Title: Masquerade

Author's Note: I do not own Degrassi. This isn't my best story,, but I've been wanting to do an Eclare fanfiction. I hope you enjoy it! Please review.

"So…are you going to the dance?" Eli asked as he and Clare passed by one of the gaudy posters – black construction paper covered with sparkly, silver glitter and cursive, loopy, letters. Clare hated school dances. She had helped Ali pin-up all the posters just last week, and had hated every minute of it. Dances were useless, pointless. She had better things to do with her time – like curling up by the fireplace and reading a novel. Perhaps Pride and Prejudice. There's one she hadn't read in awhile. She could use a good dose of Darcy…

"Clare?"

Clare was shaken back into reality. She had almost forgotten about the dark-haired, green-eyed boy walking next to her. His shoulder blade bumped against her, drawing her attention from Fitzwilliam to Eli.

"Sorry," Clare blushed. Eli found her reddening cheeks absolutely irresistible. He longed to reach out and brush a finger against one, exciting goose bumps on her neck, her arms. Eli tried to shake the thoughts from his head.

"I asked if you were going to go to the dance tonight."

"Probably not," Clare shrugged, "I mean, I see no point in school dances. I would rather be sitting at home…"

"…with your nose in a book," Eli smiled at her, a teasing glint in his eyes, "I think it might be fun. It's a masquerade dance, you know. Secrets."

"I have a date with Fitzwilliam Darcy that I cannot miss…"

"You are such a dork," Eli rolled his eyes, growing impatient.

"Well," Clare bit her bottom lip, "are you going to go to the dance?"

"Probably not."

"And why not?" Clare asked.

"Why should I?" Eli shrugged, "Besides, I wouldn't know who to ask."

"There's always Priscilla Pettigrew," Clare whispered as they passed by her, "She's pretty."

"Eh," Eli grimaced.

"What's wrong with her?" Clare asked.

"Too…blonde."

"Yes, I have heard rumors of peroxide causing permanent damage to the brain cells."

Eli laughed, "There's always Emily Emmet."

"That's true," Clare nodded.

"But personally, I don't like red fingernails."

"What about…Danielle Daring?"

"Eh…too…preppy. Allison Andrews?"

"She's too short for you," Clare pointed out.

"True. Hmm…Brett Brillings?"

"Eww," Eli shuddered.

"Well that's mean!" Clare shot Eli a disapproving glance.

"Sorry," he chuckled, "it's just…I don't know. I don't see myself dancing with her."

"You're too picky," Clare rolled her eyes.

"Just holding out for the best, Edwards," Eli grinned.

That afternoon, after school, Clare stood in front of the full-length mirror. She was holding up the most beautiful dress she had ever owned. She had bought it awhile ago, thinking that there would be some sort of occasion for it. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. It was deep green satin that shimmered under the lights with a corset back and a sweetheart neckline. It did look good on her.

There were only a few hours before the dance. Maybe she would have time…

Eli straightened the tie that hung around his neck. It was deep green satin, that brought out the green of his eyes. He looked good when he decided to clean up. Sure, he didn't really want to go to the dance, but hell, it might be fun. Besides, maybe Clare would stand up Darcy and arrive to see him. Ha, that was a laugh.

Clare obviously didn't feel that way about him. Did she?

Clare pushed the hair from her forehead. She had chosen to clip back a portion of the curls with a pearl comb. She touched the string of pearls around her neck and smiled at herself in the mirror. Ali would be proud. She had even done her makeup! Dark eye shadow had given her eyes a smoky appearance, and her lips were pale pink. She had to admit...she did look pretty…pretty.

She grabbed the bag from her bed and headed out the door to the school. Once parked, Clare lifted the little paper mask from her bag. Ali had given it to her "just incase" she changed her mind. After situating it on her face, Clare made her way inside the gymnasium.

"Come on," Adam punched Eli in the arm, "You look fine, man."

