Chapter 5 : Masquerade
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"He's snapped, Padfoot," Peter whispered, almost sounding frightened.
"I HAVEN'T SNAPPED, WORMTAIL!" James, er, snapped at Peter, who cowered behind Sirius, fighting a whimper.
"Calm the hell down, Prongs! It's just a ball. Everything's going to be fine," Padfoot said.
"Fine? It can't just be fine. Everything has to be ruddy perfect. I'm not going to bloody ruin her night!"
"James, calm down," Remus said smoothly, "We've planned everything out. Everyone is going to love this ball, including Lily."
James still couldn't believe the influence that girl had on her, though he would never admit that in front of Sirius. And the funniest thing? She had no idea. But still, James did it. He planned the ball, with the help of his friends, and now, it all came down to this. James was just hoping he could survive this in one piece.
No. That's a lie. All I want is for her to love it.
"Er, mate?" Sirius asked, "Maybe you should take a break from all that pacing and get ready for the ball."
"Yeah... yeah, good idea Padfoot," James replied, slightly spaced out.
The four marauders then spent the next 5 minutes or so just making sure they looked presentable, seeing as they were going to have their clothes charmed on at the ball. Well, three of the marauders took only 5 minutes. James kept looking at himself in the mirror, debating whether his hair was 'too messy' or 'not messy enough'.
"For the love of Godric, Prongs! Stop acting like a girl and let's go."
"Okay... Just let me try and fix up this one last-"
"James," Remus said firmly, "Step away from the mirror."
James pouted, but did as his mate said, and soon enough, they were walking down to the Great Hall for what was hopefully going to be a good night.
Meanwhile, in the Seventh year Gryffindor girls' dormitory, the girls were also prepping for the ball. But despite the fact that they would be supplied with their clothes and masks at the ball, they had still been doing their hair, their makeup, and their nails, for the past hour.
Lily was the first to finish, never one to wear much makeup anyway. She decided on just a light smear of lip gloss, and minimal eye shadow and mascara for her eyes, seeing as those were likely the only things that would be seen after she put on her mask. She also left her hair down, but added a few braids here and there to make it appear more formal. She was soon joined by her friend, Ella Morgan, who wasn't one for much makeup, either. Lily admired the touch of shimmering silver eye shadow that she had decided to wear, and how she had placed her sleek, chestnut brown hair into a neat bun, but had added her 'special touch' to make it twirl here and there, making such an intricate bun that only Ella would have the talent to do.
"I like your hair, Ella," Lily told her friend with a smile.
Ella gave a tiny laugh, "You say that all the time, Lily."
"I mean it all the time!" And she knew it was true. Ella was one of those people who were born and blessed with perfect hair. And she was one of the rare few who had the knack to style it, and make it look even better.
"Is Maia still in there?" asked Lily, trying to sound annoyed, but knowing she couldn't be with her friend.
"Oh, you know Maia. She loves to get dolled up any chance she gets," and the two waited patiently, talking to each other until finally, their friend Maia Jarvis appeared in front of them.
"Finally!" Ella exclaimed, "We thought you inhaled too much hairspray or something."
"Ha, Ha," Maia replied sarcastically, "Laugh all you want, but perfection takes time, ladies."
And it seems she did use every ounce of her time to get prepared. Her usually stick-straight blonde hair was now completely made up of big curls, with some strands pinned back, so that her face wasn’t to be covered. She was covered in makeup, with incredibly full, red lips, and dramatic, dark eye shadow and mascara. Lily knew that on her, it would have looked atrocious. But somehow, Maia was able to look amazing with just about anything.
"Well, what are we waiting for?" Maia said, getting up to leave.
"Well, actually we were waiting for you." Lily replied.
"Oh, details! Let's go! Beautiful girls like us shouldn't be kept trapped in dormitories," Maia finished with a wink, and off the girls went, down to the Great Hall.
"Blimey! Looks like a good turnout," said Peter.
Despite the fact that the marauders were relatively early, the party already seemed to be well underway, with many masked dancers filling the Hall. The guys were wearing similar suits, while each girl wore a unique dress, each fitting their personality.
