EveryShadeofDeath requested I write a one-shot of Lucius teaching Severus to dance. Who am I to refuse? It seemed like a fine idea.
As always, I own nothing but the plot and the non-existent Chuck Norris references.
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Having friends in high-up places was not as easy as it might seem. Becoming a part of the crowd required more preparation, more knowledge, more trivia, than one might think. Being a half-blood in an elite circle of Pure-Blooded wizards was doubly difficult. They had so many things about etiquette that needed to be observed, mannerisms that needed to be followed, and strict beliefs that must be adhered to at all cost no matter one's personal feelings on the matter. This included the language one used, the way one behaved, and the skill with one must dance at elaborate events.
Severus had toyed with the idea that Lucius had been joking when he had first suggested it. He had thought Narcissa was simplying playing along with her husband. And when he had been invited on this particular day, he thought it was for their usual get-togethers on the weekends.
He had not considered that they had been serious.
And it was for this reason that Severus found himself in the elaborate entrance hall of Malfoy Manor and was being solemnly informed that he would learn to dance.
Nineteen-year-old Severus slowly shook his head.
"Don't be so obstinate, Severus," Lucius replied as Narcissa entered the room, followed by a house-elf who was carrying what looked like a large Wizarding Wireless device. She directed it to set it down at her feet, and then the house elf promptly vanished. "It's a requirement."
Severus sneered. "There will be no need, Lucius."
What happened next came as a surprise. Severus stumbled back a step as Lucius's wand was whipped out and placed underneath his chin, digging in enough that he had difficulty swallowing.
"You will learn to dance, Severus," Lucius said seriously, "or I will Imperius you at the next Gala. Am I understood?"
Severus stared at him in disbelief for a moment, his eyes flickering between Lucius, his wand, the elegant woman laughing beisde him, and the Wizarding Wireless, before he gave a barely imperceptible nod.
Lucius relaxed, giving Severus a lazy smile. "Good. Narcissa, start the music, will you?"
Still laughing, Narcissa turned to tap the box with her wand, and a cheerful medley began to play.
"Thank you, my dear," Lucius said, giving his wife a courteous little nod. Turning to Severus, he grasped his friend's hands—which were hanging limply at his side—and raised them, putting one on his shoulder and the other on his waist. Ignoring the fact that his friend seemed to be in a state of shock at this, Lucius began giving orders.
Severus took a moment to comply, stumbling in surprise when Lucius pulled him forward with impatience, knocking rather ungracefully into his friend.
"No, no, watch your feet," Lucius said patiently, and Severus pursed his lips in irritation at the amusement in his friend's voice. "Your feet should move in tandem with your partner's, but you don't want to spend your evening watching them or she'll think you have an odd fascination with her legs—"
"It is my understanding that a woman's legs are considered quite lovely," Severus bit out blithely.
Narcissa's laughter rang out through the room.
Lucius was smirking. "All in good time, Severus. And now, you want to turn—" Severus moved to the left at the same time as Lucius did, and the man had to halt him once again, "—no, no, I'm moving to the left, you will be moving to the right—"
It continued on this vein for well over an hour. However, Severus could not seemed to quite get it. Perhaps it was the awkwardness he felt in dealing with his friend in such a manner, or the fact that he couldn't seem to stop accidentally stepping on Lucius's expensive boot-clad toes, or it could very well be that Narcissa's laughter at the ridiculousness of the situation was distracting.
Lucius was a patient man, particularly with Severus, whom he had a great fondness for, but an hour of little to no progress was pushing his limits. Eventually, he pulled away, disgusted.
"Honestly, Severus!" he said, crossing his arms over his chest. "Never have I met a more hopeless case. For someone so graceful, one would think you would at least have a modicum of talent—"
He broke off as Narcissa leaned in to whisper something into his ear. Severus glared at the two of them with a sour expression, knowing very well—and not liking it one bit—that they were discussing him without even the courtesy of doing it behind his back.
