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Animal Magnetism by Flavia
Chapter 1 : Pygmy Puffs, Families and Being Invisible
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 14

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Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognise, only my OC's and this storyline.  The rest belongs to JK Rowling.

Fabulous Chapter Image by onlyInevitability @ TDA

“Lucy Bell, if you don’t hurry up you are going to miss the train!” Mum’s voice carried up the stairs to my bedroom where I was sitting on my trunk, willing it to close.

“I’m trying!” I yelled back. “But my trunk won’t close!” Frustrated, I pulled my wand out of my pocket. Strictly speaking, I’m not supposed to do magic outside of school but I figure that there are enough fully qualified wizards in our house to cover the odd spell or two. I pointed my wand menacingly at my trunk.

“Right trunk, your reign of terror has ended – you’re going down!” I declared dramatically.

"Lucy! What are you doing?” Mum’s voice startled me and I dropped my wand in surprise. “I know you weren’t about to do magic because you know it’s illegal.” She glared at me accusingly.

“‘Course not Mum,” I replied, dropping to my knees and scrabbling about for my wand. She planted her hands on her hips and raised her eyebrows. I found my wand where it had rolled under my bed and climbed clumsily back to my feet. “My trunk won’t close.” I said, deciding a blatant conversation change was the best choice of tactic. Ok so maybe not the best choice, but it was the choice I went with and I’m sticking to it! With a roll of her eyes, mum pulled out her own wand, muttered a spell and my trunk closed with a loud click. Another mutter saw my trunk levitate and begin to float out the door.

“Now, would you like to get to school this month?” Mum asked sarcastically, pointing after the trunk that was now gliding down the stairs. Supressing a smile, I stowed my wand in my jeans pocket and left my bedroom. “You have two minutes,” Mum said tersely as she set my trunk down in the kitchen; I knew exactly what she meant. Ever since I first left for Hogwarts when I was eleven, I have had this little tradition. Two minutes though…that could be tricky.  Without another word I sprinted around the house, stopping in every room to say goodbye. I have never left for school without saying goodbye to the house – the whole house. 

One minute and fifty-two seconds later, I skidded back into the kitchen, out of breath but with a big smile on my face.

“New record!” I cheered, punching my fists above my head. Mum simply rolled her eyes and held out her hand.

“Goodbye kitchen,” I said, before taking Mum’s hand. Suddenly, I felt as though I was toothpaste being squeezed through that tiny plastic tube. Even though I was expecting it, it was still an extremely uncomfortable sensation. I have never particularly enjoyed side-along apparition, although I must admit it is terribly convenient. After a few seconds, the horrible squeezing stopped and Mum and I appeared in a narrow alleyway, about one block from Kings Cross station. She held out the handle of my trunk, which she had been holding with her other hand. Taking it, I followed her out of the alley and down the street to the train station. 

Platform nine and three-quarters was buzzing with the usual September 1st excitement when we got there. Babies were crying, children were laughing, students were shouting out greetings to each other and parents were giving last minute reminders. 

“There they are!” Mum said cheerfully from behind me, pointing her arm over my shoulder. The crowd parted slightly and I noticed four people waving cheerfully at us across the platform. I groaned inwardly.

“Seriously Mum, they didn’t need to all come!” I exclaimed as we made our way to where the rest of my family waited. 

“It’s tradition,” Mum smirked at me. Yup, this crazy tradition thing is hereditary; it’s a curse I tell you. Well not like crucio, more like a bat bogey hex…you know, funny if you’re in control of it but otherwise annoying and the source of general embarrassment. That’s my family in a nutshell; we are the familial equivalent of the bat bogey hex.

“Hello Sweetheart,” Dad smiled as he gave me a hug. I couldn’t help but smile back, he might be embarrassing but I do love my Dad. “Half the ministry’s here to say goodbye to their kids,” he added as he waved over my head to someone he obviously recognised. Unless he’s taken up waving creepily to strangers, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case.

Dad works at the Ministry of Magic as an auror, a dark wizard catcher. It sounds a lot cooler than it is and really the most exciting thing is occasionally he’ll come home late and mum will get worried and make us all sit up and drink tea until he apparates home. 

Mum used to work at the ministry too (that’s how she met Dad) but after she got pregnant she decided to give up work. Now she’s a professional networker and busybody extraordinaire, except for the fact she doesn’t get paid. Seriously, Mum knows everyone; it’s a little bit scary.

“Aw sis, you gonna be ok at ol’ Hoggys without your siblings to protect you?” Phillip, my eldest brother teased as he reached over to ruffle my hair annoyingly. I swatted his hand away aggressively as only a little sister can.

