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Disclaimer:  This is a companion story for 'Animal Magnetism' and if you haven't read that story, some parts of this story might not make sense.  I strongly recommend you read 'Animal Magnetism' (can be accessed on my author page) before reading this.  Enjoy!
 



“Oi Mate!  Wake up over there!”  Will threw a pillow in my direction and it smacked me in the face, pulling me out of my thoughts.

“What?” I asked, realising I sounded a bit dazed.

“You’re off with the fairies, what’s got you concentrating so hard?” Louis was standing on his bed, re-attaching his Gryffindor flag to the wall. 

“How well do you guys know Bell?” I asked.

“Lucy?” It was Justin who spoke this time as he placed a folded set of robes on top of a large pile.  Ever the organised prefect he looked like he had enough clean school robes to last him a month!  “Well she’s a Gryffindor and she’s a bit animal mad, but really we’d know her as well as you.”

“Animal mad?” I was surprised that he’d said that, how had I not noticed this before?  Earlier that day in Care of Magical Creatures she’d been amazing with that unicorn, like she was some sort of expert or something.  “How do you know that?”

“Might have something to do with the ‘Save the Dragons’ badge she’s got pinned to her school bag,” Louis laughed as he jumped down from his bed.  “Or the fact that she’s the only Gryffindor girl in our year that actually takes Care of Magical Creatures.  But you’re in that class, how did you not notice?  Have your new muscles made you a completely unobservant prat?”

Louis has been teasing me since he got back from visiting his grandparents in France about a week before the end of the summer holidays.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t pleased about the fact that my body decided to play catch up during the holidays, after all who wants to be a scrawny, lanky git for the rest of their life?  Mum reckons I look just like Dad did at my age, though Auntie Hermione said she thought Dad didn’t get good-looking until 6th year; Uncle Ron didn’t really seem to appreciate that comment.

Anyway, it was kind of weird to be suddenly getting attention from people, like Rachel Jorkins in Ravenclaw who turned me down when I asked her to Hogsmeade last year.  I saw her in Diagon Alley at the end of August and she wouldn’t leave me alone, just kept following me into shops!  I don’t mind it really (what guy would?), but it does take some getting used to.

“I’m not unobservant!  I definitely observed you checking out Hawthorn’s legs in Transfiguration yesterday,” I joked back to my cousin and to my delight he turned a little pink.

“Was not,” He muttered under his breath as he stuck his head into his trunk to look for his Chudley Canons poster. 

“Why are you suddenly so curious about Lucy Bell?” Will returned the conversation back to its original topic as he retrieved his pillow from where it fell on the floor.

“I don’t know,” I replied thoughtfully.  “I just haven’t noticed her before and I wondered if she’d changed much.  She’s got a pretty good sense of humour and something else, I’m not sure what you’d call it though…spunk, maybe?”

“Spunk?” Will laughed, ditching the pillow back in my direction.  “Who the hell says ‘spunk’?”

“Oh shut up,” I caught the pillow this time and tossed it back easily. 

“Sounds like our little Alby has a crush,” Louis pulled his head out of the trunk, obviously deciding he was brave enough to join the conversation again.

“A crush?  On Bell?  Don’t be a prat,” I rolled my eyes at him and lay back on my bed.  “I make one comment about a girl and you guys are marrying us off like that!”  I propped myself up on my elbows to give them all a look of disdain, but I actually caught the three of them sharing a meaningful smile.  What the hell are they thinking?  Lucy Bell…not likely.

