Author's Note: Just ignore everything that doesn't make sense, like the millions of Americanisms. This is really just me having fun with description, resulting from a moment of insanity/inspiration. For me, insanity and inspiration are basically the same thing.


James was adjusting his domino mask. The Marauders had devised a way of charming it so that it allowed him to see without his glasses, but the charm wasn't perfect, and consequently James fidgeted constantly with the hourglass-shaped piece of black fabric.

"Which one's Lily?" he asked nervously, patting at his wide white collar.

Sirius nodded towards her. "She's the one with the red hair waving at you."

James had moved on to fiddling with his puffy sleeves. "How do I look?"

"Exactly the same as you did when you last looked in the mirror. Now go dance with her." Sirius planted his hands on James's back and gave his friend a shove in the right direction. Stumbling only once on his heavy boots, James recovered, stood up straighter, and swaggered off towards Lily Evans.

Lily was exquisitely attired as a storybook princess, complete with a dress the precise shade of blushing pink seen in new rosebuds. The pure white bodice was laced up with gold, designs of which also accented her slit sleeves, and slippers of the same color peeked out from beneath the voluminous folds of her skirt. A tall, conical hat perched atop her copper ringlets, and from its peak there trailed a swathe of white gauze. In lieu of a mask, a delicate light pink veil seemed almost to float ethereally over her eyes, secured by a thin gold chain attached to her hat. Sirius could only faintly detect her eyes through it, but no veil in the world could have concealed her grin upon seeing James.

James swept his hat, complete with its overflowing white feather, from his head and bowed low. "Milady," he greeted Lily.

"That's adorable!" Lily laughed. "Which Musketeer are you?"

"I haven't the faintest idea, Milady," James answered.

"He's Porthos," Remus explained obligingly. "Sirius is Athos, I'm Aramis, and Peter's D'Artagnan."

Lily grinned wider. "I'm afraid no one but you will know the difference," she noted.

Remus grinned back. "Probably not," he agreed.

"Would you honor me with this dance, Milady?" James inquired, holding a hand out to her.

A pretty blush settled in Lily's cheeks. "Of course," she replied, placing her hand in his.

As James led her off to the dance floor, Sirius surveyed the crowd again. He saw Dumbledore—dressed in tattered gray robes, a pointed hat perched upon his unkempt hair, a wooden staff in one hand—talking to McGonagall, who had begrudgingly placed a headband decked with triangular cat's ears on her head and pinned a matching tail to her skirt. (It looked like she had had a bit of fun, however—some small enchantment made the tail flick absently of its own accord like a real feline's.) Slughorn, who was conversing jovially with a tall boy dressed like Robin Hood, had donned the chain mail, tabard, and helm of a knight. (Sirius attributed at least some of the joviality to the prominent glass of punch in the Potions Master's hand.) A Ravenclaw Seventh Year, Robin Goodfellow, had somehow bewitched himself such that his bones shone through his skin with an eerie bluish luminescence, making him look like a skeleton. To accentuate the effect, Robin was wearing little more than a pair of white boxer shorts. Sirius smirked to himself. The kid had guts and brains.

It seemed that just about everyone had turned out for the Masquerade. Wandering the room admiring the different costumes, Sirius found vampires and tavern wenches; butterflies and ogres; pirates and ninjas; angels and demons; jesters and adventurers; and a few ironically overstated witches and wizards. There was one girl dressed as a flower who had enchanted a few golden bees with gossamer wings to hover around her head. He even thought he caught a glimpse of one Severus Snape dressed all in black. Perhaps, Sirius thought, Severus was supposed to be a shadow.

And yet, as delightful as the costumes were, Sirius felt as if something was severely lacking. Loitering listlessly by the refreshments table, Sirius swilled his punch in his cup and watched, the edges of his mask impinging slightly on his vision, as a short girl with blonde hair in a ballerina's leotard, tights, and tutu sidled up to Peter and struck up a conversation. Moments later, as an abandoned Remus eyed the boisterous crowd with some anxiety, a girl with dark hair and long eyelashes visible even despite her white mask moved over near him. To match her mask she wore a pale green Southern belle's dress adorned with white lace, as well as a green bonnet tied under her chin in a tremendous bow of dark green ribbon. In one hand she carried a white parasol, and with the other she toyed with her long hair, and from nothing more than the look on Remus's face, it was clear that he was broaching the subject of that Gone with the Wind book he liked so much.

