|The Problem With Masquerade Balls
Author: My Hopeless Romantic PM
They hated each other but…he lifted his hands and rested his fingers on her mask. Her heart beat raced in a panic at the disappointment she would see on his face once she was revealed. "Wait, how about we play a game?" #5Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Chapters: 20 - Words: 80,054 - Reviews: 908 - Favs: 598 - Follows: 220 - Updated: 01-10-09 - Published: 08-10-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3716188
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters from Gakuen Alice belong to Tachibana Higuchi and characters from Harry Potter belong to J. K. Rowling. :) This Harry Alice is mine. Enjoy!
Pandemonium comes with strangers in masks.
Chapter Nineteen: Fiery Finale
Youichi walked into the Head's common room, grey locks immediately falling into his eyes when he turned his head to the figure sitting slumped in the armchair facing the fireplace. His stoic grey eyes scrutinized the lump and when it didn't move for quite some time, he stepped closer and asked cautiously, "Natsume-senpai?"
Natsume whipped the blanket off of his head and glared at the younger boy with annoyed, ruby eyes and decided to ignore the look of surprise on Youichi's face. "What?" he grated irritably, flinging the blanket onto the other couch, "Well?"
Youichi frowned and felt before he heard Draco's presence as he stepped into the room. The blond eyed his annoyed friend before the fireplace and patted Youichi roughly on the arm and said, "Don't bother with him, Hijiri. He's just sulking because he can't hold onto his girl for more than a month's time."
"Like you're doing any better," Natsume growled darkly, turning his gaze away from the fireplace to look at the two boys. "You like Granger and yet, you don't have the balls to ask her out."
Youichi snickered but Draco remained cool, "I'm not asking her out because I don't like her," he maintained smoothly, stuffing a hand into his pocket and sitting in the armchair across from Natsume. "And stop changing the subject. You're sulking in front of a fireplace for Christ's sake!"
"I'm not sulking," Natsume muttered stiffly, pinching the bridge of his nose. "I'm brooding over the fact that Mikan Sakura is quite possibly the most annoying, prudish and unpredictable girl in this place."
"Only because she dumped you for no apparent reason last week and you still can't manage to get over her," Draco commented dryly, propping his legs on the coffee table. "What do you think, Youichi? Is Natsume pathetic or is he pathetic?"
Youichi shrugged uncommitted and sat down in front of the fire to look at both older boys. "You'll be back together before the Graduation Ball, anyway," Youichi piped in monotonously, looking pointedly at Natsume. "And Mikan-nee never dumps you without a reason."
Natsume glowered darkly from under dark black eyelashes and growled, "Don't think you understand, Youichi." He frowned handsomely, his dark eyebrows knitting in concentration before he muttered, "Women," under his breath.
"When did you start talking like this, Natsume?" Draco chided with a frown. "You're moping over—"
"She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named," Natsume interrupted, narrowing his eyes.
"She's not the new Voldemort, Natsume-senpai," Youichi admonished with a small grin on his face. "You're acting ridiculous."
Natsume slumped further into his seat and muttered something that sounded like 'stupid bastards' and promptly refused to speak until the doors opened and Mikan appeared with Hermione in tow. Their innocent chattered abruptly ceased when Mikan turned and glimpsed the dark glower that was on Natsume's face.
"Where've you been?" Natsume snapped through clenched teeth. "Entertaining your little fan-boys with those Alices of yours?"
It was true, Youichi thought. Once the others saw the extent of Mikan's Alices, the school was abuzz with news and words of her feats. The days following were crazy wherein boys from all Houses and years came up to her and asked to see what she was capable of. Natsume hadn't been too pleased with the development and Youichi could only grin at the memory.
