Chapter 18 : Masks and Magical Sprites
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The common room was empty, except for a few seventh years lingering about. It was ten-to-nine, and there were only ten minutes before the ball officially started. The fire of the common room was slowly dying, its flames minimizing to nearly dying embers, signifying the emptiness of the common room.
Dominique, as usual, was taking her sweet time getting her last-minute touches into her gown. Two full hours put aside to get ready, and she still needed more time. She was bloody outstanding.
Tyler, who was considerate enough to take Potters’ advice, joined Desmond and Layla in heading down to the Great Hall first. We initially planned on minimizing the interactions between Tyler and Dominique as much as possible, or else all hell would break loose, and we’d only have ourselves to blame.
Now, Potter and I were stuck waiting for the queen to make her awaited appearance.
It was silent and awkward. Silence has never been awkward with Potter. Not usually, at least. It’s always been comforting, and… heartfelt, as weird as it was. Now, it was just awkward. There was a gigantic wall labeled ‘tension’ sitting in between us, and it seemed as though neither of us were willing to be the first to break it.
Potter… he was being Potter. He was being that nonchalant asshole, as always. I, on the other hand, could not help but remain to be a fucking spaz. I was fidgeting with anything I could get my hands on, and I could not remain in one spot for more than five bloody seconds. It was as if I had consumed a gallon of sugar, only, I hadn’t. I was on a fucking high because of this boy who couldn’t give two fucks about the way I felt.
“Would you please,” Potter snapped abruptly, sounding irritated. I swiftly turned, my eyes landing on his eyes, which were shut tightly. “Just sit down?” he asked through gritted teeth. “You fidget more than anything else I’ve ever seen.”
I glared at him instinctively. “I’m sorry if I inconvenience you, Potter.” I spat.
I almost growled. “I don’t appreciate you ordering me around like I’m some bloody dog.”
He released an exasperated sigh. “I don’t see why you must make everything so bloody difficult, Vic.” His fingers reached up to pinch the bridge of his nose. “It’s like every bloody thing has to be an argument with you.”
“Because you make everything a bloody argument, you insufferable pra —” I stopped myself before I got any further. “You know what…” Deep breaths, Victoria. Deep breaths. “I’m going to go down first. You can wait for Dom. I’m sure she wouldn’t have been too happy to learn that she’d be stuck with you and I — or just me for that matter — for the next five minutes anyway.”
I guided my thick, red gown around — I guess you could say that this was my attempt at a ‘dramatic exit,’ as non-dramatic as it may seem — and made my way to the portrait hole. I kept my eyes straight, and willed myself not to look back. The significance of the effect would minimize otherwise. But I, being the stupid, stupid, girl that I am, just could not bloody help myself. Before taking a step out of the portrait hole, I slowly turned my head, taking one last look at Potter.
He was sitting where I had left him. His elbows were pressed against his knees, and his eyes were glued to the ground.
Scowling, I immediately turned around and allowed the portrait to shut behind me. He did not look bothered. Not one bit.
I bumped into Fred on my way downstairs. Surprisingly, he was flying solo.
“How goes it, Freddie?” I greeted, as cheerfully as possible.
He gave me the most charming grin he could muster. “I’m about to have the night of my life, Vic. Why are you alone? My idiot cousin not around for once?”
I frowned at him. “Your idiot cousin hat — happens to be my boyfriend.” Oh.
“You two are still together, right?” he asked as he held out his arm and helped me down the steps like a gentleman. “I’d hate to lose five galleons to Roxy.”
“Are you two betting on how long P — James and I would last?”
Fred simply offered me a grin, and clapped his hand above mine twice. “Have a lovely evening, Victoria.” He said, once we reached the great oak doors of the Great Hall. “And if I didn’t already say it, forgive me, but,” his eyes raked my body, making me feel ridiculously self-conscious. “You look gorgeous tonight.”
Despite myself, my lips broke into a smile as I watched Fred strut through the entrance, while a black mask immediately whisked itself in front of his eyes.
Unsure of what to do with myself at that point, I scanned the crowd, suddenly feeling incredibly alone. My eyes landed on a familiar looking arrow sticking out from the backside of a suit of armor. My eyebrows knitted into a frown as I squinted my eyes, in hopes of clearing my vision.
“Desmond.” I whispered, finally realizing what it was.
Mustering up my awesome ninja skills, I swiftly approached the suit of armor and pressed my lips as close as possible without smearing lipstick against the opaque metal. I pursed my lips and whispered, “Boo,”
“You’re not scary, Vic.” Desmond mumbled from the other side.
I cursed under my breath.
“Shhh.” He always shushed me before a shot.
“Desmond, you’re not exactly being sneaky right now.” I whispered harshly. “I spotted you about ten feet away!”
“Shut up, Vic.” He retorted.
