Dance With Me
I blush immediately. “What?”
“Don't what me!” Sirius grabs my hand and pulls me closer, causing me to practically fall into his arms from the last step of the stairs. “Just get over here, dummy! My parents are watching!”
“Oh,” I mutter as he places his hand on my waist, mine on his shoulder, and grabs my right hand.
So that was the reason.
The music breaks into a waltz at andante, slow enough to keep a conversation without losing my breath but fast enough to keep me on my toes for the duration. I mean, being pureblood royalty and all that, of course I learned how to waltz while I was homeschooled, but like hell I'd try and actually retain that kind of useless information. Typical that it'd come back to bite me in the arse at the most random possible moment.
Once I'm positive I'm not going to do any extremely embarrassing feet-crushing with my more than lethal stilettos, I finally break the ice.
“You're dressed pretty casually tonight,” I comment, gesturing at his outfit with my eyes. “I didn't think you actually meant it when you said you just throw on whatever.”
Sirius scoffs in amusement. “You think this is bad? You should've seen me at last year's party. My parents nearly murdered me.”
You mean he looked even worse last year? Blimey. Er, not that he actually looks bad right now or anything. I mean, he actually looks kind of good. And by kind of I mean really good. Not that I think he’s hot or anything. Though he is pretty good-looking. Well, not good-looking, I mean, like aesthetically pleasing. And sexy. Wait, no, not sexy! AGH, I’VE BEEN POSSESSED.
“You ugly git!” I blurt out abruptly.
Sirius looks down at me bemused. “I'm a what?”
“Er, I mean, what did you wear last year anyhow?” I say hastily.
Phew, nice save, Cecilia. Like he needs to know that I think he's even remotely good-looking. His ego’s big enough without another compliment on his dashing looks.
Sirius just chuckles as if reminiscing about a particularly good memory of last year's appearance. “Do you really want to know? I was serious when I said my parents wanted to murder me because it was dead awful. You'd be amazed at how little I actually care about these stupid balls.”
I look at him with raised eyebrows. Okay, now I'm even more curious about what he wore.
But Sirius just grins mischievously and cuts in, “Nah, forget about last year! At least, I look better this time around!” He pauses for a moment and then laughs again to himself. “Well, then again, you look so nice tonight, how could I not dress a little more formal?” I look up in amazement just in time to see him watching me with a warm expression on his face. “I told you burgundy would bring out your eyes.”
I quickly break away from his gaze in embarrassment. “You’re awfully cheeky tonight…” I mutter under my breath.
“I was born cheeky,” Sirius laughs, clearly happy with himself at my reaction. “And don’t tell me you’re not in the mood tonight either. You totally love it.”
“Oh, aren’t you lippy?” I retort, using the next step in the waltz to step on his foot.
Sirius yelps, now hopping on one leg. “Blimey, those stilettos can kill!” he says wincing. “Aren’t we supposed to be dating?”
“Please.” I roll my eyes. “Even the most tolerant girlfriend wouldn’t be able to resist walloping you.”
“Oh yeah? Now who’s lippy?”
I just smack him on the shoulder in response, my own barely suppressed smile sneaking through my feigned anger.
Before I know it, the first waltz slows to an adagio as the musicians transition to the next movement. I move to pull away, but Sirius lets go of my right hand and places his hands on my waist instead. Almost instinctively, I move mine to his shoulder and rest my head on his chest.
Blimey, it's almost as if I enjoy faking this whole dating thing with him. Although that wouldn't explain why my heart is beating like it's on the verge of a heart attack. Wait… that wouldn't explain it for Sirius either!
As we dance slowly in small circles, I feel Sirius' heart beating at a rate clearly faster than it should be. And that could only mean one of two things: 1) waltzes are a major turn on for him or 2) Sirius is… actually worked up about dancing with me. Uh, it’s the former, obviously the former. Didn’t know classical music could be such a turn on for guys. Well, he’s mental, what can I say?
Yet, the sound of his heartbeat is oddly calming in the midst of all the music and chattering.
I shut my eyes tightly, trying to rid myself of the thought. Agh, I’m doing it again. Since when did I become such a hopeless romantic anyway? I can’t start liking him now. I can’t start liking him ever.
My mind screeches to a halt.
But… why not?
“Do you have dances like this every year or something?” I suddenly blurt out as casually as I can in an attempt to distract my thoughts, “You keep on referencing last year's party.”
Sirius gives a jolt as if he was stuck in a fantasy only moments before as well, but doesn’t miss a beat. “Well, my parents host these ball things every year at the beginning of the winter holidays.” I feel Sirius shrug under my arms. “I guess it's to sort of celebrate the end of first term… or the beginning of winter, or both. I'm not really sure actually.”
I laugh dryly. “Yeah, let's all celebrate the fact that we haven't done anything for four months and still have five months and End-Of-The-Year exams to go.”
“Yeahhh…” Sirius says slowly in realization. “Yeah, actually I have no idea why we have all these crazy balls. It’s probably just because we're bloody rich and we can. The other students like them anyway.”
