Chapter 6: February 2016

As January became February, Louis and Justin spent more and more time together. At first their friendship had been one of convenience – both were in the astronomy club, so they shared that interest, and both needed a companion in classes and to study with. But slowly the boys were discovering that they had even more in common than they'd thought, and they enjoyed spending time together immensely. Louis worried that it was too soon to say so, but if he was asked, he'd say that Justin was becoming his best friend.

"Did you read that article in Astronomy Weekly about black holes?" Louis asked one afternoon as he and Justin hung out in the Gryffindor common room.

"Not yet, was it good?" Justin wondered.

"Definitely," Louis nodded enthusiastically. "Some of the technical parts went over my head, but overall I understood it pretty well. And I'm sure Caleb can answer any questions I have."

"Speaking of, how's your part of the telescope project going?" Justin wondered.

"Really good," Louis replied. "We've just started fastening the first of the mirrors. Every time we put in a new one, I'm nervous the angle is going to be off, but Caleb keeps assuring me that it's not a big deal to adjust them later on. Though I'd hate to have made a mistake after so many calculations."

"I can't wait until it's finished," Justin said wistfully. "Do you think we'll get to be the first to try it out?"

"The two of us?" Louis asked. "Not a chance. We just joined the club. It'll be Melody first for sure, and then Caleb and Ben. They've been with the club longest and they've put the most work into the project."

"I meant before the teachers and the rest of the school," Justin amended. "Of course we wouldn't be the first first."

"Oh, well then yeah," Louis said. "Probably."

"Do you think we'll get to try it before Professor Brunwell?" Justin wondered.

"I don't know," Louis shrugged. "But what does it matter? We'll get to use it eventually, and that's all that matters."

"True," Justin agreed. He paused. "I can't wait until I'm president of the astronomy club."

Louis laughed. "Who says you're going to be president? It could be me, you know."

"Well president or vice-president," Justin shrugged. "Either way, it'll be really cool to be in charge."

"That's a long way away though," Louis commented.

"True," Justin nodded. "Who do you think will take over next year?"

"Probably Ben," Louis replied. "But I think we have to vote on that."

"What about the rest of the team though?" Justin asked. "There needs to be a president, vice president, and a project manager."

"Well Greg and Arnold are the next oldest," Louis said. "Maybe them."

"But they're not really passionate about astronomy like some of us," Justin shook his head. "They just think it's mildly interesting. You heard them on the first day, neither of them wants to pursue a career in astronomy at all."

"I don't think that's really the criteria for leading the club though," Louis said. "Ben never said he wanted to work in astronomy, and he's project manager."

"Oh, he definitely wants to work in astronomy," Justin said confidently.

"How would you know?" Louis wondered.

Justin looked around, just to make sure nobody was around to hear him, and Louis knew this was top secret information.

"One time, while we were working on the telescope, I saw an application for MAI peeking out of his astronomy textbook," Justin confessed.

"Really?" Louis asked, raising his eyebrows. "Already?"

"You've got to apply early for those internships," Justin nodded. "It's really competitive at the Institution."

"I guess so," Louis nodded. "Do you think you'd ever apply?"

Justin thought about it for a moment. "I really don't know," he admitted. "It's still a little early to be thinking about careers to be honest, but I'd consider it. What about you?"

"Same," Louis agreed. "I'm only twelve. We're a long way away from fifth year and career advising."

"I think I'd want to have an idea what I want to do before then though," Justin said. "The end of fifth year seems a little late to be thinking about careers."

"Really?" Louis asked, surprised. "I would have said it's a little early."

"You'd have us waiting until we've already chosen our N.E.W.T. classes to figure out what we want to do with our lives?" Justin asked.

"I guess you make a good point," Louis allowed. "That wouldn't work at all. Maybe the end of fifth year is just the right time."

Justin opened his mouth to say something, but at that moment, Louis' sister, Dominique, came down from her dorm and walked over to her brother and his friend, taking a seat.

"Hey Louis," she greeted him.

"Hey Domi," Louis returned.

"How're things going?" Dominique asked. "Second term treating you well?"

