Chapter 5 : V - Masquerade
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“I never realised Julia was going out with Barry.” Said Mercutio conversationally as the two boys strolled into the glamorous Great Hall. The four House tables had disappeared and happy and excited couples were gliding over the dance floor that resembled a vast, glassy lake. The floating candles had disappeared and were replaced by large hovering orbs of light. A large orchestra dressed in golden robes had been squeezed into a tiny corner of the Great Hall, and were packed so close together that the violinist were elbowing each other as they played, and the flutist’s all had the next person flute in their face. The conductor, a little grey haired man with withered features, was smiling out at his orchestra while standing on a large pile of books, and rather dangerously he was using his wand as a baton. The ceiling was overcast with heavy grey clouds that gave the whole hall a claustrophobic feel. Scorpius looked in the direction that Mercutio was indicating to see Julia and that stick insect Barry in the middle of a stiff waltz. They looked content with each other, their love pure and perfect, something which Scorpius himself secretly longed for.
“Oh well, I must resign myself to having fun tonight!” joked Mercutio as he began to search for an available partner to dance with. There were many single girls hovering around them, hoping that one of the two single boys who had appeared would ask them to dance. Once Mercutio had asked a pretty Slytherin fifth year to take a turn with him, he gave Scorpius a wink as he disappeared onto the heaving dance floor with her. Scorpius looked quickly into the crowds, expecting the goddess Rosaline to stand out for him, but he couldn’t find her. Scorpius stopped for a moment; maybe she was trying to be fashionably late, yes that sounded right. He let the excited, happy atmosphere of the ball wash over him. Scorpius loved parties, and the frivolous extravagance was all part of the enjoyment for him. But the thing that would make this the greatest ball of all would be Rosaline being his. The waltz music was just so romantic and it tugged at Scorpius’ heart strings. There was no way that Rosaline couldn’t fall madly in love with him tonight. Confidence filling his large heart, he began to stroll away from the door and think about Rosaline’s fall from Albus’ grace.
“Come on Rosie, one dance. That is all I’m asking, one dance.” Uther looking pleadingly into his girlfriends deep blue eyes. Rose was not having any of it. The point of her mask was to remain disguised and inconspicuous, and for one night she did not want to be the famous girl second on “Witch Weekly’s One Hundred Most Eligible Women”. She had been so pleased she had not come top of the list, that spot was reserved for Victoire. By dancing with Uther and making herself the centre of attention she would be totally ruining her idea of not drawing attention to herself.
“Rosie, come on please! You know you want to dance with the Wizarding World’s Most Eligible Bachelor.” Smiled Uther, holding out a thick arm for Rose to take. Rose gazed at him, and thought of this game of charades they were both intent on being the victor of. She did not want to act her way through life, putting on fake smiles and manners just to appease people.
“Look Uther, I’m just not in the mood.” He sighed heavily and then drew away from Rose, putting his large hands in his pockets, obviously feeling totally dejected. Rose began to look anywhere but at Uther, she knew how he felt, and Rose didn’t think she could lead him on in this merry dance any longer.
“Cecelia’s over there, she doesn’t have a dance partner. Why do you ask her?” said Rose kindly, patting him on one broad shoulder. Uther smiled sadly, and turned to look at Cecelia who looked extremely occupied at staring at Rosaline, plotting ways in which to kill her without being noticed. Uther turned back to Rose and took one of her snow white hands in his coffee coloured ones.
“Right, but you’ve got to promise me Miss Rose Hermione Weasley that you will dance with me this evening.” Rose smiled as brightly as she could and promised Uther that she would waltz with him. He delicately kissed her hand and peered into her face for a few moments. Then Uther nodded curtly and turned to Cecelia, dragging her onto the dance floor. Rose, on an impulse, decided it would be best for her just to disappear and become just another face, so maybe she could avoid dancing.
Avoiding all her friends and the people who knew her the best she could, Rose began to weave her way through the crowds, making sure her mask was securely fastened, so no one would ask her to dance. Rose quickly came to the conclusion that she had been in this vast, hot ballroom for ten minutes and that was far too long for her, she craved the coolness of the night air and soon she found herself out on the neat little veranda outside the Great Hall that led into some overgrown pleasant Pleasure Gardens completed by a spiralling maze.
It was a lot quieter outside, more peaceful, just the way Rose liked it. There were several hovering balls of light that lit up the veranda. Rose found them warming, but she felt like venturing into the Gardens to get as far away as possible from the noise.
It did not take long for Scorpius to find Rosaline as she always liked to be centre of attention. Rosaline was hand in hand with Albus, shrieking with laughter at some pathetic joke he had just told. Scorpius slowly followed Rosaline and Albus as they left the dance floor in each other’s arms. He was not quite sure how but he would have to wait until Rosaline needed a drink and then slip the tantalising golden liquid into her Butterbeer, and then she no longer had control. She had no choice but to abandon herself to the love she had for Scorpius in her heart.
