Author's Note: Please don't hurt me. I know I should be working on A Magical Garden (chapter 20 is in the works, and I am doing a mass edit, as well), but I had an idea that I absolutely had to run with. Originally, it was going to be a Jily one-shot, but then, after about two paragraphs, I realized that it had to be a ScorpiusxRose one (a combo I have not really touched yet). So, details were changed, Marlene became an OC, and everything clicked. It's a bit long, but it was not long enough to warrant a chapter-fic. I hope you enjoy it!

You know what belongs to whom, so I won't expand on that. However, I will credit the title as lyrics from "Masquerade" from The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber.


Every Face a Different Shade

"This is stupid," muttered Rose Weasley as she tied the ribbons of an elaborate wirework mask behind her head, careful not to muss the coiffure of intricate coppery curls atop her head. To her, the mask concealed little of her appearance and, therefore, defeated the purpose of a masquerade. It was a pretty thing, though, something her best friend, Lena March, had transfigured earlier that day.

"This is not stupid, Rosie," exclaimed Lena, already fully dressed in a soft pink and ivory medieval princess costume with a matching silk demi mask, a halo of small pink flowers with a flowing veil that cascaded down her back, flattering her loose golden hair and fair complexion.

It was Lena who chose Rose's costume that she was going to be wearing to the Marches' Halloween Masquerade gala. Lena's family was more well-off than even Rose's Potter cousins, and they were holding a fancy dress party (as Lena loved to call it, the old fashioned soul she was) at their only daughter's insistence. Lena wished to celebrate the approaching Halloween and their graduation some months earlier from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Everything was working out well. Lena and Rose were on a break from the Healer Academy, and with some careful coercing on her part, Rose managed to free her cousins, Al and James, from their responsibilities in the Auror department (Al was in Training, while James was already certified and on active duty).

It helped that her favorite uncle was in charge, of course. Harry Potter doted on his nieces and nephews as much as he doted on his three children, the youngest of whom, Lily, was still at school with Rose's younger brother, Hugo, in their sixth year at Hogwarts.

Everyone from their graduating class had been invited, and a great number of students one to two years older, as well. And about ninety percent of the lot had replied in the affirmative. It was the biggest social event of the year, and Lena was in her element. If not for her strong desire to help people, Lena would have been a party planner (she even played a large role in planning the wedding between her cousin, Victoire, and old friend, Teddy).

Rose, however, did not thrive in social settings. She preferred to be among close friends and family (even if said group tended to be a large one), and she was frightfully shy among strangers. She was well liked in school, as she was well liked at St. Mungo's, but she was typically quiet and reserved. The polar opposite to her best friend. If it was not for Lena boldly introducing herself at the Welcoming Feast after they were both sorted into Gryffindor, they would probably not have been as close as they were. Lena helped to bring Rose out of her shell, while Rose reined in the firecracker tendencies in Lena.

Rose stepped back to better scrutinize her appearance in the mirror. Lena chose a fairy costume in shades of rich green that complemented her coloring and flowed in waves of fabric to the floor and left her shoulders bare. Lena had dusted Rose's skin and red hair with a powder that shimmered in the soft light the sunset offered (the gala was an evening affair in the back garden, as well as the ballroom), and her light blue eyes were highlighted in greens and browns, with a little charm that lengthened her lashes and created a feathering effect. More of Lena's glitter dust covered her cheeks and shoulders. She and Lena, proving their exemplary skill in Charms and Transfiguration, created wings that matched the mask in appearance, but would not get in the way in a crowd. A person or object, rather than be hit or knocked over by the wings, would pass right through it for as long as Rose wore them. At the end of the night, when they were removed, the spell would be lifted automatically. It was a remarkable bit of spellwork, and Rose was grateful for it. When she got nervous, she often grew clumsy, and it would not do to knock over a patron or something during the gala.

The redhead sighed. "All right, fine. It is not stupid, but I can't help but be a little worried."

"What are you talking about?"

"Masquerades. Masks make people bold. I will not be held responsible if I hex someone for getting fresh with me."

