Chapter 12 : Twelve
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"It's your turn again."
Louis and I had been walking around the grounds for a while, and asking each other questions hadn't actually turned out to be that bad. Well, other than the fact that Louis had tried to embarrass me with all of his questions after the first one. But I had adamantly refused to answer anything about my love life, which meant he wasn't getting anything about other guys I'd dated before him.
I, on the other hand, had actually asked him normal questions. You know, like his favorite color and the first pet he ever had. That sort of thing. I bit my lip, thinking about what to ask next.
"Oh! I have a good one! If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?"
He answered right away, which surprised me a little bit. "I've always really wanted to see Venice."
"I guess you've thought about this before."
He nodded. "My dad works for Gringotts, and when I was a kid he and Mum took me and my sisters to a party for someone that he works with. There was a man there from Italy, and he started talking to me because he said I looked bored. He was really funny, and he impersonated some of the goblins that I had seen at the bank. I was only twelve, so I thought it was the most hilarious thing I'd ever heard. His accent was really strong, so I couldn't help but ask about it. He told me that he was Italian, and then told me all about Italy. Ever since then I've wanted to go."
"Wow." I thought about his story for a minute. "What are you sisters like? I mean, I know Victoire a little bit, because of Teddy, but since she and Dominique are a few years older, I've never really talked to them."
"You know that's two questions in a row, right?"
I rolled my eyes. "Just answer the question."
"My sisters are really different. Victoire knows what she wants, and is willing to work to get there. She and Teddy balance each other out really well, because he makes sure she remembers to breathe every once and a while. Vic always had her sights set on the future so she was always really mature."
"And she really fell for Teddy?" I asked. Teddy Lupin didn't exactly enjoy acting like an adult.
"I think everyone in the family saw it coming. They always hung around together as kids, so when they started dating we weren't exactly surprised."
"What about Dominique?"
"Dom's more of a free spirit. She's not as concerned with how things will end up, and thinks more about living in the moment. She's always telling Vic to stop and smell the roses." Louis, rolled his eyes and smiled a bit at the memory. "She's a really trusting and loyal person."
"They both sound great."
He nodded and studied me for a minute. I forced myself not to look down, even if I was starting to feel a little uncomfortable.
"What?" I asked.
"I think you and my sisters would get along."
"Oh," I said, surprised. "Um... Thanks, I guess."
And then my stomach growled. Really loudly. I might have been embarrassed if this wasn't Louis. And if this was an actual date. Which it wasn't. You know, just in case you forgot.
Louis gave me a small smirk. "Hungry? We can head back to the castle if you want."
We were both pretty quiet as we walked back. I had actually learned a thing or two about Louis, and surprisingly, I hadn't been miserable, annoyed, or angry even once the entire time. Then a prickle of something- fear? Nerves?- crept into my stomach, and I remembered what Lucy suggested about me liking Louis.
I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye and thought about it. It was true that he hadn't really made fun of me yet today, and I had just talked to him for at least half an hour without anything extremely bad happening... So maybe I could admit that I didn't hate him. But I didn't fancy him. If there was anything I was certain of in this mess of a relationship that, may I remind you, I was blackmailed into, it was that Louis and I were not romantically involved.
We reached the castle and went back inside, and I slipped out of Louis's jacket.
"You probably want this back," I said, handing it to him.
"Thanks," he said.
I nodded and looked into the Great Hall. Lucy was sitting with Bridget and Carrie, and I guessed that they had walked down from our dorm together.
"I guess I'll see you later," I said.
"Ok. I had fun today."
"It actually wasn't as bad as I was expecting."
He smiled. "Coming from you, I'm going to translate that to you loved it and had a great time."
I laughed and rolled my eyes. "Bye, Louis."
I walked over to the Hufflepuff table and plopped down next to Bridget, who was sitting across from Lucy and Carrie.
"Hi, Darcy!" Carrie said, smiling. "We were wondering if you'd be back in time for lunch."
I just smiled at her, because I had gotten a plate of food and my mouth was now full of a delicious bite of potatoes.
