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Chapter 3 : Fact of Nature #3: Hesitation can be a real killer.
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“What’s up?” I asked curiously when he caught up with me, I noticed he was holding a folded piece of parchment.
“Here, Neville asked me to give you this,” He said, holding out the parchment to me. We weren’t supposed to call him Neville at school, but we always felt stupid calling him Professor when nobody else was around. I opened the note, read it and shoved it in my pocket. James watched me curiously, raising his eyebrows expectantly.
“Detention,” I shrugged. “I have to go down to the dungeons at six to clean cauldrons.” It wasn’t the most enthralling way to spend an evening but I’d had worse before; anyway it had been worth it to watch Pucey trying to stop that Quaffle from following him around.
“That was a pretty stupid stunt Al,” James said and I raised my eyebrows cynically.
“Since when did you become so perfect?” I asked. “You get just as many detentions as me, maybe even more!”
“Well maybe I’m changing,” He shrugged, a slightly defensive tone to his voice. “I’m of age now, you know and after I sit my N.E.W.T’s I’ll be leaving Hogwarts for good. You might even say I’m growing up.”
“I’ll believe that when I see it,” I laughed, turning around and continuing along the corridor towards the Common Room.
I made sure to get down to the Great Hall early to eat before my detention that night, not that I was in any hurry to get down there, but I wanted to make sure I could eat enough that I wasn’t going to go hungry. At about ten minutes to six, I left the table and headed down to the Potions room. The door was closed when I arrived, so I leaned against the wall and waited, already feeling a bit bored. As I was staring at the bricks in the wall opposite me, I heard approaching footsteps. I assumed it was Professor Alchers returning from the Great Hall, but when I glanced up I felt a slightly uncomfortable swooping sensation in my stomach. Lucy was walking down the hall towards me, her shiny brown hair dancing around her face as she looked up and noticed me. I couldn’t believe my luck at being given a detention with the one girl I desperately wanted one-on-one time with and I couldn’t stop myself from smiling at her.
The first of many things I learnt about Lucy that night was this: she is apparently quite clumsy.
As I watched, Lucy’s foot got caught on a loose stone in the dungeon floor and she fell, face first, on to the hard ground below. I felt a slight sense of panic as she fell, but before I could even push off the wall to help her, she had jumped to her feet, brushed down her robes and continued walking towards the door as though nothing had happened. Her attempt at nonchalance was so cute I couldn’t help but smile at her again.
“Never better,” She leaned slightly on one leg and I noticed a small bruise forming on one of her knees, though she didn’t seem to be showing any indication of pain. Man, this girl is tough, I thought to myself, forcing myself to tear my eyes away from Lucy’s legs, which I noticed were rather fetching.
She didn’t say anything else because Professor Alchers chose that moment to open the door, make one of his awkward-joking-but-not-quite-joking comments, confiscate our wands and point us in the direction of about a thousand dirty cauldrons.
“I’ll come back to check on you regularly so make sure you’re working hard.” He said before leaving the room. I turned to Lucy and wracked my brain for something to say.
“He won’t, you know,” I started with.
“Won’t what?” She looked confused.
“Come in and check on us,” I began, realising how lucky I was to have a detention with her and for the one professor who didn’t ever supervise detentions. After some good natured teasing, Lucy asked me why I was on detention. I tried not to sound too proud as I explained about Pucey and the quaffle; I wasn’t sure if she would approve or not, but she seemed happy that the Slytherin git had been taken down a peg or two. Then came her turn to explain her presence.
“Molly caught me out of the common room after curfew on Saturday night,” She said. Mental note: I must buy Molly a huge box of chocolate frogs for this.
“What were you doing out so late anyway?” I asked curiously. I was desperate to find out what made her tick, and why on earth she would have been sneaking around the castle so late at night. Don’t get me wrong, the rule breaking stuff is incredibly hot, I just didn’t realise it was her thing.
“I had a rendezvous with Arthur Kennilworthy. On top of the astronomy tower at midnight.” She said in a blasé sort of voice. My heart seemed to skip a beat, could she be serious?
“Really?” I asked, trying to keep a calm expression on my face.
“Really. We’re having a steamy love affair but he doesn’t want his girlfriend to find out about it.”
She’s into Kennilworthy? The upstanding, responsible and completely boring head boy of our wonderful school was not the sort of person I’d imagined Lucy with; I started to wonder if I had seriously misjudged her character. I glanced at her curiously, and noticed that the corners of her mouth were twitching.
“You’re joking,” I ventured, hoping I was right.
