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The Problem With Potter by We Are Padfoot and Prongs
Chapter 5 : Chapter 5: The Ball and the Letter
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 7

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The long anticipated Ball!  I hope I did an ok job describing the outfits.  The dresses are made up out of my own head, but the masks I admit to looking up on Google and trying to describe.  Hope you like!






I woke up on the morning of the Ball extremely excited about my plan. I got up at 8:30, no longer able to lay still and went down to eat. I was barely through with my morning orange juice before Mary, Marly, and Alice arrived with all of their clothes, sweeping me upstairs to dump their stuff before we swept down to the Great Hall. We moved the house tables out to the Entrance Hall so the other students could eat out there while we decorated. The Marauders arrived and we firmly barred the doors, blocking out all the curiously staring eyes.



“Hello Muffin!” crowed Sirius. I simply gave him a look. He was undeterred. “Oh come on! This is going to be fun, lighten up a little!” He swept me into his arms before I could protest, leading me around the empty room in a whirling dance that had even me laughing. Soon however, I stepped away.



“Come on, we’ve got to actually get stuff done too,” I said, slightly regretfully. Potter brought out a Wizarding boom box from somewhere and set it to the WWN, where a song from the new band, The Wailing Banshees, was playing. Soon we were all singing along and dancing to the beat as we summoned the smaller blue and white tables we’d made earlier. They came zooming through the high windows and we arranged them around the edges of the Hall. The students would eat dinner at 5:30 in the Entrance Hall, go get ready, and be back for the start of the ball at 7:30. We conjured large, everlasting icicles to hang from the ceiling, from which was falling warm, dry snow that disappeared before it hit the ground. Silver tinsel was draped by Mary over everything that didn’t move.



Around lunch time, we took a short break to eat and let Hagrid in with the traditional twelve Christmas trees, which we circled the hall with and dusted with snow, making each look like a tree in the forest. We found several hundred fairies and persuaded them to sit among the branches. We found white table cloths with blue hemming and draped them over the ice looking tables. Each got a center piece of pure white roses, covered in frost that wouldn’t melt. White cloth was draped over the walls. We turned the floor varying shades of blue, making it look like it was made of ice. We extended the coloring up the entire hall and suddenly, we were in an ice palace.



“It’s beautiful,” breathed Mary, turning excited circles. “I feel like I’m in a fairytale! It’s amazing. Everyone will love it.”



I beamed, looking around. My smile slowly faded. “There’s something missing…” I muttered, gazing around. “It doesn’t feel right yet…”



Potter smiled, walking past me and pointed his wand at the very center of the Hall. “Funale,” he said. Instantly, a giant chandelier appeared over the center of the hall, sparkling and hanging with crystals. It was breath taking. Potter then pointed his wand the each corner of the hall. “Angelus fontem.” A white marble fountain popped up where he pointed. Each was an angel with a trumpet raised high, out of which the water poured.



“Perfect,” declared Marly. “Now everything’s amazing.”



Glancing at her watch, Alice announced that it was 5:00. “We’d better get moving.”



We hurriedly placed drinks and snacks on some long tables where the teachers usually sat and rushed out of the Hall. We were swarmed with students asking what it looked like, but we just smiled mysteriously and continued moving. I did, however, distinctly hear Sirius say something about trained lions and the English National Quidditch Team from last year’s World Cup, but I ignored it, preferring not to get mixed up in that.



The eight of us had dinner in the Head’s kitchen, happily joking and laughing over turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, beans, rolls, and all the other food sent up by the house elves. Potter only asked me to the Ball 5 times during dinner, in addition to the 17 during decorating. I admire his restraint. (I said no every time.)



At 6:00, Marly announced that it was time to get ready. “I don’t know how we’ll get it all done!” she announced, dragging us upstairs. “We’ve only got an hour and a half!”



When we got to my room, we all took showers in rapid succession, hastily washing and drying before brushing our teeth and drying our hair. Alice, who was undoubtedly the best at hair, attacked our heads with brushes, curling or straightening irons, and hairspray. Mary took over with makeup, adding only a bit of concealer, blush, and mascara. She also did my lips in a bright red and dusted my lids with silver eye shadow.



