NIGHT OF THE AWALIM
Chapter 7: The Right Words
Hermione surveyed her seventh year students.
"For the last time, girls, this isn't a sex education class."
"But, Miss Granger-" Dana Stoli whined. "I was just saying what happened when I did that figure eight thing for my boyfriend."
"Oh, like he'd care, Dana," snapped another girl. "All Frank Mulder cares about is Defence Against the Dark Arts. 'Evil is out there'. We've all heard him."
"Well, he did care. I've just told you. He smiled, and-"
"That's more than enough, Dana. Can we please get back to the class?"
Hermione was endeavouring to explain the difference between gahwazee, the gypsy dancers of the Middle East, and the Awalim, the high class women who were taught singing, dance, and poetry as part of their courtesan training. She was trying to show them Persian arm technique. But these were teenage girls. They wanted to know about Moroccan marriage dances, pelvic thrusts, and the dance of the seven veils. How To Seduce A Boy in Six Easy Hip Drops. Not that it would take six. These were teenage boys, after all.
One karate lesson and they'd been 'Hiiii-yaaaa'-ing all over Hogwarts, showing off their white belts and gi's. One belly dance lesson and the girls had been cutting up their old dress robes for hip scarves, and performing hip circles over dinner. Hermione had consulted with Master Usui. Yes, both of them had cautioned restraint and common sense.
Hermione was glad snake charming wasn't part of the new curriculum. No doubt the school would be full of basilisks by now. Wasn't it bad enough that the old Chamber of Secrets was now the indoor swimming pool? Hermione didn't want to go swimming. No one had guaranteed that the pool didn't house sea snakes.
"Can you show us a dance, Miss Granger?" Dana asked. "How would you dance before a man?"
"I don't dance for a man. Not alone." That was the proper answer. Never mind that Snape watched her rehearse most nights.
The girls exchanged glances. One or two nodded, and prodded each other with their elbows. Hermione put her hands on her hips.
The girls looked at their nails, the ceiling, their feet.
"You may as well tell me. I am very good at Potions and Charms, you know. I can get the truth out of you."
Marcia Brody spoke up. "Well….it's just that….I mean…..some of us think…..you've been seen coming down from the Divination Tower most mornings."
Hermione grimaced. She thought she'd been careful. She thought no one had seen. She thought Snape's suggestion she use the secret passageway was a good one, diverting attention from the dungeons. Good one, Severus. Now the students thought she was carrying on with Trelawney. From exotic belly dance teacher having an affair with Slimy Snape to exotic belly dance teacher with lesbian leanings. She would be considered to have bad taste whichever they believed.
Hermione licked her lips. "For the record. I am not having an affair, relationship, or casual fling with Madam Trelawney."
Dana piped up again. "But, DO you know how to dance for a man?"
"Yes." Hermione tried to unclench her teeth.
"So you can show us, right?"
This teaching business was harder than she first thought. She was losing control of the class.
"What about we look at Moroccan marriage dances?" Anything to get their minds off her private life. "When a girl is to be married, the women of the village come to her and impart their knowledge about marriage and what is expected of her. They don't tell her, they dance."
Hermione bounced her pelvis up and down, at the same time moving it in a broad circle. Some of the girls giggled. Dana Stoli guffawed. Tiny Theresa Soeur frowned.
"I don't get it. How does that tell the girl how to run a household, balance a budget, or cook dinner?"
The girls rolled their eyes. Theresa came from a very strict background. She had only been allowed to come to Hogwarts in her 14th year. It was rumoured she wore the world's only remaining enspelled chastity belt under her clothes.
Hermione chose to ignore Theresa's bafflement and motioned the girls to copy her movements. She was very relieved when no more speculations about her sex life were forthcoming. At the end of the class, she warned the girls not to perform this dance for men.
"It's a women-only thing."
But Dana Stoli was all ready speculating on Frank Mulder's reaction.
Too late, Hermione remembered this dance was also a fertility dance. Perhaps she should have all the girls wear chastity belts. She hoped Dumbledore wouldn't be too cross if there was a sudden spate of pregnancies in the school.
The girls surged from the room and Hermione went limp. She wanted a hot bath and a good book, but alas, it was not to be. There was a staff meeting now that classes were finished for the day. Hermione dragged her tired body along the hallways. It would be a relief to go back home tomorrow and spend the next two days being a student again.