"Yeah, pretty well," Louis agreed. "I'm enjoying it, if that's what you mean."

"Good," Dominique smiled. "Because I worry about you."

"You don't need to worry about me Domi," Louis assured her. "I'm fine. Much better than the beginning of first term. I'm settled. So you can worry about your own stuff."

"And what exactly is that supposed to mean?" Dominique demanded, immediately on edge.

"Nothing," Louis backed off. "I only meant, you know, that you didn't have to take time away from whatever you're doing to worry about me."

"Oh," Dominique nodded. "Right, of course. But you know I'll always worry about you, so there's no point suggesting otherwise."

Louis smiled at that. Even though he was fine, and he could take care of himself, he liked that his big sister looked out for him.

"And is everything going well for you?" he asked, sensing that there was something Dominique wasn't telling him.

"Of course," Dominique nodded. "Better than good. Fantastic."

Louis was pretty sure this was a lie, but let it go. "Well good, I'm glad. If you ever need anything – "

"Sure thing," Dominique smiled, cutting Louis off. "Anyway, if you're good then I should go. Miles is waiting for me. We have an assignment due in defence. It's a partnered essay on kelpies."

"Sounds fascinating," Louis nodded.

"Not in the slightest," Dominique laughed, standing up and waving goodbye.

"Love you Domi," Louis called after her as she made for the portrait hole.

"You too Louis," she called back before disappearing into the main castle.

Louis turned back to face Justin to find that his friend had a dumbfounded expression on his face.

"What?" Louis frowned at him.

"Who was that?" Justin asked, his eyes wide and his voice almost distant.

"Who Dominique?" Louis asked. "I'm sure you've met her before."

"I think I'd have remembered something like that," Justin assured him. "She's a goddess. Where did you meet her?"

"Um… at home I guess," Louis said. Technically he'd been a newborn baby when they'd met and all, and he could only assume it had been at shell cottage that she'd seen him for the first time. "I wouldn't really call it meeting her though."

"She must be third or fourth year," Justin observed.

Louis nodded. "That's right. Third."

"How did you manage it?" Justin wondered.

Louis frowned in confusion. "Manage what?" he asked.

"To find her," Justin clarified.

Unfortunately, this in no way made their conversation any less confusing for Louis. "What do you mean 'find her'? I've known her my whole life."

"Were you neighbors or something?" Justin asked. "Or were your parents best friends?"

"What?" Louis frowned. "No, Justin, Domi's my sister."

It was Justin's turn to look surprised. "Oh," he said. "Wow. Didn't realize that."

"What did you think?" Louis asked.

Justin shook his head. "Never mind what I thought. It doesn't matter. But just… wow. That's your sister. I should've realized. You look so much alike."

"Vic and Domi look even more alike," Louis said. "They both take after our mother, almost entirely. I have a lot more of my father in me."

"Well she's beautiful," Justin said.

Louis shifted uncomfortably. "She's alright I guess."

"Oh come on, don't you think she's the most beautiful girl you've ever laid eyes on?" Justin asked.

"She's my sister," Louis reminded his friend. "I don't think of her that way. And it's kind of creeping me out that you keep talking about her."

"Would you introduce me to her?" Justin asked.

"Not if you're going to be weird like you are now," Louis said.

"I won't, I promise," Justin assured him. "I'll be completely normal."

Louis narrowed his eyes, unsure if Justin was telling the truth or not. "I'll think about it."

LlLlLlLlLlL

Louis didn't have to think about it too hard. The following day at breakfast, Louis caught Justin staring dreamily in Dominique's direction four times, each of which he kicked Justin under the table in aggravation.

"Stop staring at my sister," Louis demanded. "You're being weird."

"You call it weird, I call it love," Justin sighed, his eyes glazing over as he looked back over at Dominique with her friends.

"Whoa! Slow down," Louis insisted. "You're not in love. You don't even know her."

"I know everything I need to know," Justin said in a dreamy voice.

Louis hit Justin in the head. "Hey!" he cried. "Snap out of it!"

