Chapter Image by Cast!el @ TDA

The soft morning light filtered through the gap in the curtains and danced across the ceiling, making oddly shaped patterns in the moulding.  I’d been awake since daybreak, and had spent the better part of an hour staring at the ceiling, listening to Alice’s rhythmic breathing and thinking about the upcoming New Year’s Eve party.

On the one hand I was excited about seeing Albus again; how could I not be?  After all, the boy made me giddy when I saw him every day, a week-long absence was enough to drive me insane!  But at the same time, I was nervous about seeing him again.  When he was always around, right there in classes and the library and common room, I learnt to stay calmer around him, to control myself somewhat.  But suddenly it was like I couldn’t remember how to be around him without acting like a moron.  What if I completely embarrassed myself in front of him and his family?

Speaking of Albus’s family, I began to wonder how Alice was going to cope when we went off to the Potter’s house the next evening.  After she had read Mum’s letter about the party, she’d simply folded the note, brushed her teeth and gone to bed, without so much as a word.  I figured she needed time to prepare herself and she’d say something when she was ready.  Unable to stave off my boredom any longer, I quietly climbed out of bed and slipped out in to the kitchen.  Humming to myself, I made a cup of tea and perched on one of the small kitchen chairs, watching the early morning activities in the street below.  There wasn’t a lot happening, just the early morning paper boy dropping off copies of The Daily Prophet on the doorsteps of various shops and a few vendors putting out signs or cleaning windows before the rush of shoppers arrived.  It was all very peaceful and I understood in that moment, just why Alice liked the peace of living away from home.

“I’ve got an idea,” I jumped in surprise at Alice’s voice and I looked up at the door to see my sister, wrapped in a fluffy blue dressing gown and looking more alert than I had expected.

“Oh?” I replied as she padded over to the kettle to pour herself some tea.  “What sort of idea?”

“Well it’s your last day here with me since we have to go back to Mum and Dad’s tomorrow before the, um, party,” She stopped for a moment to take a sip of her coffee but I imagined it was also an opportunity to compose herself.  “And I’ve got today off so I thought we could go shopping, you know get some new clothes or something.”

“Shopping sounds nice,” I replied, my heart sinking a bit.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like shopping, but I’d spent the last few days going in and out of every shop in Diagon Alley and to be perfectly honest I was a bit over Madam Malkin’s latest offerings.  I preferred to wear Muggle clothes as much as possible anyway.

“Well I was wondering,” Alice continued, seemingly oblivious to my disappointment.  “How would you feel about a trip in to muggle London?” 

“Muggle London?” I felt my chin just about hit the table top as Alice’s eyes lit up with excitement.  “Really?  We could really go there?” Except for the regular trips to Kings Cross station and Platform 9¾, I’d only been to Muggle London three times in my entire life and each time it was with Mum or Dad (or both) and they hadn’t let me stop to look at anything.  Of course I’d been in to the muggle village near our house countless times in my life so it wasn’t like I’d never seen muggles or experienced muggle society (seriously, except for the magic and the clothes they’re really not that different to us), but going in to a big muggle city without my parents and shopping Muggle stores…well it was almost too good to be true.

“I think we’ll be alright, I go there quite a bit these days…but maybe don’t mention it to Mum or Dad,” Alice laughed.  I mimed zipping my lips shut and locking them with a key before grinning widely at Alice.  It didn’t take us long to shower, eat some breakfast and stop  at Gringotts to change some money to muggle pounds before heading down Diagon Alley towards The Leaky Cauldron.  There were a few witches and wizards sitting about in the bar, chatting or reading the morning paper with drinks in hand, but none of them paid any attention to the two young girls in muggle clothes making their way towards the door in the far corner.  “Ready?” Alice asked with a smile, her hand on the doorknob.  I nodded excitedly, my stomach a bundle of nerves and anticipation, before Alice pulled the door open and led me out into the busy street. 

