hey everyone! m back, with a new and interesting chapter...

the midnight maquerade has 4 parts... hopefully, i'll do full justice to all of them...

do tell me if i have improved in any way or tell me if i've become more boring or something... cuz i have a nagging feeling i have... ;)

the part two has eriol acting really snobby...hopefully you'll not mind...hehehe

what he does is really unlike him, but still... i felt like it!

The Midnight Masquerade: part 2

Tomoyo raced to the classroom, her long dark hair fanning behind her as she did. She stopped and opened the door and regained her clam composure with ease.

She started walking over to Sakura's desk; aware of the many eyes on her but her firm gait was suddenly interrupted by the school story teller, Takashi Yamazaki.

"Ohayo, Daidouji-san! You seem to be in a great hurry!" said Yamazaki, smiling, his eyes half-closed.

Tomoyo smiled, somewhat impatient and replied, "Ohayo to you as well, Yamazaki-san. I was looking for-"

"Tomoyo-chan! There you are! How are you?" asked Rika worriedly, sizing her up.

Tomoyo suddenly felt a rush of overwhelming gratefulness; her friends still stood by her side.

"So Daidouji-san, how did you manage to-" began Yamazaki and Tomoyo sweat-dropped.

She said that a little too quickly, didn't she?

"I did not do it Yamazaki-san," replied Tomoyo firmly. "Now, will you please excuse me? I wish to speak to Sakura-chan!"

"Calm down, I was just kidding. So, did you hear the work of the Mysterious Masked Man in school?" he asked her, suddenly interested.

"Are you spewing one of your lame lies again?" asked Chiharu, grabbing her mallet.

"No, No! I swear, I'm telling you the truth! Save me Daidouji-san," said Yamazaki, hiding behind Tomoyo.

Tomoyo grinned mischeviously and said, "I have heard about the incidents in school, but no one said anything about a masked man," she replied.

Chiharu then proceeded to whack Yamazaki with her mallet, screaming, "Lies! Lies!" While the entire class sweat-dropped.

Breathing hard, Chiharu walked off, her head in the air and Yamazaki fell to the ground in a heap.

Li poked him with a ruler while muttering, dryly, "I wonder if he'll live."

Tomoyo turned to see Sakura when she heard a loud scream. Frightened, Tomoyo turned around and caught sight of a brown-haired ball, speeding towards her.

She braced herself for the impact, and within seconds, the brown-haired tornado had flung its arms around her and to her great amazement, burst into tears.

Worried, Tomoyo placed her hands on the girl's shoulder and said, "Naoko-chan, what's wrong?"

Naoko Yanagizawa looked up, tears running down her cheeks. Her glasses hung, lopsided, from one ear and her head band seemed to have vanished.

"Tomoyo-chan….my career…it's ruined. I'll never be a writer… I'll never be able to prove myself…I'll spend my time as a ruffian…I'll have to join some foolish biking club… I'll earn my livelihood by begging on the streets…nobody will marry me…..oh Tomoyo-chan!!" yelled Naoko, straight in Tomoyo's ears.

Tomoyo flinched. She did not know that soft spoken and shy Naoko-chan could be so dramatic and loud.

She wiped the distraught girl's tears with her handkerchief and said, firmly, "now, now Naoko-chan. You're just jumping to conclusions. Tell me what's wrong."

Trembling, Naoko embarked on her narrative:

"I have been writing this really good play… as president of the drama club, I had to get some good ideas, and so, one thing led to the other and I started writing it. (Sob)….. Everyone loved it and so, we decided to enact it for the school festival… I had finished about 7 scenes and since I had a lot to carry home that day, I kept the sheaf of papers in the school cupboard… (Sniff)… today, when I came back to get them, they were gone! (Sob) I even checked the waste paper basket…and you know what I found? This!"

With a great wail, she emptied thousands of tiny charred scraps of paper in Tomoyo's lap. Tomoyo examined them closely. Yes, there was no mistaking it. The untidy and hasty scrawl was Naoko's writing.

A tense silence hung as Tomoyo realized that the whole class had been listening.

Ignoring them, she continued, "Someone told me that a lot of funny incidents have been going on in school. Have you heard of any?"

"Yes... you know Ray Tachibana?" said Chiharu in a hushed sort of voice.

"The famous athlete? Yes," replied Rika, surprised.

"Well, she owns these really expensive and cool pair of shoes. She claims that they are really lucky for her and always wears them to every track meet," continued Chiharu as the whole class listened attentively.

"But on Monday, when she opened her shoe-locker, guess what she found?" asked Yamazaki breathlessly.

"Her shoes were smeared with tar!" cried Chiharu and Yamazaki in unison.

"I think its sabotage. Some fool is just jealous of her," added a guy while several people nodded in agreement.

