Chapter 3 : Learning the Steps
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Song lyrics used in the dialogue belong to Leo Sayer, and are from his song, Long Tall Glasses, from the album, ‘Just A Boy’ (1974).
From Chapter 2:
His hands itched to reach out and touch her cheeks, but he knew he shouldn't. She was absolutely breathtaking, refreshing, intelligent... and honest. Remus turned his eyes away. It felt wrong, somehow, to stare so openly at her. He eventually chose to close his eyes as well, and he drifted off, listening to the rustling of leaves, the streaming of the river and the calming sound of Emilie's breathing.
Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and
dance. Great dancers are not great because of their
technique; they are great because of their passion.
- Martha Graham
Emilie woke late in the afternoon, her body tensing up as a gentle summer breeze skimmed over her bare skin. She turned onto her other side, wrapping her towel tightly around her. She was just about to close her eyes again when she noticed how dark it had become.
She stretched her neck and glanced up at him, but his eyes were closed and he seemed deep asleep. Moving into a sitting position, Emilie suppressed a shiver and yawned lazily, draping her towel over her shoulders.
“Remus?” she asked again, and she raised one hand to his face, tentatively touching his cheek. She let her fingertips slowly slide over his face, feeling the texture of his jagged scars. The skin surrounding his scars was soft, save for his chin and jaws, which sported light stubble.
Remus wetted his lips with his tongue, stirring a little, and she quickly withdrew her hand. He mumbled something she didn’t quite catch, and when she touched him again, his eyes fluttered open. “Emilie?” His voice was hoarse and disorientated, and she couldn’t help but smile.
“Hey, sleepyhead,” she said, pulling her hand back to rub the sleep out of her own eyes. “How long’ve we been out?”
Remus pushed himself into a sitting position and fished an old-fashioned watch out of his jeans. “It’s already past eight,” he grimaced, and he rubbed his temples briefly.
Emilie stared at Remus with wide eyes. “Eight?” She moaned, closing her eyes. “My dad’s going to kill me.”
Remus bit his lip. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to fall asleep. It just –”
“Oh, don’t,” Emilie cut him short, managing a feeble smile. “Don’t apologize, Remus. I fell asleep, too, remember? It’s not your fault.”
Suddenly realizing she was still in her swimsuit, she stood up, her bones stiff and aching. “Ugh. Remind me to never sleep on the ground again,” she complained, gathering her skirt and blouse. She noticed that Remus still looked a bit guilty, so she gave him a playful shove. “Don’t worry about it, Remus! I’ll be fine, all right? I can deal with my dad.”
She used Remus’s shoulder for support as she stepped into her skirt. Her father was going to be angry, of that she was sure, but she would be able to handle it. Besides, she could simply tell him the truth – after all, she really had fallen asleep.
Pulling on her top, she noticed Remus looking at her. He quickly averted his gaze when her eyes met his, his cheeks aflame. She felt an insecure smile tugging at the corners of her lips. Exciting warmth washed over her, causing her own cheeks to burn as well. Her hand rose to brush a strand of hair out of her face, and she grimaced when she found the mess her hair had become. It was tangled, and grass and sand were plastered against the dried up curls. “My hair’s a mess,” she stated, pulling at a lock.
Remus seemed to have gathered the courage to look at her again, because his gaze crossed hers and he smiled at her frustrated expression. “Here,” he said, and he moved behind her. “Let me.” He gently picked the grass out of her hair, his fingers sifting through her curls carefully.
“Thanks,” she mumbled when he was done, blushing.
“Anytime,” he smiled. He shot a look at the rapidly darkening sky, then looked back at her. “I suppose we’d better get going… if you’re ready, that is.”
Emilie stuffed her towel into her backpack and nodded. “All set.” Her muscles protested achingly when they started to walk back towards Little Angleton, and she tried to ignore them as well as she could.
“Full moon,” she noted, glancing up at the sky.
Remus looked up as well, and then glanced back at her. “It’s not full yet,” he said softly.
Tilting her head, Emilie studied the moon. It was just starting to rise, and it was difficult to see its contours against the still darkening sky. “Are you sure?”
He grinned, though she was not quite sure why. “Quite certain, yes. It will be full in two days.”
“I suppose we’ll be able to see it better when it’s darker,” Emilie said, shooting another doubtful look at the sky. “You might be right.”
He grinned at her over his shoulder. “Trust me, I am right.” His eyebrows were raised, and she realized how good it felt to see this more confident, taunting side of him.
Smiling, she jumped over a fallen tree. “If you say so.” Her hand slid in his when he helped her step over a bigger tree, and she only let it go when the path became too narrow for them to walk side by side.
It was almost as though she could see the forest getting darker with every passing minute, and an irrational fear nagged at the corners of her mind. “You do know the way, right?”
Remus nodded. “I know these woods fairly well. Spent a lot of time here when I was younger.”
Despite of his comforting words, Emilie felt relieved to see the edge of the forest, and even more so when they stepped out of the woods.
