WHO: Everyone’s invited
WHERE: Village hall
WHEN: 30 June 2001, evening
Couples must not stop dancing except during designated five minute rest periods every hour on the hour. Couples must always be in contact with their partner. If the judges (Parvati Patil and Veronica Smethley) see a couple stop dancing or break contact, the couple will be disqualified and asked to leave the dance floor. As if that’s not enough pressure, there’s a massive gilded clock looking down on everyone ticking away the time.
There’s two bands playing, both of which performed during the Badger Festival. They alternate during the rest periods and try to keep momentum going with lively tunes.
The last couple standing will split the winnings with the HHRA and get a lovely bouquet from Whoops-A-Daisy. Second and third place also win a gift basket from Heaven Scent (including foot lotion, of course!).
Parvati had been looking forward to this all month and now it was finally here! And only one member of the HHRA had been reduced to tears while setting up for the event, which already meant it was the least dramatic occasion that they had hosted since she had moved to Helga’s Hill.
A sea of dancers seemed to be watching her and Roni expectantly as Parvati peered at them from the stage that had been specially erected for the band.
“Sonorus,” she murmured, the tip of her wand pressed to her throat. “Everyone, I hope you’re ready for this! Hopefully there won’t be any cheaters, but we’ll be watching you carefully just in case. If one of us taps you one the shoulder, I’m afraid that means you’ve been eliminated, so please leave the floor as quickly as you can and try not to disturb other dancers.” Parvati grinned at Roni, trying not to bounce. “Good luck. And… let the first ever Helga’s Hill Dance-A-Thon begin!”
Astoria arrived shortly before the start so she could stake out a seat with a good view. She beckoned Ophelia to sit beside her and flashed her a peek of the silver flask she’d slipped into the pocket of her robes. “To keep things interesting!” she whispered. “Also—” She held up a small chalkboard and gave it a tap with her wand, and it suddenly displayed a flashing number: 6.2. “If the judges won’t score on quality, I figured we could.” She passed Ophelia a chalkboard of her own and smiled to herself as she settled more comfortably into her seat. This was going to be fun!
“Ready to show ’em how it’s done, then?” Hannah grinned, grabbing Blaise by his undoubtably expensive tie and pulling him onto the dance floor with a naughty grin. She was decked out in a 1940s style dancing dress and high heeled saddle shoes, so she was glad that her dance partner was equally dapper.
She winked at him. “We’ve already won any and all awards for best dressed.”
Blaise had dressed to impress. Not that there was any other option in his life. It was simply what he did and tonight that meant donning spats and a waistcoat to dance the rest of these so-called challengers into submission.
He couldn’t help but flash a grin as Hannah found them a spot on the dance floor. “As if there was any real competition in that regard,” he told her confidently.
“That’s true,” Hannah said with a smirk. You almost had to feel bad for the rest of the participants. She and Blaise were clearly the target to shoot for in regards to dressing the part and everyone else had failed to hit the mark.
She wiggled a playful finger at him. “Now remember, don’t take your hands off of me.”
Blaise held up his hands and gave his fingers a wriggle. “Never heard that from you before, but your wish is my command.” He smirked and pulled Hannah into a dance hold as they were given a reminder of the rules. A small, niggling part of him wondered if this was a mistake. He could dance, of course, but this competition wasn’t about style, however much he wished it was. He was going to need Hannah’s Hufflepuff exuberance to get him through this.
“So who do you think we need to watch out for?” he asked in a low voice, leaning close.
Blaise had nice strong arms, Hannah noted in the back of her mind. Not, of course, that she hadn’t noted that many other times while admiring said arms across the breakfast table. Really, if one had to have a flatmate, one as aesthetically pleasing as hers was really was the way to go. It didn’t hurt that he smelled nice and didn’t leave a mess all over the cottage either.
“Hmm,” she murmured, tipping her lips up towards his ear and whispering conspiratorially. “You’ve always got to watch out for Brown and that was true even before she got the preternatural grace advantage. And Fawcett can be rather ruthless.”
“Here I thought Fawcett was only good at the horizontal tango,” Blaise whispered. Hannah had a point, though. Once you eliminated all the older folk, those who had been roped into participating because their other half was on the Residents’ Association committee, there were a few young, fit participants who might be able to last the night.
“If we get close enough, we can always try to trip them,” he suggested.
Hannah pretended to look shocked. “That wouldn’t be very sporting of us, Mr Zabini. And in the birthplace of the Hogwarts Founder known for just and fair play, too. I’m shocked. just shocked.”
It was true that Hannah wouldn’t trip anyone herself, actually. But she’d probably be willing to look the other direction while Blaise did so.
Blaise chuckled. “You just keep practising that shocked face for when they fall on their arses.” That would be a sight to see. That said, it was probably best not to try any sneaky manoeuvres on the werewolf and Orpington’s assistant; having been raised by his mother, he had a healthy respect for strong women. Women a lot like Hannah, actually.
