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Animal Magnetism by Flavia
Chapter 8 : Fire Crabs, Sisters and Being Friends
 
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JKR is awesome and I'm just borrowing here.



 

Yet another BRILLIANT Chapter Image by cast!el @ TDA

 





 

 

Sunday morning I woke with the sort of dull headache you can only get from crying yourself to sleep; I forced myself to get up and shower, determined to face the world again, even if it meant running into Michael. My friends were kind and supportive throughout the morning but I couldn’t take my mind off the study session I was supposed to have that afternoon with Albus; what if he thought I had led Michael on and he decided not to come? He was missing from the Great Hall at both breakfast and lunch, and it was with great trepidation that I gathered my books, parchment and quills, before heading down to the library at two o’clock. 


 

I made my way to the back part of the library, where tables were set out for studying. Being a rare, sunny Sunday afternoon, the area was completely deserted. I sat down at a small table on its own near a window and looked out across the top of the forest, waiting nervously. Less than a minute went by before I heard the scraping noise of the chair opposite me being moved; I looked over to see Albus sitting down opposite me, the tiniest of smiles on his face.


 

“I wasn’t sure you were still coming,” He said.


 

“I wasn’t sure you were going to turn up either,” I replied. Albus looked surprised.


 

“Me? Why would I not come?”


 

“I just thought that maybe, well you know…” I stammered, feeling stupid and self-conscious. “You know I didn’t want him to…” My voice trailed off again. I couldn’t say the words, and yet I wanted so desperately for him to understand. 


 

“I know,” Albus said. “McMillan’s an arse and he took you for granted.” My eyes widened in surprise and my heart turned to jelly at his words. “Anyone with half a brain knows you’re not that sort of girl. McMillan’s obviously more of a moron than he lets on.” I blushed and very nearly started crying again. 


“Thanks,” I mumbled. Albus was looking at me so sweetly that I wanted to throw myself across the table and kiss him; but kissing made me think of Michael so I quickly turned to my books instead for a distraction. “So, let’s start with the two feet on Kneazle characteristics Hagrid set for us,” I said. I pushed the open book in Albus’s direction and he flashed me one of his knee-knocking smiles before beginning to read.

Albus and I started studying together twice a week. Sometimes we would meet at the same little table in the library, sometimes we would be with the other fifth years in the common room; either way, these moments were becoming extremely important to me and I couldn’t deny the fact that I was falling for Albus – hard.  I found that when I spent a period of time with him, I could learn to control my breathing and actually enjoy his company. He was funny and sweet, although he had more of a tendency for mischief than I had originally realised. One evening, after he had been telling me about the time he and James had slipped Fred a hair-thickening potion causing him to sprout an enormous beard, I shook my head and made a ‘tsk-ing’ noise. 

“You’d like everyone to think that Fred and Louis are the trouble makers, but you’re just as bad!” I mock scolded him.

 

“You got me,” he laughed. “I’m just better at not getting caught. Well that and everyone is overwhelmed by my stunning good looks and irresistible charm.” 


 

You don’t know how right you are, I thought to myself.


 

When we had these moments together, it was easy to get lost in my feelings for Albus and completely forget that he had fallen for another girl. He never opened up to me and told me who she was and I never pushed him, but curiosity was slowly eating away at my insides.


 

A few days after my mess with Michael, Albus broke it off with Mary Temple. Despite what Rose had said about them not being official, it was obvious that Mary thought differently because she went around with red, blotchy eyes for several days and Albus looked slightly embarrassed whenever she was in the room. Well at least he’s honourable, not stringing her along when there’s someone else that he has his eye on, I thought, although I still felt a pang of sadness that I wasn’t that girl.


 

I didn’t hear back from Alice straight away. About a week after I had sent Kenrick with her letter, I got a very brief reply.


 

Luce, so sorry I can’t write more, life is extremely hectic right now. Will write more soon. Love Alice.


 

It was nearly another two weeks before I received the next letter from her.


