DANCE WITH ME HARRY

By AERIE

CHAPTER 2

Sara

Sara Geddes wiped the condensation from the bathroom mirror. Fresh from her morning shower, she made a face at her reflection. She didn't like her hair. It was too short and it just wasn't blond enough. She hoped the summer sun would take care of that before she had to take matters into her own hands. She adjusted the towel around her, pushing up her breasts. She was convinced that one was larger than the other. And, despite her morning jogging, she still thought her bum was too big.

Taking a closer look at her face, she checked for lines, any lines. Laugh lines, crow's feet, frown lines. She wondered whether her eyebrows were too thick. 'Two caterpillars coming together to mate,' she had heard one boy she knew describe another girl's brows at school. No one would say that about her, she vowed. She made a moue at the mirror, then smacked her lips to try to give them a little more natural color. Looking at her freshly brushed teeth, she wondered whether they should be whiter. Maybe brushing with peroxide, like her friend Daisy, would help.

Sara Geddes could easily count a dozen things she absolutely hated about her appearance. Which made Sara Geddes and very normal, very pretty young 17-year-old woman.

She sighed and went into her room to get dressed. There was nothing to dress for. Her boyfriend was away in France for the summer. 'Why couldn't he go on a regular holiday, the beach at Brighton, or something like that,' she thought. Then she might be able to sneak away for a weekend to see him.

Instead, she would have to sit around the house while some pimply faced boy mowed the lawn. Her father was at work and her mum had the other car on some sort of charity work and her two best friends were working. So she was stranded. Sara shook her head. Just some old blouse, a pair of walking shorts and her old tennis shoes would be good enough for her 'guest.'

Promptly at 10:00, there was a knock at the door. Sara sauntered over and opened it.

"Ah...Mrs. Geddes," Harry stammered, looking at her in confusion.

Sara looked at him, a little disconcerted. He was a pleasantly looking boy, with a shock of black hair that seemed to be in mid insurrection. He was as tall as she was, and, from behind his old-fashioned glasses, he looked to have very nice, green eyes. And not a pimple in sight.

She recovered first. "No," she said sternly. "Not Mrs. Geddes. I would have thought that would be plainly evident. I am Sara Geddes, if you please."

"Of course," Harry said with a small, embarrassed smile. He mentally kicked himself for being such a clod.

"And you must be Harry," she said archly. "Here to mow the lawn."

Harry nodded.

"Well, the mower is in the garden shed. Come along and I'll show you."

Sara opened the front door wide to admit him, surprising Harry. Normally, people would simply walk out and lead him around to the back. Without a thought, he wiped his feet on the entry matt and went in.

The houses on Carton Drive were bigger than those on Privet or Queen Anne Road. But this house was more than just bigger. It was elegant. On passing through the entrance way, Sara led him through a large drawing room of Wedgewood blue with white plaster moulding. The furniture looked very expensive, yet comfortable, and the parquet wood floors were covered by a scattering of oriental rugs. The room was dominated by a large marble fireplace, above which hung a formal portrait of a handsome sandy-blond man of early middle age, a lovely woman with light blond hair and porcelain skin and a young girl, apparently Sara, with a slightly haughty, yet mischievous look on her face.

Sara led him into a hallway. Harry noticed through an open door a wood paneled library which looked to contain thousands of books, from leather-bound tomes of great age to more recent volumes on history and current affairs. Harry chuckled quietly.

"Is something funny, Harry," Sara said with a raised eyebrow.

Harry blushed a little. "I'm sorry. I saw the library and thought of how a friend of mine would be in heaven in there."

"Oh, a bookworm, is he?" Sara said.

"Oh, yes," he said with a smile. "Oh, but it's a she...I mean she's a girl," he stammered.

Sara turned and gave Harry a little smile. "Ah-ha," she murmured.

Sara led Harry through a large, modern kitchen. He could see through another kitchen door a large, formal dining room that would easily accommodate twenty people.

As Sara was leading Harry out to the back porch she glanced back at him. "And this girl would be your girlfriend, I suppose."

Harry didn't know how to respond. It was now more than a week since her had seen Hermione at the train station, but he still kept going back to the kiss she gave him. He didn't know what to think about it, but the kiss made him feel warm and happy even in his darkest moods.

"I don't know," he said. "I guess she's my girlfriend, maybe. But I think my other best friend likes her, too. It's complicated."

"All great love stories are complicated," Sara said melodramatically. "It's what makes them great."

Harry gave her a puzzled look as she led him to the shed. She was beginning to sound like Professor Trelawney, his divination teacher. Harry shook his head at the thought. "They may be great to other people, but they sure are confusing to the ones involved," he said flatly.

