The condition of being oneself or itself, and not another
The month of October passed by quickly, and uneventfully. After the first few hectic weeks I had had back at Hogwarts, I found this sudden calm more than a little unnerving.
Lucius had made the transition back into his usual, sweet self - being nothing less than the perfectly attentive boyfriend I used to know. The mysterious whispering, and not to mention the unexplained disappearances, had ceased completely. These days, the only place Lucius ever disappeared to was the Quidditch pitch - as he threw himself wholly into his role as Captain.
And I couldn’t help but notice how grown up Regulus seemed with every day that passed. No longer did his eyes hold the heavy burden that I had always thought never belonged there. He seemed genuinely happy – and for that, I was glad.
Xavier and I had kept up our new friendship – much to the suspicion of many
of his Ravenclaw friends. My plan to sabotage Lily through Xavier was still fresh in my mind. And with Xavier all but eating out of the palm of my hand, all I had to do now was wait for the opportune moment.
And even Severus seemed to have an unexplained bounce in his step. The strange tension that had previously lay between himself and Lucius had all but vanished into thin air.
Everything had gone back to normal. That was with one exception – Sirius Black.
Ever since that night in the Great Hall over a month ago, there were no more snide remarks in the hallways. No more sneers, taunts, curses. The only thing I did ever receive was the occasional dark glare from James Potter. But apart from that, it seemed that in Sirius Blacks world, I didn’t exist.
“Oi, Alex! Pass me that dress, would you” Bellatrix’s head poked out from behind the bathroom door, her dark hair a dripping, wet mess of curls. She clutched a white, fluffy towel around her body, indicating that she had just stepped out of the shower.
I turned away from the mirror I was currently standing in front of before grabbing a silk, scarlet dress off Bella’s bed. I trudged over to the bathroom impatiently, almost falling over Kendra in the process - who was sitting cross-legged on the wooden floor in front of her bed, which Violet was perched on the end of, madly pinning up Kendra’s mess of auburn curls with a million pins.
“You couldn’t have made things easy by taking this in before
you showered, could you?” I said bitterly as I shoved the bundle of silk into Bella’s outstretched hand, and promptly spun back towards the mirror I was previously using.
“Be careful with that, it’s expensive!” Bella barked at my retreating back before slamming the door closed.
Tonight was October 31st. Night of the infamous Seventh Years Halloween Masquerade. Every year, the seventh year students of each Hogwarts House would come together for one night of sugar and alcohol infused fun – Supposedly frowned upon by the faculty, though it was widely known that Dumbledore gave consent for this event every year. How else would Hogwarts Head Boy and Girl ever manage to pull off a secret party in the Astronomy Tower – as it was rumoured that was where last year’s Masquerade was held.
However, since this year’s Heads were none other than Lily Evans and James Potter, we Slytherins weren’t particularly looking forward to the event.
Mainly because seeing how pathetically in love James Potter was with the red-headed tyrant that was Lily Evans, we knew it was more than likely for him to have let the “mini McGonagall” have her own way - as far as the Masquerade planning went. Meaning that we were expecting to be on our way to some ridiculously daft tea party in the Gryffindor Tower – where any form of fun would be severely frowned upon.
And Merlin knows that living under the same roof as Bella’s parents, we had already had more than our fair share of those.
But supposedly, the whole point of the Halloween Masquerade was to let the senior students of Hogwarts mingle together in a social environment without having to care about which House they were from.
Oh, how exciting that sounded. Not
Another requirement of the night was for everyone to show up in costume, and surprisingly enough, none of us had chosen to be a witch for the night.
Isobel, who was currently perched on the end of her bed painting her nails a sparkly-gold colour, was dressed in an elegant white gown with a golden halo charmed to float above her blonde, pinned-up hair. None of us were surprised at her choice of costume, really.
Kendra and Violet had decided to wear matching costumes. I honestly had no idea what the hell they were supposed to be, but it involved a lot of black lace, glitter and enormous
Bellatrix, not surprisingly, had opted for the role as devil – complete with horns, tail, and a pitchfork I highly suspected will have been used as a weapon more than once before the end of the night.
I surveyed my own reflection in the mirror that stood before me, with mixed emotions. If anyone else but me was wearing the same costume, I more than likely would have tagged her a blood-sucking slag – which made me feel even more self conscious about the whole thing.
I was clad in a dangerously
short black mini-dress, with a neckline that wove its way up into a ridiculously large collar. My hair hung in loose waves around my shoulders and my lips were coated in a disgustingly bright, red lipstick which Isobel had so kindly gifted to me last Christmas. And to top it all off, my feet were dressed in a pair of shiny heels which were almost the same shade of the lipstick itself. All in all, I didn’t exactly look like any Vampire I had ever seen – but at least it was Halloween, and I wouldn’t be the only person at the Masquerade who looked like a complete and utter idiot.
