Who: Heidi MacDonald, Astoria Greengrass
Where: Smith Manor
When: 30 November 2001, during the Blue Moon Ball
This ball may have been all about finding your soulmate — something Heidi was definitely not planning on doing — but she was having the time of her life regardless. There was champagne and fruity little cocktails, and she was starting to feel pleasantly light-headed. She caught the eye of a handsome bloke across the room, but she was happy just to give him a flirty look and then turn away. Later, who knew where things might lead, but right now she was focused on making sure all her single friends had a great time too. Yeah, she could be selfless when she wanted to.
As she turned around she bumped into someone else. “Whoops, sorry!” Heidi recognised Astoria and immediately looked around for Cary. “Where’s your not-so-secret boyfriend?”
Astoria had been making a game of how slowly she could sip her champagne. This was far from her first glass, and she had been feeling its pleasant effects for a while, enjoying how everything was going just a bit blurry round the edges, and how that made the party so much prettier, made all the lights blend together and seem to grow larger and smaller before her eyes, made the couples on the dance floor seem to disappear. But the point of coming to this party was to be seen turning over a new leaf, not to be caught out getting publicly inebriated, so she was forcing herself to make this glass last thirty tiny sips before she could reward herself with another. Thirteen… fourteen…
And then Heidi’s jostle made her slosh half of the rest on her dress. She scowled in her general direction. But once her eyes adjusted and she recognized her nemesis — then took a moment to comprehend Heidi’s question — her scowl disappeared and her face went coldly blank instead.
“I’m sure I don’t know who you mean,” she replied evenly, then finished what remained of her champagne in one long sip. Heidi had ruined her game anyway, what was the bloody point now.
Heidi rolled her eyes at Astoria’s response. “Fine, where’s Cary?” She wanted to say hi, and maybe tease him a little bit about Astoria being his One True Love. She could count on Cary to take that sort of thing in good humour. Judging by the expression on Astoria’s face, she probably wouldn’t react well to any sort of teasing, although Heidi didn’t understand how anyone could be in a bad mood when they were at a party, especially one as swanky as this.
“He’s not my boyfriend,” Astoria replied, staring vaguely off over Heidi’s shoulder. “He’s around here somewhere, although if you’d like to interrogate him about his love life I imagine you’ll come up short. I’ve broken it off.” If people were going to gossip about it being over, it seemed important to establish who had initiated it. Astoria glanced down at her champagne glass and was disappointed to realize it was already empty.
“Really?” Heidi said in surprise. “Why?” She noticed Astoria glance down at her empty glass and, without thinking too much about what she was doing, signalled to the nearest waiter. Excellent, he had more champagne. Heidi took a glass for herself, guessing that Astoria would see through her rather obvious plan, but hoping that she was too drunk to care. Or that she would go ahead and spill the details anyway, because Heidi needed to know more. She may have mocked their relationship, but Cary was still her friend and she didn’t like to think of him being hurt.
“Why do you think?” Astoria replied sulkily, grabbing a champagne. She may have been rather drunk, but not drunk enough to mistake Heidi for a friend to confide in.
“I think you shouldn’t have led him on if you had no intention of putting out,” Heidi said bluntly.
“I assure you that had nothing to do with it,” Astoria said, in clipped tones. In fact, she felt a slight pang of — something… fondness? remorse? — when she reflected that Cary had always been rather gentlemanly about all that. Unlike horrible Heidi and her sex fixation. “When Cary asked me out, he knew exactly what sort of girl I was. I imagine the idea of dating a girl who actually had virtue was appealing.” With that, she fixed Heidi with a glare filled with contempt, but the effect was somewhat diminished by her champagne-bleary eyes.
Heidi resisted the urge to snort. “So why did you end it, if things were so rosy between the two of you? Was it the canoeing?” To be honest she hadn’t thought that Cary and Astoria would last as a couple, but she was still determined to find out why Astoria had chucked him. There was a niggling feeling in the back of her mind that maybe she’d taken her teasing and comments a bit too far, and she was starting to wonder if she might have had something to do with them splitting up. But… no, that was crazy, right? Cary didn’t care about that kind of thing, and surely Astoria wouldn’t have taken those comments to heart… would she?
“Because dating him did not reflect well on me.” Astoria looked off into the distance again and sighed. She couldn’t help but feel a little bad for dropping him so abruptly. And she felt a little bad for herself, alone again. Was he at the ball right now? Was he sad to be going without her, or was he having a great time on his own? Or… was he not on his own? All three scenarios pained her in different ways.
She remembered Heidi was there and snapped herself out of her moment of self-pity. “Some of us have reputations worth protecting.”
“Wait, you dumped Cary because you thought he made you look bad? What the fuck. Cary is worth ten of you,” Heidi said heatedly, her fist unconsciously clenching. Any lingering feelings of guilt over Astoria’s wistful little sigh disappeared. How dare she break up with Cary for such a stupid reason? Ugh! Purebloods.
Taking a deep breath to try and control her temper — she wasn’t going to make a scene at the Blue Moon Ball — Heidi gave Astoria the most withering look she could muster. “Your loss, though.” She knew she should walk away, but she wasn’t going to leave without a parting shot. Just before she turned away, she added, “Oh, and I’ll have you know my reputation takes a lot of work to maintain.” With that, she gave Astoria a saucy wink, hoping that would irritate the other girl more than anything else.
Astoria tried to toss her head imperiously, but the champagne had gone to her head, and she wobbled a bit on her feet, which somewhat spoiled the effect. And before she could think of anything to say back, Heidi had walked away. Fine, she was glad this conversation was over. She wanted this whole party to be over. Maybe she could find an unattended bottle of champagne to take home. When one didn’t have a boyfriend, a hot bath and a cold bottle was the only way to end the night.