The Yule Ball was a night of festivities. The atmosphere in the Great Hall was happy. Inside those walls there was nothing in the world that could harm them. Three schools were coming together in the most beautiful way through dance and music. The Veelas from Beauxbatons impressed many with their skills in ballet when an appropriate song was played; Minerva McGonagall watched them dance gracefully from the corner of her eye and was lost in the memories of performing similar moves in her youth.
The Ball was a special night for many couples too - old and new. The 7th year students would be finishing their studies at Hogwarts in the following spring and graduating from the most magical school of their lives. The dance was a perfect way to send them off to bigger things. Some graduating couples had their future set in stone while some younger students were just discovering their feelings (and they were glad that they had a few more years left at Hogwarts to study them and find themselves).
The students, however, were not the only ones enjoying the Yule Ball. The teachers were also having fun. Even Severus Snape, the gloomiest man known to humankind, looked a little less morose than usual. Filius Flitwick had helped himself to a few Firewhiskeys, and then a few more, until every other word of his conversation with Professor Pomona Sprout was accompanied by a hiccup. She couldn't help but laugh kindly.
So according to most people, the Yule Ball was a great success filled with nothing but joy. Not all people agreed. Parvati Patil was one of those who were having a less magical night. She and her sister, Padma, were asked to the dance by no less than The Boy Who Lived, Harry Potter himself, and his best friend and bravest companion, Ron Weasley. Asking them to the Ball so that they wouldn't be left dateless was almost obvious, but the girls had accepted nonetheless. Now that they were late into the night and both their dates were gone, Parvati found herself gazing at the person she really wanted to go with.
Lavender Brown was the belle of the ball, whether she knew it or not. She was dressed in a beautiful, long-sleeve dress of bright yellow fabric. Her hair was on a braid, falling down on the side of her face. Parvati admired her from afar. She and Lavender had been best friends since their first year at Hogwarts. Now it had blossomed into something more. Well, on Parvati's side anyway. She would've given anything to have one dance with her; maybe share a kiss in the pale silver light of the Great Hall. Those things were so far from her reach. Lavender did not reciprocate Parvati's feelings ("You don't know that, honey," Padma had said when they discussed the subject) and had arrived to the ball as some friend's - a boy whose name she didn't even bother to remember - date.
"Parvati, please, just go up to her and ask her to dance with you," Padma whined from her side as they sat on a long bench together, watching the dancing people scattered around them, "I hate seeing you so sad, my heart hurts."
Parvati sighed, "I can't, I'm sorry Padma. I want to but nothing good would come out of it."
Just then Seamus Finnigan waltzed up to the two sisters with Dean Thomas in tow. Both of them were glowing with happiness. Parvati envied them so much that she felt like her chest would combust any second.
"What's gotten you two so grey tonight?" Seamus asked.
"Ron and Harry ditched us. I'm doing okay but Parvati is drooling over Lavender." Padma explained.
"I am not drool - "
"Ah, the agony of loving someone from afar. Truly tragic." Seamus exclaimed dramatically. Dean chuckled and glanced at him with adoring eyes.
"Do you have anything useful to say?" Parvati asked.
"Yes, as a matter of fact, I do," Seamus pulled her up from her seat and placed himself behind her so he could see Lavender almost in the way she saw her.
(Seeing Lavender exactly in the way Parvati saw her, as the most gorgeous girl in the room, was impossible. Even Parvati herself was struggling to describe her.)
"You are going to walk across this room and kiss her on the mouth and then you'll dance the best waltz this castle has seen since Godric Gryffindor's time!" Seamus said.
"Are you crazy?" Parvati asked, her eyes wide in terror.
"Yes," commented Dean, "but it's the best part of him. You should trust him."
"I know it doesn't sound like the best plan, but look what I've gotten out of shooting my shot," Seamus released Parvati and grabbed Dean's hand. Suddenly they were lost in each other's eyes. Padma watched her sister and saw how badly she wanted what they had, how badly she wanted to shoot her shot with Lavender, but didn't know how and was too scared to even try.
