James wanted to leave to go search for Lily and apologize, but Sirius persuaded him to wait it out. What Sirius did not have in mind was James sitting and drumming his fingers against his knee anxiously for a little less than five minutes before hopping up and dashing out the door.
“Prongs is a crazy bloke, absolutely smitten.” Sirius joked, pointing over his shoulder where James had just exited. “Don’t know why he lets a bird be the end-all be-all for him.”
He stood up and walked towards the kitchen, returning with a bag of crisps. Passing the bag to Peter, he asked, “So Wormtail, how’d it go with your lady friend last night?”
“Pretty well, I thought, until we were so rudely interrupted.”
“Lousy Deatheaters.” Sirius said, somehow between a mouth full of crisps.
Peter laughed and Sirius poked fun at him for wooing an older witch while I zoned out, staring at Remus and trying to figure out, well, everything. He still had the newspaper up, shielding himself from entering the conversation. I tried to mentally calculate how low I could whisper so that only Remus could hear.
Sirius interrupted my train of thought, “Whoa, Holly, what’s got your brain in a knot? You look like you’re trying to find ways around Gamp’s Laws.”
“Oi, Moony, whats a muggle equivalent to Gamp’s Law? Wormtail - did you take muggle studies?”
Peter shrugged while I heard Remus mutter something about Einstein. Sirius must not have heard him because he stood up and snatched the Daily Prophet from Remus’ hands. “Hey there, Moony, surprised you don’t have ink on your nose.”
Remus frowned but didn’t reply. Sirius continued, “You’ve been hiding behind this all morning. And ignoring us to boot.”
“Fine, the muggle equivalent to something like Gamp’s Law might be Einstein’s theories or Newton’s Laws. Yes, I agree, the woman Pete was dancing with was at least 35. No, Sirius, you could not have landed both of those woman last night.”
Remus smiled cheekily and Sirius chucked the bag of crisps at him. “Oh, come on!”
Taking a bite, Remus continued to mockingly stare down Sirius, who sat back down, “Well, at least we know you were somewhat a part of our conversation.”
“I figured you were just hungover, Moony.”
“Really, Wormtail? He may be perpetually tired, but I don’t think I’ve encountered hungover Moony more than I can count on one hand.”
Peter protested Sirius’ reaction, “But you saw him last night, tearing up the dancefloor. You were drunk!” He pointed directly at Remus with the last declaration.
Remus stood up and set the bag on the table, “Why does everyone assume I was intoxicated?” He asked with annoyance, making deliberate eye contact with me then continued walking towards the kitchen.
Once he was out of the living area, both Sirius and Peter turned to look at me, with amused and curious looks on their faces.
I felt the flush creeping up my face and I immediately turned to look out the window, trying to avoid their gaze.
“Well, if you won’t talk to us, Moony, we’ll just have to ask Holly.” Sirius and Peter turned to face me expectantly.
“I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“I find that hard to believe, Holly, since you are still looking out the window and refusing to look at us.”
I turned to face them, “You’re making a big deal out of something silly, Sirius.”
“It couldn’t have been silly if it required a silencing charm on all of your walls for you and Lily to discuss it.”
Peter was looking back and forth between us, as Sirius asked a volley of questions such as, “What were you talking about?” “What was Lily saying, then?” “Were you telling secrets?” “Well why can’t we know then?” “Remus knows what’s going on, doesn’t he?” to which I responded negatively to all but the last, because Remus had returned to the group of chairs and responded before I could.
“I have not a clue.” He sat down and put his feet up on the table, “I do think that the issue from behind the door was related to Lily’s living situation, right?” He shot me a pointed look.
“Oh, of course,” I tried not to stutter, “But her and James seem to have bigger things to figure out now.”
Everyone laughed and the topic of conversation was thankfully changed to if this affected their bets made during their sixth year on when James and Lily would get married. Apparently a professor or two had entered in on it along with many of the students. The pool ranged from immediately following graduation (unfortunately for some girls the year below them) all the way to never (a hopeful girl from another house). Incidentally, this had started all sorts of strings of bets on the post-Hogwarts lives of the students.
While the boys discussed whether they should check in on some of their bets, I noticed that Remus remained quiet still. I finally caught his eye and offered a smile and did my best to softly say that we should talk later. He nodded but remained a spectator to the conversation, which I even joined, asking what odds were placed on them.
Peter rambled off a litany of speculations while Sirius and Remus piped in comments, “How long we’d stay friends,”
“Forever.” Sirius said matter-of-factly.
“Who among us was most likely to end up in Azkaban.”
“I was in the lead, believe it or not.” Sirius laughed while Remus explained, “Wizard’s prison.”
I gasped and Sirius continued laughing, “Clearly, they thought that what I did to end up in detention was much worse than these other fools,” gesturing at the other boys.
Peter continued, “Or because all your free time was spent in detention. Hmm... what else, when Lily would get pregnant was one, right?”
Sirius’ laugh turned to a bellow, “Yes! I think all the bets were either immediately after graduation or never.” When he saw my confusion, he explained that James kept any and all potential love interests of Lily far away in a almost territorial fashion. Those that believed James and Lily would stay together thought a child was inevitable, but those that believed Lily would dump him thought that James would continue to ward off any other suitors. “Merely gossip and speculation passed around the halls of Hogwarts,” Peter added.
