Chapter 6 : Five Questions
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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?"
Lily was the first of the two to answer, simply saying, "I was looking for a place to get away from all the noise, and get some studying done, and I came across this room."
The masked boy then replied, "And I was looking for a place to get away from Filch, so he wouldn't catch me."
Lily smiled at the thought, "Well, aren't we different?"
"Ever heard of the term, 'opposites attract'?"
They both laughed when Lily then suggested, "Let's play a game."
"What kind of game?"
"Twenty questions. It's this muggle game where you ask 'twenty questions' and the other answers them honestly. Maybe then I can get to know you better, and maybe figure out who you are. Unless of course, you tell me who you are..?" Lily slowly inched over to him, reaching for his mask, but the bloke had an unsure look on his face, and inched away. He tried to hide his embarrassment by saying, "I'll let you try to figure it out yourself. Hey, and to make it harder, why not just five questions?"
Lily knew that for some reason, this guy did not want her knowing who he was. But she also liked a challenge, so she agreed and began asking.
"Okay, first question... what house are you in? I have a hunch that you're not in Slytherin but you could kinda be in any of the other three."
"Easy question. I'm a Gryffindor, and proud of it." Okay, this helps. I know basically every Gryffindor seventh year. Unless... oh Merlin.
"Um, you're a seventh year right? I just want to be sure.."
He laughed and replied, "Yes. This is easy. We've already done two questions."
Shoot. He's right. "Well, why don't you ask me questions then?"
"Fine," He froze in thought for a little while before asking, "What would you say is the most unappealing sound in the world?"
Lily smirked at the interesting question, "The sound of ripping paper. To me, it connects to waste, failure or frustration. All things that I highly dislike."
"You are such a nerd."
"I am not!"
"Oh yeah?" the masked boy smirked, "What is the most devious, sneaky, or twisted thing you've ever done?"
Lily blushed. He was right, Lily wasn't really one for reckless, troublesome behaviour, except.... There was one thing....
"I, uh... Well, do you remember fourth year?" The bloke nodded, curious as to what perfect Lily Evans could have possibly done to make herself so tongue-tied.
"Well, that year, James Potter, you know him ri- oh, who am I kidding? Everyone knows James," the boy offered a smile in return, which Lily suspected was due to her rambling, but she went on still, proving she had a rebellious side to her:
"Well, that year, he was... a bit of a prat, really," She let out a laugh, "He's better now, but, Merlin, he was quite the handful. And for some reason, I always seemed to be related to his pranks, or jokes, the way he always 'asked me out', just setting me up for embarrassment. So, one day, he went a bit too far. He took my favorite book, one that my sister gave me as a gift, before she..." She trailed off, a little hurt in her voice with the memory of her sister, when they were still best friends. But she collected herself, and went on, "Well, the point is, he took my favorite book, and when I tracked him down, and asked for the book, he started teasing me and pushing my buttons the only way James Potter really could, so I snapped and grabbed the book, but he still held it, as well. And... It ripped. I was devastated, but I wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of seeing me upset, so I did the only thing I could when it came to James; I yelled up a storm, and stomped off, to try fixing the book, which I did do with a simple Reparo, but... I was still upset."
After hearing the whole story, the bloke looked straight at Lily, recognition in his eyes, "I remember that." When Lily became confused, he quickly added, "I- I was there, I mean. I saw the whole thing. That Potter," he held a guilty look, one that felt sorry for her, "Potter's just a prat. And a jerk. He's just rude to everyone, Lily."
"But he's not anymore!" Her masked comrade seemed confused and surprised at her defending James Potter, "I mean, yes, he was rude before, but we were all young and immature. Hell, I was a huge prat too, the way I screeched at him all the time, like a right banshee," she finished with a laugh, which in turn, made her friend smile, with a hint of relief, "And he's apologized for all that now. He's mature and kind. A good Head Boy."
"Well, that's nice," her friend began, "But that was still a hurtful thing he did, and he didn't deserve to get away with it,"
With this, Lily released a knowing smile, "Oh, he didn't. You see, two days after that incident, James would have unfortunately fallen victim to a booby trap unleashing the harshest of long-lasting hexes and jinxes."
"That was you?" Her friend asked, wide-eyed in shock. When she nodded with a guilty smile, he gasped out a laugh and added, " I - I heard that his face was covered in boils, he walked with a limp, and he could only speak Gobbledegook. His life was hell for a week until Slughorn could make potions strong enough to reverse the effects of such powerful curses!"
Lily flushed modestly, "Yes, well, I ended up even feeling guilty for the poor bloke, but hey! He had it coming for him!"