"Not that it's any of your business," Mikan replied airily, taking her cloak off to leave her in her school uniform, "—but I was using my Alices to help with the Graduation Ball decorations." She quirked an eyebrow up at the three boys and narrowed her eyes at Natsume before scowling, "Since the others were so short on hands, I was called in to help. Speaking of which, where were you? I asked for your help and you didn't come…"
"He's been moping by the fireplace all day," Draco drawled. The change in his tone was evident since the girls had arrived and instead of the slightly concerned mien and voice, his demeanor had changed to one that was smooth and alluring.
"Shut up," Natsume muttered darkly, his position on the armchair was of a king on his throne. Ignoring the mention of his former pathetic state, Natsume sat up and draped both arms over the armrests, glowering at her. "You," he hissed, "— and I have to talk."
"Do we?" she asked with an eyebrow raised, "About what?"
He stood up and strode over casually, taking her arm in a gentle yet firm grip. At her glare, he said coolly, "About something that doesn't concern anyone else in this room. Now let's go."
He tugged at her arm and after scrutinizing him for another two seconds, she sighed and put her bag down by the couch. Crossing her arms and turning herself away from his body, Mikan clenched her teeth and breathed, "Fine. Where did you want to go, your majesty?"
A wry smile made its way over Mikan's features before she laughed humourlessly, "Do you think I'm stupid or something? No! I'd sooner speak in Snape's office than go into your room!"
Natsume rolled his eyes and a smirk of arrogance and a flash of annoyance brightened his eyes before he shot back, "Fine. Off to Snape's then."
He could tell that there was a smirk of approval on Malfoy's face, not that he really cared. Mikan's wrist had gone slack in his grip and with a boyish grin, he turned to look at the look of surprise and apprehension that was shown clearly on her face. It made a flare of pride swell in his stomach to know that he'd managed to catch her off her game.
For a smart girl, Natsume thought wickedly, his girlfriend really didn't know him very well. Natsume Hyuuga was not to be provoked and it was time she understood exactly why not.
With her wrist still firmly in hand, Natsume turned around and stared pointedly at Draco with his palm open and arm outstretched. Draco, who had been sitting beside Youichi with a far off expression on his face, started when a rough nudge to his arm made him look up to see Natsume silently demanding for Snape's keys. With a sigh, Draco sat up a bit to dig his hand into the back pocket of his black slacks in order to toss the key through the air and into his hand.
"You better not lose that," Draco warned in a low voice. "That's my only copy and Severus would kill me if he found out…"
Natsume nodded and wrenched the door of the common room open in order to drag his girlfriend by the arm, out the door. They hadn't gone but a few meters when Mikan wrenched her arm away in anger and whispered in a dangerous voice, "What are you doing?"
"I'm doing what you asked," Natsume rolled his eyes. "You agreed to talk in Snape's office and that's precisely where we're going."
"We can't just break into a teacher's office just to have a conversation! That's wrong! We could get in serious trouble if we were caught!" Mikan pointed out, looking at both ends of the hall to make sure no one was listening.
"You should've thought of that before making the suggestion," Natsume replied smoothly, taking her hand. "Now c'mon and stop being such a baby."
"I was just kidding when I said we'd talk in Snape's office, Natsume! We can talk here!"
"No, I think Snape's will be much more… interesting," Natsume smirked, challenging Mikan to say otherwise with a slant of his eyebrow. Defiant and utterly annoyed brown eyes looked back at him and biting her lip just the slightest, Mikan turned with her nose in the air and stuffed her hands in her pockets.
"Fine, jerk. Lead the way."
Triumphantly, Natsume mirrored his girlfriend's move (he would not believe that she'd dumped him) and tucked both hands securely into his pant pockets, only then noticing that he hadn't brought his cloak, nor his jacket. Instead, he was wearing just a dark green silk button-up shirt and black slacks with a black tie dangling, barely tied, around his neck. A slow, mischievous smirk fell easily upon his lips before he stuck a hand out in front of Mikan and pushed her against the wall, effectively caging her with his arms in a rather deserted hallway near the dungeons.
"You're losing your touch, Natsume," Mikan drawled in a lilted voice. "I saw that coming. Now release me before I force you to."
