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Chapter 17: To Sir, With Love
Lulu, “To Sir With Love”
If you wanted the sky I would write across the sky in letters
That would soar a thousand feet high 'To Sir, With Love'
If you wanted the moon I would try to make a start
But I would rather you let me give my heart 'To Sir, With Love'
Molly and Arthur walked hand in hand back to the train station after the concert, hurrying down the street as the concert hall began to empty and smiling witches and wizards filled the streets of Hogsmeade. Arthur kept glancing over his shoulder, and Molly knew he was trying to keep an eye out for signs of the headmaster.
She sighed quietly as they reached the outskirts of the village where a dark Hogsmeade Station waited for them. The crowd hadn’t reached this part of the village yet, and they were quite alone as they approached the empty train station. Arthur found the entrance to the secret passageway again quickly, which made her wonder how many times he’d snuck into the village. She would have to put a stop to that, she thought with a small frown. If he got expelled, she didn’t know what she’d do.
The concert hadn’t panned out, unfortunately. She had been so excited to see the tickets in his hand and Celestina’s name on the marquee, and though it had been a sharp disappointment when they found themselves locked out in the damp and dingy courtyard behind the hall, with the trees crowding around the little patch of grass, Molly had tried to make the best of it. At least she’d gotten to hear Celestina, and spending an entire evening cuddled up with Arthur on a blanket had of course been wonderful. She was sure if her mother had seen them lying there in each other’s arms, she would have made sure Molly didn't see the light of day for weeks. Molly had never been quite that close to a boy for an entire evening. Not in a prone position, anyway. She didn’t know what came over her when she was with Arthur, but she forgot all propriety as soon as he touched her.
“It’s only eleven,” she said suddenly, and Arthur looked up at her questioningly.
“Yes? We have class in the morning,” he reminded her, but he was starting to look hopeful.
“We could do something else… Maybe go to the Three Broomsticks,” Molly suggested. She wasn’t quite ready to let go of the evening.
Arthur’s face fell a bit. “What if Dumbledore’s there?”
“Oh yes.” Molly was disappointed. “It’s a shame we can’t Apparate yet,” she added. “We could go to Diagon Alley or something.”
“It is a shame,” he agreed, then took her hand again. “Let’s go see about the Three Broomsticks. Maybe he went straight back to Hogwarts.”
Molly perked up. “Or to the Hog’s Head. We could go there if Professor Dumbledore is in the Three Broomsticks. Let’s not go back to school just yet, though. It’s so early. We can always sneak back in later tonight.”
Arthur smiled at her. “I can see your brothers have had a bad influence on you after all.”
The Three Broomsticks was hopping with a post-concert revel, but Professor Dumbledore was nowhere to be seen. Molly and Arthur found a small table near the fireplace, next to a large Christmas tree, which effectively hid them from view of most of the room. After a few glasses of mead, Molly had quite forgotten about the headmaster and everyone else in the room, and there seemed to be only her and Arthur in the world, laughing and joking together and taking sips of each other’s drinks in the warm glow of the fire. It seemed only a short time before Madame Rosmerta announced last call, and Molly realized with a start that it was half past two.
She took a peek out the front window to make sure the coast was clear while Arthur paid their tab. There were still quite a lot of people out, but she had never been in Hogsmeade this late before so she had no idea if that was unusual. She rather thought it was, since they seemed to be witches and wizards from the concert. There did not seem to be any trace of the headmaster that she could see, but she still felt warm and happy from the mead and found she wasn’t worried about running into him any longer.
Molly was in an ebullient mood by the time they left the pub and headed toward the train station for the second time that evening, and walked along next to Arthur with a little skip in her step. The mead had nearly worn off, but she still felt quite free and uninhibited, and started to sing as they walked along, breaking into one of Celestina’s latest hits from the concert. Arthur was grinning at her, and she knew she was off-key, but he didn’t seem to mind.
She stopped singing as they reached the train station, and grabbed his arm to stop him before they climbed the stairs into the dark station.