"You and your social issues, Rosie." Lena rolled her chocolate brown eyes and sighed dramatically (she had a flair for theatrics). "Everything will be fine. If someone gooses you on the dance floor, laugh it off and move on. You would not want to create a scene, right?"

It was obvious in her tone that Lena knew she was right. If there was one thing that Rose Weasley hated more than anything, it was being the center of attention, and she would take pains to avoid ending up in those sorts of situations. As such, Rose said nothing in argument, and her friend laughed and clapped her hands twice in a staccato rhythm.

"New subject! What will you do when you see Scorpius tonight?" Lena waggled her eyebrows suggestively, her tone anything but innocent.

The "Scorpius" in question was Scorpius Malfoy, a friend of Rose's cousin, Albus. At school, he was a Slytherin with Al, and came from a family that could not be more different from the Potters or the Weasleys. Scorpius's family had been against Rose's during the Great Wizarding War while their fathers were in school. Ron Weasley never had anything good to say about the Malfoys, and it surprised him (as well as her Uncle Harry) when Al and the most recent Malfoy became close friends, probably as close as Ron and Harry were still. Scorpius's presence radiated arrogance and a strong sense of self. He had to live down the reputation his name brought forth. In appearance, like all the Malfoy men before him, he sported light blond hair, grey eyes, and features that one would expect to see on royalty. He was handsome, to be sure, even Rose could attest to that, but he had this tendency to get under her skin with little effort. Very little.

Suffice it to say, they did not get on well.

Rose hated his arrogance, and he hated her "prudishness" (a trait she vehemently denied possessing), and they argued about just about everything. One would have thought being in separate Houses would keep things more civil, more separate, but this sparked even more animosity between them, for their Houses were notorious rivals. Where Rose often scoffed at such things, seeing them as trivial after the war that occurred there, Scorpius would frequently set Gryffindor down. House points, Quidditch standing (They, along with Al, were on the House teams), test scores, it did not matter. If Slytherin was ahead of Gryffindor in some area, Scorpius never hesitated to make some sort of snide comment. Rose, despite her introverted character, had her pride, and would always retaliate.

Looking at Lena, Rose made a great show of taking a steadying breath. "If I encounter Malfoy, I will play nice and not curse him into next Tuesday."

"But, it's a Masquerade, Rosie," pleaded Lena. "Masquerades are romantic and thrilling!"

"You're mad, Lena."

The blonde smiled, lighting up her whole face. "As a hatter, but you love me, anyway."

Rose said nothing. Still laughing, Lena took her friend's arm and led her from the spacious bedroom.

"Come, darling, we mustn't keep our guests waiting."

Rose rolled her eyes. "Our? This is your party, sweetheart."

"Pish posh, Rose Weasley, this is as much your party as it is mine."

"Then I am a miserable hostess, as I gave no contribution to the guest list, the music repertoire, the flower arrangements, or any other detail for this soiree of yours."

"Ours."

"Yours."

Lena shrugged one delicate shoulder as they paused outside the side door to the ballroom. The guests will be using the main door, where they will come down a grand staircase to the ballroom itself. There was a second level that followed the perimeter of the room, where partygoers could watch the others dance in relative peace. "I don't care what you say, I am giving you credit nonetheless. Take it and run."

Rose laughed for the first time since arriving at the March manse earlier that afternoon. "All right, all right. I give!"

"You always see it my way."

"It is because you're a spoiled brat, and you know it."

She shrugged again and opened the door. "Not my most redeeming quality, I am sure, but it is typically overlooked because I am rich and attractive."

"Humble, too," replied Rose sardonically.

Lena laughed once more and took her place at the foot of the stairs where she would greet her guests, dragging Rose to stand beside her.


Two hours later, Rose escaped to the loo to cast a cushioning charm on her silver shoes. She could not count how many men she danced with, although she had a feeling that she was only mostly acquainted with about seven, and five of them she happened to be related to. As soon as one song was completed by the string quartet that Lena hired, Rose was passed along to a new partner before she had the opportunity to escape. She managed to dance with Al twice, for he had cut in during a particularly mortifying waltz where she was constantly being trod upon by her uncoordinated partner, and it was after that second dance that he assisted in her flight to the loo.

