The masquerade was fast approaching and, while Belay did not look forward to it at all, the excitement around him was infectious. He soon found himself grouping together with his friends and deciding a 'theme' for their masks and costumes. Despite being a squib, Shakespeare had been and continued to be a famous literary figure for the Wizarding world, and his plays were often the first the pure blooded children would read in their childhood.
Belay was saddled with the mighty role of Hamlet, so naturally Blaise took Horatio. Daphne followed their lead and snapped up the role of Ophelia before anyone could get a word in edge-wise. And so, a less than pleased Draco found himself none other than Romeo with Pansy as his Juliet.
Fabrics were ordered from catalogues that the prefects left in the common room and they were quick to arrive, most needing two barn owls to deliver them. An entire Charms class was dedicated to teaching sewing spells from cutting to measuring. The days leading up to Halloween were undoubtedly the most pleasurable Belay had ever experienced.
Most importantly, he couldn't wait for the surprise his father had in store.
So, when Belay awoke on October 31st he was understandably out of it.
The gift had still not arrived by the time the Masquerade was due to start but he knew his father wouldn't get his hopes up for nothing. The common room was filled with a masked and caped students of all years, brandishing their props at one another whilst joking and laughing. Belay had never seen the Slytherins so rambunctious.
Blaise was glued to his side, never leaving him be. "I need to stay in character," he had explained with utmost seriousness.
Draco was not at all happy with his partner, though Daphne was by no means pleased either. However, they were somehow managing to keep their thoughts to themselves…so far. Everyone mulled in the common room until, finally, Snape waltzed in to guide them to the Great Hall. Unsurprisingly, he had not bothered to adorn himself with so much as a mask for the night's festivities.
The Great Hall was decked out in everything from spider webs to fairy dust, lit by the floating candelabras floating above everyone's heads, nearly colliding with the platters of candy and treats that would whiz in every which direction, sending their contents to the ground. There were shouts of excitement and gasps of awe as the students filed in, the last house to arrive. The ghost were scattered, Nearly Headless Nick was gallivanting about the Gryffindors, looking terribly offended, while the Bloody Baron was no where in sight.
The Slytherins all spread out to find open tables and Dumbledore began his speech.
"Boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you all to the Halloween Masquerade. Tonight we have the pleasure of shaking it up," there was a smattering of giggles through out the crowd, "with the Bent Twigs, all of whom once walked through the halls of Hogwarts like yourselves at one point."
Eyes twinkling, Dumbledore set them free. It was quiet for a short while, everyone whispering as not to break the silence as the Bent Twigs got their instruments together.
Belay watched them through the eye slits of his mask with interest. They were all shaggy and wild looking, not at all the type of entertainment meant for a masquerade. Daphne puffed beside him and squeezed his arm. "Belay, make sure you dance with Draco tonight."
The dark haired boy shot her a questioning glance before remembering she wouldn't be able to see it. "Why?" He asked quietly, seeing the lead singer of the Bent Twigs tapping his throat and whispering a voice amplifying charm.
Daphne rolled her eyes and looked passed his shoulder and Belay followed her gaze to see Draco and Pansy hissing at one another not too far away. Blaise chose to answer in Daphne's place. "He's not too happy to be with Pansy," he explained. "Their parents have been trying to hook them up since they were toddlers but they just get on each other's nerves. And of course, neither parent wants to risk an affair." Belay 'awed' in understanding. "But why with me?"
Daphne snorted. "Because he may like Blaise and I but he really likes you Riddle." Belay rose a brow.
"So I'm Riddle now?"
"Well, you'll always be a riddle to us all."
She abandoned him with that statement and Blaise took the opportunity to drag him onto the dance floor as the first song of the night began. The beat was swift and set, sweeping them off into a flurry of movement through the crowds. Belay identified it as a mutant offspring of the Salsa after the first minute of careful stepping.
While the butchery of good tradition was highly offensive to him, Belay found himself laughing along with Blaise, their masks clinging to their faces through the spins and dives they were making.
