A/N: You have no idea how much I hate myself for this. I am so incredibly sorry that this took so long. Please, forgive me if you can. Sirius and Renee plushies to one and all. Thank you so much for bearing with my awful updating. I heart all of you!
Thank you from poor Renee, who had to wait just as long as you to answer the unasked question of Sirius, who took far too long to get the words out. Again, I'm truly sorry. Thanks again. Now, I'll shut up and let you read.
Disclaimer: I still don't own Harry Potter and Co. or "The Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera. If I did, I wouldn't be here.
Chapter Seven: Dance, Dance, Dance
As the thirty-first drew nearer, Harry and Ron found it harder to slip away to see me in the evenings. Their teachers were cramming in all the work they could before the three day holiday and the boys had the added weight to their book bags. Not to mention that every day was one less day to prepare them for O.W.L.s. Lastly, they had the extracurricular refresher course in ballroom dancing—they'd all learned last year for the Yule Ball, but, as the teachers suspected or knew, they'd all basically forgotten how.
I also enjoyed the dance lessons immensely, as it gave me an hour every other night to let off the steam of my angry frustration at doing nothing. For that was exactly what I was doing—nothing. Harry was not being attacked any time soon, and more and more I began to feel that my coming to Hogwarts was merely to please me and get me out of the infernal house. Renee agreed, and I began to slack my duties, spending more of my time reading in the library, flying alone at the Quidditch Pitch when no one was around, and trying to find ways to amuse myself.
"At least I was able to do stuff at Headquarters," I complained to Renee. "I was able to talk to Remus, and clean, and wage war on the house of my forefathers. That could at least, sometimes, be entertaining."
"Listen, at least you're not depressed anymore," she replied soothingly, running her fingers through my hair. "You're near Harry, and Ron, and Hermione, and the other Weasleys—don't think I haven't noticed. You're quite attached to our friendly red-heads. And think of this…if you hadn't come, you wouldn't have found me."
"Yes…that is an upside, isn't it?" We had laughed. I found we spent most of our time laughing, which was better than at Grimmauld Place—the place where laughing cost you an eardrum to dear old Mum.
Finally, the waiting was over…it was here, the thirty-first. Boys all over the castle were jumpy, jittery, and nervous all day, sitting around Common Room fires, afraid of making fools of themselves while the girls spent the entire day ignoring homework and giggling while they got ready. Yes, it took most of the female population all day to get ready for the Halloween Masquerade.
I had gotten special permission from Dumbledore to go visible. I met Harry and Ron in the hallway outside my rooms. We were all dressed in our Muggle finest—black suits, ties, shoes shined, hair combed for the only time in our lives (ha, ha), with our masks already in place.
"You boys look…dashing," I commented quietly to Harry and Ron as a group of Hufflepuff guys passed us on their way to their Common Room to get changed. Ron groaned and Harry laughed. "Did I say something wrong?"
"Padma said that last year," Ron said. "She was being sarcastic. I looked horrible."
"That's why we're not in dress robes this year," Harry said. "And didn't Fred and George get you new ones anyway?"
"Yes, but, still. I can't believe Mum even thought of buying me something as disgusting as those last year."
"They were awful," I said. Ron stared at me. "I've seen the pictures." Ron dropped his face into his hands and groaned in embarrassment as Harry and I chuckled heartily. We made it to the Entrance Hall in one piece each and settled in to wait for our dates.
Cho arrived first, dazzlingly beautiful in pale blue and creamy white, her dark hair looped intricately through and around itself. Harry and she drew off to a corner where, we suspected, more than talking was going on. Ron sniggered to himself until Hermione showed up—amazing in royal purple. They left me standing on my own and went to their own corner. It was my turn to laugh—Ron was doing what he'd been laughing at Harry for doing. Ah, young love.
The doors were about to open, and I was worried Renee wasn't going to show up. It seemed to me that mine was the only date who hadn't found her way to the Entrance Hall yet. I prayed that she wasn't going to make a 'grand entrance'.
