Goodbye, Miss Granger Ch. 02-03

Babes

Chapter 2 – Wardrobe Emergency

Under normal circumstances I’m a positive person; despite my emotional misery, I finished school with good marks and was accepted into my chosen course at university: a Bachelor of Science with a major in Pure Mathematics. And I did well, well enough to progress on to my Master’s degree in 2008-09.

Hermione Granger didn’t haunt me beyond high school, although I did have one scare when J.K. Rowling published the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, where Hermione’s middle name was revealed in the reading of Dumbledore’s will. You guessed it: Jean! My heart froze when I first read that line lying in bed one night, the paperback still shiny and un-creased. I had visions of undergraduates parading around me in the student union cafeteria calling out “And To Miss Hermione JEAN Granger, I leave my copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, in the hope that she will find it entertaining and instructive.” Except every student would name a different book title, each more embarrassing and sexually suggestive than the last.

The scars from high school had mostly healed, but they hadn’t faded, and even at age twenty-one they still held a power over me. In a pointless act of defence I dyed my hair, which I didn’t like and dyed it back again; and I changed my name to Jeannie, which I kept. I liked Jeannie; it was a little closer to ‘Hermione’, and that was worrisome, but it was also a little further away from the Jean Granger who had been so traumatised at high school. I started to move on. I even went to see Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix at the cinema and NOBODY commented on how much I looked like Hermione … although I concede the puffer jacket and baseball cap I wore DID make the feat more challenging.

~~~

I still didn’t have a boyfriend. Boys had asked me out (they didn’t stay nervous 16-year-olds forever, thank goodness) but I never accepted; too risky, too much pain lurking just below the surface.

I made friends though, some girls, some non-threatening guys already in relationships. I didn’t share my love of J.K. Rowling’s stories with them and they never commented on my famous doppelganger; it’s not that they never noticed, I think they just didn’t care.

I met Belinda in the second year of my Master’s degree. She was a few years younger and was enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts to pursue writing, but for some unaccountable reason she had chosen her one optional unit from the science faculty: Number Theory, of all things! I don’t think she had any idea what she was getting herself into, poor lamb, but maths at university is a big step up from high school and not something to be taken lightly. Certainly not as a solitary unit in a humanities degree.

She made it almost half way through the semester before she realised she needed a tutor, and by happy coincidence I had discovered a few weeks earlier that if I wanted to keep paying my rent then I was going to need a job. The stars aligned. I helped Belinda pass Number Theory, and she paid me, became my roommate and best friend since childhood, and helped me meet my future fiancé.

I probably should have given her a discount.

~~~

“Sweetie, wardrobe emergency!” Belinda blurted as she burst through the door. “We need a red dress!”

It was the end of summer and the beginning of the new year at university. I had finished my Master’s and re-enrolled for a Bachelor of Education, thinking that the only outlets for five years of Pure Mathematics study were either research or teaching. I’ll try teaching first.

Belinda was still an undergrad and had been on campus for O-week (Orientation Week), checking out all of the new clubs and societies and seeing who had the best freebies and the best parties.

“We? Or you?” I asked, and not just because I didn’t see how ‘we’ could both need the same dress. I’m small; small hips, small waist, small 8A bust; but Belinda is tiny, under five feet tall with size 6 hips and waist and an 8C bust that looks bigger because of her stature. We don’t share clothes.

“Neither,” she chirped, her eyes sparkling with excitement that suggested she was in the grip of one of her grand plans. “It’s for you, but you need my help.”

“Why …?” Goodness, which question did I want answered first? Let’s work backwards; Belinda doesn’t make mental leaps easily so she’s easier to unwind that to reset. “Hang on, why do you need to help dress me?”

“Sweetie, you know I love you, right?” she looked uncharacteristically serious for a moment.

“Um? Sure, OK.” I sensed a trap, but didn’t know what it was.

“Good,” she said. “So you’ll understand how much it hurts me to say this, but it comes from the heart. You can’t dress sexy for shit.”

“O-o-o-okay,” this was not news, I really couldn’t dress sexy for shit. This conversation was starting to make more sense; Belinda was trying to hook me up bostancı escort and a sexy dress was part of her plan. “So why do we … no, why do I,” I stressed the last word, “need a sexy red dress?”