I listened carefully as he took a deep breath, and released the arrow from his bow, causing it to fly right into a girls bum. There was a loud, painful, shattering cry that rang through our ears.
As always, I winced and looked away, finding the entire process revolting to watch.
Desmond, as always, stepped out from behind the suit of armor, and began the process of pocketing his bow and arrows. “Where are James and Dom? Aren’t you supposed to be go —”
“I KNEW IT!” Another loud, shrill cry abruptly tore through our thoughts. “I BLOODY KNEW IT!”
I whirled around, coming face to face with Sylvia. She looked smug, as if she had just successfully proven someone wrong. Shit. “What are you on about now, Sylvia?”
“Don’t you dare try and deny it anymore. I saw what he did.” She pointed an accusing finger in Desmonds’ direction. “I heard that girl scream, and I saw you putting your bow and arrow away. Don’t you two dare deny it anymore!”
Shit. “You’re mad, has anyone ever told you that before?” I asked, placing a hand on her shoulder. “Blistering mad.”
“Shut up,” Sylvia roughly shoved my hand away, and returned to staring straight at Desmond. “You’re a cupid! And now I can prove it! I CAN BLOODY PROVE IT NOW!” Without another word or warning, Sylvia ran for the Great Hall with fervor. She looked just about ready to blab to the entire school that Desmond was some sort of undercover Cupid.
We shared a worried look, Desmond and I. For once, we did not know how to fix this situation. Denial certainly could not work any longer since she practically caught him in the act, and accusing Sylvia of insanity has been played too many times.
However, the moment Sylvia walked through the threshold of the Great Hall, she stopped. A mask with a mixture of white and silver embedded in the lace magically appeared on her face. We watched carefully as she scanned her surroundings in an almost confused manner. Her once-too-eager hands relaxed by her sides before she floated off to the middle of the Great Hall, where the rest of the students were gathered.
“What the bloody hell just happened?” I asked, turning to Desmond. “She just… it’s like she just completely forgot what happened…”
“Let’s pray to Merlin that she did.” Desmond breathed, looking more worried than he sounded. “C’mon, it’s about time we went in. We’ll meet Dom and James inside. Layla and Tyler already went ahead.” He wrapped his arm around my shoulder and led me towards the double doors of the hall.
Before stepping through the threshold, I took a breath and examined our handy work. Although the lot of us did not stay long enough to see the final outcome of the decorations, we managed to get the structure of the entire hall down for the rest of the prefects to finish up. I must admit; it was gorgeous. I’ve never seen the Great Hall look more enchanting in my entire life. I felt like I was about to step into a fairy tale, created especially for us. I stole a glance at Desmond, only to find that he did not look as blown away as I did. Frowning, I grabbed his hand, which was lazily slung over my left shoulder, and squeezed. “Don’t worry,” I reassured. “We’ll find Sylvia, and we’ll work something out. It’s nothing we’ve never done before.”
He smiled down at me, and kissed the top of my head.
Together, stepped through the entrance, and almost immediately, I felt as though my entire world has changed.
Desmond’s arm dropped from my shoulders the moment I felt soft, velvet-like material slipping itself around my eyes. My vision blurred, and my chest constricted slightly. I blinked several times, and all of a sudden, I found myself wondering why I was suddenly standing in the Great Hall.
The last thing I remembered was walking into my dormitory with the intentions of getting ready for the ball, and yet here I was, dressed and ready.
The overwhelming effects of the situation made me feel as though I was drugged. I felt woozy, and not to mention, confused beyond belief. There were many masked faces surrounding me, but I did not know who any of them were. I cold not even recognize the color of their hair, or their body-built. Strangers — strangers who I’ve known for years, surrounded me.
“I hope this magical night,” Headmistress McGonagall’s voice called each and every students’ attention to the front of the hall. “will help all of you see whatever is behind the mask.”
The boy who was previously standing next to me stalked off, and, unsure of myself, I did the same, except in the other direction. The music started playing, but there was barely anyone dancing.
I walked to the left side of the hall and grabbed myself a drink. It smelled fruity, with a hint of alcohol. I wasn’t sure if it was simply faux, or if someone already spiked the drinks, but I drank it anyway. My taste buds became overwhelmed with sweetness, followed by a hint of bitterness, and then came the familiar searing of alcohol that usually settled in the pit of my stomach. Someone definitely spiked the drinks. I wrinkled my nose, a little disappointed that there would not be anything to drink that did not take my own senses away from me. I was not intending on getting drunk at all that night, especially when I was surrounded by people I did not know.
Adjusting my dress, I went to stand by an open window. The night was cool, and it kissed my skin so delicately that I could not bear to step away. I was enchanted, in more ways than one. No matter how long I basked in it, it was impossible to get over the magical qualities of the castle.