"I got to attend this ball with my boyfriend. Isn't that the most amazing thing ever?" Dean asked Parvati dreamily, but his eyes were entirely on Seamus. He had a feeling that he'd have this silly boy in his life for a long time.
"I'm so happy for you guys, I really am, but Lavender and I could never have what you have. It isn't meant to be," Parvati felt a lump in her throat as she said this, "I should just leave."
Parvati began to leave the Great Hall. Seamus and Padma ran after her and dragged her back.
"Come back here, you! We are Patils, we don't back up from a challenge. What did mama teach us?" Padma asked. Parvati's eyes softened.
"That we should stay true to ourselves and follow our hearts."
Parvati hugged Padma tightly. Her sister always knew what to say. On some days it felt like she was the only one in the world who believed in her and knew her soul through and through; almost like they shared it. Parvati turned back to Lavender's direction. She was chatting with her friends and smiling like the sun. Occasionally McGonagall joined in to their conversation. She was known to be tender with her students (but wouldn't hesitate to punish them for wrongdoings).
"Go. There." Seamus said. He pushed Parvati forward. Her heart started racing as fast as the horses who she had seen bring the students of Beauxbatons to Hogwarts.
"I - okay - I'm just gonna - "
She started to go forward. Every step she took closer to Lavender felt like she was walking in cement. She'd probably faint before she got halfway through the room.
"Go on, Parvati," Dean nudged her a little. Parvati walked a bit more, her heart thumping in her ears. She was making progress now. Some couples and friends danced past her as some random guitar song started to play in the background.
"I can't I can't I can't I can't - " Parvati was rambling now. Seamus slapped his hands over his face.
"MERLIN'S BEARD PARVATI, JUST GET OVER THERE AND KISS HER!"
Parvati froze in her place. The music got quieter. Everyone in the Great Hall turned their heads to Parvati now. Seamus was smirking widely; he knew exactly what he was doing. Padma had her hands over her beating heart. Parvati felt like she couldn't move. She only knew two things: Lavender was staring into her soul and oh, oh she would kill Seamus after this painfully awkward moment ended - if it ever did.
The person to break the silence was McGonagall. She walked up to Parvati slowly, making sure to click her low heels on the floor as she passed. When she got to Parvati's side, she broke into the most supportive smile.
"I'm aware that this isn't one of my most preferred sayings, but you should heed Mr. Finnigan's word, Miss Patil. There's a girl over there who wants to spend the rest of this ball with you more than you know."
Parvati's jaw dropped. She got a sudden burst of determination (or terror, if she knew any better). She continued to walk towards Lavender and swore she could hear McGonagall whisper to her, "I'll give each of you 10 points after the Ball."
Parvati let out a quiet giggle and then marched the rest of the way to Lavender. Wasting no time, she pulled her into a kiss. The Great Hall erupted into cheers. Seamus howled with excitement. Minerva beamed. Lavender lifted her hands up to Parvati's face and pulled back slowly.
"What was that?" she breathed softly, brushing a few strands of hair behind Parvati's ear.
"I'm sorry - " she went to apologize, but Lavender silenced her with a second kiss.
"What was it, Parvati?"
Parvati smiled, "The start of something really, really great, it would seem."
"I was waiting." Lavender smirked.
"Hey! In my defence, I was about to take a poo in the middle of this hall, that's how terrified I was. Speaking of terror, I need to hunt down Seamus Finnigan and - "
"Parvati," Lavender said her name in a way that melted her heart, "We have him to thank."
Parvati looked into her eyes for a moment, taking in all the beauty that was in front of her. She let out a deep sigh.
"Just to make sure - uh, you do feel the same way, right?"
Lavender laughed - and it sounded like summertime and bluebells and songbirds and it was the most enchanting sound in the world, one that Parvati would hear for the rest of her life if it depended on her, one that she had heard many times through the years even though it was hard to believe. It had always been beautiful, but loving her in a new way made it sound flawless - and leaned her forehead against Parvati's.
"Yes, I do. Just… just kiss me, would you?"
Parvati's heart felt warm - "I'd be happy to oblige." - and it was bliss.