Chapter 13 : The Yule Ball
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Our lives continued amid flurry of activity, homework was becoming more time consuming, more and more groups who had left their planning for the final moments before the dance were in serious danger of not getting everything done. Our dance lessons had concluded but we did decide to hold one more refresher before the dance. I had spoken to Severus about abandoning him in the corridor but he didn’t seem to mind. We had picked up exactly where we had left off before, albeit that I thought he was actually flirting with me a little. I couldn’t be completely sure because it just seemed so out of character for him. I was actually sad that I wouldn’t get a chance to spend time with him anymore. In the mean time, girls were on the prowl for dates. While it was perfectly acceptable to go stag, we were all hoping for dates.
Mary and Remus were going together which was perfect because they were perfect together. Alice and Frank were also going together but Lily and I didn’t have dates. I knew that James was dying to ask her but for some reason he just couldn’t get the nerve up. They were friendlier than ever though, Lily even actively seeking him out, but he still couldn’t muster the right stuff. Sirius was still with Marlene, which was literally the highlight of her life. They had been dating for nearly three weeks and it had been the longest three weeks of my life. Marlene’s voice had raised several octaves and, depending on how excited she was, she was only audible to bats, merpeople and, apparently, Emmeline. Strangely though, Sirius never seemed to be with her. He spent a lot of time with The Marauders instead and they had taken to disappearing more and more. When I asked Mary what was going on, she said that the boys were helping Hagrid with something to keep them out of mischief. I ordered my dress though a catalogue and a week before the dance it arrived by owl.
“Girls!” Lily squealed coming in late one night after we had all gone to bed, “James asked me!” Mary immediately threw her hangings open to interrogate her.
“Lily! How? Are you dating now?”
“No! I told him I’d go to the dance with him but after that… who knows?”
“Lily! Give the guy a chance!” Mary was always on James’s side.
“I am giving him a chance.” Lily said offhandedly but her face was flushed in pleasure.
“LILY!” Screamed Mary abruptly. Alice clutched her chest in fright and I started to giggle, she was always such a drama queen, “You need to make sure that his robes don’t clash with your hair! It’s so important!” she said serious as Dragon Pox. I rolled over laughing. Lily looked unimpressed but eventually we were all giggling and gossiping about the boys.
The next morning we went down to breakfast happily but there seemed to be something in the air. Something just a bit off. The Marauders were very conspicuously absent from the breakfast table, something that only happened if there was a party the night before. They were always ravenous in the mornings. I looked to Mary but she just shrugged in response to my unspoken question. We sat down to French Toast, when in walked Marlene, puffy eyed and weepy. I didn’t want to be caught looking so I went back determinedly to my food. I heard whispers around me; Gryffindor’s on alert when I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was Severus. He stood an arm length away from me as though there was a repelling boundary around our house table. He looked very uncomfortable which was understandable considering his proximity to a seething mass of Gryffindor’s. Even if The Marauders were absent, this was still hostile territory.
“Hey Sev.” I said, “How are you?”
“Can I speak with you?” He asked formally.
“Uh, yeah, sure. Alice, please don’t let my breakfast disappear.” I said standing to follow Severus out the hall. We walked a little way past the doors, and I realised my fingers were sticky from the syrup on my toast and I stuck one in my mouth just as he turned, his face serious, his mouth already open to speak. He stopped instead and stared at my finger.
“Uh…” I smiled, “Sticky finger.” Extricating the offending finger from my mouth. His face suddenly opened up and he began to laugh. Quite unlike himself, he pulled me into a hug and pressed his lips into my hair, “Yves, would you like to go to the ball with me?”
I pulled away slightly so I could see his face and eyed him suspiciously.
“Seriously?” I asked, watching him closely, “Even after the sticky finger?”
He smiled even more broadly, his eyes lowering sultrily and nodded. “If you don’t already have a date?”
“I don’t have a date yet Sev. I would love to go with you.” His smile reached his eyes. He was very handsome when he smiled like that. He was actually a little more than just handsome.
“Excellent. What colour is your dress?” He asked, his voice a little deeper than it had been a moment ago.
“Why?” I asked a little confused.
“So I can match your dress We need to look the couple.”
“Uh… it’s just black.” I said impressed he would be more thoughtful about something like this than I was.
