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Chapter 11: Sunny
Bobby Hebb, “Sunny”
Sunny, yesterday my life was filled with rain.
Sunny, you smiled at me and really eased the pain.
The dark days are gone, and the bright days are here,
My Sunny one shines so sincere.
Arthur cornered Reid before History of Magic to ask about the secret passageways into Hogsmeade. He had avoided using them in the past, because there just wasn’t that much in Hogsmeade that he wanted to do that he needed to sneak in on weekends. He’d always spent most of his free time either watching Molly Prewett (not stalking her, he reassured himself, just watching) or chatting with the Muggle-born students. The idea of sneaking into the village had never much appealed to him. Now, sneaking into a Muggle village…. That he would have jumped at, but he was content with the Hogsmeade weekends the students were allowed.
Reid seemed pleased to be asked, and even more pleased that Arthur was planning to sneak out of the castle.
“It’s about bloody time, son,” he said, then asked eagerly, “What have you got planned? Do you need a sidekick? You know I’m always available for some recreational rule-breaking.”
“I’m not sneaking out for mischief, I’m buying Molly a birthday present,” Arthur admitted.
“Oh.” Reid looked slightly disappointed, and rolled his eyes. “I might’ve known. Well, my favourite is behind the mirror on the fourth floor. It’s in a secluded corner there and hardly anyone walks by, so you can sneak in and out quite safely. It takes you out near the train station, so you can just stroll into the village from there.”
Arthur was nodding, but Reid continued before he could say anything.
“There’s one behind the statue of Gregory the Smarmy that’ll take you out behind Dervish and Banges, and then there’s one behind the one-eyed witch on the third floor. That one takes you to the basement of Honeydukes. I don’t like that one after hours, of course, it’s so hard to sneak back into Honeydukes when they’re closed. I’ve nearly been caught a few times when I’ve used that one,” Reid smiled nostalgically.
“Right.” Arthur surveyed his friend in amazement. “How do you have time to do all this sneaking about and take eleven N.E.W.T.s?”
“Merlin’s beard, I should think that was obvious. It’s magic.” Reid grinned at him.
Arthur shook his head and laughed.
Arthur spent the evening studying for the next day’s Muggle Studies test in the common room, with Molly sitting on the sofa next to him, her back against the arm of the sofa and her bare feet tucked under his leg for warmth. She had a book propped open on her knees, and was reading intently in her Potions textbook, a tiny frown creasing her brow as she made notes on a sheet of parchment. It was their first attempt at studying together, because Arthur could no longer concentrate even without her around, so he figured he may as well not get his homework done with her beside him instead of not getting it done without her. They were doing fairly well. He’d made it through the entire last chapter without having to re-read anything.
Petula was sitting sideways in one of the chairs next to the sofa, her legs draped across the arm of the chair, her feet wiggling and kicking as she read, nose hidden in her own Muggle Studies textbook.
Arthur and Molly both jumped when Petula suddenly slammed her book shut and dropped it on the floor next to the chair.
“I can’t even see straight anymore,” she complained. “It’s entirely too late to study, I’m going to bed.”
“See you tomorrow, Petula,” Arthur said.
“Good night, Arthur. Good night, Molly.” She headed for the stairs to the girls’ dormitory, leaving her book on the floor.
“Good night, Petula,” Molly called after her. “I’ll just bring your book up for you, then, shall I?”
Petula waved unconcernedly and disappeared up the stairs.
Molly sighed and wiggled her toes under Arthur’s leg. “I suppose I ought to go to bed as well.”
Arthur’s imagination immediately shot into overdrive, picturing her lying in bed in a silky nightdress, her fiery curls spread across the pillow, but he quashed the thought before his brain could add himself to the picture. He really needed to get control of his thoughts.
“I probably should as well,” he said.
Molly didn’t move though. She was watching him with an almost distant expression, and he wondered what she was thinking about. The look in her eyes seemed close to the look she’d had when she pulled him into the alley in Hogsmeade. They stared at each other for a moment in silence.
Arthur put a hand on her calf then, and the look in her eyes reminded him even more strongly of their Hogsmeade kiss, so he leaned over to her and kissed her. She put a hand on his cheek as she kissed him back.
He was just starting to scoot a little closer to her to deepen the kiss when he heard Dunstan’s voice calling out cheerfully, “Merlin’s pants! Right in the middle of the common room! Nobody wants to see that!”
Arthur pulled back quickly and Molly sat up a little straighter, swinging her legs down off the sofa. Dunstan grinned at them.
Molly reached down to scoop up Petula’s abandoned book, and smiled at Arthur. “Good night, Arthur.”
