Izzy here, with my fic, "Second Step," a Crouch, jr./Sinistra fic. His thoughts from the Yule Ball. To be blamed utterly on the HMS Crouching Death Eater, Hidden Astronomist on FictionAlley, but my image of her is still very different from theirs. Rowling owns them.

Second Step

By Izzy

After so many months, I think I might have just made my first slip, thanks to you. Congratulations, Professor Sinistra.

It was a mistake I could have made with anyone. There's a point where one just assumes one knows everyone's first names. And after all, back when I last saw you, you gave your first name out freely. Hearing the whispering as we dance, I'm only now realizing how lucky I am that you accepted my claim that I'd heard your first name somewhere.

Aurora. I used to call you Rorie. I assumed already noone calls you that anymore. I knew Mad-Eye Moody wouldn't, and now I think he'd just call you Professor. "Would you like to dance with me, Aurora?" A simple question, a truly dangerous slip. Only you could have done that to me, Aurora.

At least you agreed, after demanding to know how I found out your name. And now, here we are, dancing again. Do you remember this? Two-step? Of course, I could do it better with two natural legs. This was the dance we danced the night you seduced me. Or maybe I seduced you. I don't actually remember which. The wine must have had something to do with it, but I think we were sober when I first asked you to dance. I was quite taken with you and your veela-face, graceful step, and pretty little laugh. What happened to you, Aurora? When did your face become so old-and-not-pretty-looking, and when did your soft flowing golden hair become knarled and grey? When did your step lose its grace? What happened to your laugh? I've listened to you every day at the staff table and I haven't heard you laugh once. I've even heard a couple of the students remark on it.

It makes the two of us a look like a fine pair, doesn't it? We looked like a fine pair then too, even though you were a woman in her middle-aged prime and I wasn't yet twenty. Now you've grown to match my disguise.

But again, what happened to you? Was your heart broken by some other man? I couldn't have done this to you. I didn't mean that much to you...did I?

I always thought noone could mean that much to you back then. You were flittered and free, recently divorced, you mentioned once, and while you liked stargazing, noone would've thought you'd ever become a teacher. I counted myself the luckiest boy in the world to have you, for days and days you came back to me, and I marvelled. Why did you come back, after that first night? I never expected you to. I didn't want you to, either. I had other duties, to my Lord and master, and to my comrades, and I was utterly infatuated with you, and I knew what could result if I got too distracted. And of course I couldn't let you know. I certainly couldn't trust you to keep the secret.

What was your reaction, when I was arrested? I'd started making excuses to keep you away by then, and you would have been no help trialwise, even if my father had been willing to give the four of us a real trial. I wouldn't have wanted to be involved in that at all; I especially didn't want to get you in trouble. For a couple of days before we attacked the Longbottoms I'd hadn't seen you, and in fact I wouldn't see you at all after that, until I came into the Great Hall disguised as Moody on that first day of term.

I have the feeling you don't think I was a Death Eater. I know a lot of people don't, even though they've no doubts about Bellatrix, or her Roldolphus, or Rabastan. You probably felt sad when I died, and not guilty at all for feeling so. Silly girl.

Which, I suppose, brings me to the question of what I will do with you when the Dark Lord returns, and you are at my mercy. I will merely have to ask for it, Aurora, and your life will be entirely in my hands. Even my Lord won't override my decision about you, or ask any questions of me.

The answer is, simply, I don't know. Not now. I was horrified to discover you were teaching here. I hadn't thought about you for a very long time. All my memories of you were happy, so they didn't last in Azkaban. Instead I remembered your absence, and I constantly was aware that you had deserted me. At least that's how I construed it, after living the memory from the trial of searching for you in vain so many times, even though I hadn't wanted you there. Nor were any memories permitted to me under the Imperius curse. And those times when I could access my memories, I struggled not to. There were more important things to think about.

But aside from gleaning a fact from Potter to file away for later, there isn't now. Or at least there doesn't seem to be. I think this dance was a mistake. I could never dance with you without falling for you all over again. I thought I could now. I was wrong.

You might not be beautiful in the conventional sense anymore, but there's something about you, Aurora, some sense of a fragile thing broken, that I didn't notice until we got this close, but raises long-dead emotions in me. Now that you've gotten used to the leg, you've inched rather close. You aren't looking at me; your eyes are lowered, as if you're remembering something. It's me, isn't it? By not really dancing with me, you truely are, in your head.

I love you, Aurora. Merlin's beard, I love you.

Maybe it won't be that hard. Maybe if you are thinking of me now, you'll be willing to join me. You never really were committed to a side, were you? You wouldn't reject me because I did turn out to be a Death Eater, would you?

Because if you did, I would probably be forced to kill you, or hold you prisoner. I can't let my feelings for you interfere with my duty to my Master.

I won't talk to you again after this, Aurora. I will savour this dance in the months to come, until my duty is done, you find out the truth, and then....


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