She appeared at the top of the marble staircase as if from nowhere, resplendent in a dress that looked as though it had been dyed by the sea. Strains of blue and green mixed and swirled around each other and shimmered in the candlelight. Curls of white made it look like waves and the silver trimmed edges and the mask that matched glittered like spells. Her long mahogany hair was caught up in a twisted knot, the ends curled and cascading down from it.
I slowly climbed the steps to meet her. Boys all around the hall stood staring, mouths open, oblivious to the hostile glares from their partners. As I led Renee through the Hall, the crowd parted to make way. I noted Harry grinning from behind his mask, and Ron gave me the thumbs up. Even Hermione was smiling, while Fred and George—obvious with their red hair—were giving us cat-calls and wolf-whistles. I grinned to see Severus Snape, unmasked and partner-less, scowling at me like the world was about to end. Renee laughed her beautiful laugh, and the doors opened before us to reveal the most splendid sight the Great Hall ever held.
The ice palace of the Yule Ball could not hold a candle to the enchanted forest of the Halloween Masquerade. Great magical trees grew from the walls, while vines draped the starry ceiling. Glowing faeries flitted about, leaving glittering trails in their wakes. The ground was covered in a soft mossy-like substance, and small round tables for six were draped in green cloth that glittered with veins of silver and gold thread. In the green canopy, there were also glittering sparks, as every once in a while, a leaf grew golden on a silver vine.
"Such magnificence has never been seen in the history of the Great Hall," a voice behind us whispered. We turned, smiling, to Albus Dumbledore, who had Minerva McGonagall on his arm. "I hope you enjoy it," he continued, "and you are the couple I expect to see in the first dance." His blue eyes twinkled, as he winked and swept away.
Renee smiled at me before looking after Dumbledore. "What was all that about the first dance?" she asked.
"I've no idea," I commented, "but I expect he wants us to start the dancing. Of course…we started the dancing at the Gryffindor Christmas Party, back in seventh year."
"Oh, you're right!" she whispered. "I'd forgotten."
"Which song was that?"
"You remembered it a month ago…" she said, exasperated. "'The Music of the Night'."
"Of course," I said. I'd just been teasing her. I'd been singing that song for months—since early August when I'd found her letter. She saw the mischief and laughed.
"You were checking to see if I remembered, weren't you?" she said. When I grinned slyly, she laughed more, and threw her arms around my neck. "I love you, you rascal," she whispered.
"I know," I said. She laughed again and led my over to the table where Ron, Hermione, Harry, and Cho were already seated. "Mind if we sit down?" I asked.
"Course not," Harry said immediately, while Hermione nodded. Cho said nothing, and Ron was a little too preoccupied staring at Renee to say anything. So, we sat.
The dinner was a magnificent affair, and the house elves were practically beaming with pride when Dumbledore called them up to take a bow so they could see how much we appreciated their hard work. But I could barely wait for the food to vanish and the tables to be cleared away, the dance floor opened, and the musicians tuned. It was a masquerade ball after all, and I wanted to dance.
We all stood when Dumbledore did, at the end of the feast, raising his wand. The tables and chairs flew to the edges of the room, the punch bowls were refilled, and the doors to the Entrance Hall were flung wide. In marched an orchestral band, instruments in hand. The Hall fell silent as they mounted the stage Dumbledore had conjured, and tuned up. When they were ready, their lead singer nodded to the Headmaster, who turned to the congregated students and faculty and said four words: "Let the dancing begin."
The students exploded into cheers, and the first few notes were played, softly, but growing steadily louder. I glanced at Renee, who looked back at me.
"You don't even have to ask," she murmured. I smiled and took her hand, leading her out onto the cleared space of the dance floor. We were the fist couple to venture out, swaying to the Music of the Night.
Heightens each sensation…
Darkness wakes and
Silently the senses
Abandon their defenses…
Helpless to resist the notes I write
For I compose the music of the night…"
Dancing. We were together, finally. It had been so long…
Night unfurls its splendor…
Grasp it, sense it
Tremulous and tender…
Hearing is believing
Music is deceiving
Hard as lightning, soft as candlelight
Dare you trust the music of the night?"