 

Luce,


 

I’m so sorry this has taken me this long to write! I’m a terrible sister who should be sent to live in Phil’s sock drawer as punishment. Living in the flat is a real challenge – more work than I’d anticipated keeping it clean and cooking my own food, but I’m getting the hang of it, I have a new appreciation for Mum and all those domestic spells she does. I’ve just bought the 25th Anniversary edition of Enchantment in Baking, and Mum lent me her copy of Household Spells for Happy Homes which is proving to be extremely useful. Work is wonderful as always, we have this whole new shipment of books coming in from an Austrian Wizard who has been living as a muggle for two years and it’s all about how clever muggles really are, being able to do what they can without magic. It’s got a lot of great reviews and so many people are coming in to pre-order their copies already, we’re even try to line up a book signing with the author! Oh and there is a new book out on fire-crabs that you might be interested in. I’ll show it to you when you come to visit!


 

Glad to hear your study is running along smoothly, I always did like that Rose Weasley, sounds like she’ll make sure you pass your O.W.L’s without any trouble. Any thoughts on what N.E.W.T subjects you’d like to do yet? I suppose you will be meeting with Professor Longbottom soon to discuss career options, he’ll have lots of great information for you. I want to hear straight away if you make any decisions, oh how exciting for you! 


 

Christmas isn’t far off either, and I know everyone’s excited about seeing you again. Mum’s already said she’ll let you come and stay at my flat for three nights if I promise to stay at home on Christmas Eve. We’ll have so much fun Lucy, I’ll make sure it’s when I have a day off so we can spend some time together. 


 

I was a bit thrown by your question about James. He’s been talking to you about me? Really? It’s so strange because he’s written to me twice in the last few weeks and whilst he’s a lovely boy, I really don’t know what to do about it Lucy. For one, I’m older than him. Don’t boys usually like younger girls? I suppose he will be leaving Hogwarts soon but he is still at school and it would be strange to write to him, I think. I’m really confused Lucy, what do you think I should do? I don’t know how I feel about him, yes he’s very attractive, but he always had those girls following him around at school and he loves his Quidditch so much – would we have anything in common? Do you think you could talk to him for me, find out why he seems to be pursuing me like this? I’m not used to this attention Luce – it’s rather frightening and exciting all at once. What about you, any boyfriends? How did your date with that Hufflepuff boy go?


 

Keep studying hard and I’ll see you really soon sis.


 

Love, Alice


 

I smiled to myself as I re-read Alice’s paragraph on James. If I was a romantic novice, Alice was a complete dunce! She had kissed Winston Hartwicke, a rather studious Ravenclaw boy, in her sixth year but that was it, as far as I understood. This attention from James was obviously very confusing although I realised, reading through the lines, not necessarily unwanted. She wanted me to talk to James though? That would be an interesting conversation. What was I supposed to say? “Hey James, how much do you like my sister? If you’re really into her then keep pursuing her and she’ll eventually break down – she’s just shy!” Yeah right, I was just going to saunter up to him in the common room and say that! Hmmm…this one was going to take some thought.


 

Alice’s letter had given me a lot to think about though. Firstly careers advice with Professor Longbottom; apparently it wasn’t to happen until closer to our exams but it did give me something new to worry about. I still wasn’t sure how many magical animal related jobs there were out there and I couldn’t really imagine doing anything else.   Perhaps I could live with Alice and get a job at Eyelops Owl Emporium or the Magical Menagerie. It was a good back-up plan I supposed, but deep down I wanted to do something more hands-on, like wrangling dragons or running a Hippogriff refuge; they seemed like such silly ideas but I couldn’t get rid of them.


 

Alice’s comments about Christmas sent a tingle of excitement through my bones. Even though the holidays was still about seven weeks away, I couldn’t help but grin to myself about the thought of spending three nights with Alice at her flat in Diagon Alley without adults! Well I supposed Alice was technically an adult now and she was probably the most responsible person I knew (except for maybe Simon) so nothing dangerous would happen to us, but just the idea of that small amount of freedom and independence was positively intoxicating. The snow had begun to fall at Hogwarts and I realised that before I knew it Hagrid would be dragging in the twelve giant Christmas trees and the halls would become full of festive decorations. However, the imminence of Christmas also made me a little bit nervous about the fact that the school year was nearly half over; and in the New Year, Rose’s revision timetable would become even more intense.


