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Chapter 6: Crush
disclaimer: it's Jo's except for Alice and Raina. :D And Grayson. Well, any characters you recognize belong to her.
Indescribable is how I feel today. Just indescribable.
It’s funny, because I’m describing how I feel today by even saying indescribable. I wonder if anyone else has ever thought about that....no?
Alright then, I’ll move on.
I skip down the steps in the Entrance Hall happily, reveling in the fact that I’ve got someone who’ll listen to what I actually have to say. I doubt Myrtle can actually empathize with me, but it’s a start. A good one, for sure.
People are chatting in the Entrance Hall before class about various things: assignments, teachers, classes, anything else of mere importance. They’re shouting across the Entrance Hall at each other, saying “How’s it going, mate?” and “Oi! What’s your next class?”
That’s when I hear an especially loud boy’s voice yelling, “OI! You! It’s you!”
I continue to skip, assuming that the boy is talking to someone else, but he shouts, “Stop! STOP! Wait up!”
I feel vibrations through my feet as the pounding of the boy’s feet approach me, closer and closer. I pay no mind to it. But as a reflex, I glance behind me when the vibrations are pretty strong.
My mouth drops open as I see Albus Potter only a few feet away from me, panting as he catches up to me, and fast. I want to run. I need to run. But I freeze up for a couple of seconds, like a gnome in wand light once again, and then my feet move for me. I run through the doors of the castle, sprinting to my Herbology class. I hear heavy panting once more as Albus sprints behind me. Unfortunately, I am fast, but he is faster. He catches up to me and flings his long arm out in a desperate effort. It winds around my waist, crushing me against him. He holds me there even though I fight his grip, dragging me behind the other greenhouses that aren’t occupied at the moment.
As soon as he releases me, I sink against the greenhouse wall, but not yet in defeat. Maybe if I bolt when his gaze on me is not as intense, an escape plan might actually work.
“So...” Albus begins hesitantly. “Sprite?”
An amused smile starts spreading across my face. “Sure. Sprite works.”
“Is that your name or not?”
Albus impatiently runs a hand through his messy black hair. “Stop trying to keep me guessing,” he complained. “There’s no harm in telling the truth!”
Oh, but there is. I want to tell Albus this, but then he would pry even further. I cannot allow that to happen.
“I have a Herbology class to get to,” I remind him, who is still searching my face for answers.
“Why don’t you stop playing hard to get and tell me about yourself, then?” Albus retorts as stern as the famed Professor McGonagall.
I am in disbelief as I hear his words. What, does Albus think this will be the same game as the one his grandparents went through? No, absolutely not! For one thing, I don’t even hate Albus. And I am definitely not playing hard to get. I don’t even want to be “gotten.”
“Before you try to interrogate me, you should get some things right,” I say firmly, standing up as I speak. “I am not trying to play hard to get. I will never be trying to play hard to get with you. I don’t know where you even got that idea, but I am not one of those gossipy girls who read Witch Weekly and the like that you always date.”
Albus’s eyebrows contract as he slowly comprehends what I’m saying.
“I want you to stop searching for me. Take the “Sprite” sign down because it’s ridiculous. You found me already! What else do you want?”
My voice grows steadily more sarcastic and angry. To my surprise, Albus calmly smiles.
“Fine, I agree to your terms. I have one of my own that you’re going to have negotiate with me, though.”
My eyes narrow and I spit out, “Bring it on.”
I regret the words as soon as they leave my mouth, tasting bitterness as memories return to the forefront of my mind. This is another factor that gets me in trouble with the eldest Potter. I honestly need to check my words before I speak. My suspicions are confirmed by Albus’s grin spreading even wider across his face.
Why isn’t it snapping yet?
“Tell me why you’re hiding from me. Am I really that bad of a person?” He quickly glances around consciously, but I can see a hint of a smile flickering on his face.
I snort. “There’s nothing wrong with you.”
And I desperately want to add, “There’s nothing wrong with you at all! You’re absolutely perfect! It’s just the fact that, you know, you and that evil spawn are related.”
Sometimes I think I’m just too good of an actress.
“Don’t tell me this is one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” situations,” Albus waves a hand dismissively. “Blimey, I hate it when girls say those things.”
