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Chapter 4: Gimme Little Sign
Brenton Wood, “Gimme Little Sign”
If you do want me, gimme little sugar
If you don't want me, don't lead me on girl
Just gimme some kind of sign girl, oh my baby
To show that you're mine girl, oh yeah
Arthur floated for the rest of the day. He was distracted in class, staring off into space instead of paying attention, and the classes he shared with Molly were spent staring at her whenever she wasn’t looking at him, which she seemed to be doing more often than she ever had before. She kept glancing his way, and sometimes she stopped taking notes, her quill held loosely in her hand, and watched him as if studying him, while he watched her from under his lashes, pretending not to see her staring at him.
She had kissed him! He might never wash his cheek again. He kept touching the spot where her lips had pressed against his skin, whenever he thought no one was looking at him. He didn’t think anyone in the common room that morning had noticed the kiss, small and quick as it had been. She had sat at breakfast with her friends, and they were as giggly and cheerful as ever. Molly didn’t seem any the worse for wear for yesterday’s incident. Unsinkable as ever, Molly Prewett.
He had noticed a small dip in the Gryffindor rubies in the hourglass outside the Great Hall, but no one else seemed to have taken much notice, and for that he was grateful. Molly had escaped her first bout of rule-breaking relatively unscathed. He wasn’t sure whether she’d gotten a detention. He decided, as they sat in Transfiguration, taking it in turns to watch each other, that he should ask her about that when the class ended.
Molly got into the corridor ahead of him, and he had to shoulder past Jasper Mussa and Silvester Bowbrick of Ravenclaw to get to her. She and Hattie Habbershaw were chatting animatedly, and he overheard mention of Molly’s birthday. She came of age in a few weeks, around the same time as Apparition lessons were set to start. His birthday wasn’t until February, but he’d be taking Apparition lessons as well.
“Excuse me, Molly,” he interrupted the girls, and Hattie smiled at him as they turned around. Molly had been laughing and the warmth was still in her face when she turned to Arthur. He forgot momentarily what he was going to say, and while he spluttered, Hattie murmured that she would see Molly in the library and left them.
The students swirled around them in the corridor, and Arthur drew Molly to the side to get them out of the way of everyone heading for their classes and common rooms.
“Did you get detention? For the love potion?” he asked her.
Molly flushed a little. “Yes, my first ever. Tonight, with Professor Flitwick.” She hesitated, and then asked, “Have you ever had detention? What’s it like?”
“Oh, he’ll probably set you some lines, or make you do a bit of Muggle cleaning. I’ve had a few,” he admitted. “It’s not so bad with Flitwick.”
“I suppose.” She didn’t look convinced.
“Sometimes it’s worth it, to do whatever got you the detention,” Arthur said tentatively.
Molly sighed. “Yes. I imagine that’s so. Arthur, I’d better go, Hattie and I have rather a lot of homework to get done, and we had planned a head start during our break right now.”
“All right, Molly. I’ll walk you to the library, if you’d like.” He gave her a hopeful smile.
Molly gave him that piercing, indefinable gaze again as she considered him in silence, as if she was weighing it internally, while he waited, holding his breath. “Yes, I’d like that,” she said after a moment.
Arthur’s heart leapt. “Shall we, then?”
They walked side by side in silence for a while, and Arthur’s mind raced for topics he could discuss with her. What could he possibly say that Molly Prewett would be interested in?
“You take Arithmancy, don’t you?” he blurted out.
“Yes, that’s right,” she said, smiling at him. “It’s my favourite class.” She stopped abruptly and frowned, and he wasn’t sure why.
“Muggle Studies is my favourite,” he said, and she looked up at him, her face clearing.
“Really? Muggle Studies?”
“Yes, they’re quite fascinating,” he enthused. “They think of so many ways to live without magic, it’s just amazing. Do you know what eckeltricity is?”
They had reached the library. “No, I don’t. I do have to go, Arthur, I’m sorry.” She pointed into the library as she spoke, as if to reinforce that her friends awaited her.
He deflated somewhat. She was leaving him. The walk to the library had been entirely too short. Why hadn’t he thought of something to say sooner? “Yes, of course.”
She turned to go, and he blurted out, “I don’t suppose you…”
She turned again and said, “Yes, Arthur?”
He looked into her lovely brown eyes, saw her smile, and found his courage. “Would you like to talk more later? On a… on a date? With me?”
There was a pause, as she seemed to consider him, and his heart was in his throat, waiting for her answer. She didn’t answer right away and he started to panic. Oh, he’d been stupid, stupid, she fancied Thad, not him, never him…
Then she smiled brightly at him, the sun emerging from behind clouds, and she said, “Yes, I’d like that.”
She disappeared into the library then, and Arthur walked calmly down the corridor to the corner, where he came to a dead stop and stared straight ahead at a suit of armor for a minute. Then he let out a huge whoop, and ran the rest of the way to Gryffindor tower, stopping to shake hands with students as he passed by them, shouting “She said yes!” to the amusement of anyone who saw him, then running on, and he didn’t care if he was a fool, nothing could mar this perfect moment.
