Chapter 21 : Twenty.one - Rocket Science
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After talking to Luke I realized that I should probably go talk to Lysander. It’d been very nearly two weeks since I had actually spoken to him and I figured that Luke had an excellent point – not talking to Lysander was only going to damage my friendship with him further. So, taking a deep breath, I approached him in the library, glad that he was sitting alone.
“Lysander,” I said, standing in front of him. He looked up at me as I continued, “I need to talk to you.”
“Okay,” his expression was mostly blank. I was expecting him to be angry, if anything. So the fact that he didn’t seem to be affected bothered me.
“First of all,” I started, trying to sound as kind as possible, “I’m really sorry for not talking to you before now.”
He waved his hand at this, signifying that he understood... Or something.
Luke would probably know if he were here.
“I was just afraid that I was going to ruin our friendship,” I continued, knowing that Lysander would – if he hadn’t already – figure out that I wanted a friendship, and nothing more than a friendship.
“I know,” he said, still not looking phased, “I figured that you weren’t interested after you wouldn’t talk to me. It’s not rocket science or anything.”
Rocket science. It sounds like something that Luke would say, although I assumed that Luke would probably say it is like rocket science. Considering he doesn’t understand girls. I shook the thought away as I apologized, “I’m sorry.”
Lysander then rose and collected his things, muttering, “Don’t be,” before walking away.
“My God, this is hopeless,” I said, after the fifteen-billionth time of attempting to nonverbally conjure a shield. Luke just looked at me, looking concerned. I have to admit that his idea of working my way down to conjuring the shield with a whisper was a really good idea, and that I had just perfected it before attempting it nonverbally. But for some reason it just wasn’t working.
Sitting on top of a desk, he asked, “Well, is that what you’re thinking when you’re trying to do it nonverbally – that you can’t do it?”
I just looked at him for a moment, wondering if he had somehow become a telepath in the last fifteen seconds. Just to check, I began thinking of every insult I knew, shouting in my mind at him. But he just sat there unfazed, so I assumed that he just had a good guess, “Something like that.”
Then he shook his head at me, “Performing a spell nonverbally has everything to do with concentration. If you doubt yourself then you’re basically screwing yourself over.”
I gave him a look, “So, you’re telling me that I should repeat I can do it in my head?”
“Something like that,” he shrugged.
“Okay,” I said skeptically, turning to try the spell again. That time, I put some extra effort into concentrating, repeating the mantra I can do it in my head for several moments before raising my wand and thinking Protego!
I nearly jumped in surprise when the glowing, blue shield came out of my wand, as bright as it is when I shout the incantation. A moment later, it dissipated and I turned to Luke and nearly knocked him off the desk, squealing in a very girlish manner. Luke seemed to be laughing and suffocating at the same time, so I released him to see that his face had suddenly turned a very bright red. “Sorry,” I apologized, still smiling.
He then cleared his throat, looking embarrassed, “Its fine. Do you want me to attempt disarming you again or do you want to keep practicing on your own?”
I elected to practice on my own a few more times and once I was sure that I had it down, I agreed to let him try to disarm me. Once he was facing me again I became very nervous, but instead of dodging his spell I was successful in summoning my shield nonverbally, disarming him instead. After I caught his wand again, I ran into him and squeezed him, nearly knocking him over for a second time. He laughed this time, and lifted me off the ground for a few moments before setting me back down.
Handing him his wand, I realized that both of our faces were flushed with color. So I decided to lie on the cold, hard floor to cool off. Luke just looked at me quizzically for a moment before lying beside me on the floor.
“So... Did you talk to Lysander?”
I nodded, but realized that he was looking up at the ceiling so I replied, “Yeah.”
“And he took it okay, I guess,” I said, frowning, “I’m really not sure because he just seemed so calm.”
He didn’t say anything to that, so I turned my head to see him looking at me with his very blue eyes after a moment. I noticed that I was so close to him that I could see my tiny reflection in his eyes. Then my eyes flashed down to where he had just moved his hand on the ground between us, his palm facing the ceiling. Suddenly, I felt very self-conscious with him staring at me so closely, but I had a nagging feeling that he was offering his hand to me if I wanted it. Without thinking much of what it might imply, I took his hand and looked toward the ceiling. Neither of us said anything for a while, and I realized that my face was flushing again. It didn’t matter though, because after I looked to the ceiling I saw him do the same out of my peripheral vision. I became very aware of my hand in his as I laid there beside him, being careful not to move it, and I found myself noticing how warm and smooth his hand is against mine.
It occurred to me as I laid there that I was not only becoming uncomfortable on the floor, but that I really wanted to pull myself closer to Luke. I really wanted to just soak up the heat coming off of him, like it had been coming from his palm. My face flushed again at this realization, and I tried to push the thoughts away because I knew he wouldn’t let me do it – it crossed the line of friendship and bounded over into that mysterious place that meant more than friendship. Surely, he would know this and recoil from me. So, after another moment, I pulled my hand out of his and slowly rose to my feet again, rubbing my backside where I was sore from lying on the ground.