Justin looked at Louis in surprise.

"What was that for?" he demanded.

"Have you ingested love potion or something?" Louis demanded. "Because you're acting insane."

"I assure you, I'm completely sane," Justin replied.

"That's what an insane person would say," Louis pointed out.

"Also what a sane person would say," Justin added.

Justin had a point.

"What has you so infatuated anyway?" Louis wondered.

Justin sighed, glancing back at Dominique. "Everything about her. Her hair, her smile… the way her eyes light up when she laughs. Oh what I would do to be the one to make her laugh."

"You're being ridiculous," Louis insisted. "She's two years older than you. It's never going to happen."

"It could," Justin insisted. "If you'd just introduce us, I'm sure I could do the rest."

"It's not that – " And suddenly Louis stopped short. How had he not seen it before? In that moment, everything made perfect sense. He hadn't known Dominique could do it, which is why it had never occurred to him until then that it could be the problem. But it was the only logical explanation. None of this was Justin's fault at all.

After breakfast, Louis told Justin to go ahead to class and that he would join him shortly. Then he waited outside the Entrance Hall until Dominique emerged with her friends, laughing about something or other.

"Dominque!" Louis called out, stopping his sister in her tracks. "Can we talk?"

"Louis," Dominique greeted her brother. "Sure, is it quick? I don't want to be late to muggle studies."

"It's quick," Louis confirmed. "But it's kind of… private."

"Oh, sure," Dominique nodded, sending her friends away.

"Can we maybe talk outside?" Louis wondered, gesturing to the double doors that led to the Entrance Courtyard.

"Louis, it's the middle of winter, I'm not going out there in my indoor robes. Just say what you need to say," Dominique insisted.

"Fine," Louis nodded, unsure where to start. He fiddled with his hands for a moment until Dominique sighed in frustration.

"If this isn't important – " she said.

"No, it is!" Louis assured her. "It's my friend, Justin."

"Oh," Dominique nodded, her face showing that she was already running through every possible reason Louis and his friend could be having a problem. "Did you argue - ?"

"He thinks he's in love with you," Louis declared.

"Oh!" Dominique said in surprise. "Well that's… nice, I guess."

"No it's not," Louis shook his head in disbelief. "It's terrible."

"Well it's not terrible," Dominique said. "I mean, I'm flattered, but if he thinks something's going to happen between the two of us – "

"Are you doing it?" Louis cut her off, his stomach twisting into knots as he waited for her answer. He'd had to ask. But now that he did, he regretted it.

"What are you implying?" Dominique asked slowly.

"I think you know what I'm implying," Louis said carefully.

Dominique took a step back as she processed the accusation. "Louis, you know I can't – and even if I could, I would never – "

"Are you sure you can't?" Louis asked. "Maybe you're doing it and you don't realize it."

"I think I'd know if I'd inherited any Veela powers, thank you very much," Dominique said, crossing her arms angrily.

"Look, I'm not – Even Maman sometimes doesn't realize she's doing it – "

"I am not coercing your friend into loving me," Dominique said matter-of-factly. "And I'm offended that you would even suggest such a thing."

"But what if it was happening, and you didn't even know it?" Louis asked. There had to be a reasonable explanation for Justin's behaviour. There had to be.

"It's not," Dominique assured him. "I don't know what's going on with your friend, but have you considered the possibility that I'm simply a very attractive person and Justin happened to notice?"

"It's not that I don't think – "

"What?" Dominique cried. "You don't think anyone could find me attractive without me forcing them to? Is that what you think?"

"I didn't – " Louis struggled to find the words. "I'm sorry," he said finally. "I shouldn't have accused you. I should go."

"You should," Dominique nodded. "And next time, try thinking before you speak."

Louis hung his head and watched as Dominique disappeared up the stairs. Feeling embarrassed, he began to make his way downstairs for potions.

It had been a terrible idea, suggesting that Dominique was somehow controlling Justin's emotions. She couldn't do that – none of them could. The Veela magic was too diluted at this point for them to have any of the powers. All they'd inherited was the genetic components – the blonde hair, the charismatic face… that's what Justin must have seen in Dominique. He was infatuated all on his own.