If I thought I’d been invisible at Hogwarts, it was nothing to how I felt, standing in the middle of the footpath in the middle of Muggle London.  Everywhere I looked there were people – old people, young people, wealthy people in fancy looking clothes; sophisticated people in suits and tailored jackets; alternative people with ripped jeans and silver earrings hanging from their nose or eyebrow; harried looking parents with shouting children in tow and every other type of person I could possibly imagine.  Everyone seemed determined to be getting somewhere and paid no attention to me as I stood, gawking in front of the door to the pub.  The noise of the traffic was slightly overwhelming, and I found myself mesmerised as I watched the cars, busses and motorcycles roaring past.

“Lucy?  Lucy, come on, this way.”  Alice took my arm and pulled me down the street.

“Sorry Alice, it’s just so…so…” I couldn’t quite find the word I wanted to describe the atmosphere.

“So…muggle?” She offered with a smile and I nodded in confirmation.

“It’s very muggle-ish,” I giggled as we turned down another, slightly less busy street.

“This is usually where I go shopping,” Alice explained, indicating to a range of clothing shops that lined the street.  Through the windows I could see the biggest variety of muggle clothes I had ever set eyes on, in a range of colours and styles.

Once I got the hang of muggle money (thanks mostly to Alice’s help) I managed to buy some new clothes, including new jeans and a dress that I decided to save for something special.  After shopping, Alice took me to a burger restaurant that was decorated with posters of old muggle movie stars.  It was funny to look around at the photographs that didn’t move, their faces frozen in wide smiles or sultry stares.  I heard a sigh and glanced across the table to where Alice sat, her chin resting on one hand as she stared at an old movie poster; a man and a woman were looking in to each other eyes with deep longing under the word ‘Casablanca’. 

“Alice?” I prompted gently. 

“Hmm?” She asked, blinking rapidly and turning to look at me, traces of the slightly dazed expression still on her face.

“Are you ok?” I asked.

“Sure, why wouldn’t I be?” replied, her voice unnaturally high. 

“Well I just thought you might be a bit worried, you know about the Potter’s party and seeing James and all.” I said.  Alice’s shoulders fell a little and she stared down at the red plastic table top.

“I guess I’m just a bit nervous,” She mumbled.  “What am I supposed to say to him?  What if he takes one look at me and changes his mind?  This is hard Luce, boys are really complicated.”

Preaching to the converted sister!

“I know what you mean,” I replied with a wry smile.  “But they can be a lot of fun, just think how boring our upbringing would have been without Phil and Simon!  Well at least without Phil.” Alice laughed in response as she took a final sip of her drink.

“Well it certainly would have been quieter!




Late afternoon the next day, I once more packed my suitcase (I was starting to become an expert!) and dragged it out in to Alice’s sitting room.  I was dressed in my new jeans and a sparkly top for the New Year’s Eve party.  I walked over to the mirror above the mantelpiece and smoothed out my hair; I’d put on some lip gloss and perfume, but I didn’t want to look like I was trying too hard.  The mere idea of seeing Albus again had the butterflies dancing around in my stomach again and I took a deep breath in an attempt to calm myself.

“All ready?” Alice asked, coming in through the bathroom door; wearing a black miniskirt over tights and a blue knitted top.  The combination of her outfit and the way she’d brushed her hair out accentuated her prettiness in a way that I was certain James would not be able to resist.

“All set,” I smiled at her.  “Thanks for having me Alice, I really enjoyed it.”

“Thanks for coming, I’m sorry I had to work for some of the time.  I hope you weren’t too bored.” She replied as I picked up my suitcase.

“Not at all, it was great!”  I flashed my sister another smile before taking her hand so we could apparate home.  We arrived in the kitchen, where Mum was pacing in front of the sink, fully dressed and ready for the Potter’s party. 

“Lucy!  Alice!  You’re here!” She exclaimed, hurrying over to wrap us both up in the same hug. 

“Right on time Mum,” I choked out as I tried to loosen her arm that was pressing on my throat.

“Four minutes early actually,” Alice clarified as we managed to disentangle ourselves from Mum’s embrace. 

“Yes, well I just missed my girls,” Mum replied.  “And I don’t want us to be late for the Potter’s party.”

“You mean the party that doesn’t start for another hour?” I asked, though Mum was saved by the popping sound of Simon apparating just behind us.

