Chapter 4 : With Flying Feet
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Lyrics to ‘You Sexy Thing’ belong to Hot Chocolate. The song 'Could It Be Magic' was a big hit in 1976, the year in which this story is set. It's sung by Barry Manilow, and I highly recommend it!
No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
To chase the glowing hours with flying feet.
- Lord Byron
Wondering what he’d gotten himself into, Remus hoisted his trousers up and struggled with the zipper. A birthday party? Dancing? He bit on his lip and studied his reflection. It wasn’t fair, he thought sulkily – Emilie’s power over him. He was quite positive that, with a single smile, she could convince him to throw himself of Britain’s highest building.
He blew out a long, deep sigh. His hair was still wet from his shower; it stuck out with a messiness that could rival that of James’s hair. In an attempt to flatten it, Remus combed it with his fingers.
It took him a moment to realize someone had knocked on the front door, and when he did, mild panic surged through him. Emilie? Already? A quick glance on the clock told him that she was only two minutes early, which meant that he was running late. He threw on the old, white shirt he’d flung over his chair yesterday evening, struggling with the sleeves as he hurried out of his room.
His feet hit the last two steps of the stairs, just as his mother opened the door. “Hello, dear,” she said, and Remus squeezed his eyes shut in despair. “Can I help you?”
He opened his eyes just in time to see Emilie reply. “Hello, Mrs. Lupin,” she said, a sweet smile on her lips. “I’m here to pick up Remus?”
“Oh, do come in, love,” his mother said, her voice pleasant as she stepped aside to let Emilie enter. “You must be Francis’s daughter.”
Emilie nodded, her head slightly tilted. She looked beautiful, Remus noticed, her curls held up by a large, red clip. Sticking out her hand, she gave his mother the kind of smile that had gotten Remus in this mess to begin with. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Lupin.”
“Same here, dear,” his mother smiled widely as she shook Emilie’s hand. “My, Remus never mentioned you were this lovely!”
Remus wasn’t quite sure, but he thought he could see Emilie blush, and he decided that it was time to interfere. Gathering all the Gryffindor courage he had in him, he stepped down the stairs and walked into the hallway.
“Oh, there he is,” his mother said, grinning as she gave him an all-too-obvious wink. “Remus, dear, you never told me what a lovely young girl Emilie is!”
Emilie’s blush intensified. Remus cleared his throat and looked at his feet.
After a nervous cough, Emilie regained her self-confidence. “You’re not wearing that tonight, are you?” she asked him teasingly, staring at his grass-stained T-shirt.
“Eh,” Remus managed to get out, his cheeks a dark shade of red, “no. I’m actually running a little late.”
Emilie smiled. “That’s all right. We’ll simply show up fashionably late.”
His mother was not so forgiving, however. “Well, hurry up then, Remus,” she said, glaring. “You can’t keep a lady waiting!” She then turned to Emilie, her expression softening. “Now, dear, would you like a cup of tea?”
“No!” Remus exclaimed, mildly shocked. He could just imagine his mother having tea with Emilie, telling her his childhood stories and – quite possibly – scaring Emilie away with all kinds of magical terms and artefacts. “I mean,” he continued lamely, “I ehm… need her to help me… choose a shirt.”
Emilie gracefully arched an eyebrow, and even his mother looked sceptic. “All right then,” his mother said slowly, giving him a suspicious look. “But you’re leaving your bedroom door open, mister.”
“Yes, mum,” he said, mortified, his cheeks aflame. “Come on, Emilie.”
He almost ran up the stairs, desperate to get away from his mother. As he walked into his room, he hastily shoved a dirty pair of jeans underneath his bed and turned around, smiling apologetically at Emilie. “Sorry I’m late. I just…”
“Didn’t really want to go?” Emilie finished his sentence, her eyebrows raised.
“No, that’s not…” Remus started to protest, but trailed off when he saw her incredulous look. “Well… yes," he admitted. "But that’s not why I’m late. I just lost track of the time.”
She laughed, looking around his room. “That’s quite all right,” she said. “I don’t mind. Your mum seems nice… and your room is interesting.”
Remus grimaced, and he quickly stuffed some of his school books into his nightstand – he wasn’t sure he’d be able to explain having a copy of ‘The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 6)’ lying around.
“Nice room,” Emilie said, placing her hands on her hips. She moved over to his desk, studying the collection of Muggle books piled up there. “She’s very pretty,” she commented a moment later, her eyes on a picture of him and Lily.
Remus smiled, remembering how Lily had practically forced him to go on the picture with her. “Yes, she is, isn’t she?”
Emilie looked at him over her shoulder, a small smile upon her lips. “Is she your girlfriend?”
