171 Yule Ball: The Start

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The Ravenclaw common room looked strange, full of people wearing different colors instead of the usual mass of black. School robes could only be customized so much; as such, party robes and dresses showed each student's unique charm.

Terry Boot looked Eddie from top-down and spoke in an unconvinced tone, "I still can't work out how you got one of the best-looking girls in the year."

Eddie put his hands into the pant pockets and answered suavely, "Animal magnetism."

Marcus, who was talking to Michael Corner, turned and scoffed, "More like a bashful request."

Marcus felt a tap on his shoulder and turned to see his lovely date standing behind him. Luna Lovegood looked very pretty indeed, in robes of shocking yellow, with her blonde plait braided with white flowers, white ribbons wrapped prettily around her hands, and silver satin gloves gracing her hands. She was glowing.

"You look pretty."

"Thank you. You are looking pretty as well."

Marcus reached into his robes and pulled out a wrist corsage with three white roses and numerous faux-pearls. "This is for you. I thought it would look good with your dress."

Luna presented her wrist. Marcus understood it immediately and gently clipped it around her wrist.

The girl looked at her wrist for seconds, raised it near her face to take in the scent of roses preserved with a special potion to keep the freshness and enhance the fragrance. She looked up at Marcus with a smile in her dreamy eyes.

"Thank you, it's beautiful."

"I think it's you who makes it look even more beautiful."

By the side, Eddie, Terry, and Michael stared at the scene between the two.

Eddie clicked his tongue and commented, "Normally, he doesn't speak much but now look, he's spouting flowers out of his mouth."

"Did you bring something like that?" asked Terry.

Michael shook his head, "He's making us look bad."

Marcus and Luna joined the boys, with Luna asking, "I don't see Quinn, where's he?"

Eddie pointed towards a corner of the common room. Everyone looked towards the corner to see Quinn surrounded by a horde of Ravenclaw girls, all giggling while Quinn smiled all the way while talking with them.

"What's he doing there?" inquired Luna.

"Don't know; they were suddenly all over him," replied Eddie shrugging.

Eventually, the crowd of giggling girls dissipated, with Quinn waving them all off while making his towards them.

"Luna! Now, don't you look pretty," said Quinn with a beaming smile on his face. He looked at the guys and nodded, "Looking good, fellas, ready to party hard?"

"Do you have an after-party planned?" asked Michael.

Quinn shook his head, "No, I was a bit too busy to organize an after-party, but I can get you inside the Weasley twin's after-party; you'll just have to pay a reasonable token entry fee."

"Why don't we know about this party? How do you know that?"

"It's a very exclusive thing; they don't want just anyone to come in, but if you take my name, they'll let you in. It will be even better if you guys take your dates with you; a better gender ratio always helps."

Quinn's name held weight in the Weasley twins' world. He had a long history of cooperation with them, plus he was their future angel investor for their business.

"We should get going," said Quinn, checking his pocket watch, looking pretty happy about using it.

The entrance hall was packed with students, too, all milling around waiting for eight o'clock when the doors to the Great Hall would be thrown open. Those people who were meeting partners from different Houses were edging through the crowd, trying to find one another.

Tracey arrived the same time they did and called out to Eddie when in earshot. The slightly nervous boy turned to be stunned out of his mind as Tracey Davis, his date, walked towards him in a dress of royal blue and turquoise; she had tied her hair in a messy bun with an ornate glass hair stick.

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"Hi," she said.

"H-Hi," that was all Eddie could get out.

Quinn leaned to mutter into Marcus' ear, "It's so entertaining to see him like this. He's usually all attack; I knew he'd be weak to attacks."

"I don't think Tracey has done anything, though I see what attack you're talking about."

"I know, imagine if she did go on attack," cackled Quinn, "if Tracey wanted, she could have him wrapped around her finger by the end of the day."

