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Chapter 12: My Love
Petula Clark, “My Love”
My love is brighter than the brightest star
That shines every night above
And there is nothing in this world
That can ever change my love
Molly slept late on her birthday. It was a Sunday after all, and she was of age now and felt she was perfectly entitled to sleep late instead of waking to do homework before lunch like she normally did, being a responsible morning person and all. She’d had a lovely day at the Quidditch match yesterday in company of Arthur and all their friends, watching Hufflepuff get soundly beaten by Ravenclaw, which apparently helped Gryffindor’s standing somehow, though the explanation for that had been beyond her – she’d stopped listening and just watched Arthur fondly as he gestured animatedly while trying to explain it. She wasn’t a big Quidditch fan, but it had still been a good time, and Arthur clearly enjoyed Quidditch very much and she liked to see him happy. Then she’d had a study group for Defence with Arthur, Cecilia, Petula, Dunstan, and Reid in the library until late into the night, so she was quite exhausted anyway and inclined to have a lie-in. There was a small pile of gifts at the foot of her bed when she finally woke, and she sat up with a smile and started to open them.
There was a lovely, delicate silver watch from her parents, a large pile of sweets from her brothers, new copies of her two favourite novels by the late Fifi LaFolle from Hattie (she’d worn her original copies out reading them over the summer), a fuzzy purple hat from Petula, a box of Chocoballs from Siobhan, and a large box of soft, brightly coloured yarns from Cecilia. There was nothing from Arthur. She frowned as she fastened the watch around her wrist. Why wouldn’t he give her a birthday gift? She was seventeen now, it was an important birthday, and he was very nearly, for all intents and purposes, her boyfriend. Perhaps she should have told him he was.
Maybe he was waiting to give it to her in person. She cheered up at the thought and hopped out of her bed, getting dressed quickly. She put her new hat on and went downstairs, where her friends were sitting in front of the fireplace with Arthur and Dunstan. Reid was mercifully absent, and Molly was glad because Cecilia would actually be somewhat pleasant for her birthday.
They wished her a happy birthday as she sat down next to Arthur on the sofa, and she smiled at all of them. Arthur kissed her cheek, and she smiled up at him softly. Surely he had a gift for her, he was so sweet and she knew he fancied her. They spent half their time kissing these days. Of course he had something. The gift wasn’t really important; she just wanted to know he’d thought of her. But surely, he must have gotten her something.
She spent the day outside on the grounds with her friends and Arthur, watching the giant squid sunning itself in the shallow waters at the banks of the lake. Cosmo showed off his juggling skills to entertain them, and Reid and Cecilia bickered after he joined the group in the afternoon. As they all walked back up to the castle shortly before dinner, Arthur slipped away. Molly tried to ask him where he was going, but he simply waved to her with a big smile and ducked behind a tapestry for a shortcut as she was carried along by the momentum of the group. She frowned but went ahead to the Great Hall with the rest of the girls, and Arthur’s friends sat with them at dinner again so she assumed he would be back shortly. He still hadn’t given her a gift, or mentioned it at all.
But Arthur didn’t come back for dinner. Dunstan told her vaguely that he’d had something to do when she kept looking over her shoulder for him. She frowned at that but Cecilia and Siobhan had started arguing rather loudly about Cecilia nagging Siobhan to stop swearing and Molly was distracted, jumping in to defend Cecilia.
After dinner Hattie announced that she needed to make a stop in the girls’ bathroom and Molly went along while the other girls went up to the common room. Hattie spent a long time agonizing over her hair while Molly waited.
“Arthur didn’t give me a birthday gift,” she told Hattie quietly after Hattie had finished muttering over her hair being too frizzy.
Hattie looked startled and a little guilty, looking up at Molly in the mirror. “I’m sure he has one, Molly. He must be waiting for the perfect time to give it to you.”
Molly sighed. “I should tell him I love him. Do you think I should tell him?”
“I don’t know, Molly.” Hattie turned around and leaned against the sink. “I think he loves you too, so he’ll probably say it back.”
Molly’s stomach contracted at the thought of telling Arthur she loved him and him not saying it back. “What if he doesn’t?” she worried. “Maybe I won’t tell him.”
“Well, just see how things go tonight, and maybe you’ll know what to do,” Hattie said.
“Tonight? Why tonight?”
Hattie looked a little guilty again and said, “Nothing. Come on, let’s go back to the common room.”
Molly trudged up the staircase to the Fat Lady behind her best friend. Hattie gave the password and climbed through first, and Molly followed after her. She had just straightened up when she heard a loud chorus of “Surprise!”