She turned as she opened the shed and gave Harry a quizzical, speculative look. "Well," she said after a brief pause. "Here's the mower and whatever other tools you will need. There's petrol in the tin over in the corner. Now, as I understand it, it's ten pounds for the backyard and five pounds for the front, plus five pounds for any additional weeding and general necessary yard work. Am I correct?"

"Yes, Miss Geddes," Harry said compliantly.

"Oh, please," she said rolling her eyes. "How old are you?"

"I'll be fifteen in a month."

"Well I turned seventeen in February, so I'm hardly a dowager yet. Call me Sara," she said.

Harry smiled. This was the first time she spoke like a real, friendly teenaged girl. "OK. Sara."

"Good," she said, and left to go back in the house.

Sara got up for the third time to put yet another magazine in the magazine holder in the downstairs sitting room. She was suffering from the worst disease a teenager could suffer: boredom. Her thoughts kept returning to Harry. He was a nice-looking boy, although a little shy. Clearly, he was no match for Trevor, her boyfriend, but then Trevor was nineteen and in university. He was so sexy, with muscles from years of being on the rowing team.

But Sara thought Harry might be an interesting boy to get to know. Not romantically, obviously. He's much too young, she thought. But he had potential.

Suddenly, she got an inspiration. He's involved in a three-sided romance, she thought. And he probably has no idea of how to handle it. Well, she thought, with a new determination. 'I shall be the one to show him the way to a woman's heart,' she thought triumphantly. Thus, without realizing it, Harry had gained a muse.

Harry struggled at first trying to figure out how to work the electronic weed cutter Sara had showed him. He finally figured out how to feed out the nylon line so it cut the weeds and he managed to enjoy the ease in which he could edge the lawn. He thought about doing it using garden shears to edge old Mrs. Beaupres' lawn and rolled his eyes. He could barely sleep that night for the fatigue. When he was done, Mrs. Beaupres thanked him profusely, saying her lawn had never looked so nice. But Harry didn't know if he wanted to do that good a job for her next time. He chuckled to himself as he wiped the sweat from his brow. Oh, well, the back yard done, the front yard to come.

He turned to collect his tools to bring them to the front yard, but he saw Sara on the terrace deck, waving to him. "Harry. All done back here?"

He nodded. "I'll be done with the front in an hour, maybe less," he called to her across the yard.

"Never mind that for now. Come on up and rest a while. I have some iced tea," she called.

He nodded. He liked how so many of his neighbors were nice to him. Several had given him lunch, or something cool to drink. And today was especially hot and humid, and an iced tea would do him just fine. He gratefully mounted the stairs up to the deck.

He gave Sara a shy smile as he sat down. He was used to sitting down with the man or lady of the house to chat idly over a lemonade or a sandwich. But he wasn't used to sitting down with such a pretty girl who was nearly his own age. Well, he thought, a couple minutes rest would do him well and he would just mind his manners.

Sara had brought a pitcher of iced tea and two glasses out. She filled the two glasses and sat down languidly. "So, Harry," she said with an interested look. "I hear you go away to school."

Harry took his glass and sipped it, not meeting her look. He nodded noncommittally, worried that she would press him for details the way Rev. Strowbridge had.

She looked at him with curiosity. "Do girls go there, too? Or is it an all boys school?"

Harry smiled. "Oh, yes. There's about as many girls as boys there."

Sara nodded. "So...you have a girlfriend? This bookworm of yours?"

Harry suddenly blushed. Even though he already was pink from the sun and his exertions, Sara noticed his embarrassment and smiled to herself. "Oh, don't worry if she hasn't come around yet. You're a nice looking young boy. I'm sure there's a lot of girls who would want to go out with you."

Harry shifted uncomfortably.

"Have you gone out on a date?" she asked.

Harry was still uncomfortable. "Yeah...I took a girl to the Yule Ball this year..." he said tentatively.

Sara arched her eyes and continued smiling. "Tell me about her."

Harry shrugged. "Her name is Parvati. She's from India, but I think her family's been in England since...since...oh, maybe a hundred years or so."

"Is she pretty?"

Harry nodded quickly. "Oh, she's probably the prettiest girl in Gryff...in our House. Maybe the whole school. She got long, black hair that she always keeps in a braid and she's got a beautiful face...she's not dark like a couple of the other Indian students in the school, but like a nice tan...I don't know."

Sara smiled fondly. "...and you've got a huge crush on her, this Parvati the bookworm," she ventured.

