Chapter 11 : The Ball.
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As you hopefully already know, I didn't write Harry Potter.
The day of the dreaded Christmas Ball came far too quickly for Lily and James. Plan “Get-Over-James” was well underway, and Lily managed to sit in the Heads’ common room with him for over an hour without once thinking inappropriate thoughts about his hands, or his eyelashes, or his hair. They were planning a speech that was going to be spoken into all the common rooms before the Ball. To save Lily and James being unmasked and their anonymity shattered, they were going to make their address as Head Boy and Girl from their common room, leaving them to get ready without spoiling their evening. James added a final sentence to the parchment as Lily rifled through her charms book looking for the correct spell to increase the volume of their voices.
“I’ve got it. ‘Sonorus’. And ‘Quietus’ is the counter-charm.” Lily said, not taking her eyes off of the page. James looked up.
“Shall we, then?” He asked. Lily grabbed her wand and muttered the charm at her throat and then at James’s. The four Hogwarts common rooms, packed with students in varying states of preparation for the ball, fell silent as the pair began to speak.
“Uh…Good evening, Hogwarts. We’re Lily and James, your Head Girl and Boy, and we just wanted to say a few things before the Ball begins.” Lily began uncertainly. James continued.
“Firstly, we want to discourage you from going down to the Ball in large groups, as the point of this evening is anonymity. If you stay in your friendship groups, it sort of defeats the object of masquerade. Secondly, it’s advised that you keep your identity to yourself, just for the evening. It could prove very interesting. And thirdly, at 12 o’clock, you may reveal your identity to whomever it is you’re talking to, dancing with…or, uh, standing near?” Lily shot him a look and tried not to giggle before taking over with their pre-prepared speech.
“Tonight is a celebration of identity, more than anything else. Of the walls we all put up to protect ourselves, and the people we are underneath. Tonight, we wanted to give you the chance to replace your everyday mask with a new one.”
James cut in, “Masquerade gives us a sense of anonymity, the charismatic facelessness that we all crave at some point. You can truly be yourself when you’re hiding behind a mask, an identity, a façade. It’s okay to be yourself, when no-one knows who you are.” He smiled at Lily as she carried on.
“So, before you dismiss this evening as another crass Christmas event, take a moment to think about who you really are. Behind the mask. And maybe let this evening be the night you let that person out.” Lily paused.
“You might learn something about yourself.” James supplied, before she carried on.
“So, I think I speak for both James and I, when I wish you all a magical night, and a Merry Christmas.” She finished. James muttered the counter-charm as Lily sat down, smiling.
“That went well.” She said, breathlessly.
“You know me so well. I’ll be back in about forty minutes.”
She had showered, dried her hair and put on some make up before she heard him come back. She felt a little disappointed that they weren’t going together. Could she possibly be a little jealous of Frost? Dismissing the thought immediately from her head, she walked to her closet and picked out her dress. It was deep navy blue. She chose away from her trademark green because people would be expecting it. That way, they might not know it was her. She knew her hair would give it away, but it was worth a try.
Her dress was fine silk, knee-length, high at the front and low-cut at the back to show off her shoulders and lower back. She donned a pair of heels in the same colour and set to work on her hair and mask. Drawing her hair away from her face, she fixed it with a single swish of her wand. Looking at herself, she nodded. Very elegant, she thought. She donned a delicate silver mask bought in ‘Gladrags’ in Hogsmeade and rummaged around in her jewellery box. She quickly picked out some silver jewellery to finish the outfit and grabbed her wand. She was already five minutes late. Her and Mark had decided to carry a single, white lily each, so they’d each know who the other was. She conjured one quickly and, grabbing her purse, hurried from the room.
James stood in his room at five to 8 with a frown on his face. He attempted to flatten his hair again. It just wasn’t working. He was wearing elegant, black dress robes. Sighing, he gave up on his hair and grabbed the red mask lying on his bed. He removed his glasses and tied a knot at the back of his head to hold the mask on. It covered the brow of his nose and his eyes only. He flicked through a charm book and found a complicated spell to correct his terrible vision for one evening. Muttering the spell as he ran out of the room, he failed to notice the flash of red hair leaving the portrait hole in front of him.
