Chapter 13 : To Dance Again
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I unpacked slowly, saving the music box to unpack last. Checking the door to see if anyone was watching, I took out his note again. I wouldn't admit it to Lily or Alice, but I had been carrying around his 'Merry Christmas' note for the past three days; taking moments to look at it occasionally. It was comforting; as if I were carrying a piece of him around with me.
The door creaked slightly and I turned to face it. Lily's sister Petunia was watching me; her eyes filled with spiteful malice.
"Tuney, stop bothering my friends!" Lily yelled.
Petunia rolled her eyes. "Whatever, freak!"
I tilted my head to one side uncertainly. 'Is she always like that?'
"Unfortunately. She's been like that ever since I started at Hogwarts. I'm used to it now," She shrugged and strode to the dresser in the room. "I am far more interested in this," she said, gesturing to the music box.
'Oh! That! It's from. My brother.'
"Oh, really? Norah, you are the worst liar ever." She opened the box and listened to the song. "Do you honestly expect me to believe that your brother gave you a music box that plays a song called "And I Love Her"?"
'How did you..what did..' Definitely would have stuttered had I been talking.
"I know it's from Sirius. Especially because I helped him pick it out," she smirked, eyebrows raised.
My mouth dropped open in surprise. Lily wasn't finished.
"You should tell him how much you like it at the party tomorrow," she winked slyly and left the room.
"I don't CARE if you were publically exposed. You have failed," Malfoy growled angrily.
"You should be thanking me for not blowing the entire operation. If I had proceeded, there was a considerable risk of being found out!" I threw my hands down in frustration.
Malfoy clenched his fists. "You have one more chance, Severus. One more chance to complete this initiation and join the Dark Lord."
I swallowed nervously, recognizing that if I failed again...
I didn't want to think about that.
"It wasn't overkill, right? The music box I mean," I paced around James' room, hoping he would counsel me. Ambitious expectation, I know.
"If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times. It must have been a good idea if Lily thought it was," James said, nodding his head slightly as he tossed his snitch up and caught it. He was tired of listening to me worry about the gift, with good reason. I'd been talking about it since Christmas up until now; New Years Eve. The night I would finally find out if the present was..a success.
"I suppose, mate. It's just a bit nerve wracking you know," I commented.
James rolled his eyes. "Padfoot, quit being such a girl. People will start arriving any minute. You better get your act together,"
I took a deep breath as I tightened my bowtie around my neck. "Right. Let's go Prongs. The guests and alcohol await."
James could not have had a more different home from Lily. Where hers was homely and welcoming, his was extravagant and luxurious. It was an enormous mansion, complete with a courtyard and a looming balcony that overlooked the luscious garden in the backyard. There were fireplaces in every room, including the ballroom. Yes, the ballroom.
Lily, Alice and I arrived fashionably late. To her delight, James flung the door open, bowed, and then took Lily into his arms. Alice and I got handshakes. If I didn't have anything else on my mind, it might have annoyed me.
All at once, a smooth familiar voice spoke just to the left of my right ear. "Happy New Year, everyone!" Sirius greeted us warmly. Instinctively, I turned my head to face him and found him to be much closer than I had expected. I blinked twice as if to shake the image of his unbelievably handsome face and faced forward again.
"A bit early aren't you Sirius? It's only 7:00," Alice jabbed sarcastically.
"Doesn't change the fact that it's New Years Eve though now, does it Riley?" Sirius shot back, haughtily running a hand through his dark hair.
Alice rolled her eyes at his cheekiness.
James cleared his throat. "Now, listen up you lot. I know you're all dying to break into the alcohol-" Alice and Lily giggled in delight. "-but my parents have this tradition where we all have to do this dance before the party actually starts. Basically, we will look like complete arses if we get drunk beforehand. It should be starting up soon, so be patient."
My bottom lip twitched nervously. I didn't realize that 'getting drunk' was such a major component of this party. It would be all right. Just because they wanted to drink didn't mean I had to. I took a deep breath and went to meet James' parents, hoping they would distract me from my unsettling nerves.
"You must be Norah! James has told us so much about you!" I internally scoffed; she was humoring me for sure. James wouldn't spend a minute talking about me when there was Miss Lily to discuss. I smiled and shook her hand.
"Oh Mom: she doesn't talk remember," James added in.
"Just trying to diffuse the tension," he winked playfully.