We hurried into our dresses, shoes, and masks, then stood back to admire each other.



Marly was in a deep purple mermaid gown, tight till her knees, then flaring out in dramatic ruffles. It had a sweetheart neckline and one strap on her left shoulder. She was wearing worked leather ballet flats of the same color, not wanting to tower over the rest of us. Her chocolate brown hair was piled atop her head, with a curl hanging loose on either side of her face, framing it. Her jewelry was silver and amethyst- a teardrop necklace, teardrop earrings, and a bracelet of alternating amethyst ovals and flat silver disks. Her mask was a simple design, just the basic oval covering eyes and part of the nose and cheeks. It was dark purple with intricate designs in black velvet that reminded me of a wrought iron gate.



Mary was wearing a daring gown in bright turquoise. It was spaghetti strap, with an empire waist below the straight neckline and a flowing, pleated silk skirt and a silver jeweled belt. Her necklace was silver and diamonds, as were her earrings. On her feet were silver wedges with a three inch heel guaranteed to come off in about 2.7 seconds upon entering the Great Hall. She was busy adjusting her mask, a pretty white and turquoise one that had curved edges following the contours of her cheeks, nose, and eyebrows. The background was white with a silver border, turquoise detailing around the eyes, and white embroidery everywhere else. Her hair, a very light blonde, was curled and left to hang free, giving her a look that reminded me distinctly of Juliet from Romeo and Juliet as I imagined her in my head.



Alice’s black bob cut stood out starkly against her bright, look-at-me red dress. It was strapless, with a flat neckline, which had a line of fabric folded over at the top, and was in the princess ball gown style, similar to mine. The bodice and skirt were both smooth silk, unlike mine, with a hint of black lace peeking out the bottom. Her heels were strapped goddess sandals (or at least that’s what they reminded me of, except with a three inch heel) and her necklace was a gold chain with seven rubies on it- a large one in the middle and three of equal size on either side. A matching bracelet was on her wrist. Her mask immediately reminded me of Spain- it was red, with a gold border and a large, fan-like ruffle on her right hand side, about hand sized, with gold and red ribbons hanging from it. Its edges were wavy.



I adjusted my own mask nervously and patted my straightened hair. “Well. Well, I suppose we should go,” I said nervously.



Mary grinned at me. “Don’t worry Lily. You’ll knock ‘em dead.” She and Marly each grabbed one of my elbows and steered me out as Alice followed, smiling.



I glanced at my watch as we walked along the deserted corridors and yelped. “Guys, it’s already 7:50! We’re missing it!”



I moved as if to start hurrying, but Marly held me back with a laugh. “We’re fashionably late, Lily darling. It’ll make for a grander and more noticeable entrance because everyone rushed in as soon as they could. Even James left to get there on time. I heard him leave.”



It was stupid of course, but I had forgotten that Potter and his friends would be there. It made me blush for him to see me in such clothes, but I straightened my back, determined to go on with my plan despite this setback. It was minor. Psh, it didn’t bother me! Nope, I was completely fine! LOL, ISN’T THIS GREAT?!



“Somebody shoot me,” I said morosely.



Marly looked at me weird. “Why?”



“I just used ‘LOL’ in my head.”



“NOOOO!” wailed Mary. “She’s gone over to the Dark Side!” She grabbed my shoulders and began shaking me as I laughed at her antics. “Lily? LILY? CAN YOU HEAR ME?! COME BACK TO ME LILY, FOLLOW MY VOICE!!!”



I laughed even harder and had to stop to take a breather.



“Don’t make her go into hysterics Mary,” said Alice reprovingly. “We’ve still got to get her to the ball.”



“No, no I’m fine,” I said, waving them off. A big grin was stretched across my face. “This is just what I needed.” All the uncertainty was gone, replaced by a blooming confidence that filled me down to my toes. I could definitely do this. My strides got longer and bolder the closer we got to the Great Hall and my friends dropped back to let me take point. Marly strutted to my right while Mary bounced and Alice glided on my left. Yes, I seriously just categorized the way my friends walk. Deal with it.



