A/N: Sorry this is getting out much later than I thought. I know this will seem like a filler chapter, but I promise that there is a reason why I have this moment. As for Grace and Al, well they're going to start to get quite a bit of each other in the coming up chapters.
“You should really give yourself some more credit. I find you to be incredibly fascinating.” Willow read the line out loud to me for the umpteenth time. Every time she had the same disgust on her face. While I was finding this incredibly awkward, thankfully the other occupants of the Ravenclaw common room were far too busy doing whatever it was they were doing to notice Willow and I sitting by the fire place. After everything that was going on today, I needed a voice of sanity. Or at least a voice that knew something about relationships and to my utter horror…flirting.
“Someone was definitely flirting with you Grace. As hard as we both find this to believe, it’s happened.” Once again touting off her beliefs as though they were absolute law, I had a feeling that for some sick and twisted reason she was right. Someone had been flirting with me. And what does Grace Adler do in response? She tells her mystery man to let her focus on her school work. Just bloody typical! This is something that I would do without even realizing it, groaning at my own stupidity I had to figure out what was going on.
“Well what am I supposed to do about it?” Speaking as plainly as I could, I tried to hide the fact that for some stupid reason I kept on clinging to the idea that it was Al who had bewitched my parchment.
“Do about it? You have to know who it is in the first place before we start a plan of attack.” And thus we were back to our original debate. Willow was convinced that it wasn’t Al who was on the proverbial other side. Granted I had no proof, but who else could it be? It’s not like I have that many people interested in me.
“I think we both know who it is.” I stated quite obliquely. If I had actually said what I wanted to say I think that the only thing left of me would be a pile of ashes.
“Oh don’t go all idealistic and hopeful on me. Optimism doesn’t suit anyone. Plus why would it be him? If I remember correctly, until just a couple days ago he didn’t even know you existed! So why in the name of Merlin’s beard would he be sending you messages in Transfiguration?” Reverting back to the unnatural coolness that Willow was prone to showing, I dismissed the perceived anger. I know why she was doing this, and it wasn’t because of anger. She had to turn cold at a certain point if she would want to remain in her own mind.
“It’s possible…” Letting the thought linger, we both sat in silence watching the fire slowly burn. All around us people were active and oblivious, much to my relief. I had never been very close with anyone in my house, let alone my year. Hopefully that would change in time but I think I already did all the damage during the past six years.
“I never said it wasn’t possible. I’m telling you that it’s not probable. I’ve never had even the slightest inclination of his feelings being anything more than friendly towards you. It just doesn’t seem logical to me that he would be the one.” Minuets had passed before she spoke and now that she regained composure over herself, Willow was back to what I knew her as.
“Well then who do you think it is? I’m not exactly a social butterfly you know?” Sadly this was my only counterargument and hope that I clung to. I knew it would be asking too much to ask for it to be true.
“A social what?” Looking at me in a state of complete amusement and confusion I quickly realized that Willow had never heard of a person being a social butterfly. The thought was too funny and I started giggling until it hurt my rib cage. Taking deep breaths I calmed myself down, yet my mind still found this incredibly amusing.
“Never mind, it’s a Muggle phrase.” Quickly waving my hand I dismissed the trivial matter.
“Well I have a way of figuring this out. It would require for us to break about a hundred school rules mind you. But it would definitely work.” Returning us back to what we had spent the past two hours talking about, this was the first major break through of the night after I hunted her down and begged for help. What can I say? I’m desperate to figure out what is going on and how my once quiet life suddenly seems to have vigor in it.
“Oh really? And what are you planning on doing? Making a vat of Polyjuice Potion and have us swap places for the day and have you read the emotions of everyone I come in contact with and figure out who my mystery man is?” While I do appreciate what Willow was trying to do, I had a feeling that this would be a repeat of what happened earlier today when I asked her what she was doing on the sixth floor. Her response of course had been that she was going to ride a unicorn around Hogwarts with a leprechaun with whom she would line dance with. Obviously I had my doubts.
“Actually that sounds like a much better idea than what I was thinking.” Her face turned bright and she became even more animated than she had been before. Oh god…what did I just release? I thought to myself as I realized that Willow would want to do this. She’s fearless. And right now I need her to be practical.
“You do realize I was being sarcastic?” I sincerely hope she does.
“Of course I realized that. But I was just going to use an Invisibility Cloak and stalk you all day while I skipped my classes.” Acting as though that were completely ridiculous (which it was, I mean where is she going to get an Invisibility Cloak in the first place?) she thought that somehow finding a way to make Polyjuice Potion would be a good thing?
“That would only be breaking two rules. Where are the other ninety eight rules you planned on shattering to pieces?” Deciding that I was going to be a technical pain, Willow gave me an impressive eye roll.
“Once again you forget about my abilities. Strictly speaking, if everyone knew about it then I would probably already be in Azkaban for the unlawful intrusion into a person’s mind.” Stating this rather plainly, I started to think of what it would be like to have to live her life.
