Chapter 27 : Twenty.seven - The End
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Together, Lauren and I stepped out of the kitchens to see Professor McGonagall waiting in the corridor. I opened my mouth to explain as the portrait swung closed behind us, but she raised a hand to silence me and said, “Mr. Albine, the next time you and Miss Whitby wish to be alone please do not choose the kitchens and, for heaven’s sakes, do not fight Peeves to get there; I nearly had to stun him myself to get him to quit shouting.”
I grinned sheepishly and put my free hand to the back of my neck as she turned to walk away. Looking to Lauren, who had been standing beside me, I noticed her looking back at me curiously.
“You fought Peeves?” She asked, looking a bit amused.
I merely nodded in reply and said, “I’m surprised McGonagall didn’t give me more detentions,” as I pulled her along the corridor.
“She probably figures that you’ve already had plenty of those this year,” Lauren laughed, squeezing my hand gently when she did.
I merely glanced over my shoulder at her as I replied, “You don’t have to remind me.”
Then we agreed to go outside, not necessarily wanting to go and talk to anyone else just yet. It just seemed to make more sense that the two of us spend some time alone, even if it was just for a little bit. We managed to find a secluded spot down by the lake, under the shade of a tree. For a long while we just sat under the tree together, watching the Giant Squid surface every once in a while. We were silent for most of the time, every once in a while exchanging looks whenever we saw other students pushing one another into the water.
After maybe an hour, we finally saw Al approach the lake before starting to throw stones in the water. Delta was with him, and she tried to get him to quit throwing the stones. However, Al only stopped when the Giant Squid resurfaced once again and started toward him.
It was when Al ran backwards several paces before tripping and taking a spectacular fall that we drew their attention to us, our laughter carrying over to them. Delta laughed too when she heard us, but Al just looked over to our tree from the ground and called, “Hey!” before rising to his feet. We rose to our feet as they approached.
“So are you two friends or lovers now?” Al was quite nonchalant as he asked, looking between us curiously.
While I tried to remember how to form words, Lauren took my hand and answered, “Both,” smirking at me when I gave her a look.
“Huh,” Al was grinning, and then he smacked my arm in congratulations, “Well, good. This whole you-two-fighting-all-the-time thing was getting on my nerves.”
It was Delta who shook her head at him for a moment, “Come on, Al. They just want to be alone right now.”
Al raised a brow at her, but before he could say anything Lauren added, “So, unless you want to see me snog him, I suggest you leave.”
Then Al looked at Lauren for a moment and, as she started to turn me towards her, he grabbed Delta’s arm, saying, “Okay, let’s go Del!”
However, instead of snogging me again, Lauren asked me, “So do you want to go back up to the castle now?”
I grinned and replied, “Maybe in a few minutes.”
Later we ran into Rose and Scorpius outside of the Great Hall, just as dinner was about to start. While I was still not entirely okay with Scorpius, Lauren didn’t seem to mind. In fact, Lauren told me to at least try to be friendly as we approached them. Rose seemed to be beaming when she saw us, which made Lauren and I both a little embarrassed at first.
Before Rose could say anything, Scorpius turned to her and said, “I’ll see you after dinner,” before briskly walking past us and into the Great Hall.
I turned to Lauren once he was out of ear-shot, “And you told me to try to be friendly.”
“Oh shut up,” Lauren said, and I turned to see Rose frowning slightly.
“Er, sorry,” She apologized for him, though it didn’t necessarily make it okay for me, “So Al told me you two worked things out. Well, his exact words were ‘Luke and Lauren are snog buddies now.’”
While Lauren started to say something else I was distracted to see Sarah Nott walking toward the Great Hall with a few of her friends. She didn’t seem to notice us at first, but shortly after I looked up at her she looked in my direction. When she took in that Lauren and I were holding hands she stopped in mid-step, getting the attention of her friends.
For a few moments I couldn’t see her through them, but then when she turned and started to walk back the way they had come I couldn’t help but notice that she was trying to conceal her face with her hands. For about a split-second, I felt slightly bad for telling her I thought she was mental earlier, but then I realized that she had brought it upon herself.
“Luke!” I turned to see that Rose had left, and that Lauren was looking at me curiously, “Are you all right?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” I said quickly, turning to follow her into the Great Hall. As we entered, my eyes met Lorcan and Lysander’s just as Lauren released my hand to go sit at the Hufflepuff table. It occurred to me that they may have already known, because of Al, about Lauren and I as I walked down the length of the table to join them. I just hoped that Lysander wouldn’t be too upset with me.
“Well hey there,” Lorcan was grinning at me knowingly, seeming to be enjoying himself.
As I sat down I greeted him in turn, “Er, hey Lorcan,” then I nodded at Lysander so he would know I wasn’t going to ignore him.
Lysander nodded back at me, “So, when exactly were you planning on telling us you were with Lauren? Or did you think we wouldn’t notice?”
I looked at him, my hand forming into a fist under the table, “We’ve only been together for a few hours and it’s not like we’ve made any effort to hide it. So, actually, I assumed you would notice and I would just tell you then.”
“Whoa,” Lorcan said suddenly, “Chill out. First off, Lysander,” he looked pointedly at his brother, “why do you care? You don’t even fancy Lauren anymore, and Luke, “ then he turned to me, “Lysander’s not mad, he’s just trying to joke around.” Then he looked back at Lysander again, “And it isn’t working so you should quit it.”
Lysander and I just stared at Lorcan even for a few moments after he quit speaking, and then we looked at one another. “So you aren’t angry, then?”
“Well, no,” Lysander started, looking a little uncomfortable, “But just tell me something. Did you fancy her when I told you I was going to ask her out?”
“Are you asking me if I tried to 'take her away' from you?”
He looked at me for a while and I clenched my fist again, “Maybe I am, maybe I’m not.”
“Oh Merlin’s beard,” Lorcan muttered, before directly saying to Lysander, “Yes you are, it’s kind of obvious!”
I was basically glaring at Lysander as I answered, “No, I didn’t. Nor did I try to ‘steal’ her from you.”
He looked at me for several moments before replying, “All right, I believe you. And no, I’m not mad at you or Lauren.”
Lorcan seemed to look relieved and, when the food suddenly appeared, he looked positively giddy. I have to admit that I was quite glad that it had appeared, too. The three of us ate in silence, although it wasn’t a very tense silence. The truth was that I was relieved that Lysander wasn’t angry.
At one point I did manage to catch Al’s eye from the Gryffindor table, and when I silently confirmed with him that Lysander wasn’t going to kill me he broke into a huge grin before turning to Rose. Then I noticed Delta, who was sitting across from Al, look over her shoulder at me, and I wondered if Al was going to ever quit calling her ‘Del.’ Lastly, I looked over to the Hufflepuff table and located Lauren, who didn’t seem to notice me looking at her.
What was left of my sixth year went rather smoothly, at least compared to the rest of it. I am slightly ashamed to admit that I never learned how to apparate due to my fear of splinching, but I assumed I could learn next year if I decided I wanted to. It was rather nice that neither Lauren nor Rose found a new reason to start arguing with me again. I think I probably slept more in the last month of my sixth year than I ever had because it had been such an exhausting year full of fighting. Additionally, I was thankful that Lauren had quit physically hurting me now that she no longer viewed me as her ‘pal/punching bag.’
Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to convince her to quit calling me her cupcake. But, hey, I can still hope, right?