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Chapter 30 : dance, dance
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And these are the lives you love to lead
Dance, this is the way they'd love
If they knew how misery loved me
Dance, Dance -- Fall Out Boy
The Marauders eagerly crowd around the long table lining the far wall of the Potters’ ballroom. Covered with a neat, white tablecloth, it holds all snacks imaginable. Refilling Honeyduke’s trays, neverending butterbeer bowls, infinite sandwich plates… Their stomachs seem to be following this pattern of endlessness. They devour the snacks rather violently, and soon start a game where they race the food, trying to eat it all before it has time to replenish itself.
“Ha!” says James, his voice muffled due to the amount of food still in his mouth, “Did you see that? The tray stayed empty for, like, a second!”
“Impressive,” says Remus sarcastically. He grins in response to James’s glare. At the moment, the ballroom is empty, but they all know this won’t last much longer. At the sound of a slamming door, they all turn around, bits of mangled sandwiches still hanging out of their mouths. Mrs. Potter is rushing over to them from the door at the opposite end of the room.
“James! Sirius!” she says accusingly. Their eyes widen, “What are you doing down here?” the sound of her heels echos against the walls as she approaches them, anger flashing in her eyes. The boys in question back away, simultaneously bumping into the table.
“Er…” says James, wincing as he swallows the rest of the food with a loud gulp, “Waiting for the guests to arrive?”
This, it seems, is the wrong answer.
“Yes, well, if you to were at your stations they would already be down here, don’t you think?” Mrs. Potter’s nostrils are flaring.
“Well,” says Sirius, “We… stations?”
She rolls her eyes, her expression softening, “We’ve been over this, boys. You’re to be at the gates, taking their coats and directing them to the ballroom.”
Their eyes, impossibly, widen even more as they remember. Mrs. Potter lets out an exasperated sigh and leads them away, leaving Ben and Remus by themselves.
“How many times do you reckon she told them?” asks Remus, taking a sip of his butterbeer.
Ben grins, “Probably about twenty,” they snigger just as the door opens once more. Mrs. Potter must have lit flames behind James and Sirius, because hordes of guests have already found their way downstairs. They are closely followed by the string quartet, which seems to have needed some directions as well. They set up in a corner and begin to play, and the floor is instantly covered with dancing couples.
Dresses of every shape and color decorate the beautiful women spinning with their male counterparts, the delicate fabric flashing like a rainbow before Ben and Remus’s eyes. It seems that every guest in attendance rehearsed this dance before arriving, because every couple is completely synchronized, not one person on the floor missing a beat. The room, which is roughly the size of three olympic swimming pools, fills up quickly. The Potters know everyone worth knowing in the Ministry, and they are known for allowing anyone to attend their extravagant parties.
After watching the guests dance through several songs, Ben begins to grow impatient. He taps his foot against the marble floor, but the noise is drowned out by the music, laughter, and chatter that fill the room. Where is Rainne?
“Benjamin, there you are!”
It takes all of his willpower not to roll his eyes, and he plasters a smile on his face before turning to greet his mother, ceasing his foot tapping.
“Hello, mother,” he says, his voice lathered in fake cheer, “You look lovely,” this, however, is true. Mrs. Taylor is beautiful. Though she is slightly older than most mothers with sons his age, she has aged very gracefully. Her deep brown hair has a thin white streak on one side, one she leaves because she thinks it makes her look sophisticated. Her dress, a dark raspberry colour, hugs her thin figure loosely. As she turns to pour herself some butterbeer, she begins to sway to the beat of the music, and the thin fabric flows like water around her calves.
“Thank you, dear,” she says, taking a rather large sip from her glass. She looks closer at Ben, bringing her thumb to her lips. Just as she’s about to lick it, Ben grabs a loose hold of her wrist.
“Mother,” he warns, “Don’t touch my hair.”
“Oh,” she pleads, “It’s just sticking up right there. Let me just flatten it --.”
“Mother, please,” he says. Mrs. Taylor sighs, pursing her lips as she takes another sip.
“If you say so, darling,” she looks around the room, examining the guests that continue to twirl about, “Have you seen your father?”
