Chapter 2 : Unicorns, Hagrid and Princess Sparkles
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Well this is just wonderful. I honestly cannot think of anything more brilliant than falling for a guy that doesn’t even know my name. My life is completely and utterly over and no, I am not being overly dramatic thank you very much!
This cannot be happening. Since when did I ever have feelings for Albus anyway? Stupid Potter gets so darn attractive over the summer, it makes me want to hex him or something. Ooh that’s an idea, I could hit him with a stinging jinx and then he wouldn’t look so gorgeous anymore! I like this plan…it’s a good plan.
“What are you grinning about?” Rose asked, jolting me out of my fantasy that involved thousands of puss filled boils covering Albus’s body.
“The feast,” I replied without missing a beat. Oh yeah, I am an awesome liar; I could be a spy or a ninja with these skills. “I really hope there’s apple pie.”
“I’m sure there will be,” Rose laughed. “There’s always something of everything at the start of term feast.”
“We’re here!” Gwen announced, her head half out of the carriage window. We all crowded over to peer out the same window. Hogwarts castle loomed over us, its hundreds of windows glittering with warm yellow light. Our carriage crunched to a stop in front of the wide open doors and we clambered out to join the throng of students spilling through to the entrance hall. I pushed my way through the crowd to a suit of armour which stands by the giant hourglasses that keep a record of house points. Without hesitation I threw my arms around the metal armour.
“Hello Frankie!” I cried. “Did you miss me?” I smiled up at the immobile hunk of metal. Ok so maybe this is one of my more ridiculous traditions but when your eleven year old self names a suit of armour Frankie, you can’t let your younger self down can you?
“You’re nuts,” Jane sighed as she passed, pulling me away from Frankie. I blew him a kiss much to the surprise of a group of nearby second year Ravenclaws but let Jane drag me in to the Great Hall.
“He’s my knight in shining armour,” I pretended to swoon. “And we’ve been parted all summer. I had to give him a proper greeting.” Jane simply rolled her eyes at me as we found seats about halfway down the Gryffindor table.
All around us people were catching up with friends and those they hadn’t manage to see on the train. I spotted Molly, bossing a few second years about, making sure there was enough room at the end of the table for the first years. James Potter was sitting with his cousin Dominique and the other seventh years. Many eyes were on the two cousins, both of whom were fairly gorgeous and had their own legion of followers. I never understood the fascination with James. Ok so I suppose he is handsome but he’s a bit boring; last year he had a crush on Alice so what does that tell you? Anyway, my tastes are more suited to younger Potter brothers, I thought with a blush. Across at the Hufflepuff table I spotted a familiar blonde bird’s nest. I waved enthusiastically to Pippa Jones, my best non-Gryffindor friend. Pippa and I have been friends for as long as I can remember because our Parents are good friends. Pip’s mum and my mum worked together at the ministry. Pippa’s a Hufflepuff so I’m not quite as close to her as Jane, but we still have lots of fun together. She waved back with a grin, both of us knowing we’d catch up soon enough.
“I’m starved,” Rose announced as she and Gwen sat down. “I hope the sorting doesn’t take too long.” I had to agree, I was starting to get hungry myself. “Oooh!” Rose continued, looking at something over my shoulder. “When did Malfoy get so cute?” Jane and I glanced over our shoulders to see the blonde haired Slytherin joking with his friends. His hair had grown a bit over the summer and he definitely had a confident charm about him.
“I did not just hear you say that about Malfoy!” At Albus’s voice I spun back around, my neck twinging at the sudden movement. Then again, I thought, Malfoy’s got nothing on Potter. 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.
I was saved at that very second by Professor Sinistra, who threw open the doors of the Great Hall and led a line of frightened looking first years towards the raised platform at the front of the room, just in front of the staff table. Well they all looked frightened except for one tiny little girl with flaming red hair. Lucy Weasley had a huge grin on her face and kept waving to her cousins, clearly enjoying herself. I couldn’t help but smile; I had the feeling that Lucy was going to be a lot more fun than her sister.