He had to be careful as he moved past James Potter and his best friend Robert McLaggen, the handsome offspring of Cormac McLaggen, the Keeper for the Tornados, and his wife Susan Bones. Robert and James wandered round the school jinxing any Slytherin who happened to breathe in their presence. James had one arm around his girlfriend Ella Finnegan, while Robert was holding her twin Sister Lisa’s hand. Moving as quietly as he could, Scorpius managed to skirt round them and continue on the trail of Rosaline and Albus.
“Rosaline, how about we go outside into the gardens, get some fresh air.” Suggested Albus, putting one thick arm around Rosaline’s tiny frame. Scorpius flushed with anger as he watched her giggle and peck Albus on the cheek and nod happily, as Albus pulled her out of the French doors that led out into the garden. Scorpius stalked the two of them as quickly as he could, nothing would stop him getting what he wanted, and he was a Slytherin after all.
He managed to push his way through the people standing on the edges of the dance floor. Some looked terribly nervous, almost panicked about being asked to dance. Others were glaring into the waltzing couples, singling out the person they wanted to dance with the most. Rosaline and Albus had disappeared into the darkness outside, and picking up the pace of his walk, Scorpius pulled his black mask over his eyes, and headed out into the gardens to find them.
The hedges were tall around Rose and the leafy walls seemed as if they were closing in on her. Rose began to walk slightly quicker, as she wanted nothing more than to shake off this depressing mood she was in. Rose had always been like this, prone to being taken over by melancholy, sad, overpowering feelings. Maybe it was because she felt lonely? Rose didn’t know. She lifted her head at the sound of talking.
“Look James, mate, I’m just going for a walk, nothing sinister! Lisa, darling, go get us a drink, I’ll be back in a moment!”
Robert’s voice echoed through the night air, and the voice spurred her onwards through the maze of hedges. She didn’t fancy meeting Robert on a dark night as he always spent the summers hitting on her whenever he visited her house with James. Rose’s heels crunched against the gravel that formed the path to the maze as she began to jog, letting the cold night air hit her face. Rose guessed she must be making so much noise, but she knew what Robert was like and was convinced he was in hot pursuit. Rose breathe came quicker as she ran, her heart beating fast. Running felt so good, it was the perfect way for Rose to leave it all behind.
She took a path to her right on a whim and hurtling down the narrow passage she tried to listen to any sound. There were other footstep noises in the night air than just her own, she was convinced of that. Then her heart sank, she was at a dead end. This was her life; every way she went was a dead end with an oncoming enemy hot on her heels.
“Hey, Weasley. Saw you leaving the Hall, thought I’d join you.” Came the deep voice of Robert McLaggen. Rose sighed as she turned round. She wanted nothing more than to run, except there was nowhere to go. His broad figure blocked anyway of dodging around him and a nasty smiled appeared on his undeniably handsome features. Everyone agreed that the Gryffindor Seventh Year Quidditch Star was good looking, but because of his personality, Rose knew she would rather go out with a toad.
“Hello McLaggen.” Spat Rose, hoping that her voice was filled with enough venom to let him catch her drift. It took her a couple of seconds to realise she had totally backed into the hedge wall behind her, and there was nothing she could do to stop him advancing on her. He leaned into her, and Rose could smell him and the most overpowering aftershave ever.
“I also saw you rejecting Shacklebolt. Good call; you want someone who isn’t a daddy’s boy.” He whispered leaning in closer. Rose felt like she wanted to vomit, preferably over Robert, but she kept herself composed as she thought wildly of a clever retort.
“What? Like you, you mean?” she said viciously, attempting to push him off. He chuckled as he looked straight into her eyes, and Rose froze in horror. Realisation dawned on her. There was nowhere to go, and what would McLaggen do to her?
“Go on baby, give us a kiss.” He growled, his voice almost menacing. Rose desperately tried to push him off, but at the same time she kept him talking, not quite daring to look him in the face. How could this be happening? Every summer she managed to avoid him, but maybe that was because she could easily disappear into the masses of Weasley relatives and friends.
“What about Lisa?” asked Rose, her heart beating a million miles per hour in utter panic. He had her pinned against the hedge now, and was running a rough hand up her arm. He was still laughing and Rose felt scared. Gryffindor’s are meant to be brave, she thought as he came in to close for her liking.
“Go on, just one little kiss!”
“I don’t think she wants to mate.”
The third voice seemed to come from nowhere. Rose’s heart lifted upwards, her saviour had arrived. Robert moved to the side so Rose could see the man who this voice belonged to, her hero. He was fairly tall, and muscular, but not as wide as Robert. He wore long billowing black dress robes and a black mask, obscuring the top half of his face. The black robes worked as a counterpoint to his white blonde hair, and it gave him an almost angelic appearance. He seemed familiar, but Rose could not quite place him. He had his wand drawn and it was pointing directly at Robert.
“Now, my man. I think it is probably for the best if you let this young lady go.” The mysterious man said, as Rose smiled at him. He was not focussed on her however, but McLaggen, who seemed to be in the middle of a difficult decision, deciding whether to surrender or continue to fight.