She wondered why she was studying at all. Did she really want to major in Arithmancy and go on to teach? Did she want to spend her days with the Dana Stoli's of this world? What had she been thinking?
But did she want to chuck it in and teach belly dance full-time? She imagined year after year of having to run through the basics. "Face the feet forward positioned under the shoulders. Bend the knees a little, keep them loose, tuck the pelvis under just a little. Move your knees back and forth in a small wobble. This is called a slow shimmy." Her own teacher taught and danced full-time. How did she do it without wanting, at the end of every term, to slap each student and say: "For Merlin's sakes, just do it. What is wrong that you can't? Shimmy, dammit!"
Cue Hermione Granger's early life crisis.
The staff common room was nearly full when Hermione arrived. She took a seat next to Snape, who acknowledged her presence with a nod. They were not demonstrative in public. Professor Flitwick patted her hand.
"How are your classes, my dear? Not too strenuous, I hope?"
Hermione eyed him up. "I am the dance teacher, Professor."
His kindly smile froze. "Oh, so you're the one. I thought you were teaching Arithmancy. Some of my young students have given alarming dance demonstrations in class. Two of my text books burst into flames. Perhaps you could caution them not to be so vigourous."
Hermione sighed. "I do try, Professor, but they are simply showing off."
Dumbledore brought the meeting to order. Fawkes was taking the minutes, using one of his own tail feathers as a quill.
"I am very glad you have begun this discussion, Professor Flitwick. It seems there are some teething troubles with these physical education classes."
Master Usui caught Hermione's eye, and grinned. He spoke up.
"To my understanding, both karate and hilal dance, to give it one of its formal names, raise energy levels in the abdomen and pelvis. To the untrained person, this build-up can be surprising, disturbing even. Certainly unexpected. This is not a culture that places great awareness on inner energy flows, particularly those of the lower body."
"Oh, I don't know," Snape muttered, low enough that only Hermione could hear and blush.
Usui continued. "A graduated witch or wizard knows how to control their magic. But an undergraduate doesn't. Add to this energy surges and you have problems."
Teachers spoke over the top of each other. Macgonagall had witnessed a student transfiguring himself into a gnat, simply by performing a karate stance. A gnat could not wave a wand to reverse the spell. Macgonagall had to interfere. Flitwick cited his exploding text books again. Madam Pomfrey said the percentage of students singed, transfigured, spliced, or melted during illicit sexual encounters had increased.
Professor Sinistra glared at Hermione and Usui and muttered about the angle of her telescope being all wonky. Trelawney complained that the Divination Tower had bought a hip scarf and daily practiced shimmies. But she was staring, mean-eyed, at Hermione and Snape.
Dumbledore listened for some time.
"There is only one thing for it," he said.
Several teachers looked relieved. He was going to cancel the P.E. classes. Thank the gods.
"The staff shall learn from Miss Granger and Master Usui, and thus will be able to offer guidance to their students."
Usui looked alarmed, possibly thinking of trying to maintain a choke-hold on Professor Binns. Hermione put her head in her hands. She had vivid memories of Snape trying out some of her moves. Must she see Dumbledore and Flitwick doing the same? Why was adult life so full of crap?
Cue even more of the existential crisis.
Hermione spotted him right away. He was simply too pretty to be a girl. She hauled Damon Creevey out from the back of her class. He had on a girl's school uniform, and a pretty hip scarf. She guessed he was a cousin of Colin Creevey. The big eyes gave it away.
"Damon, this is a class for girls," she explained gently.
"I don't like karate," he whined. "Let me learn to dance. Dana's been teaching me." He did a fantastic hip circle, and an adequate body roll. "Look. I can do it."
"That you can."
Dana called out. "Oh, go on, Miss Granger. They're wiping the floor with him in karate. He loves dancing."
"And flower arranging."
"And Judy Garland."
Hermione gave in. "Won't anyone notice he's missing?"
Dana shook her head. "Nuh. Ingrid Boeuf has taken his place."
Personally, Hermione thought it a good thing. Ingrid always looked ready to beat someone up, and had the muscles to do it.
She sent Damon back to his spot.
"Can men belly dance, Miss Granger?" Dana asked. "Besides Damon. For real, you know, like a performance or something?"