The music started with a cheer from the watching crowd. “Are you going to remember to let me lead?” he teased as they started to move.
“Depends on how you perform,” Hannah said cheekily, though she easily fell into step with him. She waggled her eyebrows. “Show me what you’ve got, Zabini.”
She had the distinct feeling that he wasn’t going to disappoint.
“My performance is always top-notch,” Blaise assured her, turning her away from a couple who seemed to have legs like jelly. If Blaise wasn’t careful, he and Hannah might end up literally knocked out, which would bring the night to an unfortunately early end.
Making sure to keep contact, he guided Hannah into into a spin. As she came back to him, he added, “And I always aim to please.”
“I’m sure you do,” Hannah said, meeting his eyes and letting her body meld to his in a manner that really could not be called proper dance hold. But where was the fun in being proper all the time? Especially when your dance partner was all warm and firm and damnably attractive?
She cocked an eyebrow. “That’s something that we have in common.”
Blaise let both his hands come to rest on her hips. The rules didn’t specify exactly how they had to stay in contact, after all. “I think we have a lot in common,” he agreed, trying to concentrate on leading her in a dance that might be considered vaguely latin. It was hard to ignore, though, just how well her dress was tailored to her figure.
“That’s why we’re going to keep this going all night.”
“All night, hmm?” Hannah asked before unconsciously licking her bottom lip. “I do like a man with ambition.”
She hadn’t realized that was true before she said it. Justin certainly hadn’t been particularly ambitious. His life was already more or less laid out before him and he accepted it. But she found that she did admire the trait in Blaise. Not that Blaise and Justin really belonged in the same category, of course.
Pushing the thoughts aside, she slipped her arms up to twine about his neck. “I’m not going to be satisfied with second best, you know. I hope you’re ready to sweat.”
“Then you need to meet more Slytherin men,” he joked. “We’re teeming with ambition.”
His breath caught slightly as she held him closer, despite having expected it. She’d done something pretty with her eye makeup, he noticed. “I’ll do all I can to make sure you come first. Satisfaction guaranteed.”
Hannah felt a blush creeping up the back of her neck as heat curled through her down to her toes. She hadn’t missed that little hitch in Blaise’s breath and it felt good to know that she wasn’t the only one who was feeling the effects of this new close proximity. Perhaps there was a reason their relationship had never involved much touching before tonight.
She also suddenly cared a whole lot less about the stupid Dance-A-Thon.
“I’m looking forward to having you prove it,” she breathed. looking up at him from beneath her eyelashes. “I suspect we’ll both feel pretty damned good afterward.”
“Yeah.” Blaise nodded slightly. “I have the same feeling.” He missed a step then, nearly stumbling and correcting himself quickly. A joke about falling for her lay just within reach, but he realised that would be taking the flirting too far. Because that was what this was, wasn’t it? Flirting was a lot more interesting than dancing, though he’d always known that.
“I just hope you can keep up with me.”
“Oh, I can keep up,” Hannah said, a really unforgivable smirk spreading across her face both at the knowledge that Blaise had lost his footing for a moment and in complete confidence about her, well, skill set.
She leaned up to whisper in his ear. “I’m very energetic. Determined. Flexible. I can handle anything you throw at me.”
“Yeah?” Blaise smirked, his expression mostly hidden from others as they danced. “I’m looking forward to seeing that. Maybe when we get out of here later.”
Hannah was happy to have it acknowledged that they were both speaking in double entendres. You never could be sure with Slytherins, after all. The confirmation of that, however, destroyed the last vestiges of interest she had in the Dance-A-Thon. There would be other chances to dance herself right off her feet.
And she already knew that Blaise had had no interest in the competition to begin with.
“Or we could get out of here now?”
AJ and Alicia happened to time their arrival right before the 5-minute pause at 9, which was perfect for their attempt to slip onto the dance floor undetected when the dancing kicked off again. There were enough couples still in play that they could try to blend in, but they were fresh and full of energy as some of the others around them were starting to fade.
“I’m feeling very good about our chances!” AJ shouted into Alicia’s ear, over the music, then attempted to twirl her, somewhat clumsily. He could keep the beat well but he didn’t exactly have any “moves.”
Tom had come home for a quick bite to eat before bundling Alfie off to the Dance-A-Thon. Technically he wasn’t even supposed to go home for dinner, but he had accrued enough brownie points for the Head Healer to look away. Tom put a tracking charm on his young son, handed him a bag of snacks and games and bid him farewell. Only a few more hours and he’d be properly off shift.
Alfie wandered around for a bit before plonking himself down. Some party! Just a bunch of grown-ups dancing. He dunked all his Pokemon trading cards out of the bag and began spreading them out on the floor.
People were having fun. It was enough to make Zacharias vomit. Luckily contestants weren’t being judged on style or the whole competition would have been called off before it had even started.