Ben shakes his head, and the pursing of Mrs. Taylor’s lips intensifies.
“Be a dear and let me know if you do, Benjamin. I’m going to go have a word with the McKinnons…” and with that, she is off, half dancing, half walking across the room towards Marlene’s parents.
Ben exhales slowly and turns back to Remus, who looks like his is about to burst. Ben rolls his eyes.
“Spit it out, Moony,” he says roughly.
Remus bursts into wolflike howls of laughter, “Mother,” he says in a high pitched voice, “Please don’t touch my hair, I spent so much time making it look like this to spite you.”
Ben rolls his eyes, and is about to say something in response when Carmen and Marlene join them.
“Where is everyone?” asks Marlene, getting butterbeer for them both.
Remus forces his laughter to subside before he says, “Well, James and Sirius are playing hosts. I don’t know where Rainne and Lily are, though.”
“Who did you decide to bring as a date?” asks Ben, looking at Carmen. She shrugs.
“I couldn’t decide, so I didn’t invite anyone.”
“What, I thought I was your date?” Marlene smirks, putting her arm around Carmen in an over the top sort of way.
Carmen laughs, “Of course, Marlene, everyone knows you’re the only one for me!” she pulls away and bows down, extending her hand, “May I?”
Marlene giggles, accepting the invitation, “Of course!”
They twirl their way onto the dancefloor, switching roles ever so often. Ben and Remus watch them, laughing as Carmen dips Marlene.
“What did we miss?” James appears suddenly, breathless. Sirius is by his side, panting. It is apparent they have both been running.
Ben shrugs, “Not much. Carmen and Marlene are dancing.”
“And Ben’s mum tried to lick his hair,” snorts Remus. Ben promptly punches his arm, “Ow! Did you really think I was going to let you leave that out?”
James and Sirius are sniggering.
“She didn’t try to lick my hair, Moony.”
“Right, okay,” Remus grins, earning himself another punch, “Will you stop it!”
Ben mocks him, crossing his arms. Remus rolls his eyes.
“Where are Rainne and Evans?” asks James, looking around, “I thought they would be ready by now,” he receives merely shrugs in response.
Sirius feels his stomach tighten.
“Well,” he says, “I’m bored. And I don’t have a date,” he looks to Remus, bowing similarly to Carmen, “May I have this dance?”
Remus decides to play the part. He giggles, covering his mouth with one hand while letting Sirius grab the other, “Oh, Siri-poo, I thought you’d never ask!”
Ben and James chuckle as Sirius gives them a wink, leading Remus to the dancefloor. It’s hard to tell whether or not they are terrible dancers or if they are faking it. They repeatedly step on each other’s feet, bumping into couples around them. After a few awkward turns, they find themselves beside Carmen and Marlene, and decide to switch partners. This goes on for a few songs, and the four twirl into each other’s arms, laughing and giggling, stepping on each other’s shoes. Ben and James commentate the entire ordeal as if watching a quidditch match.
“Lupin passes Pierson to McKinnon -oh, near miss there!”
“They’re going to be talking about that for years to come. McKinnon returns Black to Lupin. Classic twirl, that will definitely improve her score.”
“Excellent pa--,” Ben’s words catch in his throat. James looks at him with worry, following his gaze.
“Wha--,” then he is rendered speechless as well.
Lily and Rainne seem to glide down the staircase. James catches Lily’s eye and she looks to the floor, smiling sheepishly as blush creeps into her pale cheeks. Rainne grins at Ben and quickens her pace.
“Holy --,” starts Ben.
“--shit,” finishes James.
They both make their way hurriedly around the crowd to meet them at the foot of the stairs, all four of them blushing.
“You look beautiful,” the boys say in unison.
Beaming, the girls respond, “Thanks.”
There is a pause during which Ben and James seem to drink in their appearance. James, deciding to act on impulse, grabs Lily’s hand and pulls her onto the dancefloor. To this she does not object. Rainne smiles after them, quickly meeting Ben’s eyes.
“I see you’re wearing the necklace I got you,” he smiles.
Instinctively, she reaches a gloved hand to her neck, fingering the snitch charm, “Of course,” she says quietly. She hopes he doesn’t notice the bulky bracelets under her gloves. She’s made sure to have a Plan B in case they’re taken off.