One by one, the terrified little kids were sorted into the four houses, each one joining their new house table with a look of relief on their faces. Lucy was naturally sorted into Gryffindor like every other Weasley before her, and she danced down to join the Gryffindor table gleefully, her cousins all cheering loudly. I laughed to myself and clapped with everyone else. The last few students were sorted before the traditional beginning-of-term feast appeared in front of us. Absolutely famished, I pounced on the roast potatoes nearby.
“Hungry, Bell?” For the second time that night I froze, this time causing the potatoes to fall off the spoon and on to my place with a clatter. He knows my name? I tried to smile nonchalantly at Albus, my brain frantically trying to work out why he was suddenly talking to me. This was completely unfair, why did he have to choose the day I realised he was gorgeous to actually pay me attention?
“Who isn’t?” I replied, sounding surprisingly calm. “If you ask me, the trolley witch should really make a second trip round the train.”
“I agree with you there,” He said, taking the spoon I had just put down and helping himself to the potatoes. “Cauldron cakes don’t really tide you over do they?” I stared at him, unsure of what was happening here. Were we really talking about potatoes and cauldron cakes?
“It’s worse if you get a bad batch of Bertie Botts,” I continued the ridiculous food themed conversation, using alliteration to make myself seem charming and clever. “If you get a bunch of liver ones that you can’t eat then you’re in trouble.”
“My Dad says they make earwax flavoured ones, but I’m not sure I believe him.” He’d moved on to roast beef now as I scooped carrots next to my potatoes.
“No they do,” I said. “My brother got one once. The one I’m not sure about is bogey flavour.”
Albus made a face. “That’s disgusting,” He told me, putting his cutlery down.
“Hey you started this with the earwax,” I challenged him, pointing accusingly with my fork. Albus just shook his head and gave a chuckle, before to turning to Will and starting a discussion about – what else – Quidditch. I turned to the girls and joined in their chatter about Hogsmeade.
Well, I thought to myself, that went ok…I think.
The first week back at Hogwarts is always scattered. First, they stuff you full of food at the feast and then you have to get up for classes early the next morning so you always feel like you’re starting on the back foot. Secondly, you’re trying to catch up with everyone and how their holidays were so you spend every possible break talking really fast to get yourself up to speed on all the gossip. So it usually takes a few days to get back in to the same old routines and habits. Add to this the fact that the teachers seemed to see it as their duty to give us all the O.W.L.’s-are-the-most-important-thing-you-will-ever-do-and-now-I’m-going-to-scare-you-into-studying speech. The first time you hear it, you do feel compelled to go hang out in the library, but after the fifth or sixth rendition, you sort of get past it and it all blurs into white noise.
The only professor who didn’t bother giving us the speech was Hagrid. Hagrid is the game keeper at Hogwarts but he also teaches my favourite subject, Care of Magical Creatures. Most people think it’s a bit of a soft subject but I love it. I mean we get to have class outside and it’s almost all hands-hands on. Hagrid’s not really like other professors, he’s much more laid back although like the other teachers, he does know everything about his subject – and I mean everything. Some people think Hagrid’s a bit of a dunce but he takes such good care of every single animal at Hogwarts, even the ones that aren’t magical.
Wednesday afternoon brought my first Care of Magical Creatures lesson for the year and to say I was excited is a bit of an understatement. I left lunch early to run down to Hagrid’s hut. The giant of a man was outside his one roomed shack, chopping wood in the afternoon sunrise.
“Hagrid!” I called. When he looked up I waved. He shielded his eyes from the sun and peered at me before his heavily bearded face broke into a wide smile.
“Lucy! How’re yeh?” He beamed at me as I reached him. I stared up into his beetle-like eyes and grinned back.