Dad and Phil weren’t far behind and before long, mum had us lined up at the fireplace, the silver box of Floo powder in her hand. 

“Now the party isn’t at the Potter’s house, we’re going to Mrs. Potter’s parent’s house, it’s called the Burrow.” She explained, holding the box out to Dad who threw the power in to the fire and stepped in after it.

“The Burrow,” He said in a loud and clear voice before disappearing into the glittering flames.  Simon went next, followed by Phil and then it was my turn.  I took a handful of Floo Powder from the box and followed the actions of my father and brothers.  I tucked my arms in and kept my mouth shut so I wouldn’t breathe in any ash as I spun rapidly in the green flames.  It was only a few seconds before I began slowing down and soon enough, the Burrow’s fireplace came into focus around me.  Just as I’d been taught as a child, I waited until I’d completely stopped spinning before making any attempt to step on to the hearth.  As I ducked down to climb under the mantelpiece, a hand was extended to help me.  I took it gratefully, assuming it was Dad or one of the boys.  As I poked my head in to the warm and welcoming sitting room, my eyes followed the arm I was holding on to up into an all too familiar pair of emerald green eyes.  Albus grinned at me, looking even more gorgeous than I remembered.  Sweet Merlin, is it possible he’s managed to become even more good-looking?

The second my eyes focussed on Albus’s face, my brain filled with that all too familiar fog and any chance I had of appearing graceful went out the window.  As I lifted my second foot out of the fireplace, it caught on the low grate, causing me to stumble forwards in to the room.  Thankfully, Albus used his lightning-quick seeker reflexes and caught me with his free arm.

“Whoah there Bell!” He laughed as his hand gripped my shoulder firmly yet gently.  “I see you haven’t reconciled that argument you seem to be having with gravity.”

“Yeah, well gravity started it,” I mumbled as I straightened up, feeling my cheeks burning.

“Lucy!” The distinctive squeal of Rose Weasley reached my ears, and I felt Albus drop his hands from my arms.  Rose leapt over a small orange pouffe and threw her arms around me.  “How are you?  How was your Christmas?”  She gibbered excitedly.  “Did you have fun at your sister’s place?  You have to tell me everything ok?”

“Rose, give the poor girl a second to breathe!” A voice that everyone in the wizarding world knew entered the conversation.  Rose and I looked up into the beaming face of Harry Potter, who had just been greeting Mum (she had arrived while I was talking to Albus and Rose).  I had met Harry Potter many times – he and mum were old schoolfellows and this wasn’t the first Potter event our family had been to – so his face wasn’t unfamiliar to me, but I was struck with just how familiar his sparkling green eyes were; they were exactly the same as his youngest son’s.  “Good evening Lucy,” He added, and I noticed that his eyes crinkled the same way Albus’s did when he smiled.

“Good evening Mr. Potter,” I replied nervously, wondering if he’d noticed me staring at his eyes. 

“Well, welcome to the Bell family,” He grinned around the sitting room at all of us.  “Please head on outside and make yourself at home, my very talented sister-in-law has modified the temperature on the property so you shouldn’t even need a cloak.”  Rose grinned and linked arms with me as we left the room. 

“Mum’s into climate-modification charms at the moment,” She explained as we made our way through a kitchen that was bustling with several busy witches, all of whom seemed to be taking orders from an elderly woman with distinctive red hair (though there were a few flecks of grey). 

“Rose dear, if you see your Auntie Fleur out there, could you ask her to come and help with these wine glasses please?” She said as we passed.

“Sure thing Grandma,” Rose replied.  She led me out in to a vast yard, decorated with about two hundred brightly lit lanterns that hovered about eight feet off the ground; I noticed that the temperature didn’t change as we stepped outside, despite the fact I could see snow banks in the nearby fields. 

“Lucy Bell you gorgeous thing, when did you get here?” Fred Weasley, a cheeky grin on his face, swaggered over with Louis in tow.

“Um…just now,” I replied with a nervous giggle.  Fred didn’t usually pay this much attention to me, but I supposed it was New Years Eve after all. 