When Louis arrived in potions, he took the seat next to Justin and took a deep breath before speaking.

"I'm sorry," he said.

"What?" Justin asked, caught off guard. He hadn't been expecting an apology and clearly wasn't sure what it was for.

"For saying you were insane, or that you'd ingested a love potion," Louis clarified. "I forgot that me and my siblings can be… magnetic for lack of a better word."

"Oh, I see that now you're lumping yourself in there," Justin observed.

Louis' face flushed. "That's not what I – I just meant – Yes. Dominique is attractive. I don't see it because she's my sister, but it's true. It's only natural that you'd notice."

"Thank you Louis, I appreciate your understanding," Justin said.

"Good," Louis said. "Then I hope I'll have your understanding when I say that I'm never going to introduce you to my sister."

Justin's smile dropped at this. "Why not?" he practically whined.

Louis rolled his eyes. "Because she's my sister and it's weird," he said. "If you want to talk to her, then you're going to have to go up to her yourself, because I'm not getting involved."

"I guess that's fair enough," Justin agreed. "Even though you could make this a hundred times easier for me."

"I know I could," Louis nodded. "Which is exactly why I won't do it."

"Some friend," Justin muttered, but Louis knew he meant it as a joke. They were fine.

LlLlLlLlLlL

For the rest of the day and the next, Louis tried to find an opportunity to speak to Dominique alone. He wanted to apologize for everything that had happened, but whenever she saw him, she either disappeared, or else engrossed herself in a conversation with one of her friends, indicating that she was busy.

It wasn't until the following day that Louis finally stumbled upon her alone in the library.

"Dominique?" Louis asked, approaching cautiously.

"Louis! Now's not a good time," Dominique said. "I have this charms assignment that I have to work on."

"This will only take a minute," Louis assured her, sitting down across from her without her permission.

Clearly seeing that there was no avoiding it, Dominique set her quill down and leaned back in her chair, crossing her arms immediately to indicate that she was still mad.

"I'm sorry," Louis said.

"I'm sure you are," Dominique nodded.

Louis hung his head. "Look, I shouldn't have – "

"You shouldn't have," Dominique agreed. "So how could you?"

Louis sighed. "It's just really weird for me to have my friend saying these things about you. You're my sister, so obviously I don't want to think of you like that."

"What sorts of things does he say?" Dominique asked, leaning forward, indicating that she was interested.

"That you have a beautiful smile," Louis said, shifting uncomfortably. "There was something about your eyes lighting up when you laugh. Some other stuff too."

Dominique's scowl broke and he could see her holding back a smile.

"That's actually really sweet," Dominique admitted, the smile winning out.

Louis shrugged. "I guess, if you're a girl," he muttered.

Dominique laughed.

"So will you forgive me then?" Louis asked.

Dominique was silent for a moment. "What you said to me – that was really low," she said. "You really hurt me. That you could even think that I'm capable of being so manipulative – "

"I know," Louis bowed his head. "I didn't think."

"You didn't," Dominique agreed. "Words are powerful things. You have the power to break someone, to crush their whole soul, just with the words that come out of your mouth. Don't take that lightly."

"I won't," Louis vowed. "And it's not that I thought anything bad about you, Dominique. Really. It's just that I wasn't even thinking at all."

Dominique nodded. "I'll forgive you," she decided. "But you should be more careful in the future what you say to people. Next time it might not be a sister who's so forgiving."

Louis nodded. He would watch the things he said from now on. If this whole thing had taught him anything, it was to think before speaking.

"Thanks Dominique," he said.

She nodded. "I really do have a charms paper though," she said then, gesturing to the work surrounding her. "I need to work."

"Right," Louis nodded, standing up and pushing the chair he'd vacated back towards the table. "See you later then?"

"See you later," Dominique nodded.

Louis left the library and began to head to the astronomy club room. Now that he'd cleared things up with Dominique, his conscience was no longer weighing on him. And all he wanted to do now was to screw some mirrors into a telescope shaft.