Chapter 18 : Eighteen - Valentine’s Day
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Al apparently had little interest in walking into the shops today, either. Even Honeydukes was covered in pink and red Valentine’s Day decorations, and neither of us really wanted to spend the day surrounded by it. He suggested going to the Three Broomsticks, but I didn’t necessarily want to spend the entire day shut up in there with Al and butterbeer. The idea of a drunken Al was amusing, of course, but I didn’t want to end up dragging him out of there by the end of the day either. So, we finally agreed on going to The Shrieking Shack after Al suggested it. At first, I was hesitant, but after Al assured me that the place wasn’t actually haunted – apparently his father had been inside once – I agreed to go.
“You know, I feel kind of bad for Lysander,” He said randomly, as we made our way through the new snow that had fallen overnight.
“What do you mean?” I asked, trying not to trip over a tree root. I was beginning to think that maybe every tree was trying to kill me, considering I had almost tripped over three roots in the course of a half hour.
“Well, when he meets Lauren tonight. That’s what I mean.”
I didn’t reply as The Shrieking Shack came into view, unsure of what to say. The funny thing was that I didn’t really want to talk about it. In fact, I didn’t want to talk about the fact that it was Valentine’s Day at all; this included talking about other people going on dates. When we stopped, our way blocked by a fence around the shack, Al looked at me curiously.
“What?” I asked, looking back at him.
“Nothing,” he said, averting his gaze back to the shack, “You’re just acting strange about Lysander and Lauren. I mean you told Lysander you were okay with it, but now you’re refusing to talk to me about it.”
I raised a brow, “Just because I didn’t know what to say doesn’t mean I’m refusing to talk about it.”
Al took a moment to think before asking, “Okay, then what do you think about it? Do you not think it’s odd that Lauren doesn’t think it’s a date?”
“Of course I think it’s odd,” I said quickly, still not wanting to talk about it.
“Why do you think she’s saying it’s not a date?” Al asked, “Do you think it just didn’t occur to her, like she said, or do you think that she’s embarrassed about it?”
“I don’t know,” I said, becoming uncomfortable because I was beginning to feel like I was being interrogated, “Why are you asking me about it?”
“Well,” Al paused for a moment, as if he were thinking of what to say, “You seem to know her better than anybody else I know.”
I laughed, still staring at The Shrieking Shack. Now that was a funny idea. I knew it was true, I had known her longer than anybody else currently attending Hogwarts (excluding her twin brother, of course). However, I had little to no idea of why she had insisted she wasn’t going on a date with Lysander. My guess was as good as anybody’s.
“What?” Al asked, annoyed.
I shook my head when I looked at him, “Just because I’ve known her longer than anybody else doesn’t mean I know what’s going on inside her head.”
He still looked annoyed, “But surely you have some idea?”
“I haven’t given it much thought,” I said honestly, “Ask me again later.”
To my relief, Al didn’t question me any further. We were just about to turn and leave The Shrieking Shack when we heard the sound of crunching footsteps behind us. Turning around, I smiled as Delta, the Gryffindor girl that was friends with Rose, approached us.
Delta looked a bit surprised to see us, but nonetheless she smiled back at me, “Hello. What are you two doing out here?”
“Just getting a good look at The Shrieking Shack,” Al replied, “What about you?”
I noticed the pink on Delta’s cheeks darken somewhat after Al addressed her, “The same. I usually come out here during Hogsmeade trips. It’s a nice place to think.”
“Wait,” I said, “You come out here alone? Isn’t it kind of creepy though?”
Delta shrugged, “I don’t think it’s really haunted. It’s probably just some stupid rumor to keep us from going past the fence.”
Al then added, “My dad has actually been inside The Shrieking Shack. He says it’s just a rumor, too. Do you want to go find out?”
Delta and I looked at Al like he was crazy for suggesting it and it was me that spoke first, “Erm, I think I’ve had more than enough excitement in the last week. You can go ahead without me.”
Delta nodded in agreement, her brown hair, which had been shaped into carefully placed curls, shaking as she did, “I’m with Luke. Sorry Albus.”
Al seemed to grimace upon hearing his full name, “Call me Al, please.”
Again, the color on Delta’s cheeks seemed to darken, “Sorry Al.”
He smiled, “It’s fine.”
After meeting Delta by The Shrieking Shack, we allowed her to join us as we walked through Hogsmeade. Apparently Delta didn’t fancy all of the red and pink decorations, either. In fact, after a few hours of talking to Delta, I decided I liked her. She knew a lot about Hogsmeade, even more than I did, and she was different from Lauren in that she wouldn’t dare joke at Al and I’s expense, which was a nice change. Something that struck me as funny was that nearly every time Al talked directly to her, her cheeks would darken, and sometimes she would almost stammer when she replied. However, she quickly seemed to become comfortable, and the near-stammer disappeared altogether.
As the sky started to darken, Al looked at us both and said, “Erm, sorry. I forgot that I was supposed to meet Lorcan about an hour ago.”
“Oh really?” I smirked, “You two have a date as well?”
Al rolled his eyes as he started to walk away, “At least I didn’t kiss Malfoy!”