The marauders also wore suits, but with faint differences. Peter wore a pale dark green tweed suit, with a gold mask covering the top half of his face. Remus had a dark grey suit with a silver mask which resembled a large, round, elegant frame around his eyes. Sirius Black, ironically, wore a black tuxedo, along with James, both looking incredibly handsome and suave. They also wore masks the same style as Remus', but Sirius' mask was a crisp white, while James wore a simple black mask. Now usually, the marauders would tend to stand out easily for their good looks. But today, they were one with the crowd. They were just another group of friends looking for some fun at this ball. Well, James was looking for something (or should I say, someone) else.
"Prongs, stop craning your neck like that. You look like a goose."
James cleared his throat, trying to hide his embarrassment at being so obvious, "Er, sorry."
Lily, Maia, and Ella all excitedly rushed to the Great Hall. When they reached the entrance, they encountered an enchanting mirror which glimmered all throughout its frame. All three girls slowly walked towards it, pulled by its mystery.
"One at a time, ladies."
Lily started at the sudden noise, but calmed back down when she realized the owner of said voice was Professor Slughorn.
"Oh, hello, Professor Slughorn! Er, excuse me for asking, but what do you mean by 'one at a time'?"
"Well, Lily, this is your ticket into the masquerade ball," he gestured to the mirror. Upon seeing the girls' confused faces, he continued, "One at a time, you stand in front of the mirror. As you look at your reflection, just imagine."
"Er, imagine, Professor?"
"Open your mind! Let the mirror read what your perfect outfit and mask would be for this ball. Here, Miss Morgan, you may go first."
Ella's eyes widened as she mumbled, "Um... okay."
She stepped to the front and looked at her beautiful reflection skeptically. She waited for a moment until she disappointedly announced, "It's not working."
"Open your mind to the mirror!"
So Ella relaxed and closed her eyes briefly, before opening them and looking straight at her reflection. Suddenly, beams of light streamed out from the Mirror of Erised, reaching out to Ella. They surrounded her, spiraling around until the light turned into tiny sparks, gently falling to the ground and disappearing, revealing Ella again.
Except now, Ella wore a flowy white gown with thin straps, the whole dress complimenting her slender frame. On her face, she donned a matching white mask with silver designs etched onto it, her whole self just shining.
"Ella. ...You. Are. Gorgeous!"
Ella blushed at the compliment, "Thanks. Did you want to go next?"
Maia excitedly responded, "Yes!" as she ran towards the mirror. Obviously no longer doubting the abilities of the mirror, she opened her mind completely, and in no time, she was engulfed in light like Ella was. Soon enough, the light turned to sparks and exposed Maia, smiling ear-to-ear.
She adorned a deep orange dress which hugged her every curve before it fell to the floor from her hips. Her mask was an impressive gold, with its top corners giving a curl to it.
"Well, I don't I look fit?!" said an impressed Maia, as she admired her outfit in the mirror.
"It looks really nice on you, Maia," smiled Lily, knowing that the mirror got Maia's style down for sure.
"Thank you! Well Evans, looks like it's your turn now!"
Lily went up to the mirror looking straight at her reflection. She never quite thought of herself as anything extraordinary. The only thing that would really stand out about her was her red hair, and her emerald eyes. She wasn't sure how exactly to open her mind, so she did the only sane thing she could think of doing: talk to the mirror... through her thoughts. Very sane.
Hi! So... my mind's open! Er, look, I'm never asked a mirror to give me a dress before. And I'm not asking to look amazing, or to stand out or anything, but... can I not look too under par compared to my friends? That's all I ask. Thank you.
After what felt like a lifetime, Lily saw beams of light reach out to her. Soon, all she saw were streams of light passing before her vision. She began to no longer feel her cloak, nor her sweater, and was replaced with a comfortable fabric. Finally, the streams of light slowed down, and separated into tiny sparks, which fell to the ground, disappearing from sight. She looked to their friends, who had their mouths hung open.
"L-Lily. You're... You're beautiful."
Skeptically, Lily looked at herself in the mirror, and stopped breathing for the briefest moment. She was now wearing a gorgeous strapless emerald gown, the bodice covered in sparkling gems and swirling designs, the skirt falling perfectly down her slim waist to the floor. Her mask was a twinkling silver, looking almost like vines joining together, twisting, curling, and surrounding her eyes. The mirror seemed to also add one extra touch to her ensemble: A single red lily, attached to her hair, which fell as a sheet of majestic locks. All she could think was, this is perfect.
Not knowing what to say, she just let out a humble, "Thank you," and with that, Slughorn let the girls into the Great Hall.
"Thank you Professor Slughorn!" Lily called out as they were walking to the entrance.