She checked her appearance in the mirror above the tap. Thanks to some of her mother's Sleekeazy's Hair Potion and a few (or several) sealing charms, the smooth curls still held their place atop her head, and her makeup was still in tact, although a flush brightened her cheeks from so much dancing. Thinking of the spread of foods that Lena had prepared, Rose decided that she would sneak in through the side door she and Lena had used before (which was conveniently by the refreshments) to acquire a glass of mulled wine and perhaps a Cornish pasty to calm the rumblings in her stomach.

Quietly, she wound her way through the familiar hallways around the perimeter of the ballroom, keeping her eyes alert for anyone taking advantage of the more amorous activities often enjoyed during a masquerade. Rose had to take a alternate route through Mr. March's study to avoid such a couple. She had immediately recognized her former roommate, Rachel Price, and that the boy's hair was far too dark to be that of her fiancé, Marcus.

"Masquerades," murmured Rose in exasperation to no one in particular. She did not see the appeal in snogging a perfect stranger or someone who was not her significant other (as Rachel was doing), all because of a mask. Rose was not the "snog them and forget them" sort. It did not matter than her mother would certainly disapprove of such behavior, she would not be able to deal with thinking herself a slag.

The hall outside the second door of the study was blessedly empty, and she could see her goal not five meters beyond. Holding up her skirt a few inches to keep her from tripping, she rushed to the door and slipped inside.


Scorpius Malfoy was bored, as the pretentious tastes of Lena March did not provide more than a passing distraction, and he knew that before walking through the front door that such would be the case. It was Albus Potter who convinced him to go in the first place. Well, tricked would probably be more of an apt word for what Al did. As they were both training together, they decided to split the rent of a sizable flat in London to be closer to the Ministry, yet away from their parents' homes. Lena's invitations arrived at once when Scorpius was having his weekly torture session, cleverly disguised as dinner with his parents. They often fought about the littlest things, and Scorpius was under constant scrutiny from his father. While Draco Malfoy was putting forth a valiant effort to live down his father's past transgressions, he still did not approve of the path that Scorpius had chosen for himself (the Auror department, friends with a Potter, et cetera).

As Scorpius was not at home when the invitations arrived, he could not stop Al from replying in his stead. As a man of his word, Scorpius could not avoid the party after he had, albeit unknowingly, said he would be there.

However, he refused to dress in any sort of costume. He wore his usual black dress robes in the latest fashion with his platinum hair slicked back and, since he was not a complete spoilsport, he donned a simple black demi mask. Besides, pretentious as she was, Lena March was a close friend of his, and she would hex off his ears had he arrived sans mask. Al was having more fun with it, wearing the costume of a prince. He was surprised when they arrived to see that he matched with the costume of their hostess. Scorpius knew that Al had a bit of a crush on Lena, so their coordinating attire worked as a good ice-breaker, and the pair was hardly separated over the course of the evening so far.

In fact, the only time he ever saw them apart from each other was when Al was dancing with a redheaded girl in a green fairy costume with magic wings that could be no one else but his cousin. He was surprised to find that the usual flame of ire that Rose's mere presence typically prompted never rose. That was strange. For years, just being in the same room as Rose Weasley brought out the worst in him. They bickered, fought, and outright dueled (one duel, he corrected himself) throughout their time at Hogwarts. The animosity between them was infamous, and he had a feeling that they both missed out gaining prefect due to it.

But, as he watched his best friend help his former nemesis sneak out of a side door, he felt none of the old negativity. It had been less than half a year since they graduated and gone their separate ways. He always found reasons to be otherwise engaged whenever Al invited him to a Potter-Weasley dinner, and he did well not to be injured in training so that he could avoid St. Mungo's. His thought was that, as long as they were in training, he would keep his distance. The last thing they both needed was to have some sort of blowout in front of their superiors that could ruin everything.

Scorpius stifled a laugh. When did he become so considerate of Rose Weasley's future?