“Well may I say you look particularly stunning this evening?” He gushed in an odd voice.

“Freddy, stop being such a git,” Roxanne Weasley, Fred’s sister appeared at her brother’s side with Lily Potter. 

“Fred’s being a git?  Wow, there’s something new!” Albus said, sidling up behind his sister with grin.

“Oi!  All I’m trying to do is be friendly and complementary to our friend Lucy here, and you lot are giving me hell for it!”  Fred held up his hands in mock surrender.

“A little too friendly if you ask me,” Rose snorted. 

“Yeah, it was kinda creepy Fred,” Louis added with a devilish smirk.  Fred looked at his blond-haired cousin and usual ally with a look of shocked betrayal, causing the rest of us to laugh.

“Oh, there’s Autie Fleur,” Rose said suddenly.  “I’ll be back in a second.”

“What’s she want with Mum?” Louis asked as Rose hurried across the yard to a stunningly beautiful blonde witch.

“Something about wine glasses for your grandma,” I replied.

“Fair enough,” Louis shrugged.  “Hey, who wants to go toss some Gnomes?  Grandpa said they’ve been getting in to the side garden again.”

“I’m keen,” Fred agreed, Louis’s betrayal apparently forgotten.

“Gnomes?  As in garden gnomes?” I asked, the interest evident in my voice.

“Yep, Grandma and Grandpa have a whole colony of them living in the garden,” Albus explained, flashing me one of his knee-knocking grins.  “Gnome tossing is a Weasley tradition.”

“Gnome tossing?” Rose groaned as she re-joined us.  “Oh come on, we’re in nice party clothes, we don’t want to go Gnome-tossing!”  I glanced down at my new jeans and sparkly shoes; I supposed Rose was right, but I’d never really had much of a chance to see Gnomes close up since we didn’t get them in our garden.

“I’m willing to risk it,” I eventually said with a shrug.

“That’s the spirit!” Fred cheered as he turned to lead us towards the side garden. 

“You’re a hopeless case Lucy Bell,” Rose mumbled under her breath as she followed with the rest of us; Albus just gave me a sideways grin.

“Lucy…Lucy!”  Alice ran up to me, a slightly panicked look in her eyes.  “I need your help,” She whispered frantically; Albus and Rose looked at us curiously.

“You guys go ahead, I’ll be there in a second,” I said calmly.  “What’s wrong?” I whispered once they had left.

“It’s James, he keeps smiling at me and talking to me and I don’t know what to do.  I’m so nervous Luce, I feel like I’m going to throw up!” She wrung her hands desperately.

“Well ok, first of all don’t do that.” I said.  “And secondly, just talk to him Alice!  He’s a normal person and that’s how you get to know people.  I know you’re nervous but just try to get past that.”  Great advice there Lucy, just like the way you’ve managed to ‘get past’ your nervousness with Albus!  I smiled in what I hoped was an encouraging way.  “Where is he now?” I asked, looking around for the dark haired boy.

“He’s getting some drinks for us,” She answered, glancing over her shoulder to a table by the hour where James was pouring butterbeer into two tall glasses.

“Look, just smile, talk and be yourself; it’ll be alright.” I said.

“But what do I talk about?  My brain’s gone completely blank!” She looked back at me frantically.

“Calm down!” I laughed, finding humour in the way my usually reserved sister was acting like a giddy teenager.  “Just start by talking about N.E.W.T’s.  Ask him which subjects he’s taking, what his plans are after exams, that sort of thing,” I suggested.  “And ask him questions about himself, people love to talk about themselves.”

“N.E.W.T’s, questions, just keep talking,” Alice repeated to herself.  “Ok, I can do that.  Thanks Luce,” She looked back over at James who was now glancing around the garden, no doubt looking for Alice.

“No problems, now go get him!” I laughed, giving her a slight nudge.  Alice walked slowly towards James who greeted her with an extremely broad smile.  Grinning to myself, I headed around the side of the house where I found the younger Weasley and Potter kids spinning Gnomes in the air and tossing them over the stone fence into the neighbouring meadow. 

“Everything alright?” Albus asked as I joined him where he and Rose were perched on a large tree stump. 