Smiles were all around, most giggling at the naughty dancing performed by the older years, and others had caught on to the beat and began to get wild with it. Tossing his hair over his shoulder, Belay felt his blood rush while Blaise tugged him this way and that way, managing to avoid other people's feet and snogging couples.
As he was twirled yet again, Belay saw Draco watching sourly from their table, Pansy having abandoned him to dance with some friends of hers. The blond disappeared from his sight just as quickly as he had entered it and the song came to a slow end, Blaise stepping lightly towards and away from him.
The next song was preposterous. Belay could only stare at his partner in horror as the couples around them began to grind their lower halves together like beasts. Blaise erupted into fits of hysterical laughter and dragged him away from the crowds to the punch table to get a drink.
Belay had not realized how thirsty he actually was until a cup butterbeer was thrust into his hands. He smiled and had to yell a thank you over the music for his friend to hear him. It occurred to him that they should return to Draco and keep him company but Blaise had already settled against the wall, unwilling to fight his way back though the hordes of bodies rubbing together.
Belay copied him, glancing over his cup with his ruby eyes at his right hand man. The five minutes they'd spent on the dance floor had been exhilarating and he knew the other boy was a brilliant dancer, experienced and at ease with his movements.
He had likely been to many balls such as this, unlike Belay who was only permitted on the rare occasion that his father deemed it worth his attendance. He hadn't had the practice Blaise had and he deeply hoped he wouldn't hold the other back during the next dance.
It was disgusting, watching the way his peers were dancing. There was no class to it, just wild sporadic motions that had little purpose aside from releasing sexual tension amongst the older students. Again, disgusting.
Pulling his gaze away to look for anything else to look at until the dance ended, Belay's gaze fell upon a mouse half mask, watching from an empty table. Harry recognized the nervous wringing of the boys hands as belonging to Neville. Harry tugged on Blaise's sleeve and pulled him over to the table. They sat to the boy's left, startling him.
"Hello, Neville," Belay said with a smile. "Isn't this all, uh, rather interesting?"
He was giggling before he could even finish the sentence, causing Blaise to prod him in the side to sober him. Neville grinned half-halfheartedly at him and shrugged. "I don't know, I've never been to a dance before. But that style of dance…" He looked out to the dance floor and flushed under his mask. Belay nodded in agreement. "Positively shameful isn't it?" He took a sip of his butterbeer.
"I've never been to a ball like this one," he shared sociably. "My father usually only lets me come with him to those dry political balls. You know, where all the snobby adults are trying to show off how rich and pure blood they are but end up overcompensating." Neville giggled a little, the tension in his shoulders relaxing a little.
"My Gran always goes to those. She says it's the only way to stay connected these days but I think she just likes to show off her hats."
They lapsed into silence, Blaise observing his nails closely whole Belay sipped from his cup awkwardly and Neville bit his lip nervously.
It didn't take too terribly long for the song to change to a halfway decent one again, Blaise dragging Belay back onto the dance floor immediately.
This time was a rock-ish waltz that had them strutting this way and that way. As they spun Blaise hissed in his ear, "how in Merlin's name did you manage to befriend Longbottom? He's so…so…"
"Timid?" Belay offered and tutted, twisting them to the right. "He's just shy. Draco hasn't exactly been kind to him and you've never stood up for him or even tried to have a conversation before so he probably just didn't know what to say."
Blaise looked doubtful but pulled him a long nevertheless. They were working their way back through the crowd now, waltzing towards where they had abandoned Draco only the blond wasn't there anymore. A choked laugh from his partner had Belay looking at him curiously.
The Italian boy gestured somewhere behind Belay and the red eyed boy spun them around to see. Draco was stuck with Daphne, looking very unwilling and annoyed while Daphne chatted over her shoulder to a friend dancing beside them.
Belay led them over and broke his hold on Blaise's shoulder to offer it to Draco and sent Daphne an amused look. "May I cut in?"