She saw the eager sea of faces before her, and the words came out before she could stop them. "Indeed they can. Many Arabic men dance. The Reda Troupe was led by a man and he is famous for his choreographies. In fact, I have several male students." She rather thought that Flitwick, Binns, Dumbledore, and Snape were going to kill her.
"Can we meet them? See them dance? Oh, please, Miss Granger!" A chorus of voices, Damon's most prominent.
What could Hermione say but yes?
"No. Absolutely not. No. In a phrase, piss off."
"It's for the end of term party."
"Professor Dumbledore says he'll do it if the rest of you will."
"That man would dance naked in a gay bar if he thought it would give him a couple of laughs."
"Don't tell Damon Creevey."
"Never mind. Please, Severus. Flitwick said he would if you would."
"Only because he couldn't put on a costume."
"This is ridiculous. I will not do it."
Hermione folded her arms. "Suit yourself. I'll just have to ask Ron and Harry."
Snape glared at her. "What has Potter to do with this?"
"Carmel belly dances as well, you know. I'm sure she's taught her boys plenty."
"Her army, you mean. I hear Brian Cohen is laid up at St Mungo's with a bad back, all due to Miss Chong's version of male fitness." He saw the look in Hermione's eyes. "No. Don't ask again."
She turned her back and grabbed up a handful of Floo powder, ready to go back to her own rooms. "Okay, I won't." She stepped into Snape's fireplace, shouted "Hermione Granger's rooms" and tossed the powder over herself.
Snape shook his head. Belly dance in front of the student body. Like hell!
The students were gathered in the Great Hall. The usual array of seats and tables were gone and a stage had been erected. Macgonagall led off with a speech, and a showing of advanced Transfiguration. Everyone was impressed when demure little Janie Austin was transformed into three bad-tempered girls who called themselves Emily, Charlotte and Anne. The girls ran from the room, shouting that the last one in the Forbidden Forest was a loser. Obviously.
Master Usui and several of his seventh year students gave a rousing karate demonstration.
A visiting wizard called Luigi gave a sample or two of Antipodean magic, while his assistant, Maria, flitted about the stage, gesturing and smiling and doing nothing useful.
A mixed group of Hogwarts girls performed an American Tribal belly dance, complete with fake tattoos that wriggled across their writhing bellies. Hermione gave a quick solo performance. Snape had never seen her in stage performance with plenty of room to move. Her timing was perfect, her costume sparkling in the torchlight. She dipped and swirled about the stage, interpreting the music, and finishing with a slow dance, a sword balanced on her head. He knew just how hard she had worked to master this, and was among those who applauded hardest.
Then it was time for the final performance of the evening. Dumbledore, Flitwick, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Rastus Watermelon took the stage. All wore long kaftans and plain red cotton belts around their hips. They Transfigured their wands into staffs.
"Bloody hell," Snape muttered. "Grown men with delusions of Gandalf."
The wizards twirled their staffs around their bodies and began a very basic dance. Ron was blushing to the roots of his red hair. Harry was looking anywhere but the audience. Snape wondered what hold Hermione had over these boys to make them do this? Perhaps it was better he didn't know.
Dumbledore was laughing. Flitwick's staff was bigger than himself. He clonked himself on the head and was out cold.
The dancers were terrible. So far beyond terrible they could qualify for the Terror And Faint Relay at the Wizarding Olympics. And Snape thought he had the Silver Medal sewn up.
Dumbledore performed a hip drop that looked like he was trying to sit on an owl that was trying to get away. Snape clambered onto the stage.
"Not like that!" he snarled. "Like this."
He did a hip drop. Bam! Then one on the other side. Bam! Then a series of broken drops. Bam-bop-a-lu-bop-a-lop-bam-boo! The other dancers stopped. The audience stared. Damon Creevey started to clap. Dana Stoli whistled. Dumbledore grinned.
"I bow before the beledi Master," he said and stepped back.
The audience erupted into catcalls, applause, whistles, and stomping. Snape was transfixed. He didn't move. From off-stage, Hermione took her hands away from her mouth, which had been open enough to catch hippogriffs, and knew this was her chance to play Rescuing Princess.
She bolted on stage and began a camel walk around Snape's rigid form. She trailed her hands past him. He caught one, held it. She spun quickly under his arm and came out into a shoulder shimmy, followed by a dip and reverse undulation.