Harry looked up. "Oh, no. Parvati's anything but a bookworm," he said with a chuckle. "She wears all this makeup and is always talking about boys and makeup and clothes and all that sort of thing. We went to the ball together sort of as a last minute thing. I arranged to go with her and my best friend, Ron, to go with her twin sister Padma."

Sara tilted her head and looked at him intently. "Did you try to talk to her, at least. Maybe she has more to talk about than that if she knew how interested you were in her," Sara said quietly.

Harry hung his head. "No...I guess I was kind of a jerk. And Ron was just as bad. We were kind of surprised how pretty our best friend looked when she showed up."

Sara gave him a puzzled look and then smiled in recognition. "So it's this other girl who's the bookworm that you and your mate are crushing on. But she already has a boyfriend. Is that it?"

Harry gave a resigned shrug. "I don't know. She came to the ball with this guy. He's a transfer student from Bulgaria. He's this big sports star, but he's a little thick. And kind of ugly. But he was a seventh year, and we were only fourth years. And he's famous. So girls seem to like him, I guess."

"What's this girl's name?"

"Hermione," Harry said reverently.

"So you like this Hermione, but so does Ron. And so does this Bulgarian guy. This is getting interesting." she said with an intent stare.

Harry squirmed uncomfortably. "Look, I've got some more work to do and I better get started..." he said as he made to get up.

But Sara grabbed his arm. "Oh, don't go running off yet. I'm bored to tears here alone and you ended up a lot more interesting to talk to than the typical pimply faced boy who usually comes to do yard work around here. Have another glass and relax. Maybe we can figure out a way for you to win the heart of your lady love."

Harry sat back down, still uncomfortable, but now intrigued. He realized that he didn't know much about girls and the way they thought or acted. Hermione was the only girl he really knew well, and he desperately wanted her to like him. But he didn't know how to talk to her about something like that. Maybe Sara could help. She was a lot older and more experienced, he figured. Maybe she would know how to reach Hermione.

"So what does this Hermione look like?"

Harry got a faraway look in his eyes. "Well...she's got a real pretty face. And she's got this long wavy hair. Oh, it's like a light brown. And it tends to get all bushy unless she tries to do something with it...like at the Yule Ball. And she's got these light brown eyes. Lately, when she looks at me..." He unconsciously sighed.

Sara smiled. "I know, Harry. I understand. So what is she like?"

Harry smiled. "Well, she's the smartest wit...smartest student in the school. She's always dragging Ron and me up to the library to study or research something or other. Ron complains that she's too bossy, but she's just trying to help us with our studies. And she's very brave and loyal. We've gotten into...well, we've gotten into some scrapes together and she's always there to help us get by. She's always by our side, no matter what."

Sara nodded. "And what about your friend Ron? And her Bulgarian boyfriend?"

"Viktor isn't her boyfriend," he said, starting to get upset. "I mean...he did invite her to his castle in Bulgaria this summer. But I don't know if she wants to go. I mean, he's not her type at all. He can't even pronounce her name. He calls her Herm-o-ninny or something like that," he said with his head down.

"And Ron?"

Harry shifted again, sorting out his feelings. "Look, Ron is my best friend. But I think he really likes her, too," he said dejectedly. "If she likes him, that would be okay, I guess. I mean, I would be sad and a little jealous. But I wouldn't want to lose him as my best friend. He was mad at me when I was named a champion at...well, we had this tournament among three schools-that's why Viktor was at school this past year-and I was one of the representatives for my school. And Ron got mad because only seventh years were supposed to participate, but I got chosen and he was...I guess he was jealous or something." Harry took a deep breath.

"So, what happened with Ron?" she asked softly.

Harry shrugged. "Well, he said I cheated to get into the tournament...that I get everything...but I didn't. I really didn't," Harry said, his face a mask of sorrow.

Sara was startled. She thought she would kill a boring morning having a friendly talk with this nice young boy. But she realized he was baring his soul. Maybe he didn't have anyone else to talk to. Her demeanor suddenly changed and took on a more serious, understanding tone. "Harry, sometimes people get a little jealous. But that doesn't mean they can't still be good friends. You just said that if Ron won Hermione's heart, you would be a little jealous. But does that mean you would stop being Ron's friend?"

Harry shook his head sadly. "No."

"So he's still your best friend? Despite your disagreement?"

Harry nodded.

"So try not to worry about it. He might feel the same way about you if you won Hermione's heart. He'd be put out, but if he's a true friend, he'll get over it. You're young. And heartaches fade over time."

Harry frowned. "But don't you see. He thinks I get everything. If I got Hermione, he'd really be upset."