“Thank you for the concert, Arthur,” she said. “And for a lovely evening.”
“You’re welcome,” he said, grinning down at her. “I’m sorry we didn’t actually get to see the concert, though.”
Impulsively, she threw her arms around him and started to kiss along his jaw. His bristly cheek felt strange against her lips, but she kept going. “Thank you anyway. You’re so good to me.”
Arthur hugged her tightly and lifted her up, and she kicked her feet up and kissed him again, and he kissed her back until she’d nearly forgotten why she’d been kissing him in the first place.
When he set her down, he said on a sigh, “Oh, I do love you, Molly.”
Molly froze, her hands still on his shoulders. “What?”
Arthur looked slightly horrified, his eyes wide as he stared down at her. “Merlin’s beard!”
“You said you love me,” she said, stunned. That had been the last thing she’d been expecting. Obviously he hadn’t meant to say it, from the look on his face.
“What? I-I did, didn’t I,” Arthur stuttered. “I did say that. I, erm…”
“You did say it.” Molly was completely amazed. He loved her. Not just fancied her, but loved her. “Did you mean it?”
Arthur looked a little panicky. “Mean it?”
Molly was getting a little annoyed now. He’d said it, and now she wanted to say it back. She put her hands on her hips as she waited for him to admit he’d meant it. “Yes, Arthur, did you mean what you said?”
He glanced around as if looking for someone to rescue him, then said helplessly, “Yes, I meant it.”
Molly threw herself back into his arms. “I love you too, Arthur!”
Arthur sagged a little as he hugged her back, and said again, this time sounding very relieved, “Merlin’s beard.”
Molly sat in Arithmancy Friday morning, her chin propped up on her hand, staring blankly at her professor and daydreaming. She hadn’t heard a word of the lecture.
Arthur had said that getting in trouble could be worth the punishment, and she’d discovered that he was right, although they hadn’t gotten in trouble last night. It had been a near thing, though. Who would have thought, Molly Prewett, out of her dormitory at three o’clock in the morning, sneaking back into Gryffindor tower, after spending a night out with a boy… She smiled. With Arthur Weasley. And he loved her.
She started doodling on her paper instead of taking notes. Molly Prewett and Arthur Weasley. She drew a heart around their names, and then wrote, Mrs. Arthur Weasley. Molly Prewett Weasley. She stared at that for a few moments with a pleased smile, and then wrote again.
Sighing heavily at her own silliness, she vanished the writing off the page before anyone else saw it. She couldn’t believe she wasn’t paying attention in class, in Arithmancy of all places, and right after she’d lectured Arthur about needing to focus on schoolwork more. Thank goodness Hattie and Cecilia took Arithmancy as well and she could borrow their notes, but she’d better pull herself together before Potions.
She wondered how many other students in the castle snuck out at night. She knew Siobhan was regularly out after curfew with whomever she happened to be snogging at the time. But there must be more of them out there late at night, in dark corners. Maybe the rest of them stayed in their common rooms. They were missing out on some fun out in the castle at night.
Molly tried to pay attention again, but Professor Arccos was scribbling a rather complicated-looking equation on the board, and she had no idea what it was about, so she went back to her doodles.
Hattie finally realized Molly was drawing hearts instead of paying attention, and elbowed her sharply. Molly glanced over at her and smiled. Hattie reached over and wrote on Molly’s sheet of parchment, What is going on?
Molly grinned and wrote back, Arthur said he loves me!
Hattie let out a tiny gasp, her eyes wide, and wrote, Did you say it back?
Molly nodded excitedly and Hattie gave her a little hug, then wrote, Tell me about it after class. Pay attention now or you’re going to fail your N.E.W.T.s.
Molly and Hattie walked arm-in-arm to the library after Arithmancy, whispering to each other the entire way. Molly told her all about the concert, and ended her story with how Arthur had declared his love for her.
“Then I kissed him, and he lifted me up to kiss me back, and when he put me down again he said he loves me.” Molly sighed, smiling. “It was wonderful. I told him I love him too, and we kissed again, and oh, Hattie, it was the most romantic night of my life.”
