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Chapter 4

Halloween Dance

A few days later was Halloween, a very major holiday in the magical world. At breakfast that morning, Dumbledore announced that classes would finish early that day and that there would be a dance held that evening in Mika’s honour. Even the first years would be allowed to attend for a short time, chaperoned of course. The entire school was abuzz with excitement as they prepared for the dance , schoolwork all but forgotten. Even Professor Snape forgot to assign homework for over the weekend, but he was sure to make up for it the following Monday, so Ron pointed out.

When the evening came, everyone turned out to the grand dining room resplendent in their dress robes and party frocks. The tables and chairs had been removed except for a row along one wall where refreshments had been laid out. All the teachers were there, even Dumbledore. There were even a few faces that the students did not recognise. Ron said they were probably visiting wizards and witches. Hermione and Harry nodded in agreement. They watched as Mika was introduced to each of them, graciously smiling and shaking their hands.

The music started up and various people were starting to dance, mostly students but some teachers as well. Of course Mika was in constant demand, which she did not mind at all. Most of the men, beginning with Dumbledore himself, vied for a turn around the dance floor with the lovely timelord. Even the more daring of the students asked for a chance, and she did not refuse anyone. She was beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed by all the attention so when she had a chance, she made for the refreshment table and hid behind a cold drink.

“How do you enjoy being the belle of the ball?” Minerva McGonagal asked with a smile, handing her a goblet.
“It’s fun but I’m exhausted already!” she laughed. “Why all the visitors? Surely not just to meet me?”

“I’m afraid so. Seems that word about your wonderful lectures and, dare I say, great beauty, have gotten around.”

Mika groaned. “I wish people wouldn’t make such a fuss. You’d think they’d never seen a time traveller before,” she winked.

“Oh, no, don’t look now, but here comes trouble.” Minerva gestured towards an elegantly dressed wizard with long white hair and a haughty manner. “Lucius Malfoy. A nasty piece of work. It’s rumoured that he’s still in league with You-Know-Who,” she hissed.

“Ahh, you must be the wonderful new teacher I’ve heard so much about,” the newcomer said to Mika as he approached the two women. “I’ve heard so much about you,” he took her hand and kissed it graciously, his voice oozing with a sort of sickly charm.

“And I you, Mr. Malfoy,” Mika smiled back, trying to match his charm with her own.

His eyebrows raised. He had not expected her to know of him already. Then he noticed Mrs. McGonagal standing beside her as if she hadn’t been there a moment ago. “Ah, Minerva, how nice to see you again,” he oozed.

“Lucius,” she returned humourlessly.

Malfoy turned back to Mika. “My son says that you are one of his favourite teachers. I can see why. You are just as beautiful as he said you were. Pray tell what exactly do you ‘teach’ these children?”

“I am only here as a guest. I just tell them about my travels and try to explain how complicated and dangerous time travel can be. They seem to enjoy our little discussions.”

“Well, I’ve heard no complaints… so far,” he smiled. Just then another wizard approached him and whispered something in his ear. “If you ladies will excuse me, I am required elsewhere. Goodnight, Minerva… Mika.” He kissed Mika’s hand again and retired.

“Why do I feel like I need a shower?” Mika shook her hands out as if there was something on them.

Minerva chuckled. “That’s Lucius all over.”
Just then Mika felt a tug on the skirt of her dress. She looked down to see Professor Filius Flitwick asking for a dance. He was probably one of the few here who was shorter than she was.

“Ah, duty calls.” With a wink at Mrs. McGonagal, she smiled and returned to the dance floor with the very lively part goblin charms teacher. After a brief whirl she spotted Neville standing near the patio door pretending to examine a potted plant.

“Come on, Mr. Longbottom, you owe me a dance!” Mika grabbed his hand and dragged a very surprised Neville out onto the dance floor. He turned beet red as the other boys made faces at him like he was the teacher’s pet or something. As the song ended Mika thanked an out of breath but very happy Neville and made her way to the edge of the crowd.

Suddenly, someone stumbled and fell into her. She caught Ron and was knocked backwards, where she bumped into someone and stepped on their toes.

“I am so sorry…” she turned to apologise to whoever it was. Suddenly she found herself staring up at Professor Remus Lupin, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. She had not really met him yet, nor even spoken to him.

“I…it’s quite all right…” he stammered, clearly at a loss for words.

Mika could sense his nervousness and smiled her sweetest smile to try to reassure him. It seemed only to make things worse.

“I am Mika,” she said, offering her hand. “And you are…?” She knew very well who he was, but it gave him something to say, if he could.

“Oh, right, I’m Remus Lupin,” he took her hand and held it, his eyes transfixed to hers. A nice, slow tune began to play.

“Well, shall we?” His olive coloured eyes grew wide as he realised what she meant.

