriate distance between them. "Thanks for helping me, but I need to get back to my date."
Sophie isn't put off by Agatha's words, but she pouts and plants her hands on her hips. "You don't even like Tedros. You said he was so vain that his boggart is probably a cloudy mirror."
Agatha winces, remembering her insult, but she doesn't refute it. She fixes a serious stare at Sophie. "Just have fun and take care of yourself tonight, okay?"
Sophie sends her a playful smirk. "It'd be fun if you came to the Astronomy Tower with me."
Agatha rolls her eyes and walks away, refusing to dignify Sophie with a response.
Huffing at Agatha's retreating back, Sophie says just loud enough to be heard, "I hope you don't think that I didn't understand what that little card said about me."
Agatha's shoulders tense up, but the Gryffindor keeps on until she disappears back into the Great Hall.
Sophie pouts in frustration at not getting her away, but the night is hardly a complete wash. A vein of victory snakes through her at successfully whisking Agatha away from Tedros, however brief. Better yet, she was barely been reprimanded for her schemes and she has no interest is spoiling it by going back to the dance just to watch Tedros hang himself all over Agatha.
As for her own date, Sophie doesn't give two knuts about what Tristan decides to do with the rest of his night and while she doesn't want to head back to her dorm so soon in the evening, there will be few niches in Hogwarts not already claimed by other students. Still, she's riding high enough on her own self-satisfaction that she decides to turn in early anyway, and she struts her way back to the Slytherin common room with a wistful smile.