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Animal Magnetism by Flavia
Chapter 21 : Mokes, Exams and Avoidance Tactics
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 19


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“I think I’m going to be sick, Oh Merlin I’m going to throw up!”

“Shhh, stop that, you’re making me nervous...”

“Swish and flick, swish and flick…”

“How much time did they say we get again?”

“Breathe, just breathe, take your time, don’t panic…”

I leaned back against the wall and tried to block out the voices around me.  All of the fifth year students were waiting in the Entrance Hall to be summoned for our first O.W.L. exam – Charms.  All around me, people were going through a full rainbow of emotions; some were frantically flicking through text books for a last minute burst of inspiration, while others focussed on breathing or relaxation techniques.  And of course, there were those who just decided an all-out panic attack would be the most appropriate way to deal with the stress.  I had found myself a little corner of wall, right next to Frankie, where I was trying to keep my mind calm and focussed, though the people around me weren’t helping.

The last few weeks before exams had raced by, and looking back on it, the month of May had just been a blur of revision, practising spells and memorising dates, facts and incantations.  Rose was a superstar, keeping us all motivated and on track whilst Louis provided the comic relief.  He and Jane would slip out for some ‘alone time’ (aka: a quick snog behind the broom shed) whenever they could, so I saw very little of her outside of classes or meals, but we managed to get together for the occasional gossip.

“How are you doing?” She asked one night as we stood side by side in front of the bathroom mirror, she was washing her face while I brushed my teeth.

“I’m fine,” I responded automatically.  I’d said those two words more times than I could recall in the last week or so.

“Are you sure?  You seem to be a bit down lately.  I’m sorry if I’m spending too much time with Louis, I’ll ease up if it makes you feel –”

“Oh shut up,” I teased, spitting my toothpaste into the sink.  “You can go off and snog Louis Weasley as much as you’d like.  Don’t start worrying about me; I told you, I’m fine.”

I spotted her now, sitting on the bottom step of the marble staircase, Louis next to her.  They were holding hands and talking quietly to each other. 

The huge wooden doors to the Great Hall, which were rarely closed, creaked open and Professor Flitwick, a very short and terribly old wizard who taught Charms classes, appeared in the opening.

“Right, thank you fifth years!” He called.  The crowd fell silent immediately; everyone had been waiting for this moment and we were all on edge.  “You will be entering the Great Hall in alphabetical order.  When I call your name, please step forward and form a line in single file.  Altman, Caitlin.”  A nervous looking Hufflepuff girl stepped forward.  “Arnett, Jonathon.  Ashford, Cameron.  Barnes, Sarah.  Bell, Lucy.”  Taking a deep breath, I pushed off the wall and joined the line, placing myself behind Sarah, a Ravenclaw with long blonde hair.  I flashed a quick smile at Jane before I turned, who smiled back in an unspoken message of support. 

It wasn’t long before we had formed a long line and were asked to follow Professor Flitwick into the Great Hall.  The four house tables had been removed and in their place were rows of individual desks, all facing the staff table, which had been replaced with a giant hourglass.  Once we had all taken our seats, an ancient looking wizard stepped forward and introduced himself as the examiner.  He explained that our quills had been given an anti-cheating spell and we were only to use the parchment provided.  Before long, exam papers appeared before us and I opened it to read the first question.  Give the duration, to the nearest hour, of a standard cheering charm.  Taking a deep breath, I picked up my quill and began to write.

The first exam passed with relative ease, and the fifth and seventh year students joined the rest of the school for lunch in the once more transformed Great Hall.

“Ok, so I know we said we wouldn’t go over each exam afterward, but I just want to know what everyone put for question seventeen…” Rose began as the food appeared before us.  We all groaned in response to Rose’s obsessive habits.

“No Rose, We are not doing this!” Louis said, helping himself to a ham and tomato sandwich.  “We’re all nervous enough as it is!”

“But I just thought –”

“Rosie!  Down girl!” The others laughed at Albus’s teasing, but I chose to keep my eyes focussed on the piece of chicken on my plate.  Meals were the one place I couldn’t really avoid him, especially since the fifth years had started eating every meal as a group, banding together as though we were facing some terrible challenge – and I suppose we were. 

