Chapter 2 : Don't Remind Me
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Ballet technique is arbitrary and very difficult.
It never becomes easy... it becomes possible.
~Agnes de Mille
I rolled my tights down my legs and folded them nicely in my bag together with the leotard and the warm dance slippers after the double ballet lesson I’d just had. I pulled a loose sweater with bare shoulders over my head graciously and jumped into a pair of jeans before swinging the bag over my shoulder.
I was about to stride off from the changing room, but decided to sit down on one of the benches running along the walls instead. For a moment, I just rested there, relaxing my tense muscles. I closed my eyes, imagining how it would be like to enter the stage which would be set up in the Great Hall in about two months with everybody smiling at me. How it would be like to do everything perfect and full of emotion, and feel the light of the spotlight warm me in the dark. The feeling of dancing without thinking, just feeling…
‘But how can I do that when all I feel is anticipation, fear and nervousness?’ I thought. I knew that was what it would be like. The solos I’d had before where parts of other dances, it had been for the longest only two lots of eight, or maybe three. Which was about maximum ten seconds. But this one … was huge. It was a dance of my own. A whole song just for me.
‘And I am going to destroy it..’
“Sitting here thinking of your dance, Evans?”
I quickly snapped my head up, looking into Dorothy Hill’s grey stare. Her perfectly shaped body was towering over me, with a handsome face surrounded by dark hair sat up in a casual, yet fitting mess. I felt rage building up inside me. There stood the girl who always found a way to make me feel miserable no matter what. The girl thinking her dancing was perfect, and everybody else’s wrong and detestable. I sat up straighter, seeing her look of disgust at my sprawled, laid-back position on the bench. I removed the bag from my shoulder and slipped it down on the floor again.
“As a matter of fact, I am,” I replied calmly. But I felt my fists clenching unwillingly.
Hill sat down next to me, looking towards the bag at my feet. My old, greying black bag, with “Lily” sewn on the top in lime letters. She pulled out her ash wand and tapped the letters, renewing the stings with a non-verbal charm.
“That’s better, isn’t it? Just drop by sometime if you want to, and I’ll help you with the parts of your solo you feel you can’t handle,” she said, smiling innocently. The atmosphere around her couldn’t be more false.
“That’s very sweet of you, but I don’t think that will be necessary,” I smiled back, leaning my head slightly to the right. “Besides, it’s my solo, I’ve been the one Lindsay’s been teaching it to. I don’t see how you can know it better than me, when you’ve just been watching from the sideline.”
My words had hit her right where I aimed. Hill rose and swung her own pink bag over her shoulder with a defeated look on her face.
Her weight was on her left hip and her hands were suddenly placed dangerously at her sides. She pulled out her hairgrip and let her dark curly hair cover her shoulders. With a satisfied little look she came close again, the smug smile damping of cruelty.
“If you think you can do every turn and every pose the way it should be done at the show, think again. If I were you, I would ask someone who knows what they’re doing for help. And we both know Lindsay is much too busy already. So don’t hesitate asking me for help. You know I’d be more than happy.”
She pinched my cheek motherly and left in elegant steps for the Great Hall.
I leaned back against the wall, feeling the need to smash whatever was in my reach. I breathed out heavily and stamped my foot.
Why did she have to be so despicable? Hill was the Gryffindor-girl I liked the least. I still didn’t get how she managed to avoid ending up in Slytherin. That would be the right place for a girl so self-centred, cunning and selfish as her.
I knew I didn’t know every part of the dance as good as I should. All I had to do was just practise and push myself further.
‘I will manage it,’ I told myself.
‘No way will I let that hag stand backstage, looking at me ruining the solo she has been longing for since day one. Knowing she would have done it much better. No way.’
I wiped a small tear from my cheek and looked determinedly at the poster on the wall. A perfect grand jeté … A split in the air, the arms of the dancer performing it stretching towards the unreachable. I refused to fail. Not this time.
In quick steps I left the changing room as well, my body still warm after two hours practise. I forgot all about Dorothy Hill, and in my head I went through the steps in Grande Allegro, wishing my balance would have held me up a little bit longer in the jumps.
I walked in my automatic, fast speed down the corridors of Hogwarts, heading for Gryffindor tower four floors up. Knowing it was only a month left, I started to calculate on how many hours I’d be practising before then.. I thought I’d ask Lindsay to have some extra lessons with me. So I could do well on stage. Make her proud.
But all the thoughts around my dreaded solo was washed away when I felt a sudden punch in my back and I was thrust down to the floor, my dancing-bag flying several feet away in a long arch.
“Lily! Are you ok? I’m so sorry!”
Remus Lupin summoned my bag into his arms with a flick of his wand and gave it to me, helping me up clumsily. In the back of my head I remembered all the times Lindsay had helped me up during lessons when I collapsed out of exhaustion. I met his blue, concerned eyes, and I saw the little smile hiding behind them.