Molly’s heart jumped and she gasped, putting a hand to her chest. “Oh my…”
Her friends had rushed forward to hug her, all smiling and laughing.
“Happy birthday, Molly,” Cecilia said.
“Thank you,” Molly said weakly. “Did you all plan this just for me?”
“Not us, Arthur planned it,” Petula told her.
Molly turned and found Arthur sitting on the arm of the chair nearest her, grinning and looking quite pleased with himself. She looked around the common room and took in the decorations, the “Happy Birthday Molly!” banner, and the large table full of food and drinks. How on earth had he gotten butterbeers? Nearly every Gryffindor was there, even though she didn’t even know the names of most of the younger students. Even her brothers were there, looking relatively clean and mischief-free, and smiling at her.
“Happy birthday, Molly,” Arthur said, still grinning proudly.
“Oh, Arthur…” Molly went over to kiss him softly, and there were hoots and catcalls from the rest of the Gryffindors. Fabian seemed to have developed a tic in his right eye at watching his sister kissing someone, and Gideon looked moderately disgusted.
It didn’t take long for the party to go into full swing. Someone had brought out a wizarding wireless radio and was playing loud music, and Molly’s brothers set off a display of Filibuster’s fireworks in Molly’s favourite colours. She sat on the sofa with Arthur and Hattie, laughing and talking, while a few students danced to the music and Dunstan played Exploding Snap with Roddy and Cosmo. The Gryffindors were milling around, talking loudly and enjoying themselves. Molly didn’t know half the people at the party and figured they’d just wanted to have some fun and didn’t actually care about her birthday, but she didn’t mind.
Molly heard a Celestina Warbeck song come on over the wireless later, and bounced excitedly on the sofa, interrupting Hattie in mid-sentence.
“I love Celestina!”
Hattie laughed. “I know you do.”
Arthur looked slightly surprised by this announcement, but he didn’t say anything. Molly grabbed his hand and stood up. “Oh, let’s dance, Arthur.”
Hattie gave him a little shove and Arthur got to his feet, looking a little uncertain.
Molly had always liked to think she was a good dancer, and she dragged Arthur over behind the sofa where there was more clear space with much more confidence than he seemed to have. Thaddeus was dancing with fifth-year Francine Allen, who played on the Quidditch team with him as a Chaser, and he grinned at Molly and Arthur when they joined him. Francine was teaching him a new Muggle dance step, and Molly picked it up quickly. Arthur wasn’t a good dancer, but he was willing to try. She wasn’t sure if that was his desire to dance with her or his obsession with all things Muggle. Maybe both. She had to laugh at him though as he clumsily tried to imitate Francine.
Professor McGonagall stopped by at ten o’clock to tell them to go to bed, and things started to die down when she took the wireless away with her. Most of the younger students went to bed after that, leaving the older students to their quiet corners of the common room.
“We should do something special tonight for your birthday,” Arthur mused.
“More special than a birthday party, you mean?” Molly was cuddled up with him on the sofa in front of the fire, leaning her head on his shoulder and holding hands with him. She was enjoying spending some close time together, and had completely forgotten that he still hadn’t given her a birthday gift. Hattie and Petula had both gone to bed, Siobhan was sitting on Roddy’s lap in a chair by the window, and Cecilia had departed for bed in high dudgeon when Reid offered to protect her from the last of the twins’ fireworks. Reid had then ensconced himself in a chair next to the table of food and was finishing off the last of the butterbeer by himself. The twins had disappeared at about the same time as McGonagall appeared; Molly had no idea where her brothers had gotten to, but she didn’t particularly care, since Arthur had her full attention.
“Go out with me tonight,” Arthur said, giving her hand a squeeze.
“We already are going out together tonight,” Molly pointed out, lifting her head to look up at him. “We can’t stay up too late though, we have classes tomorrow morning.”
“No, Molly, out,” he said with a devilish grin. “Out of the common room, I mean. We can go up to the Astronomy tower and look at the stars.”
Molly gave him a scandalized look. “We can’t do that! It’s against school rules!”
“Of course we can, if we don’t get caught.”
She shook her head. “We can’t go out after curfew. We’ll be caught.”
“I promise, I won’t let us get caught. I wouldn’t let anything happen to you, Molly.”
He looked so sincere. Molly chewed her fingernail while she thought it over. She wasn’t sure it was a good idea; they would be in such trouble if they were caught, but she loved him so… And the Astronomy tower at night sounded so romantic… And it was her birthday, after all…
“All right,” she said uncertainly.
Arthur gave her a quick hug. “It’ll be fun, you’ll see.”