A group of Slytherins came up the steps from the dungeons. Malfoy was in front; he was wearing dress robes of black velvet with a high collar, which made him look like a vicar in Quinn's opinion. Pansy Parkinson, in very frilly robes of pale pink, was clutching Malfoy's arm. Crabbe and Goyle were both wearing green; they resembled moss-colored boulders, and neither of them, Quinn wasn't surprised to see, had managed to find a partner.

Next came the group of Gryffindors with Harry Potter and his date in the lead.

"Holy moly! Is that Hermione Granger," gawked Eddie as he saw the pretty girl dressed in periwinkle robes.

"You can say that again," said Tracey in agreement, "it's like she's another person. What happened to her? What kind of magic is that."

"Meh, spoke Quinn, "it's a simple work of change of clothes and hairdo with some glamor charms accentuating everything. Hermione Granger was always pretty; she simply needed a little makeover to show that. Even without all of what we're seeing and some minute changes, she would attract eyes."

The Ravenclaw group looked at Quinn with varying gazes and expressions.

Quinn stared back at them. "What? You know me, look at me, I like to dress well. I know that kind of stuff."

"What about her then?" asked Terry Boot, his eyes stuck one person in the Gryffindor group.

Walking just behind her brother and best friend was Ivy Potter. The Potter princess was dressed in a flowing red dress long enough to float just above the ground. Her usually straight hair was lightly styled into waves, flowing down her back and brilliant green earrings matching her eyes.

Everything from her dress, hair, looks, the way she held herself looked like a fire goddess.

"Yeah, I see it now. Why so many people asked her out," spoke Michael Corner.

"She's very pretty," spoke Luna; it was also the first thing ever she had said to Ivy Potter when she delivered Quinn's letter to Hermione Granger.

While everyone was looking at Ivy Potter, Eddie was looking somewhere else; redheads weren't his types. But what he was seeing was totally in his range. He raised his hands and reached around to find Quinn's shoulder and then face.

"What are you doing, man?!" asked Quinn, swatting the offending hand away.

"Look what you missed."

"What?"

Quinn looked to where Eddie was looking and stilled as his eyes caught what Eddie was seeing.

The oak front doors were opened. Outside, he saw an area of lawn right in castle's front had been transformed into a sort of grotto full of fairy lights — meaning hundreds of actual living fairies were sitting in the rosebushes that had been conjured there and fluttering over the statues of what seemed to be Father Christmas and his reindeer.

Everyone turned to look as the Durmstrang students entered with Professor Karkaroff. Krum was at the front of the party, accompanied by his date in shimmering midnight black robes.

"You're totally missing out, mate; a Veela as a date better be worth it."

It was Daphne. Be it her blonde hair, blue eyes, or her black dress, everything was what you would call perfect, in tune with each other, creating a sort of harmony that would be absolutely stunning if put into words.

A lot of girls gazed at Daphne in unflattering disbelief. When the doors to the Great Hall opened, Krum's fan club stalked past, throwing Daphne looks of most profound loathing. Pansy Parkinson gaped at her as she walked by with Malfoy, and even he didn't seem to be able to find an insult to throw at her.

Tracey turned her gaze to Quinn and stared at his face. "Yeah, this is what I imagined. He is making the exact expression I thought he would make. Well, he's missing the dropped jaw."

"Oh yeah, no, he did just fine," Eddie spoke up, "it was a fair trade— yup, he left a diamond mine, in return, he got a platinum lode."

Once again, the crowd in the entrance hall buzzed with activity.

It was as if an angel had descended down on Hogwarts.

The Beauxbatons students were all very handsome and beautiful, but she stood on another level even among those people.

Fleur Delacour's every step seemed to light up the Hall. She was dressed in a simple silver-gray satin dress; despite that, if asked, anyone in the school, they would, with high certainty, crown Fleur as the prettiest girl in the school today — by dressing in such a simple dress, it was as if Fleur was saying that she didn't have to dress up, she could do it — effortlessly.

"Alright, people, time for me to go join my date," said Quinn with magic fixing his clothes, "I'll see you inside in a bit; until then, I hope you enjoy your evening."