Tomoyo couldn't help thinking, 'first dash, and now a stupid pair of shoes.'

"Then the honor student, Yukiko Ikeda? Her entire hard work of a whole term had been wiped off from the school computer she had been working on!" exclaimed Naoko, wiping her eyes.

"Didn't she have a backup CD?" asked Tomoyo, her eyes wide in horror.

"Yes, she did. But it's missing as well," replied Chiharu while several people lapsed into an uncomfortable silence.

Tomoyo glanced at Sakura to see her reaction, but she was surprised to see that she was not participating in the conversation at all.

She seemed to be engrossed in a reading something and her eyes never snapped up from her desk.

That was odd. Sakura never really enjoyed reading that much!

Yamazaki, who for once looked quite serious, said, "I think they are or he/she is targeting only successful students."

At this point, Naoko tearfully interrupted, "but why me? I am just a silly sophomore... I may-be president of the drama club, but there are a lot of better writers-"

"You're underestimating yourself, Naoko-chan. You aren't just a writer or a playwright, you are the best the school has ever seen," said Tomoyo warmly while several people smiled.

"This reminds me of the reign of the famous Egyptian Queen Hathor Neit Sekhet Ra. She-" began Yamazaki cheerfully while Chiharu started mumbling, "lies! Lies!" under her breath, advancing towards Yamazaki slowly.

Yamazaki remained blissfully unaware of the dangerous black and red aura of his girlfriend, who was now clutching a mallet the size of a small steam roller.

"Her reign was terrorized by the local thieves. They played silly pranks. I even heard one of them managed to tip a solid sandstone block on her djinni, who was engaged in building a tomb, you know, as in, pyramid, for her deceased husband, thus incurring her wrath- OOOOOOOUCH!!" he yelled as Chiharu smacked him harder, her eyes decidedly dangerous.

Tomoyo sweat-dropped and excusing herself, went to speak to Sakura.

Walking swiftly to Sakura's desk, she said, "Sakura-chan, have you seen Hiiragizawa-kun?"

And that's when it struck her. No, hit her really hard.

Sakura had been crying. Her lovely green eyes were now red ad her nose was a deep red too. Her bottom lip was quivering and she looked at Tomoyo with her red rimmed eyes.

"Sakura-chan, what's wrong?" asked Tomoyo, quite in despair to see her best friend in tears.

"It's nothing, Tomoyo-chan. Nothing at all," replied Sakura, trying to sound cheerful, but failing miserably.

"It's Li-kun, isn't it?" asked Tomoyo sadly. She wished her friend would stop this childish squabble and make up with her boyfriend already.

"Sakura-chan, I feel I am responsible for your fight. Please don't do this. Li-kun loves you so much," said Tomoyo, patting her friend's hand.

"He doesn't Tomoyo-chan! He doesn't love me anymore!" yelled Sakura, tears falling down her cheeks as she ran out of the classroom.

The class became quiet and stared at Tomoyo.

Without a backward glance at the students who were now muttering under their breaths about her, Tomoyo ran out of the classroom and followed her friend.

She went inside the Girls' Washroom and found Sakura huddled on a toilet seat, tears dripping from her face.

"Sakura-chan, please, what's wrong? Do tell me what happened," said Tomoyo gently as she knocked on the door.

"Please Tomoyo-chan, I don't want to talk about it," cried Sakura from the other side, tears streaming down her face.

"But if you don't tell me, you'll have it all inside you and then, you'll be even more sad, "said Tomoyo gently, as though trying to convince a third grader.

Silence greeetd her reasoning and Tomoyo waited, her hand clutching her heart.

The door opened slowly and Sakura came out, her eyes an eddy of emotion.

Wordlessly, Sakura flung her arms around Tomoyo's neck and began to cry silently. Tomoyo patted her back and whispered soft comforting words into her ear.

Tomoyo looked at her friend and remembered the time when she had lost her voice. Sakura was in despair, just as she was now, and had felt responsible for Tomoyo's plight. But Tomoyo had assured her that she was alright and had told her that she had faith in Sakura and that she would catch the Song Card and would restore her voice.

"Tomoyo-chan…mmff… Syaoran-kun…he….Oh, Tomoyo-chan!" exclaimed Sakura, crying harder. When she finally stopped crying, she looked up at her best friend and said, stuttering occasionally, "Tomoyo-chan…Syaoran-kun…he never loved me. Today…I saw him…at break time…he was with Kumiko-san. And they were…Oh, Tomoyo-chan, Syaoran was hugging her!"

Tomoyo listened to her narrative attentively and could only stop herself from exclaiming in horror at the end by covering her mouth with her hand.

Leaning against the cistern, Sakura smiled in a sad manner and said, "Tomoyo-chan, I made such a big mistake, didn't I? I am a real baka."