Before long, we found ourselves being corralled into a small chamber off the Great Hall, where we were to wait until we were called in for our practical assessment.  Once again we were sorted alphabetically, and I was grateful that my surname started with a ‘B’, because it meant I was in the second group to be summoned (along with ‘Birch, Matthew; Baltam, Angela; and Carlisle, Daria’) into the Great Hall.

“Hello Miss Bell, my name is Professor Walton and I’m going to be asking you do perform a series of charms for me today,” A cheery witch in bottle green robes greeted me.  “Firstly, I would like to ask you to move this crystal bowl from this desk to the one on the opposite side of the room using a levitation charm.”

Fifteen minutes later, I finished turning a white teakettle orange while Professor Walton scribbled some notes down on a piece of parchment.  “Thank you Miss Bell, you’ve completed the examination.  Would you please make your way out to the waiting area and have a lovely afternoon!” She chirped, indicating towards the main doors of the Great Hall.  Professor Longbottom was waiting outside.

“Straight down the corridor, first classroom on the right Lucy,” He smiled at me as I closed the huge wooden doors behind me.  The other students who had completed their exams were sitting around in the large classroom, staring out the windows or chatting.  I sat myself down at a desk near the back of the room and waited for my friends to finish.  Justin, who was in the group after mine, came into the classroom about ten minutes after me, looking relieved.

“How did you go?” He asked, pulling up a chair.

“Alright I think,” I replied.  “Except I got a bit nervous on my shrinking charm and I made my watermelon the size of a grape rather than the size of an apple!”

“That’s not too bad,” Justin smiled.  “I messed up my colour change charm and made my teakettle tap dance!” We both laughed about that.

Before long, Jane arrived and joined us.  Pippa was in the next group and gave me a quick smile and wave before joining a group of Hufflepuffs in the corner.   Gwen, Will and Albus all arrived together, having been grouped with Josephine Pritchard from Slytherin, and finally, Rose, Louis and Molly.  By the time Professor Longbottom came to dismiss us, the classroom had become pretty noisy.

There was no time to relax that evening, Transfiguration was the next exam and I felt slightly ill at the thought of it.  I sat by the fire for most of the night, going over and over facts that I already knew.  I found it soothing to remind myself just how much I had learnt in the last few months; it seemed to boost my confidence.

“You’re going to be fine, you know,” A voice interrupted me and I forced myself to look up civilly at Albus as he sat next to me on the sofa.

“I know,” I replied.  “But every little bit helps.”  I could feel my hands shaking and he looked like he was about so say something else so I decided to act quickly, closing my book and standing up.  “A good night’s sleep is probably the best thing for me right now so I’m going to head up.  Good luck with the exam tomorrow,” I said, and before he could answer, I ducked up the stairs to the girl’s dormitory.

I was pleasantly surprised with the Transfiguration Theory exam, my extra efforts having obviously paid off since I didn’t encounter any nasty surprises.  However, I knew I still had to get through the practical exam, and that was where my Transfiguration skills were at their weakest.

“Turn this hedgehog into a pin cushion please,” The examiner instructed after ticking my name off his list. He was a short, squat wizard named Professor Ogden, and whilst he wasn’t as cheery as Professor Walton, I felt comfortable enough with him.  Once again, my extra efforts came through for me as I found that I had very little difficulty with the spells I was asked to perform.  I went to bed that evening feeling considerably lighter than the night before.

Wednesday brought Herbology, and except for one unfortunate moment, it didn’t seem to go too badly.  I didn’t secure my earmuffs properly so they began to slip off, and in my panic to fix them, I dropped the mandrake I was re-potting on to the desk, spraying dirt all over the examiner.  I managed to complete the re-potting without any further disasters though, and left the exam feeling as though I still had a good chance at a decent grade.

Thursday’s Defence Against the Dark Arts exam was fairly uneventful.  I managed all of the counter curses with relative ease, though I knew I could have used more sureness in my incantations and my theory wasn’t brilliant.  I was confident though, that I had a good chance of getting the grade I needed.

Friday, I was lucky enough to have a day off while Rose, Molly, Gwen and Jane had their Arithmancy exam.  I treated myself to a short visit with Hagrid in the morning, knowing I needed to spend the afternoon focussing on Potions.  Hagrid had sold most of the crups to a pet shop in Diagon Alley, but he’d kept three of the puppies and they were currently bounding about on the floor of his hut, chasing a ball Hagrid had fashioned out of some old fabric and twine. 