He almost laughed out loud. “Heavens, no. James would hex –” he bit his lip, searching for another way to express himself, “…punch the daylights out of anyone brave enough - or foolish enough, really - to ask her out.”
Smiling, she leaned back against his desk. “Nice,” she commented sardonically. “I bet she just loves that.”
“He’s fancied her for years,” Remus explained, sitting down on his bed, “but he goes about it all wrong.” He watched as Emilie wandered over to the other end of his desk, and was very glad that he hadn’t put up any of his Quidditch posters yet.
As she stepped into the light of his lamp, Remus noticed that she was still wearing her flip-flops. She had chosen to wear a knee-long skirt and a bright red top tonight, however. “You ehm…” he stammered, “you look very lovely tonight.”
He resisted the urge to smack himself over the head; he had sounded just like his mother!
A blush crept up Emilie’s cheeks. “Thanks,” she smiled, placing her hands in her lap as she sat down next to him, her fingers straightening her skirt’s colourful flower-motif. “Let’s find you something to wear as well, shall we?”
She stood up again and walked over to his wardrobe, rummaging through his clothes. “Interesting,” she said, smiling curiously as she pulled out one of his Hogwarts robes. “Do you actually wear this?”
“Well... yes. It’s a bit of an old-fashioned school,” Remus explained, moving to stand next to her. He pulled his bottom lip between his teeth, hoping she wouldn’t notice the cauldron stashed away in the darkest corner of his wardrobe.
“I see,” she said. “Now… did you really want me to choose a shirt, or…?”
Remus scratched his eyebrow, an abashed grin upon his lip. “Not really,” he confessed. “It’s just that my mum… well, she can be very intimidating at times.”
Letting out an amused snort, Emilie pushed one of his shirts into his hand. “She seemed like a very nice woman to me… but yes, I get your point. Sometimes, it’s as if mothers exist for the sole purpose of embarrassment.”
He smiled, taking his shirt from her. It was a dark shade of blue, its buttons tiny white squares.
“Brings out your eyes,” Emilie said, winking. “I bet you’ll look fetching in it.”
He lowered his gaze to the shirt as he unbuttoned it, his cheeks burning. When he undid the very last button, she was still smiling at him, and he uncomfortably cleared his throat. He couldn’t very well change in front of her, now could he? “Could you… maybe…” he gestured for her to turn around.
“Oh!” Emilie exclaimed, and he was grateful for the rosy blush kissing her cheeks – at least he wasn’t the only one embarrassed by the situation. “I’m sorry,” she muttered, and turned around.
He quickly pulled his T-shirt over his head and stuck his arms in the shirt's sleeves, shooting anxious glances at Emilie’s back. When he was done, he cleared his throat again.
She turned around, clapping in her hands the second she saw him. “Very fetching, indeed,” she complimented him, the tone of her voice playful. Remus wasn’t quite sure how she did it, but she got him blushing again. “Let’s see,” she said, raising her hands to the top button of his shirt.
He inhaled nervously, distressed by the nearness of her. Instead of calming him, however, the gasp only served to excite him further, for he had breathed in the sweet fragrance of Emilie’s perfume.
“There,” she said, unbuttoning his shirt's top button and loosening his collar. Her fingers brushed briefly over the skin of his neck, her touch feather-light. Remus’s breath hitched in his throat, and he bit his lip, thinking of the scar that had to be showing by now.
When she finally stepped away from him, he fought to regain his control. “That’s better,” she said. “You look smashing.”
He fumbled with his collar, but decided to leave it as it was – she’d already seen the scar, anyway. “Thank you,” he managed to get out, his voice hoarse.
Smiling, she pushed a loose curl behind her ear. “No problem,” she said. With a mischievous grin, she added, “I can’t say that my motivations were all that honourable.”
The loud tones of Elton John’s ‘Island Girl’ drifted through the sweet summer air. A number of people had already gathered around several snack-laden tables, and several others were dancing underneath the large number of lampions dangling from the pergola.
“It looks quite nice,” Emilie commented quietly, observing the garden.
Remus nodded slowly, noticing the familiar faces of the people he had gone to primary school with. It had been a while since he had last seen most of them.
“Remus! Emilie! You made it!”
From the corner of his eye, Remus noticed Emilie rolling her eyes.
“Hey Marissa,” Emilie greeted Marissa, returning the girl's hug only briefly. “Happy birthday.” She handed her a tiny, carefully wrapped present.
Marissa smiled widely. “Thanks, Em.” She tore at the wrapping paper with impatient fingers, and opened the small box. “Oh!” she gasped, “A mood ring! Swell! Thank you!” And she hugged Emilie again, oblivious to the reluctance with which Emilie returned the hug.