“Oh, I don’t think so, mate,” said Robert, grabbing Rose’s wrist. Rose, despite her usual policy of never acting like a damsel in distress, sobbed in pain at his strong grip. Rose felt so taken away with the moment, which had an almost fairytale quality, and it also reminded Rose clearly of “Zorro”.
“Look, I don’t want to ruin your evening, but at the same time, I can’t have you ruining this ladies evening either.” Robert laughed at this suggestion and pulled Rose close to him and kissed her on the cheek, making her flinch violently.
“She doesn’t mind, do you babe?” Robert said confidently, wasting the opportunity to pull out his wand and striking the mysterious saviour. Rose scoffed loudly at his suggestion, but he responded by gripping her wrist even harder. Rose screamed in pain, and this was evidently the final straw for her masked hero.
The mysterious man cast a silent spell, that hit Robert directly in the chest, and he suddenly started to scratch himself violently. He jumped away from Rose as he removed his cloak and threw it to the floor, but to no avail, it just made him scratch harder. In one movement, Robert pushed past Rose’s saviour and screaming, “You’ll pay, both of you”, he disappeared into the darkness.
Rose stared at her saviour for what seemed like eternity, but she didn’t care. Rose felt mesmerised, she had thought occurrences like this only existed in romance fiction books, but here was someone to sweep her off her feet. Then Rose suddenly pulled herself together, she just didn’t do things like this. Only Julia believed that you could fall in love on the spot like this.
“Love? Is that what this is?” Rose asked herself, almost scolding herself for the mere suggestion of that word. Rose Weasley didn’t fall in love! Neither of them had said anything, they had both been locked in this kind of trance. Rose felt it was probably best to say something, so she mustered all the energy she could to help her words get past this barrier of emotion. “Well, thank you.” Rose stepped forward, expecting him to move out of her way, but he stood perfectly still, watching her.
That was the moment that Rose first looked into his eyes. That was also the moment that her life changed forever. In his eyes burnt the passion of happiness, the freedom, the love she had always craved. In his luminous grey eyes she saw beautiful icy lakes in the middle of tall, majestic mountains. She saw warm fires, and heard laughter. She saw immense kindness and intelligence, but last of all she saw fireworks.
She had barely registered that his lips were on hers. The feeling was so natural that it was almost giddying and she flung her arms around his neck, her heart beating in unison with his. To Rose it felt like finally she was finding the other half of herself who had got lost one day when she was very young, and she had been secretly waiting for ever since. Melancholy and Depression fled from her soul and were replaced by a new feeling, which she recognised instantly as true love.
This was nothing like her formal, static relationship with Uther. It wasn’t awkward and confusing as it was between Julia and Barry. It wasn’t about competition and the protection of your own pride like it was with Cecelia, Albus and Rosaline. And yet, it wasn’t the routine love that Rose’s parents had. It was all these things at once, but at the same time it was none of them at all. It was unique and special and Rose had never felt anything like the escalating joy that she had now.
When they broke apart, it felt it was at the exact right time. Nothing was forced; it was as if the two of them were going through life to the pace of the exact same rhythm and singing harmonising tunes. Rose thought that she had been running head first through her dismal life full of meaningless thoughts and scepticisms that now counted for nothing. All that mattered was the two of them gazing at each other, both positive that they had found their soul mate.
Suddenly there was some loud laughter and chattering voices. Rose looked at him as he turned round to look for the source of the noise. He turned back and gazed at her one last time, and then curtly nodded and stood up straight.
“I must go,” Rose’s heart fell, she couldn’t lose him now, after enduring a whole lifetime of searching for him, “but tomorrow night, yes, tomorrow night, at midnight, meet me under the beech tree by the lake.” Rose nodded enthusiastically and let him kiss her on the cheek. “See you then.” He turned away from her and ran away into the night, and disappeared as quickly as he had appeared.
Rose’s lips and cheek burned where he had kissed her. She wasn’t quite sure what she had been doing her whole life, why she had been wasting her time on silly trivial things when she could have been with him. She now understood why people adored love so much, because it was nothing on this earth. It wasn’t man made, it was heavenly.
She hit the ground as she came back to reality as left the dead end because she was met by her cousin Albus and Rosaline, hand in hand. Rosaline looked quite disconcerted that she had been interrupted in her private time with Albus, but Albus grinned at the sight of Rose.
“What you doing out here? I hope you’re not out here snogging someone, as Uther is wandering around inside looking like a lost puppy!” Albus joked. Rose was thankful that it was so dark as otherwise Albus and Rosaline would have seen her go crimson. Rose smiled, her mind not fully on the conversation she was having with Albus, but spoke anyway.
“No, I better go find Uther, I did promise him one dance this evening.” With that Rose followed her cousin and Rosaline back into the Ball, the prospect of dancing with Uther not as terrifying as now she had tomorrow night to look forward to. Thoughts of her angel filled her mind as she walked inside, oblivious to the fact that the golden liquid and broken vial she stepped on when she left the maze had been dropped there by her saviour.
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