Thanks to my stupid dorm mates, I didn’t sleep a wink that night, I kept running Louis’s words over and over again in my head.  Could he be right, do I fancy Lucy?  Surely not, I mean I’d know if I liked her more than a friend, right?  Problem was, I wasn’t so sure.  I’d thought that maybe she’d just changed a little bit, become more outgoing with her personality or something, but the guys hadn’t noticed any changes in her, and if anything it seemed like I’d been ignoring her for the last four years.  A guilty feeling spread through me as I realised I had probably been doing that very thing, and it was actually kind of mean.  After all, I didn’t ignore the other girls in our year.  Rose was my best friend, even more than any of the guys so I talked to her all the time and that meant that by association I talked to Gwen a lot too.  Hawthorn was on the Quidditch team so I spent a fair bit of time with her and that automatically gave us fodder for conversation; and Molly was my cousin, even if she was a bit of a black sheep so she automatically got the family level of attention.  I searched my memories back through my previous years at Hogwarts, through lessons and meals, Hogsmeade visits and even family functions where the Bells had been present, but the interactions with Lucy were few.  How had I missed that, was I really that self-centred?

I smiled to myself as I remembered the conversation we’d had outside Hagrid’s hut that afternoon, the look of slight offence on her face as she told me about her friendship with the groundskeeper.  I really had been an insensitive git and she’d caught me out on it, no holds barred, no pretence, no giggling and flirting, just hands on hips and a look of defiance.  Seriously, how did I miss that?  But I still wasn’t sure about what Louis had insinuated, maybe I did think she was alright after all.  I at least owed it to her and to myself to get to know her properly, didn’t I?  It seemed like the right thing to do after four years of treating her like furniture.

The next morning, I kept my eyes open for Lucy in the common room, but I didn’t see her.  Fortunately, when I entered the Great Hall, she was sitting with the other Gryffindor girls and there were a few empty seats opposite them.  Justin seemed happy to join me as I weaved my way towards the table, no doubt happy to drool over Purnell while she ate her porridge. 

“Good morning Rose-bud,” I teased as I sat down, giving my favourite cousin a playful smile. 

“Morning,” She replied cheerfully.  “I’ve got double Arithmancy this morning, how about you?”

“Er…” I replied, digging my timetable out of my bag and forcing myself not to look at Lucy.  Being the first week of term, I still hadn’t quite memorised my classes.  “Double Divination,” I replied, trying not to openly wince.  In all honesty, I took Divination on a whim, mostly a whim designed to piss Rose off.  Back at the end of second year, when we were all trying to pick our new classes, I’d suggested taking Divination, to which Rose had given me a self-satisfied lecture about how Divination was a load of rubbish and true seers were really rare, and on and on she went.  I was so annoyed by it that I put the subject down just to irritate her.  Unfortunately, she was right (she usually is) and I got stuck in the stupid North tower twice a week with a crazy old woman who looks like an overgrown dragonfly!

“Oh is that this morning?” My head snapped up at the new voice to the conversation.  Lucy, who had obviously heard my exchange with Rose, was looking at my timetable like it was covered in bubotuber puss.  Of course, she’s in that class! I thought to myself happily, it would be an excellent opportunity to get to know her better away from the prying eyes of Rose, Will and Louis.  Justin was in my Divination class, but I knew he’d be the least likely to tease me if he actually caught on to what I was doing.

“I specifically remember telling you not to take that class but did you listen to me?  No, of course not and now you have to go and sit through another year of the tripe,” Rose scolded to no-one in particular.  Lucy caught my eye so I smiled at her and rolled my eyes; she smiled back before looking back down at her toast.  It was a rather sweet smile and it had made my stomach do a little flip.  To cover up this sudden occurrence, I popped a piece of sausage in to my mouth and looked back at Rose, who was still ranting about classes.

“You know I stopped listening to you about two minutes ago, don’t you?” I asked in a blasé sort of tone.  Rose stopped mid-sentence and made a sort of clucking noise before turning her back on me dramatically to speak to Gwen; unfortunately for her, Gwen was busy making eyes at Justin across the table, and was completely oblivious to Rose.  Lips pursed, Rose looked back at me and I couldn’t help but smile.  “Hi there,” I laughed, earning myself a kick under the table. 

