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My feet were hurting so much. Not just my feet, all over my legs, my abdominal muscles, my arms, even my neck hurt. It was almost unbearable, but I’d be home soon, just around the corner. Mademoiselle Comoret was in a particularly bad mood that day. I must have done that last pointe section at least twenty times, to perfection, might I add, and she still wasn’t happy. Hence the aching muscles, on the slow walk home. Every arabesque, every pirouette, every plié she would screech at me ‘Moyenne!’ ‘désordonné!’, ‘oubliables!’, ‘atroce!’, ‘encore!’, ‘vous ne faites pas attention!’, ‘essayez à nouveau!’, ‘le render pur!’, ‘regardez-moi!’. ‘average!’, ‘untidy!’, ‘forgetable!’, ‘atrocious!’, ‘again!’, ‘you are not paying attention!’, ‘try again!’, ‘make it neat!’, ‘watch me!’.
This was pretty much all I heard from her in the entire two hour one-on-one morning session. You would think that she would cut me some slack considering it was my birthday and I was her star pupil. I hate that phrase. Star pupil. It makes me sound ridiculously snobbish and boastful. I wouldn’t say it if everyone else didn’t. I’ve always been average. Average complexion, average hair colour, average height, average friends, average sense of humour, with an average family in an average seaside town. If it wasn’t for my dancing, I’d be a nobody.
I love to dance. Ever since I can remember all I’ve wanted to be is a dancer. Any style or genre; ballet, tap, contemporary, ballroom, jazz, disco. Charleston, foxtrot, jive, waltz. Everything. Mademoiselle Comoret had been my teacher for at least five years, and despite our close relationship outside the studio, she’d constantly push me forwards to reach my ‘Pavlova’s Dying Swan moment’, that inspiring step sequence. That final standing ovation.
“I’m home!” I called as I stepped through the doorway of the terraced three-bedroom house we’d lived in since my sister, Emily, was born 7 years ago. “We’re in here!” came my step-mother Janet’s chipper reply. She always got excited at birthdays and other such occasions. As I walked through the hallway I was welcomed by the smell of bacon and eggs, wafting out of the kitchen. In the dining room, my little family was gathered around out small table feasting on a cooked breakfast, which they had apparently deemed too delicious to wait for my return. “How was your lesson baby?”, Dad asked, a huge grin on his face.
“It was good”, came my reply “Mademoiselle Comoret was in a slightly bad mood, so I’m aching all over, and I’m starving. Have you left any for me?” I asked gesturing towards the empty plate in front of him.
“Yes, it’s in the kitchen, I’ll go and get it for you” and he rose from his chair and disappeared through the doorway.
“So, what’s the occasion?” I asked Janet whilst sitting at my usual place at the table, and gesturing the toward the fabulous spread of breakfast.
“It’s not every day one’s step-daughter turns eleven now is it?”
I loved how with a few simple words about breakfast can make me feel happy and loved. I suppose this is the same with every family, but seeing as I’ve only known my own, I can’t really say.
Dad returned with my cooked breakfast which consisted of bacon, sausages, fried eggs, baked beans, toast and a cup of tea, with a huge pile of envelopes under his left arm.
“Here you are darling,” he said placing my plate and tea in front of me. “and there’s quite a bit of post for you as well.”
“Fangs dad.” I replied, with my mouth full of egg and baked beans. I wouldn’t normally talk with food in my mouth, nor eat so much so early in the day, but as Janet said, it’s not every day one turns eleven.
“Eloquently put, there Scarlet. Congratulations on raising your daughter to be such a charming young woman David” Janet commented sarcastically.
“We raised her if remember correctly, Janet.” Came Dad’s reply. My mother died when I was young,
and Janet had been my mother for all intents and purposes for 8 years .
“Open your cards!” urged Emily, my six year old half-sister. She looks exactly like Janet, It’s almost scary. She’s like a carbon copy of my step-mother in miniature form.
“Okay! What about…. This one” I said plucking the handmade looking envelope from the pile. It was made from pink sugar paper and had the word ‘Scarlet’ scribbled on the front in a blue felt-tip pen. “I wonder who it’s from?” I commented, sneaking a sideways glance at Emily who was sniggering behind her clasped hands.