"Well, I am now thoroughly convinced that you are more of a threat than Potter," he said with a wink, "Remind me never to make you angry."
"But... how can I ever remind you if I don't even know who you are?"
"Just ask another question, Lily."
"Fine. Hmm... Okay, opposite question for you, what is the nicest, kindest act you have ever performed?"
He pondered this briefly, making a show of scratching his chin, until he appeared to have found an answer, "In fifth year, there was this girl, who was called the rudest, meanest name you could call her, and by her own best friend. And this girl, she was never anything but kind to him, and defended him when people said ill things of him. Anyway, she held her ground, acted strong, and left. But I could tell that word hurt her. The thing is, I knew she wouldn't have wanted me - or anyone, I mean - to help her. So I went to the kitchens, and asked the elves to make her some soup, biscuits, stuff that I knew she enjoyed from the numerous times she would grab for it at dinner. Then I went to the library and practically sold my soul to Madam Pince so that she would let me keep a book on Advanced Charms, and then performed a little charm myself on the book. And then I levitated it to her dormitory, addressing the care package to her. I think it might've helped too, cause she seemed to feel better the next morning."
"She did," Lily whispered, "That was you?" She repeated the words he had said to her just before, "It was exactly what I needed. I didn't feel like talking, but when I saw that hover towards me... It's like my troubles melted away with the warmth of that soup. And the book, oh it was marvellous. Not only the words, but the charm you placed on it... was marvellous. It was as if everything beautiful in this world: rainbows, flowers, snowflakes... they just popped out of the book. That definitely made my day." She finished, still with a dazed expression on her face.
"Thank you," She came towards him, and gave him a gentle, sincere hug, fighting back the tears of happiness that this stranger somehow wanted to give her. He hugged her back, also gently, and like their dance, time froze briefly, with just the two of them, until Lily (reluctantly) pulled back and smiled:
"I was right. You do have a talent for cheering people up! But, why did you go through all that trouble?"
The masked man gave a smirk, "Do you want to count that as one of your questions?"
Already having used up three, she responded, "No. I'll save it for something more inquiring. Your turn."
"Right... What is something you have never done, but always wanted to do?"
It appeared that Lily already knew the answer, but hesitated before answering with one word with an honest longing in her eyes, "Fly."
"You've never flown before? Not even on those muggle planes, or what about flying lessons in first year?"
She shook her head, "Our family never travels outside the country. And flying lessons? I choked. I said I was deathly afraid of heights, which I was at the time, and they excused me from flying, let me write a paper on it instead. That may be my biggest regret, too."
Her friend stared at her, and seemed to recognize that longing, when his resolve became determined, and he took her by the hand this time, and said, "Let's go, then."
"Er, go where?"
"To the quidditch pitch, you're going to fly today."
Lily grew nervous at the thought, "Er, are you sure?"
"Yes." He said in a way indicating that this was final, "You are flying today and that's that."
The two exited the Room of Requirement, its door disappearing behind them, when the masked bloke stopped her before they reached a hall, and pulled out a silvery grey fabric.
"What's that?" asked a curious Lily.
"Invisibility cloak," he said simply, and smiled at Lily's shocked expression, "Just to make sure we don't get into unnecessary trouble," he ended with a wink, and pulled the cloak over the two of them. Lily noticed how close they were, squished to make sure they were fully concealed under the cloak. She didn't really mind though, so she held this observation to herself.
The cloak was hardly necessary to sneak out, which Lily and her partner soon realized. It seemed everyone, students and teachers alike were enjoying themselves at the ball, making it an easy journey to the quidditch pitch. When Lily and her masked friend arrived, the sun was already setting, and it appeared that it would soon be dark upon the pitch.
"Well," began Lily, a nervous tremor within her voice, "I don't see any brooms around here, so maybe we should leave. Too bad-"
"Ah-bup-bup!" said her masked friend, holding up his wand, "Accio Nimbus 1001!"
For the briefest while, the two stood in silence, until suddenly, a flying broom came whizzing out of the horizon and into the masked bloke's hand. He looked at Lily with a smirk, which earned an eyeroll from Lily.
"Well? Hop on!"
Lily still looked nervous at the sight of the broom, examining it. It was so sleek, and skinny. It seemed built for speed, not for Lily's clumsiness, she thought. Lily's friend noticed her hesitation, and suggested:
"Er... here, how about I get on, and you can just hitch a ride with me?"
Lily looked a little more at ease with the thought of her not actually having to control this thing, and replied, "Um, yeah. S-sure."
