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Chapter 2 : Dancing with Myself
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My trip near the stairs caused my aunt’s portrait to go off again - she was screaming and cursing at us as usual. I landed flat on my back, clutching the hideous umbrella stand. When I opened my eyes, Remus was looking down at me.
“If you like it so much, I’m sure Sirius will let you have it,” he said smiling. Remus’ calmness amid the shrieking portrait had a soothing effect on me. Everyone else in the house seemed to tense up when the yelling started but he leaned down, took the umbrella stand out of my arms, and offered me a hand. Once on my feet I thanked him, blushing slightly, then after checking my hair in a mirror I retreated downstairs with the others.
Molly wanted help with supper, saying dinner wouldn’t happen if one person had to bear to the brunt of the work. She accepted my offer to help with a slight look of apprehension on her kind face. I started to pour butterbeer for the eleven of us. The feeling of accomplishment at successfully pitching-in was diminished as quickly as soon as first glass fell over, spilling butterbeer and causing a domino-style crash of the glasses.
Grabbing my wand, I vanished the wasted drinks then conjured more butterbeer, allowing Ginny to pour them. Feeling a bit sheepish, I looked around and saw that Remus’ shoe seemed to squelch from being wet and an orange cat lapped some of the butterbeer from the floor. Hermione picked it up and said, “That’s not for you Crookshanks,” before shooing him out of the kitchen. Fred congratulated me on making a bigger mess than Ron, who spilled a container of noodles everywhere. George whispered something to Ginny that sounded like ‘domestically challenged’.
I sighed and changed my hair color to the vivid red of the Weasleys, smirking slightly at the look on their faces. Deficient though I was at being useful around the house, I could at least amuse myself and laugh at my follies. Hermione laughed, and so did the others. “Can you do noses like last night?” she asked eagerly as we sat down to eat. I nodded and thought of which noses to do first.
I started a large protruding nose that resembled that of Snape which caused Ron to snort derisively. Then I tried a tiny nose about the size of a bottle cap at the tip followed by a grotesquely large and gnarly nose muggles would call a witch’s nose. Out of creative noses, I did everyone’s in the room. By the time I was done, we were halfway through dinner when I did a pig snout to imitate Ron eating - it was a hoot.
After an enjoyable dinner, other Order members began to enter the dank kitchen. Dung came in, stench and all, followed at a distance by McGonagall. Molly swiftly ushered her kids and Hermione out of the room and stood out in the hallway, most likely to block them from eavesdropping again.
Moody called the meeting to order once we had all arrived. He was shooting me an occasional puzzled look with his normal eye as were a few other people. Remus put his hand on my knee, leaned in, and whispered, “Your nose.”
I felt it and let out a quiet gasp. My nose was as scarred and broken looking like Moody’s. I dropped my quill and changed it back to normal while I was bending down to pick it up. At the point where Moody said, “Assuming that Tonks did her job,” I sat up abruptly and blinked at the many eyes focused on me.
A few pregnant moments passed before I recalled what he meant and said, “My job? Yes! I did. I made a copy of it too.” I brandished an official looking letter. “I also sent one to some neighbors of the Dursleys, in case they check around.” My nerves ran high as I looked to the group for approval which came in the form of a few nods and shrugs, including a slightly appeased look from Moody. I grinned at the room but no one returned my giddiness.
Moody had extensive plans for going to the house which included staggered apparition at a nearby park, escape routes, and back-up escape routes. Once we entered the house there was debate on how to approach Harry. We couldn’t send him a letter to announce our plan as it could be intercepted or just not arrive. Dedalus Diggle suggested that we merely go in and work out what to do from there. That idea wouldn’t do for a leader as regimented as Moody. Elphias Doge suggested that Remus go up to Harry’s room and fetch him but Moody didn’t quite like that idea either. We settled on summoning him down to the living room and Remus, because he knew Harry the best, would explain the plan to him.
