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“Albus!  What have I done ter receive this great honour?” Hagrid beamed as he opened the door to let me inside his hut.

“Oh, you know.  Just thought it was time for a cup of tea,” I smiled, scratching Fang behind the ears once he’d stopped jumping all over me.  There was still a little time before dinner, and I wasn’t quite sure how to tell the guys about my date with Mary, so I’d escaped down to Hagrid’s hut to see if it would help clear my head a bit.  Hagrid made us some tea and served up his infamous rock cakes, which I refused under the guise of not wanting to ruin my dinner.

“So is there any int’restin’ news I should know about?” Hagrid asked once we’d covered classes, Mum, Dad, James and Lily. 

“Not a lot.  Quidditch team is looking good, uh there’s a Hogsmeade weekend coming up so that will be good.  Lucy Bell’s going with some guy from Hufflepuff.”  Merlin’s beard! Why did I just say that?  Why on earth did I bring her up?

“Really?” Hagrid asked, eyes twinkling.  “An’ yeh’re upset about it?”

“Oh….no…well I’ve got my own date for Saturday,” I said, trying to pass it off as a casual revelation.

“Really?” Hagrid was still looking rather amused.

“Yeah, she’s a fourth year.  Her name’s Mary…Mary Temple.” And an hour ago I had absolutely no idea who she was!

“Well, I’m sure yeh’ll have a nice time,” Hagrid said, though his little black, beetle-like eyes hinted that he wanted to say more.

I held off telling the guys until Wednesday morning.  I figured I couldn’t keep it from them much longer than that.

“Mary who?” Will asked.

“Mary Temple,” I repeated.  “She’s a Gryffindor fourth year, blond hair, average height…”

“You have no idea who she is, do you?” Louis grinned.

“Not a clue,” I admitted.

“Al!” Justin groaned.  “Mate, what are you doing?”

“Well what was I supposed to do?  Go stag to Hogsmeade and follow Lucy and McMillan around like a lost puppy all day?”  I said, though I felt like I was trying to convince myself self as much as the others.

“Hey give him a break,” Louis said.  “There’s nothing wrong with it if the girl wants to go out with him.  And you never know, it might even make Bell jealous.”

“It’s your funeral,” Justin muttered shaking his head.

By Friday, my convictions were failing me again and I found myself in desperate need of advice.  Louis and Justin were both continuing to voice opposite sides of the argument while Will happily sat on the fence, not offering any opinion at all.  I’d told Rose about the date with Mary, but I wasn’t too keen on talking to her about Lucy; after all they were friends and dorm-mates and as much as Rose was my best friend, there was far too much risk of things getting back to Lucy through her.

Eventually, I decided to make another trip down to Hagrid’s.  He seemed to be suspicious already so I figured he was the least objectionable option.  It was just about dinner time, but I guessed that if I missed out on eating I could always sneak down to the kitchens later.  I made my way through the castle and across the Entrance Hall, heading for the front doors, which were still half open from the day’s comings and goings.  I walked out into the bright sunshine but before I could enjoy it, I heard a crashing sound, a distinct crack and someone making an ‘oomph!’ noise.  I looked down to see none other than Lucy Bell herself, sprawled in what looked like a rather painful position on the top step.  I remembered her clumsiness during our detention and realised she must have fallen.

“Merlins pants, are you ok?” I exclaimed, rushing over to help her.  Her face was bright red as she muttered something about being used to it, pulling away from me when I tried to help, despite the fact that she was clearly hurt.

Whoah, this girl is really protective of her independence!

I could tell her right arm was hurt from the way she was nursing it, so I took her left one (despite the protests) and gently lifted her to her feet.  For the briefest of seconds, I entertained a fantasy of her falling into my arms in gratitude, she my damsel in distress and I her white knight.  Of course, that was shattered when she pulled her arm away, hobbling several steps away from me and telling me to basically continue on with what I was doing.  She did not want help.

Except that there was the briefest hint of fear in her eyes, mixed with the physical pain she was obviously feeling.  And the way she was shaking, even though it wasn’t that cold, told me that she was probably going into shock.

“I’m fine?” She practically whimpered when I insisted, her defence failing, though she was going to fight for her independence to the last.  I had to give the girl credit – she was incredibly brave, definitely a Gryffindor.

“Lucy,” I said as gently and persuasively as I could manage, surprising myself at the way her name sounded on my lips.  It seemed to convince her to let me help and before I knew it, my arm was tucked around her waist, her slender arm over my shoulder for support. 

Focus Al…she’s hurt, she’s scared, you’re supposed to be thinking about getting her up to the hospital wing, not focussing on how good it feels to have your arm around her!  It took all of my energy not to let my hand slip any lower on her waist than it already was, as I tried not to think about the fact that she was extremely close to me, our sides pressed together.