When I turned to look at him, I saw that he was still on the ground with his arm over his eyes. He looked like he was trying to block the light out so that he could sleep. Smirking, I prodded him gently with my foot and he swatted it away. I laughed, “You can’t sleep on the floor, cupcake.”
At that he removed his arm from his face and looked up at me, “And you can’t call me cupcake, remember?”
“That was when I needed your help with nonverbally shielding myself, which I can do now thanks to you.”
He seemed to sigh and said, “You’re welcome.”
This is mental. This is mental. This is really bloody mental!
Thoughts much like these went through my head as I rose from my bed in the middle of the night and slipped on my shoes. I can’t believe I agreed to do this, I thought as I pulled my invisibility cloak over myself and quietly slipped into the common room. If I get caught or hexed by Malfoy tonight I am going to kill Luke.
I found myself glad that I stole the Marauder’s Map from James before leaving the common room because if I hadn’t I would have found myself running straight into Filch after turning a few corners. Luckily, he was the only person patrolling the corridors between the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw common rooms that night, so I managed to make my way to the corridor Luke told me to wait in. Pulling the map out as I leaned against a wall, I found the corridor I was standing in and saw the name and footsteps of “Lucas Albine” slowly heading toward me.
As he rounded the corner I slowly pulled the cloak off my head, though not off my body, and called to him, “It’s just us, now come on before Filch decides to head this way.”
When Luke spotted my floating head he stared at me for a long moment, “You know, your floating head is really bloody creepy in the dark.”
“Oh shut up and get under here already,” I snapped back, after glancing at the map and realizing that Filch was heading in our direction.
I then helped Luke get under the cloak with me, but when I didn’t move he looked over my shoulder at the map, “What’s the hold up?”
“Shut up!” I whispered, “Filch is going to turn the corner any second.”
As if on cue, Filch turned the corner and hastily walked through the corridor. I sighed in relief, realizing that he hadn’t heard us. If he had then he would have taken his sweet time walking down the hall. Once he was gone, Luke whispered, “What in the world are you holding?”
I gave him a look, but realized he couldn’t see it anyway, “It’s called the Marauder’s Map. So, obviously, it’s a map of Hogwarts. It’s how I knew Filch was coming around the corridor... And how I know that Malfoy has left his common room early,” I added after flipping through the layers of the map to the dungeons to see “Scorpius Malfoy” standing against a wall, “If you want to do this then we need to hurry.”
“All right, where’s Filch now?”
I was already flipping through the map before he asked, “Fifth floor corridor, and there aren’t any professors until the third floor so I think its best we move before that changes.”
The farther down the stairs we went, the more I told Luke how incredibly mental this idea of his was. He ignored me until we reached the ground floor, when I said, “Seriously, dude. This is really bleeding mental. It’s not too late to turn back now.”
“Shut the fuck up.”
I scowled in reply to this, though he couldn’t see it, and continued to lead us downstairs to the dungeons where Malfoy was still waiting. As we approached, I realized that he was hiding behind a tapestry. After glancing at the map again, to make sure that I wouldn’t be overheard, I called out to him, “Yo Malfoy, the coast is clear.”
A moment later, Malfoy poked his head out from behind the tapestry and looked all around the corridor, unable to see us, “Potter, take off that damned invisibility cloak so I can see you.”
Then Luke and I both pulled the cloak down and Malfoy emerged from behind the tapestry, his wand raised as he approached. We allowed him to join us under the cloak, although at this point I was about to tell Luke I was going to kill him later – the very last person I wanted under my dad’s cloak was Malfoy – but instead I pulled the map out again.
“All right, there’s nobody between us and the Potions’ stores,” I said before beginning to lead us forward.
It seemed like we were making good progress, despite the fact that we kept stepping on one another’s heels. So when we reached the Potions’ stores we were relieved to be able to separate. Malfoy insisted on breaking into them himself, saying that he wanted to be absolutely certain that it was veritaserum. So Luke and I waited underneath the invisibility cloak for him to return.
“This is probably the most idiotic thing you’ve ever done,” I whispered to Luke while Malfoy was gone, “There’s no way in hell that this won’t end badly.”
“Al, if you don’t quit being a negative Nancy then I’m going to hex you, take your cloak and map, and leave you in the corridor for Filch to find.”
“A negative what?”
“Oh, just shut up,” he said, a moment before Malfoy re-emerged from the Potions’ stores.
“Okay,” he said as we allowed him to join us under the cloak again, “I’ve got it.”
“Got what?” I asked drily, “Poison?”
“Veritaserum, Potter. Now if you would shut up and lead us on I would appreciate it.”
“Fine,” I growled, thinking bitterly that Luke must be stifling a laugh. On the way up to the Room of Requirement – yet another thing I didn’t want Malfoy to know about, although I knew I could just not tell him how the room works – I continuously watched the map, though we were extremely lucky again. Once we reached the stretch of wall, I gave the map to Luke and told him to warn me if anyone was about to come up onto the seventh floor before stepping out from under the cloak. I paced back and forth three times, sure that Luke and Malfoy were probably wondering what the hell I was doing, but still concentrating on what I needed from the room – in particular asking it to not allow anyone to leave unless I gave them permission.
