Lead and Follow
It hadn't started out as something Harry wanted to do. In fact, he had been decidedly against the whole idea to begin with. Of all things the doctor could have recommend—of all the sports that Dudley could have participated in—it had to be, most possibly, one of the feminine sports that a man could partake in.
This was, of course, ballroom dancing.
Nothing said pouf more than slicking back one's hair, putting Vaseline on your teeth, wearing eye shadow, and prancing around a floor with glittery women than that.
Nevertheless, Dudley had been instructed to take a ballroom dancing class three times a week to help loose some weight (the Dursley's were getting desperate now for anything to work because the grapefruit-diet-from-hell still hadn't done anything to the blubbery thing that masqueraded as a human being) and this meant that Harry was oh-so-lucky as to tag along. He was reminded daily that he should be "grateful" for the expensive lessons.
Vernon had been against the whole idea to begin with, "My boy? Prancing about there like some sort of fag?!"
Petunia tried to smooth everything out, reminding her hormone-driven son that he would get to meet lots of girls—and this had been all the horny bastard had needed to show up for the first class. It would turn out that, after that initial class, when the blubbery beast realized he would be forced to sweat by actually doing 'work,' he would spend the allotted time down in the park smoking with his friends.
Harry, however, had been forced to go to the class religiously by Dudley who threatened to accuse Harry of practicing magic illegally in his room at night if he decided to skip class as well. After all, Harry had to tell Vernon and Petunia what 'they' were 'learning' every week.
The conversations usually went somewhere along the lines of, "How did dancing go today, my little Dudder-kins?"
Dudley, who was probably watching the tele (or eating) during the conversation, would reply, "We learned this new move. Yeah…what was it called…?"
That was Harry's cue.
"The rock step and a single twinkle."
Dudley would usually comment something along the lines of, "It's really interesting. The teacher said I was doing it really good for a beginner…"
Petunia, like the dolt she was, would buy it and praise, "That's my little Dudders! So quick on the uptake."
By this point in the conversation, Harry would usually have gone off to his room to do his homework, or else continued with his chores—hoping that Petunia wouldn't ask either of them to demonstrate.
Dancing was definitely private. Even Ron and Hermione didn't know—and they weren't going to find out anytime soon.
The funny thing was that as the class persisted and Dudley continued to gain more weight (which he called muscle), Harry found himself becoming more intrigued by the dancing. It was difficult, to be sure, but it was something that he realized he could conquer with some ease. Harry had always been awkward, except when it came to Quidditch, and the dancing gave him an added balance and fine-tuned his senses. It also, surprisingly, made him stronger, especially in his arms, having to have them lifted at all time during the dances (except when they did swing).
The teacher was impressed with his discipline and suggested he go to the Monday evening classes to get more training with some of the advanced female dancers and the assistants who could show him new moves. Dudley had no problem with this: Monday night madness became a weekly ritual for him and a way to get out of the house after dark.
It was awkward at first, all of the dancing. Especially some of the Latin dances when the girls were plastered against him and their legs rubbing against his body. Except for the embarrassing incident with Cho two years ago, which he preferred to have decidedly out of his mind whenever possible, he really hadn't been in much contact with girls.
Dudley, the first and only lesson he had attended, was disciplined when his hand fell a little to low on the female figure and he began to grope the girls' ass.
"What good is dancing if you can't even feel them up a bit?" the oaf had complained on the way home.
Harry chose not to answer that comment—because was surprisingly weird how the female body didn't ignite his senses. At first he had thought he was aroused to feel the girl's breasts pressed against him, but them, after a while, he just decided it was nervousness and feeling their bodies pressed against his own eventually became second nature, something he didn't think or care all that much about.
If there was anything that Harry enjoyed most about dancing, it was the power of being in control and forcing his will upon his dancing partner. Compared to the majority of the novice men, who were still embarrassed to touch the girls most of the time, let alone get the steps right, Harry was leaps and bounds beyond. He was in good favour with all of the girls in the classes he took, for being willing and able to competently take the lead in dances and work determinedly to get the steps right.