“Thanks for today,” she said quietly as she moved to walk beside him. “I had a really good time.”
He smiled, his eyebrows raised. “You slept the entire afternoon.”
“Like I said,” she grinned, “I had a really good time.” She linked her arm through his and pulled him a bit closer.
Remus voice was slightly hoarse when he replied, “So did I.”
He didn’t seem at ease being this close to her, so she let go of his arm and skipped two steps ahead, then turned around. “I’ll race you home,” she challenged him.
Letting out a low laugh, Remus shook his head.
“Come on,” she persisted, pulling on his arm. “Ready? Set… go!”
She ran a few steps, and when she heard him following her, sped up. Her heart was thudding wildly in her chest by the time they turned the corner to their street. He was running right beside her, his steps easy, and she had the faint feeling he was lingering by her side on purpose. His eyes met hers, and he smiled gently. Her heart felt as though it was going to burst.
Suddenly, he dropped behind, and when she could no longer hear his steps, Emilie came to a halt as well. She looked over her shoulder, noticing that he was standing still. In the light of the streetlamp, he seemed almost anxious.
What was going on?
She turned her head quickly, her hair whipping into her face. “Hello Marissa,” she greeted the other girl, conjuring a smile upon her lips.
“I went by your house, but you weren’t there,” Marissa said, her voice pleasant. Emilie resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “Your dad said you’d be home.”
“You saw my dad?” Emile felt somewhat jealous, but also slightly relieved: if her dad was still with Gaby, then he never had to know at what time she had gotten home.
Marissa nodded. “Mum’s car broke down, so he's –” she halted in mid-sentence, her eyes narrowing slightly as she took notice of Remus. “Remus?! Oh my God!” She let out a squeal and ran over to where Remus was standing, hugging him tightly.
Remus staggered lightly when she wrapped her arms around him/ He hesitantly raised one of his hands to pat her back and shot a pleading look at Emilie, who shrugged helplessly. “Hey Marissa,” he said when Marissa, at last, started to pull back. “It’s good to see you again.”
“Oh, definitely,” Marissa nodded. “We really should catch –” she fell silent, her eyes wide in disbelief. “Oh… What…” she stammered, paling, and she shook her head incredulously as she continued to stare at Remus. He squirmed uncomfortably underneath her scrutinizing gaze.
Emilie lifted her eyebrows curiously, uncertain what had shocked Marissa so.
Marissa raised a hand to Remus face, reaching out to touch his scars, but she pulled back at the last moment. “What… what happened to your face?”
Listening with growing interest, Emilie watched as Remus lifted a hand to his scars and grimaced. “I… I had an accident,” he said.
“It looks awful,” Marissa commented, still shocked. She clasped her hand over her mouth when she realized what she’d said. “I’m sorry,” she added quickly. “I didn’t mean it like that. It looks like it hurts, that’s all.”
Remus bit on his bottom lip, stuffing his hands into his pockets.
“Anyway,” Marissa said slowly, still quite obviously distracted by Remus’s scars - her eyes kept flicking from his scars to his eyes and back again. “I ehm… I’m throwing a party tomorrow night, because of my birthday? It’d be great if you could come. Oh, and you, too, Emilie,” she added, turning around to face Emilie.
Behind Marissa stood Remus, shaking his head fervently, mouthing, ‘No. No.’
Emilie stared at Marissa’s hopeful smile and found herself nodding, ignoring Remus’s pleading looks. “We’d love to come,” she said. “Thanks for the invite, Marissa.”
“Swell! I’ll see you tomorrow at nine.” Marissa brushed a strand of light brown hair behind her ear. “Bye, Remus,” she added, a shy smile upon her lips. And with that, she turned on her heels and marched away.
As soon as she was out of hearing range, Remus let out a groan and threw his head in his neck. “Are you mad?” he asked her, his voice pained.
She giggled. “Oh, calm down,” she teased him, feeling slightly guilty. “You sound as though you’re dying.”
“I might as well be dead,” he spoke morosely. “Tomorrow evening’s going to be hell.”
Smacking his arm lightly, she grinned at him. “Liven up, you. It’s just a party. We can leave whenever we want.”
Remus groaned again, louder this time. “You don’t understand,” he said. “There’ll be dancing and music and alcohol and dancing… oh Merlin, the dancing.” A pained grimace distorted his face.
Emilie giggled. Merlin? “Exactly why I think we should go,” she then countered. “It’ll be fun, I promise, and if it isn't, then we can just leave.”
“No, really,” Remus protested. He shook his head and slowly started to walk towards his house. “It’ll be a disaster.”
“But we’ll be there together,” Emilie pressed, “and at least we won’t be bored.”
“I don’t...” Remus trailed off, and sighed. He scratched his eyebrow, avoiding her eyes. “I can’t dance, all right?”