"Look at him," smirked Eddie, "rearing to go to his date; he's a dawg."

Though suddenly, he felt an arm loop around his. He looked to his side and saw Tracey looking up at him with upturned eyes.

"Should we head inside?"

Eddie's smirk drained, and he could only wordlessly nod — right now, he would agree to anything Tracey would ask of him.

Quinn walked towards Fleur, who stood in the middle of the Hall as if she owned all of it.

"I guess complimenting you on your appearance would be redundant, wouldn't it?"

Fleur looked at Quinn, and for a while, she didn't say anything and simply observed Quinn. In turn, he stood there, letting her get a good look at him.

"Redundant, hmm, I wouldn't say that. Most special, especially I, like to hear compliments — especially from my date."

Quinn nodded with a bit of a smile, "That's true. Well then, Fleur — you looked unconditionally, utterly, unquestionably gorgeous."

"Thank you for the compliments," a smile bloomed on her face, "you haven't done a bad job yourself. I like you didn't go with the tailcoat like so many others; I like the suit." She pointed at the lower part of the vest. "And the pocket watch, an effect I like very much."

"You just said everything I would have wanted in a compliment today," he said before taking out a long velvet box from his robes, "and for that excellent compliment, I have a gift for you."

"Oh my, I like gifts."

Quinn opened the box with a silent snap and showed the platinum necklace with a violet teardrop-shaped jewel floating near the chain instead of hanging from it. He gently picked up the necklace from the box.

"May I?"

"Yes, you may," said Fleur turning her back to Quinn — showing to him that her dress was a backless one.

Quinn unclipped the thin chain and elegantly draped it around her neck.

"What is this gem? It's glowing faintly."

"That Fleur. . . is an alchemic crystalline material — or a crystal to be simple."

It was a similar type of alchemic crystal found in the Aquatic vault — Quinn had modified it to be clearer and have less glow, making it suitable for it to be molded into a jewel.

Fleur didn't know the rarity of the crystal around her neck, but she did know that it was beautiful.

"Thank you, Quinn, it's beautiful."

"I think it's you who makes it look even more beautiful," he said, speaking a line he had suggested to his shy friend.

"Flattery will get you everywhere, Mr. West."

"But, I'm already there, Ms. Delacour."

Then Professor McGonagall's voice called, "Champions over here, please!"

Professor McGonagall, who was wearing dress robes of red tartan and had arranged a rather ugly wreath of thistles around the brim of her hat, told them to wait on one side of the doors while everyone else went inside; they were to enter the Great Hall in procession when the rest of the students had sat down.

Fleur and Quinn were stationed at the front of the line with other champions behind them. With some time still left, Quinn decided to break the tension hanging between the eight people (champions and their dates).

"How're you guys doing? I must say all of you're looking remarkable today," he looked at all of them and shrugged, "but I'd have to say, I can see a lot of stiffness and nervousness."

Everyone shifted on their feet, shifting their eyes off of Quinn for a moment, looking at each other.

"There's no need to be nervous. The Yule Ball, in essence, is a party — a party held so that we can enjoy ourselves and have the time of our lives."

"But we've to open the dance," said Hermione, her features painted with a tinge of worry. "What if we screw up?"

"I'll not, that's for sure," said Fleur looking confident.

"Me neither," added Daphne; she looked as calm as she always did, as if today was just another day at school.

Quinn stared between the two girls and nodded before focusing back on Hermione, "You're looking at it all wrong, you know?"

"How so?" she asked.

"A good amount people in there can't dance formally at Balls — over that, there's are good chances those can dance aren't going with those who can't. . . pretty sure that a lot of the people inside will only come to the dance floor only when the Weird Sisters play something funky."

Out of the eight people here, everyone knew how to dance — enough to not embarrass them in front of everyone. But the prospect of dancing in front of everyone with all eyes fixed on them was a prospect not many were excited about.