"I'm just shaking," he rolled his eyes, a wry grin on his face. "And if you 'saw it coming', why didn't you dodge it?"
She folded her arms, shoving one of his hands away that kept inching closer to her waist before fixing a glare on her face. "I was curious as to what the hell you thought you were doing."
"No," red eyes twinkled with amusement, "—I'm sure you just missed the feeling of my arms around you." His voice was nonchalant, almost mocking and Mikan felt the impending heat that was making its way slowly up her neck and into her face.
Biting her lip in order to concentrate on pretending his hand wasn't warm and sensual on the small of her back, Mikan laughed wryly and snapped, "Dream on, Natsume. I'm sure it's you that misses me in your arms."
She could feel his warm breath on her neck and the hand that wasn't on her back fall listlessly on her shoulder, the smoldering heat felt red hot in the chill of the Slytherin hallway. Like every other hallway, candles in their holders and little hallway torches lit the corridor with an eerie glow. The slightest flicker of wind made shadows dance all around the both of them and Mikan couldn't help the hitch of her breath when she looked up to find Natsume's face infinitesimally close to hers. The shock of red eyes glowed bright in the dark and the inconsistent flicker of the lit candles cast ethereal shadows over Natsume's features, accentuating his high cheekbones and the firm set of his jaw in order to mock her.
Sometimes she hated playing these games with Natsume.
The quick movement of his lips captured her gaze and she stilled when they curved into a devilish smile. She barely heard the echo as his feet stepped up closer to her body and only snapped out of her daze when he'd bent down by her ear to whisper, "I'm man enough not to deny it."
The simple whisper made her heart go into overdrive and she was seriously considering putting the whole plan behind her and kissing him so hard his head would spin. She'd been tiptoeing all week long in order to make sure she didn't run into him when she was by herself so that she wouldn't get herself caught in situations like these and for the most part, she had been successful. In other instances, she'd been able to get herself out of these situations by using her Alice to put some distance between them but now—now, she didn't even want to get away.
The guy was too damn irresistible for his own good.
She swallowed hard when his lips descended towards hers but snapping out of her thoughts, Mikan quickly turned her head and instantly felt soft lips press against her temple. He growled softly and held her hips tighter in his hands.
"Natsume, leave me alone."
Mikan held her breath and leaned away from him, almost totally up against the wall and only managed to exhale when she heard him growl dangerously low, the pressure on her hips disappearing altogether. The pressure on her heart, on the other hand, was pressing increasingly hard, which made it rather difficult to breathe.
Her moment of relief was short lived when he grabbed her wrist in a steel grip and practically dragged her down the hallway, stopping briefly in front of a solid door and pulling her inside.
"Snape's office," she deadpanned in a deadly whisper. "You actually brought me into Snape's office? What the heck, Natsume, this is so weird!"
Mikan threw her hands up in the air and turned around rapidly to glare at Natsume's prone figure that leaned against the door of Snape's office. His black hair hung messily around his face and she could see the faint outline of his eyes when he looked up from underneath his eyelashes. "We have to talk, Polka Dots."
"And cutting to the chase would suit me very well," Mikan tapped her foot, crossing her arms over her chest to peer at him mock-anxiously.
"You dumped me and I don't know why," he spoke in a deep whisper. "What did I do?"
She shifted carefully and felt ashamed when she looked at the broken look on his face. "If you don't know what you did then it's obvious I made the right decision when I—eep!"
She was pushed roughly against the wall and Natsume's head was leaned softly against her shoulder, hands once again on both sides of her body. "Natsume, what do you think you'r—"
"Are you kidding with me?" he whispered harshly. He lifted his head and red eyes blazed into hers with anger. "You always tell me what I do wrong and how do you expect me to fix things if you won't tell me?"
His eyes darkened considerably until a wry, humourless laugh escaped his lips. "Or are you making this difficult because you don't want me to make it up to you? Is that it? Do you like it better having flocks of boys at your beck and call or something?" he bit out roughly, dislodging one arm from the wall to run through his hair.