“First of all, nobody calls it ‘Hoggys’ and second of all, I’m pretty sure I can cope without you guys,” I repied with sass. That’s right…sass! Ok so I don’t actually know what sass is but I’m pretty sure I’m using it.

“Yes but you’ve never had to study for O.W.L’s before and it’s a pretty big step up in pressure,” Simon, my other brother commented sensibly. Simon is exactly 17 minutes younger than Phillip, but he makes up for it by acting about ten years older. Phillip and Simon are twins but they are extremely different. Phil is a complete Quidditch nut, played Keeper for five years at school, knows every player and every move out there. Heck, he even knows Quidditch through the ages off by heart. The whole book! I’m not kidding; Simon told me that sometimes he even recites it in his sleep. So when the twins finished school, none of us were really surprised that Phillip walked straight into a junior position at the Ministry of Magic in the Department of Magical Games and Sports. I’m not sure exactly what he does there but I know that he enjoys it.

Simon on the other hand was much more into academics. He got ten N.E.W.T’s, that’s right ten! Who even takes ten N.E.W.T classes? A crazy person that’s who; a crazy person known as my big brother. Simon is currently a Healer-in-Training at St. Mungo’s and he says his work is ‘very rewarding’, whatever that’s supposed to mean. I think it’s just what people say when they are stuck doing the boring parts of the job that nobody else wants to do, like cleaning up puss or cutting off tentacles, but they want to sound positive about their work. Two more years and he’ll be a fully trained healer which is pretty cool I guess. The twins are 20 and finished Hogwarts two years ago, but they still live at home. Mum’s a pretty good cook and she does their washing for them so really why wouldn’t they stay at home? 

Alice, my big sister, lives at home too although she’s quite determined to change that as soon as she can. Alice is 18 and only just sat her N.E.W.T’s a few months ago. Six O’s and two E’s…yeah no pressure there whatsoever right? Alice is a bit like Simon in that she loves to study but a more accurate description would be to say that Alice loves books. Madam Pince, the crazy old librarian at Hogwarts who tries to hex you if you so much as breathe on a school book? Yeah, she and Alice are friends. See now why I’m not so worried about being the only Bell kid left at Hogwarts?

Oh yeah, Bell…that’s us. We’re the Bell family, but even our name is one of our stupid traditions…or rather a break from tradition. You see Bell isn’t my Dad’s name, it’s my Mum’s name. Years ago when sweet, naive Katie Bell (Mum) started working at the Ministry, she met a kind, charming man with an unfortunate name: John Smellie (Dad). I kid you not, my father’s surname used to be Smellie; can you really blame him for wanting to get away from that? Mum wasn’t so keen on being Smellie either so they decided to keep the name Bell instead. For this I will be eternally grateful, could you imagine if I had to go through life as Lucy Smellie? Just imagine all the really bad jokes…Oh the humanity!

So that is my charming family, who were currently all standing on the platform next to the Hogwarts Express pretending that it wasn’t weird for five people to come and see little old insignificant me off on the school train. Maybe if I was a Potter or a Weasley I could understand an army of people coming to see me off, but plain old Lucy Bell? I don’t think so.

You see you need to understand one thing about me: I am perfectly ordinary. 

Honestly, there is nothing overly special or interesting about me or my life. Ok so my family is slightly odd but what family isn’t? The truth is that I am the epitome of mediocre.

You’re probably thinking that I must have a very low self-esteem to feel this way about myself, but that’s not true. I am realistic; I have learnt to accept that I am completely average. And you know being ordinary is actually a pretty sweet deal. Ok so I’m not the most popular girl in school, I don’t have boys fawning over me and I don’t top any of my classes; but then again I have good friends, I’m not failing anything, if I get the occasional detention nobody really worries about it and whilst the popular kids don’t notice me, neither do the bullies. I am perfectly happy being in the middle.

“I’ll write to you every week,” Alice smiled at me. I nodded my head at her and smiled back. I love Alice so much, and even though I don’t need my siblings with me at school, I am definitely going to miss her. Alice is the quintessential big sister; she has talked me through every major crisis of my life, she explained boys and puberty – and everything else that girls have to face – to me, and she can read every expression on my face, no matter how well I think I’m hiding it. She also knows exactly how to be extremely annoying but to her credit, I give as good as I get so she has to have a good line of defence. 

“I’ll write to you too,” I replied, wrapping my arms around her neck tightly. Alice squeezed me back and as she did so, she whispered in my ear,

“I found a flat. I’ll write to you this evening ok?”

