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30 October 2010 @ 11:58 pm
White Collar Fic: Masquerade and Minuet  
Written for melissima's 2010 Halloween Challenge
Posted to whitecollarfic


Title: Masquerade and Minuet
Pairing/Characters: Peter/Elizabeth, Diana/Christie, June, Neal
Rating: PG13
Spoilers: Pilot, Out of the Box
Summary: June throws a spectacular costume ball for Halloween
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ


"Uh, Honey?" Peter looked up from where Elizabeth had just answered the door to a courier and realized, with a start, that the courier was dressed in fancy period costume topped by an elaborate long-haired wig loaded with perfectly coiffed curls. He blinked a few times and rose to join her as the man bowed deeply and proffered an ornately engraved envelope on a silver platter.

"I am sent by the Duchess of Byron, the Lady June. She requests the honor of your presence at her annual Masquerade Ball."

Elizabeth and Peter exchanged a look as she slid the envelope off the platter.

"Give our regards to her ladyship," Peter responded, almost mock formally, causing Elizabeth to titter behind her hand.

"Thank you, Sire." The courier bowed again. "By your leave..." He turned and headed back to a waiting taxi, platter tucked neatly against his arm - the incongruity of a modern car against the centuries old garb making Peter's head shake.

"Halloween... It brings out the freaks in the city."

"June's wealthy, Sweetie. That means she gets called eccentric, not a freak." She patted him on the arm with a wry grin. "Try to remember that." Elizabeth opened the envelope beside him and her eyes widened at the contents. "Wow, this is the real deal: full costumes and masks required!"

"Don't we already have plans for Halloween?" Peter asked.

Elizabeth waved him off. "Oh, we can blow them off. This looks far more fun."

Peter narrowed his eyes at her. "This is by no means some evil way of getting me into a pair of tights, is it?"

Elizabeth's hand snuck around to quickly grasp his ass, a devilish glint in her eye. "You know you'd look great in tights." Flashing the invite in her hand, she headed for the house phone. "I have to call the costume company and make an appointment for our fittings! June's got their entire Louis XIV collection on hold just for this party!"

o--o

"I feel ridiculous."

Peter stared at himself in the mirror. He'd narrowly escaped the tights, but the breeches and boots were hardly manly by comparison. He'd rejected over a dozen outfits for being too effeminate before they'd brought him this deep blue velvet suit. It fit him well, but still felt and looked strange.

"The fit is excellent," the costumer told him, giving him an appraising look.

Peter huffed. Trust a professional to come up with a compliment that wasn't really one. Still, it was a costume - just for one night - and Elizabeth had been so excited about going since the invitation came, Peter couldn't deny her one evening of uncomfortable shoes and a frou-frou ascot.

"Peter? Can you come look?" Elizabeth's voice floated out from outside the dressing room.

"Sure, Elle. I'll be right there." He gave himself one last primping and followed the costumer out into the shop. He had to turn to find Elizabeth standing and gazing at herself in the angled mirrors, admiring her reflection. She turned to look at him and for a second he forgot to breathe. The gown was icy blue, bringing out the color of her eyes, and fit like a glove from the waist up, framing her ample cleavage as if it were a priceless painting. The bustled skirt flared at the hips giving her a more curvacious profile - the net effect, breathtaking. "You look amazing," he murmured.

She curtseyed with a proud smile. "Why thank you, my liege," she said playfully.

He walked over to her, reaching out to skim a hand over her waist. The fabric wasn't just patterned, the stark white and silver accents were raised, giving the bodice a texture under his fingers. The ornate designs swirled over her body gracefully and tastefully, clearly marking her as a high society lady of the court.

"Okay," he admitted, his past hesitation forgotten. "Now I'm on board with the whole costume thing."

"Good," Elizabeth said, smirking as she reached for something set aside on a stool. It was an ornate mask on a handle, rich with fake jewels and white and pale blue tinted ostrich plumes. She raised it to cover the top part of her face. "Because we still need to find you a mask."

o--o

The shoes ended up not being too bad once Elizabeth fitted them with some cushioning insoles for him. He'd been complaining about how people danced in shoes like that only to come home and find her cutting a pair to fit the oddly shaped soles.

"We're dancing," she'd said by way of explanation and Peter had to admit that while they didn't feel as good as his old sneakers with the foam insoles in, he could certainly dance in them.

June had sent not a car for them, but a horse-drawn carriage - complete with costumed doorman and driver. Due to the fall chill it was a covered carriage so Peter felt relieved he wasn't going to be on display - or freezing - all the way to Tudor City.

The invitation had included an engraved announcement card, which Peter handed to the costumed butler once they'd been ushered in from the front door to the ballroom where the party was already lively with drinks and dance.