Lucius's expression turned into a twisted sort of smile, the kind that made Severus reconsider whether he should turn around and flee while he still had the chance.
He pointed his wand at Severus, who took a step back in surprise. Surely his friend wasn't going to start cursing him every time he failed? Under normal circumstances, his wand would be out and he would have hexed the man into next week, but this was Lucius Malfoy. Severus had long since learned that in his relationship with the Malfoys, he was the inferior, and if he wished to remain in their good graces, was to accept their edicts as surely as if it had been given by the Dark Lord.
The surprise barely had a moment to register before Severus's mind went blissfully blank. There was the sensation of calm, peaceful contentment, something he had rarely experienced, and he found it most pleasant. He was tired of being berated for this lack of dancing intuition, of being corrected again and again with no improvement, and felt the beginning of a headache—all of this was pushed to the back of his mind, rendered unimportant, and he felt himself relax into the spell. Some part of him screamed that he was succumbing too easily, but that too was pushed away…
He was vaguely aware of Narcissa approaching him, and he looked on calmly as she took his hands into hers. The music in the background, which had been turned off after their wasted hour of attempted dance lessons, had begun again, and he heard Lucius's voice echoing in the back of his head.
Put your hand on her shoulder… the other on her waist…
He obeyed, and Narcissa began to lead.
Turn to the right… she's turning left, your left, while you turn right…
Narcissa suddenly winced as he once again trod on her toes. Where this had caused him to sullenly pull back from Lucius, the spell refused to let him.
Oh, for Merlin's sake… when her left foot goes back, step forward with your right and vice-versa!
He obeyed once more, and though everything felt vaguely unimportant, some part of him was still aware of what was going on, and was also apprised of the fact that they were actually managing it without disaster striking…
Slowly, over the next half-hour, what they had not accomplished in sixty minutes of intense teaching was managed in thirty. With his friend's voice guiding his actions in the front of his mind, corrections to his movements were made, and as his body settled into the rhythm of the music, he became more graceful, more relaxed. His gaze on Narcissa's face was hazy and unfocused, and he actually looked somewhat dazed, but his dancing was finally up to par.
Lucius's voice was silent for several minutes as Severus managed to keep rhythm on his own, and then it broke into his thoughts again:
It's your turn to take the lead… pull her forward—no, not roughly… his body obeyed Lucius's orders, and the change of lead was seamless. Good, now change direction, this time directing the movements…
Like a puppet on strings, Lucius's words translated into Severus's movements, and then his voice withdrew once more to allow Severus more free rein. He danced with Narcissa for a full ten minutes, leading them both, before Lucius ordered them to stop. Narcissa pulled away, and in the back of his mind, Severus registered that she was smiling. Lucius approached him, looked him up and down once—and later, Severus contended he must have looked very stupid, gazing emptily at the space in front of him—before cancelling the spell.
At once, the sensation of peace and contentment was gone. All thoughts moved back to their proper place, and Severus blinked in surprise as his mind became his own once more. Lucius offered him his hand.
"Now that you've got the hang of it, let's try it once more, shall we?"
Still feeling slightly disoriented at the sudden change of perspective, he took Lucius's hand, placing his other on his friend's waist, and began to lead. His body, which remembered the movements it had made earlier, had an easier time in keeping up with the pattern he was expected to follow, and Lucius only had a few corrections to make. By the time six o'clock rolled around, he was confident in his movements, dancing with both Malfoys with enviable ease.
The music came to an abrupt stop and Severus, who had been dancing in turn with Narcissa, pulled away.
Lucius was smiling.
"That wasn't so difficult now, was it?"
Severus narrowed his eyes. "Do you make a habit of Imperiusing your cohorts?"
Lucius broke into laughter.
"I don't," he said, "but Narcissa does."
Smirking at the look of surprise in his friend's eyes, he clasped a hand on his friend's shoulder and added, "How do you think I learned to dance so well?"