“All good, just sister stuff,” I smiled back.  “So how exactly do we do this?” I said, nodding towards Hugo Weasley, who was unceremoniously dumping a greyish looking lump over the garden wall.

“Don’t ask me, I’m strictly observing tonight,” Rose replied, smoothing down her purple skirt.  “Al will show you,” She added.

“Well you just find a hole, reach in and grab one,” Albus smiled at me.  “Here, I’ll show you.”  He led me to a small shrub where a hole was partially concealed by the leaves.  “You have to be really firm with them or they’ll try to get away,” He explained, crouching down and rolling up his sleeve.  He stuck his arm inside the hole and quickly retracted it, holding a squirming gnome in his hand.

“Wow, that’s amazing!” I gasped, unable to hide my excitement.  The gnome stopped squirming for a brief moment, seemingly confused by my enthusiastic tone of voice. 

“Pretty ugly aren’t they?” Albus laughed.

“well they’re…different looking, that’s for sure,” I laughed.

“You are far too kind, Bell,” Albus chuckled as he began swinging the gnome in circles over his head.  “You have to give them a good swing to disorient them,” He explained.  “Then you just toss them over the fence.”  I stifled a short gasp with my hand as he let go and the gnome went soaring across the fence into the meadow.  In the dim light, I saw the gnome get up and stumble tipsily away from the house.  “Want to have a go?” Albus smiled at me.

“Sure,” I replied, crouching down by the hole.

“Make sure you get a good firm grip; any sign of weakness and it’ll try to bit you and run away,” Albus warned.

“Right,” I nodded.  Taking a deep breath, I plunged my hand in to the hole.  A few inches in, I felt the rubbery skin of a gnome head.  I gripped it tightly and pulled sharply, pulling the squirming creature out of its burrow.

“Great!  Now spin it,” Albus instructed.  I spun the gnome above my head, making sure I held on tightly as I did so.  After about six spin, I aimed in the direction of the field and let go.  The gnome soared through the air and landed with a thud about twenty feet away.  “Well done you!” Albus laughed.  “That was excellent, you’re a complete natural at this!”

“Thanks,” I blushed, keeping my eyes on the gnome, which was now stumbling diagonally across the meadow.  We tossed a few more gnomes, but I was sensing that Rose was getting bored, so I left Albus and his cousins to de-gnoming the side garden and joined my friend once more.

“Want to get a drink?” I asked.

“Yes,” Rose grinned at me.  “Come on, I’ll tell you all about the Christmas card that Scorpius sent me!”

The night continued in a blur of good-natured frivolity, as only a Potter-Party can.  Before too long, midnight rolled around and everyone gathered around the large radio that Harry Potter had brought out so that we could join in the countdown.  I’d lost Rose somewhere in the crowd, but I wasn’t too worried. She was probably off wishing her mum a Happy New Year or something.

“Ten…Nine…” Everyone began chanting, excitement on their faces.

“Eight…Seven…” I noticed James across the garden, sidling up next to Alice as he joined in the counting.

“Six…” Alice looked up at him and blushed, then she smiled.  Aww they are too cute!

“Five…” A familiar voice met my ears and I looked away from my sister to see that Albus was next to me.  He smiled down at me and my heart began to thump wildly.

“Four…” My mouth felt suddenly dry and my palms sweaty.

“Three…” My pulse was racing and my knees felt weak, like my legs were about to give out on me.

“Two…” My lungs seemed to constrict and I couldn’t breathe anymore.

“One…” I felt dizzy, like I’d had one too many sips of Dad’s firewhisky or that time when I fell off my broom and the Healer at St. Mungo’s had given me a calming potion that made me just a little too calm.

“HAPPY NEW YEAR!” The crowd erupted into a joyful cheer, the air filled with laughter, party horns and the music of Auld Lang Syne crackling out of the radio.  All around us, people were hugging and kissing, participating in the New Year’s traditions.  I turned to Albus, who was standing dangerously close to me, and gave him a nervous smile.  With a matching grin, he wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me in to a close hug.  I let my arms slip around his neck as I took in his scent.  My heart was pounding in my ribcage and my brain was turning fuzzy as he squeezed me gently for what seemed to be forever.  I pulled back slightly when I felt his grip loosen, but my arms still rested on his shoulders; I looked up in to his eyes, which were a brighter shade of emerald than I had ever seen before.