Sara looked at him intently. "So you'd rather walk away from the woman you love than take a chance on this Ron's friendship. Do you really think your friendship is that shallow that you can't trust him to like you if you're happy?"

Harry heaved a big sigh. "I don't know. We've been best mates for four years. He's the first real friend I ever had and the only one I can talk to about stuff. But I don't want to lose his friendship. I think I'd rather do anything than take that risk."

Sara grabbed his arm. "Nonsense. Harry, ring up Ron and talk to him. Tell him that you like Hermione. And tell him that it's okay with you if he likes her, as well. And tell him it's okay if she ends up as his girlfriend. That way, he'll know where he stands with you. And it will give him time to think about your friendship, as well as his feelings about this Hermione. Okay?"

Harry lowered his head and gave a small nod. "I guess..."

Sara leaned back and sighed with a small smile. "Ohh...are there many cute guys at this school of yours...ones that are more my age?"

Harry looked at her and was about to speak when a stricken look crossed his face. Suddenly, all the horrors, the sorrow, the nightmares began to overwhelm. All the things he couldn't talk about with Ron, with Hermione, with anyone except Dumbledore, came crashing forward in his brain.

Sara's eyes got wide. "Harry, what's the matter?"

Harry's eyes began to brim over. "There was...there was one...but he was killed. And it's my fault," he choked out.

Sara's eyes were now like saucers. "What? What happened?"

Harry put his face in his hands. "I don't...I can't..."

"Harry," she said in an urgent whisper. "What happened. Maybe it would be better if you talked about it. You didn't kill this boy, did you?"

Harry shook his head. "No. But it was my fault. It's all my fault..." He began to weep.

Sara was worried now. She was used to chatting idly with friends. But she felt out of her depth now. She had only read about or seen on the tele situations where people were in this kind of agony about such serious situations. But she knew that one thing most of the so-called experts in the magazines and on the tele agreed on was that talking about a problem was the first step in dealing with it.

"Harry. Talk to me. Tell me what happened. I will help, I promise you."

Harry wept into his hands for several minutes before he finally looked up at her with red-rimmed eyes. "They wanted me...but Cedric was just there. So they killed him...If I hadn't agreed to let him share the cup, he'd be alive," he sobbed.

Sara had grabbed Harry's shoulders and looked him in the eyes. "Who killed Cedric? Gamblers? Mobsters? The IRA? Who, Harry?"

Harry was swaying a little as he thought. "I don't know...sort of like a gang...or a cult...Volde...ah...Tom Riddle. He killed my parents and now he wanted me. But...but...when they caught up with me...Cedric was with me. And...they...they didn't have...any use for Cedric, so they just killed him...like he didn't matter...like he wasn't even a real person. But he was the best person I knew at Hog...at school. He was handsome and smart and generous...and he helped me and I helped him during the tournament. He didn't have to, but he did. That's why I refused to take the championship by myself. So we shared the Tri...the championship cup. And they killed him for it. And they almost killed me. But...I got away. And I brought Cedric's body back. But he wouldn't have been there except for me. It was my fault. I should have been the one to die. Not him. And Cho..." He paused, unable to continue

Sara leaned back in her chair, stunned, overwhelmed. What had this boy, who was weeping openly in front of her, gone through? What kind of hell had he seen?

Finally, she caught her breath and thought about what he had said. "And Cho...?" she whispered.

Harry's chest was heaving. "I...had a crush on Cho...asked her to the Ball...but she went with Cedric...Then Cedric was killed..she says she doesn't blame me...I don't know...I just don't know...the nightmares...she's always accusing me...she says she knows...it's all my fault."

Sara got up from her chair without even realizing it and stepped over to put her arms around Harry. "It's all right, Harry. It's not your fault. You didn't do anything wrong. Listen to me. You're the victim here. Not the villain. Stop blaming yourself."

Harry continued to cry on her shoulder as she stroked his back soothingly. When he finally managed to get himself under control, he gently pushed her away, his face burning.

"I'm...I'm sorry. I didn't mean to tell you...You're nice to listen...But...I don't know." he hung his head in shame.

Sara pulled her chair over so she could hold both his hands. "Harry. This Riddle guy. Have they caught him yet? Are they close?"

Harry shook his head. "They say he died back around the time he killed my parents. They don't believe he's back. They don't believe me," he muttered.

Sara reached up and stroked his hair, noticing the scar on his forehead again. She shook her head. "Harry. If you ever need someone to talk to, ring me up. I'm not the best at this sort of thing, but I'm always willing to listen."

Harry slowly raised his head to look in her eyes. She was shocked at how green they were.

"Thank you, Sara," he said in the smallest of voices. "Thank you."