Molly Prewett said yes! To him!
When he reached the Gryffindor common room, it was nearly deserted. Most of the younger students were in class, and only a few sixth and seventh years were in the common room. He ran up to his dormitory, threw his bookbag onto his bed, and did a little jig in the middle of the room.
“What’s going on, Arthur?” Reid Akins’ voice came from the doorway. Reid came in and flopped out on his bed, letting out his breath in a loud whoosh, and throwing one arm over his eyes. “I think my brain is imploding from trying to retain all this information. Maybe doing eleven N.E.W.T.s was a mistake.”
“Possibly, possibly.” Arthur couldn’t spare any pity for his roommate’s overloaded class schedule just then, however; his mood was too exultant to feel anything but a bubbling happiness. “I asked out Molly Prewett!” he burst out.
“Did you? Good for you, mate.” Reid opened his eyes again and sat up. “I take it she said yes?”
“She did! She said yes!” Arthur did his little jig again. “Can you believe it?”
Reid laughed and shook his head. “I’m glad for you, really. Now if you could use your newfound magical influence over women to get Cecilia Fletcher to go out with me, I’d have something to celebrate as well.”
“Sorry, Reid, I don’t think there’s any hope for you and Cecilia,” Arthur said, sitting on his bed with a bounce. “She thinks you’re a complete berk.”
“Damned firecrackers. I told her it was an accident.”
Arthur laughed. “I can speak to her for you if you’d like.”
“No, thanks though. I think it’s a lost cause. I’ve decided to focus my energy on that Hufflepuff girl, Gemma Folwell. She’s pretty, isn’t she?” Reid flopped back down onto his pillow. “I might be doomed with women at school now, after the firecrackers, but she’s a Hufflepuff, she ought to give me a chance, right? They’re supposed to be fair-minded.”
Arthur grinned mischievously. “I think you might need a Gryffindor girl. ‘Where dwell the brave at heart’, remember? It’d take a brave girl to date you.”
Reid threw his pillow at Arthur.
Molly left the dinner table before Arthur had a chance to speak with her. She’d been surrounded by her friends and he hadn’t been quite brave enough to interrupt them, so he’d stayed with his usual dinner crowd of Reid, Dunstan, and Cosmo Graham, and he’d missed her.
Reid spent most of dinner eyeing Cecilia Fletcher. She never looked at him. Arthur understood Reid’s infatuation with Cecilia: she was extremely pretty, with long black hair that curled at the ends and dark eyes, tall and slim, her prefect’s badge shining on her chest. Her best friend Siobhan was also pretty, but in a more aggressive, outdoorsy way, with rusty brown hair and bright blue eyes, freckles scattered across her nose. Arthur quite liked Siobhan, whose father was a sailor and who could swear like one of his brothers. She was sarcastic and witty and had made him laugh in Herbology when she swore and kicked the plants.
Cecilia and Siobhan headed off to Gryffindor tower, and Reid wolfed down the last of his pudding and took off after them. Apparently he wasn’t quite ready to give up on Cecilia as a lost cause just yet. Arthur made his way down the tables and sat down next to Hattie and Petula.
“Evening, Arthur,” Petula said easily. She was a plain girl, with her long blonde hair in a plait down her back, her nose long and narrow in her pale face, with wide-set moss-green eyes. Petula was in Arthur’s Muggle Studies class, and he knew she was a half-blood and had taken it to better understand the Muggle side of her family. Arthur often wished he had a Muggle side of his family, but unfortunately, they were all boring pure-bloods. Petula was fond of dramatics, and liked to have regular crises to liven things up.
“Evening, Petula, Hattie.”
Hattie smiled at him, her mouth full, and waved her fork at him vaguely. Hattie was rather plump, with curly black hair and eyes of a deeper brown than Molly’s, and a friendly, pretty face. She was fond of Herbology and was always cheerful and smiling when Arthur saw her around school.
Hattie swallowed then and said, “If you’re looking for Molly, she’s gone to serve her detention with Professor Flitwick.”
Arthur had nearly forgotten the detention in his excitement over their date. “Oh. Right then. Thanks. Did she, erm…”
“Tell us you asked her out?” Petula propped her chin on her hand and regarded him with interest. “Of course she did.”
Arthur could feel his ears turning red. “Oh. What, erm, what did she say, exactly?”
They exchanged a knowing grin, and he felt even more embarrassed. Girls were so odd sometimes.
“Why don’t you ask her?” Hattie suggested. “When she gets out of detention.”
Arthur got his Muggle Studies textbook and settled himself down in a niche outside Flitwick’s office, behind a suit of armour. The evening seemed to stretch by endlessly as he waited for her to emerge. It was nearly 10 o’clock before she finally came out of the office, rubbing her hand and looking drawn. He shot to his feet when he saw her and almost dropped his book. He fumbled with it for a moment and then said in what he hoped was a debonair voice, “Good evening, Molly.”
