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Care of Magical Creatures was fast becoming my new favourite subject, and it had nothing to do with the subject matter or the teacher (not that Hagrid isn’t awesome); it did however, have everything to do with one rather pretty brunette.  Once I realised that I liked Lucy in more than just a platonic way, I couldn’t seem to get her out of my head.  When she was around I was completely distracted by her, watching her out of the corner of my eye and trying to find excuses to talk to her.  When she wasn’t around, I found myself thinking about her and wondering what she was doing.  I’d liked girls before, liked them enough to ask them on dates and even snog a few, but no girl had ever quite had the effect on me that Lucy Bell did. 

Thanks to my odd behaviour, it wasn’t long until the guys worked it out and confronted me about it; I didn’t even bother trying to deny it.

“Ha!  I told you so!” Louis had crowed gleefully.  “You fancy Bell, and it’s turning you into a great big girl!”  I took their teasing good naturedly, because they were my mates and quite frankly, this was how we dealt with things.

“So are you going to ask her out?” Will had asked and three heads had swivelled in my direction.

“I…well…I thought about it, but I can’t,” I lowered my head, dejected.  I’d considered that very thing, in fact it was probably the first thing I thought about once I realised my own feelings, but it seemed like such an unlikelihood that it would go well.  I tried to explain this but it didn’t seem to make much sense.

“Of course she’ll go out with you mate; I mean yes you’re an annoying git, but you’ve grown up these last few months and the girls are really into that!”  Will was right, I had definitely noticed an increase in female attention being directed my way, but Lucy certainly had never been one of those girls.  She barely seemed to acknowledge me, no doubt a by-product of my own stupidity in ignoring her for four years.

“She’s not like that though, she hardly ever talks to me or even looks at me,” I’d tried to explain.  “There’s a really good chance she’ll say ‘no’ and I’m not sure I can face that.”  I sounded like a complete pansy but I couldn’t help it, it was truly how I felt.

“Just seize the day, you’ll never know if you never ask her,” Justin said wisely.  Oh that’s rich, coming from you! I thought to myself cynically.

“What, you mean the way you’ve been seizing the day with Gwen for the last year?” I retorted.  That seemed to shut him up, though I felt a bit guilty about it.  I wondered vaguely if this is how Justin felt about Gwen, and pushed back the urge to ask him how he coped with it – I was already feeling far too girly.  “Look lads, I’m not going to ask her unless I am positive the answer is going to be ‘yes’ and until I’m absolutely, indisputably sure about that we need to keep this quiet, ok?”  They’d all nodded in agreement, and despite all the teasing, I knew I could trust them.

A few weeks after the beginning of term, Hagrid began teaching us about Porlocks.  I’d never really cared too much about the subject before, only really interested if the animals were cool and simply coming along because I liked Hagrid.  But now I wanted to do well, partially because I wanted to impress Lucy, but also because it gave me something to talk about with her.  Somehow or other, Hagrid had managed to secure one of the reclusive horse guardians, and on a Wednesday afternoon, we all found ourselves watching the elusive creature through pairs of old binoculars and drawing sketches; in my case, very badly drawn sketches.  I’ve never been much of a drawer, and it didn’t help that I couldn’t see the Porlock properly anyway.  Glancing around, I noticed Lucy sitting by herself on the grass, her blonde haired Hufflepuff friend that she always seemed to hang around with was standing about fifteen feet away, watching the herd of horses through the binoculars.  Taking the opportunity, I wandered over and sat down next to Lucy.  She looked up when I sat down, a smile on her face; though I obviously wasn’t who she’d been expecting, because the smile faltered when she saw me.

“Hey Bell, how’s your sketch going?” I asked, hoping I sounded confident.

“Fine, thanks,” she replied non-commitally.  I looked at her sketch and was amazed at the intricacies of her detailing.  Apparently the girl could draw as well, I was suitably impressed.

“You’re doing better than me,” I said, trying not to sound too eager and holding up my own parchment.

“It’s not too bad,” She offered kindly, though I could see her mouth twitching at the corners.  I forced myself to look away from her mouth because it made me want to kiss her.

“Yeah if you’re four years old,” I muttered, looking down at my pathetic excuse for a drawing.

Lucy gave me a slightly devilish grin, “Don’t be so hard on yourself.  I would have said it’s more the work of a five year old,” she said.  My heart started beating a little faster at that smile.  I noticed that she had some important detail marked around the feet and I asked to see hers better.  Bravely, I used it as an excuse to lean closer to her, catching the sweet scent of her shampoo as my face came dangerously close to her hair.  Unfortunately, the move was too obvious and she almost immediately shuffled away from me.  Damn it! I thought to myself, I’d been too forward and now I’ve made her uncomfortable.

“Hey, do your own work and stop copying off me!”  She exclaimed.  I started for a minute, shocked that she would think I was trying to use her like that, but then I saw the teasing in her eyes and I relaxed.  Playing off the mood she had set, I put on a ridiculous, exaggerated puppy dog face and pouted at her.

“Please Bell?  You have to help me.  Look at how awful my sketch is!” I pleaded, it was true, my drawing was atrocious, and I think that was what won her over in the end.

“Oh ok, fine,” She sighed, holding her picture out in my direction.

“Thanks Bell, you’re an absolute star,” I grinned at her, and she gave me a sort of unsure smile in return.  Absolute star?  Dear Merlin did I really just say that?  Oh how pathetic!

I didn’t waste the opportunity to share Lucy’s drawing, and by the time the class had finished, my sketch actually looked something like a Porlock.

“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. 