I gently prized open the envelope and pulled out the homemade card, it like the envelope was made from pink sugar paper and had a drawing of a ballerina on the front with roses at her feet as she performed an almost perfect arabesque.
“It’s you!” shrieked Emily, “I drewed it myself!”
“I can see the resemblance” I replied, “Although, I reckon Mademoiselle Comoret would say that her arabesque is far superior to mine”
Inside, Emily had written, ‘Happy birthday Scarlet, you’re the best sister in the world. Apart from me!’
The other cards were from distant family, the kind you see at weddings and funerals, and at no other time in the year, there was a card from Janet and Dad, with a badge with the number 11 printed on it surrounded my little pink flowers. Inside they had written something about how proud they were of me, and they knew I could achieve whatever I wanted if I put my mind to it.
At the time I remember thinking, ‘how ironic, considering you won’t let me go to the school I want in order to become a professional dancer. Instead I have to go to stupid Pebble Street High, a school run by a nobody, in the middle of nowhere, attended by nobodies.’
There was one envelope left untouched. It looked as though it was homemade, although more professionally done than Emily’s humble attempt. It had no stamp or post mark in the top right-hand corner, which struck me as odd, ‘but then’ I thought, ’it could have been hand delivered’. The address was very peculiar indeed. It was written in an elegant script in emerald green ink, but that wasn’t why it was peculiar. It said;
Miss Scarlet Jones
Second largest Bedroom
20 Pier View Road
I picked up the envelope slowly, aware of everyone watching me intently. I flipped it over and saw that it had been sealed with red wax. I didn’t think anyone did that anymore, above the seal was what I took to be a crest, or a coat of arms, with the words; Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus written underneath. The crest itself was quartered. In the top left-hand quarter, there was a picture of a lion, to the right of it, a snake, below it a badger, to the right of a badger there was an eagle. In the centre there was the letter ‘H’. plain and simple.
I broke the seal and unfolded the letter, and read aloud the contents to my now slightly worried looking family.
Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock, Supreme
Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards.)
Dear Miss, Jones,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment. Term begins on September 1st, We await your owl by no later than July 31st.
Headmaster of Hogwarts.*
I had to re-read the letter at least twice in my head, before I could look at my family. Janet looked as though someone had just told her the best joke she’d ever heard at a funeral. Emily looked confused. Dad’s expression shocked me most of all. He looked utterly petrified. He looked as though his whole world was slowly crashing down around him. He looked as though he knew this day was coming but was dreading it with all the energy he had. This is not how a father should look when his children are around. This was singularly the most terrifying thing that had happened to me.
“What a load of codswallop.” Janet said laughing, although sounding a little tense.
Dad said nothing.
“Hogwarts School of what and what?” she continued.
Still, dad said nothing.
“That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard!”
Dad remained silent.
“Do you know of anyone who would play such a prank on you Scarlet?”
“It’s not a prank” Dad mumbled. It was so quiet that I almost thought I’d imagined it. Until.
“IT’S NOT A PRANK!” he shouted, throwing back his chair as he rises to his feet. His chair clattered to the ground loudly.
“What do you mean it’s not a prank?” Janet said, still laughing although sounding a lot more worried.
“Scarlet’s mother was… she..." he exhaled sharply, "She was a witch”
“What?” Janet and I chorused.
“She was a witch and she studied at Hogwarts, she left at the age of 16, when her best friend died. She didn’t want you to know about any of this Scarlet. The magical world is dangerous; she thought by keeping you in the dark, you would be safe. And I happen to agree. You are not going to that place.”
I was about to dispute this when there was a sharp knock at the door.
“Emily, go and get that will you.” Dad snapped. Apparently thinking this conversation was over, until he caught the expression on my face, and added, “Tell whoever it is to bugger off. Politely.”
Emily got up reluctantly, obviously not wanting to miss out on any drama.
“Dad” she called nervously from the hallway. “There’s a lady here, she says she needs to speak to Scarlet. She said her name is Professor McDonalds.”