“Good night, Molly.” He wanted to kiss her again, but the moment seemed to have passed, thanks to Dunstan.
She disappeared up the stairs to the girls’ dormitory, and Arthur picked up his book from where he had apparently dropped it at some point during their kiss. He didn’t remember setting it down. He started for his own dormitory, and Dunstan followed him with a particularly evil grin on his face.
“In the middle of the common room,” Dunstan repeated, laughing, as he followed Arthur up the stairs. “I can’t tell you how proud I am.”
“Shut it, you,” Arthur said, but without rancour. He couldn’t help grinning. Snogging Molly Prewett in the middle of the common room was something of a dream come true, after all.
Their dormitory was empty but for Reid. He was propped up on his bed, knees bent, with a book open on his lap, quite unabashedly wearing yellow pyjamas with ridiculous little cowboys all over them. He must have been in their dormitory studying all evening; Arthur hadn’t seen him since dinner and hadn’t even really noticed his friend’s absence. Molly was a great distraction.
Arthur dropped his book onto the lid of his trunk, and kicked off his shoes as he sat down on his bed. One skidded across the floor and under Dunstan’s bed, but Arthur didn’t really notice.
“So, snogging all over the castle, must be love, eh?” Dunstan’s wicked grin was obscured briefly by his shirt as he changed into his pyjamas.
“Who’s snogging all over the castle?” Reid asked, peering at them over the top of his book.
“Arthur and Molly,” Dunstan told him.
“Oh.” Reid didn’t look surprised, and went back to reading.
“Cecilia told me Molly’s birthday is this Sunday,” Dunstan said. “What are you getting her, Arthur?”
“Cecilia talked to you?” Reid said, looking up at them again.
“Yes. She only hates you, remember?” Dunstan told him politely. “She’s perfectly happy to talk to the rest of us.”
Reid scowled at him. “You’re just jealous because she loves me.” He hid behind his book again.
Dunstan turned back to Arthur, who was now fishing his pyjamas out of his trunk. They appeared to be stuck on something, and he had to tug on them to get them loose. Giving his trunk a little kick, he sat down on his bed.
“So, what are you getting Molly for her birthday?” Dunstan asked again.
“I don’t know,” Arthur admitted as he changed into his pyjamas, leaving his dirty clothes in a heap on the floor next to his bed. Like many teenage boys, Arthur seemed to think clothing and bedrooms were self-cleaning, much to his mother’s exasperation. “I haven’t thought of anything brilliant yet.”
“Lingerie,” Dunstan said immediately as he jumped onto his bed and stretched out comfortably.
“I am not getting her lingerie,” Arthur said definitely. This was dangerously close to his line of thinking earlier, and he was determined to avoid it. If he was thinking along the same lines as Dunstan, that surely had to be a bad sign.
“Chocolates,” Reid suggested, closing his book.
“Oh, that’s overdone,” Dunstan scoffed. “Everyone buys chocolates. Her friends will probably buy her chocolates. Buy her some lingerie.”
“Don’t listen to him, he’s an idiot,” Reid said.
“Who’s an idiot? And did I hear someone mention lingerie?” Roderick Feltham came in and tossed his bookbag on his bed.
“Arthur’s getting some for Molly Prewett for her birthday,” Dunstan told him.
“I am not,” Arthur said, exasperated.
Roddy grinned. “She’d probably slap you if you did. You’re not really going to take advice on women from these two, are you?”
Reid looked up at Roddy, clearly annoyed. “Why not? I know a lot about women.”
“I wish I could believe that, firecracker boy,” Roddy said gravely.
Arthur rolled his eyes. “I don’t need advice on women; I just need an idea for a birthday present.”
“Jewellery. Girls like jewellery,” Reid suggested.
“Hattie suggested jewellery as well,” Arthur said. “I think that might be the best idea.”
“Well, that depends on the jewellery,” Roddy said thoughtfully. “Jewellery conveys a message, so it depends on what you want the gift to say. You could buy her a ring –”
Arthur shook his head. “I think a ring says too much. We’ve only just started going together. It isn’t even official yet.”
“You snogged her on the sofa in the common room,” Dunstan pointed out dryly. “How much more official do you need to be?”
Roddy had ignored this aside as he considered the birthday present dilemma more carefully, sitting down on top of his trunk and starting to untie his shoelaces. “Jewellery is good, actually. A bracelet, maybe. Or a necklace.” He looked thoughtful. “A necklace says you care for her, but isn’t a huge commitment or moving too fast.”
“Yes, it is,” Dunstan insisted. “Any jewellery is a commitment. If you buy a woman jewellery, she thinks you want to marry her.”