In Divination, I managed to grab a seat at the table behind Lucy so that I could keep an eye on her throughout the lesson.  Fortunately, it was a fairly easy class, beginning with a twenty minute spiel from Trelawney about dream interpretation and whatever else she wanted to prattle on about, and concluding with about an hour of trying to remember dreams and interpreting them.  I kept the book she’d given us open on the table and a quill in my hand should she decide to come by, but for the most part I was eavesdropping on the girls in front of me.

“Don’t you think she looks like a bat?” Jane was saying as they both watched Trelawney flap around the room.

“Well, maybe a bat that had a few too many fire whiskeys and fell into a ballerina’s dressing table!” Lucy replied dryly.  I smiled as my own eyes were drawn to the professor.  She was draped in glittery robes and layers of beads hung around her neck.  The giant round glasses she wore looked even more ridiculous than my Dad’s and made her eyes look about four times their normal size.  “Come on, we’d better interpret these stupid dreams,” Lucy continued, flipping through their copy of The Dream Oracle.  “Alright, so you said you dreamt you were eating steak and kidney pie at the ballet with your grandmother?  Ok, well eating means loneliness…oh but if it’s with other people it means joy.  Um, ballet means harmony and cooperation, and grandmother means…” Lucy flipped some pages and skimmed a page before finishing her sentence.  “Nurture and protection.  So you’re joyful that you’re cooperating and you’re feeling protected about it?”  I chuckled quietly to myself as Lucy cocked her head to one side, obviously trying to work out the dream interpretation.

“What’s so funny?” Asked Justin, looking up from his own piece of parchment.

“Nothing,” I replied quickly.  “Just remembering a silly dream I had the other night.”  Justin gave me an odd look before shrugging his shoulders and turning back to his work.  What did I tell you?  Justin isn’t nosy and rude like my other dorm-mates!  I turned my attention back to the table in front of me where Lucy was still trying to interpret the dream.

“Ooh, I think I’ve got it!” She suddenly exclaimed.  “Cooperation and teamwork, well that’s Quidditch, because you work as part of a really great team,” I smiled at the fact she thought our Quidditch team was ‘great’.  “And the protection thing means that your spot on the team is protected and James will select you to be keeper again and you’ll be really happy about it!”  I had to admit, whether or not she was correct, that was pretty clever.

“I hope you’re right,” Hawthorn said. “I like being on the Quidditch team.”

“Of course I’m right, after all I’m an expert dream interpreter who has been doing this for ten whole minutes now!  You’ve got nothing to worry about, and really, James is a great bloke, of course he’s going to pick you for the team.”  Lucy patted her friend on the hand kindly.  I’m not sure why, but hearing her describe my brother as ‘a great bloke’ annoyed me.  It definitely wasn’t because I dislike James, I mean he is a top bloke and despite his annoying tendencies, he’s the best brother I could have asked for.  But there was something about hearing her talk about another guy in such a nice way that made me want to go and punch James in the face.  Hmmm…might want to watch out for that, I thought to myself.

The rest of the class continued on in a similar fashion, and by the time we were finished I had only managed to get down one very poorly interpreted dream because I’d been too busy listening to Lucy for most of the time.  She was a lot funnier than I’d realised, but not in a nasty way that put others down (except maybe for Trelawney), just a quirky, off beat sort of funny.  Unfortunately, Trelawney wasn’t too impressed when I handed up my barely used parchment and insisted that I interpret five dreams to be delivered to her by our next lesson on Monday afternoon.  Groaning, I slipped down the silver ladder and caught up with Justin who, to my surprise and happiness, was walking with Jane and Lucy.

“So did you ladies have fun up there?” I asked, trying to pull off the cool confidence my new look seemed to inspire.  I found it a bit tricky though, when I was trying to watch Lucy but pretend I wasn’t.  “Wasn’t that just the single most interesting lesson of your life?”

“Oh definitely,” Jane laughed.  Lucy stared straight ahead, as though she were concentrating very hard on something.  I felt frustrated, I had hoped she would laugh at my joke too so I tried again.