My body freezes for a second. “Wait, there are students here?” I stammer out in shock. “Like in this room with us? Right now?”
Bloody hell, I can just imagine the rumors that are going to spread around school after this dance.
Sirius chuckles at my reaction. “Don't even worry about it. They're all in Slytherin, so you probably don't know most of them. It's not like my mum would let blood-traitors like Gryffindors here. Save for us, of course, since we're still the purest of the pure.” He lets go of my waist to make air quotes.
I let out a long sigh. “Yeah, well, what can we do? It's not like we chose to be purebloods.”
Sirius scoffs. “Yeah, seriously. I'd trade my purest blood for being a half-blood any day. Less trouble for sure—”
“What's this I hear? A Black who doesn't want to be a pureblood?” a dark drawling voice interjects from our right. “How utterly blasphemous.”
I look around to see a long-haired blonde boy dancing with a pretty girl with her hair color and length just the same as the boy’s and twice as luxurious.
I may not be the most knowledgeable about Slytherin students, but even I know who these two are. If the Slytherin house had any form of monarchy, then these two would be their king and queen: Lucius Malfoy and Narcissa Black. Their foul depravity was legendary.
“Malfoy,” Sirius says through gritted teeth, a clear look of disgust on his face.
“Well, it'd sure suit you,” Lucius continues in that slow drawl. “Then you'd finally fit in with all those blood traitors and Mudbloods you hang out with everyday. You reek of their filth.”
“You little—” I start angrily, but am interrupted abruptly by Sirius.
He grabs Lucius around the collar and says in a menacing whisper, “You better keep that shithole you call your mouth shut before I take your pompous head and shove it up your own arse.”
Instead of a look of fear, Lucius just sneers back at Sirius. “Oh, how you terrify me, Black. But everyone knows you can't do anything without Potter watching your back. Isn't that right, you bloody coward?”
This time Sirius lets Lucius go, but pulls out his wand instead. “Say that one more time, you third-rate,” Sirius hisses in that same deathly soft tone, his wand pointed straight at Lucius’ chest. “One… more… time.”
Lucius lets out a barking laugh. “What are you going to do, Black? Curse me?” he jeers, spreading his arms wide. “In front of a roomful of upper-class wizards? Oh, I'd like to see you try, coward.”
“You snake.” Sirius lets go of my waist entirely, murderous intent radiating from him. “You underestimate me, Malfoy. Furnun—!”
“Wait, Sirius, stop!” I grab his arm before he could finish his jinx. “He’s not worth it. This scum isn't worth a second of your trouble and you know it. Look at me.” I place my hand on his cheek to force his gaze onto mine. “Sirius… he’s not worth it.”
Sirius stares back into my eyes for a long moment in rage, but thankfully pockets his wand.
“Yeah, you're right,” he mutters before turning back to Lucius. “Get out of here, you pureblood trash, before I physically throw you out of my house. That much I can do,” he adds fiercely.
“As you wish, Master Black,” jeers Lucius with a mocking bow. “Let’s go, Narcissa.”
After Lucius slinks away with Narcissa and a sneer still plastered on his face, Sirius turns back to me, hugging me a little bit tighter than he probably should be while dancing. Strange… It's not like him to get so worked up just from some Slytherin taunting.
I look up at him to see a blank look in his eyes.
He's thinking about something… which worries me even more. Not the fact that he was thinking, but instead that he was just so still.
Sirius was animated. Dynamic. He never had only one emotion on his face at one time, nor did he let any thought stay in his mind for more than a millisecond. It'd always escape him before he knew what he was saying. But now? His face was deadpan and his voice was silent.
“Hey, you alright?” I ask softly.
Sirius shakes his head before replying, “Yeah, I'm fine. It's just—nevermind, it’s nothing.”
“What?” I urge. “Don't nevermind me.”
To be honest, Sirius doesn't nevermind anyone. People usually can't get him to shut up.
Sirius heaves a long sigh before explaining in a low voice, “My grandfather used to call me a coward every time he saw me because I was the only Black to get sorted into Gryffindor over Slytherin. He thought I was afraid of the power of the Slytherin House or something, which obviously is complete bull. He'd taunt me from his fat arse on our chintz chair in front of the fireplace every night and wait until I'd react or blow up at him. It's just a word, I know, but imagine being the little tyke I was and have a well-respected old man call you a coward for years on end. If you hear something enough times, soon you'll start to believe it yourself.” He looks away and mutters darkly, “I hated that guy.”
I just stare at him in silence.
Blimey, I didn't know someone as playful as Sirius had this kind of thing going on for him when he was a little kid. It just makes me wonder what kind of things go on in Sirius’ mind under his flirtatious outer shell. Suddenly… I realize that even now I barely know him at all.
“I guess… that’s why you don’t usually go home for the holidays huh?” I ask tentatively.
At this, Sirius actually laughs. “Nah,” he confesses unabashed. “I usually stay at school so I can fool around with James, not because of my grandfather. The bloke died ages ago, thank god.”
