The story of how Tiergan met Rowena. Professor Binns does not approve.
Tiergan tugged at his collar in vain effort to make it sit around his neck more comfortably and for the sixth time swore under his breath. Quietly, of course, as his mother was mere five feet away from him, having her hair braided.
“Do I really need to go to the Winter Solstice?” Tiergan asked, tentative but also a tiny bit desperate.
His mother smiled indulgently, giving him a soft look in the mirror. “You do. It’s high time you have been properly introduced to the rest of wizarding community.”
“But couldn’t we do that one family at a time? Why invite everyone in the whole of Britain at once?” It really did not make sense to Tiergan. If his parents wanted him to build a relationship and acquire acquaintances, it would be only reasonable to meet them one at the time. So he at least has enough time to remember their names.
“It’s been a long-lasting tradition,” sounded the voice of his father from the doorstep and he walked over to his wife, kissing her hair. “You look wonderful, darling.”
Tiergan pulled a face and looked away. Public manifestations of fondness.
There were people everywhere. And by everywhere, Tiergan meant truly and really everywhere. At the tables, on the dance floor, standing in doorways, chatting on the stairs, having sort-of private moments by the windows, and Tiergan was sweating below the three layers of heavy cloth as he stepped to the side and then forward and back again to the rhythm of the music. His feet already hurt.
The song ended. With a small bow, Tiergan left his lady in the hands of another man and silently, inconspicuously snuck behind a curtain that covered one wall. He just wished for a minute of rest before his mother or father pulled him out into the social whirlwind. But there was already someone standing in his hideaway.
A girl with long dark hair looked up at Tiergan with brilliantly blue, if slightly reddened, eyes. A moment of silence ensued, both of taken aback by being discovered.
“My lady,” Tiergan said finally, back bending in an appropriate bow. The girl watched him for a moment before replying accordingly, with grace that nearly took Tiergan’s breath away.
“Are you quite alright, my lady?” Tiergan asked and she wiped below her eyes, her fingertips coming away wet.
“Yes, thank you,” was her curt reply. Tiergan wasn’t going to let her go. She was obviously in distress and more so… she was beautiful. Although reluctant to admit it, Tiergan was smitten.
“I hope it is not to forward of me to ask your name, my lady?”
After a second of hesitation and a calculating, sharp look, she said: “Rowena.”
“Of Ravenclaw?” Tiergan was surprised. The Ravenclaws weren’t supposed to arrive.
“And may I ask again if you are alright? Pray excuse my determination, but it is hard to see a wonderful young lady such as you uncomfortable at what should be a happy moment,” Tiergan’s confidence seeped out of his voice at the hawk-like focus with which Rowena was watching him. He refused to look away and Rowena smiled before her features fell again.
“It is not a happy moment for me,” she said quietly, her voice almost drowned out by a new surge of sound from the ballroom itself. “I told my parents not to take me along, that it was too soon, but they wouldn’t listen. I just don’t feel…”
“… comfortable enough?” Tiergan finished for her, giving a soft smile. He could see where she was coming from. After all, this was his first time as well.
“I better go back. My parents will have surely noticed my absence by now,” Rowena said and swiped at her face again, just to make sure none of the tears were left.
“As will have mine,” Tiergan sighed. He watched Rowena compose herself into a perfect young woman and it broke his heart a little. He wanted to say something, he needed to. His fingers wrapped around her wrist just as she was about to step out from behind the curtain.
“If it is any comfort to you,” he said, trying not to think too much about the smooth skin beneath his fingertips, “I think you are the most beautiful and graceful in the company tonight.”
Rowena stared at him in barely concealed surprise and Tiergan promptly let go of her hand. It was bad manners to touch a lady without asking after all. She was still quiet and Tiergan started to worry he overstepped the line, but then she smiled a blinding smile. With a little colour at the top of her cheeks, she implied within her words that Tiergan should ask for a dance. And he did and they danced and by the end of the evening, Tiergan wasn’t sure what to do with himself. He kissed Rowena’s hand goodbye and watched her ride away, a tightness living in hs chest he wasn’t familiar with. Tiergan hadn’t seen Rowena again. That is, until the time of Hogwarts.