“I thought they migh’ be nice ter have aroun’, yeh know ter keep ol’ Fang comp’ny,” He explained as we watched two of the puppies wrestle.  They had grown a fair bit since we’d studied them in class, but they were adorable nonetheless.  I glanced over at Fang, who was sitting on his bed, watching the puppies with a rather unimpressed look.  I had a feeling that the puppies’ presence had less to do with Fang’s wants and more to do with his owner’s, but I kept that thought to myself.

“How’re yeh exams goin’?” Hagrid asked as he handed me a cup of tea.  “Not too stressful I hope?”

“Well so far I’m not doing too badly,” I said, giving Hagrid a quick run-down of my exams.

“How’re yeh parents, and yeh brothers and sisters?” He asked next, watching me carefully as I answered.  I chattered away happily for a few minutes about my family.

“An’ yeh friends, everythin’s going well there?” He queried, causing me to raise my eyebrows in suspicion.

“They’re all fine Hagrid, just plodding along with exams like everyone else,” I said.  “Now may I ask a question?  Why are you interviewing me like you’re a reporter for the Daily Prophet?”

“Well I can’ work it out,” Hagrid said.  “Somethin’s obviously upset yeh, I can see it in yeh eyes, but I don’ know what it is.”

“What?” I laughed, though it did sound a little bit forced.  “Hagrid there’s nothing wrong with me, I’m just dealing with exams at the moment, that’s all.”

“Well if yeh say so…” Hagrid responded, though I noticed that he watched me carefully for the rest of the visit, despite the fact I refused to concede that anything was wrong.  The truth was, I was pretty churned up about Albus.  What else would I be worried about?  Albus is all I’ve worried about this year! I thought bitterly as I made my way back to the castle for lunch. 

I’d been putting a lot of effort into avoiding Albus since the ‘water balloon incident’, almost as much effort as I was putting into my exams.  I knew that if I talked to Albus, he would probably try to finish what he’d started to say that day before I ran away from him.  His words ran through my head over and over again: “I’m so sorry…I didn’t mean…” and I knew how that sentence would end.  “Lucy, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to kiss you.  I didn’t mean to lead you on.  I didn’t mean to make you think I wanted anything more than friendship and a study partner.”  Tears pricked my eyes every time I thought about Albus saying those words; I could barely handle it in my head, actually being rejected by the boy himself would completely devastate me.

Sometimes my mind went even further and considered the possibility that realising I had feelings for him would turn Albus off me completely.  More than once, the image of those silly girls in the Quidditch stand came to mind, giggling and waving to the boys, desperately trying to get their attention and not realising they were making complete fools of themselves.  What if Albus thought I was just some stupid giggling member of his fan club and decided he didn’t even want to be my friend anymore?

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew I was acting like a melodramatic, sullen teenager with an imagination that was probably a little overactive; and yet that didn’t stop me from feeling sad.  Forcing myself to avoid Albus was incredibly difficult, and not at all something I enjoyed doing, and yet I knew that having to face the ‘let’s just be friends’ talk with him would be doubly painful.  I was sitting between the proverbial rock and hard place, I was stuck and I didn’t really know what to do next.  My plan was to avoid Albus as much as possible until after the O.W.L’s, but after that…well I just didn’t know.

I went to the Library to study on Friday afternoon, knowing it would be relatively quiet in there.  I was finding it hard to focus and when I looked down at the pictures of animals I’d doodled on my parchment after forty-five minutes of my text book being open on the same page, I began to wonder if I should just give up.  I had just decided to pack everything up and give myself the night off when a shadow fell over my table.  I looked up and felt my stomach give an odd little swoop, as though I’d missed a step going downstairs or something.

“How goes the study?” Albus said in a slightly-too-cheerful voice, as though he were trying to convince me that this was just a casual conversation.  My mouth suddenly felt very dry and I swallowed deeply before speaking.

“Uh, not great.  I’m just giving up for the day actually,” I busied myself with packing my books into my bag, hoping he would decide to leave me alone.

“Oh, ok. Well I just wanted to give you this,” Albus held out several pieces of parchment to me, they were folded together neatly so I couldn’t see what was written on it.  I looked at the parchment curiously, wondering what it might say.

