Smoothing her hands over the long red ball gown, Eileen stared at her reflection in the mirror. She could never be called beautiful, but she hoped she looked pretty enough. The satin material seemed to shine, giving her boyishly slim body curves that she never knew existed. Her lips thinned and curved into a tight smile as the house elf lay down the hairbrush and sighed. “There Miss Eileen.”
“Thank you Kieran.” Eileen replied thinly, smoothing her skirt again, she ran her hands over her stomach and hoped she would not have to run to the bathroom again. These nerves were getting worse; she had thought they would pass now that the exams were over. But now … she had a lot to think of. Her engagement to Apteryxes, the selections for the International Potions Tournament. She had long given up on trying to earn her mother’s approval, deep down she wondered if her mother noticed her at all. Eileen knew her father doted on her. Would her father make it back to Hogwarts tonight? Or would he be delayed in London on business. Her mother would be there, but her mother had to be there as part of her duties as Minister for Magic.
Sighing again, Eileen turned away from the mirror as the bedroom door opened to admit her father. General Collain Prince was a tall imposing man, well over six feet tall with short sandy coloured hair that was lightly speckled with grey. Firm lines were etched around his dark brown eyes, and there was a patch of white on his sun burned skin. One of several wounds he had received during his days as a soldier – before he had married.
Her father smiled at the sight of her, small creases showing at the corners of his eyes and he wrapped his great arms around her, almost smothering her against his massive chest in a bear hug like embrace. “Eileen.” He said softly, more than a hint of pride in his deep booming voice. “You look handsome, the dress suits you.”
Collain smiled again at her, holding her at arms length. “Hard to believe my little girl is all grown up.” He said.
Eileen laughed lightly and kissed his cheek, her lips brushing his moustache. “I’m eighteen dad, I’ve been grown up for some time. Merlin’s beard, you’re not going to make a fuss like this on my wedding day?”
Collain laughed warmly and hugged her again. “Come Eileen, your mother is waiting. Apteryxes is here.” He added, as his daughter placed his hand on his arm. He patted her hand warmly. Leading the way from the small bedroom to the Common Room, Collain sighed, smiling to himself as he looked around the room. “Never seems to change this place.” He said half to himself.
The portrait of the Fat Lady swung open and together, they stepped out to the corridor and walked down the hall. At the top of the stairs, Collain paused once more and patted his daughters’ hand. There waiting at the bottom of the stairs was someone who made Eileen’s heart flip.
Apteryxes was waiting, one white gloved hand resting lightly on the curved mantle of the railing, his white-blonde hair tied back from his face. He turned and a smile lit his pale blue-grey eyes. Dressed in deep blue almost black suit, he was breathtakingly handsome. Meeting Eileen, he raised her hand to his lips, brushing her knuckles lightly.
“Eileen.” He said warmly, a smile on his lips.
“Apteryxes.” Eileen replied with a smile, rising on tiptoes she kissed his cheek warmly and then brushed away the lipstick smudge.
A tall dark haired man rushed forwards, his horn-rimmed spectacles sliding from his nose. “Miss Prince, Miss Prince!” He cried anxiously. “Could I have a word please, for the Daily Prophet? How do you think your chances will be in the tournament?”
“I … err … I don’t know.” Eileen said, flushing slightly. “I don’t know if I’ll pass selection, the announcement won’t be until next week.”
“But you must consider yourself a chance?” The man continued, following them as Eileen and Apteryxes made their way towards the Great Hall.
Apteryxes paused, patting Eileen’s hand reassuringly. “My fiancée considers herself to have a chance as do all the entrants for selection. If selected, I can assure you Mr Rogerson that she will do justice unto the great honour that has been bestowed upon her as a representative of our great Nation.” His voice was warm, smooth as silk and Eileen felt herself fill with wonder that this man loved her. This man who could have had his pick of any number of woman had chosen herself, to be his wife. She could not wait for their wedding – in truth, neither of them had been able to wait.
She glanced up at him once more, love filled her as his blue eyes smiled down at her. She stood on tiptoe to whisper in his ear her suspicions. There was a slight murmur at this comment, but the reporter drew closer to them, raising a camera. “May we take a picture then Mr. Malfoy, you and your fiancée’s family?”