We didn’t get too far before we were joined by Hawthorn, who insisted on coming to the hospital wing with us, though I was pleased when Lucy didn’t let go of me, allowing me to help her all the way upstairs.  I would have happily swung her up into my arms and carried her the whole way, but I doubted she’d be too happy about that.

Madam Bones didn’t seem all that surprised to see Lucy injured so badly and I wondered vaguely just how clumsy she was.  I forced myself to let her go once she was sitting on a bed, but as I watched her, I found myself worrying about her safety.  What if I hadn’t come along, how long would she have been lying out there?  Would McMillan be able to protect her or help her if someone went wrong on her date?  What if they went to the shrieking shack and she fell down a hill or something?

I must have looked incredibly concerned, because Lucy noticed it.

“Oh don’t look so worried,” She said to me in a playful tone, a smile dancing across her lips.  I was stunned that she could look so calm and happy when she was nursing what were probably several broken bones.  “Ol’ Suse here will fix me up in a jiffy!”  She smiled at me again, making my heart skip a beat, though when Madam Bones gave her a disapproving glare, she lowered her head and stopped talking. 

I supposed that with Hawthorn there, I probably didn’t need to hang around, but I wanted to make sure she was alright, that Madam Bones could heal her properly.  It wasn’t long before the healer sent us on our way, Lucy already joking with Hawthorn about how many times she’d been to the hospital wing and suggesting they put up a plaque in her honour.  She’d stopped shaking, but I was still worried about shock, and I realised it was important that she eat something so I sat myself next to her at the Gryffindor table, not caring that the guys were at the opposite end of the room.  However, when Lucy enlisted Rose’s help in convincing me that she was fine, I realised I was probably being slightly obvious and I backed off.

The next day, as I made my way down to Hogsmeade with Mary, I found my mind wandering.  I tried to listen to Mary, honestly I really did; it’s just that she was talking about some new pop singer called Johnny Glitter (I mean, seriously?) and I just couldn’t focus on what she was saying.  Instead, I found myself plagued by the memory of how it had felt to have my arm around Lucy’s waist, my mind was entranced by the way her soft hand had clamped on to my collar bone and the curve of her hip under my hand.  Merlin.  I’m getting a bit pervy aren’t I?  I scolded myself, though it wasn’t really like that.  Well ok it sort of was, I’m a 15 year old bloke for goodness sake, but it was so much more than the physical contact. 

“So what bands do you like?” Mary asked, forcing me to drag my thoughts away from Lucy and her far too appealing hips.

“Oh, you know, this and that,” I said, shrugging my shoulders.  To be honest I didn’t listen to a lot of the newer bands, there were so many singers that popped on to the scene for a song or two and then disappeared.  And so many of them were posers anyway, using a gimmick they probably bought at Uncle Fred’s shop to get attention.  “I’ve always been a fan of The Weird Sisters.”

“The Weird Sisters?” Mary looked surprised at my answer.  “They’re that really old band aren’t they?  I think my dad has some of their records somewhere.”

“Well they’ve been around a while, but they’re pretty classic,” I replied, not really in the mood to have a debate with some fourth year who thought ‘Johnny Glitter’ was the best singer in the last 500 years.  “What about Celestina Warbeck, have you heard of her?  My Grandma has a box full of her records!”  I laughed as I remembered the screeching sound of the singer my Grandma Weasley loved so much.  Auntie Fleur could do the funniest impersonation of her, I suppose that’s where Louis got his talent for impersonating people from.

“Oh I love her,” Mary gushed, obviously missing the humour in my voice.  “Now there is a classic performer!”

Oh brother, I groaned inwardly.  Remind me again why I thought this date was going to be a good idea?

“So Mary, do you like Quidditch?” I asked, hoping to find an easier topic of conversation.

“Well not really,” She said.  “Though I love watching you play, you’re an excellent snitcher!”

“Seeker,” I sighed.  “The position is called Seeker.”

The quality of conversation didn’t improve throughout the morning, so I decided the many distractions of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes might help things out.  It worked for a while, Mary spent half an hour just looking at the WonderWitch pimple removal potions, but eventually, I could see she was growing bored. 

“You hungry?”  I asked as she placed a daydream charm back on top of a display.  “We could head over to the Three Broomsticks.”  Mary’s face fell slightly as I mentioned the pub.

“Oh, The Three Broomsticks?  Well, um, sure.”  She said, though I couldn’t help but notice the disappointment on her face.  Why on earth would she be disappointed about going to the Three Broomsticks?  It was a brilliant pub.  That is unless she wanted me to take her to…Oh Merlin, she wants me to take her to Madam Puddifoots?  I’d never taken a girl (or a boy for that matter) to Madam Puddifoots and I had no intention of ever doing so.  The sickly pink decorations, china plates and lacy doilies everywhere; it sounded like a nightmare!  No girl was worth that.  Well ok, maybe one girl, but I doubt it’s her kind of place. 

