Chapter 9 : Love, Hormones, and Other Household Pests
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On said day, Carlin Emery, a fifth-year Gryffindor girl came to me after class.
"Professor, I'm so confused—“ she began.
"If you had paid any attention at all during my lesson then perhaps you would—“
"Adrian Pucey likes me. I know he does. And I think I like him too, but you see I'm not really sure what to do because my friend Genesis—you know Genesis—well, she likes him too. Only I've liked him longer, but she's my best friend in the whole world and so I just can't—I don't—I don't know what to do!"
I would have interjected sooner, but I believe I went into shock. I realized my mouth was hanging open. I quickly closed it, sneered, and said:
"Even if I had any interest at all in this drivel, I wouldn't be able to help you." I thought it was blunt and to-the-point.
"Well, it's good to know that at least you can try, Professor," she said, and continued, "Because really it's the hardest thing in the world."
The hardest thing in the world! Could she honestly believe that? I tried to show her how shallow she was, but ended up saying, "If your problems were the hardest, then I'd be a happy place right now!" I know it made no sense, but any fool would have known what I meant.
She paused, then said tentatively, "Well, I'm glad you're happy.” She seemed to think for a second and then went on, “And I know it's a little silly, but I think I'm in love with him."
"I'm going to have to ask you to—"
"Have you ever been in love, Professor?"
"Have you? Been in love?" she persisted. Her great big brown eyes kept opening wider and wider as she looked at, earnestly and infuriatingly.
"For God's sake, leave this instant. I am not interested in discussing any topic with you, not to mention one so personal—and therefore thoroughly boring—as love." I stalked into my office (I know I swore not to stalk anymore, but sometimes I can't help it), but she followed me in before I could close the door.
"I shouldn't have asked such a personal question and I'm sorry," she said, "But what should I do?"
"GET OUT!" I yelled, waving my arms, "OUT OUT OUT!"
"He's so nice, but I guess he isn't worth a friendship where—"
"OOOOUT! YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO—"
"And I can't really imagine it working out, either—"
"LEAVE ME AT ONCE OR YOU SHALL HAVE DETENTION FOR A WEEK!"
"He snorts a little when he laughs," she giggled, "And when he's thinking I can always tell because he bites his lip and pulls at his hair. He's been thinking a lot lately—"
"DETENTION!" I roared, "DETENTION FOR A MONTH! FOR THE LAST TIME, I'M NOT INTERESTED IN TEENAGE HORMONES!"
That snapped her out of it, at least a little. But in truth nothing can penetrate a Gryffindor skull.
"Okay, Professor. I'm sorry Professor. I'll come by tomorrow at eight for my first detention. Oh—and thanks for listening." And before I even realized that she had set the time and date for her own detention, she was gone, taking her big brown eyes with her.
Well, thinking that this was merely an isolated incident, I put my head between my knees and thanked God it was over. I may have passed out after that. Death I can face, pain I can handle, but teenage romance—that and bubblegum flavored ice cream—can put me off food for days. And I'm not much for Filch's singing voice either. Or smiling.
I knew very well that I lived in a school and therefore must, now and again, encounter holding hands, kissing, and the like. Actually, one of my very favorite pastimes was hiding behind bushes on lovely spring afternoons, when you can almost see the hormones flitting about in their horrible useless sort of way…And believe me, I had it down to a science:
Step One— Leap out suddenly upon the unsuspecting couple.
Step Two— Say some variation of "Well, well, well, isn't this romantic?"
Step Three— Watch gleefully as they jump apart looking like guilty house elves—and often blush the color of my Elmo nightdress.
Step Four— Savor the awkward silence. Taste, live, breathe it!
Step Five— "20 points from (insert House(s) here) for making me lose my lunch."
Step Six— Prowl away merrily, feeling as if I have a purpose in life...
Ah, I can't wait for spring...
Right, but anyhow, the Carlin fiasco nearly ended me. Then the next excruciating day, at lunch, there was a knock on my door. I yelled, “One moment!” and I quickly put away my bubbles (you know, the little ones you blow through a bubble wand), “Come in!”
Adrian Pucey entered. At first I had absolutely no recollection that in front of me was the object of Carlin’s affections. But my happy forgetfulness was soon robbed when he said:
“Professor, I am in love.”
Then I committed the hugest error of my career. I hesitated.
I knew at the time that I shouldn’t have, but you see Pucey is a Slytherin and, though not very bright, he’s a damn good Quidditch player and…well, I just felt for a moment that he may have needed my help.
Naturally that moment did not last long.
He took advantage of my hesitation to continue his speech (for a speech it became). I tuned most of it out, for I was in a sort of daze. One of my very few flaws is that I cannot handle emotional situations.
I vaguely remember him going on about Carlin, her smile and eyes. If I remember correctly, the “butterflies of his soul” came up a few times as well as the words “Love distills desire upon the eyes, love brings bewitching grace into the heart,” which I never plan to hear again, not even if my life depends on it.
At the end of his lengthy discourse I said curtly, “I told her yesterday, and I am telling you today. I am nO-ot—(my voice cracked with perfectly horrendous timing. I pretended it didn‘t happen)—going to put up with this. Not even with students from my own house. If I listen to too much more of your teenage prattle, I will expire at the age of twenty-three.”
“H—how old are you now, Professor?”
“Thirty-one,” I said, glaring at him in a gentle and soothing manner, “So you see how serious it is.”
His pride had been hurt a bit, I could tell. My heart danced (literally) with joy as he turned to leave.
But no, Fate hates me, so he looked back around, hopefully, pathetically.
“Carlin talked with you as well? What did she say?”
“She talked at me.” And I said the next part very angrily, bearing down on him, hoping to scare him off, “She is madly in love with you, but her loyalty to Genesis is stopping her!”
To my mortification, his whole face lit up like some demented lamp and he hugged me. Hugged me!
All I could do was splutter helplessly at him, and you can hardly blame me.
He let me go eventually, smiling like a loon. And, spouting out a few more professions of love (hopefully not aimed at me), he left me in blissful, traumatized silence.
He hugged me. A student. Touched me.
I huddled under my desk for over an hour.
When I again regained the courage to venture outside my office, I ran into McGonagall. And when I say ran, I mean she literally ran into me. I don’t know what she thinks she’s doing sprinting all over the place, and I will assume it was just because she was helplessly attracted to me and went a little overboard. Though really I don’t think I’ll assume that at all, seeing as the very thought made me die, just a little, on the inside. I’m really a very sensitive person in some ways, and the idea of Minerva McGonagall being attracted to anything is very offensive to my nerves—mind—being, even. I hope I am never forced to think on it again.
Anyhow, once we righted ourselves and healed minor injuries, I tried to make her understand how violated and truly upset I felt.
“Minerva,” I began, “Adrian Pucey spoke words of love to me, encroached upon my personal space, and then touched me inappropriately.”
She stared at me calmly, turned calmly around, and walked calmly away. When she turned the corner, I jumped as these preposterously shrill hoots and snorts echoed down the corridors, coming from the hall that she had just turned into. I ran to her aid, figuring she had been attacked by a herd of baboons (students). But no. The old opossum was making the whole racket all by herself. Sprawled across the entire floor, flailing like an untrained hippopotamus—she was laughing. Laughing! At my heartfelt confession, too!
I turned her into a big thorny lizard and ran, only just barely sniffling, away.
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