 

My eyes fell to those last few sentences on the piece of parchment. I desperately wanted to tell someone about Albus, and I knew that when I finally cracked, it would be either Jane or Alice; I still wasn’t quite ready to divulge that part of my desires just yet though. I hadn’t told Alice about Michael yet either, the humiliation I felt about the whole situation still stung when I gave it too much thought; and I valued Alice’s opinion so much – what if she was disappointed in me for letting something like that happen? I’d managed to avoid Michael as much as possible, fortunately we only had three classes together: Potions, Transfiguration and Astronomy, and my friends had managed to keep him away from me by keeping me in the centre of the group whenever he was around. I refused to talk to or even look at him, partially because he didn’t deserve it, and partially because I couldn’t guarantee how I would react. I was pretty sure I would either cry or hit him again but at the moment I wasn’t sure which it would be.


 

I was granted the opportunity to find out, one morning after Divination. I was making a beeline for the silver ladder, glad for the opportunity to spend my break relaxing in the common room, when Trelawney called me back.


 

“Miss Bell,” Her voice tinkled over the chatter of students. “I would like to speak with you momentarily.”


 

Holding back a groan I waved Jane on and turned back to the glittery shawl-draped teacher.


 

“Yes professor?” I responded as politely as I could manage. 


 

“My dear, I wanted to see that you are continuing to develop your inner eye,” She stared at me with great intensity and I resisted the urge to step back from her.


 

“My…my inner eye?” I mumbled.


 

“Oh yes my child; it is obvious to me that you possess the eye and a great deal of talent in seeing the unseen. You must work on developing that talent; spend time in meditation, listening to the spirits and voices around you. You have been blessed dear, do not waste that blessing.” She looked positively frightening at this point, her eyes magnified through her enormous glasses. I took several steps backwards towards the trap door.


 

“Yes Professor, I will certainly do my best to uh…develop my eye. Thankyou Professor.” As quickly as I could I slipped down the silver ladder, glad there were no boys to catch a glimpse of my pants, and hurried down the spiral staircase. Completely barking that woman is; I knew that stupid lie I told was going to come back and bite me in the –


 

“Lucy?” An all too familiar voice stopped me in my tracks. I spun around on the spot to see Michael, leaning against a window sill. I’d been so distracted that I’d walked straight past him without noticing he was there. My blood ran cold at the sight of him as he straightened up and moved away from the window. There was about eight feet between us and it already felt far too close.


 

“What do you want?” I asked, fighting to keep the nervous waver out of my voice.  


 

“I just want to talk to you Lucy,” I didn’t like the way he said my name; the sound of it curling around his voice made me feel sick.


 

“We don’t have anything to talk about Michael,” I tried to channel as much bitterness and anger into his name as I could; if he was going to defile my name, I sure as hell wasn’t about to be nice with his. 


 

“I know you’re angry at me, but can’t we discuss this?” He took a step towards me; I countered the action by taking a step backwards. 


 

“There’s nothing to discuss,” I was getting annoyed now.


 

“Please, if you’d just let me explain – ” His plea was cut off by another voice that came from behind me.


 

“She said she doesn’t want to talk to you McMillan,” The coldness in my blood turned to warmth as Albus stepped next to me, his eyes trained on Michael and jaw clenched. Michael returned the icy stare.


 

“This is none of your business Potter,” He growled. 


 

“Oh but you’re wrong there McMillan. You attack any friend of mine and it automatically becomes my business,” Albus looked so angry, I noticed his tone was the same as it had been the day I’d run in crying after that awful date with Michael. He sounded almost dangerous, and I was glad he was on my side and not angry at me.


