When he tried again, she smiled coolly at him but let him put his arm around her waist. Parvati walked on the other side of him, talking excitedly about the outfit she was hoping to purchase. Lavender was somewhere, laughing. He could hear her.
"We're just waiting for Justin and then we can go," he said during one of Parvati's breaks for breath.
"Are we really?" Tracey asked. "Could he just catch up with us on the way?"
"Um, sure," he mumbled, hoping that Justin didn't mind. Reaching forward, he opened the door and ushered them through to the hallway.
"Not going to wait for me?" Justin asked from the stairway as the portrait started to close.
Ernie pushed it back open and walked back through. "Hurry up and get your jacket and you can walk with us."
"No thanks," he growled. "I'll find someone else so I don't get in the way of your new group of harpies."
"Don't insult my girlfriend!"
Justin just looked at him with that exasperated look he got sometimes and slung his jacket over his shoulder. "If you don't see the truth, I'm not going to tell you straight out. Figure it out for yourself."