“Because I’m taking you to the HAGS launch,” she smiled and took both of my hands, eyes still glinting with barely suppressed glee. “And it’s going to be FILLED with single, undergrad science geeks.”

Oh my God, she answers one question and raises three more! I wasn’t going to back-track her this time; she could give me the whole darn story from the beginning.

“Slow down, Blin,” I took advantage of her holding my hands and made her sit down. “Why science geeks? Why are they single? What is HAGS? And why would I let you take me? You got all that?”

I could see the cogs turning as she thought through my list, then control returned to the forebrain and she smiled at me again.

“Yes!” she began excitedly. “One: Why science geeks? Science covers ninety percent of geekdom. I was generalising. If it makes you feel better there will be undergrad geeks there and I’m pretty sure the science faculty will be represented.”

“Okay,” I wasn’t sure that answered anything but I let her continue.

“Two: Why would they be single? Please! They’re geeks.” She looked serious for a moment. “And I don’t mean that in a nasty way. It doesn’t mean they’re ugly, just socially awkward. Like you!”

I don’t think she intended that as an insult, but it stung a little anyway, mostly because it was true.

“Three: HAGS is the Hermione Granger Appreciation Society …”

“The WHAT?” My heart froze. Even in the presence of my most trusted friend, someone who would never knowingly hurt me, I still felt a bolt of fear at the mention of that name out loud.

“I know, right?” she said. “It doesn’t make sense. I don’t think they’re really dyslexic; they just wanted to make a word out of it.”

“But why would I want to go to the Hermione Granger Appreciation Society?” I hoped my voice didn’t sound as cold as it felt. I sensed only good intentions in her and she didn’t deserve the frosty glare that was probably on my face.

“Really?” she looked confused. “Well, firstly: seven pristine Harry Potter First Editions on your bookshelf. And second – you might not realise this – but you kind of look like her.”

“Don’t be silly,” I waved her away, but a chill was stiffening the hairs on the back of my neck.

“I’m serious,” she said, fiddling with her phone. “I didn’t see it at first either, but Andrew and I went to see Deathly Hallows Part One and he pointed it out when she came out in this gorgeous red dress. Here: look!”

She turned her phone around. I didn’t need to look; I knew exactly what it was: Emma Watson, all grown up now (well, eighteen or nineteen) and utterly beautiful in a scoop neck, knee-length red dress. I went to see the movie on my own and was completely enchanted; she looked like a princess, not a witch, and for a couple of hours I sank back into that old magic and lived the adventure with her.

“Mmm. Maybe,” I frowned.

“Mmm. Definitely!” she nodded. She held up the phone beside my face. “Actually it’s closer than I thought; just pin back your hair and pack your boobs into a tight bodice and you’re HER!”

“Don’t be ridiculous!” I waved off the hand holding the phone. “She’s beautiful.”

“Are you fishing for compliments, Jeannie?” she teased.

“You’re not going to give up on this, are you?” I sighed.

“Nope,” she smiled. “Because I’m right.”

“Okay,” I said quietly. “You’re not the first to point it out.” And then getting back on topic: “So you want me to wear that dress so you can hook me up with undergrad boys. Why would undergrad boys want to hook up with me?”

“Do you want me to get the phone out again?” she glared at me, but there was love in there too. “The HAGS sign-up desk has a life-sized cardboard Hermione in that dress! That’s what gave me the idea. They’re already in love with you!”

“Okay, point taken,” I conceded. “You think I’m geek catnip.” I rephrased: “Why would I want to hook up with undergrad boys?”

“Because you haven’t had a date in the almost eighteen months I’ve known you,” she lectured. “And geek boys are like training wheels; you say ‘Hi, my name’s Jeannie,’ and if he doesn’t faint, you tell him how much you like Star Wars – or in this case, Harry Potter – and then just let him run like a wind-up toy while you work out whether you like him. He won’t try to grab your ass or your tits, and if you have to cut him loose, he won’t yell at you and call you a frigid bitch, because that conversation you just shared was the most intimate experience he’s had with a girl in his life.”

“You’ve done this before, haven’t you?” I laughed.

“What’s more amazing is that you haven’t,” she giggled. “But seriously,” she put on her serious face for a moment, even though ‘serious’ ümraniye escort bayan for her is always a pretty thin veneer. “Most geeks are really nice. They’re grateful to have a girl just talk to them and they’re really biddable.” Her eyes were glinting again.

“Biddable?” She was bringing me around.