“Arthur does want to marry her,” Reid pointed out, and Roddy nodded.
“What?” Arthur squawked. How did they know that? He hadn’t said anything. Was he talking in his sleep? Now that was a horrifying possibility.
“Dunstan, you suggested lingerie, and you want to quibble over the meaning of jewellery?” Roddy said, rolling his eyes. “What do you think lingerie says?”
Dunstan shrugged. “That he wants to snog her senseless.”
“Lingerie says he thinks she’s a tart, unless they’re married,” Roddy told him. “Then lingerie is all right.”
Arthur flopped back on his bed and put his pillow over his face. His friends were insane, and the conversation had, as usual, spiralled out of control. He regretted ever allowing the topic of a birthday gift for Molly to come up. He might as well go to sleep; he wasn’t going to get anything helpful out of these idiots. He switched the pillow to under his head then and removed his glasses, setting them on the table next to his bed, while his friends continued to argue about lingerie and jewellery.
Thaddeus came in then, looking thoroughly exhausted, and collapsed facedown on his bed without even taking off his shoes.
“Are you dead, Thad?” Roddy asked him, grinning.
Thad mumbled incoherently at him, his voice muffled by the pillow, and lifted a hand, waving vaguely at Roddy.
“Bit tired there?” Dunstan chuckled. “Night then, Thad.”
Thad reached up without raising his head, fumbling for the curtain to his four-poster and pulling it shut half-heartedly.
Arthur grinned at him and pulled his own curtains shut.
He managed to sneak out to Hogsmeade two days later. He had to skive off History of Magic to do so, since the shops he wanted to visit wouldn’t be open if he waited until after dinner to sneak out. However, skiving off Professor Binns’ class didn’t sound like much of a hardship when compared with buying the perfect gift for Molly, so he cheerfully made his way to the mirror on the fourth floor. It was easy to get into the secret passageway unnoticed, and he was quite pleased with the cover it provided for coming back into the castle unnoticed. The mirror was in a tiny corner, partially obscured by a tapestry, and he could sneak back out behind the tapestry and make sure the coast was clear.
The walk into Hogsmeade seemed twice as long down the long, dark tunnel. When he finally reached the end of the tunnel, he found himself climbing out at Hogsmeade Station. He glanced around at the few people around, but no one seemed to have noticed him appearing. He needed to find something today, since sneaking out twice in one week seemed highly dangerous, and he didn’t want to take a lot of time in case he was caught, so he determined to buy something, even if it wound up being only a box of Honeydukes chocolates. At least he knew what sweets she liked after visiting Hogsmeade with her.
He set off down the lane into the village and went into Gladrags, which had a corner display of jewellery, his mind still dwelling on Hattie’s suggestion. She had said Molly would think jewellery was romantic, and that sounded good to him. Reid had suggested it as well, but he was inclined to listen to Hattie’s advice more than that of, as Roddy termed him, firecracker boy.
The witch behind the counter in Gladrags smiled kindly at him when she saw him looking at the jewellery. “Do you need help, young man?” she asked, coming over to stand next to the jewellery display.
“I need a gift for, erm, my girlfriend,” he said, feeling a little stupid, and then added in a rush of honesty, “well, she isn’t my girlfriend yet, we’ve only been on one date, but I want her to be my girlfriend, and it’s her birthday, she’s coming of age, and-”
The witch laughed. “I see. I’m sure we have something that will do.”
Arthur left the shop a short time later with a small parcel, wrapped specially by the helpful saleswitch in festively coloured paper and ribbons, his step light and bouncy, and ran smack into Molly’s little brothers.
They all stared at each other for a moment warily, Arthur noting the Zonko’s and Honeydukes bags in Fabian’s hand, and the twins noting the small bag in Arthur’s hand.
At last Gideon glanced at his brother and then said, “We won’t tell if you won’t.”
“Right,” Arthur said. They stared at each other again, then Arthur said, “I’m going to have a surprise party for your sister this Sunday evening, in the common room.”
“Right,” Fabian said. “We’ll be there.”
“Right,” Arthur said again, adding somewhat awkwardly, “Well, see you later, then.”
They split off in opposite directions. Arthur wondered which secret passageway the twins had managed to find, and shook his head at their mischief as he climbed down into the passageway near the station and started the long dark walk back to the castle. The walk seemed shorter now that he’d found a gift. He was eager to get back to the castle and start planning the surprise party.
A/N: A thank you to my husband for giving me some rather frightening insight into what sort of thing teenage boys talk about when they're alone. I might have nightmares. ;)