“Perfect. I’ll meet you outside here at 6:30 before the dance?”
“Yeah, great, thanks.” I said eloquently before we both went back to our tables.
“What was that about?” Alice asked, handing me my plate of now cold French Toast.
“I have a date to the dance.” I said before a loud crash somewhere further down the table.
“Yeah?” Mary asked despite her attention being held by whatever was happening at the other end of the table.
“Get off it!” Said a gravel voice a moment before toast went flying over the table.
“Pads mate! Seriously, get a grip!” James was saying to Sirius who had thrown the food.
“Sirius!” Lily said in her reprimanding tone.
“Shut up Lily!” Sirius spat at her. “Why you feel a constant need to be involved in absolutely goddamn everything, I will never know.”
“Sirius, you are out of line mate. Get out of here! Now! Go!” said James sternly, rising from the table to square off against Sirius. He was just protecting Lily but when Sirius was in one of his moods, he was difficult to control at best. I didn’t doubt that they would be closely matched in a duel but there was something about Sirius that was so feral, you could just never know with him. Sirius stared at James for a moment, his face furious before marching out the hall. No one dared follow him.
“What’s his problem?” Lily asked James.
“He just got some really bad news.” He said, not looking at Lily, instead looking me dead in the eye.
“Oh gosh! Is he ok?” Alice asked.
“Obviously not.” Said James still looking at me pointedly.
“I’m not going after him if that’s what you’re wanting.” I said to James.
“I think you should.”
“I think whatever’s going on with Sirius has nothing to do with me. Besides, Lily and I are going to be late for Arithmancy.”
Lily and I walked a little way in silence before she said in a voice very unlike her.
“I don’t want you to hurt Severus.” She said out of no where, “I don’t mean that you will, I just mean that he has been through a lot and it’s difficult for him to open up so, even him asking you to the dance, is a huge step for him.”
I considered what she was saying before I responded.
“I don’t have any intention of hurting Severus, I actually like him. I never told you, because it was, well, weird, I thought he had a thing for you, but he tried to kiss me a couple of weeks ago. It didn’t happen, but it would have…” if Sirius hadn’t cursed him, I finished in my head.
“Really?” she whispered, pulling me closer as we walked past a group of preteen Slytherins. “Tell me everything!”
Too soon it was the day of the dance and everything looked set to go. There was a tremendous aura of excitement across the entire school. First, Second and Third years were only allowed to attend the ball until 10, after that, the remaining students were allowed to party until 1AM.
All the girls excused themselves as early as they could from normal Saturday activities to get ready. I painted Alice’s nails a very beautiful campaign colour to go with her shimmery dress. Lily curled her hair and fussed over whether or not to use green eye shadow. We had given her a resounding no in answer. Mary emerged from the bathroom wearing a very regal purple gown, which accentuated her curved body beautifully. Next to them, I felt a little bit plain in my black dress. It had also looked like a lot more dress in the catalogue but I had to make do with what I had. It had two thick bands of material running vertically over my breasts, the middle segment filled with fine netting. There was a thick band at my waist, which extended into a very demure skirt. I paired it with a simple pair of heels, pulled my hair up into a high pony, put the simplest amount of make up on and I was done. I didn’t have any accessories, having left all the beautiful things I owned behind when I ran away from my family but I was happy with the way I looked anyway. My scar was exposed but I wore it like a badge of honour, my symbol of survival.
Mary, Lily and Alice made a grand entrance to a collective intake of breaths in the Common Room. I hung back not wanting to detract from their moment. A few moments later I came down to find them all still standing around.
“Hi guys! You didn’t have to wait. You boys look amazing!” They all cleaned up really well, even Peter.
“Hey Yves.” Said Mary, coming forward suspiciously. “I have a present for you.” She said almost robotically and handed me a small gift box, wrapped simply in black paper.
“Really? You got me a gift?” I asked her, a little wary. Everyone stood around looking uncomfortable, averting their eyes.
“Uh… yeah. A while ago. I just forgot to give it to you.” She said eyeing Remus a little more severely than was completely necessary for the situation.
I looked at her confused. “Open it!” she squealed impatiently, giving her elegantly adorned foot a tiny stamp.