 Oh my goodness, he’s not even going to reject me to my face, he’s doing it in a letter!  I felt a little bit sick as I continued to stare at the parchment.

“You know, this is usually the part of the conversation where you take the parchment from my hand and read it,” Albus joked.  Heart pounding, I reached out my hand, took the parchment and opened it, dreading what I might find.

The Ministry of Magic official crest was not high on my list of expectations.  Actually, to be honest it wasn’t even on the list, or even on the back-up list.  It took me a couple of seconds to work out what it was, despite the fact that both my parents and brothers have worked for the ministry and I’d seen the crest a million times!

See how mental I’ve become?

Once I’d deciphered the fact that it was a ministry document, I scanned down to read the big bold heading

:

DEPARTMENT FOR THE REGULATION AND CONTROL OF MAGICAL CREATURES

APPLICATION FOR DEPARTMENT-BASED JUNIOR INTERNSHIP
 

"An internship application?” I said, looking up at Albus, unable to hide my surprise.

“Yeah, I sent away for one for me a couple of weeks ago and I decided to ask for one for you as well,” He explained.  “I mean you don’t have to apply for it if you don’t want to or anything, but I just thought that, well you know we talked about it once and, well if you wanted to…”  His voice drifted away.

“Oh,” I said, looking down at the page again.  I was surprised – if we both got internships at the ministry, then we would see a lot of each other over the summer holidays.  Maybe he does want to stay friends.  “Um, thanks.  I’ll think about it,” I added.  I didn’t trust myself to say much more than that so I quickly swung my bag over my shoulder and stepped around Albus.

“Lucy, wait,” He said when I had taken about six steps.  I turned around slowly, my insides trembling.  Albus looked as confused as I felt, and for a moment he appeared to be unsure as to what he wanted to say.  “Uh…the application due date,” He said, though I had the feeling that hadn’t been why he’d stopped me.  “It’s Friday, two weeks from today.”

“Oh, ok thanks,” I said, and then hurried out of the library, my heart pounding and my palms sweaty as I clutched the application.  You need to get over this, I told myself, or it is going to kill you.

Everybody was focussed on studying for Potions over the weekend.  I figured it was no coincidence that the exam was held after a two day break, because it was notorious for being one of the most difficult exams we had to sit.

“Now just remember to read the instructions all the way through before you start actually doing anything,” Rose said for about the fiftieth time on Sunday evening.  Then gather your ingredients and make sure you are precise in following the directions.  If it says chop finely, then chop finely, simple as that!”

“Simple as that,” Gwen grinned with a roll of her eyes as she flipped through a text book, though Rose didn’t seem to notice the smile everyone shared.

The Potions exam was as difficult as we had all expected, though not impossibly so.  I was a little worried about some of my answers in the theory exam, but then again I performed much better in the practical exam than I had anticipated.  Interestingly enough, Rose’s technique of reading through the directions and being as accurate as possible seemed to have quite a calming effect and I was more than satisfied with the flask of potion I handed up at the end of the exam.

I slept exceptionally well that evening, knowing that the next day held an exam I wasn’t going to have too much difficulty with…if fact I might even enjoy it.

“You look far too happy for someone about to take an exam,” Fred commented the next morning, sitting next to me at breakfast.  I was the first fifth-year down to the Great Hall, having fallen asleep the second I got into bed and therefore being the first one up the next morning.

“Care of Magical Creatures,” I grinned, spreading blackberry jam on my third piece of toast.

“Ah, I see.  This would be like a holiday for you then wouldn’t it?” Fred piled his plate high with bacon, eggs and sausages.  He grinned at me a put on a fake posh accent, “Miss Bell, please take this Hungarian Horntail’s temperature with one hand tied behind your back.  And do it the old fashioned way.”  He changed his voice to a stupidly high-pitched one, “Of course Sir, I’d be delighted to.  I’ll even do it without gloves…”

“Ew!  You’re disgusting!” I exclaimed, though I couldn’t help giggling.

“Shall I do the Swedish Short-snout while I’m at it?” He continued in the girlish voice.

“Gross!  Some of us are trying to eat here!” I was laughing uncontrollably now as I whacked Fred on the arm.  He laughed along with me as he tried to fight off my attack.

