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Chapter 24 : Twenty.four - Magnetism
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You know what makes me crazy...
When two of my closest friends have become smitten with one another...
Yet neither of them will admit their feelings to the other.
It’s aggravating, to be completely honest. Scorpius kept telling me to just back off and let them figure it out on their own. He kept saying that things would work themselves out without any outside help, insisting that my relationship with him worked itself out on its own. I have to admit that he had a point, considering Scorpius and I kept our relationship a secret for six months before I told him I couldn’t do it anymore.
I grew tired of sneaking around and keeping secrets, but the point is that our relationship started – and developed – on its own... without other people trying to influence what we did.
Lauren and Luke, however, had both dealt with Al and I trying to give them advice, I guess you could say. I had merely suggested to Luke that I was under the impression that Lauren returned his feelings. But Al, on the other hand, had tried to tell each of them to admit how they felt to the other. I didn’t necessarily approve of what Al had done because I didn’t think that either of them was ready to hear the other admit how they felt. Well, Luke would probably handle hearing Lauren admit it better than Lauren would handle hearing Luke admit it, but I only thought this was the case because I was still unsure of exactly how Lauren felt about Luke. If she didn’t fancy him quite enough yet then who knows what might happen.
“So, Rosie,” Louis addressed me one night at the Gryffindor table, “Fred and I were just discussing baby names.”
“Louis,” I said, giving him a sarcastic raise of the eyebrow, “You realize that you and Fred together would be incest, right?”
Al, who was sitting across from me, snorted his pumpkin juice out his nose. Louis, however, did not look amused.
“We were talking about you and Scorp’s future children.”
“What about them?” I asked, picking at my food with a fork.
“Fred and I were trying to guess what you two would name them.”
I dropped my fork and looked at Louis long and hard before deciding that he wasn’t worth yelling at, “I’m going up to the common room now.”
As I was crossing the entrance hall, I heard Lauren behind me. She was calling after me, so I stopped and turned to wait for her. Noting the strange look on her face, I asked, “What is it?”
Lauren seemed to frown as she reached me, “I need to talk to you.”
I raised a brow, unsure of why she needed to talk to me, “About...?”
She exhaled noisily before answering, “I need to talk to you about Luke.”
“Oh,” I breathed, surprised, “Okay.”
Then we started to walk through the corridors on the ground floor. It wasn’t until we reached an abandoned corridor that I turned to Lauren and asked, “What’s going on?”
Lauren looked over her shoulder to make certain that there wasn’t anyone behind us before looking back at me, “Well nothing really. I mean we’re not fighting or anything, it’s just that...”
“I don’t know,” Lauren sounded disheartened, “I’ve just been thinking lately.”
Lauren stopped and leaned against a wall before she continued, “I’ve been thinking about him in a... in a different way lately.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that I think I might fancy him, Rose,” she said, frowning, “I don’t know what to do.”
After she said this I pulled her into a tight hug, which surprised her, but she hugged me back for a moment. I’d never actually hugged Lauren before, but she sounded so helpless (and I couldn’t think of a better way to hide the smile that was forming on my lips) that I didn’t care if it was awkward – Lauren wasn’t exactly the hugging type. When I released her, however, there was still a small trace of a smile on my lips.
“What are you smiling about?”
“Nothing,” I assured her, forcing the smile to leave my features, “When did this happen?”
Lauren started to open her mouth to answer me, but then we heard two male voices approaching us. It was clear that it was Al and Luke, actually, and they were apparently arguing over something.
“Seriously,” Al said loudly, “You should just talk to her about it already.”
“No,” we heard Luke say firmly, “I’m not risking it.”
“But come on,” Al said, sounding annoyed, “She held your hand for Christ’s sake-“
“I don’t care, Al,” as Luke spoke I looked at Lauren, who looked like she was going to be ill when she realized they were talking about her, “It’s not worth it.”
Before Al could retort, the two of them rounded the corner to find Lauren and I standing there. They stopped in their tracks and stared at us with wide eyes. Al’s eyes went from Lauren to myself while Luke’s did the opposite, their shocked looks turning to almost horror.
“How much did you hear?” Al dared to ask as I looked between Luke and Lauren, whom seemed to be having a private moment in which Luke stared at her in fear, and she stared back at him with an expression I couldn’t read. At the sound of Al’s voice, however, Lauren tore her eyes away from Luke to look at him.