He leaned away and sat sprawled in the chair in front of Snape's desk before he looked up at her with confused eyes.
Mikan breathed shallowly and watched him perched precariously on the chair before she let her shoulders slump a little. "Natsume, you don't get it do you? This doesn't have anything to do with the other boys."
"Oh yeah?" he scowled bitterly. "Then why do you always have that stupid smile on your face when they come up and ask you to make those water serpents or whatever else? The only thing that's changed since we got together is the amount of guys that pine after your attention. What was I supposed to think when you suddenly came up to me and said, 'It's not working out, Natsume'?"
Her anger spiked. "The only reason why I have that stupid smile on my face is because it feels good not having to worry about hiding my Alices for once. It was killing me for the past three years trying to hide it. Forgive me if being free makes me happy, Natsume," she scoffed in a deadly sneer. "And as for me breaking up with you, you're making it pretty damn hard to focus on my plans when you're pushing me against walls and whispering those things in my ear, so stop that and just wait out your surprise, dammit!"
His head jerked upward and he furrowed his brow in thought and Mikan couldn't help the rapid beat of her heart at the handsome look on his face. She sighed and ran a hand across her face in exasperation. "Trust you to ruin all of my plans, you bastard," she muttered softly, folding her arms across her chest.
"So this was all a stupid joke?" he muttered angrily. "You did this as a joke?"
"It wasn't a joke!" Mikan threw her hands up and then pinched the bridge of her nose with her thumb and forefinger. "If you would just remember the game that we agreed upon at the last ball, then you'd realize what an absolute loser you are!"
"Game?" Natsume asked, startled. "What game?"
Mikan scowled darkly and looked at the ceiling, as if to ask God why he was torturing her so. Then, pursing her lips into a thin line, she glowered, "The game where we were supposed to keep our identities a secret until a week before the Graduation Ball in which time we'd both go to the Great Lake and reveal ourselves—God, Natsume, you're hopeless!"
Natsume got to his feet and opted to lean against Snape's desk with both hands on its surface. Her anger spiked when she saw him roll his eyes at her.
"What's the point in the game when we already know who the other is and we've been going out for more than five months?" Natsume drawled blandly, scrutinizing her reaction.
She took two steps closer and stopped close enough to hiss, "I thought it'd be romantic, okay? For Kami's sake, you don't have a romantic bone in your body!"
"What's so romantic about dumping me days before the dance in cold blood?" Natsume asked in disbelief. He shook his head and tucked a hand into his pocket, never breaking eye contact with the Head Girl.
Mikan fiddled with the hem of her shirt before she blew up her cheeks and exhaled softly. "I was trying to surprise you…"
"Dumping me was surprise enough," he muttered under his breath.
"Well at least I'm trying to be romantic! All you do is… no wait – you don't do anything romantic!"
"That's not true," he defended with a frown. "I brought you lunch in bed one time when you were sick," he pointed out smugly.
"You didn't bring me lunch," Mikan hissed in a retort, "Draco brought me lunch in bed and it was only because McGonagall asked him to."
"I told him what to bring, didn't I? Your favorites."
"That's not romantic, Natsume. It would've been romantic if you brought it on your own and spoon-fed me." Mikan pointed out with a frown on her face. She watched as a boyish grin lit up his face and couldn't help the roll of her eyes. This boy was hopeless.
"You have hands. You can spoon feed yourself."
"Oh, that just proves you're romantic, doesn't it?" Mikan stated mockingly. He shrugged and sat down in the chair in front of Snape's desk, once again and she walked over to sit on the desk he'd just vacated. "Whatever," she murmured, looking out the window. "I spent all that time trying to make the dance special and you just had to ruin everything."
"I'm not the one who spilled the beans," Natsume countered under his breath, watching her eyes sharpen with anger. Making her angry was too easy, he smirked.