“Oh, um, well I don’t…”

He tried to protest but Mika ignored him, still clutching his hand she dragged him out to the dance floor which had lost a few dancers who had decided to sit this one out. “Why you dance wonderfully, Professor,” she smiled, still trying to put him at his ease.

“Thank you, Mika. But please, call me Remus,” he smiled nervously back. Somehow even when he smiled he still looked sad. As they danced, Mika could feel his heart pounding fiercely. Whether that was from the dancing or his nervousness she couldn’t tell. But something about this man intrigued her. She wondered why she hadn’t noticed him before.

When the music stopped, Mika made a show of being hot and tired. “Er, would you like to step out for some fresh air?” he asked, motioning hopefully towards the open French doors at the end of the hall.

“That would be nice,” she smiled.

There were very few people out on the veranda where the night air was cold and sharp. Their words formed clouds of steam as they spoke. Noticing this Lupin asked Mika if she were cold.

“No, I’m ok,” she answered as they moved to a more private corner near the railing where they could speak with more privacy. “My planet is very cold and icy. This would be a warm day.”

Lupin stared at Mika as if seeing her for the very first time. “You really are from another planet, aren’t you? I find that so amazing and difficult to believe,” he said finally. “You seem so… normal.”

The timelord laughed. “I know. That’s a common reaction really, especially here on earth. But I assure you I am. Once you get to know me better, you’ll see just how different I actually am.”

Even in the pale starlight Mika could tell he was blushing. “I would like that very much indeed,” he said softly smiling his sad, boyish smile.

He could fell his cheeks burning so he turned and placed his hands on the railing, looking up at the stars. Mika moved to stand beside him.

“So which one is yours?” he asked finally.

Mika searched the night sky for the constellation of Orion. She found the faint cloud of gas near the ‘belt’. “There. In the Orion Nebula,” she pointed. “You can’t see the planet, of course, nor the star we orbit for it’s very faint. It’s nearly… dead…” Her voice trailed off as they drew closer to each other so that he could follow her indication. She could feel his breath against her cheek and something began to stir in her that she hadn’t known for an extremely long time.

“But if your star dies, won’t it destroy your planet?” he asked, leaning back from her to look at her.

“Well, yes, if it were to explode, but not all stars explode. Some implode, and some just fizzle out like a roman candle. Poof! Then nothing, leaving all the planets in icy cold space. But it’s such a gradual process that hopefully any civilised people living on these planets would be able to generate their own source of heat and light. Fusion reactors orbiting the planet for instance. They have those on Pluto… or rather they will in a few hundred years,” she smiled.

Lupin just shook his head. “Amazing. I’ts just mind boggling that someone can travel all over the universe in time and space. You must know millions of people.”

It was Mika’s turn to smile sadly. “I have met many, known very few. It’s a very solitary life I lead. Oh, I’ve had companions but most people don’t want to leave their world and their family and friends.”

A silence fell over them both. A waning crescent moon began to appear on the horizon. Mika smiled and closed her eyes. “I just love the moonlight. It makes everything so different.”

Lupin turned his back to the moon, leaning his tall frame against the railing. Mika noticing, turned to face him.

“Are you allright?” she asked softly, her voice low and hypnotising.

“Yes. I’ts just…” his voice trailed off as he averted his eyes from her. Obviously there was something about the moon that seemed to upset him.

Mika studied his face for a moment. It was youthful yet old; careworn yet boyish; and definitely sad. There were scars running deep along the right side of his face. Even his voice was sad, but his eyes were bright and sparkling. Or were those tears she saw?

“Why are you so sad?” she asked outright. When he didn’t answer immediately she continued, searching his face.. “You have a deep dark secret. Something to do with the moon?”

At this Lupin looked up at her. “How do you know?” he began, then realised it was probably obvious. “You’re not magical and you probably wouldn’t understand,” he said, his voice tinged with resentment.

Mika leaned forward and placed her hand upon his, resting on the railing. He nearly jumped at her touch. “Try me,” she whispered.

Just then a group of students burst through the doors embroiled in some sort of argument. It was Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny Weasley.

“Going out?” Ron was squeaking, obviously very upset. “How long has this been going on? And why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because she knew you’d react exactly like this,” Hermione chided.

“I’m not a child, Ron. Besides, Mum says it’s ok, I don’t see why I would have to get your permission too,” Ginny held her ground.

“Come on, let’s get out of here.” Clutching Lupin’s hand Mika quickly guided him down the steps onto the path leading to the bridge and a little more privacy. As they moved through the shadows, she exchanged a fleeting glance with Hermione who smiled knowingly.

“Hey, where’s Mika? She’s good with advice,” said Ron looking back in towards the dining hall. “She’ll tell you that you’re way too young to be dating yet.”

Hermione put her finger to her lips and motioned to Ginny and Harry to where Mika and Lupin were making their escape. They all grinned.

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