“Someone looks happy today!” Louis greeted us as he, Jane, Albus and Will sat down at the table.  I noticed that Albus looked quite grumpy and he seemed to be almost glowering at Fred, who stopped fighting with me and raised his eyebrows at his cousin before turning his focus to cutting up his bacon.

“Care of Magical Creatures exam,” I beamed, taking a bite of my toast.  “Don’t tell me you’re not looking forward to it, it’s clearly the high point of the school year!”

“That’s my girl,” Jane laughed at my sarcasm.  “I on the other hand, am going to enjoy my day off!”

“I’ll be enjoying the extra study time,” Gwen said, sitting down with Justin.  I noticed they’d left Rose at the Slytherin table where she was talking to Scorpius about something.  “We have three exams tomorrow!”

“Don’t remind me,” Louis groaned.  “And one of them is at night!  I am not taking Astronomy after this year, I can promise you that!”

I realised that with all the time I had put into studying Care of Magical Creatures with Albus, I found myself overcome with the desire to know that he was feeling alright about the exam.  I sipped my tea nervously, wondering if I should speak to him.  I finally decided to break my self-imposed silence five minutes before the exam when we were waiting outside the Great Hall; he was sitting on the marble staircase looking incredibly worried.

“You are going to be just fine,” I said, sitting next to him.  “You know this stuff back to front, there’s nothing to be worried about.”

“Oh…yeah I know,” He said, looking surprised that I was talking to him.  “I suppose this will be a walk in the park for you, won’t it?”

“That doesn’t mean I’m not a bit nervous, I mean it’s still an exam isn’t it?” I replied, “And I mean how embarrassing would it be if I failed the exam for my best subject!”

“I don’t think you have to worry about that,” Albus grinned at me, and a few butterflies tap danced in my stomach.  I had to admit (if only to myself) that I missed him terribly, his smile, his laugh, the way I felt when I was around him.

“Look, Lucy I…” He began, but he never got to finish his sentence because at that very moment we were summoned into the Great Hall for the theory exam.

I took a deep breath as we were once more given the pre-exam spiel that I’d practically memorised, removing all thoughts of Albus and clearing my mind for the task at hand.  When the examiner said we could begin, I opened the question booklet and began the first question.

Explain (a) Where Mokes are most readily found in the wild and (b) What their skin is most commonly used for.

An image came to mind of my 12 year old self being given a Mokeskin purse by Hagrid as a Christmas present.  Grinning, I picked up my quill and began to write.

The practical exam was even easier, and involved completing such tasks as successfully distracting a Bowtruckle so we could extract wood from a tree stump and picking the kneazle out of a pen full of ordinary cats.  The best part of our exam was that it was held outside on the lawn not far from Hagrid’s hut, so it didn’t even really feel like an exam.  Hagrid was waiting nervously in the Entrance Hall when I made my way back up to the castle.

“How did yeh go?” He asked, scratching at his enormous beard.

“Too easy,” I beamed.  “I’m pretty sure I’ll be seeing you next year professor.”  Hagrid’s eyes lit up when I said that and I couldn’t help but hug him.

“An’ what about yeh?” Hagrid said over my head.  I turned to see Albus, who had just walked through the castle doors.

“No problems,” He replied with a smile.  “But then again I had an excellent teacher and the best study partner anyone could ask for.”  I looked down at my feet and blushed furiously.  Fortunately, Pippa appeared at that moment, having just finished the exam, so I took the opportunity to go and talk to her.  There was an hour until dinner would be served so we decided to have a bit of a catch up in the Hufflepuff common room, somewhere I seriously doubted I would run into Albus.

Wednesday was a bit strange with Astronomy in the morning and the evening, broken up by Divination in the afternoon. 

“Ugh, that was awful!” I said to Jane, once we were in the classroom used for students who had finished the Divination exam.  “I couldn’t see anything in the bloody crystal ball and my stupid tea leaves just kept telling me that I would meet a dangerous pumpkin!”

“A dangerous pumpkin?” Jane laughed.

“At least I think that’s what they were saying,” I groaned.  “Really, I have no idea, though I suppose the upside is that I never have to take Divination again.”