Daphne smirked and released the blond to take Belay's place with Blaise. "Why of Course, my Prince!"
Belay rolled his eyes at the name and turned back to Draco smiling. The boy took his hand gratefully and grinned smugly for the first time all day. "Are you pleased now, dear Romeo?" Belay laughed into Draco's shoulder.
"Positively overflowing with joy, dear Hamlet!"
Unfortunately the song came to an end then, moving on to a more traditional dance. It was likely the only truly well put together song that the Bent Twigs had but it made up for the others played so far. The singer's voice was quiet and hypnotizing while the music seemed to soothe and cool down those on the dance floor rather than burn them up like the previous songs.
One hand on Dracos's lower back and the other locked entwined with his left hand, they swayed through the masses, peacefully floating across the Hall.
Daphne and Blaise seemed content, chatting amicably with one another about whatever it was that crossed their minds. Belay amused himself with the idea of playing cupid for a moment before decided it would be far too much work and that they were far too young to choose their life partners.
Draco pinched his side through his robes to get his attention and Belay jerked to the side with a giggle. He pushed himself up against Draco's chest and listened to his heart as it sped up. He needn't look up to know his friend was blushing as the heat radiated from his cheeks and down onto his head.
"Are you enjoying the Masquerade now, Draco?" Belay purred, unable to resist with open Draco had made himself. The blonde sputtered nonsense words until he realized he'd best shut his mouth lest he embarrass himself further. The unfamiliarity of the entire event had left Belay feeling quite tired already and he laid his head contentedly on Draco's shoulder, pleased by the way he tensed up and got all flustered again.
The song was long. It seemed to go on and on but it wasn't at all unpleasant. Draco was very comfortable, even as a standing pillow, and seemed happy to keep dancing with him, even as the number of people around them steadily decreased to half the amount as it had started with.
Belay shut his eyes and sighed into his friend's neck, causing the blond to shiver in pleasure. His mask had begun to slide higher up on his head, likely looking ridiculous, but he couldn't bring himself to care to much. He was far too loose and happy feeling to care about much of anything.
However, the song had to come to an end and as the notes faded off he stood up properly and readjusted him mask, smiling softly. Draco looked quite dazed but pleased nevertheless. A quick, sharp rhythm startled Belay out of his drowsy trance and he looked around to find people who had left at the start of the previous song returning for the next dance. A tap on his shoulder startled him and he turned his head expecting it to be Blaise or Daphne, perhaps even Neville.
But it was Zaniel Potter who had his hand extended to him with a look of determination shining through the eye socket of his mask, strawberry blond hair wavy and messy as always. "May I have this dance?" He questioned.
Draco, having snapped out of his daze, glared at him and opened his mouth to say something snide but Belay spoke before him. "Yes, why not." He sent Draco a warning look and squeezed his hip gently before letting him go.
As Draco left, reluctantly, Belay eyed his twin's costume. Elegant white half robes with shining chain mail beneath them, and gleaming silver shoulder armor…He was a Princely Knight of Magic. A Light Prince, as he was a Light Angel.
Belay next glanced to the offered hand. It was risky. He could be giving himself away right then and there, but he felt bold and strong, able to face whatever was thrown at him. He didn't understand why he had these feelings, with nothing having rightly prompted them but he was too high to do anything but let them ride their course.
He settle his hand in Zaniel's palm and shivered at the feeling his power. It was so different from his and his father's, so backwards and upside down and plain wrong. He was unafraid though, and he locked his eyes with Zaniel's and saw them narrow just the slightest bit through the eyeholes.
And they moved.
The dance was fervent and lively, downright viscous at times as Belay and Zaniel swung one another every which way, leaping, twisting and gliding across the floor. Those around them did the same, like a grand ritual. They flew as the music sped up, surprising Belay with how fast they were going.
"You haven't stumbled across any feathers as of late, have you?" Belay's heart skipped a beat and he looked at Zaniel sharply.
"No, actually. I haven't. I don't have an owl so I needn't visit the owlry, you see…" His stomach did a flip as Zaniel forcefully pulled him into a twirl.