They waited until just after eleven o’clock before sneaking out the portrait hole, after Gryffindor tower had been nearly empty (except Siobhan and Roddy, but they hadn’t noticed a thing), with Arthur going first to make sure the coast was clear. They took a few shortcuts down secret passageways, and Molly was impressed by Arthur’s knowledge of the castle. She tended to take direct routes, and didn’t bother much with the secret passages that a lot of students used, but Arthur apparently was more comfortable with taking the hidden routes and being behind the scenes.
They reached the Astronomy tower without being seen, and without seeing a hint of Mr. Pringle, and Molly had started to relax by the time they emerged onto the roof of the tower. It was a beautiful night. She turned to see Arthur staring up at the stars, and he looked down at her as if he felt her gaze on him.
“This was a good idea,” she told him, smiling. “It’s so beautiful.”
Arthur took a step closer to her so they were standing very close together, and reached into his pocket. Molly let out a soft “oh!” of surprise; he had a gift for her after all.
“I hope you like it,” he said uncertainly. She thought he might actually be nervous over giving her his gift. No wonder he’d waited so long. But she was glad he had waited, this was just perfect.
She unwrapped the small box and recognized it as a jewellery box. She glanced up at him in surprise; he looked very anxious now. She opened the box and saw a delicate silver chain with a small heart charm inside. It was beautiful. She drew it out of the box and held it up, smiling.
“Oh, Arthur, it’s lovely,” she breathed.
“Happy birthday, Molly,” he said softly.
“Thank you, Arthur,” she said, putting her arms around his neck, the necklace still clutched in one hand and the empty box in the other. He felt warm, and he smelled good. She stared into his eyes, hoping he would kiss her. Oh, forget it, she thought; she may as well kiss him first.
She stood on tiptoe and kissed him enthusiastically. He made a small growl in the back of his throat that made her giggle, wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted her up off the ground, kissing her soundly.
After they’d broken apart, Molly was tempted to tell him she was falling in love with him, but held back. It had only been a few weeks, and while she suspected he would be happy to hear it, she wasn’t sure. She wasn’t quite brave enough to say it without being sure of a positive response.
He wrapped her up in his cloak then, with one arm behind her back and the other holding her hand against his chest, and Molly sighed and leaned her cheek on him. It felt so good to be in his arms, and it was so romantic up on the tower under the stars, she simply had to say something about loving him, but she changed it so it came out, “I love to be with you, Arthur.”
She could hear his heart beating a little faster at that, and smiled as she pulled her head away to look up at him.
“I love it too,” he said, his voice low and a little rough, and Molly reached up to meet his kiss.
When they had broken apart again, he gave her a hopeful look and asked, “Does this mean we’re going out now? Officially?”
“I don’t know,” Molly said. “Are we?”
Her own heart was racing a bit now too. She was staring at his eyes, and their blue looked quite dark, with only the stars and the full moon to light the tower. He was staring at her very intently.
“Will you be my girlfriend, Molly Prewett?” Arthur asked softly, his thumb rubbing gently over her knuckles.
Molly smiled up at him through her lashes. “Yes, Arthur.”
He smiled with a mixture of relief and happiness, and leaned down to kiss her again.
They spent a while longer up on the Astronomy tower, curled up together under a blanket that Molly had conjured, watching the stars in each other’s arms and occasionally forgetting about the stars and kissing. Eventually Molly remembered that they had class the next day and dragged Arthur back down into the castle. Fortunately, they managed to make it back to Gryffindor Tower without being seen, since it was nearly one o’clock in the morning. The Fat Lady sniffed disapprovingly at them and threatened to change the password at midnight if they came back so late again.
They stopped in the common room at the base of the stairs to the girls’ dormitory. The common room was completely deserted now, even dedicated snoggers like Siobhan having already gone to bed. Everyone seemed to have worn themselves out at the party.
Molly slipped her hand away from Arthur’s and wrapped her arms around his waist to hug him close. He held her tightly and kissed the top of her head.
“Thank you for a wonderful birthday,” she said softly, pulling back enough to look up at him.
“You’re welcome, Molly. Good night.” He bent down to kiss her.
Molly went up the stairs as quietly as she could, trying not to wake any of the other Gryffindors. Her roommates were all asleep, Petula sprawled out as usual with one leg dangling off the bed and Hattie curled up under a mound of blankets. She tip-toed across the room and changed quickly into her pyjamas, then crawled into bed, still feeling warm from Arthur’s kisses on the Astronomy tower.
Stretching out under the blankets and wiggling her toes, she closed her eyes with a contented smile. This had been the best birthday ever.