“Actually it’s McGonagall,” came a stern voice with a heavy Scottish accent. A few seconds later she was standing in my living room, looking at us all gathered around the table.
She was dressed in a long coat that brushed the floor as she walked, I didn’t think people still wore those. Yet this was not the oddest thing about her appearance. She looked old, and stern, the kind of teacher you wouldn’t want to be late for, or miss any deadlines for. At the same time she looked kind and sad, she had sad eyes. She was smiling warmly, as if trying to make me feel comfortable, when she was in an alien environment. Yet this was not the oddest thing about her appearance. To me in my confused eleven year old state, the oddest thing about Professor McGonagall was her hat. She was wearing a pointed hat that sat a little crooked on her head, it was tartan.
“Hello Miss Jones. My Name is Professor McGonagall, and I teach Transfiguration at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I gather that you have received your acceptance letter, and I am sure you have a fair few questions for me.”
“To say the least” I replied sarcastically.
“Well, as you muggles like to say, fire away”
“Okay to start with, what’s a muggle?”
“A muggle is somebody who has no magical ability, like your family here. You on the other hand are a witch.”
“I’m a witch?”
“Yes, your mother was a witch too. And if my memory serves correctly, she was a very talented young woman as well.”
“You knew my mother?”
“I did, she was in the year above me at Hogwarts, I used to idolise her, she was smart, beautiful, and very friendly. In her sixth year, her best friend Myrtle was killed accidently, your mother being the passionate young woman that she was, was understandably distraught, and vowed never to return to Hogwarts, nor to have children so they could be spared the ‘danger’ she faced there. Although I can assure you, that Hogwarts now has the best Headmaster in its history, and is now the safest place in the country, save for the wizard bank, Gringotts, but that’s another story.”
“Aren’t witches just a Halloween costume? Just something from a children’s fairy story?”
“No, we’re not,” Replied McGonagall kindly, considering I had just insulted her. “We are a race of people who contain the ability to perform magic. And Hogwarts is the place where you can learn to control your magic and use it to the best of your ability.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t think I am a witch, you’ve got the wrong girl. There must be another Scarlet Marie Jones”
“Your mother’s name was Marie Anna Pilliwickle. She was born on January 15th 1935 and she tragically died 9 years ago on April 17th, is that correct?”
“Y-yes” I stammered, shocked that this stranger knew so much about my mother, when I couldn’t even remember how she smelled, or what it felt like to hug her, or the sound of her voice.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur of confusing questions and even more confusing answers. Dad asked McGonagall to stay for tea, more out of politeness than actually wanting her there. She kindly declined, stating she had to be back at Hogwarts to convey the news to Professor Dumbledore, the Headmaster that I would be attending in September.
*Hogwarts Letter, paraphrased and adapted from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Great Britain, 1997 edition, bloomsbury Books. Page 42, Chapter 4, Keeper of the Keys.
I’m now in the fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and that means one thing. OWL’s - Ordinary Wizarding Levels. They’re kind of like the Muggle GCSE’s, and after we get our grades we can decide what subjects to take on for our final two years at Hogwarts. The grades are different to the muggle grading system of A, B, C, D etc. instead the highest grade is O for outstanding, EE for Exceeds Expectations, A for Average, P for Poor, D for Dreadful and T for Troll. I’m only half sure the last two were added for Dumbledore’s amusement.
When I first started at Hogwarts, I found that as expected, I didn’t exactly like many of my subjects, I enjoyed Charms and Potions, but history of Magic must have been invented by the devil. Along with Transfiguration. Herbology I didn’t mind so much as there was an overlap with potions occasionally. Defence against the Dark arts worried me slightly; I was a little too timid and bookish for any of the dangers that were hypothetically posed to me in those lessons.
I was put in Ravenclaw house, our motto is ‘wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure’, at first I was a little disappointed to be put there. I thought that all the pressure to excel academically could be hard. The same as the pressure I used to get from Mademoiselle Comoret to be as perfect as possible. I soon realised that being in Ravenclaw was the best place for me; my mother was in Ravenclaw before she decided to flee from Hogwarts and its distinguished stone halls.