“Of course I’m joking! I don’t even know Arthur Kennilworthy!” She laughed, and I joined in with her, ever so slightly relieved. “I was just sneaking down to the kitchens for treacle tart.”
“Treacle tart, really?” How crazy that she was sneaking out for my favourite dessert. “I love treacle tart,” I added, as though that would make more sense to her. She seemed suitably unimpressed. “I thought maybe you’d snuck out to rescue and injured baby dragon or something.” I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of Lucy sneaking out to save some dangerous monster, like an attractive Hagrid!
“That would be incredibly dangerous,” Lucy replied, but I could tell from the tone of her voice that the thought of looking after a baby dragon was exciting for her. I felt my smile widen, I’d managed to get something right about her: this talk about animals seemed to spark her interest.
“Well you seem to be the animal girl of Hogwarts, so it seemed appropriate.” The moment the words left my lips, I wished I could take them back. I hadn’t meant for it to sound so stupid, I had meant to compliment her, but she was obviously not taking it that way.
“Animal girl?” The tone of her voice made me cringe.
“I meant it as a compliment,” I offered.
“Oh well that’s alright then,” She muttered sarcastically and I stared stoically at my cauldron, berating myself silently for screwing things up just as they’d been getting off the ground. She ignored me for a while and I continued to scrub in silence, trying to work up the nerve to apologise and make her smile again. Minutes ticked by and still I couldn’t find the courage to speak, but eventually, Lucy broke the silence.
“I’m taking a break,” She said as she wiped her hands on her skirt and moved on to sit on a nearby desk. Holding in my nerves, I followed suit. Sitting next to her, close enough to touch, I took a deep breath and spoke.
“Sorry if I hurt your feelings with that animal girl comment before,” I said, feeling some encouragement at the way her eyes softened at my apology. “I actually think it’s really cool how good you are with animals. You’re like a female Hagrid.” Once again, my stupid mouth moved too fast for my brain and I nearly jumped off the table so I could go drown myself in the nearest cauldron. I slapped my hand to my forehead and let out a small, involuntary groan. “Sorry! That really didn’t come out right, that’s not what I meant!” I exclaimed, my heart sinking as I realised she probably thought I was the biggest moron at Hogwarts. It was to my great delight then, when Lucy actually laughed; a genuine, sweet tinkling sound that filled the whole room.
“It’s ok, Hagrid’s pretty cool. I’m thinking of growing a beard myself.” She stroked her chin thoughtfully and I couldn’t help but laugh. Despite the fact I’d made a complete arse of myself twice already, she seemed to accept my apology and the conversation soon moved to other things, like school and plans for the future.
I found myself opening up a little bit and admitting that I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. James kept going on about how he was growing up and how he wanted to pass his N.E.W.T’s, but I really didn’t have a clue. Lucy seemed to understand the pressure as she shared with me about the achievements of her siblings. After we’d returned to work, once again scrubbing in silence, I thought about how easy Lucy was to talk to once I’d managed to get my foot out of my mouth. It was like talking to Rose only without all the gloating and know-it-all speeches. Plus, when Lucy laughed it gave me rather pleasant tingles in my stomach. I found myself missing her laugh and bravely decided a playful splash of water might entice her sense of humour. My first attempt yielded no rewards though, if she noticed the splash, she simply ignored it. I tried again, watching her for a reaction. This time she looked up and caught my eye before smiling and splashing me back.
That smile had me stunned for a few minutes and I stared at the wall, trying to calm my nerves before directing another, larger splash in her direction. Without hesitation, Lucy splashed me back, the sudden jet of water dousing my face and causing me to step back in shock. She stared at me for a second before that adorable laugh escaped her lips. Feeling braver than I had all night, I stepped forward and threw as much water at her as I could. Next thing I knew, there was water flying everywhere and the sound of Lucy’s laughter mingled with my own for several minutes, until she slipped and crashed to the ground for the second time that night.
“Oh crap, are you ok?” I asked, trying to get down to her but only falling in an unceremonious heap myself, causing more laugher to fill the room. I was sitting very close to her now, my hand still full of the foamy suds I’d been scooping up to throw at her. A sudden burst of courage filled me, and I reached forward to put some of the suds on her nose, my fingers tingling where they had touched her. “You look ridiculous,” I smiled, hoping my nervous laugh masked everything I was feeling. She was so close and so beautiful, all I had to do was lean forward and kiss her…
I’ll never know if I would have worked up the nerve to kiss her if Professor Alchers hadn’t interrupted at that very moment. I made up a quick excuse about slipping on the wet floor and climbed to my feet, offering my hand to Lucy without thinking about the action. Despite the fact we were both soaking wet, Lucy’s hand felt so small and soft in my own and I had to use all of my self-control to let go of it once she was safely on her feet again. We joked all the way back to the common room, and I was once more surprised by her quick witted sense of humour and how easy it was to talk to her. When we reached the common room, I noticed Rose sitting by the fire, watching me curiously so I turned towards Will and Justin who were tackling some piece of homework by the window.