“Ok!” I whispered back excitedly. Alice wants to move out of home because, unlike the boys, she actually knows how to use a laundry charm and she can actually cook. Over the summer she started a job at Flourish and Blotts, the big bookstore in Diagon Alley. It’s the perfect job for her and she’s been slowly saving her galleons so she can move out. I think it’s an awesome idea – I’m already planning for when I go and stay with her in the holidays. It’s our little secret though, she’s only going to tell Mum and Dad when she’s found the perfect place.

“Lucy!” A familiar voice called out and I spun around to see my best friend in the whole wide world – after Alice of course – running towards me.

“Jane!” I squealed as she collided with me, knocking me to the ground in some strange combination of a hug and a crash tackle. I just laughed – Jane and I always tend to get a bit excited after we haven’t seen each other for a while. Jane jumped up and pulled me to my feet so we could hug properly before smiling sheepishly at my family.

“Hi Mr and Mrs Bell,” She said politely. 

“Good morning Jane,” Mum replied cheerfully. Jane and I have been friends since we were both sorted into Gryffindor and she’s been to our place loads of times so my family don’t eve bat an eyelid at our silly behaviour.   Jane is shorter than me (which is saying something because I’m not exactly tall), and she has very short blonde hair, which completely contrasts with my long brown hair. I think she looks like an adorable little wood nymph.

“Gwen said she and Rose would find us a compartment but we should get on soon, it’s nearly eleven.” Jane said to me. I turned to my family and gave them all a last minute hug. Mum held on tightly for a few extra seconds and when she pulled away there were tears in her eyes.

“You behave yourself ok? And work hard, and be nice to everyone, and don’t get into trouble and look after yourself, and write if you need anything at all…” Her voice drifted off as Dad put a hand on her shoulder.

“She’ll be fine Katie,” He said comfortingly. I picked up the handle of my trunk and dragged it towards the train. We quickly spotted the other girls, waving madly at us from a compartment partway down the train. We pushed our way in and loaded our luggage on to the racks before turning to hug our travelling companions. 

Rose Weasley and Gwen Purnell are both 5th year Gryffindors and share a dormitory with Jane and me. 

“So girls, are we all set for our O.W.L’s?” Rose asked as she sat down. Rose is tall and slim with a head of long, red hair. She has this amazing way of making red hair look gorgeous. I’m incredibly jealous but you know in the ‘I-hate-you-for-being-gorgeous-but-I-love-you-anyway’ sort of way. She is one of the smartest people I know and I have to say that I am so glad she is my study buddy, although her unhealthy excitement about O.W.L’s is a little frightening. Ok it’s a lot frightening.

Rose’s parents are Ron and Hermione Weasley, who helped stop Lord Mouldy Pants during the last big Wizarding War, about 25 years ago. Her Dad’s an auror and her mum is the smartest witch there ever was; you think that would make Rose really stuck up or something but she’s really normal…well as normal as someone who likes studying can be. 

Gwen is Rose’s best friend and the nicest person on the earth. I’m serious; there’s not a mean or nasty bone in her body. Everyone loves Gwen because when she’s talking to you, she makes you feel like what you are saying is really important and interesting. Also, because she’s so sweet, nobody can get angry at her because yelling at Gwen would be like punching a kitten. She is really pretty too. Like Jane she has blonde hair, but she prefers to wear it long. The combination of good looks and an adorable personality means she is pretty much the most loved person at Hogwarts. Gwen sat down gracefully next to Rose and rolled her eyes good naturedly at her best friend.

“Yes Rose, we are all delighted to be at the beginning of the most difficult and stressful year of our schooling to date. Positively ecstatic,” She teased. We all laughed as Rose pretended to look offended.

“What are you all worried about? I’ll make sure we all pass,” Rose insisted. The funny thing was, we all knew that this statement was true. Rose would die before she let us fail an exam.

“Ah Rose, how do other people cope without their own personal genius to help them study?” Jane asked with a grin as she walked over to gaze out the window. Jane is fairly ordinary like me with one discernable difference: she plays Quidditch. Jane started playing as the Gryffindor keeper last year and joining the team certainly improved Jane’s social credibility. Most people know her name and who she is but otherwise Jane was pretty much like me. 