At this point, Tomoyo grabbed her hand and said, "I'm sure there is a big misunderstanding, Sakura-chan. I know Li-kun…He loves you! There has to be a logical explanation-"

The bell rang, interrupting her speech. Sakura looked up and said, in a dull sort of way, "There goes the bell." Mustering some enthusiasm, she continued brightly, "Tomoyo-chan, we have a free period next, don't we? You said you were looking for Eriol-kun. I guess you should go and find him. Today is the only day you are free from detention, right? I'm glad sensei Takumi didn't come to school today."

Tomoyo looked at her and replied, firmly, "There is absolutely NO way I'm leaving you like this."

Sakura smiled softly and continued, "Don't worry, I'll be fine. I want to speak to Chiharu-chan."

Tomoyo was hoping she would say 'Syaoran-kun' but she said nothing. So Tomoyo left, very hesitantly, looking at the forlorn figure of Sakura as she made her way to class.

Tomoyo ran to the music room, only to find it empty. Shaking her head, she ran back to class to find Li sitting alone. He looked miserable beyond compare.

Tomoyo's heart sank. She felt sorry for her friend, but seeing Sakura's violent head shakes and murmured 'Nos', she went out quietly.

She arrived near the big oak tree on the school ground and sat down, underneath it, panting.

"Just like Hiiragizawa to vanish when you need him the most!" she exclaimed aloud, angry and frustrated.

"Looking for me, Daidouji-san?" called a sneering, nonchalant voice, somewhere from above.

Tomoyo looked up and saw Eriol sitting comfortably on a huge branch, hidden from passersby by a huge bough. She had a sneaking suspicion that the tree bough was not natural, but the outcome of magic, but she did not voice her opinion. His satchel hung from a small branch.

'Has he even entered class today?' she wondered, staring at him.

"I have been looking for you since a very long time. What are you doing up there?" asked Tomoyo, narrowing her eyes because of the sunlight that obstructed her vision. She could not see his eyes as his glasses were flashing in the hot noon sun.

Eriol did not reply. He pretended to be deeply immersed in a leaf and twirled it with his long fingers, examining it minutely.

Tomoyo lost her temper. "Hey! I'm talking to YOU, you know!" she yelled. He looked at her and then looked away, as though not interested. He smirked when he saw her gradually reddening face.

Tomoyo hoisted herself on a stooping branch and tried to climb up, but she slipped. Luckily, Eriol grabbed hold of her hand just in time and pulled her up with ease, murmuring something which suspiciously sounded like, "foolish girl" under his breath.

Tomoyo lay sprawled, on a somewhat flustered and irritated magician. She got off and said, brushing her skirt, "serves you right. Well, I wanted to talk to you about the prank someone played on sensei Takumi."

"You mean you wanted to talk to me about yourself," smirked Eriol. He liked to see her get angry.

"No! I did not do it! Anyway, are you or are you not going to help me in my plan?" she asked him, looking straight into his deep blue eyes.

Eriol stared back and said, "Daidouji-san, haven't you done enough already? This would worsen the situation. I am sorry, I am conscious of my reputation in school being president of the student council, unlike you."

"Hiiragizawa-kun, you don't understand! This IS about your reputation! My reputation! Our reputation!" she said enthusiastically.

"I am sorry. I don't wish to be a part of your crazy schemes anymore, Daidouji-san. I have witnessed enough to know what drastic results they have," he added, jumping off the tree easily. "I suggest you stop all this. It is not befitting a girl like you."

"Was that a compliment?" she asked, slightly amused.

Eriol shook his head and replied coldly, "No. A warning."

And without a backward glance, the enigmatic Eriol Hiiragizawa ran towards his classroom.

Tomoyo decided to get off the tree. She had history class and they were learning about the Renaissance that took place in Europe. She had already missed enough because of detention and did not want to miss anymore classes.

The ground seemed suddenly very far away. Tomoyo clutched the branch tightly, scared.

"Oh no! How will I get down! Hiiragizawa! This was all a part of your plan, wasn't it? You know I'm scared of heights!" she screamed angrily. But Eriol was already gone.

The shrill yell was heard by Sakura, who had joined Eriol and they were heading for history together.

Sakura heard the scream and said, "Eriol-kun! Do you think someone's in trouble?"

"Oh no. I think it was just a cat or something," replied Eriol.

But Sakura missed the evil smirk on his lips. As the yells became fainter, Eriol could only smile and cackle in glee.

She was going to pay for what she had done. Big time.

did you like it? eriol can be so mean! but i still love him... (sighs dreamily) oh yeah, the Queen Yamazaki spoke about is all the names of Egyptian Goddessses combined into one...(most of them...hehehe) the idea just came to my head when i was reading Bartimaeus Trilogy...awesome...i highly recommend it!