Our common room and dormitory is in the Ravenclaw Tower. We don’t have a password to enter like the other houses, we have a question or a riddle to answer that changes every time. If we can’t answer the question, we have to wait for someone to come along with the correct answer. That way we are always learning.
In my second year I took on Ancient Runes, everyone I spoke to told me it was a bad idea, too much work they said, or pointless because no-one even uses Runes anymore. But I’m glad I went ahead and took it anyway, I really enjoy it, and that isn’t just the Ravenclaw in me talking.
Potions has to be my favourite lesson of all. I was a little worried about it at first considering I’d always been useless at cookery in my muggle primary school and at home, but potions is completely different. I learned to trust my instincts around the cauldron so it’s easy to know when to add what ingredients and when to stir and cool.
Professor Slughorn, the potions master, has told me that I’m one of the most gifted half-blood’s he’d met, which I took as a compliment seeing as he’s head of Slytherin house and finds it difficult to compliment anyone who isn’t Slytherin or a pure-blood. He even invites me to the ‘Slug-club’ parties; I’ve been going to them since half-way through first-year when my flare for brewing potions became apparent. The slug-club events are quite prestigious, and only the best of the best are invited, which usually means it’s dominated by Ravenclaws. I met Benjy Fenwick at one such meeting.
I’ve been dating Benjy for about a year now; he makes me feel happy about myself. He’s a half-blood too, his mother is a muggle, and his father is a wizard. Sometimes I feel slightly envious that he was brought up in the magical world alongside the muggle one. But then I feel envious of anyone who knew what they were before their eleventh birthday. Benjy has curly light brown hair that falls around his face, making him look sort of angelic. He has piercing green eyes that seem to see right into your soul when he looks at you. His smile holds a thousand secrets and tells you everything about him at the same time. He makes me feel happy when I get stick from the Gryffindors about being a ‘know-it-all’ or when I don’t do as well as expected in an assignment. We argue sometimes, but then, who doesn’t? Sometimes when I’m really happy, I think I love him.
Although, that time isn’t right here right now. “Oh for Merlin’s sake! Ben, nothing happened! Will you stop freaking out?”
“Well, Scar, if nothing happened why were you seen hugging Sirius ruddy Black?” Benjy countered, looking severely pissed off.
“Because I was saying goodbye! That’s what you do after spending time with friends, you hug them goodbye!” I shouted back. I could see where he was coming from. I mean, it’s not exactly a secret that I used to have a raging crush on said Sirius Black. But I wouldn’t be human if I hadn’t had a crush on at least one of the marauders at some point. It’s like an unwritten biological law.
“Why were you spending time with him?”
“Why does it matter to you? Are you jealous?” I knew I shouldn’t really be arguing back like this, but we’d been far too lovey-dovey for too long and, well, it felt good to argue. “That’s it isn’t it? You just can’t get over the fact that I used to think Sirius Black is better looking than you.”
“Oh don’t be ridiculous Scar. What was I supposed to think, you know his reputation, and when I heard from Mulciber of all people that you were seen together I flipped out. It would have been nice for you to tell me first, instead of waiting for me to find out from a sodding Slytherin!” I could see that this wasn’t going to end well. I could either refuse to tell Benjy why Sirius had enlisted my help and possibly ruin my relationship, or I could tell him that I was teaching Sirius to dance for the upcoming New Year’s Dance, a new thing that Dumbledore is trying out, and personally, I can’t wait.
“Can we not talk about this here?” I asked feeling slightly self-conscious seeing as we were standing in full view of everyone walking out of the Great Hall after dinner.
“Fine, let’s go to the lake.” Benjy replied.
“Can I meet you there, I need to grab my cloak, it’s freezing outside.” He didn’t look best pleased at this idea but agreed nonetheless. ‘Okay Black,’ I thought to myself. ‘Show yourself to me.’