A hand suddenly reached for my back, winding around as its owner stepped around to face me. He was wearing generic dress robes, with a purple and silver tie, and a matching mask. His hair was blonde, and ruffled behind the extending corners of the mask. His eyes were glossy and brown. If I didn’t know any better, I would have guessed that he completely out of it.
“Would you like to dance?” His voice was deep — almost chilling. His hand was extended forward, and it looked unfamiliar.
Unintentionally, I scanned the crowd, although I wasn’t sure what it was that I was looking for.
Before I knew it, I turned back to him, and nodded with a smile. He smiled back before he led me to the middle of the dance floor. We joined the handful of couples that had mustered up the courage to find a partner for the night.
I could not blame the rest.
There was something nerve-wracking about being surrounded by strangers.
“Your eyes are glossy.” He commented.
“So are yours.” I replied.
My own voice surprised me. It was unnaturally high. I did not sound like myself, and I’m sure he didn’t either.
“Are your eyes naturally grey?” he questioned.
I shook my head. “No… strange. Are yours naturally brown?”
He shook his head. “They really went all out with this Masquerade ball.” He twirled me, and I complied. “Although I must admit, it makes everything more magical.”
“It does, doesn’t it?”
“So what house are you in?” he asked suddenly.
I frowned, unsure of whether or not I should disclose that information. “I don’t know why it should matter.”
He shrugged. “I just don’t want to ma —”
Anything he said beyond that went in one ear and out the other. At that moment, my eyes landed on a boy with dark brown hair, and piercing grey eyes. His hands were tucked into the pocket of his trousers, and there was an… interesting look on his face. The entire left side of his face, including his eyes, was covered with thin, black material, leaving his lips, nose and right cheek uncovered. He was clad in a plain, light grey dress shirt, and a black vest.
He was… captivating, and yet, I did not even know who he was.
I noticed his eyes following mine. As I twirled and pranced around the dance floor, my eyes would always return to his, and I would find him staring right back. His lips were slightly curved, in a manner that I could not entirely distinguish. I reckoned it was his lips that captivated me the most. The way it curved slightly in an almost inviting way.
I could not take my eyes off him.
“Do you mind if I step in?” A tall, lanky boy, dressed in red and black robes, stole my attention. “I think you’ve danced with her long enough.”
The flash of irritation swept through my previous dance partners’ eyes. Nevertheless, he released my hand, and calmly walked away.
The way boys just passed girls from one to the other is beyond me.
My new dance partner immediately took my hand in his, and began leading me in a robot-like movement. I was, to say the least, uncomfortable. His arms never moved, and his feet repeated a constant pattern that made me feel as though I was running in circles. His eyes were glued to mine, and I could not help but notice how his were emptier than anyone’s I’ve ever seen.
“You’re very beautiful.” Was the first thing he said that night.
I smiled appreciatively. “Thank you.”
“I wish I could know who you really are.”
Once again, against my will, my eyes landed on the mysterious boy I was previously staring at. He was, this time, leaning against the wall, near the open window I approached earlier that evening. His attention, however, was not directed outside the castle. Instead, and forgive me if I am wrong, it was directed in my direction. He was still staring at me — looking at me with piercing eyes. I could almost feel the holes burning into my body, and I couldn’t deny the discomfort I felt under his gaze. I found myself wondering what he found so interesting. The magic was surrounding us, and I was definitely not the source. His attention should be captured by the instrument-less music that is coming out of thin air, or even the endless array of falling glitter that seems to disappear every time it makes contact with skin. The indoor moonlight perhaps, or the dimmed torch lights that never flickered, even against the wind. Yet, his eyes were still glued to mine, making it impossible for me to focus on anything else but the grey pigment that had captivated me so.
“I wish I could know who half the people in this room are.” I responded, realizing that my partner has been waiting for an answer. I tore my eyes away from Mr. Mysterious, and turned my attention back to my partner. It was only polite to do so.
“You could tell me your name.” He suggested.
“That would just take the fun out of everything, now wouldn’t it?”
“Doesn’t it bother you that you don’t know who you are dancing with?
I shrugged. “I guess that’s the point of the entire night, isn’t it?”
“I’m just practical.”
More and more students paired up and filled the dance floor. The music was still slow and steady, creating a natural and pleasant rhythm for everyone to follow along to. Everyone except my partner that is, who seemed almost incapable of leading in a different direction, other than I bloody circles. I grew dizzy, and I needed a drink.
Not realizing it at first, my mind wandered off to Potter. My eyes scanned the room, and I dipped into my own bowl of curiosity, searching for that familiar head of messy, jet black hair. I wasn’t sure if the magic would have impaired his appearance as well — it probably did, I was just being hopeful — but I still continued searching. I wondered what type of girl he could have possibly been dancing with.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the only girl wearing a dress that fell around her thighs. She was dancing with a tall, overly enthusiastic bloke, with shaggy brown hair and broad shoulders. I rolled my eyes and thought ‘That must be Potter.’ If I just so happened to be wrong, then I was almost one-hundred-percent positive that Potter was lurking about somewhere close, waiting to get his turn.
