Title: Wave o' the Sea
Setting: at the start of OoP; should be canon-compliant
Disclaimer: I lay no claim to any part of JKR's Harry Potter empire.
A/N at end
When you do dance, I wish you
A wave o' the sea, that you might ever do
Nothing but that
--Shakespeare, A Winter's Tale
"That's Dorcas Meadowes -- Voldemort killed her personally. . ."
Mad-Eye Moody stood in the kitchen of Number 12, Grimmauld Place, and talked to Harry Potter of death.
In his hand he held an old photograph. "Original Order of the Phoenix," he had explained. "They fought the first war against Voldemort. Thought you might like to see it."
His rough finger poked relentlessly at the crowd of little moving faces. "That's Edgar Bones, brother of Amelia Bones. . .they got him and his family, too; he was a great wizard. . .Gideon Prewett, it took five Death Eaters to kill him and his brother. . ."
Harry duly looked and nodded, but he wanted nothing more than to stop listening to this unending litany. When Sirius Black entered the kitchen a few minutes later, Harry thought he had never been so glad to see his godfather: here was his chance to escape. Yet no sooner did he make it to the stairs than he heard Mrs. Weasley crying as she tried to expel a boggart from a cabinet. The thing gave shape to her greatest fears, and Harry watched as the boggart produced the image of one dead Weasley after another.
"I s-see them dead all the time," Molly sobbed.
They calmed her down. "It will be all right," Remus Lupin insisted, and Harry nodded, but he knew it was a lie, and he suspected that Mrs. Weasley and Remus knew, too. Everything could so easily not be all right at all. It might never be all right again.
By the time Harry finally reached his bedroom, he was shaking. At least the room was empty, its dusty solitude a comfort as he stretched out on the bed, rubbing his scar absently.
This was what it was going to be like, he thought. This was what war with Voldemort meant. Death after death, whole families wiped out, losing more people he loved. . .and no guarantee that the darkness would not win in the end.
For a moment, anger at Moody burned brightly in him. Why had he shown Harry that picture? James and Lily Potter, so young. . .Neville's parents, happy and smiling. All those other people, hopeful and whole, so many gone now.
In twenty years, would someone be looking at a picture of Harry's Order and saying to an unwilling listener, "Here's Molly Weasley, killed just a week after this picture was taken, her whole family dead at once. . .That's Sirius Black, Voldemort murdered him personally. . .and that was Harry Potter. . ."
Couldn't at least one good thing happen, Harry wondered. Just one? Well, he thought rather grudgingly, Ron had been made a prefect, and that wasn't exactly a bad thing. But what about the people who had already faced Voldemort? Couldn't Mad-Eye have told him the story of someone who hadn't died, someone who had looked the Dark Lord in the eye and yet had been able to enjoy the world again, who had lived a long and real life?
Harry punched the pillow in frustration. He had been tired when he'd come upstairs, but now he didn't think he could sleep. The bedroom, which at first had seemed such a haven, felt cramped and claustrophobic.
Maybe he'd get a snack, he thought. He wasn't really hungry, but at least it would be something to do. He headed downstairs.
The hall was empty, the portraits covered or sleeping. Harry wanted to be alone, yet the silence was getting on his nerves. Where was everybody? The house was supposedly packed to the rafters with Weasleys and Order members, and yet he seemed to be the only one moving. Maybe they were all in the kitchen. . .
But the kitchen was as deserted as the hall. At least Mad-Eye must still be around, though: his cloak was draped over one of the chairs.
Suddenly, Harry was seized with the need to look at the Order photograph again. Part of him really didn't want to do it, didn't want to look at the smiling, dead faces. But now that he'd seen those people, he thought he ought to remember them. It was silly, he knew, but somehow he felt that by remembering them, he would make sure that when his own time came, someone would remember him.
Dipping his hand into Moody's cloak pocket, he felt the stiff, slick surface of a photo and pulled it out, steeling himself against the sight of his parents.
But it wasn't the Order photograph at all. It seemed to be a Muggle picture of a motionless, dark-haired young woman in a white dress. Her hair was swept up on her head, but a few bits escaped to frame her face. He was about to shove it back into the cloak when the door opened to admit Hermione.
"Harry? Have you seen Ron? I can't. . ." She caught sight of the picture still in Harry's hand. "Who's that?"
"I don't know. A friend of Mad-Eye's, I guess. It was in his pocket."
He half-expected her to take him to task for searching Mad-Eye's pocket, but instead, she stared at the photo curiously. "Look at her, Harry. Does she seem familiar to you?"