Dancing. Like we had so many years before. I was drowning in her eyes, melting in her arms. Just like so long ago…
"Close your eyes
For your eyes will only tell the truth
And the truth isn't what you want to see…
In the dark it is easy to pretend…
That the truth is what it ought to be…"
Dancing. She closed her eyes, and rested her beautiful head against my chest. I put my arms around her and held her close, never wanting to let go. I closed my eyes too, resting my cheek against the top of her head. We let the music consume our souls, and the dance consume our bodies.
Music shall caress you…
Hear it, feel it
Secretly posses you…
Open up your mind
Let your fantasies unwind
In this darkness which
You know you cannot fight
The darkness of the music of the night…"
Dancing. The steps were familiar, a remnant of the past. The more we danced, the more we remembered. We were lost in each other, two hearts that beat as one, faster and faster as the music swelled.
"Close your eyes
Start a journey through a
Strange new world…
Leave all thoughts of the world
You knew before…
Close your eyes
And let music set you free…
Only then can you belong to me…"
Dancing. Her eyes began to fill with tears. My hand brushed her hair away from her face. I stroked her hair, her cheek. I pulled her close again, and let her cry—alone for so many years, and now we were finally together again. There had never been a moment as perfect as this.
Touch me, trust me
Savor each sensation…
Let the dream begin
Let you darker side give in
To the power of the music that I write
The power of the music of the night…"
Dancing. The way we had before. And for a moment, we were back in that instant, years ago, with James and Lily on one side, Meg and Mark on the other, Remus and Peter cheering from the sidelines. The Hall faded and we lost ourselves in the memories, in the dance, in the moment.
"Only you can make my song take flight.
It's over now, the music of the night."
Dancing. We whispered the last lines to each other as we had done so long ago. The music ended, the dance was over, but we continued on, staring into each other's eyes. Cheers erupted around us as I kissed her. I didn't care anymore for propriety or ceremony. I loved her too much to deny her what her eyes were pleading me to do.
The kiss lasted a long time. We ignored the students around us, totally absorbed in each other. We broke apart, breathless, dizzy. I glanced up and saw Dumbledore over the top of her head. He smiled, nodded, and tipped his hat. I understood then, what he wanted me to do.
I drew her toward a dark, secluded niche. She sat down on the couch inside, and looked up at me. Slowly, I knelt before her.
"Renee," I said softly. "I…" I hesitated. Did she still want this of me? What if it was too soon? Too late? I firmly told my inner voice to shut up and ignored the lingering doubts.
"Yes?" she prompted. She was smiling, her eyes dancing, alive with that inner sunlight that I believed could not be extinguished.
"Renee, will…" I stopped again, and drew my wand from my sleeve. She looked confused, but intrigued.
"Will you marry me?" I asked simply, pulling from my wand a single red rose. I held it out to her, trying to control the shaking in my hands. She took the flower tenderly.
"Yes," she murmured, drawing me to my feet. "But you already knew that." I smiled against her lips as she kissed me. When we broke apart and turned around, we found the whole crowd staring at us, some cheering, most smiling, none silent. And in the front of the ranks was Dumbledore. He lifted his goblet to us with a smile. We smiled back. Wordlessly I gestured toward the doors. Renee nodded, and I led her away from the ball. A long walk on the grounds seemed implied, during which, if we had time, we might discuss the dance.
I suppose you wouldn't understand. There is so much for me now. Just as before, I had all I wanted. I had friends, and I had Harry, and the Weasley's, and all the others. I had Dumbledore and McGonagall. I had the Order. I had the memories of James and Lily.
I had found the sunlight that had been hiding for so long. I had found the fire in her eyes, that sunlight that shone so brightly…I had found that light that lit up even the darkest of my memories.
I had my Renee.
And I had a dance. A song. Words that made everything better, that made me remember all that I had. I had the Music of the Night.
The End. Fin. Complete. Finished. Done.
Thank you so very much for sticking with me on my first fic (even if it ended up being far longer, and far more drawn out than I wanted it to be). Thank you to my sister, Russet, as it's her fault that I updated this last chapter. Thank you to everyone else who waited so very long.
Now it's your turn to update, Curlz.
If you have any questions, send me a message—I don't receive pidgeons, so the computer will have to do. Thanks again! Luv, Shadow