Dani has her hair pulled up into a messy bun on the top of her head. It’s curled as she hasn’t bothered to straighten it for days, and loose tendrils are falling around her face. She’s got deep purple shadows under her eyes and her lips are downturned in a sort of unaffected frown. She’s leaning with one arm on the breakfast bar. They both love that breakfast bar, Dani and Phoebe. They love so much about their Manchester flat, and they might have to say goodbye to it soon. If they go through with that risky, terrifying, gamble of a move to London they’ve been talking about lately. Dani’s legs are bare as she’s only in a pair of pants and the rest of her clothing consisting only of a green and black plaid shirt she’d nicked from Phoebe’s laundry when it was in the dryer.
Phoebe thinks she looks so fucking beautiful, even if she wishes the purple shadows and frown weren’t there. She wishes Dani felt rested and whole. Still, she’s happy to see Dani out of bed. Even if she’s only sitting at the breakfast bar and watching while Phoebe unloads the dishwasher, it’s more than she’s felt like doing the last few days.
Dani gets like that sometimes. Feels too heavy. Feels nothing but that heaviness.
Phoebe doesn’t know what to do when that happens. She’s relieved whenever it passes. But the day or so afterwards is always hit or miss, kinda like a hangover. Right now, Dani is out of bed and she’s eaten two slices of the pizza Phoebe had ordered, and that feels pretty darn good. But there’s still the frown. Phoebe would feel a lot better if Dani could manage a smile.
She knows it won’t stop the next heavy day from coming, whenever it does. But still…
Her phone is playing music on the counter. Muse’s “Starlight” finishes and the slow, subtle beginning of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’s “O Children” starts.
“Ugh,” Dani groans and Phoebe pauses with her hands full of mugs on their way to the cupboard.
“What?” Phoebe smiles.
“I just have mixed feelings about how this song was used in Harry Potter 7 is all,” she shrugs.
“Because of the haromione straight-baiting?” Phoebe grins. She had heard the rant back in 2010 when they’d watched the film together. But her editing brain combined with her casual fan enjoyment of the Harry Potter franchise meant that Phoebe liked the scene for what it was— a bittersweet, beautifully melancholic attempt by two children of war to find a moment of light in the omnipresent darkness. At least, she remembers that back in 2010 that’s how she would have phrased it if she hadn’t had to write her final analysis essay the year before.
Phoebe puts the mugs away and Dani watches her. She doesn’t say anything when Phoebe leaves the cabinets open, for once, because soon she’s back with another handful of clean mugs. Phoebe does close the cabinet then; the dishwasher is nearly empty. All the while the song progresses, it’s slow build soon introducing a background choir vocal which is always a goosebump-inducing musical element Phoebe loves.
Because of this or something else she isn’t sure of, Phoebe, lack of rhythm and all, starts to sway her hips a little bit. She looks at Dani, who has leaned her chin on her bent knee. She figures Dani knows something about omnipresent darkness. That’s what these heavy days are. Heavy days she’s dealt with for years, and which seem to be increasing of late. When the heaviness passes, things are good. But Phoebe doesn’t know how to help make it pass. And she really fucking wants to. She wants to help Dani in any way she can.
Even if it’s bittersweet. Even if it’s beautifully melancholic.
She wants to see Dani smile.
The song continues to build. The whole thing is basically one long, slow crescendo. Phoebe grabs a handful of clean silverware and the few steps she has to the drawer are taken up with attempted-rhythmic twirls. Her big t-shirt, worn as cozy pyjamas, almost acts like a skirt with the motion.
She’s not a skilled dancer. Neither were Harry and Hermione in the tent dance scene. That wasn’t the point of that scene— and it isn’t the point of what Phoebe’s trying to do here.
The dishwasher empty, she shuts it with an extension of her leg and a very gentle kick. The last minute or so of the song, the part that was actually used in the film, is a swelling of desperate reassurance. Lyrics like We're happy, Ma, we're having fun, And the train ain't even left the station and I was held in chains but now I'm free, I'm hanging in there, don't you see, In this process of elimination fill the kitchen.
Phoebe holds a hand out, asking Dani to stand and join her. Dani does; her frown is gone, and her face now displaying only muted neutrality. What they do could very generously be called dancing. Their hands are clasped, fingers threaded. Their feet shuffle, their hips and shoulders sway. Phoebe hums along with the melody.
Dani shakes her head as the song’s fade-out begins. She looks down to their feet and chuckles. She looks up at Phoebe and the corners of her lips are upturned. It’s not a full smile. It doesn’t even really reach her eyes.
Maybe Phoebe had been greedy, but it’s still far more than she had been expecting today. She’s fucking grateful for the sight. It’s a moment, hell, half a moment of relief. She tugs Dani closer with their still-clasped hands and pulls her into a hug that hangs in the silence of the room while the seconds between songs stretch in front of them.
Her phone starts playing “Lucky” by Britney Spears. Dani holds onto Phoebe tightly. So tightly. If she could only keep holding on— Phoebe doesn’t want her to ever let go.