“She’ll probably just be another bloody notch on his backboard…” I muttered to myself unknowingly.
My head snapped back into place as my eyes returned to my partner’s. “Sorry,” I apologized, and dropped my gaze. “Just mumbling to myself…”
The boy sighed. “You’re prettier than she, did you know?”
Surprised, I lifted my head and looked at him once more. His eyes were boring into mine. “What are you on about?”
“You.” He replied simply. “Although half your face is hidden, you’re much prettier than she. There’s nothing beautiful about a girl who walks around wearing almost nothing.”
“How… I’m not comparing our… prettiness.”
The corner of his lips curved slightly. “If you say so.” I watched carefully as his eyes traveled back to the girl. Her dress was a light shade of green, hugging her hips in an almost painful looking manner. “I wonder what those boys over there would do if she were a Gryffindor…”
Confused, I asked, “Why?”
The boy shrugged. “They might just see her differently if she was… They would definitely not be looking at her like she was a piece of meat.”
His words sounded strangely familiar, as we stood there and started swaying on the spot. I recalled a similar conversation in the past, except it was between… Potter — between Potter and I. “And why do you say that…?” Suddenly, he smirked. He smirked knowingly, and the smirk was strangely… familiar.
“There’s this unspoken rule for men that practically puts Gryffindor girls in the ‘untouchable’ zone. They’re datable, but there’s only a handful of us here in Hogwarts that would be able to shag-and-dump a Gryffindor without getting pissed at by her friends, beaten up by her boy-friends, or drowning in our own guilt.”
I blinked, suddenly rethinking my previous assumptions. Could it be, that this was Potter I had been dancing with? “And do all boys think this way? In Hogwarts, at least.”
He did a half shrug, half nod. “You could say so. Like I said, there are only a handful who are an exception to that rule. A handful, simply do not give a shit. And the rest of the Hogwarts population are too young to even be thinking about shagging in a broom closet.”
From then on, I scrutinized his every move. I mentally tried to match his movements and words with Potters’. There were times when he’d open his mouth once more, and I would suddenly hear Potters’ voice, instead of his. It was as if the words had come right out of Potters’ mouth, instead of this strangers’. The way he cursed, the way his upper teeth slightly grazed his bottom lip upon saying my name, and the way he occasionally ruffled his hair when he was embarrassed or shy.
Other times, he would pull stunts, that were usually sweet, such as offering pleasant smiles of reassurance, and reminding me just how beautiful I looked, which were things that Potter would have never done in a million years.
“You remind me of someone…” I started, as we walked off the dance floor. “It’s strange, you know. To find someone in a lot of unfamiliar faces… in this sort of manner.”
“Oh?” he piped up. “Who exactly do I remind you of?” his tongue darted out to wet his bottom lips.
I gulped, unintentionally.
Out of habit, and due to the discomfort of nervousness rousing in the pit of my stomach, my eyes left his and scanned my surroundings. He slowly led me to the set of drinks laid out on the long table, while my attention was captured by anything but him.
I noticed a masked couple loitering around the entrance. The girl was pressed up against the doorway, while the boy, with his palm pressed up against the wall beside her head, chatted her up. Not far from them, were a bunch of girls, lined up against the wall. A sense of sympathy caused my expression to falter once I realized that the lot of them was standing there because they were shit out of luck in finding a partner.
After handing me a drink, and seemingly, forgetting that he had even asked me a question, Mr. Nameless looked up and followed my gaze.
“Look at these wankers.” He mumbled, loud enough for me to hear. I turned to him, and he nodded towards a group of boys practically drooling over the girl from earlier that night — the one wearing a green dress. “There’s a line of girls for their taking, and they stand their, fawning over an overrated chick.”
I almost snorted into my drink.
By then, the stench of alcohol was strong enough to fill my nostrils before even taking a sip. The familiar smell was not as appealing to me as it normally would have been.
Before I could reply, or think of something else to say, Mr. Nameless was already halfway across the Great Hall, and headed for the line of partner-less girls. At first, his intentions confused me. But once he bowed slightly, and extended his right hand towards a short, stout, girl, who dressed in a bright yellow dress, I smiled. He was such a… gentleman — a bloody, downright, sweetheart. On the way to the dance floor, with the girl now hanging on his arm, he, surprisingly, turned back to me, and sent me a wink, followed by a large smile.
I watched from the sidelines as he twirled the now smiling and laughing girl around on the dance floor. I mentally promised to save him one last dance before the night was over.
“I think we know who the award for best charity case goes to.”
A chill clawed its way down my spine, followed by an inward shiver. The deep and chiseled voice that had just entered my ear caused chills, shivers, and an inevitable skipped heartbeat.