“I told you not to tell him,” she said quietly, though she sounded like a snake about to strike.
Al raised his hands defensively and took a step back, which I didn’t blame him for, and said innocently, “I didn’t tell him anything, I swear!”
I looked at Luke and realized then that Albus was telling the truth, considering Luke looked quite confused before he asked Lauren, “What did you tell him not to tell me?”
When Lauren looked at him, she looked quite alarmed. I guess it occurred to her that Al hadn’t told Luke whatever it was – I assumed it was that she fancied Luke – and that she had realized that she had now trapped herself.
“It’s nothing,” she said unconvincingly.
Luke pressed on, however, “If it’s nothing then why did it look like you were about to murder Al when you thought he told me?”
Lauren dared to glance at me for help, although I had no idea of what to say or do, before she looked back to Luke, “It’s nothing, like I said.”
“You should just tell her,” I said, looking at Luke pointedly. I was trying to tell him what I meant with my eyes, and I was sure he understood when he looked at me like I was crazy.
While Luke was occupied with his shock and frustration toward me, Lauren looked at me in confusion, “Tell me what?”
Oh... Oh shit.
“Nice going, Rose,” Al had the nerve to say.
“Fuck you, Al,” I said, glaring at him before looking back at Lauren, who had turned her attention back to Luke while Al and I had our brief spat.
“Tell me what?” She asked him. I found myself feeling sorry for Luke because he was now backing himself up into a corner. “Somebody tell me,” she continued, her eyes going from Luke, to Al, to myself, and then back to Luke.
“I’m not telling you until you tell me what you’re keeping from me,” Luke said, starting to look less afraid.
“No,” Lauren said, sounding upset, “Obviously you’ve been keeping something from me for some time now. So spill it.”
“Luke,” I said calmly, hoping that they would calm down as well, “Just tell her.”
He barely glanced at me before putting his eyes back on Lauren, “No.”
Then Lauren took a moment before stepping forward and striking Luke across the face, turning on her heel to leave us once she did. Luke, however, waited until she was out of sight to turn on Al, a hand over his face where Lauren had hit him. “What is she not telling me?”
Al looked at me for help, and I just stared back at him sympathetically. I had no idea of what to do either. Luke looked to me after Al did and asked, “Do you know, too?”
I saw Al shaking his head at me, but I ignored him and nodded, “I do.”
“Rose,” he said, his voice restricted, “What’s going on?”
When I didn’t answer for a few moments, Al carefully answered for me, “Lauren fancies you, that’s what’s going on.”
“Al,” I growled through gritted teeth.
“What? He was going to find out one way or another!”
“You’re an idiot,” I said, my eyes going back to Luke to see that the color had left his face.
He was looking at me when he asked, “Did she tell you this time?”
I looked at him for a long time, before I finally admitted it, “She did.”
Luke suddenly looked paler, if it were possible, and his eyes widened before he started to run in the direction that Lauren had walked off in several moments ago. I considered following him before realizing that it was really none of my business. Al seemed to have come to the same conclusion, considering he was still standing in the corridor with me after Luke left.
“So,” he said, looking curious, “Lauren told you she fancies him?”
“She said that she thought she might.”
“Oh,” Al frowned, “That’s encouraging...”
Considering Lauren had a considerable head-start, I wasn’t too hopeful that I would be able to find her or even reach her if I was right in assuming she had retreated to her common room. I had a slight idea of the location of the Hufflepuff common room, but considering Lauren had never given me anything other than very vague clues it wasn’t the best guess in the world. However, I assumed that there would probably be an increase in students from her house in the corridors around it. So when I started passing more and more of them I figured that I must be getting close, but the truth was that I wasn’t looking for the common room. I was truly looking for Lauren.
When I spotted Jessica Corner, who was walking with another Hufflepuff girl, I called out to her, “Jessica!”
She and her friend turned around, looking surprised to see me coming up to them. Her friend seemed to be smirking, whereas Jessica just looked confused, “Erm, its Jess or Jessie. Not Jessica.”
I ignored what she said and quickly asked, “Have you seen Lauren?”
Her friend piped up then, “Lauren Whitby? We just saw her enter the common room – she looked upset though, so don’t count on her coming out again anytime soon.”
“Oh,” I felt my heart sinking, “Okay, thanks.” Then I turned on my heel and slowly started to walk to the staircases.