“I’m fine Hagrid. Did you have a good summer?”
“Can’ complain. Ol’ Grawpy wa’ getting a bi’ restless so I took ‘im up ter the mount’ns fer a few weeks. He liked tha’.” He replied. Grawp is the name of Hagrid’s half-brother. He’s a giant, even bigger than Hagrid, and he lives in the Forbidden Forest. I’ve never met him but Hagrid’s told me a bit about him. I gather he doesn’t say much but is fairly mild-mannered…for a giant. “How’s yer Mum?” Hagrid asked. Hagrid always asks about Mum. When mum went to Hogwarts, in her seventh year, she was tricked into touching a cursed necklace on her way from Hogsmeade. Hagrid was the one to carry her to the castle where she was helped and eventually sent to St. Mungo’s. Mum was ok in the end (obviously), but she and Hagrid have been good friends ever since. That’s probably part of the reason he and I get along so well.
“She’s alright,” I replied. “You know what she’s like, busy getting into everyone’s business and looking after anyone she can.” Hagrid laughed as he wedged his axe firmly in a block of wood.
“An’ yer brothers an’ sister?” He queried.
“Good as galleons,” I smiled. “Alice is planning to move out of home. She’s working at Flourish and Blotts and the flat above the shop has become vacant so she is planning to live there. She sent me a letter yesterday.” It was true, Alice had sent the promised news about the small flat above the bookshop. It is rather exciting and I wrote back immediately begging for more information about when she would be moving and insisting on every detail from the conversation where she gave the news to Mum and Dad.
“Really? She’s only eigh’een.” Hagrid replied, an eyebrow raised.
“You know what Alice is like, wants her freedom.” I shrugged. “So what are we looking at today?” I suddenly changed the subject, curious about the day’s lesson.
“Ah, well I got a bi’ o’ a surprise fer yeh,” Hagrid’s eyes twinkled. “I though’ yeh migh’ like ter star’ the term with unicorns,” He announced. I felt my eyes grow wide.
“Unicorns!” I am not embarrassed to admit I may have squealed this word. Well however I may or may not have reacted, be it ever so girlish, it seemed to please Hagrid to no end.
“I though’ yeh migh’ feel tha’ way,” He smiled. Just then, he looked over my shoulder and a smile of recognition crossed his features. Confused, I glanced over my shoulder to see Albus approaching. My insides started doing a rather vigorous tap-dance as he strode towards us, the wind tousling his hair like some Gilderoy Lockhart wannabe. “Alrigh’ there Al?” Hagrid greeted him jovially.
“Hagrid!” Albus grinned in reply, shaking a dustbin-sized hand. “Sorry I haven’t been down sooner.”
“Ah don’ yeh worry yerself,” Hagrid assured him. “I knew yeh’d be down even’ually. I was jus’ tellin’ Lucy here ‘bout terday’s lesson.”
Albus turned and looked at me as though he hadn’t noticed my presence until that moment.
“Bell? What are you doing down here so early?” He asked, his voice curious. I raised an eyebrow.
“You’re not the only on who’s allowed to be friends with Hagrid,” I replied, the tinge of sarcasm in my voice masking the nervousness I felt.
“Fiesty this afternoon aren’t we?” Albus laughed, walking over to dump his bag near the steps of Hagrid’s hut. Hagrid disappeared into his hut, muttering something about a feed bag. “I just didn’t know you and Hagrid were so close,” He added, holding his hands up in mock surrender.
“Since first year,” I boasted proudly. “Hagrid caught me when I fell out of that tree –” I pointed across the lawn to a rather large tree, “– and we’ve been good mates ever since.”
Albus looked like he was going to say something further but at that moment, the noise of students spilling out of the castle and making their way across the lawns met our ears. We have Care of Magical Creatures with the Hufflepuffs so when I saw Pippa making her way towards me I forgot about Albus and ran over to give her a hug. We’d managed a quick gossip during break the day before, but I was still excited to see her.