“You are joking?” Sirius said staring at me incredulously. We were standing in the corridor by a creepy looking angel statue. There are statues and gargoyles and suits of armour all over the castle, it always makes the corridors and passegways feel populated even when they're completely deserted, like now.
“Well I have to tell him something; Mulciber told him that there’s something going on between us, which is quite frankly ridiculous.” I replied.
“I’m going to pretend that didn’t hurt my ego.” Sirius said with his infamous smirk. “But no, you can’t tell him about the dance lessons. I’ll never hear the end of it.”
“What if I make him promise not to tell anyone else?” I answered desperately. “And, why did you want me to teach you anyway? I still don’t know all the wizard dances, just muggle ones.”
“I don’t have to explain myself to you, and no because I’ve already made you promise not to tell anyone and that doesn’t seem to be working out very well does it?” ‘This is brilliant’ I thought, ‘my second argument in three minute. I’m on fire.’
“I will not screw up my relationship just to save your pride, Black. Either I tell him to keep it quiet or I tell everyone. Your choice.” I answered, actually shocked that I could use an ultimatum to get my own way.
“Oh do you know what? Do whatever the bloody hell you want. Just don’t ever come to me with any of your shit. Okay?” It looked as though I’d actually upset him, although I suspected it was just another of his ploys to get people to pity him so that he would win. ‘Not this time Black.’ I thought as I practically ran down the stairs to meet Benjy, winter Cloak in tow.
“I’m here” I said timidly as I walked up behind Benjy sitting on the bank of the Lake.
“Good, because I’m bloody freezing and you’ve got approximately 5 minutes to tell me what the hell is going on.” Benjy replied, his voice shaking slightly. I couldn’t tell whether it was shaking because he actually was cold or because he was so angry.
“Okay. The reason Mulciber saw Black and I hugging on the seventh floor corridor, was because… it was because… I’m giving him dance lessons” Benjy kept me waiting in the dark for his reply, he was silent for a good thirty seconds, and I couldn’t see his face. And then he started laughing.
“Oh well done Scar. Make that up on your way down from the tower did you. Very good, well done you almost had me going. Now if you don’t mind I’m going back inside.” Benjy said scathingly.
“Ben it’s true! He wanted me to teach him Muggle ballroom dances for the New Year’s Dance!”
“And you just thought that the seventh floor corridor was the best place for a dance lesson did you?”
“We were in the come-and-go room.” I replied.
“The what room?” Benjy shouted straight away, that’s when I realised the mistake in my sentence.
“It’s not a bloody euphemism! Merlin! The Room of Requirement!” I said exasperatingly.
“It doesn’t make sense. Why does Black want to learn to dance?”
“I don’t know” I answered. “Honestly, I have no idea. He said something about wanting impress a muggle-born girl in Gryffindor, but you can never take him seriously.”
“I didn’t know you two were so close” He replied, and I could see the sadness on his face, and I knew there wasn’t anything I could do about it. As soon as Benjy gets an idea into his head, there’s no persuading him otherwise. He’s so darn stubborn.
Getting to Hogwarts was a whole other kettle of fish as my dad used to say. For a start we had to get to King’s Cross station loaded with all of the supplies that Professor McGonagall had helped me with the day previous at a place called Diagon Alley.
Once we did arrive at King’s Cross after a rather long journey on a train and then a short one on a tube, we realised that my ticket said the Hogwarts Express would depart from platform 9 ¾ at 11am exactly. Only platform 9 ¾ didn’t appear to exist. We hovered between platforms 9 and 10, dad looking smug, he didn’t want me going to Hogwarts any way, Janet looking worried and me, well I was just wishing I was magical enough to will the platform into existence. No such luck I’m afraid.
Minutes past and I started to get hysterical and I was on the verge of tears when I heard a voice shout, “Jenny! Don’t keep dropping your wand! It would be a fine thing for you to be expelled from Hogwarts before you even started!”
I span around as fast as possible to locate the source of the shout. As soon as I set eyes on the owner of the voice I knew she had to be a witch; she was wearing the most peculiar clothes! A blue dress with a green petticoat, green wellington boots, a heavy black winter coat and a straw boater hat. The girl she was with, Jenny, was wearing a similar mismatch of clothes, substituting the wellingtons for trainers, her dress was pink with a red petticoat instead of blue and green like the mothers. Instead of wearing a hat she wore a sun visor, despite the lack of sun.
