-Cough- fluff -cough-

Sorry, I haven't written something so fluffy for a long time. Please enjoy this Contestshipping piece; an idea that popped into my head out of nowhere while I was thinking about MapleStory. Weird, hm?

a rose at the masquerade ball

She brushed out her gown nervously, the mauve silk smoothing beneath her fingers, palms clammy, as she surveyed the ballroom.

Touching her mask gently, May fingered the gem-studded edges again, the vivid tuft of ribbons at the right side--and felt just a little confidence return. A masquerade! I have nothing to fear here. No one knows me; I know no one.

Again she glanced up around the room, watching as the dresses bloomed across the marble ballrom floor, the dancers whirling about again with their partners.

Choose an arbitrary partner? Just the prospect made her hands feel number. Would she do it right? Would she fall out of nervousness, over the hem of the gown that she now so clumsily walked in?

No one knows me,she reminded herself, taking her first tentative steps forward. Finally, her walking sped up, ever so slightly, May adjusting her mask every few seconds for the security it brought. All around her, she saw more masks, lively eyes blinking and gazing from behind each one as the dancers stepped across the floor with their partners to the beat of orchestral accompaniment.

May's feet drew her towards the food table at the edge of the room. All the partner-less people will be there, she had worked out, walking cautiously so she wouldn't trip over her gown.

While she loaded her paper dish with the food, she felt a tap on her shoulder. Turning with shock, she found herself looking straight into the green eyes of a male youth, his mouth drawn into a smile. His mask was plain, covering the top half of his face, his green hair brushed neatly back.

He looks far too familiar...

"May I have a dance?" he asked, and is voice made her heart leap--she could recognise it anywhere, even among a crowd of a thousand. One glance into his eyes said it all, whispered his name into her ears. Drew.

Suddenly more nervous than ever, heart racing madly in her chest, May feared that he recognised her, even behind her new hairdo and golden mask. But no--if he did know it was her, he wouldn't smile so kindly, so sweetly.

But she had wanted so long to see this side of him! Now she did, she only felt her heart fluttering more, her blush growing warmer. "Yes, of course," she nervously accepted his invitation, hoping her voice wasn't shaking too much. He wouldn't recognise it, she knew. She had a "common voice", according to many. Her voice sounded like a lot of other girls'.

May felt her entire face burn as he took her hand gently, and they shifted into a slow waltz, in time with the music. They were quiet for a minute or so; it made her nervous, and a little more clumsy.

"Are you nervous?" Drew suddenly asked, holding her hands tighter. She smiled slightly and shook her head, adjusting her mask again.

"So..." The question had come to May the instant she had recognised him. It was only a matter of asking it in not too conspicuous a manner. "Are you from around here? Petalburg, I mean?"

He shook his head. "I was supposed to go back to Lilycove for the Grand Festival, but I decided to stop by to find--someone."


Drew glanced down, holding her hand high while she spun awkwardly on the spot, trying not to lose her footing, and delaying his response. The music grew softer; their dance grew slow and gentle. "She's this--friend I made," he replied. "On my trabels. I have--a few things to say to her."

"What's her name?" May could feel her heartbeat rising impossibly higher, her face slowly growing warm as she listened to his words.

Could he...could he possibly...?

"I--I'd rather not say." Her heart sank, but she remained hopeful, and kept her eyes on his emerald ones, gaze never leaving. "But she was actually, secretly--quite nice. I pretended to hate her. But in fact, I--" Her gaze grew more intense, and her grip tightened just a little. The footsteps were suddenly falling into place--he made it so simple to dance! Trying not to show how much his words were catching her interest, she lowered her eyes and continued to walk.

"--I--have feelings for her." Drew fell silent, steps growing uneasy. May trid not to show how she felt--she smiled and bowed her head.

"Then tell her!" she exclaimed, her voice sounding a little pleading, she realised too late. Drew shook his head, his weakening grip telling her why this was so. You're nervous. You don't know what she'll say. I'm nervous too...

He sighed. "She had hair like yours, you know--not in the same style--and she performed so well with her Beautifly--"

"Beautifly?" May's heart was thundering now--Drew could probably hear it by now. Shaking, she continued the dance with footsteps she was already accustomed to.

Finally, the flourish of the last bar of music faded into the lively chatter of the dancers under the ambient chandelier light. Drew let go of her hands, and the two stepped apart, May unable to meet his eyes anymore.

Suddenly, a bloom of bright red petals appeared in her vision. "I'm sorry, I've got to go now--this is for being my partner tonight," he said. May took it nervously and stepped even further away, looking forward at his smile and blushing with a murmur of thanks.

"You know--you're really nice too," she replied. "I know someone like you... He's--my secret love." She looked down and said nothing.

"Then tell him about it, like you said," he replied, waving to her once more and departing. She gazed on as his back disappeared between the other dancers, and she stood there gazing at the flower, unable to stop thinking about what he had said.

The day was just fading as Drew left the changing room, his formal clothes in a paper bag in his right hand. He walked a short way into the night when a familiar figure sitting at the edge of the fountain caught his eye. Turning towards her, his heartbeat sped up--it was unmistakeably her.

Running towards May, he hid the paper bag behind his back. Hoping to surprise her, he approached from behind her, watching--

And his heart nearly stopped. She was holding a rose in her right hand, her left fingers brushing the petals gently. As his eyes widened, he let the bag fall behind him.

May turned. Instantly, she hid the flower, her eyes, too, growing wie. Drew felt his face heating. It was May all along! It was May whom I danced with, who heard everything I said--

She stood, sighing. "I guess it's no good hiding it," she said, producing the flower slowly.

"May--about what I said--"

She stepped forward, looking deep into his eyes with familiar nervousness. Now he recognised them--why hadn't he seen earlier?

"You told me to tell him," May replied with a slight, beautiful smile as the breeze rose around them. "So...I will." She laid the flower upon the fountain's edge and took his ands, eyes glimmering under the stars.

He wouldn't believe what he was feeling now, as her eyes gazed up into his, so amazingly bright, so much closer than he had ever thought he would see them. His heart was thumping, all his defences suddenly rendered inactive, as she came so close, so close...

Then he felt the world fall away and turn into the infinite windy sky around them, as she said her next words, face rested on his shoulder, arms slowly coming to encircle him.

Cliffhanger-ish. You can guess what she said after that, and what happened. I left it hanging for that purpose.