The train suddenly gave a gentle lurch as we pulled away from the station. We all crowed around the window, waving to our families as the train chugged down the track. I blew a big kiss to Mum, Dad, Alice, Simon and Phil as they waved, Mum still looking a little bit teary. Soon enough, Kings Cross faded into the distance as the train sped through the city, heading northward. We all settled back down in the compartment, falling into a comfortable chatter about our holidays. I’d spent time with Jane several times during the break and I’d seen Rose once at the start of the holidays when her Uncle Harry and Auntie Ginny had thrown a party. Dad works with Harry Potter and Mum played Quidditch with both him and Ginny when they were at school so we get invited to the Occasional Potter event. 

“Mum was really disappointed when I didn’t get prefect,” Rose told us as the train rocked gently. “She said that if they made Dad a prefect then surely Professor Sprout would pick me but I really think she was underestimating Molly.” Molly was Rose’s cousin and the fifth inhabitant of our dormitory. She was also the newest 5th year female prefect for Gryffindor.

“Where is Molly?” I asked curiously. Molly was a bit of an oddball and didn’t have many friends to speak of but she usually hung around with us. It was odd that we hadn’t seen her yet.

“Probably looking after Lucy,” Rose replied, to a confused look from Jane. “Her little sister,” Rose clarified. I had forgotten that Molly’s little sister Lucy was starting at Hogwarts this year.

“And knowing Molly, she’ll most likely be taking her prefect duties very seriously and is probably already patrolling the train,” I added. To say Molly is a bit of a nerd might be an understatement – in the nicest way possible of course. Molly is the sort of person who believes that our purpose in life is to follow rules. If she had to choose between breaking a school rule and spending six hours locked in a wardrobe with a boggart she wouldn’t even hesitate before climbing in that closet. In first year she actually went to Professor Longbottom and told on me because I brought a Pygmy Puff to school and our school letters clearly stated that we were only allowed to bring cats, toads or owls. When Professor Longbottom said it was ok to ‘bend the rules’ Molly was so shocked that she didn’t speak to anyone for two days. It was pretty funny. 

“She’ll be interesting to live with this year, that’s for sure,” Jane said thoughtfully. 

“She’s been wearing her prefect badge around for weeks. Dad said that Uncle Percy was exactly the same when he was a prefect,” Rose giggled.

“It’ll be alright,” Gwen smiled. “Just don’t break any rules in front of her…or mention rule breaking in front of her!” We all laughed at that.

“Geez you lot sound like a pack of chickens cackling about in here!” A male voice broke through our laughter. We all looked up, surprised, to see that our compartment was being invaded by boys. The Gryffindor 5th year boys were squeezing their way into the small space, stupid grins on their faces. Louis Weasley, a remarkable mischief maker and the only Weasley boy to ever be born with blond hair led the way, a cheeky glint in his eyes. Justin Dane, a quiet but friendly boy with mousy brown hair was close behind. Justin gave Gwen a small smile and she blushed pink. Hmmm might have to watch that. William Peterson, with a head full of dirty blond curls and the arm muscles of an experienced beater, squished himself through the doorway into the already packed compartment. I slid across on the seat as far as I could without squashing poor Jane against the window and pulled my legs up on to the seat. I smiled at Jane and rolled my eyes.

“All right there Rosie?” We all knew who this voice belonged to. Besides her Father, there was only one other person who was allowed to call Rose ‘Rosie’. I glanced up at the doorway and suddenly forgot how to breathe. Standing in the doorway of the compartment with a stunning smile on his lips and looking perfectly gorgeous, was Albus Potter. My jaw dropped down somewhere around my knees as I stared at the truly adorable boy standing before me. Something had obviously happened to Albus over the summer holidays because I certainly didn’t remember him looking like this before. I cast my mind back to the last time I had seen Al, at his parent’s party at the beginning of the holidays. A vision danced across my mind of Simon and Phil joking with the Potter boys but the Albus in that memory was the skinny, scrawny scrap of a boy I had grown up with. Standing in the doorway of the compartment was a confident teenager, still slight but with the obvious development of muscles; he’d grown a few inches taller too. His scruffy black hair which had always been perpetually messy was now a stylish tangle, giving the impression that he’d just climbed off a broom. His emerald green eyes sparkled mischievously as he glanced around, eventually settling his gaze on his cousin. 

Rose and Albus had always been very close, after all their parents were best friends and they were born less than a month apart (27 days or something like that…Rose remembers all of these silly details), so it was sort of inevitable that they would end up as good friends. She returned the grin as he pushed past his friends and plonked himself on the bench across from Rose. This put him right next to me and I continued to stare at him, my heart racing.

“You seen Molly yet?” He asked Rose with a grin. She shook her head.

“No, but we were just talking about her. Is she already in her robes?”