A few stragglers were rushing into the party, but they were all inside by the time we reached the Entrance Hall. I took a deep breath and opened the doors, which had already been shut.



A wall of noise, light, and color hit me like a physical barrier. I almost stumbled. All the girls were in brightly colored, gowns, though most had already cheated and shortened them to above the knee by now. Even the boys were in brightly colored dress robes and I sensed their relief at the deviation from the ever-present black. The masks were ornate and plain, patterned and not, colorful, black, white, feathered, beaded, sequined, embroidered, beribboned, and jeweled. They came in every imaginable size, color, and shape able to fit on the human face.



The music pounded through the floor and the walls and the air and through my very own body. It was its own entity, entering the body and whipping the emotions into an excited frenzy, and had me already itching to get out on the floor and dance.  I fidgeted, looking at the large patch of floor covered by writhing, jumping, grinding, sliding, dancing people and I longed to join them. I caught myself and marveled at the power of the music. Then I shrugged and allowed it to grip me. It would help my plan anyway. All I wanted to do was make Amos want me, then leave him in the dust. Just like he left me.



Sirius had probably snuck back in here after I left and added the pulsing, flashing, blinding lights common to all sorts of clubs. The effect was sporadic and hypnotic, and served only to heighten my excitement at this chance to do whatever the hell I wanted. It was completely intoxicating and I felt my grin stretch even farther across my face.



As we paused on the threshold of chaos, a rush of whispering spread from those nearest to us to those up at the very front of the hall and there was a rustle of cloth as everyone turned to face use. I blushed, but no one could see it behind the mask. Somebody cut off the music as my fellow students stared.



We descended the stairs that had been Marly’s idea (the entire Great Hall had been sunk so there could be a staircase for our dramatic entrance which was obviously far better planned than I’d thought) and stopped at the bottom. A flurry of whispers erupted as we stood there, then I called out, with words I didn’t know I had, “Well? Isn’t this a party? Come on, let’s have some music!”



Whoever was DJ at the moment cranked the music and the girls and I started dancing along. Everyone else resumed dancing, though there were frequent glances in our direction. I channeled the beat through my body and just let myself go for the first time in what felt like forever. It felt good.



The beat pounded through the soles of my feet (I had already ditched my shoes, as had Mary, Marly, and Alice) up my legs and hips straight into my chest, resonating there and pulling my heart right along with its frenzied thumping. I gasped when a boy came up behind me and started dancing with me, but quickly gave myself over to the sensation, letting go completely of any inhibitions. Boy after boy came to dance with the crazy redhead in the amazing dress who had no restraint at all. She seemed like a completely different person, yet she had lived in me all these years, waiting for a chance to come out and show me how much fun she could have.



Eventually, I wandered over to the drink table, trying to look for my friends who I’d lost to the crowd. No luck. I shrugged and pulled my shoes back on, grabbing some punch.



“I wouldn’t do that Lily.” I whirled to face a black haired boy in gold dress robes with an almost rectangular mask patterned in diamonds of various shades of red and gold. I didn’t recognize him.



“Wh-What?” I spluttered. “Why not?” I didn’t even bother to wonder how he knew it was me.



He chuckled gently. “I saw Sirius spiking it a while back. It’s got Firewhiskey in it now and I don’t really think you should drink it.”



I glared at him. So he thought I couldn’t handle it is what he was saying. I stared right into his eyes and drank the punch in one gulp. It burned a little on the way, but I resisted the urge to cough, slamming the cup down and pouring more punch in it, drinking that as well in three large swallows. “Thank you for your concern,” I said coldly. “But I think I can handle it.”



To my surprise, he just laughed again. “I stand corrected,” he said, his eyes sparkling. They were a startling shade of gold with flecks of green in them. I’d seen those eyes before… I opened my mouth to ask him what his name was, but he bowed, holding out his hand and asked, “May I have this dance?” as a slower, orchestra song came on. A typical, old fashioned ballroom dancing song. I took the boy’s hand and he led me to the dance floor.