I tore the wrapping and opened the box. It was a necklace and pendant but it wasn’t like anything I had ever seen before. It was a simple, seemingly random constellation of clear diamantes set among larger midnight blue ones. It was so beautiful. Before I could say anything, the tears welling in my eyes, she took it from my hands and fastened it around my neck.
I walked to where Severus was waiting for me. He stood alone in the dark, off to one side. He wore a very elegant suit that looked very expensive, with a black tie, his dress robes slung over his arm. He smiled broadly when I approached.
“You are breathtakingly beautiful.” He said looking at me appraisingly. His eyes drifting up and down to take in the dress, a smile playing on his lips.
“You look wonderful too Sev.” I said beaming at him. He was off to a good start. This was going to be fun.
“I hate these things.” He said after I helped him into the stupid robes.
“You’ll be able to take them off after we do the dance. Are you ready?” I said doing one final check.
“I suppose I don’t have any other option than to be ready. It’s time isn’t it?” He said and held out his arm confidently.
“It is.” I said linking my arm with his.
We met Amos and Amelia outside the doors of the Great Hall, which had been transformed. The tables had disappeared, and there were smaller, more intimate round tables fringing hall, leaving the centre open, for the dancers.
Each grade would have a segment of the dance to preform, as there were too many for us all to be dancing at once, but Amelia, Amos, Severus and I would have to dance the whole thing.
The music started up and Severus led me into the hall, right to the centre of the room. The other students framed us and would join in at the appropriate times. Sev placed his hand on my back, took my hand and looked down to smile. This was the first time we were dancing together since he confessed that he had lied and that he could actually dance. He looked as though he knew something I didn’t which was a little weird because he had already told me his secret.
As the beat picked up, he held me firmly, swung me around in a perfect arc, dipped me and lifted me with professional flair. I felt as light as air, the skirt of my dress moving fluidly to the music. I guess I didn’t know his full secret. He was an unimaginably brilliant dancer, confident and strong. I was mildly aware that there were people dancing around us, but for a moment, the only thing that existed was Severus. My stomach was in a knot and with each twirl, I felt myself stepping closer and closer to him, until, by the end of the dance, our bodies were pressed against each other. He looked down at me, centimetres from my face and his eyes slid from my eyes down to my lips.
There were applause and whoops coming from all around us and I broke apart from Severus to bow to our audience. Lily was giving me enthusiastic thumbs up, Marlene was crying looking at the other side of the room, some Slytherins were pointing at the two of us but I didn’t care. I felt great. And then my eyes caught Sirius. He looked completely composed and completely unlike himself. He stood apart from everyone else. They had seemingly given him a wide berth. His hands were in his pocket and he was just watching me. I could always see something on Sirius’s face, there was always some kind of emotion playing there somewhere, but it was totally blank. His eyes followed me but otherwise there was nothing there.
“You’re an incredible dancer.” Severus whispered in my ear to the continuing applause. The hair on the nape of my neck rose with the brush of his breath.
“I cannot take a single moments credit for that Severus. You dance like a Beauxbatons.” I said dragging my eyes from Sirius back to my date where they belonged.
“Let’s get something to drink.” He said, taking my hand and leading me over to the tables. Before long, we had eaten and had some punch, which had obviously been spiked the moment the younger pupils were ushered off to bed. We then went to the dance floor. I heard that the Potters had called in a special favour and managed to get The Paisley Pestilence to preform. Severus and I danced for what felt like a very long time before I needed to refuel. I exited the crowd and walked over to the empty drinks table. There was nothing left. I pulled out my wand to magic something into the punch bowls when suddenly it was filling with a multi-coloured, smoking liquids. I turned around to see Sirius pointing his wand at the bowl.
“You can have some of that, but I suggest, you have some of this.” He said handing me a flask, his face still dead.
“What is it?” I asked sniffing it suspiciously.
“Firewhisky. I wouldn’t give you anything else.”
“I’m not so sure about that.” I said taking a swig.
“Nice necklace.” He said smiling broadly but it looked a little bit wrong.
“Thanks! Mary gave it to me this evening. I think it’s really cool.” I said, trying to fill the dead air space with some babble.
“Where’s your date?” I rolled my eyes at his question.
“Where’s yours?” was my retort.
“I don’t have one.” He said simply.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that I don’t have a date.” He said as if I was addled.