Half an hour later, the five of us left our dormitory, and went over the clue to the location of the Masquerade once more as we walked through the chilly dungeon corridors.
“Beside that which is black as night is where you’ll find the shining light
” Violet repeated the clue once more “Black as night? How are we supposed to find this place with a stupid clue like that? It’s almost midnight, for Merlin’s sake - everything
is black as night” she complained as she fussed about with her short, chestnut coloured hair.
Kendra wrinkled her nose in thought “It must be out on the grounds somewhere. Maybe black as night means the sky?” she suggested, earning a hiss of laughter from Bella.
“How can you have a Masquerade beside
the sky, idiot?” she mocked, causing Kendra‘s face to turn a deep scarlet in embarrassment.
“Cut it out, Bella” I snapped icily “I don’t see you
trying to help us figure out the clue”
Bella glared at me darkly in return “Fine, let me think about it”
We had just exited the door leading us from the dungeons into the Entrance Hall before Bella spoke again.
"The lake" she spat out simply "It's black as night, so the party must be at the lake. See? I'm a genius, really" she added, with a smug look in my direction.
I shrugged my shoulders in response "We'll soon find out"
And soon enough, we marched down the path towards the lake only to find a large, dark marquee lit up with shining lights. Bella threw me a triumphant smirk, which was still visible even after she pulled her glitzy, red mask down over her eyes.
I held my own mask in my hands. It was rather plain - black lacquer with a few sparkly diamantes in each corner. In a swift motion I put it in place over my eyes, and tied the silk ribbon behind my head to secure it firmly.
As we entered the marquee, a rush of loud music hit my ears and I was amazed at how different it looked from the picture I had in my head. The marquee itself was midnight black, with the outside covered in tiny, twinkling lights. The inside was dimly lit in an eerie green glow and littered with glowing pumpkins, sticky cobwebs, dozens of dolled up students and best of all, a massive skeletal-looking bar located at the far end of the marquee – which Bella was hastily making a bee-line towards.
I sped off, almost losing sight of the scarlet clad girl, and viciously made my way through the various vampires, ghosts and pumpkin people until I finally caught up with her at the bar.
“Merlin’s beard, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you move that fast in my life” I gasped and leaned side-on against the bar to catch my breath.
Bella laughed dryly “If there’s anything that can brighten up this night, its alcohol” she drawled as a ghastly-looking bartender propped down two smoking glasses of a rather putrid looking green liquid on the counter top in front of us.
Bella slid the closest one over to me “I ordered for you”
“What the hell
is this” I questioned, looking at the drink apprehensively.
Bella, who had just taken a swig of the stuff, dropped her drink back down on the bar with a loud thump, sending puffs of silver smoke flying out of the glass.
Tentatively, I lifted my own glass to my mouth and took a gulp – almost immediately spitting it back out. Merlin
, this thing was strong. Trust Bellatrix Black to order the most toxic drink at the bar.
Bella rolled her eyes at the disgusted look that my face had scrunched itself into.
“C’mon, drink up. We have to go and find the boys” she downed her drink swiftly and ordered a couple more.
I wasn’t looking forward to it – but I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and tipped the scorching drink down the back of my throat. Once my taste buds had sufficiently ceased the blaze that the green liquid had struck upon them, I opened my eyes slowly and grimaced when I found yet another cup of the lethal fluid, full to the brim right in front of my nose.
The very sight of it made me feel nauseous – I seriously didn’t think my stomach could handle another. Bella pushed the drink into my empty hand nonetheless, and led me away from the bar.
By the time we found Evan and Rodolphus near the marquee entrance, my drink was half gone and a familiar buzzing sensation had decided to invade my brain. I pushed my mask off my face so that I could set straight my lagging sense of vision.
The first thing I noticed was that both boys costumes consisted of dark suits, white shirts - and gruesome masks which I thought bore a shocking resemblance to a pair of rotting corpses.
I grimaced at the picture that imprinted in my mind, shaking my head to rid myself of it. A short, piercing scream hit my ears for a moment, followed by a series of girlish giggles and I chuckled at the scene of Bella being pounced upon by an utterly hammered Rodolphus Lestrange.
Next thing I knew, without any warning at all my glass of toxic waste had been snatched out of my unsuspecting hand by an equally hammered Evan Rosier, who pulled his mask off over his head and brought the drink up to his nose to study it intimately.
“What in the name of Salazar have you got in here?” he questioned before giving it a quick sniff. I had to admit that his very appearance was laughably outrageous without the mask covering his face. His sandy hair was an absolute tousled mess, the jacket of his suit hung open, the top buttons of his shirt had come undone and there was no sign of a tie anywhere. It wasn’t hard to guess that these two had already gotten into Rodolphus’ stash of Firewhiskey.