The conversation picked up and Remus finally joined in more as they discussed the accuracy of the bets on who would be James’ best man in the inevitable wedding of Lily and James (overwhelmingly Sirius) and whether they’d continue hexing Slytherins (obviously yes, if death eathers count as Slytherins). The conversation skidded to a halt though when Peter brought up the question of who would be the most employable of the four, he trailed off as he finished the statement, looking towards his hands. Sirius looked awkwardly towards Remus who waved his hand in a ‘don’t worry’ fashion. I looked towards them each for an explanation. Peter rambled out, “Well, obviously none of us are working, but the general consensus was that the only one who could impress someone enough to be hired and have the work ethic to not get fired was Remus.”
“But seeing as my condition is one that is mandatory to disclose on an application, I didn’t even have the chance to prove that one right.” Remus interrupted.
We ate supper while they continued talking about other members of their year. I listened but didn’t participate, instead wondering where my friends had ended up and what they would have thought would become of me. Being the homebody that I was, I’m sure no one expected me to leave town. They probably assumed that I would continue nannying.
I was absent mindedly pushing vegetables around my plate when fingers snapped in front of my face. I jerked to attention and Sirius and Peter laughed. “Welcome back to Earth, Holly, wanted to let you know we’re leaving.”
I scowled but jokingly replied, “Oh sure, eat and run, I get it.”
They waved goodbyes and after the door was closed I turned to face Remus. I had spent dinner wondering what I should say to him. Decision made, I spoke up, “So... I think that you owe me some dance lessons.” Remus didn’t respond, just waited for me to continue, “Well, you’re quite terrific... and I want to be able to keep up with you...”
It may have only been a second, but waiting for him to respond was agonizing. I really didn’t want him to be upset with me, and I had thought that we had reconciled, somewhat, this morning, but given his reticence today, maybe not.
His response wasn’t verbal. Instead he stepped forward. I froze where I was, wondering if his intentions were similar to last night. When he reached where I was standing, I looked up, trying to figure out just how I would go about, well, this. When my eyes met his, I noticed a glint in them. Before I could process what he was thinking I realized he was still walking. Past me.
I spun around to see him putting a record on the gramophone that had always remained silent in the corner. When he arranged the needle and it burst into sound, Remus stepped forward, hand extended.
I smiled, this was what I was more comfortable with. I accepted his hand and he pulled me to about an arms length apart, watching as I mimicked his steps. While we moved he kept talking, “You’ve got a sense of rhythm and you pick up quickly... The trick is remembering and most importantly, reacting to your lead- which is me.” He firmly put barely pushed my right hand and I did my best to keep up with him as we each stepped backwards, “That is called a rock step,” I nodded and we kept towards the beat of the upbeat swing.
He led me through the basic steps and made me practice on my own while critiquing my movements. It was fun to see him in teacher mode. After I promised to work on this when he wasn’t here, Remus agreed to show me more of the turns we had done the night before. After whipping through several turns and just dancing with him for a song, Remus spoke again. This time it wasn’t in instructor mode. “One of the main aspects, is not looking at your feet,” He put a finger under my chin and gently raised my face towards his, “but to look into your partners eyes.”
Despite being instruction, he didn’t sound like he had before when he had been telling me to bend my knees more or maintaining my hold. I nodded and did my best to look at our feet, but I just couldn’t maintain eye contact and instead looked just over his shoulder. When the record stopped, and the needle slipped to a soft buzz, we stopped dancing. I still felt that Remus and I had unfinished business though, so I went into the kitchen and asked if he wanted any tea. He didn’t respond so when I turned to ask again, I jumped to see Remus standing there. Walking forward and turning on the stove, he finally spoke like normal, “I think we’re well enough into autumn to justify hot chocolate, don’t you?”
Sitting at the kitchen table, I got Remus to talk about his days filling in as a partner for the students at his mom’s studio. I nearly snorted out my most recent sip when he detailed how his mom had to put spells on his shoes because of how often he was trod upon. There was something I was still curious about.
“Remus, why did your mother work as a dance instructor if she was a witch?”
“Well, before finding out she was a witch, my mum danced ballet. She had a few different jobs, before I was born, but my father still always took her out to dancehalls. Then when we came to live out here, I think she felt a little cooped up so she went to work as an instructor at the studio.”
I nodded as he spoke and he stepped out of the room to fetch a frame from his shelf. The picture was of his parents, his mother broadly smiling while looking forward and his father looking at her with a subtle, yet more meaningful smile, both kicking their right legs forward. “It doesn’t move? Like your others?”
Remus shook his head and took the frame back, “No, a muggle friend of theirs developed it for them. They liked it so much as it was they didn’t magick it.”
I semi-followed Remus towards his room where he put the photo back on one of the higher shelves. “I prefer the still picture, too... It has more - feeling to it.”
Remus smiled and after a pause, “Heading to sleep, soon?”
“Yeah.” I walked a little further away, “Will you be back to ‘work’ again tomorrow?”
He nodded, so I continued, “Well, I’ll practice those steps, and you can show me more whenever you get home?”
“Gladly.” His smile stayed small, but it reached his eyes all the same, “Goodnight, Holly.”