I remembered watching several movies with ballroom scenes (Phantom of the Opera being the most recent) so, grinning, I curtsied as he bowed, then grabbed my skirt with my left hand. His right hand went around my waist and our free hands met.



The others all looked confused at the slow music but this boy knew what he was doing. He led me, spinning, around the ballroom, executing every move perfectly. We spun, dipped, bent, and flew across the room in time to the music. He lifted me several times, but I never felt unsafe in his hands. I knew he wouldn’t drop me.



The song ended as he spun me out and then back in, locking me in his arms. We stood there for a few seconds, panting, with our faces inches apart, staring at each other. I blinked and the spell broke. He released me as a new song came on, another fast paced club song. He started to bow and back away, leaving me open, but I grabbed his hand.



“You’re not getting away that easily.” I pulled him back towards me and spun, placing my back against his front and dancing for all I was worth.



I didn’t hold anything back.



Neither did he.



We moved together, fitting together like a perfect puzzle piece and I finally found the one boy here that made me forget that my ultimate goal was to humiliate Diggory. Diggory didn’t exist anymore. I existed. The boy behind me, who had his hands on my thighs, who smelled spicy and musky, who felt safe to me existed.



We existed together and for a while, that was enough.



Then I caught sight of Diggory through the fray; he was alone, he was in a corner near the door, and he was looking at me hard, trying to place me, trying to recognize me. That broke me out of the haze that I’d been in with this boy.



I turned back to face him, our noses almost touching. “I’m sorry,” I whispered. “There’s something I have to do.”



The look in his eyes screamed ‘Don’t go!’ but his lips quirked up in a smile. “I understand. I’ll wait, however long it takes. I’ll wait for you Lily, because you’re worth it.”



I was touched and smiled back at him, albeit a little sadly. “Thank you,” I breathed. I wonder if he even heard me over the music. Then I pulled away from his arms and marched towards Diggory, but halfway there, I was intercepted by a tawny owl bearing a letter with my name on it.



Impatient, I took the letter and ripped it open.



Dear Ms. Evans,



The Ministry regrets to inform you that at 12:37 this evening, your house was attacked by Death Eaters. Your sister was away and was not harmed, but your father was home and was hit with Avada Kedavra. He is dead. The Death Eaters were not apprehended, and the Aurors are currently searching for the killers. We express deepest regret for you loss and offer all our condolences.






Bartemus Crouch Sr.



Head Auror



I gasped at the letter, not understanding. This could not be true. Of course it wasn’t true. The letter was a sick joke, the gaping hole opening in my chest was simply my imagination, the shaking in my hands unneeded. My father was not dead. It was not possible, not right after Mum…



Even as my brain tried to persuade me, I was conscious of my feet rooted to the floor in the middle of the pulsing, spinning dancers, of my heart tearing itself brutally into pieces, of a strange wailing cry echoing over the music…



The cry was coming from me, it was tearing itself from my throat, trying to express the grief that filled me, tore at my insides, made my legs as heavy as lead…



None of my thoughts could finish themselves except for one- run. Leave. Escape.



I stopped wailing, an abrupt ceasing of sound that no one had noticed anyway and mechanically kicked my shoes off, not bothering to pick them up. I waved my wand, making my dress shoot up to four inches above my knee, leaving my legs free. Slowly, I walked towards the doors, brushing past Diggory without a second glance in his direction. What use was petty vengeance now? It would not ease the fire raging inside me, it would not bring my parents back. It was nothing. It did not matter, it never should have mattered.



Slowly, then with increasing speed I moved towards the doors. I exited at a steady jog and quickly accelerated to a straight sprint in the corridor. Not caring about the cold, I burst outside. I welcomed the burn of the cold snow one my feet, the sting of the frigid wind whipping past my face, my arms, my legs. It was a pain on the outside to match the pain inside and it distracted me.



My father was not dead.



My family was not torn apart.



I was not alone.