He laughed down at me and embraced me.
“It’s okay, Remus. I’m fine. I’m just a little bit stressed, that’s all.”
“Ah.. Nervous about the show coming up? Worried about your solo?”
I nodded shortly, searching his face and feeling his hand around my shoulders.
“You’ll be great! No matter how many mistakes you make, it’ll still be brilliant … I know you’ll look fantastic on that stage.”
I squeezed his hand gently, smiling up at him. A real smile. Not one of those fake ones I used to force onto my face. Remus had become closer and closer to me during the years, and was one of the few male attendees of Hogwarts I trusted and found interesting to be around.
“Thank you, that means a lot to me. At least I’ll have you there in the audience to applaud after I’ve stumbled through those long minutes.”
“Don’t think like that, Lily. I know you will dance like a queen if you just have confidence!” he said firmly.
I removed his arm from my neck and looked sternly at him. Was he about to give me that same lecture Lindsay gave me every second week? Because I couldn’t stand having another person telling me what to do. They didn’t understand. At least Remus didn’t. He didn’t know the feeling of your feet screaming for air after being imprisoned in a pair of beautiful elegant shoes for hours at a time. If he only knew…
“You have no idea how often I hear that,” I mumbled through gritted teeth. “Lindsay likes to push that piece of information inside my head quite often.”
“I know this is all about Bryn, Lily. He made you fall after the end of last term.”
I felt my temper rising. If everyone was going to point out my nasty bruises to me every second, I just wanted to be deaf. But it was somewhat different with Remus. He really cared. He had been the only person I could count on one hundred percent, so why push him away as well?
I put his hand over my shoulders again and gave him an embarrassed smile.
“I’m sorry.. I just don’t like people pointing that out to me. That I don’t have a life.”
We just walked in silence up the stairs, Remus half reading a book in his left hand. Then I spotted someone in the corridor ahead of us, and I prayed to God we would be able to pass them without hearing a word emerge either of their lips.
Or his lips.
Depends on how you look at it.
James Potter’s messy hair flew all over the back of his head, his tall slim figure blocking parts of the narrow corridor. Next to him, Sirius Black was leaning against a stone wall, no doubt talking to Potter about the girl he got into bed the other night. His eyes were so full of life, and his lips moved rapidly, so I could not be mistaking.
I wondered who last night’s victim of the charming Black-smile was.
When we passed them, I was holding my breath. Remus knew only too well about my love for Potter and Black, so he didn’t hesitate to pass them without a hello. But still, we were very spotted.
Potter whipped his head around, a smirk spreading across his face as he saw my annoyed expression. He practically ran over to me, ripped me away from Remus, taking hold of both my hands. He started dancing around the little space available with me, singing something closely resembling to a Guffawed Boggarts song called “Flying Teapots”.
Naturally, I yelled his ears out, and struggled to get away from his grasp. But that didn’t happen. He continued to dance around with me, my dance bag leaving for a nap on the cold floor long ago. From time to other he would give me one of his characteristic Potter-winks, resulting in me rolling my eyes at him.
Remus just stood there by Black, shaking his head slightly. Sometimes he said something to his best friend, followed by a little series of grunts. Both Remus and I knew there was no use in trying to tell them off when this sort of things happened, so I didn’t feel offended by him not trying to rescue me from Potter’s hopeful dance.
“Done now, Potter? I’ve been dancing enough for one day already.”
I didn’t bother to make an effort anymore, didn’t struggle or raise my voice. If he couldn’t hear what I was saying because of his own yelling of a song, that was his problem.
“Come again, Evans?” he hummed.
“Forget it,” I said dully. “It was nothing worth ruining that truly charming song of yours.”
“Really? You know, I’ve started thinking about taking singing lessons. What do you think about that? I could sing, and you could do all your nice pirouettes!”
I felt sick even by the sound of the word pirouettes.
“Dream on, Potter. The best I can offer you is a seat at the back in the audience.”
Potter made a sad face and pretended to sob. It was truly pathetic, as always. Then his face changed suddenly, a satisfied grin spreading over his thin face.
“I was hoping to assist you in the changing room back stage, really. Think you can fix that?”
I forced myself out of his arms and went for my bag for the second time that day. I didn’t even bother to say goodbye to Remus, I just changed the direction and headed along the corridor in agony.
“Evans! I forgot one thing!” Potter yelled from behind me.
I stopped and turned around unwillingly. I gave him the coldest stare I could muster.
“What would that be? An apology? Or is that too much to hope for?”
He shook his head and shrugged.
“It’s better than that! One more guess?”
I rolled my eyes and continued to walk, not bothering to look back. I knew what was coming.
“Will you go out with me, Evans?”
There it was. The hundred-and-something-time Potter had asked me out over a period of about three years. I found my willow wand in my pocket and was tempted to stun him, but the distance was too big now. I refused to walk back again.
My reply wasn't very unfamiliar to him either.
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