Collain came forwards to stand behind Eileen, reaching out a hand behind him pulling a woman out of another crowd. This woman was almost as tall as his shoulder and whip slender with long dark hair and small dark almost black eyes set in a long triangular face. The woman pulled a pair of glasses off her face and stowed them away. “Enough gentlemen!” She said in an almost screeching voice as she held up her hands. “My daughter’s graduation awaits, if you have any further queries, please direct them to my office, goodnight.”
The woman scowled softly and then stared at the reporter with the camera. Assuming a smile as the camera clicked. “Thank you Minister.” Mr. Rogerson said, walking away to join the other reporters.
“Merlin’s beard!” Valletta exclaimed, brushing some lint off Eileen’s shoulder. “You’re no beauty Eileen, but you look good enough. Come, there isn’t much time before the ceremony, we can talk again later. Go join your classmates. Apteryxes, you will join Collain at dinner, and I must … ah yes, Dumbledore, there you are.”
Professor Dumbledore, a tall stately looking old wizard with long silvery-white beard flowing almost to the floor was dressed in pale blue silk robes decorated with silver moons to match the half-moon spectacles he was wearing on a bent crooked nose. His bright blue eyes shone as he stepped towards them a hand held out before him.
“Minister.” He said warmly, a smile on his face as he shook hands with the Minister for Magic. Dumbledore shook hands also with Collain and beamed at Eileen patting her on the shoulder. “You had better go join the other Gryffindor students Miss Prince, the ceremony is about to begin.”
Eileen mumbled something and pressed past him, entering the Great Hall. She stopped in the door way and stared at the walls which had changed overnight from the pale reddish brown brick to a thick forest of trees. The room buzzed with activity as students gathered in groups, pointing and staring at the room. Small pixies darted their way through the crowd, leaving a shining glow as they past of red, blue, green, silver, and gold. The room resembled a giant forest of ancient trees.
Finding the Gryffindor table, she gazed up at the enchanted ceiling. For tonight, it resembled a clear night sky. Stars shone like brilliant diamonds high above. A chair was pulled out from beside hers and Alice Dorman dropped down heavily. Alice was a large almost round girl with long red hair and the largest teeth Eileen had ever seen. She was wearing a brown off the shoulder dress that made her pale skin seem almost pasty.
“Have you seen Professor Geber tonight?” Alice asked, gazing around the room almost fertively. Her nose twitched like a rat’s sniffing the air and she scratched at it with a fat hand.
“No.” Eileen supressed a smile and glanced around the room. It really was truly enchanting. Professor McGonnogall, head of Gryffindor house was standing beside one of the doors, her long almost horselike face looking anxious and she tapped the back of her hand with a folded order of service.
The room hummed with excitement and chatter, Suzette du Brois ran past excitedly heading for the Hufflepuff table. Her long blonde hair flowing out behind her. “She looks beautiful.” Alice sighed appreciatively, her green eyes almost glowing with envy.
“She’s not graduating.” Eileen murmured softly. “She failed her exams. She has to come back next year.”
Alice stared at her. “Which ones?” She hissed, disbelieving.
“All of them.” Eileen murmured. “She ran out of the examination room after Transfiguration in tears. I overheard her telling Jones.”
Alice’s pale face became even paler, and slightly tinged with green. “Ugg…” She groaned. “I can’t imagine having to come back next year.” Alice looked at her suddenly, her eyes narrowing. “What about yourself? Are you really planning on getting married in a few months? You’re just eighteen, Eileen, you could…”
Her voice trailled off as Professor Gaber swept through the room, a tall handsome man with full sandy blonde hair and a smile that showed perfectly white teeth. Alice sighed expressfully. “I’m going to miss Quidditch.” She sighed. “I wish he was still playing for the Hornets.”
Eileen smiled at her. “If he was.” She murmured quietly, “He wouldn’t have been able to teach here this year. She looked up towards the main table as quiet seemed to decend over the room. Professor McGonnagall was leading a group of students towards the front of the Hall. Professor Flitwick was smiling and nodding at them as they passed. A tiny wizard, Flitwick had to stand on a box to be able to see over the music stand before him.
Professor McGonnagall gave the students a few words and with a brief smile that barely touched her lips, she moved to the staff table as Professor Dumbledore rose.
“Good evening.” The headmaster’s voice was strong and hypnotic. Eileen could hardly contain her excitement. This really was the beginning of the end. In a few hours her life at Hogwarts would be over, she would be a graduate.