So first, the bloke secured himself onto his broom, and motioned for Lily to sit behind him, but Lily still seemed unsure.
"Lily? What is it?"
"I realized something," her voice softened, embarrassed at what she was about to say, "I was never afraid of heights... I'm- I'm afraid of falling."
And that was her biggest fear. Not just with flying, but with life in general. Too many times had she put her trust, her love, into people she thought would always love her back. And too many times had she been mistaken. She'd fallen, and no one came to catch her. She watched him examine her, not critically, but as if he was seeing Lily Evans in a different light.
"Lily," he said her name with such gentleness, "I promise you that I will not let you fall, and even if you did, I would be right there to catch you."
She knew that he was just talking about this flying session, but somehow, it still meant so much to Lily. It was like someone finally told her what she had wanted to hear from too many people before. Her eyes twinkled in the darkness as she gave a little grin, and mounted the broom with her masked bloke. To prevent any chance of slipping off, Lily wrapped her arms around his torso. She chuckled to herself upon feeling him tense up in surprise when she wrapped her arms around him. As soon as it had begun though, he relaxed, and without Lily realizing, they took off.
In the blink of an eye, Lily went from seeing and feeling the ground beneath her, to seeing the rising seats, and feeling the wind whistle through her hair. At first, Lily held the bloke tightly, terrified of her new surroundings. But soon enough, she became comfortable, loosened her hold, and began to appreciate the sights before her. Without realizing, she rested her head on her friend's back, letting out a sigh of content.
"Well?" Lily could feel the vibrations of his spoken word reverberating on his back. She could almost feel the smirk that she knew he was wearing right now, "It's pretty amazing, huh?"
"It's beautiful," breathed out Lily, admiring as her masked friend flew them around the castle, letting Lily admire her second home in a completely different light. She closed her eyes happily, admiring the smooth feeling that was flying. It was then that she remembered something.
"Don't think that I've forgotten you still have questions left, mister!"
He let out a sigh, which was a mix of defeat, and a sense of fulfillment, perhaps because he had already known that Lily Evans would not have forgotten about the challenge she still faced: figuring out his identity. He looked back at her, still having full control of his broom, as he asked, "Well, are we doing this up here or should we land somewhere?"
Lily's eyes squinted in thought on which decision to take, because truthfully, she didn't really want to go back down, after seeing how amazing it feels to be so high up, so when she looked over, she pointed to the roof of Hogwarts, pointed to a little crook, perfect size for two masked teenagers and a broom, and said, "Land there."
The masked bloke did as told, and landed smoothly on the flat surface of the Hogwarts roof. The two seated themselves beside each other, and Lily turned her face to him, opening her mouth to ask a question, but he interrupted her, "Oh no, it's only fair that I get to ask the questions."
"But, you only have two left!"
"Then I guess I'll have to make the most of what I've got. Won't I?"
"That depends, do you want to count that as one of your questions?” she repeated the words he had said to her before. This made them both smile.
“Ha Ha,” the bloke drawled, “Okay, real question. What is your favorite childhood memory?”
As soon as he had asked that question, one memory immediately jumped into her mind. One that made her want to smile at the thought of it, but also one that made her want to scream out in frustration, because she knew she may never laugh with her again…
“Well, I don’t know if it’s my favorite childhood memory, but it is definitely the first that comes to my mind.”
“I was 5, I think. And it was summertime. I was out playing with Petunia, my...” she stopped briefly, remembering Petunia as a child, before Lily turned 11, “Sister. We lived near a grassy hill, so we both agreed to just, roll down the hill. What we didn’t know, was that there was a puddle of mud right at the bottom. Well, we found out when we splashed into it anyway,” She laughed at the memory of seeing her sister’s white smile shining through her mud-brown face, “I know that it doesn’t sound very memorable, but… it was one of the moments when I felt undeniably happy, without a care in the world.”
“That sounds like incredible fun!” the masked bloke reassured, “I was raised an only child, you’re so lucky that you’re so close with your sister.” He smiled, not knowing that what he had just said could not have been more untrue.
He realized that he had made an error in saying that when an uncomfortable silence overcame Lily, “Lily? What is it?”
“It’s nothing. Just…reminiscing.” She looked up at her friend, but the second he looked into her eyes, he could tell that there was something more going on.