 

“Attacked her?” Michael laughed bitterly. Albus clenched his fists tightly; I wanted so much to reach out and grab his arm, tell him to calm down, but fear and shock rooted me to the spot. I was stunned that two boys were actually fighting over me; well not over me exactly, but about me all the same. “What sort of lies has she been telling you Potter? She comes running in with some story about being attacked and you drink up every last word of it don’t you? Like a good little lap dog!” Michael’s face was contorted into a sort of sneer now; if he had been hoping I’d forgive him, he was severely deluded. I felt my palm tingle with the urge to slap him again as it dawned on me that he’d called me a liar; but Albus was already defending me.


 

“Lucy’s not a liar,” he stated firmly. “I know for a fact that she’s a hopeless liar –” I resisted the urge to grin, “– and even if she wasn’t, I’d still believe her story completely.” My heart seemed to be swelling in my chest at Albus’s words. 


 

“I thought you were meant to be smart Potter, but I suppose even the son of the ‘chosen one’ can fall victim to the wiles of a teasing slag!”


 

My mouth dropped open in shock. As far back as I could remember the worst thing I had been called was probably a git or a toe-rag; no-one had ever called me something quite so hurtful in my entire life. Hurt, anger and frustration bubbled up inside me and I felt the urge to slap him again, but before I could act, Albus had whipped his wand out of his pocket and had it pointed at Michael; stunned surprise registered on the Hufflepuff’s face.


 

“Apologize to Lucy right now,” Albus’s voice was threatening, and I held my breath as the two boys stared each other down. I reached in to my robes and wrapped my fingers around my own wand; I was sorely tempted to jinx him but he was already talking again so I waited, hoping he would give me an excuse to hurt him.


 

“Why should I?” Michael’s expression changed to a sneer. “It’s true, she was all over me and then suddenly she’s smacking me round the head and telling people I was attacking her? Sounds like the definition of a slag to me!”


 

These words had barely escaped Michael’s lips when a bright ret jet of light flew from Albus’s wand, hitting Michael square on the chest. He turned stiff, a look of shock frozen on his face, before falling backwards to the floor with a loud crash. I gasped in surprise, my hands flying up to cover my mouth, and turned to look at Albus with wide eyes. My wand was still in my hand and a few purple sparks shot from the tip as I watched Albus. He was standing as still as a statue, his arm and wand still extended in front of his body. As gently as I could, I reached over and touched his arm; it seemed to work, Albus turned his face towards me, lowering his arm to his side.


 

“Are you ok?” He asked, his voice once more normal, although sounding a little strained. I nodded my head. We stared at each other for another moment, before turning to look at the limp form of Michael, who was still passed out a few feet away from us.


 

“Stunning spell?” I asked.


 

“Um…yeah,” Albus responded.


 

“I can’t believe you can do non-verbal spells,” I turned back to look at Albus; he gave me a wry smile.


 

“Neither did I; I mean James has been trying to teach me but normally I struggle with it. I guess I was just so angry…” His voice drifted away and we stood in silence for a few moments more. “I’m sorry he said those things about you,” Albus broke the silence. “He’s a complete git and he had no right to call you such disgusting name; and you need to know that nobody else thinks that about you.”


 

“Thanks,” I whispered; I didn’t trust myself to say anything more in case the tears started up again.


 

At that moment, the sound of footsteps echoed down the nearby staircase, growing closer and closer until Professor Trelawney appeared around the corner, an empty bottle of cooking sherry in her hand. At the sight of Michael lying unconscious on the floor, she let out a startled scream and dropped the bottle; the sound of smashing glass echoed through the hallway.


 

“What in the name of Merlin is going on here?” She gasped, looking from Michael to Albus and I then back to Michael again. Albus and I looked at each other, how were we going to explain this? I couldn’t let Albus take the blame, not when this had all been caused by my own stupidity. While Professor Trelawney was looking back at Michael’s limp form, Albus reached over, grabbed my wand and shoved it in to his pocket; I watched him curiously but didn’t try to get my wand back.


 

“I did it Professor,” Albus spoke before I could come up with a decent excuse; I was still wondering why he’d taken my wand away. “I stupefied him because he was calling Lucy nasty names.”