Turning, I caught sigh of Mr. Mysterious standing beside me, leaning against the protruding wall beside the corner of the window. The corner of his lips rose slightly at my sudden movement.
He looked, or at least the visible part of his face, looked more handsome up close.
“Your… friend over there.” He flicked his head over to my previous dance partner. “His patience must be mighty long to be able to bravely approach that line of girls.”
At that moment, I found myself disappointed. He was taking a piss on pitiful girls. But of course, how could I expect anything different. Someone as beautiful as he — of course, how could I have expected him to be anything but an arsehole.
“It’s a nice thing, what he’s doing.” I answered coldly. “Maybe you should try being a gentleman like him.”
He chuckled suavely, and rubbed his hand over his chin. “There’s a reason those girls are lined up against that wall alone.”
“Yeah, because the boys in this school are utter, and stupid pricks, who would rather shag a piece of ass, than a girl of quality.” I snapped angrily.
“Well… I must admit,” his eyes met mine, and he smirked. With his hand still in his pockets, he slowly approached me. My eyes were glued to his lips — the way it curved — it was just so bloody mesmerizing. His eyes stayed glued to mine, and an air of confidence mixed with a hint of arrogance surrounded him. He leant down, closer to my face, and whispered, “I do like a girl of quality,” before stalking off into the crowd.
I caught a whiff of his scent, and I frowned, after you know — floating onto cloud nine for a bit. It was too familiar… way too familiar. I couldn’t get my hands on it, but I knew I had smelled it before.
Mr. Mysterious then approached a similar looking boy. He was just as tall, and just as… handsome. A strip of black cloth covered his eyes, and his lips curved only slightly, in comparison to his friend. I frowned. The two stood there, discussing something for a while, before the friend approached the line of girls, and Mr. Mysterious delved deeper into the crowd.
At that moment, I was starting to get annoyed with the fact that I did not know who anyone was. I didn’t even have my best friends for support… I was bloody standing here alone, left to question not only their identities, but also their motives.
What the bloody fuck was going on?
Soon, I spotted Mr. Mysterious once more. He was now dancing with a girl I’ve never seen. She was wearing a purple gown, with a silver mask. Her curly brown hair was twisted into some sort of up-do, and various strands fell around her face. She wasn’t smiling, and neither was he. There was a… knowing look plastered on both their faces, and it made me wonder whether or not they knew whom they were dancing with.
A girl approaching the table came into view. After a glance, I thought it could have been Layla. Their bodies were similar, and the freckles on her nose looked awfully familiar. The flaming red hair would be the only difference.
“Having fun?” I asked, striking a conversation with the unnamed girl.
I still haven’t gotten used to my voice. Each time I opened my mouth to say something, there was always a part of me that, even for a split second, thought that someone else was speaking.
She picked up a glass, and downed its contents. “Oh, you know it.” She replied in a voice that was dripping with sarcasm. “They went a little bit overboard, the school did. We’re all basically flying solo tonight.”
“Not even a girlfriend for moral support.” I added in agreement.
“So did he get to you too?” she asked, as she placed her glass back on the table, only for it to refill itself. She picked it up again, and this time, she drank slowly.
I drank the remaining liquid sitting on the bottom. “Who?” I asked.
She pointed to Mr. Mysterious, who was still dancing with, who I will now call, Miss. Mysterious, all the way across the hall. “He’s been… claiming girls all night, with just one look.”
“I honestly would not expect anything different from him…” I trailed off.
“I certainly pray that he’s not a Weasley… or a Potter for that matter.” She said quietly.
I blinked, catching her words off guard. I turned swiftly, with wide eyes.
One of her arms was crossed across her waist, while her other elbow was balanced close to her wrist as she held the glass close to her lips.
“Lily?” I asked, incredulously.
Her eyes darted to mine, looking just as surprised. “What?” she asked quickly. “Who are you?”
The happiness I felt at that moment was beyond rainbows, sunshine’s and unicorns. I now had an ally. I had a bloody ally, and I was no longer alone. Win.
She let out a sigh of relief and pressed a hand to her bare chest. “Vicky, thank Merlin I found you. I was almost positive that I would have some sort of mental breakdown by the time the night was over.” She said. “Once I realized the enchantments we were put under, I was scared to death that I would end up coming across family.”
“Lils, I think every male in your family has adapted distinct behavior over the years that you would not be able to overlook, no matter how different their appearance may be.”
“Right you are, Vicky, but I’m still a little bit worried. I felt like I spotted James and Hugo countless of times, but each time, it’s a different boy. I felt like I was losing my mind for a moment.”
I thought for a moment while my eyes began to wander on their own accord. “Either you’re losing your mind…” For the second time that night, my eyes landed on Mr. Mysterious. Surprisingly, his eyes were already on mine. I jumped inwardly, and diverted my eyes back to Lily. “Or Potter is plotting something.”