“Sorry mum,” a small girlish voice replied, “I just couldn’t keep hold of it, I have too much stuff to carry, could we get one of those things?”, pointing to swarm of trollies to left with an odd looking angel statue next to them.
“Excuse me,” I said walking over to them before I had consciously made the decision to do so, “but, I… well…. I was … I was hoping you could help me find platform 9 ¾? I’ve never been before.”
“Of course dear! Oh look at you, a muggle-born I suppose, are they your parents?” she said just as Dad and Janet came up behind us.
“well, no my mother was a witch, but my dad is a muggle and so is Janet, my step-mum.” I told her.
“Pleased to meet you, ah?”
“Oh yes, I’m Scarlet Jones, this is my Dad, David and my step-mother Janet.”
“Well, I’m Doris Catchlove” she said whilst shaking my parents’ hands, “and this is my daughter Jennifer. It’s her first year at Hogwarts too. What did you say your mother’s name was dear?”
“Oh, I knew her, she was a charming young woman, and so clever too! You’ll do well at Hogwarts, Scarlet, if you’re anything like she is!” Mrs Catchlove said with a warm and genuine smile. “Right. Platform 9 ¾ is this way, follow me!”
And we did.
I could hardly believe it when Mrs Catchlove said we had to run at a brick wall in order to get on to the platform. I thought I’d imagined her using the word ‘Hogwarts’ and she was actually just some crazy woman of the street, until I saw two older boys running headlong at the wall, they just kept going and going until they weren’t there anymore.
I decided now was probably the best time to say goodbye to Dad and Janet. Considering I barely knew anything about the wizarding world, I was already a walking target for pranksters and bullies. I wanted to walk onto the platform strong and independent.
“Right, well. I’ll see you at Christmas I suppose” I said, turning to my parents and hugging them each in turn, “don’t have too much fun without me!”
“Have a brilliant time, Scar, I want to hear all about it in your letters, promise me you’ll write tonight?” Janet said whilst pulling me into a second bone-crushing hug.
“I’m not sure about this, Scar. There’s a reason your mother left this place. Something doesn’t feel right.” My dad said, looking genuinely scared for my wellbeing.
“Dad, I’ll be fine! Professor McGonagall said it’s much safer now than when mum was a student!” I told him for the millionth time that morning. “I love you both. See you soon.”
And I walked through the brick wall without looking back.
The rest of the day passed in a blur of excitement and awe. Jennifer seemed insistent on staying right by my side, which helped, it was as though I had a constant tour guide. It seemed the Catchlove’s were related to a lot of people. Every few minutes I’d hear “oh that’s Fabian and Gideon Prewett, my mother’s second cousin’s children” or “Over there must be Sirius Black, a relation of the Prewetts,” and “That blonde girl by the window is Marlene Mckinnon, her mother is my dad’s cousin” The best thing about Jenny was that she didn’t seem to care that I knew nothing of the wizarding world.
We were sitting in a carriage on the Hogwarts express when a boy of about our age came in and sat opposite me. He had dark hair and similarly dark eyes, he walked with the air of someone important. “Mind if I sit?” he said in such a haughty tone that I nearly laughed.
“Not at all” I replied, mimicking him.
“Thank you. My name is Avery, and this is my first year at Hogwarts” I noted to myself two things here, 1) Wizards have no sense of humour and 2) They have weird first names (it wasn’t until at least a year later that I realised Avery was his last name).
“I’m Scarlet and this is Jenny. We’re first years too.”
“Pleasure to meet you” said Avery, Shaking our hands in turn. “it is a shame to see so many muggle borns isn’t it?”
“Why’s that?” I replied, starting to feel uncomfortable and defensive.
“Well, my Father has always said Hogwarts should be strictly for the education of pure-bloods. Because muggle-borns are essentially thieves.”