I couldn’t think of something clever to say in reply, so I just glared at him until he disappeared around a building. Then I turned to Delta, “Erm, do you want to go to The Three Broomsticks?”
Delta seemed to pull her cloak around her tighter as she answered, “Sure, it’s starting to get really cold.”
With that, we made our way through the village until the pub came into view. I held the door for her and followed her inside, being greeted by the smells of butterbeer and not by the sight of red and pink everywhere. In fact, the only red and pink things were the flowers that had been set on each of the tables. I was just glad there weren’t hearts everywhere. Delta chose a secluded table in a corner and we ordered two butterbeers after we sat down.
While we waited for the butterbeer to arrive Delta told me nearly everything she knew about the pub. She only paused every now and then to ask me if I already knew about something, and about half the time I would shake my head and she would explain it to me. Eventually, the butterbeer arrived, and I changed the subject, “So, Delta. Is it just me or are you more relaxed now that Al isn’t here?”
She was in the middle of taking a drink and ended up snorting some of it out her nose and onto the table. I laughed and apologized, helping her clean off the table before asking her again. After she wiped her face clean, she answered, “Okay, you caught me. Now what – are you going to make fun of me now?”
“No,” I answered before taking a drink, “Why would I make fun of you?”
Delta looked relieved when she realized that I hadn’t figured out why Al made her tense – although I had an idea – and she answered quietly, “Because I fancy him, that’s why.”
“Oh,” I raised a brow, “You do know that Al believes there’s an upcoming apocalypse?”
She nodded, and smirked at me, “Yes, I do know that Al thinks there’s an upcoming zombiepocalypse, or whatever the hell he calls it.”
“And you still fancy him?” I asked before taking another drink.
“Unfortunately,” she said, frowning.
I looked at her curiously, “Is there something wrong with him?”
“No,” she shook her head, “It’s just unfortunate. Before today he scarcely took notice to me. He actually thought my name was Del.”
“But don’t most people think that?” I remembered how even Rose called her Del.
“Nope. Most people call me Del because it’s kind of a nickname,” she said, frowning again, “Very few people actually think Del is my name. Al being one of them before today...”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said, unsure of what to say.
“Don’t worry about it,” she said, taking another drink before adding, “So, what about you?”
“What about me?” I asked, the opening of the door on the other side of the pub distracting me. I watched as Lauren and Lysander entered the pub together. They didn’t seem to notice me sitting with Delta, which came as a relief, considering I had come to the conclusion that Lauren didn’t, after all, think they were on a date. I didn’t necessarily want Lysander to know that they were within my sight if things went badly.
Delta didn’t seem to notice that I was distracted, as she was occupied with tracing the edge of her glass with her finger. “You don’t have your eye on some girl, do you?”
“Nope,” I shrugged, looking back at her, “My girlfriend and I just broke up about a week ago.”
“Oh,” Delta sounded almost apologetic, “Mind if I ask why?”
“She thought that I was cheating on her,” I said, unsure of why I felt it was okay to tell Delta this. After a moment I assumed it was because she had trusted me enough to tell me she fancied Al.
She raised a brow, “With who?”
“Rose,” I said awkwardly, “Speaking of Rose, I just realized I haven’t seen her today.”
“Oh,” Delta said, frowning for the third or fourth time, “She actually didn’t come to Hogsmeade at all today, said she wanted to spend the day studying. Anyway, I assume you weren’t cheating with Rose?”
I shook my head, “Nope.” Then I glanced over to the table where Lauren and Lysander were talking again. They still didn’t seem to notice me. I noticed that Lysander looked kind of nervous, and that Lauren was starting to look nervous herself. Maybe it had occurred to her that Lysander thought it was a date after all...
“What is it?” Delta asked, before turning her head to see them, too. A moment later, she turned to face me again, looking confused.
“Nothing,” I said, tearing my eyes away from their table and back to Delta, “It’s just a couple of my friends.”
“Oh,” she said, “I recognize Lysander, but I can’t remember her name.”
“Lauren,” I said, “I think she may just be figuring out that they’re on a date, actually.”
Delta seemed to grin, “I wonder how she’ll handle that.”
I shrugged, “I don’t know, but I’m beginning to feel that I should probably leave. So neither of them realizes I’m here and thinks I’m spying or something.”
“All right,” Delta said, abruptly rising to her feet, “We can go somewhere else, then. That’s fine with me.”
Then I started to follow her from the pub, trying not to look at the table where Lauren and Lysander were sitting. Unfortunately, I gave in and looked their way when I was only halfway to the door. I realized my mistake too late when I saw Lysander plant one on Lauren’s lips. She looked surprised, but didn’t fight him. In fact, she didn’t even yell at him, which came as a surprise to me. Delta had to grab my hand and pull me out the door before they separated and saw me standing there in the middle of the pub, staring at them with my mouth hanging open in surprise.
When we stepped outside, I saw that snow was falling in flurries, hitting us both in the face. However, I scarcely noticed it because I actually felt uncomfortably warm, the heat radiating up from my chest into my face. For some reason, seeing Lysander snogging Lauren made me very tense, and I found myself wanting to charge back into the pub to rip him off of her and throw him to the ground. It didn’t make any sense though, I mean it was Lysander. It wasn’t James, or even Scorpius for crying out loud, both of which were, at least at one point, interested in Lauren. And even then I didn’t necessarily want to fist-fight either of them for snogging her.