Harry considered himself a decent dancer. Maybe even good.
But all Harry's ideas of grandeur would come crashing down when he returned to Hogwarts that summer.
Dancing was something that Harry hadn't really intended to continue—it was just something to keep him busy and out of the house as much as possible during the summer. It was fun and challenging, but there were better things in his eyes—mainly Quidditch. It came as one of the biggest blows when his final year at school turned out to be absent from the game he had come to know and love for the past six years.
The reasons were justified of course; Voldemort was still on the loose and might attack at anytime. A prime target would be the staff members and the students of Hogwarts, logically. This news had come in his customary letter from Hogwarts and in the end Harry surprised himself by going out and purchasing a few books about ballroom dancing with some of the money had saved by doing some odd jobs around the neighborhood that the Dursley's didn't know about.
It wasn't until recently that he had remembered about those books, buried at the bottom of his chest (under an overdue Muggle library book), when he had gone on a trip to Hogsmeade a few weekends ago and been surprised to find books on ballroom dancing in a bookstore that Hermione had insisted they go into. It hadn't occurred to Harry that wizards and witches actually danced – he hadn't really given it much thought – but musing on it, it seemed rather reasonable. Considering, he remembered, the Yule Ball fourth year where several students – mostly pureboods – danced almost like professionals. But what had pleased him the most in these books were the moving pictures that demonstrated each step to new moves he hadn't heard of.
It wasn't enough just to look at the picture though. He felt as though he had to dance. Without Quidditch he felt confined and coiled within his body. And, he supposed, he might as well keep himself busy with something physical rather than grow lethargic. The fact remained that it was embarrassing to practice dancing in the common room—no doubt everyone would laugh at him or something along that level. Therefore he was forced to make a room of requirement that he fled into late in the night to practice a few times a week.
Despite the books, even though he was still practicing a few times a week in the Room of Requirement, it felt extremely off not having a partner. He was never entirely sure if he was doing the steps right and he felt a little lost not guiding his partner.
Nevertheless, he persevered, wondering if he could somehow manage to find a girl to practice with him.
Draco Malfoy had been born into the world of dancing, although he would be the last one to admit it. Being part of the elite and refined upper crust of society rarely had its drawbacks, but this was one of them. The fact was that dancing was what you did at parties – Death Eater and normal upper-class soirees alike – before and after the meal and to save oneself from boredom about talking about the same old things over and over again.
Many memories of his childhood seemed to be compiled of snatches of colors, movements of cloaks and dresses; waltzes and tangos in the background. Even though these parties hadn't really happened in the past few years, Draco had been professionally trained in all dances—and trained by a Muggle no less.
His father always demanded the best of him, and if the best teacher in the world was a Muggle, than so be it.
Dancing, of course, was a secret to anyone who didn't attend the Death Eater galas and the events; and what took place at these parties was never discussed at school for obvious reasons.So, it went without saying that for the past six years Draco Malfoy had successfully avoided dancing at the school let alone ever bringing up the subject.
Upon returning to Hogwarts this autumn Draco had believed that his ability to dance would remain quietly protected along with other remnants of his past that, now, would only prove dangerous to him. He knew that he was treading on thin ice as it was by even returning to Hogwarts for his final year of learning, but there was no other choice considering he was essentially homeless with the onslaught of the war three months earlier and his defiance of his father and the Dark Lord. In addition, Draco had pointed out rather obtusely to himself, the past six years would have been a waste if he didn't get his certificate.
But dancing was of no matter as it was anyhow. How had he started thinking about this? The blondblinked and his eyesight came back into focus. He stared at a large grandfather clock in the recesses of the Astronomy Tower that played a tinkle to a Viennese waltz before chiming the hours.
Well, its all clear here, Draco thought, casting another wary look towards the clock. He scowled and turned on his heals so he could finally get to bed. Being Head Boy of Slytherin house had its advantages to be sure, but staying up late was not one that Draco particularly enjoyed.