Mrs. Potter rolled her eyes. "Imagine living with him," she said to me.
Mr. Potter looked unnervingly like James, with the exception of his salt-and-pepper hair that marked his age. His smile lines on either side of his mouth crinkled when he moved his lips.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Norah," he nodded his head towards me and smiled brightly.
A saxophone could be heard warming up in the ballroom on the other side of the wall, and James' mother promptly ushered us all on to the flawlessly beautiful dance floor. James and Lily partnered up (who would have guessed?), as did Alice and Frank, who was also invited. I stood there, hoping foolishly that Sirius would approach me. Instead, I was disappointed.
Peter, who was a full head shorter than me when I was wearing heels asked me to dance with him. Discouraged though I was, I couldn't say no to him; that would just be mean-spirited. His eyes gleamed in delight and the music started up into a fast jazz number. We jived, but I would be lying if I said Peter was any good at it. He was a miserable dancer; he stepped on my feet constantly, not to mention his hands kept drifting...
All at once, a friendly but firm voice cut between us. "Don't mind if I cut in, do you Pete?" Sirius' eyes flashed.
Peter looked miserable. "No..I suppose not," he quietly grumbled before leaving the area.
"Well, then! Shall we, Norah?" Sirius asked with an undeniable gentlemanly tone. I nodded happily and he took my hand so sweetly that I nearly fell into his arms right then and there.
The band was switching beats from the previous fast jive to a slow, soulful melody.
Dancing with Sirius was completely the opposite of dancing with Peter. Sirius was a perfect gentleman; his hand never left the small of my back and his silvery eyes didn't leave mine for a moment.
"Look, I'm sorry for cutting in, but-" Horrified, I watched as my hand travelled to his lips where I rested two fingers as a signal for him to stop talking. Was I under the Imperious curse? It didn't feel like it. He smiled gloriously, and brought me closer to him.
Cautiously, I rested my head on his shoulder and gazed up at the stars in the bewitched sky-ceiling that reminded me so much of Hogwarts.
"You're beautiful," Sirius whispered in my ear. I had to stop myself from kissing him on the neck that was so tantalizingly close to my lips. Really now, this was a ballroom, not a muggle mosh pit. Instead, I pathetically smiled into his shoulder and hoped he would feel it.
After that last dance, Mr. and Mrs. Potter initiated the party, and James ushered all of us to his basement, which largely resembled one of those muggle bachelor pads. There was a pool table, a hot tub, and well stocked bar. James immediately took on the role of bartender.
"Firewhiskey, anyone? I'm sorry, did I say anyone? What I meant was...firewhiskey for EVERYONE!" Everyone with the exception of me cheered along with him.
Alice was the lightweight. After a single glass, she was tipsy. I could tell she was starting to get drunk when she asked me if I would buy her a Swedish hippogriff. I politely refused. At one point, Lily fell into the hot tub and James had to pull her out. That was when I left to hide in the closet, not wanting to be a part of any more drunk encounters.
I wiped my forehead of gleaming sweat, every minute thinking about how much I wanted to go back to Lily's house. Suddenly, the door creaked open and I jumped at the sound.
It was Peter. Finally! Someone had wondered where I'd gone.
I was wrong. Very wrong.
Peter didn't open the door to let me out, he came into the closet and shut the door behind him.
"Heyy hey. Norah..you're pr..pretty perfffect," he slurred. He looked odd. I mean he was drunk, but even so there was something almost sinister about his eyes. Then out of nowhere, he shoved me by my waist into the wall which made a loud clunk and began to kiss me. Suddenly, his photos of me in Alice's scrapbook all made sense. Instinctively I shoved him off and let out a short yelp, but I found myself frozen immediately afterwards; petrified.
At the same time, James flung the closet door open. "Heyyyy! What are, whaatttareyou guys DOING?" Peter was yanked out of the closet by Sirius and Remus. I fell to the ground; silent tears fell down my cheeks as I began to breathe again. They must have heard something distressful. Lily and Alice came to my aid (drunk though they were) and I could see James and Sirius drunkenly pointing and yelling at Peter.
I broke down sobbing in Lily's arms, desperately wanting to leave the party.
Author's Note: Thanks for reading! The song I had in mind for the slow and soulful melody played at the New Year's Party is called Si Tu Vois Ma Mere; you can look it up on youtube; it was also in the movie Midnight in Paris.
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