“Wait, no way?” I shake my head in mock awe. “Wow, talk about zero remorse.”
“Oh, c’mon, all he did was bully me!” Sirius protests.
“Well…” I pause and look up in thought. “Yeah, okay, you’re right. Who cares about that old fart?”
Our laughter lasts for a few moments until I realize that the song had long since ended and some couples were starting to disperse. Huh… I had been so immersed in my time with Sirius that I didn’t even realize. Who would’ve thought?
I look up at Sirius, who’s still grinning like an idiot at me, and let out a short laugh. “Oh, wipe that smirk off your face, playboy. The song’s over!” I slowly slide my arms off his shoulders. “You think your parents can stand us not dancing every second of the night? Just once?” I joke.
Sirius’ goofy grin morphs into his signature crooked smile. “Yeah, I'm sure we can still keep up the act without touching twenty-four seven.” And he actually had the nerve to look disappointed about it, the pervert.
I just roll my eyes in response.
But the moment his hands lose contact with my waist, I turn around to face an almost exact replica of the guy I was just dancing with. Same handsome face. Same tousled black hair. Only his eyes were pure black instead of grey, just like his name.
My face breaks into a smile and I exclaim in surprise, “Regulus, you here for the party too?”
I smack myself mentally. Gooood deduction, Captain Obvious. He bloody lives in this house.
Evidently Regulus didn't catch my momentary stupidity because he then blurts out, “Cecilia, will you dance with me?” which surprises me even more. When did I get so popular?
“I, uhh…” I sneak a glance at Sirius. “Are you okay with—I mean, er, would your parents mind?” I correct myself quickly.
Sirius just shrugs and starts moving towards the food tables. “Yeah, go ahead, Cecilia, Regulus. It's not like I'm supposed to care right?” He gives me a casual wave and winks. “I have other ladies to attend to tonight.”
“Excuse—other ladies?” I repeat aghast as he runs off.
Alright then, if you care so little about it, then you know what? I will dance with your brother! I mean, the act of retaliation is kind of negated since Sirius already said it was okay… but whatever!
I grab Regulus's hand huffily and pull him to the center of the ballroom floor. “C'mon, let's just dance.”
The Sirius clone grins at me with a smile almost identical to Sirius', though less playful. “You're acting like you're jealous or something, Cecilia. Finally got your heart warmed up to my brother?” Regulus teases as we start swaying to the violins playing up in the balcony.
I purposely step on his foot with my heels, hopefully stabbing right through his shoes. “Don't even joke about that, Reg, especially with that face! As if I’d waste my time being jealous of a playboy like him.”
Ahh, the pheromones have subsided. I feel more like myself already.
Regulus winces, but chuckles at my response. “What's wrong with my face? You didn’t have any problems with it the last few times you visited Grimmauld Place during the winter holidays.”
“That's because every single time I came, Sirius was at school before! I didn't even know who he was, much less his god-awful personality. You're so much more mellow than him.” I heave a dramatic sigh. “And now your face has been tainted by a pervert. How do you feel about that?”
“No different that what I usually feel,” Regulus smiles at me sadly, but then continues in an oddly serious tone. “You seriously would never like my brother?”
“Blimey, are you kidding me?” I wave my hand dismissively. “An insensitive guy like that? You'd have to be mental!”
“That's too bad, I guess,” Regulus mumbles. “He's really done a lot for you, Cecilia.”
I stare at him incredulously. “Done a lot for me? Like what? Most he's ever done is make my life difficult!”
He looks down at me surprised. “Wait, you don't remember? I thought you…” His voice trails off.
“What?” I urge, getting really sick of people not finishing their sentences.
“Just… nothing, nevermind!” Regulus suddenly lets go of my hand and waist and starts backing off towards the stairs. “I just remembered I need to, er, do someone—I mean, something! I just—yeah, sorry, Cecilia, go dance with my brother or something! Sorry!”
And off he goes.
Blimey, has he gone mad? I stare at his retreating back as he runs up the stairs, trips over his own legs,and then disappears into the hallway. Not that the entire Black family aren't a mass of walking commodities, but that was just bizarre. What could he possibly not want to say so badly?
I back up a few steps buried in my thoughts and—
“Oh, watch your step, dear!”
“Ah, sorry, my bad!” I bow to the lady I bumped into and edge off towards the windows. “Sorry!” I mumble again.
I shake off the slight embarrassment and occupy myself instead with looking for my previous dance partner. Where did Sirius say he was going to be again? My eyes scan the food tables for the sex-incarnate – yes, as much as I'd hate to admit it, it's true – and not a moment later, I spot him at the beverage table, undoubtedly entertaining some Slytherin girls with various tales of his mischievous pranks and capers.
Bloody hell, who was I kidding trying to look for him? As if Sirius was ever in need of worshipping damsels.
I just throw my arms in the air and shake my head in exasperation.
Blimey, Sirius, what am I here for then?