“Yeah, I got that, but why?”
“Because I didn’t want to go with someone I didn’t like.”
“Oh.” I said intelligently. “But… you’re with Marlene?” I asked a bit confused.
“Excuse me?” He asked, his forehead wrinkling.
“Marlene? Your girlfriend?” I said taking another swig from the flask.
“Marlene isn’t my girlfriend Yves.”
“Uh, sure.” I said, rolling my eyes in sarcasm. I knew he was a Lothario but to deny he had a girlfriend outright was even a little too brazen for the Sirius I knew.
“She asked me to the dance but I said no.” He still looked confused.
“But she was gushing every moment she got about how happy the two of you were…” and then it dawned on me. “She made it up!”
“Yeah, probably. Some girls do things like that.” He said prompting me to take another sip from the flask.
“Oh my god! That’s horrible. I’m so sorry Sirius.” I said, putting my hand on his arm, “That’s a really shitty thing for someone to do to someone else.”
He looked at me strangely for a while before he spoke, his voice different.
“Are you enjoying yourself?” His eyes not moving from mine.
“Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun…”
I felt a hand on my lower back and the pressure of a body being pushed up against me but before I could freak out Severus spoke close to my ear “Everything alright here Yves?”
I was still looking into Sirius’s eyes, his annoyance registering only in the twitch of his jaw.
“How’s it going Snivellus?” He asked casually.
“Oh dear Black, have you nothing better than that?”
Sirius’s crooked smile broke out across his face slowly. He looked like he’d just caught a snitch. His gaze didn’t move from mine and when he spoke it was light-hearted, but we all knew better.
“Actually Sev,” He said contemptuously using my nickname for him “that’s not all I’ve got.” And he dropped his eyes to the necklace. I followed his eyes and looked down to where it lay midway down my chest. Severus was also looking down at the pendant before taking it in his hand, his eyes narrowing, before gently putting it back down.
“Nicely played Black.” He said before tightly clinching his jaw, his eyes narrowing.
“What is going on?” I asked frustrated. “Where does this come from?” I asked Sirius.
“From Mary, like you said…” He said, grinning from ear to ear, Severus was balling his fists next to me.
“Where does it really come from?” I demanded.
“Do you like it?” He asked playfully, his eyes fixed on mine again.
“Sirius!” I was beginning to lose patience, “Did you give this to Mary to give to me?”
“Why would you do that?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Severus said venomously, “You’re jealous aren’t you Black? Jealous of me aren’t you?” He began to move forward threateningly and Sirius’s eyes flashed in hatred.
“Of you? Please.” Sirius said but I could see Severus had struck a nerve.
“You’re jealous that I asked Yves to the dance instead of you, that I had the stones to do it.”
“You stupid git! You beat me to it but a couple of minutes; don’t pretend as though you had some massive advantage. If I’d asked her first, she would be here with me!” What? Sirius was going to ask me to the dance? My head was spinning.
“Don’t insult her! Like she didn’t have a choice in the matter Black. You’re a loathsome creature and you’ve shown her your true nature long before now. I can assure you, her choosing you over me, is not the foregone conclusion you think it to be!” Severus said, his voice steel. He slid his wand out and pointed it at Sirius but James came sliding in knocking his wand straight out of his hand, pointing his own wand at Sev. I pulled my own wand out and cast Stupefy straight into his stupid chest. James was flung spectacularly to the floor and knocked into one of the tables.
“What did you do that for?” Sirius yelled at me while he began walking toward me but before I knew what I was doing I threw a tripping jinx in his direction, his face smashing into the ground, his arms buckling underneath him with the pressure of the fall. Remus out of nowhere shot a curse directly at Severus and in a second he was hurtling in the air before colliding with a wall and slumping to the ground.
“Remus!” Screamed Lily as a stream of red sparks collided with him and set him ablaze. Some Slytherins had come to Severus’s aid. Before I could decide which side to stand on I felt something tightening around my neck, invisible fingers contracting, wringing the life out of me. I dropped my wand in a panic, trying to pry the invisible fingers from my neck with my own but they weren’t there. The pain was incredible and I fell to my knees unable to breathe.
Sorry about the cliffhanger but the next one is already written and edited, I just need to upload it. It's also a cracker! xxx
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