“Were you just talking to Albus Potter?” She asked as we strolled, arms linked, back towards Hagrid’s hut.
“Yeah, it wasn’t a particularly enthralling conversation,” I lied. It had been terribly exciting but I wasn’t ready to admit that to anyone just yet.
“He’s grown up a bit over the summer. He’ll have a fan club soon if he’s not careful,” Pippa continued, watching as Albus joked around with some of his friends.
“I can’t say I’ve noticed,” Oh another lie, I’m not sure if I should feel proud or worried. Pippa gave me an incredulous look.
“Ok, so maybe I noticed a little bit,” I admitted, and Pippa laughed loudly. At this moment, Hagrid came back out of his hut, a large hessian sack in his hand.
“Welcome back fifth years!” He boomed. “Got a bit o’ a treat fer yeh all terday. If yeh’ll jus’ follow me,” and he led the way around his hut towards the forbidden forest. I know it’s forbidden and all (clever naming there I think, everybody gets the right idea from the start), and for the most part I agree that forbidden is probably a good quality for the forest, considering what lives in there; but I will admit I have been in to the forest once or twice…or maybe twenty times. I can’t help it, the creatures in the forest are so cool! I actually once met a Jarvey in there! It was incredibly rude, called me a…well I probably shouldn’t repeat it, but it was pretty darn awetastic!
Hagrid didn’t actually take us into the forest though, he just took us to a large tree where he had tethered three, blindingly white unicorns.
“Wow!” This response from the class was unanimous.
“Unicorns,” Hagrid began. “Are very private creatures. They are very fas’ and ten’ to keep away from humans. These are all adults as yeh can see because they’re white.” That was a complete understatement. The beautiful horse-like creatures were a sort of pearly colour and they seemed to shimmer as though radiating some sort of light. Each one had a silvery horn attached to its head. They pawed the ground gently as they waited under the trees. “The babies are a diff’ren’ colour, more golden. They take mor’ to girls than boys, so maybe if the girls wou’ like ter come forwar’ firs’ and feed ‘em.”
I didn’t have to be told twice. Without hesitation, I stepped forward towards the gorgeous creatures. Hagrid beamed at me and held out the bag which I discovered contained sugar cubes. Pippa was close behind me and she was followed by the other girls in the class. We tentatively crept towards the unicorns, not wanting to spook them. I held my palm out toward the closest one, a sugar cube balanced carefully in the middle. The unicorn glanced up at me and snorted, although it seemed quite graceful, not like the loud, huffing snort of a horse. I stretched my arm a bit further and the unicorn nodded its head and pushed its wet nose into my hand. A warm tongue tickled my palm as the unicorn licked up the sugar and then stared up at me expectantly. With a giggle, I held out the rest of my sugar with one hand and patted it softly on the side of the head with the other hand.
The boys didn’t really get very near the unicorns for most of the lesson. Towards the end, Hagrid let them come closer but told them to be very careful. Much to my delight and dismay, Albus chose to come to my unicorn, whom I had secretly name Princess Sparkles (I know it’s silly but I mean c’mon…it was a unicorn! What was I going to call it, Barney?). He was surprisingly gentle and much braver than the other boys, who seemed happy to keep their distance. Princess Sparkles took the sugar he offered, but flared her nostrils and pulled back when he tried to pat her. Instinctively, I reached out and stroked her mane, making comforting shushing noises. Princess Sparkles calmed down almost immediately.
“You’re really good at this,” Albus commented. I kept my eyes focussed on the creature in front of me.
“Thanks,” I replied, still stroking the glittery white hair. “It’s just about making them feel safe, you don’t want to come on too strong,” I added. “She’s calmed down now, do you want to try again?” I forced myself to look up at him this time.
“Oh…well…she doesn’t seem to like me much…” His voice drifted off nervously as he eyed her rather pointy horn.