The walk up to the common room and to the dorm took longer than usual in reality, but by the time I found myself actually in my dorm it came as a surprise to me that I was already there. I probably would’ve been pleasantly surprised to learn that Lauren returned my feelings for her, had I actually heard it from her and not from Rose and Al after she had just slapped me for not telling her that I fancied her. It wasn’t as if she knew how I felt, but rather it was the fact that I had refused to tell her something that I had been keeping from her for some time that pissed her off.
You know how they say that Hufflepuff’s are loyal? Well, that’s because Helga Hufflepuff valued loyalty and honesty. As mental as Lauren can be sometimes, she truly is a loyal friend, which is something that I have always liked about her. However, she also expects loyalty in return, meaning that she puts a lot of value in honesty. When someone lies to her, for instance, it can set her off worse than almost anything else... And when someone keeps something from her, especially someone she is close to, it tends to be pretty bad. This is why I usually don’t keep much from her because as much as it infuriates me when she doesn’t tell me something, it infuriates her even more when I don’t tell her something.
Despite all of this, I wasn’t too worried about her being angry with me for not telling her. What kept me up half the night was the fact that I knew I would have to tell her how I felt. It wasn’t so much that I was afraid to do it as it was that I was determined to do it. It was the fact that I was afraid that telling her may prove difficult depending on how upset she was.
When the sun finally came up, I woke from what was probably four of five hours of sleep at most and tried not to fall asleep through breakfast and our first few classes. Whenever it was time for Defense Against the Dark Arts, which we had with the Hufflepuffs, I attempted to get Lauren’s attention instead of actually paying attention to anything the professor had to say.
The first time, I wadded up a small ball of parchment and threw it at the back of her head. It bounced off her ponytail, making her hair swing back and forth for a split-second before she looked over her shoulder, located me, gave me an irritated look, and then turned her head back around. When I threw a second piece of parchment, she just ignored me, though I could see the knuckles on her right hand turn white for a moment as she gripped her quill. After I threw the third piece, however, she looked back around at me and mouthed ‘Quit it!’ before turning her head back around again.
I realized I was going to have to try something else, and quickly scribbled a note in which I told her I needed to talk to her after class. After carefully folding it into a small paper airplane, I silently levitated it across the room to her, dropping it a couple times so that the professor wouldn’t see it when he turned around; it was incredibly convenient that he was lecturing to the board behind him that day. When it flew over her shoulder and landed on top of her notes, she quickly grabbed it and stuffed it under her desk and out of sight. She glanced back at me over her shoulder, looking confused, before turning her head around once again and carefully unfolding the parchment in her lap.
I wasn’t sure if she was actually going to meet me after class or not, considering that after she folded it back up she didn’t look over her shoulder at me again. So when we were dismissed, I quickly made my way out the door and waited outside of it. I wasn’t going to allow her to avoid me.
When she stepped through the doorway and looked up to see me standing against the wall she rolled her eyes, “What do you want?”
“Well,” I looked around to see a doorway to an empty classroom, “If you follow me in there I’ll tell you.”
She looked past me at the door before looking back to me and shaking her head, “You know I really don’t have time for this right now.”
Before she could fully turn around I reached out and grabbed her arm just below the elbow. I thought that maybe she would try to wrench it free or hit me, but instead she just turned back around and looked at me, “What?”
“I know you’re still mad about what happened yesterday,” I said, feeling my pulse start to quicken, “But I’ll tell you what I wouldn’t tell you if you just follow me in there.”
When I finished speaking I released her arm, and she said, “Okay.”
Then we crossed over to the door and I held it open for her, she raised her brows at the gesture but nonetheless stepped inside and sat down on top of one of the desks on the far end of the room. I was careful to shut the door before crossing the room and taking a seat across from her. As I sat down, I started to really feel my nerves kick in, and I almost had to force myself to make eye contact with her.
“Before you tell me,” she said the moment I sat down, “I just want to know why you wouldn’t tell me.”
“Okay...” I looked at her for a moment before averting my gaze to the floor, “I wouldn’t tell you because I was afraid that if I did that you and I might possibly...”
Lauren tilted her head to the side curiously, “You and I might possibly what?”
“Well, I was afraid that it would change our friendship,” I answered, looking back up at her.
She seemed to look concerned, “Well that puts me in an awkward place.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well,” she straightened her head again and adjusted her shirt, looking a little uncomfortable as she did, “I mean that now I’m not sure if I want you to tell me.”