Suppressing a yawn, Draco walked his way down the dark hallways bathed in the weak light of an October moon. As he continued down the icy steps to the floors below, he wondered absently if he could add a few centimeters to his Transfiguration essay tonight or if that was best left to tomorrow afternoon before class.
His thoughts, although cloudy and heavily burdened with sleep, were intruded upon by a scrape of metal against rock, a few random steps, and then the hiss of a voice.
Draco's senses were heightened in an instant and he clutched his wand apprehensively as he studied the hallway from whence the noise had come.
It wasn't a particularly frightening or unused hallway, Draco supposed, his grey eyes now black in the weak light flitting from door to door.
It's just the third floor where the first years have…
His thoughts fell silent as his eyes rested upon an odd-looking door handle that captured the weak light of the moon in its glass-door knob. Despite the oddity of most things at Hogwarts, glass doorknobs were usually only located in the dorm rooms or in the teachers private offices, and not used for classrooms.
Come to think of it Draco had never seen this door before. It was oddly placed, between a large mural and a door to the old Charms classroom, hiding in the shadows. He had been down this hallway hundreds of times in his life; the door had never been there until now. He felt his body tense more and he pointed his wand more firmly in front of him at the slightly ajar door, spilling a thin line of pale light into the corridor. He would not have admitted to himself that he was scared, but the school was in a veritable lockdown and the appearance of this strange door was alarming at best.
Stepping towards the door, he peered through the gap that was emitting the light. The sound came again, the frantic steps, the hush of a voice.
What the…? Draco thought for a moment, staring into the newfound room.
The room itself was long and narrow and even in the weak glow the heavily polished floorboards glimmered with silver moonlight. Polished windows faced out over the lake, and cut and pasted against this backdrop was a figure moving hesitantly about the room in an elegant stride.
Having grown accustomed to the light Draco narrowed his eyes to an old desk that was closest to the door, pilled high with books filled with moving pictures: pictures of people who were dancing. Or at least, Draco supposed, they were from what he could see.
The person moved about the floor in a whisper of movements and, watching the performance half in awe and half in jest, Draco squinted his eyes through the gap and peered closer. The person was trying to dance the tango, or so it appeared, and one of the more complicated steps for the lead. Well, they were never going to get it right if they put their foot like—
The figure stumbled slightly and swore again, grumbling angrily, "What am I doing wrong?"
Footsteps came straight towards Draco and the blond tensed in the shadows of the hallway, but the stranger paused and hunched over the desk. The form picked up a fat book and scanned a few pages through it. "I'm doing everything right…"
It was then that Draco realized that it was Harry Potter dancing in the room.
At first he was incredulous and moved his face closer, titling it slightly so he could distinguish the features in the weak light, trying to convince himself he was dreaming. Yet there Potter was, with his longish nose, green eyes, thick lips, and of course that damn scar.
Harry, tossing the book idly down on the desk, mumbled, "Oh, bullocks." He strode towards the center of the floor again, corrected his posture, and began, or began what looked like, a waltz. As Draco continued to watch his rival more he was silently counting in time to the steps. One two three, four five six. The graceful ebb and flow of the waltz was apparent in the Gryffindor's steps, which, Draco had to admit, weren't bad at all. He had definitely seen worse plenty of times.
His expression soured slightly as he remembered Goyle tripping over Pansy and falling into the punch bowl at a Christmas party some years back, and dousing Draco in the stuff in the process.
Harry stopped abruptly and cursed again, then started the waltz over.
The situation was unnerving, and a few moments later Draco withdrew from the shadows and continued his way down the hall towards his common room, hoping that he would get a decent nights sleep for the first time in a while.
As it would turn out, his dreams would be filled with memories from his not-so-distant past. The whisper of silk, the shuffle of feet, and the heavy breathing that accompanies the quickstep.