 

“He was just trying to protect me Professor,” I added, before she could speak. “It’s my fault, I should have just walked away from McMillan because I knew he was angry at me and I shouldn’t have given him the opportunity to say what he did.” She needed to understand, it wasn’t Albus’s fault and I’d had my wand in my hand too, a few more seconds and Michael would have probably be standing in front of us with a tail.


 

Professor Trelawney looked slightly confused but sympathetic at the same time.


 

“Right, the two of you need to go straight to the Headmistresses office,” She began, sounding more like a teacher than I had ever experienced. I opened my mouth to protest but the Divination teacher continued, “You will both need to explain to her what happened. I will revive this young man and join you shortly.” We both nodded our heads in submission and turned to make our way towards Professor Sprout’s office. We walked in silence at first, the sound of our feet the only noise in the deserted corridors. It was still break time and everyone else was either outside or in their common rooms. After a few minutes, Albus reached in to his robes and pulled out my wand.


 

“Here,” He said, handing it to me. “Sorry I took it off you like that, I thought she might suspect you’d done it if she caught you holding your wand like that.” I took the wand with a smile, he really is smart isn’t he? “And I figured it was easier to just shove it in my own pocket, I didn’t think you’d appreciate me shoving my hand inside your robes.”


 

Oh I’m pretty sure I would appreciate that actually…


 

Did I just think that? And after Albus just defended me because Michael called me a slag? Hmmm, maybe I’ve got a personality complex!


 

For the briefest moment of panic I thought Albus could hear my thoughts because he shoved his hands in his pockets and looked down at his feet, an awkward expression on his face. It passed though and I remembered something I had wanted to say.


 

“Thank you. For standing up for me back there with Michael; it was really nice of you to do that,” I said. Albus smiled down at me in a curious sort of way, as though he thought it strange that I felt the need to thank him.


 

“He was treating you like dirt, and that wasn’t right,” He said, pausing as though he was going to say more but wasn’t sure if he should. “You’re my friend, and I believe in looking after my friends.”


 

Friend.


 

The word cut through my heart like a hot knife slicing through butter. That’s all we were, that’s all he saw me as. Albus Potter and I were friends; and even though it was more than I had started the year off with, friends just didn’t feel like enough.


 

I wanted so much more than that.



AN: So?  Did you like this chapter?  That hungry little review box down there would love you to feed it with reviews to let me know what you thought :)  Thank you to everyone who is already reading and reviewing, I love hearing from you all.  Sorry I've been a bit slow in reply to reviews lately but I promise I will respond to them all!

Ok, as I'm sure you've come to expect, here's a little look at the next chapter...

“He’s been crazy about her since fourth year!” Albus had explained to me the next afternoon as we were studying together during a free period. “It took him that long to ask her out! We’ve been telling him for months now to just go for it but he was worried she’d turn him down.”


 

“She’s liked him for a while,” I replied with a smile. “Not that she talks about it a lot but you can just tell.”


 

“That’s what I’ve been telling Justin,” Albus agreed. “It’s so obvious she fancies him.”


 

“Really?” I was surprised to hear that, I didn’t think boys picked up on that sort of thing. “How can you tell?”


 

“Oh well, just little things, like the way she always has this special smile just for him, or the fact that she blushes whenever he speaks to her and she always laughs at his jokes.  Just little things, you know?"


 

“Yeah, I suppose I do…” I let my voice drift away. I wondered how obvious I’d been around Albus and if he’d noticed anything in my behaviour that might give my feelings away. After all, he seemed to notice a lot more than I gave him credit for.


 

“What are you thinking about?” He asked, using his book to nudge me across the table. “You look like you’re contemplating something very serious.” Was it just me or did he look slightly anxious?


 

“Oh nothing,” I smiled at him, Darn it Lucy! Don’t smile so much or he’ll get suspicious! I tried to smile a little less brightly. “I just didn’t realise how much of a girl you were Potter,” I teased.


 

“I’m not a girl; I’m a SNAW,” Albus replied proudly.


 

“A SNAW?” I was utterly bemused.


 

“Yes, a Sensitive New Aged Wizard,” he announced and obvious or not, I couldn’t help but laugh.


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