I looked at her for a long moment before deciding to offer her my hand. Unlike that day when we were lying on the floor, it was much more obvious that I was offering my hand to her. She seemed to stare at it for a long time, and I was beginning to think that she was going to tell me to drop it when she finally reached out and put her hand in mine. Because I was sitting in front of her, my hand was at a slightly awkward angle, but I wasn’t going to complain about it.
“So Al told you then, didn’t he?”
“What?” I asked, looking up from our hands to her eyes.
“Al told you what I wouldn’t, didn’t he?”
I looked at her until she looked back up at me, and then I nodded. It took her a moment, but she slowly pulled her hand away from mine, frowning. “What’s wrong?” I asked her, noticing how my hand felt quite empty without hers in its grasp.
“Just tell me,” She said, her face seeming to turn stony, “And please don’t hold my hand if you don’t want to – you don’t have to.”
“Oh just get to it, already,” she interrupted, pulling her knees up close to her face.
As determined as I was to get the words out, I found that I didn’t want to tell her while she was withdrawing from me. So I pushed myself off the desk and then took a seat beside her before offering my hand to her again, “The reason why I offered you my hand in the past was because I wanted to hold your hand, and it’s the reason why I’m offering you my hand now.”
She looked at me out of the corner of her eye before she lifted her head up off her knees and turned it towards me. Then she took my hand again carefully, and I squeezed her hand reassuringly.
“Why are you – “ She started to ask, but she stopped herself.
“Lauren,” I said, determined to do a much better job of admitting my feelings to her than I had to Sarah so long ago, “What I refused to tell you yesterday is that I...” I trailed off to see her staring at me and became distracted by her eyes.
It took some effort to swallow before I managed to say, “I fancy you, Lauren.”
Her eyes widened in surprise, and she then pulled her hand out of mine and rose to her feet. Instead of fleeing the room, like I was afraid she was going to do, she just stood a little over an arms’ length away from me. After a long moment, she turned around and looked at me with an expression that I couldn’t read.
“You fancy me?” She slowly said each word in a slightly higher pitch than the one before it, as if she were saying the words in that order for the first time in her life, “But how? I don’t understand.”
I frowned. I wasn’t expecting her to react that way so I wasn’t entirely prepared for it, “I didn’t understand at first, either.”
She just looked at me and I found that I couldn’t read her expression again. But then she seemed to smile at me somewhat for a moment. It wasn’t until the smile faded that she spoke, “I need some time to think.”
“Oh,” I said, feeling my heart drop to my stomach and looking from her to the ground again, “I see.”
Nearly a minute passed before I noticed that Lauren had stepped forward so that she was standing in front of me. I looked up at her and rose to my feet, putting myself very close to her when I did. Once I was standing I had to look down in order to hold her gaze. Another minute passed before she put her hands on my shoulders and stood up on tiptoe so that her face was just in front of mine. She was so close that if she came any closer she would be kissing me, although this didn’t register with me until I noticed that I could smell her breath, which smelled vaguely like spearmint gum. Enticed by the smell, I then put one of my hands over the small of her back and the other on the back of her neck and pulled her into a drawn-out kiss.
I didn’t know how much time had passed when Lauren pushed herself away from me, but I realized that not enough time had passed for me – I wasn’t ready to let her go yet. Although, as much as I wanted to, I wasn’t going to force her to snog me again, in fact I didn’t plan on ever forcing her to do anything.
“I’m sorry,” she said breathlessly, frowning, “I probably shouldn’t have done that.”
I shook my head at her, “Don’t be sorry; it was my fault too.”
Her frown was still on her face as she said, “It’s just that I’m still unsure.”
Raising a brow, I asked, “Unsure about me?”
She seemed to nod, “I should probably go... I’ll talk to you later?”
Nodding, I replied, “Yeah.”
Then she crossed over to the door and opened it, but just before stepping through the doorway she stopped and turned around to look at me, “Luke?”
I noticed a blush come across her cheeks, “You are a very good kisser.”
I didn’t say anything in reply because I was too surprised to think of what to say, so it wasn’t until after she left that I realized what I should have said, “So are you.”
A/N: wow... I really like it haha. But it’s not over yet, obviously. Though it will be quite soon. I’m not going to drag this fic out any longer than it needs to be. I’m starting to become very sad now that it’s all coming together because it will be over soon. This is probably the most fun I’ve had ever writing anything, ever. Thank you all for being so supportive and please continue to R&R. Love you all :)
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