“Just show them where to lick and let them go,” she grinned.

“BELINDA!” I swatted her hand in mock horror. I don’t think she knew I was a virgin, otherwise she might have been a bit more tactful. Or maybe not, she’s just that kind of girl.

~~~

“I’m not so sure about this anymore,” I said nervously.

I was standing in front of my full length mirror with Belinda beside me. I looked frightened. She looked, I don’t know what; if she was a guy I would have said ‘love struck’. She was staring at me in what looked like adoration.

“I look ridiculous,” I said.

“You look amazing,” she husked, licking her lips. Costume-wise, Belinda looked comical; her tiny figure dressed in a child’s grey Harry Potter school uniform with her breasts bursting out of the too-small white school blouse.

We were both Hermione, but we couldn’t have looked more different. With a half-cup push-up bra lending me some shape, the tight bodice of the crimson dress stretched across my small breasts, separately outlining the modest curve beneath each one. I had to keep touching them to make sure they were real. The scoop neck-line revealed a broad, smooth décolletage and for the first time in my life, a suggestion of cleavage! I twisted my hips back and forth to flare out the skirt; it had a gorgeous floral detail underscoring the bodice and four chiffon ruffles down the front to give it extra volume.

I did look amazing. I knew that Emma Watson was beautiful, and I knew that I looked like Emma Watson. For a mathematics major, you’d think I’d be able to piece that together.

Belinda had done my hair: long and light brown, parted over my left eye and pinned back at the temples to frame my face, and I had done the makeup, just some eye-liner and lip gloss.

“Are you sure?” I asked. I had never dressed up like this in my life and I felt like I needed constant reassurance.

“Uh huh,” she said, swallowing. If she didn’t have a boyfriend I’d swear she was batting for the other team.

“Well let’s go, then,” I said, turning to face her, my voice betraying none of the butterflies in my stomach. As frightening as this was, I was secretly overjoyed to be my childhood heroine for a night.

Chapter 3 – Wicked Bitch of the West

When we arrived at the HAGS party it was already well underway with loud music and lots of people. It was an outdoor function on the lawn behind the Sports and Rec. complex, and with typical undergrad ingenuity, someone had hooked up a couple of guitar amps to their mobile phone and backed in a Toyota Hilux ute and filled the tray with ice, domestic beer, and both types of pre-mixed drinks: Jim-Beam-and-Coke AND Johnny-Walker-and-Coke. Awesome! Just what it was like when I was an undergrad. I could come back in fifty years and they might have a new ute, but everything else would be the same. In their defence, the type of girls who typically come to these things already liked beer, so a few bottles of bubbly or chardonnay would just be a waste of precious student union funding.

Belinda had joined HAGS the day before, but I had to present at the signup desk, which was manned – and I use the term loosely – by a spotty 19-year-old whose mother probably still bought all his clothes at Target. Not that I should judge. His jaw dropped and his eyes popped when I stepped up to the desk and he gulped audibly as he handed me a ballpoint pen. I had to bend over the table to fill in the form and when I looked back up again there was a decidedly rosy glow to his cheeks to match my dress.

“Can I … um … get a …?” he held up his phone questioningly.

“A photo?” Belinda trilled. “Sure! Miz Watson loves photo ops with her fans.”

“BELINDA!” I hissed. I doubt he believed her line of bullshit because I had to show him my student ID a moment earlier to sign up, but Belinda’s attitude spoke of a desire to milk as much fun out of me as she could tonight. If I’m being honest, I’d have to admit I was enjoying it; the boy at the sign-up desk wasn’t the only one looking at me with his mouth open, and some of them were bordering on cute to good-looking.

Belinda took his phone and ushered him around the desk to stand between me and the life-sized Hermione cut-out. I gave my hair what I hope looked like a playful flick and put my arm around him. The poor guy didn’t know what to do with his hands, he was too overwhelmed to touch me.

“Smile!” Belinda sang.

I turned my head and got up on tip-toes to give him a kiss on the cheek just as she took the photo and a small group of onlookers burst into spontaneous kartal escort applause. I didn’t know what to do then, so I just gave them a smile and a wave and Belinda hurried me towards the beer-ute for a drink. She fished two cans out of the ice and we opened them to a stereo hiss of escaping gas.