I’m not sure how, but Delta seemed to realize she needed to pull me as far away from the pub as possible. So she tightened her grip on my hand and led me through the streets of the village, which were all mostly deserted, as I fought to rid myself of the anger that was coursing through my veins. Finally, we stopped outside of Honeydukes, and Delta turned to look at me.
“Luke?” she said over the sound of the snow whipping through the air, her face reddened from the cold, “What happened? Why did you stop?”
I looked at her for a moment, just as I was managing to calm myself down, before the words tumbled out, “They were snogging.”
Instead of laughing or smirking at me, she just looked concerned, “Oh... Are you okay?”
I raised a brow at her, confused, “I’m fine. It just surprised me.” Somehow, I wasn’t talking about seeing them snogging. I was actually talking about the anger that had suddenly possessed me; it seemed to come from nowhere.
I found that I underestimated Delta’s powers of observation when she wasn’t settled by that answer. She just shook her head at me, “No, it was more than that. I was afraid you were going to go back in there and rip someone to shreds.”
I looked at her, bewildered. Somehow she knew that was almost exactly what I wanted to do, and there was no way she could tell that from the expression that had crossed my face. The most she could’ve known from looking at my face was that I was surprised, maybe even confused, and even then it would’ve been hard to tell through the snow falling as thickly as it was, “How do you know that?”
Delta paused for a long time, looking at me carefully, like she was still afraid that I would turn and run back to The Three Broomsticks. Finally, she exhaled loudly enough that I could hear it over the wind, “Because... because I’m an empath.”
I had no idea of what the bloody hell an empath was, “You’re a what?”
She blinked hard, seeming to think of how to explain, “I can sense the emotions of others,” she said quickly, “Like when Rose was upset with you, if you remember, and how Lauren was surprised when Lysander kissed her as we were leaving the pub, and how merely talking about another guy snogging Lauren makes you angry and confused, like you are now.”
I was shocked because it was true. The moment she mentioned Lauren and Lysander snogging I felt the anger start to rise up again, and I began fighting it again. I was not going to go and rip Lysander to shreds, I was not going to give Lauren reason to kill me, and I was definitely not going to continue to let myself be angry every time another guy got close to her. I didn’t understand where the anger came from and it not only confused me, it frustrated me. But the closer I got to an answer, the more I would back away from it.
To my surprise, Delta was smiling at me, “You know, if it were anybody else, I’d just tell them they were jealous. But I can sense how stubborn you are, so I think I’ll just let you figure it out on your own.”
“I am not jealous,” I said, as if on cue. Though I knew it was useless, as Delta knew better than I did apparently, “I don’t even fancy Lauren,” I insisted, “It’s never even crossed my mind, not even when she was dating James.” This wasn’t entirely true though, considering at least one person had brought it up while she was dating James. At the time, however, I shrugged the thought away, already distracted by my liking for Sarah. But now that that was gone, I wasn’t sure where that left me.
Then Delta was frowning at me, “I’m not going to tell anybody. I don’t think it’d be a good idea anyway, considering you now know that I’m an empath. However, I also happen to like you Luke; you’re one of the few people I know to be genuine. So, like I said, I’m not going to tell anybody.”
“I just don’t understand,” I said, feeling the need to pace, although the fact that my legs were mostly frozen prevented me from doing so, “It didn’t bother me when Lysander told me he fancied her... And I didn’t think I was jealous when she was dating James... How could I possibly be jealous now?”
Delta took a minute to think this over, “Well, didn’t you just say that you broke up with your girlfriend about a week ago? Maybe your liking for her distracted you.”
I realized that she may have been on to something, considering I had fancied Sarah while Lauren and James were dating... However, that wasn’t the case when Lysander told me he fancied her. Then again, I was distracted then too, considering I had just changed out of a shirt that was soaked with Rose’s tears. Somehow, though, this frustrated me too. How could I have been distracted into not noticing something like this?
I couldn’t bring myself to admit that I was jealous, not even to myself. So I stuck with words like ‘bothered’ and ‘angry’ though I knew that could only last so long. Eventually, one way or another, I was going to have to confront my jealousy... And my real feelings for Lauren, that I didn’t even realize were there until I saw one of my own friends snogging her.
I was not looking forward to that.
A/N: I'm not 100% happy with this chapter even after going over it 20 billion times, I'll admit... But I've had this planned from the beginning in all seriousness... Just going to throw that out there now... I mean, Luke did act really arse-ish when Lauren and James were dating...
Also, I know it seems weird that Delta tells Luke she’s an empath just like that. However, she felt that time was as good as any. Not to mention she had already trusted him enough to tell him she fancied Al. Plus, I know someone with the gift of empathy, and he doesn’t feel like he has to keep it a secret from everyone...
Last thing to say, I'm currently working on chapter 23, and there's some fun between now and then haha. No worries. ;)
Anyway, review please!
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