|webmistresses (webmistresses) wrote in severus_sighs,|
@ 2010-02-12 08:55:00
|Entry tags:||event: anti-valentine's day 2010, fic, member: faeryqueen07, pairing: severus/ginny, rating: g|
A Ghostly Ballet by FaeryQueen
Title: A Ghostly Ballet
Word Count: 1,955
Warnings: None...aside from the Het pairing.
Summary: Severus spends yet another Valentine’s Day trapped in the past...until Ginny comes along to help him finally move forward.
A/N: No magic in the world could make me the owner of anything Harry Potter. That privilege belongs to JK Rowling, et al. Great thanks to SouthernBets for putting aside her distaste for Het long enough to beta this for me. While it’s canon compliant, I decided to sweep the epilogue under the rug.
Severus remembered that summer as clearly as though it were just yesterday even without the aid of a pensieve. The gentle breeze that made the leaves dance on the tree branches, the warmth of the sun on his face and the sight of her, his Lily, dancing through the tall grass in the grove. Barefoot and smiling, she would follow the music that played only in her head, step-step-twirl-step, her bare legs flashing as her summer dress flared up. The long stream of rich, auburn hair would float and flutter around her, carried by her movement.
He recalled how she had laughed; the sound was so pure it would make his chest ache and his stomach knot. Just watching her dance had been painful, because even then, he had understood that she was not truly his. He had known, but that had not stopped him from watching her, his eyes following every twist, every leap and every sway of her hips.
Often, he would find one of those graceful, slender arms stretched out toward him, slim fingers beckoning for him to join her in her dance. Always, Severus would shake his head, refusing to leave the shelter of the trees. He was neither graceful nor beautiful; his place was not at her side, though it pained him to admit that.
Severus opened his eyes, unsurprised to find himself back in that small grove. The air around him hummed with the sound of grasshoppers searching for their mates, and there was a faint scent that hung around him, indescribable, though he knew it to belong to the willows, the only respite from the summer’s sun. The memory was a powerful tool, but the Room of Requirement was even stronger, bringing to life a place that had long ago ceased to exist. It could not, however, bring back the dead. At best, it could give him a phantom image of boyhood love, just as physically out of his reach now as he had thought her to be so long ago.
Why he came back here, year after year, Severus did not know. It wasn't as though Valentine's Day had any particular meaning for him, not where Lily had been concerned. He had shunned the holiday as a schoolboy, and as a professor, he treated the day as he would any other. Or at least, he had. His brush with death -- six months spent in a coma and a year spent in rehabilitation -- had changed him in many ways. Though he still did not encourage friendliness with his fellow staff members, he was far more tolerant of them now than he had been in the past. He also found that he could sit idly for hours on end without becoming restless. He was, in a word, calmer.
The ghost of the girl Lily had once been waltzed passed, her feet carrying her through the practiced steps as she laughed.
‘Come on, Severus. Don’t be so glum. Come dance with me!’
Though the phantom had no voice, Severus’ memory supplied one.
“I’m too old, Lily.”
There was no reply to that. His Lily, the one who was spinning around and around, with her arms spread wide and her head tipped back, was eternally youthful.
‘Severus! Severus, watch this!’
And he watched, just as he had thirty-seven years ago, his eyes never leaving her even as his heart ached to join her. Losing himself in his living memory, Severus forgot about the present. If he had one regret, it was that he had not taken that hand when it was being offered. Severus closed his eyes, his heart breaking once more.
~ * ~
Glad that she had declined to act as a chaperone at the Valentine’s Day dance the fifth, sixth and seventh year students were having, Ginny wandered up to the seventh floor. She had never been overly fond of the holiday, but being alone always made it stand out just a bit more. Since it had been a while since she has last visited the Room of Requirement, Ginny figured she would be able to relax without the threat of interruption.
She hadn't thought anyone else visited it, and so she was more than a little surprised when the door didn't appear after she made the requisite three passes. Ready to give up, Ginny turned away, only to stop when the faintest strains of a haunting melody caught her ear. A glance over her shoulder revealed that a door had appeared. It stood ajar and Ginny, unable to ignore her curiostity, peeked into the room, her eyes widening in shock.
What Ginny saw, she could only call a nightmare. Severus was sitting on what appeared to be a log, his face so pale it was nearly colorless and his eyes fastened on the phantom image of a woman dancing. The trees standing in one corner were dead, their boughs drooping so low they lay on the floor. Ginny glanced down at the ground, her nose wrinkling with disgust when she noticed the dried up grasshopper bodies. The stench of decay filled the air and Ginny wondered just how it must look to Severus to keep him so transfixed.
She had meant to call out his name when she stepped into the room, but the sensation of foreign magic settling over her distracted Ginny. Glancing down, she found herself wearing a pale yellow gossamer dress and her feet were bare. She shuddered at the thought of stepping on dead bugs, but when she checked, she found that the grass was lush, the grasshoppers were no longer dead and that the small corner of the park they were in was once again alive. Severus' ghostly companion, however, was still naught but a shade dancing in the grass.