I ignored the look on Mary’s face and began leading the way out of the shop, which had become very crowded in the time we had been there.  I’d been keeping an eye out for Lucy for most of the morning, but I hadn’t seen any trace of her or that git McMillan.  So you can imagine my surprise when I began inching my way around a display of Skiving Snackboxes only to come face to face with the very girl herself. 

“Bell!” I exclaimed, far too loudly for normal conversation.  I looked down as she replied, and my heart fell as I saw her hand intertwined with McMillan’s.  Almost immediately though, she dropped his hand and shoved it in the pocket of her jeans as though to indicate that she didn’t care whether she was holding his hand or not.  That’s a good sign Al, now try and act happy.  Remember you’re supposed to be showing her how much you don’t care that she’s dating McMillan and how much you’re enjoying being with Mary.

“You two having fun?” I asked, feeling the ridiculous grin on my face and wishing I could just sink into the floor.  She’s going to think I’m a crazy person at this rate!

“I guess so,” She replied indifferently, she seemed distracted by something and I couldn’t help but feel relieved that she wasn’t having the time of her life with McMillan.  McMillan didn’t look too impressed at her tone though, in fact he looked slightly insulted and I wasn’t the only one who noticed.  “I mean, yeah, we’re having a great time!” Lucy exclaimed with far too much enthusiasm, glancing guiltily at Michael.  It was all starting to get a bit weird and I realised from the looks on their faces that Mary and McMillan were both getting quite uncomfortable.

“We were about to head to the Three Broomsticks for lunch, we might see you there,” I said, stepping around them to make my way to the door.  Lucy looked as though she was going to respond, but McMillan cut her off, saying something about going somewhere else for lunch.  I stopped immediately, Mary bumping into my back.  Yeah, I wonder where that could be you smarmy git, I grumbled inwardly.  McMillan obviously wanted to take Lucy to Puddifoots where he’d no doubt try to snog her. 

“Oh,” Lucy looked embarrassed as she noticed Mary and myself watching.  “Well, yeah of course that’s ok.”  She said, though I was sure I detected a note of hesitation in her voice.  I glanced at Mary, who was giving me a pointed look and I realised I was being creepy again.

“Well, have a good day then,” I mumbled and hurried out the door before Lucy or McMillan could respond.

“Was that girl a friend of yours?” Mary asked as we made our way down the street.

“Who, Lucy? Oh, erm…well I guess so.  She’s in my year.”  I replied.  Was Lucy my friend?  She probably wouldn’t say so.

“Well it looks like she and that boy’s date was going well, I think he’s going to take her to Madam Puddifoots,” Mary gave me a pointed look as she said this; a look I chose to ignore as I made a beeline for the Three Broomsticks.  This date was going from bad to worse and if Mary dropped one more hint about that awful tea shop I might just have to run away from her like the wimpy girl I am.

“Al!” I peered through the crowded pub and spotted Will waving across the room to me.

“Oh, there are my friends,” I said to Mary, ducking past a group of elderly wizards to reach the table where Will was sitting with Justin, Rose, Gwen and Jane.  “Hey guys, having a good day?”  I asked

“Can’t complain,” Will replied, giving me a knowing look.  “You two want to join us?”

“Sure,” I replied.  “You don’t mind do you?” I said to Mary as I pulled up a chair.

“Uh, no, that’s fine.”  She said, though she looked a little disappointed.  Ok this date was the worst idea ever.  I introduced Mary to everyone before falling into silence.  I had nothing to talk to Mary about and everyone else seemed caught up in their own conversations.

“Who wants a drink?”  I offered.  “My shout.”  Everyone placed their orders and I took off to the bar, relieved to get away from Mary for a few minutes.  I wondered vaguely if she expected me to kiss her and exactly how hard it would be to get out of asking her out again.  I felt like a right git but the truth was, there was only one girl I wanted to be on a date with, and unfortunately she was probably in Puddifoot’s by now snogging McMillan.  I tried to fight off that image as I waited in the huge line of people at the bar, consoling myself with the fact that Lucy hadn’t looked like she was having too much fun with McMillan and therefore, maybe she wouldn’t want to kiss him either. 

“Six butterbeers and a pumpkin juice,” I told Madam Rosmerta, and turned to face the door while I waited, my hand tapping casually on the bar.  My hand stopped dead as I noticed a couple standing near the door.  Lucy and McMillan had just entered and were looking around for somewhere to sit.  As I watched, Lucy pointed out our table and made her way through the throng.  I wasn’t sure what had changed their minds, but I was certainly glad they had.