After coming reaching our decision, Moody delved into his explanation of our departure from Privet Drive. Molly would send when the skies were free and another one 15 minutes later when we were to takeoff. Our route back was planned to be more complex than our trip there. I was chosen to lead and carry Harry’s trunk under my broom as I had a harness that would work nicely. Kingsley looked as if he wanted to inquire as to the purpose of having a harness that size but I wasn’t keen on telling him I had once helped smuggle a dragon out of Hogwarts, so I was glad that Moody moved right into the complicated flight pattern. It sounded like we’d fly looking like a model of an atom that I once saw in a science book from my dad’s youth. We finished the plans in another half hour of combing through agonizing detail. I knew I couldn’t stay as late that night.
Yawning, I said that Scrimgeour might notice if I was dead-on-my-feet two days in a row. My departure seemed to be the signal that it was polite to leave without rushing out. Moody also said he had to go to think-over our plans. He told the group to keep the next evening open as we walked out of the basement kitchen.
Feeling curious about what else could be added to our complicated plan, I asked how he was going to revamp our plans. He gruffly replied that they needed fine-tuning but he had duty that night and would probably have a hard time getting it finished. We made it to the door and I realized that I didn’t knock over the troll-leg-of-death that seemed to have a permanent appointment with my foot. It was nice to walk with a guy that didn’t cause my feet to spaz out.
We walked down the street a ways to a spot at a nearby park where Dumbledore said it was best to use for apparition. Moody and I chitchatted about the Order, the Auror office, Harry, and retirement for an Auror. Almost to the park, I tripped over a loose brick. Moody extended a hand and helped me up.
“I still can’t believe you passed your Auror qualifications,” he stated gruffly. I glanced at him and saw the remnants of a smile on his face. He was teasing with me, which I didn’t think was in his repertoire.
“Oh bugger off, you old cod,” I said laughing. Moody let out what must have been his version of a laugh. “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow then,” I grinned at him before disapparating home.
The next day was just as interesting as the previous with the added bonus of an excited tension growing in my chest. After accidentally running into Scrimgeour twice, I settled into my desk to wait for the Dursleys to call and they confirm their attendance at the Lawn Ceremony. Sure enough, they called. “Best Kept Lawns Society,” I answered cheerily.
A pompous voice responded on the other side of the line. “Yes, this is Vernon Dursley, I-”
“Oh yes! Mr. Dursley,” I said with uncommon girlish excitement. “How can I help you?”
Dursley’s voice changed into an equally cheerful tone as he said, “I’d like to confirm attendance for Petunia, Dudley Dursley and myself.” He added in a confident voice, “We’ve been short-listed.”
I rolled my eyes and continued with this sycophantic conversation. “Yes, of course. Your yard is one of the best ones we’ve had in a while… not that I can say that ‘officially’," I laughed airily. "You’ll be dining near the stage with our other honored guests.”
Dursley rambled on for another five minutes and grilled me about his neighbors, trying to check that they weren’t invited. I assured him that the only people in the vicinity that got an invitation were people who had impeccable lawns, and his neighbors did not meet the requirements.
I went on a bit of a walk after the phone call feeling the need to unwind - that muggle was in a league of his own. Lost in my thoughts, I bumped into Arthur Weasley.
“You alright?” he asked perfunctorily.
“I would be if you’d watch where you’re going,” I responded coolly, giving a slight smile as I walked past.
Kingsley had explained to me that we were to treat other members of the Order with whom we don’t have usual interaction with polite indifference. Otherwise, people would inquire about non-related people gathering together. It all felt a bit cloak-and-dagger to me but I enjoyed playing along.
That night’s meeting wasn’t as arduous as before. Moody seemed less determined to unify everyone’s plan as he had a hard time competing with the chatter about meeting Harry. Bill Weasley chatted animatedly about Harry’s performance throughout the Triwizard Tournament. I was seated between Bill and Emmeline Vance, who didn’t seem to think tonight’s meeting worthwhile. She and Moody were talking about the previous Order and its members. As the night wound down I chatted with Bill at length about school in our days. He was a few years older than I was and we knew a lot of the same people. I couldn’t help but notice Molly giving us furtive looks while talking with Kingsley.
Slowly, the group dissipated. Moody lingered at the door with his gaze on me for a few extra seconds before he left. Bill soon departed as he had work in the morning. I started chatting with Remus and Sirius about Harry, intent on getting inside information on our target. Listening to both of them talk was entertaining – I could tell they respected Potter and quite obviously loved him.