She wondered what she was supposed to do, dressed up like a deceased loved one and in someone else's memory. She had figured out already that the memory image was of the late Lily Potter, but beyond that, she was clueless. Lily twirled towards her, and Ginny felt herself moving in sync, falling into the steps of a dead woman.
They moved together, the past overlapping the present, violent green eyes illuminating gentle brown ones. The room had matched Ginny’s attire to memory-Lily’s, and they were evenly matched in height and build. The only real difference, aside from their eyes, was Ginny’s paler complexion and the fine dusting of freckles on her face and arms.
Gliding, twirling, bending and twisting, they moved as one through the grass, occasionally passing by Severus, just out of reach. Ginny gave up fighting the magic of the room and of the castle and let herself be carried by it instead. On her third pass, she could hear the words forming in her throat, and when they emerged, she was surprised to hear her own voice and not that of the specter. Severus, it seemed, had noted the difference as well, for his eyes focused sharply and his body tensed. When she drew close to him once more, the room loosened its hold on her and she stopped dancing completely.
“Come, Severus,” Ginny encouraged, one hand outstretched. “Come and dance with me. Just one dance.”
She could see the hesitancy in his eyes, could sense the doubt that corrupted his soul, and she made up his mind for him. Stepping closer, she took one of his pale, slender hands within her own and pulled him to his feet. At the same time, the music changed to something more modern, the first few notes of Eluvium's 'Radio Ballet' swirling around them.
The music wasn’t particularly fast, but it allowed for modified a version of a Viennese waltz. Ginny sent up silent thanks that she had allowed her mother to bully her into dance lessons. Because of them, she was able to move with a confident ease, allowing Severus to take the lead. She was mildly surprised that he could dance, and a small part of her assumed that he had learned so that he could dance with his ghostly Lily.
They moved in wide circles, their feet slowly wearing a path in the grass beneath them. Neither spoke, but the silence that hung around them was neither strained nor weighted; it was completely relaxed. Not even a grasshopper could be heard, and Ginny felt herself slowly let go until her head rested against a thin, yet strong chest. Severus’ arm curved around her shoulders, drawing her closer as their steps slowed. As ‘Radio Ballet’ faded into ‘Prelude for Time Feelers,’ the scene around them began to melt away until they were standing in a simple ballroom. The false sunshine disappeared, replaced by candles scattered throughout the room, their little flames flickering in their own dance.
When the music ended and the Room of Requirement returned to its normal state – assuming that it had a normal state – Ginny released her hold on Severus almost wistfully. It had been nice to dance with someone, and even nicer not to spend this particular evening alone. Blinking slowly into the dim light, she stared up into Severus’ obsidian gaze, wondering what he was thinking.
“Ginny. Just call me Ginny, Severus.”
He nodded, his expression unreadable. “Ginevra—”
“Gin-ny. It’s really not that hard, Severus,” she cut in, laughing. “Just Ginny. I really can’t stand being called Ginevra.”
A muscle in his jaw twitched and Ginny doubted it was because he was holding back a smile.
“I would greatly appreciate it, Ginny,” he ground out, making her name sound like a curse, “if you would refrain from interrupting me while I am in here again.”
She supposed she could have taken offence to the coldly delivered words, but Ginny had known Severus for seventeen years. She was aware that this was his defense against being hurt, and it saddened her that he would use the tactic even with her. Lips curving up in a gentle smile, Ginny stood on tiptoe and pressed a kiss to one pallid cheek.
“Thank you for the dance Severus, and no, I won’t tell anyone what I saw.”
He nodded, too shocked by her rather bold move to do much more. When he did not curse her, however, Ginny took that to mean he wasn’t sick of her presence. Moving close once more, she looped her arm through his and gently guided him towards he door.
“You know, Severus, I was thinking some tea before retiring for the evening sounded nice. Would you care to join me? I’ve been told that you can see beneath the lake in your rooms and I’d love to see it. Would you mind?”
Severus opened his mouth to refuse, and perhaps to chastise her for her presumptuous request, but then he paused. He hadn’t noticed it until just then, but for the first time in nearly thirty-five years, the regret he had borne over losing Lily’s friendship had lessened incredibly. It was as though all his ghosts had been chased away. Staring down into the sweet, happy, alive face before him, Severus decided that maybe, just maybe, it was time to let go of the past and embrace the future.
“I believe, Ginny,” and she noted that he said her name almost fondly, “that that can be arranged. Provided, of course, that you can name the ingredients used to brew my superior version of the Wolfsbane potion. In order.”
“Oh, why that’s easy!” Ginny exclaimed, rolling her eyes just a bit. Arm still tucked through Severus, Ginny rattled off random potions ingredients, her eyes dancing with merriment as he caustically reprimanded her. All of a sudden, she thought, the evening looked a whole lot more exciting.