"Are you sure? I came across a few large, black, feathers around the third floor." Belay felt cold.
"And they were much too large to belong to an owl." Zaniel was staring accusingly, coldly into his eyes and for some reason Belay found it very frightening.
"Well," he choked. "I don't know what else it could have been. Perhaps it just happened to be a very large owl that got loose…" His mind was glitching, panicking, and he was feeling dizzy. He knew what he'd said sounded ridiculous and he also knew Zaniel wouldn't believe a word he said.
"Right, perhaps." Zaniel muttered and and the song was suddenly over, on a sharp, harsh note.
A hand grabbed onto Belay's and he found himself being pulled away, Zaniel disappearing into the crowd as he was dragged off the dance floor.
He wearily turned his head around to realize the one who was leading him was in fact Daphne. She pushed him down into a chair beside Blaise who was looking at him with concern.
Belay realized he had to snap out of it, he couldn't afford to worry his friends. It was too dangerous.
Belay had to say he enjoyed himself immensely once the night was over. Though his meeting with Zaniel had not gone over as smoothly as it could have and instilled a large amount of fear in him, he had almost forgotten it once they'd been sent to bed.
It was just a shame that students below fourth year had to return to the dorms by twelve, though most were likely to be nurturing fresh cavities in their mouths and ready to crash and burn.
Others, however, trotted down the halls perkily, cradling bowls of candy that they proceeded to stuff themselves with. Others, like Draco.
Belay looked over at the blond in disgust as he popped his fourteenth chocoball, since they had returned to the tower, into his mouth. Daphne had wished them goodnight before heading down to the girls' dormitories, followed shortly by a yawning Pansy who dragged an apathetic Millicent Bulstrode by the hand. That left the three boys alone in the common room with a handful of students from different years.
Even though the boy had been adamant about being wide awake, Blaise had curled up at Belay's side and was drifting in and out of sleep, jerking every time he realized he was nodding off.
"We need to cel….celebrate Belay's birthday…" He muttered sleepily and Draco, wide awake and happily munching, agreed.
Belay merely rolled his eyes lazily pet Blaise's head causing his eyes to flutter shut. "It's not even my birthday anymore, what's the point?"
Despite saying this, he felt a tad disappointed. His father had not sent so much as a letter. Perhaps he had not performed to father's standards after all even though the tutoring sessions he's squeezed in with Draco had raised the blond's grades exponentially and the dutiful reports he'd sent home on Dumbledore's movements. It was with these less than happy thoughts that he drifted off on the cushy leather sofa of the common room, Blaise's head on his lap and Draco occupied with his bowl of sugar to his left.
The Great Hall that Sunday morning housed pitifully few students. Only the head boy and girl and a smattering of fourth years and below had managed drag themselves from their beds after a gala such as the one the night before.
Belay was amongst these numbers, though he shared the Slytherin table with no one besides Atem Kelsie, a solemn third year student who would have been better off in Ravenclaw as, even at breakfast, he always had his nose in a tome of sorts.
The Gryffindor table had a dozen or so student draped across it's surface, a sleepy-eyed Zaniel prodding his red haired friend every few moment to keep him from falling face first into his grits. He locked eyes with Belay for a moment and smiled lazily at him, a smile that Belay had no intention of acknowledging much less returning. It disturbed him, truthfully.
A lone barn owl swooped in through one of the grand windows, startling Belay as it dropped an enormous package in front of him with a thud. He fed it a piece of bacon before daring to untie the parcel from its leg.
Once freed from it's burden the barn owl took off, wings beating heavily and making Belay's curls tumble about his face. At the Head table the Headmaster watched him with sharp eyes.
Belay could not fight the smirk that forced itself upon his lips. The old man was right to watch him so carefully, however, his father was the one he should fear. That thought was pushed aside as a giddy excitement overwhelmed him. In his father's spiky scrawl was a 'Happy birthday Belay' on the package paper. There would be no letter as his father didn't trust an owl's ability to avoid interception but those three little words ignited a flame inside him.