Sirius and April had come down together. Sirius was wearing extravagant white dress robes and a white top hat. He had, it seems, dressed to reflect April, who looked radiant in a white, floor-length work of art. Together they made quite a pair.
Darcy, pretty in pink, had wandered off to talk to Alice and Frank because she didn’t want to be near Remus, and Remus was stood with Peter because he didn’t have the courage to explain to Darcy why he couldn’t love her back. They were hopeless.
Lily caught sight of the white dress she and April had picked out a few weeks ago and gave a small wave to the couple. They waved back. She scanned the crowd of masked Ball-goers in the hope of finding Mark, but instead her eyes rested on a girl in an icy-blue dress with long blonde hair. Frost. Oh, and there was James. Perfect. That was the last thing she had wanted to see. A look somewhere between disgust and disappointment crossed her pretty features as she turned away. She saw Mark standing by the stairs, playing with his flower and made her way over to him. He smiled as he saw her and commented on how beautiful she looked. They talked nervously until the doors opened and the Ball began. Mark and Lily took a small table to the left of the dancefloor and made uncomfortable small talk. James and Angelica were sat a few tables behind them and, despite having a very beautiful girl sat practically on his lap, James couldn’t keep his eyes off of Lily. She looked stunning.
“Do you want to dance?” Mark offered her his hand and led her to the floor. Slipping a hand around her waist, he proceeded to dance in the most ridiculous way possible, thoroughly embarrassing Lily in the process. She struggled to keep her laughter in as he flamboyantly twirled around the dancefloor. Whether consciously or unconsciously done, his terrible dancing put a quick end to their stint on the floor. Lily excused herself and went to find Darcy, laughing as she did so. Mark sulked a little and seated himself with a few friends in a corner.
Lily wandered around for a while, watching the dancers, admiring the general beauty of the hall and the festive air, looking for Darce and keeping an eye out for Potter and his minion. It wasn’t that she really wanted to see Angelica; it was more that her evening had been so hideous, and the only person she wanted to tell was James. With everyone being masked, it was almost impossible to find a recognisable person.
Resigning herself to solitude, she sat down at a table near the dancefloor and watched other people enjoying their night. After a while though, she noticed a boy sat across from her, on the other side of the dancefloor. He’d taken off his black, outer robes, exposing his white shirt unbuttoned at the neck and rolled up at the sleeves, and loosened his tie, but had kept his red mask on. As the dancing couples moved, he slid in and out of her vision. He too, was alone. She recognised the dark, messy hair and strong jaw line as James’s and smiled to herself.
James looked up from his hands and caught sight of a redhead sat opposite him. Lily. He’d managed to get rid of Angelica a bit earlier by some inexplicable genius, and had found himself looking for Lily, in spite of himself. They locked eyes. Her expression was unreadable.
“Come and dance with me.” She thought. “Come and ask me. I’ll say yes.” Looking at him across the dancefloor she saw him searching her face for any kind of favourable emotion.
Then, as if in slow motion, she saw him get up and walk through the dancers towards her. Without a word, he took her hand and she stood up. Together they moved to the centre of the room, and silently he slipped a hand round her waist as they began to dance. A million thoughts ran through Lily’s head; she wanted to say something, but didn’t want to ruin the moment. She thought about the way his hand felt against hers, how her heart was beating so fast it was a wonder he couldn’t feel it, but most of all, how they fit together so well that Lily thought she’d been made solely for this moment. It was so right, she was scared.
Out of the corner of her eyes she could see Mark looking hurt and rejected, Angelica looking furious, Remus and Darcy sitting in uncomfortable silence, April and Sirius dancing outrageously, and Peter attempting to make conversation with the 6th year he’d danced with at Sirius’s birthday party. She smiled a little, but her focus quickly slipped back to how close to James she was.
From the moment he had worked up the courage to dance with her, his mind had totally gone to pieces. To James, nothing existed in the Ballroom but Lily, right there in his arms. He couldn’t trust himself to speak sensibly.
When 12 o’clock came, their masks disappeared. There were a few gasps from around the room as people realised that Lily and James, the famous duo, were dancing together peacefully. Lily looked at James. A slight blush crept onto her cheeks and she felt the glares of the girls in the room.
“What do we do now?” She whispered, talking to him for the first time that evening.
Without opening his eyes, James thought for a moment. Pulling her closer to him, he answered, “We just keep dancing.”
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