“It does sound wonderfully romantic,” Hattie agreed. “It’s funny that Professor Dumbledore was there, Petula was just saying last night that you’d be lucky not to be seen at the concert, and if it were her, one of the teachers would be sure to show up and she’d be expelled.”
“Oh yes,” Molly remembered suddenly, “I wanted to thank you girls for doing my homework for me last night.”
“Don’t be silly, we were happy to help. But you know, Siobhan and Cecilia are counting that as their Christmas present to you.”
“It was a lovely gift. You don’t have to get me anything either, dear, last night was quite enough.”
Hattie gave her hand a little pat. “No, you can buy me a drink tomorrow in Hogsmeade and we’ll call it square on last night. You know Christmas is my favourite holiday, I’m not about to count a little homework as an actual gift.”
Molly grinned at her friend. Hattie always went all-out for Christmas. Her presents were amazing, beautifully wrapped and always carefully chosen to be just what you wanted. Siobhan often complained that one couldn’t even try to compete with Hattie, because she played in an entirely different league than everyone else. “If you knew what a good kisser Arthur was, you’d count giving me an evening with him as an actual gift.”
Hattie laughed. “What time did you get to bed? I didn’t hear you come in.”
“It was around three,” Molly admitted.
Hattie raised her eyebrows in surprise. “Three o’clock in the morning? No wonder you missed breakfast.”
Molly had overslept and had barely made it to class on time that morning. She was starving now and couldn’t wait for lunch, but she had some chocolate in her bookbag and planned to have a snack in the library while they studied until lunch. Maybe Arthur would join them. She hadn’t seen him yet today, which had been the worst part of oversleeping for her. She wasn’t sure she’d get any studying done if he was there, but Hattie would keep them in line. Hopefully.
They found a spot in the library in the back corner, and Molly pulled out a slab of Honeydukes chocolate from her bookbag and broke off a piece for Hattie and then one for herself. Hattie hadn’t missed breakfast, but she never said no to chocolate.
“Thanks,” Hattie said, taking a bite as she pulled out her books. “We need to write that essay for Transfiguration, and then we can get started on our Potions homework.”
“Right.” Molly was rummaging in her bag for her Transfiguration notes. “I saw a book on human transfiguration last time I was in the library that looked helpful. Over by the table with the broken light.”
“I’ll go look for it.” Hattie stood and walked off while Molly kept looking in her bag. Where were her notes? She could have sworn she’d put them in her bag this morning… But she’d been in such a rush, maybe she’d grabbed something else by mistake. There were her Charms notes, what were they doing in here? She pulled them out and set them on the desk to get them out of the way, and was about to pull out her Potions notes as well when she heard footsteps approaching.
“Did you find the book?” she asked without looking up, assuming it was Hattie coming back.
She dropped her bookbag and looked up. Arthur was standing there with a shy grin. “Arthur,” she said on a sigh, smiling at him.
“You weren’t at breakfast this morning,” he said.
“I overslept,” she admitted ruefully. “I nearly missed Arithmancy.”
“Oh. I see.” He looked pleased and a little relieved.
Molly frowned slightly. He was very nervous this morning, she thought. “Did you think I was avoiding you?”
“No,” he said quickly. “No, not at all.”
Obviously he had. She smiled at him and reached out to take his hand. “You’re so sweet, Arthur.”
His ears reddened a bit but he gave her hand a squeeze. “I thought maybe you might have…”
“Regretted saying I love you?” Molly said softly. “Of course not.”
“Oh good.” Arthur looked relieved. He was still a little red-faced. “I thought you might think I was an idiot for saying it like that.”
Molly laughed. “It was very sweet.”
“Well,” Arthur said, sounding slightly embarrassed but happy, and gave a little cough. “All right then. I do love you, you know.”
He seemed uncomfortable saying it again in the bright daylight of the library. Molly thought it was very endearing. If she hadn’t already loved him, she would have at seeing him so clearly ill at ease and yet he was still willing to say it.