“Happy New Year Lucy,” He whispered, his breath dancing across my face, teasing me.

“Happy New Year,” I replied.  I wondered vaguely if I was about to faint.  He was so close to me and he felt so good, I could die at this moment and be completely happy, I thought to myself.  Albus just sort of stared at me, his arms still locked around my waist.  I wondered if I should speak again, when something out of the corner of my eye caught my attention.  Unable to stop myself, I turned my head to confirm what I was seeing.  Standing about ten feet away, her arms wrapped tightly around James Potter’s neck and one hand in his hair, was Alice; and she was snogging the daylights out of the boy!  James looked positively delighted, he had one arm clamped firmly around her waist and the other was stroking her face, brushing the hair away from her cheek.

“Holy Merlin’s Knickers!” I gasped, pressing my hands against my face in shock.  I felt Albus remove his hands from my waist, no doubt having realised that he’d been touching me for too long and didn’t want to lead me on.

“About bloody time,” I heard him mutter under his breath.  I couldn’t help it, I glanced up at him and smiled, which he returned.  I was about to add my own commentary, when the scene before us changed quite suddenly and dramatically.

Alice suddenly pulled back, her fingers untangling themselves from James’s dark hair as her arms fell to her sides.  She pulled her head back too, breaking the kiss and leaving James staring at her in stunned surprise.

“What’s wrong,” We saw James say to her, though the words couldn’t be made out over the noise of the party goers.  Alice stared at him for a moment longer and shook her head, muttering something unintelligible.  She stepped backwards, away from the arm that James still had around her waist, and shook her head again.  Her face turned towards us for a moment and I saw her eyes glistening as tears began to form.  James stepped towards her, a look of pleading on his face, but she turned and ran, heading towards the orchard on the outskirts of the garden.  Without stopping to explain to Albus, I took off after her, following the sounds of her frantic footsteps as they led us away from the party and into the moon lit grove.  

“Alice?” I called gently, searching the semi-darkness for my sister.  I heard a sob nearby on my left and turned sharply, making out her silhouette underneath an apple tree.  I stepped closer and held in a gasp of surprise.  Tears were streaming down Alice’s face as her shoulders shook with the strength it was obviously taking her to hold in any more sobs.  “Alice,” I repeated softly, wrapping a comforting arm around her shoulder.  “Do you want to go home?” I asked her, taking her hand in mine.  With a small nod, she turned on the spot and the orchard disappeared as we were treated to that lovely ‘squeezed-through-a-tube’ sensation.  Within a few seconds, Alice’s flat appeared around us and a few seconds after that, we both stood in the middle of her kitchen, the colourful fireworks exploding over Muggle London visible through the small window.  She looked up at me with sad eyes, and then, as I let her hand slip from mine, she let out a heart wrenching sob and collapsed on to the wooden floor as a flood of tears engulfed her.

Half an hour later, Alice had finally calmed down enough to explain what had happened to me.  She’d cried on the kitchen floor for a good ten minutes before I could convince her to move to the sofa.  Since she wasn’t about to move or do any magic, I dared using my wand to light a fire before I sent Pages off to the Potters with a short message to my parents.

Alice wasn’t feeling well so we’ve gone back to the flat.  We’ll see you at home in the morning.

Finally, I made two cups of tea, one of which I was currently passing to Alice, whose sobs had died down to soft hiccups.

“Thanks Lucy,” She said, sounding like she had a rather bad head cold.  “Sorry I went a bit…a bit…”

“Crazy?  Insane?  Completely mental and absolutely bonkers?” I offered.  Alice laughed weakly and nodded her head.

“What was it all about though Alice?” I asked gently.  “What did he do?”