I narrowed my eyes, letting a smirk crawl onto my lips “That, Evan - is the best
damn drink you’ll ever taste”
Evan raised a single eyebrow inquisitively before taking a swig of the foul liquid, scrunching his face in disgust and pushing it back into my hand.
“I’ll let you keep that” he rasped, with a knowing smirk.
I grinned in return before suddenly noticing the absentees.
“You guys came without Lucius and Sev?” My forehead burrowed into a slight frown.
Evan lowered his face to mere inches within mine. A dark grin played on his lips as he purred “Whaddya need them for, sweetheart? You’ve got me”
With one swift move, Evans arm found its way around my waist and he pulled me against him roughly. The distinct smell of Firewhiskey assaulted my nostrils and I grimaced at the memory of it – I knew all too well how carried away Evan Rosier could get when he had had too much to drink.
I reared back immediately, disentangling myself from his grasp “Evan
!” I hissed in a low voice, warning him to back off.
“Oi, you two!” I almost jumped right out of my skin as a rather dishevelled looking Rodolphus called over to the pair of us. He had parked himself on a chair at one of the nearby black-clad tables, with a giggling Bellatrix perched upon his lap.
“Be a good lot and fetch us a coupla’ drink’s will ya? I’m a tad busy”
I rolled my eyes as Rodolphus went back to nuzzling the nape of Bella’s neck, leaving me and Evan feeling very much like vomiting on the floor in front of us.
“Right then, beautiful” Without any warning Evan grabbed me firmly by the hand “You’re coming with me”
After numerous shots of vodka, and a couple more of those foul tasting drinks called “Dragons Breath
” as the bartender had so kindly informed me – I was a right sloshed mess.
The four of us were seated on a pair of comfortable, leather couches positioned around a low table, now joined by Kendra, and a few boys we had learnt were from Ravenclaw – but were yet to find out the identity of.
There was still no sign of Lucius or Severus – and Evan was in no hurry to divulge any information on that matter, much to my annoyance.
Rather uneasily, I got to my feet and announced I was heading to the bar to get another drink.
“Pick one up for me, will ya sweetheart” Evan spoke from his seat next to mine.
“Sure” I answered, mentally thinking “Yeah right, you’ve had more
than enough already mate”
I made my way tentatively around the dance floor – which had been positioned in the centre of the marquee – taking care not to bump into any of the madly drunken dancers or trip over in my heels, when I suddenly felt a firm tug on my arm.
Gently, I was steered to the side of the marquee and pulled out between one of the gaps in the structure. Like a rush of ice, the crisp night air hit me, and I found myself face to face with none other than Xavier Stone.
His doe-brown eyes were burning into me with a strange intensity – his fingers fidgeting nervously.
“I need to talk to you” he spoke softly, lowering his face so that I could hear the whisper of his voice.
I pressed the palm of my hand against my forehead and closed my eyes tight in an attempt to steady myself. There was no way I was in any condition to talk to Xavier right now. Not if I didn’t want to sabotage the plan Bella and I had been working on for so long.
“Look, Xavier. Now’s not a good time” I countered, making my way back to the marquee before I was abruptly yanked back again.
“Alex, there’s something I really
need to tell you”
I looked over Xavier’s appearance quickly. He was dressed in a creamy, white suit – no sign of a mask anywhere, but that wasn’t surprising, most students had lost theirs in a drunken stupor by now. His cropped, russet hair was slicked back off his face in a way that, I had to admit, made him look nothing less than irresistible.
I stumbled a moment, only to be steadied by Xavier’s firm hand on my arm – it seemed he was the picture of sobriety.
“Woah there” he chuckled lowly “You okay?”
I removed my arm from Xavier’s grasp, my forehead burrowed in a small frown as I moved back to the marquee.
“Yeah, I just – Can we talk later?”
Whatever Xavier wanted to tell me would have to wait. I pushed my way back into the marquee, my ears assaulted by the pumping of the loud music as I did so.
All but slumping against the bar, I waited for a bartender to finish his orders. My mind wandered briefly as I stood there. We had been at the Masquerade for over two hours, and still there had been no sign of Lucius, or Severus anywhere. I knew Lucius had his costume already – he had shown it to me only a couple of days ago. Why would he get a costume especially for the Masquerade if he wasn’t planning on showing up? Or maybe, he had planned to attend all along, but something had happened to him...
A loud thump
of a glass – spilling out its frothy, pink contents on the counter top next to me – almost scared me right out of my skin.
A mutinous-looking blonde-haired girl was glaring at me from under a white, wide-brimmed witch’s hat. I laughed openly when I soon discovered it was not a “blonde” at all, but Serenity wearing a ridiculous long, blonde wig. She however, was not laughing – the look on her face was deadly serious.