Wow, way to stomp on my heart and crush it to bits. You just mentioned your ex-girlfriends in my presence. Am I not important to you at all?
“Well, it’s not you. It’s not me, either.”
It's your brother. Duh.
“Then what is bloody wrong with this picture?!”
Albus looks so distraught that I actually burst out laughing.
Needless to say, Albus gives me a strange look and I shut up immediately.
There goes his good impression of me.
In order to up my rating a bit, I decide to test him. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with a little risk now and then, right?
“Do you remember that day in the kitchens when we first met?”
This sounds like it’s coming out of a soppy romance novel. Oh, Merlin.
“Well, what exactly did I say to you?”
Albus’s eyebrows furrow. “Um...”
“Exactly.” I smile with satisfaction. He doesn’t remember a thing. “When you remember, we’ll probably end up talking again.”
During that whole set up, I was actually convoluting a plan to escape. Well, not really. It’s a plan to walk away from Albus Potter with grace, leaving behind a cloud of mystery for Albus to unravel.
Actually, Professor Longbottom just really hates it when Hufflepuffs miss Herbology class. When he gave us this lecture at the beginning of the year, it had something to do with "Professor Sprout", "Head of Hufflepuff," and "upholding honor." Although I'm pretty sure that whole speech had absolutely no substance in it, I’m definitely not taking the risk of missing the entire class for yet another detention.
I start to leave as Albus stands there in the same spot. I concentrate very hard on not tripping; I’ve heard enough stories about girls who intend a dramatic exit but end up falling over their own feet. I’m concentrating so intensely that I don’t notice Albus shouting my name, footsteps following in my wake.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
I shake my head at him. Honestly, Gryffindors do not understand the result of Professor Longbottom’s wrath. Or they’re too thick to see it.
“Herbology class,” I say blankly, unable to think of anything else.
“We’ve barely talked!” Albus protests.
Oh Merlin, he’s so cute when he’s anxious.
“We’ll talk again when you remember what I said in the kitchens,” I remind him. At this rate, he’ll never be able to remember what happened back then, seeing as he couldn’t even remember what I said two minutes ago.
“Well, in that case,” Albus replies as his eyes smolder with determination. “I want you to meet me in the library tomorrow morning at nine.”
The strange, alien phrase hangs in the air between us. My mouth almost opens and closes like a goldfish, but I don’t want to risk looking stupid in front of Albus.
Actually, it’s too late for that, so I let my jaw drop. Is he asking me out to the library? My image of Albus has mentally been altered. I know he’s a bookworm, but this is a whole new level that I have yet to discover.
“What did you just say?” I sputter.
“All I’m requesting is to meet you again where you don’t feel so pressured. I know you have a Herbology class to get to since you’ve repeatedly reminded me during the past five minutes.”
He holds up a hand. “Let me finish before I let you run off. I understand that there are some secrets that you have or else you wouldn’t be so ambiguous today. I also understand that I took you by surprise, but I was, well, excited.”
Wow, Albus is a lot smarter than I thought he was.
Right now, though, that’s absolutely unimportant. Albus was excited? Albus Potter was excited to see me, Alice Nicholson, social outcast?
Albus doesn’t seem to be ashamed of his blunt wording at all. I think my heart just melted into a soda puddle. A Crush soda puddle in particular.
Thankfully, though, I still manage to retain a shred of my dignity with a very Alice Nicholson remark.
“Before I let you run off,” I mutter to myself as I examine the tips of my shoes. “Yeah, right.”
“I heard that,” Albus tells me amusedly, using a finger to lift my head up to look him in the eye.
I swallow a nervous gulp and tremble under his gaze. Is it possible to be intimidated and like someone at the same time? Albus has me shaking under just a touch of his finger, yet I still feel attracted to him.
“So,” Albus says, his beautiful green eyes sparkling. “You in for tomorrow?”
How can I say no?
A/N: OK guys, as you know, I had a lot of trouble with this chapter, and my muse wasn't really cooperative for a while. However, it's recently returned to me and I just now wrote a very hurried insert smack dab in the middle of this chapter. I'm much more happy with it now and I hope you are too! Please review about the improvements made. I hope there's nothing missing now! :D
9/28/10: Thank you, FlyingRabbit, for pointing out a striking canon error! You're so observant! And awesome!