"His Lordship Peter Burke and her Ladyship Elizabeth Burke!" he called out, announcing them to the crowd just before the quartet, set up in the corner - also in period garb - began playing.

A pair of women in gowns and masks - one in a brunette wig and the other a blonde one - approached them, curtseying deeply before them. Peter responded with a bow as Elizabeth continued to hold his arm, steadying herself against him for an answering deep curtsey.

"Lady Diana and Lady Christine, I presume," Peter said, a crooked grin emerging beneath his mask.

"That didn't take you long to figure out," Diana said with a chuckle, flashing her mask away from her face long enough to confirm his suspicions and wink at them both.

"It can't have been that hard," Christie said, giving Peter a playful nudge. "I mean, how many lesbian couples are here tonight, really?"

"Diana's walk gave it away," Peter told them. "You can put her in a fancy gown, but you can't take that confident swagger out of her walk."

"I like that swagger," Christie said, looping her arm in Diana's and bumping their hips conspiratorially. "Don't ever change."

"So where's our hostess?" Elizabeth asked, glancing around.

"There," Diana answered. "On the dance floor. She's the one in the golden gown."

They moved further into the room and found several couples were dancing what Peter guessed might be a sort of period minuet: a formal paired dance where they mostly walked around in circles together, holding hands while standing far apart.

The gown, as they drew closer, was spectacular. While Elizabeth's had been ornate, this was truly worthy of royalty. Peter guessed it was no costume, but a custom made gown just for June. The golden fabric was accented with gold jewelry and she was arrayed with gems that glittered and sparkled under the chandelier's light.

Her escort's costume was similarly elaborate, yet not so much as to outshine her as the center of attention. The cool white and silver suit was the lunar counterpoint to her brilliant sun - the perfect complement. The man wore it like a second skin; not only did it fit him perfectly he seemed totally at home in it, not fussing and tugging with it like Peter found himself doing in the carriage until Elizabeth slapped his hand away with a warning glance.

Their dancing was the sole example of fluidity and grace. The other couples had pretty much ceded the floor to them, doing their best on the periphery as the two of them held center court as the focal point of the party's attention.

The dance was mesmerizing: full of spinning turns and circular patterns. Peter gave up on trying to memorize the steps for later and just joined the women beside him in enjoying the show.

"Who's her date?" he asked mindlessly, not removing his eyes from the dance floor.

"Not sure," Diana answered. "With the masks and wigs it's honestly hard to tell who's who if you miss the announcements."

"We had a bit of a faux pas earlier with a city councilwoman we thought we recognized," Diana admitted. "Since then we've been watching the entries a bit more carefully."

"Where's Neal?" Elizabeth asked.

"Probably upstairs waiting to make a grand entrance," Peter scoffed. "He's not the type to come early to anything."

o--o

A smattering of polite applause, dampened by the women's gloves, followed the end of the song as the dancing men all bowed to their ladies, receiving an answering curtsey in response.

The band's next song was more of a traditional waltz so the four of them all headed towards the ballroom floor, Diana and Christie taking up their position beside Peter and Elizabeth as the waltzing began.

"This is really lovely," Elizabeth mused, delighted, as he swung her across the floor.

"I'm glad you're enjoying yourself." Peter smiled down at her. The wig she'd selected matched her own hair color almost perfectly and the face framing ringlets just made her seem even more beautiful to him.

"I wish we'd brought a camera." She let out a contented sigh. "I really want to talk one of my clients into having me do a party like this for them."

"I'm pretty sure you'd need a client with June's kind of money to pull that off."

Elizabeth beamed. "I'd happily take on that kind of client. In fact, the more the merrier."

"Not too many though," Peter chastened. "If Burke Premier Events becomes too popular I may never get to see you."

"Oh, like a certain FBI agent husband?" she teased back. "Never fear. If it all gets to be too much? I'll just hire more staff!"

Peter twirled her across the floor. "Spoken like a true business woman."

The song ended and they joined in the applause, staying on the dance floor as the quartet began playing another tune.

"May I have this dance?" They both looked up to find June approaching, holding her hand out to Peter. "Hostess's prerogative to dance with all of her guests."

Peter took her hand and bowed.

"It would be my pleasure, Lady June."

As Elizabeth withdrew, June stepped forward and their arms went into position for another waltz. Unlike Peter, who had to hold his mask in his hand as he danced since it was on a stick, June's mask was strapped on so it remained on - same as her escort's - as they danced.

"Are you two enjoying the party?" she asked as they danced.

"Elizabeth is beside herself," Peter told her. "She's been excited about this since the day the invitation arrived. Now she's scheming to talk her clients into doing their own masquerade balls."