“You’re welcome,” Emilie said after having been released by Marissa.
Marissa then smiled at Remus and hugged him so tightly that, for a moment, he feared she’d never let go. “Happy birthday,” he breathed out, handing her his present. “I hope you’ll like it.”
She smiled up at him from underneath her eyelashes. “I’m sure I will.” She carefully removed the wrapping paper, revealing a hardbound copy of ‘Oliver Twist’. “Oh, thanks, Remus,” she said, smiling brightly, but Remus was certain he’d seen a look of disappointment dart across her face.
“I ehm… I hope you like Dickens,” he said uncomfortably, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his jeans.
“Yes, yes,” she smiled. “I do. Thanks.” She reached up and kissed him on his cheek. Remus caught Emilie smirking at him, and he glared briefly at her. “Well,” Marissa continued, conjuring her usual, ear-to-ear smile back upon her face, “if you want something to drink or eat, the snack tables are over there.” She gestured vaguely at the throng of people in front of the snack-tables. “Have fun!”
When Marissa had left, Emilie breathed out a loud sigh of relief and rolled her eyes.
“You don’t like her very much, do you?” Remus asked, laughing.
Emilie’s face turned serious again. “Marissa?”
“I suppose I don’t,” she admitted. “She’s so… irritatingly perfect. Always smiling. And, not to mention, a major bore.”
Remus gave her a half-smile. “What about me?” he asked her uncertainly. “Am I a bore, too?” He was well aware of the fact that he was less daring and less exciting than, for instance, James and Sirius were.
Her lips twitched briefly, and she placed her hand upon his arm. “Far from it,” she reassured him, smiling gently. “You’ve saved me from complete and utter boredom, remember? What I meant is… Marissa can get super-excited over absolutely nothing.” Emilie scrunched up her nose in distaste. “And that’s annoying.”
Unable to suppress a smile, he nodded. That sounded just like the Marissa he’d gone to primary school with. “Seems like you’ve got her all figured out.”
As they wandered towards the snack-tables, the fabric of Emilie’s skirt brushed against his hand, and his eyes fluttered shut briefly. “So tell me, Remus… what do you think of her?”
For the second time that evening, Remus could've sworn Emilie's voice had been tinged with jealousy. Remus felt his heart jump. “Hm,” he said slowly, looking for the right words to describe Marissa. “I’m not sure. She’s very nice, but… well… I think you pointed out her weaker points quite accurately.”
“She fancies you,” Emilie stated matter-of-factly. She looked up at him curiously, awaiting his reaction.
Remus felt himself blush. “What made you say that?”
“It’s true,” she told him, helping herself to a glass of coke. “My dad said she’s crazy about you.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Did he now?” Shaking his head, he filled his own glass with orange juice. “Why would your father know who Marissa fancies?”
Emilie cocked her head to the side. “He’s dating Marissa’s mum, Gaby. It’s quite sickening, really.” Her face momentarily clouded, and he regretted bringing the subject up. “It’s always ‘Gaby this…’ and ‘Gaby told me that…’ or ‘I heard from Gaby…’ It's enough to drive any sane person absolutely mad.”
Nodding, Remus met her eyes. “You’re jealous of her,” he concluded quietly.
“Of Marissa?” Emilie asked, surprised. “Or Gaby?”
He shrugged, giving her a gentle smile. “Both, I suppose.”
Tapping her fingers against her glass, she gave her head a slow nod. “I guess I am jealous. I mean… my dad’s either at work or at Gaby’s.” Her gaze crossed his briefly, before she raised it to the star-sprinkled sky. “It’s… it’s just not very fair, you know? I’m his daughter. He’s my dad. My dad.”
He nodded, and touched her arm lightly. “It’s only normal that you’re jealous. I’d be jealous as well.” Forgetting all about his nervousness, he took her hand into his. “Dance with me?”
A smile slipped upon her lips, her moment of self-reflection far behind her. She lowered her glass to the table and gently squeezed his hand. “I thought you’d never ask.”
They danced on quite a number of songs, and Remus mainly enjoyed having Emilie so close to him. He could smell whiffs of her perfume at times – a sweet, flowery scent – and when he closed his eyes, he could imagine having her in his arms, dancing on slower songs.
He opened his eyes. “Hmm?”
Emilie tilted her head slightly, her large, brown eyes staring up at him. “I’m sorry if I pushed you so hard yesterday.” She lowered her gaze, a light blush upon her cheeks. “I knew you didn’t want to go… and still I told Marissa we’d come.”
Giving her a lopsided grin, he spun her around. “Don’t worry,” he told her, smiling down at her. “I’m having a good time. Sometimes I just need a push in the right direction.”