Alice shook her head slowly.  “It wasn’t him, it was me,” She said, sounding like she might cry again.  I took her hand in mine and squeezed it gently to comfort her.  She smiled at me and took a deep breath.  “I don’t even know what happened,” She was talking slowly, as though she was trying to think through each word before she spoke it.  “James was so nice to me all night, he’s such a gentleman Luce,” She smiled sadly.  I smiled back encouragingly.  “And then, at midnight, he just sort of leaned in and…and…”

“Kissed you,” I finished her sentence.  “I saw.”

“It was amazing,” Alice seemed to be staring at something that wasn’t there, remembering the kiss with a faraway look in her eyes.  “I didn’t know kissing could feel like that.”  She shook her head, like a small animal trying to get water out of its ears.  “And then I just…panicked,” She turned her focus back to me, her expression despondent.  “I don’t even know why, it’s just like all of my fears and concerns and everything came flooding back and it all seemed so sudden and…and…Merlin Lucy, he’s still at school!  He’s younger than me and he’s in the middle of his N.E.W.T’s and he wants to be a Quidditch player!  How are we supposed to make this work?” The tears began to form in the corners of her eyes once more, she looked so sad, but I had a feeling there was something else she wasn’t telling me.

“But you still like him, don’t you?” I asked.  Alice squeezed her eyes shut as a tear rolled down her cheek.  She gave a slight nod.

“I like him a lot Luce,” She admitted, her eyes still closed.  “Too much.  That’s what scared me the most,” She opened her eyes and locked them on to mine.  “When I was kissing him, it was like nothing I’d ever experienced before.  It was so exciting, exhilarating, like I’d had too much firewhisky or something,” I gave a small smile, remembering the same experience from earlier that evening.  “But it felt like I was losing control Lucy, and that was so frightening.  How can one person make you feel like that?”

It was so strange; Alice was several years older than me, she’d been to one to explain things to me throughout my life, the one who got me through each crisis and the one I trusted with all my secrets.  She was my big sister but in this moment, Alice looked so small and confused and the roles seemed to have reversed themselves.  I reached out and wrapped my arms gently around Alice’s shoulders, she rested her head on my shoulder and sighed.

“It doesn’t matter anyway,” She said sombrely.  “After the way I acted tonight, he’ll never want to speak to me again.”

Alice finally fell asleep after some more talking and another cup of tea, but I couldn’t sleep.  I lay in the spare bed Alice had conjured up for me, in a pair of borrowed pyjamas and stared at the ceiling, considering what Alice had said.  That feeling of exhilaration and intoxication that she had spoken of, the very feeling that had coursed through my veins at midnight when Albus had hugged me; it was powerful and it had frightened Alice.  My sister was one of the smartest people I knew, and it occurred to me that maybe she’d been justified in her fears; after all that sort of emotion meant that Albus held the power, he made me feel more alive than I had ever felt and that led me to just one, simple yet terrifying conclusion. 

This wasn’t just a crush.

I was falling in love with Albus Severus Potter.

AN: So once again I've taken forever to update but I finally managed to get this chapter written.  I'm sorry I've been slow with replying to your reviews as well but I really do appreciate all your feedback.  I'm working on the next chapter and hopefully I'll get it up a little bit sooner than this one.  Here's a little sneak peek at what I've written so far:

“Rose!  Would you calm down, it’s just one pasty!”

“One?  Yeah, one pasty plus the three you just stuffed in your mouth when you thought I wasn’t watching!”  My attention was drawn to Rose and Fred, who were struggling over the pile of food between them. 

“Didn’t your mother ever teach you to share?” Fred asked.

“Didn’t your mum ever tell you not to steal from your cousins?  Spend your own money!”  Rose snapped back.  “Al! Help me!”

“Alright sunshine,” Albus said, pushing himself to his feet and grasping Fred’s arm.  “Let’s go find the food trolley and leave these poor girls in peace shall we?”

“I’m just so hungry Al,” Fred cried overdramatically, throwing himself on to Albus’s shoulder and letting out a stream of fake sobs.

“I know you are mate,” Albus laughed, patting him cousin on the shoulder as he led him out of the compartment. “You too blondie,” he called to Louis from the door.  Before he stepped out in to the corridor, he looked back over his shoulder and winked at me and then he was gone.  

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