They stare at each other for a few moments before Carmen and Marlene dance their way over to them.
Still twirling, they say, “Bloody hell, Rainne.”
“You look like royalty.”
“Cut me off a piece of that!”
They both laugh and dance right back into the crowd. Once they reach Sirius and Remus again, they are asked where they went. They point to Rainne and Ben.
Sirius’s stomach plummets. He stops dancing, much to Remus’s dismay, who was having a rather good time twirling and acting feminine. He is about to complain when he sees Sirius’s face, trying to find what he’s looking at. Sirius watches Ben lead Rainne through a side door he knows opens out to Mr. Potter’s rose garden. After the door shuts, he seems to return to the present moment. He recomposes himself and resumes his dancing, this time in a much more somber manner.
“Padfoot,” starts Remus.
“Don’t,” says Sirius, looking at the floor, “Just don’t.”
Rainne laughs, holding onto Ben’s hand as he runs through the maze of red roses, his dazzling grin illuminated by the nearly full moon.
“Ben, where are you taking me?” she asks.
“Nowhere! Anywhere!” he stops, turning to face her. Quietly, he adds, “I just want to enjoy this beautiful night with my beautiful girlfriend.”
Rainne’s face flushes a deep red, matching her attire. He cups her face in his hands and kisses her, their insides fluttering. Smiling, she pulls away.
“Let’s go back inside,” she says, “Let’s dance.”
He shakes his head, pulling her close, “I’d rather be out here with you. I’m a dreadful dancer.”
Rainne sighs, feeling as if her new dress has gone to waste. But she obliges him, following him to a stone bench and letting him hold her in his arms. Letting him steal kisses every now and again as they look up at the stars. The silence envelops them like a blanket, like the dark sky above them.
Finally, Rainne says, “Are you embarrassed of me?”
Ben blinks a few times, furrowing his brow, “What?” he looks down at her, “Why would you say that?”
Rainne is quiet.
“Rainne?” he presses, “Why would you ever think that?”
“Well, at King’s Cross,” she says slowly, “You didn’t want to introduce me to your mum. You said…”
“What did I say?” says Ben. He doesn’t remember this.
“You said I was just Rainne. You said that I could meet her later,” she swallows the lump in her throat, begging the tears that threaten to pour out of her eyes to hold back. She has already done enough crying for a lifetime.
Ben’s eyes widen as he recalls the conversation, then he smiles, “Rainne, that’s not how I meant it.”
Rainne sighs, looking away. He pulls her face back to face him.
“Babe, you misunderstood,” he has a smile that makes her feel out of the loop, “I knew you had missed your grandpa. I didn’t want you to miss a second of time with him. And I’m glad I did,” his smile fades and they stare at each other.
She believes him.
“You know what,” he says in an attempt to lighten the mood, “My mother is here right now. Let’s go find her,” before Rainne can respond, he grabs her by the hand and leads her back inside. Music pulsates through her veins and her feet itch for some movement, but she runs behind him as he does the perimeter of the room. The search seems to be fruitless, and he walks up to Mr. Potter, who is chatting up some of his coworkers by the butterbeer bowl.
“Dad,” Ben says, “Have you seen Mum? I mean --my actual mum. My mother.”
Mr. Potter chuckles, “Yes, I know, Benjamin, your mother. She just left with your father, said they were tired.”
Ben is crestfallen, “What? They didn’t even say goodbye.”
Mr. Potter shrugs. This is a common occurrence with Ben’s parents. Ben doesn’t care that they didn’t say goodbye, he just wishes he had caught them before they left. He looks down at Rainne. She gives him a shrug just like Mr. Potter’s. They are still holding hands and she swings his arm idly, looking longfully at the couples on the dance floor.
“Let’s dance,” she pleads, still watching their friends.
He shakes his head, “Let’s just sit down,” he says, “I’d break your toes!”
Rainne sighs, knowing she would be on the losing end of this fight. She follows him to a corner and sits on his lap, watching her friends laugh and twirl.
Sirius takes a glance at her, wishing he was holding her instead of Remus.