He mentally shook himself. It was not for Rose's future, it was for his own. It was not consideration. It was Malfoy selfishness, simple as that.

A new feeling started to burn within him as Al joined Lena's side once more. Curiosity. Boredom and curiosity, a combination that could prove combustible, he thought wryly. Instead of following his first compulsion to follow her, he decided he would hover near to the door where she left. She would surely return the same way. The main entrance and staircase would give her too much attention, and that was something he knew she would avoid like the plague.

Her strong desire to remain invisible only made their verbal (and sometimes…once literal) sparring matches so invigorating. It did not matter if it gained an audience, Rose would never back down from him. It was refreshing to be able to shoot an icy characteristically Malfoy glare at an opponent and have them not back down.

After about twenty minutes, she reappeared and immediately grabbed a glass of mulled wine and a pasty from a tray at the refreshment table.

From up close, he noticed that she seemed to grow into herself in the months since graduation. She obviously used a potion to tame her usually wild fiery hair into sleek curls that were shimmering under the magic lights of the ballroom and piled on top of her head, exposing her long neck. Her bare shoulders also shimmered, and she seemed almost ethereal before him. Her wirework wings matched her mask and fluttered occasionally, passing through anything that crossed their path. This charm made him smirk despite himself. Rose Weasley was nothing if not clever. She was clumsy, notoriously so (despite anything she could try to say to the contrary), and such a charm could prevent any mishaps that would draw her into the limelight.

He remembered how she looked at school. Her frizzy hair was usually tied in a ponytail at the base of her neck, and she never wore more makeup than a bit of mascara. She always wore her uniform impeccably, with every piece in place, so it was interesting to see her in a new element. Her costume was corseted, he notice, and it pressed her breasts up enticingly and brought her already trim waist in so much that he could probably easily encompass it with his hands.

Where did those thoughts come from? No, Scorpius Malfoy did not think about grasping Rose Weasley's corset-clad figure.

He watched as she brought the glass to her lips and sipped delicately at her wine. She had a nice profile, and his gaze locked onto her lips when she licked a drop of wine from the corner.

Why had he never noticed how they naturally tilted up at the corners?

Scorpius gave his head a little shake to clear his thoughts away from such dangerous waters.

Before he realized what he was doing, he stepped up beside her.

"Miss Weasley."


Rose observed the ball before her. Most of the guests wore costumes, others (usually men) simply wore dress robes with a mask. She had already lost Lena to her cousin, whom her friend had a fierce crush on, so she did not seek her out. She would love to have her best friend join her family, so she left Lena for Al. He was honorable, anyway, so she knew he could be trusted with her friend's virtue.

She fought the urge to inhale a Cornish pasty, taking small bites instead. The small snack filled her right up, as she was laced tightly into a corset beneath her costume (Lena insisted), and she sipped at some mulled wine, listening to the music.

She sensed his presence before he spoke.

"Miss Weasley," said Scorpius simply. No ire, irony, or any ill feelings were present in his voice.

She decided to play it cool, not turning to look at him. "Mr. Malfoy."

"You are not surprised that I knew who you were?"

She looked at him then, meeting his grey eyes. She manage to hide her surprise when she noticed that they lacked their usual coldness in regards to her. "Malfoy, I am well aware that my mask conceals little. Besides, I believe that there are only about a half dozen redheads here, and I am the only girl. The odds were in your favor that you would guess correctly. You do not seem surprised that I recognized you, either." She felt the corner of her mouth turn up. Was she actually enjoying a conversation with Scorpius Malfoy?

"Touché," he said, taking a glass of wine from a passing House Elf. He raised it at her, "To standing out in a crowd."

Rose arched one copper eyebrow beneath her mask. "If I could blend effortlessly into a crowd, I would. Even you know that." She raised her glass, anyway, taking a sip and looking at him over the rim.

"You haven't noticed how everyone is looking at you?"

"How do you know they aren't looking at you? Or at us, for that matter?"

He laughed, and she was surprised at what the sound did to her heartbeat. "Do you think they expect us to duel again?" he asked in a stage whisper that brought a smile to her lips.