"How's Louis?" Lucy asked.
"He's fine. He was just telling me about Victoire and Dominique, since I don't know them all that well."
"I hope you don't mind me asking, but what made you change your mind about him?" Carrie asked gently. "You never got along with him before."
"Oh... I- I'm not sure," I said, wondering how to answer without giving away the truth. "I guess... He wasn't as annoying as I first thought."
Bridget laughed, "How romantic of you."
"It's not that funny, Bridge! We have had real conversations, you know."
"And from what I've heard you've also spent quite a bit of time shut up in broom cupboards," she said slyly.
"Nothing actually happened!" I cried. She shrugged her shoulders, an impish smile still on her face. "Wait a second... What do you mean from what you've heard? Have people been talking about us?"
"You and Louis are the Hogwarts corridors' most popular topic. It's really quite entertaining," Bridget teased.
I groaned. "I really didn't want this to happen."
"I'm sure people will drop it after a while. It'll be fine," Carrie consoled, reaching across the table to squeeze my hand. "Besides, we know what's really going on, so you have us to back you up if anyone asks about you."
I bit my lip and was quiet for a minute before looking at Lucy, who's eyes widened in understanding, before I looked to Carrie and then Bridget.
"Do you remember the little... run-in I had with Louis in the prefect's bathroom?"
"How could I forget?" Bridget said. Carrie shot her a look across the table. "Sorry. I meant, yes, I think I remember you mentioning something about it."
"Why are you bringing that back up now? I thought you said Louis had moved on," Carrie said.
"That's what I said, but it's not exactly true..." I said.
"What do you mean?"
I sighed. I was going to go back to the beginning and tell them everything.
That night, after explaining the situation to Bridget and Carrie, who were surprised but took it well considering that I basically dumped it all on them, we were sitting on Lucy's bed in our dormitory. They were both fascinated with everything that was going on, and I had to admit that it felt good getting everything off my chest. Lucy and Lysander were great, but since they were so close to everything that was going on, sometimes I didn't feel like I could explain things to them in the same way that I could with Bridget and Carrie.
"Darcy, why are you so worried about this getting out?" Bridget asked suddenly.
"Have you listened to anything I've said today? He caught me in a towel!"
"And eventually someone will get pregnant or caught snogging in an empty classroom in the middle of the night, and people would forget about you and Louis."
"My parents wouldn't."
"How would your parents find out?"
"I don't know, but they would!" I put my head in my hands, my thick, dark hair going everywhere. "I'd never be able to look my dad in the face again!"
I remembered back to when I was eleven, and was getting ready to go to Hogwarts for the first time. My dad had kneeled down in front of me to get in a last word before we said our goodbyes and I got on the train.
"You're going to have a fantastic time, sweetheart," Dad said, smiling.
"Daddy, Dean said that if you don't fit in any of the houses, they send you back. What if they send me back home?"
My father fought a smile that was threatening to break across his face. "They aren't going to send you home, Darcy. You're going to be just fine."
"Would I lie to you? You're my beautiful little girl, and when you get to school, Hogwarts won't know what hit them," he said, wrapping me in a warm hug.
I pulled back and then I asked him about the problem that had been worrying me more than anything else. "What if no one likes me?"
He shook his head, and looked me straight in the eyes when he said, "That could never, ever happen. You're smart and funny and beautiful, and I know that you're going to make some of the best friends you'll ever have." He smiled and winked at me, his tone teasing when he continued, "Just make sure you fight off all those boys who are going to try and get your attention."
"Daddy!" I squealed, giggling.
"What?" he asked, grinning. "I want to be the only man for my beautiful little girl. You won't replace me, right?"
"Right!" I said, giving him a big hug.
"Seamus! Hurry, or Darcy is going to miss the train!" my mother called.
"You're going to have an amazing time at Hogwarts. I love you, sweetheart."
"I love you, too, Daddy."
I looked up at my friends and shook my head.
"Promise me you won't tell anyone," I said quietly. "Can't have my parents find out. I just can't."