“I always like to choose the latter.” She responded. “It always makes me feel better about myself, and not to mention, it always ends up being the explanation for anything and everything that goes on around here.”
“I say we investigate, don’t you Lillers?”
With a sly smirk, she placed her glass back down on the table, and turned back to me. “Right you are, Vicky.”
I must say, that for once in their lives, the staff did an excellent job with this one. The entire idea was clever. I initially expected the simplistic idea of hiding behind a mask, but this, this was perfect. As I stared straight at my previous appearance as if I was looking into a mirror, I could not help but inwardly praise the cleverness behind the evening. It simply made my night a whole lot more fun.
“Al...” I looked down at my appearance, grinning as I noticed the change in body-bulk. “Al, this is bloody insane.” Lifting my head, I looked into a pair of grey eyes that previously belonged to me. My brothers’ eyes were twinkling with mischief, and I knew that we were floating in similar waters.
“This is bloody stupid.” His eyes betrayed him, along with the shadow of a smirk creeping onto his lips. “This is… incredibly stupid.”
As we stepped away from the entrance, I rolled my eyes. “Al, would you stop pretending to be some goody two-shoe for about two seconds, and actually enjoy this? We can be with anyone we want to for the rest of the night — the best part: whatever we do tonight won’t even matter tomorrow morning.”
The smirk Al was trying so bloody hard to hide could no longer stay hidden. The corner of his lips curled, and he turned his head to scan the crowd. I could almost imagine the kind of damage he was plotting in his head… He was after all, a Potter.
Following Al, I turned back to the crowd. The girl in red, Al’s initial partner, crept up from the back of my mind, and I, surprisingly, found myself looking for her. I supposed I had more reasons behind my excitement than I let on. It wasn’t until I found her in the crowd once more, when I finally realized it. Even after the first time I saw her that night, I was not aware of my exponentially rising interest.
Looking back, my interest in a beautiful girl — a stranger, no less — was extremely cliché and it sounded like I recited a page straight from some muggle fairytale. Cinderella, or was it Beauty and the… bullocks, whatever the fuck it was, the bottom line: it was all one big cliché.
Yet, I could not help but follow her across the hall, just like I did when she was dancing with Al.
“And who would have ever guessed that all it took was simultaneously stepping through the threshold…” Albus trailed off, sounding equally impressed.
I shook my head in attempts to shove the mystery girl out of my head. “So, little brother,” I slung my arm over his shoulder in a big-brotherly manner. “We have to start somewhere, don’t we? I think I saw you talking to some girl earlier… did you get a name?”
All right, so I guess I just could not help myself.
He shook his head. “She was careful with her name. But the last I saw her was over there by the windows. She’s wearing red.”
I pretended to look over by the windows, knowing fully well that she was not there, but in fact, she was now near the front of the Great Hall, lounging on a chair by the band. “I don’t see anyone.”
“She’s wearing a deep… almost champagne colored gown. You can’t miss her, brother.” Albus clapped his hand on my back, while a girl who was standing not ten feet away from us stole the majority of his attention. “Be warned,” he added, turning back to me. “I think she’s a Gryffindor.”
I almost snorted.
The unspoken — even though it’s been spoken of many, many times — rule of all Hogwarts’ males: never fuck around with a Gryffindor girl, unless you don’t mind dying.
It was actually rather unfortunate… Gryffindors are fun.
Al was gone before I could even think of a response. His legs worked quick, seeing as he was already standing in front of the girl, holding out his hand with a smile on his face, looking like a bloody idiot.
The music changed, and I took this as a cue. Without having to flitter through the crowd, I spotted her quickly. The deep red curved around her body caught my eye instantaneously, and I almost grinned, despite myself. Almost.
“You look more lonely than you should.” I began once I reached her.
“Ah,” she smiled, turning to me. “Well, some bloke left me to dance with a less fortunate girl.” She looked away and shrugged. “I don’t blame him though. I thought it was a pretty sweet gesture.”
Definitely not a Slytherin.
“Well that’s me,” I grinned cheekily. “Sweet as honey.”
She gave me a strange look. The corner of her lips rose, and her eyes narrowed slightly.
Ravenclaw was definitely a possibility.
“So what happened to the girl you were dancing with?” she asked.
I shrugged. “Passed her on to some bloke.”
She frowned. “You talk as if she’s shortening blunt.”
I couldn’t help but chuckle. “He seemed interested, so why not?”
“I rest my case.”
Please, dear Lord, dear Merlin, please don’t let this girl be a Weasley or a Potter.
“Is that disappointment I hear?”
“Nope,” she shook her head. “Just… I’m still trying to figure you out.”
“It’s rather difficult trying to figure someone out if you don’t know who they are.”
“Yes, for all I know, you could be my best friend’s, boyfriend’s, ex-girlfriend’s, brother’s, nemesis.”