"Thank you Pwofessor Swughorn," Maia mocked Lily's polite farewell, "You are such a teacher's pet."
"I am NOT!" retorted Lily, "Maybe he'd like you too if you actually tried in po- oh my merlin."
Lily and her friends stopped at the entrance of the Great Hall, astonished by how it was transformed. The candles hanging from the ceiling were dimmed, creating a mysterious, romantic vibe to the Hall. A fun song was playing, though the source of the noise was nowhere to be found. Masked girls and boys danced without a care in the world, but a few blokes couldn't help but spare a look at the three beautiful girls.
"Well, no sense in just standing here when there are lonely blokes to dance with!" said Maia as she sped off to the first lucky guy to dance with her.
Lily and Ella laughed at their spontaneous friend. Lily then said, "Well, I guess it's just you and me."
But then, a handsome guy wearing a dark grey suit and silver mask approached the two girls.
"Um, hi," said the guy unsurely, turning to Ella, "I was wondering if... if you would like to dance with me?"
"Oh, um.." Ella turned to Lily, an unsure look on her face. After being Ella and Maia's friend for so long, Lily knew that when they gave her a certain look, they wanted her to save them from a poor, lovesick bloke. But this time, Lily didn't see a pleading look in Ella's eyes, but a guilty one. One that was saying, I want to go... but I won't if you want me to stay. Ella deserved a fun night, so Lily mouthed, "Go." to her friend, and gratefully, Ella turned back to the man and said, "I would love to."
"Well, I guess it's just... me," sighed Lily, as she looked around the Hall. Suddenly, her eyes fell upon a boy who, wearing an elegant black suit and black mask, was looking straight at her. Upon realizing he had been caught in the act, he turned away, pretending he wasn't just staring at her. Lily let out a little laugh, not used to being noticed when beside her two beautiful friends. So, she started to walk towards the boy who had noticed her, feeling the need to talk to someone.
She was facing the bloke's back, when she chimed out an innocent, "Hi."
She saw his shoulders tense and jump upon hearing her voice, and he steered around to face her. His eyes widened in shock as he said, "L-Lily?"
Lily furrowed her brow, "Pardon, but... how do you know who I am?" She had thought that she looked completely different than from how she normally was, and that no one would recognize her.
She noticed his cheeks flush as he looked down, and gave a shy smile as he looked at her again and replied, "Your eyes. I would know they're yours from anywhere."
This time it was Lily's turn to have her cheeks rosen, when she snapped her head up, and looked straight into his eyes. Normally, she would never do such a thing, which some may consider weird. But Lily had this little fear when it came to looking people in the eye, ever since fifth year, when her ex-best friend had called her something unforgivable. He would have always said how her eyes were bright and reminded him of his own house, who bore green and silver. For a while, she was even disgusted by her own eyes whenever she thought of him and made that connection. And that's when she no longer looked people in the eye as much, always feeling like they would peer into her soul, and judge her, and her hurtful past. But, for some reason, this guy seemed trustful and honest to Lily, and she sensed no harm coming from him, so she took a little risk, and looked him straight in the eye.
And she was so glad she had. His eyes were a deep, warm, inviting hazel, so different from the cold black ones of her old friend. His eyes widened as he noticed that she was looking straight at him, more in surprise than fear. Lily then asked politely, "Do I know you from anywhere?"
He cleared his throat, and was honest again when he replied, "Yes, you do, actually."
Embarrassed, Lily turned away for the briefest moment, saying, "Oh. Well, I apologize, but I don't seem to quite recognize you."
"It's okay," said the gentleman, giving a sad smile, "I wouldn't really expect you to."
Lily felt bad for unknowingly hurting this really nice guy, so she asked him, "Well, would you like to dance with me?"
He looked up, eyes twinkling, mouth curling up into a charming smile, which Lily's heart couldn't help but flutter to, and said, "That sounds great."
Not hiding her excitement, she grabbed his hand (and couldn't help but notice the comfortable fit) and wheeled him out to the dance floor. A fast, catchy song started to play, and at first, Lily started out awkward, not sure how to go about dancing with a guy. The bloke smiled with an air of confidence for the first time and grabbed her hand, his other hand resting on her waist. Unsure of what to do, Lily let the unknown man and the music control her movement, as her feet slid across the floor and was twirled frequently. She laughed, giggled, and smiled the whole time, only making her dance partner spin her and glide her around even more. On one of the twirls, when she was brought back to face her partner, she breathlessly asked:
"Where in Merlin did you learn to dance like that?"