“Well then, I shall be using up my fifth and final question to ask you this: Why is the incredible Lily Evans upset right now? “
Damn it, Lily thought. But, this matter was far too serious to be talking about with a total stranger. But… he’s not quite a stranger. I mean, I’ve already told him embarrassing personal details about me. Why not add to the pile? And so, that is what she used as her excuse. Though deep down, she knew the real reason was that she wanted to tell him. She wanted to open up, tell him her problems, and somehow have him make them float away, like he had with everything else she’d thrown at him tonight.
“When I first got my Hogwarts letter, I was ecstatic. I felt special. But Petunia didn’t. I’m not sure what it was that made her so mad, but after that, she never treated me the same way again. She called me a – a freak. She didn’t talk to me anymore like she used to, and when she did, it was to criticize my… abnormality. I lost my best friend, and all because I had to be born different.”
When Lily finished, she let out a sharp exhale after having revealed the most fragile part of her life. She looked at him, wondering what he was thinking. I shouldn’t have said anything. He probably thinks I’m extremely overbearing… which I am. But he just got to know me. I should have kept my stupid mouth shut. But no, Lily Evans just had to reveal her deepest secrets to some unsuspecting cute bloke –
Then she heard what she was dreading: a chuckle. Her ‘friend’ was laughing at her!
“And what about this exactly is funny to you?” Lily fumed, knowing she shouldn’t have trusted him.
He stopped his laugh and grinned, “Oh Lily, no, it’s not like that! I’m not laughing at you. I’m just thinking of how you Evans girls can loathe people so furtively,” When Lily shot him a pointed look, he explained, “Oh, just think about it, Lily! You’ve despised James Potter since first year! You are only just starting to tolerate him. Maybe your sister is going through the same phase that you just grew out of. Even though she won’t admit it, Petunia is your sister, and… I think she might be missing you as much as you miss her right now. But, she is also an Evans, and that means she’ll have to get over being incredibly stubborn. But I wouldn’t worry about it, Lily. Besides, no one could stay mad at you.”
Lily gaped at the bloke’s response. Well, damn, he’s done it again, she thought. He had just made her biggest insecurity sound like a childish tantrum. And the fact that he had done that should have made Lily so annoyed, so enraged at the fact that he wasn’t taking this seriously enough. But, the thing is… he did. She knew that, he just replied in a way that made it sound so simple. And it made Lily laugh. Out loud. And the bloke probably thought her insane, because he laughed right along with her. But eventually, Lily stopped, gathered her breath and said,
“Okay! You have two questions left to answer!”
“Fine, fine,” said the boy, “Best make them good, eh?”
Oh, they will be good, Lily thought, and she soon found a question she deemed acceptable, and asked her masked friend, “What would you say is your greatest desire?”
Lily didn’t think her question was as embarrassing as the ones she had been asked, but nevertheless, it made the bloke gulp, and stare at her like she was pointing a wand at him, ready to fire an Unforgivable Curse.
“Oh come off it!” Lily exclaimed. “If I could answer all those grueling questions so honestly, then you should be able to do the same!”
The bloke muttered a short, curt response that Lily could not make out.
“Mind repeating that, mate?” Lily said exasperatedly.
He turned his head to look her straight in the eyes, hazel meeting emerald, “You.”
Lily blinked at the bloke, unsure of what to say next, but she didn’t break eye contact.
His eyes widened at Lily’s response. Now the masked boy was the one left silent, until he finally found a response to Lily’s startling request.
“Let’s get back down.”
“Didn’t you just hear what I sa-“
“Just let me take you down, Lily.”
The two climbed atop the Nimbus 1001 and the bloke brought him and Lily back down to the pitch, the air and the mood feeling much colder than it had been before.
“I think it’s time for you to get back to your ball, Lily.”
“Was that too sudden? If so, I’m sorry but I really had thought you would have responded differently, considering-“
“Lily, I’ve stolen you away from the ball for too long, you deserve some fun tonight.”
“But I was having fun! Well, up until now, but that’s no one’s fault, really, just a mis-“
“I’m not the type of person you think I am.”
“Well then who are you?” Lily snapped, “’Cause you must have some nerve to tell a girl she’s your greatest desire and then put off kissing her.”
It was then that the bloke removed his black mask, and Lily’s face contorted from one of frustration to one of pure shock. Before she could say anything at all, the boy left abruptly upon seeing her change of expression. Lily stood planted on the pitch for the longest time, still not quite believing the face belonging to her masked companion.
A/N: I'm back! I am so terribly sorry for not having updated in forever, but I have finally finished the chapters about the masquerade ball. I'm thinking I'll write just one more chapter to wrap up the whole story :) So how was it? Please forgive me for this terrible finish, it'll all wrap up nicely in the end, you'll see ;)
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