"It was one time. You would think they would have forgotten it by now."

"We nearly destroyed the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom."

"Valid point." She drank some more wine. "You still have not answered my question, you know."

"You asked a question?" he asked curiously, turning to face her once more and shooting her a smile. Since when did he smile at her?

"Yes. How do you know they are looking at me?"

"I thought I answered that when I asked about dueling."

Rose gave him a look. "You can't answer a question with another question." Was she flirting with him? It had to be the wine.

"Can't I?" Scorpius looked as though he was enjoying the conversation.

"Of course not. And stop dodging."

He looked smug. "You're actually curious, aren't you?"

Rose felt heat flow into her cheeks. Blushes were the curse of the gingers. Luckily, she had on enough makeup to hide some of it. She averted her gaze, just in case.

He laughed again, and she could practically feel it, as though it was water flowing over her skin like velvet. "All right, don't answer that. It doesn't matter, I can tell you are." She glared at him. "The reason I know is because I saw them looking at you before I came over here, not to mention that I was looking at you."

He said it so matter-of-factly that Rose's eyes shot up to his. He was watching her? How was she supposed to take that revelation?

Scorpius almost laughed at her expression as she gaped at him. He could not remember her eyes being so blue, but they were, and they were captivating. He did not intend to admit to watching her until he did. She was already flirting with him, and he was flirting back, so why not? Something happened to Rose since graduation, or something happened to him. He had no desire to goad her into arguing. The more he thought about how they used to be, he actually felt embarrassed for his part in it.

He would apologize, but it would have to come after he explained his confession. She would have it no other way. "Have you looked in a mirror recently, Rose? You've never looked lovelier."

"Oh," she said, obviously shocked. "Thank you."

They were silent for a moment before she spoke again, "You've never called me that before."

What was she talking about? "What? Lovely?"

"Well, yes, but you called me 'Rose.'"

This bird was barmy. "That is your name, right? I did not get the wrong Weasley girl, did I?"

She laughed, and it made his stomach tighten. Odd. "It's just that, in all the time we've known each other, I've always been 'Weasley,' you've always been 'Malfoy.'"

He shrugged. "Times change, as well as people."

She considered that. "This is true. We have been talking for, what, ten minutes? No one had died." She finished her wine, and the glass vanished.

"Dare we tempt fate a bit more?" he asked her boldly, finishing his own glass.

"Oh?"

"Dance with me?"

His words were obviously a question, and Rose knew it. She could refuse, and he would allow it. It was strange. Five months ago, if Scorpius Malfoy was going to ask her to dance, it would have been a command, not a question. Absently, she wondered if it was a full moon outside altering reality. Taking his proffered hand, she nodded.

She was surprised when he did not lead her onto the main dance floor, but placed her hand into the crook of his arm and led her through some French doors along the adjacent wall of the ballroom and down a second, smaller staircase into the garden. Lena made the garden like an expansion of the ballroom. Illuminated orbs levitated over a second dance floor that, at that time, was not being used (everyone opted for the warmer interior). Torches leant a little warmth to the area, and the music was just as clear as it was inside.

Rose gave him an inquisitive look. "Why out here?"

"No one can stare this way. You and I dancing together? It is sure to be a spectacle," he teased.

Rose had a feeling that there was more to it than that, but she did not push the issue. She liked that they had the area to themselves. As much as she did not want to be the center of attention, she did not want to be on the receiving end of any jealous stares from the girls in the room.

As a song started (a waltz), he took her hand and put the other on her waist. She reached down and grasped the side of her skirts, so she would not trip on the hem. Together, they moved to the music. She knew that he was required to learn all sorts of dances growing up, as his mother was known to throw large parties, and she was happy that Lena taught her on rainy days at Hogwarts. He led her around the abandoned dance floor in circles so fast that she would have been dizzy had she not been looking at his eyes. There was something in their depths that warmed Rose from the inside out, protecting her from the slight chill in the air.

It was strange, these last several minutes in the company of the boy, no, the man that had once been the bane of her very existence for years. Thinking about all of the silly arguments they had gotten into suddenly made her incredibly contrite.