“A toast,” she smiled mischievously, holding up her can. “To Hermione,” she said.

 “To Hermione,” I agreed with a big grin and took a mouthful of beer.

“Queen of the maths geeks,” she continued with a giggle. “May she forever have her choice of hot undergrad boy-flesh.”

I snorted and almost blew foam out my nose but settled for an uncontrolled coughing fit instead, with Belinda laughing and clapping me on the back.

“You’re a bitch, Belinda,” I said smiling, not a trace of malice.

“To Belinda,” she toasted again merrily. “Good bitch of the South.”

“Judy Garland’s ghost will haunt you for that,” I laughed, and then drank along with her.

With a can of beer inside me and a lot of laughing, I had a little buzz on; I couldn’t remember ever having so much fun. Belinda and I weren’t the only girls there, but all the others seemed to be partnered up. Andrew hadn’t turned up yet, so even though Belinda had the appearance of a single girl, in reality I was just about the only one.

Belinda was playing a game of Guess the Major with me, pointing out a more or less geeky guy and trying to guess his Major. Her knowledge of science was pretty limited, so I kept guessing ever more improbable and nerdy branches of mathematics and physics, making up justifications for my choices based on how they looked and what they wore.

“What about that guy?” she asked, nodding towards a short, round guy wearing a red T-shirt with a silver triangle that looked like a super-hero insignia.

“Easy,” I said. “Spherical Trigonometry.”

Belinda giggled dutifully at my wit. “And him?” a tall gaunt guy with a droopy moustache.

“String theory,” I said, deadpan.

“That’s not a real thing,” she giggled. “How can you have a theory of string? What about sticky-tape theory?”

“They missed a golden opportunity there,” I said. “They called the next one Super-String Theory instead.”

“You’re making this up!” she poked me.

“I am not!” I laughed. “Don’t you want to know what came next?”

“Super-Dooper String Theory?” she guessed.

“That’s pretty close,” I laughed. “Second Super-String Theory.”

“And they let these people walk around free?” she snorted.

“Don’t worry, you’re safe,” I said. “Physicists hardly ever leave the lab. The ones here are all high-functioning.”

“You’re not very nice to your fellow geeks, you know,” she said, laughing.

“They’re not my geeks,” I smiled. “I’ve had two beers. I have the I.Q. of a humanities undergrad now.”

“Jeannie!” she hissed at me with a big grin. “Wicked bitch of the West!”

“I told you, don’t go there,” I drained my can of beer and felt a warm buzz in my middle. “Judy Garland’s ghost will rip off your head and shit down your neck.”

“You’re having fun, aren’t you?” she laughed. “Let’s get you another beer and then we can find you some nice men.”

We were making our way over to the beer-ute when Belinda’s phone rang.

“It’s Andrew,” she said. “Hang on, it’s probably some lame excuse for why he’s late.”

She answered it, but couldn’t hear properly over the music. She caught my eye and held up a finger – just one minute – and then trotted off to find a quieter place.

I realised with a chill that I was all alone without my wing-girl for protection, and yep, everyone was watching me. Well, not everyone exactly, just all the single guys. I felt like a leg of lamb dropped into the shark tank, and in a moment they would start to feed.

I looked around in desperation, thinking that maybe I could mitigate things by choosing my own guy to talk to. As I searched the faces, one guy stepped through the crowd, searching around like he was lost. He was pretty short, about 5’6″, but still taller than me even in low heels. He looked well-dressed in jeans and an open collar shirt that showed off a strong neck and a little bit of hair on his chest. His beard made it hard to tell the shape of his face, but he had cute cheekbones, dark eyes and thick, wavy, dark brown hair.

Still scanning the faces in the crowd, his eyes passed straight over me and then, like a delayed reaction, I saw them widen and flick back again, almost imperceptibly dropping to take in the tight bodice of my dress before he locked back onto my eyes.

I almost looked away, but with the boldness gained by a couple of cans of beer I kept eye contact and smiled. He was cute and exactly the type of guy that Belinda had brought me here to meet.

Miraculously, he came towards me. Oh shit, here goes. I wish I had another drink.

“Hi,” he said simply. “I’m looking for someone.”

Oh my goodness, that was bold! I guess I came here looking for someone too, but I’m hardly about to march up to a stranger and announce it.

“Well, perhaps you’ve found her,” I smiled. Holy crap! Who said that? ‘Cos it sure as shit wasn’t the Jeannie I grew up with!

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