I’m leaning more towards Ravenclaw.
“For all you know, I could be your nemesis.” I raised my eyebrows thoughtfully.
Abruptly, she retracted her playful demeanor, as she suddenly looked uncomfortable under my gaze. She glanced in my direction, but looked away quickly. “I’ve thought about it.” She admitted quietly. “Like I said,” from behind the mask, her eyes flickered towards me once more. “I’m still trying to figure you out.”
I wasn’t sure why, but I couldn’t stop the smirk forming on my lips. “How’s that going?”
She crossed her arms over her chest and shrugged. “I’ll let you know when I get somewhere.” The playful smile simmering on her lips was enchanting. The plump redness drew me in, and I, unknowing, found myself staring. “I suppose you’re still curious as to who I am?” her tone was hopeful and playful at the same time.
“What makes you think that?”
“You’re still here, chatting me up.”
“I am not chatting you up.”
“We’re bordering small talk and wholesome conversations here.” She grinned.
I shrugged. “I suppose I’m just more into a girl of quality.”
She blinked. Her long eyelashes fluttered behind the lace of her mask, and I continued staring — again. “You can’t judge my quality yet. You don’t know me.”
“Which is why I am still sticking around.”
For a while, her face remained expressionless. She stared at me, with large eyes, and chewed on her bottom lip. Moments later, she parted her lips into an inviting smile.
I was sold.
I’m going mad. I’m going bonkers. I’m losing my fucking mind.
“You can’t honestly tell me that you prefer the Tornado’s over the Bats! I’ll admit, the Tornado’s had their time — yes, they wore the bloody crown of Quidditch, but they were completely out of line! Did you read the Quibbler?” She asked, sounding more defensive than necessary. “They tortured and tampered with their brooms just to gain their title!”
I rolled my eyes in an exasperated manner, even though I found the entire conversation enjoyable and amusing. “Women!” I exclaimed.
An indignant smile formed on her face. “Excused me?” She laughed.
“That’s all women look at! They don’t care about their technique, or their ability to play. All that matters to them is that they blackmailed their way to the top.”
“Well it’s true! How are you so sure that they’re the best if they’ve never played a game based on their pure talent?”
I shook my head, chuckling, and said, “Have you watched their matches? One day, I’ll show you. You will be amazed once you look past their public appearance.”
“You have all their matches?”
“All of them.”
She looked as though she was in awe. “I can’t tell if you’re a dedicated player, or if you’re just obsessed with men, strapped in Quidditch gear, while they ride around on broomsticks.”
“Well if we’re going to base the teams on that…” I laughed. “The Harpies look like a fine team.”
For the past twenty minutes, we’ve been discussing pro-Quidditch teams nonstop. I learned that she preferred the Ballycastle Bats, even though she was absolutely crazy for Puddlemere United’s Seeker, Benjy Williams.
I’ve never found a girl — a girl I connected with — who shared my love for Quidditch. Of course, my family did not and will never count. I’ve had several conversations with Lily, Roxy and Dom concerning Quidditch, but a girl — a girl who actually knew the sport… I never realized how incredibly sexy it was until that moment.
The worst part of the entire ordeal: This mystery girl may just be Victoria.
The best part — that is of course, if this girl really was Victoria: Just for that night, I didn’t have to be the same James Potter she knows and hates. For the next couple of hours, there was no Victoria and James. There were no enemies, just two strangers meeting each other for the first time.
“Most hated team?” I asked curiously.
“Definitely those bloody Wanderers… But then again, the Wasps are pretty terrible as well.”
I’m in love. I am bloody fucking in love and I regretted nothing. I didn’t care whoever it was sitting behind that lacey mask. She could be a bloody Slytherin for all it mattered. This girl was amazing.
“Did you see the Wanderers V. Canons? The Chaser threw the quidditch into his own bloody goal post, and then proceeded to ram right into the hoop.”
A loud laugh rumbled through my chest. “It’s a wonder how they were ever accepted into the league.”
“You play, don’t you?” She asked, before her eyes flickered forwards and away from me.
“Do I look like I play?”
“You sound like you do.”
I shrugged. I was determined to maintain my cool and mysterious exterior. “Anyone can know and talk Quidditch. The ability to play, however, is something completely different.”
She moved her lips thoughtfully as her eyes flickered to mine. “This narrows things down a bit then.” she said. “You’re a… Slytherin?”
“— No that’s not right. I think I’ll go with either Hufflepuff or Gryffindor.”
I smiled at her. “So you’re mentally playing this little matching game in your head as well?”
She shrugged, and I could tell that she forced away a smile. “What have I come down to? Ravenclaw and Slytherin I suppose?”
“Are you insinuating that you’re in either of the two houses?”
Again, she shrugged. “I’m not saying anything, baby,” was her playful answer. A small smile played on her lips before she turned away from me and spaced out once more.