My arms pumped harder, my legs beat faster, my feet touched the frozen ground less and less and I almost believed that I would take off from the ground and fly to somewhere where I wouldn’t feel my heart slowly crumbling into nothingness. Almost.



But not really.






The boy from inside found me sitting in a tree with thestrals all around the base, gazing with blank eyes toward the lake.



“Lily? What’s wrong?”



Smart boy. He did not ask me if I was fine. Anyone with eyes could tell I was not fine. I was as far from fine as it was possible to be. Yet I still answered “Nothing.”



He snorted. “Bullshit. Please tell me what’s wrong.”






A boy in silver robes came up behind him. “Hey. What’s up?” He glanced up and saw me in the tree. “Why are you in a tree?”



“Because,” I answered, drawing my knees up to my chest and locking them there with my arms.



The two boys whispered below me, but I didn’t bother trying to listen.



Eventually the silver robed boy looked back up at me. “I’m sorry for whatever’s hurting you.” He paused, then added, in a whisper, “Muffin,” and walked away. Only one person called me Muffin and if that was Sirius, the boy in gold robes was-



“Potter?” I asked in what was supposed to be an incredulous voice, but it came out sounding flat and uninterested. I couldn’t muster the shock that the boy I’d felt such a connection with was James Potter. If I let myself feel that, I wouldn’t be able to deny my other feelings and I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from completely breaking down. I had to be even stronger because there was no one else to be strong for me anymore.



Meanwhile, the boy below me had removed his mask and the familiar face of James Potter stared up at me. “Come down Lily,” he called gently.



I put my hands on the limb I was sitting on and swung down, landing on my feet, already running. I was no going to sit there with James Potter and permit him to ask me about my feelings.



I heard his yell of surprise behind me, then the pounding of his feet following mine. I ran faster, flying over the frozen ground with numb feet.



I pelted through the doors to the castle and started taking random turnings, going up and down stairs, around corners, and through countless corridors. Eventually, I hit a dead end. I just stood there and stared at it incomprehensibly as Potter caught up with me. There was nowhere to go.



As Potter came up behind me, I hit the wall. My hand erupted in pain, but I drew back and punched it again as Potter yelled at me to stop.



As I was pulling back for another, Potter caught my fist and held it, spinning me around. He grabbed my left hand as I made to punch him and hugged me close, not in a romantic way, but to clamp my arms to my sides and to try to stop my wild thrashing.



“Let me go Potter, let me go!” I yelled, allowing his arms to support my full weight and kicking him in the shins.



His eyes watered slightly with pain, but he didn’t let go. “What, so you can hurt yourself more? I don’t think so.”



I fought, sobbing with no tears. “Potter! Let go! Let- let g-go! Let me-!” I couldn’t finish, instead collapsing against him and sobbing harder.



Potter hesitated, then shifted me so he was hugging, rather than restraining me. I didn’t fight, but let myself be embraced in the warm protection of his arms. I remembered how dancing with him had felt before I’d known who he was, how it felt utterly safe. I forced myself to relax into his arms and feel that again, as though this wasn’t the one boy I’d hated for 6 and a half years. I needed the safe right now.



Potter let out a sigh of relief when I didn’t start hexing him into oblivion and ran one hand over my hair, making soothing noises and tightening his other arm around my shoulders. “Shhh Lily, it’s ok. I’ve got you now. You’ll be alright.” He glanced at his watch, and shifted slightly. “We should go back to the dorms Lily. It’s almost two in the morning. Perfectly alright for me, but you’ve got to be tired. Let’s go, I’ve still got you.”



He released me from his embrace, but my knees gave out beneath me and he had to catch my arm to prevent me from slumping to the floor. I could tell that I was going into shock and that I probably wasn’t going to make it to our dorm. Potter looked at me for a second, then shrugged and picked me up bridal style. I squawked a feeble protest. “Potter! You don’t have to- I can- Put me down!” This was much less impressive and commanding than I’d hoped since I was shaking and choked out the words between sobs.