“Still…” Emilie mused, her eyes a little sad. “I shouldn’t have pressed you into coming.”
“Honestly,” Remus insisted, “It's all right. I’m used to it.” He fleetingly thought of James and Sirius, and grinned.
Emilie smiled weakly, dropped his hand and brushed a strand of hair out of her face. “Do you want to go for a drink?”
He felt his heart sink. Would her regrets about yesterday ruin tonight? His anxious mind, however, was quickly put to rest: Emilie suddenly turned around, a teasing grin on her face as she sung along to the song being played. “I believe in miracles… where are you from?… you sexy thing!”
Blushing furiously as she placed her hands upon his shoulders and put extra emphasis on the last couple of words, Remus ignored her teasing eyes and followed her to the snack-tables.
Tonight was going to be a long night.
Emilie's head moved on the music's rhythm, her curls escaping from the red clip, flying about. A long night, he thought with a smile, but a good one.
“In Scotland, huh. Nice,” Timothy said, nodding in approval.
Remus shifted uneasily under the stares of the people he had gone to primary school with. He wasn’t used to this much attention.
“So…” Anna began, and Remus simply knew that she was going to ask what all of them were dying to know. “If you don’t mind me asking… what happened to your face?”
“I ehm… I had an accident,” he lied, ill at ease. He stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jeans, and balled them into fists, pressings his nails down into the palms of his hands. “I don’t really like to talk about it,” he added, and Anna and Timothy gave him sympathetic and understanding looks.
Soon after, the crowd of people surrounding him dispersed a little, and he caught sight of Emilie again, sitting on a table. She smiled sweetly at him, and he felt his heart leap.
“Let’s dance,” she said, placing her hand into his as she slid off the table. “I love this song.”
The beginning notes of a slow song rang through the air, and Remus blushed. “Do I…” he gestured at her shoulders and waist. “Should I hold you?”
Emilie peered up at him from underneath her lashes. “Do you want to?”
His cheeks grew even hotter. “Yes?” he tried, his throat dry.
Placing one hand upon his shoulders, she pulled him a bit closer. He hesitated for a moment. “On my waist,” she smiled when it was obvious he wasn’t certain of what to do. He tentatively put his hand upon her waist, just above the gentle swelling of her hip.
He could feel the movement of Emilie’s slow swaying, and he closed his eyes, his body on fire. She brought their joined hands between them and stepped a little closer to him. Her body brushed lightly against his with every move she made, and her fingers gently moved over the skin of his neck, her touch feather-light. It was the most exquisite torture Remus had ever endured.
Her top moved lightly, and suddenly, there was bare skin underneath his fingers. He gulped, fighting for self-control as his hands traced the edges of her top. “This is a good song,” he commented, his voice breaking.
“The latest Barry Manilow,” she told him, “Could It Be Magic.” Remus nodded nervously, hoping that she couldn’t feel how sweaty the palms of his hands were. Should he kiss her? Did she want him to kiss her?
He made a small misstep and stumbled forward. Giggling a little, she caught his fall.
“Sorry,” he mumbled, embarrassed.
She giggled again. “Don’t be,” she whispered, and Remus leaned a bit closer to her. Her curls caressed his cheek lightly, and he tilted his head a little, smelling her shampoo – the sweet scent of cinnamon and apple. A heavy feeling rose to his chest, and he closed his eyes, deciding to let the feeling wash over him.
There was no doubt about it, he thought idly; this was magic.
The song was drawing near its end, and Remus reluctantly felt Emilie pull back. Opening his eyes, he found her looking up at him.
“Remus…” she began, a hint of uncertainty in her voice. “I… I’m…” She trailed off hesitantly, giving his hand a light squeeze.
Remus wondered once more whether or not she expected him to kiss her. What would happen if he did, and she only wanted to be friends? What if he messed up? “I’m really glad we went,” she finally said, an insecure smile upon her lips. Her lips… he thought distractedly, glancing at them. Was she wearing lip-gloss?
Remus nodded, bringing his eyes back to hers. “So am I,” he said, still at struggle with himself – should he? He fought to control his desires; it was safer to wait, he decided, to wait and be certain she wanted the same.
For a second, it seemed as though Emilie wanted to say something else, but she smiled and moved closer to him again, laying her head against his shoulder. He tensed slightly as he felt her breath skim over the skin of his neck. It felt too good, having her in his arms, and he was convinced that it wouldn’t last. The song faded into another song, and he slowly raised his gaze to the evening sky.
The moon was almost full.
Thank you so much for all your reviews! I really appreciate the time you spend writing them. It's also very reassuring to me... at least I'm not writing *complete* crap. So anyway... thanks. It means a lot to me.
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