“How was detention?” Justin asked, glancing up as I sat down.
“A lot more fun than I was expecting,” I answered. “Lucy was there too,” I added in response to their confused stares.
“That was convenient,” Will said, sounding surprised. “You sure you didn’t plan it that way?”
“Believe me, I’d love to take credit for it, but obviously I just got lucky. I didn’t even know she was a rule breaker!”
“What was she in detention for?” Will seemed intrigued, although I wondered if he was just looking for an excuse to avoid studying.
“Well of all things, sneaking out of the dormitories after hours. Molly apparently caught her on her way down to the kitchens.” I explained, trying to surreptitiously glance across the room to where Lucy was now chatting with the other girls by the fire.
“Oh, was that Lucy?” Justin asked, now also deserting his homework in favour of the conversation. “I knew Molly had caught someone, I just didn’t know who it was.”
“So, did you ask her out?” Will asked, lowering his voice. I glanced at Lucy again, she laughed at something Hawthorn said, the tinkling sound of her laugh seeming to drift across the room to me. I let out a sigh as I turned back to my friends.
“Not yet. Just give me time guys, give me time.”
I was beginning to wonder if I needed more than time: I needed courage. Just man up Al, go and ask her out already! I berated myself on a daily basis. And I often believed I could, that is until I would see her and my pulse would speed up and I’d get tongue tied. I always did stupid things like stare at her for too long and then have to look away quickly when her head moved or I’d make dumb jokes in class, causing her to look embarrassed that I was even talking to her.
I wanted to ask her out, and yet I couldn’t do it. I was certain she would reject me, after all, why would she be interested in an idiot who’d ignored her all these years? I mentally kicked myself for about the ten millionth time as I headed down to the Great Hall for dinner one evening. To my delight, I spotted and empty seat next to Rose, just across from Lucy. She seemed to be explaining something to the other girls, and whilst Rose looked positively delighted at what she was saying, Lucy’s face seemed to reveal a sense of confusion more than anything else.
“And all this time he was watching you from afar, secretly falling in love with you,” I heard Rose gasp as I came within earshot. My stomach churned nervously at those words, could Lucy have found out my feelings? Maybe one of the boys had let it slip, ooh I was going to hex them into eternity when I worked out who it was!
“Who’s secretly falling in love?” I heard myself say as I sat down, surprised at how nonchalant I’d managed to make my voice.
Rose explained about Lucy’s date with some kid named Michael, not knowing that each word cut at me like a knife. You idiot! The voice screamed inside my head. You left it too long and now she’s dating someone else! I fought for composure and tried to think of something to say. There was a kid called Michael McMillan in Hufflepuff I thought, weedy looking guy with weird eyes.
“Hufflepuff?” I asked, forcing a blasé tone. Lucy nodded, probably wondering why I even cared about her date. With every ounce of strength I turned to face Rose and said the first thing that came to my mind, something about Uncle George I think.
I said very little for the rest on the evening, heading up to bed early where I could be alone with my torturous thoughts. Lucy Bell had been getting under my skin for weeks and I’d been carefully putting myself on her radar, hoping she would forgive me for years of ignoring her. I hadn’t worked up the nerve to ask her out yet, but the fact that she didn’t have a boyfriend had always given me hope that I wouldn’t be rejected when I took the plunge. But then she agreed to go out with some stupid Hufflepuff and I didn’t stand a chance. I hadn’t believed it possible, but I wanted her even more than ever now.
“Mate, what is your problem?” Louis asked the next morning when I slammed my trunk shut for the third time. My left shoe was missing and I was about ready to destroy the room in order to find it.
“Nothing,” I growled, looking under my bed again for the missing footwear.
“Bell’s got a date for Hogsmeade,” Justin explained and I glared at him angrily.
“What?” He threw up his hands, not at all intimidated by me. “That’s why you’re so grumpy isn’t it?”
“Oh Al, I’m sorry mate,” Louis said, retrieving my shoe from underneath a pile of dirty clothes and throwing it to me. “Look, you can’t change her mind now, but that shouldn’t be an excuse to mope around. There’s plenty of girls who would go with you to Hogsmeade, why don’t you ask one of them, at least then you could still have a good time.”