He chuckled. “First Lily, would it really be that difficult to call me James? I’ve called you Lily for a while now, and that didn’t seem to have affected you. And second, there is no way in hell I’m putting you down because I’m afraid you won’t get up again. You are drunk and obviously distressed. You certainly can’t make it up three flights of stairs alone. So I’m going to carry you and this is the most comfortable position for you. Now hold still, I don’t want to drop you. And it wouldn’t kill you to relax a bit either.”



I grumbled, but threw one arm around his neck to keep myself up and laid my head against his chest to get comfortable. I would have expected every second in James Potter’s arms to last an eternity, but it was a surprisingly short time later that Po- James was giving the password (Glumbumble) to Ethel and he was depositing me on my soft, warm bed. He started to back away, but I held one arm out to him beseechingly.






I’m not sure which of us was more surprised at the word that slipped from my lips, but I didn’t take it back. I needed someone to keep me safe, from Death Eaters, from the nightmares, from reality. I needed him to be there.



Pot- James walked slowly back over to my bed as I shifted to one side to give him room. He climbed in beside me and pulled the blankets over both of us. I shivered, realizing for the first time how cold I was.



James pulled me closer, wrapping me in his arms and transferring me his heat. It was that bit of gentleness that did it for me. For the first time in months, I felt tears leaking out of my eyes and I finally let myself cry.



I cried for Mum. I cried for Dad. I cried for Tuney, and for me, and for a life I had but could never get back. Because I knew that Tuney wouldn’t welcome me back into the house. She would shove my things into my arms (if I was lucky and she didn’t burn them) and with a last call of ‘Freak’ she’d shut me out of her life for good.  But mostly, I cried because I was scared. I was scared of what I’d do now, I was scared that the Death Eaters would come after me or Tuney, and I was scared that I would never be able to lose the ghosts that haunted me.



Through it all, James held me close and let me soak his dress robes with my tears.



When I finished, I looked up at him and he looked down at me and I decided to tell him the truth.



“Both my parents are dead,” I whispered. I heard his quick intake of breath and saw the sadness spread in his eyes. Sadness, but no pity. He knew that I didn’t want it. He pulled me closer, hesitantly, and I didn’t resist. “My mum died in summer. She got hit by a drunk driver. I hid it because I didn’t want anyone to pity me. I didn’t want to be weak. I was going to be strong, God dammit, because I couldn’t be vulnerable. Not in front of you, not in front of my friends, not in front of complete strangers. I wasn’t going to be That-Evans-Girl-With-The-Dead-Mum.



“My father was killed tonight by Death Eaters. They’re still at large. And his death is my fault because if he wasn’t connected to a Mudblood daughter, he’d be fine! It’s my fault, I know it!”



“Lily-“ he started.



“My sister hates me,” I plowed on, cutting him off.   No matter what he said, I would still believe it was my fault. “I know she won’t let me back in the house this summer, and I can’t live with my friends. Mary’s house is way too crowded; she has a ton of younger siblings. Marly lives in a very small house with her parents, who don’t make too much. Certainly not enough to support me as well. As for Alice, her parents would be scared of hosting a Muggle-born. They’re not Death Eaters, or open Voldemort supporters and they don’t encourage the killings, but they definitely wouldn’t want me living with them. I have no money, no home, and nowhere to go.”



“You can live with me and Sirius over the summer,” James said stubbornly. “I’m not leaving you to live on the streets. We can protect you and ourselves from Death Eaters,” he added, seeing where my argument was going to come from. “We’re getting our own flat in London because Sirius feels slightly bad for living at my house all summer and living off my parents. He wanted to move out but can’t afford a house of his own because his mum cut him off from the family bank account. So we’re splitting a flat. We’ll even let you pay room and board if it makes you feel better.”



I hesitated. It was an offer that I could consider. But this was James Potter, ladies’ man and Hogwarts Playboy and his attention scared me. “I don’t- I’ll think about it I guess. I can’t think right now.”



He looked into my eyes. “I’ll wait,” he whispered, just as he had at the ball.



I fell asleep in his arms.

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