“I love you too, Arthur,” she said softly, and saw his face relax.
“Molly, there’s this book called Human Transfiguration for Fun and Profit, but that can’t be the one you meant, it looks like something your brothers would use.” Hattie was looking down at the book cover as she approached. She noticed Arthur, who had dropped Molly’s hand at her appearance, and said, “Oh, hello Arthur.”
“Hello Hattie. Are you starting the Transfiguration essay?” He grabbed a chair from a nearby table and dragged it over to sit next to Molly as Hattie took her seat on Molly’s other side.
“Yes, it looked beastly and we wanted to get it over with,” Hattie said. “Care to join us? Cecilia should be here soon to help out as well.”
“Sure.” Arthur pulled his Transfiguration text out and started leafing through it to the chapter on human transfiguration while Molly retrieved her bookbag from the floor, giving Arthur a delighted smile. He leaned in to give her a quick kiss. Hattie pretended not to see, but she was smiling.
Molly was the last one down to Apparition lessons the next day, and found her friends waiting outside the Great Hall with Arthur and his friends. Even Cosmo was standing outside. They were just past halfway in the course of Apparition lessons, and it appeared the Hufflepuffs had had some sort of a mass break-through last week, since nearly all of them had Apparated at the same time as if they’d been choreographed. Cecilia had Apparated with perfect form the week after Reid did and was now successfully Apparating every time she tried, which had made her much easier to live with, and Siobhan had Apparated last week, possibly due to the help of the Owusu twins, who were both Hufflepuffs. Petula seemed to have given up hope of ever Apparating, but had splinched herself two more times, which had made her much more difficult to live with. Hattie and Molly had still not managed it. The Gryffindor boys had had better luck, as now three of them were able to Apparate: Reid, Thaddeus, and Roddy.
Molly only had time to say hello to their friends before the doors opened and the sixth-years flowed into the hall. Cosmo waved to them as they went in, and Molly thought he looked a bit forlorn as the doors closed, leaving him alone outside the Great Hall. It must be hard to be a year younger than most of your friends.
The Ministry witch was repeating the same instructions she gave every week. Molly listened half-heartedly; she had practically memorized this lecture but hadn’t Apparated yet, so she was getting a little cross hearing it again. What good did it do?
Cecilia was standing in front of her, dancing back and forth a little in anticipation. Molly watched her for a moment, but that only increased her level of irritation.
As soon as the Ministry witch called for everyone to try, Cecilia spun on the spot and Apparated flawlessly into her hoop, ending with a little flourish and a glance over her shoulder to make sure Reid had seen her perfect Apparition form. Molly frowned at her and then glared at her own hoop and turned over her left shoulder.
She immediately felt an intense pressure envelope her, and saw nothingness all around, but a second later she had emerged and she was standing in her hoop. She stumbled a bit, feeling a little bewildered. Hattie was clapping excitedly beside her.
“You did it!” she said, giving Molly a little hug.
Arthur was grinning on her other side, and Molly turned to him with a surprised smile.
“Did you see?” she asked. “Did you see me Apparate?”
“I did see,” Arthur said. “Well done, Molly.” He looked very proud of her. Molly hugged him, grinning so widely her face ached, and then turned back to hug Hattie again.
The next time she tried to Apparate, she found that the memory of the feeling of compression and black space made it easier to find that again, and she managed to Apparate twice more before something distracted her.
Arthur had been mostly watching her Apparate and listening to her describe to Hattie how it felt to step into the vacuum of empty space during Apparition, and shortly before the end of the class, he turned on the spot and disappeared. Molly had a brief moment of feeling that her heart had stopped, waiting for him to reappear safely and without splinching himself, before he appeared again inside his hoop. She let out her breath in a whoosh and flung her arms around him, then looked over her shoulder at a popping noise and saw Hattie reappearing in her hoop.
“Everyone’s Apparating except me,” Petula said ill-temperedly from behind her. “It’s not fair.”
“Sorry, Petula,” Molly said, trying not to grin.