Harry looked more closely. It wasn't a Muggle picture after all. The woman was turning her head slightly from side to side as if on the lookout for someone, but she never glanced toward the camera; she didn't seem to know she was being photographed. She had large eyes and elegant bones, and Harry saw that she wasn't as young as he had first thought; it was the plain white dress, not quite Muggle and not quite wizard, that had made her seem so.
Just then she became aware that she was being observed. She frowned and shook both her head and her forefinger at the photographer and the watchers, feigning anger, but it was clear that she was trying not to laugh.
That expression, Harry thought -- he knew that stern expression, mock though it was in the picture. But there was no way it could be her. . .could it?
Just as the thought entered his mind, Hermione gasped, "It's McGonagall!"
"No. . ." Harry still couldn't believe it. How could it be McGonagall? The professor he knew had beady eyes. And spectacles. And her lips were much thinner, and she. . .
"She's beautiful," Hermione breathed.
She was. Harry had to admit it. Especially now that she was smiling, looking off to the right of the photo, holding out a welcoming arm to a man who entered from the outer edge.
It was. . .It couldn't be. . .Mad-Eye Moody? But there he was, striding into the frame, younger and whole, his eyes, not mad at all, fastened hungrily on the woman in white. He pulled her to him and began trailing kisses along her neck and exposed collarbone.
Harry and Hermione stared at each other, mouths agape, almost as shocked as if they had been watching Mad-Eye snog a Death Eater. Yet when Hermione turned back to the photo, she smiled. "Look at them," she whispered.
The picture McGonagall was laughing outright now, trying, although not too hard, to push away Mad-Eye's groping hands and to alert him to the spectators at the same time. But then Moody kissed her full on the lips, and she went still. Slowly, she wrapped her arms around his neck, moulding herself to him as if the camera didn't exist. After a second, Moody drew her out the door and out of the edge of the photo -- but not before she had flashed her audience the glance of a cat who knew that a whole vat of cream awaited her.
"Looked your fill, boy?" snarled a voice behind them. Harry and Hermione whirled to face a puce-coloured, glaring Mad-Eye, who had somehow managed to stump in unheard. Harry wondered rather wildly if he had muffliato-ed himself just so he could sneak up on them.
"Oh, we're really sorry," Hermione said at once. "We. . ."
"Yeah, sorry," muttered Harry, feeling himself flush. "I didn't mean. . .I just wanted. . .the picture of the Order. . . "
"But it's all right, really it is, I mean, I think it's lovely, she's lovely. . ." Hermione was babbling, still clutching the picture, which again showed McGonagall alone, looking from side to side.
Mad-Eye held out his hand, and Hermione timidly dropped the white-edged square into it. Harry waited for him either to explode or to storm out raging, but instead, he looked down at the photo and stroked his finger, just once, over the image of McGonagall, who was now smiling at his younger self.
"Aye," Moody said. "Lovely." His voice was milder than Harry had ever heard it, and he seemed lost in the past as he continued, "We didn't stay together long, Min and me. Too much heat there. Burned ourselves out. But, let me tell you --" he looked up at them and grinned wolfishly, his mad eye spinning. "While it lasted. . .it was an affair for the damn ages. I remember. . ."
A livid Molly Weasley -- hadn't she said she was going to bed? -- was standing just inside the kitchen door, her hands on her hips. "Don't you think that's quite enough?" She jerked her head at Harry and Hermione. "You two. Out. Get to bed this instant. Alastor, you should know better. . .OUT, I SAID! NOW!"
Harry and Hermione slunk into the corridor but stopped as soon as the door swung shut behind them. Unashamedly, as one, they leaned back to push it open just the tiniest bit.
"Oh, I hope she doesn't remember to put on an Imperturbable!" Hermione whispered.
But Molly seemed to have forgotten about them; her angry attention was all for Moody.
"What were you thinking, telling them such things? Minerva will kill you! They're her students, for Merlin's sake!"
"So what?" retorted Moody, apparently deciding that belligerence was his best defense. "Does that mean they have to think she's some kind of Muggle religious woman? One of those puns, or guns, or whatever they are?"
"That's just it! They don't think about it at all. And she wouldn't want them to."
"Oh, come on, Molly, hormones at that age, they don't think about anything else."
"Not in terms of the teachers, Alastor! Now this will compromise her . . ."
Only through the loudest of snorts could Mad-Eye convey the depths of his derision. "Molly Weasley. Are you seriously trying to tell me that Minerva 'Duel-to-Kill' McGonagall is going to be slowed down for even two seconds because a couple of kids know she shared a few people's beds in her day?"