It had been a few days since Draco had seen Potter making a royal fool of himself in that room that had mysteriously sprouted up in the hall like the legs of some creature he would find in his Care of Magical creatures class. Draco didn't deny that he had thought about what he had witnessed that night—after all, it was Potter and he was dancing. And not just any kind of dancing: the waltz, at that, and he had done it rather admirably (though clumsily) without a partner.
Still, every time Draco saw the damnable Boy-Who-Lived he couldn't help but surprise a smirk as he remembered the boy washed in the pale moonlight and tripping over himself like a toddler. It was too brilliant.
Nevertheless, Draco didn't spread the information about. He wasn't as low as some of his fellow Slytherins, who insisted on slandering anyone who had an interest in something "out of the ordinary." It was for that reason that the blond boy kept his pastime of whittling under close wraps. Even his father hadn't known where random mahogany-carved snakes that kept appearing around the manor on bookshelves had come from.
Yet Harry Potter was the last person that Draco would have thought to have taken up ballroom dancing. The only grace the boy possessed was out on the Quidditch pitch—or so he had previously believed. Even though Draco loathed the boy, he did have to admit that the bloke had talent for dancing. It seemed to add to his balance, even if he was constantly falling over himself.
Still, if Potter was instructed or had a partner he might not be so bad. Might being the key word.
But now was not the time to be thinking about Potter and his issues. Draco had plenty of problems to handle on his own—namely the war that he was caught up in against his will and the fear it brought. When he had renounced the Dark Mark and sided with the Order, he only had a simplified view of what would of happened with him—namely that, although he wouldn't be initially accepted into the Light side's trust, he would at least be spared from some of the stress of war issues as long as possible. In the deal he made, he would be protected by Dumbledore and the safety of Hogwarts, from the Dark Lord and his father in return for weekly drillings from Dumbledore about information and places that the Death Eaters might use as a base or any modes of attack, and any other things Draco might know.
So, if he wasn't patrolling the halls most nights as Head Boy, he would be lounging about in the old coot's office consuming entirely too much tea – which he sometimes wondered might be spiked with something – and scones, and racking his brain for any detail whatsoever.
At the moment he had just returned from one of these meetings and was making his way down to the dungeons so he could collapse on his bed before awaking annoyingly early for his eight o'clock classes.
In a way, not having Quidditch this year was a good thing, namely because he didn't have time for it. Still, Quidditch provided him a release, and he felt confined and out of shape most days by not doing any physical activity.
Walking into the familiar corridor that he used as a shortcut, there they were again: the footsteps moving in a gentle pattern across a polished floor, accompanied by a litany of curses.
Why the hell didn't I take a different way to get to the dungeons? Draco seethed to himself, walking towards the door unconsciously. The damn footsteps and the promise of Potter making a fool of himself were hypnotic.
The same scene presented himself: Potter, a polished floor, and moonlight. It was actually relaxing watching him twirl along the floor—he wasn't bad when it came to the Viennese waltz. Ah, good, he had figured out to exert less energy with the steps…well, at least he wasn't totally hopeless.
Potter's feet moved into a spiral, but judging by the gleam of the floor and the shoes the prat was wearing it caused the boy loose his balance and slip, catching himself just before he hit the wood below.
Draco couldn't stand it any longer.
Opening the door with a loud creak, absently wondering why it was never shut all the way (Peeves may have been dense, but he wasn't that dense), Draco called out, "Really, Potter, you just butcher it every time, don't you?"
Potter spun around, his green eyes glinting in the dim light and he snapped, trying to sound angry but obviously more so embarrassed, "Who's there?"
Draco stepped into the light without much gusto.
"Malfoy!" he spat in disgust and anger, "What the hell do you think you are doing here?"
Draco chuckled and smirked. "Watching you make a fool of yourself. And you do it with such grace."
Harry pulled himself up and dusted off his pants half-heartedly. Grumbling more to himself than to his arch-nemesis, he said, "As if you could do any better . . ."
Unfortunately, or fortunately, the acoustics in the building were superb and the comment did not go as hidden as it was intended.