“That’s Legilimency Willow. What you do is completely different. And the only reason there even is a Lawful Interrogation Act was that after the Second War there was a great deal of corruption in the Ministry of Magic. They did everything to coerce confessions out of people to admit they were Death Eaters. Of course that changed once there was a new Minister of Magic who immediately brought in…” There were so many differences between Legilemns and Empaths. For instance, anyone with the proper training can become a Legilimens. No one can train and study to become Empaths. They are born that way. Their power is evident from the moment they are born and all they can hope to do is to learn how to cope with the conflicting sea of emotions that every person is subject to. Somehow they have to deal with their problems as well. It’s unbelievable that Willow has managed as long as she had and she seems so normal.
“Harry Potter.” Willow finished my sentence with a smirk.
“Yes.” Confirming what she said, I merely looked at Willow, trying to dissect her many layers to see what else there is to her. Yet she doesn’t give up anything easily.
“Well the case can be made very easily that sometimes what is more useful to extract from a person isn’t their knowledge but rather there feelings. That’s why I keep my abilities secret. If people knew then there would be an inquisition and I would be found of having violated the Lawful Interrogation Act.” Shuddering at the thought of what the consequences would be, we both thought of the horrors of Azkaban and how it changed. If it was bad before, now it was a hundred times worse.
“Any descent attorney would be able to get you off.” Pointing out what I seem to think was painfully obvious, Willow let out a humorless laugh.
“It’s harder than you think. The vast majority of the public would mark me as a freak if they knew the truth. I would’ve been locked in an asylum when I turned eleven rather than being sent here.” Sadly this is true. I never thought of it, but now I began to wonder how Willow’s parents had managed to even get her here in the first place.
“I don’t see what the big deal is. I mean, yeah it’s confusing at first when you say you can feel all of my emotions. But why doesn’t anyone realize that means that you feel everything from everyone? Don’t they realize that you can’t just filter out what you please? And then there’s the matter of what would happen if you were around someone who lost control of their emotions…” I couldn’t finish the sentence. We both knew what could happen. Granted it depends entirely on circumstances, the least painful option that would happen would be having the influx of emotions destroy you quickly. Neither one of us said anything for a while. It didn’t feel right.
“Incredible.” Breaking the silence with four syllables I cast a sideways glance at Willow and saw her genuinely smiling. It was an amazing site to see pure happiness radiating out of someone in such an infectious way. I couldn’t help but feel my facial muscles react and I was probably wearing a rather stupid looking grin.
“What is?” Once again I started laughing, my smile spreading wider.
“The fact that you somehow are able to understand what I live with constantly and what I’m most afraid of yet you aren’t cursed with this ability.” She too started laughing with me. If anyone had been looking at us they would’ve thought we were crazy. Yet to us this was the most amusing thing in the world.
“We all have our curses that we have to deal with.” I replied truthfully.
“What’s yours then? You seem far too perfect by ordinary standards.” Giving me a mocking glare, I felt my face redden at someone trying to say that I was perfect. I am anything but perfect. In fact, I would say that I’m the definition of imperfection.
“My curse? Well…” I paused and thought about just what it was that Willow was asking me to reveal. If I told her this then I wouldn’t have any secrets left. She would literally know everything that was important about me. “My curse is that I have to be nice to people.”
“Psh…How is that a curse?” Scoffing at what I thought was my greatest weakness; I agreed slightly with her that it would seem ridiculous to compare being an Empath to that.
“Imagine if you knew that people hated you, said obscene things about you, treated you with disdain, and perpetually ignored you and made you realize your insignificance. What would you do?” Knowing that I had to give perspective, I thought about all of the things that I heard people say behind my back over the years. Of course I tried to deny that anything ever happened and that I never heard anyone saying anything. I tried to lie to myself over and over again and act like I lived in ignominy. Yet I knew that someday…eventually the truth would catch up with me. And here I am now, unsure of whether or not I was ready to face the truth.
“I would hex them into oblivion and then show everyone just how much I’m worth.” She then started pointing her wand at various people and mimed blasting them, adding different sound effects for each one.
“Yeah well I would never be able to do that. I can’t stand up for myself because I constantly forgive people and act like I don’t hear what they say. And yes, I’m constantly optimistic, but I don’t have a choice in it. I can’t help but to think that somehow everything will have a happy ending even though logical thinking would tell you that it’s unrealistic. I can’t accept reality.” Bearing my soul, I finally admitted what I knew was true all along. I was too nice and too forgiving. Most people wouldn’t think this is a fault, but it’s ungodly frustrating to automatically suppress everything that you think and feel in order to act like the picture of perfection.
“Well this explains a lot.” She observed dryly.
“What are you talking about?” Confused as I ever was, I don’t know what Willow saw that I didn’t see. It’s an unfortunate talent she has.
“It’s why you refuse to let go of this notion of you and Al.” Stating this rather bluntly, I refused to address this charge. Is it wrong to want something to be true even though everything points to it never happening?
“So where do I go from here?” I was lost. More so than I was ever before. I hated not having answers.
“You show him and everyone else just what your worth.” Much to my surprise, Willow finally sounded sympathetic. Maybe she realized just how pathetic I was. “And the first step is to convince you of your worth.”