She opened her mouth to speak, but he spoke first.

"Rose, I am really sorry about how much of an arse I was to you all those years. Thinking back, it was pretty stupid."

Rose laughed. It was strange how in tune with each other they were at that moment. "I was about to say the same thing."

He smirked. "That I was an arse in school?"

Her laughter died to a smile. "No. That I was. You're right, it was stupid and childish. We would have been better off ignoring each other until we got it together, don't you think? Al was forever telling me off for goading you."

This time, it was Scorpius's turn to laugh. "He would tell me the same thing!"

"Do you think he thought we would be friends had we stopped being so ridiculous?"

Scorpius turned them to the left and shook his head. "No. He just got tired of hearing us complain about each other. I think we needed to just grow up."

"Go our separate ways, as it were."

"Precisely."

The music ended then, and Rose curtsied as Scorpius bowed. She allowed him to lead her to a small bench on the far side of the garden.

You must be very good at the Auror Academy," said Rose suddenly, breaking the comfortable silence that had arose between them.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I think I have seen every Auror trainee since I started studying at St. Mungo's, and I have yet to see you. I've seen Al no fewer than four times already."

Scorpius shrugged. "I've been injured plenty of times, but nothing I couldn't handle on my own." In fact, he had become rather adept at healing charms in the process, but he was not going to tell her that.

"You shouldn't have to heal yourself, you know."

"I know that." He took a deep breath, looking straight ahead and not meeting her gaze. "I just…" He paused, and Rose suddenly felt uneasy. "I just did not think it was the smartest move to go to St. Mungo's if I did not really have to."

"What do you mean?"

He turned to her. "What if we crossed paths and started arguing about something ridiculous? I did not want to look bad in front of my superiors, and I did not think you would want to be caught arguing with a patient in front of yours."

Rose had nothing to say to that.

"Say something."

She paused before the obvious response came to her lips, "Thank you."

They were silent again. Rose tried to wrap her mind around the new dynamic forming between them.

"I was the one who convinced Uncle Harry to give the trainees the week off. And I got him to give James leave so Lena could invite everyone tonight," she confessed. She did not know why she felt she had to say it, but she thought that it should be.

Scorpius stared at her in surprise. When Potter had told them all that they were going to have a week sabbatical from their rigorous training in time for Halloween, the whole lot of them had rejoiced. He had no idea that the ginger beside him was responsible. He just thought Harry Potter was taking pity on them.

"You're kidding," he finally said incredulously.

"Guilty."

He continued to gape at her. "Thank you…"

Rose laughed again. "Oh, if you could see your face! Is training really so bad?"

"It's not bad, really, just exhausting. A holiday was something we were starting to dream about. Lots of paperwork and rigorous field training. You've seen us at St. Mungo's. You've said so, yourself."

"All but you."

"A fact I will remedy as soon as this wonderful holiday is over."

They laughed again, and Rose was again struck with how nice his laughter was. She could hardly remember ever hearing it while they were at school. Normally, they were spitting fire at each other. Even so, he was a serious sort, and was not known for same joviality so characteristic of his friends.

She had to admit, she liked this new version of things.

"I have to ask," she said, "Why did you not wear a costume?"

"Because I thought it was stupid. To be honest, I did not want to come. Al sent my R.S.V.P. while I was visiting my parents. Then, I was honor-bound to come."

"Funny you would say that. When I was getting ready, I was complaining about how stupid it was. Lena would not hear a word of it, though. You know Lena. She would have used Imperio on me if she knew she could get away with it." She sighed and shook her head, her affection for her best friend apparent. "She gives me credit as hostess, when I did nothing except talk to Uncle Harry about the Auror trainees and James. She even chose my costume. My only contribution is the charm on the wings, which was very clever, if I do say so."

Scorpius thought about his arrival with Al. Lena was waiting at the base of the stairs, greeting every guest. If she bestowed the title of "hostess" to Rose, she would have been stuck beside her. "How did you manage to escape the receiving line? I would have thought Lena would have put a Permanent Sticking Charm on you."