I paid the barmaid and carefully balanced the tray as I edged my way back through the crowd, taking a deep breath as I caught sight of the back of Lucy’s head, her brown hair falling over her shoulders like melted chocolate.  Ok Al, keep calm, play it cool.  I told myself as I approached the table. 

“Sorry I took so long, the line at the bar is massive,” I said to the table calmly.  Lucy spun around at that moment, nearly knocking the tray from my hands.  “Whoah, easy there Bell!”  I said, forcing myself to keep the casual tone in my voice.  “What are you guys doing here?  I thought you were going somewhere else for lunch.”

I swear that for the briefest of seconds, Lucy blushed.

“Um well…that didn’t work out,” She muttered, looking embarrassedly at McMillan.  “So can we join you?  I’d rather not eat my lunch standing in a corner.”

I was excited that Lucy was going to have lunch with us, but it became pretty obvious that she was interested in McMillan…at least enough to give him all of her attention for the remainder of the meal.  I did my best to focus on Mary but I swear she would not shut up about bloody Johnny Glitter and I found myself battling white noise every time she opened her mouth. 

Lucy and Michael disappeared after they’d eaten, McMillan saying something about the Shrieking Shack, leaving me with the uncontrollable urge to follow them and tackle him to the ground.  But, ever the polite young man my mother raised, I stayed with Mary for as long as could be deemed decent…which was until about 3 o’clock.

“Well I was going to go and get in some Quidditch practise,” I explained as we stood outside Honeydukes.  “I can walk you back to the castle if you like.”

“Oh no, that’s ok,” Mary said, not doing a very good job at hiding the surprise in her voice.  “I’ve got some friends around somewhere, I’ll just go find them.”

I felt a bit guilty as I dragged myself back up to the castle, deciding that I would go for a fly after all.  I changed into sweat pants and a t-shirt before heading down to the pitch, grateful for the peace and quiet granted by a Hogsmeade weekend.  After over an hour and goodness knows how many laps of the pitch, I finally descended, locked up my broom and headed back up to the castle.  I smelt like the back end of a troll (which incidentally smells like the front of a troll…and the middle of a troll) and decided a shower was in order.  I was just about to round the corner that led to the Gryffindor common room when I heard voices, once of which I recognised instantly.

“I had a great time today Michael,” Lucy was saying.  I stopped myself and peeked around the corner, spying like the little pervy creep that I am.  “Thanks for asking me.”

“Thanks for saying yes,” McMillan replied in a silky sort of voice that made me want to punch him.  He leaned in towards her for a kiss and I gripped the stone wall to hold myself in place.  Lucy looked like she was about to kiss him, but at the last second something came over her face and she turned her head so that McMillan’s lips collided with her cheek.  She looked embarrassed and muttered a hasty goodbye before disappearing through the portrait hole.  McMillan stood facing the portrait of the fat lady for about 30 seconds before turning and heading down the stairs in the opposite direction to where I was standing, however there was no missing the words he muttered to himself as he left.

“Bloody tease.” He grumbled, and it took all my self-control not to hex him there and then.


AN: Hello all!  How are you?  I had a lovely Easter holiday and I hope you all did too.  I hope you enjoyed chapter 4, let me knpow what you think in a review.  I'm a bit behind with my review responses at the moment, but know that I love your feedback.

And of course, here's your sneak peek at the next chapter...

I left my two cousins to their discussion of funny moments to do a lap of the room, looking for some of my other friends.  Ok so maybe I was looking for Lucy – what good is being the match winning seeker of an awesome Quidditch team if you can’t use it to impress the girl you fancy?  I’d finished my butterbeer and tossed out the bottle before I finally spotted her, curled up on a small two-seater sofa, her hands around a bottle of butterbeer and that beautiful smile on her face as she chatted with someone I couldn’t see. 

I was floored for a moment with just how pretty she really was.  It wasn’t an ‘in-your-face’ sort of beauty, the kind that other girls flaunted to get a boy’s attention, it was a sort of natural beauty that had as much to do with her personality as it did with her wide expressive eyes and the light smattering of freckles across her perfectly symmetrical nose.  She shifted slightly in her seat and laughed, the sound seemed to travel across all of the other noise in the room and made me smile as I watched her for a few more minutes. 

I was just convincing myself that I could amble over to her and be all charming and sexy and ‘hey-did-you-notice-how-I-pulled-off-that-awesome-catch-of-the-snitch-today’ when the crowd parted slightly and I realised who Lucy was talking to.  James Sirius Potter, my own freaking brother, was nestled in the seat next to Lucy, leaning forward and talking to her quite intensely.  How could he do this to me?  I mean I get that Lucy is gorgeous and all, but she’s two years younger than him and it is not ok! 

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