“I think I’ve decided on Gryffindor.”
She was so much like her… It was uncanny.
The next few seconds proved her surprise. Her eyes widened, and a small quirky smile replaced her genuine one. “Really?” she questioned in a high-pitched voice.
“Am I wrong?”
“It’s just that… No one really pegs me for a Gryffindor. It’s always either a Slytherin or Ravenclaw.”
“So I am wrong.”
Her shoulders heaved into a shrug. I was starting to get annoyed with this whole evasive act we were both playing. Suddenly, her eyes darted across the room. Something else seemed to have stolen her attention for about the sixth time that night.
“You seem distracted.” I pointed out.
“I’ll…” She offered me an apologetic look as she took a step forward. “Could you wait a moment? I’ll be right back.”
Something told me that she wouldn’t.
Before she managed to get very far, I called out, “Hang on! Could I at least get a name?”
“I’ll be right back!” She replied.
With an angry huffed, I collapsed on a chair, sat, and waited. Within the first half hour of a civilized conversation, she was already doing a damn good job at pissing me off. Perhaps she really was Vicky.
Luck was never on my side. Ever since I was a child, luck simply never strolled down my street, not even to wave a simple ‘hi’. Thus, spontaneous and impulsive decisions never worked out, and will never work out for me. The situation always turned out messy, and complicated; and messy and complicated was not my thing.
This made me wonder why I was still stupid enough to impulsively walk away from my partner for the night, and follow Mr. Mysterious out of the Great Hall.
It was a spur of the moment thing. A whim, I suppose.
After watching him recklessly flirt with another girl wearing a short dress, overlooking the similarities between Potter and him became increasingly difficult. They shared that same stupid, foolish smirk; despite the fact that their appearances were completely different, their essences were similar. So I went for it. Well — more like the arrow went for it. Before I could even conjure a clear, coherent thought, I found myself excusing my presence and making way for the exit. I wasn’t even sure what I was going to do, or what I was going to say once I reached him. At that moment, all I could do was follow.
He didn’t get very far before my quickened steps caught up with his slow pace and long strides. In fact, he only got as far as the large double doors that passed as the entrance to the Castle. Before he was aware of my presence, he pulled out a small box of what looked to be magic-cigarettes.
At that moment, I paused.
He pulled out a long, white stick, brought it to his lips, and lit it with the tip of his wand. The scent engulfed me the moment he took the first drag and released the fumes. It was strong, and overwhelming. It wasn’t the kind Dom and I caught Potter with a few months back.
Suddenly, I found myself staring at Mr. Mysterious’ outstretched hand. The carton of cigarettes was in between his fingers, waiting to be lit. “Want one?” he offered casually, as if my presence was not unusual at all.
“No, thank you. I don’t smoke.” I answered, taking a step forward.
He shrugged while retracting his hand. “It’s magical. It’s safe, and it doesn’t bring forth addiction.”
“Then why smoke?” I asked, my curiosity getting the best of me.
“It’s satisfying, and stress relieving, I suppose.”
I laughed bitterly. “Is there never a sure answer for anything anymore?”
The corners of his lips rose into a smile, and he turned to look at me. “I take it you didn’t follow me out here to reject a cig and create small talk.”
“You get right to the point, don’t you?”
“This enchanted evening of ours is limited, unfortunately.”
“Who are you?” I asked, ignoring his previous comment.
“You’re not the only one who wants to know.”
“I’m the only one asking.”
“Do you have an idea?”
“You’re either a Potter or a Weasley.”
He smirked knowingly. “I’m both actually.”
Before I could even comprehend his response, he reached out, grabbed my waist, pulled me forward, and pressed his lips to mine. I elicited a surprised gasp before his lips crashed onto mine. The kiss was as spontaneous as my sudden absence from the great hall. The softness of his lips surprised me, along with the tenderness in his actions. His tongue merely grazed my bottom lip, instead of prodding its way inside and into my core. The kiss was passionate, yes, but it was missing the heat and the aggressiveness.
This… this was…
I was slightly breathless when we parted. Breathless, and not to mention, confused. His chest was heaving as well, while his eyebrows furrowed.
Tentatively, I reached up and grasped the corners of his mask questioningly; hesitantly. After a moment or two passed without a complaint so I pulled the fabric from his eyes.
He definitely wasn’t Potter.
No — scratch that.
This was a Potter all right, but it wasn’t the Potter I’ve been hoping for.
“Shit.” We cursed in unison.
A/N: sorry for the super long wait! i think it's been about a month since my last update ): i've been super busy with school & now that vacation is coming up, i have more time on my hands! hopefully. i'll try to update faster!
their night at the ball isn't over yet :) there's still part two, which is basically how the rest of the night unfolds.
any thoughts, comments, suggestions? leave a review! :)
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