"She almost did," replied Rose, with laughter in her voice. "I was there, for a little while, but James arrived not too long before you and Al. He took pity on me, and insisted that I dance with him. He nearly dragged me off before Lena could stop him."

"I knew there was a reason I liked him."

"James does have a way with people," she said with a smile.

The first strands of the next song started to flow through the air. "I love this song," said Rose. "My mother has the CD and plays it all the time. It's from a Muggle movie from when Mum was a kid. I've never heard it this way before."

Instantly, Scorpius got to his feet and offered his hand, the gesture making up the offer to dance. Wordlessly, Rose agreed, taking his hand and gathering her skirt like before. The song was not the best for dancing (Lena probably chose it due to Rose's fondness for it), so they were really swaying together to the music as it swelled and diminished. WIth any other partner, it would have been dreadfully awkward.

Yet, he was not any other partner. He was Scorpius Malfoy, and this should have been dreadfully awkward. She should be so exasperated by her choice in dance partner that she would soon leave in a huff after hexing his hair away or something equally childish. As they danced together, with him standing nearly a full head taller than her (he was the tallest in their class), the arrangement could not feel more natural. She felt completely at ease, and she smiled up at him.

Once again, Scorpius was struck with the sheer insanity of their situation. Why have they not argued, yet? He had her laughing and smiling more than he had ever witnessed her do while they were in school. If he had walked into a room she was in, all he would see was her smile fading like a candle burning out. He tore his gaze from hers and looked at the clear sky above them. Stars glittered everywhere, and a nearly full moon added light to their private dance floor.

"The moon is almost full," he stated.

She looked up at the object in question and smiled. "I would not have been surprised had it been full. Do you think that once it starts waning, we will revert back to the way we were?"

Scorpius scoffed good-naturedly. "I certainly hope not, I find that I enjoy your company, Rose."

She beamed at him, then, and there was something in the light in her eyes that warmed Scorpius from the inside out. Why did he never see it before? There was a beauty in her, beneath the makeup, glitter, and hair-smoothing potions. Of course, he knew she was moderately attractive (he was not blind), but he had never been on the receiving end of one of her smiles. Her smile was almost too wide, but somehow that suited her. Everything about her face was too something. Her nose was too long, her eyes too large and too blue. She had too many freckles. But, these were the things that made her beautiful.

He must have been staring, because her blue eyes narrowed ever so slightly beneath her remarkable mask. "What's the matter?" she asked.

Scorpius did not reply, and Rose grew nervous. A silent Scorpius Malfoy was a dangerous one.

"Scorpius?" she said, her voice quavering, betraying her nerves.

The use of his first name seemed to bring him back. She realized, at that moment, as it had been earlier when he called her "Rose," this was the first time she had ever called him by anything other than his surname, or any of a host of different insulting things. Even when speaking to Lena about him (ranting was likely a more accurate word), he was always "Malfoy" or "That arrogant prat" or something of the like.

She saw his grey eyes shine like molten silver in the moonlight beneath the shadow of his mask. There was an emotion there that she did not recognize. Suddenly feeling shy, she looked away and busied herself with studying the detail on a ring he wore on his left index finger. It was a square-cut emerald, set into the mouth of a snake with it's fangs completing the setting. The snake's body created the band that wrapped around his finger twice and two small diamonds were set where the eyes would be. It was a modest piece by his family's standards, but she had never seen anything so fine in her life. Light danced within it as though created by the stone itself.

He must have noticed her staring at it, because he laughed and angled their hands so that it was more in the light. "Extravagant, isn't it? It's an heirloom, apparently, and my father gifted it to me when I graduated. It's magical, of course. Goblin-made, and it will adjust to fit anyone."

"Oh?"

"Here, I'll show you." Rose gasped in surprise when he took off the ring and slid it onto her right ring finger. The silver serpent tail slithered around it until it was a perfect fit. The stone looked huge on her slender finger, and the excess part of the tail coiled on top of her finger above her knuckle. "Extravagant, indeed," he added in a whisper.