I refused to dignify that stupid idea with a response and stalked wordlessly out of the dormitory. I let the black cloud hang over my head for the morning, not speaking to anyone and barely paying attention in classes. The afternoon passed in a similar fashion until the end of the day, when I escaped to the solace of the library, where my friends wouldn’t look for me and I could just sit and pretend to study. I’m not sure how long I sat staring at the blank piece of parchment in front of me before I noticed the blonde girl three desks away from me. She was wearing a Gryffindor tie and looked vaguely familiar, I searched my memory for an idea of who she was. I estimated she was a fourth year, but I still couldn’t place who she was. I wondered if I should know, because she kept glancing up at me from her books and smiling before ducking her head again. I was about to ignore her and sink back into my bad mood when Louis’s words came to me. There’s plenty of girls who would go with you to Hogsmeade, why don’t you ask one of them?
The girl smiled at me again, and it suddenly hit me that maybe this was one of the girls Louis had been talking about. Maybe I should ask her out, after all if Lucy agreeing to go out with Michael had only intensified my feelings for her, maybe I could make the same thing happen, but in reverse. It was stupid, and not at all fair on anyone, but I was determined to do anything I could to get Lucy and this was the only thing I could think of. Before I lost my nerve, I stood up and walked over to the blonde girl, who looked up at me shyly as I approached.
“Hi, um…” I faltered, realising I still didn’t know this girl’s name.
“Mary,” She offered, as though reading my mind. “Mary Temple.”
“Hi Mary,” I gave her what I hoped was a winning smile. “I’m Albus – ” I was cut off by her high pitched giggle.
“I know who you are,” She said, and giggled again.
“Right, well um Mary I was wondering if you were going to Hogsmeade with anyone this weekend, and if you’d maybe consider going with me?” I surprised myself with how easily the words had slipped out of my mouth. Now why couldn’t I just do that with Lucy? I asked myself. I knew the answer straight away: because I didn’t actually care if Mary said no.
“I’d love to,” Mary giggled again.
“Great,” I plastered on a fake smile. “Well I’ll meet you in the common room at 10 on Saturday morning ok?” I said, which was met with another giggle. “Well I’ll see you then,” I quickly scooped my things up and headed towards the common room. I had thought that asking a girl out and having her agree so readily would make me feel better, but as I walked away I couldn’t ignore the uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach.
AN: Chapter three...yay! :) I hope you guys liked it, I know that detention scene is a favourite of many readers so I hope you liked it from Al's perspective. As I said in the last chapter, There will be a little wait for the next chapter because I'm going away for Easter but I'll hopefully be able to update in less than two weeks. I also thought I'd just tell you guys about two songs that are just resonating with me in regards to this story at the moment. Say you Like Me by We The Kings and What makes you beautiful by One Direction. Lately, everytime I here these songs on the radio, it makes me think of this story. Just thought I'd share :)
As always, I love reading your reviews, so please leave one telling me what you think. And have a lovely couple of weeks until I can update again!
Next Time on Human Nature...
“So what bands do you like?” Mary asked.
“Oh, you know, this and that,” I said, shrugging my shoulders. To be honest I didn’t listen to a lot of the newer bands, there were so many singers that popped on to the scene for a song or two and then disappeared. And so many of them were posers anyway, using a gimmick they probably bought at Uncle Fred’s shop to get attention. “I’ve always been a fan of The Weird Sisters.”
“The Weird Sisters?” Mary looked surprised at my answer. “They’re that really old band aren’t they? I think my dad has some of their records somewhere.”
“Well they’ve been around a while, but they’re pretty classic,” I replied, not really in the mood to have a debate with some fourth year who thought ‘Johnny Glitter’ was the best singer in the last 500 years. “What about Celestina Warbeck, have you heard of her? My Grandma has a box full of her records!” I laughed as I remembered the screeching sound of the singer my Grandma Weasley loved so much. Auntie Fleur could do the funniest impersonation of her, I suppose that’s where Louis got his talent for impersonating people from.
“Oh I love her,” Mary gushed, obviously missing the humour in my voice. “Now there is a classic performer!”
Oh brother, I groaned inwardly. Remind me again why I thought this date was going to be a good idea?
“So Mary, do you like Quidditch?” I asked, hoping to find an easier topic of conversation.
“Well not really,” She said. “Though I love watching you play, you’re an excellent snitcher!”
“Seeker,” I sighed. “The position is called Seeker.”
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