the dance

She loves to dance.

That's the one thing he's learned from watching her.

Every night, at exactly midnight, she slips out of the Gryffindor common room and ghosts silently down the Great Hall.

They move the tables at night, you know.

She tiptoes through the Entrance Hall, stops when she reaches the doors, looks around to make sure no one is watching her, then slips through the portal - the portal that plucks her out of this dark, dank reality and transports her to a world of dreams. A world where she can fly.

And he glides along behind her, following her, sliding smoothly between the doors as they swing shut behind her.

She sets her bag in the middle of the floor, slips out of her shorts and t-shirt, and stands there for a second, arms outstretched at her sides, head up, eyes closed.

Her pale pink tights gleam silver in the moonlight, as do her shoes. They're the kind with wood in the toes, the kind that blister her feet and bruise her perfect alabaster skin. (He hated those shoes at first - hated how they marked her beautiful skin, scarring her forever. He hated watching her tenderly clean the blood and pus from busted blisters off of those beloved shoes while the evidence of the stain still leaked slowly down her feet. It is a perfect example of her character, though, he thinks, putting other things before herself - always before herself.) The black leotard encases her torso, hugs all her curves in that sensuous way that makes warmth tiptoe up and down his spine. It shimmers dimly, catching the light as she shifts slightly, bending her knees and preparing for the first step.

And then, she is dancing.

At first, it is just her arms. They come up, up, up, and over her head, twisting together in complicated patterns. Then it's her toes, that slight rising up of her body that signifies the beginning. Her feet move round and round, circling each other, never missing a beat, always landing exactly where she wishes them to.

Then she is flying, leaping through the air, twisting, turning, jumping—batterie, entrechat, fouette, jete, pirouette, plie; he knows all the terms. He hears her say them to herself as she moves about the room, her feet barely more than whispers on the floor.

Sometimes she stops. Sometimes, abruptly, her eyes will open, her feet will stop their movements, and she will move on to something else, or go back and redo a step that she missed. She redoes them over and over, until everything is perfect, every movement flawless. And then she picks back up again.

It is only these little moments that remind him that she really is human, instead of a lost angel bound to earth by the world's woes. It is only these moments that remind him that she is not perfect. No one is. He knows that. But, to him, she…she's always been the closest.

She never knows he is there. It remains his little secret. She slips out, she dances, she packs up, and she goes back up to her dormitory; she never has any reason to believe he is there. After all, what kind of person dons an Invisibility cloak and memorizes the location of every squeaky stair just so they can watch someone dance? He thinks that this sort of behavior is right up his alley. Apparently the thought of having a stalker has never occurred to her.

No, not a stalker. Never a stalker. It's obsession and infatuation, and even the beginning phases of teenage love, that draw him here every night.

Sometimes, he wishes he could dance with her. He has been to Muggle ballets—his mother loves dancing as well. He has seen the men in their tights and leotards moving in perfect sync with their female partners. He wishes he could join her on the dance floor, twirl her around, lift her up in the air, and carry her away to the stars.

He laughs to himself because he knows this is yet another metaphor for their lives. His wanting, his love - her utter lack of awareness of his presence. Her magic, her beauty, her otherworldliness - his simple mediocrity.

Once again, the clock strikes two, and she stops for the night, spinning gracefully to a standstill. She slips her clothes on, takes her shoes in her hands, and lets the cool stones of the floor soothe her feet as she walks back up to the dormitory. He follows her, as always, and slips into the common room behind her, watching until she disappears up the staircase before heading up to his own room.

He takes off the cloak and lies down in his bed, the sounds of his friends' snores encasing him like a cocoon. His eyes droop shut, and there, as always, printed on the back of his eyelids, is her face.

She will wake up tomorrow, he knows, and cheerfully go about getting ready as she always does, never casting a glance to the wardrobe where her bag is hidden. She will go about her day, smiling and radiating that glow that always seems to come from her, the one that draws people in like a moth to a lamppost. Only he will join her in this knowledge of the secret she has. As close as she gets to flying during the day, it is only he who knows how high she can really soar on the wings of her dancing.

He slips into a gentle slumber and, as always, he dreams of her.

She is standing once again in the middle of the Great Hall, arms spread and head lifted as usual. He walks towards her, his own feet barely making any noise in their ballet slippers. The tights are uncomfortable, but the discomfort is not what he is focusing on. He only sees her, notices her bottle-green eyes and dimpled smile as she looks at him and reaches for his hand. The music begins, and she takes off, carrying him in her wake, and they rise into the starry sky, moving past the moon and the sun, up into the heavens, where an audience has come to watch him and his Lily dance.

Edit 10/27/2009: Beta'ed with the help of the lovely Apurva :) Please review and let me know what you think.