“What about half-bloods then? I replied, getting angrier by the second. And my body’s immediate reaction to anger is tears. I could feel them prickling at the edge of my lower lid.
“Same goes, I’m afraid. If Muggle-borns never attended Hogwarts there would be no cross-contamination of Magical blood.”
“Well that’s where you’re wrong Avery” I snapped back, “My mother was an exceptional Pure-Blood witch, and my father is a post man from Bromley” the look on Avery’s face was priceless. A mixture of shock, disgust and embarrassment rolled into one. He immediately stood up and swooped out of the door in the same snooty fashion with which he walked in.
“Well, that was interesting” I laughed to Jenny, she had been trying to stifle her giggles behind her left hand until he had left the compartment. I laughed despite the feeling that Avery’s opinion was not only shared by him and his father, and the worst was yet to come.
“Okay. Let’s start with the Waltz.” I said on the first of Sirius’s dance lessons a matter of hours previous to my double argument. I was feeling slightly anxious about this as I wasn’t entirely sure I was over my crush. “It’s simple enough to learn, but it can be effective if performed well. Clasp my right hand with your left and place your right hand on my waist.” Sirius, eager to learn (either that or eager to touch up any girl who asked him to) obliged, although his right hand was far too low down for my liking.
“No Sirius, I said my waist, not my hip. Move your hand upwards.”
“Oh” he said with a small laugh, “sorry I got a bit ahead of myself there didn’t I? We’re supposed to dance then I can let my hands wander right?”
“Wrong” I answered pretty shocked that he could actually be so brazen about this, especially when he knew about Benjy. “This is called the frame, it needs to be kept firm” I glanced up and saw the beginnings of a joke blossoming behind his eyes. “No euphemisms please. Just keep your arms straight, yeah? Now, the steps are; forward on your left foot, to the side on your right foot and then together with your left. Do you think you can manage that or is your mind to pre-occupied with the thought of touching a girl?”
“Jones, that was hurtful, but I will rise above it in the name of dance. Forward, side, together?”
“Forward, side, together” I confirmed.
“Like this?”, and with that he stepped forward on his left foot, to the side on his right foot and brought them together with his left, whilst I mirrored him.
“Yep, now all you need is rhythm”
“Yet another blow! My ego will be shot to pieces after this!” Sirius exclaimed melodramatically.
“But your dancing will be impeccable.” I replied smiling. It was actually pretty easy to talk to Sirius when he wasn’t a) with the other marauders, or b) being a total prat.
“Okay, the next steps are exactly the same but on opposite feet.” I instructed.
“So it’s forward on the right, to the side on the left and then together with the right?” Sirius questioned
“Indeed, care to demonstrate?”
“Why, of course, Miss Jones.”
Forward, side, together, forward, side, together.
“Perfect! The rhythm to these steps is just as simple as the steps themselves; it’s one, two, tree. Forward on one, side on two, together on three. Okay?”
Sirius nodded a look of intense concentration on his face.
“And, one, two, three, one, two, three, keep it going, one, two, three, one, two, three”
“Oops, sorry” he said after almost stepping on my toe. He was getting a bit ahead of himself on the steps.
“That’s okay, but you’re looking down too much, keep your eyes on mine, and keep your back straight. There’s nothing worse than a dancer who slouches.” I told him. “Ready to go again?”
Sirius nodded again.
“Okay, why don’t you count this time, I assume you can count right?”
“Always with the insults Jones! Okay. One, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three, one-“
“Okay, I think you’ve got the hang of it now, why don’t we try it with music?”
“Sure why not.”
I crossed the room of requirement to where the gramophone stood, and placed the needle on the record. I had chosen one of my favourite pieces of music. It was Edelweiss by Richard Rogers. It was my favourite because it always reminded me off my mother.
I walked back and took Sirius’s hand in time to count him in. he seemed to glide through the steps, although I wasn’t exactly surprised, I’d deliberately started with the waltz because it was so easy and graceful at the same time.
“You never fully explained why you want me to teach you.” I asked once we’d done a few repeats.