He abandoned his plate and pattered back to the common room with his present tucked under his arm, though the end jutted out behind him as trotted down the corridors.
Blaise was where he had been all night, curled on the sofa and Draco too was huddled against an armrest with an empty bowl at his feet.
Without any concern as for waking them up, Belay threw the package down on the coffee table and proceeded to unwrap it with a much more gentle hand so he wouldn't rip his father's message. Beneath the brown wrap was a velvety case that made his heart skip a beat. Hs struggled with the latches on either end of it, finger shaky. The shape was far too unusual too be anything else, it could only be—
Lifted the lid he released a most undignified squeak of delight that sent Blaise rolling off the sofa and Draco yelping. Belay was far too happy with this new development to give them so much a glance and eyed the instrument before him.
It was a violin, the wood being a smoky dark brown and the bridge a creamy white. The strings, too, were luminescent white that seemed to glow as he tentatively plucked a note from one. The bow shared the same characteristics as it's partner and while he longed to stroke the hair, a card inside the case identified it as unicorn hair, he resisted the temptation for fear he would damage it.
"Belay," Draco started grouchily. "What the bloody—," he wasn't allowed the chance to finish as Belay zipped passed him and toward the stairs leading to the girls' dorms.
"Daphne!" He hollered. "Daphne get up already!" Near bouncing with excitement at the foot of the stairs he waited anxiously for her arrival. She appeared in her night gown looking far less pleased. Her hair was a mess and she a sleep in her narrowed eyes. "What is it?" She nearly snapped.
"You've got to teach me how to play the violin Daphne you've got to!" His bright smile seemed to shock the tiredness out of her and she started climbing the rest of the stair to the common room. "What in Morgana's name are you talking about?"
Belay dragged her by the hand over to the table and presented to her the shining new instrument. She just gaped at it for a moment before stuttered out a, "When?"
As it turned out, Belays cries had awoken most of the house, several of whom were older years who turned on him rather angrily. Of course, between the happy glow he was omitting and his thrall he made it out unscathed.
It turned out that Daphne hadn't brought her own violin to Hogwarts as her parents didn't think she would have the time to practice but, most likely due to the miserable expression that settled on Belay's face, she promised to ask if they would send it for her. He gave her a hug and a thank you before leaving her and his other friends in the common room, dazed.
The whole day seemed to be, as the muggles liked to say, filled with sunshine and daisies. Belay's smile shined brighter than any other wherever they went. Though he was loath to leave behind his present, he realized he didn't have the ability nor the proper resources to play yet so he left it locked in his trunk. He didn't trust some of the buffoons in his dorm not to destroy it merely out of dislike for him, namely Nott.
Theodore had been quiet, and it was beginning unnerve Belay as he knew that was not a word to properly describe the boy. Nott was the type to hold a grudge for as long as he could and perhaps a few years on top of that. He had no doubt he was cooking up some scheme in that rotten little mind of his, looking for allies wherever he could.
Despite Belay's outward happiness, he knew he needed to be reign in his emotions. Zaniel would be a problem soon and he needed to consult with his father about what he should do. There was no way he could just ignore the rising threat but he could not currently fight against it either. Belay could not interfere with his father's plans, it would kill him to disappoint his father, especially after having received such a marvelous gift.
That night Belay wrote a letter to his father, gushing about the violin before solemnly informing him of the new development that had occurred. He rolled up the parchment and sent it off with Peru, who had not kept how displeased he was to be forced to go out in the cold to himself. Belay silenced him with a hardy warming charm that made the snake tremble with pleasure and praises for his intelligent and kind master.
Belay prepared for bed with the hope that his father would respond quickly with a plan for what to do. As he slid under his covers and drew the drapes he remembered for first time in two months how safe it felt at home in his father's arms compared to how frightened he felt inside here at Hogwarts.
How could he not, when he was faced with two Light Angels aware of him?