It was the strangest feeling, standing there with Scorpius as he lightly held her hand in his as they stared at his ring on her finger. It matched her costume perfectly (which unnerved her, for some reason). Everything seemed to still around them, and she looked up at his face, startled to see him staring at her again with dark eyes like storm clouds. She felt breathless and overly warm, despite the cool October night.

"Scorpius?" she whispered.

He was undone. Looking down at her, with her lips slightly parted, eyes shining, cheeks flushed, and wearing his ring, he could not control himself anymore. He brought his head down and kissed her lightly, trying to gage her reaction. If she hexed him, he would completely deserve it. He was taking liberties he was not sure he was allowed to be taking with her. They had been practically enemies their entire time at Hogwarts, and he was kissing her the first night they were getting along? He was prepared for her to curse him purple.

Or, perhaps, the same shade of pink as Chocoball filling. That seemed more her style.

Rose froze when his lips touched hers. He was gentle, and it was a full beat before she heard Lena's voice in her head. It's a Masquerade, Rosie. Masquerades are romantic and thrilling!

This was romantic, and thrilling, and everything that Lena had promised it would be.

She did not know when she started to return the kiss, but she did with enthusiasm. He still held her hand that wore his ring, which felt heavy on her hand, yet comfortable like a warm quilt. Her other hand released the fabric of her skirt and came to rest on his shoulder, while his wrapped around her waist, pulling her against him.

Truth be told, Rose had been kissed before. She had a steady boyfriend through two years of her time at Hogwarts, although they broke things off early in their seventh year when they drifted apart. She knew that Scorpius had a bit of a reputation where girls were concerned, but she had a feeling that this kiss was as new to him as it was to her. Her body felt as though it was on fire with electricity running through her veins. Eventually he released his hold on her hand to cradle the back of her neck, holding her as he deepened the kiss.

This was a kiss unlike any other Scorpius had ever experienced. He had snogged his fair share of birds while at school or on holiday (he had a reputation, to the constant despair of his mother), but none compared to this. Usually, if he found a girl that interested him, he would snog them, probably shag them, and move on. He knew Rose had dated that git, Stebbins, up until the beginning of their seventh year, and although she believed they had parted ways amicably, Scorpius heard Stebbins complain that she did not put out enough, and he later found some gullible Hufflepuff bint that was just slaggish enough to have the tosser. Maybe he would eventually tell Rose this, but it was not important at that point in time. All that mattered was that night, at the masquerade.

When they broke apart, both panting slightly and flushing, it was just as the clock began to strike midnight. They stared at each other in silence as the chimes continued. Nervously, Rose licked her lips. "Midnight" Obviously. "Lena said we were…ah…supposed to take off our masks at midnight."

He did not reply. Never breaking eye contact, he reached behind her head and located the ribbons hidden among the still-perfect curls. Gently, he removed her mask and set it on a nearby table before removing his own.

After a moment, Scorpius broke the silence. "And, here I thought that this party was boring."

Rose giggled, and he noticed that her nose wrinkled when she did. It was endearing. Her eyes dropped again, and he was surprised to notice that she was looking at his ring again. His mind wandered, and he remembered that his father mentioned to him that it would be the ring he would give to his future fiancée. A fiancée that his mother despaired would never exist. It looked good on Rose's hand, and he imagined her wearing it more long-term.

What was he thinking? They have been getting along for, what, two hours? Three? Those were dangerous roads for his mind to wander down.

Rose wriggled the ring off her finger and held it up between them. Without a word, Scorpius replaced it onto his finger.

"What happens now?" she asked.

He smiled before planting a quick kiss onto her lips. "Anything. Everything."

Rose laughed, picking up their masks and grabbing his arm and guiding back to the rest of the party. "Why don't we start with lunch tomorrow? There is great café in London I've been dying to try."

Scorpius smiled, feeling lighter and happier than he had in a long time.

"It's a date."


Author's Note #2: There you have it. I promise to get my rear back in gear is regards to A Magical Garden.

In case you were wondering, the second song they dance to is "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic. It's a song that has a lot of meaning to me, so an orchestral version played in my head while I wrote that scene.