He gave his signature half-smile, as he replied, "You know how the way to a man's heart is through his stomach? Well, my mother always said that the way to a woman's heart is through her smile. And to my mum, dancing made her smile, so she hired every dance teacher in the Wizarding World to make sure I would never step on some poor girl's toes."
Lily let out a full-hearted laugh, "Your mum is a smart lady!"
At that moment, the fast song came to a close and was replaced with a slow melody. Masked couples came together and began swaying to the music. Lily noticed her friend Maia had (as predicted) gotten a new partner, who wore a black suit similar to her dance partner's but bore a white mask instead. Ella, on the other hand, was almost hugging and dancing to the slower tempo with the very same boy that had asked her at the beginning of the dance. Lily turned to her partner, who began to look uneasy again, until Lily said:
"Did your mum teach you how to slow dance too? Cause I'm not quite good myself."
He smiled the same half-grin that Lily was starting to grow fond of, "I think we could manage."
So he locked his hand with hers, and his other hand wrapped around Lily's waist, much like he had before, but with a more gentle air about it. They didn't do any fancy steps or special twirls like they had before, but she also found they danced much closer than they had before, and she no longer felt any fear towards looking straight into his eyes. In the silence of their dancing, she realized that though his eyes were hazel, they were like a kaleidoscope of golds, greens, grays, and browns. Usually, her compliments were directed towards her eyes, but this man, whoever he was, would probably have gotten ten times more, she thought.
"What are you thinking about?" asked her partner, innocently curious as to why she was examining him.
"Your eyes," Lily replied honestly, despite the embarrassing response, "They're like a spectrum of multiple colours. They're magnificent."
She had managed to make his cheeks turn crimson again before he chuckled and retorted, "Have you looked in a mirror, lately, Lily? Anyone's eyes are plain next to yours."
Lily was about to respond how untrue that was, when she recalled Severus complimenting her on her eye colour, and how much that had made her hate it. Her masked partner looked concerned and at fault when he saw her sad expression and asked, "Lily, what's wrong?"
"My eye colour is vain to me. And snooty. They remind me of snakes. Someone even told me they remind him of Slytherin," Lily whispered the last part, not wanting to look at her new friend, ashamed.
"Lily," he started, "Lily, look at me," Lily listened to him and stared right at him, "There. Do you know what I see when I look into your eyes right now?" Lily shook her head nervously.
"Warmth. And light. Like a gorgeous gem that blessed you to bear its twinkling colour. I see the sky setting after a beautiful, fun day and the ocean while it's at its calmest. Lily, you and your eyes are beautiful. Don't ever doubt that."
Those very same emerald green eyes began brimming with tears, and the boy was just about to blurt out an apology until he noticed her toothy smile and her sniffled reply, "Did your mom teach you how to cheer a girl up too?"
He smiled right back at her, and laughed, "No, that is the type of thing that a bloke has to learn himself."
The two almost forgot that they were still dancing closely together until they both heard the song's final chord, echoing across the room, which soon turned to another fast song, and everyone followed suit. Well, everyone except Lily and her masked friend. For a moment, they froze, holding each other, until Lily broke out of their dazed trance and grabbed his arm, and whispered in his ear, "C'mon," as she led them off the dance floor.
At that point, the loud dance song blasted throughout the hall, which made it difficult for Lily and her masked partner to hold a conversation, and Lily was beginning to grow more curious of him by the minute. So she whispered once again, her lips almost brushing against her friend’s ear (which she hoped didn’t make him uncomfortable), and told him that they should go somewhere where they could actually hear each other talking. When he didn’t protest, Lily grabbed Mr. Unknown by the hand, and wheeled him out of the Hall, and led him to the seventh floor.
"What're we doing here, Lily?"
Lily grinned charmingly, "Can you keep a secret?"
The bloke laughed and smiled to himself at the question, "I think I'm quite capable."
"Okay, good. Watch this." Lily stood in front of a random wall, and began pacing past it one, two, three times, all the while thinking, "I just want a nice quiet place where I can get to know this guy." Suddenly, a door appeared where blank wall once was, and her partner's eyes lit up in recognition and surprise:
"The Room of Requirement?"
Lily looked back at him with the same look of surprise, both of them asking the other, "How do you know about the Room of Requirement?"
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