Zacharias’s eyes fell on Andrei and Isolde. He scowled. Were they supposed to be an item? Merlin help the inhabitants of Helga’s Hill if all it took to land someone was broadcasting your singledom all over the journals.
They moved towards his side of the room and he made a gagging gesture as they passed across, backs turned.
Sasha was an incredibly good sister. That was the only explanation for why she was at this silly event watching her brother and sister spin around the dance floor with their respective partners. At least they both seemed to be having fun. Andrei and Isolde Montgomery might break something or someone by the end of the evening with their enthusiasm, but they looked happy. And Sabina, well, Sabina always looked happy when she was with Gus.
She felt a pang and wished that she felt that way about her own fiancé before swiftly pushing it aside. She was cold and heartless, after all, and that worked for her.
“What’s with you?” she asked, taking the seat beside Zacharias. “Particularly annoyed with my brother this evening? What’s he done?”
Zacharias tore his gaze swiftly away from the dancing couples. “Apart from his desire to have a horde of Muggles descend on the town, his crazy enthusiasm for what amounts to a pub team for Quidditch, and the time he threw poo at Orpington’s head?” Though that was pretty funny. He fought hard to keep his expression neutral.
“Really, though, it’s nothing personal. Just a comment on the quality of the dancing.”
Sasha rubbed her temple and shrugged. Her brother really was rather unbelievable sometimes. She’d hoped that their year under the Carrows would be the height of his Gryffindor hotheadedness, but he didn’t seem to be planning on slowing down anytime soon.
“Just be glad you’re not the one dancing with her again, hmm?” She remembered Zach sulking to Daphne after the Yule Ball all too well.
“Well I don’t think she picked her victim’s name out of a hat and the poor bloke had to accept under pain of death,” said Zacharias.
“Are they an item?”
Sasha snorted. “My brother wishes. He’s had a thing for her for years. Maybe he’ll finally get his chance now.”
She shrugged. Frankly she didn’t care that much who Andrei dated as long as it didn’t enrage their mother enough that she had to deal with her. That was one arena where Sabina was a blessedly simple sibling.
“Years?” Zacharias echoed Sasha’s snort. “Why would you wait years? Rather cowardly for a Gryffindor. Just ask and get it over with.”
“Take that up with Andrei,” Sasha said with a shrug. “As long as his love life manages not to have any effect on my life, then I’m not much invested in it to be honest.”
So, as long as her brother didn’t take the half-blooded Isolde Montgomery home and announce an engagement, they’d be just fine.
Well, they hadn’t won, but Audrey hadn’t really expected to win. She’d been in it solely for the fun of it all. Plus, it was nice to have an excuse to spend time with Percy. She liked him. He was smart and nice and he’d stood up for her when Andrew and Andrei had been being mean to her. Plus, she found it fairly adorable whenever he got flustered about something and a blush crept up the back of his neck. He was altogether a nice companion and she was glad for an excuse to hang out with him.
“That was fun!” she laughed breathlessly as soon as they made it off the dance floor.
Percy hadn’t expected to win either, and in fact he was surprised that they’d lasted as long as they had. Or, more accurately, he was surprised that he’d lasted as long as he had. He probably hadn’t danced for more than one song in a row prior to tonight, but now here he was, dancing with Audrey to song after song.
Well, they had been dancing. Until they got out. Still, Percy was pleased with how far they’d gotten, and even more pleased with how much fun he was having. Audrey had a nice laugh. He smiled at her, letting it wash over him, before responding, “I hope you don’t regret your choice in partner.” After all, it was his fault they were out.
“Tough luck, Chubs,” AJ said, appearing beside his sister and giving the top of her head the sort of older brother tousle that was designed to do the most damage to her hairdo. “Good effort, though.” He smiled and braceed himself for the possibility that he was about to get a lecture for stepping away from his books…
Audrey ducked away from her brother’s hair-ruining hand and glared at him briefly. Sure, her hair was kind of a mess anyway after several hours on the dance floor, but that didn’t make it less rude to make it worse.
“I don’t mine losing,” she said with a shrug. “I was just in it for some fun, really. Percy was nice to humor me.”
“Yeah, good man,” AJ agreed, glancing around for him. He’d have to thank him sometime for indulging his kid sister.
“It is too bad though, I’m sure you could have put that prize money to good use. Like sharing with your brother.”
Parvati’s feet ached and she wasn’t even dancing. She’d spent the whole evening on her feet, but the end was in sight. All they had to do was crown Stella Chambers and Barney Dunstan as the winners, then it would be time to send everyone home (or to Falafelly Good) while they took down the decorations. However tired she was, though, the smile on Parvati’s face wasn’t fake. The evening had gone off without a hitch, even better than hoped. (AJ was going to be getting a bollocking later and of course she was going to tell his parents — if they hadn’t already heard — but she was going to ignore that for now.)
The prizes were all lined up to give out, the band were ready for their last dance slow number and the photographer was ready to snap the winners. Parvati was so pleased that she almost felt like she’d won herself. Perfect.