“I mean I’ll be using that dream interpretation stuff almost as much as I use….ooh…say tea leaf reading.”  I don’t even drink tea.

“Ugh, I hated that,” Once again it was Jane who responded.  “I could never see anything in my tea leaves.”

“And the tea that Trelawney used didn’t taste right either,” Justin piped up.  I watched Lucy in my peripheral vision, she was still staring straight ahead and she looked a little tense now.  One more try Albus, come on, you can do this.

“Oh and with all those scented candles and incense burning it just creates the most unique atmosphere.  That room is just so…so…”

“Suffocating?” I couldn’t help but grin at the new voice joining in to the conversation.  Lucy looked over at me and smiled.  When she did, her whole face seemed to light up and the cheekiness of her grin spread right to her eyes.  My stomach did another little backflip and I almost lost my footing.  Ok there’s definitely something going on there.  I continued to watch Lucy surreptitiously as we made our way to the common room for the break.  When we got there, the girls wandered off to join Rose and Gwen in the corner, not even glancing back at us.  Justin and I claimed some chairs near the fireplace, though it was far too warm for a fire to be burning, and waited for Will and Louis to get back from Muggle Studies. 

I couldn’t stop my eyes wandering to the girls in the corner though, and to one girl in particular.  I’d never really paid attention to her before but Lucy was definitely attractive, one might even call her pretty.  Her long dark hair fell over her shoulders softly, shining in the sunlight that was streaming through a nearby window.  She had wide brown eyes that sort of sparkled when she smiled or laughed, like she was doing now as she told a story to the others.  Her teeth were white and perfectly straight, and even though her front teeth were a little larger than normal, it was sort of cute and added to her charm.  She wasn’t tall, though she managed to hold a couple of inches over Hawthorn, and she had a fairly nice body to boot, which she didn’t flaunt with super-short hemlines and unbuttoned collars like some of the girls in the older year levels did.  As I watched her, she played with the hemline of her robes, twisting them gracefully between her fingers, I’m not sure why, but the movement was positively adorable. 

By the time the bell chimed, indicating it was time for us all to head down to the dungeons for Potions, I had come to a startling realisation.  Louis was right, I was developing a rather severe crush on Lucy Bell.
 



AN: So here we are, the first chapter of my companion story/Al's POV for Animal Magnetism.  I had to change the title to Human Nature because my original working title of 'Man vs Wild' violated the HPFF TOS because it was the name of a TV show.  But I actually think 'Human Nature' works well too :)

Welcome to everyone, old friends and new!  I hope you enjoy seeing things from Al's perspective and I hope it will shine some light on what was going on in his head during Animal Magnetism.  I'm sorry this chapter is a little bit short but they do get longer a few chapters in.  You know I love hearing from you all, so please leave a review!

Next time on Human Nature...

“So?” Will asked as we headed back to the castle a little while later.  “How’d it go?” Louis and Justin were on my other side, all looking at me expectantly.

“Um, alright I think.” I said, too embarrassed to explain about the whole moving away when I got too close thing.  “As well as can be expected.”  The boys seemed disappointed that I didn’t have more to tell them, and they call me a girl; they’re such gossips, always wanting to know how it went when I talk to her, I wonder how the girls would react if they knew we carried on like this!

“Well we’ve got Quidditch try-outs on Saturday,” Will offered.  “Bell will probably come along to support Hawthorn and you can impress her with your flying skills.”  I nodded my head in agreement, though I really didn’t believe that winning over Lucy’s heart was going to be quite that easy.

I wasn’t nervous about making the team on Saturday, because:

 1. I knew that I was the best seeker in Gryffindor, not meaning to sound conceited, but I inherited my Dad’s mad skills and it seems to be the one thing I’m really good at; and

2. I was pretty sure if James didn’t pick me, Mum would send him a howler every day for a month at the very least.  

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