After the third passing, a door suddenly materialized in the wall. It was a normal, wooden door, not unlike most of the classroom doors in the castle, though I knew that once we entered no one would be able to see it. Luke and Malfoy pulled the cloak off of themselves, revealing their looks of surprise, and I told them to hurry up so we could get this over with. Once I shut the door it vanished behind me.
“Wait, where did the door go?” Malfoy asked, suddenly looking concerned.
I smirked at him, “Don’t worry, it’ll come back.”
“When?” Luke asked, one of his brows raised.
“Whenever I tell it to,” I replied. At my answer, Malfoy looked like he was about to strangle me. Luke, on the other hand, was looking at me like I was a genius – which I was, thank you very much.
And zombies are real, just saying.
“All right,” Malfoy said, tossing the vial of veritaserum to Luke, “Let’s get this over with so I can go back to bed.”
I thought for a moment that maybe Luke would change his mind because once he caught the vial he just stared at it, seeming to examine its contents. So when he took the stopper off and downed the whole thing in one gulp I frowned in surprise before pulling up a chair in front of where the door would reappear when I asked it to. Malfoy seemed to look particularly cheerful as he laid down on one of the couches in the room, putting his hands behind his head.
“So,” Malfoy started lazily, “Let’s start with something easy. How did Sarah break up with you?”
“She slapped me,” Luke said, sounding conversational as he spoke.
Oh come on Malfoy, just get to it already.
“Rose invited you to spend the holidays with her. True or false?”
“What’s Al’s middle name?”
“Hey!” I shouted suddenly, “Leave me out of this!”
Malfoy smirked at me, but just ignored my comment and continued a moment later, “Has Rose kissed you?”
Luke took a moment before opening his mouth, though the three of us knew he wouldn’t be able to lie so there was really no point, “Yes.”
I noticed that Malfoy suddenly looked tense, and my hand immediately went to my wand, “When?”
“Hmm,” Malfoy took a moment to think, “That’s really interesting. Now, were you cheating on Sarah with Rose?”
I found myself grinning like a loon at Malfoy’s confusion and having to cough to disguise a laugh, “Sorry,” I said when they both looked at me, irritated, “Please, continue.”
It took Malfoy a moment to remember what he wanted to ask next, “Does Rose have feelings for you?”
Malfoy raised a brow, but continued, “Do you have feelings for Rose?”
Luke shook his head, “No, I don’t.”
“Okay,” I said, thinking that was all that Malfoy wanted to know and that we could leave now, “There you go – Rose is all yours, Malfoy. Can we go back to bed now?”
“Hold on, Potter,” Malfoy said to my surprise, “I’ve got one more question and then you can allow that door to materialize again.”
At that I looked at Luke, who looked just as confused as I did. But, before I could think to open the door and shove Malfoy outside, he asked his final question, “So if you don’t fancy Rose, then who do you fancy?”
“Okay! We’re done here!” I said loudly, trying to spare Luke from having to tell Malfoy. Turning, I saw the door start to materialize in the wall again, but I didn’t realize that veritaserum doesn’t just keep you from lying – it forces you to tell the truth.
Once we were heading back up to the Ravenclaw common room under Al’s invisibility cloak, he turned to me and said what I knew he was going to say even before he opened his mouth, “I told you that was a bad idea.”
“So it’s true then?” Al asked, “You fancy her, no doubt about it?”
Because the effects of the veritaserum had yet to wear off, I couldn’t have lied to him even if I wanted to. Which didn’t anger me because I wanted to keep it a secret – he already knew anyway – it infuriated me because I still didn’t want to admit it, “No doubt about it,” I echoed quietly.
“Has the veritaserum worn off yet?”
“So you couldn’t say that monkeys are blue even if I asked you to?”
“Not even if I tried, it’s literally forming the words in my mouth for me.”
Looking amused, Al then asked, “You’ve been helping Lauren learn nonverbal spells, right?”
I gave him an irritated look, but nodded anyway, “Yes. She actually succeeded in shielding herself nonverbally the other day,” I said, unable to keep from smiling at the memory.
Al seemed to notice me grinning, even in the dark, as he sounded amused, “What happened – was she so excited that she kissed you or something?”
“She didn’t kiss me. She hugged me a couple times and then she...” I trailed off, feeling the effects of the potion finally wearing off. It seemed like it was just in time, too.
At least, until Al pressed, “Then she did what?”
“Erm, nothing really.”
“God damn it!” Al suddenly shouted, before throwing a hand over his mouth. We were still on the lookout for professors... and Filch.
I couldn’t help but laugh at him though, “It only just wore off. Which means I can lie now, see – monkeys are blue, and green, and violet, and I don’t care what the fuck else because I can lie again! Thank you Merlin!”
After that, Al just sulked until he dropped me off at the Ravenclaw common room, disappointed that I wasn’t forced to tell him what had happened the other day.
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