Chapter 4 : Dancing in the Dark
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You can’t start a fire
You can’t start a fire without a spark
This gun’s for hire
Even if we’re just dancing in the dark
~ Dancing In The Dark ~ Bruce Springsteen ~
Midway through September, the first Hogsmeade visit was announced, and the usual excited flurry followed. The morning of said notice being posted, I could barely get through the Ravenclaw common room due to the crowd surrounding the noticeboard. I sighed, nudging a few over-excited third years out of the way. It was Saturday, and I hadn’t appreciated being shaken awake by Perry, who informed me of the announcement. She loved Hogsmeade, perhaps a little bit too much- but then again, she nearly always had a date on a Hogsmeade weekend, and had done since our first visit there in third year. Usually, I ended up on my own in the village, browsing the shops while Alice had romantic strolls with Frank and Perry was in Madame Puddifoots.
“I think you should ask Remus.” Perry said matter-of-factly, as we exited the common room on our way down to breakfast. Neither of us had a clue where Alice was, but Saturday was usually the one morning she woke up early, so she could go and breakfast by the lake with Frank. It was a tradition they’d kept up without fail for years, excluding last year when Frank was in the hospital wing following being hit by a Bludger during the match against Slytherin.
“What?” I pretended to be completely ignorant of what she was talking about. I hadn’t told her or anyone for that matter about my new-found crush on Remus Lupin, and I didn’t intend to, either.
“Oh come on, you’ve been giving each other goo-goo eyes across the Great Hall every meal time for the past fortnight.” Perry said. “Just ask him!”
“Uh, I don’t give goo-goo eyes.” I insisted. “Besides, I’m not even going to Hogsmeade.”
“What? Why?” Perry, of course, couldn’t conceive of not going to Hogsmeade at every opportunity.
“To be honest, being on your own and resisting the urge to hex third years out the way is harder than you might think.” I said as we descended the staircase.
“Which is why you should ask Remus!”
“Perry, I don’t know what to tell you, but I’m not going to ask Remus Lupin to-“
“-You’re not going to ask Remus Lupin to what?” We both jumped about a foot in the air as Sirius called down from behind us. I turned to look back up the stairs at Sirius, only in doing so, I forgot to jump the trick stair, and my foot sunk into it painfully. He seemed to find this hilarious and spent a good two minutes laughing before pulling me out. When he did, I was red in the face and even more irritable than before. “Sorry, Erin.” He said when he saw my facial expression. “What was that you were saying about Remus?”
I sighed as we began to walk again. I saw Perry raise an eyebrow at me expectantly. “I’m not going to ask him for the answers to our Arithmency homework. I’m not a cheat.” This time, both of Perry’s eyebrows went up.
“Oh. Well, he wouldn’t mind, we get the answers to everything off old Moony.” Sirius grinned.
“What do your nicknames mean?” Perry suddenly asked. That was random. I’d never given the Marauders’ nicknames for each other much thought before- Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs just seemed like a dumb boy thing. Sirius looked stumped by Perry’s question.
“Er,” He said, “I don’t really remember.” I had a feeling he was lying, but I couldn’t my finger on why I thought that. “We came up with them really early on in first year.”
“Oh.” Perry said thoughtfully. “Wormtail and Padfoot both seem like animal names, but I don’t really get Moony or Prongs.” She said. I noticed that Sirius was beginning to look extremely uncomfortable.
“Well, like I said, I don’t really remember. Erin, have you written that Runes essay?” He changed the subject quickly. This just made me curious- whereas before, I’d never cared why they called each other what they did.
“Yes, I finished it already.” I answered.
“What? Already? I haven’t even started the plan yet.”
“Well, I am a Ravenclaw.” I joked. “It’s due Monday morning though, so you should get it done.” There was an awkward silence following this, and I think it was because all three of us knew that Sirius had changed the subject on purpose to escape questioning about the nicknames. When we reached the Great Hall, Perry and I departed for the Ravenclaw table, whilst Sirius kept going to the other side of the hall for the Gryffindor equivalent. I saw him sit beside Lily Evans.
“So.” Perry said matter-of-factly, as she helped herself to bacon and eggs.
“So what?” I asked.