Jane grinned at me, “Ah, the blissful life where our dreams go un-analysed, tea leaves don’t tell us about angry vegetables,”

“And I never have to climb that stupid ladder up the North tower ever again,” I sighed.  “I still worry sometimes that the boys are trying to look at my knickers!”

Jane and I giggled as we made our way up to the common room for a last minute check of our star charts before dinner.  It seemed strange to be sitting up waiting for our exam to start so late, even though we’d had astronomy exams before. At eleven, we all made our way up to the Astronomy tower, telescopes in tow, to begin our exam.  Professor Walton and a tall, elderly wizard named Professor Legworth supervised us as we charted the stars in the night sky.  Fortunately it was a clear evening so the stars weren’t difficult to see, though I still found it a bit of a struggle.  Astronomy had never really been my strong point.

The exam lasted for two hours, so we didn’t get to bed until around one-thirty in the morning, however, we were allowed a bit of a sleep in since our final exam wasn’t until the following afternoon. 

“Trust them to put History of Magic as the last exam,” Will complained the next morning at breakfast, it was mostly fifth year students left in the Great Hall, since we didn’t have anywhere to rush off to straight away.  “It would have to be the most boring subject ever.”

“I’m genuinely afraid I’m going to fall asleep in the exam,” Louis joked.  Jane elbowed him in the ribs playfully while everyone laughed.

“I’ve never really minded History of Magic, I think it’s rather fascinating,” Rose commented.  I looked up at that moment and caught the eye of Albus, who was sitting opposite me.  He rolled his eyes and grinned at me, and I couldn’t help but smile back.  Darn it, avoiding him is really hard!  I was granted a welcome distraction at that moment by Pages, Alice’s owl, who flew into the Great Hall and landed in front of me, a letter tied to his foot.

“Hasn’t the mail already been?” Gwen asked curiously as I removed the letter and gave Pages some toast to nibble on.

“Alice probably sent the letter late last night after work,” I explained.  “Pages is fairly small so sometimes he takes a bit longer to get here, don’t you Pages?”  The owl looked at me and cocked his head to one side, as though to ask why I was using that tone of voice.  We all laughed and I gave him some more toast to eat.  I tucked the envelope in my pocket, deciding I’d save the letter for after our exams were finished.

Louis was right, the History of Magic exam was excruciatingly boring, filled with questions about things like Goblin revolutions and the work of long dead Wizards.  The only questions I found remotely interesting were about the last great Wizarding War, the war my own parents had fought in. 

Name the wizard who was appointed Minister for Magic after the death of Tom Riddle/Lord Voldemort and explain three strategies he put into place to restore the Wizarding World after the war, giving examples of the effectiveness of such strategies.

I searched my mind for a second, trying to remember the man that Mum often talked about.  She said he was the best Minister she’d even come across, though he’d retired five years ago.

Kingsley Shacklebolt, I wrote down, remembering the tall man with dark skin, a wide smile and a shiny gold earring.  I’d met him once when I went to visit Dad at work, I’d been about six at the time.  With that image in my mind, I forced myself to remember what I had read and heard about the recovery efforts after the war and turn them into something that vaguely resembled an essay.

The feeling of relief when we walked out of the Great Hall after our final exam was overpowering.  I found myself resisting the urge to start dancing in the hallways, and when the others suggested a stroll down by the lake before dinner, I readily agreed.  It was an amazing feeling to be finished for the year, and I felt such a sense of accomplishment, knowing that I’d completed my first five years at Hogwarts and despite what my grades were like, I’d made it through my O.W.L’s. 

The fifth years in general were a lot more relaxed with the completion of our O.W.L. exams, and we sat around in the common room on Thursday night, chatting, laughing and eating sweets, safe in the knowledge that we had the next day off, meaning we could enjoy a nice long weekend.  I unwrapped a sweet but couldn’t see a waste paper basket around, so I tucked the wrapper into my pocket, surprised to find it wasn’t empty.  I pulled out the folded envelope I had received at breakfast that morning, the letter from Alice I still hadn’t read.