"I hope she does!" June exclaimed. "A dress like this deserves more than one outing a year!"

Peter gave her a fanciful twirl, noticing another couple joining the dance floor: his wife and June's escort, the two of them dancing up a storm from the first step - both lively and energetic and certainly shameless with how they swept across the floor.

"It most certainly does."

o--o

At the end of the song, the quartet put down their instruments for a break and the pairs began to drift off the dance floor.

"Oh, that was fun!" Peter halted when he heard Elizabeth gushing behind him, waiting for her and June's date to catch up. As they did the man kissed the back of Elizabeth's gloved hand in gratitude and took up June's hand again, kissing her cheek in greeting.

"Such a good boy," June teased. "The perfect escort."

As he straightened, Peter looked at him more closely. The stark blue eyes behind the mask suddenly became familiar to him.

"Neal?" he gasped, astonished.

"That would be Lord Neal, Earl of Caffrey to you," Neal retorted, his trademark grin visible below the bottom of his mask.

"Just don't forget who's Lord Peter, Agent of FBI," Peter scoffed. "Fancy dress or not, I still outrank you."

"Now, now," June mock teased. "Be gentlemen. And if you can't be gentlemen at least stage a mock duel over me." She winked at Elizabeth. "That, at least, would be entertaining."

"Anything for you my Duchess," Neal said, kissing the back of June's hand.

"He's well trained," Elizabeth told her, watching Neal with glee.

"And he's a wonderful dancer!"

"I know!"

"Please, ladies," Neal gestured to them to stop. "You embarrass me."

"Nowhere near as much as they're embarrassing me," Peter grumbled. He gestured to Neal's outfit. "You make that look too good."

"What can I say?" Neal held out his arms to show off. "To a con man like me? Life is a masquerade!"

o--c
 
 
 
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on October 31st, 2010 07:13 am (UTC)
Confession
This is my entry for my lovely slashwife's Halloween Challenge Ficathon. Happy Halloween all!

I would normally write Numb3rs, but if I had it would have been fic number 666 - how apropos! LOL Unfortunately my work on the prequel to The Far End of Infinity has me with masquerade masks on the mind, so I was set on the bunny of a masquerade ball for my Halloween fic and who better than June to throw it with her fabulous mansion?

Besides, who can resist a masked man like Neal? ;-)

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais
Dani: WC OT3umbralillium on October 31st, 2010 07:33 am (UTC)
GAH! JEALOUS! One of these days I will go to a masquerade. *nods firmly*

I loved how excited El was about the masquerade and Peter's all, 'do I hafta?' until he see El in her gown. XD
Stacysahiya on October 31st, 2010 07:47 am (UTC)
This was delightful!
misura: White Collar - Diana flirtingmisura on October 31st, 2010 08:05 am (UTC)
Much love for Diana's swagger, indeed - and for Christie's love for Diana's swagger. *g* To say nothing of the lovely mental images of these characters in costumes, dancing ... staging a mock duel.

Loved this, in conclusion.
tinnuial: Neal Approvestinnuial on October 31st, 2010 09:13 am (UTC)
Ooooh too much fun! This was lovely. June would throw a fabulous ball... and the thought of Neal dressed up in silver brocade is enough to make a fangirl swoon! ;) Thanks for sharing!
a rearranger of the proverbial bookshelf: White Collar - Nealembroiderama on October 31st, 2010 12:51 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, so much fun! I love the way you really show us their costumes, and the characters inside them. :)
aelfgyfu_mead: Peter & Nealaelfgyfu_mead on October 31st, 2010 04:14 pm (UTC)
What fun! Peter was a little slow on the uptake, but maybe he's in denial—especially while it's his wife dancing with Neal.

"Just don't forget who's Lord Peter, Agent of FBI."
Hee hee!

I love the idea and the dialogue; I just wish we could see this, for real!
Deb: Bomerdamietta on October 31st, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC)
Gosh, you really made me want to be at this party! (I'd have loved to see what Moz was wearing!) And, the last line was perfect.
SamuelJames: White Collar-Neal Caffreysamueljames on November 1st, 2010 12:31 am (UTC)
I really liked this, the descriptions of everyone's costumes were gorgeous. Very nice.
Brilliance of the Moon: neil caffreylongbca on November 8th, 2010 09:28 pm (UTC)
I loved Neal in this- he would be comfortable in a dress...period wear is barely a blip on his radar...
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 22nd, 2010 01:53 pm (UTC)
Still catching up on everything that was posted while I was away. This was a brilliant idea and beautiful visuals. I can picture it all so sweetly. And both Neal and Peter would look yummy in tights. Just saying.