One, two, three…
“Erm, there’s this girl in my house, a muggle-born. I wanted to ask her to this dance thing, but then I realised I didn’t know how to dance like a muggle and I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. And I knew you could dance because, well everyone knows.”
One, two, three…
“Yeah, Dumbledore did a brilliant job of keeping it a secret. Although I am allowed to use the room of requirement whenever I like, so there are positives as well as the negatives.”
One, two, three…
“It’s not just that though, even people who don’t know you could tell you’re a dancer. You can see it in the way you walk and you gestures. You move like liquid, everything flows.”
One, two, three…
“I didn’t know you paid so much attention to the way I moved Black. If I’m honest it’s a little creepy.”
One, two, crap.
“Oh we were doing so well!” I exclaimed, whilst helping Sirius up from the floor.
“Yeah sorry, I think I forgot to count and my feet got jumbled up.”
“Well, I think it’s safe to say that this can’t happen on the night so we will need to work on you doing the steps without thinking about it. So, what do you like to do?”
“Sorry, what?” Sirius asked looking slightly perplexed
“Well, other than touching up girls, trying to impress muggle-borns and forgetting to count, what do you like to do?”
“I like to prank people”
“That won’t work, okay, how about flirting? You seem to do that a lot.”
I walked over to the gramophone and lifted the needle from the record.
“Yes. Now I want you to carry on with the steps as before, but this time on your own. Whilst you are dancing, see if you can keep up a conversation with me; are you up to the challenge?”
“I suppose so” he replied, starting to look more and more worried by the second.
“Okay, I’ll count you in but then you’re on your own. Ready?” Sirius nodded in confirmation. “Okay, and one, two, three, one, two, three. So, Mr Black, how is it that you became the first of your family to be a Gryffindor?”
“erm, I guess we’re not all that similar, I’m the black sheep of the Black family.”
“That sounds riveting, tell me more” I replied smiling, and really rather enjoying my sarcastic tone.
“You want to hear about the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black?” He said teasingly, to which I nodded.
“Okay. It’s one of the oldest pure-blood families, which therefore means, it is very big. If I told you how many cousins I had, you wouldn’t believe me, come to think of it, I’ve never bothered to count them. The Black Motto is-“
“You have a family motto? Do you have a Coat of arms as well?”
“Well, actually yes. It’s an old name, I just said this. The motto is ‘Toujours Pur’ which means ‘Always Pure’, which in my book sounds a bit pompous but there you are; my family. Done. Can we move on?”
“Okay, sorry, touchy subject I’ll admit. What is the best prank you’ve pulled to date?” I answered, eager to keep him talking so he didn’t realise how well he was doing with the waltz. No need to inflate his ego to early now was there?
“Now that’s a tough question, I’d say, the day we tried to fool Filch into thinking it was a Sunday instead of a Monday so we could have a snowball fight in the grounds.” He finished with a triumphant smile.
“I should have known that was you guys.” I said shaking my head in mock disappointment. “That was a fun day though.”
“How long do I have to keep dancing for?”
“Oh, right yeah you can stop if you want,” he did so straight away. “Was it easier that time, without think about the counts?”
“Yeah sort of, although I’m sure I made a few bad moves.”
“Surprisingly, no. You’re doing really well for a first lesson.” I replied. “Right. Once you’ve mastered the steps without counting, you can make it more interesting by adding turns and such. It’s simple enough, you just keep the steps going as before whilst slowly turning, fancy a go?”
“Why not.” Sirius replied. That age-old smirk making a re-appearance on his lips.
After a few twirls and dips, I thought to myself, ‘This is going a little too well for a first lesson. Something tells me Mr Black hasn’t been altogether honest with me’. “You’re doing well for a beginner” I said, voicing my opinion and glancing at the clock on the wall. “Crap, I have to meet Benjy for lunch. Same time next week?”
“Sounds good to me, what am I learning next?”
“Hmm, how about the Jive?”
“That sounds like an illness, but I’ll give it a go!”
“Great, See you next week!” I called over my shoulder whilst rushing out of the door, past the creepy angelic statues. I didn’t even stop to change back into my robes so I had to sling them on whilst on the move.