"Excuse me?" Draco sneered, striding across the room. Harry's eyes flashed angrily and Draco grinned darkly. "What are you talking about, Potter? I'm a Malfoy. That means I do this sort of thing all the time. I know what I am doing, unlike you. I am certainly not the one who can't even get a simple Tango step down."
"How long have you been watching?" Harry asked suspiciously, his lip curling as he walked over to his pile of books on a desk and snapped them shut, face stained an embarrassed and furious red.
"Long enough to know that you are terrible." Draco paused, watching Potter glare icily and waiting for him to rise to the bait. He smirked when Harry did not respond. "But you have potential."
Harry stared. Or goggled. Or both.
"That means so much coming from you," Harry snarled, recovering quickly. He gathered his books in his arms and extinguished the candle on the desk as though he was about to storm out of the room—that was, as soon as Malfoy was done blocking the entrance.
"Yes, it does, actually."
Harry snorted, and waited impatiently.
"I've grown up dancing."
"So?" Harry scoffed, wishing he had never decided to take up dancing again—what had he been thinking!?
"So, I know that you have potential—and it will go to waste if you are teaching yourself the moves—as you just demonstrated a number of times tonight." Draco smirked half-heartedly as he realized where he was directing the conversation—a place he definitely hadn't intended upon. His only intentions were to come into the room, poke fun at the prat, destroy his self-esteem and then…and then what?
Oh gods. Why had he done this? Why hadn't he just ignored Potter like he should have learned how to do after going to school with him for the past six years?
Nevertheless, he opened his mouth, and continued, though neither as firmly nor as with as confidence as he would have liked, "That's why I'll be your teacher."
This time Harry could not control his astonishment. His mouth dropped open and he nearly dropped his books. What the hell?!. He took a deep breath, tired of Malfoy's games.
"I don't need your help, Malfoy," Harry growled. He pushed his way towards the door that was gleaming mockingly behind the Slytherin's figure.
"Oh, get over yourself Potter," Malfoy sneered, pushing him away from the door with such force that it caused Harry to stumble back against the slick floor. "Do you want to get better or not? I can easily walk away and let you teach yourself how to do it wrong if that's what you want to do. It won't be bearing down on my conscious anyways. I don't really care one way or another."
"Then why are you bothering to offer your help?" Harry demanded, his temper flaring now in the shadows of the room.
God, why did the idiot keep coming back to the same question?
"Because. You. Have. Potential. Do I need to write it on a chalk board or tattoo it on my arm?" Draco demanded, crossing his arms and letting out a long exasperated sigh.
"Actually, that would be nice." Harry chuckled wryly, surprising himself, though no less at ease around the Slytherin who he had hated with a passion for the past six years. Even though "supposedly" Draco had switched sides and was now with the Order, it didn't make much of a difference to Harry at all.
Once a Malfoy, always a Malfoy.
"So, what's your answer?" Malfoy drawled in a bored tone. "Because I don't mind going to bed at all while you toil away up here night after night tripping over your feet like an idiot."
What is the arse trying to prove? Harry thought to himself, angry that he was letting himself be teased by Malfoy. That he is better at dancing than me? I already know that. I mean, come on he is a pureblood Malfoy . . .that by definition means ballrooms and cocktail parties and stuffy, boring people with lots of money . . .
Harry sighed. He wanted to learn, to get better – it kept him busy in lieu of Quidditch being cancelled. He knew he needed a teacher, and a partner. Malfoy as his partner was embarrassing. If anything the two would get in a fight after one dance, curse each other, and never talk about ballroom dancing again.
Yes. Now that he thought about it there was no way that he and Malfoy could work together for such a long period of time and actually get along.
No way at all. Let Malfoy try to teach him one time and see what happens; then the Slytherin would leave him alone.
"Fine," Harry spat.
"Good, I'm the lead. You'll have to learn to follow before you can lead," Draco replied breezily, shrugging off his cloak and stepping out into the polished floor with a smirk still plaguing his features. And then, just to add the icing on the cake, he grinned slyly and said, "That means you're the girl."