Rainne lays on her bed, her head rising and falling on Ben’s chest. She listens to his heartbeat. Everyone is tired out from dancing and went straight to bed after the party ended. Mrs. Potter had ordered them to leave after most of the guests had gone, saying something about giving the house elves time to tidy up. Rainne had welcomed the party’s end, and had followed Ben for what seemed like the millionth time, this time up the stairs.
She watches his calm face as he sleeps, smiling softly as she reaches for his cheek, cupping it in her hand. He twitches slightly and breaks out into a grin at her touch, still sound asleep. Rainne rolls onto her back beside him, staring up at the ceiling. Sleep evades her, and she is bored out of her mind.
“Since when?” asks Remus. He is leaning against the kitchen counter, a nearly full glass of firewhiskey in hand. Sirius sits on the island counter opposite him, his glass nearly empty. After being banished from the ballroom, the two had made sure everyone was in bed before sneaking down to drink and talk. Remus wants to know what is on his friend’s mind.
Sirius empties his glass, filling it up once more before speaking, “Since when what?”
Remus rolls his eyes, “I know that look, Padfoot. It’s the same look James has when he looks at Lily.”
Sirius clenches his jaw. He hadn’t realised how bad he really has it.
He sighs, “I don’t know, mate,” he takes another drink, “I mean, I noticed her at the party over the summer. And then on the train… I don’t know, there was just something about her. But then Ben swooped in and I just kind of made myself get over it,” he stares at the sink as he speaks, watching it drip, drip, drip. He doesn’t want to see Remus’s face. He knows the expression will hold nothing short of pity.
“But you didn’t,” Remus finally says.
“But I didn’t. And then… Merlin, then I found her,” at the memory, he decides to finish his glass. After filling it up, he downs it again.
“What do you mean, you found her?”
Sirius fills up the glass once more, this time setting it down on the counter beside him. He looks Remus in the eyes and says, “Moony, you have to swear. Swear you won’t say anything. She doesn’t even know that I know… Merlin,” he rubs his forehead before running his hand through his hair.
Remus thinks it over for a moment before giving his friend a sharp nod.
“Remember when she was in the Hospital Wing?” Remus nods, “They said she had appendicitis. What a bunch of waffle. I found her in the toilet… She was on the floor,” he wonders if he should charm his glass to refill itself as he does so, taking yet another swig, “In a pool of her own blood. She had tried to kill herself.”
Remus’s eyes widen, “Merlin…” he says, “And she doesn’t know?”
Sirius shakes his head, “I was Padfoot, had to get up the stairs. When I walked in, something smelled funny. It tasted like copper on my tongue. The door wasn’t shut all the way and I just peeked in… And there she was.”
It’s Remus’s turn to run his fingers through his hair, taking in this wave of information, “I never really bought that appendicitis story,” he says.
Sirius empties his glass, “That’s when I knew that I didn’t want to live in a world without her. Just the thought of it… I couldn’t bear it.”
Remus looks sadly at him, “Sirius…”
Sirius holds up his empty hand, “Spare me your pity, mate. I know she’s taken, and I know she’ll always be off limits. I just need to get over it.”
Remus is about to speak when he hears footsteps approaching. Rainne walks into the kitchen.
“‘Lo, boys,” she says cheerily, “Nightcap I see,” she nods at their glasses.
Sirius’s features have paled considerably. Rainne walks between them, not noticing the worried look they exchange. She grabs a glass from the cupboard and fills it up with water, drinking it quickly.
“Ah,” she exhales. She sets it in the sink and walks through them again. Just as she’s about to round the corner, she turns and looks at Sirius, “Good luck with that girl,” she says, smiling at him, “Sounds like you’re pretty hung up on her,” and with that she disappears. They hear her jog up the steps and shut her door behind her.
Remus stares at Sirius as he lets out a hollow laugh. He makes to fill up his glass again, only to find the bottle empty, “Bloody hell,” he says, “I just can’t catch a break.”
author’s note: so to make up for the long gap, i wrote this super fast for you guys! hope you like this chapter. i hated writing it but i think it came out okay… let me know in a review :) thanks for reading!
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