Hermione and Harry exchanged looks. A few?
Moody was still talking. His voice changed subtly; Harry would have sworn he was leering. "Not that her day is over yet, not from what I hear," he said. "Amelia Bones says that Minerva and. . ."
"Mad-Eye Moody! That is absolutely enough! I will not stand here gossiping about Minerva McGonagall or anyone else. And for heaven's sake, don't start that sort of talk around Harry and the others. I think you owe Minerva better than to go sniggering about her with schoolchildren."
"Sniggering?" roared Mad-Eye. "Who was sniggering? I was telling them what a wonderful thing we had. . ."
"And what makes you think it's any of their business? Minerva has given her entire life to them and students like them. Can't she keep anything for herself?"
There was a pause.
"Argh," Moody growled finally. He sounded tired. "I don't know. Maybe you're right, Molly. Maybe. . .hell, maybe I should just go to bed."
Hermione elbowed Harry sharply. "Let's get out of here." Harry needed no urging; the two of them turned and headed up the corridor. They had almost reached the entry hall when they were stopped in their tracks by the sound of a familiar voice near the front door.
". . .wouldn't have come so late, and on the night before term at that," none other than Professor McGonagall was saying. They peered under the banister, and there she was, in her emerald robes and tall hat, standing in the hall next to Sirius. "But Dumbledore seemed to think it was important. . ."
"No, it's a good thing you did," Sirius answered. "We. . .
Behind him, Harry heard the kitchen door open, and Hermione gripped his hand in a panic. They huddled into the shadows of the staircase as best they could, but Harry knew it was hopeless: they were trapped. He felt as if bludgers were bearing down on them from both sides. They would be discovered, and there would be no possible explanation they could offer for skulking about like this. Molly would kill them first. . .and Mad-Eye would help her. . .and, after she heard the whole story, McGonagall would pounce on their sad carcasses like the predator she was.
Mad-Eye clumped up the passageway, getting closer and closer. . .and then he was right next to them. . .
And then he was stomping past. . .
And his good eye winked at them.
Stepping into the entry, he boomed, "Ah, Minerva. Lovely as ever, I see."
He followed this improbable greeting by sweeping McGonagall into his arms and waltzing her gracefully around the hall, the narrow space magically expanding to accommodate them.
Moody moved as if he had no wooden leg, as if he were thirty years younger, as if there were no one in the room but the two of them. And she fit easily into his embrace, her robes swirling, her steps matching his, as if. . .
As if, Harry realized, they had danced this dance before.
With a flourish, Moody deposited McGonagall back at the front door, cupped her face in his hands, and kissed her soundly.
"Good night, Min," he said, not even out of breath. "Black." And up the stairs he went.
McGonagall stared after him, astonished. Then she smiled a smile so intimate that Harry had to look away; Hermione, he saw, had closed her eyes.
When they looked up again, the professor, her face set in its usual stern lines, had turned to Sirius, and she spoke as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. "I'll say goodbye, then, Mr Black," she told him, and stalked out the door.
Sirius stood there for a moment, shaking his head and grinning. "Well, well, well," he said as he walked back toward the drawing room.
Harry and Hermione were left alone.
"That was really. . . " Hermione said and then stopped.
"Yeah, it was," said Harry. "You know what, Hermione?"
"I think we ought to have a picture taken of everyone in the Order, don't you?" He started toward the stairs.
"A picture? Why?"
Because of death, Harry thought. Because of death and life and dancing.
"Just an idea," he said. "Come on, let's go before Mrs. Weasley shows up."
He waited for Hermione to join him, and then they climbed the stairs to bed.
A/N -- Once in a while, my inner romantic overcomes my outer grim, and then sentiment trumps art. As in the story you've just read.
This bit of (I fear) over-constructed fluff has several inspirations:
1. The scene in OoP in which Mad-Eye Moody shows Harry an old photo of the original Order of the Phoenix. It made me wonder what else Mad-Eye might have in his memory book.
2. A picture I saw of a younger Maggie Smith. Normally, I don't think that Maggie, young or old, looks much like McGonagall at all. But in this photo, I see a resemblance. You can view the pic on Maggie Smith's MySpace page (just go to MySpace and type "Maggie Smith" into the site search engine). It's the black-and-white photo directly above the caption that reads, "The Sixties were a heady time. . ."
3. The idea of fanfic romance conventions, such as a dancing scene, for instance. I thought it would be fun to see if I could play some variations on the basic theme.