Albus chuckled, “Ironed robes, prefect badge polished and already telling off first years. Poor Lucy,” I flinched at the use of my name before I realised he was referring to his cousin, not me.

“Oh she’ll be right, Mum says she’s got a streak of Uncle Fred in her,” Rose replied. At this moment, Will sat down on the other side of Albus, however the bench seats were really only designed to fit three people so Al budged up slightly, my arm suddenly squashed up against his. He didn’t seem to notice anything though, he simply glanced past me to Jane.

“Hey Hawthorn, have a good summer?” He asked. Jane gave a non-committal nod.

“It was alright, you?” She said. I felt like the meat in the middle of a sandwich, sitting between the two of them; I was a Lucy sandwich. Is it wrong that I suddenly got hungry?

“Ah yeah, can’t complain. Guess who our new Quidditch captain is? I’ll give you a hint – it’s the king of the annoying gits,” We all knew exactly who Albus was talking about. There was only one person on the Gryffindor team that Albus would talk about in that way.

“Oh James got captain?” Jane exclaimed. “Well that’s not so bad,” She added.

“Easy for you to say, he’s not your brother,” Albus laughed cynically. “He’s already been – ow!” Albus stopped mid-sentence and cried out in pain as Justin stomped hard on his foot. “What the hell did you do that for?” He asked, his jaw set hard, making his face look even more gorgeous.

“Well I didn’t do it on purpose!” Justin snapped back. 

“In case you hadn’t noticed Al, it’s a teensy bit crowded in here,” Rose said pointedly, raising her eyebrows at him. Albus glanced around, taking in Louis who was squashed between Rose and Gwen, Jane leaning awkwardly against the window and Justin who was trying not to step on anyone else’s feet. His eyes came to rest on me, trying to be as thin as possible, my arms folded around my waist. Our eyes met for a second and my pulse increased ever so slightly but before I could do anything, he stood up. 

“You’re right Rosie, we’ll leave you ladies in peace,” He said, heading for the door. “Justin’s got to get to that prefect meeting anyway,” He added.

“Oh you got prefect?” Gwen spoke up, causing Justin to spin around and nearly fall in Louis’s lap.

“I…um…yeah,” He muttered sheepishly.

“Well done you,” Gwen smiled at him. Yes…definitely something to watch out for there, I thought to myself.

“Yes, yes, we all think it’s bloody marvellous and not at all expected,” Will laughed derisively as he got to his feet and followed Albus, pulling Justin along with him. Louis was the last to leave, turning as he closed the compartment door to smile at us.

Adieu magnifique chers,” He said before disappearing down the corridor. We all giggled as I scooted back across the seat, giving Jane more space. We quickly fell back into the same comfortable chatter, Rose every now and then wondering out loud about the difficulty of one subject or another at O.W.L. level. I leaned against the seat and considered a new phenomenon in my life. When I had climbed on to the train I was carefree, happy, silly Lucy Bell with the nutter family and the most difficult thing I had to face this year was O.W.L’s. Now I was facing something much more complicated. 

I fancied Albus Potter…and he had no idea I existed.

AN: So there you have it - the first chapter of my new Next-Gen.  I've not done a lot of humour writing before so I apologise if it's not very funny to start with, I'm still learning.  PLease take a minute to leave a review, your feedback is always deeply appreciated because it motivates me and helps me to improve as a writer.

And here's a little sneak-peek of the next chapter for you!

The boys quickly took up the empty bench space around us, and somehow I ended up directly opposite Albus. My mouth was suddenly very dry and I became very interested in my plate. Did you know that the golden plates that Hogwarts uses for feasts are so shiny you can see your reflection in them?  Pretty incredible, I know.

“I didn’t know you could tell the future from plates. I must have missed that Divination lesson,” My blood ran cold and I froze. Ever so slowly I raised my eyes to meet a smiling emerald pair. Albus was watching me, an amused look on his face. I felt like a rabbit caught in the headlights but I knew that I would look like a complete idiot if I didn’t say anything, I had to speak.

“Oh well it’s a new technique, I thought ol’ Trelawney might like to add it to her repertoire. If the reflection makes your nose look huge then you’re going to meet a poetic badger on the next full moon, underneath a cloudless sky. And your eyebrows will fall off.” Ok so maybe speaking wasn’t the best way to avoid looking like an idiot after all. Albus raised an eyebrow, his face quizzical.

“Right,” He said slowly. 

Oh dear sweet Merlin, please sent a giant hole to swallow me up right now. 

Next Chapter

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