"You don't know," Mikan hissed, low in her throat, "—how much I want to slap off that grin on your face. You are a selfish jerk! Sometimes I don't know how I can even stand you!"
His jaw slackened and he could feel his ears ringing, watching her stand there. The migraine did nothing for his mood. Raising his eyes to level with her furious gaze, he shot back, "Oh and you are just the perfect girlfriend, aren't you?" he sneered. "I'm not perfect and I'm not afraid to admit it. I can't be the guy that you want," he said evenly, his voice soft. "I'm not going to start bringing you flowers and spoon feed you in bed. I won't pretend to be happy and let you change my clock's alarm to the Barney song and I can't—" he looked down, exhaling in frustration before he muttered, "I can't change."
Her heart was beating rapidly and Mikan was finding it hard to breathe. Her heart, it was just so… full, she wouldn't be surprised if it burst. She wanted to laugh but that feeling in her heart made her want to cry and she was surprised to hear her voice terribly soft in tone, "I never asked that of you."
"You said you wanted all of those things," Natsume replied stiffly. "I can't be one of your fanboys. You know I'm not like that but you're obviously unhappy with me if you want me to change so badly."
She felt the bubble of laughter that had been suppressed by the other onslaught of feelings and stared at him, "I want you. That's it. I don't need you to be anything more than that." She looked at the wall behind his head wistfully, "This," she waved her hand in between them, "—is only happening because I know you'll get bored. And don't say you won't, Natsume," she countered when he opened his mouth to retort. "I know the only reason you were interested in the first place is because I was wearing a mask and I was the epitome of that 'mysterious' girl that guys like so much but once that's over and done with, the chase is over Natsume. This," she pointed to herself, "—is the only thing I am. This is what you're stuck with and I have a hard time believing that's enough for you."
Natsume relaxed in the chair and stared at her blankly, his expression strangely affectionate. Sighing quietly, he reached forward and took her by the wrist, lifting her hand up in thought. "I don't know how long we'll… stay like this," he said abruptly. "I don't know what will happen when we leave this place. I don't—can't predict the future but this," he held up her hand,"—right now, this is more than enough."
She bit her lip. "But will it be enough for forever?"
He looked up to search her eyes, "I think this'll be enough for a long time."
And Mikan let a slow smile spread across her lips because that meant the same thing, for him, anyway.
... and the rest is still unwritten...
Thank you for pushing me to finish this story!
crimsoneyes44, smarties101, YunaNeko, newsoul343, Olympiangirl, aysuki, Aery12, .prince, froXenshadow, My Dreamy Heart, Bubble55332, vk-kuran, sternenhagel, rin03, My Desperate Soul in Love, angelakawaii, essierocks4eva, CuteAndCrazyAzn, BaybiiLexii, sweetiewriter4712, Sing4theRain, Ida Sofie, GreyXCat94, Seki Hime, It's. Defiance, ox-Chibiie, Nastusia is Miu, xSilver ThunderX, storylover1234, Kagome Kanoe, akerue, night liker, IAmTheBattleMaiden, purexoredxorose, chris3169512, Lobaa, StarAngel02, Erilin-chin, insaneoneX, Pathetic Rainbow, heya-gurl, Heartbroken Confession, Azakura, Ichigo3, Youichiix33, FallenRaindrops, mystery-angel128, Ljserpent, Jasmini, FantasticFanpire, Rainy Day Pearl, SpringFairy15, HengHeng, k0nek0, Celine's Imagination, Serenade in Silence, Charmane, freedec12, Annaoj, hallioe, Cute Pukite, Midnight Taiyou, 15385bic, QuickStar, xmiku, Apple Bubblegum, tangerinegirl13, Chocokat95, xXbunnyholicXx, sunflower22
I'll leave KokoSumire, HotaruRuka, AoiYouichi and HermioneDraco's 'supposed endings' to your imagination.
I guess this is goodbye. So how about a review for old time's sake?
My Hopeless Romantic
Completed: January 10, 2009