?” I mocked as I leaned forward to rest my elbows on the counter top, feeling instantly disgusted at the stickiness that clung to my skin as I did so.
“Don’t give me that tone, Alex – I saw you
” Serenity hissed at me – her ice-blue eyes narrowed into dangerous slits, and her mouth pressed in a tight, thin line.
me?” I choked, having absolutely no clue what she was talking about. Though that wasn’t surprising – she was completely mad
“Did you and Xavier have a nice romantic stroll under the moonlight? C’mon, tell me Alex – Is he a good snog
?” Serenity spat sarcastically, though the fury was evident in her tone.
My own eyes narrowed dangerously “What the hell are you on about, you lunatic. How the fuck
would I know that?”
Serenity wasn’t convinced “Do you really
think I’m that much of an idiot – I saw you leaving the marquee with Xavier” she glared, and now I began to understand the sudden confrontation “It’s a bit of a coincidence, isn’t it? That he dumped Lily only a few days ago, and now he’s sneaking around with you
I laughed aloud – her sheer stupidity was utterly amusing “First of all, I don’t think you’re an idiot, Serenity, I know
you are. Secondly, I didn’t know until now
that Xavier had broken up with Lily, though I’m glad he’s finally come to his senses” I sneered, earning a hiss from Serenity’s glossed up lips.
“And thirdly, he is not
sneaking around with me”
Serenity raised an eyebrow slowly “I find that hard to believe. I wonder if your boyfriend will too?” a triumphant smirk lit up her caked-on face before she turned on her heel and skipped off.
I groaned inwardly as I watched her retreating back as she slipped away and sat at a table on the far side of the room. Horrible, interfering wench
. Lucius certainly wouldn’t be happy to hear a rumour like that going around.
Next thing I noticed was Lily Evans hunched over the same table, her head hung low with her long, fiery hair covering her face. She was dressed in what looked to be a figure-hugging, emerald dress - the bottom half of which was covered in glittering sequins to look like the tail of a mermaid.
Amazingly, the figure beside her, rubbing her back consolingly, was not that of Serenity Cortez – but James Potter
. My eyebrows arched a little in disbelief – never before had Lily Evans let James Potter so much as lay a finger
I assumed that she was crying over the so-called news about Xavier and me. Well, at least there was one upside to Serenity’s foolish stalking – the whole point of my plan had been for Xavier to break Lily’s heart. And even if it had happened sooner than I had planned – it had
Ah, the taste of revenge was a sweet, sweet
I smiled with satisfaction – that was until I felt the stormy eyes of Sirius Black boring into me. He was seated at the same table, on Lily’s other side. No doubt he had been dragged there once again by that lovesick idiot he called his best mate.
The expression he wore was unreadable – all of a sudden I felt incredibly unnerved.
I tore my gaze away from him and stumbled away from the bar, forgetting about ordering another drink. Roughly, I pushed my way through the mess of students madly dancing in the middle of the marquee.
Along the way I bumped into a frenzied looking Kendra – who was dancing rather provocatively with one of the Ravenclaw guys from earlier on, her auburn curls tumbling out from their previous pinned up positions. On closer inspection of the bloke – who was now devoid of the mask he had been wearing earlier in the night – I was amused to find it was none other than Maxwell Simmons – Xavier’s best mate.
“Alex!” Kendra squealed over the rush of music, loosening her grip on Maxwell’s neck for the moment.
“Have you seen Violet around? I haven’t been able to find her for hours!”
Not that it looked like she was searching
very hard, I shook my head in reply – I hadn’t seen Violet since we arrived. Though I had no doubt she would be doing much the same as Kendra was this very moment, only in a more secluded location.
If only I had known then how right
I left Kendra on the dance floor with Maxwell, before making my way over to the marquee entrance and once again out into the night. For a moment I stood still, swaying only the slightest bit while I closed my eyes and let the cool air roll over my face.
I had no idea exactly where I was going, all I knew was one thing – I had to find Lucius before Serenity did, and explain to him what was really
going on with the whole topic of Xavier Stone.
And I was prepared to do just that – until a pair of warm arms wrapped themselves around my waist from behind, and I found myself being pulled back against an even warmer chest while a familiar voice purred “And where do you think you’re
running off to, sweetheart?”
A/N:Hello again! How'd you like the chapter? I hope it wasn't too random haha and not too much of a wait. Sooo there's a little bit of mystery in this chapter once again. Where is Violet? Where are Lucius and Severus? And what the hell is going on with Alex and a certain mystery man who's name starts with 'E' and rhymes with 'smevan'. All will be revealed in the next chapter! As always, please review and let me know what you think xo