Emilie let out a soft laugh, unexpectedly touched by his confession. “Don’t be silly. Of course you can!” He didn’t look too convinced, however. “You know what… we’ll practice,” she said. “If by tomorrow afternoon, you still don’t want to go, then we won’t, all right?”
He stared at her uncertainly, and she could tell he was considering her proposal. She gave him a wide, encouraging smile, hoping that would do the trick, and at last, he caved. “All right,” he said slowly. “That seems fair enough.”
“Brilliant!” Emilie exclaimed, and she gave his arm a light squeeze. “I’ll see you tomorrow, then. Goodnight, Remus!”
“Sleep well,” she heard him call out after her as she jogged back to her father’s house. She waved at him and smiled, looking forward to tomorrow.
Her father scraped at the blackened bottom of the pan, trying his best to clean it. “So…” he said, looking at her briefly. “Are you going out today?”
“Mmm…” Emilie took a bite out of her toasted sandwich. “Maybe this afternoon. Remus is coming over first.”
Sitting down across from her, her father pointedly raised his eyebrows. “The boy next door, hmm?” Swallowing, Emilie nodded, avoiding her father’s eyes when he said, “I can trust you not to do anything foolish, right, Emilie?”
She winced ; it was so typical of her father to bring this up now. “Of course, dad,” she said, sighing.
“Good,” her father nodded. “Well, I’m off, sweetheart. I'll see you tonight!”
She breathed out a relieved sigh when her father closed the door, and she closed her eyes, thanking her lucky stars once again that her father hadn’t noticed her coming home yesterday.
Emilie rummaged lazily through her father’s record collection, trying to find the right song to teach Remus to dance on. Ray Charles… Donna Summer… The Foundations… Leo Sayer. Perfect, she thought, grinning.
After placing Just A Boy on the record player, she chose several other LPs she liked to dance on. She was humming along with the songs by the time the bell rang.
“Hey Remus,” she said, smiled brightly as she opened the door.
“Hello,” Remus greeted her back, his stance tense. He entered the hallway and ran a nervous hand through his hair.
She giggled lightly. “Relax! It’s really not that bad, I promise.”
Walking into the living room, they were welcomed by the sound of Leo Sayer’s ‘One Man Band.’ “Nice... music,” Remus said uncomfortably, stuffing his hands into his pockets as he looked around the room.
She nodded, ambling over to the centre of the living room. “One of my favourite albums. Perfect to dance on,” she added, and motioned for him to come stand next to her. “Come on, Remus.”
Stepping in front of her, Remus lifted his right hand and hesitated. “Should I hold you, or…?”
“Like in ballroom dancing?”
“No,” she smiled. “Well, it depends on the song. Boogie… disco… slow songs…”
Remus raised his eyebrows in surprise. “So we’re not holding each other at all?”
Biting her lips, Emilie suddenly realized that teaching someone how to dance was more difficult than she had initially believed it to be. “Ehm, well… you can hold my hand and twirl me around… but I suppose it depends.”
Confused, Remus shook his head. “On what?”
“Well… if you asked me to dance, then you’ll probably hold my hands,” Emilie explained, her eyes meeting his shyly. “But if we’re dancing in a crowd, and you don’t know me, then you’ll just dance on your own.”
“All right…” Remus said slowly. “Ehm, so… do you want to dance with me?” A blush tinged his cheeks, and Emilie smiled, her heart racing.
“I’d love to,” she grinned. “All right, then… just hold my right hand… and move to the music.”
Sliding her hand into his, she swayed her hips lightly and did some steps. “There really is nothing to it,” she told him. “Just listen to the rhythm and swing.”
His first moves were awkward and a little stiff, but he managed a feeble smile. By the third song, he made her spin, and she giggled. “You’re learning fast!”
Grinning, he said. “It’s not that different from ballroom dancing, really.”
“I suppose it isn’t,” Emilie agreed, and he spun her around again, her heart pounding wildly in her ribcage. She liked being this close to him. He smelled good, she noticed. Masculine.
When the music stopped, she pulled back a litlle and walked towards the record player. “Let me put on the B-side,” she said as she turned the LP around. Smiling as the starting notes of a familiar song rang through the air, she walked back to him. “Hah,” she grinned. “This song is perfect for you.”
Remus listened curiously, taking her hand in his again. “A song about… food?”
“Just wait,” Emilie smiled, her eyes twinkling as she spun away from him. Seconds later, she sang along with Leo Sayer. “Of course I can dance, of course I can dance…I can dance, I can dance, I can dance!”
He threw his head back, laughing, and squeezed her hand. “How fitting,” he said and shook his head.
“Now… how’s that for a confidence boost?” Emilie grinned, her eyebrows raised.
He twirled her around, a smile curving his lips. “Oh, just dance, you!”
Hey guys! Thanks for the support. I hope the story will move up the list this time so that you can see that I updated. Anyway… thanks for the positive support. I’m not very familiar with 70s music, but it was fun doing research! The next chapter will be from Remus’s point of view again, and will describe what happens at Marissa’s party. ;)
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