“I thought this year was supposed to be a year of firsts for you?”
“It is.” I shrugged, pouring myself some strong coffee.
“So why not have the Hogsmeade trip be your first date?” Perry had me on this one, and she knew it from the way she was smirking over at me. I glared at her and she merely tilted her head to the side, looking satisfied as I searched around for excuses.
“But- but isn’t the boy supposed to ask?” I questioned, though I really wasn’t that old fashioned- these were the 1970s, after all, not the 1870s. Perry just looked at me in a way that reminded me of that fact- that I was a modern woman and didn’t really believe the notion. “Oh, Perry, how in Merlin’s name am I supposed to ask him? I mean, I’ve never done that before. I don’t even know what you do on a date.”
“Well, I can help you out there. I’ll be going out with Sirius at the same time, so we can just make sure we go to the same place and I can keep an eye on you.” She smiled brightly.
“So, you asked him- or he asked you?” I enquired.
“Not yet.” She said, still grinning, “But he will.” This, I couldn’t deny. Those two were always flirting and eyeing each other up, to the point where it was irritating.
“Okay.” I breathed.
“So you’ll ask Remus?”
“I don’t know.”
“Did I hear that right?” Winnie Corner interrupted at that moment as she was passing us on the way to her seat. “You’re asking Remus Lupin to Hogsmeade? The Marauder?”
“You have a problem with that?” Perry fired back, always much feistier than I’d ever been.
“Well, I can’t imagine why he’d want to go with Erin.” She said derisively. “He’s out of her league. But good luck, I suppose.” She laughed meanly before stalking off. I could feel myself going red.
“Just ignore her, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” Perry said confidently, but I had a very bad feeling about this.
“She’s going to tell him.” I said.
“Well, even more reason to ask him before she gets the chance.”
“I thought you were on my side!”
“I am!” Perry cried, “I just want you to be happy. And I know you fancy the pants off of Remus- you can’t let Winnie Corner ruin your chances.”
I felt an idiot. I was lurking behind some shelves in the library, watching Remus working. He looked completely at peace with the world among all these books, and it occurred to me that he would’ve fit right in as a Ravenclaw. How could I just ask him? My palms were sweating as I thought about it. I couldn’t do this. I would just not ask and then say that Winnie was making up the conversation she’d overheard between me and Perry. It definitely seemed easier to lie than to ask Remus out, anyway. I was just turning away when I spotted Winnie. She hadn’t seen me, but she was making a beeline for Remus across the library.
Before I knew it, I was sliding out the chair across from him and sitting down. He looked up at me, his gold eyes slightly wide in surprise.
“Hi.” He said.
“Hey. Is that the Arithmency work?” I asked, picking up a book from the stack Remus had in front of him. He nodded. I slid my wand out from up my sleeve and tapped the book cover, turning it into a mirror discretely so I could see behind me. Winnie had halted in her tracks at the sight of me sitting with Remus, her eyes bugging out of her head stupidly. I tried not to laugh as I transformed the mirror back to the ordinary book cover.
“I’m sure I got most of the answers wrong.” I confessed.
“You’re getting better.” Remus noted.
“Only because I sit next to you.” Oh Merlin, was this my attempt at flirting? I cringed on the inside. “I was wondering if-“ I hesitated then. I didn’t feel like I could really just spring this on him.
“I was wondering if you could, you know, tutor me a bit, outside of class. I really could use the help.” I changed tack at the last second, but at least if he said yes, it would buy me the time to pluck up the courage to ask him to Hogsmeade with me. I supposed Perry had infected my brain or something- but, like she’d said, I’d decided I was going to live life to the full this year, and that meant I had to take a few risks.
“Sure.” He smiled. “I’d like that- I mean, it’ll help me too, because I’ll get the chance to go over my answers.” As if he needed to, I thought. But I was pleased because I’d at least accomplished something.
“Thanks, Remus.” I beamed, then got up and skipped away, passing by Winnie, who looked as if she’d swallowed a Quaffle.
A/N: This story might be going under a few changes- nothing in the content though, but I'm editing the summary and stuff. I might be going for a name change too, so if there are any suggestions they would be very welcome :)
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