Shortly Sirius realized what was missing: everyone else was dancing with someone. That was to say, everyone but him.

He felt an embarrassed flush rising in his face and ducked low so that the broad brim of his musketeer hat might cover it. Setting his glass of punch down on the long table, he darted through a sparsely-populated area of the room and slipped outside onto the balcony.

It was easier to breathe out here, without the stifling presence of all the babbling students, and a whispery breeze cooled the heat in his cheeks and plucked playfully at his hair. The silver moonlight pouring down from above and the golden candlelight spilling out from the ballroom melted together on the elegant stones of the terrace, and Sirius leaned against the marble balustrade and looked out over the trees. Restlessly the wind hissed through needles and rattled at senescent leaves. Faintly Sirius smiled.

"Nice, isn't it?" someone asked.

Sirius turned, unsure whether or not he should reach for his wand. To his surprise, he discovered that the newcomer was a tall, slender girl dressed in sapphire blue. The shining dress was tight around her torso but burgeoned outward in the skirt, and at the back was a bustle of an emerald green, attached to which there hung a dozen glimmering peacock feathers. Her mask was fit for Mardi Gras: the body of it was blue with shining sequins of the same color, and from the top edge there sprouted a few shorter peacock feathers bolstered with smaller blue and black plumes. Through the holes of the mask Sirius saw startlingly vibrant green eyes, at the edges of which the girl had embellished her makeup by adding swirls of silver glitter at the corners of her eyes and eyeshadow to match. More silver glinted in her thick eyelashes like ore in a mineshaft. The silver gloves concealing her delicate fingers reached almost all the way to her elbows. The dress's neck was wide, almost sloping off of her shoulders completely, such that her hair draped in loose golden curls over bare skin.

"You know, of course," Sirius remarked, "that peacocks are male."

Strawberry lips curled. "Yes," the girl replied, "but if I'd wanted to be a peahen, I would have to have been all in brown, and that wouldn't have had quite the same effect."

Sirius smirked. "Conceded."

"Conceited?" the girl asked airily, turning his agreement into a pun. "Why, yes, I've heard you are." Again she smiled, and her eyes danced like dervishes. "That's all right. I don't mind a little bit of arrogance, Sirius Black."

"Don't you?" Sirius inquired. He stepped forward to her and touched his index finger to the flawless line of her jaw. "I find that somewhat hard to believe."

A grin parted the girl's lips. "Believe it," she said. Without further ado, she pushed herself onto her toes and pressed her mouth to his.

She smelled like red rose petals showered on the spotless white sheets of a soft, expansive bed; like an open field of wildflowers after a rain; like waking up in the morning with the sun sneaking through the window to bathe the motes of dust meandering lazily through the air and transmute them into flakes of gold. She tasted like childlike wonder.

Sirius gazed at her in disoriented disbelief when they broke apart. She twirled a finger in his hair before tucking the lock behind his ear.

"What's your name?" he managed to say.

She raised her deep green eyes to his, searching his face as if seeking treasure beneath his skin, as if the secrets of his heart were transcribed onto his face for her to read at her leisure. And perhaps, with eyes like those, they were.

"My name," she whispered in a voice like rustling silk, "is Jo."


"Jo Mama."

Sirius blinked. The girl took that opportunity to spin around, snatch up her skirts, and dash back into the party, shaking with laughter that sounded like bells pealing at sunset.

To his chagrin and vague distaste, Sirius never figured out just who Jo Mama really was.

Author's Note: Want to know who she is? Yes? Too bad. I have no clue.

And as far as I'm concerned, the girl dressed up as Scarlett O'Hara is actually a time-traveling Tonks in disguise. Just so you know.