I smiled as the sounds of ‘Dancing with Myself’ floated out of the Great Hall to where I was sitting in the Clock Tower Courtyard.
It was a great song, and part of me was sorry I was missing out on the opportunity to dance along with my friends. The smile turned into a grin as I imagined Tonks dragging the reluctant Ben on to the dance floor, as the metamorphmagus had already done several times that night.
But a larger part of me was glad for the break from the music, my friends, the constant need to have a smile on my face and look as though I was having the time of my life.
It wasn’t as if I wasn’t enjoying the ball, I was – who wouldn’t love dancing to some of the best music ever with your friends and a lovely date? I winced. And there was the problem.
Barnaby was a lovely guy. Okay, not the smartest, but well-meaning. And sweet too. He just hadn’t been my first choice as Celestial Ball date…
Bill looked at me in the newly decorated Great Hall.
“Don’t think, just go with your heart. Quick, who would you most like to go to the ball with?”
I looked into his sea-green eyes and swallowed back my instinctive response of you.
Instead I looked hurriedly around at my classmates, my eyes settling on Barnaby.
“Let’s see...I wish Barnaby would ask me to the Celestial Ball.”
I wondered if it was just my imagination, but there seemed to be a bit of disappointment in Bill’s eyes when I turned back around. But it quickly disappeared.
“At least he said I looked fantastic...” I sighed as ‘Centerfold’ started playing.
I started to giggle, McGonagall had clearly given up monitoring the music and was finally letting people make requests.
“I wondered when she’d give in. Later than she did for our year.”
I turned round at the familiar voice, heart pounding loudly in my ears and silently thanked my lucky stars that Bill hadn’t turned up a couple of minutes earlier.
He was standing there, grinning at me, arms crossed his chest.
I laughed. “When did she give in for you?”
He thought for a second. “Nine I think?”
“It’s past nine?!?”
He gave me a small smile and gestured with his head towards the clock.
“It’s almost ten. Clearly been having a good time with Barnaby.”
“You make a cute couple.”
We fell silent as the song ended, and the next started: ‘Sisters are doin’ it for themselves’.
“So what are you doing out here?” We both said at the same time, before laughing.
Bill came and sat next to me on the fountain.
“Prefect duties. Making sure you and your classmates aren’t having ‘too much fun’, as it were.”
“Oh wow. That sounds enjoyable.”
“It is.” Bill’s voice was heavy with sarcasm. “I’ve found three couples already.”
My eyes widened. “No! Seriously? Who?”
“Uh-huh. My lips are sealed.”
“Billll!” I wheedled. “Please tell me!”
He laughed again. “I might tell you if you tell me why you’re out here, and not dancing up a storm inside with your date.”
I turned away from him.
“I just… needed some air, that’s all.”
“Just that, huh?”
“I saw how you reacted when Barnaby told you he’d wanted to ask you to the ball from the moment Dumbledore announced it. You immediately changed the subject.”
I remained quiet.
“I told you to just go with your heart, MC. Did you?”
I looked down at the ground. Then shook my head.
The last bars of ‘Sisters’ faded out and another song I didn’t recognise started as I felt rather than heard Bill get to his feet. It was the first slow song that had played since I left the hall.
I turned to him, surprised.
He was holding his hand out.
“May I have this dance, milady?”
I took it and allowed him to pull me to my feet.
“You may, kind sir.”
He put his hand on my waist and we started to dance around the courtyard.
I've been meaning to tell you
I've got this feelin' that won't subside
I look at you and I fantasize
You're mine tonight
Now I've got you in my sights
I was surprised by how well we danced together. When I had danced with Barnaby and even Ben earlier it had been more awkward, we had bumped into each other, laughing and apologising nervously.
He twirled me around and then drew me close to him.
“You’re one of my best friends, MC.”
“And you mine, Bill.”
We weren’t really dancing anymore, just holding each other close and swaying.
“Come on then. Tell me. Who did you really want to go with?”
I looked up at him.
Now I've got you in my sights
With these hungry eyes
Now did I take you by surprise
I need you to see
This love was meant to be
Despite the height difference our faces were so close together it was easy for him to lean down and kiss me.
His lips were soft and warm. Kissing him back was the easiest thing I'd ever done and hours could have passed as several times we broke apart just to breathe before coming back together.
Finally we stopped.
“You have no idea how long I've wanted to do that,” he whispered.
I laughed slightly, still out of breath.
“Probably as long as I've wanted to kiss you.”
He smiled at me and just as we about to start kissing again, I heard a voice call my name.
“MC? Where are you? MC?”
“Barnaby!” I hissed. “If he saw us-”
“I'll hide. He never has to know I was here.” Bill let go of me and quickly ran to the wall on the other side of the courtyard and leapt over it.
I took a moment to check my hair was still in the beautiful style Andre had helped me with earlier and I stepped into the light.
“Hey Barnaby. I'm here.”
He smiled at me and I felt the guilt bubble within me.
“Yeah, I'm fine. Just needed some air. It's hot in there.”
His face fell.
“Oh no- you should have said! I could have-”
I interrupted him gently. “I'm feeling better now. Let's go back and join the others.”
“Okay.” He held out his hand and I took it.
As he led me back into the starry Great Hall, I turned round, and saw Bill climb back over the wall.
Suddenly I blew him a kiss. He caught it and blew one back, smiling softly.