What did make me nervous was seeing Lucy slipping into the stands very early on Saturday morning as I walked out on to the pitch.  James was organising people into groups and I wandered over near to where Jane was standing in the hopes that if she was watching her friend, Lucy might also notice me a bit more.  At one point I noticed her waving and Jane waved back, but I forced myself not to pay any attention, I didn’t want to come off as a desperate loser.

The try-outs themselves weren’t difficult, but I found myself trying extra hard just in case Lucy was watching.  I flew as quickly as I could and made a few daring turns and dives, hoping she would be impressed by my one skill.  As the morning wore on, I noticed Rose and Gwen sitting down next to Lucy.  Relishing the excuse to look her way, I waved in their direction, using Rose as a ruse.  Rose gave me a thumbs up and I noticed Lucy smiling at me too, though she could have been smiling at Hawthorn who was only a few feet away.   Eventually James picked his team, which really only had one major change from the previous year and we all began to make our way back to the castle.  Jane ran ahead to greet the girls as they left the stands.  Lucy hugged her friend with a squeal, celebrating Jane’s reinstatement as team keeper.

“…you were superb!” I heard her say as the boys and I approached the group.  Finding courage, goodness knows where, I stepped forward and spoke.

“What about me, was I superb?”  I tried to direct the question to the whole group, even though it was in obvious reference to what Lucy had just said.  She turned and stared at me, looking a little stunned.  Probably wondering why I’m making such an idiot of myself.  Luckily, Rose didn’t miss a beat as she reached over to punch my shoulder.

“You’re always superb, but don’t let it go to your head.”  I slung an arm around her shoulders, perfectly aware that I was all sweaty and gross and probably annoying her.  Much to my chagrin, Lucy more or less ignored me for the remainder of the day, even when we managed to convince the girls to come down to the lake for a swim.  I’m not sure if I thought my new improved body would cause her to swoon (swoon…did I just say swoon? Oh brother!), but I had figured she might at least pay me some attention!  I went to bed that night feeling a bit dejected, Lucy obviously felt nothing for me.

The next morning wasn’t much better.  I couldn’t shake the dark cloud that seemed to be hanging over my head and I found myself wandering around the castle in a bit of a strop. 

“What is your problem Al?” Rose asked me over lunch as I glared into a bowl of pumpkin soup. 

“Nothing,” I snapped, refusing to look her in the eye.  I knew she’d never let up if she worked out something really was wrong, so it was easier to let her think I was just in a bad mood.

“That time of the month is it Potter?” Harvey Pucey, the stupid git of a Slytherin Quidditch team captain sneered as he passed.  I ignored him, knowing that with the mood I was in, if I reacted even in the slightest way I’d probably do something stupid enough to get me a detention.  I finished my lunch in silence before stalking down to the Quidditch pitch for a fly, hoping I would be able to blow off some steam.

Calm down mate, I told myself as I shot around the pitch on my fifteenth lap…or was it sixteenth?  Oh who really cared anyway.  She’s just a girl, you can’t let it get to you like this!  It was true, and I knew it was true, but I still didn’t feel 100 per cent better when I finally came down to land.  She was just a girl, Lucy Bell was just a girl and I had to get past whatever I thought I felt about her because pining after her like some soppy moron was not going to help the situation.  I still felt some lingering frustration as I locked my broom away in the broom shed and as my eyes fell on a bag full of practise quaffles, a brilliant idea came to mind.  There was nothing I could do about Lucy and I had to just accept that, but I could do something about Harvey Pucey, and as I left the Quidditch pitch with one of the battered red balls in my hand, I felt my bad mood begin to lift.


AN: Hello again!  Thank you to everyone for your support of this story, I'm so excited by how many people have already favourited it and left reviews...Have I told you guys lately how much I love you all?  Ok, so good news and bad news: I plan to post the third chapter in a couple of days time, because I always think it's good to get a new story off the ground running (and I know how much you guys love quick updates).  The bad news is that on Monday I'm going away for a week and I won't be able to do any writing or updating in that time, so there will be a slightly longer break between updating the third and fourth chapters. 

Now, what did you think of this chapter?  I know it was another short one but they will get longer - I promise!  Please leave a review, I'd love to know what you think. 

Next time on Human Nature...

After some good natured teasing, Lucy asked me why I was on detention.  I tried not to sound too proud as I explained about Pucey and the quaffle; I wasn’t sure if she would approve or not, but she seemed happy that the Slytherin git had been taken down a peg or two.  Then came her turn to explain her presence.

“Molly caught me out of the common room after curfew on Saturday night,” She said.  Mental note: I must buy Molly a huge box of chocolate frogs for this.

“What were you doing out so late anyway?” I asked curiously.  I was desperate to find out what made her tick, and why on earth she would have been sneaking around the castle so late at night.  Don’t get me wrong, the rule breaking stuff is incredibly hot, I just didn’t realise it was her thing.

“I had a rendezvous with Arthur Kennilworthy.  On top of the astronomy tower at midnight.”   She said in a blasé sort of voice.  My heart seemed to skip a beat, could she be serious?

“Really?” I asked, trying to keep a calm expression on my face.

“Really.  We’re having a steamy love affair but he doesn’t want his girlfriend to find out about it.” 

She’s into Kennilworthy?  The upstanding, responsible and completely boring head boy of our wonderful school was not the sort of person I’d imagined Lucy with; I started to wonder if I had seriously misjudged her character.  I glanced at her curiously, and noticed that the corners of her mouth were twitching.

“You’re joking,” I ventured, hoping I was right.

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