She gasped and put a hand to her heart. “Arthur! You gave me such a fright! Have you been out here all this time?”
He could feel his ears turning red, and said casually, “I thought I could walk you back to the dormitory.”
“Oh. Well, that’s very thoughtful of you. Thank you.” She fell into step next to him, and they strolled down the corridor toward Gryffindor tower.
“How was your detention?” Arthur asked.
“Oh, it was…” She turned pink. “It was lines. It wasn’t so bad, I suppose.”
“Oh good. I’m glad it was all right.” He wondered what she’d had to write over the love potion, but it seemed to embarrass her, so he didn’t ask. He didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable and not want to talk to him. “I, erm, I spoke with Hattie and Petula at dinner.”
“Did you?” She seemed glad they were off the topic of her detention. “They’re such sweet girls, aren’t they?”
“Yes, I have Muggle Studies with Petula, she’s quite knowledgeable. Some of her family members are Muggles.”
Molly nodded. “I think I remember her saying her mother’s family were all Muggles.”
The subject of Muggles, as usual, distracted him from what he’d meant to ask her. “D’you know, Muggles have invented hundreds of ways to get by without magic. They don’t have Wizarding Wireless, so they watch a tellyvision. And the pictures in the tellyvision move, like a wizard photograph-”
“Don’t they usually? Move, I mean.” Molly looked confused.
“No, Muggle photographs don’t move at all.”
“Yes, isn’t it,” Arthur enthused. “And the tellyvisions run on eckeltricity, which is lightning running through wires in the walls.”
“Lightning in wires?” Molly tutted. “That sounds dangerous, I hope they’re careful with it.”
Arthur grinned. “It can be, yes, but Muggles have tamed it. It does so many things for them, things we would do by magic. It’s amazing, really.”
Molly pursed her lips. “So this is what you learn about in Muggle Studies?”
“Yes. There’s not many of us in the N.E.W.T. level now, there’s just me and Petula, and that Ravenclaw Jasper Mussa, and Mary Nevard from Hufflepuff.” Arthur put a hand out to stop her, and peeked around a corner to make sure the coast was clear before they continued on. They were out after curfew, and though Molly had a reason to be coming back to the dormitory after ten, he didn’t. He didn’t think Apollyon Pringle, the caretaker, would find “spending time with Miss Prewett” to be a valid reason for breaking curfew.
“I thought the Owusu twins followed Muggle Studies as well?” Molly asked as they set off again.
“They did, yes, but they’ve dropped it now they’re done with their O.W.L.s. I think they felt it wasn’t necessary beyond O.W.L. level.”
“What do you do with a N.E.W.T. in Muggle Studies?”
“Well, there are several options for working with Muggles, but what I’d like to do is start at the Ministry. There’s an office for the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts, and you get to work with Muggles and Muggle things all the time,” Arthur said excitedly. “It sounds like a brilliant job, just full of interesting things to learn and see, and meeting with Muggles.”
Molly nodded. “I see. What other classes are you taking?”
“History of Magic, Charms, Transfiguration, and Defence Against the Dark Arts. I had an O.W.L. in Care of Magical Creatures as well, and Potions and Herbology of course, but I didn’t continue them through N.E.W.T. What have you got?” Arthur was quite pleased with himself for managing to make intelligible conversation with Molly Prewett for this long. It was easier than he’d expected it to be. She was so smart and sweet, he loved talking to her, and was feeling quite at ease, though a small part of his mind was still jumping up and down and shouting, Miss Prewett! Walking with me! Talking with me!
“Well, I have Charms, Transfiguration, and Defence with you,” Molly began, and Arthur nodded. He was well aware of sharing three of his classes with Molly Prewett. “And I take Potions and Arithmancy. I was going to drop Defence, but then there have been so many rumours lately out there…” She waved a hand vaguely to indicate the world outside Hogwarts, looking troubled. “So I decided to keep going with it. Just in case.”
Arthur nodded. “Yes, I thought about dropping it as well. I do want to be able to defend myself, with the ways things are headed out there. I’ve heard things from my brothers, rumours from abroad.”
"My mum says it's going to be Grindelwald all over again," Molly said worriedly.
They had reached the portrait hole, and the Fat Lady gazed at them expectantly. “Fidelitas,” Molly said clearly.
The portrait swung open, and Molly and Arthur climbed through. Arthur paused when they were in the common room. It was mostly empty, many of the younger students having gone to bed already. A few fifth years were still up, doing homework and looking harassed at the amount of work they were being set.
“Well, good night Arthur,” Molly said, giving him a sweet smile. “Thank you for walking me back.”
“You’re quite welcome, Molly. Good night.” He watched her go up the steps to the girls’ dormitory, and then sighed happily and went to his own dormitory.
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