"Thanks," Eli blushed, "I just want her to be here."

"Sure ya do," Adam nodded understandingly, "But man, she might not show. I don't want you getting' your hopes up…"

"I can't help it."

"Dude, you got it bad."

"Have you seen her?" Eli asked.

"True," Adam shrugged, "Alright, suppose Clare shows…then what's your plan?"

"Ask her to dance."

"You can't dance worth a crap."

"So?" Eli shot Adam a look, "Shut up! I'll think of something."

"You gonna kiss her?"

"No!" Eli blushed.

"So then…yes?"

"No," Eli shook his head, "I-I can't. She'd…she'd…"

"She'd what?"

"Slap me?"

"No," Adam rolled his eyes, "she wants the kiss. Trust me on that."

"Trust you?"

"Yes."

"The guy that showed up to the Masquerade dance in jeans and a t-shirt? You expect me to trust you when it comes to romance stuff?"

"Yeah," Adam hit him in the arm again, "wipe your hands on your pants, dude. You're sweating like a pig."

Eli felt nauseous. He hoped Clare would show up. He bet she would look so beautiful – even more so than she already did – dressed up. Her blue eyes would be sparkling under the dim lights. She might smile a small, shy smile, and her cheeks would turn pink. Eli felt butterflies rise in his stomach. Why did she have this effect on him?

Clare stepped through the doors and squinted under the dim lights. Her eyes were still healing from their surgery and she couldn't help but squint until they became adjusted. The gym was decorated in black and shimmery silvers and golds. Balloons floated along the top of the ceiling. She adjusted her mask and looked around, trying to recognize someone.

"Clare!" Ali shouted and bounded towards her, "You came!"

"I thought I'd check it out," Clare responded casually.

"You look beautiful!" Ali gushed, "Simply stunning! And look at your eyes! You definitely didn't just come to 'check it out!'"

"What are you talking about?" Clare asked defensively.

"He's over there."

"Who…" then Clare saw him. He was standing next to Adam. Adam, of course, hadn't bothered to dress up. He still wore those baggy old jeans and t-shirt. A baseball cap was decorating his head. Clare's eyes moved from Adam to the familiar figure next to him. Eli was wearing a black suit, white dress shirt, and green satin tie – emerald to match his eyes. It was almost the exact match to her dress as well. Clare felt her heart skip a beat.

"Go!" Ali shooed her over, "don't worry! Have fun!"

Clare felt the butterflies grow inside her stomach. She was so nervous. What would she say.

"Dude," Adam nodded towards a figure behind Eli, "I'm gonna scram for right now."

"What?"

Eli didn't get an answer. Adam disappeared into the crowds. He could feel someone walking towards him and he turned around. The figure took his breath away.

"Hey," Clare smiled shyly.

"You came."

"So did you."

"Why?" Eli asked.

"I thought I'd give it a try. Besides, Darcy was too dull for my tastes tonight," she blushed, making Eli's skin crawl with goose bumps.

"You look really pretty," he said, reaching up and tucking a loose curl behind her ear.

"Thank you," Clare smiled again.

"So…would you like to dance?"

They danced until eleven, when everyone began to scatter their separate ways and go home. Pretty soon, it practically just Clare and Eli on the floor. And the janitor who was not too happy about sweeping up glitter and streamers.

"I'm sorry," Clare said, moving out of his grasp. The music had long stopped, but they hadn't been able to let go of one another.

"For what?" Eli asked.

Their masks had been shed and he could clearly see how beautiful she was. She was radiant. Flawless.

"For keeping you from the best. You said earlier you were holding out for the best…then I showed up."

"God, Edwards," Eli laughed, "For someone who claims to be smart, you're really dumb."

"Excuse me?"

"You are the best," Eli rolled his eyes.

"Wha..?"

Eli's grip caught her off-guard. He grabbed her by the wrists and pulled her close to him.

"You heard me," he said, capturing her lips between his.