Both gushed over him like parents gush over newborn babies which was quite charming. I was starting to get a sense of Remus’ humility and humor through the way he described teaching at Hogwarts. Remus taught Harry to cast a patronus charm, which was an impressive task for them to undertake as student and teacher.
“They didn’t really teach us the patronus in school,” I commented after Remus’ explained Harry finally mastering the spell. “I’m not sure the Defense professor knew much about them, honestly.”
“Not too many people actually want to research what feeds and repels dementors,” Remus admitted.
Sirius cut in with, “It helps if one’s father was the leading expert on non-human spirituous beings.”
Smiling demurely, Remus nodded his head in agreement. “That does tend to give one a leg up in the field.”
“My father’s expertise in muggle rock-n-roll never really helped with my studies,” I laughed.
Midnight had come and gone before I felt my eyelids get heavy with sleep. After a spectacular yawn, I announced it was time for me to leave. Sirius mangled what he thought would be a covert kick under the table, the loud thud was somewhat of a giveaway, Remus asked if I wanted company out.
I accepted his offer with a smirk at Sirius’ antics. Much to my surprise, I made it past the umbrella stand without tripping which Remus also seemed to notice and opened his mouth to comment on that fact when I tripped over Crookshanks instead. The cat ran towards a corner and hissed at me, eliciting a laugh from Remus and me.
“If it’s not the troll leg, I guess it’s something else,” I said in a voice that masked my embarrassment.
When we got to the door, I asked if he wanted to go with me to the corner. Remus agreed, grabbing his red knitted sweater and pulling it on which caused his hair to ruffle. “Knit that one yourself?” I inquired him as we set off - he did seem awfully domestic.
Remus looked at his sweater critically. “Are the sleeves uneven or something?” he wondered dryly. I threw him a sideways glance taking in the traces of a smile on his face. “I did make it,” he added with a touch of pride in his voice.
“I thought so,” I said with bravado. “Part of my Auror training was in detecting handmade sweaters and their Dark counterparts.” I chuckled quietly then stopped as it bothered me to laugh at my own jokes.
Remus played along. “Dark sweaters?” he asked with a note of interest in his voice. “Like those ones that come out around Christmas?”
I snorted, “Yes!” louder than I meant to. We fell into silence for a few minutes before I asked, “Do you think it’ll really be dangerous tomorrow? Or is Mad-Eye being Mad-Eye?” I stopped walking and faced Remus.
He looked around pensively as if there’d be an answer on one of the old brick buildings nearby. Remus always seemed to have a ‘thinking action’ when he didn’t want to answer someone right away. “There could be,” he finally said but then added, “With some luck we’ll get through it without issue.”
I raised an eyebrow. “All that planning and we’re relying on luck?” I shot Remus a grin which he returned.
“Well, luck and some highly trained witches and wizards,” he corrected himself looking around the park which was all but deserted.
“Hmm,” I murmured, fidgeting for a few moments before adding, “In that case…”
Without a thought to whether it would be desired or awkward afterwards, I put my hands on the back of Remus’ neck, pulled him close gave him a tender kiss on the lips. His hand, which seemed to be somewhat lost, found its way to my waist. I pulled away smiling after what had been, for me at least, a few delectable moments.
“That should take care of the luck part,” I said stepping backwards, thankful that the dark covered my flushed cheeks. Deciding not to allow for explanation or a redo, I disapparated, leaving Remus alone with a mildly bewildered expression.
I was so shocked by my behavior that I missed my flat by a few blocks and popped into the flat of a couple in the midst of… recreational activities. I ran out and re-disapparated, this time making it home. I hugged my pillow in bed that night losing quite a few hours of sleep analyzing my interlude with Remus and chastising myself for acting so impetuously.
With a groan, I realized that Sirius would probably find out about my spur of the moment kiss. I was sure he’d take the mickey out of me the next day. Even worse was that I didn’t know what Remus thought of the kiss. It seemed to catch him by surprise as much as it did me. I decided the whole kissing business had been fun and as much an act of loneliness as carefree flirtation. It certainly didn’t seem like much would come of it.
Updated July, 2015! I had a lot of help with editing from DumbledoresArmyOfOne on this. The chapter title and summary are from Dancing with Myself by Billy Idol.
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