“Oh,” I said, as the others glanced over at me.  “I forgot to read this, do you guys mind if I go upstairs and see what it says?”  They all said they didn’t mind, and since it was getting later, I wished everyone goodnight, deciding I’d probably go to bed once I’d read the letter.  I crawled onto my bed and ripped open the envelope, pulling out a three page letter.  It wasn’t too different from Alice’s normal letters, just tidbits and stories about her life, news from home and a few sentences about how proud she was of me for completing my O.W.L’s.  It was just another letter from home however, towards the end of the letter there was one paragraph that caught my attention.

Luce, I’m still not sure what to do about James.  I wrote to him and told him we could talk about things when he gets back from Hogwarts but it’s so scary.  I am glad he was able to study and do his exams without too much stress, I hadn’t realised it was that bad until you wrote to me.  I do like him Lucy, honestly I really do and to be quite frank, I think I prefer him to any other boy I’ve ever met.  He’s made it clear in his letters that he still cares for me and he wants to pursue a closer relationship once he gets home, but starting a relationship is such a big leap, I have no idea what I’m doing and it just seems so risky.  What do you think I should do Lucy?  Should I follow my heart and just go for it, or should I just keep back a bit and be cautious?

James was crazy about Alice, there was no doubt of that in my mind; and despite her shyness, I knew Alice felt the same way.  It seemed ridiculous to me that two people who cared so much about each other weren’t together.  I knew that even with all the pain and frustration being in love had caused me throughout the last year, if Albus declared his love for me I would accept it in a second.  Love was awful when you were in it alone, but if there was someone with you, you would be crazy to turn it down.  After all, you couldn’t predict when love was going to come your way again.  I climbed off my bed and dug around in my bag for a spare piece of parchment.  I wanted to write Alice a letter, to send off in the morning.  I found the parchment, a quill and some ink, and I settled on the floor, leaning against my bed, to write.

Alice,

Hello my beautiful sister, I just finished reading your letter.  I saved it as a treat to reward myself once I had finished my final exam.  I think I went ok, but it might be a bit painful waiting for those results in the post this summer!

I wanted to write to you about James.  I’m glad you wrote to him, because he was so down and miserable when he thought you didn’t like him.  Alice he really is crazy for you and I don’t think it’s just about the thrill of the chase.  I think it’s honest, genuine affection…maybe even love, and I know you care about him too.  Love doesn’t always come around so easily and so often when it does, the person you love doesn’t love you back – or at least not in the same way that you love them.  When you care about someone and they care about you just as much, that’s a real gift.  The way you feel about James and the way he feels about you is so special Alice, don’t let it go to waste.  You wanted my advice sis, and this is it: dive in head first, be crazy, take the risk, fall in love!  Because it might just be the best thing that ever happens to you.

I can’t wait to see you in just over a week!

All my love,
Lucy.





AN:  Yet another quick update!  I'm spoiling you guys...actually I'm just impatient that I can't help myself, now that chapters are done I just want to get them up!  Sooo...Only two chapters left, actually one full chapter and an epilogue (gotta love those epilogues).  Are you guys excited?  Because I am, but also a little sad.  I think you guys are so awesome and I just love reading your reviews, I respond to every single one, so please consider leaving one because it will definitely be appreciated!

Now I'm pretty sure you're all going to love the next chapter, there's a lot going on in it, and just to keep the anticipation levels up, here's your little sneak peek!

“Wait, Albus kissed you?” Jane whispered.  She was sitting cross-legged on the floor now, facing me.

“Not really, he just sort of leaned towards me and I leaned in too; it wasn’t a real kiss.”

“But it could have been, I mean if Peeves hadn’t interrupted you,” I couldn’t work out why Jane was grinning, who on earth would my best friend think this was something to smile about.  “Maybe he wanted to kiss you Luce!”

“No, but he didn’t!” I exclaimed.  “He was just being comforting because he thinks I’m in love with some guy.”

“Maybe…” Jane didn’t look like she agreed with me, but she seemed to let it drop.  “But why should that mean you can’t do the internship?  I mean you and Al are friends, and you’re both mature enough to work at the Ministry together.  Anyway, you probably won’t even be in the same department!”

“I guess so,” I said, still unsure.

“Ok, well answer me this.  Forget Albus, forget your family, forget me, forget everyone.  What do you want to do Luce?” Jane fixed me with a serious look and I closed my eyes, trying to see past all of my emotions and my need to make sure I wasn’t upsetting other people.  What do I really want?

“I want to send off the application,” I said, opening my eyes. 


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