She danced around him, using him as her anchor. Harry, Ron and Dumbledore retreated off-stage. Hermione turned the attention onto herself. She could do this. How many times had her chosen victim at a party or restaurant frozen? As she danced, she felt Snape relax until his eyes were following her. His jaw was no longer set in rictus.
The music stopped abruptly. She curtsied to the audience. Snape ducked his head, sharp and quick, and she led him off-stage. He turned to her. She couldn't tell if he was going to go ballistic, or laugh. Possibly, he didn't know himself.
"Hey," she said.
"You were good."
"You've learned a lot."
"Everyone loved you."
"Love and me are not two things that occur in the same breath."
"Well, I love you." Did she really just say that?
Hermione swallowed. "I'm not repeating it."
There was silence. Hermione fidgeted. Okay, she got the picture. She made plans to shift back to the flat. She would see out her Arithmancy degree, but she now knew she no longer wanted to teach. Not Arithmancy, not belly dance. She could be done with Hogwarts. She swallowed.
"Well, I should be going. I've got lots of packing to do."
"Yes. I mean, Professor Vector is coming back, and Professor Dumbledore has decided that new subjects will be offered next term. Jazz ballet and wood chopping, I believe." She fiddled with her costume beading. "There's really no reason for me to stay."
She wanted to kill him. Slowly. Painfully. With one of his own potions.
"Well, I just said….and you didn't…and what's the point?….I mean-" Two of his own potions.
"Hermione, we are in public. Do you really expect me to make declarations with Mr Potter standing only two feet away?"
Harry moved with alacrity, attempting to engage Luigi in conversation.
Hermione dragged him to the nearest fireplace, pulled him into it, and shouted "Hermione Granger's bedroom, London."
They shot out from under her bed, dishevelled, dirty, but still hand in hand. Hermione stood up, hands on hips.
Snape stood more slowly. Older, or simply toying with her? She'd never know.
"Hermione, I do indeed think it's time you left Hogwarts."
Her insides bottomed out around her ankles. Oh no.
"You're heart isn't in teaching. I think you're a researcher. I think you should move back here and finish your degree."
Insides past the ankles, pooling around the soles of her feet.
"And I think I should move in with you."
He strolled around the room. "I've been thinking of a career change myself. I am never going to get the Dark Arts job. Never. It amuses Dumbledore to hire idiot after idiot, to take the edge off a frightening subject. I've waited long enough. I'm applying to Elvenbows for a position. In Dark Potions research. I think eventually you could bring a useful touch to the department as a junior researcher. And this flat would be handy to the university, don't you think?"
"We could live here, and both work at Elvenbows."
"Now just a minute-"
"And there is much more performance work for you in London than stuck out at Hogwarts."
He turned to her. "What? I've thought all this through. I've been very thorough."
"But you don't love me."
Silence again. Snape stared at her. Then the bedroom door burst open. Carmel stormed in.
"Of course he bloody loves you. He can see you aren't happy at Hogwarts. I can see it. Shit, even Ron 'Thick As Two Short Planks' Weasley knows it. The man has just offered to follow you. He's giving up a secure job to be with you. What more do you ruddy well want, woman?"
"Words. I want the words."
"She wants words," Carmel said to Snape.
"She always wants words," Snape countered.
"Do you have them? Because if you don't, you'd better bugger off now for messing my girlfriend around."
Snape sighed. "I have the words."
"Good." Carmel stomped out and slammed the door. "Just keep the noise down. People are trying to bonk in the next room."
A minute later war whoops and a Tarzan call issued forth. It seemed Draco Malfoy and Peter Greystoke were in town for a visit.
Hermione watched Snape carefully. Snape came forward.
"I love you. Are those the right words?"
She opened her arms. "Those are the right words. Ya habibi."
Draco Malfoy lay awake long into the night. What on earth would cause that screeching noise in the next room? It wasn't human.
Author's notes: Thankyou to everyone who's stuck with me this far, and especially to those who have given such nice reviews. This is THE END.
To those in the know, I realise Hermione hasn't behaved in a true professional belly dance manner. A dancer shouldn't really get so close to her audience, but I had to get Hermione and Snape together somehow.
Thankyou to Pigwidgeon for encouraging this idea in the first place, Severely Snaped for the "You go, girl" and the Susan Bones stuff, and Warrego for letting me test drive chapters on her.
Belly dance is a wonderful, beautiful thing that extends far beyond sexuality. If I've encouraged one woman to take it up, I'm pleased. Inshallah!