“Nonsense,” I said. “You just have to let her know that you’re not going to hurt her.” I should probably explain that when I’m with animals I sometimes get into a bit of a…zone. I become so focussed on the creature that I sort of forget everything else I am thinking or feeling. This is probably why the following thing happened. I reached over and took Albus’s hand, gently guiding it towards the unicorn. “Here, you just have to go really slow and gentle,” I said, leading his hand towards Princess Sparkle’s neck. I leaned forward and crooned softly to the unicorn. “Don’t worry, I know he’s an icky boy and all but he’ll be ok, I won’t let him hurt you,” I said, winking at Albus. He smiled back nervously at me. “See,” I said as we both softly stroked the soft hair of her mane. “She thinks you’re alright.”
“Just alright?” Albus grinned cheekily.
“I wouldn’t push your luck,” I replied with a smile.
“You’re really good at this,” Albus said for the second time that day. My heart skipped a beat and I blushed a little, looking away from him. I realised that my hand was still over his as he gently patted Princess Sparkles. Embarrassed, I pulled my hand back and shoved it in my pocket. Albus looked at me curiously for a moment before pulling his own hand back. Thankfully, Hagrid chose that moment to end the lesson, dismissing us from the forest a few minutes early. Most of the students turned immediately and headed back towards the castle, grateful for the extra time before dinner to relax or get started on their homework (of which Hagrid had kindly set a very small amount). I gave Princess Sparkles one last pat and she reached up her nose to nuzzle me. I giggled before turning and following my classmates, Pippa close beside me.
“Weren’t they just beautiful?” I sighed, linking my arm through Pippa’s and resting my head dreamily on her shoulder. “I wonder if you are allowed to keep one as a pet.”
“Well if anyone could it would be you,” Pippa smiled in response. I knew what she meant, I may be completely insignificant to the majority of the human population, but animals seemed to love me. Probably because they could sense how much I loved them.
“Hey Bell, I didn’t realise how good you were at this subject,” Albus’s voice came from behind and caused both Pippa and myself to look around in surprise. “I’ll have to get you to help me with my homework,” He added as he passed us. My mouth went completely dry so there was no chance of trying to talk. I simply nodded my head and smiled weakly, my heart fluttering slightly.
“What was that?” Pippa whispered after he was out of earshot.
“I have no idea!” I replied, still surprised that Albus even knew my name. “He hardly ever speaks to me,” I added.
“Maybe he’s in luuurve with you,” Pippa suggested and we both broke into hysterical laughter at the ridiculousness of that statement. I might have a ridiculous crush on Albus Potter, but there was no way he was ever going to return those feelings, not even if I had a whole herd of unicorns as pets.
AN: So what did you think? I hope you liked this chapter. Please leave a review and let me know what you think and I'll try to update soon. I'm alternating between my two NextGen stories at the moment, this one and 'Matters of the Hart,' But here's a little preview of the next chapter to tide you over :)
“Lucy!” She snapped, turning towards me. I clapped my hand over my mouth to stifle the giggles that were threatening to escape.
“Just be careful when you’re practising spells or you might hurt someone!” She snapped at me before marching away.
“Big Lucy,” I mumbled under my breath. “That better not catch on.”
“Yes?” Came a small but cheerful voice from the group of surprised first years. Molly spun around in surprise to see it was her little sister who stood there. She obviously thought Molly was calling her, no doubt having heard that cry countless times.
“Oh not you Lucy,” Molly said, her voice softening. “This Lucy. Big Lucy.”
“Hey! I am not big! I might like my food but I’m a healthy girl!” I exclaimed, feeling slightly offended at being called ‘Big Lucy.“I don’t think that’s what she meant,” Gwen hissed as Rose and Jane burst out laughing. Molly looked back and forth from her hysterical dorm mates to her confused yet clearly amused sister. Finally, and with a huff of frustration, Molly turned to face me.
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