"So, in conclusion, relax and calm down," concluded Quinn, "some say potato head and birthday suits help, but if that isn't your deal, I can always help with a bit of magic — it'll take just a little, but it'll get you through the dance. . . Any takers?"

There were none.

Once everyone else was settled in the Hall, Professor McGonagall told the champions and their partners to get in line in pairs and follow her.

"It's showtime." Quinn looked at Fleur. "Ready to impress?"

"Always," she said, taking his arm.

The champions entered, and everyone in the Great Hall applauded as they walked in and started walking up toward a large round table at the top of the Hall, where the judges were sitting.

The walls of the Hall had all been covered in sparkling silver frost, with hundreds of garlands of mistletoe and ivy crossing the starry black ceiling. The House tables had vanished; instead, about a hundred smaller, lantern-lit ones, each seating about a dozen people.

Dumbledore smiled happily as the champions approached the top table, but Karkaroff wore an expression of deep dissatisfaction as he watched Krum and Daphne draw nearer. Ludo Bagman, tonight in robes of bright purple with large yellow stars, was clapping as enthusiastically as any of the students; and Madame Maxime, who had changed her usual uniform of black satin for a flowing gown of lavender silk, was applauding them politely. But Mr. Crouch, Quinn noticed, was not there. The fifth seat at the table was occupied by Percy Weasley.

When the champions and their partners reached the table, Percy drew out the empty chair beside him, staring pointedly at Harry. Harry took the hint and sat down next to Percy, who was wearing brand-new, navy-blue dress robes and an expression of such smugness that Quinn thought it ought to be fined.

Quinn asked Fleur to walk ahead and stopped behind Percy. "Mr. Weasley, I have to say, you're looking good. How come Mr. Crouch isn't in attendance today?"

"I'm afraid to say Mr. Crouch isn't well, not well at all. Hasn't been right since the World Cup. Hardly surprising — overwork. He's not as young as he was — though still quite brilliant, of course, the mind remains as great as it ever was. But the World Cup was a fiasco for the whole Ministry, and then, Mr. Crouch suffered a huge personal shock with the sudden death of that house-elf of his, Blinky, or whatever she was called — well, as I say, he's getting on, he needs looking after, and I think he's found a definite drop in his home comforts since she left. And then we had the tournament to arrange, and the aftermath of the Cup to deal with — that revolting Skeeter woman buzzing around — no, poor man, he's having a well-earned, quiet Christmas."

"Then why are you here?" asked Harry.

"I've been promoted," from his tone, he might have been announcing his election as supreme ruler of the universe. "I'm now Mr. Crouch's personal assistant, and I'm here representing him."

"I see; I hope he gets well soon," said Quinn, "it was night talking to you, Mr. Weasley, now I have to return to my date." He shook hands with Percy, who really looked like he was enjoying himself.

Quinn walked towards his seat; it was only a few steps away, but he froze just as he saw where Fleur had seated herself.

Of the pairs, Harry & Hermione and Cedric & Cho were sitting on the edges with Krum & Daphne and Quinn & Fleur in between the two pairs. The thing that made Quinn uncomfortable was that all the girls sat on the right, with the boys sitting on their left.

"Hey," he said, sitting down beside Fleur.

Then looked to his side and greeted, "Hey, Daphne."

The Yule Ball had started.

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Quinn West - MC - Thinking if he should spike the punch.

FictionOnlyReader - Author - Yeah, right! That's what he is thinking, sure, buddy.

Marcus Belby - Calm boi - Preparation is the key to success.

Luna Lovegood - Dreamy girl - Hoping to see lots of Fairies today.

Eddie Carmichael - Suited-up - Animal magnetism! . . . A-Ah yes, Uhm, s-sure. Whatever you say.

Tracey Davis - Dressed-up - She has the legendary move, Upturned eyes in her arsenal.

Fleur Delacour - Beauxbatons Champion - Dressed-up Veela, 'nuff said.'''

Daphne Greengrass- Trained heiress - Perfect.

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